the pink tea cozy changes hands
for quite some time now, in fact, for as long as I can remember, orelia has been the reigning queen of cute but crazy at rivendell. the cute part goes without saying, and the crazy part, well, this is a family-oriented website so we won't go into that here. let's just say that no one cared to challenge orelia on the crazy part.
until yesterday, when, in a stunning upset victory, carolyn snatched the cute but crazy crown right off of orelia's head. (the crown is actually a pink tea cozy with a little bobble on top but it works nicely as a hat as well.) carolyn had come close to assuming the high office of CbC once before, when it became apparent that she considers sailing a full contact sport of the "you're not really having fun unless you end up with purple bruises on 80% of your body" variety. but orelia got to keep the crown because she agrees with carolyn on this point, um, minus the part about sailing.
the early rumblings of the coming CbC upset started yesterday morning when carolyn remarked "hey, that's kinda cool!" upon learning that the temperature outside was -11 F. she was not dissuaded from her enthusiasm for sub-zero temperatures by the more accurate description provided by one of her housemates: "it's not 'kinda cool,' carolyn, it's fscking cold."
rivendwellers gathered at the dressing/undressing station and boot storage zone in the front hallway yesterday afternoon to recount tales of courage and valor in the face of adversity, the personal experience of the archetypal struggle between (hu)man and nature. I, for example, walked all the way to the post office and the video store.
meanwhile, carolyn was in the kitchen cutting up vegetables in preparation for a camping trip.
like many people who are identifiably insane, carolyn had a whole list of reasons to justify her behavior. it's awesomely quiet in the woods this time of year. (that's because there are no living creatures wandering about in the woods this time of year, even squirrels and birds stay in their nests. also when every muscle in your face is flash frozen in place, no one can hear you scream because you can't scream.) matt just got a new sleeping bag for christmas and wants to try it out. (unfortunately, luke didn't bring any of those fluorescent orange survival suits back from antarctica -- it would have made it much easier to locate the bodies come spring.) it's really not that cold when you're hiking, and then you make dinner really quickly and get in the tent. (newsflash: it's not cold at all when you're inside watching movies and then have pizza delivered.)
carolyn concluded by confidently stating that it was going to get warmer over the weekend, up into the double digits even. alas, she had fallen under the sway of the great deceiver: yahoo weather. lest any of you be similarly deceived, let me reveal the true face of the beast. yahoo weather lies. it is the betrayer of hopes and dreams, the false prophet of the internet, a shiny golden website with electrons of clay. and yet I pay homage to it still, clicking the bookmark again and again in vain tribute.
it is currently -9 F in madison. but there's no wind, so it only feels like -9 F. meanwhile, yahoo weather predicts a low of +8 F and a high of +11 F for today.
if carolyn decides not to go camping after all, orelia gets to keep the tea cozy.
PS 9:52 AM
it's now a balmy 0 F and yahoo weather predicts a low of +10 F and a high of +13. caroline has left for her camping trip, but she says if they get really cold they're going to come back. does she get the CbC tea cozy of honor just for making the attempt, or does she have to give it back if she doesn't actually spend the night in a tent?
PPS 11:27 AM
the pink tea cozy is invisible.
I updated the instant friends page. (the downside of writing my own html and using el-cheapo web hosting is it's my fault when things don't get updated.) here's the long overdue tally of the responses to my query:
if jack kerouac were a color, he would be _____.
the modal response was black. in fact, only one of the people I polled or who responded via instant friends said anything other than black: that was nathan, he said blue. I gave nathan's vote extra weight because he has a mug with a caricature of jack kerouac on it and because he was listed as jack kerouac in the rivendell blackboard poll
if ______ were a famous writer, he/she would be ______.
but even with weighting nathan's vote disproportionately there's no hope for it: by popular declamation jack kerouac is black. the reasons varied but the responses did not: jack kerouac is black like a black beret; like a black turtleneck; like the fender of a new cadillac; like greased hair; also waldo the wonderlizard sez
Jack Kerouac is the color of tar. A dark, shiny, sheen like some greaser's haircut. The sticky texture that makes you dream of molasses licked out of a jar. The smell of Satan's aphrodisiac, dark, musky and sickening.
which is all well and good but it doesn't help me much, because the reason I asked the question is that one of my backburner writing/web projects explores the digital offspring of dadaist and beat writing techniques that use randomness as a source of inspiration and I'm looking for design ideas for a webpage tentatively titled "beat geek" that collects and discusses various computer programs and uses of the computer for random/artificial language generation.
I've been working on a project (nicknamed "beat geek" in my head) that uses the digital equivalents of dada/beat cut-up techniques and other forms of randomness in or artificial generation of language.
today I started annotating the links to related projects that I've found on the web. I'm not sure I'll stick with the name "beat geek" but as for the design, okay, black it is.
how to make a penguin vomit
orelia and I were hanging out at michelangelo's coffeshop yesterday evening, so we missed seeing the pictures and videos of carolyn's friend luke's trip to antarctica. he was part of a scientific team with two responsibilities: installing a new internet connection on an ice breaker and molesting innocent penguins for the advancement of science.
because I missed luke's presentation I can only you give the reader's digest version. according to bill, luke said:
antarctica is cold. humans in antarctica wear fluorescent orange survival suits. penguins are cute. humans in fluorescent orange survival suits are not cute. penguins are not afraid of humans, even uncute fluorescent orange ones. penguins like to be hugged. in order to calm a penguin down while it is being weighed and tagged someone wearing a fluorescent orange survival suit gives it a big squishy penguin hug. penguins do not like to drink salt water. penguins do not like being held upside down. to make a penguin vomit you force it to drink salt water and then hold it upside down. after a penguin vomits, the former contents of its stomach are collected and examined by grad students wearing fluorescent orange survival suits.
science marches on.
our first house meeting of the semester was merged with our post-holiday secret santa treasure hunt. andrea made a great dinner and we all squeezed in around the table in the dining room. we didn't do the usual meeting check-in, or if we did I missed it because I was upstairs folding the origami box that I made for andrea's present. so I'll just have to check every in myself this semester:
-5 F, wind 13 mph
crunchy nose hair weather.
thoughts from the dalai lama
last year my mother gave me a quote-of-the-day calendar featuring the words of the dalai lama, compiled from speeches and public addresses. over the year I tacked some of my favorites up on a bulletin board in my room. now I'm tacking them up on my website. excerpted excerpts:
flotsam, part I
started this right after I got back to madison on 7 january. I kept hoping it would get funnier.
I'm going to settle for it getting finished.
. . . .
okay, it's a little bit funnier and a lot more finished.
now that I'm back in madison my new year has finally begun. the annnal solstice tour de relatives (19.12.03 - 07.01.04 this year) is an ellipsis at the end of the year, a period of time that is deleted from my normal existence and inserted into a different narrative, a different text.
the featureless winter sky outside my window casts a weak gray light. the sky looks dirty, like the old snow that clings to the ground, defeated, long past the memory of falling. the accumulated layers of dirt on the glass and the layer of plastic on the inside of the window filter the light in turn, gray upon gray.
but the solar cycle has turned, surely if imperceptibly, and I mark the turning with my annual ritual: new year's resolutions. like many rituals, paradox wavers just below the surface of this simple activity. on the one hand, the new year is a new beginning, a time to look forward into a brighter and better future. new year's resolutions project a brighter, better self into that future, rooted in a belief in the ultimate perfectablity of the human enterprise.
on the other hand, the process of making resolutions typically starts with a review of the most wince-worthy events of the past year, just to make sure that you won't be repeating them again this year followed by the creation of long sprawling list of inadequacies, personal failings and character flaws, all of which you resolve to eliminate in the coming year. making resolutions turns out to be a combined exercise in optimism and self-abuse. inexplicably, bill considers this a reason not to make any in the first place.
I have made new year's resolutions every year for as long as I can remember, although I can no longer remember what those resolutions were for the most part. for many years "keep my room clean" was my flagship resolution, I'm happy to report this is no longer necessary. entropy continues to maximize itself quite relentlessly in my vicinity but over the years I've gained the upper hand. it's still a constant battle against the invisible forces of disorder, I just win most of the time.
for several years now my new's year resolutions have consisted of small, observable and achievable goals, a strategy heartily endorsed by the women's magazines I read at the gym and the doctor's office. in fact, I might have taken it too far last year: I made only two resolutions, both of the small-observable-achievable ilk.
1) write every day.
I abandoned the first sometime over the summer, I stuck with the second all the way through. I'm still batting .500, but it's a bit of a shame about the first one, which produced two blog entries that I'm fond of: 12.01.03 and 09.02.03. (I gave it up when I was spending so much time writing everyday that the occasional day off seemed inconsequential.)
this year's resolving produced a disorganized assortment of small-observable-achievable-goals, projects-to-start-and/or-finish, lifestyle-changes and character-flaws-to-be-remedied. I've made myself a handy chart to keep track of my progress, at least between 09.01 and 22.01, and I'm moving right along with this year's small-observable-achievable-goals, and last year's as well:
1) write every day.
the projects-to-start-and/or-finish category includes building the potato palace, keeping my website up-to-date and writing a will and last email testament; lifestyle-changes include the usual suspects, exercising more and eating less; and as for character-flaws-to-be-remedied, well, let's just say it's a long list and leave it at that.
according to a poll taken by marist college, which I read about in the paper on new year's day, 34% of americans joined me in making resolutions. the number one resolution was "get a better job," chosen by 15% of the respondents, narrowly edging out "be a better person," also chosen by approximately 15% of the respondents.
I couldn't find the original newspaper article online, though there were numerous clones conveying the same information. when I looked up the actual poll results I found that the articles only told part of the story. I normally despise discussions of the women-are-from-venus-men-are-from-mars ilk, but I think the most striking feature in the table below is disparity in the resolutions made by men and women, a fact overlooked or ommitted in all the articles I read. the distribution of the top two replies is bimodal by gender: men overwhelmingly chose "get a better job" while women chose "be a better person." in fact, as the table below shows, there is almost no overlap between the resolutions made by men and women, with the exception of "stop smoking" and "exercise more" which appear on the list for women 18-34.
Top Three Resolutions
I'm still wondering about the 22% of women who answered "be a better person" to an open-ended survey question. you'd think they'd know better than to set such lofty but vague goals for themselves. clearly, they haven't spent enough time reading women's magazines. but maybe I'm just not seeing the bigger picture. maybe they've already translated that aspiration into small, observable and achievable goals.
like flossing. and taking calcium supplements.
radio silence on planet ann
half finished entries lurk on my hard drive, half finished thoughts mutter through my neural net. moving forward on the assumption that something is better than nothing, after 25 days of blog blackout.
it took me an hour to vacuum the 10' x 20' area rug in my room this morning, most of it spent doing vacuum cleaner repair and maintenance. yuk. that's all I have to say about that.
wilma, my trusty G3 powerbook, has a new keyboard. the old keyboard never really recovered from me dumping a beer on it two summers ago. (note to self: don't drink and type) the new one is the same spiffy bronze color but it has japanese characters alongside the roman alphabet and a few extra keys as well. the characters and punctuation marks are all in the same place they were before, though not according to the keyboard. not much of a problem, except for ( and ) which have moved over one key from 9 and 0 to 8 and 9, I don't look at the keys much when I type, but the occasional peripheral glance has me starting my parenthetical remarks with * and backspacing to undo errors that I haven't actually made. the extra keys don't do anything either. haven't figured out how to reassign individual keys in OS X, or even if it's possible. didn't need that tilde anyway.
another upgrade for wilma: an airport card and base station in the room. I can receive email and surf the web when sitting on the couch or when I'm trying to write at the hidden desk near the window, which is a good thing because, really, I haven't been spending enough time checking my email and surfing the web. it's comforting to know that I can no longer escape the internet by retreating to the other desk, or even to another room in the house.
still no snow in madison. yesterday I went ice skating with orelia and jason. that's it for the update. the rest of the unfinished mental flotsam and jetsam should be floating along any day now.
found in the kitchen
a napkin with this written on it:
The O monster hath landed, learned, and will be unstoppable.
found on slashdot
"This is all theory and in theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. But in practice there is."
entries from 12.03