Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rollerblading Saturdays, pedestrian Sundays

I went rollerblading along the lake shore. The weather was good, my knee was good, it was fun.

On the final Sunday of every month, Kensington Market is closed to car traffic. (I thought that this happened every weekend, but apparently that's just bold and numerous pedestrians. This is official.) It was delightful. Streets of people, shops with special events and booths on the street. And street performers -- balloon animal makers, puppeteers, multiple live bands (my favorite did a ska rendition of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"), a magician. Huge on-the-street games: Scrabble (tiles bigger than my hand), chess (pieces as tall as me), a maze. I walked around all day. R. made vegan tomato soup and gave it away free to anyone with a container.

Hopefully this triple of weather-rollerblading-Kensington will happen again.

This post's theme food: bread made with pumpkin. If I were a superhero, this would be my kryptonite.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


It's nice to know I'm not the only one who has days like this:This post's theme word: nugacity, "triviality, futility."

No editors for this commercial script!

If we could wrap our kids in bubble wrap, we would. Because we love them.
We love them so much it's smothering. Literally. (This from a commercial for life insurance. Or allergy medicine. Or whatever.) And we want to preserve their bodies forever.

This post's theme word: parapraxis, "a slip of the tongue/pen that reveals the unconscious mind."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Evaluating the Olympics

There are many different ways to interpret the medal count to determine which country "won" the Olympics. Throughout its coverage of the Olympics, my daily (US) newspaper ranked countries by total medals won. This put the US at the top; other countries' media seem to prefer a self-favoring ranking system, too. Measuring in golds per million people or golds per billion GDP, the US fared quite poorly.

Generally impressive all-around geek Simon Tatham constructed this Hasse diagram of countries participating in the 2008 Olympics. His idea was to take generally sensible comparisons (where country A clearly outperformed country B) and form a partial ordering of countries.
So we want to say that one country has done strictly better than another if the medal score of the latter can be transformed into the former by a sequence of medal additions and medal upgrades. A bit of thought shows that this is exactly equivalent to defining a partial order on triples of medals...
I found this very satisfying not only because I love graphs and beautiful diagrams, but because it also allows for easy visual comprehension of which countries performed around the same level.

(Via *God Plays Dice*.)

This post's theme word: fungible, "interchangeable," usually used in an economic sense w.r.t. products or assets.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hamster? Bunny rabbit? Star-, circle-, heart-shaped eggs.

R1 and I have often conversed about the confusion of crossed romantic signals. So this evening, R2 invited me to dinner and cooked for me again. I'm fairly certain this was a non-romantic encounter, and that R2 is just a friendly guy. (He told a joke that -- even after translation -- made me blush. Awk.)

eggs cooked in molds
fried onions and sweet potatoes

Today was colder than I expected, and I had to wear my office sweatshirt home. The cold did nothing to assuage my aching knee, so now I sit at home doing PT exercises with an exercise band and an ice pack, staving off the cold with a sweatshirt.

And despite the cold, I had several positive social encounters today and so I feel warm and fuzzy inside. (Even though I've had the following clip looping in my head all day: "When I walk in the room, there's a table of men. Always men!" ... on a related note, I believe there's an incoming woman graduate student! That will make two of us. Huzzah!)

This post's theme word: catholicon, "a panacea."


When I left some 15 days ago, there were newly-bought bananas on the table. When I returned, they were still here. Now rotting. On the table. Who keeps buying bananas to rot in our kitchen?

My knee hurts and is slightly swollen this morning. I guess I might have pushed too hard yesterday at the gym. I'll take today to recover and ice.

I'm in a bad housing situation and don't know how to get out. Just like last year, the people who are moving in on the normal schedule (Sept 1 student leases) are disgusting and are driving me out. But I have to give my landlord two month's notice before I leave, and the housing market here is strongly driven by students. So most places are rented starting in September, not November. It makes me angry that I'll have to do this off-season househunting again. I feel rather defeated, because I have to give my landlord notice and later find somewhither to move (rather than vice-versa, the more secure way). I'm an excellent tenant -- clean, quiet, responsible -- so why is it so hard for me to find a good place to live?

And so September rolls around again, the same as last year. Doubts, insecurities, and my favorite weather. Welcome to autumn.

This post's theme song: "Climbing Uphill" from The Last Five Years.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Veggie roast beef

Although it looks like brown circular ham slices, it's veggie roast beef. It didn't taste anything like real roast beef, but it did have a sort of smoky/meaty quality. I wonder how they get that without using any meat products.
Final review: not unpalatable, but I probably won't buy it again.

This post's theme word: だます (damasu), "to trick, cheat, deceive."

More silly animal wines

The little penguin, a fairly normal animal-named wine:I just didn't understand "Cat's pee on a gooseberry bush." Who would want to drink such a thing?This post's theme word: mucid, "moldy, musty, festering, stagnant, slimy." I heard it used in the phrase "mucidly moist." Yuck.

Got angst?

O teen book section. How silly.This post's theme word: cromulent, "excellent, realistic, authentic."

How active is the activities fair?

The geology department set up a seismograph. It was neat. When we jumped near the sensors, we could see the needle waver in response.This post's theme word: pluton, "an intrusive rock, as distinguished from the preexisting country rock that surrounds it."

Literal labeling

Earlier in the summer, while driving with my grandparents, we got a flat tire. The garage whither we went to obtain a replacement had this lovely binder on display.
This post's theme word: pellucid, "transparent, or nearly so."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another one bites the dust

On Friday, we helped A. move in to college. His dorm is clean and new and designed for socializing nicely (but not for study; we'll see how that plays out). It was delightful. It reminded me how great Freshman week was -- I remember one of my upperclass peer advisors saying, "this is the most fun you'll have until Senior week," and that proved to be fairly accurate. (There were a few exceptions, but overall, my four years were spent busily learning, working, and living; those two bookend weeks' demands were social only.)

One day, A. and I will found a group to legalize recreational whale torture (citation: 30 Rock). It's pretty much the most difficult cause to get anyone to sign off on (save for causes involving cannibalism, babies as projectiles, etc.). In that spirit, I encourage him to take marine biology, philosophy, and pre-law classes. For his gym requirement, maybe boxing? Bow & arrow or rifle-shooting?

This post is dedicated to that age-old battle: Capulets VS. Romulans (ibid).

Le petit prince reconsiders

This post's theme word: morganatic, "Of or relating to a marriage between two people of different social ranks such that the spouse of lower rank and the children do not share the titles or possessions of the higher-ranking spouse."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sing about the body

This website answers the question, "What do we sing about, when we sing about the body?" By far, the largest statistical share of any genre of music is hip hop's references to... see below.Via Metafilter.

This post's theme word (you can see it coming, right?): callipygian, "having well-shaped buttocks."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Things on a single post-it on my desktop

"I mean that in the Roman sense of 300, which means a bajillion." -- A.
bike jousting
pysdens / pysdxes

This post's theme word: epergne, "a serving dish of numerous separate bowls attached to one main stem." I've been trying to work that into a blog post for awhile, and hadn't managed. Bonus points if you can rhyme it in a poem.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Austen puns

From 5ives:
Five terrible fake Jane Austen novels:
  1. Rash and Rationality
  2. Punk and Punctuality
  3. Beast and Bestiality
  4. Funk and Functionality
  5. Fried and Credulous
This post's theme word: bossive, "crooked; deformed."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lovecraft reviews chocolates

I love H. P. Lovecraft's diction, and the parody "Selections from H. P. Lovecraft's Brief Tenure as a Whitman's Sampler Copywriter" (from McSweeney's) combines that love with my love of chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Fudge

Dark! All-encompassing, eternal darkness! Human eyes cannot penetrate the stygian blackness of this unholy confection!

This post's theme word: waugh, "tasteless; insipid; unpleasant to smell or taste; sickly, faint, weak, etc."

Friday, August 8, 2008


I just finished Stephen Bury and Neal Stephenson's Interface. The book was decently good, but I found the conclusion dissatisfying. It felt like a deus ex machina, insofar as all the actions were sped-up and suddenly everything came together; however, it was not optimistic. Even the characters I liked turned out to be slightly crooked.

Despite my quarrels with the conclusion, the writing was as crisp and clever as I've come to expect from Neal Stephenson. My favorite piece -- that made me laugh aloud -- was this (p. 148):
The operations were conceptually simple. Incisions were made along lines that had been drawn along the lines that had been drawn on the patients' shaven heads.
"It was a debacle. I am personally ashamed. I will never do anything like that again. The level of incompetence makes me physically ill. I may shoot myself," Dr. Radhakrishnan was saying.
It builds so nicely. It's not just a debacle, he's not just personally ashamed. The text crescendos.

This post's theme word, pong, colloquially, can mean, "a strong, unpleasant smell; a stink." I heard it used thusly in the phrase, "a bestial and pongoid fashion." I think. Otherwise, I've no idea what "pongoid" means. The OED also has "pong" as derisive slang for a person of Asian descent.