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April 30, 2006

Pearl reunited with her yellow ball


Earlier: Pearl loses her ball under the oven

Posted by tplambeck at 08:18 AM

April 29, 2006

Billboard on highway 101


kohler | toilets

Posted by tplambeck at 12:45 AM

April 27, 2006

dawke or proprio

I asked the following seemingly googleproof question on the NPL list, and quickly got the answer, as usual:

Can anyone shed light or offer speculation on what the final three words of the following passage from Vol I of Victor Klemperer's Nazi Years diary I Will Bear Witness refer to? I have the book in the original German, also, and it sheds no light on the question—the translator to English copied them exactly as written in the original German version (well not quite—it's 'dawke oder proprio' there).

* * *
24 April 1936

The Garden Show, for which we have bought season tickets, opens today. This flower show is a major reason for my decision to learn to drive. Eva so much wanted to see just this show. To take a taxi there every time would be prohibitive; but if she has to go on foot as far as the tram, then she is already completely worn out by the time she gets there. The second motive was that Heiss, as Vossler wrote, had "died of heart failure beside his little car." I thought: Heiss was my predecessor here in Dresden in this respect also. The third reason: that as a dismissed non-Aryan front line veteran I expected to get my full salary. That hope came to nothing, and so there was a fourth motive: dawke or proprio! [Thane—my bold]
* * * Thane

Answer from Andrew M Greene:

Perhaps "dawke" is supposed to be a German transliteration of the Hebrew word that I would transliterate as "davka"? It's impossible to translate exactly.

"Just because!" is the closest, but almost with a sense of spite, although not necessarily malicious or even animate spite.

"His parents wanted him to be a doctor, so davka he went to Julliard." "Davka it rained on the day I had planned the picnic."

That would seem to fit the context. "I expected to get my full salary. That hope came to nothing, and so there was a fourth motive: dawke...." I.e., just to show them all!

- nmHz

Posted by tplambeck at 09:57 PM

April 26, 2006

Mysterious intelligent design in Lenny's landscape


GLORIA: I like your gnome! Where did you get it?

LENNY/(book): We don't know where it came from. It just appeared one day. I guess someone put it there.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:13 PM

For fillings or filings

Perfect Notary

Posted by tplambeck at 07:16 PM

April 25, 2006

Expressing my unique individuality through my choice of motorcar

Audi I
My car

Audi II
The car parked behind my car

Posted by tplambeck at 08:46 PM

Nation cryptic clue, 20 Feb 2006

[I'm working through a backlog of Nation cryptics]

29 and 24 Across (9) (ed.—[split 6 letters + 3 letters]: What some people wait to see on TV, being an exceptionally wise old bird!



Posted by tplambeck at 06:56 PM

In other words, dumb advice

From an article in today's Stanford Daily newspaper, "A look inside Bush's meeting with Hoover fellows and Hennessy":

"If you suitably impress Hoover fellows, you can turn to them for advice," said Bill Whalen, a research fellow at the Institution, in a phone interview with The [Stanford] Daily. "Advice you would be hard pressed to find otherwise."
Posted by tplambeck at 06:29 PM

April 24, 2006

Sunday NYT crossword

By Joe DiPietro.

My eye fell first upon

45 Down: Be acquainted with Vanna? (9)

I thought—KNOWWHITE. But surely not.

It was.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:31 PM

OK, just one more cedar waxwing...


Posted by tplambeck at 04:33 PM

Cedar Waxwings, reprise


Posted by tplambeck at 04:20 PM


Originally uploaded by thane.
Owen said, "Listen!" I looked outside into the courtyard and saw blue berries dropping like hail.

Messed up the video but I got some good photos.
Posted by tplambeck at 04:14 PM

Lutherans as a percentage of all residents

Lutherans as a percentage of all residents

With that warm up, it's not too hard to guess the religion involved in this next map:


Here's another easy one:


more maps

[ I wouldn't have guessed South Dakota and Alaska to be such hotbeds of Episcopalianism. ]

Posted by tplambeck at 11:15 AM

April 23, 2006

Pearl's yellow ball rolls under the oven

Pearl's yellow ball rolls under the oven
Originally uploaded by thane.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:40 PM

From the Maker Faire

Originally uploaded by thane.
You put on these glasses and look at someone else's pupils, which appear to glow red just like the "red dot" in flash photographs. It was quite a bit creepier in the dark room they had set up.
Posted by tplambeck at 04:32 PM

Chinese Soldier Reissue

Chinese Soldier Reissue
Originally uploaded by numericoverflow.
slideshow [Obey Giant Print collection]
Posted by tplambeck at 04:22 PM

Steve Wozniak misses wide right in Segway Polo


larger / maker faire slideshow

Posted by tplambeck at 03:28 PM

Greg's party

Howard (the designer of the Burning Man Desert Nose) challenges Tom Davis (SGI/geometer.org) to a duel.

Howard (foreground) fences Tom

Nobody told me this was a pirate party [sniff!]...

Posted by tplambeck at 11:37 AM

April 21, 2006

Cool—I helped in a protest (sort of)

[At least I did a little yelling. This article was just published by the Stanford Daily newspaper]

Protesters Force Bush to Relocate Meeting planned for Hoover Institution

* * *

By Amit Arora
Friday, April 21, 2006 [last updated April 21, 2006 7:25 PM]

Although President George Bush was scheduled to meet with fellows at the Hoover Institution on Friday, the presence of more than 1,000 protestors forced him to change his plans and meet with the advisors and faculty members at the residence of former Secretary of State and Hoover Fellow George Shultz on the outskirts of the Stanford campus.

More than 100 armed law enforcement and Secret Service officers lined the streets outside of Encina Commons, as students, parents, faculty members and local residents protested Bush's anticipated arrival on east campus. While the protest was peaceful, three Stanford students—seniors Claire Wagenseil, Diogo Pereira and Caroline Martin—were arrested as police pushed the crowd out of Serra Street.

The protest began at approximately 2 p.m. in White Plaza, where 200 students gathered to make signs and rally against the administration. As they began marching toward Hoover Tower, others joined their ranks and began to chant slogans. By the time the rally reached Hoover Tower at 2:30 p.m., approximately 400 protesters had lined the police barriers set around the building.

People continued to join the movement and the slogans for reform grew louder as time passed. This increased protest ultimately forced Bush to conduct the meeting at Shultz's house on Delores Street.

Meanwhile, outside the Hoover Institution, the crowd chanted, "Hey-Hey-Ho-Ho-Bush is here, he's got to go." Another popular slogan targeted conflict in Iraq, as students yelled, "1-2-3-4-We don't want your fuckin' war-5-6-7-8-Stop the killing, Stop the hate."

As the protest grew louder, the Sheriff's Department attempted to clear the street of students, possibly to provide the president's motorcade a safe entrance into the complex. When students refused to obey these verbal commands, more than 50 police officers in full riot gear were called to the scene. Dressed in protective helmets, the officers used their batons to push individuals back from the Tower.

In response to the use of physical force, students directed their chants at the perceived infringement of their rights.

"Whose campus—our campus. Whose streets—our streets," they yelled. "Tell me what democracy looks like—this is what democracy looks like."

The struggle between the Sheriff's Department and protestors reached its climax when a fire truck attempted to drive down the street and was blocked by the crowd. Security personnel attempted to move the students blocking the truck, when the three Stanford students sat down in the road and refused to move.

Officers then dragged the three students out of the road and bound their hands with plastic ties. Though students demanded that their peers be released, after 15 minutes, the three students were placed into a Sheriff's Department vehicle and taken away. The fire truck, meanwhile, reversed and did not proceed down the street.

To mock the incident and voice their resentment against the Bush administration and the police, approximately an hour later, members of the San Francisco-based Global Exchange Group drove a Hummer toward the police barrier. Using a speakerphone and donning masks of Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, they parodied Bush's foreign policy and the level of security on campus.

In its own investigation, The Daily discovered that the Hoover fellows, along with University President John Hennessy, who had planned to meet with Bush, were driven from the complex to Shultz's private residence.

(lame) cellphone slideshow

Posted by tplambeck at 08:53 PM

The Great Leader visits Stanford

Visit of the Great Leader

Posted by tplambeck at 06:55 PM

Art outside the surgery waiting area, Stanford Medical Center


Posted by tplambeck at 03:31 PM

The two clues I couldn't solve in the 26 Feb 2006 Nation magazine cryptic

#1. Curse it! That's what you do in an old-fashioned way, as the tamer said to one he finally took home! (7)

[ Seven letters, and I already had all the available crossing letters in place:

B _ S _ R _ _

So? What is it? I spent a goodly 15 minutes pondering this question in the surgery waiting area of the Stanford Medical Center. I ended up having to type it into word puzzling software on my laptop when we got home.

Answer: BESHREW. Sorry to say, I don't think I could have defined that word properly. And I *do* try to learn something every day.

God-fucking dammit. ]
* * *
#2. Do they remove something supercilious? [7, 8]

[ This one really pissed me off. I even know the origin of the word supercilious, and had the following crossing letters available:

E _ E _ R _ W (first word)

_ _ _ E _ E _ S (second word)

AND—I am *not* making this up—I'd noticed that TWEEZERS was a word that would fit as the second word. Nevertheless, I couldn't come up with

* * *

The stupidity I labor under is extreme. [ Carlyle ]

Posted by tplambeck at 09:41 AM

April 20, 2006

Surgery + The Elbow Patient

Gloria's back surgery went well, although she was discharged this morning with no love lost for her roommate's relatives, who stayed late (and loud) past 11pm. There had been a severe-sounding (seemingly hospital-wide) announcement at 7:56pm (I checked my watch) that "VISITOR'S HOURS ARE ABOUT TO END ON WARDS B, C and D." I wondered if I really had to leave. I asked a nurse, fully expecting to be told to leave. "You can stay a bit, just don't tap dance in the halls," she said. Gloria was sleepy anyway, so I left about 8:15pm. But the party was only starting for the Elbow Patient Relatives.

An unwelcome side-effect of being in the hospital for any length of time, even as a visitor, is that you overhear lots of Unfortunate Medical Histories. The Elbow Patient fell down stairs when she was 11 years old, but didn't tell anyone about it. Six months later, her elbow was frozen in place. She's had two surgeries since then, most recently six years ago, but in this one she got a completely new, artificial elbow. The cast looked a normal cast on an arm, only much wider.

The Iraq Returnee was discharged after his second tour in the US Army a few weeks ago. He bought a motorcycle to celebrate, and crashed it into a wall at thirty-five miles per hour. His mother was learning how to do Sudoku from another relative outside the surgery area near me. "He's my only son—I'm a single mom, and now the government doesn't want to pay for this..." Not good.

Probable Car Accident Person was wearing a neck brace, and looked like his face had made a recent high-velocity impact with a dashboard or steering wheel. He was having trouble getting the rings off his fingers prior to his surgery. "We'll get you lotion, baby oil, whatever it takes," said a nurse. "Those rings are coming off."

A cheery person might listen to these stories and think "Ah—so lucky to not be involved in that—" Instead, I think, "There but for the grace of God—"

Posted by tplambeck at 10:05 PM

April 18, 2006

Back surgery reprise

Gloria goes in to the Stanford Medical Center for a reprise of her earlier back surgery tomorrow afternoon.

We need to get a new pair of glasses for her in the morning because the helicopter people lost them. ("I heard a 'thump' on the floor next to me, but was too drugged up to say anything," she said).

This afternoon at about 4:15pm I saw President Bush (or at least people pretending to transport him) float over Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in a group of 4 helicopters. They seem to always fly "two and two;" ie, two helicopters in front at low altitude (presumably without the President in them), and then two helicopters about sixty seconds later, at a slightly higher altitude (I'm guessing the President is in one of them).

Maybe those helicopter guys know where Gloria's sunglasses are.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:03 PM

April 16, 2006

Friday vs Saturday

For the second week in a row, I've found the Saturday New York Times crossword to be quite a bit easier than the Friday one.

On last Friday's puzzle, after spotting the clue (something like)


I thought of BLACKHOLE, and confirmed that plausible crossing entries were present for a couple of clues crossing the "O" and the final "E". So I inked it in. Wrong—the answer was LODESTONE; it caused me no end of grief. There was another mishap, similar to that, but I can't remember what it was. I had ink bleeding all over the puzzle. Not pretty.

Yesterday's Saturday puzzle was easy I think.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:11 PM

Sculpture in Rhyolite, NV, outside Death Valley

Originally uploaded by thane.

Posted by tplambeck at 02:38 PM

April 15, 2006

A result of some vanity Googling

Hmmm—here's a New York Post article that mentions my (and Gloria's) reaction to Dick Clark's appearance on TV during the 2005/6 New Year's Day celebration.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:19 PM

antlr 3


In his office on the campus of the University of San Francisco, Terence Parr demonstrates cool new features of antlr to Aaron Siegel.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:30 PM

Helipad, Southern Hills Hospital, Las Vegas

Gloria's "back luck" ran out at Furnace Creek. It started as a fit of throwing up the painkillers that had been keeping her going, mostly, up to the last day of our weeklong biking vacation in Death Valley. But then suddenly she couldn't keep down the painkillers, or eat or drink at all without more vomiting. Her back pain, similar to what brought on the surgery in January, was coming on strong.

We had to have her transported by helicopter to Southern Hills Hospital in Las Vegas, where they were able to give her medicine intravenously and overcome her developing dehydration.


The kids and I arrived several hours later, when she was already much better and ready to be discharged. We arrived in Las Vegas by the Backroads van and then rented a car. I-215 shows up on the Hertz map as a completed ring road around the city, but it is in fact a confusing hodgepodge of frontage roads, uncompleted intersections, and orange cones, everywhere. The kids helped me plot a course back to the hospital after we overshot it on the first try.

At the back of the hospital was the helipad, and as we arrived, a helicopter came down. I think it's the same one I watched Gloria fly away on several hours earlier, as I stood in a Death Valley parking lot. This time it held a different patient.

She has a diagnostic MRI on Tuesday.

Posted by tplambeck at 04:11 PM


Originally uploaded by thane.
Las Vegas, NV
Posted by tplambeck at 11:33 AM

April 14, 2006

Sand dunes, Death Valley

Originally uploaded by thane.
Near Stovepipe Wells
Posted by tplambeck at 06:56 PM

DNA denouement

My DNA results are in—I'm an R1a-M17.

But what the hell is that? Here is some of the report information (I copied it from the Genographic Project results pages):


* * *

Your Y chromosome results identify you as a member of haplogroup R1a, a lineage defined by a genetic marker called M17. This haplogroup is the final destination of a genetic journey that began some 60,000 years ago with an ancient Y chromosome marker called M168.

The very widely dispersed M168 marker can be traced to a single individual—"Eurasian Adam." This African man, who lived some 31,000 to 79,000 years ago, is the common ancestor of every non-African person living today. His descendants migrated out of Africa and became the only lineage to survive away from humanity's home continent.

Population growth during the Upper Paleolithic era may have spurred the M168 lineage to seek new hunting grounds for the plains animals crucial to their survival. A period of moist and favorable climate had expanded the ranges of such animals at this time, so these nomadic peoples may have simply followed their food source.

Improved tools and rudimentary art appeared during this same epoch, suggesting significant mental and behavioral changes. These shifts may have been spurred by a genetic mutation that gave "Eurasian Adam's" descendants a cognitive advantage over other contemporary, but now extinct, human lineages.

Some 90 to 95 percent of all non-Africans are descendants of the second great human migration out of Africa, which is defined by the marker M89.

M89 first appeared 45,000 years ago in Northern Africa or the Middle East. It arose on the original lineage (M168) of "Eurasian Adam," and defines a large inland migration of hunters who followed expanding grasslands and plentiful game to the Middle East.

Many people of this lineage remained in the Middle East, but others continued their movement and followed the grasslands through Iran to the vast steppes of Central Asia. Herds of buffalo, antelope, woolly mammoths, and other game probably enticed them to explore new grasslands.

With much of Earth's water frozen in massive ice sheets, the era's vast steppes stretched from eastern France to Korea. The grassland hunters of the M89 lineage traveled both east and west along this steppe "superhighway" and eventually peopled much of the continent.

A group of M89 descendants moved north from the Middle East to Anatolia and the Balkans, trading familiar grasslands for forests and high country. Though their numbers were likely small, genetic traces of their journey are still found today.

Some 40,000 years ago a man in Iran or southern Central Asia was born with a unique genetic marker known as M9, which marked a new lineage diverging from the M89 group. His descendants spent the next 30,000 years populating much of the planet.

Most residents of the Northern Hemisphere trace their roots to this unique individual, and carry his defining marker. Nearly all North Americans and East Asians have the M9 marker, as do most Europeans and many Indians. The haplogroup defined by M9, K, is known as the Eurasian Clan.

This large lineage dispersed gradually. Seasoned hunters followed the herds ever eastward, along a vast belt of Eurasian steppe, until the massive mountain ranges of south central Asia blocked their path.

The Hindu Kush, Tian Shan, and Himalaya, even more formidable during the era's ice age, divided eastward migrations. These migrations through the "Pamir Knot" region would subsequently become defined by additional genetic markers.

The marker M45 first appeared about 35,000 to 40,000 years ago in a man who became the common ancestor of most Europeans and nearly all Native Americans. This unique individual was part of the M9 lineage, which was moving to the north of the mountainous Hindu Kush and onto the game-rich steppes of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and southern Siberia.

The M45 lineage survived on these northern steppes even in the frigid Ice Age climate. While big game was plentiful, these resourceful hunters had to adapt their behavior to an increasingly hostile environment. They erected animal skin shelters and sewed weathertight clothing. They also refined the flint heads on their weapons to compensate for the scarcity of obsidian and other materials.

The intelligence that allowed this lineage to adapt and thrive in harsh conditions was critical to human survival in a region where no other hominids are known to have survived.

Members of haplogroup R are descendents of Europe's first large-scale human settlers. The lineage is defined by Y chromosome marker M173, which shows a westward journey of M45-carrying Central Asian steppe hunters.

The descendents of M173 arrived in Europe around 35,000 years ago and immediately began to make their own dramatic mark on the continent. Famous cave paintings, like those of Lascaux and Chauvet, signal the sudden arrival of humans with artistic skill. There are no artistic precedents or precursors to their appearance.

Soon after this lineage's arrival in Europe, the era of the Neandertals came to a close. Genetic evidence proves that these hominids were not human ancestors but an evolutionary dead end. Smarter, more resourceful human descendents of M173 likely outcompeted Neandertals for scarce Ice Age resources and thus heralded their demise.

The long journey of this lineage was further shaped by the preponderance of ice at this time. Humans were forced to southern refuges in Spain, Italy, and the Balkans. Years later, as the ice retreated, they moved north out of these isolated refuges and left an enduring, concentrated trail of the M173 marker in their wake.

Today, for example, the marker's frequency remains very high in northern France and the British Isles—where it was carried by M173 descendents who had weathered the Ice Age in Spain.

Haplogroup R1a originated about 10,000 years ago, most likely on the grassy steppes of the Ukraine or southern Russia. Its defining genetic marker, M17, first appeared in a man of the M173 lineage. His descendents spread from Europe to the Middle East, India, and even Iceland. Early M17 peoples were nomadic steppe farmers and possibly the first to domesticate the horse, which might have eased their numerous migrations. From the Czech Republic to Siberia, and south through Central Asia, some 40 percent of all men are members of this haplogroup.

This interesting line of descent may be responsible for the birth of Indo-European languages. The world's most widely spoken language family includes English, the Romance Languages, Farsi, and various Indian tongues. But many Indo-European languages share similar words for animals, plants, tools, and weapons—suggesting a common ancestor that linguists call proto-Indo-European.

Some linguists believe that the nomadic Kurgan people were the first to speak proto-Indo-European languages, some 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. Geneticists subsequently theorize that these people may have been descendents of M17. The Indo-European time line and linguistic distribution interestingly mirror this lineage's genetic and physical journey.

Further language parallels are seen in India where speakers of Indo-European languages, such as Hindi, are predominately M17. Speakers of India's unrelated Dravidian languages show much lower frequencies of this marker—even when they live in close proximity to one another. These data suggest a striking relation between the spread of language and the arrival of a unique genetic lineage brought to India by migrants from the steppes.

Posted by tplambeck at 06:00 PM

Furnace Creek, Death Valley

Originally uploaded by thane.

Posted by tplambeck at 04:49 PM

Biking with Cole (front) and Owen (near) in Death Valley

Originally uploaded by thane.
We had a fifteen mph tailwind so going up the hill was a breeze (so to speak).
Posted by tplambeck at 03:50 PM

Death Valley

Originally uploaded by thane.
Cole took a photo of me standing on the sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley, California.
Posted by tplambeck at 03:45 PM

April 08, 2006

Naoaki Takashima

Inventor of the "spinning rainbow." I need to add some photos of it here on the web site.

naoaki takashima

Posted by tplambeck at 10:03 AM

April 05, 2006


Originally uploaded by thane.
Posted by tplambeck at 07:55 PM


A page or two later in the Verne book:

* * *
J. T. Maston went nearly mad, and great fears were entertained regarding the brain of this worthy individual, which had hitherto been so well preserved within his gutta-percha cranium...
* * *
what is gutta-percha? / another link (wikipedia)

Posted by tplambeck at 12:42 PM

The launch of the Columbiad


A few moments later, the three fellow-travellers had ensconced themselves in the projectile, and screwed down the plate which covered the entrance-aperture. The mouth of the Columbiad, now completely disencumbered, was open entirely to the sky.

The moon advanced upward in a heaven of the purest clearness, outshining in her passage the twinkling light of the stars. She passed over the constellation of the Twins, and was now nearing the halfway point between the horizon and zentih. A terrible silence weighed upon the entire scene! Not a breath of wind upon the earth! not a sound of breathing from the spectators! Their hearts seemed afraid to beat! All eyes were fixed upon the yawning mouth of the Columbiad.

Murchison followed with his eye the hand of his chronometer. It wanted scarce forty seconds to the moment of depature, but each second seemed to last an age! At the twentieth there was a general shudder, as it occurred to the minds of that vast assemblage that the bold travelers shut up in the projectile were also counting those terrible seconds.

"Thirty-five!—thirty-six!—thirty-seven!—thirty-eight! thirty-nine! forty! FIRE!!"

Instantly Murchison pressed with his finger the key of the electric battery, restored the current of the fluid, and discharged the spark into the breech of the Columbiad.

An appalling, unearthly report followed instantly, such as can be compared to nothing whatever known, not even to the roar of thunder, or the blast of volcanic explosions! No words can convey the slightest idea of the terrific sound! An immense spout of fire shot up from the bowels of the earth as from a crater. The earth heaved up, and with great difficulty some few spectators obtained a momentary glimpse of the projectile victoriously cleaving the air in the midst of the fiery vapors!

At the moment when that pyramid of fire rose to a prodigious height into the air, the glare of the flame lit up the whole of Florida...

* * *

From From the Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne. 1865

Posted by tplambeck at 12:09 PM

April 03, 2006

Mak and Greg in the news

Greg writes

Mak (one of my new co-workers at HP here in Austin) and I ended up in the background of a photo on the front page of a special Capitol 10k section of the local newspaper today.


[ And to think I just skimmed over this photo without noticing! ]

Posted by tplambeck at 08:36 AM

April 01, 2006

Animaris Rhinoceros Transport

The Animaris Rhinoceros Transport is a type of animal with a steel skeleton and a polyester skin. It looks as if there is a thick layer of sand coating the animal. It weighes 2. tons, but can be set into motion by one person. It stands 4.70 meters tall. Because of its height it catches enough wind to start moving.


Ah—perhaps you think this is an April Fool's joke? Watch the video at that link.

Then watch this video of Animarus Ondula.

[ via laputan logic ]

Posted by tplambeck at 09:20 PM

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