March 06, 2008

On The Passing of Gary Gygax

I read of the death of Gary Gygax many places, but The Order of the Stick has the best tribute I've seen so far.

I've been transcribing some old journals and writings of mine recently. Just tonight, I ran across this entry from November 1982, and thought it appropriate for the occasion:

I Know...

I know a dwarf. His name is Ixthos. I know a man. His name is Peldar. I know another man. His name is Ralt Gaither. I know yet another man, but he doesn’t have a name. I know a pegasus. His name is Ariel. I know an animated box. His name is Tavtos. I know three horses. They don’t have names.

I met all of them once while strolling through a hilly, rolling countryside. There were towns, people, good ale, and warm beds. But not all things were so good. Aye, there were dangers--dragons, orcs, goblins, and worse still.

There were swords, sorcerers, monsters, friendly yet stupid barkeeps, beautiful wenches, blue skies, and projects which needed doing. Yes, projects which needed doing such as killing hydras, riding dragons, finding treasures, and cleaving orc heads.

I met them all on a Sunday at 12:00PM and left them at 5:00PM, promising to be back at the same place at the same time within the next few weeks. Yes, I know them all. They come from the realms of my imagination.

His creations brought me weeks, nay, months of fun during some critical times of my life. RIP.

Posted by JohnL at 10:53 PM | Comments (3) |
February 14, 2008

Addicting Timewaster

Found via Utterly Boring:

Chain Factor.

Posted by JohnL at 08:40 PM | Comments (1) |
January 07, 2008

The 3 Laws of Robotics, Revised

Warren Ellis has a humorous revision and restatement of the famous three laws of robotics.

Via Gravity Lens.

Posted by JohnL at 09:44 AM | Comments (1) |
December 12, 2006

Christmas Questions

Filler for a semi-dormant blog (found via Not Exactly Rocket Science):

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Neither. He leaves them, unwrapped, by and on the fireplace and in the stockings.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White on the tree; red-green-white on the house and down the sidewalks.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Sometimes. Rarely.

5. When do you put your decorations up? The day after Thanksgiving for the tree and house decorations; by the end of Thanksgiving weekend for the outdoor lights (I've done them in the rain, in the freezing cold, and this year in the 75+ degree sunlight).

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Jackie's Chex Mix.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child: Any given ski trip in Colorado during Junior High and High School with my church's youth group.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I was a gullible one - fourth or fifth grade. I learned it from an older child in the neighborhood.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Not normally.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? We started with a small Charlie Brown-type tree the first Christmas after we got married just buying one ornament a year for each other. Other friends and family learned and would give us ornaments, and now "Santa" gets an ornament for everyone. Aside from the star, these ornaments are the sole decoration for the tree (which at 9 feet tall is now literally covered with happy memories). My wife plans to give the kids their ornaments when they move out, so they have some "seed" ornaments for their respective trees.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Love it. Wish we had more of it here, where the weather's just ridiculously warm and sunny.

12. Can you ice skate? Barely.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? This one's a toss-up. In 1983, my parents got me Enzo Angelucci's Fourth Edition (1983) of The Rand McNally Encyclopedia Of Military Aircraft, 1914-1980. I still have it, and have made good use of it to research some of the features here on my blog. They also kindly gave me my first keyboard, Christmas 1985, a Korg DW-8000 that is still in decent working order.

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Time with family listening to and singing the traditional music.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? My mom's fudge.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Our Christmas ornament tradition described above.

17. What tops your tree? A sturdy, clear plastic (looks like crystal) star that we got from the Hecht's in Arlington, VA in Christmas 1991, our first Christmas together.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Since I got married, and especially after having kids -- giving.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? Not just one. For sacred carols, it's a toss-up between O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Carol of the Bells. For secular carols, I like Nat King Cole's version of his Christmas Song and Ray Charles' version of Winter Wonderland.

20. Candy canes: Bleh. I don't like hard candy much.

21. Favorite Christmas movie? It's A Wonderful Life.

22. What do you leave for Santa? Chocolate chip cookies or fudge and a glass of milk.

Update: On the off chance they still read here, I think I'll tag Robbo, Ted, Buckethead, Kyle, and Lynn with this "meme."

Posted by JohnL at 06:54 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack
August 14, 2006

Legacy of Heorot For the Xbox?

Saw this at Jerry Pournelle's place a couple weeks ago: apparently Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle recently had lunch with some folks from Bungie.

If you're not a gamer AND a science fiction geek, you're probably wondering about the significance of this. Well, Larry Niven is the SF author who dreamed up and described a "ringworld" in his suitably-named, bestselling, and [Hugo and Nebula] award-winning novel. And Bungie is the software company that developed one of the greatest first-person-shooters of all time, Halo, which takes place on the surface of a ringworld.

What I wouldn't have given to be a fly on the wall at that lunch. Geek heaven.

The really cool scoop? Pournelle relates that he and Niven were talking about stories of theirs that could be adapted by Bungie for new games, especially The Legacy of Heorot. Back in college, a buddy of mine who was into film (he makes videos for a living now) thought that Heorot was a natural for adaptation to the big screen. I strongly agree. But if it can't be a movie, I would love to see it come to life in a video game medium. The rich interactivity of a well-designed game brings many more hours of entertainment to me than all but a very few movies and TV shows.

Pournelle touched on this interactivity in Halo with Bungie:

One interesting item: I wondered why, when the Skipper gave the Master Chief his pistol, he said it was unloaded.

They pointed out that I didn't know gamers. Give the gamer a loaded pistol and he'll shoot the commander. Give the commander bodyguards, and the gamers will start with the bodyguards. It gets more and more complex; easier to simply make the hero leave the room and close the door behind him before he can find any ammunition. Interesting. But I still don't find it very realistic that the commander would carry an unloaded pistol. Ah well.

The funny thing is, at that scene in Halo, if you go back and kill the skipper, the Marines will storm the bridge, lock you in and attack you until you die. The Marines become invincible. It's kind of fun in a twisted way to see how long you can last.

In any case, I hope this project is made. I'm holding off on the purchase of an Xbox 360 until Halo 3 ships, but if this came out before then, I would upgrade in an instant.

Posted by JohnL at 09:52 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
May 01, 2006

59 Things

Via fellow Texan, Rightwingsparkle, here are some of the 59 things a man over 30 shouldn't do. The complete list of 59 is here.

I just recently turned 38, and have bolded the ones that I have, in fact, done:

Not bad, I guess.

Posted by JohnL at 08:50 PM | Comments (3) | | TrackBack
March 21, 2006

Cool Juggling Routine

Check out this very cool video making the rounds on the Internet in which comedian Chris Bliss closes his routine juggling to the strains of the Beatles' "The End" (one of my favorite Beatles songs):

Here's the story behind the routine.

Some excerpts to whet your appetite:

First I discover my art, and now I have found my soulmate. Could the signs be any clearer? Oh, sure, a more objective view might be that I'd dropped out of college to be a juggler, and been picked up by a crazy woman in a bar. On dimer night.
Within six months the band broke up. I should've seen it coming the night the flute player asked me to help tie him off. If the woodwinds are shooting smack, you can imagine the bass player's problems.
The only part of the whole ride not based in delusion was, of all things, my juggling. It turned out I'd stumbled onto a concert promoter's dream opening act. No set-up or sound check, and if they threw things at the stage, I'd catch them.

I worked with Kenny Loggins, Duran Duran a couple times. I opened for Clapton once. I did an arena tour with the so-called supergroup Asia.

I was even on the Midnight Special on NBC - remember that show, with Wolfman Jack? I still remember the Wolfman's intro - "Whoever said a picture was worth a thousand words was talking about Chris y'know."

And then in 1984, unbelievably, I was asked to be the opening act for Michael Jackson and his brothers on the Victory Tour, the most hyped tour of the decade.

Between me and Michael, we sold over 3 million tickets. And when it was over, I'd actually become the world's most famous juggler.

Funny guy. And I like the musicality of his juggling.

Posted by JohnL at 09:10 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack
January 25, 2006

Serenity Legos

Two of my favorite things: Legos and the Firefly 'verse.

Check out this picture of the Serenity's drive lit from within.

Posted by JohnL at 10:35 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack
January 18, 2006

Another Neat Optical Illusion

Check out this optical illusion.

I'm always amazed at these tricks, which take advantage of some aspect of the brain's hard-wiring.

(Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg).

Posted by JohnL at 08:49 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack
January 16, 2006

Mein Echtes Hauptfach

You scored as Linguistics. You should be a Linguistics major!





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with

This quiz is astoundingly accurate. If there were a living to be made in linguistics, that's where I would still be. I actually went to UT planning to double-major in computer science and linguistics, with the goal of developing a real AI that could understand and use human language. I was possibly smart enough (who knows?), but definitely not disciplined or committed enough to achieve that goal.

(Hat tip: Mixolydian Mode).

Posted by JohnL at 10:04 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack
January 12, 2006

The Movie Queue Game

Inspired by Robbo's recent movie bleg which revealed the names of several movies I would like to add to my Netflix queue, I thought I would start one of those Internet meme/game thingies to get yet more ideas for my already-lengthy list and maybe inspire some of y'all to try some of these.

Here's what you do:

1. Go to your Netflix (or Blockbuster online) queue.
2. List ALL of the movies in the queue (at the very least, try to list at least the first ten).
3. Italicize (or bold) the ones you've seen before.
3a. (OPTIONAL) include snarky commentary or thumbnail reviews where desired.
4. Tag 3 people.

This is what's currently in my queue:

I'm tagging Rob, The Country Pundit, and Professor Hall.

Posted by JohnL at 07:41 PM | Comments (6) | | TrackBack
January 04, 2006

What OS Am I?

You are Palm OS. Punctual, straightforward and very useful.  Your mother wants you to do more with your life like your cousin Wince, but you're happy with who you are.
Which OS are You?

Shamelessly acquired from Buckethead.

Posted by JohnL at 05:30 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack

The Yerba-Laced Plot Thickens

Check out this ad copy describing Pixie Maté:

Maté is the gentle hum of an awakened mind and a vibrant body. It is energy that's balanced, not frantic. The people of the South American rain forest discovered the magic before we did. From these green leaves emerged the tea that sings the body electric. With a llama-load of antioxidants, maté trickles grinning into your system. It won't leave you drooping or demand addiction. Drink deep. You're safe here.

Hmm... Pixie. Llama-load.

We've either found the official drink of Munuviana or further evidence that Pixy's quest for world domination is proceding apace.

Posted by JohnL at 04:43 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack
December 15, 2005

A Baby Present for Vodkapundit?

So, when Stephen Green's lovely wife delivers their firstborn in the near future, I say let's pitch in and get the new dad a present that will allow him to spend hours (and hours and hours) of quality time with the young one in just a few years (click the extended entry for more):


Why not? (Context here and here).

Posted by JohnL at 11:07 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
December 07, 2005

A Smart Aggie

This Aggie seems to find a correlation between the hotness of the coeds at college games and their teams' success (namely, as a recruiting selling point). He also reveals the secret to catch the attention of "perverted camera men" to get on TV. It involves tanning, treadmills, and tight t-shirts.

Mildly NSFW pictures.

(Via BadJocks, who pass along this related site).

Posted by JohnL at 10:31 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack
December 01, 2005

But That's Not a Bad Book


take the WHAT BAD BOOK ARE YOU test.

and go to not as good as reading a good book, but way better than a bad one.

(Via The Maximum Leader)

Posted by JohnL at 08:23 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
November 20, 2005

Just One More Turn...

I am reveling in the glorious addiction that is Civilization, namely Civ IV.

So far I've won pretty decisively via the Space Race (with the Americans) and diplomatically (as the English) on the second-easiest difficulty, but am having trouble with more advanced difficulty settings.

I was quite unimpressed with Civ III, especially in contrast to Civ II, which I had played on and off for several years. The addictive nature of these games (apart from getting to play god on an epic scale) derives from their turn-based nature. Each turn usually lasts about 1-3 minutes. Not much time, eh?

But for some reason you find yourself staring at the screen at 1:30 in the morning thinking: "Just one more turn? Sure." And you abandon other non-mandatory pursuits (such as music, blogging, reading, etc.)

I'm hoping to post some more pieces this week, as I'm taking the week of Thanksgiving off from work. No promises, but please check back.

Posted by JohnL at 11:23 PM | Comments (5) | | TrackBack
November 13, 2005

The Vatican Space Program

Check out the funny little Flash movie here.

(Via Fred Himebaugh).

Posted by JohnL at 11:39 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
November 02, 2005

Monstrous Doohickey

Treacherous Xcorcist-Beheading Scientist-Torturing Ghoul from the Ruined Ominous Kingdom

(Via Owlish)

Posted by JohnL at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
October 31, 2005

The Average Meme

Apparently, a majority of Americans does or has the following things. I have struck the ones that do not apply.

  • Eats peanut butter at least once a week

  • Prefers smooth peanut butter over chunky

  • Can name all Three Stooges

  • Lives within a 20-minute drive of a Wal-Mart

  • Eats at McDonald’s at least once a year

  • Takes a shower for approximately 10.4 minutes a day (mine are shorter -- 3 to 5 minutes, except for an occasional 10 minute shower on a Saturday)

  • Never sings in the shower

  • Lives in a house, not an apartment or condominium

  • Has a home valued between $100,000 and $300,000

  • Has fired a gun

  • Is between 5 feet and 6 feet tall (I'm 6'2")

  • Weighs 135 to 205 pounds

  • Is between the ages of 18 and 53

  • Believes gambling is an acceptable entertainment option

  • Grew up within 50 miles of current home
  • Via Caltech Girl. Go wish her a happy first blog-day.

    Posted by JohnL at 08:55 PM | Comments (9) | | TrackBack
    October 24, 2005

    What Am I Worth?

    Here's a fun little blog-toy based on Technorati info:

    My blog is worth $82,422.84.
    How much is your blog worth?

    Anybody want to buy my blog?

    (Blogshares currently undervalues me, by almost $40,000! Bah!)

    Posted by JohnL at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
    October 23, 2005

    Food Network Game

    Which Food Network chef are you?

    brought to you by Quizilla

    I don't know if that fits, as I've never seen Brown. The food "celebrities" I like best are Emeril, Jacques Pepin, Michael Chiarello, and of course Rachel Ray.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:47 PM | Comments (3) | | TrackBack
    September 20, 2005

    There Once Was A Man From Nantucket...

    Professor Chris Hall has a funny collection of limericks over at his blog, Spacecraft.

    (Think Lewinsky and Kaczynski).

    Posted by JohnL at 11:12 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
    September 15, 2005

    Treu oder Falsch

    I found this "polygraph" meme at Robert's place. Funny thing is, I could have almost incorporated all of his answers by reference.

    Here are the true/false questions with my answers and commentary:

    1. I'm at my best in the early morning. False - At least, not until I've consumed my "breakfast" (see number 2). I believe that the world is run by a vicious and evil conspiracy of morning people. Why should they set the rules, just because they're the first ones out of bed?? What sadist on the Plano school board determined that 7:45 is a good time for kids to start school?

    2. I start each day with a healthy breakfast. - False - Rob had a great answer here, though with the recent news about coffee and antioxidants, I would argue that my 3-4 cups of coffee for breakfast are actually good for me. I am a two-meal-a-day person, with a nighttime snack/dessert usually around 11:00.

    3. I'm always sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. - False - What Robbo said: "Actually, it's more like five. (See answers to Questions 1 and 7.)" I blog, play piano, or watch movies/cable at night when everyone else in the house has retired.

    4. I enjoy my job. -True - Lawyering is sometimes a pain, but my current job as an in-house generalist for a high-tech company has to be a dream gig to beat all dream gigs in the legal field.

    5. I get along with most everyone. -True - I am normally an introverted personality type, but I can put on a good mask and pretend to like people. Once I get comfortable with a group, I am usually seen as a nice guy.

    6. I'm looking forward to the new season of tv shows this year. Mostly False - I don't really look forward to much except for the remainder of the new Battlestar Galactica, South Park (which I can finally see now that we have cable) , and the new season of Desperate Housewives (even though I'm sure it will jump the shark within the first couple of episodes of the season).

    7. I make sure I take some time for myself every day. True - I try to spend 3 to 4 hours a night to myself, reading, writing, playing Xbox, or watching a movie.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:37 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
    September 06, 2005

    Heinlein Meme - Human or Insect?

    Eric came up with a great Heinlein-themed idea. First, list Heinlein's examples of the accomplishments that distinguish a [generalist] human from a [specialist] insect. Then identify the ones he has actually done. He solicited comments, but I thought this would make a great "meme" game.

    First, the original Heinlein:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    I have taken the list, as broken out by Eric, and bolded the items I have actually done (with explanatory notes in most cases).

    I'm gonna tag Robert, The Maximum Leader, Chan, Lynn, and Ted with this one but relieve them of any expectation to pass it along further, unless they want to.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:53 PM | Comments (5) | | TrackBack
    August 30, 2005

    Now Where's My Script?

    Cary Grant
    You scored 14% Tough, 19% Roguish, 28% Friendly, and 33% Charming!

    You are the epitome of charm and style, the smooth operator who steals
    the show with your sophisticated wit and quiet confidence. You are able
    to catch any woman you want just by flashing that disarming smile. When
    you walk into a room, the women are instantly intrigued and even the
    men are impressed. When you find yourself in trouble, you are easily
    able to charm your way out of it, or convince others to help you.
    You're seen as dashing, suave and romantic. Your co-stars include
    Katharine Hepburn, Irene Dunne, and Joan Fontaine, stylish women who
    know a class act when they see it.

    Find out what kind of classic dame you'd make by taking the
    Classic Dames Test.

    My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

    free online datingfree online dating
    You scored higher than 15% on Tough
    free online datingfree online dating
    You scored higher than 52% on Roguish
    free online datingfree online dating
    You scored higher than 48% on Friendly
    free online datingfree online dating
    You scored higher than 67% on Charming

    Link: The Classic Leading Man Test written by gidgetgoes on Ok Cupid

    (Via Clark Gable aka LDH)

    Posted by JohnL at 09:09 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
    August 29, 2005

    My Cyborg Name and Logo

    Transforming Xperimental Being Engineered for Sabotage, Thorough Gratification and Rational Killing

    I actually love that description. I could be that bot.

    (Via LDH and Owlish).

    Posted by JohnL at 10:50 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
    August 25, 2005

    Surprised? I Am (Not)

    Pure Nerd
    86 % Nerd, 43% Geek, 26% Dork
    For The Record: A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia. A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one. A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions. You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

    The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.

    My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

    You scored higher than 94% on nerdiness

    You scored higher than 47% on geekosity

    You scored higher than 26% on dork

    Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid

    And here I thought I was a geek.

    (Via Nerd Owlish).

    Posted by JohnL at 08:50 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack
    August 17, 2005

    Fun Flash Movies

    Via SFSignal, a couple of great Lord of the Rings music videos.

    While you're at Albino Blacksheep's site, be sure to check out these other fine videos:


    Update: And be sure to check out the Llama song. Especially you guys.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:00 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
    August 10, 2005

    And Now For Something Completely Different

    Take the quiz: "Which Holy Grail Character Are You?"

    Sir Bedevere
    Well, now, uh, Launcelot, Galahad, and I, uh, wait until nightfall, and then leap out of the rabbit, taking the French, uh, by surprise. Not only by surprise, but totally unarmed!

    (via the Maximum Leader, whose site has been nicely remodeled. Check it out.)

    Posted by JohnL at 09:50 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack
    August 08, 2005

    Cool Optical Illusions

    Check out these stunning optical illusions. Number 3 is extremely tricky.

    Via Zoe Brain.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:46 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
    August 04, 2005

    I'm Going to H-E-Double Hockeysticks For This...

    McSweeney's Obscenities Uttered by Jesus Christ had me laughing.

    Obvious humor, but still funny.

    Posted by JohnL at 11:17 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack

    The Book I Will Write Someday

    Could there have been any possible doubt?

    SCI-FI! - Neuromancy and technical wizardy! You are
    compelled to write of the Future and what might
    be a thousand years from now or next week! Is
    it a visit to an Alien Culture? Or a
    breathtaking new form of Technology? Isaac
    Asimov and William Gibson are your guides.

    What Kind of Novel Should I Write?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    (Via The Impenetrable LDH).

    Posted by JohnL at 09:32 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack
    July 27, 2005

    Geek Cred

    My computer geek score is greater than 49% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

    Via fellow wannabe Owlish.

    Posted by JohnL at 08:32 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
    July 15, 2005

    My Battle Cry

    What Is Your Battle Cry?

    Hark! Who is that, rampaging through the steppes! It is John, hands clutching a mighty sword! And with a booming bellow, his voice cometh:

    "Ares, God of War, be praised! I shall traumatize the entire planet!!"

    Find out!
    Enter username:
    Are you a girl, or a guy ?

    created by beatings : powered by monkeys

    Cool, I always liked Mars.

    (Hat tip: Michele).

    Posted by JohnL at 10:27 PM | Comments (3) | | TrackBack
    July 13, 2005

    Fractal Fun

    I love fractals. Here's a page with a little java app that lets you interact with the fractal-derived image, or you can just sit and watch it evolve without input.

    At the same domain, different page, it looks like you can download a tool to generate similar fractal images on your own. I may have to try that...

    Posted by JohnL at 11:18 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
    June 16, 2005

    Fun Math Puzzle

    GeekPress found this puzzle at Car Talk:

    I'm getting old and a little absent-minded, so my friends got together and bought me a stylish little desk calendar. It's a cradle for two cubes, each with one number per face.

    They figured I probably had enough left in me to figure what year it was and what month it was, but the date was going to elude me. So, this little gift was going to show the date. So, for example, if it were the 21st, I'd rotate one cube until a "2" was showing, and the other would show a "1". The next day I would know to rotate one cube so, together, the two cubes would read "22".

    With the two cubes, I was able to express every date. For example, if it were the 2nd of the month, it would be expressed as "02". If it were the 18th you'd put up a 1 and an 8, and so on.

    Here's my question. If you were designing the cubes, what numbers would you paint on each one so you could express all the dates from "01" to "31"?

    My answer (and reasoning) below the fold.

    One cube: 0,1,2,3,4,5

    Second cube: 1,2,6,7,8,9

    Each cube has six sides, giving a possible 12 numerals. The only repeated digits in a day's date are 1 and 2. (i.e., the 11th and 22nd of a given month -- there's no 33rd). So each cube must have a 1 and a 2. That leaves 10 possible cube sides to list the numerals 0 through 9. I just listed them sequentially on the first cube (i.e., 0,...,3,4,5) and then continued the sequence (6,7,8,9) on the second cube. Easy.

    Update: Owlish points out a flaw in my reasoning. Not so easy after all! (Never do math while drinking ale). Not only would the third, fourth, and fifth days be just 3, 4, and 5, but there's no way to express "30" under my solution. Back to the drawing board...

    Update 2: I had to cheat and Googled the answer here.

    The answer is: 0,1,2,3,4,5 and 0,1,2,7,8,9(6)

    Yes, the "9" doubles as a six. Very clever.

    Posted by JohnL at 12:54 AM | Comments (3) |
    June 13, 2005

    Re-actualizing My Core Mission Values

    This corpra-gibberish-generator is too rich. Excerpt:

    Think intra-sticky. Do you have a scheme to become proactive? Our functionality is second to none, but our 60/60/24/7/365 development and non-complex operation is invariably considered an amazing achievement. Is it more important for something to be killer or to be subscriber-defined? Do you have a plan of action to become customized? The partnerships factor can be summed up in one word: impactful.

    And another (nice inside joke for anyone who knows about web design):

    We think that most B2B2C, compelling web portals use far too much XHTML, and not enough JavaScript.

    The scary thing is that some people I work with talk just like that.

    (Hat tip: GeekPress)

    Posted by JohnL at 10:14 PM | Comments (3) |
    May 31, 2005

    Silly Song Game

    The Llama Butchers unearthed a fun game at Impenetrable Prose and Poesy.

    1. Take the lyrics to a favorite song.
    2. Go to Babelfish, translate the lyrics into German, then from German to French, and finally from French back into English.
    3. Post the results verbatim.
    4. Invite friends to guess the song based on the interesting new lyrics.

    Here goes:

    There is unrest in the forest,
    There is disorder with the trees,
    For the maples want more sunlight lamp
    And the oaks is unaware of to their pleas.

    The disturbs with the maples,
    (And they' Re quite convinced they' Re right)
    They say the oaks are just too lofty
    And they grab up all the light.
    Drank the oaks can' T help to their feelings
    If they like the way they' Re made.
    And they wonder why the maples
    Can' T Be happy in their shade.

    There is disorder in the forest,
    And the creatures all cuts fled,
    Have the maples scream "Oppression!"
    And the oaks just shake to their heads
    So the maples formed has union
    And demanded equal rights.

    "The oaks are just too greedy;
    Give We will make them custom light."
    Now there' S No more oak oppression,
    For they passed has noble law,
    And the trees are all kept equal
    By hatchet, axis, and saw.

    Answer (and original lyrics) below the fold:

    This actually wasn't too garbled. It's The Trees by Rush:

    There is unrest in the forest,
    There is trouble with the trees,
    For the maples want more sunlight
    And the oaks ignore their pleas.

    The trouble with the maples,
    (And they're quite convinced they're right)
    They say the oaks are just too lofty
    And they grab up all the light.
    But the oaks can't help their feelings
    If they like the way they're made.
    And they wonder why the maples
    Can't be happy in their shade.

    There is trouble in the forest,
    And the creatures all have fled,
    As the maples scream "Oppression!"
    And the oaks just shake their heads

    So the maples formed a union
    And demanded equal rights.
    "The oaks are just too greedy;
    We will make them give us light."
    Now there's no more oak oppression,
    For they passed a noble law,
    And the trees are all kept equal
    By hatchet, axe, and saw.

    I think this song is gravely misinterpreted as a simplistic critique of socialism. I think there is a more meaningful subtext, but that is the topic of another post (yet to come).

    Posted by JohnL at 11:35 PM | Comments (2) |
    May 26, 2005

    Movie Meme

    I've been doing a lot of these lately, just to keep some sort of writing flowing here. Rhianna tagged me with this one:

    1) Total number of films I own on DVD/video:

    We currently own 55 DVD titles (give or take). I am counting multiple-DVD sets as a single title (so the Special Edition of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King counts as only 1 "title" rather than 4, for example). I won't count our aging VHS collection, which would add quite a bit more. We subscribe to Netflix, so I usually only buy titles that I want to watch more than once.

    2) The last film I bought:

    The original Battlestar Galactica series.

    3) The last film I watched:

    The last "film" I watched was Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. The last "movie" I watched -- on DVD -- was Racing Stripes, tonight.

    4) Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):

    When Harry Met Sally (sappy and silly, but very similar to the story of my wife and me: old friends who became lovers and got married)

    It's A Wonderful Life (we watch it every Christmas season, along with the original Miracle on 34th Street and the George C. Scott Christmas Carol)

    Star Wars (I would love to watch the untainted original version, but even the "special" edition that Lucas monkeyed with in the late 90s retains a fair amount of the original's charm)

    Silverado (one of my favorite Westerns of all time, and one of the best ensemble comedy-dramas I can think of)

    Toy Story (Pixar at its innocent best; a movie that takes me right back to my eldest child's toddlerhood)

    5) Tag 5 people and have them put this in their journal:

    I'll take volunteers instead of conscripts this time.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:41 PM | Comments (2) |
    May 23, 2005

    Book Meme From Robbo

    Rob tagged me with a book meme that is very similar to one I did a couple of months ago. Some of the answers have changed over time, so here are the questions:

    1. Total Number of Books I've Owned. Hundreds; likely more than a thousand.

    2. Last Book I Bought: An unabridged (and heavily annotated but untranslated) version of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

    3. Last Book I Read: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I started reading it out loud to my second son (first son listens in more than half the time, too), but got to a really good part and read it straight through to the end. J.K. Rowling could really use some vigorous editing, but she knows how to tell a compelling story despite the florid prose. I've also been enjoying quite a bit of short-form SF while plowing my way through a several-month backlog of Analog magazines. Does the Victoria's Secret catalog count? I just leafed through the latest one while taking out the recycling...

    4. Five Books That Mean A lot to Me: I won't cheat on this one. Five books that made a remarkable imprint on my thinking - five key mileposts in my intellectual and moral development, if you will (in order of first reading):

    1. The Bible
    2. (It makes its way onto a lot of these kinds of lists; it is usually one of the first great works of literature that kids in the West are introduced to - even if it's not usually taught as literature).
    3. Cosmos by Carl Sagan (which first began to loosen my mind from the shackles of fundamentalism)
    4. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (could just as easily be Anthem or Atlas Shrugged, since I read all three in the same two-month period during the summer after ninth grade)

    5. Job: A Comedy of Justice by Heinlein. (I had read many other of his books, but this one really matched my personal spiritual journey - a major part of my coming-of-age)

    6. Goedel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter (difficult to describe, but made me look at music, math, logic, and language in an entirely new way; as I did in the earlier meme I heartily encourage Rob to add this to his "short list" of books to read.)

    5. Tag five people and have them do this on their blog. I usually don't tag others, but I would be interested in seeing the answers of:

    Lysander (this should help him get a new post up for the month of May)
    Timothy Sandefur


    Posted by JohnL at 10:55 PM | Comments (1) |
    May 22, 2005

    Meme From Gunner

    So Gunner tagged me with a meme thing. Here's the deal:

    List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over.

    1. Reality TV. I've never watched it. The ads alone depress my IQ by about 20 points.

    2. Opera. I'm classically-trained, and am well-educated in all kinds of music. But I've never gotten opera. The overtures are fine, but as soon as they start singing, I feel my hackles rise just like with Country and Western or Rap. The only opera I can stand is Bugs Bunny (What's Opera Doc, found here) or Queen's A Night at the Opera.

    3. Blackberries. Most lawyers I know have now decided to put an electronic collar around their necks so that their owners (er, clients) can yank their leash and reach them anywhere and anytime. I loathe these things. The connected world is really groovy, but I like clear boundaries, and I set them. I end up making less than high-powered law-firm partners, but I have a life.

    4. Disney.
    Apart from Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, and anything Pixar, I just can't get the charm of Disney. It's like a creepy cult or something.

    5. Golf. I'm OK at the game, but just don't get the big deal.

    I won't tag anyone, but please trackback if you choose to play along.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:54 PM | Comments (6) |
    May 18, 2005

    Random Name Generator

    Here's some mindless fun: a variety of name generators to translate your name (or alias) into something else.

    Posted by JohnL at 11:07 PM | Comments (1) |
    May 03, 2005

    Ponderous Prowess at English

    No surprises here:

    Your English Skills:

    Grammar: 100%

    Punctuation: 100%

    Spelling: 100%

    Vocabulary: 100%

    Does Your English Cut the Mustard?

    Via the Llamabutchers.

    (Rob, were you really an English major? I'd ask for my money back if I were you ;-)

    Posted by JohnL at 07:54 PM | Comments (4) |
    April 27, 2005

    Obsolete Skillz


    You are 'regularly metric verse'. This can take many forms, including heroic couplets, blank verse, and other iambic pentameters, for example. It has not been used much since the nineteenth century; modern poets tend to prefer rhyme without meter, or even poetry with neither rhyme nor meter.

    You appreciate the beautiful things in life--the joy of music, the color of leaves falling, the rhythm of a heartbeat. You see life itself as a series of little poems. The result (or is it the cause?) is that you are pensive and often melancholy. You enjoy the company of other people, but they find you unexcitable and depressing. Your problem is that regularly metric verse has been obsolete for a long time.
    What obsolete skill are you? brought to you by Quizilla

    Posted by JohnL at 10:17 PM | Comments (1) |


    I took the readability test (found via Ann Althouse). Here are my results:

    Gunning Fog Index 7.49
    Flesch Reading Ease 72.29
    Flesch-Kincaid Grade 4.70

    This means that my blog is written at anywhere between a fifth and eighth grade reading level. I am actually quite proud of that result. My mission here, as in my legal career, is to keep the prose short, sweet, and simple.

    I can certainly keep up with pretentious and wordy authors. After all, based on the generalist nature of my college education and subsequent career, I have both a wide and deep vocabulary. Learning how to read and write in Latin and German also blessed me with a working knowledge of truly good grammar.

    But none of that is an excuse to "show off" and make my writing unreadable.

    How does your blog score?

    Posted by JohnL at 10:06 PM | Comments (4) |
    April 21, 2005

    Boring But Versatile, That's Me!

    I am a d6

    Take the quiz at

    Posted by JohnL at 10:28 PM | Comments (2) |
    April 14, 2005

    Blog Battles

    I own you, Llamabutchers and Ted.

    On the other hand, it looks like Random has a slight edge against me.

    I could defeat Kathy only through my superior strength.


    is a Giant Lizard that has a Massively Swollen Skull.

    Strength: 9 Agility: 4 Intelligence: 7

    To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
    defeat TexasBestGrok, enter your name and choose an attack:

    fights TexasBestGrok using

    Posted by JohnL at 11:14 PM | Comments (6) |

    Amazing LEGO Church and Organ

    I love LEGOs. And I love pipe organs. So I absolutely loved this custom LEGO church.

    Check out all 35 photos documenting the project here. I've left you a sample of the organ in the extended entry.

    (Via The Corner).


    Posted by JohnL at 10:25 PM | Comments (1) |
    March 17, 2005

    Another Book Meme

    Don kinda sorta tagged me with this book meme:

    You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?
    Ayn Rand's Anthem, hands down. Just read the opening paragraph to grok why:

    IT IS A SIN TO WRITE THIS. It is a sin to think words no others think and to put them down upon a paper no others are to see. It is base and evil. It is as if we were speaking alone to no ears but our own. And we know well that there is no transgression blacker than to do or think alone. We have broken the laws. The laws say that men may not write unless the Council of Vocations bid them so. May we be forgiven!

    Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
    Yes. Eowyn in Lord of the Rings, undoubtedly; maybe the cyborg artificial person Friday in the eponymous book by Heinlein.

    The last book you bought was...?
    Calculating God, by Robert Sawyer

    The last book you read was...?
    Calculating God, by Robert Sawyer

    What are you currently reading?
    Six months' worth of back issues of Analog, The Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder War (short stories by other authors based in Larry Niven's Known Space universe), and The New Strong-Willed Child by (shudder) James Dobson.

    Five books you would take to a desert island...
    1. Some sort of How Stuff Works/Simple Machines book so I can make all kinds of cool Gilligan's Island inventions. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll finally get around to reading all of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
    2. Lucifer's Hammer, by Niven and Pournelle (SF, post-apocalyptic survivalism, rebuilding civilization. . . a textbook for being stranded on a desert island).
    3. Goedel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas Hofstadter. A wonderfully unique literary offering, virtually impossible to describe. I would recommend that Rob read it as soon as he's done reading the Wolff Bach book.
    4. Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Every re-reading brings new rewards, so this is a natural choice.
    5. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Heinlein. (More full-power rugged individualism to keep me going).

    I won't tag anyone else with this, but please trackback here if you are moved to contribute your own book lists.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:51 PM | Comments (7) |
    March 13, 2005

    Brain Exercise

    I first learned about the card game "Set" from my mother-in-law this past Christmas. It turns out that my older kids had already been playing it at school for awhile. Now we all like to play it, and my wife spends about five minutes a day on the online version here.

    Read the rules carefully, as you might find them confusing at first. The easiest rule to remember is the "magic" rule: if two are and one is not, then it is not a set.

    Have fun!

    Posted by JohnL at 09:24 PM | Comments (0) |
    February 03, 2005

    A Musical Amusement

    Rob tagged me with this music meme several days ago, but I'm just now getting around to answering it:

    Random Ten

    Let's see -- first, open iTunes. Next, hit "shuffle" in the "Library" playlist. Hit Play. Write down song info. Hit Next. Repeat. Etc. Voila:

    1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?

    Somewhere between 4 and 5 GBs at last count.

    2. The last CD you bought is:

    Presto, by Rush, about two weeks ago.

    3. What is the song you last listened to before this message?

    Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song (on the radio on the drive home from work)

    4. Five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

    Rob broke the rules here by listing five nice classical pieces. None of them were really "songs." As you can tell from the random list above, my tastes are incredibly varied, so I've chosen five that mean a lot to me, and not all are "pop" songs:

    5. Who are you gonna pass this stick to (five persons and why)?

    Nobody. I waited too long and many of the five I would forward this to have already done it. Please feel free to do it yourself, though, and trackback here.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:43 PM | Comments (2) |
    January 24, 2005

    My Blogging Twin

    Your Famous Blogger Twin is InstaPundit
    Smart, well-informed, a true polymath Don't be surprised if your blogging brings you fame as well!
    Who's Your Famous Blogger Twin?

    Funny thing is, I can't seem to attract that Instalanche.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:00 PM | Comments (3) |
    January 13, 2005

    Why I Love The Internet, Reason #956

    This guy has done what I (and probably every other guy in my high school chemistry class) wanted to do when we learned about elemental Sodium's behavior when it comes into contact with water.

    The site has multiple videos of the various explosions these guys created with three and a half pounds of the metal, but this one's my favorite (4.7MB).


    (Via BoingBoing)

    Posted by JohnL at 10:19 PM | Comments (0) |
    January 11, 2005


    Via the Llamabutchers:

    1. Go To
    2. Click on "Directions."
    3. Enter your current address and the address of your childhood home (or at least the town if you don't remember the exact address).
    4. Put the time and distance in a post like this.
    5. Repost the instructions to the meme in your own blog.

    Here are my results:

    Total Est. Time: 24 minutes Total Est. Distance: 16.77 miles

    Posted by JohnL at 11:00 PM | Comments (0) |
    January 03, 2005

    Martha's Prison Diaries

    In case you haven't been following them, Jeff Goldstein has been posting a hilarious series of fictitious diary entries of Martha Stewart in prison.

    Think Caged Heat meets Martha Stewart Living.

    Jeff is also suffering a motivation crisis (see the comments to this post). I know how he feels sometimes. If you don't read him regularly, you should. His is the type of clever humor for which the Internet is ideally suited. Check out his site, and show him some appreciation.

    Posted by JohnL at 11:04 PM | Comments (0) |
    December 15, 2004

    For My Loyal Readers

    This post is tailor-made for Ted and Yobbo.

    Never let it be said I don't treat my audience right.

    (Link via BoingBoing).

    Update: Actually, this BoingBoing post may be more up their alleys.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:06 PM | Comments (0) |
    December 07, 2004

    More Movies

    I intended to skip this when Rob Llama posted it yesterday, but it makes such cheap filler, I can't avoid it. Bold for ones I've seen, and italics for ones I plan to see (for the first time or again).

    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - here's the big deal for me, Rob: this movie contains perhaps the best soundtrack yet for an SF film, combined with ultra-realistic portrayals of hard-science-based space travel. Forget the acid-trip ending, and you have a genre-defining film that has not yet been outdone.
    The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
    All That Jazz (1979)
    Amadeus (1984)
    Animal House (1978)
    Annie Hall (1977) - I can't stand Woodie Allen. I was made to watch this in a class for school.
    As Good As It Gets (1997)
    Awakenings (1990)
    Back to the Future (1985)
    Barbarella (1968)
    Basic Instinct (1992)
    Batman (1989)
    Benny & Joon (1993)
    The Big Chill (1983)
    Blazing Saddles (1974)
    The Blues Brothers (1980) - "I hate Illinois Nazis..."
    The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes (1970)
    Creepshow (1982)
    Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
    The Crow (1994)
    Die Hard (1988)
    The Dirty Dozen (1967)
    Doctor Doolittle (1967)
    Dogma (1999)
    The Doors (1991)
    Ed Wood (1994)
    Fargo (1996)
    Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
    Fatal Attraction (1987) - I won't see this again, as I can't buy the premise. What sane man would risk cute-but-beautiful Anne Archer for skanky Glenn Close?
    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
    Field of Dreams (1989)
    A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
    The Fisher King (1991) - One of these days I will have all of the Terry Gilliam ouevre on DVD; I plan to have a Gilliam-a-thon when done.
    A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
    Forrest Gump (1994)
    Ghost (1990)
    Ghostbusters (1984)
    Gods and Monsters (1998)
    The Great Escape (1963)
    Groundhog Day (1993)
    Heaven Can Wait (1978)
    Help! (1965)
    Highlander (1986)
    The House of Yes (1997)
    The January Man (1989)
    A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
    Little Man Tate (1991)
    Mad Dog Time (1996)
    Man on the Moon (1999)
    Manhattan (1979) - bleh, another Woodie Allen flick.
    M*A*S*H (1970)
    The Mask (1994)
    The Matrix (1999)
    Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - Will see this yet again (it's part of our standard Christmas film repertoire). The scenes with the company psychologist are just as funny everytime.
    Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)
    Night Shift (1982)
    The Nutty Professor (1963)
    The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
    The Philadelphia Story (1940)
    Police Academy (1984)
    Poltergeist (1982)
    The Princess Bride (1987)
    Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
    Rain Man (1988)
    Raising Arizona (1987)
    The Rapture (1991)
    Repo Man (1984)
    Rio Bravo (1959)
    The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
    The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
    Scream (1996)
    Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
    Shine (1996)
    The Shootist (1976)
    Sliver (1993)
    Somewhere in Time (1980)
    South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999) - I can't wait until my kids (esp. my boys) are old enough to watch this with me, since my better half simply doesn't get the humor.
    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) - Ditto Rob's comments.
    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
    Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
    Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
    Starship Troopers (1997) - I won't see this out of principle, having read the reviews. It seems that Verhooven made the mistake of reinterpreting Heinlein's thought-provoking story about what full voting citizenship is worth (i.e., what it should cost) as a fascist bug hunt.
    The Sting (1973)
    Striptease (1996)
    Superman III (1983)
    That Thing You Do! (1996)
    Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993)
    Tombstone (1993)
    Top Secret! (1984)
    Total Recall (1990)
    Twelve Monkeys (1995) - See above comment about Gilliam film fest.
    Up in Smoke (1978)
    The Usual Suspects (1995)
    Walkabout (1971)
    Westworld (1973)
    Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) - This movie, a favorite from childhood, gets sooo much better after you have kids.
    The Wizard of Oz (1939)
    The World According to Garp (1982)
    Yellow Submarine (1968)

    That's a lot of movies!

    Posted by JohnL at 10:02 PM | Comments (3) |
    December 01, 2004

    Everybody Needs a Montage

    Via Ace (who's trying to find his groove), a not-safe-for-work video montage set to the awesome Team America song, America, F--- Yeah!

    Posted by JohnL at 08:52 PM | Comments (0) |
    November 18, 2004

    The Armadillo

    My superhero persona seems eerily appropriate:

    Your Superhero Persona

    by couplandesque

    Your Name
    Superhero NameThe Armadillo
    Super PowerIrresistable Sexuality
    EnemyClear Channel
    Mode Of TransportationSkateboard
    Quiz created with MemeGen!

    Via The Llamabutchers (yeah, so what else is new?)

    Posted by JohnL at 07:40 PM | Comments (0) |
    November 11, 2004

    Comrade Cartographer

    I suppose I should be happy that I'm indirectly represented on the Commissar's latest map, at least as a member of the MuNu Confederation.

    Still, Texas has a unique and pleasing outline and distinctively anchors maps of the USA. I think a more direct reference with a Texas outline would improve the map.

    Update: OK, so the Commissar didn't improve the visual appeal of his map with the pleasing outline of Texas, but at least my blog and Texas Native's earned an individual reference. Thanks, Comrade!

    Posted by JohnL at 04:47 PM | Comments (1) |
    November 09, 2004

    I Am A Pathetic Halo Fanboy Geek

    Stood in line at BestBuy last night starting at 10:30 to get my hands on a midnight-release copy of Halo 2. I was one of the small percentage of thirty-something-plus geeks in line (one or two guys may have been in their forties, but it was definitely a younger crowd). Kudos to my mega-cool wife for granting the kitchen pass for me to make the midnight run.

    Got a free poster of the Master Chief (instant strife between my boys -- which one gets to put it on his wall??) and entered a drawing for a 3-foot tall statue of the Chief, but I don't think I won that. The doors opened promptly at 12:01AM and I exited the store less than 10 minutes later, probably the 50th person or so in Plano, Texas to [legally] own the game. Yay!

    For the extra 5 bucks, I went ahead and got the Limited Collectors' Edition in the nifty aluminum case with the bonus DVD of extras (behind the scenes, outtakes, commentaries, concept art, etc.)

    Got home in time to play it for an hour or so. The graphics are definitely several steps up from the original Halo. So far I haven't seen any ham-handed politicking, Lileks' concerns notwithstanding. The banter from the space marines is so far more varied and colorful, there are a few new species of Covenant aliens, and the new weapons (the battle rifle and SMG, esp. with the two-handed shooting option) rock.

    A more objective review (not just subjective impressions) will follow in due course. If my posts are lighter than their already nigh-insubstantial form for the next couple weeks, you'll know what I'm doing.

    Posted by JohnL at 08:10 AM | Comments (9) |
    November 03, 2004

    Halo 2 Countdown

    Despite Lileks' buzz-kill references to latent politico-idiotic subtexts in Halo 2, I am so there next Tuesday (November 9) to get Halo 2 at the local Best Fry's CompUSA Buy whatever...

    I will of course post my impressions of the game as I defeat the Covenant and make the Universe safe for Humanity.

    I think Lileks, as much as I respect his writing, is reading way too much into the comments of the producer, Joe Staten, who said, "'You could look at [the story] as a damning condemnation of the Bush administration's adventure in the Middle East.'' I don't know where he got that, since it is quite obvious that the bad guys in this story (the Covenant) are clearly the equivalent of the Islamonazis, not the augmented-human Spartan warriors or the orbital drop shock troop (ODST) Space Marines.

    In the end, it's just a game, albeit what promises to be a totally kick-ass game. So I will be buying and playing it religiously (pun intended).

    Posted by JohnL at 09:49 PM | Comments (0) |

    Flying Lawnmower

    Not sure if this was taped in Iceland, but it is on an Icelandic site:

    Flying Lawnmower to the accompaniment of Cotton Eyed Joe.

    You could name this Why the West Will Win.

    (Via Pixy).

    Posted by JohnL at 09:31 PM | Comments (1) |

    XYZZY, But Don't Panic

    "You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike..."

    If you recognize those words, you've probably played one of the greatest text-based computer adventure games of all time, Colossal Cave.

    Wait, you say, text-based computer adventure games?

    That's right. Once upon a time, back in the old days, we did not have interactive immersive environment games like today's first-person shooters. Instead, we had to read our computer games a line at a time on a monochrome monitor, using our imaginations to bring the descriptions and clues to life. We had to run around in the dark looking for different objects, using simple one or two word commands.

    >There is a threatening little dwarf in the room with you! You're in Hall of Mt King. There is a small wicker cage discarded nearby. A cheerful little bird is sitting here singing. There is a little axe here.

    >get axe

    >throw axe
    >You killed a little dwarf. The body vanishes in a cloud of greasy black smoke.

    Like the good D&D gamers we were, we meticulously mapped out the gamespace with graph paper, and kept lists of the inventory we carried, along with the properties and uses of the different items. Great fun, and whenever you solved a clue, realizing which object you needed to get across the bridge, or how to scare away the snake, or how to map the maze, you felt exhilarated. Of course, not quite the same exhilaration as blowing a flood warrior away with your shotgun in Halo for the first time, but still thrilling.

    All this is a long-winded way of leading up to this über-cool Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy text-adventure game. Note that this is not a pure text game like Colossal Cave, since you can use your mouse to click on objects and directions, but playing it really brought back some fun memories of early computer gaming. Have fun!

    (Via Mixolydian Mode).

    Posted by JohnL at 09:20 PM | Comments (1) |
    October 19, 2004

    Geek Quiz

    In case it's not already abundantly clear, I am, in fact, a geek.

    And proud of it.

    Moreover, I am a Level 3 geek.

    Take this quiz, and figure out your own geek quotient. (My score was 575).


    Update: Not just a geek. A geek that can't read the instructions. I missed the two-year time frame on the first part of the quiz.

    Retaking with that timeframe, my raw score was 590, less 350 for the "anti-geek" points, yields a revised score of 240, or Level 0 Wannabe.

    Posted by JohnL at 11:46 PM | Comments (5) |

    D&D Babes Video

    This video is especially suited for Rob (to show him what he missed out on) and Ace (to relive past dork glories).

    Via BoingBoing.

    Posted by JohnL at 11:32 PM | Comments (0) |
    October 10, 2004

    More LEGO Fun

    My boys have been busy building again. First, a tribute to the original Star Wars trilogy. My second son's custom X-Wing:


    First son's renderings of Luke (center) and his ill-fated sidekicks Dack (left) and Biggs (right):


    (More in the extended entry).

    Second son made this Banshee from Halo (real picture below for comparison). Note the Covenant purple on the wings:



    Hello Master Chief! Remember, AI Constructs and Cyborgs First!


    My first son built this little ship, which he calls "Eject" as its bottom pulls off, allowing the pilot to drop downwards through a hatch. Nifty:


    Posted by JohnL at 09:15 PM | Comments (1) |
    September 28, 2004

    Real Escher Structures

    Via GeekPress, a couple of pages featuring 3-D models of some of Escher's "impossible" objects.

    Of course, each 3-D model only works when rotated so that the 2-D cross-section looks like the Escher drawing. From other angles, they look nothing like Escher's drawings.

    Very cool stuff.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:42 PM | Comments (0) |
    September 16, 2004

    More Silly Filler

    My pimp name is "Vicious D.J. Slim."


    (Tip o' the velvet cowboy hat to Macktastic R. Tickle and Professor Truth Steve Gates).

    Update: Rusty "Darth Sidious" Shackleford is starting a Blog Pimp Alliance. Check it out.

    Posted by JohnL at 11:21 PM | Comments (1) |

    Another Stupid Quiz

    All I can say is:


    Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

    Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

    Posted by JohnL at 10:08 PM | Comments (4) |

    No Surprise Here

    Take the What High School Stereotype Are You? quiz.

    Pinched from the Llamabutchers.

    This also explains why I can laugh at these 11 great geek pickup lines (from, appropriately, GeekPress).

    Posted by JohnL at 10:07 PM | Comments (1) |
    September 15, 2004

    Fire Engine Design

    I think Ted's universe overlaps a bit with mine. In Ted's universe,

    "Fire Engines would be about twice as big, have 4-foot wide tracks instead of wheels and a big honkin' snowplow blade on front. If you can't hear the sirens over your freakin' stereo, then they'll either move you themselves or go right over the top. I'd pay money to see that.

    I think I'll put the boys to work on a LEGO model of such a fire truck.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:50 PM | Comments (1) |
    August 25, 2004

    Video Game Cheesecake

    This is just weird. Video game characters "undressing" for Playboy?

    Just one question: Where's Cortana?

    Posted by JohnL at 11:39 PM | Comments (1) |
    August 20, 2004

    Some Marital Humor

    From my wife (who passes it on from one of her email correspondents):

    A senior citizen in Florida bought a brand new Mercedes convertible. He took off down the road, flooring it to 80 mph and enjoying the wind blowing through what little hair he had left on his head.

    "This is great," he thought as he roared down I-75. He pushed the pedal to the metal even more.

    Then he looked in his rear view mirror and saw a highway patrol trooper behind him, blue lights flashing and siren blaring. "I can get away from him with no problem" thought the man and he tromped it some more and flew down the road at over 100 mph. Then110, 120 mph!

    Then he thought, "What am I doing? I'm too old for this kind of thing." He pulled over to the side of the road and waited for the trooper to catch up with him.

    The trooper pulled in behind the Mercedes and walked up to the man. "Sir," he said, looking at his watch. "My shift ends in 30 minutes and today is Friday. If you can give me a reason why you were speeding that I've never heard before, I'll let you go."

    The man looked at the trooper and said, "Years ago my wife ran off with a Florida state trooper, and I thought you were bringing her back."

    The trooper replied, "Sir, have a nice day."

    I love that my wife and I can both laugh out loud at this. . .

    Posted by JohnL at 11:05 PM | Comments (2) |
    August 08, 2004

    LEGO Fun

    As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't going to let the latest release of the official LEGO Millennium Falcon kit go unpurchased, and my older son's recent birthday made a perfect excuse. I helped with a couple of the early steps, but he did most of the work himself:


    I either laid a sloppy foundation or mishandled the model because it partly fell apart after taking that picture. Oh well, the fun of LEGOs is in the building, so I guess we will just have to rebuild.

    My younger son came up with this prototype rebel alliance scout ship, all by himself:


    Good job, boys!

    Posted by JohnL at 09:38 PM | Comments (2) |
    August 05, 2004

    Artificial Languages

    More linking tonight, as we head over to Don at Mixolydian Mode, who riffs on Esperanto and mentions a movement to replace Latin with Esperanto as the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.

    I taught myself a fair amount of Esperanto in High School (no great feat, since I was taking Honors Latin all four years). Of course, nobody I knew spoke or wrote it, so it fell by the wayside.

    Of more interest to the language geek in me, Don found this amazing Language Construction Kit.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:34 PM | Comments (1) |
    August 04, 2004

    Peoples' Soviet High School

    Der Commissar has rounded up the bios of all the cool (and attractive) kids in the blogosphere.

    I obviously haven't sent enough linking-love his way, and he somehow missed my entry.

    JohnL of TexasBestGrok - Latin Club 1,2,3 (President 4); Heinlein Appreciation Society 1,2; LEGO modelers' collective 3,4

    Posted by JohnL at 10:12 PM | Comments (2) |
    July 24, 2004

    LEGO Millennium Falcon

    LEGO has re-issued an updated model of one of the most popular SF ships of all time, the Millennium Falcon. A few years ago, LEGO mostly discontinued selling their first version of the Millennium Falcon, leading to much dismay in our household (I had promised it for Christmas, but it was gone from the stores before we could get it, and was then unavailable online -- grrr).

    I'm not planning to repeat that mistake this time around.

    Still, it's nice to know that several people have developed their own versions of the Millennium Falcon, so we could always do the same (and probably will -- my elder son wants to use this latest model to help make the Ebon Hawk, the ship from Knights of the Old Republic).

    Posted by JohnL at 11:07 PM | Comments (2) |
    July 13, 2004

    Life's Highway

    I've recently gotten off the highway (from Breckenridge, Colorado to Plano, Texas) so I think it appropriate to kick off blogging again with this puzzling little diversion found at the Llama Butchers:

    texasbestgrok Highway
    Tower of Commitment7
    Fame City16
    Bewilderment Avenue116
    Please Drive Carefully
    Where are you on the highway of life?

    Coming soon: a brief vacation photoblog, commentary on what I've missed, and maybe even a complaint or two about returning to the salt mines of lawyering.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:24 PM | Comments (2) |
    June 28, 2004

    Silly Recipes

    This one looks just right:

    How to make a John
    5 parts success
    3 parts humour
    5 parts ego
    Layer ingredients in a shot glass. Top it off with a sprinkle of fitness and enjoy!

    Not so sure about this one, though:

    How to make a texasbestgrok
    3 parts anger
    1 part silliness
    1 part energy
    Layer ingredients in a shot glass. Add lovability to taste! Do not overindulge!

    I mean, really. Three parts anger?!!!? THREE PARTS ANGER!!! WTF???


    Personality cocktail

    First found at The Cheese Stands Alone.

    Posted by JohnL at 11:40 PM | Comments (4) |
    June 22, 2004

    More Wordplay

    I just found a new blog that kindly linked to the neologisms I posted a week or so ago.

    Even better, Point2Point put up his own list of neologisms. Favorites are:

    Posted by JohnL at 09:09 PM | Comments (2) |
    June 10, 2004


    Got this a while back from a co-worker.

    (Mild language warning -- see extended entry).

    1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

    2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

    3. Bozone: The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

    4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

    5. Cashtration: The act of buying a house,which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

    6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray painted very, very high.

    7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

    8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

    9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

    10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

    11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

    12. Decafalon: The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

    13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

    14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

    15. Arachnoleptic fit: The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

    16. Beelzebug: Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

    17. Caterpallor: The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

    and my favorite;

    18. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:21 PM | Comments (2) |
    June 09, 2004

    A Well-Endowed Sense of Humor

    Maintaining the recent standard of high-quality commentary, I pass along to you in the Extended Entry a funny story posted by the Physics Geek yesterday.

    (Heh heh heh, Beavis . . . he said extended entry).

    The Smiths were unable to conceive children, and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family. On the day the proxy father was to arrive, Mr. Smith kissed his wife and said, "I'm off. The man should be here soon".

    Half an hour later, just by chance, a door-to-door baby photographer rang the doorbell, hoping to make a sale. "Good morning, madam. I've come to...."

    "Oh, no need to explain. I've been expecting you," Mrs. Smith cut in.

    "Really?" the photographer asked. "Well, good ! I've made a specialty of babies."

    "That's what my husband and I had hoped. Please come in and have a seat."

    After a moment she asked, blushing, "Well, where do we start?"

    "Leave everything to me. I usually try two in the bathtub, one on the couch and perhaps a couple on the bed. Sometimes the living room floor is fun too; you can really spread out!"

    "Bathtub, living room floor? No wonder it didn't work for Harry and me."

    "Well, madam, none of us can guarantee a good one every time. But if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or seven angles, I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results."

    "My, that's a lot of ..." gasped Mrs. Smith.

    "Madam, in my line of work, a man must take his time. I'd love to be in and out in five minutes, but you'd be disappointed with that, I'm sure."

    "Don't I know it.", Mrs. Smith said quietly.

    The photographer opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his baby pictures. "This was done on the top of a bus in downtown London."

    "Oh my god!!" Mrs. Smith exclaimed, tugging at her handkerchief.

    "And these twins turned out exceptionally well, when you consider their mother was so difficult to work with."

    "She was difficult ?" asked Mrs. Smith.

    "Yes, I'm afraid so. I finally had to take her to Hyde Park to get the job done right. People were crowding around four and five deep, pushing to get a good look."

    "Four and five deep?" asked Mrs. Smith, eyes widened in amazement.

    "Yes", the photographer said. "And for more than three hours, too. The mother was constantly squealing and yelling - I could hardly concentrate. Then darkness approached and I began to rush my shots. Finally, when the squirrels began nibbling on my equipment, I just packed it all in."

    Mrs. Smith leaned forward. "You mean they actually chewed on your, um, ... equipment?"

    "That's right. Well madam, if you're ready, I'll set up my tripod so that we can get to work."


    "Oh yes, I have to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It's much too big for me to hold very long. Madam?.... Madam?..... Good Lord, she's fainted!"

    Posted by JohnL at 08:46 PM | Comments (3) |
    June 02, 2004

    Yet Another Quiz

    Life's been busy, and my muse has been mute recently, so you get more filler:

    The Honest Bloggers Quiz (or, making my biases clear)

    Q&A in the extended entry.

    1. Which political party do you typically agree with?

    Republicans by a slim margin -- I'm libertarian but not Libertarian (mainly because of their appalling alliance with the Buchanan brigade, loony left, and Islamonazis in the current war)

    2. Which political party do you typically vote for?

    My votes in the last couple of elections broke down to 80% Republican, 10% Democrat, 10% Libertarian.

    3. List the last five presidents that you voted for.

    (Too young for 5 elections): 1988 - Ron Paul(L); 1992 - Andre Marrou(L); 1996 - Bob Dole(R); 2000 - GW Bush(R)

    4. Which party do you think is smarter about the economy?

    Libertarians - hands off by the government

    5. Which party do you think is smarter about domestic affairs?

    Libertarians - hands off means hands off!

    6. Do you think we should keep our troops in Iraq or pull them out?

    Keep them there until their mission is accomplished - think Japan after WWII.

    7. Who, or what country, do you think is most responsible for 9/11?

    Osama Bin Laden and Saudi Arabia.

    8. Do you think we will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

    Umm, we already have, just not in large quantities yet. That's a straw man anyway: Paul Wolfowitz laid out the Bush doctrine quite clearly on September 13, 2001 as lower Manhattan still burned -- we must end states that sponsor terrorism to keep this from happening again.

    9. Yes or no, should the U.S. legalize marijuana?

    Yes, along with most other currently-illegal drugs. Didn't we learn anything in the 1930s?

    10. Do you think the Republicans stole the last presidental election?

    Hell no, although I am convinced that Al Gore was determined to win at all costs, including undermining the legitimacy of our institutions. A man with more class would have done like Nixon did when he conceded to Kennedy in a close election.

    11. Do you think Bill Clinton should have been impeached because of what he did with Monica Lewinsky?

    No, but he should have been impeached and convicted for perjuring himself about it.

    12. Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good president?

    Depends on your definition of good. I probably disagree with all her policies, but if she could be matched with a Republican congress, she might not be too bad, much like Bill Clinton after the 1994 midterm elections - welfare reform and NAFTA were two fine accomplishments.

    13. Name a current Democrat who would make a great president.

    Sam Nunn, Joe Lieberman.

    14. Name a current Republican who would make a great president.

    For our current circumstances? The one we have - GWB.

    15. Do you think that women should have the right to have an abortion?

    Poorly phrased question, since they already do. My position on abortion - I think that the fetus is not human until it exhibits a steady human brainwave (alpha-wave?) pattern. At that point, it becomes a person, and is entitled to protection under the law (meaning some balancing of its rights versus the mother's).

    16. What religion are you?

    Methodist by background and practice, Deist in my theology.

    17. Have you read the Bible all the way through?

    Yes, including some of the original Greek (along with Latin and German).

    18. What's your favorite book?

    It's a toss-up among The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, and The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien -- all books that I re-read fairly regularly.

    19. Who is your favorite band?

    Need you ask? Rush.

    20. Who do you think you'll vote for president in the next election?


    21. What website did you see this on first?

    Jennifer's History and Stuff.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:14 PM | Comments (2) |
    May 28, 2004

    Friday Filler

    Found this at Lemur Girl, who found it at Special K:

    First job: Flower delivery man for a florist in Dallas.
    First self purchased CD: Brain Salad Surgery, by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer in July 1987.
    First piercing/tattoo: Summer 1983, left ear piercing (long since closed-up).
    First enemy: 10th grade - Some guy named Jeff Anderson who borrowed my bass guitar longer than appropriate and teased me until we got into a fight; although I outweighed and out-reached him, he knocked me down with one good punch to the face in my one-and-only after-school fight. He dropped out of Jesuit a year or so later, and I graduated Salutatorian of my class. Guess I won after all.

    Last big car ride: Dallas to Corpus Christi and back, to visit the USS Lexington.
    Last kiss: 20 minutes ago (my lovely wife)
    Last library book checked out: Ummm. . . some gardening books in 1999, the last time I did a vegetable garden.
    Last movie seen: In the theater? The Alamo. On DVD, Master and Commander.
    Last beverage drank: Guiness Extra Stout.
    Last food consumed: Buffalo Wings at The Cheesecake Factory.
    Last phone call: my wife, on my way home from work earlier today.
    Last CD played: Fragile, Yes.
    Last annoyance: The jerk in an SUV who did such a sloppy job parking at Stonebriar Mall, where we went to eat tonight
    Last pop drank: Coke.
    Last ice cream eaten: Blue Bell Country Vanilla (w/ Hershey's Hot Fudge sauce).
    Last shirt worn: Dallas Sidekicks T-Shirt.

    I AM: Ready for a break.
    I HAVE: The Summertime Blues.
    I WISH: I could find more time to write.
    I HEAR: The air conditioner humming, my dog breathing.
    I SEARCH: For filler like this to keep this blog running.
    I REGRET: very little.
    I LOVE: my fantastic wife and three outstanding kids.
    I ALWAYS: wonder where my paycheck went.

    NUMBER: 13 (My birthdate is April 13)
    COLOR: blue
    DAY: Saturday
    MONTH: November
    SONG(S): It Had to Be You, Harry Connick; South Side of the Sky, Yes; Natural Science, Rush; Cliffs of Dover, Eric Johnson
    SEASON: Autumn
    DRINK: Guiness, Shiner Bock, or Coca Cola

    Posted by JohnL at 11:38 PM | Comments (3) |
    May 24, 2004

    Photshop Abuse

    There should be a clause in the Photoshop licensing agreement that forbids putting it to this kind of use:



    Original image found at Brokennewz.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:03 PM | Comments (2) |
    May 21, 2004

    Reality TV Bites, And Gets Bitten. . .

    Venomous Kate takes aim at reality TV and proceeds to inflict multiple deadly bites upon it.

    I'm proud to say I've never watched a single episode of any of that trash. Life's just too short. Fortunately, for people like me who are alien to this unsavory bit of pop culture, Kate provides helpful links to each of the shows in her post.

    It's scary to think that the concept has propagated as far and successfully as it has.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:49 PM | Comments (2) |


    Ace of Spades HQ links to a bunch of creepy European art, movies, and games.

    My favorite:

    (Described by Ace as "Lovecraft-meets-Giger").

    Posted by JohnL at 08:33 PM | Comments (0) |
    May 17, 2004

    Apparently, I Grok


    Check out more of Chris Muir's Day by Day.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:56 PM | Comments (0) |
    May 12, 2004

    Geek Confessions

    Well, the Llamabutchers started it, and Ted has kept it alive long enough that I can post on this while it is still somewhat fresh.

    What are ten subjects about which I know more than is healthy?

    In no particular order:

    Ted augments his list with an additional ten items. Quite the dilettante, he. I won't bore you with more of my details. Instead, please just read back through my archives to see what other interests I have that verge on geekdom.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:39 PM | Comments (1) |
    May 07, 2004

    French Duel

    Timothy Sandefur has me convinced that I need to read some Mark Twain. Aside from the obligatory Huckleberry Finn in high school, I haven't really read any Twain.

    But today Timothy points us to some hilarious excerpts from A Tramp Abroad, including this account of a French duel.

    (Since I missed blogging on Cinco de Mayo, this will have to serve as my slam-the-French post).

    Posted by JohnL at 10:36 PM | Comments (0) |

    Friends Recap

    I haven't watched Friends in about 8 or 9 years. I liked it a lot in the first season, before anyone had really heard of it (and, more importantly, before the actors got too full of themselves). But the characters just got boring, and never seemed to grow up. Meanwhile, my wife and I had three kids, bought a house, and I successfully worked my way from absolute legal scut-work to a dream in-house job. The Friends crew just sat around and drank coffee. I couldn't relate to them anymore. So I didn't waste any time on their big finale.

    Luckily, I didn't miss much, and the Llamabutchers have all the gory details. Be sure to read Steve's proposal for how the finale should have been done as an episode of Law and Order:SVU. Give that man a TV series!

    Posted by JohnL at 10:21 PM | Comments (1) |
    May 02, 2004

    12 Questions (and Answers)

    Via Snooze Button Dreams, I came across some random questions from Ted's daughter, Mookie.

    Here are the questions restated with my answers:

    1. Middle Name?
    2. Favorite Animal?
    My new dog, Jake
    3. If you were to go on a deserted island for 10 years, and you could take 1 person and 3 items, what would you take?
    Person: My wife: tough, resourceful, smart, and gorgeous too!
    Items: Versatile knife, mess kit, stocked tackle box

    4. What’s your favorite food?
    Steak, medium rare (sirloin or ribeye)
    5. Who’s your favorite band?
    6. Who’s your favorite person?
    My wife
    7. How old are you?
    8. Where do you live?
    Plano, Texas
    9. What’s your favorite type of Ice Cream?
    Blue Bell's Tin Roof
    10. What’s your favorite family tradition?
    Christmas morning treasure hunt for baby Jesus (my wife and I kidnap him from our nativity scene and hide him, leaving a series of written clues to lead the kids to him)
    11. Do you have a job? If so where?
    Yes; in-house lawyer at a nearby telecom company
    12. What’s your dream car?
    Acura RSX-S or TSX, in either case 6-speed manual (i.e., a souped-up version of my current car, a Honda Accord)

    Posted by JohnL at 11:25 PM | Comments (0) |
    April 28, 2004

    That Was Me With "Halo"

    Today's Get Fuzzy (one of my favorite comic strips) displays the effects of video game addiction.

    While Rob is playing Rugby in the strip, that was me with Halo just a few months ago.

    Hmm. Wonder if there's a Rugby game for Xbox? Yes. (Thanks, Amazon). Maybe I'll have to check that out.

    Posted by JohnL at 06:32 PM | Comments (3) |
    April 27, 2004

    Facehugger Toy

    I've seen this charming toy at several sites, but most recently at the Llama Butchers' place.

    Posted by JohnL at 11:07 PM | Comments (0) |
    April 26, 2004

    Princess Bride Quiz

    Westley / The Dread Pirate Roberts

    Which Princess Bride Character are You?
    this quiz was made by mysti

    Posted by JohnL at 10:52 PM | Comments (1) |
    April 21, 2004

    Skateboarding Dog

    Via Catallarchy, a funny video of a skateboarding dog. (Click the picture to open the video).

    Posted by JohnL at 10:20 PM | Comments (0) |
    April 19, 2004

    Certified 29% Geek

    You are 29% geek
    You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.
    Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

    You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

    Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

    You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

    Take the Polygeek Quiz at

    (Hat tip: The Llama Butchers).

    Posted by JohnL at 10:15 PM | Comments (1) |

    Yet More Paper Models

    Fred Kiesche at The Eternal Golden Braid seems to share many of the same passions as I do - space, SF, Legos, and models.

    Late last week he linked to a page of assembled paper models that look nothing like paper (see, e.g., this version of the M-41 pulse rifle from Aliens).

    Posted by JohnL at 09:54 PM | Comments (0) |
    April 15, 2004

    Page 23 Quiz

    OK, Mr. Sandefur has done it, as have the Llamabutchers (tho' their quiz had to do with page 18).

    1. Grab the nearest book.
    2. Open the book to page 23.
    3. Find the fifth sentence.
    4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

    As with Mr. Sandefur, we have many books in the study here, so I grabbed the first one at eye level to my right off the bookshelf: "It is this exhaust steam blowing up through the stack which makes the familiar choo-choo-choo-choo sound of a locomotive." Morgan, Alfred. The Boys' Book of Engines, Motors and Turbines. (1946, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York).

    Let's try again, but this time off the left bookshelf: "No wonder Tep had taken them north so slowly!" Rutherfurd, Edward. Sarum. (1987, Crown Publishers, New York).

    Posted by JohnL at 11:25 PM | Comments (1) |
    April 13, 2004

    I Want One

    Via Popular Science, a car that's a boat.

    Very cool.

    (Hat tip: Gravity Lens)

    Posted by JohnL at 11:28 PM | Comments (0) |
    April 12, 2004

    I Should Write For Slate

    I just read this article at Slate about Bob Dylan's new role as Victoria's Secret pitchman.

    Seems familiar, no?

    Posted by JohnL at 11:59 PM | Comments (0) |
    April 09, 2004

    Actuarial Jokes

    As a lawyer, I am accustomed to some good lawyer jokes.

    But I never knew there were actuarial jokes.


    Posted by JohnL at 11:00 PM | Comments (7) |
    April 08, 2004

    Bob Dylan Knows Victoria's Secret

    So Bob Dylan is the new pitchman for Victoria's Secret.

    In the new ads, his face is intercut with shots of Brazilian model Adriana Lima cavorting in a bra and the [ridiculous] VS trademark angel wings. You can watch a video of the ad here.

    Bob Dylan's voice and face are two things I'd rather not associate with sexy lingerie, thank you very much. I much preferred the "What is Sexy" campaign (about which Jonah Goldberg had a few entertaining words).

    I also think they got the wrong Brazilian supermodel. They should have gone with this blog author's previously-noted favorite, Alessandra Ambrosio, who looks a lot cuter and lacks the awful collagen trout pout that so many models and actresses, including Lima, have these days.

    (Confession - I cribbed the title of this post from this Swiss article -- Bob Dylan kennt Victorias Geheimnis -- about the Dylan spot. Don't you love the Internet?)

    Posted by JohnL at 11:59 PM | Comments (1) |
    April 05, 2004

    I Already Knew This. . .

    Grammar God!
    You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

    If your mission in life is not already to
    preserve the English tongue, it should be.
    Congratulations and thank you!

    How grammatically sound are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Posted by JohnL at 08:24 PM | Comments (0) |
    March 22, 2004

    Rapper Ice Cube Knighted

    He wrote these lyrics to celebrate the momentous occasion:

    Ima muthaf***in G straight out the west,
    you be throwin up signs, I be throwin up my crest.

    Ol' b**** in London knew I was nice,
    I f***ed that b**** till she called me Sir Ice.

    Comin' atcha head with my double-edged steel,
    you f***ed up n****, now you gotsta kneel.

    Ice Cube comin' straight out over the ocean,
    now the queen b**** wants the three-wheel motion.

    Used ta carry guns, now I gots a sword,
    Sir Cube comin' straight out tha psycho ward.

    (It's satire, people. Via McSweeney's).

    Posted by JohnL at 10:14 PM | Comments (3) |
    March 18, 2004

    Another Model Site

    I built an Enterprise model much like this one when I was a kid.

    I also had a phaser and communicator set, but not as nice as these. Wish I hadn't thrown them away.

    Am I mistaken or does this Captain Kirk look a bit like President Bush?

    Posted by JohnL at 11:53 PM | Comments (0) |

    An Olde But Goode One

    The Hokey Pokey (by W. Shakespeare(*)):

    O proud left foot, that ventures quick within
    Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
    Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
    Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.

    Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke,
    A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
    To spin! A wilde release from Heavens yoke.
    Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.

    The Hoke, the poke -- banish now thy doubt
    Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about.

    (*) Actually, by Jeff Brechlin, 2003

    (Hat tip: William Gibson's archives)

    Posted by JohnL at 09:55 PM | Comments (0) |


    First you take 3 chickens. Then you cook them (and, presumably, eat them).

    Save the bones and make an Apatosaurus skeleton.

    When you're done, cook some more chickens and build a T-Rex.

    (Hat tip: Signal+Noise via Jay Manifold).

    Posted by JohnL at 09:39 PM | Comments (0) |
    March 17, 2004

    Paper Models

    Rocket Jones has collated in a single post multiple sources (including one referenced by yours truly) of aviation-and-space-themed paper models. Check it out.

    Thanks for the link, Ted.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:48 PM | Comments (0) |
    March 08, 2004

    Quodnam Elogium Latinum Alienum Es Tu?

    If you only knew the power of the dark side.

    Postatem obscuri lateris nescitis. ("You do not know the power of the Dark Side.")

    There are two possibilities: you are a Star Wars geek, or you are unreasoningly scary.

    Which Weird Latin Phrase Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    The best thing about this quiz is that it came from an old friend I haven't heard from in a few years.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:07 PM | Comments (0) |
    March 03, 2004

    Dutch Treat

    This Dutch website has numerous printable plans for making paper space models (rockets, satellites, and even a Mars rover).

    Hours of fun for a rainy day.

    (Via Hobbyspace).

    Posted by JohnL at 08:37 PM | Comments (0) |
    March 02, 2004

    Get Religiously Fuzzy

    With all the heavy-duty religion going back and forth in the newspapers, on TV, and over the 'net these days, it's fun to see some bad puns and general irreverence on the comics page.

    The psychotic Siamese Bucky has invented a new religion at Get Fuzzy. Yesterday's and today's entries made me laugh out loud. Enjoy.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:20 PM | Comments (0) |
    February 27, 2004

    My Star Trek Race

    You're a Human!
    You're a Human! Inquisitive and mellow, you're an
    explorer at heart.

    What Star Trek Race Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    (Hat tip: Llamabutchers).

    Posted by JohnL at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) |
    February 23, 2004

    I, [am] Claudius

    You're not the fool everyone takes you for. You put on a show to stay under the radar. Underneath your bumbling exterior, you are a shrewd and calculating person. You don't enjoy being in the spotlight, but you can take charge if absolutely neccessary. But trust no one, not even your best friend, because you never know who might betray you.
    You were portrayed by Derek Jacobi.
    Which I, Claudius Character are You? created by Shiny Objects

    Hat tip: Dappled Things

    Posted by JohnL at 10:32 PM | Comments (0) |
    February 21, 2004

    SciFi LEGOs

    Variations on a theme tonight. More Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek, as realized in LEGOs. I couldn't find any Buck Rogers fan LEGO models, though.

    Posted by JohnL at 12:06 AM | Comments (0) |
    February 04, 2004

    While I'm At It. . .

    Here is the visited countries map:

    create your own visited country map or check out these Google Hacks.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:30 PM | Comments (0) |

    Visited States Map

    Everyone else seems to be doing these, so here's mine:

    create your own visited states map or check out these Google Hacks.

    (Tim Sandefur's map was the last straw. There are some great places to see in all of the states he has missed).

    Posted by JohnL at 09:26 PM | Comments (0) |
    February 03, 2004

    Another Silly Quiz



    If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Celeborn, Elf, King of Lothlorien, husband of Galadriel and grandfather of Arwen.

    In the movie, I am played by Marton Csokas.

    Who would you be?
    Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test with Perseus Web Survey Software

    Posted by JohnL at 09:51 PM | Comments (0) |

    Flatulent Televangelist

    Some of you may remember Robert Tilton, the smarmy televangelist who used to broadcast from Carrollton, Texas (just a 'burb or two over from here).

    A good friend of mine in Iowa sent me this hilarious video of Tilton at his slimy best, with some extra sound effects. Warning -- make sure you do not have any drink in your mouth while viewing this. I will not be held responsible for any damage to monitors or keyboards if you disregard this warning.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:30 PM | Comments (0) |
    January 29, 2004


    The guys at SFSignal found Neave games, where you can find a true-to-the-original version of Asteroids, right down to the cheesy sound effects.

    Neave also has ports of Space Invaders, Pac Man, and Tetris. I love modern gaming technology, and enjoy the many hours I have devoted to beating Halo on my Xbox. But it sure is fun to revisit some of these classics from the past.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:21 PM | Comments (0) |
    January 27, 2004


    Thanks to a link found by Alan Brain, here's how my [old Blogspot - ed.] content would look as Fox News.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:37 PM | Comments (0) |
    January 26, 2004

    More Cool Optical Illusions

    I read about this site in the January issue of Wired. If you have a weak stomach, you may want to take some Dramamine first.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:01 PM | Comments (0) |
    January 21, 2004

    Stormtrooper Chic

    I've gotta admit. This looks like a fun project.

    Found via this guy's site.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:02 PM | Comments (0) |
    January 19, 2004

    Use the Force

    Outstanding student film. Nice twist at the end. Via SFSignal.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:31 PM | Comments (0) |

    Dancing Robots

    I meant to link to this last week, when I first saw it on Geekpress.

    Amazing. Kitschy. Fun. The QRIO.

    Posted by JohnL at 08:57 PM | Comments (0) |
    January 08, 2004

    Awful Album Covers

    What were these people thinking?

    Posted by JohnL at 09:16 PM | Comments (0) |
    January 07, 2004

    More LEGOs

    This time, from SFSignal.


    Posted by JohnL at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) |
    January 06, 2004

    Speaking of Halo. . .

    Here are some really cool LEGO models based on the best XBOX game so far (waiting for Halo 2!)

    Posted by JohnL at 10:28 PM | Comments (0) |
    December 22, 2003

    Ringworld Animation

    One of the first major adult (non-juvenile) SF novels I read (at the age of 12, I think) was Larry Niven's Ringworld.

    If you've played Halo, you've gotten to run around on a small ringworld. This Flash animation (via the Larry Niven mailing list) conveys a little bit more of the grand scale of the "real" Ringworld. Enjoy.

    Posted by JohnL at 05:25 PM | Comments (0) |
    December 09, 2003


    I wonder if Rocket Man has ever seen this?

    If you have sat through many episodes of Pokemon, Digimon, or Yu-Gi-Oh, you should definitely grok this.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:10 PM | Comments (0) |

    States of Mind

    Dallas resident Virginia Postrel is California Dreamin'.

    Me, well, I guess I'm on a Rocky Mountain High:

    Colorado is your state. If you don't already live
    there, you should. Lots of tourists...just
    ignore them. If you can take the cold winters,
    you'll be just fine there.
    What State Is Perfect For You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Of course as a native Texan, it's my duty to point out that the Republic of Texas owned a goodly part of Colorado at one time (especially some of my favorite scenery in the San Juans in the southwest corner of the state).

    Posted by JohnL at 09:05 PM | Comments (0) |
    December 03, 2003

    Fritter and Waste the Hours in an Offhand Way. . .

    Another link (via the Volokh conspiracy) to an Internet slacker game: Mr. Piccasohead.


    Posted by JohnL at 11:13 PM | Comments (0) |
    November 20, 2003

    Another Optical Illusion Page

    This page has more fun illusions.

    And they are annotated to explain how they work. Enjoy.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:31 PM | Comments (0) |

    Chemistry Humor

    Form Arsole to Clitorin, you'll find your funny molecule names here.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:10 PM | Comments (0) |

    Get to Work

    You aren't being paid to believe in the power of your dreams.

    (Lots of other cynical twists on the "motivational poster" genre here).

    Posted by JohnL at 09:07 PM | Comments (0) |

    Trinity of Trek Tunes

    Lileks has completed his mp3 trilogy of the three great Star Trek:TOS characters.

    First, it was Doctor Poppycock (McCoy).

    Then, Captain Clanton (Kirk).

    Now, Spock gets his turn in Your Agonizer Please.


    Posted by JohnL at 08:23 PM | Comments (1) |
    November 19, 2003

    Comical Matters

    Today's Foxtrot puts in a subtle plug for Darwinism.

    I think Carl Zimmer would approve.

    Foxtrot is one of my daily "must-reads," along with Get Fuzzy, Dilbert, and the Norm.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:45 PM | Comments (0) |

    A Picture of Everything

    Via Alan Brain, you can see a picture of everything here.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:37 PM | Comments (0) |
    November 14, 2003

    Professor Cheesecake

    Ok, we all know that this Professor likes to post some cheesecake on his blog every now and then.

    But this Professor?

    Good way to get some attention. . .

    Coming soon, the XXX prize.

    Posted by JohnL at 12:11 AM | Comments (0) |
    November 11, 2003

    A More Serious Quiz

    What economic school are you a member of? Take the Ludwig von Mises Institute Quiz here. I got a score of 78 out of 100. I chose the "Austrian" answer 15 times, the "Chicago" answer eight times, and the Keynesian-Neoclassical answer twice. (Scoring = 4 points per Austrian answer, 2 points per Chicago answer, 1 point per Keynesian-Neoclassical answer, and 0 points per Socialist answer).

    Posted by JohnL at 10:25 PM | Comments (0) |

    Being William Gibson

    William Gibson
    William Gibson wrote your book. Technology
    terrifies and delights you.
    Which Author's Fiction are You?
    brought to you by QuizillaBummer (sort of). I was hoping to be Heinlein. It was my taste in beer (not booze) and women that apparently made the difference here.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:00 PM | Comments (0) |
    November 03, 2003

    Optical Illusions

    Here is a nice collection of more than 30 optical illusions.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:21 PM | Comments (0) |
    October 31, 2003

    Which Halloween Character Am I?

    Hello, my happy friend. You have high spirits and
    know how to have a good time. When your friends
    go out, most likely they invite you almost all
    the time. You most likely will enjoy your
    Halloween. Good for you. Keep up the
    experiment. You probably light people's dark
    days with your smiles and laughter. Although
    you're good, doesn't mean you're an angel. You
    can tend to have a scary and/or other type of
    side to you. As long as you have fun, do your
    scares this Halloween. Have a safe and happy
    one, Joyous Pumpkin.

    What Halloween Figure Are You? (Fun Quiz! MANY RESULTS!)
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Posted by JohnL at 10:24 PM | Comments (0) |

    Halloween Spirits

    The sharp eyes of Dave Barry (actually, one of his readers) spot this.

    Makes me think of the Great Pumpkin.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:10 PM | Comments (0) |

    The Crying Gameshow

    Via Gene Expression.

    "Miriam" is fairly convincing.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:06 PM | Comments (0) |
    October 30, 2003

    Which Greek God Am I?


    ?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
    brought to you by Quizilla

    My answers to questions 1, 4, and 5 remained constant. Trying my second choice to numbers 2 and 3 made me Morpheus.

    Posted by JohnL at 10:20 PM | Comments (0) |
    October 29, 2003

    Lego Relativity

    Very cool rendering of Escher's relativity here.

    (Via Josh Cohen).

    Posted by JohnL at 09:45 PM | Comments (0) |
    October 28, 2003

    Certified 50% Evil (Or Good!)

    Via the numerology of the Gematriculator, this site was certified 50% Evil (or Good) as of the time of posting.

    For the sake of comparison:

    Instapundit: 31% Evil, 69% Good
    The White House: 67% Evil, 33% Good
    Freedom From Religion Foundation: 15% Evil, 85% Good

    And, interestingly enough:
    The Vatican: 1% Evil, 99% Good

    Posted by JohnL at 11:52 PM | Comments (0) |

    Quite an Awful Eyeful

    Via Virginia Postrel, a site devoted to awful plastic surgery.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:44 PM | Comments (0) |
    October 27, 2003

    Squirrel Tag

    Here. (Via The Corner).

    Posted by JohnL at 10:50 PM | Comments (0) |
    October 12, 2003

    More Good News From Dallas

    Yes, Mr. Phelps, it does appear that we have a coach.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:50 PM | Comments (0) |
    October 10, 2003


    One of my favorite parts of the movie Contact was the long, slow, "zoom" scene at the beginning.

    Here is a website that allows you to zoom your perspective in and out by powers of 10. Don't explore here if you have feelings of insignificance when you
    contemplate the scope of the Cosmos.

    Update: Reminds me of the Total Perspective Vortex.

    Posted by JohnL at 09:43 PM | Comments (0) |

    Wonko the Sane Would Approve

    Do you like Escher? Listen to this while reading this.

    (You might take a shot or two of this, first, too).

    Posted by JohnL at 09:29 PM | Comments (0) |
    October 05, 2003

    Fonzie on Water Skis

    It's always sad to see it happen. I was afraid last season that Alias jumped the shark when Sydney and Vaughn hooked up ("They Did It"), and even more certain once Sydney became a regular CIA agent instead of a double agent (the Alliance is destroyed).

    The first couple of episodes this season have now confirmed my fears. Consider the shark jumped.

    Update: My brilliant wife just pointed out the continuity error from the cliffhanger episode last season to the premier this season. Last season, the old CIA station director (the bald guy) took the call from Sydney when she woke up in Hong Kong. But he is nowhere to be seen this season, and Dixon is now the director. Remember -- in show time, there was no delay between the cliffhanger and this season.

    Update: Just watched the end of tonight's episode. You've got to be kidding. The new character is Mrs. Vaughn??

    ***SPROING*** That was my suspension of disbelief completely and finally snapping.

    Posted by JohnL at 08:40 PM | Comments (0) |