Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, May 31, 2009 7:39 pm

Crop report

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 7:39 pm
Tags: , ,

The apples are coming in. So are the pears, but they’re running a little behind the apples.

No more peaches. The peach tree got so sick that we had to take it down.

Friday, April 3, 2009 8:08 pm

Back on, for now

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 8:08 pm

The good news is that some serious home repairs are now pretty much done and I was able to hook computer and Internet back up today.

That’s the good news. The bad news is, we pulled up a corner of the carpet in my study last night and found rotten subflooring — so much that even if the beams underneath aren’t also rotten, they’re probably moldy and will have to be replaced.


Thursday, April 2, 2009 11:53 am

What’s up?

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 11:53 am

Not our home Internet connection, which has been down several days because of home maintenance issues too boring to go into. Meanwhile, God bless the Greensboro Public Library, and your regular inanity will resume shortly. Thanks for your patience.

Monday, February 9, 2009 5:15 pm

Help me, Internets … again

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 5:15 pm

This is getting to be an annoying habit, and I hope I’m not taxing the Internets’ patience. That said …

For the first time since I bought this computer several years ago, I find myself needing to fax something. When I attempted to do so, I could not. Rummaging around in the Help files revealed that for the fax to work, the “Fax Services” component of Windows must be activated. However, when I try to do that, I’m told I must insert a Windows XP disc for this to happen.

I don’t have a Windows XP disc, per se. Never did. XP (Media Center Edition) came factory-installed, w/o discs.

Leaving aside the question of why in the pluperfect hell XP wouldn’t ship with fax services installed, what can I do here?

Thanks in advance for any help anyone can offer.

Thursday, February 5, 2009 2:42 pm

Help me, Internets

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 2:42 pm

I’m using OpenOffice 3.0’s Write module to try to print an envelope. I’ve followed all the directions in the Help file and in the online FAQ. When I hit “print,” the printer head behaves as if it’s printing, but the resulting envelope is blank. I’ve printed standard 8.5×11 pages and even printed a “New Envelope” download from the OO.o site, but I can’t get it to print envelopes I’ve created myself, either as new documents or inserted into an existing document. Can anyone tell me what I’m doing wrong?


Monday, January 19, 2009 11:10 am

iHate iTunes

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 11:10 am
Tags: ,

Frustration the latest: A song I long ago ripped from a CD and burned to Victoria’s Shuffle shows up and plays just fine on her Shuffle but now is nowhere to be found in my iTunes music library. Possibly relatedly, on the contents list for the Shuffle, the song shows up in the list with a little exclamati0n-mark icon on a gray background to the far left. What does that mean, and what in pluperfect hell is iTunes doing with my (not only legal but also paid for with my hard-earned dollars) songs?

Saturday, January 17, 2009 1:44 pm

Reopening the doors

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 1:44 pm

Akismet has been doing an admirable job of filtering spam, so I’ve de-moderated the comments to see what happens. Y’all play nicely.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 12:29 pm

The final edition

Filed under: Housekeeping,Journalism — Lex @ 12:29 pm

If you follow me on Facebook or the work blog, you know that Jan. 2 was my last day at the News & Record. The company offered voluntary buyouts several weeks ago, and I took one.

This obviously was a tough decision. My gut reaction when the announcement of buyouts first went out was, “You need to take this.” But I thought a lot about it, and talked to a lot of people, before pulling the trigger right before the end of the year.

My thinking went something like this, although I can’t swear it went in this order.

First, as even a lot of non-newspaper people now know, the newspaper industry is in a lot of financial trouble because circulation has been dropping more or less like a rock in most markets. A lot of places have laid off a lot of people. I won’t bore you with the details, nor will I belabor the point with statistics. But it’s grim, and the prospects of a substantial turnaround anytime soon look dim.

Historically, the N&R has weathered economic downturns better than a lot of places. During the 1990-91 recession, for example, there were retirement buyouts, but no layoffs, at a time when a lot of other newspaper chains were shedding jobs. Not being a stockholder in the paper’s parent (privately held) company, I didn’t know exactly what the numbers were for the N&R. But I knew they weren’t good. I also knew, and some of you will remember, that the paper laid off a number of people in mid-2007.

The details of the buyout are confidential, but as most such offers do, this one hinged on tenure with the company. I’d been with the N&R just shy of 22 years. With no guarantee that there wouldn’t be more layoffs sometime soon (with severance packages not nearly as generous), the math looked pretty compelling.

Finally — and I don’t want to use this to try to make me look noble or anything, but it did cross my mind — I figured that my taking the buyout might buy a little more job security for someone who couldn’t. I talked to a number of people who wanted to take the buyout but either hadn’t been with the N&R long enough for the money to be much help or who couldn’t leave because they would lose health insurance. And, of course, I talked to people who wanted to stay no matter what.

I hate what has happened to the newspaper industry. What’s ironic is that I’m awful at prognostication — I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I’ve ever even bet on a sports event, and I’ve never publicly predicted the outcome of any election. But I can’t say I didn’t see this disaster coming a long time ago. I was reminded of this recently when I popped an old floppy into my home machine to make sure the new drive was working properly and found on it a letter I had written to friends of mine in October 1994. At the time, I was leading the team that was creating Triad Online, the N&R’s first Web site. We were still about two months away from soft launch, but we were about to become one of the first 25 or 30 newspapers in the country to put up a more-or-less functional, news-delivering Web site. Here’s what I said to my friends:

One hidden blessing of my work with the online service is getting to spend a good bit of time on the Internet, exchanging ideas with people in my line of work and people on the outside looking in. It has aroused hope and despair — hope, in that I can see that the way things work in cyberspace is different and, in most ways, better than the way they work in most daily papers and offers a model for what we could become; despair, in that the newspaper industry does an awesome job of killing off its best thinkers early in their careers. If newspapers go on-line and try to stay there, either they will be abandoned by their customers or forced by them to become more open and responsive. The process of deciding “what’s news” will become more democratized, with fewer such decisions made by a closeted, small group of isolated, middle-aged white men. Reporters will be challenged by their online readers to find better source materials, better human sources. Editors who make stupid decisions about, say, naming rape victims will be forced by online readers to defend those decisions publicly — will be forced, in short, to do something they haven’t done in years: think about the news. Scary thought for a lot of them. But the scariest thought of all is that newspaper editors won’t make the change. They have invested too much time and effort to gain this power; they don’t want to give it up. And I think what will happen is that before they do give it up, their readers will give them up. Online doesn’t need to kill newspapers, but it probably will, and the newspapers will have only their own editors to blame.

As predictions go, this one was fair-to-middlin’. Newspapers actually did become more open; their online interaction with the public really did evolve in the way I described. The News & Record was a national leader in that regard, and I’m proud to have helped make that happen.

And, yeah, the industry’s editors were to some extent to blame for the dive the industry has taken. But the industry is getting killed not because of its content, although that’s a factor in some markets. It’s getting killed because its traditional revenue sources got siphoned off by competitors like Craigslist. Its business side never found a way to make money online in sufficient quantities to support a news operation, even at margins lower than print had historically achieved.

It was a bad scene, and just how bad it was was driven home to me as the word spread that I was going to be leaving the paper. The first thing every single person who had heard the news said to me on getting to talk to me about it or leave me a message was, “Congratulations!” I was starting to wonder if I should be developing survivor guilt.

I am at peace with my decision to leave, but that absolutely does not mean I regret any of the time I spent there. In my almost 22 years at the News & Record, I got to do a whole bunch of stuff I loved and had looked forward to getting the chance to do.

For one thing, beats at the paper defined certain minimum obligations but were not by any means intended to be confining. During my time as an investigative reporter, I got to do a big ol’ story on the resurgence of pinball, for example. (Obviously this was years ago; pinball is now basically dead except for computer simulations.) In addition to my beat responsibilities, I spent three years covering PTL and Jim Bakker. Later, I got to turn religion into a hard-news beat and then cover it that way, which was also educational, and I got to write a wide-ranging religion column while I held that beat — almost a blog in print, before I or anyone else in our newsroom had heard of blogging. I got to learn database analysis. As regional editor, I got huge satisfaction out of hiring good people and helping them grow and learn. As assistant features editor, I got to work with some of the most talented pure writers in the newsroom, a job that involved just as much learning as it did managing. I got to be an investigative-projects reporter. I got to lead an enterprise team. (And you haven’t lived until you’ve cut a reporter like Stan Swofford or Taft Wireback loose on a story. It’s the journalism equivalent of getting to drive a Ferrari.) I got to lead the aforementioned Triad Online team, a diverse and creative bunch who made sure we got our first Web effort off on the right foot. And as citizen-journalism coordinator, I spent 2005 neck-and-neck with Rob Curley in terms of who had the coolest newspaper job on the planet AND got mentioned in the New York Times. (I just wish Dad could have lived another month to see that.)

Even more important than that, though, were the relationships I built over the years, with co-workers and with people in the community. I even met my wife on the job. (She was working for another paper then, and she and I both covered the 1987 Klan march in Greensboro, the first one since the 1979 Klan-Nazi killings.) Those friendships have been amazing. Just one example: On the June day in 2005 when I returned from burying my father after having been out of town in the hospital with him most of the previous month, I pulled into the driveway and found photo director Rob Brown and his son there with a lawn mower, preparing to take care of the chores I hadn’t been there to handle. You think I didn’t tear up?

I started in the newspaper business on Feb. 26, 1984, almost exactly 25 years ago. On the twentieth anniversary of that date in a post that apparently has been lost to Blogger, WordPress, the Google cache AND, (UPDATE: Post is here), I composed a list of things I had learned after 20 years in newspapers. If I remember the last two correctly, they were something on the order of “I can’t imagine ever leaving newspapers” and “I know the day will come when I will have to leave.”

That day has come. I have nothing but fondness for the experience. And now it’s time to leave.

(I’ve tried to insert the *.pdf of the parody front page my colleagues gave me when I left, but WordPress isn’t letting me, even though it supposedly will handle *.pdf files. Anyone got any suggestions on getting it to show up? Thanks.)

Friday, January 9, 2009 11:29 am

I’m not that guy

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 11:29 am

I noticed in my blog stats that someone came here based on the Google search phrase [Lex “Democratic Underground”]. The first link was to a journal for someone named Lex on Democratic Underground, which I do not frequent. For the record, although the individual says he is located in “central North Carolina,” I am not that Lex, and I don’t know who is.

Just sayin’.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 11:06 am

Another Scribefire test

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 11:06 am

Another Scribefire test. Please ignore.

Scribefire test

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 11:03 am

This is a Scribefire test. Please ignore.

Sunday, December 14, 2008 4:00 pm

iTunes/iPod Shuffle questions

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 4:00 pm
Tags: , ,

Having been unable to find the answers on Apple’s site, I now turn to the wisdom of Teh Intertubes to try to solve a problem Ann is having with her iPod Shuffle.

The main problem: Music is dying off the Shuffle. She had the thing close to full, and then all but two songs disappeared from it. This has happened twice now. She and I are both mystified. Is this a Shuffle problem or an iTunes problem?

And a question: Is there any way to set up separate music libraries in iTunes for separate users on a PC (i.e., if you log in as one user, you have a separate iTunes music library from what you’d have if you logged in as a different user, assuming both users have set up music libraries.

And another question: Where on the PC does iTunes store its music library (i.e., in what directory/folder?). I’ve gone looking (including in My Documents\My Music, whence I first imported music into iTunes) but haven’t found it. A search by *.mp3 doesn’t turn it up, either.

Finally, how do you get iTunes to play a truly random sampling from the entire music library? When I try, I get only recently imported tunes, and when I hit “random” twice in the same session, I get the same songs I got when I hit random the first time.

Thanks in advance for any help anyone can offer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 9:23 pm

Think with Frank

My Uncle Frank has started a blog called For-What-It’s-Worth Philosophy for Free Thinkers [note name change], and he intends to do some (by blogging standards, anyway) intellectual heavy lifting. Go check him out.

Saturday, November 1, 2008 1:24 pm

Frustration with phone video

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 1:24 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Folks, I’ve got a problem that perhaps someone can help me with.

My cell phone takes video in the 3gpp2 format (*.3g2), which supposedly is the standard, or at least a popular format, for phone video. I’ve transferred the file to my computer with no problem. I’ve downloaded a low-tech but serviceable *.3g2 player. However, I cannot find any freeware that successfully converts the file to *.avi, *.wmv, QuickTime or any other more commonly used video format. The best candidate I found won’t convert video that doesn’t have an audio track with it, which my phone video does not. I have Googled for possible solutions and downloaded/installed more than a dozen, but when I’ve tried each, either the “converted” file is empty or it won’t convert at all.

I can convert it online through, but I’d like to have something in-house.

Does anyone have any suggestions for something that might work?


Monday, August 18, 2008 7:53 pm

Well, THAT sucked, too.

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 7:53 pm
Tags: ,

We’ve got the house almost back to normal now. What about the house, you ask, was abnormal? Why, I’m ever so glad you asked.

Weeks ago — I can’t even remember when now and I don’t want to go digging around in the files to find the receipt — the air-conditioning guy came out to the house to give our two units their annual servicing. Somehow, in so doing, he managed to break the line that carries condensation — that’d be water — from the unit in the attic down to the outside. That water instead flowed down the inside of one of our walls for about five days, until one night I happened to look up near the stairwell ceiling and noticed a pancake-sized blister in the wall paint.

Fearing the worst, I went downstairs and looked in the closet underneath the stairs to see if I could find any sign of water. I didn’t find anything damp, but I did find a fair bit of mold that I knew hadn’t been there before. Certain members of my household are allergic to mold. Like all but one of us.

It was another two days before the A/C people could get someone else back out to the house, which annoyed me no end. But I’ll give them props for this: They didn’t for one second try to claim it wasn’t their fault. And the manager swore up and down they’d get it all made right.

He just didn’t say how long it would take.

Part of the problem was that until the mold remediation people started ripping wall down, they had no idea just how bad the problem was. We lost the entire stairwell wall, one full wall and parts of two others in the laundry room, which adjoins the stairwell, part of the laundry-room ceiling and the bottom three steps on the stairwell.

Oh, and the floor and first level of subflooring in the laundry room. Our washer and dryer ended up in the living room for quite a while.

The mold remediation kept us from being able to get upstairs for several days. We had a beach vacation coming up, so we packed for the beach the night before the mold guys got there, figuring
we might not get another chance. We were wise to do so.

No work got done while we were at the beach, obviously, and no work got done for the first week after we got back (although we could go upstairs again). Once the restoration work began, it took seven full working days. They finished this past Monday. We spent most of yesterday and today cleaning up the fine film of dust that drywall work always leaves elsewhere in the house no matter how carefully you hang your plastic sheets. Fun.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 7:02 am

Well, THAT sucked

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 7:02 am
Tags: ,

My hard drive died a couple of weeks ago. I only got the computer back from the shop yesterday (more on that in a minute).

Everybody who lives through this kind of thing learns some lessons. Mine was: Despite using XP Media Center’s backup function faithfully and backing up to an outboard hard drive, which appears to have saved most or all of my data, many of my apps are now gone for good. Among them was Office, although after I raised hell with the repair shop, they installed a temporary version I supposedly can combine with my authorization key to make permanent. (I’ve finally found my disc for the permanent version, so worst case, I can reinstall. Still….)

But I had a number of other apps for multimedia, and they apparently are either outright gone or else fatally damaged. Among them were Photoshop Elements, Premiere (video capture/editing), an audio editing suite, Click 2 DVD (video capturing and DVD burning), and others, enough to make me a one-man multimedia center, lacking only Flash and something like Dreamweaver for creating Web pages. They were factory-installed on the original hard drive, with no discs accompanying the computer. Their total replacement value is somewhere north of $2,500. And they’re gone for good. Also gone: Norton Antivirus (and my attempts to install AVG freeware have been running into problems).

Interestingly, it was my freeware apps that seemed to survive in the best shape. Firefox, IrfanView (photo-editing), Ad-Aware antispyware, Audacity audio-editing software and most of the others survived, by and large. But the expensive stuff? Bye-bye.

I also was underwhelmed by both the quality of the work this place did and the length of time it took them to do it. In particular, when they called me to get authorization for the work after running a diagnostic, I specifically asked them to recover both data and apps. No one told me they couldn’t recover the apps. Had I known that, I might have looked into getting a new computer rather than trying to fix the one I’ve got. Also annoying: They appear to have created a new user, one that isn’t listed among options for sign-in but under which most of my data appears to be stored if you look at the DOS directory. I’m not going to name the place here on the blog, but the parent company is going to be getting a long list of specific complaints.

So, to protect your stuff, learn more about backing up than I did. And do it regularly. Mean time to failure for hard drives is something like 5 1/2 years, but that means a lot die much sooner than that. My repair bill would have paid for a slightly-better-than-low-end laptop, and if I had really needed the multimedia apps for work, I’d be looking at that repair bill PLUS close to two grand for a new PC.

And software makers: Get over yourselves and start including discs with the PCs to which you license your stuff. I don’t give a rat’s hind end if it costs you more.

Friday, April 25, 2008 7:05 pm


Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 7:05 pm
Tags: ,

Not much to say right now, really. I’m meeting Tony for lunch tomorrow and looking forward to that.

Thursday, April 3, 2008 7:12 pm


Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 7:12 pm

From the Shameless Promotion of My Employer Dept.:

I published a story on March 22 about an eighth-grader at Greensboro Day School who went into cardiac arrhythmia. His life was saved because the school had a portable defibrillator and staff trained to use it nearby. Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds, one of the nation’s most widely read bloggers, linked to the story, and a subsequent post on my work blog, on Wednesday.

It’ll be interesting to see what that does to our hit counts.

Thanks to Ed Cone, who tipped Reynolds.

Sunday, January 20, 2008 7:13 pm

Psst. Pass it on.

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 7:13 pm

My friend and former co-worker Blair Pethel has tagged me with an Internet meme. I’m not going to pass it on to anyone via e-mail as he asks because I know some people get annoyed at that, but I will answer the questions here.

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Fry cook
2. Lawn-care guy
3. Disc jockey
4. Journalist

B) Four movies I would watch over and over (or have):
Better Off Dead
The Princess Bride
Blazing Saddles
Young Frankenstein

C) Four places I have lived:
1. Charlotte, N.C.
2. New York
3. Gastonia, N.C.
4. Greensboro, N.C.

D) Four TV Shows that I watch:
1. Carolina Panthers football games. Other than the odd Carolina basketball game, that’s really it; I otherwise gave up the TV habit a few years ago.

E) Four places I have been:
1. Italy
2. Mexico
3. St. Thomas
4. The Bahamas

F) People who e-mail me (regularly):

1. Fred
2. David
3. Tony
4. Blair

G) Four of my favorite foods:
1. Grilled salmon
2. Chocolate ice cream
3. Stamey’s BBQ
4. Nacho Cheese Doritos

H) Four places I would rather be right now:

1. In bed
2. Tuscany
3. St. Thomas
4. Sonoma County

J) Four things I am looking forward to in 2008:
1. Rain
2. Watching my kids grow
3. Keeping off the weight I’ve lost
4. Vacation

Feel free to swipe this for your own blog.

Sunday, January 6, 2008 3:22 pm

Remembrance of things past

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 3:22 pm

Yesterday — coincidentally, my 48th birthday — I said goodbye to a huge chunk of my past.

I gathered up all my vinyl LPs from their various resting places in closets, and I took them all to Edward McKay to sell them — from AC/DC and the Accelerators to Warren Zevon. I also took the stereo I’d had since college — receiver, turntable, cassette deck, bookshelf speakers and a latterly-added CD player, plus all the cables except for speaker wire — and donated them to the Salvation Army.

I did so not to make any sort of grand gesture of severance from my past. I did it because I had come to realize that, realistically, I don’t listen to the music or use the stereo and that it has been more than a decade since I did. Much as I might like to digitize all the old vinyl, I know I will never have the time to do so. And the house is too full of stuff in general; it’s past time for a lot of it to go.
The vinyl accumulated between 1971, before I owned anything of my own on which to play it, and about 1989, when we got our first CD player. It totaled a couple of hundred albums (I had many more before my time in New York, whence many of my albums did not return, or did not return in playable condition.), mostly rock but some jazz and classical as well. Many were in excellent condition. When I got a new album, I typically recorded it to cassette so as to be able to listen to it in the car, and frequently I never touched the vinyl again. I’m sure the folks at Ed McKay were salivating; they get $7 for used single vinyl albums in good condition, in nominal terms about what they cost when I bought them all those years ago.

So I said goodbye to it all. And I walked away from Ed McKay’s with $130 to spend on dinner and a movie with the family.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 12:45 pm


Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 12:45 pm

Ed Cone blogs here about his blog traffic, what drives it and what his blog drives.

Prior to taking the blog dark last winter, I was averaging around 180-200 hits per day. After I resumed blogging, the numbers climbed back up from roughly zero (hits from searches on “Thomas the Tank Engine,” among other things, helped keep things alive). They’re now averaging 40 to 60 hits, and I’ve perceived no upswing or downswing in recent weeks.

Sometime in the past few days, when I wasn’t looking, this blog passed the 100,000-hit mark. It’s a classic example of getting results just by hanging around. I’ve never gotten a link from Atrios, Drudge, Instapundit, Slashdot or any of the other heavy hitters Ed names. (Have never written the kind of thing that would lead me to expect one, for that matter.) I did get a link from once or twice via a friend of a friend, and those were good for 1,800 to 2,000 hits per day each before traffic settled back to normal.

I do this for me. If visitors find it worthwhile, I’m delighted, and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 7:12 am


Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 7:12 am

Rassafrassin’ cable modem apparently has given up for good. More coming, perhaps, when I can swap it out.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007 11:10 pm

Just checking in

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 11:10 pm

When I pretty much laid off blogging about six months ago, I fully intended to return at the same level of productivity as before, about this time or soon after Labor Day.

But a funny thing happened on the way back to the keyboard: After five-plus years and a coupla thousand posts, I discovered I’d gotten tired of blogging.

As I said in that earlier post, I wanted to re-read the entire Harry Potter series, and I did, along with the final book in the series. I’m now reading a history of American infantry in WWII, along with some back issues of the New Yorker. And I find I like that better than blogging.

I’m also, for the first time in my life, trying to get a decent amount of sleep every night. And I find I like that better than blogging.

And I’m trying to get some exercise in a way I haven’t tried since Victoria was born. And I don’t like that better than blogging, but it’s doing me some good — down 15 since the 4th of July.

In fact, I haven’t spent much time on the computer at all lately. Part of it has been that Earthlink’s e-mail server stubbornly refuses to recognize my e-mail clients. Web-based e-mail works fine for most people, and for me in a pinch, but it makes it hard to store or organize stuff. So I’ve responded by just ignoring e-mail for days at a time. And if I can do that, I can ignore blogging as well.

And I’m not spending much time reading blogs as well. My subscription list has dropped from about 125 to about 15, and those 15 are all ones whose authors I know in real life (one of them is work-related). And I don’t comment on those very much.

I’m not quitting. If I shoot another photo I’m vain enough to think you’ll like, I’ll post it. If the kids say something I think you’d enjoy reading, I’ll post that. Maybe. But this slowdown, originally envisioned as a 5- or 6-month thing, might well be permanent.

Friday, June 1, 2007 6:37 pm

And the head sticks up, briefly, from the gopher hole

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 6:37 pm

OK, at least all my archives are back — at least, all those recoverable from my own files and/or the Wayback Machine.

But I’m still deep in the salt machines the Harry Potter series, so I won’t be blogging regularly for a while, if at all.

Monday, February 5, 2007 11:16 pm

Can’t slow down …

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 11:16 pm

… so I gotta stop, temporarily.

(And, no, this is not a publicity stunt. Or, if so, it’s a damned stupid one. It took me until November to get back to the readership level I enjoyed the last time I took a sabbatical.)

I have a number of projects on my plate that have been hanging fire way too long, so, with the exception of a short upcoming post featuring some of Hooper’s recent artwork (which I’ve scanned but must re-size before posting), I’m going to take a break of indeterminate length. That post will be clocked behind this one, so no one will wonder where I went.

Some of my extracurricular activity will be visible. For one thing, cut-and-paste by cut-and-paste, I’m going to knock down the backlog of unposted archives here. (UPDATE: I might re-format some, but any substantive changes will be clearly labeled as updates, like this one.)

But most of it will be off-grid. For one thing, I want to re-read the whole Harry Potter series before the last book comes out July 21, and if I started right this second, given everything else going on, I still might not finish. Got some other, personal, stuff to deal with too. (Nothing acutely life-threatening, nor even health-related, so neither despair nor rejoice.) But despite 3 1/2 decades of trying to prove otherwise, there really are only 24 hours in a day.

Like the blog says, reality will not ignore you. Time to heed my own warning.

I’ll jack the shotgun to give you some warning before I start shooting again. ‘Til then, peace.

(FINAL UPDATE: While I’m gone, comments are disabled, mainly as an anti-spam measure. You can e-mail me if you feel the need.)

Saturday, February 3, 2007 12:59 pm

Yet another reason why capital punishment for trolls is just liberal do-goodism.

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 12:59 pm

I opened up the blog just now to find that the number of comments accumulated during a single day had hit a record by a wide margin — and all but about four were spam.

That doesn’t surprise me. Every now and then the spammers get hold of an IP address or range that hasn’t been used for that purpose before, and it takes the spam filters (and WordPress’s Akismet filter is a very good one) a day or two to catch up.

What’s noteworthy about this is that every single one of the spam posts said, in their texts, how bad spam is. That’s like having someone defecate on your front porch and then nailing a note to your door saying how awful it is when people defecate on your front porch. The difference is, you know they’re both going to try to come back, but with the defecater*, you can at least sit in the bushes with a double-barreled shotgun loaded with rock salt.

*Copyright dibs on this word. Anyone seeking to make a movie with this title owes me a large pepperoni/pesto pizza from My Father’s Pizza in Black Mountain.

Monday, January 29, 2007 2:41 am

C’mon, let’s blogwhore! You know you want to.

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 2:41 am

For the first time in many months, I went through the blogroll tonight, purged the Dead Blogs Rotting and added some blogs that, in most cases, I should have added a long time ago.

If I should have added yours and didn’t, please tell me, particularly if you’re local, although I retain all rights not to link to you because you’re site’s too commercial, because it undermines the local economy (no, Hooper, I will not link to the Mack Trucks site; Greensboro is a Volvo Trucks town), or its aesthetics are not sufficiently pleasing, or whatever.

Oh, snap!*

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 2:20 am

Those previews that would pop up when you scrolled over links in the posts here are now gone, for two reasons:

  1. They covered up chunks of text you were trying to read.
  2. They slowed the page loading time — significantly, in some cases.

If y’all want ’em back, I’ll bring ’em back. But based on what little comment I’ve gotten so far, I’m not holding my breath waiting for a groundswell of support.

*My daughter says this a lot. I hope it doesn’t mean anything objectionable. 

Thursday, January 25, 2007 7:01 pm

Faster rats

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 7:01 pm

The comment spammers grow more clever, and the identity thieves grow more brazen. A harmless but really annoying example of the latter came in the form of a comment left here today by someone posing as one of my best friends, an extremely well-spoken blogger.

His e-mail account having been under the weather recently, I had to go to his blog and alert him to the suspicious incident. I don’t know what was more suspicious:

1) The lack of any WHOIS info at ARIN for the IP address. (For you non-geeks, this is supposed to tell you where the comment originated from, even if the info isn’t any more specific than the fact that it was, say, a RoadRunner account.)

2) The fact that the commenter used “dude” as a noun of direct address and/or in any context other than that of faux ranching.

You still wanna know why I moderate comments?

UPDATE: It really was my friend, who confirms that the IP address is his and adds, “Hey, occasionally I am possessed by surfers.” I’d call a priest and get that looked at; sounds ugly.

Friday, January 12, 2007 9:41 pm


Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 9:41 pm

To: Commenters
From: Lex
Date: 1/12/07
Codifying as policy some of the things I’ve said in private conversations lately with some of you.

  • This blog is my property. It is not yours, my employer’s or anyone else’s. No commenter is owed space on it, I don’t care how much of a whiny-ass entitlement mentality you bring to the discussion.
  • I do not get paid to teach you Logic 101. If you have not studied logical fallacies, you don’t get free lessons from me when you use arguments that contain one. Your comment gets spiked, end of story.
  • My blog is not a landing strip for your first, pitiable efforts at intellectual solo flight, and I am sure as hell not your flight instructor. If you don’t know how to fly, you will crash here. Hard. And I will mock you as you do. (This was directed primarily at the drunken fratboys with *.edu registrations I hear from. Sadly, however, it applies to a number of people who appear to be old enough to know better.)
  • I don’t know everything, but there are a few things I know one helluva lot about and one or two on which I’m probably among the 15 or 20 most knowledgeable people in the country. Yes, really. When I speak on those subjects, you’re welcome to take issue with my facts if you have documentation. (And when I say “welcome,” I mean literally that; if I’m wrong, I want to know ASAP so I don’t further embarrass myself, if nothing else.) But absent that, you absolutely do not get to indulge your profound belief that somehow, in spite of the evidence I’ve seen or compiled, what I’ve said can’t possibly be true because it conflicts with your precious but uninformed world view. Taking such a position is the mark of a mental child. And here at Blog on the Run, we’re Adults Only in this regard.

Don’t like it? There’s the mouse. Click it. Please. Since I started throwing asstards like you off my blog, my visitorship is up about 50%.

UPDATE 1: One of the aforementioned asstards attempts to comment whines, “You are the most self-centered, sanctimonious son of a bitch I’ve ever met.” To which I would respond: 1) Yup; 2) You clearly don’t get out much; and 3) I find it an interesting little glimpse into your psyche that a pseudonymous troll claims to have MET me. It’s that old entitlement mentality again. Sorry, sweetie; I know commenters like you are used to getting your way and being able to bully people you disagree with, but there’s a new sheriff in this little subdivision of the Intertubes so that sh*t is over. You want to have a conversation, you walk up like a real man and introduce yourself with your real name. At the very least, you e-mail me with real name and real contact info and a damn good reason why you have to be publicly pseudonymous, and you leave the personal invective behind.

UPDATE 2: Asstard No. 2, who left almost nothing but abuse on both my home and my work blogs for at least 18 months before I banned his sorry ass, attempts to comment whines, “Don’t you understand I’m just trying to help you?” No, moron, I don’t. What I understand is that you’re narcissistic enough … to think that I am stupid enough … to interpret your abuse as help. That’s creepy. That’s “I only beat my wife for her own good” creepy. And you want me to listen to you? Nah. Guh. Happen. (Speaking of help, get some. I am a self-centered, santimonious son of a bitch, but I don’t troll other people’s blogs calling them bad names and claiming it’s for their own good. Now I think on it, that’s not just narcissistic, that’s delusional.)

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