Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Just what is an "assault weapon"?

Especially compelling is the bit that starts around 7:30, when he changes the stock on a .223 rifle.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

All your bass are belong to us

Presented for your viewing and listening pleasure:

The long, slow march through the adipocytes

Since I was diagnosed with gout, I have made several lifestyle changes. The biggest one concerns my diet. Gone is the alcohol. I've dramatically cut back on portion sizes, and reduce my calorie intake.

The net result?

I've lost approximately 15 pounds since February 1st, and I'm well on my way to my (current1) goal weight of 170 pounds.

You'll notice I've added a new badge over to the right labeled "My Hacker's Diet". I'm using a online tool called, you guessed it, The Hacker's Diet. Long story short, an exec at Autodesk got tired of being overweight, and decided to approach weight-loss as an engineering problem. If calories-in is less than calories-burned plus calories-out, you will lose weight. To help keep you on track, he uses statistical modeling methods to show your weight trend over time, instead of just focusing on daily fluctuations. The badge shows my trend for the last week.

Here is my log for February (actually the current month, this will change as the month rolls over).

Here is the online toolkit he's made available.

Let me point out that this starts with my weight at ~193. I'd already lost almost 10 pounds before I started using this tool, but I didn't have daily weight data, so I just started on the 7th.

1Right now I want to get down to 170. Once I reach that goal, I'll reevaluate and determine if I want to get down in the 150-160 range or not. I despair of ever seeing my high school weight of 130 again.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What century am I in again?

A work project I'm one entails migrating old applications to new servers. Our base server install these days is Windows 2008 R2. For those not in the know, this is a 64-bit OS only. You can run 32-bit applications, but the OS itself installs as 64-bit mode, and 32-bit support (especially for older applications) can be spotty.

To help mitigate some of the 32-bit issues, you can specify that certain applications run in compatibility mode. The system includes a number of predefined compatibility levels, from Windows XP SP3 all the way back to Windows 95.

One application that we're migrating is getting rather long in the tooth, but it still does the job. As such, there is just no impetus to actually upgrade. Instead, we're trying to just make it work in the new server environment. In order to get the application installed, I had to run the installer itself in Windows XP SP3 compatibility mode.

Everything seemed to install without a problem, but when I tried to launch the app, it kept crashing out. I realized I forgot to set the compatibility mode, so I went into the properties and set it to Windows XP SP3.

No joy.

Windows XP SP2.

No joy.

Windows 2000.

No joy.

At this point, I'm really starting to get frustrated.

Windows NT 4.

No joy.

Guess what ladies and gentlemen?

I had to dial the application compatibility all the way back to Windows 95 in order to get this thing to work.

Remind me again what century I'm in?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Going on a date

My lovely wife has graciously agreed to go on a date with me. And since I had plenty of vacation time sitting around doing nothing, I decided to spend a day with her while the kids are at school.

What are we going to be doing today, you ask?

How do you spell *kaboom*?

We'll also be renting some 9mm pistols.

Life is good.

Star Wars in Iconoscope

From a mailing list that I'm on:

Star Wars retold in Iconoscope

Scene 25 made me laugh out loud.

That is just too cool, but in truth, it's also inside baseball. If you haven't seen the movie, I don't think you'd really understand the whole thing.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cool Computer Tools You Can Use

Ever wanted to know what the color code was for that graphic on your monitor?

Trying to match the color of a logo you found a website?

Need to know the RGB value of that flower in a picture?

ColorPic is a cool little tool that I found today that lets you figure all that out. It has multiple "chips" (think of them as color slots) that you can use to grab colors and build a palette. It also includes a magnifier section so you see exactly what pixel you're grabbing. You can change the zoom level, and use the arrow keys to more accurately grab the exact pixel you want.

Once you've grabbed a color, it provides all the standard representations: Hex, Decimal, and RGB. You can then plug those in to just about any graphics program.

Also, because it lets you grab colors from your workspace, you don't have to download graphics from a website to load them into your graphics editor. It scrapes the values straight from your display, so if you can see it, you can grab the color from it.

It's not going to revolutionize the world, but when you really, really, really want to know what that color is, this will do the job for you.

Upgrading the Castle Defense

It seems that surveillance footage of the Castle has been released, and the Gormogons are busy upgrading its defenses:

*pew* *pew* *pew*

Definition of Force

I might have to order one of these for Dr. J and have it shipped to the Castle:


One of my favorite songs by Rich Mullins is "Creed".

The song is based on the Apostles' Creed, which is very similar to the Nicene Creed. From what I can tell, they are theologically very similar, if not identical. The differences seem to be more linguistic and grammatical.

The Creed says:

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.

Enjoy the song:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Everyday carry. . . .

. . . . tool ring?

Courtesy of the Discovery Channel, we learn about a titanium and steel "tool ring kit" that weighs in at a meager 2 ounces.

Say hello to my lightweight friend
It includes a prybar, tweezers, common and Phillips tip screwdrivers, and a capsule lighter.

I could either put that on my keyring in my pocket, or hang it from the keyring clip in the front pocket of my backpack. Yeah, it's $45 or so, but it looks fairly usable.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Well there's your problem, Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington

The Cincinnati Enquirer has a blog post up about Kentucky legislators signing on to a brief in opposition to the constitutionality of the ACA.

I don't this lawmaker quite gets it.
Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, said the Republican lawmakers opposition to the reform could strike a blow at a health care law that benefits many in Kentucky, including families who can now keep their children on their workplace insurance plans until they reach 26 years old.
“It kind of makes me crazy when Kentucky legislators in particular rail against the federal government and what it does,” Stein said. “Don’t thy [sic] recognize that we’re not a donor state to the federal government? We receive. We get lots of money back, more than the taxes we send in. And until folks realize that, I don’t believe we can have an intelligent debate about it.”
(emphasis mine)

Yes, they do recognize that Kentucky is a recipient state. That means that we have effectively robbed other states to line our coffers. The Federal government is overspending revenues, which means we go more and more into debt every single day.

But because we are a recipient state, it's okay? Because we're doing better than the other guy, it's okay? Because other states have fewer funds to support their own residents, it's okay?

Well guess what, Senator Stein. I DON'T think it's okay that Kentucky is a recipient state. I DON'T think it's okay that because of programs like the ACA, the Federal government is spending money faster than it can rake it in. Something's got to give. We either get our fiscal house in order, or we'll soon see the local coal industry crater because it will be cheaper for everyone to burn their paper currency for heat.

The future of the Kentucky energy economy?

A closer look at Santorum

Ramesh Ponnuru thinks Santorum is Romney's toughest primary challenger by far.
Unlike Perry, Santorum is articulate. Unlike Cain, he has political experience and knowledge of public policy. Unlike Gingrich, he has a personal life that seems to be above reproach. Romney has no advantage over Santorum in any of these respects.
Romney has cited his victory in a statewide election in a blue state to make the case that he can appeal beyond the party’s base. That’s something neither Perry nor Cain nor Gingrich could say. Santorum, on the other hand, won statewide in Pennsylvania (BEESPA), which hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 24 years. And he did it twice.
 Please read the whole thing. I know that a number of people are put off by Santorum's strong social conservative streak, and worry that he will try to regulate the bedroom from Washington, D.C. Personally, I don't think that's a valid concern. Granted, I tend to agree with him in general on those issues at a personal level, but I don't think it's any business of

I think Santorum is the better all-around conservative candidate, and will display better fiscal discipline than Romney.

But you know the nice thing about elections? We all get to make our own choice, and there's this wonderful thing called the secret ballot.

All I ask is that you show up and vote your conscience.

Attempted murder

25 to life?
(from Facebook)

One venti Blonde, please

Ahhhhh, the sweet taste of personal freedom
I participated in the Starbuck's Buycott this morning on the way into the office. Only $2.25, but it's the point the counts right?

Oh, and as for the NGVAC and their lovely little Open Letter to Starbucks?

First, saying your letter is from the "faith community" is disingenuous, bordering on outright deceitful. I consider myself part of the faith community, and your letter in no way represents me.

Second, I find the logical disconnect quite amusing and ironic. First, you praise Starbucks for standing up on the same-sex marriage front, advocating for a group of people to have the same rights as everyone else, and for the government to keep its nose out of their business. In other words, you laud them for advocating for individual freedoms across the board. Then, you excoriate Starbucks for not restricting the rights of another group of people.

I would have a lot more respect for your organization1 if you would at least present a coherent and consistent message. Either individual liberty is important, or the government and organizations should be able to run roughshod over whatever group it chooses whenever it wants.

1Granted, since we're starting at zero respect, any increase at all would be "a lot more", and the percentage increase itself would be mathematically impossible to calculate, but I doubt you understand that concept either.

Hair Club for Vikings and Dwarves

Are you a less-than-hirsute dwarf? Do all of your friends laugh at you because you can't carry three meals worth of crumbs in your beard?

Do all the Viking longships pick you last, because they're embarrassed to look at you? Do the women have longer chin hairs than you do?

Well never fear, there is a solution!!

Introducing the Hair Club for Vikings and Dwarves

Working to your own demise

I am currently reading "In the Grip of Grace" by Max Lucado. The book is a study of God's grace as revealed in the book of Romans. Lucado has identified three personalities that reject God's grace, and try to do thing their own way: the Hedonist, the Judgmentalist, and the Legalist.

Chapter 3 is about Godless Living, and includes a section titled "We Lose Our Standard." Lucado quotes Dostoevsky: "If God is dead, then everything is justifiable."

Members of the Occupy movement and the Progressive movement would have us believe that corporations are  evil and the root of all the world's problems. At the same time, they rail against the Church, and God, and His teachings, claiming there is no place for Him in our society.

I would argue that corporations are NOT evil. Rather, the rejection of God has allowed for the acceptance of the hedonistic, judgmental, and legalistic lifestyles. The behavior of some corporations (which are nothing more than an association of people) is a direct result of that. The answer is not to do it again, only harder, by piling on more regulations and more punishment.

Instead, a return to first principles is what is required. A fundamental shift of the mindset of this country is needed. If individuals would take care of themselves first, and their neighbors second, this bloated monstrosity we currently have in Washington, D.C. would no longer be needed. Then comes the hard part: killing the monster.

But that's a discussion for another day.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The week my life changed

A beautiful Tuesday morning, and I was sitting in the exam room at the clinic, my left foot in a walking boot, unable to put any pressure on my big toe at all. The joint was inflamed, tender, and sore. It had a bright red color that screamed infection, and it was warm enough I could have toasted a marshmallow over it. I had a pretty good idea what the diagnosis would be, and the doctor didn't disappoint. 37 years young and I have gout.

This is probably the most painful physical affliction I have ever had. I don't think I would wish this on my worst enemy. I spent a week in a walking boot when I had to move, or laying on the couch with my foot propped up when I didn't. I was taking ibuprofen like it was candy, and it barely touched the pain. A round of corticosteroids finally got the inflammation under control, and I can finally wear regular shoes again.

Naturally, I got the lecture from the doctor about lifestyle changes. I need to lose weight (5' 6" short, I clocked in north of 200 lbs on their scale that morning). I need to cut back on my protein, because that's one of the main sources of uric acid in your body. Drink lots of fluids, because proper hydration helps your kidneys flush the acid from your system. Definitely cut out the beer, and should really just cut out all alcohol period.

Over the next few days, my wife and I spent a lot of time talking to people, and researching "gout-safe diets" online. A veritable ocean of information, a lot of it contradictory and confusing. But there was one constant in all of it: Cut out the alcohol, especially beer.

I slowly came to a realization. I was spending as much time trying to figure what alcohol, in what quantities, I could still have in my diet as I was trying to figure what foods I could and couldn't eat. This was very eye-opening. Here I was, with a health issue that can be very debilitating, and I couldn't just say "Okay, no more of that" to one of the major catalysts of the problem.

Houston, we have a problem.

A gorgeous Sunday morning, and I was sitting in worship with my wife. Our church is going through a time of change. Our Senior Pastor retiring, and the Pastor Search Committee came forward with a recommendation for a candidate. He would be coming the next week to preach in view of a call (that's Baptist-speak for "interview for the job" or "audition for the job"). The interim pastor was wrapping up his sermon and leading up to the altar call, and asked that everyone physically able come down front to pray for the church, for the candidate, and for the selection process. We stood up and walked down front with the rest of the congregation, but I didn't head for the altar. Grabbing my wife's hand, and apologizing left and right as we weaved through the crowd, I headed for one of the pastors. I had a confession to make.

Hi, my name's Matt and I'm a believer in Christ that struggles with alcoholism. For me, at least, there is no such as casual drinking. When I care more about the next drink than I do about what's best for my health, it's serious.

It has now been over a week and a half since I've had a drink. I have started trying to study my bible and pray every day. It's hard, but in the end it's worth it. With my dietary changes and quitting alcohol, I'm already down to 190 pounds, well on my way to my current goal weight of 170. My attitude has improved, and my wife says that I'm more pleasant to be around these days.

The biggest thing I've learned about myself so far is that it's hard admitting I don't have it all together, that I can't do it all myself. I want approbation. I want people to think I'm in control and under control, forgetting that we are all broken, that we are all sinners, that we all fall short of God's perfection. I finally came to that point of brokenness that Sunday morning, and that has made all the difference.

Here are a few verses that have really touched my heart this week.

"I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him"
Isaiah 57:18

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us -- whatever we ask -- we know that we have what we asked of him."
1 John 5:14-15

"Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer."
Psalm 4:1

"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."
Job 23:10

"Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught."
Psalm 55:1-2

Friday, February 3, 2012

Girls or Guns - A Top 10 List

#10 – You can trade an old 44 for a new 22.
#9 – You can keep one gun at home and have another for when you’re on the road.
#8 – If you admire a friend’s gun and tell him so, he will probably let you try it out a few times.
#7 – Your primary gun doesn’t mind if you keep another gun for a backup.
#6 – Your gun will stay with you even if you run out of ammo.
#5 – A gun doesn’t take up a lot of closet space.
#4 – Guns function normally every day of the month.
#3 – A gun doesn’t ask, "Do these new grips make me look fat?"
#2 – A gun doesn’t mind if you go to sleep after you use it.

And the number one reason why men prefer guns over women…

#1 – You can buy a silencer for a gun.

(h/t to Ordnance Corner)

Achievement Unlocked!

There's just way too much truth in this:

A few of my favorites to whet your appetite:

Go check out the full list. As he says, if you've been in IT or a technical field for any amount of time, I'm sure you can relate.