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Last Visit 2011-01-17 23:04:23 |Start Date 2004-11-03 18:51:40 |Comments 1,935 |Entries 529 |Images 250 |Videos 22 |

05/30/07 01:00 - 75ºF - ID#39454


The new Reagan diary outsold the Goracle's book by a total of 5 copies in its first week! Man, that guy can't win squat, can he? I claim foul play and as a Buffalonian I sympathize with Mr. Gore's inability to win.

Seriously - with an "inconvenient" running start and worldwide popularity, his ideas couldn't outsell 25-year old private diary entries. Spin it however you like, but that is a pitiful state of affairs. Maybe over time Mr. Gore's book will eclipse the Reagan one. When it comes to book sales, I'm always rooting for the guy that is still alive to spend the proceeds.

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05/29/07 03:12 - 75ºF - ID#39441

My new trail mix

The 750 house trail mix, although maybe (e:jason) thought I was stoned and not being serious when I said I wanted to make my own -

unsalted peanuts - 1/2 c
almonds - 1/2 c
yogurt covered raisins (or maybe regular ol' fashioned kind) - 1/2 c
dark chocolate chips - 1/4 c
dried pineapple - 1/4 c
dried cranberry - 1/4 c
yet to be determined (due to availability) 3rd dried fruit - 1/4 c

Any recommendations on the third dried fruit, or maybe a 1/4 c of a different item?
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05/24/07 10:16 - 74ºF - ID#39400

Software Question

I need to manipulate PDF files (merge multiple PDFs into one, sort the pages, etc.) but my boss isn't about to pony up $300 for Acrobat for me. Any ideas on an open source alternative that works in XP? So far, the best candidate I've seen is PDFCreator.
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05/18/07 12:20 - 51ºF - ID#39331

The Spies Are Still Out There

I can't believe it - after listening to my short wave radio (well, ok.. to be more specific, a lot of static, China, Vietnam, Cuban, Russian radio) for the last few days I found my first "numbers station!" I was scanning different bands while waiting for my supplier to arrive when I tuned into 17,450 kHz and found 5-string numbers being repeated in Spanish. After doing some research this is more than likely the station commonly referred to as "Atencion" - Cuban based. It is true, however, that different clandestine agencies around the world broadcast in many languages and don't necessarily rely only on numbers. They use phonetic alphabets, strings of sounds, morse code, data burst transmissions as well as cartoon sounds. Its weird to know that somebody out there doing some highly dangerous and risky stuff on behalf of their government might be listening to this.
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05/17/07 11:30 - 45ºF - ID#39317

Obligatory Anxiety-filled Post

I've been supressing some anxiety because I have deep fears that I'm going to be losing my job soon. The company hasn't been getting much work to do and I'm the one most ready to be either whittled down or cut completely.

Its obvious - when the company isn't bringing in much money changes are going to be made. Nobody has directly stated that my hours are being cut, but my boss' wife alluded to it earlier this week. I haven't heard a definitive "yea or nay" and I hate that crap, so later on I'm going to call my boss and find out the scoop. After all, if he is going to mess with my money then he should have the stones to at least tell me to my face rather than relaying it through his wife.

To be completely honest, this would be a relief for me and would push me to do what I should have done six months ago, which is to go get what I'm worth and parlay my job into something else. What is giving me the anxiety is the thought of change. After all, the thought of change, if I'm being honest with myself, is why I haven't made that step already.

I graduated toward the top of my program, I'm an intelligent and capable guy and my current gig will look interesting and impressive on a resume. I've been trying to convince myself to turn the anxiety into excitement - after all, the only result from me leaving my current job is going to be much more money, benefits and all the good things. If they are going to cut my hours, we're talking about survival and looking out for my own interests first and foremost. I think I would be better equipped to survive if I simply collected unemployment for a little while and concentrated my all towards doing something else. I need to take some time to really think about my next step and the step after that, then execute.

It may not appear to be true sometimes, but I do have aspirations and goals. Ultimately what I want to do is work for a federal agency or a government contractor. The FBI has positions for financial analysts that work on white collar crime and the thought of doing something like that really jazzes me up. I wouldn't mind working for a government contractor because, lets face it, the government will always be buying planes, bombs, satellites, UAVs, missiles, rockets and the like. I wouldn't mind working in the energy industry because there is going to be tons of money to be made with green energy and I'd like to be involved in something like that - our transition is inevitable. I want to be part of something big, and I want to be a meaningful contributor - nothing less.

Circa 2001 I was a greedy, self-centered, extremely driven, competitive to a petty degree human being. Circa May 2007 I am more aware of others thoughts and feelings, I find myself wanting less material stuff, I'm not so driven that I'd be willing to step on others toes to get what I want... but it still drives me crazy to hear someone other than me get praise from my boss. Circa June 2007 and beyond I need to be a hybrid of the two, and I can already feel it coming - when it comes to your own well being as far as I'm concerned greed is good.

Anyway, I needed to vent - internalizing anxiety isn't good and I find that writing, even if nobody reads it, relieves me of the anxious feelings. I don't write many terribly personal things in my journal since its public domain, but at times it has to be done.
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05/16/07 02:44 - 49ºF - ID#39305

A Gift for a Spy

When I went home for Mother's Day with my brother, my uncle gave me a gift - a shortwave radio! I've always wanted one of these things and my uncle has always been an enthusiast of ham radio and all things nerdy and technical.

I remember being a kid and having he and our aunt visit on Christmas - I'd sit with his radio and listen to it all night. I was amazed and it sparked my imagination that I could be listening to stations broadcast from Japan, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Holland, the Middle East - wherever - and it would magically come out of this little boxy machine with a speaker on it. In many ways I'm still to this day intrigued by these kinds of things - the internet has done a far better job of bringing the world together but it will never replace the feeling of turning that little nob and catching a broadcast from the other side of the planet.

If you've ever listened to shortwave radio, you are probably familiar with the sort of programming you can get. The way it works has a lot to do with the ionization of the atmosphere as well, and the time of day. At almost any hour of the day you can get two ears full of bible-thumping apocolyptic Christianity - religion seems to be dominant. On the other hand, you can receive BBC-style updates from countries all over the world, much of it in English. China, in fact, has something called CRI (China Radio International) that repeats a 1-hour show daily along the lines of "Yes, you like us, China is great, we're doing great things, please spend your time and money here!" However, there is something I just learned that has got me wishing I had my radio right now.

Shortwave radio, for years, has been used as a method of communicating with covert (of the most secret and dangerous variety) operatives working for organizations such as MI6. One of the most well-known of these is nicknamed "The Lincolnshire Poacher." This is a mysterious, and frankly creepy, broadcast where they repeat bars of an English folk song, followed by a thoroughly English sounding lady repeating strings of five numbers. Operatives use the broadcast in combination with "one-time pads" to receive the messages. Wiki it up sometime. Amateurs have deciphered that the broadcast comes from the island of Cyprus and even have a broadcast schedule outlined. Besides things like this you can sometimes receive broadcasts from transcontinental flights, military concerns, conspiracy theory networks and all kinds of crazy stuff. Its these "rogue" broadcasts that have got me interested.
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05/09/07 09:35 - 75ºF - ID#39218


Call me a perv, but I enjoy the good weather because of the eye candy on Elmwood. If you had my porch you might feel the same way too! Today I got some blood orange soda from Weg and mixed it with limoncello. I'm not sure if I like that stuff straight or mixed, but I've yet to find a mixer that blends well with the flavor of the limoncello. The search for the Twins Official House Drink Version Two (tm) goes on. At least the set we got came with two nice small flute-shaped glasses - far more elegant than typical stuff you drink out of. Its fantastic - I can sip limoncello out of a flute, smoke one of those little cigars (e:LC) gave me (thanks again!) and fully perpetrate like a bourgeois asshole!

The ubiquitous "they" are saying that the bees are disappearing, and yeah it does seem odd to me, but I just killed one the size of my thumb and I feel zero guilt about it. I have no idea how it got into our apartment, but at the mo' its taking a dirt nap in my not so dirt filled trash can. I sprayed it ever so carefully with Raid, but that stuff isn't exactly designed to be sprayed in the house. No matter how small a quantity you use indoors if you do as (e:josh) does your crib will smell less like patchouli and more like a shop floor.

I think people that travel Elmwood have really taken to our Sabres flag. People honk out "Lets Go Buff-A-Lo" all the time as they pass by. Fantastic! It will come down and be replaced with the American flag on Veteran's Day... or maybe I'll just rig it so both flags are on the pole. If I've ever believed in two things, they are America and the Buffalo Sabres - I love them both like southerners love fried okra, like Californians love plastic surgery, like NYers love to complain for sport, like women love shopping.

Anyway, back to my porch, my limoncello and my cigars.

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05/02/07 03:29 - 61ºF - ID#39129

The Best Convenience Store EVER!

Seriously. For those of us who do not dine out for lunch at sit down spots and feign productivity, convenience stores are sometimes our lifeline on a busy day.

What do you have when you put together Tim Horton's and Charlie the Butcher in a convenience store?

I say - "HEAVEN!!!"

Main and Youngs, by my office. And the gas was 15 cents cheaper per gallon than Forest and Elmwood!
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05/01/07 11:38 - 51ºF - ID#39117

Big Cities

In the United States we have inflated egos as far as the quality and stature of our major metropolitan areas are concerned. Some people actually believe that NYC is the biggest city on earth! While it is generally true that our cities are amazing, they are far from the most densely populated urban centers on earth.

Wikipedia list of cities by population -

Wikipedia list of metropolitan areas by population -

This was one of those things that sprung up in my head after thinking about my friend Janine, who will be travelling to India for her job later in the year, and also thinking about the places that our company does its work. As you might imagine, for garment workers that are legally paid in a month less than you might spend on lunch on occasion, the conditions are substandard (from an American view) and the cities that they live in are hardly any different. The difference in population density is massive, as you'll see.

The two most claustrophobic cities in the United States are New York and San Francisco. How do they stack up in comparison with cities you've never heard of and will never visit?

Cities by population -

1) Mumbai, India - 13,073,926 - 29,042 per sq. km
8) Shanghai, China - 9,838,400 - 6,775 per sq. km (2001 data)
9) Lagos, Nigeria - 9,229,944 - N/A
10) Mexico City, Mexico - 8,658,576 - 5,626 per sq. km
13) NY, NY - 8,143,197 - 10,439 per sq. km
14) Cairo, Egypt - 7,933,236 - 35,420 per sq. km
21) Dhaka, Bangladesh - 6,969,458 - 30,403 per sq. km

SF isn't in the top 50. Shanghai and the distrito federal of Mexico are thought of as two of the most choking urban centers on earth yet they are about half a dense as NYC. Cairo, Mumbai and Dhaka, three cities Americans know virtually nothing about, are 3x more dense than NYC. Can you imagine a New Yorker feeling cramped? Cities comparable in size and density to NYC are Tehran, Moscow, Jakarta and Tokyo.

What about "metropolitan" areas?

Metro area by population -

1) Tokyo, Japan - 31,729,844 - 2,350 per sq. km
2) Seoul, S. Korea - 22,742,000 - 1,939 per sq. km
3) Mexico City, Mexico - 19,411,000 - 2,484 per sq. km
4) NY, NY - 18,818,536 - 1,081 per sq. km
5) Sao Paulo, Brazil - 18,333,000 - 2,277 per sq. km
6) Mumbai, India - 18,196,000 - 4,206 per sq. km
7) Cairo, Egypt - 15,750,000 - 11,053 per sq. km
13) LA, CA - 12,950,129 - 1,031 per sq. km
15) Dhaka, Bangladesh - 12,430,000 - 7,850 per sq. km
22) Lagos, Nigeria - 10,886,000 - 17,398 per sq. km

Again, SF isn't on the list but LA is... and keep in mind that the LA census data doesn't include hundreds of thousands if not millions of "undocumented migrants." NYC by comparison is actually one of the least congested metro areas on earth when you compare it to its peers. Lagos, Nigeria, Cairo, Egypt, most of the metro areas in China and most of the metro areas in India are more than 10x denser in population. Those same cities are 20x more dense than greater Chicago.

Many of us really don't have an idea of what urban congestion really means... even New Yorkers! Take into consideration that many of these places are awash with poverty so extreme that the American mind can't even fathom it, and you have some densely packed areas with characteristics that we are largely unaware of and cannot imagine in our own cities.

The cities that our company visits often are these insanely poor and densely packed areas in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Karachi holds 11,000,000 people and less than 1% of us could even point the country out on a map let alone the city. Most Americans aren't lucky enough to travel abroad for leisure, and even those that do mostly don't have the foggiest clue about parts of the world that aren't in Europe, China and Japan. To think that many Americans might actually be shocked and a little afraid upon landing in a place like Cairo, Egypt makes me suspect that the idea that we could afford to be a little bit more worldly has some validity to it.
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New Site Wide Comments

mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

joe said to grandma
OMG welcome!...

joe said to mike
New years resolution to top (e:strip)?...