A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Monthly Archives: December 2004

Powell transcript

A transcript of a luncheon interview with Colin Powell. Worth reading.

The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker

From the New York Times review of ‘The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker’ by Walter Kern:

[O]ne does sense that the cartoons have done the job they first set out to do: purging any lingering puritanism from their relatively well-heeled audience and replacing it with a smart-aleck self-awareness that suddenly — just look around — feels useless, lonely and crippling.

I just received this book as a Christmas present. My first encounter, I think, with the New Yorker cartoons was in college, where they were scotch-taped on the doors of the offices of professors and grad assistants in Wells Hall, which housed the mathematics and linguistics departments.

The obsessive in me enjoys owning all 68,647 cartoons from the first 80 years of the New Yorker (and worries a bit about falling behind). The nostalgic enjoys remembering great cartoons. I also read a few together with my daughter Jane: for example, two large crackled-edge holes on a frozen lake titled, “Sumos on Ice!” She surprised me by ‘getting’ the joke.

OK, if I read one cartoon every ten seconds …


The secret to programming is having smart friends

Lots of cool pictures

Lots of cool blimp pictures, and more, at the Moffett Field Museum website.

Someday I'd like to meet …

someone who makes ‘real’ marshmellows: using the sap of a marsh mallow. I’d eat them, not make them into peeps or Balrogs. Even though their Latin name indicates marsh mallows are useful for healing, you should be aware of the dangers of a marshmellow plant.

Christmas letter

Our 2004 (and 2003!) Christmas newsletter.

Christmas addresses

Every year I attempt to update our address list, especially in order to send out Christmas cards. The original database of addresses I created is gone; I can’t remember what I originally used. Last year was too choatic to do anything. This year I decided to create the list from scratch. In fact, I decided I would just write out addresses in an address book.

In the end, though, I had a brainstorm. I used Google’s phone book search to look up names and phone numbers. (For example phonebook: william fitzgerald kalamazoo). I estimate that about 75% of the time, this got me to a correct address and phone number. Since I’m notoriously bad at transcription errors, this helped ensure I got the addresses and phone numbers right. Of course, Google’s address database isn’t perfect, but it was pretty good.

I then cut and pasted the address into an Emacs buffer, eventually deleting the extraneous links to maps. More search-and-replace allowed me to put in tab field delimiters, and I then slurped the data into Excel, where I cleaned things up a bit. Creating a merge document in Word was then relatively simple.

When personal computers were first coming out, and people asked what they were good for, one of the standard answers was ‘keeping an address book.’ You’d think it would be obvious how to do this, and dead simple as well. Who knew that PCs would be really for video games, email, and blogging?