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November 2004 Archives

November 1, 2004

Proposition Hell

I had a hard time going through all these propositions. parakkum's entry inspired me to finally bite the bullet and work through how I was going to vote on each. I decided to post my recorded thoughts here because, the fact is, these propositions were complicated, and I could be swayed by a well-reasoned argument on some of these.

1A (No): Ensures local property tax and sales tax revenues remain with local government thereby safeguarding funding for public safety, health, libraries, parks, and other local services. I'm voting no, mainly because California suffers from enough bureaucratic hoops when it comes to how money is spent and where it comes from.

59 (Yes): Public Records. Open Meetings I like the openness principle this law embraces, so yes.

60 (Yes): Election Rights of Political Parties This pretty much sounds like a restatement of primary principles. While I think our election process in this country is flawed, 60 sounds better than the other proposals.

60A (No): Surplus Property This is a hard one. It's such a narrow way to pay off our debt because it only targets one very small source of income (2-3 orders of magnitude less than the debt it attempts to repay), and by making that source of income unusable, I don't think it will have much effect. I'm voting no, as I don't think the payoff is worth having this on the books. BTW - why the hell is this 60A? Were they afraid of running out of numbers?

61 (Yes): Children's Hospital Projects I agree with parakkum that this doesn't address the real problems with child healthcare (mainly that many are not covered), but I still support throwing money at structural needs in the hopes that they may secondarily address the overarching problem.

62 (No): Open Primaries A whole-hearted no

63 (Yes): Mental Health Services Expansion and Funding. Tax on Incomes over $1 Million. Initiative Statute Sure, why not. I don't make $1M ;). On a more serious note, California could really use better mental health services.

64 (No): Limits on Private Enforcement of Unfair Business Competition Laws I'm voting no, mainly because it seems like it would help companies pollute more easily and engage in other forms of bad behavior that don't necessarily constitute monetary damage.

65 (No): Local Government Funds and Revenues I'm voting no (as I'm voting no on 1A as well)

66 (Yes): Limitations on "Three Strikes" Law I'm voting yes, as I'm against mandatory sentencing guidelines. The US incarcerates an absurd number of people, and has very little to show for it in terms of public safety other than massive costs that take away money for more useful measures.

67 (Yes): Emergency and Medical Services I'm voting yes on this. Emergency medical is hugely expensive, especially in California, where we allow companies to abuse illegal immigrants, in effect creating a large workforce without any medical coverage (but often in need of it). It will also help community clinics, which will improve the overall health of the community, which is good for everyone.

68 (No): Tribal Gaming Compact Renegotiation I hate all these Indian casino propositions. I don't think they should be on the ballot they're so stupid.

69 (No): DNA Samples I'm not necessarily against collecting DNA samples from felons, but I think this particular proposal does not contain the proper balance necessary between privacy and public safety.

70 (No): Tribal Gaming Compacts. Exclusive Gaming Rights. Contributions to State (see 68)

71 (Yes): Stem Cell Research. Funding. Bonds I'm going to go against parrakum, man of bio that he is, perhaps because I've been reading Castells recently. The IT boom emanated from California due to a convergence of many factors, including strong public funding to promote growth of that industry here. This boom produced obvious benefits for California, though the bust had its problems as well. I think the factors that were present in California for the IT boom (strong university tie-ins, public funding, culture) are present for a boom around stem cell research as well, and I would like to keep California on the cutting edge of scientific and technological breakthroughs. I'm voting yes (because I also don't think stem cell research is evil, though it does have to walk a careful moral and ethical line).

72 (Yes): Health Care Coverage Requirements I agree with parakkum here. The businesses that California wants to keep (e.g. high tech) already offer health insurance, and the ones that don't offer health insurance (grocery stores, Walmart, etc...) can't leave. Good health helps everyone.

Castro Halloween pics

fireI posted some of my Castro Street Halloween pics to my Flickr. You can witness the massive crowds, ln m's Incredible teammates, and tranquility. However, I think the best costume prize has to go to Team America -- they had the whole squad, even Kim Jong Il.

I have to say, given all the stories involving stabbings and puke and other bodily functions associated with Castro Halloween, things were pretty tame, though really crowded. I hear that the city took over control, and if so I guess I'll never get to witness the true splendor :).

November 2, 2004

Prognostications

11-02-04.kerry.bush.baseball.jpg

Kerry's got the No Hope (via espn frontpage)

Remember your envelope

I voted today... twice. Well, not really, but it was complicated.

I took in my absentee ballot to the polling place so I could vote on the paper-trail-less touchscreens. I must be the only person in history to do this because they looked at the absentee ballot in my hand as I handed it to them with utter perplexation.

"You're registered to vote absentee," the kind old lady says.

"I know, here is my absentee ballot. I want to vote on the machines instead," I replied.

"You need an envelope for that," she points out to me.

"No, I want to vote on the machines," I remind her.

She processes this in her head a little more and decides its beyond her training. "Todd, can you come here. This man here wants to turn in his absentee ballot and vote on the machines," she calls out.

"You need an envelope for that," Todd tells me.

"No, I want to turn this in and vote on the machines," I repeat to Todd.

Todd takes my absentee ballot into his hands, still perplexed that there it's not sealed inside a blue envelope. "Where is the envelope for this?" he asks.

"I don't know. I'm turning in the ballot anyway so I can vote on the machines instead," I remind him.

"You can give him a new envelope," another poll worker calls out.

"I'm not voting absentee, I'm voting on the machines," I say, yet again.

Luckily, a young teenage volunteer comes to my aide and explains to Todd to complex process of writing "Surrendered" on my ballot, and at long last I receive my smartcard to go vote, and I did... twice.

Today's playlist

Feel free to contribute and keep me angry today:

"Fortunate Son"
"Rockin' in the Free World"
"The Times They Are A-Changing"
"Star Spangled Banner" ala Hendrix
"Imagine"
"Born in the USA"
"Ohio"
"Take the Power Back"
"Old Mother Reagan"
"Masters of War"
"Mosh"
"War Within a Breath"

Missing mp3s: "Know Your Rights", "Revolution"

Update:
"For What It's Worth"
"If I Rule the World"

Update 2 (per pqbon's comments):
"Man in Black"
"Freedom"
"Know Your Enemy"
"Anarchy in the UK"
"Killing in the Name"
"The Ballad of Ira Hayes"

Are they closed yet?

Are they closed yet?

electoral map

Are they closed yet?

optimus

Are they closed yet?

vote error

Are they closed yet?

George W. Bush, you make me sick

When I got home tonight, after watching the disasterous election returns, I threw up. Prior to now, I didn't think that it was really possible to vomit on the basis of a purely emotional/psychological reaction -- it's certainly never happened before. The thought that we could have four more years of this, all because people would rather stick with the devil they know, is mind-boggling, and sickening (literally).

So, yes, George W. Bush, you make me sick. I puke in your general direction.

November 3, 2004

Losing big

  • Same sex marriage bans passed in 11 states. These voting measures were used to encourage Republican turnout.
  • The Democrats did so badly that the Senate Minority Leader was booted from office
  • Republicans will have a either 54 or 55 seats in the Senate, meaning that Bush will probably get whatever he wants.
  • Quoting mefi:

    Senator-elect Jim DeMint: Thinks that unwed pregnant women and gays are unfit to be schoolteachers.
    Senator-elect Tom Coburn: Wants the death penalty for abortion doctors.
    Senator-elect John Thune: Mr. School Prayer Amendment.

And in California: * Three Strikes reform loses * Emergency medical care funding loses * DNA database expansion passes. Now you don't have to even be guilty for the state to keep your DNA on file.

A little bit of hope: * Stem cell research funding passes * Children's hospital funding passes * Mental health care funding passes * Is it too early to put up Obama for Prez signs?

The people over at BoingBoing got my back

vote stickers

MT + S5 = No more Powerpoint

bp showed me S5 today, a tool that Eric Meyer has been working on that allows you to do presentations in a Web browser that feel very much like a Powerpoint presentation. bp knew about a presentation I had done awhile back using MovableType as the presentation tool and suggested that a meeting of the two (MovableType + S5) might be in order using MT's category archive templates.

The old idea (just MovableType): * each blog entry is a slide * each presentation is tied to a category * links at the top of each slide advance you from one slide to the next

The new idea (MovableType + S5): * each blog entry is a slide * each presentation is tied to a category * each slide is formatted using CSS to look like an actual presentation slide * you can use the arrow keys to advance between slides * there are alternate presentation formats for printing, handouts, etc...

I coded it up and it was remarkably simple. The category archive template is straightforward (much cleaner than most MT templates), and you can see the results over on my presentations blog.

It's still a work in progress. I have to work out issues like commenting, RSS feeds, and some layout issues, but for the general functionality is there. For extra goodness you can throw in Markdown to make it easier to do bullets and font sizes.

I'm in a hurry right now, so I'll post more details on it later, but for now, feel free to leave comments/questions/suggestions.

November 4, 2004

Book: America

book image

I just finished America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. I like the idea of the book -- a satire of American high school textbooks -- and it definitely provided its worth in entertainment. However, the nature of the satire -- an American high school textbook -- is an extremely rigid framework that makes it difficult to keep the jokes high quality. Every margin has to be filled with joke figures, polls, and "Where you aware" one-liners. The jokes in the text have to keep pace with the brevity and summarizing of textbooks. It is constant humor, rather than great humor.

I won't spoil the jokes in the book, save one, which has probably been told elsewhere anyway:

Discussion Question #1: If "con" is the opposite of "pro," then isn't Congress the opposite of progress?

Reaching out

"I'll reach out to everyone who shares our goals" -- George W. Bush, November 4, 2004

November 5, 2004

Most systems go

Reinstalled everything last night, took a bit longer to get everything up and running than I planned. If you notice any problems, please let me know. The main problem I have noticed is that TypeKey logins no longer work, though this started happening when I upgraded MovableType awhile back.

And I thought I was going krazy...

Those of you who watched at sa's place know that I spent the evening obsessively reloading all the different vote tallies, exit polls, etc... At one point in the evening, I noticed that the exit polls CNN used (which they didn't display until AFTER the polls have closed) seemed to shift from Kerry to Bush. I thought that maybe I had just remembered the tallies incorrectly, but, lucky for me, someone got screenshots of this. I don't see this as a controversy as much as a basic, "Why did they bother?"

November 6, 2004

Movie: The Incredibles

The Incredibles is awesome. The only common complaint I heard: it was too hard to hear certain parts because people were laughing. It's a wonderful homage to the Fantastic Four with a touch of James Bond super villain-ry, and there's plenty of action, comedy, characters, and story to carry you through.

My favorite character by far was Edna Mode, but I still can't believe it was Brad Bird doing her voice.

November 10, 2004

Visited counties map

In an attempt to outdo my visited states and my visited countries map, I now present to you, my visited counties map:

11-10-04.visitedcounties2.gif

I'll admit that I was inspired by ps's visited counties map, which is both cooler for the amount of coverage as well as the color-coding indicated the time period. I've elected to use a three-color scheme: yellow for drive-by visiting, orange to indicate that I actually did something there (other than pee at a McDonald's), and red to indicate a tie to that particular area (visited multiple times, family, live(d) there, etc...).

I'm still missing a line connecting San Antonio to Raleigh via Baton Rouge, and a line connecting Atlanta and Orlando. For both lines I can't recall which route was used. There are also some missing counties here and there that I'll get to when I have energy to spend on this again.

Update: with the help of my dad I was able to resolve some more routes. This is 99% complete now.

Update 2: to all those who stumble across this entry and wish to undertake this giant task, I highly recommend downloading a free trial of Keyhole, which will allow you to pull up highway and county boundary data -- it makes it a lot easier to figure out where you've been. You might also find NACO county maps useful for matching up the Keyhole data to an overall picture, and last but not least, you can get blank maps to fill in from Christopher Swindle.

F- you Apple

My iPod battery is going dead after one year of service. It lasts about two hours now.

Book: Me Talk Pretty One Day and Holidays on Ice

book image

I just finished reading Me Talk Pretty One Day and Holidays on Ice while downing caffeine at Cafe Borrone. I had read through Me Talk and decided that I hadn't read enough Sedaris for one day, so I walked over to Kepler's and bought Holidays and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, the latter which I am hoping to hold off on when I am in need of a humor fix.

Needless to say, I enjoyed Me Talk Pretty One Day. Meta had read me one of the passages involving Sedaris' sister Amy and it cracked me up. Reading it again it was even more funny, as the build-up to it was hilarious as well. The essays varied between mildly humorous and laugh-out-loud funny, though it seemed that the presence of Amy was concentrated in the latter category.

Holidays on Ice wasn't as good, but it did give me a couple of laughs over my bowl of soup. It was more satirical rather than pseudo-autobiographical, and personally I find his anecdotal stories more humorous and better paced.

I transcribed a couple of passages I liked, but the essays are short enough that you're probably better off picking up a copy and reading them one-by-one as you please.

Continue reading "Book: Me Talk Pretty One Day and Holidays on Ice" »

November 11, 2004

More on the visited counties map

Update: to all those who stumble across this entry and wish to undertake this giant task, ignore most of what's below (except to download the blank maps and whatnot) and instead download a free trial of Keyhole, which will allow you to pull up highway and county boundary data. I recommend this over the NACO maps and other sites suggested below.

I don't really recommend doing a visited counties map unless you're a map dork like me and have photoshop+a lot of time, but in case you do, here are the resources that helped me along.

Christopher Swindle deserves first billing for providing maps to color in and links to various resources. This should be your first stop.

World Atlas does a pretty good job of linking to various map resources on other sites, indexed by states. NACO has county maps for all fifty states and will also list the county seat (often the city that you are looking for). Virginia DOT and Texas DOT have good interactive tools, and North Carolina DOT, Connecticut DOT, and Arizona TPD provide descent maps.

If all else fails, you can enter in the driving route on Mapquest and slowly pan. At the correct zoom level it will show you county line markings and names.

Finally, you can checkout del.icio.us/nowhun/gis, which is a full list of the resources I used to compile my maps.

To demonstrate that I'm not the only map dork out there, I've included an IM conversation in the extended entry.

Continue reading "More on the visited counties map" »

November 12, 2004

More Incredibles

First note: The Incredibles was good the second time around as well. Can't wait for that to come out on DVD.

Second note: It was amusing the listen to Sarah Vowell, voice of Violet, on This American Life talking about her father and guns.

November 14, 2004

Book: The Future of Ideas

book image

I've always been interested in Lawrence Lessig's writings on the web as well as his work with the Creative Commons, but I hadn't actually taken the time to read his books. Also, I forgetfully missed his PARC forum, but one of these days I will get around to watching the video. At long last, though, I've read The Future of Ideas, just in time for me to read Free Culture, which he has made available freely.

If you've been following the battles over DRM, open source, DMCA, etc... you've probably already heard many of the arguments that are presented by this book, but I appreciated the manner in which Lessig so clearly breaks apart issues, categorizing and framing them so that see them each more clearly. Also, much like introductory economics courses, he provides terminology (like "rivalrous" and "imperfectly excludable") for common sense notions, which aides in discussion.

Continue reading "Book: The Future of Ideas" »

Housing hunt

As I re-enter the housing market looking for a place to live, I am buoyed by the fact that it could be worse. I located an old entry in my paper journal that details just how bad it can be, in excruciatingly anal detail.

Saturday

Thanks and congrats to rcp -- congrats for finishing the GREs, and thanks for throwing a party to celebrate. Stephen's got quite the falsetto when it comes to karaoke...

November 17, 2004

Never learn

[click for PVP comic](http://www.pvponline.com/archive/2004/pvp20041116.gif)

After watching the new Star Wars trailer (who knew Alec Guinness would be in Episode IV?) and listening to the thunderous applause, I turned to zealot and said, "They saw the first two and they're still cheering."

Never learn II

They're never on our side, are they: TiVo Will No Longer Skip Past Advertisers

Mix tape 1

  1. Looky Looky Yonder - Leadbelly
  2. Rusty Cage - Soundgarden/Johnny Cash
  3. We're Going to Be Friends - The White Stripes
  4. Supernova - Liz Phair
  5. Heroes - David Bowie
  6. All Tomorrow's Parties - The Velvet Underground
  7. Summer Babe (Winter Version) - Pavement
  8. Where Is My Mind? - The Pixies
  9. Boogie Chillen - John Lee Hooker
  10. Let the Good Times Roll - B.B. King
  11. Hound Dog - Big Mama Thornton
  12. Screenwriter's Blues - Soul Coughing
  13. That Day - Poe
  14. Summertime - Doc & Merle Watson
  15. Malaguena Salerosa - Chingon
  16. If I Ruled the World - Tony Bennett

Mix tape 2

  1. Signe - Eric Clapton
  2. My Friends - Red Hot Chili Peppers
  3. Malted Milk - Robert Johnson
  4. The Needle and the Damage Done - Neil Young
  5. Fault Lines - Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  6. Poems For Byzantium - Delerium
  7. So Fresh, So Clean - Outkast
  8. Sarangi - Hooverphonic
  9. Tweaker - Girls Against Boys
  10. Trip My Wire - Garbage
  11. Hip-Hop - Dead Prez
  12. Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  13. Bonaparte's Retreat - Doc & Merle Watson
  14. There There - Radiohead
  15. Voice of the Voiceless - Rage Against the Machine
  16. I Held Her in My Arms - Violent Femmes
  17. Black Jack Davey - The White Stripes
  18. Hard To Imagine - Pearl Jam
  19. Fall in the Light [with Lori Carson] - Graeme Revell
  20. Sent for You Yesterday and Here You Come Today - Jimmy Rushing and Count Basie's Orchestra

November 18, 2004

Such a fool

I've been playing around with the Keyhole, which Google recently bought and is offering a free seven-day trial for. If only I had started playing with the trial when I first heard about this, I would have saved myself a lot of time and effort. It lets you easily overlay highway and county lines, which would have saved me hours when I was putting together my county map.

I'll probably shell out for the software, though some things don't impress me. It's address lookup is terrible, only working on about 10% of the addresses I enter, and very finicky, too, as it sometimes only finds the address if you leave off the road/drive/street designation. It also doesn't come with any soft of tracklog integration with a GPS unit, though if you're a hacker you can get some conversion scripts to run yourself.

The one feature that sold me on the software was when I scanned over Yosemite park and switch into a 3D perspective. I could make out the whole Yosemite valley, and each of the campgrounds/landmarks was well designated.

Granted, this is essentially the same software as the free earthviewer that Nvidia had put online, but it comes with the extra features necessary for using it as an actual tool.

November 19, 2004

Notes: Episodic memory

Most of the talk isn't relevant here, so I'm only including the brief background notes, mainly because I had not heard of utile memory before.

Continue reading "Notes: Episodic memory" »

November 21, 2004

Book: Hocus Pocus

book image

I'm trying to burst through my reading backlog in an attempt to catch-up before a large Amazon order arrives with more books. Hocus Pocus made it into the queue because I've been meaning to read some more Vonnegut, and, besides, according to this test my book personality is Cat's Cradle.

Hocus Pocus brings my own Vonnegut reading into more current times, with the Vietnam War legacy, the American prison system, race relations, infidelity, religion, and selling of America all entering Vonnegut's blender. It's hard for me to find it as sharp as Slaughterhouse Five or Cat's Cradle, but the first exposure always feels brighter and this was an entertaining read in its own right.

Quotes in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Book: Hocus Pocus" »

Book: Art of the Incredibles

book image

Thanks to honeyfields for letting me borrow this. It was fun reading this because it not only showed the concept art in the evolution of the character design (I never realized Edna Mode is half-Japanese), it also revealed evolution in the story design. Tony Fucile, Lou Romano, and Teddy Newton did a great job giving this movie a proper retro-feel that carried into the final movie renderings. Given my inability to draw humans or understand color, though, I think Scott Caple's B&W vehicle and building renderings are the drawings I would most want to imitate (and what engineer doesn't want to be able to draw all his/her fanciful vehicle creations?).

The color script foldout with Lou Romano's art is beautiful: in addition to being a nice piece of art, it's also a great multivariate graphical display displaying palette, character design, film summary, and visual style. I especially liked the coloring in The Incredibles, and I liked being able to see their palette choices so perfectly summarized. With all the merchandising surrounding this film, I hope they sell this as a poster somewhere.

November 22, 2004

Yellow's not invisible

Being someone who knows what these "invisible" dots are (in general, not in this specific case), I thought I'd note that they're not "invisible to the naked eye." They're better described as "Little. Yellow. Different." They are dots printed in yellow, when viewed on white paper, are difficult, but not impossible to see. Also, they show up quite well under the right types of light.

If you don't have a color laser handy, you can get a general idea of the concept if you look at recent dollars (i.e. newest $20) and (IIRC) euros. Both have yellow printing on the back that, when scanned in, identifies the image as currency to the scanning program. Each bill has its own unique "constellation." The hiding effect isn't as pronounced on currency, though, as the intent is mainly to make it easy for a copier to pull out the pattern using the appropriate filter.

Government Uses Color Laser Printer Technology to Track Documents

November 23, 2004

Hope-ful Thanksgiving

Apologies for the bad title pun, but parakkum and I just signed the lease for a townhouse on Hope Street (so long No Hope! The Curse is over!), about a block away from Dana Street Coffee. This location does present some problems, as the close proximity to my favorite caffeine dispensary may result in permanent tremors, and the close proximity to both new and used bookstores will leave me in literate poverty. Thankfully, the new Scientology center down the street can provide me with daily e-meter readings so as to correct any imbalances.

If you're hanging out on Castro Street in MV, give us a buzz.

I'm leaving tomorrow to visit my Aunt and Uncle. I shall return on Monday with photos from the Renoir to Matisse exhibit at LACMA and the USC/Notre Dame homecoming game -- my first USC home game, I'm looking forward to it.

Okinawa

beachmefi posted a bunch of Okinawa links, so if you're interested in the small island where I spent my formative middle school years, check out the mefi post or checkout my del.icio.us/nowhun/okinawa listing. I found the beach photo you see here on one of the linked pages, and I chose it for this entry because it most closely resembled what I remember the beaches being like.

November 26, 2004

LACMA fun

I went with my Aunt and Uncle to see the "Renoir to Matisse: The Eye of Duncan Phillips" exhibit at LACMA over my Thanksgiving weekend. While I enjoyed the exhibit, I think I would have enjoyed it more if the title wasn't such a misnomer; it should have been titled "A Renoir to A Matisse, with stuff inbetween," as the exhibit only featured one painting each of its headline artists. If they used a more accurate title they might have also charged less and it would have been less crowded.

The Renoir was quite good, but the Matisse was not one of my favorites (I'm much more fond of the Red Fish from the Pushkin exhibit that LACMA held). There were several Van Gogh paintings that I liked (all three from the last two years of his life), including one of a grass field that I appreciated for the way it changed under different distances of viewing. There were two Klees that I liked as well (and two I didn't like), which is unusual given that, in general, I've never liked his stuff. Also in the collection was a Degas dancers painting that I liked much more than the ones at the Norton Simon.

After we finished the exhibit we wandered into the permanent collection, where they had displayed some Gaugins, Renoirs, and Cezannes that I had missed in my previous visit. In some ways, these were more interesting than the ones in the Duncan Philips exhibit, as some of them were outside their typical style (at least in my experience); there were also more of them than in the Phillips exhibit. I also took another look at the de La Tour Magdalen with the Smoking Flame painting to get some closer shots.

I've posted a photo gallery of the entire experience (only the first twelve are from the Duncan Philips exhibit, the rest are from the permanent collection). With some of the paintings I was diligent enough to snap a photo of the placard, but within the actual Renoir-Matisse exhibit photos "weren't allowed," so the need to be discrete overrode documentation.

November 28, 2004

USC/Notre Dame Homecoming

photo

ND  7  3  0  0 10
USC 3 14 10 14 41

I got to watch USC beat the crap out of Notre Dame for their homecoming. It was my first USC home game, and it was a whole lot more fun watching a game there than it is at Stanford, even if it was pouring rain on us most of the game. There's just a whole lot more going on when you go to a USC home game than there at Stanford.

It was a typical Pete Carroll game: USC looked terrible in the first quarter and a half, completely unable to stop the Notre Dame running game, then they made some adjustments and completely unloaded on Notre Dame. Leinhart racked up 5 TDs/400 yards, Reggie Bush had a great cut that lead to a 70 yard touchdown, Jarrett got a couple, Smith got one in his return from a broken leg, and a fake punt with seven minutes remaining got the Notre Dame staff pissed off as USC was already up 34-10 (and soon went to 41-10 afterwards).

Continue reading "USC/Notre Dame Homecoming" »

Thanksgiving

I had a great Thanksgiving. As I am prone to do, I will be backposting entries describing some of the things I did in more detail, but, in summary, I got to do nearly everything I consider worthwhile: spending time with family, eat lots of mashed potatoes, looking at Impressionist and Modern paintings, watching USC beat up Notre Dame 41-10, reading, and taking lots of photos.

As it often occurs with my reading, there were many coincidences surrounding my reading choices. I have been reading Umberto Eco's Travels in Hyperreality, which is a series of essays that indirectly reveals some of the genesis of Foucault's Pendulum. My aunt, out of the blue, handed me The Da Vinci Code, which is, in many ways, a light/pop version of Foucault's Pendulum. As we discussed The Da Vinci Code, she brought up the Glendale/Forest Lawn Cemetary, which has a stained-glass rendition of The Last Supper. This rendition, as well as the cemetary in general, are directly discussed in Travels in Hyperreality. In a bunch of clippings she was keeping with The Da Vinci Code, she also had a clipping with a photo of the glass Last Supper, which made the Eco essay easier to understand. All-in-all, it was a convergence that made the material easier to appreciate, though my paranoia wonders why these convergences so frequently center around the Templars.

I didn't have time to visit the cemetary on this trip, but there will be future opportunities.

November 29, 2004

Jolene on iTMS

The White Stripes' cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" is available on iTunes, which is nice, as the version on the "Hello Operator" LP single runs about $40 if you can find it. The iTunes version is from their upcoming Under Blackpool Lights DVD. You can check out streaming video versions at MTV.com.

November 30, 2004

Flickr stuff

I'm still loving Flickr, even though I haven't put it to much use yet. I think my main barrier right now is that by the time I've imported the photos into Photoshop Album and tagged them, it's hard to repeat those same efforts for yet another piece of software (I'm not alone with the particular bit of annoyance).

On the other side, there is a lot of grassroots development around Flickr that's leading to some cool tools that might encourage me to go the expend the extra effort. There's a Flickr screensaver for Windows (Mac users can use more recent versions of 1001). You can also embed your Flickr photosets into your blog using the Flickr plugin for MovableType. Seeing as the MT-Gallery plugins are still rather poor, the Flickr plugin might provide a better way of integrating blogging and mass photo-sharing.

Blog widgets

Widgets got a rebirth with Konfabulator, Apple will soon have Dashboard, and soon there'll be Konfabulator for Windows to go along with some of the imitators.

Now there are widgets for blogs, based on the Laszlo infrastructure (flash-based). The Blogbox widgets are a bit sparse right now, and they seem absurdly difficult for the average blog user to customize, but there does seem to be a little bit of promise contained within.

The current set of "blox"es aren't particular interesting to me. It's hard for me to see the extra value in having a flashy weather app on your blog (in comparison to the javascipt-based weather listings). They do provide the ability to condense content, e.g. taking a long list of links or photos and presenting them within a single, small box, but it would be more interesting for me if the bloxes were enabling a new behavior for visitors of your Web site, e.g. a common IM space for people visiting your site, or if they provided additional insight into the content of your Web site, e.g. visualizations. I'll have to wait and see what sort of widgets they come up with next.

konfabulated

Thanks to Paul's comment I'm now trying out the Windows version of Konfabulator. I'm very happy as I've been waiting for this for a long time. Thus far, it seems like they've done a really good job with the port, though the widgets do seem a little out of place with the Windows look and feel (but really, would you want it to match?). I've tried a lot of the Windows Konfabulator imitators and none of them had the polish of the original, so it's great that I can't really tell any differences between this port and the original.

The Windows version does have some serious issues with iEx, so I've had to shut the latter down (which is fine, because Konfabulator will likely be more useful).