# Procrastiblog

## November 27, 2007

### Morrissey Rocks

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 4:24 am

We found this strange tombstone in Calvary Cemetery in Queens. No date of birth, no date of death. Just “Morrissey Rocks.” Is this the grave of some devoted, anonymous Morrissey fan? An man with an unusual name? Or did some hipster buy a plot and put up a stone, just for kicks? Would the cemetery allow that? I suppose I could call the management company and ask, but I’d prefer to let the Internet spontaneously reveal all.

### Mm, Pot Pie

Filed under: Food — Chris @ 2:46 am

The NY Times recipe for Turkey pot pie with chipotle and cheese is awesome, although I did make a few modifications. Instead of the “cheesy stick” lattice top, I made a biscuit topping from this Gourmet magazine recipe (I forgot to add the cheese and they didn’t really rise, but whatever). I used homemade Thanksgiving-turkey-carcass stock. I used 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole milk (because I didn’t have enough cream). I added about a 1.5 cups of sliced shitake mushrooms and 1.5 cups of mixed grated Cheddar/Monterey Jack/Colby along with the turkey and veggies. I sprinkled about 1/2 cup of the cheese on top of the biscuits.

I don’t think any of these modifications made a huge amount of difference, although I can testify that it turned out plenty creamy without 2 cups of cream. I would not recommend attempting the cheesy stick lattice.

[UPDATE 12/2/1008] This recipe has frustrated me of late.

## November 26, 2007

### xkcd: Success

Filed under: Not Tech, Tech, Waste of Time — Chris @ 2:31 pm

This is pretty much exactly how it went down when I upgraded to Gutsy.

Consider this a standing endorsement of xkcd.

## November 25, 2007

### Gnome Sessions

Filed under: Linux, Tech — Chris @ 8:56 pm

I tentatively clicked “Remember current running applications” in Gnome Session Preferences (aka gnome-session-properties) and lived to regret it. What this does is it restarts any currently running application when you login. This is useful for, e.g., your online backup daemon, but kind of annoying for, e.g., five Emacs windows, Last.fm, some random Nautilus directory window, etc.

Now, first I tried checking and unchecking “Automatically remember running applications when logging out”, as the window layout makes it seem as if these two settings are related. They are not. Then, I was tempted to fix this by futzing with the “Startup Programs” or “Current Session” lists. This is Not Right.

The Right Thing is to close all your programs (or just the offending ones) and then click again on “Remember current running applications”. That is to say: the only way to change the “remembered” snapshot is to take another snapshot*.

Note: Session Preferences has a Help button, but the Gnome manual page on it doesn’t mention “Remember currently running programs” or “Automatically remember running applications when logging out”. This is annoying.

* Presumably there is a text file tucked away somewhere that controls this (maybe ~/.gnome2/session?), but I haven’t the patience to find out.

### Style Guidelines for People

Filed under: LaTeX — Chris @ 8:03 pm

In the midst of some unrelated Googling, I came across Luca de Alfaro’s style guidelines for student co-authors. This is good stuff. I particularly like “one sentence per line” b/w “fill-sentence macro”. It’s an elegant solution to a frequently annoying deficiency of diff, which is unfortunately the baseline for anyone collaborating via CVS or SVN. I tweaked his macro to get nice indentation in AucTeX:

(defun fill-sentence ()
(interactive)
(save-excursion
(or (eq (point) (point-max)) (forward-char))
(forward-sentence -1)
(indent-relative)
(let ((beg (point)))
(forward-sentence)
(if (equal "LaTeX" (substring mode-name (string-match "LaTeX" mode-name)))
(LaTeX-fill-region-as-paragraph beg (point))
(fill-region-as-paragraph beg (point))))))
(global-set-key "\ej" 'fill-sentence)

[UPDATE 1/20/08] Fixed an off-by-one error when the cursor is on the first character of the sentence by adding (forward-char).
[UPDATE 9/19/08] Fixed an error when the cursor is at the end of the buffer by changing (forward-char) to (or (eq (point) (point-max)) (forward-char))

### BSG Is Back (Then Gone Again)!

Filed under: Battlestar Galactica, Not Tech, TV — Chris @ 4:50 pm

BSG: Razor is basically a very solid, two-part flashback episode in TV movie form. Admiral Cane is resurrected* for some Hot Lesbian Action and to dictate a torture memo** (“Pain, degradation, fear, shame… Be as creative as you feel the need to be”). Eighties vintage Cylons are resurrected for no apparent reason. New characters are introduced and then killed off with ruthless efficiency. There was a bit of the old, vague mytho-babble (“All of this has already happened… and will happen again”) pointing towards the next season, which makes me terribly worried the show will end badly, in grand X-Files and/or Twin Peaks style.

It doesn’t look like Razor is scheduled to re-air, if you missed it, but it will be out on DVD next week (in an annoyingly expanded version). Season 4 is scheduled to begin in March (or April?). Till then, work…

* Not in the “she’s a Cylon” sense.

** Isn’t it fun how “torture memo” is now a cultural reference?

### LaTeX Letters

Filed under: LaTeX, Tech — Chris @ 4:42 pm

I was trying to write a letter in LaTeX the other day:

\documentclass{letter}

\signature{Me}

\begin{document}
\begin{letter}

\opening{To Whom It May Concern:}

Hello, there.

\closing{Sincerely,}

\end{letter}
\end{document}

This led to the following two errors, which shed little light on the situation:

! LaTeX Error: There's no line here to end.

See the LaTeX manual or LaTeX Companion for explanation.
Type H  for immediate help.
...

l.10 \opening{To Whom It May Concern:}

and (on a different example)

! Incomplete \iffalse; all text was ignored after line 66.

\fi
l.16 \end{letter}

Runaway text?
\@mlabel{}{\unhbox \voidb@x \ignorespaces \global \let

The problem, as it was gently explained to me, is I had omitted the second mandatory argument of \begin{letter}, which is the address of the recipient. The following is correct:

\documentclass{letter}

\signature{Me}

\begin{document}
\begin{letter}{Foo Corp.}

\opening{To Whom It May Concern:}

Hello, there.

\closing{Sincerely,}

\end{letter}
\end{document}

[UPDATE] I just realized that the reason I got so confused about this is that I was working off a previous business letter that was formatted like:

\begin{document}
\begin{letter}
{
Foo Corp. \\
... \\
ATTN: Warranty Dept.}
...

I’m not sure if I intended it to be the case (probably not), but LaTeX picked up the braces around the address as the argument to letter. When I used this as the template for a personal letter and deleted the address, all hell broke loose.

## November 21, 2007

### All Merchandise Missing, Empty Carton Discarded

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 3:39 pm

Huh. I’ve never seen a “shipping status” like this before:

Package ProgressDate         Time Activity  Location  Notes
11/15/07  9:11 AM DAMAGE REPORTED / DAMAGE CLAIM UNDER INVESTIGATION  SECAUCUS, NJ
11/15/07  9:04 AM MERCHANDISE IS MISSING. UPS WILL NOTIFY THE SENDER  SECAUCUS, NJ
WITH ADDITIONAL DETAILS. / ALL MERCHANDISE
MISSING, EMPTY CARTON WAS DISCARDED. UPS WILL
NOTIFY THE SENDER WITH DETAILS OF THE DAMAGE
11/14/07 12:54 PM UNLOAD SCAN                                         SECAUCUS, NJ
11/14/07  9:58 AM ARRIVAL SCAN                                        SECAUCUS, NJ
11/13/07 11:00 PM DEPARTURE SCAN                                      GROVEPORT, OH
11/13/07  9:30 PM ORIGIN SCAN                                         GROVEPORT, OH
11/14/07 11:33 PM BILLING INFORMATION RECEIVED

BTW, the damage has not, to my knowledge, “been reported.” To me, at least.

## November 18, 2007

### Starving Like Cats and Dogs

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 4:50 pm

Substitute “cat” for “dog” in this little drama and you have a good idea of what pretty much every day is like around here:

Dog: I am starving.
Me: Actually, no. You aren’t starving. You get two very good meals a day. And treats. And Best Beloved fed you extra food while I was gone.
Dog: STARVING.
Me: I saw you get fed not four hours ago! You are not starving.
Dog: Pity me, a sad and tragic creature, for I can barely walk, I am so starving. WOE.
Me: I am now ignoring you.
Dog: STARVING.
Dog: Did you hear me? I am starving.

From there, it takes a turn towards the slightly-less-universal (and incredibly funny). Read the whole thing.

## November 15, 2007

### Fake project directories in tarballs

Filed under: Tech — Chris @ 2:39 pm

To make a tarball where all the files are in a subdirectory FOO (as per best practices), where FOO doesn’t really exist on your disk (e.g., FOO may be PROJECT-vX.Y.Z and the files are in directory PROJECT), just do

tar cvf NAME.tar --transform=s,^,FOO/,g FILES

Note that the argument to transform in this case is just a sed command with commas instead of slashes.

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