Thursday, November 29, 2001

Adding a Second Drive

Tonight, I opened up my old computer, and yanked the 4.3 Gig hard drive out of it. My intention is to put it into my current system, as a second drive. 4.3 Gig is not a lot these days, but I figure it will be a good exercise trying to add a second drive to my system. It's good for software guys like me to play around with hardware.

(Obligatory geek moment: after spending minutes inside the chassis of my PC, I succeeded in removing the drive from its bay. As I turned the small device in my hand, it turned out to be my floppy drive. Sigh.)

Sunday, November 25, 2001

What I'm Thankful For

I spent the past few days trying to think the few things I must really be thankful for, besides my wife, baby, and immediate family.

I found inspiration in Dave Winer's essay on how to begin the "thanking" process, and the key is to focus on why you're thankful. With that in mind, it actually reveals many of the things we would overlook.

So, without any order:

  • Ofoto - With the birth of Mia, sending pictures and prints has been added to my job description. Ofoto make the process quite easy and painless. The prints are super, and really complement my digital camera.
  • Blogger - I'd pay a modest fee to keep up the service which generates the pages that you're reading and I'm writing. For someone like me with a creative 'bent', a BLOG is a perfect outlet, and Blogger allows me to concentrate on the content, and not the publishing.
  • My New Job - I've been with Mercury almost six months, and I've had a super experience so far. Aside from the technical challenge that makes the work rewarding, the job itself is quite family "friendly". I can leave work by 5PM virtually every night. I have full telecommuting capabilities (although I've only had to take advantage of that once). And the work is the kind that I can leave at work (i.e. I am not 'on call'). The new job makes it possible for me to be the kind of father and husband that I want to be.
  • Radio Headphones - I bought a a pair for my Dad, and I own a pair for myself. When I watch television or movies at night, I plug these headphones in, and I can watch from the comfort of the sofa without waking anyone up.
  • Caller ID - Sorry if you never reach us, but we don't answer the phone unless the caller id shows a number we already know. With caller id, we pretty much turn the ringer off, thus eliminating the stress of the evening telemarketing phone call.
  • Day Care - Jenn and I have grown to love the routine we've developed with Mia. Jenn is at home with Mia three days a week, then sends her to day care for two days. I then 'take over' on the weekends. Day care is an easy one to be thankful for, primarily because it allows Jenn the ability to work part time, and (I'm sure of this) keeps her sane. Mia gets a healthy dosage of social training too.

    There's a lot more, I'm sure, but let me sign off with these. I hope it gets you thinking too. Thanksgiving is once a year, but every day we should be able to say "Thank goodness" for something, right?
  • Thursday, November 22, 2001


    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Monday, November 19, 2001

    Howard Stern

    On Friday, I listened once again to Howard Stern during my morning commute. I had been listening to Howard Stern pretty regularly since September 11. So far, I've listened to him interviewing a "hot" intern (with Gary saying that she's going to have to work, and not "hang out"), previewing songs from the September 11 tragedy, railing on Robin and her appearance on Who Wants to be Millionaire, and musing on his divorce and and his children. He has interviewed Jason Alexander, Kid Rock, and the women who interviewed O.J. Simpson under the guise of "good father".

    It's odd becoming such a recent fan to Howard Stern. When he came to New York City (1983), I was in high school, and I definitely heard the buzz on him. I remember my younger brother being an early fan. But I definitely missed out on the early Howard Stern scene.

    Fast forward to 1991, and I chanced upon his book Private Parts at a used book store. I buy it. To my amazement, I found myself enjoying his book. My overall impression: it was more revealing than I expected it to be, and his introspection made him seem more 'real'. He was also very appreciative of his wife, Allison, which somehow muted his on-air antics.

    Fast forward to last Friday: I finally watched Private Parts, the movie. This is a very funny movie. His self-portrayal from geeky college kid to self-realized-though-misunderstood radio celebrity is wonderful. You do find yourself applauding and smiling and rooting for Howard at every turn.

    The movie also demonstrate Howard's loyalty, not just to his wife, but to Robin Quivers and Fred Norris, early side kicks that helped Howard in the early years. You also saw Baba Booey ("they want you take your top off"), Stuttering John, and Jackie the Jokeman Martling. When I think of all the 'extreme' TV today, I can only imagine that the producers of those shows were saying "make it like Howard Stern".

    After watching the movie, I tuned into Howard Stern on E! TV. Who do I see on the screen? Robin Quivers, Fred Norris, Jackie the Jokeman, Baba Booey, and of course, Howard. The same core people putting out raunchy fun since 1983.

    If longevity is an indicator, Howard may very well be "the real deal", and his brand of humor has kept up with the times perfectly. In my one Friday with Howard Stern (the radio show, the movie, then on E! TV), I realized that this is one serious talent who's paid some serious dues, someone who is working hard to offend people in as broad and as funny a manner as possible, because he realizes that this insures him the broadest audience possible.

    Monday, November 12, 2001

    How Time Devalues Things

    I had a row of video tapes next to my living room chair, which I finally put away today. Mia is starting to crawl, and she can get to this area easily enough. Plus we have company coming in December.

    But the real reason I put these tapes into a box and sent it downstairs to my basement is that I am no longer interested in what's on these tapes. Among the tapes were an Elvis concert, 405: The Movie, some eight-hour tapes with entire seasons of the Sopranos and Sportsnight, a box-set of A Year in Provence, and a documentary on the World Poker Championships.

    Amazing, how time devalues certain things. Clearly, at an earlier point in time, these things were pertinent, and meaningful (they were stacked next to my seat!). Now, nothing.

    So now these tapes are in my basement, where they'll stay hidden for many months, until I decide to finally refinish the basement. Will I ever throw these tapes away? I always feel bad because I spent so much time recording these things. I also think of the money I spent to acquire these tapes. For now, it's enough for the tapes to be out of sight.

    What to Log on my Blog?

    Reader, I often stare at the blank "sheet" before me, wondering what to "log" on my BLOG.

    What do I want to write? Every other day, I take a pass. I don't need to write. Some nights, I'm compelled to write. I have taken to keeping a file on topics I might address in this space. I've clipped some articles, and annotated them, with the idea that my "take" on that piece will appear here.

    I'm paying closer attention to the columnists of my weekend newspapers. Frank Rich in the New York Times, Sam Allis in the Boston Globe. The sports columnists (Ryan, Shaunessy, Edes, DuPont). The auto columnists (Royal Ford, Bill Griffith). Of course, Dave Barry. Many others. Their job is writing. They write very regularly, for very public consumption. Are they like me, or am I like them? Or am I being silly trying to compare?

    I know that writing is hard. And I don't even write a lot in this space. A few hundred words every other day. Sometimes not even that. But this BLOG is giving me practice, and practice makes the writing a little easier.

    I wanted to write tonight about the movies I watched this weekend, but what came out was this. Maybe next time, I'll go on about the movies. Tonight, it's enough for me to write this.

    Friday, November 9, 2001

    Internet Cachet

    Over the next few days, I'm going to be sending out a mass e-mail to those folks in my e-mail address book: my e-mail address is changing. My current e-mail address of is being changed to (you can uncapitalize the "T" and "W" of TheWorld).

    I've had as my personal e-mail address since December of 1994. At the time, I had wanted to change jobs, and I felt that I needed a different e-mail address on my resume. Finally, I wanted a close-to-permanent home for my personal e-mail. I didn't want to ask people to remember my work e-mail address: just remember my personal e-mail account.

    In the early 1990s, Barry Shein's Software Tool and Die (the "std" of was the only company offering public access UNIX accounts. And since I did everything with UNIX, it felt natural to sign up with The World as my Internet Service Provider (ISP).

    I always felt that had a certain Internet cachet. It's an old ISP. Certain Internet legends used it as their e-mail address. If and AOL were the fancy new ways to get on the Internet, World was the tony, sedate neighborhood full of Internet old-timers.

    Times change though: "std" is too closely associated with "sexually transmitted diseases" (and who is impressed by 'software tool and 'die' anymore?). Plus two "dots" (world-dot-std-dot-com) is no longer vogue. "" felt creaky. Enter "". The times have caught up with my e-mail address. It's time to get with it.

    Note: You can keep in your address book. AFAIK, this will continue to be active.

    Wednesday, November 7, 2001

    Phil Agre's Annoyances

    I just finished skimming through Phil Agre's essay, Minor Annoyances and What They Teach Us. I've been enjoying his writing for a few months now, and this one takes the cake. A fantastic "rant" on a lot of things. Please enjoy it!

    Days of Heaven

    I actually watched a DVD tonight: Days of Heaven. For the past few nights, my television viewing has been largely sports.

    Tonight's movie was a true cinematic film. The photography of this movie was brilliant. And the story was an intuitive one (two men love the same woman; trouble ensues). There were lots of scenes that were carried by gorgeous pictures and sound. Some of the lines were mumbled, or drowned out by the scenery. A gorgeous movie. One that truly would have popped to life on a real movie screen.

    Tuesday, November 6, 2001




    So the graduations hang on the wall
    But they never really helped us at all
    No they never taught us what was real
    Iron and coke
    And chromium steel
    And we're waiting here in Allentown

    (Billy Joel)

    Billy Joel

    A few weekends ago, I had to drive Jenn's car, and she had a new CD on the passenger seat: Essential Billy Joel. Disc 1 was in the CD player. It has 18 tracks, including Captain Jack, The Entertainer, Say Goodbye to Hollywood, and Allentown. You could say I was transported back in time: each song brought back memories of the 80s, when everyone seemed to be listening to his stuff.

    Of course, driving to work one day, I heard Allentown on a "morning drive-time" show, and Only the Good Die Young on a "commercial-free ten-in-a-row" set on the way home.

    Billy Joel's music being fresh to me again, it brought to mind an episode of the Sopranos, in which young Christopher tries his hand at bank-rolling a music act, but the band is woefully inadequate in the studio. In a memorable line for me, the studio engineer chastises the group: "Where are the choruses? That's how you build a great song: great choruses."

    Every one of the songs on that Billy Joel CD had an achingly familiar, even instinctive chorus. You knew what the words were, so ingrained are they in your cultural consciousness.

    But even more hard-hitting are his lyrics, which seemed so trite back then (we repeated them so), but seem so pertinent now. From Say Goodbye to Hollywood, he wrote "Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes, I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again." These lines didn't mean anything to me when I was growing up in Jersey City, but after saying good-bye ("au revoir") to California, New York, and New Jersey, his words make sense.

    Monday, November 5, 2001

    Diamondbacks Win World Series

    Game 7 of the World Series was exactly as billed: a taut match-up between 20-game winners Curt Schilling (Diamondbacks) and Roger Clemens (Yankees).

    It turned out to be a perfect series ending game, with the Diamondbacks taking a page out of the Yankees playbook by manufacturing a bottom of the ninth inning rally that wrestled the chapionship away from New York for the first time in three years.

    As a baseball fan (albeit a mild one), this will probably be the World Series that I'll remember the most. I won't soon forget how New York battled back to tie the series after they were down two games (miraculous homers by Tino Martinez, Derek Jeter, Scott Brosius, and super timely hitting by Alfonso Soriano). I won't forget Byung-Hyun Kim's despondent body language after he gives up a homer to blow Game 5.

    As a baseball fan rooting for Arizona this series, tonight's victory was quite fitting and satisfying.

    Sunday, November 4, 2001

    Curb Your Enthusiasm

    One of my favorite shows this season is Curb Your Enthusiasm, the darkly funny show about Larry David, the co-creator of Seinfeld. I am coming to this show in its second season. I generally enjoy TV shows about TV (I liked Sportsnight, for example), but I think what I enjoy about this show is getting a feel for the roots of Seinfeld.

    Prior to Larry David, I was a huge fan of The Larry Sanders Show, a marvelous "dark humor" comedy about a talk show host played by Garry Shandling. There's too much in the show that cause me to break out in laughter, and almost all of it is Rated R. Thank goodness I can catch reruns.

    If you can bear to watch these two shows, I think you get my comedic sensibilities.

    Friday, November 2, 2001

    Staying in Touch Online

    My brother Ron and I have been "chatting" using AOL Instant Messenger. He and I have gone from relatively little contact with one another, to daily contact with one another.

    A quick hello, a quick comment, or a "have a good night" are all that we typically share. We're logged in at work, so we can't carry on full blown conversations. But it's fun having Ron on-line to share things with.

    A unique form of closeness, courtesy of the Internet.

    Thursday, November 1, 2001


    Halloween came and went. Is it me, or is there something silly about children knocking on doors and asking for 'treats'? Still, Jenn and I dutifully prepared our pumpkin head of goodies: Reese's Peanut-Butter Cups and Twix. Baby Mia did not go out next year, but our neighbor suggested that next year we might all be walking together. Next year! It's hard to think that far ahead with Mia.

    Game 4 of the World Series

    Tonight, I took in Game 4 of the World Series on television, with the ESPN Radio announcers on my stereo. Then I went upstairs and took in the game using ESPN Gamecast on the Internet. As soon as Tino Martinez hit his game tying home run (to my chagrin and utter astonishment), I went back downstairs and flicked on the TV, with plenty of time to watch Derek Jeter hit his game winning homer.

    It's a three-game series now: best two-out-of-three.