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Personal Blog : Because I needed one more blog (main)

2024-04-28 - Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer meets with Einstein

That scene in Oppenheimer, when Robert goes out to talk to Einstein, outside the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, NJ...  While watching the film, my wife and I were laughing because we recognized that spot.  "We were standing on that path a few weeks ago.  lol."

Yesterday, we went out there for a hike, and I made it a point to walk to right were that scene was filmed and get a shot from there.


Now turn the other way


And here is the scene from the film.


Yep.  The water level is higher there.  But that's totally the spot.

2024-04-08 - Eclipse 2024

Eclipse 2024

I'm sure you've seen better shots.  But this one is mine...



This is another one of those posts where, everyone knows about the event.  It was all over the news for weeks before it finally happened.

Here we have a shot taken with my cell phone, through a pair of those fancy eclipse glasses.  I was honestly surprised that it worked!

2024-04-05 - We just had an earthquake!!


We just had a f'n earthquake!  In New Jersey.

That was crazy!  I know that many people reading this are not hearing about this for the first time.  You almost certainly felt it too.  I'm writing about it now to document it while it's fresh in my mind.  Because that is what blogs are for.

Source:  USGS

4.8 magnitude centered in Lebanon, New Jersey.  That's roughyl 40 miles or so due north of where I am sitting right now.

I was sitting here working, and I felt the crazy shaking.  And it wouldn't stop. I thought it was a helicopter.  So I ran outside to see what it was.  There was indeed a copter, but it was WAY over there.  That couldn't possibly account for why everything was vibrating, and the solar panels on my roof were rattling.

The people across the street came out.  "Is your house shaking too?"  "As a matter of fact it is."  It was then that it was clear to me that that was an actual earthquake.

I then got a text fromy my wife who is about 30 miles south of there, "We just had an earthquake."

Then I got a call from the guy across the street.  "That was an earthquake, wasn't it."  "Yes.  I'm going with yes."

Now, I realize that you people in CA reading this, there must be dozens of you, are thinking, "Pffftt... 4.8.  That's not even worth a raised eyebrow."  Yeah, well, here in NJ that is a big deal.  Because it never happens.  I think 2011 was the last time I remember an actual quake.  And many people didn't even feel that one.  Lawchairs everywhere were knocked off their feet.


After all, I'm marking myself safe from the Great Earthquake of 2024tm.


2023-06-08 - Holy smoke!

Canadian wildfires

The other day, I was coming home from my morning 7-11 coffee run and I noticed that the sun was looking pretty weird.  So I took a picture of it.


I had no idea what was actually happening until later in the day when my daughter sent me a text saying that Canadian wildfires were making the air quality up in Syracuse really bad.  To which I replied, "Well, that explains why it's been looking hazy around here.  And why it smells like a weak bonfire.  And why the smoke alarm went off earlier today."

Anyone living anywhere in the northeast knows exactly what this is about.  The closer to Canada the worse it was. It's not like I'm delivering some groundbreaking news that you were previously unaware.  The reason I am writing this is to document that it happened at all.  Someday we'll all look back on this and say, "Hey, do you remember that?"

Anyway...  Yeah, a whole bunch of fires broke out in Canada, and for some reason, the wind decided it was going to blow directly south.  Evidently Mother Nature wanted as many people as possible to enjoy the smell of bonfire and a thick yellow haze for 2 days.  As of the moment I'm writing this, the fires are still burning out of control.  Hundreds of them.  It's just that the wind seems to have shifted.  For now.  I may be celebrating this fresh air too soon.

If you would like to see a nice comparative photograph, you're in luck.  These images were taken yesterday and today at about the same time:


Obviously things have cleared up.  Thank goodness for that.  And like I said, this might not be over yet.

Thank goodness I still have my trusty COVID masks.  Because that really does help with breathing whenever I've had to go outside the past couple of days.

On a more serious note...  Stay safe, Canada.  As much as this is inconvenient for us, we know that you have got it WAY worse!

2023-04-18 - Happy Spring!

Oh, it's springtime alright

The other day, it occurred to me, and I said it out loud...  "This is about as good as the yard is going to look all year.  After this, all the flowers die, and everything grows out of control..."


So let's get this in while we can.  Spring is the best season.  It's not just my favorite season, it is objectively the best time of year. Everything is coming to life.  There are all sorts of colors.  Birds and other wildlife are all over the place... You are going to be hard pressed to find someone who says they hate spring.  Seriously, who says that?  What other awesome things do they hate?!


Well, ok...  There's all you allergy sufferers out there.  But guess what.  I'm one of those.  And I STILL love spring!!  So take some Benedryl, get outside and enjoy the season!


And here we have the freshly planted gardens.  I rebuilt the herb garden, the small one on the right.  The last one, after some 5 years or so, had basically become rotted wood with dirt inside it.  That oregano plant in there has completely taken up residence.  It's been there for a few years now, and show no signs of giving up the ghost.


As of right now, the gardens are maybe 75% planted.  And much of what is there is still under ground.  One cute thing to point out...  In the top garden there, I threw a bunch of pumpkins at the end of the fall, and just let them stay there.  There are at least 3 pumpkin plants growing in there now.  When working in there yesterday, I was very careful to not disturb them.

2023-04-08 - Happy Easter

Happy Easter, everyone!

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday.  This is a day that I always think back on what Easter really means to people.  I suppose it depends on who you are.  Either you believe in the strict Christian story about Jesus and all the death and resurrection stuff.  Or you believe that this is the beginning of spring and you need to go and find all the eggs that your barnyard ducks have been hiding.  Or maybe you just like baskets and chocolate rabbits.  Maybe you like lilies and eating some ham with your family.

Maybe you have fond memories of the Easter Bunny and the kind, sweet character it is. 

Click for full size
Click image for full size

And, oh yes, this thing is available as a special Easter NFT.  Feel free to purchase one.  It would really help me a lot!

Tell your friends!

I would like to thank generative AI for making these sorts of things WAY easier to produce.


2023-04-04 - It Is Happening. Finally.

Happy Actual Indictment Day

It's about farking time. The word on the street is that this is just the beginning.  There are other indictments coming.  So far, we expect GA to be next.  Again...  It's about farking time.

And, also, let's hope this is not just another tease.  It's been too many years of this...

The first image in a slideshow

So I don't hold a lot of optimism for anything more.

Please prove me wrong.

What I REALLY want is for Drumpf to be indicted repeatedly, in multiple places.  He should be forced to travel to each location and turn himself in.  Then the court battles.  He should be in court for as long as he is still breathing.  And when he dies, continue the indictments right down through his daughter and son-in-law.  Continue the indictments for his lawyers while you're at it.

The goal is not to get convictions.  That almost certainly won't happen.  The goal is to keep him on the defense and spending money on lawyers.  And keep up that pressure for the rest of his life.  It probably won't take too long.

And no matter how much that costs this country, it will be a fraction of what it will cost us if he remains a free man.

Worried about a backlash?  It won't take more than 1 or 2 more indictments before he will be entirely too toxic even for the GOP.

Also, you should read my predictive fiction on this too.  It seems to have not happened.  But it would have been glorious if it had!

2023-03-30 - Drumpf Got Indicted

Happy Indictment Day

Oh yes...  It finally happened.  There is finally accountability for this f'n scumbag.  It's about f'n time that a DA in this country grew enough stones to finally act!


Will they get a conviction?  Probably not.  But that doesn't much matter.  The point has been made.  The precedent has been set.  The worst part is over.  And what I hope now is that other DAs and other justice departments, like for instance, the Federal one, will be more comfortable with rolling out indictments of their own.

There is also at least some hope that the GOP will finally see that this dude is bad for the party and cut him loose.  It would be nice if half of our sitting government would actually acknowledge that Drumpf is a multiple felony criminal, rather than keep pushing the hype that it's all some political witch hunt.

There is evidence.  Real evidence that he broke the law.  Repeatedly.  Over and over again.  We saw him do it, live on TV.  We heard him on tape.  We saw his actions.  Even if you can excuse everything we've seen as fabricated somehow, we watched the FBI remove 11k documents from his house.  And there are still a bunch that he refuses to return.  That is felony level crime.  It's also a national security threat.  That comes exceedingly close to treason.

None of this is in dispute.  Yet the GOP still insists that this is all political.  Guys...  It's over.  Someone with authority finally has the balls to do something about it.  That is all that's changed.  And it is in the best interests of the GOP to cut him loose now.

Or not.  Whatever.  All I'm saying is that this signals the beginning of the end for Drumpf.  Finally.

I certainly hope I don't find myself writing a follow-up next week where I have to acknowledge that he managed to wriggle his way out of this, and the case is dropped.  Which, in this dumbest timeline in which we live, is entirely plausible.  Even if it's completely impossible, it could happen.

2023-03-11 - Speaking of AI

AI Graphic Generator

By now you must be aware of just how popular AI image generators are.  Yep.  That's what I've been playing with the past few days.

This started with me seeing too many images one day that made me say, "Hey, that's pretty cool.  I'd really like to try one of them things myself."  And as it turns out, it was super easy to find an image generator and start using it.  Midjourney was one that I had heard some about.  And when I saw that they have a bot available for use in Discord, I thought, well...  That's a good way to go.

I asked for "Grogu playing with a Rubik's Cube."


That is not Grogu.  That is not a Rubik's Cube.  And whatever is going on there, he's not playing with it.  But, that's okay though.  It's such a bizzar looking thing, I love it!

For this one I asked for a "Robot drawing his own self-portrait."  


I mean, I guess that's pretty close.  He's drawing something.  But the sheet is blank...  Maybe he's just getting started?

I did a whole bunch of other stuff with Midjourney before I figured, maybe I should try a different generator, and see how that one goes.  I was already on the Blue Willow Discord.  So I tried their bot.  I started with a prompt similar to the last image I saw that made me think of it at all.  "A cat in a hoodie."  Although in this case, I specified a Siamese.


Now, okay...  No hoodie.  But he does look incredibly similar to Apollo, our 2 year old Blue Point Siamese.   

I like frogs...  I like playing guitar.  Let's combine them...  That is what I used to produce this jolly thing.


These are just a few examples.  If you were to look at my Discord you would see the list of ones that didn't exactly make the cut, but were still cool to see.Here are a few others... 

Anyway, I generated so many of these things, and still have so many other fun ideas I figured that the next logical step was to create a new NFT collection.  So...  Here is the OpenSea link.  If you would like to buy one, that'd be great.  If not, just enjoy looking at the artwork anyway, and tell your friends.

2023-02-28 - ChatGPT

What is ChatGPT?

In case you haven't noticed, AI is pretty big in the news right now.  It's actually far more common than you might realize.  Probably the most obvious thing of all is that every time you discuss something out loud, Facebook starts showing you ads for it.  The newer AIs are the ones that can create images or text from a user prompt.  There is so much to say about that that without even doing any research I could probably do 5000 words without running out of things to say.

So let's just concentrate on the newest one.  The one that is all the rage right now.  It is called ChatGPT.  It is a natural language emulator.  It can generate text on any subject, in any style.  I know I'm oversimplifying this.  But, to give an example, you could tell it to write a story about dragons, and it will.

Prompt:  tell me a story about dragons in less than 100 words

Once upon a time, dragons ruled the skies and terrorized the lands below. Brave knights sought to slay them, but none succeeded. That is until a humble farmer, armed only with a wooden staff and quick wit, faced a dragon and offered it a deal. In exchange for sparing his village, the farmer promised to provide the dragon with a steady supply of cattle. The dragon agreed, and thus began a mutually beneficial relationship between humans and dragons.

Yeah.  I created an account and started a new chat.  That was the prompt I provided.  And I gotta say.  That is a pretty damned solid story.  And the entire story is 78 words.  So it kept well under my limit.

I also asked it to write me a poem about cats in the style of Edgar Allen Poe.  And it did.  In fact, it just kept writing verse after verse until I told it to stop.  I told it to write a "Hello World" program in PHP.  Not only did it generate the code, it provided explanation for how it worked.

I am not here to make any commentary on this or what the implications could be using such technology.  But I can say that I am very impressed with this AI.  It is amazing how articulate the responses are.  In fact, that is the reason it has become so popular.  Students are using it to do homework.  Journalists are writing news stories.  Content creators are writing whole articles.  I'm sorry...  Let me rephrase...  They are using ChatGPT as a shortcut to do their work for them.

And it is really only the beginning of this sort of thing.  You can expect many other AIs like this to crop up in pretty short time.  And they will likely be even more impressive.

That is all I have to say about that.

So now I will leave you with some Poe inspired verses about cats.

Prompt: write a poem about cats in the style of Edgar Allen Poe

In the gloom of the night,
As I sit by the firelight,
My mind is filled with feline delight,
As my cats roam about in sight.

With eyes as bright as the stars above,
And fur as dark as the raven's plumage,
They slink and glide with silent love,
As if dancing to a macabre adage.

Their paws fall with a muffled sound,
As they stalk their unsuspecting prey,
Their whiskers twitching all around,
As they prepare to strike and slay.

Oh, cats of black and cats of gray,
They fill my heart with joy and dread,
For in their eyes, I see the fray,
Of life and death, both sweet and sad.

And as they curl up by my side,
Purring soft and low,
I know that I am in their pride,
And that they will never let me go.

That's golden.  lol.

2023-02-25 - Something old

Something old and new

This is not really new.  The module has existed as long as the app.  But I made a page for the widget.  It's not live yet.

If you are reading this it means it worked.  And that's really cool.  I always liked this project and kinda wish people used it more.  Maybe this will help.

2023-02-24 - weather widget

Trying something new

Let's see if this works.

Okay.  Evidently it does.

See, time was that I would normally make these sorts of things available as JavaScript links.  But people don't really trust those anymore.  So I've started using a different method that allows me to run php files instead.  This also allows me to use server-side code.  Which, for this examples, is essential to how the thing works at all.  It does a call to the National Weather Service to get the data it needs.   And this widget will work for most major airports across the country.

Since I got this working so well, I went ahead and made a page where you can configure this thing and use it on your own site.  Please have a look here, if that sounds interesting and useful to you.

Man, I really should have done this a long time ago.  I've been using that trick of pulling data from the NWS RSS feeds for like 20 years.  This is just the newest iteration.

2023-02-01 - Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
Wait, what?

Well, this is my first blog post of the year.  On February 1st...  I should really post more often.  Anyway...

Today I got a most interesting email.  That rarest of things...  Someone reaching out to ask a question...  I like the question enough to answer.  And below is both the question and my answer...

On Wed, Feb 1, 2023 at 4:34 PM wrote:

Stroiciel ([email protected]) says:
Comments: If you spend your free time playing or learning how to play, what instrument do you face, which instrument is your favorite? In my opinion, the piano sounds the best and also has the highest scale among all instruments and sounds beautifully in it as chords. Please briefly justify why this particular instrument deserves to be called your favourite.
This user is not a robot


What an interesting question.  And one I am happy to answer.

I like the guitar.  For me, it is the most versatile instrument with many different ways to play.  Fingerstyle, acoustic guitar, classical, jazz, blues, metal, big band, country, slide, tapping, shredding, and all the rest.

It can be both a single instrument, and used to play two parts at the same time.  If you're really inventive, you can add percussion to your playing, and literally play the drum parts as well.  Look up Mike Dawes if you want to see that for yourself.

Clearly I can't do all of those things.  But there are people that can do a LOT of them, very very well.  Since I was a little kid I loved the instrument because of that.  And I wanted to learn to play like that.  I wanted to make those sounds myself.  After all this time, I'm STILL learning new things.  New styles, new ideas, new chords, new rhythms, the list goes on and on.  There is never a day that I don't learn something new.  STILL.

I've been playing for over 35 years now.  I've played live doing thrash metal, blues, jazz, funk, and a lot of stuff with horns, lol.  I love to play acoustic too.  That is a completely different instrument than the electric guitar, and it must be played differently.  But you can bring a lot of each technique to the other instrument, and that's a nice touch.

I am far from any of the best players.  But I am good.  Really good at some things.  Great at other things.  Not so much at many other things.  There are some things I will never be able to do, no matter how long I play.  That's one of the reasons I like to play so much!

I hope that helps give you some insight as to how a musician sees the instrument, and why.

Ken Lawton



I are serious bunny.
This am serious email.

2022-11-10 - Finally!

The illness has broken

After 6 days of quarantine and positive test, I finally got one of these,


In case you've never seen one of those, that is a negative test!  This means I can finally go back to normal behavior without fear of causing the next wave of the pandemic.  But of course, what this really means that I will still be wearing a mask an sanitizing my hands before I go into any store.  For the next week or so anyway.

2022-11-09 - The Day After

Happy Post Election Day

This is everyone's favorite day of the election season.  The day that we get to make predictions about what is going to finally happen.  We only know most of the races for sure.  The rest will take some time.  Then, if they are still too close to call, we will wait even longer while they count again.  But the best part is that we won't have to endure any more of those political ads.  Oh, great googiliy moogily did that just REALLY get on my nerves.

In the end, what I know is this.  I still have COVID.  I'm not even going to bother to post today's test because it looks very similar to all the previous tests.  The line is much dimmer.  That's the only difference.  I'm feeling fine though.  Much like I said yesterday.

Getting back to stuff about the election, if you scroll down a bit, you will see the widget for the Countdown to Election.  It is now showing the 2024 Presidential Election.  I wrote that program to be date aware, even to the effect that it known when the last election ended and pulls up the next election.  Plus I made a few other enhancements to it to make it easier for me to maintain.

Just thought you'd like to know that.

2022-11-08 - Election Day

Happy Election Day

That's all I'm going to say about election day, other than that I intend to do everything in my power to avoid any news, TV, pundits, or even other human beings until tomorrow.

I know it won't work.  But I'm going to try.  Because seriously...  This election season has been the worst one since the last one.  Considering I still have the COVID, it's probably not good for my heart.

Oh, by the way, I still have the COVID.


I'm going to start calling the "COVID-22, the Relentless".

I actually feel pretty good today.  So this has got to be on its way out.  But the tests keep telling me otherwise.

2022-11-07 - COVID Day 4

Still going strong

This has been going on Since Friday when I first posted about it.  Here is Saturday's test.  Is it clear?


NO.  Still positive.

So I tried again on Sunday...  C'mooon, clean test...  Let's see some negative!!


NO.  Still positive.

Here we are on Monday.  I've got to be clear now.  My wife has tested negative this entire time.  So i must be done with this.  This has got to be the one!


Oh, for the love of Odin's Raven!  C'mon!

On the lighter side, I really don't feel all that bad, all things considered.  It's pretty mild.  That's a good thing.  But, I'm still in quarantine.

It seems that I picked a pretty bad time to sunset my old blog.  This would have been perfect for that.  Oh well...  If i could see into the future, I could have avoided that, I suppose.  But then, if I could see into the future, there are probably a lot of other things I would be working on.  Like buying the right stocks for example.

2022-11-04 - Yep

WhooHoo!! COVID for the win!

You've got to be farking kidding me!


All this time I've gone without ever showing positive once.  Although, I'm sure I had it once a few months ago.

I'm vaxxed, boosted, and all that.  Maybe I should have gotten the booster booster.  I don't know.

All I know is that I feel like I have a little bit of a sinus infection.  My wife suggested I take a test.  So I did.  With the first positive, I took a second, just to be sure.

Bah...  Maybe I shouldn't have closed down the old COVID-19 blog.

2022-10-30 - widget

Countdown to Election Widget

Trying to get this thing to work from off-domain.  And here we go...

It seems to be functioning well enough.

2022-10-28 - Out with the old

Out with the old, in with the new

That is the saying...  In this case it applies to our little fire pit.  

The very first one of these things we got when our daughter was turning 16.  "I know what I want for my birthday.  I want one of those little fire pits."

"Hey, as it turns out, I'd like one of those too.  So, yep, you got it."

That first one lasted about 2 1/2 years.  Not too bad.  So when that one burned out, literally, I went and got one just like it.  That one also lasted about 2 1/2 years.


Yeah, it's a gonner.  We had a fire the other night and I started noticing and awful lot of embers falling out of the thing.  It had burned through.

So I went to my favorite store to purchase such things, and got me a new one.  Ta-da!


I guess we'll see how long this one lasts.  We use the thing all the time.  So it's pretty well expected that it won't last forever... I almost feel compelled to go burn something right now!  Well, maybe not.  I've got a ball game to watch tonight.

Game 1 of the World Series.  And much to everyone's surprise, the Phillies are playing!


Oh, hell yeah!

2022-10-18 - Social medea

I blame Twitter

Seriously, Twitter.  What the actaul hell?

See...  I know how their algorithm works.  I know how it feeds me things that I react to.  I don't follow Gym, Boebert, or MGT.  I don't follow a few other Conservative political types.  But I see their tweets EVERY time I go to Twitter.
And I can't help myself.  When Gym says something stupid, which is every time, I comment back.

And THAT is why I keep seeing their shiat all the time.  I don't see anything from any Democrats really.  I few things here in there.  But the majority of my feed is frontloaded with shiat that makes me angry - makes me react.

So maybe it's not just that the GOP are more vocal.  Maybe Twitter is just making me believe that.
As such, I have started blocking all those accounts.  That will be the first step in making me feel better.

But still, I can't farking wait until this election season is over.  And MAN I hope it doesn't go completely to shiat.

2022-10-13 - Title

Where Have I been

Here is something that I had started doing a bunch of years ago. I never finished the project because I was doing it with Flash, and that platform was already on its way out by then. That was years ago.

The other day I was thinking about this and it occurred to me that Tableau is actually perfect for this sort of thing. Because I can put all the data in a Google Sheet. And from now on, all I need to do is keep that Google sheet up to date.

So, yeah, this is pretty cool.

If this fails to load, for some reason, here is the actual Tableau Dashboard


2022-10-09 - Mercury

Mercury, the planet

So now that I have this blog set up and ready to go, here we are...  It's story time...

The planet Mercury, as you may know, is one of the 5 planets that you can see with the naked eye.  Ok, 6, if you include the Earth.  Shut up.  Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are really easy to see.  Jupiter and Venus are usually the brightest things in the sky other than The Moon.  But Mercury is very, very difficult to see.  The reason for this is that it's very close to the sun.  So most of the time, when Mercury is in our field of view, which is almost all day, all you see is sunlight.

The only way to see Mercury is when the sun is below the horizon.  So just before sunrise, or just after dark.  Well, that, and it has to be at the point in its orbit where it is the furthest from the sun.  Today happened to be such a day where we could check off all the boxes, AND it was crystal clear.
And here we are, for the first time in my life, at 53 years old, I managed to find the exact right timing that I was able to see Mercury, photograph it, and verify that what I was seeing was indeed correctly identified.

So I got up a few minutes earlier this morning, went outside and looked to the east.  I was pleasantly happy to see the planet.  Here is a shot from my driveway.


Yeah, it's right there next to the street light.  Pffft.  So I went around the corner and took a shot from a darker place with no foreground light.  This is much better.


Here is proof, as per my trusty Star Walk app


Now, you may be asking yourself why it took so long for me to finally get this verifiable view.  The short version is that I haven't been trying very hard.  Like I said, it's rare that it's possible to view.  And I thought I had already seen it once.  Except that as it turns out, I don't think I actually did.  This goes back to some years ago when I was driving up in the hills in north Jersey, and I happened to be facing west at sunset.  What I saw was a pretty bright dot to the left of the sun.  And I assumed it was Mercury.  The position seemed about right.

Then I come to notice later that because of our orientation in the solar plane, Mercury would have to appear above or below the sun.  Not next to it.  For what I saw to have been any planet, it would have been one that was in orbit perpendicular to the solar plane.

So what I saw all those years ago was probably not Mercury.

2022-10-08 - The blog is on

Today was a nice day

So, yeah, I kinda miss my original blog.  For over a year, I posted every single day.  And that was sorta the mission on that thing.  To detail how life was when the pandemic was at its height.  Good times, man.  Good times.  Click that link in the previous post if you want to read that.  It's still there.

Anyway... I stopped making new posts.  Mostly because I got a little burned out with it.  And the pandemic was effectively over anyway.  But in the time that I have not been writing there, I've been writing in my other two blogs.  One is dedictate to cryptocurrency, and all the fun stuff going on there, and another one that is really more of a news satire / commentary site.  When I have a specific topic, I tend to write in one of those. But if I just have as story to tell, I didn't really have a personal blog anymore since the last one more or less ran its course.

So I'm gonna use this blog to detail fun stories I have to tell.  Hey, if nothing else it's better than reading about all the other shit going on in this world.

2022-10-07 - First blog entry

This is the first entry

This is a clean version of the template that I use for my COVID-19 blog that I started back in March.

This version of this thing is a fresh new one that I just imported from the Empty Blog software.

Click those two links if you would like to know more about this project.  But for now, know that this is now my personal blog going forward.