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September 20, 2008

This weblog *might* move

I'm experimenting with moving this weblog over to TypePad.

The new URL is http://thaneplambeck.typepad.com.

These pages will stay up for awhile (maybe even years), but I'll be posting new things over at TypePad, and not here for the immediate future.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:11 AM

September 17, 2008

Prefix Prix Fixe

Prefix Prix Fixe
Originally uploaded by thane
Jin Sho lunch menu, Palo Alto
Posted by tplambeck at 10:04 PM

September 13, 2008

Election quiz

To the student—Study, and describe the pattern.

1) (2008) McCain vs Obama. I prefer Obama.
2) (2004) Bush vs Kerry. I preferred Kerry.
3) (2000) Bush vs Gore. I preferred Gore.
4) (1996) Clinton vs Dole. I preferred Nader.
5) (1992) Clinton vs Bush the First. I preferred Clinton. I threw a big party.
6) (1988) Bush the First versus Dukakis. I preferred Dukakis.
7) (1984) Reagan vs Mondale. Well, I preferred Mondale.
8) (1980) Reagan vs Carter. I preferred Carter.
9) (1976) Carter vs Ford. I preferred Ford, but I was young and stupid.
10) (1972) Nixon vs McGovern. I yelled "Nixon, Nixon, he's our man!" on the playground, but was even younger, and even stupider.
12) (1968) Nixon vs Humphrey. Only 7 years old, but who knows

Looking farther back, I like Adlai Stevenson, and maybe even Herbert Hoover against FDR in the first term.


Posted by tplambeck at 11:29 PM

Appointment with Ike

1) I'm flying into Chicago Sunday (ie tomorrow) night. This morning, it looked like Ike was on his way there too, but I just checked again and it looks like we might not cross paths after all:


How much blowing is left in a hurricane after it hits south Texas, cuts across Arkansas and Missouri, then plods north up into Illinois? They even show the thing threatening Newfoundland by Monday night!

2) David Foster Wallace committed suicide. I've recommended an essay he wrote on tennis to several people with a greater interest in that subject (ie tennis) than I have, always prefacing my suggestion hopefully with "Have you heard of the writer David Foster Wallace?" Even though the answer was always "No," I'd press on with the recommendation. I don't even recall what book it's in (if it was a book). I have it as a photocopy. And yes, you should read it. If you can find it, that is.

3) Saturday NYT crossword reinkings. I don't have it in front of me to take a photo, and in any case I don't think I quite finished it. There was a 15-letter answer running right across the equator of the puzzle reading something like Bond film with Olga Kurylenko as the girl. With precious few crossings and almost no knowledge of .007 films, I wrote in


but that's not quite the name of that movie (they didn't call it "Two"), and it's not correct anyway. The answer was


which I'd never heard of.

So, an ugly streak of reinkings ran right across the abdomen of this puzzle like a botched biker's tattoo.

It wasn't pretty.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:39 PM

September 11, 2008

Stewart Brand, Neal Stephenson, Danny Hillis

Stewart Brand, Neal Stephenson, Danny Hillis
Originally uploaded by thane
Bruce (a charter member of the Long Now Foundation) flew down from Seattle and we went to an event in San Francisco featuring the "launch" (is that what is done to new books, nowadays?) of Neal Stephenson's new book, Anathem.

We sat in the very front row , nearest the aisle, so I was able to take a clear (if crappy) photo.
Posted by tplambeck at 07:35 PM

September 06, 2008

Saturday repencilings


I didn't have a pen for the Saturday NYT crossword and it's a good thing. I don't think I would have gotten through it with a pen.

Things started favorably with YOSEMITE for 14 Down, Half Dome's home. Cole even looked over my shoulder and said "That's an easy one."

But things went downhill quickly after I convinced myself that Reached the peak had to be SUMMITED. There was evidence in its favor, including POEMS crossing one of the M's (Their feet don't walk), and something ending in 'ATA' crossing the T (Improvisatory composition; more on that later). But the answer for this clue was in fact CLIMAXED, which took me a goodly long time to appreciate.

1 Across, Westinghouse/Intel award winner, e.g. (7) was one of the last answers I filled in correctly. I wrote in HIIQKID (which seemed a little dubious, but with a pencil, what the hell?) once I had the KID part of it, but the answer was WHIZKID. Things were additionally complicated by the crossing of the K on WHIZKID, which was Aptly-named Philadelphia indoor soccer team, for which I wrote in KICK, when I guess the answer is supposed to be KIXX. Guessing KIXX broke open a logjam in the upper right hand corner, which had been secured against my understanding by Fox's cousin, ARAPAHO (I don't know why that's the answer), and They come out in the spring, GEMINIS. For the latter I went through whatever flowers I could think of, DAHLIAS and others, but since flowers are a weak spot for me, I was beginning to despair. The X in KIXX got me to the solution of Where inside info is revealed, XRAYLAB.

On the Improvisatory composition. I think this is a little bit of a bad clue, since anything that is "composed" is necessarily not "improvisatory," no? Troubled by such questions, but knowing it had seven letters and ended in ATA, I discarded CADENZA as not working, then went through various erasings and rewritings of SONATA, CANTATA, and PARTITA before finally arriving at TOCCATA, the answer.

Posted by tplambeck at 02:46 PM

September 05, 2008

Friday NYT reinkings

46 down: Pale Yellow (5). With crossings _A _ _ E, I wrote in TAUPE, without really knowing what color that is. [OK—what color is it? I Google—it's a "brownish gray."] The answer was MAIZE.


47 across: Weak excuse for missing homework (7). With I_O_ _ _ _, I wrote in IFORGOT. Nope—ILOSTIT, instead.

30 across: Butterfly with black-and-white eyespots (9). With an H as the final letter reasonably certain, I wanted this to end with MOTH. Yes, I really wanted this to be a MOTH. Then I thought—wait—is a butterfly a moth? I FORGOT. The answer, WOODNYMPH, blocked me for a pleasing 5 minutes or so.

Answers that came last or were otherwise annoying:

6 across: Medium size in a lingerie shop (4). Women's clothing, a weak spot. CCUP.

32 down: Noted shopper scolder (9) I could picture the guy with the glasses, "Don't squeeze the ... OK, the what? The LARMIN?! the GARMIN?? Something like that, but these seemed to be Dr Seuss characters, not advertising personalities, and they didn't have enough letters, anyway. Ah...the CHARMIN. But that wasn't the guy's name, was it? Back the drawing board. I guessed MRWHIPPLE but did confirm it with Gloria, since it somehow seemed very, very, very wrong.

7 down: Ingredient in Long Island Tea (7). I had _ _ _ _CAO written in, but the nearby clue, "Cacao plant feature" (with answer POD, WTF?) completely blocked any ability I might have had to summon with CURACAO. This is the last area of the puzzle I finished.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:23 PM


1) Didn't feel this at all.

2) Going to mail a letter, I almost stepped on a raccoon as it emerged from this gutter.

GLORIA: Did you drop the letter in the gutter?


3) I've proposed that Sarah Palin's GOP acceptance harangue be referred to as

The Speech By Matthew Scully as read by Sarah Palin.

[ Yes—I know politicians use speech writers frequently. But Obama wrote his own books, and I'll bet most—if not all—of his most important speeches, also. ]

Posted by tplambeck at 09:16 PM

September 04, 2008

Conspicuous Education

From Jonathan K. Nelson & Richard J. Zeckhauser's The Patron's Payoff: Conspicuous Commissions in Italian Renaissance Art:

[Michael] Spence's classic book, Market Signaling, showed that capable individuals who could not directly demonstrate their skills to an anonymous job market might beneficially acquire a "costly" signal—a college degree—to do so. This signal can be secured at high but affordable cost by a motivated and talented person, but both getting into and getting through college would be extremely expensive to a less capable individual. This significant differential in costs makes the signal a reliable indicator of quality, and makes securing a college education worthwhile, even though the information learned in the process might be irrelevant to a prospective employer.
Posted by tplambeck at 04:14 PM

September 03, 2008

Such a good sock-seizing dog

Such a good sock-seizing dog
Originally uploaded by thane
Pearl loves to nab people's socks.
Posted by tplambeck at 08:17 PM

Simple media request

Could we have no more expressions of the form

"One heartbeat away from the US Presidency"

for the next 3 months?

Thank you.

Posted by tplambeck at 12:07 PM

September 02, 2008

iPhone cubism

After I posted this mysteriously garbled iPhone photo to flickr, someone suggested I add it to the "iPhone cubism" group (slideshow).

iPhone photo garbling --- WTF?

Posted by tplambeck at 06:43 PM

September 01, 2008

Chilnualna, but with water

Here's someone else's video of Chilnualna Falls, taken from about exactly the same point of view as Colin's video (maybe 100 feet farther back from the falls), but at a time (probably late spring) when the water is flowing:

Posted by tplambeck at 08:01 PM


Colin took some video of Cole, Owen, Evelyn and me after we reached the top of Chilnualna Falls yesterday. We'd planned to do this hike over Memorial Day, but got rained out.

I was taking a photo of Cole and Owen as Colin shot his video. Then I pointed the iPhone at Colin.

[ More in this chilnualna slideshow, which happens to include photos of previous trips up there. ]

So, I think this particular summit was well-recorded for posterity.

* * *

OWEN: The wind is blowing so hard the water can barely get off [the edge of the falls].

The descent:

on the descent from chilnualna

Posted by tplambeck at 07:43 PM

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