The coffee urn theory of discourse.

You know the kind of coffee urn I'm talking about, right? Those big restaurant ones with the little clear glass tube on the outside that shows how full they are. That works because the tube and the main part of the urn are connected at the bottom in a kind of U, and because of that coffee stands to the same height both in the urn and in the tube. The urn could be big enough to hold an ocean of coffee and the coffee would still stand to the same height in the little tube. Liquid pressure equalizes the depth of the coffee in both.

To paraphrase (but not very much) the American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, controversy equalizes the foolish and the wise in the same way. And the fools know it.

This is a good thing to keep in mind when you watch the talking heads tomorrow morning blabber about the difference between “breach” and “overtop.” Or, for that matter, the difference between Dubya and Dubai.

You never have days like this. I know you don't. It's just me.

Things To Do stack up so fast I don't have time to even write them down. And every one of them comes with something else that has to Be Done First. All of which Makes Me Nutso.

But I copped out and bought a soup mix package which means I don't have to start cooking until OMG.

Ah. No. Twenty minutes I have. Maybe enough time to make a Thing To Done.

Oh well. What I am is pretty close to getting everything on the iMac brought back up, and I took a little detour yesterday evening to start renovating the World Headquarters which you can go visit any time you want, click on the Yet Another Media Empire sign in the sidebar, or back there. It's a work in progress, so it will change as we go along.

And it doesn't help that everybody else today is walking around in some kind of trance. I stopped at a McDonald's earlier in the day to treat a coffee emergency and the person ahead of me wanted to buy one of those cards they're selling, that occasioned a three-person conference behind the counter (remember when it used to be “fast” food?). In the grocery store I got behind a guy who couldn't decide between paper and plastic (finally settled on both).

Luckily the coffee I bought at the grocery store came in one of those cans you just rip the top off or I might never have made it through the afternoon.


Worst part done.

It was rip-it-all-out-and-start-over day. I hate it when stuff piles up. Well, not so much if it's real stuff - but on my computer it makes me craZy. Anyway they did some stuff at the shop that required a little changing around, softwarewise, so when would be a better time?

So now it's mostly just finding a couple of CDs (they must be around here someplace) and then sweeping up. And I can get back to this, which also needs some work (yeah I know).


Oh my. Word.

Yes, that may come as a shock. But I'm actually thinking about installing Word here. I think I can put it off, possibly, until Sunday but time is inexorably running out.

I do have Word, I just don't like having it on my computer is all. It's more satisfying to keep it there on the CD where it's safe and shiny. And it's surprisingly (well it may surprise you if you're a Word person) easy to get along without Word, even if you work with people who use it. But there comes a time when you're teaching classes in Word it becomes advantageous, if not particularly "useful" in a literal sort of way, to actually see it when you're planning a lesson. Just now and then. Hence. I might. But just until the end of June.

My iMac is back. They changed the logic board which broke my registration with iTunes and Audible, a situation now remedied, and otherwise it seems to be up and running like it should. Which, of course, I accept as a challenge. And since I have a three-day weekend coming up I'm thinking about wiping the disk and reinstalling everything from scratch (a process I think of as my nuclear housecleaning option). There really ought to be something clean around here and it might as well be my Mac. It sure ain't my socks. I should do something about that too, I guess. Tomorrow.

When it's supposed to snow. Which reminds me I forgot to say anything to my class this morning about the snow policy. So, if any of you happen to be reading this...we don't have one. Seeya then.

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Another installment in our ongoing series: what is it, exactly, conservatives are trying to conserve?

NASHVILLE -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recalled carrying a rifle around New York City as a youth and told the National Wild Turkey Federation's annual convention that outdoorsmen should attack the idea that guns are used only to commit crimes. An avid outdoorsman, Scalia said he was part of a rifle team at the military school he attended. "I used to travel on the subway from Queens to Manhattan with a rifle," he said. "Could you imagine doing that today in New York City?"
This from "news services," says the Washington Post.

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Just be glad he didn't bring his chainsaw.

Scotland on Sunday has obtained remarkable details of one of the most memorably bizarre episodes of the Bush presidency: the day he crashed into a Scottish police constable while cycling in the grounds of Gleneagles Hotel.
A dour bunch those Scots. Not used to the kind of non-stop entertainment we enjoy.
The official police incident report states: “[The unit] was requested to cover the road junction on the Auchterarder to Braco Road as the President of the USA, George Bush, was cycling through.” The report goes on: “[At] about 1800 hours the President approached the junction at speed on the bicycle. The road was damp at the time. As the President passed the junction at speed he raised his left arm from the handlebars to wave to the police officers present while shouting 'thanks, you guys, for coming'.

”As he did this he lost control of the cycle, falling to the ground, causing both himself and his bicycle to strike [the officer] on the lower legs. [The officer] fell to the ground, striking his head. The President continued along the ground for approximately five metres, causing himself a number of abrasions. The officers... then assisted both injured parties.“
Well, what the hell. You go to Scotland with the president you have. Don't have no choice about that.

Oh wait...you do?


I think I've finally come up with the invention that's going to make me rich.

LED tattoos. Think about it. Would that be cool or what?

I forgot to wear my wrist watch to work. And when I discovered that I flashed back on a conversation I had yesterday about tattoos, and thinking maybe I'd have a watch tattooed on my wrist. I mean what the hell, it'd be right twice a day and even that would be better than no watch at all. Am I right or what? And that's when it came to me. In all its glory. This idea.

LED tattoos. Think about it. I bet with an LED tattoo and a little microprocessor implant that sucker would keep perfect time. Or think about this - you could sell advertising space on your forehead. Or have one of those crawl signs like in Times Square that would flash pithy sayings, like "hey yo mama," or something like that. Or a :-) that changed to a :-(. Or you could go classic and have a snake that slithered up your arm.

Pretty amazing, huh? If you want a franchise let me know.

The future arrived and I almost missed it.

A few weeks ago I bought a nice, thick down jacket at a precipitously steep discount from a store that had clearly given up all hope of ever selling a jacket like that during a winter this warm. They were wrong. This morning it was cold. I wore the jacket to work.

I discovered it had a little pocket on the inside too small for even my iPod (although it would probably be fine for a Nano). Puzzled about it all the way to work. And then I had an inspiration, dropped the cel phone into it - perfect fit. I bought a jacket with a cel phone pocket. Who woulda thunk? So now I'm happy I have the phone. What else would I do with that pocket?

I hardly ever call anybody on my cel phone, except the blog once or twice. Which reminds me. I should to that again. Someday.

Oh fine. That's just wonderful.

Here it is, Monday morning, and my weather widget's broken. Are there no end to these technoproblems once they get started? Monday morning, I'm getting ready to leave for work, and my weather widget only has one digit. And it's a 2.

Surely it means twentysomething, but twentywhat? It couldn't be just 2, could it? Here? In February?



So here's a nifty question for you - if you eat barley with human genes are you a cannibal?

On its Web site, SemBioSys declares its plan to inject safflower with human genes to produce experimental insulin and a drug for heart attacks and strokes. WSU confirms that it plans to grow barley, injected with human genes, to produce artificial proteins with pharmaceutical properties. Where these fields will be is secret; nearby farmers and residents won’t be notified.
(Emphasis mine.) The problem, of course, as the Seattle PI notes, with this “biopharming” is its potential for contaminating food crops.
The National Academy of Sciences, a nongovernmental body of scientists and professionals, has warned in two reports that it’s virtually impossible to keep biopharms out of the food supply if food crops are used to grow them. Insects, birds, animals, wind, storms, trucks, trains and human error see to that.
Yum. And the Barley Commission (huh?) knows what that's about:
Washington’s Barley Commission is aware that WSU is biopharming barley and is strongly opposed. Administrator Mary Sullivan says, “Once those genetically altered genes are out there, there’ll be GMOs in the beer.”
Well, it'll be a boon to Country & Western songwriters, anway.

"Mama's in the cold cold ground and Grandma's in the beer."

You think the terrorists under your bed are scary? Bird flu? Mushroom clouds? High fructose corn syrup? Well wait until you read this.

Voices In Man's Head Make Great Point About Time Management

"It started with just a word here and there, like 'prioritize' or 'organize,'" Henschler said. "Soon, the voices started giving me more detailed instructions, compelling me to 'create a comprehensive chart, ranking action-taking steps in order of importance,' and 'set hard-and-fast deadlines.'"
And that's not all. There's more. Maybe you shouldn't read it after all.

I didn't get out to take a picture of the snow gauge today because it's covered up with snow.

It's not very much, a couple of inches at most. But we've had snow on the ground for almost a whole day now and it's getting old. Time to move on.

But I have to admit (here's looking at ya, weather gods) it was kind of fun for a while, when it was still coming down. In an annoying sort of way. People were out driving around like they'd never seen the stuff before - and these are New Englanders we're talking about here. Myself, personally, I figure the day I forget how to drive in snow is the day I might as well quit driving all together; it will be time.

I took my first drivers license test in Duluth, in the middle of the winter, so driving on snowy, slippery streets is where I started out. Not only is Duluth under snow most of the year, it's also built on a hill. Which means everywhere you want to go (or have to go, as the case may be) is either downhill or uphill from where you are. Which makes for some interesting driving situations. (And, I soon learned, also makes an exellent excuse for getting in late after a date.)

The few guys (very few guys) who owned cars in high school owned Jeeps with plows installed on the front and paid for them by plowing neighborhood driveways in the morning before school and towing guys up the hill in the evening, on their way home from work. There were times when that was the only way to get home - wait at the bottom of the hill for some kid with 4-wheel drive and a tow chain to come along. And fork over a buck.

It's driving on dry roads that's tricky - then, everybody else drives like a fool. But on snowy days the only fool on the road is usually just me.

The next time you encounter politicians raving about their love of democracy you might consider raving is pretty much all they're doing any more.

"Democracy" doesn't have much to do with Palm Beach County in Florida for example, not much at all if this Black Box Voting audit of the voting machines they used in 2004 means anything at all.
After investing over
$7,000 and waiting nine months for the records, Black Box Voting
discovered that the voting machine logs contained approximately 100,000
errors. According to voting machine assignment logs, Palm Beach County
used 4,313 machines in the Nov. 2004 election. During election day,
1,475 voting system calibrations were performed while the polls were
open, providing documentation to substantiate reports from citizens
indicating the wrong candidate was selected when they tried to vote.

Bev Harris at Black Box Voting is a true American hero. She's been on the voting machine case pretty much continuously since 2000. And what she's uncovered is an electoral system suffering from criminal neglect or worse, much worse.

Next time you have a few spare bucks in your jeans log on to Black Box Voting and send one or two of them to Bev. The politicians aren't going to do anything to clean this mess up; it's time we do.
Black Box Voting : 2-23-06: Someone accessed 40 Palm Beach County voting machines Nov 2004

(Aha. Two strikes on "Performancing.")

Hey here's something useful.

A database of tricks that will get you past those annoying telephone menus and connect you with an actual human at a whole long list of companies' "help" lines.

gethuman database

And if you have tricks of your own you can add them to the list. So there now. Something constructive to do on a cold winter day.

Yes you heard me. Cold. My widget says 12° at the moment, and the forecast says we won't be back above the freezing mark til Wednesday. Also there is snow on the ground, maybe two or three inches, hard to tell from this angle and I'm not going downstairs to actually stick my foot in it just for you. Take my word.

What happened to the pampering, weather gods?

OK, yeah, it's February. And we are in New England, after all. So it's true, I guess - we lucked out again. And it may be February but it's amost March. It does make a pretty grim contrast with those Carnival pictures, though.

In the meantime I am slowly recovering from a magnificently ugly software experience, 100% self-inflicted (but you can't learn anything until you've crashed a few times), and back to some semblance of technofacility at the moment. (Speaking of learning things I'm playing around with a Firefox extension called "Performancing" in writing this post. It has some nice features but none of them are spell checking, which is probably a deal breaker for me. I use Ecto for blogging on my in-the-shop machine and maybe I'll wind up putting that here too, or maybe I'll just make you suffer for a few days.

(I was about to say I'm suffering too but I'm not, really, except for the software woes which I brought upon myself. My little 12" PowerBook is still my nomination for the most nearly perfect computer ever built. And, now that I think of it, this built-into-Firefox solution is not a bad choice for a small screen like this.)