There Is No Cat

Groovy '60s Sounds from the Land of Smile!

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Domain Registry of America are scum sucking leeches

If you're looking for a company to register a domain through, you would do well to avoid an outfit called Domain Registry of America. I just got a call from a client I had put a web site together for last year. She makes wonderful wedding cakes, and we had worked out a deal with her last year where I built her a small web site using a free hosting deal she had through and she gave us a significant discount on our wedding cake. Well, the bastards at Domain Registry of America, who seem to specialize in preying on the unsuspecting and unknowing, had sent my client mail that looked like a bill telling her that she needed to renew her domain name. What they didn't tell her was that they weren't her original registrar and that if she registered through them, she wouldn't get the benefits she got from her previous registrar, meaning they didn't mention that her web site would stop working because she was no longer registered through I've received any number of paper mailings from these pricks over the years for the domains I own, and they always go straight into the trash. But for someone who doesn't know better, I'm sure their alarming notice gets attention. My client described what they did as fraud, and having read their notices in the past, I can't disagree. Looks like others have had the same experience, and even won a court case against them for domain slamming like this. In my opinion, they are low-life scum sucking leeches who will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

Posted at 8:42 PM
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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Radio cure

Back in 1995, the owner of an obscure record company in the U.K. posted a notice to that he was seeking recordings of the mysterious shortwave "numbers stations", long rumored to be broadcasting coded messages to spies around the world. By the time the project was actually released in 1997, what was originally contemplated as a single CD had expanded to a four CD set with accompanying 80 page booklet about the numbers station phenomenon known as The Conet Project. The recording was released in a limited edition, and sold out surprisingly quickly. I found my copy used at Other Music in lower Manhattan. It makes for surprisingly spellbinding listening. If you've heard the Wilco album "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", the woman's voice repeating the album title in one of the songs is taken from a numbers station broadcast. The Conet Project CD set is legendary, much sought after, and has gone in and out of print a few times over the years.

Except on the net, of course.

While perusing The Internet Archive's list of net labels whose music they host and distribute, I noticed that one of the labels was Irdial Disc, the record company that released The Conet Project. You can download the entire four CD set in MP3 format.

You can find out a lot more about numbers stations at Chris Smolinski's Spy Numbers site. My friend David Goren also did a great radio piece for National Public Radio's All Things Considered about the phenomenon back in 2001 that you can listen to online.

Another oddball release on Irdial that came out not long after The Conet Project was a two CD set of recordings of "natural radio", electromagnetic traces of changes in the Earth's magnetic field. The sounds have names like whistlers and tweeks, and can only be heard on specialized equipment at the VLF (very low frequency) range at some remove from power lines, which tend to drown them out with their own noises. This CD set, Electric Enigma: The VLF Recordings of Stephen P. McGreevy, is a useful way to experience this phenomenon for those of us who don't have a way of getting more than a couple of miles away from the nearest powerline. You can download the two CD set from, again in MP3 format.

There's more information about natural radio on the site of the Longwave Club of America. And for those of you in the U.K., BBC Radio 4 is airing a program on May 31 called "Songs of the Sky" which explores the Aurora Borealis and includes a segment on the aurora's impact on natural radio. Since aurora are a visible manifestation of changes in the Earth's magnetic field, it makes sense that there would be some relationship between them and natural radio.

Posted at 10:28 PM
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Thursday, May 13, 2004

Now all they need is a library again

I love this. The Middletown Public Library, the main branch of which is a block from my house (or at least it will be again when the reconstruction there finishes) has a blog. I know there have been some librarians very active in the blogosphere, but for some reason, I didn't expect to find a library blog quite so close to home.

Posted at 6:45 PM
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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Family Matters

It's been a while since I posted anything on my other blog, Geneablogy, which tracks my research into my family history. I've been busy since we bought the house and haven't had as much time for research as I once did, but I haven't completely forgotten it. I broke through a brick wall on my father's mother's side of the family, and I've posted about it. So if you're a member of my family who has gotten out of the habit of looking over there because I hadn't posted since last September, go have a look; there's a new post. I don't think anyone else would be interested, but I know my family members tend to read this site regularly.

Posted at 6:31 PM
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First I'll shoot up and then it's your turn

A little over a year ago, I was musing about an old compilation of music videos put out by New Zealand record label Flying Nun and how I would love to see a DVD compilation of Nunvideos. So I went to the Flying Nun site to tell them about these amazing new kind of shiny discs that they could use to cram a whole truckload of videos on to, make it region free so anyone in the world could watch it, and sell them by the carton. I know they got the message, because on their customer contact and FAQ page, they also had something about how Chris Knox is willing to record custom versions of his classic song "Not Given Lightly" for weddings, and I enquired about that in the same message and wound up trading a couple of DVDs to Chris for one of those custom versions for our nuptuals.


I'm not claiming that I had any impact on this, or that the fine fine folks at Flying Nun hadn't somehow taken note of these wacky DVD thingys before I mentioned the possibility of dumping a metric ton of videos on an unsuspecting public. In fact, I'm sure I had nothing to do with the fact that Flying Nun last week released their first DVD, entitled Very Short Films, containing 41 videos dating back to the earliest days of the label. A number of them are on that old VHS tape of mine, so I know them, and some of them are quite creative. I think my favorite was "Gascrankinstation" by the Headless Chickens, although Tall Dwarfs' "Nothing's Gonna Happen" gives it a run for the money. There are some notable omissions, though, like Tall Dwarfs' "Turning Brown and Torn in Two", which was also incredible.

They didn't take me up on the idea of making it NTSC compatible as well, but I'm pretty sure I can play PAL DVDs on our computer, if not on our DVD player and TV. If you can do the same and you're interested, Smoke CDs in NZ has the DVD on sale.

Posted at 12:10 AM
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Friday, May 7, 2004

Weekends in my La-Z-Boy, football, fried chicken and beer

Watching one of the home improvement shows on TLC, there was an ad for La-Z-Boy and their new line of furniture and accessories designed by Todd Oldham. When I saw it, I figured it must be an ad for Target, who do the whole modern design thing better than any other mass marketer, and for whom Oldham did some designs a couple of years ago. But no, it was La-Z-Boy. According to this article in Business Week, the company is trying to shed its stodgy image and sell some furniture to twenty-somethings. One thing that I took particular note of was that Oldham's line for La-Z-Boy is actually less expensive than their normal lines. And I liked some of the rugs and lamps they showed in the commercial. So I have hopes that maybe, unlike the majorly cool and majorly expensive rugs at Design Within Reach that I lust after, just maybe we can actually afford a good sized area rug for the family room. I'd like to see what they offer, but unfortunately the La-Z-Boy web site and their special subsite devoted to Oldham's designs gives me nothing but database errors this evening. Fortunately, Oldham's own web site has some tantalizing photos of the furniture part of the line, as does this furniture store in Ohio.

Posted at 8:48 PM
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Sunday, May 2, 2004

The only cubist lamp post in the world

There's a neat article in today's New York Times about 20th century architecture in Prague, particularly the odd cubist architecture that flourished just before World War I. I remember being in Prague in 1995 and seeing the cubist lamp post that's pictured at the top of the page. Unfortunately, when I was there, it was surrounded by scaffolding for refurbishing and was difficult to really appreciate. But I could see the top of it from the glass wall at the back of the Bata shoe store on Wenceslaus Square. There were a bunch of cubist buildings sprinkled here and there throughout the areas of the city.

One store that's mentioned in the article is Modernista, which sells original pieces from the cubist and mid-century modern eras, as well as reproductions. They've got a neat web site where they display their offerings. When I win the lottery, I would love to buy some of their stuff.

I don't think I've seen any of this stuff in my trawlings through modern design web sites here in the U.S. But I think that Czech modernism was a defining influence in my interest in such design, oddly enough, through the medium of the CBS Children's Film Festival, which used to air a ton of Czechoslovakian films. I honestly don't remember much about those films, but I do remember the presence of modern architecture and design in some of them; whenever I think of that series, I think of those old Czech films and the clean lines of the buildings and sets. Yeah, okay, I'm weird, so what....

Posted at 7:57 PM
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Lighting the way

Laura and I went out to Sandy Hook after work on Friday to take advantage of the great light you get at the end of the day. I want to put some photographs of beach scenes and lighthouses and stuff in our family room, and the Sandy Hook lighthouse is close by and quite historic.

Sandy Hook lighthouse

I think I got the photo I wanted, finally. I've been out there a couple of times since I got my Digital Rebel back in October, but hadn't quite captured what I wanted with the light and everything. This one did.

I got some other neat shots, at least one of which will probably also hang somewhere in the house. There was a large group of Canadian Geese wandering around an open field on the grounds of Fort Hancock out by the lighthouse. I figured I would see how close I could get to them with my telephoto zoom. The answer was "not very". I got a couple of shots of them, but nothing terribly close, before they started to fly away. This photograph of them starting to scatter falls under the heading of "happy accident". Some people would spend hours in Photoshop running filters to create this shot from a decent, in-focus shot. But this is how it came out of the camera for me, thanks to a shutter speed of 1/20 of a second, a zoom set at 200 mm, and me moving. I quite like the effect. The frame was added later, of course, the product of spending hours in Photoshop running filters.

blurred shot of Canadian Geese taking off in flight

There are a few other photos over on my photo site.

Posted at 1:15 AM
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This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi. (E-mail address removed due to virus proliferation.)

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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