December 14, 2003

Drag and Drop Masterpiece

Would you like to show the world just how little artistic talent you have? Try your hand at Mr. Picassohead. No messy brushes required.

Happy Dance

Here's a little tune from India based on a Bollywood music video. Seems like an appropriate sound track for the global mood evoked by Saddam's dental exam today.

[Thanks to Looka for the link.]


December 09, 2003

Samarai Linestanding

Remember when Soviet citizens had to line up for hours to buy shoes or sausages? In Tokyo they've taken the concept to a whole new level. I stood in the line for opening day in Glendale and San Diego, but this is extreme!

As a holder of AAPL stock, I'm all atingle about this.


December 06, 2003

Announcing the 2004 Presidential Prediction Poll

The race is beginning to warm up, though most people aren't paying much attention yet. At this early stage it's not easy to predict how it all will turn out. That's what makes it interesting. I've got my own prediction, and it's based on my reading of the news and a fair bit of wistful wishful thinking. Here it is:

Bush's numbers continue to drift downward as Iraq stays messy despite heroic efforts to clean it up. A scandal breaks into the headlines which forces Cheney to bow out for a second term, ostensibly for health reasons. Bush replaces him on the ticket with Condoleeza Rice, hoping to gain minority and female votes with a twofer. Meanwhile, Dean continues to be unstoppable, turns down the rage a bit and becomes attractive to a growing number of people. He wins the nomination after a sputtering attempt to bring Hillary in as an alternative and names Wesley Clark as his veep. After the most expensive and nastiest election in US History, the Dean/Clark ticket wins.

That's my guess, and if it scares you take comfort in the fact that I've never once been right about these things.

But you can play, too. I've just put up the
2004 Presidential Prediction Poll and invite your participation. Mull it over and make a guess. You have until January 31 and then I'll freeze what's there and we'll wait and see who came closest to reality. The winner will be saluted here next November. (Sorry, there's no prize other than that intangible praise and tiny fame.) Jump in and give it a try!

Postscript: Results are coming in already. You can see them here.



I spoke too soon about how unscathed we all were. June's finger swelled up and it pains her to move it. Alex and I have neck pains (but nothing serious... he's been checked out by his doctor). My car wouldn't start Friday morning because there's a short somewhere now that has drained the battery dry. For the first time in the 14 years we've lived here, I actually walked to campus to get to a meeting. Thirty-five minutes of brisk stepping with 20 pounds of computing power on my shoulder. And a cold.

I appreciate the kind notes I got from lots of people. I appreciate a bit less the note from the dittohead who noticed my Dean bumpersticker and decided that I'm a communist. This is the state of American civility we've arrived at after electing someone whose mantra was "I'm a uniter, not a divider."


December 03, 2003

A Day of Extremes

Every year around this time I get hit by a cold that knocks me flat. Sometimes it waits until five minutes after my last class or committee meeting; other times I'm down for the count for the last week of the semester, usually messing me up for the department Christmas party and the first part of whatever vacation trip we take.

My 2003 cold began with aches and a throat tickle on Monday and I dragged myself through ten hours of teaching on Monday and Tuesday with no one noticing. But this morning, I was a mess: overslept, achey, slow moving, and coughing up vile stuff from deep in my lungs. I drove Alex to school (while listening to a public radio show about the increase in drunk driving arrests over the last few years), came home and went straight to bed. Stayed there all day until 5 when it was time to go back to watch Alex performing as a priest in a short play about the inquisition of Galileo.

The play was held outdoors at HighTechHigh, a questionable choice of venue because the temperature was somewhere in the 50s and the school is located directly under the flight path for planes leaving Lindbergh Field. Each of the six short plays was interrupted every two or three minutes by the roar of jets heading away from Paradise. Even when sky was clear, you could only hear half of the lines because, amazingly enough for a HighTECHHigh, there was no sound system.

I would have been cold anyway, having become a complete weatherwimp just like native San Diegans, but the chest congestion and aches made it hell on ice. Finally, after two hours of this, Alex took the stage. He was terrific! He projected his voice pretty well, and, more than just reciting his lines, he got up there and acted! He argued against Galileo's heretical support of the Copernican view of the solar system and Galileo pushed right back. It was all the more gratifying since this was the quiet boy who always stayed in the back of the crowd and never wanted to be in the spotlight. My paternal pride warmed me up and I forgot my aches.

We stopped at Jack-in-the-Box on the way home. I was looking forward to hopping back into bed as we drove past SDSU when suddenly there was the sound of screeching brakes and...


A car had rammed us from behind. June screamed. Metal and glass crunched. My head hit the padding over the visor. Alex hit the back of my seat.

And then more tires squealing as the car behind us backed up, jumped up on the sidewalk, drove past us on the right with the sound of more crunching metal as he passed by me on the passenger side. When he got back off the sidewalk he seemed to pause and we all started calling out the license plate so that collectively we could remember it. A half second later, having chosen not to stop, he raced onto the entrance ramp for I-8 and headed east.

We surveyed each other to see who was hurt, and other than a bent finger for June, we all seemed OK. I called 911 and by the time I got through we had forgotten the first three digits of the out of state plates.

Meanwhile, evening classes were letting out of SDSU and the traffic kept rushing up behind us menacingly, with no one expecting us to be parked in the rightmost lane. Alex and I got out to see the damage and there seemed to be very little of it. Paint flaking off, a whole lot of red paint or pulverized plastic on the back from the other car. College Avenue was littered with pieces of metal, plastic and parts of headlights. Pieces of debris were being further crunched and sent hopping like dangerous popcorn as the traffic speeded past. Back 50 feet from where we stopped, we saw the whole front bumper of the other car lying on the sidewalk, having fallen off when he backed up.

Police came. They figured the other guy would be easy to spot racing down the freeway with no front bumper or headlights. They commended June for resisting the urge to slam on the brakes when we were hit. Had she done that, the impact would have been much worse and this would be a very sad story. As it is, just as when we watched the wildfires licking the hills behind our house, I realize again that nothing really matters but the people around you. We're OK. We're lucky.

And now that the distraction is over, I feel this damn cold again.