VD Epoch 13

This year is the only time that VD will be coupled with the Unix epoch rolling to sequential number. Of course, the two are a few hours apart, but hey, any excuse to celebrate dorky geek trivia *and* being a more-or-less willing target for a heavily-armed, floating infant deserves a nod.

For the geek-deficient, here’s the executive overview:The epoch for Unix systems is 1/1/1970. To these systems, this date is the beginning of our current time. When you request today’s date, the create date of a file, or the last access date of a file, the system has that info stored as the number of seconds since midnight January 1, 1970. For the most part, this number is reformatted to the date style you are used to reading in your part of the world. Programmers, analysts, and administrators often use the raw number to do faster calculations of dates without t trouble of programming around things like leap years and daylight savings shenanigans. Yesterday evening, the number reached a sequential pattern. It’s like noticing that your car’s odometer has rolled to all 2’s (like mine did a few weeks ago)

Besides that, yesterday was Friday the 13th, and we have another Friday the 13th next month.
The new Friday the 13th movie was released last night. It’s supposed to be a remake of the first three in the series, so there should be lots of room for serious cheese. Hopefully, it will have some good scary, gory parts, and probably some t&a and drugs, but definitely a lotta cheese.

Oh, and on this VD, the floral industry would like to once again thank you all for creating an incredible demand for out-of-season product. They grow them artificially in greenhouses on another continent and ship them in at a premium, and them charge a premium to you. Thanks for looking out for the planet there. What if next year, everyone buys something local and in-season? Think of the transportation savings. Even more than that, think of how much fresher the flowers will be, since they won’t have spent so much of their little bloomin’ lives in a shipping crate. And you would be helping the economy in your own neighborhood.

That said, I’m going to share a non-mushy VD sentiment.
Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Well, I suppose it’s non-mushy. I didn’t actually poke at it to find out.


Today is the inauguration of Obama as the 44th president of the U.S.

I was having some discussions about the job that he’s undertaking, and wanted to put some things down.

The job is not easy, does not pay an amazing salary, and changes the life of the job holder for life.

The primary focus of today’s happenings in Washington D.C. is the transfer of office from GWB to Obama, and the main moment is when he is “sworn in”. The oath of office is really rather short:

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

That sounds very simple and easy. It sounds like what military personnel, peace officers, and any public servant of any level would be striving to do. The second half, anyway.

The “office of the president” in basic, explicit terms is this:

“The power of the executive branch is vested in the President, who also serves as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. The President appoints the Cabinet and oversees the various agencies and departments of the federal government.”

This job is the embodiment of one-third of the government of the U.S. It’s the public vision of leadership and influence of a nation. It’s very different from similar posts found in other governments, with all the facets and responsibilities.

How does daily work of the US President affect your daily life? The policy he writes, the decisions made as far as the use of the armed forces, the diplomatic agreements made… It might not be immediate, but every president has made an impact in shaping things here in our melting pot.

what’s his daily life going to look like? Here is Time Magazine’s take.

Today’s hit list

  1. Vote
  2. See results of polls
  3. Upgrade Opera on all machines to 9.62 (security patch for History and Links areas)
  4. Catch up on podcasts while waiting in line to vote
  5. Make space on DVR for new Dr Who series to start
  6. Recycle two more donated desktops to ‘net kiosks

Of course, this is all after the dawn-to-dusk work schedule and homework, bath and bedtime, as well as the sitting in the car.
Is everyone ready to make US History happen? Let’s rock!

What does *your* list look like today?

I’m soooo Rudy!

I think it has to do with the wording of the questions and possible responses, but hey, it was a fun quiz to take anyway.

First Logwatch

Tonight hailed the first subfreezing temperatures of the season, so I thought it would be a cool activity to, once I picked up the girls and got them home, build a fire in the fireplace. They were highly excited about this, and it went swimmingly.

My fireplace a regular wood-burning one. This sounds odd to say, being that it is a fireplace after all, but these days with all the options of gas-log, electric, and any number of flat- and faux- options, it seems that one should always specify.

Opening the flue, I half-expected the remains of an empty bird’s nest or something to fall into the fireplace, but instead got to get right down to the business of building the stack and lighting it up.

I also lit a series of candles along the front of the hearth, and after doing so, gave a simplified overview of both the basic workings of a fireplace (or, “why the hot comes into the room, and the smoke goes out of the chimney”), and another big idea I suppose should be titled, “Fire and fuel”. I think that the primary concepts seated rather well with them, and even if they don’t fully grasp it, they will be good primers for discussions later on when they are ready.

After dinner and some reading by the firelight, we checked homework, and after they were off to bed, I sat petting the dog as she inched her way away from the fireplace, and watching the flames lick flutteringly at the final log, thought over the “fire and fuel” discussion. I’d made a point of mentioning that ‘the flame, once started, needs two things to survive: fuel and air’. The candles bore a highly convenient witness. The flames in the fireplace were consuming oxygen and the logs. The candles were consuming oxygen and the wax (which at that time had gone completely liquid). The big idea was a discussion to remember when it comes up in a science class in the future. But knowing what the flame needs, it was also about safety, about how to put out a fire (take away either one or both of its needs), and also about life and the balance of needs. As the end of Fall impends and the beginning of winter rolls in, it turned into a very useful, seasonal dissertation.

I really did mean Fall. Not Autumn.

I bet some of you geeks saw the title of this one, and thought I was going to talk shop about some Apache logs, didn’t you? Speaking of looking at flatpanel displays for hours, remember to go outside and catch some afternoon sun while it’s still around, that way you will be less likely to be SAD.

synopsis: Pasaquan

The path to Pasaquan was, like most worthwhile journeys, elusive and tenuous. As we left the metro Atlanta area heading south, there was a severe backup of our primary route. There were signs warning of construction happening, but the backup of the freeway suggested that there was also a major accident going on. We were moving along at a glacier-like clip for quite a while, and when we got to the next possible exit, made the detour, and abandoned the carefully picked directions scribbled down the back of an envelope. Turning to the “Georgia” page of the road atlas, we quickly located a full detour route that went though several small towns, all of whom were having a Fall festival of one sort or another, like Barnesville, Thomaston, Talbotton, and Geneva. We also stumbled onto…. The Rock.

View Larger Map

That’s got to be one of the cooler names for a town ever…. The Rock, GA. There was immediate rush of “the rock” quotes, including “Can you smell what The Rock is cookin’?” and “Can’t stop The Rock!”, followed by a stream of references to rock music, Alcatraz island, and various action movies.

It took quite a bit longer to get to Pasaquan than anticipated. Once we arrived, we found that the journey was well worth it. Not only did we get to explore all of pasaquan, but there was also live music, and other folk and local artists displaying pieces as well. I got some really good pictures, shared above.

Walking around Pasaquan, Eddie Martin’s philosophy (a blending of Eastern and western thought combined with a healthy dose of both Shamanism) pervaded. Any place on the whole complex that you would look was enhanced by design: paint, hammered tin, beads, felt, carvings, statuettes… The images of people, gods, suns and moons, planetary systems, cities, flowers, and more. The magnitude of all the thought and effort instantly draws you in. The connection between human mind and nature, between ancient thought and modern thought, and between the beliefs of civilizatons all around the world seem to be fragmented in our daily lives, but at Pasaquan, one can see them all come together in jigsaw fashion, in balance, in Zen.

Yesterday was the last day of the year for Pasaquan to be open to the public until the spring. We’re already planning a return road trip. With three possible routes scribbled on sticky notes, fluttering in the wind.


Along my usual way to work, a sign popped up one day. “Kellytown Cementary,” it proclaimed, with an arrow pointing toward a small dirt trail that fed between two overgrown hedgerows. Obviously, the sign should have read “Kellytown Cemetery”, but if it did, I wouldn’t have had the solid five minutes of speculative enjoyment. Actually, when you think of it, “cementary” is really rather correct. When you go there, you just see the cement and marble markers in a field. I left for work a few minutes earlier the next day in order to be able to snap a picture, but alas, the sign had already been corrected at that point.

Speaking of roadsigns, I saw a really cool “slideshow” (as they want to cal them) at the New York Times of the changes being made in the fonts used in all of the highway and freeway signs. It was interesting to see how theywent about field-testing he readability of the new signs with a mostly retired-age sample group, and took into account the effects of the new higher-intensity roadsign materials and higher-intensity car headlights, too. Slick stuff!

If you are a collector of fonts, you should peek in Over Here to get copies of the fonts (and windings!) currently being used in roadsigns in different countries.

And as far as cemeteries, I’m sort of torn between them being a wonderful gesture, memorializing your family, providing basic genealogy information to future generations, etc, but on the other hand, there’s the real estate used, and how you see a little, very old cemetery found here and there in development projects, and they put a little fence around them, and just keep building around it… it’s like the space is respected, but not by much….

where’s the jelly?

is there really jelly in a jellybean?

let’s see…  wbdict says: a small candy made of jellied sugar, often shaped like a bean.

jellied sugar? okay.  I don’t know if Alton Brown has covered this or not.

Wikipedia has an interesting entry for them.  it includes the ingresdients area:

The basic ingredients of jelly beans include sugars, corn syrup, and food starch. Relatively minor amounts of lecithin (an emulsifier), anti-foaming agents, beeswax or carnauba wax, salt, and confectioner’s glaze are also added. The ingredients that give each bean its character are also relatively small in proportion and may vary depending on the flavor. These include natural and artificial flavors and colors, and, depending on the bean flavor, may include chocolate, coconut, fruit puree or juice, peanuts, vanilla, oils, cream, or freeze-dried egg, milk, or fruit powders.

Emulsified sugar, corn syrup, and starch, with assorted flavorings…

OK, and real jelly?

real jelly is made from real fruit.

The proper firmness of jelly and jam is achieved by mixing sugar and a thickener with fruit juice that has a high acid content, and then boiling the mixture. Pectin, a carbohydrate found in fruit, is the most commonly used thickener.  — WBO

would it be possible to create a jellybean that had actual jelly in the middle of the harder jellybean shell?

When I went to visit the lawyer the first time, he gave me a confection that was raspberry, where the center was semi-solid, maybe the consistency of the center of a gumdrop.  I keep looking for those things ever since then.  I can’t find them anywhere!