Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Making up my own list of question 7s

Wherein they're easy if you know the answers

1. I'll guess either NFL or roller derby
2. Kodachrome
3. Casino Royale, Ian Fleming
4. Right Round? All I know is "You spin me right round, baby right round like a record, baby right round, round, round"
5. George HW Bush
6. Brazil. I am a dumbass. The clue was Central America
7. first guess, relative killed in a plane crash.

Aanswers to be dropped in the comments in a few days. Hint, solving any of these is the key to unlocking all. ooh, vaguely cryptic

  1. What do the following nine states have in common: Arkansas, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota.

  2. What do the following fourteen states have in common: Alabama, Delaware Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Vermont, Wyoming, California, Minnesota; but not Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, or South Dakota.

  3. What do the following five states have in common: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Nebraska.

  4. What do the following five states have in common: Kansas, Montana, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Nebraska.

  5. What do the following four states have in common: Kentucky, Delaware, Wyoming, Nevada.

  6. What do the following eleven states have in common: Florida, Indiana, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Maine, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Minnesota

  7. What do the following fifteen states have in common: Georgia, Michigan, Texas, Idaho, Louisiana, South Carolina, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota

Sunday, June 28, 2009

short quote: refueling

Wherein I love an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese

Michele Wiles:
What does a dancer eat to stay in top form? In the case of Michele Wiles, principal with the American Ballet Theatre, whatever she wants. It wasn't always so: When she attended boarding school at the age of 11, her ballet instructors kept close guard over her diet. "They made sure we weren't eating fattening foods," Wiles recalls. "We got weighed once a week and were told if they thought we were overweight. When I got out of that and moved to the city, I ate nothing but junk food." So what fuels a dancer for a spate of upcoming performances?

Friday, June 26, 2009

short quote: careerism

Wherein vast majority of American companies dancers probably make less than $10,000 a year

American dancers moving to Europe:
Still, Credell feels that the audition process was worth the chance of getting a position with job security. Typically, contracts are yearlong with benefits, including retirement and paid vacations. Salaries are similar, if not slightly higher, even given the cost of living in Europe versus the United States. Some companies also pay for language classes for the new recruits.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

short quote: pretty

Wherein there is more at Language Log

Comment discussing a graph:
I want to show this to Edward Tufte, just to see his head explode.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Wherein wherein wherein wherein

1. dk
2. Persian
3. Adam's apple
4. CMT
5. dealer
6. Defense. Want to say education for the second, but pretty sure that's still a cabinet. Post office is probably one of the other two, so I'll go with that.
7. Countries he listed in alphabetical order in this email.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Short quote: mispronouncifications

Wherein true story follows

How do you say Sotomayor? Reminds me of friends. Daughter is born and they like the name Sara/Sarah. Problem is most of the family is so Georgia country that this gets pronounced as SAY-Ra. So the name will be pronounced properly they officially spelled it as the extremely rare Sera.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

short quotes: crunchy

Wherein I've always liked it

WSJ, No Grapes, No Nuts, No Market Share: A Venerable Cereal Faces Crunchtime:
  • On the factory's fourth floor, all day every day, objects with the proportions of hewn firewood and the heft of cinder blocks hurtle along a conveyor, dive into a steel chute, disappear down a black hole -- and emit what sounds like a startled scream.

  • The founder of Postum Cereals not only cooked up Grape Nuts in Battle Creek, Mich., around 1898, but also concocted some of the earliest mass advertising to peddle it. A 1910 ad said Grape Nuts had "phosphate of potash" for building "brain and nerves." It didn't. Another said the Panama Canal couldn't have been dug without Grape Nuts because it "keeps almost indefinitely in any climate." Other ads claimed it prevented malaria and appendicitis. It doesn't.

    By 1914, when Mr. Post apparently killed himself -- shortly after an appendicitis attack -- Grape Nuts had cut its curative claims to one: constipation.

  • "The rhythmic crunching that reverberates around your skull could be ambient sound meditation. To have the patience to get through a bowl, you have to practice mindfulness." Ms. Dale adds: "I have a special place in my heart for this cereal."

  • "It's a cereal that doesn't require much from me," he says. "I guess it isn't a real relationship."

  • ...adds an element -- zinc -- that enables Dana Johnson, in Arvada, Colo., to make home-brewed Grape Nuts beer. ("Light and drinkable," he says.)

  • In a nearby control room, Julius Larriva, who has overseen this process for 33 years, said: "Bake and destroy, bake and destroy."

  • Arturo Palmerin paused on the boxing line, where he has worked for 18 years. "Whatever," he said. "A lot of things." Then he said, "I have no idea."

Friday, June 19, 2009

three days but it's still good

Wherein may not contain informational value

1. cherry -- maraschino?

2. Let's start with the maritime provinces -- Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and I think Nova Scotia. I'm not sure of their codes, but since they're two letters PEI might be PE; so Pennsylvania changed to PA. Final answer.

3. Rodeo

4. I'm taking a wild guess and saying this is related to the movie Ishtar.

5. Turned out the lights, the party's over.

6. It's nevermore, not nevemore, and the correct answer is Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven."

7. dk

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Short quote: Isaac Newton

Wherein HA

Tom Parke:
If the dancers are attempting to prove that gravity does not exist, then it's ballet.
If the dancers are attempting to demonstrate that gravity does exist and it's a bitch, then it's modern.
If the dancers are attempting to demonstrate that gravity does exist but they'd rather die fighting it than give in to it, then it's jazz.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Short quote: turn out

Wherein we have friends whose daughter takes an Irish step class However Irish dance tends to teach turn out from the ankle not the hip Easier to do at a younger age but sacrifices building strength and is a poor fit for ballet

Backstage at SAB:
The celebrated opening phrase of "Serenade," danced by 17 girls or women, contains three successive features that were articles of ballet faith for Balanchine. In the first, the women, who are all facing front, suddenly turn their legs and feet out to 180 degrees, heels together, into ballet's first position. (Martha Graham, seeing this for the first time, had tears in her eyes. "It was simplicity itself," she said, "but the simplicity of a very great master - one who, we know, will later on be just as intricate as he pleases.")

In the second, they point the right foot, sending a charge of energy down the newly stretched leg. (This step, battement tendu, became the one Balanchine valued most as the open-sesame to good dancing. "You know, dear, if only you would learn to do battement tendu properly, you wouldn't have to learn anything else," he said around 1944 to the young dancer who soon became his third wife, Maria Tallchief.) In the third, they fold that leg back directly behind the other, one heel beside the other toe and vice versa, in ballet's fifth position: the basic tight-closed position on which Balanchine insisted, the ultimate contrast to the main wide-stretched positions in which his choreography abounds.

I have watched European dancers tackle these basic elements of the opening of "Serenade" without showing good upper-body posture, let alone full Balanchinean turnout of the legs. On Ms. Schorer's students these points look natural, and on Monday she did not need to work on more complex points of style, like off-balance steps or elaborate steps. These rehearsals are well advanced, so she can advise students on what shoes to wear, how to phrase and present intricate moments of partnering, and the precise places onstage where individual moments, happening at top speed, should occur.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Short quote: best advice

Wherein a whole bunch of questions from people afraid to make a decision Seriously someone is editing a book and is afraid to question MS Word's spellcheck suggestions and also doesn't know how to adjust the settings

New Questions and Answers from Chicago Manual of Style. (note: this link will only work through the end of July, 2009. CMOS does not archive Q&As by month:
And after you decide, if you think it's possible that others might be confused about what it means, you should probably keep working on that slogan.

This type of thing happens more than it should. If internal debate can't agree on what is being said, why does everyone expect the customer will accept their version? Rewrite is frequently overlooked as a primary editing tool.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Vending machine economics

Wherein perhaps if the prices were higher I would stay away more and this issue would not have occurred to me

I'm curious about the science, if any, behind vending maching pricing and stacking. Consider two vending machines next to each other -- one for beverages, the other for snacks. What is the most optimal pricing for both to generate maximum profit? My thinking is that always being able to split a dollar between the two machines would work best.

Example from breakroom nearest me. Cokes/sodas/carbonated beverages are .50 cents. Snack prices range from .45 through .60 cents broken down as:
  • .45 cents: 17
  • .50 cents: 4
  • .55 cents: 7
  • .60 cents: 17

Buying the most expensive snack and a drink means having a dollar and change; or break two dollars and getback a pocket full of change. Kind of pricey and whipping out the second dollar reminds how much is being spent on junk.

Until about a year and a half ago, drinks were .35 cents. A bargain price and if you used a dollar then you could use the change to buy anything from the snack machine. I wonder where the markups are highest? Does a .35 cent coke lose money even if sales of .60 cent Ho Hos goes up?

How about selling everything at .50 cents? Seventeen items get raised a nickel, seven items get dropped a nickel, and seventeen items get dropped a dime. Sold evenly, that's a drop of $1.20 in gross sales. Maybe it is worth selling fewer M&Ms at .60 cents sans drinks.

found -- Discussing pricing of the New York Times vending machines: debit cards lead to higher prices? Doesn't really answer my question, but does suggest that prices in my office building might be on the low side.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Making playlists

Wherein crumbs for the masses

Working on a couple of themed playlists to burn to CDs. Much easier than the old days of constructing mixtapes. No more spending massive amounts of time shuffling song orders around trying to create "feel" and then making the tape, finding it didn't work, and starting all over. There was just a whole lot of paper and pen work before even beginning taping.

Now I usually just dump a bunch of songs into a playlist and run through it on random a few times. I might go ahead and decide on a few beginning or end songs or know I want to transition certain songs together, but for the most part, the organic order suggested by random play works as well as anything I can do.

As a current example there's one song I'm removing because it doesn't work anywhere. It isn't a bad song, just disrupts any flow it's in. Otherwise, all the other songs from pop, punk, jazz, classical, and "other" genres work well together.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Mammals in space

Wherein it occurs to me that I never posted a review of watching all five films nominated for Best Picture in one sitting a few months ago So enjoyed Frost/Nixon the most and Milk the least

1. This would be a lot easier if I could name any of them. I think the Harvey Milk movie won the most recent one. No, it was the Millionaire movie. Wait, is the answer million? That Clint Eastwood movie about the boxer chick (haven't seen it) and Slumdog.

2. I've heard rumors that the farmer's wife wasn't very animated.

3. I associate orange with Belgium, so maybe Luxembourg.

4. don't know. Does it have something to do with the Wii? Yes it does.

5. Bicyclette

6. Don't Stop Believin'

7. don't know

Monday, June 08, 2009

short quote: success

Wherein how about someone write rewrite the musical Gypsy as a fictional version of the Williams sisters

Tennis parents:
While the bloated, bureaucratic USTA sputtered, tennis parents continued to spawn champions. Leading the way was Mike Agassi, a self-described "crazy Iranian from Las Vegas who browbeat his kids into mastering tennis." Mike indoctrinated his son Andre by hanging a tennis ball over his crib and taping a pingpong paddle to his hand. Stefano Capriati boasted that his daughter Jennifer was doing sit-ups as a baby and had a racket in her hand as soon as she could walk. Though Jim Pierce had no tennis background, he pulled daughter Mary out of school to train her full-time, working her up to eight hours a day, sometimes until midnight. He also punched a spectator at the 1993 French Open and was so unruly that he led the women's tour to add a provision for the banning of abusive players, coaches, and relatives. (In an act of solidarity, Richard Williams later called him "one of the best parents I have ever known.")

The approaches of these tennis tyrants may have been objectionable and the psychological damage they inflicted on their children immense. Nevertheless, these parents had a plan, and they stuck to it. They spent time and money and energy and didn't have to clear their decisions with a committee, answer to a board of directors (or even their spouses), or worry about overtraining or being fair to other players. And the expectations they put on their children, however misguided or unrealistic, originated from a resolute belief in their ability to become champions. Richard Williams' biggest achievement is not teaching his daughters how to hit forehands and backhands but inculcating them with, in the words of 1990 Wimbledon finalist Zina Garrison, the "strength, confidence, and arrogance you need to become the top player in the world."

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A couple essential albums from 1990

Wherein from a work in progress

People's Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythm, A Tribe Called Quest.
Dense overlay of interesting samples, skillful scratching, and raps that are playful and fun to listen to. Who would deny the story-telling of I Left My Wallet in El Segundo?

This, and a few others at the time, I thought heralded a shift, or at least a significant splinter, in rap towards a more lyrical and jazz influenced genre. I was pretty much dead wrong. I've told this before, but I dragged a friend to see them claiming they were going to be huge. We were at a Prince owned club in Minneapolis and the crowd was us and 10 Japanese tourists. I am not a weathervane for the cultural zeitgeist -- unless you're reading in reverse. Oh yeah, a lousy concert. Showed up late and played less than 30 minutes.

Un-Led-Ed, Dread Zeppelin.
This album is such a perfect concoction of unlikely elements I've stayed away from their other releases for fear of being disappointed. For those unfamiliar, Un-Led-Ed is Led Zeppelin songs as sung by an Elvis impersonator as played by a heavy metal reggae band. And it works brilliantly. I didn't come across this album until 1993; by that time the band had broken up a half dozen times (see the band's wiki page. There's isn't a weak track here, though I'm partial to the psychedelic *Moby Dick*.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Short video: beautiful

Wherein nice on stage a pain to create and carry around

New York City Ballet documentary on the tutu (at NY Times):
A tribute to tutus.

If in Charlotte this summer: Advanced Classical Tutu Project

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Unable to distinguish the difference between water and mouse urine

Wherein I first think of unusual as meaning weird more than uncommon
so would never have thought professional basketball player as an
unusual job

1. pass
2. France and Spain?
3. Wait, things that don't move or paper? I always need to look these
up. Got it. No answer, though.
4. pass
5. pass
6. pass
7. don't care. I'll guess order of mammals shot into space. Unless,
wasn't Laika the space dog first? No, just the href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laika">first launched into orbit.
The order on href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animals_in_space">this wiki page
has chimps before rats, which would make my guess wrong. Though that
page really needs a better focus on chronology and exact dates.
Should've gone to NASA href="http://history.nasa.gov/animals.html">first. Missing exact
dates for proof, but does suggest Russians used rats and rabbits before
dogs. There it is: Chimp, Jan 31, 1961; guinea pig, March 6, 1961;
human, April 12, 1961; cat, Oct 18, 1963

Four black mice were launched on June 3, 1959, on Discoverer
3, part of the Corona program of U.S. spy satellites, which was
launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Thor Agena A rocket. This
was the only Discoverer flight with an animal payload. The mice died
when the Agena upper stage fired downward, driving the vehicle into the
Pacific Ocean. The first try at launch was scrubbed after the telemetry
indicated no sign of activity in the capsule and the first crew of four
black mice was found dead. The mouse cages had been sprayed with krylon
to cover rough edges, and the mice had found the krylon tastier than
their formula and overdosed on it. The second try at launch with a
backup mouse crew was halted when the humidity sensor in the capsule
indicated 100-percent humidity. The capsule was opened up and it was
discovered that the sensor was located underneath one of the mouse
cages; it was unable to distinguish the difference between water and
mouse urine. After the sensor was dried out, the launch proceeded.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Short quote: literally

Wherein not about Joe Biden

From the The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary of American Usage, two paragraphs from a page-length discussion of the word literally:
Now a word about the critics. The chief assertions they make are that the hyperbolic use f literally is a misuse of the word or a mistake for figuratively. As we have seen, it is neither; it is an extension of intensive use from words and phrases of literal meaning to metaphorical ones. It is a not altogether surprising development from Alexander Pope's not quite literal "literally another yesterday."

If the hyperbolic use of literally is neither a misuse nor a mistake for some other word, should you use it? The point to be made here is that it is hyperbolic, and hyperbole requires care in handling. Is it necessary, or even useful, to add an intensifier like literally to a well-established metaphorical use of a word or phrase? Will the use add the desired emphasis without calling undue attention to itself, or will the older senses of literally intrude upon the reader's awareness and render the figure ludicrous, as was the case when a football play-by-play man we heard some years ago said the defensive linemen had "literally hammered the quarterback into the ground"?

Monday, June 01, 2009

One thru seven

Wherein from last week

1. Yellow
2. Elephant inseminator
3. The one with the Indians -- Dancing With Wolves
4. underwear (probably Fruit of the Loom) -- BVDs
5. Hubble
6. Sikh
7. KC was loosely based on a nonfiction book with voiceover from the
main character and pseudo-author. Don't recall if Johnboy was based on a
real character, but VO is adult author retelling his upbringing. Trapper
John is a reinvention from an earlier series, also based on a novel
loosely based on actual events; don't remember a voiceover. Of the
others, the only one I've seen is 30S and I don't see a connection.
Working wiki, OaA used a character, and the same actor, from 30S. Guess
I have nothing.

(By the way, KC is an excellent series canceled after 3 episodes. Go
watch it on Hulu, it's better than most of the series on now.)