Thursday, October 29, 2020

Friday Links!

What a fantastic science experiment (note: it cannot be performed with Mexican rice): How to Measure the Speed of Light With a Bar of Chocolate and Your Microwave. Font nerd alert! Papyrus. Well, somebody had to do it: Bot orders $18,752 of McSundaes every 30 min. to find if machines are working.

Next level links from C. Lee. First, and this is a terrific read, it's Transcending Gravity: The View from Postcolonial Dhaka to Colonies in Space. A difficult problem with unclear solutions: The Great Unread: On William Deresiewicz’s “The Death of the Artist”. This is ingenious: Venice’s Controversial Inflatable Floodgates Save City for the Second Time. I would totally buy a book about this; A Brief History of the TV Dinner. This is so incredibly clever: ISS Crew Just Found an Elusive Air Leak Using Floating Tea Leaves.

From Jonathon Wood, and there are so many stunning images in this article: How dams have reshaped our planet.

From Christopher Scott, and it's a fascinating article: The Mystery of the Immaculate Concussion.

From Wally, and it's actually true: Teens Exploring Ancient Ruins. I didn't know this: We Have Edgar Allan Poe to Thank for the Detective Story.

From Brian Witte, and this headline writer should win some kind of award: Oakland's Notoriously Aggressive Turkey Captured by Wildlife Expert Posing as Frail Woman.

From David Gloier, and talk about a unit: Meet the Diabolical Ironclad Beetle. It’s Almost Uncrushable.

Cleaning and Music

I almost never do this (actually, I've never done this before today), but I wrote for an hour this morning and stopped. 

Too much in my head. 

Instead, I cleaned, which is the great avoidance mechanism if I can't get something else done. 

Until recently, I had no idea that cleaning had a calming effect. I was doing it wrong--rushing to get done as quickly as possible--so I never understood that when you clean in a methodical fashion, there is a kind of satisfaction that is very soothing. 

Once I realized that you have to clean in one swoop, not piecemeal, and that doing it half-ass is more stressful than not doing it at all, I got into the zen of it all. 

Part of this process is wearing headphones and listening to music to drown out the vacuum cleaner. 

Recently, I've been listening to the recent re-release of Sign O' the Times. What I find really striking about that album is that Prince put the best song as the first cut of a double album. 

Boy, that takes confidence. 

In particular, there is a lyric that is one of the most compelling I've ever heard, mostly because of the way he phrases it:
In September my cousin tried reefer for the very first time
Now he's doing horse
It's June

You can listen to it here (that section is around 1:20), if you're interested. It's unbelievably haunting, and it sticks with you for a long time. 

I've always been fascinated by albums where the first track perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album. Lots of artists don't do that, but there are certain albums where the first track just leaves you breathless.  

So, I sat down and made a small list of songs that do just that. 

Sign O' the Times (Prince)
Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stones)
Seven Nation Army (White Stripes)
Baba O'Riley (the Who)
Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix)
Straight Outta Compton (NWA)
Down to the Waterline (Dire Straits)
Roundabout (Yes)

If you're old like me, these songs will all be familiar, with the possible exception of Down to the Waterline, which was the opening track on Dire Strait's first album. Dire Straits had a very unique sound, and I still remember hearing that song for the first time and feeling my head explode. It was so tightly constructed, so lean, and it encapsulated the band's sound perfectly. 

More Than a Feeling did the same thing for Boston, I think. 

Wait, I only wrote for an hour today? That's just so far. I'm going back to it shortly. Books don't write themselves, much to my dismay.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Not A Good Sign

I have two specific types of pen that I use when I write. 

The first is when I'm writing drafts. It has a slightly broader tip. I don't know why I like it for writing drafts. I just do. 

The pen I use when editing has a more narrow tip. 

These pens are made by different companies. I don't use other pens. 

I ordered a box of the editing pens (believe it or not, I go through them pretty quickly now) and received it today. I took off the shipping envelope, help up the box of pens, and said, "Now that is sexy."

With COVID, the election, and rice in the microwave, I am clearly losing my mind. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Pro Tip

What is the correct response? 

A bag of instant rice is supposed to be in the microwave for 90 seconds. You walk over with 10 seconds left and see that the bag is inflated to a concerning degree. 

Do you:
1) Stand looking into the microwave like a dumbass and say "Gee, I wonder if that will blow up before the cooking time is done?"
2) Turn off the microwave?

If you answer 1, you may be scraping rice off the walls of your microwave. Hypothetically.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Still a Badass After All These Years

I sent Mom 90.7 a 1000 piece puzzle a few months ago. 

Mom is an active puzzler, and she's got a hard-earned reputation for handling degrees of difficulty that would make the rest of us weep. 

I saw this puzzle advertised on Slickdeals at a great price, and just sent it along. I had no idea that it was fiendish. 

She persevered--as she does--and when it was done, she like it so much that she framed it and hung it on the wall. 

That's the kind of thing you do when you're ninety and still a badass. 


One More Thought on Star Citizen

There was something tickling me about the Star Citizen post, something that I couldn't quite express, but I think I figured it out.

There's a very logical reason (in a bad way) that all these crazy features like modeling bartender behavior and pilot urine trajectory based on urinal height (okay, that's not in yet, but just wait) keep getting added. 

Here's why: it's impossible to justify an infinite amount of money unless you promise to do an infinite number of things. 

So it's not a distraction that these bizarre, useless features keep getting added. It's an essential part of their fund-raising strategy. I think you could even argue that it's actually the core of their strategy. 

This is an approach used by populist/authoritarian politicians as well. I can do everything, and only I can do it, so your support for me must be absolute.

I'm sure there are studies out there that establish what kind of person is receptive to this approach. I can say that I'm not one of them. As soon as someone starts promises infinity, I start laughing. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Friday Links!

 I think we can all use something cheery, so let's start here (his reaction at the end is so funny): Little Man Scores! I can't remember if I linked to this before, but it's so soothing that I don't care: Enjoy Malinda serenading her chihuahua with a Beatles song. One more (I'm leaning into the happy/soothing right now): Boys just being dudes.

From C. Lee, and this is terrifying: ‘Like I was being eaten’: When police dogs bite, no one is accountable. This is both interesting and overdue: The U.S. Military Is Finally Fielding Body Armor Designed for Women. A provocative what-if: The Army's Mind-Bending 1,000-Mile Cannon Is Coming. Could It Bring Back Battleships? Hey, now, no bad talk about our better half: Not a Fan of Hawaiian Pizza, Processed Cheese, and California Rolls? Blame Canada. Unsurprising: Researchers gave thousands of dollars to homeless people. The results defied stereotypes.

From Eric Higgins-Freese, and this is a good read: How does Google’s monopoly hurt you? Try these searches. 

From Wally, and damn, this is amazing: A Surreal New Bookstore Has Just Opened in China. There's some terrific stuff in here: Why first edition books can attract obsessive collectors and sell for eye-watering sums. This is big news: The first room-temperature superconductor has finally been found.

This is the most 2020 post ever

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown won't air on CBS this year because Apple bought the rights. 

I mean, you can watch it for free on Halloween. You just have to download the Apple TV+ app, create an iTunes account (adding a credit card), log into Apple TV+ with your iTunes account, and you're good to go. 

Simple, man. Stop complaining.

The Daily WUTP Update


I've figured it out

I've been wondering why Payday candy bars (which I still eat, on occasion) are only available in "King" size at the grocery story.

Then it came to me.

The only people who eat Paydays are so old that the company is worried we're struggling to keep on weight. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Archibald Wincemember Shares Some Pictures

First off, one more nice scene of fall:

Technically, I guess that's more of a nice tree of fall, but what a tree. 

I saw this during a walk. You'll want to double-click on the picture for a full-sized version, but this person created a version of Candyland in her yard that kids can come in and interact with. This is such a big-hearted and generous thing to do, because 2020 sucks for kids, too.

Also, years ago, and I don't even know how many of you remember this, but I played Candyland with Eli 3.5 dozens of times and managed to lose every single time, which became our thing for a while. I would have terrible luck (which takes more work than it sounds) and we both thought it was hilarious. All I have to do is say "Candyland" now and he'll still burst out laughing.

A Useful Metric

For tracking the progress of a bladder infection, I'm fond of the WATP (Waking Up To Pee) metric. 

I've gone down from a high of six to three last night, so I feel like I'm heading in the right direction. 

How many times do I get up to pee during a regular night? I cannot release that information due to HIPAA privacy rules. 

Also, thanks for Scott referring to me in an email as "Archibald Wincemember." This is entirely accurate.

A Paragon of Rational Thinking

 From a friend: "I just saw a guy wearing a face mask while riding a motorcycle without a helmet."

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

I Believe This Description Is Accurate

A bladder infection feels like every angry person you ever met shouting inside your penis at the same time.

In other news, I have a bladder infection.

Men only get them rarely, but I won the lottery. Yay.

When I went to the doctor, she said that bladder infections are even more painful for men because we have a much longer urethra.

Again, yay. 

Oh, and the heat went out three days ago and isn't fixed yet. 

I've been sitting at a table, cold and ill, writing. I feel like I'm a character in a poorly written Dickens novel.

Monday, October 19, 2020

I Feel Like Someone Should Have Noticed This

This is the logo on the hats of the Atlanta Falcons coaches:

Let's have a closer look: 

Man, that reminds me of something. Hold on, let me think. 

Wait, this is it:

Burrito, anyone?

Friday, October 16, 2020


 Eli's graduating at twenty-one, not twenty. That was a Freudian money slip, I think.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Friday Links!

Leading off this week with a delightful link to the greatest library song ever written. It slaps: Library Takeout.

This is incredibly sad: The Scariest Encounters Women Have on the Appalachian Trail Are With Men.

These images are fantastic: Bats, bugs, and beauty: The best microscopy images of 2020.

From Wally, and I have no words: Ron Patrick's Street-Legal Jet Powered Volkswagen Beetle. The future is coming at us hard: New Technology Allows Circuits To Be Printed Directly On The Skin. A very smart and good boy: Watch a dog play the shell game. This is a rabbit hole, but a very interesting one: A Game that Threatens Student Intellectual Property

From C. Lee, and it's very useful: Study: Anti-virus face shields allow almost all minute droplets to leak. This is long and deeply thoughtful: Truths Too Terrible: On Arthur Schnitzler and Franz Kafka. This is so, so good: Nature's Toxic Gifts: The Deadly Story of Poison. 2020 is the stupidest timeline: Duck Stamp Artists Turn to Spent Shotgun Shells to Meet New Pro-Hunting Mandate. An interesting historical experiment: The Spanish Navy Is Sailing Two Casks of Sherry Around the Globe. This is such a bizarre story: How Stalin and the Soviet Union Created a Champagne for the Working Class. This is excellent: Remembering Quino, creator of Latin America's beloved 'Mafalda' comic strip.

It's Funny How Things Work Out

Ironically, if Eli 19.2 was still playing hockey, I'd be feeling sick. 


If he was still playing junior hockey (a strong possibility, because very few players play D1 before they're twenty), he'd be facing the likelihood of his entire season being cancelled. I can't imagine how much that would hurt, especially after delaying college so that he would be more likely to play in D1.

If he was in college, he'd be hearing today that the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility for all winter sport athletes. 

With only three goalies a team, an extra year of eligibility disproportionately impacts the goalie position. 

There would be some incredibly difficult situations to make, probably with very incomplete information. 

When he quit hockey, it was painful. If he hadn't quit, though, he'd most likely have nothing right now. 

Instead, he's on track to graduate at twenty-one with a double major of Public Policy and Spanish and a minor in writing. He's also assisting in the research and drafting of important legislation during his legislative internship. 

He's still in monster physical condition thanks to rock climbing, and he's a three-handicap golfer after only playing for two years. So he still gets to compete, but his future doesn't depend on it. It's hard for your future to be so dependent on such a small number of coaches in a byzantine system. It wears you down. 

Even in a pandemic, somehow everything has worked in his favor. 

It's funny, but things working out for him makes it easier when things don't work out for me. His happiness creates a kind of natural buoyancy that lifts me up, too. 

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