The Blob

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Finally. RSS works!

Attention ubergeeks. This one's for you. I've been playing around to get RSS to work, so that you can read my blogs with a newsreader application instead of a Web browser. It involved getting the XML settings correct. (If you want to get a basic understanding of what I mean by RSS, look here). It finally works, so you can read my stuff along with your daily news digest. Score one for technology!

I'm miserable.

It's allergy season again. And it hit me today with a vengeance. I've got all the classic symptoms: plugged dnose (that's how it sounds), runny dnose, nonstop sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, and that stupid, slightly dizzy feeling from all of the above. Basically, I'm useless. Okay Claratin, do your stuff. Please.

On this, a cool, moist day, I'm wondering if it's pollen (which usually manifests itself on warmer, drier days) or grass mold. No matter. It's hammered me. And the irony is, today is the first day of a week's vacation. That would just figure.

But I'll get through this little speed bump in my life. It's amazing though, how something so small as a grain of pollen or a mold spore can bring me to a screeching halt. It does make me appreciate the genius that is Kleenex.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

The best sound of the day

I get up in the morning before my wife. And always there to greet me is our kitty. It never fails that she is happy to see me, something that sets my mood for the day. Her enthusiasm is completely contagious.

The first thing I do is pick her up and hold her in my arms for a few minutes. If I'm feeling sleepy, it doesn't matter. That's because I hear the most remarkable of sounds: the happy, content purring of Java, our cat. To experience it is to know happiness.

Highly Recommended: Bullfighter

I've ranted in the past about blathering corporate-speak. You know, that politically correct garbage that MBAs use to impress themselves. They spew out words like "synergy", "implement" and my personal favorite, "paradigm."

Finally, somebody is doing something to stop this. The folks at Deloitte Touche have just release a free product for Windows 2000 and XP called Bullfighter. If you're running Windows 2000 or XP, download it. Bullfighter is a plug-in for Word and PowerPoint that you can use like a spell checker to test your writing for readability. But it's not a mere grammar checker. Instead, it looks for empty jargon and lets you know it in no uncertain terms.

It's funny. It's got 'tude. And it's really important to have tools like Bullfighter as our sword and shield. Otherwise, we'll soon be using words like "repurposeable, leading-edge thoughtware that allow you to implement new paradigms." You get the idea.

Check it out!

The Ice Man Cometh

Oh, to be tanned. But unfortunately, I'm hopelessly Irish complexion-wise. I'm pretty sure that the horrible truth is that I was never my father's son, but instead, the progeny of a torrid affair my mother had with an albino malignant. In my teenage years, I'd get laughed at when I'd go to the beach, so white were my legs. "Push him back - he's dying!" were the cries I'd hear when I went to the beach.

Oh, sure, I've tried. Tanning booths. Every sun lotion and screen known to man. And all things in between. The result: if I stayed out too long, I'd usually look like I'd been in a severe nuclear accident.

Sadly, solar exposure adds up, especially for the fair skinned dorks like myself. Last year, I went under the knife to have a pre-cancerous growth excised from my arm. (I suspect that it was actually an oak tree growing, but they didn't have the guts to tell me.) And this year, I'm getting to know liquid nitrogen up close and personal. My doctor has been freezing pre-cancerous spots on my face before I get even uglier.

Today, I look great. I have these red and black spots on my face from where I was frozen. I look like a poster child for a social disease. Maybe that's why my cow-workers won't have lunch with me. But then, they never do.

It's funny that I never had this problem when I lived in Minnesota. But then, the winters were so cold, that it was even colder than the liquid nitrogen applied to my face. Maybe that's why Minnesotans have good complexion. Nothing can live in that climate. Except mosquitoes, perhaps. Somebody please explain that to me.

No matter. My doctor (oops, I forgot; I must now refer to him as my "healthcare provider" or "caregiver" - please excuse me for being politically incorrect and too clear with my description) assures me that the spots will go away in a week or two. And I believe him. After all, I pay him a lot of money to take everything he says at face value.

Out of the Blue

I've often wondered who reads my blogs. In my most optimistic moments, I've hoped that my writing entertains and enlightens, instead of being yet another empty rant. And if I stop procrastinating, I'll add the code for a visitor counter someday soon. Likely, I'll be mildly disappointed. But maybe quantity means nothing. Something memorable does.

Like a few days ago, to be exact. Once or twice a week, I go through a ritual with my Hotmail e-mail, clearing out the spam. At least I've got enough sense to set Hotmail to only let e-mail from people I know into my in-box; the rest is considered suspect. And for good reason. Most of it is the usual get-rich-quick or get-laid-quick schemes and other various and sundry drivel. I was doing a scan through the muck in my spam folder when I saw something that stunned me: an e-mail from a long lost friend.

He found me here. A Google search led him to my blogs, and thus, to me. For once, my big mouth actually got me somewhere.

Less than a day later, we were on the phone, catching up with each other. It's strange how good friends can fall out of touch. You move. You get married. And before you know it, you've lost the address, the phone number or e-mail address, and thus, an essential link to your past. That was the way it was with my friend.

He's a remarkable individual. Smart. Athletic. Good looking. Funny. Basically, a lot of things I'd like to be. Catching up with him, his life has had more than its share of highs and lows. But one thing held strong: we're still friends. That's all that matters. I'm the better for it, and all the more thankful for it.

This strange and wonderful world of electronic ether has been good to me. I met my wife chatting on AOL one night some years ago. And now, I've reunited with a dear old friend. Chalk another one up for the 'net.