Archive: January, 2003

I bought a snow blower!

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, January 28, 2003, 6:23 PM | comments: 0

Since it appeared it may never stop snowing, and I'm not interested in touching a shovel, I bought a snow blower Sunday. Yeah, it's about $400 I would much rather have spent on pretty much anything, but it's a lot of fun. Besides, I've been a home owner for almost two years and it was time.

4.5 HP, 21" mouth, tosses snow out of my drive way with precision and speed. It even got the crap down by the street, pushed up by the plows.

I don't know what it is about us men and machines, but even in single-digit temperatures, it's worth it to hear that thing roar and move snow. To further enrich my testicular fortitude, I even moved the snow from the short little sidewalk to the street used for crossing to the cul de sac. Two feet of snow... gone in minutes.

Some days, it's just the simple things.

SBC: Real phone company, real morons

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, January 22, 2003, 2:03 PM | comments: 0

Here's a good time. This is, without question, the funniest thing I've seen in awhile when it comes to intellectual property claims. SBC, formerly Ameritech, claims to more or less own a patent on the way that every Web site, or that matter Windows, works with regards to navigation. If you're really bored, here's the actual patent from the USPTO.

Now if that isn't some funny shit, they want to go after some little publisher of educational products for the way their Web site is organized. Here's a link to that company's statement and some scans of the letter they received from SBC. Here's a story about it on ZDnet.

Laughing yet? If not, scroll down and read the letter from SBC's IP president. If he isn't on drugs, he has the most fucked up sense of reality on the face of the planet. Shit, that patent could be applied to 99% of Web sites on the Internet, not to mention Windows itself?

The best part is the jackass goes on to act like he's excited to offer this outstanding offer to pay them licensing fees. Hahahahahahaha! Quick, where's my check book! I didn't make any money and I use the same navigation, so as far as I'm concerned, SBC owes me money!

Better yet, how about they sue Microsoft for the IBuySpyPortal sample? Sounds like exactly the same thing to me, and everyone who is even slightly interested in .Net is using it.

Somebody should tell this fuck hole he or she is a moron. Oh wait...

Harlie D. Frost (fuck hole): You are a moron!

Today's "Stupid People Shouldn't Breathe" segment was brought to you by the letters "F" and "U," as well as the number "2."

Stephanie's unofficial birthday party

posted by Jeff | Monday, January 20, 2003, 9:46 AM | comments: 0

Saturday was Stephanie's birthday. We had another one of our themed parties, not really telling anyone it was her birthday, but it was an underlying reason for it. This time we went with a "rave" theme, though we kind of mixed it with a fetish and goth theme, depending on how any particular guest interpreted it. Regardless, it turned out right!

My dearest wife was gorgeous as usual. Even better, she was very extra friendly toward me with alcohol, so that was a bonus. She's such a cutie, especially when she dresses up. It was fun to have her be a couple inches taller than me with those giant boots, too. The only down side was that I couldn't see her birthday present being fully clothed. What was it? Well, you'll have to ask her about that! ;)

It was good to see some of our friends as well. Dan and Maria always kick ass to have around, even though Dan failed to tell Maria that getting hoochied out was part of the party goal. Cousin Dave and future cousin-in-law Nikki were also there, perhaps a little uncomfortable around the girls in the best outfits. Even Tyson and Cathy came by, who deny any coupledom, but it's so there if you ask me.

Kristin and Rob came looking freaky, which I give them a lot of credit for, because I can't think of two people who would be further outside of that "club culture." Good for them!

The party was a good chance to get to better know some of Steph's friends from school. Nicole and Kris were decked out with easily the two best outfits at the party, no question about it. Nicole had this long skirt that was more or less two pieces of overlapping fabric, with a corset, fishnets and large boots (the corset was great for showing off what I consider one of the coolest tattoos I've ever seen). Kris had this one-piece vinyl dress that left nothing to the imagination. Both were well complimented by their friend Alex, who showed up with vinyl pants and a variety of torture devices. The three of them disappeared for about 30 minutes upstairs, and one can only imagine what was going on up there!

Alison, "the nice Catholic girl," recently dyed her hair black. I mean absorb light black. I have to say I really liked it. Another school friend, Kristin (yeah, another one) was as usual the life of the party with more stories than one could laugh at.

I enjoyed getting a chance to talk to Steph's friends. They're pretty cool people overall and the party was a real ice breaker. I hope I get to see more of them!

The party started to wind down around 1 a.m. or so, and Kristin and Rob were the last to leave around 2. Unfortunately, this was about the same time that I realized I had too much to drink. Funny thing about that combination of music and friends is that I don't really pay attention to what I'm doing. Seeing as how I only really drink heavily five or six times in a year, I don't have much tolerance, and my body can't take the abuse the way it did in college, I yacked for the first time in about eight years (the last and first time being in college). Not fun, but at least everyone was gone by that time. The recovery was even worse. Very irresponsible of me, and I feel like an ass for letting it go that far.

But now that it's all beyond me, I've finally found the afterglow, the feeling where you're really happy about the way things went. It was easily one of the best parties we've had, second only to perhaps last summer's luau. It made me realize a lot of things about how good life really is, how lucky I am to have such an incredible wife and how great 2003 can be, if I choose to make it great.

When the hobby gets intense

posted by Jeff | Friday, January 17, 2003, 2:07 PM | comments: 0

I've spent evenings during the last week or so blasting out new stuff for a "new and improved" version of So far so good, and what makes me so excited about it is that it's working in the framework of my new content management application. I just hope I can meet my self-imposed deadline.

Meanwhile, I've been HTML'd to death at work. I've spent a couple of weeks now just creating the UI for our Web app there. To this point, I've only done page after page of HTML forms, no actual logic. It's starting to seriously burn me out, but I'm almost done, and can finally move on to logic soon.

I keep wondering how long I'll do these Web sites on the hobby side of things. I've really enjoyed rebuilding CoasterBuzz. I've come to realize that the site has been more or less been taking care of itself with the help of its members for about three years. That's three years on (more or less) the same code. Not a bad run at all, I should say. As long as the site continues to be low-maintenance for me, I'm sure it'll last another three years.

Guide to The Point has now been up for nearly five years. That one I don't feel as strongly about. Aside from the forums, it's hard to maintain it with anything fresh. We'll see how much longer I can hold interest in it.

Of course, with these sites having been around for so long, they're also very popular, and since they're popular, they're expensive to keep up. A year or two ago that wasn't a big deal, because advertising paid for everything. Now, it's not even covering half of the cost. A little over a year ago I started CoasterBuzz Club, which has really helped out, but even it doesn't totally offset the decline in ad dollars.

Just some random thoughts, since I don't know what else to write about. Tomorrow is Stephanie's birthday, along with our rave/fetish/goth party. Should be a good time!

Michelle Branch and the state of music

posted by Jeff | Friday, January 10, 2003, 11:43 PM | comments: 0

I can't even begin to describe how dissatisfied I've been with music in the past year or two. Things have been bad in radio, generally speaking, but the darkest day was when "The End, Cleveland's New Rock Alternative" went dark and was flipped to some other format.

What the industry called "alternative" at the time was kind of a CHR (that's "contemporary hits radio," or top 40, for those of you not in radio) for people that didn't like to stick to one type of music. There was some cross-over with top 40, adult contemporary (AC), "rock" and other formats. It was cool that you could hear No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Jewel, Filter, Garbage and whacked out shit like the Bloodhound Gang all in the same place.

Since then there's this "extreme radio" dick rock bullshit that I absolutely can't stand. If it doesn't have a penis and yells at you, they don't play it. That's the format guideline. I can't stand the Limp Cornsmack bands and all of the clones.

I recently realized that what we called "alternative" in the second half of the 90's still exists, it's just fragmented all over the damn place. So I decided it was time to take a chance on something I might not have purchased if I was locked into this negative format mindset. I bought Michelle Branch.

I figured since she writes her own shit, plays the guitar and doesn't sound like the electronic dance Britney-wannabe stuff (which has its place to, mind you), I'd give her a shot. Turns out, she reminds me a lot vocally of Jewel, but perhaps with a harder sound. Her lyrics kind of reflect her age, but that's OK, since she's not even 20 yet. I think we haven't seen her full writing or vocal capability yet, so it should be fun to watch her grow up.

Of course, this leaves me feeling dirty and bad for some reason, and it has everything to do with the packaging of music. Branch is packaged as CHR/AC fluff. Five years ago (if she wasn't 14!) she'd be squarely placed in the alternative realm. She has a song called "Drop In The Ocean" that has this great, almost Peter Gabriel-esque texture to it that I totally dig. I hope to see more from her soon.

So I'm coming to terms with it, and hope that the music industry gets its head out of its ass so as not to cause me these feelings of embarassment. I've gotta go find more of this stuff that has been miscategorized.

War pigs wanna start some shit

posted by Jeff | Monday, January 6, 2003, 10:50 AM | comments: 0

So I'm watching the news last Friday, and they're talking about how the UN inspectors in Iraq can't find any hard evidence that Saddam is really planning to start some shit with "weapons of mass-destruction." Cut-to: Washington. How will the Bush administration justify an attack?

Well, I've been kind of wondering the same thing. Let's face it, it's a no-contest war we'd fight. However, things are different this time. First of all, it's not just a matter of bombing the crap out of the them. Our people will die in this fight. Second, what gives us the right to impose a regime change? Seems to me it's only "moral" if there's oil involved, because we pretty much sat back and watched a good portion of Eastern Europe kill each other in the last decade or so.

The fact is, the world, the UN, and the people of the US have not been given any solid proof that Saddam is indeed a threat. All we hear is rhetoric from Washington. Sure he's a bad man, sure he'd nuke us all if he could, but it hardly seems like the American way to take somebody out based on their potential. We all have the potential to kill people and blow shit up, but it doesn't mean that we can or we will. Flag waving by itself is not a reason for war.

Then on the other side of the world, we're in a panic because we think that North Korea wants to start building nukes. Am I the only one that noticed we dropped out of the ICBM treaty a couple of years ago and now want to build this "missle defense" system? I would think that's a pretty obvious cause-and-effect thing there, but I guess nobody else gets it. If we're going to lead by example, then right now we're pretty much saying that we don't need to follow the same rules as our neighbors. Who can blame them for acting as we do?

It's a different world since 9/11, sure, but we're going off of the deep end here. We're pissing off other countries, making our own rules and neglecting our domestic problems. The whole thing reeks of political positioning. What happened to bin Laden? I thought he was the bad guy we were worried about. His organization pulled off the single greatest act of terrorism in history.

I fear we're headed back to the cold war days. We're certainly not moving forward.