April 2005 Archives

An old friend

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Per a suggestion in my comments (thanks Jenn), I enjoyed a relaxing afternoon in Cranbury this past weekend, spending over an hour in a really cool used bookstore, previously unknown to me, called the Cranbury Bookworm.

The place is an old house with almost every inch of wall space in most of the rooms and closets, upstairs and downstairs, covered with rows and rows of wonderfully musty-smelling used books.

Naturally, I gravitated toward the science fiction section, alphabetically zeroing in on the letter H. There’s just something about Robert Heinlein’s books that are just so comforting to me. Three more of his books are now on my shelf, and I’ve started to read Job: A Comedy of Justice.

Every time I read or re-read or (re-re-read) one of his books, it really does feel like I’m visiting an old friend. It’s a good thing that he was so prolific.

…time for me to burn through a few more chapters before nodding off.

The day the music died

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My beloved iPod went into a coma on Monday. Even the Restore button of the iPod Updater application (which usually works wonders) failed to resuscitate my precious.

I first noticed that something was wrong with my baby when the hard drive started to make ominous clicking noises. Then Monday morning, I got into my car and fired up my iPod, but was shocked to see that the playlists were empty and the songs were all gone. (Thank Odin I have two back-ups.) The poor little guy won’t mount anymore; he just plaintively flashes the circle with the diagonal slash until his little battery runs dry.

My iPod should still be under warranty; I got it the last week of September. Tomorrow I have to surrender it to my university’s hardware support people. I hope that my baby will come back to me soon, good as new.



I really haven’t done too much blogging about the fitness thing lately. Unfortunately, my physical fitness has taken a back seat to other preoccupations since December. Although, I enjoyed incredible success over a short period of time, I have allowed myself, to some extent, to fall back into old, self-destructive patterns.

Thankfully, I have not gained back a significant amount of weight (I’m still under 190), but I have allowed my muscles to atrophy quite a bit. This past week, I finally returned to a somewhat normal schedule with my weight training; however, it has been so frustrating to drop down thirty to forty pounds of resistance on most of the exercises. Grrrr. A few of my skin-tight shirts have to go back in the drawer until I can get my love handles under control again. Double grrrrr.

I am sort of working toward a new goal now. In mid-June, I will be on a plane to a conference in Honolulu. That leaves me with little more than a month and a half to get myself in shape. Back to calorie counting. No more Cold Stone. No more caffeine (sniff!). No more trips to my workplace’s third floor to grab a handful of Pepperidge Farm and Girl Scout cookies. No more talking myself out of doing my Bowflex workouts.

Nostalgic Charles Atlas comic book ad

I have to do this for myself. I cannot have come this far, only to fall short of my goal. For me to jet off to a tropical paradise and still be ashamed to take my shirt off would be unacceptable. Just fifty short days until Hawaii…

Fortune cookie 6

Okay, now I think the wisdom-spewing cookie sages are just messing with me…

…and what’s up with the Lucky Numbers? Come on, fortune cookie, you can do better than that—Mega Millions is up to $205 million.

Now is the time to go ahead
and pursue that love interest!
Lucky Numbers 12, 14, 16, 24, 26, 28



I have a confession to make. Some random article in Business Week the other day got me thinking about this. Over 1.4 billion people, a quarter of the world’s population, own and use an item that I do not.

I do not have a cell phone.

Shocked? Awestruck? Now you can tell your family and friends that you know of someone that actually does not have a “mobile.”

The irony is that I am in no way a technophobe. I’m a total gadget whore; cutting-edge electronics are like crack to me. My credit card bills can attest to that. I read Engadget, Gizmodo, and Slashdot on a regular basis. I work in IT. I even blog.

So why no cell phone? I don’t know. I guess I’ve always liked being a contrarian—a square peg in a round hole, a different drummer, and such. Also, the idea of paying yet another monthly fee to a utility company is kind of a huge turnoff. Finally, I guess I just don’t really have anyone to talk to; few things are more depressing than a phone that never rings, especially when you’re carrying it around all the time.

Granted, I suppose that my not having a cell phone might mean that I miss the occasional booty call, but you know…[exhalation]…

Communing with nature

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This past Sunday was such a beautiful day that I just had to pull my 14-foot inflatable catamaran-kayak out of the closet, toss it into the back seat of my Neon, and head a half-mile down the road to Lake Carnegie. Engineered specifically for Princeton’s crew team, Lake Carnegie’s shallow calmness makes it one of the best rowing lakes in the world.

Google satellite map of Lake Carnegie

It usually takes me around three hours to row the entire lake, stopping along the way, of course, to enjoy the natural beauty. The Google screenshot above shows most of my route, and here’s the live Google Maps link.

Those whose only experiences of New Jersey have involved Newark airport or the IKEA in Elizabeth may be surprised to discover that the Toxic Garden State is teeming with wildlife. Fortunately, I brought a camera along on my little jaunt.

Normally when I pull up close to the many Canadian geese that call the lake home, they quickly take flight. So when I paddled past a particularly large one perched on a log, I was surprised that he stayed put…

large duck reflected in water

…that is, until I circled the log and noticed the nesting female that he was protecting.

two ducks on a log

There were a few other kayakers out and about. These two are rowing past the Harrison Street bridge. The “BRING IT ON!” sign is a challenge to those schools who might dare to go up against the Princeton University rowers.

Harrison Street bridge

A rustling sound in the woods caught my attention, and I noticed four deer having an evening meal of freshly-blossomed bushes. Although all three of her skittish companions darted off, tagged and collared “Number 214” actually wandered up to the water’s edge as I drifted toward shore, just as curious of me as I was of her. Unfortunately, her earrings really don’t match the rest of her outfit. My camera’s flash sent her bolting.

a tagged and collared deer

Adobe to acquire Macromedia?!?

If you’re a graphic designer and/or web developer, the huge buzz today will be Adobe’s purchase of Macromedia. Yikes. It’s almost like these two companies need to get a calender—April Fools was more than two weeks ago.

I suppose this means that all of us Dreamweaver users will be eventually upgrading to Adobe GoLive (or some Frankenstein-like hybrid of the two). Looks like, from the press release, Adobe is mostly interested in Flash. Hmmmm, Adobe Flash…it doesn’t quite sound right.

Wow, sixteen long years ago, I was using another product on a daily basis that eventually got swallowed up by Adobe—good old Aldus PageMaker.

Embrace the dark side

My local grocery store finally had the Star-Wars themed dark chocolate M&M’s. In a word, yum! I’ve said this before—with chocolate and with life, the bitter makes the sweet so much more enjoyable.

Dark Side peanut M&M's

Their marketing campaign is kind of cute too, once you get past the awful “M-Pire” pun. Here is a deep link to the QuickTime version of the Birth of the Chocolate M-Pire trailer.

Magnolias in bloom

One of my favorite locales on the Princeton campus is Scudder Plaza, especially for a few short weeks in spring, when the magnolias are in full blossom.

Scudder Plaza in spring 1

Scudder Plaza in spring 2

The red brick building, by the way, is my old department. Also, seniors who have just handed in their theses traditionally take a dip in the fountain.

Scudder Plaza in spring 3

Scudder Plaza in spring 4

More fun with Google Maps—the satellite version from a couple of years ago shows the plaza undergoing heavy renovation.

Quizzes and such

Not being in much of a writing mood, I thought I’d take some web quizzes and such and post the results. So here goes…

My perfect job is Junk mail co-ordinator.
Take The Perfect Job Generator today!
Created with Rum and Monkey’s Name Generator Generator.
[via Muscular Mayhem]

My Unitarian Jihad Name is Brother Broadsword of Enlightened Compassion. Get yours.
[via Scribbling Woman]

On to a muppet-themed quiz, it looks like I’m Oscar. It’s not easy being green. [via Wolfangel]

You're a hard nut to crack, but everybody knows you're one big sweet softie on the inside
Which Sesame Street Muppet Are You?

Speaking of Sesame Street, was anyone else disquieted by news reports that featured that beloved compulsive eater Cookie Monster in dreads, singing about eating healthy foods? Cookies are a “sometimes” food?!?! WTF is up with that.

Cookies are anytime food! C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me. Me want cookie. Coooooookieeees!!!!

War Stories - Olympic torch

I have quite a few Sarajevo stories bouncing around my head that I have wanted to record on this blog along with their corresponding snapshots; however, since December I have been distracted by…other things.

Regular installments will return soon, with the next one featuring public defecation behind a bombed out car and razor-wire-shredded clothing, but for now here is one of my favorite pics.

Olympic torch framed by tank and razorwire

I think what strikes me about this one is how the Olympic torch is supposed to be a powerful symbol of peace, of nations putting aside their differences to come together in friendly competition. Yet here, just a decade after the Sarajevo Winter Games, the torch was a tragic reminder of innocence lost, standing amidst the machines of war and a devastated Olympic sports complex that was now a base of operations for an occupying army.

On the left, we have a Turkish tank, ironic considering that Sarajevo (Saraj Ovas or “Castle Field” in Turkish) was occupied by the Ottoman Empire until 1878. On the right, a British Royal Engineer works dangerously close to twisted coils of razor wire. In the foreground, overgrown greenery hides a dangerous minefield, and in the background sit the hills from which sniper fire and mortar rounds rained down for years.

Fortune cookie 5


Once again I am in awe of the cookie person’s uncanny insight.

I lately find myself lacking motivation to affect any real change in my life. Lethargy, inertia, apathy, detachment, malaise, going through the motions. Spring should be a time of rebirth, yet all I want to do is crawl back under the warm, dark, almost womblike comfort of my bedcovers.

Many a false step
is made by standing still.
Lucky Numbers 6, 7, 14, 23, 26, 37

Death and taxes

I resolved that I would not do any blogging this weekend until my taxes were done. As I am an expert procrastinator, I did not do much blogging this weekend.

At least those infernal forms are finally completed and await xeroxing before I drop them in the mail. (Yes, I still do it the old fashioned way. e-file? Bah.)

Well, I suppose I don’t feel quite so bad contributing to our nation’s treasury, considering how our government’s level of fiscal responsibility has risen so dramatically over the past few years. (Surplus? QuĂ©? What is this “surplus” you speak of?)

Ice Cream Invasion


This Saturday the first Cold Stone Creamery in my area is having its grand opening in the Mercer Mall, a shopping plaza where I do weekly errands. If that wasn’t bad enough, a second one is opening up very soon in nearby Kendall Park. Auugh! Two of them within a ten-mile radius. Must…resist…orgasmic…frozen…creamy…dairy…goodness.

I will, of course, be helpless before this sweet siren’s song; I just can’t make it a regular thing. I worked too hard to get my weight down to 185.

Ah, hedonism without consequence…if only…



During the first week of March, in the yard outside my apartment complex, the naked branches of a tree grabbed hold of a drifting piece of plastic. For some odd reason, it fascinated me to glance daily through the sliding glass doors in my kitchen for an entire month as wind, rain, and sleet shredded and twisted it into a somewhat ethereal sculpture. The groundskeepers finally removed it this morning (fortunately, I snapped a pic on Sunday). Normal, sane people probably saw it as an eyesore, but I’m not…either.

shredded plastic caught in a tree

My home via satellite

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As all of you Slashdot addicts already know, Google Maps now features satellite imagery. How freaking awesome is that! The image below is my current neighborhood. I cheated a little. The red marker was in the middle of my complex’s parking lot; I moved it over a tad in Photoshop—right on top of my apartment.

my home via satellite

Showing some skin

I love group art projects that reach across the internet for contributors. ScanYourSkin is now the second one that I have participated in. This project invites people to scan or photograph their skin, crop out a 500 by 300 pixel square, and e-mail the result. The aim is to create a diverse database of skin types. Below is my contribution—my fair complected, hairy, freckled right forearm. While examining my arm, I even noticed a scar that I never knew I had (very hard to see; lower right corner). Cool. [via jill/txt]

scan of Michael's skin

Fortune cookie 4

Fortune cookie time again. Isn’t there an ancient belief that if you blog a fortune, it will come true?

There are many unexpected & thrilling
surprises in store for you!
Lucky Numbers 6, 11, 22, 24, 36, 37

Redheaded stepchild


There’s nothing quite like going for dinner with a pretty 21-year-old to make a guy feel kind of old. So, of course, yesterday I just had to color out the gray. I also decided to try going a shade lighter. Unfortunately, whenever I try to go from a medium brown (my natural color) to a light golden brown, my hair turns reddish. I guess the Irish in me is just dying to come out.

This time I even tried a hair color that was supposedly designed especially for brunettes and was not supposed to turn one’s hair red. No dice. My hair, once again, is the color of a slightly tarnished copper penny. Bleah.

Search engines & blog logs 3


My monthly perusal of my blog’s search logs (complete with snarky comments) was delayed a bit, so without further ado…

  • r****** r**
    At least 3,140 visitors came by in March to look for pics and info about a certain vivacious cooking show host. I wonder if Rachael, herself, has ever been by.
  • exercises to remove lovehandles
    I have had tremendous success with Ellington Darden’s book, The Bowflex Body Plan. He wrote another book called A Flat Stomach ASAP that might help you out (I haven’t read it, though).
  • ben jerry chocolate therapy
    Yummy! I need more therapy. Damn, you, lovehandles! Damn, you!
  • free male bulges
    …only if you ask nicely.
  • clear shade creek
    A visitor from my childhood home—cool!
  • robot chicken commercial song
    Ba-bawk, bawk, bawk. Ba-bawk, bawk, bawk. Ba-bawk, bawk, bawka, bawka, bawk, bawk, bawk. [Repeat] (Well, that’s the closing song, at least.)
  • religion media representation monty python -grail -holy
    Let’s all sing along now—“Every sperm is sacred. Every sperm is great…”
  • blurriness 2 weeks after enhancement
    The blurriness goes away in time, thankfully. Your eyes will be back to normal in no time.
  • i owe it to myself
    Yes, you do, dammit.
  • bowflex grandma sex
    I am sure she has it; however, I doubt she posts pictures of it on the internet.
  • brad pitt pubic hair photo
  • faux motivational posters
    Despair.com—As an April Fools prank, I printed out a rather amusing, but harsh, demotivational saying about Failure and taped it over a disgustingly “motivational” Success poster at work.
  • army male bulges
    Looks like someone is doing a research paper on the Ardennes Offensive.
  • writing inner monologue
    Sometimes my inner monologue has a mind of his own.
  • abnormally large pupils
    You know what they say about guys with large pupils…(their eyes are much more sensitive to high-order aberrations in the shape of the cornea).
  • never been tied up
    Me neither. It was highly recommended by one of my readers, so I guess if the opportunity ever presents itself…
  • nude woman cooking in apron
    If I was a Freudian, I’d say this person has mother issues, but I’m not.
  • why am i still single
    Tell me about it. For me, I think that it’s a combination of my having the worst timing in the world and always going after the wrong woman.
  • human being cannot get pregnant from a neanderthal
    I’m sure there are quite a few women out there who may beg to differ.
  • fishisms
    “Everyone is alone. It’s just easier to take in a relationship.”
    “Make enough money and everything else will follow.”
    “I couldn’t help but overhear, probably because I was eavesdropping.”
    “You’ve got to remember, you’re not who you are. You’re only what other people think of you.”

Sin City

Sin City was an amazing movie…the exaggerated film noir atmosphere…the corny pulp novel style dialogue…the sadistic, almost cartoonish, violence…“Rory Gilmore” as a blue-eyed hooker in studded black leather…and, of course, the powerful visual style, which used minimal color in an otherwise high-contrast black and white palette and looked, at times, just like a moving pen and ink drawing.

Serving up crap


Once upon a time, there was a cool television channel called Tech TV. Then an evil, greedy cable network with a clueless, condescending attitude toward “geeks,” sought to tap into the multi-billion-dollar video game industry by creating a channel called G4. Nobody watched G4; G4 sucked. Tech savvy 20-to-34-year-olds watched Tech TV. The evil cable network jealously vowed to kill Tech TV.

Realizing that there just weren’t enough sports channels on their over-priced cable service, they replaced Tech TV with Yankee Entertainment and Sports (at least that was what my area got). I, of course, said NO to YES.

When that didn’t work (and many of their customers were switching to satellite just to watch Tech TV again), Comcast bought Tech TV and merged it with their aforementioned crappy G4 channel, which you could only see if you had satellite or you forked over more money and got Comcast’s digital cable package, which might not be a complete rip-off if the first hundred channels weren’t still analog.

Not understanding what made Tech TV worth watching, and showing a complete lack of respect for their audience, they fired most of the on-air talent and gutted the shows. Most recently, they finally killed one of my favorite Tech TV shows, The Screen Savers (at least it was a favorite back in the days of Leo, Patrick, Megan, and Cat), and replaced it with something called Attack of the Show. Attack of the Show? WTF?

…and what quality content have they featured so far on this new show? Well now, how about shoving a live web server up someone’s rectum? Yes, this is, of course, what prompted this rant. They took a web server based off of a USB keychain drive, stuffed it in a condom, shoved it up someone’s ass, and invited viewers to visit the web site in this guy’s butt.


Happy April 1st!


If you are visiting this site on April 1st, you may have deduced from the entry page that in the spirit of Picasa, Keyhole, and Blogger; notMike.com has become part of the Google empire. Yes, the Google execs were so impressed by the immense revenue potential of this site ($33.43 in Q1 Amazon Associates earnings, baby), they immediately extended a lucrative buyout offer that this humble starving artist could not refuse. ;-)

I learned a few things while creating this parody design. The official Google font is Catull by Berthold Types Limited. Also, I deployed my first real PHP script since David Sklar came and taught a couple dozen of my colleagues all about PHP. I used an elegant little PHP stylesheet switcher that I found on A List Apart. Hopefully, I didn’t break anything on my site.

This was a really quick and dirty hack. If you peek at the source code, you will see that both the real version and the Google version load on the same page [no longer applicable]. The style switcher just shows and hides the appropriate divs. Unfortunately, you won’t “get lucky” if you click the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button (welcome to my life), it just functions the same as the “NotMike Search” button.

April 2 Update: In case you missed it, or just want to see it again, here is an archive of the Google-skinned version of the site (minus the PHP style switcher).

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