Rachel's Cedar Point Mini Ride Review
Wednesday, Jul 02, 2003
[Lou asked about the rides, since he's going to cedar Point this weekend. Rachel wrote up this synopsis, in temporary lieu of our forthcoming trip report, for his enjoyment and everyone else's. -Kev]

So the dragster wasn't up for our trip. We were both disappointed and relieved. Every time we looked at the coaster it brought new chills. They have done a great job with the theme though.

In any case -- I'm hoping to do some rating of the coaster on my site (their rating system is bad, they have the Millennium Force ranked a 5 for thrill, as well as the Wild Cat (a small coaster great for kids). However I don't think it will be done before Lou goes -- so here are a couple things we learned while at Cedar Point.

  1. Stay in a Cedar Point Resort. You get to enter about an hour early, they open two rides and we already had the Raptor and Millennium Force done and were in line for something else before 10 when the park opened.
  2. Get in line for your Freeway pass early. Freeway passes let you skip to the front of the line on two rides. But don't wait, we were confused about how they explained it; apparently they only give away about 50 passes for each hour of the day. They start handing them out at about 11 o'clock and once they are gone, they are gone.
  3. Go on the Millennium Force early, everything else seems like cake after that (except the dragster) and you don't realize you are scared till the ride starts.
  4. When you go on the Iron Dragon, close your eyes -- the ride gets so much better when you do that. Especially at the end of the ride.
  5. If you are Kevin and I, don't assume just cause no one else got too wet on that ride, that you won't. YOU WILL!!! At least if you are Kevin and I! (However it was okay cause we were the coolest people in line for the Mantis. We heard about an hour and a half of complaining about the heat while we just worked on drying off!)
  6. Go on a Monday (especially one where they are calling for thunderstorms), the park isn't empty, but it's much better.
  7. When riding the Millennium Force wear your sunglasses! The wind goes so fast it's very hard to keep your eyes open on this ride, but its cool. The sunglasses get a little vibration while you are riding, but we didn't see anyone loose them and I enjoyed the ride much more with them.
  8. I think that the Up side ride on the Power Tower is better than the Down side, but we didn't ride the down side cause we felt the up had best of both worlds. Shoots you up into the air and then drops as opposed to just raising you up and then dropping you.

We went on the Millennium Force twice. It was easily our favorite ride. Though as we got in the car there tended to be a lot of cursing at each other and telling Kevin we hate him for getting us on the ride (even Kevin was cursing himself). My second favorite was the Wicked Twister and then prolly the Raptor and the Mantis. In any case I highly recommend the park. We had a great time, and I'm sure there will be more up about it later, but this will help anyone going this weekend. Have fun!!!!!

Gaia's Birthday Present
Wednesday, Jul 02, 2003
So it's only two days until I turn 30, but nature's present came early. I walked outside tonight at about 9:30 to go see a free showing of Goldmember in the park. Stepping off my porch, I stopped in my tracks. Between one warm evening and the next, the fireflies had come out in force.

From my first visit to Pittsburgh over a year ago, I was clear on the concept that I wasn't in California anymore: Bright sunny 80-degree days are no guarantee against a quick thundershower before sunset. When I came here to live last August, I learned about the cacophonous cicada and their 22 year cycle. Fall introduced me to the colors of which Pennsylvanian nature is capable, followed unusually quickly by Winter's blankets of snow, applied again and again. With the Spring came the rain, lush green grass right outside my window, and an ocean of dandelions. Approaching the end of the full circle, I thought that I knew all of Gaia's gifts to Pittsburg, but stumbling upon thousands of glowstick-green fireflies softly lighting and fading while weaving in front of, behind, and around tombstones in the twilight struck me dumb in a way I suddenly realized I had feared I was becoming incapable of as I enter my fourth decade.

I've often used the cemetery as my emotional soundstage over the last year, whether surreptitiously placing easter eggs on the statues with Rachel, picnicking on the grass, following foot-deep foot-holes in the snow on the way to the bus or striding hom, weaving through the headstones beneath the midnight moon with 'Rest in Peace' blaring in my iPod's earbuds. This felt totally different though. Tonight the graveyard was alive.


It was exactly 20 years ago today that I had last seen the faerie. A half a world away, in a vineyard an hour north of Florence, I was just two days away from my 10th birthday, travelling through Europe with my mom and sister. The fireflies were everywhere around the trees and the vines, flicking on and off, talking to each other, and speaking to me as well. It was a magical night outdoors, eating a fine dinner, feeling the Summer warmth, and walking a path under a waterfall reputed to take a decade off the ambler's age (a completely different prospect to someone not quite ten yet).

As we waited for the tour busses to take us back to reality, I urgently found a jar and caught a few of the fireflies. I was so proud. Mom told me that I could keep them if I wanted to, but I should know that they'd die within a day, and they would never glow again. I let them go just before I climbed the steps onto the motor coach. Mom smiled.


The faerie have changed in the intervening decades, but then so have I. In 1983 I was spastic with youth, and the fireflies reflected this with their fast binary blinks. Somewhere on their abdomen they were flittering their shutters open and closed, sending precise signals through the dusk.

Nature, digitized.

Today's gift was so different that at first I didn't even recognize it. A sine-wave of brightness in the corner of my eye, another floating above my car. I literally rubbed my eyes to clear these errant embers floating senselessly. After one travelled right in front of me, I realized what they were, so different from what I expected. Focusing out beyond the grass and to the headstones beyond I could see hundreds of them, brightening, peaking, and dimming to invisibility, seemingly constant lights drifting between this dimension and another. Seeing headstones literally lit by their passing glow, I thought to myself, 'Buffy can't touch this.'

Reality, smoothed.

I had to share, so I called Rachel to tell her that she was right and the fireflies had indeed come. "Of course, silly!" 'Will they stay? or is it a one-night deal?' "They'll be around all month! It's what they do."

Feeling the magic lift me, I got in my car and drove to the movie, seeing only one or two fireflies the whole way. Apparently the dead get first dibs. Well, them and their neighbors.

Tomorrow I'll see how well the video camera can handle this unique low-light setting. For tonight, I'm cherishing my first birthday present.

Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003
After a whirlwind weekend and nearly 1,000 miles on the road, Rachel and I got back late last night. This post is just an 'I'm alive' ping, and to get "Feast or Famine" Ammy off my back. ("Sure is a lot of beige, Kevin") Pbbth. ;-)

Weekend pictures are coming soon, but first I have school stuff and 390 emails to catch up on.

Anti-Bayesian Spam
Friday, Jun 27, 2003
The damned spammers have a new trick up their sleeve that's been foiling my mail client's smart spam filtering. They insert comment tags throughout their email, between words every few letters, so neither my email client's Bayesian logic nor my own explicit filter for 'viagra' will flag it as spam. I've literally been getting about 40 of these emails sidestepping my email program every day for the last couple weeks. Here's an example.

The two simplest solutions seem to be Apple's updating of mail to filter out comment tags in the html portions of email before running its spam filtering, or switching to an email client like Mailsmith that will let me write my own complex rules using regular expressions and perl, so I could make filters like "If the email has more than 4 comment tags" or "If, when all comment tags are removed, one of these keywords exists."

Option three is just filter out every piece of email that has a comment tag in the first place, only a lot of legitimate email has these tags (for no reason but to help the lazy programmer who didn't bother taking it out, even though no reader should ever see it).

Apple? Are you working on this problem?

Fifteen Miles up the Erie Canal
Thursday, Jun 26, 2003
Rachel and I are heading up to Bloomfield, New York tomorrow (near Rochester) to visit her parents. We'll be hanging out for a few days, maybe helping out in their new restaurant, and generally doing the things there are to do up there, including hiking to the waterfalls, or possibly bike riding along the Erie canal.

Sunday we're heading back south, but jagging right at Lake Erie, staying the night in Sandusky, Ohio, and getting up early Monday morning to take on Cedar Point, home of the tallest (420ft), fastest (120mph) roller coaster on the planet, the Dragster. [or, um, not. still, we won't be hurting, considering the 15 other thrill coasters they have at the park].

I don't know how much I'll be posting this weekend, but I'll try to take pictures. I hope everyone has a great weekend! Beat the heat any way you can!

Talking to Strangers
Wednesday, Jun 25, 2003
In my apartment this morning...

Ring... Ring.... (Actually, that's not true. This is the sound my phone makes.)

Just as it gets to the truly funky part, I get to the phone, carefully unplug it from the charger, check the caller ID (614? where's 614?), and even more carefully press in on the scroll wheel to pick up the call without accidentally scroll-clicking them to voicemail, which I manage to do fully a third of the time. "Hello?"

...pause... "So what kind of cheese do you like?"

It's a man's voice, which tells me almost nothing. I'm bad at recognizing voices over the phone, especially since I've been using the phone markedly less over the past several months, and moreover since my phone has a cruddy speaker, barely better than the loudspeakers on aircraft carriers that make anyone on the PA sound like a cross between God and Roz from Monsters Inc.

In short, I have no idea who I'm talking to, but this is familiar territory.

I immediately reply, "Actually, for the past few days I've been taken with this Amish Butter Cheese." Not only is this absolutely true, (and trust me, the cheese is great, and is remarkable as it's a Jack variant that you don't get tired of. I mean it. Rachel and I could have eaten a whole bar in one go, but we stopped ourselves), as I was saying, not only was this true, but I didn't even go on to elaborate on the Irish White Cheddar we'd found last month, or the Dutch Havarti we'd just broken in to last night, but is already a favorite.

Details such as these are reserved for the closest of friends, or at least people whose names I know... or who read my weblog, I suppose.

The guy paused. I think he thought he had me. Much like Ammy's collect call from love, my mystery telephonic compadre probably thought his opener was the punchline, and didn't expect a rejoinder. I could feel his brainwaves over the phone, thinking: Does this guy really like cheese that much? Is he a freak? ...a beat passes... "I was searching the web this week and I came across your resume. I'm uh, a recruiter for [a fortune 500 company] and we're looking for an interaction designer with a strong participatory design background..."

The funny bits were when he told me he'd wished he'd read my weblog earlier, since then he wouldn't have wasted a phone call on Micah, as he'd have known that Micah just accepted the eBay job. I made a short list in my head of people he might want to talk to, and before I could share it he told me the other people he had already contacted from my program, matching hit for hit. I told him I'm already signed on for Google, and we bantered a bit anyhow, talking about the Edsel, the dot-com bust and the revitalization, etc.

The other funny bit is that it's the fourth recruiter contact I've received in the last two days, after no such attention for the previous month. I've got no interest in anywhere else, as I've found my perfect place, but it's amusing nonetheless. I've considered taking my resume [PDF] down, but I've found it to be useful in a number of occasions having nothing to do with getting myself a job. Call it a formalized extended bio (which reminds me, my bio is terribly out of date. I've got to update that thing...) or call it a template that at least a dozen people I know have used when redesigning their own resumes, but having recruiters call still gives a little tingle, a little 'might have been' window into a parallel universe that I can feel spinning off when I tell them thanks but no thanks.

A few days ago I had this whole epiphany. Actually, it came over the course of several days, in a few quick moments, so I suppose it's more of a stuttered epiphany, if the definition of epiphany can be stretched enough to accommodate that. It's about work, joy, and the circus. I'll try and write about that next time.

Happy Birthday Emily!
Wednesday, Jun 25, 2003
And so the great rush of June and July birthdays begins, matched only by the October/November rush.

Happy Birthday Emily! I hope the day finds you well, and that the coming year is filled with wonder (the good kind)!

Micah @ eBay
Tuesday, Jun 24, 2003
Congrats to my HCI classmate Micah, who today accepted a UI position at eBay, and is wasting no time in flying to Florida on Thursday to get to know his users at eBay Live: Orlando!
Friday, Jun 20, 2003
I'm a silly muggle to think that I could show up at Barnes & Noble at midnight and join 20 or so other freaks in getting Book 5 the minute it comes out.

An hour and 300 people later, we found that without the magic preorder slip, all we could get was something from their fine Starbucks store, so now I'm a Venti Caramel Macchiato happier. Oh yeah, and my Amazon preorder should arrive tomorrow anyhow. :-)

I forgot how to Surf...
Friday, Jun 20, 2003
About 90% of my web reading nowadays spawns from the 45 RSS feeds that I follow, the articles they point to, and the sites linked from within those articles. Now when I finish reading them, I'm almost at a loss as to where to surf next.

I've forgotten how to surf. I remember when it wasn't about finding a particular piece of information, but just about seeing what's out there. So much of how I surf finds me the latest memes, what everyone else is talking about, that I've lost most of my ability to just go out and hunt for interesting things... How do you surf? Why? What are your daily habits?


Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
I've been blogging at since 1998.
I can be reached at .

I also have a resume.


I'm co-founder in
a fantastic startup fulfilling the promise of the Internet of Things.

The Imp is a computer and wi-fi connection smaller and cheaper than a memory card.

Find out more.

We're also hiring.


I post most frequently on Twitter as @kfury and on Google Plus.


I've led design at Mozilla Labs, designed Gmail 1.0, Google Reader 2.0, FriendFeed, and a few special projects at Facebook.

©2012 Kevin Fox