Category Archives: Trivial Anecdotes

Stories, tangents, or otherwise experienced.

“Like A Gay Porn Site With A Mac Bent”

Oh dear. This one is going to haunt me for years.

Google recently introduced some neat free stats for webmasters, and being the eager webmaster I am, I decided to sign up and enable myself.

What I found is that while many of my top search terms are reasonable (“quicksilver os x”, “play asia”, “ny1”), my #5 Top Search Query and my #1 and #2 Top Search Query Clicks are, in the words of Rob Huebel, “un-savory”. And the problem is, I know why – at least partially.

This one is potentially not safe for work. You’re going to have to click through for the rest of the story.

Continue reading “Like A Gay Porn Site With A Mac Bent”

Cheat To Win

Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:29 PM]
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:29 PM] D=
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:29 PM] I did the same thing in 1998 against a girl I was playing Scrabble against online, using a program called X-Words Deluxe.
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:29 PM] I had bet the girl over the game; whoever lost would have to write the other an 8 page letter.
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:30 PM] I did not know this existed
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:30 PM] ahahaha
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] I won, obviously.
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] She wrote me the letter.
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:30 PM] That is so amazing
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] A year later, I would admit to cheating.
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:30 PM] I am gonna hustle people at scrabble now
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] She would hit me repeatedly.
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] Three years later, we got married.
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:30 PM] =O
Matt Fernandez (AIM) [7:30 PM] That’s so romantic
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] Shortly after that, I started working full time for the company that made X-Words Deluxe.
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] I would tell my bosses this story.
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:30 PM] They would laugh.
Dan Dickinson (AIM) [7:31 PM] And that concludes Dan Anecdote Hour.

World Gradually Collapsing, Film At 11

Every morning on the train, I have a tendency to bury myself in something; over the last month, it’s been a Sudoku book I picked up from a local Japanese bookstore. I try to complete one puzzle from my home stop to the one I need to transfer at; this gives me about ten minutes. I also traditionally have my iPod on, thus making me a little ball of puzzle-solving isolationism.

As you might guess, this makes me completely oblivious to the world around me. As evidenced by the IM message I got about an hour after I got into work:

*”dandickinson is wearing a red shirt and doing su doku puzzles on the train.”*

Sure enough, [one of the bloggers I’m friendly with]( had gotten on the train in Astoria, sat pretty much across from me with his girlfriend, and spent much of the ride debating whether or not they should say hi. They weighed against it, figuring I was in my “morning space”.

It would be safe to assume I will be considerably more alert on the subway from now on.

Later: my phone rings at my desk. It’s a vendor, one I’ve been trying to work a purchase through, but where the purchase process is stalled due to red tape and decision making. This isn’t the first time the vendor has called trying to check up, and I don’t blame them.
In the course of the conversation (which involved giving a very brief overview of why the purchase is taking so long), the vendor says:
“You know, I just visited campus a few months ago – I love that sidewalk in front of that one building, the one that makes noise if you step on it right?”

I ponder this quickly – there’s nothing like that at the Medical College; there’s not even much of a campus to visit. Did he mean the Ithaca campus? What on the Ithaca campus would be musical…oh yeah, the area around Olin Library. I respond, stating that we’re not in Ithaca although I had gone there for undergrad and knew what he was talking about. I also mentioned that I had lived in the area for about ten years besides that.

He continued: “Oh yeah? That’s cool…I was there visiting a friend, she lives in Trumansburg…”

At this point, I can literally feel the universe collapsing slightly. I point out that I, in fact, lived in Trumansburg.

He continued: “Really? Wow…my friend’s last name is Ellis, Ca…”

He didn’t need to finish. Carmen? Sure, I remember her – and not just because she was two grades ahead of me and we had a couple classes together. No, it was because my very first job – just over ten years ago, now that I think about it – was working for her father, out of their house, at one of the very few web design places in the area.

I relay this, and then we had one of those magnificent pauses that come when you have such a coincidence naturally occur. He promised to say hi to her for me.

I smiled, promised to attempt to push the purchase through once more, and hung up.

The Full Monte

(photo by Katie)

As I’ve told a lot of my out-of-town friends, NYC is (luckily) not quite the same as the rest of the world; we are missing a lot of chain restaurants. Chili’s, Denny’s, and Ruby Tuesday’s are totally absent; many of the “common” places (Outback/Red Lobster/Olive Garden) have only one or two locations. Hell, we have one 7-11 in all of Manhattan, and that just opened a month or two back.

It had been about thirteen years since I last ate at a Bennigan’s, and when I heard one had opened near Times Square, well, I just couldn’t help myself. I had a fever – a fever for Monte Cristo.

You see, Monte Cristo sandwiches aren’t hard to come by in the city – but they are when you want them the way Bennigan’s does them. Deep fried, dusted in powdered sugar, and served with delicious raspberry jelly, it’s the sandwich equivalent of a deep-fried Snickers bar. In the eyes of some, it single-handedly represents all that could be considered wrong with the casual dining industry.
That said, it’s delicious. Absolutely delicious. It is a sandwich without parallel.

My stomach, of course, couldn’t handle it – I only made it through two of the four gigantic slices served to me. I hope to some day return, and perhaps complete the whole thing. I get the feeling, though, that Katie may attempt to bar me from ever going to Bennigan’s again, out of fear that I’ll once again order this golden brown monstrosity.

Flickr: The World From All Angles

As part of my catch-up process after returning home last night, I’ve been trying to find relevant content today – mostly blog posts, but also some trekking around on Flickr.

As Buzz noted, there’s a number of highly intriguing real world collisions in Flickr space. Besides the discovery of my arty black and white Apple campus shot being a virtual reverse angle of Mike Smochko’s shot from the place I was shooting, I’ve discovered yet another one, literally moments apart. My quick crowd shot caught D’Arcy Norman almost head on. Amusingly enough, while browsing his photos, I found myself similarly snapped, caught checking my camera.

Now, I love coincidences like this – not only because they are slightly strange and a bit funny, but because they represent something new technologically. A few years ago, these sorts of things were longshots at best – often requiring the same people to be on the same specific group or bulletin board, which for large events is a near-nil proposition. But now, thanks to Flickr and its lovely tagging feature, I can quickly go through an enormous amount of content, filtering down to just the right photos and in this case, lucking out twice for coincidental photos. Had we all still been posting photos to our own Gallery installs, what are the odds I would’ve ever seen either of the above photos?

I can only hope that Flickr continues to grow in user base and picture quantity; that the cost of good quality cameras and cameraphones decreases, as well as the cost of picture messaging; and that people will continue to be unable to resist the urge to take photos of damn near everything. Finding coincidences like this is damn good times.

Smell Like This

New York is a city of sensory experiences – sight, touch, taste, sound, and particularly smell. I’ve grown to simultaneously love and hate the city for its smells; loving the delicious (the Greek bakeries in Astoria, the various shishkabob carts, the flowers and trees of the Upper East Side) and hating the ridiculous (the disgusting odor in the 51st St. subway underpass from the downtown 6 to the E/V; anything that smells like urine).

Last week, while at work, I started to notice a very faint but familiar scent. I have become used to strange smells near my desk, as there’s a vent above it which is constantly blowing crap into me with smells ranging from “barbecue” to “gasoline”. However, this was a new one – cherry (and I use the term “cherry” only very loosely) scented urinal cake. For those who don’t use urinals, this may be a foreign smell, but in brief: nice in a 5 second dose once a week, not nice for prolonged exposure.

I compared olifactory notes with other co-workers, and I seemed to have been the only one who noticed it. This only increased the annoyance level of the smell, because it made me wondering if my nose was on some sort of hallucinatory drug.

Today, however, as I was working and going to throw something out, I actually looked down into my trash can and noticed a very pink mini-gumball sized pellet. It looks like a piece of urinal cake. I looked through the transparent trashbag – there were more underneath, near the other trashbags. (Our janitorial staff likes to load up multiple trashbags at once to save time later.) I leaned down to take a small whiff. Sure enough, my nostrils were assaulted with the scent of fake cherry.

So now I knew the source. But why was I the only one smelling it? I went to another trash can nearby – sure enough, more pink pellets. And then it occured to me – there are three trashcans in immediate proximity to my desk. More than anyone else in the room. I’m not hallucinating, I’m just getting triple the dosage level of sanitation.

I do the only thing I know how to do when faced with bizarre and surreal working conditions: complain. I tell our administration. I tell my co-workers. Everyone else suddenly notices that hey, the room *does* smell like a urinal cake. Questions are asked as to what the hell our janitorial staff is thinking. I start to consolidate the pellets near my desk into one trash can instead of two – this backfires, however, as it exposes many more pellets to the air as I remove a trash bag.

Meanwhile, in a part of my body disconnected from most of this affair, my stomach decided it was lunch time, and insisted I get a wrap from the cafeteria. I oblige it, and then – without much thought – plop back down at my desk to eat the tasty wrap.

Sometime after I finish ingesting, my nose starts communicating with my stomach, telling it the story of the past few hours in much of the same way I’m retelling it to you now. My stomach decides it would be fun to mix the smell with the digestion process.

I immediately get sick to my stomach. I leave work an hour early, come home, crash out for a two hour nap, and completely fuck up my sense of time.

Long story short: Urinal cakes have now joined the list of smells I cannot stand.


One of the most frequent questions I get relating to my blog comes in one of the following forms:

– What’s “vj army”?
– What’s “vuh-jarmy?”
– Where did you come up with “vjarmy”?
– What’s “vjarmy” mean?
– Is your site about an army of [Viewtiful Joe](

I figure it’s about time to reveal the “whole story” of the domain.

First things first: If you haven’t heard by now, I play a little game called Beatmania IIDX (that’s “two dee-echs”). IIDX is a “dj simulation game”, with some connections to DDR (both games are made by Konami). I’ll save the verbose descriptions of the game for another time, but one of the key reasons I play is the tremendously nice music. All the songs are around two minutes each, and the genres tend electronic (trance, techno, two-step) but also run eclectic (piano ballad, french bossa) and occasionally imaginary (cuddlecore, forktronica, techno chop). All the music also has an accompanying music video.

Having listened to a number of the soundtracks long before I started playing the game, I found songs I found pleasing and started listening to them like crazy. One of these songs was, of course, “VJ Army” by good-cool. The song was interesting to me because it crammed four genres (and tempos) into one song: drum’n’bass, techno, trance, and two-step. The genre for VJ Army is listed in-game as “ALL MIX”, due to the inability to confine it to one of the four genres. Even the video had four distinct portions, each done by a different resident VJ that works at Konami.

(I should note, a “VJ” is a video jockey – someone who does to video what a DJ does to music.)

If you’re wondering what VJ Army sounds like, you can listen to the mp3 from the Beatmania IIDX 6th Style Original Soundtrack.

When I was making the move away from my csoft account back in 2003, I had to start thinking about domain names and where I wanted my blog to be permenantly lodged. The domain name I had named my site after for a few years – – was taken in 1998 as a personalized page for a baby girl. So I was a little stuck for ideas, and the IIDX bug had me looking at song titles, wondering what would be apt.

It didn’t take long for the connotation to hit me like a ton of bricks with VJ Army and my site. Like the song, I have a hard time being confined to one genre or topic. Believe me, I’ve tried – it’s just too hard not to randomly jump from topic to topic to topic.

So that’s the story – VJ Army is an ALL MIX of music styles I enjoy, and my blog is an ALL MIX of my life. (cue fanfare)

As for the “Primary Vivid Weblog” thing – also a point of inquiry – it’s also a IIDX holdover. The game, like most Japanese games that tap into western culture, has a fair amount of Engrish. One of the games had the subtitle “The Primary Vivid IIDX”, and something about the phrase stuck.

And regarding the [Beatmania IIDX score site I run]( having the same name as the domain – that’s just a lucky coincidence that the name of the domain fit in so well with the ideals of the score site.

Any more questions?