Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

You know what would be great? Let me tell you what would be great—you can write this down, if you want:

It would be great if I had something to write about. I’ve been thinking about my novel for the last few days—thinking about it, and not writing it. Right now I have the perfect opportunity to write; Andrea is upstairs, working on her book, and I’m sitting on the couch with my laptop. In fact, I’d got the laptop out with the specific goal of doing some writing. But I didn’t, and I’ll tell you why: I don’t feel like it.

This week is going to continue being crappy, I think, and it’s affecting my emotions. It’s hard to write when you can’t concentrate on it. So, instead of writing, I’m sitting on the couch, watching James Bond movies (Die Another Day was on when I wrote this). If I was better at self deception, I’d claim [to myself] that I was watching the movies for inspiration, since my novel is marginally related to spying. But I’m not good at self deception—I haven’t been since I became a Christian—so I can’t claim that.

I was on the verge of putting in Spy Game, which is a great spy movie, but I just watched it fairly recently, so I figured I should leave it, for a while, so I don’t get sick of it. I’ve been meaning to get The Recruit on DVD for a long time, which is another pretty good spy movie, but just never got around to it. Some day I’ll see it in a $7 bin or something, and buy it, but I’m not really in a hurry. I don’t know why I like spy movies so much; it might be because I’d be such a lousy spy, if I ever tried it.

I’ll finish off this post with a couple of random thoughts.

  • I was reading Raymi’s blog today, and found out that she’s lost her previous domain name. It used to be owned by her ex—if I remember correctly—but now seems to have been sold to someone else.
  • I’m still very much enjoying my new phone.
  • I got quoted in a friend’s blog today. I’m not the only one who can copy and paste MSN Messenger conversations—always with permission, of course—into his blog. Actually, I was tempted to copy and paste some of the conversation here, too, but it occurred near the end of the day, and I didn’t have time to do it all.
  • According to a special feature on one of the 007 DVDs, about the music in James Bond movies, the last record Louis Armstrong ever recorded was for a Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Along the same lines, the last song that Duran Duran ever wrote together was the theme song for another Bond movie, A View To A Kill.

Email Problems

I subscribe to Rogers Cable for my internet access, which means that I can access my email through Yahoo, since Rogers and Yahoo have some kind of deal set up.

But for the last few weeks or so, my home page has been malfunctioning, and all I see is this on my homepage:

I don’t really have anything to say about it; just that I wish Yahoo would do something to fix it.

Thank you for allowing me to waste your time. You will not be reimbursed.

It never rains, but it sometimes pours

And right now, it’s thunderstorming.

From yesterday afternoon to this morning, I’ve been hit with numerous issues, all of which are major. Of course, I can’t tell you what they are, because they’re all work-related.

This week is going to suck, I think.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Simpsons Trivia: Grampa

Simpsons fans will probably already know this, but for lack of anything else to write about right now—and since I have a couple of minutes to kill—I thought I’d share this.

Many people will know that Matt Groening created the Simpsons, and will probably also know that he named the main characters in the show after members of his own family: Homer and Margaret (Marge) are his parents, Lisa and Maggie are his sisters. “Bart” is simply an anagram for “brat”.

Now, here’s the “fun fact”, based on a commentary from some season 2 of the Simpson DVDs. The character of Grampa on the Simpsons had always simply been called Grampa, and at one point the writers had to come up with a name for him. They decided on Abe, or Abraham. Which, coincidentally enough, turned out to be Matt Groening’s real grandpa’s name.


This is neat. Enjoy!


Friday, February 24, 2006

Writing - Or Lack Thereof

I haven’t written anything in a long time. I’m sure I haven’t done anything significant on any of my books in 2006; I did some quick tweaking on the novel last week, but I got interrupted in the middle, and then when I went back to it I wasn’t in the same “writing groove”, so I just discarded whatever I’d done. I figured I’d be able to do the same thing again, the next time I’m ready to write, and with more time on my hands, I could probably do it properly.

I do feel somewhat guilty, for not having written anything. Especially on the novel, which is where my focus is—which is silly in and of itself, because my focus should be on the Christian book, God in the Driver’s Seat, since it’s almost done. I’ve even set up a Blogger site for it, where I’ll publish it, but it’s just sitting empty right now. I wanted to snap it up before anyone else did—which is dumb, because I somehow doubt that there will be a rush for the name godinthedriversseat.blogspot.com... The funny thing is, once the book is actually finished, I’ll then have to work on the look of that site, which will involve a bunch of HTML and CSS. And that’s the part that I’ll really enjoy. I’m such a nerd, eh?

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Hmm. I notice I haven’t posted anything to my blog today. Or even that much this entire week.

Oh well. Nothing I can do about it now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Email - and lots of it!

If you’re new to the “corporate world”, or are thinking of joining it, I’d like to give you a heads-up on a situation you’re likely to encounter. It goes like this:

A large company probably has a group specifically designated to look after the email servers. This group may be as small as one person, for a small company, to a group of people, for a larger company. At some point, someone in that group will decide to create a “mailing list”, that can be used to easily send emails to a large group of people. Maybe even to everyone in the company.

So far so good.

However, once that mailing list is created, the person who created it often feels a need to send an email to it, to test it out. So they do, and a large number of people—sometimes numbering in the hundreds or even thousands—gets an email, out of the blue, saying something like “test email to the XYZGroup”. This is where the trouble starts.

Some of the people who got that email will start to wonder why. “What is this XYZGroup?” they’re thinking to themselves. So they do a Reply All, to the group, to say “Why was I sent this email?” Because they hit Reply All, instead of just Reply, these response emails also go to the entire mailing list. Not everyone will do this, mind you; but a certain percentage of people is guaranteed to do it—like I’ve said, I’ve seen it a few times—so the larger the mailing list, the more people who will do this.

So what happens next? Well, now there are a bunch of emails which are being sent out to a bunch of people, and people are starting to get very annoyed. So we enter the next phase: a bunch of people will send out new emails, also by hitting Reply All, asking people to stop sending emails. So these emails are added to the group of emails already sent—meaning that the email is starting to pile up, in everyone’s Inbox!

Now here’s the really funny part: For a really large mailing list, that includes thousands of people, the email server needs time to process any email sent to the mailing list. So it will take some time before everyone on the mailing list gets each message. So the problem exacerbates itself, because people hit Reply All before they even realize how many other emails are out there, waiting to be delivered.

It works something like this:

  1. Mail administrator sends first email to the mailing list. Let’s say it’s to 1,000 people.
  2. In the first 5 minutes, it gets delivered to 100 people. (I’m making numbers up out of my head, for the sake of discussion.)
  3. Out of those 100 people, 10 hit Reply All, and ask “Why are you sending this to me?” These emails don’t get sent right away, though, because the email server is still busily chugging away, trying to finish sending the first email.
  4. In the next 5 minutes, that first email gets delivered to the next 100 people, and out of them, 10 also hit Reply All, to ask why they got it—not knowing that there are a bunch of other emails on their way, asking the same thing. There are now 21 emails on their way to various peoples’ Inboxes.
  5. Eventually, someone ends up with an Inbox full of 21 emails, and wants it to stop. So this person sends a new email, to the mailing list, asking people to stop sending emails. This new email gets added to the pile. Meanwhile, the first email is still getting delivered to people, who are still hitting Reply All to ask why.
  6. At the same time, 20 other people get the same idea, and send similar emails—but because the server is so bogged down, and it’s taking so long for emails to get through, they don’t realize that all of the other 19 people are doing the same thing.
By the time the smoke clears, and people stop sending all of the emails, there are hundreds or even thousands that have piled up. And usually, by the end, people are getting pissed, and it shows in their emails, as they’re telling everyone else to stop sending emails, calling them fools for hitting Reply All, etc. etc.

Once, at a previous company I worked at, this happened, and it shut down their email servers for 3 days, as they struggled to catch up and deliver all of these thousands upon thousands of emails that had to be sent.

If you’re used to it—as I’m starting to get used to it—it’s kind of funny. If you’re not, it’s extremely frustrating. But if it happens, here’s a hint on how to handle it: As soon as you see this type of situation starting to occur, create a folder in your email client specifically for these emails, and set up a rule to move any emails to that mailing list to your new folder (assuming that you can do this with your email client). That way, all of the noise will go there, and you can concentrate on the real emails. When the flow of emails begins to decrease, you can delete all of those emails, and get on with your life.

Monday, February 20, 2006


This morning—or afternoon, I can’t remember which—as I was typing out a blog entry, I decided that I should put more pictures in my blog. Like, for instance, if I was posting about the fact that I just had canneloni for lunch, I should include a picture of canneloni on my blog entry. Or if I’m writing about how hard work is, I should include a picture of a guy hanging himself. You know, that kind of thing. I figured that a lot of the other blogs I read do that, so I should to.

But I’m not going to, unless I can think of a good reason to, or it would be a good joke. So if I got your hopes up there, for a second, I apologize.


I’ve been thinking about it, lately, and I know why I want to be a writer. And it’s not because I want to be a writer.

If you read or watch interviews with “real” writers, they always talk about having this internal drive to write. “The story just needs to come out.” They didn’t choose to be writers, they were born that way. Blah blah blah—I’m sure a lot of it is window dressing, with the writers coming up with a dramatic story about themselves, for the audience. But on the other hand, most successful writers got to where they are by hard work; working at some other job for the money, during the day, and then coming home and writing the night away. Piling up rejection letter after rejection letter, until some publisher/agent decided to take a chance on them. That’s not something you do unless you have at least some drive.

But I don’t have that drive. Oh, to be sure, I have it sometimes. If I hadn’t started work on God in the Driver’s Seat I would have gone crazy, because I was thinking about it all the time. Similarly, with my novel, I get the drive to work on it from time to time, but at this point it would be a stretch to call it a “work in progress”—I haven’t done anything on it in months. If I were a real writer, I’d be going home every night after work and spending some time on it, with a set goal; perhaps an hour every night, or 10 pages every night, or something along those lines. And I don’t.

I also don’t want to do it for the money. First of all, I know that most writers don’t make a lot of money; people like Stephen King are exceptions to the rule, not the rule. And I’m okay with that. To paraphrase Paul, I’ve been rich (relatively), and I’ve been poor (literally), and I learned to be content with each.

So why do I want to be a writer? It’s the lifestyle. I like the idea of being able to work at home. I like the idea of having a job where I would be required—yes, I say required—to read a lot, because that would be part of honing my craft. I love the idea of having a job where I wouldn’t have set meetings I have to go to, and I wouldn’t have to wear “business casual”, and I wouldn’t have to deal with clients. (Just readers, editors, publishers, agents, etc. Sure, it may not end up being much of a tradeoff...) I like the idea of having a job where, if I didn’t feel the creative juices flowing, I could goof off and watch Simpsons DVDs for an afternoon, instead of writing. Or, if I couldn’t sleep some night because I did feel the creative juices flowing, I could jump on the computer and get my thoughts down.

Also, I like the idea that if my book gets popular enough, some day I might get interviewed on The Daily Show. Of course, I have to ask ahead of time if I’ll be interviewed on the show, by Jon, or if I’ll be interviewed by someone else. If it’s someone else, chances are they want to make me look silly, and I’ll have to turn them down... And if I get asked by Stephen Colbert, for The Colbert Report, I’ll have to think hard about that, too. I don’t like his interviews—I find them kind of boring.

But I seem to have wandered from the point here. The point is this: I want to be a writer, but for all the wrong reasons.

Nothing important enough to read

Today’s going to be a weird day. (I say “going to be” even though it’s already half over.) I have two meetings I’m not looking forward to—one work-related and one not—and I have to do some work of a type that I don’t normally do, meaning that I won’t do it well. (I took a couple of cracks at that the phrasing for that sentence, and didn’t come up with anything I was happy with. So I left it as written.)

So now, as is often the case when I’m finding the time to write a blog entry, I’m not really doing anything. Just killing time, until one of those meetings starts. And waiting for a response to an email I sent to my manager. And wondering if it’s worth it to grab some lunch. (It probably is.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Grey Drive Home

One of the last things someone said to me before I left work was that the weather was pretty bad, to which I replied that it wasn’t too bad where I am. And then I drove home, and discovered the awful truth...

This last one was meant to show that my side mirror was caked in ice—my own fault, for forgetting to clean it—but I don’t know if the picture really conveys that.

In case you were wondering, yes, I took these pictures while I was driving. An incredibly dangerous thing to do—especially in this weather!

Chomsky Interview

Everyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I’m a fan of Noam Chomsky. (And if they don’t, they’ll figure it out if they keep reading my blog, because I mention him often enough...)

So, in that light, feel free to check out an interview he did with Andy Clark, from Radio Netherlands, on December 18, 2005. To whet your appetite, here is a quote:

Andy Clark: Another criticism that is sometimes levelled against you goes back to Cambodia and some of your writings there. This is from Noah Cooperman from Florida in the US

Noah’s email: “Does the Professor harbour any feelings of guilt for acting as an apologist for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge during the period of the genocide in Cambodia. Or is mass murder by leftwing extremists still acceptable?”

Noam Chomsky: I would ask the listener whether he harbours any guilt for having supported Hitler and the Holocaust and insisting the Jews be sent to extermination camps. It has the same answer. Since it never happened, I obviously can’t have any guilt for it. He’s just repeating propaganda he heard. If you ask him, you’ll discover that he never read one word I wrote. Try it. What I wrote was, and I don’t have any apologies for it because it was accurate, I took the position that Pol Pot was a brutal monster, from the beginning was carrying out hideous atrocities, but the West, for propaganda purposes, was creating and inventing immense fabrications for its own political goals and not out of interest for the people of Cambodia. And my colleague and I with whom I wrote all this stuff simply ran through the list of fanatic lies that were being told and we took the most credible sources, which happened to be US intelligence, who knew more than anyone else. And we said US intelligence is probably accurate. In retrospect, that turns out to be correct, US intelligence was probably accurate. I think we were the only ones who quoted it. The fabrications were fabrications and should be eliminated. In fact, we also discussed, and I noticed nobody ever talks about this, we discussed fabrications against the US. For example a standard claim in the major works was that the US bombings had killed 600,000 people in 1973. We looked at the data and decided it was probably 200,000. So we said let’s tell the truth about it. It’s a crime, but it’s not like anything you said. It’s interesting that nobody ever objects to that. When we criticize fabrications about US crimes, that’s fine, when we criticize and in fact expose much worse fabrications about some official enemy, that’s horrible, it becomes apologetics. We should learn something about ourselves. If you’re interested in the truth, which you ought to be, tell the truth about yourself and tell the truth about others. These fabrications had an obvious political purpose. Incidentally, we continually criticize the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese invasion. After the Vietnamese invasion, which finally threw them out thankfully, the US and Britain immediately turned to support Pol Pot. Well, we criticized that, too, we said, no, you shouldn’t be supporting this monster. So yes, our position was consistent throughout. There’s been a huge literature trying to show that there was something wrong in what we said. To my knowledge, nobody’s even found a comma that’s misplaced. And therefore what you have is immense gossip. My guess is that the person who just wrote this in has never seen anything we wrote, but has heard a lot of gossip about it.

Consider this a comment, rather than a blog entry...

Since I have friends who have set up blogs on Yahoo 360, and I can’t comment on them without joining Yahoo 360, this is my only recourse... hehe

I would like to congratulate a friend on his new job. (He knows who he his.) It sounds like it’s been a long time coming, and I wish him the best.

Also, I would like to mention this, which will be completely out of the blue for most people reading my blog: Blogger also has a “Recover Post” feature, which can be used if you accidentally close the browser window, or get disconnected, or whatnot. But it has the same limitations as Yahoo 360; it may or may not work, it may or may not have all of the text from the post you were editing before you lost the editing window, etc. etc.

From their help file:

  • This feature is not guaranteed to work every time you lose a post, but it’s certainly worth a shot.
  • You’ll need to be logged in to the same blog that lost the post, on the same browser and within 30 minutes of losing your post in order for this to work.
  • Only up to about 3k worth of text can be recovered, so parts of longer posts may still be lost. This limit should be enough for most average blog posts, though.
  • Don’t type anything new in the posting form before trying to recover or that new text may overwrite your old cookie.

serna Health Update

Well, most good things must come to an end, and I may be succumbing to the cold that I mentioned yesterday.

At the last minute we had to go to the emergency room last night, because someone we know was there, and I ended up going to bed late, and forgetting to take any Vitamin C. And then having to get up early today for a 9:00 meeting—which was moved at the last minute, meaning that I got up early for nothing—and forgetting to take Vitamin C again sealed the deal. I’m feeling the symptoms again, and this time, they’re staying with me.

So I foresee sick days in my near future, but who knows? Maybe with my newfound powers of recuperation, I’ll somehow manage to fight this off, and not have to take any time off work.

On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t mind taking a couple of sick days. To get to sit around and finish watching the Simpsons Season 7 DVDs, and any Daily Show and/or Colbert Report episodes that are sitting on the PVR? Maybe get some writing done? Sounds pretty sweet to me. I’m not the type to get bored easily, so sitting around for a couple of days doing nothing would be like a dream come true, for me...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


I’ve just done about a day’s worth of work in an hour or two, so I have now earned the right (in my own mind) to waste time time writing a post for my blog. Unfortunately, I have nothing to say. Fortunately, I never have anything to say, and it never stops me from writing something, so we’re on well-trod ground here.

I have really good news that I would like to share about Andrea’s writing career. Unfortunately, she made me promise not to tell anyone, so I guess you’ll have to wait for a while. But I will say this: I have every confidence that she will be publishing a novel, soon, which will be very popular, and will make me the husband of an author. (Well, yes, I realize that I’m already an author. But she’ll be the author of a novel, while I’ll be the author of a computer book. It’s different.) I can say this much because I’ve always been confident of this, so any good news that she may or may not have received doesn’t really have an impact on that.

I’ve been fighting off a cold, off and on, since about December or so. But this is the weird part: I haven’t succumbed to it yet! I have a very weak immune system, so normally all I have to do is think about getting a cold, and I’m infected. But, for some reason, I’ve been fighting this one off. I get up some mornings, feeling like it’s going to come on, and I take come vitamin C, and then I feel better. This happens for a couple of days, and then it stops altogether. Then a couple of weeks later, it happens again.

I’m very much enjoying my new Smartphone. I’ve already written an application for it—that does absolutely nothing useful—just because I wanted to see how hard it would be. As it turns out, very hard, because there are some new security features built into the Smartphone OS. However, if I’m writing an application for myself, I can cheat, and not bother with all of that security stuff—I just get prompted by the phone sometimes, when I open the app, that it’s not secure, and I say “so what? open it anyway.” (My phone and I already have a pretty good relationship, so I can talk like that to it, and it knows I’m just kidding.) So, in that light, if you’re willing to ignore the security stuff, it’s actually very easy to write an application for the Smartphone.

And that’s about it. Hopefully in the near future I’ll get excited about blogging again, and then I’ll start posting more regularly. Or hopefully not, depending on your perspective.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


I know I’ve posted about this before, but almost once a day I try to go to the bathroom and can’t because it’s closed for cleaning.

I’m tempted to keep track of every time I can’t go, because it’s closed, but I feel that that would be a bit too petty. Sort of like, oh, I don’t know, posting to my blog about it.

Where's Waldo

Ride, Sally, Ride... says:

sernaferna says:
Before I go to the next screen, is this one of those annoying web sites where it just sits there quietly for a few seconds, and then suddenly pops up something that yells "boo"?

Ride, Sally, Ride... says:

Ride, Sally, Ride... says:
i hate those things. They scare me

sernaferna says:
They don't scare me, so much as startle me. But I find them annoying.

Ride, Sally, Ride... says:
this isn't one of those.

sernaferna says:
Yeah, i started looking through it. I like it.

Ride, Sally, Ride... says:
did you find Waldo??

sernaferna says:
Yeah. But I cheated.

Ride, Sally, Ride... says:
loser. *lol*

sernaferna says:

sernaferna says:
Can I post this conversation to my blog? I want to share this link with others...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Simpsons Coincidence

Since I have nothing else to post about, I’ll mention another Simpsons coincidence that occurred last week. (I didn’t write about it until now because it’s not worth writing about.) For long-time readers, you may recall that I regularly am thinking about some particular Simpsons episode, and then soon after I’ll turn on the TV and the episode will be on.

A similar thing happened last week. I had been watching an episode of Listed, on MuchMoreMusic, and it was an episode about the top 20 duos of all time. Now, aside from that fact that Andrea and I disagreed with some of their selections, one of the duos they mentioned was Wham—so, of course, for the next couple of days I had Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go running through my head. (And, after posting it here, I’m sure I’ll have it running through my head again...)

Later that week I was watching the commentary for the episode of the Simpsons where Homer is reunited with his mother, and at the scene where Mr. Burns plays the music over the loudspeakers, and finds out that Smithers had taped over it, the people on the commentary mentioned that the music Smithers recorded was originally going to be Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go but they couldn’t get the rights to it.

So, uh... yeah. You may now go on with your life.

Just a Conversation About Nuthin

James Mack says:
there must be a name for people that say things like... there's a girl here at work who everytime I sit down at a computwer says "I dont think the internet is working on that computer" and of course, it always IS working

sernaferna says:
In the computer biz, we call them "users". Other than that, all the normal derogatory insults for idiotic people.

For the situation, we sometimes say that the "error is between the keyboard and the chair"...

James Mack says:
ah, thats excellent, I chortled my choclate chip cookie all over the keyboard upon reading

James Mack says:
er, chocolate

sernaferna says:

sernaferna says:
glad I could help.

James Mack says:
in support of the Islamic protest I have decided not to eat any Danish for the remainder of the year

James Mack says:

James Mack says:
would that include Cinnabons?

sernaferna says:
I really don't know the ethnicity(sp?) of cinnabons, so I can't say for sure...

sernaferna says:
Maybe, just to be safe, you should avoid any food that *sounds* Danish?

James Mack says:
I need my cinnabons

James Mack says:
their one of three favourite things to be addicted to

James Mack says:
along with bacon

James Mack says:
and heroin

sernaferna says:
Is this *your* fav things to be addicted to? Or the world's in general?

James Mack says:

James Mack says:
are we to play "guess whats Hunter's display picture is"? it would be a fun gfame

sernaferna says:
hehe Most people I've been talking to have been guessing about it, yes.

I didn't think it would be that hard to recognize, but apparently it is...

James Mack says:
Im guessing floodlight/street light with mesh fencing

sernaferna says:
Nope. Think more indoors than outdoors.

James Mack says:
shower head?

sernaferna says:

James Mack says:
with tile

James Mack says:
its just hard to get detail on such a small picture

sernaferna says:
Not tile; it's the window in the background that has the pattern on it.

James Mack says:

sernaferna says:
Yeah. I've often wished that had a feature where you could click the picture, and get a full-sized version.

sernaferna says:
My eyes aren't too good.

James Mack says:
is this your way of asking for a new showerhead? Ill get you one for your birthday if it is

James Mack says:
wow, am I ever late

James Mack says:

sernaferna says:
A) before you go, do yoj mind if I post this on my blog?

B) If you don't mind, do you need me ot change your name for privacy?

sernaferna says:
The shower head isn't ours, it's from Andrea's grandma in Guyana, from our trip there.

sernaferna says:
There are two similar pictures in the photos I have online.

James Mack says:
A) yes
B) no
C) very good
D) ah

sernaferna says:
Yes as in yes you mind?

The following message could not be delivered to all recipients:
Yes as in yes you mind?

Swiss Chalet--Again!

It’s getting to the point where I’m thinking I shouldn’t be ordering at Swiss Chalet anymore. (Even though I like their food.) In addition to my previous beef with them, they’ve given me problems again.

We ordered last night—without getting drinks, of course—and included a cheesecake in the order. When they came, they had forgotten to include it. So far, I’m not too annoyed; yes, they made a mistake, but no big deal, it happens. Luckily, we discovered it while the driver was still in the driveway, so I was able to run out and tell him that the cheesecake wasn’t there. He didn’t have it in his bag, so he called back to the store, and promised me that he’d be back with the dessert. This was about 8:30.

Unfortunately, an hour passed, and he still hadn’t returned. Now I was getting a bit annoyed. So I called back, and got someone on the phone, and asked him if there was a way he could check up, and see if the driver was still coming. He said that the best he could do would be to send a “message” to the store, and let them know that our dessert had been missing, and ask them to resend it. And then—get this—he told me that I shouldn’t have bothered talking to the driver, I should have called the main number instead. He gave the strong impression that he didn’t trust the driver to come back.

So I asked him what I should do if the driver didn’t come back, and he said to call back again. This was a little after 9:30.

10:00 rolled around, and no driver, so I called back. Only to find that you can’t call back, after 10:00, because they shut all the phones down. I tried a number of different customer service phone numbers they had on their web site—all of which probably pointed to the same place; there were 416 numbers for Toronto, and 800 numbers for the rest of Canada—but they were all closed.

So I had to resort to using their online form, to submit a complaint.

I don’t know why I bother airing my complaints on my blog—it’s not like I’m calling for a boycott of Swiss Chalet or anything. (Which, considering the low readership of my blog, would be an empty gesture.) On the other hand, I don’t know what else I should be using my blog for, so I might as well write about the things that are bugging me, along with all of the other crap I write about...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Oh, MSN Messenger. You disappoint me.

Since I got a new phone, I figured I’d better change my MSN Messenger settings, to configure my mobile settings.

There are two things I needed to change: My Contact Card shows my cell phone number, so I had to change it in there. Plus, MSN Mobile had some settings I had to change, so that when I’m offline in Messenger, people can send me text messages.

Changing the MSN Mobile settings wasn’t too bad, although I had to try a couple of times to get it right. In the end, I had to do this:

  1. Tell Messenger to no longer allow people to send messages to my mobile device
  2. Go to MSN Mobile, and delete my account
  3. I may or may not have logged out of Messenger here... I can’t remember
  4. If I closed Messenger, I re-opened it. I went back to MSN Mobile, and created a mobile account
  5. I definitely logged out of Messenger at this point, and then logged back in
  6. It asked me if I wanted to allow people to send messages to my mobile device
  7. I said “yes”

  8. I had someone send me a test message, which worked
  9. The aforementioned someone was amazed when I replied from my phone, because she hadn’t realized that the messages are two-way
So that’s working, now. However, changing the phone number on my contact card hasn’t gone so well, yet. I haven’t been able to do it. I changed the setting in Messenger, and I’ve logged out, and had my friend log out, and no matter what we do, she still keeps seeing the old number.

Hopefully it will go away, eventually, and get updated with the new one I entered...

I can't blame her; I don't hear too well either

A conversation in the cafeteria:

Man in line in front of me: Fish and chips, please.
Woman serving: puts fish and french fries on the man’s plate
Woman serving: Would you like coleslaw?
Man in line in front of me: No thanks. But that’s enough french fries.
Woman serving: puts more french fries on the man’s plate anyway
Man in line in front of me: gives me an “oh well, what are you gonna do?” look
Me (with a smile on my face): Fish and chips, please.
Woman serving: puts fish and french fries on my plate
Woman serving: Would you like coleslaw?
Me: No thanks. But that’s enough french fries.
Woman serving: puts more french fries on my plate anyway

I’d talk about this more, but at the moment I have a whole lot of french fries I have to try and eat...

Uploading photos to Blogger

A while ago (June or so), Blogger introduced photo uploads to their list of services. They give 300MB of free space for uploading pictures, and when you upload, they automatically save two versions of the picture for you: the “real” version, and a scaled-down version for showing in the blog. So in your blog, you can have a little version of the picture, and when you click on it, the big version will show up. I promptly made use of it—and then just as promptly stopped putting up pictures, because I don’t take pictures that often.

But I do put up pictures occasionally, and I’ve discovered something: they did a really crappy job with their photo upload tool. It’s surprising, because Blogger is owned by Google, and they’re really good at doing stuff like this, but they seem to have dropped the ball on this one.

First of all, here’s how the tool works:

  1. In the Editor window, there is an icon for uploading images. When you click it, you get a pop-up that asks you what image you want to upload, how big you want it to be in the blog post (the scaled-down version), and whether you want it to be centred, or off to the left or right, or what.
  2. Once you click the Upload Image button, you get a little icon that indicates it’s uploading
  3. When it’s done uploading, you get another screen, that says your image is finished uploading, and has a Done button.

  4. Clicking this Done button is supposed to close the pop-up, and put you back in the editor window. The appropriate HTML for your image will be inserted into your post, and you can move it wherever you want. (Blogger always puts it at the beginning of the post, regardless of where your cursor was when you uploaded, which is a minor annoyance, but nothing big.)
Now, here are the problems I’ve encountered so far:

Sometimes, when you click the Done button, and the pop-up closes, it neglects to insert the image into your post. And, since the upload tool chooses a name (and location) for your file at the time when it gets uploaded, you don’t know what to put in there yourself—meaning that your only option is to upload the image again, and hope that it works this time.

The other problem that I’ve encountered—and this happens more than 50% of the time—is that sometimes the image upload never returns, and the window just hangs there, never giving you the “finished uploading” screen.

Both of these bugs have the same result: You have to upload the image again. And, since you only have 300MB of space on your account, you’ve got a bunch of wasted images taking up your space! This wouldn’t be so bad if Blogger had some type of tool where you could see what images you’ve got, and give you the URI for them. Then, if the upload fails, you could at least go and see if the image uploaded properly, and insert the HTML for the image into your post on your own. Or, alternatively, you could delete the images that didn’t get used, because the upload failed.

Audiovox SMT5600 Smartphone

I finally took the plunge today, and got my smartphone.

SMT 5600

The phone itself is great. It’s got a good form factor—very comfortable to hold in your hands, and the ergonomics are good. I do have some problems with the operating system, though; the major annoyance is the way it handles reminders. On all of my previous PocketPC devices (and in Outlook, if you use that for your email), when you get a reminder about a meeting, task item, etc., you have the option of Snoozing it. You can choose how long to “snooze” it—that is, how long Outlook will wait before reminding you again—and pick something that makes sense, based on what you’ll be doing for the next little while. But with the Smartphone operating system—specifically, the Smartphone 2003 Second Edition operating system, which is what I have; I’m led to believe the next version of Smartphone is better—you don’t have any options. It is pre-programmed to snooze for about 2 minutes, and then it reminds you again. If your appointment is in a couple of hours, you can either get reminded every two minutes for a couple of hours, or dismiss it altogether, and hope that you remember.

I’m also not 100% sure which profiles put it on vibrate, instead of ring, etc. And, as a weird little bonus, whenever I get left a voice mail—which is fairly often, right now, because I keep leaving myself “test messages”—the phone not only lets me know that I have a voice mail, but Rogers sends me a text message, which also informs me that I have a voice mail. This is unnecessary for two reasons:

  1. Since the text message isn’t needed, I’m just wasting a text message—which costs me money. Or... will cost me money; right now, I have the first month free or something.
  2. I currently have two different pieces of music that play, to notify me when I have a voice mail, and to notify me when I have a text message. When I get both at the same time, they both play at the same time. And, unlike every other phone I’ve ever had, they play the whole song, regardless of what you do. For my voice mail notification, I found a MIDI file of the Pink Panther theme, and for my text message theme I found a MIDI file of the James Bond theme, which I shortened to just the relevant part. So when I get a voice mail, Rogers also sends me a text message, and then I get the Pink Panther theme and the James Bond theme both playing at the same time, over top of each other. Also, the Pink Panther theme is about two minutes long, and my phone plays the whole two minute theme. So, when I did a test voice mail this morning, it played; and it continued to play, even as I called the voice mail service to get my voice mail. All the time I was getting my voice mail, I could hear the Pink Panther theme playing away in the background.

But don’t let the complaints put a negative spin on this; I’m happy with the phone. As an example of a nice feature it’s got, it can play Windows Media files for ringtones. On my old cell phone, I had a MIDI file of Soul Bossa Nova—better known as the theme from Austin Powers—but on my new one, I have a recording of the actual Soul Bossa Nova. (And, if I can find it, I’ll hopefully get a real copy of the James Bond theme, instead of a MIDI file.)

And, also on the plus side, it comes with a camera. So, for example, I can show you that some ass-face switched the cord on my phone at work, and gave me one that’s all crinkly and hard to use, like this:

Or, I can show you the notice which someone posted on the fridge at work, which I find rather funny:

(Incidentally, it took me forever to get that picture of the sign on the fridge, because I felt like an idiot taking a picture of the fridge. So I had to keep making excuses to go into the kitchen, until I found a time when nobody else was there, and was able to take it by myself.)

So, for the most part I’m very happy with the new phone. I’ll just have to learn how to use it the way Microsoft wants me to use it, rather than using it how I want to use it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Simpsons Trivia: Who Shot Mr. Burns?

I thought I’d share with you one of the pieces of trivia I learned from the commentaries on the Simpsons Season 7 DVD.

At the end of Season 6, which ended with Part 1 of Who Shot Mr. Burns, Fox had a contest. People were supposed to guess who shot Mr. Burns, and the winner would be animated on the show. The same night the episode aired, one guy on the internet got the answer right, and posted the answer on a newsgroup (I’m guessing alt.tv.simpsons, which is a newsgroup I used to go to quite often, at the time—hey, I might even have read this guy’s post, although I don’t remember it), giving his reasons. (Which were correct, not just a random guess.) However, he didn’t enter the contest—he just posted the answer to the newsgroup.

The people who make the Simpsons had wanted to send him some kind of prize, as a reward for being the first person, but they weren’t allowed to contact him, because of the rules of the contest. So they waited until the contest was over, and then tried to contact him—but they couldn’t, because he had posted the answer from his email address at college/university, and the email address was no longer valid. They tried to find him, but to no avail. (They tried again, ten years later, when they were putting out the DVD for that season, but still couldn’t find him.)

Now here’s the funny part: The rules of the contest said that Fox would look through the first 1,000 correctly-entered entries to find a winner—but nobody in the first 1,000 entries got the right answer. And so, because of the rules of the contest, they had to pick a winner, from that first 1,000 people, and they chose someone who had picked Smithers. (They had specifically written the show to make it look like Smithers was the guilty one, so most people voted for him.) They never ended up animating her, though; they just paid her off with a bit of money, and tried to sweep the whole thing under the rug, because it was a bit embarrassing that the person who won their contest wasn’t even correct. (And the one person who did get it right, and for the right reasons and everything, they were never able to contact, to at least congratulate him.) (Well, maybe others did too; but if so, they entered after the first 1,000 entries, so they’ll be forgotten by history. Burn.)

Personally, I had always wondered whatever happened to that whole “we’ll animate you on the show” thing, and had just assumed that they’d done it some time. So I found it funny that they never did—and the reasons why.

Red Party

A while ago I posted about a party that was being hosted by Raymi (and someone else—I forget who), for bloggers in Toronto.

Raymi and Fil are hosting another one, on the 17th. I’m not actually 100% sure if you have to be a blogger to attend—in fact, you didn’t necessarily have to be to attend the last one—but they are asking everyone to wear red. I don’t know why—I don’t know them, and I haven’t asked them.

In any event, if you have a blog, and/or if you live in Toronto (or just want to come to Toronto, to go to a party), you’ll just have to follow Raymi’s blog for a while, and find out the details. I won’t be there, because it’s a Friday night and I’m always busy on Friday nights—plus all of the other reasons I mentioned why I wasn’t at the last one—so if you are a fan, and were just hoping to meet sernaferna in person, you’ll just have to wait a little longer.

You’ll have to take my word for it, but I actually typed that last part with a straight face.

John Swartzwelder

I decided to take a day off yesterday, since I’m not too busy at work these days, and one of the things I did was buy Season 7 of The Simpsons on DVD. I’m a big Simpsons fan, so I already had the first six seasons, and I figured that a day off would be the perfect day to get the next one, and start watching it.

As I listen to the commentaries on the DVDs—which I always do—they often mention one of the most prolific writers on the show; a guy named John Swartzwelder. If you have a favourite episode of The Simpsons, chances are pretty good that Swartzwelder wrote it, or at least helped. And as I was listening to the commentaries again yesterday, they were mentioning him again, and the fact that he always refuses to take part in the commentaries. And then they also mentioned that he’s written a couple of novels. This piqued my interest, so I went and looked for novels by John Swartzwelder on Amazon.com. I looked through the excerpt that Amazon provides for each, and they were both pretty funny. So I think that I’ll pick up one or both, the next time I’m buying books.

The big problem will be trying to remember how to spell “John Swartzwelder” when I’m in the book store. (Actually, the “John” part shouldn’t be too bad. It’s just the “Swartzwelder” part that will get me.)

If you’re interested, the two books are called The Time Machine Did It (a humour/mystery novel), and Double Wonderful (a humour/western novel). Actually, now that I think about it, it might be easier to remember the names of his books then trying to remember how to spell his name...

My Blog

I’ve noticed a shocking decline in the quality and quantity of my blog entries lately. (That was almost, but not quite, a Simpsons reference.) I’m not sure why.

The last little while at work I’ve been much less busy than usual—which is a nice change of pace—so I should have lots of time for blogging. In fact, there were many days in 2005 when I was working myself silly, and still managed to post a half dozen blog entries in a day—and it’s not like I was any more creative at the time than I am now, because if you’ve been following my blog, you know that I don’t normally talk about anything.

So I don’t know what’s going on.

Shout Out

Based on my previous post, I got a shout out on a friend’s blog. (I hope that link works...) Jer, I would comment on your blog from time to time, but Yahoo 360 only lets Yahoo 360 members comment on blogs, of which I am not. Sorry.

I also got mentioned on another friend’s blog, although I don’t think that particular mention was due to my post. It was simply due to the kindness of my heart, of which you should all be in awe, because it’s a pretty darned kind heart.

Hint: If you read either of these blogs, looking for references to me, the references will be in code. I’ll sometimes be referred to as “Hunter”, which is a nickname, rather than “sernaferna”, which is my given name. (I don’t have a last name. I just have one name, like Madonna, or Cher, or Paris Hilton.) Actually, one of them did mention my real name, but misspelled it using capitals, as SernaFerna—but I can’t blame him for that, because even I have problems with it.

Monday, February 06, 2006

An Interview With serna

The editors of this blog would like to present another in our ongoing series of interviews with the creative “man behind the blog”, sernaferna.

Question: serna, thanks for coming back. Now, to begin, I’d like to ask—
Answer: No.

Q: Um... no? No what?
A: No, I’m not doing another interview.

Q: Why not?
A: Because the last time that we did this, I spent the whole time calling myself a nerd. And this time, I’ve just finished spending an hour or so fixing HTML-Kit with another macro, to make editing these posts easier. Which means I’m probably going to start calling myself a nerd again.

Q: Hmm. You might have a point there.
A: Indeed.

So, I guess that’s it for today’s interview. Thanks for coming!

Blogging to my blog just for the sake of blogging to my blog

I still have nothing to say. (When I say “still”, I mean since I started this thing last year...) However, I have some spare time, so I might as well post.

I mentioned earlier that I was having problems with my Axim—that the sound had quit, and then come back, and I was expecting it to quit again—but it’s been fine since then. Odd, but good.

There was no Youth Group on Friday, which was nice, as I needed a day off from that. So instead, I went out with Andrea and some of her friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t know one of them, and barely knew another one, so I felt a bit like a 6th wheel. Which, now that I think about it, makes it an even number, so I should have felt better about the whole thing...

During my daily catch up on the blogs of all of the people I know, I read from two friends of mine from back home today. I miss those guys, sometimes. (Or, if you are one of those people, I miss you guys sometimes.)

This post is worse than usual; not only is it pointless and content-free, it’s even worsely written than usual.

I’m still reading The Da Vinci code, because I’m not able to set aside enough time to read these days. And the time that I did have to read, on the weekend, I devoted to catching up on The Nation, instead, since I had three back issues to go through. Speaking of back issues of The Nation, I noticed a couple of months ago that they’d neglected to send me a particular issue, and I emailed them about it, and they never got back to me. But then I forgot about it. Now I’m not too worried about it anymore, so I probably won’t bother to go back and complain about it again.

I have nothing else to say.

I wasn’t kidding when I said that I was posting just to kill some time—but I didn’t kill enough time. All I really feel like doing today is reading a book.

Friday, February 03, 2006

300th Post to this Blog!

You may not believe it, but this is my 300th post to this blog. Before this post, I clicked the Publish Post button on 299 separate posts—none of which was worth your time.

So is there anything I’d like to say, on this momentous occasion? No, not really. Any advice I’d like to share with the slightly newer bloggers? No, not really. Would I like to post a compendium, of past posts to this blog that are of interest? No, not really—there aren’t any posts that you’ll find of interest.

Have I wasted my time and yours, on 300 separate instances? Yes I have. Will I continue to do so? Yes I will.

Long live the internet.


I have nothing to say. This is just a placeholder post.


This post is for someone in particular—you know who you are.

Definitions of mundane on the Web:

We use this word to refer to that which is modern. People sometimes refer to their "mundane life" when talking about their occupation, or their "mundane name" when introducing themselves.

Non-somaferan. Not meant in the sense of "boring", but in the sense of "of the physical world". Does not apply to shamans, mystics, etc.

  • everyday: found in the ordinary course of events; "a placid everyday scene"; "it was a routine day"; "there's nothing quite like a real...train conductor to add color to a quotidian commute"- Anita Diamant

  • concerned with the world or worldly matters; "mundane affairs"; "he developed an immense terrestrial practicality"

  • belonging to this earth or world; not ideal or heavenly; "not a fairy palace; yet a mundane wonder of unimagined kind"; "so terrene a being as himself"


For other uses of the word Mundane see

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Still Nothing to Say

I realize I haven’t been posting much. I just don’t have anything to say. I thought I had something to say today—my Axim was having sound problems, and it looked like I’d have to send it back to Dell again—but it mysteriously started working again this morning, so I guess I’ll have to wait until it starts acting up again, and post about it then.