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Joys of parenthood Fri, Jun 29, 2007
An email from my sister Dana (mother of 2) contained this gem: 
John just did a monstrous poop and it leaked out of his diaper and got on his sheets.  He cried out from his room, and I went up, and he was standing there with his bear in his hands and he said that the bear had pee-pee on it . . . Ah, the joys of parenthood.  To top it all off, he always wants to see the poop in his pull-up (he wears a pull-up during quiet/nap time).  See what you have to look forward to?!  Children are weird!
Parenthood, here I come ... someday ... eventually! #lifestyle

Firefox referer blocking Fri, Jun 29, 2007
When browsing online newspaper sites like OregonLive and NJ.com, users are presented with the following nag screen that requires a zip code, a birth year, and a gender: 

[Image: njnag.png]

As far as nag screens go, this one's not all that bad.  It doesn't ask for your name or email address.  And I've heard they use the information for targeted advertising, which isn't altogether evil.  But either way, it's annoying, and I hate it with a passion.  When I try to read this simple story, I have no problem accessing the site.  But when I click to go to the next page, I get the nag screen.  The issue is caused by the web browser sending an http referer, which tell the website where I'm coming from.  It's not an inherently bad thing, and many websites use the referer to perform valuable services (not just stupid advertising).  Digg said to just disable all referers, which can be accomplished with a simple about:config hack.  But several Digg comments pointed to the fact that disabling all referers is unfair (boo hoo, poor web admins) and can degrade or disable the performance of certain websites (del.icio.us for example). 

To get around that, there's a Firefox extension called RefControl.  It allows you to block referers for specific websites.  As long as you're morally ok with causing some sort of harm to a website's advertising demographics (I am!), this plugin is the way to go. 

Update (2007-07-06 1:10pm):  Advance Internet is the parent company to the sites that have this annoying "feature", including NJ.com, cleveland.com, MassLive.com, MLive.com, al.com, NOLA.com, OregonLive.com, PennLive.com, SILive.com, Syracuse.com, gulflive.com, and MardiGras.com. #technology

Eight to five Fri, Jun 29, 2007
Every job I've ever had has been an 8-5 job (I'm convinced 9-5 jobs don't exist, despite the popular expression).  For this reason, I've always been under the mistaken impression that everybody has an 8-5 job.  My dad had one.  My mom had one (hers was more like 7:30-3).  My wife has one.  My friends have them.  I can really only think of a few people who work different hours.  For all intents and purpose, these people don't count in my analysis.  With this false assumption in mind, I sometimes get angry at how the world works.  If everybody works 8-5, why are banks and post offices only open 8:30-4:30?  It's the same with doctor's offices, the DMV, and pretty much everything you'd ever need to do.  I try to set up a doctor's appointment, and they say, "How about Tuesday at 10:30am?"  Masking my intense anger and frustration, my answer is a simple, "Sorry, I'm working then."  I've been talking to a few customer service people on the phone lately, and they always ask when it's a good time to reach me at home.  After 5:30, stupid!  I'm amazed that anyone else's life is different than mine.  I think there's a psychological term for this.  It's something like delusions of grandeur. 

I can think of a few places that don't follow this rule, and I'm often more willing to go out of my way or pay more simply because I like their system.  I went to an emergency care doctor recently, and it was one of the best medical experiences of my life.  Not only was there absolutely no wait time, it was no problem at all to pick up my blood test results at 7pm.  I've been getting physical therapy for my elbow, and they're just as good with their time.  I say, "Do you have anything after 5?"  They say, "How about 5:30, 6, or 7?"  Awesome.  The one other place I'd like to check out simply for their schedule is Commerce Bank.  Their regular operating hours are 7:30-8 (that's before and after work!), and Saturdays and Sundays.  I can't think of any other company or service that goes this far out of its way to cater to its customers. #business

Lake community fireworks Wed, Jun 27, 2007
I live in a lake community.  My house is actually a solid mile from the lake, and I can't see the lake or smell it (which is good -- lakes smell gross), but I'm considered part of the community.  Everybody around me has a boat or a jetski or something.  And to celebrate every event, every night of the week, for any occasion whatsoever, people use fireworks.  Constantly.  What could possibly be celebrated on a Tuesday night in June?  And at 10pm?  I just don't understand people.  It would be one thing if it only happened once or twice.  But this literally happens every night of the week, all summer long.  Usually around 9:30 or 10pm.  I can think of about 3 events to celebrate with fireworks: 
  1. Birthdays
  2. Graduations
  3. Anniversaries
That's all I can come up with.  You wouldn't celebrate your bar mitzvah with fireworks.  You wouldn't celebrate the birth of a child with fireworks.  You wouldn't celebrate a first tooth, a baseball game win, or a new car purchase with fireworks.  Well, maybe you would use fireworks for some of these, but you'd probably save it for a Friday or Saturday.  Not a Tuesday. 

I can think of at least 3 reasons why you wouldn't or shouldn't use fireworks to celebrate things:
  1. They're illegal in New Jersey, so you have to go out of your way to get them.  Plus, their bright lights and loud noise make it easy to pinpoint the person who illegally transported explosives across the state border.
  2. It was 92°F yesterday.  Why don't you just throw lit matches into some dry grass or throw your lit cigarette out the window?  Oh wait, you already do that.
  3. They're stupid.  If you're gonna do fireworks, don't just get 3 or 4 and light them off every few minutes.  Spend a fortune and make it worthwhile.

Year-round ice cream Wed, Jun 27, 2007
The Dairy Queen in my home town opened in late spring and closed in early fall.  Ice cream was a distinctly summer thing.  It makes sense. 

But ever since I moved up and out (20-30 minutes away ... woo!), I've been enjoying ice cream year-round.  Cold Stone Creamery has become a standard year-round thing, and it makes things easier when new stores pop up every few months.  But I easily get sick of Cold Stone's overdone flavors and mixes.  I like simple things, so I go to Cliff's Dairy Maid and Buddy's (both in Ledgewood/Succasunna, NJ).  It's weird to eat ice cream when the outside temperature is cold enough to not cause it to melt.  But I do it, and I like it.  Winter ice cream is a new thing for me, and it's good. #food

Adblock Tue, Jun 26, 2007
It's been a while since I tried using Adblock for Firefox, and I can't remember why I stopped.  In the past day, this plugin has made my life about 35% better (figure based on estimates).  Pop-up blocking used to be all the rage, but most newer browsers have that built-in.  Yet for some reason, certain pop-ups still find their way through, and it really gets to me.  Sites like Snopes still employ this archaic and annoying method of advertising, and I got to the point where I was looking for alternative sites that didn't get on my nerves.  But with Adblock, you can just block all the junk you don't want to see.  No more pop-ups from casalemedia.com or tribalfusion.com.  No more ads, period.  Man I love geeks and their ability to hack things. #technology

Golf and gators (1) Tue, Jun 26, 2007
A guy almost lost his arm while trying to get his ball out of the water at a golf course in Venice, FL (via Obscure Store).  Oddly enough, my grandparents lived in the little town of Venice for 170 years (or it might've been around 25), and I played golf there a few times.  The rule on those golf courses, as with most Florida golf courses, is simple:  If your ball goes in the water, leave it.  Even if you can see it and it's only a few feet in, leave it.  You can get another ball.  You can't get another arm (actually you can, but that's not the point).  When I played, I saw several alligators sunning themselves right next to water traps.  It was cool to see such an unusual animal out in the open (unusual for a New Jerseyan), but it was also at least slightly mortifying.  Alligators are in the same category of animals as sharks, lions, bears, etc.  Things with teeth large enough and jaws powerful enough to snap your femur like a toothpick.  So when I hit my ball in the water (with me and golf, it's always a "when", not an "if"), I thought about reaching in and getting it.  My grandfather, aunt, and uncle said not to, but I said, "Look.  It's right there.  I can see it in the water."  They convinced me otherwise, and that's the main reason I'm still here today. 

The article mentioned above has a stupidly funny statistic:  "The attack was the second in 18 years".  Is that a lot?  Is that a little?  What am I supposed to think? #sports

Phone book (1) Tue, Jun 26, 2007
I find it puzzling that phone books still exist.  For around a decade now, the internet has been the method people use to find information.  Sure it's not always reliable, and you can't always find what you're looking for, but I'd be more willing to trust the internet than a book that's updated and published annually.  Then there's the whole environmental issue.  Since phone books are republished every year, the old ones will inevitably be thrown out.  What happens to all that paper?  Why can't I opt out of getting a phone book?  I can opt out of [some] other mailings, but not the one that randomly shows up in a plastic bag on my driveway every 12 months.  Detractors will point to the fact that phone books are useful for propping things up, such as kids on chairs and getting stuff from the top cabinet.  Neither are issues for me since I'm childless and tall enough to reach high things.  So please, phone book hander-outers, whoever you are, please stop giving me phone books.  I don't use them. #psychology

Sensual music Mon, Jun 25, 2007
Am I the only one who feels uncomfortable when Marvin Gaye or Barry White comes on the radio in a public place?  It feels wrong in every imaginable way to be forced to listen to sensual music while shopping for fruit at the supermarket.  What's even worse is when people sing along.  Do you have any idea what the song "Let's Get It On" is referring to?  And by singing along with it in a public place, it makes it about 100 times worse, especially if you casually yet unintentionally make eye contact with me. 

My most awkward sensual music situation happened this past Friday when I was at the physical trainer trying to get rid of some elbow pain.  A large Dutch man was giving my arm a deep tissue massage, complete with lotion and everything.  Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" came on the radio, what with its "Baby I'm hot just like an oven" and its "I need some lovin".  I contemplated cutting my arm off and running out of there. #entertainment

Pastor Thu, Jun 21, 2007
I just found out last night that my church has no qualification for calling someone "pastor".  This is a bit unsettling.  I was under the impression a pastor is someone who's been to divinity/theology school and has gone through some sort of certification process, the end result of which is the award of the title "pastor".  This is not the case at all.  Apparently, this title is used differently in different churches, and in our specific church, it's used to describe someone who's a leader of a specific ministry/group.  There's a senior pastor, an associate pastor, a youth pastor, a worship pastor, and a few others.  Most of these people and titles don't bother me.  But there's one specific pastor who I don't feel is qualified to be called pastor.  I don't know the guy too well, but I know he's around my age and has a degree in music.  That's about as far as our differences go.  And since I don't see myself as someone who should be called pastor, I don't feel this guy should be called pastor either.  I think the title of pastor carries with it a sense of spiritual leadership and religious know-how.  People go to pastors for help with problems, spiritual guidance, Bible questions, and things like that.  If you're just some dude who's in charge of a group, I think you should be called "the guy in charge of the group" and not "pastor". #religion

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