Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Back when I was in college in the early 70s, a woman friend told me, “The trouble with you, Jeff, is that you’re too damned happy!” Maybe this is the answer.
  • Numerous people have sent me links to “St. Patrick Drives the Snakes Out of Ireland” cartoons, and while they’re all good (use Google Images and you’ll see them) they’re not the one I remember, which I’m now pretty sure was published in National Lampoon circa 1974.
  • I misunderstood what my sister said about Crayola crayons in my March 13, 2009 Odd Lots. Crayola (once made by Binney & Smith, now part of the Hallmark empire) manufactures a line of washable crayons, and these are what Gretchen prefers that Katie have, given my elder godchild’s penchant for seeing all the world as her coloring book. The washable crayons have no particular smell to them, but the other day when Gretchen and Bill and the girls and I were in the Mount Prospect Hobby Lobby, Gretchen opened a conventional box of 16 Different Crayola Colors and let me sniff them. Yup. That’s the one. Perhaps some things really are forever.
  • I’ve thought that the name of the Sci-Fi Channel has been an embarrassment for 16 years. (Actually, so have most of their house-bred feature-length films.) But now, they’re changing their name to…Syfy. And adding professional wrestling to the lineup. The dork-in-chief over there says that he’s been trying since the 1990s to “…distance the network from science fiction.” Mission accomplished, dood.
  • From Baron Waste comes a largish drawn panel by Dusty Abell that somehow represents (as far as I know) every significant SF TV show to come out of the 70s. It’s a good proxy for how much TV you watched at the time, muddied by what you may have seen at cons in the middle of the night in intervening years. I can name perhaps a quarter of the shows represented, so I guess I wasn’t particularly tuned in. (I will admit with some embarrassment that the first whose title came to mind was “The Greatest American Hero.”) And although that little robot golem looks familiar, I can’t place the show that it was on.
  • From Pete Albrecht comes a page introducing the Decatron tube, which presents for display a circle of thirty neon-lit points that can be configured to move a group of three around the circle each time a pulse enters the circuit. (Follow the links for more detailed information, especially this one.) The tube “remembers” which group of points is illuminated, and so it can be used to build a decade counter, or a divide-by-10 prescaler for slower mechanical counters. Very slick, and reminds us that technology was perhaps a little more sophisticated in 1954 than we remember–because much of it didn’t sit in the corner of the living room.
  • Here’s a new kind of egoscan, at least for technical writers: Search Google Patents for your name. I’ve been cited 27 times in patent filings.
  • Rich Rostrom reminded me (after I reported close encounters with numerous tumbleweeds on the plains heading out to Chicago) that tumbleweeds are Eurasian imports that hitched a ride along with shipments of agricultural flaxseed from Europe in the 19th Century. Along with other things that we consider iconically American, tumbleweeds actually came from somewhere else. (I guess that makes us the Ecosphere of Immigrants.)
  • I didn’t know that Global Warming™ has made it impossible to build good violins. Um…I still don’t.


  1. Bob Fegert says:

    Your link to the SYFY story on TVWeek is broken…this is the right one I think

    1. Fixed! Thanks for letting me know.

  2. Alan Earnshaw says:

    The “little robot golem” (if I’m looking at the same one you are) seems to be Twiki from “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.”

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