Oh, The Pain, The Pain…

Posted in Miscellaneous on October 30th 2003 by Randy Reichardt

:: I love quoting Dr Smith from Lost In Space. But I am in pain, damn it. My right shoulder, really aggravating, need pain killers, reaching for the pills. Maybe this is a test from God. Can I survive like this until November 12, when my physiotherapy begins?

However, this related story is almost too much to take: the health care system in Alberta has been under siege for ten years, since Ralph Klein took power. For the first time, the evidence of how bad it is hit me today. I need an MRI on my left arm because of the nagging tennis elbow condition. It takes a while in Alberta to get an MRI unless to pay to do it privately – hundreds of dollars – which means if you’re wealthy, you can jump the public queue. The government won’t provide enough funding to allow for enough MRI facilities to reduce the long waiting lists.

In the mail today, I received notification of my MRI appointment: 11 June 2004. When I read the date, I couldn’t help but smile at the irony: on June 11th, 2004, I’ll be in Nashville TN, at the end of my annual professional conference. It takes months to get an MRI appointment, and the first available date I can get in, eight months from now, is during the ONLY event I have scheduled in my life that takes place out of town UNTIL that date.

‘Looney Tunes’ DVD ticks off buyers

Posted in Pop Culture on October 29th 2003 by Randy Reichardt

:: Yesterday’s release of The Looney Tunes Golden Collection, a 4-DVD set of 56 Warner Bros cartoons featuring Bugs, Daffy, Foghorn, Elmer, and the rest of the gang, has upset some die-hard fans because of the intentional exclusion of some of the all-time classics, such as What’s Opera, Doc? , and One Froggy Evening. This title is on my wish list, but I have no idea when I’ll get it. Read a review of the collection here and here.

Bless The Weather

Posted in Observations on October 28th 2003 by Randy Reichardt

:: Two days ago it was 55F/17C in Edmonton. Tonight there are a couple inches of snow on the ground, and the temperature is -3C. Such is life in Edmonton. A personal mantra of mine is, “every day after Hallowe’en in which we do not get permanent snow is a blessing from God.” Maybe not this year. I suspect, however, that what we are receiving right now in amounts of white stuff will melt or sublimate in the next few days. Nonetheless, I forgot to remove my outside garden hose, so arrived home tonight and stuggled to get it off its rollup on the side of my house.

:: So Tim Horton’s doughnuts aren’t so fresh after all. Krispy Kreme, please come to Edmonton! (KK will be in Calgary next February.) Here’s an interesting take on the story from Thunder Bay.

:: This afternoon, Heavy G and I ran through our forthcoming presentation on biblioblogs for GELA. I thought it went rather well, and I bow in Geoff’s general direction for designing a great-looking visual style for the slides.

Sore Shoulder, Amazon Breaks New Ground

Posted in Random Thoughts, Technology on October 27th 2003 by Randy Reichardt

:: My right shoulder and arm were examined today by a doctor with a specialty in sports medicine. Turns out my shoulder is somewhat out of whack – can’t give you much more of an explanation than that. My muscles, rotator cuff, and so on, are ok, but the shoulder blade is out of alignment, bulging a bit at my back. I will need physiotherapy. Unfortunately my first appointment is on November 12th, so in the meantime, I’m getting a massage and stocking up on pain killers.

:: Amazon.com announced last Thursday that it is making the full-text of ~120,000 books (>33,000,000 pages), searchable to its customers. The searching is done at the same level as a title or author search. So I took the book Moonwatcher’s Memoir by Dan Richter, flipped it open to a random page (116), read the phrase “some Velcro slipping” in a sentence, typed that phrase into the Amazon search window, and boom, the first item retrieved was Richter’s book, with a link to p116, where it found the phrase. What was interesting was how fast the results appeared, in less than five seconds. Given the size of the db, 33 million pages, never mind how many words, I was very impressed that it found the one book with the phrase so quickly. The search algorithm retrieved other books and pages with the words “some“, “Velcro“, and “slipping“, but not the phrase itself.

However, I tried three times to retrieve the text of the page, and finally received a response; I suspect Amazon’s servers are burning a lot of coal right now, trying to keep up with the new service. So to see the page that contained the phrase, I had to wait over 10 minutes. Once the page with the phrase you searched appears, you can browse two pages on either side of that page in the book.

This is an impressive feat on Amazon’s part. Within my profession, a growing number of full-text databases exists, mostly of primary and secondary journal literature, along side a smaller number of databases which offer the full-texts of monographs, such as books24x7. None of the book dbs remotely approach the content of Amazon’s 120,000 books. It’s a unique feature that will no doubt increase sales. Amazon’s customers now have another powerful search tool to retrieve books (and CDs, DVDs, etc) of interest to them while browsing and searching. The question is: how quickly will their competitors move to offer a similar feature to their web sites?

Medium Cool

Posted in NYC, Random Thoughts on October 26th 2003 by Randy Reichardt

:: It’s 17C in the Big City, and I just returned from having coffee and reading the NYTimes Magazine. Wearing denim short pants and a t-shirt, I drove home with the window rolled down in my car. This is the last evening I’ll be able to dress so casually and lightly for months to come – the temperature will begin dropping tomorrow until it reaches -21C on Sunday night. Cruel is a word that comes to mind. The forecast high for Hallowe’en is -11C, with light snow expected. Not fair, not fair at all, especially to the ghosts and goblins who will be out and about that night.

:: And people wonder why I’d like to live in NYC. 😉

Beanie Baby Rant

Posted in Pop Culture, Television on October 25th 2003 by Randy Reichardt

:: This is one of the funniest eBay entries I’ve ever read. This poor fellow’s ex-wife left him with a few Beanie Babies, and he wanted to get rid of them to buy a few tools. Be sure to read down through the entry – it’s a laugher! (From: Karlin.)

:: The Florida Marlins won the World Series, beating the NYYankees four games to two, preventing them from winning their 27th WS, and giving Ivan Rodriguez his first championship in thirteen seasons in MLB. Will Steinbrenner open the vaults and sign more power hitters and rock solid starters? Has baseball become way too predictable? While a Red Sox/Cubs WS would have capitivated the sporting world, this series was rather dull. I missed most of it, despite baseball being my favorite sport to watch on the tube. I cannot shed one tear for the Yankees.

:: I might have to buy this one. Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog, is releasing an album, Come Poop With Me. If you haven’t seen any of Triumph’s videos, check a few out at the Conan O’Brien site. Be sure to check the excerpts from Triumph at the Star Wars premiere, and his interview with Bon Jovi. (Unfortunately, the full videos are not available on the site).

Frank DiGiacomo writes about the forthcoming release, and of Triumph’s creator, the protean Robert Smigel, in the New York Observer. Among many projects, Smigel is the creator of TV Funhouse, the cartoons featured every few weeks on SNL. Come Poop With Me is produced by Jimmy Vivino, the guitarist in O’Brien’s band, The Max Weinberg Seven, and a member of The Fab Faux, who I saw perform in NYC last June. (Via: Derryl.)

:: My right shoulder is in considerable pain again. I don’t know what’s going on. I’ll see a sports physician on Monday about my left tennis elbow condition, and ask him about my right shoulder as well.

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