Updated "phraser" word list

I updated that big ranked "phraser" word list (and also the even bigger ranked phrase list). It counts words (and phrases) from different sources than it did before.

• The Expanded Crossword Name Database lists people, places, and things associated with "groups/identities/people that are often excluded from crossword grids". This meant adding support to phraser for reading Crossword Compiler word lists…


Report: The Secret to Superhuman Strength
It's a graphic novel memoir by Alison Bechdel, who you might remember from Fun Home. It's about her attempt to keep mens sana in corpore sano (sound body, sound mind). She talks about her experiences exercising; and it's always in the context of her life; and she's human, so you get to find out about her fucking up (and occasionally getting things right) in between the fitne…


Book Report: Forced Perspectives

This , sequel to Alternate Routes, further explores a world in which ghosts' haunting behavior obeys physical laws that living humans only halfway understand. Also, self-negating cultists seek to erase their personalities by forming an égrégore, a sort of mystical hive-mind. Much of the action takes place on Topanga Canyon Road, so you can try to imagine what it was like before the fires.

It's been two weeks since my second COVID vaccine dose. I'm about as immune as I'm gonna get.

San Franciscans, I'm about on pace, vaccination-wise, with the median city resident over 16 years old. I.e., if you're hanging out with other local grown-ups, about half are fully vaccinated as of today.

(For folks who are trying to gauge vaccine side effect trends: My arm was a little hurty yesterday near the infection site. Today I feel fine.)

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Current post shot #2 status: Bracing myself for side effects and/or superpowers.

I saw this sign at the Lawn Bowling Club in Golden Gate Park.

Why did they call it a "decoy bird" instead of a "scarecrow"?

I never saw the fake bird. I looked around and thought I spotted a couple of fake crows up on a nearby rooftop, but those "fake" crows cawed and flew off.

Now I wonder if the sign was fake.

Many people have made the joke "Those pants are on their last legs," but few point out that the statement is both figuratively and literally true. Or at least I didn't notice any in the top few Google results.

With another wildfire season approaching, I finally got off my butt and bought an air purifier. At last, I am ready for wildfires!

I _wasn't_ ready for the strong plastic smell that the device emitted when unwrapped. Marketed to folks with sensitive noses, it introduces itself by stinking up the place. I didn't keel over; I doubt this thing outgassed dangerous levels of volatile thingies. But as a member of Generation X, I am VERY sensitive to all levels of irony and this situation has plenty.

My local Nextdoor is full, as ever, of whiners. Lately, car drivers have been squawking about streets that got closed to through traffic to ease pandemic exercise—give folks space to bike and run without having to make their way to a park. The Nextdoor whiners have been strikingly un-self-aware, so angry that the exercisers have been alloted so much space, not considering how much space has been given over to drivers.

It reminds me of some news articles from 1894...


I made a picture filter. I call it "circly" because it's kinda like pixelize, but with circles. And then I made a web page of circle-drawing animations so you can lose yourself in watching lots of circles appearing or anyhow that's what I spent way too much time doing.

At first I thought I should use k-means clustering to choose which circles to draw. But then I tried just choosing random circles and that looked about the same and was much faster. And then I tr…


Lately, I've been playing The Walk ( thewalkgame.com/ ) to make my walks more interesting.

During the pandemic, my usual way of keeping walks interesting doesn't work. I'd hop on a bus/train so I could walk someplace I hadn't visited recently. But nowadays, public transit is for essential trips only. I haven't left the city in more than a year and don't stray far from my neighborhood; I re-walk the same routes. It would be dull, b…


Report: The Doomsday Calculation

Back when I was a humble computer science university student learning how to write operating systems, we learned a simple trick.

A computer might run several programs at the same time: a web browser in one window, a text file editor in another window, several programs that don't even have windows… There are so many programs running that they can't actually run at the same time; there aren't enoug…


The US Postal Service announced new for 2021. One title especially caught my eye: "Mystery Message." Wow, a stamp with a hidden message. Sounds like something right up my alley.

According to the USPS explainer page, this stamp's hidden message is MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE!, as spelled out in a designer-ish semi-readable font. But as any serious puzzler will tell you, that's kind of a shallow mystery. Surely there must be another in there, an extra-myster…


Report: Mazes for Programmers

This book is about randomly generating mazes by writing computer programs. Before reading this book, I'd tried randomly generating some mazes, but no had pleased me: too many little nubbly dead ends. This book showed an algorithm (well, a few algorithms) that didn't have so many dead ends. (The secret, obvious when you hear it but I swear not s…


Report: Humble Pi

This book talks about errors and the consequences that follow. There are errors of , software errors (dear to my heart), and plain old computation errors. Some of these get pretty interesting. E.g., until I read this book, I thought the designers of the Millennium Bridge must be pretty darned incompetent. When pedestrians walked across the newly-constructed Millennium Bridge, it started to shake itself apart. Engineers have kno…


Report: Attack Surface

This novel is a sequel to Homeland and Little Brother. It's OK. It leans pretty hard on your suspension of disbelief; a major plot point involves some programmers being good both at hacking security and some gnarly AI. And there's an attempt at a complex character in a pretty-darned-plot-driven book. And… anyhow, this book is OK.


Maybe people here will understand my pun better than people on Twitter did.

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