Friday, June 27, 2003

Project complete

I installed the new antivirus/antispam gateway yesterday and changed DNS to point to it - the gateway is working quite well (once I fixed the glitch that was causing it to reject all mail as relay attempts - oops).

Since I got it functioning right around 10 last night, it has either blocked outright or tagged 334 messages as spam. I'm using the spamhaus.org RBL as a reference, which is a little more permissive than some of the other RBL's.

Also, with the Turiel family having some travel coming up, I'm going to experiment with using T-Mobile's GPRS service. For $20/month (on top of your regular cell plan), you get unlimited usage at speeds approximately that of a modem. I should be able to use my T68i as a modem with this, and use either my TiBook or Palm for Internet connectivity.

I'll use it on my upcoming trip and report on it - if it works well, I'll keep it active and if it sucks I'll drop it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Boycrazy

Today, our son is 13 months old. He has two new teeth now (bringing the total up to six). He also has picked up a new skill, but one that is, of course, slightly unsettling:

Last Friday, Jane was headed upstairs. He scooted off to follow her, and normally we steer him away from the staircase when that happens. This time I followed him discreetly to see what he did.

He followed her all the way up the stairs.

The kid can't walk yet, but he climbs stairs just fine on the first try. Go figure. Good thing we have a gate at the bottom already.

I lust for a PowerMac G5, but I'll be waiting on that until Apple puts the chip into an iMac, hopefully by fall. I'd be OK with a 1.5 GHz G4 in there, though.

Regardless, I'll probably wait to but the next Mac (mine) until after MacOS 10.3 is out - that way I don't have to buy it separately.

Good names for a rock band

With apologies to Dave Barry for the idea...

I think "The Euphemisms" would be a most excellent name for a rock band.

Woodge, however, prefers "Spoon Boy and the Potentials".

I believe it would work better as "Spoon Boy and the Dinner Companions", but I could be sold on either.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Rain rain go away

And don't ever freaking come back, okay?

Not a bad weekend, weather aside. Saturday was a day of errands and general fun - and then Sunday we went to the baptism of the baby of friends of ours in Middleton. They were able to rent a big tent, so the post-ceremony party went on as scheduled in the rain. David was delightful right up until the very end, and then he spent the drive home being rather tired and upset.

He went to bed pretty early, and had a 3AM incident, but Jane said it wasn't too bad - I was able to fall asleep again pretty quickly, which I usually can't do if he's really bitter.

Other than that, yesterday's open house seems to have been pretty promising, with some good leads. We have a showing this afternoon, and another one Wednesday. Hopefully we'll get a buyer soon, now that we're finally getting some action on the house. I'd really like to have this issue settled real soon - the sooner before our scheduled closing on the new house the better.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Experiments in babyrearing

As the middle-of-the-night wakings have become more frequent in recent weeks, we're trying a new thing for feeding time. We're holding out on his solid food until around 8PM, and then instead of giving him water in his sippy cup we're filling it with half a bottle's worth of formula. The idea behind it is that a full tummy of food will last longer than a full tummy of formula.

Last night, it worked quite well. I put him down to bed around 9:30, and he's still asleep as I write this from work. We'll see how it goes from here.

The other new trick we're doing is this: I commented a couple of days ago that a middle-of-the-night bottle is not a good habit to have. So what we're doing now is keeping an empty bottle upstairs in his room - the idea is that if he demands something we'll give him water in the bottle instead of formula. He'll get something in his tummy, we'll not load him up with excess calories overnight, and it'll be better for his growing teeth (sleeping right after a bottle is not Considered Good).

I don't have 100% confidence in this idea yet, but it's worth a spin. The big thing we're working on with this is trying to keep him from getting into a regular pattern of midnight waking - if a pattern sets in it'll be really difficult to break. Better to try stuff now.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

My latest spam

Today is June 19th.

I just got a spam telling me "not long till spring - lose weight now".

Are they referring to spring 2004, was the message just severely delayed, or is the spammer just a clueless freaking moron?

Anyhow, I just got an interesting message from Jimmy with a addendum to Josh's Second Law of Cinema. I'm reproducing it here:

I have two words...
Keanu Reeves!

I think you must addend the addendum. Regardless of how much he sucks, sometimes an actor can recover from suckage if that actor/actress possesses enough eye candy between their head and their toes.


Point well taken. I'll call it "Gorbie's correllary to Josh's Second Law".

On another note, I copy/pasted all my previous blog entries dating back to entry #1 (on October 10, 2001). It totalled 94 pages. That's a lot of blogging!

When do actors jump the shark?

After reading a comment by Woodge yesterday, I had a comment for him, which was this:

There is no such thing as a bad on-screen catfight. I think we can call this Josh's First Law of Cinema.

Because even a bad catfight is better than no catfight.

But this led us into a brief discussion about good catfights. Woodge cited "Two Days in the Valley" as a film with a great catfight. We then turned the conversation somehow to Charlize Theron. I commented that she's a better actress than you'd expect out of someone with a twinkie image (and the looks to match).

Woodge than told me she was going to appear in a biopic about executed serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

This is when I realized that her career is over as we know it.

Here's why - and we can call this Josh's Second Law of Cinema:

Eventually, every twinkie actor gets the idea that they are a Serious Actor. When they do, they get one real shot at the role. And it's a no-win situation for them. Even if they fail, they raise expectations. If they succeed, all their future roles will be looked at through the same lens.

Here's two obvious examples:

Jim Carrey. Terrific comic actor, then he made "The Cable Guy". Since then, he's made a biopic about Andy Kaufman, "The Majestic", "The Truman Show", and now "Bruce Almighty". For the most part, he has yet to get his comic groove back.

Mel Gibson. Action hero, sometimes serious. Now he's making a Jesus movie. In Aramaic. His career is over.

So Josh's Second Law of Cinema distills to: Sooner or later, most actors overreach, and their career is very rarely the same or better afterwards.

An addendum: Sometimes an actor gets away with it. Adam Sandler, for instance, appears to have helped his career with "Punch-Drunk Love".

Directing a film doesn't generally count - only acting. An actor may direct an utterly useless film once in a while and it won't hurt them. But a truly horrible film will crush your career like a bug. For those who doubt me, I have two words:

Vincent Gallo.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

As promised...

I've posted a picture update in the usual place. Nearly 100 of them this time, too - in order to make up for the lengthy delay. The pix are predominantly from the birthday party and I got a bunch from the Rockmore trip I mentioned yesterday.

Enjoy!

Monday, June 16, 2003

Fathers' Day recap

I got up at about 5AM for Fathers' Day. It wasn't because of the boy, though - I was going to the MIT Flea with my friend Rob to sell old electronics junk. I did OK - I didn't pile up a lot of cash, but I did get rid of a lot of the stuff I brought - which means I don't have to throw it out or move it to the new house this fall.

I got home from that around 2 - then almost immediately took a nap for a couple of hours. I'm not as young as I used to be, you know.

Once I emerged from my cocoon, Jane took us out for a Fathers' Day treat - we went out on the Rockmore (a floating restaurant on a barge in Salem Harbor) for dinner. The three of us had a lot of fun, the food was good, the bass were biting (on the Rockmore, a fun tradition is to throw bits of food overboard for the stripers - they particularly like bread and french fries), and we got a special treat halfway through the meal. The Coast Guard pulled up in a patrol boat to get dinner - and they let people come on board and tour their patrol boat while they waited for their food. Jane and I took turns going on board (we didn't think bringing David aboard was a good idea), and I took a lot of pictures.

By the way, I will post the long-awaited picture update no later than tomorrow. Keep your eyes peeled.

After we took the launch back to Salem, we drove down to the Willows for ice cream and popcorn (mine and hers, respectively), and took a nice walk around. David went to bed around 9:45 or so after watching his Baby Doolittle video.

Unfortunately, he then gave us a 2:30AM screaming session, but these things happen. Jane was able to settle him down with a bottle, but we have to break him of the "Wakeup+Food=Happy" cycle. It doesn't happen that often, but we need to get him into some other way of settling down when it does happen.

The two of them were sound asleep when I left this morning for work.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Discipline

Or lack thereof. Yes, we're starting to arrive at the point where "no" must be enforced occasionally. Case in point. Ever since he's been crawling, he's shown a disturbing proclivity for making a beeline to our big TV, where he then stands up and tries to bang his hand on the screen. Initially, we humored him (it was good to see him crawl and pull up), but we always tried to discourage him from smacking the tube - usually by distraction.

Last night, though, we started taking it to the next step - actually not letting him at the TV set. I was the villain here - and I did it by blocking his path there and when he did get to it I'd immediately move him away with a "no".

From the tantrum he held, you'd swear I was horse-whipping the poor little bugger if you could have heard him. Unfortunately, once I finally got him to pay attention to something else (a copy of Yankee magazine on the coffee table), he soon toppled over sideways and banged his head on the floor. That, combined with the frustration he was still seething with from earlier put him into a new height of inconsolable screaming that brought Jane downstairs to whisk him away.

Usually, when they fall over you can just ignore them for a few seconds and they quickly distract themselves away from being upset (once they realize there's no audience attention). This time that effort was doomed. Once she got him upstairs he calmed down and happily burbled and scooted until bedtime a short while later.

Boy, did I ever feel like a heel.

Anyhow, this is an interesting developmental phase. He's trying to assert ever-greater amounts of independence, but not quite up to many of the tasks he wants to do. The end result is a frustrated toddler who has plenty of rough spots despite being mainly pleasant most of the time. Diaper changes are a test of patience for all involved, because it means trying to keep him still on his back for the two minutes it takes. Putting an outfit on is rarely done in less than about ten minutes, going out for food is a race against the clock with his attention span, and feedings are a perpetual struggle.

Fortunately, this is a phase. He'll gradually shift over to self-feeding, and that takes a load off of us. Once he's used to his mobility, that'll help us keep him still on occasion, and he's probably just a couple of months (and a few more teeth) more away from eating kids' meals when we go out, which will keep him occupied better.

All in all, it's a fascinating phase to watch. Our helpless, dependent little baby is rapidly becoming a toddler, and is real close to walking (with all the new challenges _that_ brings!). He loves to play with objects, use tools, and we've removed virtually all his baby toys from the house that he started with and have moved on to toddler toys. He actually acknowledges and plays with other kids of comparable ages now - I mentioned his efforts at picking up the little 16-month old at Flynnie's last week, and I think I mentioned in an earlier posting that he had a great time the night before his birthday party chasing my friend Flip's daughter Lindsay around the floor at their hotel. He actually plays with Gracie (the cat) now - he pats her gently when he catches up to her and loves cuddling with her as often as he can. They chase each other around the house for fun.

Basically, our little baby is a person now - and we're just seeing some growing pains that go along with that. It's still a blast, though.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

My music purchasing habits

So far in calendar year 2003, I have purchased 3 compact discs. They were, in order:

Lyle Lovett, Smile - an album of his movie songs. I'd like to see some new original stuff from him, but that'll have to do for now. I bought it on April 16th from Amazon, and it was the first album I bought this year.

Dar Williams, The beauty of the rain - Terrific disc from an underrated singer-songwriter. I bought it at Newbury Comics a week ago.

Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - An album I decided to buy when I walked in to buy Dar Williams' album and saw it on sale for $9.99. It was worth it.

So far this year, I've spent about $35 between all three albums.

Meanwhile, Apple's iTunes Music Store has been open for just about a month. I didn't purchase anything from them until after my broadband service was back up and running - so that's since about May 30th. Since then, I've bought an album and two singles:

Suzanne Vega, Retrospective: The Best of Suzanne Vega - The CD costs $13.49 at Amazon. I paid $9.95 for the download version, which arrived in about 6 minutes.

Then I bought two singles - Coldplay's Clocks (Ever since I heard it used for a Kurt Angle video tribute package the song has stuck in my head), and Lucinda Williams' Righteously.

Had Dar Williams' album been available via the iTMS (it's on an indy label and Apple doesn't have any of them signed up yet), I would have bought it in download form, too. I only use CD's for ripping to MP3 (now I rip to AAC, though, because it's smaller and sounds just as good) and playing in my car - and now that I have the iTrip working well I don't really need to use my car's CD player, either.

Basically, what I'm thinking in my case is that as long as I have broadband, CD purchases are pretty much a thing of the past. But I'll still buy some music - it's just going to be downloaded instead.

Will I occasionally still snarf a tune off Gnutella or Kazaa? Sure I will - but only if I want a single song and can't find it on iTMS. As much as I hate the RIAA, I still prefer to buy my music legally.

And by the way - I used to buy a lot more music in my younger days. Unfortunately, there's been a dearth of interesting music to buy in the last few years. Sales to me have not dropped due to piracy, they've dropped because of suckage.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I'm not a "car guy", really.

Cars have always been a strictly utilitarian interest for me. I buy a car, I use a car, I wear out a car, I buy another car. It needs to be reasonably comfortable and meet my technical criteria for what a car should deliver.

Currently I have a Chevy Venture minivan that I picked up this winter. It has AWD, a high roof (I need headroom because of my height), and sufficient space for the car seat and up to four other passengers in the rear, or enough storage to take a long trip with a full load of gear. Before that I owned my one "luxury" vehicle, an '02 Olds Bravada that I reluctantly parted with because it was a poor fit for childhauling. Until then, my cars had all been either lower-end sedans or (immediately before the Olds) a middle-of-the-line truck.

However, I now actually lust after a vehicle for the first time ever. I've seen a bunch of them on the road (unless it's just owned by one guy who coincidentally drives many of the same places I do at the same times), it's gotten great reviews, and it costs so much that I will never buy one - though it's a far better buy than it's nearest competitor.

The Infiniti FX45. That car/truck/whatever it is happens to be, in my opinion, the most spectacularly designed vehicle I've ever seen. After all the buzz for years about the Porsche Cayenne that's finally arriving here (the aforementioned nearest competitor) now, the FX45 is the same concept, executed far better, and with far better looks at a much lower price. Drool slobber drool.

Don't worry, folks - I am not even considering the purchase of one. Before we buy any new car we need to:

- Finish the house sale/purchase we're doing and come out ahead (it would be very nice to pocket a few dollars after everything is done).

- Buy a new iMac this fall.

- Wear out either of the cars we have now (Jane's is closer, but it's still a ways off).

And, more importantly, before we'd consider a new car that was an FX45, we'd have to:

- Hit the lottery!

And that ain't happening anytime soon that I can think of...

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Now that I figured it out

Since I figured out how to change frequencies the right way with my iTrip, it's awesome. The default 87.9 frequency works horribly, though - mine seems to behave much better at 89.3 so far. It doesn't have much impact on battery life, which has been very good on my iPod since I bought it back in October. Keep the battery topped off and runtimes tend to be 8+ hours.

I'm working on an anti-spam gateway at work this week, with the hope that I can finish it and have it in place by the weekend. We're also moving our in-house agency off the LAN and onto a separate segment so they don't have to play by the whole enterprise-wide "Standard Platform" rules - there's only a couple of computers down there and they run software that we know won't work in the new environment. So it's better to spin them out.

I met Jane and The Boy for lunch downtown today (the weather's so great that I walked to work, and she needed to clear out for a realtor's open house). Unfortunately, he knows another word now, and it's "no". He's getting progressively more stong-willed on a daily basis.

Sunday was fun. We did lunch again that day (another open house) at Flynnie's in Marblehead. David behaved very well, but there was another couple there behind us with a 16-month old girl - and she was being very difficult for them. So David turned around in his high chair and started babbling to her.

And she babbled back. They had a great conversation for quite a while - and I think he got her phone number to boot. That kid of mine's a player. Big time.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Tonight's notes

I took the boy grocery shopping with me tonight, to give Jane a little break from him. He enjoyed the experience and was very well behaved.

Then, after dinner, I watched SmackDown. Two thoughts related to the show: first off, they ran a very tasteful and well-done video tribute to the late "Classy" Freddie Blassie, who passed away Monday at the age of 85. He was truly an original. The other thing I took out of tonight's show is that Kurt Angle absolutely rules. If his surgically repaired neck holds out a few more years, he could well go down as the best ever in the business. He's getting a massive face pop on his return, which should be a little different (he's almost always been a heel).

I also figured out why my iTrip wasn't performing in the car the way I expected - my antenna was loose. Oops. I tightened it down with a plier and now the signal is much better.

Updates, updates, updates...

First, myself. Myself has a sinus infection at the moment, and just began taking drugs for it yesterday. Other than that and occasional lack of sleep, all is OK.

The boy, on the other hand, is finally recovering from his cold - it wasn't bad but it really lingered on him. But he's improved a lot in the last couple of days. He was somewhat prone to upchucking during this cold, but that's eased up, too. And he's mostly been able to sleep nights again - last night, though, he didn't go to sleep until almost 10, then he was up at 4:30 and after more food he was back down until after 9. Hmm.

Though Speakeasy (who I am still bitter at) missed the deadline I'd imposed to bring the service back up, they did at least communicate to me what was going on and what action was being taken and when. The service came back up early the following morning. After watching it work for a while, I cancelled the Comcast installation for the time being.

I also may ditch my Blackberry in favor of a Danger Hiptop at some point. I need a little more info on GPRS coverage in the area first.

We've had a few nibbles at our house now, but no buyers yet. That will hopefully change before the end of June - otherwise I'll start worrying a little. I'd really rather not pay two mortgages if I can help it, know what I mean?

Finally, I bought my first iTunes Music Store song this week (Lucinda Willams' Righteously). It could get addictive if I'm not careful.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Sleepless nights

For the last few days the boy has been having trouble sleeping - he's woken up around 5 or so pretty consistently and he's been a handful until fed or generally paid attention to afterward.

Of course, Jane's been sharing the joy - after she takes care of him she brings him into our bedroom so he can jump on me. Yippee!

He and I also have matching sinus infections at the moment. I'm going to the doc tomorrow to get looked at, but he was determined to be OK when he went last week. If it doesn't clear the rest of the way out on him we'll take him back in a day or so. Mine's really lingering.

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