Wednesday, November 29, 2006

And then there were 5

Oh man was I looking forward to Thanksgiving break. The preceding Sunday, I was dragged from bed (drug from?) while I was in a weird spot in my sleep cycle and I never recovered. I was a total zombie until I could nap on pre-Thanksgiving Eve. If I kept moving, I was fine. The moment I was stationary, I collapsed.

So thank the cranberries the break showed up when it did. A nap, a guilt-free sleep-in the next morning and I was good to go.

The problem now is there is no go happening. We have had three consecutive snow days. Day One was a pleasant treat. Day the Second was also OK. I managed to finally get through all the papers that needed to be graded. After one day off, I may have had an out but after two days of no classes, the students would have been throwing pencils at me (except that one guy who seems to avoid pencils like he's afraid of 'em).

So this morning, I sprang from bed—no problem with the sleep cycle now—showered, had a little breakie, pet the cats ... and heard The T call from the other room. The message that was not posted at 6:01 A.M. was now there at 6:30 A.M.: All classes at the main campus cancelled.

And so I blog. The other events planned for today are flossing, making a wallet from some cool foil tape, cleaning the fridge, comic book organizing, laundry, wandering around the house bemoaning the drafts in this ol' house, snacking, etc. You get the idea. Maybe I will also do some work activities related to my classes. I do have a lovely stack of books and journals I've been meaning to plow through. Since I am not in the mood to shovel, perhaps I will plow the pages.

For those of you who have some time to kill, read on. I will now amaze and astound with some tidbytes from the web.

My name in hieroglyphics. The second and third characters look like they could be on a waterbed warning label. If you do "squiggly" the bed will stay intact. When the Eye of Mordor opens, the bed drains and your feet stick up. Maybe that third character is actually the ancient symbol for "napping". Get your own here. It's mainly in French but you can figure it out.

Design + Child's game = Commercialism. These shelves are cool looking but I wonder how you claim any sort of copyright on such a thing.

If the Web were a city, it would look like this. Link.

That reminds me of the map of Springfield, USA, home of the SImpsons. Be sure to check out the interactive version.

Here's what you get with a little stick-to-it-ive-ness. About 20 years worth of photo attempts finally resulted in this shot of London. How much film is that?

Got a tune in your head that you can't get out? Want one? Click on the people to get a little piece of harmony going. you can record your masterpiece. It's very buy the world a coke-ish.

The highest scoring Scrabble game ever. Check out this board. Don't you love the irony of using "bleep" as a word? The most I ever got on one word was 96 points for trembles, starting in the top-left corner. I remember it like it was yesterday and it was almost 20 years ago.
Any idea what a "vrow" is? It's in this game not once but twice (!!) and I can't find it in a dictionary.

Call the ASPCA right now!!! This doggie-bag is wrong on so many levels. Resist the urge to click and see more ... er ... styles. Don't click on the link. Just send me your $75 and we'll call it even. The pictures below are of the red faux fur model and the faux brain model.

That's enough for now. After that last one, I need to go wash.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Nothing but someone else's words

Apparently I have nothing original to say and will amuse you with other pieces of the internet.

Listen as Obi Wan Canoli tells Cuke Skywalker of the threat of Darth Tater and the dark side of the store. Only if he harnesses the power of the Farm will Cuke successfully rescue Princess Lettuce, a captive on the Death Melon. Of course, Cuke can't do it alone. He gets a little help from Ham Solo, Chewbroccoli, C3-Peanuts, and Tofu-D2, of course. Check out the adventure... and the sax playing butternut squash in the cantina scene.

Timewaster Alert!!
More fun than you've ever had with eggs.

Resistance is futile.

Apple Computer Inc. said on Tuesday six major airlines will let passengers play video and music from their iPod digital devices on in-flight entertainment systems beginning in mid-2007.

Air France, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, KLM, and United Airlines will begin offering their passengers iPod seat connections, which power and charge iPods during flight and allow the video content on the devices to be viewed on seat-back displays.

And another entry for the Never Thought You Read Those Words in That Order category: Eco-friendly bra doubles as shopping bag I couldn't be that funny if I had a word randomizer helping me type this. Here's proof:

Faux bonsai. Need to reconnect with the earth? This is not the plant to get.

Yes, this is what you think it is: a chocolate covered Mac Classic.

What you can make with a slab of wood, a scroll saw and an hour or two. Or you can just buy this one.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Viva la Revolution!

The sun came out today, after five straight days of rain. And the government was overthrown yesterday. For these reasons, we shall but laugh and gawk today.

Laugh: Take Grandma skydiving.

Gawk: No, you can't have a notecard for the exam, but...
I have actually told my students to do this (must be permanent, no wash-off-able henna, etc.) and not one has taken me up on it yet. When have they ever heard that they can't bring a tattoo to an exam? More found here

Laugh: the politically incorrect alphabet primer

Gawk: What to do with all those pennies you're saving:

Monday, November 06, 2006

Knowing the punchline is half the fun

OK, so there I am the other day, tooling along in class, talking about one of the coolest numbers on the planet when I seemed to forget I was not in the classroom alone. I had warned the students previous to this event that this might happen occasionally. Once in a while, my inner geek rises to the surface and—BLAMMO!—unwary onlookers are left in the dust.

The number responsible for this is e. It is just as cool as π but gets almost no press. You never hear of people memorizing e. As far as pop culture goes, e is getting short shrifted. Just what is a shrift anyway? And does size matter?

One more common way of describing where the value e occurs is in the following expression:

Ready for what seems like a mathematical paradox? The value for n can increase without bound. Pass Go, get your $200 and don't even slow down. Yet the overall value of the expression has a limit. It will never get bigger than e ≈ 2.71828 18284 59045 23536 ... Isn't that cool?

Can you tell my geek personality has taken control of my body right now? A similar thing happened in class. I was sharing the next occurrence of e with the students: pick a random number between 0 and 1. Go ahead, you've got an infinite amount to choose from. Now pick another number and add it to the first one. Keep picking and adding until the sum is 1 or greater. When it is stop and count how many numbers you had to pick. Then repeat the process; keep summing random values between 0 and 1 until the sum is greater than 1. When you've repeated the process a goodly number of times, find the average number of numbers you had to pick to exceed 1. That average will be—you guessed it—e.

It was right at this moment, this exciting climax when a student calmly asked: if we know the value of e why do we have to keep determining it?

(sigh) I felt I was in the room alone. Oh, well. I had a good time and hopefully my enthusiasm will prove contagious someday. Today was just not the day.

Ode to e (and other math jokes/rhymes)
If (1+x) (real close to 1)
Is raised to the power of 1
Over x, you will find
Here's the value defined:

It takes a peasant to multiply.

Just can't let go of Halloween yet

Just wanted to share these pics because I'm so excited about being able to upload pictures to my blog again! Here are the results from our Squash Scarring party. The T is responsible for the top one, it's our hero Strong Bad (note the creepy eyes looking through the door in the background). I'm responsible for ... well, I'll let you figure out which ones I'm responsible for.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Entertainment over Thinking

With all due respect to Larry Bird, today's blog is brought to you by the game of H-O-R-S-E. Through the window, off the scoreboard, off the floor, nothing but links.

H for ha-ha: Post No Bills
O for oh-my: I'm going for a look that says "more death" and "non-regular hexagon"
R for g-R-R-R-R
S for: Somebody want to help me turn this page?
E for Everybody come get your tea!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Halloween Decompression

The refuse from our Halloween jack-o-lantern festival is now slowly recycling in the compost bin and the ghoulie-themed Tweety and Sylvester vest is once again tucked safely in the back of the closet. What's left from another holiday crossed off the calendar? A bowl full of homemade roasted sunflower seeds and 135 individually-wrapped Fruit Leathers.
I think it is safe to assume you didn't see that word combination coming, eh?

No, Fruit Leathers are not chaps for melons. Rather, they are direct relations of fruit roll-ups, sans the sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial additives. And they are the only thing I could find that was suitable for the little whipper-snappers begging for treats. In my efforts to be a friendly neighbor in this here 'hood, I wanted to have something that would simultaneously be a hand out deemed worthy and prevent an egging or decorating of the house with TP while also being reasonably healthy or at the least not a mainline of sugar. Thanks to the creep that stuck a razor in an apple way back when, you can't hand out fruit or anything without a wrapper.

So think about this dilemma. What else is wrapped and snack-like without sugar? Should I have gone for meat jerky? That's an interesting idea. While we're wandering down Carnivore Lane, why not consider Slim Jims? You really have to appreciate a food item on which the first ingredient listed is "mechanically separated chicken." If we move to chips and/or pretzels, we merely make the carbs more complex. And therein lies the rub.

I refuse to contribute to the poor dietary habits of obese children. Yet I loved trick-or-treating as a kid and I didn't want to not participate. But eating the loot I'd collected was truly a treat for me. Candy was not a food group when I was growing up. More than once, my pleas for sustenance lest I pass out from starvation an hour before dinner was "go find something in the garden." The big treats for snacks were popcorn and pizza, both of which were labor intensive since they were made by hand—my hands. I'm not saying I had to shuck the corn but I did have to do the labor and clean up the mess to enjoy the snack. And the labor was more than rip off the plastic wrap and throw the bag in the nuker for two minutes on high.

So there I was in the big-box store looking for something reasonably priced with no sugar that I could hand out and feel no guilt when I watched the 3-foot tall superhero/heroine/sponge-bob/goblin waddle away down my walk. And I could find only one thing. I bought three boxes (48 per box) and handed out less than two-dozen of the brightly wrapped flat fruit. I was so ready if last year repeated itself and cars of non-city kids starting cruising the neighborhood. Alas, the temperature dropped and the scores of beggars I was anticipating stayed indoors. I now find myself gnawing my way through the fruit chews I have not yet been able to give away. Anyone interested in a Mango Madness?

Play with Pi — each digit is a different color and the end result is a field of brightly colored pixels

Tampon Crafts — anything that involves a tampon, a hot glue gun and googly eyes is worth a click

Friday, November 03, 2006

5-Sided Regular Polygon

Sharing time. If you're a frequent visitor to this blog—and we can define 'frequent' as more than one visit—then you may have noticed how busy this page has gotten. I don't mean busy as in traffic. I mean busy as in bells-and-whistles. In the past few weeks, the page has gained:
• a countdown timer to ... uh ... count. To count down, specifically.
• a terror level alert scale, 'cuz who can pass up Bert & Ernie
• a Clustrmap to see where visitors are from (and let me tell you how humbling that little addition has been; can you guys tell a friend to surf over here once in a while so enough data compiles to earn a dot on the map?), and
• spelling with Flickr (scroll all the way down)

One item that has been a constant since day 1, maybe day 2 at the latest, is the StatCounter. This little gadget counts page loads as well as the IP address of the people viewing the page. If you have your own blog, probably none of this info is new to you. If you don't have a blog, are you surprised in the least that the blogosphere has spawned vast and numerous thriving cottage industries, such as services that do nothing but count?

Mere moments ago, I was mining the data regarding this blog's traffic and saw the following:

IP Address:

ISP: The Pentagon
Entry Page Time: 23rd October 2006 11:47:33
Visit Length: 0 seconds
Browser: Firefox 1.5.0
OS: Windows XP
Resolution: 1024x768
Location: Virginia, Arlington, United States
Returning Visits: 0

I've taken the liberty of highlighting the interesting part of the above data pile.

Are we to infer that the world is safe for at least a little while since someone in HQ has time to surf?!?
Should I feel snubbed that said visit was not of substantial length, or any length for that matter?
Is it a matter of concern that the military uses machines that are responsible for the second most popular download of all time, Windows Service Pack 2? (btw: first place is held by iTunes)

I'm going to go peek at the data a bit more and see if there's a hit from