Archive for October, 2009

Archives and Categories Widgets

Hey all you WordPress users: are you jealous of people on Blogger who get fancy archives and categories that display the links in a collapsible/expandable list? Do you want the little arrows next to your links too?

Your wait is over – Collapsing Archives and Categories are here.

Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic. And it’s not new. I noticed that my WordPress blog had very bulky and boring Archives and Categories sections, so I searched for widgets that would make them better.

I found Collapsing Archives and Collapsing Categories, by Rob Felty. They did basically what I wanted, but they didn’t look quite right to me. So I separated the date from the post title and I think they look much better now.

Before Collapsing Archives before modification
After Collapsing Archives after modification

Anyway, he did all the hard work – I simply modified them slightly so that they would look more like I wanted them to look. If you want to see them in action, just look on the right side of this blog until you see “Categories” or “Archives”. Those sections are the widgets.

You can visit the Collapsing Categories page or Collapsing Archive page to read more about them, including steps how to modify the widgets to make the dates distinct from the titles.

Then King Darius issued a decree, and search was made in the archives, where the treasures were stored in Babylon.

Ezra 6:1

Adjective Flu

First bird flu, now swine flu…

A co-worker and I were wondering what will be next, probably in a year or so. We came up with horse flu and frog flu and fish flu. I think we could come up with the next global scare (remember, you can’t spell pandemic without panic) if we just randomly affix a type of animal the to word flu. No, not the real animal, just its Latin name.

Why is it called the Swine Flu and not the Porcine Flu?

The only answer I could muster is that swine is a noun and porcine is an adjective. That provoked me to wonder “What about avian flu? Isn’t avian an adjective?”

Avian is an adjective, but don’t forget about bird flu. So that’s a toss-up.

Then there was the great Hong Kong flu of 1968. Hong Kong is a proper noun, but that still counts. I suppose the adjective form of the whole term would be “Hong Kong flu-y”, and it would make you a number one super guy. And I will resist the urge to insert a “Kung-Flu Fighting” joke here.

Another flu strain throws a wrench into all these works – the Spanish flu. Spanish is definitely an adjective. The noun would be Spain. But no one calls it Spain flu. So maybe there’s no rule about how to name a flu strain.

I would like the adjective form of flu names. That way we could use all those obscure terms like

  • equine flu
  • ranine flu
  • piscine flu
  • bovine flu
  • vulpine flu
  • lupine flu
  • ovine flu
  • apian flu
  • etc.

Just don’t get the donkey flu.

Also every sickness and every plague which, not written in the book of this law, the LORD will bring on you until you are destroyed.

Deuteronomy 28:61

A Whiny Day

Currently, my kids come to me about everything. Okay, maybe it just seems like everything. I’m sure my wife hears more of their needs than do I. One of my jobs as a parent is to get them to be able to resolve conflicts peacefully on their own.

They were not getting along well the other day. They went back and forth throughout much of the day, and it got rather comical after a while.

Beta : “Daddy, Alpha is using his whiny voice!

Alpha : “Daddy, Beta put his toe in my eye!

I suppose I see their problems as rather trivial and wonder why they need to call me over to settle who gets what Lego or who read which book first last night, but to a small child those are the important things.

I am just glad that the conflicts are that trivial – who gets the red plate and who gets the blue plate – and they (and I) don’t have bigger worries.

Finally, just before bedtime when the kids were getting their books for me to read to them, I heard this:
Daddy, Beta is not letting me get through!
Well, did you ask him to move?

(slight pause)

Beta, please move so I can get through.
Daddy, I asked nicely for him to move, and he moved!

Funny how that works… This situation definitely needed some encouragement thrown in, so they would remember how well things work when you are nice.

Good job to both of you.

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,

2 Timothy 2:24

Get Your Own Order

I went out to eat for lunch yesterday. I looked at the menu and picked out what I wanted. The waitress came to take our orders. The guy at the end went first. All standard stuff so far.

Then the guy next to me went. He ordered the same sandwich I had picked for myself. Arrgh…I hate it when that happens.

But that’s okay, because he still has to pick out a side dish. There’s no way he would pick the same side as I.

(And yes, I do try to have good grammar even in my thoughts.)

Then he picked the same side dish that I had chosen.

I was torn, oh so torn, as to whether I should change my order.

I could get the coleslaw instead. That would make it a different order.

But I decided to stick with my original order. And you know what? It tasted just fine and was not affected by the fact that the guy next to me was eating the same thing.

My wife doesn’t understand why it’s a big deal what other people order at the restaurant. I know I’m not the only one like that. It doesn’t matter if the other person knows what I’m ordering (“steals my order” after hearing me order it) or just randomly gets the same thing (as in this case). Either way, I am troubled by it.

But why? I haven’t figured that out yet. Maybe it’s a desire to be unique, to be myself. But why can’t myself be similar to someone else?

Random Life Tip : When you put dishes away from the dishwasher, unload the bottom rack first before even pulling out the top rack. If, just hypothetically speaking here, there were a bowl in the top rack that was upside-up and so it got filled with water because it couldn’t drain, you wouldn’t want that bowl to spill water all over the formerly-dry dishes in the bottom rack. Not that it would ever happen to me.

As for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.

Genesis 6:21

Three Square Desserts Per Day

Knowing that I like chocolate, my wife got me a bag of chocolate for a present. The Ghirardelli dark chocolate assortment, also known as the “Dark Collection” (almost makes it sound ominous) :

Bag of assorted Ghirardelli dark chocolates

These dark chocolates come in three varieties:

  • plain dark chocolate (60% cacao),
  • dark chocolate with raspberry filling, and
  • dark chocolate with caramel filling


Three types of Ghirardelli dark chocolates

The plain dark chocolate is self-explanatory. Actually, they all are. And they were all very tasty. But I prefer caramel with milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate.

For some reason, the sweeter milk chocolate taste mingles with the caramel filling better. The dark chocolate and caramel are polite to each other but they never get past the formalities, leaving one’s mouth with two distinct tastes that have an unspoken agreement that they will never be more than passing acquaintances.

The dark chocolate and raspberry complement each other nicely. The raspberry filling has seeds, ensuring that the eater knows this is real filling made from real fruit.

The nutrition information informs its reader that the average bag contains 21 squares of chocolate. The average person would be able to know that 21 pieces and 3 flavors should result in 7 pieces of each flavor. That would be a reasonable assumption.

Another reasonable assumption would be that there is no good reason to read the nutrition information on a bag of chocolates.

To verify their claims, I counted the pieces in a bag – 21 pieces. I counted how many of each variety – 6 of each with filling and 9 of the plain dark chocolate. Pretty sneaky of them to provide more pieces of the cheaper chocolate and fewer of the better chocolate. Here is how it all stacks up :

Stacks of assorted Ghirardelli dark chocolates

Astute readers will notice that the middle stack has only 8 pieces of chocolate, not the 9 that I claimed earlier. The ostensible reason for that is that it was done to show that 8 pieces of plain chocolate are equivalent in volume to 6 pieces of filled chocolate. Ghirardelli provided the same amount of chocolate per flavor even though the number of pieces differed.

The real reason is that someone ate a piece of chocolate between the time I counted the pieces and the time I stacked and photographed them.

And just to make sure that the sample size of one bag of chocolates was representative of the lot of bags, I counted the distribution of flavors in another bag. It was the same – 6 raspberry, 6 caramel, and 9 plain.

Of course, I had to check if the flavors were consistent from bag to bag.

Ahh … research is so rough sometimes.

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

Psalm 19:10

Colorful Inventiveness

Olive has a bad reputation. No, not her…The color olive.

Why is it Olive Drab? That’s such an unflattering name. I propose a new name: Olive Lively! (exclamation point optional)

Of course, it couldn’t apply to the same exact color.

Here is Olive Drab (with its color code):


And here is my new color Olive Lively! (with its color code too):


Note that my Olive Drab is the internet version and does not conform to the color standards of the federal government.

But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.

Psalm 52:8

Leaking Van Seat

We have the Stow-n-Go seating in our minivan and it is very nice. Need some extra room – just fold the seat down. I know it’s old news now, as that feature has been out for a few years, but I need to set the background here.

I was folding the seat into the floor for whatever trip we were taking, and the seat started hissing at me. I stood there perplexed, because I had always thought the folding mechanism was coil-spring assisted, not gas-spring assisted. I was wondering why I had never noticed the gas springs.

And the seat kept hissing.

Finally I stopped wondering about the seat and actually looked at it. By now there was a mist coming out of the seat. At the beginning of the mist was the source of the hissing noise, and it wasn’t a gas-spring.

It was my old nemesis – the spray-on sunscreen.

It was supposed to have a cap that prevented the nozzle from being pressed, but the cap was lost. The can got stuck under the seat and when I folded the seat, the folding mechanism pushed against the nozzle and out came the sprayscreen.

I unfolded the seat and the spraying stopped.

Make sure you keep your spray cans secure and their nozzles locked.

And it’s not limited to just sunscreen. I have noticed aerosol version of various things. People have known about aerosol cheese (AKA self-propelled cheese) for a little while. I have never trusted that.

And now I have seen the Batter Blaster. Why do pancakes need to be self-propelled? That would make quite a mess if that got loose in the van.

It claps its hands in derision and hisses him out of his place.

Job 27:23