Happy 71st Birthday, Grandma Betty!

(This blast from the past was originally published in October of 2002, without the image)

“Daddy and I” Photo copyright © 1939 Maynard and Betty Ranum, scanned 2017.

October 30th is Mom’s B-Day. I don’t have a picture of her, either, at least not scanned in and ready for me to put online.

Grandma Betty is old, and now she’s officially even older. She was born way back in prehistoric times, long before electricity was invented even, in northern Minnesota which, at that time, was only a hop-skip-and-jump away from both the retreating ice age glaciers (her daddy still hunted mammoths) and the edge of the world (it was flat back then. Like a balloon. It’s round ‘cuz someone invented electricity which let Grandpa Maynard blow it up with his air compressor.)

Now Grandma Betty lives back in the hinterlands of northern Minnesota (she did a lot of stuff, including leaving Viking, that I’m leaving out of this biography), a third-world countryside, and they even have *computers* there now, which lets them get on the internet. Once in a while. Actually, pretty rarely, and then only to harrass her long-suffering off-sprung. Anyway, way far North where she is they’re expecting another ice age. But at least there weren’t many mosquitos at her birthday party. And I’m sure she had a wonderful time ‘cuz I couldn’t get a hold of her on the phone all day. Maybe the phones don’t work there.

Design Pattern: Entity-Attribute-Value

icon for code development
2-D directed graph, Sparse Matrix. from Pajek network: Graph Drawing contest 1996

The entity-attribute-value pattern[PPR, en.WP] is one of those programming tools which is a hammer: once you know it, everything looks like a nail. And maybe, if you squint hard, you really can hammer just about any data problem with it. Which does not make it the right tool. Actually, it is almost never the right tool.

Which of course is why I am seriously considering using it. But let me write about the pattern to see if I know it well enough to explain it. Continue reading “Design Pattern: Entity-Attribute-Value”


(Originally posted 30 Oct 2002)

Time and space are not things you can buy more of. You can’t build a box and fill it up with more space. Nowhere can you order a few extra hours, or years. We can measure them, but we don’t really understand them. – Unknown

OMG I think I found an economist I can almost respect

It is not often I need to reach for the wiktionary to decipher a sentence in English. Indeed, the writing of Paul Krugman[en.WP] for the New York Times is rather larded with overly-precise, obscure, and fussy word choices, often apparently for the simple love of language. For this alone I might respect him.

But unlike every other economist I have read – and I have avoided all but the ineluctable[NYT] – he seemingly thinks. Continue reading “OMG I think I found an economist I can almost respect”

Rail romance

Via Rail train.
Photograph by Alan Macek (aka en:User:Al guy) on August 13, 2005 of Train #14, the Ocean[en.WP]. from Commons.Wikimedia.Org
I was just noodling about, researching a summer holiday trip to Nova Scotia. Taking the Via Rail trip would take a minimum of 7 days each way, assuming zero train delays/disruptions. And about $1500 to ride economy, not including meals. Or the minimum overnight hotel in Toronto.

Which is somewhat more than the business class airfare on Air Canada which does the round trip in 16 hours.