Thursday, October 30, 2008

amazon mystery

Last time I visited the library, I borrowed a book from the new arrivals section.

I tried to read it today, and it was horrible. I kept cringing from the writing and the unbelievable characters. I stopped after twenty pages.

Yet this book averages four stars on Amazon! How can this be? One review says:

"This book could have been alot better if it shaved off about 250 pages.

I wasn't too pleased with this one."

Yet the reviewer still gave three stars! I've lost some faith in Amazon reviews after this. Perhaps the author somehow tapped into a readership who is eager to please and reluctant to criticize.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

gallows humor

This "Overheard in New York" installment is funny:

Hobo on subway to man in suit: Spare change? Anyone? Spare change for the homeless? You look like you worked for Lehman Brothers, you're excused.

--51st St

Friday, October 24, 2008

why are so many songs about love?

I was switching between radio stations yesterday, and every station was playing a love song. Half the songs are about how great it feels to be in love, and the other half are about the sorrows of losing that love.

How did it become a social standard that pop songs are all about love? I suppose the experience is more universal, as opposed to politics, where any song will alienate a portion of the population. Or songs about a particular line of work, which would bore people from other professions. Love appeals to all ages, from teenagers to seniors.

Regardless, there are so many other facets to life. Why aren't there more songs along the lines of "I'm worried about the health of my grandparents" or "I love my job" or "The global gloom-and-doom is a difficult thing"?

Friday, October 17, 2008

germans being funny

In the Google Munich office. I'm temporarily sitting in an office with two German engineers.

Me: [dialing a number into the phone] "Hello? Oh, I'm sorry. I got the wrong number."

Munich Googler #1: [overhearing] "Did you dial 7 to get to an outside line?"

Me: "Yes, but it didn't work. I'm trying to call this number: 4916..."

Munich Googler #1: "Replace 49 with 0. You are in Germany, so you don't need the top-level namespace."

Munich Googler #2: "Why don't you just say 'Don't dial the country code' like a normal person?"

Munich Googler #1: [confidently] "This is more understandable."

I thought it was cute.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sarah Palin song

This is funny.

Also it's sweet how the woman keeps looking over at the guy.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I'm in Europe this week, and I miss my friends back home. Luckily there is gmail-integrated IM.

Pellinore: also, i've been very sick.
niniane: awwww, i'm sorry that you're sick.
Pellinore: i am going to the hospital on tues for a lot of tests
niniane: what kind of illness?
niniane: what symptoms?
Pellinore: it's a long story... but something is wrong with my GI track... nobody really knows why
Pellinore: so they need to go in and take a look...
Pellinore: they're going to send in little cameras for one or both endpoints (that's what they call it)!!
Pellinore: i need to drink this shit tomorrow to completely clear my system for my tests on tuesday
niniane: endpoints! wow
niniane: what color is the drink?
niniane: how long have you been ill like this?
Pellinore: last week, i went to this new dermatologist about 3 random skin problems
Pellinore: he gave me an antibiotic... these pills were awful. they made me so so so sick
niniane: so this is a reaction to the pills?
Pellinore: yeah, that's the frustrating part
Pellinore: i'm not very good at listening to doctors...
niniane: it's because you rebel against authority :)
Pellinore: my grandfather's brothers were all doctors... growing up, i remember hearing them talk about things over dinner all the time and i always thought they were like car mechanics... or like us... just putting useless print statements to see what's going on...
niniane: yeah, why did you take the antibiotics then? :)
Pellinore: i thought i should try it.
Pellinore: i made the mistake of listening
Pellinore: and now i'm making a bigger mistake by letting them put cameras up and down my endpoints
Pellinore: what if the two cameras crash into each other!
Pellinore: what if they form a knot and they can't get them out!
Pellinore: i hope they're doing this one at a time.
niniane: why do they need to do two cameras
niniane: i guess it depends on the direction it's pointed
niniane: i hope they don't just wash it and use it in the other direction
Pellinore: :)
Pellinore: thanks for listening to my story
niniane: oh, it was great.
niniane: the endpoints, and camera collisions
niniane: it was just like work

Thursday, October 09, 2008

photos of hotness

Omst took our mutual friend Lauren to the Google vegetable garden. When his back was turned, she picked a pepper.

Five of us (including Omst and Lauren) were scheduled to meet for dinner. Lauren decided that if anyone was late, their penalty was to eat the pepper.

Dan was late. Here he is, holding his punishment.

This is a video of him eating it.

On the subject of food pictures, I'm now addicted to yogurt. Fresh yogurt, not the cannister type. Last week, I had yogurt four days in a row, at Fraiche Yogurt in Palo Alto.

You cannot actually see the yogurt here, since it's covered with pineapple and dark chocolate shavings. But it's very good.

Another novelty food item I recently ate was winter melon soup, inside a big winter melon. In chinese fashion, the saran wrap was not removed from the melon. Have you ever gone to a chinese person's house and noticed that they kept the protective covering on their chairs or remote control? We're like that.

By the way, if you were wondering about the title of the post, it's because the pepper was hot.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

i'll recreate encountering Gates McFadden in the Google bathroom

I am very excited today to see this article: Scientist: Holographic television to become reality:

Picture this: you've sat down for the Football World Cup final, or a long-awaited sequel to the "Sex and the City" movie and you're watching all the action unfold in 3-D on your coffee table.

The reason for renewed optimism in three-dimensional technology is a breakthrough in rewritable and erasable holographic systems made earlier this year by researchers at the University of Arizona.

I don't care about watching TV in 3-d. That's boring. But if we can get high-res 3-d projections, then we can write AI and get closer to making the Star Trek holodeck!

I will not have walked this earth in vain, if one day I can make software that emulates the Star Trek holodeck.

It might not happen until I'm seventy years old, and the touch aspect won't work and my holodecks would be immediately overtaken by porn. But I would still be happy.

This part of the article makes me skeptical:

The researchers produced displays that can be erased and rewritten in a matter of minutes.

To create television sets the images would need to be changing multiple times each second -- but Peyghambarian is very optimistic this can happen.

"It took us a while to make that first breakthrough, but as soon as you have the first element of it working the rest often comes more rapidly," he said. "What we are doing now is trying to make the model better. What we showed is just one color, what we are doing now is trying to use three colors. The original display was four inches by four inches and now we're going for something at least as big as a computer screen."

There are no more great barriers to overcome now, he said.

Really? Projecting a single color a few times per hour is not much harder than a high-resolution model at 24 frames per second? I guess if you say so...

Oh, and the best part: If we can have 3-d projections from a portable source which emanates audio, then...

holographic miniature pig

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Alipé sent me this link for New Virtual Earth with 3D Clouds.

Seeing my clouds in this video was like seeing an old friend.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

overheard at dinner

Walking out from dinner on Monday, Dan and I passed a young couple.

Dan: "That was an interesting sentence to overhear."

Me: "What was it? I wasn't paying attention."

Dan: "She said, 'Don't just tell me, 'Do whatever you want.''"

Me: "So they were arguing?"

Dan: "Yeah. He thinks he's being flexible, by agreeing to whatever she wants to do. But what she really wants is for him to be an emotional participant in the latest crisis of the moment. A crisis that she probably manufactured in order to get a reaction from him."

Me: "That's quite the analysis."

Dan: [noises of humility]

Me: "We can be momentarily smug that each of us is not embroiled in this type of argument. For two months."

Dan: "Until those exact words are said to us?"

Me: "Right."

Dan: "In your case, you'd be the one saying them."