Archive for the 'General' Category

Of Strangers, Relatives, and… Rice

Growing up as a kid, we didn’t eat rice very much. In fact, I’m pretty sure there were only three ways of using the stuff, for us: In a stuffed-pepper hotdish, and in two dubious concoctions one of my older siblings dreamed up: Chicken Noodle and Rice soup (made by adding a handful of instant rice to a can of soup) and Tomato Soup with Rice (made by adding as much instant rice as possible to a can of tomato soup).

Yes, yes. We were a very sad slice of middle America.

Well, in the last couple of decades, rice has become a major staple of my household’s diet. Gone is the bland and tasteless instant rice; here in its stead is the delicious and aromatic long-grain jasmine rice. Oh, sometimes there’s sushi rice, or an even shorter-grained glutinous rice, but we pretty much use jasmine rice for everything, these days.

Recently, I was over at the Hmong Village, which I’ve written about before here. It’s an enormous Hmong bazaar and produce market, complete with a very sizable food court. (It may actually be the largest food court in Saint Paul itself, physically, come to think of it.) I’m usually there one or two times a week, buying produce. I’ll stop for lunch once a month, maybe twice. This was one of those times.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on February 26th, 2012 | No Comments »

ISBN Theft: A Crime Most Improbable

Can you steal a number?

Arguably, yes. A safe combination, a gift-card number… Those would, theoretically, get you access to something of value, and thus could be said to have worth of their own, in some senses.

But can a number have intrinsic value?

ISBNs can. $10 a pop, in the United States, in small quantities. More, possibly, in some other countries. (And, conversely, less or none in many others.)

As far as theft goes, it seems improbable, nearly pointless, at first glance. Why’d you want to steal an ISBN? Think about it for a few moments, and I suspect you’ll come up with a few reasons.

All of that ignores the big, obvious question – can you even steal an ISBN, in the first place?

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Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on January 26th, 2012 | 5 Comments »

Commissioning and Licensing Images on deviantART: A Guide. Of Sorts.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve licensed and commissioned art from a number of people on deviantART, for various purposes. (Most notably, arguably, the cover of my first novel was licensed there.) It can be a fairly painless and rewarding process for everyone involved, if you know what you’re doing. Because the average novelist knows slightly less about image licensing than they do about fluid dynamics (apologies to any physicist-writers, diatribes on postcards to the usual address…), I thought I’d try to cover the basics of what to know, what to do, and what to expect, so you can benefit from my experience.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on January 12th, 2012 | No Comments »

What A Long Strange Noun It’s Been

So, it’s twenty-twelve. Man, what an exciting twenty-eleven, eh? There was that stuff, and those things, and some people died, and a couple of whatever happened… Good times, good times. Mostly.

Among all that, winter sort of failed to show up on time. White Thanksgiving? Nope. White Christmas? Nope. White New Year’s Eve? Nope.

In fact, New Year’s Eve was really kind of nice. At least the weather…
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on January 2nd, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Fifty Years Ago Today…

Fifty years ago (26 Dec 1961):

Moscow, Dec 26, UPI – Premier Khrushchev has urged lesser Soviet officials to tell him when he is wrong and not meekly to accept his directives.
His declaration–apparently a further effort to wipe out the paralyzing “cult of personality”–was made last week at a conference of agricultural officials in the Ukraine and published yesterday by Pravda.
Mr. Khrushchev’s remark was provoked by P.A. Vlasvuk, president of the Ukrainian Academy of Agriculture.
Mr. Vlasvuk had apparently claimed that in a criticized method of crop rotation, he had followed suggestions made by Mr. Khrushchev.
To this Mr. Khrushchev replied: “Is it I who must be the highest authority in questions of agricultural science? You are president of the Ukraine’s Academy of Agriculture and I am secretary of the central committee of the (Communist) party. In these questions it is you who should help me, and not I you.”
“I can make a mistake but you, if you are an honest scientist, you should tell me ‘Comrade Khrushchev you do not understand that question altogether correctly.’ If you explain to me how to correctly understand a question, then I would thank you for it.”

A day ago. Roughly. (25 Dec 2011):

MOSCOW, December 25 (RIA Novosti) Russian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin still enjoys the support of the majority of Russians, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with AFP news agency on Sunday after the biggest opposition protest in Moscow.
“Putin still has the support of a majority. And we should treat the opinion of a majority with respect,” Peskov was quoted by AFP as saying.

I just found the contrast amusing…

Published in: General, History | on December 26th, 2011 | No Comments »