29 March 2009


I met some salukis today! They were awesome, and it was a relief. My allergies were just barely piqued, and I think it was by a particular few. Yay.

The breeder lives in Odessa, MO which is just an hour and a half away, and where my mom's parents lived. We had a long visit. They have a "pet quality" 1 year old that they would give me if I liked, named Mooj. Yeah, give! They subscribe to the ancient custom of never selling salukis, only giving them as a gift. How awesome is that?

I'm off to visit another breeder (with 3 year olds) in Moberly, MO tomorrow evening. And Stephanie told me there's a breeder with 6 month old pups in Manhattan, KS, so that'll be a visit soon, I hope.

28 March 2009

Defining sport

[I drafted this post on 17 June 2008, and have just recently finished it.]

It's an age old problem. I discussed it at lunch today with four other engineers. They helped me codify my feelings about the word. This is still in flux, but I wanted to post here so Aaron could have an audience to respond. Victoria, as Aaron's nemesis on this one, you are also invited to comment.
  1. Player-player antagonism I put this one first, because it seems to be my most severe requirement. You must be able to directly affect the other players. Mind games don't count.
  2. Objective score No judges! Some sort of inarguable point system. Ties are OK.
  3. Physical finesse It's hard to think what this rules out: most games require a skill.
  4. Intense physical exertion Some activities have long-term wear and tear on the body, but a real sport will make you sweat and breathe heavy.
  5. Extended endurance And not just briefly! A sports event – and each player's participation in it – needs to last.
Some popular sports: ultimate, basketball, soccer, sumo, tennis, cycling.

Some popular non-sports:

Laned sprint
Any lane race: swim sprints, fields sprints, hurdles, etc. – the lanes rule out antagonism.
Laned distance
Judges' decisions are not inarguable. Fight 'til one can't fight.
It's a tough fight, but it's a matter of minutes before it's over.

Obviously I'm being severe in requiring every quality of an activity in order for it to qualify as a sport. It's just a way to start understanding the different parts of it, in my mind. And there's something to be said for varying degrees of each quality – but not here and now.

I must speak to baseball since Aaron likes it, I don't, and it's a particularly tricky analysis. Antagonism, objectivity, and finesse are easy yeses. But intensity and endurance – it's harder to convince me. The pitcher definitely has to endure, but there's not so much intensity. Stealing a base definitely requires an intense sprint, but endurance is not a common concern for a base-runner. The variety within baseball positions means the team as a whole has to have these things in some combination, but no player needs them all. On the other hand, they play everyday. So there's seasonal endurance, but that's a much longer period than I have in mind. American football shares many of these considerations.

Maybe you'll make some claims about sports I didn't cover in the comments? Or – surely not – disagree with me on some I did.

26 March 2009


The helpful food services dude went to the backroom to get parmesan when I asked of they had any.

Then he asked, "You want a little sprinkle sprinkle?"

I could only manage a nod. And I was a bit worried about what exactly I was agreeing to.

bad business: music

Technology changes things, and in particular the digital formats have up-ended music distribution. It's cost-free to make a perfect copy of an mp3. And mp3s are faithful dups of actual performances – better quality, often, than the live performances you have access too.

All of my music is legal, in the sense that I purchased the rights to the songs I have digital versions of. This just sort of happened one day when I got a new computer, and I've been in a financial position (and a picky enough music person) to persist. But why am I doing this? It's stupid. But legal, I guess?

The way I see it, the music industry is obsolete. Because audio is so easily reproduced and – face it – easy to record, the music industry no longer serves anyone but itself. But there's people whose job depends on it. What do we say to them? I think "Tough luck."

I'd like to dissolve record companies, turn to completely digital distribution, and only pay for live performances. Let's pay for actual entertainment again! People can burn their own CD if they want one and – calm yourself – they'll surely be a niche for those with a vinyl thing. Realize that writing music shouldn't pay the bills unless it's mind-blowing (which doesn't even require the author to record anything anymore!); performing should, because that's the experience that can't be perfectly reproduced for free.

Too harsh? I imagine a few of you have opinions on this and I'd like to hear them.

This is Daptone Records...

This sampler is shaping up to be the best free music ever.

25 March 2009

calendar curiosities

A fun tool: http://www.timeanddate.com/date/birthday.html.

And of course, I am the focus of the attention. I think I was born at 1am.

  • 10,000 days later: Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 1am

  • 15,000,000 minutes later: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 5pm

  • 250,000 hours later: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 5pm

  • 1500 weeks later: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 1am

  • 1,000,000,000 seconds later: Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 2:46:40am

22 March 2009

yep, it's true

I definitely just applied for an account at the Redneck Bank. Can't ignore 5.25% APY, especially considering that my ING Direct account just plummeted to 1.50%.

21 March 2009

happiness is complex

I realized I want a porch on my house, with a sidewalk. (Rory shared a related article.)

I got to thinking and imagined a visitor to my porch challenging my porch lifestyle (on my porch! the nerve): something about missing out on all the history, culture, and other things happening out there. Then I envisioned my response – more as an abstract, fuzzy bag of words than something I feel like serializing here. The visitor responds, "You're not a 'happy person' are you?"

I'm writing about my answer to that question.

Math is a comfort zone for me, but imaginary numbers are just weird. Applications of complex numbers (the sum of a real number and an imaginary number) do, however, abound in engineering. I got quite familiar with them in electromagnetics. They do have a fun history and are an important part of my favorite formula (snort snort heh), an instance of Euler's.
-1 = ei π
Just look at all the pieces!

The Ol' WP says Descartes called them imaginary in a derisive manner, which returns us to the porch. I use it derisively here as well. I am happy. I am finishing up my second 16 hour car ride this week and I've been cheerful throughout! It's the big picture, fluffy, abstact stuff that weighs me down. I feel happy about the day-to-day and struggle with the imaginary, speculative, ethical stuff.

I started off trying to say that my happiness was a number like day-to-day.speculative for emphasizing that the day-to-day is more important, but the whole radix system didn't work on any more levels. Then I remembered complex numbers.

So my happiness is a complex number (OMG, right?). The real part is a hefty positive number for my day-to-day happiness. My negativity is in the imaginary part. And here comes the clever, optimistic part. Multiplying conjugate complex numbers eliminates the imaginary part: perhaps pair bonding relieves some of the negativity associated with an muddled future. So, if two people are a good match (conjugal even), i2=-1 kicks in and the negativity of the product of their happinesses is eliminated. (The details fall apart on this model if you push too hard...)

/me bows. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you.

19 March 2009

Oh no!

I think I have two large, soft tumors where my lovehandles would be if I had lovehandles.

15 March 2009

Andy would be proud

I sent this email to Amazon.com MP3 Downloads customer service. A little background: with Amazon.com you get high sound quality MP3s for individual songs. If you want to download an album (such as the sweet Daily Deals), you need to use a separate program – the Amazon Downloader – which uses the .amz file to download all the MP3s. Thus, when you buy an album, you only download an .amz file and then download the MP3s later.

Do .amz files expire? I'm on a trip, but would like to purchase daily deals. Can I purchase the .amz file, email it home, and then download the MP3s to my home computer next week?

Thanks for your time.
Now I'm usually polite and forgiving with customer service, but this response was just so wrong that it pissed me off. I'm pointlessly posting the entire thing here because I had to read the whole thing, so you do too.

Thanks for writing to us at Amazon.com.

First, let me apologize for any inconvenience caused by this issue. The problem you reported is not a common error associated with the download process.

This can be corrected by deleting these temporary files. Go to the "Cache" or "Temporary Internet Files" option on your web browser (if you use Netscape, go to "Options" and choose "Network Preferences"; if you use Internet Explorer, go to "Tools" and choose "Internet Options"), and select the option to delete your cache or temporary files.

I request you to uninstall the Amazon MP3 Downloader application from your computer.1 If you do not know how to uninstall software from your computer, please refer to the Help section for your operating system or refer to the Downloader install page for more information.

I've also restored your access to "Scream (AmazonMP3 Exclusive Version)" by Chris Cornell, so that you can download them again by directly accessing the files from Your Media Library on Amazon.com at no additional charge.2

Your MP3 download may not be successful if your browser settings are not configured properly. You will need to enable your browser to accept cookies and allow pop-up windows from Amazon.com. Firewall and virus programs may also prevent successful download of your Amazon MP3 Music files. Before attempting another download, please visit the Help page below for tips on how to configure your system to allow downloads from Amazon.com:



1) Navigate to Your Media Library from Your Account or at this URL: http://www.amazon.com/library
2) Log in using your Amazon.com account e-mail address and password if prompted during the process.
3) Click on the "Downloads" tab.
4) To filter the results so only your music downloads are displayed, hover the cursor over the arrow on the "Downloads" tab and choose "Amazon MP3" from the pop-up menu.
5) Display songs available for download by locating the album in the list and clicking on the "Download" button. If you purchased only a single song, Your Media Library will still display your purchases by the album the song is from.
6) On the album detail page, click the "Download" link next to each song available to start the download.
7) As you do not have the Downloader installed, choose "Save" when prompted to save the .mp3 file.

As you downloaded a song from your browser without the Amazon MP3 Downloader, your Web browser settings control the location of the download.3 If you search for files with the extension ".mp3," you should be able to locate your purchases.

After you download a file, no further downloads will be possible from Your Media Library or through the Amazon MP3 Downloader. Because you are generally limited to download the file only once, we encourage you to always make backup copies of your MP3 files.

If you still encounter a technical problem with the file or unable to download the item successfully, please contact us again using this below mentioned URL so that we can assist you further or refund you for the same.


You can also reach Amazon MP3 Customer Service specialists directly via phone, please click the Customer Service button in the Contact Us box in the right-hand column of our Amazon MP3 Help pages:


You'll be able to enter your phone number and we'll call you at your convenience. Contacting us through the Web site ensures that you reach our specialists directly, allows you to verify security before a call is placed, and ensures we have your account information ready when we call you. Our live customer service associates are available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, seven days a week.

Again, I apologize for the trouble you had with this Amazon MP3 purchase.

Thanks for shopping in Amazon MP3 Music Store.


Amazon.com works with your Web browser to download MP3 music files. Here are some tips to help you successfully complete your download:

- Click each song "Download" link one at a time slowly. Clicking too quickly or clicking multiple links in rapid succession may cause an error.

- If using the Downloader, make sure a song has started downloading or appears in the Downloader queue before clicking "Download" for the next song.

- If downloading MP3 files without the Downloader, wait until one song has downloaded completely before clicking Download for the next song


Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:
If not, click here:

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

We're Building Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company
Thanks for reading this far.
  1. This is an overly aggressive and totally unrelated suggestion.
  2. This is the last thing I bought, but is again totally unrelated to my question.
  3. And... I did use the Downloader to buy that album.
I clicked no and pressed the issue.
Please route my previous question to someone who both understands English and has purchased an album using your Amazon MP3 Downloads service. I am disgruntled about the obvious disregard for my inquiry shown by the first reponse.
That was kind of rough – I admit. Perhaps insensitive? But I felt my snappiness wasn't misplaced. It worked.

Hello from Amazon.com.

First please allow me to apologize for the delay in the response. Please be assured we are making every effort to assist customers as quickly as possible.

I'm sorry to hear that you had an unsatisfactory experience when you contacted us previously.

We pride ourselves in convenience and efficiency at Amazon.com, but in this instance we have fallen short of our goal. I'm truly sorry that your impression of doing business with Amazon.com has been so negative.

I request you to surely go ahead and purchase daily deal and download it to your home computer whenever you wish because .amz files do not expires. If any time you feels that you need to re-download the songs we will restore the songs for you at no additional cost any time.

You are generally limited to download the file only once. However, in any case you loose the data or unable to download the file at any time, we will make an exception and restore your access to MP3 tracks.

Please be assured that we are here to make things easier for you. We will take each and every action to prevent you from bearing any loss.

As a representative of Amazon.com, I want to assure you that we value our customers' trust above all else--it's the foundation on which our company was built.

Please be assured that we are here to make things easier for you and will do whatever we can to prevent you from bearing any kind of loss. We want you to have a pleasant, successful experience with our website each time you visit.

he files you purchase from Amazon MP3 Music Downloads are free of any digital rights management software to allow you more freedom with managing your music library; however, we do ask that you respect the licensing agreements outlined by Amazon.com and our content providers. This includes avoiding any use of the MP3 files that is specifically prohibited in the Amazon MP3 Music Downloads Terms of Use.

I hope you found this information helpful. You can also access additional information about our MP3 Music Downloads in our Help pages here:


Thanks for your interest in MP3 Music Downloads on Amazon.com.

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:
If not, click here:

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

Rohit J.
We're Building Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company
Similar to Bill Gates' suggestion to charge for sending emails, I would much rather pay a dollar per customer service issue than pay the time to wade through the first few pointless interactions (like this story or being transferred on the phone).

13 March 2009

bup bum... ba da da da dum!

I don't recall when or with whom I came up with this idea, but we noticed an uncanny parallel between the principal ballpark condiments and the Triforce.

You see: Mustard, pickle relish, and ketchup nicely correspond to power, wisdom, and courage. Mustard, packing the most potent punch, is clearly power. Pickles are aged and thus wise (and relish is pretty much pickle shards...). And ketchup is practically liquid courage: it makes anything you don't like easier to eat.

Parker and Tyler and I decided long ago that Parker is Courage, Tyler is Power, and I am Wisdom. And!: I prefer relish, Tyler mustard, and Parker ketchup. Go cosmic irony.

08 March 2009

en passant

Also in the funny friend department, Parker landed a good one.

(yelling to upstairs) Parker: What are you doing Sunday?
(yelling from upstairs) Tyler: I'm busy, some of my co-workers are coming over to celebrate my birthday.
(quietly, to me) Parker: When was his birthday?
Me: It's Monday... as is mine.
Parker: Aww shit. I just betrayed the fact that I didn't remember yours by trying to hide from Tyler that I didn't know his. Fuckin' en passant bullshit.

It took me a while to understand the appropriateness of the en passant reference, but once I thought about it, it was genius.

This is not the right way to recount such a funny situation.

eliminade? elimonade? elemonade?

Last Thursday, I heard – for the first time in my life – my doctor say, "You could lose a few pounds." That was a bit of a shock, particularly because I'm in fine shape. I was a few pounds heavier than I normally am (175-180)... but I have been slammin' some no-bake cookies in the last couple weeks. Then again, I've also been doing push-ups and sit-ups; perhaps it's new muscle.

In actuality, I believe it was because it was an early appointment and I hadn't yet done my morning duties. Dooties. Poop.

I was telling Adrienne this story on the phone and used the word eliminated instead of pooped. I really like the replacement, but I don't know where I heard it.

Today we were discussing the common topic of drinking our own urine. She said "u-lemonade," which I thought was kind of a lame portmanteau. Then I realized she said elimin-ade, which is one of the funniest things I have ever heard. +1 Adrienne.

03 March 2009

Billy Batson must really like music

My favorite non-obvious iPhone application is Shazam. It is the application that is most specifically useful to have on my person at all times and works just like I need it to. I use it in the car all the time. For instance, on the way home tonight, I used it to identify Bring it on Home off of KJHK, amidst three other songs.

I just watched the riff of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with Stace and A. It was excellent, like the glorious, glorious MST3K of yore and left me eager to watch another. We three plan on soon watching the riff of Battlefield Earth.

02 March 2009

Ricky Söze

A favorite movie of mine, and the best Del Toro role, ever.

And, for Adrienne:

01 March 2009

fortune cookie, ftw

You could make a name for yourself in the field of medicine.
At a Chinese buffet with two teacher friends, I was listening as they both commiserated about the uncertainty of their unemployment after the year's end. I repeated my (ridiculous) suggestion/offer of a (ridiculous) small business entrepreneurship that (ridiculously) required no capital.

One found some comfort in this fortune. I'll have to find another business partner, I suppose.