Saturday, February 26, 2005

El Presidente and CMU

I saw Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon, last night at airport when I was picking my mom up. He was nice enough to stop and talk to me for a few minutes. I must admit that I did a double take, since he was sporting jeans and a few chin hairs, but the jet lag from LA didn't stop him from being his usual diplomatic self. Here's the bad news at Carnegie Mellon. Unfortunately, the whole student activity engine from the Dean down to the Senate decided they'd let a terrible nightstick-toting Jew-hater come to campus and slap a star of David on the Jews so people would know who they were when he went into his anti-semitoric.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Online ads

If companies want to sell online ads, they should at least have a little basic information to provide about their website. Better yet, you'd think that information would be available on said websites. Nothing fancy, but it stands to reason that a company should make the following readily available:

1. Ad types
2. Ad rates
3. Site traffic data

It would be even better if these sites had some sort of standards to make the business of buying ads less of a safari. Standard ad types for comparison and maybe even an independent audit would do a lot for the industry.


Do you find yourself cheering for Bush nowadays? He's getting a lot of positive press coverage. Where once he grimaced in mainstream left-leaning newspapers, now he smiles. "Secret" tapes have "confirmed" he's no more or less than he says. And the media is heralding him as the prophet of democracy.


My mommy is visiting today from Houston. First time ever! What to eat?

Did you know that in the 60s Vienna had about a million and a half people, and over 300 coffee shops? And that Gustav Klimt worked for two years on a fresco, only to call it Schweinsdreck? I think you can figure out what swine’s dreck means if you don’t know any German. I’ll leave the other of John Irving’s anecdotes to the Hotel New Hampshire…


Site to avoid: Pro-abortion indeed, hmpf. Email and tell them to get rid of this propaganda from

Thursday, February 24, 2005

She's Leaving Home

Celanie got into Scripps with a full scholarship and a stipend. Now she just needs to here from her other schools so she can tell the Ohioans to stick it in their ear. On a completely unrelated note, this is a pretty cool search amalgamation.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Pizza and Hunter

I knew that I was in for a treat today at lunch when the old guy at La Gondola in Market square put some raw meat on the grill with his bare hands, then stacked vegetables on someone's sandwich, then wrapped my hoagie up.

Besides the army of bacteria that is no doubt staging in my body, the sandwich was crummy and overpriced. Their eggplant is soggy, and their sauce has way too much oregano.

Never go here:

La Gondola
Station Square
Downtown Pittsburgh, PA

Here are two links on Hunter that are good. I've read maybe 15. I was surprised by how articulate Kurt Loder is.

In the land of clickety click...

the rovot is king. Here is the script I wrote to collect and parse data from I have to make a few more, and this one isn't fully functional, but it works. Now I just have to mess with authenticating my bot to the businessweek server so I can parse the list of URLs the bot finds. Much gratitude thus far to Ethan Zuckerman, who sent me some code to look at from his GAP project. And many, many thanks to Henry Wasserman who helped me with my Perl syntax and how to interface with the WWW. Yippee, my Perl books should be here soon.

My code is very ghetto, mostly because I don't understand some of the better HTML parsing modules. But this is the best I could do. Nerds, please tell me what you would change. If this code is useful to you, steal away. OpenSource4L. However, I replaced the HTML tage in the code with caps. Put in whichever keywords you wish:

use LWP::Simple;
use HTML::SimpleParse;
use Win32API::File 0.08 qw( :ALL );
$| = 1;

my @words = ('FOO','BAR','BLAH',);
my $ref = -1;

foreach (@words){
("[$ref]& skin=BusinessWeek&x=9&y=5");
$p = new HTML::SimpleParse( $index[$ref] );
open(OUTFILE, ">output[$ref].txt") or die "Can't open output.txt: $!";

$flag = 0;

foreach ($p->tree) {
if ($p->execute($_) =~ /Results /)
if ($flag==1)

print OUTFILE $p->execute($_);
if ($p->execute($_) =~ /Result page/)
$flag = 0;}

print "There were $test lines saved for parsing for @words[$ref] \n";
close OUTFILE;
open(INFILE, "output[$ref].txt") or die "Can't open output.txt: $!";
open(OUTFILE, ">goodies[$ref].txt") or die "Can't open goodies.txt: $!";

while ()
if ($_ =~ /BRACKET THEN A HREF/ )
($url,$BetweenTheBold) = $_ =~ /.*'(.*)'.*BOLD TAG(.*)CLOSE BOLD TAG AND ESCAPE/ ;
print OUTFILE "$url\n";
print OUTFILE "$BetweenTheBold\n";
elsif ($_ =~ /\d{2}/ )
{($date) = $_ =~ /-.*((January|February|September|November|December|March|April|May|June|July|August|October).{2}.*\d{4}).*/ ;
print OUTFILE "$date\n\n";
close INFILE;
close OUTFILE;

my $var=-1;
open(OUTFILE, ">total.txt") or die "Can't open total.txt: $!";
while ($var < $ref)

{ $var++;
open(INFILE, "goodies[$var].txt") or die "Can't open goodies.txt: $!";
while ()
{if ($_ =~ /\w/)
{print OUTFILE $_;}
close INFILE;
DeleteFile ("goodies[$var].txt");
DeleteFile ("output[$var].txt");
close OUTFILE;

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson is dead

Hunter S. Thompson killed himself
Hunter S. Thompson did too many drugs
Hunter S. Thompson wrote a few good books
Hunter S. THomspon is dead

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Just kidding, and unlike Johnny Cash, I did not "put on my cleanest dirty shirt." I am in fairly good condition, after having just a couple of gin and tonics whilst I made 15 quarts of sauce last night. This batch, on top of the normal secret ingredients, had tons of spinach, whole mushrooms, and a few banana peppers (yeah,yeah,yeah). In case you missed my last post, I saw 1964: The Tribute, who are very good.

Today, I should practice my rhythm on the guitar and start writing my first program in several years. I was never much of a programmer, but luckily this isn't a very hard script -- thanks to some helpful existing modules -- and no one will be checking if my script runs in N or N^2 time. Here are some insightful and amusing clips from my AIM buddies' profiles (as I traverse my buddy list from top to bottom). Skip past all this crap to see my very short reveal of the fake Beatles.


1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

- O to the R to the Well


rnerjon: [Miller Lite] is my favorite domestic
rnerjon: but that's kind of like saying that getting poked in the eye is my favorite kind of face injury


"Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."


Te precor dulcissime supplex!


I love scotch
Scotchy scotch scotch
Here it goes down
Down into my belly
Mmm mmm mmm


"Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar." - Drew Carey


america in the age of wizardry


"For when two beings who are not friends are near each other there is no meeting, and when friends are far apart there is no separation."
~ Simon Weil, French Philosopher, Mystic

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Faux Beatles

I saw 1964: The Tribute last night at the Benedum. And it would have been well worth the $30 dollar tickets if Celanie hadn't gotten them for free so she could review it for the Daily Snooze. These guys have been doing these shows for 21 years now, and the venue was packed (with old people). But there was also a broad demogaphic represented.

The guys have practiced; the mannerisms and the music are right on target. They played a 2-hour set, but the songs I really enjoyed were And Your Bird Can Sing, This Boy, Day Tripper, She Loves You, In My Life, and Chuck Berry's classic Rock 'n Roll Music. Not to say every song wasn't fun and well-done. They play songs well past 1964, they screamed like The Beatles, and people really got into George's solos.

Combine that with me having my first guitar lesson in months last Thursday, and I am pretty psyched about music for now.

The coolest link I've come across in ages is If you know anything about the unordered networking behind the Internet, you'll really like this site and the Google Set Vistas link towards the bottom. If you don't, you'll still think its cool. My dad showed it to me when I was talking to him about some web cataloguing programming I was thinking about doing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Browser Wars

It's true folks. Microsoft is losing the browsing war, not slowly and surely, but suddenly and utterly. Since June, Microsoft has lost 10% of the browsing market to wunderkind Firefox. Here's an excellent article about that and a nice excerpt which highlights the struggle:

"""Last year, when Microsoft rolled out XP SP2 and declined to offer the security enhancements to Windows 2000 users, analysts grumbled that the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant was using security as a carrot to get businesses to upgrade.

"Will customers be migrating [to XP] because they're trying to get the security benefits? Or are they spending money because Microsoft isn't shoring up Windows 2000 adequately? That's a legitimate question to ask," security analyst Michael Silver said at the time.

Those criticisms are bound to resurface this time around as details of the security goodies in IE 7.0 start to dribble out."""

Microsoft doesn't know what its browser is gonna have this summer, but it knows its coming (from the same article):

""""We're not yet prepared to go into details about what will or won't be included in IE 7.0," Barzdukas said."""

The giant bumbling corporation has to do something. Microsoft already lost 10% of its market share, mostly private people, and is now struggling to maintain its core B2B business. And with Firefox improving daily, Microsoft has to contend with the brains and and billions of dollars of Google connecting with the Firefox crew to maybe put the that Google has already registered to use.

Here's my ad:

(Voice over sounds like one of those political commercial voices, very stern and sincere talking trash on the other candidate) "Did you know that you can have Mozilla's Firefox spawn a set of tabbed web pages when you start your session?"

{And you show someone starting up Firefox) (Pages: email, Google, something, Mozilla) and she tabs through her pages, and of course the last one is the Mozilla page. And maybe you can then have the camera zoom in on the web address, with some kind of effects.
(Political voice over again) "Starting four web pages can take you a minute to do manually.

If you make $24000 per year, then you make about 21 cents a minute. And so Internet Explorer costs you $300 per year.

"What is that? Some kind of Explorer Tax?"

"Get Firefox, at No popups. No viruses. Free money."

And you'd very much like to defray costs by selling the rights to placement on the other pages to somebody, preferably Google, and a well-know email company. It could be very profitable to build an alliance between several different tech companies. And it probably needs a talking dog and a baby.

Monday, February 14, 2005


Here's an interesting tidbit I totally agree with, but never thought of. I hope I'm the boss some day so I can roll out the toys:

The right toys for the right meeting

Certain types of meetings (brainstorming, strategic planning) benefit from props: toys, games or food that subtly let attendees know you want them to relax. Carefully select from a variety of quiet items that keep the fingers active and free the mind: Silly Putty, magnetic marbles, Koosh balls, trail mix or M&Ms. Never implement a strategic meeting without these fun ingredients. By the same token, such creative props should not be used if the gathering's purpose is to deliver bad news. The contrast between the toys and trauma undermines your sincerity. Also avoid allowing the fun to dominate the meeting. Participants should label a meeting "fun" because of their connection to colleagues, not diversion activities.

Did you hear that?

It was the death knell of the Democratic party, the last nail in the coffin, the straw that breaks the camel's back. If you're a registered Democrat, now's a time to start thinking about which party to move on to, and to prepare yourself for a decade or two of powerlessness and belly-aching. The Democrats are looking to the far left to galvanize the party, which can only mean implosion in a centrist-dominated system.

I'd just like to come out and say right here that I think voting is overrated, and that anyone who thinks their vote makes a difference in our fair little capital of capitalism needs to reevaluate. If you want to make any kind of difference in America, you need to AMASS WEALTH.

You need to be deciding who the two candidates are going to be, not which one you like. When it comes right down to it, having two yoyos to choose from is no different from a Communist system with one box to check off at the polls.

And don't let old George fool you with his "mandate from the people" spiel. He got 50% of the vote, and so did John. If it would have been John, Paul, and George running for office with equal monetary mandates, each would have gotten 33% of the vote.

This will continue ad nauseum until we all agree not to participate in the little charade. Next time you think about going to the polls, go to work instead. Work an extra hour or two, and send your check to some politico you like.

Here's some other wastes of time to avoid that could be better spent working for more money to buy influence with:

Civil disobedience

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Tonight I make the sauce

The sauce is good for many things, it is a kitchen catalyst. If you have a bucket of sauce, you can make eggplant parm, pasta, kick a dash into your frittata for taste, or just make a pizza. I am excited to try out the new wooden peal I got from Penn Mac, which will finally allow me to make thin crispy pies on my pizza stone.

I had a really excellent dish at La Strada yesterday which got me in the mood to do some Italian cook. Celanie and I shared an appetizer that consisted of eggplant serving as the shell of a manicotti, which was stuffed with goat cheese and fresh basil and smothered with sauce.

Truly superb. I'm going to make it myself.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Beatles

They were a great band. To this day, the band's music makes $20 million per year. I wonder if John Lennon would have been crucified today like he was years ago when he said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ (Yeah, I know what he said he was trying to say too).

Especially if they compared number of times various entities had been searched for on Overture.

Bill Gates: 52323
Jesus Christ: 57088
Buddha: 65909

Beatles: 442861
Blow job: 655701

Sex: 4169254 (priceless)

Jesus isn't even in the same league... And that seems like a pretty accurate reflection of various things importance to the world.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Some news and thoughts on protocol

In case you were wondering how much all of those yoyos who run the White House get paid, here's the Post's list. This makes me look back at all those West Wing episodes where characters bemoan their salaries and think, What The Hell? I found this little gem in a Post article on Karl Rove. He's no Josh Lyman, but who is? Soon, despite the advice of Celanie, I am going to buy a backpack and a taupe suit so I can be like Josh.

Oh yeah. Sweet Jesus! It makes you wonder right?

And for a thought of my own. Each day, people wander by my office, and I walk by people in the hall. Some I nod at, some I say hello, sometimes I just grimace. What to do, what to do? I don't want to standardize my behavior, but I don't want to rub anyone the wrong way? Life and work are filled with these little conundrums.

I typed this:


That's what happens when you work on too many things at the same time. The mind wanders, and then so do the fingers.

One of the most embarrasing aspects of my life is my typing method, which involves a lot of looking at the keyboard. When my coworkers wander by, I try and look at the screen. I don't know what the hell is wrong with me. I guess it comes from learning typing as a programmer.

Note to self: Learn to type like a human.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Web trends

Sometimes I have to do reports of web traffic on work. Here's one for my dumb blog.

110 visits over 5 days
averaging 2.5 pages views
averaging 4.08 minutes per visit
61% of my users use firefox (smart people)
26% are cmu studemts
70% from eastern america
1% english
2% european
1% canadian
93% use windows
21% referred by

The Hair Game

After reviewing photos of these people I met who live above me, I have decided that Frau Travis should cut his hair like it used to be in the olden days. This is based on careful imaging analysis and a couple meetings with Travis. If you saw him as he is now, you would no doubt agree that he would get carded less if he had a little snip snip done.

And since this post will no doubt get back to my neigbors, it is really just the first in a series of subtle ploys to have my way with the world. Beware!

What in the world are assholes good for if not a nice link in their profile?

Lunch time muse

Did you know that advert is a word?

And Grantz got a job here. He's king web writer. Follow closely to see if he can improve their pages and increase frivolous lawsuits in PA.

I really like the lo mein at the Chinese Express on Liberty because, like me, they use semolina noodles indstead of the standard Chinese egg noodles. I asked the woman who runs the joint and she told me it's because they are less mushy, which is why I use them at home too. Now if just the rest of the Chinese world would embrace the idea of a little Italian fusion.

When I stir-fry, I like to use ginger, soy sauce, black bean paste, salt, pepper, and rice wine vinegar. The vinegar really highlights the taste of the black bean paste while mitigating the spiciness.

The many evils of Pittsburgh busses

I went to the online scheduler today, to triple check my bus's arrival time. Any whadaya know, the bus zoomed past five minutes early, much to my dismay (and to the dismay of the portly fellow cursing his luck into a cell phone). All was not lost as I made it down to a different (equally ill-timed) PATransit line.

If they would just fix the timing on these busses then I would be happy to forgive the idiot driver on my new bus who wished me a "blessed" day. I stay away from churches, blessings, and religion at all costs, since I've seen the damage dogma has done to the world in all centuries, from sex to crusades to terrorism.

Just drive the damn bus already, and leave me alone.

Monday, February 07, 2005

A platform to stand on

The democratic party needs something, a plan, a leader, anything to make their party once again synonymous with progress. Right now, people think democrats are pro-choice, anti-Republican, and that's about it. Bush is gonna go down as a goddamn hero because the dems can't come up with a clear enough dialogue to derail the propaganda machine. And he's even carrying out one of the better ideas that the paramount of the democratic party suggested years ago.

I think they should get behind an initiative to divert tons of war money into huge wireless radio transistors to provide broadband to the nation free of charge. Screw the Hubble telescope, screw the moon, and screw Titan's methane 7 spaceship-years away.

Hazing anyone?

Those crazy soldiers are up to it again, except it's not Iraqi boobies hanging out this time. In the whole abuse scandal earlier this year, I think that the media, the courts, and everyone else missed the real issue. There may not have been a policy of abuse, and the soldeirs certainly did some twisted things. But, the army should specifically train soldiers on procedures for interacting with prisoners, right? They should give them a handout or something. What do they expect to happen when they turn a bunch of bigoted farm boys full of blood lust loose on Arab prisoners? A tea party?

I've heard of worse abuses in the locker rooms of Catholic high schools and in college fraternities. And now a couple of poor saps had their lives ruined because they didn't know any better.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Double speak

Because I couldn't decide what to write, I'm posting another gem I had long forgotten. Very lame, but at least this one won't get me into trouble. But, if you prefer comic double talk to bad poetry, then read what Bloomberg has to say about his homophobia.

And give Dain a visit if you like politics. He, like many other zombies, decided to vote for George after he watched too much television. As for me, each day I thank George for reviving the economy enough to supply me with a good job, on the backs of the world's poor, in the name of freedom.

I walk alone on the sidewalk
That meanders to my home.
The broken snow crunches below
And my breath hangs frozen in the moonlight.

Home beckons from a distance,
and I trudge down the hill.
Around the corner people stir,
And shake the night's reverie.

The gas station's light sheds warmth
And the air blows by cooly
and people mill restlessly
Cigarettes freshly bought.

The glow warms my shoulders,
The conversation blows warmly by my ear.
Icy air whirls deflected
And I shed my coat as the corner approaches.

Wind tingles cooly through my sweater's pores
And I want to feel the cold
Through my shirtsleeves.
It tingles but does not chill.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Just a sea of links

Before I begin, you should make sure you know the difference between premiere and premier.

But seriously guys, I liked this random op ed piece I found in the strangest place. The guy sorta struck a chord in me, just like Sherman McCoy did when he recalled his friend's words "A liberal is just a conservative who's been arrested."

Not so seriously, in my life, I've enjoyed a great bounty, popcorn, cheese, mutton, fish, turkey, sometimes with salt, sometimes over rice, but I hope never from one of these.

Oh yes, I have been through all nine rings of Internet hell, and found mostly lazy lunatics and obsessed crazies. Which has left me just three questions. What does this mean? What's that mesmerizing noise inside my head? And which team am I on?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Do you want to know a secret?

Do you promise not to tell? Whoa oh oh, closer, let me whisper in your ear.

Here it is. To make good eggplant, you should soak it (sliced up) in salt water for at least a couple of hours. I usually soak it over night. My cooking mentor Claudio Masci likes to soak it, coat it with flour, dip it in eggs, and then fry it in vegetable oil. Then he'll smother 3-4 stacked slices in sauce, put some provolone on top, pop it in the oven, and voila!

Soaking eggplant in saltwater makes it more tender and less bitter.

No rhyme or reason

Well, I didn't really surf up any good pages today. But, if you know anything about good poetry, then you will know this is really bad.

She enters like a freighter
Turkish stands lightly, eyes aloft
And fidgets with vigor.
She exits with a sudden bang.

Fleeting image in snowy weather
She wafts around, never still.
Moving abruptly in a gust
But gliding on the way.

Slowly up the stairs. Never warm?
But you can see the ruddy glow,
scarf removed, and cute hat doffed.
A smile? Also fleeting, it should last.

Deep inside, burning through, fiery red
Dream that she might be.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


These guys combine the mystical and mathematical. I wonder how they spent their troubled youth. But nonethless, a lot of good reading material, and some interesting thinking. Techno-hippies?