Saturday, February 24

dust storm

At first, I thought it was mid-afternoon fog, but then Janice-Bob said it was dust blowing in from west Texas. Indeed, there was enough to drive my contact lenses crazy, and the sun was somewhat obscured, leading to a surreal effect (shown in the photo).

Also possibly due to the high winds (and today's Red Flag Warning), the Thai restaurant [Thai Tanee] -- where we'd just sat down to peruse the menu -- lost power due to a blown transformer. We started to leave, but the owner said they cook with gas, so we ordered and had a splendid meal, uneventful if not for the lack of background music and the weird dust effect going on outside.
As written on the Dallas Managed News site: "Dust was also a hazard, and the National Weather Service issued a blowing dust advisory, the first one Weather Service official could remember. "We don't usually see west winds this strong," said Weather Service spokeswoman Jessica Schultz. She said the wind's direction was responsible for the dust, which caused visibility to drop to as low as a quarter-mile in some areas. She said strong southerly winds blew through the area back in October, but it has been about 20 years since westerly winds were as strong as they were Saturday."
When I got home, there was a message from HayJax asking if my power was out, so I suspect she was In The Dark, too (yet, two miles from the restaurant). I called her cellphone and lied - saying that my power was out so I had to watch TV by candlelight. We'll see if she bought that fish story.


58,148 -- Americans killed during the Vietnam war
58,148* -- Iraqis killed during Bush's War

* and climbing

Monday, February 19

a fitting proposition

It appears there is collusion in the bird seed industry.

Yesterday, while Slow Dancing the aisles at an Everthing Must Go sale at Albertsons (1341 W Campbell @ Coit), I spotted a "Snack Basket" by Morning Song (Francesville, Indiana) that was marked 40% off. Being a sucker for both wild birds and EMG sales, I added it to my shopping cart, mentally noting that I'd have to add one of those pressed seedcakes at a future time (there's often Slim Pickings at an EMG sale - where ALL SALES ARE FINAL is the mantra).

That Future Time arrived within an hour or so after I left Albertsons, when I found myself a half mile away at the local SuperTarget. Sure enough, they had a seedcake, but it was made by Kaytee (Chilton, Wisconsin). What are the odds those two companies meet at the annual Wild Bird Seed Standards Committee, to hash out the details of interoperability? After all, these two companies are only 417.3 km (259.3 miles) apart. I eyeballed the seedcake and guessed that it would fit .. if not, I'd have to dig out a butcherknife and hack it down to size.

It would've been Way Handy to use SizEasy to Fire Up A Browser and compare the Snack Basket to the cake, but that would've required that I know the dimensions of the Snack Basket, now sitting in my car's trunk .. what are the odds that data would be online?.
Hmm: I smell an opportunity for a future entrepreneur .. who would sell this Dimension Matching Service to both parties.
Once I got both parts home, I unwrapped and "assembled" them - yes, they fit. I'm hoping that my local woodpeckers (and nuthatches and chickadees) are appreciative. For those of you who are interested, here is the detailed size comparison.

Sunday, February 18

brother, can you spare a dime?

Add another item to the "Texas Dead Last" list: average credit scores.

Turns out Texas is the lowest of all 50 states. Whoda thunk that this marvelous place which gave us such mental lightweights (and fiscal disconservatives) as George W. Bush would also give us lousy credit scores?

830 highest possible score
707 highest state average (South Dakota)
705 2nd best (Vermont)
673 US average
651 49th worst (Nevada)
646 lowest state average (Texas)
330 lowest possible score

Details on Experian's site.

Unrelated post, as entered (smugly) from my Mac: Dim Vista -

Thursday, February 15

The Perfect Storm

Last week, I decided to experiment with the Celsius settings in my car. It's mildly odd to see the inside temperature of 21, knowing that's toasty. This morning (en route a customer) it said -3, and had inched all the way up to +1 before I returned home. The scale's been easy for me to adapt to, so I'm still puzzled by America's inability to switch from the oh-so-quaint Fahrenheit scale. Not to mention the equally quaint ounces-pounds-gallons volume measurements. Bah.

Unrelated: I had lunch with Jill Wazzabob (who was in town for a visit) and Drew-Bob on Tuesday. Jill called at 11:27 and offered to meet here at 1pm. Then, Drew called at 12:12 saying he was just leaving his employer's parking lot. So, all 3 of us ended up at Chuck's Burgers, Solving World Hunger. Fascinating.

Now, Jill's back in Hoosierville where it's nice and warm, unlike here, where it's -4. Yes, Celsius.

Thursday, February 8

.. and now, Float #6 in The Jerry Jones Parade

Anyone who's lived in Dallas more than about 20 minutes knows that the Real Power in this town does not rest with The Mayor. Or the City Council. Or the Head Southern Baptist. Or even the County Commissioner. No, the Real (Ceremonial) Power in this town rests with the Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Thus, a new Pseudo-King will be anointed later today: Wade Phillips will become the 7th coach in franchise history. It's all over the TV, radio, newspaper .. even Wikipedia has already been updated - and the official announcement is still hours away. It's all anyone will be talking about for the next week or so. All office work will come to a grinding halt. Productivity will approach zero.
Such is the case when you live in Dallas - the town that worships Big Haired Cheerleaders and High School Football - but couldn't give a flip about academia. This is evidenced by SMU's decision to host the President Quagmire Liberry, completing their transition from a nondescript pseudo-academic institution into a purely Right Wing Political Vomitorium - where future Buffys and Brads will get their non-educations. Yet, I digress ...
When I moved to Dallas in 1993, The Original Coach [TOC] -- Tom Landry -- had been out of a job for 5 years. Jerry Jones bought the team in February 1989 and the first thing he did - before saying hello - was to fire TOC and replace him with Jimmy Johnson, who stayed about 5 years (winning Super Bowls in 1993 and 1994).

I moved to Dallas in August 1993 and watched them win Super Bowl 28 (under Johnson) and Super Bowl 30 (under Switzer). There's been a Super Bowl drought ever since - partly because The Real King (Jerry Jones) cannot keep from meddling. Heck, during the most recent change, he did (in sequence):

1- accept the head coach's resignation
2- hired new assistant coaches
3- hired new head coach

Naturally, this tells the new head coach who's really in control - The Owner - since the decision of who will be assistant coaches does not rest with The Head Coach (well, it did - contractually - under Bill Parcells, but Those Days Are Over).

1st - Tom Landry (270-178-6) - 2 Super Bowl wins - 1972 and 1978
And then here's the Jerry Jones Parade:
2nd - Jimmy Johnson (51-37) - 2 Super Bowl wins - 1993 and 1994
3rd - Barry Switzer (45-26) - 1 Super Bowl win - in 1996
4th - Chan Gailey (18-14)
5th - Dave Campo (15-33) - only Cowboys coach with a losing record
6th - Bill Parcells (34-32)
7th - Wade Phillips (record TBD)

I wonder when Jerry will begin interviewing for the next Head Coach in The Parade?

Tuesday, February 6

thinking about Vista

Just to amuse myself, I ran the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor last night:

Result of running Windows Vista Upgrade AdvisorEnglish translation
Your computer can run Windows Vista. Based on our scan of your system, Windows Vista Home Basic appears to be the best edition for you.Run to the store and fork over $149 plus tax per PC
This device will not work in Windows Vista. For more information, please go to the device manufacturer's website, Windows Marketplace, or contact your retailer.Your scanner won't work - go buy a new one.
There is no compatibility data available for this device. For more information, go to the device manufacturer's website or Windows Marketplace, or contact your retailer.We don't support your laser printer anymore - go buy a new one.
This program might have minor compatibility issues after upgrading to Windows Vista. For more information, go to the vendor's websiteYou're going to have to upgrade all the Microsoft applications that were flagged. We're not even going to tell you about all those third party applications on your system. Shame on you for not always buying from Microsoft, every time.
Based on this analysis, I've decided not to upgrade; my scanner and laser printer are working just fine now, thank you very much. Sure, all new PCs will force Vista upon us, unless you do like me and just buy a Mac instead.

Deep thought: I wonder if Microsoft counted on 2007 blogging when they made sales projections for Vista? Was blogging around when Windows XP was released?

Sunday, February 4

meme-o to Geoff

A few weeks (!) ago, Geoff invited me to Play Along with the Yes, it’s the “Five Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Me, But Were Afraid To Ask” meme. So, I added it my drafts and skillfully shuffled it from one draft folder to another, figuring I'd finish it during one of my nights battling insomnia. That time has now arrived: huzzah.
  1. the shortest job I ever had was at Northup in Torrance, California - I lasted all of six weeks. I found myself in a tightly-knit group who hadn't had a new member in many years. It was obvious that I would forever be considered The Outsider .. so (after two weeks) I phoned the headhunter recruiter and advised him to Keep Looking. A few days later, I scored an interview with a better fit, so after the workday was over, I went to see my boss to say goodbye. He had left early; I left him a note atop his desk, offering my resignation. Apparently he Never Got The Memo as I received an official letter from the company a month later, saying that I'd been terminated for failing to come to work. Indeed.

  2. I was sacked as a disc jockey at a country music station in 1978. While working the evening shift one night, I accidentally left the microphone open while I took a phone call. When the second line began ringing, I ignored it .. turns out it was my boss who happened to be listening to what I thought was a private conversation (not that it wasn't tame .. it just wasn't meant for broadcast). Alas, I didn't enjoy the job anyway, and it led to a better gig a few miles away (being a news reporter for a radio station just off a major US military base, where the young soldiers frequently got into trouble with the civilians and made for entertaining local news).

  3. I was a late-in-life child, my mother giving birth at age 43. Always assuming I was an only child, I was a bit stunned years later, whilst doing some genealogy, to discover that I would have had a brother, had he not been stillborn (full term). He's buried somewhere in my hometown - I have no idea what cemetary.

  4. I have some mini-collections of obscure things. One is a Spam collection which began with a 7 ounce container sporting an "Intel Inside" sticker .. up to an 11.5 ounce container of what I call "Hindu spam" (several friends have located obscure cans of "Spam-like potted meat" to add to my collection). Another collection is a set of Betty Boop figurines.

  5. My father liked to name our family dogs "Butch". Although we never had more than one dog at a time, we had at least three different dogs, each a different breed (beagle, cocker spaniel, mutt) named Butch. Each of them ran away, until we got a miniature English brindel bull terrier (pre-)named Willie, which broke the Butch cycle. My father also built a fence around the backyard, which Willie eventually learned to climb. At those locations where he'd learned to escape, my father installed fence extensions which canted inward. I suspect it was a challenge between the two of them. Eventually, the dog outlived my father, who died at age 68.
Okay, my job is now done. In theory, I am now to "tag" others to Play Along, but I can't even imagine Who Will Be Next (the bulk of my blogging friends fall into two categories - tell all, or tell none), so I've leave that casting call open.

Saturday, February 3

Three Days of the William

I've seen William-Bob 3 times in 3 days, which is a new record. First, it was lunch with he and John-Bob at Snookie's (they still have ostrich burgers on the menu, although I went for The Wednesday Special which was a turkey and guacamole wrap). I was surprised to find No Waiting, which was certainly due to the cold (2C) which turns Texas Natives into cowering wimps. I've surmised that if you dangle about 20 snowflakes in front of a native, they'll go running home to mommy; it's amazing. I watched as drivers clutched their steering wheels with a Death Grip, just in case they encountered an icy spot on the mostly dry roads.
At lunch, the three of us Solved World Hunger, after which W.B. thoughtfully pointed me to the Mister Deity website, which provided a few moments of frolic (the guy's trying to stoke an audience for a half-hour TV show -- uh, Good Luck With That, except maybe on FOX which provides Wholesome Family Entertainment™ - like The Family Guy; American Dad; etc.)
My second Brush With Greatness was at Thursday night's Unix User Group meeting, in their temporary space at BNI in Plano. Their meeting room holds about 40 people, cozily. The speaker was a local Red Hat "Guru" (I use the term loosely) who wasn't prepared for this crowd, which is known to eat presenters alive and toss their carcasses in the dumpster amidst the pizza box remnants. Why some people feel they can face a technical audience with a sales-marketing pitch is beyond me. I'm not sure I learned much about the upcoming (15 March 2007) RHEL5 release that I didn't already know, but did score a 3-pack of Red Hat Golf Balls, to be used at some future time.
I first attended the DFW UUG's meeting at SGI (Silicon Graphics) near Preston/LBJ. When that location closed, the group moved to a nice space in the "JC Penney basement" (near Coit/LBJ) and were there for many years until being forced to relocate to Nerd Books in Richardson. The owner there decided he didn't want to stay late, so the group is meeting in Plano, but seeking a new location. User groups traditionally get the short end of the meeting space stick, fer sher.
Finally (well, the week's not over yet) I got an IM from William-Bob alerting me to the presence of 00E (a/k/a Bryan) who is visiting - one of his monthly trips from Maryland. Bryan was a -Bob until a few years ago. Yesterday, he bought a couple T-shirts from Poor Richard's after we fed there (me: veggie omelet Mit Grits). Only a few times in my life have I felt amused enough to buy a restaurant's T-shirt. Thinking about my current closet, the only ones promoting such places are in support of Dairy Queen (the institution).

Now, it's time to mosey over to Hollywood Video (across the street from Blockbuster) and rent a copy of Three Days of the Condor to see if William-Bob bears (bares) any similarities.

Aside: I finally Bit The Bullet and switched to the New! Improved! Blogger interface; if you spot anything peculiar, let me know. So far, I'm seeing minimal differences in the editor; it appears to post much faster, but that could be a Saturday morning aberration. I do like the improved Spell Check interface. And (oh yes) the Labels. I must make good use of The Labels.

Friday, February 2

an observation

just when I start to think there may be some hope for the world, I stop to read the Dallas Managed News' Letters To The Editor, or even Fundies Say The Darndest Things.

I then reallize that, indeed, There Is No Hope, put my headphones back on, and continue along my way.