Tag Archives: holidailies


Year in First Lines

The “Year in First Lines” meme comes to me via Cygnoir, another Holidailies participant.

Apparently, all one is to do is repeat the first line of the first post of the listed month.

Even though it’s now the second of January, and I am therefore a little bit late to the party, I’d like to take a moment to talk about New Year’s Resolutions.

January was a quiet month, probably because I was unemployed. As the holidays were over, I began to fling my résumé into the digital void with new vigor. The winter is the worst time to look for any kind of work (except for retail, and I wasn’t about to do that.) I also resolved to learn the C# language by translating examples from the 1979 classic, More BASIC Computer Games.

Has anything thrilling happened since Hourly Comic Day?

Oh, yes. I was still doing Illustration Friday, because I had the time to spend on such things. Time to spend on decorating, house cleaning, grocery shopping in the afternoon. Being a house husband was fun while it lasted.

I find myself in an uncomfortably familiar situation.

They say that agreeing with the statement “I want to sleep forever,” is a sign of depression. It may also be a sign of having to get up too early when one isn’t used to it. And if one still stays up as late as one is used to, and one also puts in 100% effort all day just to demonstrate to his new employers that they made the right choice, and if Daylight Saving Time kicks in, then the sentiment is excusable.

One bit of advice that career counselors like to give is “do what you love.”

Although I am not quite as frustrated now as I was then, I stand by my metaphor of pipes and sewage for a network of computers.

Erik R. has called my attention to the “Pic a Day in May” challenge, so I figured I’d give it a shot, too.

During May, I accepted a challenge to post a new photo every day. I had great fun with this, and learned some new things about the buildings and landmarks that I see every day.

So, the Supreme Court finally decided the DOMA and Prop 8 cases.

In June, the fair came to town, and I had any-time passes. Of course the usual novelty food vendors were there, but this year’s offering wasn’t as memorable as years past. I did enjoy an exhibit of Star Trek props and costumes, and, best of all, a performance by Weird Al.

As for the Supreme Court decision, I continue to wait for a proposal.

So, the feedpocalypse came and went.

San Diego has its Pride festival in July, so that was pretty much the highlight of the month. (Though I also saw Nobuo Uematsu at the Summer Pops.) Now, San Diego Comic-Con is usually the week before or after, and many people go to both, but it’s such a hassle to get tickets that I didn’t bother. Maybe I’ll try again in 2014, if they haven’t sold out already.

Happy Blogaversary.

By August, I’d been pretty well ensnared in the sticky tentacles of the Big Project. At the time, it didn’t look so big, or even sticky, and certainly not in the least bit tentacular.

The autumnal equinox has passed, and so fall officially has begun.

September was highly unremarkable. The highlight of the month was almost certainly the weekly game night. Yes, that’s more like four highlights, but whatever.

In about a month, we’ll see this…

For a birthday treat, I arranged a trip to Disneyland to coincide with Gay Days. I even stayed in the Grand Californian, something I’d always wanted to do.

I’ve been using an Android app called SleepBot to track my sleep patterns for a while now.

Another boring month. At least there was Thanksgiving to break the monotony. A chilling thought now occurs to me: there may still be leftovers lurking in the back of the fridge.

It is now December already, and time for the nation to snuggle comfortably into the iron grasp of Christmas Mania.

And that brings us up to the present.


As the year draws to a close, I think it might be fun to use a couple of online tools to look back at this year of blogging.

Wordle is a Java app that combines statistics and typography to give one a visual representation of word frequency in a sample of text. The app can download an RSS feed as a sample, or text can be pasted in. Since I wanted a representation of the entire year, I exported my posts from WordPress, and wrote a very basic C# program to extract the text and clean out HTML tags. (Yes, I could have done it in Perl in about ten minutes, but it’s important to continuously improve one’s skills.) I then pasted the output into Wordle and was rewarded with this.


What does this tell us? I suppose it tells us that I apparently use an unfortunate number of filler words. Also, I’m likely to say something like, “Well, now, think something, people!” I may also be interested in “another Christmas challenge,” subjects such as “Doctor Space,” and may agree that “Big GOOD!”

Fortunately, another site called Urlai can perform a more meaningful (if less beautiful) analysis of blog posts. Last time I visited that site, it guessed my posts to have been written by an elderly female. Let’s see if it’s changed its opinion!

electronic-replicant.com is probably written by a female somewhere between 66-100 years old. The writing style is personal and happy most of the time.


The analysis is 54% sure that I am a female, which is both wrong and only slightly more precise than a totally random guess. It further calculates a 30% chance that I am in the 66-100 age group. The correct age group, 36-55, scored only a 15% chance.

I’m curious as to how the site arrives at an age estimate. Is it based on vocabulary, sentence structure, or keyword frequency? One might assume that someone who says “one might assume” would find oneself toward the far end of the age continuum.

As for the happiness score, it is specific: electronic-replicant.com is the 9756th most happy blog of 17663 ranked. This puts my apparent happiness score somewhere near median happiness. A good thing?

A new feature on the site is an interactive tree that shows which words influenced the site’s decision.

Notable masculine words are: Ayn, android, atlas, Gibson, goggles, leaks, recursively, and sleuth.

Notable feminine words are: blankets, baking, catsup, mania, museum, shampoo, Victorian, and whitening.

I don’t mean to accuse Urlai of being sexist, but it seems to believe that men are more likely to discuss Objectivist Cyberpunk detective stories, and women are more likely to discuss household products.

I wonder about the overall accuracy of this site’s algorithm. For example, words that it identifies as happy are: honor, peace, and gift. That sounds about right. However, words that it identifies as upset are: sleep, doubt, air, if, and to.

So, maybe Urlai doesn’t tell me anything I don’t already know. There’s one more tool I’d like to try on my extracted text, I Write Like. Last time I tried it, it told me I wrote like Douglas Adams, but that’s probably because I said “Zaphod Beeblebrox” a few times.

This year, it says I write like H.P. Lovecraft.

Ugh. Mention but a single time the closed timelike curve of non-Euclidean geometry under my bed, and now it’s apparently all shoggoths all the time.

An Open Letter to Retailers

Dear Retailers,

I understand that as corporations, you have but one purpose, and that is to make profit. You do this by selling goods to consumers, and you increase sales by manipulating consumers to demand more goods. That having been said, I feel that your profit-oriented blurring of the calendar has gone too far. And I rather imagine that most people in this country will agree with me.

We humphed when Santa started to pop up before Halloween, we harrumphed when fake trees went on sale in August. We winced as Black Friday inched ever closer to Thursday, and then squeezed our collective eyes shut when it jumped that boundary. You even had the chutzpah to air ads telling us that “Black Friday isn’t over yet,” before my Thanksgiving guests had even finished setting the table.

And now? Candy hearts are already in bloom. Christmas is barely three days in the past, some of us are still on vacation, and we’ve not even had a chance to ring in the new year. But you just had to go and bring up Valentine’s Day, yet another holiday dedicated to gifts and obligations.

I, for one, have consumer fatigue after having been constantly exhorted to buy since summer. You really ought to give us all a rest before trying to push our buttons for the “next big thing.”

Or— don’t. Push our buttons continuously, year-round! You know you want to. But what will happen then is that we’ll eventually quit playing along with the old, co-opted holidays, and make up some new ones.


The Electronic Replicant

An Open Letter to a Neighbor

Dear Neighbor,

Let me begin by applauding your work ethic. Not too many people have the sort of dedication needed to continue working until well after midnight. Let alone when that work involves power tools. Extremely loud power tools, at that.

I accept that you believe your property to be, through some random fluke of gerrymandering, zoned for industrial use, and therefore exempt from ordinances regarding operation of construction equipment. However, I feel the need to point out that all the lots surrounding you are quite assuredly residences. While the people residing in those residences may not be quite as dedicated as yourself when it comes to work, I guarantee you that most of them do, in fact, put in an honest day in order to put food on their own tables.

Now, I’m sure this is difficult for someone with an inhuman stamina such as yours to understand, but it’s very difficult to put in a full, honest day’s work, without a full, honest night’s rest. Sadly, those of us mere mortals who lack the discipline to simply will ourselves to sleep, find rest somewhat difficult when the neighborhood echoes with the sound of power tools in the wee hours.

Dear neighbor, please set down the power tool and just walk away. If you can not do so in compassion for your fellow man, then please think of the economy. Think of the drag that all your neighbors place on the economy when it takes each of them an extra hour or so to overcome the effects of deprivation and get up and running again.

The Electronic Replicant

Call Me, Call Me Not

Some people have a love-hate relationship with the telephone. I think I have a hate-hate relationship with it. Back in its earliest incarnation, its harsh, jangling metal bells could ring at any time, and good manners demanded it be answered at once. Good manners further demanded a polite greeting and at least a minute of small talk before the calling party could get around to the reason for interrupting one’s nap, meal, or television program.

When I joined the workforce, the telephone became even more of a nemesis. Then the majority of callers became unhappy people who wanted things, a pattern which remains to this day. But, I suppose this is true for everyone, and the telephone is a necessary evil.

Speaking of evil and phones, last week’s TMI Tuesday [NSFW] asked several questions about one’s relationship to one’s mobile phone.

Animated Cell Phone GIFAnimated Cell Phone GIFAnimated Cell Phone GIF
1. Do you still have a land line?
Nope. Last time I moved, I realized I no longer had use for one.
2. Which cell phone do you use and why?
I use an iPhone issued by the IT department. Because I have to be reachable at all times in case of exploding toilets.
3. Which provider do you use? Is there really a difference?
AT&T. I suspect the real difference among providers is only which phones they agree to sell in their mall kiosks.
4. If you call someone and they don’t pick up, do you leave a message?
If it’s important enough for me to call, it’s important enough for me to leave a message.
5. When you have a missed call (with no message), do you call the person back?
No, it must not have been that important.
6. Do you text willingly or reluctantly? How are your skills?
Very willingly. But what skills need one have to text anymore? I suppose one needs only to spell well enough to avoid autocorrect embarrassments.
7. Has your cell replaced your camera?
No. But I won’t drag my expensive and fragile camera around with me “just in case,” which I think is what the question is getting at.
8. Selfies…
I hate that word.
9. How many apps do you have? Which is your favorite and why?
None on the iPhone. My tablet is a different story. I have Instagram, Netflix, Stitcher, Pandora, Tiny Tiny RSS, WordPress, SleepBot, some games, but not many. Oh, and that’s why I haven’t posted much on Instagram lately— the app is installed only on the big giant tablet that stays at home.
10. What would life be like with no cell/smart phone for one month?
Peaceful is the first word that comes to mind. Then again, life before mobile was an organizational nightmare: memorizing (or writing down down) phone numbers, leaving messages with people who may or may not deliver them, arranging times and places to meet in advance, having to physically search for lost members of one’s party, hunting for working pay phones, etc.
BONUS: How much has your cell phone become a part of your sex life? Sexting, hookup apps, selfies, video, GPS, more?
Not a part. I’ve taken hardly a handful of G-rated photos of myself, let alone anything scandalous. I have wondered about the “hookup apps,” but I’ve been told they are for the express use of those looking for a hook up. (Any time-wasters just “looking for friends,” need not apply.) Most importantly, I’d almost certainly find myself in the doghouse if a particular individual were to find such an app in my possession!

Saturday Dance Party

Memory is a strange thing. A scent, a flavor, or a sound can bring forth a rush of vivid memories. For example, the scent of lemons and oranges recalls the memory of my grandmother’s kitchen. The scent of a pine tree made cloying by central heating recalls the memory of my fifth grade classroom. And the sound of Michael Jackson’s Thriller recalls the memory of the Christmas when I was in fourth grade.

My parents bought Thriller for my little brother, who’d been obsessed with Michael Jackson. Naturally, from the moment it was unwrapped, that album was played incessantly in our home. One might have thought our parents would have learned their lesson after they’d bought me Styx’s Kilroy Was Here a year or two before. (We still know the words to “Mr. Roboto” by heart.)

Listening to this track, I vividly recall the overcast day and the light in the apartment. I got a silvery green hologram sticker. A Transformers comic book. And I most distinctly remember the glow in the dark Construx set and the gummy-candy texture of its transparent tires.

I think it was this one:
Glow in the Dark Construx Set

But, can the song get me to recall anything we said to each other that day? Anything we did other than unwrap gifts? Sadly, it can not.

Saturday Dance Party

I’d like to take this opportunity to share another non-holiday-themed track that nonetheless manages to remind me of dark and cold December nights, but in a good way. After hearing some of the tracks on Pandora, I bought the STS9 album Peaceblaster in 2009, coincidentally the first year we had the Robo-Tree here at La Casa de los Replicantes. I’ve bought a few of the band’s other albums and even seen them live, but rarely have they returned to the exact sort of synthesizer-y space opera sound heard in the track below.

TMI Thursday

This would normally be the place where I’d tell all about how I got so involved with the teachings of Ayn Rand that I could hardly function as a human being— and then my friends gave me a surprise hot-tub party. Unfortunately, I just can’t think of a great excuse like that at the moment. I suppose I’ll just skip the intro and go straight into explaining that the following is a TMI Tuesday which I, in a brazen display of utter disregard for propriety, have just performed on a Thursday. You may now emit shocked gasps and fan yourselves vigorously.

1. Which religion or faith do you belong to, if any?
I’m pretty much a None Of The Above. True story, I once took a semi-serious online questionnaire designed to match one’s beliefs with a compatible organized religion. It told me I’d be most compatible with: Secular Humanism, Unitarian Universalism, and a form of Buddhism.
2. What is your opinion of Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays?
I say Happy Holidays for two reasons. One, I can’t simply assume that you’re going to celebrate Christmas. Two, there are other holidays this time of year. New Year’s Eve, for one.
3. Holiday music on the radio? When and how much?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’d like to seal all those worn out old tunes in a time capsule and give them a rest for at least a decade or two.
4. When do you start decorating? Do you?
I’m not the type to throw up lights as soon as the turkey’s cleared the table. That’s too early, I think. I may put some lights up this weekend.
5. White lights or multi-colored?
Multi-colored lights tend to give off a random, thrown-together look.
6. Gift cards, cash, or actually shopped-for presents?
Sure. I’m not picky.
7. Christmas cards and/or family update letters are…
Well, it’s the thought that counts.
8. Snow is…
9. Have you been a good little boy or girl this year?
Yes. Mostly. I mean, there were those parking tickets.
1. Food – Yes.
2. Dessert – Double yes.
3. Drink – Triple yes.
4. Holiday movie – Gremlins
5. Holiday music – See #3.
6. Holiday tradition – Eating and drinking.

Rainy Saturday

Yesterday, the storm of the century struck.


Actually, far less than a quarter inch of rain fell, but it was enough to erode and wash away my plans to go to December Nights. This is the annual night-time non-specific-holiday-themed open house that Balboa Park hosts each year. The museums open free of charge and entertainers can be found around each corner. But if a bit of water leaks from the sky then it’s curtains.

Instead I watched The Hunger Games on Netflix, with the anticipation of maybe seeing the sequel in the theater. It was not bad, but I do wonder a bit about the setting. According to the narrator, the games are a punishment or armistice agreement enacted after a failed revolution, requiring each of twelve districts to send an annual tribute of two children to fight to the death in the games. I can only wonder how destructive the revolution could have been in order for this to have been an acceptable compromise, and what sort of power the capital has over the outlying districts to enforce such a law. We know that the districts have to be quite large, as Katniss rides a 200 MPH bullet train overnight to get to the capital. Certainly, this power has to be more than white-armored goons and hovercopters. Perhaps the sequel will go into this.