2011.12 minutiae

  • Suddenly the hyphen in "e-mail" looks really weird to me. I think I stuck with it for a fair while after most people had switched to "email," but I guess I am now pretty firmly in the no-hyphen camp. (I recognize the irony in the way that sentence ended.)

  • I only just now realized that 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea could mean "20,000 leagues traveled while a short distance under the sea" and not "through some handwavy contrivance they go ten thousand times deeper than the ocean does."

  • I finally ran into enough pages that didn't work right in Firefox 3 that I reluctantly switched to Firefox 8. I was surprised to find that it renders fonts differently from every other browser I've tried.

    For instance, I really like the way this paragraph looks on my computer in Firefox 8. So much so that I thought, wow, I'm going to switch to these settings!... only to discover that on every other browser they look kinda blah. (In fact, they look like what I switched away from in 2004.) But I have no idea what it looks like to all y'all. Does it look like the one in the image below?

  • I wear glasses with a pretty strong prescription. Different wavelengths of light diffract through the lenses to different degrees, so when I turn my head to the right, this:

    turns into this:

    Now, here we have the traffic-cone icon for the VLC media player that I use to watch videos on my computer. The effect I'm about to talk about only works on a dark background, so here it is against black:

    When I turn my head to the right, it looks like this:

    As you can see, it appears that the white stripes have lifted off the cone and floated away, revealing the solid orange underneath. The freaky part about this is that there is no solid orange underneath. It's not a real cone. It's just pixels. But my brain interprets the unaltered image as an orange cone with white stripes wrapped around it, so when the stripes float away, my brain fills in the nonexistent orange plastic underneath. My intellectual knowledge that all I'm looking at is a field of colored squares doesn't change that. And it's freakin' me out!

  • Another phobia of mine: every time I return a library book I panic that I have somehow left something valuable in it. "Why oh why did I use that scrap of paper with all my bank account numbers and passwords as a bookmark?"

  • It wasn't until Newt himself pointed it out that I realized that Gingrich will be as old in 2012 as Reagan was in 1980.

  • I was amused by an ABC News article that noted that each year wisdom tooth surgery in the U.S. "leads to 11 million days of post-operative discomfort." My surgery must have gone pretty well — as I recall my discomfort only lasted for eight or nine million days.

  • I've complained in the past about cyclists who seem to think that no traffic law applies to them: they cruise through red lights, ignore stop signs, ride the wrong way down one-way streets. But this month I was driving along behind a cyclist who reached a stop sign and, still taking up a full lane of traffic, decided that it was an ideal time to whip out her smartphone and catch up on her Facebook messages or something. And then waved at the cars behind her to just go around, as moving her bike to the sidewalk would be such an inconvenience.

  • irishtimes.com: Two-headed baby boy born in Brazil. They should have said "bicephalous" to keep up the alliteration.

  • I have a new recurring dream that the people behind Sketch Ice Cream, a phenomenal dessert shop that closed in 2009, have started up a new place and I am there on opening day eating many fabulous avant garde desserts. If you've gotta have a recurring dream that's a pretty good one to have!

  • An old ad by Colt's Manufacturing Company:

    For those of us who find holidays depressing, that is not a very helpful sentiment!

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