Letters to the editor, September 2008
This a traditional letter column. You are encouraged to write a letter of comment on anything that you find worthy of comment. It will (may) be published in this column along with my reply. As editor I reserve the right to delete material; however I will not alter the undeleted material. E-mail to me that solely references the contents of this site will be assumed to be publishable mail. All other e-mail is assumed to be private. And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication. Oh yes, letters of appreciation for the scholarly resources provided by this site will be handled very discreetly. This page contains the correspondence for September 2008.
From: Anthony R. Lewis, PhD, FN
Dear Mr. Harter--I know you are in a different time zone because you have dated your pages 1 September 2008 while back here in Eastern Time it is still 30 August. I wish I knew how you did it.
Do you have any evidence of any such discrepancy? I didn't think so. I'm afraid that your allegations must be relegated to the category of unsubstantiated rumor.I read the Hartercon II report and found it, in the main, truthful. You neglected talking about the horses' desire to eat the paint of Deb's car. Also, you didn't mention that we went to the Highmore Post Office.
Well, they are horses, after all. I thought you knew about horses.Hah, I have a picture of Jimmy--the sweet cat--on the table eating. If he is so vicious why did he let us rub his tummy? I can see why he attacks you; you never feed him--he was bloated with hunger. Bridger will never be an Olympic class frisbie-catching dog. But it did occur to me that he doesn't want to catch the frisbie; he's teaching you how to play fetch.
Jimmy was deceiving you; he is a very deceitful cat. I fear that you are correct about Bridger's frisbie catching. I will not dignify your speculations about him teaching me to play fetch with this comment.Thanks for the tours of the June Harter Waterfowl Production Area and the Pompadour Hills Ranch. Suford is very appreciative of the South Dakota grass and will be sending her assignment to Wendi as soon as she identifies the burr.
You're welcome. It's always good for con-goers to get away from the con hotel and see the local scenery.We tried your alternate route through Pierre on the way to Denver; we got delayed by road construction. I wish we could travel by train to visit; I hate airplanes. We've been traveling quite a bit this year. I've been to 5 states that I had previously not visited-- WY, MT, ND, SD, and AK (different trip). Our travel next year may be less because we're saving for the 2010 trip to Australia.
By the way, this last trip is the first one in years where we didn't see any family members. I did find out, upon returning home, that the niece of my third cousin Kate Rothwell (historical fiction, erotic fiction as by Summer Devon) was there but niether of us knew it.
We just bought a 1 terabyte external drive for backups and archiving; it cost about $250. About 30 years ago, I bought an external hard drive for my home computer--it was 20 megabytes for about $800. That's a reduction of about 150,000 in what memory costs. But, I still don't have my jet pack and flying car.
The problem is that we are in the wrong future. In the future I grew up in we had moon rockets in county fair carnivals. Deb and I went to the SD State Fair. Was there a moon rocket there? No. Nada. I was so disappointed. And when we came home the car wouldn't fly. Something has gone very wrong some where along the way to the future.Return to index of contributors
From: Peter Neilson
Ask any local hunter about snack-vending machines. He will instruct you on the workings of the .22 rifle, which can be used to secure yummy squirrels and pigeons as snacks. For a full meal a larger calibre is suggested.
A nearby preserve also produces waterfowl, many of which are larger than snack size. You may have heard of it. Again, the correct calibre is required.
Do these devices skin and clean these delicious snacks, cut them up into bite sized pieces, marinade them in spiced sauces, cook them, and package them in ecologically disastrous wrappings? That is the very least that is required of a snack-vending machine in this second century of Our Ford.Return to index of contributors
From: sean combs
Best Of Regards,
I am desolated to inform you that as of this writing we are not in the toilet seat business. Toilet seats are, so to speak, behind us. If perchance you are interested in acquiring rodents of unusual size please let us know.
... Continued on next rock ...
Actually, we is me, and mostly what "we" carry is disreputable intellectual property. Sorry to disappoint.Return to index of contributors
From: Patrick Crowe
I am a 46 yr old cabinetmaker, just learning Autocad. However, I decided that within 36 months I would make a career change and will be working in a technology based job. I have very good math skills, actually was an Engineering student twenty plus years ago, but fell in love with sculpture.
I am interested in getting a BS at a minimum in Mathematics or related field. I cannot go to school right now but am proficient at self study and know I could test out of two years of college math with some diligent work.
My question to you is: what direction would you recommend for someone looking to go into technology thru mathematics and computers? I like to solve problems. I one time devised my own multi-variable calculator program for turning the nominal dimensions on an architectural 2D drawing into the actual dimensions needed for given viewpoints for creating 3D illustrations. I worked for a long time on that and failed over and over till I got it. I realize that's od stuff today but I did with trigonometry 15 years ago. I also used paper models and trigonometric functions to map out the cutting of large scale spiral pipe, 8" to 36" diameter*, to create sculptures for a business in youngstown Ohio.
I have read about Chaos and Fractals and believe that those, along with statistics, would interest me but I want the point of view of somebody out there earning a living doing things that more than 7 people would read. Abstruse, I agree can be interesting, but I want to be involved in something that's going to market.
Thank you if you read this and for any ideas you relay to me. TANSTAAFL!
I hope you understand that you have a tough row to hoe. If you go back to college and get a BS you will be at least 50 and probably 52. You will be entering into the job market in your fifties competing with people who are in their twenties.Return to index of contributors
From: Kevan Moore
i was the one that wrote the original story sometime before 2002.
it was twenty cents, not a quarter, 8 cents tax, not 7 cents, and it happened in huntsville, alabama.
other embellishments to the story (like the entireity of the last paragraph starting with "i finally realized that i was missing...") are entirely unnecessary and quite anticlimactic.
also, the removal of the "i didn't have my calculator watch" diminishes the arrogant geek factor, as the removal of the "i had someone do that to me at hardees a couple of years ago" diminishes the smalltalk factor.
i do applaud your keeping the "..." separation between "smugly drove off" and "without my food". other web pages miss that entirely.
as the original author of the story i offer the above critique of your editing for your perusal and expect your reaction to my advice to be as pleasant as mine reaction to your editing.
it was at the checkers drive thru on my way back from huntsville hospital to visit my friend jeff harwell who was there because he'd had a wreck in his pickup truck that morning (veered off the road trying to kill a spider in his truck).
have a nice day. kevan moore nasa engineer.
Thanks very much for writing. As you have probably surmised, I printed a version that was circulating. People seem to feel the need to add a few "improvements" as they pass these things on. I really can't take credit for such virtues as I have chanced to preserve. I will go ahead and make such corrections as I can - I'm not sure where the calculator watch and Hardees go. Also, unless you very much object, I will add your name as author and your copyright.Return to index of contributors
hey, youReturn to index of contributors
From: Lee R Piazza
We city slickers know you farmers only work twice a year--spring planting and harvest. August isn't either so what's holding up the August edition? If you wait any longer it will be Harvest and then you'll get really behind. Probably out fixing fences? Farmers always say that.
What do you mean, August isn't harvest? They were out threre combining wheat. Not only that I was picking vegetables.
... continued on next rock ...
Which we eagerly await....and wait. BTW what were they combining the wheat with?
Sometime this week. I still have to do my HarterCon II convention report, that and a few more letters.Return to index of contributors
From: Enid Schantz
My husband Tom and I met Irving Binkin in his downtown Brooklyn store, Binkin's Book Bin, in the early 1970s, early in our career as booksellers and publishers. It was filled mainly with cheap paperbacks, which were selling briskly, but when we told him we were looking for hardcover mystery and science fiction, he looked at us with a gleam in his eye. "Ever hear of H.P. Lovecraft?" he asked. We had. He threw us a book from across the room, a pristine copy of a much sought after Arkham House book by a member of the Lovecraft circle. Then he commissioned one of his customers to mind the shop for him while he took us out to coffee and then for a tour of the other six book-filled floors of the building, which he owned, and he told us about the Grill collection.
The story he told us differs quite a bit from the one Jack Chalker evidently told you, and I have no idea where the truth lies. According to Binkin, he got a call from Grill's widow out in Long Island who told him she wanted to sell her husband's library, which included many early volumes on witchcraft. Binkin went to the house, opened one box, which was indeed filled with witchcraft books from the 16th century, and offered her $300 for the entire library, satisfied that he could easily sell the one box he'd opened at a profit. This was his standard operating procedure, he said. He then brought scores of cartons back to the store,which book scouts visited on a regular basis looking for the treasures Binkin was known to produce. Most of the rest of the boxes contained books and other printed matter by and about Lovecraft and the Lovecraft circle, including a complete run of Arkham House books. Binkin had never heard of Lovecraft, but he was intrigued and he got in touch with Jack Chalker, either because of the Mirage Press bibliography in the collection or at the suggestion of one of the book scouts.
At that point he decided that he wasn't going to sell the collection, but that he, Irving Binkin, was going to becomes the world's foremost Lovecraft collector and that he and Mark Owings, Chalker's partner at Mirage Press, were going to catalog the collection, which they did. The scholarship was undoubtedly Owings' as Binkin was a great bookman but no bibliographer. According to you, the collection eventually got broken up and sold. But for a while he, Irving Binkin, was the world's foremost Lovecraft collector, and he couldn't have been prouder.
At that time we visited him, most of the books were still in boxes on another floor of the building, which was filled with bookshelves, cartons of books, and dozens of cats. In fact, the cats (he continually took in strays) caused the health department to close the store down on at least one occasion. Whenever the shelves in the store started to thin out, Binkin would dash upstairs and grab a fresh box at random, which is what the book scouts who haunted the store were waiting for. But the bulk of his sales were of inexpensive and undistinguished paperbacks and a casual visitor to the store would have been astonished to learn what lay upstairs.
So here is a third version of the story, straight from Binkin's mouth, and who is to say which one is true. They're all good stories. And one thing is constant: because of Irving Binkin, an important and unique collection was properly recorded for posterity.
Thank you for a truly fascinating account. Chalker was not above adding a bit of color to add verisimilitude to a bald and unconvincing narrative. I rather fancy that Binkin bent the truth a bit here and there himself. By all accounts he was quite a character.Return to index of contributors
From: Wendi Rinehart
I know you were blaming Microsoft for the delay with the latest editorial....... so what is the new excuse? You certainly have plenty to write about. I'm looking forward to the wit and sarcasm you seem never to run out of.
Perhaps you will understand why the title of the September editorial is "Not this August".Return to index of contributors
From: Peter Neilson
In my note to you about Swedish Citizenship I used the word "Cleary" where I meant "Clearly." Or did I? Perhaps I meant Cleary, who just might be some transplanted Irishman. And we all know the Scandihoovians did settle in Ireland. Or was I thinking of Tim Leary? "I can see Leary now, my brain is gone..."
I think what happened was that you meant "Clearly" but you wrote in a moment of abstracted consciousness, and inadvertently intercepted a cosmic resonance that should never have touched you. Fortunately for you (and the rest of the inhabitants of this planet) you clearly do not not know who or what Cleary is, or more precisely, will have been. All told, I think you are all right - you had the name and not the presence - so there shouldn't be any further difficulty. I grant that it would be best if you spent the rest of your life curled up in a fetal ball, but I don't think you need to take measures quite that desparate.Return to index of contributors
From: Lar Kaufman
I somehow ended up on your webaite this evening, just doing some research after having gotten bored playing on Pokerstars... I think I was looking for information on the modulus of elasticity of baleen, in order to determine its practical utility as a construction material for crossbows to be used in the arctic environment.... I don't think I actually discovered why google pointed me to one of your webpages, but I was delighted to find a number of well, if not parallel, at least loosely parallel (on average) aspects and shared interests, synchronicities and serandipities in the course of our disparate lives... And so I write...
We do seem to have a lot of those things in our disparate lives. I greatly appreciate hearing from you. It is always a pleasure to get correspondence from people who are sane, sensible, and interesting. Almost all of my correspondents are, of course, but there are exceptions. For example there is the chap who took exception to a joke page comparing Rush Limbaugh to Barney the Purple Dinosaur. See http://richardhartersworld.com/cri_c/letters/1999/let99jan.html#clineAnyhow, thanks for the amusement... a couple of remarks while I finish a scotch before retiring... The san programming language... the documentation is clear enough (I should know, I've been a technical writer for nearly 30 years) but I think I missed the obvious... why (or old-style: *_why_*) did you write san? What are its particular strengths in application, and when would I prefer to use it for writing an application? Or did you write san for the same reason you developed your own bidding system in college? (My college room-mate and I used Bobby Nail's Big Diamond/Fantastic No Trump system... I think we chose it just for the expressions of shock and anguish it was capable of evoking on the faces of the local Precision Club bidders at the duplicate bridge studio... sometimes we alternated systems, using Kaplan-Sheinwold every other hand just for amusement.)
I haven't actually implemented the language yet, although I have a framework for it and a lot of utilities. It's a long term, on again, off again project. It gives me room to rework my thinking. I expect that in the near future I'm going to substantially rework the specification so as to simplify. As to what it is for, whyAs for poker in college (i continue to digress) we (my roommate was also named Richard, heh) also had difficulties finding a consistent supply of wealthy contributors... but we developed a fondness for low limit 7-card stud, high-low split, bet-declare-bet at the river, and match the pot if you lose any way you declare (you had the option to declare "out" if you decided you really were in trouble). This proved quite profitable as we regularly roped the Chairman of the Board of Regents into the Tuesday night game at the 40 Acres Club; he had a fondness for double scotch and sodas... so we played pretty carefully until he'd had his third drink delivered... and regularly used to joke that we were attending the University of Texas on a special Regents Scholarship... We also made a steady income playing team hearts for a quarter a point in the lobby of the athletics dorm... the jocks never seemed to run out of money and never noticed that we used bridge card signaling (Roussineau leads) to coordinate our play. If we got to the dorm early enough in the evening, someone would even bring us a couple of steaks from the cafeteria, as the jocks had unlimited dining room privileges...... if you are looking for programming of a new and different kind, and you would like a language that's similarly designed, then I'm prepared ...with apologies to Tom Lehrer.
I like the match the pot provision; it sounds nicely bloody.I am another veteran computer geek... My first computer was an Osborne 1... I was on DECnet in 1981, BITnet in 1983, became a FidoNet sysop and got on usenet in '84 (using UUPC with IBM-DOS on a Compaq Deskpro to connect through the UT engineering department's Unix III system, later upgrading to Coherent on the PC...I didn't actually get internet and arpanet accounts until 1986 tho...Unix and Linux have been good to me since 1983, when I wrote A/IX manuals on text formatting (troff, utilities and macro packages) and C programming for IBM's new RT/PC, ancestor of their RS6000 series... I got into tech writing and electronic documentation systems development by accident after my first high-tech career collapsed (as a licensed aircraft mechanic, where I learned to write by documenting modification procedures for Lear Jets and Sabreliners)... I got my JD in 1999--at age 49--from the BU School of Law, and am currently gathering credentials for my next great career project--setting up a foundation that will actually try to achieve some of the goals of Vannever Bush's Xanadu conceptt: launching a universally accessible distributed structural database of public information... And because establishing the necessary infrastructure will require the active enrollment of librarians, I have been buffing up my library knowledge and credentials... I work part-time at the Kennedy School of Government Library and part-time at the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology. (Come by some time and I'll show you around--I am the interlibrary loan specialist, but do some reference work as well.)
I wrote my first program for money in 1961; it's been down hill ever since. I must have read some of your manuals; I hope you will forgive me for I really don't recall their details. When I am next in the Boston area I will take you up on that offer.And to conclude the coincidences for the evening... I live in Concord, Massachusetts, with my wife Lynne (who is Librarian for the Sciences at Harvard, and Librarian of the Cabot and Tozzer Libraries), two Italian greyhounds (Asta and Bernie), and a blue-headed pionus parrot (Thor)... We are still trying to kick the son and daughter out of the nest before they are into their thirties, but with only moderate and intermittent success...
You do understand that you are in the last generation to go out and independently establish themselves in the world. Lord knows what the next generation will do when they have grown children.Hope to meet you sometime, and thanks again for the website...
Thanks for writing; I will let you know when I am next back east.Return to index of contributors
From: Peter Neilson
When I read the joke, I thought it was mildly funny. I thought I got the point. Then I googled for the phrases. Let's just say, there are different levels of being able to speak a language. Now I'm literally rolling on the floor laughing. (When I say "literally" I mean figuratively.)
Next year in North Dakota.
You inspired me to look it up. If I am not mistaken the first line is the children's line in the Seder, "Why is this night different from every other night", and the second is the response, "Every other night we eat bread, tonight we eat matza."Return to index of contributors
From: Keleish Blake
We've seen your website at http://www.bertc.com/recipes.htm and we love it!
We see that your traffic rank is 144157 and your link popularity is 261. Also, you have been online since 12/1/1999.
With that kind of traffic, we will pay you up to $4,800/month to advertise our links on your website.
Alas, that's not my website.Return to index of contributors
From: Peter Price
your page http://richardhartersworld.com/cri_c/travel/italia.html
Will you ever finish
Now that you've written and asked plaintively I will have to.Return to index of contributors
From: Peter Neilson
PS: Polishing the convention facilities seems to have interfered with updating your website.
HarterCon is scheduled for the 15th and 16th of August. I dare say I will have to do two convention reports.Return to index of contributors
From: Economic Logician
I wrote today about your research. Thanks for your research!
You are welcome. Thank you for writing.Return to index of contributors
From: Chip Hitchcock
"Said aunt discovered that if you only unlock one side and then crank vigorously that the window will break instead of opening. "
Interesting -- I shall have to not try that on those of our new windows that are d/r/i/v/e/n/ o/p/e/n/ /a/n/d/ /c/lo/s/e/d/ /o/p/e/r/a/t/e/d/ supplied with cranks. But it doesn't surprise me. 35 years ago, in my first professional job, every laboratory in the building had been designed so that you could get directly outside if there were a fire between you and the hall door; each had an emergency exit consisting of the sort of framed w indow that would have been crank-operated if it hadn't had to open quickly. (Instead it was secured by a simple latch.) The first time somebody actually tried to use one of these exits the window not only shattered but left jagged three-foot spears of glass in the frame. (Fortunately it was just a drill.) As I'm sure you've remarked, nothing is > made better now than it used to be. . . .
I'm sure that I have so remarked, but that means nothing. I try to repeat every bit of cheap wisdom at least once so as to cover all bases.The deadly part of a martini is not the recipe (even a fairly sweet standard martini has almost as much alcohol as straight gin) but the size; the modern stem glass is huge. At least, the recipe is n't deadly for \real/ martinis; have you seen what some places offer to put in a stem glass these days? I once asked about the concoction the bartender at our nearest steakhouse was putting together; the dregs from the shaker were sticky-sweet by themselves, and he'd put a swirl of caramel in the glass before filling it.
Frightening, simply frightening. Then there are the things that they do to coffee....Your stage memories are fading; sisters, cousins, and aunts are the chorus of _H.M.S. Pinafore_. The femail chorus of _The Mikado_ are alleged to be schoolgirls; we are not supposed to enquire what they and the alleged "gentlemen of Japan" are getting up to (down to?) offstage -- especially in the Sydney product in which the girls arrived, seated on a train of steamer trunks, licking all-day suckers.
Oh dear. I was thinking of "his daughter in-law elect" and somehow had her singing sisters, etc. Given time, I suppose I shall manage to put all of G and S into the Mikado. It will be ever so much more convenient that way.Peter Neilson's memory is also questionable; Norwegians will tell you the Swedes are the ones who stayed at home instead of going viking. The Swedes did have this feud going with the Danes, though, and I vaguely recall they meddled in Finland, so it's plausible that his ancestors and yours both had conscription on their list of reasons to leave. (wrt your response, note that there are bleaker places than the upper Midwest U.S.; the ancestors of many Manitobans came from the Ukraine.)
You and Peter shall have to settle the Sweden/Norwegian thing between you - I have entirely too many demands made upon my scholarship already. I do know that Sweden was real kick-ass during the latter years of the thirty years war. I once read a history of the thirty years war - it took me thirty years to finish it. I'm hoping to finish a history of the hundred years war....
... continued on next rock ...
I had written:
Point well taken. There are no restaurants in Highmore that warrant boxing up the remains of the meal. Come to think on it, I'm not even sure there that there are snack vending machines here.Return to index of contributors
This page was last updated September 13, 2008.