May 31, 2005

Book Meme

Ok. Steve tagged me with a book meme, so I guess I gotta.

Here’s where I look like a complete nerd.

# of books I own:

Funny story. K, my older daughter, was in the office the other day, counting. Counting, filing sorting, and categorizing things are often her idea of fun.

K: “34, 35, 36, 37, 38…”

Me: “K, what are you doing?”

K: “Counting the number of books in the house.”

Me: “You should be able to estimate. Figure out how many books are on each shelf and then multiply by shelves to get a rough estimate.”

K: “Oh.”

Me: “How far have you gotten. It sounded like, what, 39? 40?”

K: “Nine hundred and thirty-eight.”

Me: “Huh?”

K: “I’ve counted my bedroom, M’s bedroom, your bedroom and some of the office here.”

Me: “Ah.” I quickly scanned the bookshelves and made an estimate. “look, you don’t have to count all the books. If an estimate is good enough, why don’t we put it at 1,200.

K: “OK, Daddy.”

It’s around there. I hope we never have to move.

Last book I bought:

PHP, MySQL and Apache by Julie C. Meloni. Well, what did you expect?

Last book I read:

I used to read books cover to cover, before I had kids. I also used to read fiction for pleasure more often, historical fiction and just a better variety of books. The last book I finished was Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. That’s if you don’t count the Manga versions of the books that “Ringu” is based on. I’m currently in the middle of a number of books, including:

  • Positively Fifth Street by James McManus
  • Faithful by King and O’Nan
  • Philosophy for Dummies by Tom Morris
  • America the Book by Jon Stewart

Five Books that Mean A Lot to Me:

This is the part where I say “The Bible” and that Jesus is my favorite philosopher, right?

OK, I have to answer with a real answer, I guess. But I feel fiction and nonfiction are in separate categories. These aren’t necessarily my list of top-rated books. These books just mean something important to me.


  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa
  • Firestarter by Stephen King
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


  • The Ashley Book of Knots by Clifford Ashley.
  • The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan
  • The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Haden Elgin
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman
  • How to Really Fool Yourself : Illusions for All Your Senses by: Vicki Cobb
    • I’ve never read this book. I saw it in the store when I was a kid and wanted it badly. When I returned later, it was gone. I never saw it again and it went out of print. I believe it is back in print now, but I’ve still never seen it. But I certainly thought about that book a lot.

Comics/Graphic Novels

  • Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai
  • The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller et al.
  • Amazing Spider-Man #69 “Mission: Crush the Kingpin”
  • The Tick - Ben Edlund
  • TroubleSeekers Issue #1 - Anonymous

OK, I tag Chuck, Maggie to continue this meme. But if you have a blog and you read this, consider yourself tagged and trackback or comment link to your blog entry. If you have no blog you can plan just by leaving a comment.

Why the hell not?

Posted by James at 10:52 PM | Comments (32)

NotLongEnough Weekend

As the unofficial/official (depending on whom you speak to) kickoff of summer, Memorial Day weekend bodes well. Quite a bit was crammed into a small weekend space. Here’s the Reader’s Digest Version.

Friday Rivers and Needles

On Friday night, M and I were out and about scouting new geocache locations, and checking on my existing geocache.

There’s a particular spot I’ve known about that definitely needs a cache, but I didn’t know it well enough to plan one, and we got our first acquaintance with it on Friday. I think people get a little suspicious of you when they see you walking around with a video camera, but the video makes it a bit easier to remember site features when you’re back at home. Still photos are good for some things, but your brain puts together more of a sense of depth from a moving camera, and sometimes that’s important in understanding what you’re looking at.

On the other hand, wandering around with an 8-year-old puts people at ease. So it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other. The video in this post is among the copious footage we took.

In our travels, we happened upon a syringe under a rock. I called the police and waited there at dusk to show the officer where it was.

Saturday Caches and Lamb

Saturday morning was spent preparing for a trip to visit Bob and Patti.

It was an excellent visit. We had a hike along a beautiful trail as we sought the Dogs at Delaney cache. It was in a wet region, but the day was dry. When the warm sun hits the ground after a long rain it seems to lift all the scents of the trail into the air.

Back at the house, we lazed in the sunroom while Bob prepared us gin and tonics with Hendricks and cucumber (rather than lime). It is an impressive combination, and one I will be sure to attempt to recreate as soon as I find myself some Hendricks and some free time. Thanks for the introduction, Bob.

Bob also prepared an incredible meal of lamb and chicken shish kebab. As Patti remarked, if we were next door neighbors we’d all be significantly heavier. Their beautiful new kitchen renovation only makes matters worse. The more time spent in that beautiful and functional kitchen, the more calories would be prepared and consumed. I’m sure of it.

I’ve got “Morningstar Farms Veggie Bacon Strips” written in my PDA, which means I said I would try these. Now that I think of it, it might be worth putting together a side-by-side comparison of various nonmeat bacon products. Especially if I can rope other people in to giving their opinions in a blind test.

Eventually, we left the hospitality and great conversation at their house, but not before a trip to a local hand-made ice cream shop. The name escapes me.

That night, after some web searches and a look at the satellite picture, I noticed an undeveloped place in town I’d never seen before, even though I’d lived in the town my whole life. It was a place that looked ripe for a geocache.

Sunday Scouting and Sideways

In the morning I took the girls to scout this previously unknown area, and record waypoint coordinates suitable for hides. I won’t go on and on about it, but the trails, hidden in the midst of our town’s central residential area, offer a variety of things to look at and are a great place to walk around.

In the afternoon we had a family party for my cousin Rachael’s son.

Julie came by that evening and we ate steak, salad and Spanish rice. Sudden downpours meant we had to cook indoors, which is sub-optimal for steak. But we managed, marinating the stuff in beer which got mixed reviews. Cooking note: steak is best marinated in a beer with less hops character. No IPAs.

We watched Sideways which we seemed to agree was a well-made film, but we hated the main characters. I think you’re supposed to like one of the main characters by the end of the film, or at least pity him. I did pity him, but if he was supposed to go through some sort of transformative moment, I was hoping for something a lot more transformative than what we got.

However, the acting was brilliant.

We also got to watch an episode of Greg the Bunny (Julie supplied it) and I think that show met an untimely demise. It probably would have done better on Comedy Central.

Monday Parades and Such

Skimming right along, the girls were in a parade on Monday morning. The parade route goes by our house, so I cleaned the car while waiting for them to go by. Watching a parade alone is uncomfortable, because you feel like you have to wave at all the folks going by. I don’t mind waving at the veterans, but I hate waving at the politicians. The veterans don’t all have fakey looks on their faces.

Maggie worked in the yard all day, moving earth from one place to another in what was clearly hard labor. For my part, I spread weed and feed and Dursban which took a collective 20 minutes, probably.

K and I then went for a third scouting trip, and attempted to find a new, nearby cache that is hidden in a marsh. Both of us stepped in the marsh, filling our boots with water. However we didn’t give up until (running out of time) we realized we had what amounted to a deep stream between us and the cache. K was all for attempting to ford the stream, since we were already wet. But I believe the marsh was at least a couple of feet deep at that point. It won’t be so wet come August.

That was our weekend, in brief. Expect a post about a new geocache hide very soon…

Posted by James at 1:53 AM | Comments (31)

NTM: Hiatus

Sorry folks. Name That Movie will be on hiatus this week as I have been and will be too busy.

NTM will return next week.

Posted by James at 1:48 AM

May 30, 2005


Word of the week:


Travel around, through, or over, especially on foot


Posted by James at 10:04 PM | Comments (5)

May 29, 2005


Posted by James at 7:35 PM | Comments (8)

May 28, 2005

Spurlock Honored

I thought this was funny. Morgan Spurlock, creator of “Super Size Me,” was honored by a group in his hometown. However, Washington lobbyists petitioned the local chamber of commerce to reconsider because of the subject of Spurlock’s film.

Spurlock has gotten a copy of the letter and posted it on his blog.

Among the gems:
“… he slants the experiment to yield the results he wants. For example, rather than eating a variety of foods in normal-sized portions, Spurlock chooses to consume oversized sugary drinks, fattening entrees, desserts after most meals and snacks in between.”

Anyone who has seen the film knows that Spurlock only Super-Sized when he was asked to… and every time he was asked to. And anyone who has ever been to a fast food restaurant knows about the suggestive sell. “You want fries with that?”

This letter is amusing, but disingenuous at best. I’ll leave it to you to identify the other misrepresentations and inanities in the letter.

Posted by James at 11:32 AM | Comments (4)


You scored as Existentialist. Existentialism emphasizes human capability. There is no greater power interfering with life and thus it is up to us to make things happen. Sometimes considered a negative and depressing world view, your optimism towards human accomplishment is immense. Mankind is condemned to be free and must accept the responsibility.







Cultural Creative










What is Your World View? (updated)
created with

(thanks Ailsa)

Posted by James at 11:29 AM | Comments (9)

Taunton River

It’s stopped raining, and that gave M and I a chance to get out and see the sights of spring. We explored an infrequently-visited (by us anyway) location on the Taunton River and I stopped to take in a brief panorama of the place with my DV camera.

The results, a quick and dirty video, can be viewed here: The Taunotn River, looking East from the Western bank, just before sunset.

Posted by James at 1:05 AM

May 27, 2005

Noah's Shotgun

Float away on this, your Friday shotgun.

  • GPS Visualizer
    • This site takes all the work out of superimposing your GPS track files onto maps or satellite pictures. Just get the track file onto your computer by whatever means you have, then upload it to this site. It will generate a JPEG for you. There are a plethora of settings, if you want to get technical with it.
  • Disco Elevator (Video)
    • Here’s one way to make people use the stairs more.
  • Annoying Frog (Animated Video) (Dead Link)
    • This is a video containing that frog whose ringtone is all the rage in Europe. I can’t remember if we’ve already covered this subject, but here it is again just in case. This like is for the directory in which you will find the movie.
  • Cup Stacking (Video)
    • You will believe a girl can stack cups! And it’s pretty amazing.
  • (Shopping)
    • I found some pretty good deals here.
  • Kittenwar (Pointless)
    • Spend your day clicking the cuter kitten. Some people have found it difficult to stop.
  • Fix a Scratched CD (DIY)
    • The word is, Brasso rocks, for polishing purposes.
  • Mind Control (Video Anim)
    • Learn how to avoid mind control… form an otter.

It’s a short one for this week. I’m going to a character carnival.

Posted by James at 8:12 AM | Comments (9)

May 26, 2005

Goodbye Freedom Of Religion

Judge: Parents can’t teach pagan beliefs

The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth. […] “There is a discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones’ lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school. . . . Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon (the boy) as he ages,” the bureau said in its report.

You read that right. The kid’s parents have been ordered not to teach the child about the family’s religion.

Can’t we cut to the chase and just have these people burned? Oh, sorry for that fallacious slippery slope argument. That could never happen here.

Posted by James at 4:55 PM | Comments (23)

May 25, 2005

Name That Monkey

OK, it really should be “name that orangutan” or “name that ape” but can anyone here tell me:

  • What this ape’s name is and
  • Where you know it from.

I’m guessing not, but you might surprise me. Feel free to use Google.

Posted by James at 2:31 PM | Comments (16)

May 24, 2005

Not So Negligible Anymore, Just As Stupid

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid. - President Dwight D. Eisenhower, November 1954
Posted by James at 11:55 AM | Comments (2)

Swampy McSwamperson

I’m really swamped lately, folks. And though I seem to still be able to post to the blog, my attention is split and unfocused. I just want to mention that so that because a large percentage of the people I have daily interactions with can’t see me in person. Don’t even ask what later today is going to look like. It’s 1:30 — so much for resting up for the morning meeting. Bleh.

I just got back from my cousin’s where we launched a second batch of beer on the heels of our first, extremely successful brew. It is a nice break from doing so many virtual things.

If I weren’t pushed to do some of these things, my overriding reaction would be to go all hermity and retract into my shell. I guess that’s my comfort zone.

Well, you know what they say. “Some days you eat the bear. Some days, the bear eats you. But always dress for the hunt.”

And this early in the morning covered with sticky barley malt extract, that’s about as much sense as I’m going to make.

Posted by James at 10:05 AM | Comments (7)

Name That Movie 38

Instructions: see the clues, one by one. Guess what movie they are from. Comment. (Or for a bigger challenge, avoid the comments) Repeat.

On the day I post the images, I post them one at a time, with a delay in between. It’s for suspense and it gives the users a chance to play along with each other in the comments. If all the clues are already posted, then play at your own pace. Look for the answer in the comments.

Link to Clue 2

Link to Clue 3

Link to Clue 4

Link to Clue 5

Link to Clue 6

Link to Clue 7

Link to Clue 8
That’s all of ‘em!

Posted by James at 9:18 AM | Comments (52)

May 23, 2005



Originally uploaded by drmomentum.

Spanky, the spunky wonder bunny.

He’s angora!!!

Although, with a recent haircut you could probably say he’s now 20% less angora.

Sharon brought him to the office for a well-appreciated visit today. After getting used to the conference room (a process which included hiding under a media cart and sneezing at me) he hopped about and interacted with the wacky locals.

I even got some low-fi footage of Spanky up close.

Angora rabbits are cool.

Posted by James at 5:29 PM | Comments (3)

Musical Meanings Monday

You know I couldn’t have gone on too long with this game without hitting a Beatles song. Here’s a tough one to chew on.

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (excerpt)
The Beatles

She came in through the bathroom window
Protected by a silver spoon
But now she sucks her thumb and wanders
By the banks of her own lagoon

Didn’t anybody tell her?
Didn’t anybody see?
Sunday’s on the phone to Monday,
Tuesday’s on the phone to me.

I know what some of you are thinking. A lot of songs sound like nonsense. I could actually throw up a bunch of random words here, and while there would be no meaning in the choice of the words (other than some random algorithm run on a dictionary) the words might still evoke some sort of meaning to you.

So, if you despair of the author having any motivation at all to create a song with meaning, then simply give me what it has meant to you.

If you have some special insight into what McCartney was thinking, that’s great, too.

Posted by James at 9:06 AM | Comments (6)

May 22, 2005

ToU: "The Big Unit"

I’ve finally made my first contribution to Maggie’s concept blog “Thing of Ugly.”

So, Maggie elevating me to the role of “Contributor” is more than simply an ornamental title. I debut with “The Big Unit.”
Yeah, it’s pretty much about what it sounds like it’s about.

Posted by James at 5:55 PM

Dyspeptic Bunnies

Really for no other reason than that I can.

Hosted by Putfile.

Inspired by ULev.

Tasteless, yet timeless. Rabbits, lettuce, and methane gas. All perfectly natural.

Posted by James at 2:27 AM | Comments (4)

May 21, 2005

Remember That Guy?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve checked up online on people you used to know. A buddy from high school, ex-coworker, whatever.

Someone I vaguely remember (who I’m pretty certain has a website, but who I’ve never met in person) popped into my mind earlier, and I thought I’d check out whatever website he is hosting nowadays. He’s not someone I really saw eye-to-eye with on many issues, but I was curious.

And then I realized I couldn’t remember his name.

And then I thought: In lieu of any compelling reason to contact someone, if you can’t even remember that someone’s name, maybe that’s an indication of how unimportant that person was in your life. And maybe you should erase that mental file to make some more space.

Posted by James at 5:06 PM

May 20, 2005

Largest Casket Ever Made

Oversize casket company builds its biggest ever

“It’s sad more than anything,” Keith Davis said as he and his wife, Julane, and their two employees, the husband-wife team of Grant and Debby Hollingsworth, worked on the final details Thursday morning.

Well, yeah. It’s a casket, after all. But maybe Keith is referring to the size issue. His company caters to people needing oversized caskets.

This one, in particular, at 400 pounds, was intended to bury a 900 pound man. It’s a giant 7”3” square wooden box. The square shape is a design feature to accommodate the man’s legs, which do not come together.

Yow. That is one American Sized casket.

Posted by James at 5:31 PM

Star Wars Craziness Week

I don’t watch many TV shows, but of the few I do watch I was amused to see 2 unexpected reference to Star Wars apparently timed to coincide with the week of the release of the final film, Episode III.

At the end of Sunday’s Family Guy there was an extended end sequence which mimicked the famous medal ceremony scene from the end of the first movie, Episode VI.

On Wednesday night on Lost, there is a scene where Michael scolds Jin while they’re finishing up construction of the raft.

No, no, no! This one goes there, that one goes there.

It’s Han and Chewie from The Empire Strikes Back just before they leave Hoth.

Observed any well-timed Star Wars references this week? Or, heck, any Star Wars-related weirdness? Feel free to post it to the comments.

Posted by James at 9:13 AM | Comments (7)

Thing of Ugly

Extending the unstoppable Burke Media Empire further, I announce the launch of Thing Of Ugly. Tagline: “Surviving ugliness one post at a time.”

No other explanation is given at this time.

Posted by James at 9:01 AM | Comments (2)

This *Fully Operational* Shotgun

  • Silence of the Lambs Poster Surprise
    • Are you familiar with the hidden image in the Silence of the Lambs movie poster?
  • Grilling Tips
    • This guy’s blog post has a few very good tips for grilling a great steak.
  • Netflix Rental Statistics
    • This website contains a tool that will analyze your Netflix rental statistics for you, and provide a number of charts and tables.I’m not sure I agree with the “throttling” conclusions, but the graphs sure do look purty.
  • Sexy Killing Machine From The Future?
    • Or Natalie Portman? You make the call. My guess: Mannequin 3.
  • Cheap Gas Map
    • I think I already told you about Gas Buddy. Well, this other website hacks Google maps to show Gas Buddy data as pins on the map. Nifty!
  • Misinformation: Seeing Is Believing
    • research, […] suggests that once you’ve seen a news report, you may go on believing it, even if later information shows it to have been false.
  • Moss Graffiti
    • Paint with moss using this simple recipe which gardeners use to encourage moss growth.
  • CGI Girl
    • In my opinion you can still easily tell this is computer generated, but the quality of cgi is getting better and better. It won’t be long now until we have decent CGI movies with humans in them. But they’d better find a better plot than that Final Fantasy dreck.
  • Ringtone Dancer
    • This is your WTF? link for the day. Some strange costumed fellow dancing to an annoying ringtone.
    • Your head a-splode.
  • Star Wars “Last Supper”
    • Suitable for framing.
  • “UFO” Google Map
    • Unexplained object appearing on a Google map. Unidentified, but no proof it’s flying. Weather balloons, perhaps?
    • See the comments of that weblog post for more such images.
    • Also, more comments on the UFO Update thread.
  • Click His Face
    • Click it. Click it good. Why make your own funny faces when you can get someone else to do it for you?
  • Borders Coupon - 25% Off
    • Save 25% off one book at Borders.
    • If you have an aversion to saving money, you can always throw the 25% you saved out the car window on the way home. Har.
  • President Was In Danger From Grenade
    • Remember that grenade we were told was no threat to the president? Whoops, he was only lucky it malfunctioned. And someone did throw it.
  • All Bacon Sandwich
    • Sorry, no particular reason for this link. I just like the pictures. Mmmm. Bacon. Saints preserve us.


  • I Hate Dimes
    • A must-click, just for the frightening interactive animated baby picture.
    • Thanks, Bob McC
  • Necoro: Robot Cat
    • This japanese robot cat toy is twitchingly cute, and looks like it could go Terminator on you at any moment.
Posted by James at 9:00 AM | Comments (8)

May 19, 2005

Revenge of the Sith Quick Take

Much better than the first two prequels. Yes, it’s full of great action, but Lucas finally has a prequel in which you can connect with the emotions of the characters. More later, maybe.

Posted by James at 8:49 AM | Comments (9)

Unpopular Cacher Acronyms

There’s a micro-sized humor piece for geocachers over at TrackerJim.

Posted by James at 8:48 AM

May 18, 2005

Star Wars Ep III Tomorrow

So, Star Wars Episode III is opening tomorrow amid decent reviews. My expectations can be classified as guarded.

OK, I lie. I let them creep up above that. Damn - I was trying to keep them low!

In any case, I don’t feel emotional about the end of Lucas’ 6 movie series (not a the moment — ask agan in the theatre) but we’ve been watching the original 3 films with the kids, and they seem to love them. 1/3 of each movie per night works out well on a school night, and they’re structured in such a way that they lend themselves to serialization.

You know. “When we last left our friends, they had just escaped the Imperial attack on the ice planet Hoth…”

We haven’t taken the kids to see any of the new prequels, and this one is no different. We’ll be going while the kids are in school.

I know some of you couldn’t care less about Star Wars, but before I decided that Indiana Jones was the pinnacle of cinematic adventure, my friends and I were crazy about Star Wars, so there’s a healthy dose of childhood nostalgia messing with my mind when I show up at one of these films.

Not to the point where I dress up, ‘cause I’ve never been the dressing-up type. But, you know.

Posted by James at 9:53 AM | Comments (10)

May 17, 2005

Name That Movie 37

Instructions: see the clues, one by one. Guess what movie they are from. Comment. (Or for a bigger challenge, avoid the comments) Repeat.

On the day I post the images, I post them one at a time, with a delay in between. It’s for suspense and it gives the users a chance to play along with each other in the comments. If all the clues are already posted, then play at your own pace. Look for the answer in the comments.

Link to Clue 2

Link to Clue 3

Link to Clue 4

Link to Clue 5

Link to Clue 6

Link to Clue 7

Link to Clue 8

That’s all of ‘em!

Posted by James at 8:48 AM | Comments (25)

May 16, 2005

Musical Meanings Monday

Diggin back to the 80’s for this one. What’s it all mean? What’s it mean to you? Why do you think it means what you think it means?

What’s a “cyclone ranger?”

Turning Japanese (excerpt)
The Vapors

I’ve got your picture of me and you
You wrote “I love you” I wrote “me too”
I sit there staring and there’s nothing else to do
Oh it’s in color
Your hair is brown
Your eyes are hazel
And soft as clouds
I often kiss you when there’s no one else around

Interpret away.

Links to the lyrics: Here and Here.

Posted by James at 12:19 PM | Comments (20)

Tracker Jim

I’ve launched a new website for geocaching.

Tracker Jim’s Geocaching Outpost

At the moment it’s just a blog (with a layout I slapped together quickly from other people’s templates and my own images), and is still under development with more planned. I’ll continue to post the personal stuff here. Geocaching news items (which I never really posted here) will go there. Articles about geocaching, if I write any, will go there, and I’ll just link to them from here since I would have previously posted them here.

For the techies, this is also my attempt at using WordPress instead of Movable Type and I like it a lot so far. Almost to the point where I’d consider converting this weblog over to using WordPress. But, I’m trying to limit myself to only 50 projects at a time right now.

Posted by James at 9:38 AM

May 13, 2005

Hit Me With Your Best Shotgun

I’m doing this in a hurry today, so I’m going to have to apologize in advance for not remembering where I got any of these links.

  • Critical Thinking Mini-Lessons
    • Just what it sounds like. Lessons to help you be more selective about what you allow into your brain.
  • Bad Moves
    • On the other hand, this philosopher’s site highlights arguments that are often made badly, but persuasively. Valuable reading if you argue.
  • Parking Battle of the Sexes
    • Almost as much fun as parking real cars. Flash game. [hat tip]
  • Traffic Waves
    • Learn about the patterns that cause traffic on this web page. [hat tip]
  • Darth Vader Sprinkler
    • Because the Sith hate a dry lawn.
  • Darwin Has a Posse
    • These stickers and bookmarks are being introduced to increase awareness and appreciation of Charles Darwin. His theory of natural selection provided a simple, non-supernatural explanation for how life on earth had evolved and continues to evolve. […] To provide some of the needed visible support for science and reason, please consider distributing Darwin-themed bookmarks to your geeky friends, or by stickering something with his image. Sure, these efforts are probably completely futile, but wouldn’t you sleep better tonight knowing that you’ve done your part to delay our slip into Dark Ages II? Instructions and tips can be found below. Thanks!
  • Mega-Ribon
    • You support the troops? Well I REALLY support the troops. Just look at my mega-ribbon. Your wimpy ribbon has just been served.
  • Treat Your Mother Right
    • As this video proves, Mr. T wants you to treat your mother right. Video file.
  • Test From The Future
    • A sample from the 2015 SATs.
    • Global temperatures have risen 1 degree F since 2004. This is due to: A. the greenhouse effect; B. unsound science; C. the Clinton administration; D. gays
  • Omnipelagos (meandering search engine)
    • Omnipelagos finds the shortest paths between any two things.
    • Fun. Choose any two things. Go ahead. Now see the connections. Connections… where have I heard that before?
  • This to That
    • Advice on how to glue… this to that. Enter this and that and it tells you what to use.
  • Squirrel Nested-Shotgun:
  • Worldometers
    • Watch the world go by, in numbers.
    • Watch the population grow!
  • Firefox Geocache Quicksearch Plugin
    • Search for caches right in your Firefox search box.
    • While you’re updating, I’d make sure you’ve got the most recent Firefox security update. There were some serious vulnerabilities fixed. Great quick response from the Firefox developers!

And, here’s a “Heads Up” on next week’s Musical Meanings Monday so that you can listen to it over the weekend. For next week’s song we will give our opinions about The Vapors’ 80’s tune “Turning Japanese.”

Posted by James at 11:26 AM | Comments (9)

May 12, 2005

Happy 50

Without realizing it (I thought I was one short) I hunted my 50th geocache today.

I won’t go into too much detail about the cache itself — it was a fun multi-cache for which the owner had decided to place several “decoy” piles of sticks near the final cache to distract cache hunters. Experienced geocachers can often see a cache from many yards away even while geomuggles (noncachers) walk right by them.

But an experienced hider can leave the same sort of evidence in a number of places, confounding the hunter (or, in our case, entertaining and amusing us). I couldn’t resist leaving my own distraction in the area, a few feet away.

No, I can’t resist that sort of thing.

Posted by James at 7:40 PM | Comments (1)

Why I Hate Dieting

I ate an orange for breakfast, and they had closed the excellent salad counter by the time Sara and I had gotten to the campus center.

I scrounged some lunch food in my office including some old surimi, some canned tuna and a handful of dry frosted mini-wheats. And some wrinkled grape tomatoes. And a handful of Bac-Os.

So I am low on fuel. Diet Vanilla Coke does not a lunch make.

If anything remotely appetizing comes within reach, I swear I’m going to eat it.

Posted by James at 4:14 PM | Comments (13)

Geocaching: Trade Items

Time for a geocaching gripe. Yep, that’s where I express my opinion and you either read it and say “what’s James got a bug up his but about? He needs some Valium.” or you say “Yeah, I can see why he finds that annoying.”

I’m annoyed because of how some geocachers will take trade items from a cache and not make much of an effort to place something halfway cool back in the cache. Folks, we’re not talking rocket science here, and we’re not talking about saving up several months pay to get just the right emerald-encrusted nose ring so you can leave it as a trade item. I’m talking about experienced cachers showing some courtesy for the next person and the cache owner.

Details and advice follow.

I think trade items are cool. What I’m talking about are little trinkets and objects that are placed in geocaches for other cachers to find. A geocache usually starts with a number of trade items in it. The owner wants people to say “Cool!” when they open the cache. Hidden treasure adds to the whole experience.

Cachers are supposed to find these items and make some small trades. A trade is when you take something and you leave something.

Over time, a cache usually becomes more and more pathetic in the trade items it offers. People don’t always make even trades, and it only takes a few people placing junk in a cache before it really goes downhill. Cache owners will sometimes replenish a cache. Or a cache owner will be forced to remove a bunch of undesirable junk from a cache. In my short experience caching, I have seen the opposite happen - a cache increase in trade item wealth over a few weeks. But it’s been the rare case. As a rule, if you see a cache was placed 2 years ago, it’s full of junk.

The real fun is in the hunt, but i recognize the role trade items play. I’ll replenish a cache a little bit if I can sometimes. I carry trinkets with me but usually not enough to really rehabilitate a seriously paltry cache. And when I cache with my kids, each kid wants to take something. They don’t tend to bring trade items with them, so I end up putting a bunch of things in there anyway, because they are each taking something.

Bear in mind, my peeves do not apply to new cachers. If you’ve found fewer than 10 caches, I expect you don’t really know what’s going on yet and you might have never even heard the term “McToy” (that’s a derogatory term for a toy from McDonalds or the like left in a cache). I left my share of McToys in my first few finds before realizing that they were considered a scourge. Live and learn. If you’re finding 10 caches in one day, or you’re an adult whose number of cache conquests exceeds half your age, I expect you to know better. Here we go.

  1. For the record, I don’t mind seeing McToys in caches. Yeah, they’re trashy, but the kids like them. Especially if the cache is fairly well stocked, a McToy or two is not a big deal. So this is really a “use your discretion” type situation.However, if a cache is full of “McToys” don’t add more. Put something neat in there for the adults. A light stick, key chain, hand warmer or whatever — maybe some craft you made yourself which is unique.
  2. A travel bug is not a trade item. If you leave a travel bug, yes it’s going to be nice for the next person to find, but he can’t keep it. If you leave a travel bug and take a trade item, that’s a net loss for the cache, since people generally take travel bugs to move them along in their missions, not as trades.
  3. If you don’t have anything to trade “TNLNSL” is a fine thing to write. It means “took nothing, left nothing, signed logbook.” You found a cache, not a general store. Just be happy you found it. Maybe take a picture of yourself with the cache if you want something to remember it by. Don’t be a trade item vampire and suck the life out of the cache.
  4. Nobody is asking you to spend a fortune. You want to get off really cheaply? Buy a box of zip lock bags, some twist ties, some supermarket plastic bags and maybe some old pencil stubs or golf pencils. Cut up pages of lined paper and staple them together to form small books.
    1. Many of the older caches you encounter will be full of mostly junk and at the same time (coincidentally!) they will be in need of maintenance. Replace the zip lock bag in a cache that’s deteriorating in a wet area.
    2. Replace worn pencils.
    3. Roll up the supermarket bag, fasten it with a twist-tie and call it a CITO bag in the logbook. Use another one of your plastic bags to pick up trash in the area, hike out with it and dispose of it properly. You’ve just “Cached-In and Trashed-Out.” When you log your find on the website, mention how much trash you removed and note that you left a plastic bag there for the next person to do likewise and keep the cache site clean. You’re not leaving a fun trade item, but at least you’re encouraging good treatment of the environment.
    4. Replace a worn or full logbook with your stapled pages.
    5. Alternately, put the stapled pages and pencil in the zip lock and call it a “cache starter kit.” Either someone will take it and use it as the logbook for their own cache hide, or they might use it to rehabilitate this cache at some time in the future. Or, who knows, they could take it and use it to do maintenance on the next cache they find.
    6. If you leave one of these useful but cheap items, take something of low value in trade. You’re getting off cheaply to participate, not to exploit. But if you’re working to rehabilitate a cache, you’ll have the respect and gratitude of the cache owner and subsequent cache hunters. No one will care if you take a trade item after doing all that work.
  5. You’d be surprised what you can find at the dollar store that can go in a cache. I’ve gotten dice, neat toys, DVDs of old cartoons, radios, glow-in-the-dark skeletons and the like.
  6. Sometimes it’s just fun to carry a neat item for a while. If you make an uneven trade just because you see something you can’t resist, why not trade it back into another cache later. This way, it reenters the cachosphere and you got to play with it for a while. I re-cache items quite a bit. Some items are just too much fun to not take a prolonged closer look at.After a while, back they go. I’ve even returned items back to their original cache.
  7. I tied some monkey’s fist knots and left those in a few caches. People like those. Do you do something that is unusual, or that other people appreciate? Make something cool and leave it for other people. No one cares if an item is cheap if you made it yourself with sincere effort. Just like when you hand-made a greeting card for your mom. Really. People recognize sincere effort.
  8. Don’t complain about what’s in the cache. You found it. You won. Go have a beer and relax. No one cares that you don’t like the prizes. Presumably, you’re an adult. Drop a quarter in a gum ball machine if you need to drown your sorrows.

This is turning more into advice than griping. Which, I guess, could actually be productive if I turned this into an article on “trading for fun, not profit.” For now, it’s late, I’m tired and I’ll end this just saying: your trades aren’t always going to be even. No big deal. But make a teeny bit of effort to prevent the caches you visit from looking like the inside of the glove compartment of a car in a junkyard. If TNLNSL isn’t your style, keep your eyes peeled for cool stuff on those days you can’t be out actually geocaching.

Have fun, and help other people keep having fun!

Posted by James at 2:15 AM | Comments (10)

May 10, 2005

Microsoft Funding Religious Right Leader

Now, just think a minute. Microsoft finds itself under criticism from the local evangelical leader, religious right shareholders, bigoted employees and who knows who else. They don’t know what to do. Who do they turn to? Well, if I’m in a religious right pickle, I’d turn to my $20,000 a month retainered religious right consultant, the former leader of the religious right, Ralph Reed.

So glad I use Microsoft products. Grrrrrr.

Posted by James at 11:45 PM | Comments (1)

Nerd Blog Meme

I am nerdier than 81% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!
Posted by James at 7:37 PM | Comments (28)

Name That Movie 36

Instructions: see the clues, one by one. Guess what movie they are from. Comment. (Or for a bigger challenge, avoid the comments) Repeat.

On the day I post the images, I post them one at a time, with a delay in between. It’s for suspense and it gives the users a chance to play along with each other in the comments. If all the clues are already posted, then play at your own pace. Look for the answer in the comments.

Link to Clue 2

Link to Clue 3

Link to Clue 4

Link to Clue 5

Link to Clue 6

Link to Clue 7

That’s all of ‘em!

Posted by James at 9:26 AM | Comments (52)

May 9, 2005

Musical Meanings Monday

What does it all mean?

On Musical Meanings Monday we explore the meaning of a song. I’ll post the song, and you tell me what you think it means. It could be what you think the author meant or what it means to you (because who can tell what the author really meant unless they come right out and say it?)

Here’s today’s song. The lyrics can be found at the links below, but I have pasted it here for your critical review for the duration of the day. Friends can also ask me to play the song for them if they have not heard it.

Polyester Bride
Liz Phair (excerpt)

I was talking, not two days ago
To a certain bartender I’m lucky to know
And I asked Henry, my bartending friend
If I should bother dating unfamous men

And Henry said,
“You’re lucky to even know me,
You’re lucky to be alive.
You’re lucky to be drinking here for free,
‘cause I’m a sucker for your lucky, pretty eyes.”

And then he said,
“Do you wanna be a polyester bride?
Or do you want to hang your head and die?
Do you want to find alligator cowboy boots they just put on sale?
Do you want to flap your wings and fly away from here?”

(Lyrics copyright of their owners, here for educational and critical review purposes only. Lyrics also available here. I will remove the lyric if contacted with copyright concerns.)

OK, guys. What is this song about? What is Henry trying to tell her (us). Or is it all a metaphor to you? Or, do you hear some of the lyrics differently than I have written here?

Let me know what you think.

Posted by James at 10:18 AM | Comments (21)

May 8, 2005

Word of the Week: Barmy

This week’s word of the week:


Meaning foamy, or filled with foam. Also meaning eccentric, wacky, daft.

“Martha, have you noticed that the new student researcher we hired is completely barmy?”

“Quite. The green, pink and orange tartan kilt was a dead giveaway.”

“Barmy” is a good thing, right? Anyhow, be sure to use it often.

Posted by James at 8:07 PM | Comments (6)

May 6, 2005

Mimosa Morning Meeting Shotgun

On busy weeks (as this one has been) I do less surfing and seeking out fun links. So you’re more likely to get the techie and boring stuff that I’m looking at. Just so’s you know.

  • Tips to Buy a Domain Name Successfully
    • Some thoughtful person gives you the ins and outs of your first purchase of your own domain name. Maybe you think you don’t need one (and maybe you don’t). But I always forget which one is “domain forwarding” and which one is “domain masking” and this guy has written a decent quick guide. Bet he’s making decent coin off the ads, too.
  • YouSendIt
    • Want to send someone a large file and you don’t want to send it via emai? Is it too big for dropload’s 100 MB limit? Try YouSendIt. The limit there is 1GB.
  • Colin Rejected by 70 yr-old
    • MOVIE bad boy Colin Farrell tried to bed a 70-YEAR-OLD actress, it emerged last night.
    • “Tried” is the operative word. BobMcC sent this along, and it made my morning the other day.
  • Time Management for Anarchists
    • This is a cool little video, not really for political anarchists, but rather for people whose lives are filled with anarchy. How do you impose a structure on yourself that can enhance your life?
  • How a Bookmaker and a Whiz Kid Took On an Extortionist — and Won
    • The e-mail began, “Your site is under attack,” and it gave Mickey Richardson two choices: “You can send us $40K by Western Union [and] your site will be protected not just this weekend but for the next 12 months,” or, “If you choose not to pay…you will be under attack each weekend for the next 20 weeks, or until you close your doors.”
    • Online extortion happens. Find out what these guys did about it.Thanks for the link, Sharon.
  • Make Your Own Marshmallows
    • If most of the world exploded, you could be the one person left alive with the knowledge of how to make marshmallows. But you’ll have to practice in your kitchen first.
  • PaperNapkin Rejection Service
    • Want to give someone at a bar the internet brush-off? This site will tell you how to give them an email address (write it on a paper napkin!) that will send them a pretty clear rejection.
  • Geobloggers
    • Tagging Flickr photos so they can be placed geographically.
    • The upshot is, type in a latitude and longitude and see the images from that area tagged on top of a hacked Google map.It’s pretty darn neat.
    • Try it with lat=41.723, lon=-71.155 Zoom in to see my pictures of the bridge.
  • GasBuddy
    • Find the cheapest gas-prices in your area. The data is user-provided. You, too, can volunteer data.
  • - Free receive-only email
    • Like Mailinator, if you need to give out an email address to receive information, but don’t want to give out YOUR email address, just make one up on the fly at It’s explained here. Better than Mailinator, you can then subscribe to that email address by RSS feed! So, watch it in Bloglines.
  • JibJab’s Matzah
    • Yeah. A song about the stuff.
  • Paper Cup Races
    • It’s a flash game where you race on paper airplanes. Hey, it’s Friday.
  • FreePhotoshop
    • Reviews and Freeware downloads related to photoshopping.
  • MadPhysics
    • These guys like to talk about physics and play with experiments which demonstrate concepts in physics.
    • The Physics of Glowsticks? Ooray for chemiluminescence!
    • If you can, work the word “chemiluminesce” into conversation today. “Martha, I do believe that your eyes are positively chemiluminescing this evening.”


  • SmartStick
    • Flash Game! With stick figures! Waste some time, you deserve it today!
Posted by James at 11:32 AM | Comments (3)

May 5, 2005

Ways To Live Longer

This Forbes Article discusses 10 ways you can help increase your life expectancy.

Among them, the oft-touted “calm down,” “get a dog,” and “eat your antioxidants.” Winning the “Duhhhh” award is “stop smoking.”

The libidinous among us will be happy to know that more sex increases your life expectancy. Certainly, this will be good news to the people who don’t like vegetables and are looking for an alternative.

Also of interest, studies show that sleeping too much or too little lowers life expectancy. More than 8 hours is not good, but neither is 4 or fewer. I usually get about 5, myself.

Finally, they mention a VAP test, an apparently far more accurate test to measure your risk of heart disease. How can a test like this help you? The risk factors are cumulative over time. The sooner you find out you are at risk, the sooner you can get serious about making the sorts of changes that lower your risk, and the more effective those efforts will be.

It’s like trying to stop a freight train going 200 MPH. It’s easier to stop it if you start slowing down 5 miles away from the target than it is if you try to stop it in a few hundred feet.

I want my friends to stick around for a while.

Posted by James at 4:59 PM | Comments (4)

May 3, 2005


Liger on Public Display in Siberian Zoo

A liger — a cross between a tiger and a lion — that was born last summer has now gone on public display in an open-air enclosure at a Siberian zoo, RIA Novosti reports.

Or, from Napoleon Dynamite:

Deb: What are you drawing?
Napoleon Dynamite: A liger.
Deb: What’s a liger?
Napoleon Dynamite: It’s pretty much my favorite animal. It’s like a lion and a tiger mixed… bred for its skills in magic.

Posted by James at 4:45 PM | Comments (1)

Name That Movie 35

Another Name That Movie, released upon an adoring public! The madness continues.

Instructions: see the clues, one by one. Guess what movie they are from. Comment. (Or for a bigger challenge, avoid the comments) Repeat.

On the day I post the images, I post them one at a time, with a delay in between. It’s for suspense and it gives the users a chance to play along with each other in the comments. If all the clues are already posted, then play at your own pace. Look for the answer in the comments.

Link to Clue 2

Link to Clue 3

Link to Clue 4

Link to Clue 5

Link to Clue 6

Link to Clue 7

Link to Clue 8

That’s it for the clues!

Posted by James at 8:08 AM | Comments (30)

May 2, 2005

Boulder Trail Girls

Boulder Trail Girls

Originally uploaded by drmomentum.

I’ve been experimenting with a laborious “cartoonificaiton” technique in Photoshop. Here’s a cartoon image of the girls hot on the trail of a geocache.

Check out my Flickr account for a few other images, including my semi-famous hitman-like rearview mirror image.

Posted by James at 10:26 PM

Family Guy Night

Sunday night was the premiere of the new season of “Family Guy.”

If you don’t know what “Family Guy” is, then let me welcome you to my blog, because it’s likely you’re new here.

Last week we decided to make a night of it. Our earlier plans for this weekend had fallen through, so we replaced them with a small Family Guy gathering. Sara, Sharon, Julie, Mike, Maggie and I started the evening out with drunken summer sausage and various fermented beverages while dinner readied itself (oven roasted Italian-style veggies and mesquite-smoked chicken breast burgers). Time flew.

After dinner, Ryan surprised us, showing up after a day of wedding rehearsal obligations. None of our plans to help him escape were needed, as it turned out that the events completed in plenty of time for him to make it.

More cider and beer was imbibed as we played a quick few rounds of Apple to Apples. That game always cracks me up, but I was the loser of the bunch with no green cards to my name by the time 9PM rolled around.

The first new episode of Family Guy was a definite success.

Peter tried to rekindle the spark of his marriage to Lois by taking her on a second honeymoon. They sneak into Mel Gibson’s private hotel room (because he rarely uses it) and stumble across Gibson’s footage for The Passion of the Christ II: Crucify This! (Cue action music. “Let he who is without sin… kick the first ass!”) Starring Chris Tucker and that guy who played Jesus in the first Passion movie.

Bent on sparing the world this abomination, they steal the film and the chase is on.

Meanwhile, Brian (the dog) has been left in charge of the children. That doesn’t work out so well, as Chris is caught in the bathroom at the school dance with a bottle of vodka (just before GI Joe warns them about alcohol, and that knowing is half the battle)

This first new “Family Guy” is extremely promising. The characters are still great, and the jokes are still coming fast and furious. “Family Guy” is as good as ever.

After the show, we watched “American Dad,” which just wasn’t as good as “Family Guy.” I’d really prefer more “Arrested Development.”

To wind down from all the excitement, we had the traditional ice cream and peanut butter cups along with a game of “Loaded Questions.” I revealed my fondness for groundhogs, Sharon her fondness for Koalas. We all avoided the question about where our birthmarks were, and Sara’s laugh spot was located. Maggie killed Dr. Kevorkian by trying to resurrect him. Julie and Sharon both seem to like Tom Jones, and Ryan and I agree on Barry White. Mike is still working on guessing musical tastes by age, but I think he’s got something there. Is the island of Homos part of Greece? Only the Angel of Death knows.

Finally, we let everyone go home. It was a great way to kick of the new season of a show we’ve waited 4 years for.

Posted by James at 12:29 AM | Comments (4)