Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Phillies made the playoffs for the first time in 14 years!

YES YES YES YES! It took us until the last game of the season to clinch a playoff berth, but we did it!!!!!

Jimmy Rollins was right -- the Phillies are the team to beat in the East!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Wow. I can't believe how SLOW the Meerkat Manor Discussion Forum is tonight. It must be packed to the rafters with people reading and posting.

In other news: recent music downloads include an album by the Buckinghams (well, five songs, anyway -- is that still considered an album if it's half the length of a normal album?) and a freebie from the Zune Marketplace by a group called "The Donnas". It should go without saying that I like the name of the group, lol, but the song sounds pretty good, too. I might have to try and track down some more of their music, just out of curiosity, and see what it sounds like.
The episode of Meerkat Manor that I've been dreading for nearly a month aired last night. I'm surprised I didn't cry outright, but I did well up, as I've done repeatedly since I read the spoiler in early September (and as I'm doing now). Had I not had weeks of advance warning, I'm sure I'd have cried my eyes out the moment the scene came on.

RIP Flower, the most successful dominant female meerkat, and matriarch of one of the few mobs that's thriving even as neighboring groups falter due to drought and sickness. (The TV program hasn't mentioned this, but human TB is decimating the populations of some wild animals in the Kalahari, including meerkats.) She died valiantly, attempting to drive away a cape cobra that had entered the family burrow where her newborn pups were.

The show didn't mention how the cobra finally did get sent packing -- but we do see that at least one pup from that litter did survive, so Flower's defense of her litter was not in vain.

I hope Flower's daughters learned well from her example of how to be a successful matriarch. They'll need every moment of every lesson to keep the meerkat population going, with the serious problems facing the species as a whole.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Note to self: when purchasing albums that contain more than one disc, check the track info prior to syncing the music onto the music player.

Jesus Christ Superstar contains 2 discs, or at least it would if I'd purchased it on CD. When I synced the music, the tracks were all out-of-order. A little research resolved the question: the order they appeared in was "Track 1 from both discs, Track 2 from both discs, etc...". I figured out how to edit the song information so that the tracks from disc 2 would come after all the tracks on disc 1. I numbered them 15-26, and all the song lined themselves up in the correct order. :o)

Delete out-of-sequence album from Zune, re-synchronize device, get correctly-sequenced JCS album on Zune. File it under "Yay". :o)
Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar are in my Amazon MP3 download queue, even as I type. I've had Godspell music on the brain since seeing the movie on TV a couple of months ago, and my only version of the soundtrack was a homemade cassette tape. Meanwhile, I never did get around to obtaining a JCS soundtrack album.

Supporting DRM-free music, and filling in some gaps in my music collection at the same time... I'd call this a good afternoon. :o)
Bwahaha! How come I never encountered a performance like THIS during a commute to or from work?

The Phantoms Mystery Goalie is wandering the city, in advance of Opening Night on October 5, handing out "buy one, get one free" coupons for games in the month of October.

Here he is, in action.

Happy 60th Wedding Anniversary to my in-laws! What an amazing milestone! The fact that they're two of the nicest people ever born makes it all the more wonderful. :o)

Congratulations to them!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I just made my first purchase from the They're the first online mp3 store that offers exactly what I want -- DRM-free music that you can buy PER SONG or PER ALBUM. Unlike other online stores I've visited, you don't have to pay $10 or however much in advance, then gradually deplete your balance by using it to purchase songs. (I don't know if iTunes wants you to pay in advance, as I haven't got an iPod and I've I've never visited their store. I don't even have iTunes loaded on this PC.)

I feel almost compelled to visit Amazon's MP3 store for whatever music I want that they have, just to vote with my wallet for the kind of online music store I want to see thrive. So for good measure, I cast votes by way of Neil Diamond and Handel's Messiah. :o)
Finally, my template updates are complete for the time being. Outdated links are absolutely, positively all gone, and new links to sites I favor have been added.

All's right with the world. :o)

Edit: The world just got even better. Seems that Amazon has launched an MP3 store whose tracks have no DRM (digital rights management) protection -- hence, they can play on any MP3 device or any computer at any time. Unlike the various online-music-download sites that are having format wars, so that their offerings will only play on some devices but not others, THIS music is playable by everyone.

Sign me the heck up. Here's to seeing more of this and less (read: *no*) DRM nonsense as time progresses. I *want* to purchase music legally, but I also want to play MY music that I bought with MY money at any time. Imagine if we had to purchase separate brands of players to listen to our various CDs from different recording labels (or, for those of us who are a few years older, different cassette and record players). Recorded music would never have become the popular commodity that it is if people had to invest in multiple types of the same freaking playback device, and then figure out which device would play which CD/tape/record, every time they wanted to listen to a song that they'd bought legally and with their own money.

Record companies, do us a favor. Charge us a fair price for the digital version of the song, let us play it on any device we own, and let that be that.

I check the stats for my blog on a regular basis. It doesn't tell me specifically WHO accesses it, not down to the level of an individual's name or email address. But it DOES tell me what ISP the people who access the blog are using. (I get a LOT of hits from Verizon users, with the next-most hits coming from comcast subscribers.)

But occasionally, there'll be a surprising visitor.

For example, there's this, from early this morning (or late yesterday evening, if you're coming from the user's timeframe):

Translated into English, someone from Microsoft not only visited my blog, but did so by using my blog's actual URL as the search term. That, of course, made me curious as to how they came upon my blog's address in the first place. I'm thinking that it came about when my Zune-related posts ended up getting my blog listed on a techie site last Friday.

So hey there, up there in Redmond! I have a background of 12 years in IT, plus I like gadgets. If you're interested in, say, having a person in Philly demo-ing Zunes or something, just say the word. I've got free time during the day -- I can traverse Center City Philadelphia and the most-used SEPTA routes, using my Zune to send tunes to other Zunes that I find. Email me. Better yet, hire me.
Due South.

Best. Show. Ever. :o)

I found a particular favorite scene of mine on YouTube, bearing the title, "She shot my hat". Enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Anyone who's known me for more than three seconds can figure out that I'm a geek who's interested in technology, not only for its own sake, but for what it can do to make life easier. (Hence, my interest in assistive technology for disabled people, and how best to provide equipment and training to the people who'd benefit from it.) What people might not realize is that I was also raised to value education, and the opportunity to receive it, highly. This was drummed into my dad's side of the family by my grandfather (who passed away when I was a few months old), because he had to quit school as a boy and go to work during the Great Depression. His regret at being unable to complete school translated into a philosophy, which eventually was handed down to me, that a person should seize the opportunity to pursue an education, if it's at all possible.

Hence, it should surprise no one that I'm highly enthused about the "One Laptop Per Child" program that's on the verge of being implemented for children in developing countries; the premise is that an extremely low-cost laptop computer will be provided to each child, which can then be used in the child's education. Textbooks can be loaded onto the devices at a fraction of the cost of providing physical books to a schoolful of students. The device is meant to be rugged, consume less power than a high-end laptop, and even has a crank to charge its battery manually in the event that the electricity goes out. My first thought, upon reading about this, was "Genius!"

Well, it appears that those of us in the US and Canada will be offered a very interesting way to promote this program. For two weeks in November, we will be able to purchase two such laptops, with one going to a child in a developing country and with the buyer receiving the other one. Half the cost of this purchase is tax deductible.

I think it's a great idea. I hope it gets an overwhelming response, not just because it involves techie things, but because someone decided to think WAY outside the box when trying to resolve the issue of getting kids in developing countries an education. Like I said, "Genius!" :o)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Freakin' mail-to-blogger appears to be out of whack again. I tried sending this twice from my cell phone, and neither post has shown up yet.

Now watch -- I'll post this manually, and then the freakin' posts will come back from the ozone and both get published to the blog. That'd be my luck. If it happens, I'll delete the duplicates once I find them -- but if they show up and you happen to see three of the same post, it's only because I haven't seen the excess posts yet.

OK, now, having said all that, here's the post I tried to email:

Mark and I went to the St. Pio Festival (formerly called the Padre Pio Festival) at Annunciation BVM parish. Next weekend, Epiphany parish is having their Italian Festival, and I believe that in a couple of weeks, St. Nick's parish is will have their festival weekend. South Philly is hopping. :o)
My treasure hunt on YouTube, for videos to convert to MP4s and upload to the Zune, has hit an unexpected snag.

Go to YouTube right now and search for "Manilow". In order to locate actual footage of The Man, The Myth, The Legend, you will have to sift through a truckload of other people's videoke renditions of his songs, multiple parodies ("Bury Manilow" and "Scary Manilow" being two names I can recall), and several zillion photo montages/slideshows created by people who have used a Barry song as the background music. There's even one photo-montage tribute to Barry that was made by a Manilow fan who, for reasons I don't entirely fathom, used a Britney Spears song as the background music. But who am I to judge another person's artistic expression?

I hasten to add that I did pick up a few video gems. The 1975 Midnight Special appearance was one, and a song from the TV movie Copacabana was another. But doggone! I never realized there'd be so many non-Barry Barry videos on YouTube!

I also picked up the two videos on the Phantoms website that do homage to the Phantoms' 2005 Championship run. Now I can watch them anytime I want. Life is goooood. :o)

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm all caught up on Meerkat Manor episodes as of tonight. That's the good news.

The bad news is that I went on Animal Planet's MM discussion forums a few weeks ago, listened to the premonition that I should visit the "spoilers" forum, and found out in advance that I'll be needing to watch next week's episode with a box of tissues on hand. I normally don't want spoilers, nor do I seek them out. But these are real animals, not fictional creations. As I found out a few weeks ago with the sudden death of a longtime "character", I don't handle it especially well when major misfortune strikes them out of the blue. I thought that maybe "forewarned is forearmed" might be the preferable option, visited the spoilers forum, and got a bit more forewarning than I'd bargained for. :o(

So anyway, next week is when the episode I read the spoiler about will air. And I know the info is valid, as it was written by a researcher from the Kalahari Meerkat Project itself. If you want the spoiler, visit the Animal Planet site and go to their Meerkat Manor discussion forums. I assure you that you'll have no difficulty finding what I'm referring to. And if you don't want the spoiler, but you're a softy for little fuzzy critters, pick up extra boxes of tissues some time between now and next Friday.

I think I'll cheer myself up by doting on Captain and Stanley. Maybe we should rename this house "Spoiled Cat Manor". ;o)

Besides offering some pretty neat items for sale at reasonable prices, has a sense of humor.

Today, they're taking a poke at both Microsoft and Apple. They're offering a MS Zune player at $20 less than they sold it for last month (shades of the $200 price cut on the Apple iPhone ten weeks after the device was first released), and in a long-winded "open letter" offering a tongue-in-cheek apology, they're also offering a $10 coupon for a future Woot purchase to anyone who purchased a Zune at the higher price last month (shades of Apple's offer of $100 Apple Store credit to anyone who bought the full-priced iPhone).

So, why am I laughing? Because I get a kick out of anybody tweaking the big companies like that, and because I just received a $10 coupon out of the blue. What can I say in response but "Woot!"
Oh. My. Gosh. I am ready to do handsprings for joy.

I found a free site that converts files to Zune-compatible formats. Specifically, it can convert things like YouTube videos into Zune-Compatible formats, and then email a link to the converted file to me so I can download it. Check out

I just tried this with one file, a Barry Manilow video from the 25th anniversary of Arista Records. It took some minutes, since the Zune software had to work with the file to do I-know-not-what conversion (I'm guessing it was making the image size displayable on the screen). But by heck, IT WORKS. Joy to the world, I'm going to run rampant on YouTube and pick up as many song videos as suits my fancy.

I'm psyched, can you tell?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Round Two of template tweaks is complete. I noticed that a few of my new visitors from last week, who stopped by to see my camera photos of the new Flyers/Phantoms jerseys, were clicking on the link to my former site on the now-defunct Whoops. I guessed it was time to weed that link out of my list on the left-hand side of the page. I'm going to have to do a thorough run-through of ALL the links on that list, to make sure that none of the other ones have gone belly-up since I created the template.

In the meantime, I did a bit of tweaking to the content that appears between the Amber Alert ticker and the first post on the page. I hope that the site's a bit more useful and user-friendly as a result. :o)

I still can't get over the amount of traffic that came through this blog as the result of my posting those pictures. I got about five times more traffic over the weekend than I've had in the entire time since I set up stats counters on the blog last month. Wow -- looks like I know what I have to do in order to drive traffic to the site: break more news stories. Just call me Gabey8, Your Intrepid Reporter. ;o)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Now here's an anniversary we can all smile about! 25 years ago today, the :-) emoticon was created!

From the article :-) turns 25 years old today:

By Mark Raby
Wednesday, September 19, 2007 06:17

Pittsburgh (PA) - Three simple keystrokes gave a college professor his mark in the history books and gave the world a new wave of digital communication.

Multiple sources credit Carnegie Mellon professor Scott E. Fahlman with being the first to put together the colon-hyphen-parenthesis combination to create a "digital smiley face".

In an online message board at 11:44 AM Eastern Time on September 19, 1982, Fahlman wrote, "I propose the following character sequence for joke markers: :-). Read it sideways." In the same post, he also showed what is credited as the first digital frown, :-(

"This convention caught on quickly around Carnegie Mellon, and soon spread to other universities and research labs via the primitive computer networks of the day," said Fahlman.

Since then, digital expressions known as "emoticons" have evolved to the point of almost becoming their own language. Different grammatical markers are now put together to show everything from laughter to disdain.

Carnegie Mellon's computer science department has created a webpage devoted to the 25-year history of the digital smiley face. The department credits Fahlman with its creation.

"It's always possible that someone else had the same idea — it's a simple and obvious idea, after all," said Fahlman in an Associated Press interview. However, "I've never seen any hard evidence that the :-) sequence was in use before my original post, and I've never run into anyone who actually claims to have invented it before I did."

I guess there's only one possible response to this news: :-)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I gave up battling the PC for a while and Mark took over. He finally got it to connect, which is good because he needs to be online at 8 PM tonight for a fantasy hockey draft.

I was so aggravated about the computer by the time I came downstairs, I fouled up the reclosable zip top on the Purdue chicken nuggets. It has this little red plastic thing that slides side to side and zips the top open or closed. I closed the bag a bit too vigorously and the red plastic zip thing came right off. Whoops...

We really do need to have a word with tech support as to why we can't just connect immediately, as we did pre-virus. This is bleeping ridiculous.
Nope. No dice. No amount of resetting the modem is bringing the machine back online.

We're back online with the PC. File it under "duh"... I can't believe that it didn't cross my mind as the FIRST thing to try, when we couldn't connect, was hitting the "reset" button on the modem.

I tried hitting "reset" today, when I realized I hadn't tried that, and what do you know? It worked.

Ooo, I'm aggravated with myself. I used to do freakin' TECH SUPPORT. Granted, that was 18 years ago, but still, one of the basic things to try is still rebooting or resetting the misbehaving piece of equipment; technology has changed a lot over the years, but THAT hasn't changed. See what happens when unexpected error messages appear? Even people who normally know what to do can get flummoxed enough to forget the basics.

And guess what? I get to restart the PC again today... we have a new security update that won't take effect until the machine is restarted. Now at least if the flippin' modem whacks out, I'll know what to do FIRST.

Pass the freakin' TUMS. I'm about to hit Control-Alt-Delete and go through the reset process all over again.
Fanabla, Part 2: once again, the PC isn't connecting when we try to go online. Neither Mark nor I could get it to work last night.

This is the second time it's balked at connecting to the DSL after a restart. Last time, it suddenly succeeded in connecting, for no apparent reason, the morning after the restart. I'm hoping for a repeat of that good fortune today, because Mark needs to be online this evening for a Fantasy Hockey League draft.

Mark will contact tech support today. I asked him to place the call, since the account is in his name. We'll see what advice they have to offer.

This is all the aftermath of that virus. We never had this problem prior to the reformat. Bleeping virus writers, I hope their computers vaporize.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today's training camp was full of adventures. First of all, it was an adventure just getting up at the crack of dawn so Mark and I could get tickets (wristbands, actually, as it turned out) for the taping of the "Meet the Flyers" program that will be airing several times on Comcast Sportsnet. It features interviews with coaches and players, and questions from fans (about which I'll have more to say later). Wristbands were free, but they were being given out on a "first come, first served" basis. We wanted to get an extra wristband for Karla, in the hopes that she would be able to come by later in the afternoon for the actual taping, but they were only giving out one wristband per person. Heck. :o(

At the training camp, the players from the Flyers, Phantoms, and juniors were divided into four separate small teams. These four teams played a "round robin" tournament that began on Friday; each team was slated to play all three of its opponents during this time, and at the end of the tournament the team with the best record would win the "Clarke Cup". This involved having two scrimmages per day, with one pair of teams in the morning and the other pair of teams in the afternoon.

During this morning's scrimmage, Some other members of the Phantoms Phan Club were sitting with Mark and me right at center ice, in the front row of the bleachers. The balcony where the coaches and scouts stand was directly above us, and I discovered the hard way that there are hazards involved with sitting in that location that early in the morning (pre-9:00 AM).

It started when I felt what seemed like a pat on my head. Did someone just tap me on the hat, from behind? I turned around, but no one was sitting or standing behind me. Reflexively, I reached up to touch the top of my hat, and to my surprise, it was wet. In the past, I've witnessed issues where pipes in the ceiling drip water (though fortunately, it hasn't happened that I know of in the past couple of years). I looked up. One of the people from the front office -- I'm not sure who it was, though I did see that he had glasses -- was leaning on the balcony railing in such a way that his hands, and his styrofoam coffee cup, were outside the railing and above the bleachers.

I sniffed the fingers that I'd just touched to my hat. They smelled like coffee. Crud, I thought, someone just dripped coffee on my Phantoms "Calder Cup Champs 1995" hat. I had some napkins in my pocket, so I started blotting the hat dry. Aah, .

Then I thought I'd better double-check whether my jersey had been anointed with java, as well. I always wear at least one shirt under the jersey (and at the Skate Zone, the rinks are so freezing cold that I wear two shirts), so I was able to remove the jersey and examine it. I was appalled to see a few coffee spots on the back of my gameworn Neil Little jersey. More napkins, more blotting, and more utterances of "" ensued.

Whoever the culprit was had realized, by now, that he'd caffienated somebody, because suddenly NO hands and NO coffee cups remained outside the perimeter of the balcony railing. Said culprit is in luck: the jersey material cleans right off, THANK GOD, and is easy to blot dry without leaving a trace of any stain. Therefore, I will NOT have to track the offender down and brain him. (I wish every garment I own was that easy to clean off after a spill -- klutzes like me would never have a problem again).

However, just because I was going to let the culprit live, doesn't mean I wasn't going to make him feel guilty. I got up and gestured to get the attention of the people on the balcony. "Be careful up there," I said, complete with admonishing index finger-wag. "Make sure your Weapons of Mass Destruction are all inside the railing at all times!"

Then I saw Neil Little among the people on the balcony. He was way over to one side ("stage left", as it were) and doesn't wear glasses, so I knew he wasn't the Spill Monster. "Hey, Neil", I called up.

"It wasn't me!", he answered, as he was one of several styrofoam-cup-bearers standing on high.

"I know. But this is YOUR gameworn jersey. I need you to track down whoever it was and holler at them. Stick up for me here.", I said, and winked. (I wasn't about to ask him to rat out the culprit, because I think at least one of the people standing up there with him was the Guy who Signs All the Paychecks... and HE wears glasses.)

The rest of the day was mishap-free, fortunately, and we proceeded through the rest of the events (the second pair of teams' practice and scrimmage) and went into the roller rink where "Meet the Flyers" was going to be taped.

Remember I mentioned that part of this program was going to involve coaches and players answering questions from fans? They picked me to ask a question during a brief break in activity, VERY shortly prior to the cameras coming back on. :o) They didn't even have people raise their hands -- I just happened to be sitting at the end of the row, so I was chosen. I asked our top line (Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, and Mike Knuble) how the new players who have come on board this year are meshing with the ones who were already here.

But let's rewind for a moment and focus on the moments prior to my actually asking the question. Once I got chosen, there was just enough time to get from my seat to the mark where we were supposed to stand. I don't know if I looked like I'd spent the 30 seconds prior to the camera light going on panicking because I had NO idea what to ask. If that's how I looked, well, I came by it honestly. I hope I didn't worry the TV announcer, Steve Coates, too badly when he asked (about ten seconds prior to the camera going on) what my question was going to be and I didn't have one. But then I thought of our mantra for when we were in interpreter training and were faced with an ambiguous phrase that we needed to translate on the fly: "You're the interpreter; take a stand." So I did. I settled on a question to ask, moments before the camera came on, and I did my best to ask it while looking like I had known all along what I wanted to say. I'm not sure how well I carried off the looking like I had the question thought out well in advance, but hey. If being an interpreter and a church musician has taught me anything, it's to keep a straight face when standing in front of a live microphone, regardless of what's happening. ;o) In any case, given the amount of time I actually spent on camera, I figure I've whittled about five seconds off my "15 minutes of fame" allotment.

So I asked my question, I got my answer (everyone is very pleased at how well the team is coming together), and I sat down. Now I need to be SURE and set the VCR for when the program is coming on.

Anyway... I need to get up early again tomorrow (though nowhere near as early as today), so I'm going to TRY and get a normal amount of sleep tonight. (Heh, good luck. That's easier said than done, these days.) Good night!

The set is ready and waiting for the taping to begin in 27 minutes.

Mark and I had orange wristbands. Seating was first-come, first-served, according to wristband color. I think we were behind one other color. We arrived about 10 minutes after the wristbands began to be distributed, so the first color must have run out pretty fast. (Unless it went to VIPs and/or people like Fyers season ticket holders.)

Jersey display at the Skate Zone, prior to the taping of "Meet the Flyers"

Friday, September 14, 2007

New Phantoms jersey, rear view.

New Flyers jersey, rear view.

New Phantoms jersey, front view.

The new jerseys are on display at the Skate Zone.

New Flyers jersey, side view.
Remember a few posts ago, when I mentioned that Captain had lost some enthusiasm for chasing his feather toy on the stairs, after hitting his head on the metal railing?

Well, for whatever reason, last night he had a major case of the Zoomies, barreling all over the house for no discernable reason. (Usually, both cats get the Zoomies simultaneously, and embark on a stampede-fest up and down the stairs, but tonight, Stanley played the role of spectator to his brother's antics.)

When Captain took a sailing leap to the top of the china closet, Just Because He Could, then immediately made yet another excessively dramatic spring OFF the china closet when both Mark and I hollered at him, I figured it was time to try burning of some of that excess energy in a constructive manner. I brought out the feather toy and started trailing it up and down the stairs. In no time flat, I had an orange stripey critter enthusiastically trailing the feather toy, every inch of the way. :o)

See? I knew that Short Attention Span Syndrome would kick in eventually, and he'd forget that he ever conked himself while playing that game. We played "The toy goes UP the stairs and DOWN the stairs" long enough that Captain thoroughly wore himself out. This was good, on multiple levels. He got the Zoomies out of his system, without breaking anything fragile or (worse yet) landing himself in the veterinary ER. The house is still standing, and the cat is sleeping, so all's right with the world. ;o)

Actually, both cats are sleeping, but unlike Captain, Stanley didn't spend any part of last evening bouncing off the walls and ceiling with excess energy.

And sleeping is where *I* need to be. Flyers Training Camp starts on Friday morning, so I'm getting up early if it's the last darn thing I do.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Boy, it sure took 'em long enough to release information about the redesigned Flyers and Phantoms jerseys!

Actually, the official unveiling will be tomorrow, on the first day of Training Camp. However, the NHL '08 game, which features all the new jersey designs for NHL and AHL teams, has "leaked" all its jersey designs already.

Here they are:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ryan Parent on Defense. The Flyers Rookies defeated the Washington Capitals Rookies in an exhibition game, 5-3, at the Flyers practice facility in Voorhees.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The latest chapter of the CD Rediscovery Project: Mario Lanza.


At the risk of making this blog sound like a commercial, Joe picked up a Swiffer Wet Jet after I recommended it, and he loves it. Score one for being able to start mopping at the farthest point from the kitchen (or bathroom, or cellar) doorway, mop until one reaches said doorway, discard the used mop pad, and presto! You're all done. No bucket of scuzzy water to discard, no wringing anything out, no need to re-enter the room before the floor is dry and leave a trail of footprints.

I'd recommend looking into either the Wet Jet, or any products like it, to anyone who hates mopping. Check online and read the product reviews to decide which option suits you best.

In other news, there are lots of reports on CNN regarding the 9/11 anniversary. :o( What a horrid day. But I guess anniversary reports are a good thing, in a way. If it weren't a slow news day, they wouldn't be able to devote this amount of airtime to anniversary coverage.

Once again, I feel compelled to remind the Stripe Committee, "You're lucky to be cats". They'll never need to think about the horror of the news stories that we humans see (and cause... sigh) on a daily basis.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I've been rediscovering a lot of old CDs, now that I've been ripping them to MP3s. Some of the CDs I'm playing are albums that I hadn't gotten around to playing in eons.

Which is why I can cheerfully state that I love me some Rockapella. :o) I'd forgotten how much fun this album is.

Another gem that I'd forgotten I had was the recordings of Keith Chapman playing the famous Wanamaker pipe organ. He was a brilliant musician; unfortunately, he and his wife perished when the plane he was piloting crashed. :o( He used to play daily concerts on the pipe organ in Wanamaker's (now Macy's, grrrrrr) flagship department store. I used to meet Joe M. and Eva F. for dinner after work, in the mid-to-late 80s when we all worked in or near Center City; we'd meet in Wanamaker's Grand Court, at the Eagle, and I caught a bunch of Keith Chapman's performances that way. What a talented musician, and what a loss to us all that we lost him so young. The second I saw that they had a CD of his music available, I bought one.

BTW, Wanamaker's Macy's still has daily organ concerts, but I don't know who's playing there now.

I restarted the PC again this morning, and yet again, tried to log into the DSL.

I did the SAME freakin' things I was trying to do last night, and this time it logged in immediately.

I have no clue why the Gremlins were afoot last night, but not today. But I'm certainly not complaining. Now that the PC is back online, that's one less dose of TUMS I'll have to take.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fanabla. I had to reboot the freaking PC. Now it won't reconnect to the internet. And Mark, who set the DSL up, is asleep.

I'll have to ask him tomorrow what's up with the DSL.
Here we go again with the freakin' MySpace spam "friend" requests.

I have yet another person who's requesting my friendship but has suspicious credentials.

First of all, "Lydia" claims "her" age is 28, but "she" has precisely the same profile verbiage as the so-called would-be friends I heard from a few days ago. For the record, the text in the profile looks like this:

Hey everyone!

I've been hearing all the hype about having a MySpace profile but I never tried it out until now! I'm a college student and who loves listening to music and hanging out with my friends. For the most part, I go to school but I also do online surveys part of the time because with all the classes I'm taking, I don't really have time for a real job. I do surveys part time since I don't have time for a real job and I make enough to pay for all my expenses. I think it's really cool because I can just sit in my apartment and be on the computer during the hours I choose and make enough to pay my bills. I just wanted to share this with you guys since most of you are probably a struggling college student like myself. So, if you wanted to check it out, you can get started making money right now by clicking the banner below!

The sole reason the profile exists is to point people's attention to the "get paid to fill out surveys" banner. There is no 28-year-old "struggling college student" who sits around listening to music, hangs out with friends, and fills out surveys for a living.

And there's certainly no 28-year-old FEMALE student who looks like "Lydia's" profile picture:

For the record, in case MySpace deletes the profile and its accompanying photo soon, that would be a picture of a GUY. Complete with moustache, goatee, and no shirt. Um, got something you'd like to tell us about yourself, "Lydia"? Since you, like, want to be our friend and all?

These spammers don't care about getting their details right to make their fake profiles believable. Once they get people to click on the link to their spam, their "job" is done.

I'll be rejecting this "friend" request, the same way I rejected the previous four requests whose profile contained precisely the same text.

On to other, far more interesting news about ACTUAL friends. The Other Donna came in yesterday to see the Barry Manilow concert. I was surprised when she told me that she hadn't seen him in concert since we were in high school. (In 1978, at the Spectrum. Yikes, it's been a while!) Barry did not disappoint -- he's a brilliant showman and he was outstanding last night. :o) It was WELL worth having shown up at the crack of dawn to be among the first fans in line and get those seats! :o)

The Other Donna also got to meet her Nephmews, finally. Captain and Stanley loved being doted on by yet another cat-loving person. They also loved sniffing the daylights out of Donna's luggage, since it bears the scent of their three kitty cousins. She was quite taken by the Stripe Committee -- nothing's better than pairing up a couple of cats who love attention with a new fan who loves paying attention to cats. :o)

Donna called about an hour and a half ago to say she'd gotten home safely. She also mentioned that one of her cats, Alexi, was sniffing the daylights out of the luggage. Apparently, Captain and Stanley left behind some kitty scent of their own when they checked out the overnight bag. :o)

Anyway, the esteemed Mr. Manilow needs to come visit Philly more often. This was a great weekend. I'll take about 51 more just like it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Captain and Stanley demonstrate that cats are, in fact, solar powered. Here they are, "meatloafing" and recharging in the hallway. :o)
BWAHAHA! I need this shirt!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The latest:

As I said, I called Temp Agency A, the one I submitted my resume to. I wasn't satisfied with their answer ("We're still waiting to hear back from [employer]"), so I called Temp Agency B, the Philly-based office of the agency whose suburban office I've already worked with.

Agency B instructed me regarding whom I should email, explaining who I was and which job I wanted to be considered for, along with my resume. So I did.

Now I'm awaiting a return call from them.

On to other topics: I posted earlier today that we've lost one of the all-time musical greats, Luciano Pavarotti. In tribute, here's a youtube video of him performing Nessun Dorma. Thank GOD for recording technology, so that future generations won't miss out on hearing one of the most brilliant voices in history.

Insomnia is a royal pain in the neck, and I've had it for the past three nights.

However, due to the fact that I'm wide awake at this ridiculous hour, I happened to catch a breaking news story that most people I know will wake up to in a few hours. RIP Luciano Pavarotti, a true musical genius. :o(

In other news, I am crossing my fingers that when I speak to one of the temp agencies I'm registered with later today, good news comes of it. They called me a couple weeks ago about a possible long-term temp job beginning on September 10. It's with another local health insurance company, and they're hiring several temps to handle the influx of registrations that will take place over the next few months. I gave the temp agency permission to send my resume to the company for the position.

To make a long story less long, on Wednesday afternoon, Joe M. mentioned that someone he knows was also trying for the same kind of temp job, but via a different temp agency, and he went for some sort of testing related to the job already.

Ironically, the agency that Joe M's friend is affiliated with is the Philly office of the agency whose suburban agency I worked for when I had the assignment in Fort Washington.

So, here's the deal. I called the agency that sent my resume out already, and informed them of exactly what I knew: that a person who was working with a different temp agency was going through testing for this health-insurance job. They said they'd call the health-insurance company and find out what they could. This chat took place late in the afternoon, so I'm calling them back first thing this morning to find out what's up with this temp position. If I don't get a satisfactory answer, my NEXT call will be to the Philly office of the other agency, the one whose suburban office I've already worked with. I'll tell THEM that I've already worked with their firm, but with their office in [Montgomery County], that I've already worked with a health insurance firm affiliated to the one that's hiring for this long-term position, and that I understand from one of their candidates that they're assisting with bringing temp employees to this assignment. And I'll tell them that I want in. Period.

Then we'll see how it goes. The health insurance company wants all its testing completed by Friday, as their training sessions begin on Monday.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

We're back to Status="Yay" again. A call to Zune tech support resolved the issue. We went through the normal checklist of things to try, most of which I'd already done prior to calling in. (Such as testing multiple headphone sets, checking different audio sources like radio and recorded music, etc.)

But the one thing that I hadn't tried yet, and it's not at all obvious on the device how to do this, was a reset. It involves hitting two buttons simultaneously and holding them for five seconds. THAT worked. So, like I said, we're in "Yay" mode again.

Good. I could use some "Yay" mode.
Freakin' Gremlins. So much for "everything works fine with the Zune". The SOFTWARE setup went without a hitch, as did the file transfer.

Unfortunately, there's a situation with the audio. No matter which set of earphones I use, I only get sound in the left earbud/earphone. The right-ear audio isn't working.

I requested an RMA number from Woot, and we'll just take it from there.

Boy, we really have been dealing with the Revolt of the Inanimate Objects around here for the past few weeks.
Here I sit, syncing the new toy. One of my "visit this daily" sites,, had a white Zune MP3/video player listed at a pretty nice discount a few weeks ago. I already had small MP3 devices that store either 256MB or 1 GB, respectively. But I was tempted by the price on Woot (about 3/5 of the normal cost) and the 30 GB of storage, so I decided to go for it.

As I sit here loading what MP3s I do have onto the device, I realize that I've hardly got ANY CDs ripped, mostly because I had so little storage to put them on. My other MP3 devices have FM radios, so it was easier to just put the radio on when I wanted some variety from my recorded music. But now that I actually have got some storage, I can rip a bunch more CDs and take advantage of it.

It's hardly earth-shattering news (in my head, I'm hearing Joe M.'s line, "I'll alert the media!", ), but it's what's going on as I sit here at the computer.

I'm just glad I'm able to finally USE the device and make sure it's working. Naturally, it was delivered right in the middle of our "the PC is unusable" episode, so it took until now to be able to hook it up and see that it does, in fact, appear to function properly.

The way I see it, we've got to enjoy the things that go right, no matter how minor. Otherwise, there's no way to counterbalance the fact that we get aggravated when things don't go as planned. So even though setting up a music player is hardly going to change the world, it's working out as it should so I'll file it under "Yay". :o)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

How stupid are these spammers? I mean, if they're going to set up multiple fake Myspace profiles and try to entice people to become their friends, shouldn't they send their targets fake friend requests from profiles with DIFFERENT content?

I just got four "friend requests" from complete strangers, all within a few minutes of each other (the first red flag that the sending was automated).

They all claimed to be in their mid-40s, but their profiles all had exactly the same text, beginning with this:

"Hey everyone!
I've been hearing all the hype about having a MySpace profile but I never tried it out until now! I'm a college student and who loves listening to music and hanging out with my friends."

Yeah, gotta love those 45-year-old college students who spend their time listening to music and hanging out with friends. Maybe all four of my spammers attend the same college, so they can hang out together instead of with people less than half their age.

The profiles, again in identical text, all went on to describe how their owners earn "enough money to cover expenses" filling out online surveys, since they spend so much time in classes that they haven't got time to get a real job. Followed by, "Click this link if you want to earn money doing surveys, too".

Yeah, right. I'm still working on reviving our PC from the virus(es) it had -- which came on board after the cats ;o) clicked the wrong thing -- and I'm going to click on some unknown link sent by a total stranger. Maybe right after H*ll freezes over. I returned to my "friend requests" list and clicked "Mark as Spam" for all four of them.

Freaking pains in the rump. Spammers need to fall off the same cliff that the malware writers need to be tossed from.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Epilogue: Remember when I posted earlier that I was surprised to encounter three adults who were all shorter than myself, and opined that it might be a record?

A few minutes later, that record was summarily broken. Shattered, actually. See, ALL the jockeys for the race arrived on the scene simultaneously, and suddenly we had a whole LOT of vertically-challenged adults all gathered in one place.

Boy, now I know what to do if I ever have the urge to feel tall. I'll report to the area where they saddle up the race horses and start people-watching. :o)

Number 4: Timber Reserve!

This was the first-ever million-dollar Pennsylvania Derby.

And the winner is...

I'm pleasantly surprised we got a good vantage point near the Winner's Circle.

Horses are being saddled for the Pennsylvania Derby.

We took a day trip to Philadelphia Park, as it's way too nice to be indoors all day.

In the area where the horses are saddled, I encountered the surprising sight of not one, but *three* grown men who are all shorter than I am. I honestly think that's a first, and chances are it's also a record. Heck, just my being around three adults who I'm taller than is a rarity, never mind whether any of said adults possess a Y chromosome. Given their age, Mark suggested that perhaps they're retired jockeys. Given their stature, I believe it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

We had everyone here for Labor Day this afternoon. Joe M., Bob, John, Karla, and Al came over. I'm sure Joey D would have been here, also, if he hadn't had prior plans to visit the shore. We had rigatoni and ricotta; Joe M.'s mom made the gravy (or if you're a non-South-Philly native and/or not Italian, you might refer to it as "sauce") for the rigatoni. It was out of this freaking world. :o)

It was a nice time, and the cats got to be spoiled by a bunch more people than usual. They even stationed themselves at their "lifeguard post" outside the bathroom when guests went in. :o) I'm used to being greeted by a fuzzface or two upon exiting the necessary, but I got a kick out of the cats watching out for our visitors, too.

Right now, the Stripe Committee is upstairs watching Mark install the DSL software. I googled the error message we were getting last night, and found that the DSL CD itself was looking for Flash in the wrong place. The suggested solution said to rename a copy of the current Flash file to "Flash.ocx". I did that and bingo! End of problem. Mark was able to complete the installation and get online... at which point, he discovered that his fantasy baseball team is likely to miss the playoffs. Phooey. I'm not sure how much difference it would have made to his playoff hopes to have been able to update his team's lineup during non-working hours during the past week and a half, but I'm sure it wouldn't have hurt matters.

Next up: re-installing all the freaking software like the printer and scanner drivers, Word, photo editing software, etc. If tomorrow's weather is as beautiful as it's predicted to be, there's no way I'm spending all day in the computer room. The installation will have to wait until Tuesday. Tomorrow, I have plans involving a beach chair, a book, a radio, and the patio. :o)
I just discovered that there is exactly one (1) situation when it's appropriate to operate a cell phone during a Mass.

Today, one of our parishoners collapsed in the pew partway through the Liturgy. We were into the part known as the Prayers of the Faithful, which happens within a few minutes after the end of the homily (sermon). It's the part where various prayer petitions are recited, followed by the congregation responding in unison (usually, "Lord, hear our prayer") after each one. It's a part of the Mass where everyone is standing, and has been for a while, so it wasn't a case where going from sitting to standing caused an abrupt drop in the parishoner's blood pressure.

The priest, as well as most of the people who were seated nearby, went over to assist. Almost immediately, I heard someone reciting the address of the church, and saw that one of the people who'd gone to help was talking into his cell phone. "Good", I thought, "someone took care of calling 911." If I hadn't seen him on the phone, I was going to get my own phone and dial it myself.

Once it was established that the woman had regained consciousness, knew her name, knew who the priest was, etc, she was convinced by Father and the other congregants to lie still and rest until the paramedics arrived.

Then Father went through a Reader's Digest version of the rest of the Mass. He announced that in order to complete the Liturgy as soon as possible, he was only going to do the absolutely necessary parts of the Mass. It's just as well that we had no musicians today, as I'm sure the hymns would have been dispensed with to save time.

From that point onward, I know we did the Consecration, Lord's Prayer, Doxology, and Lamb of God. (I forget if we did the Holy, Holy or not.) Then we had Communion and the closing prayer. That's pretty much it.

So now I have an idea of what the Evelyn Wood Speed-Praying Mass might look like. ;o)

The paramedics did arrive, shortly before Mass finished. The parishoner didn't look particularly willing to accompany them to the hospital. That's not surprising -- I don't think anyone in their right mind WANTS to go to the emergency room. I do hope they talked her into going, though. People don't suddenly collapse in a faint when there's absolutely nothing amiss. I think she'll be better off having a doctor check into her symptoms, and correct the problem so it doesn't happen again. I hope she's OK,
The good news is, our computer is back.

The bad news is, the DSL software isn't installing properly. Mark's going to look around for the documentation tomorrow. (We keep all the CDs in the desk drawer, but I don't know where he put the docs.)

A pox on the writers of malware. If those vermin had minded their own expletive-deleted business, we wouldn't have had this aggravation for the last 11 days and counting. Fargin' bastages.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I just watched the repeat broadcast of Meerkat Manor. My guess was correct on all counts. Poor little Carlos. :o(

At least he spread his genetic material far and wide while he was still a roving male, before he started leading a group of his own. Chances are there are little meerkats named Carlos Jr. running around, soon to take their sire's place as the next roving Casanova of the desert.

Like I posted yesterday, Mother Nature is one tough customer. It'd be nice if all animals could thrive, but reality doesn't work like that. Healthy species' birth rates are high enough to allow for the normal levels of attrition of disease and predation, and that's as much leeway as nature will allow. Period.