« September 2005 | October 2005 | November 2005 »

October 31, 2005

Back in Palo Alto for Halloween

Palo Alto Halloween

Posted by tplambeck at 07:59 PM

October 29, 2005

Cookies for Integers Conference


Posted by tplambeck at 12:03 PM

October 26, 2005

Carrollton, GA

0) I flew to Atlanta this morning for this math conference that starts tomorrow, in Carrollton, at the University of West Georgia, 50 miles west of Atlanta.

1) Western Georgia has lots of churches with pointy steeples.

2) Dinner at the Maple Street Mansion, not far from the University campus. Chipotle chicken sandwich.

3) Pulled over by two local police cruisers—they thought my brake lights were out. In fact, my headlights weren't even on. I was in the midst of bafflement with the mysterious transmission on the Suburu Outback that Hertz rented to me. It's not manual transmission, yet seems the stick shift seems to require nudging to shift into a higher gear. Is this what "tiptronic" means?

Posted by tplambeck at 07:20 PM

October 24, 2005

Streamlining the 419 scam

In the Spam Inbox:

My name is David Taylor, I work in a bank, I need your assistance in moving the sum of Four Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars {$4.5million} into your country. Funds are ready in account managed by me. On our agreement I will make you next of kin beneficiary of funds and action cash delivery to you. Kindly reply via below email address for further instruction on how to proceed.

That's it? No story about the tragic plane crash, the imprisoned treasury minister, the upheaval in central Africa?

Nothing? All he wants is my "further instruction?"

The 419 scam just isn't so much fun without the apologetic "It may seem to you odd that I am writing to you, but I am Mr. Abad Semeer Ochoa, previously adviser to his excellency..."

Posted by tplambeck at 10:53 PM


1) In Poker Academy Pro, I outlasted 490 robots from a field of 500, made it to the "Final Table" and then immediately lost to an inside straight draw. I immediately received a congratulatory popup: "You finished in the money with a profit of $39,000!" Not much consolation in that, especially since it's not real money.

2) I've noticed several people blogging about the outer automorphism of S_6. Why? Someone famous mention it or something?

3) Finished Peter Gay's My German Question. Very nice book. Why can't more memoir writers stick to the interesting stuff and skip everything else? It's nothing compared to the Klemperer diaries, but an enjoyable read from front to back.

4) Sirius Satellite radio doesn't work so well in leafy Palo Alto. Driving past the Jobs house it always cuts out. Is it jamming or just big trees? "They should clearcut that street," suggested John. The "channels" on Sirius radio have names "CoffeeHouse", "HardAttack", "Left of Center", etc. Must be fun to make those names up.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:22 PM

iPod Halloween costume



Posted by tplambeck at 11:07 AM

October 22, 2005

From the "Zeitung fuer Damen and Andere Frauenzimmer", Graz, 18 January 1792

A few months before his death Mozart received a letter without a signature, requesting him to write a Requiem, and to ask for it what he wanted. As this task did not appeal to him at all, he thought, "I will ask so much that the amateur will be sure to give it up." On the next day a servant came to collect an answer. Mozart wrote to the unknown man that he could not write it for fewer than 60 ducats, and then not for 2 or 3 months. The servant returned, brought 30 ducats at once, said he would call again in 3 months, and if the Mass were ready, would hand over the other half of the money directly. So Mozart had to write, which he often did with tears in his eyes, constantly saying: "I fear I am writing my own Requiem"; he completed it a few days before his death. When his death was known, the servant called again and brought the remaining 30 ducats, did not ask for the Requiem, and since then there has been no further request for it. It will in fact be performed in St Michael's Church in his memory when it has been copied.

from the excellent "documentary bibliography" by Otto Erich Deutsch that I blogged before (who knows when, exactly)...O.E.D. writes "This early report on the Requiem does not in detail accord with fact, but it is of historical interest."

Posted by tplambeck at 11:23 PM

Moose steps in front of Mt St Helens web cam



Posted by tplambeck at 09:23 AM

October 21, 2005

Jazz MP3 wrested from the clutches of the iTunes MP4 format

iTunes saves music as MP4, but the Audi SD card interface wanted MP3's.

So, how to convert those iTunes files from MP4 to MP3, export them from iTunes, and get them onto an SD card?

Fry's had a USB SD card reader/writer for less than $20.

[[ "Aisle two, right-hand side," a Fry's guy told me, after he recovered from the following long and painful interaction with another customer, who wanted a "USB to WiFi cable":

"You want a WiFi card with a USB interface?" the Fry's guy asked.

"No, I've got the WiFi already, I just need the cable."

"You want a cable for a wireless access point?"

"No, I need the cable for WiFi! I want USB at one end, and WiFi at the other!"

As I pondered what it could possibly mean to have WiFi at the 'end of a cable,' the Fry's guy spoke up decisively: "I don't know what that is."

"WELL—CANT ANYONE HERE HELP ME?" the man complained in a loud voice. "DOESN'T ANYONE HERE KNOW ANYTHING?" he asked bitterly, even louder.

I really wanted to jump in and whisper to him, you know this WiFi thing, the great thing is, you don't need cables, but I was smart enough to say nothing. ]]

Anyway, I couldn't figure out a way to coax iTunes into converting "Purchased Music" from MP4 to MP3, but it did let me convert the many jazz CDs that I'd brought into iTunes from CDs. It wasn't easy, though.



Posted by tplambeck at 03:29 PM

Reminder to self: continue shredding

Walking the dog, I found someone's Visa card statement. It was probably a single stream blue bin escapee.


I picked it up. Only $75 in charges last month? No—that's just last month's payment. The balance due is $4925.

The credit limit? $5000.

Next month's minimum payment? $73.

I hope he mailed the check.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:01 AM

October 20, 2005


A Nokia subsidiary that makes diamond-studded cellphones.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:34 AM

Websidestory and hitbox cookie opt-out

here. Seems to work.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:25 AM

It's no longer like herding cats

It's like shoveling frogs into a wheelbarrow, instead.

[ Looks like Jim Hightower has the current Google mindshare for this phrase, which gets only 72 hits. By constrast, herding cats gets over 250 thousand. ]

Posted by tplambeck at 08:18 AM

October 18, 2005

One opt-out that works and is worth it

This page offers a two-click "opt-out" from 2o7.net's browser cookie dispensers (which seem to be installed at a huge number of web sites).

Posted by tplambeck at 02:45 PM

Lava dome with smoke rising

Two days of fog over Mt St Helens—now that we've gone home, it all clears up.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005 9:10 a.m. PDT (1610 UTC)


Current status is Volcano Advisory (Alert Level 2); aviation color code ORANGE: Growth of the new lava dome inside the crater of Mount St. Helens continues, accompanied by low rates of seismicity, low emissions of steam and volcanic gases, and minor production of ash. During such eruptions, changes in the level of activity can occur over days to months. The eruption could intensify suddenly or with little warning and produce explosions that cause hazardous conditions within several miles of the crater and farther downwind. Small lahars could suddenly descend the Toutle River if triggered by heavy rain or by interaction of hot rocks with snow and ice. These lahars pose a negligible hazard below the Sediment Retention Structure (SRS) but could pose a hazard along the river channel upstream.

Potential ash hazards: Wind forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), coupled with eruption models, show that any ash clouds that rise above the crater rim today would drift eastward to east-northeastward early in the day and northward later.

Potential ash hazards to aviation: Under current eruptive conditions, small, short-lived explosions may produce ash clouds that exceed 30,000 feet in altitude. Ash from such events can travel 100 miles or more downwind.

Recent observations: Clouds and wind cancelled yesterday’s field work, but crews are out today to repair several instruments in the crater, measure gas flux from the volcano, collect rock samples, and obtain several hours of high-resolution time-lapse photographs of the vent area. The latest digital elevation model of the new lava dome, which was created from aerial photographs taken on August 10, shows that the volume had grown to 62 million cubic meters (81 million cubic yards). The average rate of growth during late July and early August was about 2 cubic meters per second, a rate that has typified most of 2005.

cascade range update page / webcam

Posted by tplambeck at 11:36 AM

Searching for the right word

Any difference between a fop and a dandy?


Well-dressed adjectives:


Bonus discovery:

bespoke [ I realized I've read this many times without realizing what is meant ]

Posted by tplambeck at 10:52 AM

Postcard-quality Space Needle photo


Posted by tplambeck at 12:07 AM

October 17, 2005

Onion Man, Seattle


The Onion Man's assistant was handing out free samples of Eclipse Mints.


"Not so spicy," Cole and Owen agreed.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:56 PM

Caramel- & chocolate-covered marshmallows on a stick


Posted by tplambeck at 11:30 PM

Seattle Pi


Posted by tplambeck at 11:24 PM

New Concepts in Pumpkin Carving

Some wizard with a knife was carving pumpkins in downtown Seattle:




Posted by tplambeck at 11:09 PM

Seattle video

Near the Space Needle, they've got a gigantic fountain that alternates between spraying huge streams of water and entering a deceptive quiescent state that invites people to come up to the fountain and try to touch it.


I suggested to Cole (10) and Owen (7) that they try to touch the fountain, and that I would follow them to take their photograph as they touched it.

We waited for the fountain to quiet down, then rushed down to the base of it. But instead of photographing them and running away, I shot video instead (MPG), telling them to "wait a minute...I've just about got it...", as they screamed "TAKE IT! TAKE IT! TAKE THE PHOTO!"

After I had ample footage of them screaming at me to take the photo, I switched back to photo mode and took the photo:


Ah—the pleasures of parenthood.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:55 PM

October 16, 2005

Mt. St. Helens web cam

Looks like we made the right decision.


Posted by tplambeck at 03:55 PM

October 15, 2005

Trip to Seattle

1) Ferry to Bainbridge Island:

Ferry to bainbridge

2) I really need to start remembering to take the digital camera USB cable on trips.

3) The Space Needle restaurant is called Sky City. It goes once around in 47 minutes. The kids were disappointed it didn't go faster. They had pictured it spinning like a merry-go-round.

4) Visit to Sucker Punch (thanks Brian!), inspiring Owen to draw an illustration:

Inspired by a visit to Sucker Punch

5) Mt St. Helens web cam: cloudy or foggy most of the morning. Is it worth it to drive there?

Posted by tplambeck at 08:28 PM

October 12, 2005

I can say proudly I'm the first member of my family in a thousand generations who knows who "A3" is

Sirius Satellite radio is giving me the education I never had on the identities of the popular "Artists" that I hear on the radio all the time. A disc jockey might say their names 25 times on the radio (although most times they don't say them at all), and I would never remember them, much less associate them with some particular pop tune. But with the "Artist Name" popping up in my new car simultaneously on the GPS console and also right in front of me, next to the speedometer, I easily remember them. [ The written word never fails to make an imprint on my brain that the spoken word never will. I remember reading long ago something about how people differ in their "learning styles," and that some people are "ear-minded," by which was meant, they only remember what people tell them, and have difficulty remembering things they've just read, rather than heard. I remember thinking—'No way, there can't be any people like that, it's just impossible to remember anything people say.' Others would summarize by saying, 'You know, that guy is a very poor listener.' Well, OK, yes. If I'm really interested in what someone is saying, I always ask, "Have you written that down? I'd like to read that." Not too many people follow through with these unexpected writing assignments, I've found.]

Just a few days ago, prior to Sirius satellite, my neighbor introduced me to someone who "was in town for the Green Day concert."

"Green Day?" I said, in the way a person might pronounce an unfamiliar phrase from the Basque language. I ineffectually summoned possibly relevant images of Bob Geldof and the Ecology Flag to my mind. "That sounds familiar, uh, Green Day?"

We moved on to another topic.

No more, baby!

Posted by tplambeck at 10:06 PM

Fantastic page on FLW's Usonian homes

[ OK—I'm breaking my "single link blog posts shall be relegated to del.icio.us" rule, but deservedly so ]


The typical North American home, today, is bloated in size and nostalgic in style. This is not affordable to the individual family, nor over the long run, to the planet. It is time for the concept of housing to be recreated.

* * *

She described how, at first she hated the house. She felt that Mr. Wright had not listened to her requirements but merely built what he wanted. She was, at the end of her second year living in it, ready to sell it and move on - at great financial sacrifice. She told me that she decided that she would "give the house a year without struggling with it" before she made up her mind. In that year, a transformation took place. She discovered that "Mr. Wright had not built a house for who I was" - but for "the person that I could become." "It turned out that Mr. Wright had listened well and understood me very deeply." "Now, I can hardly stand to be in other people's homes."
Posted by tplambeck at 08:35 PM

Lee Gomes in today's WSJ

What really happened last week is that Sun, eager for a mojo transplant from the studs of search, used its connection to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, a former Sun exec, to get its name in the same headline. "Sun and Google TEAM UP" (capital letters all theirs) was blasted all over Sun's home page.

These little kabuki plays are so common in Silicon Valley it's easy to forget that billions in real investor dollars are made or lost each time the curtain goes up on one. The mere announcement of an impending Google-Sun news conference sent Microsoft shares down slightly on Tuesday in the second-heaviest trading day this year.

During its heyday, Sun, not Google, was Canterbury for hopeful technology pilgrims. The role-reversal evidenced last week, combined with the news-free news release, would have been a perfect set-up for one Mr McNealy's schadenfreude-soaked wisecracks.

With him out of the picture, won't some other CEO out there step into the breach? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:31 PM


Word du jour: frankenflu

[ Only 31 links returned by Google, let's hope it stays that way ]

Posted by tplambeck at 05:39 PM

This web site is back now...

...after a move up the hill into Hillsborough and bit of trouble with a cranky ethernet card, which has been put out to pasture.

This web server has a nice view out over the San Francisco Bay now. I should install a web cam.

Posted by tplambeck at 03:02 PM

October 10, 2005

Perverse Sheaves


Posted by tplambeck at 06:48 PM

This web site is going away for a little while

...but not for long, I hope. It may be down tonight for several hours. Or not. Or later. I don't know.

The internet hosting coop I belong to is moving (OK, Steve is moving, so the T1 in the garage is moving too). I even get a new IP address.

Keep the faith! The 1990-era PC running this web server will live on! I'm amazed the disk hasn't crashed yet.

Knock on wood.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:10 AM

October 09, 2005

The Meeting

The Meeting
Originally uploaded by Liisa.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:16 PM

6th and Brannan, SF

6th & Brannan, San Francisco

Posted by tplambeck at 01:30 PM

Strange: reversed photo

I took this photo last night while standing in line with Cole to buy tickets to the Stanford-Washington women's volleyball game. Somehow it got mirror-reversed in between my cellphone and its appearance on flickr. Why? I'm not making this up.

BIZARRE PHOTO REVERSAL: In line for volleyball

Posted by tplambeck at 10:15 AM

October 08, 2005


"Enjoying Everyday Life" with Joyce Meyer.

I wondered—Christian broadcast, or merely self-help? It was a Christian broadcast—immediately after the intro section, with kids throwing leaves with their grandparents, mothers pushing their preschoolers in swings, it was the devil who was mentioned next, even five seconds into the program. An immediate cut away to Joyce—she's addressing a huge crowd at megachurch or football stadium. It's Nuremberg, but with baby strollers in the aisles. Is it indoors or outdoors? It is hard to tell, there's no ceiling or wall clearly visible. Joyce carries a bible like a sort of clipboard, open in front of her. It makes you wonder, what has she got there?

"Juh - HO - se - FAT," she says.

"I want to teach you how to enjoy every single moment of your life."

Seriously creepy show.

In a mocking tone, "Oh God, if you don't do something, I'm going to just quit!" Joyce doesn't have a lot of respect for people who expect God to do much for them. Or at least people who aren't also following along with her, perhaps with their own clipboards.

"The fight we have to fight is the fight not to fight."

Not much really makes sense in this show.

Is it a laugh track? Joyce moves around on the stage energetically, like a puppet, or an automaton. She reminded me of Mick Jagger.

Posted by tplambeck at 12:15 AM

October 07, 2005

Possible completions to THE WORM

Ajahn Brahmavamso

There is a wonderful little story about two monks who lived together in a monastery for many years; they were great friends. Then they died within a few months of one another. One of them got reborn in the heaven realms, the other monk got reborn as a worm in a dung pile. The one up in the heaven realms was having a wonderful time, enjoying all the heavenly pleasures. But he started thinking about his friend, "I wonder where my old mate has gone?" So he scanned all of the heaven realms, but could not find a trace of his friend. Then he scanned the realm of human beings, but he could not see any trace of his friend there, so he looked in the realm of animals and then of insects. Finally he found him, reborn as a worm in a dung pile... Wow! He thought: "I am going to help my friend. I am going to go down there to that dung pile and take him up to the heavenly realm so he too can enjoy the heavenly pleasures and bliss of living in these wonderful realms."
So he went down to the dung pile and called his mate. And the little worm wriggled out and said: "Who are you?", "I am your friend. We used to be monks together in a past life, and I have come up to take you to the heaven realms where life is wonderful and blissful." But the worm said: "Go away, get lost!" "But I am your friend, and I live in the heaven realms," and he described the heaven realms to him. But the worm said: "No thank you, I am quite happy here in my dung pile. Please go away." Then the heavenly being thought: "Well if I could only just grab hold of him and take him up to the heaven realms, he could see for himself." So he grabbed hold of the worm and started tugging at him; and the harder he tugged, the harder that worm clung to his pile of dung.

[ one more paragraph omitted ]

* * *
Possible completions:

[#1: Finally he tugged so hard, the worm tore in half. The worm was killed, so had another shot at reincarnation. He went immediately to the Heavenly Realm this time, and all was well again. It turns out the whole thing had been one big misunderstanding. ]

[#2: "Can't you see, I'm taking you the Heavenly Realm!" said the first monk. "So?" said the worm. "Well, it's really nice, see, and you're in this little dung heap and I just thought..." "What's so great about it?" asked the worm. And to this the first monk had no reply. ]

actual completion

Posted by tplambeck at 02:04 PM

October 06, 2005

Four backward answers in today's (Thursday) NYT crossword

Shakespearean bird call: OHWUTTIHWUT

"Laughed myself silly!: TOOHATAHW

Advice of patience: TUOTITIAW

Radar's hometown, in M*A*S*H: AWOIAWMUTTO

* * *
I can't say I'm a big fan of these, but it is nice that they are limited to letters that will read correctly in a mirror...

Posted by tplambeck at 06:44 PM

The Usurper
You scored 60% Cardinal, 25% Monk, 47% Lady, and 54% Knight!
You have both the lust for war of the Knight and the wicked morals of the Cardinal. You are truly a dangerous one who likes power and will stop at nothing to get it. If the king dares stand in the way of your ambitions you will have no qualms about removing him from the throne and placing yourself there instead.

You scored high as both the Knight and the Cardinal. You can try again to get a more precise description of either the Cardinal or the Knight, or you can be happy that you're an individual.

[ We USURPERs and THANEs also push our way into crosswords ]

The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test

Posted by tplambeck at 03:48 PM

Another 101 motorist

Time to move over to the next lane again.

Posted by tplambeck at 12:04 PM

October 05, 2005

Lawn mower being towed behind a pickup travelling at 75 MPH on highway 101

Click the photo for a closer look.

Time to move over to the next lane.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:16 PM


Halloween costumes decided—
a) Owen (age 7): Executioner;
b) Cole (age 10): iPod.

Two things I don't do much anymore that I wish I did—
a) go to library just to browse;
b) read book reviews in newspapers and magazines

Discovery at Starbucks—
The CorianTM at the milk/sugar/sweet-and-lo/vanilla/chocolate station is mostly brown with subtle flecks of black and white. I spilled vanilla powder on it and couldn't see it at all against this camouflaging background. So I intentionally spilled some chocolate powder on it, too, to see if it vanished also. Experimental result: vanilla vanishes, chocolate mostly doesn't. I couldn't move on to sugar because someone was waiting. Is it OK to reach over people to grab the low-fat milk thermos? I have decided the answer is yes.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:07 PM

October 04, 2005


1) Have you ever been in North Dakota?

ANSWER: No. At least I can't think of circumstances that might have taken me there.

2) Arkansas?


3) Mississippi?

ANSWER: Yes, on a trip to New Orleans.

4) New Orleans is in Louisiana.

ANSWER: I know that. We went on a road trip. Coming back to New Orleans, we noticed how the city rose from the water as we crossed Lake Pontchartrain. So I'm not surprised, no, not the least, that it flooded in the recent hurricanes.

5) Oklahoma?

ANSWER: Twice. Football trips.

6) Iowa?

ANSWER: Three times. Twice for football. One for a faculty interview. Thankfully, I didn't get the job.

7) Why not?

ANSWER: Perhaps because too many people said to me, "You know, the schools are very, very good in Ames." It scared me. Then, just when someone was about to say, "Hey, you know, the schools are very good in Ames," I jumped in when they said "You know..." and said, "I know, the schools are very good in Ames." Kind of a smart ass remark.

8) Why?

ANSWER: I didn't know if I wanted kids.

9) But you do have kids.

ANSWER: Yes. But we didn't then.

10) So?


Posted by tplambeck at 01:26 AM

iPod nano shuffle

I spent a few hours moving jazz CDs onto my iPod nano, and then shuffled them.

1) If I Had You, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers
2) Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues Are, Thelonius Monk, Brilliant Corners
3) Cornbread, Lee Morgan, Cornbread
4) Bemsha Swing, Thelonius Monk, Brilliant Corners
5) Sneaky Pete, Lee Morgan, Sonic Boom
6) Makin' Whoopee, Louis Armstrong
7) You Rascal You, Louis Armstrong
8) You Don't Know What Love is, Sonny Rollins
9) Wee-Dot, Art Blakey, A Night at Birdland
10) Brilliant Corners, Thelonius Monk, Brilliant Corners
11) Out of the Night, Joe Henderson, Page One
12) Lazy River, Louis Armstrong, A World on a String
12) The Third World, Herbie Nichols, The Complete Herbie Nichols Blue Note Recordings
13) House Party Starting, Herbie Nichols, The Complete Herbie Nichols Blue Note Recordings
14) Cascades, Oliver Nelson, The Blues and the Abstract Truth
15) Old Clothes, Wynton Kelly, Kelly Blue
16) Boogie Stop Shuffle, Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um
17) Step Tempest, Herbie Nichols, The Complete Herbie Nichols Blue Note Recordings
18) Stormy Weather, Lee Morgan, Sonic Boom
19) Blue Bossa, Joe Henderson, Page One
20) Yes I Can, No You Can't, Lee Morgan, The Gigolo

[ still hundreds more to go, but I'm tired of typing. got to be a better way to do this. I did export the "playlist" to XML, but what to do with that? Something, I'm sure. ]

Posted by tplambeck at 12:22 AM

October 02, 2005

"But I wore the juice!"

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments

[ This has got to be one of the greatest paper titles of all time. ]

Posted by tplambeck at 09:54 AM

October 01, 2005



Posted by tplambeck at 11:15 PM

Interview with the Saxophone Colossus (Sonny Rollins), NYT yesterday

Were these performances to be made available, they would be taken very seriously in the jazz world, especially because Mr. Rollins's studio records of the last 30 years - some would argue 40 - scarcely indicate the extent of his talent. Mr. Rollins is a powerful, grand-scale improviser who often needs half an hour or more to say what he wants on the horn and achieve his momentum. But he is also a paragon of structure as he improvises. Almost every modern jazz musician is fascinated by Sonny Rollins.

Yet he says he has an aversion to listening to himself play. He had to force himself to listen closely to the tape of the Boston concert, a process that he described as "like Abu Ghraib." "It's possible for me to hear something I did and say, 'Yeah, I like that,' " Mr. Rollins admitted. "Although it would probably never be a whole thing. It might be a portion, a section of something, or a solo."

* * *
[ I love that "Abu Ghraib." ]

Posted by tplambeck at 12:28 AM

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