Thursday, December 30, 2004

New Year's Resolutions

I don't like to make resolutions for the new year. The first of the year seems like an odd time to resolve to do things differently for the entire year. I don't know how many times I've sworn to change some aspect of my behavior only to forget about it days or weeks into the year.

This year I'm going to yield to my human imperfection and make weekly resolutions. Thus, if I can change my behavior for the first week, maybe I can do it for the next week, and the week after that and so forth. Here then are my three resolutions for the week beginning Sunday, January 2nd through Saturday, January 8th:
  1. Smile at least 1 minute every waking hour. (I'm starting off with an easy one since I'm always smiling anyway.) I read somewhere that it take less muscles to smile than to frown and I figure who needs a muscle strain!
  2. Don't procrastinate. If something needs to be done now, just do it! (Hmmm, I wonder if I can trademark that phrase?)
  3. Get a haircut. (Another easy one, but I'm trying to build momentum.)

I'm really going to make these resolutiuons work this coming week. Happy New Year everyone!

Resolution update: I got my haircut Friday!

Monday, December 27, 2004

The power of the Internet

I recently received a first-hand illustration of the power of the Internet. My first girlfriend from 30+ years ago found me using a simple Internet search tool!

Now how cool is that!?

I began this weblog in October. With it, my Google "ranking" increased from who-knows-where to #2. She "Googled" my name and, from the description on my weblog, thought it might be me and sent me an e-mail. That was almost two weeks ago and we've been corresponding trying to catch up on each other's lives.

For all the negatives related to the Internet (Spam, spyware, viruses and so forth), I've found another positive.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas thoughts

I like choral music at Christmastime. I like it anytime, really, but especially at Christmas. My mom was the church choir organist so my job as a little boy was to turn pages for her during the Christmas Eve midnight mass service. I guess when that's one of your earliest Christmas memories it stays with you forever. I like the sound of a well-tuned choir with the various voices blending together to create glorious music.

I have about a 30-minute drive to work and listen to WFMT, the Chicago classical music station, in the morning. This week they've been playing all of the classical Christmas music. It puts a person in a nice, reflective mood when starting the day.

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer has its place too, but I prefer choral music especially on Christmas night.

Happy holidays everyone.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Celebrate Festivus

December 23rd is Festivus and a "Happy Festivus" to those who celebrate this holiday...not that there's anything wrong with that!

I checked my local Hallmark store for Festivus cards to send to my friends and co-workers. They must have been sold out because I didn't see any!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Coffee table books

I saw a CNN article today for coffee table book gift suggestions. That got me to wonder if anyone still has a coffee table.

We have a table in our living room, but it only gets used Christmas morning and maybe another day or two during the year. We have a table in our family room and it does hold my coffee mug Sunday mornings when I'm laying on the couch reading the newspaper. Other than that, it holds Coke cans, wine glasses, candles, my son's Gameboy and remote controls. In fact, it's more of a remote control table than anything else. Our TV has a remote, our digital cable has a remote, our VCR has a remote, our Surround Sound receiver has a remote, our DVD player has a remote and even our satellite receiver has a remote (even though we cancelled DirecTV a few months ago). I won't be a bit surprised that someday our remotes will have a remote!

I know coffee table books are there to impress guests -- as if I'm going to visit friends and look at a book! When Madonna has a coffee table book, then I know the trend has gone too far!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Favorite holiday movies

Last week I mentioned that Christmas in Connecticut was one of my favorite holiday movies. Here's my Top Five (in no particular order):
  1. It's A Wonderful Life
  2. Holiday Inn
  3. White Christmas
  4. Christmas In Connecticut
  5. The Bishop's Wife
I must like older movies as all of these movies were released prior to 1955. (White Christmas was released in 1954.)

Holiday gripe

I have a holiday gripe. (Actually, I have several gripes, but why be so negative around the holidays!)

Anyway, my gripe centers around those Styrofoam "peanuts" that are used for packaging. We've received several packages the past few days from online vendors, family members and eBay sellers. Most of the items come packaged with these Styrofoam peanuts. We have an aggressive recycling program in the northwest suburbs so we do our part by recycling a lot of material. However, Styrofoam isn't recyclable, at least not here. So Wednesday morning when the garbage is picked up, I'll have a couple of large garbage bags filled with nothing but Styrofoam peanuts. They should look great in the landfill.

Of course I would rather have the item arrive unbroken, but can't we invent something that is more earth-friendly? For example, packages from Amazon.com are packed with plastic Baggie-like packaging that contains air. Once I remove the item, I pierce the baggie to let the air out and then put it in with our plastic bags that a local grocer recycles. We've been buying from Amazon for several years and nothing has been broken yet.

It just seems like the smart people who sent a man to the moon or make an iPod can create something safe, inexpensive and environmentally-friendly.

OK, end of gripe. I have garbage bags to fill.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

"Baby, it's cold outside"

I'm listening to the Brian Seltzer version of this song as I write this. It's going to be cold here in the Chicago area beginning Sunday. We'll have subzero wind chills on Sunday with subzero lows Thursday and Friday. This is suppose to be the coldest December since 1993.

Lake effect snow began about a half hour ago. That's a good sign since it shows that it's still relatively warm. Lake effect snow is caused by the wind coming off of Lake Michigan. Usually Indiana gets the real heavy snow, but we're getting the puffy flakes and fortunately it's not accumulating. The snow will taper off as the temperature falls.

I guess a white Christmas would be nice.

Update: It's 3 above zero right now (Sunday morning)!

Friday, December 17, 2004

2004 list of banished words

Since 1976, Lake Superior State University has published an annual list of "banished words." This year's edition is headlined by the words "metrosexual," "punked" and "embedded journalist."

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Newspapers with RSS feeds

Click here for a list of U.S. newspapers that support RSS news feeds. Free newsreaders such as Bloglines or NewsGator use RSS feeds gather, organize and prsent news and, yes, blogs to their subscribers. RSS feeds are web files with an extension ending in RSS or XML. For example the newsfeeds for my two blogs are:

For more information about RSS syndication, click here.


Thursday, December 9, 2004

Students fight for right to bare all

Interesting "tradition" at Bennington College in Vermont! Just a hunch, but I don't think President Bush spent much time here during the recent campaign!

Sperm burn

Just when you thought you heard everything, now comes word that laptop use can damage a man's fertility! Teenagers and young men are urged to limit the amount of time their laptops are on, well, their lap.

So men, surf carefully!

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Thunderbird 1.0 released

Thunderbird 1.0 has been released. I've used various pre-release builds of this great e-mail software and have had no problems whatsoever. I downloaded the new version this evening and it installed flawlessly and recognized my existing profile. I like the fact that you can receive RSS feeds in your mailbox just like regular e-mail. I wish Microsoft would do this for Outlook. (Actually, you can do this in Outlook by purchasing third-party plug-ins.)

Read more about Thunderbird.

Monday, December 6, 2004

Male tradition

Dave Barry has a funny column that says that men have essentially been messing up holiday shopping for over 2,000 years!

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Christmas in Connecticut

At this time of year, Lisa and I dust off the DVDs, VHS tapes and, yes, laserdiscs that comprise our holiday movie collection. I like most of the holiday movies (I guess that's OK for a man to admit!), but one of my favorites is the original Christmas in Connecticut. I say "original" because I refer to the 1945 version, not the 1992 remake. The original stars Dennis Morgan, Barbara Stanwyck and Sydney Greenstreet. Unfortunately, the movie isn't available on DVD yet, but our laserdisc player still works fine so it will have to suffice for now.

Oh, here's some trivia I learned from the Internet Movie Database site: the Connecticut home is the same set used for 1938's Bringing Up Baby starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.

Well, time to go pop some popcorn and watch it.

Post-its

While surfing this morning, I came across a weblog that referenced a freeware software program that mimics the functionality of "Post-it" notes. I use "Post-it" notes (the real ones) a lot so I'm going to try this software myself to see how that works. Here's the site where I originally found the reference.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

1914 Baseball Card Set Sells for $800,000

Where do people find the money? I need to check my mother's basement for my old baseball cards.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

My Christmas wish

If there are any kind Santas are out there, this is what I want for Christmas -- a C.F. Martin D-28 Marquis Sunburst guitar. I've also posted my totally unrealistic Wish List on Froogle.com!

Oh...and wouldn't world peace be nice too?

"Blog" was the #1 word of the year

According to Merriam-Webster Inc., "Blog" was the #1 word of the year. Here is the complete Top Ten:

  1. blog
  2. incumbent
  3. electoral
  4. insurgent
  5. hurricane
  6. cicada
  7. peloton
  8. partisan
  9. sovereignty
  10. defenestration