inessential by Brent Simmons

October 2001


Happy Halloween!

Fierce Face


I got bored with what was on this page today.

How about something else?

I think it’s cool that there’s a Hemingway Blog.

I love to think what Hemingway would have made of the word “blog.” Something unidentifiable you find on a battlefield somewhere in Spain? Maybe he would have used it instead of “nada” in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.”

It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it all was blog y pues blog y blog y pues blog. Our blog who art in blog, blog be thy name thy kingdom blog thy will be blog in blog as it is in blog. Give us this blog our daily blog and blog us our blog as we blog our blogs and blog us not into blog but deliver us from blog; pues blog.

People think I’m funny—funny in the head—because I always wear a codpiece.

But hey man, hey, I’m just old-fashioned.


I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.

Relax—you’re soaking in it.

Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.

We will sell no wine before its time.

The quicker-picker-upper.

Where’s the beef?

Here comes the big number one.

Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids.

Plop plop, fizz fizz—oh what a relief it is.

Follow your nose. It always knows. The flavor of fruit.

Only you can prevent forest fires.

I’ve got that not-so-fresh feeling.

You deserve a break today.

It’s the real thing.

Here’s to good friends. Tonight is kind of special. The beer we’ll pour—it must be something more, somehow. So tonight... let it be Lowenbrau.

Grab a Heiney!

Don’t squeeze the Charmin.

The pause that refreshes.

Is Gillette Foamy thick and rich enough to hold up this husky hiker? No!

I want my MTV.

Give a hoot—don’t pollute.


Fierce face!

Fierce Face

Papa says:

I will bite Windows XP! On the butt!

There will be blood! It will taste good!



There’s all this news about how Windows XP doesn’t crash.

Well, whoop-dee-doo.

Windows 2000 doesn’t crash on me either. It hangs in all kinds of unexpected and bizarre ways, but I’ve yet to see the Blue Screen of Death on it.

I don’t plan to “upgrade” to XP. I don’t want to get slurped into the Passport/copy-protection/Microsoft-is-omniscient thing. Spare me. This is such a dark-side play it makes me sick.

Fierce Face

I often get a kick out of the semi-literate sportscasters on national TV.

The other day one described Yankee pitcher Orlando Hernandez as “very imaginary on the mound.”

Imaginary—I like that. I could hit off someone who’s imaginary.

Repeat to self while standing in the batter’s box: there is no pitcher, there is no pitcher, there is no pitcher. He’s not real, not real, not real.

Shelley Powers on Windows XP: “The sad ending to this long tale is that the folks most loyal to Microsoft are the ones most likely to get kicked in the teeth by Microsoft’s new policies.”


Sheila: Go Mariners!

From now on, when I want to insult somebody, instead of calling them a jerk or a numbskull I'm going to call them a nasal swab.

Hey you nasal swab, hey you nasal swab, get offa my yard.

“Jerk” is a mild insult, almost not worth bothering with.

But it's short for one of my favorite all-time insults: “jerk-off artist.” Now that's an insult. The guy jerks off so much, loves it so much, that he's become no less than an artist.

People don't call other people jerk-off artists often enough.

It's fun to come up with variations on the theme. For instance, one might affect a British accent and say, “While perhaps not the master of the onanistic arts, he's a devoted and highly skilled craftsman.”

Or one might imagine fighting a jerk-off artist. Picture a boxing ring, surronded by thousands of your adoring fans. Howard Cosell is introducing the bad guy.

Picture any bad guy you want. Okay, Osama Bin Laden. (That was easy.)

Anyway, here's Howard Cosell:

“And in this corner, all the way from Afghanistan, is the Picasso of pud-pulling, the Chagall of chicken-choking, the Pollock of penis-pulling, the Matisse of masturbation, the Jasper Johns of jerking off—terrorism's own Osama Bin Laden!”

The crowd boos and boos and boos. Ding ding! You knock him out in the first round.


Are the terrorists now trying to kill us with boredom?

"Another case of anthrax reported..."

"Heavy bombing tonight in Kandahar..."

Oh, shut up.

This is like OJ and Monica and Condit and Bakker and Hart and Tonya Harding and Saddam and Rodney King and Woody Allen and Florida and Swaggart and Abscam and John Rocker and the Menendez brothers all rolled into one.

The only thing we have to fear is... the sheer awful terror of boredom. Waking up in a cold sweat for lack of stimulation. The inanity of the fixed idea, the children's song that gets stuck in your head. B-I-N-G-O! And Bingo was his name-oh.

The river of Time seems to have frozen solid.

Tip for Manila users:

IE 6 for Windows sometimes centers all or much of the content on a page for no readily apparent reason. It looks awful.

Sure, it's a browser bug, but you can work around it on your own sites. Here's how:

If you have a <!DOCTYPE...> tag at the top of your template, make sure it doesn't include the URL.

In other words, if it looks like this:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "">

Edit it so it looks like this:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">

That's all there is to it.

Boat shoes. Boat shoes boat shoes boat shoes boat shoes. Boat shoes.

I'm not wearing no boat shoes.


Congratulations to Dave!


I've set my browser to prompt me for each cookie. I love to deny them.

"Do you want to accept a cookie from"

No, no thanks.

Some people when they decorate put up lots of duck pictures. Other people less so.

I'm atomic.


How to run Frontier scripts from Apple's Script Menu.


M's win game 5!

Bring on the Yankees.

I'm totally having fun doing If you have news links I'm missing, please don't hesitate to send me email (to


Sheila: O Papa! New pictures of our kitten.

2001/10/12 is my Radio-built weblog covering the Macintosh scripting world.

I'll probably add a directory and other goodies, but I'm feeling my way, doing one thing at a time. I'll see what kind of feedback I get.

The site has a deliberately plain template. If the site becomes popular, I want it to be because:

1. The links are valuable.

2. It's easy to read.

3. It loads super-quickly.

In other words, I don't want you to hesitate before you go there because you've found it's slow, you don't like the graphics, or it's hard to separate news from ads.

There's an awful lot going on in the Mac scripting world -- not only can we write shell scripts on OS X, not only does Perl come with the OS, but Apple has added XML-RPC and SOAP support to AppleScript, which is a great move.

It's so windy this morning. Really excrementally windy.

When I was a boy I thought what was amazing about wind is how it's invisible but you can still feel it.

My kitten has the scamper madness one minute and then, boom, he's passed out on my lap.

We use him as a thermometer. If it's cold inside he curls up with a paw over his nose. If it's warm he stretches way out, a loooong kitty.

He's growing fast.

I wish I could be invisible at will. I'd learn some foreign languages and join the CIA. I'd be a spy. Nobody would be able to catch me.

They always said I wouldn't get zits once I wasn't a teenager anymore.

They were horribly, tragically mistaken.


Major congratulations to V.S. Naipaul for winning the Nobel Literature prize. (Via Sheila.) An excellent choice.

I'm pulling for both Philip Roth and Milan Kundera to win one of these years.

Every time they say Jalalabad on TV I hear "Jelly Bean Land."

Were I a poet, I'd be thrilled that the names of these Middle East countries all rhyme.

Roses are red
Violence in Pakistan
American planes
Drop their bombs in Afghanistan.

I started a Radio weblog.

I wish animals could talk to me.

I wish I could breathe underwater.

I wish I could control time like a VCR. Stop, rewind, fast-forward, frame advance.

These are feature requests, if anyone's listening.

Is it okay to ask feature requests of God when so badly needed are bug fixes?

Is God just a user, the guy running this software, and if so is there someone more powerful, a programmer who wrote this software?

Has that programmer been on vacation for a few thousand years?

I think Uzbekistan
And lovely Tjadjikistan
Might make great friends
With the U-S-of-A-istan.


Here's a weird request.

I'm looking for recommendations for driving schools in Seattle, preferably near Ballard. It's about time I get a driver's license, I figure.

Anybody have any recommendations?

I moved the earlier version of today's home page here.


Brent's Dictionary of Received Ideas.


My kitten now likes to climb on top of my monitor and reach down and bat at the cursor. It drives him nuts that he can't get it.



My kitten is now big enough that he'll fight with my hand. I've got these little tooth marks all over. I should use a sock or something.

But there's something exciting about how unerringly he goes for that skin between my thumb and index finger. A sock would cover that up.


Frontier/OS X users -- I could use your help with a script.


On the discussion group people are talking about Sesame Street.

My favorite character was Big Bird.

I'm old enough to have watched Sesame Street from the first season. I remember when they changed the actor who played Gordon. My mom had to explain it to me. A very difficult concept for a young child. I never liked the new Gordon as much as the old Gordon. I really missed him.


Sometimes when we release a new feature for Manila or fix a bug or whatever people thank me personally in email or on their websites.

Which is totally nice and I appreciate it. It feels good to be thanked.

But... Sometimes I'm just the person who announced the feature. Or, I wrote the code, but other people designed the feature, or a group of people designed the feature. And so on.

Even if I personally did all the work on a particular feature, I'm still building on years of work by other people.

What I mean is, it's always a team effort, so thanking UserLand is the thing to do, not thanking me personally.

I remember learning as a boy that in New York City they numbered the public schools, as in PS 130. I was envious because my school had only a name.

Where I lived you could count the schools on your fingers, so they didn't really need numbers, names worked fine. But I wanted a number, it sounded glamorous.

Why do I live in the city, not the suburbs or the country?

I think it's because of Sesame Street. I loved Sesame Street. It was cool how they could walk around and see people and have fun and there were all these wacky characters.


If your weblog is a Manila site, then I'm reading its print-friendly version. I'm an addict. It's so fast to load, so clean and easy to read.

Maybe it's just me, but I see weblogs as the mammals and big publications as the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs are slow and overgrown. The mammals, smaller and more nimble, eat the dinosaur's eggs.

But some weblogs defy this metaphor with slow-loading, dinosaur-like templates.

My aesthetic -- and I speak only for myself -- is that while a good design is important, it's not nearly as important as the words. Weblogs really do live and die by the words. It's about writing.

So the words should pop to the front. The site should load quickly.

You can still have an attractive and interesting template, of course.

There are now thousands of webloggers. If you want to attract me, it needs to not be painful to go to your site. If I'm on a T1 and I complain about loading times, what about the people on slower lines?

Think Bauhaus, think form-follows-function, think Shaker furniture.

Think small and fast, clever and warm-blooded.

Here's a telegram from John Q. Speedy, a fictional guy who makes a living optimizing website performance.


I'm not the hard-ass he is, so I'll modify that a little bit.

Try to not to use more than one JavaScript include, and make sure it's calling a fast server.

For whatever reason, browsers have a hard time with JavaScript includes. Nothing drags down site performance like pages with multiple includes.

I'm not going to name names (<cough>Jeff Cheney</cough>) -- you know who you are.