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The Indefinite Article.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year from the Fredas!


Wow, I can't believe how quickly this year has gone by. And what a strange year it has been. The strangest thing for me has been that I have now officially spent an entire year in Texas. Actually, this is the first time since I got out of university that I have spent an entire year in the United States...

Anyhow, here are some of my favorites from 2004:

Favorite Book Read In 2004
The Diamod Age by Neil Stephenson.

Favorite Movie Seen in 2004
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Favorite General Food Item
Enchiladas. I re-discovered enchiladas. I love them. With red-sauce or green-sauce or mole-sauce or orange-chipotle, or whatever. Enchiladas.

Favorite Mode of Transportation

Favorite Song or Album
Definitely my brother's album. I am so proud of him! And all filial bias aside, the music is great!

Favorite Web Application Framework
Ruby on Rails. This framework kicks ass! Elegant. Comphrehensive. Flexible.

Favorite Coffee Shop Activity Besides Reading and Drawing
Doing the New York Times Crossword puzzle

Favorite Breakfast Item
An English Muffin With Butter and Jam

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Checkout this story about a project to build a mega-highway through Texas!

The Winged Beetle

When i saw this i thought to myself, "...i wonder how much of a mileage increase those souped up Honda Civics get with those outrageous spoilers?"

Wednesday, December 29, 2004



I want to donate some money to the disaster relief effort ...

but to what organization? Any reason to choose Red Cross/Crescent over Medecins Sans Frontieres?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

More Newer music?

Epitonic + Low = Good

Monday, December 27, 2004

Did it really snow in Houston?

I want fotos or video. I need proof. That is just amazing! And wonderful! Did it snow in Austin too?

a b

Josh Rubin: Cool Hunting: Violight

It is so funny I see this: Josh Rubin: Cool Hunting: Violight when I was just thinking it would be cool to have dish cabinets with UV bulbs in it to kill germs.

Civil Defense

My battery wouldn't start the engine when we were leaving Shreveport and everybody told me to replace it rather than risk it not starting again. Since the Beetle was loaded up with all of our luggage and enough Christmas jazz for a two city tour, I stayed with it at the Sears automotive center outside of Mall St. Vincent. It took about an hour and a half and I stood outside the garage watching the mechanics tinker with it (they were busy that day and replacing anything in the Beetle is a hassle). One of the things I saw was a sign marking the auto shop as a fallout shelter.

I think that I've been passively curious about fallout shelters since I was in grade school and the public school where we had soccer practice had a sign for one. Looking at the sign on the Sears, my curiosity started to grow. What exactly qualifies something as a fallout shelter? Is there some remnant government organization that maintains the network? How were these things funded? Who owns them? What laws or regulations govern their access and use? My assumption is that none or few are wheelchair accessible, if there is an ongoing government program, are they working to make fallout shelters accessible? In my first Google search, I found civildefensemuseum.com, which seems to consist of one guy in the Dallas area.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Graphing Calculator Story

The Graphing Calculator Story: "In turn, I told people that I was reporting to him. Since that left no managers in the loop, we had no meetings and could be extremely productive."

This is such a lovely story. it is a pity that I didn't get around to reading it when Slashdot linked to it a while back.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas Everyone

It snowed in Houston today, but my first thought was not, "Hey, it's snowing!" My first thought was, "Hey, it's raining snow!"

By the way, if you open the photo in a new window, you can see a larger version of the xmas card.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Manuok Video

Hey folks check this video (give it a few seconds to download and then double-click) that my brother's record company put together. I am so proud of him!!!

Also, has anybody seen any episodes of the The Office? My word, is it funny and sad...

The Ghost of Christmas Future


Do crazy people see true things that people who aren't crazy do not? Can they see a person's aura? can they see me how i will be tomorrow? or how i have been? is each crazy person imbued with a particular vision?

He was an old man wearing reindeer antlers with blinking lights on them. I was standing on the corner of lamar and main waiting for my bus. Loose groups form at bus stops; those with common busses tend to huddle together and share idle conversation. As soon as i had arrived on the corner i had taken a long look down the opposite end of the lamar. There is a pattern, i realized, I look for. There is a particular look to the road if it is jammed up wtih busses and the cars that are swerving around them to get out of downtown quickest. The road was nearly empty. The near huddle of cars was three blocks away and i couldn't see the tops of any busses peeking from behind them.

I relaxed a little bit and retreated under the eaves of the corner building. I put my backpack down beside me and stretched my shoulders. "You look tired," she said, "got all your shopping done yet?"

"No," i replied, "that's why i look like this"

We shared xmas stories from how my son is learning not to touch teh glass ornaments on our xmas tree to shopping till the last minute. It was during this small talk that the busses started to pile up at the distant lights. I picked up my backpack which, in a very subliminal way, is an indication for everyone to get ready. And if you were above us, watching our little ant bodies, you would see the loosely organized clusters gently start to move, to rock back and forth from under the eave to the edge of the curb. look closer and you would see most everyone squinting down street trying to decipher the green marquee dots that sit along the top of the buses.

The first bus to show up is an express bus. The express group gathered their bags and started to shuffle up to the curb while it was still sitting at a red light a block away. At the curb at the end of a loose line that was beginning to form, a man was taking a long last drag on his cigarrette before he tossed it. And from nowhere a small old bearded man ran up to him and pointed at his cigarrette. It caught my attention only becuase of how insistent and determined he seemed to be. I thought for only a brief second that he was asking to borrow a cigarrette. In a flash, though, the man handed the nearly new cigarrette to the old man and boarded the bus.

I thought i heard an mmm-mmm from his beard as he puffed several quick clouds of smoke from his beard. I looked back down at the book i carried with me. He came and stodd in front of me and adjusted the antlers he had on his head. He mumbled something, or maybe i was really not listening.

"Excuse me?"

"Are my lights flashing?"

I looked up to and saw the red and green lights flashing on his antlers. "Yes, they are," i replied. He shook his eyes and kinda grinned and took a big drag. He was downwind from me so the smoke trailed behind him like a train engine but i could still smell the old smoke in his corteroy jacket, and the tar that had stained his white beard.

He had the same body as my father-in-law. His skin was folded around his hands the way the blankets look when you don't make your bed. He stood maybe 5 to 6 inches shorter than me, so it wasn't immediately that i noticed that he had put his fist out to me. I tapped his fist with my own and figured that if i continued to read he would simply walk away. He didn't of course, and i was ready with my, "I'm sorry, i don't carry cash," (i don't) response. These days i always think of Amber who will offer street people a laundry list of shelters and help centers when they ask for money.

Instead, he said, "Do you know who loves you more than me?"

"A lot of people, i think.," i replied sarcastically.

"No. Him," and he motioned with his eyes and his hands skyward, "Do you know why?"

"I really don't know," i replied honestly.

"Because he wants your soul!" He was just staring at me and was standing close. i felt myself backing up slightly. "You're going to die. You're going to die. You're going to die." I thought it was odd that he would say it three times. "Are you going to heaven?"

"I assume so." I tried to exude some sort of confidence or aggressiveness. It must have worked, because with that response he shrugged his shoulders and walked off. Normal encounters with street people don't really phase me this way, but today was a spectacularly normal day. The kind of day that i will never remember in a million years. The kind of day that will simply melt into the year that was 2004 when someone asks me about the time i lived in Houston, or the time that i spent taking the bus to and from work. So when his yellow and white wrinkled face was parked in front of mine for that brief time, it seemed extraordinary as if by providence.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Google Suggest Dissected...

Holy shit this is cool: "Chris Justus - Server Side Guy: Google Suggest Dissected..."

Recently, I've started learning more about JavaScript. I used to think of it as a kludge for creating "interactivity" (i.e. rollovers), or spawning advertising windows you can't close without shutting down the browsers, and various things that only worked if you had a specific operating system. Gmail started to change that outlook and Google Suggest and my exploration into how Google AdWords works has completely turned it around. I haven't even seen Google Suggest in action, or maybe I did. Today when I opened up my new Gmail account I started to type a list of todo items to email to my mac.com email account and when I went to type in my email address, it suggested my mac.com address and filled it in for me, just as if I were using a desktop client! At first I was freaked out, but then I realized that I had given it to them when I signed up. They had just thoughtfully added it to the Gmail address book and the suggest tool looked it up for me. Fantastic!

The Nice People at the White Stripes.

I have a CD printer. You Know the kind that prints on CDs.
There are various off shore websites that you can download the art that is on the Audio CD's you buy from the store.
The One big draw back of buying albums from itunes is that YES you get the Jacket Cover. but the Actual Cd you print is
either generic VERBATIM or just plain white, the color of printable cds.
So you either create your own cd art work which is cool sometimes but sometimes not.
The Point is the nice people at the White Stripes official website post All of the printed material
that comes inside a store bought cd.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Hello my friends.

Hello to you all.

It has been a too long seperation. I have not even looked at the blog in some time.
I have wanted to speak so much with each of you and I keep my distance.

It has been too long indeed.

I mostly don't know what to say.

I am here at work. I am behind on my deadlines.
The girls are in West Virginia, I will be joining them on the 22nd.
Work is work.

The time is going by so much. Where am I.
I read the posts and see you guys in proximity to each other.
I don't know why the fuck I have placed so much distance between myself and those I love.
I am not hear for all dour reasons, even though the miss I feel is large and tangible.

The holidays are upon us.
I want to say so much and all of my typing is not getting at the heart of it.
what to say, what to say.

I am going to the indoor skatepark tonight, brought my stuff with me so I can leave right from work.
I am gonna go up to the Mountain this weekend and go snowboarding.

Last nite, I was scanning pages Hannah put together for a book for Laura for chrstmas. While I waited for the scanner to scan, I pulled down a sketch book from when I first got up here. First of all I have to admit that I love to look at my own drawings almost best of all. Drawing and writing thoughts down that are elicited by the drawings, that is something that seems like time well spent. To hold a whole book of pages all filled with things that I saw and things I imagined.
I think one of the best things is haveing no preconceived ideas, when things are most pure, the blank page draws out that which is inside. I have been trying to teach myself new ways of working since I am paid to be "creative" but looking back at how I work when it is done in the same mode as putting on my shoes before I go outside, there is a feeling that arises, a smile afloat on tears.
like the whole of a person in order.

This is not really going anywhere.
just me reconnecting with my friends.
I can tell by how the tiny letters on my screen arrange themselves. I can tell that a familiar hand was at work somewhere crafting a voice in a silent medium. I can feel the letters together to make a smile and a slight turn of the head, suggesting an understanding that comes with a shared history. Like two bubbles connected by a straw. Letters formed into words, all that thinking and feeling shaped for travel, shaped to hold and wait, and release. I feel you all with me looking over my shoulder.

Does anyone want to go with me to the Mountain this weekend?
Or the skatepark tonight?

I miss those girls.
All the noise and chaos gone out of my day.
It's quiet.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

UPDATE: There are few things that are more difficult or heart wrenching than having to put two drops, three times a day into your 2 year-old son's eyes. This is the most difficult thing about Pink Eye, which is a misnomer. It should actually be called, "Yellow-pus-ee-squirting-morning-crusty eye."

Pink Eye Blues

Adolfo was diagnosed with pink eye last night, so i am home today. In a way this is good; i can try and clean up the house in between activities with adolfo. he's in his room right now, spilling out his ABC's on the floor.

I wish it wasn't raining, then at least i could take him outside and tire him out for his nap this afternoon ... looks like it'll be a lot of 'chase me!' today.

Carol & Killy

May I have your home mailing address & current e-mails, por favor? Also, do you have a home phone # -- I only have your cell. You can e-mail me at ambant@earthlink.net

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Finding Applications

This morning I wanted to send someone a screenshot of a long web page. I didn't want the printed goofiness of printing to pdf. I knew there was an app it tried out before and I could find the png I made with a long web page with it. However, I coulnd't remember it's name. How can I know the function of each of the 150 or so applications in my computer? Answer: Google Search: "mac os x" png screenshot september

It this just an "Adolph is crazy" question, or do other people have this problem? I want to be able to query the executables on my computer and ask: who does what? who can do this? who does the same thing? who takes the least resources to product the same product?

Mac Forums - OS X 10.3.7 This Week?

Looks like there may be another 10.3 Update: Mac Forums - OS X 10.3.7 This Week?
I haven't even updated to 10.3.6 yet. I wonder if the 10.3 series will get up to double digits (like 10.3.10) before 10.4 is released.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

GREP Numbered List for li tag


Replace With:

Email Etiquette

Customer service situation: Person emails me to change their email address and I am responding. The name on the account says Billy. The name on the email header says Bill. He did not make a salutation in the email request. What name do I use in the greeting of my email?

In retrospect, I could have gone for the formal last name. However, in this circumstance, I chose Bill, since that is the name that the email referred to.

Monday, December 13, 2004

This is a test of MarsEdit. It is slick, of course. I like how all you have to do to set up a new blog is point it at the blog url, rather then enter in the xmlrpc url and blog id like in some other blog clients I have used...

I can't seem to add a title to this post. I guess they are using the blogger xmlrpc api, which does not support titles ...

Also, I think it is interesting that I can edit anyone's post...rather than just your own...

This would be a sweet client for MoveableType type blogs that have all sorts of category, and trackback features ...

But as far as a client for Blogger, well, I think I am going to stick with good ol' PaperLantern ...

Review of Online Transcription Services

Twenty-first Century Typist :: mike.whybark.com
This guy tried two different online transcription services with drastically different results. It is a pretty interesting read, if you are interested in such things. I've beden fascinated by offshore transcription services since the doctor husband of a first cousin one-removed told me how it works for doctors: he just records his voice notes into a digital recorder, docks it at the end of the day, and the next day he has transcriptions of all of his notes. How do regular people get in on such a sweet service? It may not be as expensive as you think. Read on for the details.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Silent Blog, Ali G Blog

Also, I found this article to be very interesting...
Think diffferent?

While I'm thinking about it...Compost Question

Amber, so i've got this wire compost bin about 2'x3' and about 3 feet high. as of now all i have in there are leaves and a few grass clippings that my father-in-law may have inadvertantly rakes up (normally, i just keep that stuff on the yard.) Is there anything else i have to do, or do i just let it sit? another question is this: when i want to add the eggshells, grape stems, etc ... that carol has accumulated how deep should i bury them into the pile? right now, the bin is about 3/4 full.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Google AutoComplete is Neat


i really wanted to play hooky today

it was really hard to get out of bed - everyone is shopping and hanging out - everyone is happy - but i'm here today - at work - and my boss just announced that the admins are going to have a 3 hour lunch today
so things can be worse i guess
our little family went to see the christmas lights at hermann park last night - it was a beautiful little display and very creative and romantical - the best part was my little baby boy running around and around and happy and excited to be free free free free!!!!
Killy took lots of pictures but i can't download them here so you'll have to wait until killy does it himself
our christmas tree is up and waiting for presents which are strewn about the house here and there waiting to be wrapped - our christmas lights on the house are twinkling blue icicles - the tree is draped with a blue and white paper chain and sprinkled with paper snowflakes
adolfo gets put into time out if he touches the tree
he's been pretty good about it though
although i'm going to have to find a new place for time out because he can climb on the bookshelf now to entertain himself while unwittingly endangering himself
and that is just too cute!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Coolest Thing Ever

This audio recorder is great! Its perfect to record your kid's first few words, or your grandpa's wwII stories, or your wife's sing songy sing songiness, or lecture notes or evidence in a high-profile fraud and embezzlement case, or proof that your brother snores or just about anything except those voices in my head!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Tonight will be much better

Tonight will be much better. I could feel the cold through the outer wall. Is this normal?, i thought to myself. It must have been about 3:00 a.m. My son had woken up and pulled himself out of his own bed and was scampering up the side of ours. Sleepily, i reached down and pulled him up and stuffed him next to his mother. He was asleep again, but i felt the cold. Had someone turned off the heater? Was a window left open? I put my hand to the cold wall. I imagined how one might tear open the drywall and stuff it with new insulation, or even wool blankets, or even burning hot coals. I had a mini-dream with me and a utility knife and a large hole in my wall. I was stuffing the pink panther into my walls.

So, i'm going to move the bed from the wall this afternoon and caulk my window.

Tonight will be much better. Still ingering from Thanksgiving were Carol's parents. Her mother hitched a ride with carol's brother to chicago in order to visit and pick up items left from their original move to mexico several years ago. Carol's father had been staying with us. Unfortunately, he was so bored. It was raining so much that he couldn't really find much to do at the house. He was mystified by teh DVD player, so unless we started it for him, he couldn't even watch a movie. He was bored stiff. I felt really bad. We tried as best we could to get him out of the house once we got home.

Yesterday, i picked up Carol's mother and her extremely heavy luggage from the airport. Carol's father demanded that they leave immediately. That meant that she HAD to have chinese before she left (they love that stuff), had to go to IKEA to exchange an item she had bought, and go to Target to buy gifts for the ladies that were watching their house while they visited the states. They wanted to leave as early as possible. A quick search of the bus schedules left me a with a lump in my throat: 6:30 a.m. was the first bus out of houston to mcallen, tx. Of course, that meant leaving the house at 5:30, which meant getting up at 4:30 to get carol ready for work, adolfo iv ready for school, carol's parents packed and ready and myself put together for work.

This morning i got to work at 6:40 after having dropped off the parents, bought their tickets, and escorted them to the proper gate. Before, however, i did stop at the Shipley's on Richmond and 59 downtown for kolache's for mama and daddy, and a cake donut & milk for adolfo iv. Unfortunately, he didn't like ti too much, but he did drink his milk. I think he much rather have had eggs.

I will miss carol's dad. While he was around i managed to get a lot of little things done at the house that i otherwise may not have gotten around to doing. I finally fixed the venting from the dryer. A bit of advice: if you are ever working with dryer venting, save yourself some frustration and be very very aware of the diameter of your venting. I got on my roof and swept it clean. I'm glad i did cause there were a few clumps of leaves and branches that were gathering wet spots from the recent rains. I finally built a small wire frame compost heap. I took down the broken ceiling fan in the garage. I manged figure out exactly why the door to my son's room sticks (i have to buy some new screws for the door.) I hung the mirror perfectly in our master bathroom.

I would have to say that this weekend was probably my most productive so far. Saturday night, once adolfo had fallen asleep carol and i left him with abuelito so we could slip away and fetch an xmas tree. I really wanted to take adolfo with us, but the tree would not fit in the car with his car seat in it. 20 minutes later we pulled back into the garage with a modest noble fir tucked into the trunk. We placed it in it's stand with water (after a fresh trim at the bottom) and made sure it stood straight. we didn't decorate it till the next morning, which was surprisingly muggy and warm. I had to put the a/c on that night for the first time this season.

That made putting up xmas lights very uncomfortable. It is surreal to be hanging xmas lights while getting eaten by mosquitoes.

Tonight will be much better cause i now know that all i can do is treat my son's symptoms. The cough that made for such an awful evening on monday, and what kept me home tuesday is just something we have to wait out. I tbsp of Robitussin Pediatric Cold & Cough, and 1 tbsp of Benadryl Children's to keep the mocos away with the added benefit of knocking him out cold for the night.

Sunday, December 05, 2004


So I am hanging out at the local coffee shop, drawing and crosswording and what not - and then I notice that someone else is sharing their iTunes library...and it is full of music I had never heard of before like DJ Cheb i Shabbah and the music is great and now my musical horizons have been broadened and also I have had 2 cups of coffee so I am going end this sentance with several exclamation points!!! Also, it would be sweet if iPods and other music players could share on the local network. I mean, how much more interesting would the bus-ride be if you got clued in to some new music?

Happy Holidays!

Okay, so we're camera happy new parents. Here's another one:

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Some Amazing Javascript Image Fade Doodads


also pickpocket.com

Friday, December 03, 2004

Safari Feature, or Bug?

One of my most common usages of Safari is to open a new tab and then type in an address. I do this a lot to open up a few sites and shift over to whatever one I started first. The drawback to this is that you shift focus to the new blank tab whenever you open a new one and type in address. This morning I found a new way:

  1. it Command L to type in an address.
  2. Type in the new address.
  3. Instead of hitting Return to go to the new address, hit Command Return to open up a new tab in the background to the new address

This probably only works if you (a.) have tabbed browsing enabled, (b.) have "open new tabs in background" or some-such enabled.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Associated Press

Check out this article the Associated Press did about office plants, citing little 'ol me as their primary source (note geeky photo!):


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Blast from the Past

I thought this was really really really funny. And i found it on boing boing!

Doctor Visit

I went in for a checkup today. I had not been to the doctor's in over ten years. The doctor ran through the usual battery of tests, including some digital exams ...

I was happy to find out that my blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels are all normal. The doctor also assured me that I do not have any mold growing in my brain. I was also pleased to discover that I have put on a couple of extra pounds. I now weigh in at a solid 147. I have not weighed this much since those 6 months we spent in Poland eating sausage and drinking 30% milk...