Featured Photos

Baseball Hall of Fame - 8/23/11

Featured Video

Avery's QuEST Project - It's Healthy!

House Construction

The Completed Home Renovation

Home Renovation - Complete!

Our House Construction Photoblog

RSS Feed

Archive for July, 2007

                     Next Entries »

In which I prove how pathetic I am at memes

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

I’ve always found blog memes mildly interesting, kind of like that infomercial with the guy in the really awful sweater that you just can’t shut off at 2AM. I never wind up buying the Ultra-Slicer (whatever…), though, and similarly, I hardly ever wind up participating in the meme.

But this one’s different. Jason Bennion, of Simple Tricks and Nonsense, has thrown down the gauntlet, and named me as one of the (four) blogs who must complete the Meme of Five.

So, my instructions are as follows:

A list of the last five blogs that have done this, removing the top blog and putting myself at the bottom:

  1. No Smoking in the Skull Cave
  2. Electronic Cerebrectomy
  3. Byzantium’s Shores: The Occasional Meditations of an Overalls-clad Hippie
  4. Simple Tricks and Nonsense
  5. I Should Be Sleeping

Next, select five people to tag (hence the name, Meme of Five). Jason was only able to come up with four. I think it’s safe to say I have more than five loyal readers, but only two of them have a blog (well, four, but I can’t very well tag Jason or Chenopup, since Jason tagged us both to start this). And so, I present my list of five, which currently has a pathetic two members. I’m counting on Jeff and Ilya to resurrect the chain:

  1. The Vast Jeff Wing Conspiracy
  2. American Expat Family in London

And, finally, a set of random questions (italicized for your pleasure):

What were you doing ten years ago?

Let’s see – July 9, 1997. Looking back through the data image of my (then) employer’s laptop, I see that I was working in Andersen Consulting’s (now known as Accenture’s) Florham Park, NJ office, building a kick-ass suite of Project Management tools that were going to revolutionize the way large, client/server applications were going to built for years to come. Unfortunately, the World Wide Web had been released 3 years earlier, and the large, client/server application was in its death throes. Also, we built the suite of tools on Lotus Notes, a tool that IBM eventually bought and ran into the ground.

Also, I had just moved into my new house (five weeks earlier), and was learning all sorts of things about home ownership, such as: when the toilet stuffs up, you have to go buy a plunger quickly, because there’s no building maintenance guy to call. Also, when a flock of geese lands in your backyard and starts pooping everywhere, there is not only no one to call, but very few people who know what to do about it.

Ah, to be so young & innocent again…

What were you doing one year ago?

Well, that’s easier, since we’re now within the realm of the current blackberry. One year ago, July 9, 2006, was a Sunday and I had no plans. I hung around the house and played with my kids.

Five snacks you enjoy

1) Peanut M&M’s
2) York Peppermint Patties (sometimes, I get the sensation…)
3) Grapes (if left unchecked, I will finish the bowl, regardless of how many grapes are in said bowl)
4) Ice Cream (sorry, summer on the brain…)
5) Just about anything with chocolate in it.

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics

Man, you’ve got to be kidding me. I have a playlist on my iPod which contains songs I know all the lyrics to. There are 894 songs on the list. I will now reach into my magic hat, and (have Excel) randomly draw out five numbers between 1 and 894. The winners are:

664. Streetlife Serenader – Billy Joel
504. New York, New York – Kanter & Ebb
671. Sunny Side to Every Situation – Harry Warren (42nd Street Soundtrack)
5. (‘Til) I Kissed You – The Everly Brothers
295. Help! – The Beatles

Five things you would do if you were a billionaire

1) Setup college funds for every single child in the family (nieces, nephews, cousins, etc.) that is under the age of 18.
2) Build the nicest house I can think of, then build my parents, in-laws, and siblings the nicest house they can think of.
3) Buy first class plane tickets to everywhere I ever wanted to go (sequentially), and reserve the best accommodations in each location. Anyone I know who wants to come along for all or part of the trip is welcome. Can’t make the whole trip? I’ll fly you in & back on the day you wish, no charge.
4) Put the remaining ~$900+M in T-bills. At the current rate of 5%, I’d get $45 million per year, Tax Free.
5) See if I can find a way to spend $45 million every year. Huge charitable donations would most certainly be involved…

Five bad habits

1) I stay up too late.
2) I watch too much TV.
3) I let little things bother me enough to lessen the awesome-ness that is my daily life.
4) I write cheesy things like #3
5) I don’t eat right & exercise like I should.

Five things you like doing

1-99) Hanging out with the kids.
100) Blogging (duh!)
101) Watching TV (OK, I’m not going to re-list my bad habits here, but you get the idea)
102) Making music – almost any kind (marching band, rock band, solo piano, you name it)
103) A good game of baseball, although I’m not in the shape I once was, so this happens less frequently than it used to.

Five things you would never wear again

1) Diapers (hey – I didn’t make up these questions, OK?)
2) White shoes at work (a very long story, please don’t ask…)
3) A navy blue tuxedo with light blue ruffles (1982 – my Bar Mitzvah – all the men in the family had them…)
4) A silver tuxedo with a mauve bow-tie and cummerbund (my junior prom date’s cousin worked for the tuxedo rental place and matched her dress exactly. Lucky me…)
5) High heels (I made the mistake of laughing at my sister when my mom was teaching her, and they made me try it – I twisted both ankles in the space of 10 seconds).

OK, I’m done. Jeff/Ilya – ball’s in your court. Please accept my humble apologies…

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | 2 Comments »

The OTHER Google News…

Monday, July 9th, 2007

So, on July 3rd, I’m perusing my Google Analytics activity reports, and I note that four people had Googled “Este Pizza fire” and came up with my July, 2006 archive, which contains several blog posts about The Great Simple Tricks Pizza Challenge (long story – go read it for yourself. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it…)

Anyway, I proceeded to Google “Este Pizza fire” as well, but found nothing of note (except a link to my own site, of course). No web pages describing a fire, nothing in Google News, nothing in Yahoo! News, etc., etc. So I sent an e-mail to Jason Bennion, the “blogger who started it all,” and asked if everything was OK. Turns out, there was indeed a fire at Este Pizza on June 30th. Everyone seems to be alright, but the building itself was heavily damaged by smoke and the firemen’s water hoses. Estimated time of recovery is 60 days.

Apparently, It didn’t make the local news, which is why it wasn’t present on Google, Yahoo! or any of the other big search engines.

Mike Chenoweth, or “Chenopup” as he’s been called throughout the pizza saga, is filling in the MSM gaps with local coverage on his blog. He’s asking for all those interested to donate $6 (the cost of a lunch special at Este Pizza) to tie the owner over and help him get the repairs done. Details on how to contribute are in his blog post. I’ll be sending my donation in tomorrow’s mail. All those who wish to see the Great Pizza Challenge one day reach fruition would be well advised to do the same.

In the meantime, how totally cool is it that I was able to infer a news story that happened just days ago, 2,000 miles away, from my blog’s server stats? I’m envisioning a whole new way to stay informed now – create a web page containing news stories you think might happen, jack up the PageRank on that page, and then monitor the keyword logs to see if anyone’s Googling about them. It’s not exactly the most efficient way to go, but give those folks at Stanford some time to tinker with it and let’s see what happens…

Categories: News and/or Media | 2 Comments »

I’m Sure Someone Else is Curing Cancer – Part Two

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

So everyone’s heard of beer goggles, right? The woman you picked up at the bar last night looked gorgeous, until you saw her the next morning. Must have been all that beer.

So, what do you think? Infantile, misogynistic college prattle or scientifically proven physiological phenomenon?


Here, for those who are interested, is the beer goggles formula, as per researchers at Manchester University:

An = number of units of alcohol consumed
S = smokiness of the room (graded from 0-10, where 0 clear air; 10 extremely smoky)
L = luminance of ‘person of interest’ (candelas per square metre; typically 1 pitch black; 150 as seen in normal room lighting)
Vo = Snellen visual acuity (6/6 normal; 6/12 just meets driving standard)
d = distance from ‘person of interest’ (metres; 0.5 to 3 metres)

Seriously, there must be something else to spend your time studying, no? But wait, here’s the kicker (or should I say “chaser?”):

The research was commissioned by eyecare firm Bausch & Lomb PureVision

Please Lord, please tell me they’re not making a contact lens that actually corrects for this problem! I think I just thought of another use for Tylenol…

Categories: The World Wide Weird | No Comments »

4th of July Newsflash – America Ain’t So Bad

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Waking up on July 5th and perusing the news, I came across two articles that strike me as encouraging and, sadly, ironic.

The first is from the New York Times and entitled Surge Seen in Applications for Citizenship:

The number of legal immigrants seeking to become United States citizens is surging, officials say, prompted by imminent increases in fees to process naturalization applications, citizenship drives across the country and new feelings of insecurity among immigrants.

The citizenship campaigns have tapped into the uneasiness that legal immigrants, especially Hispanics, say is a result of months of debate over an immigration bill that failed last week in the Senate. Although illegal immigrants were the center of attention in the debate, it prompted many legal immigrants who have put down roots here to seek the security of citizenship, as well as its voting power, immigrants’ advocates said.

One radio listener was Angel Ivan Alvarez, 24, a legal immigrant from Mexico who said he had never thought of becoming a citizen until last week when the Senate bill failed. “I realized that I want to be able to vote and speak up for my people, because they are not getting enough support,” Mr. Alvarez said yesterday in a telephone interview. “I want everybody to be able to come out of the shadows.”

Federico Gutierrez, 53, a longtime legal resident of Chicago who was born in Mexico, said large protests in March 2006 in support of an immigration overhaul made him decide that it was time to engage in American politics. He prepared his application and brushed up on his English and American history in classes offered by the New Americans Initiative, a citizenship campaign financed by Illinois. He became a citizen in May. “Now if I don’t like the way things are going, I can let the government know my opinion,” Mr. Gutierrez said in a telephone interview.

Maybe it’s just me, but this strikes me as our government getting something positive done in spite of itself. After months of debate that resulted in no new laws being passed, it’s easy to think that the whole thing was a waste of time. But here we see law-abiding people, unsatisfied with the status quo, addressing their concerns through the established immigration channels, becoming more engaged in the policy debates, and seeking to affect change by exercising their right to vote.

We’ve seen people with similar concerns, in places like Iraq or the West Bank, addressing those concerns by blowing something up. We’ve also seen people with similar concerns in this country marching down major thoroughfares with signs and/or effigies referring to our leaders as evil, criminal, or worse.

I’ve heard it said recently that we’ll win the hearts and minds of the world by setting an example of how free people behave, rather than exporting our freedom on the backs of soldiers with bombs. If that’s true, then the hundreds of thousands of people (including 4,000 who were sworn in yesterday) who are going through this process are our ambassadors. Thank you and welcome aboard!

The other article I saw was in USA Today, entitled Guard passes goal for recruits:

New recruiting techniques and appeals to patriotism have helped the National Guard achieve its highest level of troops since 2001.

Through May, the Guard had 351,400 troops, the most since November 2001, according to data provided by the National Guard Bureau. It’s also the first time the Guard has exceeded its target of 350,000 troops for three consecutive months since May 2002.

In the three years the Guard fell short of its manpower target it also saw its largest deployments, peaking at 98,493 in 2005. That year Guard membership bottomed out at 333,177 members. This year 44,723 members have been deployed.

With idle talk circulating about the low morale of our troops (refuted daily by those actually in the military) it’s good to see some quantitative data about the country’s support for our military (the article also mentions that the army is meeting its recruiting goals as well). Also, when talk of troop deployment levels is focused almost exclusively on the “surge,” it’s a pleasant surprise to hear that we’re leaning on the National Guard less than we were a couple of years ago.

Yesterday marked our sixth Independence Day in a row with troops in harm’s way, so none of this is cause for celebration. But it’s reassuring to know that those patriots we speak so blithely of while the fireworks light up our skies are still out there, and that there’s more where they came from to boot.

God Bless ‘em all & God Bless America. Happy 231! You don’t look a day over 206…

Categories: Political Rantings | 2 Comments »

How People Found Me – June Edition

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

My monthly effort to stay on top of Jeff Porten on the Google rankings. ;-)

The Categories

Category June Count May Count
Technology 151 140
Billy Joel 76 163
Celebrity Look Alikes 70 80
DSL 22 20
Overrated Films 19 21
Al Gore 8 18
Steven Wright 6 17

Consistent with my Billy Joel-induced dropoff (and despite my persistent lack of ISBS Tech Guide entries), you can see that Technology related searches eclipsed Billy Joel as the most popular reason people come here to visit. Billy Joel related queries, while still holding on to second place, dropped by more than 50%. The other big winners, Celebrity Look Alikes, DSL and Overrated Films all held an almost remarkable consistency. And, as mentioned below, the more topical discussions (Gore & Wright) dropped off precipitously as well.

The Referring Sites

A quick shout out to jeffporten.com for sending 28 visitors my way last month, the largest of the non-search sites. Also of note were jasonbennion.com with five, and scalzi.com with four (two more than last month).

Other interesting entries included linkedin.com, which I use, but have never seen generate any traffic/benefit for me until now and, a site called mp3raid.com, which seems to scour the web and link to mp3 files from other websites (which I’m not linking back to on the off-chance that they shouldn’t be doing that), and the ever popular fatman-radio-search-engine-swicki.eurekster.com.

The Keywords

All told, 684 queries resulted in hits to Familygreenberg.com in June (around the same number as were used in May). Here are some that I found the most interesting:

Query Rank / # of Results Comments
celebrity bed look alike 1 / 1,040,000 Want a bed that looks just like the one your favorite celebrity sleeps in? Come on down to I Should Be Sleeping! Best prices this side of Hollywood!
olympic”" “”seizure”" “”2007″” “”mpeg”" 1 / 45,600 What exactly is an olympic seizure? Do judges give scores at the end?
what’s wrong with moveon.org 6 / 294,000 Oh man…they only give me 2GB of space on my web server…
put the ethernet cable in the computer, but the light did not come on 8 / 471,000 Try the light switch, my friend…
short term effects of the jfk assassination 10 / 625,000 Short term? I know Google didn’t exist in 1963, but this query’s a little late, no?
mlb standings google gadget 10 / 129,000 Not on my blog, but hey – that’s a great idea! (be right back…)
wesley autrey on let’s make a deal game 10 / 22,900 That’d be Deal or No Deal, folks…
what kind of figure do you have quiz 22 / 1,890,000 Who, exactly, goes in search of an internet quiz to find out this information? For future reference, I suggest www.lookinthemirror.com
innocent high 104 / 5,640,000 And here I thought they went looking for a drug reference. But #1 on the search results is something entirely different (NSFW)
macintosh consultants 129 / 1,290,000 The second month in a row this happened. (Since I know Jeff is curious – his site came up #441. Some things are just not fair…)
fun facts about sleeping 201 / 2,200,000 Man, someone needs to get out more…
guys videoing girls sleeping >500 / 3,730,000 You attract all kinds, I guess. Sorry to disappoint ya, fellas…
pictures of cartoons sleeping in bed >500 / 2,070,000 Not much to add – this just struck me as funny…
i recently upgraded to ie 7. i miss my old command bar; file,view,etc. how can i get my old command bar back? >500 / 271,000 Ladies and gentlemen, this month’s winner of the ‘I talk to Google like it’s a person’ contest…
glenn beck blows a blood vessel >500 / 72,500 Hmm…someone have anger issues???
recharging pacemakers >500 / 44,900 Can you picture the one guy passed out on the ground, and the other guy sitting next to him, frantically Googling ‘recharging pacemakers?’ This kind of thing makes me wish I could draw cartoons…
pronouncing a in rhode island accent >500 / 36,600 Note that last month, someone hit my site looking for ways to pronounce “water” in Philadelphia. Obviously, this guy is migrating north…
gesundtheit 0 / 692 Thank you.
wedding taking place at clemson university jay leno 0 / 464 That’s how rumors get started…
microsoft sufrace 0 / 93 That’s me, best friend of the folks who can’t spell!

And, just for good measure, a couple of interesting pairs of queries:

Query Rank / # of Results Comments
things you can do in 3 hours
what can you do in 6 hours
>500 / 148,000,000
>500 / 184,000,000
I love a good Google competition. Next month, 9 hours!
what is a good question for bill clinton
who did bill clinton sleep with
1 / 2,820,000
7 / 1,830,000
Seems the second query answered the first, no? And oh, by the way, check out those search rankings! Imagine if I actually wrote about Clinton’s sex life?


Categories: Blogging about Blogs | No Comments »

Familygreenberg.com Health Check – June Edition

Monday, July 2nd, 2007
Metric May June % Change
Visits 1,441 945 -34.42%
Pageviews 2,563 1,416 -33.58%
Pages/Visit 1.48 1.50 +1.28%
Avg Time on Site 46 sec. 53 sec. +15.22%
Bounce Rate 78.42% 78.94% +0.67%
% New Visitors 88.48% 84.87% -4.08%

On the whole, a rather depressing month. Once again, I’ll blame Billy Joel’s drop in Google appeal. Roughly 350 of the 500 pageviews I lost came from posts about him. Add to that another ~120 drop in pageviews of my monthly archive files, and you’ve explained most of the change. The rest involve topical posts (e.g., Steven Wright’s jokes, politics, Al Gore’s movie, etc.) that got some interest right away and then faded. Clearly, I have three options: 1) find another “Google bomb” like Billy Joel, 2) consistently write witty, compelling topical posts all throughout the month, or 3) get over myself. I’ll let you know what I decide…

On the (very small) upside, the viewers I did get stayed longer and viewed slightly more pages on each visit. So at least there’s that…

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 3 Comments »

On the Apple iPhone…

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

Well, I couldn’t very well have a blog and not comment on the iPhone this weekend, could I?

I didn’t buy one, nor do I know anyone who did, so I’ll reserve my comments on the device itself to the reviews I’ve read/watched. On the upside: the user interface looks amazing, the screen itself doesn’t seem to be a problem (I had privately predicted that there would be big complaints about scratching, smudging, etc. that would make the screen hard to read and/or sluggish in its tactile response), the web browser seems to be the best on any handheld device, and some of the new paradigms they’ve introduced are sure to revolutionize human-computer interaction (e.g., the two-fingered “pinching” and “spreading” motions, and the asynchronous voicemail access). On the downside: the phone-related features seem to be fair at best (call quality, speed of the data network), and there seem to be a few complaints about the physical form factor that will probably be addressed in the next version. This CNET Review points out that the virtual keyboard for e-mail/text messages only displays in portrait mode, making it a bit crowded to type with two hands. Also, the headphone jack is recessed into the device, so while the standard earbuds fit nicely, other headphones with the same size plug might not fit snugly into an iPhone – sure to be a huge disappointment to current iPod owners who have upgraded their headphones already.

My initial impression: the smart money is probably on waiting for the second version of this device. User feedback will do a lot to improve some of the flaws, there will probably be new features introduced, and market pressures will probably force either AT&T to step up their speed/quality, or Apple to do a deal with another network provider.

One other comment I want to make, though: I’m very impressed with how Research in Motion, makers of the ubiquitous BlackBerry device, have handled the iPhone launch. They’re obviously the big fish in the pond Apple’s just jumped into, and they made some rather impressive marketing moves on Friday to steal away some of Apple’s buzz.

First of all, they’ve strategically placed ads in cool and creative places (like the CNET video iPhone review I linked to above). Also, they released their first quarter earnings results after the market closed on Thursday, so the Friday morning stories would be about them, not Apple. Their results “blew the doors off” analyst expectations, sending the stock up 20% in a single day. But the real genius was in the “fun facts” they subtly dropped into the earnings report. For instance, RIM sells phones in 100 countries with 300 carriers. iPhone is launching in the US only, and on only one carrier. Also, RIM expects to sell their 20 millionth BlackBerry this summer, adding 1.2 million subscribers in the last three months (an 18% gain). When people start quoting unit sales of the iPhone, the numbers will pale in comparison. Finally, the CEO thanked Apple for the iPhone hype in his accompanying conference call: “I think (Apple) did us a great favor, because they drove attention to the converged appliance base.”

RIM’s stock could have plunged next week, as analysts feared the sudden increase in competition. Instead, RIM has positioned themselves as a market leader that dwarfs the iPhone, and a beneficiary of the huge press their market is receiving. This is the power of the incumbent at work, folks, and they’ve done a masterful job.

Categories: Tech Talk | 3 Comments »

                     Next Entries »