Archive | May, 2007

Kwajalein Atoll

30 May

When I worked at CompuServe around 1993, I saw a picture of Kwajalein Island on Alisa DeSisto’s cubicle wall. As it turns out, she was stationed there for a year or two. I was fascinated by the concept of people actually living on such a tiny island (about twice as long as the airport runway!) in the Pacific Ocean many hundreds of miles from any decent size chunk of land. Is this place cool, or what? ūüôā Click on the link or picture to view Kwajalein on Google Maps so you can explore virtually. Google allows zooming in to the 200 ft. resolution level.

Kwajalein on Google Maps


It Is Well With My Soul

28 May

I was just listening to and Jeremy Camp’s version of It Is Well With My Soul started playing. I was struck by the lyrics yet again, so I looked up the story again:

“It Is Well with My Soul” is a very influential hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss. This hymn was writ¬≠ten af¬≠ter two ma¬≠jor traua¬≠mas in Spaf¬≠ford’s life. The first was the death of his only son, shortly followed by the great Chi¬≠ca¬≠go Fire of Oc¬≠to¬≠ber 1871, which ru¬≠ined him fi¬≠nan¬≠cial¬≠ly (he had been a weal¬≠thy bus¬≠i¬≠ness¬≠man). In 1873, while cross¬≠ing the At¬≠lan¬≠tic, all four of Spaf¬≠ford’s daugh¬≠ters died in a col¬≠li¬≠sion with an¬≠o¬≠ther ship. Spaf¬≠ford’s wife Anna sur¬≠vived and sent him the now fa¬≠mous tel¬≠e¬≠gram, “Saved alone.” Sev¬≠er¬≠al weeks lat¬≠er, as Spaf¬≠ford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daugh¬≠ters died, he was inspired to write these words.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

I hope you can say, “It is well with my soul.” If not, I appeal to you to consider the gospel of Jesus Christ. The following material may be helpful in that regard:

Two Ways To Live


Bermuda Triangle

28 May

I just discovered that if you take the average of the following locations:

Grand Rapids, MI (my mom & step-dad)
Columbus, OH (Andrea’s parents)
Orlando, FL (my dad & step-mom)

it results in a point roughly 15 miles from my house – cool huh? ūüôā

Well, I had to cheat a little to get it that close. I used Grand Rapids instead of Rockford, Columbus instead of Centerburg, and Orlando instead of Altamonte Springs; otherwise the point would be a little north of Wake Forest, but that’s still pretty darn close. So, if we end up visiting our parents and Bermuda equally, then we live in a mathematically optimal location. I guess I should check on travel arrangements to Bermuda…

Jason McElwain

11 May

Thanks to Chris Crompton for passing this on to me. Excellent, inspiring story – about 2 minutes long.

Here’s a Longer version from NBA halftime that also shows him meeting President Bush and the effect Jason has had on others.

I Can Has Cheezburger?

11 May


I read on Scoble’s blog that this site (I can has cheezburger?) is the #1 WordPress site with 500,000 visitors per day! I don’t get it, but I did think the bunnies were cute ūüôā


National Sex Offender Registry

8 May

Ignorance is not bliss…

National Sex Offender Registry

UPDATE: Here’s one specifically for North Carolina.

The Real Rain Man

4 May

Who was the game winning pitcher in game three of the 1926 world series? Who were the four people in George Washington’s cabinet? When was Sir Walter Raleigh executed? What day of the week was that? Kim Peek has no trouble answering questions like these and thousands more from memory. He is the person the “Rain Man” character was based on. He reads eight books a day. A page that would normally take three minutes to read takes him eight to ten seconds. He reads the left page with his left eye and the right page with his right eye and retains 98% of it. The neurologist who originally diagnosed him only gave them five minutes of his time because he was late for a golf game; he said they should put Kim in an institution and forget about him.

Other parts of the series:

Part Two of Five

Part Three of Five

Part Four of Five

Part Five of Five

Half star ratings on Netflix

2 May

I noticed a friend of mine (Jordan L.) who had half-star ratings (2.5, 3.5, etc.) on Netflix. When I asked him about it, he said to just “hover over the left side of the star” to get a half-star rating. This didn’t work for me, so I thought it might be a Linux vs. Windows thing and asked another friend (Mike F.) to try it out. Same result – didn’t work in IE or Firefox on Windows. Then Mike found a JavaScript file that could be installed with greasemonkey and that worked fine for him.

I’ve yet to install greasemonkey, and I don’t like the idea of installing JavaScript on my system unless I’ve thoroughly analyzed it, so I thought of another way.

I installed wireshark on my Ubuntu Linux box and sniffed the network traffic to Netflix when I rated a movie. After some experimenting and removal of extraneous info, I came up with the following URL to rate a movie with half stars. This specific URL will rate the movie “The Incredibles” with a 4.5 star rating (probably a bad example since The Incredibles clearly deserves a 5 star rating):

To rate other movies, simply replace 70001989 with the id of the movie which you can find by hovering over the movie. I believe you’ll need to be logged in to Netflix already for this to work.

Now as to why Jordan can rate half-stars without the aid of a greasemonkey script, that’s still a mystery.

Update: got an email from Jordan explaining that his Netflix pages include the following two JavaScript source files:


I only have the first one, and from the name of the second one, I presume that’s the one that gives him the special half star rating capability. I guess Netflix favors Jordan over me ūüė¶

Update 2: mystery solved! My curiosity got the best of me so I contacted Netflix. The rep said they’re running a test and Jordan just happened to get picked (I didn’t mention Jordan, but I suppose they looked through my ‘friend’ list)! They do that periodically to test features to see if they’ll give them to the unwashed masses. I asked if they could run the test on me, and he said it didn’t work that way ūüôā So I guess it’s the greasemonkey script or the inconvenient URL hack for the rest of us.