D103.com: Archive
This is an archived page of D103.com, a daily weblog by Daryl Lang.


A land-grant university graduation

» From several directions, various members of our family converged on Blacksburg by car and plane yesterday for Gerritt's graduation. This was the first of two graduation ceremonies; the second of which is a smaller ceremony scheduled for this afternoon. Friday's pomp and circumstance played out in Lane Stadium, a house of football momentarily set aside for an academic recognition. From the stands, we watched the evening sun sink behind clouds and cast a misty green glow over the rolling western Virginia hills. The graduating class marched in, thousands of dark robes settling into folding gray chairs. Speakers spoke, giving encouraging words that nevertheless seemed to fade from memory before the end of each sentence. (ABC News reporter Pierre Thomas, Virginia Tech class of 1984, was the keynote.) Here at a southern university that draws a lot of northerners, the cheers for graduating seniors went out in a couple of distinct accents. There were as many people in tees as in ties. Parents flipped open cell phones to call their children just a few hundred feet away on the field, a thousand phone calls going at once, just to wave and acknowledge and share a genuine moment.

- Daryl

I fold

» I'm hanging out with my brother and his pals at Virginia Tech. A typical night in Blacksburg: A bunch of guys playing poker with pennies, drinking Dr. Pepper, and eating cookies. Graduation is tomorrow.

- Daryl

Cat in the box

» Congrats to my stepsister Kelly and her husband Jeremiah on the birth of their son Jacob Monday night. Word from Texas is that all are doing well.

» A different Kelly (That's Kelly B in Pittsburgh) sent me a story recently about a cat who was accidentally shipped across the country in a FedEx package. There was a similar story published this week about a different cat who was accidentally shipped across the country in a dresser drawer. This poses a question of what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation. That is, you lose your loyal and much-loved cat, and then somehow manage to ship it away inside a container without realizing what you've done. Come to think of it, if that happens, there's really no hope for you.

» This afternoon, I'll be shipping myself to Roanoke, Virginia (Star City of the South!). I'm flying down for my brother's graduation at Virginia Tech. I expect to be able to update the web site from the road until I return Sunday.

- Daryl

Observations from a cicada

» After living underground for 17 years, I emerged curious about what's going on in America. I sat down to watch some TV. Wow, check out all these channels.

I don't see any holograms. Do you have robots? No robots either. Flying cars? Oh well, maybe next time around.

Prince is still making music, good, good. Hulk Hogan is still wrestling, very nice. What's with all these commercials for itsy bitsy phones? Ah, here we go, the news.

So Bush is president. Wait, that doesn't look like George Bush. Oh, his son. I see.

Homeland Security? What's that?

And what's a web site?

I see we're fighting a war in Iraq? And Afghanistan? Why? What?!!

That's Michael Jackson?!! Oh no!!

- Daryl

A good day in Bellville

» What I did on my bike ride home yesterday:

1. Followed the Queen Mary 2 out to sea down the West Side Highway.

2. Weaved around a minor bus accident in the messy intersection at the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

3. Stopped at Cheryl's place and gave her a set of keys so she can take care of Sterling when I'm in Virginia this weekend.

4. Rented the DVD for "The Triplets of Bellville," an animated film about bicycling. If you've seen it, you know it's a European (primarily French) caper movie that lands its characters in the strange land of Bellville, a metropolis of jazz and smoke and enormous portions of food, where an obese Statue of Liberty guards the harbor and tourists wander the streets wearing shirts that say "I ♥ BIG."

5. Picked up food for lunch tomorrow.

6. Walked my bike home past a bunch of kids playing catch with their parents on the sidewalks of 21st Street.

- Daryl

Bring on the summer

» Yes, people in Maryland will wait four and a half hours to have Mother's Day dinner at Outback Steakhouse. (Not us, though.)

» One person (actually, it was ) asked recently if my blog is available as an RSS feed. It is not. If you (a) know what a webfeed is, and (b) would find it useful if I started one, please e-mail me. If enough people ask, I'll consider it.

- Daryl

ARRRRGH! (And a happy Mother's Day)

» I'm using my mom's computer here in Maryland. Actually, trying to fix it. Forgive me, I need to blow off some steam and I'm going to go on a bit of a tirade.

Windows XP is the worst operating system of all time. It is full of easily-exploited quirks that allow unscrupulous spammers to hijack your web browser and fill your screen with popup ads. These so-called "adware" programs slow everything down, and the more you try to delete them, the more they seem to replicate and fight back. At the moment, I'm suffering with a program that seems to automatically activate the shift or control keys at random times, which causes all kinds of unexpected fun. In years of fixing computer problems for my family and friends, I've never once had this kind of experience: I am actually battling intelligent, unseen forces for control of my own (or in this case, my mom's) computer! So this is the future.

My dad has the same problems on his PC. So do many other people running Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6. What has Microsoft done to address this widespread problem? A quick check of its web site finds this article by Kim Komando and a few pages of vague security tips. Essentially, Microsoft washes its hands of all responsibility for these problems and places the blame squarely on the computer users: You visited unscrupulous web sites! You practiced reckless Internet behavior! You failed to download the latest Windows XP patch! Great. Now Bill Gates is dissing my mom.

Two reputable solutions to these adware/spyware/browser hijack virus programs are Ad-Aware and Spybot Search and Destroy, both available from CNET's Download.com. Both are cheap-looking freeware programs that do a good job of cleaning your hard drive of unwanted flotsam. Neither works perfectly, as I'm discovering. I wonder why Microsoft can't or doesn't develop a first-rate program like this itself.

- Daryl


Playlist
"I'm Shakin'" - Rooney - 5.12.04