Baylink - The Things I Think
Fiction is not a morally neutral act. --Spider

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Just what is this place about, anyway? I'm E-pinionated

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Why I Love Geeks

Geeks are great, because we can get really excited over stuff that most people would consider trivial...

Tuesday, September 5, 2000 @ 12:32 p.m. - Comment

Da... Da.... DA.....

DA DAAA.......

Monday, September 4, 2000 @ 06:52 p.m. - Comment

The Ultimate Laptop

has only one problem:

It's sort of difficult to hold it on your lap.

Monday, September 4, 2000 @ 02:15 a.m. - Comment

Lucky Tim

Well, he *is* Irish... :-)

About 3 years ago or so, I suggested to Dave Winer at Userland Software that he ought to think about porting his pretty cool Frontier scripting environment over to Linux from the Mac, since the wind seemed to me to be blowing that direction.

Well, maybe Dave's bipolar, or something, but for no apparent reason, he decided that my suggestion was reason to call me just about ever sort of motherfucker there is... and I think a couple of them, he made up.

In any event, it's nice to see that I'm not the only one who's gotten the shaft; and it's even nicer that he decided to screw someone with more readers than me. :-)

Monday, September 4, 2000 @ 02:03 a.m. - Comment

Well, here's a shock

According to this story in the Times, since the 1997 British gun ban, gun crimes are down, but violent crime overall is sharply up.

What a surprise.

Disarm the potential victims. That's gonna scare off the criminals...

My favorite quote:

Since 1997, Broughton notes, there have been no mass shootings in Britain.

Ok, so how often were there mass shootings in Britain *before* the ban?

Sunday, September 3, 2000 @ 03:56 p.m. - Comment

Rant: Why Call Centers Suck

When call-centers waste my time.

Friday, September 1, 2000 @ 05:13 p.m. - Comment


That's Accommodating Network Savants With Educational Replies. (Ok, actually, I just now made that up to tweak you, Chris. :-)

That what you might call people who answer questions at, where my Rocky Horror network-buddy Chris Ambler just went to work.

Just another place for me to go act like The World's Foremost Authority

Wednesday, August 30, 2000 @ 09:26 p.m. - Comment


yes, *yes*, YES, -=*!YES!*=-! This guy gets it!

Wednesday, August 30, 2000 @ 05:26 p.m. - Comment

RISKS of Hotmail

I've just been published in the RISKS Digest again. :-)

The topic this time is Hotmail, and the fact that it apparently will allow the reuse of previously-used 'screen names' (that is, email address Left-hand-sides). I asserted in my piece that 'even AOL has this right', and an alert reader asked for a reference.

I was working from memory, but this unofficial web-posted copy of the AOL Rules of the Road suggests that my memory was correct:

If a screen name is deleted, any unread E-Mail sent prior to that deletion will also be removed, as a deleted screen name cannot be reinstated.

That's in a section not directly related to the topic, but at the same time, it seems fairly unequivocal. If anyone has an authoritatve reference to the contrary, I'll be happy to retract.

Monday, August 28, 2000 @ 07:38 p.m. - Comment

Geeks With Guns

Regular readers know that I'm of Libertarian bent, and that even though I've never fired a gun, I'm a shooter at heart.

It's not that uncommon amongst hacker types, the best example probably being the regular 'Geeks with Guns' shootfests held around the country at various Linux gatherings; largely at the behest of uber-hacker (I'll bet he hates being called stuff like that :-) Eric S. Raymond.

More than 40 people showed up for the latest event, covered quite nicely by the Boston Globe, daily newspaper of my 'back home'.

Monday, August 28, 2000 @ 05:18 p.m. - Comment

Here's a followup

to the story below. Well, actually, it's several months older, but it capsulizes the whole topic beautifully, I think: wot's all this fuss about, anyway?

As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that's wrong is forcing anyone into anything. And that's a global comment, I don't mean to apply it merely to this topic. But I do think that the 12 and 13 year old -- or indeed the 14 and 18 year old -- playing doctor are in much less danger if their parents *do not* chastise them, beat them, or try to have them arrested.

[ Might not hurt if I actually included the link

Sunday, August 27, 2000 @ 05:43 p.m. - Comment

Just because you're paranoid

...doesn't mean anyone's actually out to get you. That's a twist on the usual phrasing, of course, but I didn't do it by accident. It seems that I'm not the only one who thinks that the biggest danger from the Great Internet Pedophile Scare is the scare itself. Noted by alert blogger Brennan O'Keefe, this story seems to support the assertion I've been making for some time, which is, roughly, that the fear that we as a society are injecting into our kids over the possibility that they might be molested is much worse, collectively, than the hurt caused by the actual molestations -- several orders of magnitude less frequent as they are.

My favorite quote was the same as Brennan's:

But we haven't seemed to learn that our ability to convince ourselves that a threat exists is no guarantee that there is one; our ability to make arrests does not mean crimes have been committed; our determination to protect our children does not mean we are doing so. Satanic ritual abuse, we recall, did not exist at all -- nowhere, not once, not to anybody: So says the FBI.

We never *do* seem to learn that lesson...

Sunday, August 27, 2000 @ 04:30 p.m. - Comment

You know...

sometimes, you see a story that makes you think that maybe, just maybe, we're doing something right after all.

Retired botanist Barbara Mowbray loved nothing better than the 120-year-old red cedar in her back yard. Before she died she asked Lindsey Miles, 14, and other neighbors to preserve the tree at all costs.

Lindsey promised.

Today, the tree is designated to fall victim to a new sewer system for the Villa Marina Condominiums. And Lindsey is fighting to save it

Sunday, August 27, 2000 @ 04:06 p.m. - Comment



Thursday, August 24, 2000 @ 10:07 p.m. - Comment

If you know how to think

...this will make you think.

If you don't... you probably won't get it.

Thursday, August 24, 2000 @ 09:45 p.m. - Comment

Tonight's Ugly Weather

is over. But it's still Hurricane Season for 3 more months; plenty of time to get drowned, run over, stuck by lightning, hit in the head by flying debris, or, if it's more to your liking, electrocuted by downed power lines.

What? You say you *don't* enjoy that sort of thing?

Well, here's your chance to do some planning in advance. One of the best thought out hurricane information pages I've yet seen comes from the St. Petersburg Times' "Florida Forecast".

The entire site is exceptionally well done, actually, with the exception that, like everyone else's weather sites, it doesn't have a radar on a small enough scale to suit me. Pinellas and Hillsborough, guys; I already *have* radar that covers West-Central and the whole state.

Thursday, August 24, 2000 @ 08:59 p.m. - Comment

Don't Just Stand There...

Do Something.

That's one of the favorite maxims of Gen. Colin Powell, USA ret. Recent polls show that if he ran, he could be elected President, right now. Republican, Democrat, or Independent.

Quite aside from the fact that I'd love to see him elected because he *doesn't want the job*, it would be *very* interesting indeed to see how the government would react to a write-in winner for the Presidency.

I'm not going to tell you how to vote... but think about it.

Thursday, August 24, 2000 @ 12:20 a.m. - Comment

Rules of the Game

I remember seeing in a bookstore, a while back, a book containing all the published official rules for every sport you can play... in high school and college.

I remember thinking "Why the (excuse me) *fuck* would someone do that and *not* include the rules for the professional sports leagues??"

Well, Cecil was kind enough to point out that Major League Baseball (you know them; the only corporation exempt from the Sherman Anti-Trust act? :-) has in fact posted theirs. Spiffy-cool.

Thursday, August 24, 2000 @ 12:04 a.m. - Comment

How to Be a Boy

Well, *I* don't usually need help on that, but Salon's Jami Attenberg decided to give it a try. And you know what she found out?

It ain't as easy as it looks.


[ Spotted in Mouthorgan, which I don't really read nearly often enough. ]

Wednesday, August 23, 2000 @ 11:57 p.m. - Comment


I'm happy.

I'm only about 200 pages in, so these are just the leaders; full review to follow.

But I take full credit for single-handedly saving Tom Clancy's writing career.


Damn, but he's back on his form.

Wednesday, August 23, 2000 @ 10:53 p.m. - Comment

National Security Council

proves that they do, too, read Tom Clancy novels...

they're just two or three books behind.

[ Stolen shamelessly from Brennan, whose headline was just a *little* bit funnier than mine. ]

Wednesday, August 23, 2000 @ 01:22 p.m. - Comment

Thanks to Brennan

for noting that I'm not the only one who thinks that Tom Clancy's editors need to be fired.

Brennan's excellent, although *very* purple, weblog is [Weblogging] Considered Harmful. Check it out... but bring your shades.

Tuesday, August 22, 2000 @ 01:32 p.m. - Comment


The casting for the Harry Potter movie is in.

I approve.

[ Thanks to Honkzilla at MeFi ]

Tuesday, August 22, 2000 @ 12:16 p.m. - Comment

Unh *Unh*.

The Sorting Hat says I'm a Slytherin. I'm sorry. I don't *think* so. I wouldn't have objected to being a Ravenclaw (even though we haven't even seen a *drawing* of Cho yet :-), but a Slytherin?

Nope. Sorry. Recalibrate your hat, guy.

Monday, August 21, 2000 @ 11:46 p.m. - Comment

Are there any Women out there?

I *completely* missed a pretty major fracas on Metafilter the first of the month, triggered by an essay by Steven Den Beste, one of the regulars thereabouts. He's had a dry spell about as long as mine, and decided to go grab a lap dance.

So, after this crystallized for him some thinking he'd been doing about women, and other females who don't have the self-confidence to act in the manners that women have traditionally acted, he wrote the aforementioned essay.

Then he made the same mistake I once made with a piece here: he linked it off the front page of Meta, as a story. This is usually considered a misdemeanor, but it gets promoted to felony if people don't agree with what you've written... and since people are disinclined to give it a fair play in the first place since you've committed a misdemeanor, most such items do become felonies.

So of course he got shafted for it.

It's a shame, I think, because part of what he was saying was what my favorite SF author, Spider Robinson has been saying for years; and said explicitly in his book "Lady Slings the Booze":

Anyone who thinks it's immoral to pay someone to pretend to care about you has no business going to a hairdresser, or a restaurant, or a prostitute...
or a strip joint, of course, but even the fact that it's ok to pay someone to pretend to care about you as long as you both know what's going on wasn't his real point: it was that these days, the only women with enough self-confidence to be (as Heinlein would have put it) womenly women to a manly man are the ones who are on-shift, getting paid to do it.

Ghod help anyone of *either* sex who's a *human* these days, instead of a robot... we'll wonder what they're up to.

Steve: your only real mistake was expecting the post to be read by men and women. (Oh, and admitting to being human *and* trying to investigate sociology in the same essay... :-)

Monday, August 21, 2000 @ 11:23 p.m. - Comment

How Much Can You Expect From Your Friends

I realize that everyone has their own map on "what I owe my friends". I understand that if you don't expect *anything* from your friends, you're much more likely to be *pleasantly* surprised. But Kee-rist...

It's been almost a month, Marie. Even a piece of email would be nice. Are you still alive?

Monday, August 21, 2000 @ 01:48 p.m. - Comment

HylaFAX is spiffy-galifty

I've been banging much harder lately on the drum marked HylaFAX. HylaFAX, for those who weren't following the action, is an open source fax server package which runs on Unix and has clients available for Unix, Windows 3 and 9x, and the Mac.

It's getting a running start towards the release of version 4.1, which will fix a number of annoying bugs, and I hope to be investing some effort in the updating of it's documentation -- probably as part of the project I may or may not have mentioned here of writing a book about the whole thing.

O'Reilly have turned me down on it, alas, but I'm still a'querying, and I hope to get a good answer on it.

[ re-reads old entry: Well; I guess they're *not* the 'only publisher I'd consider'. Wishy-washy of me, isn't it? ]

If I don't, there's every possibility I may just write the thing anyway, and either self-publish it, or just include it with the package.

There's a running fuss about the idea of writing for pay in the open source environment, but while I'm certainly willing to discuss the topic with anyone who's thinks they have an interest therein, I *know* how much work writing a publishable book is; I have to eat two.

I hope ESR doesn't take offense at my current joke on the topic, which is "I don't have a wife who's a rich lawyer."


Monday, August 21, 2000 @ 01:40 p.m. - Comment

In an unexpectedly related context

I don't know why I turned up in a search for "i'm sick and tired of life. is there any place on the internet which can make me feel better? because i have no one to go to either.", but I do hope that person gets help.

Sunday, August 20, 2000 @ 10:43 p.m. - Comment


I was a year ago today that my dad died. 20 Aug 1999.

We weren't anything like friends, but I don't do death well, either. These things are fighting with one another.

I have excellent taste in SF authors, so I didn't spend any time feeling bad because I didn't feel worse, but...

Sunday, August 20, 2000 @ 10:40 p.m. - Comment

And you thought you had mail problems...

I mean, you might think it's a long walk to the corner chemist, but that's just *peanuts* to Earthlink.

Friday, August 11, 2000 @ 11:50 a.m. - Comment

Granny Earp is at it again

Ok, Maria Pittaras is actually only 28. But it looks like, as they say in the business, a righteous shoot.

In point of fact, the percentage of citizen shootings in defense of one's self or another that actually *do* go bad turns out to be *less* than the similar statistics for shootings by cops.

Gee, I wonder what that means?

Thursday, August 10, 2000 @ 06:32 p.m. - Comment

Now this is what I call...

teenage penetration.

Wednesday, August 9, 2000 @ 05:35 p.m. - Comment


RIP Alec Guiness.

Monday, August 7, 2000 @ 10:53 a.m. - Comment

This Whole Internet Thing

I receive a couple of mailing lists regularly which cover various topics related to network management. I'm talking *big* networks; backbone engineers, web farm managers, that sort of crowd. So, when smaller or larger bits of bad Internet weather crop up, I usually know about them; I consider that part of the job, given what I do for a living.

There's been some fuss about one of the root nameservers this week (if that doesn't mean anything to you, just understand that if '' didn't work, but *did*, there's a nameserver problem somewhere), and I've been watching the fun.

I've also traded several messages with the new VP Engineering at Network Solutions, the people who run the registry and manage .com, .net, and .org. One of my replies to one of these guys reminded me of some comments I wrote a few years back, in response to a Department of Commerce Notice of Inquiry on the whole DNS thing. I was pleasantly surprised at *just* how well they meshed with what I'd just written, and I didn't think I'd pointed to them from here yet, so there they are. I hope you find them, in the phrasing they deleted from my submission, damn them, comprehensible, rather than compost.

Friday, August 4, 2000 @ 09:25 p.m. - Comment

The Wholigans are Back in Town

...or something like that. If you like the music of the Who -- who (no pun intended) by the way are due in town next month for a show for which tickets *are* still available -- then you probably oughtta go see the Wholigans Saturday night, too. Stephanie Kalem of the Planet wrote a very nice piece about them in this week's issue.

They're playing again next month, too, and two days later, they'll be playing *outside* the Ice Palace, right before the Who play *inside*.

Quite apart from the fun Barry will have hanging with Roger Daltry (whom he looks a *whole* lot like), this raises a very interesting question: what the hell do you play?

Thursday, August 3, 2000 @ 07:44 p.m. - Comment

There are just some people with *way* too much free time...

Does anyone here remember The Optigan?

Thursday, August 3, 2000 @ 05:54 p.m. - Comment

Holy Shit!

It's not Christmas yet, but I'm prepping for the christmas album I mentioned last week. In the process, I ran across the website for the artist who performed the title track, Red Peters.

I laughed, I cried, I fudged my undies. You will too.

Monday, July 31, 2000 @ 12:15 a.m. - Comment


I didn't write *anything* last week.

Well, at least I have a good excuse. I'm writing a book.

No, really. I spent the last 2 weeks setting up a fax server for a travel agency client, Changes in L'Attitudes. I used HylaFAX 4.1, the free, almost-but-not-quite-GPL'd Unix fax client/server package. I've wanted to write a book, frankly, for quite a while; this expensive English education shouldn't go completely to waste. (Yes, I've had an expensive education in English; do you *know* what books cost these days??)

So I've written a proposal, and emailed a query letter to the acquisitions people at O'Reilly & Associates; really the only publisher I'd even consider for a book this specialized.

If they take it, I'll probably be even busier than usual the next 6 months. :-) If I know you, and you're technically inclined, I may ask you to read a chapter or two and comment. If I don't know you, and you think you should be reading a chapter or two, let me know.

If I don't know you, and you want to know how to set up fax servers... wait 6 months, and buy the damned book. :-)

Sunday, July 30, 2000 @ 07:41 p.m. - Comment

What in the hell is going on

... in Zach's Mind? :-)

Zach is a regular at Metafilter, who's been more talkative of late. He's very, very good (to paraphrase the Mitsubishi commercials), but sometimes, he makes me worry:

When I was four, I didn't want to play with the annoying plastic lawn mower that my relatives gave me for a gift. I wanted to play with that big noisy greasy thing in the garage that actually had blades inside it and could swallow small children whole and spit them out. That was COOL.

Sunday, July 30, 2000 @ 07:37 p.m. - Comment

I've believed for many years

...that to be a good writer, you have to read a lot.

Being a good *writer*, on the other hand, is useful if what one wishes to do is to *review* books, as is demonstrated in this very nicely done Harry Potter review by Steven King.

Yes. *That* Steven King.

Monday, July 24, 2000 @ 07:59 p.m. - Comment

Where are the flying cars?

It's the year 2000; they said there would be flying cars.

I want a flying car!

Sunday, July 23, 2000 @ 01:29 a.m. - Comment

Aw, crap.

Is there any male out there who was the right age in the late 70s and early 80s who didn't want to marry Lisa Welchel; Blair from Facts of Life?

Too late. She has three kids.

[ Thanks to Lilly. (Damnit, Lilly, you have one too many Ls in your name; I always mispel it. :-) ]

Sunday, July 23, 2000 @ 12:02 a.m. - Comment

Sex as Power

My friend Charlotte, who I guess is allowed to post things like this, because she can do it :-), linked to this article, entitled "Just smile, and show a little cleavage", the topic sentence of which is

Women are manipulators, plain and simple. They utilize every inch of their bodies to get what they want. They use their sexuality as a weapon, their body language and words as ammunition, and men as their targets.

No burying the lead, this writer. :-)

My problem with this piece is... [goes back, re-reads article]... I can't spot it, on second reading. It amounts to 'playing the game for points', a phrase I use for a habit I hate: doing something 'just because you can', when the other party involved ought to assume you have the customary motivations.

But looking back at the article, I guess all it really says is "men are stupid; if women are equipped to take advantage of that, they should".

I guess I can't argue with that.

Saturday, July 22, 2000 @ 11:51 p.m. - Comment

Do women really not have a sense of humor?

This article says so. At least, they don't appreciate funny ads.

Unless they're subtle.

But I wasn't always told you couldn't *use* subtle humor, because people would miss it.

Well, I take refuge in my elitism: if you didn't get it, it wasn't for you.

Saturday, July 22, 2000 @ 12:37 a.m. - Comment

My comments...

to Bruce Schneier concerning a letter in last month's Cryptogram have been published. Someone was commenting on Microsoft's public comments about a security hole, and someone else just didn't get it...

Thursday, July 20, 2000 @ 01:25 p.m. - Comment

More evidence...

that normal is a setting on your washing machine.

We're in the midst of a shakeout, and it's not going to be pretty. The Internet pretty much forces participants to live a more public life... wherein we're going to discover that *everyone* is a pervert.

Which is to say... *it's not perverted* to be interested in sex.


Thursday, July 20, 2000 @ 10:22 a.m. - Comment

What's really going on...

at Camp David.

I wonder if the Naval Surface Detachment, Thurmont, MD, knows how to get owl shit off windowsills...

Tuesday, July 18, 2000 @ 07:14 p.m. - Comment

Tyrone Mall: Racist?

Shyeah, right.

I spend a fair amount of time at Tyrone Mall... and it gets more black traffic than any other mall in Pinellas County. If they've been acting racist in the past, I guess all the black people (a crowd not known for this failing) missed it.

OTOH, while I don't have any pleasant thought for the gang-bangers, if they aren't breaking the law, they shouldn't be being harassed either -- even if what this kid was doing was gang-related.

If the SPPD gang squad doesn't think it was, I'm pretty sure the mall security pukes need to get off their horse. Yeah, private property, and all... but guess what: 42 USC 1983. I think that guard, even if off-duty, was probably "acting under color of law".

Worse, since he *was* off-duty, the mall's insurance carrier probably wouldn't cover him, even if it would otherwise.

Oh, yeah:

"When any person [wears a white hat sideways like that], white or black, it's a sign of being in a gang," said Josh Edwards, 14.
Using *that* quote was journalism? Gimme a break. John Sugg, where are you...?

Tuesday, July 18, 2000 @ 07:04 p.m. - Comment


Any time I say that about a web page, it's time to link it. ;-)

Cam pointed out this page from that makes spiffy use of DHTML. If your browser supports it, you'll see a box around each item whose name you mouse over.

My only quibble is that I'd have made the boxes with slightly thinner lines.. but then, I'm still stuck at 640x480, so what do *I* know?

Monday, July 17, 2000 @ 11:48 p.m. - Comment

Christmas in July

For the last several years, my Christmas presents to my friends have been music (yeah; I'm a criminal; arrest me).

More specifically, Christmas music.. but not what you might expect. The title of the 'album' was "Holy Shit! It's Christmas! A collection of eclectic music for the holidays"

The past couple times I've done this, I got started *way* too late, and ended up with hand-labeled cassette tapes.

Not this year. :-)

Monday, July 17, 2000 @ 11:39 p.m. - Comment

New Epinion: Callahan's Key

Short version: I liked it, but there were a couple things I thought could have been handled better.

Easy for *me* to say, ain't it?

Monday, July 17, 2000 @ 11:19 p.m. - Comment

Well, this is no surprise...

There's finally some movement on protecting your Social Security Number -- and maybe people will stop looking at me funny when I refuse to give it to them.

As you might expect, this is only happening because someone finally got around to screwing a legislator. The fact that it'd been happening to his *constituents* for years is immaterial...

Sunday, July 16, 2000 @ 02:42 p.m. - Comment


It was an interesting exchange.

If you didn't already get here from there, I was quoted in this week's Linux Weekly News, disagreeing with Linus on some issues related to 'real-time' Linux. The exchange is on "the Back Page", my final reply, which didn't get printed was

To a certain extent, I guess that depends on your definition of "general purpose", but I see what you mean. I simply hadn't extracted far enough. I do agree that streaming media isn't a good enough excuse, it just seemed to me that there *were* good enough excuses. Now I'm not so sure. Thanks.

If you're wondering "who is this yahoo who's disagreeing with St. Linus in public?" (:-), you can either read my last 6 months of scribblings here, or check out what Google and DejaNews have to say about me...

[I'll take refuge: that Deja Search is compromised just now because Deja forgot that they got started in this whole thing with *NEWS*, and have taken a lot of the older stuff off line... probably forever, but I'm a pessimist. I hope not; everyone else gave up because they were doing it.]

Wednesday, July 12, 2000 @ 09:07 p.m. - Comment

He blogs for Harry

Harry Potter, that is.

And I'm so glad he does, because it allows me to point you all to "Harry Plodder and the Kidney Stone":

“I wonder whether he will grow up and avenge those poor people who...well, perhaps it is best not to speak of such things.”

Dumbleass looked worried. “Do you think we can keep this to-be-continued crap going for six and a half more books, hinting and alluding to things that might happen, if we sell enough books to get that far?”

McGonads was silent for a moment before replying. “Time will tell.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2000 @ 06:38 p.m. - Comment

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This site is hosted by Pitas, but they have no control over what I say. If you don't like something I said, don't even *think* of suing them or I'll blow up your house. ;-)

If you're down here it's because you decided you wanted to link to me. Wow. Cool. Thanks. :-)

I use Phil Greenspun's clicktracking system to keep track of my traffic, and I like to use it on inbound links too, when possible; it's interesting to know where the traffic comes from, and theCounter isn't quite as spiffy as I'd like. If you could use the following link code to link to me, I'd appreciate it:

Link Text

just copy the link and make up a YOURTAG that's somewhat descriptive. Thanks again for your trouble...

Um, d'oh! Wes Felter points out that it would be nice if the link pointed to *me*... Fixed.

And for those people who think I'm trying to be subversive with the status line crap, it's merely functional: *I* like to be able to see the URL, too. If anyone has suggestions on the (I think insoluble) 'making the link change color if you saw it somewhere else' problem, I'd love to hear them.

No, it's not.

Google finally spidered me a while back... but it's not really up to dealing with weblogs; it doesn't check often enough. The Freefind searchbox at the top of this page spiders me almost every day; retry your search there, if you're still motivated enough. :-)