Thursday, January 31, 2002


The Guardian Unlimited has written a terrific article about Blogger, the system I use to publish this BLOG you're reading. Whenever I make an entry, I'm obliged to visit Blogger's home page, and I always enjoy reading Evan's notes to us Bloggers.

It's astonishing to me that he is the only person running this show, and I think I'll support him by signing up for his fee-based service. Rock on, Evan!

Monday, January 28, 2002


I hope it was clear in my last post: I'm will be rooting for the New England Patriots in this weekend's Super Bowl.

Sunday, January 27, 2002

Patriots to the Superbowl

Big sports day: The New England Patriots have won the AFC Championship, and are on their way to the Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams.

Today's game was extremely gratifying. The Pittsburgh Steelers were nine-point favorites against the Patriots. But destiny would not be denied. Some terrific special teams play, a special appearance by Drew Bledsoe (who missed most of the season with an injury then the coach's decision to use Tom Brady as quarterback), and key interceptions down the stretch made this game very memorable.

Jenn and I are going into Superbowl weekend fearful: The last time New England made it to the Superbowl in New Orleans, we lost to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. Jenn made jambalaya for dinner. This weekend, she's planning sausage and peppers. Good move.

Saturday, January 26, 2002

Debt of Honor

I just finished my first book of the year 2002, and it was Debt of Honor, by Tom Clancy. I bought this book used from an Amazon Marketplace vendor last June for ninety-seven cents. Yes, less than a dollar. I paid $3.50 in shipping, and it took almost three weeks to get to me. I didn't mind.

When I was growing up in Jersey City, one of the great things I used to do was visit the Barnes & Noble Annex on Fifth Avenue. In that used book store, I'd buy several books, each between a dollar and two dollars. I'll probably dip into the Amazon Marketplace again, or to buy the next book in the Jack Ryan series.

Tom Clancy published Debt of Honor in 1994, but the events ring awfully close to those of September 11. Needless to say, I found DoH (the abbreviation for Debt of Honor in alt.books.tom-clancy) compelling in the usual Clancy way. A fast paced page-turner is a good way to start the reading year.

Friday, January 25, 2002

New CPU Fan

I installed a new CPU fan on my old PC. It was hard going. The clips that attached to the CPU had to be bent into its position with greater force than I expected. I got it installed, eventually. I'm going to compose a web page on this exercise, as I took plenty of pictures (again).

Friday, January 18, 2002

Peter Andrews

In a lengthy article on, it's revealed that Steven Soderbergh was not only the director of Traffic, but its director of photography as well (under the pseudonym Peter Andrews).

The article explains that this is a rarity in modern feature films, and I admire Mr. Soderbergh for it. He turned 39 last Monday, January 14. During the director's commentary on Out of Sight, he explained that he operated the film camera during certain scenes, and you could tell in his voice the enjoyment he derived from it.

Do we enjoy what we're doing? Are we doing what we enjoy doing? I like reading and knowing about people who do.

Monday, January 14, 2002

Glengarry Glen Ross

Did you like the movie Glengarry Glen Ross? I loved it. Al Pacino. Ed Harris. Kevin Spacey. Jack Lemmon. Not to mention Alan Arkin, Alec Baldwin ("third prize is you're fired"), and Richard Pryce.

So while reading (lately I've stopped listening to Stern, but reading the newsgroup gives me the buzz), I chanced upon a reader who mentioned the Unofficial Glengarry Glen Ross Website. Audioclips. Act summaries (the movie was originally a play by David Mamet; he would end up writing the screenplay). Press kit. Wonderful stuff.

Sometimes you find stuff you've always been looking for when you're not looking for it.

Strange Pieces in the Paper

Some strange things I read in today's paper.

A thirty-year-old bat was found in a mine in Maine. It even had an ID bracelet from 1971! Thirty bat years is the equivalent of a hundred human years.

A man driving a snowmobile in Vermont rammed into a moose. The man was killed (attempts to revive him failed), and the moose was later found. Due to its injuries, a game warden made the decision to kill the animal.

Wednesday, January 9, 2002

An Entry-Level System

I have been working on an old PC, trying to make it suitable as an entry-level video editing system. I have a ways to go, but it's been fun taking the system apart and putting it back together again. I am learning a lot.

Sunday, January 6, 2002

Moving Mia's Pictures

I finally moved the pictures of my daughter to my own domain. This has been "on my TODO list" for quite some time, and I finally got off my butt to do it.

(The pages reside at Tripod, which has pop-up banner ads. I wanted to get rid of the ads. I also wanted an easier URL.)

The hardest part was writing "redirection pages", so that people with book marks to the old location can find the new location. I wrote a small BASH script which I ran in my Cygwin environment to do this.

It took about two hours of time to make sure things are right. If I knew it would only take this long, I would have done this sooner. Of course, the hardest part is starting. Coincidentally, Joel on Software wrote a timely article about the difficulty of simply "starting". Good thoughts here.

Friday, January 4, 2002

Check Engine

While driving to work, my car's "Check Engine" light came on, suddenly and for no discernible reason. When I got to work, I paged through the manual, and it suggested an issue with the emissions. I called the dealership, and I made an appointment (thankfully coinciding with its regular check up).

By the time my appointment rolled around, the light had gone off.

Of course, a few days later, the light went on again. This time, I paged through the web pages, and searched the forums. I found multiple entries about the Check Engine light. The most common cause is a a loose gas cap.

So I removed the gas cap, and reseated it. The "Check Engine" light went off the next day.

How in the world did we ever function without the World Wide Web?

Wednesday, January 2, 2002


Part of what's been keeping me up at night is Solitaire, specifically, the version of Solitaire that comes with Windows. I picked up this game after my brother left it up on the computer while he was up visiting. I asked him about it, and he said he likes to play a few hands, just to pass the time. My wife plays Solitaire all the time on the computer, and now on her Handspring.

The Solitaire Central site says "Though popular, the odds of winning are rather low, perhaps one in thirty hands." I'll say. I played the game nearly two hours, hoping to "win". My wife played the Klondike version on her Handspring for nearly two days (over 100 hands) before she even one even once.

Solitaire is a class of one-player card games known as patience in some countries. I'll say. You have to remain patient as you wait seemingly forever for a winning hand. Now that I know the chances of winning are one in about thirty, I can approach playing this game with a better mindset (i.e. I don't expect to 'win' after only a few hands).

Maybe it's time for me to resume playing with MAME again.

Tuesday, January 1, 2002

Best Movies Watched in 2001

I also kept track of the movies I watched in 2001. I should point out that I have only watched one movie in the theater in all of 2001: Traffic. The rest were all on DVD (except for The Settlement, on HBO).

Out of this list of 51 movies, my favorite was Swingers. A classic "man discovers self, and becomes comfortable", I loved the setting (Los Angeles), the ambiance (parties, lame lounge acts, restaurants), and the non-stop movie references.

It seems incredible to me to settle on one 'favorite' movie, but I ask myself these questions: Would I watch it again? Did I like the plot? Do I have a favorite scene that I can't get out of my head? Yes to all of this, and more, for Swingers.

I must also announce that in second place, I choose Out of Sight. I thoroughly loved the pace and look of this movie, featuring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. I especially loved the Lopez character, and Clooney and Lopez have tremendous chemistry. For once, the movie will probably be better than the book.

Furthermore, some other areas:
  • Best DVD Commentaries: Cast Away, Out of Sight, Clerks

  • Favorite Scenes: Bruce Springsteen in High Fidelity, Clooney and Lopez meeting in the hotel in Out of Sight, Las Vegas scene in Swingers

  • Favorite Male Acting: Tom Cruise, Magnolia

  • Favorite Female Acting: Jennifer Lopez, Out of Sight

  • Favorite "Characters": Jay and Silent Bob (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma)

  • Best Quote: "Take dead aim at the rich guys." (Bill Murray in Rushmore)

  • Best Music: High Fidelity

  • Best Special Effects: Cast Away

  • Finally Glad I Watched: Network, Private Parts, Grosse Pointe Blank, The Crying Game

  • Not So Hot: Bringing Out the Dead, Hollow Man, The Thin Red Line

Best Books Read in 2001

I updated the list of books I read in 2001. Only fourteen books, but I read three 800+ page monsters: An American Tragedy, The Sum of All Fears, and The Executioner's Song.

Out of my 2001 reading list, my favorite had to be While I Was Gone, by Sue Miller. This was a book that truly transported me out of my reality, and into the world of Sue Miller's main character, Jo Becker. Told in the first person, the plot involves a murder, the return of a 'stranger', and a marriage hurt by all of the above. Wonderful writing!