September, 2007: 32 posts.

Leah at the scrimmage

Leah, pursed lips at scrimmage

Awfully cute lady. Even when she’s pursing her lips.

Work Transit Diptych

On the 118.

On the 23.

My chest is aching
Burns like a furnace
The burning keeps me alive

You have left the group websandiego.

You have left the group websandiego.

On March 19, 1999, eight and a half years ago, I started the websandiego mailing list. I started it on onelist at the time. They got eaten by eGroups eventually, who were in turn consumed by Yahoo. I’ve been a moderator and list owner since then, and it has been very rewarding. Everything I learned about managing a community and maybe even public speaking I learned there.

But times change, and tonight I unsubscribed. It’s all about excising those things in your life that are not directly relevant.

Should the unlikely event occur that I live in San Diego again, perhaps I’ll rejoin.

I left no note signing off to the list.

It’s been a pleasure websandiego, I wish you a fine ‘fare thee well.’ Keep in touch if you get the notion.

Hello World

Hello World

Cln shvn

Clean shaven leaving work.

Everything old is new again.

Stolen Commute Moment

Santa Monica

It’s so beautiful here in California. Even the banal is beautiful.

Progress is being made, peace is closer every day.


This week, my hosting company,, will be making several upgrades to the machine I host with.

The biggest transition is that my sites will now be running under PHP5 instead of PHP4.

Yesterday I upgraded the blogs I maintain to the latest and best version of WordPress — version 2.2.3 — and for the most part the transition was painless. Plugins needed to be upgraded, and one in particular has not been upgraded: wpPaginate, which I have replaced with WP-PageNavi. Some of the blogs affected are Rhonchi, Leahpeah, and Stew Sez (though I believe Stew has again abandoned blogging for a while).

Also, there’s a new facility inside WordPress under Manage > Export that allows the export of whole blogs to a single XML file. This is really cool, and this morning I did backups of all those blogs (and some private ones as well):

This is a WordPress eXtended RSS file generated by WordPress as an export of your blog. It contains information about your blog’s posts, comments, and categories. You may use this file to transfer that content from one site to another. This file is not intended to serve as a complete backup of your blog.

I’m not totally sure there are other things I need to change or upgrade to be compatible,  I have a lot of stray crap hosted and I’ll be looking forward to seeing if anything breaks. I think my coding practices are sound, and should hold up, but with system upgrades, one never knows.

In other news, yesterday Leah and I got some clarity on some issues that have been vexing us for a few weeks. Clarity is awesome. We also went to a football game at 8pm of the Moorpark Packers (Senior Green), for which Tony plays and Ty assistant-coaches. It was a good game, the boys won 22 to 6 against Simi. I took a few photos.

Oh, and I totally forgot, but yesterday I nerded out and got my YUI cheatsheets laminated. I’ve been working on a rather intense application of the DataTable library at work that I hope to be able to share real soon now. It’s been difficult but enjoyable to work on it. I’ve worked with large amounts of data before, but now where I’m really the one in charge of the whole application, even a small one. It’s forced me to learn about MySQL indexes. I’ve got two tables, one with 100,000 rows of data, and one with 250,000 rows, and I do joins against those two (and some other helper tables) and when my queries were running slow (8 seconds is too long to wait for a web page!) I ended up researching indexes and got things back in the millisecond range. It’s pretty happy stuff.

In totally unrelated news, I posted this photo the other day…

Tinkerbell mud flap hat

… and it has a Disney label on it, but I’ve utterly failed to find an online version of the hat, not in the Disney Store, not with Google searches, so maybe it’s not actually a licensed product.

War of the Worlds

A few days ago, the Drawn! Blog pointed out the War of the Worlds web comic, published by Dark Horse. It’s been on my “to read” list for a while and today I finally got the chance to drink it in, and WOW is it ever great. Vivid and moving, it’s an excellent adaptation. Check it out. And you might want to check out Drawn! The Illustration and Cartooning Blog too.

War of the Worlds Web Comic

Five Years Ago I Met Leah

September 18, 2002 I met Leah. I met her at a WebSanDiego event at which there were actually two other women I was seeing. In fact, one of these women asked Leah to hold her purse.

I was quite uncomfortable that night, and in no way looking to find anyone to date, let alone live with, marry and move with.

But I did meet her, and I declared WebSanDiego Happy Hour 9 Awesome for it. She stole beans off my plate.

Have we really packed in this much life in five years? It seems we have. I’m glad we did.

In December, we’ll have been married three years.

Here’s a shot from that time: we house-sat together:

Leah and Sky in 2002 x 2

We’ve been through a lot, and it’s all been worth it. System Notices for Just One Server

I mentioned‘s system upgrades the other day, which have now been accomplished and went off — from what I can tell — without a hitch for all the sites I host. Bully for them, and for me!

Before the upgrade happened, I emailed support and got a prompt reply that yes, indeed, there is a way to get notifications of system status beyond their web page of notifications — there’s an RSS Feed.

I subscribed to the feed but found that it contains more information than I really need. I’m hosted on only one machine, so I only need information on that.

So this morning, in just a few minutes, I set up a Yahoo! Pipe to allow me to filter this feed to just my own server. I think it’s pretty wonderful, and it was easy to set up the pipe, which in its edit mode looks like this: System Notices Filter (Yahoo! Pipe)

If you are a user, visit System Notices Filter, enter your server name, and Y!Pipes will provide you with a feed you can subscribe to using your feedreader of choice. There’s also an option to get notified of changes to this feed via email or mobile phone. I subscribed to the feed, and also signed up for notifications to my mobile phone.

Slow Commute

Slow commute

Luckily, I was accompanied by good audio. It’s raining in the Southland. This makes for slow traffic. But with Ze Frank’s If The Earth Were a Sandwich, The Who’s Baba O’Reilly, and History of the United States by Charles A. Beard and Mary Ritter Beard on Librovox, my 1:50 commute time practically went by in a flash.

Well, not really, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it sounds as a measured amount of time to be driving in a car in the rain.

There was also a surreal and wonderful moment of — but I have no photo of it. As I turned north from PCH past Pepperdine, there was a herd (10!) of deer dining on the neatly manicured and newly wet grass on Pepperdine University’s front lawn.

Beautiful, serene, wet.

Belinda Carlisle

Go-Go’s Group Shot

At various times it comes up in conversation that I have a crush on Belinda Carlisle. Well, not Belinda Carlisle as such, but rather the version of Belinda Carlisle when she was in the Go-Go’s, but before the Go-Go’s broke with their smash single “Vacation.” Specifically I believe this version of her was just a little bit chubby, doing drugs and was involved with a lot of debauchery in the bowels of the Los Angeles metropolitan region.

Now, I was only about 10 years old when this version was running around. I only found out about her a few years later — perhaps the late 1980s and early 1990s, in reading about the exploits of the Go-Go’s from that time, tales of wild L.A. nights and taking advantage of male groupies.

I don’t recall that I’ve confessed this here on the blog, so perhaps now’s the time. It came up at lunch a few weeks ago, and I thought I’d commemorate it here.

Tree Wave Love

I mentioned yesterday in a comment in response to a comment my old friend Erin made, wherein she mentions she heard Christina Aguilera and thought of me. Yes, I was so into Christina several years ago that a certain number of people now associate me with her. I’m not listening to that much Christina Aguilera these days.

In my reply I mentioned a band called “Tree Wave,” whose website is located at . They stimulate my brain cells and heart in a way that is rather hard to describe.

I first heard them in the BBS Documentary, where their music is part of the opening credits of some of the pieces. You can read about all the music on that excellent documentary on the BBS Documentary Production: The Music page. You can also download the “Cigarettes and Coffee Introduction” and “Morning Coffee Hymm” on that site.

I never really blogged about the documentary, though I did mention it when Leah interviewed Jason Scott (who directed the documentary). In my email, I did post to the Web405 mailing list this:

I have no idea whether this has been talked about here, but I just got in the mail “BBS: The Documentary” – a 3 DVD set documentary about the
history of BBS’s.

I am filled with nostalgia and wonder. I’ve had it on while working for maybe 20 minutes and I love it. Highest possible recommendation.

– Joe

I wrote that after having watched 20 minutes of the thing. And it only got better. Part of that was the pitch-perfect music that matched the tone and content of the documentaries perfectly. Tree Wave (or is it Treewave?) makes music using antiquated electronic computers. Now, I didn’t know this at the time, and I had no idea there was more than just a few soundtrack pieces from this band.

No, it was while listening to a SXSW recording of a great panel called “Game Perverts” — about people hacking games to do things their creators did not intend. Here’s the description of Paul Slocum’s contribution to the panel by the game website Joystiq:

Paul Slocum took an old Epson LQ500 dot-matrix printer and reversed engineered a box that lets him program and play music through it by changing the speeds and strengths that the pins strike the paper. It really has to be heard to be believed (it’s part of the song – former dot-matrix users will hear it right away). He also uses an Atari 2600 with a modified cartridge to generate drums and “bleep” sounds. Pretty impressive stuff.

You read that right, Tree Wave makes music using things like Dot Matrix printers. On there’s even more detail:

We’re a Dallas based band that makes shoegazy pop music and video using obsolete 70’d and 80’s computer and videogame gear, accompanied by female vocals The code to drive the music and video is our own, and it’s all dirty assembly language. Music comes from Commodore 64s, an old PC FM sound card (OPL3), and a dot matrix printer, and video is all Atari 2600.

Our music is noisy pop, often with unusual song structure, and the video ranges from abstract color noise to actual hacked and deconstructed Atari 2600 games

We perform regularly at festivals and new media venues in New York and Europe, and our cd that we released last year has received a flood of positive reviews Our videos have been screened at galleries and festivals in New York, Canada, and Europe.

It was really a funny moment as I was driving along listening to the panel, because suddenly I was hearing the theme to BBS Documentary and for a split-second thought this guy might be ripping it off! Then I realized this guy was a “good guy” and that he was calling his band “Tree Wave” and I had to seek it out. I still have not bought their CD officially, just listening to publicly available mp3 files, but it’ll be my next music purchase. If you download the SXSW podcast Paul Slocum and his descriptions of reprogramming the firmware by plugging into the font expansion port of a dot matrix printer, and his other descriptions of messing with 1980s hardware starts at about 11:05. Again, for a certain subset of folks out there, I give the highest possible recommendation.

Treewave’s Gear

Also during the SXSW presentation he plays a song using the game Combat and in playing the song it’s laying information over the top of the game’s data area, deconstructing the game. This is wonderful stuff, I wish this YouTube video were better, I think the compression of the Flash video can’t keep up with the 8-bit graphics.

Moorpark Packers Photos Page Needs Work

Last night I uploaded a bunch of photos for a few different teams on the Moorpark Packers.

I have to say though, before the month is out I want to improve the interface for viewing these photos, it’s hacked up from, like, years ago now, and needs some serious love to get it so that people want to actually explore the photos there. Talk about an uninspiring interface!

Moorpark Packers Photos Page 22 September 2007

Supercharming: Google explains iGoogle to Japan

Found via JapanProbe, which describes it thus:

This video, in which Google spokesman Brad tells Japanese netizens about how they can customize their Google Homepage with iGoogle, has been featured on the main page of YouTube Japan:

Think it will convince many Japanese netizens to stop using Yahoo over Google?

1971 Zappa Documentary

This is in no way safe for work. But it’s a fascinating look into the world of Frank Zappa from the Flo & Eddy era. There’s bad language, drugs (only cigarettes for frank), sexuality, and more. Worth it for Zappa Fans.

robots.txt Crawling and Stats

I found robots.txt Adventure really compelling.

Anyone with the time and inclination to do broad studies of all the web, or at least as wide a portion as you can get your arms around, is fine by me.

It’s impressive enough when someone like Google does it, as in 2005’s Web Authoring Statistics, but when an individual does it, that’s some compelling stuff.

The uncov boys are doing something pretty interesting with Persai, but haven’t showed anything public yet.

In Search of Steve Ditko

Steve DitkoOh man, this is good. A BBC Documentary about comics creator Steve Ditko. It’s delightful, and I sure hope it stays up on YouTube. THE BEAT :In Search of Steve Ditko

via The Beat Blog.

Tried and True

Dave Segovia

Several million years ago I used to work alongside a fellow Respiratory Therapist named Dave. We worked alongside each other and he’d say wise and smartassed things on the night shift at California Hospital. Good work and good talk. Now, it turns out the dude blogs about things Los Angeles, but especially what he calls newsvixens, plus aerospace, politics, military, aerospace, poetry, and music. He’s kind of out there, but it’s good to reconnect with a voice I thought I’d never hear again.

His kid was a kid when he worked with me, now, Vincent is in college and takes photos like the above.

Check out Dave out at

Consistent with Reality

Jim Kunstler writes Shock and Awe

Reality is telling us to shift from avoidance behavior and denial to engaging with reality in order to lead lives that are consistent with reality.

Sometime the truth hurts or stings. Jim Kunstler is talking about many things to do with the US economy there.

One of the great things about listening to the Dave Ramsey podcast is his emphasis that life is hard, the fundamentals matter, and you’ve got to face what’s right in front of you or you’ll end up drowning in it. Dave talks about debt, but facing up to reality matters in all matters.

But damn if it’s not hard to face reality. But reality doesn’t go away just because we want things to be a certain way.

The good thing is that reality can be shaped and pushed at, it’s possible to make changes in this world. There’s always hope. There’s always another thing to try.

Never surrender, never relent, ever — Onward.

Blog Upgraded to WordPress 2.3

WordPress 2.3 is out and I have updated to it without incident.

The big new addition is tags, though I will need to update my themes to view those. I’ve never been quite comfortable with the Categories system in WordPress, perhaps the tagging in 2.3 is a good answer, I certainly enjoy tags in flickr and

Ha, spoke too soon. It looks like Google Sitemaps 2.7.1 is using an archaic construction (table ‘*_post2cat’ doesn’t exist) so I had to upgrade that plugin. Here’s some conversation on this change.

But all is not rosy, I tried to delete a new test post and got the message “You are not allowed to delete this post.” — not cool. So I set it to “draft” and will wait.

Looks like 2.3 has some quirks.

My Mom’s Cancer (Update)

So it’s been a few months since my Mom’s stroke and subsequent diagnosis of Stage IV Renal Cancer. She’s been through a bunch of chemotherapy, ups and downs, but generally is in great spirits and kicking butt. A few weeks ago she was out with my Dad and the rest of my family to San Diego. She was fine, except for some thrush on her tongue making it uncomfortable for her to eat and talk. That cleared up a week or so later, so, great.

Meanwhile, she was off chemo for a few weeks and had a CT scan that gave a bigger view of what’s up with the cancer. Sounds like the cancer in her lungs is less, while the kidney cancer is slightly larger and we can see it impinging on the renal vein. So… the timing is right and my Mom has been scheduled for surgery for October 6th to remove the kidney that has the tumor.

I iChatted with her and my Dad and his Army buddy Ray, plus my Sister and her Fianceé (I’m capitalizing Everybody today).

I think that covers it. Your thoughts and prayers have meant a great deal to me, and by proxy my family.

Here’s the update via my sister:

My mom is scheduled to have surgery to remove her kidney on Saturday, October 6th at 10am. We expect her to be in the hospital for approximately 4-5 days. My father is taking a week off to be with her after surgery. Daniel and I are planning on being in Roanoke at least through the holiday.

Overall, mom is doing good. She has been off chemotherapy for several weeks, recovering from side effects. The cancer in her brain is slowly diminishing since her cyberknife treatments in June and the lesions in her lungs have gotten smaller since her last treatment of Torisel in August.

Love to all,

my resume sucks, what to do about it

I really like that Steve Yegge fellow. He’s funny and smart and he builds stuff with computers. That’s my kind of people.

Stevey’s Blog Rants: Ten Tips for a (Slightly) Less Awful Resume

Face it: all the traditional advice about trying to convince the hiring manager that you’re a plucky, scrappy young individual from a farm in Alabama who’s destined for greatness on account of your Uncle Ted having given you that pep talk after you fell off your horse when you were a kid — that advice may as well have come from the back end of your horse, because the hiring manager just wants to profile your current skill set. Mr. Plucky goes into the Round File.

Don’t get all depressed about this tip. People will start caring more about you as a person in later phases of the recruiting process, particularly if you’re one of those candidates who doesn’t really like showering.

Time Warner, Cabletards

So this morning I spent THIRTY-FIVE minutes at the local office of Time Warner Cable because apparently we had not paid our bill.

But of course, we had, several times, since we have moved. But somehow, twice this week, they shut us off for nonpayment.

My time at TW taught me that the payments they even though I canceled the service at our old address, changed my address with them, and transferred our account, and initialized service at the new account, and returned our equipment from the old account to their office, and had installation of new equipment at the new address, and have been happily using the cable services (Digital Cable and Cable Internet) at the new address… it seems the prior account is what we’ve been paying on, so while they’ve happily accepted our payments since May, it apparently has applied to the old address, or the old account. This is confusing.

Now, Leah, trooper that she is, has several times this week talked to these — let’s call them Cabletards — (the -tards suffix is after FSJ) and gotten them to turn the cable back on and it’ll all be resolved, what they finally told her is the only way to resolve this is to go down there in person.

So this morning, I did, and so now, apparently, they’re actually going to cancel the previous account, and actually apply all the payments from the old to the new, and all will be right with the world. That is, assuming the accounting department can resolve the various charges, false charges, payments, payments to the wrong place, etc.

What year is it that I have to go down in person to an office to resolve an account problem?

I suppose if I wake up to dead internet cable in the morning I’ll get to visit them again.

American Innovation: Sushi

I have mentioned before how much I esteem Thomas P.M. Barnett. In a recent blog post he points out a USA Today story about a new term in American Islam: Sushi

The quote from the USA Today story:

He calls himself “Sushi,” the popular term for a combination of Sunni and Shiite. Once the glib nickname for the children of intermarried couples, it has become shorthand for Muslim who blur sectarian lines.

Here’s TPMB’s comments:

Gotta love “Sushi.” Yet another example of Japan’s successful cultural exports! Seriously. A term people choose for themselves because the word strikes them as cool.

None of this is to suggest that America grows less religious, because just the opposite is true. But don’t confuse rising religiosity (more faith and more practice) with rising religion (the institutions and hierarchies and sectarianism that come with them).

The rule set on religion gets looser in America even as people get more intense about it. It becomes more personalized and direct and about “the book.”

And it becomes non-denominational as a result.

Read Stephen Prothero’s history of faith in America in his Religious Literacy, and you’ll see the argument plain as day.

Yet another reason why I do not worry about losing any “Long War.” The outcome was never in doubt. Just our belief in ourselves.

That book “Religious Literacy” looks pretty good.

ATTN Web Designers: Ashley Qualls Beats You At Internet

MySpace millionaire says “whatever” to high school

Go Ashley Go!

Ashley’s business is

At first I found the 17 year old’s story a bit depressing, but after thinking about it a bit I find it really inspiring.

communication usually fails, except by accident

Wiio’s laws are humoristically formulated serious observations about how human communication usually fails except by accident. This document comments on the applicability and consequences of the laws, especially as regards to communication on the Internet.

  1. Communication usually fails, except by accident.
    1. If communication can fail, it will
    2. If communication cannot fail, it still most usually fails
    3. If communication seems to succeed in the intended way, there’s a misunderstanding
    4. If you are content with your message, communication certainly fails
  2. If a message can be interpreted in several ways, it will be interpreted in a manner that maximizes the damage
  3. There is always someone who knows better than you what you meant with your message
  4. The more we communicate, the worse communication succeeds
    1. The more we communicate, the faster misunderstandings propagate
  5. In mass communication, the important thing is not how things are but how they seem to be
  6. The importance of a news item is inversely proportional to the square of the distance
  7. The more important the situation is, the more probably you forget an essential thing that you remembered a moment ago

Site Maintenance; Leah 2002

You may have noticed I’ve reverted the theme of this blog back to my prior black with zig-zag sidebars and away from the excellent free theme I had been using. In the end using someone else’s theme on my blog feels wrong to me. It’s not really showing my crufty personality and peculiar oddness in the way I would hope.

Today I moved some large files that were taking up space and not contributing to my site. It may not be obvious, but I have a boatload of old content on this site, which I’ve been systematically hiding, putting more emphasis on the blog. It’s time to go through these old files and keep what’s good, and scrap what sucks.

To that end, I’m doing maintenance today. And what should I find in amongst some setup files? Why there’s some old teeny photos of Leah from before I knew her. They’re from her birthday in 2002, I believe. She looks like she’s having a good time. Of course, I look at these and I know that these are from the time when her marriage was breaking up and a whole lot of other stuff was happening. But the straws in her hair are so cute, I felt I must put them up online.


Zappa Morning

via Kill Ugly Radio

And also, Adrian Belew recently made two posts about adventures in Frank Zappa’s world:

Every good morning should begin with a little Frank.

Frank Zappa, 1984, NYC, Screen Capture

Jon Lech Johansen on iPhone Bricking

Thoughtful thinking from DVD Jon who knows about this stuff.

Think Closed
Has Nokia or Sony Ericsson ever bricked or refused service on an unlocked phone? Not that I’ve heard of, and if they did, they would have been quickly sued in several countries where consumer rights are more strongly protected.

Did Sony ever brick PSPs over homebrew software? Did Microsoft ever overwrite someone’s BIOS with garbage because they detected an illegitimate Windows installation?

In light of other things Apple has done lately, such as adding an encrypted hash to the iPod database to lock out non-Apple software and disabling TV-out on the iPod unless the 3rd party accessory you’re using has an Apple authentication chip, it’s evident that Apple is well on its way to become one of the most consumer hostile tech companies.

Soyrizo & Eggs

Soyrizo & Eggs

Mexican. Vegan. Kosher. Soy. Awesome.

Dead PHP3 Code

People don’t write PHP like this anymore, or, if they do, they get hurt badly. This is old code of mine. Timestamp is January 29, 2002. Yeesh.

$where_they_are = 'http://' . $SERVER_NAME . $REQUEST_URI;
if ($HTTP_REFERER!='')
{ $recipientlist='';
$emailsubject="visit to $SERVER_NAME via " . $HTTP_REFERER;
$emailbody="someone came to $where_they_are
ip address:  $REMOTE_ADDR
remote host: $REMOTE_HOST
user agent:  $HTTP_USER_AGENT
$lastname='Notification Email';
$recipientlist, $emailsubject, $emailbody,
"From: $firstname $lastname <$email>\nReply-To: $email\nX-Mailer: PHP/" .
} else { echo '<!--mailreferer.php3-->'; };
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