>> >> journal
chocolate martini

This is my 2003 journal.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug

Also available: 2002 2001 2000 1990s 1980s

Everything on this page:
Copyright 1985-2003 by Thane Plambeck, except where obviously not.
31 January 2003
The Talisman: IQ Zoo

A mysterious token [front] [back] that I found at a garage sale.

If it doesn't have magical powers, I can't imagine what would.

29 January 2003
The Tech Downturn

In Dublin, Ohio, this.

On Twin Dolphin Drive in Silicon Valley, this.

25 January 2003
The key of B—or perhaps G#

Five sharps, each one of them critically important to the beauty of the universe, as Schubert proves (in a mere twenty measures) in the third movement of piano Sonata D.894 (the trio—molto ligato, please).

It's hardly a just universe that permits a mortal piano hack to play music like that. I feel like I'm pissing on God when I screw it up.

Five sharps

Looks like I marked all four movements as "playable" in the spreadsheet (or scroll down a bit on this page).

23 January 2003
Gauss as a Ph.D. advisor

Content copied from

Two of Gauss's last doctoral students were Moritz Cantor and Dedekind. Dedekind wrote a fine description of his supervisor
... usually he sat in a comfortable attitude, looking down, slightly stooped, with hands folded above his lap. He spoke quite freely, very clearly, simply and plainly: but when he wanted to emphasise a new viewpoint ... then he lifted his head, turned to one of those sitting next to him, and gazed at him with his beautiful, penetrating blue eyes during the emphatic speech. ... If he proceeded from an explanation of principles to the development of mathematical formulas, then he got up, and in a stately very upright posture he wrote on a blackboard beside him in his peculiarly beautiful handwriting: he always succeeded through economy and deliberate arrangement in making do with a rather small space. For numerical examples, on whose careful completion he placed special value, he brought along the requisite data on little slips of paper.

21 Jan 2003
The Tech Downturn

An anonymous out-of-work friend in Silicon Valley writes:
I have been through a couple of recruiters and have made some progress there. But there just are not many opportunities. I'm working every angle I know, and have contacted over 1,000 companies and recruiters. I came in 3rd (out of 120) in a high profile search for an Oakland based software company in December, but lost out to a guy who had taken a company from $600k to $60M. Couldn't fault the search team for that.
I replied:
1,000 companies! That is amazing and scary. I would like to see more of the bogus companies die more quickly (they seem to linger much more long than is necessary or desireable, and thereby slowing the 'recovery' in my opinion). I guess when you're a VC and have sunk millions into many different companies, it's hard to accept that (in many cases) each and every one of those companies is bogus. Instead the VC "consolidate" around one bogus company, and let it linger. I could name 50 companies, founded in the boom time yet that I'm sure will die or alternatively have to change radically to survive, and it is early 2003, a good two years after a reasonable outsider—such as myself (ahem!)—can judge the company to be stupid.

It's a good time to start a company I think, on a low budget. Of course that doesn't pay bills.

21 Jan 2003
Beethoven Prefigured: Finale, Haydn Symphony 70 (1778)

[It] is truly a tour-de-force. Its main theme is based on a single repeated note motif: the advantage of this is that it can be used not only as a melodic fragment, but also as an accompaniment figure and as a fugal 'tag' (the logical conclusion of this is the Scherzo of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony—since the notes are all the same, even the drums can play the figure). And this is exactly what Haydn does with it. After a short homophonic introduction, the 'tag' becomes one of the subjects in a remarkable triple fugue with the repeated notes being deployed in all permuations...
David A. Threaser, notes to Adam Fischer Haydn Symphony recordings, Vol 5, Nimbus Records (2000) [MP3] (2.91 Mb)

20 Jan 2003
Owen Sledding at Goat Meadow, near the Mariposa Grove

16 Jan 2003
Emerson String Quartet

emerson string quartet

shostakovich (1953)
To: Ray Jones
From: Thane Plambeck
Subject: Emerson String Quartet

I just got back from seeing them at Stanford.

Beethoven #1, Shostakovich #8, Mendelssohn #2.

They were amazing on the Shostakovich. Why they bother to play stuff like Beethoven #1 amazes me. A 'training exercise' in my opinion, much like the current activities of the Coldstream Guards in Iraq or whatever you call your elite military units in the UK. It's so nice to have other nations implicated in the nefarious "leadership" of THE SHRUB. You get the ricin. When Tariq Aziz holds the war crime trials in Bristol or Pittsburgh or wherever, you will want to emigrate back to Llandudno.

They play standing up, the Emerson Quartet (except for the cello, yes). It's so clear that they enjoy the S. so much more than the B. or the M.

What ho. I've had a bit too much champagne here. Did I even spell Llandudno correctly?


Tariq Aziz
To: Thane Plambeck
From: Ray Jones
Subject: Re: Emerson String Quartet

You did, I might and I can't picture your quaffing champagne. What is "The Shrub"? I have to say that ricin sounds like an undesireable herb which is absent from organic tea. Tariq Aziz looks like everybody's favourite grandfather and I am pleased that your President and inspired Leader is learning to say "Weapons of mass destruction" is a rather more fluent fashion. The entire British Cabinet have regular elocution lessons to help them with the press interviews. I nearly stood to attention when the film of the Arc Royal, sailing out of Portsmouth harbour, glided across our television screens over the weekend. How proud I feel to be British.

Of course Shostakovich is great, but maybe you should read the book by Solomon Volkov and which is a kind of unauthorised biography. Mendelssohn too, in his own way, was a remarkable man (and a great favourite of Queen Victoria) and his music is not to be looked down on. His quartets certainly deserve more hearing than they usually get. So don't forget the M in S and M.


Arc Royal

14 Jan 2003
A 2nd Grade Homework Exercise

Read this poem. The spelling words are underlined.
I'd rather meet
The wicked queen
With a screen
In between.
Choose some of the other spelling words. Use them to write a short poem. It can be two, three, or four lines.

Cole wrote:
The Tree Down the Street

I feel that the tree
Down the street
Has very long feet.
That makes him free.

13 Jan 2003
Hush Now, Don't Explain (1954)

Helen Merrill and Clifford Brown
Release Date: 01/01/1955
Original Release Date: 12/22/1954

Also available on CD 8 of Clifford Brown, Brownie.

13 Jan 2003
Continuing Studies

A photo of my neighbor, the physicist Leonard Susskind, lecturing this evening on the double slit experiment in a night class on Quantum Mechanics at Stanford.

More on Susskind [Jan 2002]

12 Jan 2003
Idiot's Guide to the Schubert Piano Sonatas

I made a spreadsheet (PDF) that shows, for each Schubert Sonata:
1) Opus Number
2) Key
3) Date Composed
4) Date Published
5) CD/Track number in the (7 CD) Kempff recordings
6) Volume/Page number in the (three volume) Henle Urtext,

and most importantly

7) Whether a particular Sonata movement is "easy" to play. If I've filled in the score direction and page number (in parentheses) of a particular movement—for example, the "Scherzo (55)" in the third movement of the B major D575—it is supposed to be easier. If I leave it blank, it's because I think it's either too hard, or not worth it.
The idea here is that you can listen to a Sonata, find its music, and/or locate which ones are easier to play, all in a few moments.

For example, using the spreadsheet, you can see that I don't think any of the movements in the D784 (A minor) are easy to play, while in that in D958, movements 2, 3, and 4 (Adagio, Allegro, and Adagio) are supposed to be easier to play.

The little exclamation points draw attention to parts that I think are particularly nice to try.

11 Jan 2003
Weapons of Mass Spamming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military has begun an e-mail campaign urging military and civilian leaders in Iraq to turn away from President Saddam Hussein as the Pentagon builds forces for a possible invasion of the country, defense officials said on Saturday. Visitors to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, confirmed the electronic mail campaign, part of a psychological war mounted by elite U.S. Special Operations who also have been broadcasting messages from planes over the past month...
To: Undisclosed Iraqi Recipients




Well...that all depends...

I am George Bush.

Not long ago, I sort of “stumbled” into the Network Marketing Industry. At the time I was restless and searching for SOMETHING but had no idea what. I had a good paying, full time job in an industry I loved, had never considered myself career-minded, was NOT looking for a Business Opportunity and CERTAINLY not Network marketing.

However, that all changed when a friend introduced me to a product that had helped her BATTLE CHRONIC FATIGUE. Well...THAT got my attention! So I “joined” my first company with basically no expectations and no aspirations other than to take some vitamins that would make me healthier, hang out with positive people and maybe make a couple hundred extra dollars a month. That’s was about the size of my dreams! That was just over two short years ago.

Well, one thing led to another and here I am, the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

Friend, this is not another Multi-level Marketing message. I've taken that product for battling chronic fatigue, and have changed it only slightly. WHAT DID I GET?

CHRONIC BATTLING IN FATIGUES! That's it! It *is* that simple. And I'll bring it to your neighborhood, with your help.

Before we go any further, I would like to ask you a question: If you continue doing what you're doing for the next 5 years, where will you be? Give the above question some serious thought. Now ask yourself these two questions: Am I ready to change my life forever? And… Am I ready to commit myself 100% to being a success in MLM? With all my heart, I sincerely hope you said an ENTHUSIASTIC "YES" to both of these questions!

MLM MILLIONAIRES realize that they're in the "sorting" business and not in the "convincing" business. All the great MLM marketers preach this secret, yet so few people listen to these MLM MILLIONAIRE Masters. Nothing frustrates me more than seeing some poor MLM MILLIONAIRE "want-a-be" spending all their time and energy on trying to convince those who aren't "ready" for the great riches then can be found in MLM.

Don't waste your time and energy on these people. Let's face it, everyone can't be visionaries like us. Take my friends in the United Nations and other countries. I love them both dearly, but they just don't get it; even in spite of my all MY SUCCESS.

Friends, here is what one man had to say:

"During the workshop, I suddenly had a personal revelation about how much of my energy and time gets siphoned off by activities that do not advance me towards achieving my dream of living in an Iraq without Saddam Hussein. I could then see the large numbers of western oil company executives that are our nation's true destiny. I came away far more committed to achieving what I really want....I have found it much easier to say no to things which do not advance my major goals. I am getting more accomplished - and really nurturing my relationships with my peers."

- Assan el-Aziz, Basrah
Friend, this matter is urgent. We can only accept "partners" in this venture for a limited time, and after our goals are achieved, for you, it may be TOO LATE!

DO NOT delay!

9 Jan 2003
Tech Day I: Sly Cooper & Grand Theft Auto

Bruce Oberg slyly bought and installed a Sony Playstation at our San Francisco loft space when he stayed there in December. I only discovered it this morning. He also left us copies of his company's game, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, and also Grand Theft Auto III.

I think I probably set a record for the longest duration to completion of the initial theft of the file from the office in Sly Cooper (I spent most of the time bedazzled by the control and its many buttons). But after I successfully landed on the first TV antenna I knew I was on to the right track.

In Grand Theft Auto, I tried to steal a pickup but ended up spread eagled on the ground by a police officer moments later, ending this first foray into the world of "Cops" somewhat abruptly. As the "game over" message appeared, it occurred to me that I could have at least tried to run away. Instead I waited to talk to the officer, and that was it. I did at least run over a couple of people on the sidewalk.

I went to the Metreon later in this morning and asked the first guy there "what is the best Playstation game for kids?" He immediately said "this one," turned around, and handed me a copy of Sly Cooper!

So I had to say, OK, *besides* that one...

9 Jan 2003
TechDay II: New Digital Camera

While at the Metreon, I couldn't resist buying a new digital camera, a Sony DSC-P9. Jim Hsu and I opened the box in his office at the San Francisco Symphony (Davies Hall), then he charged the battery for me as I listened to Liszt, Schnittke, and Schumann upstairs.

When I got back, the camera was ready to take its first picture.

That's Jim peeking out at the bottom. It's not Schnittke in the foreground, although I think there may be a certain resemblance.

Note added 14 Jan 2002: Jim pointed out that this page is up on his computer screen in the photo. With Jim on the far right.

Note added 15 Jan 2002: Come to think of it, Jim does have a certain way of hovering at the perimeter of photographs (Bacar Restaurant, San Francisco).

9 January 2003
Tech Day III: MPEG shot by Sony DSC-P9

The new digital camera takes MPEG format movies at low resolution.

The answer to the question posed here is "Yes".

7 Jan 2003
2002 Christmas Card

Here. Sorry it's so late.

1 Jan 2003
Jacque Deerr-Lord's Bobwatch

Keep Out
Quicktime (915 kb)
US Dept of Interior, Dept of Surface Mining

On Sunday, 27 October 2002, Bob Lord, a 37 year-old Palo Alto software entrepeneur and Caltech graduate, fell 30+ feet down a abandoned mine shaft near Jean, Nevada, about 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas.

He was searching for a clue in The Game, a yearly high-tech treasure hunt of sorts that is organized by current and former employees of Microsoft Corporation. I've competed in it a couple of times—although not in 2002—on the "Purple" team. Bob was competing on the "Plaid" team at the time of the accident. He was rescued from the mineshaft and airlifted to a hospital in Las Vegas.

Bob's wife, Jacque Deerr-Lord, started sending daily updates on Bob's condition to an email list called Bobwatch. She chronicled the aftermath of this awful accident over the next two months.

I've copied over the Bobwatch email archive to this web site. I think Jacque's writing is absolutely gripping, although it is not for the faint of heart.

Bobwatch Archive:
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002