Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Not much time for posting, as we hosted Christmas in our new house. Seems like everyone got what they wanted and more. Katie's new camera should produce some great shots, so check them out soon!

Thursday, November 23, 2006



Friday, November 10, 2006

Interesting language and music tidbit from Discover mag

Variety could even decrease over time. In fact, there may be a bizarre
example of that happening right now in human song. We can easily explore the
changing amount of variety in songs over the last hundred years because of an
amazing data archive: audio recording. Since the beginning of recorded music,
the sound of human song has changed with each new generation of people.
There's no confusing a 1930s song with a 1940s song, or a 1950s song with a
1960s song. The pattern sticks until roughly the end of the 1980s. It's not
easy to tell whether a song came from 1990 or 2000.

This might sound like an extraordinary claim, but you can test it yourself.
Listen to random clips from the many sources of songs available on the
Internet and don't peek at the year they were produced. You'll discover that
it's harder to date songs from the last two decades than songs from previous
decades. Terry and I are now considering this experiment on a more formal

If you accept that there has been a recent decrease in stylistic variety in
human song, the next question is "Why?" There are plenty of possibilities:
Maybe the Internet makes too much information available, so everyone has the
same influences to absorb—and songs lose flavor and take on a generic
quality. To be more cynical, it could be a sign of cultural decline.

Another explanation, which is the one I suspect, is that the change since the
mid-1980s corresponds with the appearance of digital editing tools for music.
Digital tools are more suggestive about results than previous tools: If you
deviate from the kind of music a digital tool was designed to make, the tool
becomes difficult to use. For instance, it's far more common these days for
music to have a clockwork regular beat. Some of the most widely used music
software becomes awkward and can even produce glitches if you vary the tempo
much while editing. In predigital days, tools also influenced music, but with
not nearly such a sharp edge.

So this is an ironic moment in the history of computer science. We are
beginning to succeed at using computers to analyze data without the
constraints of rigid grammarlike systems. But when we use computers to
create, we are confined to equally rigid 1960s models of how information
should be structured. The hope that language would be like a computer program
has died. Instead, music has changed to become more like a computer program.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Completed house on Halloween

Our completed house on Halloween morning.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

We're in!

We just got cable hooked up as well as phone.

Here is a photo of our fireplace with the reflection through our slider:

Saturday, September 23, 2006


A new idea in interactive story telling, storytron may become a successful way of creating more interesting, more dynamic computer games.

Here is a clip from their overview:

Storytronics - Lots of Both Story and Interactivity

Even though Storytronics has the strengths of both the previously described methods[branching narrative & narrative games], and the weaknesses of neither, it is not "the best of both worlds" - it is a radically new paradigm that redefines everything. The basic concept in Storytronics is that interactive storytelling is first an interactive experience - that is, it is not an experience where the player's main role is to read text or watch footage, sometimes getting the attractive opportunity to "choose the lesser of two evils". It is an experience where the player has volition, and is at liberty not merely to choose between narrative possibilities, but to behave in whichever way he or she likes, thus freely directing the course of the drama. The computer-controlled characters, likewise, behave according to their unique personalities, reacting dynamically to the player's behavior.

This is made possible using the concept of the Verb. Storytronics uses Verbs to define what may happen in interactive storytelling. Each Verb represents one possible dramatic action, like a kiss, a demand, or an advice. Once a Verb has been defined, it may be used indefinitely. For example, once a single Verb Kiss is defined, any character will be able to kiss any other. Depending on the context and the Adverb used, this kiss could also mean several different things, from a friendly greeting to a statement of reverence to a passionate lovemaking, or even a murderous act (think Judas). When more than a thousand Verbs are used together, the richness of possible behaviors stretches across horizons. When each Verb also defines what kinds of consequences it has and what reactions it may warrant, these possibilities can be organized into complex cause-and-effect relationships that allow the interaction to maintain a coherent and narrative form, no matter how adventurous the player's behavior.

Best in show

Katie won best in show at our local Four Town Fair for her horse drawing.

Monday, September 18, 2006

site work is done and we have a front yard!

No more pile in the front yard. See pic below.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

goat peak

Went up to Goat Peak today. Perfect conditions to see lots of hawks on the annual fall migration south, but saw very little. Two redtails, two Cooper's, and an immature eagle. Perhaps it's too early. However, the camaraderie of those of us on the tower made it all worthwhile.

The view of the holyoke range is to the northwest from where the hawks are supposed to come.
The photo of the tower was hard to take because of all the leaves are still on the trees.


Our house is nearly sided. One month to go.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

David Foster Wallace

Just read his piece on tennis in the NYT. Amazing writer, but infuriating too as he makes half his points in huge footnotes. Am most interested in his views on irony. See the Wikipedia treatment below:

Wallace's fiction is often concerned with what he considers the prevalent contemporary mode of irony, which he believes hinders and complicates authentic communication in fiction and culture as a whole. His essay "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction," originally published in the small-circulation Review of Contemporary Fiction in 1993, pointed out the often corrosively ironic effect of television's influence on fiction writing, and urged literary authors to avoid irony's many pitfalls. Wallace himself does use many different forms of irony in his work but he also focuses on individuals' continued longing for earnest unselfconscious experience and communication in a deeply self-conscious, cynical, media-saturated society.

Sold my first story!

Sold my first story. We'll see what comes of all that.

Entered a contest. I get feedback in a couple of months; winners to be published Feb 2007.

Memory molecule

For those of us approaching our senior years and having senior moments, the following article will be of interest. Apparently, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, you can erase memories and replace them later. Perhaps there is hope after all for those of us who enter a room and can't remember why we are there.

Scientists at SUNY Downstate Medical Center have discovered a molecular mechanism that maintains memories in the brain. In an article in Science magazine, they demonstrate that by inhibiting the molecule they can erase long-term memories, much as you might erase a computer disc.

Furthermore, erasing the memory from the brain does not prevent the ability to re-learn the memory, much as a cleaned computer disc may be re-used. This finding may some day have applications in treating chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and memory loss, among other conditions.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

6 weeks out

We are six weeks out from moving into our house. The siding has started, so pics to come when siding complete.

99 mpg

Gotta love this guy!
This is the future: he's tweaked the Honda Insight hybrid so that you can manually control the gas engine/electric engine combo. Most hybrids are designed to conserve battery life, so they use the electric powertrain less. He says you can easily use it more or charge the battery more when going downhill, and get 50 mpg.
By adding a small extra wheel, you can have the electric powertrain run that only during highway cruising and get 99mpg!
It appears that Toyota and perhaps other manufacturers are going to do something like this, now that it is easy and battery life has been proven.
The gentleman is a contracting engineer doing this in his spare time. You can order kits to modify the Insight from here:

Here is his photo:

Friday, August 25, 2006

pardon the lag...

...but I've not had time to post.

We have a contract on our current house! Hooray! Closing is now Oct 13 2006 so our new house has to be ready before that. Dave the Builder is running as much as he can concurrently. It looks like a scene from The Money Pit, with contractors running about like The Crusades or something.

We've picked furniture, tiles, carpet, doors, handles, lights, fans, paint, walkways, insulation (placement), cabinets, pulls, countertops, mantel, hearth, and drains. And that was just this week. Siding comes next week and painting should be finished then too. Photos to come when the siding is done.

This weekend is the big bike swap meet. Daren couldn't come from England due to flying standby being a trip to purgatory, so we will soldier on without him. No bike ride the night before so photos will be minimal.

Katie attended freshman orientation at EHS. I'm sure she will like the place once she gets used to it.

I am planning to post my latest story on a website if they agree. I've had mixed reactions to it so I want to see how the webmasters like it. I like the updates to the Writer's Digest website and have done some exercises from their magazine.

Tax waivers arrived for the estate from NJ, so I have started converting assets into Katie and my name. That's a full-time job in itself for a few weeks.

We gave the attorneys in Florida 90 days to come up with an accounting of the Crouse wills and trusts. I hope this gets things out in the open and leads to a resolution soon.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Katie at the beach

Here's Katie in the old classic caddy at the beach house.

Northampton bike ride tonight - pics to come.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

this and that again

No new pics of our house yet. I'll wait for the siding to go on, which is about 2 weeks away.

Wrote a letter to the editor of the JI about global warming. I need to edit it down to fit. When published, I'll post a link.

Here is a pic of Wanda on her new Honda for the TSI MS ride (sorry you can't see her behind the helmet):

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ancestor photo

From Wanda's side:

Friday, July 14, 2006

Genius types

Interesting to see from the latest Wired mag that Daniel Pink (author of A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age) claims that there are 2 kinds of geniuses - the early bloomer and the late bloomer. More at

And a great commentary on writing for Wired is here:

Here is an excerpt:

Here's what I believe was done to my original story to bring it into a state of
supreme Wiredness. I think than anyone willing to read both the version here and the
version that appeared in Wired will second these assertions.
* All references to "the little people" were eliminated. The elite world that
matters according to Wired is full of Big Actors. Whether professor, millionaire, artist,
manager, engineer, hacker, or eccentric, they are all Important People. The grunts and--
God perish the thought!--the "unwired" who actually keep things running are unnamed,
invisible and unworthy of attention.
* Ambiguity was minimized. Everything in the Wired universe is known with
certainty. This is good for you, that is bad. You're part of the Movement, or you're out in
the cold. No dissenters from the reigning cyber-Babbitry are allowed, no grey areas
* Facts were cloaked in "hipness." It's not enough to convey the information,
but it must be delivered in such a way as to inculcate the feeling that both the writer and
his readers are already intellectually above whatever scene is being described, more
expert than the experts. This results in a prose that reads as if written by a team of
Austin Powers and Dustin Hoffman's Rainman character, and paradoxically gives the
majority of Wired articles a curious sense of "been there, done that" even if the topic is
brand new.
* The past was dismissed as unimportant. History does not matter except as
prelude to the future. Even the present is merely a waystation toward Technotopia.
* Quotidian matters were de-emphasized. Boredom does not exist in the
Wired cosmos. Only "peak" experiences count. The immense amounts of hard work
involved in getting from conception to reality--work which can even have its own simple
meditative pleasures--is just something to skip blithely over.
* Drama was injected into basically undramatic situations. This is a corollary
to the previous problem, and perhaps the one flaw in this list shared by magazines in
general. "Why are we devoting space to this story? Because it's exciting!" Are we
having fun yet? We'd better be, or our advertisers won't feel they're getting their money's
I'm not paranoid enough to imagine that any of these dicta exist as a written
stylesheet. If quizzed, Wired editors would probably deny that they had any agenda other
than to present "cool" stuff to their audience. But when a well-funded, image-conscious
juggernaut like Wired gets rolling, it's inevitable that all of the harnessed team has to pull
in unison. The corporate attitude becomes just something in the air, inhaled like
Strontium-90 and passed down from veteran to novice to freelancer.
For a few bleak days, I toyed with having my lobotomized story published under a
pseudonym. "J. Ives Turnkey" was going to be my choice. I thought the byline would
leap out fairly effectively as "jive turkey," a kind of analogy to Cordwainer Bird. But in
the end, I chose to go with my own name.

House is weathertight

The shingling is done except for the porch, and the windows and sliders in.
The floors of the garage and basement poured yesterday.
Pics to come this weekend.

david copperfield's reverse mugging

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - David Copperfield has magically escaped getting robbed.
The 49-year-old illusionist was walking with two female assistants to their tour bus after his show Sunday at a performing arts center when four teens pulled up in a black car, a police report said.
Two armed robbers allegedly got out of the car and demanded the group's belongings. One woman handed over $400 from her pockets and the other gave up her purse with 200 euros, $100, her passport, plane tickets and a cell phone. Copperfield refused to empty his pockets, the report said.
Copperfield says he turned his pockets inside out to reveal nothing in them, even though he was carrying his passport, wallet and cell phone.
"Call it reverse pickpocketing," Copperfield told The Palm Beach Post for Wednesday's editions.
Copperfield read the license plate number of the car to an assistant while she called 911, the report said.
Four teenagers were arrested and charged with armed robbery. They were held without bond, police said. The women's property was recovered.
See his site at


Check out the danolight at
Highly recommended, great price, light weight.
Dan, the lead guitarist of The Clams (, designed the light to be much less expensive than competing xenon lights. As they say, the definition of an engineer is someone who can do for $1 what everyone else does for $2.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

We have shingles!

And the ponds are rain today.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

the front is fixed

The dormer between the main house and garage was set back flush with the first story, and needed to be extended out 4 feet.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Katie's horse drawing

We all like this one!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Some technical problems with blogspot

I'm working on moving to my own site soon. Please be patient.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

some more pics

Here is the front with the roof:

And here is the start of the deck:

Beach vacation next 2 weeks!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Katie honored at capitol

Here she is with her drawing:

Second floor

Here are some second floor shots:


Here's a truck in the pond in Newington.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

first floor

Here are some pics of our new house that actually look like something. Prior to this, all we had was a foundation.
The framers had to place a beam over the garage entryway and hallway to carry the load that was to have been supported by the half bath. The too small bath and the too small hallway were gladly given up to give us more space.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

we now have a basement...

Pics to come when we have a frame.

I stood where our deck was to go and enjoyed the sun yesterday for a minute.

Had a great week in spite of my back spasms. Went to book discussion at library, and went out twice having a great time both times.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Saw a great bumper sticker this morning: Frodo failedBush has the ring. OMFG.

Still housecleaning in anticipation of listing. The fill piles on our lot are growing. Digging should start soon.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Day off...

...and spent most of it working on bills, taxes and all that good stuff.

Signed the papers last week and put down the construction deposit. They will start to dig any day now!

Packing, boxing and cleaning is taking its toll on us, but we are looking forward to our move.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Lazy Sunday

But no, not eating Red Vines today.

Had a great time following UCONN so far, and hope it continues.

Cleaning the house goes on...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

New story

I wrote a quick erotic story I have been meaning to get on paper for awhile now. Sent it to Susie Bright at as she asked for greetings and submissions. Also sent it to Steve for review and flagellation.

Busy with taxes, packing our household belongings, and choosing furnishings for our new home.

St. Croix

Finally got a chance to post about our trip. Loved the US island. We will want to buy land there for our old age. Friendly locals and help that comes down every season from the mainland. The picture is of our family and another we met that came down from Rhode Island. Also, Patrick, John (in front row) and Lindsay (in Hawaiian shirt) that work there. They really made our stay fun!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snowed in...

Well, sort of. Lots of snow overnight. We'll see how long it goes today.
It just makes our upcoming trip to the islands that much sweeter.

Yesterday full of errands and chores, but nice weather and a sense of accomplishment made for satisfaction.

Making last minute changes in our house plan before the final plans are drawn up on Tuesday.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Deaf hack

Wonderful story about a guy who got involved with reprogramming his cochlear implant to improve his hearing.
From and Wired:

Monday, January 02, 2006

2006 and our house

Busy day today trying to get the house clean from Christmas. Took out the tree and did the requisite dusting and vacuuming. I always like the look of our house in January, with the dull sunlight reflecting in the front windows off of the snow. Lots of snow tomorrow, or so says the forecast.
Below is the front elevation plan of our new house. We finally got excited about it today, with the turmoil of 2005 and then Christmas out of the way. We have the interior first and second floor plans laid out in the kitchen, as we mark them up and plan how we’ll be living sometime this year.
Spent some time thinking about building a new workbench, one that won’t have oil tanks in the way for 12 years like mine does now. Wow.