just journaling: October already

In the past few weeks I've heard two popular covers of songs that were big when I was in high school or my freshman year of college: "Land of Confusion", originally by Genesis, and "Gone Daddy Gone", originally by the Violent Femmes.

A new generation of musicians re-interpreting songs I grew up on. Ghods that makes me feel old.


Been on the chaos train again...this, that, and the other. Two weeks ago, I got Grandma Bert and Grandpop Len's piano moved from Mom and Dad's house to my place. Dad says he thinks the thing dates to the nineteen-teens. That evening, went to see Uncle Jeff and Aunt Cindy play music at an art gallery in Hampden...sort of a whole family music legacy day.

observations on software testing

Found two interesting little stories about software testing:

Jim Horning tells a tale illustrating that "if you have ten million test cases, you probably missed one."

And Tom Van Vleck show why "no matter how hard you work to prevent bugs, you can't get them all."

Zelda's exercise, Oct 1

From Zelda's Inferno, another writing exercise. This time, the objective was to make up one-liners and puns (sort of along the lines of the Tom Swifty), using the following word list:

skating catch tackle boring balls base block dirt score play kick competiton fans field cheer watch

Silly, but kind of fun.

- the crackhead who should have never gotten to first base

- do you play soccer? ah, just for kicks.

- And now with the dirt on the O's new infield, here's sports reporter Heywood Yabuzzov

Grammatical rules in whale songs

Stumbled across a report on LiveScience about mathematical analysis of humpback whale songs, showing complex grammatical rules. The whales combine sounds into phrases, and then phrases into melodies several hours long. This is the first evidence of non-human animals using hierarchical communication structures.

black and white names

ABC reports on a test done by 20/20, where identical resumes were posted on the net, with "white-sounding" (such as Molly, Amy, Jake, Connor) or "black-sounding" (Imani, Ebony, DeShawn, DeAndre) names. The ones with the white-sounding names were downloaded 17 percent more.

Zelda's exercise, September 24

Another exercise from Zelda's Inferno.

This one was inspired by a scene in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, where young John is talking with his brother, who is intently studying the Bible. His brother wants to be a preacher when he grows up, and says he has to study because if you want to help people, you have to know the right stories to tell them. This exercise: tell a story that helps.

a story from I don't know where, from I don't know when
that I come back to when I feel insignificant, inferior:

Once there was a stonecutter, who spent his days carving rocks from the side of a mountain with a hammer and chisel.

Nitrous oxide

New Scientist reports on human activity's impact on another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide:

As a greenhouse gas, N2O is 296 times as powerful as carbon dioxide and accounts for 6 per cent of the greenhouse effect. To better understand the N2O output from forests, Klaus Butterbach-Bahl of the Karlsruhe Research Centre in Germany and team members Per Ambus and Sophie Zechmeister-Boltenstern studied N2O emissions from 11 European forests...

They found that nitrifying soil bacteria thrive on high nitrogen levels, producing mainly nitrates, which are turned into N2O by denitrifying bacteria. As human activity adds more nitrogen to the biosphere, the production of N2O by the bacteria looks set to grow.

Zelda's exercises, September 17

More exercises from Zelda's:

1) Connect these two lines:

It was the best of times, it was the - holy shit! What the hell is that?


And as she fell into his arms she lost all hope

It was the best of times, it was the - holy shit! What the hell is that?

She jumped in her chair
almost dropped the book
at the thunderous crash outside

and then the door opened
and he walked in
without warning
he walked back in
to the house
to her life
walked back in
after five years

walked back in
like the moon returning to the sky

Bruce Sterling: "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Google"

Interesting little short short story from Bruce Sterling in New Scientist, considering the future of people and "controlled spaces":

Right. We teenagers have to live in "controlled spaces". Radio-frequency ID tags, real-time locative systems, global positioning systems, smart doorways, security videocams. They "protect" us kids, from imaginary satanic drug dealer terrorist mafia predators. We're "secured". We're juvenile delinquents with always-on cellphone nannies in our pockets. There's no way to turn them off. The internet was designed without an off-switch.

9/11 + 5

Seems wrong to let the day, fifth anniversary of 9/11, pass unnoted; but there's nothing new to say. I'll just point to what I posted this time last year.

Here's lyrics to a song a wrote about that day (which will be on my forthcoming CD, whenever I get around to finishing that):

"No Words of Wisdom"
Tom Swiss

Everybody's looking at me
They ask me to sing and play
But I've got no words of wisdom
For a day like today

I came down here with my guitar
To help you pass the time
We could have a drink and have some fun
And sing these songs of mine


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