Saturday, June 30

the c word (lower case "c")

I went to my ophthalmologist yesterday to find out why my right eye's malfunctioning, and got the news that I have a cataract (early stage). Well, isn't that special? He gave me some drops (Travatan Z) to take each night and we'll decide what to do about this in 30 days. Until then, life's blurry on my right side.

PS: I'm posting this today using a Nokia 770, partly to see how practical it is (early verdict : a regular keyboard is much faster but the autocomplete feature is nice, and it's hard to beat the portability). I've used it to fetch email and do some basic web surfing, but had trouble with the (Pidgin) IM client.

Friday, June 29

The Buzz is Gone

I have two landlines coming into my home. One of those has developed an annoying buzz/humm in the past few weeks. Given the (near record) rainfall in June, I attributed the degradation to the weather. Also, there was No Buzz on the other line, so .. I had a workaround. Turns out the weather wasn't the problem.

Wednesday: finally tiring of The Buzz, I call TPC [The Phone Company - a/k/a AT&T] and they say they can have someone out tomorrow. Hmmm. "Okay," (I humor them) "that's great." They ask if I'd like a call from TPCT [TPC Technician] when he'll be aiming in my direction. "That would be spiffy," I reply.

Wednesday, early evening: automated call arrives, says TPCT will be onsite tomorrow between 8am-8pm (0800-2000 for you military types). Do they really expect me to hang around the house all day? That fish won't hunt. I have places to go, people to see. If they happen to arrive while I'm here, that'll be downright dandy. Otherwise, they can return.

Thursday afternoon: I return home from a Day Out There. No door hanger saying "sorry we missed you" and no phone call. Hmmm. So maybe 8a-8p really means "after 5pm"?

5:30pm: TPCT calls: "I'm en route, will arrive in 10 minutes." "Spiffy," I say.

5:50pm: DSL goes out (a 5x daily occurrence, so not remarkable). I wait a few minutes and it's still down. I wonder if TPCT arrived and is Working My Issue. I look in my driveway and see The Truck, and (in my backyard) a Giant Ladder perched against TTP [The Telephone Pole], and a small human at the top. I suspect it's TPCT, who arrived and silently went to work.

6:28pm: phone rings. Automated call says "sorry our technician didn't arrive today. We'll try again tomorrow." I am Most Puzzled.

6:30pm: knock, knock. "Who's there?" TPC Technician, to advise Your Problem Is Now Solved. "Huh?" says I. Turns out there was a short in the overhead line, from TTP to TGB [The Great Beyond]. Having replaced said cable, my world is now whole again. I check the dialtone (portable phone having been in my hand when TPCT knocked) and verify that The Buzz is Gone. I am now giddy.

Being the curious type, I ask "Might this also be why my DSL (which rides atop my Buzzing Line) burps N times per day?" "You betcha!" says TPCT (sounding Eager). I mention the automated call at 6:28 and TPCT says "they do that when we didn't meet The Window (recall: 8a-8p)" and he laughs it off. I make mental note that TPC doesn't know that 8a<6:30pm<8pm.

Hmmm. We'll see if my DSL now stays up all day. I'm not holding my breath.

Tomorrow: my visit to the eye doc on Friday (and -- the news wasn't grand).

Thursday, June 28

passport renewal, step 2

Today, this arrived in the snail mail:

What I found most amusing about this are the ten (10) questions on that web page. I wonder if you have to "get them all perfect" before it tells you the status of your application? What if I don't remember the exact date I mailed the application? (or does it want the date I signed the application?)

One of the questions they did not ask:
"Are you going to blog about our incompetence?"
It would seem to make more sense to assign a tracking number to my request, and snailmail THAT to me along with a password, so I could "fetch the status" via a secure web browser. But no ... we're dealing with The Bush Regime, where common sense is not part of the equation.

For those of you keeping score, this is Day 16 since I mailed my renewal application.

Tuesday, June 26

yet another power event

Another thunderstorm moves through town and another power outage - this one, for about 40 minutes. It's been an unusually wet spring here with many more storms and resultant outages than normal.

So, I'm happy to have five (5) Uninterruptable Power System (battery backup) on my various PCs (and the TiVo - which is a Linux box, after all). The problem is keeping the batteries happy. One of my PCs did its graceful shutdown within about 90 seconds of the outage, so it's time to replace that battery. Several of the others went 30 minutes or more.

Sunday, June 24

Grading The Boss

Just when I think The Bush Regime can't sink any lower, comes news that (de-facto President) Dick Cheney has announced that He is immune from laws passed to harness the Executive Branch. And guess who gets to decide if that's correct? His hand-picked poolboy, Alberto Gonzalez.

Anyone want to hazard a guess how "Berto" will rule against his Boss?

I'm starting to wonder if there's any way to force a 2007 version of The Nuremberg Trials for these cretins. I'll bring the popcorn to the finale.

Meanwhile, President Quagmire's approval rating has dropped to that of Richard Nixon. I can't believe he still has ANY base, outside the Park Cities (where Radical Right Wing University .. er .. SMU .. is about to erect a monument to His greatness in the form of the Bush Pressidenshul Liberry). Those insular idiots worship His every breath (and still proudly displays those [W] stickers on their luxury SUVs). Unbelievable. They deserve a Nuremberg finale, too.

Thursday, June 21

passport renewal

I noticed that my passport is due to expire in September, and after hearing the Horror Stories of lengthy delays, I decided to apply for the renewal now - in June - rather than wait until the last minute like I usually do.

I downloaded the renewal form from their website (it creates a PDF with your info, so all you have to do is sign it and attach a recent photo). The local drugstore advertised -- on their marquee -- that they'd do passport photos for $8 (actually $7.99 but I still think that's nonsense pricing) I did that last week, then mailed it.

$67.00 renewal fee
  5.38 postage (certified, return receipt)
  8.65 photo + tax
$81.03 total

12 June - mailed to Philadelphia Passport Processing
21 June - return receipt postcard arrived

Wow .. nine (9) days to even get the receipt postcard! Normally, I'd expect that (roundtrip to Philadelphia) in 5 days - maybe even 4. I'll update this blog entry again when the renewed passport arrives - probably in September.

Sunday, June 17

homophobes? in TEXAS?!?

The Dallas Managed News headline reads "Leppert elected Dallas mayor" and the details are written between the lines. Several of my (Old White Christian Republican) neighbors voted for Leppert because the alternative was to vote for Ed Oakley, and they feared that Dallas would then be known as That Gay City. Unbelievable.

Certainly, Oakley had at least seven strikes against him:

1. He's gay.
2. He's a Democrat in a Red State.
3. He's gay.
4. He's spent 20 years in Dallas politics (excess experience).
5. He's gay.
6. His opponent's White Christian Republican phone banks were working overtime to instill fear - that Dallas was about to become the San Francisco of Texas.
7. He's gay.

Leppert clearly bought the race; I suspect he's simply seeking a legacy longer than that offered by his prior employer (a giant construction company). He has zero political experience and is a Loyal Bushie, so I'm expecting Absolutely Nothing from his term in office, other than to see what monument or building or bridge he wants named after himself. Political outsiders seldom (if ever) last more than one term, and start showing their frustration around Month 18 (set your clocks for January 2009 to see if I was right).

As I've babbled earlier, the Dallas Mayor's position is more ceremonial than anything else - it's really City Council Seat #15. I suspect Uncle Tom (Leppert) will find that out soon enough.

worth noting: one of the Dallas Managed News columnists whines that they didn't submarine Oakley's chances (of course they did). Amusingly enough, the columnist doing all the whining (Jacquielynn Floyd) has zero credibility of her own. Witness the laughable "baby photo" that has accompanied her column for years -- it was taken during the Carter administration, so say my sources.

Wednesday, June 13

Back Yard Burgers

I think I found a fast food burger that Jill Wazabob would enjoy: Back Yard Burgers. There's only one of these QSRs in Dallas, but it's not that far from me, so I moseyed down to fetch one from their drive-thru window. In a word: yummm. Rumor has it they're about to go private (like Burger King did). No clue how that will impact their expansion.

Trivia: an old-timer told me that there was once a White Castle location (maybe more than one) in Dallas. But, it didn't do well and has been Long Gone. I suspect that's why the White Castle Wannabe (Krystal) hasn't expanded beyound its outpost in Carrollton, Texas. "Dainty burgers" just don't sell well here, except in the frozen food section of the grocery stores (microwaved Sliders just ain't the same).

Unrelated: The Political and Selective Use of Data: Cherry-Picking Climate Information in the White House is an interesting read. Naturally, it Cannot Possibly Be True because Everybody Knows™ that no one in The Bush Regime would ever Distort Information, especially about Global Warming (or what the Radical Right Republic Party prefers to call "Climate Change").

Tuesday, June 5

spam fighters

For the past two months or so, I've taken a far more aggressive approach to all the spam (email) I get, which accounts for about 95% of what lands in my inbox. I started marking and reporting all the spams (using SpamCop) and this has resulted in a huge reduction in what wasn't already being filtered out before.

One thing that's become apparent is that the VAST majority of this stuff comes from eastern Europe. The bulk originates from servers in Italy; Poland; Turkey; Germany; Argentina and (lately) China.

Memo to spammers: your messages are not getting through. You are wasting your money.

Sunday, June 3

another winning speech by Bill Moyers

I finally got around to watching the (2 hour, including analysis) speech that Bill Moyers gave to the National Conference on Media Reform in Memphis in January 2007. This link gives you access to the transcript as well as the audio (MP3) and video (stream) .. well worth watching, if you have the cycles.

Tonight, I waddled down to the Granada theatre (south of Mockingbird) to watch PetFlix 2007 (the SPCA's 3rd annual) .. one of the workers told me that 500+ people attended, which ain't half bad. Most of the films (related to cats and dogs, natch) were entertaining, although a few missed the mark. I never was much of a film critic, so I'll wait for the inevitable "official review" in one of the newspapers (probably the Dallas Observer) later this week.

Earlier in the day (1pm?) Judy Bob came by with another can for my Award Winning Spam Collection (actually - canned meat collection would be a better descriptor, since only about 10 cans are made by Hormel - the other are .. uh .. Spam Wannabees). I simply must start documenting these .. perhaps they need a Blog Of Their Own? After making the delivery, we moseyed up to Richardson to sample the Burger Street Café, which is an upscale (?) version of the Burger Street drive-thru, which is sorta-kinda like the In-N-Out Burger chain out west (minus both the Perky Worker Bees and - thankfully - the religious overtones).

here we go again ...

IIRC, we got 21 days of rain in May. Now, in June, that wet trend continues. Already this morning, the UPS caught a power surge as Yet Another Thunderstorm moves through the area.

Pandora waddled down the hall to inquire if she should be concerned, and I told her "probably not". Beta's crashed under my feet, as usual. I wonder if I should give her the new password, so she can blog again? Hmmm.

Saturday, June 2

Yet Another Milestone

.. and then there was the article in today's newspaper about the happy people of Crawford, Texas .. now relieved that the war protestors (led by Cindy Sheehan) will no longer be coming to Crawford, interrupting their formerly-placid lives. Yeah, remembering those 3,480 dead soldiers is such an annoyance.

It seems like only yesterday, when the number of dead US soldiers from President Quagmire's Campaign For Glory passed 3,000. Now, we're only a day or two (at the current "run rate") of reaching the milestone of 3,500 dead.

A few weeks ago, I added the [US Fatalities] widgit to my laptop (running OS X) which keeps it in my mind ...

unrelated: another power failure @ 00:34 last night (shortly after midnight, for you time-challenged readers). this one lasted all of 90 seconds.