Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • I’m still alive, and still remodeling. Designing two more Elfa buildouts, in fact, before the Container Store’s annual Elfa sale times out on January 31. Getting migraines from craning my neck during ladder work, too, which has made me disinclined to be perky in this space. It won’t be forever; the painting was finished today, finally. But it will be February before the carpeting’s in.
  • From the Words I Didn’t Know Until Yesterday Department: plectrum, an implement used to pluck the strings of a stringed instrument such as a guitar or harpsichord. Among the many forms of plectra are guitar picks and harpsichord jacks.
  • Here’s an intriguing list of major solar flare events, beginning with the Carrington Event in 1859. Is it just me, or has the Sun done a lot of quieting down in the last 100-odd years?
  • Why Megaupload? Those guys had four percent of all Internet traffic worldwide, all of it Linux distros and Project Gutenberg mirrors. Yeah, that’s it. Yeah.
  • On the other hand, there are a lot of people who were using Megaupload as a cloud server for their own files. And you wonder why I like local storage.
  • As I take a break from remodeling to try and get my head around various current IP topics, it occurs to me that the well-covered Megaupload bust is Streisanding the hell out of the bitlocker concept itself. People who had never heard of bitlockers (alias “one-click hosting”) or indexes like FilesTube are doubtless adding lots of new bookmarks today.
  • That swoopy one-piece telephone with the dial on the bottom that you used to see in a lot of spy movies and TV shows? The Ericophon.
  • Nancy Frier has found a niche printing firm that can actually print from then original plates used in Alox kites, and so new kites using the original Alox designs may well live again. More as it happens.
  • This dream is such a common phenomenon that the dream itself must have a name. What is it? (I’ve had it now and then for probably thirty years.)
  • Is there a utility that will search a Web page or pages for a list of search terms every X minutes / days / weeks ?


  1. Now I remember the music teacher in grade school who would ask, “Who needs to replace their plectrum?”, to which we replied with a collective “Say Whaaa?”

  2. Erbo says:

    I use Dropbox for online storage of certain data myself. It’s pretty transparent to use on your Windows machine–or on your Linux one! (Yes, it’s fully supported on Linux! Amazing!) It works with iOS and Android devices, too. There are sharing and public-hosting options available, but I don’t usually use them. Nor do I put music or video files there; with limited space, I wouldn’t use it for that.

    Among other things, after the iOS 5 upgrade disaster completely hosed my password manager, I got one called mSecure that runs on both Windows and iOS (Android, too, I think) and syncs via Dropbox. Hopefully this will mean I’ll never have to worry about losing all my passwords again. (Yes, it’s encrypted, over and above the encryption Dropbox uses for file storage.)

    1. Jim Strickland and I used DropBox while we were collaborating on the Drumlins double, and I still have it, though I don’t use it except when I have something to share with Jim. It worked very well, though I didn’t test it on Linux.

      That password manager is sounding better all the time; my passwords have gotten much longer over the years, and forgetting the old ones is sometimes harder than remembering the new ones!

  3. Larry N says:

    You are of course right about the ubiquity of the “forgotten class” dream.

    Lately I’ve been wondering if early life experiences have extra weight in the overall content of dreams. A disproportionate number of my dreams are set in the town where I grew up as a boy. If I analyze a dream, the physical/spatial relationships are very likely to echo back to boyhood places.

    I lived there 18 years. I’ve lived in Walla Walla 38 years. So why so many dreams set in my boyhood town, even when the setting isn’t particularly relevant to the dream?

    At least my “forgotten class” dreams have diminished a lot over the years. A frequent variation for me was dreaming that I hadn’t stopped by the student union to pick up my mail all semester. Invariably that mail overflowed with information about forgotten classes.

  4. Andrew from Vancouver says:

    Jeff, have you tried Google Alerts? You get your results by email, and you can limit the search to a particular website, like “drumlin”

    And yes, decades later I too still have that dream.

  5. Jim Tubman says:

    The dream is worse when, not only did you forget that there was an exam, but you also forgot to wear any clothes.

    1. Women seem to report that variation more often than men. I wonder what that says about men…

  6. Andy Kowalczyk says:

    Just read your kite articles. The dimestore box kite was my favorite. It always seemed to pull the string at a different angle than the diamond kites, so on a good kite flying day you could annoy all the other fliers by having your line cross all theirs 🙂

    My big thrill was getting three box kites in a train. I lost the first one because there was so much pull that the bottom length of kite string would break. I switched to masons line.

    1. Hokey smoke! You got three box kites up on one line at the same time? I could barely keep one of them in the air for two minutes! My flying field was far from optimal, but this is a species of skill I was born without.

      1. Andy Kowalczyk says:

        We must’ve had better wind in Marquette Park. Once you get the first one up the second one is easy – the first kite just takes it up.

  7. Eddie H. says:

    Nancy might also consider Indian Hill Press for her letterpress printing needs.

  8. Rich Rostrom says:

    Is it just me, or has the Sun done a lot of quieting down in the last 100-odd years?

    We don’t have enough history to know what the “normal” state of solar weather is. (If we had good aurora records for several hundred or several thousand years…)

    It may well be that the last 100 has been an unusual lull. This could be a “Fermi filter” – that is, a civilization which approaches 20th century technology typically gets hammered back by repeated solar storms. If there was a “Carrington Event” every 5-10 years, could tech civilization survive and progress?

    1. That’s a helluvan interesting insight: Star travel almost by definition requires microelectronics, and a star that aimed Carrington-class storms at its Earthlike planet every 100-200 years could very easily be a Fermi filter. Much depends on how often Carrington-class storms occur, and as we only have one data point, that’s tough to predict.

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