“Sometimes I think we’re alone. Sometimes I think we’re not. In either case, the thought is staggering.”

— R. Buckminster Fuller


About fifteen years ago, when I started college, I had a copy of WordPerfect for DOS. It was a great little word processor (better than AppleWorks, which is what I’d been using since the early 80’s) and I pretty much wrote all of my papers using it. Computers got more advanced, Windows came on the scene, and WordPerfect continued to improve. The DOS version gave way to a nice Windows-based graphic version, and so on.

Then Microsoft released the monstrosity known as Word, and everyone started using it. These days it’s the de facto standard, much to my chagrin. Word sucks. It sucks big time. The menus are confusing and jumbled, I can never seem to do quite what I want, and it remains a fact that WordPerfect simply has more functionality and power than Word ever will. After all, WordPerfect was around long before Microsoft came up with the whole “Office” idea.

So here I am, fifteen years after WordPerfect for DOS, still cranking away (version 11) with all of my documents in WordPerfect. Occasionally I have to open a Word document from a client, but generally I avoid using Word whenever I can.

Enter OpenOffice. Sun recently released their 2.0 version of it, and I downloaded it for a trial spin. It’s great, actually. Not only can it import and export Word documents almost flawlessly, it can also (new feature) handle WordPerfect files. After a couple hours of poking around in it, I’ve decided that its functionality is quite good– better than Word, for sure– and it might be a suitable replacement for WordPerfect.

The problem, really, is that WordPerfect doesn’t have a Linux version. I hate having to boot a Windows computer just so I can edit a contract or proposal or whatever. Long ago, WordPerfect 8 (I think) was converted to Linux but it sucked so bad it gave the good people of WordPerfect a bad name. We loyalists choose to simply forget it ever existed.

But now, if OpenOffice is really as good as it appears, I can run a native Linux version, a Windows version if for some reason I need to, and (oh yes) a Mac version. All of my documents will be cross-platform, and if I need to send something to a client or whatever I can dump it to (shudder) Word. Better yet, I can export it directly to PDF and avoid the use of the terribly expensive Adobe Acrobat suite.

Whee! There’s hope for us Linux guys…


The other day Laralee and Zack were walking along the little trail near our house. The trail winds along a small creek, and Zack was– in little-boy fashion– wandering down by the creek tossing little sticks into it as they walked. At one point he turned to Laralee and said:

“Happiness is throwing sticks in the creek.”

Words to live by.


The Zing web site is finally up and running, only a month after Lily and I had intended. I designed some business cards, sent the image file to her, and she ran over to Kinko’s to print fifty of them. Then she glued them to card stock (to make them thicker) and handed them out like candy at the big show last weekend.

Talk about garage-band sort of stuff… sheesh. We had such big plans for a glorious web site, professional cards, letterhead, leave-behind folders, and on and on. In the end we simply didn’t have time to do the good stuff because (surprise!) we’ve been so busy working for clients. Despite the low-budget nature of all of this, several companies were impressed enough that we’re entering discussions with them about new projects. Woo hoo!


From an article in Slate


We would like to explain certain changes in the terms of the Citizenship Agreement for your U.S. citizenship (“Agreement”). Some of the terms in this notice may already be in effect on your account and will not change. Any terms on your account not changed here remain in effect until such time as we (“We”) decide they do not.

To help you understand the changes in the terms of your Agreement, We explain the most important changes in the Summary of New Terms below. The changes described will take effect for citizenship cycles beginning Jan. 20, 2005, and will apply to all existing and future balances on your account.

The Freedom of Speech section of the Agreement is amended to distinguish between Regular Preferred Speech and Non-Preferred Speech. The Non-Preferred Speech rate applies to all speech which is not in good standing as defined under the “Preferred Citizen Rate Eligibility” section of your Agreement. Both the rate and your freedom of speech may vary based on changes in the National Terror Alert Level.

The Rates and Fees Table, including rates for personal and corporate income tax, estate tax, Social Security tax, and all other Federal taxes, levies, duties, and surcharges, remains unchanged, except that it is to be read while being held up to a mirror.

The Rule of Law section of the Agreement remains in effect, except that it no longer applies to Us. It may also, from time to time, cease to apply to Contributors above a certain level (see Schedule G, attached).

The Cruel and Unusual Punishment section of the Agreement is unchanged, except that “unusual” is amended to read “unusual in Texas.”

This amendment affects the Right to Privacy section of your agreement. Under the new terms, the Right to Privacy must be applied for on an individual basis. To apply for your Right to Privacy, you must send your full credit history, a copy of your party registration and church membership, a complete set of fingerprints, a DNA sample, and two (2) passport-size photographs of your bedroom to: National Privacy Registry, Washington, DC, 20012-3006, att: Doris.

In the section on Transaction Fees, the sentence “All drafts, including convenience checks, cash advances, and balance transfers, on citizenship accounts with a balance of less than $50,000 shall be subject to a transaction fee of $50 or 3%, whichever is greater” is amended to read “All citizens with an income of less than $50,000 shall be subject to a draft.”

The Social Security section of the Agreement is unchanged, except that the program described will no longer be (a) social or (b) secure.

The changes described above in this Notice that you can choose not to accept will not become effective if you send Us a written letter stating that you choose not to accept them, in which case your Citizenship Agreement will be terminated and your Account will be closed (if it is not already closed). Your letter must be received by June 1, 2005, at the following address: Customer Service Center, J. Edgar Hoover Building, 935 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington DC 25035-0001. You will be required to pay your debt to society under the previous terms of your Agreement.


As if the name Kyrgyzstan doesn’t sound made-up enough, today’s news article about the unrest in the country includes this very choice quote:

“It’s an orgy going on here,” Kulov told reporters. “We have arrested many people, we are trying to do something, but we physically lack people.”

So… uhh… he’s asking for more people for the orgy? What’s he saying here?


I was heading home from rebuilding some servers down in Denver, and it was late, dark, and rainy. I turned onto 6th Avenue to get to I-25 and head north, and was surprised to see four empty lanes separated by dashed lines. Odd, I thought, that there wasn’t a solid line dividing the two halves of the road.

As I continued to drive, there were some green lights ahead of me. There was also oncoming traffic.

Four lanes of it.

Yes, that’s right– I was going the wrong way on a four-lane street, heading straight for four oncoming cars. I took a sharp right onto some side street, so everything was okay, and eventually I found my way to I-25 and got back home. Upon further reflection it still baffles me why there were green traffic lights facing me. Why would that be? To confuse drunk drivers on Saturday nights or something?


In tonight’s Slashdot forums, there was discussion of how to focus the sun’s energy with mirrors and start things on fire. One particularly humorous comment…

I always wanted to round up a kindergarten class worth of children to act as my solar death squad. Here’s how it would work:

1. Give each kid their own shiny little mirror with a Post-It note stuck on it to block the shiny part.

2. One at a time, have them remove the Post-It, aim their mirror to reflect the sun upon some point, then re-Post-It.

3. Once everyone is aimed (30 kids or so), have them all remove their Post-Its at once, instantly creating a plasma-hot ball of fire at the point of focus, incinerating your enemies with the might of a kindergarten class.

Has anyone else had this idea too, or am I the only weirdo around here?


Today marks another first in my professional career. I sent a client a proposal for a new web system they’d requested. They handed it back, saying essentially “This looks really good, and we’d like to proceed, but your price is too low. Please increase the price and send the proposal back.”

My answer, of course, was “you bet!”


I just got a copy of this cover letter from Steve. Apparently it was sent to Steve’s co-worker’s sister’s friend (who also heard that Ferris passed out at 32 Flavors last night, so I guess it’s pretty serious).

It starts out strong, and only gets better from there…

Josh Hollinger
159 Lowell House Mail Center
Cambridge, MA 02138

Dear Mr. [name deleted],

Through the Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences Office of Career Services, I learned of Raymond James’ present career opportunities. As a senior at the Harvard College, I have a fervent thirst to command the position of Analyst this coming fall.

My background is most impressive, intimidatingly so, and my resume reiterates said impressiveness. While at Harvard, I have immersed myself in the noble pursuits of classroom and academia by large. Outside the classroom, I have proven myself to be a feral participant in the arduous yet glorifying game of life.

While at Harvard (est. 1626), the university’s culture has become a part of my patchwork; my moral fiber; my being. I have offered my mind and flesh to the young people on this campus with an intense humility. Harvard’s shield of Veritas, meaning truth, is now emblazoned into my spirit. It will bleed through my soul until I die a satisfied human on this great blue marble I call Mother Planet.

Extra-curricularly, I have dominated the Executive Board of 2 unique campus organizations, and founded some also. Currently, I am engaged in a marketing consulting project with a number of diverse student colleagues who are slightly less motivated and less organized than myself. I have also found the time to enroll in classes (normally 4 per semester, two times 5, one time 3 (abnormally extended malady)). I feel my unusual ability to balance homework with classes, friendship with acquaintanceship, and still entertain a sympathetic, understanding, concerned, kind, compassionate, intellectually thrusting and competitive nature helps me to lord it over my colleagues like a King.

If you’ll allow me, I’d like to illustrate the type of Raymond James colleague that I will be through a representative story, or analogy. Simply put, the financial world is a sweet-johnson dance party. As your colleague, I will roll-up on other analysts in that piece (conference room) and start flashing my ice (i.e. a bangin’ portfolio) until they step off my shorty (client). I’ll spot the bond market in the corner, advance, and subsequently badunka-dunk-dunk it without mercy until it ejects money like a cash-hydrant.

I command an understanding of many financial terms, including but not limited to Visa, insider trading, W-2, audit, depreciation, appreciation, federal reserve, ATM, futures market, annual reports, proxy statements, form 10-K’s, fiscal responsibility, cash, denaro, green-“backs,” and, last but not least, money.

Raymond James is interviewing at Harvard on November 10, 2004. My schedule is flexible and I am willing to accommodate you at certain times concurrent with my daily planner. Enclosed is a copy of my resume for your review and reading pleasure. Thank you for my consideration, and I look forward to controlling money this September.


Josh Hollinger


This device pretty much needs no explanation.


It’s hard to believe that I hired full-time help two weeks ago, and now I’m considering hiring another person. Wow, talk about a boom in business! There are so many things going on, so many clients asking for more stuff, and a few potential “biggies” looming on the horizon…

It’s true that when it rains it pours, I guess. This year my New Year’s “theme” (not resolution) is to grow my business, and it looks like I’ll be able to do that in spades. I’ve heard that most small businesses take about five years to really get off the ground, and this June marks the fifth anniversary of me leaving Corporate America to strike out on my own. I guess I’m right on schedule…


“He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”

— Thomas Jefferson


Last night I was over at Myles’ house for an evening of poker. It was a lot of fun, but perhaps the funniest part of the entire thing was sitting with a group of grown men– all of whom probably make $50k or more a year– and watching them fold a hand because the bet was raised from a nickel to a dime.

“Whoa, too rich for my blood!”

We played with nice Vegas-style casino chips though, so it wasn’t so much the fact that a white chip was worth five cents. It could have been worth a hundred bucks instead. Still a lot of fun.

And by the time all was said and done and we headed home around one in the morning, I had made a dollar. A whole dollar. I suppose I should put that into a college fund or something, and when Alex turns eighteen I can present him with the dollar plus the fourteen cents of interest. Woo hoo!


Laralee and I just finished watching “Troy”. We decided the movie basically broke down into two likeable characters…

Hector — cool guy, smart, honorable, a good warrior.
Hector’s wife — smart, pretty.

…and several thousand idiots.

Achilles — Mr. Ego, vain, prideful, completely lacking in honor.
Agamemnon — mean-spirited, selfish, heartless, just plain evil.
Paris — starry-eyed wimpy dork.
Helen — dumb blond, not pretty enough to start a war over.
King of Troy — didn’t listen to either of his sons.
Achilles’ girlfriend — much too forgiving, or just too easily seduced.

So while the movie itself had good action and special effects and so on, it was basically a long lesson about how pride will be your downfall. Oh, and be sure not to get shot in the heel with an arrow.


So Congress opened hearings about the use of steroids in Major League Baseball. I guess they’re trying to figure out whether professional baseball players use steroids at all (duh), and whether there’s a correlation with the use of steroids amongst the high-school crowd.

For me, two questions immediately come to mind:

1) Doesn’t Congress have better things to do than subpoena a dozen baseball players and put them on camera?

2) Steroid use isn’t actually illegal, right? If not, why is the legislative branch of our government involved?


O Joyous Day!

Webster’s recently decided to add a new word to the dictionary:

wedgie: noun. a prank in which the victim’s undershorts are jerked upward so as to become wedged between the buttocks.


Oh, what a crazy world in which we live. In Vancouver, the police and government have decided to give away heroin. From a Fox News story:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Just over the United States northwest border, addicts will soon be able to get their fix from the Canadian government in the form of free heroin administered by nurses and doctors on the taxpayer’s dime. “They’re using heroin. They’ll continue to use heroin. What we’re trying to do is prevent them from getting something irreversible like HIV, hepatitis C and overdose death,” said Dr. Martin Schechter, the director of the heroin program.

Wow. Will Vancouver see a surge in deadbeat population? Steve’s commentary on this:

Nice!  First it was free condoms to high school and junior high students, then it was free needles to junkies, now free heroin to junkies.  What’s next?  

Free hookers to high schoolers?
“Well, they’re gonna have sex anyway.  This will keep the teenage pregnancy rate down by giving them our state employed hookers who have been AIDS tested and are assured to be on the pill”

Free guns to gang-bangers?
“Well, they’re gonna get and use their guns anyway.  This will reduce gun-stealing and weapons-dealing.  Also, the guns we give will be checked out to make sure that they are not going to backfire on the user.”

Free bombs to terrorists?
“Well, they’re gonna bomb anyway.  Why don’t we get rid of the risky bomb transporting market and arms dealers.  This would also remove much of the border skirmish issues and allow us to make sure that the terrorists know what they are doing.  A terrorist who doesn’t have adequate training on bomb handling and care could have a bad accident and cause problems for the surrounding neighbors, etc.”



“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”

— Ernest Benn


Tonight Zack conked out around 6:30 (he was sooo tired) and after dinner the rest of us decided to play some games. Laralee and Kyra played The Magnificent Race while Alex and I sat down for some Stratego.

It was a lot of fun for everyone, and as we were packing up the games I noticed the amazing 1950’s-era artwork on the Stratego box. Ahh, those memorable days of yore when dad always wore a suit, mom wore a skirt, and little Billy had enough grease in his hair to affect global petroleum prices…