Thursday, September 27, 2007

birthday addendum 1

Dan has drawn a fishy for me.

Flattered, Honored, Speechless.

A glance at my Shared Items this morning will show what wonderful friends and family I have. Thanks to Maren for organizing and thanks to all who participated - I'm touched.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

More Secret Language of Cars

Rob Donoghue has just posted about the Secret Language of Cars, too. (here's me on the same topic, in case you missed it)

Rob adds the following symbols to the lexicon:

Go Play
Diver Down
Watch my Car
(Crime Prevention)

And poses questions about these two:

Anyone know what those mean?

Addendum: Davey figured out the one with the arrows.

Decision Tree: Prank, Ruse, or Tomfoolery?

Read all about it over on lowercase numbers

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Stephen Fry: Comedian, Genius, Gadgethound?

Stephen Fry (yes, that Stephen Fry) now has a gadget blog? Well, maybe it won't be gadgets all the time, but wow, I would not have expected a Stephen Fry blog to be a big old iphone missive! If you've never watched "A Bit of Fry & Laurie" and only know Hugh Laurie as 'Dr. House' then you're in for a comedic treat!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Playing with what's available from, so I added a little playlist on the sidebar for you to play some of the songs I've been listening to lately. It said it would only play 30 second previews, but it seems to be playing the whole songs, for me at least.

It'll get updated from time to time, but not with any kind of regularity. Let me know if it plays the whole songs for you, and any thoughts you care to share about the feature or the music.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

Kerry was feeling mean, so he sent me to the wikipedia page explaining the gramatically correct sentence "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo". I had to read it until I understood it, and sounded like an insane man while explaining it to another coworker, as we both said Buffalo far more times than a reasonable person should in a year. "Indeed, for any n ≥ 1, the sentence 'buffalo' is grammatically correct," so we could still be saying it and our sentence would still be describing the brusque nature of upstate New York bison to each other.

Plane of Knowledge: Know your Antediluvian Patriarchs!

So, this came up in conversation today. I don't expect everyone to get all of these, they're pretty hard to remember. But I expect everyone to get a few of them. I'm giving you Adam and Noah, you fill in the rest as best you can. If you're really feeling like a cheater, this is Genesis 5, KJV.

3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name (2)________:
4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten (2)________ were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:
5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.
6 And (2)________ lived an hundred and five years, and begat (3)________:
7 And (2)________ lived after he begat (3)________ eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:
8 And all the days of (2)________ were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.
9 And (3)________ lived ninety years, and begat (4)________:
10 And (3)________ lived after he begat (4)________ eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:
11 And all the days of (3)________ were nine hundred and five years: and he died.
12 And (4)________ lived seventy years, and begat (5)________:
13 And (4)________ lived after he begat (5)________ eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters:
14 And all the days of (4)________ were nine hundred and ten years: and he died.
15 And (5)________ lived sixty and five years, and begat (6)________:
16 And (5)________ lived after he begat (6)________ eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters:
17 And all the days of (5)________ were eight hundred and ninety and five years: and he died.
18 And (6)________ lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat (7)________:
19 And (6)________ lived after he begat (7)________ eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
20 And all the days of (6)________ were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.
21 And (7)________ lived sixty and five years, and begat (8)________:
22 And (7)________ walked with God after he begat (8)________ three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
23 And all the days of (7)________ were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And (7)________ walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
25 And (8)________ lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat (9)________:
26 And (8)________ lived after he begat (9)________ seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:
27 And all the days of (8)________ were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.
28 And (9)________ lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:
29 And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.
30 And (9)________ lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:
31 And all the days of (9)________ were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.
32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat (10)________, (11)________, and (12)________.

Best of luck.

Google Book Search 'My Library' so far falls short

So, I saw the items I Shared about Google Book Search now allowing a 'My Library' feature, with the potential promise of letting me put up a collection of books and allowing me to search them. If true, that would be huge - put all my church books up and let google pull out the bits I need for a talk, or build a whole ideal research library and go wild looking up text within. Sadly, that's not the case. I figured a way for Librarything to give me all my ISBNs, which I then imported into Google reader - about 1/3 were rejected for unknown reasons.

The rest are here, in 'My Library'. Kinda cool, but nothing Librarything doesn't already do. One thing you'll notice is that nearly all of the books have 'No Preview Available', which means their text isn't searchable on Google Book Search. A few have 'Limited Preview', which is just as useless.

So, for now at least, the 'My Library' function isn't all that useful.

Wherein you discover that I'm a chip off the old block...

My dad has posted two excellent decision trees: Moisture on the Earth and Moisture in the Air. Mystery remains where I get my logical nature...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Secret Language of Cars

I have a fascination with symbols and cryptolects that manifests itself in derivative interests in Heraldry, Vexillology, Labanotation, Hobo Signs, and other related fields where graphic design and linguistics combine. I suppose the umbrella term Semiotics is probably best. I don't have any formal training - its just one of those things I like to notice in the world around me and think about. So, when I see a symbol conveyed, I want to know what it means, why its there, and how it was selected. For the longest time several years ago, I didn't know what this meant when I saw it on other people's cars:

Now I know that its the symbol of the Human Rights Campaign, which is "working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality." So, it doesn't mean the person driving the car is any of those things, but if your noticeably effeminate male colleague has such a sticker on his car, I'd call that confirmation. Ok, case solved. But then I started seeing this one:

No idea what it meant. Months ago, maybe more than a year now, somebody was talking about stickers on an internet forum I read and they said this one allegedly meant a preference for BDSM (if you don't know what that means, just let me say its best not to look it up at work), and that it was to help people in that subculture identify eachother. Yikes! So for months and months scenes like the following would occur: I'd be in a parking lot, and notice a middle-aged woman with her kids loading groceries into her car, and see the sticker. "Really!? Her?!" I'd think. Or I'd be driving, and some random old guy would pass me and I'd see the sticker - "WOW, that's just... weird!" Or maybe worse, some reasonably attractive young woman would have the sticker on her car and I'm left thinking - "Kinky!" It's all very funny in retrospect, but I really had nothing else to go on but one internet poster's suppositions.

So finally I started seeing variations on it - one was a bow shape like you see yellow ribbons, only with the black and blue, and it said "Heroes live forever" in it - that didn't seem to fit the former profile. In the course of this research, I found a few news stories about its impact and use, and they led me back to the wikipedia article on The Thin Blue Line. Go read it, I'll wait.


So, thank goodness all those people I was seeing were cops or family of cops, and not the other thing, or at least not advertising the other thing. It's pretty weird that a symbol that is so simple has loads of sites selling stickers that seem to require you to prove that you're law enforcement. Of course the police that were interviewed for news stories say it has no effect - what do you expect anyone to say? I was talking with my friend Rob about it last night and he thinks its totally corrupt - I think it's an acceptable level of nepotism. What do you think?

There are other secret car stickers - there's one I still haven't figured out or found a picture of on the internet. It's a green-ish square with what looks like a foxhunting cap and some kind of fox depiction. I don't know if I've ever seen it outside VA, and I couldn't find any reference to it in any of the Virginia fox-hunting pages I trawled. I could be totally wrong about what it depicts - I wish I had a picture but you'll just have to keep your eyes open for it.

I'm not talking about little three-letter black on white ovals that mock the country codes of Europe, and I don't even think the Ichthys and its Darwin/FSM/Cthulhu parodies count. But I'm sure there are some more.

What other secret signs have you seen on cars?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


As many of you may have heard, Michelle has landed a job opportunity that will take us to the North of England for about 2-3 years starting around June 2008. We're very excited and more than a little nervous, as I begin to look for jobs I can do there, and as we realize the enormity of preparations needed for such a move. But it's lots of fun to think about too, and we have lots of time left to prepare.