The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, October 02, 2001

Medicated

Spring finally convinced me to take some OTC medicine for my congestion and while the first few hours where really bad, I've generally been feeling much better as time goes on.

My relunctance for using OTC medication is that as a kid, it never really seemed to work as advertised, and as I've gotten older, I've learned that it's best to listen to my body and actually rest when I get sick, as apposed to loading up on drugs and carrying on with my day like nothing is wrong (which, to me, is wrong).

But I suppose that in certain cases (like what I have now) it's sometimes best to both listen to your body (“Sleeeeeep! I need sleeeeeep!”) and help it along with medication.


Lost Wages

Dad called tonight to see how I was doing (better) and to relate his tales of being in Lost Wages (Las Vegas). Even though it would have cost him the price of dinner to fly there—round trip to/from Los Angeles is now US$25, but he decided to spend a few hours driving in the back deserts of California, hitting such places of high culture as Amboy.

Then again, since he's been living in California, I've never know him to actually fly to Lost Wages, preferring to drive the Californian back desert, so that's actually nothing new.

But Dad said that Lost Wages is pretty dead since the 11th of September and officials of Lost Wages are doing their utmost to get people there, including ridiculous airrates. I think the most expensive I've seen is US$75 round trip, and that from New York City.

So, that got me thinking. Hoade and I have been meaning to head to Lost Wages for some time now. Lost Wages is a Hoade type of town—or rather, it used to be a Hoade type of town in the 50s and 60s with the Rat Pack swinging in town, Martini in hand at the craps table and Vinni waiting patiently to knee cap the poor looser who attempts to welch his debts.

Not that Hoade gambles.

Anyway, I figure this might be as good a time as any to head on out there, seeing how cheap it is. As if it wasn't cheap before.

Wednesday, October 03, 2001

Em

I'm reading The Epicene Prounound on Kuro5hin and about the lack of a gender neutral prounoun in relationship with people—it not having the right connotations for people. The example being used in the discussion, “When the president calls, tell [insert pronoun for president] to call me back,” replacing [insert pronoun for president] with it changes its meaning (what? The president is a bug-eyed alien?).

In the discourse, solution was “When the president calls, tell'em to call me back.” Em. A bit of linguistic play going on there. The general (possibly incorrect solution) of using they as a singular gender-neutral pronoun is still in effect, but maybe there's something there. “Let em who is without sin, cast the first stone.” Not too bad, but it only covers him/her and not he/she. Possibly ey?

Then again, I should probably read the Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ.


The Chaos

The Chaos

by Charivarius (G. Nolst Trenité)

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation—think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough—
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!


The Lesson

Never drink Coke after you've been detoxed of caffiene and need sleep.

Sigh.


The Drop

Amazing. I just watched Spring's cat Spodie bat a plastic bowl in the kitchen sink to empty the water out of it (never mind that it's his water bowl—he only drinks out of it if he thinks it's not for him you see) then grab it with his mouth, hold it over the edge of the sink and ceremoniously dropping it onto the kitchen floor.

The Diner

I remember when I went away to college down at Villanova in Pennsylvania… there was the Villanova Diner located on the main strip within walking distance from campus. It was like my second weekend during my freshman year, when I and a bunch of fellow Jerseyans I had become friends with excitedly decided to go there after leaving a party. As we got closer, we couldn't help but notice that the lights weren't on in the place. “How can this be?”, we wondered. As we got to the door and looked at the operating hours of the establishment, we couldn't help but be bewildered that a building that clearly had the word “Diner” hanging above it closed at 10 pm?!?! Everybody's reaction was the same‥ “This isn't a XXXXXXX diner.”.

The Beauty and Allure of … the Diner.

All I can say is that the Boca Diner isn't. Neither is Lester's Diner or the L&J Diner. The Clock is. The Starlite Diner is (with two locations in Moscow).

Denny's isn't. It's a place to go when there are NO other places to go at 3:00 am in the morning.

Friday, October 05, 2001

Jerrold

“Jared!” said Spring, leaping up from bed and heading off to the Computer Room. Scary thing was, I knew exactly what she meant.

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

Florida—What a state!

Mark used to work just a few buildings down from American Media Inc., the company where Robert Stevens contracted anthrax. First, voting irregularities in the 2000 Presidential Elections. Then the terrorists who flew into the World Trade Center (and the Pentagon) may have been living in Delray Beach, Florida. And now this …

I bet the Florida State Board of Tourism is having fits over this.


Navigating a blog

Over the past few hours I've been working on the navigation code for this blog. And it isn't easy. I decided to forgoe adding navigation to the main page (while it's easy enough to find the previous seven days worth of entries, I don't think it's quite worth it yet to calculate the previous seven days entries but that may change) or to arbitrary ranges (that was hard enough to get right, and I still think there might be bugs in that code—not show stopping bugs, but there are probably some marginal cases where the code doesn't display what I think it should). I'm only handling the simple queries that bring back either a year's worth, month's worth, day's worth or the previous/next entry. Just to calculate the previous entry is a hundred lines of code. I could probably tighten that up a bit, but I'm still getting a handle on this, so I'll keep it verbose for now.

Network Polution

I finally got my invoice from Network Polutions for my domain, conman.org. Or, as Network Polutions, uh, Verisign calls it, my Web Address. Morons.

To make it worse, there's an ad for GreatDomains.com where I can get an appraisal of my domain. Just think, I could be sitting on a goldmine! Imbicils.

To make matters worse, they send me an invoice for US$70, which renews my domain for two years. I don't want to renew my domain, sorry, web address for two years—not with these idiots. But, I can renew online and well, will you look at that! If I renew online I get 10% off a two year renewal. But not if I renew by check (my preferred method of payment). And I get a choice of renewing for only a year. Words fail me.

I'd switch registrars, but with my domain up for renewal, I don't want to risk loosing it entirely if I decide to switch now (and I've already gotten junk snail mail offering just that. Sigh) and the potential for it to be totally munged up for weeks on end.

So I'm sending a check to renew for one year and once that clears, then I'm switching.


Mid-air save

LONDON (Reuters) - A British constable hurled himself off a cliff after a suicidal man, catching him in mid-air and saving his life, a police spokesman said on Friday.

A Sussex police spokesman said Constable Trevor Perks, who was strapped to a safety harness, managed to catch the man by the scruff of his neck as they both tumbled down the cliff side.

Man Saved by Mid-Air Grab

Spring sent me this one, as Trevor Perks is on a mailing list she's on. She was wondering why people were congratulating him and offering to make an action hero out of him.

Spring also said he volunteered last month to be pepper sprayed in order to test a new formula.

I guess some people just aren't satisified with sipping coffee and watching Survivor.


Earwormed

Of course, the technique isn't practical for all songs. For instance, composer John Cage's “As Slow as Possible,” which is currently being performed in Germany, begins with a silence that lasts 16 months, followed by a single chord to be played on Jan. 5, 2003, then another silence, then another chord on July 5, 2004, and the final chord in 639 years.

The Science Behind the Song Stuck in Your Head

Guess you won't have to worry about being earwormed by that song, but the article does go into depth as to why certain songs cause people to be earwormed. My Sharona!

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

unmarked white vans

“Look,” said Spring, “over there.”

“What?”

“There,” she said, pointing out the car window. “There's another one.”

“Another what?” I asked, stealing glances as I drove.

“An unmarked white van.” Sure enough, there was an unmarked white van. “And look, there's another one,” she said, pointing elsewhere. Yup, another unmarked white van.

In fact, once you become in tuned to white vans, you can't but help to see them; they're everywhere! Over the course of a few miles we must have identified nearly a dozen of them in the area. Mysterious. White. Unmarked. Hard to see the drivers.

I wonder if it's some sort of … you know …


the MWCGGBUMHHWDSSESFGBLW

Hi! On behalf of the MWCGGBUMHHWDSSESFGBLW group, I'd just like to say … Hi! We're a loving, accepting group of Eclectic Wiccans who worship the LIGHT! We believe that you can't hurt anything, because the rede says so! So we don't eat animals, because animals are people TOO! You know those meanies say that plants are alive too but they're just huffy because they're carnivorous and angry and not enlightened like us. But you look like a really NEAT person! You just might be PERFECT to join our group!

Greetings From The Fluffy Bunny Coven!

Um … yea.


Bouncy bouncy bouncy

I received some email from my old alma matter, Florida Atlantic University, from the Computer Science and Engineering Department. Now, you would think that of any department there, that the CSE Department would know how to run a mail system. But it seems they might have had a problem today:


Received: from reality.cse.fau.edu (root@reality.cse.fau.edu [131.91.80.40])
        by conman.org (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id MAA20467
        for <sean@conman.org>; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:52:54 -0400
Received: from trout.cse.fau.edu (majordomo@trout.cse.fau.edu [131.91.80.28])
        by reality.cse.fau.edu (8.9.3/8.8.8) with ESMTP id MAA20374;
        Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:50:52 -0400 (EDT)
Received: (from majordomo@localhost)
        by trout.cse.fau.edu (8.9.3/8.8.8) id MAA27498;
        Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:50:38 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from reality.cse.fau.edu (root@reality.cse.fau.edu [131.91.80.40])
        by trout.cse.fau.edu (8.9.3/8.8.8) with ESMTP id MAA27494
        for <ugrads@trout.cse.fau.edu>; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:50:37 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from trout.cse.fau.edu (serge@trout.cse.fau.edu [131.91.80.28])
        by reality.cse.fau.edu (8.9.3/8.8.8) with ESMTP id MAA20364
        for <ugrads@cse.fau.edu>; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:50:40 -0400 (EDT)
Received: (from serge@localhost)
        by trout.cse.fau.edu (8.9.3/8.8.8) id MAA27488
        for ugrads@cse.fau.edu; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 12:50:32 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from reality.cse.fau.edu (root@reality.cse.fau.edu [131.91.80.40])
        by trout.cse.fau.edu (8.9.3/8.8.8) with ESMTP id IAA23558
        for <ugrads@trout.cse.fau.edu>; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 08:36:08 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from polaris.cse.fau.edu (polaris.cse.fau.edu [131.91.81.5])
        by reality.cse.fau.edu (8.9.3/8.8.8) with ESMTP id IAA11902
        for <ugrads@cse.fau.edu>; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 08:36:08 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from cse.fau.edu (tuna.cse.fau.edu [131.91.80.10])
        by polaris.cse.fau.edu (8.9.3/8.8.5) with ESMTP id IAA08861
        for <ugrads@cse.fau.edu>; Wed, 10 Oct 2001 08:36:10 -0400 (EDT)

Seems trout couldn't handle reality today. Heh.

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Notes from a restaurant staff meeting

Rob and I went to T.B. O'McFlynnagans for a fairly late lunch/early dinner. We were sat near the back of the restaurant and while dining, we couldn't but help overhear their general staff meeting (since the restaurant was nearly empty of patrons).

“We're discontinuing the World Trade Center promotion,” said the manager. “T.B. O'McFlynnagans just donated over a million dollars toward the relief fund, which is more than any other restaurant has done.”

“But, like, what if one of the, like, customers, asks, or something?” asked one of the waitrons.

“Just tell them T.B. O'McFlynnagans has dontated over a million dollars. No other chain has matched that. For instance, XXXXXXXXXX grosses only three or four thousand dollars, and at ten percent, that isn't much money. Heck, today we might gross six thousand, and at 10% it isn't that much. So just tell the customer that we gave over a million dollars. Okay?” I'm guessing heads nodded, as I was actually facing away from the meeting.

“Okay. Now, the flags are coming down,” said the manager. I looked around the bar area, and taped all around it were American paper flags; every visible surface area had a paper flag covering it. “They've been up since the attack, and I think it's been long enough.”

“So, dude, can we, like, keep them, dude?” asked another waitron.

“Yes. If you want.” Pause, while I assume the manager was looking over the assembled workers. “So, we're no longer doing the promotion and if customers complain, oh well. And the flags are coming down. Anything else?” Apparently not, for the meeting ended right there.


Notes about a rainbow

Driving back from dinner Rob and I saw a perfectly formed rainbow across the sky, and just above it, so faint that it could be barly made out, a second one.

12. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

13. I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

14. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

Genesis 9:12-14

While in the Western world a rainbow is seen as something good, in certain tribes in the Amazonian basin, rainbows are considered to be an ill omen or of evil. I don't know for sure, but my guess would be that in the jungles, animals that are poisonous to eat show this through bright colors in their skin or plumage, while non-poisonous animals are more earth colors—greens or browns. So things that are brightly colored should be avoided, and because rainbows are brightly colored, they too, bode ill.


Conversation about Spam

“You actually like Spam?” asked Mark. “I don't believe it!”

“Yes,” I said. “It's actually quite good.” JeffK made gagging noises. “Hey, have you actually tried it?”

“Yes,” said Mark. “It's gross. And do you know what it looks like coming out of the can?”

“Yes,” I said. “It pretty much looks like the can, only pink.”

“Who introduced you to Spam?” asked JeffK.

Spring,” I said.

“And you fry that up?”

“Well, Spring actually does the frying,” I said. “It's really good fried up. Why don't you try some?”

“No thanks,” said Mark. “Why don't you try it, Jeff?”

Jeff balked. “Well … only if you try it too!” he said to Mark.

“I'm not trying it, I have an excuse not to eat pork products—Jewish.”

“Convenient,” I said.

“Of course.”

“Well if he's not trying it, I'm not,” said JeffK.

Guess my friends just won't know the wonders of Spam.


Scrabble

Mark, JeffK and I decided to play a game of Scrabble®. Mark had never played before but JeffK and I told him the rules wheren't that hard. What was hard was the game we played. I went first, with a 22 point ZIT. Mark went second, with a three point LIE and then JeffK went, with a 22 point QAT. The game went downhill from there; the bulk of the words being formed in the lower right hand corner of the board (the upper left hand corner never did get used). The play of the night had to be JeffK's 54 point play of KITES and RAMPS (the S sharing a Tripple Letter Score spot). Needless to say, JeffK won the game. Mark did respectable for his first game ever.

Friday, October 12, 2001

“Hey, let's give it to Mikey!”

I'm beginning to think that the CSE department at FAU can't run a mailserver. I received two more pieces of email from the department, and in both cases it's bouncing around from server to server, which looks like each server is going “Me deliver this? I don't want to deliver this. Here, you deliver this.”

unmarked white vans ii

Fourty-one. They're everywhere, I tell ya. Everywhere!

The Hallmark Kid

During lunch, I grabbed the latest copy of the New Times, a local free paper here in Lower Sheol. Normally, I wouldn't mention it at all, except for the headline:

Ryan Lipner's infatuation with all things Hallmark seemed harmless enough—until he turned to a life of crime

The Rise and Fall of the Hallmark Kid

What? Is he like the Riddler? Leaves a greeting card behind on every one of his capers? Is he a supervillian? How odd …

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Afghanistan—it's a dangerous place

Gone were the network war hogs who hiked in from Peshawar and wrote stirring tales of muj bravery. Now sleek white UN turboprops off-loaded female journalists in waiting chauffeur-driven black Mercedes. Over lunch and dinner at the UN mansion (with exercise room, satellite television and bar) they chronicled the horrors of the lack of health care, the treatment of women and generally how life sucked and apparently just for women. There was even a standard journo junket. The first stop was to see Mullah Qalaamuddin, the deputy head of the Religious Police (the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice), where every writer was assured to get a few giggles from the latest fatwah: no paper bags, no white socks, four fingers of beard and no picture-taking. Then off to a barber for a little humor, a clandestine visit to a girl's school, pack a lunch for the Friday executions and then back to Peshawar to file. The object of their journalist lust? The dreaded burqa, a garment worn by every women outside of cosmopolitan Kabul for centuries but suddenly held up as being a sign of the devil in Kabul. Not many paid attention when Hekmatyar made it mandatory long before the Talibs showed up. The writers never really mentioned that they were in the most destroyed city on earth, a militarily occupied zone with a war raging 15 kilometers to the north, rockets raining into the city and young men are pressganged. Somehow in their zeal to create women's rights in a country staggering to its knees, they forget to mention the complete lack of jobs, housing, medical care, health services and education for men (who must provide for their women and children) let alone women. The articles inflamed the world and shut down any aid to the wartorn region. How did the Taliban get lynched on women's rights? It's akin to taking the KKK to task for not providing minority scholarships.

Afghanistan-DangerFinder

This is a fun site. The commentary is colorful yet very informative, using humor to get the point across—this (and every other country profiled on the site) is a very dangerous place to be, and why the place is dangerous.

They even give background information on the Players in the area, like this on the Osama bin Laden:

So let's just say Binny is the bearded Ross Perot of the Middle East. Technically Binny Bang Bang (he keeps going an going and going and going …) can now join Castro and Qaddafi for drinks at the Bad Boy's Club, unless the United States keeps turning off his cash flow. A man with 40 brothers, 13 sisters and wealthy patrons can probably play hide the pickle longer than the State Department can. For now bin Laden is a right-wing billionaire (or millionaire or even destitute, depending who you talk to) who combines industrial activity with political activism.

Afghanistan-Osama bin Laden

Or even this on the Taliban:

The black-turbaned Taliban are a PR agent's worst nightmare. A visual mix of Darth Vader gansta rappers and rejects from a Bible play, they come to press conferences with Noriega-style Ray Bans, scruffy beards, long black robes, armed bodyguards and an attitude that makes Louis Farrakhan seem like Mr. Rogers. The Taliban are not bad guys, they're just a little rough around the edges and they don't get out much. Maybe a guest shot on Oprah with a sensitivity coach would help them "address their issues." Their leaders are primarily 40-something muj selected from the Durrani tribes from the backwater southern provinces of Helmand and Uruzgan. They are a simple, pure people led by very religious but culturally isolated mullahs who want outsiders out of Afghanistan and to establish a pure Islamic state. They are simply mad as hell at foreign intervention and ain't gonna take it any more. The funny thing is their northern enemy says they are just the latest Pakistani-backed stooges in this too-long-running war movie/soap opera.

Afghanistan-The Taliban

You should probably just go read the site before I quote it in its entirety here.


How to even describe this thought

I just had a weird thought.

Native Americans, those that where here before the European invasion of 1492 and covering those of both North and South America, are genetically incapable of growing facial hair.

The Taliban made it a crime to have a beard less than four finger widths in length, and if it isn't long enough, you spend time in jail until you have one long enough.

So, does that mean that a Native American, assuming one would want to, can't belong to the Taliban? He probably can't become an Orthodox Jew or even become an Amish Mennonite.

“Although,” said Spring when I told her this, “the Amish might be more forgiving and let one become a member.”

“But in the Amish community, when a man becomes married, he has to let his beard grow,” I said.

“Okay, then maybe a Native American who becomes Amish can't get married,” she said.

Like I said, it was a wierd thought.

Sunday, October 14, 2001

Post Apocalyptic Boca Raton

Spring and I were hanging out with Mark, Kelly and Adam when I suggested we take a walk. It was an option earlier in the evening but we found ourselves bowling, Denny's and finally back at Mark's. All agreed except for Adam, and after a long conversation about which vehicle Adam would drive home, either the Mitubishi SUV or the BMW 325i (he was renting both, but lending one of them to Mark—don't ask, long story) he left (in the BMW 325i as he had a date later on) and the rest of us took a walk through residential Boca Raton.

We ended up in a section of Boca Raton just east of FAU where Mark and Kelly showed Spring and I an abandoned section of Boca Raton which was very interesting.

It seems that during the late 60s/early 70s a developer had built some roads and put up four demo homes in this particular area and thought he could get approximately $100k per home, when homes in that area at that time were going for $50k-$70k per home. No one bought in, and after awhile the demo homes were knocked down and the area left to itself.

The roads are still there but are mostly overgrown and you can't even see the area from the populated roads immediately around it. Water and electrical services are still there; it's just waiting for some developer to buy the land and start building, but we decided to head back there during the day to take pictures and document the area before anything happens to it.

It's about the closest you'll get to a post-Apocalyptic Boca Raton in Boca Raton, and I'm amazed it's been like this for so long.


Almost live

Just finished up with some last minute bugs in mod_blog and now it's pretty much ready to go live. I now need to write lots of verbiage describing what I'm trying to do, but reguardless if it's ready or not, it will go live by Tuesday, the latest.

Woo hoo!


In going through past entries testing the navigation, I realized that I had actually repeated myself. On April 20th of last year, I wrote about Hoade and I meeting Jim Davis (who we meet on April 20th of 1981). I also wrote about it this year on August 16th.

Sigh.

I get the feeling I may repeat myself from time to time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Hey! I know him!

Oh my!

It seems that my friend Ken and his Significant Other made the front page of the USA Today Money Section. The article is about couples that both loose their job and how hard it is to survive in these lean uncertain times.

Ken is managing by forming a company with his Significant Other in order to keep the money coming in and them under their new house.

Oh my!


Van Gush

Spring and I were out buying a mattress (my twin bed mattress is not cutting it; neither is Spring's futon mattress) when we noticed a copious amount of radiator fluid underneath the van. She popped the hood and it looked like a small hose came loose and was draining all the fluid. But it was on the bottom of the engine block, so it was hard to reach it from the top, and nearly impossible to see it from the bottom without getting an eyeful of chemicals.

Spring tried reaching down but when she grabbed the hose it fell off. It was a small segment of hose, maybe five inches in length. Fortunately, there was an auto repair shop next door. Unfortunately, the auto repair shop was closed (it being 6:00 pm and all), but fortunately, there was an auto parts store across the street. We decided to load up the van with the mattress and drive there.

They couldn't help us. No one there knew anything about vans, and even if they did, Margate city ordinances disallowed anyone making vehicle repairs in the parking lot (according to a sign on the building).

We then decided to attempt the drive home and hope the tempurature would stay low. We got about two miles before having to turn into a parking lot and shut the engine off to cool it. Spring was jonesing for a cigarette so we got out of the van to walk to a gas station on the other side of the parking lot when we realized we parked right in front of an auto repair shop that was still open!

We have to leave the van there overnight while they check it out. Meanwhile, we called Rob to pick us up at the repair shop.

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Van Gone

The repair shop called today—the bottom of the radiator is completely rusted and needs about $1,200 for repairs. Spring had been thinking about selling the van anyway, since it had been overcome by entropic forces anyway. She was able to sell to one of the mechanics.

We headed over there to clean out the contents. Unfortunately, we had to leave the mattress there since it wouldn't fit in my car, but we made plans to transport it home with Rob since he has a vehicle large enough to transport it.


When tuna goes bad

“Hey, what happened to the tuna?” I asked. There was a small Tupperware container of tuna in the refrigerator.

“I gave it to the cat,” Spring said. “It was old and kinda off. You can't eat that, but the cat can.”

“Oh?”

“Yea, dogs and cats have great immune systems—it comes from licking your butt.”

“Ah.”

Thursday, October 18, 2001

On Hearses and Mattresses

We had a rather busy afternoon today. Rob, Spring and I spent a couple of hours having lunch and picking up a mattress.

Lunch was at Stir Crazy's, with the misspelled Chinese words but the food is good.

We then drove to pick up Rob's hearse. Yes, he owns a hearse. A 1972 Cadillac Hearse. The thing is huge. The thing is purple. The thing is feared and hated by the Condo Commandos so Rob parks it at a local storage facility.

We drive over to the auto repair shop to pick up the mattress. They were rather amused to see a hearse pull up, and even more amused when we loaded the mattress into the back of it (it almost laid flat—yes, the hearse is that big).

Then home, a quick unload of the mattress, and then back to the storage place before the Condo Commandos give us any grief.


hack hack hack

Lots of work on the code that drives the Boston Diaries. Lots of clean up work.

The Creature Wasn't Nice

Late in the evening, Spring and I met Mark and Kelly at a restaurant for dinner, then over to Mark's house to watch a movie.

We ended up watching The Creature Wasn't Nice (aka “Naked Space”). It starred Cindy Williams and Leslie Neilsen as crew members aboard an exploration starship that is being terrorized by a large slimy, gelatinous creature. It's amusing, but it just doesn't sink to the levels of badness that Plan 9 from Outer Space achieves that makes it worth the trouble of seeing.

The Creature Wasn't Nice isn't a film I would go out of my way to see, but if it's there, and there's nothing else worth watching, then yea, I'll watch it.

Friday, October 19, 2001

They're everywhere …

When we got home from Mark's there was a message on the answering machine (we got home around 2:30 am):

“Hi, this is Mark. On the way to drop Kelly off where I work, about two miles from my home, to get his his car,” said Mark, “we saw three unmarked white vans. Just thought you might want to know.”

I'm telling ya …


Almost there

You may have noticed some rather odd entries yesturday that are no longer there. Well, I was testing a bunch of code that allows me to post entries via email or a web page form. I then had to test code to test a configuration file (to allow more than one blog on the system) and I'm finding that the code to generate the RSS file is buggy and misses entries. It has to do with how I internally store entries.

But aside from that, it's pretty much done now. All that's left now is to move the programs over to the server, copy the archive over, install everything, and then it'll be live.

Woo hoo!

Oh, also expect to see a bunch of new entries for the previous days pop up at odd times too. I have notes, but I have to actually write the entries.

Saturday, October 20, 2001

M & N's—the candy of the web

Stop! Go back and re-read the subhead above—at least 2–3 times—then let it sink in before continuing.

The sentence above illustrates the proper use of the hyphen and the two main types of dashes. They are not the same, and must not be confused with each other. In some fancy fonts the difference is more than just the width—hyphens have a distinct serif. If you don’t know the rules already, let’s review them. First, though, a definition:

An “em” is a unit of measurement defined as the point size of the font—12 point type uses a 12 point “em.” An “en” is one-half of an “em.”

Via Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: The Daily Report, A List Apart: The Trouble With EM 'n EN

So it made sense to use double hyphens (–) instead of em dashes and double primes (") instead of quotation marks. In any case, those workarounds were already familiar to anyone who’d grown up with typewriters, and readers adapted to ascii-only typography during the early days of the Internet when usenet, email, and the web all shared the same primitive markup and text display.

These days, standards-compliant browsers can handle entity names, and even Netscape 4.x can manage numeric entity codes—but why should you care? After all, using the technically correct punctuation marks would mean a dozen new entities to be memorized and a lineup of well-meaning but under-informed editors and teammates to win over—and retrofitting any significant amount of copy is always a hassle.

Also via Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: The Daily Report, A List Apart: Typography Matters

It may seem strange that a programmer would care about typography, but it's not unknown—Donald Knuth took 10 years off writing The Art of Computer Programming to write the computer typographic system, TeX.

So I wrote some code to translate some of the more egrarious hacks I've been using to get what I want, and converted over using the proper characters that are available. And yes, I checked the the Usual Suspects (Lynx, Netscape, Mozilla and Microsoft IE) and they all support the characters (well, Lynx as best as it can) required, so that's that.


Cleanup

In preparing to go live, I'm going through the past entries and making sure that they're consistent with what I'm doing now, and attempting to validate my documents to HTML 4.01 Strict.

So far it's taken me a few hours to go through December 1999, January 2000 and February 2000 and the current entries. And in doing so, I found out a couple of things I didn't know about specifying URLs within the <A> tag: You have to escape any ampersands in the URL!

News to me, but I suppose if I read the spec carefully enough it would be apparent, and all the browsers I checked (Lynx, Netscape, Mozilla and Microsoft IE) all handled it correctly.

So it looks like that I might want to add code that accepts the entries to make corrections in the HTML code I type in. Maybe even include the code I wrote earlier so I can still type “ and not &#8220;.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

A quick synopsis of Atlas Shrugged

Someone on a mailing list I'm on asked for a synopsis of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Since I had read it (a few years ago) and no one else had yet written one, I decided to jump in and provide it. So, here for your reading enjoyment is my quick synopsis.


“Who is John Galt?”

“I dunno.”


“Oh Dagny!”

“Oh Hank!”

“Isn't unbridled capitalism and selfishness grand?”

“And aren't socalists, communists, Kantian philosophers and Shakespearean actors the epitomy of evil?”

“Oh Dagny! I want you to have my hot new metal for your railroad!”

“Oh Hank! I want your hot new metal. Give it to me! But first, let me expose my shoulders.”


“Who is John Galt?”

“I still don't know.”


“Oh Francisco, why did you let them nationalize your copper mines? You Socialist turncoat! Hank needs your copper for his hot new metal!”

“Oh Dagny, I did it to show how evil it is for government to nationalize industries. Don't you understand? Joh—Someone told me that it was in my best interest to let them see the folly of their ways.”

“I don't fully understand, but I still like you.”

“Care to expose your shoulders to me?”

“I like you, but not that much.”


“Who is John Galt, Dagny?”

“He was an engineer for a company, who, with his incredibly rational and objective mind, made a perpetual engine machine but his company went socialistic so he left taking his idea with him, and dropped out of society, Hank.”

“My God! He was a God!”

“I must find him!”

“Care to expose your shoulders to me?”

“No.”

“Okay.”


“Oh woe is me! Francisco disappeared! Hank disappeared! What else can go wrong?”

“Hi. I'm from the government. I'm here to nationalize your railroad.”

“Over my dead body.”

“Give up!”

“Never! I think I'll go look for Franscisco and Hank!”


“What happened?”

“Your plane crashed in the middle of the Rockies, Dagny.”

“Where am I?”

“A capitalists wet dream of a utopia. I didn't save you because I'm altrusitic. The price you have to pay is to bare your shoulders to me.”

“Who are you?”

“John Galt.”

“Oh God, I'm having an orgasm! Of course I'll bare my shoulders to you.”


“The country is in ruins! What ever shall we do?”

“Let's nationalize everything that hasn't been nationalized and go on television to tell people it's for their own good.”

“But we can't! Someone took over all television transmissions!”

“Hi. This is John Galt. Communism is bad. Socialism is bad. Kant is eeeeevil. So was Shakespeare. Greed is good. Altruism is bad. So is charity … ”

Five hundred thousand hours later …

“This is John Galt, signing off.”

“Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”


“Isn't it wonderful? I showed the world how bad communism, socialism, Kantian philophies and Shakespearean plays are. Now the world as we knew it is dead! We can leave our Utopia and take over the world, Dagny!”

“Oh God, I'm having a orgasm! Here John, let me bare my shoulders to you.”


Good news is no news at all

I've long given up reading, listening and watching the news; it's just too depressing and makes me want to crawl up into a hole to avoid the nasty horrible world that we live in.

Okay, so it's a form of “poking my head in the sand” response, but it keeps me sane and happy, instead of psychotic and depressed.

So now it seems I should stop reading Slashdot. Between the DMCA forcing Alan Cox to censor the Linux Kernel changelog, Microsoft calling viruii “Industrial Terrorism” (no doubt using the September 11th attacks for publicity), the FBI wanting to see every packet, any article about the SSSCA, and unreasonable searches when going to and from work I'm afraid to say anything, much less step outside the door of the condo here.

Whatever happened to “News for Nerds. Stuff that matters.”? Or does this mean I should pull my head out of the sand?


The Bluescreen of Bliss

I'm reading CamWorld and I come across a link about Microsoft's new default background screen. The author of the piece claims it looks like the set from the Teletubbies, but I think it looks more like the set for the movie Toys.

But in any case, what exactly is Microsoft trying to say here? Their customers should be treated as children? That their operating system is nothing more than a toy? Come on, what could they be thinking?


Scientists drink beer to solve problem

The phenomenon of beer turning skunky after exposure to light has been reported in the literature for more than 100 years, Forbes notes, but only now have scientists pinpointed the underlying mechanism. Using a type of spectroscopy that exploits electron spin, the researchers compiled a computer simulation of the reaction by which light-sensitive molecules in hops degrade into unpleasant-smelling products.

Via techdirt, Chemists Determine Cause of ‘Skunky’ Beer

I don't drink beer (I don't really care for the taste, stinky or not) but a few friends of mine do drink it, so I'm passing it along.


Limited, sure. Compared to the age of the Universe …

Finally, the case of Dmitri Sklyrov is perhaps the most appalling of all. Among its other problems, the DMCA has taken what has traditionally been a civil matter (copyright issues) and criminalized certain actions. Dmitri Sklyrov wrote a program that removes protections from Adobe e-books, restoring traditional fair-use rights to e-book owners. Furthermore, he wrote this program in Russia, where it is not illegal. His company (and I don't believe there are any claims that he did this personally) distributed his unlocking software from a U.S. website, and on the basis of this Sklyrov was arrested when he made a trip to the U.S. Sklyrov has actually spent time in jail on these extremely flimsy grounds, and faces a criminal prosecution in the matter. Despite the fact that Adobe has subsequently said it doesn't wish for Sklyarov to be prosecuted, the government is continuing in its case. This is apparently the reward that the government gives for people who stand up for their fair use rights under copyright law, and is the primary reason I'm remaining anonymous.

Interesting Rant on Copyrights Along with MS DRM Crack

Aside from the rant (which should be read) this issue brings up an interesting way to do an end run around the Constitution. I'm sure the Founding Fathers had no idea that corporations could get so powerful but well, they have and it does suck.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Oh, yea. I don't really need that …

I read about a devloper making a program that allows him to make blog entries from his Palm Pilot and I thought You know, I have this Palm Pilot here—I can do something similar. I then played around with the Pilot for a bit until I realized that hey, I have an email interface to my journal, the Palm Pilot has an email interface … um … I don't actually need to do anything …

Heh.


“I'll pencil you in for a race tomarrow … ”

“Hey! You wanna race?”

“Hey! You! You wanna race?”

Spring and I turned to see who was talking. We were in the car, sitting at a red light and the driver of the car next to us was motioning at us. “Yes?” I answered.

“Hey, you wanna race? Test out your engine. Maybe lay some rubber?”

“Um … ”

“No, I don't think this car can handle it,” said Spring.

“You sure?”

“Yes,” I said. “I don't feel like racing tonight.”

“How about tomarrow? If I see you tomarrow, maybe then we can race?”

“I'll think about it.”

“Yea? Yea. Good.” The driver then faced forward to wait for the green light. We turned back to watch the light.

“Hey!” We turned back towards the driver. “I'm sorry. Please excuse me. I've have a very harrowing day.”

“No problem,” I said as the light turned green and he drove off.


“Why I always carry a steering wheel.”

After not racing the other driver, Spring and I drove to the Starlite Diner for dinner. As we were eating a guy walked in, a steering wheel in his hand, like he always carried a steering wheel in his hand.

“Must be a theft deterrant,” I said.

“Must be,” she said.

After eating we were walking towards the car when we saw a fire engine red 60s convertable sans steering wheel. “Definitely a theft deterrant,” I said.

“Unless you have a wrench or another steering wheel,” said Spring.


Lemon Aid

I was checking my email when Spodie, Spring's cat, lept up on my desk, like he usually does. Only instead of using it as a launch pad to the top of Spring's monitor, or walking around my monitor to stuff his tail up my nose, he started gnawing on the USB cable attached to my webcam. I swatted him, so he decided to use my desk as a launching pad to the top of Spring's monitor. But in doing so, his paw hit the middle button on my mouse.

A bit of a digression is needed here. My primary system runs Linux, which means that I typically run the X Window System. On the X Window System, the middle mouse button will automatically does a paste operation. I also use elm to read my email. End of digression.

So the upshot is that Spodie sent a barrage of random commands to elm and it started beeping and booping and generally getting locked up tight. I closed the window to kill the application as Spring literally tossed Spodie out of the Comptuer Room and shut the doors (which required some effort on her part as they didn't really want to shut).

No harm happened to my email—it was more annoying than damaging. But keeping the door closed meant the room became an uncomfortable tempurature, as well as keeping Rob out (which we don't really want to do).

Sorry, another digression. Earlier in the day we went food shopping and one of the items we picked up were a dozen lemons for fresh lemonade. Spring likes lemonade, and she made a batch as soon as we got home.

Yet another digression—cat's hate the smell of lemons. It's a natural cat repellent.

So, wanting to keep the doors open, Spring fished out the lemon rinds, stringed them on a cord, and stretched it across the doorway—all to keep Spodie out of the Computer Room.

Somehow, I suspect we may have a bit too much time on our hands.

Thursday, October 25, 2001

Collapse of the Internet

I received the following in email today from my old college (where I still have an account):

From: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX <XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
To: sean@conman.org
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2001 16:35:28 -0400
Subject: CSE-UGRADS: CSE Department Seminar- Friday 10/26
Precedence: bulk
Status: RO

A reminder that the next lecture in our Department Series is scheduled for this Friday, October 26th at 11AM in room 309.

Dr. Borko Furht will give a seminar on:
   “Internet Glory and Collapse”

All are welcome, refreshments will be served.

Isn't it nice to know that the Internet has already collapsed? Nothing to see, move along, get back to normal.

In other email, I got something from taliban@msn.com, but that's just regular spam for a porn related site. Figures.


“Set the Wayback machine to 1996, Sherm … ”

Oh my. I just came across the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, with an archive of the web going back to 1996. Okay, it may not be the entire web, but as they state:

You are about to use the world's largest database. With over 100 terabytes and 10 billion web pages archived from 1996 to the present, the Wayback Machine puts the history of the World Wide Web and the sum of all human knowledge at your fingertips. To start surfing the Wayback, type in the web address of a site where you would like to start, and press enter. Then select from the archived dates available.

I tried it on an old URL of mine:

http://pineal.math.fau.edu/~spc/

And yes, it did fine a link to that page, and unlike Google's cache, it includes the picture that was on the site at the time. Quite impressive.

I then decided to see if I could resurrect the site my old partner Chuck had, but the site kept giving me internal server errors. Hmmmm …


“I'm the boss … ”

Well, Spring was able to find Chuck's old page at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Cool, now you too can see what Chuck looks like.

“I'm the boss … ”

Well, Spring was able to find Chuck's old page at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Cool, now you too can see what Chuck looks like.

Friday, October 26, 2001

Memento

Or should that be “where the film has been”? Unlike “The Sixth Sense” and “The Usual Suspects”—indeed, unlike almost every other celebrated “puzzle film” in cinematic history—“Memento's” puzzle can't be undone with a simple declarative explanatory sentence. Its riddles are tangled up in a dizzying series of ways: by an elegant but brain-knotting structure; by an exceedingly unreliable narrator through part of the film; by a postmodern self-referentiality that, unlike most empty examples of the form, thoroughly underscores the film's sobering thematic meditations on memory, knowledge and grief; and by a number of red herrings and misleading clues that seem designed either to distract the audience or to hint at a deeper, second layer of puzzle at work—or that may, on the other the other hand, simply suggest that, in some respects, the director bit off more than he could chew.

All of the notices about the movie have told us that the story is told in reverse order. We hear that Leonard, played by Guy Pearce (“L.A. Confidential”), kills the murderer of his wife in the film's first scene, and that the film then moves backward from that point, in roughly five-minute increments, to let us see how he tracked the guy down, ending with what is, chronologically, the story's beginning.

It turns out that this is a substantial oversimplification of the movie's structure—and that's just one of the surprises that unfolds once you look at the film closely.

Via /usr/bin/girl, Everything you wanted to know about “Memento” (spoilers)

It sounds like a very intriguing movie—one that goes on the “to rent” list.


Patent nonsense

In fact, nine of the 16 claims on Sorensen's patent relate to the waffling. What requires so much elaboration? "Spacing. Depth. All sorts of things," Sorensen offers, then fesses up. “Basically the attorneys write a bunch of b.s. and hope they bore the patent examiner to death and he'll approve it.”

Fighting off Starbucks

Mark filed a patent while working for a previous company. I saw the original idea, and he read me the original patent before being submitted to the patent board at the previous company. He also read me the patent after it came back from the patent board and I swear, I wouldn't have recognized it at all. Mark barely recognized it. The lawyers made all sorts of extra claims because of the parts involved. They removed some claims because of the parts involved.

I think the lawyers basically made stuff up and turned it into Legalese™ in order to keep their jobs.

Saturday, October 27, 2001

The Mother of all Demos

On December 9, 1968, Douglas C. Engelbart and the group of 17 researchers working with him in the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, presented a 90-minute live public demonstration of the online system, NLS, they had been working on since 1962. The public presentation was a session in the of the Fall Joint Computer Conference held at the Convention Center in San Francisco, and it was attended by about 1,000 computer professionals. This was the public debut of the computer mouse. But the mouse was only one of many innovations demonstrated that day, including hypertext, object addressing and dynamic file linking, as well as shared-screen collaboration involving two persons at different sites communicating over a network with audio and video interface.

Doug Engelbart's 1968 Demo

It's interesting watching the demo. There's a keyboard in the center, a rather large unergonomic looking mouse to the right, and a 5-key chorded keyboard to the left. Other than the shape, the mouse is easily recognizable as a mouse (a three button mouse no less). The chorded keyboard is rather odd (and something that didn't make it in today's mass market). The features include composition, editing, linking (like links used on the web today, but possibly more sophisticated) and collaborative work being done on two computers at the same time.

It would be an impressive system today. Back in 1968 it was mind blowing.

But he wasn't the only one working on hypertext at the time—there was Ted Nelson and his work on Xanadu (which has yet to be finished today).


Cute cheerleaders

Keith, a friend of mine from FAU had some extra tickets to the FAU Owls game at Pro Player Stadium down in South Florida (about half way between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale). I knew Spring wanted to go so I passed the invite on to her. Keith managed to produce two extra tickets and Spring convinced me (“Please? Please? Pretty please?”) to come along as well.

Keith showed up around 3:00 pm in the family conversion van with his brother T, coworker MM and MM's significant other CM. We piled into the van, and took the Florida Turnpike Ronald Regan Turnpike down to Pro Player Stadium. Parking was easy as it wasn't a large crowd. Upon emerging into the stadium proper, I saw that it was SPC vs. FAU.

“Wow!” I said. “I didn't know I was playing against the Owls.” SPC being my initials and all.

“Um, they're playing St. Peter's College,” said Keith. and we found our seats (7th row, just off the 50 yard line) fairly easy. Then Keith, CM and I headed off to find food.

Expensive food at that. The two cheese burgers and Cokes I got for Spring and I cost close to $20 (ouch) but since they have a captive audience I suppose they can get away with such hurtful prices. As the mighty hunters returned with food, the game started.

I will admit that I spent a fair amount of time viewing the cheerleading squads (FAU had three squads out on the field, St. Peter's none) and not really paying attention to the game. That's okay, since Spring was viewing the cheerleading squads as well. The FAU Owls' mascot handler was also cute (she was helping him navigate the stands to prevent him from tripping).

By halftime, the score was 19 to 0, and not in FAU's favor. To start the Half Time show, a few Hooters girls came out, slowly followed by the Hooters Owl waddling (and waddling he did—the costume crotch was only a foot or two off the ground) out. Two lucky contestants had to race up and walk around a baseball bat five times, then toss two hula-hula hoops over the Hooters' Owl; the owl had a preferred preference towards the girl contestant, but in the end, the guy won.

Then, to the music of Orff's Carmina Burana the Hip Hop Kidz took center field for the rest of the show. Spring picked out the littleist kid out there had a cast on her right arm, yet she seemed to still be enjoying herself.

Second half—more cheerleading watching. About the only real excitement of the whole game came when St. Peter's was 2nd down at the 1 yard line—FAU managed to keep them there and prevent a score by St. Peter. Unfortunately, the FAU drive from their own 1 yard line did not lead to a touch down, although the FAU defense kept St. Peter's from scoring at all during the second quarter.

But the FAU offense couldn't score to save their life. So the final score ended up being 19-0.

Monday, October 29, 2001

Andytown, Florida

Welcome to ANDYTOWN, FLORIDA!

Population: 500

GATEWAY to the West! Next stop, 87 miles.

Please don't feed the aligators. Thank you.

Non-existant sign for a non-existant city at the intersection of US-27 and Aligator Alley (now I-75) linking South Florida to Naples on the west coast of Florida.

In 1980 I received a free road atlas from the AAA as a promotion. I was 11 at the time, and right at the corner of Aligator Alley and US 27 was a small town with the amusing name of Andytown. I always wanted to visit the place as a kid, it being so close and all, but never did get a chance to. By the time I got a car in 1989 it was apparent that such a town never did exist, since in the 10 years I had been living in South Florida I had never heard mention of this town, but by then, I had heard that map makers usually add non-existant objects to maps in order to “copy protect” their maps.

A few days ago I told Spring this, and she found it amusing. I figured that since I have nothing else to write about, I might as well write about the copy protection mark that is Andytown, Florida.

As I was making the entry, I thought it might be fun to do a Google search for Andytown. I'm not sure what exactly I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting the town to actually exist! There are a lot of map sites offering to sell maps of Andytown and my thought was Boy, Rand McNally is going to great lengths to promote a town that doesn't exist. Spring thought that many people had the same map and thought that the town actually existed. Most of the information I had pointed to 26°07′30″ N, 80°22′30″ W. Very odd.

Looking further, I found out that Andytown existed after all but was demolished in 1979 to make way for the expansion of Alligator Alley, which may explain why I never heard of it (as I moved to South Florida in 1979).


“Amazon registered for first www-amazon.com … ”

While doing some research on Andytown I mistyped the URL for Google and instead of hitting a period between the “www” and “google,” I hit the dash and ended up at some domain squatter's site.

And no, it's not great.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

“He can sprew forth error messages at a furious rate!”

ErrorMan.com has stepped up to the plate to not only inform people of their Errors in a clear precise fashion but to prevent other less scrupulous Internet Entrepreneurs from using the errors to expose Internet users instantaneously to material that is intended for adult audiences. This is not a form of censorship, ErrorMan Inc. holds the highest regard for the Constitutional rights granted every citizen of the United States.

ErrorMan.com

Spring found him, hiding behind http://www-yahoo.com/ and boy, is the world a better place for it (that was sarcasm in case you didn't notice).

Besides the obvious notion that the world is nothing more than the 51st State, ErrorMan looks like a B-stringer for some small press super hero comic book lineup. Not only that, but that blue dot makes him look a big pugish, and the outfit isn't quite skin tight like all good superhero outfits are supposed to be.

I wonder how long it will be before ErrorMan is shilling Hostess Fruit Pies to an unsuspecting teenage population? And will they stop the Dreaded 404Man? Or how about the ever evil General ProtectionFault? Or that nasty of villains, Core Dump? Maybe tossing a few fruit pies would stop PC Load Letter, but since no body really understands her, maybe they won't stop her. Who's to know?

More to the point, who cares?


Missed it by that much …

I'm at the gas station, filling up the car. I'm aiming for $10 and I'm watching the digits count up. $7.00 … $8.00 … $9.00 … one, two, three, four, five, I'm pacing it, six, seven, I can feel it, eight, nine STOP!

$9.99 on the pump.

Darn. I squeeze the handle …

$10.01 on the pump.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”


More of Lost Florida

Yet more mapesque entries. A few weeks ago Spring and I were driving around. Okay, I was driving, Spring was passengering. She was also looking at a map of Florida I had in the car, concentrating on the section for South Florida (which consists of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and aaaaaallll the Palm Beaches, to mimic nearly all the radion and television stations down here) and right there, in Pompano Beach, is Storyland.

“Storyland?” I asked. I've lived down here for 22 years now, and I've never heard of the place.

“Storyland,” she said, pointing to the map. “See?” She held the map to where I could see it. At the next red light, I took a look.

“Yup. Storyland.”

So it's been in the back of our minds for some time now. I quickly checked the map in question just now to remember the name (“Toy—something or other?” “Um, … Storyplace?”) and one quick Google search later, and yes, it did exist. Neat!


Collection of Disinfected Mail

When I first saw the link for the World's Largest Collection of Disinfected Mail, I first thought it had something to do with the current Anthrax-laced mail floating around the States, but no:

Fear of the mail is nothing new, as the Pearson Museum's disinfected mail exhibit illustrates. The museum contains the world's largest collection of disinfected mail, accumulated by the late Emmet F. Pearson. Barbara Mason, curator of the museum, filled us in on failed attempts through history to sterilize filthy missives from infectious letter writers. We were more attentive to her leeches, bloodletting display and the mercury-preserved human hand at the time. But given the current public curiosity about separating junk mail from Jihad germs, we returned to our notes.

Emmet F. Pearson Collection of Disinfected Mail

Now, how did I come across this facinating piece of history? Well, the site I linked to in my last entry is a list of Florida's Lost Tourist Attractions. Which lead to Xanadu: Home of the Future and a quick Google search took me to The Last Xanadu at Roadside America where I found the afore mentioned link to disinfecting mail.

Forget Disney, these lost treasures of an America gone by are way cooler. And a reminder that there still is nothing new under the sun. Even disinfecting mail.


He's home, but it's a zillion light years from here …

That's the real truth. It's like the songs have been written already in their entirety before you were even born and they just fall into your lap. I feel guilty having to put my name on the songs sometimes because I write them, compose them, score them and it's all really the work of God.

IT'S WHY THEY CALL HIM WACKO

Does that mean God is Bad? Is Michael Jackson so far out of touch with reality that reality simply doesn't exist for him anymore? Or is it that reality will have nothing to do with the Gloved One?

Normally, I don't even come close to sites like this, but Jacko is soooo out there K-Pax would probably consider him out there.

“Mentally, I'm always in Never-Neverland—Hee-hee!” Yea, right.

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

The Halloween Tree

There must have been a thousand pumpkins on this tree, hung high and on every branch. A thousand smiles. A thousand grimaces. And twice-times-a-thousand glares and winks and blinks and leerings of fresh-cut eyes.

And as the boys watched, a new thing happened.

The pumpkins began to come alive.

One by one, starting at the bottom of the Tree and the nearest pumpkins, candles took fire within the raw interiors. This one and then that and this and then still another, and on up and around, three pumpkins here, seven pumpkins still higher, a dozen clustered beyond, a hundred, five hundred, a thousand pumpkins lit their candles, which is to say brightened up their faces, showed fire in their square or round or curiously slanted eyes. Flame guttered in their toothed mouths. Sparks leaped out their ripe-cut ears.

Halloween.

Sly does it. Tiptoe catspaws. Slide and creep.

But why? What for? How? Who? When! Where did it all begin?

“You don't know, do you?” asks Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud climbing out of the pile of leaves under the Halloween Tree. “You don't really know!”

“Well,” answers Tom the Skeleton, “er—no.”

Was it—

In Egypt four thousand years ago, on the anniversary of the big death of the sun?

Or a million years before that, by the night fires of the cavemen?

Or in Druid Britain at the Ssssswooommmm of Samhain's scythe?

Or among the witches, all across Europe—multitudes of hags, crones, magicians, demons, devils?

Or high above Paris, where strange creatures froze to stone and lit the gargoyles of Notre Dame?

Or in Mexico, in cemeteries full of candlelight and tiny candy people on El Dia de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead?

Or where?

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury


He's not even home anymore …

Not even 24 hours have gone by, the the link to Michael Jackson I gave earlier is no more.

Sigh.

So I've gone back and fixed the link. Savages.


Notes from Errands run during Halloween

So Spring and I were running around doing some last minute Halloween shopping, preparing for a gathering of friends later in the evening.

After lunch, we stopped off at Blockbuster to rent the movie for our Halloween party where we planned to MST3K a carefully choosen film—in this case, Hardware (in the imortal words of my friend Bill when we saw this in the theater when it came out—“This was so bad it was well worth the six bucks!”).

But Blockbuster was rather Lackluster in their selection of videos (they didn't even have a Science Fiction section!) we decided to try another store—Hollywood Video. A bigger selection, more sections (including a Science Fiction section) and cheaper prices. Since we weren't members, I started filling out the membership form while Spring went shopping for videos.

Why a video store needs my Social Security number I don't know (neither did I give it to them, nor did they seem to make a fuss over my non-compliance) nor why it requires me to give my zip code twice or phone number twice who knows? It was a rather silly form. When I added Spring to my account, I allowed her to rent NR (not rated), R, PG-13 and PG films, but not G. Can't have her renting G films (“I'm sorry Ms. Dew, but we can't let you rent that copy of `Marry Poppins.' You're not allowed to!”).

Video in hand, we were off. “Hey, Spring. See that car in front of us?”

“Yes, it's kind of hard to miss.”

I do love her so. “See those Chinese characters on the bumper?”

“Yes.”

“I hope he didn't pay a lot for those—they're upside down!” One of the benefits of taking Chinese calligraphy in college—I can pick these things out, even if I can't read the actual characters.

Our next stop was Wal★Mart but to our surprise, the store down the street from us was no longer there! Abandoned! Gone! We drove around the parking lot wondering what to do when we asked a few ped-xings what happened.

“Oh, they moved across the street! Next to the Lowe's.”

“Thanks,” Spring said, and we drove off.

To the largest Wal★Mart store I've ever seen. It's one of those Wal★Mart Superstores that are the size of small Latin American countries. Walking in I felt I had reached Conspicuous Consumer Consumption Mecca. Isles and isles of merchandizing. Satelite stores lining the edge. Thousands of people dashing about buying last minute Halloween supplies. We didn't feel like spending the next few hours trying to track down the few items we needed, so we left.

Next was the supermarket to pick up some food and lovely beverages. Home. Then back to the supermarket to pick up some lovely alcoholic beverages (“I knew we were missing something when we left,” said Spring).

Then relax a bit before the evening plans start.


The Pervert, The Artist and the Psychotic Operatic Killer Cyborg

Ahh Hardware. In the imortal words of my friend Bill: “It was so bad it was well worth the six bucks.” Yes, we saw it in the theater when it came out in 1990. And yes, it is that bad. Very bad.

Overall, the movie doesn't know what it wants to be—it starts out post Apocalyptic (which seems to be popular with Australian directors) then shifts towards a Cyberpunk sensibility complete with techno worship and corporate conspiracies, then goes operatic with a Luciano Parvoratti singing killer Cyborg straight from The Terminator (only with six limbs and fangs—I kid you not) and finally shifts back to post Apocalyptic at the very end.

The basic plot (as much as there is one) is Moe (Dylan McDermott) buys a bag of robot parts from a nomad and gives them to his girlfriend artist Jill. Only it turns out that the robot in question is a Mark 13, a killer cyborg made for the government for wanton killing (the populous, as it turns out in a very subtle sub-plot) and is capable of self-regeneration. So of course she uses the parts in a sculpture and one night, it regenerates itself and goes on a rampage, attempting to kill all in sight.

I never did figure out what role, exactly, Lincoln Wineberg, Jr. (the pervert) plays. He spies on Jill, tries desperately to hit on her, then becomes victim number one to the robot (“Here, let me open these blinds.” “Blinds? I didn't shut the blinds!” “There we go—ack!”). And just when you think it's over—it lives! It terrorizes some more. It sings tenor! It induces epileptic seisures in all who look at it.

Over all, just a real bad film.

Well worth the three bucks for renting it.

Obligatory Picture

[Here I am, enjoying my vacaton in a rain forest.]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site: http://boston.conman.org/, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

http://boston.conman.org/2000/08/01

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2017 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.