Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cookies of peril

You know how sometimes you'll see a cookie sitting on the kitchen table? And you pick it up, and eat it, and it's kind of a manufactured peanut butter cookie, so it's not that great? But then you notice that it's a thin cookie, and it doesn't have strong peanut-butter flavor, and it's really flat on one side? And you remember that this kind of cookie usually comes as part of a peanut-butter sandwich? And the cookie was sitting at your seven-year-old daughter's spot at the table? So that
probably means that it's there because she licked the peanut-butter filling off of it and left it behind? I love that. That's a great feeling.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Heep, heep! I uck!

I have posted far too few items from the "kids say the darndest things" category, but here's a gem from this weekend: Lily was in her high chair at the table, and started hollering at us:
"Heep, heep! I uck!"
When we realized she was saying, "help, help! I'm stuck!" we couldn't stop laughing. Now that she knows it makes us laugh, of course, she uses this phrase a lot.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The universe loves me on my birthday

I'm going to interpret every good thing I notice today as the universe's tender affection. So far I have these examples:
  • Metafilter posted several links to information about a movie based on the Watchmen graphic novel by Alan Moore.
  • I was stopped by a train this morning at Duval road about 8 a.m. Now, that may not sound like a good thing, but I'm a train fan, and this train was led by a grey and yellow UP loco followed by no less than FOUR red CP Rail locomotives. I haven't seen their like in Austin before (which isn't saying much -- I could have been missing them for months, but I was excited).
  • I went to martial arts class, and everyone else was busy except for one advanced student, so it became a private lesson for me, which is good since I'm brand new at it and I could ask more questions and get some details on the moves.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ben Goldacre blasts nutritionists on

I always enjoy Ben Goldacre's perspective, but this nutrition article deserves a mention:
Since Goldacre is British, I don't always follow all of his UK references, but I think he's making a telling point here, in part of his blasting away at non-doctor Gillian McKeith:

I rent a flat in London’s Kentish Town on my modest junior doctor’s salary (don’t believe what you read in the papers about doctors’ wages, either). This is a very poor working-class area, and the male life expectancy is about 70 years. Two miles away in Hampstead, meanwhile, where the millionaire Dr Gillian McKeith PhD owns a very large property, surrounded by other wealthy middle-class people, male life expectancy is almost 80 years. I know this because I have the Annual Public Health Report for Camden open on the table right now. This phenomenal disparity in life expectancy - the difference between a lengthy and rich retirement, and a very truncated one indeed - is not because the people in Hampstead are careful to eat a handful of Brazil nuts every day, to make sure they’re not deficient in selenium, as per nutritionists’ advice. And that’s the most sinister feature of the whole nutritionist project, graphically exemplified by McKeith: it’s a manifesto of rightwing individualism - you are what you eat, and people die young because they deserve it. They choose death, through ignorance and laziness, but you choose life, fresh fish, olive oil, anf that’s why you’re healthy. You’re going to see 78. You deserve it. Not like them.

Best present ever!

Tanya, the wife I hardly deserve, has surprised me with an amazing present for my upcoming birthday: a 5-day trip to see longtime pal and former roommate Doug in Boise, Idaho. And no surprise, Doug already has big plans for the 5 days.
Doug says:

"I would say more about how I'm looking forward to your coming but it would just come out sounding gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that."

Wow, this'll be my first solo trip anywhere in...years, I think. Should be fun. After all, the midwest can't all be like Aaron Sorkin's vision of it a la Studio 60, can it?

(I'm reacting to some of the Studio 60 criticism. Though I note that it's Sorkin's characters, not Sorkin, who are always rankin' on the midwest, and that John Goodman's hick judge character -- also written by Sorkin -- neatly turns the tables on LA snobbery. So there.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

An emptier inbox

The article at
describes a way to organize your e-mail very simply. It uses just three folders, which have action-oriented names: Action, Hold, and Archive.

Anything you would normally keep goes into Archive when it is done, and you rely on the searchability of the folder plus the fact that it is sorted by date to let you find what you need. This idea has a lot of merit. I'm wondering whether I can bear to dismantle my 20-odd folders and give it a try.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How will you protest Studio 60's cancellation?

I found out today that one of my favorite TV shows, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, has been cancelled. Here's an article about the cancellation:

There are a number of episodes remaining which have already been made, but which might never be shown.

How will you protest this travesty? I'm planning to come to work naked all next week. But I'm hoping that sending an e-mail to NBC might have some small effect. You can do that here:

I love this show for its energetic characters and their intertwined sagas. Yeah, it may not be the best Sorkin production ever, but it's good stuff. Are we doomed to a Sports Night replay here? I was just thinking about how this show is one whose subject Sorkin knows really well.

As a result of this I got to read some interesting criticism of the show, and I may read more. But I remain captivated by the storytelling and the character's relentlessly witty dialogue.

Texas Juggling Society's 14th Juggling Festival: wow

In heavy rotation in my personal list of anecdotes right now is a description of Mark Faje's bowling ball trick which he performed at the public show on Saturday night during this past weekend's juggling festival.

Mark did a number of great tricks; I can't believe all the danger he packed into about 5 minutes. But the one I can't stop talking about is when he put a 13 pound bowling ball on a pedestal, stuck steak knives in the holes so that it looked like the head of a jungle savage with feathers sprouting from the top, and then threw it in the air and caught it on his face.

Somehow he managed to keep it from rotating in the air, and he matched speeds with it, and balanced it on the side of his face. This'd be an amazing trick with any solid ball, much less a skull crushing 13 pounder. The knives take it over the top into surreal.

I love the festival, I always have a great time. And I'm always amazed by how much fun it is to just hang out in a big gym with a bunch of other jugglers, in an unstructured fashion, and wander up to people and ask them how they do things. I only went to one formal workshop, and that was the only formal activity I participated in. Oh, one other thing I did this year that was new was go to the twilight fire juggling. We juggled fire in front of the UT Tower, which was pretty keen. I brought my fire devil stick as well as my torches. It turns out that all you have to do to do a show like this is pay a UT fire marshal to oversee things and make sure you aren't being a pyromaniac.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I'm actually excited about the Father-Daughter dance

Chloe is seven years old now. She's in Brownies. They're going to have a father-daughter dance in March and I'm actually excited about it. Although the flyer said there was going to be line dancing, and there's a country-western theme, so the actual dancing is suddenly a little daunting. Luckily she's not old enough to care how I dance. More importantly, she's small enough to want to go to something like this.

A nice take on the role of the super hero from Cory Doctorow

I've been reading a few of Cory Doctorow's short stories lately, since he's been so kind as to offer them for free download.

I'm feeling that familiar chagrin of an idea I wish I'd had first, when reading his story "The Super Man and the Bugout." He takes an interesting tack with the idea of Superman.

In his notes about the story he mentions that the idea came from supposing a more Jewish and more Canadian superman:

"a superhero story that asks what would have happened if Kal-el had landed in suburban Toronto and been raised by an old Jewish couple."

His superman wrestles with his social conscience and his role in the world. Neat stuff. Also notable because on top of this idea is the idea of a hero becoming irrelevant in a world where aliens show up with all the answers.

The story is available at