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© 2001-2006 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.

O pines have a lot in common with smurfs.

Older material by this guy is available in book form:
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Hodge Podge
Loose Ends

Obligatory author photo.
This website is named for the rare O pine, an endangered species of evergreen native to the Pacific northwest. It is noted for its stunted growth (rarely over six feet), unusually gnarly bark, and bright -- almost emerald -- green needles which curl into the shape of an O. Its soft wood was prized for tissue paper; it was over-lumbered from the late 19th century until 1961, when it received federal protection. Despite the best efforts of conservationists, it has proven stubborn to replenish, and fully half the population exists in arboretums and zoos. If you would like to help efforts to save this magnificent tree, please write us for details.

Welcome, websurfer, to The O Pine, our quiet corner of the internet where we can pontificate on matters large and small, without interruption from the usual hoons who inhabit discussion lists. Imagine, if you will, a warm spring day. It is just you and your best friend, relaxing under a tree in the woods (perhaps even an O pine tree, uncurling the fallen needles as you ponder the birds overhead), and just... talking. Going over the marvel of life, exchanging ideas.

That is what this site is about. Sharing ideas for their own sake. No right, no wrong, and no commercial interest. Take what you will and leave the rest. If you would like to share your thoughts about anything you find here, you may write to us.

My Role as UncleSometimes it's hard to figure out what your role should be in a new family. I've given it a lot of thought, and this is what I came up with.
Memo to Spammers, Scammers, and Virus-WritersWe've been online since the days of dial-up BBS systems, and in the intervening years the situation with the scum of the internet has just gotten progressively worse with each passing year. We're fed up.
Hey Moron, It's Your Own MoneyOh isn't it exciting! Soon we'll all be getting a bonus from Uncle Sam that we can spend on some frivolous big-ticket item! Only if you're a MORON! Read why...
Save Blackwater Canyon?A group calling themselves the Friends of Blackwater Canyon have an agenda that seems to be in the public's best interests, until you start reading some of the supporting documentation on the issue at hand. Does intended altruism excuse blatant falsehoods?
Incentive Stock OptionsFinancial analysts do a lousy job explaining financial things because they have too much education, forgetting that regular folks don't recognize all those fancy terms. Your water cooler buddies do a lousy job because they're talking out of their butts. But if your company has incentive stock options, and you're wondering what the heck to do with them, check out our explanation and -- hopefully -- finally get it.

O Pine Archives

Here is a listing of our past O Pine articles, sorted by general style.


Denim vs. AsphaltFor years, motorcycle safety gear manufacturers -- and often, the motorcycle enthusiast press -- have told us that denim stinks in a laydown. So how bad is it really?
Accepting Credit Cards OnlineFor the beginning online merchant, the number of ways to handle shopping carts and credit card sales boggles the mind. This essay is intended to serve as a primer to the various solutions available, with guidance for where each option is appropriate.
MozillaThis new open-source web browser is getting a lot of attention for taking away some of Internet Explorer's market share -- the great Microsoft is down from a 97% market share to 94% thanks to this scrappy little browser. But is it really good enough to command a 3% share?
Dear MomFamily is always a little bit nutty.
Mac and TeaseFor the last 20 years I'd been enthusiastic about the Macintosh without actually owning one. When it finally came time to welcome one into my home, my attitude quickly soured.
Et tu, BITOG?We thought we were friends with a website that shares a common interest in the Synthetic Oil Life Study. Apparently not. We air our side here, since our laundry isn't allowed there anymore.
I Habb a CoddHabbig a codd sucks. Bleg.
Capital Punishment Only Makes Sense To People Who Don't Get Speeding TicketsWe'd all like to believe that the justice system is right and just, and that those people who are in prison or on death row belong there. But considering how unlikely it is for the average joe to get fair justice even in traffic court, one has to wonder how many innocent people we've killed.
The Joys of Small Business OwnershipSure, it sounds great to say you run your own business, but some days are definitely better than others. This article rants about a few of the trials along the way.
3,000-Mile Oil ChangesThis article discussing the merits of the 3,000-mile oil change was originally for a different website, but after they failed to pay for it, we posted it here.
Cars and Trucks and Greenies That GoEnvironmentalists are quick to point fingers and tell us what to drive. But what do they drive? Will they even admit it? And how do the options stack up?
How I WriteMany wonder what it must be like to write. The answer to that question no doubt differs for every author, but this author shares his perspective on the process.
Bicycle SafetySo the safety people want you to wear a helmet when you ride a bicycle, because safety statistics show that wearing helmets saves lives. Right? Right?
I Remember HeatherOur Scottish terrier, Heather, sadly passed away too young from a brain tumor. We've recorded a bit of what life was like with her.
Gene Weingarten's ChatWe like to crash this Washington Post humor writer's online chats and see if we can get any of our own goofy comments online. Occasionally we succeed.
The Golden Season of Science Fiction TelevisionIf you enjoy good quality science fiction TV programming, then you probably found much to enjoy in 2002. Unfortunately, that season ended in ashes with two of three top-notch programs cancelled. We have a look at what happened.
Horsepower: Making it Add UpWe run into bench racers all the time who are quick to talk big about their horsepower numbers but slow to explain how they arrived at those numbers. Since there seems to be quite a bit of confusion about how cars are rated at certain horsepower, we're going to clear that all up for you once and for all.
The Comics PageFrankly, we're a little dismayed by the current state of the comics page. Fully half of the strips in our local newspaper are unreadable, and all but two of the remainder are just barely passable. So we've created our own virtual comics page with links to the ones we enjoy.
The New Transportation SystemThe environmentalists would like us to abandon our cars in favor of a more eco-friendly public transit system. But based on the economic and cultural realities we face, what sort of system would be possible to adopt? We analyze the issue and arrive at a novel conclusion.
Winter BrakingSome folks see 4WD vehicles zipping through the snow and try to argue that such people are doomed to roll their vehicles because they may have four-wheel-drive, but "all cars have four-wheel-brakes". We examine the merit of this argument.
The "Buy American" MovementFortunately, the ranks of the diehard Buy American evangelists are dwindling. Fortunate because they base their annoying platform on virtually no useful facts. We deconstruct the "Buy American" argument to see how it has failed in the new global economy.
Get Fuzzy and the
Government Control of Information
On the face of it, Get Fuzzy seems like a relatively harmless comic strip about talking animals. But in truth, it's the mouthpiece for a popular revolution.
Business Card StrategyYou see a lot of business cards these days, but many of them are horribly abused through incorrect usage. We explain the real reason you have a business card, how to make it work effectively, and what it should look like.
Goodbye, Driver's LicenseLet's face it: there will never be meaningful driver's license reform. The primary purpose of the license is to provide a means of identification, not to prove competency behind the wheel. It's time to extract the Department of Identification from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Old Car SafetyThere are those who believe that old cars are fundamentally safer because they're heavier. Well, those people are wrong on both points, and we prove it.
Line PatrolIn a mall, at Disney World, at a movie theater, people get into lines all the time and survive the ordeal with dignity and civility intact. But put each person in charge of a car and add a construction zone to the mix, and all hell breaks loose.
Fauquier County Office of RacketeeringBusinesses generally strive to correct errors in a timely and considerate fashion -- or at least are quick to justify themselves anyway. This isn't necessarily so with government; could it just be a ploy to bring in more revenue?
Rebate ThievesWe're a little tired of letting corporations get away with stealing our mail-in rebate money. From now on, we're keeping a list of companies that won't pay up on their own rebates.
Skeets and SnipesA local group of activists are campaigning for the conservation of wild skeets and snipes.
What's the Only English Word...Any question that starts this way is sure to ultimately bring embarrassment to the asker. And it doesn't get any more embarrassing than when you're a morning radio deejay dangling a prize for the first caller with the "correct" answer.
Alternate RouteWhat happens when irritability and impulsiveness combine with opportunity on the open road?
Yardstick: Ruler of MeasureMany people still continue to blindly use the metric system despite the obvious advantages of the Imperial system. Using a simple comparison between the meter and the yard, we illustrate the innate superiority of the Imperial system.
The Skinny on CamarosThe Camaro is gone from new-car showrooms, but it's not too late to grab a nice used one. This is why you want to.
When Engineers WriteMost engineers are very good at what they do. Unfortunately, this sometimes means they think they're good at everything they do, including writing. The results of their writing efforts can be entertaining.
People for the Elimination of
Speed-control Technology
Have you ever been driving down the highway, cruise control on, tapping your feet to the radio, enjoying the journey? Well, it's time to put a stop to this madness! PEScT is here to save all America from this horrific fate.
The Devon RantWe're tired of being abused by car dealers. So now we're saying what needs to be said.
Our CarsFor years people have been asking us about our cars, how they're doing, what we think of them, and whatever happend to some prior hulk. So, here's a cheat sheet to the wheels that have entered our lives.
Birth Chart AnalysisMankind has long looked to the stars for answers. But do the stars hold the answers, or do they merely act as a reflection of what we want to hear about ourselves? Where, exactly, are the lines between luck, intuition, and precognition?
Tilting at TerroristsWe live in interesting times. All the more interesting thanks to our own government, which seems hellbent on a course for protecting us from terrorists. Never mind whether their actions actually do any good. How dare anyone question America's leadership at a time like this!
The Saga of KevinBe careful asking strangers how they feel. You just might find out.
Ozzy Osbourne's New AlbumOne thing you can count on with Ozzy: you won't be shocked by a sudden change in musical direction. With his latest studio album just around the corner, we decided to have a little fun and predict what it would be like.
Five in the MorningThere are certain things humans were never intended to do, but being human, we feel compelled to beat the odds. Triumphs such as exploring the depths of the ocean. Walking on the moon. Finding the south pole. Waking up at five in the morning.
Offensive MusicJust when you thought the world had maxed out its Politically Correct MasterCard, someone extends the limit.
Used Car ShoppingFor years, buying and selling classic cars, we never found the process terribly taxing. But this time around, selling three cars and buying two "normal" cars, we got a taste of what most people experience, and it wasn't pleasant. We'll tell you what happened -- and we'll name names.
Improve Your LifeFeeling dissatisfied? We know what you're going through. Your life does suck. But hey. Nothing is beyond repair (except for that Nova we creamed back in '91). We've got a few suggestions for you to consider.
Talk About Being Nickel-and-Dimed!We went to Las Vegas to get rich. Like most people, we didn't. But we did see a pyramid, a castle, a collection of great cars, and a couple of slot machines. It took us a while to find one, but eventually we did, and we studied its behavior to learn just how long it'd take to go broke.
Trucks Don't Raise Gas PricesSeems like lately it's gotten popular to bash on trucks, especially sport-utility vehicles, particularly amusing because fully half the households in this country have one. One of the common complaints is that trucks are causing the recent gas price increase. Well, guess what: that's wrong.
The Tech Writer's Style GuideTechnical writing is a hot field with many opportunities, especially for liberal arts majors who need all the opportunity fate can throw at 'em. But technical writing is not as simple as writing a dumb book like The Great Gatsby; tech writers need to exhibit some real talent. This style guide will serve as a good primer for all aspiring techies.
Hot Rodders TranslatedHot rodders have their own little language. The words sound familiar but the meanings differ greatly from what we expect. To help out newbies, we've compiled this collection of phrases and their actual meanings.
To Jan.A farewell too soon.
The Smith InstitutionIn one of two previous attempts to bring witty commentary to the world wide web, your host and his brother made lunchtime forays into the art world. Sadly, scheduling conflicts killed the series after only the second installment. Both installments remain online.
Finances!This onetime-standalone page has a look at the benefits of investing money for retirement at an early age. Though it was written in the late 1990s, the basic assumptions are still valid today.
Bust Bob's ChopsIn the original effort, we followed a formula where we would take a stupid comment by columnist Bob Levey and argue it. Fully 11 episodes of this riveting series made it online before we moved away from Washington and stopped reading his insipid columns. They are all still online.