The One with the Thoughts of Frans

Archive for December, 2009

I Love Spring

This post is recycled, and was originally published on my former weblog on Wednesday 2005-03-16 at 10:13:36. I tweaked some grammar and spelling here and there, but I resisted the urge to rewrite this entry almost entirely. I did not, however, refrain from commenting on myself. Sensitive souls beware: I added some brand new explicit content.

Oh yeah, throw open those doors and windows and let the fresh air dwirl through your house. [Oh yeah! By the way, dwirl is not a word. Twirl is, although I’m not sure if fresh air can twirl. For poetic consistency, I’m going to suggest Allow the spring breeze to enter your house and twirl your papers.] Plants growing leaves, flowers coming up; all those scents and colors, it’s just wonderful. [I wish I was two puppies, so I could play together.] The same applies to autumn, but summer? That’s boring and often too hot. [Word on the hot. Boring depends mostly on what you do with it.] It’s not bad at all, but boring in a way, that’s all. [Bravo! Excellent repetition.] But it’s about the summer nights after all… 😉 [Ew! Gross. Don’t tell me that, keep it to yourself. Dirtbag. Also, just so we’re clear on this: you’re saying that summer days are boring because they are too hot, but summer nights aren’t because they are…hot?]

This reminds me that I want a digital camera someday. [I’ve got two, sucker. One compact and one DSLR. No, you can’t play with them.] I hate (too) limited budgets like mine. [Boo–fucking–hoo. You’ve got bloody 100 Mbit Internet while I’m stuck with a theoretical 8 Mbit which amounts to 6 Mbit in practice. Keep on saving, spend your money responsibly, and perhaps you will own a nice camera or two in 4 years.]

It’s time to finally get in touch with the local library and read some fucking cool books outside! [Fuck that shit. We’re living in the future.]

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Virtual Recycling

Lately, I’ve been sorting out some old digital junk. Not because I’m short on space—I’ve got plenty—, but because some of it simply isn’t worth keeping. Most of the posts on my former weblog fall in this category, but about half a dozen of them I just couldn’t delete. I decided to integrate them with my current weblog.

Initially, I was thinking of just slipping them in at the temporal beginning of the weblog, so they would silently appear in the year 2005. However, while I was investigating how I could make the WordPress 1.5 database compatible with the current WordPress 2.8 database, I changed my mind.

It would be much easier to repost the entries on my current weblog, but that wouldn’t be right if I didn’t do it with a twist. While I was rereading some of the entries, I was thinking things like Were you on fucking crack!? Wouldn’t it be amusing to make fun of the things I wrote back then by actually adding these thoughts to the entries themselves? Additionally, this would justify reposting them as entirely new entries. If nothing else, at least it will be amusing to me. You can expect the first three recycled entries this week, and a few more may follow, but I’m not promising anything.

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My Most Popular Post

I don’t know how people managed to end up on my most popular post (visited 358 times last month), but neither walla nor voila were in the terms people apparently used to reach this site. People did use some puzzling phrases and terms, however, such as my quickfires screen is all wavy and i didn t do anything whats wrong, and swedish babes.

Another “interesting” statistic is the number of spam comments Akismet stopped since I first started using it.

Akismet has protected your site from 47,749 spam comments already, but there’s nothing in your spam queue at the moment.


Space Dino

Late April 2009—I just realized that’s not as long ago as it feels—I drew Space Dino, purely for personal reasons. I wanted to give a shirt as a gift, and I also wanted to wear a shirt with a design by yours truly on it. I put it on PrintFection because if I got one female’s shirt, one dark green male shirt and one white shirt, the white shirt would cost practically nothing. The prices were slightly cheaper back then, as I recall. All three t-shirts I bought—one female, two male—ended up really nice.

T-Shirt Space Dino White Print FrontT-Shirt Space Dino White Print Back

I never posted Space Dino on this weblog, so I figured I should remedy that. After all, it’s the best place to collect some of my thoughts and creations in one place. I also have all of my image files backed up on several hard disks, but that’s almost entirely without context.

space dino very dark green with annoying copyright

This context already gave me a pleasant surprise. As it turns out, I’ve always liked the idea of creatures wearing some kind of space or diving gear. I completely forgot about the fish walking the land I drew over three years ago, but I just ran into it when I was looking through the Drawing category on this very site.

To accompany the “official” release of this drawing, I wrote a little introductory poem. I wanted to experiment with meter, so I started out with a four line iambic pentameter with an abab rhyme scheme. However, that turned out as boring as 12th century poetry. After some revamping, I ended up with something that hopefully isn’t half as bad. So without further ado, I give you the Space Dino poem, which explains the origin of space dinos.

They left their blissful past with ancient earth;
Barely escaped disaster to survive
in outer space; they gave birth
to the space-age dinokind.

Just to annoy you with technicalities, I decided to include a version with the stresses clearly marked.

They left | their bliss | ful past | with an | cient earth;
Barely | escaped | disa | ster to | survive
in ou | ter space; | they gave birth
to the space- | age di | nokind.

I should probably mention that this post was inspired by one of Wil Wheaton’s rants about being creative with barely any risk. If anyone wants to obtain a copy of this shirt, I guess they should banter me by mail or in the comments to this entry. I guess I could always open the PrintFection store again, but since I would want a buck or two of the profits—that’s only fair, right?—and they only hand out American commission checks as far as I can tell, I don’t even know if I could even do anything with that over here.


Fun With Yahoo Pipes and Podcasts

I never really got into the whole podcast fad years ago. The available aggregators annoyed me, the available podcasts seemed generally uninteresting, and I didn’t have an MP3 player. Things change: I’ve had an MP3 player for a couple of years now. However, I only reevaluated my dislike for podcasts quite recently, when I discovered Wil Wheaton’s Memories of the Futurecast. I wanted a way to automate the process of getting it onto my MP3 player, and I found it: gPodder seems to do everything I want without getting in my way. Now I can do a quick sync with my MP3 player in the morning and I’ll have stuff to listen to while, among other things, going to and from the university.

All of that was about a month ago. I’ve only got a small selection of feeds in there so far, but since I’m still catching up on literally months of old material, that’s not an issue as of now. Aside from Wil Wheaton’s, my favorite podcast right now is Stuff You Should Know. But enough about that.

When I was younger, I usually listened to the radio news at 7 or 8 AM while eating breakfast. I have long since switched to doing some quick reading of my e-mails and feeds, but that’s not the ideal way to get a quick update on what’s currently going on. The radio news does a better job of that, but it just feels too much like a waste of time. Cue the podcast. I’ve known that Dutch public radio has had its broadcasts available as podcasts since 2005 or so. Selecting the podcast most relevant to me was easy: Radio Netherlands Worldwide, specifically the Nieuwslijn (news line) program. Of course there are competitors, such as BBC’s Global News and the German ARD Tagesschau, and I may have missed some other potentially interesting sources—which would presumably mostly mean American or Flemish—, but for now I’m sticking with this. Alas, there’s one small problem: there’s a news broadcast just about each two hours. This makes the new episodes available dialog look rather cluttered. I only want to listen to the news once a day.

New episodes available in gPodder

New episodes available in gPodder

That’s where Yahoo Pipes comes in. When I start it, it complains about Opera, but I haven’t been able to discern any difference in functionality between Opera and Firefox on the site. In only a couple of minutes, I have something that only gives me the 8 o’clock news.


If I wanted, I could easily add the BBC and ARD feeds and also strip them to just one item a day. What I can’t do, however, is output the de facto standard <itunes:image href="http://some-picture" /> with the feed. Nevertheless, I can manually link up a picture in gPodder so it doesn’t look strange in the feed display list.

For things more complicated than such simplistic mash-ups, Yahoo Pipe’s graphical programming interface quickly becomes lacking, which is strange considering that it seems to aspire to be more than just a simple mash-up tool. Nevertheless, it certainly makes life a little easier.

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Voiced Velar Fricative Above All

There are three sounds usually represented in writing as g or ch that I can produce.

  1. Voiced velar fricative /ɣ/, as in Dutch gaan, transcribed as [ɣaːn].
  2. Voiceless velar fricative /x/, as in German Kuchen, transcribed as [kuːxən].
  3. Voiceless palatal fricative /ç/, as in German ich, transcribed as [ɪç].

From this list, you might guess that there is also a voiced palatal fricative, and you’d be right. I cannot, however, produce the /ʝ/, which can be seen as the Flemish equivalent to my Dutch /ɣ/.

According to commonly accepted Dutch phonetics, the second g-sound occurs in words like acht, thus transcribed as [ɑxt], and also in words like chaos, thus transcribed as [xaɔs].

For me, this is not the case. I pronounce all of my words with the voiced velar fricative. It’s definitely true that not all people do this: in the east of the Netherlands, where I lived for a few years, most local people thought the way I pronounce my gs at the end of words sounds aggressive merely because they employ a slightly different g, the /x/, in final positions. They may utilize it in certain other positions as well, but I’m fairly sure they do no such thing in a word like chaos. I may be wrong, though.

I decided to investigate this further, and I think I may have found a possible explanation.

  • If I force myself to pronounce echt with a clearly pronounced /t/, I do indeed find myself slightly more likely to use the /x/, although by no means as any kind of constant. This may very well be affected by my knowledge that it is more or less supposed to be this way, however, and I’m not sure if I would normally have done this at all.
  • In normal usage, however, I’m more likely to either drop the /t/ or to come really close to dropping it, thus rendering echt waar into /ɛɣʋar/. I postulate that this might aid to preserve the /ɣ/ in my speech, at the possible expense of other phonemes that might weaken it.
  • Nevertheless, I fully retain the /ɣ/ in acht, and also in things like acht gulden.
  • As far as I can tell, Utrecht (or sometimes pronounced as Utrech), [ˈʏtrɛx(t)], is the only word in which the /x/ is actually established in my speech. I wonder if living there for a year might have affected my pronunciation of the name of the city, while leaving the rest of my speech unscathed, or if I’ve always pronounced it that way.

This unscientific analysis would not be complete if I didn’t add that some words, such as Michiel, and vliegje are pronounced with the /ç/. In other words, [mɪçil] and [vliçjə]. As far as I know any Dutch speaker will pronounce these words the same, though as should be obvious due to the very reason I’m writing all of this, I may be wrong.

In conclusion, save for an almost negligible number of exceptions, I pronounce each and every g or ch that is not pronounced as /ç/ as /ɣ/.


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