Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
(15-24 July 2005)

24 July 2005
-Saw "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory" last night with a whole crew of folks, mostly the roomies & PIRG folk.  My word for the film is "marvellous".  & it's not even that it was the best movie of the year or anything... just that it was something to marvel at; the true sense of the word.  Infinitely better than the first attempt at turning Roald Dahl's book into a movie, & much more in keeping with the spirit of said book.  Of course, every movie gets a boost by being seen on the big screen at the Grand Lake on organ night.  But still, it was great.  It should be noted that I liked it more than anyone else I saw it with, though some folks have a strange loyalty to the abysmal "original" movie version.
-There are some things that people do, in my opinion, because they just get it in their head that they're going to do them.  & then they throw caution to the wind & get tunnel vision towards making whatever that thing is happen, no matter how many reasonable concerns come up.  I've done it... everybody probably does it.  But it's still frustrating to watch it from the sidelines.
-A lot of words you don't think are words are actually words.  Ask the Scrabble dictionary.

23 July 2005
-I've now written a full month of Duck and Cover, & the ideas keep flowing.  I approximately think they're getting better, but my style of humor is pretty quirky I guess.  I'm also just trying to churn them out while I'm inspired, because I know how hard it is to be consistent with something daily.  It may be the first project I've been consistently ahead on... ever!  Meanwhile, the large size of the comic files is putting me in jeopardy of having to get more space for my site, which won't be a big deal if I decide to do the ads & the revenue is half of what they claim it could be.  But who knows if any of that will pan out.  I also suspect that the files don't have to take up as much space as they do, but for some reason my scanning programs don't give me control over how many pixels things come out containing.  If I could solve that, I think I could have these take up about 25% of their current space, & perhaps look a little crisper to boot!
-Well, it looks like being generally cold & prone to wearing jackets indoors (I'm looking at myself here) is a life-threatening condition.  Between being cold all the time & having long hair, I might be in trouble if all the bombings keep up.  I guess one should stop if police tell you to, but it's reasonable to panic when you see an over-armed SWAT team yelling at you, I suppose.  I've always worried when I've been unreasonably cold or have a summer cold about people suspecting me of shoplifting because I'm wearing a heavy coat indoors, but now the stakes are a little higher.
-Well, I've bitten the bullet & started some advertising on the site.  It's on the front page & the front pages for the 4 quizzes.  We'll see.  It's an experiment.  The nice thing about these things on the internet is that they can be undone at any time.  I have total control over my website's content, so I could shut it all down tomorrow if I don't like it.  These decisions aren't set commitments like other major decisions that connote some permanence.  & if you haven't signed up for Party Poker & have wanted to, you should check out the offer of 20% extra that's available when you sign up through the BP!

22 July 2005
-Congress is out to ruin the whole point of the timing of Daylight Saving Time.  Besides making Jake unhappy by forcing him to wait an extra week, Congress has destroyed the point of the Daylight Saving schedule.  For time immemorial, Daylight Saving has always left us before Halloween so that it get dark super-early on that night & people can trick-or-treat in the dark.  Now, kids will have to trick-or-treat in evening twilight at best as their parents admonish that they can't stay up late enough to go when it's dark.  & the whole spookiness of the strangely early darkness is lost.  Oh, the humanity!  As bad as the Iraq War?  No.  But still a major blow to our quality of life.  I can't believe Congressmen actually cite daylight trick-or-treating as a benefit of the bill.  Are you kidding?  Who trick-or-treats in the daylight?  I now believe that anyone elected to Congress was never actually a child.
-First known crack of the State Quiz.  You have to scroll down a bit to see the chart.
-The looming reality of car accidents is never far away.  Mesco is fine, but accidents are still a scary thing we face every time we hit the road.  I just can't get over how much I feel like cars & highways are our species' parallel to the deal made in Strawberry's warren in Watership Down.  I may have made this analogy before, but I've had two friends in fairly significant accidents this year (Stina was the other) & it's not cool, yo.
-What is cool is that Beth is back!  It seems that the ol' "italics purgatory" has had success in bringing back two people now, both of whom interestingly had last posted on the 10th of May before their recent comebacks (Drew being the other).  Independently of them, Helen also came back not too long ago, though she has spoilers about Harry Potter on there (with some warning) so take heed.
-Oh look, Kate's back big time too!  Hooray, I have lots of online reading material again!

21 July 2005
-It's never going to happen, but I suddenly find that I have to root for Yahoo! to win the titanic struggle of search engines as it tries to knock down the Goliath of Google.  It's not that I don't have some great Google position, including a couple of front pages for common words, but nothing quite compares to current Yahoo! position.  For example: fourth on pyramid, fourth and fifth on quiz, ninth on blue, sixteenth on country, & (of 653 million webpages) twenty-fifth on book.  Despite what I say in this post & extreme motive for personal bias, I agree with the rest of the world in thinking that Google is the superior engine.  If nothing else, the esthetics are no-contest.  If only they could adopt whatever technology Yahoo! is using to capture sites...
-In other site news, an alarm-bell has been raised in my discussions with a certain poker site to possibly carry allegedly highly lucrative advertising on popular pages around here.  Good news:  "If you would like feel free to simply use text links you do not have to use banners at all."  Bad news:  "Then if you email me your login I can make sure this is set up properly and help in whatever way I can."  WHAT?  Suddenly I think I might be being scammed here.  First off, how hard do you think it is for me to figure out how to set up a doggone link?  Secondly, are you really kidding me?  Login information?  Everything has seemed very above-board until now, but it might be time to confirm some things with this poker site independently of my communication with this guy.  Or at least see how he reacts to not getting the login information for my freaking website.  As though one couldn't view the page source to make sure the link was set up properly.  Sheesh.
-I'm really glad I finished HP already, because it seems like spoiler stuff is floating around the internet like crazy.  I was already getting the feeling that I had to be ready to avert my eyes at a moment's notice when I hadn't finished it two or three days after getting it, but now it's everywhere!  I just hope everyone keeps a good honor code of warning about spoilers for the sake of those who remain...
-Because clearly all I talk about anymore is my webpage & Harry Potter, someone (I think for the first time) got all the results of the Book Quiz together.
-& if only to talk about something else for once, congratulations to Adam Zirkin & Samantha Gross!  Zirkin is the sixth person from the 'Deis debate crew to tie the knot, behind Factor, myself, Wilson, & then Schwartz & Spurling.  There is no clear favorite for #7, though Al Franken would tell you that Steve-o is the most eligible bachelor from his crew, & probably ours as well!
-Upon re-reading the e-mail I was sent, it actually looks like he didn't mean the login info for my webpage, but the login name for an account as an affiliate for the poker site.  I think I might have been a little jumpy.  Not that anyone could ever accuse me of being paranoid about people trying to manipulate me...
-The fact that I hate having to eat just keeps coming up these days more & more.  As I'm feeling more creative & more able to control my time, eating is just increasingly annoying.  Fish & I have discussed this issue a lot lately... how many other people would take the deal of never having to eat again if they never could eat again?  Obviously anyone who is starving or generally less fortunate would take the deal, but would anyone who is currently getting by & doesn't have to worry about their next meal's source (besides me) take this deal?  I wonder what the ratios really are... the sheer convenience & savings of not having to eat would be tremendous, far beyond any joy that food might bring.  Now I know not everyone agrees with me on this, or even a lot of people, but there have to be some, right?  This would make a good opp-choice case, though I guess it's pretty highly subjective.
-Forgive me for this, & feel free to lump it in with the paranoia discussed above... but doesn't it seem like the London bombing "thwart" today is a little trumped-up?  They really stopped anyone from getting hurt?  When the alleged attempts almost exactly mirrored the one two weeks ago?  Nothing would make people feel more secure than believing that their government had actually stopped an attack at the last minute... & the Blair government is hardly above deluding its people to curry favor with the British public.  It seems awfully fishy from where I'm sitting.

20 July 2005
Happy Birthday to Drew Tirrell
-Somehow, someway, it was just destined to be a long dark night of the soul.  Between finishing a momentous book that is all too likely to remind me of days spent in school, Em being out of town, getting a headache but not being tired, & then having access to countless historical documents (e-mails mostly), it was off to the races for my mind.  Something about reading about the intensities of high school, perhaps, served as a key of the spark.  Jesus.  I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of.  I may have had even more things done to me that don't leave room for pride.  It's been an intense & crazy life.  It doesn't all feel fluid or put together or cohesive or at all like one life.  It's been, if nothing else, emotional.  So damn emotional.
-Feeling a little better now, both physically & mentally.  In the back of my mind, though, I know that the book says we may be done with the past, but the past isn't done with us.  Well, to be fair, it's a movie that says that the book says that.  & frankly, when have I ever even had a chance at being done with the past?
-The number of people out there who truly, deep in their heart, after taking some of the quizzes repeatedly, believe that I somehow "randomize the questions" or "give new questions every time one takes it" or some such advanced programming nonsense will really never stop amazing me.  How hard is it to remember what you answered to six questions?  It's you changing the answers in a stagnant question-tree, buddy!  But people love to believe in mystery & buttons are enough to make things look like they aren't just hyperlinks.  It's fun to read a message board & see 2 or 3 people supporting this theory (or best yet, the State Quiz theory that it reads the IP address of what state you're in) & then have someone at the bottom say "Uh, I think you're changing your answers, because the questions don't change..."  Conclusion?  People are silly.
-YES!  After spending all day trying to figure out how to do CGI-based forms, I've finally done it!  The result?  We have a brand-new Feedback Form for you to tell us what you think of the BP!

19 July 2005
Happy Birthday to Adam Zimmerman
-Well I finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, reading about the last 60% of it or so just in the last 18 hours.  As with all of the HP books, the last 100 pages are ridiculously gripping & one is rooted immobilized to the spot, tearing through pages left & right.  I will respect other readers of the page & not reveal anything about the plot or really make comments at all, except that I enjoyed it, but I don't think it was the best one yet.  I'm trying to ponder with that in mind what the best one was... my mind settles around book 4, but it's hard to say.  I guess they're hard to compare.  I will also say that predictions I made while reading the book mostly turned out wrong, which I feel is a good sign for the series.  There are times that the small things seem too predictable, so it's nice that the big things aren't.  I kind of want to say more, but I really don't want to ruin it.  In perhaps the most interesting development, I think I finished this book before Stina did... there's no point in my life that I wouldn't have bet the ranch on not beating Stina to the last line of a new Harry Potter book, but things do change.
-& suddenly, once again, I'm bereft of new HP material, at least till the new movie in November.  That didn't take long.

18 July 2005
-Despite imposing on the people who now own Em's grandmother's old homestead & doing a lot of driving, yesterday turned out to be pretty darn spiffy.  & I'm almost all the way over my migraine, which makes the whole world seem to vibrantly sing.  Paul V is old enough to be dreading the move to the new house for his family, but Natty is young enough to just be excited.  I wonder, years down the line, what they'll remember of the old place.  It's fun to have nieces & nephew.
-Fish & I were having a race on the Harry Potter book, but then he went ahead & finished it while I was hanging out with Emily's family.  Woops.  Ah well, I'm a slow & steady reader anyway... the race was mostly a joke.
-The Book Quiz seems to be experiencing a real revival lately.  Meanwhile, only time will tell if Duck and Cover catches on.
-I joked with Emily that she was really wrecking the Yucatan, but it took her a while to get it.  I wonder when there'll be a Hurricane Storey.
-Amazon did something utterly brilliant the other day... gave everyone who bought Harry Potter an "additional $1 refund".  At first one just thinks they saved some money by buying in bulk & are passing it on to us... how nice!  But of course it's the best-selling item they've ever sold, & they want every single person to be a repeat customer, hence the store credit on the refund.  Absolutely brilliant.

17 July 2005
-Yesterday Fish asked me how many unique visitors I get at the Blue Pyramid in any given year, & my estimate was under a million.  Upon reflection, this is poppycock, since last week alone I had 106,999 unique visitors.  Granted, last week was my best week for traffic since the Animal Quiz came out, & among my best weeks for the whole year.  But upon examination, the average unique visitor count is around 50-60,000 for a week, which projects to 2.6-3.1 million, but that assumes no repeats.  Around 2 million actually unique visitors is probably the safest estimate.  No wonder I'm starting to get unsolicited advertising offers...
-Feeling a little better than the end of yesterday, which still just isn't that good.  I did manage to read the first nine chapters of Half-Blood Prince yesterday before going down with a migraine, throwing caution to the wind on my promises to Eyeless in Gaza after the USPS knocked on the door around 1 in the afternoon, with the postman actually saying "Harry Potter's here!"  'Twas all over after that.  Yes, I'm just as swept into the phenomenon as I would be were I 10-15 years younger right now.

16 July 2005
-Fish & I wanted to be a part of the Harry Potter joy last night/very early this morning, but we got off to a slightly late start & somehow missed the "fantastical fun" promised at Borders despite showing up at about 12:22 in the morning.  The place was totally dead... dark as could be, locked up, empty... don't know how they got everyone their books & out the door in 21 minutes.  Just prior, he'd picked up his copy at the local Walden Pond store that was actually hopping, & didn't really care about pre-orders, but was just dishing them out.  I'm still waiting for my Amazon copy, which the USPS told me they had attempted to deliver (according to e-tracking) on the morning of the 15th!  Dubious.  If they did try, they didn't leave the customary note.  Anyway, I proceeded to spend literally 150 minutes reminding Fish what happened in books 4 & 5 as he read them when they came out, respectively, & I read them 2 months ago.  I'm conflicted about wanting to finish Eyeless in Gaza before embarking on this so-called Half-Blood Prince... the former keeps getting better & better & is quickly climbing the Huxley charts, which is saying something.  But talking about something for 150 minutes has this nasty habit of getting one excited about something.  Ah well.
-Oh, & Duck and Cover is daily... at least as yet.  So there was new one at midnight, & there should be more to come.  I've actually simulated real cartooning by drawing the first 14 so far & pre-dating them so that I'm ahead of the game.  Local critics say they get better over time (though the drawing doesn't, trust me).  & of course they're obscure, often political, & sometimes rely on puns... which is to say that I wrote them.
-Hypothetically, how would people feel if there were big ads for a poker site on the main traffic pages of this site?  (Likely the front page & the quiz pages.)  I'm somewhat torn, because I do hate advertising in many ways, but I don't hate poker sites & I really don't hate the possibility that these things could bring in an income equal to what I made at Seneca.  At least potentially.  That seems like the kind of opportunity that at least bears thinking about.  Is the internet the new way to make a creative living?  It's a weird world out there, folks.  I've been meaning to make a feedback form for the average BP user to submit ideas & thoughts more directly than e-mail, but I need to learn a little more about CGI to really make it work...
-Migraines derail EVERYTHING.

15 July 2005
-Everyone promised to show up for poker night last night, but almost no one actually did.  Oh well.  I still managed to give away some cash & maintain a losing streak.  So it goes.
-So I'm embarking on something that I feel may be well over my head, but I'm going to give it a bit of a go anyway.  I've created a comic strip!  It's called Duck and Cover, & you can read it by clicking that link.  I make absolutely no promises to be funny, & we all know how bad I am at drawing.  It's an experiment.  I hope you like it & give it a chance.

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