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Friday, October 3, 2008
News, Stuff >
by Blob

Welcome to

I'd always meant to register myself a real domain name, but having conned a number of people into visiting the old site on a regular basis, I was a bit daunted by the proposition of getting things changed over.

Plus, there was the problem of figuring out what the heck to register. Blob's an okay nickname, but no untaken variations of it appealed to me as a domain name. So, I tried many dozens of things until I came across cynicaloptimism, which I felt conveyed the essence of my outlook on life nicely concisely.

This was back in May, mind you. It took me until now to be satisfied that the new old server would be stable and that I could migrate things over reasonably efficiently. That's right, no longer is everything running on the old Pentium 133 with 32MB RAM. We're talking dual P3-450s with 1GB, baby. That ought to improve some of the performance around here.

Not much else is going to change in the near future, however. You'll still get nearly daily Haikus and occasional other content. I was working on a flash fiction project actually, which has turned itself into a short story. I hope to get that done before November and NaNo.

Thursday, December 13, 2007
by Blob

Fig. 1
Forza Motorsport 2

I mentioned way back in 2005 that I was smitten with Forza Motorsport. Well, two and a half years later, I have an Xbox 360 and its successor, Forza Motorsport 2. FM2 is just as much fun as its predecessor, with even more paint customization options and more physics and polygons and shit.

I have a couple of friends on my friends list who, like me, love the racing sims. One of them, we'll call him CBizkit, invited me to join the ARS Technica gaming forum racing league, and eager to test my skills, I joined up.

FM2 has a Performance Indicator system, whereby points are assigned for things like horsepower, weight, braking power, tire grip, and even shift time. For each race in this series, each driver takes a 2002 Lotus Esprit, which has a base PI of 695 and adds modifications to get as close to (or usually on) 850 as possible. You can add handling mods like tires and weight reduction or horsepower mods such as turbochargers and exhaust systems, or in many cases a combination of the two. Then you can adjust the car's transmission and suspension settings to suit the track and your driving style. This leads to quite a varied field of cars on most tracks and a great deal of challenge in finding the best setup for any given race.

Furthermore, being the complete and utter nerd I am, I can't resist creating the occasional writeup on the forum of my goings on, usually in the form of a press release/race report in the style found on my favorite Formula One news sites. Expect crossposts of those, such as the one you're about to read, to become a regular feature of the blog until the season is over.

Blob Motorsports marks its debut at Tuesday's ARS Group One race at Maple Valley

"When we started this season," says Blobemetheus, CEO of Blob Motorsports and driver of the currently 5th place #42 Lotus Esprit, "it was just me and a car." He adds with a characteristic grin, "Okay. A couple of cars."

"But, you know, I had to do everything. Line up sponsorships, pack up the gear, haul the cars, drive 'em, tune 'em, replace dozens of snapped carbon fiber wings, deal with suppliers. It was a nightmare. And you can see from our early results that it just wasn't working. I couldn't even line up the car at the season opener in Laguna Seca. That was a real heart breaker. We did all our preseason testing there, and I was feeling pretty good about the car and the track. I think I could have taken it to the big boys, but alas, we'll never know."

Blob, as he likes to be known, then went on to a string of DNFs, including the exhibition race at the Nurburgring and a race at Sebring that had been going well until he ran out of fuel just two laps from the finish.

"Well, I got into a wall early on and needed to pit. Of course, I had to get out of the car myself and bang out the body work. I climbed back in and turned in some decent laps. I thought I was good to go on fuel, but obviously I was wrong."

Blob hopes he's put all that behind him, now. While in Germany, he put in the last few phone calls required for the incorporation of Blob Motorsports.

Fig. 2
Blob Motorsports Decal on the #42 Lotus

"I've got a business manager and a mechanic and a logo now. Man, what a relief to be able to concentrate on what I'm best at: Getting that gorgeous hunk of metal around the circuit as fast as possible."

It seems as though the arrangement has payed dividends immediately. After the action packed and ultimately aborted first start at Maple Valley, he'd secured third place. "And even if Audiocee hadn't gone out, I think I would have caught him after the pit stops," says Blob. "I'd done a little bit of engine damage trying to keep it off the wall while sliding on the grass, but it's nothing we couldn't have cleaned up in the pits."

Blob Motorsports opted for an all-handling configuration at Maple Valley, sacrificing ultimate speed for control and consistency.

"After a few dozen practice laps, I had a real good rhythm going. I was flat for like 90% of the lap. Of course, with all that wing, I didn't get much above 140, but the car was solid and stable. But I knew I was in for a fight on Tuesday because I was still nearly a second off Uni's time. But I figured that if I could just run it clean, I might stay competitive."

Fig. 3
The grid at the restart

After the restart, clean was the operative word. While there's much speculation and justification around race control's decision to restart with a random starting order, Blobemetheus was happy to retain his second place grid spot.

"It was good. I was running a really tall first gear, so I was very happy I managed keep the revs up without smoking the clutch or the engine at the start. I was able to keep touch with Audiocee, who started first, and when he went wide, I slid past on the way up the hill. After that, it was clear sailing for four laps."

Fig. 4
Blobemetheus taking the lead

On the fifth, though, Blob made his first error and went wide, giving Unimetal and the #007 Lotus an easy pass for the race lead.

"I just missed my apex. I wish I could blame it on something other than driver error, but that's all it was. A momentary lapse of concentration can cost you a lot out there, especially when the other driver's got nine tenths per lap on you. I saw him coming and obviously let it rattle me."

Fig. 5
Final lead change: Unimetal on top

Blob nearly caught Unimetal at the top of the hill on the very next lap, but having to check up to avoid collision, that was the last he'd see of him all day.

"After that, I just fell into my rhythm and did my thing. I think I had one more minor off, but other than that, I was pretty good, even when the tires started to lose grip. Unfortunately, I needed Uni to make a mistake at that point and it seems like he never did. I've gotta give Unimetal and the 007 team their propers. They did their homework and drove a good race."

Still, after a very disappointing start to the season, the second step of the podium must have been a big boost for the young team.

"You bet! While I hope for bigger and better things as the season rolls on, my first podium is very exciting. Thanks go out to the fans and to the guys at Blob Motorsports. Oh, and to CBizkit, for giving up a lot of points and letting me lap him. Twice."

Thursday, October 11, 2007
by Blob

I've been meaning to learn to use AJAX for a while, now. It's a very useful thing to have a web page interact with the server without the need for a full page load. I had a general idea of how it worked, but I hadn't spent the time to learn the specifics.

The bug bit me a couple of days ago, and I had an idea for a fun/easy test gadget, so I got to work.

I'm proud to present: Letterboard. It's a pointless little diversion, but I think it's amusing. The best part is, you can mess with people as they're laying out letters in (almost) real time. It's stupid, but I'm proud of it. The best part? I can make a dress-up Jesus or whatever with very little change to the code. Woot!

You'll need to have Javascript enabled to play, and also to see the notice that says Javascript is required. I should probably make that visible regardless, but then I'd lose the cool fadey-inny-thingy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007
by Blob

Want to keep up with what tidbits I choose to share, but don't really care to see my Haiku of the Day clogging up your RSS reader? Fear not, gentle reader. I have created an alternate feed that you can use. It filters out those annoying little poems and leaves you with the pure, unadulterated drivel you've come to expect.

Let it never be said that I am not a benevolent webmaster.

Friday, August 31, 2007
by Blob

One of my favorite long-running threads on the KJToo Forum has been the Haiku Thread. I've always been a big fan of the Haiku, as adapted for English; I find condensing my thoughts into so few syllables to be a wonderful challenge and I like to think I occasionally even express those thoughts well.

I undertook the challenge of writing a Haiku each day for all of August. A few times I was stuck but managed to pull off a meaningless poem. One day, my schedule got hosed and I posted a few minutes after midnight the next day. I'm not calling that a failure, though, for two reasons. One, the KJToo post clock is hosed anyway and Two, I hadn't slept yet, so it was still that day for me.

I'm considering keeping it going, but over here. I'm not going to promise a Haiku per day, but that will be my aim. This blog will likely have a lot of (even more) meaningless posts soon. Some will be funny, many will be stupid, a few will be syntactically challenged, an irrational number will have some awkward wording, but hopefully, just hopefully, one or two will be poignant.

I've collected a few of the highlights from the thread for this post. Enjoy!

The green blades of grass
The stark concrete skyscrapers
I seek harmony
As the skies darken
Lightning flashes, thunder cracks
Terrible beauty
Translucent pastels
Highlighted in sky and cloud
Thunderstorm sunset
This yearning to procreate
Let's bump some uglies
An arc of color
stretched across the rain-drenched sky
No pot of gold found
Friday, August 31, 2007
by Blob

Wherein I continue to put way too much effort into this little blog.

So, I have decided to join Twitter. Not so much because I intend to use it with great frequency, but more because I was hoping that its interface would let me follow my friends' twitter conversations more easily. (It does, but only marginally) I have now had 50 attempts to post a tweet fail unceremoniously on the Twitter site today (literally; I was trying to post something to the effect of '3/x posts successful; that's not too bad', increasing x with each failure), so I'm not enjoying it a whole lot right now. Is there a better way to post tweets?

As such, I wanted to put a "recent tweets" bit on the ol' main page just so's I could keep track of them, be reminded to tweet, and let people know that I'm there. And since I was going to put that on the right side of the screen, I might as well put up the recent comments as well, so you (read: I) can see at a glance if there's any scintillating wit that requires your (my) attention.

And, as long as I had the guts out, I might as well make a few more changes. First, you can now add your own website address when you comment. Your name in your comment will link people back to you. Second, and more importantly, if you use the "remember me" cookie, you will now only have to defeat the captcha once. Hopefully that won't lead to abuse, but if it does, I have a solution in mind.

And that's it for the Ch-ch-changes. Let me know if you see any rendering weirdness with the new right sidebar or any bugs and I'll try to straighten them out. Unless you're using Internet Explorer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007
News >
by Blob
Oh yeah. I'm all the way up to Anno Domini Nineteen Hundred and motherfucking Ninety-Nine.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
News, Stuff >
by Blob

Now, this blog here has a readership of about three. And I may have chased them off with the very sporadic updates.

Furthermore, it's a custom-written blog, so unless I used some very common post variable names (and admittedly, I may have), to spam it you'd have to either write additional code or post manually.

Given the cost-benefit ratio, why the fuck would anyone spam my comments?

And yet they do, to the tune of 10 a week, or so, starting a few weeks ago. I put in some IP logging to see if it was just one certain corner of the internets I could cordon off, but no. Look at this list from the past few days:

If your address is on this list, you should either be ashamed of yourself or improving your antivirus/firewall protection.

Perhaps I'll change the script a bit, to see which it is: manual or custom-coded.

In other news, I got the Frontalot gig. It was, however, a much larger job than I was expecting, so I'm one of four guys on the task, and the one given the challenge of project lead. I'm having a hell of a time getting the project plan done, but I really, really don't want to let the MC down.

Not least because he done sent me some phat lewt in the form of a dope T-shirt and his new CD.

Friday, December 9, 2005
by Blob

Well, I didn't make it. November was a hellish month. Work was crazy, I was trying to write my novel, holidays and baby showers and financial crises. Blah blah blah blah blah.

All excuses. Fact is, I'm a failure.

I wrote 22,037 words in November, until I had a bout of writers block so bad that I just couldn't keep up. Not bad, I suppose, but I am shamed by the likes of Kris and his wife Laura. Wesley didn't quite make it this year, but he's done it twice.

Nonetheless, I feel pretty good. It was a far, far better effort than 2004. I actually like my book for the most part. I'll probably even continue working on it. I also had a great time hanging with the other Cleveland area NaNoers.

In other news, MC Frontalot has put out a call for a website coder. I've offered up my services. Let's see if he takes the bait. I love Front's music, almost without exception. What has always amazed me, beyond the unbelievably dope rhymes, is the production value. Top-freaking-notch, even when he's only got a week or so to throw the thing together for Songfight.

I've always felt slightly bad about the fact that I haven't had the money and the inclination at the same time to offer Front recompense for the listening pleasure he's given me. So, if he should take me up on the offer, we'll call it good.

If you're a nerd, or a music fan not afraid of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, I strongly suggest you check out his stuff. In particular, I recommend Charity Case, Braggadocio, and Which MC Was That?.

I guess I'll wrap this up. Sorry I haven't posted in so long. NaNoWriMo took a lot out of me. I'm jazzed, though, and I'm ready to try again next year.

Oh, look for the voice of the blob in the first episode of Stargate Cafe to be released, hopefully, on January 1, 2006.

Okay, I think I'm done now.


Friday, August 26, 2005
by Blob

Isn't it amazing how quickly a month can slip by?

I've meant to write on a few occasions about different subjects but haven't done so for one reason or another, and next thing I know, it's a month later.

First, I wanted to talk about a revelation I had about a month ago:

I'm a terrible writer.

Which isn't to say that I write poorly. I've got a pretty good grasp of the language. I can convey my ideas somewhat effectively. It's just that I don't have any style, man. My writing is very clumsy and random. I gave NaNo a try1 last year and that's when I began to realize it. It really hit me when reading my blog. It's just pathetic.

I'm not sure if that's something I can fix or not. I may just not have any gift for words. That's okay, I suppose. I've got a number of other gifts. But writing is something that I'd previously thought I was fairly good —if not talented— at.

Don't take this as self-pity, or fishing for compliments. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, or so I'm told.

I should talk about my weight loss efforts. I've stayed (mostly) on track for the past month, but I haven't lost any more weight. In fact, I've either gained some weight or my mom's scale was lying to me. I finally got a scale of my own (and verified its accuracy), and it showed me 272 two weeks ago. I'm down to about 265 now. I believe that I've built quite a bit of muscle mass, which could also explain the discrepancy.

We're still eating smaller portions of better foods, although I've stopped watching my calories too closely. We've continued to ride our bikes; Renee actually did 24 miles on the towpath with me a couple of weeks ago. However, the sun has stopped being in the sky at 6:30am, which makes the whole morning bike ride much less appealing. So, we dug out our old Bally's cards and started going back to the gym, M-W-F evenings2. Either because I've become more disciplined about it or because Renee's there with me, the gym doesn't seem the drudgery that it did a few years ago when I signed up. Of course, we're only on our second week, so that could change too.

In other news, I found a better t-shirt printing service. Spreadshirt allows you to upload your images in vector graphics formats which means you can print them in different colors, have actual transparent regions, and they look good on fabrics in colors other than white. So, if you hit the Lurkerwear link on the left, you'll see a much better selection of shit. One feature request I'm going to send them is the ability to hierarchically group items. I'd like to have the front page show a link to each style, then the style page show a link to each type of product, then the product page show a link to each color available. But that's nitpicking. It's pretty sweet. Check it out.

I went to a Halo 2 party down in Canton a couple of weeks ago. I acquitted myself fairly well, playing against a bunch of young punks who play the game regularly. I was fairly consistently 2nd place in the deathmatch games and my team was teh winx0rz in most of the team games, so w00t. I'm having an XBox LAN party at my place tomorrow, so there will be more Halo 2 to test my mettle.

And that, dear reader, catches us all up, I think. Thank you for sharing this time with me. I feel like we've grown together. Can I have a hug?

13Bad, bad, bad. I don't embarass easily; I generally don't mind showing what a dumbass I am, but there is no way that story is going to see the light of day.

2Except last Friday, at which time we were packing up to go camping. We brought our bikes and went on the bike ride from hell.

One of my uncles suggested a route that took us up a hill that was a 90% grade for about 6,000 feet. On coarse, loose gravel. And it was hot. We walked a hundred feet, stopped, walked a hundred feet, stopped, etc.; nearly used up our water supplies— and that was just the beginning. I was supposed to take a turn onto a road that ran along a ridge at the top of the hill, and then back down to join with the (coarse, loose gravel) road that led back to the campground, about 8 miles.

Well, I'd walked this route a few years earlier, and I didn't recognize the road, so we continued on —it's literally named this— Big Hill Road until it went back down. So, now we're careening down a grade similar to the one we'd climbed on —you guessed it— coarse, loose gravel. We managed to avoid death somehow and found a paved road.

For a brief, glorious time there, it was a nice ride. Smooth asphalt, no traffic, and easy hills. But I gradually became aware that we probably should have turned where I first thought we should have turned and that I didn't know where this road was going, exactly. I was pretty sure that if I just kept turning left, I'd find a road I recognized and I was also pretty sure that the road to the campground (Wally Road) extended to a paved road to the south, so I couldn't hardly miss it. Well, that road turned on to a road that was more travelled and hillier. That road eventually turned on to State Rotue 514. 55 MPH speed limit, traffic, curvy, and hills that were worse still. But, I was pretty sure that this was the paved road that intersected with Wally, so I trudged on.

Poor Renee was dying at this point, having not started as early in the summer as me and being quite a bit less fit. I stopped at a farm for directions and confirmed that we were going the right way. Eventually we made it back after 11 tortuous miles. Just as we reached relative safety, Renee had a moment with her bike and wound up hitting the barbed wire which ran around posts on either side of the hiking/biking trail entrance to the campground. Fortunately, she escaped with just some bruises and scratches, but damn.

3I'm also not very creative. I really like what KJToo does with footnotes in his blog, so I'm blatantly ganking the idea. Oh, to have a personality of my own.