Monthly Archives: October 2003

Miriam Rothenberg’s Bat Mitzvah

One of my many third cousins, but one of only two who also live in Ithaca, Miriam, is having her Bat Mitzvah on Saturday. Her father Jim has been very sick for the past several weeks with flu I think. He had even been hospitalized, but he’s home now and it seems he’ll be well enough to attend the Bat Mitzvah. There was a scare that he wouldn’t be well enough to go, and Mariana asked me if it would be possible to have a streaming video from the ceremony to their bedroom so Jim might watch from bed. I said, yes, assuming there is high bandwidth internet at both places. I said I would be happy to set it up if need be, but let’s hope that we won’t need to. It would have been a bittersweetly interesting project to undertake, but it is good I don’t have to.

Now I have to go buy Miriam her present. I think every 13-year-old should have an excellent dictionary, so that’s what I’ll get her. I hope she doesn’t read my web site and ruin the surprise.

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Cousins from France

I met two cousins of mine last night named Tibeau and Perrine (I think that is how they spell their names). They live in Montpelier, France and are 11 and 9 years old. They were both absolutely charming. They are my third cousins, and their father James is my dad’s second cousin. They are a very interesting and amiable family all around, and it is always exciting to meet more foreign relatives, although James is American. I hope to meet them all again. And last week I met my second cousin once removed Michael Kay from Atlanta, another new relative for me. Continue reading

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The Balthazar and Force Co.

Not sure what it is exactly that my company does, but we sure do have a swank logo.

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Modern “Classical” Music

I went with Diego this afternoon to a “reading” of his and some of the others in the department’s pieces. All the pieces were for violin, cello, clarinet, and piano. I liked most of them, and it was really interesting to see the interactions between the composers and the musicians. The musicians made suggestions about how the scores might be improved, and the composers indicated where the musicians didn’t play the pieces quite like they wanted.

Unfortunately, with some pieces, I find my mind wanders partway into the piece and I would start thinking about all kinds of other things that have nothing to do with the music. I haven’t quite figured out why I do that with some pieces but not others. Overall I find the music to be hard to appreciate. I don’t mean that I think it’s bad, but simply that I don’t have the musical knowledge necessary to fully appreciate the pieces. It kind of frustrates me but I think it is somewhat symptomatic of the genre of music. Most people simply aren’t capable of appreciating it.

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The Panther and typography

Got OS X 10.3 Running on my desktop last night. My favorite feature so far is the new character palette. And the Font Book. I’ve already begun sorting fonts. Makes me wish I was still doing print work. Maybe I still can, because Miriam B. called me earlier this week about possibly doing Ryan’s siddur for his bar mitzvah. Haven’t done a bar mitzvah prayer book, since, well, my own, in 1994-95. Could be exciting. I really miss doing print design. It’s so satisfying. The web really has ruined typography. And I saw they redid an old building in downtown Ithaca: The Gateway Center or something, and they carved the name of the building into the facade. It would look nice, but they carved it in Helvetica! Bah! Oh well. Continue reading

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Job Ending

My job comes to an end on October 31. It was a lot of fun, but it is time for me to move on. I plan to leave Ithaca by the end of the year. Where to? Probably California, but who knows? If you are aware of any positions available in text-to-speech software development, let me know. Thanks. Continue reading

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The Count

I have had a bean-filled stuffed toy of Sesame Street’s The Count on my desk for quite some time. At some point in time a long time ago, all the computers in this office were named after muppets and each computer had an actual toy muppet to go with it. The Count was long since retired and one day I found him and decided to keep him at my desk.

One day Diego came to visit me at work and saw The Count and say, “ah, El Conde Contar.” It then occurred to me that the name “The Count” only works in English, where the word for the title of nobility in some European countries, corresponding to the English title “Earl” and the verb that means to enumerate the natural numbers in reference to a quantity of discrete objects is the same. In other languages, like Spanish, these two senses have different words. So the literal Spanish name for “The Count” is “The Count of Counting”. Similarly, his name in Dutch is “Graaf Tel”, which means the same thing. It’s too bad the ingenious wordplay behind this character doesn’t really translate to other words.

Diego also tells me Grover is called Archibaldo in Spanish. Continue reading

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That new Wikipedia logo I was telling you about

Looks like this: Pretty cool, huh?

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M.C. Escher

Some crazy people made Lego sculptures of famous Escher drawings. How did they create in 3-D what appears to be physically impossible? It turns out they’re just “camera tricks”, as evinced by these awesome videos at the official Escher web site. A short bio of the Dutch artist can be found here. When I first saw these drawing as a kid, I thought they were cool because they looked plausible at first glance but close analysis showed that they weren’t really possible. It turns out, in a way, that they really are possible. Neat! I always thought these crazy Lego people who make elaborate Lego sculptures just need to grow up, but now I kind of want to get a bunch of Legos and start building. Continue reading

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Night people

I don’t really like being a night person. It makes getting up in the morning such an unpleasant experience. I would love to wake up early every morning and jump out of bed, ready to start my day, but it appears it may not just be a question of willpower, but of genetics. What irritates me though is morning people who assume that night people are just lazy or undisciplined. Some of us simply just can’t function in the morning. Continue reading

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The new Wikipedia logo

The new logo that is being used at Wikipedia right now was produced by yours truly. The original idea of the incomplete sphere of puzzle pieces was designed by Wikipedia user Paullusmagnus but there were enough complaints about his version that there was a call for variants, and mine won the most support. It still needs color I think, but it seems none of my versions with color got sufficient support. One step at at time though. Continue reading

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Grammar Rant I: Acronyms

There seem to be a lot of people out there who are determined to define the word acronym as only meaning a set of initials that are read as a word, using the normal rules of English spelling. These people would have that acronyms like BBC and IBM aren’t acronyms at all, but merely initialisms or just abbreviations

I think these people are right crazy. Sure, if they interpret some dictionary definitions in a narrow way they can claim it supports their case, but the reality is that it just defies common usage. Most people call sets of initials, regardless of how they are pronounced, as acronyms. Furthermore, there are mutant cases, like JPEG and IUPAC, which are part letters and part sounded-out word, and none of the restrictive meaning people seems to be willing to make a declaration as to whether those are acronyms or not.

I ran into this problem while working on the Acronym article at Wikipedia. However, my impeccable logic seems to have won out, for now.

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Sad, languishing web sites

This sure is one of them. What have I been up to lately? Wikipedia. Continue reading

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