If you're looking for the funniest stuff, I suggest starting with the Steve, Don't Eat It Homage and then the travel category. You're on your own with the older posts that have yet to be categorized.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Quakers, Amish and Menintights

About a week ago I posted a link to an article about a computer program that solves problems without running. My friend Zimbo was nice enough to point me to this post which does a not-so-great job of explaining why the original article stunk.

Which led me to read another of his posts (this about Olympic skater, Sasha Cohen) and the associated comments which I give you the highlights below:

Greg Kuperberg said...

Do you think that she would date a complexity theorist? :-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 7:50:17 PM
Scott said...

Not unless he did something like derandomize polynomial identity testing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 7:52:47 PM
Greg Kuperberg said...

Hmmm...I suppose that she isn't your type after all. Except for her looks, which ought to be anyone's type.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 8:42:53 PM
Scott said...

I have a girlfriend now anyway. Come to think of it, we were going to go ice skating at some point...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 9:07:51 PM
Anonymous said...

I thought Lance's blog was the dorky one...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 10:42:28 PM
Scott said...

I was thinking: it must warm feminists' hearts to see these spunky young women breaking into the male-dominated world of sports. First football and boxing, now figure skating in skintight dresses ... what's next?

Nagesh Adluru said...

Cool Scott, you have a girlfriend now! Can you suggest any tips on how to get one?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 12:20:18 PM
Scott said...

Maybe that'll be a topic for a future post: Dating Secrets of the Quantum Complexity Theorists.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 12:23:35 PM
Anonymous said...

One "schoene maidel," that Sasha.

Nagesh Adluru said...

That's great! Thank you. Though I am not a Quantum Complexity Theorist, your views should be helpful:)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 2:06:45 PM
BTW - for those who don't know Yiddish or German, shayna maidel (schoene maidel) means pretty girl.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sales Of Used Microwaves Plummet

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

[...] a man and a woman entered the store and the man asked the clerk, "Can you microwave something for me? It's a life-or-death situation"

The man asked for paper towels, wrapped an object in them, and had the clerk microwave the item for 20 seconds

When it was finished, the clerk handed the item back to the man and saw what she thought was a severed penis

The clerk at the store outside Pittsburgh actually microwaved a prosthetic device used to cheat on drug tests

According to the woman, the couple stopped to warm the device in the microwave so the urine would "pass the body temperature test"

Giant Eagle, which owns the convenience store, said the microwave will be discarded.
Doesn't this sound like a Farrelly brothers movie?

Give Me An Asperger With Cheese

I visited a friend this weekend. His wife and 2-year-old daughter were out of town visiting family. We were on our way to see a movie (Firewall, meh) when my friend pointed out a place and said that they had taken their daughter there for a haircut, though he realizes she is only two and this doesn't matter much, they had given her a bowl cut and it was horrible. His beautiful little daughter. How could they do that? He added that now they have to take her to another place where the haircuts are more expensive. I sympathized as best I could with his predicament.

After the movie, he was showing me some pictures of his daughter. Then this dialogue transpired:
Me: So this was after the bowl haircut, huh?
Friend: Lemme see? Uhhh, no.

I'll put that right up there with the infamous "So, when are you due?" "I'm not pregnant."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I Just Started To Read A New Book

The first line is

"It has been reported that Tanuki fell from the sky using his scrotum as a parachute."
Yep. There aren't too many people on the fence about Tom Robbins. You either love him or hate him.

Public Service Announcement

I'll try to make this entertaining but it is mainly to be helpful.

I bought a network print server (a Hawking HPS3P), I won't go into all the reasons why. I tried to install it Monday. Basically, the instructions are plug it into your network and install the software. Yeah, right.

I couldn't get the software to install. The install software stops at a point and has you select which print server and until you selct one, it won't continue. Problem was it listed none. I did all the normal "Windows sucks" things: reboot, reinstall, reset, retry. Nothing. Additionally, the print server seemed to be messing up my network and I had to unplug it. I waited on hold with Hawking for an hour before hanging up and sending an e-mail.

I got a reply the next day. Summed up, it said "turn off your computers firewall". I tried that and voila, the software installs. I take a look at the config stuff and find that if the print server doesn't detect a DHCP server on the network then it will become one. It appears to me that it is doing this so I disable this function. I do a Windows printer install (as directed) and when I get to the end and click "Print a test page". Nothing. Oh, jeez.

So, of course, I reboot. As soon as the reboot is done, "whhhhiirrrrrrr, click, hmmmmmm". It's the test page from before. Excellent. Let's print something else. Uh. Hmmm. Hello? Bueller?

I try a whole bunch of stuff but the sum is that nothing will print during the session I send it to the printer. It all prints after the next reboot. After trying everything I can think of I send another e-mail explaining the problem.

I received a response the next day, tried it (it's below if you need the directions) and tried to print a test page. Can you guess? Nothing. What the? Ooooh, I turned the firewall back on before. So I turn it off. Nothing. I reboot. "Whhhhiirrrrrrr, click, hmmmmmm". Oh, stop that. Try a test page. Drum roll, please.

Success! Overall, I'd say that Hawking gets a good grade for e-mail support and product function. Documentation sucks. Phone support, apparently non-existent, but toll-free.

Go to your printer properties (you will have to install the printer first as a local printer)
Then click on ports, add a standard tcp/ip print port
Follow the wizard, put in the IP address you assigned earlier. Change the port name to "lpt1" (or lpt2 or lpt3 if it's in the other ports)
Then, click next, click on custom settings, choose "LPR" and choose a queue name of "lpt1" (or lpt2 or lpt3 if it's in the other ports)
Then follow the wizard and finish. Then apply your changes to your printer properties and print a test page.

Update: Just more than 6 months later, this thing died. I certainly would not buy another.

If You Were This Computer, You'd Already Have Read This

I like to think that I'm a pretty smart guy. Many people have even told me that I'm as "smart as s" whoever that is. Anyway, what the fudge is going on at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign? I used to think I had some modicum of understanding of Quantum Mechanics but "counterfactual computation"? Here, you read it:

"By placing our photon in a quantum superposition of running and not running the search algorithm, we obtained information about the answer even when the photon did not run the search algorithm," said graduate student Onur Hosten, lead author of the Nature paper. "“We also showed theoretically how to obtain the answer without ever running the algorithm, by using a '‘chained Zeno' effect."

Through clever use of beam splitters and both constructive and destructive interference, the researchers can put each photon in a superposition of taking two paths. Although a photon can occupy multiple places simultaneously, it can only make an actual appearance at one location. Its presence defines its path, and that can, in a very strange way, negate the need for the search algorithm to run.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Let Me Know If You Feel Any Discomfort

Somehow, this commercial didn't make the Superbowl but I think Seattle fans know how he feels.

Give Me libTP Or Give Me Death

Way back I posted this story about toilet paper usage (actually I think I originally posted it on my other blog and moved it over). I was reminded of this today when I saw this story about roommates having a "difference of opinion" over toilet paper.

Crow told investigators that the men were fighting about the toilet paper over the weekend when Matthews pulled out a rifle. Crow said he then began beating Matthews with the sledgehammer and claw hammer, according to an affidavit.
I love that last bit about "sledgehammer and claw hammer". That's gonna make it difficult to plead self defense.

A Bigger BM Has Rarely Been Seen

In this previous post about the Radio Shack CEO, I didn't notice that in the quote is actually said "the company's board issued an unsigned statement that it stood behind its CEO..." [emphasis mine].
In the latest development comes this:

In reference to an earlier statement the company made in support of Edmondson, [RadioShack Executive Chairman Leonard] Roberts said, "In retrospect, I wish we didn't make that statement because obviously we didn't know all the facts."
Let's go back [begin harp music] a week or so when the board issued, but did not sign, that statement and listen in on the proceedings, shall we?
Board Member #1: So we are all agreed that we issue this statement. OK, you sign it it first.
BM #2: Uhm, oh, my pen just ran out of ink. Let me grab a new one.
BM #3: Here, use my pen.
BM #2 (leaving): No, this is my lucky pen. You go ahead [#3].
BM #3: Shouldn't the person who's been on the board the longest sign first?
BM #4: I don't think board seniority has anything to with it. Just sign it.
BM #5 (rushing out): Excuse me, my spastic colon is acting up, I might be a while.
BM #3: I'm not going to sign it. You sign it.
BM #1: I'm not going to sign. Hey, let's get Mikey. He'll sign anything!
Well with all those BMs in one room, what did you expect? Things to come out smelling like roses?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Uh, What Sport Is This?

"He just wants to slide it in between those two."
"Yep. YEP!"
"Oooh, that's right on the button."
"Nooooo. Yep! Yep! Noooo. Yep!"
"Oh, ya, that's right where she wanted it."
"Now, he'll want to take that out."
"Yep. Yep."
"Oh, that was a beaut."

Edit: I realise that if don't actually put the word "curling" in this post than only my three regular readers will ever see, and that makes me a sad panda.

And, for those who have seen Me and You and Everyone We Know, I give you ))<>((

Friday, February 17, 2006

I Don't Have Enough Fingers

How many MFU's* can you spot in this story on the CEO of Radio Shack?

Edmondson had said he earned degrees in theology and psychology from Pacific Coast Baptist College in California.

The school, which relocated to Oklahoma and renamed itself Heartland Baptist Bible College in 1998, said Edmondson completed two semesters and it never offered psychology degrees.

On Tuesday, the company's board issued an unsigned statement that it stood behind its CEO despite the discrepancies. Edmondson issued a statement Wednesday taking responsibility for the errors and, separately, the board said it would hire outside lawyers to investigate the errors.

* - If you missed it, MFU was defined in this Dilbert strip.

I Don't See Any Monkey

I realize that the people involved in Customer Service aren't always the highest wattage bulbs in the pack but sometimes it seems like they don't even read what you've written (due to lack of light?).

I received an incorrect movie from Netflix (disc and sleeve). (For those keeping track, let's say I asked for Movie A but received Movie B.) I reported it mislabeled and sent it back in the same envelope as another movie (Movie C and I actually do this quite a bit) . Netflix received Movie C but didn't remove Movie A from my "At Home" list, it just continued to say "Reported as mislabeled". So, I sent them an e-mail saying almost exactly the above and the response I got was:

Our records indicate our warehouse has not received this disc. I have marked
the DVD as "Lost". Once our warehouse receives the title, it will be removed from
the "Lost" status and you will automatically receive an email confirming the
Of course you haven't received it. You'll never receive it. I never received. That is what I reported. What happened to Movie B? What in Sam Hill is going on? Who is Sam Hill anyway? Is there a movie about him? If so, please add it to my queue!

This is a pretty minor thing but I was jonesing to post something.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Why This Guy Is An Idiot

This article by David Bach, purporting to explain why homeowners get rich and renters stay poor, really annoyed me. Let's pick this thing apart piece by piece.

From 2001 to 2005, the average homeowner saw the value of his or her house jump by more than 50 percent. Many homeowners doubled, tripled, and in some cases even quadrupled their wealth in just five years because of exploding real estate values.

Imagine that. Buy a home, live in it, build your wealth, get great tax deductions -- and then retire rich. It may sound too good to be true.
Did this guy write the same book about stocks in 2000? Sorry, low blow. Here's what's annoying about this, first he's picking the best possible years as his example. This sets unrealistic expectations. Secondly, 50% over 5 years isn't that great, less than 9% a year. I'll happily take 9% a year but it doesn't sound nearly as good as 50% in 5 years, does it?

How about those that doubled, tripled or quadrupled!!!! Read carefully. They quadrupled their wealth, not the value of their home. Is that what you read?

Sound too good to be true? Is there some saying about that?

I won't even comment on whether there's a bubble or not. I don't know. You don't know and for damn sure David Bach doesn't know.
Well, U.S. real estate values have been going up steadily for nearly four decades -- an average of 6.3 percent a year since 1968, which is when the National Association of Realtors first started keeping track. According to Freddie Mac (a.k.a., the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation), since 1950 U.S. house prices have never experienced a year-to-year decline nationally. Compare that to the S&P 500, a major stock-market indicator that has had no less than a dozen down years in the same period -- or the market for U.S. Treasury bonds, which has fallen in 17 of the last 55 years.
Hey wait a second, 6.3%? Including the 50% of the last 5 years? What about inflation? Bach has that selective memory thing going again. And notice that word "nationally". What good is that unless you're buying some kind of national housing index? How many people have ever lost money on a house? I know the answer is not zero. How many people have lost money buying a Treasury Bond and holding it to maturity? ZERO (excluding inflation of course).
Of course, just because home prices have been rising for the last half-century doesn't mean they're going to continue doing so.
Hey! That's a change! Although if he doesn't say something like that, he probably gets his ass sued off.

Now let's look at those 5 other reasons to own a house.
1. Owning is cheaper than renting.
I'm not going to copy that entire block. Let me sum up for Bach. I'll make some assumptions based on no facts to come up with a gigantic number. I'll imply that renting is an insult. I'll ignore the fact that you could invest the money you won't be spending on a down payment. I'll ignore real estate taxes, home owner's insurance and upkeep. Look you're a millionaire instead of a schmuck!

Here's the same argument in reverse. Say in Spring of 2005 you decide to buy a house. You can't afford much (you're just a poor renter after all). You want something in a fairly warm area, close to the coast, you choose a place in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans and pay $80,000 cash, every penny you have plus money borrowed from elderly, infirmed parents. You've got nothing left for home owner's or flood insurance but so what? Nothing bad has happened in close to 50 years.

On the other hand, if you had rented the same place, you'd still have your money, your parents wouldn't be wondering how they'll buy their medication...OK, you get the point.
2. Homeowners get leverage
Well, Bach's not a complete idiot, this is true. But leverage works both ways. If you invest $40,000 in that $200,000 house and the value of the house falls by 10%, $20, 000 then you've lost, not 10% but 50% (don't you love that number?) of your money. Then he throws this in:
As much as I like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, there's little chance any of them will produce anything close to that return in such a short amount of time.
Apples or oranges? Please stick with one, Bach. You can also leverage stocks. Buying on margin is an example. There's also options which at the right time can produce returns of 10x or more in a single day. Doesn't that sound great? (You can also lose 100% of your investment but who cares about that.)
3. Homeowners Get Tax Breaks, Renters Don't
4. Homeowners can earn tax free profits
I got no quibble with these. Well, maybe just a couple. If you're tax deductions are already limited than new ones won't help. If Congress changes the law (doubtful but possible) both of these could change overnight. I'll give Bach the benefit of the doubt here and assume his audience doesn't make much money (just enough to buy his book) so they wouldn't hit the deduction limits and he's assuming that Congress won't change the laws anytime soon. Lastly, I'll just note that in order to take full advantage of #4, you'd need to sell your house before your profits exceed the $250k/$500k cap or else pay cap gains taxes on the excess (a problem most people would be happy to have).
5. Homeowners become savers
This one is also mostly true (there are actually negative amortization loans where the principal of the loan increases each month early in the loan...until your payment go up). My bigger problem with this is that this somewhat contradicts #2 (leverage) because as you pay off principal you lose leverage. If leverage is so great why get rid of it? Lucy! You got some splainin' to do.

Well, I wish Bach would have stopped right there but no, he had to go and hack up this furball:
According to statistics compiled by the Federal Reserve, the average homeowner is 34 times richer than the average renter.
Dude! Cause and effect! For crying out loud.

All that said, I'm not against home ownership. It makes sense for a lot of people but not everyone. And certainly not for the reasons Bach states.

Sarcasm Is Not On The List

Have you done enough of these Johari windows things yet?

Ne Pas Allez Cuisine

When I was younger I remember there being hunger strikes all the time (although I can't remember why). Lately they seem to have had a resurgence of popularity, in Guantanamo and now Saddam Hussein.

I figure this is one fad I want to get in on before it goes out of style so I am announcing that
as of now, I am officially on a hunger strike

until noon today.

Monday, February 13, 2006

It's a Knowledge Economy, Stupid

Saving money is, generally, a good idea. Something that helps people save money (assuming it's voluntary) is also, probably, a good thing. (Can you tell I'm working up to something?) Even this somewhat self-serving program by Bank of America is not a bad idea. What gets me though is the last line on the page: "Keep The Change" patent pending.

Yes. Apparently they are trying to patent the electronic idea of what most people did every day back in the good old days of cash. Buy something and pay with bills. Receive change including coins. Place coins in pocket. At the end of the day place all coins in a jar. Repeat.

What's The Airdea

Could someone please explain to me how removing a laptop from its case makes air travel safer in any way?

Nevermind, I think I figured it out. Removing your laptop from its case is annoying. Some people will be so annoyed that they will refuse to fly. Clearly, these people have a short fuse and would be dangerous to have on a plane. For example, take this likely scenario:

Passenger: May I have some peanuts?
Flight Attendant: We're out of peanuts. How about some pretzels?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Why? Why?

I'm watching the Olympics and pairs skating has been on for a bit (hence my not paying much attention). One thing I did notice is that one pair threw a triple axel and most everyone else is doing the easier triple toe loop. I know all of the top women can do a triple axel and there's even a man or two (or so) that can do a quad something (toe loop? lutz? flip?) My question is how come a pair can't do a bigger throw-jump than an individual?

Vacation Update, Part II

Got back from Austin just as the snow started (I think the flight landed 45 minutes early). The long drive from the airport went smoothly with no snow/ice accumulating on the road. Unfortunately, to avoid the worsening conditions, I skipped my usual Trader Joe's run.

I walked the big (I mean BIG) hill that my friends live on. On the way down, my toes were completely jammed into the front of my sneakers. Getting back to the top felt like a real accomplishment.

Thursday night I went to a book club meeting (the book was Middlesex). The 7-9pm meeting ended at midnight. The group (6 of us total) spent maybe 20% of the time discussing the book (which I and four others thought was very good), 30% discussing what to read next (The Plague by Kamus) and the rest just talking. (These numbers are only estimates, YMMV).

Overall, a very relaxing vacation.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What Does Somnambulate Mean?

I'm about halfway through my vacation and having a great time. We've done a little hiking (to a rock climbing area which I, mistakenly, didn't partake in). A little disc golf (in like 30 mph winds, it was not pretty). Thai food, BBQ, local beer, Chilean wine. Mmmm. Temp has been in the low 70's during the day maybe 40-50 at night. Wonderful. My allergies have been killing me the last couple days (cedar pollen is very high). I've been taking Nasalcrom (started over a week ago) plus Benadryl or Allegra to very varied affect. My friends 4 year old is just a riot. For example, we were in the car and he was trying to find a magazine to show me (Bionicle, I think). He said, "Hold on." And I joke "To what?" He paused a second then replied "It's just an expression." Maybe it's just me but that cracked me up coming from a 4 year old.

Friday, February 03, 2006

We Can Name The New Planet After It

If you want to go to Mianus you'll have to use Yahoo Maps. You can't find Mianus with a map from Google.

If you're in Mianus, you won't find much to eat there. I couldn't find any restaurants in Mianus. There is a large body of water in Mianus but I wouldn't drink from it.

I haven't heard anything new coming out of Mianus in a while. Sometimes I wonder if Mianus is even still around. If anybody happens to be in Mianus, please take pictures. Also, let me know what the temperature is in Mianus.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Circular Logic

I think the word "irony" might be the most often misused word in English. But, at the risk of looking extremely stupid if I'm wrong, I think you will find irony in this story.

A Pittsburgh-area lawmaker facing five years in jail was among legislators who cast a ballot in favor of a bill that would strip convicted felons of their voting right.

Rep. Jeffrey E. Habay, R-Allegheny, will be sentenced next week on a felony conflict of interest charge[...]

Come Again?

House Republicans elect Boehner as leader
Is that pronounced bay-ner? bonn-er? I'm guessing it can't be the funnier one.

Yo, Taxi!

I've been reading this blog about by a female cab driver in New York lately. Quite interesting. It's part Taxi Cab Confessions (with less sex) and part "my job"-type blog, though I've yet to have time to go through the archives. Here's a TCC-type quote from a recent entry:

So while I ended up having a pretty lucky night, someone I drove home got lucky. I picked up a young couple in SoHo. They said they were making two stops, and the guy insisted on dropping the girl off first even though it was out of the way. The whole way there, they were making out heavily in the back seat. When we finally reached her building, his chivalry paid off as she uttered those six magic words: "Do you want to come up?" He shoved the money at me before I even had a chance to shut the meter off, and couldn't get out of the cab fast enough.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Water Is The New Oil

I don't know how many of my readers drink water but if you do here's some amazing "zero calorie" water. That's right, this water has NO CALORIES and it's only $40/case! (Actually it appears to be on sale for only $30/case, stock up!) Not only that but listen to this:

The water is put through a flash pasteurization process removing even the tiniest amounts of trace particles.[!]

[...]Jana Skinny Water offers unsurpassed purity[...]

In a patent-pending process, researchers combined the natural artesian water with Super CitriMax[...] [ed: the patent, I assume, is on how to add ingredients without affecting purity]

New studies also show that the clinical strength dose of Super CitriMax which is in Jana Skinny Water, actually increases fat oxidation, or "burning," as well as brain serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in mood, sleep and appetite control, which may help address many of the emotional issues overweight people face, including binge-eating and depression.
I'm heading straight to McDonald's to SuperSize something and pack some weight on me so I can try this stuff out.