Thursday, December 08, 2005

RIP Dime

It's hard to believe Dimebag Darrell was gunned down here in central Ohio one year ago to this day.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Death or unga-bunga?

Did you ever have one of those days at work where you feel like you are one of the individuals given the choice of death or unga-bunga?

For those that do not know the joke:

Two men are captured by a tribe of savages. The chief walks up to the two frightened me and states “you have two choices: death or unga-bunga”, points to the first man and says “choose.”

The first man thinks about his choices then replies. “Well I don’t want to die. I choose unga-bunga.”

The chief raises his staff in the air and yells “unga-bunga”. All the savages yell “unga-bunga” and start dancing.

The first man is taken into the center of the village and the vilest of acts are performed upon him, over and over again for hours and hours until the man is simply a mere shell of what he once was. He is alive, but scarred for life.

The chief returns to the second man: “choose – death or unga-bunga.”

After witnessing the horrific treatment of his colleague the second man proudly replies “No human being should ever endure what that man did; I choose death!”

The chief raises his staff in the air and yells “Death, death, death by unga-bunga”.

It’s just like that at work sometimes. You have witnessed or been down a long and painful path and when given the alternative don’t see how it could possibly be worse; but it is. So you embark upon that long painful path again hoping that death comes quickly or salvation arrives.

Monday, November 28, 2005

War of the Worlds

This weekend I watched the updated Steven Spielberg version of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. The DVD was a Netflix rental, I did not see it on the big screen. I felt the same way about this movie that I did about Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith: I wasn’t terribly impressed. Unlike Sith, however, I’m not sure if a theater viewing would have helped with the experience.

“War of the Worlds” is about a dock worker named Ray (Tom Cruise) who is called upon by his ex-wife to watch over their kids; a slacker son (Justin Chatwin) and a modernized but typical allergy and affliction filled, “where’s mommy”, “I gotta pee” daughter (Dakota Fanning). Before Ray can awkwardly bond with anybody, a lightning storm causes a tall, mechanized, death-ray wielding camera tripod from hell to burst forth from the ground and just start frying everything in sight. The rest of the movie takes Ray and family across New York running from destruction, other people, death-ray blasting alien camera tripods, human grabbing and “processing” alien camera tripods, and strange mental cases planning attacks in deserted cellars (Tim Robbins). Then it’s over. Everybody is reunited and alive and relatively clean in mostly untouched Boston.

There are a number of ways I could review this movie. I could let it stand on it’s own as entertainment, I could compare it to “The War of the Worlds” (1953), or I could compare it to the H.G. Wells book The War of the Worlds (1898).

Standing on it’s own, War of the Worlds is almost a good movie. The movie is pure spectacle. It could have been a special effects “spooge-fest” but it isn’t; which is a good thing or a bad thing depending upon your viewpoint. The alien tripods were one-hundred percent believable. The aliens themselves were somewhat hokey looking. The plot was well sequenced but the cellar sequence was far too long and the ending was blatantly abrupt and disgustingly “happy”. The acting is above par, although most seem to hate Cruise’s mono-faced performances and Dakota Fanning’s constant screaming.

When compared to the “The War of the Worlds” of 1953 I would rate it slightly worse. It’s shocking when you realize that half a century separates these two films. The 1953 version was much better in most aspects, from the adaptation to the acting. Fifty two years of special effect evolution makes a massive difference but when compared to each other on equal ground the 1953 version still holds the edge on application and usage. I like their aliens better, too. I also liked the inclusion of faith in the 1953 version. The finale in/outside the church, the last sanctuary of humanity with all hell breaking loose outside, seems wholesomely realistic.

It has been about 28 years since I read the book and the black and white comic book that I obtained with it. I would have to re-read the book to make a comparison. Spielberg changed his version to have the alien machines hidden beneath the earth’s surface for what is presumed to be millions of years or at least before the genesis of man. Spielberg also kept the origin of the marauders hidden.

Most reviews of War of the Worlds attack it on the basis of sloppy science and use of political correctness. I think if you are one of those people, you are entitled to your opinion but I’ll consider you somewhat (or maybe entirely) an idiot. I program computers. I know there is no way in bloody hell that a nerd with a laptop could interface with, let alone write enough program code to be a destructive virus on a massive, planet-sized alien mother ship. My brother is a genetic chemist and knows dinosaurs cannot be grown from DNA in the belly of skeeter encased in amber. That didn’t prevent either of us from enjoying Independence Day or Jurassic Park. Frankly I don’t care if an EMP would prevent a camcorder from working, or if death-rays are the most inefficient ways of exterminating humanity, or if bacteria should have killed the aliens when they buried their machines millions of years ago. I also don’t care if this movie was sickeningly politically correct by not identifying the aliens as Martians, or having the pathetic single-dad, or that joining the Army is a worthless cause, or that occupations never work, or that human nature is really pathetic when you get to it, or that every impossibly grave situation will have a clean, happy ending in Boston. I felt the same way when I reviewed Land of the Dead.  If you can’t enjoy a movie because of social commentary or can’t accept the impossible in the name of entertainment they you have no business reviewing a movie or really discussing it openly. I think War of the Worlds would have been much better off without that social commentary but it wasn’t a deciding factor. I think Tom Cruise is a total whack-job outside of Hollywood, but on film he usually delivers acceptable to good performances.

To summarize, I’m glad I rented War of the Worlds. I probably would have been mildly disappointed if I had viewed in a theater or purchased the DVD outright. There weren’t enough special effects to make this a must have in collection and I don’t see it as a classic I watch over and over again.

Rotten Tomatoes

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Cleaning up the Inbox - part one

Cleaning out the Inbox at work...

Andy Rooney said on "60 Minutes" a few weeks back:

I don't think being a minority makes you a victim of anything except numbers. The only things I can think of that are truly discriminatory are things like the United Negro College Fund, Jet Magazine, Black Entertainment Television, and Miss Black America. Try to have things like the United Caucasian College Fund, Cloud Magazine, White Entertainment Television, or Miss White America; and see what happens... Jesse Jackson will be knocking down your door.

Guns do not make you a killer. I think killing makes you a killer. You can kill someone with a baseball bat or a car, but no one is trying to ban you from driving to the ball game.

I believe they are called the Boy Scouts for a reason, that is why there are no girls allowed. Girls belong in the Girl Scouts! ARE YOU LISTENING MARTHA BURKE?

I think that if you feel homosexuality is wrong, it is not a phobia, it is an opinion.

I have the right "NOT" to be tolerant of others because they are different, weird, or tick me off

When 70% of the people who get arrested are black, in cities where 70% of the population is black, that is not racial profiling, it is the Law of Probability.

I believe that if you are selling me a milkshake, a pack of cigarettes, a newspaper or a hotel room, you must do it in English! As a matter of fact, if you want to be an American citizen, you should have to speak English!

My father and grandfather didn't die in vain so you can leave the countries you were born in to come over and disrespect ours. I think the police should have every right to shoot your sorry ass if you threaten them after they tell you to stop. If you can't understand the word "freeze" or "stop" in English, see the above paragraph.

I don't think just because you were not born in this country, you are qualified for any special loan programs, government sponsored bank loans or tax breaks, etc., so you can open a hotel, coffee shop, trinket store, or any other business.

We did not go to the aid of certain foreign countries and risk our lives in wars to defend their freedoms, so that decades later they could come over here and tell us our constitution is a living document; and open to their interpretations.

I don't hate the rich. I don't pity the poor

I know pro wrestling is fake, but so are movies and television. That doesn't stop you from watching them.

I think Bill Gates has every right to keep every penny he made and continue to make more. If it ticks you off, go and invent the next operating system that's better, and put your name on the building.

It doesn't take a whole village to raise a child right, but it does take a parent to stand up to the kid; and smack their little behinds when necessary, and say "NO!"

I think tattoos and piercing are fine if you want them, but please don't pretend they are a political statement. And, please, stay home until that new lip ring heals. I don't want to look at your ugly infected mouth as you serve me French fries!

I am sick of "Political Correctness." I know a lot of black people, and not a single one of them was born in Africa; so how can they be "African-Americans"? Besides, Africa is a continent. I don't go around saying I am a European-American because my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather was from Europe. I am proud to be from America and nowhere else.

And if you don't like my point of view, tough...

For those who don't have time to keep up with the medical journals

In Pharmacology, all drugs have two names, a trade name and generic name. For example, the trade name of Tylenol also has a generic name of Acetaminophen. Aleve is also called Naproxen. Amoxil is also called Amoxicillin and Advil is also called Ibuprofen.

The FDA has been looking for a generic name for VIAGRA. After careful consideration by a team of government experts, it recently announced that it has settled on the generic name of Mycoxafloppin.

Also considered were Mycoxafailin, Mydixadrupin, Mydixarizin, Dixafix, and of course, Ibepokin.

Pfizer Corp. announced today that VIAGRA will soon be available in liquid form, and will be marketed by Pepsi Cola as a power beverage suitable for use as a mixer. It will now be possible for a man to literally pour himself a stiff one. Obviously we can no longer call this a soft drink, and it gives new meaning to the names of "cocktails", "highballs" and just a good old-fashioned "stiff drink." Pepsi will market the new concoction by the name of: "MOUNT & DO."

What is a committee?

A group of the unwilling, picked from the unfit, to do the unnecessary.

Good, better, best...

1) Good

An Erie, PA policeman had a perfect spot to watch for speeders, but wasn't getting many. Then he discovered the problem. A twelve year old boy was standing up the road with a hand painted sign, which read "RADAR TRAP AHEAD". The officer then found a young accomplice down the road with a sign reading "TIPS" and a bucket full of money. (And we used to just sell lemonade!)

2) Better

A motorist was mailed a picture of his car speeding through an automated radar post in Pittsburgh, PA. A $40 speeding ticket was included. Being cute, he sent the police department a picture of $40. The police responded with another mailed photo of handcuffs.

3) Absolute Best

A young woman was pulled over for speeding. As the Pennsylvania State Trooper walked to her car window, flipping open his ticket book, she said "I bet you are going to sell me a ticket to the State Troopers Ball". He replied, "Pennsylvania State Troopers don't have balls". There was a moment of silence while she smiled, and he realized what he'd just said. He then closed his book, got back in his patrol car and left. She was laughing too hard to start her car.

Kinfolk talking???

Bubba and Homer were sitting in back of their trailers, shooting the breeze. Bubba asked Homer, "If I snuck ovah to yore house while you wuz out fishin' an' I made love to yore wife, an' she got pregnant, would that make us kin?"

Homer scratched his head for a bit then said, "I don't think so, but it shore would make us even."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Are you bored? No games installed on your corporate workstation or laptop. Stuck in a meeting with that computer? Still bored? Well here is a neat little time waster. All you need is a:
  • scrolling wheel mouse
  • access to a web pages with a large table of contents (Google Oracle SQL Reference and find an available site)
To play:
  1. Load the page and go to the bottom of that page
  2. Place the mouse just below dead center
  3. Click the center scroll wheel once; the cursor will turn into dot with four directional triangles
  4. Move the mouse up and the cursor will become an up arrow and the screen will scroll down, the farther away from center the faster it will scroll
  5. The goal of the game is to get as far left as possible without touching text while "flying" as fast as possible
  6. Repeat until you get caught or you are no longer bored
Neat huh?

Yeah I was pretty bored.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

"Dead" the television series

This is an extension of the "Land of the Dead" post below, more specifically the idea of an ongoing television series. I would simply call it "Dead".


"Dead" the series would blend elements of the four George Romero zombie horror films into an ongoing series. "Night of the Living Dead" was set in a rural atmosphere. "Dawn of the Dead" started in the media then progressed to a shopping mall. "Day of the Dead" covered the military and scientific side in an isolated environment. Finally, "Land of the Dead" takes place in the future assuming all aspects of military and government have been destroyed, leaving two distinct social classes in a claustrophobic fortified setting. The series would start in urban settings but include characters from a rural setting. Running parallel would be a government and/or military environment that would eventually include a scientific aspect. The urban settings would fall quickly into chaos leaving small pockets of humanity in the story. Rural settings would hold their own against the outbreak due to even victim to attacker ratio and a less dense population (does not spread as fast). Various urban (the mall), military (secret base) and rural (various terrain) sub-plots would emerge and hold for a while. The rural settings would maintain humanity until they are undermined by humanity, i.e. their eventual downfall would be at the hands of man, not zombie. As the rural and urban settings fall, the isolated military settings would take stage until they collapsed upon themselves. The series from that point forward would stay in the fortified pockets of humanity building and evolving themselves until a logical end of the series could be reached.


The "zombies" would be the main characters but never the "stars" so to speak. To bring a more scientifically believable aspect to a scientifically impossible situation would require some alteration to the zombie profile. Zombies would start out as what is referred to as "rage" zombies like "28 Days Later" and the "Dawn of the Dead" remake; fast and horrifically violent. Days later the zombies would denigrate as they fight off the things that make zombies impossible: rigor mortis, muscle loss due to energy expended without metabolic replacement, etc. The final result would be the grotesque "shambler" present in Romero's movies.


  • the rural character(s), surviving but ending up in the fortified urban setting
  • the news media personality, urban
  • the mall security guard
  • the scientist(s)
  • the crooked individual turned good by the outbreak, urban, leadership
  • the urban refugees: a nurse, a strip-club owner, a dancer, etc.


  • military leaders poor in their leadership roles
  • a Hollywood mogul (eventual leader of a fortress city)
  • the cowardly bigot
  • the independent know-it all
  • the bigot


The timeline would start in an urban setting, mostly to get the rapid escalation within a believable context. That was one thing that I didn't like about "Night of the Living Dead", for a mostly rural setting the disease (just calling it disease for simplicity, who knows what really causes this) spread quickly. The DVD extras for the "Dawn of the Dead" remake had some good ideas that involved media hysteria and racial tensions that let the outbreak evolve quickly before anyone understood what was going on. The rural and military settings would integrate themselves. Eventually the three settings would have to fall leading to the fortress cities.

Pilot (urban)

  • Starts in rural settings where first death returns to the living: drug deal gone bad?
  • Race riots covered by news
  • Individual situations introduce some urban characters
  • Descent into chaos

Season one:

  1. Escape from news, end up at mall – new characters, let other's in?
  2. Common cause, uniting somewhat amongst the chaos
  3. Survivors; bus spots news chopper – eventually let it adding to group
  4. Television dies/pullback to Beverly Hills defensive perimeter (rich mogul)
  5. Doubts about leadership, each other, motives
  6. More survivors want in, debated over, zombie gets inside
  7. A hero dies (amongst others)
  8. Choices, more people = more supplies, less space, greater risk
  9. Leadership overthrown, citizens in control
  10. Use copter, strip club rescue – two more survivors, more food and supplies
  11. Cancer man dies, reanimates, people die; realization of what's going on
  12. The world is gone now/escape from LA (rich mogul)

Season two:

  1. Isolation
  2. Maybe it's not so bad after all
  3. Too many chiefs?
  4. Separation in small places
  5. Boredom
  6. Contact over the radio
  7. Contact lost
  8. More survivors, don't let them in, moral dilemma
  9. Invaded part one
  10. Invaded part two
  11. Then there were four, isolated, escape plans made
  12. Fall of the mall

Pilot (rural setting)

  • Characters meet in farm house
  • News and tension
  • Attempted escape, failure
  • Rescued but what of the rest of the world?

Season one:

  1. Hunting and killing
  2. Wandering
  3. Small town, eventually ruined
  4. Survival
  5. Supplies? The group thins.
  6. Tension builds, the fight for leadership
  7. Go to the city? Head for the hills?
  8. The split, group thins
  9. Safe haven in a small town
  10. Return of the city's influence
  11. City pollution
  12. Fall of the small town

Season two:

  1. Scattered
  2. Hunger
  3. Return to the farm house
  4. Uncertain future
  5. Back to basics
  6. Finally normal
  7. Attack of the posse
  8. Prisoners
  9. Escape
  10. Prisoners again, this time alone in the farm house
  11. And then there was one
  12. To the city, no place else to go

Pilot (government/scientific/military)

  • Introduce some characters
  • Military delegates to local law enforcement (who wish to handle situation)
  • National Guard involved

Season one:

  1. What to do? We don't know
  2. Deny everything/scientists start asking questions
  3. Rest of world starts to suffer, third worlds fall
  4. Use of military force, martial law, curfew that nobody can enforce
  5. Local law enforcement falls, overseas presence disappears
  6. Desperate realization that threat cannot be stopped
  7. Realization of what is going on, go public/scientific community tapped
  8. Rounding up the brains, not many survive
  9. Escape from Fort Pastor?
  10. Regroup at the capitol, leadership is failing
  11. Team assembles, President makes radio speech
  12. Escape from the capitol as zombies overwhelm government in a blood bath

Season two:

  1. Into the bunker
  2. Watching as the world crumbles around them
  3. Searching for answers, major has ideas (STUN satellite radiation)
  4. Where are the answers? Is it God's work?
  5. More answers than questions
  6. Need more specimens; tension between military, scientists and "mad" scientist grows
  7. The major dies, leaving the colonel in charge
  8. The colonel asserts himself demanding results, scientists in fear
  9. Contact lost with other scientists, sense of gloom deepens
  10. The president is dead (government ceases to exist)
  11. The colonel oppresses more
  12. Scientist killed, soldier commits suicide, zombies attack, few escape

Just some ideas.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

New 40 gallon aquarium pictures

You can see in most pictures that the red-finned shark has just torn away at the foliage around its lair, the delicate leaves of the wisteria plants come off easily. The tiger barbs are active fish and very hard to photograph, the danios even harder as they are constantly on the move.

The tiger barbs would probably be the main attraction of this tank. The algae eater stays hidden most of the time, the shark is always in it's dark lair under the driftwood, and the danios are too small and fast to be noticed.

I am considering the addition of three tinfoil barbs to make things interesting but I run the risk of reaching the stocking limits of this aquarium (i.e. 1" of fish per gallon of water).

Yes, that is the shark that killed the pleco.

Little Beefs (Biffs)

These are little things I really shouldn't worry my pretty little self over but tick me off anyways.

Excessive use of Macromedia Flash on web pages

I really only notice this on my laptop, still a formidable 1Ghz Duron running XP on 256MB of memory, but whenever I hit a page with flash I always get a nice six to eight second delay while all that extra flash crap loads. Flash is good for interactive movies and games but do we really need flash to do menus or to rotate news images or to slow down my web surfing experience to display an advertisement? It's just unnecessary.

Hands Free Cell Phone Zombies

A "hands free cell phone zombie" is a person who walks around aimlessly while talking on their cell phones using the "hands-free" ear-bud and clip microphone.

This actually happened to me. I was exiting my office and I walked past some chick who blurted out "what the f* are you doin'?" I stopped, aghast, looked her in the eyes and said, "Excuse me?" She looked at me like I was naked or blowing my nose in my hand. I didn't notice the hands-free equipment because of her long frizzy hair (wouldn't that interfere with her cellular signal?). She replied, "I'm talking to my friend, not you" then realizing the other party on the line probably heard that said, "not you, some guy here – I'm on the phone".

If these folks were dressed in tattered clothes walking around seemingly talking to themselves I'd call them derelict homeless.

Ring Tones

There is nothing I enjoy more than concentrating on my work at work only to have the relative silence broken by a loud, annoying, seizure-inducing ring-tone. I hate them with a passion, but would love to be the guy that invented them. Who knew people would pay money for a watered down version of some songs or random beeps.


I've already opened up enough cans of worms at home and work, so I'll just say "it seems like our priorities are out of whack and we appear to be heading towards a society that short of being an empire with the majority of people undervalued and overworked or mooching off everybody else."


Anybody remember the old days when you could get the operating system for less than $100 and BASIC came with it? Personally, I think XP and 2000 were the best products put forth by Redmond with 2003 having its merits.

It should be obvious even to the uneducated that Microsoft software locks you into a constant cycle of upgrade – both hardware and software. You know what, I can still publish documents in a WYSIWYG graphical user interface on a Pentium 166MMX with 16MB of memory just and I can on XP running on a 2Ghz Athlon system with 2GB of memory.

Lately however, with Genuine Advantage and Longhorn/Vista's new DRM systems I have to wonder if this is the moment in history when businesses and home users say enough is enough. Windows XP running on this system right now is powerful enough to do just about anything I can ask of it short of being a production server. Why on earth would I want to chuck the whole thing out the window in a year or two?

Is technology leasing the new wave on the horizon; lead by Microsoft and its hardware requirements? Would a home user be willing to spend $20 a month or so just to get new hardware every year or two?

A Big Beef - Fiscal Responsibility

I could really get in trouble for posting this because current, past and future employers could use this against me but I just have to get this off my chest. I am appalled at the fiscal irresponsibility in management.

I have worked in the Information Technology (computer programming, systems programming, etc.) for fifteen years and the last five to six years have been the worst. I have seen multi-million dollar projects driven slowly into the ground to provide little or no benefit to the people who should benefit from them. I have sat shaking my head in disbelief as large balance differences get written off as acceptable losses. I have watched years, even decades of knowledge and working technology literally get thrown out the window for something different.  I have seen programming languages come and go while offering no real benefit to the languages and technology they intended to replace. So much wasted money has passed before or around these eyes and the eyes of my friends that I almost literally broke down at the horror of it all last night.

What makes this even more sickening is that these managers who consistently do not do their jobs and manage are promoted and compensated on a grander scale. One CEO presiding over a company that has lost over 76% of it's value netted a six-figure bonus and salary increase (that's before all the other perks like vehicles, subsidies for side businesses, options, etc.).

Fiscal irresponsibility is not limited to management at big corporations. I'm disappointed that most youth nowadays simply have no concept of savings vs. spending. They will receive government assistance while strutting around with an iPod and flip-phone (with expensive plan) driving a "pimped" car and cable at home. How about the single mom who can't afford to fix a car but can afford televisions and personal-use cell phones for herself and both of her kids; oh and everybody smokes packs of cigarettes as well. I fully comprehend that these are bad examples of a system that is designed to (as does) help people that need help. Still, I see examples of poor financial skills almost every day as people rack up credit card and other debts without regard for living within their means. If you have a cell phone, DVD players, portables, cable TV with movie channels while getting assistance then you aren't poor.

Here in central Ohio there are numerous (if not all) school districts in dire financial predicaments. I grew up in a school district that took six figures worth of loyal taxpayer dollars for strictly cosmetic changes. My child goes to a school district that collects hundreds of dollars in fees in addition to one of the highest tax rates but seems to have a levy on the ballot every year. When I go to these schools, most of them are like palaces on the inside with lots of wasted space – what happened to a good traditional, functional school? This school system also made numerous cosmetic and technology upgrades alongside the necessary upgrades. Again, isn't this a recent thing? What are we paying for? Doesn't anybody in management understand the concept of good planning and forecasting; instead of building and building then begging for money to build more schools, then begging for money to operate these schools, then asking for money to continue operating these schools without having to cut sports and extra-curricular activities?

I have to admit that I'm guilty of some of this myself. I tend to keep mostly current computer technology in my house and I don't invest as diversely as I should (maybe I've been stung too many times by the markets in the past?). I also eat reasonably, drive an economical vehicle, save for special occasions, keep my credit cards paid off, keep cell phone usage to a minimum and keep myself protected.

For the rest of the world, maybe I just don't understand it. Maybe I just don't grasp the concept of upper management or running a school system or being a kid in a media-centric world that places value on possession instead of personality and purpose.

Maybe I'm just getting too old?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Health questions and answers

1. Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it ... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

2. Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

3. Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

4. Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

5. Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain .. ..Good!

6. Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

7. Q: Will sit-ups prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

8. Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? HELLO ...... Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

9. Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me ........

10. Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

(P.S. If you take this seriously, you really need to see doctor or a psychiatrist or both - lighten up!)

Monday, October 03, 2005


This was written after returning from the bathroom to take a pee-pee:

I’ve about had it with rudeness today, especially after just being called rude myself. Here is the situation:

  • I need to pee, I also need to fart – so instead of polluting my new office and thrusting foul odors on my co-workers (whom I all like) I go to the bathroom; seems logical.
  • I walk into the bathroom, choose the far urinal, unzip and start tinkling
  • Another dude enters to take a leak
  • While emptying my bladder I empty the foul gasses from my digestive track saying "excuse me".
  • The dude next to me says "dude, that’s rude" – and he’s serious

It’s a men’s restroom in a public building. It’s in a basement where foul gasses are always present either from the pipes and sewers underneath and/or from other people in the building far more capable of delivering colonic death biscuits than I.

Where else am I supposed to fart? Do I go running out in the elements? Do the taxpayers foot the bill for an exhaust system?

This goes with three instances earlier in the day where people were rude to me.

One. Walking to the gym for lunch I’m bowled into a woman twice my size who elbow-knifed her way to get through a door before I. I excused myself. She either didn’t hear me, recognize her rudeness, or perhaps spoke a different language than I – maybe "sasquatch" or something like that. No big deal, though.

Two. I am crossing a street (using a cross walk). I look back to see if anybody is turning right. Nobody is turning right so I proceed forward jogging toward the green "WALK" sign on the other side. Suddenly brakes hit and a horn follows. Some woman is looking at me with angry eyes. I point to the light, her car then myself saying "green light, no turn signal, rightaway". She replies "whatevah" then zooms around me into the oncoming traffic lane.

Three. I come jogging up to an exit, there is a nice car (black Mercedes) sitting there. I look in the car, some yuppie is dialing a cell phone number. I look at traffic, the guy can go. He doesn’t. I wait a few moments, make a "go" gesture with my hand, wait another moment, then quickly start across. Again, brakes and a look of "what?" on this yuppie’s face (still attached to a cell phone).

I could have potentially been run over by another cell-phone disabled driver but I wasn’t going to test my luck.

Format wars

"The nice thing about standards is, there are so many to choose from" – anonymous

So Paramount is the latest entry into the future of DVD "war", backing the Blu-ray format backed by a Sony led group and featuring Disney among others. HD DVD, backed by Toshiba and supported by Universal Studios, Microsoft, Intel, Warner Bros and more.

What is causing this war: "what is expected to be a multi-billion-dollar market for next-generation DVD players, PC drives and optical discs." Who will lose the war: the consumer.

This "war" parallels another format "war" over satellite radio. There are two competitors in this "war", XM and Sirius. Each requires a receiver and subscription, both offering different and unique content that you cannot get on the other.

What is causing this war: control over the market of paid audio services. Who will lose the war: the consumer and one or more of the vendors.

This was supposed to happen in the dish versus cable realm and to some extent it has. Various cable and dish services were going to offer their own exclusive packages but neither had the leverage to push out the common programming. That left customized sports and movie packages and price as the only bargaining points when looking at one or the other.

There are past "wars" that some of you may remember.

Anybody who has anything to do with web development will certainly remember the browser "war" initially between Netscape and Microsoft now seeming starting again between Microsoft and Firefox. Who lost that war? Netscape did. One might say the web developers did having to support different formats and markup code, but that created a good job market for a while. Effects of that "war" linger even today; just mention CSS boxes to web designers.

There was the little known "war" between DAT, DAC and ADAT. Nobody really won that war as DAT and ADAT live only in digital recording studios where computers aren’t prevalent. I forget who made DAC, I saw one at Sun TV but that was about it.

Probably the oldest "war" relevant to the others here was VHS vs. beta. VHS won that "war", at the height of it’s popularity even the poorest of people who could barely afford food each had two or three of them per household.

Can "AM" vs. "FM" be considered a war? Since both are still widely available I would probably say no.

There are probably other current "wars" that I’m forgetting. Or perhaps I don’t care enough about them to list them here; like compact flash vs. memory sticks vs. SD vs. (insert format the 7-in-1 readers read).

I think the point I am trying to make is when is all this going to backlash? When are we as consumers going to stop, look at the potential cost of this new technology, add it to the current cost of media services and technology, look at the new total and with eyeballs bulging yell out "sweet merciful Jesus" then pound a fist on (through) the table? How much of your monthly income is going (should go) to media?

Do I really need a new DVD format? I really don’t want to be a loser again.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Share the love, and the software...

Five pieces of software for Windows desktops that I use regularly and recommend:

IDM - shareware - $39.95

This low cost text editor has such a powerful feature set and flexibility it has more than paid for itself the two times I have purchased it. Now if I could just get my employer to support a fellow Ohioan with some additional licenses for my co-workers.

Opera Software ASA - free

I have been a loyal Opera supporter since version 6.01 and now that this alternative web browser is free I try to advocate it where I think it can be useful. Most of the extensions to the Firefox browser have been part of, stable and working in Opera for years.

K-Lite Codec Pack
Final Builds Site - free

The K-Lite Codec pack, and more importantly the Media Player Classic, Real Alternative, and QuickTime alternative pieces are mandatory items on any installs I do for friends or family. I haven't run into any video content that I couldn't play and this combination is a much more desirable option to installing Real One players and QuickTime players (which just maul your system, taking over everything) and dealing with the Windows Media player.

GAIM - free

GAIM is a multi-protocol instant messaging (IM) client, i.e. it's a somewhat bloated piece of software that replaces Yahoo! messenger, MSN messenger and AOL messenger (and other messengers), consolidating them and their bloat into one convenient place. I use it and try to keep family and friends using it, especially now that Yahoo! and AOL are getting more pervasive and annoying.

Open Office
CollabNet, Inc. and Sun Microsystems - free

Who needs Microsoft? Open Office is a multiplatform and multilingual office suite and an open-source project. Compatible with all other major office suites, the product is free to download, use, and distribute. Personally, I have no idea why colleges and universities force their students to obtain Microsoft software when the same functionality is available at a much lower cost (well, actually I do know why and it sucks).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

SPAM test

This is a test.

Apparently a blog spammer is watching and posting spam in the comments.

Let's see what happens...

Y'know it's pretty sad when people stoop to spamming in blogs that maybe one or two people other than the publisher, read.

Well, that didn't take long. A whole five minutes.

Eatery from my past now closed

Imagine my surprise when I saw this headline on NBC4's website:

Restaurant Closed After Failing Health Inspection

It has probably been close to a year since I last visited the Chinese Village Restaurant on North High Street, about three or four years since I regularly visited it with a friend that worked in The Ohio State campus area. I had noticed the past couple of times that business seemed down and it was the same two people there running the place.

"Officials found rodent urine on pipes" ... "human waste is contaminating stored food in the basement of the building" ... "it (human waste) was leaking (from a pipe) when we were there a couple of different times" ... "the food inside here is moldy, inside this cooler."


This doesn't surprise me, though. The restaurant always had a run-down look to it even years ago when I remember the small place being packed with customers.

Still, they had the best noodle selection in town. They are one of two places that offer chow fun the right way. Their rice noodle bowls were always delicious. The standard "Chinese food" dishes were always good as well.

It's sad to see such an establishment like this go south so badly. Hopefully the owner and his wife get the offered help and turn the place back into one of the best kept secrets on campus for cheap, good food.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Two cows

Political(?) humor from my aunt.
You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. Barbara Streisand sings for you.
You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?
You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.
You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk. You wait in line for hours to get it. It is expensive and sour.
You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.
You have two cows. Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milkthe other, and then pours the milk down the drain.
You have two cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one. You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses. Your stock goes up.
You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch and drink wine. Life is good.
You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Most are at the top of their class at cow school.
You have two cows. You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour. Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.
You have two cows but you don’t know where they are. While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman. You break for lunch. Life is good.
You have two cows. You have some vodka. You count them and learn you have five cows. You have some more vodka. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.
You have all the cows in Afghanistan, which are two. You don’t milk them because you cannot touch any creature’s private parts. You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives to milk production but use the money to buy weapons.
You have two cows. They go into hiding. They send radio tapes of their mooing.
You have two bulls. Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.
You have one cow. The cow is schizophrenic. Sometimes the cow thinks he’s French, other times he’s Flemish. The Flemish cow won’t share with the French cow. The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow’s milk. The cow asks permission to be cut in half. The cow dies happy.
You have a black cow and a brown cow. Everyone votes for the best looking one. Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally vote for the black one. Some people vote for both. Some people vote for neither. Some people can’t figure out how to vote at all. Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think is the best-looking cow.
You have millions of cows. They make real California cheese. Only five speak English. Most are illegals. Arnold likes the ones with the big udders

Friday, September 09, 2005

Mensa Invitational

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's 2005 winners:

  1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
  2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
  3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer,unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
  4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
  5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
  6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
  7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
  8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
  9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
  10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
  11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
  12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
  13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
  14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
  15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web. (Hee, hee...been there, done that.)
  16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
  17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.
  18. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Things I just don't get - chapter one

I was unfortunate enough to get stuck behind a school bus this morning on the way to work. First it stops on the main road in my subdivision to let about four kids aboard, then it travels a whopping two houses to pick up one child, then turns right into an eighteen house loop that exits back out at the first stop.

So the bus holds up traffic on the only exit street in the subdivision not once but twice and for a whole five junior-high/high school kids?

If I seem bitter it's because I'm middle aged and remember never being catered to so nicely by our bussing system. The subdivision I grew up in is just as dense as the one I live in now and stops were at minimum half-a-mile from each other. Now we are picking up kids within ten yards of each other? Who planned the stops on this route? I have a better solution. Instead of:

  1. Stop on main street in front of loop
  2. Pick up four kids
  3. Drive about ten yards, stop on main street again
  4. Pick up one kid
  5. Turn right into loop that has no more than eighteen houses
  6. Stop at least once, pick up more kids
  7. Turn right onto main street
How about:
  1. Turn right into loop, off main street where everybody is trying to get to work.
  2. Pick up the four kids plus some of the kids in the loop
  3. Drive to the other half of the loop, stop (still off the main street)
  4. Pick up the one kid plus the rest of the loop kids
  5. Turn right onto main street

I see this as a win/win situation. The kids get to walk a few additional feet and get some exercise. The kids are still safely within distance of each other if there are fears of abduction, etc. No inconvenience for drivers getting to work.

Maybe the problem is I make too much sense.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

D-Link DGL-4300 08/23 updates...

Some updates...
  • Wireless is still not as good as the Buffalo router. At the farthest point from the router where wireless access is still reasonable (i.e. not in the bedroom closet behind a wall of women's shoes), I am getting 14-28 Mbps stable. With the Buffalo router, I was getting 28-54 Mbps with occasional drops (resets, drops and drop-off to "poor"). However, wireless from the couch in front of the big screen was perfectly stable. Using WPA-Personal with a static IP address via DHCP and no wireless MAC filtering. I'm working on MAC filtering and dynamic IP addresses.
  • It's still expensive, nothing I can do about that.
  • "Gamefuel" has been turned on in "automatic" mode with the 384Kbps my service provide allows. To test things I started up five bit torrent downloads/seeds; a Linux .iso distribution, Autopatcher XP, a popular TV show, and two "adult content" files (a good test, I hope). My kid starting playing Call of Duty or Battlefield 2 with voice chat. I watched web surfing speeds from another computer. Speeds were sluggish with the torrents at 25KBps; the kid had no complaints. I backed off the torrents to 20KBps, then 15KBps. At 15KBps the download speeds were only slightly different than a network without any additional outbound traffic. Delays were still noticeable, but acceptable. The torrents were averaging about 12KBps out at the 15KBps setting, sometimes slower. I might try some manual settings for the game voice chat to lower it's priority and decrease all uploads to their lowest levels. I theory, that should give people using the home network priority while still giving the game enough bandwidth to hog. File sharing should be highly limited during times when the network is being used but should get plenty of upstream when it isn't. More to come...
  • I got remote desktop to work.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Even more aquarium fish

The sweetheart was grumpy yesterday so I purchased eight flame tetras (marketed as orange von rio tetras at Petsmart) for her to put in the 55 gallon community tank. That tank is almost complete; I'll probably remove the younger catfish and replace them with some colorful schooling fish, probably harlequin rasboras.

Image used from Elmer's Aquarium without permission.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The D-Link DGL-4300 wireless gaming router

I received my replacement wireless router yesterday night. The D-Link DGL-4300 wireless "gaming" router is a gigabit Ethernet switch, router, firewall and wireless access point with QoS (called "Gamefuel Technology", considers bit torrent and VoIP as "games"). Initial impressions:

The Good

  • The wired connections are stable and seem to be getting better throughput.
  • I can get to my cable modem diagnostics again (couldn't with the Buffalo router it replaced)

The Bad

  • Wireless is definitely not as good as the Buffalo WRT-G54 it replaced, it might need some tuning and I'm using WPA instead of WEP now but the signal does not reach into the upstairs bedroom and behind a door in my bathroom.
  • It is expensive; which is hard to justify for a lot of people
  • The "Gamefuel" (i.e. QoS) technical details are limited and there is very little practical information from D-Link or the Internet. It will be more experimentation than anything else
  • I haven't been able to get remote desktop via virtual port to work

The QoS section I still need to do more research on. But I was considering the following priorities from highest to lowest:

  1. HTTP, i.e. normal web surfing
  2. Mail
  3. Instant messengers
  4. Games
  5. All unmapped outbound traffic
  6. Voice applications (used for games) and web cams
  7. Usenet
  8. Usenet to road runner
  9. File sharing applications

I'm sure my kid wants his games at the top of the chart, but he is already monopolizing the majority of bandwidth if I'm not using bit torrent to share Linux distributions or Autopatcher.

More to come, I have a weekend to play with things.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The barb barrio chapter two - murder?

I came home from work today to find my "mostly invisible plecostomus" was now a visibly dead plecostomus at the bottom of the tank. It was three and a half inches long at time of death, no signs of fungus, ick, bloating, starvation or any other known problem. I'm fairly certain the red-finned shark killed it.

The rear area of the "barb barrio" is fully planted with water wisteria plants. The "mostly invisible plecostomus" was always hidden behind a plant, under the heater and bubble tube; it simply laid there all day, it's sucker mouth attached to a smooth rock. This plecostomus was the most territorial and aggressive of the two I owned when all my fish were in a 29 gallon tank. The left rear corner of the tank was dedicated to the red-finned shark as it's "cave"; the place it will defend and patrol. Wednesday, the day before he death, I noticed the plecostomus was not in his usually spot at the rear middle part of the tank, it was attached to the glass at the front left side of the tank. I assume that when the shark was patrolling the rear of the tank behind the plants, it chased away the plecostomus.

The only other causes I can think of would be either the shark has some sort of disease that is not noticeably recognizable or the onion plant had something on it the plecostomus ingested and died from. I'm ruling out starvation. Two algae wafers were dropped in the tank every other day, the same amount as before with the same fish plus an extra plecostomus. I'm fairly certain this plecostomus was digging up wisteria plants and stripping the bottoms of those plants.

In any case, it sucks to lose a large fish. "Little Plec" started as a Wal-Mart purchase to clean up algae in my tiger barb fry tank. Starting at just over an inch "Little Plec" grew quickly to over two inches, earning it a spot in the big tank. It had black stripes on it's tail, unlike all the other plecos I've had. It was like most older plecos, though. They don't eat algae, they uproot and strip plants, and you never see them until they come out under darkness for their algae wafer or zucchini wedge.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

New aquarium fish

Aquarium Adventure was having a half price sale on anything "living" in the store so I made the forty minute trip up to the Dublin area. I was looking for pearl gouramis, which are nowhere to be found anywhere else in Columbus and nobody seems to want to order them either. I was also considering a larger red-finned shark for the "barb barrio" and possible a school of tetras for the 55 gallon peaceful community tank. I ended up with a mature red-finned shark, three very small Siamese algae eaters, three small opaline gouramis, and two onion plants.

The shark and the onion plants went in the "barb barrio", the gouramis went in the community tank, and the Siamese algae eaters were separated one to each tank. The shark seems big enough to fend off the tiger barbs, who are mostly curious bullies but cowards against anything they can't bully. Everybody else seems adaptive.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Politics as usual...

In general, I hate politics. As a somewhat intelligent and rational person I'm stuck in the middle leaning left on occasion while keeping a foot in the right. Politics is ruining my place of employment and can make family get-togethers if not uncomfortable at least mildly embarrassing personally. I really don't want to enter into any political commentary, but what is the mother of deceased Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, Cindy Sheehan, thinking when camping outside President Bush's Crawford Texas ranch wanting a one-on-one conversation with the President of the United States of America during his five-week vacation? What does she expect Bush to do?

First off, I'm no Bush supporter. I can't stand when he gets on television and starts talking all yee-haw and yippee without going through his handlers first; it's embarrassing. But, what is Bush expected to do? Does he sit down again with this woman and listen to her demands - to bring home the troops now to honor her fallen son? If Bush listens to one-person because they camped outside his ranch in protest, doesn't this open up the door for every nutcase on the planet to pitch tent in hopes of getting a one-on-one to discuss their view or vent or swap recipes. Even if Bush wanted to bring home troops now how would it look if the leader of one of the planet's super powers acts on the advice of a grieving mother?

What's even more interesting and sickening is the snowball rolling down the left and right slopes of the political mountain. A democratic senator says something, which is countered by a republican representative, which is fueled by the Internet and news media each with their own spin on things, quotes get simplified and interpreted as typical liberal and conservative stances, which opens up discussions on television and radio and balloons onto blogs and discussion forums to the point where there are over 415,000 (yes, thousand) unique topics available on Google in only five days.

People wonder why I'm grouchy most of the time. I try to be happy but eventually succumb to the extremes at work and family social gatherings. I get grouchy when I have to listen to someone go on about why French culture is better, or why I can't eat this product because the parent company once harpooned a dolphin by accident, or why I can't use this instrument because it might have been made by exploited people making two cents a day in a sweatshop, or what I can't watch this movie because there are thirty seconds within the two hour runtime that contain political correctness.

I sincerely offer my condolences to Cindy Sheehan and her family. I feel pretty crummy when one of my fish dies; I can't even imagine what losing a child is like. Unfortunately, the whole situation surrounding the folks outside Rancho Busho is depressing and sickening to me. It also sucks to be number 415,001 on a list that is already about 400,000 items too big.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The barb barrio...

This weekend I tried introducing a red-finned (rainbow) shark and seven zebra danios to the 40 gallon tiger barb tank. That tank has twenty tiger barbs in it and a mostly invisible plecostomus. As soon as the bags of fish entered the water the barbs were curious and started attacking the plastic bags. After the acclimation period I let the shark loose first. It didn't get much time to itself before a curious tiger barb was stalking it. There is one distinctive barb out of the twenty that causes problems and it doesn't take long before others join in. I turned the danios loose soon after, thinking their speed and agility might distract some aggression away from the shark. That didn't work. The shark was much slower moving, not large enough to pose a threat, and seemed far too passive compared to descriptions of their behavior from the Internet. I had to remove the shark and put it in with the sixteen young bronze corydoras (catfish).

It's been three days now and the danios are still alive and have actually ventured from the surface and are allowed to exist without visible threat in the middle depths of the tank, an area usually dominated by the tiger barbs. The barbs don't seem interested in them anymore. They either don't recognize them as a threat or taking up too much of their turf or they are tired of chasing and not nipping the fins of a much faster and more agile fish.

As far as options go for more fish for the tiger barb tank I'm open to suggestions but I have considered a few fish. A large, mature red-tailed shark might be mean enough and sizeable against a large school of tiger barbs. I am also considering tinfoil barbs; maybe a trio twice the size of the largest tiger barb would be a large enough presence to keep the cowardly bullies at bay. A trio of clown loaches might also be worth looking into but these fish are not as hardy as most fish and might still endure the same treatment the smaller rainbow shark endured. Some aggressive cichlids might be feasible if it weren't for the water chemistry being different. Bala sharks Of course another alternative is to simply get more barbs, specifically albino tiger barbs and green tiger barbs.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Hummingbirds and annoying humans...

My girlfriend, or Grouchette as I'll refer to her here, has maintained a pair of hummingbird feeders outside our house for a couple years now. After returning home from a Chinese buffet dinner, she noticed the feeder in the back yard was empty and the one in front was under siege from ants. She attended to the feeders while I set up the lawn sprinkler in the front and watered the landscaping. We were fairly certain that at least one hummingbird was coming around here. There was one last year that we saw occasionally. Grouchette took care of the back yard first while I was watering.

To make a long story a little shorter, we ended up going back and forth a couple of times following one of the little birds. I finished taking care of something in the back yard and was rounding the garage. Grouchette was sitting there and a hummingbird zipped away.

"Did I scare him away?"
She nodded. "Sit down, it will be back."

I sat down on the porch next to her. My house is on a dead end street in a quiet neighborhood with naturalized land mostly surrounding us. It's usually pretty quiet with the occasional noisy outburst from the neighbors across the way. We talked quietly amongst ourselves waiting for the hummingbird to return and, sure enough, the distinctive hum returned.

One hummingbird was hovering around us and was soon joined by a second. The arrival of the second hummingbird caused the first to dart away. The second hummingbird hovered close to the feeder for a few moments before feeding. Then as a surprise both of us, actually perched to feed. The scene was quiet, and peaceful. The surprises didn't end there, after feeding the hummingbird took to the air and started becoming curious at us. It came to me first, humming about two inches from my head. That was a little freaky, not knowing what this buzzing thing was going to do to me (was it going to suck my brains out through my ear). It made it's way to Grouchette, back to feed some more, then back to me, then fed once more before disappearing off to the far trees.

It was dark and we were pretty sure tonight's viewing was over. Both of us agreed that was pretty cool. For me however, it made me think about instances earlier that day and during the work week and how they compare. How did we, as a race of human beings, get so rude?

Cell phones. These devices seem to give the user license to be rude and downright annoying. A guy at the buffet had his cell phone go off while he was eating. It started with one of the loudest most annoying "ring tones" ever, it took him about ten seconds to answer the damn thing, and that was followed by about a two minute Latino to Latino conversation that every table in the place could probably hear. A couple people at work have really loud and annoying "ring tones" on their cell phones. Nothing breaks the productive silence of a work environment like a sudden, loud, heart-attack inducing "ring tone" out of nowhere. For Christ's sake would it kill you to just keep the mostly pleasant tone that came with the damned phone instead of the noise-ordinance breaking customized crap you pay extra for?

I could go on and on, there is an endless supply of annoyance available. Highway driving. How about the idiots at the super market like the ones that block the aisle looking for mustard that's been at the same spot for half a century? Car stereos, and bling-bling noise add-ons. People with six separate orders in the drive-thru window. The boss/leadership council. Politics. Kids. Government processes. Dealing with cable Internet subscribers who hog all he bandwidth with inefficient file sharing. How about one of my favorites, which diet is best and why is all the delicious food death to your health?

It sure makes me appreciate the quiet time, whether it's in my basement working out or with my aquariums, or sitting on the front porch while a hummingbird nervously floats about about an inch from my forehead.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The ever-changing NHL

Well, hasn't this been interesting so far. Some of the best known teams in the NHL are losing their most familiar faces as the landscape of the league changes drastically with the new collective bargaining agreement and free agency moves.

Living in (well, close to) a city that has been skating a group of expansion misfits, bruisers and gifted youth onto the ice for a couple years now, I should be happy that this is happening. The Blue Jackets signed defensemen Adam Foote and Bryan Berard while giving up Jaroslav Spacek. A sense of parity will crawl across the league as new even our town should be able to have just as much chance as the Detroit and Colorado to make the playoffs. Gone, however, will be that feeling of us versus the giants. Before, if we tied the Colorado Avalanche it was a massive feat worthy of much rejoicing and church bells. Now we should be able to compete against them with one of their better players.

It's still too early in the free agency deal-fest to make any comments worth blogging. However, some of the rule changes for the new NHL are worth discussing.

Rink dimensions changing
So they are moving some lines, to me it's not a big deal.
The red line won't count for two-line passes.
I see this as a good thing; more flow and less stoppage and maybe some more risk taking on power plays.
Offside "tag-up"
This seems stupid to me, giving the linesmen more things to worry about besides calling the actual offside. It will be interesting to see how it is implemented but it seems so "school-yard" for some reason. There will be fewer offside calls, but this is probably one of the rules that could have been left out and looked at again later.
New "icing" rules
Should result in faster games but I'm not sure I like that only the defensive team is prohibited from making line-changes. What if the offensive team makes a change? Is the goal to eliminate stalls due to icing, or punish the team committing the infraction and keeping (usually) tired players on the ice?
Goalie limits
Being a soccer goalie and defender I have to stick up for the defense. The new rules are intended to promote scoring but I think part of the excitement of the game is both offensive and defensive. The better puck-handling goalies like Martin Brodeur have one of their better offensive weapons taken away.
Instigator rule
Yeah, the "goon" needs to go but I do like the occasional hockey fight. It's all part of the experience.
Zero tolerance on interference, hooking and holding/obstruction
Again, maybe it's the "defender" in me but part of watching hockey is seeing good defense in addition to the offense. Every physical, contact sport has some measure of defense that includes using things like a quick clutch or block to gain an advantage. Many times we have to do everything we can get away with just to maintain a defense and if NHL referees start becoming sticklers on some things that aren't obvious but part of playing good solid defense then I'll enjoy things a little less.
Sigh, why can't we just deal with ties? Then again, I always enjoyed shootouts when at Chill games (minor league, ECHL) so the two things neutralize each other.
Unsportsmanlike conduct i.e. diving.
One thing that plagues my favorite sport, soccer, is diving. If there is one thing that makes my stomach crawl it's watching some player take a dive, go through all the theatrics acting as if acid were just poured on their testicles, then get up moments later as if nothing happened. Enforcing this is a good thing as personally I don't see any "skill" in embellishing contact to earn competitive advantage.

I still feel a lot of ill-will towards the NHL and it will take a while to get me back to watching regularly and being interested enough to spend money on them again. Like it or not, the league is changing and I'll probably have to watch in spite of myself.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Choosing a wife...

a joke I received today:

A man wanted to get married. He was having trouble choosing among three likely candidates. He gives each woman a present of $5,000 and watches to see what they do with the money.

The first does a total make over. She goes to a fancy beauty salon gets her hair done, new make up and buys several new outfits and dresses up very nicely for the man. She tells him that she has done this to be more attractive for him because she loves him so much.

The man was impressed.

The second goes shopping to buy the man gifts. She gets him a new set of golf clubs, some new gizmos for his computer, and some expensive clothes. As she presents these gifts, she tells him that she has spent all the money on him because she loves him so much.

Again, the man is impressed.

The third invests the money in the stock market. She earns several times the $5,000. She gives him back his $5000 and reinvests the remainder in a joint account. She tells him that she wants to save for their future because she loves him so much.

Obviously, the man was impressed.

The man thought for a long time about what each woman had done with the money he'd given her.

Then, he married the one with the biggest boobs.

Men are like that, you know.

There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Life's important questions...

A co-worker and I were walking back from the gym today and we walked by three female students standing outside the entrance to our building. One was girl-next door cute, thin with long brown hair. The second was blonde, just over average looking but a bit on the stocky side; a little more excessive than voluptuous. The third one’s look can best be described as maybe fifty percent Olive Oil (Popeye), about ten percent Goth, thirty percent neo-feminist lesbian, and ten percent auto mechanic.

So as soon as we were out of ear-shot my question was:

"Given a choice; do you do the one cute chick, or do you do the other two at the same time?"

There are so many schools of thought on what a "real man" would do when faced with this situation. They range from "there are two kinds of women, those I’ve had and those I want" to "pig, how can you objectify someone like that?" Personally my standards are not terribly high so I would have done the two not as "hot" as the other chick chicks. The co-worker agreed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The "Jurassic Booger" is gone...

It is with great sadness that I must report that the “Jurassic Booger” is gone.

About eleven years ago, in the men’s bathroom on the fourth floor of the building I work in, someone (not me) gave birth to a fairly large booger measuring almost a centimeter in diameter. This gift of dried mucous and bloody scar tissue was placed carefully at about the seven foot mark just above the decorative wood strip above the urinals. I remember my initial disgust at the remnants of someone else’s bad habit slowly turning into a small amount of respect; it was an impressive booger. Only a missing nose hair kept it from perfection. What went through this guy’s mind after mining such a large chunk of nostril ore? “That’s purty, I’ll share it with dah world”; squish.

Years went by, and the booger lived on. I would move on to another job somewhere but return years later to a new administration and system. I had forgotten about the booger on the fourth floor until the day I ventured up the flights of stairs to take a leak.

There it was, still there. The booger had mutated over the years, turning almost completely black with age. I gave it the name “Jurassic Booger” – it seemed to fit.

All good things, though, must come to an end. I don’t think the cleaning crew got to it as there are small marks as evidence of its existence. If someone was scrubbing up there that high I would assume they would leave no trace of the nose nugget behind. Maybe someone got tired of looking at it and chipped it off with a pencil. In any case, a piece of history is gone.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Grouchy's "Gripe of the Day"

Thank goodness the building I work in is so old and crummy it does not have any of those optical sensor controlled bathroom appliances. After taking a leak I press a large button in front of me and my wee wee just disappears. Same with the sit-down toilets. As soon as I'm done stinking up the stall a push of a level sends my intestinal gift on a trip. When I wash my hands afterwards, I actually have to use a knob to obtain water from the faucet. It's so simple and it works every time. So why on this green earth are these reliable, standard appliances being replaced by these automatic Bizzaro world backwards rejects from a remote control factory?

I'll assume that the idea of turning a dial or pushing a button might be too much for some people to comprehend, or that somewhere a bean-counter figured out that average money saved on these devices by eliminated mechanical switch failures and decreased lost water expense would look good on a ledger somewhere. I just don't have much luck with the things.

The toilet in our gym has such a hair trigger on it you have to be careful not to arch forward slightly to get toilet paper to wipe your ass else it will assume you left, flush violently and slosh water on your behind.

I was in Walmart the other day and could not get the automatic faucet to engage. I tried backing up. I moved to the other faucet and it didn't work. I tried moving at a direct ninety degree angle to approach it. I did a Jim Carrey dance in front of it. Finally it engaged for a few seconds then shut off again. Left with no other option I rinsed my hands in the remaining sink water; at a Walmart. Ewwwwwwwwwwwww.

There are some bathrooms that have everything automated from the lights, to the urinals and toilets, to the faucets, hand drier and even the paper towel dispenser. Is this really necessary? Is this the future of taking a dump? Or is this..?

“Good morning, Grouchy.” (lights pop on then adjust to my personal preference: neo cave) “Would you like to urinate or defecate?”

“Umm, I need to take a...”

(stall door pops open)
“Enter stall three, please. Would you like some music to ease your bowels? You seem tense.”

I drop drawers and sit down. Some soft Barry Manilow is played for me. After about thirty seconds it changes to “Do you really want to hurt me” from Culture Club. I do my business.

“That is a soft, eight ounce floater. No dietary adjustment necessary.”
(three squares dispense).
I wipe cautiously with my portioned Charmin.


“Umm, pass...”

I stand up, the stall door opens. As I approach the sink the toilet flushes behind me with a Homer Simpson “woo hoo” (another preference, just like in Windows). I stick my hands under the faucet; a brief spritz of water is followed by a dollop of soap. I wash up then I'm greeted with water to rinse with.

“Do you require lotion?”
(a square of paper towel is dispensed)


“Any other services today?”

“That'll be all, thanks.”

“Thank you for defecating at the Acme AutoJohnny 2000. Have a nice day.”

I imagine the voice was Martha Stewart's as well.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The path to good health, Grouchy forced to diet and exercise...

It has been two weeks since my visit to the doctor's office and one week since I learned my cholesterol and especially my triglyceride levels were pretty high. Things are very slowly return to some sense of normality. My strength is slowly recovering and in a couple weeks I'm hoping to be in better shape. I'm adjusting to my somewhat radical change in diet. There were many things I knew I would either have to change or continue through the process of changing.

First thing I had to do, and was doing off and on, was to eliminate the soft drinks and alcohol. Mountain Dew was my poison of choice, sometime consuming 40 ounces of that stuff on my most stressful days at work. I can avoid drinking soda pop altogether on the weekends but my real weakness came during job stress; or maybe job habits. I'm trying to drink at least a gallon of pure water per day. After a week or two I will probably add a serving or two of sport drink like AllSport or Gatorade. I was already consuming a good deal of water due to advice from a urologist after a kidney stone. Booze was an occasional habit, mostly whiskey and beer. Red wines are supposedly good for cholesterol but it will be a while before I feel like experimenting with that.

Second thing on the list was to eliminate the occasional egg yolk from the diet. I would fry up usually two but sometimes one egg once or twice a week. In line with egg yolks is an overall reduction in cholesterol, which when looking at my diet wasn't too hard. Every Friday I would have donuts at work, if there was ice cream in the house I would usually eat it, and the sweetheart would occasionally make cookies and treats. Margarine on toast and bagels, like the aforementioned items is not an option anymore.

Third change and for a somewhat tough change is to eat more fruits and vegetables. I have never been a big eater of either category preferring grains and meats over them. I'm trying to get in the habit of eating a salad for lunch every day. I might try different curries, stews, goulashes and meatless chili to add more vegetables. Fruits will be “desserts” from now on I guess.

The last thing on the immediate list was to cut out the occasional fast food or restaurant visit. This will probably be the hardest part of the journey. No more Taco Bell or Wendy's for a while. I might have to break down and go to Chipotle Grill every now and then.

There were a lot of things that I was and have been doing right for years now. I use a lot of soy products including soy protein supplements, soy-cheese, and soy-based meal products, my favorite being Morningstar Farms veggie sausages. I've used fat free milk for a long time. I try to have at least one service of fish per week, usually salmon or trout. I don't eat a lot of beef, but when I do it's usually hamburger from a fast-food outlet. A lot of my life is spent seated in front of a computer (like now, ha ha) doing work, learning, or ranting about crap I shouldn't be sticking my nose into. I hit the gym five days a week when I'm at work, although I've changed my workout to include more cardiovascular exercise and less strength training. I have added a quick trip on the Health Rider in the morning, try to incorporate more stairs on bathroom breaks at work, and will try to walk more when I get home and stay active on the weekends.

It's a shame that I needed a trip to the doctor and some elevated numbers to push me to the final stages of doing some of the things I should have been doing all along. Hopefully when I go back to the doctor in about three or four months I will be healthier, more fit and leaner than before.

BTW, there are millions of links to cholesterol and triglyceride reduction on the Internet; surprisingly many with differing information (yeah, you're shocked to hear that aren't you?).

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Andrulis... Out...

The end of the second era of Columbus Crew leadership has finally come. At 10:15 AM EST Crew GM Mark McCullers announced that head coach Greg Andrulis, referred to comedically as “GA”, “Anclueless” and “Andruloseris” by detractors (including myself), was sacked. Former Crew player and assistant coach Robert “the Polish Rifle” Warzycha was named interim head coach until a national and international search for a new head coach can be completed.

All I can say is “thank goodness”.

This is the first step in a list of many changes that needed to be made in this organization. Using past games are examples, clearly there was no leadership morale as basic soccer skills eroded and young stars struggled alongside veterans loss after loss. Attendance dwindled with the team.

Some other steps the Crew need to take:

  • Identify some franchise players, compensate and treat them as such, then hold them up to the community as a whole and let them run this team.
  • Acquire a well compensated outsider, perhaps an international, to add experience and a second vision.
  • Fill in the gaps with good developing talents and steady players with league experience

Realistically, most of those items won't be happening this season as the Crew are probably near the cap in roster size and player salaries with the recent acquisition of Walker and Henderson. The 2005 season will end and then the Crew can dump some players.

As for Andrulis, I wish him the best of luck with his next experience. The Crew won a Supporter's Shield and an Open Cup under his reign. But as it was when Tom Fitzgerald was released from coaching duties, it's time to move Greg on. The current roster was built by Andrulis and is underperforming. It's time to fix things, starting with the head coach.

Monday, July 11, 2005

NHL 2005/2006, if anybody cares

Not that many people care anymore, but this gem from Manny Legace is interesting:

"It makes no sense what we ended up doing," Legace said. "For years, Bob was telling us, 'No cap. Owners aren't telling us the truth about their books.' Then out of nowhere, he gives the owners a 24-percent rollback and it looked like we were panicking."

"Then after saying we wouldn't even consider a salary cap, he backed down on that at the last minute just before the lockout. It was too late, and now we're taking a worse deal."

Well, duh. Instead of looking at a pre-2004/2005 revenue stream these organizations that were looking at a partial 2004/2005 season and it's figures are now looking at a potentially disappointing 2005/2006 revenue stream who's outlook gets worse every day these entities don't have a solution.

Look guys, it's July 11, 2005 and there is still no official agreement between respective parties over the NHL. There are roughly two months left to agree to terms before game one of the new season, but you should have this thing wrapped up long before then. If you drag this thing down to the wire again, you will lose even more fans to the masses that just don't care about the NHL anymore.

12:32 PM EDT, 07/13/2005
NHL, NHLPA reach agreement in principle on new CBA

NEW YORK/TORONTO (July 13, 2005) - The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association have reached an agreement in principle on the terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Details of the new Agreement will not be made available publicly pending the formal ratification process by the NHLPA Members and the NHL Board of Governors.

It is anticipated that the ratification process will be completed next week, at which time the parties will be prepared to discuss the details of the Agreement and plans for next season. No further comment will be made until then.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Call of the Grouch, or Grouchy goes camping...

This weekend marked the first time in a long time that I have been camping. The family borrowed a tent and air mattress and pitched camp at a pay-to-camp park in Indiana.

We ended up camping under trees in front of a small, murky pond (wonderful frog noises at night). The site included a fire pit and two picnic tables. The grounds featured a lake with a small beach, paddle boats, canoes, a beach volleyball and basketball court, a playground, one indoor and one outdoor pool, miniature golf course, and three water slides (tube, corkscrew, and straight down).

The Good
  • the weekend was relaxing and I had fun most of the time
  • I wasn't at work

The Bad
  • the camp grounds were congested and at dusk everybody was burning their fires leaving the air thick with smoke
  • the facilities were small for the number of people present
  • the grounds were about a hundred feet from an interstate and truckers just love laying on their horns as they pass by during the early A.M. Hours
  • I got sunburned
We played miniature golf most of the time when we weren't walking around or cooking food. I bought week passes for the family to get us into the water slides, golf, and paddle boats. We never got to the paddle boats (booked most of the time), a kid puked in the outdoor pool eliminating one recreational outlet for a couple hours, the corkscrew water slide bruised my leg and nearly knocked one woman out cold. I learned via voice message from my doctor when I got to the grounds that my cholesterol and triglyceride levels are excessive; so alcohol and typical campground fare (hot dogs, burgers, cheese, smores, etc.) were out of the question.

If I were to go camping again it would probably be somewhere a little less congested or on someone's private property.

Still, it was better than sitting in my basement or watching my soccer team lose again.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Crew vs. the scum, more suckitude...

I have to admit, this is the first time in a long time that I have felt sorry for Crew head coach Greg Andrulis. This has to be the bottom of the barrel: losing on a holiday weekend, at home to the scum on an own-goal, a disallowed goal, and a missed penalty kick. If I were him I would seriously consider taking the fan's advice of finding a dark cave, crawling inside then getting mauled to death by and ending up in the stomach of a angry grizzly bear.

Another missed PK.

His central midfielder pulls a gigantic brain fart while chopping down a scum player, earning himself a one-match vacation.

Instead of looking like an attacking team for, well, most of the entire game they watched the scum string pass after pass together then tried to play long-ball when down a goal, where the defense simply sits back and needle points waiting for the ball to come in. Low percentage. High futility. Even in the last ten minutes of the game there seemed to be no urgency whatsoever. There was nobody running to the ball on throw-ins or trying to work the ball down the field without resulting to ineffective long balls.
So I would imagine late in the game, as GA is mulling his substitutions he probably doesn't feel too confident; a bunch of rookies and two individuals that would probably give their left testicles to be healthy and in the match trying to help.

But alas, the clock shows 93 minutes. The scum are still controlling in the Crew end of the field, "sack Andrulis" chants are ringing out, and the general feeling of crapitude sinks in. He probably plucked at his beard hoping to get off the field before the news vultures circled in or he got pelted with something from a disgruntled teenage fan. Once inside the locker room he probably looked at the demoralized nakedness in front of him, wondering if he should offer constructive criticism, condolences, or just go postal on him like some psychotic wookie. Instead, he probably waddled off into a room desperate to sugarcoat the obvious questions facing him post-game.

I tell you what, GA. If you still have your job next week, please try the following.

I want five individuals to go through super secret penalty kick ninja school. These individuals should be money in bank when the inevitable spot-kick situation arises. I want these players to be able to make a penalty kick time-after-time, repeatedly; while blindfolded with Ritchie Williams strapped to their head. Nothing else is acceptable.

Second, I want shock therapy for all the stupid, dumb ass, idiotic plays some of those players made. Show Buddle that long, floated back-pass my dead-grandmother (God rest her soul) could have intercepted (the pass that led to the own-goal). Buzzzzzzt. Martino, see that Hejduk-like achilles slicing scythe move? Buzzz-nuh-hey-man-nuhuhuhuhuhuhuh. Etc.

Lastly, select a starting eleven; players that won't get called up and can realistically make an effort to either make a run for the playoffs or at least play well for home games. Select four subs plus a reserve keeper. Tell the rest they aren't good enough to play for the suckiest team in the eastern conference; go back to Burger King and Home Depot. Then turn to your remaining players, sigh deeply, then say "play for these fans like you want to win for them or so help me you are all going down with me. If you screw these fans over one more time I'll grab hold of your balls, twist, then squeeze them until you're dead."

Dear lord what a depressing mess. This match was like the fight scene from "Raising Arizona" in it's comic futility.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Red, White and Boom! Crew Boom!

For those of you who are not local to Columbus, Ohio you might not know about the "Red White and Boom" celebration downtown. Every Independence Day one of the local news stations and numerous sponsors throw a big shindig downtown on the riverfront. It is a good display of fireworks, choreographed to music. I guess Lexington, KY has one as well. It is a big thing.

This year my girlfriend and I (well, mostly her) wanted to go downtown amongst the half-million or so individuals. The plan was to park at the community college then walk six or seven blocks to the riverfront. Unfortunately, the girlfriend and I were feeling too tired and nauseated to fight the crowds and walk those six or seven blocks downtown. We decided the check out Crew Boom at Crew Stadium.

Entrance was free with a small, ten dollar parking fee.

The good:
  • Plenty of activities for the kids on the sacred turf and outside the stadium
  • We arrived too late but there were players signing autographs
  • The south bridge, the east side upper deck, and the northeast bridge had a good view of downtown
  • The fireworks after Red, White and Boom were more then respectable and somewhat made up for the parking fee
The bad:
  • I could have done without the verbal hand-sanitizer, i.e. the repeated “your safe” here away from all that (implied) bad stuff downtown. Knowing my luck, after all the family clean and “safe” atmosphere I would have returned to find my car broken into
  • The “small” fee; just come out and say $10 so I know what I’m in for.
  • The view of some fireworks was obstructed by the BWC Building and Nationwide Building #3
  • The fireworks were somewhat too far away.
All in all it was a good experience. It served it's purpose letting us enjoy the fireworks live with little or no effort and without the massive congestion and parking nightmares downtown would have had.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Schooling tiger barbs...

For Iron over on the Tropical Fish Forums - Cyprinids, Characins and Atherinids forum.

Click on either to see a 1024x768 resolution picture.

The picture on the left has the majority of the tiger barbs schooling from right to left. The right shows them "hanging around" together.

It's difficult to get a full view of them "schooling". If I use a flash the picture does not look right. If I increase the light shining directly into the tank, the fish hide in the vegitation. If I stick with the aquarium lighting most of the fish will blur no matter what aperature and shutter settings I use. I usually have to wait a while before shooting because if I come near the tank the curious fish will stop acting "natural" and congregate at the front of the glass - "feed us". If I back off, the blurriness increases. Tiger barbs are voracious feeders so feeding them won't slow them down.

The best I can do is take a lot of pictures, dozens of them, and pick ones that turn out best or at all.

Blogger pictures ...

Just testing...

The original size of this photo of my 55 and 40 gallon fish tanks was 1600x1200. Blogger photos sizing:
  • small: 200x150; divide by 8
  • medium: 320x240; divide by 5
  • large: 400x300; divide by 4
Clicking on the image takes you to a 1024x768 pixel image.

I can deal with that. What I have problems with is that it looks like blogger hard-codes the style in the img tag; i.e. margin and float properties.

Sigh. There is a purpose for style sheets. Why code this crap in every image when you can simply assign a class to it then allow positioning in the style sheet via template the "blogger" chose or the CSS coded by the author? All hard-coding does is cause problems formatting content (see style below) for template authors and CSS developers who are attempting to control the layout of the page.

Ditch the hard-coding of "style" attributes in published content.

The way to get around this annoyance is to go to Edit HTML and remove the offending crud while adding your own crud. A class for each position, perhaps?