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June 29, 2007

Second Life becomes Real Life

This video pretty much sums up the experience I had trying out Second Life, except that I flew higher off the ground and kept wondering, "This is it?"

Now I know the answer is "Yes."

Posted by tplambeck at 06:21 PM

June 28, 2007

How many hours do MSFT marketing people work to develop confusing dialogs like this?

Excel dialog displayed every time I try to save a Comma Separated Values (CSV) file without introducing MSFT-incompatible formatting:

your file.csv may contain features that are not compatible with CSV (Comma delimited). Do you want to keep the workbook in this format?

Then the helpful additional instructions:

1) To keep this format, which leaves out any incompatible features, click Yes.
2) To preserve the features, click No. Then save a copy in the latest Excel format.
3) To see what might be lost, click Help.

* * *
Answer: CLICK YES to stop Excel from rescuing me from "incompatible" features and saving my perfectly fine CSV file from a formatting that's truly unusable with other software!

Posted by tplambeck at 02:47 PM

Stanford Hills fire

Stanford Hills fire
Originally uploaded by Joe_13

Posted by tplambeck at 11:04 AM

June 27, 2007

Inbox: No Camp for You

Our summer week at Fallen Leaf Lake near South Lake Tahoe is now an official casualty of the Angora Fire:

Sadly we need to cancel week 4 at Sierra Camp. Yesterday morning, both highway 50 and 89 were open, and power and phones had been restored at Camp. Dave Bunnett reported yesterday that the winds then picked up significantly yesterday afternoon, and the fire that was burning on a portion of Gardner Mountain spread toward South Lake Tahoe. At present is not contained on one side of Garnder Mountain that is relatively close to the north end of Fallen Leaf Lake. Dave Bunnett told me at 7am this morning that Fallen Leaf Lake and Camp are fine, but that winds predicted for the north end of Fallen Leaf Lake may be 10 knots, with gusts up to 35-40 knots, and humidity at 10%. Because the fire is not contained near Fallen Leaf Lake, and the wind is predicted to continue for the next three days, the earliest Fallen Leaf Road will be open is Monday, July 2nd. Once the road is open, and the area is declared safe, Sierra Camp staff will return to camp. They will then need a few days to clean camp and bring in new provisions. As a result, Camp will not be ready for guests until the end of next week. We apologize for the last minute change to your plans.
Posted by tplambeck at 11:53 AM

June 26, 2007

Papilio rutulus

Owen spotted this butterfly fluttering over the agapanthus in our front yard. It's not a "Monarch" as I excitedly described it, but the Western Tiger Swallowtail, instead:

Western Tiger Swallowtail

It waited patiently for me to retrieve my good camera.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:24 PM

June 25, 2007

Strawman in Jeopardy

Originally uploaded by thane
A few minutes after I took this photo, Owen and I watched as firefighters bulldozed the front edge of this part of today's Stanford Dish fire before it reached the sculpture.
Posted by tplambeck at 09:19 PM

Double Hmm—

Originally uploaded by thane
Now today there was another fire, closer to home, at the Stanford Dish.

Owen and I slipped passed the roadblocks to take this photo.
Posted by tplambeck at 09:15 PM


Lake Tahoe Forest Fire 2
Originally uploaded by OrderlyRoom
Maybe we're not going to Stanford Sierra Camp next week after all.
Posted by tplambeck at 10:18 AM

June 24, 2007

The Meaning of Life

If you were to ask what provides some meaning in life nowadays for a great many people, especially men, you could do worse than reply 'football.' Not many of them perhaps would be willing to admit as much; but sport stands in for all those noble causes—religious faith, national sovereignty, personal honor, ethnic identity—for which, over the centuries, people have been prepared to go to their deaths. It is sport, not religion, which is now the opium of the people.

The Meaning of Life

Posted by tplambeck at 05:56 PM

yourmorals.org questionnaire

I haven't tried it yet, but according to Nature magazine (14 June 2007, "The depths of disgust", page 768), this questionnaire promises to ask such delightful questions as

"Even if I was hungry, I would not drink a bowl of my favorite soup if had been stirred by a used but thoroughly washed fly swatter."


"I might be willing to try eating monkey meat, under some circumstances."

[ My sentiments exactly—tartare or nicely seared? ]


Posted by tplambeck at 05:31 PM



Posted by tplambeck at 04:31 PM

The Triumph of the Fungi

Neil Sloane writes:

Funsters, I just read a truly great—funny, scholarly and deeply scary—book called The Triumph of the Fungi—A Rotten History by Nicholas P. Money. It's the kind of book you come across every ten years that you want to buy copies of for all your friends. It got a great review in Nature. It's scary in the way that The Hot Zone was: rusts and molds could easily destroy civilisation.

Sounds like it might make a good movie. I'm reminded that I still want to need to figure out a way to see The Host.

Posted by tplambeck at 04:10 PM

Anne Frank musical, Secret Service, 1937 Ford Roadster

1) At the University Club:

THANE: So, Julian, are you in any interesting plays now?

JULIAN: No, but I'm taking an acting class. And I'm writing a musical.

THANE: About what?

JULIAN: Anne Frank.

THANE: Hmmm—hard to write happy songs about that, I suppose? So, sad songs instead?

JULIAN: Yes, couldn't have "Anne Frank! Anne Frank!" [dances around like a vaudeville actor. Owen starts laughing].

2) Driving to the Stanford campus where Cole and Owen wanted to see a vintage auto show, we saw police cars and secret service guys outside Steve Jobs's house (maybe—at least they had earphones and dark suits). Barack or Hillary? When I waved to the the secret service guys, they waved back—so, I guessed Barack. But now that I look on his web site, he's in San Antonio today, and it looks like Hillary is somewhere else, too. Maybe just a high-profile iPhone customer.

3) At the auto show, a 1937 Ford Roadster

Multimedia message

Did they really look like that, with that grill I wonder? "Just like in Tintin," Cole said.

Posted by tplambeck at 12:18 PM

June 20, 2007

Double Bubble

Double Bubble

Posted by tplambeck at 08:38 PM

Robert Handa

Robert Handa
Originally uploaded by thane
Coming out of the burrito place, Owen and I came across Robert Handa getting ready to do a live TV broadcast for a San Jose TV station. I'd happened to park my car next to their TV van.

I think it was a story on bicycle safety.

"Here comes our guy to be interviewed," he said as I walked up.

"Just practicing?" I said.

"Might as well interview him..." said the TV camera guy.

But I ducked into the car and took this photo instead.
Posted by tplambeck at 06:40 PM

June 19, 2007

Basketball camp

Basketball camp
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 05:33 PM

June 18, 2007

Palo Alto Little League championship game

Palo Alto Little League championship game
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 02:15 PM

June 17, 2007

Feats of Clay

Originally uploaded by thane
Another old photo set (from June 2003) I just uploaded to flickr.
Posted by tplambeck at 09:38 AM

June 15, 2007


Encountered in an unfavorable (foreign language) context: Mascarpone.


Is it botched Italian for:

1) A stock car racing fan?
2) Eyelash darkener?

No. One of the disservices of Google is that I'm denied the pleasure of puzzling over words I don't know during the days (or weeks) before I'll stoop to pick up a dictionary and look them up. It's just too easy to type them in.

For example: Name four different Secretaries of State under Harry S Truman.

I dare you—don't click this to Google it, just agonize over it.


Sec. of State #1, 50pts.
Sec. of State #2, 200pts.
Sec. of State #3, 25pts.
Sec. of State #4, 25pts.

You don't need to know what # they are to collect the points. Also: for naming a non Sec. of State, deduct 40pts. My own score: 25+25-40= 10 points (bad guess at #1 for phonetic reasons).

I'm weak on food words.

Posted by tplambeck at 05:58 PM

June 13, 2007

The Umonhon

I've been telling the kids that all I know about Native Americans are the Nebraska ones I learned about in school, but then I read about the Umonhon.

"Who are they," I wondered.

I think it's just an improved spelling of "Omaha".

It's actually kind of cool-looking, with the superscripts. I suggest that everyone switch over to this spelling.

But how to pronounce it?

Posted by tplambeck at 09:15 AM

June 10, 2007

Pearl at Greer Park

Pearl at Greer Park
Originally uploaded by thane

Posted by tplambeck at 10:06 PM


From an article in today's NYT, Cool Reception for Bible Park in Bible Belt:

The park, described in promotional material as "edutainment," would cost $150 million to $200 million. With a Galilean village as its centerpiece, one side of the park would present Old Testament stories like the Exodus; the other side would have New Testament stories like Jesus' birth and crucifixion. The only displays in writing would be excerpts from Scripture, and parts of the park would be reserved for Bible study.

This article had me wondering—surely someone has built something like this already? Also, is that a correct usage of the word "Galilean"? [yes]. Going to get another cup of coffee, I considered the question: If I wanted to build a Bible Edutainment Park, where would I put it? Orlando seemed to be a natural choice—but maybe the land is too expensive? A good first step would be to identify like-minded people and form an Association of Bible Edutainment Boosters, or something, you know, to promote the idea. Returning to the article I found this:

The only comparable Bible-themed destination in the United States is the 15-acre Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Fla., said Reagan Hillier, president of the Faith Based Amusement Association, though he said dozens of traditional theme parks incorporated faith-based themes...

Nothing new under the sun.

[And now, looking for my Bible in its usual place on the shelf with other frequently-consulted references such as the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, various dictionaries, the Chicago Manual of Style, and Otto Erich Deutsch's Mozart: A Documentary Biography (highly recommended), I can't find it. Ach—I put in an archive box, according to librarything. Why would would I do that? And now I remember—I convinced myself there was no point in keeping it since there are so many online searchable Bible sites. Bad decision, but perhaps not leading to my damnation I hope. But what did I want to look up, you ask? The surrounding text from that from bit of Ecclesiastes. Here it is (1:9) What has been will be again / what has been done will be done again / there is nothing new under the sun.]

Posted by tplambeck at 10:34 AM

June 09, 2007

Ghost town in Bodie, CA

Originally uploaded by thane
I'm gradually uploading all my old photos onto flickr.

Here's a slideshow of photos I took in 2001 on a visit to Bodie, CA with Ray Jones a few days before 9/11.
Posted by tplambeck at 03:46 PM

June 08, 2007

At the math library

In the Stanford Math library copier room, working through the intricacies buying a copy card (ie, depositing cash into its account and getting a copier to accept it), I met Lisl Gaal, a retired mathematician from the University of Minnesota. "Polya I knew, but he didn't like me," he said. "Szego liked me much better." He had what sounded to me might be an Hungarian accent. (We were standing close to a Polya display and a bust of Szego). "How does this work?" he said.


"The only tricky thing about this card stuff is remembering to press the 'Receipt' button," I said. "First, you must buy the card, that's $1. But the card comes with no money. So you have to deposit money to be on the card. That's simple, but you have to press 'Receipt'. If you don't, the transaction hasn't closed as far as the card money loading machine is concerned. When you go to a copier, the card will act as if its invalid."

I eyed the book he had, a Fedora Linux manual. "What's that you've got there—you want to copy that?"

"There's a good exposition of the Grub loader in it," he said. He opened the book to show me what looked like a Linux config file.

"Grub?" I asked.

"Right, G-R-U-B," he said.

"That's a bootloader, or something?" I said. (I was looking at the code in the book).

"Yes. It's very good," he said.

"I'm impressed that you are interested in such subjects!" I said.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:21 AM

June 07, 2007

Peace sculpture on the Stanford Quad

Ballistic peace

Posted by tplambeck at 04:00 PM

After the violin lesson

THANE: So—that was nice, Denise was playing the 2nd violin part—the Vivaldi sounded really good to me. I enjoyed listening to you two play that!


THANE: What, was it hard to concentrate on your part while you're listening to her? You have to just keep playing, keep the rhythm, not listening quite so much...

COLE: Yes.

Posted by tplambeck at 12:56 AM

June 05, 2007

Daft Punk Technologic

Cole suggested I put this on the blog.

I'm OK with it, except for the robot's mouth.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:53 PM

June 02, 2007

Photo of the Google mapping van

I tried to find a photo like this one myself—a photo taken by the Google mapping van that shows its own reflection in a business window. Greg pointed me to a page that had the URL for it.

Mystery solved, at least for me.

Posted by tplambeck at 03:12 PM

In llama-land there's a one-man band, and he'll toot his flute for you

Overheard in a coffee shop:

Frank Sinatra? I hate Frank Sinatra!

How can anyone hate Frank? He's the Chairman of the Board!

Come fly with me—let's float down to Peru...

[ #2 at iTunes. Can you guess #1? ]

Posted by tplambeck at 12:22 AM

June 01, 2007

High school state track meet, two mile relay

Originally uploaded by Elks Running
I think it's the Ohio state track meet.

Photos like this make my lungs hurt.

Too many 4 x 800 anchors at Kearney High School, ca 1980.
One time, while still working for VeriSign, I met Sir Christopher Chataway, who somehow arrived at our offices to raise money for the Bletchley Park Trust. I don't know if VeriSign contributed any money, but I remember reading later about various races he was in, and my lungs hurt then, too.
Posted by tplambeck at 10:10 PM

OK, maybe it's a VW, not a van


Posted by tplambeck at 12:00 AM

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