As Far As I Can Tell


I’m not going to dwell on it, but happy new year to everyone. These milestones divide our lives, for better or worse.

Update (2-1-2004):
I’ve been meaning to put up photos from New Years, but haven’t had the chance. I still plan on it, so check back if you’re interested. As a teaser, I should really note that they will contain scenes from the “Cobra rap”.

I went to Freeze-O-Ween and was the only person not dressed up besides Meredith. I guess we were both too busy to get excited about it.



dwell… you can’t dwell… you just push forward. by the way, i’m starting a campaign against fuzzy nostaligia. i’m really tired of people talking about “the good old days” like they’re in a fucking bruce springsteen song. when they really weren’t any happier or things weren’t any better, just different… i look to the future… and the new year is a great place to start.

Posted by: e_prime on January 1, 2004 1:02 PM

dwelling is bad. learning is good. and the future is amazing.

Posted by: miguel on January 1, 2004 1:42 PM

I say focus on the good in both the past and the future. Oh, I also say post the video of the Cobra Elite Rap.

Posted by: josh on January 5, 2004 7:22 PM

Dwelling is fine. It’s a luxury like red wine or cigars. Just don’t be a habitual dweller.

Posted by: John on January 13, 2004 9:42 PM

it’s time to update this shit

Posted by: meredith on January 16, 2004 9:52 PM

i agree with meredith.

Posted by: jim on January 19, 2004 3:02 AM

yeah, how’s teaching going?

Posted by: e on January 20, 2004 8:25 AM

The Archives

I’m at my parent’s house for Christmas and I’m staying in my old room, or what is now referred to as the “spare room”. It’s quite a bit different from when it had my name attached to it. Back then floppy disks doubled as a decretive trim around the door and now stacks of suitcases are the motif. Neither one makes much sense.

I turned tonight, as I usually do during my rare overnight stays in Sturgis, to the basement and the crawlspace in this bedroom. Both are storage spots for all the items I would never want to throw away, but don’t have room for on a daily basis. The basement holds the most recent items - with more added before each move to and from Chicago. The really dated memories that surprise me when seeing them are always in the crawlspace.

They range from over a decade to around 7 years ago. My first computer, tons of 8-track tapes I bought during high school for some reason, old Punk Planet, PC World, CMJ, and Alternative Press magazines. Better yet, the zines I was making myself during those confused high school years: Nine Ton Beefhead and Free Verse, plus all the submissions that were given to me for both. Behind those treasures, tucked way in the back of crawlspace so that only I would be able to slip through and find them, are the manila envelopes.

These are the madness. Most contain nothing but receipts and papers. For a period of time I thought that this was a fabulous way of memorializing time periods. I would collect things from my day like show flyers or business cards. Then I would empty my pockets at night into a giant bowl that would be emptied into an envelope when it was full. Actually, I still like looking though things like this. It brings out the memories that normally slip by, like the Kids in the Hall movie I went to see in South Bend, the lines of computer code I copied out of Byte magazine while fulfilling a Saturday school detention for unauthorized copy machine usage, or the band lineup at the first Michigan Fest I ever want to. These are the artifacts that bring out the rest of an experience which might otherwise have stayed hidden. My memory needs clues.

The best unexpected find was a cassette tapes labeled “Emily and Tanda Karaoke: 1/19/1994”. Emily is my sister, and Tanda her best friend at the time. I remember the scene of the taping perfectly. They were down in my room in the basement of the Robin Hood Trail house in Sturgis. Being in my ultra geeky audiophile phase I had recently hooked up surround sound speakers, a microphone, and a radio shack mixer into my stereo system. I don’t remember what track it was, but I believe it was the audio only b-side of some cassette single I had that they decided to sing along to. Having a blank tape already loaded I slyly hit record as they began. I never told them I was recording it, I just clearly labeled it and tucked it away with the hopes of embarrassingly revealing it later. Of course I forgot about it until today.

I haven’t listened to it yet, but tomorrow after presents are opened and after nearly a decade in storage, the tape will debut.



oh simon, you sly devil.

Posted by: jake on December 26, 2003 8:28 PM

A sly and altogether too dorky 14 year old me…yes. The tape turned out to have K.W.S.’s “Please Don’t Go” and the Village People with their standard “Y.M.C.A.”. One acronym band and one acronym song.

Posted by: simon on December 26, 2003 8:40 PM

I cannot imagine singing along to “Please don’t go”. Didn’t they repeat that phrase around one hundred times in the extended dance version?

Posted by: caleb on December 27, 2003 9:52 AM

Yep. They just repeated the title line over and over and over again.

Posted by: simon on December 27, 2003 10:55 AM

those envelopes are an art installation wiiting to happen. you know that, right? fascinating. i drove past k-zoo (and sturgis) on the way to and from detroit this week. i was going to see football. it all reminded me of how very much i need to visit. email me sometime.

Posted by: jim on December 28, 2003 5:37 AM

Searching Ink

Recent feature additions to two of the most popular sites on the web have gotten me interested in the possibilities they’re hinting at. The first is Search Inside the Book at Amazon, a system capable of doing full text searches of nearly 120,000 books. For example, try searching through Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. From that link you can view the covers and table of contents. If you have an Amazon account you can search the entire book and view particular pages that contain your search. Note that you aren’t just reading web text — it’s an actual scan of the page in the book that contains your query.

Imagine the serendipitous finds that result when you realize that books on a topic you’d never look into contain references or passages you’re interested in. The boon to multi-disciplinary research is huge, and finding every forward or quote from you favorite author is a snap.

The other new service, now in beta, is Google Print. It doesn’t have it’s own tab on the homepage yet, but with it you can search for books, and even read the first chapter of many. Currently Google is the undisputed leader of information gathering on the web, but the web is only a fraction of our information resources. The troubling thing is that the since it’s far easier to use Google than your local library the marginal and often less credible sources from the Internet are the only ones we find.

Luckily the Google mission to “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” doesn’t limit itself to the web. They’ve already delved into catalogs, and bringing more print based data online is going to make universally accessible information an even closer reality.

What I really like about these two services is that while they recognize the desire and need to search the entire text of a book, they don’t attempt to create e-book libraries. Contrary to the ideas of futurists in the mid ’90s, people have shown that print isn’t dead, and few people would want it to be. We love our books with their ink and paper. We love the covers that hold these packages of knowledge and beauty together. But sometimes we want to find information quickly, and during those times searching through our ink on paper would be a big help.

These services, especially Search Inside the Book, respect the physical object while giving us the added value of a digital version. It doesn’t replace the book, and has powerful restrictions built in to keep people who might try from attempting to use it as such. You can’t view the entire book at once, but you can get in to verify that what you need is there before purchasing.

This sort digital + physical compromise is the kind of technology that paves the way for a shift in what kind of information we think about finding online. There’s still excitement on the Internet.

See also:



That is just freakin’ amazing. I love the internet more than before. I love information.

Posted by: miguel on December 19, 2003 3:45 PM

It is very cool. It is not just the information that is great, we have had access to huge amounts of information for a long time, it is the easy, simple, and instant access to it and our ability to search for it in a manner that suits us best.

Posted by: caleb on December 22, 2003 10:36 AM

All I want for Christmas is Challah

It’s the holiday season, and today the weather decided to drive that point home to me. Of course the real problem is I was underdressed, sporting the same outerwear as in September. You see, today I’m wearing gray pants, and that limits the number of coats that I can use. Is it really worth being cold just so you don’t have to wear brown and grey together? Oddly…yes.

I have lots going on right now, but that’s good. I had bail on one of my freelance jobs due to lack of time though — which I feel kind of shitty about. It was a nice project; I just didn’t have the time to make any progress on it. Yesterday I finished a photography website I was doing, and I’m going to be starting the Rocket Star Cafe site soon.

Speaking of the Rocket Star…well, I won’t get into it here. Dan and Bill — I know you can do this. It’s a shitty situation to be in, but once you pull through and open for business everything is going to look up. It’s still going to be all that you wanted it to be. I can’t wait to hang out there.

Other big news is that starting next semester I’ll be teaching a class, ART356, at Western. It’s a web design class and due to some staffing changes in the art department they were going to have to drop it if they couldn’t find a teacher, so they asked me. I’m excited about it, but pretty nervous. I’ll be sure to write about as once classes start.

Last weekend was Chicago Thanksgiving at Ivo and Andrea’s house. Delicious.

Chicago Thanksgiving

Chicago Thanksgiving

Chicago Thanksgiving

Chicago Thanksgiving



and hey—if you need some recommend college teaching reads, let me know. if i can teach many classes in subjects i don’t know, you can teach a web design class.

Posted by: jim on December 12, 2003 5:12 AM

yay! our plan worked! seriously, simon, it’s nice to see you writing again. we need to hang next time you’re in chicago. so much is changing for me. email me or something.

Posted by: jim on December 12, 2003 5:12 AM

hey, congrats on the teaching gig. i’m sure you’ll be great at it. don’t take it too seriously (e.g. all strict and such, not that you would) and you’ll have a great time.

Posted by: miguel on December 12, 2003 4:37 PM

That is really cool that you are teaching at WMU. In fact, everything always seems very exciting around you…good. Here’s some pointer for ya…now keep in mind that I work in a very different environment…. First day of class, find teh biggest guy you can, and break that son-of-a-bitch in two. Take him down hard, it’ll let everyone know you mean business. Also, keep you back to the wall, but don’t look like you are trying to keep your back to the wall. Don’t look at the food, just eat it, an don’t look at anyone else’s food. And remember to tell them about WYSIWYG. If you keep those things in mind, you should do just fine.

Posted by: josh on December 13, 2003 2:16 PM

Just make sure you don’t start telling people you did the intro credits to Alien Ressurection or other ficticious stories. Don’t you wish you had a teacher like yourself when you were a student there? Lucky kids. I’m sure you’ll do a great job. Best wishes.

Posted by: Vanessa on December 14, 2003 12:41 PM

Hey, can I take that class??

Posted by: allisonspicer on December 14, 2003 6:36 PM

Thanks for all the support everyone.

Posted by: simon on December 14, 2003 10:45 PM

As far as who can tell?

Chicago, IL

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