There Is No Cat

A huge orangupoid, which no man can conquer

Saturday, July 30, 2005

What's yellow and dangerous?

We are made:

The two mice sniffed irritably around the fragments of their glass transports where they lay shattered on the floor. "Damnation," muttered Frankie mouse, "all that fuss over two pounds of Earthling brain." He scuttled round and about, his pink eyes flashing, his fine white coat bristling with static. "The only thing we can do now," said Benjy, crouching and stroking his whiskers in thought, "is to try and fake a question, invent one that will sound plausible."

"Difficult," said Frankie. He thought. "How about What's yellow and dangerous?"

Benjy considered this for a moment.

"No, no good," he answered. "Doesn't fit the answer."

They sank into silence for a few seconds.

"Alright," said Benjy. "What do you get if you multiply six by seven?"

"No, no, too literal, too factual," said Frankie, "wouldn't sustain the punters' interest."

Again they thought.

Then Frankie said, "Here's a thought. How many roads must a man walk down?"

"Ah!" said Benjy. "Aha, now that does sound promising!" He rolled the phrase around a little. "Yes," he said, "that's excellent! Sounds very significant without actually tying you down to meaning anything at all. How many roads must a man walk down? Forty-two. Excellent, excellent, that'll fox 'em. Frankie, baby, we are made!"

They performed a scampering dance in their excitement.

-- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Posted at 6:28 AM
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I forgot!

I'm just waiting for the day when one of Dubya's minions quotes Steve Martin's classic routine: "I forgot armed robbery was illegal...."

Posted at 12:36 AM
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Running Bear loved Little White Dove

One thing that's really nice about the house we live in is the profusion of wildlife that makes its way through out back yard. I've seen deer, racoons, possums, rabbits, ducks, chipmunks, squirrels and a ton of birds. One thing I haven't seen yet is a bear.

(I want to know what he was doing at the racetrack, and if he won anything on his bets that day....)

Posted at 3:27 PM
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A happy day

I just want to say congratulations to my brother and his lovely fiancee on the purchase of their new house. Huzzah! Power tools for everyone!

Posted at 2:41 PM
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Monday, July 25, 2005

New look

I got tired of the old design. It had been up for exactly a year (I didn't realize that it was exactly a year when I started doing this this weekend), and it was looking ugly to me. So, simplify. Aspects of the old design that I liked, like the blobs around the headings, stayed, although the colors are different. The background is still kind of wacky mid-century modern, but not quite so atomic and cluttered.

Some of the changes are under the hood. I liked the "Now playing" feature on pjm's Flashes of Panic, so I added something similar. Some took a combination of under-the-hood and cosmetic, for example the list of archives in the right column. After 3+ years, that list was getting awfully long. So now, using a combination of CSS and Javascript, only the current year is automatically exposed; previous years can be shown by clicking on the year, which then lists the months, similar to how the Finder in Mac OS X or the Explorer in Windows works. I also added a random selection of taglines just under the header. There are only three there at the moment, but I can add and delete them as I wish.

I'll probably be doing some more work under the hood in coming weeks, to add things like support for enclosures so I can podcast if I want. But I was really sick of the old look, so I wanted to get this up as soon as possible. I hope you like it. Let me know in the comments if you have any problems with it.

Posted at 12:29 PM
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Sunday, July 17, 2005

A big black box

Interesting article in today's Asbury Park Press about the Bell Labs building in Holmdel, where I worked for several years, which Lucent has recently decided to offer for sale. The building was designed by seminal modernist architect Eero Saarinen (who, interestingly, also designed the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, where my father worked as a young man), and according to the article in the Press, was home of some interesting architectural innovations. I always had mixed feeling about the building myself; there's only one window office in the entire building, carved out in the 1970s for Bell Labs president Ian Ross up on the sixth floor (as designed, there weren't any). The offices could feel kind of impersonal; I preferred some of the other buildings AT&T (pre-trivestiture) had in the area as a result. But at least there were individual offices, something that Lucent started to do away with in the late 1990s before the bubble burst. But it's also a very impressive building.

I always felt that the siting of the building was brilliant. It's hidden by trees until you reach the entrance by the giant transistor, at which point it appears off in the distance, a huge black monolith. As designed, the fountain in front of the building added to the mystique, shrouding the building in mist at first glance. It made for a very imposing first impression, much like the boss with a long office with a door at one end and a desk at the other, the sort of thing that makes for a long, awe-inspiring entrance. They don't run the fountain these days, and haven't for several years. The approach to the building is long enough that there was long an informal "game" where people would try to get their cars up to 100 mph on the approach. At least once in my years there, a car failed to negotiate the turn at the end of the approach and wound up in the fountain. And yet, for all the solidity the building projects from far away, once you get close to it, it almost disappears into the landscape and sky because of the mirrored glass. That's a neat trick.

AT&T bought the Holmdel property in the 1920s. Before the iconic building was constructed in the early 1960s, the property had smaller buildings on it. One important scientific breakthrough there in those days was the development by Karl Jansky of the science of radioastronomy. A few years ago, a Bell Labs scientist researched through the archives and found exactly where Jansky's pioneering research was done. Today, there's a small replica of his antenna standing on the exact location of the original. Not far from the Holmdel building stands a much smaller building, home of the radio telescope where the first proof of the Big Bang was heard, some residual static from the expansion that Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson couldn't explain away any other way. You can hear a recording of the remnants of the Big Bang there.

There's a lot of important scientific history involved with Bell Labs' presence in Holmdel. I would be sorry to see it end. I'm pleased to see in the Press article that the town of Holmdel has no intention of letting homes be built on the property; 427 acres in the middle of Holmdel, one of the toniest communities in Monmouth County, would hold an awful lot of McMansions.

Posted at 11:26 PM
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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Fox shocks

We all know that Fox sucks. It's just kind of a given. But even with the constant regular fellation of George Bush, the knee jerk attacks on Bill Clinton even years after he's out of office, and everything else, once in a while, even Fox can shock. This time, Fox has gone beyond the pale. This time, Fox dissed Ernie Harwell.

Posted at 11:16 AM
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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Decline and fall

The recent announcement that once-great Detroit has fallen out of the list of the ten largest cities in the country seems to have drawn the reporters out of the woodwork. Today's New York Times has an article about the mayor's race there; I don't know enough about the current mayor to have an opinion, but he sure sounds like a mixed bag going by this article. Sadder, in light of the baseball All Star Game being played in Detroit at the Tigers' new stadium on Tuesday, is this article about the fate of their previous home, Tiger Stadium. I would love to see the stadium developed in some way that maintains its old character. I saw a bunch of baseball games there as a kid, and I would hate to see it torn down. But then, I guess that's part of the problem; nobody wants to tear it down, but nobody has come up with another good idea for it. So there it sits, quietly crumbling to dust, which is probably the worst thing of all.

Posted at 9:12 AM
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Friday, July 8, 2005

Mark your calendar

Oh damn! June was National Accordion Awareness Month, and I missed it!

Next year for sure.... (via Executive Slacks)

Posted at 10:32 PM
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This site is copyright © 2002-2017, Ralph Brandi. (E-mail address removed due to virus proliferation.)

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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