July 31, 2004
One Thousand

This is the one thousandth post on my weblog.

I started an 'official' weblog on January 21st, 2000. I had been posting info on the net for several years before that, but that was the moment I began using software to update my site. At the time, I was using software called Newspro that was all the rage.

I started the site because I was inspired by a site called Lum the Mad. Lum wrote about online gaming and was hilarious sarcastic in doing it. He closed down the site after a while, but he had inspired me to begin writing. Scott (Lum's real name) still runs a weblog at Broken Toys.

The first real content I posted on the net besides baby pictures is called The most expensive cup of coffee back in August of 1997. Even after almost seven years, it's still a funny story.

So there you have it, after almost four and a half years of pure weblogging and seven year of posting on the internet, I've hit a thousand entries.

While a few of my entries have been of the 'sorry I haven't posted' genre, for the most part, I've tried to make it interesting for people besides my mother, who likes everything I say or right (except fucking profanity, she hates the profanity).

I wonder what the next thousand will be like.

Here are a few entries you might enjoy:

When I liked Netscape instead of IE
A what I ate for dinner post
A lunch observation
That time I almost died in the hospital
Competitive Twinkie Eating
The death of Pom-Pom
Seven toothbrushes, four people

Posted by michael at 04:49 PM
July 28, 2004
Gameboy Advance Video

As my daughters get older and more tech saavy, I am challenged to keep them entertained. On our last trip, I brought not one, but TWO laptops to keep the DVDs rolling on the flights. Still, we ran out of batteries.

I thought about other options and stumbled onto the GBA Movie Player. It allows you to convert video down to low bitrates, put it on an compact flash card, and play the video on your Gameboy Advance. That sounds cool, but the conversion on media seems like asking for some headaches.

Last weekend I stumbled upon Majesco Gameboy Advance Video. It looks like the conversion headache is solved. The cartridges have episodes on them and are ready to roll.

I picked up a cartridge this week and gave it a try. At $20 a pop it's comparable to a DVD, but without the expensive player.

The playback couldn't be simpler. Zoe & Mira had no trouble understanding what I was showing them and promptly ran off with it. To the kids, the quality is good and it's a dream come true. The only trouble is that the screen is just too small for two children to watch it at the same time.

I had a little free time today and made up a little video to show how it works.

Demo of Gameboy Advance Video (1.8 MB WMV file)

Demo of Gameboy Advance Video (4.6 MB MPEG file, for the WMV impaired)

You're seeing the future here folks. Just imagine in a few more years when this kind of portable video and players will be widely available.

Posted by michael at 11:22 PM
Thirty Seven

Today is my thirty seventh birthday.

37 is one of those special prime number birthdays, I'm taking the day off to have fun instead of going into work. I don't get another prime number birthday until four years from now, so I better enjoy this one.

To my friends and family, I thank you. It's been a wonderful 37 years.

I do wish my body was 17 again though. I don't like that my body makes funny creaking and popping sounds now.

Posted by michael at 12:27 AM
July 27, 2004
Quote of the day

I read this on Anil Dash's site today.

"There's a part of me that's always felt that, if you're a professional at a certain trade, and I can come in as an amateur and do better than you, then you probably suck."

Preach on brother...

Posted by michael at 08:40 AM
July 26, 2004

The tree in our front yard died a while ago. I kept putting off cutting it own.

Until today that is:

The tree before I unleashed the chainsaw.

The stump after my work with the chainsaw.

The next step is getting a professional to pull out that stump. Cutting down the branches and cleaning up the mess was a pain in the butt. I'll be happy to pay to get that stump out.

I know I'll be having Advil for breakfast tomorrow.

Posted by michael at 12:21 AM
It's in the genes

As long time Cruft readers may remember, my Father has a bit of a fascination with Swiss Army knives with a collection of hundreds.

Recently he has been longing for the new Swiss Army Knife with USB and 64MB of flash memory. It arrived and he showed it to me yesterday.

Here you can see the knife plugged into my hub. Notice the drive SWISSMEMORY on the screen. It actually works.

Here is proof positive that my geekiness is inherited from my father.

Posted by michael at 12:09 AM
July 25, 2004
Steve Burns brings the rock

Last night Michele and I went to see Steve Burns play. With cups of 7-Eleven coffee we waited in line outside for the doors to open and the opening acts.

Once inside, I went to the bar to get a couple drinks. I look to the right and sure enough, there was Steve sitting at the bar drinking a Bud talking to some hot blonde woman. He had cut his hair very short and was wearing glasses. I kept thinking he looked very much like Cory Doctorow.

There were a couple of opening acts that were OK, but we spent some of their acts killing time. Michele had brought a book and was reading. I was chatting in IRC over my uber-phone.

Around 11:30PM, Steve hit the stage started getting the show set up. There was a large screen behind him, several video cameras, and a ton of electronics.

There couldn't have been more than 40 people in the bar and as he got started, he told the crowd to move closer. He pointed to the floor in front of him and said, "This is where the Rock happens. Come closer to the Rock." Very Jack Blackish...

And with that, Steve began to rock. The video screen started rolling. In fact, video was running throughout the show. The screen showed different things. Sometimes it was video from the various cameras in the room. Sometimes it was specific video that went along with the song and sometimes it was just a funny snippet that played during a break in the music.

I had listened to his music before and I enjoyed the show. Like many times in the past, I find most shows overdo the feedback and drown the vocals in the guitars. I sang along with several of the songs and had a good time.

The only drawback was that Steve was concerned that the video was working right, so he kept checking the screen and the various monitors. Kinda distracting. A few parts of the video show were neat. At one point the projector pointed at his body and you could see the video play in his chest. In the final song, Mighty Little Man, the video of his friend Gabe dancing was great.

Here you can see a short snippet of Steve playing that I recorded on my phone, for no other reason than I can record video on my phone. Steve plays Mighty Little Man. (You'll need the Divx coded to see it. It's only 9 seconds long so don't fret if you can't watch it.)

Steve's next album will be interesting and it will be fun to see how he grows as a performer. He's got a lot to learn, but he does have more talent than lots of the other bands playing these days.

Posted by michael at 11:32 PM

I am proud of my daughter Zoe.

For the last several months, she's been saving up money. Between visits from the tooth fairy, grandmothers, and doing various chores she had built up quite a stash.

Yesterday morning she announced she wanted to go to the video game store to buy something for her Gameboy Advance.

Here she is counting out the singles to buy Kirby Nightmare in Dream Land.

She got the used copy and saved $5.

I'm not sure what makes me prouder, her savings or her desire for video games...

Posted by michael at 01:29 PM
July 22, 2004

So I do a little post-lunch surfing and stumble into Tony Pierce's Links Page.


That makes my links page look so weak-ass it's not even funny.

I need to get off my lazy ass and get my design groove on.

On another LA note, Jonah at LAblogs.com has definitely got his groove on. His recent posts in which he digests the best of LA bloggers multiple times a day for perusal is fantastic. I need to buy that man a beer.

Posted by michael at 02:47 PM
Letters, we get letters...

This morning I received an email from a reader of this site. I get letters regularly that are one line comments, but this one showed some real effort. I thought you all might find it funny.

This email was about my page on How to Wash a Baseball Cap. You might want to read that first before reading the email.

Ms. Laurel writes:


I'm writing in response to your feature about washing baseball caps.
I was one of the many people who stumbled upon your site after having searched in google for "washing" and "hats". I heard that its totally common to wash baseball caps in dishwashers so I needed to find out how to go about this and whether I needed to take out all the dishes first.

I am in a tennis class and I wear my friend Cynthia's visor everyday which she doesn't know. I decided it was the tax for leaving it in my car and also not returning a couple messages I left. Point is, I'm not a hat person PER SE but I find myself wanting to wash a hat. If it's someone elses hat I have to be sure and not abuse the hat. Right now it's in the washing machine like you instructed. If anything happens to it, I'm going to forward Cynthia's complaints to you at this email address.

Just kidding. What I actually wanted to say is: yes, I'm female, but you really should not be telling people it's okay not to wash their hats. Poppycock! Okay I see what you're doing and uh, I'm glad you're empowering men to be their inner slob or have some "cleanliness relativity" philosophy or something, but have you ever heard of BLACKHEADS? They are a very real thing. You should consider yourself lucky to get them instead of huge pulsing zits in their place, too.

If one doesn't wash ones hat... EVER.. one will eventually have a forehead full of proof of their . That's what I heard.

Have you seen how GRAYISH BLACK those white bands along the front visor can get? Have you SMELLED some stinky hats?

I'm sure that as a guy you're really used to never smelling another guys items of clothing, but I've had the unfortunate experience of harmlessly picking up a guy's hat and putting it on my head only to instantly feel like sweat and dirt and odour was seeping through my skin faster than acid. I could've asked first, and I learned my lesson, but still. Not only that, but you're really generalizing men negatively, I think, by discrediting the likeliness that the average man would consider doing such a thing as washing his baseball cap.

The reason I bothered searching for info on washing hats in dishwashers is because all sorts of guys participated in a very intense conversation about their personal hat-washing methods. (I didn't pay much attention; it was awhile ago.)

So you should be giving these ideas to people on the internet who might maybe think you're a role model because you have a website and feel inclined to start dressing like you. I'm shocked at the poor journalism you exhibited on this page. You actually threaten women that their man will wash our silk garments IN THE WASHING MACHINE.. WITH BLEACH! Such unveiled malice! As a woman - I feel threatened!

I haven't gotten a chance to check out the rest of your site because I'm washing clothes right now, but if this page is any indication of how the rest will play, I'm going get the email address to someone at Morality in the Media ready for me to paste into the address bar at the touch of Conrol + V. Or maybe someone at Tide™. Maybe we can get you some free samples or an feature in an ad spot. Or at the very least educate you about the benefits of Febreeze.


laundry is done. I have to give you props on one thing: the hat looks okay after an ordinary, fanci-free round in the washer... so I'll leave Tide™ out of this here conflict of interests between yourself and yours,


And now, my response:


So good to hear from you and glad to find that my brief note on hair washing was useful. I endeavor to serve the public. I also promise not to tell your friend Cynthia that you have absconded with her hat, though I do agree it serves her right for leaving it in your car.

In regards to your concerns that dirty hats cause blackheads, I am the one that calls 'Poppycock'. Two things. First, grown men don't really care much blackheads and other things that involve peering into a mirror for hours on end to find. Second, the cause of blackheads is lack of good facial cleanser and lack of proper exfoliation.

I remain steadfast in my belief that a man has the option to not wash his hat. Show what I wrote to any man and he will agree with what I wrote. Guaranteed. While it may infuriate a women to suggest that cleaniness is not always best, it is true. It's OK to be dirty sometimes.

Please let me know if you have a weblog so that I might learn more of the thinking of today's young women. I have two young daughters and need to prepare myself.

Once again, thank you for your letter!

P.S. My wife likes your letter.

Posted by michael at 07:20 AM
July 21, 2004
Mighty Little Man

This Saturday me and the Mrs. are going out on the town. We are going to see Steve Burns play. Yes, Steve Burns who is/was Steve from Blue's Clues.

Michele picked up his album Songs for Dust Mites a while ago and loves it. I like the album too, especially the single Mighty Little Man.

The album is not the usual celebrity vanity thing, it's good music. Steve worked with Steve Drozd of the Flaming Lips on the album and they put together some seriously good tunes.

Steve's even got a weblog and he just posted some pictures of going on tour. Rock stars with weblogs, who woulda thunk...

Steve is playing Saturday night in Silverlake at Spaceland. Michele and I will be there sucking down cocktails, so if you want to meet Mr. Cruftbox and his wife Mrs. Scarymommy, you can pony up the cash for the $8 ticket to the show and come on down.

Posted by michael at 11:36 PM
July 18, 2004
YAR (Yet Another Review) -> SkipDr

Last Friday, Yoshi, Brad and I were at Fry's Electronics at lunch time. Yoshi had to get a new heatsink for a video card and Brad and I were along for the ride.

We roamed around looking for cool stuff and I spotted one of those CD repair gizmos. Come to think of it, I need one of those...

You see Zoe's favorite Gamecube game is scratched to the point that it won't play. Gamecube games aren't cheap, running upwards of $50 a pop and fixing the game disc was better than replacing it. So I bought it.

In a strange coincidence, Brad had picked up a different CD repair device that worked by a different method. We agreed to compare and contrast the devices over the weekend.

The one I bought was a SkipDr Disk Repair System. The unit was simple to use. Snap the disc in, spray with the mystery fluid, and crank the handle ofr two full revolutions.

I used it on the ailing Super Smash Brothers, and happily it was repaired. Zoe cheered and promptly went on a Smashing binge for a few hours.

Next, I used it on a few audio CDs. Several months ago, I ripped my entire CD collection to MP3s and there were a handful of CDs to scratched to rip. Of the previously unreadable CDs, four of them were repaired with SkipDr. Not bad. The one that wasn't fixed is an old Eagles CD that I think has CD rot.

In summary, if you have a scratched disc, the $20-$30 a repair unit costs is well worth it.

Posted by michael at 08:41 PM
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser - Does it work?

You've seen the commercials and you've asked yourself, "Does it work?" The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser appears to remove to marks from walls buy simply rubbing on them.

To a parent with small, messy children in the house, this appears to good to be true.

Yesterday I was at the supermarket, tasked with buying dishwasher detergent and was scanning the cleaning chemicals section when I spied the package on the shelf. I picked up the box and examined it. It felt light as if there was nothing inside. Could this little sponge truly remove years of crayons, markers, fingerprints, and other child residue from the house?

For $2.50 I decided to give it a test in tradtional Cruft fashion.

I'm thinking there's no way this thing works. I mean really, can I trust Mr. Clean? The dude looks like a skinhead...

This is the eraser. It feels light and airy. Much lighter than a normal sponge.
The instructions explain to wet the Magic Eraser, wring out extra water, and start erasing.

Here is a typical set of fingerprint in our house on a doorway.
Usually to get this off requires a mixture of some stinky chemicals, buckets, rags, etc.

Holy truth-in-advertising Batman! The Magic Eraser cleaned it one wipe!
I'm not kidding, I just wiped it on the doorway and the stuff came right off.
In fact there was no mark in the area that the eraser couldn't remove.

Next I had to try it on something truly tough.
This hallway mark is the result of some bash lately that has resisted the usual chemicals.
I wasn't sure if it was crayon, paint or something else.

I had to apply a bit more pressure, but the mark came completely off.
In the same area, it took off pencil and marker spots easily.
Again, there was no mark that the Magic Eraser could not remove.

At this point, Michele walked over to see what I was doing (Mainly 'cause I kept saying "Holy Crap!" over and over.) and give it a test.
She was skeptical at first but soon was roaming the house happily with the Magic Eraser saying "Holy Crap!" herself in amazement that nothing could resist the awesome power of the Magic Eraser.

This is what a Magic Eraser looks like after light use.
It disintegrates quite fast in use.
It doesn't leave much mess, but there can be drops of whitish looking fluid on the floor near where you use it. The stuff wipes up easily.

Overall, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser more than lives up to the claims. It is an outstanding product that works exceedingly well.

The only drawback is that the Magic Eraser wears out very quickly. As soon as you start using it, it starts beaking down. The more pressure you apply, the faster it breaks down. Perhaps that's part of how it works, but once you start using it, you'll wish you had bought more.

Michele has told me to "Go buy all they have!" so she can begin a fullscale assault on the surfaces of the house. I mention that supposedly it works on bathroom tile to remove scum and scale and she got a dreamy look in her face.

Posted by michael at 10:24 AM
July 16, 2004
Helpful Summer Hint

I noticed that the airflow from the air conditioner was kind of low last night.

This morning I opened up the system and found the filter nearly clogged with soot. I took the filter outside and washed it clean. Here is the residue of some of what was on the filter.

Nasty huh?

My helpful hint to you is to check your air filter and clean it before we reach the height of the summer and you really need the air conditioning.

Posted by michael at 07:56 AM
July 15, 2004
This Land

Barry, a fraternity brother of mine sent this linkage. I think I'll just quote his email to explain:

Trust me on this one...

This is pretty fucking hilarious, regardless of whom you are gonna waste your vote on:

This Land is...


Finally something that all sides of the political spectrum can enjoy!

Posted by michael at 02:57 PM
July 14, 2004
A Grand Don't Come for Free

For a few weeks now, I've been hearing a British rap tune on Indie 103.1. It's a fun song, but I never knew much about it.

I heard a little explanation of the album on the radio today and was intrigued. After I got home tonight, I took the girls out to the record store and picked up a copy of the album, A Grand Don't Come for Free by The Streets.

The album completely rocks. The man behind The Streets is Mike Skinner and he tells the story of a day in the life of a young British man through rap and music.

The day starts he tries to return some videos to the rental store and his day starts to go badly. Along the way we see him fighting with his girlfriend, trying to track down a missing thousand pounds, hit on a girl in a pub and many other snapshots of life. He struggles with the modern day problems of a cell phone with a low battery and trouble with an ATM. Hilarious stuff.

The best song, Get Out of My House, is when his girlfriend kicks him out and you can hear him begging in the background while she continues to explain his failings. His pathetic rationalizations for his behavior are pure genius.

Good fresh music in these days of American Idol and sober Metallica ain't easy to find.

Give it a listen.

Posted by michael at 11:28 PM
July 13, 2004
A few quick images

Here are a few images of my vacation. Most of these shot are by cousin James and his super D70...

A view from the beach house looking to the Atlantic

Zoe showing who is in charge.

We didn't have broadband access, so we used a single dial-up
to feed five computers with net access via wifi on one of the Macs.

Zoe playing in the surf.

Here I am reading The Confusion by Neal Stephenson.
I was using the computer to look up French terms and English history.

When I get some more time, I will put together a gallery of more pictures.

Posted by michael at 11:53 PM
July 12, 2004

Yesterday we traveled for over twelve hours and returned home after a week of vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

I had hoped to write a little about it last night but faced over 1,200 comment spams waiting for me to clean up. As a result, once I finished that, I was ready only for sleep.

I hope you all have been well and have a good week.

Posted by michael at 07:19 AM
July 01, 2004
Day 1

I picked up the Prius today and drove it around a little bit.

The car is so full of features, it's hard to believe.

The three coolest features are Smart Entry, Bluetooth, and the GPS navigation.

With the Smart Entry, you just walk up the car with the key thing in your pocket and you can the open the door without pushing a button. You just pull the door handle. The car senses the key and you can leave it in your pocket when you start the car.

The car has Bluetooth and works great with my Nokia 3650. As soon as I get in range of the car, the hands free kit inside takes over the phone. I can even push contacts into the car's memory.

The GPS navigation is kickass. Even if you don't follow it's suggested route, it will constantly readjust and come up with new directions, based on where you got off track.

Michele drove it tonight and said, "I want this to be my car."

Posted by michael at 11:45 PM