Smorgasborg - Random Objects

February, 2010: 32 posts.

creativity is… (according to google)

This is a reply to @leahpeah‘s tweet: Could you please fill in the last part of the sentence? Creativity is…..?:

Here’s what other people are thinking as of today, says google:

creativity is... (on google)

30 Rock Appreciation

I have now looked at everything on the (not-safe-for-work named) blank yeah liz lemon. I was laughing maniacally at this site. Why? I don’t know, it’s not like I’ve not seen the images and heard the lines spoken, still, I laughed.

Two selections, they may not make you laugh if you don’t watch the show, sorry about that. If you have Netflix, you can watch the first 3 seasons on demand. You can watch more recent episodes, with commercials, online if you want:

Liz Lemon: You take a hot dog.
Stuff it with some Jack cheese
Fold it in a pizza
(with air guitar) You got Cheesy Blasters!
Liz Lemon: And all the kids say, “Thanks Meat Cat!” And Meat Cat flies away on his, um, skateboard.

Dr. Leo Spaceman (pronounced “spah-cheh-men”): If you want a shot you’re gonna have to dance for it.
(Liz dances)
Dr. Leo Spaceman: Very nice.

“That’s trouble of some kind George.”

“That’s trouble of some kind George.”

Challenger Explosion amateur video footage.

Still breaks my heart.

TED TALK: Tom Shannon

Leah, I think you will like this one.

jQuery Southwest Virginia

I have no presumptions about how many folks in Southwest Virginia are JavaScript programmers and jQuery fans, but given the nice interface jQuery has given for meetups (they are using ning under the hood), I thought I’d set up a meetup for Roanoke / Blacksburg / New River Valley folks who program in JavaScript.

If you’re interested, sign up at and this will happen sooner rather than later!

Quote of the Day, E-Government, Snow Shoveling

My quote of the day, for February 3, 2010, was from Rob McNealy: Why I Am Running as a Libertarian for Colorado’s CD 6:

We hear every time the Republicans or Democrats lose the White House, that they need to “rebuild” the party, or that they “need to take the party back.” If the parties were doing the right thing to begin with, there would be no need to rebuild them. Over the last 100 plus years, regardless of the rhetoric, the parties have never been rebuilt into something that resembles a government that the Founding Fathers would feel comfortable with. Each election cycle, regardless of which party is in the White House, brings our Republic further and further away from the Constitution, and closer to some sort of statist or fascist government.

I am not capital “L” Libertarian, though I have been known to vote for folks other than “R” or “D” candidates (yes, I once voted for Ralph Nader). I appreciate the principled point of view of this McNealy fellow, and I wish him well.

I note that on his site he is using Facebook, flickr, linkedin, twitter, meetup, ustream, YouTube, MySpace, AddtoAny, and Google Calendar. That is a pretty complete array of social media and web tools for any business to be using. I’m heartened to see tools like these being used in such a smart way folks participating in the political process. This morning I did some snow shoveling and listened to podcasts. Several were about government, specifically “e-gov” initiatives. Now that Leah and I have moved to Virginia, we’re that much closer to Washington, D.C.

Washington hosts some interesting tech and government events. The Gov 2.0 Expo is coming up in May, for example. There’s a pretty good site for DC events: DC Tech Events.

Anyway, back to the podcasts. One of them was a conversation between John Culberson and Tim O’Reilly. It was fascinating to hear him speak about his experiences using everything from BBS’s in 1987 to twitter in 2010 to go about his political life. I disagree with Culberson politically, I think on just about every current issue, but I agree completely with his usage of, and belief in freedom, open data, and daylight when it comes to how government operates. I found it inspiring and it’s well worth a listen.

How did I get to my quote of the day? I got it via local blogger: Stuart Bain, who is running for Congress here.

My snow shoveling was successful, though it appears I will not be running out of snow to shovel anytime soon.

Elna Baker on The Sound of Young America

I’m married into a family of Latter-Day Saints, commonly known as Mormons, so when a person has that background comes into my other cultural interests I take note.

Elna Baker is a comedian and writer who was pretty fun. Worth a listen. I’ve embedded this audio interview below:

The Sound of Young America

Stack Overflow Reputation

It’s been about a year since I have been on Stack Overflow. Stack Overflow is a site for computer programmers of all skill levels to ask and answer questions. It works pretty great, and I have gotten some good answers there.

Stack Overflow uses a point system to measure reputation as a number. It also awards “badges” for certain criteria.

Reputation is a (very) rough measurement of how much the Stack Overflow community trusts you. Reputation is never given, it is earned by convincing other Stack Overflow users that you know what you’re talking about.

Here’s how it works: if you post a good question or helpful answer, it will be voted up by your peers: you gain 10 reputation points. If you post something that’s off topic or incorrect, it will be voted down: you lose 2 reputation points. You can earn up to 200 reputation per day, but no more. (Note that votes for any posts marked “community wiki” do not generate reputation.)

Compare with how XBox Gamerscores work:

Your gamerscore is made up of all of the points you earn for earning achievements in Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Arcade games. Each achievement has a certain number of points associated with it so your gamerscore is a way to show other people what games you have played and what you have accomplished. Each 360 game has around 1000 points to earn while arcade games have 200.

I think it’s an effective lubricant to participation, and a pretty good way to slowly give users more capabilities on a website.

If you do any programming, and have never been to Stack Overflow, I would be interested in your first impressions of the site.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

For Leah:

Valentine, you really pack a wallop!

image via thisisnthappiness

WordPress Graphical Post Count Visualization

I’m playing with a new theme for my blog, and wanted a better way to let people quickly scan for how many posts I had. So I used a background image of black, offset with background-position in css to let a graph “show through” to show the count.

I’ve also posted the PHP and CSS code for WordPress to make this work:

It looks better larger:

Pardon my dust. Plus, ancient “under construction” GIFs.

As I mentioned, I’m playing with the blog theme, including the archive footer. Things may look a little odd, or error, in the interim. I hope not much. Pardon my dust.

Clearly, it’s time for an animated under construction sign (warning, your eyes may be repulsed by that page full of old animated GIFs):

And yes, that second GIF features “Duke” the Java language mascot.

Revisiting my workspace from 2002.

So I mentioned working on my blog theme today, and rejiggering my archive pages, for example December 2002. I’m liking looking at each month and year’s posts sequentially.

It has given me a chance to revisit some old posts, for example: Back in the saddle again. In it, I talk about a bunch of things, my divorce, and I link to a (now dead site) which showcased people’s working areas, including mine. I found the photo in the excellent web archive.

I posted it because my friend Erin had moved in and made that workspace no longer my workspace.

Strange to see it, and think about how long ago that was. posts recovered.

Last night I was giddy with happiness to find my missing posts (all 8 of them) on

I had all but given up on ever finding these old files. If I recall, the features of Audioblogger were provided free to users of Blogger.

I am quite sentimental about the posts from December 2004, as they document Leah’s and my marriage.

It looks like Audioblogger (or was it called simply Audblog?, when did the name change?) became part of Odeo. This description of Odeo on wikipedia seems wrong to me, but I’m not sure:

Odeo was originally developed by founders Noah Glass and Evan Williams, who were previously founders of Audioblog and Pyra Labs respectively, and received funding from Charles River Ventures. Subsequently, Williams bought out Charles River’s interest in the company, as well as several other investors, and reformed the organization under a new company, Obvious Corp, which planned to develop new products, including Twitter.

Twitter I’m guessing you’ve heard of. There’s a post on Metafilter announcing “audioBLOGGER” from February 27, 2003. Audioblogger closed November 1, 2006, according to BoingBoing. I remember hearing about this and I recovered the files, but never put them somewhere permanent for myself. So how did I find them? I looked up the full url on, like this:


So I took advantage, and all the 8 files I lost were found. I wonder when these files went back online? I did a quick twitter search for mentions and found this post:

vbspurs: This was the link to the Audioblogger link of me talking: Doesn’t work, at least not at the mo’.

I tried my guess that many might be online and then–success!–I was listening to a file from a random twitter stranger, but from 2005:*/

I have checked periodically over the years and never had success. Are all the files that were once lost on now found via When did this happen?

Liz Prince

Today’s comic from Liz Prince is adorable.

No, really, ADORABLE.

Have you clicked through yet? Because it’s really adorable.

Seriously, click.

On Foursquare, nobody knows if you’re in the North Pole.

(title of this post modeled on “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”)

Puzzle & Processing maven Jim Bumgardner had quite a week! In his post Mayor of the North Pole today he detailed the shenanigans he got into playing with Foursquare, The Foursquare API, and curl. I saw him speak at BarCampLA 7 in May last year, and he is inventive, smart, and witty.

I was thinking about sending false data to Foursquare after I did my first checkin today at The Mojo Cafe here in Roanoke. I was struggling to make FoursquareX work on my laptop. I don’t currently have an iPhone, Android, or other smartphone, so I had to text “@ The Mojo Cafe” to 50500. That was it. Soon enough I got a reply to my phone saying:

“OK! We’ve got you at The Mojo Cafe.(+6 pts!) You’ve also unlocked the newbie badge!

I wondered if anything would keep me from checking in from the gas station down the block, or someplace in Africa? I was not sending any geodata, I didn’t think an SMS would carry any location or closest cell tower data to 50500. They trusted me.

I wonder if Dodgeball dealt with “fibbing” checkins and if so, how did they deal with it? How about Brightkite? How about FireEagle?

Marketers love Foursquare. For example: Restaurants should use Foursquare for Marketing and Foursquare’s plan to rule local advertising. Bumgardner addresses this:

More generally, I think the combination of a poorly moderated and insecure folksonomy with incentives (e.g. badges, mayorships, free meals, etc.) is a fragile one. The greater the incentives, the greater the motivation for cheating.

As it stands right now, foursquare has quite a few holes. If I were a restaurateur or coffee shop owner, I would be very wary of giving free meals or lattes to foursquare mayors, unless the employees know the mayor by sight.

I think the UI of the Foursquare apps thus far has cut down on bad data. They also let you define private spots for just you and your friends. As I understand it, the official Foursquare mobile apps attempt to locate you using GPS; in this way they limit the possibility of choosing false venues.. This limits most people’s ability to game the system. API calls and text message checkins subvert that aspect of the UI. This is an interesting problem and I wonder how it’ll get resolved.

The other aspect of the system that I think must prevent some abuse is “fair play.” I think it would be less satisfying, as far as a game goes, to win a Mayorship by cheating the system. Nicole Lazzaro’s The 4 Fun Keys talks about the emotion of “fiero“–the feeling you get when you succeed at something difficult–it’s a kind of exhilaration. I suspect cheating would take away some of that “game” aspect of “playing” Foursquare. But I suppose cheating it would be yet another kind of game. Why not check in at Brigadoon or Atlantis or R’lyeh for the fun of it? A different kind of fun, but fun. It reminds me of the “Fakester Purge,” which was when Friendster deleted accounts of “fictional characters.” Will Foursquare struggle in a similar way?

The other day I wrote about Stack Overflow’s game-like aspects. Gamasutra also recently wrote about Foursquare in that context, see page 2 for the good bits about the theory of Foursquare.

I wonder what all this means for location-based services. Could apps be forced to go through extra authentication? If you lack GPS data, how can you verify someone is where she claims she is? And if you can’t eliminate unverified data, how well can you mitigate against its effects?

Also: I welcome folks more familiar with Foursquare and other location based services to correct me on details I may have gotten wrong.

Playing around with deformed images

The other day the super-cool Pinguino was asking about the effect you get when an image does not download properly.

I had wondered about it before, so I opened some images, tore out a big chunk of the underlying data, and looked at them. The first is what it looks like when a GIF is torn apart, and the second is what happens when it happens to a JPG.

It’s a neat effect.

NC JavaScript & jQuery Camp

I had a lot of fun at Durham’s “NC JavaScript & jQuery Camp” today. Lots of driving, but even more learning and connection-making.

I was particularly happy to create my first <canvas> drawing from watching @miketaylr‘s slides on HTML5. Here’s the source:

window.onload = function() {
	var ctx = document.querySelector('#c').getContext('2d');
	ctx.lineWidth = 20;
	ctx.lineCap = 'square';
	ctx.lineJoin = 'round';
	ctx.strokeStyle = '#c9f'; // 'rgb(247, 63,20)';
<canvas id="c" height=400 width=400></canvas>

I turned it into a gist too:

I’m impressed with github for code sharing.

Also, there were open slots and I decided to present a little bit on my moribund ArtLung Rosetta project. Also on GitHub. It wasn’t well attended, but @jsmag attended and had great questions and ideas, and also, Peter Higgins of Dojo dropped in and had suggestions as well, particularly to look at the cross-platform code run in TaskSpeed, which specifically compares the performance of code to do similar tasks. The code was presented by original framework developers so it’s idiomatic and theoretically the best it could be. I in no way planned to present, but when there were slots I figured I take a shot for some constructive feedback.

Here are the slides I whipped together in 10 minutes using OpenOffice:

ArtLung Rosetta Presentation for NC JQuery & JavaScript Camp from artlung

The pushback that is a great idea would be side-by side comparisons of controls such as accordions, messagepanes, tabs, etc, compared between higher level frameworks, as opposed to the libraries which concern me in Rosetta. I’m thinking of YUI, jQueryUI, ExtJS, etc.

We’re really experiencing a renaissance of JavaScript libraries and tools. It’s a great time to be a JavaScript developer.

As for Durham / “The Triangle” — there’s clearly enthusiasm and activity there for events and people doing interesting work. I would never have found this event, though, if I had not made an effort to put together my Roanoke Web Tech Efforts. The drive down was three hours fifteen minutes, but none of it was stop-and-go traffic. So in that sense, better than Southern California. I actually got a chance to listen to an episode of yayQuery, a podcast which features some of the folks that attended, and one who was the main organizer, of today’s event, Rebecca Murphey. The podcast has a high-level of silliness, but there’s a fair amount of good jQuery content embedded in the rainbows and unicorns too.

Oh! Also, I got a copy of JSMag, which provided free issues to attendees. I’ve only skimmed it but will be taking a look at it this week.

That’s all, I’m exhausted.

Leahpeah Photo by Chookooloonks

Leahpeah at mom 2.0 summit 2010, by chookooloonks!

Excellent photo of Leah by chookooloonks the beautiful faces of mom 2.0. It sounds like Leah had a good time at Mom 2.0 Summit

San Francisco, BlogHer, and Me

Sometimes, drafts of posts sit in “draft” mode for a long time. I drafted this in August of 2008, a year and a half ago. I’m updating it as best I can and pushing it out into the world.

For the past two years, my wife Leah has attended the main BlogHer Conference.

The first time she came back, she was utterly exhausted, physically and emotionally. After the 2006 one, she vowed not to do any panels or interviewing because they are just too tiring. She also wanted me to come along. It turns out I am helpful to her when she’s riding the whirlwind like this. That’s fair, because I get the same sustenance from her. When 2007 came around, we were not financially fit enough for me to come along to Chicago, so she went alone, and was again completely spent at the end of it.

But 2008 was different. We’d paid off much more debt, had some emergency savings (though not much) and the conference was in San Francisco, so we could drive. We decided on it and when July came around it really looked like both of us could go.

So I went. I got the “cocktail party-only” registration. She attended both the panels and the cocktail parties, but was not doing a panel or minding Amy Sedaris. I had a great time meeting people, but my emphasis was really on exploring San Francisco as lazily as possible. In this lazy jaunting, I was successful. I met cool people galore. Much more happened than I can hope to relate, but here’s a shot.

We started for San Francisco on a Thursday. Of course, as has been the trend that Summer, the air conditioner broke and so we were delayed waiting for the repairman. We had intended to leave in the morning but ended up leaving after noon.

We got to San Francisco and the Westin St. Francis on Union Square before the introductory cocktail parties started. We were on time despite having been delayed.

I enjoyed the drive. We drove north on the 5 Freeway, which is inland. Most people love to drive along the coast, and I do love the Pacific. But the inland route was beautiful. I cannot quite put my finger on why I got choked up after dropping down into the San Joaquin Valley and getting through the Grapevine. What I twittered was: “Fresno county. There’s nothing here, but I find it beautiful. Leah finds it unremarkable. Not sure what my strong emotional reaction’s about” — and Doug Welch replied on Friendfeed: “For me, it is the simple relief from the “crush” of the city. Open space is a balm for the soul.”

That may have been part of it. I respond to water–The Mighty Pacific–that way. I can get the same relief from swimming though, even with the big city about. I wonder if the past two decades has short circuited my sense of patriotism, and my psyche is compensating by becoming patriotic for the idea of California. It’s often said, usually by Californians, that if California were an independent nation, we’d be the the seventh largest economy in the world. I wonder if California is a suitable patriotism substitute.

So we checked in at the Westin. Almost immediately Leah started running into people she knows or blogs with or reads and it was a bit like me at a WebSanDiego event in 2003. Everyone knew her. They were delighted to see her. I was “an appendage” but I felt very welcomed. BlogHer is super-social, and the hotel was filled with women connecting and reconnecting.

And that’s pretty much where I ran out of steam. From there it is all a blur of people and places.

Some highlights, at random.

I met some really cool people: Oh, The Joys is a blogger from Georgia. She’s a great conversationalist and we talked about blogging, blog comments, and how intensely folks can ascribe meaning to who is or isn’t commenting at any one time. Here in 2010, I’m just happy I get to read her blog.

Avocado8 I met at some mixer thing, and we immediately could talk JavaScript and web development. She also has bitchin’ hair, which Leah wanted a photo of so she could have her hairdresser try it out. It was tricky, because it was pretty dark inside that first mixer location.

Ruby Skye

Abigail, from OC, I already knew but I really enjoyed her company. I think we all shared a packed cab on the way to the Mighty Haus party at Adaptive Path. She was pretty great at adding to the whiteboard when I started an impromptu “exquisite corpse.” Actually, the MH party was good all around, there was also dancing and music and lots of great conversations. I remember talking to blurbomat about theoretical “Black Hat BlogHim” topics. We cracked each other up with jokes like that. Well, I was cracked up, perhaps Jon was humoring me. You can also check out his Thoughts on BlogHer 2008, where he talks about much deeper things than I realized he had going on when I saw him. It’s a worthy read.

Here’s a photo of part of the exquisite corpse whiteboard:

Whoorl was charming and funny. I can’t remember if I had already met her in SoCal or not, but her blog is also worth reading. Great stuff. I also got to meet Uppercase Woman, who was really cool as well. I can’t remember if she was at that first Mixer or the MightyHaus event though. Sorry about that.

Oh, and Ingrid. I worked with Ingrid in San Diego and it was awesome to see her. She’s a great person, a great developer, and a great manager. Definitely one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She lives in Boulder now.

Also from Boulder was Andrew Hyde, a very interesting cat and man-about-web–he was along at a breakfast we went to down near where Al Abut lives. I forget the area, but it was pretty good.

I also got to have lunch with Paulo at Il Palio, and it was great. It was great catching back up with him. I knew him from the very earliest days of websandiego, I want to say about 2001 or 2002. He was always partly NoCal and SoCal, but he tears it up in web development up there.

So I explored San Francisco when we weren’t socializing. I went lots of places, on foot or on the bus. It was a fun adventure, and I even took a few photos.

Isotope Comics was by far the best comic book store I had ever been in. I was turned onto Scott Pilgrim there, and for that I am eternally grateful to James Sime, the larger-than-life proprietor. I still follow him on twitter, where his bio currently reads:

Life devourer. Culture monger. Suit addict. And owner of SF’s Isotope – the comic book lounge.

That dude is cool.

I also went to Action Figure Freddy, which apparently has now closed. I took this shot of the giant, sexy, anime-style Princess Leia in the window.

At Action Figure Freddy

Also, there’s also a great bookstore: Bibliohead. And landmarks Coit Tower and Lombard Street. I took a lot of photos of the Coit Tower Murals and did mention them before. I also took the Muni partly to get around. It was fun to explore on foot. Driving in San Francisco is a bit of a pain. Well, the driving is actually fun, but the parking is a bitch. Another thing I did was go see the recently released Dark Knight at Metreon, which was cool, but not as cool as the name might imply. Across town, I ate at Lou’s Pier 47. Great cajun food, and some live music too.

There was even more. It’s a pity I didn’t get to do everything in the excellent suggestions my blog commenters had. But I had a wonderful time, regardless.

Capricorn One

Capricorn One

Capricorn One is a favorite movie of mine. If it’s on TV, particularly if it’s on widescreen, I can scarcely avoid it.

It came out in 1978. I saw it the year it came out. It left a big impression on me.

Part of my fascination was that there can be things that are stated are true that are not.

Part of it is how resourceful, brave people can beat the odds if they try really hard, but that sometimes those same people end up getting killed for it.

Also, that if you’re in the desert you can kill a snake and eat it raw.

And that you could fake a landing on Mars, almost.

And that it takes weeks to get to Mars.

The film features a cast of characters of well known folks: Elliot Gould (a family favorite is the chilling Silent Partner, and he’s great in M*A*S*H. I think the coat he wears inspired my high school self a bit. Sam Watterson (years before Law & Order), OJ Simpson and Brenda Vacarro are all good. Also James Brolin: I was told I looked like him once–I think it was that I had a full beard at the time. Hal Holbrook, who I would see 22 years later in Mark Twain Tonight is really great as a man responsible for a giant lie. Holbrook makes you believe that there’s a righteous case to be made for lying to the American people.

For an alternative view, check out this negative review. The Space Review has a more nuanced view, thankfully we have not had to endure the remake that film refers to. Here’s what it has to say about what sparked the thought of the film:

Capricorn One is the kind of movie that can only be fully appreciated if you consider the period that it was made, most notably in the years following both Vietnam and Watergate. Peter Hyams had worked as a reporter in Vietnam, where he became convinced that the government could conceal a great big lie if top officials wanted to do so. After all, Nixon had waged his “secret war” in Cambodia. Later revelations, such as the Church and Pike congressional investigations that revealed CIA plots to overthrow governments and kill Castro with exploding cigars and poisoned wetsuits, only added to anti-government paranoia. The movie reflects not only distrust of government, but also features the crusading reporter as hero; All the President’s Men, about Woodward and Bernstein and Watergate, had already been a hit movie two years earlier.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a viewing.

Larry King: Carvelle Story, Moppo Story

Back in 2002 I ripped some audiotapes I had of two stories told by Larry King. I said:

…some Larry King stories I had taped from his old Mutual radio show back in 1986 — The famed “Carvelle Story” and “Moppo Story” — very funny stuff

I had been reluctant to post them out of fears about bandwidth and copyright rules, but since my efforts over the years to contact Larry King and ask permission have proved fruitless, and since I will gladly take them down if asked nicely by the real copyright owner, I decided to go ahead.

And so, originally recorded by me back in 1986 from the radio, from Larry King‘s old Mutual Radio Network radio show, are not just two but three stories: The Moppo Story, the Carvelle Story, and a story about a lady caller: My favorite is probably the Carvelle story because it brings to mind my own adventures driving long distances for a not-particularly good reason back when I was a teenager.

The Carvelle Story

The Moppo Story

Lady Caller Story

I hope you enjoy these stories. I used to love listening to Larry King’s radio show and these days wish I had recorded more of it. I remember listening to musicians, politicians, artists. I’m pretty sure the first time I heard Frank Zappa it was on Larry King. Fun fact, you can hear a bit of his show at the very beginning of the Albert Brooks film Lost In America.

Enact Partners Website Refurbish

I did a bit of website work for Enact Partners, and these changes are now live. I did a basic refurbishment of their site with an emphasis on making it more visible in search engines.

The technical problem was that all of the text of the site was hidden as images. Without “alt” attributes an image is invisible to Google and other search engines. Google has advice about using images and alt text.

I also added a robots.txt file and an XML sitemap. I had to modify my usual PHP sitemap code as the site is running PHP with some extra security settings (particularly, the file() function is disabled.

I got the XHTML and CSS to validate, always a good thing. I like how speedy the site is compared to previously.

Pinguino made a duct tape dress

Designer, cartoonist, cool person Pinguino made a dress out of duct tape. That is awesome.

pinguino duct tape dress

More photos.

Zappa Plays Zappa

Zappa Plays Zappa

On Saturday, December 13, 2008, I had the pleasure to see Zappa Plays Zappa. I failed to write extensively about it, I only mentioned it. I had a wonderful time.

You can see other writings where I mention Mr. Zappa by viewing blog posts tagged “frank-zappa”.

And of course there is my old short piece I am a Frank Zappa fan.

I will say the performance of the epic, wonderful, funny, silly, Billy The Mountain had me weeping about the fact that I never saw Frank Zappa perform live.

You can see ZPZ if you want, or check out some video snippets and related material. There’s a video you can buy of course, but see it live if you can.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite Zappa blogger and twitterer: Kill Ugly Radio · @killuglyradio.

Stupid Relentless Cancer

I have written about my Mom and her struggle with cancer before, starting in 2007: here and here and here and here and here and here.

Here we are, in 2010, two and a half years later and my Mom keeps moving forward. All the energy on display in those prior blog posts is there pretty much all the time. She’s a whirling dervish of activity. She plays bridge, she learns mahjong, she lunches, she goes to Adoration. She seems to know everyone and everyone seems to know her.

Leah and I are here day in and day out, now. While Mom has her ups and downs, she manages to keep her sun-shiny attitude pretty well intact. She’s happier and more fully actualized than most people I know.

I’ve not written anything about how she’s doing. Her regimen for many many months has been to take the drug Sutent for two weeks on, one week off. It takes a toll–sometimes she can’t complete a full 14 day cycle before taking a break. It seems to be working though, we think it’s the Sutent that shrinks the existing tumors.

She came back from her main cancer doc today, and it looks like it’s time for more radiation. The most recent MRI and CT scans showed some new growths, but also shrinkages of the existing growths, in both her brain and lungs. The new growths are in bad enough spots that her main doctor seems to think it’s time to do Gamma Knife again. That means a trip to Pittsburgh.

It’s frustrating how relentless cancer is. It simply will not sleep and my Mom is doing a pretty great job battling it. She watches what she eats–she tried being vegan and vegetarian for a while–with mixed results. She continues to moderate her diet and habits to try and stay healthy. She’s gotten lucky. Some would say that prayer has played a big role. She certainly has many people praying for her: Catholic, Christian, New Age, Jewish, Agnostic, Mormon, and even Atheists. (Probably more than that even). Her prognosis is mixed, Stage IV is plenty serious.

I’m really glad Leah and I decided to stay here in Roanoke for a while. It’s been a great chance for me and leah to get to know my folks better. It seems for about 15 years I have only seen them maybe 4 or 5 days a year.

I don’t have an ending for this post, that’s the update. Despite the title being “Stupid Relentless Cancer” — I don’t think cancer is an irresistible force. And if it is, I think my Mom might be an immovable object. So the outcome is not predetermined.

Jesse Schell: Beyond Facebook

Making the rounds today is a talk by Jesse Schell, of Schell Games who is an instructor at the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University. He also has a blog called Things I Finished.

His talk is full of insights that are very vivid. Here is the video of his talk from DICE, and the slide deck.

Beyond Facebook from Jesse Schell

Lyrics of the Day; Dialogue of the Day

Don’t Forget Your Old Shipmates:

Safe and sound at home again, let the waters roar, Jack.
Safe and sound at home again, let the waters roar, Jack.
Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmates, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!
We have worked the self-same gun, quarterdeck division.
Sponger I and loader you, through the whole commission.
Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmates, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

via Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World

Quote of the Day:

Capt. Jack Aubrey: Do you want to see a guillotine in Piccadilly?
Crew: No!
Capt. Jack Aubrey: Want to call that raggedy-ass Napoleon your king?
Crew: No!
Capt. Jack Aubrey: You want your children to sing the “La Marseillaise?”
Crew: NO!

A Movie About Chatroulette

I have not used it. This movie encapsulates why Chatroulette is cool, and also why I probably won’t ever use it. Waxy pointed to this video first, I think. Danah Boyd writes about what is extraordinary about the Chatroulette. There are a few curse words in the video.

Paul M Bowers

In this post from 8 years ago, I mention Paul M Bowers, a photographer that was around the corner from us at AVENCOM in San Diego. He took many of our photos.

I thought I’d check out his site,, and see how it had changed. I’m actually sort of delighted that it is the same as it was. It’s a pretty good looking site, and works pretty well. The design of this site was mostly mine. I think he came to us with a static image of the top part of the site (the 4 top images) and I was tasked with making it “active” using “DHTML” — which is a fancy way of saying I added JavaScript and animated GIFs. screenshot

The JavaScript, while being 8 years old, is actually not all that bad. I think, no, I’m pretty much sure, I could write it in about a quarter of the amount of code.

function WM_preloadImages() {

// WM_preloadImages()
// Usage: WM_preloadImages('image 1 URL', 'image 2 URL', 'image 3 URL', ...);

  if (document.images) {
    if (typeof(document.WM) == 'undefined'){
      document.WM = new Object();
    document.WM.loadedImages = new Array();
    var argLength = WM_preloadImages.arguments.length;
    for(arg=0;arg array_control-1)
    {w=0} else {w=w+1};
if ((x+1) > array_control-1)
    {x=0} else {x=x+1};
if ((y+1) > control_array-1)
    {y=0} else {y=y+1};
if ((z+1) > control_array-1)
    {z=0} else {z=z+1};

// then we do it again, because
// we want to change two at a time
if ((w+1) > array_control-1)
    {w=0} else {w=w+1};
if ((x+1) > array_control-1)
    {x=0} else {x=x+1};
if ((y+1) > control_array-1)
    {y=0} else {y=y+1};
if ((z+1) > control_array-1)
    {z=0} else {z=z+1};

    // now, we do the four rollovers!




    // time to change the four links!




function initiateLinks() {




I am very pleased that it all seems to work correctly, still, in Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.

I’m further very proud of the “See Me” and “Touch Me” icons I made using Illustrator and PhotoShop.

His photos are great too, though I bet he has newer ones now. 🙂

TPM Barnett on social networking technology

It’s about the people and relationships first, technology second:

I think one of the reasons why such connecting technologies get underappreciated or underused is that we manage to cast the whole process as some revolutionary new mode of behavior, when it’s not. The same interpersonal skills apply, it’s merely the scope and speed that changes.

I learned that on the blog: you don’t adapt yourself to the medium, you adapt the medium to yourself, because nothing else really works and the creation of false fronts loses out over the long term to authenticity in all its glorious forms.

From If the Internet doesn’t change the way our minds think, then why do we assume social networks change the way we communicate?, responding to A world of connections: Online social networks are changing the way people communicate, work and play, and mostly for the better, says Martin Giles, in The Economist.

Measuring weight loss with a belt

I don’t have a scale handy that is capable of giving my weight, but I’m skeptical about whether that number is meaningful anyway.

What is meaningful is the amount of belt I could be using. It looks like about 6 inches (a little more than 15 cm) of loss on my waist in the past year or so.

Belt positions, Feb 27, 2010

MAS, has a post about his skepticism of Body Mass Index. Hugh Jackman and Mike Tyson at his peak would measure as “Obese” according to the BMI, basically. In that post he cites The Frankie Method for measuring leanness. Frankie was a trainer at a former gym of MAS, and his measure was: “Can you see your abs? If no, then you are too fat.” My answer to that is still no, but I can see the outlines of where they will be.

I made a diagram:

The Frankie Method for measuring leanness

The Sky Above The Port

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

(image via suddenly and crossposted to Nueva Ciudad)

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