Sunday, September 30, 2007

Is there a collective noun for "numbers"?

I'm pondering if there is a collective noun for numbers, other than the word numbers, course. That would be silly. Digits show up in all different kinds of places and are used in different ways. Is there a term to describe them when they show up on one blog entry?

0: number of times I'd eaten eggs benedict in the last 40 years

1: number of weeks in the fall quarter completed to date
also: number of times a student has asked me this quarter: Exactly what are you drinking?

2: difference between number of students who showed up on day one and the number of chairs in the room that faced the front

3: number of times I've eaten eggs benedict for breakfast in the last two weeks

4: number of minutes it takes me to cross campus from my brand spankin' new office to the room my 8 o'clock class is held in; does not include coffee pick-up

48: number of hours it took to render a digital copy of 5+ hours of Pride & Prejudice, starring His Dimpleness Colin Firth, and move it to my iPhone. Time well spent. Mr. Wickham looks smarmy no matter the screen dimensions.

4663: the simple, elegant and completely wrong answer

And just because it's cool: Zipskinny. Enter your zip code and get some cool census data, like the education level attainment, demographics, income levels and how it compares to neighboring zip codes. Not a bad use for numbers. Whereas "dictionary diving" is a term that refers to the act of getting lost in a dictionary even though you only went in with the intention of finding one word, "digit diving" refers to getting lost in a page a numbers like those on Zipskinny. I'm going to go type in the zips of all the places I've ever lived. Ta for now.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Brand new year! Let's rock!!

New books, sharpened, pencils, spiffy calculator, a backpack with 23 compartments that open and close. New clothes, a parking hang-tag, new shoes.

Excitement, anticipation, enthusiasm, eagerness, impatience, ambition, gusto, zest, piquancy.

When is the first break?

Agnes, by Tom Cochran
All images copyright 2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Commute time of 0 minutes

This big-town/small city I live in is tucked away in the Pacific Northwest, an area of the country where the denizens are construed as being more concerned about the bovine contribution to global warming than whether said bovine are goooood eatin'! This perception should not imply that we don't like good barbecue. In the words of one Mr. Cambpell: Mm-mm-good.

A few years ago, alittle shack popped up on the side of the main road through town. I thought that the structure was going to become YAES, or Yet Another Espresso Shack. You can't swing a dead cat in this town without hitting an espresso shack. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about yet were alive when the Kodak Instamatic was in use, think Fotomat booth on edge of parking lot. That form of the shack has evolved from its humble roots as a spot to drop off film to have it returned in little pieces of 3 x 5 beauty into a place to acquire a legal drug. Anyway, this newest shack was soon sporting the best aroma in town, that of burning charcoal and scorched meat.

Without showing evident concern about cleanliness issues—or the clean air act, for that matter—the locals have turned the Meat Shack into a success. In fact, the Shack has grown into an actual building with tables and place settings. Granted the food is served on paper plates and the utensils are plastic, but at least there is an alternative to take-out or eating in your car. Since Meat Shack is a name that conveys the humble beginnings of this local success story, I think I'm going to stick with it for the duration.

Well, driving past the Shack yesterday, getting caught up in the mouth-watering scent that is barbecue while trying to stay on the road, I noticed that the owners are not resting on their laurels. Since they moved across the road from the original shack to the newer eat-in structure, there has been constant upgrading of the building and rearranging of charcoal grills and fuel and what-all it takes to get the poultry, bovine, or swine heated to an appropriate temperature. The latest edition of progress has been to put a fenced-in yard right next to the restaurant with—you guessed it—future meals grazing on the insta-lawn!

This looks like the barbecue version of the seafood restaurant lobster tank. I wonder if the customers also have the option of offing their entree as well. "Well it's been a few years since I attended rabbinical school and I need to practice my schetica skills. Let's go get some barbecue, kids!"

I'll let you know what the turnover is in the pen. Maybe the beasts are just there as a draw. Maybe not.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ow ow ow

I'm a little sore right now. I went on a hike yesterday, 12 miles
round trip, 6 miles in and up, then turn around and reverse. The turn
around point was a Alpine lake at 4400 feet, fed by those snowy
patches on the mountainside right over there. The presence of the snow
didn't keep me and my hiking partner from going for a swim. OK, I lie
a little. When I stripped off my socks and plunged my feet into the
lake, I had second thoughts, but after sitting there for 40 minutes I
realized my feet were no longer numb. So how bad could a jump in be, I
said to myself.

Well, my hiking partner has a history of this sort of thing, the
swimming right by snow in December sort of thing. So she wasn't really
waiting for me to take the first leap (I don't think). Since I could
see the bottom and also see that there suddenly was no bottom, and
since I had never swam anywhere except in a man-made space or a space
roped off by man, I wanted to see how we were supposed to get in.

So she did this shallow dive maneuver that got her away from shore and
past the bottom we could see. When she surfaced and turned to face me,
she looked exactly like Gollum--her eyes were HUGE and she was making
thus sound that I can't describe but which I interpreted as "all my
skin has tightened so much due to the cold that this is the only sound
I can make."

So I followed Gollum, taking a few tiny steps to the edge if the
seeable bottom then launching myself ... and when I broke the surface,
I couldn't breathe because every muscle in my body had clenched
tightly. This, of course, means that I also began to sink like a
stone. I made some noise that I hope Gollum interpreted as,
"forgiveness will be hard to come by" and got back to shore.

In retrospect, it was very cool and I will probably do it again. Of
course, I say this now, having just arisen from the waterbed, 12 hours
removed from the hike out and the long wait for a pizza and the
incoherent babbling due to exhaustion and hunger. Hey, I only got one
tiny little blister from the experience. All in all, it was worth it.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Brave New (Handheld) World

Here I sit on this lovely bench set out for the sole purpose of
providing a resting spot for those whose companions are lost in the
aisles of bolts of material. And on this, Day 15 A.i., it is the
launch point of my first mobile blog post. While The T peruses
patterns that may make it into a quilt made of my favorite t-shirts (a
project going on at least two years now), I am happily tapping away.

We threw a NAP (Not A Party) yesterday and the iPhone was the center
of attention for a bit. It's a tough call which feature was most awed-
awed-ly received: a) the instant google mapping of any address tapped
on in the contact list or b) the two-fingered unpinching that enlarges the
screen image.

OK The T has emerged. I'm going to try and post this. More later...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Brave New World

I have ascended, fair readers, to the ranks of the truly Apple-ized. Yes, I acquired an iPhone exactly 13 days ago (hang on to that, it's an important factoid). I have since been transmogrified into a very hard person with which to live. "Hey! Check this out! Watch this! Isn't this cool?!?" To spare you all the intense proselytizing of the believer all in one posting, I will try to space out my reactions, stories, and ohmygawdisn'tthisamazing comments over several days. Let's start with one now, shall we?

One a-ha! moment in particular happened on Day 2 A.i. (A.i. = After iPhone) when I was cooking dinner. While boiling water to soften the noodles of the day, I was listening to tunes and checking email. In the middle of that multitasking, The T called. The music faded into silence, the iPhone did a little vibrate-thing and the screen identified the incoming caller. I pinched the cord in that fat spot where the mic lives and answered the call. Following the exchange of whatever earth shattering information the call contained, I pinched the fat spot again and the music returned to whence it was. Just two screen taps or so with my stylus finger (formerly known as the index finger) and I was back in the email I was reading. It was truly cool.

Maybe the cool factor was more extreme for me because my computer—and, therefore, my only access to email and the web—is on the second floor of the house. For me to check in on the virtual world, I have to leave the floor of the house where the action happens. Since our 1925 house only has four electrical sockets (one for the waterbed, my computer, The T's computer and a lamp/Mr Coffee/toaster combo), there is no way my computer can move downstairs. But with the iPhone, I was able to check email in the kitchen! Granted, the email I get is along the lines of "check out this skateboarding beaver video" but to me it is important.

There are a number of other How Did I Live Before stories which I'll post as I can get the words in order, but for now let's return to the fact that this is Day 13 A.i. Yesterday, Prophet Jobs, donning the denim and t-neck denoting his high rank, faced his congregation and said, "iPhone price, I slash thee!" Thus, the moaning and wailing began. This is so not how Apple has operated in the past. Usually, the price of an iThing drops right before it falls out of production. I totally didn't see this one coming.

[On the other hand, The T has a history of making me wait before I buy a gadget. The last time she slapped on the Handcuffs of Patience, the price of my desired Palm dropped $100. She was making me wait this time as well but since I wanted to get the gadget before classes started so I could devote every waking moment to playing with it without my classes suffering, I jumped. Yes, I'm hearing about it.]

Well, Apple has a 14-day return policy. Well, I didn't want to return my new favorite iGadget, I just wanted a $200 refund. So I called the Apple Shrine I bought the iPhone at and explained to them, "Timewise, I am within the 14 day window for returns. Physically, I am so far removed from you that only a transporter beam could get me to your store in time to show you my receipt and claim a refund for the price difference." Well, let me tell you, this was the easiest transaction I have experienced in quite a while. All it took was a few rather cryptic numbers from the receipt read over the phone and the next thing I know, I have a new credit card bill emailed to me showing a credit of 200-iBucks.

I didn't think it was possible, but now I like the iPhone even more.