Wednesday, May 30

flipping the dial

I just might give up on the local TV news completely .. every few months I get fed up with one station or another.

This time, I'm fed up with the local CBS affiliate (KTVT-11). Just in the last month or so, they've undergone some peculiar brain surgery and are now offering "breaking news" for every car crash and/or domestic violence situation within 75 miles. I'm guessing some Rocket Genius read that those sensational stories help ratings, and perhaps they do - for those who didn't do well in school (and hence grew up to be Loyal Bushies). Maybe it's Sweeps Week and they'll regain their sanity, but I'm not holding my breath.

I've now done my part by removing CBS-11 from my (TiVo) rotation and am now sampling the competition (ABC, NBC, Fox, and a couple independents). It's surely a lost cause, because none of them provide much in the way of real news - that takes too much work, and must be lost on the Great Huddled Masses.

My least favorite is the way they handle severe weather .. when a storm is within 50 miles of here, they interrupt the entire newscast and "follow the storm" until it's 50 miles out of town. Needed a news fix that night? Sorry .. can't help you.

Monday, May 28

just wait until `09

Barring more of Texas Governor PrettyHair's (in)famous Special Sessions, the Texas Legislature has concluded its work until 13 January 2009. It'll be a few more days until PrettyHair signs some legislation and vetoes others. It's a good great thing that this travesty of governance only happens biennially.
(for those of you who are Texas-edjicated, that's a Big People's Word that means "every two years")
There are several blogs that do a credible job of covering what goes on (far, far better than the local disgrace newspaper - the Dallas Managed News, which is increasingly irrelevant). Here are my Top Four picks (all have RSS feeds, thank-you-very-much):

Burnt Orange Report
Pink Dome
Texas Kaos
Texas Observer

Ones you can safely ignore: Capitol Letters and Dallas Managed News Editorial Board (a defacto mouthpiece for the SMU-inspired Loyal Bushies).

Saturday, May 26

Welcome to Ubuntu 7.04, Feisty Fawn!

I guess I felt as if I'd played enough with Fedora that it was time to broaden my horizons (?) so today I removed that Linux partition and substituted another one: Ubuntu 7.04. For some reason, they feel the need to use the English Alphabet to identify their releases, so F [ Feisty Fawn] is the 6th release .. the next will probably be Goofy Grape or somesuch.

I'm entering this blog post from Ubuntu, since the installation was (mostly) trivial and it comes with the Firefox browser (among lots of other stuff, including the suite). This PC now has Windows XP Home Edition, Solaris 10 11/06 and Ubuntu 7.04. Fortunately, the GRUB that's included correctly configured the boot menu so Instant Gratification is possible.

The first thing Ubuntu (based on Debian) did after installing and booting was (like Fedora) to search for updates - always a nice touch to know that I have the latest code available.

The more I play with Linux and Mac OS X (based on Berkeley), the more I'm convinced that I've paid my last dime to Microsoft. And yes, that's a good thing.

foo@whitebox:~$ uname -a
Linux whitebox 2.6.20-15-generic #2 SMP Sun Apr 15 07:36:31 UTC 2007 i686 GNU/Linux

Friday, May 25

springtime in Dallas

Two more power outages today - both relatively short. The first one was about 1pm and lasted 8 minutes, and the 2nd was about 4pm and lasted about 2 minutes (not even long enough for my one battery-challenged UPS to power down).

Thursday, May 24

power outage #2 .. will that be all today?

I accidentally discovered the ideal way to endure a power outage: leave home.

A line of thunderstorms rolled through Dallas today; this is not unusual this time of the year. So, when the power failed soon after 4pm, I watched and listened as the UPS on my various computers dropped to battery and started beeping. Yeah, yeah .. I've been through this before many times. If I just wait a few minutes, the power will come back on and I won't have to reboot anything. And indeed, that's what happened on all but one PC, which apparently didn't have enough reserve to handle the 7 minute outage. At least the software did the right thing: a graceful shutdown.

A few hours later, the storms had mostly passed when my PDA started chirping, reminding me of a 7pm meeting. Okay, fine .. I'll go. Heck, I'll even get a free carwash since there was a wee bit of rain still falling.

So, when I returned home around 9:15 I was mildly surprised to see that my lights were out, along with my neighbor to the south. The neighbor to the north still had power, so, I moseyed inside to Go Through The Routine of calling TXU Energy Delivery and reporting the outage (it's mostly automated, based on my CallerID). The automated darlin' told me power would be restored no later than 11pm and indeed it came back up at about 9:45pm. Looks like power was out here for about 1:52.

By then, I'd made a few amazing (!) discoveries:

1) my DSL circuit was still up, since I had plugged the DSL modem-router into the UPS in a moment of brilliance -- long ago.

2) Since DSL was still up, I could use my laptop for the duration of its battery life (about 2 hours) and check email, etc. After about 15 minutes of that, the power returned.

3) I switched my home alarm to the wireless version a few months ago, and it appeared to work well .. as a nice test if someone decided to break into my home after cutting the power first. When I entered my dark home, the alarm system went off immediately (which I cancelled in the normal way). That's harder to simulate .. short of flipping my primary circuit breakers which is .. well, annoying.

Tuesday, May 15

Don O'Treply speaks!

Since today was the day that The Morons chose as "boycott gas stations day" I made sure to fill up my tank. It was $3.15 for premium and my credit card deducts 5% for gasoline purchases, so I paid $3/gallon.

Sometime around noon, I heard that Jerry Falwell died. He's the disgusting creature who, along with Ronald Reagan, elevated bigotry and hatred to new levels in American politics.
Bet #1: President Quagmire and his minions are hoping for a good photo op at Jerry's funeral.

Bet #2: James Dobson is already sniffing Falwell's corpse, wanting to know how he can get his hands on Jerry's Followers' money.

Bet #3: Jerry didn't leave a dime in his will to AIDS research.
What would make me happy? To see Fred Phelps picket Falwell's funeral .. that would be poetic justice. Maybe the KKK will fund their bus tickets? (Wednesday update: they're actually going to do this .. woo hoo!)

Finally, I'm thinking of changing my name to Don O'Treply. That would be so kewl to use in email. Hmmm.

Sunday, May 13

< 5% turnout

Saturday was (an) Election Day here, and the turnout was about as bad as I can ever remember. Although there are 1,559,554 people of voting age in Dallas County, only 71,421 votes were cast in the Dallas Mayor's race (11 candidates).

As I predicted a few weeks ago, there will indeed be a runoff in this race, in about 5 weeks. Among friends, I had predicted that Don Hill and Max Wells would survive the runoff - I was wrong on both counts (Hill placed 3rd and Wells 4th). So much for my insights.

Tom Leppert (a loyal Bushie) and Ed Oakley (a gay Dallas City Councilmember) survived the runoff and one of them will be Mayor (a mostly ceremonial position here, due to the power-balancing that's been in place for decades). Leppert got 27% to Oakley's 21%, enough to propel them into the June 16 runoff.

Not that I expect the next five weeks to devolve to name-calling, but I do anticipate some negative phone calls from anonymous callers, as happened in the election just completed. I suspect the whisper campaign (especially against Oakley) is in full swing, as the Soccer Moms (read:demure gay-bashing society women) go into attack mode.

Oakley's certainly a City Hall veteran and is the better candidate, but Leppert (the outsider) has already spent millions to get this far and isn't likely to stop. It'll be interesting to watch, fer sher.

Monday, May 7

excessive buddy lists

Is there a glut in the "social networking" category, or am I imagining things? At last count, the Major Players in this segment are: Myspace; Facebook; BeBo; Virb; Multiply; Hi5; Friendster; Orkut; MyBlogLog.

Saturday, May 5

Live Green in .. Plano??

Given the various demonstrations of solar and wind power at today's Live Green in Plano Expo, the last thing I expected to see was a portable generator, but .. there it was. Inside, the air conditioning was keeping everyone from sweating (the humidity was 90%+) yet the exterior doors were wide open .. I didn't know it was possible to cool the outside of a building.

I only stayed about an hour - being around that many Right Wingers was starting to give me hives. The only place in the MetroPlex that's further Right than Plano is The Park Cities - which surround the ultra-right Southern Methodist University.

Anyway, I did find some entertaining stuff at the Expo:

Aggie (Texas A&M) Horticulture - advised me on a "grass problem" that I have;
Computer Take Back - recycling old PCs (we talked about RoHS a bit);
Collin County Master Gardeners;
Dallas Organic Garden Club;
Eco Dallas - biodegradable forks, spoons, plates;
Foil Barrier Insulation;
Nature Maids (only green products);
Texas Campaign for the Environment.

I spotted a couple guys (part of the Event Staff?) riding on Segways, but couldn't get close enough to take a picture. They were whipping around the outdoor part of the Expo (hybrid cars, wind+solar demonstrations, faux grass) at a high rate of speed.

Thursday, May 3

National Day of Reason

Today, I donated blood and voted (early voting is underway for the 12 May election). Both were for a good cause: the National Day of Reason.

I also accomplished one other notable task: I finally located a pint of Americone Dream (after looking for the past several weeks). Sadly, it is now but a fond memory. Thanks, Ben. Thanks, Jerry. Thanks, Stephen.

Wednesday, May 2

Imus v Limbaugh

One gets fired, while another gets a commendation from The Bush Regime. Wanna guess which?

Rush Limbaugh Plays "Barack the Magic Negro"