Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The Treo is a wonderful tool. I have a lot of nice things to say about it.

User-friendly, it ain't.


The desktop software is...um...fragile, the user interface less than intuitive, and the firmware update process is lengthy and painful...yet somehow less painful than a Blackberry.

On the other hand, with the PalmOS especially, there is a simply huge array of software out there to meet the entertainment or professional needs of most anyone, and a strong selection of e-books (both references and fiction) as well.

With my little beastie I email, phone, text message, send photo's back and forth, take notes, log into servers on the command line, and generally stay in touch. Yet after 5 hrs spent de-bugging and updating...I'm a bit cranky when I realize I've another one just like it ahead of me tomorrow....

Still and all, I do like the functionality when it works...though I'll admit looking lustily at the Motorola Q Phones yesterday morning for their more slender form factor...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Notes & Scribblings

Just back from the Big City Donut Repository getting all fingerprinted and stuff, and just as I finish nibbling at lunch, I get a call-back from the nice lady who fingerprinted me, telling me that *just like I said* she'd fingerprinted my left index as my left middle finger, and she needed me to come back to restart the whole process.

Picking up my CPL now that I'm back in a state that issues them on a realistic basis is somewhat trying, but now that the process has begun, it feels good to know that in 30 days or so I'll again be all good (they could issue it faster - and many departments do, but after all, this is Bigger City PD...that only issues them at all because they are required to do so by state law...so drags their feet as much as possible)...so, back in tomorrow at 0830 to beat the rush.

The nice the about the BCDR is that unlike many modern municipal buildings, this one actually has a bit of class and art to it - from the brass basketweave door handles and wall sculpture to the bronze jailers keys and patrol officers cap mounted on marble, the lobby presents a respectful tribute to officers past and present.

I'm a somewhat crude soul and history junkie, so would have liked to see garrison-stacked batons used over the period of the departments existence, as well as a display of issue arms...but one can't have everything. Similarly, uniforms representative of the various era would have been a nice touch.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

What the #$%^%?

Courtesy of Drudge, back to "The Hill" , we get the headline Anti-war protesters spray paint Capitol building. What the #$^%?

Can somebody please explain to me why, in heavens name, the Chief of the Capitol Police *ordered* officers to pull back, allow the desecration of the Capitol, weaken their perimeter, and barred them from making arrests? Officers forced to stand and watch, no arrests made, as protesters have PHOTO'S taken with their handiwork?

At what point is a serious response merited? When they reach the Senate floor?

Somehow I don't think having a bunch of protesters served up an improved opportunity to take the Capitol Building is the best of all possible notions, and if the protesters want confrontation, let'm have it..and if that means marching in infantry with Blackhawks hovering overhead because the leadership of the Capitol Police or the DC Police won't or aren't allowed to do their jobs, well, so be it.

Officers reportedly were seriously peeved at the orders, which seems kind of reasonable to me.

As a voter, and an American, I'm beyond peeved. I'm furious.

First Amendment freedoms to me means they can traipse up and down the street shrieking slogans and waving signs, but a fundamental line is crossed when the question of the safety of the Capitol, the White House, or the Supreme Court comes into play. First Amendment rights *don't* include violating legitimate security perimeters, spray-painting the Capitol, and particularly don't include taking over the Capitol (which little bonus we somehow missed out on).

*Curmudgeon Mode: OFF*


Blogroller is challenging me.

On the other hand, it's been a good day and I've been of service to the community in a small way (sponsoring a brunch) and helped a friend stay sane while moving...and I found some seriously cheap plant stands that'll double as a night stand for my bed (36" bed top to floor, 24" nightstand top to floor - doesn't work real well) - the plant stands are reasonably attractive (if small), and of the appropriate height. It's GOOD to have a place to put the glasses at night that doesn't involve stumbling across the room in the dark, interspersed with occasional curses.

While I was out and about with my friend moving him from the shadow of the Evil Software Empire to the Big City, we popped in for Thai food to stave off collapse...and discovered his fave place was one of a chain owned by an ex of mine's family.

We broke up a little over 11 years ago, and I am pleased to get word he is still doing well, though not in any detail. All things considered, I may make the effort to get back in touch and see what is new in his world.

Next a run to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to help my friend, a self-described "Spoiled Bitch", select new kitchen and cooking ware and sundry other little necessities - something about wanting at least one dish in the house that isn't chipped or cracked. He has many skills and talents, but fine motor control eludes him from time to time...and he's decided to be a grown up and start exploring this strange new concept, cooking, in lieu of restaurants - thus the shopping expedition.

Finally, back to the Big City and eventually home...it's an adventure, helping a brilliant geek transform his living space from heated storage & study unit to a functional home. :)

Why libertarian?

Because prohibition, time and again in multiple places and locations, has been shown to not merely fail in it's goal as a strategy (frequently the banned commodity is MORE in demand/available than when the fun began), but to create nasty black markets with regrettably violent conflict resolution techniques.

Because it's none of my (or anyone elses) business which consenting adults engage in recreational lechery together.

Because anything an individual can screw up, a group of individuals with the might of government behind them can screw up on a far grander scale. Groups are seldom brighter than the dimmest member of the group, merely having more resources with which to act badly.

Because religion and government are both mutually toxic and tend to splatter.

Because freedom of speech, thought, the press, etc are important.

Because privacy is important, regardless of the whimsy of the day.

Because despite noble intentions to the contrary, surviving the two-legged critters and life generally with minimal damage comes down to individual responsibility 90% of the time - and I don't like folks that would limit my tool set.

Because I can spend my own money, thank you very much. Why, I can even choose the charities I want to support.

A partial list, but on a pre-brunch Sunday morning ...
I am:
William Gibson
The chief instigator of the "cyberpunk" wave of the 1980s, his razzle-dazzle futuristic intrigues were, for a while, the most imitated work in science fiction.

Which science fiction writer are you?

Surprising little meme I found over at Anarchangel; I woulda thunk L. Neil Smith, given my loosely libertarian views.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I remember when....

I lived in a little college town out in Beyond Familiar Environs and worked a couple of jobs - dispatch for the college in a work study position and littlest bouncer in a college bar that sat three hundred or so, with live music three nights a week to keep things interesting. I was majoring in accounting, life lessons, and the pursuit of quality beer.

I am not now, and have not since my 15th birthday been a particularly petite person. At the time I stood 6'2" and clocked in around 240lbs or so..and had just finished up 4 years of campus security and bank courier work off in Lower East Hicksnittle. Our large bouncer stood about 7' Omigawd...

There were six of us most nights, and we weren't known for our subtle conversational technique. It helped that the sports teams liked us, probably because there wasn't anyplace else both big enough and friendly enough to relax even when the music was playing. It helped a lot when you realize that our main clientele was 21-25yo and busy at discovering their social limits utilizing a test-to-destruction experimental regimen.

The night in question, we had a little problem. New gal in the bar, a bit older than we were used to seeing, got a bit drunk and cut off. We tossed her for the evening, but she kept wandering back in and making off with customers drinks...not good, starts fights.

After about Round III of drunk tossing, the bar owner had enough and summoned the local officers. Now by my lights, cops in a college town deserve bonus points for tolerating excess B.S., but we were all amazed at the exciting new technique demonstrated before our wondering eyes...

Two officers and a sergeant come rolling up, and the officers latch onto our light-fingered lush and bums rush her out the front door...head first, before assisting her in high speed patrol car paint inspection, slapping on the bracelets, and tossing her across the back seat.

Owner never could leave well enough alone. He sidles up to the sergeant and asks from behind a beard of viking proportions, "Um...was that where we screwed up? We were to gentle?"

Methinks someone was having a bad night.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Affirmative Action...Oy...

The NY Times publishes an article this date going on at great length about the various Anti-Affirmative Action initiatives (Michigan just passed one, inspiring this article) rolling to, and successfully through, the polls of late. Many professors bemoan at great length the resulting "lack of diversity", as they discuss many and creative ways to evade the spirit and letter of the new laws...

I'm curious though - when did it become the job of publicly funded universities to be either diverse or racially balanced? I've always thought that the number of seats at those Universities was a rationed and expensive resource (otherwise, let's ALL quit our jobs and go back to college! YAY!). In that context, given the nature of a rationed resource, I would argue that admissions to tax-funded institutions on a subsidized basis (hey, paying full-ride non-resident tuition is a whole different matter - I'm talking tax dollars here) should and must be on the basis of academic scores and history on the pro side, and prior criminal convictions or bad history on the negative side...that the limited public resource should be pointed to where the best bet of a successful student lays.

And then there's the point of not being racist/sexist/etc was you didn't pay attention to those factors and let folks succeed or fail on their own merits - for when we vary from that, are we not saying to those we "favor" that "because you're a member of a socioethnic group that is too dumb/evil/lazy/unmotivated, we'll cut you some extra slack"? Umm. Last I heard IQ wasn't tied to race/gender/orientation, and I think the suggestion that it is, is just a bit insulting.

Equal opportunity I can support wholeheartedly, with enthusiasm - where I have a whole bunch of difficulty is "we're not doing Affirmative Action, we're just focusing all our recruiting efforts and handing out a disparate percentage of our applications at minority schools", or more blatantly, good old fashioned Affirmative Action which logically is nothing more than reverse racism in action with "good intentions" sprinkled on top.

Good intentions are a *hint* of a bankrupt program or initiative...any time you hear "but this is to correct a historic wrong", "For the good of the children", "to achieve a diverse student population", or "for their own good" it should be a sign of a failed (or about to fail) effort to engage in conduct that would be reprehensible under any other circumstances.

A state-funded college or university should offer a simple two-track admission process for freshman - funded and non-funded. Non-funded is wide open to anyone who can pay the full cost (i.e., w/o subsidy) of their education, much like a private institution; funded is similar to what we see today (subsidies of up to 80% out of tax dollars, depending on the state), and should remain open on a basis of high school GPA and (perhaps) military service. Transfer students are a different critter for discussion on another day...

*Curmudgeon Mode: OFF*

Thursday, January 25, 2007

PawPaw's House: That's one less.

PawPaw's House: That's one less.

Another comment on Bill Richardson, NM Governor. I'm not usually a big fan of Democrats (what with their usual thing for Enhanced Victim Vulnerability), but Richardson as I've commented before seems to be an exception to that rule.

The question remains if he would have the intestinal fortitude to tell the congressional leadership of his party to bugger right off when it comes to tax, regulatory, and 2A issues...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Network Security/Information Security

Anarchangel has a most excellent post on the topic, expressing succinctly and at greater depth than I feel capable, and bringing far more experience to the topic. Very nearly at the "read it, live it, love it" level.

Collage Blogging

A little bit of this, a little bit of that...today we are doing fractured fragments...

One of the first bits of software, right after the anti-virus goodness, that I load on a new WinPC is Roxio CD/DVD Creator - unlike the various & lesser varieties of CD/DVD burning software, Roxio has a delightfully simple user interface, and can handle projects ranging from basic to complex without blinking. Nero is only installed as a cruel practical joke. Regarding burning a *legally acquired* movie for backup purposes under fair use, recall that most DVD's implement one or more forms of crippleware (aka DRM, Digital Rights Management) that is designed to defeat such efforts - software workarounds exist, but the annoyance factor is significant.

Isaiah Washington over on Grey's Anatomy allegedly either used the word "Fag" or called his gay co-star T.R. Knight a fag. For an awful lot of us, "fag" is at the same level as "nigger" or "wetback" are for others - if it's called across the room in an unfamiliar voice, that extra special "oh, this is gonna get ugly and is my health insurance premium paid up?" tingle goes down the spine as visions of bashings go dancing across our memories - and that dance, once commenced, even the winners lose. But I think peremptory "end of career" moments are a bit...overenthusiastic...for a few misplaced words and a clumsy/clueless apology.

Don't you just hate it when the liberal city council types go into elitist "mommy knows best" mode? This time they are trying to ram a hideously expensive waterfront tunnel down our collective throats and throwing an advisory vote where somehow there's "just not enough room on the ballot" for the cost numbers...

Last weekend an all-night restaurant got shot up (5 injured) by a known loon, resulting in pro-gun-control squealing. Oddly, nobody has gotten around to asking.. ".gee...what if some of the staff or patrons had been armed?" or "what was a known nut case/felon with anger issues doing running around loose in the first place?"

In another news, Microsoft got caught paying off bloggers to modify Wiki entries in their favor. Naughty, naughty. Be careful installing Norton 2007...it doesn't like Counterspy, and can force you to re-install Thunderbird.

Our President gave a speech last night - mostly good, and offensive mainly what it missed...pardoning a couple of Border Patrol agents convicted of doing their jobs. Pardon, reinstatement, with full back pay sounds about just to me based on what I've heard of the situation.

Ethanol is great, especially for Iowa corn farmers...but what about Waste Vegetable Oil, even cheaper and better that biodiesel? I *so* want a converted 5-banger Benz that's WVO friendly...something just charming about being *paid* to haul my fuel away.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On a lighter note...

Most folks will be blogging away madly about the State of the Union address, I may yet. But tonight, I write to share something a good friend shared with me, and then I discovered some fun corollaries.

Avenue Q.

Think of a distinctly Adult Sesame Street. Add in humor at about the level of Monty Python or Benny Hill. Stir well. Think in terms of a Broadway Musical. Yes. A Broadway Musical.

Wonderful enough in itself, now think of it being presented on the web using World of Warcraft as the animation engine.

I give you one song from Avenue Q, and a couple of others that reduce me to giggles with their simple joyful wrongness. I *enjoy* cognitive dissonance. *GRIN* Approach w/ caution.

"The Internet is for Porn"

"Big Blue Dress"

1/21/07 - Rocket-powered Scooter of Carroltown, TX

On Immigration...

Now, I'm simply not really good at black'n'white over-simplified analysis of complex problems, and it strikes me that a fair part of our problem in this country when it comes to an awful lot of issues results from a combination of reactive and "gotta look busy" legislation. I suggest immigration as a case in point - thus far every attempt to sit down and take a comprehensive look at immigration law and impose something vaguely resembling rational thought, logical consistency, and national interests on the beast has been shot down in flames, mostly by one group or another baiting their constituents and interest groups for political gain.

What makes sense in terms of immigration policy?

Well, it strikes me that just perhaps some priorities would include:
a) We want a "reverse brain drain" - i.e., send us your doctors, your engineers, your physicists, your programmers, your great thinkers. We want this both as a direct benefit, but by allowing and even recruiting the worlds best minds to live in the United States, we deprive their home nations of the benefit of the intelligence, innovation, and presence.

b) We want to fill our professional gaps - send us trained or trainable RN's and other folks that possess skills that we don't seem to be producing locally.

c) Send us your manual laborers, as we are in deep kimche if you don't; but what say we do it on a legal basis, with background checks, and a defined path to assimilation and citizenship. Besides, a legal path kills the economics of coyotes.

d) Humanitarian cases (from asylum to familial immigration) need to continue to be honored. Folks running from despots or to family should not be unduly obstructed.

That said, I would offer a list of things we don't want:

a) You're coming here because you are joining us - we're not joining you. It's a melting pot, blend in. Learn english, become a citizen, vote, and thus earn the right to kvetch.

b) Don't blow stuff up. It makes us cranky.

c) In the spirit of *b*, learn the local laws here and abide by them. Or go home.

d) Don't waste our time trying to come here if you've been doing *b* and *c* elsewhere, unless we give you a gilt-edged invite.

Could be I'm just a little cranky with the chest cold, rd II, but...neither closing the borders totally, nor flinging them wide open, will either work or serve the national interest. Just this once, let's try for what's good for the U.S. in designing policy.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I've been meme'd!

Well, this is a first. And here I just belted out a post, too! :)

1) Back in the day, I was founding President of Cease Fear/Pink Pistols Seattle.

2) I spent a couple of years (at 6'2" and 200+) as the littlest bouncer at a college bar seating 300 w/ live music three nights a week up in Bellingham. Our big bouncer was 7'6" or so, and we specialized in the 6 bouncer greeting for the excessively frisky.

3) I'm an incorrigible reader (friends claim I'm just generally incorrigible) with a distinct weakness for science fiction/fantasy work. My personal library is a bear to move at 5000+ volumes, and L. Neil Smith, Robert Heinlein, Lois McMaster Bujold, David Weber, and Eric Flint are my favorite authors.

4) Were it not for the whole LGBT thing, I would've joined the military at 18 or so...as it seemed the good and honorable choice at the time...however the prospect of doing time at Leavenworth seemed undesirable.

5) I like revolvers and lever action rifles. My current "pride of place" handgun is a circa 1965 S&W M25 .45 LC that will shoot better than I can, and while it's unlikely I'll shoot it again, my "big rifle" is a Marlin .45-70 - that said, for practical carry, I like my Keltec .32 and my Firestar 9mm (though I'd like to upgrade to a .45 in the same form factor).

Haven't been blogging long enough to hit 5 others folks haven't already hit..will try and do better :)

The whole @#$%@^ LGBT MarriageThing...

This isn't an easy one, as I get frustrated very quickly with folks that employ emotion as a substitute for logic and rational thought. That said, I'll try and puncture a few myths and restrain my, umm, negativity.

Gay marriage is a good thing, and not just for the gay folks.

Marriage has a lot of little societal side benefits, no least of which involve geriatric end-term, health care generally, and epidemiology specifically. Put simply - sick folks, old folks, and terminally ill folks cost money.

To steal from Bruce Bawer, in (if I recall correctly) his volume "Beyond Queer", it's been pointed out that folks that are in committed relationships tend to live longer, healthier, and more self-sufficient lives. I.e., they cost us all less money, and this is true regardless of their orientation.

Finally, counterintuitive as it may be, divorce is a *grand* thing compared to "make it up as you go along", as are established inheritance, visitation, child custody, and mutual support structures. Throw in the fact that more and more LGBT couples are having or adopting kids together, and encouraging long term relationships begins include that hoary old "for the children" ring.

I will be the first to admit that a fair amount of catting around goes on in the LGBT community, and if anything, that catting around is more endemic to the LGBT community than the mainstream community. I further suggest that this leads to the spread of infection at elevated rates, depression, and a lack of stable sustaining relationships providing the partnership of a spouse as old age approaches.

It is my (less than original) suggestion that opening an institution of the mainstream community, marriage, to LGBT folks is a step in the right direction. Frankly, I would be happy if LGBT marriage bumped up the ratio of successful long term relationships by even 10% - but getting to the 50% failure rate of heterosexual marriage would simply thrill me.

To the extent that committed relationships involve partners that aren't out fooling around on a random basis, regardless of their serological status, they are no longer out in the biological pool. If they are positive with one thing or another, they aren't out there sharing on a broad basis, and if they are negative, they have enhanced chances of staying in that status. Win-win. In societal terms, folks turning up positive for major infectious disease is a huge cost, and prevention saves big, and when such measures are *voluntary* the savings are both bigger (no enforcement cost), and respect civil rights at the same time.

One of the saving graces of marriage is that folks engaged upon it seem to stay independent later in life - good both at the level of individual happiness, and at the grimly fiscal level where as folks go into long term care settings, public expense of maintaining them kicks in at seriously significant levels. That folks should remain independent, and happier, and do so at less expense to the taxpayer seems desirable.

For the children of LGBT unions, promoting stability in those unions (and an organized structure for custody in case of dissolution of those unions) also seems rather a good notion. Presently, judicial response ranges from refusing to hear cases at all as being "outside the law", transferring sole custody to the biological parent (who may or may not be someone the child has ever *met*), to treating the case as judicially equivalent to the child of any other unmarried couple...with responses not even consistent within a given state or appellate system.

Divorce is a grand thing, especially when you don't have it as an option. If a dissolution goes well, then it's not terribly significant - but if there are disputes regarding property, child or pet custody (emotionally a lot of folks go to the same place on these two), or support things can get hairy in a hurry. Having a nice impartial third party to lay it out in front of (a judge) if it all hits the fan, and some sort of structure available is just a lovely thing.

Visitation - it's not *nice* when ones life partner is in the hospital and the estranged relatives turn up and bar you from the facility, when the facility refuses to recognizes signed mutual powers of attorney, etc ad nauseum.

Two partners in Tacoma lived a long and happy life together - one partner ran the business, the other (by mutual agreement) was in charge of home & social arrangements. The business owning partner passed away - and the courts of WA in the face of hostile family claims ended up giving all products of the relationship to the family of the deceased partner, impoverishing a man in his late 60's and throwing him out of the home he'd shared with his partner for decades. Not nice. To some, inheritance seems an issue of greed - but far more often, just as in heterosexual relationships, it is a matter of long term planning and mutual survival in the face of age, retirement, and geriatric care.

The list goes on (there are hundreds of benefits concomitant to marriage vs. unrecognized relationships), but the above rather hits the high points that leap to mind pre-coffee.

Gay marriage is a scary thing only to the easily misled, and a delightfully useful tool for those who would manipulate them.

Gay marriage doesn't threaten any other form of marriage. Both in Massachusetts and abroad, we have not seen huge numbers of heterosexuals screaming in terror and rushing out to obtain divorces or refusing to marry in the presence of lawfully recognized same sex marriage.

Rather, what we've seen is the use of the same sex marriage issue as a red flag to wave in front of the easily provoked as a handy tool for those who prefer emotional manipulation to logical argument as a mechanism to achieve their political ends.

It's always easier to demonize a designated "goat" as a distraction than it is to justify questionable policy. Start a war, dangle some fresh bait, throw a few red herring - and while the feeding frenzy progresses, accomplish a few things you couldn't in the light of day.

For myself...my observation is that relationship dynamics seem to become more complex in geometric progression for each person you add to said relationship, and I figure I'm doing well if I can find one partner with whom I can settle without complicating things with additional players; on the other hand, as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult and I'm not required to play, I don't see what business it is of mine how they arrange their personal lives - what matters to me is creating incentives that whatever funky structure they build amongst themselves should be long term, and further, have a planned end game in case of failure.

Now...that's not terribly romantic, and it's not terribly orthodox..but it is goal-oriented. My suggestion is that functional long term relationships are what we want, as a society, to promote...and that failing that, domestic drama is desirable to minimize and a planned end game (divorce) accomplishes that secondary goal.

Granted, I'm not the most eloquent on this or most other topics, but that's the best I can do on a Monday morning...:)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Presidential Intrigue...

I must confess I'm intrigued. Rep. Ron Paul attempting the GOP nomination is more than moderately pleasing, though a bit of a long shot..and now NM Gov. Bill Richardson has thrown his hat into the ring on the Dem side of the equation.

I'm just starting to look into Richardson, but he appears to almost fit the profile of a Democratic candidate that I might be able to vote for...pro-gay, pro-gun, strong foreign policy experience, and a fairly solid congressional career. As a bonus, he appears to be attempting to to create a new paradigm in the Democratic Party...neither liberal nor "southern conservative", more focused on working solutions than on ideology or partisanship.

I like that. We could do worse, with either Obama or Clinton. I'm now declaring the perfect race for the country (as opposed to providing me the evil pleasure of a victorious Powell/Rice GOP candidacy), would be Ron Paul vs Bill Richardson...

Another Iraq Post

(In response to an email)

Hi hi...

Well...the division of India/Pakistan seemed to work out reasonably well for the peoples involved (the Brits , the Paki's, and the Indians) in the sense that it at least got the various folks that despised each other off onto their own little turfs where they didn't have to interact quite so frequently, and thus bloodshed was reduced to the occasional border war and nasty diplomatic note. Not ideal, but as the song goes, "making the best of a bad situation."

I would suggest that paradigm applies far more accurately to the Iraqi situation than the Cold War era paradigms you suggest. I readily grant a gross similarity, but the reasoning behind those definitions was entirely different - i.e., the India/Pakistan division was motivated by a desire to separate mutually hostile parties, where the ones you cite were motivated primarily by victors dividing up the spoils.

In the case of Iraq, we are faced with an artificial nation created of mutually hostile peoples created at the stroke of a rather doltish British cartographers pen in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the post-WWI era. A ticking time bomb from square one, held together only by force and brutality, three disparate peoples should not be compelled to union against their rather violently expressed will.

I don't see saving face as an issue - I do see moral responsibility. We went in, made a mess, and like the proverbial good camper...we are obligated to clean up our mess, or at minimum, do what we can before we depart the scene. An India/Pakistan style of division (separating combatants) would be one way to achieve this...

Somalia? A shameful event. The right minimum response to an assault upon our service men and women at minimum is to exact a rather thorough response, sufficient to give long pause to anyone thinking of a "repeat performance", before pulling out...it can be argued that the Somali response, not unlike the policies of the Carter presidency, led directly to greater violence against US persons and interests by creating the impression that there would be no or minimal response.

It would be lovely if the folks we put in power during either the Cold War era or under "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" policy decisions would just pack their bags and go home when asked nicely. And in fact, on occasion, they have (Marcos in the Philipines, Duvalier in Haiti, Pinochet in Chile)...but that is not the common response of a satisfied and comfortable tyrant, and especially not of someone who's feeling frisky towards the U.S. in the first place...buying them off (with cash, refuge, or other benefits) is a lovely solution, but you need someone willing to be bought in order for it to work.

In terms of economy, I would say that a rifle bullet is more efficient than an infantry division, and that some of the wild west antics of the old OSS and their lesser successors on through the early '70's kept us out of war on numerous occasions while still preserving American interests and persons.

I don't want a legacy for my nieces where worldwide loons figure that it's safe/ok to kill Americans abroad or on our home soil, that all that is required to change American policy is sufficiently vigorous atrocities, or that you can do pretty much whatever you want to America if you can just hold out two years for public opinion to turn.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mechanics of LayOut


My head hurts, but it's done. I just finished knocking out that 12 page newsletter, including wandering through the wonderful world of photoshop and cursing at MS:Word which is at best a mediocre layout solution that I'm compelled to use for the sake of compatibility (i.e., if I pass off the newsletter to someone back at the church down there, none of them have Adobe Pagemaker or Designer, and few have Publisher).

From time to time a lot of us are going to get stuck either knocking out a newsletter of some kind, or finding someone to do it for us - it helps to speak the language and know the territory. First off, in dealing with any print shop, hand them a MS:Publisher file and listen to the screams of agony - Publisher uses a non-standard color palette that doesn't match up with the inks the nice print shop has (leading to time-consuming matching efforts, or substandard print quality), and second, the print shop may not even have a copy of Publisher to read your file with....

Adobe Pagemaker or InDesign are better lay-out programs and provide a standard color palette known as CMYK that your local print shop with will love you for...and when you factor in Adobe Acrobat Pro (which is the "official standard" when it comes to creating PDF files), suddenly life is good...as print shops *love* it when you hand them the document as a standard print-quality pdf.

Layout's great, but you usually end up having to factor in photo manipulation - playing with contrast, color levels, cropping to fit, re-sizing, and similar little adventures. Adobe Photoshop, while possessed of a learning curve, is really the way to fly with this task. The crippleware passing itself off as image editing software in MS:Office is at best....mediocre. Photoshop is worth every penny...particularly when it comes time to edit unsightly shadows and features out of a photo.

Finally, once you've put it all together and pdf'd it, then ship it off to friendly printer...and if at all possible, get a proof copy before you sign off on nuking 1500 copies for your favorite organization :)

Ah well...another day another dollar :) A good Saturday night to one and all...I'm off for chowder...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Delightfully evil..

Found over at another blog, this is delightfully evil.

That addressed, it's been a rather quiet day. Now to dive into one of the little side projects, building a church newsletter for an organization down in Palm Springs, and then back to finishing preliminary PC build-out.

Why, you ask, am I building the PC at home rather than installing the software at the client site?

Long term planning. I've found that if I simply waltz in, plug in the new PC, grab the data files off the old one, and am miraculously out in under an hour...it helps build techy mystique for those rare moments when I'm faced with the choice of a long painful technical explanation to the technophobic vs. simply saying "the magic smoke inside needed a refill". If sufficient mystique is built up, you can get away with "magic smoke" and it will save a fair amount of time and misery for all concerned...

Still, one can fire fictional kittens across a hazard strewn field, horrifying the Animal Rights sorts who are typically unable to sort fact from fiction, or logic from emotion.

Shooting for the Surgically Modified

Back last February, I had a little adventure that resulted in a 40 day hospital stay. As part of the fun, a goodly chunk of my right clavicle and sternum came out in a successful effort to shut down a bone infection, with a muscle graft across the "hole" to finish the job. I'm right handed, and have an 8lb load limit on my right arm now.


Now, to our question of the day...I'm finally getting to the point where I'm willing to consider range time in a few months, and am debating where to begin. I'm thinking in pistol, the .22LR revolver I picked up as a training tool a few years back for the right arm...and back to the S&W M25 .45LC on the left (but definitely not the right). On the right, build back up to serious caliber over a period of years, at absolute best.

I'm pretty sure I've lit off my Marlin .45-70 for the last time w/o a guaranteed hospital visit right after I pull the trigger, so think I'll pass on that...and frankly, never having had this little challenge before, haven't had much practice shooting shoulder arms on the left side (being a rightie) and am not entirely sure what course is most advisable... I suspect I'm ok with my Marlin .22 Lever, but am concerned that anything heavier on the right shoulder would be quite bad indeed.

One option, of course, is to simply say some *very* bad words and give up on shoulder arms entirely.

Another option is to try and figure out a way to shoot a shoulder arm on the left without feeling completely contorted. Any ideas?

A third option is to start out with that Marlin .22 Lever on the right, and move up one caliber at a time in the dinkiest increments possible to discover what I can get away with...also known as "test until screaming begins"...I have some concerns about this approach.

Thoughts, anyone?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cross-Post - S.1, Coercive Blog Registration

From Slashdot comes an article suggesting that S.1 before the U.S. Senate would coerce bloggers with political content to register as lobbyists, under penalty of prison time and sundry badness. Gack.

Might I suggest this would qualify as a *bad thing*?

Both as a fairly new blogger (and hey, if there's someone out there that wants to pay me nice money to hang their logo on my blog...money is good), and as a technician I can see some fairly serious problem with this - as a blogger, the definition of "political content" seems dangerously fuzzy, and as a technician I am darkly suspicious of just who would be tasked with reporting responsibility (one more thing to monitor the #$#@^$% network for...)...

Feh. A pox upon both the Dem and the GOP...something with blisters, itching, and digestive involvement to keep them busy and out of our hair.

Super Basic Network Security 'n' Stuff

Matt G over at Better'n'Better writes of his glorious new wireless networking experiences with his new laptop, and it brings out the techie in me at about the same level as the newbie sweeping the room with a .45 of unknown provenance brings out the firearms instructor in a lot of us.


Wireless is pretty neat stuff in all its many and exciting flavors (802.11a/b/g/n, bluetooth, etc), and like a lot of other neat things has both upsides and downsides of both a legal and practical nature. The below is very basic, very fast, and touches only on the high points...and I do answer questions :)

For the sake of simplicity and sanity, we'll stick with the 802.11's with a brief side riff on the notion of cellular wireless access later on in the chat...


802.11 is a broad standard that includes a bunch of mutually incompatible sub-standards - in other words, an "A" access card won't talk to an "N" Wireless Access point, G doesn't talk to B, B doesn't talk to A, etc ad nauseum. That's why most Wireless Access Points or Routers are combo boxes that if you look carefully are labelled "802.11a/b/g/n" or some combination thereof...and what each of those funky letters describe are different ways of sending and getting data...with some faster than others, and others that do better at penetrating ground clutter than sending data at the highest possible speed.

What all of them share is that unless the user has got encryption set up at *both* ends of the wireless piece (i.e., in most 802.11 setups, the route is Wirelessly Connected Laptop>>Wireless Access Point/Router>>Wired Network), that you are:

  1. Sending data in the clear, readable by anyone driving by with a receiver. Zero Encryption.
  2. Providing random wandering laptops with an access point to the 'net for which YOU are liable, at least conceivably...
  3. Theft of Wireless Service
Regarding #1, what that means is when you order some cool new leather gear from Gall with your very own Visa card...with no encryption, that "anybody with a receiver" can simply sit there, grab the data off the air, and then call up Gall and re-direct your delivery..and take the credit card information over to "Sam's House of Kink & Adult Pleasure" and use said information enthusiastically. But credit card information is *thinking small*, when complete ID theft is possible.

If you haven't set up a software firewall on your laptop, you can get *visitors* coming in and romping through your hard drive...something that is equally true if you take your laptop visiting random wired networks...in the same general sense as "firewall=good", right up there with "antivirus=good", and "anti-spyware=good". Essentially every time your laptop or PC touches a wired OR wireless network, it is vulnerable to whatever critters linger thereupon.

On to point #2, and only after clearly stating that I am neither a lawyer nor do I play one on television....there have been several recent cases of less tech-savvy Law Enforcement sorts doing the door-kicker waltz on a Child Porn or other internet offense bust, and on arrival (after seizing all hardware and hauling it off to LE-friendly geek) discovering no evidence of said offenses - what gives?

One way down this ugly little path is the unsecured wireless access point. Our little wide-open WAP sits there on our innocent critters network, available for any little old wireless passerby to grab signal and access the net...and any of that wireless passerby's network traffic (Say, to "Sam's House of Carnality and Severely Objectionable Naughtiness") will show up to an outside investigator as originating on the network of our innocent critter...which will likely be enough to persuade a judge to authorize a Blue Light Morris Dance and Search of our innocent critters premises, with seizure of any electronics more complicated than a toaster. Not fun.

Finally, option #3, we have our our innocent end-user new to the wonderful world of wireless with a bright shiny new laptop, who in turn discovers the existence of delightfully insecure wireless networks ("I can click and hook up! WOOHOO! WHO NEEDS DSL?") in neighborhood, workplace, and out on patrol. There's a couple things our newbie should be aware of...this sort of hook-up is insecure per se, and second, that more and more jurisdictions have defined rightly or wrongly this kind of hook up as theft of services, piggy-backing on someone elses connection w/o permission not unlike hanging an unauthorized feeder line off someone elses power meter w/o permission in order to power your house.

Finally, with all this fun behind us, we'll move on to the promised discussion of cellular internet access, an entirely different creature. Where the 802.11? family of wireless require hotspots with hookups to the internet from each hotspot, with cellular, the cell phone company in question acts as the "link to the 'net" and access is available wherever you can get cell phone coverage on the carrier to which you subscribe. Cost is roughly $50-80 a month, depending on what you sign up for, and coverage is roadworthy in most areas..and in most senses, it's safe to treat it with only the degree of paranoia that you'd utilize on a standard internet connection (recall that on the new digital cellular networks, the signal is digitally encrypted anyway), though like with guns, more is better - feel free to add more levels of encryption/safety as your skill levels allow.

Wireless is darned convenient stuff, but not without its' little downfalls...but the convenience of going all-wireless (including printers, scanners, etc) is horribly seductive. Different situations will give you different answers, so...

Makes your choices, takes your chances.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Presidential Fashions...

It seems all the fashion these days to describe ones perfect presidential candidate in a blog, and then bemoan mightily the shortage of such paragons of common sense and vision. Might as well join the fashion in my own small way...

As is usual with such things, I've not yet found a critter that really fits my ideals, but in the meanwhile, I've found a couple of folks that strike me as either evilly amusing to contemplate as victors, or of the "well, god knows they are better than the current players" candidate. We'll get back to that.

But first, what I'm looking for....

In no particular order, I'm looking for a candidate that supports:

  1. Repealing gun control statutes.
  2. Recognizes that Prohibition didn't work the first time and spruced up with a pretty monicker "War On Drugs", rewound, and played again it doesn't work work any better - figures real crime is more important than grand gestures.
  3. Favors gay marriage on the grounds that which consenting adults sleep with each other is nobodies business, and that in that context, supporting committed relationships (and organized dissolutions thereof) is in the best interests of society - fiscally, morally, and just in cutting down the drama by providing a *TEMPLATE* for folks to at least start from rather'n the current "make it up from scratch as you go along" bit.
  4. If we're going for the gusto, a candidate that actively promotes gun ownership as roughly equivalent to fire extinguishers for law abiding citizens thrust into bad, bad, situations.
  5. Opposes all affirmative action, but supports absolutely bloodthirsty legislative retribution against folks who muck about with the necessities of life on a discriminatory basis...with a rather high threshold set for the excitement to begin.
  6. Supports requiring balanced budgets at all levels of government, and reigning in the ability of government to dig itself deeper into debt.
  7. Supports reducing the number of redundant, counterproductive, silly, excessive, and just plain stupid number of statutes on the books in hopes of reducing prison populations.
  8. Supports long prison terms for actual crimes of violence where someone has initiated the aggressive use of force against another party.
  9. Supports strong borders, and has the intestinal fortitude to do what it takes to establish and maintain them. Fences are silly. Land mines are economical and really quite effective.
  10. Quits screwing around in Iraq, and does it right - i.e., serious increases in force presence, decentralization of infrastructure, and giving our troops the support they need to do their jobs.
  11. Is willing to consider doing something swift, effective, and educational about Iran, Venezuela, and N. Korea...either directly, or indirectly.
  12. Recognizes that Beijing is far from our very bestest buddy, and takes China seriously as a risk.
  13. Supports the Bill of Rights - all ten amendments.
  14. Supports the color-blind, gender-blind, orientation-blind, legislation. (I.e., when handing out benefits or penalties, we really don't give a damn about those issues).
  15. Basic health care. I don't see paying for most plastic surgery, or other generally elective surgeries...but folks do better at holding jobs and paying taxes when they aren't sick/dying/homebound.
  16. A persons body, and what goes on inside it, belongs to that person. Period, full stop. As a matter of personal ethics that I am deeply unsure should become law, once a pregnancy becomes an independently viable critter (humanity generally occurs and boneheadedness recedes somewhat around 25 or 30, a different argument), abortion then starts seeming awfully similar to homicide. I'm a guy...so figure my role is to exercise restraint to the best of my ability and let the folks whose bodies are actually involved be the dominant force in these arguments.
I could go on...but I suspect the general idea gets across. It's not really likely I'm going to find my perfect candidate that will even-handedly rain political trauma upon the control freaks of both the left and the right in equal and unlimited measure.

That said, a victorious GOP ticket bearing Colin Powell/Condoleeza Rice would give me a certain quietly evil joy...as the sound of spontaneous intellectual combustion among the power elites of both the GOP and the Dem's would warm the cockles of my heart...I'm less certain that such a victory would be either good for the country, or the candidates, however. I do think it would be a painfully effective counterploy to an Obama candidacy.

As I've said previously, I support at a semi-practical level a Ron Paul candidacy for the Presidency in 2008...as being least offensive to me of the candidates presented thus far....

Realistically, if the Dem's can find a candidate that's pro-gay, pro-gun, pro-fiscal responsibility...oh, wait...that combination pretty well excludes all their current crop of potentials...never mind.

Perhaps if the GOP can find a "leave the gay folk the hell alone", pro-gun, pro-fiscal responsibility candidate...well, that at least rules out McCain...and most other GOP wannabe's I've heard of....

Crud. Another "least of the evils" election.
Gack. Snow hit last Thursday, and got another dose this morning. Living in a city of hills not exactly a lot gentler than San Francisco's, and smearing the whole thing with a week of compact snow & ice w/ fresh snow frosting...makes life intriguing, even a bit more so out in the flat lands.

Of course, that we don't see anything resembling real snow here much more than every 7 or 8 years just vastly improves the snow driving skills of the average grunt...and doesn't exactly cultivate a good recollection of which hills are "snow-safe" - as I discovered when I ended up taking one sideways and ripping the sidewall out of a front tire.

Fun, fun.

Essentially the city is shut down for the duration, barring emergency services, masochists, and old-fashioned nimrods. Ah, well.

Practical Thoughts on Pride

One of the lists I lurk on, Lonestar Activists Network (formerly Houston Activists Network) is the home of a great deal of debate about what to do about Houston Pride (Move it out of Montrose, split it into multiple events, or?)...and recently some practical concerns were raised beyond the usual "Don't cave in to THE MAN", "Damned Gentrification", "Capitalism is evil" thoughts. Little things like weather and such...I chimed in as a former Pride Co-Chair and Safety Chair from long ago and far away as below...

A thought or two I'll toss in from couple stints in the Pride world long ago and far away...

Power - a centralized food court sort of arrangement can seriously reduce the number of noisy generators that often require special licensing and always cost money.

Volunteer Endurance - 1 Pride weekend will normally nuke to the ground the endurance of the vast majority of volunteers a Pride body can stir up...it could be spinning a 2nd organization to run a second event might improve endurance & surviveability for volunteers

Safety - just a pet peeve of mine, but a lot of folks in our community are optimistic and actuarial statistics are kind of boring, anyway...at least till you hit them real-time and have bodies on the ground. Always recall that as the number of attendees and length of the event(s) increase, in direct proportion to these two variables similar increases in the odds of a "Medically Significant Event" or, alternatively, "Legally Intriguing Event" and plan around them...having a few spare EMT's and paramedic vans strategically placed is a fine notion for dealing with anything from scraped knees to full-blown cardiacs, and similarly, a closely coordinated police/volunteer safety team can defuse a lot of situations that might otherwise become intriguing....

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Supporting the troops...

We pay our service folks for crap (hint...survival of a service family should never require food stamps), send them in harms way, muck about with their discharge dates, and finally, when they make it out, don't have the worlds strongest program to support successful transition to civilian life.

All that is really quite bad enough. Then LawDog brings to us his latest posting (link below, assuming I got the beastie to cooperate) on a service member that was in my opinion nothing short of swindled by a storage rental place he entrusted with his lifes belongings while he was in Iraq.

It's not nice to sell somebodies belongings without notifying them of a problem, and then continue to accept payment for storing the belongings you've sold.

The LawDog Files: You may fire when ready, Gridley

First off on my list of little questions, is why - when we know perfectly well we are sending military folk abroad from time to time - that most bases don't have a large and grimly secure private property storage facility or pod style storage facility located on-site either as a benefit or operated at-cost for service members on deployment?

Second, barring such a direct solution, why can't the JAG come screaming down with an offer of boundless free and vindictive legal services when a service member is so *obviously* wronged.

Sure, JAG has neither the resources nor the mission of litigating every service members civil issue - but with equal certainty, there should be a process for assisting those who've been wronged or taken advantage of as a direct or proximate result of their military service.

However, with the current Congress, I think all our service members can count on is lip service and a really rough time in the barrel.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Media Thoughts


I write. I have, forgive me my sins, written professionally and edited a small regional magazine heavier on fluff than on content.

But on to the daily rant. Journalism vs. Yellow Journalism/Propaganda.

Call me a wild-eyed idealist if you must, but I have certain expectations of an allegedly professional media. Give me the facts, not your panting & breathless opinion. Tell me there's been a killing or an assault at a local establishment - I don't particularly have a need to know what class of implement was used to cause injury - as the injured or deceased remain thus regardless of the mechanism. Leave your opinions and emotionalism either at the doorstep or on the editorial page.

In short, I can think for myself, and don't need to be spoonfed the "right opinion/mindset/phobia group." And this, from our so-called professional media, is what I grow ever more tired of - the deceiptful insertion of opinion for fact, of "feelings" for reality, all delivered in a tone of either breathless "I've never seen anything this bad before, how DREADFUL" or alternatively, some variety of condescending laughter summing as "poor dumb , aren't they stupid?".

That's not journalism. Keep my news on the news pages (or the news segment of the broadcast) and clearly identify the editorial content as you place it on the editorial page or segment...or fess up that you're running nothing more than a scandal sheet, whether print or broadcast, and be done with it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Responding to an Email

Can you believe GB is sending 22K more troups, I am
sickened...what are your thoughts, I might just vote
an independent ticket next time. People are starting
to protest even here in Flagstaff.

The weather is indeed a headache this year, and not making adaptation any easier. I'm getting by, and any time there's this crap with wind thrown in, it makes power iffy, even here in XXXX. I am hoping that we return to a more normal cycle, but this seems typical of our periodic odd years up here...and it's been long enough since we did it last, we're probably about due.

Come the spring, we're looking at getting a *real* slab-mounted diesel generator ($6950, 35kw, 12hr under full load before fueling) mounted out back with the appropriate isolation switch installed to give the folks a more reliable electrical situation. As they age, this could become increasingly important, and I rather tend to favor dealing with the notion while NOT in crisis.

The job hunt continues.

As far as GB's "surge" goes, the primary fault that I find is that it is much, much too small (much as was our initial investment of troops). 20,000 troops does not overwhelming force make.

I would argue that since "we broke it, we bought it" we are more or less morally obligated to a departure strategy in Iraq more closely comparable to that of the Marshall Plan and W. Germany than to repeating the Vietnam Debacle.

That said, if we're going to be mucking about over there, let us emit the necessary shrill scream and activate more of the Guard, Reserve, and the Individual Ready Reserve - because to successfully and in an organized and low casualty fashion depart Iraq, we need to summon truly overwhelming force - much as the more honest and less political generals have been telling us from square one.

Post-scream, we need to task roughly 150,000 to 200,00 ground troops to Iraq (or more) and rather ruthlessly crush the insurgents while strongly reinforcing the Iraqi economy. At the same time, we would be well-served to re-implement the Liberty Pistol program of WWII over much of the Middle East and Korea. (I.e., 2-3 really cheap single-shot pistols for every house, making tyranny a bit more exciting for those that would practice it.

Finally, I favor partitioning Iraq into three nations - Kurdestan (hell, we could pull out of there yesterday with darned few concerns), a Shiite sector, and a Sunni sector. The last two are likely to love each other about as much as India and Pakistan do, but the upshot is that by largely separating the combatants and giving them their own turf, they are likely to be far to occupied w/ domestic issues to get adventuresome. Iraq has always been a bit of an artificial construct held together by force and guile in any case...let us simply remove the force.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Liberal Tolerance & Other Myths

Rational soul that I am, despite accusations to the contrary, it pretty much works out that on the days the Theocratic Conservatives aren't peeving me, one or more Lockstep Liberals are rattling my cage. A pox upon both their houses, preferably one involving absolutely focusing rash and itching to keep them busy and out of our hair. If it isn't the Theocrats wanting to supervise our bedrooms and morals, it's the Liberals trying to separate us from cash/freedom/self-direction.

Latest in this depressing direction, a group of eastern Yalies thinking themselves safe in visiting that great liberal mothership of the West, San Francisco...found themselves, after having sung then National Anthem at a New Years Party, getting the tar kicked out of them down the street...

Granted, the Star Spangled Banner is a bit...grating, but it is our National Anthem, no matter how much some of us might wish a singable choice had been made. Random beatings seem a bit of an over-enthusiastic response to even the very most unfortunate of attempts at this difficult anthem.

Reports differ (1/10 Gay Patriot, San Jose Mercury News, KGO TV, Breitbart News #1, Breitbart News #2). Consistent among the reports it appears the SFPD has yet to interview the victims (10 days later) and the proud quote "Police have dropped their demand that The Baker's Dozen pay their own way pack to San Francisco to be interviewed. "

Umm. What is going on here? The closest I've gotten to patrol is 5 years in campus security, a bit of bar bouncing, and a couple of years dispatch work at a mid-size University...but...it seems to me that it's constructive to at least TALK to the alleged victims, ideally right there at the crime scene or as quickly as possible, failing that. It seems a little...wrong...to tell them they have to pay their own way back to register a complaint. And that apparently the perpetrators were offspring of the local liberal elite leads to suspicion of a certain, dare we say it, reluctance to investigate?

Now, if Mel Gibson can get his bollocks nailed to the wall for a DUI with anti-semitic screed dressing in Malibu...why is it so difficult to round up a group of malcontents (who were apparently lingering around the scene after SFPD arrived to bust up the hurly-burley) and jug them until they and the lovely surveillance camera photographic evidence processes their collective way before an arraignment court? And why is it suddenly "punish the victim week"?


Fortunately, Yale students frequently have wealthy and vindictive parents...we may soon be treated to a rousing chorus of "Bring on the Shysters", even as the City of Seattle goes to trial for its' mighty mismanagement of the WTO riots....grrr.


Once upon a time, in a little town in New Zealand, was born the original Bastard Operator From Hell - who upon maturing, showered the IT world with wisdom, wit, and a few notions of what would be infinitely satisfying to observe happen to various IT annoyances. Dilbert has NOTHING on BOFH.

Section 1

Section 2

Read. Enjoy. Learn.

And by the way, for following Tech trends you can do worse than reading www.theregister.co.uk and slashdot.com.

Tech Thoughts

Welcome back. With inches of snow on the ground, high winds, below-freezing temperatures, and unusually intermittent power (and the discovery that a generator left standing for three years un-run, even with stabilizer in the fuel isn't an easy pull-start for 80 y.o.'s or folks missing clavicles and sternums) things have been a bit complex the last day or so.

Discovered that my UPS's are about 30minutes good with their current load, and made some progress talking up the notion of an affordable generator of sufficient oomph to be free standing, and sufficient weight and nastiness to be relatively immobile without heavy equipment. Significant progress was made once reality-based pricing was brought into the picture (yes, you can buy a 35Kw for around 7k, it'll weigh a bit over a ton, and once bolted to the slab, won't go much of anyplace). We're mainly looking at diesel, since we're in earthquake country and gas lines have a nasty tendency to rupture under such circumstances...where a tank of diesel fuel just sits there and jiggles.

Norton Anti-Virus 2007 has proven problematic. A client, a local church, invited me up to replace their expired version...and what should have been a simple install ended up taking out their e-mail client (Mozilla Thunderbird) and cutting them off from e-mail for a few days. After much putzing around and cursing, discovered that nothing short of uninstalling Thunderbird and then doing a clean re-install from a freshly downloaded install file would really make things better. All data recovered, but after this little episode, chatted with a friend out at the Fortress of Darkness, and his comments on Norton led me to consider options.

McAfee doesn't seem much better, and I'd long since discounted all Norton/Symantec products beyond the Anti-Virus products as hopeless resource pigs. Spoke with a local shop, and Kapersky Anti-virus seems to be what they are using. Dropped it on a Win2k test box today (one of my issues with Norton is that it has ceased support of Win2k boxes unless you buy a package of business licenses for $250 or so), and it loaded right up.

Kapersky seems much more paranoid (good!) about things than Norton, and a Full Scan with Kapersky seems to take about half the time that Norton does (also good). With products available for Windows 95 through XP and Linux...hopefully MacOS soon. There's something just charming about software that spans all three major operating systems, giving you the same places to poke and prod with consistent results.

Beyond that, the documentation on Kaspersky is the most thorough I've seen, with more user-available options, than any anti-virus I've looked at in any detail in some time.

While I was up at the church, I had the opportunity to chat with the church secretary about back-up and the evils of restore partitions. It does not bring joy to a techies heart when you stand next to the workstation and hold up a coffee-stained CD and announce "Yeah, back-ups - I made some six or nine months ago - that's good, right?"

Once the nice techie stops twitching and contemplating blunt objects, they will settle down and explain reality to you. Back-ups should be performed at LEAST once a month in a RESIDENTIAL environment, and in a church or small business environment, weekly or daily are BOTH better choices.

Backing up to volatile media (3.5" Floppies, Flash Drives, etc) is a BAD idea...the idea is that you want something inert and reliable, not that will tank the first time you sit next to a mis-placed magnet or get static-zapped) is less than good.

Finally, the whole idea of back-up is to prepare for bad things to happen. Back-up disks are for much more than if your hard drive implodes - they also cover your bacon if your home/business/organization spontaneously combusts, you get raided by the FBI, evil bogeycritters pop in and make off with all your electronics, or the cat yaks into your power supply and the machine fries...setting fire to your computer area, and burning all the media.

This is a *hint*. Once you've backed up your data (your first novel, the last 10 years of taxes, your favorite naughty pictures, whatever...) carefully take them and place them someplace SECURE (after all, there's plenty of things you don't want posted in the town square) and OFFSITE (when bad things happen to site, being able to recover to a week-old state almost always beats "OMFG!", emotionally).

Sneakiest scheme I've heard thus far was a group of friends that discovered a member of their circle suffered a case of the galloping ne'er-get-overs and had about 3 months - the guy set up a BUNCH of safety deposit boxes, e-mail addresses, post office boxes, and magazine subscriptions before he passed. All of which are kept current by money order to this day, to the best of my knowledge....

Not all of us need that level of devious security, but the basic idea is fairly straightforward. Make your backups with grim regularity, keep them offsite, and keep them secure. If a good backup falls into the wrong hands, amazing and bad things can happen. Think identity theft, embarrassment, and job-hunting...

Recovery partitions.

Once upon a time, when you bought a new PC with various software (Windows, Office, Quicken, etc) you got a complete set of "install disks" - disks that you would normally use to install the bundled software that came with your new toy, if your friendly manufacturer hadn't already installed the software on the hard drive of your new toy.

Where those disks were a *really neat thing* was when, as happens from time to time, the hard drive crashed, you upgraded to a new hard drive, or the operating system (Windows, Linux, or MacOS?) got corrupted, you had a clear recovery path. Life was GOOD.

Just throw in a new HDD, pull out the disks and a good book, and start feeding the machine disks as you re-installed from scratch. Time consuming, but bone simple and since you'd been doing your back-ups of your DATA regularly, all that was lost was time...and it was a chance to catch up on your reading.

Then came the recovery partition. Some bright bean-counter figured out that those install disks cost money - and that they could save money by partitioning the hard drive (setting aside a "magic portion" to store all that data on) and only installing the absolutely necessary software on this special magic portion...

Umm...what happens when you try and install a bigger hard drive or the existing one melts down? You are, in technical terms, Simply Out of Luck!

Now...meandering onto the scene after the fateful purchase...sometimes you can call up the maker and whine and grovel with sufficient skill that they will send you install disks. More often, a great shriek of fiscal agony ensues as you trot down to the computer shop and buy (at full retail) copies of all the lovely software you've come to depend on (on a Winbox, this tends to run $600-1200)...

Or you scream twice, accept the learning curve, and flip to Linux...for under $100.00. But that's a tale for another day.

Saturday, January 6, 2007


Took this test and scored a 29...test isn't, to my taste, particularly representative of the broad political spectrum given the number of questions designed such that both options were vile. While not as comprehensive, the test here seems to better cover the political spectrum beyond the two-party dichotomy. Claims I'm a libertarian - surprise, surprise. :)

There is a nasty cold floating around the West Coast...starts in the chest, then sets up housekeeping in the head. Ick. Made a batch of the Garlic Chicken Soup of Doom tonight, and dosing up on ginger tea and ginger cookies as well (ginger being both yummy and anti-inflammatory). I'll take my silver linings where I can find them. ;) Vitamin C is again my close personal buddy.

Beyond that, not awfully much gossip today. Seems the Israeli's are setting up some really exciting contingency plans for the Friendly Folks in Iran, and in Washington (the Seattle one) the Mayor has declared a campaign against bad nasty guns while dancing in the blood of a murdered teen some 30 mi to the S.

Another day, another adventure...

Friday, January 5, 2007


Lawdog wrote a good thing. Read it. :) Articles matter of fact, common sense, rational approach to things left me wondering if Col. Jeff Cooper bequeathed LawDog his pen.

That said, I find myself terribly distracted of late - between job-hunting (and after a year effectively out of the market laid up recuperating, that's a darned scary and distracting project) and the evilly seductive ways of a New Years present from a Russian friend of mine (Seasons 1 & 2 of House on DVD) I'm not writing as much as I should if I'm going to get back into the swing of things. BAAAD blogger! BAD!

Watching the misanthropic antics of House (not unlike the simple joys of Worf in STNG, or Denny Crane and Alan Shore on Boston Legal...or reading the Garrett, PI series...) is a guilty pleasure - an admission that far more folks than I'm readily willing to admit have difficulty tying their shoelaces in their morning, probably shouldn't handle dangerous implements like rubber spoons, and have occasional significant issues with veracity.

Perhaps I'm a wild-eyed optimist, but I still can't bring myself to believe that we benefit from dumbing down our society to the level of the lowest common denominator. A free society that actually acknowledges the rights of its' members as rights and not privileges is not risk-free...but it's a helluva lot nicer to live in.

The church down in Palm Springs called, happily enough, and asked me to knock out their Jan/Feb newsletter which should bring some needed lucre over the threshold, and it's been an adventuresome day or so otherwise. Two good job interviews that, while the positions pay for beans, felt really good - something about the phrases "over-qualified", "would we provide you enough challenge", and "gee, you've got a great resume" all tend to provide a warm fuzzy feeling when re-entering the job market.

Tonight, however, was the culmination of a recent series of events with two friends of mine..a couple. Call them Runt and Rotund. At 5' and 100lbs soaking wet, Runt certainly merits his name, as does his taller and more spherical partner, Rotund.

Seems Rotund is the soft-hearted sort, taking in not just cats (don't forget the cat) but two-legged strays as well. He's a good guy, as is his partner, Runt - Runt is just more practical. As is often the case, the two-legged variety occasionally turn out to be parasitical vermin, something Runt has a finely honed instinct for detecting.

This was/is the case with Rotund's roomie, who recently won the Bad Roomie Award w/ Gold Sphincter Cluster...after apparently making off with R'n'R's watches and a pair of rather nice rings they'd recently presented each other in recognition that "gee whiz, things are serious enough I wanna spend the next 40-50 years together". Vanishing metalwork is bad enough, but if sentimental value is attaches, say, like unto a wedding ring or similar trinket...the stakes go up.

BR miraculously found the trinkets, but not surprisingly, damage had been done. Tonight was the night of the Big Surprise Move.

'Bout 3/4 of the way through BSM, BR walks in...with broke-down furniture, dismounted curtain rods, and big packed boxes everywhere. Woohoo. Big diva queen fun. BR starts going on that since Rotund had supported/fed/clothed/bought trinkets for him for 6 mo (and covered the rent)...that Rotund OWED him various items of furniture Rotund had purchased, a computer, and sundry other items and services.

Runt, Co-conspirator, and I all stood back respectfully...and departed gracefully when asked to do so by Rotund so that he might...more freely express himself. Further deponent sayeth not. But on return, BR was gone, and we finished loading the cars and completed the "non-professional" phase of the move...oh, and did I mention cats?

Seems Rotund has an absolutely charming Maine Coon/ShortHair Something cross (I can't guarantee the Maine Coon...but it has everything but the tufted ears and the long hair, including the massive size) that is a bit reticent about travel. Kitty has found exciting ways to make its' displeasure mightily clear in enduring fashion. First off, a nearly 25lb kitty can make a really impressive argument about the notion of climbing in a cat carrier...but this was merely the warm up argument.

Upon start-up of R'n'R's vehicle Kitty shared a little gift that by itself shouldn't take more than a week or so to air out of the Volvo...but Rotund being a kindly soul, once the car was sealed, took Kitty out of the carrier to comfort Kitty....and hopefully reduce trauma. This was, of course, all part of the evil Kitty plan.

I never knew that cats could projectile vomit. Never would've guessed. Just didn't seem to think they'd be built that way. Still don't know what alternate dimension they stow a seemingly endless SUPPLY of the vile stuff...certainly they don't have sufficient internal volume to re-paint an entire windshield, dash, and leather front seats.

Most of the time, having a bum arm rather sucks. Now and again, however, exists a silver lining...say...when asked to help unload clothes and electronics from a stinking vomit-volvo, it can be *nice* to be able in all honesty to smile sorrowfully, point at the scar, and say "sorry, 8lb load limit - I can hold the door (and my nose too, at the same time)". Rare moments, certainly, but it seems silly to discard silver linings....

Kitty was still recovering in her new home when I left, and the boys, nauseated, unclean, and emotionally exhausted...but...with all that could've gone wrong, having it max out at Evil Kitty Plan seems like a pretty good outcome.

Off to see the Doc in the morning...get all checked in w/ the 2" of medical triviata from Palm Springs, and breakfast after. Woohoo!

Monday, January 1, 2007

AAAAAAAAargh. Posting attempt 3

Let's try that again, shall we?

It's been a long weekend, with a lot of fun and a lot less sleep. Saturday a 'net-friend popped into town, his first time in the big city, and wanted to be shown around...so, given he was drop-dead gorgeous and charming to boot, of course he got the bar tour of the local establishments. Actually quite a bit of fun, and the town has changed quite a bit in the 4+ years since I last did a grand tour...part of the fun, of course, was running about with someone who was seeing it all for the first time, and part was the evil pleasure of arguing "We really have to go to the Eagle to appreciate the full range of diversity in the community....." when one of my companions has been cringing in fear at such a thing for some years..since I took him to the ToolShed in Palm Springs and he spent the night with back plastered against the wall with such force that he left the "OL Memorial Buttock Prints" emblazoned thereupon.

Night wound up (more evil pleasure) with a moderately tossed 21yo listening to three older guys go at it (2 GOP, one LIB) on the topic of control as his lil' eyes bulged out at variously (1) Non-Dem Gays, (2) Pro-Gun Gays, (3) Non-Liberal Gays, & (4) Arguments thereamong not portraying members of the GOP as consistently diseased pustules of concentrated evil upon the buttocks of humanity. It didn't make it any easier for him that he'd already decided he liked all of us, and respected us.

Poor thing. Having ones worldview shattered is such a trying event. In any instance, my friend (who suffers from a bad case of "not from around here", being from Michigan and all) who was arguing that variously "Nobody needs an AK47 to hunt deer", "The 2nd Amendment only applies to a government sponsored militia", "Semi-Auto Rifles are Uniquely Deadly & Scary Weapons of Mass Destruction", and "97% of folks are too stupid to be allowed to have guns" was blessed with an educational evening as his boyfriend and I ganged up on him and spoonfed him reality....

He got to learn about the relevant titles in the State Code, the USC, that England has higher rate of violent crime per capita than most U.S. cities, that the most firearms-hostile cities in the U.S. are also the most violent (and oddly with the most firearms related deaths), that ballistically an AK47 matches up with a .30-30, that any modern rifle will solve the problems of most ballistic vests (no, virginia, it's not because the gun has a plastic stock....), and sundry other details that left this normally loquacious friend sufficiently baffled that he agreed that before voting on or commenting further he'd at least read the State Code and USC to verify my claim that every "bad thing" that could be done with a firearm (and quite a few things that aren't bad things at all) had long since been legislated as criminal acts...that further gun control attempts were simply misguided attempts at "looking busy" in the face of insoluble problems if painted in their absolute best and kindest light...

As lil' Gop'r tottered off into the night, brain-bent and intellectually battered (for some reason gay folk just get all boggled when you point out they are engaging in wild-eyed bigotry and elitism, or that they are suggesting that the government be authorized to determine who is "worthy" of civil rights), I meandered off into the pre-dawn hours to deliver my visiting and equally boggled friend back to his hostel...

New Years Eve was a blast...Brunch in the morning, then in the evening the same crowd, ending up on the basement dance floor at the big LGBT dance club in town (2+ dance floors, one with '80's music, is a GOOD thing). Was my visiting friends first adult New Years, and so he had way too much fun, and I actually got out on the dance floor (rare in any case) for the first time since Big Surgery last February. It was grand fun, but by 1am I was, with the exception of one rather special and charming gentleman, done for the night...and on those occasions I danced further, doing so w/ my right arm tucked in tight - immobile and out of harms way.

Everyone was delivered safely home, amidst curses at the shortage of 24hr dining joints in this town, and a good night had by all. Fortunately my designated "sober driver delivery service" was only required by one companion (the rest being within crawling distance of their homes), and after 2 nights out late for the first time in ages...I headed home and crashed.

And with all that..it only took THREE tries (w/ 2 Firefox implosions) to post this today/night...

To all a Happy New Year, and to All a Good Night...