Random email

I got a forwarded attachment today from someone I don’t know. Of course I opened it, how else do antivirus companies stay in business? Actually it was just an email, but it did have a cute little story in it, which I thought I would share:

An old man lived alone in the country. He wanted to plant a tomato garden, but it was difficult work, and his only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man described the predicament in a letter to his son.

Dear Vincent,
I’m feeling bad. It looks like I won’t be able to put in my tomatoes this year. I’m just too old to be digging up a garden. I wish you were here to dig it up for me.
Love, Dad

A few days later he received a letter from his son.

Dear Dad,
Sorry I’m not there to help, but whatever you do, don’t dig up the garden. That’s where I buried the BODIES.
Love, Vincent

At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son.

Dear Dad,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.
Love, Vinnie


Yes, cute in that Reader’s Digest reader submitted way. You know that someone took a long time coming up with the little story. Which is really too bad, since if it had been written a bit differently the ending might not have been so predictable. But it was worth a chuckle anyway.

Random randomness

Well, blogger has been pretty fucked up of late, and since it would be a real pain in the ass to update the front page manually, as I used to do, I have instead lost a couple of complete posts by being a complete idiot. You see, when I first started using the blogger script, I continued to write all of the posts in notepad (including all the html for links, etc). The thing is when I transferred them over to blogger, I would have to do it either a paragraph at a time, or else it would not put in breaks, or I would do it all at once and lose all of the actual html from the document -I would have to go back and reinsert italics, bold, any links, etc. I’m sure that there was a way to get around that, but I never bothered to look it up, I just started using the blogger text editor since it is basically the same as notepad anyway.

Unfortunately for me, I have a habit of not making copies of what I am writing into the text editor over here, so when blogger is continually going down, I don’t actually know that I am going to lose the post until after I have already lost it. That is to say, I didn’t paste the html back to notepad before I attempted to publish the last two posts, and since blogger was down I was not able to retrieve the contents. Stupid blogger and your stupid downtime. Fear not, I am sure the missing posts probably wouldn’t have been earth shaking, they rarely ever are.

Instead I will offer a couple of random things, and for the best reason: no damn reason at all!

The local jocks on the radio were being their normal obnoxious selves this morning. It is sometimes funny, sometimes thought provoking (hard to type that with a straight face finger), sometimes, well most times, just completely, unapologetically chauvinistic. So, kind of humorous in doses, as long as you try to tell yourself that it has to be satire (don’t even question whether or not it is meant to be satire, you will be disappointed with the results. Unless you have a very small mind, in which case you probably don’t think it is satire, but then you probably agree with all the “get your ass back in the kitchen, take off your shoes, and have my baby” type “humor” they throw around).

The show is at its best when it is unintentional though. Like this morning. There was something in the middle of one of the valley freeways, it may have been an animal, but no one was really sure. Anyway, the jocks instantly assumed that it was an animal, and were actively asking the person who had hit the animal to call the show. Of course there were a couple hundred people who called up claiming to be the person who hit the animal, ’cause hearing yourself on the radio is probably at the top of their “must do before I die” list. Some of the calls were funny, just for the outlandish stories the people were telling. For example, one person said that a UFO dropped a mutilated cow on the freeway in front of him and he didn’t have time to dodge. But the best part was that they started playing a stock “tire screech, car crash” audio bit before each new call they took. Until the last one, when someone hit the wrong key. So just as the jock says something like “There is a dead animal in the middle of the I-10”, Marvin Gaye’s song Let’s Get it on started playing in the background. Classic, in that “it’s funny because it’s necrophilia” way.

Next up is a horoscope in the latest issue of The Onion:

Taurus April 20 – May 20:
It seems like no matter how many times you pick up the Bible, you always discover something new within its pages for you to wildly misconstrue.

That applies to a lot more people than just Taurusus Tauruses Taurusis Taurus’ Tauri the ones born under the sign of the bull. The problem is if you own a bible, and you think that the statement doesn’t apply to you, you are exactly the person that it applies to, but you will never admit it.

Finally, Wil put up a link to the following video and it is the funniest thing since sliced bread:


Where does the time go?

It has been a while since I slapped anything up over here, so I am just here to let you know that I am still alive.

Lately my time has been consumed by playing far too much Guild Wars. Then, when my wife got into an argument with our Guild Leader, I had a new project to work on. It is called Jade’s Misfits, a website for her guild ( a guild which was started long before aforementioned argument, but I didn’t feel compelled to build a website until she severed ties with her old guild). Being far too cheap to actually pay for hosting on another site, I just put a folder on this site to host it then bought then registered and redirected the domain. I’m cheap like that.

The website is far from complete, but it is now at least functional enough to look at. I got the forums up and running and designed some flashy buttons, banners, etc. About the forum: if you have never had to deal with the chmods on files and folders, stay away from hosting your own, it was really tough to get that all working properly.

Anyway, I am off to play some guild wars.

More on music

In a previous post, I was talking about a really cool music service. I ended that post with some offhand remark making it sound like it was about as accurate as astrology (not be confused with astronomy. One is scientific and has data to support their findings, the other is astrology).

I Just googled to find Hitler’s date of birth, which happens to be April 20, 1889. I was thinking that I would make some comments about how many other children were born that day, none of which went on to be the monster that Hitler was, thus proving that astrology is absolute and total crap (which it is). But that search, the one for Hitler April 20 brings up some of the weirdest conspiracy theories I have ever seen (sure other events happened on the same day in history, but come on).

To follow that weird, astrological, imminent doom type metric, I was actually married on the 14th of April in 2001. The 14th of April, it turns out, was a pretty bad day for history. I console myself by noting that while Lincoln was shot on the 14th, he didn’t actually die until the 15th. While the Titanic struck the iceberg on the 14th, it didn’t actually sink until the 15th. Also, the 15th of April is the day that the government demands that you pay your taxes, thus proving that it is the 15th of April that is cursed. The 14th will likely just be a really bad day.

That digression aside, I was talking about music. I actually got a comment regarding it after I made the post, and a phone call from a friend. The friend recommended Yahoo’s version of it (sorry, I can’t bring myself to use any of the services offered by the only survivor of the dot com bust), the commenter recommended Last.fm I actually went to that site, but didn’t download the software (.fm is something I have never heard of), but they do have a search engine that led me to a few more bands that I have never heard of, who, it turns out, kick ungodly ass.

That Pandora site is still the best one that I have found, previous caveats being noted.

Blogs and blogging

I have never considered my website a blog. I don’t really know why, though I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that everyone blogs and I didn’t want to be just like everyone else. I supose that the truth is that my page is more of a blog than most of the blogs that I actually read. Blog is defined as a “web log”, which I assume is more like a diary or journal than most of the stuff that I read.

I read several political blogs, a couple of sex blogs (not with pictures, just odd stories and practices), all of them are just fluff though. These blogs like to define themselves as a part of the Blogosphere, which I will define as a bunch of people who don’t have a single thought of their own, yet create web sites that do nothing more than respond to other web sites. That is more like a pseudo cult in my eyes. The imagined ‘blogosphere’ will be different for any person who sees it, since he/she will only be looking at the sites that they like to read. One more step and they will be drinking tainted Kool-Aid while talking about Jonestown.

The most fascinating blogs have nothing to do with current events, at least in my eyes. Not to mention that they meet the criteria to be a blog, with actual personal experiences and stuff on them. That would be as opposed to the political ‘blogosphere’ that takes something that someone may or may not have said, puts each site’s own spin on it, then makes new posts to reply to posts that they have found elsewhere on the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read my liberal political blogs, I have certain thoughts and ideals and those blogs confirm them. But they are not blogs. They are actual facts that have been spun to the point that I like to accept them, not the truth, but the truth with a bit of commentary and cherry-picked facts…So, Wabloids, perhaps… You know, Web Tabloids, but I know that it is spun just so for me. Not an actual “web log” by any stretch of the imagination.

I have found that I am a voyeur of sorts, not in the looking for naked chicks way, more in the reading little tid-bits from other people’s lives way. Isn’t it reassuring to know that God’s master plan involves suckitude for lots of people other than yourself? I think it is, and I can read about it on any of the myriad blogs that I happen across. Real life, in text, complete with emotion and hardship, that is what I read the blogs for. Real Life being the key.

I suppose it is time to admit that I am really blogging, but until the political, sexual, and otherwise underhanded, blog sites admit that they are not really blogs, I will be a bit reluctant.

What we really need to happen is for the political blogs to adopt a new name, “Plogs” (political blogs) is the first that springs to mind. “Recycling a possible fact for several months for the purpose of retaining readership” is my second stab at it. How about, “We spin, you read.”?

Bleh.

Bloggers of the world unite, talk about mundane shit, that is what we do. Stay away from the spiral that starts when you get into political discussion, that is what we shouldn’t do. I enjoy reading about lives much more than reading recycled political discussions for the eleventeenth time, maybe that is just me…

Shitty game still generating feedback

For those of you who may not have read any of my previous posts about it, I made a silly game in Java several years ago. It is called Lightz Out. I ripped off everything about the game directly from a handheld toy called Lights Out, which was manufactured by Tiger toys. When I say that I ripped everything off I mean it quite literally. I copied all fifty of the boards (which was quite a challenge, as it required that I solve them all), the audio on the applet was recorded directly from the game, I even programmed the same first two moves for help.

I did that all just to see if I could. I am not a programmer by any stretch of the imagination. In fact I knew so little about how to do it that everything that happens in the game is handled in the paint method. That meant that I actually programmed probably at least a thousand lines of code that would not have been necessary had I actually known what I was doing. But, I did make it work, and people are still playing it, and emailing me about it. I doubt that will happen for very much longer though, as even on my PC it is no longer playable, since everything is happening in the paint method, and since this computer is so much faster than the one I used to program it, the lines all blur when I try to screen it into the picture, and they never come back. I guess if I was viewing it in larger resolution that wouldn’t happen, but even at that I would probably go blind from the incessant flickering.

Usually when people email me about the applet it is because they have to program something for a computer science course in college and want to see the source code. I am almost embarrassed to send it to them, even when I do it is with a huge caveat. They still probably just look at it and wonder what in the hell I was thinking when I tried to do it the way I did, that is what I think when I look at it most of the time.

The most recent email I got about the game was yesterday. This one was unique in that the person enjoyed the game, but thought that I had made it far too easy. He was wanting to know if I had plans to add more difficult boards. I sent him a lengthy email that basically said no. The entire point of the applet was to see if I could make an exact online copy of the handheld game. I succeeded in that (well to a point, as it doesn’t seem to work all that well with faster computers) and have no intentions to ever look at the source code again, it depresses me.

The next thing that I decided to program in java was a cribbage game. I got as far getting images for all of the cards into it and the initial deal. It was at precisely that point that I realized I would have to program AI for it so that you could play it alone. This meant two things, first the computer would only be as good as I am at cribbage, as I would be programming his choices based on the cards he was holding. Second, there are 14,658,134,400 different ways the six cards can be dealt to the computer, that is a lot of possible hands to program. Even after assigning numbers to the cards based on suit, possible 15s, possible flush and possible run, then making it line up the cards based on the highest possible point value, I was still left with millions of possible combinations to program. Not that I am a quitter or anything, I didn’t actually give up on it, no, no, I have just put it on the back burner for the last five years… I wonder if I actually even have a copy of the source to that one anywhere, the unfinished code for that one was at least five times the size of the finished code for lightz out.

Let this be a lesson to me you; never decide to become a programmer if you have never had a day of training in your life. It will save you a lot of headaches and wasted time.

Following suit

Seeing the ease with which Flux over at BlackChampagne was able to integrate a blogger script into his existing page, I thought I would give it a try as well. It turns out that the ease of which I speak is not really easy, more a long and labor intensive game of guess and check (within reason) until things look more or less like you want them to.

I lost a few early attempts due to sheer idiocy, but I think this version is pretty stable and looks almost exactly like the previous page. Time will tell, as always. If you are reading this it is because I asked you to look at the page and tell me if you noticed any problems, if you do notice any problems (not counting the date being centered in the table instead of on the page type problems) please do comment about it.

Hopefully I will be confident enough with this setup to get it activated on the front page tomorrow. Notice the sheer confidence in that statement?

Decimate used incorrectly; Meta blogging

This is just a little bitch that I have had for the better part of a decade. Why in the hell do people use the term ‘decimate’ to talk about mass destruction or large scale loss of life? I learned the word back in high school, it means (meant?) to eliminate every 10th soldier as a punishment for treason. The reason it sticks in my mind so well is that I envisioned a line of soldiers, standing at attention, watching as a guy counted each one, then lopped the head off of the tenth one; a game of duck, duck, goose gone wrong. I remember thinking that I would have tried to start counting guys between the executioner and me, then make sure I didn’t fall into the 10th percentile, if you know what I mean.

The word has been bastardized to the point that Jeff Probst, the host of the CBS show Survivor, used it to describe one tribe losing seven out of eight players. While none of the contestants actually died (being the first reason that the usage was wrong), they lost 7/8ths of their team. I am no math major, but I really think that 7/8ths is greater than 1/10th.

It turns out that I am the jackass though, to a point. It seems that the term ‘decimate’ is now recognized as a term to describe massive loss of life. You can find a pretty average definintion of the word here. I linked to this particular dictionary only because they have the etymology of the word, thus showing that it was never meant to describe the loss of 87.5% of your group (as Probst said on Survivor). It does say that the word is accepted for descriptions of massive loss of life, but it also says that any other use is not supported.

So, in order to say that you have ‘decimated’ anything, you must either kill every 10th guy in a group or wipe out millions of Jews in Europe, any other usage is WRONG! Which leads nicely into the crux of why I make the argument right now (since it has been pissing me off for a decade or more). Some guy on a tragedy highlight reel said that a speedboat, which turned into pieces as small as kindling when it crashed into a wall, had been decimated. It was not decimated, it was destroyed to be sure, You could probably say that it had been eviscerated, since it did throw all of its inner parts out during the crash, you could say that it had been demolished, which I think is the best description. That boat was certainly not decimated.

If there had been exactly ten boats in the race, and if another, much larger, boat had singled out that particular boat and killed it, then I would say that the boat was decimated. If there had been two million boats in the race, and if another, much larger, boat killed 40-60% of them, then I would say that they had been decimated (reluctantly though. The word has a specific meaning.).

That is all for now. Any new posts today will show up above this one. As always, Email me with any thoughts. I do love the feedback.


New Site Format Starts Now

Well, as mentioned in a previous post, today is the day that I am going to start my new updating system. This will mean very little to you, as when you enter the page you only ever see the index page, regardless of how I handle the updating portion of it. What it will mean, however, is that there will be every post that I care to write during the week on the main page (newer entries being on top of course), for your enjoyment?

What this means to me is a hell of a lot less work. The real reason that my posts have dwindled over the past few months is actually due to the amount of time it takes me to add the old pages to the archives, make sure the links work and the such. Of course if I were using the movable type that would all be taken care of for me, that is a different story entirely. At some point I will probably catch up on the last few months in the archives, giving a brief description of each, after which there will simply be a link to the weekly posts. I may put a description on the ones that I think are important, but I am still not sure on that one. I will use horizontal lines to end subjects and bold print to start new ideas.

Police; Meta blogging; taxes in DC

Yeah, it has been a while. I would like to spout out various excuses, but I can’t seem to do it. The act of simply posting a new update on this site takes me a lot of time and that is time spent without reward. It turns out that I don’t have nearly as much to say as I thought I did when I began this little venture. Who knew?

I did look into the possibility of going to a Movable Type format a couple of months ago, but I didn’t really like the features on the free version, and if the paid version is not better than the free version by one thousand times, there is no way I am going to pay for it.

The key features of movable type appear to be its auto-archive and cgi based feedback system. Of course since I never get any feedback, and don’t care enough about my old posts to take the time to make them searchable (or click-able for that matter) I really doubt that anyone who reads this page would. The free version that I tried allowed you to set a font, and that was about the extent of its features. Not for me.

With my posts becoming less and less frequent, however, I have decided that I am (for sure this time) going to keep a running front page, which I will update whenever the hell I feel like it, and save it to disk weekly. The difference between that and what I have been doing since I started the page is small, in theory, but larger in practice. Now I am going to type some shit down here, and upload it immediately to the web page. I will also probably quit trying to archive my older posts with description of contents.

The official “Weekly Post” will be made every Sunday, small quips will be added on a daily basis, in theory. That is all going to start this Sunday, be warned. I am not sure how it is going to work out but it has to be better than my current schedule.

• Have you ever been driving down a sleepy little street that doesn’t have such luxuries as stoplights, only to nearly crash into the side of a police car? I have, happened today as a matter of fact. I was on the major street (that being the one without stop signs) merrily driving home to lunch, when, out of nowhere, a police cruiser pulled into the street ahead of me. I had to lock up the brakes to keep from hitting his car, and I guess he knew he did bad since he just waved and smiled, as opposed to stopping me for reckless driving. So it is all good, I guess.

Here is the question: If I had actually plowed into him, would I have gotten a fair trial? I was obeying every law of traffic, going the requisite 25mph, looking at the crossroads as I went. Some cop drives through a stop sign (no siren, not going very fast) and makes me have to lock up the brakes to keep from T-boning him. He is obviously at fault, but would I actually be able to plead my case? I have no doubt in my mind that if I had hit him he would have said that I was speeding and driving recklessly (which I wasn’t, else I would have hit him), yet, he was the one that drove right past a posted stop sign. The cop would have been the one that broke the law (traffic law), but you don’t really get a trial by jury on traffic offenses. I would have likely been cited for reckless endangerment, careless driving and possibly other offenses.

What really, really, really pisses me off about the whole situation is that I really wanted to go down and report him to the police. Thing is that you can’t do that in a town as small as mine, else you will be on the local police shit list for the next…well, until the end of time, really.

Humorous aside to the story is that had I actually been speeding he would have T-boned me when he drove through a posted stop sign. I bet you can name your price when the cop T-bones you.

On a similar note, I have believed all of my life that it is possible to do a “citizen’s arrest” on anyone (including police) if they break the law. That (what I am going to call an urban legend) says that if you notice a police car that is breaking traffic laws (with the red and blues off), you can flash your headlights to pull him over, detain him, force him to call another officer and cite him for his folly. I still believe that this is the law, but if you try it, good luck on driving to work tomorrow. Those so-called “stupid cops” have really good memories.

• One other random thought. There are several fundamentals of American society, one of which is “no taxation without representation”, that’s a darn good ideal. Why, though, do the residents of Washington D.C. have to pay taxes? Washington D.C. has no senators, no presence in the house of representatives, yet they pay taxes. Where is their representation? Just curious.