, broadcasting from the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, from the most northern settlement in the world, the town of Longyearbyen. (“Spinning the 78’s from 77° latitude.”) To pick the feed up, there are various Android and iOS apps, and most of them have corresponding websites. I use Radio Garden, both on the PC and on the Android tablet. There is also TuneIn, myTuner, and the Simple Radio app.

Cal Lockwood (not his real name) is the host, and, as he must sleep, his bits are understandably recorded. Apparently no one on Svalbard has ever seen him. He’s a mythical local character. AM 1270 is the cheery vibe of ballroom music, big band jazz, old standards, etc, echoing through the isolated wastes near the North Pole. Who knows how many people keep warm and cozy up there to Cal’s station. It’s what I listen to when I sleep.

Named as such because I have a perfect right to give my own theory — which is actually not a theory — the silliest name I can think of. So … named as such for the armadillo at the beginning of Tod Browning’s 1931 version of Dracula, with Bela Lugosi. And because I attached the wrong name to it. I’ve consistently conflated those two all of my life, because I only remember them as being at the beginning of the dictionary. (Also, because there’s a third word — “ant-eater” — also sitting near the front of the book.)

My method is, you can sum up a situation with something much better than a pro’s and con’s. Consider each variable/factor and number it between -3 and +3. Zero is neither good nor bad, as you’d expect, etc. Then you add it up. That’s it.

For example. I once wanted to ask this one woman out. Here’s that dilemma examined according to the Dracula Had An Aardvark Theory.

  • Successful risk builds character [+2]
  • A negative outcome would be humiliating [-2]
  • The hope of dating [+1]
  • Recklessness spurred by attraction [+2]
  • A history of social anxiety and awkwardness [-2]
  • The likelihood of the outcome [-2]
  • Asking out a woman in her workplace [-3]

So that’s -4. They’re just relative gradations, but man, negative four is way inadvisable. Doing a pro’s and con’s would yield four negatives and three positives, which would add up to a -1. Still the same advice, but not as clear-cut.

As you can see, that isn’t white. White, in RGB (red, green, blue) is FFFFFF. (The pattern is RRGGBB. Three numbers in hexadecimal. It can also be written out in decimal, as (255,255,255).) But, again, that isn’t white. If I wanted to create a cool effect with my YouTube video, of using a symbol or something of that nature, surrounded by a white background, so that it would make the symbol float above the playlist, I couldn’t use the actual color I thought I was looking at. It took so long to get the effect to work. Not because it’s difficult to go and grab a free color picker app, but because my mind is a fear and loathing coleslaw that sometimes drags its feet like a mofo. Also, there’s three off-white colors used by YouTube in their interface. So I first had to make the same error in logic a couple of times before realizing I had to use the color picker on the actual video page. Anyway, the color you want to use is F9F9F9, or (249,249,249).

As an outdoor public space, with walkways and places to sit, so that visitors could watch bands recording their songs live in the studio, through sound-proofed windows, with the music coming through speakers. The bands would play to an audience, but not exactly be in a live setting. No crowd noise, and they can stop and start as the session requires. But that dull feeling that settles over studio recordings would be gone.

I had a friend once that I was close to, and as a token of friendship shared with her a link to the second movement of Beethoven’s ‘Pathétique’ piano sonata — which is one of the most famous pieces of music in the world, and generally considered one of the most breathtakingly beautiful. Truly a compliment to one’s heart. Because she could speak French, however, she couldn’t get over that it was called the ‘Pathétique’. To her it was as if I were unknowingly accusing her of being pathetic. What I still think about was that it was probably meant more in the spirit of “pathos”. It’s a gentle, romantic masterpiece. Karl Haas used to open his nightly NPR show with it. That’s how I originally knew it — as a fixture on the classical station. (I’ve discovered that part of Tchaikovsky’s sixth symphony, also titled ‘Pathétique’, was used as the theme to the late-70s version of “Romeo And Juliet”.)

Pete glanced over at the switchboard, leaned over with one hand — balancing a sandwich in his mouth with the other — and hit the yellow flashing button, calming its insistent peripheral noise. “Do you really think it takes that long to learn the work here?”

Malcolm shrugged. “I picked it up in about a month. It won’t take you long.”

Attending to the next flashing button, and then peering through the thick plastic casing into the darkness inside the tank, Pete could see movement, clearly, but got no sense of what was moving inside. It seemed to be a kind of viscous black fluid. “Tell me now.”

“About what’s in there?” Malcolm grabbed the other half of the sandwich.

“Yeah. I’ve been here a week and a half, and no one will tell me what we’re sitting here looking after.”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, Pete.”

Pete sniffed and took another bite. With his mouth full he said, “I actually would.”

Malcolm pointed toward the glass. “Those are spiders, dude.”

“What the fuck?”

“I know, man. Those are little spiders. I mean it. There are millions of them.”

Pete shook his head in such disgust that it became more of a shudder. “It pays well. But we don’t need ever think about that again.”

“Yeah, Pete. No question. No one ever talks about it.”


Malcolm bit into his half of the sandwich and nodded while chewing. “It’s simple, dude. Just don’t hit the flashing yellow button. That’ll open the tank right on us, buddy. But other than that, there’s never anything to worry about. And besides, we’d get another warning light if that were about to happen.”

How do I remember that the HTML named entity for an ellipsis is … and not &ellip;? Because if it were ellip, for ellipsis, I wouldn’t be wondering in the first place about whether or not there’s an “h” in there. (It’s a horizontal ellipsis.) (There’s also a vertical ellipsis numbered entity.) Though the exact definition of the Binary Borgnine Horizon Theory is as hazy as its silly name (which I am at full liberty to come up with) it’s basically that you should look for ways to reduce in two steps — first to a binary, then between the two. That there’s a good number of these easy-level Sudoku puzzles sitting around in life.

Argentina and Venezuela are another example. How do I remember that Venezuela is at the top of South America and Argentina is at the bottom of South America? I happen to have noticed once, in elementary school, that they started with letters at opposite ends of the alphabet. Only I found it a shame that the letters were switched around in order, because I needed to remember it as A to V. Top to bottom — the Western text direction other than left-to-right. Then I realized that, because I happen to know that they’re switched around, it can only be the one way. In other words, because I already knew about that first letter thing, I had a binary. Understanding that there was an extra step involved meant that it couldn’t be the original way. It filled in two more countries in my image of South America, and I could avoid learning by rote.

The Borgnine Horizon, by the way, is the point beyond which all is Ernest Borgnine. There’s no actual idea attached to that.