Saturday, December 29, 2007

Feeling Blue?


From Science Daily



Blue-blocking Glasses To Improve Sleep And ADHD Symptoms Developed

ScienceDaily (Nov. 14, 2007) — Scientists at John Carroll University, working in its Lighting Innovations Institute, have developed an affordable accessory that appears to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Their discovery also has also been shown to improve sleep patterns among people who have difficulty falling asleep. The John Carroll researchers have created glasses designed to block blue light, therefore altering a person's circadian rhythm, which leads to improvement in ADHD symptoms and sleep disorders.

How the Glasses Work?

The individual puts on the glasses a couple of hours ahead of bedtime, advancing the circadian rhythm. The special glasses block the blue rays that cause a delay in the start of the flow of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Normally, melatonin flow doesn't begin until after the individual goes into darkness.

Studies indicate that promoting the earlier release of melatonin results in a marked decline of ADHD symptoms.



Read the rest here.

Play Shuffle


Shuffle


Mozilla Thanks You, May You RIP


From SF Gate:



AOL Pulls Plug on Netscape Web Browser

By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer

Friday, December 28, 2007

(12-28) 14:10 PST NEW YORK, (AP) --

Netscape Navigator, the world's first commercial Web browser and the launch pad of the Internet boom, will be pulled off life support Feb. 1 after a 13-year run.

Its current caretakers, Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, decided to kill further development and technical support to focus on growing the company as an advertising business. Netscape's usage dwindled with Microsoft Corp.'s entry into the browser business, and Netscape all but faded away following the birth of its open-source cousin, Firefox.

"While internal groups within AOL have invested a great deal of time and energy in attempting to revive Netscape Navigator, these efforts have not been successful in gaining market share from Microsoft's Internet Explorer," Netscape Director Tom Drapeau wrote in a blog entry Friday.

In recent years, Netscape has been little more than a repackaged version of the more popular Firefox, which commands about 10 percent of the Web browser market, with almost all of the rest going to Internet Explorer.

People will still be able to download and use the Netscape browser indefinitely, but AOL will stop releasing security and other updates on Feb. 1. Drapeau recommended that the small pool of Netscape users download Firefox instead.

A separate Netscape Web portal, which has had several incarnations in recent years, will continue to operate.





Read the rest here.

It's All BS To Me


From The Onion:


Poll: Bullsh*t Is Most Important Issue For 2008 Voters


For a majority of likely voters, meaningless bullsh*t will be the most important factor in deciding who they will vote for in 2008.

Should Have Bought Apple Stock


From NY Times:



Inside Apple Stores, a Certain Aura Enchants the Faithful

December 27, 2007

By KATIE HAFNER

It was 2 o’clock in the morning but in the subterranean retailing mecca in Midtown Manhattan, otherwise known as the Apple store, it might as well have been midafternoon.

Late one night shortly before Christmas, parents pushed strollers and tourists straight off the plane mingled with nocturnal New Yorkers, clicking through iPod playlists, cruising the Internet on MacBooks, and touch-padding their way around iPhones.

And through the night, cheerful sales staff stayed busy, ringing up customers at the main checkout counter and on hand-held devices in an uninterrupted stream of brick-and-mortar commerce.

The party inside that store and in 203 other Apple stores around the world is one reason the company’s stock is up nearly 135 percent for the year. By contrast, high-flying Google is up about 52 percent, while the tech-dominated Nasdaq index is up 12 percent.

The popularity of the iPhone and iPod and the intended halo effect those products have had on sales of Apple computers are behind Apple’s vigor. But the company’s success in retailing, as other competitors struggle to eke out sales growth, has been the bonus.

Apple now derives 20 percent of its revenue from its physical stores. And the number is growing. In the fourth quarter in 2007, which ended Sept. 30, Apple reported that the retail stores accounted for $1.25 billion of Apple’s $6.2 billion in revenues, a 42 percent increase over the fourth quarter in 2006.

Apple stores generate sales at the rate of about $4,000 per square foot a year, according to a report last year by Sanford C. Bernstein analysts.

As other electronics makers like Dell, Nokia and Sony still struggle to find the right retail formula, Apple seems to have perfected it.



Read the rest here.

The Death Of High Fidelity


From Rolling Stone:



The Death of High Fidelity

In the age of MP3s, sound quality is worse than ever

ROBERT LEVINE

Posted Dec 26, 2007 1:27 PM

David Bendeth, a producer who works with rock bands like Hawthorne Heights and Paramore, knows that the albums he makes are often played through tiny computer speakers by fans who are busy surfing the Internet. So he's not surprised when record labels ask the mastering engineers who work on his CDs to crank up the sound levels so high that even the soft parts sound loud.

Over the past decade and a half, a revolution in recording technology has changed the way albums are produced, mixed and mastered — almost always for the worse. "They make it loud to get [listeners'] attention," Bendeth says. Engineers do that by applying dynamic range compression, which reduces the difference between the loudest and softest sounds in a song. Like many of his peers, Bendeth believes that relying too much on this effect can obscure sonic detail, rob music of its emotional power and leave listeners with what engineers call ear fatigue. "I think most everything is mastered a little too loud," Bendeth says. "The industry decided that it's a volume contest."

Producers and engineers call this "the loudness war," and it has changed the way almost every new pop and rock album sounds. But volume isn't the only issue. Computer programs like Pro Tools, which let audio engineers manipulate sound the way a word processor edits text, make musicians sound unnaturally perfect. And today's listeners consume an increasing amount of music on MP3, which eliminates much of the data from the original CD file and can leave music sounding tinny or hollow. "With all the technical innovation, music sounds worse," says Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, who has made what are considered some of the best-sounding records of all time. "God is in the details. But there are no details anymore."



Read the rest here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Paralamas




'Meu Erro' (live)
Paralamas

+++++




'Ela Disse Adeus'
Paralamas

+++++




'Oculos' (live)
Paralamas

+++++


End-Of-Year Borrowed Meme


1) Where did you begin 2007?

At home. I think Mrs. Muzzy had to work New Year's Day, so we were asleep by the midnight hour. I took the girls to the zoo on NYD proper.

2) What was your status by Valentine's Day?

Married.

3) Were you in school (anytime this year)?

No. I took a couple of classes thru work, and did some trainings, but I was not actually in school.

4) How did you earn your money?

As a wage slave, for local government.

5) Did you have to go to the hospital?

Just to visit family and friends, a couple of weeks ago, to visit my SIL, who'd just given birth to my newest niece.

(Oh, I almost forgot: I was admitted to Saint Paul Regions hospital emergency room in May with chest pains, but it was ruled to *not* be a cardiac event, and after a few hours I was discharged without any further complications.)

6) Did you have any encounters with the police?

Only to ask directions.

7) Where did you go on holiday?

Up North to Duluth - Minnesota's inland sea port - with the family, in October. Twas a nice time.

8) What did you purchase that was over $1000?

Honestly? I don't know if I *did* purchase anything that expensive, though there have been alot of expenses that have set me/us back nearly that much: dental crowns, car repairs, trip to Duluth, that sort of thing. but I'm about to purchase a new Macbook, which should cost me a little over a grand.

9) Did you know anybody who got married?

Yeah, a co-worker is now in his post-divorce second marriage. He didn't tell anyone here about it for several months. (I'm in an age bracket where nearly everyone I know is either married, divorced and/or remarried - and in some cases, redivorced - and their kids are mostly too young to be married yet.)

10) Did you know anybody who passed away?

Well, a couple of former co-workers died this past summer, within days of each other: one was only 49 years of age, died suddenly, of an aneurism. It was a shock. I hadn't seen her in a long time, but we had been in the same unit years ago. And even though I didn't know anyone who died in the Bridge Collapse, that event last August just devastated me.

12) Did you move anywhere?

Nup. I'm probably going to live and die where I'm planted, right here in Minnesohcold. I'm not absolutely set on staying here for life, and I could be induced to move, but I can't really envision doing so at this stage of my life.

14) What concerts/shows did you go to?

Hmmm. Last February I saw a young local piano virtuoso performing an impressive program at church, in June I took the girls to see the Teddy Bear Band, and of course I attended my daughters' various church choir programs.

15) Are you registered to vote?

In Minnesota voting is not compulsory, and one can register at the polls, so it's no big deal, but yes, I am registered.

16) Who did you want to win Big Brother?

I haven't watched since the very first American season, and I've only watched random episodes from other countries, on the Interweb. I don't even know when it runs anymore.

17) Where do you live now?

In Minnesohcold, in the Twin Cities, in an leafy inner-ring suburb.

18) Describe your birthday.

It was pretty low-key. I worked that day, and someone brought in a cake, I think, but the team didn't take me out to lunch till later in the month, and family party wasn't until a couple of weeks later. I *did* go out with friends for supper that evening and had an enjoyable time. Gifts? I got a few nice presents: a hand-picked collection of tunes and a cool photo of a birthday cake, a couple of gift cards, a keyboard for my Palm Pilot, a new power supply for my iBook, some books and a DVD, and a bottle of wine. Mrs. Muzzy gave me some money toward the purchase of piece of recording equipment that's never been brought to market, so I'm just going to use it towards my next laptop.

19) What's one thing you thought you'd never do but did in 2007?

Turned 50.

Don't laugh, I'm serious. For the longest time I was pretty sure that I wouldn't live this long, especially after my dad died at about this age. Thing is, I saw quite a bit more than the average kid's share of death at a relatively young age, and I think it affected my outlook on life in negative ways. In fact, there was a time in my teens when I didn't expect to see 20, and after my best friend died in a car accident when we were both 24, I was convinced that I'd not reach the end of that next month alive. I suppose it was just the depression talking, and obviously I was wrong.

Won Some Money.

I am one of the unluckiest people in the world, so it was a big stunner when Mrs. Muzzy and I spent a few hours at Mysic Lake Casino this past summer and I came away with $180 won in a slot machine. I also won $50 on a scatch-off this past October, and this past week I won $20 in a door prize drawing at work.

Walked *Alot*.

It's something I started doing for health and as therapy, and I've tried to do at least 10K steps daily. I will have walked nearly 4 million steps in 2007 by the time the entire year has run its course. (The most steps in one day I managed was something like 21K - even my Podiatrist was amazed.) I just wish I had a walking partner, cause it's sometimes nice to Walk&Talk (trademark pending).

Witnessed A Major Hometown Disaster

While I didn't actually *see* it happen, I watched video images of a hometown bridge tumbling into the river. The 35W Bridge Collapse was absolutely devastating, and affected me alot more than I imagined it would - and it still does. The episode combined car crashes and drownings, two of the things that most horrify me, and I think it has changed me in ways both big and small.

Tipped A Waitress Over 30%.

On my birthday I went out for dinner with Mondo and The Imp, and I left a $20 bill for the waitress, on a $55 tab. Yes, she was really cute, but she was also very attentive, and did a really good job.

20) What has been your favourite moment?

Hmm, I'm not much of a 'favorite moment' kind of guy. I'll just say that there have been both good and bad moments during the past year, and that this was neither the best nor the worst year of my life. Yeah, it's a cop-out, I know, but I'm feeling anxious and down right now, so maybe that's the best I can do. Alright, alright, I'll try:

* I guess being told that I was *not* having a heart attack ranked pretty high up there.

* Winning some money at the casino was cool.

* Getting to photograph a brilliant double-rainbow was a really nice moment. (It's my work 'puter wallpaper.)

21) What's something you learned about yourself?

Well, I've learned good and bad things, but maybe *learned* isn't quite the right word, because most of the things that spring to mind are things I kind of already knew, but were reinforced for me over this past year:

* That walking is something I want to do for exercise for as long I am physically able, that it's not only good for the heart and lungs, but it's also the most potent and healthiest anti-depressant and anti-anxiety measure I've found;

* That brilliant double-rainbows are rare and beautiful things that - like so much else in life - are only on deck for a brief while, and instead lamenting this, one should savor every moment of their existence;

* That, to extend on that theme, life is short, and can be cut even shorter, without warning, in the blink of an eye, and while it's no good being paranoid about such things, it's important to remember that;

* That my daughters are growing up much faster than I ever imagined, that I feel blessed beyond measure that I was called upon to be their Daddy, and that I am certain I will need grace and patience when boys start coming around;

* That I am usually making decisions about matters big and small based on less-than-perfect intelligence, and that I need to allow for the very real chance that I'm completely wrong in my thinking, and to not beat up on myself so much if or when it turns out that I *was* mistaken;

* That - to slightly paraphrase the famous prayer - I need to do my best to change the things I can change, to accept the things I can't change, and to try to use wisdom in trying to know the difference between the two.

22.) Any new additions to your family?

Well, not in my immediate family, but my SIL just had a little baby named Lucy a couple of weeks ago.

23.) What was your best month?

Hmm... Alot of May was nice, much of August was very depressing, and the rest of the months merit a mixed review.

24.) Where will you be ending 2007?

I don't know. Prolly at home. If not, I'll just go to church for a candle-light service. We're all gathering at my baby brother's house an NYD.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas



+++++


Gospel

Lk 2:1-14

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,

"Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:

"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

+++++


And lastly, a Christmas present: download and listen to the Charles Dickens classic 'A Christmas Carol' at Audiobooks.org (WMA only), and then go download some of the free MP3 sample Audiobooks at Simply Audiobooks.com. You're welcome!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Night Videos - This And That




'Rock Star'
Nickelback

+++++




'Gone, Gone, Gone'
Alison Krauss & Robert Plant

+++++




'The Pretender'
Foo Fighters

+++++




'First Day Of My Life'
Bright Eyes

+++++


Monday, December 17, 2007

Remembering Keith


On December 17, 1981, my best friend was killed by a drunk driver. What follows is something I wrote a couple of years ago and published here. I have updated it slightly, and am reposting:



Keith and I had lived together during our freshman year in college, but I had not formed a very close friendship with him until after we had both graduated. What brought us together the summer after graduation was, of all things, soccer: Keith and I would often attend Minnesota Kicks soccer games together. Although I had a car, Keith was gracious enough to come pick me up, which saved me the cost of gasoline. He owned a beat-up Camaro which he drove way too fast, and I was often terrified of riding with him, but it was nice to have a friend, and a ride.

We became quite close and spend a great deal of time together. Like all of us, Keith had a few rough edges, but he recognized his flaws, and was slowly working on becoming an even better person. He was generous with his time and possessions, and would likely give someone the shirt off his back, if he thought they needed it.

Keith had been out of town on a winter camping trip to a nearby State Park, but had come back into town on Thursday morning, December 17th. We spoke by phone that afternoon and made plans to get together the next evening. He was going to stop by my place to pick me up after work, and I think we were going to go out to a movie.

That Friday I was late getting out of work. but I ran into the downtown Dayton's and quickly bought a Murphy's Law calendar to give to Keith as a Christmas present. It seemed appropriate, since we were always joking about how everything seemed to forever go wrong for us. I rushed out of the store, and barely caught my bus home.

NCB and I were living together at the time. I had met him the year before, when he and Keith were roommates, and we had formed a close friendship. NCB was already in the apartment when I got home, fixing dinner with a girl named LP, and just the sight of the two of them together made me kind of upset. I had met her first, and had tried to go out with her, but she had started dating NCB, and I'd felt unreasonably hurt over that. Although she had shot me down, I still kind of had the hots for her, and was mad at him for dating her behind my back.

I rushed in the door and NCB told me to sit down, that he needed to speak with me about something. I told him I was in a hurry, and rushed past him into my room. I didn't want to speak with him while LP was there, but he called me back out to the living room. NCB insisted, again, that I sit down, which I finally did. He looked me in the eyes and told me, plainly, that Keith was dead. I asked him how it had happened, and he told me: Keith had been killed the night before in a car accident. I asked him if he would BS me about something like that, he said no. Researchers and pshychologists say the first two stages of grief are shock and denial. While doubtless I was in schock, I experienced no denial. I knew instantly that Keith was, in fact, gone.

It seems that on Thursday night, December 17th, Keith had gone into town to the U of M to play basketball with AR and some other friends. On his way back home, at about 9:45 pm, he was travelling in the westbound lanes of what was then State Highway 12 in his new red Ford Fiesta when he was struck head-on by a large sedan travelling Eastbound in the same lanes, against traffic. The driver of the other vehicle was legally drunk but was not severely injured. Keith was dead on impact and, as this happened on a slight curve, probably never even saw what hit him. I recall hearing that the damage to Keith's small car was so severe the cops could not even tell if there had been tinted glass in the vehicle.

Keith's parents paid me what I feel was a huge honor when they asked me to be one of the Pall Bearers for Keith's coffin. I was there with DL, Keith's cousins and Keith's brother. At a time when I felt rather lonely and friendless much of the time - well, I still do, alot - and being asked to participate in the funeral in such a capacity validated one of the few friendships I had managed to establish and sustain.

It's hard to say exactly what effect that Keith's death had on me. Certainly I was saddened. That is only to be expected, but I believe it went much deeper than that. I never fully or properly grieved my little sister's death - the one who drowned when I was nine years of age - and I suspect there are, to this day, quirks in my personality that are the result of unresolved grief from that event. (Indeed, I've come to the conclusion that I have suffered some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for decades.)

Keith's death just added to the confusion in my heart and soul, and I slipped into the first of a series of depressions which have only in recent years begun to abate a little, but that still manifest themselves in myriad ways. I do think I am better, but I don't think I'll be really well.

In the end, NCB and I patched up our differences over LP - well, she and he broke up - and we went on to become even closer friends. We have played a big part in each other's lives: I introduced him to the woman he has been married to for over twenty years, and he was the best man in my own wedding. He and his wife are godparents to my children, and we try to stay in touch as much as our schedules and lives allow.

Every year for 24 years in a row, NCB and I went out the Maple Plain cemetery to lift a Mountain Dew in a toast to the memory of our good friend, and most years we have managed to squeeze in a visit with Keith's parents, as well. It's been a meaningful tradition. Unfortunately, this year NCB is living out East, and was not be able to join me, so I headed out to visit Keith on Saturday by myself, although I did call NCB on my cellphone while I was at the cemetery, and we chatted a while.

It's strange: for the first few years I thought people might think it morbid that we visited the grave site, and I never mentioned it to anyone, let alone Keith's parents. But one day I let it slip to them that we'd been out there, and they seemed genuinely touched that anyone still remembered to do so. Keith is our fallen buddy and we remember him fondly, and his family appears to appreciate it. I do it, then, for me, and for them.

A last note: I've come to the reasonable conclusion that it is wrong to become obsessed with death and those who have died, but I'm of the opinion that it's equally wrong to go on with one's life without taking time to reflect and remember those who have passed. I don't consider my trips to Maple Plain's cemetery as a duty, but a privilege, and something I do to honor the memory of a dear departed friend.

Oh, yeah, one more thing: please, please, please don't drink and drive.



How I wish you were here.

Music Monday - For Keith




'Wish You Were Here' (live 1994)
Pink Floyd

+++++


This song makes me cry.
It reminds me of my best friend Keith
Who died 26 years ago this night.

It was on the last album we listened to together
just two weeks before he died.
And it will always remind me of him,
although in years since I've attached other memories to it, as well.

Anyway, I consider it one of 'my songs,'
but if you like,
you can make it yours, too.

I will always wish you were here.



Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.

Can you tell a green field
from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?

Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you trade
your heroes for ghosts?

Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cold breeze?
Cold comfort for change?

And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war
for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish,
how I wish you were here.

We're just two lost souls
swimming in a fish bowl,
year after year,
running over the same old ground.

What have we found?

The same old fears,
wish you were here.



Monday, December 10, 2007

Music Monday - Katherine Jenkins




'Music Of The Night'
Katherine Jenkins

+++++




'L'Amore sei tu'
Katherine Jenkins

+++++




'I Vow To Thee My Country'
Katherine Jenkins

+++++


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Birthday Thoughts


I've written of it before here, so I won't revisit again all the events of December 9th, 1996 in any detail, except to note that it was on my mother's 67th birthday that she took a terrible fall and ended up in the hospital where she suffered a massive stroke the next day, which left her paralyzed, with aphasia. And even though she lived for another 28 months in a nursing home and was capable of communicating and responding via gestures, the only sounds she could ever utter were 'oi' and 'ai,' and I was never able to have another proper conversation with her after the stroke.

It was heart-breaking to see this woman who'd brought me into the world and who'd been strong in the face of great hardship - particularly after the death of my little sister - reduced to living in an adjustable bed, relying on others to change her and bathe her.

Yes, she was still able to find small joys in life: playing cards using a special rack we'd rigged for her (she only had use of one arm and hand), laughing at jokes, listening to books we read to her, being wheeled around the complex to view the flowers and birds.

But the nursing home was a hard place to live and even visit, with the shouting residents, and the smells of vomit barely masked by industrial-strength cleansers, and it was obvious that she did not like the place. Neither did I.

I felt guilty for her having to be there, even though having her live at home would have been almost an impossibility, with the need for medical attention and round-the-clock care. Still, we children made a point of having someone visit her every day, and I'm proud to say that in the time she was in the Care Facility, we only slipped up and missed visiting maybe a half-dozen times.

It was a strange feeling for me when she died in April of 1999. I'd already been grieving the loss of my mother - as I'd known her - for so long by then that I was ready for her to go, I think. It was different when my Dad died, cause it was to unexpected, and he was so young and vibrant in 1986, just 51 years of age. I don't think I've ever really fully recovered from his death, but when Mother died I was at peace with it. That isn't to say that I didn't grieve, because I did, but it was just very different.

What I hadn't expected were the surreal feelings that came on after her passing.

AE was born just days after Mother died, and looking at my baby girl and seeing - quite literally - my Mum's genetic legacy living on through my daughter was an eerie but pretty cool thing, really.

On the other hand, I wasn't prepared for the feeling of aloneness, knowing that now *I* was the older generation. My grandparents on both sides were already deceased, and now my mom and dad were too. I'd lost that psychological buffer that had always existed between me and my own mortality. In my mind's eye I could now see Father Time pointing a bony finger at me and hissing 'You're next!' Indeed all too soon I'll be making my way to the shores of the River Styx for my own passage.

The other thing I hadn't expected was the turmoil it would bring to the notion of 'family.' My mother was the hub around which our family spun, and she'd moved back to Minnesota in retirement to assume her rightful place as matriarch of the clan. It was at her home where we'd gather for holidays and parties, and now she was gone. We four kids were left with having to re-imagine what 'family'' would look like, and it was not always simple.

And then there was the crushing weight of settling her estate. By comparison with many others, her affairs were simple. We'd arranged for my sister to buy the house they'd owned and lived in together, so that selling the house wasn't an issue, but there were still the mountains of paperwork from the bills and accounts, and then there was the distribution of her effects. It all just took so much time. I was very discouraged during that phase of things, and felt incompetent- I wondered if I'd done the right thing by agreeing to be her representative and executor.

(I was doing all this with a newborn in the house, and still going to school while working full time. I say this not that I want anyone to feel sorry for me, but just to underscore how hard it was.)

Anyway, around this time each year - and especially on this day - I am prone to feeling down. I miss my Mother, and I wish so much she could have gotten to know my daughters. It's nice that they have both their maternal grandparents, and I'm glad for that, but it makes me sad that they have no personal memories of my Mom. I try to make sure I tell them stories of when I was a kid, and the things my Mommy would do and say to me, so at least they have second-hand knowledge of these things. I don't want to forget.

So, I'll end with this: 'Happy Birthday, Mom. I miss you, always.'

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Flotsam And Jetsam - Long Post


It's Saturday PM and I am on Daddy-Duty this weekend. At this precise moment I am lying on the futon typing away on my laptop - or trying to, not-all-that-successfully, but more on that presently - while AE is busy doing her 3rd grade homework, and LK is watching a DVD of The Wiggles, um, doing some wiggling, I suspect.

I must say, I'm not really all that with-it today. It's partly physical, and partly emotional.

Most of the past week or so, I've been plagued with some kind of allergic reaction to something or other, in which I've been visited by tremendous itching and rashes on my hands, feet, trunk and back. It's not full-blown hives, I don't believe, cause I had an attack of *that* about three years ago which messed me up for several days, and this isn't really like that. Anyway, it's disconcerting and really annoying, as the only thing that seems to give me any real relief is taking an antihistamine, and I try to not do that during the day, at least if I'm not going to be able to sleep, as they tend to sedate me pretty good. Anyway, the itching and redness comes and goes, but it's most annoying, and I suspect that if this keeps up I will need to consult with a physician about it.

What's more, most of this past week I've been in a state of generalized anxiety-laced melancholy of the kind that has afflicted me since my pre-teen days.

It's odd: I've felt like this so often - and for so much of my life - that for the longest time I really thought being this way was entirely normal. It never occurred to me that others did not experience life as I did, or that I should not feel this way all the time.

It's true, there might be periods of weeks when I didn't feel so messed up, but they were few and far between, and indeed, I'd go for months without having a 'good' day, and then one day I'd notice that I wasn't feeling so bad, only to have something unexpected come along that would tip the scales and send me careening into the abyss again.

It wasn't until I was well into my late 20's - through counseling and alot of reflection - that I identified what I have experienced my whole life as having to do with depression - in the years hence I've been diagnosed as suffering from Dysthymia, an ongoing form of Depression - but I always found it strange that Depression would feel so much like fear. It's only been recently that I've come to understand that what I seem to experience most often is actually a form of Anxiety, probably related to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) stemming from the drowning death of my younger sister when I was 9 years of age.

I've also come to understand that my worst episodes of depression or anxiety - or the combination of the two that so often present - are nearly always brought on by some event, real or imagined, of loss and/or rejection, with the latter triggering far and away the strongest reactions.

As I said, these events can be real or imagined, as I am prone to reading harm into what others say and do. oftentimes when there is no intention, maybe on the grounds that if good cause can be found, I can push others away first so they won't be able to reject or injure me. Of course I know that if I do that enough, people eventually give up and stop making the attempt to 'get past the sentry,' which just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Look, it's a pretty lousy way to live, methinks. but I've been wrestling with this Glowing-Eyed Monster for over 40 years, and I suspect it will follow me to my grave. I only wish that if I am going to be unable to rid myself of it, I could at least cope with it with a bit more equanimity. It's humiliating enough to be pestered by such things, but it only depresses me even more be like some kind of teenage girl for feeling this way.

As an aside: one strange thing I've noticed about myself is that when I'm truly Depressed-As-Crap I am prone to crying jags that seem to last for days - okay, they are only for a few minutes, but it feels like they go on forever - and feel virtually uncontrollable. When such states visit me I am best off to lock myself away in a bathroom or bedroom somewhere until they pass, because even though it's somewhat acceptable in our culture for women to cry in public, it's absolutely verboten for men to do so, except at funerals.

Oddly enough, though, when I'm attacked by severe Anxiety, I simply cannot cry at all. I feel all the signs of needing to sob - burning eyes, hot cheeks, lump in throat - but no tears come, with no release and no relief, sometimes for days and weeks on end. What's more, when I get that anxious I experience a pain in my chest and a creepy-crawly feeling that I can only describe as akin to a severe manifestation the 'caffeine jitters,' and I've not found any drug or regimen that will calm me down except to go for a good, long, brisk walk, which isn't always practical or even possible.

Before you snort that this is all absurd and that I should just learn to be thankful for what I have, let me say that I am well-aware that I have plenty of reason to be content with my life. I live in a decent house with a modicum of creature comforts, I have steady employment, enjoy some semblance of health, I have family and a couple of friends. I enjoy by the fortunate accident of birth all the rights and privileges of citizenship in a land that others go through great sacrifice and hardship to secure for themselves. Yes, I know without any shadow of doubt that I am richly blessed.

It ought to be enough, but I always seem to feel like the glass is half-empty, and at times am incapable of even seeing the glass, always fearful that I'm going to lose it all for even acknowledging that it exists. I oftentimes won't even try to achieve for feeling like it's useless, that the football is just going to be snatched out from in front of me if I commit to running to kick it. I just drift thru life like some latter-day Walter Mitty, pretty sure that even my darling and adoring daughters will someday reach the conclusion that their dad was a fraud.

Anyway, I know full well that few people want to hear (or read) about such things, as they either have no clue of how devastating depression/anxiety can be and thus cannot remotely understand - or even empathize - or they have been cursed with their own emotional demons that are equal or greater than my own, and therefore don't need to hear about mine.

So I'm not quite sure why I'm going on and on here about this, but I suppose writing is like therapy for me, and I really need to get it out, even if it all sounds like a broken record. Besides, my therapist doesn't do house calls.


+++++


It's colder than fritz outside, with the temp hitting a high of a mere 12 degrees (-11 Celcius), having started the day at 0 degrees (-18 Celcius). The sky was a pallid grey overcast, and it's just the kind of day during which I would enjoy sitting by an roaring fire and reading a book, except that my daughters have kept me busy all day, and the only thing I've had time for is checking my email, reading the news online, and writing this.

I actually woke up fairly early, but didn't get out of bed until well after 8 AM. Thing was, I had every intention of trying to get the girls to the Old Country Buffet for breakfast, but they were slower than molasses in January about getting dressed, and we weren't even out the door until nearly 11:30.

I first wanted to try Perkins, a local family-style restaurant chain that serves breakfast 24 hours a day, but the nearest one was packed, so I set out in search of a Denny's, the poor man's Perkins, but the location nearby is nothing but an empty lot, and I have to imagine Denny's has gone the way of Sambo's and Ember's before them. We finally ended up at an IHOP about 10 miles east of here. I had a side salad, an omelet and pancakes, LK had a burger and fries, and AE had kid-friendly pancakes, with a smiley-face on it created of chocolate chips and strawberries. It was quite tasty, if spendy, but the girls enjoyed it, so it was worth it, right?

Afterwards I almost worked up the energy to take them across the parking lot to Maplewood Mall to ride in the two-storied indoor carousel, but it was so bleeping cold - and I was feeling really down at that point - that I couldn't face going out into the cold yet again, so we just drove home and have hung out for the afternoon, with the girls doing homework and watching videos, and me reading and net surfing.

+++++


Oh yeah, speaking of net surfing and 'puters, I mentioned at the outset that I would say more about the state of my laptop, so here goes: it's dying. Or more to the point, the keyboard is dying. Or specifically, the space bar is dying. It's been not advancing the cursor without me having to bang it with my thumb - as opposed to just tapping it - and when I tried to use some electronic equipment spray cleaner/degreaser in there, it just made things worse. Now the d*mn thing just sticks when I press it, so typing on it is next to useless. I've connected up a USB keyboard I have lying around and am using a wheel mouse that I have, so the 'puter is still usable, but the laptop is not really in my lap, only the keyboard. I did look on eBay and there are replacement keyboards being sold for 20-30 dollars, so I'll probably order one. (They are a modular unit that just pops out and in.) Then again I am wanting to buy a new laptop and maybe this is the time to get it.

+++++


In other technie news, I had a flash drive die on me this past week. I don't know why, but I suspect it was static electricity. Thing is, I had a bunch of files on that drive that I don't even know if I have backed up anywhere. Or, if I do, they are scattered in myriad places. I don't even remember all of what is on there, but there were lots of photos and PDF files I'd gathered over the months and years. I'm really annoyed with that. I guess I could try some data recovery programs like Norton, to see if they can get at the files themselves, but I think the drive itself is shot. Shame on me for not backing up.

+++++


I have been toying with the notion doing something different with this blog. I like the idea of posting interesting (to me) stories that I've clipped from the net, and I will continue to do so, but I have been thinking that I should do more writing, too. It's an outlet for me, and I feel a little bereft when I don't do that. And I also want to start posting more of my photos online, as well.

I still haven't decided for sure about any of this, but I'm thinking if I get online presence for photos - maybe on my own server space - then I could host albums there, then I could then perhaps use this blog for clippings and interesting news stories, and use the Blogizdat LiveJournal for more creative or personal writing.

I do like alot of things about blogger, but there are some features of LJ that are nice, too. It's not really all that radical an idea, as I used to post alot of my longer pieces on the LJ and would then link them from here. I could set it up so that this blog would update with a link when the other one has been updated. I just wish I could post from work, but I really don't dare do that anymore, as it could get me in a peck of trouble.

Anyway, I haven't yet decided, so not to worry, for now this blog stays as it is, in all its scintillating glory.

+++++


I mentioned a while back that I'd gotten a promotion and a raise, one that upped my salary by over $400 per month right out of the gate, and should up it another $200 or so if and when I pass my six-month probation. Thing is, I've been at the top of my pay scale for nearly a decade, and I have only had at most 2% annual cost-of-living increases, so this is a big and welcome jump for me. Of course every silver cloud comes with a dark lining, and I just this afternoon read the language of the proposed union contract and noticed that the health care premiums will not only rise for me next year, but I'll no longer be able to be double-covered under my wife's family policy, and this is going to now cost me hundreds of dollars - maybe a thousand - in out-of-pocket co-pays for doctor's visits and prescriptions that I've managed to avoid under the recent contracts. Yes, we have a Health Care Expense account, but that has already been set up for next year based on anticipated expenses, and this was definitely not anticipated. So, this is 2 steps forward, and 1 step back. Or maybe even 2 steps back.

+++++


I've been listening to a CD version of 'The Secret' and I'm a little baffled by both the claims the author makes, and the reaction of the detractors.

First of all, it's nothing new, this 'Secret,' not really. The 'Law Of Attraction' is essentially nothing more than repackaged New Age aphorisms, a jumble of old-school Theosophy, newer-school NLP, and Positive Confession.

I've heard it all before, in many places. The Secret was supposedly suppressed for ages by those in the know - but how did those in the know come to know it, hmm? - and it was kept from the masses, until now. But Napoleon Hill taught the same thing in the early 1900's, as did the 'Name It And Claim It' and 'Faith Seed' movements in Pentecostal Christianity.

And to my view, that's the hoax in all this, that it's a secret, cause it's not, but the fact is that nothing sells like esoteric knowledge. Just take a look at the covers of most of the best-selling magazines: '13 Secret Windows Hacks,' 23 Secret Places To Touch Your Man,' 'The Season's Best Secret Getaways,' and 'So-and-so's Secret Love Affair Revealed.' We Post-Moderns revel in this stuff, and it makes us feel important to be in the know.

But before I blast it as utter nonsense, and epistemologically flawed, let me just say that there really is something to it. Look, it isn't a law, or a secret, or infallible, but there really is alot of room in the human psyche for improvement, and belief really does quite often precede achievement. We really *do* tend to see what we look for, and attract what we expect.

But whether you want to call it God or The Universe, there isn't a cosmic Santa Claus out there dispensing houses and health and cars and sex to those who merely visualize it. It simply isn't so. How many times have you prayed or visualized something, and had it not come to pass?

Thing is, even if it *did* work infallibly, when taken to an extreme that kind of thinking ultimately devolves into a kind of Darwinian Survival of the Fittest, where I can triumph over you by having the biggest and strongest vision, and isn't that really what voodoo is all about?

And it's that kind of thinking I believe to be massively flawed. As a Christian I accept the fundamental truth of the presence of sin this world, a kind of genetic defect in our being, one we are congenitally unable to surpass. We can do better, and should strive to do so, but we can't achieve perfection on our own. We need outside help. And the Positive Confession movement - whether religious or not - doesn't really believe that. Sin to them seems to be failure to grasp and/or apply The Secret.

At the same time, I think that the book's detractors - and there are many - seem unwilling to accept that there is obviously some truth to the idea that we can alter our destinies - and certainly our psyche - by the thoughts we engage. Leaving our very Earthly survival completely to chance or God is not consistent with either common sense or solid theology. God did not give us brains to expect us to not use them, and we will tend to achieve those things that we make important to us, the very ones that we choose to dwell on.

But the peddlers of 'The Secret' are all-too-willing to take things to the opposite extreme, promising the same ancient fallacy that befell Adam and Even, and the builders of the Tower of Babel: that with just enough knowledge, they too could be like gods.

Anyway, I think there is some basic merit to the ideas in 'The Secret,' but they are nothing new. They contain just enough truth to warrant a read, but certainly not the kind of fervor that the True Believers would like to commend to you. Borrow a copy from the library and read it, if you will, but take your hard-earned money and buy yourself a good bottle of wine, or go to the Symphony, or give it to the poor: me

+++++


LK is going to be 5 this next month and is already reading on perhaps a 2nd or 3rd grade level, and is doing advanced basic multi-number addition and subtraction problems. In a word, she is brilliant. She is witty, funny, sweet and gorgeous, but she is also strong-willed and is not yet potty-trained. She knows what she should do, and she sometimes does it, but other times, well, not-so-much. Today was one of the not-so-much days. I know that Autistic kids - like AE and LK - potty-train late, but this is getting ridiculous.

I've told her that 5 year-olds get to wear Big Girl Dora undies, and that they don't need diapers/pullups, and she acts excited, but then she goes right ahead and does her business, well, not in the potty. It's discouraging. I have visions of her wearing Depends to her high school prom. Then again, if I want to scare away the boys, maybe that's the best way to do it. Okay, I'm kidding, of course, but I want her out of diapers for pure financial reasons, too: it costs alot of money to buy them. I just hope she's telling the truth when she announces that she's going to stop needing the nappies after this coming January 17. meh

+++++


Okay, that's enough for today.

+++++


Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Silverchair




'Ana's Song'
Silverchair

+++++




'Miss You Love'
Silverchair

+++++




'Emotion Sickness'
Silverchair

+++++




'Across The Night'
Silverchair

+++++


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Meh, I'm Tired Of Snow Already


From Yahoo Weather:



Detailed Local Forecast - December 5, 2007

* Today: Periods of snow. Cold. High 22F. Winds ESE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 80%. Snow accumulating 3 to 5 inches.

* Tonight: Snow will taper off and end this evening but skies will remain cloudy late. Low 16F. Winds NE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 80%. Snow accumulating 1 to 3 inches.



Read the whole forecast here.

Go Elf Yourself


From Elf Yourself:



This holiday get what you've always wanted. The miraculous ability to turn yourself into an elf. And now you can cut the arctic rug with the whole elfin' family. Upload as many as four faces, record a message, and send your holiday helpers off to a friend.



Do it here.

From The WTH Files


From News.com.au:



Christmas hams hocked

By Edith Bevin

December 04, 2007 12:00am

IT was planned and executed with the precision of a bank robbery, but the stolen bounty in this raid came from a freezer, not a vault.

Brazen thieves drove off with 16 tonnes of ham and bacon - worth $100,000 - from a western Sydney warehouse at the weekend.

The theft of 600 cartons of meat from Zammit Ham and Bacon curers at Pendle Hill has puzzled police, who have few leads as to the identity of the ham burglars.

The gang struck about 1.30am on Sunday, obscuring security cameras at the factory before cutting a hole in the refrigeration sheeting that formed the outer wall of the main cool room.

Once inside, the thieves used the company's electronic palette jack to move the hams to the opening.

They then passed them through the hole and into a truck they had parked in a vacant adjoining block.

Not content with their lucrative haul, they decided to deal the Zammits one more blow - scrawling a a cheeky "Thanks. Merry Xmass" message on an internal wall.



Read the rest here.

Write Yer Own Headline


From Yahoo News:



Young chimp beats college students

By MALCOLM RITTER, AP Science Writer
Mon Dec 3, 9:16 PM ET

Think you're smarter than a fifth-grader? How about a 5-year-old chimp? Japanese researchers pitted young chimps against human adults in tests of short-term memory, and overall, the chimps won.

That challenges the belief of many people, including many scientists, that "humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions," said researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University.

"No one can imagine that chimpanzees — young chimpanzees at the age of 5 — have a better performance in a memory task than humans," he said in a statement.



Read the rest here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Music Mondy - Hungarian Hip Hop




'Mondd, ami fáj'
Majka

+++++




'Kiszavazóshow'
Majka

+++++




'Bum Chicka Wah Wah'
Majka feat. Tyson & Pápai joci

+++++


Sunday, December 02, 2007

This Dew's For You




Makes Sense To Me


From Science Daily:



Trauma Earlier In Life May Affect Response To Stress Years Later

ScienceDaily (Nov. 21, 2007) — Researchers have known for years that psychological trauma that results in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression can change how a person responds to stress. Now, Cornell researchers report that rapes, sudden deaths of loved ones, life-threatening accidents and other such traumas may result in long-term changes even if the survivor doesn't develop a clinical disorder.

"The findings suggest that there may be persistent differences in the stress response in some trauma-exposed people, even if they do not exhibit PTSD or depression or both, and even if their trauma was years in the past," said Barbara Ganzel, a lecturer in human development in Cornell's College of Human Ecology.



Read the rest here.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Free File Hosting


From Prospector:



Free file hosting, online storage space

If you are looking for free file hosting you have come to the right place. You have found one of the biggest list of free storage space providers that will help you to host your file no matter what size it is, even hunderds of megabytes. Free online storage space services are very cool - you don't need to carry the floppies or hard disk, because you have it on you secure free internet storage space. Accessible form anywhere, anytime. Great like free music file hosting or any other data backup. Sometimes comes even with ftp access of unlimited



Get the list here. (Not exhaustive, but quite extensive.)

And here's an interesting article from NewTeeVee discussing the whole recent One-Click hosting phenomenon.

Old Skewl File Sharing


From NewTeeVee:



Written by Janko Roettgers
Posted Saturday, June 2, 2007 at 7:43 AM PT

Essay: Usenet, the Original Piracy Hotbed

So you think piracy is primarily taking place on BitTorrent, eMule and Gnutella? Think again. There is a whole parallel universe out there with people trading huge amounts of DVDs, TV shows, warez and porn. Three terabytes of new content every single day, to be precise. Welcome to Usenet, the original piracy hotbed.

Usenet is a little bit like P2P’s estranged uncle. People started trading files over newsgroups around the time when Napster founder Shawn Fanning attended kindergarden. The face of Usenet has changed dramatically in recent years, though. It has become big business for some. It has been under legal scrutiny, but escaped major lawsuits. Will the next step be Hollywood-friendly commercialization?

Usenet has been around since the early eighties as a kind of decentralized publishing and discussion platform. It consists of thousands of newsgroups, most of which are somewhat of a mix between a mailing list and a public bulletin board. Newsgroups can be accessed with specialized newsreader applications or though web gateways.



Read the rest here.

How Do You Tube?


From TechCrunch:



When I first saw iDesktop.tv one of my first thoughts was that it must be a US startup. Now I will admit that is incredibly Silicon-Valley-centric of me, for which apologise. In fact iDesktop.tv is coming out of Davendra Patel’s 3rd Eye Solutions agency in good ol’ Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, UK which makes it doubly cool.

iDesktop.tv - a relaunch of YouTubeDesktop - is basically an Ajax interface onto YouTube videos with a few more features added, chiefly the ability to download videos to your desktop. I know there are apps for this kind of thing, but few achieve this is in the consumer-friendly fashion of iDesktop.tv. When you download a video, you can choose from a variety of formats to convert it to – AVI, MP4, 3GP, 3GP2, MOV, WMV, FLV, EXE or ZIP. That means you can then transfer the video easily to a PC or a mobile phone, iPhone or iPod without using any other converter program. Windows can be dragged around and resized and you can create playlists or share video links with friends. It’s also possible to dim the background while watching videos.



Read the rest here.

Interesting


From Tech Blorge:



November 30, 2007

MTV to cut down on P2P piracy by offering free South Park downloads

By Emilie Branstetter

MTV Networks, the biggest division of Viacom Inc. has announced plans to make every South Park episode available online for free as part of a plan to make the show available to a larger audience.

MTV originally based this decision from the success of providing "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" online. Since offering the "Daily Show" videos in October, viewership has been up with no obvious harm to ratings.



Read the rest here.

Losing Face


From US News:



Facebook Does an About-Face
November 30, 2007 12:17 PM ET

After protests across the Web—including on its own social networking pages—Facebook has backed down from its policy that posted information about the shopping habits of its users.

The program, called Beacon, informed Facebook users' friends when purchases were made on certain online retail sites, including Zappos.com, Fandango.com, and Overstock.com. In some cases, friends were even informed exactly what item was purchased, which ruined some holiday gift-giving plans. The group MoveOn.Org Civic Action started a petition, signed by thousands, protesting the program on the grounds that it violated users' privacy.

Previously, Facebook users were able to opt out either by clicking on a box that briefly popped up when they made a purchase or when they next logged into the social networking website (news of a purchase wouldn't go out until the user had logged back in). But many users said they didn't notice the opt-out option until it was too late.

The widespread discontent—the Facebook group that protested the program had 50,000 members—seems to have contributed to Facebook's announcement late yesterday that it would change the opt-out process. Now, users will need to hit "Okay" before news of their purchases is broadcast. Facebook's turnaround was reminiscent of its decision last year to make parts of the news-feed function optional after users complained that they didn't always want updates on their life, including their relationship status, sent to all their friends.



Read the rest here.

Switch Converter


I recently needed to convert a bunch of WMA and Ogg Vobis files to MP3, and found this really slick free piece of software from an Aussie company called NCH, and found it works splendidly, just as advertised. Oh, did I mention they offer it for free?

From their website:

Q. What does the Switch Converter do?

The Switch Sound Format Converter is an audio file conversion program for Windows and Mac. Using the converter you can open a selection of sound files in many different audio formats, and convert them to a single standard format. You can also specify the type of encoding used when converting the file.

Q. What file formats does the converter support?

Switch can open files in the following formats:

  • wav (PCM, ADPCM+, aLaw+, uLaw+, and others)
  • mp3 (MPEG Layer 3)
  • mp2+ (MPEG Layer 2)
  • mpga+ (MPEG Audio)
  • au
  • aif/aiff
  • gsm
  • dct
  • vox
  • raw
  • ogg
  • flac
  • amr
  • wma*
  • wmv*
  • aac* (not aacPlus)
  • m4a*
  • mid+
  • act/rcd/rec+ (newer version of format not supported)
  • rm / ra / ram+
  • dvf+ (Not all dvf recorders are supported)
  • msv+ (Not all msv recorders are supported)
  • dss+ (SP Mode only)
  • sri+
  • shn+
  • cda+
  • mov !
  • avi+
  • mpg/mpeg+
  • .m3u+^
  • .pls+^
* Copy protected files are not decoded
+ Windows only
! Mac OS X only
^ Playlists

Switch on a Windows computer can open most other formats which can be decoded by Windows Media Player.

Switch on a Mac computer can open most other formats which can be decoded by QuickTime.

Switch can also save files to the following formats:

  • wav (PCM, ADPCM+, aLaw+, uLaw+, and others, see here)
  • mp3
  • au
  • aif/aiff
  • gsm
  • vox
  • raw
  • ogg
  • flac
  • .rss
  • .m3u^
  • .pls^
  • .wpl
  • .amr+
  • aac+
  • m4a+
  • wma+
  • .mov!
+ Windows only
! Mac OS X only
^ Playlists

These are the ONLY formats we claim to support, but if you want to request support for other formats then please post on our Switch Forum here.

Back to top

Q. Is the Switch Converter really free?

Yes, we offer a free version of Switch. Switch Plus requires the purchase of a license. Using the Plus version allows you to do things like save to extra file formats (see the Switch help documentation for further details) and utilise the Command Line Tool. Get Switch Plus here.

The free version of Switch also has the additional features of Switch Plus enabled for a 14-day free trial after the software is first installed. If you choose not to purchase the Switch Plus license upgrade at the end of the free trial period, the advanced features will be disabled but the standard Switch features will continue to work.


Read the rest here.

Flashphone


I'm not recommending this because I haven't tried it out, but it's an intriguing idea, if it works, a sort of Flash-based Skype kind of thing, with the benefit of not having to download anything to use VOIP. Like I said, intriguing, if it works:

Flashphone.


Satisfy Your Inner Geek


From No Thick Manuals:



Creating a Mac-on-Stick using Mini vMac




Running Linux, Windows or applications like Firefox, Thunderbird, and AbiWord from a USB flash memory device is old hat. How about a Mac 128K or Plus on a USB key? You may think of it as a curiosity, but a “portable” Mac system has a few practical uses:

  • Play with old system software and applications without dusting off your old Mac.
  • Impress your friends, or show others what the older Mac system looks like.
  • Use Mac on Windows and Linux.

usbkey.jpg
Figure 1: It’s a Mac-on-Stick!

For this project, let’s call it Mac-on-Stick, you need the following components:





Read the rest here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Clapton




'Layla' (live)
Eric Clapton

+++++




'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' (live)
Eric Clapton

+++++




'Tears In Heaven'
Eric Clapton

+++++


Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Bad Religion




'Sorrow'
Bad Religion

+++++




'Infected'
Bad Religion

+++++




'Supersonic (live)'
Bad Religion

+++++


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving


I woke up this AM with a bit of a migraine, didn't feel too well, and just ended up resting much of the day. We headed over to my MIL and FIL's for dinner and the evening, and while we were there I placed a call to my sister in North Carolina, who is laid up in the hospital for observation after being taken in by ambulance the night before. I guess that because of the holiday they aren't able to do the stress test until tomorrow, so she stays put. I trust and pray all will be well with her. As for me and my house, Mrs. Muzzy is working tomorrow, and I'm going to be on Daddy Duty, but she's working the evening shift so she won't go in until mid-afternoon, and I'm going out shopping for just a little while in the AM. We're having my brothers and their families over for dinner on Saturday evening, and we've got alot of house-cleaning to do over the next couple of days. Anyway, reflecting on the day, as a good melancholic, I'm inclined to see the glass half-empty - or else fail to see the glass at all - but on Thanksgiving I try to remind myself to be grateful for blessings, big and small, for friends and family, for life and liberty, for house and home, and especially I'm thankful to Al Gore for helping invent the interweb, 'cause with out it where would *would* we be? So, Happy Thanksgiving, folks. Count your blessings. God Bless. (BTW, the photo above was of the centerpiece on my MIL's dinner table tonight. Just thought I'd share.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Visiting


I stopped over at the U of M hospital on my way home from work, to check in on NCB's mom. She been there for nearly three weeks now and seems to be in good spirits, but I can't imagine living in a small room, undergoing chemotherapy and bone marrow tests is a pleasant time.

What's more, it seems her husband had some mishap last weekend - I think - and took far too much Comadin, ended up bleeding on the brain, and was rushed to a hospital in Saint Cloud, so both husband and wife are in separate hospitals, in separate cities, about 60 miles apart. Not good at all.

Anyway, it was good to get to visit a bit, and I'm glad I went.

(Oh yeah, her daughter RS is coming up from Virginia on Thursday to spend a few days visiting, and I really hope I get the chance to see her. RS one of the sweetest souls in the world - a cancer survivor herself. Since she got married and moved out east we don't see her very often, so she will be invited to join the extended Muzzy family for Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. I hope she can come.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Music Monday - Even More Vague




‘Blue Monday’
Nouvelle Vaugue

+++++




‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’
Nouvelle Vaugue

+++++


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekend Stuff


I've been on Daddy Duty again this weekend, and it's getting to be a more and more difficult thing to do, as the years go on.

In the early days there was just AE, and as a baby she slept most of the time. Yes, I had to run her downtown to her mommy at work to nurse three times each day for several months until she would take a bottle - it was even longer for her baby sister - but it was a relatively easy proposition. When her sister came along I had to go through the same business with taking her downtown for nursing, but with both of them, I did my part without complaint because it was important for them, and I want the best for my kids.

But as I said, it became more difficult with time. LK was never much for napping, and when she was a baby it would sometimes take an hour or more of walking and rocking to get her to sleep, even longer with bedtime. And as the girls have gotten older, they take more time and trial and effort.

Look, I'm a parent, it's my job, I'm not complaining, but it's not always an easy thing to keep them both entertained, to keep AE on-task with her homework, to keep them fed, to monitor the time they spend with friends, to get them to bed at a reasonable hour.

I love both my kids as unto death, they are two of the sweetest little ones I could imagine ever having, and I feel fortunate and blessed to get to be their daddy, but there are more and more days when I'm on Daddy Duty that when I get to the end of the day, all I want to do is blank my mind completely, shut out the outside world and just be alone with my thoughts.

Then again, being a depressive and a worrier, that's a terrible thing to try, so last night I just went out for an hour-long late-night walk, and as soon as I'm done typing this, I think I'll go do that again.

Walking is my drug, my therapy, my lifeline, and I just need to remember to do more of that.


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Speaking of the kiddies, nearly 5 year-old LK cracked me up yesterday. I was in the family room on the futon, and she was in the study next-door when her Mommy's computer's AOL automatically logged on to check the email, announcing 'You've Got Mail!' LK ran thru the kitchen and out into the garage to the postbox, then rushed back in, and declared 'Mommy's computer is not right, Dad. There's no mail.' Ha!

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I hate dreams, even good ones. Or maybe it's that I never have any good ones. Yeah, maybe that's it: they are *all* nightmares.

I always have the same old ones, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know about the one where I'm stuck in a room, trying to find someone I know is there, always being just out of reach, never connecting, never quite getting there, like some kind of real-life Zeno's Paradox.

Well, anyway, I didn't have that one last night, but the one I did have was equally annoying and disturbing.

I was on a beach of some kind, watching a solar eclipse by myself, I think, or maybe it was just a sunset, but anyway, the sky became slowly darker and darker, and then the sun just winked out, altogether. The darkness was an inky black, and the temperature plummeted, and a wind began to howl. I was trying to seek shelter, but I couldn't see a thing, and I felt an oppressive sense of impending doom.

I was stumbling about, like I was blind, without any guide dog, without a cane, without someone to offer an arm, when I became aware of people all around me, probably in the same predicament, but utterly unable to hear me, or help me, or me them. I had started out alone on the beach, so I don't know where they all came from, but it was like being in a crowded carny while being deaf, dumb and blind.

I was becoming more and more frantic and agitated when suddenly I woke up, heart pounding and hyperventilating.

Who says dreams aren't real? Or least nightmares?

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It's cold out, and it's late - was snowing earlier - but I really think I need to go for a walk. I've already got 9300 steps on my pedometer today, so it shouldn't take much to get the stepage up over 12K. Would anyone care to join me? Fine, be that way. I'll go alone. At least it's night, and I don't have to worry about the sun going out.

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Made Up Meme: 4 Things X 4


Four Mixed Drinks You've Tried:

1) Fuzzy Navel

I learned about this one from my first serious girlfriend, she loved them. We'd sip them while eating pizza and watching MASH. They're a little sweet for my taste, but I still like them, nonetheless

2) Pina Colada

I only had this once, didn't like the coconut taste, but that's the point, innit?

3) Rum and Coke

I don't remember where or when I had my only one, but I didn't like it.

4) Wine Cooler

Okay, I know this isn't a mixed drink, really, but it's a mix, and it's a drink, and it's kind of alcoholic. Actually, I haven't had one in a long time, but I really liked them, since I'm quite the lightweight when it comes to these things.


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Four Places In California You'd Like To Re-Visit:

1) The Huntington - Pasedena

One of the loveliest spots on earth, with two art museums, a rare books library and perhaps the finest gardens I've ever visited. I have a twenty-something friend in LA who says she wants to get married at the Huntington someday. I can see that.

2) Hearst Castle - San Simeon

It's an architectural nightmare, an un-integrated riot of styles, but it's still an amazing place, perched on a lovely hill over-looking the Pacific, chockfull of great art. There's nothing else quite like it in the world.

3) The Queen Mary - Long Beach

I didn't really see most of it, though MM and I snuck into the Great Ship and went below decks to see what we could see. She and I escaped unscathed, sat out on the pier and watched a gorgeous southern Cali Sunset. If there had been the slightest spark between us - there wasn't - it would have been one of the most romantic evenings ever.

4) Disneyland - Orange County

I know that Disneyworld is bigger - I've been there, too - but I've always liked the charm of the original park. The last time I was there was over 20 years ago on a cold November afternoon. Half the rides were closed for repair, but the chilly weather kept enough other patrons away that the park was nearly abandoned by evening, and the lines were thin as a supermodel.

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Four Board Games You Enjoy Playing

1) Monopoly

This is a game of chance *and* skill, easy enough to learn, and very difficult to master. Some of the shortcuts that have evolved make the play go alot faster, but either way, it's a game that can take alot of time.

2) Checkers

I love the simplicity of the game, much easier to learn or master than chess, but with a huge variety of play options that may it a wonderful pastime.

3) Backgammon

Very simple game, even a young child can learn it, but the level of skill required to master the game is astounding. When I play with those of any level of ability, I usually lose.

4) Chess

Actually, this is a game I *wish* I enjoyed playing, but I'm kind of lousy at it. I *get* it and I'm not a horrible player, but I just don't see moves that should be apparent, and I end up losing in a blood-bath.

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Four Songs That Connect With Your Inner Sadness:

1) All Apologies - Nirvana

Most of the lyric is rather obscure, but when I'm really down, this is pretty much how I feel about most of the rest of the world:

"I wish I was like you,
Easily amused,
Find my nest of salt,
Everything is my fault..."

2) River Of Love - Sam Phillips

I listened to this song alot when I was going thru a very difficult time in my life after a horribly painful breakup a couple of decades ago, and the following five lines seemed to describe perfectly how I felt at the time. Even now, reading them makes me get teary-eyed:

"I had to run before I knew how to crawl
The first step was hard but I have had trouble with them all
But now the night grows darker and the day grows dim
cause I know I never will see you again
And I almost made you happy"

3) Hurt - NIN/Johnny Cash

I've never been a 'cutter' but I the idea of hurting myself to feel something, or even anything at all, doesn't sound so far-fetched to me. The entire lyric of this song is a perfect exposition of the melancholic state, and I'm hard-pressed to pull out one line that is more powerful than another, but this bit of the refrain nearly always chokes me up:

"What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt"

4) Scratched Inside - The House Of Love

An obscure THOL song available only on an out-of-print compilation, this song resonated powerfully with me the first time I heard it, and the following line describes well how I've felt at so many stages of my life: a sense of inadequacy that's oddly nonetheless inspired alot of what I think is my best writing:

"I feel the best I've ever felt,
So how come I feel Scratched Inside?"

Indeed.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Night Videos - Nouvelle Vague




'Don't Go'
Novelle Vague

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'Eisbaer'
Nouvelle Vague

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'Dance With Me'
Novelle Vague

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