Monday, January 23, 2006


The folks at W3Schools have a good sense of humor, in addition to a lot of programming knowledge.

Web Tutorials

The W3Schools Online Web Tutorials seem pretty extensive, and from what I've seen of them so far, they seem to be free. I'm going to be checking them out in an effort to brush up on HTML, XML and ASP.NET programming skills for my new position.

I've decided that there is probably plenty of resource information available for free online, so I'm going to try and save money by not going out and buying books (at least until I have a better understanding so I'm not wasting money on the generic, get-started-today books).

Is there junk in your trunk?

If so, log it here! Junklog is a place to track and rate things (they have to be on's product list, though). View my junklog (it's pretty small for now, but I hope to add to it).

(via J-Walk Blog)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Jack Bauer Facts

Here are the top thirty facts about Jack Bauer, the star of Fox's hit show 24. These are modicums of truth about the life of a man that you don't want to mess with, unless you have a death wish. So Charles Bronson could have messed with him, I suppose.

From the site, my favorite fact is:
Jack Bauer's favorite color is severe terror alert red. His second favorite color is violet, but just because it sounds like violent.
Here are a couple of facts discovered by friends of mine:

Jack Bauer did not walk 12 miles to school in the snow uphill both ways. He made the terrorists carry him. Then he shot the terrorists.

When the doctor slapped Jack Bauer when he was born, Jack Bauer shot the doctor.

And my contribution:

Jack Bauer used to have two children, but he shot his five-year-old son, Tommy, after his wife called him at work to complain that he was terrorizing his little sister.

(Thanks Andrew!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Yeti Sports

If you haven't played Yeti Sports yet, then perhaps you haven't lived. Well, the odds that you haven't lived aren't very good if you're reading this site, but you may not feel like you've lived. Can anyone think of a better pastime than swatting penguins across the icy terrain?

Baby Name Wizard

This name wizard is a lot of fun to play with. You can see how popular a name has been in each decade over the last century or so. Check it out!

To My Elders

I received this message in a forwarded email from my dad, and after a bit of editing to make it more palatable, I figured I'd post it here. It's a bit hokey, but as a new father I thought it was worth sharing...

To all the kids who survived the 1930's 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's...

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets - not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.

As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank Kool-aid made with sugar, but we weren't overweight because...


We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day, and we were OK.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendos, Xboxes - no video games at all. Many of us didn't have televisions, much less DVDs, and 150 channels on cable with surround-sound. We had no CDs, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chat rooms..........

WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no
lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of - they actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

If YOU are one of them . . . CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as
kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives (for our own good).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

What: happen grammar?

I don't want to be a stone-thrower, especially when I usually rattle off a blog post in the shortest time possible and avoid spell checking it, but I feel like I need to say something about the quality of the articles that the Associated Press churns out.

At least once a day, I have to read a sentence more than once, until I realize that it's not my fault for being unable to interpret it; usually there is a word (or words) missing. I think it happens even more frequently with important or breaking stories, and is illustrative of the media's tendency to fall all over itself to be the first to bring the news to our eyes.

Here's an example from today's tragic story of the Hajj stampede:
AP said the bridge, as wide as an eight-lane highway, over the desert plain of Mina.
In this case, it could just be the word 'is' that is missing, but I always wonder what the author/editor was trying to really say. What exactly did they leave out? Why doesn't anyone read the content that they spew forth?

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

I just finished listening to the unabridged version of Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.

My rating:

In addition to being extremely funny, it left me with murderous thoughts of certain crazy people who wrote books that Al covered. Of course, in an effort to be balanced myself, I'll hold off on killing anyone until I get a chance to read the books for myself, and research their 'footnotes.' (That last bit is a private joke for anyone who's read or listened to this so far - if you don't get it, and you don't like that you don't get it, don't blame me. Read the book.)

For over ten hours this week, I was delighted to sit in traffic, because I was enjoying myself. I've already decided that I'm going to own copies of any audiobook that Al Franken has come out with. I may not agree with all of his commentary, but unlike Bill O'Reilly, he gives you the feeling that he not only believes and understands what he's saying, but that he spent at least a modicum of time checking his facts.

I have to point out that it seems unfair sometimes, because he takes examples from live television and picks them apart. In such situations, he has the benefit of unlimited time and 14 Harvard research aides to build a case, which makes whoever committed the 'lie' look incredibly dishonest. I'm sure in some cases, even Al took content out of context in order to make his point, but by and large it seemed like he made a pretty good showing of using the target's own words and sources (or lack thereof) to hang themselves. Now, when he does the same thing to some of the books that his targets have written, I have no sympathy for them whatsoever, because they had the same advantages he did in that regard, and it's just plain fun to watch him out for blood.

Overall, I found his discourse on politics amusing, but respectable, and didn't feel like he was bashing the right on the basis of ideology (like the examples he gave of right-wing media icons doing exactly that to liberals), but more so on their technique, which ranges from low to downright dirty. I highly recommend this book to all readers, because even if you fall on the opposite end of the political spectrum from Franken, it would behoove you to note the examples he cites of your party's backers making asses of themselves, and then ignoring (or worse, denying) it.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Better Bush?

Here you can Build a Better Bush. Now, I don't know if this is necessarily better, but does it remind you of anyone? Anyone at all?

(Via Danny Kaye)

Click image for full-size view.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hi, I'm Kevin, and I'm a Sudoku Addict

If you haven't tried Sudoku yet, I think you should.

CAUTION: May result in being fired if used at work.

Update: Fiendish Sudoku is even more addictive! (Thanks, KristinW)

Writer's Corner - #1

What follows is a bit of fiction, written simply for the sake of writing it.

The notebook lay on the gouged tabletop, the smiley face that had been rubbed into the cover by an eraser leering at me. I opened the journal to a random place, and read:
On my way home from work today, I witnessed a grown man - at least thirty years old - picking his nose and eating it. He was cruising along in the middle lane, with his right hand at the twelve o'clock position and his left hand moving mechanically between his nose and his lips. Stab, stab, piiick; pop it in. Repeat. I don't think he even realized what he was doing.

As I passed him, he made eye contact with me, and I was too disgusted to try hiding my look of horror. I expected to see embarrassment in his features, but I saw only confusion. His finger never stopped working, even after I passed out of view.

This passage stirred the faintest of memories. The more I thought about it, the more confused I became. I know what I read (and what I supposedly wrote), but for the life of me the memory was of me being caught picking my nose by a stranger in a car. They say when you're crazy, you don't know it. I couldn't tell if I was crazy when I wrote in the journal, or if I was crazy now, while I was reading it.

Update: I decided to take out the writing that seemed forced and childish.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hot Air

When I first thought of buying a digital voice recorder (see yesterday's link regarding the Olympus DS-2300), I envisioned using it to capture the scenes that pop into my head while driving. I tend to have whole conversations between two (or more) fictional characters, but I always forget what the thread was by the time I get home. I thought having a recorder would be a useful way to capture those scenes in the moment.

It turns out that having a recorder made me absolutely unable to picture a scene. I spent the entire trip talking, of course, but it was mostly talk for the sake of talking. I think eventually I'll get the hang of it, and won't feel so much pressure to spout prose, but I was shocked yesterday at how un-imaginative I felt. Hopefully it doesn't last, because I'm getting excited about this book. More than any other literary venture I've started, I feel a connection to this one, and a desire to not only write the book, but to get inside it. It's scary!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Mobile Author

Yeehaw! I just received my Olympus DS-2300 in the mail, along with my Sony AAA Ni-MH batteries and Sony Ultra 15 Ni-MH battery charger. I have already opened the batteries and the charger, and charged my AAA batteries in less than 30 minutes, so my recorder is all set for my ride home.

Let's hope you see future posts from me, and you know that I didn't crash and burn whilst playing with the gadget ;-)

If I survive the trip (and subsequent trips) then I'll post a review of all of these devices, once I've put a bit of mileage into them and can adequately gauge their usefulness.

8th Grade English

My background in writing came - literally - from a Writer's Corner. When I was in 8th grade, my English teacher called a number of us to her desk after class one day. While this sort of impromptu meeting usually instilled a fear of trouble in my veins, this one felt okay due to the character of the other 4 or 5 students she called over.

She told us that she thought we were doing a great job on the coursework and on tests, but that we all acted bored in class (true). She made us an offer that I will remember for the rest of my life, due to the general uniqueness relative to every other class I ever sat through. She told us that if we maintained a 90% average on our tests, we would be allowed to sit at a round table in the corner of the room and dedicate the 45 minutes of class time to a creative writing concept of our choosing. We could write short stories, novels, poetry, and the list went on and on.

I was in a phase that included heavy reading of Alistair MacLean, so I set out to draft a spy novel just like his. The trouble was, within 50 pages, I had already killed a number of characters and established little to no plot. I think I amused my teacher, and I certainly enjoyed the opportunity she afforded us that day. I hope she realizes that she affected me in a way I will always remember, and appreciate. Too bad I don't have more memories like that of my school days!

Writer's Corner Defined

I'm starting a new idea here. Whenever the inspiration strikes, I'll post a scene that pops into my head, although it may not make any sense to the reader. It might be like picking up a novel at random, and reading a sentence, paragraph, or page.

The title will be Writer's Corner - #n (where n is the current 'issue'). The idea is to give myself an outlet for some of these random ideas I have, so I can get them down and out of my head before I forget what the hell I was thinking about. Then someday, maybe I'll revisit them and incorporate them into a full-fledged story.

What I need to do is get some better blogging software (JWalk recommends pMachine, which seems good) that will let me set up categories and the like. The problem is, Blogger is free, while pMachine and anything else worth it's weight is going to cost something. Then I'd have to pay a monthly fee to host the site, and right now that kind of expense is categorized as a luxury.

If I can find a steady source of secondary income, though, I'd be able to do something like that. I need some good (read: legit) ideas or leads about some home-based work, if anyone has anything to offer. I guess this evolved into something not entirely about the Writer's Corner - sorry!

Movin' Time

Well, now that it's officially 2006, I'm thinking about moving. Of course, I don't want to think about moving, but I'm getting mighty sick of the 130+ daily miles I've been putting on my car since May of 2004.

I just got a bit of a promotion at work, so I'd like to be able to work a little harder and do great in my new role, but with my current commute, that's not likely to happen, sooooo.... The problem is, the property around here is well beyond my budget, and I'd like to be able to buy something so I don't have to pay capital gains taxes on my current house. D'oh!

Whoever thought being a homeowner was a good idea??? Good grief. Maybe I'll get lucky and find something relatively cheap that is relatively close to work. Ah, the art of compromise!