February 28, 2005

iPod Blindness

There is one great benefit to not owning an iPod.

If you read a lot of blogs and linkdumps (and I do) not owning an iPod means you can ignore about 20% of the stories online and such, because it certainly feels like 1 out of 5 are about the iPod.

On the other bright side, if you own Apple stock no one is telling you it’s a stupid investment and that you should sell it and buy something else. I hate unsolicited investment advice.

Posted by James at 11:15 PM | Comments (2)

Banned Somewhere

Posted by James at 8:21 PM | Comments (6)

We Have A Winner!

We have a winner of the Oscar Pool.

It’s Arthur B.

I didn’t total up points for the people who didn’t send in their full names, but it looks like Martine did pretty well with only one category incorrect.

In any case, Arthur, if you are interested in collecting the aforementioned prize, (your choice of “Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise” or a previously viewed VHS copy of Total Recall or a previously viewed VHS copy of “The Living Daylights” simply email me confirming your last name and your mailing address. You must contact me before midnight, Friday, March 4th.

An honorable mention goes to Sara D who got the same number of categories correct.

Here are the results for everyone.

Posted by James at 7:56 AM | Comments (6)

February 27, 2005

Oscar Pool Voting Closed

OK - the Oscar Pool voting is now closed for this year’s (77th Annual) Academy Awards.

All your votes are here in this file.

Note that only the people with their names in blue are eligible to win the pool (you’re the only ones who followed the instructions and included your full names). But I’ve included everyone’s votes in the spreadsheet for display.

Here is how the scoring will run:

  • Earn 1.5 points for guessing Best Actor or Best Actress.
  • Earn 1.2 points for guessing Best Original or Best Adapted Screenplay.
  • The rest of the categories earn you 1 point each.

The winner gets to choose one (1) of the following craptacular token prizes, which I will mail to you: “Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise,” A previously viewed VHS copy of “Total Recall” or a previously viewed VHS copy of the James Bond film, “The Living Daylights.”

May the best blog denizen win!

Posted by James at 8:17 PM

February 24, 2005

Delayed Shotgun

Yes, there will be an actual shotgun post today. After a brief delay which I will blame on snow and illness. I’m trying to take it easy so I can lick this vile affliction. I would love to meet the new week having sent this virus packing.

[…later…]

OK, on with the links.

And I’m glad to put this week behind me.

[UPDATE! - Bonus!]

  • Baby Got Book (Video, Religious)
    • Saw this on David’s site earlier this week and still haven’t stopped laughing. A very well-done parody of “Baby Got Back.” As for the intentions behind it… you make the call on that one.
    • “My minister, he try to console me, but that book you got make me so holy.”
    • It’s in crappy streaming Windows Media format. If you have trouble streaming it, try the download link at the bottom of the page, save it to your hard drive and watch it locally.
Posted by James at 10:08 PM | Comments (8)

February 22, 2005

Thanks

Thanks for all the wellwishes. I am feeling a bit better, but I am still running a fever when the Tylenol wears off. I unwisely went in to work today, but I did get some important things done. Tomorrow (Wed) I am taking it a bit easier and hoping to be in decent shape by Thursday.

Posted by James at 11:55 PM | Comments (8)

February 21, 2005

Fever, etc.

Due to illness, there isn’t going to be any Name That Movie this week. Sorry, folks. I’ve just gotten to the point where I am not delirious, and I plan to rest a bit.

Posted by James at 7:36 PM | Comments (12)

February 20, 2005

Number One in Goat Diapering

Aces Full of Links has just earned an auspicious distinction. In a Google search for “goat diapering,” Aces Full of Links is at the top of the list!

How did I learn of this impressive accomplishment? It came to my attention when I got my first goat-diaper-related viewer email. The name has been changed to protect the identity of the reader:

Do you know what can be used for a diaper for a male Pygmy Goat? We have 2 year old one that we have had since he was a month old. And he has been in the house most of the time since we have had him.

I am using adult diapers now, but sometimes they aren’t put on right, and they leak. He has been altered also, so he doesn’t have real smelly urine. I have been trying to find some answers about this, but I just don’t know where to go to find them. I hope you can help me. Even if you can’t, let me know that you can’t, please. I just wish I could find something that would fit better.

Thank you!
Nanny’s Nanny

By the way, his name is Marshmallow.

Dear Nanny’s Nanny,

I have expertise with neither goats nor adult diapers, so I’m afraid my counsel in this matter may fall short of your expectations. Regardless, I think it’s only fair to you that I make an effort, using what expertise I do have.

I am sorry to hear that the adult diapers aren’t working for you — is that why you’re reluctant to try them with the goat?

Perhaps it is the nature of the goat’s alterations that are giving you trouble. If you have altered him to be, for example, an elephant, then even the largest diaper will be insufficient. If, on the other hand, you have altered him to be a chicken, then no diaper is necessary and you will reap dividends in the form of fresh eggs! There is a lesson to be learned somewhere in there.

Marshmallow is a cute name for a goat. But for his own safety, keep him away from sticks, chocolate, graham crackers and hungry Girl Scouts. Take my word for it — things could get ugly.

Cheerio and best wishes,
The Aces Full of Links Advice Team

[Update: Now when you search on “goat diapering” you get this post, rather than the original. So here is a link to the original post that led to this blog becoming #1 in goat diapering.]

Posted by James at 8:46 AM | Comments (15)

February 18, 2005

(Formerly) Sparse Shotgun

Not a lot of free time for surfing this week, so the shotgun is a little sparse.

  • ACME Heart Maker (Funny online tool)
    • It’s after V-Day, but you can still have fun expressing your most heartfelt sentiments with this online tool to create custom images of those little Valentine’s day heart mints.
  • Install OS X on a PeeCee (Geeky)
    • Is it really true? I have a spare PC at the moment, I think I’m going to try this after a reinstall of Windows. At the moment I can’t verify it, but if it’s true, it’s a real kick.
  • Science Toys (Science!)
    • Fun projects and supplies for making some crazy-cool science stuff. Like a hydrogen bomb. That is definitely on my to do list with the kids. No, it’s not a thermonuclear hydrogen bomb. It’s a little plastic gadget that generates hydrogen from water via electrolysis and then ignites it. Similar to the hydrogen rocket I got as a gift for Christmas (still haven’t had a chance to launch it).
    • Another must-do is the Van de Graaff generator.
  • Sunday Slumps (Article, Culture, WSJ.com)
    • Do you live in your expectations, rather than the moment? Then perhaps you, as many of us do, suffer from the Sunday-night Slump. It’s that feeling that the weekend is already over which can sometimes cause you to stretch out Sunday late into the night…
  • SaveSurge(Soda)
    • A website solely dedicated to saving the soda known as “Surge.” A Coke product that is already gone from the shelves, Surge not only has a loyal following but an elaborate fansite. I never knew.
  • BevNET (Soda)
    • Speaking of soda, here’s BevNET. It’s a site completely dedicated to talking about soft drinks. I may think they’re harmful to your health in large doses, and I may try to avoid them, but the truth is that I love sugary carbonated beverages in moderation. Visit this site for the latest information about the market.
  • Opt Out of Credit Card Offers (Finance, Privacy)
    • This site allows you to opt out of pesky credit card and other credit offers that inundate your mailbox. Verisign verified.
  • FutureMail (Online Tool)
    • Send your future self an email.
  • Flickr License Search (Photography, Images)
    • Need a royalty free image for your website? One way to go would be to search Flickr for images that have been released for use by the artist. On the artist’s say-so, go ahead and let your creativity run wild editing someone else’s pictures.
  • They Might Be Giants - Here Come The ABC’s (Music)
    • TMBG has released it’s second album aimed at kids. The first one “No!” was just plain great and my kids loved it. This may be a little young for them. You can buy it online, too!

More:

  • Pimpzilla (Browser Extensions)
    • Pimp your Firefox with the glitziest extension out there. Browser skinning is ghetto fabulous.
  • Princess Azumanga (animation)
    • Ob: Japanese friday animation with music.
  • Blogtricks (tools)
    • Teach your weblog new tricks.

OK, not so sparse by the time I finished.

Posted by James at 12:40 PM | Comments (4)

February 17, 2005

Hitchhiker's Trailer

This new Hitchhiker’s Guide movie is starting to look good! The trailer is now online (thanks for the link, Mike) and it reveals the nature of Zaphod’s physical peculiarities. Don’t blink if you want to catch that second head; I was wrong about where they’re putting it.

The trailer had the desired effect on me. I can’t wait to see this movie.

Posted by James at 8:00 AM | Comments (2)

February 15, 2005

Name That Movie 25

Whee - and we’re off!

Rules are simple: These images are from a film. Guess at the film in the comments. As the day goes on I reveal more clues until I feel that the game is over. Read the comments or not depending on whether you want the help of others. But do comment if you think you’ve figured it out, and on what image it became clear to you!

Image #1 (shown above)
Image #2
Image #3
Image #4
Image #5
Image #6
Image #7
Image #8

Posted by James at 8:14 AM | Comments (40)

February 14, 2005

Alarming Freebies

So, I got something free with my new Jeep that I wasn’t aware of until last week. A free alarm system!

Usually, free stuff is a good thing. But when you have an alarm system it’s always better to know you have it rather than not to know.

The Setup

I had to make a quick trip from work in the Jeep on Thursday, so I dashed out the door with my remote in hand, unlocking it as I trotted over. As I hit the remote start (not really very useful, but still novel at the moment) it roared to life… and then shut back down as it began to honk its very lout horn repeatedly while flashing every light.

It was at that moment I figured I had an alarm system. I didn’t know how I’d armed it. More importantly, I didn’t know how to disarm it.

I tried every button on the key fob. Repeatedly. I tried combinations of buttons. I tried patterns. I tried to start the car again, to no avail. Soon, my boss was grinning at my window, then tapping on the glass.

“You should shoot it and put it out of its misery,” he said.

Oops, I Did It Again

Eventually, it stopped beeping, but the dashboard informed me that it was still armed. After some failed solo attempts to disarm (which, of course, just set it off again) I contacted the seller’s son to get the seller’s phone number.

I explained what had happened. “Yeah — that feature annoyed me, too.” He’d only had the car a year, so he’d encountered the same situation.

He told me how to disarm it (well, he got close — I was able to figure it out with his help.)

When I asked him how it could become armed, or how to arm it intentionally, he mumbled something into the phone which indicated to me that he wasn’t sure.

Ryan, who lives across the street from the office, got a good laugh out of it at least. He witnessed my moment of realization from afar.

Remember To Call It Research

This weekend, while K got her hair cut, M and I stood in the Best Buy parking lot and tried some educated guesses about what arms, disarms and trips the alarm. My desire for repeatability no doubt caused some dismay to the illegally parked fellow nearby who was taking a nap. Trying to take a nap.

So all is well, and now I have harnessed the power of the my “free” security system for good, rather than for inconvenience.

Posted by James at 3:00 PM | Comments (6)

Weekend Highlights

  • Aliens Of The Deep
    • Took the girls to see it at the Providence IMAX. 3D undersea fun. James Cameron gets exobiologists to explore the deep. Amazing pictures. IMAX in Providence now does assigned seats, which was news to me. Good news for people like ourselves who like to get tickets early and don’t like to try to be in the front of the line at showtime.
  • Car Maintenance.
    • Vacuuming, fixing wipers, washing, installing brighter headlights, moving gear over.
    • It’s amazing the volume of small junk that accumulates in cars. It’s amazing how clean a car looks when it’s gone.
  • Got the Hayes Manual for the Jeep
    • Cheaper to fix small things myself.
  • Jukebox Diner for Sunday breakfast.
    • Eat while looking at pictures of Lucille Ball and the Edsel.
  • Visited Pleasant and Quarry intersection
    • Its the spot in Fall River where my family lived until I was 3. We occupied an apartment over my great-grandfather’s restaurant. Wanted to show the girls the plaque which is there, but of course it’s still covered in mounds of snow! A trip for some future spring morning.
Posted by James at 8:31 AM

February 13, 2005

Aren't You The Guy Who...

How would you react if you were a cab driver, picked up a guy in your cab who started having a seizure, and you thought he was the jerk who held a knife you your throat for $20 not a month earlier.

Allegedly, that’s the situation a female cab driver from Taunton was in last Thursday. The Taunton Gazette reports:

“As he was walking toward the car I was thinking ‘oh boy, he looks like the same person, same build, same height, same skin tone,’” the alleged victim said in a statement to police. “As soon as he spoke, a chill went up my spine because the voice also matched the person that robbed me at knifepoint.”

[…]

The driver said after Toney coughed once leaned his head back on the headrest and began to have a seizure. She said while he was having the seizure “leaned on the other passenger.”

The driver then pulled over at the corner of Weir Street and Somerset Avenue and radioed her dispatcher who called an ambulance which transported Toney to Morton Hospital, according to documents.

Decent people are decent, no matter who they’re dealing with. They’re decent to people not because it’s deserved, but because of who they are.

Are we decent people? Why, as I write this, does the subject of the treatment of detainees come to mind?

Posted by James at 10:07 PM | Comments (3)

February 12, 2005

Vogons

Pictures of vogons from the new Hitchiker’s Guide movie have just hit the internet.

Posted by James at 10:27 AM | Comments (9)

February 11, 2005

SWAT Stickers

Listening to talk radio this morning, I heard something new. The host was up in arms about some piece of artwork that’s on display at Jordan’s furniture in Seekonk. (registration req’d)

But the odd thing was that I heard him complaining repeatedly about “SWAT stickers.” Yes, I wasn’t sure what I was hearing, but he repeated himself a number of times. At least 6 time. “He’s using SWAT stickers.” “He’s got SWAT stickers all over the place.”

Every time I heard it, it was plain as day. Sure, the context indicated he was saying something else, but the pronunciation was unmistakable. “SWAT stickers.”

That was a new one for me.

On the subject of the story, I have only one thing to say. He was outraged that people allowed this art to exist, encouraged the student to create, and that it won some award. He seemed to consider the idea that someone might be offended by the message on par with the rights of the person expressing the message.

You know, when are people going to get it through their heads that they don’t have a right not to be offended? How can we discuss and even argue against an idea if it is not possible to express that idea? Aside from issues of individual freedom, we as a society benefit when someone floats an idea that is worthy of challenging.

If the idea isn’t out there, it can’t be shot down. So, yes, I would allow an extremely liberal interpretation of free speech when it comes to art. Get those ideas out there. Instead of wasting our time lamenting why this student was allowed to express his thoughts, this fellow (if he has a valid criticism of the idea) should be concentrating on bolstering his rebuttal.

Posted by James at 2:12 PM | Comments (5)

February 10, 2005

Ego Surfing Shotgun

Another week, another few links.

  • DisturbingAuctions.com (Odd)
    • It’s a website that collects links to auctions that are a litte bit… off. The image on this post is from an Armour Hot Dog Promotional Sign.
    • “There’s something just too smug about this boy. It’s just a hot dog, junior. What kinds of kids like Armour hot dogs? Smarmy ones, evidently.”
  • You Are An Idiot (Noisy Flash Animation)
    • Brief. To the point. Loud. Repetitive. Don’t click this link unless your speakers are turned down low. I imagine its main use is for forwarding to people who have fallen out of favor. However, I find that as I am leaving running in the background I feel strangely… idiotic.
  • Google Maps! (Geography)
    • If you like maps and haven’t seen Google Maps yet, you ought to check it out! They’ve made internet mapping much more interactive. Google marches on.
  • Cat Dancing (Freakish Animation)
    • Mildly diverting portion of cat-obsessed strangeness.
  • Napoleon Dynamite Soundboard (Movies, Sound)
    • Now you can hear “Pedro offers you his protection” as many times as you want. Gosh!
    • “Grandma just called and said you’re supposed to go home. She said she doesn’t want you here when she gets back because you’ve been ruining everybody’s lives and eating all our steak.”
  • Dynamite! (Nostalgia)
    • Remember “Dynamite!” magazine? Holy cow. Look! It’s Logan’s Run! And Bummers. And Farrah!
  • Earth Erotica (Photos)
    • Pictures of a geological nature that suggest subjects of an erotic nature. “Rock hard” takes on a new relevance.
  • Free Webhosting at x10 (Tools)
    • Get free webhosting for a blog, a database, a website… whatever. The catch is, you must place their ads on your pages. I haven’t tried them, but it sounds like a good deal for someone who just wants to play around for free. Or perhaps host a bunch of images, thoug there are easier ways to get free image hosting.
  • Harmless Windows Pranks (Techie Fun)
    • It’s a collection of apps you can use to mess up someone else’s computer in a harmless way for some good, clean fun. I’d never (never, I say!) use these because I don’t want to get involved in tampering with someone else’s system, but they are fun to browse.
  • Asterix (Comix)
    • It’s the virtual village of Asterix, everyone’s favorite Gaul.
  • PRESSblog::Blog Marketability (Me)
    • Local marketing blog awards Aces Full of Links with a 2 out of 5 for marketing potential. There is no truth to the rumors that a well-placed bribe allowed me to double my score. None at all. I have no idea where this fellow got the idea that I am left leaning. Everyone knows I am solidly centrist. Ask BriWei if you don’t believe me.
  • Sinister Ducks (Animation)
    • A reason to worry about ducks. These ducks have gone bad!
  • Autism Spectrum Quiz (Quiz)
    • Answer these questions and screen yourself. I came out above 30. The quiz is vague on what the score means.
    • “Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher. The test is not a means for making a diagnosis, however, and many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger’s report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.”

That’s it. I’m spent.

Posted by James at 3:37 PM | Comments (14)

Scented Sucker

I bought some Renuzit Super Odor Neutralizer to use in my Jeep and elsewhere.

However, I just sprayed this stuff int he office to try to figure out what it smells like, and after about 30 minute’s I’ve decided.

It smells like an old, dirty, orange-flavored lollypop.

Posted by James at 3:31 PM | Comments (2)

You're Not At Freakin' Disney World

I like it when my friends post about their thoughts, musings, observations and pet peeves. Invariably, it overlaps or uncovers my own peeves.

Chuck recently logged such a post on a variety on subjects, and touched upon one of my recurring peeves. The subject is “riding on escalators.”

When we talk about using an escalator, we refer to it as “riding.” I think this is an enabling bit of language. It enables all the lazy mallrats of the world to park their asses on one end of the escalator and not lift their feet until they shuffle off the other end. This is one of those instances where I have a view that appears to be completely out of synch with the entire world, and just being in the minority does not convince me that I’m wrong.

When I see an escalator, I see powered stairs. “Yay!” I think to myself. “I can get upstairs that much faster.” However, if I set foot on an escalator I am invariably behind a few people who prevent me from using my legs. They don’t mean to block my way intentionally, they simply do not seem to imagine that anyone would want to walk up the escalator and therefore don’t stand to one side to allow people to pass.

It’s hard not to notice this and not make some connection to the general bloatification of the American populace. People not in motion tend to stay not in motion.

Dear reader, I can’t really claim that you have made a conscious decision not to lift a finger when it comes to getting up the escalator — I believe that you stand there automatically because that’s what the rest of the herd does. Malls have no interest in encouraging you to climb those stairs. Why, you might get tired and decide to go home if you used your legs too much.

So, it’s a social thing, and there is little motivation to change. Perhaps I should feel I’m doing some good by example if I say “excuse me” 30 times and work my way past all these standing people. It seems strange. I imagine the people will think to themselves “Where is he going in such a hurry? Can’t he wait his turn like everyone else?” They’d be missing the point entirely, which may negate my attempt to teach by example.

What would you do if you needed to get to the other end of a hallway and people were simply standing there, not moving? You’d excuse yourself and move through them (or find another way). But we don’t do that on the escalator because we know we’ll make it there eventually. So, why annoy all those people?

The answer is clear. You annoy them because they’re treating the escalator like a ride, being lazy and giving in to the herd mentality. I don’t care to force you as an individual to move your butt up the escalator. Perhaps you had a long day and are exhausted. That’s fine. But if you’re going to use the escalator as a respite (odd place to do it, but “whatever”) why not move over to one side and let other people by?

The bottom line is this. By asking to get by, I am not forcing my idea of what an escalator is on you. However, by preventing me from going by, you are forcing your idea of what an escalator is on me. I’ve had enough of the herd forcing this on me, and I’m sick of falling into the patterns that are going to enlist me into the ranks of the fat, sickly, middle-aged steer. But damned if I know how to let people understand why I am climbing the escalator.

America, when I push past you it’s for the good of all of us. I’m not trying to get the last cheeseburger in the food court before you get there. In fact, they’ll make as many as you can eat. And if you’re really lucky, by the time you get there they will have invented a machine that chews the cheeseburger for you, so you don’t have to bother!

We evolved as animals who had to exert ourselves all the time to survive. That’s what we’re built for, and part of that keeps us healthy. Desk jobs, cars, elevators — all these things conspire to take away the activities which keep our bodies running smoothly. Do we need to give in on this escalator thing, too?

Posted by James at 1:01 PM | Comments (6)

February 9, 2005

Smiling Jack

Becky, our office manager, takes care of her infant son while she is working in the office. Ryan nicknamed him “Jack” after Jack Bauer of “24” which is the unofficial favorite TV show of first-floor SimCalc employees.

Becky’s always been a super-efficient person, so (amazingly) she is able to take care of him and keep this place running smoothly. And most of the time you never know the little guy is here.

However, there are times when you can hear him laughing. The inevitable fussing is at a surprising minimum and has zero impact on operations.

Every time I go by her office and make eye contact, I can’t help but smile. He invariably gives me back a huge grin and giggles.

It’s pretty cool.

Posted by James at 12:34 PM | Comments (2)

February 8, 2005

Rock It Man

Fans of “The Family Guy” will no doubt be familiar with Stewie’s slightly bizarre rendition of “Rocket Man” in the third-season episode entitled “And The Weiner Is…”

I was previously under the impression that this was wholly hatched from the fevered brain of Seth MacFarlane. However, it turns out that Stewie is delivering an homage to one particular performance of “Rocket Man” which I stumbled onto quite by accident.

It’s William Shatner at some science fiction awards ceremony. It’s unmistakable. Stewie is getting all those weird moves from Bill Shatner.

The video is bizarre enough that it’s worth watching even if you’re not a Family Guy fan. If you’ve seen Stewie do it, it’s hilarious.

Posted by James at 8:45 AM | Comments (6)

Name That Movie 24

“24” is one of my favorite shows. But these stills aren’t from the show “24.” They’re from a movie. Off you go, into the rough.

First image is here, the rest will follow in links…

Instructions for n00bs: You use the available clues to guess what the movie is. Register your guesses in the comments. If you’re coming in once all the clues have already been posted, try to use as few clues as you can. Onward!

The Second Clue is Here

The Third Clue is Here

The Fourth Clue is Here

The Fifth Clue is Here

The Sixth Clue is Here

The Seventh Clue is Here

Posted by James at 2:04 AM | Comments (16)

February 7, 2005

Screaming Purple Jesus

Apparently, Purple Jesus already has 2 drinks named after him.

The Purple Jesus is equal parts grape juice, grain alcohol, vodka and ginger ale. The screaming version opts for one part grain alcohol to four parts grape Kool Aid.

Kids, stay away from the grain alcohol. Mess you up.

Posted by James at 2:37 PM | Comments (4)

New Geocaching Accessory

jeep


jeep,
originally uploaded by drmomentum.

A Jeep. Continuing my tradition of buying cars for as little as possible, I got this one from the father of a friend of my cousin. Thank goodness for the auto grapevine of cheap transportation. In fact, it cost me less than some big screen TVs I saw in Consumer Reports this month.


No more bottoming out. I hope.

Posted by James at 11:41 AM | Comments (8)

Prayer Rug From Heck

So, I got this prayer rug in the mail the other day.

Yeah. Well, it was sent “to resident” but I still feel it was personally meant for me.

It came in an envelope with all sorts of instructions and blessings and pictures of people who have benefited from the POWA OF THE PRAYER RUG. I won’t bore you with all the details, but basically if I pray on the rug, Jesus’ eyes will stare into my soul and I will win one of the fabulous prizes listed on the information. You can actually check off the prize you want. I can pray for such things as:

  • “A Better Job”
  • “A New Car”
  • “A Money Blessing”
  • “My Soul”
  • “Confusion In My Home”

The first few are attractive, but I’m really curious about the confusion one. Is it for confusion or agin it? I ain’t praying for that until I get more details.

The rug is about 11” by 17” and you can see the full surface of it in the upper right corner of this post. It would have a delightful “Shroud of Turin”-esque feel to it if it weren’t for the garish purple hue they’ve used. This violet visage is clearly only going to bolster the opinion of those who believe Jesus was some kind of visiting alien.

On the back of the rug, a shortened version of the instructions is printed:

“This Prayer Rug is Soaked with the Power of Prayer for you. Use it immediately, then please return it with your Prayer Needs Checked on our letter to you. It must be mailed to a second home that needs a blessing after you use it. Prayer works. Expect God’s blessing.”

“Soaked” is a good way to put it, as anyone who falls for this scam is sure to get soaked. There is a postage-paid envelope for returning the prayer rug so that it can be passed on to the next hapless victim friend-in-need. You send it back with money, of course.

But what impressed me was this little trick. Printed in the whitespace at the bottom of the rug, some text instructs and informs us:

“Look into Jesus’ Eyes you will see they are closed. But as you continue to look you will see His eyes opening and looking back into your eyes. Then go and be alone and kneel on this Rug of Faith or touch it to both knees. Then please check your needs on our letter to you. Please return this Prayer Rug. Do not keep it.”

Could this rug truly look into my soul??! I had to know. Details follow in the extended entry…

I stared and stared at the purple Jesus face for a good few seconds. The longer I stared, the more Purple Jesus seemed to be sleeping. He was ignoring me so that he could take a nap on my time. Look, I was singled out to receive this prayer rug, you’d think I deserved a minute or two of attention. No?

Apparently not. As I stared at Purple Jesus, I came to an important realization. This was not the actual Jesus Christ Jesus. This was some imitation Jesus. And a poor imitation to be sure, because I’m pretty sure the Bible does not mention “purple” when describing the savior. I may have missed a passage or two, but I think that a verse like:

2 Corinthians 4:6 (Purple Version)

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Big Honkin’ Purple face of Jesus Christ.

…would stand out.

No, I checked the searchable Bible, and the only reference to “purple” is for yarn. No purple face of Jesus.

This epiphany made me a little bit angry. Now, I’m none too religious and I’m plenty irreverent. But a lot of people I like are serious about their religion and sincere. It’s pretty low to take advantage of that enthusiasm and belief to scam people out of their money.

Awash with anger, I turned back at the Purple Jesus, prepared to rebuke him. And then a startling thing happened. Purple Jesus was more powerful than I had expected, and he absorbed my anger, directing it back at me.

He came awake with red laser eyes. He immediately launched into a hideous chant, which we captured in an animated gif, but which was unrecordable by any known human technology. The words of the chant stunned me as he tried to soak me with the power of evil prayer!

I dodged left as a bolt of Purple Prayer narrowly missed me, hitting the ceiling and soaking a spot there with evil purpleness. We’d later discover that most cleansers were ineffective against this stain, although Simple Green did make it a little more blurry than before.

I struggled to get him back into the envelope, folding carefully so that his evil eye beams were turned inward like some Violet Self-Examination of Conscience. Thus contained, Purple Jesus is apparently harmless. We are pondering what to do with the envelope. “Burn it” is the first option that leaps to mind, but we are open to suggestions.

The words of the chant have already slipped from my mind with the ephemeral nature of a dream. Reading the lips of the animated gif, it might be something like “Ba-ba Baaaaaa-ba.” Could be “Robber Baaaa-ron.” I don’t know.

What I do know is that I have narrowly escaped the Cult of the Purple Jesus. What I wonder is why some Christians are so worried about what they see as attacks on the sanctity of marriage when scammers are apparently rampant in creating Purple Jesuses and such (who knows, maybe there are Red, Orange and Green Jesuses out there as well. Even a Plaid Jesus?) to bilk people of their cash.

Seems to me like that ought to be a higher priority. Using Jesus like that. Maybe religious chicanery is protected speech.

Thus ends my cautionary tale. If you meet the Purple Jesus on the road, kill him.

Additional Links:

Posted by James at 8:08 AM | Comments (34)

February 6, 2005

Congrats Pats

Congratulations New England Patriots on your 3rd world championship in 4 years. Eagles: you played a good game.

Local Fox affiliates: you all suck eggs. What happened to the “American Dad” episode you were supposed to air after the game? You preempted it because you thought I’d want to watch other people celebrating?

Posted by James at 9:53 AM | Comments (5)

Shirtless Through The Mall

I made a goofy and nonsensical webcomic.

You can, too.

Posted by James at 9:44 AM | Comments (1)

February 5, 2005

One Slip...

I use Firefox for all my browser needs. But once in a while I fire up IE to see a page that only works in IE.

I did that the other day for (and I do not exaggerate) about 3 minutes to check out a neat-sounding link I was considering for a shotgun post. As I was shutting down IE, I noticed something new was running on my machine. I hadn’t seen any “install” screen. I ran Spybot S&D and Adaware. Sure enough, there was a ton of spyware and adware now installed on my machine. Something like 7 distinct exploits.

I had run both those programs at the beginning of the week and they’d given me a clean bill of health at that time.

Unfortunately, all is not yet well. I’m left-handed, so I reverse the mouse buttons on my system.Something is running periodically and switching my buttons back to the default. What this suggests to me is that something is, perhaps recording my user actions (it captures them and then tries to pass them on to the system, but it’s misinterpreting them). I may be wrong about that, but it’s not making me happy. I may need a full system install. Or maybe it’s time to move over to my new machine (I’ve been too busy to work on my upgrades).

In any case, let this be a cautionary tale for you. Avoid IE like the plague, because it probably is.

Posted by James at 10:36 AM | Comments (3)

February 4, 2005

Future Cookie Super-villains

How are super-villains made? They’re not born. It takes hard work. And, according to latter-day comic books which focus on the psychology of the super villain, often there is some out-of-proportion, seemingly arbitrary nastiness that is visited upon them in their formative years. Unable to deal with what fate has handed them, and now convinced of the inhumanity of man to man, they turn to super-villainy. Such a form-changing event has taken place in Colorado.

Two Durango teens thought they’d surprise neighbors with nighttime deliveries of home-baked treats. But one woman was so terrified, she sued and has won.

For those following along at home, the story goes like this. These two girls played reverse trick-or-treat, spreading treats around their neighborhood in the form of delicious cookies. Basically, a random act of kindness.

One woman was so frightened by the knock at her door, she had an anxiety attack which landed her in the hospital. That’s unfortunate.

Then the woman, Wanita Renea Young, sued the girls for $900 and won.

Taylor’s mother, Jill Ostergaard, said her daughter “cried and cried” after Judge Doug Walker handed down his decision in La Plata County Small Claims Court.

No kidding?

The girls parents made an effort to smooth things over for the woman.

The girls wrote letters of apology to Young. Taylor’s letter, written a few days after the episode, said in part: “I didn’t realize this would cause trouble for you. … I just wanted you to know that someone cared about you and your family.”

The families had offered to pay Young’s medical bills if she would agree to indemnify the families against future claims.

Young wouldn’t sign the agreement. She said the families’ apologies rang false and weren’t delivered in person. The matter went to court.

But, not good enough. We’re takin’ this to court!!!

I love the last bit, though. Ms. Young is suddenly concerned about the welfare of these girls, and has been heard to say “Something bad could have happened to them.”

Good point, Ms. Young. Something bad could have happened to them, like being sued for $900 and learning that they live near someone with little compassion, sense of humor or brains.

For this, Wanita Renea Young you win the long-unawarded Aces Full of Links Four-Flush of Disgrace. If these girls turn into some twisted sort of super villains who drown people in cookies or invent exploding cookies or whatever, the blame falls squarely on your shoulders.

[—I’d heard about this in passing, but thanks to RMcC for the story link.—]


Posted by James at 4:04 PM | Comments (19)

Melty Shotgun

The rain has been melting the huge mounds of snow here. But shotgun posts continue undaunted.

  • Star Wars Episode III: A Lost Hope (Video, Parody)
    • Passably humorous parody of the upcoming film. As fans, we’d all love it to be good. We all dread that it will be hokey.
  • How To Make A Life Poster (Tips & Tricks, Photography)
    • It’s going to cost you just under $30, but this guy tells you how to use iPhoto to order a big poster with 98 of your favorite digital snapshots. Neat idea for a gift, especially if you take a lot of nice pictures.
    • Yeah, it specifies iPhoto, so this favors Mac people. However, I’m pretty sure that Picasa 2 can make you a similar grid of photos as a collage. There is a little discussion on the page about using other tools to do the same thing. Also, your local print shop may give you a better deal on the printing — and you’d be supporting your local businesses.
  • A Complete Waste Of Time - WARNING Do Not Read This If You Have Work To Do (Games)
    • A collection of all sorts of free games. Be afraid.
  • Some Weird Thing.. “Maya Hee?” (Weird Flash Video)
    • Every week there is a Shotgun link weirder than all the others. This week, this is it. Some guy lip synching some foreign language song (can’t understand the lyrics) in front of his webcam. Proves that the bar is far too low for creating video content.
  • Star Trek Apartment (Decorating, Images)
    • This fellow has decorated his apartment to look like a set from Star Trek. He’s gone a bit overboard, actually. Impressive. Disturbing?
  • MGM DVD Class Action Suit (Consumer, Litigation)
    • If you own any DVDs, you may be able to participate in this class action lawsuit and collect something like 7 dollars and change. Apparently, they made misleading statements about the aspect ration on certain DVDs. You will have to apply for your part of the settlement.
  • Putfile and ImageVenue (Image/Video Hosting)
    • Do you have a large image or video that you’d like to distribute, but the bandwidth costs would murder you? Or, maybe you don’t even have your own website and you want to host an image for an EBay auction. Try one of these free services. Registration is not even required for ImageVenue. I haven’t tried Putfile yet. Keep in mind that if these services disappear, so do all the media that has been uploaded to them. So always keep a copy!
  • Coral: High Bandwidth Distribution (Techie, Webhosting)
    • This is a different approach to sparing your bandwidth. It’s a site that claims it can provide you with distributed hosting for your high bandwidth pages and files.All you do is append something to the hostname of your link. Interesting idea, though I’m not sure in reality ho much it would help.
  • OMGPWNED directory (Images)
    • A directory of images used to tell other people that they have been “PWNED” or “owned” or, basically, beaten and thoroughly dominated. Gamer slang.
  • LaimName (Internet Brush-off)
    • “Laim.Name (Loser Aim Name) is the very first list of AOL Instant Messenger bots that reject people who IM them. Use one of these names if you don’t want to give out your real AOL name. When they send a message to it, the name will respond with a message saying they have been rejected. On top of everything, we post their reactions”
  • George W. Bush: Episode II (Video, Parody)
    • Four More Years. It’s the audio from the Episode III preview cut with images from your world. Funny.
  • Paperback Believer Mashup Video (Video, Music)
    • It’s a mashup of “Paperback Writer” and “I’m A Believer.” Music and video.
    • in case you’re asking “What’s a mashup?” (a.k.a Bastard Pop)
  • The First Drink Of The Day!!!!! (Music, Animation)
    • Rathergood celebration of the first drink of the day.
    • Watch monkeys ride beer can cars. And stuff. Best watched sometime after noon.

Additional Articles:

Posted by James at 8:04 AM | Comments (3)

February 3, 2005

Gear: Picasa

Here’s a new post category on Aces Full. “Gear” and related subjects. I have a lot of little tools, websites, bits of software and whatnot that I find make life a bit easier. I’d like to post them here now and again to share them with you.

First up: Picasa 2 - Photo Database Software.

In the olden days of personal computing, you probably didn’t have many images on your machine. If you did, they were small, organized in a couple of folders, and you didn’t reference them all that much. Maybe you put them on floppies and/or Zip disks and never looked at them again.

With the popularity of digital cameras, today’s user now has reason to keep many, many images on his personal computer. With the great number of images also comes the challenge of organizing them. Certainly, you could just use the file system on your computer. But that is less than easy to browse for images.

Enter the current generation of novice user photo database software: Picasa 2.

Picasa 2 is a free piece of Windows software developed by a company which was later bought by Google. The purpose of the software is to help you organize all of the images you keep on your hard driver, wherever they are.

Simply put, it makes the mess of images you are downloading from your camera useable again. I don’t want to make this a commercial for Picasa (which is free anyhow). They have their own product tour which discusses what the software can do. Instead, let me tell you how I use it, and why I like it so much.

As soon as I connect my digital camera to my machine through its USB port, Picasa asks me if I want to download any of the new pictures I’ve taken. It knows which I’ve already downloaded and will automatically skip those. Yes - my camera came with software that does this. However, Picasa is far more smooth. Additionally, because of multiple devices I’d bought, I had multiple applications which purported to be good photo databases and downloaders. Picasa replaces all of them, so I have one-stop shopping. Whether I’m connecting my camera to my PC, or slipping a memory card into my card reader. Picasa knows what to do in either case.

Picasa has made it easy for me to share images with friends via both email and on image sharing sites because it makes exporting the images a snap. Of course, I don’t have to export the images, because they’re in a folder on my hard drive. But exporting accomplishes 2 things. First, I don’t have to go looking for the images. I can export them to my desktop, do what I like with them, then delete them. Secondly, when I export the images, I can shrink them to a size better suited for email of image sites.

So I don’t have to think about where my images are at all if I don’t want to.

But what about backing up my images? If I like, Picasa will write them all out to a CD or DVD for me. I could do this before as well, but Picasa is smarter than my previous methods. Picasa will remember which images I’ve backed up and which I have not. So I don’t have to keep track myself which images have been written out to DVDs. Of course, I can also write the images to CD to share with friends in the form of slide shows and such.

You can group your images, organize them, and even password protect specific groups. You can blow up a picture into printable chunks which can be reassembled into a poster. You can make goofy collages like the one on the right. Or screensavers. Or desktop pictures.

Heck - it will even make a little movie out of your images, complete with the Ken Burns Effect.

If you have been feeling that your images are not well-managed by whatever your current organizational method is, consider Picasa.

Note to Mac Folk:

Picasa is Windows-only. But, if you own a Mac and a digital camera, you already know about iPhoto, which does much the same thing. I actually like Picasa a little bit better because of such features as the “timeline” which allows really quick browsing. However, iPhoto is in the same class as Picasa and both are a huge boon to amateur digital photographers everywhere.

Posted by James at 12:18 PM | Comments (4)

February 2, 2005

Pint-Size Graphology

M (youngest daughter) hands me a piece of paper.

M: “Daddy, could you write your name here on this piece of paper?”

I write on the piece of paper. Being “clever” I write “your name here.”

She takes the paper and holds it up to a note she got last year from the Easter Bunny.

M: “Aha!”

Me: “Le jeux sont fait!”

Posted by James at 8:12 PM | Comments (16)

Slap-Happy

Scotsman.com News - Latest News - Schools Ban Camera Phones Amid ‘Happy Slapping’ Craze

The craze has involved groups of teenagers slapping strangers in the face while filming their reactions on mobile phones.

Charming! When do we get that here?

Posted by James at 12:11 PM | Comments (2)

Happy Ground War Day!

Today is the day that the president comes up out of his intelligence hole and if he doesn’t see his mistakes we have 4 more years of war.

Ooray!

Posted by James at 7:42 AM | Comments (5)

Pandora's Tea Room

Maggie has started her own blog. It’s called “Pandora’s Tea Room.” The focus, I gather, is to keep in better contact with friends and family, especially her far-flung female friends. But all are welcome.

Already she’s got some interesting posts, especially the first story she posted which covered a study on kids and gun safety. The post is about more than that specific issue, but the article is fascinating, if disconcerting.

Check it out for yourself.

Posted by James at 12:10 AM

February 1, 2005

Earlier Pool

Wow - Last year we didn’t post our Oscar Pool until Feb 21st — so you’re getting it early this year.

For those interested, Here is last year’s pool announcement, here is post enumerating the awards, here are my brief comments on the ceremony, in award form, and here are last year’s pool results.

Who, this year, will offer the stiffest competish? Ugh, I hate that phrase even more this year.

Posted by James at 11:43 PM

Aces Full Of Links Official Oscar Pool

Yeah. I’m so goddamn excited.

No, I just can’t get very invested hits this year. I’ve been out of the “Oscarworthy” movie loop this year, preferring to stick to Asian films. So this year’s pool is slightly disgruntled, shifting the focus away from Best Picture (it’s not even on my pool list, so there).

Want to see what categories we are guessing on this year? Check it out:

Aces Full of Links Oscar Pool

Oh, alright. Here’s the list.

  • Best Actor
  • Best Actress
  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Original Score
  • Original Song
  • Visual Effects
  • Best Animated Feature Film
  • Best Documentary Feature
  • Best Animated Short

I will tally the results after the awards ceremony. The closest guesser will get some goofy prize, TBD. Void where prohibited by law.

Vote any time you like. Vote early and often. Only your latest vote will count. Make sure to include your name, so I know who the heck you are. In fact, and this is important, use your full name when voting. I will only display the first initial of your last name when referring to you on my blog. However, when you see that you have won you will need to contact me so that I know who to send the prize to. You’ll prove who you are by confirming your last name. (Obviously, close friends don’t really need to do this, as I know some of you very well, but use your name anyhow).

If you want a copy of your votes, make sure you enter your email address on the form. The guy that’s hosting the poll does not save any email addresses. He’s just a regular guy nice enough to host this silly thing.

If you would like to discuss the Academy Awards in the comments, knock yourself out. Even if it’s about how little you care.

I’ll close the voting on the Friday night that precedes the ceremony.

Vote or die!

Posted by James at 1:47 AM | Comments (11)