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!

a ramekin of morons

Now that the US population is nearing 300 million, it doesn't surprise me that a large number of people can be gathered for almost any protest. So, the one protesting RFID at a Dallas Wal-Mart did not surprise me. It seems that some idiot uneducated dolt found an RFID tag on a laser printer, and decided that The Guvvermint was preparing to begin electronic sweeps of our neighborhoods, trying to find what Stuff we have inside our A-Man's-Home-Is-His-Castle (lipstick, razors, and now -- gasp! -- laser printers). Truly, the world must be nearing The End!

Update: if these morons uneducated dolts want something serious to picket about, here's something (assuming it's true!): Government Tracking You with Secret Code in Color Printers

Sunday, October 16

Great Southwest International Airport

The continuing (laughable) attempts by American Airlines to lure Southwest away from Love Field prompted me to investigate the early history of DFW International Airport. Turns out it was originally prairie land at the intersection of three cities (Irving, Grapevine and Euless). There was an earlier airport nearby, called the Great Southwest International Airport. I'd heard that the Wright Amendment was the result of both Fort Worth and Dallas agreeing to give up their own airports, but hadn't heard the other details.

Unrelated: once a decade, on average, something destined to Change Mankind Forever makes its way to the retail shelves. The latest contribution just has to be Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners, which I discovered after spotting A Coupon in the newspaper. I only bring out the Crock Pot about once a quarter, and would use it more often if the cleanup weren't such a pain. Now, perhaps that problem's been resolved with this Spiffy New Wonder Product.

Saturday, October 15

autumn in Dallas

According to The Map, not a single leaf has changed color in Texas yet, while most of Idaho, Utah and western Colorado are already "past peak". Looks like most of the New England is in peak season .. if it weren't for all the rain, I'd bet every hotel in the area's At Capacity. Posted by Picasa

Today's forecast is for 88F and sunshine. The TeeVee WeatherBoy™ said we're in a mild drought (17 inches of rain this year, when we're due 27 inches by this time). Looks like the leaves won't be changing anytime soon.

Friday, October 14

realtime blood donation

Carter Bloodcare - 1 gallon donor Posted by Picasa

I got an email about 3pm today, reminding me that enough time has passed and I can donate another unit of blood. The email contained a nice "To make an appointment at your neighborhood donor center, please click on the following link.", so .. I tried it. Hmm .. it says there are appointments available today, the next one being at 3:30. Well, why push it? Let's pick the 4pm one and then mosey thataway. What are the odds the system is realtime?

Well, it worked. They finished the "mini-physical" and I was dripping blood in record time; I was done by 4:45 and had caught up on some reading (I commonly HotSync my PDA before donating blood, so I'll have something to read in case Oprah's not on). Today's numbers? Iron (hemoglobin) 14.4 | BP 110/72 | Pulse 80 | Temp 98.5F ... I'll wait a few days and call for the cholesterol score.

Was there a downside to the web scheduling? Only that it doesn't work with the Firefox browser (well, everything worked until I pressed [Submit] at which point it chortled at me .. I had to fire up Internet Explorer instead). Maybe the same people who designed this website did the one for FEMA?

I came home, and (following the instructions to Have A Nice Dinner) sucked down a bowl of Jewish Penicillin Chicken Soup.

About the only improvement I can think of deals with the actual blood donation; why can't they take my blood online? Is there no one developing a USB Blood Sucker?

Tuesday, October 11

ticking off AA

Where can I get one of these Crony Jobs?
what I learned from this site: there are choice government careers for the taking, with no experience necessary!
Unrelated: Set Love Free: Southwest Airlines' site about The Wright Amendment, to Repeal the Restrictions on Dallas Love Field
what I learned from this site: the definition of a fortress hub. Data item: American Airlines controls 84% (EIGHTY FOUR) of the traffic at DFW Airport.

What Southwest should do, to really tick off American Airlines, is introduce a bill that would force THEM to use only the fortress hubs in other cities. What's good for the gander, must be good for the goose, (w)right?

Monday, October 10

meme du juor

10 Years Ago:
shopping for my first home (had leased the first one in
Dallas, after moving from Torrance)

5 Years Ago:
transitioning from working pre-sales in the telco market,
to running a large internal webserver

1 Year Ago:
enjoying freedom of not working (RIF'd after 14.5 years at one company)

snapping digital photos of "A.P." while he and another guy
installed some neighborhood signs

5 Snacks I Enjoy:
black plums;
tomato-and-basil potato chips;
cashew nuts;
turkey jerky;
grilled Dodger Dog

5 Songs I Know All the Words To:
original Star Trek theme;
60 Minutes theme;
Batman theme;
Law & Order theme;
CBS Sunday Morning theme

5 Things I’d Do with 100 Million Dollars:
donate a big chunk to the "Get A Clue, America!" program;
put it all on Red-11 on a Las Vegas roulette wheel;
build an animal shelter named "Beta's Wonderland";
bury it in the backyard;
buy an election

5 Places I’d Run Away To:
Boise ID;
Minot ND;
Nome AK;
Santa Fe NM;
Crawford TX Hanalei HI

5 Things I’d Never Wear:
Leather pants;
a tattoo;
hoop earrings;
tongue stud;
reverse Mohawk haircut

5 Favorite TV Shows:
Law & Order: Criminal Intent;
The Daily Show (with Jon Stewart);
Rocky & Bullwinkle;
The Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour;
The History of Hedgehogs (BBC documentary)

5 Biggest Joys:
None. I have no joy in life.

5 Favorite Toys:
Palm Tungsten T (PDA);
Silly Putty;
BMW 330Ci;
Red Swingline Stapler (ala Office Space);
Spam (the board game)

Sunday, October 9

Governor Beatty said whaaaat?

After Mary (not a Bob) pointed me to Bulworth (1998) starring Warren Beatty, I decided that I must see it, so today I did. It'll be amusing when Beatty beats Schwarzenegger in the 2006 election and becomes the real Governor of California; will he tell the truth, as the Bulworth character did in the movie? Unlikely, since elected politicians undergo a mandatory lobotomy soon after taking the oath of office.

It only distantly reminded me of Woody Allen's Bananas (1971), a movie which changed my life. It's why I still wear my pants outside my trousers (queue British cymbal).

Saturday, October 8

say McWhat?

My memory isn't bad, but for the life of me, I can't recall the first McDonald's I ever visited. Trish Bob said the same thing; it's like they have always Just Been There. When I lived in Los Angeles, I recall making The Pilgrimmage to Downey to see one of the original McDonald's, complete with red wooden picnic tables and a walk-up order window on the outside.

I suppose the first fast food I ever ate was at a White Castle (obviously not in Dallas, since the nearest approximation in this part of the world is a lone Krystal .. and they ain't the same). My father always liked White Castles, but not for the ambience. I think the burgers were 14¢ each, and (like now) it wasn't uncommon for someone to order a dozen or more, then apply some spicy mustard and pop them back like so many M&M's.

I also remember when the first Burger King came to town, with their "Have It Your Way!" mantra. Back then, we pushed plastic trays along a line of metal tubes (think "cafeteria") and watched as the burger was assembled right in front of us.
"Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us ..."
The idea that we didn't have to endure a burger the way Burger Queen (yes, that was the Big Chain where I grew up) prepared it was mind boggling, even for an 8 year old. Burger Queen has now been relegated to The History Books, since they failed to carve a niche deep enough to stay in business.
12 Oct update: I'd forgotten what replaced Burger Queen in my area: it was a short-lived chain called Druther's. Not sure I ever went inside one, and have no clue what their target cuisine was ...
I also remember eating at H. Salt Fish & Chips and marvelling at the authentic way they presented your order -- in a sheet of faux newspaper, and applying malt vinegar to the fish! I wonder if I was genetically predisposed to like that, being partially of British ancestry and such? Did I mention I had herring-on-a-bagel for breakfast a few weeks ago? Maybe I'm part Jewish?

Wednesday, October 5

how to annoy Big Tex

Hmm .. today's Wednesday, and the promo says:
It's that time again for the State Fair of Texas and "It's A Fair Deal!"

Bring three canned food items to the State Fair on any Wednesday and gain admission for $1. Hang out with Big Tex and support the (North Texas) Food Bank.
I wonder if Big Tex would get annoyed if I did show up, and tried to hang out with him?

Will we be able to mosey through the fairgrounds, with him pointing out the sites to me? Will he be My Bestest Friend, even after the fair? How many Fletcher's Corny Dogs will he eat in a single setting? Will he make a good house guest? Does he have his own security staff? What if I tried to climb his leg, just to say "Howdy"? Why haven't I read about anyone who tried this stunt?

Tuesday, October 4

corn and pork, pork and corn ...

Last Friday, Drew Bob and I dined at On The Border in Coppell (pork tamales: yum).

The primary reason for our meeting was to discuss the use of Corn Gluten Meal as a pre-emergent. Later, I spotted an article about it in the North Haven Gardens newsletter, where I learned about the two forms of the Meal: spreadable and powdered.

Drew advised:
"The research on corn gluten meal was done at Iowa State. Although quite complete, this research is ignored by most other universities. I don't know if I would brush my teeth with this stuff, but I would eat it, or maybe feed the animals with it. I have already used this on my lawn (as a pre-emergent). Time will tell. Also see The Dirt Doctor's web site and Corn Nutritional Value."
Drew is always Spot On with regard to agricultural issues, given his extensive background in animal husbandry, so I've no doubt he's Right As Rain with this information, too. By the time we'd finished our discussion (and meal) nearly 75 people had moseyed over to listen to Drew's spellbinding tales regarding this Corn Related Agricultural Phenomenon.

I've gotta call my broker and get in on some of these Corn Gluten Futures, eh?

Monday, October 3

the tale of Jack and Wally

Today, my good friend Jack (Just Another Car) decided not to be reliable. I was out running some errands, and had completed #3 on the list ("drop papers at recycler") when I turned the key, and .. nothing. Well, actually, it did make a sound .. something like those aliens who kidnapped Commander Riker on Star Trek:TNG (they "clicked" at each other). After checking that I hadn't done something stupid (like try to start it while in Reverse) I called the repair shop(pe) and arranged for Jack to take a ride on a flatbed.
Deep Thought #75: Why is it that auto mechanics make you repeat the sound a vehicle makes when it fails? Is this something they're taught in Mechanic School? Or do they do it so as to have jokes to tell their friends? ("Remember the guy who sounded like an armadillo in a blender?")
Naturally, I arrived at the shop near closing time, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to get a prognosis. Since Jack's now out of warranty, I won't go Hog Wild with the repair. I'm guessing the starter just decided to Up And Quit; we'll see.

In the meantime, I got a rare email from the NTTA today, including a spellbinding website: Who’s Wally?.

I shall sleep easier, knowing that Wally's On The Job. I'm not sure I'll Wave At Wally, though (per their website suggestion) .. that just seems so .. creepy. Maybe I'll use a Partial Hand Wave?

Sunday, October 2

zero, zip, nada

What I didn't do this weekend: much of anything. I think I read some newspapers and tossed the remnants in the recycle bin. And I appear to have made a dent in The Pile that started to gather on my desk. I think I finally got around to watching The Emmys (thank you, TiVo) .. but, in hindsight, I can't recall making a Significant Contribution to the Future of the Human Race. Maybe next weekend?

Heck, I didn't even mosey over to the Cottonwood Art Festival (held at Cottonwood Park) in nearby Richardson. I've always enjoyed moseying under the trees, seeing the well-behaved canines with their owners, sampling the culinary delights that are common to street fairs, and even watching the scores of people taking their time to see (and buy) ART. Alas, it'll be back in six months; maybe I can try again?

Aside: did I ever mention the Rocket Scientists in the Dallas Parks Department who named one of their neighborhood playgrounds "Cottonwood Park"? If I didn't know better, I'd say they did so to confuse The Great Huddled Masses, since Richardson has a much bigger and nicer park (with the same name) about one mile away. Nah, that would infer a conspiracy. And that doesn't happen in America.