I’m taking time off from the Daily Nugget for the long Labor Day weekend. I guess I’ll just turn into a tropical hurricane and wreak havoc in the Caribbean.

Jennifer Garner

Jennifer Garner has been asked to appear in an official CIA recruitment video. According to published reports, she will provide the introduction to the video that will be shown to college graduates as part of the agency’s recruitment efforts.

Chase Brandon, film industry liaison for the CIA, confirmed that the project was in the works. Apparently, Brandon established a rapport with Alias producers by consulting with them in the show’s early stages of development.

Although on the surface this may seem like a good idea, would you feel safe if national security is run by Alias fanboys and fangirls? If you are basing your decision to join the CIA on the Alias TV show, you probably shouldn’t be working for the CIA.

I love my Xbox, that’s never been disputed. However, a company named Infinium Labs is in the process of developing a game console, called the phantom, that will rival the Xbox and some even suggest the Xbox 2. How!? Well, it is not a traditional game console at all, it doesn’t have a cartridge slot, a DVD, or a CD-ROM player. Instead it is a video game on-demand subscription service. The console, scheduled to be released in Q1’04, will cost $300 and come with a 50 game bundle that will cost $10 per month. Sounds pretty sweet, we’ll see if it becomes more than vapor.

The Earth will be closer to Mars than it has been in over 60,000 years, 34.6 million miles away, early Wednesday morning. The red planet is normally about 50 million miles from Earth, on the average. The closest point will officially take place just minutes before 6:00AM EDT and visible from any point where there are dark skies. It’s only a matter of time before we send some mofos to the red rock.

Update: (8/27/2003) Here is a follow-up story of the event.

The saying goes that if you mess with the bull, you get the horn, or the “Longhorn” in this case. After dealing with the virus bull (i.e. bullshit) that hit the world last week mostly because of unpatched flaws in Windows, Microsoft announced today that it would release its new version of Windows, Longhorn, to developers in October. Surely, this is Microsoft’s attempt to diffuse last week’s virus beatdown with some positive news. Stay tuned for more bull!

I completed my PADI Open Water Diver Certification today after two awesome days in Monterey, California. It was warm and sunny and the water was nice and calm, visibility was 12 ft. to 15 ft. You may think that having to do four dives in two days in water that ranges from 56F to 58F may not sound like a lot of fun, but while wearing a .5mm skin, a 6.5mm farmer john, and a 6.5mm jacket it’s not cold at all. I only felt cold at a depth of 43 ft. because the thermocline made the temperature drop from 58F to about 50F–that 8F difference was brutal! Luckily, we didn’t stay at that depth for long.

All in all though, it was a great time. It would have been even cooler if Mama was there, but she will finish her certification in Hawaii. The highlight of the trip? Well, apart from going to the Monterey Aquarium on Saturday afternoon, on the final dive I spotted an electric ray that decided to swim around us after we approached it. Uh, we didn’t touch it, which was a good thing. It kicked ass!

Fred Miller

Mama’s grandfather, Fred Miller, passed away on Thursday morning. He is survived by his daughter Doreen, his son, Robert, and his grandchildren, Mama, Miki, and Dennis–he was 86-years-old. Mama flew out to to attend a memorial service in Chicago and another service near Baltimore, Maryland, Fred’s final resting place.

We had the opportunity to spend time with Fred last summer and had a great time hearing stories about his time in the service, his old van, and his chihuahuas. Fred was sharp as a fiddle and even had a girlfriend, Helen, with whom he spent time with into his dying days. One thing is certain, Fred and his smile will be missed by all of us.

In the finale of the Amazing Race 4, the remaining teams started in a dead heat in Australia on their way to the Phoenix, Arizona finish line. However after 4 continents, 24 cities, and 44,000 miles, married couple Reichen & Chip won the race.

After starting the leg in second place, the pair took the lead heading into Hawaii when engaged couple Kelly & Jon missed their connecting flight in Tokyo and best friends David & Jeff became stranded in Sydney. Kelly & Jon almost caught up to Reichen & Chip when they were on the same flight to Phoenix, Arizona, but Reichen and Chip secured the seats in the front of the airplane to gain an advantage coming out of the airport–Reichen and Chip won!

It sucks that the clowns were eliminated before the final three, the ratings would have been higher since they were the crowd favorite. The last episode was plenty exciting without them though. I am also glad with the outcome, Reichen & Chip deserved it after that stellar final leg. I certainly hope that this season’s ratings were good enough to warrant the production of Amazing Race 5, because I’m already looking forward to the next race.

The SoBig (W32.Sobig.F@mm) computer email virus continues to flood email inboxes and has been declared the fastest email infection ever. IT staff members have been working almost 24/7 all week to get rid of this latest threat.

Once this virus, infects a computer it automatically emails copies of itself to email addresses that it finds in the infected computer’s files, including *.htm and *.html files. So, it has the ability to harvest email addresses from cached web pages on the machine, which are typically found in the Temporary Internet Files folder. You can find more information about the virus here.

This shit is getting crazy! Good luck to all my homies still working in the trenches and dealing with this bitch–you know who you are.

A 50-year-old woman was killed by a great white shark a yesterday at Avila Beach near San Luis Obispo, California. The woman was reportedly bit by the shark as she was swimming with seals near a pier at the beach. The incident prompted scientists to offer tips on how to avoid being bitten by a great white.

Having lived in California for so long, I know the drill. The most important rule is don’t swim with the shark food, especially seals, sea lions, and otters. If you see any of these swimming near you, get the fuck away from them. Also, try not to look like them. Choose bright colored wet suits and fins over all black ones. This will help you, assuming there’s enough light for the hungry shark to distinguish you from a seal.

Actually, getting attacked by a shark is like winning the lottery, let me explain. Beach attendance in California hovers close to 100 million per year, but from 1990 through 2002 there were only 34 shark attacks. And only one of those was fatal, until yesterday. In contrast, during the same period, there were 289 shark attacks in Florida, with four of them being fatal. Considering these statistics, the odds are 38,235,294 to 1 of getting attacked by a shark off the coast of California. So, good luck, and may the seals not be with you!

A Yosemite landmark falls. As if answering my rant from yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story today about the fall of Yosemite’s Sentinel Dome Jeffrey Pine, giving it its due props. Apparently, Kelly St. John, the writer of the piece, also thought that the tree deserved more than just a side note in another story. Big ups to the Chronicle for stepping up.

Well, I’ve been in Temecula, California since yesterday and, unfortunately, will be here all week. I have to admit, I was in serious heat denial until this morning. I had forgotten that hell is hot, but Temecula is hotter. I flew in early morning yesterday, worked indoors all day, and the evening was relatively mild–about 76F last night. I guess I forgot, or blocked from memory, that it gets hot as hell here. The expected high today is 94F with 80% humidity! Sadly, I’ll have to go outside several times today, since I am doing a wireless access point discovery of the Guidant campus using Kismet and my laptop, walking around everywhere. One thing is for sure though, I am not bike riding in this heat with the guys that work here, like I did last year.

(c) 1940 Ansel Adams, Jeffrey Pine, Sentinel Dome, Yosemite

A sequoia tree fell onto a Jeep at Sequoia National Park today, luckily nobody was inside. The owners of the vehicle had gone for a hike and heard the tree fall and it wasn’t until they returned to the car that they realized what happened.

Sadly, near the end of the same story it stated that the lone Jeffrey Pine that sat atop Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park fell sometime last week. The Jeffrey Pine, which was photographed by Ansel Adams in 1940 (inset picture), was not a tree at all, but more like a Yosemite landmark with the distinction of being “the most photographed tree in the world.” I am glad that I got a chance to photograph the Jeffrey Pine before it fell. Although the fallen tree will not be removed, Yosemite may never be the same.

What pisses me off, is where is the story of the Jeffrey Pine!? don’t want to read about Ben and JLo anymore! Why didn’t the Associated Press run a story about the Sentinel Dome Jeffrey Pine by itself and reveal its celebrated history to the world? It’s a shame and disappointment that the mass media did not do this story justice. However, as long as we remember the tree it will live in our memories and pictures forever.

Mama and I completed part one of our PADI Open Water Diver Certification this weekend. We took the classroom training and performed five confined water dives in a 12ft deep pool. Next weekend, we’ll dive in open water in Monterey and hopefully get a chance to check out the aquarium when we’re there. Breathing underwater is totally strange at first, but once you get used to it, it is totally awesome.

The largest blackout in U.S. history happened yesterday afternoon shortly after 4:00PM Eastern. The blackout affected most of the Northeastern U.S. and parts of Canada covering 9300 square miles–50 million were left without power. New York was the state that was hardest hit. Many people were effectively stranded in Manhattan and slept on the streets due to lack of working subway trains in New York City. The exact cause of the blackout is still unknown, but lights are coming back on this morning.

The outage caused huge transportation probems everywhere and people are still stranded at airports nationwide. Surprisingly, the outage did not cause an increase in crime and looting was not reported in New York City. New Yorkers showed a lot of poise during this crisis. I guess after the attacks of 9/11, everything else pales in comparison. Not suprisingly, the U.S. and Canada are both blaming each other for the failure.

The French estimate that over 3,000 people have died from heat-related causes due to a blistering European heat wave that has affected France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain in the last three weeks. Over 2,000 have died near Paris alone! Officials blame the high death toll on the length of the heat wave and the fact that most Parisian buildings lack air conditioning. It’s so bad, that the French government is calling health workers from vacation and even some morgue workers back from retirement to deal with the crisis. I think that it is fair to say that global warming is not only very real, but a threat to our very existence.

It seems that the MSBlast worm is still wreaking havoc across the world. The question in everyone’s minds is, what will happen on Saturday? For those that may not know, the worm will cause infected computers to perform a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Microsoft’s Windows Update web site on Saturday. Some security experts think that the attack may cause Internet traffic may increase ten fold, which would slow Internet response times substantially. If you haven’t patched your machine already, you should definitely do it now!

Warren Buffett, the second richest man in the United States and a passionate Democrat, will serve as senior economic advisor in Arnold’s Schwarzenegger’s bid to become governor of California. Buffett will be responsible for assembling prominent business leaders and economists to address the economic issues facing California. In a written statement, Buffett supported Arnold’s bid for governor and stated that with Schwarzenegger at the helm, California’s economic crisis would be solved. If big time Democrats like Buffett are supporting Arnold, he will be unstoppable in the recall election.

A self-propagating worm has made its way around the Internet today, reportedly infecting over 125,000 computers, but the actual numbers could be higher. The worm, known as “LovSan” or “MSBlast,” has even brought down all the computers at the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles–they were forced to close their doors earlier today.

The worm propagates itself using the DCOM RPC protocol on TCP 135 and causes the infected host computer to continue infecting other hosts on the same subnet using TCP 135, to listen for TFTP connections on UDP 69, and to set up a hidden remote command shell that listens on TCP 4444. Additionally, the worm also has a “time bomb” element to it that will instruct all computers infected with the worm to perform a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against the Windows Update web site when the system date reaches August 15th. Read more about the worm, and how to get rid of it here.

This thing is downright nasty! Last night, I helped my friend Mark J. Asher clear his computer of the virus manually, and it is a pain in the ass, especially if other computers on your subnet are infected. The denial of service function of the worm makes it really scary. It is equivalent to giving people a deadly disease and then taking away the only known cure. Be sure to patch your computer now!

Starting next week, UC Berkeley students will receive a stern warning from the university about the perils of music file sharing. They’ll be warned they can lose their Internet access or get slapped with a costly copyright infringement lawsuit if they aren’t careful about uploading and downloading files using programs like Kazaa. University of California officials sent a memo advising all chancellors to send a message to all campus communities. Stanford sent a similar message to faculty and students in May. According to most school officials, the RIAA is playing hard ball and the universities are warning students “for their own good.”

In this leg of the race, teams raced from Seoul, Korea to Brisbane, Australia. David and Jeff used the Fast Forward to end up in first place, Reichen and Chip survived a big scare, and unfortunately the big favorites to win, Jon and Al, the circus clowns, were eliminated from the race.

Jon and Al were at a big disadvantage early on in this leg. They decided to book plane tickets on a Korean Air flight that was heavily delayed, while the rest of the teams decided to book flights on a Singapore Airlines flight. Things were not looking good for the clowns.

Reichen and Chip lost control during this leg of the race. Chip was snapping at everyone, especially the Korean cab driver. Chip’s attitude didn’t win him any points. Adding insult to injury, Reichen and Chip did not READ their final clue which directed them to go “by foot” to the Pitstop. This isn’t the first time that Reichen and Chip have failed to read the clue properly. In Episode 8, they didn’t read the clue which stated that the Pitstop was “at the end of the beach.” You would think that reading would be a requirement for the race.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today that he would be running for governor on a reform platform to battle special interests and “clean house.” I think it is unbelievable to me that this guy is getting so much press and that the Democrats consider him a viable threat against Davis. Due to this new development, Democrats are looking for strong candidates to battle the Terminator–they don’t think Davis can hold his own.

Geez, let me bring the general public back into the confines of reality. Arnold is an (make quotes with fingers for emphasis) “actor.” Sure, he may act like a governor now, or for a couple of months after the election until it becomes time to do any real work. And when he fails miserably from lack of political or legislative experience, will we recall him too?

Davis is not at fault that Enron and its gang of thugs, er executives, decided to corner the energy market and milk California for millions, check that, billions. Davis is not at fault for the dot-com bubble bursting and for the failures of high-tech businesses all over the state. You can blame dumb and wishful VCs for that. Who’s to blame for all these things ultimately!? Greed. Good old-fashioned greed. I bet that’s what’s fueling this recall effort!

Kay Lillibridge

Today we found out that Mama’s former co-worker, Kay Lillibridge, passed away last Thursday from a blood clot in her lung–less than a week before her thirty-fourth birthday. Needless to say, this came as a huge shock, as Mama did not envision burying one of her peers anytime soon.

Kay was the co-founder of the Cornell Japanese Animation Society, then known as the Cornell Japanimation Society back in 1988, and was an active member of that organization for many years. Beyond her passionate love for Japanese animation, I knew very little else about her, except to say that she was extremely kind and loved her cat very much. Kay, you will be missed!

Update: 08/08/2003 – A memorial scholarship has been created in Kay’s name by the Saratoga Springs Public Library in New York. This scholarship will be available to individuals in Saratoga Springs or San Francisco that shared Kay’s drive, passion, and love for books. If you would like to contribute to the scholarship fund, please contact:

Kay Lillibridge Memorial Scholarship
Saratoga Springs Public Library
49 Henry Street
Saratoga Springs, New York 12866
(518) 584-7860

Our hearts go out to Kay’s surviving family; to her loving parents, Jan and John, and to her brother and friend, Mark. May we all remember Kay forever.

A judge ruled today that bounty hunter Duane “Dog” Chapman will not receive the $1 million of forfeited bail for capturing convicted rapist and Max Factor heir, Andrew Luster. Instead, the money will go to the Luster’s victims, the police, and district attorney fees. The judge stated, “In my view, you violated state statutes and Mexican statutes, therefore you are not entitled to any restitution.”

WTF!? Since when is breaking the law in Mexico something that judges in Los Angeles gives a shit about? The Dog risked life and limb to bring an arrogant rich motherfucker to justice and I think the Dog should get a bone. Who cares if he broke some Mexican laws, who cares if nobody told him to do it, who cares that he looks like a white Busta Rhymes? Give him the cash!

I watched the show on Thursday night, but forgot to write the review. Better late than never I guess. Okay here it goes. In this tenth leg of the race, Kelly and Jon battled back from last place to finish first as teams traveled from Malaysia to Seoul, South Korea.

Once teams landed in South Korea, they had to go to a frozen river only a few miles from the North Korean border to perform a Roadblock. It was the craziest Roadblock I’ve ever seen! One team member had to strip down and swim in freezing river water, while fighting the river current, between two holes carved in the frozen ice. It was only a distance of about 25 feet, but in water that was maybe 36 degrees that is a really long way. Once team members got out of the water, they were warmed in heaters and not allowed to leave the area until their core body temperature reached normal levels. You have to give it up to the Bruckheimer production staff–that was some crazy shit!

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Okay, there I said it and it feels like a heavy weight has been lifted. Yes, admission is the first step to recovery. But, in order for a full recovery to take place, something drastic needs to happen to make the franchise exciting and fresh again. The star, in Star Trek, is falling and someone needs to catch it.

I have felt this way for some time, but I was in complete denial. I didn’t want to admit that I don’t really like the current series, Enterprise, that the last movie, Nemesis, was good but not great, and that Farscape reruns, are ten times better than anything Trek has done since the finale of The Next Generation and a couple of standout Voyager episodes.

What pushed me over the edge!? Well, I just read an article in Entertainment Weekly titled Fallen Star that pretty much summarized everything that I had been feeling about Trek for the last couple of years. In addition, the article has several suggestions on how to make the series better, which gave me some hope. Hey, Rick Berman, you listening!? Here are some of the suggestions:

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The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) was perfect in the early days of Arpanet, when there were only about a thousand trusted hosts. That was back in 1981. Those numbers seem like nothing compared to the 170,000,000 domains that are currently registered. That’s a potential 170,000,000 mail servers! When you think of those numbers, and the number of unscrupulous marketers and spammers, you can begin to see that the protocol has outlived its usefulness. I personally don’t care if they make changes to the existing protocol or just start one from scratch, but let’s make it happen–we’re all tired of spam.

The FDA removed warnings from olestra, the zero-fat substitute, earlier today concluding that if it has any stomach-troubling effect, it’s mild and rare. Uh huh. Don’t you remember the warning that was there before:

“Olestra may cause violent vomiting and projectile bowel movements.”

Uh, I guess the 20,000 complaints that were reported to the FDA were all one big misunderstanding. Yeah, right. I guess this is what happens when you have a Republican-controlled Food and Drug Administration and Procter and Gamble gives huge campaign contributions to the Republican party. Even stuff that’s bad for you is all of the sudden safe again. Perhaps a new product slogan is in order like, “Olestra, you’re sitting on it.”