Archive for the ‘Idle Amusements’ Category

A regular pretender

August 3rd, 2010

Perusing my long-neglected blog aggregator, I came across Brian’s attempt to analyze his writing style via an online gadget (which, I believe, other people tried as well). I was, for a short moment, idle, so I figured I should try that.

The results?

Unlike Brian (who was consistently pegged to the same author with every sample of his writing), I ended up as either a vary talented pretender or someone with abject absence of any discernible style.


My short visiting Prague essay apparently resembles David Foster Wallace.

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

My latest drive-by movie roundup pegs me to H. P. Lovecraft.

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

My reflection on new parenthood most closely aligns with Stephen King. (What!?!?)

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

My DIY adventure is in the style of Cory Doctorow.

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I stopped at four attempts. I have a feeling that I might have been able to drain the analyzer of all of its choices rather quickly.

While I am familiar with all of these writers’ names, I can’t say that I ever knowingly read anything by them, so there is no way for me to intelligently assess the validity of this analysis.

I always thought my writing was Kurt Vonnegut-ish…

Idle Amusements

Not what it seems

May 18th, 2010
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This is a really cool optical illusion. You’ll see how your brain mis-interprets perspective about 35 seconds in.

Via Exler.

Idle Amusements

Pixel attack

April 28th, 2010

I’m far from being prolific in my blogging these days, for a great number of reasons. Instead of recounting those reasons, I’ll just borrow content elsewhere on this occasion. This clip is nothing short of brilliant.

Via Exler.

Idle Amusements

Style your garage

March 28th, 2010

This German firm sells photo-tarpaulins that are meant to turn your grey and ugly garage doors into something fun and exciting, causing “neighbours, friends and passers-by to stop and stare”.

They have dozens of designs. I am torn between these:

Tank in the garage?


Wine cellar in the garage?


Tip of the hat to Anya S.

Idle Amusements

Not sure about that one…

August 20th, 2009

Many of my online friends did this test and, for lack of any other entertainment herein, I finally decided I needed to start using fillers again…

… except I was not actually ready to do justice to a 120-item questionnaire, so the result turns out to be rather random. Human? Check. The rest? Really!?

And what’s up with constantly using “she” for “wizard”?

Not that I ever played D&D. I’m only slightly familiar with the universe. It could be more PC than I suspected.

I Am A: True Neutral Human Wizard (6th Level)

Ability Scores:







True Neutral A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard’s strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?

Idle Amusements

Absolutely amazing sand art

June 12th, 2009
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You don’t have to understand Russian to be fascinated with the skill of this performer.

A poignant sand art essay that commemorates what we know as the Great Patriotic War.

Tip of the hat to Natasha K.

Idle Amusements

Can I sell myself a fake watch?

May 7th, 2009

Of the various email addresses that I use for different purposes, only my gmail account both is used regularly and has a built-in spam folder. Which I review maybe once a month, out of curiosity. An idle check today yielded a surprising conclusion.

Between your run-of-the-mill offers of fake watches and college degrees, invitations to certain-industry websites and remedies for my supposed sexual inadequacy, security warnings for my accounts with banks that I’ve never done business with and heart-rending cries for help from people who want me to have their Nigerian money, it seems that the most active spammer who targets me lately is… me!


I offer myself multiple “Mystery Shopper” positions with wildly differing remuneration.

I am giving myself huge discounts, pretending to be a different doctor every time.

I am looking to meet myself.

I am threatening myself with unspecified “problems” if I fail to communicate back to myself.

I even ask myself in Italian whether I know how much money I lose daily due to my unrealized potential.

That one clinches it for me. Who else but me myself would know that an England-based Russian-American of Jewish ancestry would be able to speak and read Italian? If that inside knowledge is not a proof that I’m sending these messages myself, I don’t know what is.

I need to get on with taking advantage of these offers. If I myself send them to myself, they must be truly incredible.

Idle Amusements

Coming to a store near you

February 26th, 2009

A really cool meme has been going around in my absence. I saw it on a number of blogs of friends, so I am going to tip the hat to the originator, Buzzfeed.

New meme: here’s a totally random way to make your new random band’s new random album cover. Post one!

Go to “Wikipedia.” Hit “random” and the first article you get is the name of your band.

Then go to “Random Quotations” and the last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

Then, go to Flickr and click on “Explore the Last Seven Days” and the third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

I got the awesomest picture, a properly profound – and even fitting – end of a quote, and an entry for the band name that I can actually pretend to like.

Now, all I need is a few catchy tunes, and it’s Goodbye office space, Hello world tours!

Image by 1D110.

Idle Amusements

I didn’t need 60 questions for that

February 26th, 2009

The last question on the test was all that was required: “What do you consider yourself to be?”

Your result for The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test…

Pure Nerd

74 % Nerd, 22% Geek, 26% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendencies associated with the “dork.” No-longer. Being smart isn’t as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.


Take The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test at HelloQuizzy

Now, how I can have more dorkiness than geekiness in me escapes me!

I first saw this test a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for fillers for the blog, but decided against doing it. In the last few days, though, my brother started a chain of these in my blogosphere corner, and I felt like following suit.

Idle Amusements

Everything’s amazing…

February 18th, 2009

I saw this the other day on Speculist and could not resist re-posting it here. It does occur to me all too often that as recently as 20 years ago, a number of things that we now consider “bare essentials” did not yet exist.

Mind you, I still reserve the right to complain about air travel…


Idle Amusements

Listen to this

February 6th, 2009

I’m sure a lot of people would love it just for the Star Wars music. I’m mostly impressed with the guy’s singing abilities.

Via The Speculist.

[Ed. Upd.: Speculist since posted that Corey Vidal is a talented lip-syncher, rather than singer. The real singers are found here – Matt was correct in identifying them.)

Idle Amusements

Simpsonized portraits

January 12th, 2009

My brother asked about the avatar that now pops up next to my comment replies on this blog. It is a simpsonized me, that I have long been using as Gravatar for blogs that support that service.

The big picture looks like this:


I think it certainly resembles me. Don’t you agree?

Just to add to this entertainment, here is what Becky looks like simpsonized:


Some resemblance, I guess, but very pale skin color…

Neither Natasha nor Kimmy tried.

Idle Amusements

My dream of being specops fulfilled

January 1st, 2009

Some of my readers may remember this post, in which I outlined how the online community that I have the honor to belong to collaborated to expose the anti-LHC crusader Walter L. Wagner as a person not in the least qualified to engage in a “discussion” that he wants to hold.

As the members of our group discovered yesterday, our cover has been blown. Our community of friends has been outed as the apparently taxpayer-funded and sinister Uniformed (Currently or Formerly) Counter-Intelligence Force, courtesy of JTankers, an “Assistant Coordinator for Global Risk Reduction (a Special Interest Group of American Mensa)”, whatever that may mean, and an outspoken acolyte of Mr. Wagner. We are quite precisely described as “primarily ex-Navy technical personnel”, who have “their own aggressive and vulgar culture, as if they all attended the same course of instruction on how to be vulgar and aggressive on-line”. We also apparently broadly engage in nefarious activities, as evidenced by the International Hijack™ Day, organized by our fearless leader.

I lack a vocabulary range needed to properly express how amusing I find that post by JTankers. [Updated: JTankers modified his article on January 2nd, intentionally or unintentionally removing some of the hilarity of his exposé, so you’ll have to believe me that it was head-splitting funny in its original form.]

It does occur to me that I am one of the most opaque members of the group, on account of long being remiss in displaying a UCF logo on my site (now rectified). With my comparative stealth and the non-US jurisdiction, I can well pretend to being the most dangerous secret weapon that the UCF possesses. Oh yeah!


Eric, as I came to expect from him, had the most hilarious reaction to the news of our blown cover with a story of his initiation.

Updated: So now do Michelle and Anne and Jeri, while Kim, Janiece and Vince have their own takes on being outed.

Idle Amusements

On medical myths

December 22nd, 2008

Do you believe that sugar makes your kids hyperactive? Or that night eating makes you fat? Or that hangovers can be cured?

You are way off the mark there.

Via, a recap of a BMJ article (also publicized in NYT) on the common medical myths. Counterknowledge also mentions the myths discussed in a similar BMJ article of a year ago.

Some of these notions I don’t care much about, but I was always led to believe that reading in dim light has a negative effect on one’s eyesight. Apparently not! Hmmm.

Idle Amusements

The name’s Bond…

December 11th, 2008

Hah! I had no doubt that this is what I would end up with, because I honestly do not see myself much as anyone else among the choices. I could live with Indiana Jones, I guess, but I realize how his traits, as implied in various questions, do not fit with me.

Now, Maximus? How the hell did he end up the only close second? I said I had no sword-fighting skills… Maybe, it’s the natural-born leader thing…

   Which Action Hero Would You Be?

You Scored as James Bond, Agent 007

James Bond is MI6’s best agent, a suave, sophisticated super spy with charm, cunning, and a license’s to kill. He doesn’t care about rules or regulations and is somewhat amoral. He does care about saving humanity though, as well as the beautiful women who fill his world. Bond has expensive tastes, a wide knowledge of many subjects, and he is usually armed with a clever gadget and an appropriate one-liner.


James Bond, Agent 007
El Zorro
William Wallace
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Terminator
Captain Jack Sparrow
Lara Croft
Neo, the “One”
Indiana Jones
Batman, the Dark Knight

I first saw it at my brother’s, but Jim started it, and several others followed.

Idle Amusements

Etymologia (that’s Greek for you)

December 11th, 2008

Via Talk Wordy to Me, I attempted the etymology quiz. It gives you 10 random questions on word origins with multiple-choice answers.

I got 7 out of 10, which was much better than I expected. There was only one lucky guess, as a matter of fact. The rest were comparatively “simple” questions about etymology of agnostic or beer and meaning of free verse, but I’m also very proud to have known where azimuth or typhoon came from and of making a very educated guess on arachibutyrophobia (which is a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth, in case you’re wondering).

Where I most royally stumbled was “What does the phrase apple of one’s eye really mean?”. I did not expect the choice of “From the ancient belief that the pupil of the eye was a solid, apple-shaped body” to be the right answer.

Feel free to try and let me know how you did.

Idle Amusements

A puzzle with horsies

December 9th, 2008

A friend of mine sent me this little puzzle, which, truth be told, did not take me long to solve.

Since today shapes up as another really busy day at work, I decided to take an easy route out of blogging and post the puzzle here. Anyone who cares to post the solution – with an explanation – in the comments thread is afforded a humongous doze of satisfaction (but no other valuable prizes). Failing anyone who has an intellect as formidable as mine, I’ll post the solution comment in a couple of days.

  1. There are 25 horses and a 5-track racing ring so the horses can run only 5 at a time.
  2. You don’t have any timers, you can just watch the finish line and record the order in which the horses arrive.
  3. Assume there are no ties.
  4. Also assume that the each horse’s speed always stays the same, no matter how many times you run them.

PROBLEM: What is the minimal number of runs you need in order to pick 3 fastest horses?

Idle Amusements

Google’s Street View

December 5th, 2008

It’s only been a bit over a month since I learned about Seety. Today, researching an address in Paris, I accidentally zoomed in too much. To my surprise, the map changed to the interactive view of the Parisian location, very similar (but with more controls) to the one found at Seety.

I then tried similar thing for London, but got no love. There is now a figure of a man on top of the zooming bar. When it appears “disabled”, you cannot get into the interactive mode. But when it is “lighted”, that means that you can enter “street view”.

I tried Rome, Barcelona, Madrid (all successful), Berlin, Amsterdam (both without “street view”).

I then tried New York City – and saw someone I know walking across Rockefeller Plaza!

Kidding, of course. But New York City seems to be covered. So are, by the look of it, Chicago and Boston. And I have little time to check out more locations.


Idle Amusements

A magical notebook

December 2nd, 2008

Here is an amazing notebook that can turn into practically anything. And even provide sustenance on occasion.

These and other clips are the creation of Evelien Lohbeck. Real cool!

Via Exler.

Idle Amusements

How about some motivation!

November 23rd, 2008

One of my favorite “fun in pictures” sites on the web, The Village of Joy, has got a hilarious collection of motivational posters. They vary in the strength of message, but they all are pretty funny.

See for yourself: 25 Motivational Posters.

Nerd that I am, I especially liked the one about simplicity. Although, I probably spent the most time gazing at the rainbows. 😯

Idle Amusements