Monday, August 30, 2010

Internet usability

I have become recently frustrated at the unusability of teh internet [sic]. No, I don't want your cookies or to run Flash... and as a consequence, many pages simply don't load, or they load forever, taking up memory and bandwidth without ever deciding to display some frakking content. I don't understand why the internet has trended this way. There must be other users like me out there, who are increasingly shut out of miscellaneous internet browsing.

Do most users not notice? Is this because, in my reluctance to buy any new hardware, I have finally fallen behind the lagging event horizon of "supported"? Are my computers' software/hardware combinations now actually too old to browse the latest, grooviest incarnation of teh internets [sic]? Maybe most users:
  1. Regularly destroy and cannot rescuscitate computers, and thus purchase new computers every... 2?... years. (I remember hearing a statistic like that once: the average laptop lives for 1.5 years. My last store-bought new computer is from 2005.)
  2. Accept cookies.
  3. Accept and install whatever plugins claim to be required.
  4. Don't block ads. (<-- N.B. this must be the case, since otherwise the advertisers would figure out a different way to attack our eyeballs.)
It's frustrating, and I feel like a whiny old dinosaur. I long for the "good old days" that are so old I never witnessed them: text-only browsing, with pure content right at one's fingertips.

This post's theme word: anomie, "social instability and alienation caused by the erosion of norms and values." Modern anomie is based upon flash cookies and banner ads.
This post written like Cory Doctorow.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Je suis arrivée

I am home, and tired. It's the wrong time here, and the apartment smells funny, and the podcast I listened to on the subway made me mad about sexism. Then the first news article I plucked out of my RSS feeds was also about sexism, and now I am angry in a futile way -- I can't change the story on the podcast or the news. Just my own story.

Right now, my story is about sleep. And doing my laundry. Tomorrow I will continue my consistent policy of smacking sexism in its metaphorical butt and telling it to move along, now. (Condescendingly.)

Further, retro-dated posts about my trip forthcoming.

This post's theme word: menhir, "upright stone monument." Want an easy way to remember it? Think of any phallic upright stone monument: it loudly proclaims, "There were men here!" Stupid men.
This post written like Cory Doctorow.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I passed a shop marked by this sign:
Google translate suggests it is perhaps a jewelry shop. I want to believe that "ocelove" is the action of loving an ocelot, and it is a shop dedicated to such love.

This post's theme word: videlicet, "that is; namely; to wit."
This post written like Vladimir Nabokov.

Office of typos

I happened upon a building labeled thusly:
What was it? Further investigation suggested that it was a local (or national?) broadcast TV company. But why buy 5-foot-tall letters to spell "typos" on the side of the building? (It doesn't seem to be an actual Czech word that unfortunately spells an English word.) This just seems to be asking for trouble, or perhaps in a more positive light, excusing mistakes before they're made. Every time a typo occurs, people just point to the side of the building and shrug.

This post's theme word: otiose, "superfluous, indolent, futile."
This post written like David Foster Wallace.

Tree wart

Walking along the former wall of the city, I noticed this enormous tree wart.What is it? It doesn't have any other visible plants or animals growing out of it, and the rest of the tree was normal.
A close-up shot of the wart texture:
This post's theme word: asperity, "harshness or roughness."
This post written like James Joyce.

... and other religious things

Just outside the Capuchin Crypt in Brno, there is an alley with touristy Capuchin-crypt-themed stores. Apparently.
The "and other religious things" really gets me. I went inside, and was unable to sort the items into groups, and too shy to ask the storekeeper what "other religious things" were offered.

This post's theme word: eremite, "a recluse, especially for religious reasons." Can one become a recluse for religious and linguistic reasons?
This post written like Dan Brown, unfortunately.

Everything is reconstructed

Everything I saw in Brno was accompanied by a blurb of English-language text explaining who first built/designed it, when and how many times it was destroyed, and what surviving shards were used in the relocated reconstruction, which took place in the last 15 years. The entire town center is both old and new in this way.
Some of the translations were a bit sketchy, as well -- I wished I could read Czech or German, to double-check the English. Maybe the Czech gave more interesting information, since in som places it was two or three times as long as the English-language information (when such was available at all).

This post's theme word: hypotaxis, use of long sentences.
This post written like Dan Brown.

Monday, August 9, 2010

5 6 7 8 9 10.. ah ah ah!

It's 05:06:07pm on 08/09/10. I like to think that somewhere, a felt puppet of a vampire is croaking his laugh into the skies! (HT: danteshepherd.)

This post's theme word: campanile, "bell tower." Ask not for whom the campanile tolls...
This post written like Stephen King.

Friday, August 6, 2010

"The permanent solution to flushing."

This display of "Bowel Buddy" cookies arrested me with its terrible... promises.
This bread-loaf-sized package purports to include 2 bran wafers. Just two? Each wafer must be the size of my hand; a serving size is 1/6 wafer.The adjacent package of "Bowel Buddy bran wafers" promises "the permanent solution to flushing." Wow, I didn't know that cookies to "Combat Constipation & Irregularity" were so... final. It's a permanent solution? Does each cookie fiber lodge in your digestive tract forever? Is this one package a lifetime supply of "bowel buddies"?

This post's theme word: acnestis, "the part of the body where one cannot reach to scratch."
I wrote this post like David Foster Wallace.

Fallen branch

I happened upon this fallen branch on my way to campus. It looked like maybe it landed on a car...But it was a near-miss.
You can see where the branch broke. It didn't look singed by lightning. Maybe a curious and overweight raccoon had a surprising midnight stroll.

This post's theme word: avoirdupois, "heaviness or weight of a person."
I wrote this post like Stephen King..

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Apostrophe use

I was pleased to find this sign in Chinatown:You see, the DVDs belong to the adults! I can't determine if the adults who own the DVDs are of all nationalities, or if the DVDs themselves are of all nationalities. (I think it's clear what the sign intends, but I like these other possibilities.)

This post's thematically-related comic:I wrote this post like Cory Doctorow.

Cucumber smoothie

K.'s very kind parents have a profusion of cucumbers. In the global cucumber market graph, they are a source. Luckily, just a short distance away (2 edges), I form a cucumber sink.

K. gave me a bunch of cucumbers and the challenge to make a cucumber smoothie. Here's what I did:
  1. Wash the cucumber.
  2. Slice it into smaller pieces (so that it will fit into the blender later).
  3. Freeze.before freezingafter freezing
  4. Blend with yogurt and cilantro. (N. suggested melon, which would be good -- alas! I had none. Something sweet would add a more traditional smoothie taste.)before blending: heterogeneousafter blending: homogeneous
  5. Drink/eat, depending on consistency.
My default Test Eater R. didn't like it, but I did. With cilantro and no sweetener, it was a mild, refreshing icy drink. I can imagine other cucumber smoothies with a more traditional sweetness and maybe some more flavorful fruit. Frozen cucumber chunks can substitute for ice in other, more fruity smoothies.

This post's theme word: salmagundi, "a heterogeneous mixture," or "a mixed salad of various ingredients, such as meat, eggs, anchovies, onions, oil, vinegar, etc."
I wrote this post like .

Meaningful additions to human knowledge

For the first time, I have read a reference, in a work written by another person, to my own research. It feels good. It feels like I've done something real and of significance. It feels like maybe I am actually attached at some wispy peripheral spoke to the great web of human knowledge.

I wish I could keep this feeling and recall it in times of grad-school-induced despair, in "dark places when all other lights go out." But this delight, and that despair, will fade as all things do, back to my baseline curiosity about the world. And yet now, for a moment, it is good.

This post's theme word: countervail, "to counterbalance or to neutralize."
This post is written like: Vladimir Nabokov.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I really love the Portuguese Sweetbread recipe from Beard on Bread.My eating audience likes it, too. I now buy the biggest bag of flour available (10kg); I've nearly finished my second bag this year.

This post's theme word: edacious, "voracious, devouring."
I wrote this post like Vladimir Nabokov.