Saturday, February 28

Barney, the squirrel

As I let Beta outside, I noticed a yellow string, curiously leading from the patio way up into the live oak tree. Turns out one of my ever-so-helpful squirrels had decided to take a roll of yellow twine from the patio, and it unrolled as the squirrel climbed. I broke the string so as to retrieve most of it, but a significant part is now out of sight, perhaps a part of The Squirrel's nest.

A few days ago, I caught The Squirrel eating from a bird feeder that's attached with suction cups to a window. The squirrel had bounded from the ground to a window sill, then made an acrobatic leap to reach the feeder. Needless to say, Beta was not amused and attempted to go through the window to reach The Varmint Squirrel. I have a squirrel baffle on the pole-mounted bird feeder (which attracts all sorts of birds, including a mini-flock of ravenous pigeons), and that does work very well .. will now have to reconsider keeping the window feeder (which attracts small birds such as sparrows) stocked.

I also have a 3rd feeder which contains only peanuts, but I seldom remember to restock that one. The birds which feed there - blue jays and cardinals - often leave the shell intact and peck out the peanuts, so it's hard to tell at a glance that a restock is in order.

Friday, February 27

AreEssEss , BuzzFlash, MyOwnLabels

An eWeek article titled New Styles of Blogs, RSS Take Center Stage at DEMO Show mentioned NewsDash (billed as a Web-based RSS aggregator) .. NewsDash is unrelated to BuzzFlash (based in Chicago -- home of the YCEC : Yankee Conservative Elitist Conspiracy). offers custom personalized labels for weddings, CDs, favors, food, wine, beer .. but surprisingly not mud flaps for duallies.

Thursday, February 26

If It Looks Like A Duck

While munching on some nice, organic snacks from Plocky's, I perused the Dallas County Elections web site (since I saw the sign reminding me that early voting for the March 9th primary is underway). Texas is not one of the 10 Super Tuesday states (those are: New York; California; Connecticut; Georgia; Maryland; Massachusettsl Minnesota; Ohio; Rhode Island and Vermont)

The Dallas County Elections web site now has links to the Dallas County Republicans; Dallas County Democrats; Texas Republicans; and Texas Democrats sites. Nosing around them reminds me that A Politician Is A Politician. I am so glad I changed my affiliation to the Whig Party.

Spotted: Never Again: A Self-Defense Guide for the Flying Public explains how passengers could deal with someone attempting to hijack an airplane. Deep Thought #27: I wonder if any al-Qaeda members added this to their Amazon Wish List?

Wednesday, February 25

Breakfast @ Gilbert's

Had breakfast with HayJax and Jill-Bob at Gilbert's Deli. JB was running late, mostly due to the rain-rain-rain.

I'm really surprised Gilbert's doesn't draw as big a crowd at breakfast, than they do for lunch ... and do not even try to squeeze in there at noon on Saturday! Among other things, they have the freshest omelets in the world! While there, HayJax mentioned Wayport (a high-speed wireless Internet company, based in Austin) and (unrelated) a movie called Polish Wedding (1998). Something about pickles in a cupboard .. hmm. Guess I should either renew my Blockbuster membership, or stop by Hollywood Video and pick up a copy of the DVD.

Monday, February 23

oh wow .. the colors, dude ...

Last week, our bowling team had a (fortunately very rare) complete meltdown, and lost 0-4. This week, we mostly recovered, winning 3 games of 4. I still bowled under average for the night, but better than last week once I decided I just needed to loosen up. It was well into the 3rd game before I got a strike: not good. Perhaps it's time to treat myself to a new bowling ball?

Instead of bloated bar food, I dined on Fresh Choice salad (edamame is your friend) for lunch and a turkey sandwich (salt and pepper, thanks) from Subway for dinner.

Sunday, February 22

BIG Kitty!

I finally got around to visiting the International Exotic Feline Sanctuary (IEFS) in Boyd, Texas since The George was in town (this was her truly great idea). The IEFS is nothing at all like those awful roadside attractions of years past, where helpless animals were paraded in front of a station-wagon full of tourists, and made to perform tricks on command.

As stated on the AZA website:
The purpose and goals of the IEFS are to provide a permanent sanctuary for exotic felines that have been abused, abandoned, neglected, confiscated or previously owned by people unwilling or unable to provide for these magnificent animals.
Currently, they care for 63 wild cats (tigers, lions, panthers, leopards, etc.) yet have to turn away another 5 a week. Kudos go to Billy (our tour guide); he allowed us to take our time, and the tour lasted nearly 2 hours (although it could be much shorter if we didn't ask questions). Like most of the workers there, Billy is a volunteer and does this because he loves the animals. He said his day job is a self-employed business, selling printer supplies.

At the IEFS, the visitor gets to spend some quality time learning the backgrounds, habits and feline quirks of the individual cats. These large cats spend the rest of their lives being nurtured until they die of natural causes (which is about 20 years old, for most of them). There is even a Big Cat Cemetery onsite. They have a lot of undeveloped land and may be able to take in more exotic big cats, if corporate donations recover (it's been difficult since the economic bubble burst a few years ago). This place was a leisurely 60-minute drive from home: highly recommended.

The road to Boyd (Texas 114) passes a half-dozen fireworks stands, Waffle House, a Dairy Queen, and Tater Junction (in scenic Aurora, Texas). It's hard to believe, but not there was no sign of a McDonald's Wireless connection after leaving Dallas.

Saturday, February 21

BIG wood floor!

Went to Fair Park this afternoon to see The Women's Museum which was good, but not great. I do give them 4 stars for interior design, though .. it's apparent that one of the Metroplex' Metrosexuals had a hand in this. The highlight of the visit was the photographic exhibit by Annie Leibovitz: great stuff.

I've thought about decorating my home with photographs that I've taken over the years, but not sure how well they'd enlarge to poster size (many are done with digital cameras, and start looking grainy in anything larger than an 8x10 inch enlargement). Roger-Bob pointed out that under-$1000 8MP (megapixel) cameras are starting to become commonly available.

Friday, February 20

Friday Five

When was the last time you...

...went to the doctor?
I went to the Medical City emergency room a few years ago when I had a throat infection. I don't have a regular, family doctor (not sure if my PPO even covers such a thing).
Deep Thought #26: Medical City is where those Egyptian twins were separated; if I ever decide to separate from my evil twin ("Lucky"), that's where I will go.
...went to the dentist?
Last month. I go for a routine cleaning about 3 times a year (I could probably go less often if I bothered to floss).

...filled your gas tank?
A few weeks ago, I think. I need to refill it this morning; maybe I'll do that at the car wash. enough sleep?
I get enough sleep every day, but on a weird schedule (a few hours here, a few hours there).

...backed up your computer?
A few weeks ago. Guess I should do that now, huh? I'll put the UD Agent in snooze and do that. Thanks for the reminder!

Thursday, February 19

you say Gourmet, I say Gore May

Single Gourmet has been around for many years, and has made the leap to the web in 17 cities, apparently. They have a well-established group here in the Metroplex: Single Gourmet Dallas-Fort Worth

I have several spare styluses (stylii ?) for my PDA, but I got them when I misplaced the first one (Murphy's Law being what it is, I did not find the Lost Stylus until I had purchased a 3-pack of replacements). is a good site, because it took multiple passes by the office supply store until I found the one that fit my PDA .. my time could have been better spent.

Monday, February 16


Lemme get this straight: ARMA used to mean Association of Records Managers and Administrators but their board met and decided it means Association for Information Management Professionals. Hmm .. was AIMP already taken? Answer: yes - it is the Association of Independent Music Publishers (among others, probably, but that's who owns the web site).

I've used the same CPA (certified public accountant) for many years, so I thought I'd check the Yahoo! Finance Tax Center to see if they are listed. Well, no .. for 2 reasons: 1) they are not one of the Sponsored Links (the first list which appears includes those who paid to have their listings appear first) and 2) because there are more than 200 CPAs who are nearer my home! My CPA is about 5 miles away, and the Yahoo! "Find an Accountant" list stopped after the first 200 (within 2.2 miles of home). Yee-haa .. that accounts [sic] for a lot of sharp pencils.

Project Life Saver is based in Chesapeake Virginia, and has something to do with accounting for Alzheimer's patients, but nothing to do with accounting for nutrition as does Precise™ premium pet food for dogs & cats. It also has nothing to do with the Sex Offender Database at the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Deep thought #25: monitoring could be a fulltime job.

Today's temp: 36-61F. Woo hoo.

Sunday, February 15

The Big Melt (and we're not talking tuna)

I heard the official snowfall in the Metroplex was anywhere from 3-6 inches, but you wouldn't know it today. Most all the snow (except in shady areas) has now melted, and it's predicted to be near 70F by the end of the week. Sayonara, Frosty.

Witness ye a 17th Century Blogger: The Diary of Samuel Pepys

Are You Ready to Love Blogging? discusses Microsoft employee's public weblogs (I gotta wonder if someone inside the company is in charge of monitoring these, to make sure The Proper Message is delivered). Can you say "spin doctor"? Good; I knew you could.

After reading about this anti-Valentine's site, I tried to check out but I could not; they have exceeded their bandwidth quota. Oh well .. maybe next month.

Saturday, February 14

the snow is falling!!! (part 18)

I woke at 6am to find an inch or two of heavy, wet snow outside .. by then the newspaper was already covered. At 7:30a I got my first call, from a neighbor who asked if my electricity was out (nope, sorry). Another call from a neighbor at about 10:30a asking if I knew when the power would be restored (she said she tried calling TXU but only got a recording saying all circuits are busy). I am surprised that TXU Energy didn't update their website, giving an update on the power outages happening across the area. Then again, I suspect they're working to restore power, rather than updating a website for those of us who still have power. Hmm.

I went to the backyard and noticed that the snow was weighing down the limbs which normally are far above the power lines stretching from the alley to my home. So, I went inside and got the telescoping pole I use for installing indoor floodlights, and took it outside to knock some of the snow from the branches, before it had a chance to fall on the power wires and leave me in the dark.

Then, I grabbed my camera and took several photos, so I can remember Valentine's Day 2004 in Dallas. FWIW, yesterday's high-low was 27-39F.

Friday, February 13

Friday Five

Are you superstitious?

What extremes have you heard of someone going to in the name of superstition?
I had a friend who would not walk on the other side of a pole or barrier if we were walking together.

Believer or not, what's your favorite superstition?
Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day will make the year lucky.

Do you believe in luck? If yes, do you have a lucky number/article of clothing/ritual?
No, but I do believe in coincidence and random numbers.

Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?
No; it is illogical.

Thursday, February 12

the sky is falling!!! (part 17)

i was emailed German RFID Scandal (to which someone inside my company quipped: "Katherine Albrecht is trying to be the Michael Moore of electronic privacy"). Germany is also known (historically) as the place where Leni Reifenstahl filmed her Hitler-era propaganda (well-delivered, to the point the viewer is oblivious). I found examples on a Washington University website: Propaganda Gallery

It's a pity the Silicon Valley Dwellers don't keep the Off Topic archive updated; it has some great (nerd-oriented) articles (note: their archive interface is bo-ring).

Closed Captions: a Richardson (Dallas suburb) company specializes in Voice Recognition Training: Verbatim Careers Institute. I've read discussions where it's said that real-time captioners must train for 3+ years before they are acceptable.

I never thought of Maryland as a rural place, being next to Washington DC and all. So I was entertained when I wandered across the University's student humor magazine: Maryland Cow Nipple. While they're not making people laugh, I'll be those Marylanders like to view Night Sky Posters from Indigo Night Graphics (including the Dallas skyline).

Tuesday, February 10

Liar, liar .. uh, how does the rest of that go?

spotted: is the latest website regarding President Bush and the war in Iraq.

bowling update: handicapped bowling is da bomb! Our two substitutes bowled very good last night .. giving us a 600+ handicapped series for each of us (mine was a 661, but I was beaten (by one lousy pin!) by Chris). He and Eric are welcome back anytime!

Sunday, February 8

bowling for chickens

our 4-man bowling team lost two members : one broke his foot yesterday and will be out from 8-12 weeks, while another came down with Herpes Zoster (commonly known as "shingles"), or as Billy Paul explains: chicken pox, part 2. Actually, our team has 6 official members, but one's out of the country so we will resort to Plan B (get the opposing team to feel sorry for us, at which point we all bowl back-to-back 300 games and BAM!)

I stumbled across a large collection of Java bloggers, which did not (no surprise) include Geoff Arnold, whose blog pointed me to another (no offense, Geoff, but far more compelling): Baghdad Burning.

Subway; Atlanta Bread Company; Quiznos; Blimpies; Schlotzsky's .. so many choices when all I want is a samwij.

Spotted: Daily Mislead

Saturday, February 7

The Great Campout

only one more hour, and The Great Campout will be over. Starting at 0845 Thursday, I've had some contractors working to refinish the wood floors in my home. Good news: wood floors only cover 3 rooms. Bad news: those 3 rooms are in the middle, so while the contractors are working, I am cut off from the other side. So, the pets and I obediently camp on this side, waiting.

the salesman told me there would be dust everywhere, and they actually did a good job containing it to the 3 rooms. having said that, the stuff in those rooms was susceptible to a very fine sawdust bath. one of my clocks now refuses to move the second hand; a ceiling light in between the two rooms now refuses to light; and my shiny, sparkly thing (hanging from the ceiling) is now covered in a fine layer of wood atoms.

day 1: move the furniture; vacuum; strip old wood surface; apply crack filler as needed; sand (and sand and sand ...)

day 2: apply desired resin coating (I chose "neutral" so as to bring out the natural wood, rather than hide it); apply first of 3 layers of sealer

day 3: apply layers 2 and 3 of sealer. contractor says it'll be dry by 3pm, but is vague about when I can start moving furniture back into place.

day 4 (Monday): cleanup (not sure what that entails - yet)

Friday, February 6

geek: biting the head off a live chicken or snake

I attended the Dallas-Fort Worth Unix User Group meeting last night (7p @ one of the many JC Penney buildings in Dallas).

stuff noted before and during the meeting:
  1. US President Gerald R. Ford, Jr. was born Leslie King, Jr.

  2. US President William Jefferson Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe IV

  3. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines geek as: (n) a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake

  4. a past DFWUUG President (1995-7) was there. John Keohane (now living in Austin) recently wrote an essay re: Paul H Douglas, proving once and for all that there is Life After Unix.

  5. Linux Fair (0900-1330) is 21.2.4 @ Nokia in Las Colinas. The sponsor is the North Texas Linux Users Group

  6. mentioned: John "MAD DOG' Hall, President of Linux International

  7. The Career SIG meets @ 6p (before UUG); it deals with human networking, jobs available, etc.

  8. Tonight's topic was Intrusion Detection, Prevention and Response and the speaker was Kevin Wheeler (president of InfoDefense)

  9. A map of hacked Wireless Access Points in Dallas was shown, but there was no URL to view afterwards. I Google'd and found two likely candidates: and

  10. wireless security step #1: disable SSID

  11. new acronym (for me): IPS = Intrusion Prevention System

  12. Gibson Research Corporation known for LeakTest (free quick firewall check)

  13. Nessus (security scanner)

  14. netstat is included w/MS-Windows: Start/Run/cmd then "netstat -?" (many options)

  15. Fport is from (free tool that shows what programs on your system are opening which port)

  16. security certification: Information Systems Security Engineering Professional from (ISC)2 (International Information Systems Security Consortium)

  17. ABG Antivirus

Thursday, February 5

network malfunction Democracy in Action has an ad that CBS allegedly refused to air during the Super Bowl (too controversial). In hindsight, I bet it wasn't as controversial as the Justin-Janet wardrobe malfunction.

Paul Krugman: Get Me Rewrite! is an article claiming the Bush administration is trying to rewrite history.

Wednesday, February 4

Card-Carrying Member of the ACLU

I was delighted to see that I have read two of the banned books listed on the ACLU of Texas web site: Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Grapes of Wrath. Both turned me into a raving sociopath. Sadly, the ACLU-TX website appears dormant; the last updates appear to be from 2002.

Gotta git a new phone, I reckon
Plain Old Cell Phones Fading Away in U.S. says "the market for plain old phones -- no color, no camera, no music or downloadable games -- is drying up in the United States" and "black-and-white screens are going to go the way of the black-and-white television very rapidly.' "

Tuesday, February 3

the story of Jell-O Head

A Canadian co-worker forwarded the sad story of Robert Chetwynd (a.k.a. Jell-O Head) in the drive-thru at Tim Hortons (a coffee franchise, started North of the Border). Note: the double-doubles at Tim Horton's are unrelated to the double-doubles at In-N-Out Burger (California, Arizona, etc.).

Aside: I have no clue if Mr. Jell-O Head is related to Chetwynd, the city (which I would like to visit this summer).

This reminds me of the legendary Caribou Coffee places in the Yankee states, which compete with Starbucks down here in Dixie. You can never have too many Starbucks; there are 4 locations within 5 minutes of my home, and I spotted a 5th one under construction a few weeks ago.

None of us had coffee in our systems at bowling last night; each of us posted a 630+ (handicapped) series .. first time we've done that all season. Hmm .. gotta do that again next week, and the week after, and the week after ...

Monday, February 2

Groundhog Day

my vote for best Super Bowl ad?
Shards O' Glass Freeze Pops. This ad made me LOL (laugh out loud) and nay, even snort (not to be confused with (the network intrusion detection system), which does not run on the all-wooden computers made by Luddite Industries.

Also, I note with some amusement that Justin Timberlake did see Punxsutawney Phil's shadow this morning, meaning that another 6 weeks of winter is ahead of us. Since there has not been so much as a single snowflake here in Dallas this season, I simply say: ho hum.

Sunday, February 1

In the presence of champions ...

Very cool news: Roger-Bob was named Volunteer of the Year at the Resource Center of Dallas' Volunteer Appreciation Party last night. He says they logged him at 504 hours last year, which is more hours that some people work for pay in a year! Great job, R-B!

What a mouthful
The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) has an item on their website about Not-So-Spontaneous Human Combustion, a topic which continues to fascinate me. Will I, someday, just burst into flames? This reminds me of the awe-inspiring 1998 Super Bowl Tabasco commercial, where a mosquito not-so-spontaneously combusted (and not a word of dialogue!).

Being Super Bowl Sunday, I will make my annual pilgrimage to the nearest Golden Chick Restaurant for some of their mouth-waterin' chicken wings. What? They don't have barbecued wings?!? Plan B: phone an order into WingStop (next to Kroger) or WingZone (next to Neighborhood Market) before the 5:25pm start! (None of this will mean much to the British Expatriates, who think football is played with a round soccer ball - ha!)

(speaking of Neighborhood Market) their parent company is in the news again: Wal-Mart on PR Offensive to Repair Image. The antithesis of Wal-Mart is small business, an example being the 12 people behind Guru Reports (Automotive-Related Research), who explain how I should wax my car (among other automotive stuff).

Random Spot: Texas Fast Facts and Trivia contains that silly myth about the Texas flag - the one that says it should be flown at the same height as the US flag is pure, unadulterated balderdash!