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Friday, January 27, 2006

Google Google


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If you Google Google you come up with about 873,000,000 listings.

I haven't had time to check them all out.

If you have the time to check them all out, just click the title bar to start and let us know what you find.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Cherish Your Friends While You Have Them


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Today a departure from my normal stock in trade. I got an abrupt an painful lesson in how quickly death can come to one you cherish, suddenly and without warning, leaving nothing but loss and pain behind.

I got word yesterday that one of my oldest and dearest friends died suddenly in a terrible industrial accident on CTA's Green Line in Chicago. I won't go into details, I know some young people read this blog, but it was covered in yesterday's news about the service delay at Clinton Station.

You read these stories from time to time, and go past them, and after awhile become somewhat immune to them, forgetting that for some, these deaths represent the loss of great and important people, fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, co-workers and in my case, best friends.

Jim Mulqueeny and I have known each other since high school, where we got to know each other through doing theatre and have stayed friends ever since, standing up at each other's weddings, and spending countless hours together.

For a number of years Jim and I even worked together, our desks only feet away, then later when we were in different departments, would lunch together 2 to 3 times a week.

The last two years we have had to rely on phone calls mostly, but he has remained my good and loyal friend. Our two families getting together regularly.

If my postings are less frequent for the next few weeks, I hope you will understand.

But if there is a message in this, cherish your friends and the ones you love, for we know not when they will depart this mortal coil. Goodbye good friend. I will miss you forever.

Prayers for Jim's family and friends are welcome. Especially for his family, for whom the loss of this magnificant husband and father is a shattering and horrible loss.

A few days have passed since I wrote this first message. Jim's wake and funeral have come and gone and I have had some time to think and reflect on him as a person, a father and a friend.

When you have known someone well for 33 years it is almost impossible to encapsulate their life in a few words, and to say that Jim was a great father, worker and friend, though true, says nothing of the charm, intelligence, honesty, faith and integrity of the man who I was lucky to call friend for all these many years.

Jim is and was not my only friend. I have been very lucky in that regard. Exceedingly lucky both in the number and kind of friends who have come my way over the years, and for those friendships I am very greatful. I have been lucky in family too, coming from a very large extended family - a family tree with both roots and branches that are dense and full of happy and interesting people. It is nice and warm, without being hot, in the shade of that tree.

However, Jim has been a friend who has been special in many ways. Not the least of which is that he was always there for me. Always willing to share his life and his stories and to tolerate at least a few stories where our interests did not cross, and very enthusiastic to hear about the things in which we shared the greatest interest: transit, Mac, comic books (though neither of us collect them in any sizeable numbers any more - we both have wives you know), theater, music, family, religion and of course his Red Prius Hybrid which he used when he couldn't use public transportation, bought well before the gas prices soared.

Jim was one of those people who had no doubts that I ever saw that God was real and an active part in our lives and that faith and actions based on that faith we good for the person and the world. Jim believed in service to the church and service to the world and he expressed that in his actions in his faith community and in his work.

Jim was a joyful person and was at his best when he was making a joyful noise unto the Lord. When our friend Andy had to point him out to his wife amoung the people in the choir one year he said "Jim is the one with the voice like a bell.", "Oh!", she said, "I know just who you mean."

Jim had a pure tenor voice that when he was happy rang out and floated up above the other voices in the choirs he sang in, I liked to think, creating a stairway up to heaven for their voices to float up on. I remember singing with him some weekends at St. Daniel the Prophet in Chicago in the late '70's, I would take the buses from Beverly down Western to Archer and up Archer to, say, Narraganset to join him and the cute girls singing at the mass on Sunday. Jim and I were to only two male voices, bass and Jim as tenor, and with the girls there was quite a sound, that helped the parishioners accept the "newer" music of the St. Louis Jesuits and other groups we were bringing to the table.

Jim was gifted in his ability to play guitiar and understand musical theory. I remember being amazed when we did "Adrift in New York or Her First False Step" and we were both cast as "Honkytonk Singers" for the filler added to make it a musical and flesh the mellowdrama out so to speak.

Jim acted as the musical director for our numbers so to speak, taking one part scores for "Daisy" or "Ta Ra Ra Boom-di-ay!" and breaking them out into four part harmony on his guitar and rescoring them on his own sheet music. Not a bad trick for 14. An old fashoned melodrama with a villian :Hiss: :Boo: and a hero :Hurray: and bad puns :groans: it even had lines scripted for an audience heckler :that's what you think!: whom the audience was only very gradually, if ever supposed to learn was in on the act. The heckler was Jim's mother and she came close to stealing the show. :Close but no cigar!:

One of the great things about Jim was that his friendship came with 2 of the greatest parents I had ever met. I am sure he must have gotten in trouble at one point or another but I'm darned if I can remember it during his time at Ignatius. Jim was very motivated to succeed and very, very happy at Ignatius, a melting pot for the brightest in the city. They were funny cheerful and willing to spring for breakfast or whatever for thier only son's friends after a show or mass. Very good people who should not have had to bury thier son. Please keep Jim and Collen in your prayers.

Of course Jim Sr., had the coolest Job in the world. He was a mini-cam operator for WBBM-TV, Channel 2, the CBS O&O station in Chicago. Also the cameraman for the news and at some points Donahue, Jim Sr., the man with the Red Hat, was known well in Chicago as one of Chicago's best cameramen, and if I was lucky I would see him on another Channel's news since he was rarely on his own station for obvious reasons.

Of course commuting from Beverly to Ignatius by CTA had its benefits and limitations. On the one hand, it took a long time. On the other, you eventually got to know a lot about the city, CTA and how it was organized. I began to realize a freedom and understanding about getting around in Chicago that my neighborhood friends had no idea of.

Jim loved using CTA to get to school too. He tended to come in on the Archer bus, but it was just the doorway to a world of adventure.

Commuting so far, I at least could no longer be effectively grounded, at least not on weekdays. On our way home Jim and I would some times cut through Circle Campus, take what is now the Blue line from Halstead, and get off somewhere, go through one of the tunnels in the paid area, wind up on the what is now the Red line which Jim would get off to pick up a 62 Archer and I would pick up a 22 Clark to begin our long treks home. That was just one of our ties of friendship. Riding the CTA together.

Over the years we rode many miles together. When I first started working with him, there were many times when fieldwork required going out in the field together and we would stand at the front window and Jim would point out dozens of details about the tracks, signs, signals, and hot dog places viewable from the tracks. As a former summer ticket agent working the extra board, Jim knew the location of nearly every hot dog place within a 10 minute walk of an El station in the system.

Jim's contributions to the convenience of CTA's customers were many. His eye for detail and memory kept many mistakes from being made, kept much work from being needlessly done or repeated, and, avoided needless confusion and delay.

He often put his two cents in giving many dollars in value instead, eliminating many mistakes from the system map before it went to bed each edition (not his job, but he did love to look for and find those errors before the map went to press and was glad to do it for many years). His comprehensive understanding of Chicago's streets and routes helped eliminate many of the errors from the automated bus stop announcement system. And if Chicago's automated farecard system rolled out on CTA rail without the trauma and delay experienced in New York, it was in part because Jim was involved in the quality control testing of the equipment before it was introduced to the public and the system. Yes, he was one of many, many people that made that project a sucess. But Jim made it a point to be one of those people on the team making it so, because he loved the job, loved the work and did it until he died.

Unknown to nearly all of his co-workers, but not to me, Jim fought MS for the last 15 years and Jim had started a high dosage of a new medicine the day he left for work. We was seen to be in high spirits in the office minutes before his death on the tracks below the CTA offices and so it is likely that his fall on the third rail was due to complications between his MS and vision problems and the medicine itself.

In any case, his death was a great tragedy to all who knew him. As the first three weeks have passed I find myself adding a little more to this story from time to time. But it will never be really complete for me because our friendship lasted so long and we had so much time together that attempting to tell it all is just about impossible.

Jim was a close friend, someone to be admired, very different from myself, yet in some ways very much the same, we had some very strong, very common core beliefs, and at the same time some interests that could not be farther apart. Yet in all of that we managed to be friends to each other for 33 years. I suppose it is greedy and low of me to feel miffed that I did not get another 33 years out of the friendship. That was my intention. But it didn't work out that way.

See my title. Having said that. Please remember Jim's family, because for all of my being a great friend, they are the ones who can use the prayers most.

Jim Mulqueeny Obituary

Jim Mulqueeny Legacy.com Guest Book

Donations can be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Association of America.

I have several fond memories to close with.

I am really glad that Jim got to see the White Sox win the World Series. He was a Sox fan through thick and thin and this was his year and he enjoyed it to the fullest.

After a long break, Jim had started to do plays again and I got to see him in a number of plays especially two of my favorites, My Fair Lady and The Music Man.

Finally, after months of not seeing Jim in person due to my own lesser medical problems, my son and I got a chance to see him just before Christmas. Now 3 he remembered that "Uncle Jim" had showed him his ornament train collection the year before and he and Jim had the fun of going over it again.

It was just a rare chance to we got to see him early this year. We might have missed it completely this year. But we did not. And for that, I am greatful. Still, when you know someone, and appreaciate someone, and have the love of long friendship with someone so much, even in death, they never truly leave your heart.

Keep a box seat warm for me Jim, though I hope not to need it for a number of decades.

Your good friend,

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tech Problems of the Future: The Spam Filter Drain on our In-Boxes


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Are you satisfied with the medical care that you are getting?

Wait, that sounded like spam. Have I been reading SPAM headings for so long that I am now starting to write like them?

What a horrible prospect.

Not only would my email messages start to sound truly annoying, but half the time they would not get where they were going because they would be intercepted by my friends' spam filters.

Now that I think of it, as time passes and SPAM makers use more and more tricky subject line phrases like, "This is not spam" or "Top Secret Neutrino Detector Data Enclosed" to get us to open their ads, each of these eventually going into the International Catalog of Spam Titles, used by spam detector software everywhere to classify messages as spam, how long will it be till no subject heading is safe.

Already gone are such seemingly ubiquitious titles as:

  • Re: (1)-(google)
  • Mom, about that present I gave you
  • Eight more years to get it right! (Just starting to show in certain key states)
  • You forgot this
  • Hey, you were great last night
  • About your order number 91432854-1004343-2134958-4999382-39284382-93888212-122
  • Did you return my drill?
  • O.K. Which of you jokers put the superglue in my keybord?

How long will it be before messages like these will not pass through spam filters?

  • Are my test results ready yet?
  • Who has been playing with the electron microscope?
  • How do I tell Mom and Dad that I've ditched casino school to become a Lawyer?
  • I have never stopped hating you since the day you crashed my tricycle.
  • I'm sorry Dave, but I am afraid that I cannot give you access to that website until your 18th birthday.
  • You may be pregnant, unwed and unloved, but at least your teeth will be sparkly fresh! (Darn it all, how did that get in there?)
  • I sent you this e-card, so pay up buster!
  • Happy Anniversary, we can't believe you're still married, go figure!
  • Your Uncle Sam has arranged a Happy, Happy Birthday getaway vacation in the middle east!
  • If you believe a thing that Kerry Michaels says about me then you are not my friend anymore.
  • Thank you for the sexy nightie, I hope your wife doesn't mind. (Oops, spam of the future again.)
  • Did I lend you my antidepressants darling, or are you just happy to see me?
  • My parents went to Ireland, and all I got was this lousy email.

Even now we are reduced to using work verification keystrokes to post blog postings, what is next?

What I want is a Spamarang, a little piece of software embedded in my email client. Every time I get spam, it automatically fires back 1000 replies, "Please take me off your list!" sent to the Spam host, deleting any failed message responses.

As Kant would say, if we all had this, then the spammers would have to cool it. Well, Kant spke in really formal German and his actual precept was more along the lines of "Act as though your action were to become a universal law" or thou who sends millions of messages to personal in boxes should get millions of messages in personal in boxes.

One more thing.

Thanks to those who have been clicking on my Google ads every once in awhile. It may only be a penny a click, but I thank you whoever you are. Those who support my advertisers are helping though frankly, this blog saw less than $10 in revenue last year, so any extra clicks or purchases will help a great deal. Thanks!


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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!


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At the tone, the time will be, 2006.

Happy New Year!

The Peter Files Blog has had 16,625 visits since its first post on February 19, 2005 and approximately 25,000 page views.

In May we started using a free web counter, OneStat, that tracked countries of origin, for those that could be identified, and watched as the number of hits from around the world increased.

Oh the wonder of the the World Wide Web, by years end 111 countries had been tracked.

1.United States9,65964.99%
2.United Kingdom8145.48%
11.United Arab Emirates1200.81%
24.Russian Federation470.32%
27.Saudi Arabia410.28%
29.New Zealand330.22%
36.Czech Republic240.16%
42.Korea (South)210.14%
45.South Africa200.13%
56.Croatia (Hrvatska)90.06%
57.Hong Kong80.05%
67.Puerto Rico50.03%
72.Dominican Republic40.03%
73.Czechoslovakia (former)30.02%
75.Brunei Darussalam30.02%
91.Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)10.01%
101.Northern Mariana Islands10.01%
104.Saint Kitts and Nevis10.01%
106.Trinidad and Tobago10.01%
109.El Salvador10.01%
110.Slovak Republic10.01%
111.French Polynesia10.01%


Amazingly just over 2% could not be identified, it appeared. Nearly 2/3rds are from the United States of course, but the breadth of the other countries is remarkable. As winter has its grips on Chicago, I cannot help but wonder about the person who clicked from French Polynesia, what drew them here, the weather report?

In the Fall I added pesky google and Amazon ads which have generaged less than $10 in revenue. Thanks to those who clicked on the Google ads. If someone buys from Amazon after clicking there from here we see some revenue too, so consider it, they now have a deal with Target and some other suppliers so the odds of finding something you need through the search box are greater than ever. And of course, you can always get an iPod through the ads here.

Most of all, the blog is achieving my main objectives which has been to have fun, write creatively, find a non-technical writing voice, and learn some html code. From that point of view it has been a very sucessful year with more than 300 posts under my belt now. I hope you have enjoyed them. If this is your first visit to the Peter Files Blog, I encourage you to dive into the archives, there is a lot of fun stuff there.

With American Idol starting up again, you might want to search for my posts on that in the blog search box, or check out some of the posts in "My Favorite Posts". I need to update that. Be sure to check some of the sites on my blogroll too.

If you are a regular visitor, thanks for stopping by. Be sure to leave a comment one of these visits. If you find another safe fun site, be sure to leave a link.

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