Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Alphabet Souperhero - Alpha Version

I'm still missing a B, V and a Y. Can't even spell my own name yet. :(

A to L:

M to Z:

Numbers and Punctuation:

Two-Lettered Heroes:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Causing More Mischief on Wordnik

Oh hello. I've been up to no good, spending my time watching internet television and flipping around wordnik pages as I please.

First of all, I continue tagging more things in im-pure non-linguist approved format.... like vcvccv.

On my birthday, a great new game was invented because of conflicting pronunciation of the word chimera. Thus began a weeklong game of one-upmanship, trying to think of more new words that use ch in a word with a k sound. Most are Greek. In our game we could only use a root word once, so variations on 'chronology' did not count as new additions, unless they were really awesome. Loch is technically a different guttural sound, but for the purposes of a light-hearted list-based game, I hope I can be forgiven. Please add as you like. I tried to remember all the ones I could, but there were a lot. The list so far is HERE.

When I ran out of "ch with a k sound" words, my mind looked for more fun letter combinations to play with, and I soon realized that there are not many words that have R and H next to each other. Rhino, rhythm, rhombus, rheumatoid, the list does not go on for very long. But then! An extension was made, realizing that R and H are often in the middle of words, at the junction between the two parts of a compound word. neighboRHood. supeRHero. waRHorse. Fun times, the list I started is HERE. You may notice Spiderham on the list, which was a children's comic book series that my family owns and I read as a child. You can find him immediately on Google Images, so I think it's pretty legit.

Once upon a time in elementary school, I hated math. I still hate math. My math teacher said we could get a free pass on doing homework if we could bring in an example of a $1.00 word. The system is based off of A=1, B=2, J=10, T=20, Z=26. You add all the letters up and if they equal 100, that's a dollar word. I super-sponge absorbed that system into my brain, and spent the next month of my life with a calculator at the ready, plugging in any and all words i could think of that might work. Pumpkin, elephant, wizards, hamburger, excellent. I loved them. It turns out the internet has taken the thinking out of the list, and you can find them all in one nice place called Math Lair. It lists 660 words, I entered in about a third of them while I was watching internet television this evening. It made me happy. Here's the list so far.

BH are my initials, and B next to an H is not common. And it looks weird, and so far I just have Clubhouse. There must be others. I found a lot of -house words by looking through the font catalog at House Industries. I got a catalog from them in the mail once, very well designed. I believe I had them address it to bOb fencepost, which was my nom de internet at the time. Brilliant.

Another uncommon and strange looking letter order. This one I also found through hunting House's fonts, but with a little more success. DHarma, maDHouse, roaDHouse, birDHouse.

Happy tagging, everybody. Please join in and play.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Alphabet Souperhero!

One time in high school, Mr. Fagiano had the whole class push all the desks to the side of the room, turned off the lights, and told us all to take a nap. He was my first philosophy teacher, and some philosopher (sorry un-named philosopher) said that he got his best ideas in the space between sleeping and waking. In our class, we laid on the ground for about 10 minutes, and then he woke us all up (I never slept) and told us to write down whatever we had just been thinking about. My mind had been wandering so I had something to write, but I always thought it was silly. BUT NOW. This new idea comes from that place.

Friday morning I woke up to the beginning of "I Can't Stop Loving You" by Ray Charles with the little harp intro and the BIG CHORUS SOUND. and then I hit snooze. Five minutes later, I heard it again and I hit snooze again. Repeat 5 more times. Then when I got up, I sprang to my computer (feet away from the bed) and started looking up Google images for Mario, Luigi, Superman, and Alvin from Alvin and the chipmunks. Why? They all have letters on them. Mario and Luigi on their hats, Superman and Alvin on their chests. "I WILL CATALOG THESE CHARACTERS AND MAKE AN ALPHABET" I said to the pandas in my room, "A MIGHTY CLOTHING ALPHABET AND ALL WILL BE AMAZED!"

That is a BIG picture, by the way, if you want more detail. I know who all of them are, except for O who apparently is the "Blue Circle" for diabetes. (I needed an O. I hope I can replace him soon.)

It is not perfect yet, but the first day I came up with 17 letters, and the 2nd day I came up with 3, so I figure the curve is not in my favor. I am still missing B N T V and Y. If you look, you will see there is a N and a V, which are the Beatles doing flag semaphore on the HELP! album cover, NOT SPELLING HELP. I learned this recently on QI's Groovy Episode and I consider them place holders until better, more legitimate people can be found.
The other strange letters are C F K and U, resulting in predictable but still funny expletives from the SNL sketch Jingleheimer Junction.

If you have suggestions for letters I am missing, or just more options for ones I have, please let me know.

As a rule, if a character has 2 letters, they can be on the list if they are the same letter twice. Daredevil has DD, so he is okay. Larry-Boy and Danger Mouse have an LB and a DM, respectively, so they can't be on the list.

Updates as they come...

UPDATE ONE: 1/10 3:50pm: Alexa thought of Captain Crunch who has eyebrows as well as a C on his hat. Thank you Alexa. Your name will soon be made out of absurd people letters.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I'm Pretty Sure I Just Did Something Awesome

I haven't done anything today, unless you count the hundreds of words I've tagged on Wordnik.com in an attempt to create a foundation for ... something.

Basically, I go to an entry for a word. I look at how the word is spelled. I tag the word based on the pattern it has of consonants and vowels. Consonant is c, vowel is v. Panda is "cvccv". Panther is "cvcccvc". That's it.

The beauty of is is when you spend your whole day doing this, your job is basically to 'think of all the words in English" and then tag them with their consonant/vowel pattern. Some of the combinations point out obvious connections between fight, right, light, might, etc, but other words in the 'cvccc' pattern include birth, waltz, world, and sixth. Unexpected, neh?

I'm sure that a program could be written fairly easily to accomplish this task in minutes, but I had kind of a blast doing it manually. Actually, this blog is taking forever because every word I type here I want to go and tag on wordnik.

As I said, I'm not sure of the practical application of this. Making the connections may be the entire purpose. I mean, you can deduce that 'deer' and bead' have the same pattern of cvvc, (one of the most popular ones, and therefore one I have not been tagging as much). It's the strange combinations that seem worth making, and I'm happy to make this strong foundation. My favorite series of words is 'vccvcvcv' which currently has: advocate, antelope, envelope, escalate, and ominivore.

A while ago, I brainstormed about what online dictionaries could offer that paper ones cannot, specifically because of Erin McKean's very smart but understandable TED Talk where she explains the "ham butt problem." There could be so many more features than we are used to settling for. Wordnik already links to Flickr, and provides etymologies as well as popularity charts on the right side, explaining when a word has come in and out of the language. Pretty sweet stuff.

For some reason, I made an example page of what I thought an online definition page should look like, and included this function. In my example, it was apple, which it turns out has the very strange combination of 'vcccv.' It took a long time to match up any other words with that pattern but now there are 5.


Some caveats when tagging and searching for tagged words on Wordnik:
1. I spent a lot of time on this today but I'm only one person. Anyone can add tags by creating their own free little account. Please add them if you think they should be there.
2. I started out just doing 4, 5, and 6 letter words, eventually expanding out to 3-letter and 7-12 letter words. Therefore, if they are 4, 5, or 6 letters long, it's more likely there will be a larger database of words to compare it to.
3. For some reason today I'm having trouble deciding whether the Y in KEY should be a vowel or a consonant, so I tagged it for both 'cvv' and 'cvc.'
4. So far I haven't done any hyphenated words, but I'm sure they will fall into place easily.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009: A Year in Pandas

1. March 3rd, 2009: A mysterious package arrived in my kitchen, turns out it was a carrier for EPIC PANDA also known as SUPERLATIVE PANDA!!

2. May 9th, 2009: I went to China. I held a panda. You didn't. Deal with it.

3. July 25th, 2009: Marble gave me a panda necklace for my birthday. It has heart feet like Propaganda Panda does.

4. August 5th: Yun Zi born at San Diego Zoo. Thus creating endless pandacam footage I would not shut up about.

5. September 6th, 2009: I bought a ridiculous panda hat/scarf/gloves combo at PAX, a birthday present from Ty. As long as I don't look in a mirror, I'm happy. I love everything about it.

5. December 25th, 2009: Ty visited San Diego and brought back 2 panda souvenirs for me. One, a child's panda face mask, and the second a framed picture of EPIC PANDA in the wild, before he came to stay with me. Both from the zoo, both fantastic.

Things I Discovered in 2009: Music

These are not necessarily albums created in 2009, but ones I found and heard and loved.

4. Paul and Storm
They opened up for Jonathan Coulton at PAX, and they won over the whole audience there, myself included. My favorite must be Live, their Coulton-esque reanimation love song, but their parodies are pretty spectacular. (See Domino's, Pillsbury and Cheetos jingles, as well as Bob Dylan in a well, and James Taylor on fire on their website here) I've been listening their podcast "Paul and Storm Talk about Some Stuff for Five to Ten Minutes on Average" which runs 20-40 minutes. It's cute, because they are internet almost famous but they need a little bit of editing. I joined their brigade of minions, so that is something that might be fun and or useful eventually.

3. The Hush Sound - Like Vines
These guys opened for The Spill Canvas, at the Hawthorne Theater, and grabbed my attention with "Medicine Man." They split up the singing between a guy and a girl and they both rock. Like Vines has the most songs I now love, but Goodbye Blues and So Sudden also have great tracks, like As You Cry and Sweet Tangerine. "Don't Wake Me Up" has a great Fall Out Boy moment with the guy singer, and "We Intertwined" makes you wish you were in a happy-go-lucky picnic-lunch kind of relationship.

2. Jeff Hanson - Madam Owl
I learned about Jeff Hanson when NPR ran an article about his death. His voice is delicate, very feminine, and it's been my standby depression/comforting/zone out for an hour album ever since I first heard it in June. I usually listen to the entire album in order, but "Night" ""Last Thing I'll Do" and "Nothing Would Matter at All" are all strong by themselves.

I wonder what I can do for a living
Something that makes you all proud
But won't keep me up at night.
If I could go straight to the city
I would run every light
And nothing would matter at all.

1. Fun. - Aim and Ignite
It is so unreasonably difficult to find these guys online. Fun with a period at the end. Poor planning, guys. Anyway, I saw them open up for Hellogoodbye in August with Marble, and we had moved down from the balcony in the Hawthorne theater to the main floor to get close for Hellogoodbye, and they won me over, song after song. They are some incredible synthesis of Queen and ELO and the lead singers unique storytelling/emotion/stopping and starting melodies/catchiness. Amazing. I love nearly the whole album, which is a big deal for me.

Things I Discovered in 2009: Websites

1. Twitter
I don't advocate anyone's use of Twitter but my own. For me, it's the perfect combination of 'things I need to say outloud for the record' and 'things I don't want to bother a specific person about' without the vulnerability of Facebook where everyone from my entire life can see my most recent anxiety attack or third-panda-plural admonishment of myself.

2. Kingdom of Loathing
Resham told me about this pun-filled online game. It's pretty stupid, but it's funny enough that you don't mind having to spend all of your adventures trying to level up, because you can drink alcohol and gain a lot of them back. It was a good way to pass the time. I think I had the most fun naming my familiars: (Polaris Bear the Star Starfish being the best.)

So now i'm a level 16 Accordian Thief and there's some greater thing that I could do, but I think I'm done with it.

3. F My Life
My brother sent me this link the day after a breakup, and it felt so good to be surrounded by misery. Nowadays when I go to the site, it is more of a cringing awkward painful experience, everybody going through so much unholy disgusting trauma, but it's still a better site than GivesMeHope which drowns me in its sappiness.

4. Nerd Boyfriend
Famous smart nerdy guys and the clothes they wore. Some of them are particularly inspired. Makes you think of famous people as normal people, but also eccentric in their fashion choices, or just clearly from another era.

5. Wordnik
I need to loiter around this site a little more, but I have high hopes for it as a progressive innovative online dictionary, because Erin McKean is involved in it, and she wore a dress at TED that I wish I owned, and I wrote to her and she emailed me back. TWICE.

6. The Sartorialist
I wish I was consistently fashionable and lived in a city where this photographer would go. I am so jealous of nearly everyone on this site, they look so awesome like they are going somewhere important, but they did not know at the beginning of the day that this photoshoot might happen.