Archive for category trivia
So, what do you think?
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5
So, just curious. What are your favorite words from the bard? The above piece has struck my fancy lately, although it’s neck and neck with “what dreams may come.” Discuss!
In honor and observance of the Writer’s Strike currently going on, here is my version of a “clip show.” This blog has over 175 entries now, some good, some bad, some awesome. I know there are several new readers here, and it’s a pain to sift through the entire blog to find the good nuggets. Here, in my opinion, are the 15 most worthy entries if you’re flipping through this place I like to call “Into the Weeds”:
- yuck: Cold Stone Creamery Rant
- The Soul of the Commuter: Commuting sucks. In very many ways. Here I get back to my urban studies roots.
- UIUC Mail Server Disaster: A tale of sysadmin sorrow from 2002
- Trivia: See if you can identify who all of these footnotes to history are.
- The Cult of Scientology: Mini-rant and link to a freaking awesome article on scientolgy.
- Longwood Towers: Rant about why the Longwood Towers Condominiums are some place you should not be thinking about living in.
- Kozmo.com: : Classic tale of dot-bomb woe. Ever wonder what that “kozmo” box is that’s sitting in the kitchen lounge on second west?
- Florence Co. ADMAX: Crazy terrorist prison in Colorado with all sorts of nasties inside.
- New Apartment: Check out the awesome view from my living room.
- Driving in Boston: A primer, with scary crazy maps of intersections.
- Captain Al Haynes: The amazing story of Capt. Haynes and United flight 232.
- Firefighting Mode: Some systems philosophy, and the condition of what things were like back when I worked at MIT IS&T.
- The Switch: Mac vs. PC
- Unofficial!!!!: The crazyness at UIUC known as “Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day” and why it is awesome and awesomely stupid at the same time.
- Datacenter Transformer: A tale of woe from some crazy-ass electrical problem and superbad preparation and handling at MIT IS&T.
And now for a brief piece of trivia that some/most of you may already be aware of, considering one of my favorite colorful phrases in the english language, “balls to the wall.” My apologies in advance to those readers who are already aware of the etymology.
“I told the staff … that I expected them to cut every piece of red tape, do everything they could, that it was balls to the wall…” -Michael Brown, former director of FEMA, in testimony to U.S. Senate 2/10/06 [emphasis mine]
Contrary to common belief and misconception, the phrase has nothing whatsoever to do with potentially uncomfortable proximity of genitalia and walls. It’s origins apparently date back to use in the US Air Force during the Vietnam War, and possibly as far back as the Korean War or earlier. You see, “balls” refers to the balls on top of the throttle control and flight control of an airplane, and the “wall” is the cockpit firewall. Thus, “balls to the wall” would indicate the state where the plane is either pushed into a nose dive and summoned to 100% throttle, for example in a situation where extreme evasive maneuvers are required.
Similar to “pedal to the metal,” “balls to the wall” indicates a condition of maximum effort and intensity. But, of course the connotations and nuances of the term are so much more than that. Like all phrases of this kind, it really isn’t possible to succinctly and effectively rephrase it in other language — that’s the reason it exists and is in use in the first place.
It seems that I’m out of interesting things to write about for now, so let’s all stop and take a moment to remember 2000; specifically March 10th 2000. You see, that’s the date that is numerically recognized as the burst of the Dot Com bubble. Seven years ago this past weekend, the Nasdaq peaked at 5,132.52. Yahoo closed at 89 points. Akamai closed at 296. Even Sun Microsystems got in on the action, and closed at 47 points. Less than a month later, the news was as such on April 4th at 1:42pm eastern time on CNN:
PATRICIA SABGA, CNN ANCHOR: Our market coverage continues on CNNfn. We would also like to welcome our CNN viewers. Right now, the Nasdaq composite is off 332 at 3890. That is, however, well off the lows of the session. The Nasdaq composite had lost as much as 13 percent so far today.
BILL TUCKER, CNN ANCHOR: In fact, it is now well into bear territory, completely more than 20 percent off its highs, those highs just hit back in early March, on March 10th at 5048. The Dow also selling off very strongly today, had been down over 500 point, we have seen a big comeback in the Dow 30 stocks.
It’s actually kind of entertaining to read this old transcript. The market correspondent then comes on and says stuff like: “…However, the bottom, he sees it, as in sight. Now the level he had picked as a bottom for this market was around 3500; 3590 would represent a 62 percent retracement of the market’s movement upward since early October….” Of course, a year later, in April of 2001, the market was closing at 1638. How’s that for a “retracement?”
So yes, there it was. 7 years ago: the Nasdaq peaked at 5,132.52. Yahoo closed at 89 points. Akamai closed at 296. Even Sun Microsystems got in on the action, and closed at 47 points. Today, the Nasdaq is at 2378, Yahoo is struggling to maintain 30, Akamai’s hanging out respectably in the low 50s, and beleaguered Sun Microsystems is at 6.22.
With the Bears actually having the season that they did, I tried really hard to actually get into the whole football thing this season. But, try as I might, I just can’t really seem to follow football. The thing of it is, though, that I used to be a pretty big football guy. Back in high school and before, I watched more football than I did baseball. Of course, most of that was probably due to the fact that I lived in western New York during the Buffalo Bills’ ill-fated four consecutive trips to the super bowl. Now that I think of it, maybe that’s just what soured me on football altogether. I have distinct memories of the good and the bad. I remember Scott Norwood’s missed field goal to lose the Super Bowl (Wide Right!). We were listening on the radio to backup QB Frank Reich leading the bills to the greatest comeback in NFL history — overcoming a 35-3 drubbing in the third quarter — against the Houston Oilers (we had to listen to it on the radio, by the way, due to NFL blackout rules). By the way, congrats to Thurman Thomas for making it to the hall this year.
Since adopting Boston as my new home town, I’ve made an effort to like the Patriots. Really, I’ve tried. And I’m really sorry, but that dog just won’t hunt. It seems that as the years go by, I actually like the Patriots less and less. In fact, I found myself rooting for the Colts in the AFC championship game this year. It’s a tough thing to admit, I suppose, for one living in New England, but there you go, I’ve said it.
So, anyway, how many more weeks until the Sox take the field? Props to mrhe for getting the ball rolling on this. I have a healthy dose of skepticism about the whole Dice-K thing, but we’ll see what happens.
Oh, one more thing. Here are a couple of ads from the game last night that were particularly amusing. I think it’s possible that I buy emerald nuts exclusively these days, just on the strength of their advertising. But then again, they are actually some pretty tasty nuts.
So, this past weekend was the world famous annual MIT IAP Mystery Hunt, and for the second year in a row I participated whole-heartedly. Our team, The Chaotic-Neutral Mid-Afternoon Archers What Arch At Teatime, did fairly well. Apparently we finished in approximately 6th place ordered by how many puzzles were completed, but we were really only two or three hard puzzles and maybe a couple of “a-ha!” moments away from being right up there.
The hunt is now archived online, so you can go ahead and try your hand at some puzzles. I’d recommend taking a peek at Blather, and I Love These 80. I suppose that those are two of my favorites, but it’s hard to remember or keep track with so many puzzles over the course of the 2.5-day or so event.
Quinn was kind enough to take and put up some pictures from the weekend, including several of us toiling away in our enclave in Building 56, as well as us partying afterwards at putz (EC 2nd west), where several of us spent our undergraduate days. There was some nice reminiscing to go around, as well as plenty of “back in the day” stories. Supposedly the hall is putting up a wiki so we can document some of the oral and written history of putz, but I suppose that’s for another blog entry.
Very clever online visual identification/movie trivia quiz. So far I’ve only got 11/20 of them (missing 2,5,8,9,11,13,14,17 and 19). Give it a try.
Apparently, I’ve only seen five (12,25,84, 88 and 99). Although it’s possible if the planned vacation next year pans out I’ll be adding at least another three. Looks like there’s a lot more traveling to do for anyone who wants to catch all 100.
But first, a word or two from Abe Lincoln proclaiming the national thanksgiving day in 1863. It was later, of course, moved back a week to the 3rd Thursday in November by FDR in an attempt to lengthen the holiday shopping season and improve fortunes for businesses during the depression:
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.”
Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, 3 October 1863.