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So I was reading news stories this morning and ran across the following, regarding multiple copies of the Magna Carta that are going on display.
"These three 1217 charters are a unique historical collection," said librarian Sarah Thomas. "No other institution can boast such a concentration of Magna Cartae."
Now there's a plural you don't see very often! It didn't seem quite right, though. I've never formally studied Latin, but I am a bit of a language dilettante and I thought I remembered something about adjective and noun agreement. A quick Googling confirmed that the preferred plural should be Magnae Cartae. If you want to be really snooty, you could even write Magnæ Cartæ, though my brief research suggests that Classical Latin really didn't use the ligature and that it was more of a mediæval affectation.

My search also turned up this great article, titled What is the plural of "penis"?, which gives a "brief" synopsis of Latin plurals. I'll freely admit that I occasionally like to use Latin plurals for sort of a faux highbrow (and hopefully humorous) effect. I'll even use pseudo-Latin plurals if I'm confident that my audience is in on the joke.
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I saw this news story today about how somebody has patented a cordless jump-rope. It reminded me of invisible jump-rope, which I haven't done in a while. I should do that more often.
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The first documented "Me too" post on USENET was made on Feb 1, 1983 by a guy named Leroy Casterline.

Helicopter is constructed from the Greek helico (spiral) + pter (wing), but of course has been redeconstructed into heli + copter.

Ben Edlund, creator of The Tick, wrote the "Jaynestown" episode of Firefly and co-wrote the episode "Trash". He was also one of the producers for the series.

Milky Way was the first filled candy bar, created in 1923.

The voice of Jack in the Jack in the Box commercials is provided by ad campaign creator and director Dick Sittig, who in a brilliant stroke of autonepotism hired himself for the role.

The word "blurb" was coined by Gelett Burgess, author of the poem "Purple Cow", in 1907 when he attributed the endorsement on one of his books to Miss Belinda Blurb.

Phil Hartman designed the Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young logo while working as a graphic artist before making it big in comedy.

October 5th is the most common birthday in the United States.

Christopher Guest played guitar as Nigel Tufnel on the 1979 album Lenny and Squiggy present Lenny and the Squigtones (which of course featured Michael McKean as Lenny), five years before the 1984 release of This is Spinal Tap.

The cooling mouthfeel of dextrose (think powdered donuts, which typically use powdered dextrose) is caused by its negative heat of solution, around -105.5 J/g at 25 °C.

Comedian/actor Patton Oswalt and I wear the same size shoes (7).

Laurence Olivier and Roberto Benigni are the only two actors who have directed themselves in Oscar winning performances.

The Orbital song "Halcyon" (and presumably the derived "Halycon + on + on", one of my all-time favorite trip songs) is a tribute to the benzodiazepine Halcion (Triazolam).

The polo shirt was originally known as the tennis shirt and was invented by then French tennis star and soon-to-be clothing magnate René Lacoste around 1926. It was introduced commercially in 1929 and is considered the first piece of performance sports clothing and the first example of a brand logo (from Lacoste's nickname "Le Crocodile") appearing on the outside of clothing.

Wendy's founder Dave Thomas invented the Kentucky Fried Chicken rotating bucket-of-chicken sign.
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Last night I dreamt of Zankou Chicken. Mmmm... Zankou Chicken.


Nov. 8th, 2005 04:18 pm
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A man took me aside and showed me an exquisite flower growing from a hairline crack in a thick bed of poured concrete. "There's a lesson to be learned here," he said, "large slabs of concrete should be sectioned with asphalt expansion seams."
                -- Milkman Dan

(I plucked this quote from a Usenet newsgroup, which is a fairly common culling ground for me. However, my usual attempt to verify quotes through primary sources was stymied by the fact that it is not so easy to search online for graphical text.)


Nov. 3rd, 2005 03:04 pm
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I voted last night. I really love being a permanent absentee voter as it fits my temperament perfectly. In fact, I first voted absentee as a senior in high school and I've never even been to a polling place.

After reading through the ballot measures, I was curious what the various political parties had to say. So I went to the California websites for the Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians (my registered party) and read through their positions/arguments. Unsurprisingly, the Democrats and Republicans disagreed on every proposition. The Libertarians agreed with the Republicans on six measures, agreed with the Democrats on one measure, and abstained from one measure. In this particular election, I sided more often with the Democrats, which I kind of consider my backup party.
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Not terribly surprising, though there were a couple of questions where none of the answers matched my reality. Taking this test reminded me of Robert MacNeil and William Cran's Do You Speak American? or at least of the PBS miniseries version of it, which I enjoyed.

Your Linguistic Profile:

75% General American English

10% Yankee

5% Dixie

5% Upper Midwestern

0% Midwestern

First Check

Oct. 8th, 2005 05:50 pm
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The very first bank check I ever wrote was to El Corral Bookstore for $211.53 on September 11, 1990. This doen't surprise me in any way, but it does amuse me a little. I flipped through an old check book register today, and I don't know which was worse back then, my handwriting or my accounting practices.

Fire Truck

Oct. 7th, 2005 11:12 am
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Wow. I work on Marsh Street, about a half block from Santa Rosa. My coworker Holly and I had just stepped outside our office to visit the large spider that lives there when we heard a siren, followed by a LOUD crash, followed by a stuck car horn. We looked down the road, and a fire truck had just hit a car at the intersection of Santa Rosa and Marsh. We walked down there to gawk and got the story from the driver who was in the car just ahead of the one that was hit.

The car was driving down Marsh Street and the fire truck was going southeast on Santa Rosa. The driver apparently didn't hear the siren, entered the intersection on a green light, and was T-boned by the fire truck on the driver's side a little behind the driver's door. The car got slammed pretty hard and ended up facing northwest on Santa Rosa, while the fire truck spun about 130 degrees. We watched them take the passenger out the car, and she seemed shaken but OK. The driver, though, I'm not so sure about. An ambulance showed up about a minute after the crash and they were still working on extricating the driver when we left.
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I didn't really intend to do this meme, but when I put my name in I really liked the selection of my interests that it chose.

Interests )
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This time from the Associated Press!
At one point Friday, the evacuation was interrupted briefly when school buses rolled up so some 700 guests and employees from the Hyatt Hotel could move to the head of the evacuation line — much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the stinking Superdome since last Sunday.

"How does this work? They (are) clean, they are dry, they get out ahead of us?" exclaimed Howard Blue, 22, who tried to get in their line. The National Guard blocked him as other guardsmen helped the well-dressed guests with their luggage.

The 700 had been trapped in the hotel, next to the Superdome, but conditions were considerably cleaner, even without running water, than the unsanitary crush inside the dome. The Hyatt was severely damaged by the storm. Every pane of glass on the riverside wall was blown out.

Mayor Ray Nagin has used the hotel as a base since it is across the street from city hall, and there were reports the hotel was cleared with priority to make room for police, firefighters and other officials.


Sep. 2nd, 2005 05:08 pm
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So I heard news of my friend Molly, the one in New Orleans. She is OK, but she is indeed stuck in New Orleans. She is in the hotel where she works, next to the Superdome, watching the unfolding chaos from the relative safety of a hotel room. She has food and drinking water, though the sewer system is down and I'm unsure about electricity. Her group is scheduled to be evacuated sometime after they finish the Superdome, and she has no idea where she will end up.

I haven't actually spoken to her myself; this news comes from her mom. She gave us the phone number to reach Molly there, but I haven't been able to get through.


Aug. 31st, 2005 11:25 am
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Having just been to New Orleans about six months ago, it is weird to see all the scenes of hurricane destruction; it adds a concreteness that I usually find lacking in most natural disasters. The very same streets that were awash with alcohol and Mardi Gras revelers are now inundated with murky floodwaters and looters.

Of course, making it even more concrete is that I haven't heard from my good friend Molly, who lives there. I'm assuming that she evacuated, but she is an anti-authority hippy type with unreliable transportation, so she might not have gotten out in time. She doesn't have a cell phone and attempts to call her landline just give an expected "All circuits are busy". She lives about 10 miles west of New Orleans proper, but works in the hotel that is connected to the Superdome, so there is a chance that she is in that group. It looks like the current plan is to move those people to the Huston Astrodome.

I checked a couple of hurricane blogs and it looks like her suburb fared better than a lot of places. I'm obviously relieved that the storm weakened and veered a little east before it hit. Now to wait.
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So I'm finishing up my third week back at work after three months of unemployment, and I feel like crap. That's OK, I knew that it was going to be a rough transition and I already feel myself starting to level off. I still have the general feeling that I'm about to pull a George Jetson on the treadmill of modern life, but I can't really pinpoint anything specific, so I'll just chalk it up to angst.

Somewhere between all the heavy lifting during the office move and the ergonomic challenges of new office furniture, I managed to pinch my right-hand ulnar nerve where it exits the neck, resulting in lots of numbness and tingling in my ring/pinky fingers along with neck/shoulder stiffness.

It is much better than a week ago, but it hasn't been helping my already fractured sleeping habits. I've never been good at sticking to a schedule, so when I felt myself slipping I instinctively (and foolishly) turned to caffeine and sugar. It helped in the short term but of course caused a rebound effect that left me pretty wiped. Now I'm back to my standard two cups of tea of day and feeling relatively normal.

Unemployment was bliss, my only real concern a relative lack of funds. Each day consisted of sleeping late, having a leisurely breakfast, and then working on whatever personal goals suited my whim du jour. Largely these consisted of exercise, music, organization and cleaning, and hot baths.

One of my largest undertakings was to completely do a software revamp of my aging computer. I'll spare the gore, but it roughly consisted of backing up, reformatting, reinstalling the OS, reinstalling and configuring all my applications, going through every single backed up file and deciding what to restore and how to organize it, then doing a full backup of the fresh system. I did this first to the WinXP side (which was starting to show clear signs of Microsoft rot), then to the Linux side (which was too ancient to be useful as a toy). I also took the time to reorganize my online life: updating accounts, deleting unused accounts, changing email addresses, and implementing a new password scheme. This took a lot of time and effort, and it amuses me to think that all I really did was twiddle a bunch of bits.

Sadly, I didn't play my banjo nearly as much as I had hoped during my unemployment, but I did get in a lot of singing practice. I've been taking singing lessons since last July and it has been quite a learning experience. While I've always been involved in music, I really didn't sing much past the age of six, when I realized people were listening.

I have two goals in taking singing lessons. The first is to become a better singer, that is, to learn to play the instrument that is myself. This has been very interesting for a visual learner like me because the vocal apparatus is internal and largely hidden from sight, in contrast to most other instruments where you can at least see some of what you are doing. My other goal is to become a better musician by honing my internalizations of musical concepts through exercising them in a new medium. I feel these are both coming along nicely.

The last two months have been particularly fruitful, as I've been working on my first song in Italian, a piece from Giulio Caccini's Le nuove musiche (1601). Singing in a language you don't know allows you to focus on the sound and not get caught up in the words so much, though I have read both literal and figurative translations of the song. Italian is a great language for singing, in part due to its legato and vowel-centric nature, and singing it has made me a better singer. Plus learning how to pronounce Italian could come in handy in restaurants!

One of the things on my list that I clearly did not accomplish during my unemployment was to write here. In particular, I wanted to write about the trip that [ profile] elsparquito and I took to New Orleans during Mardi Gras while it was still mint-julepy fresh in my mind, but my slack got the best of me. I do still intend to write it, and I'm hoping that Sparky's digital photo archive of the trip will help me restore the necessary mental vividness.
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Oh yeah, and Happy Cinco de Mayo too, which is not Mexican Independence Day but rather a commemoration of when the Mexicans defeated the French (of Napoleon III) at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Coincidentally, May 5 is also the death date of Napoleon I, who died in 1821.
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Just a quick announcement for those of you who know Nils Brummond. He and Tina are getting married this afternoon in a small, family-only ceremony and then are off to New Orleans to catch a cruise ship.


Apr. 29th, 2005 08:11 pm
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I can't believe I haven't freakin' posted since January!
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I just haven't been able to get myself to post anything recently, but this one was too good to pass up.

Post 15 facts about yourself, but five of them have to be made up. Everyone then guesses which are the untrue ones. Then, post this on your journal and see if I can guess which ones you're bluffing about!

1. I have never seen any of The Godfather movies.

2. I am related to country singer Hank Williams.

3. As a child, I won a bicycle in a church contest to see who could bring the most guests.

4. I was acquitted of sexual harassment while at Cal Poly.

5. I was robbed on the subway in Seoul, South Korea.

6. I have never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

7. I can juggle.

8. I worked on a committee in Washington DC to help provide Emergency 911 service to the deaf community.

9. At a previous job, I organized and ran a racquetball ladder.

10. I have ridden in the Goodyear blimp.

11. I was a founding member of my Junior High School's Toastmasters club.

12. I worked for the operators of the opposition newspaper on the Caribbean island of Antigua.

13. I was president of my High School French club.

14. I have been curling at a curling club in Montreal, Québec.

15. I am "allergic" to the class of drugs that includes the anti-psychotic thorazine.


Dec. 15th, 2004 12:00 pm
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On the occasion of my birthday tomorrow, a few of us are stopping by Spike's around 7pm for a few beers. Anyone who wants to stop by is quite welcome. Spike's is under new ownership (again) and is still in the partial remodeling stage. They have also re-expanded the food menu, though when I was there the kitchen was closed for installation of new equipment.
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You scored as Chaotic Good. A Chaotic Good person is someone who has little intrinsic respect for laws or authority, seeing them as insufficient to sustain what's right. These people work according to their own moral compass which, while good, is not necessarily always aligned with that of society. Despite their chaotic tendancies, these people are good at heart.


Chaotic Good


True Neutral


Chaotic Neutral


Lawful Good


Neutral Good


Neutral Evil


Lawful Evil


Chaotic Evil


Lawful Neutral


What is your Alignment?
created with

Seems fairly accurate, at least to my mental image of myself. It is interesting to look at everyone's full slate of scores and note the trends.
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