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Lee's Journal

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June '03 --> July '03
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Click here to comment on the June-July 2003 Journal. [] comments so far.


Understandable Statistics

My Statistics textbook, "Understandable Statistics, 7th Edition" by Brase and Brase is an AWFUL TERRIBLE WORTHLESS PIECE OF CRAP. There are so many things wrong with this book I'm going to turn this journal entry into a rant shortly. Suffice to say for now that this book should never be used in a statistics classroom. Never. I'm not joking in the slightest here.


AH! Get it off!

This has disturbed me to no end.   So I share it with you!

Here is, without doubt, the coolest PC-related illusion, i've come across.
To enjoy it, just follow the instructions:

1) Relax and lazily stare at the 4 tiny dots in the picture below, for at least 30-45 seconds.

2) Slowly, shift your gaze from the screen to a wall near you.

3) You will see a circle of light formed on the wall.

4) Start blinking and continue till u see a figure within the circle.

5) What do u see? Rather whom do u see?

I tried this a couple of times, to reconfirm.. man o man... freaky!


Freaked out?

Yea. Me too.


Sci-Fi Auction

A whole lot of sci-fi (and some other) memorabilia is being auctioned off on eBay. Most of the items are expensively out of my reach... But if I won the lottery today, here's what I'd buy: Link to My Auction Wish List

I also took this opportunity to build-up my Colonel Deering shrine a bit. Link to my Colonel Deering Shrine

A very nice Tivo Mod: SORT

You can sort the entries in the Now Playing List
In Now Playing, Enter:   (S)low (0)Zero (R)ecord (T)humbsUp

Press enter to switch sorting options.

Short cut keys are
1 for normal
2 for expiration date
3 for alphabetical

Mr. Lee!

One, two, three. Hey!
Look at Mr. Lee
Three four five. Hey!
Look at him jive
Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee, hup!
Mr. Lee
Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee, hup!
Mr. Lee
Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee, hup!
Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee-ee-ee

View all of the lyrics


Went to Shara's birthday party in Jersey City last night. Fun and good stories. :-)


Hydrogen Power

Hydrogen power appears just about inevitable. Here's a good pro-hydrogen paper I found mentioned on the EV mailing list. The original is on this site.


My cousin had a baby today! Woo hoo!


What Prevents People from Listening?

Our development hired people to power-wash the exterior of all the homes. Yesterday, the association stuck a note in our door saying that we had to remove all the furniture from our deck and take off all the window screens.

So why did I have to argue with my family about moving the furniture? It went something like this:

"Dad, help me move this planter inside"
"No, we don't have to move that. It's too heavy. They'll just push it around when they get here."
"I don't think so. The letter said to move everything. What about the table and chairs there?
"They'll move that too."
"But Dad, look over there next door. See how they took all the furniture off the deck and it's sitting on the grass? We're going to have to have to do that too. The letter told us to move everything."
"No we won't. Don't worry. We weren't even here when they did it last year."
I start moving the planter inside. "Give me a hand here."
"No! They'll do it."
"Dad, go inside."

I moved most of the planters by myself.

Ten minutes later, I was out on the other porch and I was a fool. I tried to have a conversation about what to do with the gas grill. I said, "Now I'm just thinking here... maybe we could unhook the gas and they could roll it around the porch when they're cleaning it. I'm not going to try to roll it inside."
After reading the letter, looking at all the neighbors' homes, and watching me move stuff for a few minutes, he replies, "Just leave it."
"Dad, get out of here."

I went downstairs and started moving items out from under the upstairs porch. While I was doing this, a workman standing at the next house saw that the planters had been moved inside but the furniture was still on the porch. He said in his broken English and waving his hands to help get the point across, "We going to lunch now. You move that, up there [pointing to the furniture]."
I came back with a nice smile, and pointing to help get the point across as well, "After lunch, we'll move that off the porch together?" He nodded and smiled. A few minutes later, they went off to lunch.

While I was still moving stuff,  my next-door neighbor came out to look at his 3/4 power-washed house. I've known him for a few weeks and he's pretty nice. But today he was a grumpy old man. He gripes at how they missed some spots and how the workmen are no good. I point out that they only stopped for lunch. He gripes at how they dirtied up the windows with the water (yes, he was complaining about water on the outside of his windows). I tell him that they're here to do power-washing, not windows. He still gripes. I look closer and point out how they have power-washed one of the windows and it looks really good; ,"hopefully they'll do the other windows when they come back from lunch." He gripes at that.

He asks me if they're going to paint the windowsills. I say, "I don't remember, I think it's in that thing they slipped in our door. I know they're going to seal the deck." He says what a pain it was to get the screens off and asks if they're going to paint the sills. I say, "I don't know. It's written in the contract what they're going to do." My dad pokes his head out and I ask him to check the paper and see if they're going to paint the sills. He goes and says that yes, they will. I point out the one screen he couldn't get off, saying that they won't be able to do as good a job painting the sills with that screen on. That they might get brown paint on the white screen and that wouldn't look good at all. He says that he doesn't care. I smile and nod that neighborly smile and nod.

I then took another 20 minutes walking around the whole house, removing screens and moving planters and such away from the house.

An hour later, I'm downstairs on my computer and I hear a higher-than-normal-pitched cry from my mother, "Lee! Can you come up here?" I get up there and the two of them are out on the front steps. She starts in on me in a nasty accusatory fast-paced yell, "You were supposed to move all this stuff! Why didn't you move all this! Now we've got to move it before they come. What were you thinking?"
I had had it. First I get yelled at to not move stuff, now I'm getting yelled at because I should move stuff. Even though... get this... I -did- move everything.  So I turned it on and redoubled her nasty tone and pace, "I did move everything. LOOK! Do you see how everything is away from the wall they're going to power-wash? I moved all that! Look. They are going to power-wash this wall [touching the shingled wall] and they are not going to wash this wall [touching the stone wall across from it with some planters lined up against it]. I'm done." She kept silent. I went back inside.

Humans That Fail the Turing Test

I went to bCentral looking for a discussion mailing list for the PVPOA. While I was there, a popup said that a person would love to live-chat with me and solve all my problems. I took them up on the offer. I started chatting with "Micky". After just a few exchanges, I got this feeling like I was talking to Eliza. You remember Eliza... the first electronic psychologist. Here, feel the creepiness for yourself:

Thank you for contacting Microsoft bCentral.
Below is a copy of our transcript.

Topic: I would like to have an automated announcement mailing list and a discussion mailing list. Each for about 200 people. Can bCentral do this for me and for how much?

Micky Hello Lee. I'm Micky. Welcome to bCentral live support.
Micky I've received your question and am glad to assist you.
Lee Hi Micky!
Micky In order to serve you effectively, I'd need further clarification about your issue. [Notice how she didn't mention what she needed clarification on? Suspicious!]
Lee I'm looking for a mailing list manager service like Majordomo or Listserv...
Micky Okay. Please continue, Lee.  [If this isn't Eliza talking, them I'm a schnauzer with a limp.]
Lee Micky, are you a real human?
Micky Yes, I'm a real person out here. [you KNOW that was a canned response! Ha! Eliza says exactly the same thing!]
Micky What I've understood so far, is that you need a service that would help you manage your mailing list.  [Obvious bad AI. The program constructed the sentence. It's totally canned right up until "need".]
Micky Am I correct in saying so? [Automated psycho-babble filler.]
Lee Yes. exactly.
Micky Thanks for the confirmation. [...]
Micky Well, bCentral does provide a service - List Builder, that enables you to manage your mailing list, in order to send email newsletters to potential subscribers.  [That's almost what I asked... A human would have been more specific.]
Lee How can I find out more info about it? Is there a website?
Micky With List Builder service, you'd receive tools that can make launching an e-mail marketing campaign a snap.  [Captain, all power to the main sales guns!]
Micky Sure. Here is a page that provides detailed information about this bCentral service.
Micky Lee, I've sent across the page that has details about the features as well as pricing of List Builder service.
Micky It should appear to the left of our chat window.
Lee You know, this conversation is pretty weird. You're only getting a C- on the Turing Test. Thanks for the address.
Micky I'm sorry about not being able to promptly answer your questions. [Again, Eliz.. Micky almost understood the question. Context is a difficult mistress.]
Micky Lee, as far as the other question is concerned about managing a 'discussion mailing list' could you please elaborate about this, so that I could assist you appropriately?  [Wow, this question gets me really excited about AI. "Micky" was able to parse my initial query and knew  that I wanted two things.]

[at this point, I accidentally got bumped off the system. My fault.]

Micky YOur response will help me to assist you better.
Micky I really don't intend to rush you through this, but, I haven't heard back from you since quite some time.
Micky Are you there online with me?
Micky It seems that you've been disconnected from this chat session.
Micky You can always contact our Presales team via phone at the number for further information about this service, before signing up.
Micky The number is 1-866-bCentral (1-866-223-6872), Monday-Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Pacific time. It is a Toll Free Number.
Micky I'm sorry for not being able to assist you any further.
Micky Feel free to login again for assistance.
Micky I'm sorry that we couldn't finish our discussion, Lee. Thanks for coming to bCentral Live Support. Please come back if you need assistance again. Have a nice day!  [I wish this session had timestamps. I'd bet that this closing monologue would have had stamps like 17:34:06, 17:34:11, 17:34:16, 17:34:21...]


Since I got bumped before getting the info I needed, I jacked in again.

Thank you for contacting Microsoft bCentral.
Below is a copy of our transcript.

Topic: Does bCentral offer disscusion mailing list services? IE. I want to be the administrator of a discussion mailing list powered by Majordomo or Yahoo Groups or Listserv

Lee Ah, Micky. We got disconnected. Sorry!
Micky Hello Lee. I'm Micky. Welcome back to bCentral live support. [Eliza's intersession memory really startled me the first time I saw it. It's a nice trick.]
Micky No problem.
Micky I've received your question and am looking forward to assist you again. [Canned up to "to"]
Lee Go on...  [I got into the Eliza act. Of course what I SHOULD have said was, "Tell me about your assist you again."]
Micky Pertaining to your question, I'd need further clarification about what you exactly are you referring to by saying 'discussion mailing list'. [Proof that this AI isn't sophisticated enough yet. This should have been in Micky's database as a virtually 100% confirmed keyword.]
Micky Is it that you wish to hold discussions amongst a group of subscribers?
Lee Yes.
Micky Thanks for the confirmation.
Micky Please give me a couple of minutes to look into this request and assist you accordingly. [Just like old Star Trek. "Working.... working...." hehe. Nice touch!]
Lee OK. I'll be here.
Micky Thanks.
Micky Thanks, once again. Pertaining to the feature you are looking for, about managing discussion lists, bCentral does provide a service - Sharepoint team service.
Lee Oh good. Tell me more!  [I should have known better. "Tell me more!" gets translated into "Switch to verbose mode," and no AI is good enough to do a good verbose mode yet. They always sound like they're getting wildly off-topic.]
Micky With Sharepoint team services, you'd be able to manage an Intranet website, wherein you could manage discussions. However, these discussions, wouldn't be identical to interactive chats.
Micky These discussions would be something like this. You'd post a topic for discussing, and authenticated users would be able to post their comments about this topic.
Micky Lee, the main administrator would be able to view the domments posted by all participants for these discussions.
Micky Although, I'd like to clarify that you'd either be able to limit the maximum number of authenticated users to 20.
Micky Alternatively, you'd be able to enable 'anonymous access settings' and then, more than 20 users could participate in this discussion, However, you'd not be able to determine the name of these anonymous users in case 'Anonymous access settings' are enabled.
Micky For further information, you might want to review the page providing additional details about this bCentral service.
Lee Ok... the limitations sound a bit weird but I'm still listening....  [What I SHOULD have said was, "For the love of all life in the universe, end verbose mode! Begin terse mode!]
Lee I'm looking into the SharePoint site now.
Micky Here's the page for you.
Micky It would appear to the left of our chat window.
Micky Lee, you might want to review this page in detail at a later time.
Micky For your convenience, our entire chat transcript would be emailed to you, as soon as this session ends. So, you'd be able to access all this information.
Lee I'm not looking for groupware... I don't think bCentral is for me.
Micky Well, I'm sorry to learn that the features provided as of now, are not upto your expectations.
Micky We really appreciate the time you've taken to help us know the opportunities to improvise our services.  [Even computers give you "Dear John" letters when they realize they can't get anything out of you.]
Micky Lee, bCentral works to add new features and services that would benefit all business owners.
Micky Thanks for your valuable feedback!
Micky Do let me know if there is any other information pertaining to bCentral, I could provide you with.
Micky Thanks for your valuable time. Feel free to login again for assistance.
Micky Thanks for using bCentral Live Support. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Have a great day! Bye Lee, take care.




My Pencil Crashed!

Technology has run amok. I was furiously taking notes at a meeting of the PVPOA (I'm working on getting them email mailing lists) and.... the best way to describe it is that my pencil crashed. It's a fancy mechanical pencil... a Paper Mate Titanium 0.5mm to be exact. I got it special because the tip retracts so it doesn't poke through your pocket. The main trouble is that it pushes too much lead out each time you click it. So my point broke and I clicked it again quickly since I was in a hurry and SNAP. I tried again, clicking more carefully but still in a hurry. SNAP. Again, SNAP. ARGH!

I'm happy with my Pentel Twist-Erase 0.5mm QE515 but the point makes it so that I don't dare put the thing in a pocket for fear of being given a graphite injection! It's happened before and it sucked.


  Did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?
  Link is to a short (.9 meg) QuickTime movie of Julia.






I had a GREAT time watching combat in the Poconos on Sunday. And then Julian introduced me to family. They gave us dinner, we played MS Flight Simulator, talked about much, and had a great all-around time! To borrow a phase, Woot!


Today's wisdom:

About his clothing designs, Ralph Lauren said in a radio interview, "People want to experience a sense of history and connectedness to their roots." Of course, Ralph was born 'Ralph Lifshitz'. This idea relates to what's behind the J. Peterman catalog. They manufacture obviously imaginary history while Ralph Lauren's worn polos and broken-in jeans make a more real connection to... an imaginary history. And people eat it up!


My niece being eaten by a cat. Isn't it precious?! (click to enlarge) Thanks to Melis for the photo.

ATTACK-KITTEN.jpg (126567 bytes)


Wish me luck

Today I put a classified ad in the local community's monthly newspaper. This comes just one issue after I had a photo and 1/2 page article saying how I was the webmaster of the local community's website.

I have 20 years experience helping people with computer troubles. I even make house calls! I can show you how it works or just make it work. From setting up your VCR to installing a new Operating System. I can help you fix your computer or help get a new one, install software & hardware, show you eBay, Amazon, online communities, bill paying services… Anything! Several happy clients in The Valley. Lee C. Sonko, [phone number], [email address]


I spent a couple days down the shore with my family this past weekend. We have the place for a whole week but I had to come back Tuesday to ace my Statistics quiz & test (but that's another story). By far the best part of the weekend was playing Big Ben Riskopoloy with Jason and Derek on Sunday night. We were talking about favorite board games... Risk and Monopoly came up and wouldn't go back down again. "Let's play both!" We didn't have a Risk board but an old Monopoly set materialized. So we used pieces from a Big Ben jigsaw puzzle and borrowed dice from a nearby game of Yahtzee that my mom and Dorothy were playing.

We figured out the rules as we went along and they worked out awesome!

Rules to Big Ben Riskopoly

Start with a Monopoly board, you'll also need 3 extra dice (Monopoly only has 2) and a jigsaw puzzle.
Your playing piece acts as the General in your army... read on.
Pieces move around the board just like in Monopoly except
    - The player may choose the direction of motion at each roll.
    - If a piece ends up on a railroad, on the next turn, the player may choose to take the "underground railroad" to any of the other railroad stations. Changing stations doesn't take-up any die-roll motion.

When you buy a piece of land (as per Monopoly), you can now buy armies to defend it (as per Risk). Armies cost $50 apiece. If you own a whole set of lands (IE Boardwalk and Park Place) you get a certain number of armies per turn:

Owning all of a set of properties on the first side earn 1 extra army per turn. Owning a set on the second side earns 2 armies per turn. Third side earns 3 armies per turn. Pacific, North Carolina & Pennsylvania will earn you 4 armies per turn. Boardwalk and Park Place will earn you 5 armies per turn.

If you manage to put hotels on a whole set, your properties earn DOUBLE the number of armies per turn (It's strange how some of the guests mysteriously disappear from the hotel, isn't it?)

Armies are represented by jigsaw pieces. Choose the color of the pieces carefully so there's no confusion as to the owner of an army.

Armies can come onto the board on any property that you own. To attack, your armies must either be in a neighboring property or they can be paratroopered in to any spot that the General is currently on from anywhere on that same side of the board. To move armies normally, they use the railroads. Since they take the slow troop transport train, they take an extra turn to get through the railroads.

If you own the Electric Company, you can flip the power switch on the (electric) railways at the end of your turn. If you own Water Works, you can turn off all the water, dehydrating the world. This kills one army per player per turn.

The rules go on.. but you get the idea, don't you?    It was a riot playing and making up fair rules as we went along.



That's just crazy talk! Weeeeee!  I have seen the future of the web, and it is a talking dog.

William Paterson offers a 33 credit masters program at $358/credit... That's $12,000 (much cheaper than Centenary's $600/credit or ESU's $450/credit for PA residents. Actually, if I attended ESU full-time, the cost could fall to as low as $410/credit but I wouldn't survive a 15 credit/semester course load).

That's 2 full-time semesters and 1 full-time summer at William Patterson. Or if I'm working, 4 half-time semesters and 2 half-time summers. If I start in September 2003, I'll have a degree in September 2005, just in time for my 36th birthday.

Today's spam poetry

Subject: fefx Whät wömën say -vs- whät they dö!

regulate kQ-U8E cheek 1q--fml
[an image talking about an Herbal Viagra Alternative - Lee]
1c-RKNJ6 obviate Sa-S7RU-QuI lavage

Here's a word definition to help you discover this poem:

Lavage: A washing, especially of a hollow organ, such as the stomach or lower bowel, with repeated injections of water.


The battle of the political titans continues!

I had written to the ARL moderator, CC:ing Paul:

>Paul , Lee, please take this offlne.

I apologize. I felt that Paul's unprovoked attack on my character needed a rebuttal. My interest is still only in the topic at hand, H1215.

Paul writes back just to me, all politic-ing slick-like

With all due respect, I never realized that the following items were
personal attacks:

1. Residency in the State of New Jersey. (I moved here from New
Jersey in 1989, my mother's family is from New Jersey, and I like the

2. Your political leanings, relevant in a political argument.

3. Your friendship with Travis.

All of which, I believe, are well documented by entries on your website.

I will not engage in long political discourse with non-residents on the
Arlington list, as I believe people should have the standing of tasting
the benefits or pain of the political decisions in order to engage in
the conversation. I also think it would have been fair to the list to
disclose your residency before engaging in commentary on Arlington

And, yes, I am a liberal. Please note that, as an officer in the
Massachusetts Association of School Committees, I advocate positions of
interest to a statewide constituency, regardless of impact on any one
municipality. H1215 is consistent with my association's desire to have
stable and reliable funding for public schools.

All power to the main deflectors!

>With all due respect, I never realized that the following items were
>personal attacks:

Dude, we both know exactly what you were trying to do.

>I will not engage in long political discourse with non-residents on the Arlington list

Unless you disagree with my points specifically, my questions about the bill are valid, no matter where they come from. If you don't address them, they will continue to drag your bill down. If you want to help Massachusetts schools and teachers get the money you think they should get, you'll address the questions.

>H1215 is consistent with my association's desire to have
>stable and reliable funding for public schools.

But if critics (like me) poke gaping holes in it's language and you can't mend the holes, then public opinion will likely turn against the bill. And that won't help your cause.

I should also say that other ARL posters have written similarly critical messages about H1215 in the past few days. You've got to stand on your own here but you might be able to give this a positive spin... if you quit with the petty personal-character attacks and issue-dodging. Right now, it's not looking so good.

So, take your time, think it through and answer the questions:
- Didn't the override vote fail? So what is Override v2.0 doing in the House?
- Doesn't this bill take a major and permanent bite out of 2.5?

I'll be waiting for your response on ARL.



Today's spam poetry:

Subject: Gouranga

Call out Gouranga be happy.
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga.
Say Gouranga my friend.
Gouranga....That which brings the highest happiness.

No, I have no clue.


I had a fun altercation on the ARL list today. In response to the override failing, Paul Schlichtman (President-Elect, Massachusetts Association of School Committees) introduced a bill in the MA House of Representatives (not under his own name of course). It would allow the 2.5% per year limit on MA government tax increases to be gotten around if the spending was for schools.

I wrote to the list:

Didn't the override vote fail? So what is Override v2.0 doing in the House, besides taking up legislators' time?

His terse response:

Mr. Sonko, you can write your legislators, though this is not a hotly debated issue in Trenton.

(his implication was: You don't live in Arlington. You are irrelevant. Go away.)

 So I turned on the heat and closed the windows:

We're not talking about Trenton, we're talking about Arlington. Paul, you seem to have a stake in this so I'll ask you directly: why is is Override v2.0 in the House at all? Wasn't the override defeated?

I suppose that your .sig. goes a significant way toward answering my questions.
>Paul Schlichtman
>President-Elect, Massachusetts Association of School Committees
>Vice-Chair, Arlington School Committee
>Population 42,389, 5.05 sq. mi., enrollment 4,470
> &

I've been re-reading the proposed law. Although I'm not a legislator, it looks like it's been designed to replace school money that "should" have come from the state, but didn't... and instituting a local tax to replace that money.

But the whole idea of 2.5 is to prevent government sprawl by causing a budget crunch if government grows too fast. This budget crunch was directly caused by 2.5. In this case, schools were hit hardest. Local government could have moved a column of numbers, saving the schools and causing problems with police, fire, and library. SOMETHING had to give and it did. 2.5 did it's job.

So next year, when the police department wants a new cruiser, all the mayor has to do is take the money out of schools, declare a school budget emergency, raise taxes (via the new law), and bingo, a new cruiser.

Now I'll grant that the new law can only be abused so much... "the difference between the minimum required contribution and the the town's local contribution in 1993." But this year, it can be said that the level of abuse would top $6 million dollars. That's a lot of cruisers.

That doesn't sit well with me.

So I ask again:
why is is Override v2.0 in the House at all? Wasn't the override defeated?

My source material:

Paul's message:
> Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in
> General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
> Paragraph (f) of section 21C of chapter 59 of the General Laws as
> appearing in the 2000 Official Edition is hereby amended by adding
> after the word "revenue", in line 58, the following words:- plus the
> difference between the minimum required local contribution prescribed
> under chapter 70 for the current fiscal year and the municipality's
> local contribution in fiscal year nineteen hundred and ninety-three as
> defined in chapter 70 section 2.

The current laws

Paul turned on the Flame Thrower (in a closed room! The fool!):

Dear Mr. Sonko:

The reason you should be talking Trenton is that you appear to be a resident of the State of New Jersey. According to the journal on your website, you are complaining that you do not qualify to get a teachers' certificate in New Jersey. (6/19/2003). Your journal also references a callback from Assemblywoman Connie Myers (a Republican from the 23rd district in Hunterdon County NJ). You state on March 26, 2003 that you joined the Hackettstown NJ Chess Club.

I do not think you have any connection to the Town of Arlington, except for the link to one Travis James Ignatius Corcoran on your friends page, fourth line:
Travis also has you at the top of his list of friends, described as, "A friend of the highest caliber. I've known Lee since fourth grade. He was two years older than me then. He still is. Grrrrrrrr.."

According to your politics page, you are a Libertarian. Thus, you seem to be seeking to inject your political philosophy into a town and a state in which you do not reside.

So, I repeat, I suggest if you have comments on state legislation, you should feel free to call Assemblywoman Connie Myers, Assemblyman Michael Doherty, and Senator Leonard Lance; you can reach them in Trenton. Join the Hackettstown e-list. And have a nice life down there in the Garden State.

Silly Paul, I was already wearing my asbestos underwear from my last post!

>you appear to be a resident of the State of New Jersey.

I am at that.

Being a NJ resident bars me from voting in Arlington but does not bar me from discussing Arlington politics, Arlington bug spray, or whatnot.

My posts on the list have been and continue to be on-topic. I refer to the list's FAQ, "...information relevant to the residents of Arlington, Mass...". I also believe my posts to be reasonably well informed. If you disagree, please say so.

I think that your attempt at character assassination isn't going so well.

Since you've taken the time to research my journal (found at, cross reference my friendship with TJIC, and post a vitriolic letter about me, could also please take the time to answer my first question?

Paul, didn't the override vote fail? So what is Override v2.0 doing in the House?

In my further considerations about House 1215, it occurs to me that this would be the equivilant of a PERMANENT override for EVERY town in Massachusetts when it comes to school budgets. Furthermore, it seems that it opens a loophole that takes a major bite out of 2.5. That's casting a pretty wide net, isn't it? Paul, could you please address those potential issues?

If 2.5 is so bad, then maybe a vote to repeal it should be put up.


I followed up a little while later with a more personal message to the list. The last part is quite introspective:

Paul, I'd like to answer the more comments you made about me in your post:

>According to the journal on your website, you are complaining that you
>do not qualify to get a teachers' certificate in New Jersey. (6/19/2003)

Yup. it's been a career changing nightmare for me for the last year and a half.

>Your journal also references a callback from
>Assemblywoman Connie Myers (a Republican from the 23rd district in
>Hunterdon County NJ).

Actually, she's an Assemblywoman in Warren County but I see how her homepage might make you think otherwise.

>According to your politics page, you are a Libertarian. Thus, you seem
>to be seeking to inject your political philosophy into a town and a
>state in which you do not reside.

I don't understand the connection that you make. "Thus" doesn't make any sense in your argument. But I'll go ahead and explain a little bit about my Libertarianism....
As my page says, I call myself a "soft libertarian". When looking at a situation, I find myself keeping in mind the philosophical bent of libertarian thinking. I'm definitely not a strict Democrat or Republican. Mostly because falling into either camp picks up way too much baggage... I.E. being Republican means being pro-life and pro-death penalty, two contradictory things... and not for any solid reasoning. I like the "feel" of libertarianism added to the mix of political thought. It helps me think out my position on issues. I use libertarian thought as a tool to carefully think out my position on issues. But I definitely would not want to live in a country completely controlled by a libertarian government!

I could write a lot more about this, but again, as my politics page says, "I could talk for a while about this but I've got more important things to do than argue over the internet. I'd rather yell at you in person."

>I do not think you have any connection to the Town of Arlington

I left my heart in Arlington. It's a long story going back to 1987 when I started Tufts and found myself in proximity to some of the most lovely and historic cities in the country. Several friends live (or lived) there, a very serious (ex-) girlfriend lived on Cleveland street. Arlington has always been a state of mind for me. It's important. I left Boston a few years ago but I still reminisce about it and think about going back. I think the main reason I haven't is that there are too many ghosts of my past that reside there. I want to live in Boston but I can't. ARL lets me connect with Arlington without the discomfort of staring-down those ghosts every day.


So far, the feedback on the list has been a mix of positive and negative. I received a private message from someone saying:

I appreciate you pursuing an explanation from Paul. I am anxious to hear his answer.

It's very nice to hear that my words are valuable! I thanked the author profusely. Another poster (Lori Vollers Uhland) wrote to the list saying that he hadn't dissed me. Yea, whatever. And another (Jerri Newman) said, because I was geographically challenged, "I am not interested in this or anything else you have to say". Yea, whatever.


I can probably become a teacher in Florida. Of course, the starting salary sucks. $25k to start, $38k average. NJ would have been $31k starting, $52k average.


I went to the movies Wednesday night. I saw the first 35 minutes of "2 Fast 2 Furious". It was 2 brainless 2 boring. The producer/mechanic forgot that they needed a script, forgot that a buddy film needs buddies, a cops and robbers film needs cops (and robbers), a good-guy bad-guy movie needs good guys AND bad guys. Either the movie was playing to a fantastically advanced moral and ethical subtext, or maybe it was just stupid. I can only watch a speedometer rev from 100 to 160 in Furious-vision so many times before my brain goes numb. (Do these guys -ever- decelerate?) I'd like to live in their world; No matter how fast you're driving, or even if you're not driving at all, all you have to do to underscore your point is is downshift forcefully.

I walked out of 2 Fast 2 Furious and in on Dumb and Dumberer. The title doesn't disappoint. Except for some ridiculousness issues, it was moderately mindlessly funny. An example of ridiculousness: Harry smeared chocolate all over a bathroom and the owner thought it was poop. A few scenes later, the supposedly intelligent owner had cleaned it up but apparently not figured out that it wasn't poop. But hey, it IS called "Dumb and Dumberer"...

I also snuck in on the last 10 minutes of Bruce Almighty. Sappy, stupid.   And I saw the last 20 minutes of Finding Nemo. I couldn't get a good read on the film from just the ending... Disneyesque?

Here is a great take on The Matrix Reloaded. From  Thanks to jwz for the pointer.


Last night I went to the New Pathways for Teaching information session. I was told in no uncertain terms from the head of the program that in order for me to get a teachers certificate in New Jersey with my low college GPA, I will first need to get a masters degree.

I'm lost.

I refuse to spend $30,000 and 1 1/2 years taking classes to prove to do something that I am already completely qualified to do. It's the most ludicrous application fee in history: $30k and a 18 months in jail. I think of it as jail because It's time spent doing something I have absolutely no interest in doing right now.

I would be happy to test-out of any of these requirements. But as it stands, the best I could possibly do is to ace the GRE, Miller Analogy and Praxis II. This -might- get me into a grad school. The trouble I have with this is that if I -do- ace those tests, then it's definitive proof that I -don't- need to spend my time and money going to school. Catch 22.

I am very unhappy and lost.


The new spam filter is working out great. I couldn't be happier. Well, I could be, but you know what I mean.

A couple months ago I saw Henry Rollins in concert. I took some notes about his show but never bothered to put them in my journal. Here you go:

"Ramones Fans can't kill each other. Here's what you do. Give the Israeli army the first two albums and let them groove to it for a while. Then give the Palestinians the second two albums and let 'em enjoy it. Then one day, they'll be on the front and one of the Israelis will hear something on the other side. He'll say, "Hey do you hear that? It sounds like the Ramones but it's not any album that I've ever heard! I'm gonna go check it out. Here, hold my gun.""

[note: blowing a "P" into a microphone makes that cool "poof" noise that you hear in the Jack Flanders audiotapes. Jack Flanders and Ruby R000000000000L!!!]

He's done 106 shows a year for the last 23 years. Wow.

[I've said this somewhere in my journal... it's nice that Henry agrees] "Bush isn't connected with his material. That smile that bunches up in the corner of his mouth.... he's pretending to be human." [He then went into a thing about his awful pacing as well :-) ]


Here's another weapon in the war against spam. In the last year I've started receiving a lot of spam that Spamkiller hasn't been able to filter. These spams look like garbage when viewed in Spamkiller. I'll see garbage like this in the body of the message: DQoNCjxNRVRBIEhUVFAtRVFVSVY9IkNvbnRlbnQtVHlwZSIgQ09OVEV...

Well, what the spammers are doing is encoding the messages in Base 64. Outlook knows how to decode Base 64 but Spamkiller doesn't.

Here's how I set up filters to stop this type of spam. I used this very helpful site to encode a couple bits of text into Base 64 and then I stuck those encoded bits into Spamkiller's killfile.

More specifically, I encoded some very popular strings, like "a href=http://" and made those into Spamkiller filters. So, in this example, if the email isn't in my don't-kill file, it's HTML based, encoded in Base 64, and has a hyperlink, Spamkiller will kill the message. This system is case-sensitive so I had to add a bunch more filters to cover other combinations of cases...

Regular Expression for a href="http://
a href="http:// converts to YSBocmVmPSJodHRwOi8v
href="http: converts to IGhyZWY9Imh0dHA6L
href="http:/ converts to aHJlZj0iaHR0cDovL

Regular Expression for A HREF="http://
A HREF="http:// converts to QSBIUkVGPSJodHRwOi8v
HREF="http: converts to IEhSRUY9Imh0dHA6L
HREF="http:/ converts to SFJFRj0iaHR0cDovL

Regular Expression for a href=http://
a href=http: converts to YSBocmVmPWh0dHA6L
href=http:/ converts to IGhyZWY9aHR0cDovL
href=http:// converts to aHJlZj1odHRwOi8v

Regular Expression for A HREF=http://
A HREF=http: converts to QSBIUkVGPWh0dHA6L
HREF=http:/ converts to IEhSRUY9aHR0cDovL
HREF=http:// converts to SFJFRj1odHRwOi8v

So, in case it's not clear, I went into Spamkiller and, using the Advanced... button I created 12 Message Text Filters that look like this the photo on the right.

Of course, the war will continue to escalate. There are other obfuscation techniques that this technique doesn't prevent.

I still believe that the best way to stop spam is to legislate it away. This worked with spam faxes and it can work with spam email.


Trying to set up an scp server on my Windows 2000 machine is reminding me why I got out of using linux. People are ecstatic about writing supercharged, amazing tools that can help you conquer the world, but they don't ever bother to tell you where the frigging "start" button is!!


I'm a fan of funny/scary/weird/real-world stories. And if you throw in deviant sexual-social behavior, well I really enjoyed True Porn Clerk Stories. Here's a local archive of those pages: one, two, three, four.


I put a nice journal entry in my flying page today.

I'm quite happy with my recent post to the ARL list. To preface, there's an upcoming override tax vote coming in a few days. They're considering raising property taxes by about 5% for this year instead of the normal 2.5% or so. The repercussions of the rate increase are being hotly debated. Just about every line below is a happy perversion of something that someone's said in the last two weeks on the list.  Read on.

To: <>
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2003 02:31:14 -0400
Subject: [arlington] Override summary

So, to summarize from some of the recent posts...

If the override fails

I will leave Arlington out of disgust
The good teachers will be fired and the bad ones retained
The idea of "community" will be banished from Arlington forever
Arlington will burn to the ground
The tradition of educating our young will cease
Gangs will troll the streets
Potholes will swallow our vehicles whole
Our children will become fat and stupid
Books will cease to function
Art and music will be eliminated
The MCAS will kill our children
My grandfather will die of a heart attack before the EMTs arrive


And If the override succeeds

I will leave Arlington because I can't afford it anymore
Arlington school administrators will grow fat
The socialist party will have gained a significant strategic advantage
Short on funds, my summer block party will be cancelled
Arlington will still burn to the ground
Families with no children won't be able to afford birth control, driving them into a vicious cycle
Gangs trolling the streets will be swallowed whole by potholes
The potholes will remain. I've seen the DPW try to fill a pothole, they're friggin retarded.
Our children will grow and flourish, basking in the titanium-white bright light of art, wisdom and knowledge, they will respect and revere their elders, caring for them through to their old age with ceremony and ritual.
Every student will pass the MCAS
My car's brakes will unexpectedly fail, killing a local pedestrian and injuring 3 others

All this is hinging on your vote and $60/year.

It's a joke.


No, I should correct myself, EVERY line is a take-off of something said on the list recently!  :-)


I get around 40 spams a day, every day... some 13 thousand per year. Happily the vast majority get filtered out. But occasionally one makes it through the gauntlet... making it to the right email address, not stopped by Spamkiller, and not deleted by my unconscious brain. Today I got.... it's just.... so....

Here, you look at it and tell me what you think:

From: "Clara" <>
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2003 11:33:25 -0000
Subject: <Possibly you are waiting for this inventive mail, is it proper?> Letter@5CHBSVDfFy3uqHBs

Hi Lee.
Possibly you are waiting for this inventive mail, is it precise?
Expect yes!
My Sugar buddy I have Nice news for you.
Now you can Look at this page and do your prurient things.

<<[the rest of the url removed by Lee] >>

With love, Clara Young.

Now, I'm sure it's probably just another porn site, but is this email unintentional poetry? Read it again, with feeling.

In other news, I went over for a visit to slashdot and was befuddled by the dizzyingly low signal-to-noise ratio of the comments that people post there. Though there is no lack of volume! What a weird sub-culture. Their headlines are top-notch though. Thinking back to my previous excursions to the site over the years, I recall that they've never had any useful commenters there.


I get over 40 spams a day, every day. Luckily, the vast majority are received by semi-sacrificial accounts and/or captured by Spamkiller. But it is a terrible nuisance. I still have to wade through them, looking for the occasional email that slips into my spam-bucket. What is the fix? I've been saying that it's legislation...


My new favorite phrase is "Coupe de Jarnac." It is my great hope and wish to someday get to use it in a sentence. Peter Woodward from the TV show "Conquest" offers this origin for the phrase:

In 1547 in the court of Henri II, King of France, Francois De Vivonne, the Count of La Chastaigneray claimed that Guy Chabot, the Lord of Jarnac had slept with his mother-in-law. This put Guy in a very difficult situation because if he didn't challenge the claim, his honor would be ruined forever. But to challenge the claim meant that he'd likely have to fight Francois in "honorable combat". Francois knew the system well... he was widely regarded as the best swordsman in France. And Guy... well, Guy wasn't.

Guy decided to go for the challenge. Now, the one who is insulted gets to choose the weapon style. While Francois was a great swordsman in every discipline, Guy didn't tell Francois what weapons they'd be fighting with. He said that Francois should bring 30 different weapons to the contest. This was keeping within the rules of combat but a good way to put Francois off-balance. It's thought that Guy went to an Italian combat teacher and trained extensively in just a single offensive move with sword and buckler for several weeks. When the combat began, Guy fought very defensively until he was able to play out the one expert move he knew. Guy ran Francois through. Francois was so shamed by his losing to Guy that he refused medical treatment and bled to death where he was struck down.

So, to this day, a "Coupe de Jarnac" is when one plays by the letter of the rules but uses a certain level of trickery to achieve an important victory.


This month's photo is a shot of the spot my sister will likely be married on this October!

I grew up with an Intellivision. I got a kick out of this reminiscence. It's a site that lets me play the games in my browser.

I'm using a TI-89 calculator for my statistics class. I got to take one out of the WCCC library. Here's an emulator for Windows, complete with everything needed for when I don't have the calculator with me.

1732 hits in 317 visits to the Journal homepage from March 27th to July 31st, 2003.