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Open Source and my ATH M40fs September 28, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, Other.
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I just finished listening to last night’s Open Source featuring green chemistry genius John Warner.  And I was talking to somebody else who had heard the show on WUML this morning (it is rebroadcast at 6:00am the next day).  He said he really liked the show and thought Lydon very entertaining.  I have a problem with the show, I was telling him, that seems to be related to my short attention span.  I can listen to a lot of different talk shows and drift around in my own thoughts, but that particular one seems to demand more attention, for more extensive stints, than I can comfortably give. 

Spent a lot of time thinking about some headphones I bought during the summer but had not had a chance to use, rather than the content of the radio show.  It’s sad, I know, but these are the best headphones I have ever had. 

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New page added–FAQs/WTFs September 28, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, Other.
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Added today a page of FAQs and WTFs, in response to all of those inquiries I’ve been getting.

Books–Anansi Boys September 27, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Books, Memory, Other.
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Niel Gaiman rules.  Just finished reading this one this morning.  Anansi Boys is your typical book about a guy who finds out that he is a god, rather late in life, and that knowledge leads to all sorts of eerie and troubling plot complications and an eventual happy ending.  I really liked this one, to the point where it made me wonder why I didn’t like American Gods.  I can still remember quite vividly sections of that book.  And the characters were very memorable, too.  But by the end I had trouble following the plot. 

Now that sort of thing, my inability to remain interested in a complex narrative, has not really troubled me in quite a while.  Many of Terry Pratchett’s books, particularly those featuring Rincewind, leave me behind.  But that doesn’t detract much from the experience.  I’ll chalk it up to my training as an economist during the Reagan Era, where complexity was only good if it was of the mathematical sort. 

Oh, and in the final sequence of events the villain (we’re back to Anansi Boys here) is a Tiger, which brings to mind weird comparisons with The Life of Pi (see below), and the Complete Calvin and Hobbes (where the cat is both a trickster and the capricious six-year-old’s superego.)

Backup September 26, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, Other.
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I’m starting to wonder about how to back-up my own site.  It’s not that I don’t trust WordPress, because I’m sure they know more about this stuff than I do, but when I looked at this blog first thing this morning it looked like this:

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. . . which is not as attractive as the site usually is.  So it made me think about this stuff. 

Origamido September 25, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Origami, Other.
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It just occurred to me that I should link to Michael LaFosse, if possible, for the post below.  So I googled him and found that he is just up the road from me at a place called Origamido.  “Origamido Studio, located on historic Wingate Street in the Haverhill Arts District, is the only dedicated origami studio and gallery in the United States.”  I am going to have to make a weekend trip up there to see some of their stuff.

Making a Paper Staple Cover September 25, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Origami, Other.
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O.K., this one seems a little odd, I admit.  But let’s just say you want to be able to give somebody a fancy document without using a folder and you don’t want the staple to scratch her desk.  This is modeled on a page corner fold I saw a few years back, which according to Rick Beech was designed by Michael LaFosse (see Beech’s The Origami Handbook, a startlingly good guide for the beginnner.)

Anyway, you start with a square piece of paper, about 2 1/2 inches.  Fold diagonally.

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Now fold diagonally again. 

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Then unfold and fold the bottom corner up.

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Flip and do the same thing to the other side.

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Then take the bottom corner and fold it up. 

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Do the same to the other side.

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Now unfold the whole thing and staple it with the document like this:

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And refold it so that you get the picture below (shown from the back of the document now.

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Now flip it to the front and tuck that corner into the inside (I probably should precrease this part but never seem to remember to do that).

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Now the other corner has to tuck into the back, otherwise it will not stay together correctly.

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So now this thing looks like this from the back.

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And from the front it looks like this. 

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Which actually is better with paper that it all the same color, although that wouldn’t be as easy to see.

Citgo Sign September 23, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, Books, Other.
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I just got done writing this page and then published it and it lost all of the text that I had written.  Why do you have to save a page before you publish it in WordPress?  Why cannot you do both at the same time like Blogger does?  Irritating . . .

I was listening to NPR on the way home from Cambridge last night and heard that somebody (I did not catch who exactly, or what office they were running for), is asking Boston University to take down the big Citgo sign, which is on their property.  Apparently Citgo is a Venezuelan concern.  The sign is a focal point, almost what Kurt Vonnegut would once have called a wampeter, of the aforementioned Neal Stephenson book The Big U.  Students at the University worship it and look to it for guidance. 

Hugo Chavez has caused quite a stir.  The Boston Globe says this morning that Noam Chomsky’s 2003 book has rocketed to the top of the bestsellers list.  Apparently Chavez waved the book in the air during his United Nations General Assembly speech.

Books–The Life of Pi September 21, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Books, Other.
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Just finished it yesterday evening.  Read it in less than two days because I was home sick from work.  An amazing story.  And I imagine quite controversial, given the ending.  I’ll stick a few choice quotes in the books section of this blog, but there is really no way to put anything in a review about the plot without giving away the ending.  So I have to say vague things, I suppose, and that other than the fact that I really enjoyed it and cannot stop thinking about it I don’t quite know what to say about it just yet.  It is about a sixteen-year-old boy, the son of a zookeeper in Pondicherry, India.  His father doesn’t like the fact that P.M. Gandhi has annexed their state and decides to sell all of the zoo animals and move to Canada.  Their ship, containing all of the animals, sinks.  Pi (short for Piscine) is the only human survivor, and he lands in Mexico more than 200 days later. 

Some of the attraction of the book is a longstanding attraction I have to shipwreck stories, being from a sailing family.  I read a book called, I think, Survive the Savage Sea, about a family whose boat was destroyed by whales, when I was maybe nine-years-old.  And I was hooked.  But it is also a beautiful and strange book and a joy to read. 

Books–The Big U September 20, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Books, Memory, Other.
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This was Neal Stephenson’s first novel, I guess.  He is one of the authors of my generation that often makes me think “I could never write something this good.”  I re-read Cryptonomicon and the entire Boroque Cycle this year and intend to re-read The Diamond Age as well.  Anyway, his first book made me think “I could write this well.” 

Not that it isn’t a good read, and very funny in spots–it is.  The Big U takes place at the author’s alma mater, Boston University, during the Silber administration, and chaos is a central feature.  During the last quarter of the book the campus is the site of all-out war between a terrorist group and various other factions on campus.  O.K., it is far-fetched, but there are a lot of things about it that ring very true, such as the University carving out a secret agreement with the Federal Government to store nuclear waste under the campus.  It is only towards the end that the characters seem to hemmorhage verisimilitude.  And Stephenson’s descriptive passages began to seem more tedious than masterful.

Although The Big U takes place on a college campus during the same time period when I was in college, I didn’t find it as nostalgic as I thought I would.  I was a commuter, so I didn’t get the same residential experience that was depicted in the novel.  Although there is much that I do remember, such as the computer environment of campuses of that era, much was unfamiliar to me. 

I’m going to re-do my categories today September 19, 2006

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, Constructivism.
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That whole idea of making them negative was interesting (to me and me only, I think) but is getting in the way not only in terms of ease-of-use, but in terms of others being able to find this site.  So it is possible that these posts will appear category-less for a short period of time while I straighten it out.