Sunday, June 29, 2008

Publishers addendum

Please note the following publisher's addendum to Ford Pick-ups & Expedition, 1997 thru 1999, Haynes Repair Manual.

Section 1-25 Cooling system servicing

Warning 1 reads:
Do not allow antifreeze to come in contact with your skin

and should instead read:
We have never changed any fluids of any kind ourselves
Paragraph 4 states:
Move a large container under the radiator for drain to catch the coolant. Attach a 3/8-inch diameter hose to the drain fitting to direct the coolant into the container...

and should instead read:
Do not bother attaching a hose to the drain fitting as only 5 percent of the fluid will travel out the petcock valve stem. The remaining 95% of the coolant will erupt from the base of the petcock valve.
Figure 25.5 caption reads:
The block drain plugs are generally located about one to two inches above the oil pan - there is one on each side of the engine block.

and should instead read:
The block drain plugs are generally located about one to two inches above the oil pan - there is one on each side of the engine block. If your vehicle is equipped with an "electric starter" do not bother looking for the drain plug on the passenger's side.
Also please note that in the specifications we noted the capacity of the cooling system with rear heater to be 26 quarts. We didn't really measure it. It might actually be 26 quarts, but we recommend you do not buy the required 13 quarts (3.25 gallons) to make a 50% mixture. You will be lucky if you can drain 12 quarts total out of the system.

One additional note: If you plan on replacing the radiator hoses, all connections will be a standard hose clamp.... except one. That one will be the lowermost clamp buried deepest within the engine compartment. Instead of a basic hose clamp, it will be a new fangled clamp that is normally removed by simply rotating it 45 degrees in either direction. Of course, this works only with a brand new hose. A hose under normal wear will have to be cut off. The internal hardened metal clamping mechanism will then have to be bent back in four places and manhandled with a large set of pliers to get it to release from the soft plastic radiator tank. This superior clamping mechanism is only used on one location instead of all 6 locations for reasons we are not able to release to the general public because they are of a sensitive nature for national security.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How to build a high-rise fire ant condominium

First take one stump. If you do not have a stump, we have many fine stumps to choose from here at the Stump Farm. It is best to choose a fresh stump. Hardwood is suggested. This is a fine oak specimen.

Add one chainsaw and you get a nice carved out stump.

Now take the excess sawdust and wooden bits and pieces and scatter them all around the stump. This will attract termites, drawing them into the stump.

Finally, tell your spouse you have built them a planter and tell her to plant flowers in them. The fire ants will move into the new fresh soil, attracted by the tasty termites.
See also: How to build a stump planter

High rise fire ant condos are a TradeMarked product of SporkCo Industries and The Stump Farm

How to build a stump planter

First take one stump. If you do not have a stump, we have many fine stumps to choose from here at the Stump Farm. It is best to choose a fresh stump. Hardwood is suggested. This is a fine oak specimen.

Add one chainsaw and you get a beautiful decorative stump planter.
See also: How to build a high rise fire ant condominium

Stump Planters are a TradeMarked product of SporkCo Industries and The Stump Farm

Saturday, June 21, 2008

surprised by arbitrary assertions

I hadn't intended for this to be Kooks Korner for Religious Fanatics.... but I just saw an interview with Stephen Colbert and N.T.Wright. The subject was Wright's new book. If you think religion is arbitrary and illogical... you aint seen nothing yet. And this guy is sort of... mainstream.

Wright basically proposes (at least on Colbert's show) there is an "after-after life". In other words, after all of you go to heaven (I suspect I wont make the cut) you will then have an afterlife after that. As if it were not arbitrary enough to propose one, why not two? This is sort of the reverse Occam's Razor. I am going to call it Occam's Beard. Hell, I might even think we should have an after-after-after life. And I think we should also start worshiping god's creator while we are at it.

My favorite quote of this guy was this:
The great thing about Anglicans is that we have no theology of our own. If something is true the Anglicans believe it.... You chaps [Catholics] have stuff you look up in these big books all the time.

I suspect the concept of "Anglican truth" is not based on evidence of the senses here -- especially judging by the context of the statement. Let me translate what he said into plain English:
We don't need the proof of data written in a book by flat-earth superstitious folk in the dark ages then madly edited by the Catholic church in a quest for squashing knowledge and maintaining power. That's way too structured for us. We'll just obtain magical truth and believe it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tivo causes me to forfeit my immortal soul

Damn Tivo. You think you love the thing... and then it does this to you. There was a news story on ABC's 20/20 on June 6. And I didnt watch it until last night. Apparently it gave me a week's worth of warning: The world ended on June 12. And I missed it. If you haven't figured it out, I dont get out much. So apparently a whole week has gone by with me being the sole inhabitant of the planet. I didnt even know I was lonely until last night. Now I am damned to live my eternal life here lonely on earth. Anybody else out there? Or is it just me here alone?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It is always someone else's fault

This story really disturbs me. And for a number of reasons. (I'll wait. Go ahead and read it.) Okay, now that you read it, I'll pretend you havent and tell you the whole story all over again...

Alright, so a dumb 13 year old kid (and I say dumb only because all 13 year old kids are dumb... and that includes me at that age) gets her feelings hurt and commits suicide. Thats terrible. I understand. And her parents feel awful. I get it. And she commits suicide (supposedly) because someone said "this world would be better off without you." And the person that said that -- as inappropriate as it was -- was an idiotic 49 year old neighbor. Insensitive? Yes. Illegal? Prosecutable? I dont think so.

Now, is it just me, or is there something odd here? Or rather... many somethings odd.

First off, I have to take the "sticks and stones" defense here. Just because someone insults you does NOT mean they are directly responsible for your death. Oh I understand that if you are black and the Klan marches on your front yard saying "I am going to kill you" that you feel threatened. But this was not a threat. It was an insult. Shouldn't someone have taught the child the "sticks and stones" principle?

Where is the parental responsibility here? If this child was so awkward and fragile, why in the world would she ever be left alone anywhere? In particular on the interwebs -- where the world is still pretty much the wild wild west. If you really think MySpace is your babysitter... you have some painful life lessons to learn.

And notice what she is being prosecuted for here. They could not prosecute her in her own state as ... well any idiot can tell you there was not a crime committed. So the Federal government is going to prosecute her for computer fraud. Really? I really think this law was not intended to be a "play well with the other kids" law. I think it was actually meant to protect people from... well fraud. If I call you an idiot, I did not commit fraud. If I call you an idiot using a pseudonym, I still did not commit fraud.

In reality she is being charged for not reading that irritating box of stuff that every web site presents you. You know the one. Its a tiny 2 inch high box with a scrollbar and 18 pages of legalese in it. Tell me honestly: who reads that stuff? I guarantee you no one does. Read one some day.... or better yet get a lawyer to read one. They can be really scary. Facebook has (or did have) language saying they had the right to investigate anything about you forever and ever -- even if you canceled your account. Microsoft used to (maybe still does) put in language saying it was okay for them to install spyware and poke all over your computer. Worse yet, I can assure you that in a given day you probably have committed several prosecutable offenses just by surfing the web or posting an opinion. I have even seen a photographer's web site that had a pop-up that said something to the effect that storing the photos on this site was illegal. This was a pop-up that came up after my browser had already read the photo and put it in cache. Oops. Busted.

So in essence, a grieving parent is looking for someone to blame. Sometimes bad things just happen. Sometimes parents don't do enough to keep them from happening.

Dont say anything to anyone. You might be responsible for their actions later.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Message from the Board of Directors

We here at Spork Industries (a SporkCo Company) have made a decision to do away with the traditional "Rant" section on the left sidebar. Rest assured, you will still get your dosage of crazy lunatic rantings. The format of blogspot seems to lend itself better to actually including the rants inline as opposed to off to the side. This makes the RSSification (or is that Areessessification?) of the rants possible, as well as searching.

And with the new introduction of SporkTags® you can still find all the rantiness of both the minirant and the full fledged "Spit flying from my lower lip rant."

As for the existing rants, they will carefully be folded back into the existing Sporkives on the day of their rantastic introduction using time travel. We here at Spork Industries take the space time continuum very seriously and would not normally time travel for just any old reason. Time travel is serious business and has serious risks. But we, the members of the Board, feel the benefits in this situation outweigh the risks.

What you dont believe in still matters

I am amazed at how often people are unable to look at the big picture. Its not that I care that their world revolves around them -- that is how it should be. If you are not the most important person in your world then there definitely is a problem. The issue I have is the inability to see that other folks' worlds revolve around them as well. And as long as you are not aiming guns at each other (or passing laws doing so) then it just doesnt matter what the other folk do.

I just dont see why folks get so worked up over gay marriage. (Well, I guess I know why, but lets assume I dont at this juncture.) For the purpose of this rant, and for full disclosure, I should mention I am a heterosexual white male. Not because it should matter, because it shouldnt.

Why are people gay

Before we delve into the whole marriage thing, I think its appropriate to discuss why people are gay in the first place. I must state up front: I am not a psychologist or a biologist or really anyone qualified to speak here. In fact, I'd like to list some reasons may or may not even agree with here, just to have a list:

  1. They were born that way. We all have bits and pieces of both sexes floating around in us. We all have both male and female hormones. We all have them in differing levels. Is it remotely possible that some folk just have "too much" or "too little" and waver in the middle of the two distinct sexes?
  2. They have evolved. This is just an offshoot of the one before -- and mentioning the "E" word might just make some of the ultra religious prickle, but I think its a viable possibility still. The world is getting more and more populated. Evolution might be saying "slow down" and making a bunch of folks that are biologically not likely to make babies. Of course, science has really mucked this up if this is the case since it is now possible to make the little critters in test tubes and implant them. (This is also a self-refuting bit. If you can't reproduce, you can't pass on the "can't reproduce" gene.)
  3. They just want to shock people. You know, the Madonna Syndrome. (Not the "holy mother" -- the "trashy singer"). Some folks just thrive on attention, be it negative or positive and shock makes a good attention grabber.
  4. A psychological problem. I know psychology has removed homosexuality as a disorder long ago. But I think it is still possible a trauma could cause an extreme reaction. For example, if her father beat her as a child, a girl might become predisposed to having mistrust for men and would gravitate toward women.
  5. A developmental issue. What if something were missing at a critical stage of development? Improper nutrition, improper role models... hell anything. And they just "missed" some "normal" part of life.
  6. Satan. Okay, I can't disagree with this one enough... but I know there are some that think it, so I list it.
  7. An injury or brain malfunction. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Just that some part of the brain might be injured or malfunctioning or malformed and the "normal" signals are not getting across.
  8. insert reason here. Yes, the catch all. There have to be a thousand other theories.
  9. My theory. I really think we've been going about it all wrong. I think the idea of finding "the reason" is totally the wrong approach. Lets face it. There are millions of gay folk on this planet (except for in Iran, which we know has none.) Isnt it remotely possible that with a million people there might be more than one reason? Isnt it remotely possible that there might be people with multiple reasons? And some with one? And some with reasons we havent even thought of? Its obvious that the reason people are "straight" is "to reproduce" -- but some of us dont reproduce. Are we childless bastards just as "broken"? Maybe. Would you deny us rights for the inability or undesirability of children?

Why people hate them there homos

You will hear multiple reasons for hating gays:

  1. they are out to convert us - And to this I have to think... really? Have you really ever talked to a gay person that wanted to recruit you for their team? And if so, who the hell cares? You can just add this person to the list of "people that are attracted to me that I do not find attractive." You can say no if the ugly outcast girl that never bathes asks you to the prom. Now, I might add it isnt nice to make fun of her -- but its okay to say no.
  2. they are child molesters - I think you should do a little more research. I dont think you will find statistics back you up on that.
  3. ewww. Ick. - Yeah, okay, I see your argument. For any person there are things others do that are icky. So what? I love oysters. I like them raw and slimy. I like the way they almost slither down my throat (followed by a nice cold beer.) I totally understand that lots of people think this is gross. So is that any reason to hate me? Or deny me individual rights? Personally, I dont think so.
  4. they are rampant disease spreaders - You'd better think before you go here. This is a bad road to go down. Especially if you add in that the disease is a punishment from god. If you believe this, and I know some do, you have to take both sides of it. If, for example, AIDS is punishment from god on those awful homos.... then you must also accept that the lowest percentage of AIDS (and other sexually transmitted diseases) is among lesbians. Does that make them god's chosen?
  5. god told me to hate them - Honestly, I think 90% of it boils down to this. The bible clearly calls homosexuality "an abomination" (Lev 18:22-23) and clearly condemns you to hell for being gay (Jude 7, 1 Cor 6:9 and I am sure countless more). But it also clearly commands you to kill homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13) -- and are you really willing to do that? It also has some other wacky ideas like avoiding menstruating women (Leviticus 15:19-30), killing non-believers (2 Chronicles 15:12-13) and oh-my-god avoiding pork. And as I recall, it also talked about forgiveness. I believe it even goes so far as saying "judge not lest you be judged" (which is a particularly offensive phrase, but it works here. More appropriate would be "judge fairly and prepare to be judged by others.") The whole idea of hating gays because you are religious does nothing more than show how irrational your religious beliefs really are.

Mistakes people make in demanding gay rights

I dont mean to pick on the gays here. Because really the issue here applies to every single group of people that wants "X rights." It probably dates back to the origins of our country. The problem was a bunch of really smart guys finally understood individual rights. They finally understood the rights to own ones own life. They understood property rights. And then the smart guys totally misapplied them. If they had only gotten that "individual" meant everybody, we wouldnt have had a problem. But they limited it to white men.

And then instead of correcting the original issue, we have since been trying ever since to apply various rights to various groups -- making the same mistake over and over again. Now first off, groups do not have rights. Individuals have rights. And if you give one group a set of rights while denying another group -- well you missed the concept. And rights dont conflict. If one person's right to health care takes away another person's property to pay for it... well you missed the concept again.

So gays really should not be arguing for gay rights. I know, its what's important to them. I get it. They should be arguing for unified application of individual rights.

It all boils down to marriage

I think the central issue here is gay marriage. Its what sets both sides off. We can argue about "shall not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference" all day long... but discrimination that is based on emotions is stupid. And no matter how hard you try, outlawing stupidity doesnt work. (On the opposite side, discrimination based on rational thought is actually a good thing -- like picking food that is nutritious over food that is full of E. Coli.)

This leads me to ask: what is marriage? I mean, what is it really?

The religious zealots among us will say it is a contract before god where one man and one woman unite in holy matrimony.

But it isnt. First off, this is a secular country. We do not make our laws based on a contract before god. If you, as an individual, would like to enter such a contract with god or the flying spaghetti monster -- you just go right ahead.

Let me let you in on a little clue here: marriage is a business contract. I know, very non-romantic. But that is what it is. Your "wedding ceremony" may be religious. But the "marriage" is atheist. It is without religion. In a "traditional marriage" there is a legally binding contract where two people have a business partnership. There can be contracts on what assets go in and what assets come out. But that is all it is. More often than not, this is a business partnership where the partners are sleeping together -- and you might argue that this is bad for a business partnership. But that is a different topic entirely.

To deny someone the right to enter a business contract based on sexual preference or race or religion -- well that's just a stupid idea. This is the government. They don't get to choose what's a good idea or a bad idea or moral or immoral. In this case, they are nothing more than a big filing cabinet for contracts.

Oh, I know the next argument: It's a slippery slope... next you will have marriages with more than 2 people or people marrying animals. (And yes, I have actually heard this as an "argument".) As for multiple people in a marriage... so what? There can be multiple people in a business contract. There can be corporations of thousands of people. This is not necessarily how I would choose to live, but why does the government get to choose? And as for marriage to Fido, that's just stupid. There is no precedent for contracts with non-humans.

Now if your church does not want to host these weddings -- okay. I know some churches will deny you to marry if the music is not approved. They make all sorts of odd decisions... and its their church. So be it. But that doesnt mean they get to meddle in contract law.

Not in front of the children

And the other issue: Kids. We just are not comfortable with gay people raising children. I say bollocks. Oh, I understand your argument. It is long and convoluted and references all those reasons why you hate gays. But it boils down to this: "I think the gay lifestyle is damaging to children." Really? Other than asking for proof of that statement, I think more importantly you should think long and hard about what is behind it. Are you really willing to say the government has the right to choose what is or isnt an appropriate environment to raise children? Oh, don't give me the crap about child abuse or molestation. Yes, we can agree on some extreme cases that the government may step in.

I have read more than one (in other words many) article depicting how various religions may be damaging to a developing child. Do you really want the government taking away the children raised in a religious environment? Or denying a religious couple (one man and one woman, of course) the right to have children? Is the threat of eternal damnation in fire a "terroristic threat"? Maybe homeland security should get involved.

Get serious. Just because you dont believe the same way doesnt mean its against the law. You can disagree. You can use rational argument (well... some of you can.) But you cant make it illegal. Period.


The important thing I want to get across here... more even that gays should be allowed to marry, get sick of each other, fight, scream, divorce and take them for all they have... The main thing you should get here is that you dont even have to agree with the "gay lifestyle" or "gay agenda". Who cares. Damn them to hell. But it still matters. A whole lot even. The important thing here is individual rights. And as a subtitle: what are you willing for the government to decide? The question isnt about the "sanctity of (straight) marriage". The question is whether the government gets to have a vote at all.

There are loads of "traditional couples" that should not marry. I have been one of those (as has my ex-wife). Should the government have used its wisdom and stepped in and stopped it? Do not try to apply laws to others that you do not want generalized and applied to yourself. You may not believe in it... but it still matters.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I guess it's that time of the year again

I was dutifully doing the dishes (since I am chief dishwasher and groundskeeper) and thought "what is that odd looking sludge under the dish drainer?"

And then I took a little closer look.

My old nemesis!

Well, at least he was dead. Just to be sure, I grabbed him with a hemostat.

...and he got really really mad. I guess he was not quite dead.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

King Corn

So last night we watched King Corn. (Which you would already know if you looked at my FlickView found amongst my Fun Stuff. I recommend it. Don't expect Hollywood movie production values. This is a documentary. Wait, wait, come back. I know, I cannot promise any chase scenes or explosions or even full frontal nudity. I am really sorry about that. But on the plus side, there will be no ridiculous romance that could never happen or beautiful scenes of Africa that were substituted for plot.

The gist of this movie is that they analyze the food they are eating and find that it is primarily made up of almost 100% corn. All of it. It is amazing to see the farmers blatantly saying the only reason they plant it is because of the subsidy. (And they show that the crop is grown at a total loss and the only profit is from the subsidy.)

They also show where the corn goes, which is primarily into the feed industry -- where the government subsidizes substandard beef. (Cattle ranchers are horrified by it, but that is how they make their money so they accept it.) The corn diet will kill the cow in about 4 months, so they slaughter it right before that happens. The result is a fatty substandard hunk of meat and effectively a subsidy of the fast food industry.

It also goes to corn sweetener. Odd how the whole corn sweetener industry popped up right about the same time the USA became so overweight, diabetic and hypertensive. All pretty much done to us by our own government. And I am pretty sure they will solve the problem by providing us universal health care instead of just fixing the original problem.

The farmers grin and say "I wouldnt eat that stuff". They have thousands of acres of corn and yet do not grow anything they can actually eat. Nice.

It, of course, also goes to ethanol (which they mention), but this was made ever so slightly before the current boom in ethanol production.

For me the kicker is talking to Earl Butz (father of the current subsidy system). He marvels how they used to pay farmers to NOT grow things (thus making sure all farming was done at a loss) and decided that was wrong. Instead they should be paid to overproduce (thus making sure all farming was done at a loss). There -- problem solved.

Friday, June 13, 2008

new feature: visitor map

So often I seem to start with "I am a geek". And today is no exception. I started thinking about the statistics I was keeping for this little spot of sunshine. They are free... but they are selling better statistics. So I thought... I could either buy better statistics... or just pull them off their server on a regular basis and generate my own.

So I decided to try to better the visitor map that generates... and I made my own. For future geeky peeks at it, I have included it under the Misc Fun Stuff link in the sidebar.

My scripts regenerate the map once a day, but I will probably be very sporadic about uploading it. I guess I could automate the upload too, but its nearing midnight and I am just not feeling it right now. Right now its huge and needs to be tweaked a little smaller in size, but did I mention it was nearing midnight?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I dont know shit

(Title copyright Ellie Mae).

So here's the poop: I found this little pile right outside my back door.

Some creature has crept in and crapped. It stole in and stool. Now, galdungit, I would expect this a little ways off, but this was inside the little dog yard -- right next to our garden. I think I can eliminate the dogs here. This defecatious roll is a wild critter. I am suspecting opossum, but not entirely sure. Other likely suspects are armadillo or raccoon... though it doesnt really look like coon poo.

Whatever little creature did it, it climbed a 4foot chain link fence to do so. (Not that I am not appreciative of the gift!). The garden is currently about 75% wrapped in electric fencing to keep the little bastards out, but this leads me to believe I need to go the full monty. (I avoided the gates just to not have the hassle of the electric fence disconnects... but I am now reconsidering this.)

On other news, the splits are all done. I am not entirely sure how folks get away with charging $120-$150 a cord for wood. If I compute it correctly, that comes out to about $5/hour for the labor, plus the 100 years it takes to grow the tree.

Big pile:

... except its hard to see the even bigger pile behind it due to the shading: