Monday, May 29

Memorial Day 2006

Flashback to Saturday, 21 July 2001. I'd taken delivery of a new car earlier in the month. Partially as a reason to exercise it, I drove down to the DFW National Cemetery.
Although my father spent 30 years in the US Navy, I never had the inclination to join the military, and dad never asked me about it; he died during my second year in college. He didn't talk much about his World War II experiences, other than a brief story about a multi-ship convoy in the Pacific where only his ship and one other survived. I once wrote to the Navy department, asking for a copy of his military records, but they never replied.
I knew the DFW cemetery opened in 2000, and I wanted to look around. I thought I spotted a mountain lion from a distance, but couldn't be sure. There was a sign warning that "(t)his cemetery is being maintained in as natural state as possible [sic] and is inhabited by various wildlife such as lizards; snakes; birds; coyote; deer; fox; skunks; opossums; spiders; bobcat; wild dogs and scorpions". I spent a few hours there, taking photos and otherwise taking it all in.

The next day, I see that I went to the "DFW Founders Plaza" to watch the planes take off and land. I took quite a few photos that day, not knowing that such behavior, two months later, might seem highly suspect in a changed-forever country. Don't bother going back to my thoughts in those days; I didn't start this blog until July 2003.

This morning, I nosed through part of my photo collection (partly as a way to recall when I went to the DFW National Cemetery). I decided to give Adobe's "PhotoShop Album Starter Edition" a whirl with my (eeek!) 11,930 photographs. I'm guessing that they'll offer me all sorts of (paid) upgrades and options, eventually. For now, it's enough that I make a serious stab at organizing them all; if only I had that much time.

Unrelated thoughts:


I wonder ... what happened to the rest of the bribe? Louisiana Congressman William J. Jefferson allegedly (yeah, right) took $100,000 outside a suburban Washington hotel, but The Feds only found $90,000 in his freezer. Did he stop at Exxon on the way home to fill up his SUV?
Aside: after listening to AirAmerica skewer this moron, I flipped over to one of the 3R stations (Radical Right Radio) and listened to them say that .. because Jefferson is a Democrat (and a black one at that) .. the "Liberal Left Lunatics" were ignoring the whole thing. Ah, the 3R-Media have learned Karl Rove's lesson well: Lie. Repeat the Lie Until Everyone Believes It. Ignore (or, better yet - belittle) Anyone Who Disagrees.

I wonder ... if the phrase "Haditha Massacre" will be this generation's equivalent to "My Lai Massacre"? Unlikely, since the scale of the atrocity is (apparently) so different. In Vietnam, between 347 and 504 people were slaughtered by US soldiers. In Iraq, it appears that "only" 24 civilians were slaughtered by US soldiers. Time will tell.


I wonder ... if Simone and Marvin remembered Jill-Bob, who I picked up at DFW yesterday, following her three week, 4500 mile* RV trip from Minneapolis to Anchorage. Better her than me!
* Yahoo! Maps says the distance between Minneapolis and Anchorage is only 3206 miles (80 hours). I reckon they were moseyin' and lollygaggin'.

Saturday, May 27

gone are the brain cells

It's too bad we didn't have yearbooks in grade (aka elementary) school; I've been trying to resurrect the brain cells which included my teachers names (from first grade onward) and can't remember many of them.

It's only been what .. 42 years since I was in the 1st grade? Odds are that more than a few of my teachers have now died. How many of my teachers can I remember without resorting to the yearbook?

grade school (1963-1969)
(x) principal
(_) school bus driver
(x) 1st grade
(_) 2nd (blank)
(_) 3rd (blank)
(x) 4th - PE
(x) 5th - TV classes (science; geography; etc)
(_) 6th (blank)
We had the same teacher all day for grades 1-4, before we began going to different teachers. About the only thing I remember from the first grade was that the playground was right outside the door, and we had a mandatory nap time. I dimly recall one of those rubberized coin-holders which I used to buy lunch each day at the cafeteria, although I did carry a lunchbox part of the time (mine had Yogi Bear on the outside).
jr high (1969-1971)
(_) principal (blank)
(_) school bus driver
(x) 7- band, art, Latin/Greek
(_) 8- (blank)
Junior high was easily the most traumatic of my educational years. I was bused to a distant school for their advanced studies program, but it was too intense for my 13-year old body. I attended a (much closer) high school, and fit in a bit better.
high school (1971-1975)
(x) principal
(x) 9- English 1; analytic geometry; sociology; Spanish
(x) 10- English 2
(x) 11- calculus
(x) 12- newspaper staff (I was both sports editor and photographer)

college (1975-1978)
(x) president
(x) freshman / sophomore: communications theory; accounting; advanced studies
(_) junior (blank)
(_) senior (blank)

grad school
a complete blank. Truly, I can't remember the names of any of them. There are a few muddy images of a face or two, but nothing substantive. I can only remember the names of 2 or 3 classmates. Hmm .. truly weird. I suppose this memory lapse would be disturbing, if I began to fixate on it ...
Oftentimes, I've found it useful to "background the process" (a Unix term) and eventually those brain cells will be located, and the result returned. I'll continue that attempt. Then I'll resort to The Yearbooks, assuming they haven't succumbed to parchment fatigue.

Thursday, May 25

Pass the Bread

This week's must-read item:

Bill Moyers' Baccalaureate Address to Hamilton College (Clinton, NY) on 20 May 2006: Pass the Bread
Deep (unrelated) Thought: Aren't you happy that President Quagmire has turned things around? See New high: 81% say nation's moral values getting worse, by Michael Foust, Baptist Press (who quote a Gallup Poll on the issue). Looks like even the Baptists acknowledge that President Quagmire was a Colossal Mistake.

Monday, May 22

Grammar Lesson

I really should take the day off; it's Victoria Day in Canada. Here in the US, we acknowledge the holiday by saying "eh" at least 2 dozen times, eh?
Deep Thought: I wonder if English teachers in Canada diagram sentences ending with [eh].
I'm not sure how the Canucks acknowledge our similar holiday ("President's Day"). When I was growing up, we had the twin holidays of Lincoln's birthday and Washington's birthday, since combined into one to make way for Martin Luther King's birthday.
A few days ago, I read one of David Duke(of Louisiana KKK fame)'s opinions that America's two worst presidents were (in order) Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt (the former for freeing the slaves and the latter for getting us into World War II). In Duke's mind, the Japanese wouldn't have bombed Pearl Harbor if we hadn't embargoed them, and the Holocaust is a myth (Iran's president Ahmadinejad must be a Klansman, too).

Sometimes I read Duke's rants and find myself agreeing (when he says President Quagmire is among the worst presidents), then he opens his mouth with these distortions of history and I have to wonder whether he's growing his own crack down in Louisiana.
Anyway ... the faux-French in Québec don't acknowledge Her Majesty The Queen, so instead of Victoria Day, they're busy celebrating Fête des Patriotes (a/k/a the Lower Canada Rebellion). It's only a matter of time before they succeed in seceding, eh?.

Sunday, May 21

spineless in Texas

I noticed an Associated Press article making the rounds:
The Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines apologized for disrespecting President George W. Bush during a London concert in 2003. But now, she's taking it back.

"I don't feel that way anymore," she told Time magazine for its issue hitting newsstands Monday. "I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever."
Oh, baby .. I think I'm in luv. It's not everyday you wander across a woman who's both intelligent* and has a giant set of cojones.
* not that it takes a mental giant - anymore - to discern that President Quagmire is a waste of space
Odds are the Fundamentalist Country Music fans (some of whom secretly adore the Dixie Chicks) will once again rise up from their double-wides and spew more hate. For me, well .. it's good to see someone stand up for their convictions, even if their fan base will sooner eat their own younguns than admit Their President is little more than a fool.

I read the item in the Fort Worth newspaper ("The Chicks are ticked") about how some CFRP members bullied radio stations into pulling their music off the air. That's all these pond scum inbreeds know how to do - bully others to get their way.

The fact that the radio stations caved in shows how spineless most of them are.

Hell, as much as I loathe country music, Natalie's stance makes me wanna run down to The Record Store and plunk down my last food stamps for their latest CD ("Taking the Long Way"). I wonder if it's available on anything but 8-track?

Friday, May 19

clean power, Dallas style

Is this what's considered clean power? The power monitor I bought earlier this month can not only capture data, but show it in a spreadsheet, or graph it in a wide variety of ways.

One of the things it can do is visualize how clean my power is (TXU ultimately supplies it). I suppose I should be looking for a flat line at the 125 volt line, but it dipped to 122 on the low end and nearly 128 on the high end, over a two-day span.

This measurement is from a television set that's not connected to a UPS, which presumably would tidy things up a bit.

Here's another view of the data, adding the "Minimum Volts" and "Maximum Volts" measurements, showing even deeper troughs and higher peaks. Maybe I should return to school for one of them Double-E degrees, so I can understand what I'm a-lookin' at?

Thursday, May 18

Net Neutrality

Do you ever feel like you just Didn't Get The Memo?

That's what happened today when I spotted an email from MoveOn, encouraging me to sign their petition on Internet freedom. Huh? I thought the Internet was already free (to a good home). Well, okay .. free if you have an account with an ISP and can afford a computer, or live within moseying distance of someone who does (or even a public liberry).

Anyhoo, MoveOn pointed me to a video of Moby; an audio clip of Moby; an Air America interview with Moby; a CNN highlight of Moby; and an Associated Press story on Moby. Supposedly the Gun Owners of America (who?), some Hollywood musicians (REM, Moby, others), and a Stack of Librarians are all in agreement about this legislation.

I haven't given much thought to Net Neutrality, although it's stirring considerable attention (see Hardware firms oppose Net neutrality laws for one side to the story). Then again, after hearing some of the sleazy things BellSouth was trying to do, followed by last week's bombshell about AT&T and Verizon turning over our phone records to the NSA, and now they and Comcast and Time Warner are all trying to get this "internet gatekeeper" legislation passed. Hmm .. if they're for it, I should probably be against it, right?

I'm not so sure there's something broken, and that new laws are needed. Maybe I oughta Read Up Some More about this? The opposing sides appear to be lining up behind and Save the Hmm .. time to install an Internet Terminal in The Latrine(tm).

Sunday, May 14

view from ground level

A few days ago, I noticed a fast-growing mushroom in my front yard. Needless to say, the lawnmower had already shaved the cap (I assume it had a cap!) but this one had an unusually thick stalk, and made for an entertaining close-up (left).

I tried to dodge it the next time, to allow it to grow into whatever nature intended, but .. the mower got a bit close and turned it into mold spores.

Saturday, May 13

Cousin Ray

I wonder if Ray McGovern is one of my relatives. I hope so; I'd like to have him as a cousin. My maternal grandmother was a McGovern, so .. maybe it's possible.

Ray McGovern is the one who stood up to Donald Rumsfeld last week (4 May 2006), and was mentioned in 2004 in a Mother Jones' article titled The Skeptical Spy.

Wednesday, May 10

a solid F

Yesterday, HayJax' DSL was down. Today, it was my turn for a DSL outage.

SBCat&t's Tech Support ["ATS"] was less than perfect; when they asked what model modem I was using, I told him "Zoom X6".
This is not the modem SBC supplied when I signed up, years ago. When i upgraded to the faster "DSL Pro" package, the SBC modem (a SpeedStream 5360 from Efficient Networks) couldn't take the higher speed of ADSL 2/2+, so I bought the Zoom from CompUSA rather than pay SBC's inflated price.
Almost immediately, ATS said my modem was at fault, and I'd have to buy one of their (overpriced) modems if I wanted support. At the end of the call, I thanked ATS, and assured him it wasn't the modem. Being more perturbed than usual (!), I said something like "well, I guess i'll just have to wait until the DSL link magically reappears" and he said "yes, that's correct".

After hanging up, I muttered (to No One In Particular), "Thanks for Nothing."

I give them a solid F for the day.

The link came back online a few hours later, no thanks to ATS. Now, I notice that my contract expires in the next few days, and they're running a $17.99 promo for new subscribers only. I'd give Verizon a call, but they're one of the trio of phone companies that handed over my phone records to the NSA, so I'm not in the mood to give them my business, either. I wonder who else would like my DSL business?

Sunday, May 7

Watts Up?

Karl was in town for The Derby, and we rendezvoused at Poor Richard's Cafe in Plano. I've heard about this Fine Dining Establishment for several years; Eric (the Redneck) was the first one to Clue Me In. They only seat 260 (so says the sign) so I was amused that there was no waiting for our party of six. And we even scored a jumbo-booth: woo hoo.

After feeding on Ranch Eggs (Huevos Rancheros), I moseyed over to Fry's. And I do mean Mosey in the real connotation. That's often dangerous for me, as I often Shop Like A Guy: go straight for The Thing and then aim straight for The Register. So, I suppose I got off light .. $156 later I strolled out with a 3-pack of air, a replacement spotlight (for locating Beta the Wonder Dog at 3am) and a power meter called a watts up? PRO.

Naturally, once I got the power meter home, I discovered it used an oh-so-quaint DB9 connector, instead of USB. So, it was back to the store for a converter. You'd think by now my Closet Of Horrors would have every adapter known to man, but .. no.

I'm sure I'll blog on this in gory detail Real Soon Now, but playing with the watts up? has already taught me:

1- my reading light uses more watts (100) than my TV (65) and TiVo (11) combined;

2- the old Pentium laptop uses 3 watts while charging; 23 when in use; and 35 when the CPU is maxed out (UD Agent). If I disable the Wireless-G adapter it saves a mere 1.3 watts.

More fascinating observations as I continue playing ...

Tuesday, May 2

musical minorities

If you paid attention, you could see the impact of yesterday's "Day of Action". I noticed a dearth of "gardener carts" (pulled by ubiquitous F250s). Fiesta Mart's parking lot was only 75% full.

Of the five (5) people who were working at the car wash, three were Hispanic (and hence obviously illegal); a fourth was African and the greeter appeared Irish. I stopped by another grocery and noticed that today's checkers were African instead of Mexican, while the guys stocking the shelves and tending the produce were Guatemalan.

The worst experience was when I used the drive-thru at a QSR (fast food) and noticed the (Pakistani? Indian?) owners (probably) were manning the cash register. They were more incompetent than the usual Salvadorans-behind-the-register. The owners operated serially: take the order, prepare the order, take cash, make change, deliver product. Then (and only then) take an order from the next vehicle. There has to be a better way.

Yesterday, the order of the day was substitutions: one minority for another. Today, it'll be Business As Usual.

Memo to the INS (or whatever they're called, post 9/11): I was able to spot several dozen illegals within a few minutes yesterday. Can't you just put them all on boxcars and ship them back, south of the Rio Grande? I look forward to more Pakistani managers at the drive-thru.

Unrelated (?): whatever happened to The Frito Bandito?

Monday, May 1

Día del Trabajo

Looking at my calendar, I see that today is "Día del Trabajo", which is Mexican Labor Day. That's somewhat funny, since about 11.5 million of their citizens, now permanently evicted AWOL from Mexico, want to go on strike today in the US. Maybe I'll try to get a car wash, or order a Happy Meal(tm) at McDonald's, just to see whether they have any impact at all.

Maybe this symbolic "boycott" will have an effect in some of the low-rent districts where the illegals live, but I'm guessing it'll be hard to tell the difference in my part of town. I'm expecting about zero economic impact, since stores catering to that community stayed opened late yesterday and did a brisk business in anticipation of today's holiday.

The way I see it, many of these illegals want it both ways; they want money here by doing unskilled labor (nannies, car washers, restaurant help, cleaning crews, fast food workers) but don't want to renounce their Mexican citizenship, don't want to Learn The Language, and certainly don't want taxes withheld from their (mostly cash) wages.

The result -- they send $US billions back to their families in the (even more) politically corrupt*, poverty-stricken nation to our south, so that even more of them can Escape. Eventually, the old immigrants will retaliate against the new immigrants, whose increasing numbers will drive the oldsters' wages down.
*Corruption is widespread in Mexico, where they make Karl Rove's manipulation of US laws look like a stroll in the park.
By Friday ("Cinco de Mayo"), most Americans will have forgotten about today's Event. May 5th is a bigger celebration here than in Mexico. Many stoopid Americans think Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, which it ain't (that's September 16th). The official holiday is "Aniversario de la Batalla de Puebla" which has become an equivalent to the Irish' St. Patrick's Day, where the goal is for Americans to get drunk. Big woop.