The Abacus

I don’t like math at all, so I’m not sure why I like abaci, but I do. I have a nice wooden one that I got on eBay, it is one of the Japanese style, which seem more elegant in function to me than the Chinese style. I stumble across this site from time to time… it looks as if the author has expanded it quite a bit in the last year.

Visit the site…

Under Sahara

How does a scientist know that the vast, featureless sand fields of the
Sahara once ran with water? Water leaves its mark on the land, cutting
channels and canyons where rivers flowed and leaving depressions where
lakes once pooled. In the Sahara, however, these features are filled with
sand. A scientist would have to look under the sand to find the imprint of
water from wetter climates. These images of the Safsaf Oasis in
south-central Egypt do just that: the top image shows the surface of the
desert, while the lower image reveals the water-carved rock under the

I think I might hate the word "actual."

I have a co-worker who starts many, many sentences with one or the other of two phrases: “To tell you the truth,” or “To be completely honest with you.”

Now… any repetition grates on me (long story) but inanities like these really get to me. I fully expect that my co-worker will be honest with me, so his use of these “filler” phrases gets my goat from two angles; needless statements plus repetition.

As I believe that anything that makes me angry is based more on me than on the thing that seems to be “causing” the anger, I took some time to think through my response to his verbal ticks. For one thing, if a person is lying, it won’t matter if they say “to tell you the truth,” since they’re just as likely to lie after saying that as they would be without the lead-in phrase. So the phrase is useless. Secondly, I realized that I hated hearing those useless phrases because I suspect that I also use such mechanisms in my own speech! Indeed, I have discovered that the word “actual” litters my conversation. I found this out after listening to another co-worker who used the word “actual” several times in almost every sentence he spoke during a presentation.

Having been sensitized to it, I started hearing it in my own sentences. Like “to be completely honest with you,” it is both meaningless and a space filler. In almost any sentence, the word “actual” can be dropped without changing the meaning of the sentence. I find it difficult to locate exceptions, that is… sentences which require the word.

Actually, I am finding it very difficult to remove the actual word “actual” from my actual, everyday actual usage.


IBM SHARK Shorthand

IBM SHARK Shorthand: “The following factors make SHARK shorthand particularly powerful.

Memorability: A person’s ability to recognize, memorize and draw patterns is remarkable. SHARK shorthand capitalizes on this remarkable human capability. Gesturing patterns with a stylus is particularly fluid, dexterous and fun.

Pattern Recognition: SHARK shorthand uses modern digital processing capability to compute the statistical constraints represented by the legitimate sokgraphs on the stylus keyboard. Our pattern recognition technology takes advantage of these constraints and gives the user the maximum flexibility in sokgraph gesturing. An intended word can still be entered although irrelevant letters between intended letters are crossed or even if some of the letters in a word are missed in the stylus trace on the keyboard.”

This is the site discussed in the post a bit further down. – 07/15/2005 – Text entry software spells relief for weary BlackBerry thumbs

“The problem is how to comfortably enter text onto the screens of pocket-size devices. Anyone who uses a cell phone to laboriously tap out text messages, or a BlackBerry to respond to e-mail, knows what I’m talking about – – those tiny keypads cause thumb strain. At the same time, software that attempts to recognize either speech or regular handwriting isn’t reliable.
SHARK in its current form – – demonstrated so far on full-size Windows XP notebooks – – puts a small grid on the screen. The grid shows a cluster of letters in what appears to be random order.
To write a word, you put the stylus on the first letter of the word and then drag the stylus to draw a line through the alphabet cluster, touching every letter in the word. When you lift up the stylus after hitting the last letter, SHARK figures out what word you want and displays it on the screen.”

(read the original article)

Corpse Falls Into Traffic in Texas

DALLAS (AP) — The body of a Louisiana man strapped to a gurney fell from
the back of a pickup truck Tuesday onto a south Dallas highway and into
the path of oncoming traffic. “I didn’t think it was possible for that to
happen,” said Mary Ellen Douglas, who was driving to work when she saw
what she initially thought was a package that had fallen from a truck.

“I wanted to get out of there. It was too freaky for me,” she said in a
story in Wednesday’s editions of The Dallas Morning News.

Authorities said the driver was carrying the body to a Shreveport, La.,
funeral home after the man died Monday at a Mesquite hospital.

“The driver of the truck was not aware that he had lost the body,” Dallas
police Lt. Rick Andrews said. “He saw the open door. He stopped and
looked. He turned around, went back and retraced his steps and found the

Drivers swerved to avoid the corpse and gurney.

Dallas police Senior Cpl. Max Geron said no charges are expected to be

Created: 7/14/2005 9:25:42 AM
Updated: 7/14/2005 9:27:22 AM
© 2004-2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, rewritten, or redistributed.