January 2005 Archives

Stopped-up inBox


I had received a 37 MB e-mail in the inBox of my primary mail account on Friday. I quickly deleted the e-mail, but stupidly forgot to “purge deleted messages.” Therefore, I could not receive any new mail all weekend.

When someone posts a comment to this site, I have the notification e-mail forwarded this account. I really must have a great deal weighing on my mind for it not to register that I was not receiving any new e-mail.

Anyway, as a result, I hadn’t realized that comments were coming into my posts. I apologize that I wasn’t able to respond to your comments right away, and am doing so now.

Search engines & blog logs

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At the end of the month, combing through the referring search engine keyword phrases in my Awstats logs almost always leaves me stunned or laughing (or a combination of the two).

Throughout January, an abnormally high percentage of my visitors were wayward searchers. As such, a few of the phrases are just so completely random and bizarre, I had to share them. I hope this post doesn’t seem too snarky or mean-spirited; it is all in good fun. (Helpful hint: if you want to dramatically increase traffic to your site, all you have to do is casually mention a popular celebrity’s name or write a post about NTFS-formatted iPods.)

If you haven’t checked your own logs in awhile, I encourage you to do so. We can all use a good laugh during these gloomy winter months.

  • rachael ray nude
    I guess someone else shares my opinion that Rachael Ray is hot. I just don’t think she’s that kind of girl.
  • brad pitt workout schedule
    Let’s see, at 7 AM, he wakes up and heads outside for a run…
  • brad pitt 15 inch biceps
    Okay….I didn’t include the rest of the Brad-related searches, but I think there were close to a dozen. Mr. Pitt no here.
  • photos of rachael ray in maxim
    Her again. I think I missed that issue.
  • flash bulbs sheer
    This one has come up every month this blog has been in existence. No paparazzi pics here.
  • mike in turkey
    …but not Mike in New Jersey
  • does the bowflex body leanness program work?
    This one wasn’t funny, but I feel the need to answer it whenever I can—Hell, yes!
  • bursting jeans muscle
    Mr. McGee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.
  • nude boys with no pubic hair pics
    If you come across my blog via a similar query, please, I beg you—go back to your search engine and type in “professional counseling for sex offenders.”
  • beards itch
    They sure do.
  • extreme musclar women completely nude
    Are you sure you want to see that?
  • eyeball burst
    Dude…I hope this didn’t happen to you.
  • take shirt off lost weight
    Not yet. I still have a slight gut.
  • intralase sucks
    Agreed. But at least it’s better than a metal blade.
  • i can’t wait for weekend video michael gray photocopier
    Who is Michael Gray?
  • pink slimy bathroom
    Another New Jersey resident! Welcome.
  • speed recipe sudafed
    Hmm, so Sudafed can be an ingredient in homemade methamphetamines. I did not know that.
  • pics of guys with bulges in their jeans
    Although I look slightly better in a pair of jeans than I did before my diet, I’m still not quite ready to post those kinds of pics of myself on my blog. Maybe in a few months or so…
  • my wife beach photos pictures optional
    I didn’t know she was your wife, honest.
  • rachael ray maxim
    I was making a joke before, but I guess I did miss that issue.
  • photos of war torn sarajevo
    Again, not a funny one, but more of those are coming. I promise.
  • compare the size of your penis to others
    No such comparison here, but you know what they say about guys with large pupils.
  • rachael ray’s panties
    Sheesh! You have got to be kidding me! ROTFL!
  • you might have a $3000 computer but your penis is still small
    Actually, my computer cost $781, thank you.
  • how to tell if a woman is interested
    Trust me. I have been trying to figure that one out for years, and I have all but given up hope. Just once, I would love to be told straight out.
  • rachael ray nsfw
    I am telling you; she is not that kind of woman.
  • the bowflex grandmother nude pics
    Um, no GILFs here. WTF?
  • sniper war stories
    I remember when we were in Bosnia, some members of my unit were completely convinced that the urban legend about singer-songwriter John Denver secretly being a Vietnam War green beret sniper was true. We had free long distance access, so a few bored members of our night shift somehow found the number of his publicist and called to verify the veracity of the story.
  • at the end of the universe is the beginning of vengeance
    Okay…I suppose I will close with that random profundity.

Hip product placement

I can almost forgive that the CTU scenes from this season’s episodes of 24 have been one big commercial for the new Motorola Ojo. Also, I suppose that it is relatively believable that all of the “cool” kids on TV have iPods and Apple laptops (often with strategically-placed Post-its over the glowing fruity logo).

However, when Ryan’s new red-headed love interest, Lyndsay, (yes, I Season Pass The O.C.; deal with it) describes how she used an internet search engine to research information on her father, she didn’t just Google him. Oh, no! Lyndsay “A9.commed him.”

Um, A9.com as a genericized verb? I’m all for casually-hip, rapid-fire pop-culture references in dialog; they have been part of the genuine appeal of Lorelei, Dawson, Buffy, Seth, etc. This one, though, was so blatantly out-of-place I almost snorted a mouthful of refreshing Coca-Cola with Lime all over my Aeron.

I guess, maybe, I’m just falling behind the wired-tired-expired hipness curve.

Triskaidekaphobia 2

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Pholph’s Scrabble Generator
My Scrabble® Score is: 13.
What is your score? Get it here.

A Scrabble score of 13…it seems, somehow, appropriate.



Thank God this week is over and done with, never to be seen again. Productivity was nil; I could probably have taken the entire week off and been no further behind with my projects. My depression level was high all week, although, I doubt anyone around me was able to notice; sometimes my ability to hide certain negative emotions is Vulcanlike. Whether I’m being cheerfully dorky or compassionately helpful, I rarely betray the true feelings that gnaw at my insides—wouldn’t want to display any signs of weakness.

For a month, I had been looking forward to plans I had for this weekend. They fell apart. Again, best laid plans…

The post-op state of my eyes has been a constant distraction, and it will probably continue to be for a few weeks. As my eyes get used to their new corneas, my vision drifts between crystal clarity and frustrating blurriness. Also, I decided to endure the lights of my workplace, rather than wear the silly sunglasses all day; the resulting headaches weren’t too bad, but it made concentrating on my work even more difficult.

Every evening, lately, when I get home, all I want to do is sleep. Even prime time television holds little sway; the important stuff gets Tivo’d anyway. At least when I’m asleep, I can usually leave the lonely emptiness behind; that is until cold reality disturbs my peaceful slumber at 3 AM and I remain awake the rest of the night.

Currently, the only person I really have in my life to share these feelings with is my mother. She keeps suggesting that maybe this is a sign that I should finally get out of New Jersey. One glimmer of possibility in that regard—a friend of my family works for the Defense Department down in DC and says that with my qualifications, he could “get me in.” I’m never quite sure exactly what that means when people say that or the actual likelihood of their ability to “get someone in.” Still though, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to send him an e-mail to find out more…

I hate my last name

My last name has become a pejorative term for Muslims. I’m not sure when exactly this happened; I haven’t Googled myself in quite awhile. I am not amused.

Hosts overstepping their bounds

Recently, Six Apart released an update to Movable Type that patched a vulnerability that allowed a malicious user to send e-mail through the application to any number of arbitrary users if comment notifications are enabled. For those who did not want to upgrade to version 3.15, they also made a plug-in available which also prevents the exploit.

Yesterday, TotalChoice Hosting sent an e-mail to their users, saying that they had pushed a copy of this plug-in out to the installations of all of their customers with Movable Type. Seeing as I had already upgraded to 3.15 more than twelve hours earlier, this plug-in was redundant. No harm was done, and deleting the extraneous plug-in was simple enough. Still, it’s a “principle” thing.

It really ticks me off that TCH took it upon themselves to modify my MT installation without my permission. I haven’t decided yet whether to send them a complaint e-mail, but I just felt like venting.

Star Wars title crawls

It’s time for my inner sci-fi geek to come out and play.

The official Star Wars site posted the opening title crawls for all six movies, including Revenge of the Sith. So how may days now until May 19?

LAser in-SItu Keratomileusis 8

When we last left our intrepid hero, he had just stumbled out into a blinding snowstorm. The pale light of the early afternoon sun barely pierced the frigid white torrent. He was more than ready to leave Bergenfield behind even though just little more than an hour ago, he had triumphantly faced the molecular disruptor laser of the skillful Doctor Dello Russo.

Although the snow piled high upon his trusty black Neon did not portend a swift journey home, little did our dashing protagonist know that he would not see the cozy interior of his humble abode until late that evening, despite the fact his destination was a scant fifty-six miles away.

Yup, driving home was a bitch.

Visibility was negligible, none of the roads were plowed, and traffic moved slower than an arthritic three-toed sloth. Further diminishing my ability to see the road, my freshly-lased eyes were extremely photo-sensitive, so removing my newly-issued UV-blocking sunglasses was not an option. One additional wrinkle—for the first two weeks after my surgery, it is necessary to keep my eyes moist with artificial tears; otherwise, a dry, stinging sensation builds to a painful intensity akin to molten glass on my eyeball. Just try applying eye drops while driving…actually, forget I said that; please don’t try it.

The doctor’s office had supplied me with a few packets of “happy pills,” but I would not be able to benefit from their wonderful numbing effects until I reached home.

LAser in-SItu Keratomileusis 7

So, finally, after deciding to go ahead with the LASIK retreatment, making my appointment for January 15, and then having that appointment delayed a week; the morning of my re-treat operation was finally here. The weather reports of the impending storm made me a little wary, but I hoped that the storm would either pass over us, or I would be indoors during the worst of it.

I arrived at the doctor’s office fifteen minutes early (per usual, darn military conditioning) and waited in the reception area for about an hour. It seems that everyone had moved their appointments earlier in the day to avoid the storm—not fair to those of us who already had 9 AM appointments, but “life” rarely shares the same sentence with “fair” without some negation.

The technician looked at my eyes, made measurements while I stared at the little farm scene that shifts in and out of focus, and then the doctor (Dr. Dello Russo, Jr.) came in for the eye chart reading. “Which is better? One? Or Two? One? Two? One?” “Uh, one I guess. I dunno.” “One or two? How about three? One? Two? Three?”

After the doctor left, I signed a consent form which was an addendum to the forms I signed last year. The technician also gave me my “goodie” bag, which provided my first bit of good news. They no longer required that patients go to the pharmacy to fill a prescription for the tremendously overpriced Lotemax and Vigamox ($120 saved, score!). Instead, they had switched to the cheaper Pred Forte (anti-inflammatory) and Zymar (antibiotic) drops and already had both bottles in the bag. Also, they replaced the adhesive bubble-shaped eye shields with an elastic-strapped clear plastic face shield (for use during the first two nights of sleep). Finally, the sunglasses, last worn by Diana in the mini-series V, were replaced by a slightly less ridiculous-looking pair.

Home safe and sound


My operation seems to have been a success and was considerably less traumatic than the first time around. Unfortunately, the drive home yesterday was a nightmare; it took me close to five hours to drive 56 miles, probably the most frightening driving experience of my life.

My vision is still a little blurry, and my eyes are still rather photo-sensitive, so I will cut this post short.

More on how my operation went, surprising things about LASIK that I had not known, why I came home a day early, and my drive through a blustery hell should come in a day or so.

Under the laser, reprise reprise

Today’s post is a word-for-word rerun of last Saturday’s entry because the events of this morning feel like I’m starting at the beginning of a reset temporal loop thanks to last week’s scheduling mishap.

My LASIK re-treat operation is this morning. I cannot believe an entire year has passed since I did this the first time. The nervousness has not really struck me yet, but I am sure it will in a couple of hours.

The events of the coming weekend should closely mirror last time with the exception (I hope) of the scary-looking bloodshot eyes.

Soon after they do the “flap and zap,” I will make my way over to an overpriced inn in Tenafly, dope myself up, and try to sleep it off. Because the hotel restaurant was full of noxious cigarette smoke last time, this time around I am bringing my own dinner.

My follow-up appointment will be early Sunday morning. I will drive home from Bergenfield around noontime, and hopefully be back home that afternoon to blog an update about how my operation went.

Filling the void

As partly evidenced by some of my recent posts, I have lately been in a spending frenzy—clothing, books, DVDs, electronics, random stuff from Ben’s Bargains. A little deficit spending is not that much to worry about, but lately I make the American government seem thrifty by comparison.

The elation upon seeing brown cardboard boxes waiting for me on my doorstep is addictive. I feel a bit of a rush as I slash through the packaging tape, greedily tearing past the bubble wrap, revealing the manufactured goodness inside. As always, though, the rush soon subsides.

Of course, I enjoy a temporary, renewed shot of pleasure as someone notices a new outfit or as I play with one of my new toys, but the gnawing emptiness deep down remains.

A stack of credit card bills sit unopened, awaiting the barely adequate first-of-the-month replenishment of my bank account, because I don’t even want to look at them until I absolutely have to.

Ah, yes, the hollowness of consumerism…

At least I am no longer turning to food to heal my wounded soul, and thank God I was never much of an alcoholic (it’s a good thing palatable spirits are so bloody expensive).

One glimmer of hope may have completely faded away, I’m afraid. I want to blame the overwhelming confusion I felt after falling victim to this cruel joke, but I know that it was just my own damn fault and my need to find excuses for my own inertia. Time to try again.

Bleah. There’s just something about late Friday nights that fills one with melancholy.

Oh well, tomorrow I will brave the threat of the impending blizzard as I attempt once again to get my eyes zapped. The surgeons better be there this time, damn it.

Then early next week (if I can still see), I hope to return to my Sarajevo stories, after a three-week hiatus.

My Mac mini has arrived!

At 10 AM this morning, Federal Express delivered my Mac mini. Obviously, it crossed a few time zones, but I just cannot believe that this little guy left China at 10:36 AM on January 19 and is already in my hands. For size comparison, I posed him (her?, it?) with my iPod and my office computer (a 20-inch iMac G5).

My new Mac mini strikes a pose

It is soooo gorgeous and かわいい!

My Mac mini shipped!

At 2:32 AM this morning, I received an e-mail from Apple, stating that my Mac mini is on its way to me from Shenzhen, China, via Federal Express.

Woo hoo!

Anti-spammer "nofollow" plugin


Visitors to the individual entry pages of this blog may notice a new message that I added to my template. “The installed “nofollow” plug-in automatically modifies all links submitted in comments and TrackBacks to add the rel="nofollow" attribute.”

After reading this post on the Google Blog and then this post on Six Apart’s site, installing the new plug-in sounded like a good idea.

It won’t reduce the amount of comment spam I receive (at least at first) because most spammers and spambots won’t care and try anyway, but at least it is one more way of fighting back against these PageRank-boosting bottom-feeders.

Mac mini take-apart video

My brand new Mac mini should be arriving in less than a week (knock on wood). One initial concern that I had was Apple’s statement on their web site, which states RAM upgrades must be performed by an Apple Service Provider. Bollocks.

MacCentral found out the official word from Apple is that as long as you don’t break it getting it open, you can do it yourself without voiding the warranty.

Fellow blogger, smash, has even posted what looks like an official Apple instructional video clip for taking apart the Mac mini. I love that the only tool needed is a putty knife.

Screenshot from Mac mini take-apart video

Chances are that either Apple legal will ask him to remove the video, or he will be Slashdotted, so below the break, I have a transcription of the text from the video.

Open mouth, insert foot

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Ah, Harvard, how far you’ve fallen.

“Harvard president criticized for remarks”

Teen-Talk Barbie was unavailable for comment.

Google frustrations

The following rant is really boring, but trying to work around it cost me over an hour of work time today. Grrrrr.

Between Friday and Monday, a feature of Google’s Advanced Search that I relied upon broke. Last week, you could enter a subdirectory of a site into the “Domain” text field and get search results from just that subdirectory. I had a few search boxes on sites that depended on this by passing along the as_sitesearch variable from the form. (as_sitesearch tended to work more reliably than the hq variable.) Now, however, if there is even a single virgule* in the URL (e.g. cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS, rather than cnn.com), Google does not return any results. Not sure whether this is just a temporary setback or a permanent change. Time to fire off an e-mail to Google.

*Virgule is my favorite synonym for the forward slash (/). Others include solidus, diagonal, and separatrix. However, I love that virgule is from the Latin virgula, meaning “little rod” or “little penis.” Etymology is fun!

How much am I worth?


This web survey game from a few years ago probably has little basis in reality, but it’s still fun (especially now that you can compare your results with other bloggers). Looks like it’s time to auction myself off on eBay (oh wait, that violates their user agreement).

I am worth $2,590,330.00 on HumanForSale.com
(via profgrrrrl)

Demotivated :-(


Last week I caught a glimpse of a calender with those ubiquitous corporate motivational posters lying on a colleague’s desk. This reminded me that I had not stopped by Despair.com in awhile to see if they had a whole new set of Demotivator posters for 2005.

Unfortunately, being the demotivated individuals that they are, they didn’t come up with any new ones this year and just recycled their old ones with a “Best of” collection. Oh well. Below is one of my favorites—(Procrastination).

Procrastination: Hard Work Often Pays Off After Time, but Laziness Always Pays Off Now.

BTW, my workplace has their Indifference poster hanging on a wall. It’s funny how a healthy, honest dose of cynicism can actually be a morale booster.

Bad omen?

I’m back.

Even though my previous post said that I would not be back from my operation until Sunday, the best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray.

I drove up to Bergenfield, put my overnight bag and coat in the closet of the doctor’s office, signed in with the receptionist, and sat in the waiting room for fifteen minutes. The receptionist called out my name, and I walked over. As soon as she asked me, “When did you make your appointment?” I knew that something got screwed up.

It seems that all of the surgeons are in the Manhattan office this week. Whoever had scheduled my appointment back in November had made a massive blunder. “But,” I protested, “I even called to confirm my appointment yesterday afternoon?!?” I had even asked the woman on the phone if I would need to sign any additional consent forms for my surgery.

This receptionist was very apologetic, especially when she found out I live ninety minutes away and had made an overnight inn reservation. I was able to reschedule my reservation without penalty, but there is no way that I can recoup half a tank of gas and seven bucks in tolls, not to mention my time and anxiety.

I occasionally like to cling to the romantic notion that everything happens for a reason. (I’m really good at deluding myself.) Sometimes it helps me from bouncing off of the walls with livid frustration. Then again, is it a bad omen? No, I cannot think that; I have enough misgivings about this surgery as it is.

So tune in next week, Saturday, January 22, when I attempt to repeat this silly escapade once more. This is me on the phone next Friday, confirming my appointment—“Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure? Absotively, posilutely, one hundred percent sure?”

Under the laser, reprise

My LASIK retreat operation is this morning. I cannot believe an entire year has passed since I did this the first time. The nervousness has not really struck me yet, but I am sure it will in a couple of hours.

The events of the coming weekend should closely mirror last time with the exception (I hope) of the scary-looking bloodshot eyes.

Soon after they do the “flap and zap,” I will make my way over to an overpriced inn in Tenafly, dope myself up, and try to sleep it off. Because the hotel restaurant was full of noxious cigarette smoke last time, this time around I am bringing my own dinner.

My follow-up appointment will be early Sunday morning. I will drive home from Bergenfield around noontime, and hopefully be back home that afternoon to blog an update about how my operation went.

Selling out


Yes, yet another blogger has fallen to the lure of the dark side. I recently signed myself up for a Google AdSense account and today slapped the code for a Google banner on my main page, individual entry pages, category archives, and monthly archives. They’re kind of ugly, but not too obtrusive.

In a way, they are kind of an experiment. I have always been curious if people actually click on those things; I have trained myself to completely tune them out. Contrary to that training, is the second part of my experiment. I think that it will be interesting (at least for awhile) to see what AdWords ads get generated by the various subjects of my posts. For example, of all of the topics on my main page, why are all of the ads on the right side selling Star Wars DVDs?

Update: Now the ads are all about blogging, which seems to be the default fallback when the subject matter of my posts do not correspond to any AdWords.

This is not my first foray into commercializing my blog. I have been embedding Amazon.com® Associate links in my posts for awhile now. I figure that since a large number of my visitors are Googlers looking for information on iPods, the Bowflex, Braun razors, and Brad Pitt(?); I might as well try to make a little money.

(Brad Pitt??? I mentioned him once in passing. These people must be digging pretty deeply in the search results. “Triscadecaphobia” I can understand; I am usually the third Google result out of 191…but “Brad Pitt?”)

But I digress…does this mean that I’m going to start writing posts just so that I can shill something for Amazon? Hell, ya! I have no shame.

Seriously, though, the dollar amounts are not nearly enough to influence my posts. People would have to buy $200 worth of stuff from Amazon.com before I even see a dime (and then it’s only 5%). So you can rest assured that, for example, my endorsement of The Bowflex Body Plan and the Bowflex, itself, are genuine and the results I have enjoyed are real.

So now we interrupt this commercial to bring you back to your irregularly scheduled blog posts.

The Mating Game


The mating game really bugs me sometimes, which is probably why I found this Animal Planet article so amusing: Fake Love Tokens Fool Flies (via Fark).

 Females among many insects and animals, including humans, enjoy receiving gifts during courtship, but a new study on flies reveals that males can woo their intendeds with worthless, fake love tokens, even if such cheating is otherwise undocumented for the species.

By the time the female fly realizes her lover is a cheapskate and beats him off with her wings, the male already has mated with her and leaves with his faux present to find another partner.

Not that I would be one to condone or applaud such behavior (even from an insect), but one has to admit that some of these flies are surprisingly ingenious.

 Heydon added that some flies even present their mates with empty packages wrapped up with layers of silk.

He said, “By the time the female finishes unwrapping her gift and discovers that it is empty, the male has mated with her.”

Cautionary tale

If someone wants to test out his “bad” FireWire cable on a $1000 video deck and $3000 computer at your workplace (even though he swore that the cable had no ill effect on his own equipment), it is probably not a good idea to let him.

If you don’t get a video signal on the first computer, it is also probably not a good idea to test the cable again on a similar deck and computer right next to the first.

Very bad things can happen.

Now we are looking at two decks with fried DV ports and probably two $800 logic board replacements on the Power Mac G5 towers.

Some days it is just better to stay in bed.

Update: It looks like we will only need to replace the logic board on one of the Power Macs. Still, though….



Steve Jobs has done it again. Today at the quasi-religious event known as Macworld, he has unfurled the next phase of his master plan for world domination; he has shocked and awed the tech-loving public; and he has convinced the masses, once again, to open their wallets.

The Mac mini…I want one.

I have already gone to the online Apple Store for Education and specced one out. Having learned my lesson, though, about making a rash decision during a moment of passionate desire, I have decided to “sleep on it.”

Mac Mini product shotMac Mini order specs

So my specs don’t quite come under $500, but I figured that the slightly faster processor and larger hard drive were worth it. The SuperDrive is essential (got to be able to burn the DVDs). I’ll be using my existing keyboard and Intellimouse, but am getting the Bluetooth module just in case I want to get the wireless keyboard later. The toughest decision is the RAM; Apple’s price for the 512 MB module is decent; however, their price for the 1 GB module (close to $400) is more than twice what 3rd parties charge. Additionally, for the Mac Mini, RAM is not even a user-installable part; it must be done by an Apple authorized service provider. Grumble.

If I go through with the purchase, this will be my fourth Macintosh: the first was a 20 MHz Mac IIsi, the second was a 200 MHz Performa 6400, my current Mac is an aging 500 MHz PowerMac G4.

Chocolate siren’s song

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According to CNN/Money, Starbucks is rolling out a new beverage this weekend called “Chantico,” a thick, rich, creamy chocolate beverage steamed with cocoa butter and whole milk.

This quote from a Starbucks rep sounds way too enticing—“Imagine drinking a melted truffle….” Yeah, I can imagine that. Ohhhh, yeah. I can definitely imagine that.

So if a 6 oz. cup contains 390 calories and 20 grams of fat, that means an extra hour of DDR or an hour walking at 3 MPH. **Frustrated exhalation**

DVD library II

Coincidentally, Slashdot linked to UnderGroundOnline’s list of the top 50 movie DVDs of all time the day after I posted a list of my own collection.

I was bored, so I thought I’d see how many titles from UGO’s favorites were in my list. It looks like I only own about half of them (bolded); I guess it’s time to fill up my Amazon.com shopping cart again.

Of course, with Blu-ray and HD-DVD duking it out throughout 2005 for the position of next-generation video format standard, my humble DVD library may soon be reminiscent of my mom’s collection of 8-tracks.

  1. The Lord of the Rings
  2. Alien Quadrilogy
  3. Ultimate Matrix
  4. The Evil Dead
  5. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
  6. Terminator 2 (different edition)
  7. Fight Club
  8. Men In Black
  9. Dawn of the Dead
  10. Ghostbusters
  11. Star Wars Trilogy
  12. Star Trek Movies (only the first three)
  13. Escape from New York
  14. Akira
  15. Clerks X
  16. Stargate
  17. Se7en
  18. The Mummy
  19. Indiana Jones
  20. The Goonies
  21. Tron
  22. Pearl Harbor
  23. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  24. Back to the Future
  25. Almost Famous
  26. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
  27. Blade II
  28. Boogie Nights
  29. Rushmore
  30. X2: X-Men United
  31. Daredevil
  32. Memento
  33. The Royal Tenenbaums
  34. Superman: The Movie
  35. The Sixth Sense
  36. Gladiator
  37. Black Hawk Down
  38. THX 1138
  39. Hellboy
  40. Dark City
  41. The Killer
  42. 12 Monkeys
  43. Jackie Brown
  44. Field Of Dreams
  45. Saving Private Ryan (different edition)
  46. The Fifth Element (different edition)
  47. The Shawshank Redemption
  48. Beauty and the Beast
  49. The Godfather Collection
  50. Monsters, Inc.

DVD library


Whenever I buy a DVD, I catalog it in a handy little app for OS X called DVD Cache. Since I finally hit 150 titles, I thought it would be fun to use the HTML export feature and post them here (with some minor clean-up of the code).

I’m not sure if my DVD library provides any profound revelations about my personality (other than I am an unabashed sci-fi geek, who also likes animation), but it does reveal that I spend way too much money on these silly little plastic discs. Warning: the DVD page is a bit bandwidth intensive (cover art).

There are a few embarrassing selections in there, but…uh…I didn’t buy those ones, they…were a gift.

Hey, if any of you who know me outside the blogosphere want to borrow some discs, feel free to ask me.

Warning label

One of the more imaginative blog quizzes…a warning label generator. Below is the one that came up for me (found via Watermark). Too bad it generates invalid HTML that screams for heavy massaging.

Michael may explode without warning


From Go-Quiz.com

My Bowflex misses me

Arghh. Ever since I went home for the holidays, interrupting my fitness routine, I have not been able to get back into it. Three weeks of no Bowflex. I haven’t gained any weight because I have maintained a low calorie count (even though someone gave me a gift box full of baklava from Greece—yum), but my quest to build up my upper body is not quite going as planned.

It’s funny how easy it is to talk myself out of doing something that I know is good for me.

Unfortunately, after my LASIK retreatment operation next Saturday, I won’t be able to lift for two more weeks. Bleah.

Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!


My site is under constant attack by spammers. No news there, as I’m sure many of your blog sites are similarly beset by this nuisance. At times, though, I’d like to strangle the blokes from ***.***.gb.com and others.

MT-Blacklist does a decent job of catching most of the garbage, but even that is often not enough. This weekend I plan on implementing some of the strategies outlined in the new Six Apart Guide to Combatting Comment Spam (for Movable Type users), so I wouldn’t be surprised if I succeed in breaking my comment feature entirely at least some point in the next few days.

There are three spam blocking strategies that I will not implement, however:

  • Closing old comments — If someone wants to to dig into my archives and read my inane blather from months ago, more power to them (especially since such a large percentage of my visitors arrive via Google search). If they are motivated to comment on those old entries, the last thing that I want to do is close off the potential opportunity for dialog.
  • Automatic moderation of all comments (except for TypeKey log-ins) — Too many users are unaware of TypeKey or reluctant to use it, especially users of Movable Type alternatives. Also, instant gratification is such a nice thing to have when commenting. I find the time delay with moderated comments disconcerting whenever I encounter them, I do not want to subject my readers to that.
  • Image-based CAPTCHAs — To intentionally erect a barrier that adversely affects the visually impaired, the dyslexic, or those using text-only browsers just seems wrong and hypocritical, considering how passionately I try to promote accessibility in the web development classes that I teach.

That still leaves a few strategies in Six Apart’s list that I plan on trying; here’s hoping they work…



Since December 31, I have not been officially employed by my university. This is not quite as bad as it sounds, but in a way it is. I am in what is called a one-year “term position.” What this means is that while the administrators realize the need for people fill the role that I am filling at the university, the bean counters do not want to commit to the creation of an actual contracted position.

Unfortunately, for one co-worker and myself, our term ends right around the holidays, when our human resources department is otherwise occupied and can’t be bothered to renew our term position in a timely fashion. This stings a bit more this year because they recently installed electronic door locks, and we have to endure the insult of not being able to unlock our own office doors because of expired ID cards. I also have to worry about being ticketed because I do not have a valid parking sticker (I would be reimbursed for the fine, but still…).

Each year my manager fights to have our term positions made permanent, and each year his request is denied. This begs the question—how little do the “higher-ups” value the services that we perform for the university community?

Granted, the chance of our positions not being renewed is very slim, and given the infinitesimal chance of such a thing occurring, my manager’s boss would work hard to rectify the situation. Still though…one of the perks of working in academic administration is the stability of employment. If I don’t even have that, I have to really question what is keeping me in my current place of employ.

I guess the only important question now is, “Am I happy?” And, if not, would finding employment elsewhere provide that happiness?

I have been searching for my “niche” for some time now, and I left employment at Princeton once before because I was not quite sure that it was where I would find my niche, but now I’m back, and I have been back for over two and a half years, and I still wonder…

Vacation's end

I always look forward to a week or two off from work because I usually have a long to-do list that I am certain I will have plenty of time to tackle over my break. However, far too often I reach the final hours of my time off and realize that I got almost nothing on that list accomplished. I even used up an extra vacation day to give myself an extra twenty-four hours after the rest of the world went back to work after the holidays.

Unfortunately, I am a pathological procrastinator. Besides the many web projects that I have percolating, first and foremost, I had really wanted to make significant progress on the remodeling of my master bedroom. Oh well, maybe tomorrow, or the next day… I suppose, though, that if I actually finished such projects in a timely manner, I wouldn’t have them hanging over my head, and then what would I do?

One small thing that I did accomplish—I finally took the film from my July road-trip to Montreal to be developed. Did I mention that I was a procrastinator?

At least I got plenty of reading done. Robert Heinlein and Stanislaw Lem are such amazing authors, and fortunately they both have a rich body of work, providing me with hours of enjoyment as I read…and reread their novels and short stories.

ABC auto-complete meme

Picking up on blogging memes is always a fun way to work through writer’s block (or at least procrastinate some more). So in this one, you type each letter into your browser’s address bar and then list all of the URLs that auto-complete, revealing a random mixture of your recent browsing history and bookmarked sites (via Alex).

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M |
N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

All in all, twenty-six pretty tame links—only one slightly embarrassing one. This one was more work than I thought it would be. My variation adds title attributes, so that a mouse-over reveals tool-tips with the URLs.

People of the year

As part of the usual avalanche of “year in review” news stories, ABC News has declared “bloggers” to be their “People of the Year.” Of course, ABC was too wishy-washy to just name one; they also named four other people of the year.

According to the article, a new blog is created every seven-and-a-half seconds. Yikes, my list of bookmarked blogs is already a mile long.

Well, I’d just like to congratulate my fellow bloggers on being part of the cultural vanguard.

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