Monday, November 28, 2005

God Bless (and bless, and bless, and bless...) America

Over the holiday weekend my wife and son, my brother and his wife and their two kids, and my mom drove up to visit my grandmother in her nursing home. While there, we were entertained by a resident who played the piano and encouraged us to sing along.

The first two songs were from before my time, so I was relieved when she launched into God Bless America, and I sang along happily. Two songs later, I was wondering why she was playing it again. Then she played it again... and again... and again. Six times in all; four of those times she prefaced it with, "All right, how about we sing God Bless America and that's it." By the end of the visit I was rolling with laughter, but the adverse side effect was that I still have that song stuck in my head.

My only hope is that you, too, will have it stuck in your head after reading this!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Spotlight on Daily Dose

Okay, so it's not Thursday, but considering the fact that tomorrow I'll be stuffing myself with... um... stuffing... I don't think I'll be posting a spotlight.

So brace yourself for an early version! Today I want to highlight Daily Dose of Excel, written by Dick Kusleika. While this is primarily a technical blog that focuses on Microsoft Excel, one of the reasons I keep coming back to it is Dick's great sense of humor and clear writing style.

While I'm admitedly a major geek, especially about Office products, reading this blog makes me feel absolutely dwarfed in my Excel programming knowledge. They deal with issues that I never would have even thought of, much less tried to solve. I've picked up many useful tips along the way, but more importantly, I've grown to 'know' a lot of the authors who post on the blog, most of all Mr. Kusleika himself.

I originally learned of this blog from the J-Walk Blog, but it quickly gained a spot on my toolbar links, and I visit it... well, daily. He hasn't been around much because he's starting a new job, but if you are at all interested in Excel, check it out. Heck, check it out even if you don't care about Excel, because he makes it worth reading anyway.

I should also mention that there are a slew of other authors that can post on the blog, mostly Microsoft MVPs, I think. They bring a global perspective to the arena of application design that didn't exist for me prior to reading their insightful posts and comments.

Overall, I really enjoy reading this blog, and I think you will, too.

Happy Birthday, Bro!

Today is my brother's birthday... he's getting ever so close to thirty. Happy birthday, dude.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Matrix of Truth

I have found this to be true 100% of the time...

Ignore this post

This is just another repository for links that I want to come back to... sorry.

Locii Data

Wealth Lab
Wealth Lab Beginner's Guide
Wired Article
Formula Research

1) 05257227
2) 05240482
3) 05216130



Thursday, November 17, 2005

Spotlight on Average Jane

I've decided to spend a bit of time every week (say, on Thursdays?) focusing on some of the websites that I frequent. Not all of these are blogs, but today's is: Average Jane.

Most of the lists like 10 Mistakes Bloggers Make and the like say that you have to post a picture of yourself (see this post at J-Walk Blog), but Jane gets away without it. There's a likeness of her, of course, but no picture. In fact, despite the fact that there is a TON of personal information about her on the site (most of her posts are humorous commentary on the daily grind), I know almost nothing about her.

Her name's not even Jane. She doesn't mention her hometown or workplace or husband or friends by name. She is in a heavy metal band. I find this approach refreshing; I can read about the daily happenings of a person, and get to see their emotions and get to 'know' them, but I have no idea what their real name is, where they live, or anything else that could potentially identify them.

This is the opposite of today's cultural atmosphere. Most of the time, you're entranced by a character on a popular TV show, and you get to the point where you feel you know them. But the joke's on you, pal, because behind the shimmering magic of your television screen, they are a completely different person, and they have no interest in letting you know that side of them. This is embarrassing, but I used to daydream that if I could just get 10 minutes with Tom Hanks, I could convince him that I'd be fun to hang out with, and then I could be friends with him. While Tom might be a really nice guy, I'm quite sure the scenario would play out differently. He might, for instance, demand to know why I have him locked in a small room, even if it's just for 10 minutes.

But I digress. I simply want to salute you, Jane, for allowing the world to share your experiences while maintaining your most private aspects (like your identity!). Also, I get a kick out of your humorous writing style.

What the World Needs Now... a fresh new idea. I need to come up with one, anyway. So I guess that's what my world needs. I won't speak for the world at large. We've got leaders to do that sort of thing.

I'm thinking about tackling a project that is, as yet, still vague and foggy in my mind. It's a website dedicated to furthering the art of writing (I thought of this before I heard of NaNoWriMo, but it has fueled my interest in pursuing it). I have the broad strokes laid out, but I'm still not sure how I'll go about doing it, since I don't know how to do much web programming yet. Still, I think I'm going to do it.

I'm not going to provide the details yet, since I know all you techies who read this will probably want to steal my Brilliant Idea. Thieves, y'all are, THIEVES!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Night Mic

I'm so excited to be hanging out at home for once on a Friday night! I can finally participate in J-Walk's Friday night special. Drop by - it's usually interesting.


For the first time ever, I discovered a new band thanks to a car commercial. I think it was for Pontiac. Anyway, the point is, my father-in-law was asking me if I knew who was singing the song, and I'd never heard it, so I memorized a line and Googled it. Turns out it was a song called Struggle by a band called Ringside. I have listened to it at least a dozen times since downloading buying it, and I highly recommend that you get a copy (legally).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Where have you been?

No, I haven't been writing a novel... I've been studying VB.NET. I'm trying to hone my programming skills, *hem hem*. *Hem hem hem*. For no particular reason. *hem hem* (wink) [nudge]

Thursday, November 03, 2005

0 Words

Last night it took me 2.5 hours to get home, so I wasn't in the mood to write. I was determined to meet my daily quota anyway, but then I fell asleep at about 7:30 while putting my son to sleep. That is undoubtedly one of the best perks of fatherhood - I'm quite sure I've taken more naps since he was born 7 months ago than I had in the previous 7 years combined.

Is it still called a nap if you take it at 7:30 pm and then continue it into your actual sleep? I didn't get up until 5:00 this morning (and was still late to work, somehow).

Hmm. That makes my daily quota today about 3,336 words. No sweat, right?

What Can Brown Do For You?

I'd love to see this commercial on the air:

A shipping company blathers on and on about how they make it very convenient for small businesses to ship. The featured business owners would resemble characters from Deliverance. At the end of the commercial, they'd boast about how, "they could lay off a couple 'a 'em younguns, since it's so much easier to ship these days."

They never talk about how companies can save money by laying off workers that their shipping websites make obsolete. Let's see that on television. It would be awkward, but it least it would seem real.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Commercials With Fake Happiness

What's the deal with commercials that feature people being incredibly happy about doing things that no normal person gets that excited about? No thirtysomething male is going to be laughing while he shops for lamps at a hardware store.

No one laughs at the idea of eating fast food. It's not an event in and of itself - people stop there because it's convenient while they partake in real plans.

Of course, they wouldn't sell quite so many Big Macs if they showed footage from inside a real restaurant, would they? Hmm... I'm lovin' it.

Writing Links

Please feel free to ignore this post - I'm using it as a temporary placeholder (repository) for some writing-related links that I'd like to be able to find later.

Hard Case Crime Publishers

Blogging for Money

The many face of Paris Hilton

This is actually pretty interesting, and somewhat sad. Paris Hilton doesn't change facial expressions.

via J-Walk Blog


1975 down, 48025 to go. I'm ahead of the game, folks, and I'm going to do my best to keep it that way. This Saturday, my personal goal is to write 5,000 words. That doesn't mean, of course, that I'm not going to keep up with my daily goals in the meantime. I just want to work ahead, because I have a feeling the Thanksgiving holiday is going to wreak havoc with my writing schedule.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Taking a Break

Phew. I'm taking a break from my writing process. It's day one of NaNoWriMo, as I noted earlier, and my daily goal is 1,667 words. Right now I'm at 1,171 and I feel like I've been writing for a year. That's 2.342% of my entire goal. Wow, that sounds really puny. Maybe I should look at it in terms of my daily goal instead - that puts me at 70.246%, which sounds a LOT better.

Take Two

My wife inadvertently replaced my first chapter with a polite but decidedly negative comment about the content of my writing =) I am rectifying that situation with a reposting of the original text.

Chapter the First
The night was dark, and stormy. Wind swirled into the antechamber through the open window, bringing with it noises from the courtyard below. Hounds bayed, horses reared and whinnied, and their handlers shouted to one another as they struggled to calm them. In the distance, the howls of a wolf pack, and fainter still, the guttural scream of the unicorn they sought. The sound brought gooseflesh to Ryck's neck.

He tried to ignore it as he gazed at the three women before him, one blonde, one brunette, the third a redhead. They stood in a semicircle before him, their blazing eyes locked onto his, their lips parted expectantly. He cleared his throat, and began to speak. "I'm not sure what to say," he began slowly. "It's not every day you're approached in such a manner by three lesbian vampires." The three lesbian vampires threw back their heads in unison and spewed forth peals of laughter, which sounded (to Ryck's amateur but nonetheless well-trained ears) for all the world like a scale played on an out-of-tune xylophone by a blind Calcuttan seamstress with no thumbs.

Ryck wasn't sure what to make of their laughter, but it seemed to have no warmth, like a hearth that once had a fire in it, but the fire has burned down to nothing, leaving not even glowing coals; nothing but cold, damp ash remained of what had once been a roaring, life-giving presence - such was the state of the lesbian vampires' laughter. He shuddered to think that if he played this wrong, he, too, would have a laugh like cold, gray, unremarkable ashes.


I've noticed a trend among certain software that allows free use of their product, but also offers a so-called 'pro' version. Each time you open the program, you're greeted with a splash screen that reminds the user to the fact that they are using the free version, and alerts them that they can buy the full version. There are usually three buttons: a buy now button, a hell no! use the free version! button, and an enter registration code button.

The trickery comes in when they play with the location of the buttons every time you open the program. It used to be that every time you opened a program, you could, for example, click the left button and get right to the free version, and you didn't have to read the form. Somewhere along the line, a clever (or bored) programmer realized that they could get a certain percentage of the population to accidentally open their website by getting the left button to sometimes be the free version option, but sometimes it's the buy now option.

I've noticed it with WinZip and Limewire. I'd expect that from Limewire, but I was surprised that WinZip does it. Does anyone have any other examples they'd like to share?

A Joke

Q: How do you catch an elephant?

A: Dig a very large hole, and fill it with ashes. Line the edges of the hole with peas. When the elephant comes to take a pea, you kick him in the ash-hole.