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Random remarks - Paul's blog

Archive for the ‘Random remarks’ Category

PostHeaderIcon 2010

A Wonderful, Interesting, and above all Healthy New Year to all the readers of this blog.

I fully intend to make this year a GREAT year, and I’m NOT going to let me distract from that resolution by the dark, grim, gloomy day it is today.
And on that same note: the cold drizzle is not going to keep me from my traditional "Polar Bear Club" swim either, even though the pool is a MESS right now (The potted conifer, that doubled as Christmas tree this year, just fell in it).

As for New Year’s resolutions: Yes, I made a few. One involves the garage, most others are simply "nonya".
Except maybe the one about my blog: When it comes to blogs (and real life conversations for that matter) I have always been of the opinion that if you don’t have anything to say, well, then don’t!
Until now, that is. At least for my blog.
I intend to start using it more as an actual log book, mostly for myself, just to have a record of my activities, no matter how boring they are.
So expect to find WAY more postings here than in previous years, but don’t expect them to be more than a simple status update for a boring Tuesday afternoon.

As for 2010 …


I’m still unemployed, but have some interesting part-time contract work for, hopefully, another two months.
I will step up my efforts to find full time employment, but at the same time I will be looking for additional contract work.
I’m still trying to figure out what I would prefer: find an interesting full time job, or remain a contract worker, working from home, with the option to make it a business, and grow it into a company with partners and employees. With the economy coming out of a recession, this may be an excellent time to start a company and have it ride the waves up to prosperity.


We’ll be in Vegas for a few days in the 2nd half of January, where Dawnell will try to persuade some slot machines to cover the cost of the trip and where we also will meet some good friends of ours.
We had some plans to spend our vacation traveling the Californian West Coast (well.. duh! California doesn’t HAVE an East Coast), from San Diego to San Francisco.
Just the other day we started to kick around the idea to go to Germany, where Dawnell would love to see the world-famous Oberammergau Passion play, a 10-yearly event. A tradition that started in 1634! It may be followed by a side trip to “The Fatherland” and visit my army of sisters.
I’m sure more plans will be made, before we make our final decision.


Things that I’d like to accomplish but haven’t turned into resolutions to avoid disappointment and self-loathing on 12/31/2010:

  • Start (seriously and frequently) practicing and studying the piano
  • Start (seriously and frequently) practicing and studying the guitar
  • Immerse myself in Linux driver and kernel development
  • Start writing apps for Droid phones
  • There’s that one subject in math, that I never mastered and would love to master: master it!
  • Start reading Feynman’s 3 part “Lectures on Physics” (well ,‘starting’ I already did! Many times!)
  • Do the various things around the house that need to be done
  • Start writing that best-seller, and have it turn into a blockbuster movie.
  • Take more pictures for the “Picture of the Day” club. It’s not called: “Picture of the Week” club!


  • Well, here I CAN reveal some – but not all – resolutions:
  • go to a fitness club and start working out, even it it’s only once a week, or 10 minutes at a time.
  • two words: medication: discipline.

And with that …

ON to the pool!

PostHeaderIcon farcebook

Maybe it’s facebook that should update their software!

PostHeaderIcon Announcement

My long anticipated class “dealing with disappointments” has been canceled.

PostHeaderIcon A Spousal Conversation (3)

Saturday morning; my wife and her daughter are leaving the house to hit the stores.

She (in Schwarzenegger/Terminator voice): “I’ll be back.”

Me (standard response): “Then I’ll be Beethoven.”

Me (Nosy): “Where are you going?”

She: “To Sam’s and Dillards.”

Me: *The Look*

She: “We’re NOT gonna buy anything! We’re just gonna look. BYE”

1 minute later. She’s back.

She: “I forgot something.”

Me (nosy): “What did you forget?”

She: “My wallet.”

Me (insufferable smarty pants): “You don’t need a wallet if you’re not gonna buy anything!”

She (lovingly dealing with smarty-pant-ism): *smack*

PostHeaderIcon Panic

Tomorrow I’ll be headed to San Antonio, Texas, to join my wife who’s there for business, and to visit some good friends.
I know that there are rumors that the one and only true reason for my trip to San Antonio is an opportunity to raid the various local Half Price Book stores, but I, of course, have to deny these slanderous and vile rumors: the fact that I travel with a ridiculously large, yet almost empty suitcase for just four days is merely incidental.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to meeting my friends.

What I’m most certainly NOT looking forward to, is the actual flight.

I have always been fascinated by flying and airplanes.

However, ever since my maiden flight, in 1973, in an old tail dragger over the skies of that sorry excuse for a North Sea resort town, Skegness, Lincolnshire, England, flown by a seemingly deaf, blind and dumb WWI veteran, complete with stuttering engine, to the more comfortable trips in Boeing ‘Jumbo’ 747’s of such respectable companies like KLM, Quantas. Garuda en Singapore Airlines, I have been ambivalent about being the actual subject of transportation in these otherwise fascinating flying machines.

Yes, while at different times at different levels of intensity, I suffer from fear of flying.

Unlike most people with phobias, I don’t think my fear is particularly unreasonable or irrational!

Let’s face it: these things DO crash from time to time!

Sometimes I wonder about all those tens of thousands of people who, on any given day, voluntarily board an airplane.
Don’t they see the risk?

Are ALL those people of the mistaken but extremely popular opinion, that, yes, planes DO crash, but this, as by a law of nature, always happens exclusively to ‘other people’?

While this statement has been true, especially for me, so far … am I the only one who sees the fallacy in such a notion?
Don’t they see that there IS a risk that THEY will die in a crash?
True, the odds are firmly against it, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Do they simply dismiss the risk based on its low odds?

But don’t these same people buy lottery tickets, hoping to become overnight millionaires on even worse odds?

Okay, admitted, that’s maybe not a good example: the ‘bad’ outcomes of each ‘bet’ aren’t really in the same ball park: losing a few bucks by ‘not winning the lottery’ isn’t nearly as life altering as dying in a fiery plane crash.

And here I am, pondering all this, knowing full well, come tomorrow, that I’ll take a deep breath, drive to the airport, park my car, check in, buy a Scientific American, eat the traditional hot dog at the food stand between gates 123 and 125 in Terminal A, and finally board that plane… accepting my fate, “playing the odds”…

PostHeaderIcon … Another spousal conversation


… just not one of mine …

… but it certainly and easily could have been one!

The following is a quote from a book I just finished (and recommended earlier: this is how chapter 21 starts in “The Black Hole War” by the renowned theoretical (theoradical!) physicist Leonard Susskind).

I post it here, because this is a perfect example of the type of conversations my wife and I sometimes have.

One morning, when I went down to breakfast, my wife Anne, remarked that my T-shirt was on backwards; the V shape woven into the fabric was in the back. Later in the day, when I came home from a jog, she laughed and said: “Now it’s inside out.” That set me to thinking: how many ways are there to wear a T-shirt? Anne mockingly said, “That’s the sort of stupid thing you physicists are always thinking about.” Just to prove my superior cleverness, I quickly declared that there are 24 ways to wear a T-shirt. You can stick your head through any of 4 holes. That leaves 3 holes for your torso. Having picked a neck hole and a torso hole, that leaves 2 possibilities for your left arm. Once you decide where your left arm goes, there is only one choice for your  right arm. So that means 4 x 3 x 2 = 12 ways to choose from. But then you can turn the shirt inside out, giving another 12, so I proudly announced that I had solved the problem: 24 ways to wear a T-shirt. Anne was not impressed. She replied, “No, there are 25 ways. You forgot one.” Puzzled I asked, “What did I miss?” With a look that would freeze hell, she said, “You can roll it in a ball and shove it …” You get the idea 1.

1. Since writing this, Anne has discovered at least 10 more ways to wear a T-shirt.

Sometimes … you just can’t win.

PostHeaderIcon A spousal conversation

“What are you looking at?” asked my wife while she walked up behind me, looking at my computer screen.

Me: “something I absolutely NEED!!!”

She: (The look!)

I sighed, and answered “A Digitech RP250 Multi-Effects/Modeling Processor”

“What’s THAT?”, she wanted to know.

Now, HOW does one explain an RP250?

I thought about this for a while …

… do you start by explaining the ‘68 Marshall® 100 Watt Super Lead (plexi) Amp module?
or tell her about the mild-to-wild classic distortion stompbox models including TS-808, DOD® 250, ProCo Rat, Big Muff® Pi?
but then, suddenly, there is Jimi Hendrix and his Vox® Clyde McCoy Wah.
the “USB connectivity for recording, preset editing archiving and downloading and more.” is very cool, but then ..
you spot the “‘81 Mesa/Boogie®* Mark II C”
*heavy panting*

But wait! There is more!

There is the ‘65 Fender® Blackface Deluxe Reverb!
24 bit, 44.1kHz Sampling rate!
A high quality drum machine with 60 patterns.
The new AudioDNA2 ® DSP super-chip.
A 30-preset Quick Start Effects Chain Library.

And and and ….

And then there is the spousal verdict, very loud, very clear:

“If you don’t know what it is, YOU CAN’T HAVE IT!”



PostHeaderIcon It was 40 years ago to day …

Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play …  

Anyway, I promised to post here a picture of myself with long hair, if and when my bluddy Rob would post a picture of his recent, partly self-administered and self-maintained, crew cut.

He kept his side of the deal here: http://lagesse.org/the-crew-cut-photo/

So, here’s my part of the deal … (This was when I was a teenager and thought I knew it all … oh wait, I still do!).


PostHeaderIcon Airlines

I just got back from a trip to Amsterdam.

I booked my flight to Amsterdam with Northwest Airlines, the first leg (to Newark) was operated by Continental, the transatlantic leg by KLM.

Guess where my frequent flyer miles for this trip ended up.

Right! In my Delta Airlines account.

PostHeaderIcon ivreal

4real nameA New Zealand couple, who wanted to register their newborn child, has been told that their selected name for the boy ‘4real’ is against the rules: Names cannot start with a number.

Registrar-General Brian Clarke said the rules are designed to prevent names that are “likely to cause offense to a reasonable person.”

How a name that starts with a number is likely to offend a reasonable person is anyone’s guess.

Anyway, if the rule is going to be enforced, I’d like to suggest to the new parents to use Roman numerals:


(Link to story –link -)