November 28, 2004

Dear Wells Fargo,

As a web designer, I understand the cost and frustration that goes into supporting the numerous web browsers out in the field. I understand that as a business, Wells Fargo needs to draw the line at some point regarding browser compatibility, lest you blow your entire web budget trying to support an ancient web browser used by 0.1 percent of your online audience.

However, it is with a heavy heart that I contact you today, regarding the announcement that my favorite web browser will no longer be supported by your service. Today I received a message from the Wells Fargo website that my browser will soon be retired from your secure service, and to continue my online banking uninterrupted I will need to “download a more recent, supported version of [my] favorite browser.”

“What browser are you using?” you may ask. Certainly I must be using an ancient or horribly archaic web browser, to have your robust system recommend that I upgrade for “security reasons.” I regret to inform you that my “favorite” web browser is a great program named Opera, and I am currently using version 7.54. This version was released mere months ago, and it is the most recent version of Opera available. One of the most beautiful things about Opera is its platform independency; if a website executes correctly in Opera for Windows, you can rest assured that it works on the Macintosh and Linux platforms as well. Opera is available as a free download at

Now, I must give Wells Fargo props where props are due. The inclusion of Safari in your list of recommended browsers was a very kind move. Safari’s compliance with web standards is top-notch, and I appreciate your effort to support the web standards movement in this regard. Before anything else, however, your support for Safari was likely a necessary political move. Since Microsoft announced that it will no longer develop (or support) Internet Explorer on the Macintosh platform, it was indeed necessary for Wells Fargo to support something on the Mac, lest you be accused of shutting out a large population of internet users from your service.

What’s also curious is that you suggest that people upgrade to the most recent version of Netscape, notwithstanding the fact that the entire Netscape development staff was laid off in 2003 and the browser is no longer being actively maintained by AOL ( Nay, as far as browser upgrades go, Netscape trails far behind the code base for the Mozilla and Firefox web browsers, which are two choices that aren’t even mentioned in your recommendations.

One would think that the uncertain future of Netscape would make it an undesirable upgrade path for your users. However, if you are willing and able to support Netscape, why not Mozilla or Firefox? Recent versions of all three browsers share the same code structure. The only difference between Netscape and Mozilla/Firefox is that Mozilla and Firefox are actively maintained and upgraded by a passionate community, whereas Netscape is only upgraded when politics at AOL demand as such.

Thus, I highly recommend you include Firefox 1.0 in your proposed list of supported browsers. Firefox is available as a free download for the Windows, Macintosh and Linux platforms at

What’s more, you cite security concerns as the primary force behind your request that people upgrade their web browsers. If this is indeed the case, why do you still choose to support Internet Explorer, which has the worst track record for security in all current browsers? A Google search on "internet explorer security vulnerabilities" will return nearly a million pages (now showing 1.9 million pages — ed.), and none of them are particularly optimistic.

Even with the numerous security patches issued by Microsoft, Internet Explorer is still riddled with security problems. These problems are by design, unfortunately, as Internet Explorer’s tight integration with the Windows operating system actually requires that the browser be vulnerable to security risks.

The lack of security in Internet Explorer will be a chronic illness until people upgrade to web browsers that are independent of their operating system. Browsers like Safari, Firefox and Opera are secure because they were designed to be web browsers, and only web browsers. They do one thing, and they do it well.

Please take these suggestions into consideration, and I look forward to hearing your response.


Dane Petersen

P.S. Oh, and one more thing. Your browser test, at, incorrectly identified my web browser. Even though I accessed your site using Opera 7.54, it identified my browser as Netscape 4.78. If I cannot trust Wells Fargo to correctly identify which web browser I am using, how can I trust Wells Fargo with my online banking?

November 27, 2004

An heron.

My brother-in-law is a crafty fellow. He is ever so crafty, so when my sister and him learned that they were expecting, they wanted to break the news to my parents in a crafty way. My parents are lovely folk, but craftsmen they are not. Often Tyler will perform an Amazing Feat of Mental Agility and it will be completely lost on them. This is to no fault of their own, of course, as they aren’t used to dealing with crafty underlings. Whenever one combines Tyler’s feats with my parents, however, the result is often humorous.

An example would have been during my sister’s wedding ceremony, when Tyler asked for the bride’s parents’ approval for the marriage, and my parents completely forgot the script and just sat there staring at him. There was an awkward five second pause, after which my mother and father suddenly popped up and hurriedly spoke their lines.

But it was too late. The priest laughed, my sister doubled over laughing, the whole congregation burst into laughter. It was such a classic Petersen moment that you can’t help but smile looking back on it.

So, when it became apparent that Greta and Tyler were going to have a bundle of something-or-another arriving next summer, they wanted to break it to my parents in a clever way. Since they live a mere 250 miles from the folks (compared to my 1,700 miles), G&T were able to cook something up and play it on my parents over Thanksgiving.

So. They got my parents some Christmas ornaments for Thanksgiving presents, and told them that these would be some especially appropriate ornaments to put on the tree this year. The ornaments were storks, and since babies are not dug out of the ground or grown in vats of goo but delivered to households via stork, one would reasonably conclude that my parents, upon receiving these ornaments, would realize that the stork may be paying a visit to my sister and brother-in-law.

Well. My mother opened the gift and thanked G&T for giving them such beautiful ornaments of great blue herons. We have great blue herons all the time at the cabin! How wonderful it is that we will have great blue herons on our Christmas tree this year!

Herons. Great blue herons. Soon enough the misconception was cleared up and everyone understood what was going on, but now my curiosity has been piqued. What if their baby does indeed arrive via great blue heron? What sort of child would a great blue heron bring? Would it be a girl? A boy?

Whatever it is, all I hope is that it doesn’t have tentacles. I’m okay with a girl or a boy, but man, if that kid has tentacles, I’m going to have a real tough time being uncle.

An story. And another.

Shane and Dane: Turkey Pirates

And so another Turkey Day TO THE MAX comes to pass. As with last year, I spent the day with my mountain friends Shane and Erin, the only difference this time around being the minor detail that we all live in the same house.

Well, I suppose there were a lot of differences. This year we’re living in Erin’s brand spankin’ new house in a nice neighborhood of angry dogs and ADHD children, across the street from goats and chickens. Our new kitchen has tons of counter space, which was incredibly useful when it came to making homemade rolls, pumpkin pie, mud pie, mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey and three gallons of stuffing. I had to chop up five yellow onions for the stuffing, and the little fellers were so vicious that I needed to wear ski goggles to keep my face from melting.

My old roomie Erik the Great came over, bearing a lean an’ mean green bean casserole. As we stuffed ourselves silly we tossed out quips from Blazing Saddles, Invader Zim and all that, followed by long periods of silence as everyone focused on eating as much food as possible. After the meal everyone crashed hard, really hard, and we all dozed off on the couch watching Smallville and Mission Impossible.

Erik took off shortly thereafter, as he had to be up at 3:00 the next morning to open up his coffee shop for the 4:30 rush of professional shoppers. I haven’t heard from him since, so I will assume that he drowned in a human sea of bargain-seeking violence. Quite a shame, too, cuz he was a neat kid. I’ll never forget the stories… the one about being attached at the neck to an albatross, or the one about an apple at the end of an heron.

An blue heron.

Which is another story. An different story altogether.

November 22, 2004

no pictures of a clown

It appears that there was resounding disappointment when yesterday’s entry, entitled Pictures of a Clown, came to an end with nary a picture of a clown. No clowns. Not a single one. There was a story about clowns, a story about previous stories that included pictures of clowns, but never did the conversation build to a point where there was an actual picture of a clown.

Nay, I would go so far as to venture that yesterday’s work was anti-clown, or devoid of clown, or consisting of actual negative clown-adge, such that any future discussion about clowns would require that we pay down an existing clown debt before it would have any legitimacy whatsoever.

And this troubles me so. First and formost, we here at Brainside Out rage against illegitimacy, whether it be in the form of intellectual dishonesty or flunked international tests or children of loose morals. We want to be viewed as a legitimate, viable source for facts about the world writ large. Yesterday we made a huge mistake. Yesterday we sacrificed all our credibility to pull a senseless parlor trick. Yesterday was two o’clock in the morning, and we weren’t thinking straight, and one thing led to another…

Well, we want to make it up to you. This time around, we will give you a picture of a clown, and it will be an excellent picture of a clown. Maybe not the best picture of a clown, but definitely one that is noteworthy.

Without further ado, a picture of a clown:

DJ the Clown

Well now, that’s pretty good. He’s got a muppet and everything, and he’s wearing a shirt from my CEO’s closet. However, I fear that one picture of a clown isn’t going to cut it, anymore. I’ve squandered your trust and I need to earn it back, and one picture of a clown won’t do the job. We need, perchance, a second picture of a clown:


If you can remember one thing and one thing only, remember this: sorbet. Sorbet will carry you through your darkest days, and we know this to be true because the clown says so. But then, if one picture of a clown is good, and if a second picture of a clown is better, what would that make a picture of two clowns?

Clowns, like, in Quebec or something

This picture is great on so many levels. We have a clown in a funny vest, a clown wearing some funny shoes, and an old lady wearing some funny sunglasses. And look at the colorful flags! What won’t those crazy Quebecois do?

Are you feeling better? Allow us to kick it up a notch, with a whole slew of clowns posing with the space shuttle!

Clowns in front of... uhh... the space shuttle...

Best. Photoshop. Ever. They even made the clown on the far right look like Chris Fahey.

Then again, clowns aren’t all fun and games and spacecraft. Sometimes they’re sad and downright serious, like subtitled foreign films:

Who asked you? WHO ASKED YOU?!

And some clowns pick fights with drunks brandishing bottles:

clown flipping off guy with bottle

But for the most part, clowns are happy and funny and make us feel really good. Many times, it is the children who can best communicate the warmth and joy that clowns bring to us:

Clownz R Funn!

Then again, most of what children produce is utter crap:

Clown Scribble

Well, then. I can only hope that our brief tour through the world of clowns has helped warm your heart to the tortured few at Brainside Out. We work ever so hard to publish quality content at awkward hours, and we strive to be your first and foremost resource for late-breaking stuff and stuff.

And here is a picture of a man with a lobster on his head:

Man with Lobster on Head

November 21, 2004

pictures of a clown

This one goes out to Dave Adams, a good friend and a fellow Spontaneous Combustian, from back in my good ol’ Duluth days.

A number of years ago I was rambling incoherently on my website. This was back in the days when I was still resting on a server somewhere at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and using the internet for purly narcissistic and exploitative purposes. Not much has changed since then, except that this site is now hosted in Pennsylvania. I’ve never been to Pennsylvania. I’ve never even been through Pennsylvania. I have friends in Pennsylvania, but as far as my experience goes, the state of Pennsylvania could just as well be in Cuba, or be lost under the sea, or be a really big basement in some guy’s house.

Unlike now, back then I was babbling. I was babbling and eventually I got bored with it, so I wrapped up the day’s entry with a picture of a clown. I said, “And here is a picture of a clown,” and then there was a picture of a clown.

I didn’t think much of it. It was late and I was bored and tired. But Dave “Jazz Cramps” Adams thought it was so funny that he made the clown the desktop background on a computer at work. Dave worked at the UMD Bookstore and many people thought he was a bit off, because this computer was right at the cash register, would occasionally double as the cash register, and was in plain view of anyone walking by in the hallway.

Dave and I had a tradition that we called “Friday Afternoon Loiters.” Friday afternoons were pretty dull on campus, because UMD was a school for slackers and by 10:00 am Friday most people had already left for the Twin Cities for the weekend. Thus, Dave was left working in a ghost town, under a boss that expected him to act busy up until the bookstore closed. As soon as I would get out of fiction class every Friday afternoon, I’d go to the bookstore and spoil the ruse by completely wasting Dave’s time.

Now, neither Dave nor I have a knack for subtlety, so there was no question that we were completely goofing off. I’d grab the price scanner and shoot at people walking by in the hallway. Dave would crack jokes. Occasionally I would get thrown backwards in great peals of laughter, and run into innocent bystanders. I would apologize profusely, and as soon as they were gone Dave and I would fall to the floor laughing. If the Bookstore boss wasn’t present, Friday Afternoon Loiters could last an hour. If the boss was there, we’d typically fit all our antics into a concentrated fifteen minutes of dirty looks and zaniness.

Whatever. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Friday Afternoon Loiter, and these days I am so over clowns. I do not have any more pictures of clowns. The clowns and I are so done. No clowns.

And here is a picture of an awesome shirt:

Awesome Shirt

November 17, 2004

food4less free turkey

I first moved to Bend a year ago this Saturday. My new life in Bend also harkened my introduction to quite possibly the greatest discount foodstuffs store known to mankind: Food4Less.

Yes. Food4Less is all one word. Yes. Food4Less is spelled with the number four. Classy, eh? The establishment is your typical warehouse superstore, with glossy concrete floors and rickety metal shelves that scratch the ceiling. The whole building, both inside and out, is clad in its corporate colors of yellow and green, which results in a garish shopping experience that would make even a Packers fan cringe.

Until a time I used to shop at Food4Less religiously, and if not religiously, at least with a fervent enthusiasm that only a wry and cynical agnostic could liken to interaction with the divine. The groceries were cheap and the PBR cheaper, and that in itself is enough to buy my loyalty to the brand. However, the prices were far from being the focal point of my attraction to Food4Less. Nay, as any wise man will tell you about life, it was the people who made Food4Less worthwhile.

Crazy people shop at Food4Less. Meth addict sightings are through the roof. You get to see people who are so tricked out on the pseudoephedrine party that they can’t bear to stand on both feet at the same time. You can usually spot ’em cuz they look like zombies (typically because they’ve been up for days), their hair is all thin and scraggly (cuz they don’t need to eat or drink for days), and they smell like socks (cuz, like, my socks smell really bad and I’m really stubborn, and I will usually admit that the people I’m arond are hardcore methers before I’ll admit that my socks smell).

But even the methers are a small fraction of the attracton to Food4Less. The people that shop there, as well as the people who work there, are just… off. There’s no other way to describe it, beyond the fact that I feel like I fit right in. One time I saw this tweaked out old lady, who was pushing her dapple dachshund around in her bright yellow shopping cart. The dachshund even had its own hand-sewn pillow, suggesting that she shopped with her dog quite often. Creepy? You bet your socks it was! But it was Food4Less creepy, and I’m totally okay with that.

As unfortunate as most of my relationships turn out, however, Food4Less and I inevitably had a falling out. A few months ago I bought a gallon of pure orange juice for a pocket of pennies. As soon as I got home I popped that sucker open and pulled a long delicious pint of Florida’s Finest, and I stashed the jug in the fridge along with the rest of the day’s bounty.

A few days later I went back for another glass of orange juice, and I noticed that the plastic jug wasn’t exactly sitting flat on the shelf in the fridge, anymore. Actually, it was having trouble sitting up, as though it was recovering from a long hard night at the D and D. I pulled the jug, placed it on the counter and proceeded to unscrew the cap, as one who desires orange juice is wont to do.

The jug hissed at me, and I quickly screwed the cap tight again. Hmm. Apparently the orange juice was under pressure for some reason. Could it be the altitude? I hoped it was the altitude. Maybe that whole thing about opening the orange juice in the first place was entirely made up, a figment of my imagination, and the jug needed to acclimate to 3,600 feet. Because let’s face it, most oranges are not grown in the mountain highlands of Floridia, despite what the orchard lobbyists would have you believe.

Confident, I began unscrewing the cap, and again the jug hissed violently. It was here that I realized that the jug wasn’t even balancing on the counter correctly, and was threatening to tip over. Do oranges get botulism? I wondered. I left the cap a quarter twisted, and my gallon of orange juice just sat there hissing. One minute. Two minutes. Impatiently I grabbed the jug by the handle in one hand, and twisted the cap with the other.

Well. That wasn’t the brightest thing to do. As soon as I twisted the cap it popped off like a cork out of a champagne bottle, flew across the kitchen and dented the wall. What’s more, I now had a geyser of orange juice spraying me in the eyes and covering the kitchen in orangey goodness. Oh yes. I was on the phone, too. Did I mention I was on the phone? I quickly realized the crisis on my hands, so I hung up on Silent C and went about damage control.

It was right about then that my eyes started to burn. It finally dawned on me what had probably happened, and as the jug of orange juice lay in the sink frothing and boiling over, I dunked my head under the faucet to rinse out my eyes. Some way, some how, my orange juice had gone into fermentation, probably with the intent of making orange vodka or something.

The gas generated by the reaction had been building up inside the jug, until a hapless orange juice aficianado happened along and spoiled the whole thing. Aside from the violent finale, it was very similar to Peter’s attempt to make potato vodka in our old, aformentioned apartment. Even though his experiment produced ethyl alcohol while mine produced, like, orange booze, in the end both recipes will leave you blind.

And that’s why I don’t shop at Food4Less anymore, free turkey or no free turkey.

November 16, 2004

smoke detector

I think I’m going to try something new for a bit. Every evening (and by every evening I mean every once in awhile) I’m going to scan my referral logs for search strings, and write an entry about whatever crazy words brought a person to this website. Because I mean really, a lot of them are rather hilarious, and there’s no sense in keeping them all to myself.

You have five seconds to guess tonight’s topic.

I don’t have a lot of luck with smoke detectors. When I lived in Duluth, we called our smoke detector our “smoke and laziness detector” as it would go off whenever we burned something, or whenever it felt like too many of us were spending too much time in the apartment. I also recall having another smoke detector that would beep at peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

One day my roommate Ryan burned an entire pound of bacon. Not only did it set off the smoke alarm, it jammed the smoke alarm and blew the circuit breaker. If that wasn’t fun enough, it just so happened that we lived in a two story apartment, and my squalid bedroom was located directly above the stove. Needless to say, my room tasted like burned bacon for a week. I couldn’t sleep at night because I would wake up choking on grease vapor. It was one of the most horrible things to happen in that apartment.

…well… a lot of horrible things happened in that apartment. One day I got too excited and started acting like a penguin. One thing led to another and I put my head through the wall. Ultimately we made up a lame excuse so we didn’t have to pay to get it fixed, but in retrospect I think we should have just told the RAs the truth, that a resident thought he was a penguin and put his head through the wall. I mean really. What else is going to put a hole in the wall?

Another time I melted a tea kettle to the stove and it wouldn’t come off. How do you melt a tea kettle, you may ask? You put some water on to boil and you forget about it for three hours. Of course, water doesn’t burn per se, so the smoke alarm doesn’t go off and you will never know how horrible a cook you really are until it’s too late. When you come back downstairs to run to class, your tea kettle will be bright red and fused to the stove.

Please call service

Our huge and monolithic printer is on the fritz, but we can’t figure out what the red flashing error is supposed to symbolize. It either means that the printer needs a shower, or it wants to go bowling.

November 15, 2004

Dare to Stare Back

Watching the Watched: Reporting Live from San Francisco

The funny thing is, is that even though she was completely comfortable in front of the one camera, she got nervous when I started taking pictures.

November 14, 2004

Running to Stand Still

The degree to which I am being pulled in multiple directions is currently at a level that I haven’t experienced since college… and a search of this website on the term “anti college” will quickly explain how much I enjoyed the stress of those years. Honestly, I feel like I am being atomized by my existence, forced to split my molecular structure at the sub-atomic level just to make sure that I have everything covered.

I mean, it’s exciting. There’s so much to do and a lot of the stuff is reasonably stimulating, but at the same time I only have so many particles, and I am only able to do so much.

Something somewhere has to give to make room for all this stuff. My room is a mess of unfinished projects, and is a fine reflection of my mental state. My Halloween costume is sitting in a box, waiting to be folded nicely and stowed away. I haven’t completely unpacked from my San Francisco trip, even less from Hood River this weekend. I shattered the LCD screen on my new digital camera the last time I was in Hood River, and I sold my old camera to my roommate, so I currently have no photographical outlet. My new camera is in pieces on my night stand, and half the screws that would put it back together are lost in the carpet.

If I process photographs in the late evening I don’t have time to write in the late evening. If I write I don’t have time to read. My latest reading materials include php programming, database management, economic/social/moral/political philosophy and small business management, though I’m making little progress on any of them. Julee said that she’s had a lot of success in reading graphic novels, and I think that would probably be a really good idea.

My to-do lists conflate such reasonable goals as “pay car insurance” and “buy notebooks” with unreasonable requests like “climb highest point in 50 states” and “rule humanity.” I know that these lists are counterproductive and merely contribute to my frustration, but I am so bored with the mediocre and ordinary that I am unable to filter out the difference between short-term goals and life-long dreams. It would appear that the only projects I’ve managed to finish lately are all these bottles of Black Butte Porter.