August 2005 Archives

Links and such

It has been forever and a day since I posted a list of cool web sites that I had bookmarked, etc., thinking that they would make a good blog post. So here goes.

  • Opus - This first one is a rediscovered treasure. Back when Berkeley Breathed announced that Opus the penguin (of Bloom County and Outland fame) was finally returning to the funny papers, some controversy arose because the strips weren’t available online, and the Washington Post’s lawyers tenaciously pursued those who tried to post them. Anyone remember the “DRM ink” urban legend? After most of the scofflaws gave up, I forgot about Opus until I stumbled upon the flightless waterfowl by accident. Apparently, the Washington Post had finally relented and started posting Opus online.
  • Statler & Waldorf From the Balcony - Speaking of flashes from the past, those two acerbic, crotchety geezers from the balcony of The Muppet Show have a new career as movie reviewers. The webcasted reviews are actually kind of funny as they rip on the movies, pop culture icons, and each other. Pepe the Prawn reviews DVDs.
  • Top Secret Recipes - Speaking of shellfish, have you ever wondered how to make your own Red Lobster Chedder Bay Biscuits, or Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, or Soup Nazi’s Mulligatawny Soup, or a Starbucks Mocha Coconut Frappuccino? Author Todd Wilbur has made it his life’s mission to figure out these food concoctions in his laboratory and expose them to the world. To pay the bills, he sells his books, his spice rubs, and many of the individual recipes. However, dozens of the recipes are free (a new limited-time free recipe each week). One downside to this site is that the Flash interface is a bit slow-loading, but you can print the recipes to PDF.
  • Before & After magazine - Speaking of giving away free samples to sell content, Before & After (an expensive but amazing design magazine) has this page of incredible design tutorials. You can view each one as a slideshow or print them to assemble into a booklet. Only three of them are free to non-subscribers. However, they provide a form for subscribers that allows them to send an e-mail link for any of the individual tutorials to a friend or colleague. So if you knew of such a person, and you asked him nicely about one or two specific tutorials, he might fill out that form on your behalf. Refreshingly, these tutorials are not product-based; they are based on design fundamentals like color-theory, negative and positive space, etc.
  • - Speaking of product-based tutorials (and free samples), Lynda Weinman, who has legally changed her name to Lynda dot Com (no, not really) has an extensive online training library. If you check out the pop-up menu in the left column of the main page, you can browse the titles. The full titles require that you whip out your credit card, but almost every single title has the first half-hour to an hour of video content for free. I think when I get back from vacation, I’ll convince my manager to buy the new PHP one.
  • The Post Office - Speaking of going on vacation, I just found out that you can fill out this online form and the Post Office will hold your mail until you come back. This one comes thanks to LifeHacker (one of my daily reads) and Eszter Hargittai, who is doing an awesome job as guest editor of LifeHacker all this week (and she was the very first non-spam commenter besides me on over five hundred comments ago). Cool. I will be filling that form out this afternoon!
  • Speaking of filling stuff out, I have a few more bills to pay before I go to bed.

Update: No cheesy segue or anything (okay…uh, it has a PDF version), but I realized I forgot a link. This “public service pamphlet” about What everyone should know about Blog Depression made me laugh out loud. This skillfully executed homage to those colorful pamphlets that once adorned every high school guidance counselor office is genius.


For the past couple of weeks, anyone who has tried to post comments with ellipses have been blocked by MT-Blacklist. Whoops.

The way MT-Blacklist works is that for any spam e-mails that happen to get past its blacklist, I have the option of clicking on a “De-spam this comment” link when a copy of the comment arrives in my e-mail.

That then deletes the comment, and extracts all URL strings, asking me if I want to block any further comments with that string. I normally just click “Block” without even looking at them. One URL string from a couple of weeks ago happened to be just “…” D’oh!

Sorry about that.

Hair and such

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I didn’t think it was possible. Someone actually gave me a great haircut. Her name was Daniela. You see, my hair is extremely straight. It is extremely soft and fine. It is extremely unmanageable. Whether it’s sticking up or flopping in my face—I hate it.

I have been known, on occasion, to get so frustrated with it that I shave it all off. I was tempted to take a razor to it this summer, but instead I just let it grow for four months.

There was this one salon chain mentioned on an episode of QEFTSG some time ago. I haven’t watched Queer Eye much since the first season because I started to get sick of makeover shows, but I had remembered Panico Salons, and even linked their website. (I felt kind of silly when Daniela asked me how I had heard about them, and I sheepishly replied “Queer Eye.”)

I’ve never really considered myself “worthy” of a haircut that cost more than twenty bucks. Shoot, when I lived in Fort Bragg, we went to this barbershop run by two Korean brothers every other week. A haircut and shoulder massage cost $4 and a $1 tip was customary.

Daniela used a cutting technique that I’m sure most of you are familiar with, but it was new to me. Normally, when a stylist would cut my hair, he or she would just gather the wet, straight follicles between the fingers of one hand and cut straight across with the other. She, instead, cut the line of hair in half-inch, 45-degree angled chunks.

I asked her about this, and she said it was so that the scissor marks would be hidden, and the hair would lay more evenly. Hmm, I guess that why she gets the “master stylist” big bucks. Cool.

All I know is that I drove home with both car windows down, and normally this leaves me looking like Yahoo Serious from Young Einstein (how’s that for obscure references). Instead, every hair just fell neatly back into place. And it still looked good after a washing. Whodathunkit.

Okay, I’m hooked. I think I may request her again. Good thing I tipped well.

Although, it’s one more expense to add to my budget. Looks like I’ll have to take on some more contract web work. So much for sleep.

Pimp my iPod


I got a small package from Singapore in the mail this week. The Smartwrap and Funky™ earphone pads I ordered from Sumajin finally came.

iPod with Smartwrap, Funky earpads, and Lajo skin

So my ’Pod may not be as bling-tastic as Paris’s or Puffy’s, but it has it goin’ on in its own little way.

I think I first saw the Smartwrap thing in Popular Science. It’s kind of pricey for a small hunk of silicone, esp. when you factor in shipping, but it is a cleverly designed hunk of silicone that does exactly what it claims to. It prevents the headphone cord from getting tangled up.

I threw in a couple sets of color foam earpads to make the shipping cost seem a little less painful.

As for the green iPod prophylactic from—I’ve had that for a while. It keeps the scratches off, prevents the slippery little devil from sliding around on my car seat (or out of my hands), and it glows in the dark. One cannot deny the supreme coolness of the green, glowing iPod.

I have a Calvin Klein polo shirt that is a very similar shade of green, and it’s fun to let people think that I coordinated my iPod to go with my outfit.

I am a paying customer now


Six Apart launched the final release of Movable Type 3.2 yesterday. As anyone who glanced at my footer could tell, I have been playing with the last three beta versions of 3.2. The upgrades have been painless as usual.

i beta tested Movable Type 3.2

Don’t let the incremental version number fool you. I’m thinking this upgrade may be as huge as the move from 2.6 to 3.0 was. The polished admin interface is the most obvious change. To take advantage of many of the most powerful new features, though, I will have to spend some time tweaking my templates.

As part of their launch celebration they are offering a $30 discount off of their licenses. Free licenses are still available, but the paid licenses have a few additional perks. Also, opening my wallet was the best way that I could think of to say, “Damn fine piece of software.”

And they’ve finally got a decent User Manual. Actually, it’s more than decent, it’s a showcase of how a blog-engine can be a powerful way to generate online documentation.

I thought this was pretty cool—in addition to a library of thirty-three default styles, they’ve got this brilliant AJAX-powered Style Generator. Even if you’re not an MT user, try it out; it’s kind of fun.

Not related to the new version, but still bloody brilliant (okay, this is the last of the gushing)—Douglas Bowman of Stopdesign created an amazing photo gallery powered by MT (and iPhoto), and he released the templates and documentation to the world. Wow.

Now if I can just convince the Movable Type server administrator at my university to upgrade to 3.2, so I can use this version at work too.

You are not a normal fellow


…at least that is what the disembodied announcer in the Dance Dance Revolution video game keeps saying. If he only knew…

I’ve been working hard to get back down to 185 before my HS reunion. Between Bowflex and DDR, I may do it, but time is running out. My calves are soooo sore. Playing DDR while wearing 30 pounds of lead bars in my weight vest (product shot below) can be really exhausting. After an hour, I can barely lift my feet off of the dance mat, and every item of clothing is drenched with sweat.

weight vest frontweight vest back

I can’t believe I used to carry around more than twice that weight just last summer. Granted, fat cells are more evenly distributed than lead weights in canvas pouches. Still, though…if only I could have taken that weight off just by undoing a couple of velcro straps

It feels weird when I remove the vest—sort of like a Kryptonian moving from red sunlight to yellow sunlight. :-)

Vacations and stress

Whew. Sometimes upcoming vacations can be a real source of stress. Each hour of the day slips away far too quickly as you struggle to wrap things up, knowing that you will be away for two weeks.

You don’t want to let anyone down, but you realize that there just aren’t enough minutes left in the week to solve everyone’s problems or to bring every single project to completion.

I guess the important thing, though, will be when close of business on Friday rolls around, I will have to force myself to push all unfinished business as far from my conscious thought as possible…and relax…

Fortune cookie 14


Cleaning out my pockets, preparing for laundry day, I found two fortunes that I had neglected to post. They coincidentally share a similar motivational theme.

You’ll never know what
you can do until you try.
Lucky Numbers 4, 7, 11, 22, 35, 38


Don’t be surprised by the emergence of
undiscovered talents!
Lucky Numbers 2, 4, 8, 14, 18, 26

The python


Battlestar Galactica crestThe rebirth of Battlestar Galactica is arguably the best example of a consistently well-written episodic science fiction drama to come along in some time. Tonight’s episode, part one of “Home,” was no exception.

What prompted this entry was a musing by Commander Adama from this episode that hit a little close to home.

 It’s interesting. Betrayal has such a powerful grip on the mind. It’s almost like a python. It can squeeze out all other thought, suffocate all other emotion until everything is dead except for the rage. I’m not talking about anger. I’m talking about rage. I can feel it…right here, like it’s going to burst. I feel like I want to scream…right now, matter of fact.

So say we all.

Spam and junk comments

The fourth beta of Movable Type 3.2 (soon to go final) added a version of the SpamLookup plug-in that integrates with the new Junk Comments feature. Comments are assigned a numeric score based on a few factors that decide whether a comment is immediately published.

That plug-in, combined with MT-Blacklist (and quite few customized blacklist strings that I added) have cut down the spam comments that get through to almost none. Two spams did get through last Saturday. Not bad, considering that there were over a hundred attempts this week.

The downside, of course, is the false positive. A few legitimate comments have been moderated. Not too big of a deal, but it can be a bit disconcerting to post a comment and not see it posted until the blog author gets around to unmoderating it. As I learn how to use SpamLookup, I will be tweaking my settings to minimize these false positives as much as possible.

Unfortunately, Movable Type seems to only allow one to whitelist those who have registered through the TypeKey authentication service.

Handicapped cicada


The cicadas aren’t really out in full force this year—at least not in the way their six-legged army carpeted New Jersey last summer. Still, though, you can hear the constant, droning resonance of the males whenever you walk outside.

During their “off years,” they mostly seem to keep out of sight. However, I came across the specimen below walking across a paved path outside my workplace.

cicada with a malformed wing

What caught my attention with this freakish little guy was his malformed wing. Apparently, metamorphosis didn’t go so well for him. Normally, when they crawl out of their nymphal skins, their wings are supposed to unfold and dry out. In his case, one of his wings got stuck and hardened in a twisted, deformed, useless state.

If he could talk, he’d probably say, “Get this scanner lid off of me!” Or maybe, “Some days it just isn’t worth coming out of your shell.”

Everyone needs an outlet


I had tried to extend the life of my favorite pair of dress shoes, but the soles had deteriorated so much, and my ghetto attempts at repairing them with Shoe-Goo just weren’t cutting it. Alas, Ecco doesn’t make that style anymore. I’m somewhat tempted to get them resoled, but I’m afraid they just won’t be the same.

Anyway, it was time to go shoe shopping—not exactly my favorite activity, so I first found a style that I liked on the internet, and headed down to the Kenneth Cole outlet at the Franklin Mills Mall in Philly. Because it’s an outlet store, selection may not be the greatest, but the prices were right. They didn’t have exactly what I was looking for, but the square-toed black lace-up oxfords I found were close enough. They are surprisingly comfy; the leather inside is soft and buttery. Yes, soft…like butter.

Unfortunately for my credit card balance, there was another pair in the store that “called to me.” They insisted I take them home with me, so I did. Odd thing about them is that when you look at them closely, you realize that they just took a belt sander to a normal pair of black oxfords. Still, I liked the distressed, almost suede-like appearance.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Rub Scout

Toiletry shelf

Okay, so the Cooking to Hook Up authors advocate keeping the area around the bathroom sink free of toiletries (besides maybe soap, a glass, etc.), and I seem to remember the Queer Eye guys giving similar advice to one of their projects.

I initially thought the advice silly; after all, that’s what the bathroom sink counter is there for. However, I gave it some thought and figured that it would, in fact, be easier to clean my sink area without having to move two dozen bottles and tubes out of the way each time. I have to admit that I don’t wipe down my sink as often as I should for that very reason, and the accumulation of cleaved facial hair, shaving gel, and toothpaste splatters can get a tad gross at times.

So, twenty-percent-off coupon in hand, I stopped by Bed Bath & Beyond and bought myself a two-tier glass and chrome bathroom shelf. After some screwing, and some drilling, and some pounding, and a little more screwing; I had myself some shelves.

Having moved all of my toiletries off of my counter and up on to this shelf, I have to admit that this was not an altogether bad idea. I guess I’ll see over time how many of my toiletries migrate back down to the counter. For now, though, I’ve got a gleaming bathroom sink and a tub of Clorox wipes at the ready.

Happy blogiversary


My first weblog post to is dated August 8, 2004. Here we are one year later. Scary.

On this momentous occasion, let’s play the numbers game:

  • 263 - number of entries
  • 457 - number of comments
  • 8,153 - comment spams blocked by MT-Blacklist
  • 2 - number of hosts since I started
  • 49,330 - unique visitors to this site
  • 200,440 - pages served
  • 7.84 - gigabytes served
  • 1,055,688 - total site hits
  • 21,881 - occurrences of ray or raye in my search logs
  • 66.5 - pounds lost in 2004
  • 15.5 - (soon to be lost) pounds gained back in 2005
  • 73.42 - dollars earned through Amazon Associates
  • 0 - dollars paid to me thanks to Google AdSense’s $100 minimum

It’s the FARgate. F.


So, early this morning I was clearing off the TiVo, which included an episode of Stargate SG-1. I remembered that I had seen a commercial that there was a Stargate convention in NJ this weekend. With nothing else planned for the day, I decided to jump in the car and head up to Secaucus.

These conventions can be a little silly, but I went to the same one last year with a friend from work, and it was fun. This year Michael Shanks (Daniel Jackson) and Christopher Judge (Teal’c) were headlining the Sunday events.

First on stage at the convention was Pierre Bernard from The Conan O’Brien Show. Pierre had gained notoriety for an anti-Daniel-Jackson segment that he had done a couple of years ago on “Pierre Bernard’s Recliner of Rage.” They actually brought a recliner out on stage for Pierre. A camera crew from Conan’s show followed him around the entire day.

Pierre Bernard in a recliner

Next up were Michael Shanks and Christopher Judge. They talked about the show and life on the set; they spent quite a bit of time ripping on each other; and they graciously fielded some pretty insane questions from audience members.

Michael Shanks on stage
Christopher Judge walks among the audience

People don’t normally dress up for these things the way they would at a Star Trek convention; however, two individuals with way too much time on their hands showed off their impressive homemade (but poorly ventilated) Jaffa costumes.

two fans in Jaffa costumes

The rest of the day’s events were somewhat formulaic. They had the usual “stump the volunteers from the audience” trivia contest. They showed a few amateurish montage clips of Stargate scenes set to music. There was a memorabilia auction that sold off items from the dealer room. Weird thing about such auctions is that the fanboys (and fangirls) tended to bid these items all the way up to retail price just to win the auction when they could have bought the same items from the dealer room five minutes earlier.

Finally, all those who forked over $30 (or more) for a signature (it’s quite the racket) queued up like cattle so that Michael and/or Christopher could make a few ink squiggles on whatever eBay-bound merchandise the fans had brought with them. (Not me. I figured that $25 for a general admission ticket was quite enough.)

BTW, this post’s title is an obscure reference from “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.”

New Movable Type Beta


Beta 3 of Movable Type 3.2 was released last night. This release is quite close to the final release.

Being the upgrade whore that I am, I had to apply it right away to my main blog. I ran into a slight snag; I forgot to replace the mt-static folder from Beta 2 to Beta 3, so the upgrade screen hung on the “Starting upgrade…” message.

This new version has such a massive laundry list of significant, substantive improvements to the admin interface and the backend that I have to admit that I am impressed. Six Apart has been highlighting the 32 biggest new features, but I suspect they are keeping some of the best surprises under wraps for the final release.

BTW, here is a sneak preview of the default template that ships with version 3.2. They are calling it Vicksburg.

Vicksburg theme of MT

I think that after the final version is released (could be as early as next week), I will begin my long-planned site redesign so that I can finally switch over to dynamic publishing and also take advantage of some of the new template tags in MT 3.2.

Search engines & blog logs 7


After seven months of doing this, my search logs are starting to get a little repetitive, although a few gems do stand out. There were a few surprises this month.

  • r****** r**
    I, of course, have to mention her. This topic gained new life with fresh comments to her entry and a massive upswing in RR-seekers. Last month I was amazed that 3,142 were looking for her. This month—8,155? WTF? Almost half of the unique visitors to my site in July were RR-related. Sheesh. I suppose if I were an academic, I could write a paper about this phenomenon.
  • kitty cat
    I’m not sure how a generic term with over 2 million Google results brought 7 people here. I only mentioned my parents’ feline once. Search engines are weird. Update: Mystery solved. Little Beavis lucked out as number 12 of 36,100 results for the Google image search for this term.
  • barbara bush nude
    I don’t mean to judge, but why would three people be searching for that? Why? I’m sure George Sr. finds her sexy wearing nothing but a string of pearls, but…
  • photo of hayden christensen naked in the bathroom
    Uh huh, I can picture it now—HC is playing around with his mo pho camera in his bathroom, snaps some revealing pics, then leaves them where others can find them. Yeah. No one’s that stupid…right?
  • google font generator
    I can actually help with this one. It was listed on Download Squad the other day—Logogle.
  • nude or nudist or nudism beach hawaii or honolulu or oahu light house diamond head
    I didn’t know there was such a place around there. Boy, did I miss out. :-)
  • embarrassed to take my shirt off weight
    Me too. The day when that no longer is the case cannot come soon enough. Of course, why do I keep sabotaging my progress, then, every time I get close?
  • nude satellite
    Google Earth’s resolution isn’t that good yet, but the day it is will be scary, indeed.
  • fat man in polka dotted swim trunks
    My trunks didn’t have polka dots, they had little polo horsey logos.
  • maui babe
    I love that tanning lotion. It is made with Kona coffee, and smells so good I want to bite my arm off.
  • ddr nude
    I really run the nude thing into the ground with these entries, but I do have to say—in the summer, the less clothes worn while playing DDR the better. Just an hour of play leaves me soaked to the bone.
  • carnegie lake rowing shirt
    Every year at the Belly of the Carnegie race, the freshman team wears a shirt with a clever saying. We were jealous of the year before us; they got “Let them hate, so long as they fear.” Ours was “I’m strong through the finish ’cause I eats me spinach.” Yup.
  • michael silence

Fitness progress redux


When I started this blog one year and one week ago, I kept a progress record of my surprisingly successful weight loss (246.5 lbs. down to 185 lbs.). I stopped keeping a record after 24 weeks because I was happy with my progress to that point and needed to take a break.

Unfortunately, I have backslid a bit. It happens. Too many procrastinated workouts and late-night snacks. No sense in beating myself up over it, but I can’t let it continue.

So I think that I will start keeping a record again. In a way, the external reinforcement of publicizing my progress (or lack of progress) helps.

Why now? Well, 195 lbs. is coming dangerously close to 200. I will never weigh more than 200 again in my life. Never. Also, I have that 15th high school reunion coming up in a month. Silly, I know, but it helps to have some kind of milestone to work toward.

This time I’m modifying things slightly. In addition to the weigh-ins Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, I will try monitoring the size of my waist and my gut (right around belly-button level) with a tape measure. The latter is tough to get accurate, but the general trend over the month is what is important; I’ll round to the nearest half inch.

Update: I’m dropping the “Gut” statistic. It is too hard to get consistent measurements with the tape measure.

Week 5

8/29 — 191.5 lbs., Waist: 32.5 in.

Week 4

8/26 — 192.0 lbs., Waist: 32.5 in.
8/24 — 192.0 lbs., Waist: 32.5 in. (okay…)
8/22 — 192.5 lbs., Waist: 32.5 in. (whew!)

Week 3

8/19 — 196.0 lbs., Waist: 33.0 in. (damn it!)
8/17 — 194.5 lbs., Waist: 32.5 in.
8/15 — 194.0 lbs., Waist: 32.5 in.

Week 2

8/12 — 193.5 lbs., Waist: 32.5 in.
8/10 — 193.5 lbs., Waist: 32.5 in.
8/08 — 194.5 lbs., Waist: 32.5 in.

Week 1

8/05— 194.5 lbs., Waist: 33 in., Gut: 37.5 in.
8/03 — 195.0 lbs., Waist: 33 in., Gut: 37.5 in.
8/01 — 195.5 lbs., Waist: 33 in., Gut: 37.5 in.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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