i'm outta here

So long blogger. I'm here now.

Here's your chance to escape (or, if you prefer, you can update your links)

This blog will be sticking around, for sentimental reasons.



Blogger is not letting me publish, and it looks like it's doing the same to lots of people. So I don't know if you'll ever see this post...

This may be the final straw.

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bwogger say i sowwy

The fans in the stands urge him to switch to the other side. The wider world buzzes with the news of unreliability and network wonkiness. But he stands firm in his loyalty (foolishness?).

Meanwhile, the software guys apologize, and apologize.

...our apologies. We really regret these outages, which were a nuisance (or worse) to you. The past week’s performance was not representative of the kind of service we want to provide for you.

Here's my thing, though. The Blogger people, when they apologize, always sound so cavalier:

It was a dark and stormy night. The air was quiet. Too quiet. Yet stormy. Suddenly, a beep rang out from a bedside pager. The engineer woke up, grabbing a soda to sharpen his senses. Blogger was down. He needed to bring it back up.

When I get the chance to write my pulp story of a gritty Blogger engineer struggling to keep the site alive, I may look back on this past week as a prime source of choice dramatic fodder. Until then, I, like many of you, will look upon this past week with irritation, disappointment, and maybe even a bit of anger.

A little bit? Try "a fair amount." It's free, I know but despite that fact, there exists an expectation among users, one propagated by the blogger organization itself, that the service will work.

It’s been a Murphyesque cavalcade of power failures, fileserver trouble, and wonky network hardware, and I hope you’ll believe me when I say that the Blogger staff is even more sick of it than you are.

Oh, I doubt that.

Look guys and gals, my blog buddies are telling me to quit you. I don't want to, but you make it hard to stick around. Shouldn't it be the opposite? And forget about switching to the beta version, there's still too many holes in it to make it worth the headache.

For now, apology accepted, but you really must do something about this guys.

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this is your brain on snow

This is what my pal Gwynne is seeing right now, probably...

Hang in there, Gwynne. Feed the pig and all that.

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back at ya, music nazis

Good news from the electronic frontier today as the RIAA gets handed its hat, and a countersuit as well. The Music Nazis fouled up their motion to dismiss in the case of Tallie Stubbs and apparently Tallie's counsel picked up on the error.

I understand very little legalese, but here's the relevant quote from ARS Technica...

After "further investigation," according to a plaintiff's court filing, the record labels decided to dismiss the case. However, they requested that the case be dismissed without prejudice and with prejudice. Likely due to a typographical error, the distinction is important. Dismissal without prejudice means that the action can be brought again in the future. If a case is dismissed with prejudice, it cannot be refiled and the defendant may be named the "prevailing party" and be eligible for attorney's fees and court costs from the plaintiffs, which is what happened in the case of Capitol Records v. Foster.

and, so Stubbs filed for dismissal with prejudice...

If Tallie Stubbs wins her motion for dismissal with prejudice, then she, too, will be considered the prevailing party and will be eligible for attorney's fees and other court costs from the RIAA. More importantly, it would put the RIAA in the position of having lost one of their file-sharing-related copyright infringement case—none of which have yet gone to trial.

Which is cool. Read the full article at Ars Technica.

Go get 'em Tallie!

20 year old teen not so good driver, oh, and another blogger outage

So apparently 20 year olds are now classified as teens. And looks like this particular 20 year old teen didn't do so hot on her driving test. "Oopsie, I just crashed into the license bureau lobby."

(It was) like a big boom; the building shook a little bit," Stover said. "My reaction was 'Oh my God!'

Williams said everyone was so stunned by the crash that they neglected to call 911.

"Everybody was on their cell phones, but nobody called 911. I came back in and called 911," Williams said.

Is it of any Loony Toons-ish significance that her Taurus was maroon?

And, of course, blogger will be down at 2pm PDT again today. Whoopee! Did anyone notice that blogger was out of commission for about an hour or so last night, in addition to yesterday's scheduled 2pm PDT outage. Ah, blooggler.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Rush Limbaugh's Idiot Hour, already in progress.

H/T: Obscure Store.

agree and disagree

Despite certain left leaning tendencies that I have, I have a few rightward prejudices too. I'm mixed up, but not as far as this goes.

I do not like the idea of stem cell research one little bit. Hey, watch Gattaca. You want to live in that kind of world? We can argue later about the supposed medical benefits and such. Really? I'm skeptical. The promise of this stuff is a long, long way off... if it ever comes. But the sad reality of genetic selection, that is knocking at our door even today.

On the other hand I have personally been acquainted with three people who have Parkinson's disease. And Michael J. Fox's on camera movements in that ad look exactly like those of all three of the people I have known. Exactly. If it was an act, it's certainly a good one, and he does have the disease after all. So how would one know?

Well, Rush knows. Like other idiots with media access, Rush knows everything. I've long thought that Rush Limbaugh was a moron. Now I know he's a moron as well as a jerk. I don't care what your politics are, Rush's histrionics are strictly low brow.

Hey R-dude, don't take it back, don't apologize, just shut the hell up! You are making me sick. Go join your friend Pat on planet stupid.


a rather ineffective euphemism

Tonight I went with my family to the incredibly lame halloween parade our town trots out every year. There is a lot to like about Pottstown, this is not one of those things.

After the parade my wife said, "It was better than last year," which may be the scariest thing I've heard this Halloween season.

The height of badness occurred about two thirds of the way through when one of three septic services companies drove their float by. The company was called A Honeydipper Septic Services. The float featured a guy dressed up as a bee, waving.

Skip ahead a few minutes. I'm talking with my friend Sissy and she tells me a story of a relative of hers who lived in Alaska for some years. They had a septic system throughout the town and referred to the truck that occasionally came to suck it out as a honeytruck. Euuggh. I never heard of such a thing, but after a few seconds with google, I now know that this is a common misnomer for a septic truck, as well as some other things too.

Yuck, okay. Just, just.... yuck. Honey Dipper is just way too close to honey dripper, and here I assume I need not go into the attendant imagery this similarity calls to mind. Man, we do come up with some whack vernacular in this language.

Okay, so back to the float. There was this guy on it dressed as a bee. I guess this would have to be a King Bee (because no woman in her right mind would agree to be Queen in this particular situation). He must have been the King because, as the truck passed by, I saw that he was seated on a... ummmm... throne.

So, you know, Happy Halloween or whatever.

everything is new, just in time for a blogger outage

Of course it worked out like this. My car was supposed to be finished yesterday, I have a ton of freelance stuff to tackle (a good problem, but still a problem at this point), I took my wife to work because of the car issue and ran back to the house to wait for a package. So obviously the post office had to call... at 9:20 am.

Fortunately for me, they only wanted me to deliver the short route and they had an LLV for me; in other words, they made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

Just as I was on my way out the door, there was a knock. He's my competition, but I was glad to see this UPS guy.

Once I got done with the mail and picked up my wife from work and picked up the car and paid $60 more dollars for it than I was supposed to, I began the big migration. It is now finished. Yay!

This new notebook is pretty nice. Very fast, sleek looking, and the screen is a staggering achievement. I'm sure you technoids know all about these things, and probably have a name for them as well, but this screen combines the thin sleekness of a flat screen with the clarity and sharpness of a good CRT.

My daughters are happy campers now as well. They've already started to make my old notebook their own.

Oh, and did I mention the Centrino dual core? And courtesy of Mozilla, Firefox 2.0. Life is good.

So now I have to find a way to stop playing with it! Blogger is all about helping me with that; they have an outage scheduled for 2pm PDT today.

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jumping the gun

People have been linking to the new firefox build all day. But I decided to wait until tomorrow, which is the official release day.

And I just now read this by preed of Mozilla.org and am glad I chose the way I did.

It's got a lot of language I don't quite get, but the message is crystal clear:

"Preed the Release Engineer says: friends don't let friends download Firefox before it's released."

So, tomorrow, I'm gonna get me some new Firefox. But not before.

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...so i'll just steal stuff from real people

Jeff just posted this so I thought I'd steal it.



3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Yesterday during worship when everyone stood to sing and put their hearts into it for a change. It was cool.

4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? No and neither does anyone else.

5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT? Liverwurst, which gives you an idea of how much I like lunchmeat in general.


7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Yep. It's called serotoninrain and you're reading it.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? No, they were removed when I was 4 or 5.


10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Grape Nuts. Always and forever.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Sometimes, when I don't feel like being a maverick.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Physically? Not espeically. But I'm stronger than I look.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Chocolate, especially if it has chocolate chips in it. Especially especially if it has chocolate sauce on it. Especially especially especially if it's in a chocolate dipped waffle cone.

14. SHOE SIZE? Not telling. Big! Okay?

15. RED OR PINK? Pink. What's it to ya?


17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Scott Schwinkendorf but I'm not saying any more.

18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? No, but they can do it themselves if they want.

19. WHAT COLOR PANTS, SHIRT AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Blue jeans a yellow J Peterman vinatage tee and brown leather shoes.

20. LAST THING YOU ATE? Bagel breakfast sandwich with egg cheese and bacon plus coffee. Always coffee.

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? I don't know but it's not very good. I think it's Natalie Merchant.

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Raw Umber... how the heck should I know?

23. FAVORITE SMELL? Napalm in the morning... no, just kidding... Spring.

24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? The guy who's working on my car. He told me that the parts won't be in today after all and so I'll have to beg the post office not to call me again tomorrow. I'm feeling just great right now, too, thanks for asking.

25. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO? Face. And sometimes, but only rarely, callipygousness.

26. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Well, Jeff didn't actually send it to me, I sort of appropriated it, you know? Furthermore, I don't really know Jeff so I can't comment on whether I like him or not, but he sure has a nice blog and he seems like a swell guy, virtually speaking of course. I'm sure he's way nicer than me.

27. FAVORITE DRINK? Hello? I guess that's not obvious enough. Who writes this stuff?


29. EYE COLOR? Brown

30. HAT SIZE? 7 1/2

31. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No contacts no glasses. can read the side of a ceral box from eight feet away.

32. FAVORITE FOOD? Steak. Medium rare.


35. SUMMER OR WINTER? Tough choice, but I'll say summer.

36. HUGS OR KISSES? Kisses from my wife, though she can hug me as much as she wants. Hugs from most other people. Polite handshakes for the rest of you until we know each other better.

37. FAVORITE DESSERT? Tiramisu. Oh yeah!

38. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? I'm not asking for a response, but I'm betting on Gwynne. Just to make it more interesting, I'm not going to link her either. Though it isn't the middle of the night so she's probably not reading blogs right now. Are you Gwynne?

39. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Jeff, since he already did this.

40. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte and a book of short stories by Tobais Wolff called In the Garden of the North American Martyrs.


43. FAVORITE SOUNDS? The sounds Phil Keaggy makes when he picks up a guitar.


45. THE FURTHEST YOU'VE BEEN FROM HOME? Thousands of miles... France.

46. WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? I don't have one.

47. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Trenton, NJ (pronounced Trettin by those who live there).

48. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Well, Jeff didn't send it but he posted it and since I was lamenting the fact that I don't really exist and therefore can't post anything of my own, I stole his. Make sense? Me neither.

Alright, back to unreality.

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ghost blog

Officially, I don't exist.

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

I knew I had no life, I just didn't think it was that serious. Well, I'll be seein ya... or maybe not.

H/T Randy. At least my friends aren't imaginary, just virtual.

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red letter day


And that's not because I missed Talk Like a Pirate Day by more than a month.

Before noon today the desktop computer in our little home "office" crashed and our Passat (my mail delivery vehicle) came home leaking oil; so much oil that it left a trail!

This is not good. I've managed (with significant help from a very nice Dell customer service man from India who, once he slowed down his speech, talked me through the process) to fix the corrupted boot sector. Then I was on my own for getting the ATI Radeon 9800 card inside to get out of its "inifinite loop."

Then the car guy called (a shop that's open on Sunday... I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry about that) and told me there was so much oil slopping around on the engine that he couldn't tell where the leak was coming from... and, by the way, my tires are bad and I have a coolant leak too. The tires aren't as bad as he says and I don't know how I could have a coolant leak without the coolant level getting lower but there you go. Things aren't looking too good here just now.

Hope your Sunday is going better than mine.

Is it still an update if you haven't actually published the post? As I was typing that last sentence above, the car guy called back. They isolated the leaks (notice, it's pluaral) and they vary in severity from 'must get fixed right away' to 'can wait five or six months.' By dinner time tomorrow I'll have my car back and be about 5 or 6 hundred dollars poorer.

At least the computer repair didn't cost me anything.

Genuine Post-publishing update:
The car guy called back again. When you factor in the labor and materials used for finding the leak, I'm looking at close to 7 bills. Ugh. This day just keeps getting better. Now I've got to call the post office early in the am and try to convince them not to call me tomorrow.


dear reader: you're great! and such a wonderful blogger/reader/friend! were you craving that?

Beth did this one so I know that all the cool kids will have one on their blogs soon.

Your Hidden Talent

Your natural talent is interpersonal relations and dealing with people.
You communicate well and are able to bring disparate groups together.
Your calming presence helps everything go more smoothly.
People crave your praise and complements.

I'm a people person.

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my mac story

Denise mentioned my desire for a Mac in a comment on the previous post so I thought I'd share the story of me and the only mac I almost ever had.

The University of Rochester kept a whole roomful of those little Macs, the originals, this was before the Mac II. They lived in a computer room off the Rush Rhees Reserve Reading Room. Every one of my college papers was typed on one of those Macs. This was before the days of mandatory computer ownership in your dorm room. Kids these days have it all.

In grad school, at the estimable Rutgers Graduate School of Management (located in the heart of scenic Newark, NJ), it was the same thing. A roomful of Macs. Now we were using the Mac SE... 8 Mhz of pure processing power! Man, we were cookin'. Me and my Interfunctional Management homies produced our beautifully crafted presentation to a major oil industry player on them.

Then I got a real job, left the cushy world of academia, and everything changed. I forget what computer I had for the heavy duty quantitative calculations I did for the likes of AmEx and AT&T, but it wasn't a mac. Back then, the way of thinking was that macs were good for desktop publishing and making pretty papers (which they were) and IBM clones were good for the number crunching. I'll admit, I was guilty of this too. Yet I still looked lustfully at the gorgeous numbers in the creative department... macintoshes, all of them. For the next four years, there was a steady stream of progressively better versions. Cappping off with the mysterious sounding Quadra.

I asked my boss for a mac. Many, many times, I asked for a mac. My boss grew weary with my ceaseless yammering about how macs could crunch numbers (maybe not as fast as my smokin' Compaq 386 33Mhz behemoth, but still), and besides I was doing more qualitative research all the time. Of course, he knew this perfectly well. He had a mac. Finally the upper echelons relented, or seemed to. I was told I would have a mac. So I waited.

And waited.

Then God himself intervened and spaketh, "Go ye to Ohio and work with young people!" I said, "wha...?" and God said "You heard me." It took six months for me to actually do what God said, and the promised mac had not appeared.

On my last day at that New York City ad agency, Friday March 5, 1993 (exactly one week after the World Trade Center bombing) I stepped foot in my cubicle to find this with a fourteen inch monitor and a big red bow on top. A post-it note stuck to the CPU said, "Well, Jim, you finally got your Mac. Enjoy!" It was not signed.

Ten days later I was working for a church in Ohio. I mentioned my macintosh fantasy to them and they said, "Macintosh?"

These days, I get by the best I can; using windows and working toward a better, brighter day for myself and my children.

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will mac as one
--What John Lennon would have written,
if there had been macs

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(almost, but not quite) impulsive

Okay, so... I did it.

Yeah, I had thought about making the switch to a real notebook, but other considerations ruled the day this time.

We have an aging machine that our girls use and it's just not cutting the mustard anymore: the hard drive is making odd groaning and sawing noises, it won't connect to the internet, it freezes without warning, etc. So (now, shhhh! Don't tell them) They're getting the Inspiron 1200 that I'm using to type this post. I've spent the last 18 months training this lovely piece of equipment (I've never had a problem with it or with the company. In fact, I've had very good experiences with Dell customer service. I realize that I'm probably the only person who can say that, nonetheless it is true).

Anyway, my girls are getting this one and I'm getting the new notebook. I've just spent the last hour or so getting ready for the big migration, which should occur in 3-5 working days.

If I had the dough, I'd just switch us all over to Macs. Whew, that's a lotta mail! Maybe someday.

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completely unrelated things for which i can't come up with a catchy all-encompassing title

This morning while lying awake and hoping the phone wouldn't ring (it did, but it was not the post office), I overheard Matt Lauer talking about a list of 101 Most Influential People Who Never lived. Turns out he was talking about this new book.

Intriguing, though I don't think I'll read it. Maybe I'll skim it to find out the reasoning behind their choice of The Marlboro Man for #1. What's up with that? I can think of lots of more influential non-existent people. Moreover, apparently some of the mythical beings on the list are not actual people, like the Loch Ness Monster (besides, the Loch Ness Monster does exist, as everyone knows).

Since we've dealt with that, let's move on to another thing I'll never use; though I can see why it would be useful. It's called Deliveo, a freely downloadable betaware program for sending and tracking large files without choking your poor recipient's email inbox.

Here's the about page, and here's the Deliveo blog, where you can find an interesting post titled 11 Fun Things to Do With Deliveo. For example:

Your powerpoint [or photoshop] masterpiece is poised for greatness, impress your boss [or YLB] with your ingenuity and Dliveo it to your [blog readers] audience before the big [next random Thursday post] meeting.

It looks to me like you can only use Deliveo to send large files to fellow Deliveo users, but that makes sense, I guess. If anyone wants to partner to try it out, let me know. I have some great Grand Canyon pics I could send you.

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so, what does this mean?

The current issue of "The Carrier" (the magazine of the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association) recently arrived at my house. At the back of every issue is a section listing RHD (right hand drive) vehicles for sale by owners around the country.

I note this fact because you probably didn't know that such a magazine existed, or that there were such listings at the back of it. And up until today, these listings occupied approximately the same mental space for me as they did for you.

But today, I perused those listings. After a couple of minutes, I found myself musing over what kind of process I might go through to purchase such a vehicle from someone in, say, Ohio, or perhaps Connecticut. Not only that, but I even went so far as to check out one local company's explanation of their conversion vehicles, though I shortly dismissed this option after seeing the price.

When I realized that lingering over the "RHD for sale" listings could only mean one thing--that I'm at least semi-consciously thinking I will be in this gig for the long haul--I put down the Carrier and quickly picked up the Dell catalog to consider the Inspiron E1505 on the cover, sort of as a chaser.



See it now at Educat's.

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wireless pottstown

According to our local paper, The Mercury, my town wants muni wifi, or at least they're talking about it. The article is a summary of a meeting of some town authorities. If you want to take the time to read it, more power to ya. Be warned, however, it will make you feel like you're at a typical small town government meeting.

If I were a betting man, I wouldn't bet too much money on this ever happening here. Not after reading the article. I'll keep hoping, though.


you ask. i respond. i'm that kind of guy.

Because some (one) of you wanted to know how King of Prussia got its name, and also because I needed something to post about, here's the scoop (the essay was written by one of the people I interviewed for my next business article).

Now you know. Or, you will once you read it I guess.

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missing the big story of the day

I spent the day working on my next business article down in King of Prussia, PA. As a result I completely missed this story, which made my jaw drop.

The Amish have said they’d like some of the money to go to the family of the killer.

There was one bank account set up specifically for his family. In addition to that, the accountability committee, on behalf of the church leadership, has said that if there are needs beyond that fund, they want to make sure that some of the money that comes in designated for Nickel Mines victims [goes to the killer's family]. Nickel Mines victims include [that] family, in their definition.

Remember those discussions about grace? Well, it just got notched up a bit. Thanks to my pal Will for bringing this one.

Here's one additional highlight of the story,

Many of the hospitals caring for the girls have offered now to waive their bills.

One hospital contacted one of the [Amish] leaders saying that they would not be charging for services rendered. Other hospitals followed suit.

It's a contagion of grace!

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how to ruin perfectly good dark chocolate ice cream

Hey Cold Stone!


You seduced me and I was seduced. I walked into your store tonight with my daughter and saw, at the far end of the cooler, that beautiful chocolate ice cream the color of peat moss. "Finally, Cold Stone has dark chocolate!"

I rejoiced in my spirit. But then. But THEN! I stood in front of the case and read the label: dark chocolate peppermint.



How could you?

Death to peppermint.

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hmmm, what to blog?

Because I delivered the mail both yesterday and today (and being that yesterday was the day after a holiday, which meant that there was a ton--that may actually be an undertatement--of mail to deliver), I haven't been able to think about much. But what little thinking I have done has been on the subject of grace.

The reason for this has to do with the Ralph Paul Incident (latest update here) as well as what seems to be turning into a series of posts at RC's place*.

In addition to these things, Eric is going through some stuff right now but managed to write an update today that is simply fragrant with grace.

And of course, there was the demonstration of grace by Amish mourners last week. That one was stunning; personally I feel blessed simply to be living in the same state as those who live grace so richly.

But the deeper I think about it (not too deep, probably, I mean it is me doing the thinking after all), the more I come back to a suspicion that we don't even know what grace means. Literally. I wonder if we have an adequate definition of the idea. RC quotes the definition of used by one of his commenters,

mercy, clemency or a pardon as well as elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.

All you have to do is read that to realize it's inadequate. Is grace one of those "I know it when I see it," kinds of things. Maybe grace can only be revealed by talking about examples. What I mean is, perhaps grace can be illustrated through story, but not really defined.

And where I see grace, perhaps other people see something else entirely. Interesting. What do you think?

*By all means, do read RC's posts on the subject.

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goo(gle)d news or no?

Kato worried about it, Ars Technica called it hooey, but today we find that Google itself says it's true. Everyone, meet YoogleTube.

Good news or not? What do you think?

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this story just keeps getting betterer and betterer

"I'll be honest. That hurt me. That cut me like nothing else could, my integrity and honor are things that I hold close."

That's Dastardly Diner Ralph Paul speaking about internet posts that call his charcter into question following his dining debacle, his restaurant ridiculousness his gastronomic goofiness. He had no idea, nay, not even the foggiest that his arrogant, egotistical rudeness would lead to "a 'media frenzy' that would engulf the entire nation."

Yep, he's bigger than the Beatles now, or the Foley scandal. He says the public has him all wrong. And you know what? I'd like to believe him. I'm sure he's just a swell guy with a decent code.

If I may, I'd like to suggest a way for this man of honor to reclaim his integrity. The road to the moral high ground runs, after all, through the valley of humility.

So pay the bill, Mr. Paul. That's all.


jesus said: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

...and perhaps he could have added, 'attend their funerals.'

"It was deeply moving," Porter said of the condolences expressed by the Amish to the Roberts family. "It was a display of Christ's love as I've never seen it."

As you attend worship today, whatever the subject of the service and the sermon, perhaps it would be fruitful to consider the meaning of "grace," and "forgiveness."

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restaurant madness

The story of Dastardly Diner Ralph Paul is getting voluminous and vitriolic response.

I think you know where I stand.

One retaurant owner chimed in, with this straddle the fence opinion:

"In my restaurant, the customer is always right," said Frank Chivas, who owns popular local restaurants like the Salt Rock Grill and Island Way Grill. "The bottom line is that if a customer is unhappy with their meal, they don't pay for it. How else can I put it?"

Having said that, Chivas hopes he won't be stampeded by customers trying to wiggle out of their bills. He believes people are reasonable enough to pay when they should.

But that's just the point. Paul was no reasonable customer. He tried to wiggle out of the bill. Is that kind of customer always right? If someone comes into your business and tries to steal from you, are they right? Are they even a customer.

And the matter of the jury who acquitted Paul. Here's another quote from the article, including the response of a legal expert:

Paul's lawyer argued to jurors that Paul, a 54-year-old retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, didn't intend to defraud the restaurant when he went inside, so therefore was innocent.

The jury foreman said that was the primary reason jurors acquitted Paul.

If that's the case, the jury misunderstood the law, said Robert Batey, a professor at the Stetson University College of Law.

He said once Paul decided to leave the restaurant without paying, his intent was to defraud."

I like what Whisky Prajer had to say about this story. In a comment on yesterday's post, he responded to the "code" that Lieutenant Colonel Paul is said to live by:

I have a "code of honor", too: if you eat the food you pay the ****ing bill.


Uru is returning.

Uru was an entry in the Myst franchise that sought to go beyond the original franchise while remaining rooted in the type of worlds originally created by Rand Miller and Cyan. It was suppposed to be an interactive online game, but it fizzled. The software version of the game, actually three volumes of it, which I bought enthusiastically and played with decreasing enthusiasm, was a big let down. It felt like the story went nowhere, and the endgame involved jumping your avatar off a cliff. That's it.

But despite that experience, I'm interested in this reappearance of Uru Live. Throughout the software version of the game, there were places and items and puzzles that would have been much, much more interesting with other people around.

So, maybe...

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i probably woudn't read one

A story from Yahoo News reports on the blog-book craze. Publishers are snatching up blogs in a mad frenzy. Apparently these bloggers are being contacted by publishers, not the other way around.

Hey guys, I'm right here!

Some observers are saying the trend can't last.

"It's like the dot-com boom all over again," added Paul Carr, Friday Project's editor in chief.

"In the same way that publishers knew they needed a Web site even if they didn't know what that was, they're just buying up blogs because they're hot."

I'm inclinded to agree. Maybe I'm not an average reader, but I do read a lot and a blog is not a book. It's a fundamentally different medium and I wonder about the transition. Eric at The Fire Ant Gazette reported on this trend earlier this year. He also wrote of his decidedly lukewarm reaction to a book of hypothetical blog posts. I have my doubts as to whether the real thing would work any better. What's entertaining, informative, and just plain good about blog writing will not necessarily work in a book. Maybe these new authors will invest whatever time it takes to write, but if not, I can see this bubble bursting pretty quickly.

On the other hand, publishers with any sense should be jumping on this project.

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does this mean i can't use that soundbyte of dave bowman telling HAL to open the pod bay doors anymore?

Kato's gone all Onion on us with this satirical news.

Funny... but prescient? Hope not.

(Note: the first part of Kato's article is quite true. But Orca might be next if we don't act now!)

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phoenixville, part deux

For the October article the publisher of the 422 Business Advisor sent me back to Phoenixville to cover a couple of specific topics, one of which was the opening of Iron Hill Brewery. You can find the article here.

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how to be a complete a**

Go to a restaurant, be unhappy with your food, eat it anyway, refuse to pay for it and for your girlfriend's food and the dessert, then leave without paying the bill or tipping.

I don't know who's the bigger fool(s), Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Paul the angry diner, or the jury that SIDED WITH HIM!!!

"It's easy to think, 'Well, it's $46, why go through all the trouble?' But Mr. Paul lives in a different world," Lauro told the jury. "He lives with a code. A code of honor. There are people who are willing to compromise, who are willing to settle. That's not Ralph Paul."

I wish he would stay in his little world and stop bothering those of us who live in the real one.

Big tip to: Obscure Store


putting EVER at the end of post titles is becoming the most irritating use of a word, EVER!

Just had to get that off my chest.

talk as loud as you want at this librarium

So my blog friend Julie and my non-virtual friend/pastor/housemate/fellow blogger Will have cooked up an online reading group. Pretty cool idea.

It's called The Librarium. Yes, I know that sounds like a newly discovered element but it's actually a blog for readers (book readers, not blog readers).

I'm looking forward to seeing where they go with this. Will and Julie are inviting participation, so swing by if you're interested.

Find details on their first book selection, A Canticle For Leibowitz, here.
And spread the word too.

what's the (vegetable) matter with your eye?

Monday evening while reading some blog posts and trying to think up one of my own (there's my first problem right there), my right eye started bugging me. I rubbed it and continued working, or not working, as it were. After semi-consciously rubbing my eye a few more times, I concluded that I might have a case of pinkeye so I went upstairs and looked. The eye wasn't pink. I slept well and woke up with lots of eye cookies (or sleepy seeds as my wife has always called them). Now the eye was pink and it itched constantly.

Later in the day as they eye kept on bothering me I took a closer look. There was something in there! I tried rubbing it but the plainly visible dark spot on my eye didn't budge. I shined a flashlight on it and it spoke my name... no, not really, but I was concerned at having a stationary black spot on my cornea. As the evening wore on the spot also wore on the inside of my eyelid. By the time I went to bed last night I was experiencing what has to be called pain; mild to be sure but very irritating.

I called the doctor this morning and count myself fortunate to have scored an appointment for an hour hence. The doctor said, "you'll need to see an opthalmologist." The office across the street said they could see me right away. They tested my vision in the affected eye and, as has been the case with every eye exam I've ever had, the attendant was amazed that I could read even the smallest letters without any effort at all. I've never had glasses but both my parents wear them now, so I know it's only a matter of time. For now, though, at least the offending spot wasn't hurting my vision.

The Opthalmologist himself took one close look at the spot and said, "It's vegetable matter. It's not metallic."

"Whatever it is, I'd rather it were not in my eye just at this moment." No, I didn't really say that, but I wanted to.

It took him approximately 5 minutes to anesthetize my eyes with some drops and "test the pressure in the other eye just to be sure" (a mysterious statement of equally mysterious meaning). Numb eyes feel very odd, as if they are bone dry. It then took him approximately .87 seconds to remove the offending vegatable matter that was not metallic.

He sent me packing with a prescription for some antibiotics just to insure against infection. It took me another hour and half to get the prescription because I didn't have the right card the first time and then, when I returned to the store after retrieving the correct card from deep, deep, deep within a file drawer in my home office, the very pleasant CVS worker could not get her register to work, then could not get a second register to work.

Everything's alright now, though. I've even figured out how to work the outlets at this Panera in Reading, PA.

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tag my video

Have you ever heard of Veotag? I just did and it's kinda cool.

I was reading this article summarizing a panel discussion about advertising to young people. Host Guy Kawaski (check out his definition of a blogger in the title bar) used Veotag to upload the video. Here it is.

Notice the tag lineup on the right of the video. Click on any one of them and it goes to that point in the video just like chapters on a DVD. This is a case of the medium overwhleming the message. The "insights" in the panel discussion might be news if you've never met a young person before, but the video tagging was muy cool.

I've composed a grand total of zero videos, the lack of a camera being a significant barrier to entry. And I'm sure none of you wants to watch self-shot video of my hand stuffing mail into about 500 boxes. Though, come to think of it, the concept does have a certain minimalist je ne sais quoi.

But enough about me. The Veotag library is available for browsing, and they even have an editor's picks section, though most of the videos highlighted there require activex controls and come with a recommendation to "try viewing this page in Internet Explorer." Are they kidding?

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bugs in the wild wild web

Or not. Apparently the hackers are hoaxers and have now been caught with their pants down. In other words, use that Firefox kiddies! Here's what ars technica now adds to their article (the same one that is linked below)...

Mischa Spiegelmock has now said that the talk "was to be humorous," and that the presentation covered a "previously known Firefox vulnerability that could result in a stack overflow ending up in remote code execution." In other words, they didn't discover a new flaw.

Spiegelmock said that the code they presented to attendees does not not actually work, lowering fears that a true zero-day exploit could be in the wild. To make matters more embarrassing, Spiegelmock also said that no one has successfully executed arbitrary code using the attack.

So... looks like Firefox has a bug problem on its hands.

Says Ars Technica:

"Firefox is loaded with security flaws, according to a hacker duo that presented at this year's ToorCon. Mischa Spiegelmock and Andrew Wbeelsoi used a session at the show to highlight what they have called "a complete mess" that is "impossible to patch" in Firefox's JavaScript implementation."

The article also notes that Firefox has the largest number of vulnerability disclosures in the last six months (the good news is that Firefox also has the shortest turn around time in patching them).

I suppose this was inevitable as Firefox increased in popularity and usage. Looks like we're in for another round in the open source software debate.

The Ars article mentions this post at the Mozilla Developer blog. Here's a link to that blog's main page.

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the new campaign for hemispheric seasonal awareness

This just in from Starbucks Gossip:

Starbucks has recently introduced the Pumpkin Spice range (latte and muffins) to New Zealand, complete with the requisite advertising etc. We're invited to enjoy the "warm comfort" of a Pumpkin Spice latte.

Great, except it's spring, and generally getting warmer by the day in the southern hemisphere.

Which caused me to imagine a Starbucks product group meeting in which guys in suits say things like:

"We predict our Pumpkin Spice line will warm hearts in New Zealand and create proactive synergistic profitability actualities."

"Hold on guys. Do they have pumpkins in New Zealand?"

"The guys from feasability are checking on that. But we ought to move quickly on this since it's already October."

"Do they have halloween in New Zealand?"


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time for more feeding

Google reader has undergone some changes. It's much better now, but still not my choice. Reader now has an easier to read layout and it's not a chore anymore to make it list stuff in different ways.

They've also reworked their OPML import function, and therein lies the problem. It still doesn't work. No, that's not entirely true. It partially works. After numerous tries, I could not get Reader to correctly import the OPML file I made from my bloglines subscription. The original Google reader wouldn't read this at all, or maybe I couldn't figure out how to get it to work. The experience left me so frustrated I've kind of blocked it. Now it reads most of my subscriptions but leaves out whichever ones it chooses. So Google Reader is close (at least closer than it was), but no cigar.

Why not keep using bloglines, then, Jim? Well, of course I'll continue to use bloglines. It's still the best web based reader out there and has itself undergone some improvements just this week. But every so often, bloglines craps out. I need a backup so I can read all your glorious posts!

So you know what I did? I checked out Netvibes import opml utility. Guess what? It worked the first time, no problem. Now, Netvibes is not really a feed reader, it's a personal start page somethingoranother. But Netvibes is constantly updating and increasing their functionality and they respond almost instantaneously, and even personally, to suggestions and/or problems. Think you'll get that from Google? I doubt it.

Netvibes also lets you make tabs, like firefox does, so as I make folders in bloglines for all my feed categories, I can make tabs for those same categories with netvibes. Which I did. It took a few minutes but it was gratifying since I felt like I actually was accomplishing something, whereas my efforts to get Google Reader to work just left me scratching my head.

But wait, there's more! Netvibes just went live with their Cinnamon release. I'm not sure what changes and improvements have been made, exactly. Netvibes was and still is an excellent tool, so at this point whatever improvements they make are just icing.

Netvibes is still, in my opinion, the most worthy of your consideration as a customizable browser start page and feedhouse. And I know y'all were wondering what I thought.

In case you'd rather use a hard drive based reader, you ought to check out Will's recent comparison of a slew of downloadable desktop offerings. He has way too much time on his hands, don't you think?

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