azureabstraction > out of the blue

Archive for June, 2007


Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Okay. I admit that it was silly of me to claim that it would be difficult to one-up myself. I just did.

an even better chess stack

Chess Sculpture

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

I have been stacking chess pieces for years, ever since 7th grade chess club (or did I start that in 6th grade? I can't remember). Until today, they were rather simple stacks, rooks on rooks with kings or queens at the top, and the tried-and-true four-knight-rook base. But after today, I will have a difficult time one-upping myself (and Sarah), because these stacks are amazing.

Sarah and I are teh awesome.

photo of an amazing chess sculpture

Exeunt Omnes, by Roger Zelazny

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Houselights low. The Reapers and Nymphs danced as the bombs began to fall. Prospero faced Ferdinand.

"You do look, my son, in a mov'd sort, as if you were dismay'd. Be cheerful, sir, our revels now are ended. These our actors, as I fortold you, were all spirits, and are melted into air, into thin air….' "

He gestured simply. The Reapers and Nymphs vanished, to a strange, hollow and confused noise.

" '…And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples,' " he continued, " 'the great globe itself, yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind….' "

The audience vanished. The stage vanished. The theater vanished. The city about them faded, with a strange, hollow and confused noise. The great globe itself became transparent beneath their feet. All of the actors vanished, save for the spirits of Ariel, Caliban and Prospero.

"Uh, Prossy…" said Ariel.

" 'We are such stuff as dreams are made on—' "

"Prospero!" bellowed Caliban.

" '…And our little life is rounded with a sleep.' "

Caliban tackled him. Ariel siezed him by the sleeve.

"You're doing it again, boss!"

" 'Sir, I am vexed—' "

"Stop it! The melt is on! You undid the wrong spell!"

" 'Bear with my weakness — my old brain is troubled….' "

Caliban sat on him. Ariel waved his slight fingers before his eyes. They drifted now in a vast and star-filled void. The nearest sizable body was the moon. Satellites — communication, astronomical, weather and spy—fled in all directions.

"Come around, damn it!" Ariel snapped. "We're all that's left again!"

" 'Be not disturbed with my infirmity….' "

"It's no use," growled Caliban. "He's gone off the deep end this time. What say we give up and fade away?"

"No!" Ariel cried. "I was just beginning to enjoy it."

"We are disturbed by your infirmity, Prossy! Cut the Stanislavsky bit and put things back together!"

" 'If you be pleas'd, retire into my cell and there repose….' "

"He's coming to the end of his lines," said Ariel. "We'll get him then."

" 'A turn or two I'll walk, to still my beating mind.' "

"Where are you going to walk, boss?" Caliban asked. "You took it all away."

"Eh? What's that?"

"You did it again. It's a terrific scene that way, but it tends to be kind of final."

"Oh dear! And things are pretty far along, too."

"The furthest, I'd say, to date. What do you do for an encore?"

"Where's my Book?"

Caliban flipped his flipper.

"It went, too."

Prospero massaged his eyeballs.

"Then I'll have to work from memory. Bear with me. Where was it?"

"A desert isle."


He gestured magnificently and the faint outlines of palm trees appeared nearby. A slight salt scent came to them, along with the distant sounds of surf. The outlines grew more substantial and a shining sand was spread beneath their feet. There came the cry of a gull. The stars faded, the sky grew blue and clouds drifted across it.

"That's better."

"But—this is a real desert isle!"

"Don't argue with him. You know how he gets."

"Now, where were we?"

"The entertainment, sir."

"Ah, yes. Come to my cave. Ferdinand and Miranda will be waiting."

He led them along the shore and up to arocky place. They entered a great grotto where a large playing area was illuminated by torchlight. Prospero nodded to Ferdinand and Miranda and gestured toward the stage.

"Boss, something's wrong."

"No tongue! All eyes! Be silent!"

Ariel lost his power of speech for the moment and regarded the scene that appeared before him.

The great globe of the Earth, sun dappled, cloud streaked, green, gray and blue, turned slowly above the playing area. Tiny sparks, missiles, streaked above it, vanishing to be replaced by minute puffs of smoke over the major cities of North America, Europe and Asia. The globe rushed toward them then, one puff growing larger than the others, replacing all else. Up through dust, fire and smoke the vision swam, of a city twisted, melted, charred, its people dead, dying, fleeing.

"Boss! This is the wrong bit!" Caliban cried.

"My God!" said Ferdinand.

" 'You do look, my son, in a mov'd sort, as if you were dismayed,' " Prospero stated.

"Here we go again," said Ariel, as the world rotated and entire land masses began to burn.

" '…the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself…' "

More missiles crisscrossed frantically as the icecaps melted and the oceans began to seethe.

" '…shall dissolve…' "

Large portions of the land were now inundated by the boiling seas.

" '…leave not a rack behind…' "

"We're still substantial," Ariel gasped.

"But it's going," Caliban observed.

The globe grew less tangible, the fires faded, the water lost its colors. The entire prospect paled and dwindled.

" '…is rounded with a sleep.' " Prospero yawned.

…Was gone.

"Boss! What happened to—"

"Sh!" Ariel cautioned. "Don't stir him up. —Prossy, where's the theater?"

" '…to still my beating mind.' "

" 'We wish you peace,' " Ferdinand and Miranda said in unison as they exited.

"Where are we, sir?"

"Why, you told me 'twas a desert isle.' "

"And such it is."

"Then what else would you? Find us food and dring. The other's but a dream."

"But, sir! Your Book—"

"Book me no books! I'd eat and sleep, I'd let these lovers woo, then off to Naples. All magics I eschew!"

Caliban and Ariel retreated.

"We'd best his will observe and then away."

"Aye, sprite. Methinks the living lies this way."

[Exeunt omnes.]

Hand Drawn Chess

Monday, June 18th, 2007

After eating dinner at the Rock Bottom Brewery downtown, Josh and I went to Maccaroni Grill for dessert. This was the highlight of the evening, yet strangely not simply because of the absolute tastiness. Maccaroni Grill offers its patrons a paper tablecloth and crayons, whether they are in their swaddling clothes or whether their hair is as white as the new fallen snow. Naturally we had to take advantage of this aspect of the restaurant. To finish up an evening of chess and food, we drew our own chess board on the table and played two rounds as we savored our dessert. Playing on a hand drawn chessboard over dessert had a certain style to it that I am very eager to repeat. Perhaps Sarah will go downtown with me sometime to try it out.

Aim Relay Bot

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Just to warn you people, there's a bot out there that IMs two random people with the initial message "i say, old bean, have you seen my hat?", then relays their messages to each other. So, you have two people talking to each other through an intermediary screen name, both of which think that the other person IMed them. I found an explaination here, and thought I would repeat it in case you guys end up having the same thing done. It's annoying. Here's my transcript:

autohat8000: i say, old bean, have you seen my hat?

insanityisall: And who would this be?

autohat8000: tsk tsk….you IMed me first

autohat8000: its only right that you introduce yourself first

insanityisall: And that is patently false. If you're a bot, I don't really want to talk to you. If you're a person, you'll have to tell me why I should believe you're not a bot.

autohat8000: which leads me to believe that you are a bot

insanityisall: Last chance before being blocked. I have no patience with this sort of thing.

autohat8000: well, if i knew who you were and in what way you had gained my IM, then maybe I could understand what is happening

autohat8000: as it is now, you are like a sales man banging at my door to tell me that you wont ever bother me again

insanityisall: Looks to be a bot:

insanityisall: See you.

insanityisall: I'm blocking "autohat8000". If you're a real person, I suggest you do then same.

insanityisall: the*

I'm not sure what this is, just a prank, or some sort of new viral marketing campaign, or what. In any event, here are some resources:

Apparently you can initiate a conversation by IMing any of the screen names listed in the Wikipedia entry. But I wouldn't suggest it. You might annoy people.

Links and news

Monday, June 11th, 2007

In Mars news, it looks like there may be standing pools of water on Mars. If this is confirmed, it might shake a long-held perspective that liquid water on the surface is impossible due to Mars's thin atmosphere.

picture of possible puddles on Mars

Weta Workshop, the people who did the physical effects (costumes, armaments, etc) for the Lord of the Rings movies (among others) have created a line of limited edition steampunk ray guns: "Dr. Grordborts Infallible Aether Oscillators". They are absolutely beautiful.

the Goliathon, a steampunk ray gun model

Today's coolest news, for me, is that the Safari browser is being released for Windows. That means that it will now be possible to test all of the major browsers on Windows (although system-specific tests remain useful due to (for example) differences in font rendering). Cross-browser, cross-platform support is a difficult proposition, but this is a major step towards making that goal achievable.