Imablog Perspectives of a Canadian in the Old/Deep/New/Geographic South: This is where I ramble on about nothing in particular and post a few nice pictures.

Posts from Miscellaneous babble

My first blog entry

Well, this is my first public blog entry. I've decided to hop on the blog bandwagon and see what the view is like. I'm normally not a very public person, and try to keep most of the things I do pretty low key, so this will be a bit of a departure for me.

Occasionally I'll post significant happenings on my web page, which I guess could be considered a rarely updated blog. Maybe once I get more into this blogging thing, I'll get around to updating my website more often. I don't expect there will be a great deal of activity here at first, so be patient. Plus I'm still learning how this software works.

Stay tuned...

New airport passenger x-ray screeners

An Associated Press article in today's Post and Courier grabbed my interest today. It's about a new airport passenger screening device that uses scattered x-rays to detect weapons and explosives.

AFAIK, many states prohibit the use of radiation on people unless it's for medical purposes. I'm sure that someone will manage to get an exception for these types of machines given time. There are still ethical issues with exposing masses of people to radiation, no matter how low the dose. Most people are paranoid enough about radiation (mostly because of lack of knowledge). Now the TSA wants to unecessarily irradiating hundres of thousands of people with low, but not trivial radiation doses just to get on an airplane?

I smell much controversy coming up if the TSA gets their way with these units.

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Birthday to Canada! Living in the US for the past 7 years, I've missed the Canada Day celebrations. Canadians aren't really known for being overly expressive in their patriotism and we're not big flag wavers like Americans are. But on July 1st of each year, everybody who admits to being Canadian does so proudly and loudly. And usually with much beer and partying.

On the move

Well, we've finally decided to take the plunge and make the move to Raleigh, NC. It meant turning down a very tempting offer to stay, but I think in the long run everything will work out. Moving is always a pain in the butt, but I'm looking forward to being up there once we get settled in.

Doing good things

Today I made my 46th blood donation. Maybe 48th, could be 50th. The number is a little fuzzy because I've forgotten how many donations I made while I was back home in Canada. I'm pretty sure it was 34. I remember being pretty close to getting the pin for 35 donations.

I've been a regular blood donor since about 1989 or so, with the exception of the three years I lived in Detroit. That was just because there wasn't a conveniently located donor center that I could find.

I go every 8 weeks (6x a year) and donate a pint of my AB+ blood. The people at the donor clinic love me because I'm AB+ and I have large veins. It gives me a good feeling to know that I'm helping someone out. And I get pop and cookies in return. Doesn't get much better than that if you ask me.

Have you donated blood recently? at all? If not, why not? you really should. What have you got to lose except a pint of blood that can be used by someone else?

Summer storm season

It's summer, which means hot humid weather, lazy days trying to stay cool and plenty of sunshine. Summer also means it's hurricane season. So, while I'm out enjoying the summer weather and hanging out at the beach, I'm also keeping an eye on the weather (along with everyone else). Fortunately with hurricanes you always get a lot of advance notice, so there's plenty of time to prepare.

I've been pretty lucky so far in the 4 years I've been here. The closest I've come to encuontering a hurricane was Hurricane Floyd in 1999. That one caused some major traffic snarls when the decision was made to call for an evacuation. Luckily I was already headed out of town anyway, so I was already on the road and missed all the traffic jams.

Moving

I hate moving. I've made 3 moves so far in my life, and i'm starting to get ready for my 4th. And each time, there's more and more Stuff to move. That's the nature of Stuff I suppose. It grows to expand your available space. Some Stuff is useful. Other Stuff just becomes Junk. And since I'm a bit of a packrat, some of my Stuff that should be Junk just ends up sticking around.

So now I'm in the middle of collecting boxes to put my Stuff into. Some of the Stuff will become Junk, and end up getting tossed. The rest will remain Stuff and will get packed away. Someone's supposed to be stopping by to look at my Stuff and give me an estimate on how much it will cost to move it. Sometimes, I think I should just get rid of all my Stuff and start over.

Then I have to see about making all the address changes. There are a good deal of them, and inevitably, I'll forget one or two of them. Thank goodness for mail forwarding.

Also have to get my car checked out and make sure it will survive the trip to my new home. Been having some cooling issues with it lately, and don't want it dying on the road in the middle of my trip.

Staying put

Well, turns out we won't be moving after all, and I won't be working at Duke this fall. The wife has been having such a good experience in the research lab she's in and seems to be clicking well with her mentor, so she's decided she wants to stick around. I suppose it's just as well. She's already established some connections with people here, and she thinks getting into med school here will be a little easier than in NC, even though there's more of a choice there.

So now I have to come up with a way of breaking the unfortunate news to my would-have-been colleagues up at Duke. My friend Ehsan will be disappointed. I'm a little disappointed. I was looking forward to taking on some new challenges at Duke, but it's not like I had my heart set on it. I'd have been happy in either place. The important thing is seeing that the wife gets to pursue her goals. I'm sure everything will work out nicely in the end.

New tunes

Added a couple of CDs to my collection today. As a Canadian, I'm naturally a fan of The Tragically Hip. I happened to be browsing around the local Cat's Music waiting for the barber shop to open, and found Road Apples and Fully Completely in their 'Dog Pound' (used CDs) section. The price was right, ($6.50/CD), so i just had to grab them.

Ahhh, decent music for a change...

Construction noise

The CT scanner below my office was removed a couple of weeks ago, and now they're doing renovations on the room getting it ready for a new CT scanner. A few days ago they were doing some drilling through cement or something. Now it's some kind of repetitive hammering noise. Floor work or something perhaps. I don't know what they're doing down there, but it's loud and rattling my brain.

I think I shall be leaving work early today so I can escape this racket.

174 000 miles

Made it to 174 000 miles on my 1991 Accord today. That means I've owned this car for 40 000 miles and just over 4 years. Car's holding up pretty well, aside from some body problems. Nowadays it doesn't get driven around nearly as much as when I first got it. Having to do a few major repairs every now and then, but that's to be expected as parts wear out. Eventually I'll have to replace it, but hopefully I'll be able to squeeze another 40 000 miles out of the car. I want to see this puppy roll over to 200 000 miles.

Classic movies

Last night on TCM, the wife and I were watching Grand Hotel. Apparently it was Greta Garbo day on TCM, but the wife just wanted to see who John Barrymore was.

It was an interesting movie about the lives of people living in a posh Berlin hotel. We both enjoyed the movie, but Casablanca still remains my all time favourite. Anything with Audrey Hepburn comes in a close second.

Time off

MCAT's over, and now the wife is relaxing before school starts on the 26th. Taking the rest of the week off and heading off to her parents' place to relax and veg out. They have a nice relatively secluded compound where we usually go at least once a month or so, depending on her schedule. The downside is that we usually end up doing all the cooking for everyone while we're there. But it's all right. We use them as guinea pigs for recipes we want to try out :)

Still Smoked

The chicken wasn't the only thing that got smoked last week. After 4 days and as many hair washings, my hair still smells like BBQ smoke. When the wind blows from behind me, I smell BBQ and get hungry.

One of those days

It was one of those days where you're trying to get something done that people are asking for yesterday, but you keep getting interrupted by people doing things that should have been done weeks ago. So, a task that probably should have taken 4 hours or so gets started late, and ends up taking about 6 hours to finish. Ugh.

7 donations?

A few weeks ago, the people that run the blood donor room at work held a little party to celebrate and thank people that donated blood over the past year. I got a small award for having 6 donations, which I thought was the most anyone could donate in a year.

So, much to my surprise, they were also honouring a small group who managed to squeeze in a 7th donation. Kudos to them, but I'm still trying to figure out how they got in a 7th donation. Donating every 8 weeks, the math says that 6 is as many as you can squeeze into a calendar year. Maybe their 'year' is longer than everyone elses...

Anyway, go donate blood and help someone out after you finish reading this.

That spider

Well, after a little bit of Google searching, I managed to figure out what that spider was.

First I started at the International Society for Arachnology page. The web was kind of orb-ish, so I clicked on the Orb web spiders page. Lo and behold, there was a picture of the spider, Argiope aurantia. This spider apparently goes by several aliases: Yellow Garden Spider, Black-And-Yellow Argiope, Golden Orb Weaver, Yellow Argiope, Writing Spider, Golden Garden Spider. According to this page, the spider should be mostly harmless. Sure doesn't look it.

So there you are. Yet another illustration of the power of the Internet :).

New book

Just bought the new Terry Goodkind book, Naked Empire. Book 8 of the Sword of Truth series. Looking forward to giving this one a read.

Lazy Sundays, Rainy Sundays

Spent a lazy sunday afternoon watching another one of my favourite Audrey Hepburn movies, Roman Holiday. I like these lazy afternoons. I've got an Excel programming project I really should be working on, but nothing beats a good Audrey Hepburn movie.

It's been a pretty rainy weekend, because of Tropical Depression Henri. But at least it's been nice and relatively cool. In a few more days, we'll see what Hurricane Irene has in store for the area.

What were you doing September 11, 2001?

September 11, 2001. It's one of those infamous days in human history where just about everyone can tell you exactly what they were doing when it happened or when they heard the news. Just like the Challenger disaster (January 28, 1986), or Columbia (February 1, 2003), or JFK (November 22, 1963). I wasn't around for JFK though.

I remember vividly what I was doing that day. It started off as a normal routine day, as it probably would have for anyone else. I had a couple of bone density units to survey that morning. I recall walking around the department, making my daily rounds. As I was finishing up, I happened to walk by one of the waiting rooms where for some reason everyone was clustered around the TV. It was a news report about how a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. My first thoughts were "Holy crap. Bad bad accident".

It wasn't a terrorist event yet. Just a tragic accident, a plane gone out of control and hitting the WTC. Went back down to my office to grab my equipment to start my surveys. Sent my wife a text message to her cell phone saying a plane had crashed into the WTC. She was in class at the time, but being from NYC I knew she'd want to hear about it. Then headed back up to Ultrasound where the bone density unit was.

There were even more people clustered around the TV now, and more events had unfolded. I remember telling the bone density tech asking me what was going on. Told her about the plane crashing into the WTC. Everyone was glued to the TV, but I had work to get done, so I set up the scanner. While I was waiting for it to start up, the news came that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. It was certainly shaping up to be a very odd day. What are the chances that two planes would crash into buildings on the same day...the same morning even.

Then, while I was testing, reports of the second plane hitting the other WTC tower were broadcast, and I started thinking that these were no accidents. After I finished, I went back down to my office, unloaded my stuff and went back upstairs to the TV. Watched the news for a little while longer and then headed off to see what other people were saying.

I didn't see the towers collapse until I saw the news after I got home. Everyone was buzzing that day. I don't remember what happened with the rest of my afternoon. I think I spent it talking with other people about what happened. All the news sites on the web were slow, or not responding, so there wasn't any info there.

My wife took the rest of the day off after she received my message. The rest of our evening was spent glued to various news stations watching the aftermath of the disaster. For several days after, the news was about all we watched. There was much speculation about who was behind the attack and why. The rest I guess is history.

Getting ready

I figure by the end of the weekend, we should have a pretty good idea if Hurricane Isabel will be a problem or not. So this evening, my wife and I decided to avoid the rush and start assembling our hurricane kit. I think a lot of other people had the same idea, but earlier. The Walmart down the road was cleaned out of water, D batteries, and mostly cleaned out of flashlights. But we managed to get most of the things on our list (except water and D batteries).

Next, back up the road to the grocery store before they closed. They had all the food items we were after, but they were pretty much cleaned out of water too. One of the employees told us "They were even grabbing the expensive stuff", but that they would be getting some more in the morning. At least they still had some D batteries in stock.

Eye Exams

I have to touch type this because I can barely see what's on my monitor, so forgive the typos. Had my routine eye exam today. I usually go see my optometrist every other year. Getting my pupils dilated for eye exams always remind me just how useful my irises are at making the outside world viewable. There's nothing like sitting in the exam room with all the lights dimmed, and then walking out to have your eyes seared out of your head by the noonday sun. It's like someone cranked up the wattage of the sun or something. Now I know how Gollum felt about having to roam around with those hobbits during the daylight.

No, really, that's not me.

My friends at work have decided the US Army Muslim chaplain that was arrested over the weekend looks like me. I don't really see it, but I guess I'm under arrest now at the Naval Brig in Charleston, SC.

At least I'm not far from home.

Slow news week

It's been quiet lately. One of those slow news weeks where nothing notable really happens. I like these periods. Gives me some time to unwind and focus on other things.

Finally finished Naked Empire by Terry Goodkind. The 8th book in that epic Sword of Truth series. I thought this book was better than the last one. I think it wrapped up nicely, and seems to be starting to set the stage for the endgame. Now I have to go back and re-read the series again.

The last few books (6, 7 and 8) in the series have been rather interesting. The more I think about them, the more they seem like a philosophical treatise on the nature of people, free will and the morality of the choices people make, disguised as a fantasy novel. Perhaps this is what the author is trying to do. Some of it is very thought provoking. I'll have to read the series all over again to try to collect them all in my head for further analysis.

In the meantime, I leave you with Wolf_Gal's collection of the Wizard's Rules from the Sword of Truth Series.

Wizard's First Rule: People are stupid.
Wizard's Second Rule: The greatest harm can result from the best intentions.
Wizard's Third Rule: Passion rules reason.
Wizard's Fourth Rule: There is magic in sincere forgiveness.
Wizard's Fifth Rule: Mind what people do, not only what they say, for deeds will betray a lie.
Wizard's Sixth Rule: The only soverign we can allow to rule us is reason.
Wizard's Seventh Rule: Life is the future, not the past.

And from the latest book,
Wizard's Eighth Rule: Deserve victory

Autumn's here

Yesterday was the autumnal equinox. Soon, the weather will be cooling down, and leaves are supposed to be turning colour. Around here though, the weather changes from really really hot to just hot. And leaves don't turn colour. The live oaks and palm trees stay green, and all the other trees just turn brown and drop their leaves. No brilliant display of colour, no brisk chill in the air. None of what I'm used to. Aside from the weather cooling down enough to make going outside enjoyable again, fall around here is a pretty dull season (hurricane excitement notwithstanding).

I miss having different seasons.

Bones, bones, bones

I have a skeleton.

No, not the one inside my body holding me up and not the ones in my closet either. It's one of those display skeletons you might find in your doctor's office, or an anatomy lab. It's not one of those cheesy plastic ones either. This is an actual skeleton, with real bones.

I was walking through our department mail area, and there it was propped up next to the photocopier with a sign saying "I'm headless and homeless. Find me a home".

It's not in the greatest shape, and it's definitely seen better days. It's been decapitated. The arms have been lopped off and the legs have been amputated below the knees. So I guess it's just a torso with dangly bits. Some of the nuts, bolts and springs holding the joints together are missing or damaged, so some of the bones bend quite unnaturally. But aside from that, it's largely intact.

I think it'll make an interesting decoration for my office, once I find a place for it. Unless of course my wife decides to nab it so she can review her anatomy.

Vocabulary differences.

I'm Canadian, my wife is American. I'm from the West, she's from the East. So naturally, each of us has a different vocabulary set. There are a few items that I call one thing, and her by another.

Monday for example, we were at Office Depot to get a laser pointer for a presentation she was doing. At the last minute, she remembered she needed something called postal tape. She tells me to go get the postal tape. So I head off and then realize that I have no idea what postal tape is.

Me (staring blankly): Huh?
Her: Postal tape!
Me: Postal tape? What the heck is this postal tape you're talking about?
Her: That clear tape you use for packages!
Me (understanding finally dawns on my face): Oh, packing tape!

The same thing happens when I try to tell her what the temperature is outside or give her anything in metric units. She just stares at me blankly until I break down and work out the conversion in my head.

She occasionally pokes fun at some of my Canadian pronunciation. I occasionally mock her accent, which she occasionally slips into when she gets excited or is talking to friends from back home.

Pop vs soda, postal vs packing tape, C vs F, zed vs zee. Yes, we're different. And that's probably the way it will stay.

Strange Dreams

In most of my dreams, I'm watching myself doing something. Last night I had a peculiar dream where I was making soup. There I am, standing at the stove stirring a pot of soup. I decided it needed some pepper, so I sprinkled some in. Then I looked over at our new pepper grinder, and decided the soup needed more pepper. So I grabbed it, and have it a few twists. Grind grind grind. Then grind grind grind some more. Eventually after some indeterminate grinding time, I looked in and saw the top of the soup pot covered in pepper. Then I woke up.

There really didn't seem to be any point to the dream. Just pepper and soup.

New eyes

Picked up my new glasses yesterday. The new glasses are amazingly light compared to my old pair, which were even lighter than the ones before that. My new glasses are Easyclip titanium frames with these nifty little magnets designed to hold some clip-on sunglasses. The sunglasses just stick to the magnets, so no fumling around to slide them on, or prongs poking me in the nose. The lenses are high index glass with UV, anti-reflection (AR is a must-have) and anti-scratch coatings.

Over the years, my wife has been slowly migrating my glasses to smaller and smaller sizes, which runs counter to my preference for larger frames that preserve my peripheral vision (which now falls outside of my glasses). The smaller frames look more stylish, but now I'm limited to just detecting large blurry moving objects with my peripheral vision.

One of these days, I'll have to talk to my optometrist about maybe getting some LASIK or some other laser surgery done on my eyes. My glasses are pretty pricy at $450 a pop. If laser surgery can improve my vision so I don't need as strong a prescription, I'll be happy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

That turkey yesterday was soooo good...

On the other hand, seems that our desire for big plump turkeys means we need to help them out a little to keep making big turkeys.

Matrix: Revolutions on IMAX!

Just learned that the Charleston IMAX theater is going to be one of the IMAX theaters showing Matrix: Revolutions on November 5. The first Hollywood film to be released concurrently in regular and IMAX formats. Woohoo! This is going to be so cool! Can't wait to go see it!

Textbook pricing

Well, seems pharmaceuticals aren't the only thing that's cheaper to re-import into the US, rather than buying them domestically.

There's an article at the New York Times (registration required) and discussion over at Slashdot about how a lot of textbooks can be bought for significantly cheaper from overseas markets than locally. Textbooks from Amazon UK can be as much as half the cost of the same textbook purhased from Amazon US.

Apparently, this is starting to cause textbook publishers quite a bit of consternation, which is about time. I've always thought textbook prices were outrageous. One of the most expensive textbooks (on a price/page basis) I ever bought was was a skinny little 8x4 textbook on classical mechanics, probably less than 200 pages. The book cost me about $100Cdn at the time (maybe about 10 years ago). I remember textbooks being a significant portion of my education expense during my undergrad year, and that was 10 years ago!. I wasn't unusual for me to spend $400/semester on textbooks. With my wife back in school, textbook expenses are about the same, but she's taking fewer classes than I did and most of the books we buy are used, from places like Amazon Marketplace and Classbook.com to name a few. If we bought them all new, I'm sure we'd be close to the $600/semester mark. Now that I know about this overseas thing, it'll be one more source to check out at textbook shopping time.

Healthcare redux

The other day, I was listening to a news story about how there are more people in healthcare working in billing and administration than there are doctors and nurses combined. And for the most part, largely brought on by managed care, the HMOs. So much for the premise that they were supposed to be saving money and reducing health care costs. Imagine that, there are more people working to figure out how much to charge you for your hospital stay than there are people taking care of you while you're in the hospital.

Actually, after having worked in US hospitals for the past few years, it's not all that hard to imagine. I noticed shortly after moving to the US that healthcare was definitely much more business oriented than it is in Canada. One of the first things I noted was that I saw a lot more administrative and non-patient care people than I did doctors, nurses or techs while I was walking along the corridors.

Healthcare billing is big business. There are companies that don't do anything except handle billing and coding for doctors' offices and hospitals. There are graduate programs in medical billing. The CPT code books are thicker than most unabridged dictionaries.

And the billing process is convoluted. I haven't seen the entire billing process from start to finish, but this is what I've encountered of it. After the doctor sees you, he might check off a few diagnosis codes on a form. Then there might be a dictated report, which is listened to and transcribed by a transcriptionist. From the form and transcripted report, a CPT coder (hopefully a properly trained and certified one) will select the appropriate codes to be billed for, which would then be sent to the billing group (internally or external). So between the doctor and your bill, there are several layers of people (at least 3) with minimal medical training deciding how much it's going to cost you.

Where am I going with this? Oh, nowhere in particular. Just that getting sick in the US is expensive, and staying healthy in the US is almost as expensive.

UPDATE: And to top it off, who knows where your medical records end up. An article in SFGate (via slashdot) talks about how dictated reports from UCSF Medical Center ended up in a transcriptionist's hands in Pakistan, apparently through several levels of subcontracted transcription services. So hospitals contract out transcription services to a company, who in turn subcontracts out excess work, which gets subcontracted out to some other company, ad infinitum.

Oh, the insanity...

Dammit Jim, I'm a physicist, not a programmer!

Somewhere in the back of my head, I've been pondering the idea of learning how to write some image processing routines. It's one of those things that I think about every now and then. I've always wanted to write some image reconstruction routines to do some filtered backprojection. Sure, I could probably find some library routines out there that do it already, but you always learn more about a subject when you do it yourself. I'm already familiar with the concept, and it's not all that difficult. I can use my FORTRAN again! Or maybe I could do something cool on the web! Then I also think about learning how to do other image processing algorithms, like filtering, warping, mapping, transforms. I could do all sorts of cool things to images that I acquire for some of my research.

Other projects come to mind, then I remember all the half finished projects that I've got sitting on the backburner waiting for me to get back to them. I'm still trying to learn enough about Visual Basic and using ADO to get my spreadsheets and databases interacting with each other. And then there are the web pages for work I'm maintaining, the web interfaces for my databases that I want to rework, the research projects to do, etc etc.

When I have some spare moments, I'll sit down and work on some of the programming related projects on my list. Then after working on them for a few days, I remember just how much I hate programming. I really do. I mean, it's something I can do, and I've had plenty of exposure to different programming languages: Applesoft BASIC, Fortran, C, Objective C, a touch of Pascal, and more recently PHP. Maybe it's just because I'm not proficient enough at programming. I haven't had much in the way of formal programming courses other than two Fortran courses during my undergrad. Most of my programming knowledge I've acquired as I needed it. Most of the programs I end up writing are usually functional, but hardly pretty or elegant. So after a while of pondering how to write something, I'll get tired and put it away again. Occasionally I'll get a flash of insight on how to accomplish some task. That's always a good feeling.

But, I've decided I just don't like programming, and any programming I have to do is just a necessary evil. As long as my programs spit out the right results, I'm happy.

Games kids play

This article is just way too funny. They've taken a bunch of 10-13 year old kids, and plopped them in front of the video games we used to play as kids (Pong, Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong, some of those hand-held games etc) and get their reactions. Some of those reactions are pretty funny to read

Man, I feel old now.

Found at Mighty Geek

Serendipity Rules

I've come to the realization that serendipity ([definition: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for] from Merriam-Webster) rules my life. Things happen to me. Things happen to everybody. That's what life is all about...getting things to happen to you.

There isn't a lot that happens to me, but I've noticed that most of the things that do happen usually tend to be good things. I'm always stumbling onto a lot of things. Most of the time blindly, sometimes while doing or looking for other things. But always unexpected. Usually it turns out the a good thing. Not always, but mostly. Maybe I have a lot of good karma built up from a previous life or something. Maybe I've just blocked out the bad things so I don't remember them anymore. Whatever the case, I just seem to remember a lot more good things than bad things happening to me.

Today for example, I happened to be heading down to the cafeteria for lunch. Every year, the MUSC cafeteria people have a pumpkin carving contest. They supply the pumpkins, and people from all over the hospital pick one up and make some kind of neat and clever carved pumpkin. The day before Halloween, they get displayed in the hallway outside the cafeteria. It's always an entertaining event. Anyway, back to the story.

I was checking out the pumpkins, along with all the other people destined for the cafeteria to get some grub. I thought to myself, "Self, you have your camera here. It might be cool to get some piictures of the more interesting pumpkins.". So I turned around and asked one of the cafeteria managers, who just happened to be standing behind me, if it would be ok to take some pictures. "Sure," he said, "in fact, do you have a pumpkin entered?" I told him I did not, and he said "Come with me."

I followed him into his office, where he handed me a meal ticket, a clipboard with a form on it, and asked if I wanted to judge the pumpkins. "Cool" I said. So he explained the judging process to me and off I went. Judging was simple. Only two criteria, originality and creativity, scored out of 5. As usual, there were a lot of good pumpkins around. Some were pretty ordinary, others were more elaborate. So I judged, and then went to get lunch with my meal ticket. And all for asking if I could take some pictures.

There are others. The way I met my wife, the summer job I got during undergrad that led me onto my current career path and the job I got after I finished my master's degree are probably the most recent significant events. Maybe I'll write about them in future entries. It's not always big good things happening to me. Those happen very rarely. Mostly it's little good things, like today. And those are the things I enjoy most.

I've always been a firm believer that whatever happens to me, good or bad, things will all work out in the end. And you know what, they almost always do. At least for me anyway.

[UPDATE]: If you want to see the pumpkins, head on over to the gallery and have a look.

Music by REM

Added the new REM cd, In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 (Special Edition) to my collection yesterday. I decided to go with the 2 disc set with the rarities and B-sides CD. It was just something I had to have. So far it's excellent. It's a pretty definitive collection of some of their best songs. I would have added a few others, but at 76 minutes on the main CD, it's already got plenty to listen to. If you're an REM fan, I heartily recommend getting the Special Edition, mostly for the 2nd CD. Chances are you've already got most of the CDs that the music on the 1st CD comes from.

I was also tempted to add the new Tragically Hip CD, but I decided I ought to save it for another day. Besides, $19 seemed a little much to pay for a CD.

Sadly, my wife is none too fond of REM for some reason, so I'm relegated to listening to their music at work, in my car or when she's not home. She says I'm lucky she didn't know that I was an REM fan when we first met, otherwise she might not have looked upon me with as much favour. I guess some things are just better left in the closet.

How good is this site?

This site is certified 66% GOOD by the Gematriculator

The Gematriculator. I'm not entirely sure what to make of this site, or this Gematria thing. You submit a passage or URL, and it analyzes the words to determine how good or evil it is. Interesting...

Found at Cynical Tyrant

What are these people looking for?

Browsing through my MT activity log, I notice some people searching my blog for some unusual items. Here's a small selection of some of the search words being entered.

dragonball
gundam (what's a gundam?)
jawn
milkshake
bling bling
grundy puffs
cheese monkey (huh?)
sphyncter (sic)
godzilla
neng
clitoris

Leaves me wondering what it was these people are looking for here, and how the heck they got the impression that it could be found here?

of course, now that I've listed all these words, it should only be a matter of time before my blog starts showing up on search engines, which will lead to more people coming here searching for strange things that will only show up here because I've posted about people searching for strange things.

On another note, MT-Blacklist seems to be working as expected weeding out comment spam here. I probably don't get nearly as much as other more visited sites, but it has blocked 4 attempts since I installed it about a week ago. Hooray!

Eudora 6.0's new SpamWatch and POPFile are also cutting down significantly the amount of spam my eyeballs get subjected to.

What are people doing here?

My 'People Visited From' block (courtesy VisitorLocation) has been up for a little while now showing where the last 6 or 7 people have surfed in from since the last rebuild. Some of them are from pretty far away places: Australia, Iran, Peru, The Netherlands. Most are from the US. So it makes me wonder...how do people make their way here? How did they find this little blog of mine and what are they looking for that brings them here? I see a lot of Google and Yahoo! referrals in the logs. What do they think of what they find here? Not many of them leave comments, so they're all just silent visitors.

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