Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Or, why I was home yesterday nursing a crushing headache. Yesterday in the Hebrew (Lunar) calendar was the ninth of the month of Av (Tish'a B'Av.) This date is auspicious in Jewish history as it caps a yearly three-week mourning period that commemorates the siege of the Holy City of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (actually, both Temples) some 2,000-odd years ago. In recognition of these events, yesterday was a day of prayer, mourning and fasting for the Jewish people. To get back to the headache part, well, you try not eating or drinking for over 25 hours (that includes coffee) and see how you feel! By virtue of the time of the year that Tish'a B'Av falls out in, it is the longest -and thus most difficult- fast day in the Jewish schedule. The prayers and lamentations recited during Tish'a B'Av recount the horrific details of the destruction of the Holy City and Temple and the disbursement, torture and slaughter of the Jewish people. The silver lining, however, is the affirmation of G-d's love for his people and their eventual redemption. A more thorough explanation of the "three weeks" and Tish'a B'Av can be found here.

Monday, July 26, 2004


This funny looking contraption is my sister's neighbor's vintage 3 wheeled, right-hand drive car. I think it's of Italian origin, but I can't recall exactly. Oddball and old cars fascinate me. Remember Urkel's weird car? That one was actually a tricycle too, a BWM Isetta. It seems that the Europeans took to building innovative wheels after World War II that were cheap to manufacture, cheap on gas and easy to navigate Europe's narrow city streets. They still like micro cars in Europe and Japan, although they don't make them in weird configurations like the aforementioned two vehicles anymore. We're starting to get a taste for them in the US with cars like the Mini and the Scion brand (from Toyota.) The Smart car will be coming here in a few years. Here in America we're mostly into such cars for their Urban Chic (like the iPod craze) -not necessarily out of need. Whatever.

BLONDESTAR. Hat tip: Jeremy's linkblog

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


Seems like this Flash animation is getting a lot of coverage. It's a sendup of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" featuring George Bush and John Kerry. What most people don't know is that Guthrie's "This Land" is actually a libertarian screed. Woodie hated the fact that the song was turned into a patriotic anthem -us stupid 'murricans never got past the title (catch)phrase and assumed it was a loving homily to the good old U.S. of A. Fast forward a half-century and the same thing happened to Bruce Springsteen's "born in the USA." While it's not a commie pinko ditty, it definitely isn't what the go-go '80's made it into. The people in this country are such damned optimists. We'd probably see the lighter side of a nuclear winter if we had to.

Monday, July 19, 2004


This is ridiculous. So  Schwarzenegger used the term "Girlie Men" to describe some lawmakers. That just means he has a sense of humor, nothing more. I challenge anyone to actually find the people who are claimed to have been offended by the governator's remarks. Why do I care? because when I was fifteen, I was a principle in a summer camp color war comedy skit playing one half of the Hans & Franz duo. The skit bombed big time. The audience was wrong. I still think it was funny.

Sunday, July 18, 2004


I'm posting this blog item using Sauce Reader (1.5Beta from Synop.) its a really slick tool that, aside from being dog slow (which is forgivable in a beta release) is the best RSS/Blog reader I've come across. And I've tried a few (snicker.) You may have also noticed I've added an RSS Atom feed link to my blog on the right. If you know what RSS is, use the link, its a convenient way to keep abreast of any new posts in the blogs or news feeds you regularly monitor, If you don't know what RSS is, read Ned's intro.

Life goes on in Chez Ochs. We're expecting now, so we're probably going to look for a bigger place in 'Joisey. I'll really miss the apple, but I gots to have more space and a car if I'm gonna raise a family. Sigh. The single in the city chapter of my life inexorably draws to a complete and final close...

One of these days, Lorraine and I are gonna get off our collective asses and see the Cloisters. It's been on my to-do list for, oh, about 22 years now. Ever since my seventh grade report on things to do in New York City. Mr. Hollander gave me an A for that in Social Studies. I think I still have it in a box somewhere in my mother's basement.

This July 4th weekend I stopped by the 42nd street pier on my way down the West Side Highway towards Brooklyn. There was a flotilla of visiting British warships. Of particular interest was the British Jump Jet carrier (HMS Invincible, I think.) Jump jet carriers are smaller than supercarriers that the US Navy prefers and are, in fact, closer in size to the World War II class Intrepid, which is now a floating museum that is parked nearby. The British are a clever lot. In addition to pioneering the Jump Jet, which is a jet fighter that can take off and land vertically, they came up with the idea for angled flight decks on aircraft carriers, which greatly increase the safety and sortie rate of modern carriers, along with the steam catapult and many other elements of a modern full-sized carrier. The ship in port has an interesting "ski-jump" flight deck. It turns out that, even though they can take off and land vertically, a short takeoff roll up the ski-jump-like ramp gives the Harrier jet a greatly increased payload and saves a lot of fuel. It's an interesting piece of naval architecture. Here's a link to a pic I snapped on my cameraphone. Those crazy Brits.

BY THE WAY: My latest project blog. (techno-weenies only)

Thursday, July 15, 2004


As you may or may not know, my profession entails keeping up to date on a lot of complicated programming principles. This means reading books with content that is as dry as kindling on a regular basis. My able accomplice in this endeavor is the used book mart. Most of the time, techno-weenies like myself resell their books when they're done. Getting slightly tattered copies of such memorable titles as John Zukowski's (yes that John Zukowski) Definitive Guide to Swing for Java 2 usually saves me over 50% off the cover price. Highly recommended.

FROM THE "I THINK IT'S ODD" DEPARTMENT: How Democrats (full disclosure: I am a registered Democrat) claim that the Republican (read: Bush) campaign machine slings a lot of mud, when all I can see everywhere I go is the relentless negativity of the Democratic campaign. Here in New York City, I see apple-cheeked kids everywhere pounding the pavement in a "Would you like to help defeat George Bush" campaign. I mean, I'm not going to go into a whole political discourse right now, but doesn't the actual candidate have any appeal for voters?