Captcha – What Now?

Yesterday, I was leaving a comment on Dr. Zibbs' blog and I got the following captcha:

That's an unedited picture of the captcha.  Seriously?

Now I need need a Hebrew keyboard to start leaving comments?



Playing Footsies

Recently, it's been common for me to see footers like the one below on emails around the Firm where I work:

!cid_image001_png@01CD3417 Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

It's gotten me thinking, always a bad idea, I must admit.  And I realized that paper isn't the only resource that we should be mindful of.

And with that, I created a new footer for my email account.


Please consider storage concerns when creating useless email footers.  Simply having a standard footer of useless text and a cute graphic will gobble up an extra kilobyte of space per email.  This requires additional storage per email (assuming that your email is saved as an intact document, and not compressed using pattern deduplication).  These extra bytes add up to buying additional storage capacity on the server for storing the emails, extra electricity to spin those disks and keep them cool, and is compounded by needing to keep backups and disaster recovery.

People who put unnecessarily long footers on their email are effectively killing the planet a little with every email they send.  They may as well be barbecuing baby seals over a California redwood bonfire.

Please paste this into the signature line of all your emails to help raise awareness to this important issue.


Hippies Vs. The Free Enterprise System

As some of you may or may not know, there's a NATO summit in Chicago this weekend.  For the most part, the city government, news media, and public have lost their ever-lovin' minds over it.

There will be… **GASP** … demonstrators in town.  To be honest with you, I'm a whole lot less worried that it will be like "The Battle in Seattle", but more like the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  (Then Mayor Richard J. Daley had a famous quote, "Gentlemen, let's get this thing straight, once and for all. The policeman is not here to create disorder. The policeman is here to preserve disorder.")

Yeah, I work right across the street from the Chase building.  And sure they've been in the news a little recently, but honestly, I'm not too worried.

I'm not worried about an attack on the bank.

I'm not worried about an attack on my building.

I'm not worried about an attack on my person.

I am worried about an attack on the Free Enterprise System, however.  Oh, not Capitalism.  Capitalism will shake off these hippies like a blast furnace shakes of a snowball.  No, I mean the Free Enterprise System: the charter bus service.


As a luxury charter bus service, they may bee seen as "The Bus Of The 1%".  But I hope the 70's color scheme (I had a comforter with those same colors) and the Grateful Dead font will throw them off the scent.


My Wife Took A Picture Of Booby's

We were driving down the road and I saw Booby's.

I shouted to my wife, Cora, "Look Booby's!"

So I pulled over, in awe of the huge Booby's, and had my wife take a picture of Booby's.


Booby's and the Leaning Tower? Oh, Niles, how I love you. 

(Booby's Charcoal Ribs, 8161 N. Milwaukee Ave, Niles, IL 60714)


A Warrior, Flat On His Back

Last Thursday I was home sick.  Not really sick, but that Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) showed up on Wednesday and made standing difficult.  It made turning my head difficult without room spins.

So I was on the couch, flat on my back, looking at the ceiling, when I got an idea on how to spend the day: I would go on a quest.

Cora brought me my net book and right around 7:30 am I began a fresh game of "Dragon Warrior".  I was playing clean.  No cheat codes for extra money.  No saving the game to try something risky, and then restoring if I failed.  This was a race, and the race was on.

"What is 'Dragon Warrior'?" I hear you ask.  Well, sit back and listen, if you're so inclined, on jump to "THE CONCLUSION" section below if not.

Dragon Warrior is a game for the old Nintendo NES system that came out in 1998. Revolutionary at the time, it had a battery in the cartridge that allowed you to save up to 3 games, instead of having to write down strings of seemingly random characters as restore points.  It's a fairly straight forward adventure game.  Fight the monsters, earn gold for better weapons, gain strength through experience, solve the puzzles, rescue the princess, and then defeat the super villain at the end.  I bought the game second hand, beat it a few times, enjoyed it greatly, but my NES was replaced by the Sega Genesis, and that was that.

DW-Warrior A few years back, I was thinking about DW, found the ROM from a place like THIS, downloaded the Nessie NES emulator HERE, and was back to slaying monsters.  I think I burned through the better part of a weekend solving it, shocked both by how much I remembered, but also by how much I forgot.  And that lead me to go looking for maps and other reference materials and I found them on THIS WEBSITE.  Great resource, but I do have a few disagreements with him on strategies.

Hints, Tips, & Tricks

1 - Offense trumps defense - Starting off, you'll have $120.  Spend it wisely.  It's more important for you to hit your enemies harder than it is to soften their blows.  Spend $60 on the club, and go out and Louisville Slugger some slimes.  Run from everything else.  DO NOT DIE (see "death tax" below). Return to town.  In the lower right side of town is a merchant in a pillbox.  Go in and sell him your torch for $4.  Now you have the $70 for the fancy leather armor you were eyeing.  Now go kill until you die.  But you just said...

2 - Death Tax - When your Hit Points (HP) hits 0, you die.  When you die, you return to the king where you started, fully recovered.  Usually this part is not a big deal, but can be a time suck walking all the way back to where you were when you died.  The worst part of death is the taxes.  You lose half of your hard earned money.  Gone.  This really hurts, and can set you back a long way when saving thousands for the magic armor that you want.  So don't die.  There are two exceptions to that rule.  Near the end of the game, after you've bought all the cool kit, money really doesn't matter.  Also, the cheapest room at the inn to rest and heal at is $6 so if you have less than $13 it's in your favor to die vs. pay for the room.  Save a buck or two whenever you can.

3 - The "Mountain Cave" – This is a good place to visit over and over and over to gain money and experience points (and maybe snag a $1200 Death Necklace).  As long as you take a torch with you and load up on healing herbs, first.  But once you get 2000 EPs, it's time to move on, thru the swamp, thru the tunnel, and to the lower east side.

4 – Be In The Zone - Most of your fights should result in you killing the monster in 2-3 attacks.  Fewer, and you are wasting your time fighting chumps.  More and you are wasting time and money running back to the inns to power up and risking death.

5 - Don't Buy - Thee clothes or the bamboo pole.  If you follow rule #1, you won't need them anyway.  Also, you can skip the full plate armor.  At $3000' you are almost half way to the $7700 you need for the magic armor.  The small shield is debatable.  Usually, you have much more pressing needs for the $90, like the $180 copper sword (offense trumps defense), that buy the time you have the cash to spend, you are eyeballing the large shield for $800.

6 – Buy - The magic armor.  Expensive, but every 4 steps you get back on hit point, so you can stay out in the field much longer between trips to the inn.  Now, don't waste time in town, walking around for 5 minutes just to power up, but it will really stretch out your trips back.  And buy the flame sword if you've got the money, and you should, so why not.

7 – Spells – First and most common – Heal.  You will use this hundreds of times throughout the game.  Healmore is great.  You get it late, but it's fab.  Hurt is really only useful for a few levels.  Soon you will do as much damage with your weapon, and you can save the magic.  Hurtmore is the last and lamest.  Do not use this.  Either fight or run, but don't waste you magic on this spell.

8 – End Game – It's possible, but unlikely that you will defeat the Dragon Lord while you are on level 19.  It's probable but not for sure on level 20.  Level 21 and up, is basically for sure.

THE CONCLUSION – I spent all day playing the game.  Only a couple of harrowing trips to the bathroom (hey, trying to pee into a moving toilet is harder than it sounds, and sitting may not help much, because you might miss trying to squat and fall butt on the floor) and a couple of untimely deaths (it happens to all of us) and I finished up in 10.5 hours.  I could probably make it in 10 if I used my real computer and took a few more chances.  Maybe some day.

As for the BPPV?  It started to fade around 5:30 or so, and I was pretty much back to "normal" by bed time.


Happy "Star Wars Day"

And "May the Fourth" be with you.

Here's a little something I cobbled together from bits stolen around the internet…


Yes, like the Death Star plotline, some of this is recycled from previous blog posts, and other is Star Wars fodder from elsewhere.

This one I actually did myself, a long time ago, and in a galaxy far, far away…

And these are from around the web:

Star Wars Droids

Did like the original coloration on this one, so I had to up the yellow a little to make the background stand out a little.

 Star Wars Escape Key

Shouldn't he be using the "Esc" key?

trooper hits head

And finally, every nerds favorite blooper, it's in the trash compactor scene, and the trooper in the back right totally hits his head on the doorway.  It's around the 1:15 – 1:20 mark in "New Hope".  I love that they left in in there.


Getting The Cold Shoulder

Shoulder X-RayOver the last few months, my left shoulder has been bothering me.  I had been sleeping on it to face Cora in the right, but a few months ago, that became impossible.  Recently, lifting my are high enough to put on deodorant was starting to become an issue, so I asked my doctor, and he said, "adhesive capsulitis" a.k.a. "frozen shoulder".

I went to an ortho, and he confirmed it.  (FYI – Not my x-ray.)

For those of you too lazy to click the link, the deal is that the tissue in the socket of the shoulder is thick and tight and scarred, and it makes it difficult to move the shoulder and damn painful, too.

When I went in, I had MAYBE about 40% range of motion (ROM) before pain started, and then maybe another 10% of painful ROM before the joint just wouldn't go any further.  It made tasks like, shutting the driver's side door, or putting on a coat challenging.

The ortho gave me some anti-inflammatories and some exercises to do, and I go back in 6 weeks.  I've been pretty good about doing the exercises in the week since seeing him, and it's getting better.  I would say that now, I have 60% ROM, with another 20% painful ROM.  I can reach almost as high up the wall with the left arm as I can with the right arm.  Only about 1 inch less. 

But it hurts…  A LOT… to do that. (Not as bad as that Chinese shopkeeper, but I'm not risking it!)

Right now, I really need to work on flexing it backwards, like when someone takes your arm behind your back and tries to touch your hand to your should blade.  I have two volunteers for that here, but the doctor said I shouldn't force it.

I think I over did it this weekend, so I took today off from the P.T., but tomorrow morning, it's back at it.

So, if you hear a sonic-boom-esque cracking sound, followed by what sounds like a young girl's scream, you'll know that I've finally loosened up my shoulder, and am probably curled up on the ground, whimpering, rolling around in a pool of various bodily goos and humours.

I'll keep all-y'all updated and such, but I think it's going to be just fine.  Heck, the webs even say that it usually resolves itself over the course of a couple of … YEARS!

(Back to the exercises!)