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14 June, 2004

Corkball And Bottlecaps

When I was a kid, my dad used to go out about once a week during the summer, drink some beers, and play a game called corkball. From what I can tell, this is a game that's pretty much limited to St. Louis and surrounding areas.

There was another game called bottlecaps. The object was to hit a thrown bottlecap with a broomstick. Apparently, a good bottlecap thrower could have stuff equal to Curt Shilling. That might also be a St. Louis tradition. Here's a site called St. Louis Memories. Quote:

How about bottlecaps in the alley. Played it like cork ball.

That proves that I'm not making it up. My memories are hazy. Maybe Tom McMahon or Zaine Riddler can shed some light on these St. Louis sports.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Perplexing Times

I've linked to this site before, but it's still good, and it's updated regularly: Perplexing Times. It's a blog from the perspective of a baby.

Born the son of a struggling satirist and a redhead, Brendan Alexander has labored diligently through his life with a(n often wet) smile. Unemployment and living off his parents have fostered a view of life rivaled by few.

From the FAQ:

Q. Are you really an infant?

A. Yes, yes I am.

Q. Do you really type all by yourself?

A. Of course not, I do some idle pecking and then I have people who clean it up and do the rest.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Unfinished Projects

This guy (Gus?) has 100 Unfinished Projects. By my count, it's only 56. I guess updating his Web site counts, so that makes it 57. 43 more to go.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

New Unis For the Army

New item: Army Shows 1st Uniform Redesign Since '81.

The Army revealed on Monday a redesigned combat uniform with a digital camouflage pattern that looks strikingly different from soldiers' current battle dress uniforms.

The camouflage is very effective, as you can see in the photo below. It shows three soldiers: two in the new uniform, and one in the old uniform.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Excel Art

This Excel file is worth a look. It's called excel_art.xls (for best results, right-click the link and download the file). The sheet uses 65,565 cells (279 rows and 235 columns), and the workbook has no data or macros. The image is formed by coloring the cell backgrounds.

Somebody sent me this file and the author is unknown. In the File Properties, it lists SAP Labs India Private Limited in the company field. That's all I know about it. If anybody knows more about this, let me know so I can give proper credit.

I wonder if this was done manually, or by using some software to digitize another image?

If you like that, you might also like superman.xls, which uses an entirely different technique: colored ASCII characters.

And finally, no discussion of Excel art would be complete without a link to Debbie Gewand's work.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Base 26

I won't even hint that I have any idea what this Base 26 is all about. But it has some cool animated 3D scatter / wireframe charts. The text is written in the increasingly popular "all lowercase" style.

four-letter words have a special status in the english language and culture. counting in at over 1650 words, in most cases the term is only used to address the more crude, sexual subset and its use has been effectively eliminated from the language of "good" society, mainly due to its negative connotations with lack of education, etiquette and status. in a way, the use of those four-letter words reflects the schizoid prudence and class system in english speaking societies, still evident today.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Looking For A Psychic Parrot

A biologist named Rupert Sheldrake is looking for a psychic parrot.

Does your parrot:

  • appear to 'read your thoughts' in the absence of any visual or other cues?
  • know when someone is coming home or for a visit at unexpected times?
  • know who is calling on the phone before you answer it?
  • demonstrate foreknowledge of any unusual events?

You can read more about his parrot research here.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

The Disappearing Lake

This is strange: Lake Chesterfield down the drain.

To Donna Ripp, it's nothing but freaky -- millions of gallons of the manmade, 23-acre lake vanish, swallowed up by a sinkhole in a matter of days.

Left to question is whether property values of folks who paid good money in this affluent St. Louis suburb for a lakeside view went down the drain as well.

"It's real creepy, let me tell you," Ripp, who lives near what had been Lake Chesterfield, said Friday. "That lake was 23 acres -- no small lake. And to wake up one morning, drive by and it's gone? That was freaky."

Posted on 14 June, 2004

The Oldest Blogger?

Steve Garfield (of Off On A Tangent) reports that his mother has a blog. He sez:

She's 78 and started blogging last October after she asked me what a blog was. So instead of just telling her, I had her start one!

If you've got a spare moment, make a comment over at her blog. It'll make her happy. :-)

Her blog is called My Mom's blog by Thoroughly Modern Millie. Last month, she wrote about making chicken soup.

Did something very unusual yesterday, cooked. My husband is gone now 10 years and since I am alone do not do much cooking. Well yesterday took out my wonderful old 5 quart aluminum pot and made chicken soup. That pot has produced many great meals in it's day and yesterday it came though with a great chicken soup

Posted on 14 June, 2004

The Sounds Of The Seasons - Not

We get a service called Music Choice with our cable TV subscription. We listen to it quite a bit. Good variety, good sound quality, and no commercials. They even vary the video content to avoid screen burn-in.

One of the Music Choice channels is called "The Sounds of the Seasons." I think we've listened to that for a few hours around Christmas. Over the weekend, I was curious about what kind of music they play when there is no holiday. As it turns out, they play great music. Problem is, nobody would know about it unless they accidentally checked it out or happened to read about it on their Web site.

In between the holidays, keep listening for The Pulse - a fine mix of continuous down and mid-tempo beats highlighting many different styles of music. From trip-hop to ambient, acid jazz to atmospheric, The Pulse sets the mood for any down-tempo setting or mindset.

They really should change the name of that channel -- or else give The Pulse it's own channel. I wouldn't want to listen to it full-time, but it's a nice change of pace from Blues, Jazz, Singers & Standards, and Soundscapes. I heard music by St. Germain, Thievery Corporation, Massive Attack, and Tosca (but no Flanger).

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Spammed By The Government

From The Register: Italian gov text spams entire country.

The Italian government is in hot water this morning after spamming every single mobile subscriber in Italy with election information.

Silvio Berlusconi's government recently passed laws to jail spammers and file sharers but obviously excuses itself from the new regulations.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

U.S. Citizenship For Dummies

This is a real book, not a parody: U.S. Citizenship For Dummies.

Becoming a U.S. citizen carries important duties and responsibilities as well as rights, rewards, and privileges. Before you make the decision to pursue U.S. citizenship, you need to be aware of what you stand to lose and what you stand to gain; you also need to be sure you're ready to fulfill all the obligations of a good citizen. U.S. Citizenship For Dummies will help you understand all that it means to become a citizen of the United States of America.

Does this country really need citizens who are self-admitted dummies?

But who am I to talk? That book probably outsells my Excel Programming For Dummies book. I'm sure that there are more dummies who want citizenship than there are dummies who want to learn VBA for Excel.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Police Patches

The Police Department in Norwood, Massachusetts, has "patch of the month" page, which results in a pretty good collection of Police Patches. Some of these are very unusual. The police patch from Chester, Illinois, features Popeye.

(via Everlasting Blort)

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Short Stories Online

This UK site has thousands of short stories, which you can read online.

Stories are organised into nine categories: fiction, romance, crime, sci-fi & fantasy, humour, horror, hyperfiction, children's and non-fiction. You can search for stories over all the categories by entering the name of an author, story or a description of a story into the search text field. All stories are listed with brief summaries - clicking on the story title will take you to the page containing the story itself.

And if you're an author, you can submit your short stories.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Crocodile The Trucker

Insights about trucks, truckers, and trucking: Crocodile's Trucking Site.

Hi, I am Crocodile, a professional over the road truck driver. I make my living on the Interstate systems of America and Canada. If you have ever wondered about the lives of those folks behind the wheel of the big rigs, this is where you can learn.

The transportation industry is dynamic and interesting, every day is different and a new 'adventure' waits round every corner.

It's a well-designed site, with lots of interesting information -- including a daily diary.

(via Information Junk)

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Extended Service Plans

From Ed Foster's Gripelog: CompUSA Can Retract Extended Service Plan.

There are many arguments about why you should never buy an extended service plan, but one reader recently spotted another while getting a laptop repaired at CompUSA. If they decide they don't want to fix the product, they can just refund the money you paid for the plan.

And it's even worse than that:

...f you have had the item fixed before, they will deduct the cost of the previous repair from your refund.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Junk Fax From Dana Capital Group

Another illegal junk fax just arrived here. This one was from an anonymous lender pitching mortgage loans. I called the number and eventually found out that it came from Dana Capital Group in Laguna Woods, California.

I mention this in the hope that potential customers will search the Web for "Dana Capital Group," find this post, and realize that they are dealing with a company that engages in illegal junk faxes.

Think twice before you do business with this scumbag company. But just in case you'd like to contact Dana Capital Group, here are the details:

Main: (800) 588-5535
Fax: (800) 588-5536

Oh yeah... make sure you read their customer testimonial. That's not a typo. They have a single testimonial.

According to Junkfax.org, the number to be removed from their database is one that's associated with fax.com (877-407-3448).

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Elementary Domain Names

This is interesting: The most elementary resources on the Web.

It's basically a bunch of different lists of domain names that have something in common. For example, lists include domains that are named after colors, days of the week, months, numbers, etc.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Wearable Art

Estelle Akamine is...

... a leading designer in the wearable art as costume movement, created outfits out of material she found at the dump, some of which were glamorous enough to be worn to the Black and White Ball in 1993. The materials for Akamine's imaginative formal wear include computer tape, zipper discards, plastic bags, 6-pack harnesses, shredded paper, hardware items and much more. Graceful hats from floppy phone disc and tiaras from Venetian blinds completed the costumes.

The outfit shown here was made with plastic packaging from 6-packs.

To me, it looks better than the average wedding dress.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Jazz Quotes

Matt Mullenweg's collection of Jazz Quotes.

As a jazz musician myself, I think it's a shame that there is no good, definitive collection of notable quotes by everyone's favorite musicians. So I've begun collecting quotes from different books I have and from across the internet.

Examples:

  • "I kept thinking there's bound to be something else?. I could hear it sometimes, but I couldn't play it." - Charlie Parker
  • "By and large, jazz has always been like the kind of a man you wouldn't want your daughter to associate with." - Duke Ellington
  • "Jazz is not background music." - Horace Silver
  • "I don't do something because I think it will sell 30 million albums. I couldn't care less. If it sells one, it sells one." - Oscar Peterson

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Uncommon Chairs

Chairs by Szado.

The chair shown here is called The Roadster:

The Roadster chair is inspired by the long sleek lines of old race cars. The seat encapsulates the sitter like a driver. You must step into the chair, then put your feet up on the leather foot rest -- it's a fabulous feeling. The chair really is an experience.

That would be good for serious music listening.

(via Sensory Impact)

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Mathematical Fiction

Alex Kasman's list of Mathematical Fiction.

Do you like fiction and mathematics? Are you looking for a book or story that might be useful for the students in your math class? Are you interested in what our society thinks about mathematicians? Then you've come to the right place...

(via Reality Carnival)

Speaking of Reality Carnival, here's a nonfiction book by Cliff Pickover that looks interesting: Calculus And Pizza.

The mysterious, quirky, and fun puzzles in this book should cause even the most left-brained readers to fall in love with calculus. The antics of Luigi, Fiona, Rosario, and Big Tony will entertain people at all levels of mathematical sophistication. In fact, this book focuses on creativity, discovery, and challenge.

I've taken a few calculus courses, but I forgot everything I ever knew. Maybe it's time for a refresher course -- with anchovies.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

What Would Jesus Do?

Here's what he would do:

  • He's 16 years old and living in the Dominican Republic. What would Jesus do? He'd get signed by the San Francisco Giants as an amateur free agent.
  • It's July 10, 1964. He's at the plate, and he's already gone 5-for-5. What would Jesus do? He'd get another hit, making it a 6-for-6 day.
  • A tie game, nobody out, and a runner at first. What would Jesus do? Probably bunt.
  • After playing six years for the Giants, what would Jesus do? He would get traded to the Houston Astros.
  • It's October, 1973. What would Jesus do? He'd play for Oakland in the World Series, and bat .158.
  • It's 1981 and he's playing the first game ever at San Diego's Jack Murphy stadium. What would Jesus do? He'd be the first batter, get the first hit, steal the first base, and also score the first run.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

College Lingo

My daughter begins college in a few months, so I need to brush up on my College Lingo.

Every college has its own set of traditions, history, people and places. In such self-contained micro cultural universes, there arise unique words, slang and general sets of vernacular usage better known as "college lingo". It's possible to hold an entire conversation between two fellow students where an outsider would be clueless.

Here's an example:

College Lingo: "Like, my total Melvin roomie dissed me and tha's after he mooched my munchies from the R2D2"

English translation: "My complete nerd roommate disrespected me after taking snacks from the dorm fridge.

Somehow, I don't think too many students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University talk like that.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Disposing Bodies

A hypothetical question at Ask Metafilter: Suppose you killed somebody...

How would you dispose of the body without getting caught? Would you dump it somewhere? Bury it in the backyard or basement? Dissolve it in lime? What? What would your master plan be that would allow you to get away with it?

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Pepper Spray Ring

A self-defense product called the Stunning Ring.

... a beautiful self-defense ring with pepper spray, offers safety, elegance and confidence close at hand. THE STUNNING RING, elegantly crafted in silver and gold plating with a genuine black onyx stone, is the perfect self-defense ring for women or men.

THE STUNNING RING self-defense ring with replaceable pepper spray canisters empowers a woman or man while jogging, dating, working or anywhere against attack, rape, violence or crisis.

$35.95 each. Refills are $7.95.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Test Your Popup Blocker

Go to Popup Test to make sure your browser is working correctly (i.e., blocking popup ads).

PopupTest.com provides a simple and independent source for popup window testing. Whether you are developing a popup killer software or you are thinking about purchasing one, you can use our sample popups to test the effectiveness of the application.

We are providing samples of the most common popup styles, as well as some not so common ones

Posted on 14 June, 2004

The Bonesmen

I saw this on 60 Minutes last night: Skull And Bones.

As opposite as George Bush and John Kerry may seem to be, they do share a common secret - one they've shared for decades, and one they will not share with the electorate.

The secret: details of their membership in Skull and Bones, the elite Yale University society whose members include some of the most powerful men of the 20th century.

Bonesmen, as they're called, are forbidden to reveal what goes on in their inner sanctum, the windowless building on the Yale campus that is called the Tomb.

I had not even heard of this before -- but it seems pretty creepy.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Hold The Mustard

It's lunch, but is it art? It's ham art.

This is artist Cosimo Cavallaro, explaining his work -- a bed with more than 300 pounds of sliced ham -- at a gallery in New York.

Cavallaro calls the ham "a pure form of America: all kinds of parts, boiled and pressed together." He rejected prosciutto because "it would have been pompous."

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Stadium Naming Rights

ESPN has what appears to be a comprehensive and up-to-date list of corporate names of professional sports stadiums -- including the annual fee for the naming rights.

The highest annual fee ($9.3 million) is being paid by Royal Phillips Electronics, for Phillips Arena in Atlanta, and they'll be paying this until 2019. The least expensive fee is M&T Bank, for M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The pay $5 per year (maybe it's a typo).

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Bottle Cap Art

Art from bottle caps.

Mr. Lamb has been collecting "outsider art" made from bottle caps for many years. The most peculiar category of this collection is "Nuts and Butts," a term Mr. Lamb has coined for figurative constructions that hold an ashtray in their arms and sport what is assumed to be a bowl for nuts on their heads.

For a much less ambitious project, try making this bottle cap bracelet. It could be a new fashion trend.

To view some bottle caps, check out Kevin's Bottle Cap Collection Page.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Time Magazine On Blogs

Time Magazine has an article about blogging: Meet Joe Blog.

Why are more and more people getting their news from amateur websites called blogs? Because they're fast, funny and totally biased.

If you read all the way to the end, you'll find the section called "Five Bloggers to Watch," which covers: Fark, Boing Boing, Instapundit, Wonkette, Rebecca's Pocket.

Posted on 14 June, 2004

Another Excel Blog

Here's another blog devoted to Excel: The Planning Desktop. It launched last month, and it's done by John Mansfield, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Posted on 14 June, 2004