A Few Thank Yous

I’ve been participating in various Relay for Life events for about ten years now. My Jaycees Chapter has been fielding a team since before I joined and about six weeks ago I signed up for this year’s team.
One of the things about cancer is that pretty much everybody knows someone who’s had cancer. In my case a number of friends and family members have been diagnosed over the years, and several of them have passed away. That makes this particular cause a bit more personal and makes it easier for me to get up the courage to do some fundraising. (The fact that so many people know cancer patients doubtless makes it easier for people to donate as well.)
About three weeks ago my friend AJ was diagnosed with cancer. Because of advances in treatment over the years, brought on by people supporting cancer research, she’s expected to make a full recovery.
So I’d like to publicly thank a few of the people who’ve helped me out this year. In no particular order other than first name alphabetical:

  • Michele McGleish
  • Mom & Dad
  • Sue Petersen
  • Tim & Jen Fuss
  • Matt Fuhrman
  • Tom & Karen Donnelly

I’m right now about 40% of the way to my fundraising goal and would very much like to exceed it. If you’d like to support me in Relay for Life, please visit my donation site at:


Matt's Falcon

Matt and I were among the people who spent some time Saturday helping the Mt. Airy Jaycees with their spring yard sale. This was my first time attending and I soon discovered that the name is somewhat misleading. This “yard sale” takes over the local fairgrounds!
During the course of the morning, Matt told us about some of his and Anna’s pets, including a pair of rats. In the early afternoon, he acquired one more critter. Several carpenter bees had been hovering around the table and after one was knocked out of the air, Matt went over and picked it up on the end of a pen, and then transferred it to his arm. (Carpenter bees supposedly don’t have stingers. I was quite content to let Matt do the verification.)
Matt with the bee - falcon-style!

Matt had always wanted a Peregrine Falcon, this is similar.

Closer view of the bee.
Closer view of the bee.

Honey? Can I keep him?

HOWTO: Wash a Shower Curtain Liner

The great thing about plastic shower curtain liners is that they keep the floor from getting soaked. A few years back I took a shower with just the curtain but no liner and afterward stepped out of the shower and into a quarter-inch of water. Whoops!
The problem with shower curtain liners is that after a while, the soap scum and mildew accumulates and they get pretty disgusting. They don’t generally get any other sort of damage, but I’ve never figured out a way to clean them, so my habit has been that I replace them every few years.
Two or three years ago Mom suggested that I should put it in the washing machine. Apparently the way you do this is to put the liner in the washing machine along with a couple big towels. Evidently the towels are supposed to supply some protection so the liner won’t get torn as well as some scrubbing action that removes all the grime.
My reaction was that towels or no towels, the liner would surely get torn to pieces, but at a cost of $5-10, they’re relatively inexpensive. So I decided to give it a shot. Just to be safe though, I did my laundry on a Friday night. That way, if the liner did get shredded, I could run out and get a new one right away rather than go to work without a shower.
Much to my surprise, the experiment was a success! The grime was gone and the liner was intact! I hung it back on the shower rod and the next morning took my shower as usual.
That was a couple years ago. After a while, the soap scum and mildew accumulated and the liner was once again disgusting. Having learned from that previous conversation that Mom was right about putting the liner in the washing machine, I decided to do it again around 10:00 this past Sunday evening.
Once again I put the liner in the washing machine with two towels. Afterwards, the grime was gone, I hung the liner back on the shower rod, and Monday morning I took a shower before going to work.
Of course, before I could take my shower, I first had to spend 20 minutes duct taping all the pieces back together so the floor would stay dry.

What is this thing?

Filling out an online form this evening, I was asked to describe this portion of the site. Calling it a b*** is just too trendy and I’m too far past 20 for anyone that age to think of it as cool. (You and I know it’s cool, but they don’t. Damn kids. Stay out of my yard!)
After giving it some thought, here’s what I came up with:

An assortment of articles looking at the world from a somewhat odd perspective. Contains humor, rants, reviews and almost no mentions of naked women. CAUTION: This site may contain products made from peanuts.

So, there you have it. There are no naked women on this site. That being said, I’m still a guy, so I did add some eye candy a few months back.

Come On Baby Light My Fire

Johnny Cash passed away in late 2003 and less than six months later there was a story buzzing around the Internet about a marketing company that wanted to use his song “Ring of Fire” in a commercial for Preparation H. The Cash estate declined.

In the meantime, 180,000 high-tech bidets built by the Japanese toilet manufacturer Toto between May of 1996 and December of 2001 have developed problems with their electrical circuits. I can’t imagine combining water and electricity in the first place, much less in the bathroom, but in the past year 26 toilets have sent up smoke and three have actually caught on fire.

If the Cash Estate still isn’t interested in licensing “Ring of Fire”, perhaps the toilet company can persuade the remaining members of The Doors to let them use “Light My Fire.”

Video on Demand

Browsing through Netflix last night, I noticed a new tab in the list of sections available for viewing. The “Watch Now” tab turns out to be a collection of videos you can watch online. No more selecting a movie, waiting for it to percolate to the top of your queue and then waiting for it to arrive in the mail, this is pretty much instant gratification.
Apparently this is something they’re rolling out to a few customers at a time. I didn’t notice anything on the site mentioning what the criteria are for them choosing to make it available; but the way this kind of thing usually works is that by the time a service becomes available to me, everyone else has had it for months or years.
For now at least this is just a free extra included in every Netflix subscription, but the fine print includes a notice that they reserve the right to charge for it eventually. It’s also not an “all-you-can-eat” arrangement, you get one hour of viewing time for every dollar in the cost of your Netflix subscription. So for example, on a plan that costs $18/month, you can watch 18 hours worth of online movies, in addition to your regular rentals.
From a technical perspective, it’s relatively painless. I don’t know the full list of supported platforms, but on Windows it requires Internet Explorer 6.0 (or later) and the Windows Media Player. When you sign up to watch your first movie, the “Netflix Movie Player” (presumably a wrapper around the Windows player) is downloaded and installed. I had to reboot to get the video to display, but my computer had already been in an “odd” state beforehand. And that’s all it took.
The video streams from Netflix’s servers, so the image quality is going to be subject to the limitations of your network connection. I have a 6MBs cable connection and the lights on my network connection flashed non-stop throughout Bill Engvall’s 72-minute performance. This probably won’t work at all for someone on a dial-up connection, but the full-screen image on my laptop was just as sharp as if I was watching a DVD.
I don’t see this replacing my Netflix DVDs any time soon (after all, my TV doesn’t have the ability to connect to the Internet). But this could be a nice addition for times when I don’t want to wait for a movie to arrive, or if I’m travelling and don’t want to haul a bunch of DVDs (or pay for a hotel’s in-room movie package).
All in all, it’s very cool.

News from Camp

The latest from “Camp Barkalot” is that the kids are getting along splendidly. Aside from the expected snitching from each other’s food bowls there don’t seem to be any major dominance games going on. So far, neither of them has got his head wet again, but that’s not for a lack of trying. They’re both learning to keep an eye on what the other one’s about to do and jumping away if need be. (Wylie seems the more likely to jump away, Riley hasn’t quite caught on that he doesn’t want to be in the middle of that.)
Of course, the true ruler of the roost is neither Wiley nor Rylie, but Terry. Wylie learned to respect The Beak a few years ago, but Riley is a fast learner. He tried to get a close up look at Terry on Monday while she was in her cage. I don’t think he actually got up to the bars, but she lunged anyhow. Riley then decided to take another look, this time standing several feet away with several large objects between him and the bird cage…
Despite having fun at camp, Riley definitely misses his humans. He just can’t get enough attention and wants to be in the middle of everything. As a result, Wylie is just that much more eager for attention too. This gets to be “interesting” when I take them for walks. When he goes for a walk, Wylie wears a harness which goes over his head and then his forelegs go through a pair of loops. Normally, it takes about 30 seconds to put this on. But like I said, Riley wants to be involved with everything. When I tried to put Wylie’s harness on him on Tuesday night, I first had to extricate Riley who’d somehow managed to get his head through one of the leg loops.
Heading out the door with a dog has always been an adventure. Wylie’s a bundle of energy waiting for the door to open so he can get out. Riley’s the same way and they’re both straining to be the first out. (I’ve learned to push the door open while standing behind them. That way I’m somewhat less likely to get trampled.)
This morning the two of them went flying out the door and on the way off the stoop Riley demonstrated a new trick. At first I thought he’d pulled so hard that the collar had either come undone or else the ring had pulled loose. No, instead he’d somehow managed to slip out of it altogether. I briefly envisioned myself spending the morning chasing Riley all over Germantown but fortunately he lived up to what his humans had told me and came bounding back as soon as he was called. Of course at that point Wylie managed to pull his leash out of my hands and I now found myself worried about spending the morning chasing two dogs all over Germantown. Happily, neither of them was willing to abandon his new friend that easily and I got them back on the leashes and under way with a minimum of fuss.
And that’s the latest installment of the News from Camp. Probably Thursday they’ll be working on their Arts and Crafts projects, making either beaded lanyards or possibly duct-tape-and-dog-hair wallets.

A Few Cards Short

I’m watching my friends’ dog Riley for a few days. The introduction between Riley and Wylie went fairly well, though I have to admit I’m getting a little tounge-tangled over their names. On the plus side, if I give either of them a command, they both pay attention.
Last night I took “the kids” out for their evening walk together and after bumping into each other a few times they finally got the hang of the two leashes. They were walking along, sniffing everything they came to. About a quarter mile into the walk, Wylie came up from behind Riley, sniffing away and quite oblivious to the fact that Riley had a leg in the air.
Yes, what you’re thinking happened is exactly what happened.
About a half mile later, Wylie had his leg in the air and Riley tried to do the same thing.
At this point I don’t think either one of them is playing with a full deck.

Fifteen Seconds of Comic-Strip Fame

I’ve been convinced for some time that a high percentage of the stuff you find online is pretty much junk. Sure, there’s some great stuff out there: Reference materials, product reviews, and more. The web is a real Wonderland.

On the other hand, consider the number of sites with pages that are never updated. Here’s one particularly egregious offender. And then you get into that whole thing with projects that never go anywhere and an unending array of blogs where the authors ramble without any sort of focus and so on.

When I started Dividing by Zero, I commented upon what I called “Blair’s corollary to Sturgeon’s Law,” claiming that most of what’s on the web is crud and wondering which side of the equation I was on.

I’ve been following the UserFriendly web-comic for most of the past seven years. It takes some good jabs at the geek world in a way that we generally can’t help but laugh at. Last weekend User Friendly ran a strip making the same claim I did about the value of online content. The strip even made the same reference to Sturgeon’s Law. Do you suppose this means Illiad (the author) has found my site?

Then again, he also pokes fun at himself from time to time…