Tuesday, October 31

the butt stops here

Yesterday, I spotted A Texas Idiot throwing a cigarette butt out his window. I guess it was too much trouble to put it in his SUV's ashtray. I made a note of the details, then went online today (Don't Mess with Texas) and reported him. It asked for:
  1. time/date
  2. location
  3. license plate
  4. vehicle make
  5. what was tossed (cigarette butt/cup-can-bottle/fast food trash/other)
  6. who tossed it (driver, passenger or truck bed)
According to the website, here's what happens next:
"When TxDOT receives the information it is compared to our vehicle registration database and an exact match is located. A letter is mailed to the litterer along with a Don't Mess with Texas litterbag to remind them to put their trash where it belongs!"
I'd be happier if TxDOT assigned them to a road crew - 4 hours for the first violation, and an additional 8 hours for every violation after that. Odds are they can't do that, since those who would abuse the system (think: disgruntled teenagers) could make innocent peoples' lives miserable.

I also heard that you can dial #SMOKE (#76653) from your wireless phone and report a polluting (oil smoke) vehicle. I'll have to add that to my cellphone directory and try it sometime.

Saturday, October 28

Republicans can't read?

Today, the local Republican incumbent (Texas state Congress) rang my doorbell and placed a doorhanger advertising his campaign. The problem is that I have a NO SOLICITORS sign and (as far as I'm concerned) that applies DOUBLE to politicians.

Texas state legislators earn $7,200 a year, but mine lives in a house (on a lake) appraised at $1.4 million, and drives a Rolls-Royce. And those are just the obvious signs of flaunting his wealth. What's wrong with this picture? Time to vote this Career Politician out of office, far as I'm concerned.

Okay, to be fair ... maybe he inherited this from a relative who was a thieving politician in the past. That could explain a lot.

Update: I got an anonymous phone call on Sunday wanting me to vote for this scumbag. It says (quote) "Tony is a former teacher and principal who will improve our schools, crack down on illegal immigration, and keep our taxes as low as possible. His opponent is a liberal attorney from New Jersey who is waging a negative and dirty campaign."

fun! with spam

Spammers must be, on average, even more stupid than the average Republican Party Lackey.

Today, while sipping my morning coffee, I took a (very) few minutes to look at one email account which has become a spam trap. I originally used this account only for a job search, so all the spam came as the result of my resume being Out There. Since I'm not currently in the job market, this account serves no other function. In the past 4 days, it attracted 182 emails; all were trapped by the spam filter (my settings are to relegate anyone not in my Address Book as a spammer).

Of the 182 messages, I looked only at the Subject lines for a breakdown:
43 - sex      (either "make me a stud" or "viagra spelled N different ways")
38 - health (mostly innocent stuff like "want to be healthy?")
37 - nebulous (random words)
30 - cheap medicine
24 - credit (most say TransUnion; Experian; Equifax or FICO)
7 - name (my name is in the Subject: line)
3 - get rich quick
It's worth noting that I didn't read the body text of ANY of these. People who want to reach me are in my Address Book. Even if someone acquires that list, odds are very high that the spam filters will trap the message due to content alone. Legitimate senders may have to resort to a phone call to advise me that an email is en route, but resending is trivial (for all but AOL newbies).

Memos to spammers:
1-Your messages are not reaching me.

2-You are throwing your money away - the only one making any money is the guy who sold you the list. By the way, 98% of the addresses have been abandoned due to excess spam, anyway. You're paying good money for a list which contains only 2% live addresses, and I'd guess that 90% of that 2% (get our your calculator - if you can operate one) will be trapped by spam filters. Your odds at even getting anyone to read your message - much less respond - is starting to look very, very remote. Then again, you never were any good at math.

3-You'd be better off playing the lottery -- which is for other people who Can't Do Math, either.

4-You'd do much better putting the money you're paying for the spam list into a savings account at 2%, but since you didn't pay attention in school, I don't expect any of you inbreds to understand this.
Spam™ (the capitalized one) is probably a trademark of Hormel Foods, who produce fine meat products. No harm intended, guys.

Friday, October 27

Republican scare tactics (part eleventy-four)

In the past week, I've received a different daily phone call from either a Republican shill or a Republican candidate. Today, the NCSP (or was it NSCP?) called and repeatedly begged me to "press 1" to indicate my opposition to same-sex marriage.

Since I didn't comply, I'm sure they'll keep calling until I buckle. The CallerID just says "Out of Area" so they're obviously too ashamed of their tactics to call from a verifiable phone number. Also funny how they didn't ask me to "press 2" to indicate that I think there are more important things in life, and how I couldn't care less about gay marriage. If they want it, fine by me. If they don't, fine by me.

It doesn't stop with the phone calls. Each day, I get a direct-mail piece telling me that the Democrats are (en masse) extraterrestrials (see above) but never what positives their own candidates possess - probably because their candidate's only positive is their desire to hold onto power, and protect pedophiles.

If you take the time to read the fine print in their direct mail piece, you can't help but laugh. Example: the first item says that the Democratic candidate defended drug dealers, child molesters and rapists. Oh my goodness - how awful!! HIDDEN MEANING: those being accused of a crime must be defended by someone with questionable morals (Republicans are above reproach and would turn down all those cases, you see). The rest of the stuff is equally absurd, but notice that they boldfaced all the juicy stuff ("child molesters"; "adult video"; "sued for malpractice") with none of the explanatory details. After all, who needs details when all you can read are headlines?

and then another direct mail piece from The Republican Party of Texas:

HIDDEN MEANING: Democrats will eat your babies (unless they're busy carrying flashlights for Mexicans to cross the border). It's too bad the average inbred Texas voter will slurp this up like an Arctic Rush® at Dayree-Queen.

Thursday, October 26

polls alone won't cut it

Prediction: when Wednesday morning, November 8th rolls around, Democrats around the country will be pounding their heads against the wall, wondering why they weren't able to take back either the House or the Senate. Right now, they're busy high-fiving each other as they review the various polls showing their leads in many races.

What will happen between now and then is that The Republican Get-Out-The-Vote machine will squash them like a steamroller. The Democrats haven't figured out that they need to get their voters to the polls (and avoid the rigged electronic voting machines) before they can declare victory.

Well, at least they'll be happy for a few more days. Until the votes have been counted. Then, it'll be back to Rove-As-Usual. They have only themselves to blame.

It's very odd to see this sign, which has been unheard of during most of the time I've been in Texas. Democrats have kept a low profile for the past dozen years, only meeting in secluded places such as coffee shops and bookstores.

Related, possibly entertaining websites: True Blue Action and Dallas For Change.

Sunday, October 22

eephus ain't BBQ. but then, what izzit?

Well, Michelle's back in TBA [The Bay Area] after a week here in Big D.

Among other amusements, we hit four (4) different barbecue chains and she rated Sonny Bryan's at the top, followed closely by Spring Creek and Pappa's, with Dickey's a distant fourth (to be fair, we were the last to arrive before closing, and barbeque probably peaks earlier in the day).

We tried using a semi-scientific method, assigning various weights to the meat; sauce; veggies; bread; ambiance; and sundry. Each time, Michelle ordered the pork ribs so as to minimize the remaining variables (the meat was assigned about 50% of the score). Sadly, her bell pepper allergy proved to be a problem, as she spotted it in most of the vegetable offerings (whether it was really there is conjecture). We agreed that Sonny Bryan's had the best bread (fresh, buttered top) and Pappa's the worst (a slice of Wonder Bread wrapped in a bag).

Finally, Michelle's concerned about all the eephus that's here, there and everywhere. Presumably, eephus==bacteria, but I couldn't find anything anywhere which made that correlation. Is it possible this is a term used by her parents when she was a youngun, and she can't shake it from her vocabulary?

Friday, October 20

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Earlier today, Michelle and I moseyed to downtown Dallas where (after 13+ years here) I finally took in the #1 tourist attraction: The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (a/k/a the building formerly known as the Texas School Book Depository). There's a lot of great video and 1963 artifacts on display; it was well done. Trivia: the "Sixth Floor Museum" now occupies both the sixth and seventh floors of the building. The first floor is used by the Dallas County Commissioners Court (John Wiley Price et al). The second through fifth floors are office space at "411 Elm Street". There's a webcam at The Sniper's Perch on the 6th floor.

After the tour, we moseyed downstairs and watched some antiwar protestors who arrived at The Grassy Knoll in time to be viewed by the commuters leaving for home, and listened to
a street vendor hawking newspaper-style photos of the assassination. I wonder if he's ever been inside The Gift Shop to see what he's up against?
Deep Thought: did Texas do away with issuing school books after November, 1963? If so, that could explain why we're 49th (of 50) in education.

(here's a closeup of the plaque on 411 Elm Street; someone's emphasized the word "ALLEGEDLY", since conspiracy theories continue to this day)

Thursday, October 19

The Soylent Greenhouse Effect

Last night, Michelle & I watched Soylent Green (1973) (the documentary starring Charlton Heston and other notables) and were amused (?) to see them talking about global warming, as one of the premises of the film. Of course, they referred to it as The Greenhouse Effect, but the inference was there, nonetheless.

Related: several years ago, I bought a splendid T-shirt from the Soylent Green Biscuit Company; people who see it either get the joke, or don't. Hmm .. even thinking about it makes me hungry for one of those Soylent Green Crackers .. mmm, mmm, good.

Wednesday, October 18

Sessions: cut and run (TX-32)

Today's entertaining post: ALL GOVERNOR, ALL THE TIME (in the right-wing Dallas Blog). The story's about how Pete Sessions ($e$$ion$) is doing a cut-and-run anytime he's due to compete with Will Pryor - his Democratic challenger in TX-32.

No surprise : Sessions probably couldn't even fog a mirror, much less talk coherently about the issues.

I repeat: TERM LIMITS!

Saturday, October 14

Saturday in the park

Michelle swooped into town Friday afternoon*, for a couple days' visit. We're taking in some of the culinary delights, amongst other stuff, which gave me a chance to sample places I haven't visited before (since my 13+ years here in Dallas).
*Just before she arrived, I dropped by St Paul's Hospital to see how Trish-Bob was doing after her surgery. Turns out I was the First Visitor Of The Day - woo hoo! By the way, it turns out that St. Paul's Hospital is unrelated to Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks - whoda thunkit?
One of these is Luby's Cafeteria, a chain with lots of Texas history. Not unexpectedly, we were the youngest ones there at the 6pm dinnertime (by at least 20 years). Notable: a very large analog clock on the wall, so that even the most vision-challenged senior wouldn't have trouble knowing the time. I had baked sole almandine along with some broccoli and other veggies, which wasn't half bad. No complaints.

The next day, we waited 20 minutes (Saturday-noon) to have a late breakfast at Cindi's New York Delicatessen (four locations). I had a veggie omelet which came with real hashbrowns (unlike Deli News) and a short stack-o-pancakes. That was plenty to keep me going until we fed again, around 8pm at Spring Creek Barbecue, where we skillfully dodged The Bread Girl's repeated attempt to fatten us up.

Between feedings, we nosed around Saigon-Taipei market (Garland) and scored a couple dragonfruit, and then Michelle found a coolie hat at Hiep Thai market (Garland) to close out the ensemble.

Wednesday, October 11

Will Pryor vs Pete $e$$ion$

Since Everybody Knows™ that incumbents (even the pedophile-protecting Republicans) win 96% of their races, I don't give Will Pryor (candidate for U.S. Congress, Texas 32nd District) much of a chance, but .. ya never know. Since I'm still a firm believer in term limits for Senators and Congressmen, I'd be happy if Pete $e$$ion$ were out of work, come November 8th.

Sessions ran a typically-dirty campaign several years ago when he beat Democratic veteran Martin Frost, after one of the famous gerrymandered-district fiascos that the Texas Republicans pulled (to eliminate as many districts which could "go Democratic" as possible).

Eventually, what goes around, comes around.
Everybody Knows is a trademark of the state-run media (Fox "News"); Rush Limbaugh Productions; and the Christian Fascist Republican Party.

Tuesday, October 10

home school lesson

Alec says that Bishop Ussher dates the beginning of the world to 4004 BC (6010 years ago).

The Jewish calendar (which starts at "creation") says this is year 5767.

The difference between the two (243 years) is thus contested.

Logical conclusion: the 243 year span must've been the period when the dinosaurs were roaming the Earth.

Monday, October 9

Kim's got a brand new toy

Well, I'll bet Daddy Bush is a Happy Camper today. Following his son's provocative speech in January 2002, North Korea now has a nuclear nucular bomb. You can bet they've sent a messenger (FNJ - OIIE) to Tehran with the detailed plans, so they can fast-track their own program.

I wonder which country will be the first target of Kim Jong-il's new toy?
Deep Thought: I've heard estimates of the blast as anywhere from 1/60 our [1945] Hiroshima bomb, to 1/2 as large. Others say they suspect it was a plutonium bomb (i.e. "atomic", not hydrogen). Those low yields make me wonder if they faked the explosion using a large conventional weapon (ala the USA's "Daisy Cutter"). Probably not, since it generated something akin to 4.0 on the Richter scale, and atmospheric tests will detect any residue of radioactivity, but still ...

Ref: Divine Strake

Saturday, October 7

comparing Bushes

News item: today, in Newport News, Virginia, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush was christened after the 82-year-old former president.

CVN-77 USS George H.W. Bush 

Meanwhile, in a farm pond in Crawford, Texas, the puppet-powered rowboat President Quagmire was christened after the 60-year old current president.

the rowboat George Dubya Bush 

YABF : yet another battery fubar

Eventually, my death will be caused by an errant battery; I just know it.

Over the years, I've had my issues with batteries. I've blogged about these demons on at least a dozen occasions (the most recent was a false alarm related to the Sony batteries in my laptop).

This week, the problem was with my home alarm; after I came home to find that it had triggered (I didn't close the door tightly), I was shocked to see there wasn't a Dallas SWAT deployment surrounding my home.

Turns out my alarm company never got the signal because (long story short) the battery backup had failed. Whaat? The system was neutered because the battery went south - and the system didn't warn me; not sure I like that feature. The service guy arrived the same day I reported the problem, and quickly isolated the fault. He says those batteries last about 3 years (maybe 5 under ideal conditions) and probably triggered an amber light on the alarm panel, which I dutifully ignored.

Lessons learned:

#1 I set a calendar reminder, 3 years from now, to replace this battery, so I'm not paying for an alarm that'll never reach the monitoring center.

#2 Retail outlets don't stock a lot of these "alarm system batteries", which can sit on the shelf for many months. Best to check the expiration date, just in case.

#3 My alarm company sells fresh batteries, and will deliver them while they're in my area, almost for cost. I was "quoted" about $15 for one, versus double that from Batteries+ or RadioShack or whoever else carries them.

#4 When the amber "fault" light appears on the control pad, PAY ATTENTION.

Friday, October 6

Texas Governor = US President

Tonight's the night for the Top Secret Debate amongst the candidates for Texas Governor. What makes this absurd (typical Texas) is how the challengers are complaining that incumbent Rick Perry planned this solo debate so as to minimize the audience. After all, it's a Friday night, and that means that 94.3% of the population will be attending the local high school football game, and not glued to the television.

If you dig long enough on the Dallas Managed News website, you'll find:
TEXAS VOTE 2006: THE GOVERNOR'S DEBATE Gubernatorial debate with Gov. Rick Perry and candidates Chris Bell, Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn. The media panel will consist of Wayne Slater (The Dallas Morning News), John McCaa (WFAA-TV), Sara Lucero (KENS-TV/San Antonio) and Christine Haas (KVUE-TV/Austin). KHOU-TV's (Houston) Greg Hurst moderates. Live and commercial-free from Dallas. It will also be available for viewing at DallasNews.com. (7 p.m. Ch. 8.)
Amusingly enough, I found NO sign of this on the local TV station's website: WFAA.com. Welcome to the state of Apathy. America: we're choosing Your Next President down here, so .. pay attention.

Thursday, October 5

26^2 = ??

hardly a day goes by when I don't hear of a new word. Oftentimes it's something Truly Amusing like "meanderthal" .. but I think we should exhaust all the remaining SHORT words first. There are just way too many 2-letter words that need a loving home. (Scrabble players be damned), starting with [A] I can think of:

aa; ac; ae; af; ai; aj; ak (postal, and other abbreviations don't count); ao; ap; aq (the Arabs have taught us that we don't need a U after Q anymore); ar; au; av and az (taken: ab; ad; ag; ah; Al (proper name); am; an; as; at; aw; ax; ay)

[B] is more difficult, since all good English words must include A,E,I,O,U and sometimes Y:

ba; bo; bu (taken: be, bi)
ca, ce; ci; cu (taken: co)
da; de; di; du (taken: do)

and then we're back to a vowel [E], so more words become available:

ea; ec; ee; ef; eg; ei; ej; ek; el (Mexican pronoun); en; eo; ep; eq; es; et; eu; ev; ey; ez(taken: eb; Ed; eh (Wisconsonians); em; er; ew; ex

Once we're done with the remaining 2-letter words, we can progress to 3, then 4. After all, etymology is just way overrated.

Wednesday, October 4

You're On Notice - October 4, 2006

(courtesy of the On Notice Generator)

Oops .. looks like somebody misspelled Hizb' Allah ...

Tuesday, October 3

next up: Charles Carl Roberts V ?

My post from Saturday now sounds odd, given that Yet Another Classroom Execution has taken place .. this time in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania where the target was a group of Amish schoolgirls - bound with plastic handcuffs.

This time, the descriptions are about Charles Carl Roberts IV:
" .. an exceptional father ..."

".. a home-schooled Christian ..."

".. a respected and well-liked father of three ..."
Makes me wonder how many other exceptional Christian fathers get off work at 3am, go home and have breakfast with their children, calmly put them on a schoolbus, then proceed to cowardly murder Somebody Else's Children. Presumably one of his OWN children is named Charles Carl Roberts V : will he repeat his father's legacy, 20 years from now?

How many other Sleeper Cells - a/k/a Ticking Time Bombs - are out there, waiting to go off? Is the trigger the instant media attention - do they crave fame, or are they all simply delusional madmen who should've been placed in state mental wards, for the safety of the rest of us?