Archive for the “Amusements” Category

Things that are amusing

Just back from Legopalooza at the Morehead Science Center where Joe Meno of BrickJournal had a simple MindStorms robot running around a table. The robot has a sonar/ultrasound/bat-like radar sensor so that when it encountered an object it would reverse course and then turn in a random direction. The fun for kids of all ages was that we had to be the objects or the robot would run off the table. [It's this one but without the camera part. So the NXT spy rover without the spying part.]
Yesterday Tucker helped build and put a second robot on the table. And today we returned with reinforcements, two other 13 year old boys, to create a third robot. One robot running around the table was amusing. Two on the table at once were hilarious. And three. That’s the right number for chaotic delight.

We left and then took the boys to WCOM where they began the Teen Spirit radio show with an in-studio interview with Django Haskins and Josh Starmer of the Old Ceremony. Django sang and played guitar while Josh played cello which led to some interesting sound engineering. The Old Ceremony is off for a couple of gigs opening for the Squirrel Nut Zippers and a trip to NYC.

Later in the show, the teens did a phone interview with electronic composer/musician Olspur who they discovered on LastFM.com.

Talk about different music and different interviews. Both went well and all seemed to have a great time. No known robots took part in the interviews.

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The North Carolina “I’d Rather Be Shaggin’” license plate. And shaggin’ video on the NC Miscellany.

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No actual ranking but a group of 10 in which RDU gets credit for Personal Ads per capita (in Geek 2 Geek), for Tech Jobs per capita (in Dice) and for Wirelessness as well as for the two World Beer Festivals each year.

SlashDot covers the story and misspells Durham! But the commenters give a shout out to ibiblio. (thanks commenters).

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Compare “Shine Raleigh Shine” to “It’s Carrboro”. The difference between uncool and cool.

On YouTube: Raleigh (removed by user) and Carrboro (22,837 views).

Press: David Menconi on “Shine Raleigh.” Ashley Perryman on “It’s Carrboro”

It’s like comparing the Bank of America guy’s “One” with the David Cross/Modest Mouse version of the same song.

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Sally points me to this NYTimes article, Trying to Clear Absinthe’s Reputation, by Harold McGee.

Basic points: High alcohol is the killer, not wormwood. But wormwood is psycho-active — so is sage with the same chemical. Czech absinthe generally sucks. If it’s not green, it’s not the real thing. If it doesn’t cloud well, it’s not the real thing. Champagne has its own secrets; unclean glasses work best for bubbles.

Framed by a Hemmingway story. Male journalists all want to be like Papa. Why?

An alert NYTimes forum member sends us to a Terra online video feature, Forbidden Fruit: The Absinthe Drinker, (about 7 1/2 minutes) in which retired neurosurgeon David Cook (who is wearing Merrell Mocs) talks about absinthe and the myths and bad science associated with it.

And Ze Frank explains the real way that champagne works.

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Why do Germans think this is funny [Dinner for One on YouTube] and why do they watch it every New Year’s Eve?

Well, Same procedure as last year?

Yes, Same procedure as every year.

Or will there be a different procedure in future years?

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Local Tech Wire and WCHL are reporting that Google is in discussions with NC Dept of Commerce about opening a Google in the Lenoir (Caldwell County) area. But the Google quote shows that it’s far from a done deal:

“We are evaluating a number of sites, including one in Lenoir, N.C., as possible locations for new technology infrastructure to support the strong and growing demand for our services,” said Barry Schnitt on behalf of Google. “We appreciate the efforts of the state and local governments to work with us through the evaluation process and hope to have additional details to announce in the coming months.”

The Local Tech Wire story also mentions a larger installation planned for the Charleston, SC area.

This post is a follow on to Fred’s post of about a week ago.

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A few minutes ago I was listening to WCOM and noticing an interesting mix of music — some modern country, some North African singing, the Byrds doing the not-often-heard “Tribal Gathering” etc. As the announcer/DJ began to go over the setlist, I was listening to hear what he had to say. The next thing I know he’s announcing a contest. The prize for the first caller is a pair of tickets to the upcoming Chris Hillman – Herb Pedersen concert at the ArtCenter.

I was the first caller. Woo! Woo! Just for paying attention while I was washing dishes.

The show was Roots Rampage and the DJ was Triangle Slim. Thanks Slim. I’m looking forward to seeing Chris Hillman.

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Book ATM?
Just did a little bit on OnDemandBooks with Janet Babin for tomorrow’s Marketplace on NPR.

My 15 seconds may be about the first “on demand books” I saw in 2001 – 2002 when Brewster was getting the Internet Bookmobile going with what looks like an early version of the same technologies.

And a little about the costs to a library of keeping and loaning books.

Then some on non-market production and market opportunities

She’s building the story starting from this Fortune Small Business/CNN story.

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About half of the Teen Spirit DJs are here at WCOM picking up an unclaimed slot. Interesting to hear the off-air chatter of 13 year olds who have become music experts in the past few months. Forget your assumptions about what they will like and what bands they will revere.
Talking Heads and REM get play but also get dissed along with the Smiths, the Ramones, and Radiohead.

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It worked out great and tasted great too. And I have some left over. I combined the ideas from several recipes to come up with:

1.5 large red onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 pound chorizo
6 medium potatoes
1 can of black eyed peas
1 large sweet red bell pepper
6 or more baby carrots
1 pound of kale
8 cups of water
enough olive oil for sauting

First finely chop the onion, crush the garlic and dice about 1/4 of the chorizo.
Saute in the large pot in olive oil til the onion is transparent.
Next add the potatoes, peeled and diced in about 1/4 inch cubes, with some of the peas and saute for about 2 minutes.
Add the water and bring to a boil then down to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Remove from heat and cool enough to puree. Puree.
Dice the carrots, pepper and the remaining chorizo.
Thinly slice or chop as finely as possible, or as I did use a food processor to shred the kale.
Return the puree to the pot and add the rest of the ingredients (peas, chorizo, pepper, carrots and kale)
Bring back to a boil and cook until the kale becomes tender and dark green — about 10 minutes.
The carrots and pepper will still have some crunch to them and will add texture and color to the soup.

The combination of greens (could have used collards) and black eyed peas will bring you wealth and good luck if eaten on New Year’s Day.

Things I learned for next time: Strip the kale for the stalks before shredding. Perhaps add spices — hot pepper, bayleaf, thyme — that I expected to get from the taste of the chorizo. Add a few of the cooked black eyed peas as garnish near the end for better visual effect. Consider a spicier chorizo to better suit the palettes of this house. Serve with corn bread. I used sourdough which was great, but good cornbread would be perfect with this.

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Had a great bowl of caldo verde at the BBQ Joint yesterday and decided that with a few tweeks that it would make a great New Years pot. So off to the last Farmer’s Market Saturday til March where I picked up locally grown taters, kale, onions, and locally made chorizo to which I’ll add black-eyed peas, sweet pepper and carrots.

Perfect Portugal meets Eastern NC for the New Year.

Will report back later.

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Fred asks if Google really has a Chapel Hill office. Off the blog, there rumor is stronger and based on pizza at the Computer Science department amongst other reliable markers that cannot be linked to.

Have you been to their office? Have you played pinball there? Let Fred know.

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A little over 20 years ago, I saw an Italian movie in Italian called “Il Quartetto Basileus.” I remember the incredible music of the quartet and the passion brought to the music and to the quartet by the young and destructively life engaging new member.

Tonight I saw the movie again. I was entranced by the lighting and by the music again. But the story now that I am the same age as the older members of the quartet who had been together for 30 years to the exclusion of all else. I saw the movie more vividly. The movie is the tale of change in age and of the attraction to life that might be lived on the brink by those who have postponed or avoided joy and risk. Each of the older members of the quartet reacts differently to the young prodigy that has joined them after their original violinist dies. Is the movie life affirming? That I could not say. It is poignant and touching and reflecting life and the costs of avoiding it or postponing it.

Not on Netflix.

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Cleaning up year end things in the office and listening to the variety of seasonal songs that Roger McGuinn has been sharing over the years on his Folk Den. This year it’s Joy to the World.

One of my favorites is Roger’s version of the Longfellow poem “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” which seems appropriate these days. Interestingly Roger recorded this on December 1, 2001.

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Kirk Ross of the Cape Fear Mercury posts these great pictures of Dionaea muscipula Ellis (Venus flytrap) and Gentiana autumnalis L. (pine barren gentian).

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An exchange of notes with my editor goes like this:

She: [other poet] sent me a christmas poem, so i’d like to run yours on new years eve. okay?
Me: You mean it’s more joyful than mine?
She: Not necessarily. [other poet]‘s is more Christmasy.
Me: More Christmasy that a contingent and contextual look at the compromises we make to achieve joy?
She: [other poet]‘s has a star in it.
Me: if i add a star somewhere in my poem can i be the christmas poem? i already have birds and a tree.
She: yours will be the perfect poem to greet the new year.
Me: What if someone shows up with a poem with party hats and champagne in it, will I get bumped again?
She: hmm. well .. let me think about that.
Me: Wait! Wait! I’m rewriting now. Mine will have a party hat. And it will have a very large acorn.
She: ok! you’re secured!

Such are the battles of literature.

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The folks here in the lab aka ibiblio.org socked it to me for Christmas. Kristina delivered the goods and took this picture.

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Annoyatron

An otherwise distinguished colleague brought his new toy into the ibiblio office today. It wasn’t very big and it easily took up residence hidden in the ibiblio cubeless cube frames. It was annoying and amusing tho.

What it was was an annoyatron.

How do you use it?

Three easy steps:

  1. Turn on.
  2. Hide it.
  3. Muahahaha…

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Gary Birdsong - Nov 2005
“And no birds sang” as Keats ended his poem, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci.” But in this case, the silence befell our favorite pitpreacher, Gary Birdsong as he tried to take his redemption show on the road to the general public.

Gary has been preaching hell fire and damnation at UNC and other campuses or well over a decade that I can recall. But once he started up on Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street in front of the Wake County Courthouse, he upset the gentile dinners at Yancey’s Juke Joint who called the police.

Ryan Teague Beckwith has the story on his News and Observer blog.


The people at UNC-Asheville aren’t nice to Gary either.[YouTube]

We ibiblians have some nice pictures of a slightly younger and less hairy Gary in classic poses.

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