not just for adults anymore…

picture of my nephewKatie posted about her nephew yesterday and how she would be a super hero if she added his picture to the site. I learned last night that I have also influenced the younger generation except I lead the way to porn… well that’s certainly NOT something to add to the resume.

Did your parents ever tell you about “Your crazy Uncle Larry” when you were a kid? You know, the only single one left in the family, the guy that drank too much, partied all the time and had no sense of social responsibility at all. He’d show up to all the big family get-togethers and most of the family would be polite, but they would tell the kids ahead of time “Don’t talk to your Uncle Larry, he’s trouble”. And maybe your Uncle Larry wasn’t such a bad guy. Maybe he was simply an adult doing the things that adults do and now he suddenly had to be aware of his influence on the family.

Me, I’ve always loved kids. Been watching kids, interacting with kids since the time I was one myself. At some point Michelle & I will have our own rugrats, but in the meantime I enjoy the weekends we visit her sister as we can horse around with our niece and nephews. I’m pretty good about adjusting my behavior in the presence of the kids, but I hadn’t given any thought to them, specifically Michael, viewing this website.

I think it’s great that my nephew likes to read these entries. I’m glad that Michael enjoys the photo galleries (and he actually plays at my arcade), but I didn’t anticipate the consequences of him clicking the links to other people’s websites. When Michelle told me that her sister called because Michael found porn on my site I was a little confused.

“Porn, I don’t have any porn on this site.”

“What’s Michelle’s Wonderland then?”

“It’s a web cam site, Michelle’s a local racer, the one with the Trans Am.”

“Oh, well Michael thought you made a link specifically for me.”

Now I can understand the confusion, but I was still surprised about the porn part. Turns out like many other cam girls, Ms. Wonderland (the name I will now use so as not to have her confused with MY Michelle) has outbound links from HER site to porn. Not the Jenna Jameson kind of porn, but topless chicks nonetheless. Oops. While any adult might refrain from clicking all the “rate my cam pics” links, Michael certainly isn’t old enough to distinguish the good from the bad. I felt like I gave him one of my Maxim magazines only to have him call the 800-hot-sexx number listed in the back page ads.

That being said, I have rearranged the navigation this morning and posted some warnings before those links send you anywhere. If you’re reading this Michael, tell your parents Uncle A.J. isn’t crazy, he just didn’t know you were growing up so fast. Oh and everything YOU want is located at the top right menu, just have your parents look at those links of the left before you start reading them.

Got EverCrack?

EverQuest picAfter exchanging e-mails with Ryan I decided to dust off my EverQuest CDs and take another look at the online world that held my attention for almost a year. Ryan mentioned a lot had changed in the two years since I stopped playing (mostly the User Interface and some other game play stuff) and I was motivated in part by an e-mail sent to me by Sony Entertainment who had kindly reactivated my long dead account.

“Try us again for 30 days, free of charge.”

“Get reacquainted with old friends, engage yourself in new zones.”

“Relive all the things that made you play in the first place.”

A shrewd move, not unlike asking Chris Rock in the movie “New Jack City” to take his just-recovered-crack-smokin’ butt back inside a drug lab. The temptations were high and I wondered if I might get sucked in again for $12.95 a month.

To fairly assess the changes I decided to shell out $10 for an expansion upgrade called the Shadows of Luclin. This last expansion touted newer 3D models and a better graphics engine plus an additional race & character class which I had not played before. I loaded up the CDs and waited as 10 minutes worth of online upgrades were downloaded via the Internet. Finally I was prompted to play the game and as I entered my old account info a new theme song trumpeted from my speakers.

Well the character screen was certainly different. The 3D models had improved and my characters had smoother features and new hairstyles. All three of my characters appeared to be intact so I selected my primary character Azarok and proceeded to enter the world.

From this point things got crazy. It had been so long since I played that I had forgotten which part of the world I was last in. Also, as I hadn’t played on my new computer at all, I quickly discovered none of the function keys were setup for the game. I entered the world only to be immediately attacked by what appeared to be a Sand Giant. I say this because there were a flurry of pop-up windows I wasn’t familiar with blocking my complete view of the screen. As I clicked the windows closed, my computer speakers echoed Azarok’s screams as he was pummeled to death. Quicker than a Tyson’s last fight, my character was crushed by massive giant blows.

Then the fun started.

For those unfamiliar with the game, the EverQuest world is divided into zones. As the game supports people playing online with 56k modem connections, only one zone is loaded on your computer at any given moment. When moving from one zone to another the game pauses while the location map is switched out. The bad part is when you die you don’t necessarily reappear in the same zone as your corpse. “Souls” are bound to specific zones and it just so happened that I was bound about 60 minutes real time from where I died. At this point I should have simply logged off.

The road back meant figuring out which series of shuttles & boats to ride. I almost got lost, but I was assisted by another player (thanks to Cadavear the Necromancer if he’s reading this). Fortunately, the Sony folks implemented a quicker teleporting method which allowed me to bypass some boat travel. With Cadavear’s help I shaved off roughly 20 minutes traveling back to where I died.

This screen shot sums up my afternoon. Notice the giant still looming in the background. Heh, after this afternoon’s adventure I think I can say I’m definitely past my EQ addiction.

Substitute Blogger

gory picture
Don’t know about you, but a lot of the bloggers I visit are suddenly taking breaks from their computers, their writing or just turning off the Internet due to sheer boredom and disdain. Dawn announced her hiatus and shortly after seems to be experiencing technical difficulties with SQL preventing her immediate return. The Goose chimed in the following day, but left us with a “Countdown Clock” to entrance us much like the flashing “12:00AM” on our VCRs. Then Moxie followed suit by announcing she would be posting less frequently and I actually experienced the first ever “re-run” online yesterday. One of the Mad Pony girls has run off to Paris and Sarah has way too many things going on right now.

In the universe that is the blogosphere it appears I have big shoes to fill. By no means do I have the talent, vocabulary, let alone the editorial skills to pickup where these fine folks left off, but I’m willing to give it a shot. Kevin has an idea why he blogs and perhaps I know why I do, but the question is what draws YOU the reader to these various websites? (More importantly who do I have to sleep with to get more reader comments?)

Pardon me while I ponder what to write next…

Let’s start with this report that cell phones ARE NOT the leading cause of car accidents, in fact they are ranked sixth. I’ve ranted on repeatedly for a couple of years now ever since the idea of a cell phone ban in cars was put on the table. Of course, I don’t expect this bit of information to dissuade the folks that want to regulate my ability to drive.

You know what’s worse than having your credit cards stolen and used without your knowledge? Being arrested again & again because somebody stole your identity. As I am still recovering from a credit card theft that happened months ago, this particular article hit very close to home. There have been a rising number of large scale credit thefts including the 30,000 records stolen last November and most recently the 50,000 records that were recently lifted from the University of Texas. I can attest that reestablishing your credit after fraud is difficult, but from what I read fixing errors in a criminal report sounds almost impossible. Now more than ever people need to be aware of how their personal information is used and why privacy rights ARE a big deal.

Let me close this afternoon’s entry with a recent pet peeve. I’m perfectly willing to pay for online content, but not if said content is going to expire. I am slowly restoring entries from the previous version of this website (back when a blog entry was simply an individual HTML page) and I noticed many of the news story links I used are dead now. I haven’t decided whether to go back through those entries and attach updated links, but the point is I shouldn’t have to.

OK, that’s the best I could muster without an elaborate spell check. If that wasn’t quite the reader workout you expected you can go here for a survey asking why bloggers blog. (Link grabbed from the Rabbit Blog)

Weblog Review

thumbs upI received two e-mails last night that my website had been reviewed by the folks over at The Weblog Review.

The first review was done by frozensouth. He rated my site 4.5 out of 5 and had a lot of positive things to say:

“ is a very entertaining blog, with varied posts, many with photographs that help to make the reading easy and enjoyable. The author is not any sort of poet, and he doesn’t intend to be one. Posts are direct, clear, and not in any case badly written.”

Cool beans. I’m happy when someone tells me they enjoy reading my blog. It’s more satisfying than receiving an e-mail that says “Uhm, I asked you to find [insert video/audio file here] and you never posted it on your website for me, @sshole.” Frozensouth also pointed out one of the unique items about my website:

“This last point brings one of the highlights of This is, a complete cast list, including pictures and brief descriptions. This is a great help for a new reader that’s just entering the world of Azarok.”

Yeah, I had fun writing the Who’s Who list. I’m looking to expand it in the near future with some sort of timeline/flowchart, I just haven’t figured out exactly how I’ll put it together.

“ has other goodies. Many web games that are actually fun are available, tons of photos, jokes and more. Another high point is that the posts are not only ordered chronologically, but also by category.”

Yup, as Moxie is keen to point out many of you surfin’ don’t take the time to poke around a site. Perhaps my favorite part of the website is my photo albums. I’d love for people to look at all of them, but today you should checkout this one, this one & this one. I’m looking forward to the database version of Gallery at which point I hope to add a lot of older photos for people to peruse through. Speaking of blog categories, I probably need to go through my posts and make sure they organized a little better.

“The thing that could really use is some more reader comments. Many of the posts deserve feedback and there’s almost none. So take some time to visit the various sections of and you’ll probably find yourself enjoying most of the time you spend there.”

YES! I wholeheartedly agree – MORE READER FEEDBACK PLEASE. Thankyous to Dawn, Jared, Jen, Rick, Ryan & Sarah for being my regular contributors, but I’d love for some comments by anyone new passing through.

The second reviewer Imelda didn’t get caught up in all the hype about my website and rated me a 3 out of 5. She was quick to point out a minor navigation problem, that being the site FAQ is buried without any direct links to it:

“After having read this blog on and off over the last few days and having no clue as to where the title?s name derives from, I finally discovered that the name, Azarok is the name of the character A. J. (the writer) created to play the game EverQuest. Hm ? sometimes you just need to probe a bit more in a site to find out what you need.”

I’ll remedy that later today. When I converted the site from a Frames layout to the new CSS style, I removed some of the direct file links as I thought my menu was too cluttered.

“I found his blog so-so overall. He mostly writes about his weekends, little events he?s going to such as birthdays and comedy nights, etc. I liked though that sometimes he posts pictures with his entries because it gives more of a visual sense of his life. I particularly liked some of his more lengthy posts, such as one in January where he discussed gays in the mainstream and another post in December entitled, ?Time to stir things up a bit? which I?ll let you go read for yourself.”

Well, I would agree that I don’t always have the most profound thing to say, hence a shorter “this was my day” kind of entry. I did appreciate the fact that Imelda made it a point to note some of my longer posts and I can’t argue that some of my entries don’t possess the ebb & flow that other writers seem naturally gifted with. The upside is I’m constantly working to improve not only this site, but the content that I provide you the reader.

“Other areas of the site are links to other blogs, a bio with info and pictures of friends, a bunch of photo albums, jokes and reviews of comedians and a media section containing games, music and little movies. I found though there was a bit too much ’extra’ stuff on this site.”

“I didn?t find anything that really set this blog apart from the many I?ve read. If anything, this site gives the reader insight into A.J?s life and what he enjoys doing apart from his time spent online.”

I guess I have to keep in mind that the intent was to review my blog and not the overall website. I would disagree with Imelda that the other aspects of this website are “too much extra.” If anything I give surfers plenty of options when they come to visit me. My hope is that my writing improves enough to really carry the website on its own, but I believe it is the “extra” stuff that makes my website really stand out when compared to others on the `Net.

The one compelling difference is my description of content. While you’ll find many sites that have links to other places, files you can download or even pictures for you to see, there aren’t many that take the time to provide you the reader with insights as to why these things are here. My link sections have a short description about each blog or website linked which hopefully will peak your curiousity so you visit them. If you go to download an audio or video clip not only is there a description, but I tell you the file size so you’re not surprised by 25MB being jammed down your 56k pipe. And the photo albums? Well, sometimes the comments I write are damn funny other times the pictures speak for themselves.

Overall I thought the reviews were fair and I appreciate the fact that each person took the time to look around. If you have a chance go read their full reviews and vote for my website.