June 2006 Archives

Awesome

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It just reinforces my desire to live in New York.

Just click the damn link. (totally work-spouse-child-parent-baby-Jesus safe)

Home on the Fringe

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Monday night I was sitting at home and I realized that I didn’t need it.

It’s been over a year since I had anyone over and I don’t know any of my neighbors. I pay for heat, electricity, water, internet access, for cable television, and a telephone that never rings. Why?

I walked through the house trying to understand why I own all this stuff. Books I’ve already read, CDs I’ve already ripped, and appliances I don’t even use.

I packed a bag with enough clothes to last a week at work, and grabbed my sleeping bag out of the closet (where it has been, unused, for three years), and raided the bathroom cabinets for medicine and toiletries that I would need where I was going. I also took one towel, and my alarm clock.

I called my landlord and left a message that I was leaving, and to use the deposit for the last month’s rent. I apologized to the machine for not giving 30 days notice.

I spent the rest of the night dragging furniture out of the house and filling garbage bags with everything else. I put it all out on the curb with a sign that said “FREE”. I stopped and stared at the sign for a minute wondering was it a label for the pile, or an announcement of my new status.

Tuesday night, after work, I moved into my cubicle.

By around eight o’clock everybody but the security guy at the desk is one, so I went to my car and pulled out my stuff and brought it in. After 6 you have to sign in, but since I had just left the building a minute ago the security waved me past without really paying any attention to what I was carrying. They really only pay attention to what you carry out, not what you bring in.

My clothes went into the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet, with room to spare for the sleeping bag. The top left drawer of my desk became the medicine cabinet. I rolled out the sleeping bag on the floor and maneuvered it around until I found a position where I could lay down and not hit a filing cabinet or a cube wall, and where I didn’t stick out into the aisle; diagonal, head under the desk to block out the lights, which are half-on all night.

I took my monitor off the desk and put it on the floor, so I could watch TV shows I downloaded off the internet. I set my alarm clock, and somewhere around eleven I fell asleep.

My alarm clock woke me up at five. Normally, I get up later, but I didn’t want there to be any chance of some early bird strolling in finding me. I don’t think I would get in any real trouble - could claim I had a late night and decided to crash with a sleeping bag I had in my car. It would be embarrassing though and I can only use that excuse once, so I would rather save it.

Got up, took out some clothes and took the stairs down to the fitness center, to avoid the security guy at the front. Showered, shaved, I found that I actually had a lot of time before work started, so I decided to actually use the fitness center for the first time since I started, which was stupid, since I had to shower again. I’m learning how this works though. From then on, I shower last.

Wednesday night is “Fruit Night”.

The company has this employee moral building thing they do each Wednesday night. Some service comes through and puts bowls of fruit into all of the break rooms. While they were here I hung out in the PC Test Lab, with the door locked. After I was sure they had left I went through the building and took the stuff I liked. It all went into three bags that I boldly labeled “ALLAN’S” and stashed in three refrigerators around the floor. I can eat at the cafeteria during the day, and get stuff from the snack machines at night, but I am afraid that I will get scurvy or rickets if that’s all I eat

Thursday and Friday night are not special. I avoid the security guy, and watch TV shows I’ve downloaded during the day.

Saturday and Sunday nights are hot and muggy, since the air conditioning is not turned on over the weekend. I end up sleeping on top of the sleeping bag both nights. I drove three blocks to a strip mall and did my laundry – it was the first time I’ve had to leave the building since I got my stuff out of my car. I also discover that the executive kitchen has a supply of cup-o-soup packets.

Monday, I start pocketing packets of crackers when I go to the cafeteria.

Fast forward, one month.

Monday morning my boss told me that she’s noticed the extra hours I am putting in. It seems like I am the first in and the last out every day.

Tuesday morning I am take the stairs up from the fitness center and an executive admin stops me. I’m afraid for a second that she knows about the soup, but instead she tells me that I look great, and asks if I have lost weight. When I asked her if she would like to have lunch sometime in the cafeteria, she said yes.

Today it’s Wednesday morning, and I am sitting in my cube. I know all my neighbors, and people drop by all the time. I have heat, electricity, water, internet access, downloaded TV shows, and a telephone that’s always ringing.

The Robots Win This Round

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I've temporariily taken down the links to Bad Robot! - it looks like whatever I am using to identify bad behavior for MT-trackbacks has a flaw in it, since it is coming back with my work IP address as a probably Bad Robot. My home address did not get flagged though, which seems wierd since I hardly to anything from home. I'll pour over logs tonight and figure out what it's doing...

My geek-fu is weak today.

Motorcycle Diary

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I never learned how to ride a motorcyle, not officially anyway. In 1984 I got my driver's license renewed, and maybe because I was wearing a leather jacket or something, they added a motorcyle certification to it. That was fine by me. I had driven some smaller motorcycles (bigger than dirt bikes, you know) and I had ridden on lots of motocycles - it didn't look that hard. Balance like you do on a bicycle, twist the throttle, squeeze the handbrake. Nothing too it.

I remember the first time and only time that I rode a large road bike. My brother had a one - I think it was a Honda or Kawasaki of some sort. We were moving to the LA area. I didn't want to. Everything and everyone that I knew was up in the Bay Area. Up there I had managed, over the last couple of years to become, well, popular. For the first time in my life I had girlfriends. Yes, PLURAL girlfriends. It was an enormous shift from the guy who got caught in Driver's Ed class reading his copy of the AD&D Monster Manual behind his text book a few years earlier.

Anyway, Tony's bike was being rolled out of the moving truck, and he was pushing it into the garage.

"Can I take it out?", I asked

"You don't know how to ride a motorcycle", he replied.

Pulling out my (mistaken) Driver's license I showed it to him. "Yes I do, see?".

Relectantly, he said "Okay, but be careful".

I still remember rolling it down the driveway. It was heavier than I thought it would be - much heavier than I was. When I got it onto the street I started it up. All of the sudden I began to realize that I had the equivalent of a Volkswagon Bug between my legs, and nothing protecting me. This was back in the eighties; no helmet; I am pretty sure I didn't even have the leather jacket with me.

But I couldn't back down now. I started the engine and took off. Turning the corner out of the cul de sac I hit the gas and went up onto one wheel for a moment.

At that point I knew I was probably going to die. Still, I decided that I at least needed to go around the block in order to feel like I had really succeeded at this.

I almost made it.

On the way back to the house I turned a corner on a section of road that was lightly covered with gravel, and lost control of the bike. It went over and I didn't know how to get out of it's way. I lost a couple of inches of skin on my right leg, and gained an enormous amount of respect for, and a healthy fear of motorcycles that stays with me today. The damage to the bike was minor - scratches and a bent kickstand. I guess I broke it's fall.

I'm pretty sure I paid him back for the repairs, but I probably should have given him two or three thousand dollars on top of that for the life lesson.

razlyubit' blyad

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Forget all that William Safire, J. Byran. Christopher J. Moore and Howard Rheingold made up Russian. It may not be untranslatable, but I still think that together they are pretty descriptive. See if you can find my favorite pun based on "blyad" using Google. It's an excercise for the dedicated. Gold stars will be awarded to the diligent.

It's too bad, though that "razbliuto" doesn't actually exist, since I always loved the idea of it. I certainly have feelings that I have no words for. It would be nice if someone else did.

Welche Farbe ist deine Eidechse?

As Stephan Colbert would say, "Moving on..."

Defend Yourself!

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As you know, it's not a matter of if the Robot Uprising will come, it a matter of when.

I know - I have been under constant robotic assualt for years, and I am finally starting to get sick of it.

If you have a weblog you know that there are teeming millions of webbots taht go around and try to put fake comments and track backs into weblogs. This leads to all of the nonsense comments that you sometimes see about viagra and online poker. Now, most of the junk comments and trackbacks get caught by the filtering software built into modern blogging software, so they don't actually show up on webpages. However the bots and the people who run them are too stupid to give up, so these visits to post this junk still shows up in my logs, and screws with my stats. I am also forced to moderate a bunch of the comments and trackbacks, which is irritating.

No more.

Today a new day begins as I rise up against the automated hordes. Okay, as I make the first step towards rising up. If you are on an apache webserver...and using a windows or Mac OSX desktop...and the only problem you have is tons of junk trackbacks...and you are tired of seeing them in your logs. Within those parameters I have the weapon that you can use to fight back.

Oh, also, you have to not mind blocking huge swaths of IP addresses.

I give you...Bad Robot! *stunned silence*

Bad robot is an application that analyzes your (apache) webserver logs and looks for signs that point to a Bad Robot, then spits out a report onscreen that you can review. You can then choose on an IP address by IP address basis whether ofr not to block that address from ever seeing your website again.

At the moment the only thing that bad robot really does is looks for anything that tries to post a track back to a movable type weblog. In the entire life of my weblog I have only had 2 external trackbacks, so for this initial version I am comfortable assuming that anyone trying to post a trackback is probably a Bad Robot. You might actually be a popular kid who get's trackbacks. In that case you will need to excercise some caution when blocking track back posters, so as not to block real people. Bad Robot! gives you some sorting options that can be helpful.

The neat thing is that now that I have put together the basic engine for examining logs it's really, really easy for me to add more rules to the program. Soon Bad Robot! will be able to distinguish between things are certainly bad robots, and things that might be people - and tell you! It will also be able to automatically figure out if a robot is obeying your robots.txt file. The goal here is to create a single tool that will handle misbehaving spiders, spam-bots, email harvesters, etc. in one fell swoop, then block them permanently.

Download the latest release and use them as you see fit. Tell me what you like about it, tell me what you hate about it, tell me what else you want it to analyze for, and tell me your stories of how you have struck out against the robot uprising.

I'm especially interested in hearing from mac users - the Mac version has never been tested in any way, since I don't have a Mac, so I am putting all my faith into the development environment's automated Mac version spitting out abilities. Can you people even open ZIP files?

I'll post new versions as make changes. Various Linux flavors may appear if there is any interest at all.

At this point you need to have the log file to analyze available locally, un-gzipped, and the output is a text file of the banned IPs that you have to manually add to the .htacess file on your webserver. So, it's still not for the faint of heart - messing with .htaccess can screw up your websever, so don't play with it if you don't know what it is.

You can still play with Bad Robot! though - at this point it can't possibly do anything bad. In the next version, where I plan to add auto-fetching of logs through FTP and automated updates to your .htaccess file (also via FTP) that could be dangerous. Really really dangerous. I will also create cute icons and stuff.

I wonder if JJ Abrams will sue me over the name...I hope so.

Let the Buyer Beware...

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It turns out that there is an enormous difference between Bloody Mary Mix and just buying V8 and adding your own spices. We are talking about a 1000% difference in the amount of vitamins between the two, and no real difference in cost.

I Suppose This Is Bloggable

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Papers were signed today. It all becomes totally absolutely official after the judge signs off/fat lady sings, but for all intents and purposes I am divorced now; it was witnessed by a fish and everything (don't ask, or do, but expect an answer that is more boring than you hoped).

I suppose that I should be out celebrating with 'hos and blow, but, seeing as I am tragically broke, I don't even have the option of choosing between the two; it's frozen(vegetarian) pizza and Final Fantasy II for me tonight (assuming that I can get Ashley off the PS2).

Anyway, I guess congratulations are in order.

Some time ago I posted a non-music related post about the Sparks' song "Angst In My Pants" being used on Gilmore Girls. Since that time, about 8% of the searches that end up on this site are looking for that song. Sorry, but you are going to have to keep looking. You want it? Buy the album of the same name. Also, check out their new album "Hello Young Lovers" which is awesome - worth it just for "Dick Around".

Sparks is one of the great LA bands of the eighties. I say this with the knowledge that they got their start way back in about 1970, in the mid-west. These guys invented new wave synth music, though they hardly get any credit for it. In the early eighties though they started to get some recognition. The group is front by brothers Ron and Russell Mael, Ron plays keyboards, has a hitler mustache, and wears wedding gowns; Russell sings and is goofy.

Over the years they have occasionally come close to breaking through - their single with Jane Wiedlin "Cool Places" was probably the biggest thing they ever did. I just recently pulled out my copy of 1982's "Angst In My Pants" and it really made me appreciate their genius all over again. "Angst in my Pants" really does convey a sense of anxiety effectively, while "Micky Mouse" is possibly the happiest song on earth. No song has ever captured the dangers of love when viewed from an outside perspective as well as "Eaten By The Monster Of Love".

They are now totally on my watch list to see live. I saw them back in the 80s at Wolfgang's, and I don't intend to miss them the next time they are around (seems they spend all their time in Europe these days).

Critical album to own is, at the moment, "Angst In My Pants"

Similar bands? Well groups like Too Much Joy, and even the B-52s owe an awful lot to Sparks.

Pro-Life, Unless You're A Woman

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I really cannot explain how angry and disgusted I am with the religious right. Their latest crime against humanity (well, at least the female portion) involves the HPV vaccines that that are coming out. HPV is responsible for gential warts and, more criticallycervical cancer, which kills 4000 women in the U.S. each year (and affects 500,000), and 270,000 around the world, mostly in the third world. The vaccine, which is 100% effective against the two most common strains of the virus would vastly reduce these numbers.

The vaccine, which consists of a six-month, three shot course costing a little over 300 dollars, is best administered to girls between the ages of 9 and 12, since it can only prevent getting the virus, not cure it once infected.

The religious right (including Focus on the Family, Family Research Council) are lobbying against having this vaccine a routinely administered. Why? Well, because by preventing a girl from getting a potentially fatal sexually tranmitted disease we would be sending a message tath promiscuity is okay, and encouraging them to have sex.

These people are, of course, completely nuts. When you got your Tetnus vacinne did you think of that as a free pass to run around in empty lots full of rusty nails? Probably not, but hey, if you did end up in a lot full of rusty nails, and happened to get one in you foot, wasn't it great that you were vaccinated? People are going to occasionally have unprotected, premarital sex, often they will regret it. Making the punishment for doing so death by cancer seems a little harsh to me.

Hey! Here's a nutty idea - what about instead of sticking our heads in the ground and pretending that abstinance only education works (it doesn't, every study shows that), why don't we provide kids with real factual information about the risks of unprotected sex, the importance of prophylactics, and provide any vaccination safety net that we can.

Oh wait - that's right. They only care about children before they are born. If you want to have your daughter to die from cervical cancer because you didn't get her vaccinated and didn't teach her how to use a condom, I suppose that's your business, but for god's sake, keep your "moral" beliefs out of medicine.

Every Day...

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...takes figuring out all over again how to fucking live.

Deadwood Season 3 (and final) has started. Thank fucking god.

Dresden Dolls Stuff

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Well, in another month the Dresden Dolls are going to be in Denver again. Because I don't want to wait until after the next show before I post anything from the last show, here is a short video and the only good picture from the last show. The video shows the whole awesome Shadow Amanda thing I was talking about in the post just after the show (but I can't be bothered to properly edit it), while the picture just shows that she is the hottest girl ever.

Video (Quicktime - 10MB)

Picture (JPEG - 100kb)

Just A Reminder...

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...that today is The Day of The Beast!

Please take a moment to reflect on everything that Satan has done for you, and to greet everyone you meet by throwing the goat.

Whatever you do though, don't go see the new Omen remake.

Hello, My Name Is Travis Bickle

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I'm thinking that there is probably something wrong with sitting in front of the TV watching back episodes of Boston Legal and doing dumbell repetitions. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just strikes me as an unhealthy thing to be doing.

If I start standing in front of the mirror and questioning non-existant people regarding what, exactly, it is they are looking at, and if it might, perhaps, be me, given the lack of other subjects for observation, I hope that someone will notice and do something about it.

Otherwise things are freaking awesome.

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