Archive for May 2005

Defecation in the open

You know the cliché, “Hindsight is always 20/20”. Well, I should have realized that Panther Valley wasn’t the place for me as soon as I read the Rules for living here.

There are 15 numbered and 24 blue Roman Numeraled pages of rules to living in this place. The rules cover all the mundanity… everything from “burning of rubbish on Common Property is prohibited” to “no poultry of any kind shall be raised, bred or kept on any lot”. I’ve got no problem with any of the rules… well, some of them irk me a little but I realize that sometimes sacrifices for the common peace make for a better society.

The thing that should have told me to leave was how they started this manifesto. They could have opened with parking regulations, or noise ordinances, or garbage guidelines. But no. They opened with shit.

1. Defecation in the open by dogs and other animal pets shall be immediately removed and disposed of at the residence of the person owning, keeping, harboring or in control of such animals. Burying of pet fecal matter anywhere within Panther Valley is strictly prohibied.

I have no problem at all with this rule. Actually, I’m pretty much in favor of it. It’s just that…. they opened with…. shit. Or more precisely, “shitting”. Take a look at how the sentence reads. Putting that passive verb at the start of the sentence there is just a bit out of place. I’m convinced that they worked hard to intentionally phrase that so the word “defecation” would sit there at the top of the page.

Now, the rules aren’t really put in any purposeful order but we all know that the first things on any list are the ones you are going to remember the most. Why didn’t they put the more serious rule about firing weapons (not allowed!), or loitering, or poultry first? Obviously, the most important thing in Panther Valley is controlling and retaining shit. Isn’t there some Freudian archetype concering this?

I’m just not down with an organization who’s guiding principles put anal retentiveness at the top of the priority list.

I do have a problem with some of the rules… for example:

Village III, Rule XI: Ball playing and group games shall not be permitted on all roadways and common property.

What the frig, man?! Playing ball in the street is a mainstay of growing up in America! And I won’t hesitate to mention that Village III is consisted mostly of a group of 20 very quiet, dead-end streets linked together by 2 main streets.

Village IV, Rule Q: No immoral, improper, offensive of unlawful use shall be made of any Unit…

That last condition, “unlawful” is clear enough, but who defines those first three conditions? Hmmm. I’m not liking this. Happily, I live in Village III so I can be as immoral, improper, and offensive as I want to be! If I’m imaginative, I could work it so this clause cancels out the doggie doo clause. Think about it!

You can find the full set of Rules and Regulations on the PVPOA website.

Packing up

Getting ready. The House is an absolute mess. I’ve been packing and packing and packing. When moving, there are just so many little things you have to do, especially for such a big move like this… I’m moving via UPS. I will pick something up, and realize that it has to be “acted upon”. Then I will be running around the house for half an hour trying to do the thing that I have to do with the thing. For example, I found a pile of tax records from 10 years ago; I can throw most of the stuff out but I had to sift through it and find stuff that would be best that I keep forever.

I found this huge trophy that I had won in 1983 and I didn’t have a box that was big enough for it. I was running all over the house trying to find a box big enough and would be in a proper category. It would not have been right for me to put it in the big box with all of my camping gear because my camping gear is going with me on my car trip. I can see it now: the little man with his outstretched torched pounded 18 inches upside down into the earth because I didn’t have room for tent stakes.

So there I was, standing in the middle of the room with boxes strewn about me, waving this trophy around shouting “where does this go?!” I finally decided to throw it out. But before I do, I have to take a picture of it. So of course that means I have to get out the camera and set up my mini photo studio with the lights and backdrop. It’s already mostly set up because I’ve been taking pictures of things to sell on eBay but argh!

I’m planning on leaving on the ninth and leaving about 10 days for travel cross country. It would be a five-day trip if I drove it straight.

Double Opt In, Double Opt Out

It’s admirable that most email mailing list providers offer a double-opt-in system. That’s when you go to a web site, click on a link to subscribe to a mailing list and then you receive an email (the double part) verifying that you actually want to be subscribed.

Why is it that 80%+ of the email systems don’t have a double-opt-out system? The vast majority of the time, it’s even more shallow that. You click on a link in an email and it jumps to a page that reads simply, “You have been unsubscribed.”

Duh. What if I clicked on the link accidentally? What if I don’t want to unsubscribe but change my subscription? When I ran a large list, fully 10% of the requests I processed were address change requests. It is often a real pain to find the link to subscribe… such a pain that it’s not worth doing.

New Car Stereo: Pioneer DEH-P6700MP

Well, if I’m going on a cross country road-trip, I’ve got to have tunes. Along the way, there will be spots where geography and the laws of electromagnetic propogation will conspire to reduce my musical choices down to God fearin’ Radio and God Fearin’ radio. So I got me a Pioneer DEH-P6700MP CD receiver with MP3 / WMA playback with Organic EL display. It is so tech. I just hope the display doesn’t pull a Trapper Keeper on me.

Quickie review: It sounds -nice-. The tuner is a tiny bit better than the tuner in the stock radio. MP3s sound sweet. It sounds very “full”. I’m a little worried that I’ll blow out my speakers if I crank the bass too much; the factory sound system has something like 12 watts, now we’re cranking 40+.

I freaked out when I was driving home in the dark. The display kept inverting every 10 seconds… first white on black, then black on white. It was as if my (ficticious) little brother was sitting next to me and flicking on a flashlight every couple seconds. After 5 minutes of that, I was screaming at the radio, “Cut it out! You’re driving me crazy!” I vowed that if I couldn’t find a fix, I’d have to return the radio. It turns out that…

Demo Modes: This unit has a Reverse Demo Mode and a Feature Demo Mode. In Reverse Demo Mode, if you do not perform an operation for a period of 30 seconds, the display begins reversing colors. It continues reversing colors every 10 seconds until a button is pushed…

What the frig is that “demo mode” for? Whatever. I turned it off. Chalk up 1 “win” for the day.

Here is how to disable the annoying “Demo” mode

  1. Turn the radio off.
  2. Push “Memory 5” for just a second (you’ll hear a little beep)
  3. Done!

There is another demo mode by pushing “Memory 6”. Read the comments for more…

One problem down, one to go. I just have to figure out how to make the screen about 1/2 as bright at night and I’ll love this radio.

(actually, I’d -love- if it could do .ogg or .flac but I’ll live. It just takes 5 minutes to convert an entire CD from one format to another.

update: Here is the Operation Manual for the Pioneer DEHP6700MP. And here is the Installation Manual.

Star Wars Revelations Torrent

(this entry was originally written 5-14-05. It was updated on 12-31-05)

There is a pretty good fan-created Star Wars movie called Star Wars Revelations. They made the movie available in DVD format as a .torrent file. Their torrent tracker had been down for a few months starting in early May 2005 so I hosted the .torrent here. Their server is back up so I’ve stopped hosting.

The Revelations DVD and the behind the scenes DVD are available via Bittorrent on Lysator again.

My site served the Revelations .torrent file almost exactly 15,000 times from May-December 2005. If 10,000 copies of the video were created from this, then 34 terabytes were moved… virtually for free. Bittorrent works.I recommend the Azureus bittorrent client.

Substitute the Population of the United States

I was a substitute teacher in Hackettstown High School today. It went fine. I was a little worried about being able to wake up early enough for school but it ended not being a problem.

In the last period of the day, my class of sophomores were to watch two TV shows… an episode of Discovery Channel’s Extreme Machines and Mega Machines. The shows were fine enough but I would have rather been teaching them than babysitting them. Well enough…

Then there was this discussion:

TV: The sugar from one truckload of cane from this truck will feed a person for 428 years.
Kid: Wow, we eat too much sugar.
Lee: Well, it’s not that much sugar when you think about it.. 1 person for 428 years or 428 people for 1 year is the same thing. Thinking about the population of the United States, that’s not much at all. [half talking to myself] Let’s see, what’s the population of the U.S.
Kid: Like 10 million people.
Lee: [Stopped dead in my tracks. Wide eyed stare, mouth agape]
Another kid: [Seeing that I thought the first kid was way off] No, it’s like a billion people.
Lee: [Mouth closed. Mouth opened. Mouth closed]
Lee: [Walks up to the TV and shuts it off] [Speaking to class] That was really interesting. What did he say about how much sugar one truckload contained? ……..

A discussion ensues in which most of the kids shout out guesses as to the U.S. population, all of which are wildly wrong. I have them take a stab at the world population and they fare no better. New York City population? Zero for three. :-(

We talked about populations for a few minutes, I gave them some facts, and then we got back to the program.

I would have liked to turn it into a full discussion about scale…. “How many people are in the room? School? Town? State?…” Especially after hearing one student in the class claim, “A friend told me that Hackettstown is in the Guiness Book of World Records as having the most number of fast food restaurants in a 1/8 mile stretch.” A discussion ensued in which some kids believed that, though I doubted the claim. He asked to go look it up on the internet and I gladly consented. (for those of you not in the know, Hackettstown is a small far-suburb town about an hour away from New York City. The strip he was referring to has about 8 fast food joints on one side of the street, all on lazy, large plots of land) After a few minutes of googling, it was the end of the period and he hadn’t come up with anything. He said that he had, “a hard time logging on” but I had been glancing over his shoulder every couple minutes…. he likely needed a lesson in how to do an internet search.