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February 28, 2007

New Horizons spacecraft at Jupiter

New Horizons spacecraft at Jupiter

Launched in January 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft today took advantage of a gravity assist from Jupiter. New Horizons is passing through the Jupiter system at 50,000 mph, ending up on a path that gets it to Pluto on July 14, 2015.


Posted by tplambeck at 10:58 PM

Middlefield and Oregon Expressway, Palo Alto, 2007

Middlefield and Oregon Expressway

Crummy cellphone photo becomes moody watercolor

Posted by tplambeck at 10:53 AM

February 26, 2007

barn slideshow, m niebuhr


Posted by tplambeck at 08:03 PM

February 25, 2007


Not scared yet? Try The Dead.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:45 PM

Flag wavers at the Oakland convention center

Team Finland
Originally uploaded by thane.
Cole had a gymnastics meet this morning in Oakland. One team had come all the way from Finland.
Posted by tplambeck at 03:39 PM

February 23, 2007

Burgess Gymnasium

I interview the Big Man for Inside Basketball:

[ Eric's blog ]

Posted by tplambeck at 10:22 AM

February 20, 2007

Transparency test three


Did it work?

Yes—but it looks bad.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:01 PM

Transparency test two


Did it work?


Posted by tplambeck at 07:59 PM

Flickr image transparency test


Did it work?

No—but I wasn't expecting it to.

Posted by tplambeck at 07:57 PM

The last three Megamillions lotto drawings...

...have all had "Mega" number 41:

I just looked a QuickPick ticket I bought for tonight's 150 Million drawing and yes—the computer picked 41 for the Mega number.


Just so you know, the winning numbers will be

6 8 22 40 52 and 41 (mega)

We can split the pot, but you'll have to hurry. I think the drawing is in a few minutes.

Posted by tplambeck at 07:46 PM

The go to girl for media

Q: Who's the President of gotomedia?

A: Kelly Goto.

I'd love to have a name like that, with plenty of pun possibilities. Some people have all the breaks.

Since "Kelly" could be a male or female name, maybe I could just steal it, and be the "go to guy" ?

Posted by tplambeck at 07:11 PM


Originally uploaded by taylorkoa22.

Posted by tplambeck at 05:10 PM


Originally uploaded by thane.
Spotted by Cole in San Francisco as we waited for our Thai food take-out from Marnee Thai.
Posted by tplambeck at 01:51 AM

February 19, 2007

US3's Cantaloop Fantasia

On the pop radio I heard Herbie Hancock mixed up with some rap and thought—nice job, Cantaloupe Island was just too ripe for that. It was US3's "Cantaloop" Fantasia (I'd never heard of US3, but that's not saying much; I'm living mostly in the 1940s and 1950s now, Quantum Electrodynamics, Art Blakey, Clifford Brown, Freeman Dyson's amazing explication of Feynman diagrams; you know the drill).

It's probably the derivative of a derivative (I think someone else sampled Cantaloupe Island in a recent pop song, right?) but that's the second derivative, the acceleration, you know, and that's OK, physicsly-speaking. Turn it up.

I just bought it at the iTunes store. There's even a couple of samples of Pee Wee Marquette introducing Art Blakey and the All Stars (A Night at Birdland, Vol I, recorded 21 Feb 1954 at Birdland in NYC). There's no Herbie on that record, I'm pretty sure, but he was about to enter the scene maybe (or already there).

Anyway—nice work. I'm happy to see the old stuff reworked. Who's going to take a new whack at Lee Morgan's Sidewinder—the VW bug is reborn, but the Sidewinder, which sold it in the first incarnation, idles on the sidelines.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:55 PM

February 18, 2007

Nestling Segways parked outside Green's restaurant at Fort Mason

Nestling Segways parked outside Green's restaurant at Fort Mason
Originally uploaded by thane.
At Fort Mason in SF, I noticed a swarm of Segways and helmets parked in a line.

They belonged to tourists who were having lunch in the restaurant. Later, I ran into them again, near the waterfront (photoset).

February 17, 2007


Originally uploaded by thane.
I was curious to see what a particular sculpture in the Glyptothek would look like if tried adding eyes to it in photoshop.

I thought the results made him look cross-eyed. Or sad. Or sad, and cross-eyed. (?)

Then I looked again at the original photo, without the photoshopped eyes, and it looked cross-eyed too.

I don't know who is represented in this bust. I'm pretty sure it's some Roman guy we've all heard of.
* * * Added later: From "Uses of Great Men" (Emerson, but gone to Whitman):
[...] The people cannot see him enough. They delight in a man. Here is a head and a trunk! What a front! what eyes! Atlantean shoulders, and the whole carriage heroic, with equal force to guide the great machine! This pleasure of full expression to that which, in their private experience, is usually cramped and obstructed, runs, also, much higher, and is the secret of the reader's joy in literary genius.
Posted by tplambeck at 09:54 PM

How to pronounce "Fuldu"

Scott Purdy:

I chose my nom through an excruciating process of going through things that I felt sounded neat. I had tried a name & wordplay nom at the con, and found it was too difficult to explain and not much fun to respond to. Since I've always been a bit of a fool, I wanted to use that in my nom. However, since we already had a Joker, I wanted to distinguish myself in some way. Fuldu is just a phoneticization of the way that I say "Fooled You," an appropriate response to those who pronounce it "Full Dew."
Posted by tplambeck at 01:12 PM

February 16, 2007

Having an argument about a bookcase

Having an argument about a bookcase
Originally uploaded by Seb Przd.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:06 PM

Flickr photoset

Seb Przd:

A conformal transformation is a kind of function defined over all complex numbers that has the basic property of being differentiable, i.e. continuous and smoothly varying. Such a function defines a transformation on the plane that has the property of conserving the angles. This implies that on a very small scale shape is preserved in such a transformation.

coolest flickr photoset I've seen in quite awhile...

Posted by tplambeck at 10:04 PM

Fear the Goggle T-shirt

Fear the Goggle T-shirt

Rants from the Big Man (blog)

T-shirt (sales)

Posted by tplambeck at 11:19 AM

February 15, 2007

House of Humor

House of Humor
Originally uploaded by thane.

Posted by tplambeck at 01:14 AM

February 14, 2007

Bemidji, Minnesota

Sounds like it should be a suburb of Baghdad.

Added later: There's even a college in Bemidji.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:59 PM

February 12, 2007

Rants from the Big Man

I get more comments on my blogging when I'm the ghostwriter than I do here, on plambeck.org. Not that I mind, of course.

Perhaps this points to a new career path for me.

Who wants me to blog for them?

Posted by tplambeck at 11:39 PM

February 11, 2007

What they're reading as I'm blogging


Looks like they could use a bit more light. Anyway—I'm blogging—what's everyone reading?

The Ghost of Camp Ka Nowato

Tintin in the Land of the Soviets

The Perfect Husband

(That would be me)

Posted by tplambeck at 08:52 PM

February 10, 2007

Last supper, Rhyolite

Originally uploaded by thane.
other photos tagged with last supper and rhyolite
Posted by tplambeck at 12:01 AM

February 08, 2007

From The Believer, Feb 2007, pg 73


o Hamburger Hill, 1987 (Lt. loses one arm)
o Forrest Gump, 1994 (Lt. loses both legs)

—Anonymous Lt. stationed in Iraq, sent via email

Posted by tplambeck at 10:47 PM

Simplest wild misere Cram endgame?

I spent a good portion of the day trying to find a smallest polyomino with a wild misere quotient in the play of the game Impartial Domineering (Martin Gardner's "Cram"; see Winning Ways).

Here's my candidate, a 10-omino:

Simplest wild Cram endgame?

Its misere quotient Q has order 12 and the presentation

Q = < a, b, c | a2 =1, b3 = b, c2 = 1 >

P-positions: a, b2, ac

Canonical form: 22321

Is there a wild 9-omino, or even a wild 8? I'm pretty sure there's no wild 7 or smaller.

added later: ipod+math (my notes)

Posted by tplambeck at 10:29 PM

February 07, 2007

Seitz concerto

Cole plays part of it along with the Suzuki CD

Posted by tplambeck at 08:27 PM

Norbert's nose

Video (no sound) shot by Cole.

Posted by tplambeck at 03:52 PM

Counting polyomino graphs

Are there just 17 skeletons of the 108 free heptominos, or have I miscounted?

Message I've sent to seq-fan and math-fun:

Hi seq-fanners,

I'm interested in the number G(n) of non-isomorphic undirected graphs
obtained in the following way:

Start with the set of polyominos of order n. For each one, put a
vertex in the middle of each of its cells. Then draw all edges
between pairs of vertices that share an edge of the polyomino.

These graphs arise naturally in the analysis of end-games of various
combinatorial games. For example, they arise in the game of Cram (see
Winning Ways, chapter 15, "Chips and Strips").

Anyway, by hand I've computed (starting at n=1)

1,1,1,3,4,10,17, ...

and have not found this sequence in the OEIS.

It sure would be nice to have someone confirm and/or extend these
numbers ... any takers?


Posted by tplambeck at 02:03 PM

February 06, 2007


Three TO-words with bad karma:

#1) TOUAREG. Robert Zimmerman:

My wife and I have speculated on vehicle names before. One day, while waiting in traffic behind a new VW SUV, I began toying with the car's name, and discovered that Touareg is an anagram for - OUTRAGE!

#2) TOCSIN. From a blurb for the previously blogged Richter biography (Simon Winchester):

If ever there was a subject crying out for a good biography it is Charles Richter, whose name we hear all too often on the news, a tocsin of catastrophe.

Not convinced? Say it out loud.

#3) TORCETRAPIB. A indigestible synthetic construct whose syllabic ugliness surely led inevitably to the Pfizer disaster:

On December 2, 2006 Pfizer cut off torcetrapib's trial because of "an imbalance of mortality and cardiovascular events" associated with its use.

Even pharmaceutical euphemism can't conceal the workings of an evil TO-word.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:15 PM

Folding chair

Posted by tplambeck at 08:39 PM

Fowler on quotation

Lastly, the sayings wise or witty or beautiful with which it may occur to us to adorn our own inferior matter, not for business, not for benefit of clergy, not for charm of association, but as carvings on a cathedral facade, or pictures on the wall, or shells in a bower-bird's run, have we the skill to choose and place them? Are we architects, or bric-a-brac dealers, or what?

[ Earlier: Emerson. ]

Aside: I'm guess I'm interested in quotations about quotation. I'm particularly partial to discussions of quotation that themselves include quotations.

Posted by tplambeck at 12:42 AM

February 05, 2007


Originally uploaded by Jef Poskanzer.

Posted by tplambeck at 02:26 PM

Most popular 7-grams of words in the arxiv

Via OxDE, from a paper on plagiarism detection in the arXiv:


Posted by tplambeck at 12:47 AM

February 04, 2007

commercial breaks

Cole and Owen wanted to watch the Super Bowl, so we drove to San Francisco to watch it on TV. The commercials, which I remembered as sometimes amusing, instead were dominated by CBS advertisements of their own TV shows. They had ominous names like "Crime Scene Investigation," "Big Brother," "Shark," and "Criminal Minds." I don't think I've seen any of these shows, myself, although I knew there was a show with initials CSI indirectly, from crossword puzzles.

I noticed Owen (age 8) pulling his shirt over his eyes as each advertisement segment began. Most of the ads showed people being shot, tortured, stabbed, hit in the head, thrown to the floor, or (surprisingly often) zipped into body bags. Cole (age 11) was cringing a bit, too. When a character wasn't being killed or killing, he or she usually bore a grim expression that seemed to convey, "it could have been me," or "I'm going to kick the ass of the bastard who did that," or (most frequently) "yes, it's a supernatural demonic torture murder, but I'm still a cool customer with a nice hair-do."

"Hmmm, these shows are really violent, aren't they?" I asked in a purely rhetorical way, inviting responses.

"Yes," Owen said, and he covered his eyes again.

It's been 3 1/2 years since we've had a TV in our house in Palo Alto, so our kids don't see much of it daily. I suppose if they saw more of it they wouldn't cringe so much.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:15 PM

February 02, 2007

fingers...they're always at hand

From the first page of Herman Schubert's 1903 book Mathematical Essays and Recreations:


OK, it was translated from the German. I wonder how it read in the original.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:57 PM

Rats at Columbia

real clue

"There is a rat problem on campus and I'm not talking about the graduate students," he wrote. "Students are telling me there are more rats on campus at night than any of us have ever seen before ... I don't know what's causing this ratification, but I'm hoping you can talk to Facilities and lead us in our fight against the rat invaders."


[In 1999, searching for a clue in The Game after midnight on the Columbia campus, I saw a shoebox-size object under a bush near the corner of a building, and pulled it out. "I found something," I called to my Purple teammates. As I took the box into the light, I saw that my hands were covered with white powder and that the box had "RAT POISON --- DO NOT DISTURB" written on each side. Just then Columbia and NYPD officers appeared from multiple directions and one immediately said to me: "Do you want to go to jail?" So abrupt can be the fall from triumph to trouble. We did manage to avoid arrest, but it didn't help to have another team show up and start arguing stupidly with the cops, just as they were letting our team go...]

puzzle message

puzzle message


Added later: Also: software wizards test wits in city spanning game [New York Times, June 1999]. Ah yes—fake radioactive materials in the Marriott World Trade Center. We're lucky we're still not in jail...

Posted by tplambeck at 09:47 PM

February 01, 2007

Note to self—invent a "scale"


From a blurb for a new book, Richter's Scale: Measure of an Earthquake, Measure of a Man, by Susan Elizabeth Hough:

By developing the scale that bears his name, Charles Richter not only invented the concept of magnitude as a measure of earthquake size, he turned himself into nothing less than a household word. He remains the only seismologist whose name anyone outside of narrow scientific circles would likely recognize.

Hmm...I need to invent a scale for something, the eponymous Plambeck scale.

But a scale of what?

Technological annoyances? First impressions? Bad arguments? Confusion?

Confusion sounds good.

The President's address, which scored 7.4 on the Plambeck Confusion scale, confounded "security" with "war" and "Terror" with a wide panoply of social problems...

Posted by tplambeck at 10:15 AM

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