Lee's Journal

Current Journal
May '04 --> Jun '04
Mar '04 --> Apr '04
Jan '04 --> Feb '04
Oct '03 --> Dec '03
Aug '03 --> Sept '03
Jun '03 --> July '03
Apr '03 --> May '03
Mar '03 --> Mar '03
May '02 --> Feb '03

Also check out my Flying Journal

 

1-17-05

In with the new blog

Here it is. You can find new blog entries on my new blog.

1-10-05

Blogging Systems

I'm going with Wordpress. It's under active development and I've found some anti-spam plugins and the like. You'll see my new blog shortly.

1-8-05

Blogging Systems

I'm not going to put my blog on some "free" advertiser supported site where you have to click-sign away rights to your own material, that's put into a database that I don't have access to, on a server of unknown reliability.

But then...

You might think I'm overreacting when I talk about not using a particular system because of comment spam problems. But I've seen WAY too many blog posts like the following "i never write here anymore. iíve had it up to here, there and okay there with pr0n comment spam." That comes from a b2evolution user.

Just do a google search for wordpress "comment spam" or b2evolution "comment spam". It's a huge problem.

My current system still keeps chugging away.... a flat file index.html file that I hand edit with Frontpage. CSS makes it look good.

Here's a nice analysis from Kas Log (I would have put this behind a 'cut' but I don't have a very sophisticated blogging system ;-)

Open Source weblogging tools

This weblog is powered by WordPress, and aside from saying thanks to the WordPress team for building a great Open Source weblogging tool, I thought it might be useful to share my reasons for choosing this package over several others.

Before I started looking at any specific tools, I came up with the following list of requirements:

* Must run comfortably on accounts hosted at
FatCow. This weblog isnít hosted there, but nabeepchen.com which I set up at the same time is. Also, my corporate site (felinity.com) is hosted at Fatcow, and I might want to add a blog to that later. [Note: Iím a Fatcow affiliate. If you sign up for a web site with them by clicking on the Fatcow link above, I get some moolah.]
* Must have a browser based interface that is easy to use, but powerful enough for first class blogs. The interface should be lean and efficient, although a little eye candy never hurts.
* Must have integrated comments, pings, and trackback.
* Must provide comment moderation.
* Must be actively maintained.
* Must support RSS feeds.
* Must update pages automatically [added after trying Greymatter].
* Must allow multiple categories per post [added after trying Nucleus].
* Look and feel of weblog must be completely customizable.
* Should have automatic comment spam filtering.
* Should support Atom feeds.
* Preferably Open Source.
* Compatibility with desktop weblogging front-ends would be nice.
* The fewer external dependencies (plug-ins, libraries, etc.), the better.

Fatcow runs MySQL 3.23.x, and Apache 1.3.x with PHP 4.x and Perl, on Sun Solaris servers. Unfortunately, neither Python nor PostgreSQL are supported, which limits my options a bit. After a quick look at the system requirements for various packages, I narrowed my list of potentials down to four programs: Blosxom 2.0, Greymatter 1.3, Nucleus 3.1, and WordPress 1.2. On the commercial side, I knew that Movable Type would fit the bill, if none of the Open Source alternatives came close enough.

WordPress came out on top and meets all of my requirements, including the optional ones. Not considering price, I think it even beats Movable Type. Read on, for my impressions of each package, but note that I spent only two or three hours with each of them, except of course WordPress. Just keep in mind that there is probably a lot of stuff I missed, and newer versions may shift the overall picture considerably.

Each of the packages is relatively easy to install, if you know your way around a Unix system. Blosxom and Greymatter store everything in plain text files, and are written in Perl. Nucleus and WordPress require a MySQL database, and are written in PHP 4.

I quickly crossed Blosxom and Greymatter off my list, because neither had the must have features. Nucleus and WordPress were a much better match, and it took me a bit more time to decide between the two.

Blosxom is great for people who live their lives in the Unix shell. You just create a simple text file, and voilŗ, the blog entry is on-line. Categories are the directories underneath the main data directory. This approach makes it exceptionally simple to automatically post stuff from scripts and whatnot. Unfortunately Bosxom has no real web based interface. The plug-in for that is experimental and bare bones to the extreme. I was also a little concerned about performance for large sites, because each request might require searching through multiple directories and files, although the caching plug-ins that are available might address those concerns. Blosxom itself is just a single Perl CGI script with a few hundred lines of code, and installation is trivial. However, to get the functionality I want, I would also have had to separately install and configure a number of plug-ins, and while that might give me the functionality I need, it also means a lot of tweaking and fiddling, and extra work to keep everything up-to-date. What I did like and have not seen in other packages is the simple, but effective URL hacking scheme Blosxom offers. Basically, you can just concatenate categories and dates with slashes, to drill down by category or date. I am using the same approach for some internal tools, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the same idea implemented here. The bottom line: Blosxom is too complicated for casual users, and it didnít have the features I was looking for.

Greymatter came a bit closer to what I had in mind. It did have a web based interface, built-in comments, and like Blosxom, the blog entries are stored in plain text files. One thing I learned from playing with Greymatter was, that I didnít want a program that requires me to rebuild my pages manually. It wasnít on my original list of must have features, but I added it as a requirement. Aside from two step updates, Greymatter didnít support comment moderation, pings, trackbacks etc. On a more subjective level, I didnít like the look and feel of the interface.

Nucleus made a strong impression immediately, with a clean and well designed interface. Setup was trivial, and I liked the little pop-up window for uploading images, and choosing existing files from a list. Surprisingly, adding a blog style calendar is only available via a plug-in. Out of the box, Nucleus allows comment deletion and IP banning, but comment moderation, pings, and trackback require plug-ins. One requirement I added to my must have list, after using Nucleus, was the ability to put posts into multiple categories; Nucleus supports only one category per item. The biggest drawback from my point of view was Nucleusí template system. If your site design fits neatly into the Nucleus framework of templates and skins, then customization is easy enough. But if you expect to go beyond basic blogging functionality you might find it quite limiting. One feature Nucleus offers that I didnít need, but that could make all the difference to some people, was the ability to handle multiple blogs.

WordPress was the last program on my list of candidates. Installation was trivial, and although I might prefer the Nucleus look slightly, the WordPress interface is pleasant enough and functional. Most importantly, WordPress had all of the features I was looking for right out of the box; no plug-ins needed. The main template is simply a PHP script with a style sheet. You can change the look of WordPress sites quite dramatically by just dropping in a new style sheets, but even editing the content and layout is easy enough, if you know HTML and just a tiny bit of PHP. Multiple and even hierarchical categories are supported, as are pings, trackback, and the various feed formats. After using Nucleus, the image upload feature seemed a bit bare bones, but it works and a plug-in might improve things. Where WordPress stood out was in comment handling. You can configure the program to queue comments for moderation if they contain common spam words, come from certain IP addresses, or contain a certain number of links. If thereís one complaint, itís that the documentation is a bit sparse and scattered, but it was sufficient to get everything set up the way I wanted it. The WordPress forums are very active and helpful; all my questions had already been asked and answered.. Make sure to check out the WordPress Wiki. I overlooked that at first, and it seems much more complete than the reference documentation on the main page. All in all, given my requirements, WordPress was the clear winner.
 

1-7-05

Diaper joke

Based on a true story

I was home for the holidays recently.
While I was getting dressed, my mother walked in on me. I covered myself up and cried out, "Mom!" She came back with that stereotypical line, "Oh come on, when you were a baby, I changed your diaper!" I came back, deadpan, "When I was a baby, we showered together. Want another go?"

A Lack of Blog Standards

I tried out PMachine.com blogging software tonight. Last week I had tried Wordpress. There were a few key reasons I didn't want to use it; the one that stands out most notably is that there was no solid way to keep comment spam at bay. So I ran PMachine through it's paces and liked it. Then I realized that there is no facility to import old entries (like this one) into Pmachine or Expression Engine. That erked me a bit, knowing that my old entries would sit outside the new system. Then I realized that there would be no way to EXPORT my blog out of PMachine if I ever decided to switch. Damn lack of standards. This blog is currently maintained by hand... and I'm thinking it will continue that way. :-(

1-5-04

Burning Man Tickets

I just bought 2 tickets to Burning Man at $175 apiece. Last year I was lucky enough to get a "Low Income" ticket (embarrassing as it is to request such a thing, it really helped a lot to get the break). This year, I paid more and... hmm.... I don't know who the other ticket is destined for yet (PPG? VC?) but I know that going with someone is a good thing.

No Matter How Good I Am

I'll never be this good at anything: Mr. Woo bouncing a soccer ball off every part of his body for almost seven minutes without a single miss.

1-4-04

Firefox 1.0 Tweaks

Lots of tweaks at http://windowssecrets.com/041202/

Fixing a memory leak-ish issue in Firefox 1.0

Firefox tends to use more memory than maybe it should. Here's how to fix the issue. From forums.mozillazine.org

Type about:config into the location bar, press enter, right click any line, choose "new">"integer", paste this into the dialogue that appears:
"browser.cache.memory.capacity".  Click OK, specify the amount in kb in the next dialogue that appears, restart firefox.

Yes, it seems to help performance.

Windows XP Tweak: Prefetch

Windows automatically preloads programs it thinks you use a lot. But many programs shove their way into this folder, sucking up your RAM. Once every couple months or so do the following:

del c:\Windows\Prefetch

Your computer will boot faster and use less RAM. The worst that can happen is some programs will load slower the first time you start them after doing the fix.
Credits: tweakxp.com, techrepublic.com.com

Make Firefox Prefetch

I use Firefox all the time, so I do this:

You can speed up the loading of Firefox on Windows XP by adding it to the programs that XP "prefetches."

To do this, right-click the Start Menu item for Firefox, or any icon you use to start Firefox, and open the Properties dialog box. Add a space plus /Prefetch:1 to the command line and click OK. The resulting line might look as follows:

"C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" /Prefetch:1

A detailed explanation of XP's prefetch feature is provided by TechRepublic.

Windows XP Tweak: Defrag

An oldie but a goodie. Run:

defrag c:

Every couple months

Half Life 2 Kicks Ass

I've been playing Half Life 2 for a couple weeks now. Maybe I have 15 hrs of play time into the game and 5 hours into Counterstrike. I love marveling at the countryside I'm riding through, knowing that although my character can walk through it and manipulate it to a great extent, it is a completely fictitious universe. That's cool. Remember what I was saying about special effects winning me over in The Matrix? Well I just got to see "Dog" this robot in Half Life. Wowie Zowie, I marvel at it.. and doubly so knowing that it doesn't even exist!

1-2-04

Skydiving

VC and I went skydiving on new year's day. What a way to start it all off! It was fantastic!

 

There is only one Matrix

I saw Matrix Reloaded with Tara and Ross last year. My comments back then were that there really was only one movie, just stretched out into 4 hours. After seeing the first 30 minutes of Revolutions, I am reminded again how there is still only one. And the parts that are new... just aren't that good.

Ok, the big Zion fight scene was pretty exciting, even though we all knew before it started that the humans didn't stand a chance. Special effects can still sometimes win me over.

12-30-04

A package from Esther-Susan Niguidula Perez (Cha Cha)

I received a UPS package from an ex-girlfriend today. In it was several pictures of us, some items that I had accidentally left with her, and a new Walt Whitman poetry book. I tried getting in touch with her directly but the return address and phone number on the package were incorrect (it was her cousin Maryann's address and phone number. The phone number works but they've never heard of Maryann or Cha) and her email address doesn't work. I'm guessing that she reads my journal so I'll respond here:

Thank you for returning the manuscript and walkie-talkie. Of the other items, what I cannot sell on eBay, I am discarding.

This passion you have for me is completely negated (and then some) by your continued deception of your cancer status.

Lee

The super-duper short version:

I dated a girl who told me she had terminal brain cancer. For 2 years I remained the skeptic while she went to great lengths to convince me of her illness. She was never really sick. I left her because of the lies.

The short version:

We were introduced to one another by the door-woman in the high-rise building we were both living in. Our first date was in October, 2000. At that date, she told me that she had terminal inoperable brain cancer and had 3 months to live. I decided to continue with the relationship in spite of the obvious emotional hurdles. It turned out that we got along fantastically well. For the next two years we carried on a terrific relationship. But I was bothered all along that I had been with her to see many doctors for various ailments and had never seen a doctor talk about her cancer. I asked Cha about this directly on several occasions and I always got unconvincing answers as to why this was the case. Finally in October 2002, I told her that if I didn't receive a face-to-face confirmation of her medical condition from a reputable doctor, or an admission that she didn't really have cancer, I would leave her. She offered up more excuses but no confirmation, so I left her. It was difficult... but the weirdness factor more than made up for the unhappiness.

I say that this is the short version because I have story after story of how I was strung along for 2 years. Each time I was given evidence that was -almost- convincing except for it's forgability or unconfirmability. Things include:

I haven't come forward with this before because I didn't want to reopen my own old emotional wounds, didn't want to rehash this weirdness, and didn't want to ruin her medical reputation and the reputation of the doctor that forged her diagnosis. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that she is a head and neck cancer specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. This is getting ridiculous. She sent me a frigging care package after more than 2 years! It's creepy!

I have saved every scrap of paper and will post "The long version" if Cha doesn't stop.

Doctor Esther-Susan Niguidula Perez from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Stop.

12-27-04

The New Star Wars IV sucks

It took me forever to get around to seeing it. I wish I had waited longer. EVERY modification that Greedo Lucas made stands out like an oozy, pussy discolored zit on a baby's nose. I just got finished watching the Cantina scene and I had to turn it off! The stupid (and terribly terribly obvious) CG creatures in Mos Isley, the stupid (and terribly terribly obvious) CG scenery modifications, removing Greedo's subtitling, and the reason I had to turn it off... it was changed so that instead of Han shooting Greedo under the table, the two of them fire at the same time above the table and Greedo misses. (that one went to court... the people's court!) First, the modern CG was worse than the old 1976 animation. Second, Greedo missed? Third, the shots don't line up; Greedo is shot in the chest but the fire and smoke comes out of the chair (ie, getting shot under the table). Fourth I hate that Lucas made some desperate bid to change the moral character of Han.

I'm reminded of seeing Star Wars I the first night in the theater with Jen and Michael. We were so excited to go! We all walked out of the theater feeling like we had been fleeced.

Eventually, I'll probably see the rest of the move. If I see Jar Jar in it. I'm going to write a letter to Lucas.

 

...

...

Ahh! What's up with the animated Jabba?

And the uninspired lines.... "Jabba, you're a wonderful human being." No wonder this lay on the editing room floor for 30 years. It could have laid there for another 30 and no one would have cried.

12-22-04

Support from Noni

I've been getting a lot of guilt from my mother about leaving New Jersey. "California is so far; what if something happened to me or your father?" etc...

I've been feeling pretty bummed about this.  PPG suggested that I directly ask her for her support. So I asked, "I really would like to get your support on this, it's something I feel that I have to do and I would like you to be happy and enthusiastic for me."

"I do support you, but I don't have to like it. I can't stand how far away you're going. Do you have to go so far?"

"Part of what supporting me means is not following every positive comment with a negative one. And no matter where I go, I'll be near an airport. How is that different from you going to Florida for 6 months?"

"But California is farther away than Florida. Why don't you go to Nashville. It's so nice there. If you go away, I'll never see you."  etc etc etc.

This circular crap went around for about 30 minutes. Every positive comment from me tempered by poorly masqueraded guilt-ridden pleading.

I'm glad we had the conversation. She gave me pretty much every argument she had in her arsenal. I can now tune them all out. :-(

12-21-04

My Family's Plot

My dad bought 8 funeral plots in the fall. Here's where my family will likely be buried.

12-18-04

The Terrorists have already won

I joined Tradesports.com. I'm betting good money that

  1. Zarqawi won't be captured by March 31st
  2. Homeland Security will raise the rainbow flag one notch on New Year's Eve (It's an easy bet... I put up $3 for a chance at $40)
  3. It won't be a white Christmas (actually, I'm betting there will be less than 2.5 inches of snowfall in Central Park in December)

It's not a lack of patriotism, just.... well, it's a free market. Literally.

Wordpress suckiness

It would be so easy to put a sock in comment spam. Create a user system and then only allow approved users to post comments. Wordpress took the time to make a user system but it only controls posting, not commenting. What's with that? As it is, anyone (or any machine) that can type in an email address can post a comment.

I've browsed a mess of sites with all kinds of snazzy semi-heuristic, automatic scanning, sniffing plugin PHP edits and I still haven't come across this fix. Feh.

 

12-16-04

Pie!

This is from a couple weeks ago but it was still yummy..  Apple Pie!

Tree!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree! La la la la la la!

How to beat a speeding ticket in New Jersey

Well, that's not really an accurate title, but that's what everyone wants to do... hence, the title.

I got a "15MPH over the limit", 4 point speeding ticket in New Jersey about 2 months ago. The cost of the ticket was about $100. But that's the cheap part. The expensive part is the insurance rate hike! I called AIG (my new insurance company after they bought my policy from GE, who bought it from Colonial Penn...) and they couldn't tell me how much my insurance would go up with this ticket.  Grrrr. But I recall that GE told me how much my rates would go up... about $150 per point for 3 years. And then there's the "Merit Discount". 5 years of me not getting any points earns me an 8% merit discount on my liability ($340/yr) & collision ($400/yr) insurance. So the total cost of my 4 point ticket is:

$100    speeding ticket
$300    $60/year for 5 years, lost merit discount
$1,800  $150/point * 4 points * 3 years
---------------------------------------------------
$2,200

Yow!

So here's how to beat a speeding ticket in New Jersey

I managed to get my total costs reduced 80%!

  1. Get a ticket :-(
  2. Go to your court date. (If you show up 30 minutes before the court opens, you'll put your name near the beginning of the sign-in sheet and you'll get out of court in an hour... Else, you could be there for 1-3 hours)
  3. On the way in, sign the "I want to talk to the prosecutor" sheet. It will be next to the sign-in sheet.
  4. Possibly wait a few hours. Read the book you brought and/or people-watch. It's better than the DMV.
  5. When you're name is called to speak with the prosecutor, (If the judge calls you before the prosecutor, tell him that you're waiting to speak to the prosecutor) tell him that you'd like to pay a surcharge to the court instead of getting points on your license. I was offered two choices: 
    - First option: I plead guilty, pay the ticket, $30 in court costs and get my ticket reduced to 2 points.
    - Second option: I plead guilty, pay the ticket, $30 in court costs, a $250 surcharge and get my ticket reduced to 0 points.

    (Yes, just by showing up at the courthouse, I saved at least $900 in insurance fees!)
  6. Go before the judge. As long as he doesn't think you are a menace to society and really deserve the points, he'll approve of the deal. (I saw a guy who had been driving for 9 months and was on his second ticket get denied.)
  7. Sign the check at the cashier's desk.

Why this works:

Recently (no, I don't know how recently) a law was enacted in NJ allowing courts to charge a (fundraising) surcharge instead of giving points. It puts the money in the states hands instead of the insurance company's hands. Which is well and good except that it throws off the insurance actuarial tables.... It's probably true that people with many speeding tickets tend to get in more accidents and thereby cost more money to the insurance-paying group. So it is justified that they be charged more. And it's possible that a person that has to pay $2,000 in order to continue driving will think twice about doing riskier behaviors... thereby keeping the driver safer.

This issue is much like the Canadian prescription drug issue that we're going through in the U.S. right now. All this talk of legalizing Canadian drugs is just bull-dinky. The reason drugs are cheaper in Canada is because the Canadian government told the drug companies, "if you want to do business here, you -must- lower your prices." We could do exactly the same thing in the U.S. The counter argument is that the more regulation in the pharmaceutical industry, the less innovation in new drugs there will likely be.   And if you're wondering where I see the connection, it's that both the NJ surcharge system and the buying drugs from Canada short-circuits established systems. It's a shaky long term strategy. But hey, I beat my speeding ticket!

12-14-04

Email

..... I swore to myself that I'd get through -all- of my emails today. .... 14 hours and 30 emails down.... only 120 to go. It's those tough ones at the bottom of the list that made me want to "get through them all" in the first place so.... Well. I'll keep at it.

12-9-04

Plaxo is a good thing

For someone who prides himself on a good sized address book (and hence, a lot of friends (or at the very least, acquaintances)) my address book is in terrible shape. Enter Plaxo. I've gotten a few automated emails from friends using the service to update their address book. So I tried it out and I'm glad I did! Something like 40 email addresses in my book bounced. And like 60 friends of mine used the automated Plaxo service to update my address book automatically! I never would have had the perseverance to do that kind of update myself.

VC and I doing well

[Insert all those good relationship clichťs here!]

Thinking Californian Thoughts

Since Burning Man, I've been thinking a lot about following my bliss and going to California. In short, I'm looking for a place that's sunnier and hippie-er. CA is a big place. Where should I go? A couple people have suggested Grass City, CA. Jennifer L suggested Santa Fe NM as well. Stevie says Santa Cruz, Capitola, Berkeley, Colorado Springs, CO, Estes Springs.  I know I don't want to go to LA. SF is a good place but the weather is a bit dreary. Where should I go? I'm going on a scouting mission soon so tell me where to check out. (After clicking on that link, remove the "NOSPAM" tag from my email address)

For 3 months after Burning Man.. the sun, the people, the absurdist possibilities..., I didn't have a single thought about steering my car into oncoming traffic. I liked that.

High Tech Weblogging

I set up Wordpress on my system. I won't tell you where to find it yet because I'm still tweaking it. I like it. One problem is the comment spam. 2 days after setting the thing up, I got about 20 comment spams from some casino website. I'll have to do some more tweaking before it goes live.

11-19-04

New Computer :-)

After looking around, I was surprised to find myself buying a new PC from Dell. They had the best price on what I know to be a well put-together package and "standard" parts. I've recently heard many bad things about their support (which is outsourced to India). The general complaint is, "The person was nice enough but they just kept talking through this stupid script, they didn't really know much about computers and I couldn't understand their accent! After 2 hours on the phone, they gave up and sent someone to the house to replace the hard drive."

So, I got a dell... 3 Ghz, 512 meg RAM, 180 gig SATA hard drive, 800 Mhz FSB, DVD writer, an extra 17" LCD monitor (I couldn't get a package deal without the monitor!). Total price: $920 after rebate.

I was going to get a cheap computer for work but then I remembered that Half-Life 2 was coming out November 16th. I went crazy over the original  Half-Life Counterstrike and I just had to be able to play!

It's going to be a day or two before the machine is ready for prime time... so much software to load into it..  But that pales in comparison to Stevie's situation. He had a hard drive crash on his work laptop... it took WEEKS of installation time... literally. Yow.

Here I am 2 hrs in and I've just about got the OS set up right.

Volunteering for Rotary

I've got to quit with the computer installation stuff for tonight because I'm volunteering to help with a food drive sponsored by the Rotary club tomorrow morning at 8AM. Don't I feel all warm and fuzzy.

11-16-04

Dragon Freak Out

Ok, this is cool, found on either Gizmodo or Boingboing... maybe it was on both. I put it together and, as VC said, "It's like when you finally 'get' one of those 3-D picture-things at the Mall." It's freaky-cool. Dragon. The original site is here.

Tenacious Lee

At the suggestion of a Burning acquaintance, I changed my homepage to include a musical accompaniment. It's too loud, too brash, too rude. I love it. Thank you Tenacious D!

11-15-04

Equinox 4 tent repairs

At Burning Man, the spider for my Eureka Equinox 4 tent broke (the spider is the piece at the top of the tent into which the 6 aluminum poles feed into and are held in place by). I can't blame it, it broke during an all-day windstorm... constant 30-40 mph winds. So I ordered a new spider from Eureka, $5 from the manufacturer (+$6 shipping) at 800-572-8822.

C. Crane FMT Digital FM Transmitter with AC Adapter

My FM transmitter just arrived. This is a fine unit. And, if you don't have to worry about FCC's rules, you can (from "NC" on Amazon.com):

1) Open up the box, by removing 3 screws (one screw is in battery compartment and the other 2 are under those circular rubber feet which are adhesive and once removed can be refitted afterwards)

2) Locate the variable resistor marked VR2 on the circuit board. (For those non-technical this is like a volume control that is operated by inserting a tiny screwdriver and turning fully clockwise). Turn VR2 to the fully clockwise position.

Viola! The power output will increase by about five fold.

If you want to go even further, then

a) sit it on a grounded metallic surface, such as a metal tray to form a ground plane.

b) increase the length of the antennae to about 75 cm (29 inches) which is the correct quarter wavelength at these frequencies.

But frankly, you are unlikely to need this once you turn up the boost.
Enjoy

11-3-04

Fuckin Amazon finale

Amazon Support informed me that the Fine Print says I can only redeem 1 certificate per order. Ok... so I split my purchase into 2 orders and placed them 3 minutes apart. Duh.

11-2-04

Fuckin Amazon redux

And now they sell it again. So I cancelled my Amazon pre-order, got ready to check out and found out that one of the two certificates I have doesn't work. The $50 one I told you about works... but the $30 doesn't. I wrote to cust support. What a pain in the ass.

11-1-04

Fuckin Amazon

A couple days ago I was talking about an FM transmitter. So I go to buy it today and Amazon doesn't sell it any more. I've got a $50 gift certificate that's going to expire on the 15th and now there's nothing I want (for under $500) on my wish-list. GRRR.

10-28-04

My Local Computer Warehouse

There's a computer wholesaler in downtown Hackettstown... a -real- computer wholesaler. They're not interested in selling systems to me for my clients... they only sell computer systems by the pallet. Nifty. GoCWI.com

A romantic comedy with Zombies and VC

I saw Shaun of the Dead with VC last night. Quite an enjoyable movie, especially with a great person to see it with. :-)

10-27-04

More with the Ass Kicking: Mozilla Firefox

I've been using it for 3 days now and can definitively say that Firefox kicks Internet Explorers ass. I just started playing with extensions and... yeah. Good bye IE.   (though I've been having a little trouble viewing some videos in Firefox. I'm sure I'll find the right extension shortly to make that problem go away)

Get Firefox. It will make you more productive.

I'm going to have to figure out how to put myself on an RSS feed soon. I'm simply in love with the Sage RSS reader in Firefox. I can see why some of my friends have been bugging me to produce an RSS stream.

My Favorite Screen Saver: Burning Man

This has been my screen saver now on and off for a few months. I've got to say that it was a major contributor to my pre-burn excitement. The photos are excellent... a real joy! Thank you, Burning Man Screen Saver Project!

The Red Sox Win The World Series!

Was I right? I was right! Lee Gavin has lifted the curse! Thank you Lee!

10-25-04

Google Desktop Kicks Ass

Old way of looking up old data

New Way

Time Saved: 12.5 seconds. I do this search 5-20 times per day.

Old way of looking up archived emails

New Way

I often leave Outlook running, so I'll just say I've saved 44.5 seconds. I do this search 2-10 times per day.

Dreaming of Flying

This is some crazy dream I had this morning. Don't feel you have to read it.

I woke up this morning dreaming of flying. I've had this kind of dream many times before. This one was especially vivid. I remember being with friends... family? by the ocean. The shoreline sloped quickly into the ocean. At one point, I threw myself down the incline (not a dangerous incline, except to fall onto the sand and ultimately the incoming waves) and I recall that my limbs remembered the hint of previous dreams. The first time, I remembered enough to be able to not fall... and in the middle of it, my toes felt uncomfortable having not landed on the ground or the surf.

I decided to practice the movements. They are a sort of gyration of each joint in appropriate succession. I recall trying to explain this to someone in the dream. I told them it was like that hand dynamo you might have played with as a kid. It's sort of a ball inside another ball. You grasp the thing in your hand and get the inner ball spinning. Once it's going (and making this interesting whining noise) you have to gyrate your wrist against the gyroscopic forces that the inner ball is generating (yes, this thing exists, I've got one in storage... See http://www.dynaflex-intl.com/gyro_info.htm) Flying is sort of like that... pushing against forces that you didn't know were there until you tried pushing in just the write way in the right rhythm. Thinking about it, my flying experience was a bit more like the Dyna Flex in other ways. I remember the feeling like I was really doing it. It's an uncomfortable feeling... I have to bend my limbs in ways that would have locked my joints and hurt if I were putting weight on them. As I got better at it, I started to realize that the 'pushing' was some combination of mental effort as well as physical... It's possible (though I'd have to do it more to be sure) that, if I practiced,  I could fly without much physical effort at all.

I recall the experience of Arthur Dent flying in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. This might be the origination of this dream. I read the book when I was about 12 years old. Actually, I read the entire 3 book series, cover to cover in a single sitting one Christmas day. Arthur flew by "throwing yourself at the ground and missing" and there was something else about gyrating his wrists and ankles in a particular manner.

Back to the dream.... I vividly recall how it felt... Even if I lost concentration and stopped trying to fly for a few moments, I only lost a little altitude... as if I had lost just a little buoyancy or... mmmm parts of me lost their tethers to the balloons that were keeping me aloft. Yeah, I like that second analogy better because I could feel that each of my body parts were being held up separately. I didn't start to fall... If I had tried, I probably could have fallen, but it was an experience that was as safe as say, driving a car.

The scene: it was terrific. When I got up high, I could see down to the surf maybe 500 feet below me. As I looked out along the shoreline, a slight mist limited visibility to about 2 miles. From the shore, the beach rose up at a fairly steep climb to a rolling hill. Maybe 200 yards in, the sand gave way to short grass or moss climbing the hill. The top was maybe 700 feet above sea level and 1,500 feet from the shoreline.

I don't recall seeing the sun was and can't tell which way was north. Let's say the shoreline went east-west with the water to the south. About 3/4 of a mile east of my original spot on the beach, the shoreline abruptly turns south. The mountain/hill also follows the shoreline to the south.

Once I had flown about, above the water for a while, I found my way to the perch in the drawing to the right. I'm standing on top of a hill to the east and south of my original position, which is pretty much in the center of the drawing.

I recall the smell. The scent of fresh air above 100 feet or so was so refreshing. I recall thinking how I'd remember the smell. The scent perched on the mountain was fresh as well. But it was different once I landed. The difference might have been in my mind though. Sort of the difference between what a land lubber smells in the ocean air and what someone who knows the ocean well smells. 

Starting from the spot in the drawing, if I were to draw what was behind me... over my right shoulder, you'd see... strange as it is, a few tennis courts. The courts were fenced in as is normal for courts. What was strange was there were bums sitting around and in them. And they didn't like me. As I write this, my memory of this part of the dream is fading. I recall that they started running toward me, unhappy with me though I don't know why they were mad. I decided to take off again. I looked down, took two steps and was off the ground again. (wow, I was really flying of my own accord! How amazing and crazy was that?!) I got a little ways into the bay... maybe 30 yards from my starting point and one of the bums picked up and threw a broken model airplane at me. I was pretty surprised when his toss got the thing to hit me in the back a few seconds later. So I reached behind me and grabbed the plane. I recall thinking a few times that it would be good if I brought back evidence of this most amazing feat of flying and, though I wished I could bring back something a little more convincing, a model airplane wasn't the worst thing I could bring back (and yes, I realized that a model airplane is a crazy thing to show as proof of flight, but it was all I had readily available... and I'd be able to do this again anyway... so what the hey, the thing got thrown at me). Strangely (I found a small, thick bodied doll in my left hand... I don't recall how it got there. It was stiff.. maybe made out of hard plastic. I didn't get a good look at the face but it was probably a man or... some benign troll-like thing with crazyish hair.

So there I was, coasting back to the beach above the water, starting to smell the water again, with a doll in my left hand and a model airplane in my right... that had been thrown at me by some angry bums from some tennis courts on the hill. I was starting to really get the hang of flying. As I started to wake up, I tried very hard to remember how to work my muscles so I could fly. Maybe I have. I just need a nice slope and some big sky to try it out on.

Why the Red Sox are going to win the World Series

Two reasons

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page3/story?page=lateword/041020

Compiled by Page 3

With real life news reading funnier than made-up comedy bits, the Late Night kings are loving every minute of it.

Page 3's top shelf team (OK, it's one dude out on the west coast, but he's still top shelf) compiled the best sports comedy riffs from the past week.

David Ortiz
Hey, Papi, can you perform your heroics a little earlier next time?

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"

# Rob Corddry analyzes the Curse of the Bambino, beginning with grainy historical baseball footage from the turn of the century.

Corddry voiceover: "From 1903 to 1918, the Boston Red Sox won five World Series ... through good pitching, great hitting and hilarious-style running. But in 1919, the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the rival New York Yankees ... (Shows clip of ball rolling through Bill Buckner's legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.) and they haven't won a World Series since.

"They call it the Curse of the Bambino. A curse that Lee Gavin says he has broken."

Gavin: "On Aug. 31, I went to the Red Sox game at Fenway Park. It was my friend's birthday party. And in the bottom of the fourth inning Manny Ramirez, my favorite player, sliced one down and knocked out to of my teeth.

Voiceover of a re-enactment: "The (expletive) curse is lifted!"

Corddry voiceover: "Why do Lee's broken teeth lift the Curse of the Bambino? It's because of where he lives."

Gavin: "Babe Ruth lived in this house from 1916 to 1926. He built this house for his wife."

Corddry: "Where are your parents?"

Gavin: "My mom is in New York right now, and my dad's on business."

Corddry: "So they're not here?"

Gavin: "No."

Corddry: "You wanna get high?"

Corddry voiceover: "Journalists jumped on the story and desperate Red Sox fans have jumped on the bandwagon because if the Curse of the Bambino is lifted it may be the watershed moment in lifting other curses.

"Like the taboo tiki that haunted the Bradys for three full episodes. Dick Cheney's heated exchange with Pat Leahy. And who could forget the seven-year losing streak of the Chicago Mirror-breakers?

"But there are skeptics."

Boston Herald columnist Mike Barnicle: "The real curse, if there is a curse, with the Red Sox is the curse of being owned by a bunch of crackers from Georgia.

"The Red Sox were the last franchise to have a black ballplayer."

Corddry voiceover: "But if systemic racism is a curse, there would be a pox on the entire city of Boston."

Corddry: "So you don't believe there's a Curse of the Bambino?"

Barnicle: "Yeah, there's no curse. The Bambino was a big, fat bastard who could hit a home run and play the piano."

Corddry: "So you're saying poor Lee Gavin, a 16-year-old kid, put his face in front of a ball for nothing?"

Barnicle: "Yeah."

Corddry voiceover: "Local fans have their own opinions."

(Two fans are shown at a bar, talking to Corddry.)

First fan: "I've caught many balls in the face. Look at my face ..."

Second fan, interrupting: "Ha, ha, ha. You've just said on national TV that you've caught more balls in the face than anybody. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha ... That'll break the curse!"

Corddry voiceover: "But if there's no curse, how do you explain this?"

Gavin: "Since Babe Ruth was traded from the Red Sox, the Yankees have won 26 World Series and the Red Sox have won none."

Corddry: "Twenty-six, isn't that an interesting number?"

Gavin: (Looks puzzled, says nothing.)

Corddry: "Think about it, two sixes ... Six, six, almost the number of the beast."

Gavin: "The beast?"

Corddry: "You know, the evil one."

Gavin: "I don't know what you're talking about."

Corddry: "You don't listen to Iron Maiden?"

Gavin: "I don't know who Iron Maiden is."

Corddry: "You don't know who Iron Maiden is?

Gavin: "No."

Corddry: "You're a 16-year-old kid living in Massachusetts. If you don't know Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, how are you gonna worship the devil?"

Gavin: (With a blank look on his face, he just calmly sits, saying nothing.)

Corddry: (Shakes his head and sighs.)

Corddry voiceover: Back at the bar, everyone has their own theories."

First fan: "Maybe if we all stop drinking, the Red Sox will win the World Series."

Corddry voiceover: "But after 36 beers and 16 shots of Jager, we came up with a better idea.

(Shows interviewees roughhousing in the bar.)

Second fan: "You can finally come on Corddry and slap me in the face as hard as you can ..."

First fan: "Slap him as hard as you can."

Second fan: "Maybe the Red Sox will win the (expletive) World Series."

First fan: "I'm not kidding, as hard as you can."

Second fan: "Go ahead ... Come on Corddry!"

First fan: "As hard ad you can. As hard as you can!"

(By now the whole bar is screaming at Corddry to slap the guy. Camera pans back to Corddry and the two fans. Corddry then slaps the guy who was asking for it.)

Voiceover, in a repeated voiceover from earlier: The (expletive) curse is lifted."

Corddry: "Or is it?" (Finishing with a photo of Babe Ruth in a Red Sox uniform.)

 

Second reason: I haven't been following them this year. I didn't know they were even in the series until they won the first game.

So can I still go to Vegas and place a bet? This one is a sure thing.

Quotes from Hitchhikers Guide on Flying

The internet is a wonderful place. I found the flying excerpts I was looking for RE: my dream. It wasn't exactly as I remembered, but close enough. Yeah, that was one of the foundations of my dream this morning.

The quotes get a bit lengthy so I'll push them off to another page.

Click here to view the flying quotes.

 "The Guide says there is an art to flying," said Ford, "or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." He smiled weakly. He pointed at the knees of his trousers and held his arms up to show the elbows. They were all torn and worn through.
"I haven't done very well so far," he said. He stuck out his hand. "I'm very glad to see you again, Arthur," he added.

10-23-04

Staples Rebate class action lawsuit

In the last couple years, I've submitted about 10 Staples rebates and Staples hasn't honored about 4 of them. And dammit if they don't know exactly which ones I neglected to make photocopies of all the originals. Well I'm fed up.

If you've had a similar experience, then write to me and we'll see what we can do about starting a class action lawsuit. My email is Lee atsign lee period org. If I get any emails, for this, I'll follow through on it.

Google Desktop

http://desktop.google.com

Search your PC like you search the internet with Google!

 

10-21-04

My Phone Crashed!

ACMCJKDKCCKCKCKAATTTT!

My phone crashed just a second ago. And it isn't even one of those high tech phones! It's a Southwestern Bell Freedom Phone.... you know... your standard Slimline phone. I was winding my way though my health insurance provider's phone tree hell.... pushing way too many buttons so they could save a few cents. So I was typing in my social security number and the number '6' on my phone wouldn't work. I could still hear the automated sexpot asking for my most intimate numbers.. I could hear my own heavy breathing in the receiver but the number 6 wouldn't work.  And then... none of the numbers would work! I started banging furiously.... Star, Pound, 1, 6, 9.. my phone was sick! Just as I was about to hang up, the phone comes out of it's trance, "beep, bEEpbEEPBeepBEEPbeepbeepBEEPbeep, BeEp!"

Ahhhhh! The future of the universe is in the hands of chance.

10-20-04

Wow

Went to Fujiyama with VC. :-). Next time, squash soup!

Canadian Pharmacies

A couple weeks ago I ordered drugs from a Canadian Pharmacy, http://www.canadadrugprices.com. They said they might take up to 3 weeks to arrive. They arrived in 2 weeks. Although generic Lamisil isn't available in the US, I got a generic from them. The brand is APO-Terbinafine - Terbinafine Hydrochloride Tablets - 250 mg. Made by Apotex Inc. Toronto Canada. The prescription for 30 pills cost $119 with shipping. In the US, it would have cost $365..... wait... WAIT.. Hey! a month ago it cost $365... I just checked CVS.com and it's $307.

So, going through the Canadian pharmacy my 3 month treatment (for a yucky toenail fungal infection) costs $119 * 3 = $357. Going through CVS (my Medco insurance plan through Oxford doesn't cover direct Medco mail order, so I have to order retail) costs $308 *3 = $924 .... My insurance will cover 1/2 of that.... $462.

Hmm. Going Canadian is saving me about 25%.

Wait a minute .... I just called my local CVS and they'll charge me $353 for a 1 month supply (not counting insurance). But CVS.com will charge me $307 + $1 shipping. That's $45 ($135 for a whole course of treatment) for nuthin'. Someone's making too much money here. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm in the wrong fuckin' business.

So, Canadian mail order saves me 66% off CVS retail, or 61% off CVS mail order. With my 50% copay insurance, Canadian mail order saves me 23% off CVS mail order. That's not as much savings as I originally thought... but it's still appreciated.

10-17-04

VC

I met VC in person last night. We had dinner and saw The Rivals. It went really well. :-)

Cemetery Plot

I just went with my father to the cemetery in Hackettstown.. Union Cemetery. He went ahead and bought 8 plots. We were both taken aback at the price of the lot... $4,000 gets a 16' by 20' foot space, 8 plots all together in 2 rows. That price also includes maintenance in perpetuity! That's lawn mowing, tree trimming, road maintenance, etc...  FOREVER. Like... in 1,000 years (assuming society exists) we should assume that our graves will be carefully mowed and landscaped.

With that kind of deal, I suggested that we make our front and back yard into a graveyard. What do you think?

C. Crane FMT Digital FM Transmitter with AC Adapter

I've been shopping for a mini-FM transmitter to send a signal from my PDA to my car's radio and I found this curiosity. :-)

Like all mini-FM transmitters in the US, it has been range-limited to about 30 feet. But this one has a variable resistor on the inside... With the turn of a screw you can go from a legal (and wimpy) 30 foot range to a respectable 175 feet.

Find it at Amazon
 

10-15-04

Giovanni's Restaurant, Dover NJ

I went to Giovanni's restaurant for my birthday with my parents... well, I tried to. We showed up on my birthday, Wednesday Sept 22nd and there was only 1 person there, the owner. He was very nice and all. He said it would be no trouble for him to turn on the lights and seat us. Yes, you heard me... turn on the lights. He motioned us over to the seats we were in last time as he switched on the lights in the place. I don't get it... seating for 120, excellent food and.... nobody was there.

It's kind of funny actually. I had called a few days earlier asking if I needed a reservation if we showed up on Wednesday night. He said something like, "No, you should be alright." Well, he was right.

I'm saddened because I went to this place a few months ago with PPG. There were only a few people in the place when we went back then but we were so hungry (and I had to pee soooooooo bad) that we stayed. The food was, in a word, perfect. He served us Italian standards in a straightforward manner, strachatelli, eggplant rolatini and a few other dishes. We were overpowered by just how.... fresh and ... correct... the food was. No curve-balls, no "Bam!" just unflinchingly perfect.

Rrrrrreww! This happens so often to me. I discover a good thing and it turns out that it's about to be closed. Earlier in September, I went to Montclair to see a play. Turns out the production company has just lost their lease and I was seeing one of the last performances. Hurumph.

I want to know what the story is behind this restaurant! Maybe I'll go down there sometime and ask.

So we got back in the car and my dad became the worst backseat driver... It was awful. I got my relief by playing the race card: they wanted me to pull over and ask for directions so I did. I asked two well dressed, articulate Hispanic men for directions. While we're talking, my mother starts yelling from the back seat to go because she's scared. Dad does the same thing. It was as though I had two screaming children in the car. She was banging against my seat and screaming. He was barking orders at me. And I was talking calmly to the nice gentlemen. He didn't know the restaurant but it was nice to have an intelligent conversation, albeit short with someone during my ordeal.

In case you're wondering, my defense for stopping and talking to these gentlemen was: They were well dressed. Their movements were completely unthreatening and well mannered, they spoke well (though with a strong Spanish accent), we were in an almost exclusively Columbian part of town, and I kept the car in gear, ready to pull away if need be (as I do with most car stops at night).

So we ended up going to Charlotte's Web restaurant. It wasn't awful. But as usual, they declared that this was some of the best food they had ever eaten in their lives. I spent the majority of the evening trying to not be smothered.

But I will say that my birthday cake was terrific. I told Noni that my favorite ice cream is ice cream sandwiches. So she bought some... and on my birthday, she made me a cake that is layers of ice cream sandwiches, Cool Whip and fudge. Yummy kudos!

10-14-04

Total Remodeling of Union NJ redux

I've gotten several emails from people saying how they found my site because I listed Total Remodeling's phone number. (Here's a reminder)

908-686-1443
Total Remodeling
Neil Parsons
1767 Rte. 22, West
Union, NJ 07083
Phone: 908-686-5788
Fax: 908-686-7810

I say to everyone that finds this message:

Tim Powers, GOH speech, Arisia '04

Tim Powers did the Guest of Honor speech at Arisia in January 2004. I've never read anything from him but I was really impressed with the talk. Here's one little anecdote that I made sure to remember. As a background, he has written quite a bit of spooky/horror/sci-fi. He was talking about why people are afraid of spooky things in books even though we all KNOW it's fiction.

I don't believe in ghosts but I'm still scared of them.

They did this experiment. Some 30,000 chickens grew up indoors on this farm for generation after generation. They hadn't seen so much as a tree or a bush or the sun in generations. So they took this cut-out of a hawk and ran it along a string across the top of the building. And all of the chickens went crazy, running for their lives.

So now if we could talk to one of those chickens and ask why she ran, she'd probably say, "I don't know man. But it really freaked me out!"

 

10-13-04

Canadian Drugs

My order from www.rx1.biz came in. They look like real pharmaceuticals.... If you don't see any journal entries from me in a month, then send someone to my house to check on me. $112 instead of $360, x 3 fills. Now I'll find out if my 50% copay on pharmaceuticals covers Canadian drugs too (I didn't call them yet because even if they don't honor the copay, the Canadian drugs are cheaper)

9-30-04

When late becomes early

I went into the city last nigh. Had a very nice time with Tara and Ross. And then I had to get home.....   I left at 1:40am or so. Waited at the 34th St PATH stop for 20 minutes, waited at Journal Square for 15 minutes, got to my car exhausted.. Made it 10 miles or so and pulled over to take a 10 minute nap; my eyes were so tired and dry! It felt like someone was rubbing sandpaper in my eyes as long as they were open. It was torture! After my nap, I made it another 10 miles before having to pull over... the sandpaper man was working overtime. Drinking lots of water helped a tiny bit, rubbing my eyes felt like... rubbing sandpaper in my eyes, turning the air conditioner on or off felt like I was changing the grit of the sandpaper. I stopped a couple more times. I got home at 5 fucking 30 in the morning. :-(((( Now here it is, 11am and I feel like I've been run over by a steam roller. This sucks. I tried loud music, pinching myself, heat, cold, singing loudly, pure concentration, naps, slapping myself, caffeine doesn't work.... I don't know what else to do. And the worst is, when I get out of the car, I feel awake again! I mean, if I had stayed home, I might have gone to bed at 2 or 3. It's like I've got automotive Seasonal Affective Disorder or something. Maybe I should shine lights on my face to wake up.

My time in the city was good. We tried the Kava Kava I had ordered from Hawaii. It was nice... a very similar feeling to when I was at Burning Man. That was good.

(No, it didn't make me any more sleepy than usual. I've had this sleepy-driver syndrome several times now)

9-29-04

I can't recommend CanadaPharmacy.com

9-16-04 Ordered a product online (at 70% off local prices). I had found the site from some official-ish Maine health care web site.

9-21-04 Sent email asking what's up.

9-22-04 Got email response

My name is Aleisha and I would like to thank you for your interest in CanadaPharmacy.com.

We received your prescription on Sept 20th and needed to confirm the date the prescription was written. We got confirmation from your Doctor and the order is now processing.

You will get an email when your order is shipped. It will contain the tracking information.

9-28-04 Sent email saying that I'd cancel my order if it didn't arrive by October 11th

9-28-04 They leave me a voice message to call them back.

9-29-04 I call back. They say, "We don't have it in stock and don't know when it's coming in. We'll cancel your order now."

:-(

Now I'm trying www.Canadadrugprices.com. Wish me luck. 

9-24-04

Professional driver. Shown with optional accessories. Closed Course. Do Not Attempt.

9-17-04

Desperately Seeking Burning Man

I desperately want to tell you, dear reader, all about Burning Man. It was such a huge moment. I'm building up a big thang with pictures (some 400 photos raw footage), stories, guides, all that jazz. So don't think that Total Remodeling of Union NJ has replaced in my mind the energy of Burning Man.

I'm already making an effort to shift my current world more into the world I saw in Black Rock City.

9-16-04

Total Remodeling of Union NJ is bad people

At 1:57pm today, 9-16-04, I got a call... Here's how it went:

[click click... autodialer pause]
Me: Hello?
Him: Hi, is this Mr. Sunco [slightly mispronounced]?
Me: Yes.
Him: "Hi, this is [I missed the name] from Total Remodeling. [Something about their company wanting to remodel my home].
Me: [putting on a chipper voice, hoping to scam the scammer] What was your name again?
Him: It's [grunt] [click. hangup]

Contact Information:
Total Remodeling
Neil Parsons
1767 Rte. 22, West
Union, NJ 07083
Phone: 908-686-5788
Fax: 908-686-7810

Me: Hi I was just on the phone with someone from Total Remodeling and we got disconnected.
Happy Woman's voice: Maybe I can help. What was this about?
Me: Actually, it was about an unsolicited call I got. You see, I'm on the National Do Not Call List.
Happy Woman's voice: Ok. Hang on just a minute.
[music on hold]
Greg: Hi, this is Greg. Can I help you.
Me: I just got a call from someone at Total Remodeling. The trouble is, I'm on the National Do Not Call List.
Greg: Sorry about that. We're still working the bugs out of that system. Are you at [he recites my phone number].
Me: Yes.
Greg: I'll make sure we take you off the list.
Me: Alright. Have a good day.

Me: Hi Greg, I just did a little homework and found that your company has been making unsolicited calls for a long while. You really shouldn't be doing that. So I filed a complaint at DoNotCall.gov and I'm making a web page to tell everyone about my experience with you.
Greg: Sorry you feel that way [or some non-descript apology like that]
Me: Bye. [hangup]


 

9-15-04

Kryptonite Locks

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=66128&page=1&pp=25

Ha.

The Kryptonite Evolution 2000 bike lock (with a $3,000 theft warrantee) can be defeated with a Bic pen in 10 seconds.

If you outlaw Bic pens, only outlaws will have Bic pens!

9-10-04

What is Burning Man?

Imagine every holiday you've ever experienced, every amusement park and every monument you've ever seen, all rolled up into one experience. No, I'm serious. Mention any of those things and I'll have a response.

TJIC said, "The Washington Monument."

 

Someone told me a story. I think this took place in 2003.

A man tried an experiment. He parked his car outside the gates of Burning Man, removed all of his clothes, identity, everything. He walked up to the gate with only his person and his ticket. He wanted to know if he could make it the entire week without anything but his self and the kindness of The Man. Happily, he had a fantastic time.

Email to Camparctica list

So there I was, standing in the ice truck in the middle of the desert, 92 degrees in the baking afternoon sun, quite chilled even with a sweater and hot chai in my hands after 3 hours of slinging. I love Camp Arctica! Thank you!

Email to NYC list

Subject: My Black Rock City experience

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful
Absurd, remarkable, scary, dusty, blinding, lonely, re-found, connected, wide-eyed, dizzying.
Fear of death, anxiety, released, spiritual, connected.
Wonderment, internal song opened up.
Wonderful, wonderful.


Repaired, destroyed, renewed, a child's happy thrill.
Possibilities for endless happiness hinted at and reminded of.


Lee / Connector

 

Email reply to CinemaGirl

(Background: many people were involved in negative threads about the burn on the NYC list today. Icky poop experiences, a weird vibe, unhappiness about tourists, supposed commercialization of the event, etc)

>did anyone offer up any suggestions for clearing playa brain?
>
>I have it really badly this year. I have been useless at work this week.
>Maybe I should have slept more between playa and working.
>
>Did anyone find a cure for this?


I've tried two strategies. One was working but the side-effects made me stop, the other is working pretty well.

First method: Read lots of negative comments about the burn. After an hour of reading, you should start getting angry, cynical, and closed. Side effect: the world becomes the unhappy place you thought it might be.

Second method: Smile, view photos of your second home, think about your second home often, and let the second world meld slowly into the first. Revel in it. Stay centered for a whole year. Side effect: people will keep telling you that you look different and you'll have to keep telling them about your experience.

 

9-9-04

I am a Burner

Just got back. Mind blown.

I'm a burner.

More details soon.

8-27-04

Windy Man

This was posted to the Burning Man NYC mailing list today. I'm flying to Reno tomorrow.

Plaid just got a call from a friend who is out on the Playa helping with infrastructure.

the latest report is that is has been raining so much in the last three days that there are only about 500 people out there. It has been too wet to drive on.
bring "wet shoes" and "dry shoes"


Strong winds have been reaching up to 100 miles per hour and blowing over the porta potties..

Bring extra "tiey-Down Stuff"

100 miles per hour?!?!?!?

One hundred miles per hour?!?!?

One. Hundred.

[Gulp]

8-26-04

Weird Allergy?

 I was at a client's (Ba. Wh.) yesterday and she offered me coffee with amaretto flavored liquid Coffee-Mate. After about 30 minutes and 3/4 of a cup, I felt like I had just mainlined 3 cups of coffee. I felt like I had to run around the block. My chest itched a bit and my whole body felt super-buzzy. I honestly didn't believe her when she told me it was decaf. But she showed me that the only coffee in the house was decaf! I had so much trouble concentrating and was so jittery, I couldn't focus on work at all. I left, walked all around the neighborhood. That helped only a tiny bit. I sat in my car for 30 minutes quietly and that helped a little. I went back in and worked on the computer for another 20 minutes but I couldn't continue and we called it a day.

I went home, had breakfast/lunch and sat around a bit and felt better after a while. Weird.

8-19-04

News Now

Mostly flying the Trick 1000

That crazy plane.. I've had some trouble with it.

First I tried flying it with one 10-cell KAN-1050-knockoff pack. For the first flight, I tried taking off from the landing gear. Blech. It rolled. It went up, it twisted, it went down. I went to launch it again but when I held it in my hands and gave it throttle, it made a funny low buzzing sound. As I was turning it off, I felt something hit the side of my neck in my hair. It was a screw from the motor mount! That was kind of weird since I think the screw had to of hit the prop and gone in a giant arc up and then down into my hair. And I even caught it. Cool. Weird. 

When I was putting it together, I had some trouble with the motor mount. See the drawing at the right. There is a mostly hollow rear motor mount (red) that's glued to the fuselage, and a front motor mount (green) that holds the motor with the two inner (purple) screws. Trouble was (so I thought) that 1 of the 4 screws that holds the front mount to the rear mount (teal) didn't go in tightly. I thought it would be alright. I was wrong. It is held in just with friction; the screws didn't have enough bite, the hole was too big... whatever the problem, it didn't stay in. So after my crash, I got out the CA glue!

It was suggested that instead of taxing, I should just toss it in the air. Gosh darn it if it didn't work. Problem #2 & 3 cropped up. The center of gravity was way too far back and it was porpoising. Also, I only got 3 minutes of battery life out of it. But it flew!

I got it down in a hurried state, way low on battery (the problem might have been that the speed control was set to turn off at the wrong voltage. I haven't had time to diagnose that yet... but I digress). It was a rough landing but in one piece. So I stuck 2 battery packs in parallel (I suspected I'd have to do this so I bought 4 packs, all the same :-) ). I brought it out to the field, got ready to toss it, reved it up and CRACK!

The foam forward of the motor mount (denoted in sad yellow) tore off! It wasn't glued in well enough from the factory! So that was that for my flying day. I got it home, took out the fiberglass tape and epoxy and went to town. The nose ain't falling off anymore! (See picture)

You'll also notice in the picture that the bottom screws are larger than the top screws. Well, both of them had started coming loose so I went goofy on it. I drilled out the holes a little larger, cut down some long screws and screwed them in the holes and then I epoxied the shit out of them! The little circles in the fuselage are toothpicks (slathered in epoxy) I drove into it to reinforce. You'll also notice the wear marks on the prop. It only got 1 more flight before cracking (I flew into a house... the house won)

Blah blah blah.... I got one 15 second flight out of it on Saturday morning. On board was 2 batteries, all the lighting, and the power module for the lighting. It's a heavy plane! It took off and I couldn't give enough right aileron to keep it up. I think the lighting was interfering with it. Nevertheless. It flew. Since I was out of time, I repaired the damage (House 1, Plane 0) and boxed it up for the trip to Burning Man.     No wait. It didn't fit in the box. I had to leave for the container in 30 minutes and I didn't have a box big enough for the tail section!! ACK! The boxes I thought would fit.... didn't I started driving toward the bike shop to make my own box out of a bike box.... then I turned around and started driving toward Hackettstown because it was closer, and "I would have to find something." And I turned home with a plan.

I took a utility knife to the epoxied tail. I took a screwdriver to the landing gear. And darnit, I made the plane flat. I made it fit in the hard case I found at a junk yard in Vermont that I had gotten for this very purpose. (Well, I was going to use it for the Projeti, but the Projeti didn't fit in it. It was only still in the garage because I didn't have time to get rid of it (and I was secretly thinking that I had to find SOME use for it. Well I did!))

I put the Trick 1000 in a box. Projeti in a box. Tools in a box, supplies in boxes. bike in a box. I strapped the bike box to the roof of the Jaguar (finally, a good use for the Jag!) and I was Brooklyn bound!

My main piece of art, what I've worked on for 50 hrs+ MIGHT fly. It MIGHT light up in the air (only briefly tested!). Then again, maybe it won't. Maybe it'll melt in the heat of the container. Maybe it'll rock.

 

Buying Last Minute Parts

Tuesday: I finished the plane! I put the batteries in. I tested the controls. ACK! One of the servos is bad! ACK! It takes 3 weeks for warrantee service! ACK! The nearest hobby store has recently proven that it regularly doesn't have the most essential supplies (last week I asked for Deans Ultra connectors and Zagi props. No go.) I called him up and PHEW, he had them. Grumble, grumble, I had to drive 30 minutes each way just for this little 0.2 oz part on Wednesday.

 

Making Ma'at in EL wire

She's done! Take a look by clicking on the thumbnail.

How: I got window weatherproofing plastic (it's lightweight and crystal clear. Thanks for the hint, oh my genius sister!) and 3M packing tape. As I'd go along, I'd shape the EL wire and then tape it to the plastic.

I ran into some weirdness when I tried to run some of the EL wires in parallel. Depending on how I did the positive and negatives, sometimes they'd light in parallel, sometimes not.  Sometimes the brightness would be affected, sometimes not. I think the power supply didn't like having 3 in parallel. I found one configuration that worked by putting some in series...

Pulling a mostly-nighter for Ma'at

3 hrs sleep on Friday night, from 6am to 9am. I even woke up before my alarm at 9:20. I only do that for things I enjoy on a subconscious level. Otherwise, I'd sleep through even an earthquake. 

Seeing Jen et all in CT

I hadn't seen Jen & Michael in something like 2 years. Little Michael celebrated his first birthday party in Connecticut. I was there. It was good. :-)  There were some NERO folks there too. Good fun.

Seeing Rush in concert

With Stevie! They were fantastic. Stevie said it was the best concert he had ever been to. We both got excited and nervous at the same time when they opened with a medley of old tunes that we both knew and loved. "Uh oh. Is this one song their homage to the first 15 years of the band? Is the rest of the concert going to be jammed with stuff we've never heard?" Well, we weren't disappointed in the slightest. The show was a mix of old and new and darnit if every single song they played sounded like a super-hit to my ears. It was like a 3 hr "Best of" show.... Most bands don't have 3 hours of best-of material. But they did! :-)

After intermission, their second song was Tom Sawyer, I called Trav (who should have gone, he really should have) and held up the phone. It sounded a little like this.

Rush at Saratoga Springs, Monday August 9th, 2004!

Don't they sound great on my cell phone?

Seeing Stevie in Albany

It was great seeing Stevie, Kim and Benjamin! :-)

Becoming an international art model

PPG and I were models for an Argentinian artist in Brooklyn in the spring. She did this photo novella of us, playing out a story. The art is really quite good and it's currently on display in Buenos Aires!

Shara's birthday party

She had her last birthday party at her old place at Grove Street... She bought an apartment! Another fun party I went to in the last couple weeks! She's good. Her friends are good.

Flaming Lithium Polymer Chunks

The guy at Zeppelin Hobbies told me why they don't allow Li-Poly batteries at model car races. They don't just burn, they throw burning chunks several feet. Cool. Imagine one battery blowing up and lighting all the neighboring cars on fire. Rinse and repeat. How's that for adding an element of danger to models? Cool.

8-16-04

The book meme

This memelet has been going around the blogosphere forever (which is to say, for half a year, or so):

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 23.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

First horrified, then indignant, Cayley placed her hands firmly on her hips and declared "This is not America!"

From "Fair Play" by Steven E. Landsburg.

News soon

I'm finally pulling my head out of my frantic Burning Man preparations. I'll soon tell you about

But I'll start with sleep, beautiful sleep.

 

8-6-04

Big Brother on the Mass Pike

When I was up in Boston for a visit in July, I saw something that made me very uncomfortable. Just east of exit 73, Stafford Springs on the Mass Pike, I looked up and saw that there were what looked very much like high speed EZ-Pass readers hanging from a road structure over two of the three lanes. About 50 yards later, there appeared to be a radar gun hanging from another structure. Another 100 yards later, there was another radar-gun looking device. I wonder what that was for.

Big Brother is watching!

Why was this system only in place on the slow and middle lanes? Trucks are prohibited from the fast lane so this might be for tracking trucks. I still don't like it one bit.

7-25-04

Goings on..

I'm finally pretty good at flying the Projeti. It still scares me on take off but it's such a beautiful thing once it's off the ground. My fav: take off at 3/4 throttle. Gain enough speed to fly stable. Quickly verify trim. Full throttle. Climb out at 80 degree angle up to 400 ft, like a frigging spaceship!

New plane has arrived. I haven't gotten to assembling it yet.

I was planning on replacing the defective hard drive in my Tivo with another myself but I just don't have the time to spare. So I bought a pre-configured drive from PTV Upgrade. It works wonderfully. The new drive is whisper quiet, 160 gig (Tivo can only use 137 gig for a total of 140 hrs on Basic mode) and it installed in 10 minutes. I'm quite happy so far!

I have health insurance for the first time in about 1 1/2 years. Of course, the $2,500 deductible makes me frown though.

My aunt is asking me to help her start a new community newsletter like The Panther. That'll be good.

I went on a date with someone from Match.com. It went really well. We'll see...

7-19-04

Poopy on the Potty

Julia is a big girl now. She goes poopy on the potty.

Listen.

I'm so proud!

7-15-04

Mountain Bike

The bike for Burning Man is sweet. It's in my back seat right now. From the ad:

MOUNTAIN BIKE, 7 spd Trek, Antelope 820, used 3 times $99.

(It's actually a 21 speed, but that's ok) And it was exactly as advertised.

Modeling

I went into the city to pick up the final artistic results of a modeling session I did with PPG a few months ago. The show is going to open in Buenos Aries in August. It's quite a stunning piece. I'm happy and honored to be a part of it.

 

7-13-04

The Want Ads Press

I'm buying a used mountain bike for Burning Man through the Want Ad Press. So much for the miracle of eBay. Actually, the problem with eBay here is: 1 - It's hard to examine the merchandise online. 2 - shipping for a bike is like $50... 1/2 the selling price of the bike!

 

7-10-04

My Style of Humor

This sign and more here. Many of the others gave me a big smile too.

Burning Man Flight Reservation

My reservation is booked, flying Continental Airlines
(all times local)
CO5653 leaving Newark at 6:05am, Aug 28th for Detroit (DTW)
CO6639 leaving Detroit at 9:00am
arriving Reno 10:32am

CO6510 leaving Reno (RNO) at 12:10pm, Sept 8th for Minneapolis (MSP)
CO5208 leaving Minneapolis at 6:53pm
arriving Newark 10:33pm

Projeti Flight!

See my flying journal

7-1-04

Photo Credit

The Burning Man........ burning. From Steve's Fotografik Rephlux - Burning Man 2003