I'm just a guy at a house

It's a long story. :)

Today was a great day.

I dressed as El Diablo for my work party, handed out some candy to little kids, and had a good ole time. The kids' reactions ranged from "Stopped dead in their tracks" to "Hid their eyes as they passed me" to "Sneered and said I'm not afraida you!" Haha! The last one I replied to by saying, "But I'm scareda you!" She was s 6th grader, I think.

I was in the scariest costume contest with only two other entrants - Yoda, and a very good Yoda indeed, and GI Joe. GI Joe was just messing around by signing up for the scary contest. He won 3rd place though since there were only the 3 of us! WTG Luis! Yoda get 2nd, and I got first. I was so happy! I got a trophy, a certificate, and 75 bucks! Woo hoo!

The Original costume contest was packed! There was a Pirate group, a hunter group from "Open Season", a midget wizard, Poison Ivy from Batman, a group of nurses in scrubs, Ike and Tina Turner, Flava Flave's posse (or however you spell that) and a number of others. The pirates, all my good friends, won but Ike and Tina did too. It was cool.

When I came home, we took Bren and Andy out to walk the streets. That mostly consisted of my carrying Bren, and Jen carrying Andy. Brendan mostly hid his face in my shoulder and I apologized for his shyness as people put candy into his pumpkin that I was carrying. We probably hit 12 houses or so - no more than that - before my arms tired out and we headed to Mama Margies for a good mexican meal. Awww man!!! I saw a girl dressed as LeeLoo Dallas there. That was awesome! I wonder how many people had no idea what she was and just thought she was a hooker or something. Hehe.

As always, I love Halloween. It is one of my favorite days of the year.

(Also something fun to do is search Flickr for Halloween Costumes)

This is so funny. I wish I had photoshop skillz like she has. Girl has a lot of time on her hands. :)

I might try to do something like that...just for fun to see if I could do it.

[Update: I am quite pleased to report that this post is either #1 or #2 in Google when you search on any of the 3 spam company names listed below. I'm also happy to report that over the last few days I've blocked literally thousands upon thousands of junk emails from these companies.]

I swear! Spammers really are the bane of my existence. I am constantly spending time these days combating them. I must admit, though, that few things at work give me as much pleasure as:

1) Monitoring the incoming mail queue,
2) Seeing a big batch of spam begin to come in,
3) Finding something in the message that is easy to setup a blocking rule on,
4) And then blocking that crap before it gets to my users.

Ha! Haha! Take that you spam-bastards!

Now, we do have automated content filtering, and that catches about 80,000 junk emails per day, but some do still slip past. The ones that get in are the ones without the typical spam keywords like "FREE" and "VIAGRA" and "CIALIS."

Here's an example of one that gets past our filter, and that I'm working to be able to block:

Hey Anne
This is for Tuesday Tue, 24 Oct 2006 15:37:38 +0900

Been a long time, anyways just wanted to drop in a line and tell ya bout this new Co I just found. This one is called Apparel Manufacturing Associates, Inc, its symbol is at APPM. The company is currently at 10 cents a share, Doubt it will there long. Basically they are a designer company and they are focused in the arena of all that is "Fashionable". Be it the latest "Trend" in fashion, the latest "Sound" in music or that "Must Have"/"Status Symbol" accessory. They span the globe searching and researching each industry, looking for those missing pieces of the fashion and music puzzle. All while keeping an eye on the bottom line.

Reason I am sending you this email now is because they are expected to come out with huge news come Monday / Tuesday and when that happens the 10 cents will be history. Take a Look buddy you don't wanna sit out this one. Suggest you get in APPM come Monday. Keep in mind no investment is 100% safe but the risk reward ratio on APPM is phenomenal.

Anyways I gotta run.
Hope you're doing well
Take care
A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Spring forward fall back. Spring rain, Fall gold. There is always next year. Rise and shine. Watered down. She's a mother hen. Water doesn't run uphill. Some like carrots others like cabbage. As uneasy as a cat near water. Survival of the fittest. Useless as tits on bull. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That's a whole new can of worms. Up one side and down the other. We hung them out to dry.

It looks to the spam filter to be normal person-to-person communication, so it is allowed in. Pesky spam! I am amused by the fact that they always put some throwaway text at the end to try and confuse the spam filter. I've even seen some Shakespeare appear there.

I am happy to say that some spammers are stupid and put the same text at the foot of all their messages. That's what I can quickly set up a rule to block. I would guess that the names are fake, but they are still easy to trap. Here are some example footers:

This is a commercial message. You are receiving this message because you have either opted into a website that is owned or controlled by vdrm network services or owned or controlled by one of our marketing affiliates. If you feel you have received this message in error or: If you would like to stop receiving email offers from vdrm network services entirely, then please visit...

This is a commercial message. You are receiving this message because you have either opted into a website that is owned or controlled by Adept Traffic Partners or owned or controlled by one of our marketing affiliates. If you feel you have received this message in error or: If you would like to stop receiving email offers from Adept Traffic Partners entirely, then please visit...

This is a commercial message. You are receiving this message because you have either opted into a website that is owned or controlled by Shadetree Associate Corporation or owned or controlled by one of our marketing affiliates. If you feel you have received this message in error or: If you would like to stop receiving email offers from Shadetree Associate Corporation entirely, then please visit...

It's so nice when spammers make my job easier!!! Needless to say, no messages from any of those three fake companies are being delivered. I'm sure that the names will change soon, but I'm going to do my best to keep up with them. New day, new fake name, new blocking rule from Darrell the Vigilant - slayer of spam, defender of the common emailer.

What I really need is logic to be built into my mail filter so that if it sees the same exact email message coming from many different email address, it will start blocking those messages. That's my dream feature. I can dream, at least. I think that most spam filters look at the message, the whole message, and nothing but the message. They don't compare one message to another to see if you're getting 10,000 of the same thing from different (again fake) senders.

I have to contribute something to Yahoo's digital time capsule. This is really cool. I've always been intrigued by time capsules.


It looks really cool. It seems that most people are putting pictures of their loved ones. That is a common theme worldwide, I think. The most important thing to people is their family. It's certainly the case with us.

I just saw this headline and it made me immediately think of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I guess I'm in a weird mood this morning. I'm having a potato and egg taco and it has a peculiar taste...kind of fishy...I like the ham and egg much better here.

I'm writing a quick post from work. I'm at lunch, so this is on my own time. :p

Today we printed the invitations to our staff Christmas party. That was fun. I can't wait to get them out to the people. We always have a nice party and a good meal, so I'm looking forward to it. It's early this year, on December 1st, but maybe we can all get in the Christmas spirit early.

Back to the grind now... :)

Here's a new video of Brendan having a good time in the newly mown front lawn. The video quality really suffered when I uploaded it to YouTube, but at least it is easy for people to watch. The most I could compress it down was to 93 Meg on my own computer, and it stilled looked great using DivX. Whatever YouTube does really reduces the quality. I can't complain about the price for the hosting though!

I hope you enjoy his laugh!

Our friend Dobie finally won his long-running lawsuit about 6 weeks ago. I'm very happy for him; I never thought the day would come. He got a good sized settlement and some property. He's in the process of moving to the little town way south of San Antonio where the ranch and house he inherited are. We've seen both and the house is in fair shape but needs work. The ranch is covered with cactus and scrub, but it has it's own kind of charm.

We were there in the evening and as it got dark, I was amazed at how many stars were visible in the clear sky. I remembered when I was a kid, before there were any light visible from the hill we lived on, how many stars I could see. I've resolved to go back to Dobie's ranch during some meteor shower so that I can watch. There's one this weekend*, but he's traveling so I wasn't able to go. I suspect there will be another sometime though.

*The Orionids meteor shower, obviously named after Orion from whence they radiate, tend to be fast but relatively faint meteors, peaking at perhaps 20 per hour at maximum. The time of peak comes well after sunrise, but avid meteor watchers can look before dawn. The radiant of the shower is to the upper left of Betelgeuse, not far from the star Alhena at one of Gemini's feet.

I'm enjoying working on my mother's website. I set her up at 1and1.com and things are going just swimmingly.

She makes jewelry with Swarovski Crystals, and she wants to start selling online. We're also going to do Paypal for her site, which we've both used for personal transactions (read: eBay) but never for a business.

I'm too slow, but I'm working on it as often as I can.

The baby is sleeping in the swing next to me, which is why I can write a bit.

Well, all that work to back up, and now I can't switch! Ha! Last week I had the option in my Dashboard, but now I don't. Oh well, I guess I'll wait for it to pop up again.

Hey, Blogger people, I wanna switch, please if anyone is listening! :)

Today is the day (I think) that I'm switching my blog over to the beta of the new Blogger. I am uncertain about how this whole conversion will go for the Blogger system, and that's been making me a little worried lately. I have 847 posts, many with pictures, in this blog and I'd hate to lose them.

Since Blogger doesn't have any way to back up your blog that I know of, I had to go out and find it on my own. Movable Type to the rescue!!! In Jen's blog's help, I found a way to export all of one's blogger entries to a file. The intent there was to allow you to migrate over to Movable Type, but I'm just going to use it as a backup mechanism. It seems like it will be pretty easy and fast. I know I could have copied each entry to a big long Word Doc (thanks FO), but I think this will be faster. I DO NOT want to lose all this work. I've been blogging since February 23, 2005 - and a year and a half is a long time! If I lost all my entries, I'd cry. This is my diary after all and I hold some hope that my grandkids or someone will want to read it some day. Granted, all the things I post from YouTube and Digg will be worthless by then, but the real writing will hopefully be of interest.

So, with thanks to Six Apart, here's the procedure: (refined a lot by me)

1) Open Notepad or your favorite plain text editor. Don't use Microsoft Word or anything that will add formatting to the code.

2) Log into your Blogger account, and on your dashboard, click the blue gear icon for "Change Settings."

3) Then click the Template tab.

4) Copy your current template to Notepad and save it; you will be replacing your Blogger template with the backup template below, but you probably don't want to lose your original template. :)

Replace your Blogger template with the text in this file. I can't post the actual template code here because Blogger's system wants to parse it and by doing so strips out important parts that you need to see. Silly Blogger! :)

5) Save the template changes and re-publish your blog. You will end up with a web page showing your most recent posts, but also with links to all the months that you have posts. Click on each of the months that you want to save and choose File, Save As in your browser. Save the files to your hard drive. You can use the suggested name or make up your own. While the suggested name would probably be fine, I prefer something that will keep my files organized. I used names like "2006_10 October.htm". See?

6) Once you've saved the months you want, put your original template back and re-publish again to get things back to normal.

That's it! Now you have a backup of your Blogger blog. If you ever had to, you could look at the files in Notepad or Wordpad and copy the BODY section of a particular post back into Blogger. Viola!

Now, let's see if I'm brave enough to switch over to the beta...

I have so many things that I want to write about, but I haven't made time:

Mom's website I'm doing
Brendan's Halloween Costume
Andy's Birth story
Solving a big problem 2nd day back at work
coming back to work full time
Xmas party
Meteor shower
Japan Festival and Rice Crackers
Building boys' swingset
etc, etc, etc

I'm still alive, just busy.

Too Cute!

I really, really, really, really don't like stupid talking ads.

Case in point: this one which is often appearing on myspace these days.

Add that to my list of pet peeves.

As it turns out, I've just been too busy to blog. :~(

Any free time I've had has been either spending time with Jen, doing consulting work, or doing things with the anime club that I sponsor at work. I haven't had much me time, but I sneak in a little here and there. Last night, me and Anthony played Halo 2 together for about 45 minutes. He was here visiting for a few days to see the boys. We had Taco Cabana one night, Papa John's one night, and Long John Silvers one night. Not exactly the fare that we would typically feed out of town guests, but he's a really low-key guy so that's what he wanted. :)

I can't complain about my situation at all though; Jen by comparison has absolutely no free time. She's keeping the house organized and breastfeeding and that's all she can do. I've been trying to help, but apparently I'm one of those bum husbands that doesn't succeed at that. Darn my hide.

I'm going back to work full-time on Monday, so she's going to have even more of a challenge. I took off 6 weeks entirely for Andy's birth, then I've done two weeks working only mornings, and now it is time to go back entirely. I have to say, I was sooooo happy turning in 240 hours of sick leave under FMLA. For once, thank god for Federal Law. Where I work, you can accumulate up to 1024 hours of sick leave, but you don't get paid for it when you leave, so I was very happy to be able to use some of it. I have worked there for 10 years now and I had about 500 hours of sick leave stored up. So, happy happy, joy joy. It was really good to be off.

Maybe as Andy's Reflux/Colic dies down, we'll both have more free time. Little did I know how easy life had become before Andy with Brendan being semi-self-sufficient. As they say, you don't miss it until it's gone.

I do feel kind of bad - ever since Andy got here, we've been focusing on him and kind of letting Brendan do whatever he wants on his own. That consists of one of two things for the most part: either playing one of his video games (he really loves Mario kart 64) or watching a DVD. I really need to spend more time with him. I want to take him to a park or do something. At the very least, I go and play a round of Mario Kart with him once-in-a-while. :)

So, anyway, maybe I'll get back to writing soon. I have lately heard about Vox (I'm not planning to switch; I love you Blogger) and I want to play with it. I also want to learn about Eyespot. I've been playing with video lately since I can now get video off my vid cam. I'm planning to YouTube more videos soon!

The other night we watched a great anime movie called The Cat Returns, the sort-of sequel to Whisper of the Heart. There is a trailer for it on one of Brendan's many DVDs (Thomas the Tank Engine, Kipper, Clifford, or whatever) and he's been asking and asking for it. He'll drag me or Jen over to the TV and point to the menu choice for it and say questioningly "Thee Cat Returns?" He's so cute because he really enunciates the the long. Finally, we requested it through the library and got it.

We sat down to watch it and all enjoyed it. The reason I'm writing about it, other than to tell you that it's good, is that during it Brendan did one of those cute things that I wanted to remember later on. Sometimes he'll string together more words that I really expect from him or he'll say something really clearly so that even his Mimi would understand him (and she never understands him!)

This time his did both - clarity and length - and it was just great.

When this scene came up

he said loud and clear "Wow! Look at all those cats!"

It was great. Soooo cute.

Good movie too; check it out.

Face Research Lab creates the average attractive face based on ratings.

Very pretty indeed, sez I.

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Borat Trailer

I must look at this in local house of movie!

How to: Eat an Octawhopper (12 Minute edit)

This guy is my hamburger hero. I will be emailing him the name of a good cardiologist...Hehe.

Fonpods is a new Web 2.0 product which, at no additional charge, streams podcasts to your phone. Now downloading time, and no need for internet access. Currently available podcasts includes Diggnation, NerdTV, Slate Magazine, and TWiT.

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Unnessary Censorship

Unnessary Censorship...$#&*@^! funny!

I haven't had time for a lot of surfing lately, but I want to remember MetaCritic's Games section for future reading.

Me, briefly

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North Texas, Texas, United States

This is the story
of a man named Darrell
who was working
and bringing up a family.

This is the story
of his lovely family
with 3 kids and wife
all at home.

We're a happy family!
Yes, we're a happy family!


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