eternal ramblings of an empty mind

Month: December, 2012

Burning Down The House

This post (unlike most of them) is intended to be informative. In Microsoft Word 2007 (and possibly other versions), it is sometimes desirable to create outline-numbered documents (all are formatted this way at my company). Now, since we ignore the procedures manual (which was written for typewriters and early computers, pre-Microsoft Word), there are a few difficulties with the procedures. Strange thing is, I haven’t found any clear instructions on how to do this (possibly because the titles of the article are so completely unrelated like this one), so I’m doing my best to publish the method I use, and hopefully it’s the method advocated by MS MVPs. I’ll try to add pictures when I get a chance.

I’m making the assumption that you start with a clean document, probably using the default Word 2007 style set.

If outline numbering for your document isn’t set up, “Heading 1”, “Heading 2”, etc. will have no numbers displayed in front of them in the Styles ribbon. Open the “Define new Multilevel list” dialog. Attach these headings to the corresponding list levels (if you’ve done it before, it remembers the preferences; I’ll have to check on a clean install I have at home if this is the case there as well).

The first few headings in our documents are expected to be sans-number. In a book, this is similar to the preface. Then there’s the main body of the document, with sections 1, 2, 3, etc. Finally, we may or may not have appendices, which are lettered, A, B, C, etc. We want the table of contents to look like the following, if possible:

1. Chapter 1
1.1 Section 1.1
1.2 Section 1.2
2. Chapter 2
3. Chapter 3
Appendix A
Appendix B

The first bit is simple. Create a section using the style “Heading 1”, type “Preface”, then move your cursor to the beginning, and hit [Backspace]. This will remove the numbering scheme for that paragraph alone. The indentation will remain intact, but another press of [Backspace] can get rid of that, if you so desire.

The chapters are even simpler, just use Heading 1, 2, 3, etc.

But things get slightly more difficult for the appendices:

  1. Create a paragraph using the “Heading 1” style.
  2. Open the “Define new Multilevel list” dialog.
  3. Ensure the entire dialog is shown by clicking “More >>”.
  4. Select level 1 to modify.
  5. Change the “Number style for this level” to “A, B, C, …” (or whatever your choice is).
  6. Change “Start at” to “A”.
  7. Under “Enter formatting for number”, add “Appendix” before the letter.
  8. Most important: change the drop down for “Apply changes to” to “This point forward”

Also, keep in mind that if you ever want to modify styles for previous “Heading 1” paragraphs, you may have to repeat these steps or risk messing up the document. So this type of thing should be saved until you’re confident of the formatting of your document.


Kick Drum Heart

My 2013 calendar finally arrived, complete with sketch #287/425, where it appears Schlock is lamenting the fact that his tub of Ovalkwik is empty.

Meanwhile, I expect this week to drag on, with little to break the monotony until the break. And while the week may seem interminable, the break will, I’m sure, pass too quickly. I’ll spend a minimum of two days at the folks’, and some unknown amount of time with friends here.

I did discover that I had $134.11 “free” at, but it existed in such a way that I couldn’t spend it on Kindle books—I had to spend it on real goods. Not that it was much of a problem to crank through that, though I had to supplement my purchase with a few bucks from my own pocket to cover tax. The Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus 16 Ton Megaset was only $30! I couldn’t pass up a deal like that. Sleepwalk With Me, Stephen Colbert’s America Again: Rebecoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t, along with the Batman and Superman animated series DVDs rounded out my purchase. They’ll all arrive on my doorstep on Christmas Eve, apparently.

The tragedy in Newtown, CT. I’d call the reactionary dialogue about gun control, mental health treatment, and security execrable. The Baltimore Sun editorial page published an article by one Max Stearns (a law professor) that traverses a small handful of logical fallacies, along with assumptions that collapse under the slightest bit of scrutiny. And yet it was written in such a way, in a thoughtful and reasonable tone, that many will believe his idea of the “cause” is accurate. Not 20 minutes after reading the letter (presented on Popehat as satire, to those who are familiar with the writers, yet still believed by some commenters to be, at least Patrick’s, opinion), at least one of my coworkers spouted the identical ideas, “If I were in charge…” I briefly attempted to demonstrate the futility of proposed changes, but quickly gave up. Yes, it was tragic. Yes I hope it doesn’t happen again. But I hope people learn to think before taking action, however, in the words of Patrick Henry, “I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.” I’ll stop before going into a tirade, but while a measured approach will fair better with the logical few, the reactionary approach has strong support from the mob.

So apparently the energy requirements for real FTL travel has been reduced. The math here isn’t beyond me, but I didn’t read that in the paper. Supposedly, a reduction by a factor of 1025. The whole concept, however, is amazing, as I read it, whether it requires 1044 J or 1019 J. Not only does an Alcubierre drive reduce the effective mass of the payload, but it can boost speed by a factor directly related to the amount of energy applied, without that annoying limit of c. I hope the experiment proposed is performed and we can see what the theorists have been proposing. That would be truly exciting, as much as FTL neutrinos would have been.

Another exciting development in science (this one a little more timely than the Alcubierre papers spanning 1994–2006) is the development of a universal kilogram. The current standard has existed since 1879, but teams at NIST and in Canada are hoping to produce a new standard to the CGPM in 2014. If the kg can be defined in terms of Planck’s constant, then we’ll finally have a system free of physical artifacts.

I feel silly, somewhere between giddy and skittish, and keep checking my phone for text messages. After two-plus years I’ve entrusted my heart to another, and it feels good, and that much better when we’re together. Karyn is, if nothing else, stretching my palette. Sans a trip to Japan, it’s unlikely I would have tried sushi on my own. And when we walked by Sabor “Latin Grill & Bar” last weekend, she said, “I wonder what Latin food is…”, walked in, and got a table for two. If it were me, I probably would have looked at the menu and, not seeing anything familiar (or much at all in English), suggested going elsewhere, but I’m extremely glad I stuck around, because it was delicious. Tonight we head to Red Bean’s Bayou Grill—again, new to me—though I was thoroughly sated by the office lunch. Hopefully our adventures together will not be limited to new restaurants, but expand into grander schemes.


So I’m in Manhattan for the third time in three weeks. Could have (and probably should have) stayed here over the weekend, but hindsight is 20/20, and the weekend at home wasn’t a total waste of time.

For instance, I finally got Windows 7 installed on my netbook. I did this primarily so I could watch Netflix on a screen slightly larger than 4.8″ (though admittedly much smaller than the 42″ at home). 10.1″ is significantly easier on the eyes, however I’ve noticed that the performance of Silverlight leaves much to be desired. The audio and video have a tendency to get out of sync (the video is slow), and only occasionally will the video “catch up”—though not by a single jump, or a stop to buffer, but by skipping frames: the video appears to go 2–3× faster for a few seconds, then back to normal.

I’ve tried to get a few other things installed on here, but with Sourceforge down at the moment, I can’t get wxPython or py2exe. Besides, without access to the Cessna network, I don’t have the source code I need anyway. The VPN software on the other machine will do the job, and I’ll work with that tomorrow.