Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Holy lutefisk batman, we have broadband
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I suck as a blogger. Sure, the pay is great, but the motivation to actually poke data out there is slim. I guess stuff has to actually happen to you that is of general interest. I will let you know if that happens. Meanwhile I will continue with things that are of a narrow interest to almost no one.
The first item of narrow interest is that my old friends from the mother country (for those of us of European lineage anyway) just popped by for a visit. It isnt every day one gets a representative of the Queen visiting your little metal shack in the woods. In tow were 2 of the cutest little British kids you have ever seen. I resisted the urge to make them quote lines from Oliver Twist or give them a tophat and make them do the Dick Van Dance.
And I just cant help commenting on the newest plan of the local Sheriff Department. (For those of you not keeping score, our sheriff was the one that just happened to have 2 tanks handy for loan when the Feds burned up the Wackos in Waco.) Yes, this should probably be filed as a rant, but the local sheriff is using county tax money to give away a bit of "security software." I use quotes, not becuase it isnt security software but because I dont think folks are getting what they think they are getting.
This thing is a keylogger. There are plenty of keyloggers out there for free... and they are generally thought of as hacker tools.
The idea is that you set traps for your kids and catch them being naughty. While that has its good and bad points, what I forsee is this:
- The kids know more than their point and click parents, resulting in the parents not monitoring what they think they are monitoring.
- A keylogger? are you kidding me? I forsee the parents installing this crap (that I am paying for with my taxes) on a shared family computer, then being shocked, SHOCKED that their own userids, passwords, bank account numbers, PINs, and various other bits of personal information are being stored. Businesses that allow VPN logins from the internet will find that if they are not using one-time passwords, they are getting hacked. This will all be a nasty bloody mess in about 18 months, funded by the taxpayers. Thanks a whole bloody lot.
- And if you want to get truly paranoid, go stand on a grassy knoll and think about this: " Police Chiefs, Sheriffs, District Attorneys and Prosecutors,buy your own customized version of our ComputerCOP Parental Internet Software for distribution to the parents and guardians in your community." Now they may not be doing anything here, but the idea of the cops getting a customized keylogger installed on my desktop smells a little big brotherish. I dont know why they dont just park out front of the houses and sniff the WLAN like everyone else does.
Monday, November 19, 2007
A batch update. This is laziness at its pinnacle. I am refining my laziness to a sharp point: Rush jamming on the jukebox, ass in chair. If I had a ponytail, it would be flopping back and forth. This week was a hodge podge of stuff: old friends from out of town were in. Flyboy Og and Johnbob were here. Johnbob even took me for a spin in his areo plane. See, here is a picture out the rear on takeoff:
and another out the front during takeoff:
Oops. You cant see so good out the front.... Just Johnbobs head. Lucky Johnbob. He just joined my Quitter's club. I think I will make him President, so I dont have to make all those annoying public appearances. He will be my puppet governing body for the club.
I also spent a good portion of time doing cleanup. It seems my parent's vacant lot in town was in violation of city code. (I.e., it was overgrown.) The city has a unique money-making scheme for notifying you of the violation. They stick a tiny 8x10 inch sign in the lot with some text on it like: "if you dont clean this up in 10 days, we will. And oh, we are going to bill you and how." So I spent 2 days dragging pickup load after pickup load out of there. Then I needed to get a tractor over there. Lucky for me, I have one. First I spent a day (and about $100) putting a brake controller in my Nancy truck. There aint no way I am pulling a tractor without brakes. I went and rented a trailer... only to find it had surge brakes, not electric brakes. Ah, well, I have a controller for next time. Let me assure you, they name them surge brakes for a reason: there is a constant surge, like a sine wave, of the trailer coming forward, applying its brakes, rolling backward. Wash, rinse, repeat. Anyway, the lot is finally in compliance with the law.
And I also resurrected FrankenFurniture (©Franken Enterprises). I have created Franken Runtstool. This is a stable, if not ugly, platform for refilling your birdfeeder or birdbath. Long live FrankenFurniture.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
41 days and my Fedora download is complete! That averages out to about 70MB a day (or a night, as the case may be).
Thinking about this... maybe it is time I did buy a DVD reader/writer for my pitiful old computers. My current writer (CD only) seems to be having an ever increasing number of hardware errors. I had to slow it down to 1x and clean the lens to even think about getting a solid write of the F7 boot disk.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I just saw on the news that there was a suspect (complete with artists drawing) in the Madeleine McCann abduction case. Here is the photo of the suspect:
When I saw this, my heart raced. I know I have seen this guy! I just know it. I dug through some old photos... from my youth... and sure enough, I found them: pictures of the bastard:
Here he is appearing to abduct some poor little boy. I hope someone recognizes the boy and can say if he is okay or not.
And here he is getting into his getaway car. This should be an important clue. Police should be on the lookout for a blue convertible cartoon car.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Ground hornets. What a new and strange concept to me. Imagine a big bed of angry fire ants with wings moving at the speed of light. And they have a tiny little target on you. It seems as if a critter (maybe an armadillo) dug up their nest and made them mad as... well hornets I guess. Along comes Spork, Ellie and 2 dogs and apparently we are a brilliant substitute for the cause of the destruction. In the end, both myself and Daisy got hit. I doused them good with a layer of sevin dust, but after half a day that still has had little effect on them. They are still pissed.
On a more embarrassing note, I guess I have to admit it: I have big red balls. And I sometimes pull them out in public. I got caught holding my big red balls today in Wal-Mart. I am so embarrassed.
DVD download status: 52.5% in 23 days. It looks like I will have it by Christmas! The link seems to be dying sometime during the night most nights (or the ppp layer dies, which effectively means the link is dead). This really puts a stick in the spokes.
I finally had to put another $250 into my $25 goat truck. The tires just gave up the ghost. I had 2 flats in one day (not even an hour after I had just aired everything up). A cheap set of tires later and she is back on the road.
I have about 5 possibie job irons in the fire. The prospects vary from "very unlikely" to "theoretically possible." I had one interview about a week ago that was very hopeful. It was the most low-key, comfortable job interview I have ever had... short of the one I had by Peter's pool back around 1985. I had about 30 things in common with the guy interviewing me and we talked as much about tractors as we did the job opportunities. And, if it were to work out, it would be working for a company that had money. This would be a totally new thing for me. No more midnight hardware requisitions.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Miracles do happen. Anyone that doesnt believe that surely has not seen the photos of the firey Pope:
Spooky huh? How in the world could a man that was only photographed 60 million times has a photo that is in the vague shape of something that constantly is changing shapes in a way we cannot mathematically express?
Since miracles always come in threes, I decided to try for my own. Maybe I would get the current Pope. (Hey, with that funny hat, he is begging to look like a flame.) Or maybe the Virgin Mary. Or maybe the face of Jesus! Oh please, let it be something that brings me great peace, joy and wisdom.
Hmmm. All I got was the Michelin Man. The lord works in mysterious ways indeed.
Monday, October 15, 2007
October is Fedora Month. Is that because it won a major award as the greatest operating system ever? No. Is it because that the installed base has finally outshadowed that of Microsoft WIndows? No. Is it because it is the most secure OS in the history of mankind? No. It is because it will take me the entire month to download it. I actually opened a bug report (or a future feature request) to drag Fedora back into the 1990s and abandon the current century. It is currently being delivered only on DVD. This means you need (1) a DVD reader/writer and (2) bandwidth. I dont mean you need one or the other, I mean you need both. Those poor bastards with 10 year old computers and dial up will spend October downloading. Like me. Thank god for bittorrent... It at least allows me to resume my downloads. Dont ask if you can mail me a DVD... I dont have a DVD reader. Plus I am starting to feel like I am actually going to get it eventually.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
So I started wondering: Why are fire ants so damn mad at us? It just seems like there isnt anything I could do that wouldnt just piss them off. They are worse than dealing with some people (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).
So when they are not biting the living crap out of me are they just as full of hate and anger with themselves? Can you imagine what it is like living in anger with a zillion other creatures you HATE, wondering a maze of corridors that all look alike and working with them day after day after day with no end in sight? Its gotta suck.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Ellie Mae says I cannot talk for more than 5 minutes without turning the subject to tractors. This is, in my mind, an improvement, as she used to complain that I couldnt talk more than 5 minutes without saying something completely and utterly inappropriate. At least now, instead of offending people, I am boring them. She might argue that I was boring them before -- in the 4:59 before the inappropriate comment.
Speaking of tractors: I guess this was my mid-life crisis Corvette. It is a lot cheaper -- though a bit slower. But it is a little more immune to turning to tiny bits of fiberglass on the slightest touch by a station wagon.
I had a near tractor emergency over the weekend. I looked down to see gas 1 pouring out of the fuel filter. That cannot be good. It was a good 15 minutes after the parts store closed on Saturday, meaning no tractorification until Monday. How would I survive? After short bursts of panic and swearing, I started to take it apart. I clamped off all the fuel lines to keep air out of them and pulled off the entire fuel filter assembly. Once off, it appared as if the bowl was just cross threaded on the mounting bracket. I dont know if this happened at the factory or if I whacked it with a big stick cleaning up the "big ugly" out back. Anyway, a re-tightening and a bleed of the fuel system and I was back on the road.... errr I mean back off the road.
Footnote for very picky pilots:
1 By "gas" I mean "fuel". I dont mean gasoline. Gasoline in a diesel engine would probably cause it to asplode. I also do not mean the gaseous state of matter -- it was definitely a liquid. I also do not mean "it was really funny" because -- it wasnt. I do not mean to imply that it was trying to poison me either, nor that it was flatulent. It was definitely diesel fuel and that is all I mean to imply.
Monday, September 17, 2007
I sleep like a rock. I always sleep through thunderstorms and have been known to sleep through a pretty good size rockslide. However, nature has trained me to wake at the tiniest little tinkle of a dog tag or click of toenails on the floor. You see: from previous experience, we close the dog door at night. If a dog is wondering around, that is a sure sign that they gotta go. And since we have had pretty good success with keeping the potty outside,
I have really become accustomed to waking at the smallest dog noise.
So last night when I heard tinkle click click I got up. Both dogs were up (which is odd. Usually only Arlo has the tiny bladder.) I took them out and a tiny little voice in my head said "what's that smell?". They tinkled and came back in. Again: "what's that smell?" Had I been a little more focused... or had my glasses on... or turned on the light... I probably would have noticed the acrid smoke that was beginning to fill the room. But the smell of melting plastic and hot hot hot electronics was really starting to wake me up.
Ellie Mae and I started poking around and noticed the "server" was no longer powered on. Ellie says "The TiVo is off too." At this point I began to panic: No TV!
I looked behind the TV and the UPS had every single LED lit on it in a way that just does not occur. I mean: how can you have over voltage and undervoltage and normal voltage and low battery? I felt of it: smokin hot. I unplugged it. Now the funny thing about UPS's is that unplugging them really doesnt help. They sort of have their own source of power. So I tried to turn it off. The power switch is right there by all of the lights that physically cannot all be on at the same time. I like to call that part "the melted brain". It wont power off.
So here I am at 2:15 in the morning out on the driveway in my underwear, disassembling a burning UPS to try to power it down. Nice image, huh? Anyway, here are the early morning photos. I am sure that if I had not awoken Lassie would have started howling that Timmy was in the well. I am sure of it.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
One has a lot of time to think while job hunting via the internet over a dialup. This is mostly due to the time it takes to send (and lose) packets. It also can be due to the crappy old version of firefox included in FC6 Linux crashing about once an hour. (But to upgrade, you would have to download 6 CDs worth of FC7. Why are all the odd numbered Fedora releases "good" and the even numbers "sucky"?).
Some random observations:
- I am looking for a "big city job" in a small town. There just isnt much call for Unix or Perl or firewalling. I should learn to drive a truck (Wally Thorpe school of trucking). There just doesnt seem to be much call for "Linux and Perl hacker: must provide own tractor."
- There are some terrible web sites out there. One I used to track locally, which is a company that solely designs websites, has a flash website that is so mindbogglingly irritating and so bandwidth and cpu intensive, that I cannot imagine someone would go to that site and say "these people should redesign my web site."
- Some local educational institutions have positions that will never be filled. I dont know what Sunguard Banner is exactly. (I looked it up once, but that was a long time ago.) But I do know it must be something that was outdated when the 386 was popular, because this particular institution has had an opening for an expert for well over 2 years. (Possibly longer, but that is how long I have been tracking them.)
- A local manufacturer makes you go through a whole page of "select country; select city; select department; select bosses name; select hair color of secretary" then gives you a list of every job open in the entire United States. At least I filtered out all the European jobs.
- Some idiot in New York has the wrong zip code for his home town... and every time I search for jobs in this area on LinkedIn.com, the one and only job I get is in New York City. (Get a rope.)
- The only job I have seen so far that mentions firewalls sounds like it is "Sox Audit Scapegoat." No thanks.
- I have seen a quite a few "web specialist" jobs that sound like they want a high school kid able to log into windows 98. Average salary: in the 20s.
- To be honest, the best thing I have seen is "dog catcher." Ellie Mae has advised me against this one.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Some people do odd things. I always need some sort of project, even if it is a stupid one. I take projects and sit on them... sometimes for years. The latest was a 1950-something waffle iron that Ellie Mae bought off of Ebay. The problem here is
Lots of modern appliances are crap. They are coated with teflon for non-stick. The 2 problems with teflon are (1) it works just fine under normal conditions, but it turns toxic at high heat and (2) it scratches and doesnt last for more than a couple of years before you have to throw it out. Well I dont know about you, but we actually use our appliances and/or pots and pans to cook with. And cooking normally involves heat. Since heat turns teflon toxic, WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. EVERYBODY PANIC. RUN FOR THE HILLS.
The conspiracy here is that someone (probably the same Russians that are trying to kill us with a weather machine) is trying to kill us with teflon.... or they are just trying to sell us cheap crap that has to be replaced every 2 years. I am not sure which.
So anyway, what is all the hubub about non-stick? Grandma didnt have it and stuff didnt stick in her pan. Oh yeah, she had cast iron or cast aluminum -- which had a nice seasoning on it.
So we set out to find a no-no-stick pan (or a "stick pan"). They are really hard to find (outside of cast iron skillets). So Ellie bought this POS waffle iron from 1950 off of Ebay. It sat in a box for a year and a half, and last week I finally got it in my head to make it work. I got a bunch of high-heat wire and re-wired it (trying to breathe as much asbestos as I could for later lawsuits).
I snapped a nice picture of Ellie Mae making waffles for the first time in 50 years, but she didnt like it. So I will have to show this picture that is NOT of Ellie Mae cooking waffles.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Man, that is one sweet tractor. I dont know how I ever lived without one. I have so far mowed the entire front -- which is probably only 2 acres, but on a steep slope and terribly, awfully overgrown. I also have leveled out a couple of holes and hills with the bucket. I probably would have done more, but several family medical scrapes kept me visiting hospitals for a couple of days. I have easily done more in 3 days with a tractor than I have done the whole time I have been here.
Now, for those that have requested it, the lowdown skinny:
L3400 DT - marketed as "34 HP" but that is marketing talk. That is 34 HP at the wheels. It is about 30 HP at the PTO. Its 4WD with a constant mesh (i.e. non-synchro) standard gearbox. 8 forward gears and 4 reverse gears. I opted for the Ansung (i.e. generic store brand) front end loader, Bush Hog 5 ft cutter and a Bush Hog 5 ft box blade. (I havent experimented with the box blade yet.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Sigh. I am totally against buying new vehicles. I really think it usually makes the most sense to buy used. I also already own too many vehicles. I have 4... for 2 drivers. I have an average aged of 19.5 years for my vehicles.... Until today. I broke down. I now have WAY too many vehicles. And I have dropped my average down to 15.6 years by breaking my own rules and buying new. And the worst part is that my newest and most expensive vehicle has a top speed of 13 miles per hour.
Now, by popular demand, here she is...
Ok, I tried to buy used. I really really did. I went to tractor auctions. I went through want ads. I went through Thrifty Nickels. I called phone numbers posted on bulletin boards in feed stores. I even tried to prey on poor helpless widows. (This was a shame actually, the tractor was a steal, but it was too big for me.) But it turns out that tractors hold their value reallyreally well. In fact, a used Kubota costs damn near what a new one costs, but without all that warranty stuff. And oddly enough, a smaller tractor than this -- the BFLMs -- cost even MORE.
I have pretty much shopped for a year. I asked every geezer with a tractor everything I could think of. I pretty much decided to go with one of the big 3 -- Deere, Kubota or New Holland. There are lots of cheaper tractors out there, but I am pretty gosh darn sure that there will be parts for this still in 30 years. I cant be so sure about the others.
All the geezers on the net pound it into you: do not shop around for price, shop around for a good dealer. Being a cheap ass bastard, that is a hard pill to swallow. But the JD store really didnt want to talk to me if I was buying anything less than 100HP. (For you city folks, that is a really big tractor.) The New Hollands are pricey (as were the Deeres). The Kubota has a pretty solid reputation... so I set off to the 3 closest dealers.
It turns out the closest dealer is an old geezer (ok, he probably isnt that old, but he is crusty) that is just full of opinions. And he is a good 20+% cheaper. And instead of trying to talk me up into more expensive models, he says "bah, that model is junk. I wont sell it. The lower model is much better." All said, I am pretty much sure I got a new tractor for the same price I would have paid for used.
Am I a country boy now?
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
It's hard to believe, but its been a year. I had sort of expected to have gotten a job by now, but then again, I cannot say I have spent much time looking. On the other hand, finances seem to be holding out in spite of the recent stock market pull backs. On the other-other hand, we have been living extremely low. So while we could probably maintain this level indefinitely, I dont think it is really where we want to be forever. It would be nice to eventually have a house... and a house implies more expenses than, for example, a tin shack.
I am also pretty firmly convinced that ten or twenty years in the future I will look at this time of my life as the best time of my life. While the pay is crap, I am working for me. I work when I want, I work for how long I want, and I absolutely enjoy seeing what I have done.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
- If you notice the inside of your engine compartment is black with slime and you add power steering fluid every time you use the vehicle, maybe it is time to replace the pump.
- Pumps come without the reservoir and without the pulley.
- If someone gives you a pulley puller that is generic and not made specifically for a GM car, you will pull the ears clean off the pulley and be left without a pulley.
- If someone suggests that you have to remove a set screw before you pull the pulley off, then you will have to buy a huge ass allen wrench set.
- If you buy a huge ass metric allen wrench set, you will find that the allen screw on the end is actually the one and only SAE fitting on the pump and you will have to buy a huge ass SAE allen wrench set.
- If you buy a huge ass SAE allen wrench set, you will quickly realize that allen screw has absolutely nothing to do with anything and is probably used in the assembly of the pump itself and should be ignored. You just need a GM pulley puller.
- If you remove the reservoir from the pump with a big enough hammer, you will bend it up so much that it is not worth putting back on.
- If you want to buy a pulley and/or a reservoir from a junkyard you will realize they dont sell them. They only sell pumps with the reservoir and pulley on them.
- If you buy a junker pump with a reservoir and pulley on it and a dude that looks like santa claus tells you all GM reserviors are exactly the same, you will find out that they are not. Some of them are missing a bolt hole and some of them have the low pressure return line pointing the wrong direction.
- If you buy 2 feet of 3/8 inch power steering return line from a parts store, you will realize that it takes 2.5 feet of hose once the return line is pointing the wrong direction.
- If you go back to the parts store to get 2.5 feet of return line, you will realize they are out of 3/8 inch hose.
- If you go to another parts store, you will find that they actually sold you 3 feet of 5/16 inch hose and you will have to go back and get 3/8 inch hose.
- It will take you 45 minutes in the hot sun at 105 degrees Fahrenheit to fit the last bolt into the engine block without dropping it.
Bottom line: if you take it to a mechanic, he is likely to charge you for 1.5 to 2 hours of labor. If you do it yourself, be prepared for a 4 day turnaround. Have a spare car ready.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
I think Ellie Mae is trying to kill me. Now, before you tune out, listen to this:
First off, for years she has been making me eat really good food. I am convinced this is purely an attempt to create hardening of the arteries and to weaken my heart.
And yesterday, sensing my heart was in a weakened state, I am pretty sure she put a stinging scorpion in my shorts. This is an obvious attempt to have it sting my naughty bits, cause a heart attack -- and the entire Stump Farm would be hers.
Fortunately for me, it missed my naughty bits and stung my inner thigh. And when I went to her to get a little sympathy, all I got was "You shouldnt leave your clothes on the floor." If that isnt an admission of guilt, I do not know what is.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
I really have not made any updates... mostly because there is nothing really to say. The most newsy thing was my first kidney stone, but in a fit of total misjudgment, I did not think to take a picture of it. It looked like an okra seed that fell out in the deep fryer.
As an aside to those that say "you cannot afford health insurance if you are unemployed" I say "Nay". We have an enormous deductible policy for not-very-much. This turned out to have a huge benefit side effect: Even though I have to pay all the bills myself, they have to pass through the insurance company. They bicker and argue with the hospital and make them knock 1/3 off the price, then say "now you pay it." I really cannot complain.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
We havent honestly done anything when it comes to building a house. We are still living in the shop (aka Metal Shed). We have, however, both gotten a little bit of fever for figuring out what to do. We have (casually) talked to a few builders at the local "Parade of Homes" and I have started keeping my eyes out for local craftsmen that know what they are doing. For example, one of my neighbors seems very skilled at concrete work:
Friday, June 1, 2007
We now have a very large Barred Owl living out back. You can pretty much find it any time day or night. I suspect it has a nest but have not confirmed that. The picture doesnt do it justice as it is always a little too far away to capture and it is always backlit. I have tried to get a video of it in flight, but that is pretty hard too. It looks like the Blair Owl Project when I do it.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
You too!! I'm FAT # 14,783 (Fellowship of American Twinkiephiles). What's your number? I can sponsor you if not a member. We're a large, growing part of the American public, and those damned DOA's (Ding-dongs of America) don't stand a chance anymore (although they're still quite smug and would never admit their days are numbered). I've been so ashamed to admit it, but you have such courage to proclaim your proclivity for pre-packaged preserved perishables and palaver.
Now I see you are drinking the wrong beer with your Twinkies. That appears to be a Miller GD, best I can tell. Such beer is much too sweet and doesn't properly counter-balance the inherent sweetness of the Twinkie. A more bitter brew, such as Guinness is recommended, as well as brews with strong flavoring hops, such as Red Hook ESB and Sam Adams Boston Lager. I personally prefer Guinness. I have emailed Oprah about your faux pas and she informs me she will be airing an episode for proper Twinkie etiquette in the future... stay tuned.
I have a slight problem though, and I'm hoping I can get notes from you... I missed the last week of Oprah and don't know what I should be reading. Can you tell me what is on her approved list? I know you watch Oprah, although you still won't admit it. I believe I've had one too many Twinkies and my BHTA content is a little high, so thinking for myself is such a pain lately.... too much effort, so I need a little help here.
BTW, did you notice the flavor of batch # Z44000372X7A seemed a little 'off'? I'm not sure if you would have noticed, considering your beer choice. A slightly inferior shipment of high fructose corn syrup perhaps? I'm thinking (well, trying, anyway) of shooting off a letter to Q&A at Hostess. I've yet to receive any feedback from my FAT chapter, and, well, getting a timely response from National is probably just not gonna' happen.
There are just so many things to address in this mail that I could NOT ignore it or answer it privately. This brings up some very important issues and there are quite a number of clarifications that are desparately needed.
- "drinking the wrong beer" with my Twinkies. I am guessing your mistake here is in your observational skills, not your taste for fine food/drink combination. This most clearly is NOT Miller Genuine Draft. It is, in fact, Miller High Life. This combination among FATs is called "Miller Low Life" and is quite the delicacy. I do hope you will try it.
- "Spork watches Oprah." As I have addressed earlier, I DO NOT watch Oprah. Unless Dr. Oz is on, then, of course, I would watch. But other than that, I will not watch it. Oh, and the "Oprah's Favorite Things" giveaway show. That one is really fun. But this doesnt mean I watch. Dammit, I forgot: I do sometimes walk through the room when Ellie Mae is watching it. And on occasion I paused. But it was only to pet one of the dogs. I DO NOT watch Oprah.
- "batch # Z44000372X7A". Ah yes, the "poisoned batch" as corporate calls it. Yes, I most certainly tasted the difference. If you remember, a large number of pet foods were recalled a couple of months back due to wheat gluten contaminated with melamine. Well, all that wheat gluten had to go somewhere. And where else could it safely go? Why in Twinkies of course -- where other levels of contaminants and toxins are so high that a little melamine would never be noticed. If you really attended the FAT meetings (and I am doubting you really do) I think you would probably already know this.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I recently received an email from a "friend":
The boob tube has you??? better go get a job or soon it will be ding dongs and Opra!
This is spiteful and wrong and hurtful on so many levels. I cannot begin to tell you how much this has hurt me or just how wrong this statement is. No one speaks of my feelings. No one acknowledges my feelings at all. My feelings are somehow left out of the mix here. I want you to understand I am hurt. First off, as you can see from the photo below, I generally eat TWINKIES, not DING DONGS. I also DO NOT watch Oprah, which is also very evident from the photo below.
Saturday, May 5, 2007
This takes some back story. Dateline Thanksgiving 2006. Like any good story, this one starts with a little alcohol. Our birdfeeders had been robbed the night before (and, quite frankly, every night before). A family of raccoons would empty them every single night. Ellie Mae took a rum punch to the family Thanksgiving dinner. I believe it is called "Red Rooster." Well, she gets to yacking about the racoons and starts yacking to her brother in law. Bro-In-Law is a talented welder, quite artistic and, to be honest, a smartass with a very dry sense of humor. It starts with "you should make me a birdfeeder stand that is racoon proof". Next it goes to "no, it should hold FOUR birdfeeders." And as we were by my sister-in-law's pool, staring at her pool decor of neon palm trees, the Red Rooster says (via Ellie Mae) "You should make us a life sized neon palm tree racoon proof bird feeder holder."
Six months later, an unexpected truck pulls into the yard pulling a trailer. On the trailer is a MASSIVE bird feeder stand. It came in a massive crate. It is at least 15 feet high and has palm fronds cut from junker car sheet metal parts. It is the most massive, sturdiest, heaviest and coolest bird feeder stand I have ever seen in my life. I guarantee this thing weighs near a thousand pounds. (Everyone in Ellie Mae's family builds things well beyond hurricane strength.)
We struggled with it for a couple of hours. After dropping it once and a couple of tacks with the welder, here it stands. It is still braced while the cement cures.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Yes, you can now participate in the exciting program where YOU buy ME a tractor. Act now. This is a limited time offer. Some restrictions may apply. Offer not good in all states.
[Later edit: this link is dead... and it isn't worth reincarnating]
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Spring. It is my favorite time of year. And, even though I am married, I do find that this time of year my mind wonders. I try to remain focused and give Ellie Mae the appropriate amount of attention, but I am a man. This time of year my eyes tend to wonder to... well... you know...
Yes, tractors. Of course, as an unemployed (unemployable?) semi-retiree, it is really hard to justify the cost of a tractor, though I am still trying really hard.
What if... I started mowing pastures and bought it as a business expense?What if... I joined the circus and used it to scoop elephant poo?
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Af er a w ek of se ere pa k t lo s it se ms to fin lly have g ne away. (If you t ink p cket l ss su ks on a r al li k, you s ould see w at it d es to a dial up l nk!)
I have been scratching my head daily, working to figure this out. Is it the ISP? Is it the modem? Has something gone amiss with my house wiring? No, it is a kernel problem.
I recently moved from my old reliable Fedora Core 3 system to Fedora Core 6. They were nice enough to drop support for FC3, so you pretty much have to play along and move forward. Let me assure you: in this day and age an operating system is not made for dial up networking. I have been working for almost a month to get updates in... and I am almost there. (Fortunately, a Linux box is at least dial up friendly enough to put in updates in single packages, unlike that other major OS vendor that wants you to download one huge ass chunk.)
If I were a monster geek, I would even track my update process with some sort of graph or something.... oh wait, I am a monster geek.
Monday, April 2, 2007
You would think, after writing about it in the RANTs section, I would be done. But if you think that, you dont know me very well.
The last 3 mowers I have owned, in summary:
1. Sears Craftsman. This was a pile of dookey. Sears has started really making them cheap. I paid a little over $200, used it 7 years. The wheels were literally falling off. I dont mean "yeah, I mowed until the wheels fell off." I mean, the wheels were ACTUALLY FALLING OFF. I sold it on ebay in that condition for $100. I still feel a tad guilty, but I listed it accurately and they saw it and still took it. Net cost: $100 for 7 years
2. Rusted out used Murray. Ok, if the Craftsman was dookey, this was slimy dookey. It lived previously on the Texas coast and was rusted from the inside out. The rings were most likely broken if not disintegrated. I paid $20 and used it for a year. I mowed saplings that were an inch or more around. I chucked rocks. I hit stumps. The only thing that stopped this junker was that it finally had so little compression that it just couldnt run. Net cost: $20 for 1 year
3. The Honda. A piece of beauty. I remember one time, very vaguely, when it took 2 pulls to start it. But the moon was full, the stars were not in alignment and it had sit for a winter without running. This would surely be the last mower I ever owned. I could picture myself at 82 pushing this from behind a motorized wheelchair. Yes, this is surely the mower of the gods. The problem is they built this too good. I hit stumps with the Murray and it turned the blade into a pretzel. I beat it flat with a hammer. I hit one damn stump with this thing and the blade bends. I hammer. Nothing. I heat it red hot with a torch and hammer. Nothing. The freaking blade is made of hardened steel that was also used for Japanese samarai swords. Now lets do math: something has to give/ Either you make a pretzel out of a blade, you break a clutch or ... OR YOU BEND THE DAMN CRANKSHAFT AND THROW A ROD.
Friday, March 30, 2007
I just sent this letter to Honda corporate. It wont really accomplish anything, other than maybe take my blood pressure down a few points...
Dear Sir or Madam
I purchased a Honda lawnmower (HR215HXA model) almost 4 years ago. The reason I bought a high end lawnmower was based on the immaculate reputation that Honda has for its mowers and small engines. The reputation (and the sales pitch at the store) is that they are bullet proof. I really did not like the “no published price” policy – much like that of buying a new car – but it was worth it to get my hands on a mower that I could possibly be still using 20 years later. I was sold.
All my previous lawnmowers were either bought used for nearly nothing or were purchased from one of the big department stores. There was never anything notable about them – good or bad. They ran. They lasted about 7-8 years and then the chassis would wear out. But when amortized over their lifetime, they cost me $20 a year. Not bad, really.
Now back to the bullet proof Honda. I spent over $1000 for this mower. Wow. I have had cars (plural) that cost me less than that. But it is worth it for that bullet proof mower, right? Well, as mowing goes, you do come upon unexpected objects. It has happened with every mower I have ever owned. You get into tall grass and hit something lurking beneath it. In the case of the Honda, I hit a stump. It started right back up, but there was a noticeable vibration and upon inspection, it appears I bent the blade. This, too, has happened with every mower I have ever owned: you hit a stump or a large rock or some other immutable object and it costs you a mower blade. I didn't think about it...
...Until the next time I ran the mower. The engine ran fine at first. Then it started losing power and RPMs. I put it on the driveway to listen to it. Then I heard the distinctive crack of a rod breaking. I looked at the oil and it was filled to capacity, but smoking hot and burned to a crisp. My conclusion: the crankshaft was bent by hitting a stump, causing it to drag hard on the bearings and snap the connecting rod. That doesn't sound bullet proof to me. Amortizing this lawnmower over its lifetime gives me a $250 yearly cost. For that money, I could have someone mow my yard for me.
I took the mower to my local Honda dealership and they verified my suspicions. They rough guessed that this was about a $500 engine replacement. They also assured me that any lawnmower would do the same thing and they all would require an engine transplant. From my experience, that is just not so. I have always had the chassis fail well before the engine, irregardless of the number of immovable objects I hit with the mower. But, for the sake of argument, lets assume this is true. As a manufacturer of high end lawn equipment, would it not make sense to put a fusible link between the engine and a high carbon steel blade spinning at 2100 RPM? Think of how great a sales pitch that would be. Think of how many $38 fusible links you could sell – each with a $50 installation fee.
This whole story leaves me with a decision and a really bad taste in my mouth:
Buy a Honda replacement engine for $500. Expected lifetime based on experience: 4 years.
Buy 4 cheap lawnmowers for $500. Expected lifetime based on experience: 28 years.
Buy 25 garage sale lawnmowers for $500. Expected lifetime based on experience: 25 years.
I assure you I will not choose option 1. Based on my experience with Honda, I will also not be purchasing any other small engines produced by Honda. Ever.
What really pisses me off here is that I fell for it: the idea that expensive is better. I rant and rant about people that fall for this... And I admit that SOMETIMES you can pay more for tools and get a better return out of them. But not in this case.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
What's that Ellie Mae? Oh, yeah, I guess I should clarify... I havent ranted here in a long time. Ellie is lucky enough to hear me rant each and every day. You should envy her.
A very respected famous man once said "It aint easy being green." Okay, it wasnt a famous man, it was a famous frog, but what Kermit says is very true. It aint easy being green. But there is a huge movement to make everything green. And while that is a fabulous sentiment, they are missing one small thing: facts. It just crawls up my ass for everyone to rant and rave about being green when in reality it is all mostly media hype. I suspect a whole lot of people are making fabulous money off of it. And I suspect a new kid will come along in about a year and the media will turn their head and bow to the new kid, leaving the poor green envionmentalists stuck in the mud. That is just the cycle of "How stuff works."
Now dont get me wrong: I love the planet. I think it is the most beautiful place on.... well earth, I guess. There is more gorgeous nature to be seen than a lifetime allows. And I do think saving it is good. I am all for it.
I am also, as you well know, a cheap ass bastard. And anything that conserves is by its definition a thing that saves me money. (Or at least, that is what they tell us. I am highly suspicious most of the time.) If I can recycle and make end products cheaper for me, I am in! If I can spend a little more money on insulation and save lots of dollars over the next thirty years of electric bills, then sign me up. That's a no brainer. But dont ask me to adopt first generation new products that are more expensive. I will let some other schmuck do that. I dont need to pay a 30% premium for a hybrid car to "save money." I am going to find it hard to swallow that you could save more money on gas to equate to the total operating cost of my $25 ugly pickup truck from 1981. I challenge you to prove its cheaper... especially if you are leasing it or financing it or selling it in under 10 years. And you know there isnt really any technology that is stable and "good" before about the 3rd generation. You are the guinea pig. Have fun.
And there really isnt anything that sticks in my bootie more than Al Gore. Why in the world does this guy think he is a scientist. I am not even debating his science. I have read a handful of "alternative viewpoints" (see note 1) on global warming and I pretty much know I dont have a big enough picture to have any definitive viewpoints. But this guy takes the cake. He can vote on a technology funding bill and suddenly think he invented the internet. I have been around the internet block a while and I am pretty familiar with a bunch of internet pioneer names. I have even met some of them. Never, in years of attending geeky conferences with inventors of protocols and fathers of innovation, never, NEVER has his name been mentioned. He is less important to the internet than the pointy haired boss is to the success of Dilbert.
Given that perspective, it is truly and terribly hard for me to believe this guy knows anything more than where the "next powerpoint slide" button is on his remote control. He is a windbag that loves the sound of his own voice more than life itself. And lets assume for a moment that everything he says is absolutely true. I am admitting here I dont know if it is or not, so lets just give him a benefit of a doubt. Now, explain to me how His Windiness gets a Nobel Peace Prize. Surely, if the science is true, he could qualify for some sort of prize in physics or some branch of science. But Peace? Solve the entire global warming, energy crises puzzle... is the world at peace now? I really dont think so. I think some idiot will still fight some other idiot and they will both bring their friends and there will be a grand old war. But, I am sure they will use biodegradable bombs, so everything will be okay.
And what right does Al Bore have to say he lives a zero carbon foot print? How in hell does he think, as he flies his private jet only to get out and get into his hybrid car,Note 2 that he isnt one of the worlds biggest consumers and thus one of the worlds biggest polluters? This guy lives in a house the size of a WalMart. Tell me, in truck-driver's english, how he really thinks he has a zero carbon footprint. How does his 10,000+ square foot house leave less of a footprint than my little 600 square foot shack?
Oh, I know, you are going to explain to me about carbon credits. Carbon credits may in fact be good for the planet. I like trees. Planting trees is good. But if you bulldoze a forest to have a good place to build your WalMart sized house, then bulldoze another forest to get the lumber to build it, then pump a few hundred thousand barrels of oil to heat and cool it... you are still a positive footprint. I am pretty sure carbon credits are little more than a good tax shelter for the very rich. But they dont just erase your stinky bits off the planet. And the fact that his "credits" are bought through Generation Investment Management is a very very strange thing indeed. Since this is a company he owns and is chairman for, the whole carbon credit thing is really a way he can buy stock in his own company and get a tax write off for it.
I never said he was stupid.... but god he is a waste of space.
And dont get me started about ethanol. Ethanol is one of the poorest energy sources there is.... but it is "green." How is it green? It provides 15% less energy than gasoline. So right off the bat you are at a loss. But, you say, it is made from natural and replinishable products. Bullshit, I say. First off, here in the USA it is made from corn. If you look at ethanol, which is a crappy fuel anyway, there are lots of things to make it from and corn is by far the worst possible choice. Other folks make it from sugar beets and a variety of other things with a little more success, but corn blows. If you planted the entire USA in corn, you would not have enough to power our cars. Why then? Why in the world would we use corn? Well because our fine government has a long history of giving corn subsidies, thats why. Thats why there is corn sweetener in every damn thing in the grocery isle (and probably a good reason why we Americans are so fat!). We make ethanol out of corn, not because scientists have found it works or because the market dictates it. We make it because our taxes pay people to make a crappy fuel out of a product that doesnt even make a good crappy fuel. And while I am ranting... I'd like to point out: the tractors that plow the fields run on diesel. The trucks that ship the corn: diesel, the plants that process it: fossil fuels. In fact, if you compute how much gasoline it takes to produce a crappy fuel from a crappy product that you are subsidizing you will find it takes more fossil fuels to produce this garbage than the damn stuff puts out. All the while, the stuff we used to use corn for.... like food (or food for food) now has to pay more for corn. So not only are we subsidizing this on the front side, but also on the back side every time we buy something from the grocery store... which we have already pointed out is approximately the same size as Al Gore's house. Al Gore should be standing up and screaming how bloody awful this is and how it is destroying our planet.... but he might actually run for office sometime, so that would be dangerous. Maybe he will just invest a little more money in his carbon credit tax shelter and it will cover it. Whew. Catastrophe avoided.
Not to change the subject, but I have heard at least a hundred times over the past year what could I do to save the environment. Without a doubt, the one most powerful thing I can do -- the one thing that will save the planet -- is change my damn light bulbs. In fact, I am told over and over and over that I will reduce the world's fuel consumption by 25% if I just buy new light bulbs. Are you freaking kidding me? You know, they could have probably bullshitted me through that by saying 3% and I would just have bought it hook, line and sinker. But 25%? Come on, pull the other one. Who the hell in the media bought stock in Sylvania?
Now first off, I have a forward thinking conspiracy theory that all these compact florescent bulbs, each with a miniscule drop of mercury in them, will be the enviro-nightmare in the year 2045. They will persecute any of us that still have them and a big truck will come to your house to gather them up. Men will get out in tyvek suits and complicated breathing aparatuses (aparati?) just to take these things and destroy them properly. But lets ignore that for now (and I will tell you I told you so in 2045.)
But enough conspiracy... Lets actually talk about lights. Lights just are not a huge bit of electric consumption. It really is all that other crap that spins the meter around. A 75w light bulb will cost you about $7 to run for an entire month. By that I mean 24x7x30. I could turn on every light in my house for the entire month and it would cost me about $140. Sure, it is cheaper to run a CF, but it isnt going to reduce your cost by 25%. An equivalent bulb to a 75w is a 25w, so it is 2/3 cheaper... but unless you live in one of those This Old House houses that had a "lighting designer" you probably don't have enough bulbs in the house and dont run them long enough to really matter.
What does matter is all those pesky things like heating and air conditioning and cooking and continuous running refrigerators and freezers and computers and tivos and water heaters.
Oh, and just by the way... My average electric bill is close to $200. We actually did switch out all our bulbs to CF bulbs over time. My average electric bill is still about $200. The only savings here is that the damn things last a long long time and you dont have to stand on a wiggly chair and try to change them. So maybe, just maybe, you will save on medical bills by not falling off the chair.
Note 1: For an interesting read on other possibilities of global warming, read Micheal Crichton's novel State of Fear. This uses the exact same data, complete with all sorts of charts and graphs, to say the whole global warming thing is somewhere between "bad science using inconclusive and incomplete data" to "a terrorist conspiracy". Somehow, I suspect it falls somewhere in the middle of those 2 choices.
Note 2: A correction here is in order. I used the "drive a hybrid to the airport to get aboard a private plane" as poetic license. The idea here is that don't tell me you are saving 2 gallons of gas then burn 40,000lbs of JetA. The real truth of the matter comes from a friend that actually does work piloting charter jets. The real truth here is that Mr. Gore does NOT drive a hybrid to the airport. He drives a caravan of big black SUVs. I never meant to imply he actually was doing something to conserve fuel. I promise.
Friday, March 23, 2007
I think my pet turtle is sick. He isn't nearly as playful as he used to be. I threw the ball for him to fetch back in January and he has not fetched it yet. (He normally takes a month or so to fetch it, so I just recently started worrying.)
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
It was in the late 1800's that Czechoslovakian Bohemian immigrant plumbers invented the "plumbing knot." The theory was that the water gets dizzy and is then unable to leak. The truth was that this was just a way to pad the bill for labor and materials, enabling them to purchase more sausage. Czech plumbers, we salute you...
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
This mindset could not be further from the mark if they tried. There is NOTHING inheritly good (or evil for that matter) in democracy. Democracy is not an ideal or even a philosophical entity. Democracy is really almost mathematics applied to government. Count votes, make laws. It says nothing for quality of a government. It says nothing for if it is or is not friendly to the US. Why in the world would you fight and die for someone else to have democracy?
How well has democracy worked in Lebanon, where Hamas is now the legal ruling party? How well has democracy worked in Iraq? How well has democracy worked in Venezuela, electing Hugo Chavez? How well did democracy work when pre-war Germans elected Adolf Hitler (with the complete knowledge of what his plans were)?
What really is needed is individual rights, not democracy. The concept of individual rights is an ideal. It is a philosophical principle. Individual rights, properly implemented, would make the government slave to the individual. It would structure laws such that the rights of the individual would not be superseded by the rights of the majority.
The individual rights concept is exactly what the US government was based on, though assuredly flawed in its implementation. (How in the world could you make an individual supreme and then go and remove rights for a particular sex or for various racial classes? But that is another problem and another rant...) In short, if you can accept individual rights, we can make pretty much ANY controversial right wing or left wing argument go away. Completely. And then maybe Congress can get back to important things like having hearings on professional baseball players.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
We have the prettiest little plant growing wild here. I just love it. I want to transplant it everywhere! Dang, my arm itches. Does anyone want some rooted plants? Dang, I mean it REALLY itches. If you want a sprig of it, let me know and I will have Ellie Mae root one. DOGNABBIT IT ITCHES.
Just as an FYI. Chicks really think it is sexy if you put socks on your arms to keep the goop off of your clothes. It TOTALLY turns them on. Guys: try it. I assure you she will think it is HOT.
Monday, March 5, 2007
I have long known printer ink was a scam, maybe some of my dear friends that work for HP could explain the ink usage above. In particular:
1) Why does pure black printing use magenta?
2) How can one page take yellow from 80% to 13%. (Note that the page in question was not a photo of big bird waving a Boa Vista flag while eating a banana just after being diagnosed with hepatitis.)
3) How does ink suddenly go up by 3%?
4) Why don't you document the MIB for ink? Why must I poke at the printer for a long time, then wait for the ink to drop off of 100% in order to determine what color it is?
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
For some odd reason, I showed up at my family's christmas celebration with a bit of stubble. My niece said "are you trying to grow a beard?" The truth was, I was just too lazy to have shaved in a few days. Anyway, she told me to grow a beard and who argues with their niece? (Of course, by 3 days later, she forgot she had said it.) This brings me to my new web feature:
Thursday, January 25, 2007
I have made a positive impact on East Texas. My life here is near complete. After talking with at least 20 different liquor stores, asking if they could order McClellands Scotch -- getting that same happy, non-responsive stare from the counter staff that my dachshund gives me -- operation cheap scotch is now "code green."