The Web 2005

Shock me...

I was reading Jenny's blog this morning when I came across something that caught me a bit unaware.

Nay, I was shocked and dismayed.

She and a bunch of her other blog buddies were discussing what they have dubbed "The Cult of Comments."  This refers to how bloggers thrive on the immediacy of comment feedback from their readers.

So they are attempting a "comment orgy" which I can only describe as a bit of a social blogging experiment.  Here are the rules as per Jenny's site:

  1. Blogger is tagged to write an entry for comment orgy.
  2. Blogger writes an entry.
  3. Blogger strives to get as many comments as possible on said entry.
  4. Blogger passes the orgy baton (Eww.) to another blogger of his/her choosing.
  5. If blogger fails to get 100 comments, the orgy dies.
  6. If the orgy dies, shame will fall on that blogger’s house. Forever.

Their challenge, now, is to find topics to post about that will ensure they reach this 100 comment plateau.  One of her friends suggested typing about "boobies" as everyone loves good stories about breasts.

This is where I become appalled and dismayed with Jenny.  I've always held her up on a higher level than many others.  She has a high-quality blog, yet she has resorted to an artsy way of blogging about boobies to gain comments.

For shame!  How could you sink so low, Jenny?

BOOBIES

I would expect such juvenile behavior from others, but not you, Jenny!

MISSIONARY POSITION

And all this just to validate your existence in the Blogosphere.  Comments?  That's all you want?  Just talk to us, Jen.  We'll come running and make you feel good about who you are without having to post such filth.

69

The truly sad thing is that she's not the only one who does this.  I've read more than my fair share of blogs and other websites that feed off the world's fascination with sex. And they make me sick.

CUNNILINGUS

Even if their site has nothing to do with the actual act of sex whatsoever.  They will do underhanded things like putting keywords in the meta tags that ensure people will find their sites when performing searches in Google, Yahoo, etc.

SADOMASOCHISM

I would like to take this opportunity to publicly declare that you will never see Kapgar.com resort to such deplorable methods to gain readership and comments.

BLOWJOB

I have an ethical and moral standard that I have set for myself and my site.  I have beliefs that I subscribe to and I can only hope that I impart these values to you, my dear readers, through quality posts that are humorous, insightful, and family friendly.

SPANKING

Never, ever will you find instances of sexual innuendo or lewd photographs on this site.  Let me repeat that... NEVER!

Miscfamilyguybdsm

Kapgar.com... a proud safehaven and paragon of virtue for all ages, since 1998!


All by my-se-e-elf.

So how am I celebrating the evening of my birthday?

By sticking around at work and getting stuff done.  Oh boy!  What fun!

Yeah, Mondays kinda suck for Katie and I.  She works late and I usually wind up doing homework for my Wednesday night class.  Talk about bogus.  She and I should be out at dinner and having some drinks or just doing something together. 

But no.  She's stuck at work and I'm trying to avoid going home so I don't get distracted by, a) the pretty new iMac with the stocked iTunes catalog and iTMS access, and, b) my eight hours of TiVo'd episodes of The Shield.

So I'm here at work getting some homework done while also performing a few cosmetic tweaks to my blog (gotta mix it up somehow).  Speaking of which, what do you all think of the new header graphic, the loss of the blue background on the sidebar, and the little Technorati search box?  Just some small stuff.  There's more I'd like to do, but not quite yet.

Actually, I want to start a whole new blog.  No, not as a replacement to this site.  It would be something else entirely. 

You see, I've been running a book review site for about eight years now, but it receives jack for hits.  If you'd like some idea how few hits it receives, try this on for size... this site, since June of this year, has received just under 5,000 hits; the book site, since I began tracking hits on it in August of 2003, has only received 3,500 hits.  I'm sorry, but that's pretty sad.  And I'm very proud of and attached to this site.  It's actually my favorite part of my old site and the primary reason I don't shut the site down entirely.  I'd like to see it do well.

This is why I want to introduce it to the blogosphere.  I feel that it would receive a lot greater exposure here from fellow bloggers.  Plus, it would receive greater recognition within search engines than it currently does.  If the placement of my own site in search results is any indication, my book site should prosper greatly from the switch.

I just need to figure out the best way to work the categories.  As it stands, TypePad does not allow for a way to alphabetize results when clicking on categories.  Usually, entries are listed on the page based first on the category and second on the post date.  So I need to expand the possibilities for the listings so that book reviews can be easily found despite this lack of alphabetization. 

But I'm also interested in enlisting additional reviewers.  I would develop a list of guidelines for reviewing, of course, so that standards are kept up to my anal-retentive par.  Duplicate reviews of the same book would be highly encouraged as they would allow for a more well-rounded overall view of the book.  And credit would be given to the reviewer.  But, no, you would not be paid.  Deal with it.  Strictly voluntary.

For the time being, I would post the guest reviews myself.  But, down the line, I might try to work it out so these reviewers would have their own access to the book blog to upload their own reviews.

Anyone interested?

I'm not sure what my timeline is on this project.  Guess it would depend on interest and time I have available.  Maybe sometime over the holiday break.


Can you picture this?

Key Wester
MisckeywesterIf you're ever in the western Chicago suburb of Naperville, might I recommend a cozy little restaurant?  It's called Key Wester and it's a seafood place that is just spectaculah.  Okay, "cozy" is not the right word as it's a pretty big place, but it's really nice and comfortable inside.

We went there last night as a co-celebration of mine and my brother's birthdays.  And we had fun.  Good food.  Good liquor.

I told my friend, Brian, that we were going there and he gave me a few words of advice when I informed him that my parents were paying.  "Kevin... Surf & Turf and a $90 bottle of wine." 

I took that advice.  I had me some Surf & Turf and damn was it good... 9 ounce cold water lobster tail and an 8 ounce filet mignon.  To die for (sorry, Dave, I know you're a vegetarian).  But we also had a new wine that they were stocking in-house.  It was a pinot noir and I can't remember the name of the winery it came from.  I've got it written down, but not on me  Sorry.  If anyone's interested in knowing the brand, I'll look it up for you.  Just let me know in the comments.  No, we did not get the whole bottle, but Katie and I each had a glass.  This was in addition to the 7/7 that I had before the meal.  Yeah, a good time was had.

Now I just want to know what Katie got me for my birthday.  She's been torturing me with it since Tuesday.  And I don't get it until either sometime this weekend or on my actual birthday.  She hasn't decided yet.

Flickr Update
I felt I should let you all know that I finally got off my lazy butt and did something I said would happen nearly a week ago.  That's right, I posted the Chicago photos from last Friday.  Yikes.  I completely forgot about them.  I loaded them to iPhoto on our Mac, but overlooked Flickr entirely.  So check them out and let me know what you think (you can leave comments there as well).

#200
What I'm having trouble believing is that I've only been doing this TypePad thing since the middle of June and I'm already at post #200.  Yep, you're reading the big 2G.  Yikes.  How long can I keep this up without burning out or going insane?  Stayed tuned and find out, folks!

"I've got somethin' to say.  It's better to burn out, than fade away"
--The Kurgan, The Highlander (and Neil Young and Def Leppard)

Final Thought to Ponder
If you had the qualifications and an opportunity to have any job you wanted in known history, what would it be?  Oh, and money and legality are not an issue (have fun with this one, Johnny).

I'm still pondering.  I had an answer, but then I decided to expand the question to include all "known history."  Oh the possibilities!


Let's get it on... (a follow-up report).

You sick, gullible, perverted bastards!

No, not my regular readers.  I love you all.  Even newbies who have come aboard and feel the urge to make a return visit... I loveth thee as well.

That first comment is directed to the multitude of people who have found my site by searching for more information about the e-mail address brave@realmeet.info.

If you recall, this was the "reply to" address that was included in my Ode to Bridgette post a few days ago.  And this e-mail address has garnered me a boatload of hits.  A couple hundred just since Sunday.  Heck, in the 18 hours since midnight GMT (yes, my stats tracker actually uses a Grand Meridian midnight as a starting point for counting daily hits; don't ask me why), 35 of my 85 unique hits (I'm not that popular) have been searching for either that e-mail address or information on the domain realmeet.info.  I've gotten hits from Italy, Turkey, the Netherlands, Germany, and Mexico... all because of a piece of junkmail!

Why are people that fascinated with this address?  Do they think this is some real proposition?  Do you actually believe that some undersexed chippie named Bridgette is looking to you for carnal refuge?

While I do thank you all for the overinflated hit count, I'm a bit upset that it's not for somewhat more legitimate reasons.  Not like all my new friends from the DVD Forum hosted by the little southeast Pacific island of Niue (despite my theory that this is actually a Swedish site) who are apparently quite enamored of my news of the Friends 10-season box set.  Heck, they quoted me and gave me a direct link in their forum.

Now, could someone please translate what else they've said for me?  They could be badmouthing me to Taipei and back for all I know.


I'll be watching you...

Just how safe is your neighborhood?  How many sex offenders live near you?  Do you even really want to know?

I found this link for mapsexoffenders.com off digg.com and, I gotta tell you, I really dug it (yes, pun fully intended).  It is a Web site that uses Google Map technology to show where registered sex offenders live.  If available, the map also shows a photo of the sex offender.

Miscmapsexoffenders

It's a very simple app to use... just punch in an address you want to look near and wait for it to find the names.  The app will place a blue pin point for the address that you used as a reference point and red ones for all the registered sex offenders in the area.

So here's my count...

Geneva, IL (where I live now) - 2 registered in the surrounding area with known addresses; 5 others known in the area, but without details (some are listed because they are in the local jail)

Naperville, IL (where my parents live) - only found one in the immediate area.  Guess the Naper-politicos did their damnedest to keep them out.

McHenry, IL (where my in-laws live) - quite a few in the city with one on the street over from where my father-in-law's business once was (he sold the business a little over a year ago).

Aurora, IL (where I work) - too many to count.  With a few right around the university and several more around local elementary and high schools.  Fun thought, eh?

As freaky as this realization may be, you've gotta admit that this is a brilliant idea.  The easier you make it to access this data, the more informed you will be.  And it can help when it comes to making the decision on where to move your family when the time comes.  I just hope people don't use this sort of service to form vigilante-style groups. 

How bad is your neighborhood?


Let's get it on...

I found this message in my junk mail folder the other day.  Don't ask me why I opened it -- even though I know I mentioned you should never just dismiss all junk mail just out of principle -- as this one easily should have qualified as "dismissable."  But, sometimes, reading these e-mails can be fun in and of itself.  And they can lend themselves to quickie blog posts...

From: Bridgette Cornell <MCMJJBVD@market-web.co.za>
Sent: Friday, November 11, 2005 12:26 PM
To: renatods@hotmail.com
Subject: let's meet comprehensive

Greetings

I am going to stay in the USA for some time may be we can meet each other and have some fun time or may be more. I am looking forward to getting your message to my personal email brave@realmeet.info.

I will reply with a picture

UDo noot oreply to this meRssage. WriteC to me direYctly.

flemish effluvia multiple stubborn asinine dey chime hoff errant pitchblende earthy jitter compacter glycerine teacart speak ipecac addenda bernini incommunicable amity meek brittany decertify spume repel galveston apostle feature auburn pair dadaist aristotelean murray

My dearest Bridgette,

Ohmigod!  You're finally coming the USA and want to stay with me!?!?  Oh, Bridgy darling, I've been so looking forward to this for so long!  Please!  Let's meet each other and have some fun time.  And can I emphasize my desire to further explore the "or may be more" possibilities that exist for us?

I see you have forgiven me for getting married behind your back and for dismissing any of the previous e-mails you have sent.  I apologize.  It's not my doing.  But we must keep our relationship on the QT.  I'm sure you understand, don't you?  If not, both my wife and your Zairean pimp will be hunting our asses down.

Can I ask what that list of random words are that you included at the end of your message?  Are those compatibility criteria?  Holy Cow!  We really were meant to be together!  I can see that now!  We're both stubborn and meek?!?! 

I live for role playing... I have no problem with you calling me Murray while I scream out Brittany during our jittery teacart escapades in Galveston. 

And you're an Aristotelian Dadaist!  I thought I was the only one.  I'm melting into a puddle of gooey ipecac as we speak.  The luck I have!

Out of curiosity, does "incommunicable" refer to your lack of proper speaking and writing skills or to the current status of your smorgasbord of sexually transmitted diseases?  Oh, no matter.

Baby, I can see that you didn't think I would respond.  Hence why you sent this message to renatods@hotmail.com and not directly to me.  But, thankfully, renatods is such a good friend that he/she/it forwarded it on to me.  He/she/it realizes we are meant to be together.  I forgive you for your lack of faith.  Just reply to me directly next time.  You know the address.  I have no hard feelings. 

And can you make sure that the picture you send features you wearing that little number that you had on when we had our last multiple rendezvous in Amity?  Thanks, sweetie.

Faithfully yours,

Bernini


All is Full of Love.

One of the blessings (and, occasionally, "curses") of becoming one with the Blog Borg, is that you not only wind up writing a lot more, but you also read a heckuva lot more than you ever did before.

Ever since I started using TypePad for blogging, I've been writing daily.  In fact, since the beginning of June, I've only missed one day of blogging.  With my old static HTML blog, there was only one month out of seven years in which I posted every day; and that was a chore.  What I'm doing now equates, in my book, to ridiculous dedication to the fine art of blogging.  It's sick.  Plain and simple.  But I do it because I love it.

But, even more than writing, I love the communities that you wind up becoming a part of when you blog and people start to discover you and vice versa.  Via links on people's sites and in comments, I have met a bunch of new people and started to read a ton more blogs than I ever thought I would.

Right now, I'd like to take a moment to recognize some of those blogs that I enjoy on a regular basis.  No blushing.

MiscdavepimpI've gotta start with Blogography.  There's just no way around it.  Dave is one of the best and he is also the one that convinced me to come over to the Dark Side and ditch my static HTML ways in favor of Blogware.  Dave is prone to talking about his general observations of life and pop culture and does so with a great sense of humor and insight.  Plus, he's got some of the greatest photographs and self-made cartoons which really bring his stories to life.

Another personal favorite of mine is A Mind Awake.  Johnny C is a good guy and quite humorous to boot.  You never know what to expect on his site and it is that sense of mystery that keeps me coming back.  Plus, we're eerily alike in more ways than either of us would probably want to admit.  And you just gotta love the Super Mario Bros banner on his site. 

I would be remiss to not talk about SJ at Chronic Listaholic.  You know all the memes I do?  Many of them wind up coming from her.  That's her entire site... lists... hence the name.  But what I like about her site is that she tends to take them a step further and add some custom questions to each meme to make it a bit more interesting.  Right now, she's taking a month off as she participates in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  If you'd like to follow her progress, you can do so at YoMoMyLi ("Your Money Or My Life").

Run Jen Run is a relative newcomer to my Befriend Me list.  Jen is a fellow Chicagoan (although she is Chicago proper) who has a very fun way of presenting her life in blog form.  And, damn if her photo contests don't just rock.  I have yet to win one, but, so help me, I shall!!!!

Would you like to read something with a little bite?  Then check out mrjerz.org.  Actually, he's a bit more multifaceted than most of us as he not only maintains a blog, but also has a great Podcast that I listen to on a regular basis.  And, remember, just because it has "Pod" in the name doesn't mean that you need an iPod to listen to his Podcasts.  You can tune in right on your computer.

I don't remember how I found Humanity Critic, but I'm glad I did.  Talk about a man with issues.  On any given day, he might discuss fantasies he has had, fights he was in, or reminisce about the good ol' days.  But his brutal honesty is completely refreshing and I think his therapist thinks so, too, as it sounds like s/he refers to his site for some of the truth in the matter as well.

Two other recent additions to my Befriend Me list are Sandra at InternalMonoblog and Alissa at I Found A Fatal Flaw in the Logic of Love.  I could easily have dedicated a paragraph to each, but they are both such good friends and seemingly inseparable (in a virtual sense), I felt it more appropriate to list them together.  I'm sure they'd both agree.

Finally, a new member to the blogosphere is kilax at ilaxSTUDIO.  Kim is an architecture student at Iowa State and her site does a great job of displaying her flair for design.  It's quite unique. Typically, one of the curses of being a great designer is that you have no ability to express yourself in words (be they written or spoken).  Kim has shattered that perception.  Plus, I think we've got her hooked to the point where she's posting nearly every day.

While the bloggers listed above are my most common reads and the sites I always wind up visiting first, they are not the only ones I read.  There are several other, more commercial sites I read on a daily basis.  Plus, I have a list of sites that I've just picked up on very recently.  This list includes Shane at Nickerblog; Magazine Man at Somewhere on the Masthead; Paul at Words for my Enjoyment; and the granddaddy of blogging, Wil Wheaton (currently in exile from his usual site).

Yeah, so this is a bit of a cop-out post.  I apologize.  But, these are great reads and I wanted to share them.  Better luck tomorrow, I hope.

(November 23, 2005 - For whatever reason, I went back and re-read this post and discovered that I did a horrible job of proofing before I posted.  For this, I apologize.  For this post reappearing in your RSS aggregators as though it's a new post, I apologize again.  But, I'm a perfectionist and needed to go back and right my wrongs.)


I smell a lawsuit.

Ah, more e-mail fun this morning.

Chavez v. Netflix, Inc.
If you were offered the opportunity to jump in on a class action settlement bandwagon, would you do so?

I received an e-mail from Netflix today detailing a settlement in a class action lawsuit against them by some bonehead named Chavez who claimed that "Netflix failed to provide 'unlimited' DVD rentals and 'one day delivery' as promised in its marketing materials."

Umm... okay.  Whatever, dude.  Maybe you're just strange, but I seem to get an unlimited number of rentals so long as I return them on time.  And, almost all of my rentals have been one-day delivery as promised.  A few have ventured beyond that time span, but I would be more prone to blaming the U.S. Postal Service than Netflix.

Well, it would seem that Netflix is settling it all by providing a free one-month upgrade in service to anyone who wants to take part in it.  This means that I would be bumped up from a three-at-a-time plan to a four-at-a-time plan.  And only for one month. 

Considering how little I've been watching movies lately due to the new TV season, I don't think that fourth DVD would get much action other than sitting on my turntable with the rest while I wait for a window of opportunity in which to watch it.

In this case, I don't think I will be participating.  It's such a minimal payout and I've otherwise been very happy with the Netflix service.  I have no bone to pick with them.  If it was Blockbuster Video, I'd be all over it regardless of how minimal the payout was simply because I hate them and they've screwed me over enough that I would relish the payback. 

What would you do?  What have you done in the past?

But this was not the only interesting e-mail I found this morning...

Celebrity Art Exhibit Friday at Crobar
MiscanthonyquinnI'm not sure if you're at all familiar with Crobar.  It's a bar and nightclub in downtown Chicago that has a bit of a reputation (or, at least, it had a bit of reputation) as a leather bar and... well... if it helps paint a mental picture, former Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman frequented the place.  Getting the idea?  I thought you might.

Perhaps my mental perception is a bit off-base.  If so, to the Crobar crew, I apologize.

This e-mail was actually delivered to my junkmail folder because it came from a name that the Hotmail system didn't recognize.  I don't even recognize it nor do I have any idea how I would have ended up on a Crobar mailing list.  The potential explanations terrify me.  I'd really rather not go into them.

The exhibit is called, interestingly enough, "Hard Men."

You'd think I would have stopped reading right there, wouldn't you?

I didn't.

It was, thankfully, followed up with this description...

An Exhibition of Art by Charles Bronson, George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, Anthony Quinn, Sly Stallone, Evel Knievel, Robert Mitchum

Curated by Baird Jones
Friday, Nov. 4, 2005, 10:00 - midnight
Crobar Nightclub, 530 w 28th St. (between 10th and 11th Aves.)

In all honesty, it sounds a bit intriguing.  I'd love to see what Anthony Quinn would call art.  Muhammad Ali... not so much.  It might wind up being a recycled cardboard box.

“Starfighter” Video Game Led to Youth Saving Galaxy
Okay, this one is not an e-mail but a Bloglines link to a Digg submission regarding a Daily Gaming News article (catch all that?).  All I can say is bwahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

I guess you have to know The Last Starfighter to understand.


I'd like to say, have a happy holiday...

Ooohhhhh... two posts in one day!  Hey, can't help that I've got lots of cool stuff to discuss.  Actually, it's a bunch of smallish items I wanted to mention.

Of course, this just means that I won't have jack to talk about tomorrow.

However, this first bit is somewhat time sensitive and must be mentioned today, lest it be too late.

International Something For You Day:
Tonya at Adventure Journalist has declared today a new holiday.  Specifically, International Something For You Day.  Your task, should you choose to accept it (and I see no reason why you wouldn't want to) is to spend $25 on yourself.  Be like Tonya and buy something off your Amazon Wish List, go get a manicure/pedicure, get a very inexpensive lap dance (Johnny?), or fuel up your truck like I am for a cruise around the area taking autumn photos.  Whatever you choose, make it something for you.  And make sure to mark your calendars for next year.  This one's definitely worthy of inclusion in the annual holiday rotation.  Heck, as far as I'm concerned, it trumps quite of a few of the standards.

MiscibelieveiBelieve:
If you own an iPod Shuffle, might I suggest spending half that amount on a new accessory?  iBelieve is a lanyard and replacement cap for your Shuffle that converts it into a rather large, white plastic crucifix to hang around your neck.  I find this thing to be absolutely hilarious.  And, yes, it's legit.  The order function really does work.  No, I did not order one as I do not own a Shuffle.  But, this accessory alone almost makes me want to buy one.

Google Moon:
First it was the entertainingly interactive yet completely worthwhile and utilitarian Google Maps.  Then, we all had fun watching the camera zoom into our homes and whip around the planet with Google Earth.  Now, you can view the lunar landing sites of the late 60s/early 70s with Google Moon.  Just promise me one thing, you will zoom in to the landing sites as far as the map will let you go.  The detail is amazing!

Ted Allen:
I dunno how many of you are fans of Queen Eye for the Straight Guy, but their resident food and wine expert, Ted Allen, was in Naperville, Illinois, last night signing copies of his new cookbook, Food You Want To Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes, at Anderson's Bookshop.  Being the cookbook junkie that Katie is, she really wanted to be there.  Alas, she was working until 9:00 p.m.  So I went in to the signing for her.  He and Kyan were always my two faves on the show, so it was cool being able to meet Ted and have him sign the book as well. He really is a damn funny guy.  I've got a couple photos of him at the event up in Flickr (Photo 1 | Photo 2).


Why don't you build me up...

I'm pondering some more cosmetic changes here on kapgar.com.  I'm wondering what you all think.

  1. I'm a bit sick of how long my sidebars are becoming.  I hate how the categories are stacked, one per line, in a nice, long column.  And, while the archived months are not that long a list, yet, it will grow as time goes on.  So I'm thinking of stealing an idea that I've seen on Blogography and on Run Jen Run, that being the use of dropdown menus that contain all the archived months and categories.  For Dave and Jen, the dropdowns are a feature that come with their use of Moveable Type.  Since I use Typepad, which doesn't offer the dropdowns as a feature, I would probably have to plug in the code manually.  This is not a big deal as dropdowns are a simple matter of code theft.  Did you really think I would code them myself?  Yeah, I've coded them before, but why write when you can steal?  Even if I do steal the code, I would need to customize it for my site and update it by hand.  So I am being kept somewhat honest in my illegal maneuvering.  But the only one that would really need to be updated would be the monthly listing and that only would have to happen once a month.
  2. I want to bring more emphasis to the fact that I do have other portions of my site available for people to read and I don't think having four simple text links under the heading "Kapgar.com" is really helping to get the word out.  Yeah, I do have some people who find my other sites -- which include a fairly extensive photo album, movie review site, and book review site in addition to seven years of handcoded blog entries (pre-Typepad) -- from Web searches.  But my blog readership has increased a lot since I switched to Typepad and it's these new readers I don't think realize those sites exist.  So I'm thinking of throwing together some badge-style link images to make them stand out a bit more.  Now that I know how to incorporate HTML into sidebars, this is going to be easy.
  3. Better yet, if I'm going to create dropdown menus, maybe I should just incorporate my archived blog entries into the new dropdown as well.  Not a bad idea.  If I decide to get really ambitious, I could even create dropdowns for the movie and book reviews.  Okay, maybe not.  I'm not that motivated.

I also like when you tool around on someone else's site and find handy little links that can help you out as well.  On Run Jen Run, she had a link to a site called Chicago Blogs which is a list of bloggers from the Chitown area.  Heck yes.  I'm not exactly in Chicago proper, but I live in the recognized suburbs.  So I registered and now have the code under "Visit Me" in the right sidebar.  It would be cool to receive some visits from other Chicago bloggers and be able to rant and rave with them about all things Chi. 

I am already listed on *beep* which is a blog host and link repository for bloggers in the Chicago area (who use other blog hosting services) run by the Daily Herald.  Funny thing is, they found me and asked if I wanted to be linked.  Cool.  I read the blogs on their site from time to time.  Some pretty good stuff from their regular contributors every now and again.  I'm thinking I should add them to the "Visit Me" typelist as well, wouldn't you agree?  If they're gonna link to me, perhaps I should return the favor, eh?  Hmmm...

Now to find a site that compiles all amateur movie and book reviewers.  All the old webrings I've belonged to in the past have kinda gone by the wayside.  Webrings are so hit or miss.  Once in a while you will find a person who really keeps the ring alive and maintains it fervently.  But for every one ring admin that is good, there are 20 or 30 that just don't give a rat's patootie.  Most of the ones I've found have fallen in the latter category, unfortunately.  Any suggestions?


Do you want to play?

Katie and I had some beer last night with our homemade calzones and it hit her pretty hard so she went to bed relatively early.  Apparently, it doesn't take much Piraat Ale to do you in. 

Me?  I was wide awake.  So I went downstairs determined to beat that sticking point fo mine on Lego Star Wars.  It really was pretty easy, as Dave said it would be, and I solved the level and went on to my fight against Darth Maul in part 6 and, overall, defeated The Phantom Menace.  I even played through the first level of Attack of the Clones which was "Discovery at Kamino" or some such.  That was a really fun level as you get to battle Jango and Boba Fett and even face off with the Slave-1.  I love that ship.  It's always been one of my favorite Star Wars vehicles.

Took me about an hour and a half to do all that and then I went to bed.

I am officially addicted to this game.  I love it.  This is the first time since Mario Kart: Double Dash that I have been so enamored of a video game.

Misclegostarwars2
Oh my, Obi Wan... it appears as though Master Kapgar
has fallen victim to the Dark Side of PlayStation 2.

Hey, at least I admitted that I'm developing a problem.  It's the first step in recovery, right?  But not nearly as fun as actually solving the game.  Heh heh.

I've also been playing around some more with both Typepad and Flickr and found out how to display random photos on my blog.  This would've been an easy task if I was still maintaining my blog the old static HTML way.  However, I was not quite sure how to incorporate HTML into a sidebar in Typepad.  I figured it out and now I've got that pretty Flickr Badge on the left.  Ain't it cool?  And it will load up new random photos from a selection that I designated each time you come back.  Click on any of them or the multi-colored "Flickr" name above the badge to visit my photo albums.

Now that I know how to incorporate HTML into the sidebars, I think it's time to play with Blogrolling so I can stop worrying about manually adding the links for good blogs to my "Befriend Me" Typelist.

One other cosmetic change, and very slight at that, is that I moved the "Hear Me" Typelist above the "Read Me" list.  I change Hear Me more often than I change Read Me, so it made sense.

Oh, and if you're wondering how someone like Kelly Clarkson made my Hear Me list, don't even bother asking.  I like her new album.  She is a very guilty pleasure.  Okay?  You over the initial shock yet?


Amazing Grace.

As many of you know, I've been having "fun" with eBay lately.  At the end of April, I won an auction, my first eBay auction in about seven or so years, for a Mark Grace Cubs jersey as a gift for my wife.  What ensued in the few months after that has been anything but encouraging.

Well, it has been a month since I've updated you all and since I formally complained to eBay about my "experiences."  So read on for Part Two in my continuing quest for eBay eQuality...

MiscmarkgraceAugust 4, 2005

I've sent in my complaint message to eBay and receive a series of form replies... blah, blah, blah.  Typical BS.  I reply to the addresses in the "reply to" portion of the e-mail asking for some verification that they really are doing something about it and not just blowing me off.  No, I never expected anyone to actually reply as it was likely a shell e-mail address that just "dies," per se. 

Much to my shock, someone did reply and it was a bit more personal than the standard form reply.  They assured me that something was being done.  Mostly just contacting the seller and whatnot.  They offer me four options of recourse including:

  1. Directly contacting my seller - well, duh, what did you think I was going to do?
  2. Reporting the transaction to my payment issuer - the grocery store where I bought the money order?
  3. Filing a report with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center - I somehow doubt I would be a high priority.
  4. Filing mail fraud charges - can I do this?
  5. Reporting the transaction to law enforcement - see number three.

I actually replied with the above comments.  Oh, and for the record, the answer to number four is "yes."  Hm, who knew?  Not me, apparently.

At about 4 p.m. (CDT), mootown actually replies to my e-mail saying that they tried to refund my purchase through PayPal but my account would not accept funds. 

  1. Thanks for taking your sweet time reporting this fact to me.
  2. Well I would sure as help hope it wouldn't considering I didn't have a PayPal account.  Nice trick if it did.

I reply telling them that I requested a refund via money order, the same method I paid by.  They reply saying that they only issue refunds via PayPal so they have written (electronic) record of the refund.  I complain that I didn't need it from them when I sent them the payment, why should they need it from me?  Again they insist.

Begrudgingly, I establish a PayPal account.

August 5, 2005

PayPal account is up and running and I let mootown know.

A guy named Gabriel from eBay contacts me via e-mail to let me know that he is personally following up on the investigation.  Nice to have a name.

At 4:00 p.m., mootown replies to my PayPal e-mail by asking if I would accept a grey Cubs jersey, same size, with the Grace name and number.  I reply that I thought they couldn't find one and that, sure, I would still take it if they send it out immediately.

August 6, 2005

I receive an e-mail from some customer service group at eBay asking me to take a survey regarding whether or not my customer service needs were met.  I decline.

I also receive another e-mail from Greg at mootown confirming the existence of the grey jersey and asking again where I would like it sent.  I tell him where he can stick... er... send it.  He even provides me his phone number.  Gee, that only took you four months.

August 9, 2005

Greg e-mails again to tell me that the jersey will be sent out on Friday, August 12.  He then proceeds to thank me for my patience and calls me "a rare ebay class act."  Umm... okay.

August 15, 2005

I actually use my PayPal account to buy Katie's physics textbook.  Kinda easy to use once you figure it out.  Maybe I'll keep it.  Sorry for the aside.

August 19, 2005

I e-mail Greg to ask if the jersey was actually shipped.  I had no idea how long shipping would take and requested a tracking number.  He replies saying "actually I think it left Tuesday" referring to August 16.  This might explain a delay.  However, I continue to press for a tracking number and am left wondering why he "thinks" it shipped Tuesday and doesn't actually "know."

August 25, 2005

I receive an e-mail from Greg saying that the tracking number would be coming from a company called Triple Threat Sports.  Oh, great, we've got a third party involved.  The roller coaster takes another twist.

I e-mail TTS and copy Greg.  Chris from TTS replies saying that the transaction would be taken care of in the next couple of days and, to Greg, says, "do not involve me in these transactions."  Wow.  Guess their friendship ain't the strongest, eh?

Chris then replies to me personally in a separate e-mail saying that I have his personal guarantee that the jersey would ship on Friday, August 26.

August 26, 2005

I receive USPS confirmation that the jersey did, in fact, ship on the day Chris promised and that it would arrive on or around Monday, August 29.  Chris forwards the confirmation to me just in case I didn't receive it and informs me that it should be a quick ship because he's located in Mokena, Illinois, not too far away from here.

August 29, 2005

No jersey in the mailbox.  Oh well.  Maybe tomorrow.

August 30, 2005

I open the front door to leave for work and there's a package between the screen door and the wood door.  It's the jersey.  I never thought to check there yesterday.  I open it and give it to Katie and she tries it on.  Yes, it's long.  But, like I said, her mom said it could be hemmed.

Yay!  It all worked out.

I'm still jaded a bit and it may be a while before I use eBay again.  But, at least it worked out.  Only took four months.


No Excuses.

Wow, it feels so good to be back on my Mac writing this blog entry.

Yesterday's entry came to you courtesy of a PC running Windows 98 that only had a horribly outdated version of Microsoft Internet Explorer on it.  Ouch.  It was truly painful. 

Typically, my blogging interface has tabs so I can view this as a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) screen or as an HTML screen to fine tune the code.  MSIE showed one screen.  Anytime I entered special HTML coding, it would show up on the same screen as what I was typing.

There are also 15 different rich text editing options available through this interface. Stuff that you would normally see in a word processing program such as bold/italic/underline/strikethrough, a color palate, hyperlink and e-mail options, quoting, bullet and number lists, image entry, file insertion, and spell checking.  In MSIE, I had the text modification options (bold, italics, etc.) and hypertext linking; but nothing else.

This is actually the second time I have posted using that machine and only because I had no other option available to me at the time.  I was not at home (where I have my beloved Pbook Lombard) nor at work (where I have my G5 tower).  I was elsewhere.  And all they had was a rickety old POS Windows box.

There's just no excuse for that CPU to still be alive.  Who the hell even runs Windows 98 anymore?  Is it even supported by Microsoft in this day and age at all?  I somehow doubt it.  I get the feeling even Bill Gates shivers at the mere thought of it.

Windows advocates know what I'm talking about.  Using XP and then backtracking to W98 is painful.  To the Machead, it would be like stepping back from OS X and beginning to use OS 7.1 again.  You just don't do it.

I think it's time we go Office Space on that thing...

Miscofficespace

Oh, and I have just one more thing to say, on a totally unrelated topic and I plan to let the following image do the talking for me...

Miscfamilyguypromo

Friggin' sweet!


Once... Twice... Three times... I'VE HAD IT!

When I first started grad school, I went nuts on what was then the trendy new toy... online auction sites.  eBay, uBid, Amazon Auctions (RIP).  I loved them all.  And I used them all for the same purpose... to rebuild my Atari 2600 gaming system. 

When my brother and I were kids, we were stupid.  We wanted the 8-bit Nintendo system that everyone else had.  My parents said that if we wanted it, we would have to sell the systems we had at the time which included an Atari 2600 (original woodgrain jobber, mind you; it was the first and I can't quite recall if that was the four-pin or six-pin unit) and the Atari 7800 with about 100-150 games between the two units.  We were happy to just to keep up with the Joneses.  We got our Nintendo and played the hell out of it.  We upgraded from there as well to Super Nintendo (me) and Sega Genesis and Sega CD (my brother).  Anything beyond that point has been self funded, at least on my part.

Misc2600controllerHowever, when I looked back on that decision (hindsight is 20/20, after all), I regretted selling my Atari.  Yes, you could play computer emulator versions, but they sucked by comparison.  It just wasn't the same unless you had the original Atari box and the chewed-to-hell (our controllers were, at least) single button black joysticks that everyone can readily identify as Atari.  So I started rebuilding my system.  I purchased a new system from eBay and started buying individual or combo packs of games from all three auction sites.  I never had a problem with any transactions.  I just sent in my money order and my toys came back.

After this Atari frenzy, I stopped using online auctions altogether.  Amazon Auctions closed down and they are now Amazon Marketplace (which I use for other things; but it's not a bidding system, just resale).  uBid still exists, but they apparently don't hold the clout that eBay does as I've not heard much of anything about their site in recent years.  I also stopped using eBay primarily because I just never really cared to keep up on auctions.  But also because most sellers migrated to the PayPal system for payment.  I don't like PayPal.  I kept reading horror stories about how PayPal was constantly being hacked so I stayed away.  I do use other forms of online payment quite often, but I've never read about them being hacked.

However, many sellers now offer multiple payment options including my preferred method... money order.  Also, PayPal now offers a version of their system that allows for "one-off" purchases so you don't need an account.  With this in mind, I went on the auction hunt again. 

This past April, I finally participated in an eBay auction for a Cubs home jersey with Mark Grace's name and number on the back.  I wanted to get it for Katie as a surprise gift.  She's a Grace junkie and I thought it would be a nice surprise. 

April 27, 2005

I win the auction.  I am stoked.

I contact the seller and go through all other steps to make sure everything happens smoothly.  So far, so good.  I send in the money order with a signature confirmation request.

May 3, 2005

I receive the signed signature confirmation slip via USPS.  Everything is still going according to plan.

May 13, 2005

I receive e-mail confirmation from the seller that they received the money order, although they refer to it as a "check."  This is probably just an error on their part.  The difference being that money orders are guaranteed as they are paid for in cash so there is no wait time for it to clear, unlike with a check.  Items paid for with check are usually delayed to allow for the check to be cashed and cleared.  I write back informing him that I used a money order and that a delay should not occur as they "have the cash."

June 1, 2005

They reply to a shipping status request of mine by saying that they need the exact item # (which I gave them in my request e-mail), plus my "EXACT name and address sent with payment."  So I sent all that back to them immediately after getting the e-mail from them.

June 14, 2005

They finally reply to me and my badgering by telling me that "we will have to replace it."  They no longer have the white, pinstriped jersey as I had ordered.  They did, however, have two gray ones with Grace's number and name and in the same size.  I really wanted to get the white one for Katie, but this isn't that bad.  So I accept the offer.

July 4, 2005

I receive another e-mail saying they have no more Grace jerseys at all in any size or color.  They ask if I want any other jersey from their "extensive collection."  I say no.  All I wanted and all I'm willing to pay for is the Grace jersey.  So I request a refund.

July 5, 2005

Suddenly, they manage to find a size large Grace jersey.  Gee, where did that pop up from?  I say no.  Large is going to be too big.  The medium was already kinda big on her, but the small was just not right.  So medium would have been the best.  I decline and say I still want a refund.

July 10, 2005

They say that their computerized inventory of Cubs memorabilia was wrong and proceed to blame it on their "American made computer."  Yeah, we all know American computer manufacturers have it out for the Cubs.  Again, they ask if I would like another jersey.  Again, I say no and request a refund.

August 1, 2005

After not receiving anything via e-mail or USPS for three weeks, I give them my final ultimatum... send me my refund with shipping confirmation (I don't care how they manage that one, but I want it anyway) by Wednesday, August 3, 2005 (the confirmation by that date, not necessarily the actual money order), or I would lodge a formal complaint with eBay.  I had already been copying a couple of generic eBay e-mail accounts with most of my e-mails at this point.

August 4, 2005

Nothing was received by the end of the day yesterday, so I went in to file my complaint with eBay today only to discover that their "item not received" complaint system only works within 60 days of the close of the auction.  Fucksticks!  Or, as my brother would say, "Christ on a bike!"  I have no idea what it means, but it makes me laugh.

I can't even leave negative feedback for the seller because it's been so long. 

MiscebayI send a complaint e-mail to eBay, instead, regarding the item and how I think it is still eBay's responsibility to make sure that this conflict is resolved to my satisfaction.  I also point out how this is my first purchase through their system in over six years and that it has not proven to be a very open-armed welcome back.  I argue that I was giving the seller the benefit of the doubt and a chance to make things right and that's why I waited so long.  I also point out that I now feel as though they were simply baiting me along until I was past the 60 day complaint time.  Having sold as much as they have, they would know the policies better than someone like me, who has made one purchase in six years.  Bend over, Kevin!

Now, I'm simply awaiting a response from eBay.  I didn't really spend a lot of money, but it's more the principle of the whole affair.  I either want what I ordered or my money back.  It's that simple.

Oh, and for the record, the seller goes by highnoonsports or mootown.  So don't buy anything from them.  You've been warned.


Speaking your mind

Why is it that when someone announces that they intend to speak their mind that others around them tend to cower away or completely block the person out instead of sitting there listening attentively? Why is speaking your mind such a bad thing? From where did the negative connotation arise?

Wil Wheaton (yes, the actor who costarred in the film Stand By Me and the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation) wrote on his blog about how, over the years, his site has lost its focus. He's become too caught up in making others happy and not using his blog for what it was intended, that being to speak his mind in a public forum. He feels he is suffering from what he termed "Blogger Burnout" and linked to a site that gave ways to determine if you, too, are suffering from BB. Now he is making a conscious decision to turn his site back into what he originally intended it to be. A forum for his thoughts. If you agree with them, fine. If you don't, he isn't going to lose any sleep over it.

I agree with him and feel it's important to use a blog to air your thoughts, opinions, etc. It's a great way to say something that you otherwise might bottle up inside yourself. My blog is the closest thing I've ever had to a diary in my life. I never wanted to write stuff down in a little book and keep it to myself. Heck, I could do that in my head; why make my hand cramp up in the process? I think it's cool to read someone else's internal dialogue and to have their permission to do so makes it all the better. I don't have to worry about feeling like Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) reading Clare's (Emilie de Ravine) journal in that episode of Lost. I never have to feel dirty knowing that I'm scanning the (sometimes) innermost thoughts of my fellow bloggers and Web surfers and knowing that you all can do the same back to me.

However, I also feel that a line sometimes has to be drawn. There is only so much I'm going to type on this blog. And there are reasons why I have made a conscious decision in this regard.

I do like having readers. It's rather self affirming to know that people read what I write and to know that a few of you come back here on a regular basis because you like reading my little cyberniche. I know Tony Pierce said that you will suffer burnout "when you get caught up in traffic, hits, popularity, readers, and/or fame." But I do feel that knowing that someone is reading your posts is important. There's nothing worse than getting up to speak and not having anyone listening in the audience. No, increasing traffic to my site is not my focus. It is simply a welcome benefit of having done this for so long. I will still write what I think and not actively seek topics that will boost my hit count. But, should it happen from something that I am writing, great. I won't be upset having more readers.

Also, I'm never going to lie to get more readers. I will always speak what I'm thinking. But, at the same time, I am not going to say something that will hurt my wife, my family, or my friends or jeopardize relationships or jobs. As frustrated as I get with work from time to time, I'm not going to bad mouth specific people right here in this forum. I do know, for a fact, that some of them have read my site. But at the same time, I also know I have poked fun at our IT department a couple times, but it was well deserved and something that every business, school, or organization endures often enough that what I'm saying is not particularly damning.

My site will never be WWdN. There's just no way. Nor do I want it to be. But I respect Wil as a fellow blogger and applaud him on his decision to take back his site. I am Kevin and that's all I can ever aspire to be.


Haloscanned

This will likely make one person out of many happy. Okay, maybe two. But I finally started doing some research into how to allow people to make comments on my posts directly on this page. And, thanks to Haloscan, I think I may have it.

Hopefully, what you will now see is an option at the end of each post that will allow you to post comments immediately about posts that I have made on this site. You may be redirected elsewhere to post these comments (meaning: "not on the kapgar.com site") and you may or may not have to register a username to post, but it should still be worth it so that you no longer have to deal with my stupid "e-mail me" links and you will all now be able to view what everyone else says about my mindless ramblings. Here's hoping it works.

Please make sure to try it so I know it works and please use it semi-often so my research and coding time is time well spent.

Update: It's posted and I've tried it and all you need to do is click the "comment" link and a pop up displays where you type in a user name, URL (if you have one), an e-mail address, and your comment. Very simple. No registration necessary whatsoever. You can be as anonymous as you want, which scares me.