May 2006 Archives

Thin wallet


Yet another drawback of having slacked off all those months with my fitness program is that all of my pants are tighter. When a man’s pants are too tight, a fat wallet becomes a significant problem. I don’t, of course, mean “fat wallet” in the good sense; that hasn’t been a problem ever since I took a job in academia.

A short while back, a few blogs mentioned the Jimi “wallet.” I was suckered in and bought one, but I tossed the thing in a drawer soon after I got it. It would have cost too much and been too much of a bother to return. The thing was not much thinner than the leather wallet I hoped to replace. It was five-eighths of an inch narrower, but it is hard, inflexible plastic. It was not at all comfortable in my front pocket, and held considerably less stuff. Screw that.

My next attempt was the duct tape wallet. 3M’s do-it yourself guide intrigued me, but I did not feel like investing the time.

ducti wallet
Then I saw the Ducti wallet. It looked stylish, had that duct tape cool factor, was accented with rivets and grommits, and was made out of something they call “Super Duct Tape.” Super Duct Tape is a proprietary duct tape that “won’t lift, peel, or get sticky.” I opted for a bi-fold with glow-in-the-dark stripes.

This wallet is, in fact, thin. It should also be nice and flexible once I break it in. Plus, it is one sharp-looking wallet.

However, I would be remiss if I did not point out one huge glaring drawback. The thing is about a half-inch TOO WIDE (4.25 inches long x 3.75 inches wide). Otherwise, the dimensions are perfect. Unfortunately, they seemed to have designed the wallet to be optimized for that goofy toilet-paper-sized money that Europeans use. Normal-sized money (the non-ass-wiping variety) gets lost down inside. Also, the wideness makes it slightly uncomfortable in my front pocket, with a noticeable outline.

I opted for the 100-percent duct tape version, rather than the duct tape and faux leather interior hybrid version. The specifications for the hybrid one list it as being a quarter-inch narrower. In hindsight, I would have gotten that one.

Again, I hope once I break it in, and the wallet becomes more pliable, the width becomes less of an issue; I do love how this wallet looks.

Charcoal chimneys

charcoal chimney
Today’s rave is about charcoal chimneys or “canister style charcoal starters.” Oh, where have you been all of my life, charcoal chimney? Seriously, I’ve only had one of these things for about a year, and they make grilling mind-blowingly easy. Really. It makes it so freaking easy that deciding to grab some meat and tossing it on the grill becomes almost an impulse thing.

I am a definite fan of charcoal instead of gas grills. I mean, much of the point of grilling is to infuse food with the smoke taste from carbonized hardwoods. With gas, you may as well just use the broiler on an indoor gas stove; it doesn’t taste much different. Also, as Alton Brown will tell you, burning propane produces water vapor; water vapor creates a barrier between meat and smoke. Finally, storing or using gas grills on patios or balconies is verboten under New Jersey Uniform Fire Code (charcoal grills aren’t mentioned)…but I digress.

Anyway, you just grab the chimney thing, shove some wadded-up newspapers in the base, set it on a cement patio, fill it to the top with charcoal, and shove a lit Zippo torch into the holes. The paper catches fire, but doesn’t blow out in the wind. Then the heat inside the cylinder keeps building and building, the coals getting hotter and hotter. After about a half-hour, they are plenty ashed-over and glowing, so I tip the canister over, and dump the hot coals into my grill and start grilling.

Advantage? No need to squirt lighter-fluid all over the carefully arranged collapsing pyramid of coals, wait for the flame to get blown out, then squirt more lighter fluid on, as you hover over the grill trying to keep it lit. This is like that Ronco rotisserie—“set it and forget it.” The newspaper ashes stay separate from the coals and separate from the food. Also, the food then tastes like charcoal smoke, not lighter fluid (of course, avoid the charcoal with infused lighter fluid; you don’t need it).

Luke from Gilmore Girls may have dismissed the charcoal chimney as a “gadget” the season before last, but consider the source—this is the guy who drove Lorelei into the arms of another man… Uh, not that I watch Gilmore Girls or anything, I just caught glimpses of it while channel-surfing between professional wrestling and Tuesday Night Football.

Boot Camp HD icon


I installed Windows XP via Apple’s Boot Camp software the day after I got my MacBook. It is amazing to be able to switch between the two on the same machine by merely rebooting. Virtualization with something like Parallels might be more convenient, but for now, Boot Camp works well enough for the few times I need to access that other OS.

I was bored, and I also brought work home that I didn’t want to do, so I took the time to make hard drive icons for my Mac OS volume and my Boot Camp volume. I wanted something subtle and grayscale that used a modified version of the default OS X hard drive icon, the quicksilver Apple logo, and the Boot Camp logo.


The icons are in a dot zip archive and are in OS X icon format. Using the Apple HD icon is just a simple cut and paste into a Get Info dialog. Because the Mac OS can’t write to NTFS volumes, changing the Boot Camp HD icon is a wee bit more complicated.

Apple and Boot Camp HD icons.

Big brass ones

Today’s post features another of my favorite Princeton University sculptures, unofficially dubbed the “Chia Tigers.”

I will explain that and the title in an update to this entry in the next few days, but tonight I’m just too tired.

the Chia Tigers

Purple Backhoe

Purple Backhoe has been hanging around outside my workplace for about a week, digging a big ol’ hole. Now, one could suggest that Purple Backhoe may not be quite as cool as its co-worker Zebra-Giraffe Backhoe (hand painted zebra stripes and a face on the shovel), but Purple Backhoe is…well…purple.

purple backhoe

Purple Backhoe rocks.

green kanji symbol

Great caution symbol. No idea what it says.

purple backhoe front


There are some workdays that are just so frustratingly unproductive—the last thing I want to do when I get home is look at a glowing screen (computer or television).

Thank goodness for old school reading material printed on dead trees.

Fortune cookie 25


Deep faith eliminates fear.
Lucky Numbers 28, 10, 20, 27, 42, 33

I suppose so. As long as deep faith doesn’t become blind faith…

Little black ’Book II

My new little MacBook is so vain that it was already in front of the bathroom mirror taking pictures of itself, using its built-in camera. It has only been outside of its shipping box for just over 12 hours.

MacBook self-portrait.jpg

The other crazy thing it did today at work was download that program MacSaber, so every time I picked it up or moved it around, its sudden motion sensor made humming and crashing noises like a Star Wars lightsaber.

Silly MacBook.

Coolant leak II

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I was looking back over my archives, and I realized that I had never blogged about our second PowerMac G5 coolant leak. Coolant leak number one was back in January. This one happened last month.

This time, the globs of glowing green goo got into the power supply and shorted it out. One of my co-workers described a bright flash and a loud buzzing crackle. Light-colored smoke poured out of the machine, and sizzling coolant dripped onto the aluminum handle. The “cheese grater” back grill had scorch marks.

second G5 coolant leak

I should, of course, provide two clarifications. Apple’s first-generation liquid cooling systems (mid-to-late 2004) were reportedly problematic. These problems were supposed to have been corrected in later generations (I really hope so).

Also, with both incidents, Apple was extremely cooperative and provided swift resolution by paying for the parts and labor required to restore our G5s back to working condition. We did not lose any data on either machine.

Still though, I guess I’m old school, but I really don’t think that computers should bleed, or wet themselves, or whatever.

Freedom fountain

James Fitzgerald’s “Fountain of Freedom” has been one of my favorite Princeton sculptures since I was a freshman (almost sixteen long years ago), and it is a frequent target of my camera lens. One of the largest bronze castings in the country, the fountain sits in front of our Politics department and our School of International Affairs.

The magnolia blossoms changed from pink to green a few weeks ago already, but I never got around to posting a picture until now.

Fountain of Freedom

That free Skype thing

Free Skype
I have to say, I’m already loving the fact that calls between Skype and Plain Old Telephone System phones are now free anywhere within the US and Canada until the end of the year.

I realize that Skype calls to ordinary phones were only like a penny-a-minute before, but I just was too lazy to sign up. You can’t beat free. No credit card necessary. Suck it, Verizon.



Friday night I fell asleep on my futon while clearing off the TiVo. (Yes, I have a futon instead of a real couch—it’s that “lack of a woman’s touch” thing, I suppose.) Anyway, I woke up in the middle of the night with a kink in my neck and a sore shoulder and back. I decided that it was finally time to replace my lumpy, floppy old futon mattress.

I had bought that mattress and frame almost a decade ago from the graduating granddaughter of the guy who co-discovered the structure of DNA. It was a beautiful unfinished futon frame that I sanded, stained, and varnished, so it would be a shame to get rid of it.

To figure out what I wanted, I headed over to the website for White Lotus Futon. The prices did make me wince a little, but I knew they made great futons. Hand-made. Quality construction. Et cetera. I wasn’t sure what fabric I wanted for the cover, and pictures on a website really don’t cut it.

Their main brick and mortar location is just a few miles up the road. Now, if you are a Princeton alum who has graduated in the last twenty-five years, you have undoubtedly sat on a White Lotus futon—either in your own dorm, a friend’s dorm, or a room party.

So the discovery that this Princeton institution would be closing its doors at the end of the month took me by surprise. It seems their online business is so successful, that is where they will be focusing their efforts. Good for them.

Good for me too. White Lotus’ offline locations are having a fifty-to-seventy-percent-off sale for the rest of May. In seven to ten days, I will have a custom-made foam core and wool-padded futon mattress with a granite-colored sueded cotton cover. Half…price. Oh, yeah.

Aluminum Falcon

I’ve mentioned Robot Chicken before. Some find its humor puerile, but I look forward to every episode (although their sketch “Golden Girls in the City” just went too damn far).

I laughed out loud at last week’s Star Wars-inspired bit, which someone encoded and put up on YouTube. Not sure how long the link will last, as it is copyrighted content posted without permission.

Fortune cookie 24

Yet Another Filler Post (and emptying my pockets after cleaning off my desk at work).

Executive ability is prominent in your
Lucky Numbers 8, 19, 2, 44, 37, 11

I don’t wear makeup.

Stop searching forever, happiness is
right next to you.
Lucky Numbers 25, 16, 45, 28, 37, 9

Next to me on my left is my television. On my right is a cluttered, but empty room. Happiness? Meh.

Cleverness is serviceable for
everything, sufficient for nothing.
Lucky Numbers 12, 17, 30, 34, 40, 42

Serviceable is good, right?

What's your domain name worth?

Not sure how accurate this is, but has this analysis tool that assigns your domain name a score based on a number of factors such as search engine hits, length, whether it’s in the dictionary, etc (via digg).

Of course, something is only worth something if someone else is willing to pay that amount.

Apparently, the “estimated actual value” of is $12,696.00. Hell, I’d be willing to part with it for only $12,000. Or not…I have grown a bit fond of this domain.

Little black ’Book


Brand new MacBook on order. In matte black, of course.


I will be counting down the days until it ships, then counting down the days until it arrives.


So you are working on a poster or a website for a client. The design incorporates a few well-known corporate logos that you need to place against a custom background. You ask the client if they can get you a vector version of a logo you are missing, and they send you back a low-resolution GIF matted against white, right-click-downloaded off the website of the company in question. Gee, thanks.

The best brands of the world is a useful website that contains an immense collection of thousands of high-quality versions of the official logos for a wide variety of companies, products, movies, sports franchises, TV stations, etc. Most logos are in Illustrator or EPS format, giving them infinite resizability, transparent backgrounds, etc. Warning: a few logos are evil “dot CDR” files, so you have to download a 30-day demo of Corel Draw to convert them to a format that the rest of the professional world uses.

CTU logo

The logo above is one I found on the BBotW site that should be familiar to fans of Jack Bauer’s day-long, sleepless, foodless, bathroom-breakless, traffic-jamless adventures (link to vector version).

Fortune cookie 23

So I’m guessing they mean something other than getting out of bed in the morning.

Each day, compel yourself to do
something you would rather not do.
Lucky Numbers 36, 17, 2, 40, 33, 4



My mother sends out a Mother’s Day card to her son (me) every year. I do wonder how unique I am throughout the entire world in that regard.

She buys a normal Mother’s Day card, alters it a bit with Wite-Out and an ink pen, then mails it off.

Her reasoning stems from the fairly obvious observation that if it wasn’t for her sons, she wouldn’t be a mother—and so she wants to express her extreme gratitude for that circumstance.

I try to explain to her that that’s not quite what the holiday is supposed to be for, but she replies that she can celebrate Mother’s Day any way she likes. She is correct, of course. I do love my mom.


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This afternoon we had a team-slash-morale-building event at Triumph Brewing Company, the very same one I mentioned here ten days ago. I was actually looking forward to having some more of that coffee and cream stout.

“Oh, sorry, we ran out of that one yesterday, try the Oatmeal Stout.” Damn it. I guess I’ll have to wait until they brew another batch.

I did try the Oatmeal Stout. It was sour and disappointing. Blech-y. The Nut Brown Ale wasn’t bad. I ended up taking home half of a half gallon. I also took home a half gallon of Amber Ale. We had lots of leftovers, and I really wanted the cool half-gallon bottles with the Triumph logo. Now I have all of this preservative-free beer and no one to drink it with.

The team-building event was fun. It was nice to see other members of our sub-department who work in other buildings across campus. It was nowhere nearly as creepy as “Casino Night” on last night’s episode of The Office. Good show. You know, I totally feel Jim’s pain. (Of course, if that show was really trying to be realistic, next season would open with Jim being accused of sexual harassment and Pam leaving, but I digress….)



If you’re looking for insightful political commentary, none to be found here today. I’m just venting some frustration.

Another President Bush? First 2 Are for It”

Aw, come…on…. Yes, they said Jeb wasn’t going to run in 2008, but they didn’t rule out 2012, etc.

Okay, raise your hand if you’re freaking sick and tired of political dynasties. Out of 296 million Americans, probably a large percentage of them are over 35, born in the USA, and reasonably competent to run a country—so why do we keep turning to the same families to govern us (especially when only the first two conditions seem to matter).

Even if Dubya was the greatest president ever, I would be uneasy about tapping the House of Bush yet again.

Now, we’ve got Hillary, who is reportedly a great senator, and even conservatives are giving her props. So does this mean we are headed down the road to dynastic rule yet again? Feh.

Fortune cookie 22


A new friend helps you break out of
an old routine.
Lucky Numbers 4, 21, 37, 46, 19, 31

Spring haiku

Thick yellow pollen
Clings to the hood of my car.
Shit. I just washed it.

Touch my Tra-la-la


OMFG! Famed “pleasureman” Günther came to Princeton University this past Sunday as part of Houseparties weekend (and as part of his campaign to Sexualize the World).

He was reportedly hanging around Prospect Avenue (“The Street”) with his entourage of Sunshine Girls, and then he performed an outdoor concert at one of the eating clubs (photo from The Daily Princetonian).

If only I would have known, I would have driven in.

What, you’ve never heard of Günther? Surely you have heard his world famous sexuality anthem—the “Ding Dong Song.” Warning: video not appropriate for those who cannot handle the bare ass crack of a creepy European guy with a mullet or for those who have a hard time purging a catchy song melody from your mind.

Update: Günther, of course, was a frequent topic of conversation today. His performance was lip-synched to pre-recorded music, and since his entire repertoire only includes about four songs, he sang the same songs a couple of times. Also, he only had two of his five Sunshine Girls with him. They apparently rotate out.

Six six six

This one’s kind of random and a bit silly, but it didn’t mentally connect the dots until recently. I’m flying to Cleveland to attend a conference on 06/06/06. (Cleveland rocks.)

Also, Princeton’s class of 2006 is graduating on 06/06/06.

Probably not a good day to graduate or fly if you are superstitious or overly religious. Otherwise, the date is meaningless. Although, it will probably be the root of way too many jokes over the next month.

Update: Well, it looks like the flight is only an hour and forty-five minutes, so we booked it for the 7th, making half of this post moot. Oh well.


  1. I’m too tired to work out this evening. I’ll set my alarm for tomorrow morning and work out then.
  2. 6:30 AM already? I really need another hour of sleep. I’ll be sure to do my workout after work.
  3. I don’t feel like working out today. It’s only Monday. If I work out tomorrow, I can still have three good workout days this week.
  4. This week is almost over. I will give my workout schedule a fresh start next week.
  5. I’ll walk around in my underwear before I buy another pair of fat pants.
  6. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow I diet. (Because I will be starting my diet tomorrow, I can allow myself this last day of unhealthy, indulgent eating.)
  7. If I allow myself this 2,000-calorie indulgence, I will be less tempted to skip my workout today.
  8. As long as I don’t tuck in my shirt, my gut really isn’t that obvious.
  9. I remember what it was like to be 10 (20) (30) (40) pounds overweight. I will never, ever let myself put that weight back on again.

Top ?? reasons I gained back 40 pounds

So…I worked really hard to lose a whole bunch of weight. I got down to a 30-inch waist; I filled my closet with lots of new clothes. Then some time last fall, I fell off the proverbial wagon. I stopped exercising and gained back 40 pounds.

Now I am finally starting to get back on track with losing that weight all over again. To celebrate my new progress, it is time to present a list of the real reasons for the reappearance of my less than hard body (in no particular order).

  1. I was tired of all the women staring at my tight ass. (I just felt like such a piece of meat.)
  2. I had just traded in my old Bowflex for a new one, and, of course, each and every piece of exercise equipment must have a break-in period of no less than six months, whereby it functions solely as a rack for draping dirty clothes.
  3. Some intelligent designer or big banger or spaghetti monster or whatever decided that it would be a good idea to only put 24 hours in a day.
  4. Ben and Jerry made me their bizzle.
  5. The No Pain, No Gain category of my blog just wasn’t an interesting read once I became a skinny person.
  6. I thought outside the bun a few too many times.
  7. Trying to find pants with a 30-inch waist and a 34-inch inseam just became too much of a hassle.
  8. My lovers complained that I no longer had any handles to hold on to. (You know…love handles…never mind.)
  9. I wanted to experience what an actor goes through when putting on a large amount of weight in a short period of time in preparation for a movie role.
  10. Those damn Cold Stone franchises keep popping up everywhere faster than Starbucks.
  11. I happen to like roller coasters…and yo-yos.
  12. Slightly overweight people are generally more pleasant than those with perfect bodies.
  13. All work and no play makes Michael a fat boy.
  14. All work and no play makes Michael a fat boy.
  15. When my gut melted away, I no longer had a built-in shelf upon which to rest my TiVo remote.
  16. With my slim waist, tight shirts, and tight pants; I was starting to look less than hetero…and I have a hard enough time finding a female paramour.
  17. My Nautilus Sleep System bed just felt so-o-o-o comfy in the morning.
  18. Because of rising gas prices, I had my thermostat set low all winter. The extra layer of fat kept me insulated.
  19. One word. Beefcake. BEEFCAKE!

Fortune cookie 21

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There wasn’t a cookie around back today, but I have built up a huge backlog of fortunes to draw upon.

Life is a gift, don’t waste it.
Lucky Numbers 25, 1, 34, 6, 17, 28

Google Ads update

This entry is one of the many little things that I have wanted to mention for months, but never got around to it.

My little experiment with Google AdSense that started in January 2005 proved to be reasonably successful. As someone who tries his best to tune out the ads at the periphery of most websites, it still surprises me that anyone is able to get any kind of click-through; however, the few that do click on those ads eventually add up.

A website owner doesn’t see a dime until they accumulate $100, which can be a little frustrating. At least the small increments carry over month-to-month. I finally crossed over that magic threshold in January 2006. I can’t say much more without risking violation of the terms of service.

I won’t be quitting my day job any time soon, but at least that paid for my domain names and hosting fees for the year.

Breathing easier

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I’m not one to frequent bars.

The idea of fighting crowds for overpriced beer while gasping for non-existent fresh air in poorly ventilated rooms choked with foul cigarette smoke repels me. Usually at the end of such a night, I and every stitch of clothing on my body reeks like an ashtray.

Thankfully, the Smoke-Free Air Act has been in effect in New Jersey for a couple of weeks now.

We were at Triumph Brewing Company in Princeton this past evening, saying goodbye to a colleague who was celebrating a successful dissertation defense and was moving on to bigger and better things. I had ordered an absolutely delicious Coffee & Cream Stout. I could actually taste and smell the exquisite bitter chocolatey, malty, caramel-y, roasted coffee stout goodness without acrid tobacco smoke clinging to my nostrils and tastebuds.

A thoroughly pleasant bar experience for a change. The place, quite literally, had a completely different atmosphere from the last time I was there (close to two years ago). I will be back soon.


“Down to here; Down to there; Down to where; It stops by itself.”

So I finally did it. I went six months without getting a hair cut. The last time I mentioned my brownish locks, I had shaved my scalp bald with my Gillette Mach 3.

I really don’t like having long hair, but I had never before let it grow out for more than a few months at a time. My straight, waveless hair can be a bit tough to manage, the longer it gets.

Also, it grows much slower up top than in the back. It’s not quite Macgyver or Joe Dirt…”business up front, party in the back,” but it’s close.

God, I almost look like a freaking academic. You know, when I was young, I used to wonder why Einstein would let his unruly hair stick out all over the place, but now I must confess, there are days when I know I won’t see anyone else, I just let my follicles position themselves however the hell they want. Why waste time with a comb?

I won’t be going bald again, though. I’ll probably stop by a hair salon this week for the first time since August.

Update: Six months and three days was all I could take. I chose Hair Cuttery because I had some errands at Staples and Whole Foods in the same plaza. I found it amusing that the stylists were all talking about this week’s episode of The Apprentice because apparently Hair Cuttery was that show’s business of the week. Hmm. I used to occasionally watch The Apprentice, but once they started airing opposite 24, there’s no contest.


Okay. I am going to try something with my neglected little blog that I have not done in a long while—post at least one entry every day for an entire month (any time within a 24-hour period counts). Eh, I probably won’t make it an entire week

…nothing like a positive attitude to kick things off.

I guarantee you that most of the entries will be rather mundane, as my life has been rather low-key lately. In fact, the first official entry of the month is about as exciting as watching hair grow.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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