I’m back from Christmas with a whole lot of cool swag, including a super-bright little LED flashlight that is perfect for drawing on the glow-in-the-dark wall behind my Murphy Bed. Also, my mom gave me the Lego Mindstorms set, and Kate got me the Vision Command set, so I want to start working on trying to build a web-controllable camera!
I also contracted the hiking bug badly, ever since getting the TOPO! maps. I joined BOTH the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Adirondack Mountain Club. Jeez, I wonder which side I’ll have to take at the weekly rumble behind the gym?
My group at [My employer] had an outing to the Screening room yesterday; we voted on a movie to see (it ended up being Tron), and had drinks afterwards. I had my PalmPix camera, so I took some pictures. The resulting photographic record kind of looks like one of the old silent movies about The Dangers of Drink and Low Company. You can see it here, if you are interested in the cautionary tale.
A handheld device for those that have an OmniSky and a PalmPix:
I am now the proud owner of a handheld, battery operated, double barreled theatrical flash paper cannon. Using this handy-dandy device, I can make balls of fire shoot from my fingertips up to 20 feet! I haven’t actually done it yet, as I need to
- Dry out the flash cotton, carefully, away from heat sources. It’s shipped wet, for safety.
- Find twenty contiguous feet in New York City that I can shoot fireballs through without setting something on fire, getting punched, or getting arrested. That’ll probably take a while.
[My employer] Gets Hit with the Christmas Stick
The [My employer] lobby looks as if a galaxy composed entirely of Christmas garland has gone supernova. You can see the piles of artificial greenery, the opened boxes of decorations, and three ‘elves’ hard at work. It’s a big mystery who sent them — is it [My employer]’ Boston office? Is it the building’s management company? Is it a big mistake? The sheer amount of decoration is overwhelming. I expect that the next time I go to the bathroom that the elevator doors will be flocked with artificial snow, and there’ll be an electric Santaland Express train carrying programmers around and around the conference table.
I’ve been taking pictures on my PalmPix all weekend, and will post some in the afternoon. Meanwhile, I went to REI and spent the gift certificate that my Mom gave me for Christmas LAST Christmas. I got a Tilley hat, and some other stuff including TOPO!‘s CD-ROM topo map kits for the Catskills, Poconos, Adirondacks, and NYC region. These maps are freakin’ awesome! I already found Deerfoot Lodge, the camp I used to go to when I was a kid. I used the map coordinates to find an aerial photo of it at TerraServer!
Whitaker Lake, by the way, is the only one in North America that has a secret "limestone ocean tunnel" that allows the deadly Prehistoric Freshwater Shark to swim in its waters. I have that on good authority. Plus, the lake is effectively bottomless; noone has ever been able to measure the bottom. Oh, and there’s an old, abandoned institute for the criminally insane right over the hill. My counselors insisted; funny how I can’t find it on Terraserver anywhere.
My team at [My employer] chipped in and bought me a Palm Pix digital camera for Christmas, and I am really surprised and touched. Thanks, guys! I feel like the sergeant in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. Wait till they see what I got THEM for the holidays! The camera will come in handy.
Photos of ancestors I wish I had:
There was a fight outside of the Christmas display windows at Saks Fifth Avenue when I was there on Saturday night. A fortyish white man with a leather bomber jacket with a round patch sown to the lapel was pointing accusingly at another guy in a baseball hat with a stroller. “You pushed me!” he yelled accusingly at the top of his lungs. The guy with the stroller looked taken aback. “You pushed me in line!”
This was kind of odd, since there were approximately nine hundred thousand people, all pushing each other to varying degrees, trying to get a look at the Saks windows with the animated dioramas inside. Suddenly, a scuffle ensued — the woman accompanying Patch-man grabbed the woman accompanying Stroller-man, held her by the shoulders of her calf-length down coat, and kneed her repeatedly in the shins. Things got a little confused, and a space rapidly cleared around the four. Suddenly, things stopped — a woman in her sixties was yelling loudly “There are children here!”, Stroller man was walking away, and Patch man was touching his lip and looking at his fingers exactly the way a cowboy in a western does. Once again, he pointed at Stroller man — “Well, he’s the asshole who punched me!”
It seems like Patch-man deserved what he got. For the next several minutes, people in the crowd rehashed the event, discussing who was in the right, who was in the wrong, whether Stroller man got in a good shot, and wondering what Patch-woman’s problem was. Police in leather jackets and fur hats scanned the crowd — maybe looking for the scufflers, maybe looking for (it occurred to me belatedly) the pickpockets that had set the fight up as a diversion.
I actually used algebra in a (sort-of) real world application today, to the astonishment of seventh-graders everywhere. I was writing a content management tool for the Twist Magazine homepage, and wanted to make a “preview” function that showed what a component would look like — *before* saving that component to the SQL server database. So the script looked at the value of input boxes in given forms, using the forms array. Problem is that each element has at least three forms, but the first element has only two forms. So, to make a long story long, I had to map the numbers 2,3,4,5, et cetera, to the numbers 3,7,11,15,19, and so on. I was scratching my head for a long time, until I remembered to use slope-intercept form — y=mx+b — to figure out the function. Voila, the second number is four times the first minus five, done. Go home, watch the Simpsons, hooray!
I have a one-inch Fu Manchu button (a present) on my Dickies jacket now. Now I can be the bong-in-the-van rocker I never was in high school. The buttons are made by Kate’s brother Matt, who has a Philadelphia hardcore band called “Rain on the Parade“, a carefully restored Vespa scooter, and a carefully curled Kangol jeff cap. A month or so ago, Matt and his friends hung out on the Revelation Records website, made up fake Eurotrash names, and huckstered the euro-teens into using 1980s straight edge slang. “Ja, That LP is crucial!!”