Friday, December 24, 2010

A little humor for your day

Some days, tech support feels EXACTLY like this:

(h/t to GBC, but I don't remember who over there)

Monday, December 20, 2010

A deodand by any other name

I learned a new word the other day.

Deodand: a thing forfeited or given to God, specifically, in law, an object or instrument which becomes forfeit because it has caused a person's death.

One of the fine fellows over in GBC (edit - it was RobbAllen) used it after I posted a link to this article - Legislation would order destruction of firearms used in fatal crimes.  From the article:
“This is a victims’ rights bill,” said Rep. Wayne. “We owe it to the memory of the deceased and to the surviving victims to ensure that a weapon that has stolen a life be taken off the streets forever.”
I'm sorry, but I'm getting rather tired of this argument.  The weapon didn't "[steal] a life".  Some miscreant with a distinct lack of social graces did that.  They chose to use a firearm.  This continued anthropomorphizing of inanimate objects gets very tiresome, very quickly.
Digiuro said it would be very difficult to think that the weapon that killed his son could be auctioned off and used again. “This bill will help victims families know that the weapons that killed their family member, or wounded their police officer or firefighter, will not be out on the street, possibly to kill again,” he said.

The only way I could find this even remotely palatable is if it called for the destruction of any "weapon" used in any crime.  Instead, it is singling out a particular type of weapon, and only for certain offenses.

Further, this is a lost revenue opportunity for the jurisdiction.  What happened to the old Sheriff's sales when they would clean out the evidence locker of stuff no longer needed?  Instead, they are going to spend even more money to destroy and object, and require even more regulatory overhead in order to comply with the regulations.

Personally, I think this is a bad idea.

Reading Comprehension Fail

So my boss sends out an email saying "Who's up for lunch today at 11:30, my treat?".

My team-mate's response?

"What time?"

I'm guessing 11:30, but I could be wrong on that :)

I need a new Irony Meter

So, let me get this straight.  Your current claim to fame is running a website that releases insider information, often obtained illegally.  And now, when the shoe is on the other foot, you don't like it so much?

According to the Australian:
Bjorn Hurtig, Mr Assange's Swedish lawyer, said he would lodge a formal complaint to the authorities and ask them to investigate how such sensitive police material leaked into the public domain. "It is with great concern that I hear about this because it puts Julian and his defence in a bad position," he told a colleague.
"I do not like the idea that Julian may be forced into a trial in the media. And I feel especially concerned that he will be presented with the evidence in his own language for the first time when reading the newspaper. I do not know who has given these documents to the media, but the purpose can only be one thing - trying to make Julian look bad."
So, what happened to the desire for transparency?  From an interview I found online:
L: The ideology behind WikiLeaks is to enable transparency, or is there more of a thought behind it than that?
JA: There is. Our goal is justice. Our goal is to have a just civilization. That is sort of a personal motivating goal. And the message is transparency.
(emphasis mine)

The phrase "hoist with his own petard" comes to mind.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Beware the White Death!!!

On the positive side, it's warmed up a bit.  It's only 22°F outside right now, and the high is supposed to get up to 30°F.  On the negative side, I've got 4" - 5" of snow in the driveway and it's still coming down.  It's not supposed to let up until midday, and there's the possibility for a bit more this evening.

It's on days like today that I'm thankful I can work from home.

Friday, December 10, 2010

From the Inbox

Info on US/UK relationship revealed via WikiLeaks?

*runs away very, very fast*

Deaf leading the blind?

Not quite
A judge sent Dante Williams, who is visually impaired and can only see thanks to nine eye surgeries, to prison Thursday for stealing $38 from a blind man who operates the deli inside the Hamilton County Courthouse.
I just don't see how he could do something like that.  Only $38?  Seems a rather short-sighted decision now, doesn't it?  I guess he was blinded by his greed.

Ding, dong

the witch is dead


Now that's not something you hear everday

From the Beeb:
I do think this was the classic example where [he] should have been using his ... Bentley - it's far less conspicuous.
 It just boggles the mind that a Bentley would be considered less conspicuous.  But I guess when the other option is the limo, it would be.

Overheard on the bus

On the bus ride this morning, we got to talking about the Series 7 and various other certification exams, and the craziness they make you go through.  No electronics, you can only use their writing implements and paper, you have to return all of your paper and pencils after the exam, etc.  I then started musing about what else they might do:

Me: You know, it wouldn't surprise me if they started making us wear hospital gowns.
R: Yeah, they'll want to make sure you don't have answers tattooed on your body somewhere.
K: Wait, what?  No, no, no.  Think about the open back.  Do you really want to see that?
Me: Good point.  That's why I wear mine backwards.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

I don't know what could possibly go wrong

So Czechoslovakia is using fake police officers, kitted out in miniskirts, to slow down traffic.

Um, yeah.  They have a problem with people speeding, so to fix that problem they're going to do something that will take the driver's attention off the road?

I don't see anything that could possibly go wrong with that scenario.

Where not to live when you retire

Hey JayG, I found another reason for you to hate the Volksrepublik!!
New England had two other states on Brady’s list of worst places for retirees: Massachusetts, which has high taxes including high property taxes and a very high cost of living, and Connecticut, which has the third-highest tax burden of any state as well as high property taxes.
Kentucky might not be on the "best of" lists, but at least it's not on the "worst of" :)


How many times does it have to be said?  You need to pay attention to your surroundings!!

How oblivious do you have to be (or how loud does the music have to be) for you not to hear a train horn being blown at you?!?  This young lady is very fortunate she wasn't more seriously injured.  One can only hope that she learns a valuable lesson here.

It is too easy to get distracted in the modern world.  I must admit that I do walk around with my earbuds in.  However, when I do, my head is almost always on a constant swivel.  I check for traffic, check for other pedestrians, and just try to keep up with my surroundings.  Even with that being said, I have been caught unawares on occasion.  Usually, the better the song, the more distracted I get.  I am reminded of Cooper's Color Code.

What is your mental condition when you're walking around?

Oh wow. Meet the North Point iBand

Yeah, this is pretty cool.

North Point's iBand from North Point Web on Vimeo.

Dear Friends

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.  I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2011, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country, nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And, without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee, by accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting.  It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Weather or not?

These are the kinds of weather forecasts I just LOVE

I have stuff to do this weekend, that I couldn't get done last weekend because it was snowing.  This is Not Good.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Don't be a victim

Don't be a victim.  Make a plan, take action, and remember that when seconds count the police are just minutes away.

The only thing I didn't see in the story is where the individual armed themselves for protection.  But you know, I can't completely fault them for that.  Buying a tool you are scared of or don't know how to use doesn't make much sense.  But they took notice of their environment, took proactive measures, and involved the authorities.

Not too much to fault in that story.

Virtualization coming to smartphones

This just seems very, very cool

I have two HUGE questions, though.  For SIM-based phones, where the SIM card identifies the device on the network, how in the world do you handle that?  I can envision some mechanism in the hypervisor that effectively lets one SIM card support two phones, similar to MAC address spoofing in VMs today.  The bigger question for me is radio contention.  If the personal instance is on a call, how in the world does it handle notification of a call on the work instance?   My initial thought there is that the hypervisor itself actually controls the radio, and spoofs both the physical and virtual phone instances into seeing it as a call-waiting event somehow.

Regardless of how they've done it, it's a great idea.  I know my office does not allow personal smartphones to be connected to email and other work resources because of the security issues.  However, if they could install a virtual phone on my personal phone, that the office had complete control over, that would be a different story.  And there is then the benefit of only having to carry one device or handset.  This seems a win-win all the way around, as long as there is an absolute wall between the host and the virtual machine.

So I wonder how much it will cost?

Ky. ponders park deer hunts to raise cash

Naturally, the Humane Society is experiencing an acute case of PSH:
"We think it's a travesty, because state parks are one of the few safe havens left, not just for animals but for people who enjoy watching wildlife," said Laura Simon, the Humane Society's field director for urban wildlife.
Um, so, deer hunting in the state parks is going to be unsafe for wildlife observers?  That's interesting, since they are planning on doing the hunts during times the parks are already closed.  Oh, yeah, and this will be part of the herd management efforts.  The state already uses private hunters on cull hunts.

And, as for the assertion that the park deer are practically tame and will just come right up to the hunter?  GREAT!!!  What's more humane than a can't-miss instant kill shot?  Oh, yeah, and I'm willing to bet that the deer will learn to be suspicious of humans pretty quick.

Objection: Assumes facts not in evidence

Oh really?

Hey, I'm all on board the stewardship of the created world train.  It's Biblical.  But, yeah, I think that word you keep using doesn't mean what you think it does:
A major focus of the book is the deep biblical basis for our engagement with global warming.
Um, yeah, you mean that warming that's been flat to non-existent for the last decade?

Is linking to a page an endorsement of its content?

That's what the Supreme Court in Canada is trying to decide
The Supreme Court in Ottawa on Tuesday reserved decision on whether simply posting a hyperlink could be considered defamatory and actionable.
Judges have long held you can't "point" readers to a defamation without sharing responsibility.
But what exactly is a hyperlink -- a bridge, a directional arrow, a new publication?
This worries me.  If I post something that essentially aggregates what others have said about an individual, am I now liable for their thoughts?  Will a disclaimer suffice to remove any liability on my part?  With Big Brother watching over everything, I fear that this will serve to chill online speech.

Police Officers do not have an expectation of privacy

It should not be a crime to record a police officer in the course of their duties

I'm sorry, but when an officer is on duty, he is an agent of the Government, and no longer a private entity.

I guess they just don't get it

In an editorial, the Dallas Morning News editorial board decries the fact that the Texas Supreme Court decided that dates of birth of public employees should not be released under FOI requests.
It's outrageous that the court saw things differently, guessing that the public interest is "negligible" as balanced, somehow, against a public employee's right to privacy.
Perhaps the DMN doesn't comprehend the idea of PII.  The board mentions that during investigations of state agencies, "[b]irth dates were important to establishing airtight matches in comparing criminal and payroll records."  It's boggling to me that they do not see this as a potential problem.  That merely highlights the fact that birthdates should definitely be controlled and widely disseminated.

The board also decries the double-standard that exists in the state of Texas:
Last is what amounts to an official, court-sanctioned double standard. Qualifying buyers remain free to obtain mass databases of information collected from licensed drivers including – of all things – dates of birth.
Today, courtesy of the Supreme Court, a watchdog can't lay eyes on a state worker's DOB, but an insurance company can buy it. Absurd.
I agree that the double-standard is a problem.  However, the solution is NOT to allow for wider dissemination of private data.  Instead, the legislature should act to RESTRICT the dissemination of that data.

Security is everyone's responsibility, and what "sticks in the craw" is the whinging attitude of the DMN Editorial Board that they are not getting their way.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

That's going to leave a mark

Drug bust nabs 5 Dallas-area men, $1 million in cash, guns bound for Mexico

In the comments section, commenter "looker" says:
this is not illegal guns or money. it is just:
undocumented guns and
undocumented money.
Yeah, that's going to leave a mark.

The cost of tax cuts

Well, well, well.  It's interesting what you discover when you actually see the numbers associated with various government spending plans.

I've heard nothing but complaining from most on the left with regards to extending the Bush era tax cuts.  "We can't afford to give tax cuts to the rich!!", they say.  I'll ignore for now that this is NOT giving new cuts to anyone, but simply maintaining the current tax rates.  It's claimed that extending the tax cuts will cost over $400 billion and that the country just can't afford that.  This means that we should only preserve the tax cuts for anyone making less than $250,000 a year.

Well, according to this article over on CNN:
The package would extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone for two years, including two years of relief for the middle class from the Alternative Minimum Tax. The estimated cost would be $458 billion, according to earlier numbers from the Treasury Department.
The bulk of that cost -- $383 billion -- is for the extension of cuts for families making less than $250,000. The rest -- roughly $75 billion -- is attributable to the extension of cuts that apply to the highest income families.
Only $75 billion is attributable to the rich?  Really?  That's only 16.4% of the cost.  If they wanted to be brutally honest, we could easily afford those tax breaks.  It's the other $458 billion that we can't afford.

So, how does that $75 billion compare to other measures in the compromise?  The extension of unemployment benefits has a projected cost of $56 billion.  That's 3/4s of the cost of the tax cuts for the rich right there.  Further, as best I understand it, Federal income taxes are not paid on unemployment payments.  Get the unemployment rate down and you have an increase in your tax base as well as a decrease in unemployment benefit expenditures.

The Social Security tax holiday has a cost of $120 billion.  The tax holiday is a 2 point reduction in the Social Security tax rate (4.2% instead of 6.2%).  Cut that in half and you've just about paid for these evil tax cuts for the rich.

The class warfare needs to stop.  As is plainly evident, these tax cuts for the rich are a drop in the overflowing fiscal bucket that is federal spending.  $75 billion will do next to nothing to bring the deficit under control, yet it has become the ultimate show-stopper.  If $75 billion a year were that crucial, then why all the pushback against spending cuts already proposed by Republicans?  Oh, wait, that's right.  Those are "too small", "gimmicky" and "not serious".

Monday, December 6, 2010

Turn out the lights, the party's over ...

"Dandy Don" Meredith passes away at 72

I'll be honest, I wasn't a Cowboys fan growing up.  As a military brat who spent a fair amount of time overseas, there just wasn't an attachment to any pro team.  But having adopted the Cowboys while living in the Dallas area, I quickly came to know about Dandy Don.  The first quarterback for the franchise, signed before Dallas actually even had formal approval for an expansion team.  A star at SMU (who spurned Bear Bryant and my Aggies).  He played all of his home games throughout his entire football career within 100 miles of Dallas (high school, college and professional).  Booth-mate with Howard Cosell.  An old relic from a bygone day.

Turn out the lights, the party's over ...

The Joys of the English Language

"She is going to kill me."

"She is going to be the death of me."

Two sentences, both relating to my (hopefully) unfortunate demise, yet with completely different meanings.

The first typically indicates that someone is upset with me, strongly enough so as to pour me a pair of cement overshoes.

The second typically indicates that someone is vexatious, and a problem, and causes enough angst as to be detrimental to my health.

It's good to keep the standard usages in mind, and not use the former when you mean the latter.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Month Six

Six months ago, on June 5th, I quit smoking.  As I said in my original post, it's hard.  It must be the hardest thing I've ever tried to do.  This is not the longest that I've succeeded in quitting.  I made it 7 months on a previous attempt.  But I've learned some of the pitfalls, and I now know some of the signs.

So far, I've been able to avoid some of the temptations that brought me low before.  It's still hard, very, very, very hard.  There are days when a whiff of cigarette smoke makes me cough and almost physically sick.  There are other days when it seems a breath of fresh air, and I'll try and follow the smoke trail until I realize what I'm doing.

But, I have succeeded so far in that I have not bought a nicotine product, and I have not lit, chewed, dipped or otherwise consumed any since I finished my transdermal patches.

I must say I'm a bit disappointed in that things have not been going as well as I'd hoped they would on the gym front.  I haven't ballooned up like the Michelin Man, but I haven't lost the weight that I wanted to either.  I guess maintaining the status quo has to count as something of a win there.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Range Report, or Making Sarah Brady Cry

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, my Dad and I had the opportunity to take my 12 year old to the range for the very first time.  She was excited about it, and naturally a bit nervous.

My Dad is a member at a very nice outdoor range.  We were able to set up on the 25-meter range and had it all to ourselves.

We started off with a single-shot lever action .22LR rifle.  You open the breech, insert the round, close the breech, and then manually cock the hammer.  Excellent choice for a starter rifle as it gave plenty of safe opportunities for explaining the process and familiarizing her with the weapon.

Papa showing her how to hold and aim the rifle

I was quite impressed with her marksmanship.  The rifle was zeroed at 100 yards, so naturally her shots were landing high.  After she adjusted her aim point down, she started putting rounds right in the center, even without a scope.

There, that's where I hit it

Why yes, that is a bulls-eye I see!!

After she was comfortable with the lever-action, we stepped up to the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22.  This time she got to use a scope instead of iron sights.  The other interesting thing is that she naturally adopted a "sniper's grip", pulling the butt of the weapon into her shoulder with her offhand, instead of gripping the forestock.  It gave her a very stable position.  By the end of the day, she was getting 10-round groups that could be covered with 2 silver dollars (some with just 1 silver dollar).

At the end of the day, Papa let her try a slightly more powerful rifle.  She only sent one round downrange, but had a huge grin on her face the whole time.

My, what a big rifle you have

Perhaps the best part for me was when Papa suggested she could hang her target on the back of her door, and she looked at me with wide eyes and asked "Can I?!?!?".  How in the world do you say no to that?  Personally, I'd much prefer that she hang her targets on the wall than posters of the latest teen idol or boy band :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

New T-shirt slogan or email sig line

From a friend on another mailing list:
 I need a T-shirt that reads:

Fight the Power!
Join Ohm's Resistance!
Yeah, I'd buy that shirt.

Personal Planning Fail

This is going to be a LOOOOOOOOOONG day.

Running late this morning, flew out of the house to catch the bus. Left my music player at home. "No worries", I think. I'll just fire up when I get to the office.

Um, yeah, sorry about that. They've decided to block all music sites. I can understand that. Streaming music chews up bandwidth in a hurry.

So now I'm stuck here without tunes, and some noisy cube-mates. I foresee a distinct lack of productivity today, unless I can happen to find some archived music from my old work PC.

*sets off on a mad hunt for tunes*

UPDATE: Search Failed. I apparently cleaned all my personal music off of my work PC before I moved. Good boy on my part, but now I'm wishing I hadn't.

I repeat: This is going to be a LOOOOOOOOOONG day.

Okay, this is funny

Hey, I'm not a petrochemical engineer.  I've never worked in an oil field or an oil rig.  I'm not professionally trained for disaster or spill response, so I don't feel I have much room to criticize BP in regards to Deepwater Horizon.  All that being said, this is a pretty hilarious video (language warning)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

AT&T Steps in it Big Time

A horrendously implemented AJAX web service exposed information on over 114k iPad subscribers.

The specific information exposed in the breach included subscribers' email addresses, coupled with an associated ID used to authenticate the subscriber on AT&T's network, known as the ICC-ID. ICC-ID stands for integrated circuit card identifier and is used to identify the SIM cards that associate a mobile device with a particular subscriber.

AT&T closed the security hole in recent days, but the victims have been unaware, until now. For a device that has been shipping for barely two months, and in its cellular configuration for barely one, the compromise is a rattling development. The slip up appears to be AT&T's fault at the moment, and it will complicate the company's already fraught relationship with Apple.
This is a huge black eye for both AT&T and Apple.  From a selfish perspective, this might actually drive Apple to finally drop their exclusive agreement with AT&T.  I'd love an iPhone or an iPad, but I don't want to switch carriers.

I feel a disturbance in the force

Some things are just not meant to be.

But, having said that, is it wrong that I want to get those for my girls?

Day 6, and all's (mostly) well

So it's been 6 days now since I quit smoking.  I'm still having moments of sheer terror where I just KNOW if someone offered me a smoke I'd rip it out of their hands, light it with a flamethrower, and inhale any smoke byproducts that might be generated by the process.  But, those moments are starting to be fewer and further in between.

The other thing that's helping is I've started working out again, using a trainer once a week.  I'm tired and sore this morning, but it's that good kind of sore that I vaguely remember from my high school athletics days.  I'll probably never get back into that level of conditioning but I'd settle for reasonably fit.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ah, it's California, home of the sanctuary city.

MSNBC reports:

The San Diego County coroner ruled Wednesday that the death of a Mexican migrant at the U.S. border was a homicide, five days after an American immigration officer shot him with a stun gun.
The cause of death was determined to be a heart attack, with methamphetamine abuse and hypertension listed as contributing factors.
(emphasis mine)

Let's look at the fact pattern, as presented in the story, shall we?  The deceased is an illegal immigrant.  He was caught and deported, and then re-entered the country illegally.  He was caught again and taken to the border to be returned to Mexico.  The cuffs were removed and he attacked the two officers escorting him, who radioed for help.  A responding officer then tased him, at which point he stopped breathing.

Please, someone tell me exactly how this is homicide?  What are they supposed to do?  If the coroner could attribute meth abuse as a contributing factor, what do you figure the odds are that he was hopped up when they arrested him?

Oh, and as for the Mexican government protesting the use of force, what exactly would be the response of the Federales if a foreign national assaulted one of them?  Do you think they'd turn the other cheek?  Would it have been better if the officers had given this guy an acute case of lead poisoning instead?

Now, there very well might be pertinent facts not mentioned in the story that could change my interpretation of the events.  To be honest, I don't put much stock in the assistant Homeland Security Secretary's comment that he's "concerned about the incident".  What else is he supposed to say, especially in this government?

As I sit here now, if I were on the grand jury with this fact pattern, I wouldn't return a bill.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Interesting times", indeed

It seems like incumbents aren't holding (as many) town halls during the current recess.  According to the New York Times:
With images of overheated, finger-waving crowds still seared into their minds from the discontent of last August, many Democrats heeded the advice of party leaders and tried to avoid unscripted question-and-answer sessions. The recommendations were clear: hold events in controlled settings — a bank or credit union, for example — or tour local businesses or participate in community service projects.
And what, pray tell, might they be doing at these invite-only, exclusive "meet and greet" sessions?
This time, a round of applause was followed by a glass of chilled wine, a plate of crackers and crudités as he mingled with an invitation-only audience at the Point Breeze Credit Union, a vastly different scene than last year’s wide-open televised free-for-alls.
With all the strife Obama has taken for his preference to arugula and other fare not considered "of the earth", I find it humorous that other incumbents would repeat that type of menu.  Of course, considering the donors they are courting, I guess a more plebeian menu would be out of the question.

Of course, I never did quite get the ridiculing of the menu.  First, I appreciate good food myself, and arugula is quite tasty.  Second, I understand that at some point, gestures and appearances are important, as much as us "common folk" might resent them.

As Borepatch is wont to say, "The Dinosaurs smell a change in the air, and roar their defiance."

Betrayal of my new home state

According to
Tobacco, in which Kentucky is second only to North Carolina among U.S. producers, has long been the state's chief crop, and it is also its chief farm product[...]
 I started smoking in college, somewhere around 1994 or 1995.  That makes it 15 or 16 years now that I've polluted my body, all the while lying to myself about its effects, or otherwise justifying my habit.

I've tried 4 or 5 times to quit, and man let me tell you, it's hard.  It's probably one of the hardest things I've ever tried to do.  The last time, I made it all the way through the 10-week cycle of transdermal patches, and eventually lasted 7 months until I wimped out again.  The reasons don't really matter.  The way I see it, I failed, and I've probably thought less of myself because of it.

It's an oft-quoted truism that if you get bucked off the horse, the best thing you can do is get right back on.  I didn't, at least not immediately.

I have now rectified that oversight.

I smoked my last cigarette the evening of Friday, 06/04/2010 and slapped on a transdermal patch.  I'm considering Saturday, 06/05/2010 as my official quit date.  It also seems that I unknowingly selected quite the auspicious day to begin a new chapter in my life (Happy Birthday Breda!!!).

I've also joined a gym (through an office discount), I'm working with a personal trainer once a week, and I've set some fitness goals for the next year.  The money I'll save not smoking is paying for the gym and trainer, and that will then pay for itself many times over in the long run.

The King is dead.  Long live the King!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Requiescat in pacem

It started as two men having a friendly chat at a neighborhood bar, but police say within seconds one of them was dead.
 I knew Terry Baird.  We used to live in the same town.  He was a Realtor, and the business turned south.  He was able to land himself another job, in the same general line of work, and ended up moving.

We were both huge Big XII football fans, but for opposite teams.  We spent many a time generally ribbing each other and joshing about whose team was better, and was that a clean hit or not.

We also talked about more serious things.  He had a son (one of three) that had seen some rough times.  The son was straightening things out, and Terry was there to give him a shoulder, a hand, a place to stay.  Life was getting better.

He bought me beers, I bought him beers.  We shared appetizers and arguments.  We always walked away friends at the end of an evening.  I always looked forward to seeing him when our paths next crossed.

It was a bit of a sad day when he moved away, because that meant I wouldn't see him as often.  I enjoyed spending time with him.

Even though I've moved 1,000 miles away, I still remember Terry.  I remember his raspy voice, his joy at going to Austin to see a football game, his excitement at the latest big deal he'd landed.  I remember him agonizing over his son, and wanting to provide as best he could.  I remember him opining about politics, and even sometimes agreeing with him.

In all, I remember enjoying his company, even if we did occasionally curse one another.  After all, what are friends for?

All I know is that today I am saddened, and disgusted, and frustrated.

I hadn't thought of Terry in 7 or 8 months, to be honest.  Well, maybe once or twice as I thought "The next time I'm in town I'll need to swing by and see if he's there."  That won't happen again.  At least, I should say, it won't happen with him on his stool and me on mine.  I guess I'll always know now where I can swing by and see him.

I read a bunch of the local articles today about this, and I scrolled through the comments.  Most everything agrees that it was "senseless".  They weren't arguing, they were just talking.  One commenter opined that it was over a game of pool or a pool table.  Another claimed that he knew the suspect, and that he was mentally unstable and had been in and out of facilities.  I finally had to stop reading, because I realized that IT.  DIDN'T. MATTER!!!!

A good man is dead, for no good reason.  The world is a lesser place because of it.

I pray for Terry's family and friends.  I pray that God will help them understand, as best one can a violent and undeserved end, and most of all help them cope.

Terry Baird - We argued, we disagreed, we laughed and cried and made fun.  While we might not have been friends, we were acquaintances, and I will miss you.

Hook 'em Horns!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Comprehension is apparently a lost art

The following conversation occurred in an email thread:

Me: I cannot ping or browse to the server name you gave me.  Also, I need to know the UNC path to the directory where I'm supposed to drop the files.
Him: (forwarding an old email) You mean this server?
Me: Yes, that one (copies and pastes in the ping results)
Him: Oh, I had a typo in the server name.  Oh, and here's the FTP account information you need.
Me: Um, my process doesn't use FTP.  It uses UNC paths to a file share.  I need either the UNC path or if this process is going to run local on that server, the actual physical path.
Him: FTP is not configured on that server yet, but it's getting set up today.
Me: o.O

Seriously, people.  I've been in 3 meetings for this project, and in each one I specified that the process we're migrating uses UNC, not FTP.  It would require a significant rewrite to get it to use FTP.  I even sent out email messages documenting that requirement.

Reading comprehension is not that difficult.  Oh, and when you are a Business Analyst and part of your job function is gathering and documenting requirements, don't you think it would be a good idea to actually make note of an iron-clad requirement that is called out?

Color me unimpressed with this particular BA.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Schadenfreude, perhaps?

So, when we moved to NKY about 7 months, we first rented a 4-bedroom house.  At the time, it seemed quite the blessing as we the landlord was willing to give us a 6-month lease and allowed pets.  It was perfect for our situation.

As I've blogged before, there were some periodic issues with the landlord, but I decided to write them off.  Come time to move out, however, I was starting to get frustrated.  I sent him our cessation notice, and called several times asking about receiving our refund.  I never received a response.

According to state law, security deposit refunds are due within 2 weeks of move-out.  Needless to say, we did not receive our refund in that specified timeframe.  I called, and I called, and I called, and I never received a response from our landlord.  Upon the advice of my lawyer, I mailed him two copies of a demand letter.  One was sent registered mail, and was sent normal post.  I must confess I didn't understand the reason for sending two letters at first.  However, it soon made sense.  According to, the registered letter still has not been receipted.  I do know that he received the regular letter.

You see, I've been convinced for months that he's been ducking my phone calls.  I always called him from either my mobile or home phone.  Finally, one day about a week ago, I called him from my work phone.  I'd never previously given this number to him.  He actually answered my call.  It went something like this:

Him: "Hello"
Me: "Is this $landlord"
Him: "Yes. . . ."
Me: "This is $merlin. . ."
Him: ". . . . . . . . . . "
(I swear I could her the mental OH ##)(*$@)*#@#$#@#@$) on his part)
Me: "Just wanted to touch base with you as we still haven't received our refund."
Him: "Oh, yeah.  I received your letter.  I'll put the check in the mail tomorrow."

This conversation happened Wednesday evening.  Based on his mailing address (it's one small town over), if he put the check in the mail on Thursday I should have received it today.

I didn't.

I called him this evening and once again rolled over to his voice mail (I've only physically spoken with him on 3 occasions, maybe 4).  I left him a message letting him know that we hadn't received the check and reminding him he had until Monday to get the money to us before I went to small claims court.

Honestly, I didn't expect any sort of response, and fully anticipated having to call him tomorrow as well.

Imagine my surprise when I received a text message from him this evening.  He said that he'd been busy and didn't put the check in the mail today.  We should receive it tomorrow.  I texted back thanking him and letting him know that I'd notify him when I received the check.  He actually responded AGAIN (making 2 times total in 7 months that he'd responded to me, both on the same day) assuring me we'd have it tomorrow.

I think I've finally got this guy running scared.  It's a shame that it took the threat of legal action to get him to comply with his business obligations.  I'll definitely be contacting the local Better Business Bureau and filing a complaint, as much good as that will do.

Oh, and I won't feel completely satisfied until the check has been deposited and cleared.  Not that I'm cynical or anything, but I just don't really trust the guy for some reason.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Riddle me this, Batman.

So, what's the difference between these two things?

  2. FILENAME.txt

Nothing, right, especially if you're on a Windows system?1

Well, according to one of our ASP vendors they are completely different.  We are setting up a new interface with them, and have been testing the process through their automated web-portal upload tool.  Item #2 works just perfectly fine.  However, if we try to upload a file named like Item #1, their portal tells us that it's not a valid text file.

As a developer, this makes absolutely no sense to me.  If you are determining file type based on the extension, instead of inspecting the file itself or letting the user specify the file type, then obviously you're approaching this with a Windows-centric mindset.  After all, file extensions don't have any inherent meaning on UNIX/Linux systems, at least not like on a Windows box.  So, that being the case, how difficult is to either either use a ToUpper() or ToLower() type function on the filename, and then inspect the extension?  To require your clients to meet an arbitrary filename case rule is just asinine.

What makes it even more frustrating is that the application that generates the file is a DOS-based app, so it is going through the DOS command interpreter.  Since the DOS command interpreter does not register an entry for long file name, the file name is automatically converted to all upper-case by the system.  The only way to get the file to load is for the user to manually rename the file, changing the case of the extension.

*mumble* *mutter* GRAH!!!!!!

That is just stupid, horrible, disgusting, nasty code, and this is a major national ASP in this particular product space.  (No, it's not Microsoft).

1For the purposes of this argument I will ignore Posix-compliant filing systems that treat all file names as case-sensitive.  I develop software that runs on Windows systems.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

IE9 Platform Preview Released

Microsoft has released the first Platform Preview for Internet Explorer 9.  Basically, the Platform Preview is not even alpha code.  It's intended for developers only, not end users.  In fact, most of the GUI features are not implemented (there's no address bar, no back button, no tab support, etc).  Microsoft wants developers to use it on their sites, and then provide feedback on how well the render and javascript engines are performing.  Updates are currently planned on an 8 week cycle.

From a standards and performance point of view, there are several interesting things about IE9.  It uses a new scripting engine called Chakra, that is considerably faster than the IE8 engine.  In fact, Microsoft claims that it is faster than Firefox, but still slower than Chrome and Opera.  One of the things Chakra does is compile any javascript on a page to native code instead of running it in interpreted mode.  Also, they've finally decided to adopt support for HTML5, including Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG).  It appears this will finally kill off VML, which has been dead since 1998 but still included in IE.

IE9 will also off-load a lot of the graphical processing to the GPU.  They can apparently leverage the Vista/Windows 7 graphics sub-system, and thus the GPU, to achieve much better performance for multimedia support.  Oh, and it also includes native support for multiple cores.  For instance, Chakra will background compile script code on a separate thread and core from the main IE9 process.

Naturally, no discussion in the article about security holes or patches, or anything they've done to make it more robust in that regard.

Another vehicle recall?

At least this time it's not Toyota:

Japanese car manufacturer Honda has announced it is recalling 410,000 cars in the US because of complaints about their brakes.
The specific complaint is that the brakes are getting mushy.  Honda explains that the problems ". . .were due to the gradual accumulation of air over time in a part of the braking system".

Hello, it's a hydraulic system.  Don't you think integrity of the lines would be a major design consideration?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Karma, Three-fold Rule, Fate, Yin & Yang, Just Desserts. Your choice.

In the process of relocating, we decided to build a house instead of buying a pre-owned home.  We were fortunate enough to find a rental house available where the landlord allowed pets, the backyard was fenced, and the landlord was willing to agree to a 6th month lease instead of the one-year lease most landlords wanted.

Everything was looking good until we moved in.

The rental house was not in the best physical condition, but the roof kept water out and the A/C system kept conditions moderate.  We could struggle through.  First, the landlord only provided us one key and we had to get another key cut.  Then we realized that the garage lock was broken and the garage could not be secured.  The garage door into the house could be locked, but not the outside garage door.  I called the landlord, and he said he'd have a guy come out an install an opener.  I called him back another time or two, having to leave a voice mail each time.  We never did get that garage door opener installed, and I wasn't about to go through the hassle of paying for it myself and deducting it from the rent.

Then, one of the waste water drain lines in the basement started leaking.  Fortunately, it was just a grey water line and not a black water line.  It seems that at some point the pipe had broken off right at the basement foundation or just below it, and someone had just run the world's largest caulk bed around it to seal it up.  Well, that caulk bed started leaking.  Again, I called the landlord and left him several voice mails, and again there was no response.  We resorted to running the dishwasher or washing machine separately, not at the same time, and we started keeping a mop in the basement to periodically push the water to the drain.

Finally, we sent in our 30-day notice with our final rent check.  In that letter, we requested instructions on securing the property, returning the keys to the landlord, and performing our move-out walk-through so we could get our deposit check back.  After 2 weeks, there was no response.  Toward the end of February, we called and left him another voice mail requesting move-out instructions.  No response.  The day before our lease was up, we called again.  Again, no response.

Finally, on the last day of our lease I close and lock all the windows, lock all the doors, and put the keys in a drawer in the kitchen.  I called the landlord one last time and left him a voice mail that we were out of the house and letting him know where I'd placed the keys.  I then called my Realtor and told her the same thing.  Finally, I walked out the garage door, pulled it shut behind me, and verified that the house was properly secured.

My Realtor called me this morning after talking with our landlord.  She wanted to verify where I had put the keys and asked if we happened to still have a key in our possession.  I told her that no, I'd fully secured the house and left all of the keys inside.

Apparently, the landlord only has one key for the property, and it was the one that he gave us when we moved in.

He is now locked out of his own rental property.

Yes, I laughed, out-loud and loudly.

Friday, February 12, 2010

For all you motorcycle riders out there

Twelve Important Things My Motorcycle Has Taught Me
  1. The only good view of a thunderstorm is in your rear view mirror.
  2. Four wheels move the body; two wheels move the soul.
  3. I'd rather be riding my motorcycle and thinking about God, than sitting in church thinking about my bike.
  4. Life may begin at 30, but it doesn't get real interesting until about 75 mph.
  5. Midnight bugs taste just as bad as noon time bugs.
  6. Sometimes it takes a whole tank full of gas before you can think straight.
  7. A bike on the road is worth two in the shed.
  8. Young riders pick a destination and go; old riders pick a direction and go.
  9. When you're riding lead, don't spit.
  10. Catching a yellow jacket in your shirt at 75 mph can double your vocabulary. Catching a yellow jacket in your helmet will triple that special vocabulary.
  11. If you can't get it going with bungee cords and duct tape, it's serious.
  12. Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.
  13. (Bonus) I've never seen a motorcycle parked in front of a psychiatrist's office.

Here are a few more:

  • Sometimes the fastest way to get there is to stop for the night.
  • Always back your bike into the curb and sit where you can see it.
  • Ride to work. Work to ride.
  • Two-lane blacktop isn't a highway - it's an attitude.
  • When you look down the road, it seems to never end; sadly we all come to realize that it does.
  • Winter is nature's way of telling you to test the electrics.
  • Keep your bike in good repair. Motorcycle boots are not all that comfortable for walking.
  • People are like motorcycles; each is customized a bit differently.
  • Sometimes, the best communication happens when you're on separate bikes.
  • Everyone crashes. Some get back on. Some don't. Some can't.
  • You can forget what you do for a living when your knees are in the breeze.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's all the buzz about?

So when I log into GMail today, I see information about a new feature called Buzz.

I'll be honest and state up front I haven't done anything with it yet; all I've done is look at it briefly.  It purports to automatically tie in to any other Google Apps (Picasa, etc.) that you are using.

In short, it looks like this is supposed to be Google's Facebook/Myspace killer.

Not sure if I really need another social application in my life right now, so I probably won't use it much.

This is an odd-ball story if I've ever heard one

From MSNBC's Out of Bounds:
During the fight, Le, 27, was caught in a headlock by Pham and figured the only way to get his attacker to break the hold was to grab his testicles. Really hard.
 I'm cringing just thinking about what happened in that fight.

I think this is proof-positive that there is such a thing as ESP, because every guy I know that's read this story has crouched over in that distinctive protective position that guys know so well.


And how do you explain this to your wife?  "Hey honey, good news!!!  I got that vasectomy we were talking about.  Bad news is I also got arrested, but hey, look on the bright side!"

Monday, February 8, 2010

John Murtha has passed away

From the WaPo:
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), 77, a Vietnam veteran who staunchly supported military spending and became a master of pork-barrel politics, died today at Virginia Hospital Center following gallbladder surgery last month. 

Also, his opponent Bill Russell has released the following statement:
On behalf of Kasia and our entire family, I want to express our deepest sympathy on the passing of Congressman John Murtha. Today’s news will be met with profound sadness by the hundreds of thousands of constituents he served in Johnstown and throughout the 12th Congressional District.

To Joyce, their children and grandchildren, we extend our heartfelt respect as you honor Mr. Murtha’s memory and reflect on his legacy in the upcoming days and months.

Bill Russell
Lt. Colonel USAR (ret)

For me, there is only one answer.

Is Scouting still relevant?


In mesoplagic, sushi eats you!!!

The Beeb reports:
Oarfish (Regalecus glesne) are one of the world's longest fish reaching 17m.

Their strange appearance may have provided the basis for the sea serpent myths told by early ocean travellers.

Not only are they elongated, they also have a prominent dorsal fin which gives it an unusual "serpent" appearance.
This one was estimated between 5m and 10m in length.  I find it interesting that they apparently swim backwards, in a vertical orientation.  So, really, they swim down, tail first.

Very cool stuff.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Programmers with a sense of humor

While fighting a Production Down issue today, we had to stop several application instances that were locked up and not processing correctly.

As the applications shut down, it apparently triggered an error routine, and displayed an error message in an internal subroutine of the application.  No big deal, this happens all the time.

What tickled my funny bone was the name of the method that generated the error:


And, yes, its connection was hosed, because the one of the problems was it had lost connection to the database.

I laughed out loud, literally, and almost bathed my monitor in the finest of office java.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

First Toyota, now GM?

About 900,000 Chevy Cobalts in probe
Some 905,000 Chevrolet Cobalts built between 2005 and 2009 are the subject of a preliminary evaluation by federal officials because of complaints that drivers may lose control of the electronic power steering system.
I don't know which is worse, losing control of the throttle or losing control of the steering system.

I think I'd rather lose control of the throttle.  I can always kill the engine and use the residual hydraulic pressure to stop the vehicle.

Pray for Rep. John Murtha

Rep. John Murtha is in intensive care after surgery
"Congressman Murtha underwent a scheduled laparoscopic surgery to remove his gallbladder last week," his spokesman, Matthew Mazonkey, said in an e-mail. "Complications did arise from the surgery, and he is currently at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington."

I may not agree with his politics, and I might wish that he were no longer serving in the House, but I wish him a speedy and full recovery.

Oh my. I really don't know what to say

Ham-tastic overindulgence

A modern day Mary Celeste?

El Reg has an interesting story today.
Those splendid brainboxes at DARPA - the Pentagon's in-house bazaar of the bizarre - have outdone themselves this time. They now plan an entirely uncrewed, automated ghost frigate able to cruise the oceans of the world for months or years on end without human input.

The new project is called Anti-submarine warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV), and is intended to produce "an X-ship founded on the assumption that no person steps aboard at any point in its operating cycle". The uncrewed frigate would have enough range and endurance for "global, months long deployments with no underway human maintenance", being able to cross oceans largely without any human input - communications back to base would be "intermittent", according to DARPA.
ASW  operations are always dicey.  There can be collisions, there can be escalations, and even if everything goes "normally", there's always the extra tension and stress involved with keeping tabs on a sub-surface foe.

I think this is a pretty significant step forward, if DARPA get it's it working.  I can't imagine they would arm the vessel, unless those weapons systems were under positive human control at all times.  But for tracking and reporting?  Why not?

Oh, and as the article concludes:
Meanwhile, it seems to us that there's only one possible name for the first ghostly, crewless X-ship of the class.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Change I can believe in

Well, well, well.

A workplace policy change that I can fully support.  It seems one of the frequent complaints has been that there are just too many meetings going on, and it makes it hard to get work done.  Sort of reminds me of the old "We'll hold daily status meetings until we're back on schedule" type of attitude.

So, the Big Boss mentioned that other companies have successfully implemented "no meetings" days.  On these days, guess what?  No meetings are held!!!  Novel concept, that, I know.

Anyway, as a trial run, a new policy has been implemented regarding meetings.  Effective immediately, Friday after 1:00 PM is now a "no meeting" time, at least within our department.  If this is successful, it will be expanded to a full day black-out of meetings on Fridays.

This is change I can believe in.

I just wish they'd expand it to "after 4:00 PM" every day.  Nothing worse than a meeting at the end of the day as you're trying to clear your desk.

Yet Another Reason Bacon is of the Gods

From Reuters:
"I've just been told something I didn't know; that eating pork improves your sex life ... I'd say it's a lot nicer to eat a bit of grilled pork than take Viagra," President Cristina Fernandez said to leaders of the pig farming industry.
I guess that's one way to give a lift to the pork industry ;)

The Tea Party Candidate in Kentucky?

Sarah Palin endorses Rand Paul
"National political icon and conservative leader Sarah Palin has endorsed Dr. Rand Paul in his bid for United States Senate from Kentucky. The Paul campaign has received a generous donation from Governor Palin’s PAC.

Sarah Palin has clearly seen that Rand Paul supports smaller, constitutional government and is taking the fight to the career politicians and will shake up the tax and spend crowd in Washington D.C."
Having just moved to the Commonwealth,  I'm not yet up to speed on the various political players, and who's running for what in the mid-terms.  I'm familiar with Rand Paul's father, Ron Paul, from my time in Texas.  If the son is a chip off the old block, I imagine he will be fairly tolerable as a Senator.

Granted, this is the PR announcement from his campaign, and further research is obviously required.  That being said, I do like most of what I've seen poking around his campaign site.

When Technology and Music Unite

Robot Band Backs Pat Metheny on Orchestrion Tour

"Dozens of robotic band members will join jazz guitarist Pat Metheny on his next international tour. It’s the same backup band that accompanied him on his latest album, Orchestrion, producing sounds both familiar and alien."
The leading image is rather quite astonishing.  This is not just the same as pre-recording tracks and playing them back on electronic player pianos, or using mix-down tricks and fancy video editing.  While he's played all the tracks himself, they music is mechanically recreated during the performance.

“It’s not samples, it’s not looping — it’s something else. This is me playing with dozens of me in real time, and that’s a new thing,” Metheny told during an interview in the large rehearsal space his robots require, a desanctified church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn."
Here's a video of the band in action.

Quotes of the Day

I've seen a number of these before, but some were new to me.  For your enjoyment:

  • "Except For Ending Slavery, Fascism, Nazism and Communism, WAR has Never Solved Anything."
  • "Stop Global Whining"
  • "When In Doubt, Empty The Magazine"
  • "The Marine Corps - When It Absolutely, Positively Has To Be Destroyed Overnight"
  • "Death Smiles At Everyone - Marines Smile Back"
  • "Marine Sniper - You can run, but you'll just die tired!"
  • "What Do I Feel When I Kill A Terrorist? A Little Recoil"
  • "Marines - Providing Enemies of America an Opportunity To Die For their Country Since 1775"
  • "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Anyone Who Threatens It"
  • "Happiness Is A Belt-Fed Weapon"
  • "Artillery Brings Dignity to What Would Otherwise Be Just A Vulgar Brawl"
  • "One Shot, Twelve Kills - U.S. Naval Gun Fire Support"
  • "My Kid Fought In Iraq So Your Kid Can Party In College"
  • "Machine Gunners - Accuracy By Volume"
  • "A Dead Enemy Is A Peaceful Enemy - Blessed Be The Peacemakers"
  • "If You Can Read This, Thank A Teacher. If You Can Read It In English, Thank A Veteran"
  • "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. The Marines don't have that problem." ...Ronald Reagan

Friday, January 29, 2010

The joys of being a techie

Apparently, when you have a sub-directory underneath FTPROOT with a given name, and you also define a named FTP site alias using the same name as the sub-directory, it helps if you actually point the FTP alias to the full physical path, instead of just back to FTPROOT.

I just spent a loverly 30 minutes trying to figure out why a "cd \path" wasn't doing anything, but a "cd path" was (note the missing backslash in the path).

Ah well, at least it's working now.

Is it the start of another political dynasty?

or just another family squabble in D.C.?

"Genealogists said Friday the Democratic president and the newly elected Massachusetts senator, Scott Brown, are 10th cousins.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society said Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and Brown's mother, Judith Ann Rugg, both descend from Richard Singletary of Haverhill, Mass."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Um, hello? It's city equipment.

It seems that a fire-fighters union here in NKY doesn't like the new ambulance.

Their primary argument is centered around concerns about lawsuits being brought under HIPAA patient privacy regulations.  However, I believe this is a red herring.  They just don't want to be recorded.

I find this very similar to a story Jay G posted the other day about cops not wanting GPS units installed in their cruisers.  I think some of the same arguments apply here.

It's city equipment.  They have a right to install monitoring equipment to protect the city, its employees and its citizens.  Further, as the city attorney pointed out, HIPAA doesn't bar videotaping of patients.

Besides, to me it seems that the medicos would welcome the video equipment.  It gives them solid evidence when they are accused of medical malpractice.

Just another case of the inmates (unions) running the asylum.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The new government health plan

It seems that with the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts, the Federal Government is having to revise its proposed health care bill.

While it appears that they've given up on a complete overhaul, they are still looking to "bend the curve" and find cost savings in the industry.  Well, I guess you could call them cost savings.  They're also apparently trying to increase Federal revenues to pay for the program.  As has often been repeated, one of the problems with the current medical climate is that there are a lot of unnecessary, agressive, procedures performed.  Some have characterized this as "defensive medicince".  There is a body of literature that shows that normal, everyday prophylactic actions are just as effective as using the latest name-brand treatment.  As such, there is a push to return to commone-sense approaches to the treatment of illnesses and ailments.

Never one to let a good crisis go to waste, the current crop of legislators in Washington have decided that another tax is appropriate.  Just like any sin tax that they've already instituted, they've also decided on a self-medication tax.

Their number one target?

Aspirin.  Acetylsalicylic Acid.  Generic pain relievers.  Over-the-counter medications.

There are two reasons for this choice of a new class of products to tax:

  1. It's a conservative approach to treatment
  2. It works
 I'll be here all week.  Try the veal, it's excellent.

EDITED: It has come to my attention that some individuals felt that my previous version could be considered racist.  That was the furthest thought from my mind when I penned this missive.  In fact, I abhor racism in all its forms, and personally did not consider the joke to be such.  I honestly thought that I was merely tapping into a latent sentiment in the populace.  Perhaps that sentiment has elements of racism at its core.  So, considering that, I've reworked the joke.  If I offended anyone, I sincerely apologize.  It was absolutely not my intent.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The mail came, the mail came!!

Okay, I'll admit it.  I'm usually not this excited about the mail because it's usually just bills and junk mail.  Sometimes I have some cool geeky kit coming, and that's always fun.

But today, I received something I've never ever received in the mail before.  It's an absolute first for me, and it's something I've been working on for 17 years.  So, without further ado:

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Wedding has been canceled?

I certainly hope not!!

From their website, Christian band The Wedding reports that:
"In San Antonio, TX around 1-3pm our van was broken into, evey single computer and contents in the van and all backpacks were stolen and not covered under insurance. This includes personal information and thousands upon thousands of dollars of items."
 Very much not cool.

Another Massachusetts miracle?

As Jay G would say:


Paging Mr. Murphy. Mr. Murphy, please answer.

So we moved to the greatness of Northern Kentucky about 4 months ago.  Once it started getting colder, the missus noticed that wonderful aroma of gasoline in the cabin of her van.  After a little poking and prodding around the internet (hey, I don't know enough to poke and prod under the hood), it seems the general consensus is that it was most likely the fuel pressure regulator leaking.  It seems that cold weather exacerbates this condition.

We finally found a mechanic with good references and got the van in this morning to be looked at.  Sure enough, the fuel pressure regulator does need to be replaced.  Apparently, so too do the injector o-rings, the upper manifold intake gasket, a coolant hose, a missing motor mount bolt, and one or two other things I don't remember at the moment.  Oh, yeah, we also had a small oil leak we wanted them to locate.  Turns out the oil pan gasket is bad and needs to be replaced.

Grand total will be just south of $1,500.


Four or five years ago my response would have been, "Well, time to shop for a new vehicle."  However, my attitude has slowly changed (and been changed) in the interegnum.  The vehicle is paid for, and has right at 110,000 miles on the odometer.  We did have to have the upper intake manifold gasket replaced around 60k as well, and the mechanic indicated that it's a pretty common repair on our vehicle (Chevy Venture).  So, I can shell out $1,500 and have a vehicle that's pretty good to go for the next 3 - 5 years, or I can take on a car payment.

Let's look at some numbers.  We bought this van for about 18k used, so I'll run with that for what it would cost us to find another quality used vehicle that meets the needs of our family.  My bank is currently offering auto loans on used vehicles at 5.69%.  If I finance for 60 months, that's $347 a month.  Over the loan period, I'll pay out almost 21k.  Or, I can pay out the $1,500 and get it repaired.  That's the equivalent of 4 of those loan payments, and I'll still have a paid-for car.

Yeah, sometimes I get the itch to have better/nicer/fancier wheels.  My wife sometimes gets feature envy seeing some of the newer vehicles with power sliding this, and power folding that.  Heck, I do too.  But ya know, both of my vehicles are paid for.  In fact, we don't have any debt at all right now.  No credit cards, no car payments, no student loans, nothing.  Now, that does change in about 6 weeks when our house is built but even then, the only debt we'll have is the mortgage.  Oh, and we have almost enough in our emergency fund to pay for the car repairs.

Long story short?  Cash is king, and I have (newly) found aversion to debt.  It's amazing how much money is left over at the end of the month when you're not sending it all off to the banks.  I like it much better than having too much month left at the end of the money.  Instead of taking on more debt, I'll get the engine work done now (~$800) and in a month or two I'll get the oil pan gasket fixed.  If I time it right, I'll just do that instead of the next scheduled oil change, and kill two birds with one stone :)

So, Mr. Murphy?  I know you knocked on the door, but I don't feel like answering right now.  I'm too busy getting on with my life.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

*tap* *tap* Is this thing on?

After spending so much time reading other blogs, and shouting my own opinions at my monitor, I've decided perhaps I can inflict my twisted sense of the world on others.

So, welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere.

[EDIT] Oh, and I should point out that the existence of this waste of your time is primarily the fault of MArooned.