Thursday, August 30, 2007

Much Needed Blogroll Update

So for the first time in about a year and a half I went through my blogroll. I deleted or updated about a dozen, and added about 20, to indicate the blogs I read at least once a week.

I might as well tell people what my blogrolling policy is.

1. I only blogroll blogs I read at least once per week; and generally only those I read three times a week or more. I don't do link exchanges etc... and don't expect them in return.

2. Write good stuff well; don't just be a linker. There's only one heavy linker in my blogroll, and he's a personal friend, who when he does write something original, is quite funny and interesting.

3. Have a visual format and layout that I can stand to look at. There are a few blogs that I read on an occasional basis that I like the content on but can't read unless I disable their page styles (thank you Firefox)

4. If you are dealing with facts, be true, factual, relevant, and mature. I love the humor of Iowahawk and FrankJ, but I don't read them on a regular basis, because I don't like their non-funny stuff. SteveH on the other hand I read a couple times a day, because although everything he writes is funny, it's also useful and relevant (though not always tasteful).

5. The second most important factor (the first is to write good stuff, well); post at least three times a week, preferably every day. In almost three years, there have been less than 8 weeks where I have had less than 5 days of posts in a week. I almost always have a new post Monday through Thursday; but only do "the good stuff" on Fridays and weekends (unless I get a wild hair or inspiration of some kind). Even if I don't have much, I try and post something, just to let people know I'm still here and thinking about writing.

If you think I should be linking you, and I'm not (for example if you know from your logs, or from frequent comments that I read your blog); or if you think I would LIKE your blog and would then link you, let me know here in comments.

If you thought you WERE on my blogroll and aren't there anymore, it's probably an accident; let me know.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The NEW Rules of Dating

Today both Kim and the Mrs expounded upon the issues that come up in the dating world today, from men who don't understand that no means "no" and women who allow this kind of behavior to continue.

So in response to Kim's list of rules for men to follow, I will list my own set of rules for BOTH sexes to follow. These rules are gleaned from years of experience in dating and the continual bitching of my single friends.

1. Talk about where you stand.
Everyone has different beliefs regarding what is appropriate. If on the first date you decide you want to continue, these things need to be discussed before things progress past casual, non-commital dating.
  • What you want out of a relationship right now. This includes sex, companionship, marriage prospects, everything. If you want something major, and the other person just wants a fuck buddy, you need to work that out.
  • Sex: is it a possibility? Will it be a possibility sometime down the road? If it is, you need to discuss levels of protection, expectations of fidelity, etc.
  • Religious beliefs, or lack thereof: this is really important if you have an eye towards the long-term. If you're only looking for "the One" this is of vital importance.
  • Where you want to go in life: once again, if you're looking at the long term you need to know the basics.
  • Politics: I know that politics are a traditionally taboo subject, but the fact is, these days the political divide is so acrimonious, that you don't want to invest yourself into a potential relationship with someone whose politics make your skin crawl.
  • Passions: What are the passions in your life, and can your prospective partner stand them; and stand the time you give to them.
  • Splitting of the check (or not). In one relationship I had we agreed to a simple system since we both made the same amount of money: whoever proposed the date, paid for it. This way we could choose things we could afford, and nobody had any nasty surprises when the check arrived.
As a sidenote, all of these things help you get to know the other person, so should come up anyway somewhere along the line. If you can't come to an understanding or a basic knowledge of what the other person wants, assume nothing until they TELL you what they want. On the flip side, make sure the other person knows where you stand on things that affect them.

2. Comfort level wins
If one of you is ready for sex, or ready for physical contact, and the other is NOT, the wishes of the person who is NOT ready must be respected. If you can't handle waiting, or if the other person can't and tries to pressure you, it's OVER. Any name-calling, guilting, or other juvenile behavior on their part just means you leave faster.

3. On protection: the most paranoid person gets to decide
If sex becomes a possibility, protection must be discussed. If one person is happy with just birth control, and the other wants birth control and a barrier, the latter person's wishes stand. Once again, if you can't handle that or the other person can't handle that, it's game over. Ditto on the juvenile behavior.

4. There are no expectations of physical contact or sex; ask permission
Just because you paid for dinner, or you know that your prospect "put out" for someone else doesn't mean that you get to expect ANYTHING. If you want to kiss on the first date, ask. If you want sex, ask. Don't assume that you're entitled to anything.

5. Just because you've gone somewhere before, doesn't mean you have to again
But do be considerate and let the other person know that although you've kissed/petted/had sex you aren't comfortable with it now. If they can't respect that, kick them to the curb.

6. Keep your perspective
Infatuation can be fun, but it can also be all-consuming. Remember that no matter how good a new relationship feels you have friends and family who need your attention as well. If your relationship ends, you will need to have other people in your life. If your prospect has a problem with you spending reasonable amounts of time with friends and family, RUN.

7. If your prospect wants you to meet their friends or family, indulge them.
You can learn a lot about a person from their friends and family. Conversely, once your prospect's friends and family meet you and you get their approval, the likelihood of your relationship lasting increases tenfold. If they don't like you, don't expect the relationship to last.

(Note: if upon meeting your new girlfriend's friends you find that the males tend to be protective of her AND well-armed, this is your warning that any ungentlemanly behavior will not be tolerated. Behave accordingly)

8. The ex is the ex for a reason
If you are meeting the ex, chances are they managed to stay friends. This is most likely because:
  • They were friends to begin with
  • They broke up in an amiable manner
  • They followed the aforementioned rules and therefore can still stand each other as human beings
Do not assume that because the ex is around, he "wants her back" or "they're still seeing each other". If you think such things your relationship will go downhill fast. Instead, think of it as reassurance that your prospect is a nice, considerate person who, when things don't work out, handles it like an adult.

9. If you've decided to break up, there is only one way to do it
Face to face. No phone calls, no standing them up, no emails, and NO HAVING THE POLICE DO IT FOR YOU. And do it as soon as you decide you need to so you don't string them along. Arrange to do the deed face to face, and hold your ground. If they're being an ass on an issue, leave them right there.

There are only three exceptions to the face-to-face rule: long-distance dating, people you're breaking up with because you can't ever reach them or because they have a tendency to stand you up, and those you have determined to be dangerous. But still, for god's sake, find some way to tell them.

10. There is only one way to handle being dumped
Accept it, and move on. Stay friends if you want to, or don't. Either way, it's obviously not going to work out and you should get on with your life.

Under no circumstances should you:
  • Beg, plead, guilt, strip, or resort to any other kind of demeaning behavior.
  • If there is another person involved, make reference to "fighting" for them, or anything resembling "let the best man win". That's incredibly insulting to both you and them.
  • Stalk. This is especially important if the friends were the well-armed men described above.

If both parties can follow these rules (summed up nicely as ACT LIKE ADULTS) dating doesn't have to be a scary, landmine ridden undertaking filled with misunderstandings and misuse of police resources. If you can't find another adult to date, keep looking. There are more of us out there than you think.

Mel

Who wouldn't want one of these?




From Popular Science:

The Ultimate All-in-One Beer Brewing Machine
Behold PopSci staff photographer/mad scientist John Carnett's homemade microbrewery: an elaborate device that boils, ferments, chills, and pours home-crafted ale

What if there were a machine—a beautiful shiny machine—and all it did, with almost no work from you, was make you beer? Such was the dream that drove PopSci staff photographer John Carnett to spend weeks building what he simply refers to as the Device: a stainless-steel two-cart brewing system that starts by boiling extract—concentrated wort, or pre-fermented beer—and ends with a chilled pint.

In most home-brewing setups, each step in the process requires moving the beer to a new container by hand, which increases the chance of contamination and requires you to lift stuff. Carnett's machine keeps everything in the carts' closed system and requires only that he swap a few CO2-pressurized hoses to move the liquid along. It also employs a complex temperature-control system to regulate the fermentation (often done in a corner of a basement) to within a degree or two. A couple weeks later, the same system chills the beer on its way from keg to tap, so the Device is always ready with a cold pour and consumes no power when it's not serving or fermenting.

The next step: adding a third cart to make wort from raw grain instead of extract. But, says Carnett, there's a lot of "testing" of this design to be done first.




Actually, these things are nothing new; people have been making brewing sculptures since the 80s. This one is the first I've seen with built in kegging, cooling, and taps though. Very very cool.

"Or I swear I'm gonna go broke"

Man, Cheaper than Dirt and Midway USA need to stop sending me flyers and catalogs; or I swear I'm gonna go broke.

I got both yesterday, and I'm looking through and tallying up in my head all the sutff "I've been meaning to pick up" or "I've been wanting for a while".

I stopped counting at a grand ...and just skipped over the ammo section entirely.

Fracking lawyer bills $%^@^%!$%!... biting into important stuff, like my gun money ;-)

Where's Ronnie?

Not that I think hes' got a shot, but he IS a declared candidate, he should be up there.

Imagine how much more damage they could do with less "recess"

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Binge Drinking Culture" or Selfish Irresponsible Idiot?

Well, if you're in the UK, the answer is clear: it's all the fault of "the culture"

... personally I'm thinking it's more like Darwin in action

emphasis mine:
Two weeks after a liver swop, girl of 19 was back on the drink
-- By JAMES MILLS - Daily Mail




After eight days in a coma and a life- saving liver transplant, Laura Bates was warned that continuing to drink alcohol could kill her.

But the 19-year-old is apparently so caught up in the binge-drinking culture that she has refused to heed medical advice.

Claiming that she would feel 'left out' if she gave up alcohol, the student had her first alcopop a mere two weeks after being released from hospital.

She admits to going out drinking with friends at least twice a week - despite the fact that alcohol abuse was at least partly to blame for her liver failing just six months ago.

Her case was held up last night as an example of how deeply entrenched the drinking culture has become, particularly among young women.

Miss Bates, whose parents Caroline, a 51-year-old housewife, and Derrick, a 48-year-old customer service worker, have begged her to stop drinking, said: "My friends told me not to but I wanted to feel normal again so I bought a bottle of WKD" (a vodka-based alcopop).

"At first I did feel bad about the family who donated their relative's liver to me - I felt it was disrespectful to the person who died. But people buy me drinks and I feel left out if I don't have one. I've decided it's okay to have a few - I don't think I'm doing anything wrong."


Ahh yes, the fact that a person is so irresponsible that they would start drinking 8-10 alcoholic beverages a night, two or three (or more) nights a week at 14, leading to liver failure in a 110lb or so young woman at age 19, and an emergency liver transplant... yes, that's the fault of the "binge drinking culture".

It couldn't possibly be a result of her poor decision making, now could it?

After all, she had a hard life didn't she... well, no not really; she's middle class, with two apparently decent parents.

Well she's poorly educated right? Nope, at least no more poorly than all the other kids in her council school.

Bad media messages? Are you joking? Watch a night of British prime time TV, and you might come back with the impression that drinking an alcopop is worse than smoking crack while having sex with satan.

Then there's the fact that she felt justified in ignoring doctors orders, and started drinking again (on her now diminished in function transplanted liver) because she "felt left out"; and she "doesnt think she's done anything wrong".

Well, yes, it is her life and she can die if she wants to; but the fact that she really doesn't think she's done anything wrong here? How about burdening her socialist society with her medical care, and depriving a more deserving non-idiot of a good transplant liver?

I mean, if she preferred alcohol and socialization to life, she should have been allowed to die when her own liver failed in the first place. Then she never would have needed to worry about "feeling left out" again.

Maybe I'm being too harsh here. After all, her "culture" has told her for her entire life, that she wasn't responsible for her own problems, that the state would take care of everything, and that her "feelings" are by far the most important thing in the world, and override any kind of rational or practical considerations right?.

Nah... some people are just too stupid to live anyway; it's better that she weeds herself out before she breeds (which is sure to be soon if the booze doesn't get her first).

This is the consequence of such a morally degenerated society that no-one is held responsible for their own actions or decisions. This is the result of the consequence free society.

It's just a shame that the subjects of (once) Great Britain will be forced to bear the financial burden of this idiots medical care yet again (in fact, most likely over and over again until her hopefully rapid death).

We got ours...


Did you get yours
?

That's 20 rds each of Speer Gold Dot 124gr 9mm +p, Federal Premium Personal Defense 158gr .357 magnum, and Federal Premium Personal Defense 180gr 10mm (FPPD are Hydra-Shoks). It was purchased at Bear Arms in Scottsdale, and they didn't know about the protest.

If you haven't got yours yet, you've still got plenty of time. Grab some and let David know.

Oh and a note... OUCH ammo is getting expensive. Those three boxes together cost $68 before tax. That's for 60 rounds, not 600, which is how much ammo I could load myself for that much.

One of the many reasons I stopped playing at "3rd" edition



Which wasn't really third anyway, it was 4th (because AD&D went through unofficial 2.5 and 3 revisions in the late 80s to early 90s while still under TSR). Then they did a 3.5 which was actually fifth edition, or at least 4.5 (it was mostly fixing the major screwups of "3rd" edition). This change would be more like sixth edition, or at least fifth.

"Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em, And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum..." - Agustus DeMorgan

Monday, August 27, 2007

Rough day, no energy, no inspiration

Blogging will resume tomorrow.

In the mean time, someone convince Joanie she shouldn't stop blogging.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Murder by Incompetence

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the murder of Vicki Weaver by the FBI; and the day before, was the anniversary of her sons murder by US Marshals acting in concert with the ATF.

Yes, I said murdered by the government. Not just killed, but murdered. A crime was committed; and it has never been properly redressed.

Much of the attention and blame for this crime has fallen on Lon Horiuchi, the sniper who took the shot that Killed Vicki Weaver. I won't excuse what he did (he should have known better), but he was operating on very bad information, very bad orders, and under what I would consider clearly unlawful rules of engagement.

The greater culpability for this incident lies in the US marshals who were initially on scene; and from the FBI, HRT commander Richard Rogers, SAC Eugene Glenn, and deputy directory Larry Potts; who took over the scene after Kevin Harris killed deputy marshal William Degan in self defense.

On the morning of August 21st, during a botched surveliance operation; deputy US marshal Art Roderick fired at Sammy Weaver and Kevin Harris, or at their dog striker (this is unclear); killing the dog, and drawing return defensive fire from Weaver and Harris.

Deputy marshals Roderick, Degan, Frank Norris and Larry Cooper then opened fire on Weaver and Harris. Degan shot and wounded both Weaver and Harris, at which point Harris shot back directly at Degan, killing him. In retaliation, deputy marshal Cooper then shot Sammy Weaver; killing him.

When the marshals called in the FBI, the situation they described to the FBI, was an outright lie. They informed the SAC and the HRT commander that the Weavers were radical religious fanatics, part of a white supremacist holy war cult; that all members of the family were armed and ready to fight at all times, and that they were going to kill their children and themselves rather than surrender. They also told the SAC that they had been pinned down for 12 hours by heavy small arms fire, and possibly automatic weapons; and that William Degan had been deliberately murdered.

Based on this outright lie, the FBI instituted rules of engagement to allow any adult with a weapon to be shot on sight. These ROE were clearly unlawful, and should have been rejected by the onsite agents (and a judge decided that as well later); instead HRT acted on them for a full day.

Within a few hours, the FBI chain of command knew that the marshals had lied; but they did not change the illegal rules of engagement until after Horiuchi had already fired several shots at Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris (wounding both). Horiuchis final shot at Harris missed him, and struck Vicki Weaver who was standing behind the door that Harris was entering, holding her infant child.

I believe that Lon Horiuchi was negligent in his actions that day in firing through the doorway; and he was derelict in his duty to the constitution when he accepted the unlawful rules of engagement; but he did not commit deliberate murder.

It seems clear to me however that the marshals wanted revenge for the killing of William Degan, and to cover up their own unlawful acts and incompetence. In furtherance of this, they deliberately mislead the FBI in the hopes that the Weavers would be killed, and there would be no witnesses left alive to their crimes.

There is no doubt that Larry Cooper murdered Sammy Weaver, by shooting him (under whatever circumstances), while attempting to cover up the crimes and incompeteance of he and his colleagues. Further, there is no doubt that the US marshalls lied to the FBI in order to cover up their incompetence, and possibly their crimes.

At the very least, they should be tried for manslaughter, if not second degree murder; in the deaths of Sammy and Vicki Weaver.

Additionally, SAC Glenn, SAC Rogers and dpeuty director Potts knew that the rules of engagement instituted that day were illegal, unconstitutional, and unjustified. They should never have instituted those rules; but even in so doing, once they found they had been misled by the marshals they had an absolute duty to rescind them.

They did not do so, and their incompetence and misfeasance of duty directly caused the murder of Vicki Weaver.

Given these circumstances, Lon Horiuchi has been sadled, somewhat unfairly, with the majority of the burden of these crimes. I simpyl believe this is incorrect.

Horiuchi commited negligent homicide; but I believe his chain of command showed a depraved indifference to the lives of the Weavers, based on their political beliefs; and therefore commited second degree murder, or first degree manslaughter (depending on the laws of Idaho, which I am unfamiliar with).

If I had my choice, I'd have all of those responsible before the firing squad; and I'd have no problems with my conscience pulling the hot trigger myself.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Remember

15 years ago yesterday, the ATF and US marshalls murdered Sam Weaver. 15 years ago today, the FBI murdered his motherVicki Weaver.

The Weavers were murdered, because the ATF didn't care for their politics, and Randy Weaver wouldn't play their informer games.

Remember that the next time someone says we shouldn't have guns, and that the government should protect us.

A Meme to Remember

Well this one is ...interesting

Type in a letter of the alphabet, and list what site comes up first in your autocomplete.

A: http://anarchangel.blogspot.com (no surprise there)
B: http://booksbikesboomsticks.blogspot.com (I found this meme there, again no surprise)
C: http://countertopchronicles.blogspot.com
D: http://dansdata.com
E: http://email.secureserver.net (that's my webmail interface)
F: http://freedomsight.net (Jeds blog)
G: http://gunthing.com (considering I co-run it, I'd have been amazed if it was anything else)
H: http://haloscan.com (my commenting engine, again I'd be amazed if it was anything else
I: http://imdb.com (at least a dozen visits a day - I'm a pop culture junky)
J: http://joelonsoftware.com (Joel Spolskys blog)
K: http://kbarret.cotse.net/idiot/ (Kris Barrets blog)
L: http://lileks.com/bleat (who doesn't read Lileks?)
M: http://msrdutoit.com (Connies Blog)
N: http://neanderpundit.com (Ogs blog)
O: http://opinionjournal.com
P: http://penny-arcade.com
Q: http://questionablecontent.net
R: http://rivrdog.typepad.com/rivrdog (Rivrdogs blog)
S: http://sitemeter.com (again, they're my stat engine so it's not surprise)
T: http://thelibertypapers.org (I'm a co-founder and contributor there)
U: http://unrepentantindividual.com
V: http://vodkapundit.com
W: http://wikipedia.org (by far my most visited site that I'm not directly connected to)
X: http://xavierthoughts.blogspot.com (Xaviers blog)
Y: http://youtube.com
Z: http://zappos.com (I was looking for some shoes for the wife)

Note, some autocompletes work differently than others. Some autocomplete favorites first, some go by most recent, some go by most frequently visited in history.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A True Cut

So, I mentioned yesterday that my little bandsaw couldn't make a true cut to save my life.

Well, I didn't buy a bandsaw just for the hell of it; I bought it because I needed it. I've been disappointed in this little 9" Ryobi (actually I have model just previous to this one, which is even a bit cheesier):



I hate it, because it's light weight, flimsy, and doesn't cut true... but for $90 I don't know how much I can complain. I needed a bandsaw right then, it worked for the three days I needed it, and ever since I've been using it to trim dowels and open clamshell packaging.

What I didn't mention yesterday, is that I've been doing something about that whole 'needing a decent bandsaw but not having much spare cash right now" thing.

A couple weeks ago, I ended up going onto the sears.com clearance pages; and there was something I couldn't resist. This bandsaw, which was retailing for $159 was on sale for $100; and Craftsman club members (of which I am one), get free shipping:

Now, I'm not saying it's a Laguna, Delta, Powermatic, Rikon, or even a JET (I'd like this one thanks it'll do everything I want) but it's INFINITELY better than the little Ryobi. For one thing, the saw table alone on the Crafstman weighs more than the entire Ryobi saw, and no, I'm not kidding. The craftsman is 100% welded steel, cast iron, and cast aluminum; and it weighs 80lbs. The Ryobi is mostly plastic and weighs 30lbs.

The new saw has a 3.5 amp 1/3 hp motor, and is belt driven. The Ryobi has a 2amp 1/6th hp motor, and is direct driven. The motor tension, and both wheels are adjustable, and the motor is easily replaceable. The Ryobi... well basically if it breaks, throw it away.

Although the Craftsman is made in China, it has the look, feel, fit, and finish of a much better, and more expensive saw. The truing mechanism and blade guides are both finer in adjustment, and have a broader adjustment range. Most importantly they are all bearing (3 bearings each, top and bottom), whereas the Ryobi uses very small nitrided guide blocks.

The only things I would wish for on this 10" are more solid and stable adjustments on the saw table (it's secured by one bolt); and that it had a work light (I can always add one). Oh and one more thing, the blades on the new saw aren't a standard consumer size (70-1/2"). They're readily available from saw blade suppliers, but not at home centers and hardware stores.

Anyway, I've set up the new saw, tested it, trued it; and I'm very happy. Now I just need to wait for the temperatures to fall enough for me to actually work in my shop (I haven't done anything in the shop since mid June because it's over 115 and humid every day right now).

I'm not going to throw the old saw away though; it's going to become an indoor craft saw; and now that we're getting into larger bulk meat buying, and freezing, I'm seriously considering disinfecting the whole thing and picking up a meat blade for it (they're only about $10).

Old Chinese Tradition

Yes, a whole 150 years old, and chinese by way of San Francisco, the fortune cookie. Mel wasn't feeling so great this afternoon and wanted a treat... plus she didn't feel like doing the dishes, so we got Chinese.

My fortune?

"Everyone agrees, you are the best"


We of course follow the other ancient Chinese tradition "In Bed"...

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Extracurricular Options of Kindergarteners These Days...

When it was announced by the Diocese of Phoenix last year that this year's school schedule would be changed to include early dismissal every Wednesday, the first reaction of the kids' school was to ask all of the extracurricular activity providers to "see what they could do" about filling up the 1.5 hours between dismissal and regular pick-up time.

And wow, they really came through for the parents.

Last week, daughter the older came home with the list of after-school programs. The options for Kindergarteners are almost endless; chess, dance, sports, art, something for everyone all on Wednesday afternoons.

We signed her up for the local Daisy Troop (the precursor to Brownies and Girl Scouts) in part because I like the variety of activities and because the troop leaders are a mom and a grandmother of two of the girls in her class, so I know the adults in charge. But when she brought home another flyer today, I almost regretted our decision.

This is one of the options given.

The site doesn't give near enough information. Every Wednesday for 8 weeks for $110 for the "MAD SCIENCE Enrichment Program". Among the activities listed for K-2nd grade:

  • Watts-Up: Learn about electricity, it's properties and it's role in natural phenomena. Make indoor lighting while conducting hair-raising experiments with our electro-static generator...
  • Magnetic Magic: Investigate the powers and daily uses of magnets. Test for electro magnetic fields and then use what you have learned to build your own electro magnet...
  • Optical Illusions: Build your own periscope while learning about optics, reflection, and sight. Watch celebrity images change before your very eyes! Seeing is not always believing...
  • Lights... Color... Action!: Uncover the hidden components in ordinary light and build your own Newton's color wheel to prove it. Attend a spectacular chemical energy display!
  • Slime!: Explore the exciting world of polymers, the chemical reactions we use to create them and the inner workings of silly putty. Transform two regular liquids into batch of your very own slime...
  • Sonic Sounds: Discover sound, sound waves and the way household items can be used to create amazing movie effects. Use our multi-effects processor to alter the sound of your voice, with lots of cool special effects...
  • Tantalizing Taste: Experiment with taste sensations. Use lifesaver testing to compare your sense of smell and taste. Carbonate and taste your very own soda pop and take the "Mad Science" taste challenge...
And my personal favorite:
  • Harnessing heat: Change the states of matter & witness a mini rocket launch while learning the properties of heat.

I didn't study a lot of this stuff until high school!

If they'd had these kinds of after school programs at my schools growing up, I might have had a bit more interest in science...

Mel

"There's a better way: I cheat"

As y'all know, I'm a bit of a gadget fiend... Tools, electronics... if it beeps, buzzes or goes bang, I love it.

There's just one thing that ruins my gadgetal (is that a word? Well, it is now) bliss: Plastic clamshell packaging. That horrible bubble, hermetically sealing your goodies away, and damn near impossible to open.

...And what satanspawn decided to seal the tools used to open them, in the same type of packaging you needed the tool to open? It's a conspiracy I tell you.

It's so bad, they even make a little tool just for clamshells: http://www.myopenx.com/home.htm

There is however a better way: I cheat.

I have a 9" bandsaw that I picked up for a small project. The saw didn't do the job I needed it for too well, but it's just dandy for opening clamshell packaging. Run the blade around the edges of the plastic just inside the heat sealing, and it opens a clamshell quicker than you can scream "Where's all that blood coming from".

The saw isn't much use otherwise (it can't make a true cut to save my life); but after opening a few dozen clamshells with it, I've got more than my hundred bucks worth.

Note: this is a very slightly edited form of my submission to Toolmongers writer search. They got back to me saying my writing was good, but not in their style; which is a valid point.

Thompsons Timing

Fred Thompson has strongly hinted that he will be announcing his candidacy for president in early September.

Thompson can't even make a semi-official announcement before he declares, because that would trigger all sorts of rules about fund raising, and media access etc... but this is in line with his general strategy so far; which has been to wait 'til the last possible moment before announcing, and let all the other candidates waste their money and energy fighting with each other.

Now, in response to this, some folks (mostly democrats, but also some of the fringe republican candidate supporters) are saying "It's too late, he's missed his chance. With all the other candidates having announced months ago Fred is too late"... blah blah blah.

How exactly have the derived this magical calculus of candidacy timing?

Why on earth would someone think announcing your candidacy in the year of the mid-term elections, two whole years before the next election would be a good or desirable thing; or any kind of advantage at all? Hell, some of the democratic field practically announced their candidacy the day Bush was re-elected. I mean haven't these people heard of voter fatigue?

The traditional time to announce for president is late summer or early fall of the year before the presidential election.

Hmmm, what date is it today?

Why do some people seem so convinced this is a disadvantage? He has more money than any candidate except Rudy and Mitt, and he hasn't been spending any of it yet; but every other candidate has been spending gobs of money running against him, before he's even declared.

Some people say "well, he's at a big name recognition disadvantage. Everyone else has had a year to get their names out there". Does anyone seriously think that 15 months isn't enough time to get his name out? Because the likely primary voters already know who he is, and if they don't the HUGE amount of free press he gets the minute he finally does announce is certainly going to solve that problem.

Then of course theres the fact that he's on TV, I would conservatively estimate, 7000 times a day through the "all law and order all the time" channel.

...Somehow, I don't think name recognition will be a problem for him.

In the mean time, while the various Republican candidates have been running against each other; Fred has been "not-running" against the democrats. Note, not a specific democrat, he's been positioning himself as the logical alternative to the democrats as a whole, no matter where you stand in the political spectrum (well, except to those further left than even the democratic base).

Doesn't sound like a bad strategy to me...

Friday, August 17, 2007

25 years of consumer ripoffs


Yes folks, today is the 25th anniversary of the CD.

The reason I titled this as I did is that a few years ago the major record companies lost a major class action lawsuit that almost no-one seems to know about, wherein it was proved that they had anti-competitively in collusion with each other fixed the prices of CDs as artificially high from their introduction until the mid 90s.

Anyone who could prove they bought cds from those record distributors was entitled to a ... I think it was 14 cents per cd... rebate from them. The kicker though? It was redeemable only in new cds from said record companies at full MSRP.

THe lawyers got paid though... oh my yes they did.

SO, blatantly ripping off a few dozen other bloggers (I'm jsut following in the record companies tradition), what was the first CD you ever bought?

The first CDs I actually bought for myself were Alice in Chains "Dirt", Megadeths "Countdown to Extinction", and Nine Inch Nails "Broken".

I guess that would put it at Christmas of '92?

I was so late to the party, because up until then I didn't have a CD player. I got one for Christmas that year, because they were finally cheap enough that I could afford one.

The first vinyl album I ever bought was Beastie boys "Licensed to Ill".. must've been fall of '86. I don't remember what the first tape was... I think it was Bon Jovis "Slippery When Wet"... which would've been the same year.

The first "real" as in non-childrens album I ever got was a gift of Michael Jacksons "thriller" because I think it was a law that if you were alive in the years 1982 through 1985 you had to own a copy of that album... though I actually preferred "Off the Wall" which came out before I started listening to music; and while Michael was still black.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sure, why not

This Is My Life, Rated
Life:
7.6
Mind:
7.4
Body:
6.3
Spirit:
8.4
Friends/Family:
8
Love:
9.1
Finance:
7.6
Take the Rate My Life Quiz


Nothing surprising there. I have generally got a great life. Sure, there are bumps and whatnot, but I've got a great wife and two great kids, a job I don't hate... really the only problems I have are physical. I'm an insomniac with bad knees, arthritis, and I'm overweight.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Please, Elvis has left the building"


30 years... gone but never forgotten

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

How do you spend your "working hours"


Well now this is interesting. Upper management just circulated an email to everyone asking us to break down what we're working on and how we spend our time...

...And that's an interesting question; because as I've opined here before, most of my working hours are wasted waiting for other people.

Anyway, I broke it out just now, and I thought I'd share a bit (sanitized of course).

My working months vary between 144 and 192 hours, with a typical month having 168 or 176 hours; or 21-22 working days.

I currently have 42 active "tactical" projects (we call them something else of course), and six tactical projects that are on hold or pending (which is actually a lot less than usual). Of those 48 projects, probably 12 of them involve ongoing effort on my part right now; and I typically receive between 4 and 8 new tactical projects per week, averaging out to 6.

The problem with time estimation on these, is that the tactical projects require anything from a few minutes (we charge a minimum of 2 hours time though), to 32 hours (we charge a maximum of 24) of effort to complete. Given the nature and frequency of the outliers, I would say a typical project takes 2 hours however, and at around 24 new projects a month, you can make a half decent guess at 48 hours, to as high as 72 hours.

Now, I also have what I'll call "strategic" projects. These are ongoing projects that sometimes last more than a year. They meet anywhere from twice weekly for two hours each meeting, down to an hour monthly; so each project is between 1 and 24 hours per month. Typical would be 4 hours a month though; for 56 hours.

We're up to 104-128 hours already.

Next, I also have enterprise architecture assignments; which are projects which cover technology development for the entire enterprise. I typically receive anywhere from 2-4 a month as a concurring architect (which means I have to approve the project for it to proceed), another 2-4 as an "interested" architect (which means my input is required but not my approval), and one or so every other month as a lead architect (which means I run the project).

Again, these projects vary widely in time required. As a concurring architect they'll typically take 4-8 hours. As an interest architect it's more like 2-4 hours. Lead assignments though can take anywhere from 8 to as much as 24 hours (or rarely, even more).

I figure, on average it's only about 24 hours a month.

...And that brings us up to 128-152 hours already. Rubbing up against the bottom edge of my monthly hours pool.

Then there's all the tasks not specifically related to any particular project or initiative, like research, product and technology education, and adminsitrative tasks like time tracking and paperwork.

That adds up to an average of about 40 hours a month; because a lot of what I do can be pegged to specific projects (otherwise it would be a lot more).

168-192 hours... which is my entire work month.

Just one problem...

I have 6 to 8 hours a week of non-project related staff and status meeting. That's 24-32 hours a month, when I've already accounted for all my hours.

This is why I frequently say I'm very busy not doing very much. I'm SCHEDULED for more hours than there are in the month... but very little actually gets done during at least half of those hours... sometimes as much as 3/4 of those hours.

Obviously, I can't be there for more hours than there are in the working month (overtime of any kind is not allowed at this company because of issues they've had with the commerce and labor departments) so I end up double and even triple booked for three out of five days in the work week. Amazingly enough I only have three hours of regularly scheduled meetings or activities on Mondays and Fridays; so everything else gets crammed in on Tuesday, Wednesday,and Thursday when I basically spend the entire day from 10am to 3pm on the phone.

Why just 10-3 Tuesday through Thursday?

Because those are the times when they can actually get the "full time" employees to work. If I send an email or leave a voicemail after noon on a Friday, I can just about guarantee you I won't get a response 'til Tuesday. I get bursts of email at 8am, at noon, and at 3pm, and almost never see any email after 3. I certainly never get a call returned after 2pm unless it's from one of my Pacific timezone colleagues.

Now that isn't to say that all my co-workers are like this. I have some very good solid guys (and ladies) that I work with who put in the effort, and the hours... but the great morass of the beurocracy and "process", and "project management" and "co-ordination" just soaks it all up.

... but if I really broke it down, as to how much actual work I do, vs how much time wasting crap I do on a monthly basis... well, I don't like the numbers. I figure maybe 1/4 of my time is spent doing actual useful work on an average month... maybe half if I'm lucky on a good month; and the rest is bullshit time wasting.

Hell of a way to run a business aint it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Better Bumper Sticker... and a bit more

So inspired by Rivrdog today, which do you think would make the better bumper sticker or t-shirt.
The Second Amendment: In case they "forget" the other ones

Or...

The Second Amendment: Defending the other ones since 1791

I had originally written "the other nine", and I still think it sounds better, but it's technically inaccurate since there are 27 amendments; even if most of those not in the bill of rights are essentially procedural in nature, not necessarily related to fundamental rights and liberties...

...Well that, and the fact that I'm fundamentally opposed to:
  • the 15th, 19th, and 24th amendments: Because they were unnecessary.

    Once slavery was made unconstitutional by the 13th amendment, then all citizens who were of age (21 at the time), of all races, sexes, backgrounds, prior conditions of servitude etc... should have automatically and clearly been allowed to vote under the 14th amendment, without any requirement for literacy or taxes.

    Any state laws to the contrary should have been struck down by the supreme court under the 14th amendment (and in fact they have been ever since. The 15th and 19th are generally ignored, and the 24th is usually invoked with dubious justification).

  • the 16th Amendment: Because it establishes a de-facto slavery to the government.

    Some taxes are of course necessary, however taxes on incomes, earnings, wages, and assets are fundamentally theft or slavery.

    Additionally, the 16th amendment was never properly ratified, and was enacted fraudulently; and has since its enactment been enforced fraudulently as well, because it authorizes taxes on income not on wages.

    Income, earnings, and wages are three different things by law and by centuries of precedent, but our government has chosen to treat the 16th amendment as if it authorizes all three. A tax on wages is involuntary servitude without compensation, the very definition of slavery.

  • the 17th amendment: Because it fundamentally unbalanced our system of checks and balances on state and federal power in favor of the federal government.

    The house of representatives was meant to represent the interests of the people as individuals, and the senate was meant to represent the interests of each state. This is why representatives are apportioned by population, but senators are apportioned two per state.

    We were founded as a representative federated republic; and direct election of senators has essentially removed the middle out of those three; much to the detriment of our nation.

  • the 18th and 21st amendments: Because they address an issue that is not properly a matter of law, but of morality. Passing the 18th amendment was against the principles we founded our government on, and should never have happened. The 21st therefore shouldn't have happened either.

    Additionally, the 21st established in law the ability for the states to make their own prohibitions, which shouldn't have been a matter for the federal constitution to address, unless it was to prohibit such state laws to be made.

  • the 22nd amendment: Because term limits are also fundamentally wrong under our system of government.

    If the people are stupid enough to elect a scumbag over and over again; so long as that scumbag hasn't been disqualified by unlawful actions, then they should be able to run as often as they like.

    In engineering (and in the military, which share a similar mindset towards problem solving), this type of law has a saying about it: this is a technical solution to a non-technical problem (also called a hardware solution to a software problem and other variations)

    The problem is that the people are electing people they "shouldn't." The solution is not to make electing those people illegal; it's to educate the electorate better so they won't want to elect people they shouldn't.

  • The 23rd amendment: Because the District of Columbia either IS a state, or it is not; you can't have it half way.

    Giving DC representation in congress, electors in presidential elections, or any kind of position on the national stage is ridiculous. We don't allow New York City to have electors separate from it's state government, why would we allow Washington to do so.

    This is not disenfranchisement, this is clearly a structural issue. A single city should not be given the status of a state in any way. We should either leave DC without representation (including in elections), or we should make it a state, with all the attendant rights and responsibilities of the people within.

  • the 27th amendment: Because it is not a structural issue, which is what the constitution and it's amendments are intended to address.

    Congress has the power to set it's own rules, and it's own policies, procedures, and compensation under article one section six. There is nothing in the constitution which prevents them from changing those rules once established.

    This amendment was essentially grandstanding by politicians saying "see, we're so committed to "good government" and "reform" that we can't vote ourselves a pay raise without an election first".

    I would have no issue with this amendment if it were simply a matter of law and congressional procedure. It should never have been proposed or passed as an amendment.


Man... all that from thinking about bumperstickers.

Sickeningly Cute

Jim brought over his new puppy yesterday for the kids to play with, and to try and get some socialization with other dogs.

This is Harley:



He's a not yet three month old brindle boxer, and english bulldog mix; and you can definitely see it in his face (looks a bit like Churchill there if you ask me).





He's all boxer in the body, long and thin with limbs to match; and he's gonna be a big'un based on his limb length and the size of his paws.

The socialization with the kids went very well... with Mac, not so much.

Mac was fine, and tolerant of Harley to a point. That point is where the puppy started to try to get a bite or paw on his flank or back. Mac was not amused and made it very clear; but the pup kept going. Finally Mac had to snap at him in a serious way to get Harley to back off, and I decided rather than tempt fate with a stupid puppy, I'd put Mac in the back yard.

Through it all, mac was inordinately well behaved. Mac jsut isn't dog agressive unless faced with hostility; or in this case youthful exuberance. As soon as the pup gets a little more dog socialization I'm sure he'll be fine with Mac and vice versa, but until then I'd rather not have the pup provoke Mac into hurting him.

And a great silence covered the land...

... punctuated only by the joyous weeping of parents in their suddenly quiet and mess free houses...

Yes folks, the first day of school is here.

Or at least it is for the schools of the Diocese of Phoenix, where our girls go to school (Amazingly enough, at a 4 million person metro area and 20% catholic population we don't qualify for an archdiocese; we're part of the archdiocese of Santa Fe, population 72 thousand. And yet, there are towns of 30,000 in Italy that have an archbishop, or even a cardinal... Funny that).

In particular, this is our older girls first day of "real" school, she's just starting kindergarten today; and our younger girls first day of any kind of school period, she's starting the two year pre-school program.

Through a quirk of dates and policies; Girl the youngers birthday is a few weeks too late to have let her start pre-school last year while her sister was in pre-kindergarten. She'll be 4 in less than a month; while Girl the older will be six 2/3 the way through her Kindergarten year.

I grew up most of a year younger than all the kids I went to school with because my birthday was a month before the end of the school year; Girl the older will be right in the middle, and Girl the younger will be most of a year older than her schoolmates.

Honestly though, that's not a bad thing. For one thing she's been soaking up noggin, her sisters schooling, and our own efforts at education very well. She's a lot further along with things than most three year olds (or four year olds for that matter); in fact she can even read a lot of basic words and she knows her letters and numbers very well. Plus, she's only recently become consistent enough with her potty training to be able to make it through the day without accidents; and that's kind of important.

Girls the older is herself raring to go to kindergarten, mostly because she gets to wear a UNIFORM YAY!!!! No seriously, I can't describe to you the enthusiasm she has for wearing the uniform. It's a mark of big girl pride.

What's really funny though, is that both girls are REALLY tall (as in 95th percentile tall) for their ages. They look more like a second grader and a kindergartner respectively; and compared to the rest of their class... Well, I hope it doesn't get them teased; but it IS kind of funny to look at all these little tiny 3 year olds, and then there's our girl who looks like she could take them all on in a steel cage match and emerge victorious.

With Girl the older, it's almost as bad; though she at least isn't the tallest in her class, there's actually one girl and one boy taller. Actually the taller boy is kinda freakishly tall; as in 9 year old tall not 5 year old tall.

Anyway, we're really happy the kids are finally both in school. Last year was a bit rough on Girl the younger without her playmate all day; and we're glad to be getting them both into the routine, the discipline, and the GOOD educational experience (rather than the unfortunately typically poor public school experience. Trust me on this one, we couldn't do a better job homeschooling than this school does unless we BOTH made it our full time job. They're one of the best primary schools in the state, and in the top 10% of the nation)

Mel's not quite sure what to do with herself though. She started a flexible hours part time job a couple weeks ago to give her something to do, but she's not really happy with it. She may look for a more traditional mothers hours job (the school has full day kindergarten and preschool, with before and afterschool care and enrichment programs); if for nothing else, just to get the social interaction from people who aren't either kindergarten/preschool parents, parish members, or our existing friends (most of whom were my friends before we met, because most of her old friends no longer live in the area).

Monday, August 13, 2007

Inspiring Tales of Stupidity in the Face of INjury

This morning LawDog posted something making it clear where his priorities lie when it comes to his own bodily injuries, and fishing:
He clamped a gauze pad on the holes, took my hand and said, "Firm pressure here and here until the bleeding stops. Tetanus booster."

"That's it?" I asked.

"Well, and a 'scrip for antibiotics. And some lortab -- your nose is going to be bruised."

"Hell with the lortab, I'll take a tylenol. Direct pressure?"

"Yep."

"Anything mild enough to be treated with pressure means we can still make the lake while the fish are biting. Thanks, doc!"

You know, one wouldn't think that particular statement would generate the sheer number of rolled feminine eyes that it did, but then the distaff side of the species has always been a pleasant mystery to me.

Fishing wasn't bad, either.
That brings me to mind a day in 2002...

I distinctly remember saying to the team doc "If you tape it tight enough, can I stand? Good, then I'm going back in next series".

I'd had small fractures in my left ankle and both little fingers, when I got hit with three guys on one play.

We were against the all Germany champions, and I'd rather badly hurt their star linebacker on multiple plays (he was 235, I was 325 and moving just as fast, do the math). They had their guys gunning for me hard the entire second half, and by the beginning of the fourth quarter they were giving up plays to try and take me out.

I didn't feel it at all that night; but the next six weeks I was walking funny, and my pinkies and ankle have never been right since.

... but we won, and I only missed five plays.

Round Count

One of the questions I'm asked most often about carrying weapons for defense of self and others, is about reloads and backups. Do you carry a reload, do you carry two, do you carry a backup gun...

This question is often followed by "doesn't that make you a paranoid or something?"

One of my favorite sayings, and one that I live by is "It's not whether you're paranoid, it's whether you're paranoid enough".

Yes, I carry a reload, in fact I sometimes carry two. I also carry a backup gun, and a reload for it.

I carry minimum of 10 rounds (5 shot revolver and 1 reload) to a maximum of 50 (BHP with two 18rd magazines, Keltec P3AT with spare mag). I suppose I could carry a third mag (one in the gun and two spares) for the BHP, to bring it up to 68; but I don’t really bother... I mean I have carried that much when I'm open carrying, but I rarely do.

Does that make me paranoid? Maybe. I just hope it makes me paranoid enough.

Oh and I also always carry a knife; a way to deal with screws, small nuts and bolts, and wire (either a multitool, or a keychain tool); a flashlight (actually I usually have two); some cording (550 cord); and a way of making fire. DOes that mkae me paranoid? Again I say I hope it makes me paranoid enough.

Often the question is then asked (usually by old revolver men), "If you can't do it with six, you're in more trouble than you can handle with a handgun anyway, so why bother?"

Well, they're right about one thing, if you can't stop a single threat with six rounds, you've got big problems; but I don't carry all that so I'll have more lead to send downrange at one target. The first threat is always that of multiple assailants; especially in an urban environment. More ammo gives you more flexibility in your response here; and that's important.

But that's not primarily why I carry reloads and a backup.

When it comes to defending my life, and the lives of others, I follow the dictum “two is one, one is none”. As far as I’m concerned, when I've got my Colt Defender (7+1 and 7) and my P3AT (6+1 and 6) with reloads (which is my most frequent carry rig); the total round count may be 28, but I’ve only got 15 rounds there that I can count on.

My biggest concerns are malfunctions and environmental loss.

I carry a backup magazine because the smartest way to clear a malfunction is with a fresh mag. Most automatic pistol malfunctions are caused by either bad ammunition or bad magazines. When you have a serious stoppage malfunction, the best thing you can do to resolve it is clear the weapon of any potentially defective ammunition and magazine, and reload with a fresh, known good mag and ammo.

I carry a backup gun because clearing malfunctions is slower than grabbing another gun; and also because it isn’t hard to end up with a gun lost to the environment in the exigencies of a fight.

If you end up having to clear a vehicle or a door frame quickly, or if you god forbid fall down some stairs or the median or embankment of a road (and I’ve had all of the above happen while in potentially threatening situations), it isn’t hard to end up without your sidearm, or with it out of the action (I’ve never had the first happen, but I have had the second happen).

If you're out in the woods, it's very easy to end up slipping in the creek, or sliding down the hillside; and suddenly you are without your most effective external self defense tool (actually, the only time I like pistol lanyards is when you're out hiking or boating).

I also carry a backup gun, because it is important to establish the unbreakable routine of carrying. You can't win a gun fight if you don't have a gun, so make sure you have a gun.

My backup gun goes into my pocket the minute I pick out my pants in the morning, and doesn’t come out until those pants go into the laundry.

My backup guns are generally a Kel-Tec P3AT or a KelTec PF9; but I sometimes use an SP101 (I’d use a 340pd if I had one. I keep meaning to buy one). 6+1 rounds each for the first two, 5 for the third, and I ALWAYS have a reload for my backup guns.

The reloads are small and light; and by rule of karma and Murphy, if not necessarily engineering (though often backup guns ARE somewhat less reliable than larger carry pieces), backup guns are the ones most likely to malfunction when you desperately need them. Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

My primary carry guns are a Yost custom Colt Defender in .45, a Yost custom Springfield Champion, or the Hank Fleming full custom 10mm full size govt that was a gift from the Nation of Riflemen. Those 1911s hold 7+1, 8+1, and 9+1 rounds respectively, with the magazines I carry. I usually carry a reload for each of those as well; but with the backup, I don’t always bother. If I’m feeling froggy I may have two reloads, but I usually don’t bother; unless I'm heading out into the woods (where I'm likely to be carrying a large revolver instead by the way).

So a typical load for me is as I said above 6+1 and 6 for the P3AT, and 7+1 plus 7 for the Defender. That’s 28rds.

Less commonly I’ll carry an HK USP compact (8+1 and 8) or the FM Detective (cut down BHP) with KRD extended mags (which actually work great, at 18+1 and 18).

Of those, the only gun with more than 10 rounds capacity in it is the BHP; and I chose the KRD mags not because they offer more capacity, but because they are completely reliable, and they are easier to grab and seat (because they have an integral bumper pad base plate) quickly. Standard BHP mags are harder to handle quickly; and are especially difficult to strip if they jam in the magwell.

As to how much it weighs and how bulky it is? Honestly I don’t even notice it… ‘cept the 10mm, since it’s about 44oz loaded; but it’s an open carry only gun for me anyway, I’m not worried about concealing it. The rest I’m so used to, they aren’t even there anymore.

Because honestly, when it comes to defending your life, do those few ounces bother you all that much?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Go See Stardust RIGHT NOW

I'm not going to even try and write a full review because I don't want to ruin any moment of it for you. Let me just say that this is the best movie I've seen in years.

Neil Gaiman is a frikken genius; and the performances in the movie are utterly brilliant.

Oh and they're even funnier if you're a fan of British comedy.

The movie is just about perfect... the only way it could possibly have been better is if there were more of it.

There hasn't been a better fantasy movie since "The Princess Bride" (which is the best live action fantasy of all time, and my favorite movie), and this is nearly as good (though not nearly as quotable).

Go, see it this weekend so it gets huge buzz and ensures that everything Gaimans ever done gets made into a movie.

Hey now, he forgot about New Hampshire

The New Inquisition

This is just too funny for words:

http://www.dailytech.com/Blogger+Finds+Y2K+Bug+in+NASA+Climate+Data/article8383.htm

I say again, the concept of current anthropogenic climate change; except in the case of localized micro-climates; holds no scientific water.

Honest scientists will tell you the same thing if pressed (and if their funding doesn’t depend on it), but the agenda politics of todays science (admittedly on both sides of the political spectrum, but generally on different subjects), prevents real, honest, science from occurring anymore; or from being reported if and when it is (the record of suppressing global warming debunkers is long and shameless at this point)

The honest numbers are simple. Global temperatures have risen an average of less than 1 degree centigrade since measurements started being taken. There is no “sudden and precipitous increase”. There is no hockey stick; it was a lie, and even the climate change people have admitted it. The ice caps aren’t melting, in fact in most areas they are thickening slightly. The sea level isn’t rising.

Since temperature recordings have begun, volcanic eruptions have put more carbon into the atmosphere, and caused more temperature change than all of human industry; but it wasn’t by increasing temperatures with carbon, it was by decreasing them with dust in the air.

The world has been far colder than today at times when there was far more carbon in the atmosphere; even without more dust. The world has been far warmer than today with far less carbon in the air.

The amount of anthropogenic carbon in the atmosphere is less than one half of one percent of all carbon (the vast majority is released by soil, and rotting vegetation); and considering how small a percentage of our atmosphere carbon and carbon compounds (between 0.03 and 0.06 percent. Not between 3% and 6%, 3 one hundredths of a percent); that amount is completely insignificant to climate change.

All existing climate change can be fully and scientifically explained by natural endothermic cycles, and the fluctuation in output of the sun (because earth is an exothermic system). The suns output has varied greatly over the course of human history (and of course long before), and periods of warming and cooling have tracked right along with that output.

The climate IS changing, and has since the moment the earth formed a climate. As near as we can tell (through Ice core samples and the like) there has never been a period of more than 200 years without at least a 1 degree change in global average temperatures.

The climate will continue to change on its own; and nothing humans do will change global climate significantly one way or the other… unless it’s something that actually would kill us all (incredibly massive particulate pollution over a high percentage of the earths surface - including the oceans - would do it. It would trigger massive warming, followed rapidly by an ice age; and likely kill all crops and food animals in the process, along with at least 80% of humanity, if not more).

That isn’t to say we shouldn’t attempt to develop better sources of energy, we should. We aren’t going to “run out” of oil, ever in fact; a basic understanding of economics would show that; but, oil is going to get more and more expensive as time goes on, and petroleum based fuels are inefficient, and do contribute to micro climate pollution.

In many ways, doing things greener IS in fact better. Saving energy is generally a very good thing. Not polluting is generally a good thing. When it isn’t, is when it destroys economies, prevents job growth, reduces food production, increases food prices, and all the other ways that forced greenism (I won’t even call it environmentalism, because it isn’t doing the environment much good), causes pain, suffering, misery, and general reductions in peoples health, quality of life, standard of living, and basic liberties.

“Climate change” isn’t about the environment; it’s about giving financial and political control to anti-western, anti-capitalists. It’s about punishing those rich capitalist nations and people, for not being poor socialists. It isn’t science, it’s a pseudo-scientific political movement and near religion. The adherents don’t need any proof, because they have faith; and any who challenge that faith must be burned as heretics in their new inquisition.

Sometimes, I love the Internet

Laser Flashlight Hack!!
Turn a MiniMag flashlight into a powerful DVD laser pointer! This 245mw laser is powerufl and fits real cozy in a MiniMag! See the video at the end for the Test Results!

Disclaimer: CAUTION! As you know...lasers can be dangerous. Never point them at any living object!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Further Proof that People are F@*%ed Up

So I'm looking through my various logs, and I notice there are a lot of patterns in my traffic. All sorts of things, like for example about 1/3 my hits are from search engines and link aggregators, about 1/3 are from bookmarks or RSS feeds, and about1/3 are links from other content providers (blogs and other web pages), with a small percentage coming from emailed links.

Good stuff to know really.

What gets me though, are the search words. Some of them make sense. My top three search terms (not actually including my name or the word Anarchangel) are

1. Battle Rifle
2. Bullpup Rifle
3. Infidel

OK, I get that; I've written a fair bit about those topics.

My fourth most popular search term however is the one that bugs me.

"Young boys penis"

See, a couple years ago I did a post which featured a reductio ad absurdium of gun control called "Sensible Penis Control" wherein I used the example of a pedophile who couldn't stop touching young boys, because his penis compelled him to.

Sometimes I get over 100 hits per day from people looking for young boys penises; and it's never less than 20 or so.

Of course this post is just going to increase that number, considering the number of times I've mentioned young boys penises... and that it's likely a lot of my fellow bloggers with a similar sense of right and wrong as mine will widely link this one.

Now, for all of you who have come here from a Google search for young boys penises, I have a message:

I've got your IP addresses, access times, and technical data about your computers that you can't easily fake or change.

The net CAN be "anonymous" if you know what you're doing, and re-route things round in circles etc... but those "evidence eliminator" programs ,most of y'all use thinking they'll protect you? Yeah those don't work. Hell, using google earth, I can sometimes even find pictures of your houses.

I also have friends in the FBIs anti-child porn taskforce, and the center for missing and exploited children. See, I actively hunt down child pornographers, collect evidence on them, and report them to the FBI; and have for years.

Have fun in prison. They just LOVE shorteyes in Lewisburg.

Bad Pizza

I grew up in Boston, and I grew up loving great pizza.

Some people will tell you there's no such thing as a bad pizza... those people are horribly mistaken. As I've mentioned before, there are only four or five cities in America where you can consistently get a good pizza delivered: Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis.

Unfortunately, I live in Scottsdale. Note: not one of the cities above

For several years I lived in a neighborhood where there were eight pizza places who would deliver to me, and all of them sucked. There are a couple of half decent pizza places in the area (NYPD pizza for example), but they're all miles away, and most of them don't deliver at all, never mind into my neighborhood.

When we moved in to the new place two years ago though, we discovered that there was a half decent pizza joint just a couple miles down the road. It's not perfect, their crust is a little bit biscuity and their cheese isn't 100%; but it's pretty darn good.

Unfortunately, they're closed on Sundays (no pizza during football), and they don't deliver 'til 5pm; but other than they they're excellent. Fast delivery, good toppings reasonable price.. a real winner.

So anyway, I needed some lunch, didn't have time between meetings to make it myself (absolutely crushed today), Mels out running errands, and my favorite pizza place doesn't deliver til 5pm. There aren't any local sub shops (something else I miss from Boston), and I've had too much Chinese lately.

Which leaves me with chain pizza... ugh. Ok, there area few small regional chains that are half decent, and who deliver; but none of them are around here, and god big chain pizza is awful.

For big chains delivery in my neighborhood, we've got Little Caesars, Dominos, Papa Johns and Pizza Hut. Oh and Hungry Howies, which is a regional chain; but I wont eat their pizza on a bet.

Now, normally if I have to do chain pizza I go with Pizza Hut, and I just get their wing street wings and deep fried apple pies (which are really tasty). Unfortunately my local Pizza Slut doesn't DO wing street; they just have the crappy baked wings. There is a wng street thats actually closer to us than our "hometown pizza hut, but the computer dispatch system will not let us order from them for delivery (evil corporate bastards... I really like those fried pies).

Of them all I would generally pick Pizza Hut pizza as well... but it's sort of a choice between a sharp poke in the eye, and a bee sting if you know what I mean.

Papa johns would be edible if their sauce didn't taste like raw tomatoes blended together with maple syrup (which, amazingly enough is why so many people like it. Lots of people like Hillary Duff too).

The worst of the is clearly Little Caesars... I would hesitate to even call it pizza, it's more processed cheez fud on soggy cardboard with red sugarwater in between. The only reason they still exist is because they do things like sell a large cheese pizza for $5.00

Of course only slightly less disgusting is Dominos; they of the undercooked bread dough crust, and margarine mixed with hot glue "cheese".

Worse, they don't even have the "we're cheap" fallback, because they are by far the most expensive of the chains if they aren't running a sale or giving you a coupon. Thankfully they are ALWAYS running a sale or giving you a coupon; in fact if you call them up or order online and don't HAVE a coupon, or order a special sale price, they'll suggest one for you to use (no, seriously, they do)... which is good because they'd never sell another "pizza" again otherwise.

Yeah, my options were thin on the ground... BUT...

Dominos has been advertising the new "Brooklyn style" pizza, which supposedly has a real crust, and real cheese; and of course they are spamming the world with coupons "get one sausage or pepperoni Brooklyn or $10". Of course it won't be anything LIKE a real New York pizza, but hey, for $10, I figure, what the hell, why not.

Yeah I know, I deserve whatever I get.

The verdict?

I can now say, unequivocally, that this is the best pizza that Dominos has ever made...

And it's still pretty bad.... but it's not disgusting or horrible as it normally is.

The crust is in fact, almost like a real pizza crust. It's tantalizingly close to being good. It drapes and folds the right way, and it's chewy without being soggy... it's just not quite chewy enough, and it doesn't have that edge of crispness that good pizza crust needs. If the cheese and sauce were very good, they could have made up for slightly deficient crust to make this an actual good pizza.

The cheese tastes far better than Dominos standard pizza cheese. Instead of margarine mixed with hot glue; it's like margarine mixed with play-do.

The sauce... yeah, let's not even think about that.

Now, I'll wait a couple hours and try the reheat test. Sometimes not very good pizza is actually better re-heated; but Dominos is usually so bad reheated as to be inedible.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

You might as well face it

Inside Baseball

That's an interesting expression. When I first heard it I didn't care for it; because it is obscure to someone not knowledgeable about the American cultural idiom, as well as the internal politics of organizations.

...But, for someone who IS familiar with those things, it's a very useful and apt expression.

Wikipedia defines it as : "a colloquial term in American English referring to "behind-the-scenes" conversations or dialog that the average member of the public would have no way of being privy to."

The expression comes from Bill James, the "inventor" of sabermetrics (or more accurately SABR, for the Society for American Baseball Research); a system for objectively analyzing the performance of baseball players and teams using statistical techniques.

"Outside baseball" are those statistical measures that everyone can see, and which are based solely on objective reality. Inside baseball is those things that go on behind the scenes, and that no-one can see or measure who isn't "inside".

Sabermetrics has come to dominate the management of the sport of baseball, as well as minds of it's fans (especially those into fantasy leagues and sports betting); and the results are clear. Teams (and individuals) with a good grasp of the metrics outperform those that manage by the gut, by at least 20%; even when normalized for all other known factors.

Over the past 30 years it has become very clear that the principles of sabermetrics apply to a lot more than just baseball; they are a method of complex systems interaction analysis.

It just so happens that what I do is complex systems interaction analysis. I'm a systems and security consultant, but whether I'm working on physical security, information security, IT systems, or most anything else I do; my job is all about understanding complex systems, and how to architect, design, build, manage, maintain, and sometimes destroy them.

There's a problem with systems though... , the more inside baseball that goes on; the less one can analyze and predict the actions of systems based on measurable objective factors. Inside baseball breaks the system, unless you can account for it; and even if you have knowledge of the non-objective factors it can be incredibly difficult to compensate for them, because they are just that: not objective.

So, let's talk inside baseball... and let's talk about what it is I do, and have been doing for the past two years for the job I currently hold.

My official title is Sr. Architect. My function is as chief architect for one of the 4 major and 4 minor lines of business, for one of the largest banks in the world.

Each line of business has a chief architect, I am one of those 8 chief architects. There is no architecture position above ours, each LOB is it's own "kingdom" as it were. We do also have an enterprise architecture group however, which helps to set standards and develop technologies that bridge across all the lines of business. We work closely in concert with this group to ensure that the needs of each LOB are represented and met in these polices, which we co-author, evaluate, and approve.

As chief architect, I am responsible for designing, building, and implementing all of the systems, technologies, policies, and processes that go into the technological and information operations for my line of business.

Even more fun, the LOB I happen to be the chief architect for, is not a revenue generating LOB; it's one of the two "headquarters" lines of business as it were. One of the HQ LOBs does corporate operations like payroll, accounting, HR etc..., and the other, the one I'm chief architect for, manages all of the information management and business services infrastructure for the entire bank. So if theres a system that other lines of business depend on, like enterprise information mansgement, storage, data warehouse, security etc... or an enterprise wide system for anything like that... yeah, that's what I'm chief architect for.

As of our next re-org (which should be shortly. It's in final planning stages right now), I report to a group director; who is basically a senior vice president level. The group director reports to one of the CIOs (there are four), who report to the COO, and then of course to the CEO. The last re-org last year added one more layer to that, but when I started the reporting chain looked like this as well. Anyway, there are three guys between me and the CEO (or five guys in my chain, including me and the CEO).

I'm not trying to brag, I'm trying to paint a picture of the organization (the "inside baseball" stuff) so that you can understand what's going on.

Now, so far that all seems relatively complex, but clear. It isn't.

In theory there ar eclear lines of command, responsiblity, and priority; and clear lines of incentive. In reality, everything below the CIO level is "matrixed", meaning that everyone works on multiple teams which may have different goals and priorities. You may work for one guy, but do all of your work for another guy who doesnt evaluate your or effect your compensation, and can't order you to do anything.

The system seems almost deliberately designed to AVOID explicit responsibility or accountability; as well as to prevent innovation or dynamism... in fact I honestly believe it was. The "matrix" structure is designed to ensure that no-one ever gets blamed for anything because there's always fingers to point etc... etc...

So, I've got a very important high level position. I report directly to a sr. vice president level manager, and I have absolute yes or no authority over hundreds of millions of dollars worth of architecture, only overridable by one of the CIOs or the COO.

I don't own projects however. Each project is initiated and owned by the business group that sponsored it, and is paying for it. THey sign off on all work, pay all invoices etc... It's their money, they have to sign to spend it, and they have to sign off on the goods and services they receive.

Now, I need to ensure that all the projects we perform meet enterprise, line of business, and datacenter standards; and are aligned with enterprise and LOB architectural policies and direction. As part of this responsibility, I review all projects for the line of business above the $15,000 level, or all projects that have an architectural or enterprise impact of medium or higher.

This review can sometimes be very in depth and comprehensive and take weeks, or it can be done in a few minutes over the phone. Every project is different. I see projects ranging from upgrading the RAM and OS on a few blades, to the implementation of hundreds of clustered servers costing millions of dollars.

Often, the business cases and requirements I receive are unclear, and I work with our partners (that's what we call the business stakeholders) to clarify and document their business need. Very frequently there is a clearly understood bsuniess need, but not a clearly nuderstood technological need; and I work with the aplication owners to help architect, design, and implement appropriate solutions to these business needs.

On the toher side of things, the partner bust sign off on the designs we create for them; and they must approve the status of the proejct and the actions to occur in the enxt steps at each point in the process.

In this process I work with project do-ordinators and engineers from the various departments (software architecture, software engineering, database management, hardware engineering, hardware integration, capacity planning, network engineering, datacenter management, security, disaster recovery and business continuance). Each project will have either the business owner, or a co-ordinator representing the business owners (may be a co-ordinator, may be a project manager, may be an engineer or manager depending on the needs, and size of the project), and a dedicated co-ordinator from the line of business itself; to help manage and represent these groups administratively. My role as architect is to make sure all the needs technical, procedural, and policy needs are met.

Confused yet? Well I've only covered 1/3 of my job (the other two thirds have to do with developing technologies and systems; and developing policies and procedures); but it's the third thats relevant to our discussion today.

It really is all somewhat unnecessarily complicated. As with the matrix organizations, this structure is something of a jobs and job security program for a lot of the people involved. In many circumstances we could cut the number of people who "handle" a project in half (or in some cases much more).

Anyway, the point of all this is that I have both a strategic responsibility, and the organizational authority to ensure that all projects meet architectural standards and are designed and built appropriately. The partners have the money, and the signature authority over it at each stage.

Now, most of the time this whole thing (miraculously enough) works; slowly, but smoothly and appropriately. If the partner doesnt know what they need, we can steer them in the right direction, and help them build the appropriate solutoion. If they DO know what they need, we can work it into the architecture or make changes necessary to work it in... or even sometimes change the policies and processes to accomodate the partner when it's appropriate.

Most of the time.

I've got a "problem customer" as it were. I've mentioned him before, and the problem is the same basic issue we've had all along, but it has accelerated and expanded in scope.

Basicallly the issue is this: 18 months ago, he settled on a particular architecture and a particular type of machine; and signed support and procurement contracts outside of our normal enterprise agreements to meet the needs of this architecture and infrastructure.

Ok... not great, and he did it against recommendation; but it's something we can accommodate.

One thing we did specifically warn him about though, was that the platform he selected had a very specific limitation. It has a very limited maximum I/O throughput. This limit is just high enough that in a "normal" configuration it isn't an issue, but we warned him that if either his systems were to become more heavily loaded, or if he tried to expand the functionality on those systems that he would run into issues.

Well, for the past several months he has been trying to do more with these boxes than they were designed to do; and we HAVE been running into these issues, as he was warned about. Not only that, but he keeps adding more and more demands of hardware that has reached it's maximum limit.

We have been telling him since march that the boxes he's building can't support the load and functionality he wants to put on them. We have four hardware projects that were started back then, and in all four cases he asked for more interface cards than could actually fit in the boxes, never mind have the bandwidth for. In each case we informed him of this and scaled back his requests to a more reasonable level.

So far, he has taken each of these projects to just before the build stage, then requested last minute changes, asking for MORE than even the original configuration we rejected. In fact, he's done it to each of these four projects at least twice.

He's jsutifying this by saying that because he's logically partitioning the boxes, he doesn't have to provision more hardware (which can be true to an extent, but not to the extent that he wants here); and that because he isn't concerned about performance or availability, only in cramming as much stuff onto as few systems as possible, that he is will to accept this tradeoff and build the system as he's asking for.

Only we won't do that. What he's asking for is to split each system 8 ways, when they should only be split in two. It's POSSIBLE to split 8 ways, but it's jsut a bad idea. He's also tyring to fit four different functions on two systems which will mirror each other; saying that because the machines are partitioned this is sufficient. This is simply not acceptable; because we need to maintain a physical separation of at least two of these functions for disaster recovery and bsuiness continuation purposes.

Basically it doesn't matter if he ways he doesn't need any of that; we simply will not build or support systems that don't meet at least minimum standards.

We have told him that either he has three options:

1. Increase the capacity of the hardware he purchases (buy a bigger box that can handle everything he wants)

2. Buy more boxes, and split the load across them (somethign that is very easy to do)

3. Simply do less with the boxes

Each time I tell him this, he comes back with a design that does just as much with just as little; only rearranging the configuration a bit. Each time I send him back with the same message "these are our options".

He simply will not take the reality of the situation as an answer. He wants me to bend spacetime to fit more stuff onto a medium sized box than can possibly fit. Even if it did, and there were no performance issues, it would be completely against policies, and not aligned with architectural direction.

If I let him do this, not only would I be derelict in my duties as chief architect; but he would be very unhappy, because soon after installation, his boxes would fail spectacularly.

I delivered my final notice to him yesterday. He can do one of the three things I mentioned or I'm simply going to downcheck the projects. Not only that, but I'm not the only one who's told him this. Hardware engineering, hardware integration, and the datacenter guys have all told him the same thing... but he keeps re-arranging the colors on his visio diagrams as if that would make use suddenly see the light ad change our minds.

So, today, he's going to try and go to the CIO and get him to override us; which he very well may do. Generally speaking the CIOs allow the business owners to do so, because it's their money and if they want to be idiots, it's their responsibility.

If they go ahead and proceed with the override, then I'll write it up as not aligned with enterprise architecture or policy, and recommend against implementing it; as will the other teams I mentioned. This triggers a lot of unpleasant things should they go forward.

At that point he's going to have to go outside of normal purchasing channels, conduct the negotiations himself before forwarding them to contracts, get the vendor to build and install it (because our guys won't touch anything I don't approve), pay the datacenter to host it in racks and give it power and cooling, and then pay for a separate support contract from the vendor for the systems.

All in all, it's going to cost him about double to go ahead and do this. Choosing one of the options I presented him would cost 25% to 35% more.; and it will be less reliable, and less maintainable as a result.

Today, I on the other hand am going to short circuit him.

I'm having lunch with the vendor rep; a man I have an important relationship with (I get a lot of insider info, and free steaks from system vendors, because my yes or no means millions of dollars a year to their companies) . At that lunch I'm going to tell the him that if he sells my business partner (lord I hate calling them that) the boxes, services, and support, against our architectural and policy recommendations; that he can forget about selling any other boxes to anyone in our line of business for the next year.

And that my friends, is inside baseball.