Stuff from September, 2005

This is the archive of tumbledry happenings that occurred on September, 2005.



This image reminds me of the song Finally We Have a Map of the Piano.

UNEASYsilence: best section

UNEASYsilence: best section - If you are running windows XP and are interested in making it run faster, more efficiently, and less like Windows (that is, more intuitively), then check out this fantastic resource for changing everything you dislike about windows (plus, other great program recommendations as well).

iPod Sky

iPod Sky

eBay … cheaper

eBay … cheaper - Genius: since people misspell things on eBay and those items attract fewer bidders, this system guesses those misspellings, therefore getting you a better deal on overlooked auctions.

US Robotics Wireless MAXg

US Robotics Wireless MAXg - I’ve heard this is a very good card, capable of picking the weak signal your college/coffeeshop is sure to provide.

“Wireless MaxG … relies on less-expensive enhancements such as increased signal strength and more sensitive receivers.” - PCWorld

Logan Pearsall Smith Quote

There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.

— Logan Pearsall Smith

The Musicbox

Today, I would like to present two musical artists. First. I have only heard one song by Dave Barnes, and that is “On a Night Like This.” That said, it made me want to hear all of his album, Brother, Bring the Sun to soak in what he was selling. Sure, Barnes might be “just another” in the batch of acoustic crooners we are inundated with these days (lead, it would seem, by John Mayer). However, his ‘sound’ is really quite pleasant (from the 1:59 of it that I have heard), and would be lovely to have around for these coming crisp Autumn days that beg for wandering acoustic backdrops. Unfortunately, my money that was going to buy this has recently found another outlet. Read on.


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Seven Hundred Plus

Seven Hundred Plus

This is not all of my textbooks for this semester. Furthermore - this pile should not scare anyone, including myself. This is completely doable: it’s only ungrad.

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That First Dinner Cooking Thing

I know, I know. All of you out there are saying “I don’t live in a dorm anymore … I want something that is not caf food. In fact, I want something tasty that is not caf food. Scratch that, even: I want something tasty, easy to prepare, snackable, and moderately healthy that is not caf food.”


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Summer is Setting

Summer is Setting

Another summer has come and gone: she will be missed dearly.

5 Questions

Yes, it’s time for another round of 5 Questions. The rules are still really simple. Thankfully, the site has advanced some since the last round of 5 Questions, so users no longer have to use QuickMail to ask their questions, they can simply leave a comment. So, for the unitiated, here’s how it works: the lovely visitors to this humble website will ask me (Alex, in case you are wondering) one question each, and I will answer the first five questions submitted.


9 comments left

I would wear this ninja tshirt

I would wear this ninja tshirt

Slate: Rebellion of the Talking Heads

Slate: Rebellion of the Talking Heads - Slate continues to impress me; here they tackle the multi-faceted issues in New Orleans from the perspective of the news reporters “in the trenches” down there actually doing some great reporting.




Why this picture? This is the first album I have purchased in three years. What was the last album? Ah yes, Intuition. That said, this album is getting better and better the more I listen to it. Please buy it.

Solar Powered Water Purification

Solar Powered Water Purification - Berekely has already successfully field-tested this invention. I would love to try the water that came out of it (then again, risking dysentry in the name of science is pretty crazy).

Experimentation, Lawn Furniture

Experimentation, Lawn Furniture

Outdoor and indoors, both exposed well. I found you can fire a flash indoors and fill the dark parts in, while your bright part looks fine as well (it’s beyond the reach of the flash). Interesting.

Movie: Under the Tuscan Sun

I tend to find the best things about movies and talk about those, so do be aware that unless a movie is completely terrible, my review will probably not be that harsh. This is part of the reason that I do not aspire to be a movie reviewer for a living. That said, Under the Tuscan Sun would review well even by someone who was looking for flaws.




One of the last pictures I took before I left for college. Strange how I took home for granted, and miss it so right now.

5th Floor, Evening

5th Floor, Evening

A gorgeous sunset, I am a sucker for these, let me tell you. That is the Minneapolis skyline at the bottom (not enough of it to merit a tag on this photo, though).

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Benjamin Franklin Quote

Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.

— Benjamin Franklin

Cell Phone

Yesterday, I has the privilege of witnessing the fastest cell-phone-turn-off in the history of panicked faux-paus committing individuals. Indeed, only 3 or 4 notes (notes!) of the beginning of an annoying ring sung out until the individual responsible (a business major in the third row) instinctively flinched, silencing the sound. It was almost so short that the pause in the class was everyone checking their sub-conscious, wondering if it was just a random synapse firing that had caused them to think of what they did.


Rolling Stones in St. Paul

Rolling Stones in St. Paul - These guys are still rockin’ after all this time? Amazing. I did not have the financial means to attend this concert, but I am quite impressed with the review:

“The Stones played with the energy and drive of a band about to say farewell — even though the band members have never confirmed this is their last tour. Indeed, the band’s new album ‘A Bigger Bang’ is the best Stones disc in decades, and they’ve hinted that it’s just the start of a creative revival in the studio.”

Closed Gates

Closed Gates

Setting sun through the gates on our field.

Movie: Jacket

Very artsy movie. Not horror-film esque really … there were horrible parts, but no jumpy scenes, and none of this ‘opening a door and getting attacked by something’ that I hate so much. Quick diversion from this movie: I can’t stand when I know the horror formula, but it still scares me. Sure, there’s going to be something in the next room, sure the slow walking and rising soundtrack strings indicate something bad approaching, but it still scares the heck out of me - I hate that. Anyway: this movie was not like that.


Hair Washing

What a bizarre thought that passed through my head but … does everyone wash their hair second in the shower? What I mean is, I always wash myself first, and then wash my hair. It has always made sense to do things that way, but it’s one of those things in life that just makes you wonder, do I have any compelling reason (heck, any reason at all) to do it this way? Do other people think it sacrilege to wash hair first? Honestly, though, I hope there aren’t too many things in my life that I do simply because I have always done them that way, it would be an “unexamined life,” to quote Socrates. I do things like drive on the right side of the road not on the left, sleep at night not during the day, and wear socks with shoes all for very good reasons … I guess I will try to make sure I have reasons for most everything.


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Stonehenge Watch

Stonehenge Watch - A watch that is a sundial. Who wouldn’t want one?

Backpack that Charges Your Cell Phone

Backpack that Charges Your Cell Phone - This takes the up-and-down movement of the load in your backpack and translates it into up to 7 watts of electrical energy. This makes so much sense for college students and city dwellers.

Blurred Trees

Blurred Trees

Rose Poster

Rose Poster

110 sheets of paper were used to blow up an image from previously in this photo gallery.

Movie: The Constant Gardener

Whether I realize it or not, I have become accostomed to a certain pace of movies. That is, the viewer sees the main thrust of the story within x minutes. Naturally, I do not know when x is, but I know when a movie stretches out that time, as The Constant Gardener did. The movie is a hybrid love-story and espionage story (love stories mixed with things have been popping up lately, given my recent review of Jacket …), and it’s also one that you may not like right away. Characters put you off, mislead you, seem to be much more or much less than they are. The distinction of good and evil on the character level is very blurry, making you second-guess everyone’s words and actions. However, the more global good/evil battle in the movie is a very clear one, and gives the movie a good framework on which to hang these characters’ stories.






The poster before it was put on the ceiling (which proved extraordinarily difficult).

Bikes: Twilight Zone

I left the athletic building and went to unlock my bike today. It’s a Mongoose mountain bike of some sort - not flashy enough to attract the attention of thieves, but certainly rugged enough to bike around town and traverse the occassional rock garden. Regardless, I did a double take when I went to unlock my trusty bike from the bike rack today.


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A Truly Portable ‘Tripod’

A Truly Portable ‘Tripod’ - It’s basically a lump of beans used to stabilize your camera. However, I can see myself using it, as it would allow a camera to be set on the ground, but aimed.

Get your Windows Product Key

Get your Windows Product Key - Because someday, you’ll have to reinstall.

Best OS X Third Party Software

Best OS X Third Party Software - What-a-list. I’ll be referring to this if I ever get a Mac.

Dan’s Head Gear

Dan’s Head Gear

Indeed, Dan look like Toad from Super Mario Brothers. Amazing.

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Movie: The Exorcism of Emily Rose

This past Friday night, I was scared by this movie. Based on a true story. I have yet to investigate the extent to which this movie is true, but as this exorcism was recognized by the Catholic church as real … it does make you wonder. One more quick note: it may been declared “real” to help the priests involved (who, ultimately, were judged guilty). Hard to say. Regardless: this movie was not a jumpy horror movie in the traditional sense, with one important exception. It has the single-most spine tingling special horror effect you will witness for some time. Warning, spoiler (skip to the end of this paragraph to avoid): Emily, pursued by the devil, makes eye contact with people around her, and without any warning at all, their faces begin melting off, like the worst mascara-in-the-rain you’ve ever scene. Except the eyes come with it. And a demonic face emerges. Fun.


Take better pictures of fireworks

Take better pictures of fireworks - Given my horrible track record with fireworks, this is extraordinarily helpful.

Beach Scene

Beach Scene

Mykala took this great picture of her gift to me: a beach scene by a street artist in Cozumel.

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Lens Reversal: Take Awesome Macro Shots

Lens Reversal: Take Awesome Macro Shots - A great explanation of the lens-reversal technique used to photograph very small things.

Food at the Binz: Part 7 In a Series

Bad things have happened at the Binz before, but recently my old standby has taken a beating. That is to say, I generally eat cereal if there is nothing else good to eat at the Binz. However, management at this fine cafeteria has left the same cereal in bins for the entire summer. Do you understand that? The entire summer. That means that, yes, the Apple Jacks I usually eat are not crunchy. They taste dusty. And when you bite them, they are chewy. CHEWY APPLE JACKS ARE NOT TASTY.




At this resoultion, I think the warp and weft of the fabric is really interesting. You may not agree.

Firefox: Always Use Protection

Firefox: Always Use Protection - What a great wallpaper.

Red Bench

Red Bench

The sunlight was shining in, illuminating the entire room with red.

Car Talk: How to Change a Flat Tire

Car Talk: How to Change a Flat Tire


The standard issue at St. Thomas is the semi-clear plastic cardholder, with a ring for keys. Nearly everyone has one, or a variation on it - it is enough to get you food, laundry, dorm access, room access, books, and groceries on campus. It is your life, encapsulated in a card and a key. That said, I lost mine today, if only for a short time.


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Death Cab’s Favorite MP3 Blogs

Death Cab’s Favorite MP3 Blogs

Stone and Metal

Stone and Metal

This picture looks as if it was black and white, but it was taken (and left) in color. The stone walls of Cretin’s basement (Cretin Hall was built in 1884) always provide an interesting backdrop.

Wired: Viagra for Women

Wired: Viagra for Women - “Flush with success in the fight against “erectile dysfunction,” the pharmaceutical industry set out to develop Viagra for women. First, researchers simply gave women the same pill that worked so well for men. The good news: The drug does pump a woman’s genitals full of blood. But it won’t necessarily get her frisky.”

Skyline at Sunset

Skyline at Sunset

Not as good as that other sunset picture, but one that incorporates the Minneapolis skyline a bit better.

25,000 dollars for Professional School

25,000 dollars for Professional School - Win 25,000 dollars towards professional school simply by entering a few bits of information. A credible organization: the people who administer prep courses for standardized tests.

Monkey Bread

I recently tasted the awesomeness that is Monkey Bread - and it was awesome. Given that the cinnamon sugar flavor explosion is awesome, and tastes awesome too, I thought it would be awesome to let you taste how awesome it is for yourself.

Monkey Bread

3 packages of buttermilk biscuit tubes
1 cup sugar (divided)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

Take 3 packages of buttermilk biscuit tubes (10 per roll) and cut each roll into 4 pieces. Drop roll pieces into 1 cup sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon. drop sugar coated pieces into a well buttered bundt pan (don’t squish roll pieces when placing them in the bundt pan).

Put 1/2 cup of the left over sugar/cinnamon mix and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 1 cup of butter (2 sticks) into small sauce pan.

Bring this mixture just to a boil, take off heat right away. Carefully drizzle over the roll pieces.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.

Cool slightly in an upright position, then tip pan over onto a plate to remove monkey pull-apart bread.


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An experiment with long exposures.

How to Go From Introvert to Extrovert

How to Go From Introvert to Extrovert - “Often I find myself attending social events where I’m the youngest person in the room, but that feels very comfortable and normal for me. Don’t be afraid to stretch beyond the most obvious peer group and hang out with people from different ages, neighborhoods, cultures, countries, etc. You might find the variety to be a lot of fun.”

Mirror Image

Mirror Image

We are so photogenic.

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AIM anywhere

AIM anywhere - That is, any major chat client anywhere on your browser. Amazing. I’ll be making this recommendation to anyone.

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Talk Like A Pirate Day - If you miss it today, you can make it tomorrow. Surprisingly, I already have a ‘pirates’ tag.



A big hand with claws was handed to me for free the day this was taken.

Power Squid

Power Squid - Plug any number of bulky cords into this squid shaped thing. Genius.

Pirate Costume

Pirate Costume - For Halloween, no?



On our way to Eagle Brook Church; very cool experience.

White Giraffe

White Giraffe - Not albino, but a white giraffe - holy cow!

The Usual Rearview

The Usual Rearview

I love these rearview shots.

Biking is Hard

A tumbledry illustration of the hazards of biking around campus.

I hate the fact that the grass beside our sidewalks is not at the same level as the concrete. When one is on a bike and veers off the path to avoid rear ending pedestrians, this drop down is not a problem. However, when one tries to get back on the path from the grass and doesn’t take the extra effort to pull the front tire up, then one is found in the unfortunate situation of having their tire’s sidewall skittering along the concrete sidewalk, tipping the bike over. In this case, one might end up in an agonizingly slow tip, moving forward a bit faster than walking pace, continually stomping the ground with one foot like one who is trying to kill some imaginary bee on the ground. After a couple of these manic stomps, one has attracted the attention of everyone in the area, and realizes that being able to ride a bike in college is generally required and not optional. One can feel the hot gaze of peer rejection piercing through one’s neck, and realizes that something has to be done soon. With a final hard stomp, the tire comes up over the concrete lip, and one might laugh out loud to acknowledge full understanding of the absurdity of one’s incompetence.


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iPod nano: That small?

iPod nano: That small? - Yeah, the iPod nano next to a Club cracker. Good lord.

Calvin and Hobbes: Good News

Calvin and Hobbes: Good News

Calvin and Hobbes - back in the paper for a limited time!

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The best personal organization tool

The best personal organization tool - This is Backpack. Here’s what it is. Imagine this: an interactive planner containing your different to-do lists, images, resources, calendar, reminders, and contacts. Then, make it shareable with more than one person. Plus, Backpack follows you everywhere because it is a lightweight web application.


Markoe and Red Shirt

Markoe and Red Shirt

This is just funny.

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The best iPod case for sports

The best iPod case for sports - I’ve got a wonderful Burning Love case for when my iPod is at home with me (thank you, Mykala :), but I found that I need something a little more when I am running. This Incase case comes with wristband, armband, hard cover … everything you need for working out. Reasonable price, and a very rare flat A rating from Ilounge.com.

Public Safety

Occasionally, we get these “Public Safety Alerts” via the St. Thomas email system that outline some man making lewd comments on the corner of Cretin and Marshall or a 6’1” white guy acting suspiciously outside of the cafeteria. I, of course, made those up - but they should give you some impression of how low-key our public safety issues are. My sister lived in Minneapolis around the U of M for two years - a fatal shooting occurred right across the street from her. Now that’s real violence. Anyhow, in our little St. Paul haven public safety seems to be becoming more of a problem:


Whale breaching

Whale breaching - Cool article. I’d like to to see this in person someday.

Dell Tower

Dell Tower

Dell XPS Generation 5. Review here.



The usual long exposure, but I got bored, and waved the camera all over.

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Free text messages using your email

Free text messages using your email - This is awesome - simply prefix the person’s phone number behind an @____.com address, and you can send text messages to anyone for free! To send a text message to me, it’s myphone#@cingularme.com - cool.

Movie: Flight Plan


This text will be here until I review the movie “Flight Plan.”


UPDATE: Time to review the movie. Mykala and I caught this one at the “ghetto” Forest Lake movie theather. Given its rather dilapidated state, it had comfortable seating and decent sound - it’s no UltraScreen (at which I still have to see a movie, and at which, coincidentally, Flight Plan is currently playing), but it was certainly acceptable.




The printer ink didn’t stick too well on the transparency.

iPod Bartender

iPod Bartender - Load a bunch of drink recipes on your iPod.

Katy the Mathematician

Katy: i heart gerald b. folland!

Auto response from alex:
oh em gee

Katy: he just totally did 3 of my hw problems!
Katy: and he’ll do more i think
Katy: (he’s the author of a text book :-))
Katy: hope you’re having a good night!1

1 comment left

Chester E. Wilson Quote

If you’re writing with an erasable marker, bring a tiny sponge. This stuff doesn’t taste good.

— Chester E. Wilson



This is that ID card that got run over by cars, as covered in this post.

Photography: stunningly, shocking, ridiculously detailed

Photography: stunningly, shocking, ridiculously detailed - intro to all things digital (DSLR) photography.

Cell Lab

Three and a half hours into my cell biology lab, as I dated my lab notebook, I turned to ask my randomly assigned lab partner a question.

“It’s the 26th, right?”

I don’t know.”

“… I see.”

My worries here, I think you will understand: not only do I have a lab partner who doesn’t even know what day it is, but said partner has absolutely no motivation to find out.


Kurt Vonnegut Day!

In honor of his recently released book, A Man Without a Country, I thought I would point out a couple of Kurt Vonnegut-type-things today. First, I can not write nearly well enough to do his tremendous writing justice. So, below I will reproduce one of my favorite short stories by him in full. This is likely not legal. However, while I breach copyright in this way, I will point you to buy one of his books or this book, also by him or visit his website. Hopefully that will save me from the/some lawyers.


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Window View

Window View

I’ll forget what this looked like someday, I want to remember.

Dye Transfer

Dye Transfer - A 500:1 contrast ratio. Unreal prints. UNREAL. “A dye transfer print has a dark-life expectancy, at room temperature and humidity, of over 300 years — much better than even Ilfochrome.”



I love donuts so very much - they are the perfect food. These are from Mykala.

Bring out shadows

Bring out shadows - I frequently expose skies, but get dark dark silhouettes. This is sometimes good, but sometimes not. So, this page outlines a great tool to bring out shadow detail (“The Shadow/Highlight tool in Photoshop CS”). Digital photography, ahoy!

Kidding Around

I made up this silly joke, and because this is my blog where I can do pointless things like post silly jokes I made up on the blog that is my own, here it is:

He was selling shoes left and right.

Adds new meaning to the phrase “short and sweet.” I love it! I’m going to work it into conversations where, while it may/probably/will not be funny, at least it will break the ice and everyone will say “hey that Alex kid isn’t too bad, we guess.”

1 comment left