Posts 501 to 525:

Warm Weather Transportation Modes

Driving: 15 minutes to the parking garage, then a 15 minute walk to whatever building my class/work is in.  Cost: $0.75/hour.  Good music, but have to deal with other drivers, and I remain convinced that >90% of the drivers on the roads today have never passed any sort of driving test.

Biking: 15 minutes, directly from my house to the building my class/work is in.  Cost: free.  No music.  Good exercise though, and it’s fun.  (OK, driving is fun too.)

When it’s warm enough for it, biking is definitely the way to go.  (I’m not into biking in the freezing cold winter, like some people are.)  But it’s sort of ridiculous that it’s actually faster to bike to campus -- twice as fast -- than to drive there.  That’s what happens when your school replaces parking lots with buildings a few times per year.  It won’t be long till the only way to get into your building is by parachute.

Posted by Anthony on 1 reply

Operation Kitty Poo Poo

So I’m toilet training my cat.  Hey, if I can use the potty like a big boy, so can CJ.  Enough with this "me cleaning up his dumpings" business.

Conceptually it’s simple.  Over some period of time: move the litterbox into the bathroom, raise it up to the level of the toilet seat, eventually put it ON the toilet seat.  Then get a big metal bowl that fits inside the toilet bowl, with a lip that rests on the rim of the bowl, and that you can put the (first) seat down on top of.  Fill this with cat litter, convince the cat to use it, and convince him to keep his paws on the seat, not on the litter.  Eventually get down to all bowl and no litter, at which point you fill the bowl with water.  Once the cat is going in the water, remove the bowl completely.

CJ had no problem with me moving the litter box into the bathroom or raising it up.  But he’s a fairly big cat, requiring a fairly huge litterbox, which won’t fit on top of the toilet at all.  So I skipped the "litterbox on top of the toilet" step and went right to the metal bowl step.  He absolutely won’t let me put him on the toilet, though.  I think he finds the slick seat too slippery.  But I’ve convinced him to at least put his front paws up on it, by holding cat treats above the toilet.

Well, two times now when I wasn’t here, CJ used the bowl for some number one action, but he pooped on the bathroom floor.  (Actually, he brushes some of the litter onto the floor, and goes on that.)  I guess I need to be around when he’s going to go, so that I can properly position his paws on the seat.

Posted by Anthony on 7 replies

Site Stuff

At Kev’s suggestion, I’ve added random photos to the spring theme, which you can enable on the prefs page.  (I replied to your email, Kev, but it bounced back saying that your mailbox is full.)

The spring theme is meant to be a background-image-based theme, so I didn’t want to add tons of random photos to it, since they would obscure the image.  I settled on three.  And because of the size of the header, my portrait-oriented thumbnail photos didn’t fit, so I had to display them half-size.

I do love having random photos there, it’s just that it’s sort of a pain to have them, because you pretty much need to design the whole theme around them.  But at half-size they’re ok here, and with a preference each person can decide for themselves.

Posted by Anthony on 2 replies


Today I saw what was probably the scariest billboard I’ve ever seen.  It had a white background, with a top-view of a translucent brain in the middle, and over top of it in big black letters, it said: With Stroke, Time Lost is Brain Lost.

Posted by Anthony on 4 replies

The War

The Muslim extremists have figured out that this war is not about oil nor (primarily) weapons of mass destruction, but rather it’s about the broad reform of large parts of the Arab/Muslim world.  Now if only the democrats could figure that out...

Posted by Anthony on reply

Out Of Control Advertising

Well, I finally got a shower mirror.  And it’s great.  The only one Walmart had was the water-runs-through-it kind, which was fine with me.  I can even shave most of my face without shaving cream now, which is pretty awesome.

And in case you were worried about the efficacy of this solution, rest assured:

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Can you really trademark a phrase like that?  And... would you really want to??

Ever get the feeling that some advertising has just gone way too far?

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I’ve already bought (and am attempting to use) your freakin’ toilet paper; I don’t need a commercial STUCK DIRECTLY ON the roll itself.

In other funny randomness, I came across this hilarious photo (note the fine print):

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(show full-size image viewer)

Posted by Anthony on 4 replies

Apple Humor

"Changing the opinion of a Mac fan is impossible, and not really necessary.  Just leave them alone and let them believe what they want.  Worldwide there are probably more people who play the banjo than use Apple computers.  It’s really not a big enough group of people to warrant an argument, much less the constant flame wars we seem to have around here."
- a comment on an article about Apple’s false advertising

Posted by Anthony on 8 replies

Thanks, Adelphia

My cable internet and cable TV were offline from 2pm Monday until 9am today -- 19 hours.  They were also offline for a half hour on Friday, and according to my logs, the net connection frequently goes out for a couple hours in the wee periods of the morning.  And let’s not forget the 6 hours it was offline 3 weeks ago -- 3 weeks to the hour, no less.

This reminds me of when we got our first computer in 1995.  It was really cool at first, especially since we’d been begging our parents for one for years.  (We were also in our early-to-mid teens, so what seemed like years of begging might have actually only been a few days.)

But the coolness faded fast, because we didn’t "have the internet" as they say.  We didn’t get online till sometime in 1997; I know because our first username/email account was eggman97.  And without the internet, a computer is cold and impersonal.  It’s a completely isolated system.  When you sit down and use it, it’s the same as it was yesterday, and the day before.  It’s entirely static, boring -- no, worse than that, it’s depressing.  If it doesn’t let you talk to your friends, email people, read up-to-the-second news, and compulsively read the boring details of people’s lives in their online journals aka "blogs," then what good is it?  No good, that’s what.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Seville a band you should love.  Take a listen.

Also, I had a dream that I attached a piece of paper to my monitor by putting a thumbtack into the LCD screen.  It didn’t even occur to me (in the dream) that it was a bad idea.

Posted by Anthony on reply


Sometimes I feel like I need to make new friends.  I’m such a loner here, and I don’t really "go out" much.

OK, there are lots of reasons for that which are unrelated to friends; c.f. having lots of work to do, wanting to work on personal projects (musicbox, programming, etc) when I’m not doing schoolwork, and the fact that most of the activities I really like (drumming, biking, caving, driving aimlessly) aren’t really group activities.

But the thing is, I don’t really want to make new friends.  I’m not totally against it, but it’s not a priority for me, as it seems to be for many people.  Maybe what I mean is, I don’t want to make friends for the sake of making friends, if that makes any sense.  When people have common interests or go to the same places frequently, friendships might tend to form.  But it seems like many/most people are driven to constantly socialize and try to make friends as much as possible.  I’m not.

In high school, my small group of friends was pretty "tight" as they say.  I don’t think we were outcasts in any real sense, and it’s not like we didn’t interact with other kids, but it always felt like (for me at least) it was us against the world.  I never really thought much about that before now, but I think I still hold to that mentality.  I interact with people here when I need to, but these people aren’t my friends; I already have friends, they’re just not here.

Of course, I’ve made some new friends since high school, but very few -- maybe 1 or 2 or 3 -- that I would consider close friends in any sense comparable to my high school friends.

I’m not a "group person."  I pretty much like to hang out with people one on one, unless it’s my close friends because that’s different as I said.  In social situations where you have maybe a friend or two, or just some acquaintances, in the group, there’s this pressure to "mingle" or "make friends" or at least just shoot the breeze with the other people.  And I hate that.

So the only time any of this really comes up is times like tonight.  My friend Jeremy was playing an acoustic set on campus (and Rob played a few songs with him).  There were probably 8 people there who I knew, but most of them were faint acquaintances if that, and none besides Jeremy were close friends.  I got there a couple minutes late, but the show was about 25 minutes late, so there was basically a half hour to wait.  I sat at a table with the people I knew, and everyone was doing the whole social interaction thing.  I have no problem doing that, but I also have no desire to do that.  (See previous paragraph.)  I guess people in general enjoy social interaction, but I just find it to be awkward.

(As an aside, that all makes it fiendishly hard to meet girls.  I guess I need to qualify the above paragraphs by saying that I do want to interact with girls.  ...  Then again, no, I don’t.  I want to interact with one girl in a long-term kind of way; I want to make girl friends only as much as I want to make guy friends.)

Anyway, it was a fun night, because I love music and I love to hear Jeremy play.  But it was awkward too.

Posted by Anthony on 17 replies

Musicbox got Smarter

My musicbox now detects when the key is removed from the ignition, and when that happens, it fades the music out and shuts itself down automatically, saving the current playlist and the current song’s elapsed time.  With this feature, my system is now just like a normal car stereo in terms of on/off: it turns on and off automatically with the car, so the only time you have to touch it is to select the music.  (Previously, I had to press a key to make it shut down, before turning the car off.)

This was actually really simple to accomplish.  When a car is shut off, its accessory signal goes low (goes to zero volts).  So I just send the car’s accessory signal from the ignition into pin 6 on the computer’s serial port (the DSR pin).  It just takes a few lines of C code to detect the state of that pin:

int i = TIOCM_DTR;
ioctl(fd, TIOCMSET, &i);
int dsr_state=0, dsr_prev_state=0;

ioctl(fd, TIOCMGET, &i);
dsr_state = i & TIOCM_DSR;

if((dsr_state==0) && (dsr_prev_state==256))
printf("The DSR pin went from high (256) to low (0).\n");

dsr_prev_state = dsr_state;

My musicbox script forks that C program at startup, and when it exits, the script shuts the computer down nicely.  I have an RC timer circuit that keeps the computer powered for about 11 seconds after the car is shut off, and the computer’s shutdown process takes about 5 seconds.

Here’s the diagram:

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You can read more about it here.

Posted by Anthony on 4 replies


Gosh, I just love webpages that have bugs crawling across them.

Posted by Anthony on reply


Can watching where you fall in ’the count’ become an additive thing?  Don’t know but signing in this a.m. and being #54545 just made my day, so far.  It can only get better from here ^_^ !


Posted by mommie on 2 replies

Good One

My mom sent me this article about how the European Union has fined Microsoft $613 million.  It’s nothing new for MS, but one thing caught my eye:

EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said the ruling was "proportionate," noting that "dominant companies have a special responsibility to ensure that the way they do business doesn’t prevent competition." ... Monti said could have imposed worldwide restrictions on Microsoft but limited the order to Europe in deference to regulators in the United States and other countries.

Monti is delusional, too.  "Deference" to US regulators?  That’s a euphemism if ever there was one.  It would be very interesting to see the "EU Competition Commissioner" claim anything like worldwide jurisdiction in attempt to take such an action against MS.  The European Union is almost as much of a myth as "international law," but even if it were some sort of legitimate entity, it would have no power to dictate terms of the relationship between MS and the USA or any other non-EU country.  To say that his statement is a "pretentious load of crap" would be doing him a favor.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Strange Bathrooms

The building I work in is a 6-story biology building (one of the taller buildings on campus), and there are about 20 rooms per floor.  It has separate men’s and women’s bathrooms, like most buildings.  But there’s only one bathroom per floor: the odd floors have women’s bathrooms, and the even floors have men’s bathrooms.  The sinks are the kind with separate knobs for hot and cold, which isn’t odd... but on some floors they both turn the same way for "on," and on others, they turn in opposite directions for "on."  However, the sinks and knobs all look identical.

Posted by Anthony on 2 replies

Like the Changes

I must say that the new "Recent Posts / Replies:" section at the top, right corner is brilliant!  An efficient way to see what is going on and get there.

Posted by patrick copland on 2 replies

visitor #

54500 is a cool number, too.

Posted by mommie on reply

The End

"...if you walk to the end of the block, there sits a Starbucks.  And directly across the street -- in the exact same building as that Starbucks -- there is... another Starbucks.  There is a Starbucks across the street from a Starbucks!  And ladies and gentlemen, THAT is the end of the universe."
- Lewis Black

(Or if you’re my sister, it’s the beginning of heaven...)

"When Hillary Clinton is nominated for a Grammy for reading her book, civilization is over."
- Bill O’Reilly

Posted by Anthony on 1 reply


Alright, Mr. 147.46.244.*.  Over the past 10 days, you’ve hit my site an average of 9.4 times per day, from six different user-agents -- four linux and two freebsd.  The majority of these >90 visits were zero-duration hits to my /stats/ page.  I can only guess that this is an attempt to increase the percentage of linux and freebsd OSes, and mozilla and opera browsers, in my statistics.

It’s trivial for me to remove these hits from my log and cause my logger to ignore you in the future.  But I’d rather not do that if I can instead convince you to stop trying to game the system here.

Posted by Anthony on 4 replies

Michael Chiklis

Is it just me, or does Michael Chiklis look way younger now, on The Shield, than he did 10 years ago on The Commish?

(I just saw The Shield for the first time last night, and it’s stinking awesome.  I’m going to have to watch it every week now.)

Posted by Anthony on 8 replies

Are You Kidding Me?

I had seen this on people’s profiles, etc, and I thought it was some kind of joke.  But apparently John Kerry really did say this:

I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.


Posted by Anthony on 2 replies

DARPA Grand Challenge

This is pathetic.

It was a contest to see which team could build an autonomous vehicle that would travel 250 miles across the CA/NV desert in the shortest time.  Over a hundred teams entered.  Most didn’t even make it past the initial qualification round.  Then fourteen were selected to actually attempt the race.

Not a single robot finished the race.  In fact, none got farther than a few miles past the starting line.  From the videos and photos, it looks like the teams spent thousands of dollars making their vehicles look like tanks, and then built the navigation and control systems out of Cracker Jack prizes.  One team spent three million dollars making their Hummer-based robot.

Every single one failed miserably.  Half of them didn’t even make it out of the gate, crashing into walls or going in circles immediately upon starting.

This is pathetic in two ways.  First of all, each team was given a CD containing GPS coordinates of the route.  All the vehicle had to do was follow the coordinates and not crash.  The one that went the farthest, the 3 million dollar Hummer, only made it 7.4 miles.  Now, I’ve never built anything like an automaton, so I am obviously not speaking from experience, but it seems to me that thousands or MILLIONS of dollars should be enough to make this happen.  Apparently not.

But what really bugs me about this -- what’s really pathetic -- is the fact that half of them crapped out instantly, and most within a mile or so.  This is pathetic because it means that all these people on all these teams spent all this money building these machines, and apparently did no testing whatsoever.  How can you spend thousands of dollars on a project and not TEST it once before the day of the race?  Because that seems to be the only logical explanation for why half of the robots -- make that half of the ones who made it to the second round of qualifications -- couldn’t even start the race, let alone compete in it.

Posted by Anthony on 1 reply


The beat track from Jay-Z’s song "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" is the best one I’ve heard in a long time.  It’s really a shame that all his lyrics are trash.  He released an a capella version of The Black Album; he should have released an instrumental version instead.  (Of course, J himself had little if anything to do with creating this beat; it was produced by Timbaland.)  The last time I liked a beat this much was probably either Rakim’s Guess Who’s Back or KRS-ONE’s God is Spirit.  (Or maybe The Cross Movement’s The Light.  Hmm...)

I can definitely see Dirt Off Your Shoulder becoming something of a classic, like Eric B. and Rakim’s Lyrics of Fury and Paid in Full, because it’s just so catchy.  (Paid in Full has one of the most sampled beats of all time, and it’s almost 20 years old now.)

Here are short clips of the beats, so you can sample their awesomeness:

1986: Eric B. And Rakim - Paid In Full
1988: Eric B. And Rakim - Lyrics Of Fury
1997: Rakim - Guess Who’s Back
2000: The Cross Movement - The Light (The Blazin’ One)
2002: KRS-ONE - God Is Spirit Feat. BB Jay
2003: Jay-Z - Dirt Off Your Shoulder

Update: and of course, Rock the Bells / Peter Piper.  This has probably been sampled at least as much as Paid in Full’s beat.
1986: Run DMC - Peter Piper

Posted by Anthony on 4 replies

Kangaroo Pummels Woman in Kick Frenzy

This probably isn’t funny, but I am laughing uncontrollably at the this news article, and at the very thought of the whole thing.

"He had so much hate in his eyes."


That’s what 48-year-old Sylvia Aldren said after being pummeled and flayed by a kangaroo in the Australian state of Queensland.  "I can still see his big, beady eyes, like you see in a Martian video," she told the Brisbane Courier-Mail. Aldren, from the town of Burpengary, suffered a large puncture wound on her neck as well as claw marks all over her body from today’s frenzied attack.


"My nightie was covered in blood and there are paw marks on the back of it," she told the paper. "I thought I was going to die."

Paw marks on your clothes?  Somehow that seems like an inconsequential detail coming from someone who thought she was going to die.

She says was picking flowers in her garden before hearing a noise and suddenly feeling claws tearing into the back of her neck.

That sentence is just... how do you go from... I don’t even know where to begin.  It’s just not every day a sentence starts with "picking flowers in the garden" and ends with "claws tearing into the back of her neck."

"It kicked the bucket out of my hand and I grabbed [his paw] to stop him, but he got on his tail and started kicking me - he was taller than me on his hind legs.  I tried to get up four or five times but he kept kicking me over.  He also bit my hand."

He got on his tail and kept kicking her over!  Now, I feel bad for this woman, but man, an animal just kicking a person over... that must be a sight to see.  The best part is, "...he kept kicking me over... and he also bit my hand."

Family and friends reportedly watched in horror as the kangaroo repeatedly pelted Aldren in the back as she tried to escape.

I’m not sure if I really believe it was "horror" they were watching with.  And if it really was horror, then why did they wait for the neighbors to save her, instead of doing it themselves?

The animal finally jumped away when neighbors got close.

I’m sure it wouldn’t be half as funny if the woman died or something, but she was barely injured.  I guess it’s just so hilarious to me because kangaroos are like cartoons to me.  I’m not even sure I really believe they exist, come to think of it.  We don’t have them around here.  And they just sound so... unstoppable.  A kickboxing animal that moves around by bouncing, and can get up on its tail to kick with full force... it’s practically mythical.  And if you look at the photo on the news page, it looks like a small dinosaur.

Posted by Anthony on 1 reply

Liberal Bias

According to al-Reuters, if you make a political ad and you’re a conservative, then it’s called an "attack:"

Cheney Launches Wide-Ranging Attack on Kerry

...but if you do the same thing and you’re a liberal, then Reuters calls it "criticism:"

Kerry Criticizes Bush’s ’Stubborn’ Iraq Policy

And not only does Reuters cast Kerry’s attacks in a good light by calling them "criticism," it manages to insult conservatives right in the headline!  It’s the same thing day after day on the newswire.  But no, "there’s no liberal bias in the media."

Posted by Anthony on 1 reply

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