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I was born with a mind that suffers from the incurable disease of worrying precisely about what could or might have been.

Cipriano Algor


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Friday, September 23rd, 2005

23/5

Via Pharyngula:

Rules:

  1. Go into your archive.
  2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
        (Way back on May Day, 2003.)
  3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

"I ended up cutting a rabbet in the end of that piece of siding so it would fit over the end of the piece around the corner from it -- that seemed to work ok but now I need to seal it."

And, ack, I believe the end of the siding remains unsealed 2 years later...

posted afternoon of September 23rd, 2005: Respond

Moominmovie again

Sylvia and I watched the first two episodes of Moomin-Mania last night. She was crazy about it, which strangely created a bit more distance for me, than when I watched the first episode before. I am thinking the changes in the story-line make for a less interesting story than the book. But, the visuals are fantastic. And the voices are generally really good too, although there are spots where they are not quite properly synchronized with the action.

posted morning of September 23rd, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Moomins

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

Moominmovie

Last week I discovered, browsing around the internet, that an animated Moomin TV series was produced in Japan in the early 90's, and is now available on DVD! Excited, I tried ordering it (from Britain; it is not available in the US) and got a warning that it might not work with an American DVD player. Browsed around a bit and learned that DVD's have a region code printed on them, and DVD players are programmed to reject discs from the wrong region; and furthermore, that DVD players in computers generally don't have this limitation. So, I went ahead and ordered it, hoping it would work on the computer. It arrived in the mail today and indeed, I was able to watch on my computer.

This is an excellent thing. (Based on the first episode, which is all I've watched so far.) The animation is beautiful, the voices range from very good to excellent. The story is slightly modified from Finn Family Moomintroll. A movie of "Comet in Moominland" was produced in 1993; but it does not appear to be available on DVD yet.

posted evening of September 20th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Tove Jansson

Proselytizing for the Moomins

Today Sylvia took A Comet in Moominland in to school with her to show her librarian, who has not heard of the series before. (I asked her about it at the school ice cream social last week.) I wrote Mrs. Lambert a note about the book, to the effect that I thought it would be a good one to have in the school library.

posted morning of September 20th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Readings

Psyched

For two weeks I have been taking COMP W4118, Operating Systems I, at Columbia University SEAS. The first homework, which was due last Tuesday, was pretty easy though it demanded some attention. The second homework, due the day after tomorrow, was in a different class* -- I spent all weekend fretting over it and wondering if I would be able to complete it at all, let alone on time. But as the title of this post suggests, it all came together yesterday -- I finished it and handed it in early. And, when I logged on to turn it in I noticed that the due date had been extended by one week because people are having trouble with it. So, cool. The next assignment looks quite easy -- it is to write two programs using multiple threads, synchronization and IPC; which is what I have been doing at work for 8 years now.

Homework 2 was compiling a Linux kernel with an added system call, pinfo, which essentially duplicates the functionality of getpid and adds a little more information. Also compile the same function call in a Loadable Kernel Module; and write a test application; and write up the results from repeatedly running the test.

As a reward for finishing the homework I did not read my textbook on the train this morning, instead I read the current Scientific American, lots of interesting stuff. I find their "NewsScan" feature really fascinating and appreciate that it contains so many articles. The longer, more in depth articles tend to challenge my attention span.

Update: BTW, I am taking this class remotely, which means: I am watching the lectures as Windows Media files on my computer, after they have been given; I am interacting with the professor and TA's and other students via e-mail and the bulletin board set up for that purpose; and I am submitting homework over the internet using their software. (Actually all students, on-campus and remote, are using the bulletin board and the homework submission software.) I also have the option to take the tests remotely, but am thinking I will go in for them. How is it? Well it's alright. I have a bit of trouble focusing on the videotaped lectures; but I have some trouble focusing on lectures that I am present to listen to as well. Not sure if more or less trouble. And logging in to the computer lab remotely to work on my homework is extra-fun, because it means I get to learn about using an X Windows server (Red Hat's Cygwin/X) on top of Windows.


*No silly, not a different class than W4118, a different class than "pretty easy".

posted morning of September 20th, 2005: Respond

Sunday, September 18th, 2005

Our bedtime story tonight was Chapter 4 of Moominpappa at Sea. Here I am remembering what I really liked about this book last time I read it -- other than the beautiful prose -- in this chapter Moominpappa, who has previously (in this book and mostly in the others as well) seemed to me like the least complete of the major characters, alternately a petty tyrant and a bumbling goofus, starts to establish himself as someone I can really identify with.

posted evening of September 18th, 2005: Respond
➳ More posts about Sylvia

Saturday, September 17th, 2005

Our bedtime story tonight was Chapter 3 of Moominpappa at Sea. Here are a couple of nice things.

  • Moomintroll discovers a glade, which he wants to make his secret hiding-place. Unfortunately it is already inhabited by belligerent red ants. Here is Moomintroll's rationalization of why it's alright for him to seek to evict them:

    Naturally, they were living there before he had appeared on the scene. But if one lives in the ground, one just doesn't see anything of what's up above; an ant has no idea of what birds or clouds look like, or for that matter doesn't know anything about the things that are important to a Moomintroll, for instance. [Sylvia interjects here, like his tail is important to him. -- Because in the previous paragraph, the ants had bitten his tail.]

    There were many kinds of justice. According to one kind, which was a little complicated, perhaps, but absolutely fair, the glade belonged to him and not to the ants.

    I love this examination of his thinking. It goes directly to the heart of the matter, tersely poetic. There is also a reference of a sort back to the trial of Thingumy and Bob in "Finn Family Moomintroll", in which their defense was that they thought the King's Ruby was the most beautiful thing in the world, whereas the Groke only thought it was the most expensive. And that seemed pretty convincing in that case, more obviously self-serving here. (Speaking of the Groke, she is portrayed again in this book, and with more depth than before, if still as a monster.)

  • There is a picture of the sea-horse, with whom Moomintroll is going to fall in love, for the first time in the book -- she has been mentioned before but not shown. Sylvia says, "Hey that's not a seahorse! That looks like a galloping horse!" And I think, "Wow, now for the first time I understand why they call seahorses that." Because the illustration combines the curvy seahorse body with the body and legs of a horse and it looks very natural.

  • Chapter 4, which we will read tomorrow (or Monday -- tomorrow is Sylvia's birthday party and she may be too tired out afterwards to want to think about Moomins), is called "The North-easter". When Sylvia heard this she pricked up and said Chapter 3 had been called "The West Wind" and that the two chapter titles were similar. I had totally not thought of that at all -- I had forgotten the title of the chapter we were reading. So props to Sylvia for seeing something about the frame of the story.

posted evening of September 17th, 2005: Respond

Thursday, September 15th, 2005

What's the melody?

Ok I am being bugged by the desire to know what song the melody of Fair Elaine comes from. So I have written out the notes of the melody, in hopes that someone will come along and recognize them:

     D     D  F  G    A  G   F
Sweet my darling listen well
D D D F G A-C A
And sweet my darling mind ye
D C A C A-G F D
Sweet my darling when I tell you
D F A-G F D E-D
Leave the past behind ye

Update: the melody is very similar to that of Shady Grove.

posted evening of September 15th, 2005: Respond

Tuesday, September 13th, 2005

Working on a ballad

I heard a snatch of melody the other day (I was listening to The Ebony Hillbillies, playing on the sidewalk, Broadway and 78th St.) and it stuck in my head on the train ride home; so I decided to try writing a ballad. Got the first half but the second is vexing me.

Fair Elaine

Sweet my darling listen well
And sweet my darling mind ye
Sweet my darling when I tell you
Leave the past behind ye

I went down to Jansson's place
To drink my worries down
Behind the bar stood fair Elaine
In a long black satin gown

Elaine says I How came ye here
You never did look finer
But you've been lying ten long years
In a grave in Carolina

That night she said the bandits came
And where were you my Charlie
Out with your fair Irish lass
Drinking the fruit of the barley

They cut me up they cut me down
They threw me to the floor
My ghost looked back on that sad sight their foul crime
Through the open door

Clearly she should chastise him for another stanza or so and then leave, maybe after pouring him a cup of whiskey or of poison. But I'm not sure how to work this. Suggestions are welcome*. It is sounding very nice on my violin though.

Update: Here is an idea of an ending:

Then Charlie you did bury me
You never shed a tear
Neither on that day nor once
These ten long lonesome years

Now Charlie here's your barley-wine
I know you love it so
She set the cup down on the bar
I hung my head down low [or, "I cast my gaze down low"]

And slowly slowly she came out
And slow she went away
My grief is going to follow me
Until my dying day


* [pre-emptively defensive mini-rant deleted; I'd really love to hear what you think.]

posted afternoon of September 13th, 2005: Respond

Wednesday, September 7th, 2005

Fun

We've been on a real Moomintroll kick around here! We were just getting to the end of Comet in Moominland as we left for Italy; Sylvia said she wanted me to bring the next Moomin book as well. (Technically the next book in the series is Finn Family Moomintroll but I picked out Moominsummer Madness instead.) So on vacation we finished both of those -- she ate up Moominsummer Madness voraciously, multiple chapters at a sitting, and when we got to the end we spent our reading time going back and rereading favorite bits. Now that we are home we have started (and nearly finished) Finn Family Moomintroll, and Sylvia is saying she wants to hear Moominpappa at Sea next.

Tonight's reading was Chapter 6 of Finn Family, which has a special place in our relationship with the Moomins -- it is the first Moomin story I read to Sylvia and we read it together many times over the past year. When we started reading she said she had been waiting for this chapter to come. Also that she thought (correctly) that Thingumy and Bob's suitcase had the ruby in it that the Hobgoblin was after -- she knew this from looking ahead at a picture in Chapter 7 that shows the ruby, and also I guess from remembering when we read Chapter 7 -- we must have read it twice or so, but not in several months' time.

The other major reading I did on vacation was The Ancestor's Tale, which I loved and am meaning to post about soon.

posted evening of September 7th, 2005: Respond

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