Saturday, December 31

Restricted Sites == Less Spyware

running several PCs gives me the chance to try things in parallel to see which approach works best. with that in mind, I've noticed that one PC almost never gets infected with spyware, while another is hit frequently. yet, i access the same sites from both computers.

it dawned on me (!) that I'd once added a long list of Restricted Web sites to one PC; I should probably do that on the others. Sadly, the Firefox browser lacks that feature (although it's available as a Plug-In) - their Adblock Extension tries to do the same thing, but it's cumbersome to add a list of sites.

Next, I ran SpyBot and it found The Usual Suspects (ignored by Microsoft AntiSpyware), which I've blogged about before. I deleted the spyware, and will run SpyBot again in a week or so to see if the Restricted Sites change made the expected impact. Worth noting: I populated it automagically using IE-SpyAd.

Aside #9/7: It appears that Microsoft has decided their AntiSpyware product isn't ready to exit Beta test yet (it was due to expire today). Now, I see:
Session.TimeBombDaysRemaining: 213
Session.TimeBombExpirationDate: 7/31/2006

Friday, December 30

Flip-Flap Paddy Wack

Today, I went in search of a Flip-Flap. I didn't know if I'd find one in Dallas. By 2pm, I had found one, in a real, live B&M store; now it's sitting by a window, waiting for sunrise.

For those of you Uncultured Dolts (!) who don't know .. a Flip-Flap started as a solar-powered flower pot. There's an artificial flower in the middle, and two petals which move slowly and quietly when exposed to sunlight. It's a simple design; now I just need a few hundred more to give the illusion of my horticultural skills.

Now, they have branched out .. Daniel (now in Los Angeles) emailed an MPEG of one which looks like a frog nodding his head left-to-right. I suspect those are part of The Next Wave, which will make their way to Dallas by 2008. He says the first one he saw was at a duty-free shop at Narita Airport ~3 years ago, and now they are widespread (he claims to have given about 50 of them as gifts).

I found mine at Bonane Gifts (2558 Royal Lane, slightly east of I-35E), after making a brief stop at Hong Kong Market Place (where the clerk said I wouldn't find one in Dallas, and that I should just go to eBay). I first spotted this stretch of Korean-owned stores and restaurants on Royal Lane, when trying to bypass the LBJ traffic (en route DFW Airport).

By the way, this was the last Flip-Flap at Bonane today, but the store's owner said she has ordered more. I'll be back.

Aside #8/3: I was actually looking for "Sam Moon's", which was at 11635 Harry Hines, but recently relocated to 11826 Harry Hines (just north of LBJ-635). There are lots of buildings under contruction in that stretch of Harry Hines (between Royal and LBJ), so it may become even more of an ultra-cheap shopping destination, Real Soon Now.

Aside #8/7: An Indian shopkeeper directed me to a place called "Shopper's Alley" (dozens of stores, 11422 Harry Hines) .. it's perpendicular to Harry Hines (north of Royal) and easy to miss, unless you're looking for it. I wasn't brave enough to get out of the car; parking is precarious at best, and many cars were in dire need of body work. I wasn't about to add mine to the list.

Thursday, December 29

your battery backup last intervened on ...

Today was the first annoyance with my shiny new ADSL 2/2+ modem ..

My home took a "power hit" this morning, around 8:45. All my computers are attached to a UPS; the local electric current is too unstable for computers, otherwise. In addition to providing backup power, all modern UPS provide a clean, filtered power source. Power here is interrupted once a month or more .. durations between a few milliseconds and a few minutes. APC PowerChute says:
Your battery backup last intervened on 12/29/2005 at 8:46:26 AM.
When the power blipped this morning, it interrupted the DSL circuit. It took me a few minutes to realize that the DSL modem had not restarted the WAN (PPPoE) interface, and I needed to relogin via the mini-webserver on the modem. It only took a few seconds but .. will this happen each time power is interrupted? Or, did I neglect to write my login/password to the modem's flash memory when I installed it? (I'll add this to "Things That Make Me Go Hmmm In The Night")

Regardless, now I'll prowl the house, seeking devices with a blinking [12:00] indicating no battery backup.


Addison, TX at 7:47 am CST
Sunny , 43ºF
Hi: 72 Lo: 51

Just another chance for me to dig at whoever provides Yahoo! with weather .. can't your programmers adjust the high or low to coincide with the current temperature, if it falls outside the forecast range?

For those of you Just Waking Up, this means that instead of forecasting a low of 51 today, it should say 43 - the current temperature. Is that so hard?

Wednesday, December 28

life after David

Looks like TiVo found back-to-back episodes of The Office Christmas special (2002). For a series that had only 14 total episodes (2 of which comprise the Christmas special - more like a movie unto itself), this is a remarkable piece of thespian delight. If you're a fan of this British TV series, you'll probably adore the special, as it's an update on what happened to David Brent (played by Ricky Gervais) after being sacked .. not to mention how the rest of the Slough office is carrying on without him. No wonder it won a Golden Globe (best TV comedy).

Gervais' performance in the 2-part special was also, without a doubt, spot on. Sadly, there are indeed managers like that.

Tonight, HayJax and I moseyed to Lucky's Cafe (3531 Oak Lawn) for some comfort food. I did broccoli and squash, alongside a Swiss mushroom chicken breast, not to mention a hefty dose of blackberry cobbler. {burp} Supposedly their breakfast is also worth trying; perhaps I'll mosey to their Frankford Road (@ the Tollway) location sometime and try it.

Monday, December 26

reading, writing and .. aw, who cares?

The National Center for Education Statistics recently conducted a study, the results of which show that only 31% of college graduates are proficient in reading comprehension. Apparently the study involved reading a complex book, and being able to extrapolate from it.
For those of you who can't do math, either .. this means that 69% of college graduates are not proficient in reading comprehension.
At last .. something which explains how President Quagmire could have been re-elected in 2004.

We must stop these (illiterate) college graduates from voting in future elections.

Unrelated: environmentalist Kristi Chester Vance of San Francisco is alleged to have said
"Allow me to put in a plug for Hanukkah, which celebrates the miracle of a little bit of oil lasting eight days ... You've got to love a holiday that's all about energy efficiency." (San Francisco Chronicle)
Merry Hanukkah/Chanukah, if that's your cup of eggnog.

Sunday, December 25

Metroplex Mystery

There must've been something going on today; many stores were closed and the parking lots were empty. Maybe there'll be a story about this in tomorrow's paper?

Judy-Bob and I started the day at Kirin Court (Richardson, dim sum) which was packed, as usual. Ran into Billy Bob and Lay Wah Bob on the way out. Next, we stopped at Sarah Bakery (Richardson, Islamic grocery/bakery/restaurant) for some pistachio baklava; Medjool dates; baba ghanouj (ghanoush/ghanoosh); and a can of Unium's "Luncheon Loaf" (looks suspiciously like Spam®, but without the pork). Then, it was off to scan some photos for a promotional thing that J-B's doing, then back to watch To Kill A Mockingbird (1962), followed by a little TiVo. At about 10pm, I realized that I was supposed to go to Plano to see Trish-Bob, but I suspect she had her hands full with a visiting FIL and her new friend, the walking cane.

All in all, it was a productive day. If only I can figure out why the parking lots (except movie theatres) were empty, and why the highways were unusually free of vehicles. Maybe the Dallas Cowboys were playing, although I thought they were officially out of the playoffs. Hmmm.

Saturday, December 24

Red State Translation

Yesterday's Dallas Managed News included a letter from a Red Blooded Texan, axing [sic] them not to use The New York Times as an information source:
"The Times is a radical, liberal, anti-American newspaper originating in an area that is totally out of touch with the rest of the nation. Too many of its writers are feminist, racist bigots. It is past time for you to stop trying to brainwash us with Times propaganda. We are not East Coast liberals. Would you please give that some priority when deciding what to print?"
The problem is that he was too shy (!) to write what he really meant:
"I don't never want to read no opinions other than my own or my TaliBaptist preecher. Everybody Knows™ that everbody outside Texas is a JEW who don't worship The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, so they're all surely goin' straight to H-E-Double-L, just like it says in The Good Book. Anyone who doesn't believe the way I do is probably a Nigg-ro or a Mekse-kin, too. If yew don't agree, c'mon down to the Flea Market (I make a livin' sellin EarWax Cleaning Supplies) and I'll fight ya out back.
Hmm .. and the NY Times articles were the only ones I consistently read, in what would otherwise be Just Another Fascist Republican newspaper.
Everybody Knows is a trademark of Fox "News"; Rush Limbaugh Productions; and the CFRP.

Friday, December 23

FeSTiVuS 2005

Today's The Big Day. Merry Happy Joyful Fabulous FeSTiVuS, everyone. Pardon me, while I raise the FeSTiVuS Pole.

The City of Dallas held an unofficial FeSTiVuS celebration today: a Tuba Christmas Concert @ Thanks-Giving Square.
(aND mANY mORE ...)
Should I quit my day job now?

Thursday, December 22


Ah, it's so nice to have a (relatively) snappy Internet connection again.

The DSL field tech was here this morning, ran some tests, and decided that my DSL problem is due to an old modem. "Really?" I asked. "Just yesterday, the front-line support guy (in India) told me that all DSL modems operate at line speed so they can easily process data as fast as my ISP could send it!" As it turns out, that was wrong.

The Efficient Networks SpeedStream 5360 (part number 060-5360-002, for those of you who enjoy Google'ing obscure stuff) is apparently a real dinosaur. The tech actually laughed when he saw it. He called one of his co-workers and said something like "you won't belieeeeve what this customer still has installed - remember those old silver-and-black modems, about the size of a VW bug?". He says that DSL modems seem to grow obsolete every six months.

The old modem (Siemens bought Efficient, apparently) maxes out at a 1.5 Mb downlink, explaining why I experienced lots of packet overflow (and the backoff retransmissions - slowing me to sub-56 kb speeds) when a large datastream (up to 3.0 Mb downlink) was thrown at it.

I'm still trying to find the tech specs for the 5360 to confirm the 1.5 Mb limitation, but my replacement (a Zoom 5654) quickly clocked a 2.5 Mb downlink, mid-afternoon. That's the first acceptable speed I've gotten since The Upgrade. The specs say it's good for download speeds of up to 24 Mbps .. so it'll be obsolete slower than the Efficient 5360. Perhaps the 5360 specifications are only available on papyrus?

Wednesday, December 21

pushing the envelope

Being in a major city (ha!) has its rewards sometimes. Then there are other times when I'm left to scratch my head. Today's one of those days.

A few years ago, when DSL was first offered, I signed up with DirecTV's (wired) unit. That worked okay .. in the winter months. But when summer arrived and the temperature hit 90F the DSL circuit would dive, like a cheerleader at a silent auction. Each day, the circuit would tank earlier (I learned to do more of my work in the wee hours of the morning). Turns out that was because of the physical route my phone line takes to reach the CO [Central Office]; although I'm about 2 miles ("as the crow flies") to the CO, the route taken by the phone lines stretched that about 2500 feet past maximum. Technically, I was in "denial range" (a term which still amuses me).

That debugging experience allowed me to become conversationally fluent in DSL, spewing terms like NID and DSLAM as if they were my children. I never determined why the temperature had anything to do with it, but it aided my ability to predict when the circuit would fail each day.

Eventually, DirecTV got out of that (wired DSL) business, and sold the remnants to my current provider, who gave me a shiny new DSL modem (SpeedStream 5360) and a dynamic IP address. That's been mostly fine.

So today, it didn't surprise to understand the Indian (who are we kidding? .. his name isn't really "John") tech's suspicion that the "DSL Pro Package" (1.5-3.0 Mbps down and 384-512 Kbps up) is stretching the ability of my circuit to hold a carrier. Small files (most email, web pages with small-medium graphics) transfer fine, but if I try to grab a PodCast, or watch a streaming video, or (POP3) fetch an email of more than 75 kilobytes, I'm seeing frequent timeouts. Most of the time, I use WebMail to inspect and delete messages before downloading them (if at all). I've already tweaked the settings on my POP3 client (I think a 3 minute timeout is waaaaaaaay overly generous) and nosed around my IP settings (PPPoE, MTU of 1492, etc) so am confident the problem's not on my end.
Thursday update: turns out the problem was on my end - but it was hardware! See the 22/12/5 post.
So, tomorrow morning a Real Live Technician (complete with meters) is due at my NID to see what kind of signal I'm really getting from the RT. If it's marginal, I may regress to the DSL Standard Package (assuming they can't tweak the latency for the packet timeout). I'm happy they're staffed to have someone here that quickly .. now, I'll see what they uncover.

Tuesday, December 20

Excitement reigns while it rains

Pure joy. Unparalleled excitement. Yeah, that describes today .. spot on.

I called Bruce The Barber at 9am, asking if he had any appointments. Yes! If I can be there at 10:30 I'll get the only appointment left this week. SOLD! So now, I have a shiny new 30-minute haircut. When I left, it was raining .. looks like it has "set in for the day". Hmmm.

Just like last year (see my 22/12/4 blog entry) I found two SBC telephone directories (a/k/a phone books) on my front stoop. Makes me want to reenact the great thespian scene where Steve Martin ran onto his lawn, shouting
"The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!!"
Pity there's no obvious way to opt out of this distribution. Each year, when the new phone books arrive, I dust off the prior year's copy and toss it in the recycle bin. The chance of me picking up a paper phone book to seek a number is so remote as to be laughable.

Maybe if I was the POTUS? I'll bet He could stop the unwanted phone books. After all, He is Above The Law (as shown in Sunday night's speech where He effectively proclaimed that He can do anything He wants to, anytime He wants to). Splendid. Just bloody splendid.

Speaking of waste products, I emptied Samantha's litter box into the rollcart but am not brave enough to roll it to the curb. After all, it's raining .. and I might melt.

DSL update: web browsing and email is still slow (although a speed test at 2am showed acceptable speed). I've traded a half-dozen emails with Tech Support on the issue, yet nothing's changed. I'm wondering if I should call the billing department, asking that I be allowed to pay dialup rates while my DSL is slower than dialup?

Saturday, December 17

snug as a bug in a rug

Earlier this week, I mentioned that I returned the PalmOne hard case for my shiny new* Tungsten|T5. Yesterday, the replacement (from RhinoSkin) arrived and I'm giddy!
* well, okay .. I got it from The Big O and it was listed as being "blemished" but I'll be hornswaggled if I can tell the difference
Not only does the PDA not rattle in the RhinoSkin case ("Palm Tungsten TX/T5 Aluminum Hardcase") but there are openings for:
1- the charger/HotSync cable (argh! did they have to change the connector from the Tungsten|T ?);
2- the stylus;
3- the power switch;
4- the audio (MP3) connector;
5- the SD card slot;
6- the reset button.
The PalmOne hard case had no openings of any kind. Did I mention the PDA rattled when inside the case? Conversely, the RhinoSkin case has slots for two SD cards, and holes in the rear to provide speaker access (although the quality ain't great .. good MP3 earbuds are better for audio than the built-in speakers)

I also acquired a "Multi-Function Cradle" (charging base - model TT5-FC) made by Insten which appears more durable than the one sold by PalmOne. I wonder how many other people are so displeased with the (relative poor quality) peripherals from PalmOne, that they buy third party ones, like I did?

Unrelated #aleph_π: HayJax and I moseyed to the Magnolia for the 5pm showing of [Good Night and Good Luck], the story of how Edward R. Murrow and CBS battled "commie hunter" Senator Joe McCarthy. The timing of this movie cannot be a coincidence, in that the FCRP is acting much like McCarthy did in the 1950s, using their USA PATRIOT Act as a way to suspend Habeas Corpus, convict people without a trial, torture people in secret gulags, and so forth. Also, if David Strathairn doesn't get an Oscar for his portrayal of Murrow, you'll know the vote was rigged. HayJax says she remembers Murrow's live broadcasts, from the time she was 7, until 17 .. and confirms that Strathairn's performance was perfect.

Amusing sidenote: the parking structure at the Magnolia was full .. all 6 levels (including the roof). We overheard most people buying tickets for Brokeback Mountain (GN&GL is nearing the end of its run, and only a dozen or so people were in our theatre).

Unrelated #4: My DSL provider contacted me via email, and said (as I predicted) that there is nothing wrong with my broadband connection, and that I'm imagining it all. Meanwhile, I have resorted to started a download (file, email, whatever) then going to another room to watch a 30-minute episode of something on TiVo. When I'm done, I now come back in to see if the task has been completed. Sometimes, to avoid monotony, I go take a nap instead. At least I'm catching up on my sleep.

Friday, December 16

political realities, and Murphy

One of the realities of politics is: there are some things you simply cannot admit in public. Certainly, one or more of Murphy's Laws must be at work here.

One of those realities is the real reason why President Quagmire started the latest Iraq War: American's Affluenza Infection. One of the things that makes us Americans is our need to constantly overindulge - in everything. We eat too much, consume too much, and waste too much .. and because of that, thousands of our soldiers are fighting and dying many thousands of miles from here. Gotta protect the American Way of Life, ya know.

I have a personal goal which includes a healthy dose of "Voluntary Simplicity" but I'm still a long way from there. I've grown past the phase where lifetime success is counted in the number of Things I own, and I've made serious attempts to orient myself to having better stuff, but less of it. The Affluenza film (mentioned above) really hit home for me. Americans comprise 10% of the world population yet consume 25% of its resources: eeeek!

Given the number of trade journals I prescribed at, I've made many trips to The Paper Recycler, and need to make many more. Most paper gathers dust if I don't process it (read it, convert the useful items to properly categorized note in my PDA, discard it) with a week or so of its arrival.

I've found the best thing to do is to recycle. Meaning: grind it up, and morf it into Different Stuff - whether that be a new magazine filled with advertisements prompting us to Buy More Stuff, or an egg carton. An egg carton: ah, one of the few things in life whose goal is simple .. to protect a dozen delicate chicken eggs long enough for us to consume them.

Thursday, December 15

speedy DSL? not necessarily

There's probably a word for the sound made when tapping my fingers atop a desk, waiting. My thumb is stationary, but the finger strumming becomes faster and faster as my impatience rises. I'm about to place a copy of "War and Peace" next to the computer, so that I'll have something to read while waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

As William-Bob said, network speed is dependent on a pantload* of factors (well, actually he didn't say "pantload" - that's my interpretation).
* Blogger's Spell Checker suggested the correct spelling of "pantload" is "ventilator".
My DSL connection - once speedy - gets slower and slower every day. I'm supposedly on the "DSL Pro Package" (1.5 to 3.0 Mbps down and 384 to 512 Kbps up), but when I tested this morning it clocked at:

74.3 kbps (08:45) CNet's Bandwidth Meter speed test
54.2 kbps (09:45)
35.3 KB/sec down and 53.1 KB/sec up (09:30) DSL Reports

Slower than dialup? - sadly, yes. Sure, I could call DSL support and complain, but there are problems:

1- it'll require that I be on the phone for at least 30 minutes (probably to an ESL operator named Bambi - reading from a prepared script, somewhere in India);

2- odds are they'll then tell me that they'll have to order another - local - test, which will (undoubtedly) show there's nothing wrong, and that it's all in my head. Oy, veh!

Tuesday, December 13

is there a lawyer in the house?

Before dropping in on The Bowlers (Monday night) I stopped by The Toy Store (Fry's Electronics) to return a hard case for my (shiny new) PalmOne Tungsten|T5 (replaces a Tungsten|T). The problem with PalmOne's case is that it's poorly designed - the PDA rattles when inside! I was pleased that Fry's accepted a return from a different location (the one in Irving, near DFW Airport).

While there, I waddled over to the "power strip aisle" (!) and found a doohickey which solves my problem of too many power converters occupying the sockets on my UPS (they're bulky and often spill over to the adjacent socket's space). Fortunately, I didn't have to ask for help locating it; this is one of those things where I'd feel foolish trying to describe something, whose NerdName I don't know:
"Uh, it's a thing that plugs into an electrical socket and it's kinda-like an extension cord but much shorter. And the connector looks just like a regular 3-print power socket."
It turns out the thing is called a "Power Strip Liberator" (part # PWR-PSLIB-2) from Cables Unlimited. Geez, I hope that's not a marketing name for this thing. I'd hate to learn the NerdName, only to find out it's really a MarketingName.

Unrelated: There are times when I wish I were a lawyer. Yesterday, when SBC/Yahoo emailed their new Yahoo! Terms of Service, I wanted to compare the changes with the prior edition, to know what I'm agreeing to by continuing to use their service. As far as I know, there's a hidden phrase which says I agree to the (evil) USA PATRIOT Act.

keep your $10 and ...

Today, I got an email from SBC (becoming AT&T) saying that since I've been such a loyal customer, I was welcome to go to a special-gift website and "take $10 off any purchase of $25 or more!" .. yet, when I went there, the only things they have to offer are:

1- stuff I wouldn't buy, anyway
2- items priced mostly at $14.95 and $24.95
3- items selling at full MSRP

There are no items available for $25. I'd have to spend at least $39.90 to use this "$10 off" promotion, for stuff I don't need/want. I think I'll pass ...

Gee, I wonder why they didn't just credit my next statement by $10?

Monday, December 12

Fours Meme

this is stolen from Trish-Bob, who stole it from semantique ...

Four jobs you've had in your life
- Tennis racket stringer
- Radio news reporter
- AutoCAD specialist
- Webmaster

Four movies you could watch over and over
- Doctor Strangelove
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- Taxi Driver
- A Clockwork Orange

Four places you've lived
- Elizabethtown, KY
- Boulder, CO
- Manhattan Beach, CA
- Torrance, CA

Four TV shows you love to watch
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent
- The Daily Show (with Jon Stewart)
- P.O.V.
- Star Trek: Enterprise

Four places you've been on vacation
- Sedona, Arizona
- Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii
- Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
- Hong Kong

Four websites you visit daily

Four of your favorite foods
- cioppino
- organic brown rice
- blackened redfish
- banana pudding!?

Four places you'd rather be right now
- Point Loma, San Diego, California
- Tuzigoot, Arizona
- Evergreen (or Conifer), Colorado
- Murphy's Pub, Cincinnati, Ohio 

Sunday, December 11

the definition of "is"

A few months ago, I installed Microsoft AntiSpyware on one of my PCs, to compare its effectiveness with other spyware-detection/prevention stuff. I have yet to be impressed.

Today, I ran Spybot on this computer (used mainly to read email); it found tracking cookies from 10 companies on this PC "protected realtime by Microsoft AntiSpyware":; Avenue A, Inc.; BFast; CoreMetrics; DoubleClick; FastClick; HitBox; MediaPlex; ValueClick; and WebTrends Live.
I have a hard time believing that Microsoft is serious about spyware prevention, give this miserable experience. Granted, this wasn't written in-house; they acquired a company called "GIANT" (the process name is gcasServ - Giant Company Anti Spyware). You may recognize several of the cookies detected -- they're from infamous/notorious spyware purveyors that the whole world - including Microsoft - knows about. Then again, maybe Microsoft is defining "spyware" differently than the rest of the world ... or perhaps Bill Clinton (who doesn't understand the meaning of the word "is") -- is consulting for them.

Saturday, December 10

the space-time continuum

A few weeks ago (when daylight saving time ended) I set all my clocks to the same time.

Now, I noticed that the clock on my microwave is slower than the one on my toaster oven, which is slower than the one on the built-in oven. All of these clocks are within one meter of each other. I suspect a time rift is forming, and I've grown afraid of walking from one side of my kitchen to another, for fear of being sucked into this "rip in time" and never being able to emerge.

sound advice

I was never in the military, but my father made a career of it (30 years in the US Navy). On rare occasions, he'd jab at one of the other services, mostly the US Marines:
"if you're making your way from one compartment to another, and someone's standing in the hatch, odds are it's a Marine"
was one I remember. Craig (not a -Bob) is a Vietnam veteran, and after a brief negotiation, he and I agreed to these well-known platitudes:

If it moves, salute it.
If if doesn't move, paint it.*
If it moves and shouldn't, use duct tape.
If it doesn't move and should, use WD-40.
* Navy: .. stow it.

Friday, December 9

drip, drip, drip ...

Today's the day of The Big Melt. Temperatures are expected to soar to 43F or so. After Beta the Wonder Dog went out this morning (when it was 19F*), that'll seem like Indian Summer (whatever the heck that is). I noticed a bit of remaining ice in a shady parking lot, and some patches on the streets, but it's mostly dry pavement out there.
* It's good that I don't live at DFW International Airport; they set a new low for this date: 15F. Brrrrr.
Speaking of drips, I got an email from Carter Bloodcare at 9:46am, saying that my 60 days have elapsed and I can donate another unit of blood. So, I accessed their website and booked a noon appointment. When I arrived, the parking lot was full! I briefly envisioned standing in line for a donation, but then I realized (duh!) that the cars pickups and SUVs were there for Graciela's Mexican Cafe.

The blood donation was uneventful; all my numbers were in range (hemoglobin 16.6; pulse 72; BP 110/80; temp 98.8F) so now I just kick back 3 days and wait for the total cholesterol numbers to return.
Sunday night update: they posted my cholesterol: it's 191 (under 200 is good)
What's that? Did I update the Sundry on Thursday blog (week #79)? Why, yes, I think I did ...

Thursday, December 8

the pinnacles of success

Maybe it's because the servers are overloaded, but I couldn't get a decent download of any podcast Wednesday. I've been playing with iTunes & Podcasts for a few days, but honestly ... pig vomit in North Dakota in February runs faster than this. Several days ago, the podcast downloads were nicely quick .. not so anymore.

If there was a rational way to blame SBC's DSL speed on the sub-32 temperatures (Fahrenheit : a quaint scale), I'd do that.
Aside #sqrt(-e): the SBC Self Support Tool is about as worthless a piece of software as I've ever encountered (unless of course, your Internet connection consists of exactly one Windows PC directly connected to the Internet, which is another quaint remnant of the past).
Now, Dallas is virtually shut down due to the 0.03 inches of sleet that fell Wednesday. Grown men are shaking in their ostrich-skin boots, fearful of driving their F350s out of their driveway. Instead of road noise, I can hear crickets chirping (for the first time since gasoline hit $3/gallon).

Honestly, what a bunch of wimps. Texas is dead last in education in this country, so driver's education couldn't have been much of a priority. Certainly nothing like high school football, or being a cheerleader (the pinnacles of success in Texas). Then again, somewhere between 25-60% of the Dallas population was born in Mexico, and I suspect Driving On Ice wasn't even the subject of Science Fiction class.

Wednesday, December 7

quick alphabet quiz

Hmm .. what's missing from this alphabet? Oh wait, I see .. no Dubya!

Tuesday, December 6

preserving the timeline

I was a Star Trek junkie for many years, and suppose I still may be, although I've never dressed up as a Breen and attended a Star Trek convention! There were several spinoffs: The Next Generation ("the shark jumper"); Voyager; Deep Space Nine; Enterprise (bridging the gap between present day and The Original Series).

A Star Trek theme which recurs is the fantasy of time travel, and a subtheme is that of preserving the timeline (i.e. not doing anything while you're gallivanting through time that will change future events). I've thought about this a bit over the years, and find the concept of Timeline Preservation to be mostly absurd, as somewhat insignificant events can significantly change history.
An egregious example would be this theory: the 2002 bankruptcy of US Airlines is due to a pint of ale in 1836 Austria.
(History students will grasp this faster than others:) due to a chance encounter (let's assume a carriage driver was hungover .. one too many pints of ale the night before), Maria Anna Schicklgruber met a man at the carriage stop, "hooked up" with him and eventually gave birth to Alois Schicklgruber.

Alois Schicklgruber and Klara Polzl (Alois' niece!) were the parents of Adolf Hitler, whose Holocaust so enraged the world that the state of Israel (a safe haven for Jews) was mandated in 1945. Further, US support of Israel inspired Arab militants (including a Saudi named Osama bin Laden) to attack the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001, creating such havoc in the airline industry that several carriers were thrown into economic chaos, including US Airways.

If, in 1836, the bartender had sent the carriage driver home without that last pint, and he'd been on time the next morning, would that have kept Delta Airlines out of bankruptcy, and saved the lives of 60 million people (total deaths in World War II). Further, what if one of those 60 million had a descendant who developed an early cure for the 2006 Avian Flu Pandemic?

Such thoughts boggle the mind ... how many seemingly insignificant events will happen today that will forever alter human history?

Monday, December 5

holding out for the harmonica

Some things are more perishable than others. Meats & vegetables are obvious candidates for Science Experiments, if they're not consumed In Time. Also: airline seats .. once the plane pushes back from the Jetway®, it's hard to sell the empty seats. Airlines are big believers in Yield Management so they know to hold some seats for the last-minute business traveler who will pay Top Dollar to get on a given flight. Those of us who plan ahead can often get the same seat for a fraction of the cost.

Such is the case with calendars. Every day since Halloween, I've received an email from a calendar printer (who shall remain nameless) saying that I'd better order now. The next day, they're offering the same calendar (which probably costs them $2 each to produce) for 15% off .. now only $18.99 each! Eventually (February 15th?) they'll be selling them for 85% off and offering free shipping, I bet. If I hold out long enough, they're sure to throw in a free harmonica!

I've already received enough free calendars (non-profit organizations and my insurance company) so as not to have to buy any this year, although I may be forgoing Gorgeous Geeks or a similar piece of Inspirational 21st Century Artwork without coughing up the $$. There are a LOT of calendars that just aren't my cup-of-tea .. I suppose they make a Fashion Statement all year, so they're an even worse gift than men's neckties!

There's always the chance that the item I want may sell out early, never to be published/manufactured again. Ah, the risks we take in life!

Sunday, December 4


I'm not a rabid coffee drinker, but some days it's what I want for dinner. This morning, Beta asked me to fetch some breakfast tots at a local QSR (fast food) so I complied, given her sadness after Rambo went home.

While there, I ordered a cup of Joe and was given a sackful of sugar packets and three (3) containers of Half and Half. Normally, I'd just pitch the condiments since I like my coffee "black," but this morning I noticed (in red letters) this phrase on the Half-and-Half: NEEDS NO CHILL. I suppose, given the limited real estate on this container, that this phrase required less space than REFRIGERATION NOT REQUIRED .. but maybe there's a hidden meaning - a secret message they're trying to relay? I ran it through the Internet Anagram Server and found some promising interpretations:
CEO NELL HINDS (Nell Hinds will become a chief exec?)
CHILLS END EON (global warming is a hoax?)
ELLEN DO CHINS (Ellen is a plastic surgeon, for chins only?)

COIN SEND HELL ("money is the root of all evil"?)
DELL ICON HENS (Dell's icon causes avian flu?)
HDL CONES LIEN (good cholesterol? snow cones? lien against what?)

HOLES LEND INC (a hot stock tip?)
INCH NOEL SLED (a Christmas greeting?)
LEND COILS HEN (loan spiral objects to a female chicken?)

LINCOLN HEEDS (Abraham? Nebraska city? a Ford division?)
NEE LOCH LINDS (before a Scottish lake?)
SONIC END HELL (a drive-in QSR ceases pain?)
I suppose, without more information, the interpretation of this secret phrase may never be known. I wonder what the other secret messages are on this container:
UHT / Grade A / Homogenized. Includes Sodium Citrate, Datem, Tetra Sodium Pyrophosphate and Carrageenan.
Hmmm .. sounds like gasoline additives to me.

Saturday, December 3

of scorpions and ducks

Richard Clark was on The Colbert Report (hyping his latest book - The Scorpion's Gate), and offered some new terms that Donald "Duck" Rumsfeld wants us Red Blooded Americans to use:

old: War On Terra (as pronooncified by President Quagmire)
new: GWOT (Global War On Terror)

old: insurgents
new: ELGI (Enemies of the Legitimate Government of Iraq)

Please begin weaving "ELGIs" and "GWOT" in your everyday speech; America will be safer for it. Thank you.

We now return to your regular programming.

PM update: HayJax fetched Rambo, after we lunched at The String Bean (specializing in Comfort Food). Beta wandered through the house -- once -- looking for him, but quickly lost interest and settled in for a long winter's nap.

Friday, December 2

Costco: run by a human being?

There's an interesting story about a piece set to run tonight on ABC's 20/20 about Costco, which competes with Wal-Mart's Sams Club (a Radical Right Wing operation). When I lived in California, I shopped at Costco, but avoided it here because it's a bit out of the way (hey, who wants to travel to Plano if you don't have to?).

At any rate, the article has some interesting comparisons with their competitor: Costco CEO Finds Decency Is Compatible With Profitability. It's even more apropos given the recent release of "The Wal-Mart Movie" which was produced by a pro-union group (my copy of the DVD arrived prior to Thanksgiving, so it provided Turkey Day entertainment for a couple of us this year).

Unrelated # sqrt(-Pi): The Ctrl-Enter Browser Trick works in Firefox, just like MS-IE (Internet Exploder). Try it: pick any address and type ONLY the "FOO" part in the browser's Address box, then press Ctrl-Enter. Voila!

Unrelated # Zed: I did breakfast with HayJax at Deli-News, Too (southwest corner of Preston/LBJ-635) this morning. Ahh. There's nothing like a plate of eggs-and-spinach, with a salt bagel and hot cwah-fee, to start the day. Did I mention the waitress who migrated from Gilbert's to Bagelstein's to Deli-News? Small world ...

Thursday, December 1

Firefox: upgrade complete

After hearing good things about it, I installed the Firefox 1.5 browser last night. It's not like I had trouble with Firefox 1.0.7 .. just some web pages that had to load on Microsoft's Internet Exploder (FEMA application forms, etc.) and I thought this may lessen my dependence on that relic. I was also curious to see if the Shiny New Relationship with Google was wearing off on the (historic) Netscape programmers.

A cursory test showed that Firefox 1.5 ran, so .. I moseyed away for the night. Today, I began to use it for everyday use, and quickly noticed some problems: no elevator bar for scrolling, and the Tools/Options window was malformed and useless. Argh!

I thought: perhaps a reinstall will fix things (I didn't recall any installation error messages) so I tried that: no change. Then, a light bulb (incandescent) came on as I remembered that I was using a special Mozilla Theme (Noia Extreme) and that the old version wasn't compatible with the new browser. Bingo! I somehow found the Tools/Themes menu and upgraded the Theme; now, all is well with the world.

Wednesday, November 30

The Sky Is Falling!

My Firefox Weather Thingy (!) flashed a Severe Weather Alert so I checked it out:

Hmm .. guess I won't be able to throw my lit cigarettes out the car window until this has past. Why are They interfering with my Rights As An American?

Tuesday, November 29

running the gauntlet

One of today's tasks was to take a friend to DFW. That accomplished, I tried the "Olympus Blvd" exit from 635-LBJ and found myself in the Fry's Electronics parking lot; funny how that works. Noting that there were no SABR*s outside, I decided to mosey inside and do some shopping.
* SABR - Salvation Army Bell Ringer
This was different from the Fry's in Plano - I wonder if They track the impact of SABRs on store sales? Presumably, some people will shop only at SABR-equipped stores. I make a point of avoiding the SABRs when possible. Mentally, I must equate passing one of them to crossing a picket line; one of my ancestors must've been a union scab.

I also equate SABR donations to giving spare change to someone at a street intersection - I just don't do it. Some may be truly in need (homeless, etc.) but I think most of them beg because it pays better than working at the McDonalds down the street. Then again, they may have a Criminal Background Check issue which precludes working at The Golden Arches.

Normally, I don't grocery-shop at Albertsons, but I noticed the one near my home is SABR-free so I may go there for the next few weeks (assuming Whole Foods Market doesn't qualify).
30/11/5 update: The Dallas Managed News had an article about SABRs today .. says there are 421 approved locations in the four-county area but only 272 employees (they are not volunteers - they're paid $6+/hour). The 6-week Red Kettle drive nets $1.1M for the local chapter. I have to wonder if this is as cost-effective as Direct Mail?

Monday, November 28

in or out? make up your mind!

Screen doors were common when I grew up; our home in Louavull never had air conditioning. When it got too hot, I'd retreat to the basement (for Texans: that's a level of the house that's mostly or totally underground). I have never seen a home here with a basement; it just ain't done.

At any rate, as we younguns ran in/out of the house over 100 times per day (easily) we'd let houseflies inside, which wasn't terribly popular with the old folks (parents) ... hence the admonishment: "in or out? make up your mind!" at which time we'd usually decide that Out Was Better.
(flashback:) I remember the Thrill Of Technology we experienced when the No-Pest Strip was introduced: WOW! Wasn't it called the Shell No-Pest Strip then?
With that in mind (!), I spotted a Pizza Hut (WingStreet™) ad a few days ago, offering chicken wings in three (3!) varieties:
  1. bone-in;
  2. bone-out;
  3. or
  4. traditional
Not knowing the difference between bone-in and traditional, I asked. Today, this reply landed in my inbox:
"Thank you for your e-mail and noting that the website does not explain the difference between Bone-In and traditional WingStreet Wings. Bone-In is a breaded wing with a bone and the Traditional is a non-breaded wing with a bone.
Since I already knew that Bone-Out means a breaded wing without a bone, I now understand the difference. Sadly, non-breaded wings without bones are unavailable. This is very, very sad indeed.
Deep Thought #83: why don't Crab Cakes have frosting?

Friday, November 25

Chile: Texas' sister country?

The Texas "Lone Star" flag (left) was adopted in 1839, and the flag of Chile (right) was adopted in 1817 .. 24 years earlier.

For Texas, the colors represent loyalty (blue); purity (white), and bravery (red). The large white star was first used in the 1830s during the battles between Texas and Mexico.

For Chile, the colors represent the sky (blue), the snow in the Andes Mountains (white) and the blood shed during the revolution (red). The white star represents a guide to progress and honor.
Deep Thought #82: Texans eat Chili, but do Chileans eat Texaco?
Unrelated #7^3: Today is Jenna and NotJenna's 24th birthday. Rumor is it that Their Daddy (President Quagmire) drove them to the US Army Recruiter in Waco, so they could join the Air Force [sic], but the recruiter was closed for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23

use the web, Luke ...

Yesterday I moseyed to a nearby store to fetch some DVDs that have been on my Wish List for many months. After All Was Said And Done, I paid ~2% more than the Best Price I could find on the web, and got immediate delivery of most of the films on my list. Sure, these are "used DVDs" but unless they're scratched I'll never know the difference. It's not like a VHS copy that wasn't rewound at the end of every viewing.

To effect a fair cost comparison, I added sales tax to my local purchase (and deducted their in-store promotional discount) then compared that with shipping charges from the web merchant. I did not add 45¢/mile for travel (or whatever the going rate is for petrol these days).

My local purchase comes with a 30-day guarantee from the merchant (Moving Trading Company at 5907 Beltline - west of Preston). If I ever need to wring their necks, they're in easy range.

The thing that drives me to the web in the first place is that I loathe driving around town looking for what I want. I suppose If I Shopped Like A Woman (walking through stores, day-after-day, aimlessly looking for Random Crap With Which To Fill My Home) I'd have a different attitude. But most of the time, I know exactly what I want, since I've thoroughly researched my purchase in advance.

If I do make the mistake of going to a Brick & Mortar store, odds are that what I want is either:
- not in stock
- located somewhere that only a sociopath would think to hide it*
* stock clerk: I'll put the frozen tater tots in the section marked "videotapes"
unrelated #98.6: Stores should have SABR-free day each week when the Salvation Army Bell Ringer won't be annoying customers needing to shop. I started to grab something at Fry's in Plano yesterday, but made a U-turn when I saw The Bell and decided my purchase can wait until January.

unrelated #867-5309: Rambo's come for a visit .. not sure how many days. He and Beta will probably stay up all night and have a pajama party.

Tuesday, November 22

beep boop BUZZ

When UPC (barcode) was introduced to retail, many years ago, customers were wary of discrepancies between the price posted on the shelf, and the one in the computer. I remember that early customers were told they'd get the item free if there was an error.

Over the years, we've become complacent and I rarely see anyone question the prices on a cash register. Today's newspaper has a story saying that an acceptable error rate (US NIST) is 2% while Wal-Mart had an 8% error rate (the company blames bad reporting). The source of that report are the union organizers behind Wakeup Wal-Mart and is subject to an error rate of ±50% (my interpretation).
Deep Thought #81: I wonder how many chocolate fondue fountains will be packed away in our collective attics, beginning about the 2nd week of January? I'm seeing these things advertised at everyplace but vending machines. Related: how many wedding fondue sets are used once (if ever) and then sent into permanent cold storage?
Notable: Dallas is the 9th largest city, yet has the 5th highest crime rate for cities our size (ref: City Crime Rankings by Population Group). How shall I celebrate -- rob a gas station?

Expected later today: Dick Cheney will seize the opportunity to demonize Jack Kennedy for being assassinated in Dallas 42 years ago today. He will claim this to be egregious historical revisionism.

Microsoft Online Crash Analysis

Here's a splendid message I see on my Sony PC about twice a month; it causes the PC to crash without warning. Since it's on a system I use primarily for reading webmail while gazing out the window, it hasn't been a high priority to fix, but it's insightful to read Microsoft's boilerplate response:

Stop error caused by a device driver


You are receiving this message because a device driver installed on your computer caused a stop error message. This error message required a restart of your computer. After the restart your computer should continue to operate normally, however the error may re-occur until the problem is corrected.


A stop error occurs when your computer encounters an error from which it cannot recover. This is usually caused by a device driver which encounters an unhandled exception or performs an illegal operation. When the operating system detects this situation it is stopped to prevent further problems, such as data loss or further system instability.


Your error report has been computer analyzed and is unable to determine the exact cause of the error at this time. Since a cause and resolution has not been found your error report will be analyzed by Microsoft and any associated vendors to determine the cause of the error. After a cause has been found and corrected you will receive an updated message the next time you receive this same error with instructions on resolving the problem. We apologize for any inconvenience this error has caused and are working to resolve it as quickly as possible.

Please note it is important you continue to report errors so analysts will have data to analyze and correct the problem as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience and assistance while we work to resolve your error. "

Monday, November 21

records are meant to be broken

I thought I'd have an entire theatre to myself, but one other person stopped in for the early screening of Paradise Now (2005) today. I'm not surprised that the theatre wasn't packed; the plot concerns the motivation of Palestinian suicide bombers (Fox "News" spins this to "homicide bombers") and all but about a dozen words are spoken in Arabic (i.e. heavily subtitled). This film was full of no-name actors, excepting Lubna Azabal who has more than a dozen films to her credit.

Last week (the same day I got sick) I took in the early screening of North Country (2005) (starring Charlize Theron). Charlize is not as memorable as her role in Monster (2003) but she still turned in a very credible performance and could be an Emmy nominee for her role as Josey Aimes.

Two movies in five days. Hardly a record.

Sunday, November 20

another use for Duct Tape

It's not December 31st yet, but I'm ready to crown US Congressmember Jean Schmidt as "CFRP Patsy of the Year" after her fumbling attack on Jack Murtha last Friday. She quoted a Marine reservist (and Ohio state congressmember) named Danny Bubp, saying (in effect) that anyone who thinks we should give Iraq back to the Iraqis is a coward. By inference, if that shoe fits Murtha (war veteran), well ... he must be immediately vilified (Karl Rove Tactic #1). Later, she asked that her comment be stricken from The Record, but .. the damage was done.

What an idiot. I repeat: part of the qualification for being elected to Congress should be an intelligence test. And I'm not talking about something as absurd as the TAKS test here in Texas* (college freshmen are admitted based on a set of questions to a specific test, but are otherwise functionally illiterate).
* Today's lesson: Compare And Contrast the TAKS to the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress).
No, I'm thinking more in line of a Stanford Binet (or Mensa-accepted test) although it would be impractical to hold them to a Top 2% threshold. Maybe the top 80% .. just enough to weed out the nice folks such as Ohio's Jean Schmidt, who doesn't understand that not every communication deserves to be repeated.
Deep Thought #80: Speaking of repeating stuff (!) I read somewhere that the few "mixed Islam" cities (villages?) in Iraq are starting to trend one way or the other (Sunni or Shia). If that's true, it lends more credibility to the idea of an eventual civil war after the American/British troops leave, splitting the country into 3 parts. When/if that happens, the big challenge will be keeping Iran, Syria and Arabia out of their internal struggle. It'd be fascinating to see a map of the area in 20 years time, where entirely new countries have formed from today's chaos.

Saturday, November 19

missing digits

Paula's en route Phoenix now, having left around 5pm today. It was nice having another human in the house this week, and Beta certainly enjoyed their company. Now, she's crashed in front of the TiVo, watching Animal Planet.

Unrelated #0: I haven't thought about it much lately, but .. when I was growing up I remember how each of my uncles in Mississippi had missing fingers, and how normal that seemed. Sometime during their work career at the cotton gin, each of them had their hands inside, trying to dislodge a stuck blade .. when .. SLICE .. there goes a finger (or thumb). I suspect I could've identified which-uncle-was-which just by the pattern of remaining digits.

Unrelated #1: I don't know whether all fast food places operate this way, but Rumor Has It that at least one chain "grades" their managers on how much total food they sell, so it pays an unethical manager to cut each portion of meat, tomatoes, cheese, etc. What if they can shave 0.5 ounces off every order - would any of us notice? Is there anything like an official "Weights and Measures" department of the FDA [Food & Drug Administration] that polices this (like the nice folks who make sure the pumps at gas stations actually dispense 1 gallon of fuel)?

Friday, November 18

Gene Bob's Weight Loss Plan

I hesitate to call it a "diet" since no food is involved. Yes, it's indeed possible to lose 6 pounds in a single day, all by following the steps I took Wednesday night:

1 - get a stomach virus (best guess)
2 - vomit multiple times (more than 12)
3 - any food entering via mouth shall be summarily ejected by reverse route

It works! After spending some Quality Time with The Great White Porcelain God, I'm now several pounds lighter. Let's see, if I repeat the procedure for one year, I can lose 6*365 = 2,190 pounds. Bring It On!!

Yeah, yeah .. I'm (mostly) All Better Now (throat's a bit raspy from all the churning) .. mild headache remains. And yes .. I updated the Sundry on Thursday blog, for all its legion of fans.

Wednesday, November 16

PBS to become CRBS ?

Looks like the Bush Regime continues their mission of installing inexperienced cronies in positions of authority. Today, President Quagmire is out to change the Public Broadcasting System [PBS] into the Christian Republican Broadcasting System [CRBS], by appointing Patricia ("Patsy") de Stacy Harrison as president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Harrison replaces Kenneth Tomlinson, the buffoon who resigned in disgrace a few days ago, after he was caught padding PBS with propaganda from the Radical Right. I guess Tomlinson thought no one would notice when Masterpiece Theatre was replaced by Republican Prayer Breakfast.

According to the Washington Post, Harrison's sole qualification is that she's a Faithful Republican Hack:
Harrison, a former public relations executive who has no public broadcasting experience, was a co-chairman of the RNC from 1997 to 2001, and helped raise funds to elect party candidates, including President Bush, who appointed her to the State Department.
Just goes to show .. you can't teach a Puppet new tricks. I'm waiting for Him to say: "You're Doin' a Heckuva Job, Patsy!"

Deep Thought #79: When the new Christianized Sesame Street debuts, expect Cookie Monster to lead prayer sessions, and Pat Robertson (replacing Big Bird) to order the assassination of Miss Piggy (in the name of Allah). Either that, or it'll turn into a 24x7 "Davey & Goliath" channel.

Tuesday, November 15

poverty stricken

I could have been rich beyond my wildest dreams, but .. I was 10 minutes late.

After making a run to the grocery store at 9:30pm (doesn't everyone do that on Tuesday night?), I decided to buy exactly one Mega Millions lottery ticket. But .. it was 9:55 and sales ended at 9:45. {sigh} I guess that means I'll have to dig through the trash, find a cardboard box, and live there from now on.

.. and oh yes, Miles and his mom arrived Sunday night; they'll be here until the end of the week. Beta is giddy beyond belief.

Sunday, November 13

just another week ...

rumor has it (!) that Miles and his owner will be in town this week .. something about a training session at my old office. if so, that'll give Beta someone to run and play with! I hope he doesn't start marking every piece of furniture (a trait peculiar to male canines).

Then, there are ten (10) other things on the calendar through Friday .. some I'll attend, others probably blow off since they're Attendee Functions (meetings, movies, feedings). Then, there's the full moon on Wednesday, when I turn into a werewolf. Just another week in paradise Dallas.

Saturday, November 12

the Joy that is OPML

Truly, OPML is a wonderful thing. That's the meta-file that allows you to import/export your RSS feeds to different readers. Today, I used it to try Microsoft Live (in beta) so I can compare it to Bloglines which I've used for over a year.

Naturally, before you can use the Microsoft product, you have to give Microsoft Passport your age, IQ, Social Security number, and the type of tree you'd like to be when you grow up. Once past all that nonsense, in Microsoft Live you get something vaguely reminiscent of the other portals - perhaps a bit more spartan, which is a Good Thing (most portals are much too busy for my taste).

What's the advantage? Portability, of course .. I can check my RSS feeds from any Internet connection, and that is Goodness. The downside? There's no way to synch your status; reading items with Bloglines won't automagically mark them as read in SharpReader, for example. I don't know how to solve that problem; we should leave all that Really Hard Stuff up to the nice people at Google, right?

conventional marketing wisdom

There's an item in Tim Bray's ongoing blog called "War Marketing" which is succinct. Succinct is good sometimes.
Deep Thought #78: messages that have been in Trash more than 30 days will be automatically deleted
(a message on Gmail)
Speaking of Trash, I was disgusted with The Regime again yesterday - more so than usual. Yesterday was Veteran's Day here in the States, where the idea is to honor the veterans (it was originally Armistice Day -- the holiday to commemorate the end of The Great War a/k/a WWI).

Instead, Karl Rove (who's become increasingly predictable in the spotlight) scrambled aboard Air Force One, then commanded His puppet (President Quagmire) to read a lengthy statement to another hand-picked audience -- this time at the Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania Army Depot. Basically, it's a tired rehash of Rove's view that it's un-American to question President Quagmire's judgment about Iraq. I guess the line in Rove's speech that really browned my muffins was "These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will ..." when it's clear to anyone with a brain (thus leaving out The Puppet) that the attacks on His Regime are not baseless.

Tried-and-tested Rovian Tactics include "Repeat The Lies and They Will Believe": the Puppet said it's "deeply irresponsible" to criticize His war policy, since that sends the wrong message to the terra-ists and Evil Doers. It's as if He is speaking to a nation filled with zombies from the CRP; He can't understand that His credibility is shot. Once that's gone, you can stick a fork in it (it's done). The Puppet's approval rating's down to 37%; the remaining Believers appear to be Fringe Elements: the Kansas School Board; Tom DeLay and His Ilk; and The Fristians.

I look forward to the day that Rove is locked away in Guantánamo Bay, where the CIA's allowed to use the torture techniques approved by Dick Cheney Himself. Finally, see Brian Coughley's insights: Sleaze, Deceit and Torture (caveat: it's not succinct). And then, have a nice day!

Friday, November 11

booming business: U-Hauls in Dover, PA

Given that the townspeople are in a panic trying to get out of Dover, Pennsylvania, I'll bet the local moving companies are doing their best-ever business.

Yesterday, Pat Robertson told (rural) Dover residents that His Christian God would soon attack them. Why? Well, Dover residents sensibly voted out all eight (un)Intelligent Design school board members (each a Rhodes Scholar, no doubt). To paraphrase The Daily Show, I suspect the IDiots believe that Adam & Eve rode their dinosaurs to church every Sunday.

{queue sarcasm} You know, I'm sooo relieved that Texas voted to amend the constitution (earlier this week - it was in All The Papers) to mandate blissful marriage among straight white Republicans. If that hadn't happened, Texas'd surely be facing a nightmare scenario of nucular [sic] annihilation (Pat Robertson's prediction, no doubt).

At least they're not the laughingstock that is Kansas; can you imagine a high school graduate (schooled in Intelligent Design) trying to get into MIT with his Kansas High School diploma? Next!

Speaking of unfathomable stupidity (!), a tip of the Gimme Cap to Mary (not a -Bob) who forwarded the list of Stupid Quotes by Tom DeLay. You know, when Gene-Bob becomes King, I'll mandate an intelligence test for all politicians. They'll have to prove they have more brains that an avocado before they can run for office. That should keep the vermin like DeLay and Robertson out of our courthouses.

PS: yeah, yeah .. the Sundry on Thursday blog is updated. Please - calm down!

Thursday, November 10

"Just Wait - You're Next" Syndrome

There's probably an official name for it, but I like JWYN [Just Wait - You're Next] Syndrome. How would that be pronounced - Juw-Yon?

The lead story in today's Dallas Managed News was not the suicide bombings in Amman; rather, it was that the same TaliBaptist zealots who backed the pro-Hate Proposition 2 on this week's ballot are now emboldened! They'll next do what's needed to lower Texas' high divorce rate. That's right - now they'll mandate which straight couples must stay together (despite being in loveless and/or abusive relationships). Presumably, they'll disallow it in the case of whites but encourage divorce among The Colored People! As Everybody Knows™, what the world needs the most are more white babies, and who better than the TaliBaptists to Make It So (apologies to Jean-Luc Picard -- to be born in 2305).
Speaking of Star-Trek, the show's writers -- obviously Baby-Eating Liberals -- sometimes tackle race and gender issues when the crew encounters alien species. In a memorable ST:TOS (The Original Series) episode ("Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"), Frank Gorshin played an Emmy-nominated (no joke) role as a species with races distinguished by which side of their face was dark (left-siders versus right-siders, I guess). Naturally, the unbiased Captain Kirk didn't even notice the difference until it was pointed out to him, in typical melodramatic Shatner fashion.

More recently, a ST:TNG episode ("The Outcast") featured an androgynous species where some were "born different" .. they had gender! Anyone exhibiting this abnormality were subject to reprogramming (much as the TaliBaptists aim to "cure" our gay population).
Anyone, back to the JWYN Syndrome: once the KKK-TaliBaptists (now merged) lower the divorce rate (By Any Means Necessary) they'll surely move to the next step: banning divorce altogether. Then, a few years later (further emboldened), they'll implement the Arranged Marriage customs common elsewhere in the world. Somewhere in the middle, they'll ban alcohol and any clothing which allows more than 5% of the skin to show. I can't wait to see what happens after that -- perhaps mandatory full burqas?

It's only a matter of time.
Everybody Knows is a trademark of Fox "News"; Rush Limbaugh Productions; and the Christian Fascist Republican Party.

Tuesday, November 8

Go Kinky !?

I don't normally watch CMT (Country Music Television), but will make an exception this week. It seems they're going to broadcast the pilot for Kinky Friedman's reality show, called "Go Kinky". Word is that if the pilot gets good ratings (at midnight, who wouldn't expect it?) they'll order more episodes.

It's good that TiVo knows about this show, being aired after midnight tomorrow, else I might miss it altogether, eh?

Monday, November 7

get out the vote HATE campaign

Governor PrettyHair's group is working the phones today; by noon, I've received four calls asking me to vote for the pro-Hate State Proposition 2 (not to be confused with the City Proposition 2), which seeks to make only female-male marriages legal in the eyes of the Texas Constitution. Will anyone be surprised when an Activist TaliBaptist sues to make Domestic Partner healthcare contracts illegal?
8 Nov update: no surprise .. 76% of Texans (66% of Dallas residents) voted pro-Hate, so it's now mandatory to legally discriminate against everyone who's gay. Let the lawsuits begin!

Unrelated: the proud, white voters of White Settlement, Texas voted not to change the town's name to West Settlement. And without the public support of the KKK, too.
I'll bet Tom DeLay has something to do with the phone survey, along with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison ("perjury's still a crime? really??") and Congressman Pete $e$$ion$ ("I never met a contributor I wouldn't take money from, then pay lip service to").

(although it was an automated droid) I asked them why Governor PrettyHair wasn't marching alongside the KKK (another supporter of His proposition) and they said He wasn't affiliated with them (publicly, at least). I then asked them if they're calling on behalf of the Christian Fascist Republican Party (CFRP is apparently the new name for the GOP). The beginning of the message says it's coming from a survey company (in the 571 areacode, so says CallerID), but it's patently obvious from the wording of the questions that they're bankrolled by the CRP.
6pm update: the automated survey droid called back; it asks ...

do you favor State Proposition 2?
would you re-elect your Texas congressman? (Tony Goolsby)
do you consider yourself a Regressive Republican?
do you consider yourself a Baby Eater Democrat?
do you favor a school voucher program?
are your property taxes too high?
should property tax appraisals be capped?
is Ronnie Earle playing politics with Tom DeLay's indictment?

and then it closes with "This survey was authorized and paid for by the Republican Party of Texas."

As if that was a surprise.

Sunday, November 6

In Cold Blood

After watching Capote at the Magnolia, Judy-Bob and I moseyed over to Chuy's (4544 McKinney) for a late dinner. First time I've been to the one in Dallas; oddly, the only other one I've dined at was in Houston!

How to follow up the movie [Capote]? I could locate a copy of In Cold Blood at the used bookstore, or maybe it'd be easier to watch the 1967 movie instead? Oddly, it also makes me want to re-watch [To Kill A Mockingbird] (based on Harper Lee's novel). Culture overload, indeed.

Saturday, November 5

look in the mirror, jackass

I had to laugh when I wandered across an update to the story about today's KKK rally in Austin, supporting Proposition 2 (the so-called "Hate Thy Brother Proposition"):
KKK To Rally Saturday In Support Of Gay Marriage Ban
The line that made me (first) laugh, then shake my head, was this:
"Pastor Ryan Rush of Bannockburn Baptist Church says a group that would come in that is characterized as hateful and bigoted is not welcome in Austin."
I guess it just baffles me that so many small-minded religious zealots can't see themselves in the mirror. Surely these morons know that gay marriage was banned by Governor Pretty Hair a few years ago (the Texas Defense of Marriage Act). I don't know anyone who expects the Amendment to fail; there are far too many churches (like Bannockburn TaliBaptist) where the Imam Preacher has ordered the congregation to vote "yes" or they'll all Roast In Hell come Wednesday morning. Never mind they (a) probably never met an openly gay person; (b) don't understand the legal ramifications of denying rights to someone; and (c) couldn't give a Tinker's Dam about "Love Thy Neighbor". After all (to The State) marriage isn't much more than a civil contract, so this will just give those activist (code word meaning "someone who doesn't share my opinion") Texas lawyers something to do for the next decade.

I suspect the only real suspense will be the margin of "victory" for the KKK and the TaliBaptists (and their ilk). Surely, they'll be high-fiving each other Tuesday night, having made the world safer for their children (who will have learned a valuable lesson in religious bigotry).
Deep Thought #77: WWLBJD? *

* What Would LBJ Do?

Wednesday, November 2

a ship of fools

Am I really living in The Land Of Idiots?

I see where Tom DeLay continues to stack the deck in his favor, for his upcoming (Real Soon Now) money-laundering trial. The Hammer™ didn't like the judge (who donated money to the opposition), so the Democratic judge was dismissed.

Next, DeLay wants to move the trial from Austin (which he refers to as "the Last Democratic Stronghold in Texas") to anywhere else, preferably a county where the judge donated large sums to the Regressives Republicans. Or, anywhere he can get a Stepford Jury (of Texas-educated white men named Bubba) to let him off the hook.

And then there's the report that says Texans are donating huge amounts of money to the "Please Let Tom Do Anything He Wants Including Murder If That'll Keep The Gays Out Of My Bathroom" fund. Also known as the Tom DeLay Criminal Defense Fund.

Tell me there's intelligent life somewhere in this state.
Thursday update:

In a copyrighted story, the Houston Chronicle explains "Another DeLay judge out"

Basically, it says the prosecutor now wants the Republican judge -- who would pick the replacement -- thrown out (as if it couldn't get weirder).

Tuesday, November 1

.. with Jethro Bodine at the helm

Yes, I'll admit it: Wal-Mart makes me laugh. I'm not talking about their stores, I'm talking about their incompetence in Public Relations. I haven't been inside a Wal-Mart in probably 10+ years. When I'm in need of something they're selling, I go to SuperTarget instead. Target's stores are cleaner, they don't look like a warehouse, and the staff actually has a clue which way is up. Not to mention, their politics are all wrong .. 78% of Wal-Mart's political contributions back President Quagmire's regime.
Full disclosure: Target's percentage is even worse (83%) but the contribution was much lower: $181,060 versus $1,354,790.
I laugh at Wal-Mart partly because of this morning's New York Times article; it seems Wal-Mart's so afraid of Robert Greenwald's new movie ("Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price") that they commissioned their own propaganda film called "Why Wal-Mart Works & Why That Makes Some People Crazy" (directed by Ron Galloway - I guess Leni Riefenstahl wasn't available). The former film will be showing here in Dallas [14/11 at the FunAsia theatre in Richardson], but it's sponsored by the local AirAmerica group that banned me, so I'll have to find a viewing at someone's home that week (November 13-19).

There's now an official Wal-Mart War Room which has hired image consultants from both Clinton and Reagan's campaigns: fascinating.

Conspiracy time: curiously, today's Dallas Managed News (print edition only) has an article (Maria Halkias' "Wal-Mart's urban push") that says that Metroplexers spend 31% of our consumable goods dollars at Wal-Mart, leading all major cities. Wal-Mart claims a 27% share of the local grocery market, well past Kroger and Tom Thumb who have 15% each and are tied for second.

For what it's worth: they're building another Wal-Mart SuperCenter a few miles from me (not sure when it's due to open), and I won't be shopping there, either.

Sunday, October 30

Beta, the wonder storm?

Well, it looks as if the hurricane (named after my dog) is about to blast Nicaragua, possibly missing Honduras and Guatemala (not to mention El Salvador).

Thursday, October 27

how I spent my Thursday vacation

(early) voted - done

get a flu shot - done

drop off quarterly mailing at the BME (Business Mail Entry) - done

lunched at Golden Chick - done

figured out how to "install" the 15x17x5 Large Cat Pan Liners - done (and duh!, after having to Read The Instructions)

watched the South Park episode from last night (thanks, TiVo!)
note to self: gotta git me one of them Future Tellin' Devices
Today's Education: Nuclear fuel cycle (in light of yesterday's announcement that Iran wants to nuke Israel, just because they're so intimidating)

Wednesday, October 26

my heart, be still

in today's (snail) mail, this postcard:
Dear Postal Customer:

Within the next week or so, you may notice a change in the time of day your mail is delivered, or that you have a different letter carrier.

These changes are a result of adjustments we are making in mail delivery routes. Periodically, we make these adjustments due to change in mail volume or growth in the number of deliveries to residents and businesses within the community.

Our goal is to provide timely and consistent delivery service. I am confident the changes we are making will help us achieve this service goal. However, in adjusting carrier routes it is inevitable that some customers will receive their mail earlier than others. You may be assured that every effort will be made to provide you with the earliest possible delivery.

clean/complex/dark .. we're talking coffee, right?

the Wit
(57% dark, 34% spontaneous, 10% vulgar)
your humor style:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer. Your sense of humor takes the most thought to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion. You probably loved the original BBC version of The Office.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais

The 3-Variable Funny Test!

Tuesday, October 25


Rosa Parks dies at age 92. In an interview (years later), she said what she did -- refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man -- wasn't that remarkable. She says the person who is "due the credit" was the white bus driver (James Blake) that day, who made a scene.

A new poll shows only 2% of American blacks support President Quagmire. I wonder if that 2% .. undoubtedly part of his 51% mandate, from the 2004 election .. are proud of themselves.

The passage of another milestone: 2000 US soldiers have died in Iraq War II (a/k/a President Quagmire's "Secret" War for Oil). Estimates are that 28,000 Iraqis have died in this war, compared to the 250,000 Iraqis* who died in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988).
* median estimate

related (as mentioned in a email): "It took 18 months to reach 1,000 dead, but just 14 months to reach 2,000. It's now been nearly two and a half years since President Quagmire declared "Mission Accomplished" and he still has no exit strategy."

The Dilbert Blog

Today, I discovered The Dilbert Blog and dutifully added it to my list of RSS feeds. Ah, life is good, and has taken on new meaning. The autumn leaves suddenly smell better. The peanut butter is a bit chunkier. The flatulence of Beta the Wonder Dog is a bit less pungent.

This is the happiest day of my life. Well, since Nixon resigned, and Gerald "NASA Scientist" Ford took over.
Deep Thought #76: Compared to President Quagmire, "Gerry Ford" does seem to be a rocket surgeon! And ditto for J Danforth Quayle! Proud Republicans, all ...
I now return you to your regular programming, already in progress.

PS: don't miss this gem: KKK supports Texas Proposition 2

Monday, October 24

is that a banana in your pocket?

Okay, maybe it's just me .. but does this hurricane storm track look just a little unusual?

dust mites roasting on an open fire ...

Sometimes, living in Dallas is like starring in Goldilocks. It's either too hot, or too cold. I finally turned off the air conditioning earlier this month (o/a the 5th) and last night was the first night I needed a bit of heat (to keep the house above 68F).

One of the things I've become accustomed to are those first few days after turning on the gas furnace (after many months of being idle) .. the smell of burning dust in the air! Sure, I could go outside and walk the neighborhood, smelling a few wood-burning fireplaces and reminiscing about living in a part of the country where the autumn leaves are actually colorful .. but that pales in comparison to the aroma of millions of dust mites, happily napping atop the natural gas jets, roasting to Their Eternal Doom when the furnace kicks in.

My home has two furnaces, and only one produces this effect. The other is newer and uses an electronic starter, negating the need for a gathering of dust in The Off Season.

Sunday, October 23

happy birthday to @

I spotted a /. item about email's 34th birthday but no, I wasn't there to witness it.

I don't recall the first all-electronic email I sent, but odds are it was via CompuServe (to another CompuServe user). Another service allowed sending a message pseudo-electronically. The idea was simple: address the e-mail just like a piece of snail mail, and then [send]. It would be printed near the destination, and enter the standard US Mail system, arriving in the destination mailbox like any other letter (I recall an optional signature, which you invoked by keying /*SIGNATURE*/ at the appropriate place). I'm sure services like that still exist, but I haven't used one in over 20 years.

I can still remember my "72265,23" CompuServe login! Eventually, they began experimenting in sending messages to other networks, but I recall them being very slow to introduce it, which is why I signed on with another service. I even remember buying an O'Reilly book which explained how to send messages from one network to another, using the various gateways that popped up. Remember: these were the early days of The Internet!

Do you remember "bang addressing"? ("bang" is slang for "!") Then, you had to know the route that email would take to arrive at a destination, so something like dallas!denver!boulder!cu!genebob was required (and that wouldn't work for your friend in New York). Eventually, the well-known services migrated to @ addressing which we know today.
queue Time Machine: I played with Prodigy software for awhile; this was PC application software which understood a vector graphics language called NAPLPS and was much cooler than the text-based CompuServe. NAPLPS could send commands like "draw a red circle of radius 30 at coordinates 100,150" (in the days of 300/1200 bps dialup modems, that was much more efficient than transmitting a bitmap).
In a way, NAPLPS reminds me of another language at that time, called LOGO which was used on Texas Instruments' 99/4A microcomputer (I briefly used those in 1983, not long after the IBM PC debut of 1981).

Hmm .. these memories will undoubtedly refresh brain cells that haven't activated in a lonnnnnnnng time. Time for an RC and a Moon Pie ...

Reference: H@ppy birthday to you (BBC)

Saturday, October 22

Fred? No. Barney? No. Betty? No.

Now, we're waiting for Hurricane Wilma to make a hard right turn and visit Florida, right? Some different views of the weather data may be had on the National Hurricane Center site.

Thursday, October 20

small bills, please .. no starch

I see that Tom DeLay, Texas Republican Extraordinaire, was booked and released on bond today in Houston. He's accused of money laundering, this time around. Personally, I have no insights either way as to his innocence, but do have to wonder why someone would have such a possum-eating smile in their booking photo (above).

unrelated: yes, of course I updated the Sundry on Thursday blog. Why do you axe?

Wednesday, October 19

coming soon, to a TiVo near you

I just added 2 shows for TiVo to grab each week from Fox: The War at Home and American Dad .. in addition to The Family Guy which I already watch, and highly recommend as one of the finest examples of morality on television.

Why am I adding these others, sight unseen? Because a group called the Parents Television Council came out against them. Experience has taught me that since these Radical Right groups have decided to shove their sociopathic agendas down the rest of our throats, that the best thing I can do is to watch everything they tell me to avoid, and especially to support their advertisers.

Tuesday, October 18

cholesterol: 184

I blogged on 14/10/5 about donating blood. It always takes a few days to get the cholesterol result; that's not immediate gratification like the other stuff (hemoglobin/iron; blood pressure; etc.) So, I checked this morning and my cholesterol was posted: 184!

A good cholesterol number is below 200, and when I started monitoring this (2 years ago), it was off the scale: almost 90 points higher, so .. this is very good. Sadly, I don't know what the HDL/LDL/triglyceride breakdown is; that'll have to wait for a doctor visit and a full blood panel.

I suspect a large part of my cholesterol success has been weaning myself from most beef/pork and consequently, most fast food. I still find myself at the drive-thru too often, but mostly it's to get something like grilled chicken or a salad, and making a serious effort to avoid the fried stuff, as well as most of the bread (carbs).

All this goes to prove: sometimes, you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don't.

Monday, October 17

Blond .. James Blond

The James Bond character ("Agent 007") has finally jumped the shark; They have cast Daniel Craig (an alleged blond*) for the lead role in Casino Royale (now filming). I suspect this is another sign of The Impending Apocalypse.
* blond=male; blonde=female
In my mind, I am envisioning James Blond(1):
007: (twirling his hair betweeen his fingers, voice about 2 octaves above sea level) So, like, uh .. is that a thermo-nukular bomb in your pocket, or like .. are you just, like .. happy to like, see me?

(1) no relation to the Disc Jockey named James Blond
I'm sorry, but it was just so much better when Sean Connery was cast as James (including his Famouth Schtpeesch Impediment):
Scheerioushly, Misch Bunny Schlippers, I do believe the schtolen plansch for the schpace schip are schumbwhere under the Kitschen Schink!
Fortunately, this new cinematographic masterpiece isn't due in theatres until November 2006. My heart, be schtill!