Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Police Blotter

Occasionally I like reading the police blotter notes that the San Jose Mercury News posts online.  I found them by accident in one of my Google Reader feeds, but occasionally they can be somewhat entertaining.  Normally most of them seem fairly tame.  Out of this past weekend's, however, I found this:

3500 block of De La Cruz Boulevard, Sept. 13 A man broke into a church on two occasions. The first time, he took cash and the second time, a Bible. Both thefts were caught on video. The pastor confronted the man and he was arrested.
Who steals a bible?

Another one I remember reading was much earlier in the year--somebody grabbed a couple bags of groceries out of some lady's car while she was unloading it.  That's got to say something about the economy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

PC Stitch Pro

About a month ago, I bought PC Stitch Pro (Amazon link).  The software isn't perfect, and lacks things like keyboard shortcuts, but their pattern printing is pretty good.  I'm not so keen on embroidering a photo, which seems to be their selling point--and it can turn photos into stitching patterns-- but it's fun to do pixel art that will become a cross stitch pattern complete with symbols and matching DMC floss numbers.  This was my first pattern edited with the software:

Robots, naturally!  Robots in love.  It turned out well enough, and I really like the heart, which is outlined in double-flossed backstitches.  Unfortunately it's been so long that I'm out of practice when it comes to other stitches, like the French knot. These little robot buddies are supposed to have red and green status indicator lights, but I can't get my knots to knot.  A lot of practice is required, and I suspect a lot of practice will be forthcoming.  My current project (or I should say, one of my current projects) is stitching out the logo for Ben's team at work, "Faster Google".  They have a shiny red racecar, and I've already got a pattern printed from the image he sent me.

Edit: Ben thought that I had stitched a pair of Whos from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I have a multitude of Beatles songs stuck in my hea.

Last Wednesday (09/09/09), the entire Beatles collection was re-released, having been digitally remastered.  To coincide with this eventful day, The Beatles Rock Band was also released.  Ben and I got a chance to try one of the earlier games at a friend's place, and found it extremely entertaining.  Living in an 800sqft apartment, however, with only one bedroom and two small closets, however, have made daunting the idea of purchasing a video game that required at least one plastic guitar and a plastic drum set.  We already have one real guitar out (plus another under the bed), and a real piano.  But who could possibly resist the Beatles?

We found ourselves at our local, western-themed Fry's, standing in front of the "special edition" set ($250) and the "value edition" set ($140).  Having a "Beatles" drum set and a plastic replica of Paul McCartney's guitar has always been one of my life goals--alas, we have the simple set and $100 still in our pockets.

Since we picked it up on Thursday, we've played at least once every day.  This includes our trip up to visit Ben's parents in Berkeley, where we got both of them to try it. ("I can play this on a real guitar!")  I've discovered that I pretty much suck at "guitar playing", my singing is passable, and the drum set is fun.  My next experiment is to see how well I can play without drumsticks--bongo style?
Sitting in an English garden, waiting for the sun
If the sun don't come you get a tan from standing in the English rain
(Edit: bongo Rock Band doesn't work so well.)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Affect vs. Effect

Recently I sent out a survey related to a study I began at work, looking at blogging and microblogging behaviours. The study actually started as a secondary topic, the primary being a design/display project for the summer, to display IBM-related tweets. The goal of the study was to find out how microblogging and blogging practices interact, if at all. When I was going over the open-ended answers in the survey, I noticed that I had written this sentence:
If you both blog and microblog, how has your use of either tool affected the other?
At first, I groaned inwardly--what utter mortification! Did 300 people just see a huge grammar error? Is it not an "effect" that I'm asking about, and not an "affect"? Should it not be, "[...] how has your use of either effected the other?" But comparing "effected" and "affected", the former doesn't look right either.

Now completely confused, it's time to turn to Google to do the work for me. A suggestion is given for "define: effected"--"Did you mean: define: affected?" Accepting the new search yields this as one of the answers:
affect - have an effect upon
Ah-ha! Hello, confusing near-homophone! And now I remember a simple rule, which is often broken:
affect = verb ("My blog will affect my microblogging habits.")
effect = noun ("My blog has an effect on my microblogging habits.")
So it seems that my original sentence was correct, and there was no need to second-guess myself. Yet despite the simplicity of separation, the two words are easily confused.

For a longer (and probably better) explanation, check out Grammar Girl's article on this very topic. More confusion can be supplied by Randall Munroe.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I found this panda pattern somewhere, but I can't remember where. Originally, he had a bunch of bamboo around him. I started it to keep myself busy during the flight to Vancouver at the end of July this year, but I decided to finish it before I left, so I could give it to Mitch. She has a thing for pandas. But as neat as bamboo is, I didn't think it added anything interesting to the pattern, so I give you "Fatty Panda Eats a Timmy's Maple Doughnut".