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64 entries from March 2004

Guess the point of today's spam: "Approval dept."

In my Yahoo! Mail account's spam folder:

We're going to regret this, my friend said. I was just thinking. I'm cold, you said, staring at the continuation we had to feel through yesterday. We're going to regret this, my friend said.

Are you getting pieces of this? (I'm loving the way you walk with me so quietly, contentedly.) Can you tell me the answer? she asked. Suddenly, she wasn't there.

Love what you do and do what you love This was a place without the internet, without email, without the rush of business meetings and untapped desires. I'd walk down to the stream, look around, and take a deep breath. How embarrassing.

You can't go up to the unit. Nobody's allowed up there. I wished so deeply for the change to come about. My job was to apply the formula. (I'm loving the way you walk with me so quietly, contentedly.) (Things were looking worse.)


This spam was attempting to sell mortgage and auto-loan refinancing.

What an effective sales pitch!

New prescription-drug advertising technique

On my way to work this morning I heard an advertisement for Flonase in which the spokesvoice intoned that Flonase offers the "lowest average copay of all major allergy prescription medications" (or similarly worded tripe).

I don't use any prescription meds on a regular basis, but several of my friends use Flonase or similar allergy meds. The drug coverage plan I'm on offers a $30 copay for Flonase (any brand-name drug for that matter). I imagine the ad people surveyed a hand-picked group of plans with lower copays to back up their lowest-average-copay claim.

What struck me more, however, was that I'd never heard a drug advertisement talking about cost at all, and certainly not cost as a function of copay. Since many people who use prescription meds of this type typically will have some sort of insurance coverage for it, discussing price as a copay level strikes me as a pretty good approach to it, in that mildly sneaky way advertising works at all levels.

Depressing music

I like a pretty wide variety of musical styles, but the songs I end up considering my favorites are often slower songs that sound mournful or pensive even if they aren’t strictly so. My family mother has taken, in fact, to calling much of my music collection “dirges” because of this overall mournful sound.

No sharing on this post

Music I’m willing to share is linked directly from this page. No link, nothing sharing.

Don’t email asking for files.
Couple days ago I picked up Vienna Teng’s album Warm Strangers. An outstanding album, but one song, “Passage,” strikes me as the single most depressing song I’ve ever heard.

A haunting first-person a cappella account of the aftermath of a woman’s death in a car crash, the song presents the changes wrought in the lives of her family and friends within the first few days and then after several months and years beyond.

The first verse:

I died in a car crash two days ago
was unrecognizable
when they pulled me from the gears
no one’s fault, no one’s bottle
no one’s teenage pride or throttle
our innocence is all the worse for fears
the other walked away alive
arms wrapped now around his wife

There’s an MP3 clip of the song available there as well, should the lyrics alone prove not depressing enough for you. I heartily recommend you hear it for yourself, because the lyrics alone do it no justice.

You can find the clip from her discography page, which displays Teng’s most recent album by default. Click the link for Warm Strangers to view the song list, and the clip is available by clicking the song’s name on the left side of the page. The structure of Teng’s site prevents direct linking, but I hope too that sending you there will add to her fanbase.

The rest of the lyrics:

Continue reading "Depressing music" »

Random Thoughts Clearinghouse

In order of their occurrence to me as I type this:

Going through papers and such as I prepare to pack for a move next month. So far I've found 14 pay statements I haven't even opened, since I have direct deposit and the transactions download into my bank statement with Quicken.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Also have come across restaurant receipts dating back to February 2002, which is odd because I'd already accounted for those transactions and tossed the receipts before I left Salt Lake City in March 2002. Or so I thought.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

I'm getting sick of a recent phenomenon in my life wherein people demand explanations for my actions and then tell me 30 minutes later that I don't have to explain my actions.There's an older Russian gentleman who lives in the building northeast of mine. He parks his car in the spaces southeast of my building. This Russian gentleman looks like the stereotypical Russian gentleman, complete to bushy moustache curved slightly at the tips and vodka shots sneaked from bottles in brown bags and babushka-and-winter-coat-wearing wife and young wide-eyed child. The Russian gentleman presses his wife and child into washing the family's Toyota every Saturday, rain or shine. The child gets the Beat The Floor Mats With a Stick duty, which strikes me as this generation's banging-erasers-together equivalent, what with the rise of dry-erase boards in schools.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

If you feel like you've said or done something that requires an apology, make one. If you didn't need to apologize, the person to whom you're apologizing will tell you so.The global scope of the economy reduced for handy use in your kitchen: Potholders made in China and sold in America by a Swedish company!

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Banana leaves apparently make great furniture and desk accesories when the leaves are woven like rattan and lacquered over 30 times.

Seattle Times: Artist has Greenlanders seeing red

COPENHAGEN, Denmark—An artist with 780 gallons of red paint, three fire hoses and a 20-member crew at his disposal went to Greenland in search of a blank canvas large enough to accommodate his creative impulse.

Painted iceberg off Greenland coast
Painted iceberg off Greenland coast. (AP photo: Lars Nyboell)
The result is a blood-red iceberg now sitting off the country's western coast.

"We all have a need to decorate Mother Nature because it belongs to all us," Danish artist Marco Evaristti said yesterday. "This is my iceberg; it belongs to me."

Evaristti and his crew sailed in two ice breakers from Ilullissat, Greenland, on Wednesday.

Working in minus 9 degree weather, it took about two hours for the 40-year-old artist to paint the iceberg's exposed tip, a volume of nearly 10,000 square feet.

He said the team sprayed the iceberg with the same dye used to tint meat, diluted with sea water.

Evaristti, who was born in Chile, drew widespread attention—and disdain—when he displayed 10 working blenders filled with goldfish in a Danish gallery in 2000. He invited guests to turn the devices on and someone did, grinding up a pair of goldfish.

The gallery director was tried on charges of animal cruelty but acquitted.

Seattle Times: Global cooling? History reveals cold, hard facts

The Little Ice Age and "the 8,200-year event" are not exactly household terms. Once, only a handful of climate scientists puzzled over these episodes of abrupt climate change. Now, the topic is getting scrutiny from the Pentagon, Congress and even Hollywood—where a disaster movie set for release in May depicts a sudden deep freeze.

One reason for all the interest: While policy-makers have worried long and hard about global warming, a growing body of evidence suggests natural forces could just as easily push Earth's average temperatures downward. In the past, the planet's climate has changed 18 degrees in as little as 10 years.

That may not sound like much. But the last time the planet was 18 degrees colder, it was still in an ice age. "There's the very real potential of the climate system changing dramatically and rapidly" in ways that lie outside modern human experience, says Mark Eakin, who heads the paleoclimatology program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
From the Christian Science Monitor by way of the Seattle Times quote of the day: 03/26/04


<BobInDaShadows> It's been my life goal to have a quote on bash
<BobInDaShadows> That and to meet somebody from Wyoming.
<Keiser> Why Wyoming?
<BobInDaShadows> Have YOU ever met somebody from Wyoming?
<Keiser> Good point

I spent a week in Laramie in the summer of 198...7, was it? I think so; I was 15 at the time, and that would've been in the summer of '87. Anyway, for a youth-group leadership training conference. Met a few hundred people, perhaps FIVE of whom were from Wyoming.

Improper load security

Today on 35th Ave NE I ended up behind a Toyota Corolla which had a fairly expensive-looking mountain bike poking out its trunk. The driver, who was on his cell phone the entire time, had secured the bike solely by tying a short length of cord between the bike frame and the trunk lid. The lid bounced endlessly, lifting the bike each time, and the driver in his cell-phone-induced inattention kept slamming on his brakes every time he saw the trunk bounce.

Net effect: A line of about 15 cars crawled down 35th at roughly 13.9 mph, all 14 following drivers waiting breathlessly for the bike to bounce out of the trunk and get run over 14 times.

Reminded me of the story of a few weeks back (and last week): A board flew off an improperly secured load on a pickup truck on I-5 and smashed through the windshield of a woman's vehicle, hitting her in the face and blinding her permanently. They were lucky, as it were, to find a fingerprint on the board (it was part of one of those requires-assembly entertainment cabinets you can buy at Wal-Mart or Target) and to match the print to the truck's driver, who may face charges if it's determined he knew (or should have known) the board flew off his truck and didn't stop to render aid.

The story of the move

Finally, I’m getting around to describing the Day From Hell as my sister Katharine moved out of the 3-bedroom apartment she’d shared with our friend Sonya for a couple of years, and into a 1-bedroom in the same complex.

But the truth is, I’m not in a writing-the-story mood even now. Instead, I hereby offer, in a handy Talking Points Bullet List format, the following Solemn Declarations:

  • Your understanding of “one day” equaling “24 hours” absolutely disagrees with U-Haul’s policy that “one day” equals “4 hours.” Even though they will repeatedly reassure you that your rental is for “one full day,” their full day and your full day are wildly different creatures.

  • If the U-Haul location manager has the shifty-eyed look of a hopped-up weasel and can’t (or won’t) look his customers directly in the eye, consider running out the door. This is a sign of Bad Things to Come.

  • And be sure to check the truck’s condition before you drive it off the lot. Especially if the truck is on a charging stand when you arrive. The truck we rented had two batteries that were both pretty dead when we picked it up. How they managed to start the thing at all is beyond me, and the batteries were so completely dead by the time we were finished, they wouldn’t even turn the engine over without sitting attached to a diesel tow truck for nearly half an hour of charging in the field.

When I finally did return the truck at 19:00, 90 minutes past the rental-period deadline, I’d driven through the gathering darkness with only the diesel engine’s own compression to keep it running. The dashboard ammeter showed a huge draw on the power system—there wasn’t enough juice to power the headlights beyond a weak glow, which made navigating SR 527 through the south part of Bothell a joy and a half.

So yeah, no witty story after all. Kind of a letdown, eh?

Washing-machine blowout

I got out of the shower this morning and put some sheets in the washer so they'd be ready to dry when I got home from work today. Got dressed and packed up for work, headed toward the door.

I noticed the washing machine was making an odd noise, but it's one of those types that doesn't stop itself if the load is out of balance, and the groaning it made sounded similar to that off-balance noise I've heard it make before. Happens often with sheets, so I thought nothing about it.

Until I stepped on the carpet in the hallway in front of the laundry closet. I felt the unmistakable squish of wet carpet and heard the instantly identifiable sound of shoes hitting water.

Continue reading "Washing-machine blowout" »

you'll have to wait

so yeah.

i was going to be all witty and descriptive and create convulsively hilarious prose relating the horror that was my sister's moving day.

and then the day flashed by, and the weekend disappeared in the blink of an eye, and no wittiness is forthcoming tonight.

instead, bed sings out to me in a beautiful harmony of quilt wadded near pillows begging to be straightened out before i collapse on the whole mess.

happy sunday night. or monday morn for you right coasters... hell, for everyone from boise east.


U-Haul Blows Goats

The brief for now, details when I'm not Dead Man Walking.

The Kenmore, WA, U-Haul location (6720 NE Bothell Way) is staffed by persons whose helpfulness I would rate immediately above that of 100-years-dead mushrooms but immediately below that of lobotomized gnats.

If your tow-truck driver asks you where you rented a particular U-Haul truck, and you answer, "The Kenmore U-Haul on Bothell Way," and the tow-truck driver merely nods and says "Ah yeah" to himself in that knowing way, you know you're fucked.

That is all for now.

The Rational Human

I'm a pretty rational guy. I think things through, generally don't jump to rash conclusions or take unconsidered actions.

This morning—a typically uneventful morning—I got into the shower at about the usual time. Warm water, shampoo and soap, the standard routine. Rinsed off, turned off the water, whipped the shower curtain aside to reach for my towel (a green bath sheet) on the towel bar. Started drying off in the usual way, a vigorous rubdown from head to toe.

I reached the point where it was time to dry the legs and feet. Right foot first, on the edge of the bathtub, dried off my foot and lower leg, and stepped with that leg halfway out of the tub to repeat the process with my left leg.

That's when I saw the spider on my right ankle.

Continue reading "The Rational Human" »

CNN/Netscape: Tenn. County Wants to Charge Homosexuals

DAYTON, Tenn. (AP)—The county that was the site of the Scopes "Monkey Trial'' over the teaching of evolution is asking lawmakers to amend state law so the county can charge homosexuals with crimes against nature.

The Rhea County commissioners approved the request 8-0 Tuesday.

Tennessee gay-marriage opponentsCommissioner J.C. Fugate, who introduced the measure, also asked the county attorney to find a way to enact an ordinance banning homosexuals from living in the county.

"We need to keep them out of here,'' Fugate said.

The vote was denounced by Matt Nevels, president of the Chattanooga chapter of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

"That is the most farfetched idea put forth by any kind of public official,'' Nevels said. "I'm outraged.''

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas' sodomy laws as a violation of adults' privacy.

Rhea County is one of the most conservative counties in Tennessee. It holds an annual festival commemorating the 1925 trial at which John T. Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution. The verdict was thrown out on a technicality. The trial became the subject of the play and movie "Inherit the Wind.''

In 2002, a federal judge ruled unconstitutional the teaching of a Bible class in the public schools. U.S. Bible-zine for boys set for Easter

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters)—The world's largest publisher of religious material is selling the sizzle along with the solemn in a line of "Bible-zines"—repackaged Bibles aimed at hip Christian teenagers.

refuel-cover.jpgLeaning on the successful slogan of famous Depression-era salesman Elmer Wheeler—"Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle"—Transit Books, the teen division of publisher Thomas Nelson, adopted the eye-popping format of mainstream teen magazines to create Revolve, a four-color, 388-page New Testament for teenage girls.

The smashing success of Revolve, a one-time magazine that went on sale in July for $14.99, has led to the planned Easter launch of Refuel, a Bible-zine aimed at teenage boys.

Revolve, which has no advertising, excerpts easy-to-digest biblical passages to answer the tough questions teenagers often ask. Woven throughout is an easy-to-read Bible in a flashy format so teenagers might feel more comfortable paging through it in public. Guinness record for world's smallest disk drive

(Link gives a 404 error as of 06/01/04.)

toshiba-stamp-hdd.jpgTOKYO, Japan (Reuters)—Japan's Toshiba Corp. said on Tuesday that Guinness World Records had certified its stamp-sized hard disk drives (HDDs) as the smallest in the world.

The electronics conglomerate's 0.85-inch HDDs, unveiled in January, have storage capacity of up to four gigabytes and will be used in products such as cell phones and digital camcorders.

A hard drive the size of a postage stamp? Damn!

Link via Kat

What's up lately

Mostly car-related items tonight.

In my photo gallery, I've included two images of my car, specifically of the passenger-side front door and the smear made by Sonya Saturday night when we were going to get a beer after spending the afternoon moving her out of her 3-bedroom ground-floor apartment (shared with my sister Katharine) and into her 1-bedroom 3rd-floor walk-up apartment.

Understand that when she made this smear, Sonya wasn't drunk. She was entirely sober, in fact—we were walking to the car to drive to Pyramid Alehouse. So the fact that suddenly Sonya emitted a single short "wah!" sound, and then immediately disappeared from view, caught me by surprise. And then when there was no further sound after the muted thump of the bounce off the car door, I first assumed she'd gone down in such a way that she'd knocked herself out cold, so I was expecting possibly an emergency-room trip as I ran around the car to see what, exactly, had happened.

From what we can figure, she stepped on the edge of the curb and her foot rolled forward further than she expected, sending her flailing to the ground and giving me a chuckle for the next 45 minutes. A very mild ankle strain, didn't even swell or bruise up. The worst damage was done to the apartment's keyring tag, which cracked into shards in her hand as she went down.

That adventure done, we went to Pyramid for a pitcher and snaxes, with no further pratfalls.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Sunday morning, the geese that frequent this area apparently flew over my car approximatelly 300 dozen times, judging solely by the spots of bird excrement all over the hood and driver's side. I was going to photograph that—what's more whimsical and simultaneously indicative of everyday life in the 21st century than a car coated with fowl excretions?—but I figured bird shit didn't need memorializing. So you'll just have to imagine a dark red Saturn L200 with white and grey dots of goose crap all over its left side.

Geese sure do talk a lot as they're flying and crapping. Must be their equivalent of the human grunt'n'strain. And I must say, the sound of goose shit splattering across an automobile body is simply unbelievable. One of those things you know isn't bad, in a life-threatening way, but something you definitely don't want to be around.

Of course that's the same way I think of things like dentist offices and whale explosions.

TypePad domain mapping information

Jamie Jamison offers a list of common problems and the reasons each might be caused at his blog. He's been a huge help for many members of the TypePad User Group, a handy resource for TypePad users who need help or want to discuss features, tips, or any other aspect of the TypePad service.

UPDATE 03/15/04 08:41: The folks at TypePad also posted more information about domain mapping in a Domain Mapping FAQ on their Everything TypePad! blog.

My advice: As the DNS management features of most hosting companies are a bit... unfathomable, in my experience—particularly for the vast majority of us who are not TCP/IP and DNS experts—use the TypePad FAQ as a starting point, and hie yourself over to the TypePad User Group boards for additional (and, oddly, left-out-of-the-TypePad-FAQ) helpful info.

Salt Lake City's KTVX-TV goes digital for news

Apple's Joe Cellini has an article in Apple's Pro/Video series about Salt Lake City's KTVX-TV, the local ABC affiliate, and its use of digital cameras and PowerBooks with Final Cut Pro in the field for editing news stories, and how it's resulted in a sea change in the way stories are produced.

When I lived in Salt Lake City, KTVX was the station with the local news I avoided most religiously. Silly plastic newsreaders (although that's a problem with local news everywhere), bad writing, the entire newscast experience annoyed me.

Good to see they're making some changes, although I haven't seen one of these newscasts yet.

First moving day finished

Got Sonya moved into her new 1-bedroom apartment, a 3rd-floor walk-up, about 90 minutes ago. We had 8 people, so it went pretty quickly—the big furniture items (a La-Z-Boy chair, a cedar chest [which I'm pretty sure is actually made out of pine], mattress and box spring, etc.) were the worst parts, and didn't even cause much trouble.

Next weekend we move Katharine into her new 1-bedroom.


Seattle newspapers' Photos of the Week features

Photo series by each of the two Seattle dailies.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's collection includes several photos of events surrounding recent developments in the gay-marriage controversy building in Seattle and around the country, along with high-school and college basketball shots and scenes from around Seattle during the recent beautiful weather.

The Seattle Times' photo week-in-review is dated March 1 to 5 and consists of five photos from cities around the globe, covering a variety of topics.

Please note: The links may attempt to spawn new windows that will appear over this site, but these are external sites that are neither part of this site's content nor hosted here.

When your computer gives you a warning...

heed it!

My desktop G4 was crawling just now, so I launched Activity Monitor to view the CPU percentage breakdown. Saw that WindowServer was sucking up 110% of the CPU, not letting other apps have their fair time, and being generally annoying. So I highlighted the WindowServer process line and clicked the Quit Process button.

A Mac OS X sheet appeared over the window:

Warning: Quitting WindowServer will log you out.

I read this and knew I didn't want to do it, but my right index finger, accustomed to clicking away dialog boxes without hesitation, had already clicked OK by default. The machine went into Instant Logout/Shutdown Mode that caused the loss of a couple of draft posts and some other stuff I was working on.


The Friday Five: 03/12/04

Hmm, an hour ahead of schedule this time.

  1. What was the last song you heard?
    Gravity by Vienna Teng

  2. What were the last two movies you saw?
    Silverado and Down With Love

  3. What were the last three things you purchased?
    A three-pack of Coast soap; a Reach toothbrush; a 12-pack of Diet Coke

  4. What four things do you need to do this weekend?
    Help my friend Sonya move. Help my sister Katharine prepare for her move next weekend. Start organizing/packing for my own move next month. Make moving-truck arrangements for my move.

  5. Who are the last five people you talked to?
    Kortland (boss)
    Jeff (coworker)
    Susan (apartment leasing office minion)

A salesman’s take on cold-calling

Frank Rumbauskas, “the author of the now-famous ‘Cold Calling Is A Waste Of Time: Sales Success In The Information Age’ book & CD program” (about which I’ve never heard—but that’s understandable, as I’m not in sales), writes in his blog about an article he read in which the author performed a social-dynamics study showing that people who project cold, unapproachable personas are the easiest sells once you get past the initial presentation:

I came across an article written by someone who has studied social dynamics in depth for several years. He was trying to explain how the people with the most standoffish, cold personas on the outside are actually the easiest to get close to once - or more specifically, if - you get past that cold shell. To get his point across, he used an analogy, and said the following: “Most salespeople have noticed that the people who have giant NO SOLICITING signs plastered all over their doors are usually the easiest people to sell once you manage to get in to see them.”

Read that sentence again and think about the message, because it explains a LOT. He followed that with this statement: “The people who won’t accept sales calls know they have low sales resistance and are easily sold. Likewise, the people with cold outside personas are easily seduced and that’s why they put up that front.” In other words, they’re afraid of being sold, and that’s why they won’t take cold calls! The people who do take cold calls are not afraid because they know full well they aren’t going to buy anything anyway.

I project just such a persona when I receive cold calls or solicitors at my door. My persona springs not from knowing I’m an easy sell and don’t want to be broken, but from the position of a person whose time is more valuable for whatever he wishes to do (or not do, as happens often enough) than for some idiot to waste on the phone or at the door with a sales pitch for a product that holds no interest.

The times I’ve discussed this with people who do telemarketing for a living, they’ve always responded with, “You have caller ID, right? Just don’t answer the calls!” Similarly for door-to-door pitches: “Just don’t answer the door!”

As if that was some sort of universal cure-all for the intrusions. I should hide in my house, or just ignore the phone, because I don’t want your stupid sales pitches to take up my time?

I prefer to yank open the door, instantly refuse the pitch and send the person on his/her way.

I like to rip the phone off its cradle, immediately stop the sales script, demand removal from the calling list, slam the receiver back down with force sufficient to drive phone shards into the telemarketer’s brain.

These practices over the last several years have dramatically reduced the numbers of telemarketing calls and door-to-door salespersons I’ve encountered. Combined with the Direct Marketing Association’s opt-out service, such as it is, and in the two years I’ve lived in Washington state, I’ve received a total of maybe 10 calls/visits/junk mailings.

Perhaps I’m the exception to Frank’s reasoning here. If so, I’m happy to be an example for him. Seems he’d need simple examples, relying as often as he does on NBC’s The Apprentice to make points.

I was going to post this at his blog, but he doesn’t allow comments on his postings. Probably knows he’d be inundated with irritated victims of cold-calling and in-person saleswonks.

CHEEZ KINGHere’s a photo of Frank Rumbauskas from his site.

Does he just ooze the “salesman look,” or what? I’ve never seen a more salesman-looking salesman in my life!

Also, re: pronunciation

Route, a path taken, is pronounced like root, with a longer U sound. Not like rout, the overwhelming defeat.

Oddly enough, I can deal with the pronunciation of router like outer because rooter just sounds dippy, unless you're in the plumbing biz.

Same with routing like outing.

But route should be root every time.

Fascinating cross-section

As I've said in previous entries, I use TypePad to host this site. One of TypePad's interesting features is its Recently Updated lists of weblogs and photo albums. I include the weblog recently updated list at the bottom of this page; the photo-album list is available on the TypePad home page.

Recently Updated Albums.jpgI loaded that home page just now to see if my own photo album appeared in the Recently Updated list. Lo and behold, it did, the second item in fact when I loaded the page. The list as I saw it appears here, in fact (links are not clickable).

Like I do often when I check out those lists, I clicked on some of the other photo-album links to see what other folks, who are usually far more creative than I, included in their albums.

Most of them are similar to mine, images snapped with camera phones or digital cameras and then uploaded pretty much as is for everyone else to enjoy or ponder. Some, however, are rather... well, let's say, specialized.

The album titled Daddy's Favorites, however, is a grand example of the type of unusual or out-of-the-ordinary person any of us might encounter in our daily lives. It's a porn album with a charming blog behind it.

I'm wondering if at some point TypePad's Recently Updated lists might have some sort of Adult or Explicit label attached, the way many music albums do nowadays. Where will the outcry start? Girl named Diot Coke back in 1379

LONDON, England (AP)—Naming your child after a popular soft drink could be seen as a little bit faddish but the parents of young Diot Coke might be forgiven—they gave their baby daughter the name way back in 1379.

Researchers at Britain's National Archives believe that the little girl, born in West Riding in Yorkshire, was the unfortunate victim of the corruption of the name Dionisia. One of the diminutives derived from that name on its path to the modern day Denise was Diot.

The girl's surname is believed to be a variation on the name Cook.

Kinda nice to know the bestowing of stupid names upon children isn't only a 20th- and 21st-century phenomenon. It has a history, so it must be okay!

Linked especially for Kat, bwahahaha Study Finds That Teenage Virginity Pledges Are Rarely Kept

PHILADELPHIA, March 9—Among teenagers who pledged not to have sex before marriage, a majority did not live up to their vows, according to a national study reported here on Tuesday. The teenagers also developed sexually transmitted diseases at about the same rate as adolescents who had not made such pledges.

But a pledge to refrain from premarital sex, the researchers found, did tend to delay the start of sexual intercourse by 18 months. The adolescents who took virginity pledges also married earlier and had fewer sexual partners than the other teenagers surveyed, said Dr. Peter Bearman, the chairman of the sociology department at Columbia University and the lead author of the study.

Of the 12,000 teenagers included in the federal study, 88 percent of those who pledged chastity reported having had sexual intercourse before they married, Dr. Bearman said at a scientific meeting in Philadelphia on preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

The researchers tested the participants for three common sexually transmitted infections—chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis—and found that the rates were almost identical for the teenagers who took pledges and those who did not.

Yet the teenagers who had taken pledges were less likely to know they had an infection, raising the risk of their transmitting it to other people, said Dr. Bearman and Hannah Brückner of Yale University, the other author of the report.

Dr. Bearman said that telling teenagers "to `just say no,' without understanding risk or how to protect oneself from risk, turns out to create greater risk" of sexually transmitted diseases.

The findings challenge a number of assumptions underlying the policies of the Bush administration and private groups that encourage virginity pledges as part of promoting abstinence before marriage. article link (free registration required)

Does this actually surprise anyone?

Kids will say nearly anything if it will get their parents/teachers/other authority figures off their case. Why does anyone seriously think "virginity pledges" would be any different?

Got change for a million?

I find it amusing that anyone would have faith that a Wal-Mart store would keep enough cash on hand to provide change for a $1,000,000 bill against a $1,700 purchase. $1 million bill leads to arrest

COVINGTON, Georgia (AP)—A Georgia woman who tried to use a fake $1 million bill to buy $1,675 worth of merchandise at Wal-Mart was arrested, and police later found two more of the bills in her purse.

Close-up of false $1 million bill
Close-up of false $1 million bill
The U.S. Treasury does not make $1 million bills, but similar-looking currency is sold in some souvenir shops. The fake bill featured a picture of the Statue of Liberty, police said.

“It looks real, but of course there’s nothing real about this,” said Stacey Cotton, police chief in Covington, about 30 miles southeast of Atlanta. “People do crazy things all the time.”

A store clerk immediately noticed the bill was fake when 35-year-old Alice Regina Pike handed it to her on Friday, Cotton said.

Pike then tried to use two gift cards worth only $2.32 to buy the merchandise, but when that did not work she again asked to cash the $1 million bill, Cotton said. The store then called police.

Pike was jailed on forgery charges. A woman who answered the phone at the jail said she did not know if Pike has a lawyer.

Yahoo! News: 7,000 Orange County Voters Were Given Bad Ballots

Poll workers struggling with a new electronic voting system in last week's election gave thousands of Orange County voters the wrong ballots, according to a Times analysis of election records. In 21 precincts where the problem was most acute, there were more ballots cast than registered voters.

Wide margins in most races seem likely to spare the county the need for a costly revote. But the problems, which county officials have blamed on insufficient training for poll workers, are a strong indication of the pitfalls facing officials as they try to bring new election technology online statewide.

"The principal of democracy is every vote should count. That's why we need a better election system," said Henry Brady, a political science professor at UC Berkeley and an expert on voting systems.

At polling places where the problem was most apparent because of turnouts exceeding 100%, an estimated 1,500 voters cast the wrong ballots, according to the Times' analysis of official county election data. Tallies at an additional 55 polling places with turnouts more than double the county average of 37% suggest at least 5,500 voters had their ballots tabulated for the wrong precincts.

Y! News story link

So what is it about the furthest southeast and furthest southwest of the continental states that they can't seem to hold an election without massive problems that throw the outcomes into serious doubt?

UK Science in Action

Bovine Rectal Palpation Simulator

Bovine rectal palpation is a difficult procedure for veterinary students to learn and requires considerable practice to accurately identify structures. The majority of teaching takes place on farms with veterinary surgeons but it is increasingly difficult to ensure all students develop skills adequately by the time of graduation. This is partly due to the increased number of students in each year and reduced access to cows. Additionally, when a student is examining a cow the teacher is unable to observe what the student is palpating and the student may not be able to describe their hand position inside the cow. Therefore it is difficult for the teacher to instruct the student in the procedure.

Check out the site. You'll be a better person for it.

Link from Memepool via bug

Mistaken identity

This is the most recent example of a phenomenon I've encountered several times.

Inquisitor (10:13:03): need another hint?
Beldin (10:13:32): eh?
Inquisitor (10:14:29): guess who's back but had (obviously) to assume a new name
Inquisitor (10:14:58): the hint was Bel Club
Beldin (10:15:16): I'm clueless
Inquisitor (10:15:53): bel's Bellah!
Beldin (10:16:10): ookay, still not ringing a bell here
Inquisitor (10:17:19): how could you forget bellah? I'm crushed...maybe you're a different beldin
Beldin (10:18:33): I'm the only Beldin AOL's ever had... Beldin with no other letters or numbers in the name and spelled correctly, anyway
Inquisitor (10:19:00): then you've been exposed to too many nukes to forget hx
Beldin (10:19:57): Could be that. I've never done much in the way of role-playing or even identifying with the character whose name I took for this service
Inquisitor (10:25:13): hmm...if you're clueless...why do you connect hx with a character and role playing?
Beldin (10:25:57): I don't know what "hx" means—I was talking about my screen name, many people IM me about it thinking I'm an RPG fan because I have this name
Inquisitor (10:27:58): they think you're someone else...are you the guy who studies nuclear engineering?
Beldin (10:28:08): Nope.
Inquisitor (10:29:27): wrong Beldin...sorry
Beldin (10:29:40): No worries

There's a growing number of people who think the person behind the AOL screen name Beldin is a nuclear physicist or some such. In the last 3 weeks or so, I've received several out-of-the-blue IMs from strangers who want to talk nuclear science, reactor engineering, and other way-the-hell-over-my-head topics, and in several cases it's taken nearly an act of God to convince them I'm not the person they're looking for.

I've had the screen name Beldin on AOL for ~15 years now, from the days when AOL was a Mac-only service and had a few tens of thousands of members nationwide. Amazes me that I still have trouble convincing some people I'm not who they think I am.

The Friday Five: 03/05/04

What was...

  1. your first grade teacher's name?
    Miss Dixon at Ensign Elementary in Salt Lake City. She got married later in the year and her name changed to Mrs. Crabtree.

  2. your favorite Saturday morning cartoon?
    Looney Tunes, specifically the Bugs Bunny opera and Bugs-vs.-the-bull cartoons.

  3. the name of your very first best friend?
    Matt and Nate Byrd, brothers who lived across the street.

  4. your favorite breakfast cereal?
    Rice Chex or oatmeal with cinnamon and sugar in the winter months.

  5. your favorite thing to do after school?
    Ride my bike at breakneck speed through the neighborhood.

Seattle P-I: Microsoft gadget keeps record of your life

REDMOND, Wash.—SenseCam, touted as a visual diary of sorts by Microsoft Corp., is designed to be worn around the neck and take up to 2,000 images a 12-hour day automatically.

The prototype responds to changes such as bright lights and sudden movements and might one day even respond to other stimuli such as heart rate or skin temperature - to track medical problems as easily as to record a Hawaiian vacation. And it could eventually link with other technology, such as face recognition to remind wearers when they've seen someone before.

As Lyndsay Williams trudged along snow-covered paths and passed by shop windows one recent day in Cambridge, England, so too did her SenseCam - automatically snapping hundreds of photos along the way.

Later that day, Williams could have used those pictures to figure out where she'd left her car keys, or to show a friend the sweater she saw in a window.

Perhaps weeks or months later, she might have zipped through them to figure out when she last saw a particular colleague or what bottle of wine she had been drinking that night.

Seattle P-I article link

Hmm, a Microsoft device to record one's entire life...?