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December 29, 2002

The Fear of Being Overheard While Talking in Restaurants

Is there a name for it? I regularly suffer from this malady and after my rare triumph over fear this evening I discovered that not one, not two, but three of the people discussed at the table were present, and were more or less likely to have overheard the conversation. Thank goodness nothing too heinous was said.

December 25, 2002

Merry Christmas To All ...

and to all a good night!

December 18, 2002

A Big Building Experience

I took an elevator downstairs for my late lunch today and walked to the front lobby. I was bundling up to hit the street when I discovered that I was missing a glove. I saw no gloves on the floor nearby, so I carded myself back into the building and retraced my steps, checking my pockets. Realizing where I must have dropped the glove, I could think of no better solution than to wait for the arrival of each of the eight elevators that I might have taken. Each time a pair of doors opened I stuck my head inside to check, no doubt looking for all the world like I had found the elevator lacking in some way as I backed out through the boarding passengers.

It worked though. I think it was the sixth elevator I checked.

December 17, 2002

Site Upgrade

I just did a minor upgrade from MovableType 2.5 to 2.51. If you notice any problems, please let me know!

A Great Store I've Never Been To

A spectacular suspension bridge built of Geomag kits at The Construction SiteA Cuboro marble runA classic Capsela machineA castle made of Anchor Stones

The Construction Site has got to be one of the coolest toy stores I've ever come across. I have no affiliation with them, I've never ordered from them, and I've never even seen the store. But I'm planning to now!

The store carries only construction toys, most but not all of which are available through their website. They have many of the great toys that I played with as a child, as well as several toys that I'd like to play with now! I love all the marble runs, and there are some truly great products that I didn't even know were out there.

I discovered the store via a comment in a recnet MetaFilter discussion.

December 12, 2002


Google has opened a very impressive search engine for goods on sale: Froogle is in free public beta. Doing any shopping these days?

This too, is from Metafilter, via user kokogiak's recent post. I try not to keep posting stuff from the same places, but when it's this good...

Speed Dating

All right, I have three excuses for not having heard of this: I don't watch Sex in the City, I don't watch Providence, and most importantly I'm happily married. It turns out that single city folks are attempting to find true love in a hurry—in eight minutes, to be precise. Their approach is known as speed dating or eight minute dating, and it's discussed today in this USA Today article. Metafilter user rrtek posted the article a little while ago and user sodalinda followed up with a link to this madcap description of the experience which is also well worth the read.

December 10, 2002

Gendered By A Nose

Via Boing Boing we find an excellent online quiz challenging you to identify gender by nasal structure. Give it a try, and please post a comment and let us all know how you did. I got 6/16.

December 04, 2002

Eclipse Day

Reuters photo

The New York Times has a nice article on today's southern hemisphere total eclipse. I wish I'd gotten to see this one. Maybe plep got a look while he was in the neighborhood; if so, I hope he'll fill us in!

Thanks for the article, Leslie!

December 03, 2002

Slippery Rail Season

Every autumn in New Jersey the leaves fall from the trees, and the official way of dealing with them, in our town at least, is to push them into the street, usually using a deafening powered leaf blower. The leaves form enourmous piles in the gutter, where they either rot in messy clumps (if the weather is wet) or serve as tinder under the hot exhaust systems of parking cars (if the weather is dry). The town sends crews around to haul away the piles but these crews only show up once a month at best and gather whatever hasn't blown away from the gutters.

One of the places the leaves blow is the train tracks. Northern New Jersey is thick with commuter rails taking us to and from workplaces in various nearby cities. We take the train twice a day ourselves, and our line has recently been upgraded, after decades of talking and years of working, to provide direct train service into New York City. Prior to this upgrade we had only diesel locomotives on our line, and these were not allowed into New Jersey Transit's berths at New York's Penn Station. With the addition of overhead catenary wires and a branch connection to the nearest existing electric route we now have newer, quiter electric locomotives, and a direct commute which is ten minutes shorter than our old one.

Every year about this time we're used to having New Jersey Transit remind us that "fall is slippery rail season." Why? Because of the leaves. You might not think of leaves as especially slippery, but the friction and pressure of train wheels grind all of the oil out the leaves and spread it along the rails, causing slow starts and shuddering jerky stops as our train passes through each station. This is the normal state of affairs.

Two weeks ago, however, something new happened. Mind you, we've only had these new trains since late September. Our train was carrying us home along the new Montclair-Boonton Line, and we were just a few stops away from our destination, when we slowly drifted to a halt between stations. After a few false starts, the train began moving backwards along the tracks. We suspected mechanical problems, and expected to be dropped off at the last station that we'd passed, but we rode right past it, eventually stopping again in a flat stretch between stations.

A conductor got on the public address system and informed us, sheepishly, that the train's wheels were actually spinning on the tracks and could not seem to get us up the hill. They had backed up so as to build up speed before attempting the hill again and we're preparing to charge. Electric trains, as I've said, run much more quietly than diesels, with more track noise than engine noise, so there was no satisfying I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can as we drove forward once again. We made it anyway, fifteen minutes late but glad to be there.

This has not happened to me again yet, but winter should be interesting.

December 02, 2002

Songdog.net is an Amazon Associate

If you'd like to, you can shop at Amazon.com through Songdog.net, thereby inducing them to pay me a small portion of the profit. I provide cheap advertising for Amazon, a site I'm quite fond of, and they (and you) provide some support for my own Amazon habit. I'll probably add a more visible link for the holidays (I probably should have done this last week), but all you really have to do is start your Amazon shopping here.

I Have Not Abandoned You

I've been sick. I developed a stomach bug of alarming intensity, which struck just in time to prevent me from eating Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. How intense, you ask? Intense enough to do this (yuck). After eight very unpleasant hours I was left weakened, sore, feverish, and intermittently queasy, and I've been like that for several days now.

I had plans here, you know. I was going to post a Thanksgiving greeting. I was going to do a Link and Think post for World AIDS day yesterday. But I just wasn't up to it. I'm feeling better than I did, so I'll have a little more for you soon.