No Fancy Name
Saturday, August 27, 2005
movies are FUN!
Last Wednesday I went to see Nosferatu, and it was so so very cool because the fellow who played the Mighty Wurlitzer throughout the screening [and who does it at the 7:30 intermission during the normal double features at the theatre] is some famous silent-film-accompanist. The place was packed; they show this film for one-night-only every few years and I'll bet there were a good six or seven hundred people there. Mostly elderly folks, but a fair number of people in their 20s and 30s as well. I had the date circled on my calendar for a few weeks, because I was expecting to be through with this project we're doing at work and I figured it would be a nice treat before school starts on Monday. Well, we're not through with the project and school still starts on Monday, but that's another story.

I asked my co-worker (Kate, recently famous for her award-winning Wednesday Whine at Phantom Scribbler's place) to come with, and she had it circled on her calendar too, so we were both pretty stoked. I said of course to bring along her girlfriend, but it was unknown if she would come along because she'd have to miss out on watching So You Think You Can Dance. I think she regrests her decision to come with, because I didn't hear her laugh or participate in the snarky comments during the show, or exclaim "that was SO COOL!" like the rest of us afterwards. Oh well.

I found myself wanting to read the German before looking at the English subtitles...but I don't know German. I know enough to muddle through and say "someone did something to someone else" but I lack the important knowledge of nouns and verbs. I did learn that "spinnen" is the word for "spiders" which I think is very cool. I want to learn German, but unfortunately language classes at my school and all the local community colleges are four or five days per week (not the bad part) and almost always for several hours in the morning (the bad part—some of us have jobs!).

So, two thumbs up for Nosferatu with Dennis James at the helm of the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Friday, August 26, 2005
friday co-dependent cat blogging
This is not an unusual position, Max sitting on my arm, hanging all over me while I'm working. On the plus side, having to type with a 15-lb cat sitting on my left arm has strengthened that arm. On the negative side, there's much mewing and grumpy-cat-ness when I have to get up for something or answer the phone.

I try to convince him each and every day that sitting on the corner of the table is just as good, or wouldn't he like to watch the ducks with Deuce over on the couch? No go. This is the spot he likes, and I'd actually rather have him sit here than directly behind the laptop and its exhaust fan. The compressed-air-in-a-can people make a ton of money off me. I routinely take my laptop apart and clean it. The other day I took all the caps off the keys on my keyboard and pulled out all the trapped hair from underneath. I got enough to make a whole other cat, I'm telling you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
i'm ordering a bunch of the FSM stickers
I am going to order twenty or so Flying Spaghetti Monster stickers.

Leave a comment if you'd like one reserved for you (duh! for free!) and when they arrive I'll email you for your mailing address.

Anonymous bloggers who want one, rest assured I'm a very good keeper of anonymity. I have references.

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i swear, i don't work for Google
This has come up in [virtual] conversation a few times recently, so I figure I'd make this clear: I don't work for Google. I don't work for Technorati, either, or Flickr or the Mozilla Foundation. I have zero vested interest any of those companies. I simply like their products. A lot.

The company I work for has four employees: three owners and me. You've never heard of us, and that suits us just fine—our clients have, and they're happy, and that's all that matters. We don't do sales; our business comes from word-of-mouth/referrals and has since the company was started almost a decade ago. God forbid we have to do sales. I think we'd go insane.

Our business has zippo, zilch, nada to do with blogs, blogging tools, search engines, or anything of that ilk. My interest in such things is purely my own. Although it is true that the only other companies I'd ever consider working for (as if one can actually be picky when one is decidedly not a SuperStar) are Google, Yahoo! and eBay, I'd never make it through HR screening; my experience and skills don't fit any particular job description. But remember, I'm trying to segue out of working in this industry. All I really want to do is teach comp at a community college somewhere [after going to school first, of course]. Go figure. But I digress.

So, you may ask, how do you write a book about Blogger if you don't work for them? Simple. You pitch it. In my case you pitch it, watch the editorial board at your publisher go "we don't think there's a market", whine about it, watch media coverage of blogs explode, pitch it again, have editorial board think it's a lovely idea, sign contract, write book. It's a Blogger-"sanctioned" book in that Biz Stone reviewed the TOC on his own, and is writing a foreword, and (if the book doesn't suck) he'll say something about it on the Blogger site or Blogger Buzz. But, they don't have any say in what I've written (suggestions for improvements in feature coverage not withstanding, which I asked for) and my enthusiasm for and opinions about Blogger/Technorati/Flickr/Mozilla is all my own.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005
from Digital Inspiration: Display relevant Ads in Blogs: Just suggest Google
Amit Agarwal has a good tip regarding section targeting for AdSense. An excerpt from his post:
Your personal profile may say that you are a die-hard soccer fan, user comments might contain spam and links to Viagra stores, the Previous Posts may contain totally unrelated topics like 'US Outsources Teachers' or 'Google releases Dance 2005 pictures'.

Your article on 'Web Hosting' may occupy just 50% of your precious blog Real estate while the rest is grabbed by everything else.

What do you do then. Here comes Google Adsense Section Targeting to your rescue. Just tweak your HTML a bit and force Googlebot to focus only on specific content.
He goes on to provide an example of modifications to one's Blogger template, and specific points to keep in mind. This concept is not specific to Blogger users; if you understand the underlying template code of your blogging platform, you can apply the concept shown in his post to your blog template.

Amit's blog is very informative on all manner of technological things, and he has done a great job with the customization of his blog using the Blogger template language; the placement of ads on his site is fairly inobtrusive and the ads are always content-specific. His blog is an example of how to do a lot with a little. My placement of and technorati links in posts was inspired by his list of links attached to each of his posts.

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Monday, August 22, 2005
school starts on Wednesday...
...but not for me. I only have classes on Mondays (2) and Tuesdays (1) so I don't get to start until next week. The following Monday is a holiday, so in theory I should have plenty of time to read ahead and what not. Ha! Like that worked out this least I read more books (4) than the number of items I crossed off my page-long house-related to-do list (1). What a loser.

I glanced at all the books we're reading this semester, and I asked if we needed to prepare anything for the first classes (we don't), so does that count?

edited to add: when I asked my materials & methods prof, aka my Vict Lit prof, aka my Modern British/Irish fiction prof, what we should bring to class the first day he replied thusly: "Nothing other than a body temp of 98.6 degress F +/- 2." I thought that was really funny.

from academic coach: Badger Fund Update
Academic Coach gives an update on the Badger Fund: "Badger tells me that in just 48 hours, 59 people gave a total of $2,100."

What does this mean to the Badger Family? Hospice.
Thanks to your generous donations, there is now a professional support network in place to help the Badgers through this time. With Hospice involved, Mr. Badger’s pain medication has been much more closely monitored, the dosages increased, and the nurses who come twice a week have reassured him that they will keep him from suffering physically. This has been a huge relief. In addition to helpful medical care, Hospice arranges for volunteers to come by on a regular basis. This makes it possible for Badger to run to the grocery store, see a movie with Badger Boy , or just take a shower, without worrying. The majority of Hospice volunteers have had someone close to them die of cancer – so they have the empathy of someone who has been in the same situation, and can knowledgably answer questions about what to expect. The Badgers’ grief is still immeasurable, but much pain and fear has been allayed.

See my previous post for more info, or Scrivener's, or Academic Coach's original request for donations.

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i would totally put this on my car
Via BoingBoing, for the Pastifarian in all of us.

Don't have the foggiest idea what I'm talking about? Check Wikipedia for Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005
asshat sentenced
"Which one?" you all ask in unison.

You may have seen the story about a 21 year old Tampa man who pummeled his son into unconsciousness and eventual death because he thought the toddler was gay. This was covered on Shakespeare's Sister here and here (and numerous other places, but that's where I read's an outstanding group blog).

He got 30 years.

fun with the Blogger template language
More like "fun things you can do with the permalink and post title template tags," but whatever.

I've added two things to the "post" area of my Blogger template. If you look in the footer of this post (or any other), you'll see three icons. One is the standard Blogger "Email Post" thing. The others are:

- Add to; you can bookmark any post to your account by clicking it's wee link.

- See who's commented on a post by clicking the wee Technorati icon.

I highly doubt anything I write will be something you'll want to bookmark in, and quite frankly it's rare if others link to posts of mine so as to get to Technorati cosmos love, but was fun.

as a prize for finishing my book, I got...
...cramps. I know, I know, too much information.

Scuttled are my dreams of going over the hill to work at the Perg (hey, there's always tomorrow). I briefly thought about going to Orchard Valley to work, but all I really want to do is curl up in a little ball. I hate cramps. Luckily, they only last for a day, and they started yesterday, so sometime this evening they should be over. In the meantime, I'll be popping my remaining ibuprofin and sipping my can't-believe-how-good-it-is organic instant coffee I got from Whole Foods and generally not leaving the house. Much like yesterday, in fact.

If I don't still feel like utter crap tonight, then I'm going to see a double feature of Sunset Boulevard and The Bride of Frankenstein.

Friday, August 19, 2005 » Tag You’re It: Talking to Technorati
What a great post: » Tag You’re It: Talking to Technorati.

I am an unabashed supporter of Techorati, and Molly's closing statement sums up why: "Despite the problems building, improving and scaling a specialty search engine, Technorati is a company built on passion for the Web, for blogs, for individuals and for society at large." It's really that simple. I have faith in what they're doing now, what they are building toward, their understanding of the needs they're trying to address, and quite frankly the people behind the company—not that I know any of them personally.

Technorati certainly has its detractors, and really everyone who dislikes them has very well-reasoned statements as to why they do. Put those statements up against my "I like 'em because I believe in 'em and tags are cool" statements and the detractors sure look far more intelligent. I really just haven't had time for a thought-provoking, compare-and-contrast post as to why I like them and not, for example, Feedster or IceRocket. I don't know when that will happen.

But in the meantime, I'll be using Techorati and tagging posts as appropriate and pinging them and using them as my primary search engine for "live" things. I wish I could do more to bring Technorati to the masses than four pages in my Blogger book.

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fighting splogs and spammers with "Flag?" and Captchas in Blogger Comments
This was a busy week for the fine folks who build/manage/maintain all that is Blogger. In addition to the new Blogger for Word tool, two additional items were released into the wild: Flag? and Captchas in Blogger Comments. These two items are just a drop in the bucket in the fight against splogs and spammers, but it's a really good start.

Oh yeah, splog? Spam + blog = splog. Say you're next-blogging [that is, clicking the "next blog" link in the Blogger NavBar] and you come across a blog like this, where the content consists of nothing more than spam content and/or google juice intended to raise the page rank of the offending site, so it ends up higher in search results, leading users to click on their advertising links, thus leading to money in the sploggers' pockets. Very roughly, that's how it works.


Flag a Blog for Objectionable Content [see figure 1]
When you visit a blog with the Blogger NavBar enabled, and you feel the content of the blog is questionable or objectionable, click the Flag? link to notify Blogger. Examples of questionable or objectionable content include spam blogs and sites engaging in or encouraging illegal activities. For more information on the specifics of this tool and what counts as "objectionable content," visit its Blogger Help page.

When you press the Flag? button, it will change to the Unflag? button, which is good because I've already flagged myself during a misfired attempt to press the Next Blog button.

Some things to note:
- Some people have removed the code from their template that spits out the Blogger NavBar. If a spammer has done this, you won't get a Flag? button. You can still report Terms of Service violations here.

- In order for the Flag? button to appear in the Blogger NavBar, if the NavBar is visible, the blog must have been republished sometime since the evening of August 17th. If a spammer has not added a new post to their splog since then, their Blogger NavBar won't have a Flag? button. You can still report Terms of Service violations here.

Now, on to Captchas in Blogger Comments. If you are using Blogger comments and not a third-party comment system such as Haloscan, then I highly recommend turning on comment captchas. When Flag? was announced, the first thing I thought was "now if they could only do something about the comment spammers." My idea was to add a "report as spam" checkbox to the comment deletion confirmation that a blog owner goes through to delete a comment from Blogger. Yes, users of Haloscan will recognize that such a feature is part of the Haloscan comment management system—something Blogger does not have. My thought was that it would enable Blogger to identify problem user accounts as well as IPs, for those spammers who were forced to use a Blogger login to do their spamming. [side note: if you get spam from someone using a Blogger account, follow the link to their profile and if they have a splog, flag it!]

The next day, we get the ability to enable captchas, which are a type of test used to tell computers and humans apart. In other words, spammers can't use automated spam tools because they must type the characters seen in an image—something a computer cannot read. Thus, the spammer must actually do the spamming manually, going through the captcha process each time. It will take considerably longer for them to do their spamming, and/or force them to hire spammer lackeys, thereby reducing the ROI on their spamming activities. Neener neener!

The flip side? Non-spammer commenters will have to type the captchas. Personally, I don't have a problem with it, but I have no accessibility issues and am speaking for myself. There are accesibility issues with enabling captchas, so each individual blogger using Blogger comments should think about your audience, the number of comments you get on your posts especially from repeat visitors (sometimes commenting can get almost IM-like between people), and the number of spam comments you've had to remove and if that number has increased in recent weeks.

If you decide to turn on captchas for Blogger comments log into Blogger and click on the Change Settings icon in the Blogs section of the Blogger Dashboard. Click the Comments link to access the commenting settings. Again, these instructions assume you are using Blogger comments and not Haloscan comments, and thus the "Show" radio button is checked for the Comments field on your Comments settings page. Further down the page you will see the Show word verification for comments? field. Set the radio button to "Yes" to enable captchas. The default value is "No". When you have finished modifying your settings, press the Save Settings button. From that point forward, captchas will be enabled for your Blogger comments. This figure shows the settings page and points out the items described above.

This figure shows comment captchas in action. The commenting interface is predominantly the same; the captcha is an addition and nothing has been removed. After typing the contents of your post and selecting your user/user type (if applicable), enter the characters displayed in the captcha in the Word Verification field. Press the Login and Publish or the Preview as applicable. If you fail the captcha test, your comment will be saved in the textarea and you will just be given another chance to pass the test, with a different image.

For more information on the new Word Verification in Blogger Comments, visit its help page.

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i need one link to make an even hundred, any suggestions?
My blogroll currently has 99 entries in it. Who should be the hundredth?

That is, who should I be reading every day but I'm not?

Leave suggestions in the comments, please, and feel free to vote for yourself if you're not already there.

[Of course, I fully expect to add many, many more than just one more link to my blogroll!]

friday non-random 24
Despite my participation in the Friday Random 10s, I don't really listen to music in a random fashion. I'm an old fuddy duddy who listens to CDs from track 1 to end, and often I'll listen to a whole series of CDs at once. For instance, I'll listen to all my Everything But the Girl tracks, all my Toad the Wet Sprocket tracks, all my Coldplay tracks, all my Tricky tracks, etc.

Right now I'm listening to all my Girlyman tracks, which number only twenty-four, but they're all pretty damn good. [Links are to MP3s on the Daemon site, I'm not sharing anything I "shouldn't".]

- "On the Air," by Girlyman, from Little Star
- "Superior," by Girlyman, from Little Star
- "Speechless," by Girlyman, from Little Star
- "Young James Dean," by Girlyman, from Little Star
- "Soldiers," by Girlyman, from Little Star
- "I Wonder Where You've Gone," by Girlyman, from Little Star
- "Commander," by Girlyman, from Little Star
- "Bird On the Wire," by Girlyman, from Little Star
- "Genevieve," by Girlyman, from Little Star
- "Kittery Tide," by Girlyman, from Little Star
- "I Know Where You Are," by Girlyman, from Little Star
- "This Is Me," by Girlyman, from Little Star
- "Viola," by Girlyman, from Remember Who I Am
- "Hey Rose," by Girlyman, from Remember Who I Am
- "Say Goodbye," by Girlyman, from Remember Who I Am
- "Fall Stories," by Girlyman, from Remember Who I Am
- "The Shape I Found You In," by Girlyman, from Remember Who I Am
- "Maori," by Girlyman, from Remember Who I Am
- "Montpelier," by Girlyman, from Remember Who I Am
- "Even If," by Girlyman, from Remember Who I Am
- "David," by Girlyman, from Remember Who I Am
- "My Sweet Lord," by Girlyman, from Remember Who I Am
- "Postcards from Mexico," by Girlyman, from Remember Who I Am
- "Amaze Me," by Girlyman, from Remember Who I Am

Girlyman is two girls and a guy. They're very funny (and good) onstage. The boy, he's got this TMBG thing going on; ok, don't know if I'd call it a "thing" but when it's his song to sing I think "hey, he sounds like a John". The girls are great too, and when the sorta-lead girl sings, I think "hey, she sounds like Kelly Hogan" which probably means nothing to most of you, but rest assured Kelly Hogan has some pipes.

I encourage all of you to check out Girlyman, as most of you will like them quite a bit—I am supremely confident of that.

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using Blogger for Word
The following post is a modified version of Topic 48, "Using Blogger for Word," from my forthcoming book on Blogger [see TOC]. The style of this book is the Sams Publishing "In a Snap" series, which "offer[s] a unique 2-color format allowing readers to solve problems by identifying individual tasks quickly." In other words, there are a bunch of numbered tasks with lots of pictures, tips, notes, and step-by-step instructions.

Blogger for Word is an add-in for Microsoft Word that allows you to compose, edit, save as draft, and publish blog posts all within Microsoft Word [requires Windows XP or 2000, and Microsoft Word 2000 or higher]. Personally, I don't compose my blog posts in Word, not even the long ones. Short ones I'm perfectly happy using the Blogger post editor with the Recover Post feature (if necessary), and for long posts I use Notepad or TextPad, whatever text editor is handy. But a great number of people use Word for everything and thus it makes great sense to create the Blogger for Word add-on.

To download Blogger for Word, go to, read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, then press the Agree and Download button. Save the downloaded file to your hard drive, then double-click the file name to install. The installation process is a three-step wizard and requires little intervention on your part. When the application has been installed, launch Microsoft Word. The Blogger for Word add-in will appear as a toolbar near the top of your document window.

STEP 1: Click to Modify Your Blogger Settings [see figure 1]
Before you begin, ensure your Blogger settings are accurate. Press the Blogger Settings button in the Blogger for Word toolbar, which will launch the window shown here. Enter your Blogger username and password, which will be used to validate your account and retrieve your list of blogs and blog posts.

Check the checkboxes next to the features you would like to enable. If you choose not to show the Blogger for Word toolbar on startup, you must manually enable it within Word anytime you want to use it. If you check the option to generate a title for your new posts, your posts will be given a default title equal to the first twenty or so characters from the body of your post. When you have completed your settings, press the OK button.

STEP 2: Click to Edit an Existing Post [see figure 2]
Press the Open Post button in the Blogger for Word toolbar, which will launch the window shown here. This window provides tools for retrieving existing posts for further editing. From the drop-down list of blogs attached to your account, select the blog containing the post you would like to edit. Once a blog has been selected, a list of recent posts will be displayed. Highlight a post to select it, then press the OK button to retrieve the post and edit its contents in Microsoft Word.

STEP 3: Type Your Post [see figure 3]
You may begin typing at any time. Use the basic formatting elements in Microsoft Word, such as bold, italics, underline, and hyperlinks, as part of your post text. You can also type raw HTML code in your document.

STEP 4: Press the Save as Draft Button to Save Your Post Without Publishing [see figure 3]
If you would like to save your work but not publish it quite yet, press the Save as Draft button. Once saved, you can retrieve it via the Open Post tool or through the Blogger post editor itself.

STEP 5: Press the Publish Button to Publish Your Post [see figure 3]
If you are ready to publish your post to your blog, press the Publish button to launch the window shown here.

STEP 6: Title Your Post, Select a Publishing Target, and Press the Send Button [see figure 3]
If you have selected automatic generation of post titles in your Blogger for Word settings, you can leave it or edit the generated title. If you have not selected the automatic generation of post titles, enter one in this text field—titles are required for all posts. Next, select the publishing target for this post. If you have more than one blog, all your blogs will appear in this drop-down list. Press the Send button to send the post along its merry way.

STEP 7: View the Post Published Using Blogger for Word [see figure 4]
After publishing your post using Blogger for Word, visit your blog to review your work. You will notice the post looks like any other blog post created through the Blogger post editor. w00t!

For more information on Blogger for Word, including FAQs and Known Issues, visit its Blogger Help page.

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as if tens of duckies suddenly cried out in terror and were silenced
I love my ducks, and between me and my neighbor upstairs our duckies are quite happy. When I open my sliding door any time during the day, all the ducks change course and come over to my part of the pond. They know that door sliding open from this part of the pond == either me or my neighbor, and from our patios comes food. Smart ducks. I thought they were pretty fearless, too, since they come right up on the patio, up to the screen door and everything. Then I realized that my cats are intrigued but are not duck-stalkers. They're duck watchers, that's it. My cats only make chittering sounds when a finch or a mourning dove hangs out. In fact, Deuce goes nutso for mourning doves, probably because they're kinda chunky and slow. Anyway, they don't get all stalkery over ducks, they just watch them.

But the other day my ducks were a little standoffish. There was a great disturbance in the duck Force, you see, because a few miles away some stupid bastard asshat went on a rampage and killed a bunch of ducks [use bugmenot for access].
Shortly after midnight last Friday, four security cameras at the Delta Queen Classic Car Wash, 981 E. Hamilton Ave., captured images of a driver running over ducks five or six times in a 16-minute rampage. The driver also got out of his car several times to chase the birds -- some of them ducklings -- and appeared to grab one or two by the neck and throw them against or into his car.

Mike Davis, who manages the Delta Queen, said about a dozen of the animals survived the attack. Most of them are descendants of Cheese and Quackers, a pair that were dropped off by a customer in 1972. "There have been ducks here ever since the day it opened," he said.

Kimble Simpson is one of two employees who regularly take care of the ducks, and he had a soft spot for a big white male he named Rocco. Because he and his mate were recent drop-offs, they pretty much were rejected by the rest of the flock. Rocco always stood his ground, and didn't run away from the others.

Rocco and his mate were the first to die. The person responsible, Simpson said, was "heartless."

"First he went after the slowest ones, and then he went after the babies," he said.
He went after the babies. He was also stupid enough to do this on tape, and it's only a matter of time before the cops catch this blight on society, which is A Very Good Thing because anyone who spends any time watching cop dramas knows that a violent rampage against people is the next step after a violent rampage against ducks or other helpless animals.

Thursday, August 18, 2005
blogger book: all chapters submitted
Yep, eight chapters and two appendices. Here's the final Table of Contents, unless the various levels of editors (acquisitions, development, copy, technical) attached to this book decide that I need to add something else or shift something around. Typically this doesn't happen to any great extent in any of my projects, but this one is a bit different because of the style of the book and the apparantly volatile nature of Blogger the feature set...

In the last three days, Blogger released three new tools! I worked them all in the book (ok, the one released today will be worked in during AR, but it doesn't require a new topic), as evidenced by posts on the blog for the book:

- Blogger for Word
- Flag as Objectionable
- Word Verification for Comments (aka captcha: "completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart." I'm serious!)

I'm going to write some posts about each of the new things tonight, not that everyone in the blogosphere hasn't already beaten me to it by now. The short version? They're all really really cool things.

Oh and also, my acquisitions editor said that Biz Stone is writing a foreword for it. None of my other books have had forewords written by cool people, let alone geniuses who write cool books about blogging.

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help a family in need
The Badger family is, well...I don't think any of us really have the words to describe what they're going through. I don't, at least.

- Badger is a pseudonymous blogger, ABD and teaching at a uni in Oregon
- Badger has a 12 year-old son
- Badger has a 34-year-old husband who is an artist

Sounds like a lovely family to me. Here's the catch: Mr. Badger is dying of liver cancer; currently it's in stage four.

Mary McKinney, aka Academic Coach, has set up a fund for the Badger family. Here's an example of why:
Cost to date for surgery, CT-scans, hospital stays, doctors' visits, and labwork: $79,000. Insurance benefit left for year: $21,000. Days left until new benefit year: 145. Response from Social Security Administration when I went down to their office with our 2004 tax returns to prove our lack of income: Priceless.

There's nothing I can do for you. Come back in two years.

Prognosis of someone with stage four liver cancer: 3 months.

[read her entire post]

This is a real family in a horrible situation. Despite all this, Badger writes eloquent posts about...everything...all the things the rest of us in the blogosphere write about, except we're not facing the imminent loss of a husband and father.

For some of us, classes are starting soon. Students are anxious about readings and paper topics and leading discussions in class (ok, I am). Profs are gathering course materials, making syllabi, making last-minute room adjustments, etc. Seems really, really, really insignificant compared to Badger doing the same thing and taking care of her husband and her son.

So when The Badger Family Fund was started—not by Badger but by Mary McKinney (Academic Coach)—you're darn right I contributed, and I'll keep doing it as long as it's needed. So can you. Spread the word. Do good.

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Download of the Day: Snagit : Lifehacker
I think it's cool that the Download of the Day (yesterday) is the SnagIt software. I've been using the heck out of SnagIt to produce the screenshots for my book.

You can grab screens, windows, bits of windows, you name it and you can output to a bazillion different file formats. There's a free 30-day trial (fully functioning), after which time a license is $39.95. It was well worth the forty bucks.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005
ThinkGeek :: Pirate Mug
Dude(s)! A really big Pirate Mug for just nine bucks! Comes with funny description:
It's fun to be a pirate.
Sure it would have been fun to have lived during the golden age of Piracy, a time where the Pirates of the Spanish Main ruled the seas and brought about a delightful amount of plundering, pillaging and looting. Ah, such were the times of leather-faced privateers and buccaneers from the West Indies with their masted frigates and schooners laden with iron cannons and loaded with sea-loving, simple-minded, deck hands. To relive the legends of treasure and mermaids, of island lore, and of war on the seas. How romantic to have been a a pirate, eh? NOT.

Let's get something straight. You, yes YOU Mr. reading-this-very-sentence are in every conceivable way incapable of even existing in the same room as a real pirate. You would simply and quickly explode from fear from the inside out, leaving only a slightly tangible mass of flesh, blood, and bones on the planks beneath you. So, go back to "plundering" in your online "guild" and stop dreaming of ever being a pirate. That would just be too much of an insult to the real deal. Umkay? Just grab this mug, fill it with kool-aid and hurry on to the next "raid" before Mom calls you to set the table. Pwned.

All scary realities aside, this is a big pirate mug for a big pirate cup of Java. Holds seventeen ounces of your favorite liquid. Sleek looking gloss interior and black matte exterior with the Jolly Roger on one side and "ARRRRRGGH..." on the other. Optionally great for moonshined sugarcane rum, grog, and, of course, heavily hopped and heady ales. Pieces of silver not included. The intestinal fortitude of a pirate certainly not included.
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max and his green bag
I realize this just looks like a black blob on a piece of green on a bright orange color field, is. The black blob is my cat (Max). The piece of green is my Whole Foods Green Bag (it's very large and very sturdy and only $1.79). The orange is really soft blanket my cats like, thrown over an ottoman.

Max loves the green bags. I don't particularly like cat hair mixed in with my fruits and vegetables, so tonight I got him his own damn bag. Then I got a brilliant idea—put the green bag away from me and maybe he won't try to sit on me all day while I'm working. Max and Deuce both huddle on me/behind my laptop all day long. But Max likes his green bag more than he likes me, so he is happily across the room. Relief! No more typing with a cat hanging on my arm.

update number whatever on the Blogger book
I'll have a better update tonight, but basically the original writing is pretty much all submitted and I'm a third of the way into the author review process (that is, for a week or so I've have three of the ten chapters sitting in my inbox ready for me to revise and send back but I had to finish original writing first and then ask questions about some editorial comments). Only dribs and drabs remain: introductory few pages (but I'm waiting on a template for this series), front matter (nothing more for me to do in that than make sure my bio and acknowledgements are done), and I'm rewriting the blurb the marking people have attached to my book because I can't abide by some of the things marketing people say—because ultimately I'm the one who has to back it up, not them. Argh.

Had a kind of eleventh-hour addition to the table of contents yesterday. I finished and submitted Chapter 7, "Additional Blogging Tools," on Monday night, and on Tuesday it was already in the hands of my tech editor. Then Tuesday afternoon I read about the new Blogger for Word plugin thing Blogger released and realized that gee, that belongs in Chapter 7. But, if I covered that I would also have to be sure to include the Blog This! part of the Google toolbar and the Blogger bar, as well as the BlogThis Firefox extension.

If you're keeping score at home, that makes a decidedly-not-even-number of 53 topics in the book. I can live with it, even if it is a little lopsided.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005
interviewed by WSJ online
I had a lovely chat yesterday with a technology reporter for the Wall Street Journal online, regarding the use of Technorati as a "current events search engine" vs a traditional search engine (Google/Yahoo!/etc). I don't think I said anything too terribly enlightening, but I also don't think I said anything too terribly crazy either —and I'm more concerned about the latter than the former, since our company name would be attached to it and my boss would kick my ass if our only mention [ever] in the WSJ was me spouting off about something in a way that made any of us look foolish. I'm pretty sure I didn't do that.

The reporter (I read her WSJ Online articles and she's no slouch) emailed me the other day, prompted by my comments at the end of this post, and that's pretty much what we discussed. Despite its need for a bazillion more servers to handle the load [or something], and despite the fact that they're back to indexing my tagged posts from this site in a seemingly haphazard fashion if at all, I am far more fond of Technorati than I am Feedster, BlogDigger, IceRocket, etc. Now is not the time to get into the whys and wherefors, because I would have to be fair and balanced and actually formulate my thoughts. Rest assured I do have them.

Anyway, when her article comes out I'll excerpt it or something...unless I look like an idiot in which case you'll have to find it on your own and laugh and point at me from a distance.

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Monday, August 15, 2005
a brief guide to using the haloscan trackback system
The following post is an unedited version of Topic 40, "Using the Haloscan Trackback System," from my forthcoming book on Blogger [see TOC]. The style of this book is the Sams Publishing "In a Snap" series, which "offer[s] a unique 2-color format allowing readers to solve problems by identifying individual tasks quickly." In other words, there are a bunch of numbered tasks with lots of pictures, tips, notes, and step-by-step instructions.

The Haloscan commenting and trackback system fills a need unmet by the default Blogger commenting system—trackbacks. The concept of trackbacks is often confusing to new bloggers, but in fact it's a very simple process that enhances the links made between blog posts on a particular topic.

While you often see (or write) blog posts that include text like "Continuing a topic found [here]," where [here] is a link to someone else's blog, a trackback ping makes your post known to readers of the original post—who may or may not know anything about you or your blog. Readers interested in the topic discussed in the first blog post will see the trackback ping sent by you, referring to your blog post, and will perhaps follow this link to your blog where the conversation can continue and your readership will increase.

If you have a Haloscan account, you can send a trackback ping to any blog that has trackback functionality—regardless of the blogging platform or trackback type. That is, you can use Haloscan to send a trackback ping to another Haloscan-enabled blog, a Moveable Type-enabled blog, a WordPress blog, and so on and so forth. As long as a blog produces a pingable URL, you can send the ping. Similarly, your Haloscan-enabled blog can accept pings from any other blogging platform. The following steps show you the process of sending and viewing trackback pings.

STEP 1: Click the Trackback Link to Launch the Trackback Window [see figure 1]
On a Haloscan-enabled blog—your own or anyone else's—click the trackback link to launch the trackback pop-up window. In addition to listing any trackback pings which may have been received for this particular post, the window will also display the trackback URL.
For trackback links on your own blog, you may customize the string used to make the link. Login to Haloscan, then click the Settings link in the left-side navigation. Scroll to the Trackback link text section of the form, where you may change the strings used in the trackback links.

STEP 2: Find the Trackback URL for a Haloscan-Enabled Blog [see figure 1]
The trackback URL appears at the top of the trackback pop-up window. Copy and paste this URL if you want to send a trackback ping to this post.

STEP 3: Find the Trackback URL for a Blog Not Using Haloscan [see figure 2]
Other blogging platforms publish trackback URLs as well, as shown in this example. The placement will differ from platform to platform and blog to blog, but the URL will be clearly marked in some way to indicate that this is the URL to use for trackback pings to this post.

Steps 4 through 10 require you to be logged into your Haloscan account, for the purpose of sending a trackback ping to another blog. Login to Haloscan, then click the Manage Trackback link in the left-side menu. Next, click the Send a Trackback Ping tab to reach the ping form.

STEP 4: Enter the Name of the Referring Blog [see figure 3]
The Your Blog Name field should contain the name of the blog sending the ping. This value will appear in the trackback ping list of the recipient blog post, as the website from which the ping was received. In this example, I am sending a ping from the "Blogger in a Snap" blog to my personal "No Fancy Name" blog. Thus, the name "Blogger in a Snap" will appear as the referrer when viewing the trackbacks for the specific post at "No Fancy Name" which is receiving the trackback.

STEP 5: Enter the Permalink of the Referring Post [see figure 3]
The Your Permalink URL field should contain the permalink of the specific blog post sending the ping. In this example, just as the Your Blog Name field contains the name of the referring blog, the Your Permalink URL field should contain the permalink of the specific referring post on that blog.

STEP 6: Enter the Title of the Referring Post [see figure 3]
The Your Post Title field should contain the title of the specific blog post sending the ping. That is, the title of the post listed in the Your Permalink URL field.

STEP 7: Enter an Excerpt of the Referring Post [see figure 3]
The Your Excerpt field should contain an excerpt of the referring post. No HTML tags are allowed, and you are limited to 255 characters. You can use the first 255 characters of the referring post, or you can create a new summary to use specifically for the trackback.

STEP 8: Enter the Trackback URL of the Post You Want to Ping [see figure 3]
In the URLs to Ping field, enter the value copied from a Haloscan-enabled or non-Haloscan blog, as described in steps 2 and 3 above. You may enter as many URLs to ping as you like; the URLs should each be on a separate line.

STEP 9: Press the Ping Now Button to Send the Trackback Ping [see figure 3]
Press the Ping Now button to send the trackback ping to the URL or URLs specified in the URLs to Ping field. You will see a confirmation of the ping (or pings) displayed at the top of the page.
The Haloscan successful ping notification string appears in italicized text, not bold or red or something very visible. As such, you might miss it and think the ping as not been sent. Do not press the Ping Now button multiple times unless you are very sure the ping has not been sent, because you cannot manage the pings you have sent to other blogs. Thus, only the maintainer of the recipient blog can remove duplicate trackback pings.

STEP 10: View the Successful Trackback [see figure 4]
On a Haloscan-enabled blog, click the trackback link to launch the trackback window and view pings for a particular post. On non-Haloscan blogs, you will often see a link that says "trackbacks" or "referring posts," which will take you to the same type of information that is in a Haloscan pop-up. The trackback entries typically display the title of the referring blog post, linked to the individual post page, followed by your post summary or excerpt, the name of the blog and the timestamp of the trackback ping.

See? Easy peasy.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005
wee test from

this is an audio post - click to play

still working...
One chapter down—it turned out to be a lot longer than I though it would be, so I split some topics into two. I also compressed a topic in chapter 7 because otherwise I would have 51 topics in the book and I can't abide by that. No one else cares except me, but 51 is an odd number: it's not 50.

Saturday, August 13, 2005
finishing up my book
That's what I'm doing today: finishing up my book. I absolutely have to because not only am I late in getting the final chapters to my editors, but its unfinished state is weighing heavily in the back of my brain while I'm trying to finish development of a Very Important Product for our Most Important Client. That's not a good feeling. So, after looking at my to-do list for that product I determined that I could take the entire day today and kick out these remaining chapters.

However, there's one topic listed in the TOC for the final chapter and I have absolutely no idea what I meant by it. Since I'm not working on the final chapter yet, I have several hours before I have to figure out what I meant before tackling it, but still...

Friday, August 12, 2005
it's b-l-o-B, dammit!
My fingers have a mind of their own sometimes. When typing, they automatically type "g" anytime I type a word that begin "b-l-o". For instance, more than once I've typed "blog-level elements" instead of "block-level elements."

Ok, so that's not so bad. But when you're working with a database schema and you keep typing B-L-O-G instead of B-L-O-B, it gets really annoying.

[BLOB = Binary Large OBject. This is probably only funny to like one of you, if that.]

here's a new one...need your help! flex your non-creative muscles!
In the CSS appendix of my book, I wrote a paragraph like so:
The <span></span> tag pair is an inline tag rather than a block-level element. This tag pair essentially enables you to create your own physical markup tags. Because there’s no standard HTML tag for "very small red text on a yellow background," you can create your own class:

.fugly {
     font-size: 7pt;
     color: #F00;
     background-color: #FCFF00;

With the style defined, you can apply it to the text spanned with the appropriate tag:

<p>This is <span class="fugly">horrible-looking</span> text!</p>
[see what I mean? fugly!]

My tech editor(s) had no problem. Dev editor said nothing. Copyeditor, bless his heart, left a nice note: "Could you please change the name of the created class? Our house style won't allow even abbreviations of profanity."

Did not even occur to me. I guess "ugly_ass_colors" won't work either for a class name...

Hey, wait a second... that's not fugly. That's actually, uh, kinda useful with the red and the highlight. Ok dear readers, here's a chance for you to participate!

In the comments, describe some truly fugly example for me to use in its place. You don't have to do the style definition, just describe what you think would be horrid.

777 and taking a mental health moment
I'm so tired that when I saw this would be post number 777, I thought it was neat. I'm usually much harder to impress than that. Been working nonstop for awhile (by "awhile" I mean like five days of setting my alarm to get up and start working at 1 or 2am, to maximize the day). Have not sent my editor the three remaining chapters for my book, and that sucks. It's not like they're difficult to write, but real job trumps book writin' every time (and academics trump book writin' so it's a good thing my first class isn't until the 29th, by which point the book will be done done done).

But I took a mental health moment tonight and went with a school chum to the newly-renovated Stanford Theatre (not that I would know what the old interior looked like, never having been there before). I'm in love with the Stanford Theatre. It's $6 for a double feature and sodas are $1.00/1.50/2.00 and popcorn is $1.50/2.00/2.50. It's like flashback to college, back in the olden days when shit wasn't so expensive.

Tonight we saw a double feature of Laura (1944, with Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, and Vincent Price) and The Philadelphia Story (1940, with Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart). I liked Laura but I really really liked The Philadelphia Story. There are like fifteen other movies I want to see that are on the playlist for the next few months, so that'll be fun.

It's good to get out of the house for a few hours each week (trips to SBUX don't count). When I came back to check my mail and deal with work-related things, I replied to a few messages but my brain finally reached a point where it decided coherent sentences to product managers just weren't going to happen, so I posted this and I'm off to catch two hours of sleep before it's back up 'n' at 'em (or up and atom! if you're a Radioactive Man fan).

Tuesday, August 09, 2005
quickie: some of my duckies
Very busy, just took a moment to grab my phone and take this photo of some of the ducks that live in my pond. Well, it's not really "my" pond and they're not really "my" duckies, but for the $204/mo that goes to my homeowners association, I claim them as my own...

I didn't get too close because they're skittish little things. But here are a few eating birdseed that dropped from the feeder above them.

[see same ducks as babies]

Sunday, August 07, 2005
another blogger meetup
Today I'll be having lunch with another of my fave bloggers. But that's all I can tell you. Anonymous/pseudonymous bloggers really put a cramp in my post-meetup blogging, damn them. (I kid, I kid.) When I went to visit Mel, I couldn't report about it nor could I take photos of my trip. (Hanging out with her isn't really a "blogger meetup" since we've known each other for a very long time, pre-blog.) I can report about hanging out with profgrrrrl when she comes round these parts, because it's well-known that she doesn't live here.

So today I'm going to a nearby city to have lunch with an anonymous blogger. I'm sure we'll have fun. I am excited to meet her cat. That is all I can say.

Saturday, August 06, 2005
working at the perg
I have a ton of stuff to do this weekend (not that this weekend is any different than any other) so I figured I'd come over the hill to Pergolesi to work for a bit. If I get stuff done, then I'm going to my friends' kid's soccer tourney, which is also over here this weekend. It's a reward.

I love free wi-fi and mocha chai.

Friday, August 05, 2005
haven't-done-this-in-ages random 10
I was bored with the shuffles that came up randomly, so I stopped doing this. Seriously, 2800+ songs and I was getting the same results despite having no restrictions on the iTunes randomization process. Whatever. Here we go:

1) "Scrappy Love", by Tricky from Juxtapose
2) "Mourning Air", by Portishead from Portishead
3) "November Has Come", by Gorillaz from Demon Days
4) "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)", by Concrete Blonde from Bloodletting
5) "The Rising Tide", by Sunny Day Real Estate from The Rising Tide
6) "Acid Enlightment", by Fatboy Slim from On the Floor at the Boutique
7) "Stuck in Here", by Filter from Short Bus
8) "Green", by Michelle Malone from Beneath the Devil Moon
9) "Scatterbrain (As Dead As Leaves)", by Radiohead from Hail To The Thief
10) "Follow The Light", by Travis from The Invisible Band

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new game: name that saint!

Since you all did so well with voting on my new shoes, here's another game for you. The only person who can't play, she doesn't comment here anyway so no worries that she'll pop up with all the answers.

This is one of my tattoos. It is on my left inner forearm. It was tattoo number two, and I got it just a few months after my first one (first one was June '92, Charlotte NC; second one was Sept '92, Lexington KY). A prize will be awarded to the person who can correctly answer/guess the answers to the following questions (these are in order of ease-of-answering):

1) what is it from
2) who is the artist
3) who do you think it represents
4) I got it to remind me of something: what do you think that was? (hint: the placement is relevant to the answer)

Yeah, 1-2-3 are easy (hey look, that's a hint!).

UPDATE: I gave the answer in the comments because Rhonda said she couldn't stand not knowing the answer to something.

update on the diet
It seems much longer than one week since I started this diet. I don't have a scale so I can't quantify my results (which is fine by me), but I do know that some weight has been lost. I'm good with that. I'm not dreadfully hungry throughout the day, nor do I want to chew my arm off at night—both good things.

I really, really feel for my buddies though, the ones on the South Beach diet. We had to go to a meeting yesterday and I said, "just eat a banana or something before we go"...forgeting that fruit is verboten on their diet. "Go suck on a sugar-free lifesaver that looks like all the life was sucked out of it" just doesn't have the same ring to it. Then again, they've lost like six pounds in four days or something crazy like that. I'll just be happy to lose two pounds a week for a few months. Or even one pound. Whatever makes my clothes fit better. Going to the gym will help, too, once I can get back to doing that.

One thing I realized about my diet is that I can eat 90% of the foods with a spoon. Breakfast cereal? Spoon. Cup of soup/noodles/beans and rice for lunch? Spoon. Dinner is something out of a tray and it's spoonable too, even if it's turkey breast or something. Fruit? Potentially spoonable if it's in a cup. Eggs and cheese and fruit-not-in-a-cup are all hand-held items so while not spoonable, they don't require utensils. The only thing that requires a non-spoon is salad. I really don't like salad all that much so I try to substitute fruit for it whenever possible. If it weren't for the damn salad, I wouldn't have to wash dishes or forks.

But alas. If that's my biggest complaint about the diet (and it is), I'm doing ok. I mean really, I get pasta. Sure, it's itty bitty reconstitued mini vesions of elbow macaroni or fettucine, but it's pasta just the same.

want comments? ask about shoes.
How fun was that? Yeah yeah, the bar is set pretty low for what constitutes "fun" for me these days.

I think B was the overwhelming favorite. B is also the pair that I knew I'd end up purchasing. Dr. Free-Ride, I didn't even think about the football-jacket-y aspect of them until you brought it up, but it's cool because I like football and they're Steelers colors (ish) which is the team of my youth (and I root for them now, despite living in niners/raiders country because really, the niners and raiders both suck).

Which one did my heart of hearts wish I could get? C. So, apparently there's a whole passel of you with whom I won't be shopping anytime soon... :) I don't see skinhead when I look at nightwatch red plaid...I see the kickass punkrock girls of my youth. Everyone I know now is way too old to go with that look [with a few notable rockstar exceptions] and I certainly can't pull it off. Heck, I couldn't even pull it off then. But I liked it just the same.

Thursday, August 04, 2005
update on my Blogger book
Still writing it. Almost done. Am a little late on chapters. Will have the remaining ones to my editors on Monday (unless this weekend goes the way I think it might, in which case it'll be Wednesday).

Boring updates about the book are here.

The current working Table of Contents is here.

Yes, I do find it funny that the acronym for the book is BiaS ("bias", get it? heh?) because I am biased toward Blogger, else I wouldn't be writing a book about, you know, Blogger.

Sigh. It's the little things. Like yesterday when I needed a larger version of a graphic for something work-related, and my buddy sent it to me (did I mention that my boss == my buddy? lest you think I have more friends than I do) with the note that she "growed it up a bit". Come on, that's funny. I'm so simple.

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in lieu of a real post, cast your vote for my new shoes
That is, vote for which pair of shoes shall be mine. I can't decide, so I'm turning to the Internets (that's you). This will be interesting, especially since I have a "D" (none of the above) option. See, not only are you judging my taste in shoes, I'm judging yours! Muwahahahaha! Ok, I'm not really doing that. I just can't make up my mind.


After viewing the selections, come back and leave your vote in the comments. Commentary is fine (they are comments, after all). I actually have them ranked in my head, so it'll be interesting (to me, at least) to see who comes the closest to figuring out what I really want. Note that what I really want doesn't mean I'll actually get them, because if it did I wouldn't be opening it up for a vote!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005
dear Flickr: give a girl a break!
Why do you have to release things like clusters and interestingness when I am really busy???

Don't you know how cool these things are? Don't you know how much I want to play with them and marvel at the thought processes behind them? Don't you know how much work I have to do and chapters I have to write, meaning that I can't play and marvel? How annoying. [via FlickrBlog]

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Monday, August 01, 2005
sorry Netflix, you're gonna have to send me another DVD
You know how Netflix profits doubled during Q2? All because of me. Ok, not really. But I just watched Finding Neverland, which I've had since—wait for it—May 12th. Yep, that's almost three whole months. Netflix loves me. [I've had two other DVDs since June 2nd and June 29th.]

It's a good thing I didn't see this film in the theater, because I cried like a baby through most of it and that would have been embarrassing. Death, kids, love, more death, blah blah blah. I'm a big sap.

carb-free brains
Brains need carbohydrates. They just do.*

While I have a head start on my diet, my two buddies started the South Beach diet yesterday and the first two weeks of their diet is all about no carbs. I may be ravenous at the end of the day because my metabolism is all jumpstarted with the eating-several-small-meals program, but at least I can have carbs—small amounts of carefully engineered pasta are often in my lunch and dinner entreés, and I have fruit at least once a day.

I was talking with my buddy about the carbfree-ness of the Atkins/South Beach diets and it went something like this:

- me: You know when I went on Atkins ...
- her: You were psychotic?

I wasn't psychotic, but I was a raving bitch. There's a difference, albeit slight. So. I like my diet because I can get enough carbs to keep my brain going. Other side effect of the diet: I sleep really well. I'm sure if I sat down and thought about it I could figure out why, but for now my sleeping-well is really interfering with my trying-to-finish-my-work. Annoying.

* Yeah, yeah, "cite your source," I hear you. Umm...."my doctor" and probably more. Too lazy/tired to look it up right now. Just go with it.

dear PZ Myers: all the girls love you!
More than once at BlogHer, during duscussions about various things (identity, dealing with trolls, academia, etc.) I heard something along the lines of "Oh, and PZ Myers! Pharyngula! Love him!

So there you go.

get your archive on...
04/04 · 05/04 · 06/04 · 07/04 · 08/04 · 09/04 · 10/04 · 11/04 · 12/04 · 01/05 · 02/05 · 03/05 · 04/05 · 05/05 · 06/05 · 07/05 · 08/05 · 09/05 · 10/05 · 11/05 · 12/05 · 01/06 · 02/06 · 03/06 · 04/06 · 05/06 · 06/06 · 07/06 · 08/06 · 09/06 · 10/06 · 11/06 · 12/06 · ???


job / books / new blog

04/04 · 05/04 · 06/04 · 07/04 · 08/04 · 09/04 · 10/04 · 11/04 · 12/04 · 01/05 · 02/05 · 03/05 · 04/05 · 05/05 · 06/05 · 07/05 · 08/05 · 09/05 · 10/05 · 11/05 · 12/05 · 01/06 · 02/06 · 03/06 · 04/06 · 05/06 · 06/06 · 07/06 · 08/06 · 09/06 · 10/06 · 11/06 · 12/06 · ???


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