Miscellaneous and Useless Information


Weird Al’s lyrics for “White and Nerdy” [MTV music video] touches upon so many geeky characteristics, it’s uncanny. So I’ve created the White and Nerdy quiz so that you can see how you measure up.

[ ] Went to MIT
[ ] Played Dungeons and Dragons
[ ] Likes Escher
[ ] Drinks tea
[ ] Does not have spinning rims

When I was in elementary and middle school, I listened to mostly adult contemporary songs (i.e., “soft rock”), mostly because I didn’t know any better. So watching the infomercial for Time-Life’s Classic Soft Rock collection was particularly trippy, because they showed that these songs were sung by real people! With bad hair and funny clothes! I recognized almost every song, but less than half the singers. I also learned some surprising facts (Lotta Love was originally by Neil Young?).

Every once in a while, I’ll hear a song that catches my attention, and then I can’t resist going online to do some research. Like when I first heard Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love and then finding out a few weeks later it was built around a sample of the 1971 hit “Are You My Woman? by the Chi-Lites. Or when I heard the background music to a Lincoln car commercial about 4 years ago and discovered it was a song called “Get A Move On by Mr. Scruff, who sampled “Bird’s Lament (In Memory of Charlie Parker) by Moondog. Or just recently, when I dug into Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and read that they sampled “Nel Cimitero Di Tucson” by Gianfranco Reverberi, from the soundtrack of a 1968 Italian cowboy movie!

But of course, no one can beat Weird Al. His latest triumph: turning Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ into “White and Nerdy After more than two decades, he has not lost his touch.

A few observations about my experience with Flickr:

  • Ever since I’ve been uploading my photos to Flickr in June, I’ve blogged a lot less often. I guess I can only devote so much attention to any online activity.
  • Out of the 21 people who list me as a contact, I don’t know 1/3 of them. It’s flattering, but also a little eerie.
  • It also took a while to get used to random people leaving comments and marking my photos as their favorites.
  • But those things keep encouraging me to take and post more and more photos, since I know someone besides me appreciates them.
  • There might be other online photo albums that have certain features that are better, but one of the biggest reasons I stay on Flickr is network effects — my friends are also on Flickr.

This is the first weekend in over a month I’ve stayed at home. Last month, Matt and Laurel visited over two weekends. The week after was Ben and Judy’s wedding over Labor Day. Three days later, I flew to New York for Sebastian and Carine’s wedding. Then a week after that, I flew to Boston for a company workshop, and while I was there, to visit Howard and give a talk at MIT. Whew! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed each weekend, but I needed a break.

Too bad I have to work on two papers that I’m submitting to CHI this Friday…

Soon after I started working, I noticed I was even less physically active than as a computer science grad student (which is saying something), and I’ve dreamt of putting a treadmill in my office and walking while I worked.

Not surprisingly, I’m not the only one with this brilliant idea: Dr. James Levine at the Mayo Clinic and his team have created a workstation combining a treadmill, desk, and computer. At 1 mph, it’s not enough to break a sweat, but it is enough to burn an extra 100 calories an hour, or, at 10 hours per day, more than 50 pounds a year.

I’ve realized that I’ve been blogging a lot less ever since I started posting my photos on Flickr. Seems like I can do only so much “content creation” before maxing out.

I’ve decided that at age 30, a Casio Databank calculator watch just doesn’t look very, uh, classy in certain situations. Plus, now that I have a cell phone, one of my original reasons for having a Databank, to store phone numbers, isn’t as useful as it used to be. So I bought an analog watch (one of those nifty types that recharge when you swing your arm). But it’ll take a while to get used to it. This is the first time I haven’t had a digital watch since elementary school — I’m not used to reading an analog clock on my wrist.

Last week San Jose hosted a huge digital art conference and exhibition called ZeroOne, held in association with the International Symposium of Electronic Art. I went on Tuesday with Francis and Simona to check out an art piece created by their friends called Acclair, a provocative piece on the intersection of profiling, security, and advertising. We also got to see massive images get projected onto San Jose City Hall the result was quite spectacular. I also wanted to see the Survival Research Labs show on Friday, but it was long sold out.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen people from San Francisco come to San Jose to see art. I hope it’s not the last.

I went on a short trip to Vancouver last week to visit relatives and friends. Thoughts:

  • Vancouver is kinda like a smaller version of the Bay Area (city on peninsula surrounded by water, anti-road sentiment, elevated rail transit, etc), except with taller mountains and taller buildings.
  • The weather was perfect. I carried around a sweater and never needed it, even at night.
  • The road construction on the Sea-to-Sky Highway is coming along nicely.
  • The Richmond Night Market is a cross between a flea market and a night market in Taipei. It is gigantic. The food stalls looked tasty — too bad I was too full from dinner. The next time I’m up there, I’ll just go there for dinner.
  • It’s definitely nicer visiting in August than in December (unless you want to go skiing).

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