Thursday, February 28, 2008

A family legend, a national mystery, a bullshit confession?

Another long-drafted post, and a bit of weird family history...

(Full-sized version available here.)

Preface: According to Wikipedia, Charley Ross, born Charles Brewster Ross in 1870, was the primary victim of the first kidnapping for ransom in America to receive widespread attention from the media.

(Another account of Charlie Ross can be found here.)

Jump to 2000: In a set of old family photos I received when my grandmother died in 2000 was a photo with this handwritten on the reverse (I believe the writer is my aunt, which is why in the note my grandmother is referred to as "Mom"):

Grace Van Fleet
daughter of
Mrs. Ruth Van Fleet
who stayed in our house.

    Grace died young at the White Haven
Sanitarium from tuberculosis. She +
Mrs Van Fleet + her murderer husband are
all buried in the White Haven Cemetery.
    Mrs Van Fleet + her daughter left Ruth's
husband in New Jersey or West Chester (in the Phila. area)+ came here to live.
    When Ruth's husband was dying
he came + found her in White Haven
(where she had moved to be near her daughter)
+ confessed to the murder of young Charlie
Ross on his death bed. Ruth gave him a proper
    Ruth came to live with Mom [my grandmother] in 1937 + stayed
until Feb. or March 1943 when she died here
at [my grandmother's home in Hazleton PA]. On her death bed she
confessed to Mom [my grandmother] that her husband had
admitted to the killing of Charlie Ross before he

According to the Wikipedia article, "The fate of Charley Ross remains unknown".

So, while it's most likely bullshit, I can't figure why a dood on his deathbed would confess to a famous kidnapping. You hear of the nuts who confess to things they didn't do while still alive and healthy. They're just attention seekers (and nuts). Buy why confess to something you didn't do when you're near death and can't "enjoy" the fame/infamy?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

iTunes license agreement

Another of my ancient, random posts. Not sure where I found this, but I don't think it was from one of the usual sites (Slashdot, BoingBoing, etc). I think I actually found it on my own (tho is had apparently been pretty widely reported before I found it).


So it would seem that using iTunes to manufacture a missile or nuke is verboten. Shit. *Now* what am I supposed to use??

"10. Export Control. You may not use or otherwise export or reexport the Apple Software except as authorized by United States law and the laws of the jurisdiction in which the Apple Software was obtained. In particular, but without limitation, the Apple Software may not be exported or re-exported (a) into any U.S. embargoed countries or (b) to anyone on the U.S. Treasury Department's list of Specially Designated Nationals or the U.S. Department of Commerce Denied Person’s List or Entity List. By using the Apple Software, you represent and warrant that you are not located in any such country or on any such list. You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of missiles, or nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

PDF link to full Terms.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ball of confusion?

(Here's another oldie from the black hole that is my "Drafts" folder).

OK, grammar lesson 101, people: Sentences do not automatically call for a question mark just because you're confused. Examples (from a couple of serial offenders at the office):

"My printer is not working.....the drum light keeps coming on, but the status is green?"

"I'm not certain, but hopefully there's a generic one from before?"

"I'm looking into buying a Digital Camera…I'm not sure where to start?"

"I'm guessing with Black Friday coming, maybe I could look for a deal, I just don't know what type or model is good?"

"I think someone accidently[sic] hit the alarm in the elevator, although it's funny that Jane heard it?"

"Just wanted to forward this question to you?"

"Is there another time you would be able to help me? Since I cannot attend?" (Oh! so close!).

"Let me know if you need me for anything?"

"I need to access some art files for [company website] which should be on the [company name] server????"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Apparently breaking up really is hard to do.

So here's an old-ass post that's been buried in my "Drafts" folder for months. I was gonna delete it, but I like the thought I put into determining the casket size (in last season's finale of 'Lost'), so I figured I'd post it. I have other, old, still barely relevant posts which I may throw on the blog to fill time until I get around to spewing something more meaningful (er...more meaningful for this blog, at least).

--Begin WayBack Machine---

So, you remember a month or two ago when I went on about the wife and I breaking up with "our formerly-one-and-only "must see" TV show, "Lost"? Yeah? Well...we've decided to take her (er...him?) back.

According to a number of friends, we broke up the episode before the series pulled itself together. After a couple of purchases on iTunes, we were able to catch up. After that, we watched the remainder of the season on ye ole' DVR.

And I wholeheartedly agree with the friends who said we left at the exact wrong time. The remainder of the season was pretty great. Much better than the first half (IMHO).

Anyway, I write this not as a review of the show or season, but as an analysis of one aspect of it. At one point, Jack, the doctor character, is shown standing over a casket at a funeral home. The mysterious inhabitant of the casket is not made known. In the world of the online Lost-nerds, there is much speculation as to who it is. I (being a Lost-nerd, again), thought the casket looked smaller than average. There are those who share this opinion, and those who don't. Thinking about it a bit, I *think* I have a way to estimate the size of the casket, providing a possible clue to its owner.

Using a screencap of the scene from the Lost Easter Eggs blog

I measured the width of Jack's hand (in pixels):

Hand: 36 pixels wide

and the width of the casket (also in pixels) along roughly the center of its' parallelogram shape (due to weird camera angle):

Casket: 392 pixels wide

Divide the width of the casket by the width of the hand, and you
should get how many "hands" wide the casket is:

392 / 36 = 10.8888

So the casket is 10.8888 x the width of the hand.

Width of my hand as spread out the same way jack's hand is in the image: 6 inches

Assuming my hand is the roughly the same width as jacks (in reality, me being 6'6", my hand may well be larger than Jack's, which would make the casket even smaller than my numbers indicate) multiply the width of my hand (6") by the number of "hands" wide the casket is (10.8888) should give us the width of the casket in inches:

6 x 10.8888 = 65.3328 inches

Divide by 12 to get the width in feet:

65.3328 / 12 = 5.4444 feet wide

Small casket.

Small casket = small body.