The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Sunday, Debtember 07, 2014

That which I have never done, should be easy, right?

When I saw this video on making a 3-D reindeer ornament on a scroll-saw, not only did I tell Bunny about it (she has a scroll-saw and she is very interested in making one of these) but I thought I might give it a try. The video made it look very easy, the cutting pattern is simple—what can be so hard about it? Never mind I've never done anything on a scoll-saw, it's easy, right?

Umm …

[It's carnage I tell ya!  Carnage!]


What you should end up with is some scrap pieces of wood (check), two more-or-less-flat reindeer profiles (check…ish) and one 3-D reindeer (Houston, we've had a problem). The reindeer on the left is a flat profile, but the neck was so thin that the only thing keeping the head on is the cutting pattern glued on the other side. The one on the right is another flat profile and technically, is successful (sans one missing antler—there should be four).

The poor reindeer in the middle though—that was supposed to be the 3-D ornament and well … the legs on the left side broke off at the “knee” (oddly enough, they were thicker than the ones on the right, which amazingly, did not break off) and the entire neck section is missing (go figure—I never found it).

The scoll-saw also took a bite out of my thumb nail.

[This also shows just how small the reindeer are.]

Fortunately, that was the only “injury” I sustained.

I did identify two things I could have done differently. One, if the pattern was about 50% larger, I might have been more successful, as the original pattern is quite small. Two, I should not have removed loose pieces as I was cutting (say, the chunk from around the antlers, or the chunks from around the leg area) as that would have provided some stability—towards the end I was very afraid that the vibrations from the scroll-saw was going to rip the legs and antlers right off.

Next time, I should do better.

[With some sanding, you can't even tell it was suppose to have four antlers]

But at least I got a flat reindeer ornament for my attempt.

Friday, Debtember 19, 2014

Can't see the forest for the trees

While there are decorations about the Ft. Lauderdale Office of the Corporation, the only tree so far has been the one that somehow magically sprouted in my office:

[The only thing missing are a bunch of kids and a dog singing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”]

But I would be remiss if I didn't also post pictures of the trees that have suddenly sprouted about Chez Boca. First, the main tree:

[My God!  It's full of lights!]

And then, because it was so cute, a much smaller tree sitting on a side table in the family room:

[Bet you didn't know pandas were also present in the manger.]

And, because Bunny knows I have an unhealthy fascination with aluminum Christmas trees, Bunny also decorated this aluminum tree in the front hall:

[In the 19th Century, this would have been worth more than its weight in gold.]

Hmm … I guess this means The Season™ is among us.

Content Forever

racter: a History

The name of the program is short for raconteur. The sophistication claimed for the program was likely exaggerated, as could be seen by investigation of the template system of text generation.

Moreover, template processing is sometimes included as a sub-feature of software packages like text editors, IDEs and relational database management systems.

The observable universe is one causal patch of a much larger unobservable universe; there are parts of the universe that cannot communicate with us yet.

If the universe is finite but unbounded, it is also possible that the universe is smaller than the observable universe. In this case, what we take to be very distant galaxies may actually be duplicate images of nearby galaxies, formed by light that has circumnavigated the universe. It is difficult to test this hypothesis experimentally because different images of a galaxy would show different eras in its history, and consequently might appear quite different. Bielewicz et al. claims to establish a lower bound of 27.9 gigaparsecs (91 billion light-years) on the diameter of the last scattering surface (since this is only a lower bound, the paper leaves open the possibility that the whole universe is much larger, even infinite). This value is based on matching-circle analysis of the WMAP 7 year data.

racter, a History

The epitome of the “ooh—shiny” style of writing, Content, Forever (link via Hacker News) culls Wikipedia for articles starting with a given topic and just follows the links.

I may have to keep an idea like this in mind for next year's NaNoGenMo.

Monday, Debtember 22, 2014

Reindeer Mark II

When Bunny's brother saw my attempt at a 3-D reindeer, he noticed that the wood grain was running perpendicular to the neck:

[Direction of the woodgrain; perpendicular to the neck]

and given that the neck might have been a bit thin, it's no wonder the neck snapped like it did (I think his exact words were “I need to give him a lesson on woodgrain direction!”).

So, that, the small size, and removing pieces as I cut, lead to a decapitated 3-D reindeer. But now that I'm finally on vacation from The Corporation, I felt it was time to tackle this project once more.

I printed the pattern 50% larger, left myself a bit more wood around the edges to work with, aligned the woodgrain so that it was parallel to the neck:

[Direction of the woodgrain; parallel to the neck]

and I did not immediately remove pieces as I cut. This time, the results were much better:

[Leg's okay, neck's good---looks like we don't have to shoot him]

Some careful sanding with fine sandpaper (220 grit) and we get one nice looking 3-D reindeer in time for Christmas.

[Unlike his sleighmate Rudolph, Blitzen isn't a lush]

(I should note that it's standing in front of a cutting board Bunny made as a gift for a friend, and both are sitting on some red velvet, just because).

Wednesday, Debtember 24, 2014

Notes on an overheard conversation while sitting in a booth at a restaurant eating lunch on Christmas Eve

“While I was cleaning the house, I was harmonizing with Lilly Nelson—”

“Who? Lilly Nelson?”

“Who do you think I mentioned?”

“Lilly Nelson.”

“Do you think I said Lilly Nelson?”

“That's what I heard—Lilly Nelson.”

“So who is Lilly Nelson?”

“That's what I asked you—who is Lilly Nelson?”

“Who do you think it is?”

“I don't know. It could very well be a singer I've never heard of. You never heard of Front 242, or Siouxsie and the Banshees.”

“Do you think I might have said Willy Nelson?”

“For all I know, she could have been the daughter of Ricky Nelson. Like Kelly Osbourne.”


Kelly Osbourne. Daughter of Ozzy Osbourne, eater of bats.”

“But I didn't say Lilly Nelson.”

“But she could be a singer!”


“Let's see … I'm looking up Lilly Nelson.”

“Is this tunnel vision a programmer thing? You can't think outside the box realize I said ‘Willy Nelson?’”

“Tunnel vision? I'm the one willing to conceed she's a singer.”

Must control … fist of death …

“Ah! She's an actress!”

“But not a singer.”

“That's not out of the question. Eddie Murphy. William Shatner. Bruce Willis. They all had ‘singing’ careers.”

Bruce Willis?

“Bruce Willis. The Return of Bruno, 1987.”

“Why do you know that?”

“The same reason why I know Leonard Nimoy had a hit in the 60s.”

“But what does that have to do with Lilly Nelson? She's an actress, not a singer.”

“Because being an actress doesn't preclude a singing career.”

“If she has a singing career, I'm checking out of this universe.”

Thursday, Debtember 25, 2014

I think it's a holiday today or something

[For Florida, Santa gives his reindeer a break and switches to the Florida Flamingo Squadron #7—The Santa Brigade]


Obligatory Picture

[Here I am, enjoying my vacaton in a rain forest.]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site:, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

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