Prince, underwear, and heraldry #socs

This past week, I saw an article that said Pantone and Prince’s estate had come up with a standardized custom color to “represent and honor” The Late Artist Formerly Known As Prince, represented by his “Love Symbol #2” and chosen to match the piano he was going to take with him on tour before he died.

If, as I was, you’re curious, the CSS color code is #553A63.

Prince Purple!

Mary and I have an expression whenever we do something like cleaning the stove or walking: we say we’re wearing our “panties of righteousness.” Example: I just mowed the lawn, so I’m wearing my panties of righteousness!

Wikipedia tells us that, in heraldry, a beast rampant is depicted in profile reared up on its himd legs, and applies to carnivorous beasts, like the lion. Forcené is the word used when it’s a horse or unicorn, and segreant applies to griffins and dragons. Heraldry can be really cool, y’know?

Congratulations once again to J-Dub of J-Dub’s Grin and Bear It who designed the SoCS badge for 2017-2018!

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word from our sponsors.

The Fourth Annual #SoCS Badge Contest: My Entry

I see that it’s time again to choose a new badge for Stream of Consciousness Saturday. As you know, I designed the badge that was used this past year.


You can vote for it again this year, and I would be honored if it was chosen again, but really, it’s someone else’s turn. Give all the badges a look and vote this Thursday for the one you like best. Best of luck to everyone who designs a badge!

Easy To Remember, Hard To Guess #socs

Guess what I learned this week?

Back in 2003, a manager for the National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST) named Bill Burr wrote a document on password complexity, and how an ideal password was twelve characters or longer and consisted of random combinations of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. In other words, a password like E51p”oDsf;r+Dy6s was ideal, because it was longer than twelve characters and contained a mix of all four of the things you can find on a keyboard. That’s a secure password, because it would take years for a hacker to figure it out, somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000 centuries. Problem is, it’s also difficult for you to remember. Password managers like LastPass can keep track of them and, if you’re lucky, plug them in to all the apps you have on your smart devices. If you aren’t lucky, you can still copy and paste the password from the password manager, usually, but there are times when an app won’t allow you to paste a password, and other times when you’re setting up a new device and the password manager isn’t installed on it, so you bring it up on one device and type it in.

Anyway, Bill, who’s now retired and has had time to think about it, gave The Wall Street Journal an interview and said that the rules he set down in that document were too complex and that the benefit of having a long password of random characters came at the cost of a user not being able to remember it. (The full article is hidden behind the WSJ‘s paywall; if you don’t subscribe, there’s a good summary here.)

Instead, Bill now suggests that users use a passphrase made up of random words, such as serious milly hiding thursday or ceiling kitten watching purple monster, something that would be easier to remember and which still provides the security that the long strings of random characters would. You can throw in numbers, uppercase letters, punctuation, and symbols, like television Headphone hi62823 zipper, honestly as well. Mark, my friend from high school who comments here frequently, says it also helps to use jargon from your job or hobbies, like lydian dominant stratocaster piobaireachd or upper sideband kilocycle WWV delano. I’ll occasionally use a line from a prayer, such as The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary or tantum ergo sacramentum veneremur cernui.

There’s a website called Use A Passphrase that will generate a passphrase for you of four, five, or twelve words (it gave me the passphrase burnham clayton square special a minute ago). He also says that it’s not necessary to change your passphrase every 90 days, and in fact you need only change it if a website says you should.

One other thing: a lot of websites have you enter answers to challenge questions, like “In what city were you born?” or “The name of your first pet.” No reason you can’t use a random phrase as the answer. You just have to remember what it is. That’s where LastPass comes in handy.


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Highs and Lows and Other Weirdness #socs

Naturally, when I hear “high” and “low,” I think of weather. You know, high and low temperatures, high and low pressure, etc. Did you know that in Canada, 30 degrees means it’s hot, and in the US 30 degrees means it’s cold? See, 30 Canada degrees is equivalent to 86 US degrees, while 30 US degrees is equivalent to -1 degrees (approximately) Canadian. It’s different with money…

Speaking of money, “high” and “low” makes me think of the stock market, when they talk at the end of the day whether the market is higher or lower, and how many stocks set new highs and new lows. The stock markets have been doing very well lately, and I hope it continues, because my retirement savings are all invested in the stock market. Which reminds me, I need to start moving some of my savings into something more secure.

Oh, and music, with high and low pitches. The A below middle C vibrates at 440 cycles per second, also called 440 Hertz, named for Heinrich Hertz, who is not the same guy that started the car rental company. The A above middle C vibrates at 880 Hz, the one above that at 1760 Hz… notice a pattern? Then you know the A below the A below middle C vibrates at 220 Hz, the one below that at 110 Hz, etc. Now, that’s at concert pitch, which some people argue should be higher than 440, others argue should be lower. As long as everyone is in tune, it doesn’t matter.

And, speaking of another kind of pitches, in baseball, pitches can be high or low, inside or outside. When a pitcher throws a ball to a batter, he’s aiming for the strike zone, which is defined in the official rules of baseball as over home plate, between the top of the batter’s knees and the middle of his chest (called “the letters,” because that’s normally where the name and/or logo of the team is on the player’s shirt). Of course, that all depends on the judgment of the home-plate umpire, who tends to have his own strike zone that might be wider than the 15″ width of the plate (38.1 cm for you metric fans) and might have different upper and lower boundaries, depending on who’s pitching, who’s hitting, whether or not the umpiring crew has to leave to go elsewhere after the game, whether or not it’s raining or threatening to rain, and how big of an asshole he is.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little walk through the deepest recesses of my mind.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now, this word from our sponsor.