Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I was watching the Adam Corolla Project and I have to say that Adam is quite an amusing character. His banter always puts a grin on my face. He digressed into musing that the next leap forward in dentistry will be the preemtive darting of patients. Basically, if you have, say, a root canal coming up, you'll be hanging out with your friends and whap! you'll feel a sting in your neck and wake up a few hours later with you mouth packed full of gauze. Presto! no more worrying about going to the dentist as the final pain barrier to dentistry comes down. In other television related observations, David Spade's Showbiz Show is quite funny. Ridonculous, as he puts it.

OTHERWISE: Kat braves the strike in NYC. Damien braves the wrath of Lotus Notes developers. Airbus builds the biggest white whale ever.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


At what point did every single squeezable consumable item in my refrigerator switch to upside-down packaging?

C. MONTGOMERY BURNS, The Forbes Profile

Monday, December 05, 2005


Watched Dane Cook on this week's SNL. Wife & I were struck by how much he resembles a cross between Will Ferrell from the show with a little bit of Ryan Reynolds thrown in. (And a touch of Nick Swardson.) I wasn't crazy about the long monologue/stand-up bit, but his sketch with the itchy turtleneck was priceless -perhaps the most original sketch of the season. It doesn't surprise me that Dane was considered for a castmember last year, not after watching him writhe in agony under a huge hairy turtleneck at a holiday party.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


...Long overdue. A decent proposal by Mssrs. Obama & Lugar.

INSPIRED PIECE OF OFFBEAT COMEDY: A witty employee of Sun Micro penned this...

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Today is our two year anniversary. As I sat watching our wedding video DVD with Lorraine it hit me: It's been a fairy tale where the clock never strikes twelve. What a ride!

UNRELATED: What happens when professional automotive engineers get into soapbox car racing...

Friday, November 04, 2005


Ordered a new couch, finally. Gonna replace this ratty old futon with this splendid edifice for our collective posteriors. Yay!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


As promised, pictures of the succah taken shortly before the start of the holiday. I only wish I could photograph it as it was filled with food and people over the last two days.

Monday, October 17, 2005


So I finished putting up a succah (temporary dwelling) last night for the upcoming festival of Succot (Tabernacles) which begins tonight. Correction: I finished putting up THE succah. THE succah that has been in my family for twenty-five years. THE succah that kindles fond memories of my family and extended family's (grandparents and first cousins) sharing meals and life together every fall season: Memories of making bird's egg decorations with my Bubby (OB"M) for the succah. Memories of my father (OB"M) whacking his head on a hanging bamboo chime every time he entered. Memories of all the kids oohing and ahh-ing when Aunt Perri brought out her annual Boston Cream Pie for dessert the second night (my father -her brother's- namesake ushpizin night.) Memories of cowering in fear of the inevitable lone bee that strayed inside and the associated memory of my Uncle Wes (OB"M) insisting that if we'd just be patient bees always rise to the top. (Sidebar: We always had a hard time telling fact from fiction with Uncle Wes.) Of course, there was the singing. My G-d, the singing. My sisters and cousins were so melodious we'd have requests shouted at us from succahs down the block. Mostly, I have memories of our close-knit extended family sharing each other's company and feeling secure that we would spend every Succot together the same way. Unfortunately but inevitably, those days came to an end. This year, though, I'm putting together the succah for the first time in my own home and for my own family. I'll be hosting my in-laws and -for different meals throughout the holiday- a great many family and friends. Life has a way of coming full circle and I look forward to the beginning of the holiday tonight with greater anticipation than I've felt in years.

When we bought THE succah, it was state-of-the art. Now, twenty-five years later, it's a pain by contemporary standards to erect, thus no one in my family really wants it. Whatever, it's mine now and I'm not giving it back. After putting the finishing touches on the succah, tightening all the rigging, nursing my rope-burned, bamboo splinter-scarred hands, dusting off and hanging the last of the old decorations, all I could think of was: "Wow, we had a lot of plastic fruit."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


The best reason yet (IMHO) to get a job at Google. Google Tooth!

FASTEST MEME COMING AND GOING: "Don't get stuck on stupid!," General Russel Honore's classic line when admonishing reporters in the aftermath of Katrina/Rita was poised to become the next Mother of all internet catchphrases. Then it didn't. What happened?

Sunday, October 09, 2005


A hilariously funny, poignant piece on Pre and Post-Katrina New Orleans (NYTimes, free registration req'd, will evetually timeout.) From the writer of Liar's Poker (a Wall Street classic.)

Saturday, October 08, 2005


The Iraqi constitutional referendum is coming up and I have an opinion I'd like to share:

I think that the federal system the referendum espouses is fair and probably makes the most sense given the demography of the land. I can understand Sunni worries -despite constitutional guarantees of revenue sharing- that their central "statelet" gets shortchanged in a federal arrangement since the oil is in the Kurdish north and the Shiite south. On the one hand, the disenfranchised Sunnis are reaping the fruits of their unfortunate decision to boycott the previous general election and their subsequent underrepresentation in the current government. On the other hand, they do seem to have gotten on board the election bandwagon now and the Sunnis (clearly) can act as spoilers in every arena if their concerns aren't addressed.

My synopsis is as follows:

If the referendum fails, the Sunnis will at least feel that they have been empowered by the new Iraqi democratic model and their resistance to the whole national agenda should suffer a blow. In such a scenario, the constitutional committee goes back to the drawing board and the result probably resembles the initial attempt, with some more unified precepts to tie the Sunni provinces closer to the rest of the country. (The Kurdish region has been pretty much autonomous for the better part of a decade.) The defacto eventual look of the country (barring a return to a more totalitarian regime) will resemble the federal model anyways.

IN OTHER, VERY COOL NEWS: The DARPA Grand Challenge, a goverment sponsored race to develop a vehicle that can autonomously navigate a 131 mile course has been won. Pending an official announcement, the team from Stanford University crossed the finish line in around eight hours. The eventual goal of this program is to have robotic vehicles deliver supplies for American troops in risky environments without exposing personnel to the hazards (roadside bombs, ambush) of the job.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


If you know me at all, you'd know that I posses a keen interest in all things avionic. I've loved airplanes since I was a kid (what boy hasn't?) but followed it up with a voracious reading appetite for all things airplane and airplane related. As a boy of ten or so, I'd read accounts of World War II air battles and memorize the planes, pilots and events. I'd dutifully check out the latest Aviation Week & Space Technology periodical at the local library and study the contemporary aerospace industry. Mind you, AW&ST is not light reading for a ten year old, it's more of a trade rag for a very sophisticated industry. I LOVED IT. To this day I still check out the AW&ST website a few times a week, although they've recently put their juiciest content behind a paid subscription service so the knowledge I glean from them is waning. [Sidebar, shame on you AW&ST and double-shame on you NYTimes online, for same offense]

So what am I anticipating? I just got two 1/72 scale P-40 Warhawk kits in the mail. I plan on building them together with my 9 year old nephew. He's a precocious little kid and seems more inclined to enjoy such intellectual pursuits as building and learning about the historical significance of this grand old warbird than bouncing a rubber ball. It's a fitting substitute for what was supposed to be my birthday present for him: A trip to Teterboro airport to see the visiting B-17G "Yankee Lady." The visit, unfortunately, was cancelled due to airport construction. In my perfect world, we'll patiently talk about the plane, the Flying Tigers and other World War II related topics as we lovingly craft accurate miniatures for him to hang from the ceiling of his bedroom. In reality, at least my sister will be happy to get my nephew out of the house and doing something creative for a few hours a week.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Last night wifey & I sat through pretty much all of the Emmys. I was amazed. Amazed that I sat through the whole thing and amazed that the show marked perhaps the most entertained I've ever been watching an awards show. Ellen DeGeneres was a witty host, and the Emmy Idol shtick was hilarious. I voted for William Shatner and some Mezzo Soprano I've never heard of's rendition of the theme from Star Trek, purely on kitch value, but Donald Trump and Megan Mullaly's Green Acres won. To be fair, I cheated. Having a DVR allows me to be able to fast forward through commercials, take breaks and skip the dull awards. Conan O'Brien's attempt to belt out the theme from Charles in Charge during his presentation was funny, as was his writing team's micro-sketch (an innovation from last year that was well-received.)

In geek news, I've finally licked the devilish BIOS problems that prevented me from successfully upgrading my Mom's circa-20th century PC's hard drive. I snapped in a supposedly new 40 gig unit to upgrade the existing 10 gig drive but needed to upgrade the computer's BIOS to recognize drives larger than 30 gigs. (A common problem in systems of that vintage.) Anyhoo, refreshing the BIOS was way more difficult and time consuming than it should be, owing in no small part to the generic, white-box construction of the unit. Major manufacturers package this kind of support much better on their web sites. I had to do lots of serious hunting for files and reading of esoteric message boards on the peculiarities of this BIOS manufacturer. An interesting side note is that the "new " hard drive I purchased actually had loads of someone else's data on it. Egads.

Friday, September 09, 2005


I was all set to dismiss the new Chevy HHR as a Johnny-come-lately to the retro-cruiser market. Pictures of the vehicle made it look like a poorly styled knockoff of a Chrysler PT Cruiser. Then I saw one in person. Let me tell you, it looks way better in the metal than it does on paper. This is one sweet little car. Nice job, Chevy.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


My post on Katrina didn't intend to indemnify the Federal handling of the disaster. I merely (thought I) was pointing out that the recriminations began to fly within 24 hours of the hurricane hitting land and the way the complaints were handled smells of incompetency and buck passing. I have no doubt that upon a thorough investigation errors will be found in the handling of the hurricane and its aftermath throughout the chain of command, but that initial haste to blame the feds smacks more of political opportunism to me than anything else. In a nutshell, with regard to the local and state officials of New Orleans and Louisiana respectively, people in (extremely fragile) glass houses should not be throwing stones.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Gilligan and Skipper are bunking on top of each other again in the great hammock in the sky.

RIP, Bob Denver

Friday, September 02, 2005


Oy, everyone is talking about Katrina, how to help, the tragedy and the dimension of the aquatic holocaust. Beyond that, the big question going around is Whom to blame? Clearly, local authorities, who had first crack at the problem at who should be closest to the ground for disaster planning and recovery, need to have their feet held to the fire for the complete malfunction of civil order and services. I see more grandstanding by Mayor Nagin in an effort to pass the buck than I see leadership. Clearly, he's no Rudy. Also as clear, is that New York City's largesse and civic professionalism had me -as well as the rest of the U.S.- spoiled. Let's face it, New York is rich and important with a budget and civil sector that surpass many not-so-tiny countries'. Any attempts to cast the wider net of blame at this time should be treated as speculation and deleterious to the overall business of disaster relief. Frankly, reports that the Bush administration is to blame for this mess are irresponsible and premature at best. It's actually gotten to the point that German pols have seized upon the notion that Bush's policies on the environment are a direct cause of this tragedy. This canard doesn't even smack of junk science -it's flat out lunacy, and should give rational Americans (and human beings) a reminder how quick some people are to demonize us for no apparent reason. This Tech Central Station article (admittedly from a conservative viewpoint) is the most balanced piece on the Lake Pontchartrain levee malfunction I've read to date.

UPDATE: Free Will agrees with me.

Ben Stein (THE Ben Stein) weighs in as well.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Thursday, August 25, 2005


I hit my head on a shelf over the changing table when diapering my daughter yesterday. Now, when I touch someone, an electric jolt courses through me, I launch into a poor imitation of Christopher Walken and can tell whether the person I touched had a bowel movement that day.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Today in the Hebrew calendar is the ninth of the month of Av, (Tish'a B'Av) in which we commemorate the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples, over two thousand years ago. This day is earmarked as an intense day of mourning and reflection on the tragic events as well as the failings of our nation that caused us to merit these calamities. It is also a day of fasting. Interestingly, Tish'a B'Av is one of two fast days on the Jewish calendar that begin at dusk the evening before -as opposed to sunrise of- the day itself. As Tish'a B'Av falls out during the height of the summer months, this means that it is usually the longest fast of the year. As I am a notoriously bad faster, I dread this day for this corporeal reason about as much as for its spiritual significance.

While my personal feelings towards the Gaza withdrawals are that they are a necessary political step, I moan the tragedy of uprooting families and communities that forged their existence out of blood, sweat and tears. It's prophetic that this action's first concrete steps are taken on this day of national mourning for the Jewish people.

UNRELATED TRAGEDY: I read today of a 737 crash near Athens (Greece, not Georgia) it sounds like a catastrophic decompression that caused the pilots to lose consciousness. How could they not have gotten their oxygen on in time to stave off a blackout? Interestingly, the news reports that Greek F-16s scrambled when the plane entered Greek airspace without making radio contact and shadowed the plane as it drifted into a hill. I'm actually impressed that the Greek Air Force reacted so quickly and effectively (as it were) to an airspace violation. How many times do we hear about airspace violations that go glaringly unchallenged even in the mighty good ole US of A?

Friday, August 05, 2005


When a Jewish terrorist strikes, the abhorrent act is immediately condemned by all facets of Jewish and Israeli life. The perpetrator is a terrorist and branded as such by Israeli, Jewish and world media. Mind you, despite dire predictions, this sort of thing only happens once in a blue moon (the last incident was around ten years ago) and the last two cases involved clearly unhinged individuals. So don't argue that we're all the same and we resort to the same (terror) tactics as our enemies. That lament just doesn't ring true.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Today's launch of Discovery and America's return to manned spaceflight was picture perfect. The new tank-mounted real time camera provided a spectacular view of the tank separation event from space. Spectacular though it may be, here's to hoping that NASA will get serious about a safer shuttle replacement this time and retire the aging beast as scheduled in 2010.

Word of the day: Nominal. NASA bureaucrats are congenitally incapable of exuberance. In this vein, a perfect launch is termed "nominal." Usage: "Wow, we just launched a 4.5 million pound Roman candle into space with a terminal velocity of twenty-five times the speed of sound. I feel nominal!" In a nutshell, this word sums up why manned spaceflight can, should and will be in the hands of private enterprise.

ADDENDA: The F-22 Raptor is America's primo warplane of the future. We paid a gazillion bucks for these things. Here's a pic of the first operational spec plane. At least it looks cool. Hat tip: Blackfive.  (The F-35 is the cheaper companion plane to the Raptor. It's not yet fully baked.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Anyone see the King of the Hill episode where they attend a country music festival? It turns out Randy Travis is a schmuck -very funny. No offense to Mr. Travis, but the episode was hilarious.

RIP Scotty. The Lord hath beamed you up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


As a fan of the comedic arts, the movie the Aristocrats looks like a must-see. Watch the trailer here. Precious few movies that delve into the subject matter exist. Seinfeld's the Comedian was a noteworthy exception. Before that, I believe you have to go as far back as Punchline, with Sally Field and Tom Hanks. The small screen always has been and probably will continue to be a much better window for what fuels the creative process of a comedian with such fare as Dave Attell's Insomniac and Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Muni meters are those big-box replacements for the ubiquitous parking meter. You can load up a muni meter receipt with pretty much as you want, and leave your car on a street parking spot in, say, the theater district for roughly 1/4 the price of a garage. The trick is having 6 to 8 bucks in change to feed the muni meter. For this I recommend keeping a stash of Sacagawea (or Susan B. Anthony) coins in your glove compartment. Alternately, going into a local shop and asking for change is a lot less offensive if you ask the shopkeeper for dollar coins. While proprietors may be reluctant to part with quarters from their register, they are usually more than happy to swap dollar coins for bills.

ALTERNATE MUSINGS: Are bullet points evil?

Friday, July 08, 2005


Wife & I made it out to see Mike Birbiglia last night at Caroline's.  It was billed in his advance newsletter as an experimental hourlong session with lots of new material, so we were excited to go. Plus, we never seem to get out anymore what with the baby & all. Mike didn't dissapoint, IMHO. Some notes:

  • The bit on everything these days also having a built-in camera got us laughing. Reminded us of the Malibu Rum ad we just saw with the melons. Those Malibu ads are hilarious, I wish they were available on the 'net -they're some of the most original and funny ads out there.
  • I forget the joke, but Mike made use of what I've called the 2-5 progression. Basically, jumping from the number 2 to the number 5 seems to be funny, as in: "Sex between two people is wonderful...between five it's fantastic" -Woody Allen, Standup Comic (sometime in the '60's.) I've heard that progression used in comedy before and it's a good one.
  • The guitar sketches are new and quite funny. I hope this doesn't mean Mike's becoming a prop comic, though. I wonder, does the atheist's menu choices (bagel, cream cheese) indicate Jewish origin?

Sure fire way to initiate a monsoon in your neighborhood: Start watering the garden.

Peace out.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


David E. Davis Jr., former editor of Car and Driver magazine and founder of Automobile Magazine wrote ad copy for Automotive News in the '50s alongside Elmore Leonard. The Elmore Leonard. The master was just embarking on his career as a novelist at the time. Man, what a lucky break for DED.

Friday, June 17, 2005


I haven't been posting as of late because all that's on my fragile little mind that I feel like writing about it technical in nature, and we all know how that pans out for my loyal reader(s).

Basically, life's been good, even though my muse seems to have left me for the time being. We watched "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton" last night, which is a cute ditty of a movie with a surprisingly good cast. Topher Grace is, well, Topher Grace. He basically plays Eric Foreman in everything I've seen in him so far, with the notable exception of playing a long-haired Topher Grace trashing a hotel room in a fit of romantic rage in Ocean's Twelve. Honorable mention goes to Gary Cole, Lumbergh of Office Space fame, for the movie's best line: "Have her back by dawn. And NO COCAINE!"

The little one continues to grow in size and capabilities each day. She -amazingly- gets cuter every time I lay eyes on her.

We are having a farewell barbeque for my big sister Bena this Sunday , who's leaving to Israel for time period undefined. I will miss her something fierce.

TIP OF THE DAY: Watching the grenadine dissipate in  a Tequila Sunrise is neat. Drinking said concoction can cause temporary loss of consciousness, though.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Another geek post.

I do a lot of work with IBM/Lotus Notes/Domino. That's IBM as in the purchaser of Lotus and Notes as in the core service that also provides Domino web applications. It's been my bread and butter since I graduated from college. I've been looking for alternative technologies that could provide similar services to what I do for a living with this combination for a long time. My criteria is:

  • Ease of development- The Notes Designer is unparalleled in its ability to quickly get a secure robust application deployed on the internet -Bar none.
  • Ease of integration with existing data sources -Notes can interface with relational data and its getting easier with each release. It's still not as simple as using the native Notes data store, though.
  • Substantially lower cost of entry. A Notes server runs somewhere in the $8k range. This is just enough to trigger bells in large enterprises that don't have existing Notes infrastructures and usually beyond the budget of the SMB market I'd like to target more.
  • Decreased vendor-dependence.
  • Easier component segregation (i.e.: LDAP for security, RDBMS for data, Apache for presentation)

I've looked at several possibilities including:

  • IBM Workplace, definitely doesn't lower the cost of entry or equal ease of development yet. I wouldn't be surprised if IBM improves on the product and offers an SMB solution as Workplace matures and gains traction.
  • Zope. Pros are it has a rich object extensability and Jon Udell like it. Cons are that its pretty much a web browser development environment, which is a royal pain in this day and age.
  • Struts/Tiles/insert "rogue" Java web framework cutesy name here. Aside from Struts, which is showing its age but seems to be the de-facto leader in mindshare for now, there's no standard that everyone can agree upon here. I worry about committing to a possible orphan product. Also, there aren't any acceptable GUI-ish drag and drop development environments for these tools (that I know of)
  • J2EE. No way Jose.
  • PHP. Cool, but lacks a good IDE. Dreamweaver sorta does PHP, but not really. (IMHO.)

Which leaves me with my current contender for the crown: Java Server Faces. JSF is a JSR standard, which reassures me that it will have acceptance. It's based upon existing JSP technologies, which are NOT J2EE (whew!) and don't require full J2EE software and support (It can be used/mixed with J2EE, though.) JSF has at least one competent drag 'n drop GUI IDE (Suns' Java Studio Creator) with more on the way. In particular, Sun's Java Studio only costs $99/year for developers and the apps are free (as in beer) to deploy. JSF has a component model that should encourage third-party developers to create widgets that can be easily incorporated into any JSF IDE/project. Still to come is better security control inside the development environment and components that utilize the AJAX principle for outstanding application interaction.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE: This interview with Rob Smigel, my current obsession, is illuminating and, yes, funny. Here's a classic Smigel bit as Triumph, the insult comic dog.



Sunday, May 29, 2005


Finally got to see Revenge of the Sith last night. I was disappointed. While the movie was clearly better than the first two, and finally offered a decent basic plotline, the nuances were awful. I mean, why exactly did Anakin turn to the dark side? A more plausible scenario than the one given would have involved him paying too much for car insurance. Overall, a decent flick, but a letdown for a mythos that has captivated me since I was six.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


So I'm experimenting with JXTA using the JXTA Programming Guide. I've bought several books on the subject but I found them difficult to grok(that's read and comprehend, in geekspeak.)  The guide, also, would serve as the best reference for the latest and greatest version on the JXTA API, which changes constantly. Well, at least on paper, JXTA's programmability is supposed to be getting easier with each released iteration. I'm not finding that to be so true in practice. For one thing, the documentation isn't suited for someone looking for a high-level abstract toolkit to build a peer-to-peer application on. To be fair, the material is outside my usual ken, which is more of a gluecode kind of work, but I should be able to pick it up. Anyways, I continue to plug away. One nice discovery is that the latest and greatest version of NetBeans (4.1) is turning out to be a pleasant surprise to work with. I'm not sure if it will replace Eclipse as my primary IDE, but NetBeans seems purer in concept and less daunting to the casual coder. Eclipse definitely has the leg up in features, though, but it can be maddeningly confusing to use. Does anyone know if NetBeans has an equivalent to Eclipse's templates? A nice presentation of NetBeans' current and future is here.

I'm posting this using Sauce Reader 2.0 Beta. I've been using Sauce in its earlier iterations for well over a year now to compose my blog posts. I find its superb editing environment to be unequaled. I'm wondering, though, what happened to spell check in this release?

Darth Vader's blog, Memoirs of a Monster, finished up today. It was/is a fascinating read that sought to portray the Dark Lord's innermost feelings regarding the events between A New Hope and The Return of the Jedi. Kudos to the author, Matthew Heming on a fine idea, finely executed.

Got a gas (propane) grill over Passover and have been rigorously grillin' ever since. Lorraine marinates a French Roast for me to grill for our Friday night dinners and it's scrum-diddly-umptious! Having some friends over tonight for some steaks and turkey burgers. Can't wait. Got tiki torches for the occasion. For a primer on gas grilling in America read Patio Man and the Sprawl People, by David Brooks. Also, watch King of the Hill.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Watching Office Space for the upteenth time with my wife, I realize what draws me to this movie and its ilk on screens big and small: It's the chronicling of the mundane in such artistic fashion. Mike Judge, who wrote the script, is also the genius behind the brilliant King of the Hill (and Beavis and Butthead) cartoon which also captures the inanity of life in America hilariously well. The Simpsons was the first of the modern generation of screen productions to capture this zeitgeist, which somehow seems to be the exclusive domain of the Fox network and comedy central.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


What do I do while eagerly awaiting the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode III, The Revenge of the Sith? Why, I read Darth Vader's blog, of course. Astonishly well written and funny.

Johnny Knoxville hosted SNL last night. Skit after sit, he amazed us (wife & I) of how eerily he resembles a young Jack Nicholson in look and manner.

Monday, May 02, 2005


You ever get that feeling that all is right once again with the world? The trees are blooming, birds are singing, the stream near the house is bubbling with the cool mountain runoff. Yes, that one. The feeling you can only get when a favorite series of yours is revived from the dead, like once-dormant flora. Sigh, I'm so happy now that Family Guy has started up again. Last night's first new episode answered such age-old questions like what would it be like if Ralph Cramden actually decked Alice and why the hell did Jesus just sit and take it?

Also, we bumped into an old acquaintance, Marci, over the Passover holiday, who hails from where I now live and was home visiting. It turns out that Marci is quite the vocal talent, check out her demo at the William Morris agency here.

Friday, April 15, 2005


In lieu of anything new to say, I point you to Panama, an old cameraphoto I took when I lived on the Upper West Side. The explanation serves as my blog post. Have a great weekend, all.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Friday, April 01, 2005

Thursday, March 31, 2005


Let's see, last night's episode of South Park (I just watched my DVR'ed copy tonight) dealt with Kenny dying being brought to heaven to lead the armies of light against Satan after proving his worth getting to level 60 of a game on his new Playstation Portable (PSP.) In a twist, Kenny gets revived but remains is a vegetative state. Still counting? The wizards of SP have managed to satirize:

  1. Playstation Portable Mania. (Remarkably timely.)
  2. The Terri Schiavo predicament. (ditto.)
  3. The US Army's online recruiting game. (And -by extension- the plotlines of The Last Startfighter and Ender's Game.)
  4. The Matrix (or pretty much any Keanu Reeves movie.)
  5. The Lord of the Rings.
  6. Quite possibly Dogma. (A risky venture for Matt and Trey, if indeed true.)
  7. The Emperor in the Star Wars saga.

Did I leave anything out?

UPDATE: Alas, Wendy, there is no cowbell. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge. tug on ear.)

Monday, March 28, 2005


Gotcha, didn't I? I'm talking about the PalmOS and how it no longer seems to be a platform for innovation. Time was, back in the .boom heyday, that all sorts of new and exciting ideas were brewing in the PDA space dominated by the elegant Palm Operating System and supporting devices. Heck, even as recently as last year us Palm devotees had Sony cranking out cool gadgets and add-ons as well as such nifty tools as WiFi SDIO cards. Even my trusty old recently recommissioned Handspring Visor has a GPS springboard module and an MP3 springboard. (Springboard?) Now what have we got? the Treo. Yeah, it's great, but I don't see a whole lot of innovative software or applications being developed for it. Also, the keyboard is really small. Where's the innovation? How come Palm can only seem to run with an idea that RIM comes up with first? The new Blackberry 7100s have THE form factor I want. Make a PalmOS phone for $300 with that feature set & a bundled JVM and  I'd snap one up. Not some overpriced doodad that will cost you a month's salary of you drop it. The networked apps being developed for phone platforms seem to be leaving Palm behind. In fairness, it's also a market thingie. Palm is being squeezed between supporting a platform for ISV's and getting in the way of the revenue streams of the wireless providers who are subsidizing their phones. It's a tough break, I'll admit, but it still doesn't make me happy.

I'm not sure  where PalmSource (the makers of PalmOS) come out in all this. Their market is being fragmented and they don't have a value proposition. Games? Tapwave's Zodiac is cool, but if you want games, get a PSP. Phones? Treo? natch, get a Blackberry. What's left? barcode scanners?

I fear that my long-term replacement for my dearly departed Clie will be...nothing. <frown>

Sunday, March 27, 2005


What do they want? Peace on Earth? Freedom and Liberty for all mankind? Nope. They want new episodes of Family Guy.

LIFE IMITATES ART DEPARTMENT: In other cartoon satire news, the Pope's aborted attempt to speak on Easter Sunday services is eerily reminscint of South Park's croaking Pope. In all seriousness, I wish him well.

LAST ON THE CARTOON ROUNDUP: Star Wars Clone Wars Season III has just wrapped on Cartoon Network in spectacular fashion. Five fifteen minute episodes culminated just before the beginning of Episode III. Character development, action and backstory were all way above par. Well done, Genndy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


So I finally broke down and wrote my first significant Python script to extract some statistical data from an HTTP log file. Client needs to grease the wheels on their WebTrends server acquisition so they can get really meaningful data and be in control of their own reporting. For now, Python is cool. I intend to study it more when I can. Plus, Python was created by Guido Van Rossum, which means it has the coolest figurehead name of any open source project that I know of. Way cooler than Miguel. Linus, eat your heart out.

It seems that JSF is gaining traction as the Java web framework of choice these days, so I'm going whole hog and learning it. I still find it amazing how difficult it is to cobble together a simple web app compared to, say, using Lotus Domino Designer, but no doubt this is the way to go. For starters:

  • JSF can be developed in a totally free and/or open-sourced environment. Domino costs eight grand per CPU last I checked.
  • JSF is designed to be used with RDBMS' as data repositories, Domino can but it's not trivial.
  • A subscription to Sun's JSF Development IDE, Java Studio Creator, costs $99 a year! That's not some crippled, introductory version either, but an industrial strength tool for creating web apps with drag 'n drop simplicity. Sure 'Creator still has some kinks in it, but what else can you get from a major vendor for 99 samoleans these days?

UNRELATED: I would love to have one of these babies in my driveway.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


We appear to have an incontinent skunk residing on our premises.

ALSO: Mighty GM does blogging right. Adding the general to the list of corpobloggers that "get it." Sorry, Lotus, this doesn't cut it. (IMHO.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Compact guide to the Cylons in the new SciFi series:

Early on we are tantalized with the tidbit that there are nine Cylon models altogether. So there are three unnacounted for and probably human mimics.

ALSO: If only they made this for PCS...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


This, by far, has got to be the ballsiest variant of the Nigerian Scam yet to arrive in my e-mail inbox:

Dear Friend,
This mail may not be surprising to you if you have been following current events in the international media with reference to the Middle East and Palestine in particular.
I am Mrs. Suha Arafat, the wife of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader who died recently in Paris. Since his death and even prior to the announcement, I have been thrown into a state of antagonism, confusion,humiliation, frustration and hopelessness by the present leadership ofthe Palestinian Liberation Organization and the new Prime Minister. I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture. As a widow that is so traumatized,I have lost confidence with everybody in the country at the moment.
You must have heard over the media reports and the Internet on the discovery of some fund in my husband secret bank account and companies and the allegations of some huge sums of money deposited by my husband in my name of which I have refuses to disclose or give up to the corrupt Palestine Government. In fact the total sum allegedly discovered by the Government so far is in the tune of about$6.5Billion Dollars. And they are not relenting on their effort to make me poor for life. As you know, the Moslem community has no regards for women, more importantly when the woman is from a Christian background,hence my desire for a foreign assistance.
I have the sum of 20million dollars with a financial security firm in Europe whose name I can not disclose for now for security reasons until we open up communication.Ishall be grateful if you could receive this fund into your bank account for safe keeping and any Investment opportunity. Thisarrangement will be known to you and I alone and all our correspondence should be strictly on email alone because our government has tapped all my lines and are monitoring all my moves.
In view of the above, if you are willing to assist for our mutual benefits, we will have to negotiate on your percentage share of the $20,000,000 that will be kept in your possession for a while and invested in your name for my trust pending when my Daughter, Zahwa, will come off age and take full responsibility of her Family Estate/inheritance.  Please note that this is a golden opportunity that comes once in life time and more so,if you are honest, I am going to entrust more funds in your
care as this is one of the legacy we keep for our children.

In case you don't accept please do not let me out to the security and international media as I am giving you this information in total trust and confidenceI will greatly appreciate if you accept my proposal in good faith.Please expedite action.
NB: Please click the link below to get more on my story:
Yours sincerely,
Suha Arafat.

Monday, March 14, 2005


I was walking to Grand Central from my client office when I spotted one of those Grand Central Partnership dudes in blue overalls wheeling a big rubbish bin and broom. You know the type, probably workfare types getting minimum wage. Basically an honest job for someone with not a lot of options. Interestingly, proudly taped to the side of the bin he was wheeling was a big printed sign: "Lenny Williams." Good for Lenny, way to take ownership of a job.

Contrast Lenny with the mid-level bureaucrat I verbally tussled with over the phone this afternoon. Said individual managed to not-so-artfully dodge any responsibility whatsoever. He refused to even allow me to even ask his subordinates questions to better provide him with answers he could really use. Now that's passing the buck. I can't fathom what possible motivation for his orneriness there could be. To be honest, the motivational aspirations of the mid-level bureaucratic minions in this particular organization have always escaped me.

Given the choice, I'd deal with Lenny every time.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Still undecided about my PDA dilemma, I'm using my antediluvian Visor Platinum in the interim.

SNL's relentless lampooning of the Bush administration turns me off. (Don't get me wrong, there's plenty to dislike about the current administration, but my firm belief is that the only thing more ridiculous than the current state of the GOP is the current state of the DNC.) Luckily, they balance out the equation with great Euro-trash bashing.

In my recent IM conversation with my multi-talented friend Kathleen, I typed this precious gem, which I'm reproducing in its entirety just because:

JakemonO: although the engineer in me KNOWS that CDMA is superior so I smugly look down on the GSM horde

This was in the context of complaining that GSM users (AT&T Wireless, Cingular, T-Mobile) have a greater variety of cool phones to choose from that CDMA folk (Verizon, Sprint.)

The new Battlestar Galactica is one part inspired, one part ridiculous. So far, it's still on my rotation.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Yesterday, in a misguided attempt to diagnose the backlight problems on my precious Clie TG50 PDA, I dissembled the unit. Unfortunately, during the process, I tore a tape circuit, thus rendering the Clie permanently inoperative. These things are also designed to be extremely difficult to reassemble. Upshot, R.I.P. Clie, it's been almost two years of pure joy. There are currently no mid priced Palm OS units on the market with keyboards, let alone with keyboards and Bluetooth. I'm not sure where to go next. I need a replacement, but a Treo is super expensive, and violates my "never regularly carry a delicate object in your pocket worth more than $300" rule big time. Plus, I have a 256 meg Memory Stick Pro investment that would be worthless. Perhaps I'll just get a low-end Clie like this.

ALSO: This public service ad is really funny.

Monday, March 07, 2005


Commuting through Grand Central Station this morning, I watched Mo Rocca interview some MetroNorth employee for Animal Planet. At first I thought I was being "punk'd" and he was doing a bit for the Daily Show, but Mo really is working for AP now. I was asked to stick around for an interview, but politely declined. I was late you see...

ALSO: This shuttle train car between Times Square and Grand Central was completely slathered in decals meant to evoke the setting for HBO's Deadwood.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Valerie Bertinelli stars as a battered housewife who is indicted for murder, is illegitimately pregnant and battling cancer. Mariska Hargitay co-stars as her lawyer.

ALSO: I wrote this six months ago. How do you think it played out?

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Both via BoingBoing:

  1. Crazy North Korean promotional Macromedia Flash movie.
  2. Even crazier industrial chicken catcher. The promo movie of this bizarre contraption is eerie. (If you're a chicken.)

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Changing Lanes was surprisingly good. I was expecting a bitter, ugly movie about two people who just get more and more pissed off at each other and a clear villain and victim. I was pleasantly wrong. Also, the cast is awesome.

Two more tunes that I listen to:

  1. Teenage Dirtbag, Wheatus.
  2. Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Israel Kamakawiwo`ole. Iz's rendition of this classic keeps turning up. Rest in peace, gentle Samoan.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Suddenly, picking up dirty socks takes on a whole new meaning.


I don't have an iPod. When I want to listen to music on the go I use my Sony Clie and carefully pack the tunes I want to hear onto my 256 megabyte MemoryStick. The zen of what I'm forced to do actually appeals to me as I -over time- have accumulated a list of songs old and new that evoke specific memories and emotions in me when I listen to them. Some standouts that come to mind are:

  • Heart and Soul, T'Pau. This song is a pitch perfect '80's synth-pop/rock tune. The layered vocals and tempo are sublime. Additionally, the spoken word-chorus dichotomy foreshaow Eminem's Dido dalliance. Listen a few times to appreciate.
  • Life in a Northern Town, Dream Academy. Dreamy, melancholy, lovely.
  • Leaving on a Jet Plane, Chantal Kreviazuk.
  • Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley.
  • Cemetery Gates, Pantera. The guitar riff at the beginning of the chorus still gives me chills. A classic metal piece.
  • Crazy Train, Ozzy Osbourne.
  • Whenever Wherever, Shakira. Shakira doesn't get enough credit. She rocks and this song shows just how much.
  • Antin Mikko, JPP. And now for something completely different. Illustrative of just how layered and conteporary a pure string piece can be.
  • Goodbye Stranger, Supertramp.
  • 1985, Bowling for Soup.
  • Down In The River To Pray , Alison Kraus. If I were a Baptist minister, I'd make sure to put this in my litany.

Sunday, February 27, 2005


Watching I Heart Huckabees right now. The title is unfortunate. The movie seems to be seeking the answer to the question of what happens when philosophy majors try to get real, paying jobs in the gumshoe industry. How about Plato, P.I.?


  1. Finished EST, profound conceptualization of the not-to-distant future. Could end stronger (IMHO,) though. Also caught the author's tribute to Pinkwater in the text. Specifically, Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars, one of my favorite books growing up. Corey confirmed my suspicions via email, what a guy!
  2. Found Stewie Griffin's rendition of Shatner's Rocket Man. The single greatest Stewie sketch. Watch the original by the Shat here.
  3. Found Peter trying to nurse Stewie, another great  sketch.
  4. The new Wise Chipotle Smoked Jalalpeño chip is a new instant classic from the company that makes my benchmark chip, the Wise BBQ. I have to disagree with the lukewarm review taquitos.net gave it.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Andrew Sullivan is the latest person to highlight the emerging "iPod Nation." Andrew wonders if the apparent increase of people choosing to live in the isolation of their own hyper-personalized space {iPod playlists; cable television; satellite radio, the blogosphere} is a bad thing. Will it result in the destruction of the commons and our ability to exist in a social context? Valid questions, these, and I admit to extrapolating a little on whether this is Andrew's intent. (Andrew's regular blog can be found here.) Regardless, the meme is definitely out there. I wonder, though, if the "threat" is overblown. Firstly, the blossoming of white headphones only informs us of the brand of personal experience the observed masses are participating in. (In this case, Apple's iPod experience.) Who's to say the number or demographic is any different than those who may have been using any other type of device prior to their iPod purchase? These are people who will behave in a similarly detached manner regardless of the type of audio they choose to channel into their headsets. The white headphones is a hollow indicator, then. Furthermore, is the trend accelerating? What evidence exists that the urge to personalize our space is accelerating beyond what was probably decried at the advent of the original Walkman? The portable CD player? (Hell, transistor radios for that matter?)

[SIDEBAR: For as long as there's been music there's been people customizing their personal music experience. Who (amongst my generational peers) can forget their first mix tape? Perhaps all the iPod is accomplishing is the commensurate steepening of the personalization curve that comes with lowering the barriers of entry to personalization?]

We live in a society that treasures individual choice. Why is the trend towards the increased exercise of that right so menacing? Won't our heightened ability to customize more and more of our heretofore communal experience result in new and exciting ways of fostering community? Are we not seeing the first fruits of such communities in such game changing services as flickr, del.icio.us, Amazon and NetFlix -not to mention Apple's own iTunes- with their abilities to share or recommend? Vive la difference! Change is coming, but its not the cataclysm (says I) pundits may be scaring us with.

Corey Doctorow's latest book, Eastern Standard Tribe, consciously fueled this essay. Go get a copy for yourself. It's free!

Saturday, February 19, 2005


There's not much point to watching America's Sweethearts. Unless you really were wondering what Agador would have been like if he were straight.

M. Night Shyamalan's shtick is wearing thin. His signature device is to distract you from his real point until the climax of the film. The distraction has to be at least engaging, though. He's still on my short list of promising directors though. For starters, he relies on the competence of his actors, prefers stage training, and at least lets the story take center stage, not any special effects. Mr. Lucas, are you listening? You used to exhibit such qualities.

For vintage Viggo, I recommend G.I. Jane.

NetFlix IS worth it. Try if for free for two weeks.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Today while walking on 14th street towards the 2/3 train I passed Bobby Flay. I bumped into Bobby when I still lived on the UWS last year. So Bobby becomes one of those celebs that are on my multiple sighting list, along with Sam Waterson and Steven Hill. (Pretty much the entire cast of Law & Order, come to think of it.)

I'm also reading Corey Doctorow's latest: Eastern Standard Tribe. If you want proof that book and author are targeting the technorati bear witness:

I enjoyed 'Kingdom and anticipate same for EST. Go get 'em and see fer yourself!


So it turns out that there's a demarcation line after which some PC drive controllers won't recognize larger size hard drives. That demarcation line consists of multiples of 18. So a hard drive controller that works for a hard drive between 18 and 36 gigs may not work for a 40 gig drive. The good folks at World Line fiddled around with my old laptop to confirm that this was indeed the problem with the machine and we settled on a 30 gig drive -which is still a 50% improvement over the old 20 gig piece. I'm happy to report that the old Presario is now humming smoothly. So smoothly, in fact, that I wonder if the occasional freezes I was experiencing were also due to the old drive dying on me. No matter, now my wife has a machine to use at home while I'm in the office.


I remember this post, on Ash Wednesday two years ago. My how things have changed in two years. On my way to the office this morning, there's a bomb scare at the Israeli Consulate one block over. My how things have remained the same in these last two years.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Paris Hilton hosted SNL last weekend. She was quite capable and I was duly impressed. The episode wasn't a particularly strong one, but was notable for NOT starting off with political (read: Bush is a fool) satire. I'm glad SNL may finally be getting off their soapbox this season. I've always maintained -with the caveat that this is based purely on conjecture- that Paris is a sweet girl. I mean, she's clearly a party animal with some troublemaking friends, but I've never seen her act rude or improper to someone in a public forum. What she does in private is another matter entirely, but that's food for another posting.

Bob Congdon is a good blog read with a handful of interesting posts that satisfied a bunch of interests of mine. There's the iPod shuffle RAID array story (for the geek in me,) the Google maps story (for the directionally obsessed in me) and a link to the facts behind the famous McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit story (for the "let's get to the real heart of the story" investigative reporter in me.)

Geocaching is an interesting pursuit that I may want to have at when the weather warms up a bit. Now that we're bone fide suburbanites, we should try our hands at rustic pursuits, such as hiking and such. Besides, I've been looking for a reason to dust off my old Visor Platinum and GPS module. My old colleague and buddy Chris is into geocaching and even designed the Vermont Area Geocachers' website.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


<rant>So I was driving home two nights ago after helping my sister with some moving and started to think about Jon's post "Shifting time and folding space." In it, Jon describes the setup he uses to listen to podcasts. Jon also coined the term screencast to describe his video podcasting philosophy. My point is, how does he find time to think? I mean, I love technology and think and dream about it sometimes. I like to suppose I'm on a similar wavelength, but I draw the line at consuming information aurally and visually. Frankly, I love cars as well, but never thought good information on the topic ever translated to the screen or audio well. I mean, have you ever tried to watch speedvision (cars) or techTV (or whatever that channel is called these days?) I prefer my information (professional as well as leisure related) presented to me on paper or computer monitor with a lingual flavor, thank you. More importantly than the flavor or information Jon chooses to digest (all of them, it would seem) is his seemingly unending capacity to absorb it all. I don't know how he does it. I mean, I once had a client who expressed comfort paying me whatever I charged because he knew Jake (that's me) dreamed about doing his job when he slept! So I know a thing or two about being infatuated with a topic. I guess I'm mellowing with age. I've even decided to officially stop lusting after a Treo 650 on the premise that I just don't want or need to have 24/7 access to my work email. E-mail is a queue. I pop messages off the queue when I choose, otherwise I'd never get anything done! </rant>

Sunday, January 30, 2005


As an expression of solidarity with the imperiled voters of Iraq, I'd like to humbly suggest people dip a finger in purple ink. We take the right to choose our government for granted, these folks are risking their lives to do so.

The laptop has suffered a setback. I'm assuming that the Presario's BIOS doesn't recognize the 40 gig hard drive I bought it. I'll be exchanging it for a 20 gig unit (same size as the failing original) the next chance I get.

In other news, my home continues to be inundated with little girls' clothing and furniture. My brother-in-law and I are contemplating hawking children's furniture. It's just like regular furniture except for the following exceptions:

  1. It's painted white or pine.
  2. It's festooned with warning lables.
  3. It's three times as expensive as regular furniture.

Sounds like an easy gig to make money on, eh?

UPDATE: The purple ink meme seems to have traction all over the 'net.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


So I got a new laptop and planned on sunsetting my old Presario laptop by selling it off to my buddy Manny. Unfortunately, the laptop's hard drive seems to be suffering from Alzheimer's or something and needs to be replaced. Considering that I don't think the street value for the machine is more than $300 and a new hard drive cost around $100, strictly speaking the investment doesn't seem worthwhile. Kinda like ponying up a thousand bucks to replace the tranny on the old clunker you're gonna sell for maybe twice that. So the question I have to ask myself is, is it worth it? Well, I think it is, for now, and here's why. I'm currently in transition, so I've been carrying around the new laptop instead of primarily using it in my home office. My homebound wife is currently sans computer in my absence. Yeah, I have some big desktop rigs I can set up, but I don't really have a lot of room for any of them (even though they are compact by desktop standards and I have a sweet 17" LCD display.) So I'll get the old Presario back in fighting trim. When my sister Bena makes her move to Israel, I'll let her have the laptop as my parting gift. I hope she'll like it. So I'm off to World Line computer, which is where Steve gets his parts from, to shop for a new laptop hard drive.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Or, ebonics for terrorists...

Yesterday, I did my holy duty and drove my wife's grandmother home. Bubby had been staying with us since the baby came and had been a tremendous help. I would have driven her home Sunday, but I couldn't get any crusading whoremongering pigs to do the harlot's duty of clearing my driveway. So my holy explosive device transporter car couldn't leave its filthy infidel garage. The apostates finally showed up to shovel yesterday afternoon. Insh'allah, the snow shall be completely vanquished and it will run from the wrath of the holy shovels like the rejectionist infidel dog precipitation that it is with its tail between its legs.

N.B. I've gotten weird feedback for this post, feel free to comment, it's meant to be humorous. I may take it down...

Sunday, January 23, 2005


FIrst of all, we had a beautiful baby girl on Monday, the 10th. Her name is Basya (after my grandmother, OB"M) and mother and daughter are doing splendidly. Sleeping right now, in fact. I couldn't be a prouder husband/father.

I see Paul (son of A. Bartlett) Giamatti is hosting SNL. If I were Paul, I'd have to say the most annoying question I could be asked would have to be "What's it like to work with Frankie Muniz?" Seriously, I've been a fan of Paul's work since he played Pig Vomit in Howard Stern's movie and an FBI agent in Donnie Brasco.

On the technical side, I continue to have trouble trying to grok JXTA, so I'm taking a detour to learn JSF, in an effort to bolster my short term earning potential. Sun's Java Studio Creator looks promising.

I'm starting to get pissed off at Flickr. Their web page said that if I invite x number of users who become members my status would be upgraded to premium. It was, for about two weeks. Now I'm back to being a free account user with the associated limits. Frankly, I don't mind not being able to upload more than ten megabytes of images a month but being limited to three photosets is a nuisance. I think I've found a workaround by sharing keyword pages, though, we'll see how well that scales...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Now that the word "blog" is Merriam Webster's word of the year and all the hoopla surrounding the blogosphere has officially made us mainstream, I look like a fortune teller to my friends and family (OK, not my cyberspace friends, who are way ahead of me, but my old-school flesh and blood ones.)

Now that food, money and material are pouring in to the afflicted area of the Indian Ocean disaster faster than the logistical ability to process all that stuff, the hoopla surrounding the paltry initial US donation of 35 mil. has died down. The ability to deliver aid is where the real need is. Once again, while the rest of the world sits on their bums or forms action committees and coordination strategies the good 'ole US of A is getting it done. (With a very honorable mention to the Aussies, who are splendid.) And our military assistance carries with it no price tag, real or imagined, to sully the gesture of giving help to those less fortunate with a claim of monetary credit. I did point this out to my Mom (get well soon, Mom!) last weekend over Sabbath dinner before the larger truth became evident in more mainstream media. The maritime corollary to the maxim that amateurs fidget over strategy while professionals know that logistics wins wars is that poseurs pledge money for natural disaster relief while the big boys set sail immediately. Hooah to our men and women in uniform doing right by the victims of the Tsunami.

Special shout out to Wendy, gone for the moment, but no doubt soon to return.