Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dust... No, not the kind from the Golden Compass

...though if you've never read Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, I can recommend it. Don't bother with the movie. Oh, and be warned: this is possibly the most sacrilegious blasphemy ever written. And I say that as a compliment, not as a criticism.
In a semi-conscious effort, I am going to attempt something a little less ranty and a little more geeky. Anyway, my client computer (does it really count as a server/client setup when you have one server and one client?) went into alarm yesterday with an overheat. Let's look at the graph, shall we?
I am amazed at what a small amount of dust (and I've seen large amounts! This was small in comparison) will do. 1 minute of air blast at 30 psi dropped 20 degrees Centigrade. That's some serious heat.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Investment advice...

Scott Burns is an investment advice columnist that used to work for the Dallas Morning News. his advice is generally level headed and on track. He continually out performs the high priced big firms using his do-nothing couch potato methods. There, that's the background. His article today is spot on. Go in read it. I'll wait.
My sentiments exactly. The idea that Washington is going to solve our problems scares the bejeezus out of me. Is there nothing they can't screw up? Show me a shining example where they have managed money in a fashion that actually worked.
The one thing missing from the article is the role of the consumer in all this... and where did they learn their stupidity. Again, from the government. Where else do you learn that debt can only be solved through getting a loan?
Though, to be honest, I cannot suggest something that will fix this mess. The true Capitalist in me says don't do the bailout. Bad businesses deserve to fail. But since the government has had its fingers in the fail from the beginning, it's hard to just sit back and watch it fall. It's the economic equivalent of the war in Iraq. Sure, they got us into the mess through lies and deceit. But once they muck it all up, it's not like you can just drop it and walk away.
It looks like the bailout is a done deal, which I pretty much thought it would be. To me the more important question here is not the obvious "how do we pay for it?" It's now what are you going to do to keep this from occurring again? And the only answer I can stomach is: Get your grubby hands out of it.
[edit yet again]
I could continue to rant how the government caused all this but the armchair quarterbacks have raised another thing that has crawled right up my ass and died: The fact that the whole economy revolves around credit. (Whether that is, in fact, a fact is left to your own judgment). Let's assume that is true. I cannot tell you just how wrong this is. Yes, credit is needed. Yes it is a tool. But it is a tool in the same way dynamite and a Colt 45 are tools. They are tools that are to be used cautiously and sparingly. It won't happen, but it would be nice if there was a lesson in this where we (as a country) learned that assets are more important than liabilities. Credit should take a back seat to savings.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ike photoshoot

First things first: bugger the power. My freaking tractor is trapped under a 12 inch monster tree top. (I know it doesn't look that big in the photo. It is.)

Alternate viewpoint... There are a couple of small sheet metal dings on the hood, but for what this looked like, it really aint too bad.
Oh yeah... This is our power pole and meter. The wire sort of snakes across the ground under that same tractor tree. As a side note, one benefit of those newfangled electric meters that they can read remotely is that they can tell if your power is on. So they can close the ticket. If you have live power that is laying on the ground, they will continue to close the ticket because they can see the meter. Now that's progress.Hillbilly Electric company to the rescue! Climb up tree #1 and tie off rope. Run rope through eyes of power pole. Toss rope over branch of tree #2. Tie rope to tractor. Raise pole.
No good fix is complete without duct tape. Yes, I do see that crease in the conduit. Yes, I am curious as to the conditions of the wire beneath it.. Don't worry, I wrapped a shower curtain around the duct tape, so I am sure it is water tight.
Thar she is all a braced with them thar 2 b fors. Its hard to make out the rope still strung at the top, but its still there, holding us up.
And here is the company photo: Hillbilly Pire and Lite (HPL)

...on the economy and presidential candidates

I get sick of hearing about which presidential candidate will do what for taxes and the economy. Let me point out a couple of things:
  • Presidents do not make laws. In particular, they have no ability to assess taxes. That is congress.
  • Yes, the current president is an idiot. But if you want to blame the whole housing crisis collapse on a president (and ignore the first point) then you have to put it on Clinton. Yes, he (congress) did a lot to influence a balanced budget. I commend him on that. But he (or, like I said, the congress that was in session during his presidency) bolstered the Community Reinvestment Act1 -- you know -- the legislation that mandated the housing crisis.
  • The economy will turn up. It always does. Whomever gets elected next will get credit. And the credit is not theirs to own. I say this not knowing who is going to win. But one of them will say in 4 years "are you better off today than you were in the housing/banking crisis of 2008?" and invariably people will say "yes." It ain't his fault that it gets better. I am warning you now.

1Interestingly enough, I heard reference to this on mainstream media for the absolute first time yesterday -- though I have been talking/reading about it for months. Of course, the interviewer ignored it, so it was only a tiny blurb.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

crap -- they are not the same

I checked it out in my dictionary:

- (noun) - a: the business of insuring persons or property b: coverage by contract whereby one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee another against loss by a specified contingency or peril
Pon·zi scheme - (noun) - an investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks

Oh my god. They are different! I didn't know either, so don't be embarrassed. But as for AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- these are not insurance companies. Usually, instead of a bailout for a Ponzi scheme, you prosecute -- I wasn't sure if you knew that either.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ike Strikes. Yikes.

Power restored. Sort of... but I am getting ahead of myself.

I haven't been able to post. Or read mail. Or pretty much do anything. Firstly due to some personal issues. I'm not entirely sure if I want to get into that in a public forum just yet though. But they certainly have kept me busy.

Secondly, my power was gone. I don't mean my power was out. We had power. It was gone. The power was dutifully delivered to us and then was leaking out on the ground. A big ass tree top was blown down on top of our power meter and on top of my beloved Kubota.

I dug out the Kubota with a chainsaw on Saturday night while the storm was still wrapping up. No damage. Not even a scratch. Once I got the thousand pound thingy off of it, it was fine.

Yesterday, I picked up the freezer with the tractor bucket, placed it in the back of Sally (the goat truck) and drove it over to my sister's house where it has been dutifully humming along in her garage.

Today, after waiting patiently for the power company for 2 days, I decided to take it into my own hands. I carefully cut the remainder of the tree top off the downed line, then hitched a rope to the top of my power pole. Using another tree branch as a pulley I tied the whole shooting match off to the tractor and pulled it upright. This was literally a rope, duct tape and 2x4 fix. (No bailing wire used. Sorry.)

I know this is useless without photos, but as we have been gypsies for the last 3 nights, the camera and various sundry items are strewn about town like so much hurricane debris. As we gather it back up, I will try to post pictures. Really, the power pole is a total Bubba work of art -- a regular Leonardo DiCaprio.

I still will totally have to redo the power feed to the Stuga. But we have power for now (until the next rain storm, where I am relatively sure it will blow out.)

[Later edit: photos here]

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

cheap ass minirant

I started this once and scrapped it. But there is some fundamental concept here I would like to point out, so I am going to try again...

I met someone who by all measure of the word would be considered "rich" -- lots of high dollar property, lots of collectible cars, owns his own successful business, etc. And he was shocked -- SHOCKED -- that I was living relatively comfortably without having a job for the past 2 years. I get this reaction a whole lot.

And what this implies to me is that, by my definition, this guy isn't rich. Yes, he pays more in property taxes than my investments earn. (Okay maybe I exaggerate, but not by much.) But I would guess he is mostly at a break even. I would bet by his reaction that he spends just about as much as he earns. And if he were to lose his income, his entire life would fall apart in a matter of months.

Mind you, this is all pure conjecture on my part. But my point here is that we tend to have ideas of what is rich and poor based on a person's lifestyle. And while there are super rich that could maintain a Robin Leach lifestyle forever, they are few and far between. Many (if not most) of those you see living that lifestyle are net-zero. Move down a step to upper middle class and you have the same syndrome: living above or just at one's means.

And any of these people could be rich (by my definition). They could live comfortably for a long long time with little or no earned income if they made just a little effort -- or be seriously wealthy with their existing earned income.

And it will be these same people that clamor for government to save us from the housing crisis (seriously poor people are most likely renting or are already living in government housing). Or provide them with universal health care (seriously poor people already have free health care.) The Really Bad Thing™ thing here is that, while morally reprehensible, you can use the middle and upper class as a tax base to force them to provide safety net services for the low end. But you cannot do that to provide safety net services for the middle and upper class if they are already at break even. (They wouldn't need the services if they weren't). Adding these services means adding taxes. Which means they will need more services.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

being obsessive

Okay, I am a little worried.

A little back story here... So these 2 bastard stray dogs show up a week ago. And I, being stupid, have really fallen for them.

And just a little after falling for them, Ellie and I both realize: we really cannot keep them. While we have plenty of room for them outside, we have no fence beyond a 30x40 pen. And inside, well we are 2 humans, 3 cats and 2 small dogs living in 600 square feet. Its cozy. And while they spent the greater part of the first 4 days hanging very close to us, they have now started exploring the rural neighborhood. And pissing off the neighbors. Oh, and did I mention they are heart worm positive? Freaking great. So they have either been "on the lam" for months (according to the vet) or they have been living with someone that has not bothered to give them basic minimal care.

And tonight, for the first time in a week, they missed a meal. So now I sit and worry about dogs that aren't even mine and I cannot even keep.

If they miss our morning walk (and breakfast) tomorrow, I am going to be seriously worried.

[EDIT 9:30am 9/8] ...and this makes me officially worried. Having never missed a meal in a week, they now have missed 2. Harold would forgo a meal anytime -- especially if he could get affection instead of food. Maude on the other hand does not appear to be a girl that misses meals -- both in her stature and her actions.

And they missed the walk this morning. This was a concept that appeared so new and cool to them that I cannot imagine they would miss it. It was clearly the most fun they had all day.

[EDIT 5:00pm 9/8] An odd ending to the story. So when the dogs left here Sunday, they went home. They live about a mile from here. Probably less as the crow flies (or the dog roams). The dogs real owner called our vet (seeing as the dogs now had tags) and through the vet got in touch with us. He reimbursed us for the veterinary bills and was quite shocked to learn that his dogs had heart worms.

If you've tuned out, this is where you should start listening. These dogs were treated monthly with Revolution (which we also use). The real owner was told (after the fact) that the dogs must stay dry for 24 hours after application. Well, the dogs live near a 10 acre lake and swim every day rain or shine. Be warned: revolution washes off.

So Harold (Sam) and Maude (Daisy) are home.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Oh bother

Can anyone recommend a good (preferably inexpensive) Ford OBD2 code reader? It's probably an O2 sensor since I have never ever replaced one. But its probably best to actually look and see.

On the plus side, note that my odometer is still working just fine after my fix I talked about over six months ago.

...and yes, before you tell me to reset it via battery disconnect -- that's already been done. The light is off, but from the rough idle, I can guarantee it will be back on soon.

[Later edit]: Exploring the various forums shows that an extremely common problem is a vacuum leak in the PCV hose routing. On examining this, it appears one of the multitude of little rubber elbows is snotty and collapsed, while the others are old and cracked. Forum complaints are that this type of vacuum leak throws all sorts of conflicting, confusing error codes. So even if this is an O2 sensor, I'm going to replace the snotty bits before I even begin.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

named... not just for DNS

[Edit: most recent followup]

No, Named is also for Name Dog. Yes, fans, that's right. Our first (and hopefully only) dog naming contest is now in session.

As you may have found out from Ellie Mae, we have been blessed by the gods of the unwanted. Living in the country makes you a target for doggie dumpers. And having a soft spot for dogs doesn't help. We had 2 wander up over the weekend... and they are still here. Guess what? I think we are theirs.

We are trying to think of names.... One is a female golden retriever. Not ancient, but no spring chicken either.The other looks either like a dog instance of a clown... or maybe a doggie instance of Tommy Chong. We even considered calling him Steve (from Steve Buscemi's character in Fargo, who was described as "Funny looking. You know, in a general sort of way.") He might be a sheared old English sheepdog. Or just a funny looking stoner dog.
So, we need names. 2 of them. Gotta match these faces. Ready, set, go.

So far we have:


Current Frontrunner



unix theme

ellis (ls)


Andy Griffith

Goober or Barney








Fawlty Towers




Bailey/Jack/Glen (Morangie)



John (Deere)

Allis (Chalmers)







Gilligans Island





(Poison) Ivy










Lucy Show







Chuck (UP! Chuck)

Syndrome (Down, Syndrome)






PoliticalBill/JohnSarah/Hillary (I can hear the jokes now)

tip of the fedora

Well, as much as I have loved Fedora/Redhat linux I have finally moved on. I have used it since about Redhat 5... and Fedora 9 is approximately equal to Redhat 18 if you consider the name change at RH9->FC1. I still have a Fedora desktop, but the server has finally moved to Ubuntu. The sole reason here (other than Ubuntu is pretty slickly packaged) is the maintenance schedules. Fedora gives you 6 months... and my "shove every conceivable app on one server" is a royal pain to keep up to date if you have to re-roll it every 6 months. It generally takes 2-3 days to even get the thing sort of right.

Ubuntu server promises a 5 year maintenance... which really makes it a good candidate for commercial use. Are you listening Fedora? I was on board when fedora legacy continued maintenance. But the sirens are calling me.

I am also amazed at just how different the 2 flavors are. Everything is chopped up differently and packaged just a little bit differently.