Archive for December, 2007

Santa is a Cat Burglar

December 17, 2007 By: erik Category: Colindres, Spain, Weird

Only in the last decade or so, American movies and television have brought the concept of Santa Claus into Spain. Previously it was the sole job of the Three Wise Kings to magically bring presents to children. The main problem Santa faces in Spain is that none of the houses have chimneys. Children aren’t stupid. They might be able to side step rational thought when it comes to a fat man flying through the sky visiting every house in the world, but it would be ridiculous to expect the intruder to be able to walk through walls. But every Spanish house has one clear entry point to a gravity defying invader: the balcony.

Although I’ve only been living in Spain for 2.5 years, I’ve been visiting Spain for Christmas for over five years, so I can be fairly certain that what I’m about to describe is a new phenomenon only about 2-3 years old. Someone, a couple years ago, had the idea to make a little stuffed Santa Claus (called Papa Noel around these parts) and hang him from the balcony as if he were trying to get into the house with a sack full of presents. The cleverness of this idea was appreciated it spread like a highly contagious meme. Now all the decoration shops contain various versions of this cat burglar Santa, sometimes he’s just grabbing hold of the balcony railing, and other times he’s on a ladder. Being a native of the country that popularized this image of the jolly old myth, I find this adaptation particularly amusing.

Bright Lamp

December 16, 2007 By: erik Category: House, Photos

I have this desk lamp that I really love. I bought it from IKEA. It’s the same lamp they have on their desks at CTU. It must be some really crappy craftsmanship, because this particular model of lamp lasts for about one year and then breaks. I know, because this is the second one I’ve owned. The frayed wiring inside is in such a tight little spot, that I’m pretty sure that getting it repaired will be impossible. So for the past few months, it’s been more of a desk adornment than a real source of light. Knowing this, you can imagine my surprise when I turned my head and saw this the other day:

What’s the point of Facebook?

December 15, 2007 By: erik Category: Internet, Musings, News

Facebook ExclamationMany of you already know that I signed up for Facebook the other day. Several people have shown their surprise that it took me so long to jack into the matrix. I’m still learning about it, but so far I’m impressed. I’ve heard it called “MySpace done right”, and I have to agree to some extent. But what’s the point of these social networking sites?

Dramatic Lighting, starring Mini-Munk

December 14, 2007 By: erik Category: Photos, Weird

Quarter MunkEarlier this week, I received a shipment of spices from the New World. That is, after all, why Columbus went that way in the first place back in the early 90’s. As so often happens when shipping things, somehow a little rodent got in there and hitched a ride with the goods. He really is a tiny little guy, as you can see from the photo on the right.

Anyway, he’s been sitting on my desk staring at me all week, and I’ve been noticing how his shadow moves around him as various light sources hit his little porcelain body. So I got my flashlight and a piece of paper and experimented with lighting him from various angles. My favorite is the last one, since his surprised look makes him look like a prisoner that was making a run for it before the spotlight caught him. (more…)

Light Caterpillars

December 14, 2007 By: erik Category: Geeky, House, Timelapse, Videos

Light CaterpillarsYesterday, I noticed how lovely the little dotted lines of sunshine were on the wall of our upstairs hallway. So I took a photo. But then it occurred to me that these dots would move up and down on the wall over the course of the day, so I put the camera on the floor and recorded forty-five minutes of the wall. It turns out that the light doesn’t move up and down at all, but completely horizontally, because the arc the winter sun makes in the sky is so flat. I’m always delighted when my expectations and hypotheses are proved wrong (which happens daily). It must be the scientist in me. When that happens, it means that you’re learning.


December 13, 2007 By: erik Category: Colindres, Geeky, Photos

These are some photos I took the other day about 150 meters from my house. Actually, I’m beginning to expect that these aren’t ferns, but I like the title, so… I would love for someone to identify them for me.

What's in a name?

December 12, 2007 By: erik Category: Photos

This is a little excerpt from a screenplay I’m writing:

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.




December 12, 2007 By: erik Category: Photos, Weird

Just a few photos I’ve taken a few months ago that remind me of abstract art. They’ve been collecting dust in iPhoto, and I just remembered them because I accidentally took another one just now. The night sky is particularly clear tonight (gonna have frost tomorrow morning) and I made a feeble attempt to photograph the stars. My little camera has very limited shutter control, you see. It just won’t stay open long enough to let in enough of those million-year-old star photons. I made five attempts to photograph the night sky, setting the camera on timer, so that it would be perfectly still at the time of the shutter opening, etc. And when I finished, I had five perfectly black jpegs and a sixth photo that I don’t remember taking. It’s the last photo on this page.

Rainy Walk

December 11, 2007 By: erik Category: Colindres, Photos

I went for a rainy December walk yesterday, snapping a few photos along the way.

Sunrise at 5:30

December 10, 2007 By: erik Category: Complaining, Geeky, News, Stuff I Found

Computers store the current time as a single integer: the number of seconds since 12:00 AM on January 1, 1970, Greenwich Mean Time. From this integer value, a very complex algorithm must be applied to arrive at the current date and time for your timezone, counting leap years and all that other arbitrary stuff that our Julian calendar has evolved over the centuries. This date determination algorithm exists in all operating systems, all programming languages, and many many types of microprocessor-based hardware. So any time the rules change on how to determine the current time, ALL those algorithms have to be updated.