Archive for October, 2008


Yesterday, I put Louis to sleep.

Here’s the last good picture of him.




I am become Death, destroyer of pigs

Never has this user icon, of Terry Pratchett’s Death, been quite so appropriate. As Death says in one of Pratchett’s books, “There is no justice. There’s just me.” That’s ironic, since one of the great joys I find in Pratchett’s books is that his characters do meet their just rewards.

But today, I am an arbiter of life and death, and money. Louis, my 5.5-year-old guinea pig, has a kidney stone and will die without surgery that will cost $600-900. If it was several thousand dollars, it would be right out, and if it was a couple hundred, I’d do it without hesitation. But he’s a middle-aged pig, and I’m not sure I can justify spending a month’s rent on him, and frankly I don’t even want to have guinea pigs when I graduate. That’s a lot of cold reasoning, and I know I’m kind of horrible for it, but I think I’ve made up my mind to not get the surgery. It’s hard to look at him and know that I’ve sold him out for 1 month’s rent, that I have held his little life in my hands and cast it aside, that he would live, but for me.

In general, I believe that if you can’t afford to care for your pet, you can’t afford to get a pet, and I’ve been good about taking care of them. But there’s obviously a line somewhere, and this surgery is in a terrible gray area, and I think I’ve chosen the heartless but reasonable option.

Edit: the proper quote is, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” from the Bhagavad Gita, brought to me by Oppenheimer’s statement at the first nuclear test. In this case, the proper modification is, “I am become Death, destroyer of pigs.”

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Flying weekend

I got to go on a flying trip this weekend for the firs time in ages. We were at a site I’d never been to before: Dunlap. It has a wooden ramp for a launch, which was new to me. On foot, the ramp looked like the edge of the world and was sloped enough that it felt like it’d suck me away. In a glider, though, I felt much more comfortable on the ramp, since I wanted the world to fall away.

cut for pictures

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Dude, Wikipedia has the strangest things. I mean, I guess it makes a certain amount of sense, but I’m still pretty amused by the list of soups. Now that’s not something you’ll find in Brittanica.

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Brought to you by lunch break

You may be aware that McCain has been sticking his tongue out lately. For instance, at the last debate, there was this odd moment:

Well, people caught another one, and managed to caption it beautifully:


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Voting in CA is hard

Voting in California is hard. There are about 12 statewide propositions to vote on, and quite a few local ones, too.

Consider the Berkeley ballot measure LL, which changes the city law governing landmark preservation. Both proponents and opponents of the bill argue that their way will preserve historic buildings better. I, on the other hand, think that sucks. I don’t derive any benefit from historic buildings, and I’d gladly vote for the option that makes it easier to bulldoze them. I’m in favor of having pretty buildings, but in general keeping around crappy old buildings because someone famous once lived there is just silly. From a computer science perspective, the old buildings are like crufty old legacy code, and having to deal with unmodifiable buildings scattered through the area is an obstacle to redevelopment. You can argue that development is a bad thing, but you have to recognize that through the world, major cities are built on the ruins of older cities, and they wouldn’t be what they are now if people hadn’t knocked down the rickety old structures. San Francisco’s skyline wouldn’t be so majestic if the old saloons where gold miners once shot each other still cluttered the downtown.

Now, I’m not entirely heartless, and I think it’s worth having a few old buildings around. But in general, I think historical status is too easy to get, and there are some very questionable things taking up otherwise useful space.

Or am I alone in this? Do you get anything from historic buildings?

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Baking perfection into a quiche?

I spent the whole morning baking, and as I made more and more mistakes, and more and more messes, I got increasingly irritable.

Hassles: I almost filled the quiche before baking the crust, and indeed I had to pick cheese off the bottom before baking it. I slopped pumpkin pie filling all over the stove when I moved the pie. I forgot about my onions on the stove for about 20 minutes, though fortunately they were just caramelizing. The quiche took about 20 minutes longer to cook than it was supposed to, and I took the pumpkin pie out early since it seemed to have reached the desired consistency. I threw out my 5-year-old flour, though it may actually be fine; I just didn’t see $2.50 as worth the chance of ruining my baking.

But the quiche has actually been a wild success. It’s delicious, and cheesy, and the crust is good, and the onions were caramelized well, and the broccoli is excellent. The egg/custard part is set just right, and the cheese didn’t float up through it for once. I think it’s the onions and the heavy cream, though, that really make it. I mean, I just ate half a large quiche in one sitting.

So, I guess perseverance is actually good. (There are certainly times when I believe it’s just for losers–winners get it right from the start.) Huzzah.

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Geek celebrities

I know the lead artistic designer for Bioshock 2 because he’s joined the hang gliding club. That’s pretty damn awesome.

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Perhaps you’ve heard of lolcats (funny cat pictures with often unfunny misspelled captions) or PostSecret (people’s anonymously posted dark secrets). It turns out that someone has made a marvelous sarcastic combination of the two with lolsecretz. It looks like it’s not active anymore, but it’s full of great posts.

For instance,there’s this one (hotlinking the image unfortunately doesn’t work).

I’m not exactly sure what makes them so great, but they’re this combination of funny, sad, touching, and with a hint of believability thrown in. I’m impressed.

There are so many other good pictures:

Cut for more pictures

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Chester is doing much better. He eats and drinks, he’s not lethargic, and his eyes aren’t crusty anymore. It’s not clear what it was, or what made him better, but I’m to keep giving him antibiotics (Baytril) for the rest of the week. I’ve stopped hand-feeding him (which he didn’t mind so much, but which was a hassle) or giving him subcutaneous fluids (which he hated).


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