It's too dangerous to go alone. Take this.


A brief history: My girlfriend Justina and I went to the zoo and I bought her a teddy bear whom we creatively named “Aisbar” (a corruption of the German ‘Eisbär‘, meaning “Ice Bear”). Aisbar went back to New York with Justina and became good friends with Teddy, the incumbent stuffed animal of her bedroom.

When the rest of the world jumped onto the Web 2.0 bandwagon, these two weren’t to be left behind. While it’s not so surprising that some college kids would make Facebook profiles for their plush novelties, it’s at least worth mentioning that the group she started for the two of them (Bear Necessities; initially including the two bears, her, and myself) has been independently located and joined by no fewer than 27 other bears possessing Facebook profiles, living in cities and (ostensibly) attending schools all over the world from Minnesota to Ithaca to London to Norway.

But wait. There’s more…

These bears aren’t just cute and cuddly. Anyone who dismisses these bears and their web presence as silly trifles of bored college kids has yet to witness the sheer determination of grassroots teddy bear groups such as Society of Stuffed Animals, Fuzzy Friends Against Global Warming, Anti-teddy bear abuse, or Equal Rights for Teddy Bears!. Each of these groups is populated by two to three dozen bona fide stuffed animals who are clearly both passionate about their status and serious about their role in our society. The year of the bear is upon us all.

Take a note

While I’m doing work, I sometimes like to jot down notes about what I’m doing to help me remember later. If it’s figuring out how something complicated works, I can keep track of what I’m doing, what works, and what doesn’t. For this purpose, I wrote takenote. I invoke it from the command line and tell it what the subject of the note is. Then it waits and reads in a line of text and writes that line (with a timestamp) to a file in the ~/.notes directory. Allow me to demonstrate:

[eliman@dian-nao]-[eliman] $ takenote -t MissedCalls
Julianne called from work. She said to call her back at (410) 555-9252
[eliman@dian-nao]-[eliman] $ tail ~/.notes/MissedCalls
[MissedCalls] [Thu May 24 11:33:44 EDT 2007] Julianne called from work. She said to call her back at (410) 555-9252
[eliman@dian-nao]-[eliman] $

Download takenote here!


I decided not to take the escort bus home. Instead, I walked back from campus with slow, heavy, deliberate steps. It was 4 in the morning and I had just finished saying goodbye to one of my best friends. As I walked past the elements of the school and the city, I knew I was seeing many of these things for the last time. At the very least, I knew that the time was up for these things as critical features in my life. I passed familiar buildings, houses, trees, cars, (telephone poles…), hydrants, lawn decorations, flowers, and street lamps and said goodbye to all of them in my head. I felt their presence in my mind fade while I gently let go of my sense of urgency and embraced the transience looming over the place that was my home for five long years.
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Strange Things Found in the Bathroom

Earlier this year I started a list of strange things I’d found in my bathroom. If I had started it two years ago, I bet it could have gotten much longer by now. In any event, there were strange things in there that I considered normal, just because of my housemates. Things like the A-Team curtains and a glass used as an ashtray. This is a list of things that were a conceptual stretch, even for them. Enjoy.

  • A cassette player containing tape My First Dinosaur Discovery behind the toilet
  • An empty Sam Adams bottle on toilet
  • A table in the tub
  • A can of Clabber Girl Double Acting Baking Powder
  • A container of Breakstone’s 2% milkfat small curd low fat cottage cheese that contained some kind of brothy soup.

Basic Math$

There’s something about “Cha-Ching handles the math for you” that raises my expectations for the software and increases my feeling of betrayal from the following example all the more.


On the plus side, they did fix a bunch of annoying bugs with budget editing. All I want now is the ability to associate transactions (or accounts?) with my budgets. Exciting…

EDIT: I feel compelled to mention that these help files are brand new with the latest upgrade to version 1.1 and so are, of course, the most bug-prone of any help files they release. This is the best excuse I “coud [sic]” think of for them.


Goodbye, MacHeist! It’s been fun. You’ve given me challenging puzzles and great software. I’m sad to see you end, but I’m sure it couldn’t have gone on forever. Thanks MacHeist!


Work, Carnival, Girlfriend, and Bill Cosby

Carnival Weather

The concessions stand is up, the booths are almost done, and the weather is looking astonishingly good! CMU’s annual carnival starts tomorrow (read: tonight, once classes are over) and then ends on Saturday, giving us Sunday to tear everything down and get ready for school-as-usual on Monday. Justina gets in late tomorrow night and will be staying through until mid-day on Sunday. This means that all that stands between me and a weekend of fun is a bit more work on an essay of mine, dissecting the similarities and differences between scenes in two different Shakespeare plays. Until then… Time. Drags. On.

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So it goes

One of the greatest writers of our time is gone. Rest in peace, Kurt.

Kurt Vonnegut, Novelist Who Caught the Imagination of His Age, Is Dead at 84 – New York Times

Checking my Mail

When I check my campus mailbox, evidently, I resemble this man:

Crushing Neo

I feel the need to qualify this a bit. My mailbox is on the bottom row of a wall full of mailboxes. It’s maybe 4 inches from the floor. If I want to check it, I have to be either crouching on all fours, or in an I’m-dodging-bullets-right-now-in-The-Matrix backbend. Obviously, in a situation like this, the correct choice is the one that makes you look as cool as possible, and most men don’t look very cool when crouching on all fours. That is all, thank you.

Puzzle: Floor Tiles

A good friend from way back sent this one to me. It’s got two pretty fun solutions, one that I came up with and one that he showed me later on. Enjoy!

You’re a carpenter in a rectangular room and you have a bag of tiles, some are 2×2 and some are 1×4. Using all of the tiles in your bag the floor is completely covered (no gaps on the floor, no tiles left over). Just when you finish tiling, you drop your hammer and break one of the tiles. As you look around your supply closet, you find just one more tile, but it’s the wrong kind (if you broke a 2×2, then you found a 1×4 and vice-versa). Is it still possible to completely tile the room with this replacement? If so, under what circumstances? If not, why not?