As Far As I Can Tell

I take it black

The woman who owns the newly opened Internet cafe down the street from me is continually surprised that I want my coffee black. It’s true that I don’t go in there that often, but it’s also not an odd way to drink it. There’s usually an inch and a half of unfilled space at the top of my cup, presumably for cream. When I start to put the lid on she breaks in — “You don’t want any cream?” — “No sugar?”. Then she tells me that I’m very brave.

Across from the counter there was a portable TV set up that I watched as my coffee was being prepared. It was some sort of exposé about Moby being attacked outside of a nightclub. They played the same clip over and over again, focusing in on certain people with play-by-play technology. I hadn’t heard of this before, so I looked it up when I got home. For those that don’t know, it seems that in December Moby was attacked outside of a Boston nightclub by 3 guys for still unknown reasons. I enjoy Moby’s speculation as to why:

“Maybe they don’t like skinny bald guys who play cover songs. I’m sure that’s it. It’s my fault. I should’ve posted a warning on the entrance to the club: ‘Warning: Tonight’s show will at times be comprised of cover songs poorly played by Moby, a skinny bald musician.’”



yeah- some say it was Eminem fans, and I would tend to remove myself from any of that drama- but then I’m shocked to hear otherwise sensible people talk as if Moby had it coming for criticizing Eminem’s gay-hating, women-hating raps. It makes me want to become very highschool and suggest that Moby is way cooler than Eminem and that Eminem totally sucks. Anyway, my friend Chad who was working near by when the event happen says that Moby was being abnoxious to the bar staff at the club and someone was offended enough to attack. Whatever!!!!!!!!!!!! =)

Posted by: bil on January 31, 2003 10:41 AM

you mentioned it’s an interent cafe … what’s it like? is it worth going to? or outrageous prices like the new one here in kzoo?

Posted by: miguel on February 1, 2003 12:08 PM

I truthfully don’t remember the exact prices, but it think they’re reasonable. Something like $3.00 an hour. They have a couple of iMacs set up, but I’m not really interested since I live about a block away and have high speed internet access and giant monitors at home. What is interesting is a new company, FaceFive that is offering wireless Internet access at various cafes around Wicker Park. You get an account with them and you can use your minutes at any of the locations. Nice idea.

Posted by: simon on February 1, 2003 1:32 PM

Your coffee experience there reminds me of when I would try to order a veggie sub at the deli in Gobles. For a long time they thought I was kidding when I told them I didn’t want any meat on my sandwhich. It’s no joke.

Posted by: meredith on February 1, 2003 2:41 PM

i don’t understand why more places don’t just have free wireless. it’s not expensive, but it’d bring in clientelle. at least i think so. i love free wireless.

Posted by: miguel on February 1, 2003 7:18 PM

they say, “once you go black, you never go back…”

Posted by: eric on February 1, 2003 7:44 PM

Because they can charge for it, and people will pay for it. I think it’d be cool if it was free with purchase.

Posted by: simon on February 1, 2003 8:02 PM

at least they’re not charging an insane $8/hr like at imagineinet.

Posted by: Miguel on February 2, 2003 12:21 AM

I love the idea of telling someone that they are brave for consuming the product that youare selling. Not good business practice there. And I thought Moby knew Kung-Fu. Didn’t he like invent Wing Chun style? Or maybe that was Bruce Lee, either way…wierd.

Posted by: josh on February 2, 2003 6:01 AM

Other businesses that might have similar advice usually make you sign a waiver form ahead of time — like bungee jumping. I wish I had to sign a waiver to drink my coffee black.

Posted by: simon on February 2, 2003 11:13 AM

There’s a new internet cafe going up in Andersonville, about 5300 N. Clark street, just north of Foster. It hasn’t opened yet, but it’s going to be called Screenz (obnoxious name). Once it does I’ll report on the prices. Also, there’s a new building going up- condos, i think- and it’s a really neat looking building (at least in it’s construction phase). It’s just south of Foster on Clark.

Posted by: Vanessa on February 2, 2003 9:56 PM

Reading Together

The website I designed for the KPL Reading Together program is now online. The featured book is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which I own but unfortunately haven’t read yet.

The library will be having a variety of community discussions about the book during the program’s time frame, so if you haven’t read the book and live in Kalamazoo it could be a cool thing to participate in.

This sort of reading initiative is similar to what a lot of cities are doing. In Chicago it’s called One Book, One Chicago and most recently featured To Kill a Mockingbird.



for(var i=0; i<anotherday.length; i++)

It’s a classic records sort of night. Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska following on the heels of The Stones Hot Rocks. It’s cold, it’s the Midwest, and goddamn it I could sleep for a week and not care.

This evening was spent schlepping around the last of the records and CDs my neighbor Bob left when he moved out. I ended up getting enough trade-in value to buy 3 CDs and a record. What’s left now is definitely not worth keeping, so the Salvation Army’s collection grows.

Thanks for everyone that came to the party Meredith and I had last weekend. Thanks especially to the unidentified gorilla for surprising us all, to Ivo for the painting, and to everyone from Kalamazoo for making the trip. Next time it’s a dance party.




I didn’t leave the house today. No shoes were put on, no cold air was felt. Generally it’s my policy to never let this happen. Sometimes working at home is more like sleeping at the office.

Lately I’ve been staying up until around 2 just to get some extra time to do things like read magazines and catch up on email. It’s very listless though, wandering from one thing to the next more as an excuse to not go to bed.

I have various winter projects that involve being in the basement, but unfortunately it’s too cold down there right now to do more than run laundry to the washer. Moped and light table are calling me — especially moped.



interesting- on this side of the world i spent a good chunk of the day shoveling massive amounts of snow, wet socks and the whole bit. Our first huge snow, my first real excercise this winter. Also, the cafe is now playing a heavily accented version of Roberta Flack’s/Lauren Hill’s “killing me softly”

Posted by: bil on January 23, 2003 10:49 AM

Dear Simon, It is 30 below outside, stay in the warmth as long as possible or I will get you…watch out.

Posted by: frost bite on January 23, 2003 11:23 PM

im not all down with this whole “cold” thing

Posted by: brian on January 25, 2003 12:37 PM

The Sea is Full

I’ve recently discovered the wonder of RSS powered newsfeed aggregators. While that might sounds complicated if you haven’t heard of them, it’s really pretty easy. RSS is an XML standard that allows people to syndicate their news/weblog content. A reader, or aggregator, checks out these files every so often and tells you when things are updated. Beyond that, lots of feeds let you read the content directly in the program without launching a browser at all. This lets you stay on top of weblog updates without spending all day checking the site over and over again.

For Mac folks there’s NetNewsWire and for Widows I recommend Syndirella. Both are free and easy to use. Plus, lots of people have RSS feeds without even knowing it. Nearly all popular weblog packages automatically set it up. For example, anyone who is using Live Journal or Moveable Type probably already has a feed.

If someone is using Movable Type their feed is probably named index.rdf, index.rss, or index.xml. Examples I found from people who probably don’t even know they were publishing one are Ivo, Miguel, and Meredith. For Live Journal the file is located like this: Everyone who uses their service automatically has a feed in the rss directory off of their account.

Mine is located right here, and includes the full content of the posts.

Yesterday I tried to go to a release party for the new Sea and Cake album at the Hideout. It was advertised as a free event to listen to the new CD, but word on the street said they were playing live by surprise. I guess everyone else knew that too because when I showed up right on time it was already sold out.



yes I have a friends list feed, but I’ve been told that if I get a paid accound I can add non LJ logs to this list; perhaps this is away around having to pay and still being able to see my other friends log entries

Posted by: bil on January 22, 2003 11:10 AM

I later found out we were not “right on time.” The doors opened at 7:00 pm, show started at 10:00 pm. Neither the Hideout website or Thrill Jockey website stated this clearly.

Posted by: ivo on January 22, 2003 11:13 AM

yeah, i knew about the rss thing on my weblog. i took the link out because i don’t know of anyone who’d want to syndicate my content. but if you want to set up a syndicate page for people you know, feel free to include my weblog. another great thing about rss is that it basically makes bloggers into worldwide journalists. several political and current events weblogs operate this way. they post independently from around the world and many of them do a really good job of checking sources, doing research, etc. then they’re syndicated and spread around by other bloggers. imagine an international online newspaper that has no central “editor” but lots of journalists working through a cooperative “associated press newswire”. that’s my experience w/ the power of rss. this so-called “blogosphere” has been credited by some major newspapers of breaking stories (such as the recent trent lott issue, most of that was carried on the shoulders of weblogs). many journalists now read weblots (and also write them) as standard daily routine when checking their “beat”.

Posted by: miguel on January 22, 2003 12:49 PM

Does this in any way mean that I am famous?

Posted by: meredith on January 22, 2003 7:26 PM

P.S. nice title.

Posted by: meredith on January 22, 2003 7:27 PM

As soon as you advertised that you had switched to MT as your cms, I looked (and found) your feed. There are a lot of sites out there with an unkinked feed. The nice thing with NNW and a few others is RSS auto-discovery. You can give NNW a URL and if the author supplied the correct metadata tag, it will add the feed to your opml file. Now you need to include the comments in your feed.

Posted by: Adam on January 22, 2003 11:29 PM

Yeah, I discovered that Syndirella will read in that meta tag too. It also checks to see if there is a feed. Good idea about the comments. I might add those when I the time. By the way, what Adam is this? Your domain seems to be unregistered according to

Posted by: simon on January 22, 2003 11:45 PM

Sunday Night

I had to work this weekend. Not much, but enough to stymie my other ambitions. I have a handful of personal projects that I never seem to find enough time to make progress on.

The new issue of Wired Magazine has an interesting article discussing whether we might be recording too much of our lives. The author likens it to the idea of a perfect map, one that is drawn at a 1:1 scale. Although the map records the landscape without flaw, its size makes it worthless.

Photo books give way to gigabytes of images capturing every moment we have. Music collections that mirror our personalities morph into giant archives of “stuff we downloaded”. The affordability of storage only increases this situation. Do we save more than we’ll ever use? Do things mean more if they’re in scarce supply? In a way, I think they do.

The other issue is that our digital memories can be perfectly replicated. How much value do we attach to something when we have an exact backup? I know that every one of my vinyl records means more to me because I could easily scratch and ruin them. Why does the fragility of the object make me like it more?

For those that read Evil Bill’s weblog, be sure to check out the photos of him on someone else’s Live Journal. We finally have photographic proof that he’s not just living in Detroit. Hi Bill.

I have a dilemma with a cat that hangs around my house. Just now was the second time today that I had to let it out of our basement. I was alerted to it being there by its awful crying noise and clawing at the door. I have no idea how it slinks its way into our area of the basement, or even down into the main basement. Both times I’ve let it back outside and given it some food to eat, but its freezing cold. I can’t let her into the house because Birdie would freak out. The basement isn’t much warmer than outside. She’s not really my responsibility, but I’d feel terrible she didn’t make it through the winter.



how’d you do it? And so fast. Do you own the internet? Are you my big brother?

Posted by: bil on January 20, 2003 10:41 AM

Actually, I’m a private investigator hired by your mother to keep tabs on you while you’re in Japan.

Posted by: simon on January 20, 2003 11:27 AM

who’s that girl? i also saw bill on her weblog (following bill’s links). is she bill’s new girlfriend? i’m posting here to not jinx it if she reads it. she’s cute. go for it bill!

Posted by: miguel on January 20, 2003 1:28 PM

simon, i think wired has a good point in the article. but it also comes down to some important differences. first, people in the past did have access to highly detailed memory maps. the upper crust of society spent a lot of time keeping detailed diaries and memoirs of the little boring details of what they did and when. historians often use them for their precise dating and detail (we know, for example, just how many quail king louis xiv killed a week before the attack on versailles). the difference is that now this is more widely accessible. and yet … it’s not. the percentage of people who use all these digital memory media are still a minority of the total population. so, while we know in detail what some people’s lives are like, the majority of people’s lives will be lost to history (much like the life of peasants in the middle ages). i think it still comes down to us being selective about what we do w/ our digital lives. are we just ego-fetishists? or something else? my favorite weblogs to read are actually subject-oriented weblogs. aside from liking to keep up w/ the lives of friends who live far away, i read weblogs as form of literature-journalism.

Posted by: miguel on January 20, 2003 1:33 PM

I see what you’re saying about historical memory, and from that perspective archiving and having so much augmented memory is extremely valuable. What I wonder is if our own memories of things are actually enriched by so much recording of the event. Personally I’d like to start writing more about things that happened rather than relying on just photographs. Writing lends itself better to a subjective analysis of your life. I don’t know…personally I like photos and video because my memory is so poor that they jog it into remembering experiences that I might have forgotten otherwise. It’s one of those things where we might be losing something by how much we have access to, but the advantages might very well outweigh that loss.

Posted by: simon on January 20, 2003 1:49 PM

i have no girlfriend but this damn internet thing has begun to show me gaijin living all over the country that are both beautiful and interesting. Its going to be difficult to visit them all.

Posted by: bil on January 21, 2003 11:53 AM

“Why does the fragility of the object make me like it more?” Because we live in a capitalist society. Trite, but true.

Posted by: jim on January 22, 2003 10:22 AM


Posted by: me on January 25, 2003 12:44 PM

It’s ok to be cold

This morning the Chicago skyline presented itself humbly by becoming a silhouette and acting as a launch pad for the rising sun. Or maybe it was hoarding it, keeping all the warmth to itself while I wore gloves all the way until tolls were due. Either way, the light broke through just in time to illuminate both Hammond’s cloud makers and the morning mist coming off of the river.

Although the stretch of Indiana toll road to 94 is over 30 miles long, I like to think of it all as Gary. I love smoking, rusted, and decaying industrial spaces. I don’t want to stop, or live nearby, but I love to look. Train yards, iron factories, electrical plants. It’s like a strangely attractive facial scar.

The computer upgrades with my Dad were successful, though took a long time to set up. My haircut is great, but really short. Visiting Dan was good, but I wish I would have had more time. Trips to Kalamazoo via Sturgis make for a good day, though too long.



haircut pictures?

Posted by: bil on January 16, 2003 10:18 AM

More and more I am loving the industrial look in parts of the city. I wish I could have been co-pilot with you on the drive out of the city. It sounds like it was beautiful. I have only seen a Chicago sunrise a handful of times. We should arrange for it to happen more often, I’m thinking Krispy Kremes, coffee, and watching the sun come up over the skyline.

Posted by: Meredith on January 16, 2003 10:31 AM

yep, there’s nothing quite as majestic as the sunrise in a great city. i still vividly remember the way the sun seemed to summersault over the nyc skyline, pushing shadows in a hurried escape across central park. beat that rocky mountains!

Posted by: miguel on January 16, 2003 12:22 PM

This is the most poetic entry you have written. I always wanted an attractive facial scar, I thought I may be more like a young Al Pacino. I may not have scars but these days I am similar to the rusting, decaying industrial spaces.

Posted by: ivo on January 16, 2003 1:18 PM

mmm…krispy kremes….

Posted by: jim on January 16, 2003 6:14 PM

mmm…facial scar….

Posted by: jake on January 18, 2003 3:54 PM

Math Co-Processor Addons

I’m going to Sturgis tomorrow morning to help my Dad get his new computer up and running. He was an early adopter, buying an 8088 IBM PC compatible before I even remember. It had 512K of RAM, a 10MB hard drive, and two 5.25” floppy disc drives. He did his books through specialized farm management software. I played math games. I was lucky back then to grow up in a house that had a computer.

Unfortunately he hasn’t upgraded much since. About 5 years ago I got him a machine that runs DOS on with a blazing 486SX/25 under the hood. The machine he just bought is a Pentium 4 1.8Ghz. I can’t even calculate—that’s a whole decade faster.

Since he’s migrating his old data over to the new system I dug around and found all the utilities and things I might need while I’m there. I’ve packed a Zip drive for files transfer, three different boot discs, an extra CD-ROM drive and a bunch of disc utilities. This reminds me of the TCS days. While hunting for Zip disks I found one containing a ton of graphics I made while I was in high school. I’ll post some here later; they’re hilarious.

The other big event tomorrow is getting my haircut by Sarah. Now that my stylist is 3 hours away I always let my hair get totally unruly before dealing with it. It’s reached its peak, and can’t stand up under any longer due to its own weight.



stylist? *grin* jim

Posted by: jim on January 16, 2003 6:13 PM

I am curious to see these graphics man!

Posted by: ruth celine smith on January 22, 2003 10:05 AM

Color Correct

Whenever I’m trying to avoid doing work that I really need to get done, I adjust the color of my monitor. It always ends up being an extremely long task where I consult various websites about color correction and spend a ridiculous amount of time staring at color charts as I tweak minor settings. Per normal, in the end I’m slightly happier with my color and gamma settings. I’m always worried that their off from the norm though.

One thing that I decided during this round of settings is that I’m glad I don’t have to color correct to for print based work. Generally if you’re monitor is set up to show accurate print color everything else looks like shit.

Yesterday I went to the Secretary of State and got my license plates switched over to my new truck. While I was there I decided to get my Illinois drivers license too. Overall, my experience was much more enjoyable than the SOS in Michigan. I was constantly in the process of getting something done—never waiting around in a line. The way they accomplish this is by making everything a huge multi-step procedure. In the course of doing everything I needed to I interacted with 9 different employees. My only criticism is that they were a little too rushed, and far too rude. Unless you know exactly what you wanted and were familiar with all procedures related to it you feel intimidated.

It turns out that Illinois charges a different sales tax for vehicles than they do for other products. Normal tax is 8.75%, but vehicles is only 7% in Chicago and 6.25% elsewhere in the state. It must be some sort of incentive to purchase cars, and ended up saving me around about $250.

Tonight at the Empty Bottle I’m going to go see some the Thrill Jocky stylings of Archer Prewitt and Lonesome Organist. Archer’s latest album is really great.



Steve Jobby Jobs

So everyone’s favorite CEO Steve Jobs has given another one of his famous MacWorld Expo keynote speeches where he announces new products from Apple. Along with some new Powerbooks and an OSX version of X11 comes Safari, Apple’s entry into the web browser market. It’s faster and more OS integrated than any other Mac browser, but I’m disappointed with their choice of codebase. Rather than base it on Mozilla they chose KHTML, the rendering engine of the KDE desktop environment. This means yet another codebase that I need to test everyone I make on, and I don’t even own a machine that will run it. Luckily, a list of bugs has already been started.

On top of that, it apparently runs the Flash plug-in like shit. Just as the Flash 6 plug-in was making performance on a Mac more reasonable, this brings the experience back to a miserable level compared to the equivalent movie running on Windows.

In other technology news, eBay has release the eBay toolbar for IE/Windows. It lets you search eBay easily, has quick links to the items you’re bidding on, and uses your watch list to give you updates within Windows, not just by email. It actually brings up a reminder that your acution is ending down on the right hand corner of the screen. It’s nice that even though it’s an IE toolbar, it has features outside of the browser.

Another thing I like is that it lets you browse categories in a cascading list, rather than clicking through them on the website.

EDIT: I need to slip another link into this post—Stories about ticket stubs. Great idea.



yes, steve jobs is my favorite ceo. oh, and so far safari is working great.

Posted by: miguel on January 7, 2003 10:55 PM

I’m sure it does work great - no doubt about that. It’s not if it’s okay for the average web surfer that I’m concerned with, it’s that it’s an entirely different open source codebase. As long as it’s open source, why not contribute to the Mozilla project instead? That way the rendering is the same, Apple can add its own bells and whistles and even optimize for speed — all without creating web developers having to worry about different rendering engines. Open source brings up the opportunity to eliminate the harmful effects of competition (different rendering engines everywhere!), and focus on the good aspects of competition (speed, features).

Posted by: simon on January 7, 2003 11:03 PM

I have found that I can’t add new sites to my phreakco portal with safari.

Posted by: allison on January 8, 2003 10:39 AM

Luckily I plan on completely re-writing that thing sometime soon. It’s old and buggy.

Posted by: simon on January 8, 2003 11:50 AM

yeah, i can’t really use phreakco w/ safari either. i’ll report that to apple using the “bug report” feature. this is still a beta release … so hopefully the full version will work better. my guess as to why apple didn’t use the mozilla engine is that lots of apple users have abandoned the mozilla engine. it gets a lot of bad press.

Posted by: miguel on January 8, 2003 11:51 AM

Don’t bother to report it; I’m sure it’s the Phreakco Portal’s fault. It was written years ago and I’m contains numerous bugs and non-standard code. Bad press hasn’t been against the Mozilla engine, but against the front ends that have been put on top of it. The various flavors of Netscape 6 and 7 are an example. This isn’t the fault of the Mozilla codebase. Other people have built much more refined browser on top of Mozilla - for example Chimera. That’s the beauty of it. Even the “mozilla” browser is just a different front end for its own engine. Anyone can build a new front end and tweak the performance without touching the codebase, which is near flawless in its support for XHTML, JavaScript, CSS1 and CSS2.

Posted by: simon on January 8, 2003 12:00 PM

i agree simon, there are better mozilla browsers out there than netscape. but i’m still waiting for something to be as amazing as ie5.2. even safari doesn’t top it (yet).

Posted by: miguel on January 8, 2003 11:43 PM

It’s true that IE is good. The only thing I don’t like about it is it’s speed at redering large pages.

Posted by: simon on January 8, 2003 11:47 PM

Live and recorded

I went and saw Bob Nanna, The Geese and Owen tonight at the Fireside Bowl. The Geese sound exactly like I expected (ex-American Football sans Mike Kinsella), and Owen (the aforementioned Kinsella) sounded as good as he does on his recordings. I was curious to see what Bob Nanna was like by himself, and ended up being disappointed. He played a couple new songs and covers but mainly Braid classics. The solo versions of old material made for a depressing set that felt lacking. I think he’d be better if he sang songs that I haven’t already heard a full band perform. He’s released one split cd by himself, which I’d like to hear.

It turns out that my secondary computer that I was going to make an MP3 server doesn’t recognize my new 120GB hard drive. I guess I could expect that from its 1997 bios, but I was hoping to have a good use for it. Instead the drive is in my main system that I’m typing this from, and tomorrow I’ll copy all 53 of my MP3 cd’s onto it. I can’t wait to have all my music in one spot.



I can’t wait to have all of your music on our shared server. Yippie whippie.

Posted by: meredith on January 5, 2003 1:11 PM


The calendar shows it’s a new year, but it doesn’t feel like it yet. Last year at this time I quit my job, and this year I think I’ll do the same. I’ve been living off freelance design work for exactly one year, and I think I need to stop. I need to work with people, on something larger than I can do myself, on something outside of the place where I sleep.

Freeze-O-Ween went well in Kalamazoo, and it was great to see Josh and Bill again. They’ll be heading across their respective oceans soon, teaching English to the natives. I had a lot of fun with everyone, and dressing up as the Royal Tenebaums was a genius move. It’s bitter-sweet though, with the bitter coming only now that I’m back. Chicago feels like home now, and Kalamazoo gives me strange and mixed emotions. I miss the days when I didn’t analyze my life so much; I just lived. I was really happy to see everyone though. Meredith and I will be having a party later this month; I hope you all can come.

Photos from Freeze-O-Ween

Some photos by Dave Brzezicki



you all make genius tennebaums. coffee/breakfast/lunch next week? let me know. i have a Big Plan i’d like you to share with me….

Posted by: jim on January 2, 2003 5:23 PM

one always analyzes one’s life when having new more grand expereiences…. its a part of one’s growth. damn it is cold today.

Posted by: ruth celine smith on January 22, 2003 10:02 AM

As far as who can tell?

Chicago, IL

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