Making a move

It's been a great year here at Wrong Side, but it's time for something new and different. Come visit me over at Malaland.

I'm keeping this site live because I can't figure out how to move the archives from Blogger to Typepad and don't want to lose this last year (yes, I'm an accident waiting to happen).

If someone out there knows how to transfer the files, email me at malaland at yahoo dot com.


Edible art by M&Ms

What can I say .... it's Friday.

You learn something new everyday

Just in from the Institute of Physics:

Scientists calculate how high heels can go

Sex and the City stars stay upright because h = Q.(12+3s/8) say scientists.

As Sex and the City's Carrie finally wanders off the UK's television screens, physicists at the Institute of Physics (London, UK) have devised a formula that high-heel fans can use to work out just how high they can go. Based on your shoe size, the formula tells you the maximum height of heel you can wear without toppling over or suffering agonies.

h = Q•(12+3s /8)

h is the maximum height of the heel (in cm)
Q is a sociological factor and has a value between 0 and 1 (see below to work this out)
S is the shoe size (UK ladies sizes). This factor makes sure that the base of support is just good enough for an experienced and sober, high-heel wearer not to fall over.

"Although at first glance our formula looks scary" said Dr Paul Stevenson of the University of Surrey who carried out the research for the Institute, "It's actually pretty simple as it's based on the science you learnt at school and which you never thought you would use in real life, in this case Pythagoras' theorem 1 Applying this to shoes can tell us just how high the heel of the foot can be lifted above the ground."

Dr Stevenson went on to describe how 'Q' – the essential sociological factor had been worked out.

"Essentially this part of the formula explains what women have always known – that you don't buy shoes just because they are comfortable, you can afford them and they look good – many other variables come into play"

'Q' is defined as follows:

Q = ----------------------------------

The variables are:

p – the probability that wearing the shoes will help you 'pull' (in a range from 0 to 1, where 1 is pwhooar and 0 is stick to carpet slippers). If the shoes are a turn-off, there's no point wearing them.

y – the number of years experience you have in wearing high heels. As you become more adept, you can wear a higher heel. Beginners should take it easy.

L – the cost of the shoes, in pounds. Clearly, if the shoe is particularly expensive, you can put up with a higher heel.

t – the time since the shoe was the height of fashion, in months (0 = it's the 'in thing' right now!). One has to suffer for one's art, and if the shoes are terribly fashionable, you should be prepared to put up with a little pain.

A – units of alcohol consumed. If you're planning on drinking, be careful to give yourself a little leeway for reduced coordination.

So using this formula, if Carrie Bradshaw, who is an experienced high-heel wearer (let's guess at 5 years experience) wears her latest drop-dead gorgeous designer originals when sober, she can cope with a heel height of a staggering 12.5 centimetres (just over 5 inches) [See footnote 2]. However, if she over-indulges in cocktails, the 'safe' heel height (and perhaps also Carrie) plummets. Using the same example as above, if she consumes 6 units of alcohol she would be better advised to stick to shoes with only 2cm heels. [See footnote 3].

Laura Grant, a physicist from Liverpool University welcomes the Institute's new formula commenting, "many of my physicist colleagues have no trouble understanding quantum mechanics but can't figure out how women can wear high heels. Now I can explain to them how I minimise the probability of tripping up".

The Institute of Physics has more fascinating facts on the physics of shoes, including high heels. Just type 'high heeled shoes' into the enquiry box.


1 Pythagoras' theorem: In a right-angled triangle the square of the hypotenuse (longest side) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.

2 In this example, shoe size (s) is 6
p = 1, y = 5, L = £300, t = 0, A = 0 giving a Q factor of 0.88
so heel height is 12.54 cm

3 As above but with A (alcohol) = 6, Q factor falls to 0.15, giving a heel height of 2.01cm


Nothing like a long walk

People have taken to the streets of DC. Every cab is packed with two or more passengers. Figures on the one day I'm running late for work, there's a fire on the red line. So I walked.

I used to walk to work all the time, but this last year I've taken the metro. I'm turning into a wuss.

How do you get to work?



Isaura writes me monthly. I immediately recognize her familiar scrawl on envelopes crushed between issues of the New Yorker and Vanity Fair. Sometimes a card flits out and a sober saint will stare up at me off the hardwood floor. Other times I'll find a $10 bill carefully folded in the note. Always her correspondence conveys news of my parents or brothers or distant cousins.

When we speak, the conversation never alters. She asks me how I'm doing. We quickly move on to work. Then she provides an update about her day and news of our relatives. She worries about how much my long distance charges cost. I inform her that the call is free, but she doesn't understand calling plans that provide unlimited minutes after 8:00 p.m. As we say goodnight, her voice thickens with emotion.

I don't phone her enough, although I think of her often. I'm Isaura's only granddaughter.

Today is her 80th birthday. My last surving grandparent is a fount of valuable information - stories of growing up in the Azores, recipes to exotic Portuguese meals, the answer to the confusing maze of our family tree.

When I call later today, I'll dig through the treasure of her memory and encourage a story about a place long gone and its people long past.


8 Ball

I wish I had the ability to predict the future by asking the right questions.

Hot off the Presses

Courtesy of TheHill.com tipsheet

The silent treatment

Now that a majority of the Senate went on record supporting the federal assault weapons ban, the focus turns to what House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) will do.

So far, the Speaker has punted to President Bush, who supports extending the ban, but has not publicly called on Congress to act. Hastert aides have suggested that unless Bush does so, there will be no vote on the floor before the 10-year ban expires in September.

Bush is seeking the coveted endorsement of the National Rifle Association (NRA), which declined to endorse then-GOP presidential hopeful Bob Dole in 1996. The NRA stayed neutral in 1996 because of Dole’s shifting stance on the assault weapons ban. Extending the ban may work politically with independent voters, but Bush seems more interested in keeping his conservative base intact.

Look for Bush to secure the NRA’s endorsement by remaining silent on the assault weapons ban.

Luck of the Irish

What is it about emails that promise financial windfalls that convert reasonable people into morons?

The Irish Friendship Wish has been forwarded to me 11 times already today. And out of those 11 people, only one is an idiot. Truly.

How do these messages permeate cyberspace? WHY do people insist on forwarding these messages? It's a nightmare.

I remember the microsoft email hoax... and the Disneyworld win-a-free-trip message .... and countless others.

Please stop forwarding these chain letters. At the rate I'm going, I'm already guaranteed bad luck for the next 11 years.


Like a kid in a candy store

I was up til 1:00 a.m. playing with my new toy... ahem, I mean laptop. I downloaded songs off of my favorite albums and burned a few CDs.

I know how I'll be spending most of my time this weekend.

This is going to seem like a really stupid question but:
Why can I listen to the music off my Cd-rom at work, but it won't play on my Discman?

I know there's an obvious answer to this question - either I'm saving the music files with the wrong program or bought the wrong type of CD-R.... but if someone can help, I'll be eternally grateful.

The other day, Jules wrote the greatest post about music. How true she is....

There are specific tunes that cause physical reactions in the listener. And sometimes it isn't a hip song, or a cool band, but something like "Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry.

Who needs a photo album or image gallery when you can have a song?

Word of the day

Apocryphal adj. 1. Of doubtful authorship or authenticity 2. not genuine; spurious; counterfeit.

I've been under the misconception that the word apocryphal had something to do with the apocalypse (noun: any of Jewish and Christian pseudonymous writings depicting symbolically the ultimate destruction of evil and triumph of good; Specifically the Book of Revelation.) Don't know why aside from the "apoc" start.

These last few days especially, I've felt like a poor imitation of... well.... something... can't quite put my finger on it, but apocryphal seems fitting.

Isn't it funny how, when you're desperately searching for a way to describe something, the perfect word will pop up out of the blue?

My love affair with words began when I heard apropos (adv: at the right time; by the way; used to introduce a remark OR adj: fitting the occasion; relevant; apt) for the first time. The silent "S" thrilled me (yes, I was, and to some extent still am, a geek!). Could any other word ever be as fun to say? Would any other look as lovely?

I've since been enamored by many others. Another favorite is the Portuguese word "saudade" - a word without an exact English translation, but could mean to miss; to pine for; to be sentimental or nostalgic; fate.

Saudade - a beautiful word... such a puny group of letters to embrace a world of meaning.

What's your word-of-the-day? Do you have a favorite word - either because of its meaning or sound?


Cable vs. DSL

So I finally stepped into the 21st century. I bought a new laptop and am ready to go wireless.

So here's the big question - do I order Cable Hi-Speed Internet OR DSL?

What do you use? Which do you prefer? What do you recommend?


Things some people do at 2:00 a.m.

This morning, I woke up and groaned, loudly, when it hit me that:
1. I was going to be an hour late for work.
2. I neglected to eat anything last night.
3. I made a date with a random guy I met out at a bar to go see The Passion of Christ (so wrong on too many levels to count).

For 30 seconds of blissful ignorance I was too disoriented to remember that I'd even gone out the previous night.

I tried hard to figure out how I overslept. Did the three alarms not go off? Nope, that's not it - I vaguely recalled slamming my cellphone against the night stand to stop the beeping. Did my subconscious think it was Saturday? No, that's not right either. Was I too tired to care? Yep, I think that's the culprit.

I plodded to the bathroom, and slowly, painfully, accepted the flashbacks of conversations I'd had, and people I'd met, and drinks I'd drunk. Fifteen minutes later, standing in the shower, I felt an urge to pound my head against the yellow tiles lining the walls.

I really am getting too old to get away with rip roaring drunk behavior.

(winces as another snippet pops to mind)

How can something that causes so much fun and joy in the moment, bring on so much regret the next day? And how do I get out of this date without coming across as a total bitch?