I’ve solved my iPod problem

A while back, I wrote about some annoying behavior with iTunes regarding podcasts. I’ve worked around that problem by adding my podcasts to playlists and syncing them as playlists instead of via the Podcasts sync screen.
This means that syncing podcasts to my iPod is not as automatic as it was before, but I don’t mind managing a couple of playlists by hand. It also solves another minor problem: a couple of the podcasts that I subscribe to consist of very short recordings. I can listen to several of those during one commute. The problem is that if I play them via the Podcasts menu on my iPod, at the end of each one, I have to navigate from the top level menu back down to the podcast and play the next one. Not a great idea when I’m driving at 70 mph. But, if I add all of them to a playlist and play that, my iPod will just play one podcast after another.
Update January 11, 2007: Please see Apple’s intended solution to this problem.

The middle of everywhere

At the beginning of the month, I blogged about Austin’s new toll expressways and their effect on my commute. Now that we’ve lived with them for almost a month, I’m having other thoughts.
Pflugerville has long been one of Austin’s lesser known suburbs, and our subdivision is on the outskirts of Pflugerville. Now, all of a sudden, we have two expressways leading directly to Pflugerville, and more precisely, to our neighborhood’s front door. A month ago, we would have been loath to go into Austin, or even nearby Round Rock, without a really good reason. Now, Round Rock has the closest shopping and running into Austin is largely not a big deal.
On top of all this is the feeling of impending doom development. Since we’re at the intersection of two freeways, I think our area is about to become the new retail hub. In a couple of years, it will look nothing like it does today. Strange.

Reclaiming my evenings

I’ve had a very predictable evening routine for the last several years. After dinner, get Samuel ready for bed. Then, at around 8:30 or so, I spent an hour or more on his second bed, usually with my laptop, because he would only go to sleep with someone in the room with him. After 60-90 minutes, when I was sure he was sound asleep, I’d slip out, maybe watch TV for 30 minutes and then retire myself at 10 p.m. or a little later.
A couple of months ago, we finally sought help on Samuel’s sleep problems (the bedtime routine and the fact that he rarely stayed in his room the full night). Over the last few weeks, he started to sleep all night in his bed, but he was still resistant to going to sleep alone. He wanted to do so, but was still afraid. Then, week before last at bedtime, Katie asked him again, and this time he said that he would try it. He’s gone to bed by himself almost every night since! He spent two nights over Thanksgiving weekend with his Uncle Jim, and he slept by himself in the gust room there. That was a very big accomplishment.
So, now I have my evenings again. Since Katie usually goes to sleep by 9:00 or so, it’s nice to have time again with her again. But in addition to that, I have time to myself to do whatever I want. I’m still adjusting. So far, I’ve watched quite a bit of TV. But now that I’m getting tired of TV, I’m starting to pick up my former activities: I’ve been thinking about getting my needlepoint out again and I’m thinking about some personal programming projects.

Quote of the day

From an IM conversation with a friend whose son is about 3 years old now:

Friend: My plan is to get him playing Dungeons and Dragons when he turns 10. That way we can guarantee that we won’t have any girl problems until after he’s 18.
Me: That plan worked out for you, didn’t it?

The demise of the ‘bus plunge’ news story

Slate writer Jack Shafer notes that “As recently as 1980, the New York Times reserved an honored—if small—place in its pages for “bus plunge” news. Whenever buses nose-dived down mountainsides…the news wires moved accounts of the deadly tragedies, and the Times would reliably edit them down to one paragraph and publish.” In more recent times, however, the Times has been virtually free of bus plunge news.
The reason: the move from manual to digital typesettings. In the manual days, such short news items were used to fill in remaining space in columns. Nowadays, that’s not necessary. Most interesting is that many such items were written in such a way that they could be shortened even further due to space needs:

This Times plunge story, for example, filled the loose space at the end of a news column on July 21, 1964:

Bus Plunge Kills 8
LAS PALMAS, Canary Islands, July 20 (UPI)—Eight persons perished today when a small bus plunged over a 300-foot cliff into the sea near the town of Mogan. One man jumped from the vehicle before it reached the edge and was saved. All the victims were Spaniards.

As typeset, this article takes up 10 lines. I assume that the copy editor who cut this piece from the AP wire included the sentences about the jumper and the victims’ nationality to maximize the makeup editors’ options. By physically snipping one sentence, the makeup editors could reduce it to a nine-line story on the fly. By snipping two, they could cork an even smaller layout hole with a six-line story.

On a related note, I can’t get the Bobs’ song Bus Plunge out of my head now.
(via Rafe Colburn)
UPDATE: This made it onto MeFi after I blogged about it. Mildly interesting thread.

Your Uncle’s Third Nipple

When the issue of evolution comes up, I always say that I think a God who can set evolution in motion is much more impressive than one who can just zap everything into existence as is.
Well, once again, Gordon Atkinson expresses my beliefs but in a much more elegant way than I ever could. Go read his new essay Your Uncle’s Third Nipple.