(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

WHEN I am asked to speak up about an unfairness that I feel rather strongly about, I usually do. When I am asked to speak up about an unfairness that has been laid at the foot of a person that I admire and respect, I do not only speak up. I tend to raise my voice and wave my arms around a bit! So sit down and listen up! A friend of mine has been wronged and I am a little bit bothered about it.

As some of my readers know, I was greatly inspired by another online journalist to finally produce my own online journal. The journalist that I refer to is named Yen. Her site [was] at www.nostalgicthoughts.com. Before I even started my site I had recommended Yen’s site to some of you. I told you of the professional quality of her writings, page layouts, and graphics. Over a period of several months, she and I exchanged several friendly emails. Then, with Yen’s promise to be my first reader, I finally presented this journal to the world while on vacation at Christmas time 2000.

Okay. Let me cut to the chase.

NOT too long ago, Yen sent an email to me and asked if I would take a look at a certain woman’s website. She told me that the woman stole her site design and even copied some of her writing word for word! Sure enough! There it was! Someone stole Yen’s site, put a different coat of paint on it and said to the world, “Look what I made!” What an oyster! (Yes, honey, you get the oyster of the month award! Congratulations!) I do not have enough respect for this girl to put a link to her site in this article. I think that Yen did a very nice job in her journal entry on this issue. In her article she asked others to speak up about copyright infringement.

Now take a step back because here is where the arm waving begins! Let me talk to you about copyright infringement for a bit.

FIRST, a quick definition from Webster’s Dictionary is in order. COPYRIGHT : “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish and sell the MATTER and FORM of a literary, musical, or artistic work.”

A “copyright” is the sole right of the creator of such a work to do as they wish with their work. They have the EXCLUSIVE right to reproduce their work. They have the EXCLUSIVE right to publish their work. They have the EXCLUSIVE right to sell their work. It is THEIRS. They have the RIGHT to COPY their work in whatever way they wish for whatever purposes they wish. And exclusive means that NO ONE else has the right to copy their work without their permission.

So what does Webster’s definition mean when it speaks of “the MATTER and FORM” of a person’s work? Well, the MATTER would be the basic “guts” of the work. The words of a literary work. The musical notes, melodies, etc. of a musical work. The individual aspects of an artistic work. The FORM is the structure and appearance of the work. The layout of a literary work. The way that notes, melodies, etc. are combined and also the way they are printed on paper. The overall design of an artistic work.

MATTER and FORM mean substance. I was once told that as soon as I put my thoughts onto paper and gave substance to those thoughts, I had the sole copyright to those words. Once someone takes their intangible thoughts and creative ideas and makes them tangible in some type of form that can be reproduced, published, or sold, they have the copyright on their creation. (I found a very good article on this at whatiscopyright.org.)

HOW does this apply to someone’s website? Well, let me ask this. What are the pieces that make up a website? Usually there is some kind of text on a web page that someone wrote. So there is definitely literary work involved. Usually there is artistic work involved in the form of graphics, page layout, photographs, color schemes, etc. These things are the “guts”, the MATTER of a website. But what is it that puts it all together and gives it structure and FORM? Well this would definitely be HTML, “Hyper Text Markup Language,” and possibly several other programming languages such as JavaScript. This HTML is a tangible thing. You can see it. You can print it out. The “tags” are arranged in such a way to give the designer the look and functionality that he or she has designed. The tags are combined and organized in such a way to give structure to the content of the web page, just as the notes on the score of a musical composition give structure and uniqueness to a symphony. It is an artistic and literary work combined. And the creator of a “web symphony” has exclusive rights to their masterpiece just as surely as Vivaldi had the exclusive rights to the “Four Seasons” (Oooo! My favorite!) when he gave expression to its beautiful movements on his piano and wrote the notes down on paper.

Now, it takes time to design a website and code the HTML, just as it takes time to create any other work of art. And for we “sickos” who do all of our coding in Notepad (That’s right, honey! Real men use Notepad!), it sometimes takes a considerable amount of time to hammer things out, make the material pliable, pound, scrape, chisel and tweak to get just the look we want. Though it has not happened to me (that I know of), to see your hard work being claimed by someone else as their own is something that would really get you mad! To see your website design on someone else’s site would really get you peeved! A cheap coat of paint cannot hide what is really underneath! An artist knows his own work well enough to see right through such a cover up.

YOU KNOW, the whole issue of copyright is an ethical issue of respect for another person and their work. What is yours is yours and what is mine is mine. If I give you permission to use something that I have created, fine. But until then keep your grubby paws off my stuff, man! Have some respect. The Internet should not be a free for all. You cannot just grab and take whatever you want. Have some ethics.

Why do we sometimes forget our ethics when we log onto the Internet? We hide behind our user ids and screen names. We shout insults at each other in chat rooms. We scream in capital letters in our emails. My how brave we are sitting on our soft behinds in front of our monitors with a loaded keyboard! We take advantage of the vastness of the Internet and misuse our anonymity. The Internet provides us with so many ways and opportunities to communicate, learn, grow and establish friendships with people that we would have never met without the aid of the web. We take that which should enrich our lives and draw us closer together and misuse it in our selfishness and inconsideration. I have heard it said that the more that technology advances, the more isolated we become as people. Some blame technology for this. I rather blame the innate selfishness of the human race for this. The ever increasing technological advances just make it easier to express our lack of love for one another on a broader scale. It is not the technology. It is the humans abusing the technology. We take something that is good, use it for our own selfish purposes while disregarding others and becoming less human in the process. It is an issue of love. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Ah! But who is my neighbor? On the Internet there are so many “neighbors” just a click away. My how the world is shrinking! A woman in California is neighbor to a woman in Japan. A guy in New Jersey is neighbor to them both. Let’s have some ethics. Let’s have some love. Lets’ have some respect for each other as artists, as web designers, as humans.

At this point, several people have written articles in response to Yen’s request. This is my attempt to shed some light on the issue of copyright infringement and, more importantly, to stick up for a friend. I checked the other person’s site just before posting this and noticed that she has made only a few minor changes to it. But the majority of her site still looks the same as Yen’s. I hope that she will reconsider her initial response to Yen’s request that she change her site and make noticeable changes. I am sure she will gain more respect, and perhaps even some readers, if she does.



(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

Q. “Where does the hambooger go to dance?” (Actual five year old pronunciation)

A. “The meat ball!”
Q. “Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road?”

A. “Because he didn’t have the guts!”
Q. “What do you have if you have 80 oranges in one hand and 80 oranges in the other hand?”

A. “You have BIG hands!”

SO begins an extended Easter visit with H and M.

This time Friend J accompanied me on the trip to Harrisburg to pick up the girls. I am telling you, I know the road between here and there so well that I could probably drive it blindfolded! But Friend J wouldn’t allow me to do that, he being a sissy and all. (Boy, if he ever starts an online journal, I am in serious trouble!) We did have a fun time with H and M on the way home. For quite a while they were quite excited and wound up especially since Friend J was there. Kids usually act that way when they see a clown. (Okay, man, I’ll stop! I was only kidding… Bozo…)

SINCE this is supposed to be a journal, do you want to hear the everyday stuff? I was off from work on Friday. I showered. I was off on Saturday. I didn’t shower. Last Wednesday I got a pimple. By Friday there were a flock of them on my forehead, proof that I am a teenager trapped in a man’s body. I finally found two old Aerosmith CDs that I have been trying to get my hands on without paying full price through my nose at the record store in the mall. There is a used CD store near my Sister C’s house that I just discovered. So much for the children’s college fund! Let’s see. What other everyday stuff should I tell you? Oh. I made an attempt to purchase a few new shirts for S. How was I to know that a ladies small is huge for a 14-year-old! Excuse me! My fashion deficiency is showing again!

WHILE I am writing this, H and M are playing with the neighbor’s kids in the back yard. M ran in at one point, yelling, “I’ll be right back. I’m going to be quick as a cookie!” Quick as a cookie, huh? Just exactly how quick is a cookie? I guess, compared with a cake, a cookie is relatively quick! Maybe this is exactly the point that Einstein started at when he was just a five year old little girl. Err… Well, you know what I mean.

Before H and M came this time, I made sure that I had lots of Band-Aids on hand. (No, not actually not on my hand! Do I have to explain everything?) I got a box of Band-Aids that have different animal markings on them: zebra stripes, leopard spots, tiger spots, etc. So far, in just three days, H fell and scraped both knees and an elbow. The zebra stripes are covering those. M cut her finger on a box. The leopard spots took care of that three times over now. While we were in the car today, I noticed a big tiger striped Band-Aid on M’s thigh. I asked, “M, what did you do to your leg?” She said, “I hurt it. But it wasn’t bleeding or anything.” “Oh! So you don’t have a boo-boo on your leg. It’s an excuse on your leg!” It’s amazing how much more serious the injuries become when cool looking Band-Aids are on hand! It’s a relative thing again. (I’m catching on to that Einstein guy!)

MORE everyday stuff? Well, a few of us at work have been dipping into a little philosophy a la Forrest Gump. “Stupid is as stupid does.” Or the equivalent “Oyster is as oyster does.” How about the deeply philosophical “Momma always said that life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Momma, why didn’t you pinch some of those chocolates so that I would have known which ones to avoid? Yes, you are right. You did pinch and I ate the yucky ones anyway. “Stupid is as stupid does!”

Well, I suppose that is enough everyday stuff for one day. Since H and M are with me for the next week, I am sure that plenty of everyday stuff will happen. So stay tuned. I’ll write some more soon… relatively speaking.



(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

Come. Run away with me! Did you feel that? That spring breeze carried June within its folds. I felt its warmth as your hair strayed across your cheek. I have a new CD in my car. Come. Let’s run away; live the next hour as if our lives were a movie. I can dance if it’s a movie. Let’s just drive, let the music play. It will be our soundtrack. Life is always better in the movies. Come on; don’t peer at me over the top of your sunglasses. It makes me think that you don’t think I’m serious. Have you noticed that the songbirds have returned? I think their singing is what really causes the trees to grow leaves again. You’re peering at me again! Did you notice the daffodils and crocuses blooming? I think the magnolias will bloom soon.

“She checks out Mozart while she does tae-bo, reminds me that there’s room to grow, hey, hey.”

Yeah, I heard that in a song today. I don’t know if you would like their music. Lyrics are good though. Mozart is okay. However, I prefer Vivaldi. “Hey, hey.” Ready to go? You just peered again. Why do you do that? I think it is supposed to rain for the rest of the week. Me? Yes, I am feeling better than I was a year ago. I am sorry that it had to happen to you too. It sucks when someone cheats on you, huh? Makes you want to run away even more. Well, at least it makes me want to. But I am doing better. I don’t know if I believe in self-esteem. That’s probably because mine has been shot down and trampled on. The cheating will do that. But I am doing better. Maybe it’s just the effect of the songbirds. Maybe it’s the new shirt I’m wearing. Maybe it’s you. I am doing better. I had a funny feeling this morning. I felt like I was starting to like who I am. Maybe we shouldn’t run away. I think I’d better just stay here now. Movies are usually overrated anyway. Oh, I like these lines. Turn it up a little.

“And tell me, did Venus blow your mind? Was it everything you wanted to find? And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?”

I don’t know. She told me once that she missed having tea together. I think she prefers coffee anyway. What are those bushes with the yellow flowers? I always forget what they are called. No, not honeysuckles! Are those gnats already? It must be your cheap perfume. Oh, don’t peer at me again! It was just a joke! Look at the robin over there. It was just a joke. Stop being mad. They say the robins are a true sign of spring around here. They remind me of Pop. He used to tell this corny joke about seeing the first “robbin'” of spring. “Right across at the gas station. These two guys with masks…” Funny, I thought I saw him today.

“With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey. She acts like summer and walks like rain. Reminds me that there’s time to change, hey, hey.”

No, she wouldn’t admit it if she did miss me. That’s okay. I’m doing better. You like the song, huh? I thought you would. Is that shirt new? You look like spring. Maybe it’s your eyes. I like it when you peer over your glasses when I talk about your eyes. Yes, I suppose we should. It’s a shame to go inside on such a wonderful day. Makes one feel like running away. If only the movies weren’t so damn overrated! The song is ending anyway. But we can always dance. We can always dance.

(Song lyrics quoted are from “Drops of Jupiter” by Train.)



(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

DRIVING is good thinking time. Yes, I know that “good thinking” is usually a good idea while one is driving. And thinking “good thoughts” is always a good idea, while driving or otherwise. But it seems that I have some great thinking sessions while I am driving. This is especially true when I make the long monthly trips to see H and M. The only drawback is that I don’t have a word processor in my car so that I can type out my thoughts while I am driving. (Let all other motorists breathe a sigh of relief!) So many ideas and plans share my ride for several miles and then get bumped out by incoming ideas and plans. Between my home and Harrisburg, PA there must be so many grand ideas lying along the highway! I can just picture a worker on one of those highway clean-up crews shuffling along in his bright orange safety vest, kicking one of my ideas around with a tar-stained boot, picking it up and saying, “Hmph! Whatever it is, it sure looks broke now!” Then, by the time I get home, I am either too tired to write, or my eyes are nearly bleeding from the headlights of four hours worth of opposing traffic, or the only ideas left in my mind are too poor to write about.

I HAVE noticed that the types of thoughts I think while driving sometimes depend on where I am driving and where I am going. Far too often while driving the crowded New Jersey highways on my way to work my thoughts are on death. All it takes is one traffic report of an accident and the Grim Reaper sits up in my back seat. His long bony fingers stir my imagination until my mind is full of crash scenes, the highway is full of blood above the axles of my car, and somewhere among this stampede of motorists is my assassin waiting his opportunity to get me under his wheels. Just last week there was a bad accident on Route 80 in which a few people died. The traffic report on the radio said that cars were backed up for over 20 miles. It was funny how some of us at work talked more about how badly the traffic was delayed and how some had to make a major detour in order to get to work than we did about the fact that a few more of us breathed our last during New Jersey rush hour.


When I set out to pick up H and M in Harrisburg each month, I usually have some pleasantly optimistic thoughts. I think of having fun with the girls for the weekend. I think of seeing their happy faces as they bounce out of their mom’s car with shouts of “Daddy! Daddy!” That is worth a two hour drive any day! Life seems a little less burdensome on the way to see my girls. My thoughts flow more freely during those drives. I tend to sing more, sometimes singing hymns from an old Baptist hymnal that I keep in the car, sometimes singing at the top of my lungs to something good on the radio. I tend to pray more when I make these trips. Of course, I always pray while driving to work in New Jersey. Only a fool would drive our highways between 7 and 9 AM and not pray while doing so! But on the way to Harrisburg to pick up my little ones, I tend to pray more serious and thankful prayers. I guess it is easier to pray when you are not cursing at people who cut you off during rush hour.

OFTEN during these trips I think of old friends that, for one reason or another, I have not had contact with for a while now. It seems that a guy not only loses a wife when he goes through a divorce, but he loses some friends too. Maybe it is my own fault for one reason or another. Maybe it is just that people change and it is normal for one’s set of friends to change. Maybe it is just coincidence. All I know is that a lot of people that I knew going into this divorce are not here now. I think of some of these people when I am driving. I think that I should dig up their phone numbers and give them a call. About a month ago I even did this. I found my old address book, dug out an old friend’s number, heard his voice on the answering machine and left a message in which I was nearly begging him to please call me back. I’m still waiting.

SOMETIMES my thoughts are all over the place as I am driving. I think of this journal and how I have not written much lately. What shall I tell everyone? Should I use the single-father-run-over-by-three-teenagers excuse again? Or should I go for something with a little pizzazz, like the best-looking-American-man-abducted-by-aliens excuse? Often thoughts of programming fill my mind while driving. I think of code and piece together functions in my head that no one else in the whole world would even care about, except for Friend J and maybe a handful of other guys. These are guys like us who think nothing of losing sleep, talking to themselves, drinking bad coffee, and staring into the glare of a computer monitor until their eyeballs bleed. The programming thoughts are the ones that always seem to jump out of the car though. Half way home I can have the world’s most intricate software all figured out in my head. But wouldn’t you know it? I always start second-guessing my ideas. Then I start reworking the whole thing until it ends up as one big mess that does not work. And then I think “My goodness! Am I becoming a business analyst instead of a programmer??” Somebody shoot me!


Often, after taking H and M home, my thoughts will swerve into the “danger zone” where some things just cannot be figured out. These things usually have to do with X.2 and the whole train wreck that happened between us. Usually these kinds of thoughts will gather, twist and swirl with increasing force until I am trapped in their vortex, violently pulled by love at one moment, anger at the next. But, thankfully, just when I am about to be sucked down into the very bowels of that whirlwind, a different thought will come galloping along to rescue me and carry me back to where the sky is clear and the air is calm. It is then that I get a better perspective on things and I realize how much I have grown in the past four years. I realize, even if I do not completely feel it, that God does work all things together for good for those who love Him. I realize that divorce and death are not the same, even though they may feel like they are. It is at this point that my determination to achieve world domination is renewed and I step on the gas to get home.

MOST people know that I drive fast. Maybe this is the reason why. I drive at the speed of thought. Yeah, I know that can be turned around to say that I think pretty slowly then! I can hear Friend J saying it already! But how else am I going to end this article?? I have to have something to tie it all together. Some kind of philosophical statement that leaves you thinking that there was some deeper meaning to all of it. There has to be a moral to the story. Right? Just something to make it a nice neat package that makes sense in the end. Ah! But we are talking about MY thoughts! There is no making sense of it all! All you can do is get in the car and come along for the ride! Just be sure to buckle up!