Friday, August 31, 2007

New Link

You'll have better luck if you've a livejournal account , but if you can see it, Wallrat is a man of wit, gentle humor, and great technical knowledge. And a good friend. Read & enjoy!

And how's Dad doing?

Was over at the hospital tonight, left Dad a note as he was zonked off in happyland. They are currently sedating him in the evenings.

Nurse told us that they changed the canula in his tracheotomy (the tube thing) and he is requiring less suction; it is yet to be determined if he is (a) simply starting to control his own secretions or secreting less, (b) a bright shiny new canula is all spiffy and making things better, or (c) some combination of the above. Social worker discovered from Mom he had his dentures there, and first session post-discovery with lipreader was apparently improved.

He is quite weak, and this concerns both Mom and I. Depression is an ongoing issue for him, so I've suggested to the relatives that keeping upbeat cards and letters coming is a *good* thing as Mom will read them to him and they seem to cheer him. He has his "talking computer" I built, but is not presently either up to, willing, or able to use it (weakness, remember?) ... it's hard to tell which.

Mom is doing reasonably well, though pushing herself quite hard - Tuesday was the first day she'd missed visiting the hospital since this all began back in mid-June. I'm very pleased that she is driving again and broadening her horizons, but somewhat concerned regarding potential exhaustion - which seldom ever increases ones effectiveness.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

On Sen. Craig

I've given this one a bit of thought, and can't say I care much for it. Yet forward through the flaming hoops of slime we shall tumble, in hopes it will be educational (or at least, having vented, I can ponder other imponderables).

First off, "ewwwwww" is a miserable basis for legislation. God knows it's tempting, but it's a slippery slope with rocks at the bottom. Personally, I would tend to favor requiring licenses for spandex and tight-fitting garments on aesthetic grounds - but where would such a thing end? Law should and must address injury, economic or physical (i.e., measurable) to some individual, and only then should it factor in such immeasurables as psychological damage and such.

Then let's look at the charging specification, shall we? The arresting officer states Sen. Craig engaged in behavior "often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct."

Oh, goodness my. If we are to see even-handed enforcement here, there won't be a singles bar (gay or straight) open in Minnesota by Friday. Perhaps I'm just hopelessly libertarian, but to me, any time one competent adult communicates to another competent adult a desire to engage in sexual conduct (say, in 20' letters of fire written across the sky - or perhaps more subtle mechanisms), unless one of the adults is *me* or my to-be-fondly-hoped-for spousal unit - it promptly becomes neither my business or anyone else's.

There are exceptions to the above rule. If someone is overly insistent in their amorous intent once declined, it is only reasonable that it become a matter of police interest; similarly, if force is used; again, if one of the parties is over-enthusiastic in expressing their disinterest in a liason (initiating the aggressive use of force is BAD, after all). But simple queries of, with greater or lesser diplomacy and verbiage, "Hey, wanna ____?" seem logically covered by freedom of speech, though they are frequently a bit blunt.

If I don't have to watch, listen, participate, or take notes on technique - I don't see how I have any interest in the matter. And neither should a police department with limited resources.

Tacky is not a crime, or entire regions of the nation would be depopulated and there wouldn't be enough jails to hold the guilty.

And then we come to Senator Craig, specifically. Sen. Craig is, in my estimation, a bit of a toad. Pity about that. I am seldom a fan of anti-gun politicians, nor am I any more a fan of anti-gay politicians. Sen. Craigs record speaks for itself.

Nonetheless, out of fairness, let us look at the possibilities. Trying *really* hard to be kindly and charitable, here.

First off, it could be that the good Senator is simply a dork. Coming from Idaho, certainly no hotbed of insurrection by the Festive Nation, Sen. Craig may very well have been *unaware* of the significance of his conduct to the same extent that many of the heterosexual persuasion are unaware of the "hanky code" of yore, or a fair amount of other rather specialized history and triviata in the LGBT community. Could be the man is simply dumb as a stump.

Secondly, let's look at where the man comes from in terms of both time and place. Sen. Craig emerges from the *very conservative* State of Idaho, a place where unlike say...Houston, Seattle, Minneapolis, or Toronto of today (recall, he's not precisely a youngster, and his values and world-view were formed a good while back), it's much easier to pretend *really hard* to be what you want to be (straight & accepted & successful) and do the whole "get married, try to have kids, and fake it" bit - particularly when in the Senator's long-distant youth he was coming to an understanding of the world...and explain away occasional "slips" as misunderstandings (drunken or otherwise), somebody elses fault, or temporary lunacy.

Given that frequently the "pretend really hard bit" involves going way the heck overboard in the opposite direction (taking an often physically violent, punitive, bigoted stance against LGBT folks), I wouldn't be really all that surprised if Senator Craig was an old-school closet queen.

The problem, though, with the "pretend really hard" approach is the cost. More than ever, in an era of rapidly diminishing privacy, secrets will out. And, even in conservative Idaho, denial can only be sustained for so long by even the very most understanding spouse/child/friend/acquaintance. There's an upper limit to the number of possible misunderstandings before certain questions become rather....obvious. Usually followed by a few rounds of "I'm not gay, never have been, never will be" by the closet case in question.

And once the biowaste mets the rotating oscillator, there is plenty of devastation, hurt, drama, and pain to go around for everyone. Divorce, ostracization, and more!

Faced with (in that era) ostracism, criminal charges, abuse, and poverty should he remain in Idaho on the one hand; vs. leaving family and friends behind as quickly as possible and building a life someplace more accepting; vs "pretending really hard" - in this scenario, a callow and somewhat shallow Craig voted for "pretending really hard".

A lot of folks have "pretended really hard". Just enough have gotten way with it to offer false hope to the desperate. Usually it ends badly, and in todays more accepting environment (in most areas, and if you're not in one of those areas, it is far easier to get out to someplace more accepting today - if nothing else, there are more such accepting places) it is thankfully a less common occurance.

I'm not particularly offended by Sen. Craig. Depending on what facts eventually come out, I may feel sorry for him as a relic of a past era; I may giggle and think a busybody bigot got precisely what he had coming to him; I may gasp and wonder "how could he not KNOW better?". Might even be a combination thereof.

Only time will tell.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Murphy, Romance, and Gay Death

Whingeing (sp?) is a fine old tradition, and one gloriously indulged in the blogosphere, so it's time for me to do my small part.

In a world where "gay dating death" occurs for the most part on one's thirtieth birthday, the prospects get a little thin on the ground something over a decade later - even considering the currently distorted demographic.

Between the two-legged petri dishes, the bugfuck crazy, the well-marinated in various recreational substances, and finally, the ones that're already hitched - the ones both available and interesting are somewhat limited in number.

This, of course, is where Murphy arrives on the scene giggling madly at his latest madcap prank - of the remaining number of potential mates, barring hell freezing over, there will either be a distinct lack of chemistry, actual visceral repugnance (as one observes the howls of terror from the dogs and small children shrieking over the horizon after exposure to a regrettable visage or fashion sense), or other factors shredding any realistic hope of romance.

That's not to say there aren't good folk and fascinating conversationalists amongst all of the above; just a distinct shortage of marriageable, or even dateable sorts.


That will be the kvetch for the day. That is all.

Feh. In the cool gray light of morning, when less cranky about long walks chasing urban transit and other matters, it seems only fair to admit that I've my own share of flaws and "unavailabilities" that contribute to events. Simply, like an old pair of jeans that're on the verge of falling apart, they're worn in and comfortable and haven't irritated me lately. (edit 0700, 08/29).

Monday, August 27, 2007

A brief introduction...

I really shouldn't be so greedy, keeping CrankyProf's blog full o' erudite snarking all to myself. So I won't. Read, share, enjoy! And good luck to the Squeaker!!


State Assemblman and State Senate candidate Mark Leno graciously provides us a link to his campaign blog where we can all make our opinion of his stand to protect the residents of the City and County of San Francisco from the dreaded scourge of exercising their rights and being treated like adults.

He proposes to ban gun shows from the Cow Palace, a facility owned by the State Department of Agriculture and thus outside the reach of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and his deeply misguided (and costly) attempts at a San Francisco wide gun ban.

The good folks at Pink Pistols (a LGBT pro-self-defense group) publicly took a stand against this silliness in 2005 during the attempt at the Great San Francisco Gun Ban (overthrown with the gentle help of a federal judge and the Second Amendment Foundation in 2006), but the misguided sorts seem to be coming back for another go-round.

Now, surprising as it might be to some, I actually have a nice word to say about a Democrat. State Senator Carole Migden - she's not Mark Leno. While not without flaws, she's not Mark Leno. While bereft, as far as I can tell, of any particular virtue...she's not Mark Leno. Helpful kinda guy that I am, I'm even going to provide a link to her campaign website where folks can donate.

The basic reality here is that for the foreseeable future, San Francisco and Marin County is going to continue electing whacky folks that'd be considered utter loons in the vast majority of the rest of the country. (See: Nancy Pelosi) Our sole hope is to contribute where we legally can (and yes, I know the argument "it's my money, dammit, I'll give it to whom I please" - it's just various judges and legislators disagree quite unpleasantly), and speak out loudly and with derision for the very worst of the lot.

While I'm a strong supporter of same sex marriage for fairly non-intuitive reasons, I'm also a big supporter of folks being able to defend themselves until the nice folks with badges and flashy pretty lights show up to take over the show - and this leads me to the notion that Newsom and Leno (among others) have crossed a line.

Specifically, a line sufficiently broad to require that I at least speak my mind in the most public venue available to me, and share my unvarnished opinion thereof - and encourage others to take such lawful actions as are available to them to remove these ninnyhammers from public life.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


The laws of probability dictate that even the whack jobs and the conspiracy theorists get it at least partially right now and again, more or less in the same way that a broken clock is right twice a day. Thus it is with a certain broadly derided blogger who expresses reservations regarding the RealID act - RealID is a bad thing, though for completely different reasons (and much more rational ones) than she cites.

RealID creates a National Identification Card via devious means, inflicting an massive unfunded mandate enforced with punitive measures against the non-compliant upon the states to create a standardized identification card out of their former drivers license programs and generates four main rational arguments against itself, with a plethora of lesser arguments in opposition.

Cost leaps out right away as an issue for all those who understand the notion of TANSTAAFL - the bills must be paid, and given the distinct lack of a National ID fairy flitting about the landscape dispersing nine figure sums of cash, the burden will fall almost entirely on the already cash-strapped states - to the tune of 120 million dollars a year, on average. Financially alone, RealID is a very bad notion. One reason that 17 states have passed legislation barring participation in the RealID scheme.

States Rights. Once the trite and discredited creed of apologists for the Old South, more and more folks in the West and the unfallen Northern states have hearkened to the old call in recognition that a dynamic tension and division of powers between and amongst the states and the federal centrist government is fundamental to preserving the basic freedom and diversity that allows each state to screw things up in it's own unique fashion (allowing fifty potential chances to get things right) as opposed putting all our national interests in the single basket of a top-down national government. RealID is a hefty step forward towards that top-down hierarchical structure of a national government simply instructing subordinate bodies.

Privacy. Because of the structure of the proposed RealID program wherein RFID chips with weak encryption are utilized carrying key personal data, a broad array of private and governmental misconduct becomes possible including enhanced opportunities for identity theft, improved stalking opportunities, indiscriminate commercial/private/governmental tracking of location/transactions/etc, and a fundamental breakdown in the concept of privacy (barring a warrant) from governmental and other intrusion. This does not even begin to contemplate the inevitable database intrusions and inadvertent (and occasionally malicious) data exposures.

From our beginning as a nation, a fundamental tenet of our national conversation is that we are all innocent until proven guilty in a court of law - accompanied by the equally important tenet that we are, in lieu of due legal process, secure in our papers and belongings. RealID reverses all this when, unless we take deeply inconvenient and questionably legal steps, our every move through life is tracked directly or through inference and maintained in massive national databases available to any schmo of a clerk in some organization trying to look busy.

For a particularly painful example, let us contemplate our lives as gun owners. I choose, because I have a dear friend in NYC, to visit dear friend. No problem thus far. However, the NYC Mayor, being a non-fan of private firearms ownership has implemented a plan to ensure his cities safety from bad thoughts.

He has instructed NYPD to implement a search of all incoming passengers data against the national databases containing CCW licenses, ammunition purchases, and firearms purchases in the last twenty years. Having bought a nice .45 LC revolver in the last year, and shooting it regularly, and made these purchases using my visa soon as I board my plane in Portland, I'm targeted for a *very special greeting* from NY's finest on landing at La Guardia.

You can do wonderful things with data, just like any other tool, but you can also misuse data manipulation in direct proportion to the potential benefit.

Oh, those 17 states? They cover the political spectrum. Try Tennessee, South Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, North Dakota, Washington, Montana, Arkansas, Idaho, Maine. (Courtesy of the Epic website.)

By the way - MYOB is "mind your own business". My government doesn't *need* to know what I own, where I travel, or to have the authority to deny me the right to travel until such time as they can get a judge to go along with the deal in public. Nor does any government I'm terribly comfortable with supporting. MYOB. (MYOB isn't mine...for it's origin, look to Eric F. Russell and "Then there were none".)


Full Room Air = No mechanical respiration, no additional humidity, no heating the air supply, no additional oxygen, no special filtering, etc. Just plain ol' air.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New stuff

Couple o' new links, over to who brings a delightfully wry and insightful view to things, and to Helena off in lovely Scotland who brings a delightfully different view to the table. Good writers, the both of them.

In other news, the talk box is (mostly) up'n'running and onsite @ hospital for Dad if/when he's feeling up to it. The talk box is that PC converted over to a text>voice I was babbling about a few posts back. Turns out that either XP or Win2k are good platforms for such endeavor, and that DSpeech is pretty cool as an interface. If anyone with more money than expenses is out there listening, the author of DSpeech would be willing to consider adding some user-programmable buttons for frequently used phrases...

Dad continues better, was on total room air today.

In other news, I'd been wondering for awhile if sparks would fly between Ambo and Babs, and to my surprise and delight, it appears they have. Couldn't happen to a couple of better folks, we should all be so fortunate. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Update

Was over visiting Dad today, who's been unusually zonked for the last few days, when we ran into an unusually lucid respiratory therapist - one who made it his business to make sure we *understood* the why's of what's going on with the respirator weaning process as well as the what's.

Essentially Dad has been sedated the last week because of what we were told was "unusual and possibly dangerous heart rates" and sedation (Atavan) was being used to counter. Fine'n'dandy.

But as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the it turns out, and not surprisingly, being weaned off a respirator can be a bit traumatic as it can feel like your air is cut off. Anxiety-producing, even.

Anxiety, in turn, ramps up the metabolism with increased heart rate and respiratory effort...followed shortly by aspiration and return to the respirator. As I understand it, this leads to the current regiment of a delicate balance between zombie and over-anxious during the weaning itself, followed post-weaning by bringing the patient back up mentally, if all has gone well.

Yesterday Dad was on heated & and humidified air w/o mechanical respiration for 16 hours. Today when we were in, he still required suction, but was on heated/humidified air with a 29% oxygen content, 98% oxygen saturation, a good sinus rhythm, and a heartrate of around 70...

Sounds like improvement, though not immediately apparent at a visual level, particularly as he was zonked on atavan when we arrived and his leads had disconnected when he'd moved...resulting in *instant* consultation time (I was good. I did not use the classic "He who shall be obeyed" in combination with attention getting verbiage. )

We'll see what the next few days hold.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

You know things have been a little odd when...

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz
You consider the above an *improvement*. :) (Hey, gotta conform SOMETIMES) :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Talker Project

For anyone interested, there will be a how-to with all the fun details, when the talk-box is delivered and works to user satisfaction. Proposed user is suddenly hesitant, understandably, about potential interaction of cables and respirator tubes. (Valuing proposed user, this seems unlikely as all cables within 8' or so of the bed are encased in 1.5" wire loom).


The pay, at best, is adequate - but why do I like working IT, and particularly tech support roles?

It's the ah-ha moments. Almost as bad as politics, tobacco, whisky, gun shops, and cute guys the the "ah-ha" moment subtly addicts, as the momentary flare of triumph over tech and/or the forces of ignorance (and now and again, fear and stupidity) surges through ones veins and a sense of rightness with the Universe pervades - at much lower cost than most other such vices - hell, I get PAID to have these little triumphs.

Today I got several - I won't turn down a raise, should one come my way, but keep me in "ah-ha" moments and the occasional compliments, and I can stay happy for a fair amount of time before economic reality sets in.

Really must adjust that viewpoint. :)

Friendly geeks the talker project.

NWFreethinker says (9:04 PM):

brb...gotta check a backup...and if I'm lucky initiate a RAID 1 conversion

Ditmir says (9:04 PM):
NWFreethinker says (11:52 PM):
Ditmir says (11:53 PM):
NWFreethinker says (11:53 PM):
NWFreethinker says (11:53 PM):
I was hoping to bullet proof things a wee bit by mirroring
Ditmir says (11:53 PM):
NWFreethinker says (11:53 PM):
as from dad's point of view this will be a mission critical app
NWFreethinker says (11:54 PM):
and had spent considerable time getting all set up so it'd be possible
NWFreethinker says (11:54 PM):
only to discover after taking the drives dynamic
NWFreethinker says (11:54 PM):
and achieving blue screen of death status
NWFreethinker says (11:54 PM):
requiring FINDING and then using an install disk, the repair console, and a new boot.ini to fix...
Ditmir says (11:55 PM):
ew. fun.
NWFreethinker says (11:55 PM):
that y'all can't get there from here. At least not without a 3rd HDD and a "scream twice and start over with a reformatted Hard Drive adventure."
NWFreethinker says (11:55 PM):

Of course, 4:30 is going to come awfully early, and due to some truly enthusiastic road work, the entire region is at risk of shutting down tomorrow morning…there is talk of 30 mile backups and other big fun.

Ah well. Did get the “talker system” put together, and the old data backed up onto a USB drive. And tested that a 16’ keyboard and nouse cord set, wire-loomed together to prevent tangling with Dad and/or medical equipement, actually works out pretty well. At the same time, got some waste wood pushed through the table saw to create a tray for the keyboard and mouse to rest on..

I’m having another glass of club soda, then off ta bed. G’night all!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A long day

It's a bit narrative,'s my blog, dammit.

Kept busy Saturday, crawling out at 7, and after breakfast, built a linux voice-to-text box utilizing the "Festival" package set. Can't say I'm really happy with it, but since I was making software designed for the KDE desktop to work on a Gnome desktop (quickly, where the various generations of Windows have ONE user interface that is "just Win" for that generation - Linux has DOZENS of possible user interfaces, the way things look/feel/act/interact and KDE and Gnome are the two big kids on the Linux User Interface block), I'm not sure it's a fair comparison to what I've been playing with building a similar Windows box.

Suffice to say it made ME cranky, and I'm not having to tramp through diminished motor skills to try and make it work. If I had diminished strength and skills in my hands, it would make me truly crazy. The fonts were not adjustable, you couldn't change the speed or pitch of the voice engine significantly, and importing additonal voices was...challenging. Most annoying was that you couldn't just type what you were trying to say and hit enter and have a voice erupt. You had to mouse up to the top of the screen and click on a teeny tiny "play" button.

Not good when your hands are shaky to begin with. We're sending the Linux text>voice concept back to the stable until I can dedicate the time to switch a box from Ubuntu to Kubuntu (Gnome vs. KDE) and run the software on the desktop it's intended to run on.

At the same time, I spent a fair portion of the Saturday cleaning up an old Windows 2000 PC and setting it up as Dad's talker box. Since there's software on there I'd like to keep, I can't just nuke the hard drive and start from scratch, and as a result it slows things down.

Amids all this , visited Dad, got the magazines as done as Mom will let me (years of accumulation, to the point of fire hazard and other issues), got a walkway cleared through the basement disaster area, and will start on the RAID box if I get all enthused again. A long day, over all, but productive.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Project #1 (Long, Geekish, Possibly Educational)

Alright, project #1 is multi-tasking.

1) Build & Test RAID 5 Array utilizing MDADM Raid Software under Linux. Take apart, go to #2
2) Build & Test (and perhaps set up for external exposure) RAID 1 under Redhat Antique, upgrading to utilize MADM 2.6.2 requiring GLIBc2.3
3) With spare HDD generated under 1 & 2, build text>voice PC for Dad, first under Linux, then under Windows XP or 2k.

Why, you ask, this rather complex approach? And what is RAID 1 or 5, and why do I care? And what's this about Linux? You're writing this on an XP box after all!

Well, the answer is complex. Suffice to say I need to first learn how to build a software-controlled RAID 5 array (I'll explain what that is in a minute) utilizing whatever flavor of Linux comes to hand (I like Ubuntu, a LOT - at least partly because it's an easy install on even moderately modern hardware), just so I know how and can say I've done it.

RAID translates to "Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives" and comes in six main flavors with a variety of toppings; the main goal is to increase the speed at which the computer can get at stored data, and at the same time make that data safer (ideally) by hedging ones bets against hard drive crash. It's an approach mainly found on servers, but with HDD prices coming down, a RAID 5 array can give one a warm/fuzzy/safe feeling when it comes to ones data - and while no substitute for regular/religious backups, can get you back up and in business a great deal faster than restoring from tape/cd/dvd.

In other words, if you're a belt'n'suspenders sort who scatters fire extinguishers and firearms in safe and strategic locations throughout your life - RAID may just give you that same warm'n'fuzzy feeling about your data when combined with good backup practices ("I've done MY part, the rest is up to the Fates!")

"So what's this RAID thing you go on and on about?"

RAID Level 0 splits all your data as it is written and puts an equal portion on each disk. This is/was a speed trick, because by sharing out the data being read/written across several hard drives read/write heads, each head does a less work faster. Think of thirty folks writing " I will never use this" a total of a hundred times between them vs. one person writing the same sentence a hundred times - the group finishes the job first. Speeds things up, but if one drive crashes, every shred of data on the group of hard drives is gone forever - even if 9 out of 10 are just fine.

RAID Level 1 makes exact copies of data on several (2+) hard drives - if you have 1 primary disk, you have 1 secondary/mirror. If you have 10 primaries under this scheme, you have 10 secondaries. If a primary drive croaks, the secondary picks up the slack till you throw a replacement for the deader in, and then the "secondary" writes back to the new primary. Not cheap, due to the 1:1 ratio of hard drives.

RAID Level 2 obsolete, seldom if ever used in the real world. Requires 39 drives to pull it off (not 38, not 40). Not especially practical.

RAID Levels 3 and 4 take your data when it's being written and schmear it in equal portions in what are called "stripes" across several hard drives, and keeps a record of what's where (parity) on a special drive set aside from ONLY that kind of thing. Should a non-parity drive melt down (one of the ones with data on it) , the parity drive can rebuild the data. Downside is that this approach slows things down as the parity is figured out and written when the data is written, more steps=more time. Bonus is that if you do have a data drive drop dead, if you've put a spare drive on in advance, the array can pick it up and roll it in as a replacement without your intervention - but don't forget to pull the deader and replace it with a shiny new spare.

RAID Level 5 is for big kids and kids that like really cool toys. It takes your data as it's being written ans splats it AND the parity data across several hard drives (3+, all identical). Since it can read and write at the same time, speed picks up, and again, if one drive drops life is good. Two or more drives dropping at once, and you're in deep kimchee with total data loss (unless you've been backing up regularly). A bonus on this approach is that you use multiple identical drives, and the storage you get boils out to "n-1" where n represents the total number of drives - thus, if I have 3 100gb HDD in a RAID 5, I effectively have 200gb of HDD storage available to me; conversely, if I'm flying at RAID 1, if i have two 100gb HDD, I've 100gb of effective HDD space. Ick.

The reason that RAID is cool at home or in other environments is that it's dependable (like all things, if done right) and in 1/3/4/5 (additional levels exist, I've just burbled enough), and if you've ever restored the hard way (from CD/DVD/Tape/Etc)'s a whole bunch faster. And for the bad children among us who don't back up, RAID can save your bacon (not "will", but "can") if all goes well after a hard drive crash.

For just a nasty moment or two, think of what's on your PC - and how much fun it would be to lose it all. Now, think back-up and RAID and see how warm'n'fuzzy it leaves ya feeling.

Now as a less-evil techie guy, I *like* to test out stuff on my own gear before trying it on other folks. I tend to think this approach adds a certain...stability and peace of mind to my little world. Cuts down on the number of embarrassing surprises.

That brings us to building that Redhat Antique box. A buddy has an Antique box that he uses in his business - someone back in the late '90's built it for him and hung, what for the time, was a cool new thing called RAID 1 on it. It's getting old'n'sick, but he's asked me to limp it along for him and keep an eye on it for him. So...before setting my alleged evil genius loose, I've kidnapped an old PC of mine and am using it as a disposable box that if I succeed I'll turn into a back-up file server here at the house - but if I fail, I've only trashed my own equipment.

We'll see how it goes. G'nite all.

Catching Up...

Things have gotten a tad busy and/or I've been known to decline into "me go home now, fall down, go boom" level of directness when sufficiently tired - with necessary levels of crankiness employed to remove obstructions between myself and the corner I've chosen to fall down in. By mid-week, I was fairly direct and have largely remained thus.

Just about Tuesday, as I mentioned before, Dad made what we all hope will be his long term escape from ICU to his first therapeutic stop over at the Breathing and Extra Complicated Care Facility. Between one thing and another, he qualifies.

Thursday I got over to see Dad after work, and he was quite tired but was watching television. He is still getting accustomed to his tracheotomy tube, and in attempting to adjust it Thursday morning started some bleeding which took a bit to resolve, but finally cleared up.

I'm told that last night he made the trip to London on Hallucinatory Airlines and didn't get a wink of sleep, but apparently enjoyed himself. As I recall all too well, departing tedious reality when cooped up in a hospital can be a morale boost as well as offering recuperative benefits - given the choice between being miserable and mentally present, and miserable and off in happy-land, I'm pretty ok with folks visiting happy-land so long as it's not overdone and the return trip is properly scheduled.

However, after such an exhausting trip, Dad was quite tired today, and slept a good deal - however, the folks at the facility have had him sitting up for a couple of hours a day now, and taking a few walker assisted steps. Small, but significant progress.

This weekend is likely to be another busy one...I'm going to try and start a load of laundry before I hit the sack, but in addition to visiting Dad, there are a couple of ceilings calling out to me as needing painted, and with a couple of exceptions (mainly the keyboard and a trackball) I've got the pieces I need for a build of the machine itself, and the software has been ready for sometime.

Mom is tired, but mostly well. She is, of course, quite concerned about Dad - but the upshot is that she can now drive herself over to visit him without serious drive-related stress, and that's (I think) good for her, allowing a previously difficult level of independence for her, and more ability to set her own schedule without worrying about rides or cabs. We all have our good days and our bad days, but are bearing up.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A good friend sent me this....

Back in December, Seattle had a bit of weird weather. In fact, it had a whole winter full of weird weather, even for Seattle, which while it doesn't have the worlds weirdest climates, certainly has one of the damper, soggier, and moldier ones - combined with very steep hills, lots of trees (many of them rather....shallow-rooted) and about once every four or five years, serious snow.

Last winter was kind of a jackpot. Wind, rain, snow, and a fatality by drowning. Kate Fleming, the narrator of some 250 audio books, and mourned by family, friends, and her partner, Charlene Strong.

Charlene's account was published in the Seattle Times the other day, and a friend forwarded this to me. There's a reason folks think marriage is a good idea....for everyone that can find someone mutually tolerable.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dang it...

I'm falling behind (again), dang it. I'm trying to keep up and for once make 31 *quality* posts in 31 days, and I'm already two days behind. Drat.

But before I get going I need to steal a phrase and ask "What in gay hell is THIS?" GayPatriot gets the credit for bringing this to my attention, but I can't say I favor this any more than a fire or police chief forbidding his/her/etc sundry troopies from marching in uniform on their own time, perhaps even w/ departmental eqp't that's not immediately mission-critical (I'm a little more conflicted about tax payer dollars being spent to have ANY governmental employee paid to march in ANY parade - call me an equal opportunity cheapskate, if you must!).

But moving along, after noting that I hope the firefighters involved can retire to a comfortable life of ease on their winnings and wishing a year of daily wedgies on the dingbat who would give such an GayPatriot notes, a gay firefighter ordered to attend the Rev. Phelps B'day Party, Revival, and Cross-burning Parade would certainly be entitled to a big ol' hissy fit with judges and juries and chocolate icing...certainly turnabout seems only fair.

Dad has made the great escape (hopefully for the duration) from the ICU at the local version of the GFB Hospital on Pill Hill to a place specializing in resipiratory and complex cases, and noises are finally being made about a diagnosis of TIA rather'n stroke, which suggests a more positive prognosis.

Pace picked up today a bit at the office, with some linux and software RAID issues, testing a database script, and sundry other adventures. Of course, with the phone system melting down, the first half of the day was kind of slow.

And, speaking of melting down, it's that hour of the night when I'm starting to wrinkle around the edges, so a good evening to all, and to all a good night.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Updates and things

Well, Dad is perkier and much more alert, but conversely, since he's more alert, he's much more desirous of his usual chatty ways and much more easily frustrated when communications via letterboard fail. Overall, he's better.

A social worker spoke to Mom on Friday about moving Dad from ICU to an acute care facility now that he has his tracheotomy in place and stomach wall feeding tube. A family friend with a history in nursing brought some salient questions to the table about the importance of continuity in care and questioning why a transfer direct from ICU to an off-campus acute care facility was advisable when non-ICU beds were available on-site and much closer to more intense services should it all go pear-shaped...

On another front, I learned to turn a WinXP box into an assistive text>speech device (next: migrating application from test-bed to production environment). A free program called DSpeech translates typed text to spoken word rather nicely, and I know where I can get a large key keyboard.

My biggest problem is that ideally, I need someone clueful that can weld or do amazing woodwork (welding is better, I suspect, from an infectious disease standpoint - easier to wipe down metal and keep it sterile). What I am imagining is a mutant hospital bed table wherein as Dad lays in bed, the top of the stand holding the keyboard at an adjustable height and a flatscreen LCD monitor and a pointing device (I'm thinking a large trackball with low sensitivity/click rate).

Ideally the CPU box would be a tower, slung low on the support base of this mutant wheeled table.

So, am beginning the quest in search of someone that knows how to weld (I don't) and contemplating which PC gear to pirate for my cause out of the house here, or alternatively, picking up a new dedicated box (appealing on a number of fronts) that Dad can wheel around - essentially a disposable PC that's designed around the notion it's going to take a beating, fail, and then be replaced.

Mom is running low on steam as we approach 2 months in, and I grow concerned. Understandably, she wants to be at the hospital every day, but at when approaching the eighth decade that is not an entirely supportable pace - particularly when to/fro involves cab rides or, alternatively, attempting the drive herself or doing the bus thing.

This is not made any better by the impending 11 day traffic adventure in the area, with the major north/south freeway closing to one lane in each direction - traffic is predicted to back up to 33 miles (or more) by the State DOT unless at least half of commuters abandon their cars in favor of buses or other forms of transportation.

Finally, on a more upbeat note, Mom and I picked up some lights for the kitchen today on the way back from the hospital. Working on getting the house sufficiently beaten into shape that Mom feels confident she can make the whole thing work on her own, if she needs to (the new job requires me to travel, if naught else).

Being able to see to cook, run the furnace controls, and generally keep the place in working order has its' little advantages. Dad's not got a lot of strength in his hands so I'm struggling to install some faucets that turn easily I bought a few years ago, before he gets back so he can at least wash his hands w/o asking for help...a ramp in front of the house is also on the "to-do" list.

Another day, another adventure.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Simpsonized...where's me glasses?


Now and again, it can be nice (in a warped kind of way) to get the kind of sharp poke in the slats that while it doesn't do any actual harm, does provide an inspirational stimuli and a bit of food for thought.

Perhaps I'm just odd, but I don't insist that I agree with everything I read or everyone who writes it - not merely at the detail level, but at the macro level as well. Everyone sitting around in a circle nodding their head while uttering "uh-huh, uh-huh, Kumbayah" in self-congratulatory agreement doesn't strike me as terribly stimulating, or likely to produce a great deal of original thought (or even thought that while previously expressed by others, is bright/shiny/new unto the thinker).

I read folks and material I disagree with, sometimes regularly, to the extent my digestion will tolerate such adventures - because I disagree with them, because they are thinking differently than I am, and in some cases because I want to keep a weather eye on them.

For instance, I'll read an anti-gun blogger, just to see what happy fun the lovely souls of that inclination dream of ram-rodding through the next meeting of the Legislature. On the same note, I keep a weather eye out for the Rev. Fred Phelps and his vile ilk out of a similar sense of wanting to know where the hostiles are - but those are extremes, and much more commonly, I'll enjoy reading a pro-life piece or a pro-abortion piece (I actually disagree with both schools of thought in that arena) because, who knows? Some writer in either camp may come up with a take on things I hadn't considered, and re-order my thoughts for the better.

We all come to the table with prejudices, some more socially acceptable in a given era than others, just as we all come to that same table with preferences - two sides of the same coin, really. To me, intellectual honesty demands I admit it when, based on whimsy/prior experience/rampant emotionalism/etc (take a choice on a given day) that to the best of my ability I fess up to these shortcomings (I.e., "I rarely agree or rarely agree on a 1:1 basis with thus and so, but consider them a good person/writer/carpenter/etc) and having admitted the intellectual flaw, man up and try and wade through the prose with what passes for an open mind - i.e., being conscious of my preferences/prejudices, and trying to keep them somewhat restrained as I scroll through.

Other folks do it differently.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Blog Tag....

The Queen of Dysfunction has tagged me, and it seems only reasonable that if I expect HER to respond to the meme tag I sent her several days ago, the least I can do is respond to her tag.

1. Copy and link to this post (meaning these rules and the Award icon).
2. Reflect on five bloggers who cause you to gnash your teeth when reading their posts, but who you nevertheless feel compelled to return to and read time and again. Write a short sincere (or not) paragraph about each one
3. Make sure you link this post so others can read it and the rules.
4. Go leave your chosen bloggers a comment and let them know they,ve been given the award.
5. Put the award icon on your site.
6. Did I mention you should link this post?

This award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have motivated you to unleash fire breathing partisan posts of your own. Carefully crafted logical arguments and good writing are a bonus but don't overlook particularly sharp satire, biting snark, or a high octane flamer. Try to keep the quality high, but in a pinch, feel free to substitute your basic journeyman partisan hack.

Well. Such an assignment. I'm honored, really. I think I've managed the first bit.

Now on to the second, honoring bloggers that on occasion launch me off onto tangents either by request or because they simply provide enough of a bump in the road to jar loose original thought.

1) Lawdog. Lawdog's was the first blog I could be troubled to read after running across his fine writing on TFL (I believe) and coming to the conclusion that I wanted more of those stories -and the conclusion to the Pink Gorilla Suit Story. However, once in a while he (I am certain with no particular intention) will wind my crank and off I'll go....

2) DiamondMair. Back in December, she was the first one to stumble and comment on my blog, and has once or twice suggested topics for me to play with - and the posts I wrote even turned out half-way decent. She's also a pretty good writer.

3) Babs. A fount of kindness and common sense, as well as good writing - and no small beauty in the bargain. I enjoy the incisive way she cuts through the silliness to the core of matters, and the occasional goring of sacred cattle is a pleasure to behold. If only she were a guy .

4) Marko. I *know* I have a soft heart, and one that will likely always keep me a (l)ibertarian rather'n a (L)ibertarian. He makes logical points, is a talented writer, and believes in his principles. I just can't always bring myself to agree with him, even when intellectual honesty coerces me to admit that he's right on the facts and the logic. A good read, and a good inspiration for the allegorical pen to emerge on occasion.

5) Riverdog. Well, what can I say? I rarely agree with him, but he certainly can inspire the occasional responsive rant....

Now that we've got that out of our system, what say we have a lovely Friday night doing laundry and chores? :)

Disaster & Imperial Visits

Alright, I've had it. Been good and held my tongue, but just can't anymore.

The last thing in the whole wide world that a medium to major disaster/crisis area needs is a visit from the President or First Lady and their security/support entourage to soak up resources that could be better devoted to rescue and damage control - and a pox with purple pustulent boils upon the genitalia of those who would suggest that not rushing to inflict Presidential Presence on a disaster area is an indication of a lack of caring, support, or interest by said President.

A Presidential visit, or even a recently past President/First Lady visiting, is a huge pain for local emergency services ranging from amp'd up emergency medical response lest the Great One inhale a stogie, stroke out, pass out in a compromising position, or whatever - and limited law enforcement resources are drained away from actually helping to protect the Great One from said Great One's "un-friends".

Our President and sundry lesser Great Ones (at least in their own mind) need to have the balls and the self-respect to stand in front of a television camera and say "No, I'm not going to disaster du jour - my presence would inflict unnecessary suffering on those already hurting, divert needed resources from assistance and recovery, and just generally screw things up beyond current levels of chaos. I care, I wish I could responsibly go, but where my presence will only make a bad situation worse I know it's my responsibility to stay away."

George, Laura - stay home or stay in the air. Unless you can run a crane or hold a degree in forensic mechanical engineering, y'all are a burden, not a help.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Feh & Other notions

Well, Dad had his tracheotomy today, and I'm told he came out of it reasonably well. Still a bit logey when Mom left for the day, but well.

I won't be seeing him for a couple of days...I've been staying away because I thought I *might* be coming down with something, but I'm increasingly certain that as my chest and sinuses intermittently turn to slime that staying away from the ICU is a favor to everyone on the floor.

Hopefully things will continue to improve for Dad, and I'm exploring the nature of some assistive technology. The way it works is that someone with vocal difficulties types a word or phrase into a computer, and the computer then blats forth in a depressingly artificial (yet understandable) voice the typed phrase. Mom tells me Dad is excited by this notion, but I am still exploring the tech - given that he's in isolation (due to the MRSA issues) I *really* want to know if:

a) A computer I place in that environment should be *disposable* (i.e., once it goes in, it can never come out). This will affect my choice of hardware, at the very least.

b) The EMI issue - will a *normal* PC tossed into a medical environment interfere with monitoring equipment? Granted, the in-room PC that the staff use for medical record-keeping appears a fairly standard beast...but for all I know, once you pop the top it could have all sorts of funky shielded cabling and boards and oddness. Experimentation does not seem an appropriate practice in this environment.

I suspect I'll need, given that Mom is distinctly non-tech, to have a little chat with the Rehab folk and the hospital folk - I'm also told that many hospitals maintain an "assistive technology library" under one organizational title or another....something to look into, though remotely for the moment...