Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

June 2nd, 2008:

Odd Lots

  • Carol and I were at the Longmont Dog Show over the weekend, and Aero got another two blue ribbons, though that was in the Open Dog category and didn't yield him any points. I actually “handled” (took around the show ring) another dog owned by Aero's breeder Jimi Henton. Showing Jackie (Jimi's Hit the Jackpot) was fun, especially since Jackie is the biggest, heaviest, strongest bichon any of us has ever seen (23 pounds, all of it muscle!) and there's nothing the least bit fussy about him.
  • The Make blog aggregated an item on making your own railcarts and railbkes. I've often thought that this might be fun (it's certainly nothing new) but the snag is that when railroads abandon a run of track, they typically tear up the rails for scrap almost immediately. The mere presence of iron suggests that trains come through, if only occasionally, and that would make me nervous. I have been looking for but have not yet found an index of track sections where trains are known not to run.
  • In the certifiable Brain Sludge category of Web content falls Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide, which lists (and in most cases shows images of) all the characters hawking cereal on boxes and commercials that you've ever heard of, and I suspect more than a few that you haven't. The list also includes purely fictional cereals like Calvin's Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, and Admiral Crunch and Archduke Chocula from Futureama. Early versions of the Rice Crispies Elves are interesting—and I never knew that Tony the Tiger had a spouse. All here.
  • Speaking of cereal, this article confirms my grocery-store math: House brands cost as much as 40% less than largely indistinguishable name brands. If you're spending more for gas, at least spend less on Rice Chex. The only type of cereal where house brands taste distinctly different to me are oat toruses, or whateverthehell you call them in the generic—Cheerios clones. The house brands are not necessary bad (in fact, the Trader Joe's house brand oat toruses are distinctly better) but it's odd that all the chex and the flakes can't be told apart but Cheerios brooks no imitation. By the way, most house brand cereals are made by Ralston Foods. Here's their list. Of interest to geometers are Crispy Hexagons. What, no Crispy Dodecahedrons?
  • And to round out the discussion of nostaligic carbs, I regret to inform all who may care that Dressel's Cakes are really and truly gone forever. Their distinctive frozen whipped-cream chocolate cake was a Chicago standard for 75 years, coming from their plant at 66th and Ashland Avenues, but the firm was bought by a French company a few years ago and dismantled for reasons unclear. (I'm glad I can still get Green River!)
  • Mike Reith sent a pointer to goosh, a purely textual interface to Google that works a lot like the Unix shell. Could this be useful to the vision-impaired?
  • There are no visible sunspots right now, and according to several items I've read, there have been none for some weeks, and very few for months, all the way back into the middle of last year. Ham radio guys (like me) track sunspot activity closely because it affects shortwave radio propagation. Here's a sample. It's probably too early to worry, but long-term sunspot minima have been very bad juju in the past.