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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dog Days

Mr. Monkey was not getting representative democracy last week.

I drafted a pair of dogs for the cause: we elected them our representatives.  Bade them to stay in the capitol (kitchen) and do our bidding there while we pursued our business and pleasures in the dining room.

It did not work very well: the elected representatives came back from Capitol City to politic for more cookies.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Travellers Report: Home again!

Things I learned second-hand
  • Germans don't know what pie is. Talking real pie - the kind with fruit or pumpkin filling.
  • Neither do Turks.
  • Turks are insane drivers.
  • That insanity is infectious.
  • If one is hauling chunks of rock home on the airplane one will be stopped by security. If only because they're knocked out that someone would haul rocks around in a suitcase.
  • Dogs will emotionally detonate when their mistress suddenly appears in the driveway after a two-week absence.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


A few nights ago I told the Little Monkey how, when he was a baby, we rubbed his nose to put him to sleep.  I demonstrated, kissed him goodnight, turned off the light.

Fast forward to tonight: he's in bed, humming.


"Stop humming, or I'll come in there and rub your nose!"



Shenanigans and tomfoolery

In 1997, (Robert Byrd) told an interviewer he would encourage young people to become involved in politics, but to "Be sure you avoid the Ku Klux Klan. Don't get that albatross around your neck. Once you've made that mistake, you inhibit your operations in the political arena."

Robert Byrd is, at the age of 92, the longest serving member of Congress.  Ever. 

One wonders what shenanigans a Kluxer would have got up to if he hadn't been inhibited.

Red v Blue

Russia and the Ukraine
Whatever you think of the merits of the case (laid out in heroic detail by Wikipedia), you have to pity the  Russians a little bit.   For centuries the biggest country in the world, Russia could never conquer its way to a single economically useful land border or seaport.   What used to be a comfortable ring of client states (the 'near abroad', in Russian terms) went away with the fall of Communism, and now the former heartland of the Soviet Union is getting all up in Russia's business and demanding to be treated like a sovereign state, instead of remaining a complacent little throw pillow like Belarus.   The Russians react to this a bit like the Americans might if the Midwest were to secede, begin speaking French, and demand boxcars full of quality merchandise at low, low prices.  It really burns them up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Intermittent fasting and the Five Tibetians

I'm giving intermittent fasting and the Five Tibetians (as interpreted by Steve Barnes) a try.

So far (as-of day 2) results are .. interesting. Mentally I feel sharp and keen since my day started at 05:15 [1]. Taught the monkey school, hacked a little, cleaned the house a bit. Took the Monkey and a dog for a walk at lunch. I'm not actually very sleepy, but I am tired.

Fasting ... per the rules I get raw fruit or vegetables to curb hunger. And that's been it, all day [2]. The first time I've fasted on purpose since my OA Ordeal.

I'm giving some serious thought to staying up until midnight and grilling up a cow with a rasher of bacon for a side.

[1] Not by choice: one dog decided she had to go potty so they ALL went outside and after that rodeo sleep was not going to be an option.
[2] With the exception of the oatmeal I had at breakfast before remembering the IF thing.

Mr. Cranky and the blue plastic blocks

I'm not sure what friggin' educational genius came up with this idea

Counting blocks
Blue Plastic Base Ten manipulatives: made by Satan, NEA approved

But I am about ready to throw the set that came from K12 into the river. 

Monkey is well into working with numbers into the thousands, and his books still carry directions like: Subtract.  You may use models.  Which is fine, except he's past the point where he needs the aid. Still, he insisted on using them because they are 'fun'.

I let him fool around with the things.  Five minutes of 'manipulating' to crank out the wrong answer.  Then a few seconds with pen and paper to get the actual correct answer.  I didn't have to say anything - he put the blocks away so we can get on with life and get the math lesson over with.

I will allow these are slick ways to get the point across - for itty-bitty numbers and kids new to the math thing.  For anything above 100 it's worse than math with roman numerals. 

And they're not even very good blocks - they're too slick to stack well.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hillbilly Music

The player cued up my new (but old to me) song

Now it's guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music
Lonely, lonely streets that I call home
Yea, my guitars, cadillacs, hillbilly music
It's the only thing that keeps me hangin' on

And Charlie the Cockatoo started rocking out.  Dancing: bobbing.  Waddling to and fro on his perch.  Crooning.[1]

Jeepers: my wife's bird is a friggin' hillbilly.

[1] Cockatoos are not, in my brief experience, what you would call melodious.  More like a happy-go-lucky drunk who insists on singing his favorite song, loud and off-key.

Traveler's Notes from Istanbul.

In which our intrepid tourists discover that booking a hotel room on short notice and paying cut-rate fares invokes the principal of 'you gets whats you pays for'.

The gentleman that owns it is very friendly and helpful, but his wife or the woman that runs it with him, does not seem overly thrilled to have us here.

It's Fawlty Towers!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

ACL9 duh moment

Spent, oh, hours and hours getting ACL9 to work. Lots and lots of FAIL and gnashing of teeth.  Because I had neglected to include a key line in my controller.

# posts_controller.rb
def create
current_user.has_role!(:owner, @post)

Because, see, the current user can't edit or destroy an object unless it is made explicit that he owns it.

When things just work after a lot of tedious larking about I'm always left with a curious feeling: That's it! Why that was nothing!

On to the next self-inflicted challenge!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Traveler's Notes

From Istanbul

It was kind of crazy trying to find the hotel.  We laughed a lot even though we were lost for about three hours.  And that was with Y trying to help us find the way.

Bowing and Scraping

Will the adults in charge at the White House have a word with the boss about this? 

Thank you.

Had enough, yet?

One does not bow or curtsy to a foreign monarch because the gesture symbolizes recognition of her power over her subjects. One nevertheless treats her with respect.

From 'Miss Manners' Guide For the Turn-of-the-millennium' By Judith Martin

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pictures from Izmir

This is Potato Alley. There are a lot of food shops here and outside cafes. The people are warm and friendly. Very helpful too.

Potato Alley - Izmir Turkey.  R's apartment is upstairs in one of these buildings.

More tourist pictures hereThis one reminded me of San Diego.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vapid Political Pontificating
“This latest tragedy, at a heavily fortified army base,

Say 'heavily fortified' and people think 'vitamins'. If they are somewhat clued in they may have an image of Fort Apache with blue coated soldiery manning the walls. Corregidor in 1941, a-bristle with cannon and thick masonry walls adorned with sandbags. Any FOB in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But he is not describing a large army post in CONUS. Anyone can pretty much get in and go anywhere. The main post is to big to effectively seal off unless you employ defense in depth - fences, trenches, roving patrols - call it a battalion of troops, easy.  All to secure motor pools, warehouses and office buildings.

Places that need to be secure on the main post, are: with fences, razor wire and armed guards. Other areas - barracks, mess halls, office buildings - may have a bored un-armed soldier on the front door. Or they may not.

Anyone who gives this some thought knows this.

I loathe intentional ignorance in pursuit of vapid political pontificating.


I see you are shod in fashionable victim wear today

There are lots of reasons to despise flip-flops ...

What you and the rest of the grown men slip-slapping down sidewalks in rubber sandals at this very moment fail to understand is that those flesh-covered metatarsals are not suitable for public display. Nor do balmy weather and the relative social acceptability of man-pedicures give you a green light to march your naked toes into any public place that doesn’t have sandy floors or serve piña coladas in coconut shells.

but fashion isn't one of them.  When you wear flip-flops you can't run.  Running away from trouble should always be the first thing one attempts when danger threatens.

You can always come back with well-armed friends.

Anyhoo.  Wearing sandals takes away the flight option and turns you into a victim.  So - you look like a dork and a potential corpse: a twofer.

Games any veteran will fondly recall

Ultra-Realistic Modern Warfare Game Features Awaiting Orders, Repairing Trucks.

Advanced players will be able to unlock Company Picnics aka Mandatory Fun and Avoiding Work Detail levels.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Child's Rules For Food

A Selection:
  • He will eat spaghetti but not penne.
  • Yogurt cannot have chunks of fruit.
  • Pasta sauce cannot have chunks of anything.
  • Pear juice from the can: O.K. Pears from the can: no way.

I do not think I was this picky as a child. I probably was.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell! Part 2

For a little while now [1] the post titles here have not been clickable links. It was a bug in the template that was (to me) annoying but had a workaround [2] so in time-honored fashion [3] I made a note to fix it later. When later came around it was no longer annoying so I flat-out forgot it was ever a problem.

I have a shoemaker's children dilemma. Futzing around with templates and CSS feels too much like work.

Much time passed.

Nagged [4] into fixing it, I stared at the template for a few seconds, [5] gave it up as a bad job, then pulled the trigger and upgraded to a new gee-whizzy template and template editor: problem solved.

Except that the links to Haloscan are gone. So no comments until I get that fixed.

Update: Comments are working Wooo.

[1] May, 2005
[2] The hyperlink was a '#' at the bottom of each post.
[3] Honored if you work in IT.

[4] Which sounds bad. Daphne, you have done me a favor with your nudge.
[5] HTML is readable. When it's all splatted together like the blogger template was for that section it is horrible. Computers can handle it: people need formatting.

You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

Oracle finally pulled the plug on 'classic' meta link and is forcing us to the flash version.

They said and said they were gonna do it and they did: Oracle replaced a working and workable support page with a gawd-damned spawn of Satan made out of Flash pile of excrement.

It's okay Oracle.  I like
  • Not being able to scroll with my mouse wheel.
  • A login dialog a whole click away from your default landing page.
  • Not being able to store my password in my browser.

Because there is nothing like having to deal with a shit-load of minor irritation when you're dealing with critical support issues.

Comment of the day
Americans, and Canadians, have had this now antiquated assumption of honesty in dealing with the government. Foolish, foolish indeed, and nearly over.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Happy 234th

I was not always the best Marine I could have been. I did not always love my fellow Marine. Me and the Marines ... we parted under less than optimal terms.

So what? It's not about me, or you, or any one individual.

It is about something bigger than yourself.

Happy Birthday, Marines.

Brian Dunbar
Lance Corporal of Marines


Men are easy
Men are easy: sex with a guy is like blowing up a balloon until it explodes. Sex with a woman is like opening a safe, in the dark, wearing gloves, and the combination changes every day. Oh ... and sometimes even the owner doesn't know the combination.

All Purpose Rant

A rant from Cutelildrow that is just too, too good not to reprint


Seriously, where were you when God was handing out brains? And why, why, why is it starting to look like that your ancestors went out for tacos instead of waiting for their Apple from the Tree of Knowledge? It's gotta be like that because there is no way this much stupid could be distilled down to three successive generations, which makes me boggle. How in the name of Darwin did natural selection not get you?

I mean it. Anyone with two neurons floating in the center of a sac of saline would have cottoned on at light speed how that 'plan' was going to go very, very, very, epically fail. And mutate into so much wrongness, I'm surprised that the Gods haven't struck it down as an abomination of reality.

Remind me to stay out that chick's line of fire.

The early sound of the morning

From the emails: a traveler's description of Izmir, Turkey

The early sound of the morning in the city are of dogs barking and horns honking in the street.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Soldiers nursing the mental and emotional scars of war have overwhelmed the central Texas base, the Army's largest. Cases of post-traumatic stress disorder quadrupled from 2005 to 2007, and PTSD affects even those — like Hasan — who haven't gone off to war ...

Oh for the love of ...

PTSD - Shell Shock - Battle Fatigue is real.  Getting shot at and missed and getting shot and hit and seeing people you care for torn to shreds and dying by inches will have it's effect on people.  People in the civilian world can experience a lot of shit as well that affects them the same way.

You .. can't .. catch .. it .. from .. other people.  And you sure as shit can't get it when your job involves sitting in a hospital far, far, from death, destruction and carnage.

Don't excuse the bastard.  Don't give Major Nidal Malik Hasan's terrorism any excuse.  He did with cold malice and evil intent murder 13 and wound 30 soldiers.  His fellow service members.  His comrades-in-arms.

Major Hasan's terrorism is treason, under Article II, Section 3 of our Constitution.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

As soon as Major Hasan is up and about he needs to be up for a court martial.  Shortly after that, if there is any justice, somebody is going to look up the rules and regulations for a firing squad.

And how do we keep it from happening again?  I don't see arming everyone in garrison as realistic.  Too many soldiers, too many rifles, too much ammunition equals a huge administrative headache.  A huge portion of everyone's work day would be devoted to checking out, checking in, and madatory 'do you have your rifle and all the bullets we issued' checks.

Issue all officers and NCOs sidearms.  And that would solve this issue pretty neatly, I think.

Bring on the true space-age

LaserMotive broke a whole bunch of records and won themselves a pot-full of money.
  • Powered a climber weighing 5.2kg to an altitude of 1km.
  • Powered a climber at a speed of 4m/s to an altitude of 1km.
  • Produced more than 1 kW of electrical power via power beaming (distance greater than 300 meters).
  • Powered a climber with a net load greater than 10kg at a speed over 6m/s.
Big flipppin' Deal, you say?  Yes, I reply.

LaserMotive wants to commercialize laser power beaming.  This recession or depression or pothole or whatever this mess is called ain't gonna go away by sitting around and waiting for the government to be our savior.   Jordin and Tom want to make a pot-full of money.  Gob'less 'em, I say.

Like this: anyplace you've got a generator, distance, and a gizmo on the far side - you've got a candiate for beamed power.

  • Unmanned vehicles that need to land only to replace consumables or for maintenance.
  • Rocketry.
  • Beam energy from space - where there is a whole lot of it going to waste - to earth where it is scarce.

And that's just stuff we can do right now.   Power-beaming is on of those pesky things you gotta have perfected before you can build a space elevator.

'Course if Jordin Kare and Tom Nugent and the rest of that group can enable cheap and reliable space access we won't need a space elevator to open up the High Frontier.

So yea-fucking-haw: bring on the true space-age.


Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
--Isaac Asimov

Fuck that sentiment. Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent because they were too damned lazy to wield it effectively before there were no other options.

And fuck Asimov while you're at it: his stories are dry as old yard bird left in the oven for too long.

Today's Dose of Despair from JEP

Despair is a sin, he repeated to himself.

Unemployment is over 10%. It wasn't supposed to get that high. TARP was supposed to fix that.

Meanwhile today may be the most important vote in Congress since the days of the New Deal. If the health care bill passes, it will fundamentally convert these United States into a different kind of popular democracy, which generally means rule by a bureaucracy. Once that much of the economy is run by government, economic recovery as many hope for will simply be impossible.

Permanent unemployment at 7% or so; median income perhaps 10% higher than it is now, but not much higher; and a long period of stagflation. Reluctance to take on new employees, and great incentive to export jobs. Is this a picture of the future? We will have to see, as Congress debates the health care and carbon tax bills.


Weird - but lovable

My kids don't whine on long car trips - my kids act weird on long car trips.

Balloons on the Sea

A seriously ghostly sound like lamenting spirits

From the emails: a traveler's description of Izmir, Turkey
I was up a lot during the night.  S. couldn't sleep and she heard the Muslim call to prayer coming through the windows.  It was very eerie.  It didn't sound like a call to prayer resonating through the empty streets.  It had a seriously ghostly sound like lamenting spirits.  I don't think the city sleeps, though.  Even the fruit markets below R's apartment are open 24 hours.  All the food places, including McDonald's and Burger King, deliver.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Golden Arches everywhere!

She flew to an entirely different hemisphere last night.  Got to the apartment. Had her first meal at the nearest restaurant. A charming local place: McDonald's.

I am not surprised to find Mickey Dees overseas: if WhataBurger [1] can find it's way to Okinawa (and it did) then nothing is out of reach of the American Corporate Empire.

I am surprised she did not go for something more adventurous.  Perhaps seventeen hours of travel [2] took it's toll on her.

Next up: me and the Little Monkey are going to Wal-Mart.  And we're gonna buy a floor mop!

Meanwhile my poor baby is suffering a vacation in a Medeteranian climate and will endure a tour of the ruins of Troy.  She might even go to the beach.  It is all so sad.

[1] King of the Grease Burger!
[2] Minus the four-hour drive to Chicago. Bleh.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Excuse me

To the gracious driver behind me at the automated toll booth near O'Hare this evening:

I am a Country Mouse to your City Mouse.

When you sounded your car horn again and again and again you did me a kind service, bringing to my attention a situation I was unaware of: I was delaying several persons, including your obviously busy self.

Imagine my chagrin.

And did your repeated sounding of your signaling device cause a missing dime to magically appear from the bottom of the cup holder?  I can't say for certain that it did, it sure could have. 

You get a big ol' Wisconsin thanks for that as well.

In other news ...

I'll be in my bunk.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Serve the public trust. Protect the innocent. Uphold the law.

Philippine National Police at morning formation.

Robocop in the PI

The jauntily perched cop cap is a nice touch.

I wonder if this model is programmed to follow the Fourth Directive?


Monday, November 02, 2009

Aradia Art

Pasty has a new outlet for her creative urges.

Aradia Art is a place where you will find artistic visions and unique inspirations will help people find and express their spiritual side. From original hand paintings to Victorian reproductions, each item holds something special and awaits until it finds the certain someone for whom it was meant.

And some pretty nifty urges they are.

Old Farm - New Hope

Old Farm - New Hope

Elven Magick

Elven Magick

Elven Magick - detail

Elven Magick - Detail

Being married to a creative chick - poet, musician, writer, artist - is sure 'nuff interesting.