Friday, January 30

wrong DNA

I was looking for the North Dallas Neighborhood Alliance (NDNA) and tried, which turned out to be the North Dakota Nurses Association. Oops. Turns out the correct URL is

spotted: Ben (of Ben & Jerry's) on Federal Budget & Cookies ( Rumor has it that Dick Cheney banned their ice cream from the White House after seeing this. Knowing how much the VP loves Ben & Jerry's ice cream, this must be serious stuff.

Gotta love the arm patch for the Salem Police Department - Salem, Massachusetts (they're available for $5 from the Cop Shop link).

The Brains Trust (British satire site) is having a field day with the BBC-Iraq-Tony Blair scandal. Great stuff, highly recommended (and far less bizarre than

I need to replace my weather-beaten windsock. Shall I order from Wind and or Into the or Quality ? Hmmm.

Thursday, January 29

Friday Five

You have just won one million dollars.

Who do you call first?
Matthew P Brumley

What is the first thing you buy for yourself?
a jar of stewed beets

What is the first thing you buy for someone else?
a new orange shirt to match Matthew P's orange socks

Do you give any away? If yes, to whom?
Yes. The remaining $999,985 will be split between America's Second Harvest and the SPCA of Texas - both worthy causes.

Do you invest any? If so, how?
Yes. I invest the remaining funds in whatever venture is recommended by the Psychic Friends Network (but I'm sure they already knew that -- they're psychic, ya know)

Spotted: GuardOS for secure computing, sitting between the computer hardware and the JVM (Java™ Virtual Machine)

Wednesday, January 28

Why, yes .. that is a banana in my pocket!

I wonder if anyone has written a chronology of the online dating sites? I seem to remember hearing about before any others, but wonder if Yahoo! Personals was there first? I've written in the GeneBobBlog before about the speed-dating places (see the Sunday, 6.7.3 entry)

A recent trend is the referral sites such as Friendster, then Tickle (by Emode) and even Orkut (by Google). Then today I read about Matcheroo. Personally, I prefer meeting others at The Dog Park, so I'm practicing new pickup lines, such as "Hey, nice Doberman!" and "Are those your real Schnauzers?".

spotted: Nick-N-Willy's World Famous Pizza. Their distinction is that they sell a freshly prepared (versus grocery frozen) pizza that you bake at home. Their only current local location is in Richardson, near Starbucks (Coit/Campbell).

After eating Nick-N-Willy's pizza, I'll need these spreadsheets for a home gym workout: Homegrown Muscle: The Series ... and then, with my washboard abs, I'll need a new name, so best to use one of these Name Generators.

Monday, January 26

Nice Socks!

Due to another commitment, I won't be league-bowling tonight. This is so sad, since I've grown used to viewing the coordinated wardrobe of one Matthew P. Brumley*. His SBA [Standard Bowling Attire] includes orange socks and a non-matching orange T-shirt with the number 11 on the back and an X (Roman numeral 10?) on the front. I suspect there is a deep-seated meaning to this numerology fixation. I asked him if he was a Syracuse University fan and he said no - but it's obvious that he's enamored with Orange Socks. Maybe he's a University of Tennessee fan?

* GeneBobBlog readers will note that I commonly use aliases here, unless granted permission by the individual. Yes, Matthew P. has granted permission. So there. Henceforth, he shall be known as NiceSox.

NiceSox is on the same team as NiceShirt, in case you were wondering (I know you were). Maybe I'll see them both at the Blackout Extravaganza (after league bowling is complete). Several thousand people are expected, so get your tickets early.

GoogL'ost: Joy of

Sunday, January 25

maximizing effectiveness

I almost made a mistake: neglecting to check the AIP's Charity Rating Guide and Watchdog Report. There are many well-run charities, but also many who have excessive fundraising expenses (meaning that less of my money gets to the real recipients). The AIP's Mission Statement is "... to maximize the effectiveness of every dollar contributed to charity by providing donors with the information they need to make more informed giving decisions."

I went to Texadelphia for a late lunch; their specialties are beef or chicken cheesesteaks, but they also have veggie; turkey; salami sandwiches or even (gasp!) a hamburger. My beef cheesesteak wasn't bad!*

* In Texas, you don't say "good"; rather, you say "ain't bad". Also, you don't say "great'; rather, you say "ain't half bad". Conversely, you don't say "bad'; rather, you say "ain't good". Not sure why these all start with a negative (ain't) but they do.

culture spot: the Undermain Theatre in Deep Ellum (east of downtown Dallas).

Friday, January 23

culture in Grapevine

PJ and I went to the Gaelic Storm concert in Grapevine last night (at the Palace Theatre). It lasted about 3 hours, including the intermission. Before the concert, I got to chat with Steve Wehmeyer (one of the co-founders); that was cool. They sang a few songs from a new CD due in May. During the last 3 songs, everyone was on their feet, clapping and moving to the tunes .. great stuff. Gaelic Storm's website says they're in Austin tonight. Also performing was the Iverin Irish Dance Company (of Dallas).

I like the Palace Theatre; it only seats about 425, so every seat is a good one (even the balcony!) .. we were on row 5 so had an excellent view of the stage. This is much better than attending a concert at Reunion Arena or the AAC, but not so sure about comparisons with the Meyerson.

On a related note: do not trust those online maps to give the best directions. Had I followed the one last night, I might have ended up on Mars and run into the Spirit Rover. Fortunately, I've been to downtown Grapevine before and skillfully found The Palace without a lot of trouble -- and (male bonus) I didn't stop and ask for directions.

Completely unrelated spots:
the Glossary of Cooking Terms
Robert's Rules of Order Revised
Communications and Surveillance
Country Walkers

Friday Five

At this moment, what is your favorite...
Johnny Tarr, by Gaelic Storm (heard them sing it live last night)
probably something that's "not authorized" by the Body for Life program show?
almost anything on The History Channel (have been watching - off and on - Barbarians Week)

Cedarwood Sage (from Bath & Body Works)

"You must be new here."

Wednesday, January 21

shield your brain - from lies on labels

Mary sent a pointer to an eBay-France item: Pet Foil Hat Technology (PFHT). I believe this is a blatant ripoff of American AFDB (Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie) technology (note the photo of the dog on the AFDB site). These protect your brainwaves from prying Attorney Generals, among other things.

spotted: Stop Labeling - News and information about misleading product labels (I found this while looking for more information on Kroger's "Naturally Preferred" brand of organic foods). Somewhat related is the NPI site (Nutritional & Natural Products Industry Center)

Today, I'm comparing applications for my Palm which allow me to track progress in the Body For Life program. I found 9 PalmOS apps to track Body for Life, but have narrowed it down to either bodyADVANCE ($11 shareware) or PalmBFL ($20).

Tuesday, January 20

Blackout Extravaganza

I bowled 3 games during the Monday night leagues, then another 4 or 5 afterwards with John, Matthew and Jason during the Blackout Extravaganza (9:30p-midnight). I didn't spot anything about this on the Plano Super Bowl website; I guess they hope everyone reads about it here on the GeneBobBlog?

During Blackout bowling, they turn off the lights over the lanes so that all you see clearly are the pins. Off in the distance, a small disco ball or two provides the ambiance. Some pins are striped, but that didn't come into play last night. Last night, any time a bowler got a strike, they could go Spin The Wheel for prizes. I won a free hour of pool (billiards) for 4 people, and 2 free games of bowling. I think other stuff includes free food and/or drinks from the snack bar, and maybe an all-expense paid trip to Allen, TX (the next city north).

BTW, kudos to John for winning The Hoagie (best handicapped score (of 22 teams in our league) during the first game). He bowled a 222 scratch (277 handicap) and a 738 handicap series: very cool. I earned The Hoagie a few weeks ago with a 192 scratch (272 handicapped); our team is the only one where all 4 bowlers have won it. What is The Hoagie, you ask? It's about 10-12 sandwich-segments of turkey, ham or roast beef and Ruffles (brand) potato chips. Oftentimes there's enough to share with bowlers on other teams, too.

While John was Bowling for Hoagies, I won the informal competition with our "sister team" for the best handicapped series (I bowled a 669 handicapped series, just enough to keep Todd's demon-inspired 666 series at bay).

Monday, January 19

3 year old ZIP code split : still a problem

I went to the site to find out more about Myoplex® Lite (a nutrition drink). There is much good info, but no discount for buying online versus retail ($10/4 at GNC or $60/24 online). The Body for Life book recommends 6 small meals a day (of which 3 could be a nutrition drink). 3 servings per day of Myoplex would be $7.50 per day. Searching for Myoplex (on Froogle) produced several places which discount it.

EAS' website has a way to find local resellers, so I fed it my ZIP code and it says that Tom Thumb (owned by Safeway) carries their products; hmm .. must see if that's true (oftentimes places only carry a few products, so if I'm looking for a nutrition drink and all they carry is health bars, well, it does me no good).

I have learned to also feed websites my old ZIP code (before the USPS split it in two, July 2001); sure enough, it came up with a much longer list, including Albertsons; Kroger; Eckerd; 24 Hour Fitness; GNC; Target; and even Smoothie King.

Yesterday, we went to Oshman's and got some more toys for the exercise room, including stuff from Go One of the toys was a pair of X-Static™ socks (Nike brand) which use Dupont's CoolMax® fibers. Oshman's had a 25% off everything coupon in the Sunday DMN, good that day only (apparently to draw business during the football playoffs) . I saved about $70, so this made up for the overcharge at The Mecca!

Sunday, January 18

don't sweat the small stuff

Yesterday, I finally got around to eating at The Mecca (recommended by HayJax) ; I had my standard breakfast fare: huevos rancheros (yum) and fresh-squeezed orange juice (yum). I split one of their enormous homemade cinnamon rolls. They open at 6am for breakfast (anytime) and lunch only. The area around Harry Hines and Northwest Highway is not my neighborhood, so I won't be there every day, but if they ever open a second location, I'll be there! This place is showing its age, and has lots of kitschy memorabilia inside ("if you're smoking, you'd better be on fire" sign, and much more). Note to self: double-check their math the next time; they overcharged me. Had there not been a line behind me (they close at 2pm and it was a few minutes before) I would've taken the time to avoid that.
Deep Thought #24: there are big financial mistakes in life, and small ones; don't sweat the small stuff.
Saturday night, we went to The Magnolia (in the West Village) to see Monster; there were long lines for tickets. Charlize Theron should win a Golden Globe (at minimum) for her role as Aileen (Lee) Wuornos. It's hard to believe she's the same person; Charlize looks very different under makeup!

unrelated spot: weblogs: a history and perspective (rebecca blood, september 2000)

Friday, January 16

Friday Five

What does it say in the signature line of your emails?
It has a piece of ASCII art with the state of Texas (about 5 lines) along with my address, phone number, etc. All pretty boring stuff.

Did you have a senior quote in your high school yearbook? What was it? If you haven't graduated yet, what would you like your quote to be?
I graduated high school when pterodactyls roamed the earth. Didn't have a quote in the senior yearbook.

If you had vanity plates on your car, what would they read? If you already have them, what do they say?
I've had various ones on my car over the years. Prior ones read INGR8 (ingrate) and TOXIC. It has always annoyed me that Texas charges full price each year for personalized plates, while California charged less after the first year.

Have you received any gifts with messages engraved upon them? What did the inscription say?
My 5-year anniversary with my employer came with a "5 YEARS" engraving on a PDA, but it didn't have my name on it. I removed it from the PDA and placed it inside my car, so people would think I was given a car for my 5 year anniversary; that was great fun.

What would you like your epitaph to be?
"I told you I was sick."

Thursday, January 15

we're #10! we're #10!

Dallas ranked #10 in the recent list of Most Stressful Cities, according to Sperling's BestPlaces (of course, their methodology has to be understood and accepted before you look for someone to make a custom "We're #10!" T-shirt).

today's DMN contained "Confessions of a blogger" regarding Leia Scofield's blog: Random Thoughts from A Large Head. The article mentioned and (I was unfamiliar with the former).

When I spot something interesting in a magazine or newspaper, I make a note on my PDA. Then, weeks or months go by before I remember to check out the sites. That's what happened today when I came across pointers to Discover DFW | Grateful Palate | Diet Gourmet | Collin Street Bakery | Bradford Exchange | Google Alert | Google News Alerts | Volunteers for Peace | | Truck Trader Online

mentioned in Feb 2003 AARP Magazine:
Gohn Brothers - Amish catalog ($1)
PO Box 1110
Middlebury IN 46540

I was mildly surprised to find online, although it's just a pointer to (Pennsylvania Dutch). I remember traveling through central Ohio a few years ago, when we came across an Amish section. It was midday, so we stopped at one of their restaurants (I had no idea what to expect). Turns out it's what we'd call "home cookin'" .. I had a fish sandwich and some cole slaw .. truly Amish cuisine. In hindsight, I should have looked for any signs of electricity (did you ever hear Weird Al's Amish Paradise? .. it's a Coolio spoof)


Tuesday, January 13

of trolls and technorati

Someone pointed me to technorati (great stuff for blogs). About 99 times out of a hundred, I don't bookmark other people's blogs, but I may make an exception for odecker (allow several seconds for it to appear .. it's too long)

I suspect the vast majority of people who use the Internet have never heard of Usenet. It's probably just as well; Usenet has degraded to a place where spammers go to harvest addresses, and the troll-to-noise ratio is too high. The only lucid place to hold discussions is in a members-only, mandatory-validation group, such as

I spotted Dallas Restaurant Reviews Guide (which is basically the dfw.eats Usenet group, but in a web browser and with advertising). I wonder if that is the future of what was once a place where real hackers (vs. crackers) went to learn. Somewhat related is a local website which monitors the official restaurant inspections and posts the worst ones: Dallas Health Inspection Horrors @ the PopCulture Shack: "(updated every 15 days) lists Dallas businesses that failed (or nearly failed) health food inspections."

.. and then there was the email, forwarded by one of my co-workers, which included wrong information about flying the Texas flag (bottom line: it is incorrect to fly the Texas flag at the same height as the US flag). Yet (by choosing a unique phrase in the document) I found dozens of copies of wrong information posted across the Internet. It's amazing how most people blindly accept stuff as the truth. As usual when I smell a rat, I went directly to and found the truth: Texas flag

Monday, January 12

upsize this!

Most QSRs (Quick Service Restaurant) have Combo Meals (a.k.a. Value Meals) which come in different sizes. They've undoubtedly studied Starbucks' use of tall, grande and vente. Except for Jack-in-the-Box, the QSRs are not content to call them Small, Medium or Large; instead, they call the combos:

Biggie Size (Wendy's);
Bueno Size (Taco Bueno);
King Size (Burger King);
Super Size (McDonald's)

My favorite is Whataburger, who asks if you want to "Whatasize" your order (at first, I just thought it was an Italian guy working the drive thru). Sonic asks if you want a Route 44 (44 ounces including about 50% ice) drink. 7-11 has their Big Gulp® and Super Big Gulp®. One thing you won't find at a QSR is a MoonPie® (southern delicacy). has a lot of good information, but I was interested in their Drug Interaction Database. I take 800 IU Vitamin E, and 81 mg. aspirin each day, and it was easy to check to see if there was any problem taking them together (there was not).

It's too bad I don't live in California; I'd be grabbing some of that Free Money From Microsoft (class action claim). The Microsoft settlement claim forms are posted at; Microsoft products licensed and purchased for use in California from 18.2.95 to 15.12.1 are eligible.

GoogL'ost: Java Technology and the Mission to Mars

finally, there are (at least) two JAMAs:
Journal of the American Medical Association (includes JAMA Archive Collections);
Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.
Can you guess which organization registered their domain first?

Sunday, January 11

fail to plan, plan to fail

JB and I didn't go to the National Body Challenge yesterday because of the absurdly long lines. Kathryn Yegge's article in the DMN says 3500 people waited up to 8 hours (and only the first 2000 got those 90-day Bally's memberships). This debacle was duplicated at 100 sites across the country .. literally thousands of unhappy campers. Discovery Health gets a big ZERO for lack of common sense planning; the only plus is that they had the decency to warn people via their web site; they knew the disaster was coming. I registered in advance, and received NO emails from them with this warning.

Since I didn't go for that 6-8 hour wait, my time wasn't wasted; I finished assembling the sparkly thing from Schonbek, and even learned (via the Schonbek FAQ) how high to hang it (30" above the table).

I'm starting an annoying trend .. writing dates like some sort of truncated European IP address. Hence: January 11, 2004 becomes 11.1.4 (11 January `04) and Independence Day will be 4.7.4 .. this should baffle most humans and thus be immensely pleasurable. Who's with me on this? Chris (from MaGaW) suggests "Your Euro IP-address date format is going to crash the economy in 6 years with the Y10 bug : 2010 will appear to come before 2002-2009." to which I reply: "ah, you see My Master Plan! bwah ha^42"

Finally, spotted: Microsoft BS Analyzer

Saturday, January 10

... and fruit flies like a banana

Time flies when you're having fun. It's time to begin thinking (plotting) about what to do for April Fool's Day. It arrived 3 months early for this poor guy in Washington state: Friends foil Olympia man's home

A few weeks ago (24 Dec 2003) I wrote about the web site, and their page which lists the traffic laws which took effect in September. Today, I spotted the official Texas Department of Public Safety's official list of those laws (I suspected it had to be out there somewhere).

Wow! Talk about spellbound! What could be more exciting than reading the website of the legendary Muzak® Corporation? Someone, please .. hold me down!. I also found it interesting to see that they're in the music capital of the world (South Carolina). I must wonder if Muzak was studied in the literary work The Effects of Sound/Music on Human Digestion
Deep Thought #23: perhaps I can find this treatise in one of the shoppes in The Dallas Galleria!

Thursday, January 8

yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away

Want to let others know what you think about your automobile dealer? Go to I remember the old days (10 years ago) before there were "Pre-Owned Vehicles" (back then, they were called Used Cars). I came across this pointer after reading how one (Ontario, California) car dealer treated a customer whose car was totalled while in for routine service (one of the mechanics took the customer's sports car out for a high-speed joy ride).

I searched for used car horror stories, and there are many. So, I was amused to wander across the Texas Attorney General's advice when buying a used car.

When searching the web for "least respected professions" you consistently find used car salesmen, politicians, and journalists. I've only bought one used car, and never from a politician or journalist! I inherited one car (my 2nd) .. a beautiful mud-brown Chevrolet Nova. {sigh} Now, that was a car!

Tuesday, January 6

winter here, summer Down Undah

I saw my breath today, for the first time this winter. Today's high was 34F (much colder than Friday) but nothing like the weather in Chicago where it barely reached 9F. Just the opposite of Sydney (Australia) where summer has begun: I spoke with a co-worker today who said it's 90F there.

When I traveled Down Under (September 1993 ?) I came back with an Australian calendar. While it's true they speak English (well, kinda) I loved having a calendar where people are laying on the beach in February and skiing the slopes in August.

Deep Thought #21: I wonder if I can get one of those Aussie calendars via the web?
Deep Thought #22: single-use card numbers (like Discover®'s Deskshop) are the only way to shop on the web.

I came back from my trip with some great photos; Linda, Brooke and myself saw herds of kangaroo, like Texans see herds of cattle. Even spotted a mother and her joey at a rest stop along one of the highways (they were resting in the tall grass). On a day trip to a national park (near the capital, Canberra), I saw koalas in the wild (hint: you need a great set of binoculars to see all the way to the tops of the eucalyptus tree). We also saw wallabies, kookaburras and other fascinating wildlife (although I don't recall seeing any platypus). While in one of Melbourne's parks, I sensed that something was very odd, but couldn't put my finger on it until I realized: no squirrels! There were wild (and loud!) cockatoos. I also remember the deep space tracking antenna at Tidbinbilla: very cool.

Sydney (Australia, not Sydney, Canada) was the 3rd city I visited (even got to stay in a hotel under the Harbour Bridge) .. the one-way streets were disconcerting: the pedestrians were in all the wrong places, and numerous Aussies were lucky to have survived my driving. It was at the QVB (shopping mall) and The Rocks where I found trinkets for the folks back home in The States. I was tempted to buy a didgeridoo but decided it wouldn't fit in my checked baggage, so I just bought a CD instead.

Aussie accents took a bit getting used to. One day we were getting boarding passes at an airport when the ticket agent asked "Will you be traveling to die?" (versus traveling today). Fair dinkum! And oh yes .. vegemite is an acquired taste (hint: apply it in a very thin coating)

See my 28 October 2003 posting for a story about my return to Texas.

GoogL'ost: Universal Currency Converter

Monday, January 5


We did good @ bowling tonight .. swept the other team 4-0. This will move us up to 6th place with a lot of weeks to go. There are 22 teams in our league, and I've gotten to know one of the other teams on a first name basis. So, it with great fanfare that I congratulate Matthew for bowling a 255 (handicapped) tonight (scratch games of 212, 220, 182 for a 614 series). Nice job, Matt, even if you do wear socks that match your very orange shirt.

The 220 was good, but not good enough for OneStop! (that requires a 275 or better, plus (minor nit) you have to be employed by my company). I think we'll be bowling Jack, John, Laurie & Matt's team next week (we have equal records) so .. off come the gloves!

There are a lot of web sites which list song lyrics, but I wandered across one tonight that has an interesting rating system at the bottom of each page: Also worth checking out: the list of partner sites on

I wonder if I should be writing this blog in Plain English? The 26,000 or so members of the National Court Reporters Association would probably agree.

finally, there is a long page on (I18N=internationalization .. get it? I followed by 18 letters ending in N) which documents Translations that are Marketing Mistakes; this included a pointer to a site which corrected a JFK gaffe that never happened (he did not say "I am a jelly doughnut" to the people of Berlin).

Sunday, January 4

Sunday sundry

years ago, i got into genealogy but haven't done any serious work on my data for years. i do try to follow the new technology, though, and was intrigued by the use of DNA to prove ancestry. Family Tree DNA - we do genetic tests for your genealogy questions!

it was 78F on Friday, and will be 33F when I go to fetch tomorrow morning's paper. Brrr! has a useful hour-by-hour counter.

nearby Salvadoran cuisine: Gloria's Restaurant (I've been there several times .. reminds me of Cuban food)

spotted: ("any poster. any wall. any time.") has a nice collection. in the past, i've used ("the world's largest poster and print store") and been pleased with their work. there are probably more. probably many more. I Google'd for similar pages and easily found and and and and .. (queue sound of Gene-Bob being dragged away in a straightjacket)

Saturday, January 3

lazy, hazy days of winter

BoyWasIEverPleased to find Groundhog .org - the Official Site of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. It's supposed to be early winter, but we set a record high here in Dallas yesterday - 78F. I can hardly wait for spring to arrive!

I'm now back from the movies; I saw Lost in Translation (2003). This is easily Bill Murray's finest work; there were humorous parts in the film, but it wasn't the focus as in Caddyshack (1980), Ghostbusters (1984), Groundhog Day (1993) ... more like his non-starring role in The Royal Tennenbaums (2001). His co-star in this movie is Scarlett Johansson (of Horse Whisperer (1998) fame). Even Ebert & Roeper agree with me (they ranked it #2 and #3, respectively).

I must decide what to do about the front windows! The house came with Roman shades, which never particularly rang my bell, so I'm thinking about doing shutters. I spotted two in the paper: Sunburst Shutters and The Louver Shop.. I'll check them out, along with some competitors.

It's a good thing I don't really work on my own car anymore. I might have to assemble the Ultimate Tool Set from a place like The Ultimate Garage.

Friday, January 2

Friday Five

What one thing are you most looking forward to . . .
locating some good deals on music at the Mockingbird Virgin Megastore's Dive In sale (until 2 February)

...over the next week?
starting the National Body Challenge (a 12-week program)

...this year?
being elected Dog Catcher of Muddy Creek, Texas (the town where Bubba Ho-Tep is depicted)

...over the next five years?
being able to successfully use the word egregious in casual conversation

...for the rest of your life?
feeling happy (not giddy, nor perky .. just warm and at peace)


The 2004 Banished Words is out (per Lake Superior State University (LSSU)):
Metrosexual; Punked; Place Stamp Here; Companion animals; Bling-Bling; LOL; Embedded Journalist; Smoking Gun; Shock and Awe; Captured Alive; Shots Rang Out; Ripped From the Headlines; Sweat Like a Pig; In Harm's Way; Hand-Crafted Latte; Sanitary Landfill.
LSSU has been doing the Banished Word List since 1976! (their archive is online) I was especially pleased to see that (quote) "LSSU accepts nominations for the Word Banishment list throughout the year." Yee-ha!

GoogL'ost: Nathan Callahan (of Orange County, California) and (which is really starting to remind me of DanQuayleSpeak)

and finally .. recent movies watched: Anger Management (2003); An American In Paris (1951)

Thursday, January 1

T9? Bingo!

What would a cellphone be like without T9 software (for rapid Text Messaging)? I've found this hard to describe without giving an example. On non-T9 phones, you spell HELLO like this: 44(pause)33(pause)555(pause)555(pause)666 while on T9 (often called Predictive Text) you simply type 43556 (8 fewer characters). T9 means "text on nine keys", for you trivia freaks. T9 isn't perfect, but it's a vast improvement over the alternative. I find myself turning it off when I have to send a number as part of a message, but otherwise leave it enabled.

It's really rare that I buy every CD from a given artist, so I was a bit surprised to find out that I own 8 of Alpha Blondy's 9 works (mostly on the Shanachie label). The one I don't own is his Greatest Hits CD (I typically avoid those, if I have the others). His music starts in 1988 and continues to his most recent 2002 stuff; there are 9 CDs total (well, 10 - since Paris Bercy is a double CD).

I like the eGullet website, and was amused to see them interview Ted Allen (see interview parts one and two). Ted is the "food & wine component" of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy). In the interview, Ted casually mentions a CIA trained chef and I immediately had images of a foie gras with a hidden camera. Instead, Ted was talking about the Culinary Institute of America. Oh, the other CIA: gotcha.

Today's New Year's Day, so it's time to drag out the black-eyed peas. Not being from the South myself (unless you consider southern California part of Dixie), I somehow wandered across a mention of Hoppin' John, so (typical me) I had to find the history: The Story of Hoppin' John. Yesterday, I consumed my traditional last-day-of-the-year meal: Eggplant Parmesan (from Cedarlane Natural Foods).