Monday, December 20, 2010

New Yorker Cartoon

I cut this out of the recent issue of  The New Yorker magazine. 

Cold Weather In Europe

There has been a lot of snow and cold weather in England,  northern France and Eastern Germany.  The Netherlands has had enough cold weather to build some ice.  Here is a recent story.

Woensdag mogelijk NK op natuurijs
Toegevoegd: zondag 19 dec 2010, 16:52
Update: zondag 19 dec 2010, 20:07
Schaatsen op natuurijs

Het Nederlands kampioenschap marathon op natuurijs kan woensdag, als het aan de IJsclub Belterwiede ligt, gehouden worden in Wanneperveen.

"De schaatsbond KNSB heeft het parcours van zes kilometer vandaag geïnspecteerd", aldus voorzitter Jans Bijker.

Op het Overijsselse meer de Belterwiede ligt nog niet overal de vereiste vijftien centimer ijs. "Maar dat komt de komende dagen heus wel goed", stelt Bijker. "Wij hebben bijna geen sneeuw op het ijs liggen. Met een beetje vorst hebben we maandag op het hele traject vijftien centimeter. "

Volgens KNSB-coördinator Teun Breedijk beslist de schaatsbond maandag over de definitieve datum.

Marathon natuurijs in Gramsbergen
Dinsdag wordt in Gramsbergen al wel een marathon op natuurijs verreden.

 Het evenement in Overijssel (honderd ronden bij de mannen en zestig bij de vrouwen) is de vierde van dit seizoen op natuurijs en vormt de finale van de zogenoemde marathonvierdaagse. Eerder kon er al worden geschaatst in Noordlaren, Veenoord en Haaksbergen.

Bij de mannen hebben Karlo Timmerman en Christijn Groeneveld beiden 65 punten. Timmerman is koploper omdat hij al twee marathons won. Martijn van Es staat derde.

Bij de vrouwen leidt Maria Sterk met 69 punten, op slechts één punt gevolgd door Carla Zielman. Derde is Foske-Tamar van der Wal.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Moving Along the Curve

The third anniversary of my surgery is ~Dec. 21.   In a previous post I mentioned the K-M curves.  At 36 months - the probability is about 0.75, and at the endpoint (66 months) it's about 0.68.  So, I am about 90% along the curve - probability-wise that is.   Dr. B, my gastro-doc, says I can be checked biennially (not biannual which is synonymous with semiannual)  now. And Dr A., my onc-doc, says we are going to annual scans.  Nurse E says it's time for the chemo port be removed. It was useful for infusing CT scan contrast fluid. The Power Port can handle  the high pressure and flow rate of the iodine contrast.  The MRI people never had someone who was port capable so they did a venipuncture.   Since the port requires a monthly flush with heparinized saline, and there is a risk of infection etc., the low rate of usage does not justify it staying in. It's been in for over three years.  Anyhow, I hope I'm not jinxing anything by having it out.   :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mae West Quotations

Mae West (click to enlarge)
Mae West was a very smart, witty, and sexy, woman.   As a screenwriter and actor,  she wrote and  delivered many of the "lines"  listed below on Broadway and in her movies. 

  • A dame that knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up.
  • A hard man is good to find.
  • A man has one hundred dollars and you leave him with two dollars, that's subtraction.
  • A man in the house is worth two in the street.
  • A man's kiss is his signature.
  • All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.
  • An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.
  • Any time you got nothing to do - and lots of time to do it - come on up.
  • Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.
  • Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.
  • Cultivate your curves - they may be dangerous but they won't be avoided.
  • Don't keep a man guessing too long - he's sure to find the answer somewhere else.
  • Don't marry a man to reform him - that's what reform schools are for.
  • Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can't figure out what from.
  • Give a man a free hand and he'll run it all over you.
  • He who hesitates is a damned fool.
  • His mother should have thrown him out and kept the stork.
  • I always say, keep a diary and someday it'll keep you.
  • I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.
  • I believe that it's better to be looked over than it is to be overlooked.
  • I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.
  • I like restraint - if it doesn't go too far.
  • I never loved another person the way I loved myself.
  • I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
  • I only have 'yes' men around me. Who needs 'no' men?
  • I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
  • I'll try anything once - twice if I like it - three times to make sure.
  • I'm a woman of very few words, but lots of action.
  • I'm no model lady. A model's just an imitation of the real thing.
  • I've been in more laps than a napkin.
  • If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning.
  • It ain't no sin if you bend a few laws now and then - just so long as you don't break any.
  • It's not the men in my life that count, it's the life in my men.
  • Look your best - who said love is blind?
  • Love conquers all things - except poverty and toothache.
  • Love isn't an emotion or an instinct - it's an art.
  • Love thy neighbor - and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier.
  • Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution.
  • Personally, I like two types of men - domestic and imported.
  • Save a boyfriend for a rainy day - and another, in case it doesn't rain.
  • She's the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong.
  • The best way to hold a man is in your arms.
  • The score never interested me, only the game.
  • Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.
  • To err is human, but it feels divine.
  • Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.
  • When I'm good, I'm very good. But when I'm bad I'm better.
  • You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
-- Mae West

Friday, October 8, 2010

Colonoscopy via Stoma #3 and other stuff

A few days back I had my third "annual" colonoscopy through my stoma.  The 4 litre preparation the day before was not too bad.  I watched episodes of  the "World at War" documentary series narrated by Lawrence Olivier (what a fine voice) on YouTube (in ten minute sections (those rules for youtube videos )).  I also ran a timer so I could drink about 200 mls every ten minutes.  After 200 minutes, the drinking is done. The output starts an hour or so after drinking starts and ends an hour or so after the last glass is drunk.  A few things were different from the last two (see posts from last year and the year before).  They have lightened up a bit on the IV cocktail (probably to move things along bit).  I did not have any amnesia and remember the procedure pretty well. I saw my colon - it looked an light orange color on the display. I was expecting a little pinker or redder but that's likely wrong.  Here's a clip from youtube.

Yes, it does look kind of pinky/orangey (the blood vessels look darker).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What's in the letter N: Eva vs. Evan Longoria

I finally realized that these are different people. A lot of announcers seem to drop the final "n".

Eva Longoria is an actress - here's Eva's wikipedia page.
Here's a picture of her.

Evan Longoria is a baseball player - here's Evan's wikipedia page .
Here's a picture of him.
I think you'll be able to tell the difference.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Weather Satellite Images

The National Hurricane Center has links to weather imagery from space.   Here is one example - nice. Click for full size image.  Note Hurricanes Igor and Julia in the Northern Hemisphere.  And the difference in rotation sense in the Southern Hemisphere.
 Europe's Meteorological Satellite Organization (EUMETSAT)  Full Disk Image 9/15/2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Testing Blogger Movies

Testing embedded videos which are stored in google video somewhere.  They can be uploaded from the blogger control.  Here goes....

I think it worked. I made the video from a series of still jpgs.  Although Adobe Flash has slideshow capability,  I used the free windows movie maker which uses something like mpeg compression. So sequences of stills should compress pretty well. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

North Atlantic Hurricanes

It's been a hot summer and we are nearing the peak of the hurricane season.  Hurricane Earl (2010)  is headed up the Atlantic coast.   I remember driving from New York just ahead of Hurricane Floyd (1999) which dumped more that a foot of rain on New York and New England.   Floyd was downgraded to a tropical storm (see tropical cyclone scales ) from a strong Category 4 hurricane by the time it hit NY and NE.

Here's a nice false color infra-red satellite image of Earl from NOAA.

Earl is located at about 22N, 68W about 300 miles NW of San Juan, PR.
The forecast track is shown below (source National Hurricane Center, NOAA)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bizarre Whale Leap on Boat

Photo taken off Cape Town, South Africa.
A recent news story from South Africa.  A  southern right whale jumped onto a boat under sail.  An incredible photo was captured from a trailing boat.  The picure seems so well timed that it looks made up. If real, it's amazing. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My Mother's Hates and Fears

This morning we made a list. Here it is
(please note:  This is my mother's list,  not mine).
  1. Change (any kind of change)
  2. The Catholic Church
  3. Black People (kaffirs)
  4. Insects, snakes
  5. Heat waves, cold waves, snow, ice, hail, weather
  6. Air travel, air craft, anything that flies except birds
  7. Arabs, towel heads, Islam,  darkies, wogs
  8. Cheney, Palin, Jesus, Fox News
  9. Wall Street, landlords, capitalists,
  10. Mel Gibson,  o'Reilley, etc.
  11. Rap music, Rock, Pop, Michael Jackson
  12. Rev.  Al Sharpton,  Rev. Jesse Jackson
  13. Classic Phobias: claustro-, agora-, arachno-,  acro-, entomo-
  14. Foods:  pepper, chili pepper,  squid, oysters, snake, octopus
  15. Adolf Hitler (nee Schicklgruber) and all his despicable cronies
  16. Current clothing fashions - like torn schmattes (schmatte, rag)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Six Month Scans

I had my chest, pelvic and abdominal CT scans a few weeks back. Good news, no observable changes. Also, the radiologist said he does not need a followup MRI like the last several times - the stuff in my liver seems to be pretty static. Just in case, my onc asked me to come in this week for a CEA blood test. It's standard practice to do these, even though they are not that specific.

The off-shore oil well in the Gulf of Mexico continues to erupt a mile below the surface. It's been over a month - I'm not sure if the flow rate has diminished much, if at all. I doubt British Petroleum expected that much of a "gusher". In any case, it's a major disaster and I hope better regulations come out of it. I'm sure there's a way to measure the pressure in a reservoir prior to making a large hole in the earth. In this case a smaller drill hole would have been good enough.

The space shuttle program is ending this year. The last launch of the shuttle Atlantis occurred on May 14. Here is the youtube video courtesy of NasaTV.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mobile blogging

Posting this from my Android phone. It just occurred to me that this is a year of natural, and semi-natural, eruptions. The volcano in Iceland and the oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are major, and continuing, events as I swype my first mobile post.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Watch Out for Aliens

LONDON (AP) -- British astrophysicist Sir Stephen Hawking says aliens are out there, but it could be too dangerous for humans to interact with extraterrestrial life.  Hawking claims in a new documentary that intelligent alien lifeforms almost certainly exist, but warns that communicating with them could be ''too risky.''
The 68-year-old scientist says a visit by extraterrestrials to Earth would be like Christopher Columbus arriving in the Americas, ''which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans.''  He speculates most extraterrestrial life will be similar to microbes, or small animals -- but adds advanced lifeforms may be ''nomads, looking to conquer and colonize.''  The Discovery Channel said Sunday it will broadcast ''Stephen Hawking's Universe'' in Britain next month.

In a related story, the Governor of Arizona signed sweeping, and unconstitutional,  anti-alien legislation into law a few days ago.  The law allows the police to detain anyone suspected of being an illegal alien.  It makes failure to carry immigration documents a crime. Anyone who happens to look "not American" can be stopped for no reason and asked to produce identification documents. I am confident this law will be struck down at the Federal level.   Most of these so-called aliens are descendants of indigenous peoples of Central America who lived here before the Spanish showed up and "took over".   So a bit of Moctezuma's revenge is in order.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My New Smart Phone - Bad Flash Memory - Micro SDHC

My two-year mobile phone contract was up.  It was a good opportunity to try out a smart phone at about half the price of an unlocked, unsubsidized unit (I'm still keeping my old phone for voice use). I chose a T-mobile branded phone called the MyTouch 3G which is made by HTC Corporation (as the HTC Magic).  HTC has been making smart phones using the Microsoft Windows Mobile OS for almost a decade. Windows Mobile is based on the Windows CE (Consumer Electroncis) platform. With the debut of Google's Android OS  about two years ago,  HTC began making phones for several operators (T-mobile, etc.) and also for Google itself (the Nexus One ).  The Android OS is based on modified Linux Kernel.  Linux is a family of Unix-like OSes which feautre true pre-emptive multitasking, virtual memory and other features of a modern OS.  Android is available as open source under the Apache License. 
The phone uses  capacitive "touch screen" technology. There is no physical keyboard.  The "virtual' keyboard  supports tapping gestures but it's usefulness is really improved with the "Swype" input method.  Without lifting your finger, you can trace out the letters of a word - you don't have to be too accurate.  The shape of the trace is matched against stored shapes which are associated with words in a dictionary.

The MyTouch phone connects to the internet via Wi-Fi or the mobile phone network (3G, GPRS, etc.).  Since I don't have 3G service from T-mobile,  I use  Wi-Fi.  I do have voice service using a prepaid SIM, so I can make voice calls on the phone - it's not really designed for prolonged use against the ear - quite ungainly. So a headset (wired or Bluetooth wireless) is recommended.  The phone comes with a wired headset.   The phone has a GPS receiver and a electronic magnetic compass built-in. 
The phone is google centric.  Native apps include the google maps feature which uses the GPS and compass features to guide users to the results of searches - e.g  bank branches, restaurants, etc.  The google mail service, gmail, also has a native app.  But, the key application is the web browser.  This allows non-native web-based apps such as web-mail, mobile aware websites, and full web pages to be viewed and used. 

The Micro SD HC  memory card that came with it was causing error messages in reading and writing from the camera and music player apps.    Take a look at the image of real one (from the Sandisk website) and the one I have. You'll notice the "speed class" is not really a number like 2, 4 or 6 . It's kind of a reversed 3 but it looks strange. Also notice that the real one has a tiny trademark symbol next to the and above the "k" in SanDisk. 

The good one

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Community Rowing

I was riding my bike along the Charles River today and noticed the new Community Rowing boathouse. The sun lit up the building quite nicely.  Here are some pictures I snapped with my cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Shrek! - The Cartoon Ogre

Today, a clue for  21-across in the NY Times crossword puzzle is  "the creator of "Shrek!" .  Shrek is a character created by  William Steig (1907-2003)  in his children's book with an eponymous (From Ancient Greek ἐπώνυμος (epōnumos) from ἐπί (epi), “‘upon’”) + ὄνυμα (onuma), Aeolic variant of ὄνομα (onoma), “‘name’”)  title.  Shrek is an ogre.  

The name "Shrek" is derived from the German and Yiddish word "Schreck"/"Shreck", literally meaning "fear, terror.  There are several Yiddish words of German origin ending -eck.  A famous one is  dreck meaning crap or worthless.  Leck, shmeck - (Done superficially (lick, smell)).  In Yiddish, endings like -ek or -ik (which may not be of German origin) can be used as suffixes to make nouns from adjectives (and also vice versa  From Latin "the other way around", "conversely" )  similar to the English use of -ly.  (From Old English -līċ, from Proto-Germanic *-līko- (“‘having the body or form of’”), from *līkom (“‘body’”) (whence lich). Cognate with Dutch -lijk, German -lich and Swedish -lig.).

An example is  milkhik (milky),  nudnik: a pest, (from Polish nudne, boring)  zaftig or zaftik - plump (from saft-ig , juice- y) .    That's today's world play.   :)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

New Notebook PC Running Windows 7

I bought a new computer about a month ago. It's an HP Pavilion DV7t. It has several new features. A large wide screen LCD that uses white LED backlighting. These are being marketed as "LED screens" - not accurate but pithy. The older CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) backlights dimmed significantly after a year or so (lumen maintenance) and also took time to warm up. It's a 17.3" diagonal, 1600 x 900 pixels (square ones of course). So the display has a 16:9 aspect ratio. It has a swipe fingerprint reader that allows "biometric access" to the PC and websites (the danger is forgetting your passwords). The CPU is a dual core,  Intel Core(tm)  i3, 2GHz, 64-bit. Main memory is 4 Gigabytes of DDR3 (2 Dimms). The hard drive is 320 GB, 7200rpm (wow, 1/3 of a Terabye). It has a "free fall" sensor which allows the drive to park before it hits the floor - if you drop it! Ugh! Being an "Entertainment PC", it has a nice audio system with Altec-Lansing speakers (even a sub-woofer in the bottom). I am listening to Georges (originally György)Cziffra playing Beethoven's piano sonata #10,  Op. 14, No. 2 . - sounds great.  Re wireless connectivity is has built in WiFi and Bluetooth. The Synaptics touchpad (I think touchpad is a Synaptics trademark) is quite good. I have not connected a mouse yet. The touchpad has some touchscreen like capabilities - being smaller, motions and gestures are likely easier than on a large touch transparent touch screen (see below).

The PC runs Windows 7 Professional OS. I skipped Windows Vista and jumped from XP. So far, Windows 7 seems to be a nice improvement over XP. I don't like the default settings where is searches the entire hard drive for the users' content it's randomly located. But that stuff can be shut down. One nice new feature is "libraries" - these are collections of folders viewed as a single object. In the old days, the easiest way to organize things was with folder hierarchies (trees/subfolders). Now, it's possible to go "flat" and use the search tools. Whole drive encryption is available (not compatible with file encryption I think). Booting, sleeping, resuming, etc. are faster. And Windows 7 supports touch screen UI so a mouse or keyboard is not required. Touchscreen devices are becoming quite popular - smart phones to tablet PCs, book readers, etc. No physical keyboard makes stuff lighter. With better voice recognition, it's possible that the keyboard is on the way out. Still, the HP keyboard has a nice feel. And it makes me feel a tiny bit like a concert pianist. :)
You can check out some of my favorites on my YouTube channel.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bulvan - Word of The Day

English has a huge lexicon - a nice word in itself. The word lexicon definition   lexi·con (lek′si kän′)
Etymology: Gr lexikon, neut. of lexikos, of words < lexis, a saying, phrase, word < legein: see logic   noun
  1. a dictionary, esp. of an ancient language
  2. the special vocabulary of a particular author, field of study, etc.
  3. a record or inventory a notable case in the lexicon of subversion
  4. Linguis. the total stock of morphemes in a language
But actually,  today's word is  bulvan or bolvan , a Yiddish word meaning dummy. Yiddish is a very colorful language using words from German, Hebrew, Russian and several others.
It means all of these words in English, more or less at the same time:
blockhead,  bonehead, booby, bubblehead, bullhead , cabbagehead, clod [colloq.], dimwit , dolt, dope [colloq.], dummy, dunce, dunderhead [colloq.], fool, , goof [colloq.], loggerhead [colloq.], moron, nerd [sl.], nincompoop [colloq.], stupid
It's quite insulting.  Etymology: From the  Russian болван -  blockhead, booby, chump, dolt, doodle, goon, mutt  and also -  blockhead (noun), dunce, oaf, dolt, numskull, numbskull, booby, imbecile, clodpate, lubber-head , loggerhead , jolterhead , block , blockhead , berk , lunkhead , beetle-head , blunderhead , chuckle-head , chump , pudding-head , mutton-head , doodle , dope , clot , dumbbell , goof , lump , dumbhead , loghead , nerd , lardhead , prat , peahead , numbhead , jackass, cretin, pumpkin, goon , bullhead , chowderhead , woodenhead , leather-head , flat , chunk , beefhead , boob , fathead , airhead , dunderhead , pumpkin-head , blunt , pea-brain , loogan , hardhead , mutt , cheese
As you see there are many words for stupid - not as many for smart.  :) 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Akira Kurosawa - Master Film Maker

Akira Kurosawa (黒澤 明 or 黒沢 明, Kurosawa Akira, 23 March 1910 – 6 September 1998)

Akira Kurosawa Biography

An Historical Day for the USA

President Barack Obama signed the landmark health care legislation passed by the House of Representatives on Sunday night. The bill, H.R.3590, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Passed by Both House and Senate) changes the landscape of health care in the United States. The House also passed H.R.4872, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act which needs to be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President.

Health care insurance will become truly portable and not based on the "largesse" of large and small employers. Employer provided health care insurance evolved from a simple perquisite to a mechanism to maintain employee "loyalty". Also called "staff retention programs", employers provide "incentives" to employees keep them from changing jobs. In many cases, these incentives become obstacles to change not rewards for effective work. The lack of insurance portability is a large obstacle to mobility for Americans. The buying power of large employers in the health insurance market is another inequity that will be addressed. For-profit health insurance companies have incentives for weeding out expensive customers and retaining healthy ones. Their rules about "pre-existing conditions" and limits on coverage for those who fall ill while covered are all designed to maintain profitability.

At the same time, the American people have not been able to rationally discuss the limits we must place on health expenditures as a country. This is expected in the climate of fear produced by the lack of universal access to health care and the hidden decision making on costs and benefits. Costs have spiralled as quality has lagged. Huge disparities in quality of care occur based on ability to pay and argue with insurance companies. Some people are too sick to argue and simply die without making a big fuss (these are the ideal customers for insurance companies). The oft repeated mantra, that America has the best medical system, is, simply, a false myth.

This legislation stands with Social Security and Medicare in providing freedom from want and facilitating personal liberty as expressed in the 2nd sentence of the Declaration of Independence -

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

P. S. At the signing ceremony, Vice President Joe Biden's remark, quietly spoken into Obama's ear, was captured by the sensitive microphones - "...this is a big f!@#$ing deal..." I agree entirely. :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hints of Spring

The vernal equinox will arrive in about two weeks - two days after St. Patrick's day. The earliest secular celebrations of Paddy's day happened in the USA - not Ireland as you might suspect. It was in Boston in in 1737 in the form of a public parade and a show of Irish immigrant solidarity. Other early celebrations occured in Montreal in 1759 and New York in 1762. St. Patrick was not a native Irishman - he was brought there as a slave! Although homesick, he fell in love with the Emerald Isle, and tried to civilize the natives using shamrocks .

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Price for Vodka

This is the stuff of revolution - price jump for cheap vodka in Russia.

AP Fri Jan 1, 11:59 am ET
MOSCOW – The price of the cheapest vodka on the Russian market more than doubled Friday as the government set a minimum price in an effort to fight rampant alcoholism. Drinking causes an extraordinary number of deaths in Russia, where male life expectancy is about 60 years, and it contributes to an array of economic and social problems. The minimum price of 89 rubles ($3) for a half liter of vodka (17 ounces) went into effect at the start of the 12-day New Year's and Orthodox Christmas holiday, when alcohol consumption is at its highest. Russia has one of the highest levels of alcohol consumption in the world, the equivalent of 18 liters (4.8 gallons) of pure alcohol for every man, woman and child per year. President Dmitry Medvedev, who has publicly decried Russia's drinking problem and its effect on the nation's well being, has ordered a series of measures aimed at reducing sales. Past efforts to limit vodka sales, however, have led to increased production of regulated or homemade vodka, which even now is estimated to make up nearly half of all vodka consumed. A study published last year in The Lancet medical journal said drinking has caused more than half of the deaths among Russians aged 15 to 54 since the 1991 Soviet collapse

Tenth Anniversary of Surgery

It's been ten years since cancer surgery.  I have new camera. :)