4 posts from October 2002

Oldies: Sunday, October 20 - Saturday, October 26, 2002...

Wednesday, 23 October 2002: Here's a pretty interesting article from the New York Times. It deals with Saddam Hussein's recent decision to release all prisoners in Iraq and how this bid for national solidarity (via a goodwill gesture) is blowing up in his face.

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, this past Sunday, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, to thank his countrymen for re-electing him to another seven-year term with 100% of the vote (never mind that he was the only candidate), decided to release all prisoners throughout Iraq. It did not matter if these criminals were petty thiefs, murderers, rapists, or political prisoners... they were all set free. Rumblings from outside Iraq lead you to believe that the real reason he did this was to drum up support for himself as well as a whole heap of anti-U.S. sentiment. I tend to believe this theory as well.

It seems that his little plan has blown up in his face to some degree. You see, in the last 23 years that Hussein has been in office, his secret police have whisked Iraqi citizens away in the middle of the night for one perceived offense or another without so much as an explanation to their friends and family. Many of those left behind have been harboring hope against hope that their loved ones are still alive. When Hussein released everyone and their relatives failed to return home, many Iraqi citizens were suddenly jolted to the realization that they are dead. And they are pissed. As a result, they have started small protests in Baghdad. In the U.S., a small protest is no big deal. Hell, we had small protests on the campus of NIU to sound off against the closing of Gilbert Hall as a dorm. But in Iraq, any show of anti-government sentiment is absolutely unheard of. Many are speculating that the citizens of Iraq have finally been pushed over the edge and this is all the nudging they may need to convince them to aid in overthrowing Hussein. Who's to say? Only time will tell.

Check out the article on the NY Times website.

Tuesday, 22 October 2002: Here I had all these ideas for what to write yesterday and they all suddenly became very insignificant.

Yesterday, I was sitting here at work whittling away at some projects and the only real concern in my mind was the fact that I had a test in my EMT-B class that I needed to find time to study for. Then I get "the call." You know what "the call" is, right? When your phone rings and you have that feeling of foreboding. Then, when you pick up and give your normal greeting, you hear some kind of sadness on the other end. Be it crying, sniffling, whimpering, whatever. It's just there and it's very tangible and you suddenly feel the world come crashing down before a single word is even spoken by the other party. My "the call" came from my mom and the news was that my grandfather (or "PopPop" as I've called him since before I have active recall) had died about a half hour earlier. He's been sick for months, maybe even a year or so now... who's counting? So, his passing is a bit of mixed blessing. Sad, of course, because he's gone. But happy as well, since we no longer have to worry about him suffering. And, even though he may have denied it outwardly, I'm sure he was suffering a bit whether it was physical or just mental.

I must just have a weird reaction to death. I didn't get as upset as I thought I would. I didn't cry. I didn't get pissed off and reactionary. I was just me. I dealt with it. I knew it was just a matter of time. Maybe if his death was sudden and unexpected it would have hit me harder. Who's to say? Luckily, death is not something I've had to deal with all too often. Two grandparents in addition to one best friend, two cats last year, and a deuce of gerbils when I was much younger. I guess I should consider myself lucky. Nothing really hit me at all until later yesterday afternoon when I realized that I no longer have a grandfather. PopPop was the only grandfather I ever had. My dad's parents got divorced way back when my dad was still a kid so I never knew that grandfather. And, despite my Grandma getting remarried, we only ever referred to him as Uncle Jay, not Grandpa or anything similar. I only have one grandparent left now and I don't want to lost her, too. Not yet, at least. Call me selfish, I don't care.

I love you PopPop, and I hope you're feeling better.

Sunday, 20 October 2002: I always get such a kick out of the "placing blame" game that occurs when some kind of incident deserving of national coverage happens. In case you're scratching your heads at this first sentence, I am referring to when something like Columbine happens, people are very quick to place blame and usually on some kind of mass media form. In the case of Columbine, it was Marilyn Manson and other popular music artists who are so obviously at fault for inspiring Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to carry out their deeds.

Well, I bring this up now because of an interesting news report that was on FOX News Chicago tonight. Apparently, people are starting to wonder if the Maryland/Virginia sniper who has killed nine people thus far, may have obtained training from one of the many shoot 'em up, sniper-like video games that are so readily available. Yep, you read right, people think that a sniper trained for his rampage using a video game. I'm sorry, but that is the most absurd thing I've ever heard. There is no way I am actually delusional enough to believe that I could go out and buy a rifle and be able to pick people off from hundreds of yards away with a single shot because I played these games. I really have gone out and fired rifles and pistols at gun clubs with my dad. No amount of video game "training" could make me better. The only thing that makes a person better at firing a gun is to fire it repeatedly and learn from your mistakes.

So I ask... where can people go to learn how to fire a gun properly; have access to semi-exotic, not-otherwise-readily-available weapons (like I'm sure this particular sniper's rifle is); and be able to escape the clutches of the law with seemingly superior stealth-like abilities? Hmmm... the military? Could it possibly be? Hell, the sniper in that college bell tower back in the 60s was an ex-Marine (sorry, I'm currently drawing a blank on the school and the guy's name). Why couldn't this new sniper be ex-military as well? I haven't heard much speculation about this so far. Instead, people go the absurdist route and blame video games. Christ, people are stupid. 

Oldies: Sunday, October 13 - Saturday, October 19, 2002...

Wednesday, 16 October 2002: Here's some fun little brain teasers for you. Don't worry, if you scroll over the white area underneath each question [between the brackets] with your mouse, you will see the answers. You see? Kapgar.com is not only fun, but you get to work your brains a bit, too. Now have some fun in your otherwise boring day...

1. A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven't eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him?

[The third. Lions that haven't eaten in three years are dead.]

2. A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over 5 minutes. Finally, she hangs him. But 5 minutes later they both go out together and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be?

[The woman was a photographer. She shot a picture of her husband, developed it, and hung it up to dry.]

3. There are two plastic jugs filled with water. How could you put all of this water into a barrel, without using the jugs or any dividers, and still tell which water came from which jug?

[Freeze them first. Take them out of the jugs and put the ice in the barrel. You will be able to tell which water came from which jug.]

4. What is black when you buy it, red when you use it, and gray when you throw it away?

[The answer is Charcoal.]

5. Can you name three consecutive days without using the words Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday?

[Sure you can: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.]

6. This is an unusual paragraph. I'm curious how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so plain you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is unusual though. Study it, and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out. 

[The letter "e," which is the most common letter in the English language, does not appear once in the long paragraph.]

Did you learn anything by doing this? Did you have fun? Is your brain totally trashed now? Nah, I didn't think so.

Oh, and today I had my first toy review posted over at Michael's Review of the Week. If you wanna know why I did it... just for kicks, I suppose. It's kinda nice to see your stuff written up somewhere else on the web other than just your own site (where you can rattle off whatever the hell you want whenever the hell you want to do it... much like I do here). When someone else agrees to publish it, that means they respect what you have to say. I dig on that. Kind of a mini ego trip. I think I'm gonna write up one or two more reviews as well. It's fun. I wrote up a review of the fall TV shows for the latest issue of the Aurora Borealis student newspaper that got published as well. I'm telling you, having an opinion is quite fulfilling.

Tuesday, 15 October 2002: Okay, so it didn't work out entirely as planned. While all three of my early season baseball picks did make it into the post season, none of them made it to the Fall Classic. Damn, I was so hoping for a Cardinals-Twins World Series. That would have been so much fun. I am not happy to see Barry Bonds in the Series. Not that he's a bad player or anything, I have just never liked his attitude. He's the ultimate whiner. I hope the Angels whomp 'em. That would be the closest to a perfect ending I can come up with now for this season. C'est la vie, eh?

Sunday, 13 October 2002: Today is a very special day, indeed. Today marks Katie's and my one-year wedding anniversary. Not only has she put up with me and my whacked-out antics for nearly four years (this December 18th), but she has now been doing it for one year while being officially recognized by the State of Illinois as a legal relative of mine.

Hon, I don't know how you do it or why you do it, but I love you for it. Thank you for making this last year the happiest year of my life. Here's to many more years.

I love you with all my heart.

And, no, I don't really care that I posted this a day in advance (I posted this on the 12th). Deal with it.

Oldies: Sunday, October 6 - Saturday, October 12, 2002...

Saturday, 12 October 2002: Well, I finally got off my lazy butt and added some more new photos to the Photo Album. We had about six rolls of 35mm film laying around in our apartment for at least six months. A couple were around for even longer (one roll had shots from our honeymoon on it). We finally got them developed last week and now I've scanned some of them for the Album.

You can now view shots from the Chicago Bears charity basketball game we attended back in March as well as a Chicago Bulls game against the San Antonio Spurs, also back in March. There are photos up from Steve's game against the Prairie Ridge Wolves back in the beginning of September. I was borrowing Al's big old Minolta flash, so I got some pretty good action shots.

Eventually, when I get some time, I'd like to scan some of the shots from our two trips with my family out to San Francisco (Spring Break 1999 & 2000) as well as a trip we went on with my family to Galena, Illinois in January 2000. But with all the photos I'd have to wade through and scan, it might not happen until Christmas Break, so don't hold your breath too long.

Thursday, 10 October 2002: I know the old saying "There's no such thing as a free lunch." And I'm sure you've heard it, too. Well, I'd just like to take this opportunity to say that it's a load o' crap. In the literal sense, that is.

Today, WCKG 105.9 FM Chicago did an "Office Invasion" of the Public Relations house here at AU. I enrolled for this contest online and they picked my name. What it entails is a couple of reps from the station coming out to our office and bringing us free food and some prizes. Well, the free food came courtesy of Carson's Ribs and, let me tell you, they were damned good. I was never a ribs fan until today. They also gave us some WCKG bottle openers as well as free tickets to see the sneak preview of The Ring with Naomi Watts and the Edwin McCain show at the House of Blues next Thursday. So I gotta give a big thanks to WCKG and especially Adam and Anastasia for making the long haul out of Chicago to the far west end of Aurora. We had some fun.

Oh, if you'd like to see some pictures from the event, go into the Photo Album and check them out.

Wednesday, 9 October 2002: In the immortal words of Hugh Grant, "whoopsie daisies." Turns out I FTP'd the wrong file to the server and all of you wound up reading the film critique homepage instead of this one. And I wondered why I had nearly two times as many people hitting my movie critique page than my homepage yesterday and early today. Okay, so I get an honorary "Darwinism Missed Me" award. I'm honored. Trust me. I'm human therefore I'm fallible, right?

Anyway, now that the school year is back in full swing, it's time to take a look at the hits that my site gets (readership of this site notoriously drops off in the summer months because many of my readers access the site from the faster connections that their schools provide). Well, I no longer have any hits whatsoever from Northern Illinois University and that once constituted about half my daily hits. Guess he/she finally graduated, eh? But, I have a very devoted (one person) fan base from Sandia National Laboratories (http://www.sandia.gov). My money says that my NIU person is now working at Sandia. Care to confirm, fair reader?

Tuesday, 8 October 2002: Ouch. That's about the only word I can come up with for last night's drubbing of the Bears by the Green Bay Smackers. Ouch. Does anything more really need to be said about it? Granted the Bears did display a few brief glimmers of inspired play, overall they were sorely lacking. Also, it is my personal opinion that they should've held off until after their bye week to bring back R.W. McQuarters and Philip Daniels from the injury list. Don't get me wrong, McQuarters is my fave player on the team and he played pretty well, but they really risked him reinjuring his knee all so the team could lose in a big way to the Pack. They really should have played it safe and given them both another two weeks of R&R. Oh, well. I guess that's why I'm a web developer and not Greg Blache, eh?

Monday, 7 October 2002: Talk about baseball! Wow, now these were some kinda division series. First, the Cardinals sweep their way through the struggling Diamondbacks. Bear in mind that I picked both of these teams to make it to the postseason way back in April. I love the D-Backs and seeing Grace win a second ring would have just been more salt in the Cubs already open wound. But it just wasn't meant to be. Then, the Yankees are ousted in four games by the Anaheim Angels of all teams. Wow. If there is anybody out there who can say they knew this would happen is full of shit. I love the Yankees and have been a lifelong fan, but enough is enough. They've dominated the game for the last six years and they're still damn good, but, like I said last year at this time, it's time for another team to come to the forefront. Even better is that the Twins beat the A's in the fifth and final game of their series. I'm still pulling for the Twins all the way. I said it back in April and you can check the archives for proof.

You wanna know what I love even more about this whole thing? Jason Giambi left the Oakland Athletics because he felt they had no chance of going anywhere. After all, they had lost in the first round of the playoffs for the last two years straight. Giambi's former Oakland teammate Mark McGwire tried to convince him to go to St. Louis to take over what would be his open position at first base since he was retiring. Where did Giambi wind up? With the Yankees because, he felt, they had the best chance of giving him a ring. And what happens? It's the Cards that move on and not the Yanks. Way to pick 'em, Jay. Now, if the Giants will just rid the world of the Braves, this will be a happy postseason for me. God I hate those Braves.

Oldies: Sunday, September 29 - Saturday, October 5, 2002...

Friday, 4 October 2002: Now bear in mind that this news can change, but it appears that My Big Fat Greek Wedding finally has a video/DVD release date... February 11, 2003. Yes, that is quite a while away still. But, it is just in time for Valentine's Day and Katie's birthday. What's weird, and cool, about this release date is that it puts it almost a whole year after the movie was originally released in theatres on April 19. Says a lot for the longevity of the flick, eh? I can't wait for this one.

Wednesday, 2 October 2002: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I used to collect baseball, hockey, football, and basketball cards. At the time, it was a helluva lot of fun because I knew several people that were also into it and we could get together and trade or bike to the local cardshop and buy what we wanted and needed to complete sets, etc. Well, card collecting is now firmly rooted at the bottom of a very deep, dark, downward spiral. Card prices shot through the roof, the number of companies making cards seemed to outnumber the amount of athletes they could make cards of, and all the good cardshops fell victim to the economic busts of the very early 90s. It's sad, really. Card collecting was a fun and fairly innocent hobby and easy as hell to become addicted to. I enjoyed it a lot. I've still got a lot of my good cards and sets, too.

Well, I've got to hand it to Topps - one of the original makers of baseball cards. They have seemingly found a way to breathe new life into a dying, if not dead, hobby. I happened across eTopps today. What is eTopps, you ask? Well, allow me to enlighten you... at least, insofar as I understand it.

eTopps is a site you visit and start a portfolio of players in the four most common sports in which sports cards existed - football, baseball, hockey, and basketball. They also have a category of "classic" retired athletes from all four sports. Every week or so, eTopps offers anywhere from 6-9 new players on cards. These are known as IPOs (Initial Player Offerings). They set a price on the cards and a fixed quantity that are made available. You determine which players in this particular IPO round you want, click on them, and submit your selections. Then you are given the opportunity to modify the quantity you want of each card. Then you place your order (yes, this does involve real money in the form of a credit card). When the IPO period is expired, eTopps allocates the cards based on your orders. You may or may not get all the cards you ordered, but I assume you are not charged for any portion of your order that is not fulfilled. Then, these cards (real cardboard cards) are placed in an eTopps vault and the record of your ownership is maintained in your portfolio and in their database. As time passes, the value of the card is either positively or negatively impacted by their performance. You can track this in your portfolio, as well. Plus, you can sell your cards on the eTopps Trading Floor which is an auction site run by eBay. People place bids on your cards just like any other auction and, if they win the auction, the "possession" of the card is transferred to their account. Cool concept, eh?

It seems to have been going on for a couple of years now as they have players listed from 2000. There are 90 cards available each year in each sport and you can collect whomever you choose. You never have to worry about duplicate cards unless you want them. And you never have to worry about garbage "filler" cards. The condition of the actual, physical card is guaranteed by eTopps until such time that you take possession of the card. Yes, if you so desire, you can pay a small shipping fee and have the cards sent to you. However, once you have them in hand, eTopps is no longer responsible for the condition of the cards and you are no longer eligible to sell them on the Trading Floor.

My only concern is that the price of the cards initially tends to be a bit high. Not too terrible if you were still into collecting cards near its death knell. For example, Donte Stallworth, the New Orleans Saints' rookie runningback, is starting out at $6.50. Not bad and I know the value of his card would go up, but I can't justify spending that kind of money on what effectively amounts to a virtual card. I'd like to, but I'm just not into collecting anymore. I think something like this could be fun, though, and would also be a great way to learn about economics, stocks, portfolios, and the like. All you high school business teachers might want to take this to heart... *cough* Scott *cough*

Tuesday, 1 October 2002: Well, I've got some new photos up for you all to peruse. We've got some cool ones from Steve's homecoming game. Of course, since he was on the field, he's not in any of the shots. Mostly the shots are of what we have dubbed "The Kicker Krew" which is Steve's bleacher fan club. You'll also get to see the Kick-o-Meter which is fashioned after the Sosa-meter found at Cubs games and used to document Sammy Sosa's annual home run count. The second set of photos I added are just three shots of what happened to Katie's car when someone stole her hubcap and lugnuts off one wheel back in August. They're pretty good shots done by Katie in the rain no less. Kinda intriguing for non-gearheads (like myself) to see some of the hidden workings of a car.