Monday, November 22, 2004

This Guy Couldn't Catch a Code

Greg & Deb on the Web has been around since 1996. As long as our ISPs have been generous enough to offer a little free space Deb and I have been more than willing to add our share of self-aggrandizing, bandwidth wasting crap to their servers (nod to Nancy).

You'd think my html skills would have improved over the past eight years.

They haven't.

If you're on a PC and using Internet Explorer the fact there are no spaces between my paragraphs is your evidence I'm not improving. If you're browsing with Firefox this page will probably look as if some of my stylesheets aren't being applied (because. . . they're not). Lord knows what this thing looks like if you're using Netscape, Opera or AOL.

I'm not sure what happened. Usually I wait until the first of the year to give our page a facelift. But I recently discovered I can post photos directly from my camera phone to our Web site. I actually got it to work. Unfortunately the only way you were going to see the pictures was if you were using the perfect recipe of browser, plug-in and hardware.

Instead of freezing most of your browsers I decided to pull a Walden on this puppy and simplify. And if by simplify I mean no instant camera phone posts, no spaces between paragraphs and weird gaps between tables then I've simplified the hell out of this page.

Can someone please send me an email and tell me how to adjust my stylesheets, source code, feng shui or whatever the hell it takes to get the most popular browser in use today to display the spaces between my FREAKIN' PARAGRAPHS?!


We can't spell in front of the kid anymore. Allie is beginning to decipher the words her mother and I don't want her to hear.

Sss. Ah. Nnn. Tuh. Ah.

I doesn't matter that Allie was making Santa's name sound like a Native American blessing. What matters is Deb and I no longer have the convenience of discussing delicate matters while the newly crowned Princess of Phonics is around.

Sss. Huh. Eh. Tuh.

I'd thought we'd have a few more years. Deb says we'll be able to stretch out things for a while by spelling really quickly in front of Allie. That means Allie and I both won't know what the hell Deb is talking about.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Tiny Dancer Scares Me

Lately I seem to be running into a lot of unexpected pictures or sounds on the Web. I've got a twitch now. It's a direct result of being scared shitless by slow loading, horrible MIDI reproductions of songs someone thought would be the perfect soundtrack to his/her Web site. They're always louder than hell when they finally load and start blaring Wind Beneath My Wings or Theme from Star Wars through my speakers.

Then there are the assholes who try to scare you on purpose. You've all seen the type of Shockwave files they place on their sites. The ones that ask you to turn up your speakers and study a photo to find some hidden image. Then suddenly a photo of Bea Arthur (or something equally scary) pops up and starts screaming at you.

I fell for it once. It happened at work and my shreik sounded like Half-Pint from Little House on the Praire had just seen Pa get run over by his own buggy. It took some time to live that one down. It seems the only way to truly put this sort of thing behind you is to find someone else as dumb as you are and scare them with the file.

I got my Mom.

Not long after my office scare I sat her down in front my computer and watched as she studied the monitor for an image of a ghost. When the scary face and loud scream exploded in front of her I saw both her arms shoot up and shake in the air as her face strained and contorted with pure adrenaline enhanced fear.

For a moment, I was pretty sure I had killed her.

As soon as I was sure she wasn't going to slump over in my desk chair I started laughing. I was laughing because: 1) It was funny. 2) I had evidence I wasn't the only sucker left in the world. 3) I was nervous because I knew my mother was going to kill me right there in my own den.

We both survived. Unfortunately, now I'm suspicious of anything on the Web that might try to scare me. I like to go to the ghost hunter sites and look at video footage of actual ghosts and other such unbelievable crud. A few of these sites think it's fun to scare their visitors. After all, if they're interested in ghosts they must like being scare shitless.


I already have a hard enough time making it out of the basement and upstairs into bed with all the lights out. The last thing I need is some jerk's pop-up image of a bloody, dead babydoll flashing around in my head before I try to go to sleep.

My Mom sent me an email the other day with a link to one of these files. The email told me to study the photos closely. The link ended in .swf and my Mom wrote a warning that I shouldn't open the file around kids (duh). So I turned down the speakers and I clicked on the link. I walked ten feet away from my computer's monitor. I looked at the monitor through my fingers trying to shield myself from whatever horror I knew was going to pop-up at me. Sure enough, after waiting about 30 seconds the photos turned to some horrifying face and I could barely hear a scream coming from my speakers.

At her age, I don't think it's wise for my Mom to try to scare her more vengeful minded children.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Hi. Mama. Dada. Dooay.

These are the words Julia has learned so far. We're pretty sure we know how she picked up those first three. The last one, "Dooay" was a mystery to me until this morning.

You see, "Dooay" is the Furby word for fun (if you don't know what a Furby is I'll leave the Googling up to you). This morning Julia walked into our bedroom holding a Furby by it's quivering, audioanimatronic ear. The Furby must have enjoyed being slung around like this because it said, "Dooay".

Julia looked at me and repeated, "Dooay".

Twenty five percent of our daughter's entire vocabulary is Furbish.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Weekend at Harry's

Deb and I were at the Outagamie Museum this weekend. Judy and Glenn took care of the girls while we checked out the somewhat controversial Harry Houdini exhibit at the museum.

The exhibit reveals how Harry pulled off some of his illusions. That's the controversy. Many people objected to the museum revealing these secrets. I doubt if the protesters were working magicians in fear of these revelations hitting them in their breadbaskets. After all, letting people in on the fact that Houdini had a trick panel here or some fake rivets there couldn't be too much of a bombshell for today's savvy, jaded magic audience. I'm sure it had more to do with violating the sacred magician's code or just another attempt to chip away at what little wonder we have left in our savvy, jaded lives.

I'm all for magician's codes and a little wonder creeping into my life here and there. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy getting a glimpse of how Harry fooled his public. In fact, I plan to use these secrets in my daily life for personal gain. With this in mind, I regret not buying the $300 straightjacket on sale in the museum's gift shop. I would have worn it to work. No one argues with a crazy person unless they're in a courtroom.

Did I mention Judy and Glenn had the kids? The trip was actually a weekend getaway to celebrate our anniversary. We had a good time. I lost to Deb at tic-tac-toe. How this happened I'm not sure. I was distracted. I must have been distracted. Same thing with the two games of ping-pong we played. I can't see how Deb's hand-eye coordination could be superior to mine. The woman can barely throw a ball so how the hell she managed to kick my ass at ping-pong makes absolutely no sense at all. I must have been distracted.


We played Battleship at the museum and I won.

Does all of this sound romantic?

It was.

Sure. There was also the requisite giggling, moony eyes and handholding across the table during dinner. But you don't want hear about that.

It's best not to reveal everything. Harry would want it that way.

The drive home did a great job of bringing us back to reality. Julia was cranky and whined for most of the trip. The whining became rhythmic for about 15 minutes. That's a long, long time to listen to our daughter's weird chant. I was convinced she was summoning some kind pagan god of toddler retribution who would smite us for trying to push milk over juice one too many times.

This was after Deb became upset with me for telling Allie about the time my grade school pal, Scott, took a dump and wiped his ass with pink, fiberglass insulation. It's a good story, especially if you know just how itchy you get working with insulation. Unfortunately Allie hasn't had much experience with the stuff so I was the only one in the car amused.

This is often the case.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

It took some time to hook up with Blogger this evening. I'm guessing everyone is writing about the vote. Part of the process demands a non-unique experience for each participant. That means by this time tomorrow there will be lots of blogs that all sound exactly the same.

Here's my version:

I got in line to vote at 6:58 this morning. This is what it looked like:

What you don't see is how long the line was behind me. I'd guess it was about 100 yards long.

It took me 30 minutes to get to the machine that eats your ballot. When I got there a friend of ours, Tom, was standing watch over the machine. He was telling everyone that it didn't matter which direction you fed the machine your ballot. Forward, backward, upside down, right side up, the machine would be able to tell who you wanted to act on your behalf in public office. I spoke with Tom for a few minutes. We wondered how long it would take before we knew who the next president would be. "Who knows?" we both said almost simultaneously.

Tom told me something interesting. He said absentee ballots are counted after the polls close at 8:00 p.m. They're unwrapped and each ballot is marched around to the people that check and double check the big books containing the rolls of registered voters. After that it's fed into the counting machine just as if that person had been there to vote for him or herself. Tom told me the town next to ours had reported 30% of eligible voters had used absentee ballots. "They might be there 'til midnight," he said.

Even after hearing this, I'm still leery of being an absentee voter. It just sounds bad. Put absentee in front of any other word and it's not good. -Absentee Dad. Absentee Employee. Absentee Barbecuer. Absentee Fork.- Thankfully I'm usually able to make it to the polls. Unfortunately the men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't so lucky. There is concern that the military vote will not be counted. This was a problem in 2000. Supposedly congress took measures to ensure that the people who deserve to have their vote counted the most wouldn't have any worries their voices were heard. Sounds as if these measures weren't enough and the military vote is in jeopardy.

As a Democrat I shouldn't have too much of a problem about this situation considering the military largely votes Republican. But I do. It's so unjust. I realize today's the wrong day to have this occur to me. I should have had this thought months ago. What I could have done beyond a letter or two to my congress person I'm not sure. But a letter or two is more than just spouting off about it after the fact. I'll watch the news and keep my fingers crossed that something like Florida screwing up again by throwing out a soldier's vote just because it arrived without a postmark doesn't happen this year.

Now we wait for the results. My voting number was 96. I was married in '96. That's a good sign. I put all three of our jack-o'-lanterns out by the trash this morning without having scrape them out of the street with a shovel. That's a good sign. I checked CNN at 10:00 a.m. today and they hadn't called the race yet. Yet another good sign. Speaking of which, have you seen the CNN Web page for exit poll data? It's like the dashboard for a nuclear reactor. Just enter your zip code and you are dialed in like Tokyo.

What that last line means I'm not sure. I'm pretty sure it's something positive. I was on the phone once with a guy from Poway, California who sounded like the consummate surfer dude. He said it to me. Since then I find myself searching for excuses to use it whenever I can.

John Kerry. He's dialed in like Tokyo.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Halloween Pt. 3


That was the number of men, women, children and pets we had come to our doorstep in search of candy last night. An off year as far as numbers go but we made up for that with special effects.

The mummy was on the front porch, as usual, but this year we added spooky sound effects, dimmed the lighting and blasted all the ghastly ghoulies with a fog machine. Some of the smaller kids hesitated and even refused to come up the driveway (heh, heh). However, judging from the comments I heard, most of the kids appreciated the extra effort.

Julia didn't hit the streets. The girl was far too cranky for any kind of sustained Halloween nonsense. A little disappointing, maybe even a little sad, but not the end of the world. We'll take the $40 we paid for her black cat costume out of whatever birthday money she gets next year. The evening wasn't a total loss for Julia. She had her grandma with her and they celebrated the holiday by spending some time sitting in the dining room with the lights out. From there they watched the parade of costumes that marched up and down our front walk.

Allie begged for candy with her mom and grandpa. Allie's elaborate witch's costume was augmented with long underwear, pants and a purple hoodie. With the little broom in her hand she looked like a junior janitor with a penchant for goth inspired undergarments. We know each year her costume will wind up being a casualty of the weather. Why we don't just dress her up in something a little more practical and warm escapes me. . . Next year she's a polar bear. Year after that, a yeti. When she's seven we'll spray some black dots on it and she'll be a fuzzy Dalmatian. Make the spots bigger, add some horns and you've got a furry Holstein. That'll get her to nine-years-old and she won't need us for costume ideas any more.

It took Allie and her entourage about an hour to canvas the neighborhood. When she returned Allie sat on my lap and helped me hand out candy. She'd blast the halloweenies with fog and then drop a fun-sized Butterfinger in their bags. "There you go, little one. Happy Halloween" she'd say to the short kids. Allie stopped just short of patting the short kids on their heads as they said their thank yous and moved on to the next house. I'm sure the short kids didn't appreciate being patronized by a four-year-old. I suppose candy is candy and fortunately I didn't notice any signs of visible umbrage.

There was one little girl (couldn't have been more than three) who held her bucket out for a treat. We must have been her first house because the candy made a loud thump as it hit the bottom of her empty, plastic pumpkin. "I wan moh," she said. I dropped another piece in her pumpkin and smiled. Her eyes narrowed and she thrust her pumpkin toward me. "Feewit up!" she demanded. I was being mugged on my own front porch. Fortunately the girl's mother(?) stepped in and saved me before I had to call for help.

As we started to run out of candy I yelled at Debbie for grabbing a chocolate bar out of the treat bowl for herself. She said I was a grouch. If she knew about the Almond Joy I had in my pocket at the time, she would have called me a hypocrite, too.