Monthly Archives: October 2013

So, what’s the deal with ‘Like’s?

    Where do they ‘Live’? What happens when they ‘Die’
Damn word-thieves. Unimaginative ‘samplers’. Go buy a vowel and make your own novel and distinct word for what happens when a post meets one’s fancy.
Seriously, I have no clue what’s up with ‘Like’s, other than a notification in the victim’s email In-box.
I’ve been ‘liked’ here, by folks whose judgement I value highly, and I appreciate it. I’ve also been ‘Robo-liked’ by sites who never even visited me or read the post. Usually the Robo-likers have ‘59,000 Followers’. They have the time to send out swarms of  Liker-zombies, searching for new meat.
Anyway, do ‘Like’s go anywhere? Do they pile up in some WP personel-file, to your credit? Does anyone but the ‘Liker’ and the ‘Likee’ ever hear about them.
I’d really like to know, so no avocado comments this time, just the facts, OK?
ADD: I don’t know why I so resist being reduced to a one-word yes/no. Pavlov called his early proto-likes ‘Salivates’ ‘Drools‘ might just catch on. They’ll probably spell it ‘Drulez‘ for cuteness. Yeah, ‘I Haz ‘Drulez’
I remember seeing an ad for a retirement village. the blurb boasted ‘Over seven different life-styles available!’ Don’t think they had mine in stock, plus what’s up with ‘over seven‘? Does that sound more tempting than ‘eight’? Cause you know, if they had 119, they’d surely crow even louder about that. But I babble on…  So what’s the deal with ‘Like’s? 

Finally! The truth about four-letter words, etc.

My previous post on this     contained inexcusable errors. I will leave it up, for the comments mainly, but also to prevent being nagged to be the next Pope, since it amply demonstrates my Fallibility.
Ok, my mistakes were caused by confusing two separate processes:
1) Create a dictionary/ alphabetical ‘phone-book’ of all possible 4-letter words. (whether they make sense or not.) How many are there?

And 2) Given any handful of 4 letters, how many ways can they be re-arranged?
The second question was visually demonstrated in the ‘Factoid’ post with the little blocks lined up in rows. There were, and are, 24 ways to do it. The example I chose, P-O-S-and T, is particularly rich in ‘makes-sense’ combinations: 7 out of 24. Most randomly selected ‘trays’ have zero words spellable. And the number here, 24 is indeed 4-factorial, That is: ‘4X3X2X1’. End part two.
The first challenge is no less interesting(?)  A truly heavy and worthless phone-book, its first entry will be ‘AAAA’, the second AAAB, and so on. And on and on. The last page will conclude with ‘ZZZZ’. perhaps appropriate for a book which took years to read. Get a life and go to sleep! in any order.

Of course the publisher is bugging me as we speak: ‘How many pages will there be?” I have to tell him ‘something’, so math to the rescue.
Well, there will be 26 X 26 X 26 X 26 words in the book. This is a result of the 26 letters in the English alphabet, and the process we use: choosing a first letter (26 choices), then a second, (also 26), and so forth.
The answer is 456,976 words. If we cram a hundred on a page, that’s 4,569 pages, with some empty space after ‘ZZZZ’. Makes War and Peace look like a ‘pamphlet’, it does. (That calculation, by the way is often written as 26^4.

Now, you could pick any entry and do the ‘letter-shuffle’ game with it, but as Bette Midler sang once ‘Why Bother?’ Yes, indeed, why bother, since anything you get by re-arranging is already in the list somewhere. You can look it up.

End of part one.
Ok, you ask, so what was that stupendous giant-stupid number you cited in the other post. Well, *hangs head* it was the number of entries in Volume Two of my best-seller series,  the one with ‘All possible 24-letter words!’
The publisher is saying let’s wait on that, see how the first one sells. I kinda agree, since there are at present not enough trees in the galaxy to print even one copy of the behemoth.
Hope this clears up the matter, clears up what was the matter with my brain, and partially clears my MANE. Sorry, I MEAN NAME..  /JS

Shrink: ‘Depressed, huh? I’d be too if I had your problem.’

Me:Kinda puts you out of a job then, don’t it?’

Shrink: “Well, I prefer to say ‘I know when I’m  licked‘.”

Me: “Yeah I guess. Me being convinced I have some horrific undiagnosed terminal disease, yet sacared to go find out…”

Shrink: “Nah, we could deal with that one. Worst case, you pay me in advance…no, it’s the blog thing that’s intractable, untreatable.”

“Wow, I’d thought it was brain-cancer or the chickens…”

“what, chickens eating your crops? A piece of cake! I teach you to accept and move on. Oh and move the chickens. But Fear of viral-less-ness? That there’s a can of worms if I ever saw one.”


   OK, this didn’t happen. I can’t afford a shrink. No loss, he can’t fix me anyway. My prognosis is poor. Keep blogging, check Stats hourly, start losing tons of weight, let my toe-nails grow like Howard Hughes… The only question is whether I’ll be coherent enough to ‘Delete Site‘ before the End.

But seriously now, what’s a guy do to find a little Action in this WP cow-town?

I shouldn’t complain; I’m new here. And so far, at least one of the two ‘Q’s is truly heart-warming. That’d be ‘Quality’ (as opposed to ‘Quantity’. The replies I do get are uniformly break-yer-heart thoughtful.
Still, on Xanga (EL: ‘Will you please forget about that rigour-morticed carcass already!’: )… I got used to 10, 20, 30 comments on a post. Not to mention seeing my dumb face on the Front Page almost daily.
Last night I did an experiment: Searched a topic (synesthesia, about which I’m, for better or worse, conversant) and chose four or five blogs on which to leave comments. So far (16 hours and counting) I haven’t gotten much of a rise out of it, but hey, there are tons of topics waiting to be explored.
Is this the way to ‘find ‘Friends’ and Fahrvergnugen?
One could proffer all kinds of explanations. Perhaps on Xanga my coterie of readers felt duty-bound to comment. Maybe even out of pity(!).
Here, followers are easily lulled into a sense of anonymity, not knowing whether I have a tracker aboard. Xanga worked with an in-house tracker ‘Footprints’, which displayed the user-name of visitors, who knew they were being noticed. But, nicely, entire posts were also readable ‘off-the-record’ in the ‘Read my Subs’ module, so one had time to breathe, and quietly decide whether to throw your two cents into the ring.


And so in temporary conclusion, how does anyone feel about his/her volume of traffic? And am I alone, deluded, hopeless, and un-shrinkable in feeling only half a man if I’m not ‘viral’ 24/7 ?

OMG! It’s Factoids on Factorials!

POST blocks Again, whistling in the WP Darkness, I’m sure you are all curious just how many combos of any four letters there are.
Well, there’s a formula, you can look it up, but we don’t need no stinking formulae! We just spend an hour making a nifty chart (above…can’t put stuff where you want it here, ugh!)

Look at it this way: There are four choices for the first letter, (The four quarters of the chart)

And once that letter is chosen, there be three choices left to explore for the second letter in the ‘word’.
And finally, the remaining two letters can appear in any of two different orders.
Putting it together, there are four (4) times three (3) times two (2) possible letter orders. Dat’s 24 and in math, 24 is called the ‘factorial’ of 4, and written as   ‘4!’   Yes with an exclammation mark! As in “Oy, I’m just so freaking happy I read this post!

Three-letter words, by extension, have only 6 possibilities (3X2X1)
And when we presently tackle FIVE-LETTER WORDS! there will be 120 choices for each scrabble-tray of 5 letters. Yes, 5! equals 5X4X3X2X1 =120. We always mention the ‘one’ at the end, so he don’t feel left out. and dat’s the story here…
So”, you’re asking, “how many possible four-letter words could there be in English?”
‘You mean, if they don’t have to make sense?’
“Yeah, most of the popular ones I think I’ve heard already.”
Ok, the answer is simple. It’s 24! (twenty four factorial, that is!)
A big number, and by coincidence(?) very close to another whopper, Avogadro’s Number. It’s about 6 followed by 23 zeros! Even if you spent your lifetime spewing four-letter words you’d hardly get started before they buried you, still cursing bitter Fate.
We can figure this one out too, while we’re crunching digits. At one ‘expletive-deleted’ per second, working 24 hours X 60 minutes X 60 seconds, you’d blabber 86,000 words a day. That wouldn’t even get you  to the ‘F-U’s, and I’m guessing that you’d go to your Maker trying to cheat, screaming ‘FART on a RAFT, I HATE Factorials!’

Perhaps if you’d read this post first, you would have reconsidered your dream.

Something sweet about four-letter worlds

Recall that we earlier made a fairly exhaustive survey of three-letter combinations which can be re-arranged? No? Well, we did. and now we can move on to more fertile ground: the 4-letter words mentioned in the title.
(and if you, dear reader, don’t find this fascinating, well, you better click out before THIS SITH SHIT HITS the WP fan. CYA, but do come later, ok?)
This story belongs, I suppose to ERIC, a student at RICE University, and his girl-friend LOIS, who is getting her master’s in SOIL management there.
Eric, who changes his major like some folks change socks, suffers as do I , from synesthesia, and one of its attendant symptoms;  helplessly watching, in one’s mind’s eye, as letters, all coloured and aromatic, float in a kind of bee-swarm off the page… and all words with the same four letters, for example, are distinctive ‘members of that swarm’.
Lois, her hands and feet a bit deeper in the rich soil of normalcy, none-the-less tolerated his quirks. A sweet couple, they should be together for a hundert jahr’n.
When they met, Eric was pursuing studies in both Chem and Bio. “I’m gonna be a STAR,” he told her, “with my Bachellor-of-ARTS in both TARS and RATS.” Lois gazed at the horizon, trying not to laugh.
That was before it all became serious. And serious it did  became  when the two of them sub-let the apartment of Lois’ close friends, MARY and MYRA, who’d gone off to join the ARMY. Lois thought the coincidence odd; Eric called it ‘predestined’.
Who knows, but it did keep happening. One by one their friends ‘manifested‘ (let’s call it). BRAD, a truly DRAB fellow with limited charisma, landed a job right off-campus in Houston portraying Wm. Shakespeare, a BARD of some note. Then, in turn, BARB married an ARAB, ENOS got a (disastrous) NOSE-job, KURT discovered his roots as a TURK, and even Lois’ dear sister Mimi,  studying vocal performance in Sherbrooke, Quebec, took the summer off to fly to Norway, just to sing SOLO in the LOOS of OSLO.
That was probably the ‘convincer‘ for Lois. “If this ain’t an OMEN from NOME I don’t know from omens!” she said to herself, and, blushing, turned to Eric and whispered:

“Let’s turn out the lights, put in that DISK you love, and have a SKID of KIDS. You know the one; we’ll play it again and again.
“You mean “RINA: ‘Singing through the RAIN‘?” Eric asked, but of course they both knew.
And so we pan out discretely. Watch a FLEA do cartwheels on a LEAF, a FOAL LOAF around on the ACRE test-plot Lois was given to CARE for, down by the RACE-track (after KAY’S  YAKS failed to multiply, but instead just SHAT in the Trainer’s HATS.


The wedding was a magical affair: In a pink fairy dress, DAWN blessed the couple with her WAND and they exited to happily-ever-after-land in a hale of rice, thence to the vehicle they’d rented. A RACECAR, duh. You had any doubts?

“Mommy, my Word Press is full of …eww..Bugs!”

“Yes, sweetheart, ‘poop’ happens’. Get used to it.”

“But Mom… half the time it’s almost un-usable…”

“That’s what happens when a generation of silicone wunder-kids are told that every sloppy line they code is Newton’s ‘Principia'”

“I’m so disappointed, Mommie.”

“How much you pay for it?”

“Well, it’s free, you know, like..”

“Like a gift-horse that appears on the doorstep one day.”

“Yeah, and just when my Xanga was dying a horrible death.”

“Good for you you saved stuff, child. And did you ever contact the owner?”

“Sure. He says the horsie’s got ‘nice even teeth’.

“Nu… and you looked in her mouth?”

“Uh huh. One, three, five, seven, and nine are… missing!”

“I say go for it, despite the flaws. Kids in India are riding horses with no teeth!”
“I want a second opinion. When does Daddy get home from work?”
Dad takes the reins:

OK, I checked my daughter’s site, and I have to admit, her complaints are well-founded. Let me be specific:

1) AWOL cursor: Typing a comment is like pissing in a toilet with the light off. The cursor appears, far as I can tell, once a week, usually on a Wednesday, for an hour or so.

2) Disappearing ‘Post Comment’ click: Trying to reply from the drop-down box (upper left on the screen) if you say more than ‘LOL’, the text scrolls down and you no longer have any way known to man to click on ‘Post Reply’. Great fun.

3) the ‘Zero-Comments’ Glitch: Posts appearing in the Reader which already have any number of interesting comments attached none-the-less insist on proclaiming “0 comments” Not all, just some of them, of course, to add an extra layer of ‘unknown’.This makes it impossible to judge whether your earlier comment there was replied to, among other reasons why one might want to know the actual facts.

4) NTSC: the US TV display standard by this name is often mocked, ‘NTSC’ parsed as ‘Never The Same Colour’. The same curse applies, and how, to WP. It’s positively infuriating that a click on a ‘widget’, ‘icon’ or whatevah-the f*ck the enfant-terribles call ’em lands you at a different spot every day. As if a random-number generator was choosing the target.

5) “The New entry Editor” (to generously call it by a neutral name:
First of all, even ‘Support’ instructs the victims not to use the prominent ‘New Post” click from the Top Bar. That beast asks, in a foul mood “What do you want to post? Text, Photos, an Audio Suicide Note? Like we give a shit…”
All you can do then,if you fall for it, is to try to paste in the text, then save as Draft, and later, open as an Edit in the Real editor, which is screwed up, but in a different way.
Good luck getting your photos to display correctly. The Editor put ’em where it wants; go suck eggs, dead-beat. Plus, they appear in the Reader as Giant-sized, but in your post as postage-stamps.

6) The missing formatting necessities: Stuff like ‘font-size, font-colour, background-colour, so easily accessible on Xanga, are, on WP. hidden so well, (if they exist?) in the bowels of the monster that nothing short of a massive Barium Enema could ever find them. You learn to fore-go them gradually, I guess, like an incontinent, impotent, invalid.

So yes, my sweet and innocent daughter, go tell yer Mom that ‘Daddy sez I’m right about… you know… the Bugs.’ And that she should fix ’em for you right away. It’s a Mother’s job, and if she doesn’t get to it, ask her if it’s true that you’re ‘adopted’.

Question: What does Orion know that I don’t?

This morning at 5AM, dark as midnight, I was making the early rounds of my nature-preserve, and, looking upward, watched as a stunning meteor flew from between Orion’s leggies and thence straight to Cassiopeia, the ‘Seven Sisters’. Not sure which one of them got knocked up, as they say. The shooting star then continued in a straight path until, spent, it blinked out, almost on the NW horizon.

Yes, this is the yearly Orionid shower, when the Earth passes through the crumbs left by Halley’s Comet. I’m happy enough to have seen one, but it raised anew a nagging question that I’m embarrassed to admit I have:
“How and why, geometrically or astronomically, can the majority of the meteors seem to ‘radiate’ from the constellation of Orion?

Follow my thinking here: I shove the kitchen table to the center of the room, put a basketball in the center (The Sun) and then place a pool ball somewhere on the table. That’s the earth, spinning like a top 365+/- times as it makes one circle per year, on the table, around the basketball. the half of the pool-ball facing away from the Sun is my night-time. And I see different ‘fixed’ stars each night as I gaze upwards, or in the model, toward the walls of the kitchen, where they all ‘live’.
Now, meteors: I carefully spill a track of, say, sugar, in a line crossing my pool-balls route on the table. This is Halley’s cosmic debris, and I make sure that it happens in late October. which in the model is the corner of the table facing the pantry walls, upon which I’ve drawn Orion the Great Hunter. (Yes, I actually did this; trouble sleeping until I ‘get it’.
And so, spinning counter-clockwise viewed from above, the Earth/pool-ball runs into the space junk and we see fireworks. More so past midnight, when they hit the side of earth facing the direction of travel.
But WHY-THE-F*CK should they appear to all be coming from the pantry door??? I’m not even going to offer an explanation, cuz mainly, I haven’t one.
Anyone know?/ ‘Sleepless near Tel Aviv’