Saturday, July 31

Friday, July 30

Thursday, July 29

To all you young men out there, this is how you you trim your sideburns.

Unless, you know, you can't grow cool enough facial hair yet. Or conversely, you're a bit more hirsute than I am and wanna go for the full, shaggy 70s look. That's ok too, I guess.

Or the currently trendy "beard-line with no beard inside" pioneered years ago by Prince, and lately seen on every second NBA player (the rest have the chin goatee without the moustache, though that's more of a baseball thing). Everyone has his own style, I guess.

You could do worse than copy the hair and the shirt, too. Not that you should copy others, mind you.

Lastly, those are not wrinkles you see near my eyes... it's a defect in your vision and/or a trick of the light.

Happy 49th Birthday to Martin L. Gore of Depeche Mode.

Ok, it was on the 23rd, I'm 6 days late. Sorry, Martin.

Wednesday, July 28

Thai food.

Some of my favorite Thai dishes...


Tom Kha Gai - Very common soup featuring coconut milk, lemongrass, chicken, and cilantro. Throw some sticky rice in to make it heartier. We used to make it at home every few weeks, it's a real comfort food. Just order 'Tom Kha' to get it without the chicken, really it's just as good.

Glass Noodle Soup - I don't get this one too often, just because I LOVE Tom Kha, but it's very good too. The namesake noodles are in a clear chicken broth usually with mushrooms, tofu, and sometimes bean sprouts or lemon grass. Think Chinese soups and you're in the right neighborhood.


Satay (chicken, beef, or pork) - strips of lean meat skewed with a bamboo stake like a shish kabob, then grilled and served with peanut sauce. Yum! I sometimes get beef if I order this, though I love chicken satay, just because it's easy to overdose on chicken since it's great in soups, curries, and so on.

Thai Spring Rolls - very much like Chinese spring rolls, vegetarian with some thai ingredients like galang and glass noodles. Vietnamese cuisine has something quite similar; in fact I'm pretty sure the Thais borrowed these from Vietnamese menus.

Thai Cucumber Salad - very simple, with cucumbers and sweet tomatoes on baby butter-leaf lettuce topped with a great creamy basil dressing. Dunno how authentic, but most places seem to have it and it's nice and refreshingly cool and mild as a contrast to some of the spicier main dishes.


Pad Thai - everyone's favorite noodle dish. Choice of meats or of no meat. It doesn't really need it in my opinion. Thick rice noodles, fried egg, bean curd, garlic, shallots, chili, palm sugar, fish sauce, and bean sprouts topped with chopped peanuts, lime wedges, and cilantro. The flavors all balance out to create the signature sweet-sour-savory-spicy taste complex that Thai cuisine is know for.

Curries - Could list them separately but basically you can almost get any combination of a) a meat, b) a starch (rice or noodles), c) a curry (red/brown, green, or yellow), and more soupy served in a true bowl or thicker and served in a wider pasta-type dish. I like them all, but it's hard to beat simple yellow curry with chicken and potatoes (Gang-garee gai; "gai" means "chicken" if you haven't figured it out by now). Two others which are very good if you don't mind kicking up the temperature a bit (yellow curry tends to be mild) is green curry and Massaman (a brownish curry popular in the south, near the border with Malaysia). Oh, and I almost forgot, pumpkin curry, if done well, is fantastic. They don't actually use pumpkin but a type of orange squash. Sticks to your ribs and isn't as spicy as the green or brown curries.

Seafood - Thais are big on seafood, and you'll find probably more than you were looking for on the menu. I love the deep fried crispy fish in tamarind sauce (beware if you're squeamish, they leve the head on), garlic bbq prawns, fish cakes (a truly authentic dish - you see Thai people order them like Italians have a side of pasta), and calamari with a lime-chili dipping sauce. But then, I like seafood. Your tastes may vary. Just a precaution - if you do get adventurous, beware, the more authentic the place the more likely they are to have eel or some other thing I'm not real keen on trying. Though most likely, it'd taste great. I just hate to waste a trip to a Thai joint without getting someting I KNOW I'll like. Oh, many of the seafood soups are great too, with a broth/coconut milk combo and scallops, prawns, and who knows what else bobbing around in there. I just don't think about it and eat it, it's usually delicious.


Unlike Chinese cuisine, Thai places will almost always serve you a ball of sweet, sticky rice as a side to any entree. Most do have "normal" white rice as well as friend rice (a Chinese dish you don't usually find in Thailand itself, except in the far north) if that's your thing. You might want to put off having a big "bed" of rice to scoop your other dishes onto as in Chinese though, since rice features prominently in dessert and it would be a shame to get tired of it before then!


This is pretty much one of the areas where Thai cusine really shines; much more so in my opinion than Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, or Laotian. Because Thai food already leans to the sweet side (that oddly satisfying sweet and spicy combo), it's no surprise to see desserts such as coconut rice ice cream, thai custard, sticky rice with mango, thai coconut pudding, and mee krob - a unique crispy noodle matrix glazed with a sugar reduction and often served with subtle amounts of lime, chili, and even one time I saw a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top.


Thai Iced Tea - not everyone likes it, but I love it. Like a sweet tea with a layer of coconut milk at the bottom.

Various teas and coffees - indigenous as well as varieties borrowed from China, England, and all over. The basics, really.

Singha - the most popular Thai beer. Light and crisp but with a nice full flavor and not a lot of aftertaste. Perfect for the daytime heat and humidity of Bangkok, in fact. I could suck down a sick pack of these bad dogs easily just walking around that city for an hour, the heat is that oppressive.


Well, I hope this helped, and apologies anywhere I dumbed down. I'm just not sure what you've had and haven't had.

A typical order for Taunya, Sue, and me would be something like this:
Tom Kha soup, no meat
Chicken or beef satay w/peanut sauce dip
Yellow chicken curry
Pad Thai, veggie or maybe pork
And then I would skip dessert; sometimes they would indulge.

That would fill us all to the brim and usually guarantee leftovers, unless I got on a roll :)


We learned the hard way that finding good, authentic Thai recipes on the internet is like trying to catch wild turkeys on the eve of Thanksgving or seeing gay cowboys pretending to go fishing together... Oh wait, strike that last one. Anyway, I'm not cook enough to tell you where TO go to find the best recipes, except that I'd probably avoid big databases like or, since they don't specialize in Thai cuisine, and merely consist of user-uploaded recipes that then get voted on by others. We found many of these recipes to be what Tex-Mex is to real Mexican food: nothing like it. Many Americans will Americanize the ingredients and cut corners, rather than going to the admitted hassle of finding the correct ingredients, fresh and from an Asian market or a small upscale grocery store which stocks quality Asian produce and spices.

In the end we found a few easy dishes we made fairly often at home (as well as Indian dishes, but that's another post), but for a more complex meal it was always easier to go out :) Plus being waited on by a beautiful Thai girl in a sarong doesn't hurt.

Have fun! Feel free to comment with your own favorite Thai dishes, or anything else on the subject you'd like to say. Like, how popular is Thai food where you live? Have you ever made it at home? It would be fun to put together little guides like this for many major types of cuisine: Indian, Mexican, Spanish, Italian, Hungarian, German, Japanese, and more. But I think I'd subcontract the work for some of those to others who are much more knowledgeable than I. :)

Tuesday, July 27

Ever wanted true typography on your website, in your emails, on social sites, and in documents?

The idea is to code this without making the words a frozen image, so that they remain selectable and copyable as text.
(image: THREESQUAREdesign)

Well, you're not gonna get it, at least not with where the web is at right now. You can get true typographic and font control in a sophisticated page layout program, and create PDFs that preserve most of it, but that's a niche need compared to viewing actual pages right in the browser. Everybody hates PDFs, even though they're great for some things.

Happily, some new font technologies (standards, really) are being proposed for inclusion in HTML5 or CSS3 (more likely) but as usual Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, and Google can't seem to agree on the details. In essence there's a proposal for "web fonts" which would allow designers to use any font they have on their machine and have it actually appear that way on every other machine, including the poor slobs who don't happen to own that (outrageously expensive) typeface. Currently, the browser substitutes a font which is installed on the viewer's machine, with quite unpredictable results. So unless we want browsers to use the same handful of boring fonts forever, we need the ability embed fonts in a viewable-only manner.

The obvious hurdles are: How to make it read-only so people don't somehow retrieve the entire typeface for free (that part's actually quite easy); Whose fonts to include? (There are many type foundries and not all of them like the idea, since they make money selling pricey fonts to designers); And lastly, the always fun "who decides on the actual spec and implementation?" Some want limited font embedding to keep page sizes small and fast-loading. Others want the full range of varities, ligatures, alternate character sets, unusual punctuation, wingdings, and so on - what you would get in a program like InDesign or Quark XPress, essentially.

Beyond just embedding fonts, would new positionally fixed-vs-floating options be included, allowing for more design control over the look of the page? Or would we be limited to the way HTML/CSS currently parses text and offers only rudimentary control over placement, and none over kerning, leading, orientation, fitting a path, and so many other factors that are essential to the print industry but just don't exist in 'electronic print' yet.

However, with the growing number of people reading newspapers, books, and magazines off their iPads and Kindles and with more such devices sure to hit the market, how long can the digital publishing world afford to lag so egregiously behind the print market? Not for long, if they want people to take eBooks (in all forms) seriously as a print-replacement. Now, I love the weight and reality of a good book in my hands. But I can see the value or reading a newspaper or magazine on a slate device - these have a limited shelf-life anyway, and used up and absolute enormous about of paper pulp in their creation. But I wouldn't want to read, say, a fashion or art magazine - where style is part of the substance, on an electronic device unless it looked just as good as the print version. Obviously this means color has to make its debut, but the whole infrastructure for "pixel-perfect grid design" that is the status quo in the print world needs to be grafted or drafted into existing electronic standards to make that a reality. Otherwise, people may read novels or browse websites where there is news, and lots of other fun things, but they will not equal or surpass the look and feel of "real" printed pages. The internet, even in it's so-called 2.0 edition (more interactive design and apps living in clouds, whee!) is still in its infancy when it comes to sophisticated typography, graphic design, and page layout incorporating photos, illustrations, text, and yes even advertisements in a sophisticated, vibrant, "non-web restricted" way.

Newspapers like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and countless others are doing their best at the moment to make their sites look like their printed versions. But it's important to understand this is clever mimicry, not parity of technology. Magazines like Spin, GQ, Rolling Stone, InStyle, and any other which relies heavily on creative visual design to attract and keep their audiences, are faring much worse: Their websites don't even attempt to match their print products. Obviously, something needs to be done.

However, until it is, I'm going to at least give you a list of typographic characters that recent generations have largely forgotten about. Remember how there are two different sets of quote marks, one for the left and one for the right of the phrase in quotations, and how they are curved differently and have different serifs? Remember how a comma and an apostrophe are both curved, not short vertical lines? Remember how there are hypens and dashes, which have totally different purposes, and how dashes themselves are split into widths (en dash, em dash)? What about a true ellipsis, which is not three periods in a row but is much less wide than that and is actually a single character?

Well, in a small attempt to get those who care (including myself) to start using the typographic options which ARE currently available but just rarely used due to the lack of them being printed on keyboard buttons (and who actually uses Ctl+XXXX or Character Map/Key Caps to insert any special characters?), here is a list of oft-needed but rarely actually used characters which are elegant and purposeful, but have largely given way to ugly computer-geek, initially 8-bit ASCII-limited stand ins for the real thing.

Hopefully a much more comprehensive treatment of typography and page design in general will come to fruition before we all die. In the meantime, here are some useful "glyphs" you can use in your own web work that will give it just that bit of sophistication less particular designers lack. Feel free to copy and paste from this page, or better yet, copy and paste just the bottom part and paste it into a local HTM file, a Wordpad (RTF) document, or some kind of easy to open document that still preserves the characters integrity (Notepad won't, unfortunately; I dunno about Mac's basic text editor). I shudder to think at using a Word document, but I suppose if you kept it open all the time, you could escape the horrific loading times of MS Office (or any office suite). Lastly, looking up "typography" on Wikipedia will give you a list of these and more. I just find it handy to have a local document rather having to open a tab and go to Wiki all the time, but it's a matter of personal taste. For what it's worth, I use a free "Notepad replacement" app made by a guy in his space time, which remains as simple as notepad and outputs true plain text (.txt), which I love, but it is smarter than Notepad about extended character sets and Unicode.

Keep in mind also that not every typeface supports every one of these characters. I've chosen a typeface that does, but be sure (obviously) to test them out in your font of choice or else you'll end up with the dreaded gobbledygook when the browser doesn't know what the hell to display. Some glyphs, like registered trademark symbols, also look better in some fonts than others. You get the idea.

Without further ado, here's the list I keep handy and try to use as often as I think of it. And come to think of it, someone should develop a text editor for producing clean HTML which automatically swaps these "real" glyphs in for their faux keyboard equivalent (like Word's "smart quote" feature). Maybe someone already has. Maybe it's in HomeSite or Dreamweaver's latest edition, or in some obscure shareware program. Anyone know? It seems like a killer app for a small set of people; namely designers and perfectionists. Maybe I could code something like that with my stepdad's help...


Handy Characters You Will Not (Easily) Find On Your Keyboard.

en dash
em dash

true apostrophe
true open quote (single)
true close quote (single)
true open quote (double)
true close quote (double)

... true ellipsis
« open guillemet
» close guillemet

¿ inverted question mark
¡ inverted exclamation mark

· interpunct
° degree
? prime

© copyright symbol
trademark symbol
® registered trademark

£ british pound sign
euro sign
¥ japanese yen sign
¢ american cent sign

§ section sign
¶ pilcrow
| vertical bar

double dagger

This is just my handy cheat-sheet. If you regularly type in languages which involve characters with accents, circumflexes, or umlauts, not to mention the kinds of special torture Scandinavians and Poles subject their letters to, and you don't possess a keyboard designed to type those characters easily, why not add them to this list? It looks much nicer than leaving them out altogether.

For example, it's much cooler, and more accurate, to write Björk Guðmundsdóttir when talking about the Icelandic singer than it is to wrote Bjork Gudmundsdottir. The former is her true name; the latter is an approximation of it.

I try to preserve foreign characters (foreign to English-speakers) whenever possible, though I know I slip a lot. I am trying to fight for a future where such fidelity to true words and names is much easier to attain than it is now. Hopefully our children or grandchildren (or us in our lifetimes, think of that!) will see a revolution in font embedding, Unicode evolution, typographic controls, and many other page design acrobatics that we see in print all the time (see above photo). Only then will the web be capable of displaying something as beautiful and hand-crafted as the written page.

Though, you'll still find me holed up somewhere, smelling the newly cut edges of some hardcover book, savoring the texture and thickness of the paper, and feeling that comfort of a genuine printed tome in my hands. We may be among the last generations to know or appreciate what the real thing is like. A physical book is like a tree: you can make a perfect replica of it in a digital space, but the book and the tree are so much more than just the sum of their parts. Ok, enough from this crazed bibliophile. I may launch into Zen Calligraphy if I go on, and if you've made it this far, that would surely be the final blow.

Sound off!

Sunday, July 25

Lightning strike!

(Photo by "drtonyb" using a Nikon D90 and Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens)

YOU select the subject of the next quiz.

Here are the categories...

A. Science and Nature.
B. History.
C. Popular Culture.
D. Sports and Games.
E. Art and Literature.
F. Mythology.
G. Food Facts.

Just vote once; leave a comment with a single letter, and I'll tally them up at the end.

Note: I'll try to make each about the same intrinsic difficulty level; however, each person who plays will obviously have her/his own strengths and weaknesses.

Friday, July 23

Things in fours.

 Four sons of Horus.

1. 4 ethnicities to combine for a great looking person.
2. 4 musicians to put in a 4-piece band to make a great band.
3. 4 things to stick on a sandwich for a great sandwich.
4. 4 sports you'd love to be really good at (you're in shape).
5. 4 languages you don't speak that you'd like to be fluent in.
6. 4 countries you'd like to see disappear (no one gets hurt).
7. 4 epic movies you could watch all in a row on a free day.
8. 4 animals that would be fun to have as pets (1 only of each).

No points, obviously - it's not a quiz! And feel free only answer which ones you want. I won't get my feelings hurt. I'll play too :)

Thursday, July 22

Róisín Marie Murphy, former singer and lyricist for Moloko, now a solo artist, mother, and model..


Name That Dino!

Each one is worth 2 points, for a max of 10 points. Spelling doesn't count, unless I can't even make sense of what you typed. If you're close on the species, I'll give you 1 point (half credit). These are all common ones, and common names are fine. Hungarian names are fine too :) If you give me the scientific names, you get 3 points and win the next three quizzes automatically! Lastly, (A) is not a Brontosaurus. And their tails are not chopped off; that's the picture's borders. I would never do that to a dinosaur.

Good luck and try not to be too scared.
(Answer in the comments section and don't cheat!)

Sunday, July 18

Wednesday, July 14

A short quiz about random things.

Without cheating....

1. Name as many songs as you can with the word "Tears" in the title (Max 10).
2. Name as many horse breeds as you can (Max 10).
3. Name as many Japanese automotive brands (not sub-brands) as you can (Max 10).
4. Name as many extinct languages as you can (Max 10).
5. Name as many religions as you can (be specific; "paganism" won't count) (Max 10).

Each question is worth between 0 and 10 points.
If you were to name 10 correct items for each question, you'd get 50/50, which is 100%.

You are not penalized for wrong answers, but I only count the first 10 answers you list for each question, so there's no use in listing 20 hoping you'll get 10 right. Might as well stop when you get to 10, if you get to 10.

Have fun!

Tuesday, July 13

Red House Painters.

"Katy Song"

"Song for a Blue Guitar"

Thursday, July 8

Philip Quast as Javert singing "Stars" for the Les Mis 10th Anniversary concert.

Is Les Miserables still playing anywhere? If it is and you haven't seen it - for shame! Get out and see it at once. Nothing commercially available captures the whole musical, only the main songs, or as in this commemorative concert, the main songs coupled with some dress-up and a revolving stage. All nice, but not nearly the experience of seeing the whole thing with everyone in costume, acting, and all the sung lines which weave the plot tightly together. Nothing is spoken in the play, even the material between the actual songs is sung.

Unfortunately even if it's still playing off-Broadway, you will never see it with Colm Wilkinson, Philip Quast, Michael Ball, et al, as it was in its original run. That lineup of voices may never be matched! But you can buy CDs and DVDs of various performances, so all is not lost. It really helps to have SEEN it in person first, though, as you'll miss half of the full musical if you only listen to what is available. It's the continual recurrence of musical and lyrical themes throughout the performance that in my opinion really shows the genius behind its creation and sends those tingles down your spine and tears down your cheek at just the right times.

Two unreleased tunes by Brendan Perry.



~ Music, words, vocals, instruments by B. Perry ~

Dead Can Dance — "I Can See Now / American Dreaming" medley (Live in Santa Monica, CA, 1994)

"I Can See Now"

Ever loved a woman who made you feel tall?
Ever loved a man who made you feel small?

If you were a sailor
I'd raise the anchor
To sail the sea
In search of you and me
And god

Conjures currents to break our fragile boats
And both the innocent and the damned
Are swallowed up in his wake

If you were a huntress
I'd be your bow
For your silver arrows
To seek out his heart

Ever loved a woman who made you feel tall?
Ever loved a man who made you feel small?

Who are you to complain
For lack of understanding?
We are all created equal
In just one thing alone


In your thoughts that consume you through your life
They'll take you outwards to the dark edge of time
And there's nothing more dangerous
Than a man with nothing to lose
Nothing to live for
And nothing to prove.

"American Dreaming"

I need my conscience to keep watch over me
To protect me from myself
So I can wear honesty like a crown on my head
When I walk into the promised land

We've been too long American dreaming
I think we've all lost the way
Forlorn somnambulistic maniacal in the dark

I'm in love with an American girl
Well, she's my best friend
I love her surreptitious smile
That hides the pain within her

And we'll go dancing in the rings of laughter
And leave alone by the shores
Stay long in the brands of rapture
And leave alone for the loss

Faith, on the lea the rising wind blows
Faith, on the lea the rising wind blows
How long? how long?

Here alone on the grounds of allegiances we've left behind
Turned back by the foot of the doorway
Never lost and found

We've been too long American dreaming
I think we've lost the heart
Forlorn somnambulistic maniacal in the dark

Faith, on the lea the rising wind blows
Faith, on the lea the rising wind blows
How long? how long?

—Lyrics by Brendan Perry—

Monday, July 5


Condemned mental hospital, New England, turn of the 20th c.

I have so many ideas... so many story threads, fact and fiction, in my head and wanting to get out, onto a page, phrased clearly and carefully, and to you - to everyone. I'm in fact, overwhelmed.

What do I do? There are so many things I want to teach people about, and equally as many questions I want to ask, and absorb the answers. Infinitely many trails I want to follow.

How do I simply put the small Quicktime audio controls directly on the page without using a link to open a new page or something written in JavaScript? How do I keep it as simple as possible? Does anyone know?

I've been looking and I've learned a lot, but for every answer I find I have five more questions. I want the best usability, the highest quality, the most pleasing aesthetics, the most potent impact.

Life-Savers are too small to save my life. Why do they call them that? People are too busy or in pain to pow-wow with me for a meaningful duration, and there is no physical presence - I'm alone.

I can sit as comfortably as I can and listen to the right thing, practice existing in the present, bringing myself back to sensory input without judgment over and over again until my knee screams out.

I can multitask on a hundred things in a frenzy like turtles rushing to the sea under a full moon and I can clear my mind of all thoughts, at least sometimes. But I still have so much to give, and

It feels like it's rotting inside me - blossoms of history and connections I've discovered but cannot find time nor will to convey, eat like cancer inside me. I don't know why I feel any needs at all.

We are evolved from nonliving chemicals whose physical shape makes them act in some minutely meaningful way and allows us to create the Hoover Dam and the Pyramid of Khufu. Why do we feel anything,

Besides hunger, thirst, the need for sleep? I do. I hesitate to write a single word, deliberating. But if I did make up my mind, I'd want to write the sequel to the Principia or GEB. And go beyond.

And I feel handcuffed. How do other people get through their days bombarded by a thousand rogue thoughts and to-dos and want-to-dos? Do you have these needs? How do you adhere to structure?

Are you passionate, and feel compelled to share the beauty and horror so profound it makes me cry like a child? I still feel Everything; I've tried all I can think of to kill it off, but it's stronger than ever.

This goes out to you romantics.

(Chris Isaak - [1989] "Blue Spanish Sky")

Saturday, July 3

Testing streaming audio directly (without using a widget, Javascript, or a 3rd party interface).

The Phantom commands you to Click!

This should open a new window or tab (depending on your browser and settings), which should play the song as it streams from my server to your computer. If it instead prompts you to save the file, it's not working properly - please let me know in the comments.

The new window/tab is a minor annoyance, and I'm thinking of a better way of doing it straight from HTML, but it's preferable to replacing the whole blog with a blank page playing a song. The ideal would be to have some tiny little control to start, pause, and stop. I'll try to find a javascript snippet for that. Til then, just bring the main blog page back to the foreground and the song will play in the background.

The when it's over, you can close that background page. If you click another streaming audio link, it should open again with the new song (or in another new window/tab if you left the original open). Again, a bit messy, but then at least it doesn't interrupt reading the blog - even leaving comments, etc., while the song is playing.

I could even set up play-lists like this, rather than embedded as they were before in an interface. By having a pop-out page or pop-out player widget, the music could rock you while you continued to read or view the blog. :) If anyone sees a particularly clever implementation of music in a blog, feel free to send me a link to it and I'll see how they've done it. Thanks!

Oh, and enjoy the voices of Emmy Rossum and Gerry Butler as Christine and Erik (The Phantom).

Thursday, July 1

"In the practice of meditation, all thoughts are the same: pious thoughts, very beautiful thoughts, religious thoughts, calm thoughts - they are all still thoughts. You do not try to cultivate calm thoughts and suppress so-called neurotic thoughts. This is an interesting point. When we speak of treading the path of the dharma, which... is the Fourth Noble Truth, it does not mean that we become religious, calm, good. Trying to be calm, trying to be good, is also an aspect of striving, of neuroticism. Religiously inclined thoughts are the watcher, the judge, and confused, wordly thoughts are the actor, the doer. For instance if you meditate, you might experience ordinary domestic thoughts and at the same time there is a watcher saying "You shouldn't do this, you shouldn't do that, but you should come back to meditate." These pious thoughts are still thoughts and should not be cultivated."

—Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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