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Archive of June, 2004

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[Permalink 2004-06-29] Feeling Good About Myself

June 29, 2004:

Now, I know I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In fact I can be downright stupid sometimes. But I've never done anything quite so stupid as putting this image on eBay where millions of people could see it.

Y'know, for the seller's sake I kinda hope that pic is a fake. But something tells me it's not.

[Permalink 2004-06-28] Research is Key

June 28, 2004:

When you give an award, it's always good to check out your recipient first:

CINCINNATI - A former bookkeeper praised by President Bush for turning around her life with help from a social-services agency still owes at least $300,000 to the company she was convicted of stealing from, according to court records and the business owner.


Morin said Thursday that she received about $1,000 in restitution while Tami Jordan was in a work-release program and her wages were garnished. She said Jordan has paid nothing since finishing her sentence.


During a visit Monday to Talbert House, a Cincinnati social-service agency that helps former convicts, Bush praised Jordan as a "good soul" and an "inspirational person" who was making the best of her second chance.

Hey, Bush's guys are almost as crooked as Reagan's. Maybe embezzlement is inspirational to them...

[Permalink 2004-06-25] (A) Propoganda, (B) Skewed Documentary, (C) Self-Aggrandizement, (D) All

June 25, 2004:

A friend of mine is seeing Farenheit 9/11 tonight. I'm torn; a serious look at the movie isn't possible without seeing it but I have no desire to provide Michael Moore with any more excuses to make "documentaries" by giving him my money. This would be so easy if I was willing to run Kazaa Lite.

Anyway, Moore said he went through some more vetting for this one than he did with Bowling for Columbine. Of course that doesn't mean anything: If I check my sources I can get away with a lot of stuff that isn't true. For instance, if I say that the latest edition of the National Inquirer reports that Hitler and John Kennedy are living it up in South America that would be true as long as it's in the Inquirer. Whether it's actually happening is irrelevant, as long as I phrase my statement properly.

Now, Christopher Hitchens has already torn Moore a new one. Part of me is glad to see it happen; Moore is the left's version of Rush Limbaugh and falls back on the same "but I'm an entertainer!" whining when he gets caught bullshitting people. But there are none so zealous as a convert, and Hitchens is ravenous in his defense of all things Bush.

The amusing thing is, since this is an election year (and you know it's on purpose) Moore may have some trouble advertising his flick. McCain-Feingold says that corporations can't have political candidates in commercials after a certain point (July 31st, going from memory, I could be wrong). Since Bush is running for president and the movie's basically about him, Moore will be limited in what he can show on TV. Of course, Moore's not an idiot, and leaving himself 5 weeks of advertising (to make up for the five-week advnatage Bush will have over Kerry?) will leave plenty of time to get the word out before Those Evil Conservatives shut him down.

Bah. I'm sick of all of it. A pox on all their houses.

[Permalink 2004-06-24] Nuggets

June 24, 2004:

· Managed to borrow a stopwatch for some laps yesterday.
1) 2:04.74 ("Woohoo! Eight-minute mile!")
2) 2:30.69 ("Jason, Wall. Wall, Jason.")
3) 2:46.30
4) 2:41.97
Total time was 10:03.70. I really ought to try for two miles now, so I can get 20 minutes' worth out of these trips to the track.

· I decided that I'm going to try running every day, or something like every day. I'm going running again tonight, to see how I do after running yesterday. I'll probably wind up skipping Fridays and one other day during the week, but five days is probably better than three.

· Got the BTEC machine mostly figured out last night. (It got partially toasted during an electrical storm a couple weeks ago.) It looks like maybe one of the memory slots got fried along with the DIMM in it, 'cause the RAM that we tried to install the first time was right. I know that it needs a DIMM in slot 0 to work at all; I wonder if, after that, slot 1 can be bypassed.

· Haven't heard back on a freelance project I was kind of interested in working on. I hope I didn't scare off the project manager by saying that I don't know anything about making a site work in Russian (it'd be a multi-lingual site). It's obviously possible, as the number of domains in .ru will attest to, I just don't know if it can be done without installing a bunch of stuff on my home machine.

· I'm pretty sure my connection problems at home are the result of a flakey DSL modem; I think it may have cooked itself at some point. Lucky for me, Rob has one laying around since he's now on cable modem.

· Decided not to visit Akron for the Fourth of July weekend, since I'll be there twice next month for my stepsister's wedding and my high school reunion. Don't know whether I'll bother seeing the fireworks here.

[Permalink 2004-06-22] More Movie Parodies

June 22, 2004:

Damn I wish I could write well. It's called Prizoner of Azkaban in Fifteen Minutes but it may take longer than that if you're at work and have to stop from time to time to keep from laughing out loud. I think I like this one better than the Star Wars parodies I linked to a while ago.

[Permalink 2004-06-21] GMail

June 21, 2004:

A friend hooked me up with an invite a few days ago. I'm pretty sure I still don't have enough mail for the progress bar to say I'm using any of my quota. But here's what I've got so far.


So far I've only seen one ad, and it's off to the side where it could very easily be missed. It's even less noticeable than the ads Google puts in its search results. As for the privacy concerns, I see sniffing for ad words the same way I see sniffing for spam -- perfectly fine if it's voluntary.

(As a side note, I tried to send an e-mail last week with the subject "Keeping [so-and-so] up to date" and the destination spam filter rejected it because of the phrase "up to". Keyword-matching alone isn't good enough for a spam-blocker.)

The UI

Aside from some new stuff they've built in, which I'll get to later, the UI seems to be pretty good. They use a lot of <IFRAME>s to get their look and feel without forcing a lot of HTML to be redownloaded. It makes things appear fast and responsive, but making it accessible has got to be a bitch. And the logout link is apparently trying to do some Javascript that my old install of Firebird doesn't like, as it throws an exception instead of logging me out.

One thing that annoys me though is the lack of a delete button. Yes, I know I have a gig of space, which is room enough for at least 20,000 e-mails (assuming a large e-mail is 50kB). But some e-mails aren't spam but are still useless. The "welcome to GMail" e-mail I received when I set up my account is one of them (though since it's unrequested it's technically spam -- maybe I should've reported it). I don't want to keep it around, I don't want to "archive" it, I want it dead.

If you ever need to use the delete function, it's in the dropdown list labeled "more actions" next to the "report spam" button. Oddly enough, the archive command is duplicated in the list, even though it has its own button just a few pixels away. Be careful though, since I'd be willing to bet that the dropdown deletes an entire "conversation". If you just want to can a message, click the "more options" link next to its subject then click on "trash this message". It sounds complicated, but it does make some sense -- usually an entire set of e-mails will be useless, not just one.


I've received one attachment so far, and got a 500 (server) error when I tried to download it. It may be the browser, or it may be the beta status of GMail. But it was annoying.

New Stuff

Conversations. Messages are grouped by subject in what Google calls conversations. This keeps everything in the same general area, but it's kind of easy to break. If you change the subject of an e-mail, GMail treats it as a new conversation (and within GMail you don't appear to be able to change the subject). I assume that changing the subject breaks the sorter because there's nothing within an e-mail to let GMail know it's a reply. There are a couple RFCs that govern how newgroup postings can say what they're replying to, but I don't think that crosses over to e-mail. Some e-mail clients implement it, though, and it would be nice if GMail could use that. (Hey, maybe it does, I dunno.) Oh, and while conversations are nice, threading would be even better. But I think threading would be impossible for the same reason.

Searching. It searches by conversation, and highlights the search term in any one you view. The border around the conversation <IFRAME> changes from blue to green, and sends you back to your search results instead of your inbox.

Mutli-labeling. This may not be new in GMail, but it's new to me. Conversations can have multiple labels, like blog entries can have multiple subjects/themes. (Well, blogs not written by me can :) ) That way I could find e-mails about a client both by looking for the client name and by looking for freelance stuff. Nice.

Archiving. As a holdover from Brady, I archive anything business-related. This usually means saving the displayed e-mail in a directory on my hard drive with a file name like "2004-06-16 Figuring out GMail.04.html", meaning that I sent/received it on June 16th, and it's the fourth e-mail about figuring out GMail. (And that wouldn't work at Brady, because I'd have to include the sender or recipient's initials, and limit the whole thing to 31 characters so it'd display on a Mac.) In GMail the number isn't needed because it's in context thanks to the conversation, and it's labeled in addition to having its own subject line. So archiving just hides the conversation when I view my inbox. Sure it eats storage, but like I said I can keep at least 20,000 e-mails with no problem. I can see that being particularly useful if I ever need to access a freelance project from another computer a few years down the line. It looks like you can only archive things in your inbox, though, archiving isn't available in label views or from the sent-mail folder.

End Results

All in all it looks pretty solid. The friend who set me up with the account theorized that Google's trying out "curing" us of our habit of deleting e-mail, and that's why the function's hidden. Could be, or maybe with 1000MB of storage deleting truly isn't necessary most of the time. But anyway, if you can make it through the privacy issues without grabbing your tinfoil hat I think you'll like it.

If someone gives you an invitation.

[Permalink 2004-06-18] ! f0ug|-|7 d4 1a\/\/

June 18, 2004:

... 4nd d4 14\/\/ \/\/0n

The sheriffs in Scotland are so very 1337.

Run Update, since you're probably tired of me wasting a full day's update on them.

I didn't show the run who was boss, but I at least let it know it wasn't gonna talk smack about me like that any more. Here are the times I got, from my not-having-a-second-hand cell phone:
18:13:?? Start
18:16:?? End Lap 1
18:19:?? End Lap 2
18:21:?? End Lap 3
18:24:?? End Lap 4
18:28:?? End Lap 5

So, assuming I started at 18:13:00 and finished lap four at 18:24:59 I ran a mile in twelve minutes. Assuming I would have finished a sixth lap at 18:32:??, that would give me a maximum time for a mile and a half of 20 minutes. Not bad for being completely out of shape.

[Permalink 2004-06-17] See, We Have So Much In Common

June 17, 2004:

I'm glad to see that the US isn't the only country around that's full of rednecks. Seems there are some Brits that don't like ferriners either.

On the lighter side though, I'm amused by how breathtakingly bad that Flash animation is. It's not often I see something online that I could have done better.

[Permalink 2004-06-15] Not-So-Quick Run Update

June 15, 2004:

I didn't go Thursday because it was raining (I don't want to melt, after all) and didn't go Saturday because it was hot and muggy. I thought about bagging yesterday too, but I realized that if I skipped a whole week I was never going to run again. And since I'm not done losing weight that's not a good idea.

It kicked my ass; I couldn't even finish a mile before I hit a wall. I ran laps two and three like they were my fourth, and like I said I didn't make the fourth at all. I had my phone with me to get a crude time (it doesn't have a second hand) and as best as I can figure it took me 10-11 minutes to do those three laps. Extrapolating out gives me just under 15 minutes for a mile, which can be walked in 20.

I think I should go Thursday, regardless of weather. And I still haven't started those sit-ups I was talking about before. I'm guessing I may not be as thin as I want to be for the reunion, but I'll still be 35 pounds lighter than I was before.

[Permalink 2004-06-14] Enough with Reagan Already

June 14, 2004:

OK, we've been doing this for more than a week now. We've had the big national funeral, and the guy's been laid to rest in California. Can we give it a rest, please?

Look, I'm kind of nostalgic over the guy too. He's the first president I remember being in office (I was about a week and a half old when Carter was elected, and had just turned four when Reagan was; I vaguely remember Reagan getting shot in 1981) so he always seems a little more larger-than-life than the men who followed him.

What I don't have a clear memory of is what happened during his two terms. I remember hearing about Iran-Contra, but I didn't quite understand what it was about. I'm pretty sure the massive layoffs at Goodyear happened while he was president (though it may have happened after George H.W. Bush was elected). That was because Goodyear had to preserve money to keep from being bought and dismantled by some British billionaire, but the dropping value of the dollar from the deficits may have had a hand in it.

Anyway, I know the Republicans have a damp spot in their shorts over the guy, but this is getting to be out of control. They've named an airport after the guy, and a business/trade center in DC. Now they want to put him on money?

Look, there are some people who don't deserve to be immortalized on cash, like the Indian-killer on the twenty. But is Reagan really the best choice? Is there nobody in the last two hundred years who should be placed there? Oh well, the money's in desparate need of a revamp anyway (can the penny, maybe the nickel too) but putting Ronnie on the ten or the dime ain't the answer.

But the basic gist of this, which I seem to have wandered from a little bit, is that the guy's dead. For a week. We've seen the same recap of his life and presidential administration dozens of times. I know it's not every day that a president cacks it, but it's time to move on.

And don't screw around with the money any more.

[Permalink 2004-06-11] About Atkins

June 11, 2004:

I've been on the Atkins diet for more than four months now. I'm not really doing the diet properly, but since it's (mostly) working, I figured I'd put this online in case anyone else wants to see it.

The Food

The idea of Atkins is to eat lean meats and leafy, green vegatables. This removes carbohydrates and a large amount of fats from the diet. The fats aren't too important -- they don't shut off the fat/protein burner, but any fat you eat is fat of your own that doesn't get metabolized.

I'm pretty good about the meat. Vegatables are another matter. For lunch I usually eat tuna salad: No carbs and fat only from the mayonnaise. For dinner I switch between fried beef with broccoli and soy sauce (kinda like Chinese food, but not quite), bunless cheesburgers, porkchops, chicken breasts, bratwursts, and Italian sausages. For breakfast on weekends I eat bacon or sausage, with eggs.

Note that I don't eat brekfast on weekdays. This is technically a no-no; I'm not supposed to go 18 hours without a meal like that. But I like sleeping more than I like eating :)

As snacks I eat peanuts and low-carb yogurt. From time to time I eat low-carb candy bars, but a large portion of them taste like sawdust so I tend to avoid it. Ditto for low-carb bagels. With my breakfasts I drink low-carb milk-like food product. I'd recommend the fat-free version if you want something that tastes vaguely correct; anything else feels like I'm drinking heavy cream.

I also eat the turkey-bacon Atkins wraps at Subway, and that's about the only place I go to eat. Sometimes I go out with friends, but not often; I'm likely to blow the diet when I do that.

I'm currently in stage three of the diet, losing weight very slowly. Actually, with a trip to Akron for Memorial Day and a few trips to restaurants I haven't lost anything lately. I'm working on changing that again.

I've found that I don't have sugar cravings like last time. I definitely enjoy desserts more since I don't get that much sugar any more, but without anything around it's easy to pass on it.

The Exercise

Dieting only goes so far, and I plateaued at about 25 pounds lost with just food. I've been running for a couple months now and I've dropped another few pounds. I needed someone running with me for a while to get me going, but now I can pretty much get myself going. It's just a matter of setting a (moderate) goal and aiming for it.

I try to run three times a week, but like the diet sometimes I don't live up to that. It was raining last time I should've gone and I hate running in the rain, so I skipped it. There were also a couple times when it felt like I just wasn't able to run, only getting in two laps before I was spent -- after skipping a Saturday or two that doesn't seem to be a problem any more.

I still have a beer belly though. That probably means some sit-ups or crunches are in order, but that's starting to sound too much like PT, and I didn't like that the last time around. But if I plan on looking at least moderately in shape I don't see where I have a choice. Guess I've got to give it a shot then.

The Money

Any money I save by packing a lunch three to four times a week is spent on Atkins-friendly foods. Ready-to-make stuff is actually cheap compared to real meats and the low-carb stuff I eat. I'd be willing to bet that I spend more per month now on groceries than I did on groceries + lunches before.

I wish there was a way to east right and on the cheap, but I think it's fundamentally impossible.

[Permalink 2004-06-10] Movie Recommendations

June 10, 2004:

A while ago, I learned the hard way that just because some people online say a movie is good, that doesn't make it true. But what about when the online reviews are bad? Well, I watched League of Extraordinary Gentlemen last night, and I can safely say that if some people online say a movie completely and utterly blows, you can take that to the bank.

Or maybe it just means that if you've been reduced to checking online for a movie review, you're already screwed.

[Permalink 2004-06-08] Because I Ran Out of Material Years Ago

June 08, 2004:

A is for - Age: 27.
B is for - Boyfriend/Girlfriend: Rosy.
C is for - Career in Future: Don't really know. Part of me never really got over the "I want to be an astronaut when I grow up" phase, and I think I like that better than the senior programmer or manager I'll probably end up being.
D is for - Dead person you would like to meet: Galileo.
E is for - Essential item: Computer.
F is for - Favorite song at the moment: I don't know that I have a favorite, but "Cover Me" by Bruce Springsteen has been popping into my head a lot recently.
G is for - Guys/Girls you've kissed: Too few girls, and just the right number of guys (that being zero).
H is for - Hometown: Akron, OH.
I is for - Instruments you play: Played saxophone for a while in elementary school, but gave it up.
J is for - Job title: Consultant.
K is for - Kicks Ass: I've managed to start (and stay on) a diet and exercise regimen long enough to lose more than 30 pounds.
L is for - Living places: In order: Cuyahoga Falls, OH; Akron, OH; Pittsburgh, PA.
M is for - Most memorable moment of today: When my consulting-boss actually thought the stuff I do here was interesting.
N is for - Number of people you've slept with: Gentlemen don't discuss such things. Neither do I.
O is for - Overnight hospital stays: When I broke my arm when I was three. I'm pretty sure that's the only one.
P is for - Phobias: Heights and Claustro-.
Q is for - Quotes you like: Possibly mangled, but here you go:

"All right brain, you don't like me and I don't like you. But let's get through this so I can go back to killing you with beer." -- Homer Simpson

"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You win it by making the other bastard die for his country." -- Gen. Patton

R is for - Relationship that lasted the longest: Irrelevant, really.
S is for - Sexuality: Heterosexual.
T is for - Time: 2004-06-02 16:12 EDT.
U is for - Unique trait(s): I am unique, just like everybody else.
V is for - Vegetable you love: Potatoes, especially in french-fry format.
W is for - Worst habit: Talking out of my ass. And not in that quasi-amusing Ace Ventura way.
X is for - X-rays you've had: Arm, hand, teeth, chest.
Y is for - Yummy food you make: I don't know if any of it counts as "yummy" but I can regularly produce something vaguely like beef and broccoli that I don't want to throw out.
Z is for - Zodiac sign: Scorpio.

[Permalink 2004-06-07] Movie Review: The Day After Tomorrow

June 07, 2004:

Whether you like this movie depends on what you expect going in. If you want to see New York get hit by a giant tidal wave and people freezing solid in seconds, you'll have a blast. If you want something that vaguely resembles science fiction, you're in for a disappointment.

(I'm just going to post the spoilers here; it's not like there's any real suspense.)

The story begins in Antarctica, where we learn that humanity has screwed the pooch raw. Thanks to decades of releasing greenhouse gases (message!) the polar ice caps are beginning to melt, and a sheet of ice that appears to be the size of Kansas breaks loose from the continent.

The sudden influx of fresh water into the ocean destroys the Atlantic ocean current (which, according to Dennis Quaid, flows across the North Atlantic from England before swinging south down the East Coast). Without the current to keep warm water in the northern hemisphere, we risk seeing a new ice age within a year. Golly, those greehouse gases sure have messed up the environment. (Message!)

As the afore-mentioned tidal wave floods Manhattan Island while leaving the buildings intact (skyscrapers always get smacked broadside by millions of tons of water, so they engineer them for such occurances) the snow starts. And since it's cold out, all that water freezes over within hours. After all, water freezes when it's cold, even when the water is four stories deep and saline.

About this time we see "supercells" form over Scotland, Siberia and Canada/Greendland. They look like hurricanes, but in reality they're mobile freeze rays pumping -140°F air from the upper atmosphere to ground level. This, they explained, happened to a wooly mammoth in the last ice age, which is why it was found frozen perfectly with flowers in its mouth and stomach. (If I remember correctly the mammoth is real, but the insta-freeze was most likely caused by a volcanic eruption bringing in cold air, not a storm.) Of course nobody listens to the young hero whose father works for the government and has your best interests at heart (message!) even though the several-months estimate was off by a factor of 20. They're caught outside when the freeze ray hits New York. The humans pay the price for their environmental arrogance (message!)

At some point there are poorly-CGed wolves who pass up hundreds of pounds of dead meat to go on the attack (wolves would rather scavenge than hunt; dead stuff doesn't fight back) while our young hero is getting some penicillin for his girlfriend (she had a leg injury you pervs; the movie is rated PG-13). Of course they escape and everyone is fine.

Finally the worst is over and a majority of the populace is saved by evacuating to Mexico. To get that many refugees in the US had to forgive all Latin American debt (message!) while people were swimming the other way across the Rio Grande. The President, who was Veep at the beginning of the movie and looks an awful lot like Dick Cheney (message!) goes on the Weather Channel (promo!) to thank the people of the "third world" (bet Mexico really appreciates that one) for their hospitality. Meanwhile the astronauts stranded on the International Space Station remark that they've never seen the sky so clear (message!) as we zoom away from Earth, now in a new ice age.

So remember, kids. Don't burn those fossil fuels. Or you'll kill us all with a freeze ray from the upper atmosphere and get attacked by wolves. Or something.

[Permalink 2004-06-04] Next Time Just Hold a Bake Sale

June 04, 2004:

Looks like the state cops are getting a little creative in their efforts to nab speeders. Now I realize that they can enforce the laws pretty much however they want. What bugs me is that they're saying it'll make the road safer.


You want to make the road safer, park a cop in the median. Preferably, park two cops in the median, one facing each direction. Just by being there they'll cause people to start obeying the speed limit. Everybody who's driving will know they're there, everybody will slow down at least a little bit. Roads become nominally safer. Mission accomplished.

But hiding out in the woods with a radar gun is just to drive up revenue, pure and simple. They want people to speed, so they can hand out more tickets. Safety is only a secondary concern for them, raising funds is paramount. Otherwise they'd be out where everyone can see them.

Look guys, there are other ways to raise money other than playing laser tag with the populace. Do it on the up-and-up, and ask for a bigger budget. Cut the quasi-underhanded tactics, and can the "it's for your own good" nonsense.

[Permalink 2004-06-03] Motivation

June 03, 2004:

One of the webcomics I read has a very good explanation for why I decided to diet and start running.

[Permalink 2004-06-01] I Need a Vacation from My Vacation

June 01, 2004:

Nothing today; the weekend was suitably uninteresting. All I have to say is that I put in one of my worst golf outings ever Monday morning, which resulted in me slap-shotting a ball into the woods on the ninth hole. (Still gotta work on that temper, I suppose.)

And tonight I get to do all the stuff I didn't do this weekend: Laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning. And I should go for a run too, since I didn't go last night. "Day off." Hah.

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