Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Thing I Did Not Know This Morning

"Murum aries attigit": The ram has touched the wall.

It refers to the policy of not allowing any mercy or surrender to the occupants of a fortification once the battering ram begins the assault on the gates. This policy was to act as a deterrent against resistance to those about to be besieged. It was an incentive for anyone who was not absolutely sure that they could withstand the assault to surrender immediately, rather than face the possibility of total destruction.

I am delighted to discover that a mindset I try to cultivate can be expressed so neatly in Latin.

Also: that would look great on a business card.

From this letter, via Patrick at PopeHat.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Intermittent Fasting

Steve Barnes writes about Intermittent Fasting, here. Read what he has to say, because I'm real new at it.

I did the IF regime for a week or so. Then I stopped for a month. This is why:

On what was my last day of fast I went to Wal Mart with my wife. I recall thinking that I was seeing with remarkable clarify of vision and I felt great. Except for that swimming feeling in my head. Which was the onset of a truly miserable bout of the ick.

I am not sure what 'rules' there are for fasting while sick as a dog. I'm weak and didn't even try.  Lots of stew and soup and fruit.  And orange juice. When I felt better I simply did not climb back on the wagon.  Because I am weak.

I'm picking it up again on Friday, after we make our next shopping trip.

My attempt at IF coincided with my wife's trip to Turkey.  You'd think it would be hard to fast while making yummy meals for one's nine-year old. And you would be right.  I caught myself staring ravenously at a friggin' peanut-butter and jelly sandwich once: it took a lot of will not to cram the entire thing into my mouth and wash it down with a gallon of milk.

However it's going to be even harder now that she is back because my wife is real good at the fine art of making yummy food out of anything that is at hand.  And this is with the lo-fat and no-salt regime imposed on heart attackees.

The benefits are worth it.  I felt sharper and more alert.  Perhaps I lost some weight.  I felt more on top of things, mentally.

Certainly no one ever died from imposing a little bit of order on one's life.

Hey, and speaking of order on one's life: I've nearly finished Dave Ramsey's 'Total Money Makeover'.  I am jazzed about starting that regime as well.

The cause of and cure for all of life's problems

Taxes are going up next year .. [1]

MADISON — A new report estimates that property taxes in Wisconsin are going up over 4 percent this year.

The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance estimates the increase will be 4.2 percent but final numbers won't be known until the spring. Last year the average statewide increase was 4 percent.

The Taxpayers Alliance says that school levies increased the most at 6 percent followed by technical colleges at 3.9 percent and counties at 3.2 percent.

Total levies were up the most in Green County at 11.3 percent followed by Dane and Crawford counties both at 8 percent. Five counties saw a reduction in levies, with Marquette at the largest with a 2.4 percent cut.

I, for one, am looking forward to the new services and extras that the various governments are going to provide for the extra cash that I am volunteering.

[1] The entire text from the Post Crescent is at the link: I would not click the link if I were you. In a desperate bid to do .. something ... the P-C has made their annoying website even more annoying.

When I clicked I was greeted with floating ads that had no 'go away' button. They hovered for a while then just before I reached out to close the page the ads just softly vanished with an effect like the Enterprise going to warp speed.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What can you imagine today?

The Future, the Past, the Present and ...

I noted to myself that we North Americans (and I’m not even native born) tend to get excited (with reservations) about future possibilities. We are curious about what is to come, good or bad, and how we might be part of it, and possibly find our niche or avoid the worst. Here in Europe, where admittedly things are often more “civilized,” the weight of the past consumes people’s thoughts. While a European sees oneself as part of a continuum — a long line of culture receding into the dim and distant past — North Americans can only feel in their guts that they are standing upon a thin veneer of history. They are both excited and stimulated by the idea of what can be imagined, what might come into existence that never existed previously — sometimes stimulated to the point of dangerous insanity.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Science - what has it done for us lately?

In the future ... high schools will eliminate science labs and the science department in order to free up resources to help struggling students.

Paul Gibson, an alternate parent representative on the School Governance Council, said that information presented at council meetings suggests that the science labs were largely classes for white students. He said the decision to consider cutting the labs in order to redirect resources to underperforming students was virtually unanimous.

This should bring everyone up short: parents and other people charged with making their school the best it could be, unanimously said that eliminating science education was the most optimal use of taxpayer funds.

The Governance Council then voted (unanimously) that the strong shall wait for weary, the hale shall halt for the weak, and to use the remaining stock of seed corn to make tasty before, during, and after school meals for the struggling students at Berkeley High.

When asked about this the students peasants-in-training said "Huh?"

It's a Red Queen's Race to the bottom.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cockatoo Bleg

My wife owns a cockatoo.  We bought a cage advertised as 'escape proof' and 'your cockatoo will not get out of this cage - ever'.

Within a few hours of installing him in the new cage he'd chewed a bar off.  Months later the cage is looking very ghetto, what with a bars missing here, and missing there.  And he's opened two spaces in the cage large enough to squeeze out.

What we need is an actually good cage for a 'too, one that he can't tear apart.  Suggestions?


Story so far: Guy straps a bomb to his leg, detonates it. Passenger jumps him, beats the snot out of him. At some point the bomb malfed, because of inept engineering, or the efforts of the citizen or both.

This is the bit that I have not seen anyone else talking about:

A Predator did not blow him up. Delta Force did not kick down his door. A US Marshal did not put the cuffs on him.

The government could not stop this guy.

A citizen did, or did his best to do so.

To wait for the government to be your savior is to be a bystander in your own life.


What do you say about a 'system' that allowed a known-terrorist to fly with a bomb in his crotch?

What we are focused on is making sure that the air environment remains safe, that people are confident when they travel. And one thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked.

Secretary Napolitano, this was not a system 'working'.  This is what people out here in the real world call a system that 'failed'.

East John Street Appleton, WI

Saturday, December 26, 2009

In the future

In the future ... the government will draft you into a union. 

And if you don't happen to have an organization to have an adversarial relationship with, why they'll create one for you.

Here's to Government!  The cause of - and answer to - all of life's little problems.

Friday, December 25, 2009

There was supposed to be ...

A Northwest Airlines passenger from Nigeria, who said he was acting on al-Qaida's instructions, tried to blow up the plane Friday as it was landing in Detroit, law enforcement and national security officials said.

As the captain was giving his 'Thank you for flying with us today' message the man recalled what he'd forgotten to do over the Atlantic. "Heh," he chuckled to himself. "Am I going to get teased in Paradise for this. Welp, better late than never!"


Getting psyched up to pull the trigger, wondering where the earth-shattering kaboom is, then getting jumped by one's fellow passengers. That has got to play with a guy's head.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dreaming of airships and big-ass trucks

This morning's dream: I was driving in Door County. Took a call from my wife. She told me to drive west and look at the country there. So I did.

Perfect country-side: rolling terrain, a good mix of houses, farms, well-watered. Came to a town: it was perfect as well! Rounded a turn and found a harbor.

In the harbor was an incredibly huge airship, with a commercial company's name on the side. It was lifting a smaller - but still huge - crumpled airship out of the water. Sitting on the still water around the wreck were CH-46 aircraft.

As the incredibly huge airship lifted up and out to open water with the wreck I gawked and took pictures. Walked around a building and found a Marine engineer battalion with a dozen or so LVS vehicles with an incredible array of gear racked on the trailers: lots of cables and gear to enable working with heavy equipment. Whatever they'd been doing to get the wreck in shape for lifting .. they were done and packing up.

I don't know where this was.  But I'd like to go back.

4f 6c 64 20 53 63 68 6f 6f 6c 20 54 69 74 6c 65

4d 65 72 72 79 20 43 68 72 69 73 74 6d 61 73 20 74 6f 20 61 6c 6c 20 74 68 65 20 6e 65 72 64 73 2c 20 64 6f 72 6b 73 2c 20 61 6e 64 20 6f 6c 64 2d 73 63 68 6f 6f 6c 20 63 6f 6d 70 75 74 65 72 20 67 75 79 73 2e

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What A Proud Day

What The Czar said ..

As you recall, the President had a clear goal for healthcare reform with only these six key features:

—It woud not add to the deficit and will be completely paid off upfront.

—It would require cuts in costs if the savings would not be realized.

—It introduces significant quality control into all aspects of the treatment process.

—It eliminates fraud and abuse within the system.

—It requires total malpractice reform.

—It makes insurance available to all people either through private plans or a public plan.

And thanks to the President’s brilliant leadership, the Senate are moments away from passing a bill which, thanks to the President’s own party, features none of these things.

What a proud day.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Like to drive me nuts

The Kid from Hong Kong plays piano. The family he is staying with for the year lacks a piano. We have a piano. So he spends some time at my house, playing, practicing.

He's got this song in his repertoire that is real pretty and he plays it real good. But he can't translate the title from Cantonese to English. And his sheet music is in them funny characters they use instead of English. So we're all a little frustrated: what the heck is that song called?

Problem solved! He found the title. 'Ballade pour Adeline', by a French guy, Richard Clayderman. Go listen - it's good.

Sadly, the hawt chick twirling about in the background is not a feature of S4C recitals.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Holidays and sorry about that

Why, look at that: you've got a new screen for your Presario.  No, I will not install it for you.

Yes, I work in IT.  Why, then?

Like this:  The gear I work on is incredibly expensive - it's nothing to drop $15k on a low-end entry level system.  Talking systems that host software that runs a profitable and (for the times) prosperous organization.  I fancy that I'm pretty good at my job.  I've been doing for over a decade and have moved at a steady pace up the responsibility ladder.   My employer thinks I'm doing something right: they pay for a cell phone and internet access so I can be Johnny on the spot 24x7.

But that does not translate into actual competence swapping out hardware on a laptop.  That stuff is incredibly finicky and precise.  With itty-bitty screws and parts that do not tolerate a lot of ham-handedness.  The gear I work with tends to the large and bulky type, and is 'field replaceable'. This means you haul out the old, dead part and shove in the bright and shiny new one.

And most of the time I don't do that much.  It's under warranty: let the tech from Sun or NetApp or IBM do it.

Were I to even look at your laptop, I have no doubt it would shatter into a bazillion bits.

I sure wish I'd said this an hour ago before I shattered the zero insertion force keyboard harness in her laptop.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Where is My Soldier? by Corb Lund

I hate it when I hear an old, good, song and it's a pain to dig up the lyrics.  So ...

Where is My Soldier? by Corb Lund
from 'Unforgiving Mistress'

They call me Enrita, I'm a young village girl,
I'm in love with a fighting man from the New World.
A year ago April they set up their camp,
I was carrying water when I met my man.

In a drab sea of green on the outside of town,
Only stationed there briefly he'd said with a frown.
But the days passed to weeks, I fell quickly in love,
With the good hearted trooper that I'm singing of.

Where is my soldier?
He is my life; he has my soul,
And I have not seen him for six months or more.
Where is my soldier?
I am his wife; to him I belong,
And I have not seen him for so very long.

Has he died on a bayonet, have they run him through?
Has a Kalashnikov rifle burst cut him in two?
Is he now hanging limp on some rusted barbed wire?
Has he been burned alive by the chemical fire?

Was he sent to the front on a secret night raid?
Have they switched his identity, his papers mislaid?
Is he languishing hungry as a prisoner of war?
In need of good medicine, broken and torn?


Has he been shot on orders through the chain of command?
For fleeing in the face of the enemy's brand.
No that can't be right he's too brave and too proud.
Must be missing for valiant reasons, somehow.

There's just one more thing, one more nagging small doubt...
Did he forget his new bride when his unit moved out?
Well if so I hope he's alive, breaking hearts on a whim,
For I'm a strong enough woman to hope this for him.


And I have not seen him,
I have not seen him,
I have not seen him for so very long.


Disasters are always so much fun, when you're reading about them from a distance.

An IBM Z10 at EDS's Stockley Park site, west of London, fell over this week after vital microcode fixes had not been applied, because all the qualified staff had been fired.

Previously the updates would have been applied by the Stockley park hardware team, who have all been made redundant.

When EDS' disaster recovery plan kicked in, switching processes to another Z10 at Mitcheldean in Gloucestershire, a similar lack of maintenance scuppered the stand-in machine.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Technical Support - Oracle Style

I had a question about moving Agile PLM from Oracle AS to Weblogic.  I asked a question at the Oracle Community page.

 Geeta - a forum moderator in the Oracle Weblogic Server forum - wrote in a recent thread there ..

Also can you please check with the agile support team [1] regarding the 11g application server and agile server certification as 11g application server uses 10.3 weblogic server.

Supposedly there are all kinds of benefits to using AS 11g.

So ...  when will Agile PLM certify Application Server 11g with 9.3?

[1] It's a little weird to have an Oracle employee request that I check in with another set of Oracle employees.  Don't you guys talk to each other?

The reply.

Agile9.3 is certified for "only"  Oracle WebLogic Server 10.3 Standard or Enterprise Edition, for Weblogic appsvr platform.  for OAS appsvr platform, it is Oracle Application Server (iAS) 10gR3 (version Enterprise Edition, Standard Edition. A9.3 Capacity Planning guide has the details in this regard in the platform matrix.

I had to re-read that: it's a punchline to a joke about IT, come to life and lurching around like a chicken with it's head cut off.

We're paying money for quality answers like this.  At least he was prompt in his reply.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Man is a Beast when he isn't an angel

Man is a Beast when he isn't an angel.
And so it was (and I’ve related this story before) that I was somewhat amused to hear my seatmate on the plane, a doctor from Medicins Sans Frontiere, confidently declare to me that he would be protected by humanitarian law when he reached Jolo. I told him if he went much beyond town he’d be kidnapped before he could say Jacques Robinson, which he was. You really have to be well educated to believe that stuff about the “religion of peace”. Both the victims and the suspects of the latest massacre reported in the New York Times are from Muslim warlord families. If you’re ignorant, you’ll probably know that human folly and malice is confined to no religion. Man is a beast when he isn’t an angel.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What OS are you running?

He asked 'What OS are you running?' And the question made me stop in my tracks.

 He asked 'What OS are you running"

Well, that's a good question, I started to reply. I've got a terminal session to my desktop: OS X.  But I'm also logged in via SSH to a linux server. And in a second terminal session you can't see, a Solaris 10 host! On the left: Windows Server 2003. What OS I'm running depends on what window I'm actually working in!  A few seconds ago I was logged in to the console of an F5 Local Traffic Manager and, man, they run some kind of wild-ass customized linux distro, so I was ...

Then I came to my senses: OS X, I said.  And he nodded and went away.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You can have ..

"You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want."

Zig Ziglar

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

First Snow - Neenah, Wisconsin

Today?  Oh, it snowed a bit.  If by 'bit' I mean fourteen and one-half inches. Just a dusting, really.


Someone should go out and bring in those chairs.

Lily - Nixie

Lily, the new little dog, likes snow.

Nixie and her bear

Playing 'fetch' in the snow.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

No Time For Sergeants

I have it on good authority from Hill sources that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will send Congress the letter tomorrow morning that will extend the Troubled Asset Relief Program through October 3, 2010.

They were pushing this on NPR's Morning Edition today.  A congress-critter [1] was on and asked how they'd use it to save jobs.

Hand to my heart he said 'We could give it to state and local governments to boost employment in government.'

If they're going to piddle around like this they might as well adopt the Nicaragua Plan and draft everyone into the Army.  Then we can all get to wear drab uniforms, mop floors, and bitch about sergeants for a living.

[1] Which one?  The name flew clean out of my head: one greedy pol sounds like another.  Pick a senior guy with a (D) after his name and the odds are good you'll have the right one.

Monday, December 07, 2009

'The Post-American World and the Rise of the Rest'

Fareed Zakaria

"A laptop is a luxury in most developing countries.  The cell phone is the personal computer of the third world."

Sunday, December 06, 2009

To Work!

God has a great work for you to do and if you are not doing it, it's not getting done.


Ah, Japan: you wacky bunch of guys.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Interview with Brad Edwards

Interview with Brad Edwards, in which we find he is still foolishly over-optimistic about building a space elevator

He's still claiming $10 billion and fifteen years will see it done.

Which seems mighty quick to build a system using materials that have not been made yet, and real cheap to field a fully working system.  

I am not a big-brained scientist but .. when is he going to flight test the components?  Test the gear and materials that today only prototyped (if that) and must work in the field 24x7 for years?  Prove the nano wonder material isn't going to fail a few years after it's in production?

P'haps we should build a few bridges with the nano-material first and get some experience with the stuff before launching it into space.

He's always been dismissive of the fiddly details and it drives me nuts.  Like this

The initial stage would require 4 launches of a heavy lift, Saturn V class rocket.

Awesome.  And where do we get four of these?  Nobody is making a Saturn V class rocket - how many billions to kick-start a program?  Perhaps the assumption is that they will just happen.  Well, golly, Doctor Edwards: maybe unicorns will just happen along and poop gold coins and make me rich.  But I won't hold my breath.

Festival of Linkage

We're nearly there ...  12 reasons unemployment is going to (at least) 12 percent.

“I’m not going to hire anybody in the United States.  I’m moving. They are doing everything possible to destroy jobs.”  Phht: Like the CEO of a company know anything about running a business.

Shoot me first.
Marian, one of the two thirteen-year-olds in the room, quickly assumed leadership of the younger girls, doing everything she could to help protect them. Realizing he planned to kill them, she said,

”Shoot me first,”

hoping to save the other and fulfilling her duty to watch over the little ones in her care.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Slack-Jawed Yokel

Matt Lauer on the Today Show:

"Meredith Baxter - you're a lesbian! And right now all over America jaws are dropping .."

Jesus Hector Christ.

No, Matt Lauer, you lunk-headed talking-head dipshit, jaws are not dropping all over America because you have just informed us proles that Meredith Baxter is a lesbian.

Jaws are dropping because we're astounded at your presumption that everyone outside of your enclave is a yokel who is smacked into slack-jawed idiocy by the notion that someone who is sorta famous for acting in a sit-com a generation ago is gay.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Flip over a rock and just look at the crazy

Richard Hoste on hiring practices:

Given a white guy and a black guy, with demonstrated equal ability, hire the white dude.  Because African-Americans as a group have a lower IQ.

I don't know where our Mr. Hoste went to school, but where I come from stereotyping a guy based on race marks one as low class, no matter how much breeding, education, or wealth he has.

Next we'll pump up the jam and put on our puffy parachute pants

A friend is earning her B.S. at UW.  And learning DOS batch programming for a class called 'Network Operating Systems'.

What in the ring-tailed rambling heck is up with that?  Who uses batch files in 2009?

1990 called.  They want their operating system back.

Sun dog

A benefit of rising early: sun dog!

12-2-2009<br/>Neenah, Wi<br/>Sun Dog

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The game ain't the only thing that sucks

This is pathetic.

Game Of Life Tattoo

It is not courageous, nor profound.  It is not powerful.  It is most certainly not rad.

What this is .. is a sad, strange, waste of talent and money. 

Also a great big warning sign to prospective mates: This chick lives in Crazy Town - turn back now.

Richard you ignorant slut

The White Goddess
Palin takes John Kerry to task for his joke about those who don’t study getting “stuck in Iraq,” but the story of her own son proves that he was right. Track joined the military after deciding that he didn’t want to bum around after high school like his friends. This implies that he wasn’t smart enough for college.

We've managed a neat trick in this country: to raise up generation upon generation who never know what it is to sacrifice for something bigger than themselves.  People whose biggest inconvenience is a long commute to an office.  People who see and read a great deal but understand nothing about how the world works.

Richard Hoste, you will never know, nor understand how profoundly ignorant you are.

You have my pity.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Snow Stake

Sign of winter

When the snow stakes show up one can no longer pretend that Winter is going to give us a miss this year.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dear Lazyweb: VMS to Unix edition

Dear Lazyweb,

Once upon a time, a team of guys sat down and wrote an application in C, running on VMS on a VAX.  It was a rather important undertaking and runs a reasonably important back-end operation at LargeCo.  This whole shebang works so well that twenty-five years later it's still chugging along and doing it's thing.

Time passes and people retire and it so happens that the Last Man Standing has turned over the keys to a new generation who - we might imagine - are less than thrilled to find themselves caretakers of a system old enough to be their younger brother.  Yet, as underwhelmed as they are by the idea of dealing with Ultra Legacy Systems, they can't justify the cost of replacing the venerable application.

LMS discovered that I habla unix and put this question to me.  And since I habla unix but don't speaka the C I shall summarize and put it to you.  Long Story Short:

LMS wants to port LegacyApp, written in C. from VMS to unix.  Resources?  Any books he can read?  People he can talk to?

Cross posted to Stackoverflow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The green police, they come to me in my bed

Dude gets busted by the La Crosse department for drinking underage. The evidence? Facebook pictures.

“I feel like it is shady police work and a waste of taxpayer money to have him (an officer) sit on the computer on Facebook when he could actually be doing police work,” said Luebker.

On the contrary, Mr. Luebker. The taxpayers of La Crosse got themselves a few hundred bucks for the cost of a cop sitting down for an hour at the computer.

That is an efficient use of the taxpayer's money.

And, hey: a guy operating a computer consumes less energy and has a smaller carbon footprint than a guy driving around in a police car.  It's Green Policing!

The kids at UW should like that a whole bunch.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crap jobs all the way down

Overheard at home
Herself: I've got a line on a temp job in merchandising: you said you wanted to get into that. It's only four hours, starts today at noon but you'll be on her list for the next time she needs help and you'll have experience for your resume.

X: Ah. Man. Ya'know? I'm feeling kinda lazy today. Maybe next time.

Listening to that conversation second-hand pisses me off.

X doesn't get it.  There won't be a next time: if it's a choice between waiting for a lazy-ass to decide that today she's going to get up and work and an ambitious soul who can work right now - who gets the work? And who is on the list for next time?  Not Miss X.

Get with the program or your entire life is gonna be one shit job after another, cupcake.

Lesson Learned: Smooches

Lesson Learned: Next time my wife gets off an international flight saying "Ugh, I'm sick don't kiss me" I shall take her at her word and refrain from smooching.

'Cause man, whatever viral ick she picked up on the flight from Istanbul is some serious international heavy-duty world rocking shit.

Ah - who am I kidding?  I'll kiss her no matter what.   Maybe next time I'll slap on a surgical mask ...

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Small Core Sample of America

Vanderleun: A Small Core Sample of America
It's a commonplace to say that the states of our nation are now so diverse that we are a deeply divided country. I've come to see that that old saw is a dull old saw, useful for pundits and prognosticators, but much more false than true. It's the view that arises when people are pent up in the cities far too long, and fall far too much in love with their own voice and views; their own set and setting; their own media-mirrored visage.

What all our media mouthpieces assert is happening in America, is happening -- it turns out -- only in their sealed and secular Happy World. It is not what's happening in the core of our states where the whirr and the buzz and the blather of the coasts come through only faintly, like screams heard through walls and quickly fading.

Out here, there's a different drum sounded and different dances danced. And, if you could, as I did yesterday, look out over the Owens valley and coast down into the small town of Bishop and watch the men come out at dusk to furl the American flags that line the sidewalks by the hundreds, you'd know, beyond a shred of a doubt, that the states of our union are still strong, and will survive, no matter what happens in the Happy World of our coastal cities, our capitols of culture and corruption, into which, in the course of the decades, everything cheap and corrupt and loose has rolled and congealed.

What happens in those cities may matter in the news of the day, but out here it is the news of the decade that matters. Here is where what we were and are and will become is finally and irrevocably decided. Everyone who thinks they know what the country is and where it is going needs to take some time out every so often and take their own personal core sample.

Sunday, November 22, 2009