Friday, February 26, 2010


In the Foreign Legion ..
... discipline is strict and punishment swift, though the days are past when an officer might run his saber through a Legionnaire's chest for murmuring in the ranks, or a drill sergeant punch out a recruit for neglecting to shave. "It's tough, but not in a stupid or brutal way," Alex Lochrie, retired Scottish Legion veteran and author of the recent Fighting for the French Foreign Legion, told me. "Legionnaires are hardened during training so they don't suddenly find themselves disoriented in combat conditions like forces that rely heavily on reservists. The result is that only a small number of them suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

That is a pretty gun

The Wife bought herself a nifty little shootin' iron a few weeks ago ..

Anyway, what I thought was funny was every single man that saw my revolver had the same response. "It's a pretty little thing." Wow. I had no idea that guns could be pretty little things. However, if a bad guy comes running through my house and manages to get past a German Shepherd, a crazy cockatoo, and a passel of ankle biters that "pretty little thing" is going to shoot his patootie.

Attention bad men: violate our door and you will be shot and you will be shot by a lady who unashamedly uses the word 'patootie'. 

You have been warned.

Maybe if they could get out and walk there ...

The lady is getting all patriotic over the latest round of 'Argentina Wants the Falkland Islands' ..

It would be political suicide for any British government to capitulate so they won't. And it would be foolish and tragic for any Argentinian government to offer up its soldiers to the slaughter for the sake of a useful domestic diversion.

I'm not sure how, exactly, the Royal Navy is going to slaughter anyone. They simply don't have the units needed to cross the Atlantic, dominate a contested area and land the Marines. You can't do what you can't do, no matter how daring your aviators, how bold your sailors, how brave your soldiers.

It's not going to come that because Argentina does not have the military it would need to overwhelm [1] even the sparse garrison (two companies of infantry, a ship, four fighter planes) the Brits maintain in the Falklands.

[1] Of course, surprise happens in war, all the time. Argentina could pull a Pearl Harbor on the Falklands and then where would the Royal Navy be?

24x7 - unless it's not

Us: Wow, look at the frizzit - it's off the scale!

Oracle: We suggest you export and import the database on a monthly basis to realign the frim-jams.

For us that's eleven hours of downtime [1].  On a mission critical application.  For a company that runs three shifts seven days a week.

The best they could do to prevent a serious problem is ... to take it out of service at regular intervals for eleven hours at a time?

Who can do this in the real world?

[1] It's a huge database.

Hi-Point 45 JHP - Not a Pretty Gun

My wife - the big sweetie that she is - had this waiting for me when I came home from work the other day.

Hi-Point 45 ACP<br/>

Haven't been able to shoot it yet.  And anyway, I'm not the kind of person who obsessively writes about guns, calibers, types of ammunition etc., etc.

But this is a sure-nuff interesting weapon.  Very functional looking.  Which has an elegance all of it's own.  The die-cast construction makes it feel like an actual tool, not a fetish for camo-clad yahoos.

When you release the slide that big ol' recoil spring slams the slide home with a loud CLACK and a lot of authority.

Subtle, it ain't.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

He hadn't said anything at all about mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or gettin' drunk

Like this - ice fishing in the morning, a teen's birthday party for lunch, looked at a used pick-em-up truck for one of kids, shootin' in the afternoon, shopping for a new laptop in the early evening. 

Fishing, pizza, pick-up trucks, guns and computers.  Is this a great country, or what?

Icing on the Cake

Clear on the right - clear on the left - Breathe - Relax - Aim - Sight - Squeeze (am I forgetting anything) BANGRINGGGGGGINGINMYEARS-OW-OW-OW.

Oh yes - ear muffs.  Because guns are .. I SAID 'GUNS ARE LOUD'.

I would not bring this up, because while shooting guns can be enjoyable exercise I firmly believe they are tools and owning, practicing with, and taking care of them is not any different from owning and using say, a really nice floor jack.   But I'm pretty giddy about today's bit of fun - which was an ad-hoc bit of shootin' [1] into a big pile of dirt [2].

We had two guys with a lot of experience with firearms  And me.  And none of us could shoot my wife's brand-new Taurus .38 for beans.

She put every shot either on the bull or real close.  

I'd love her anyway but the competence this woman applies to new situations and experiences is just awesome and makes me ... well not love her more but it's like having extra-tasty icing on a very awesome cake.

[1] What we'd  call in the Marines a familiarization fire: this is the gun, this is how you shoot it, we'll shoot it for score later.
[2] It's amazing what a guy can do when he owns a bulldozer.
[3] Me, I carefully aimed in on center mass ... and the bullet hole appeared four feet above the bull.   Which would prove I'm a terrible shot.  Which I am.  But just to demo - to myself - that I am not quite that bad, I put a full magazine from my new 10/22 right on the bull [4], and a tight group from our friend's .380 in the vicinity of the bull.
[4] This is not a big deal - I was 10 yards from the target.  See [1]

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Here's to Bill Bradford - a heckuva guy

Nearly a decade ago I found myself with an expired MCSE certificate [1], recent training as a Solaris Administrator and a new job as a system administrator at a place where Windows desktops were toys used for word processing and the Real Work was done on Solaris workstations and servers.

And I was the only IT guy.  Oh, I had a boss, and a peer, in Oregon.  I'd never met either one of them.  Pretty soon I re-discovered the wide gulf between a classroom training and a working system.

Bill Bradford's Geeks list, SunHELP were my lifeline.  Some really smart people were (are) on those lists.  They'd answer the lamest, most newb questions without any problems at all.  Got me right over the bump and onto the right track.

The company was later acquired, and things have really changed, but I'm more-or-less still there, ten years later.

So here's to Bill: whose hobby and passion aided me and got me on the track to where I am today.

[1] And no desire to renew the damned thing: certifications like the MCSE are a gold-mine for testing organizations, the vendor, lazy hiring managers, a sink-hole for everyone else.

Monday, February 15, 2010


The Army has officially discovered that the bad guys in Afghanistan travel light, like the high ground and prefer to engage 500 meters or more away from our rifles.

And also - oh you are not going to believe this - popping off a handful of rounds at pop-up targets 300 meters away on a level field does nothing to prepare a guy for shooting at dudes on top of a mountain 800 meters away.  Who would have thunk-it?

The author - MAJ Erhart - does have good solutions.  The doctrine bits are the best of the bunch.  The equipment ideas present logistic and training issues, but, hey, we're good at that kind of thing.

Some of what he wants ain't gonna fly: rebuilding ranges with terrain and computerized wonder gear and spotting cameras is going to be expensive and isn't nearly as sexy as a new fighter plane for the zoomies or a new warship so the Navy can re-fight World War II.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mm - bacon

This is a good dog.

A patient dog.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

If it's dumb and it works it's not a dumb idea

We're into the fourth day of the Great Government Shutdown.  And the country still chugs along doing whatever it is we do

For years we've paid farmers not to grow food.  Perhaps we could pay the government not to show up for work.

Call it an extended paid furlough.[1]  We pay them a salary and tell them to stay home.  Bump them up the GS scale on a regular basis.  Cost of living, you know. 

Sure, we're out the money for their salary and benefits.  But they're not busy making work, building empires, or thinking of more ways to tell the rest of us what to do.

So it's pretty much a win-win for everyone.

[1] There is precedent.  After San Jacinto, Sam Houston found himself with a horde of volunteers who hadn't seen any war, wanted to fight, and were getting all rowdy and mutinous and trying to restart the war he'd just won.  Houston solved the problem by giving the army a furlough and forgetting to call them back to active duty.  'Army .. oh we've got one somewhere.  Can't remember where we put it ... '

Are you a fugitive from justice?

I was reading the manual from Ruger for my new rifle. Half the book is warnings of some kind or another, many repeated. Not helpful warnings but


Like that.

There must be a few people out there who don't know better than to peer down the barrel of a rifle while pulling the trigger.  How do these people get to the store without getting run over by a bus?

You only think your data is secure

rt @lmacvittie @cswolf The nature of "Cloud" suggests asset location is irrelevant. Except for control, management, integration, costs...

@bdunbar How secure is it, really?

Not less secure than an a racked server sitting in your server room.

I've been doing this IT thing for a few years.  The number of actually secure data centers I have seen I could count on the fingers of one hand.

More common are servers racked in closets that might have a key lock.  And which probably had the door propped open to keep the space cool.  Spaces where you could pop a ceiling tile in the adjacent un-secure space and crawl into the same room with the machine.  One place where a bored tech on the 3rd shift tunneled under the raised floor and right into another companies server room next door. [1] 

If the data lives on equipment in the same building you might have a good guess as to how secure things are.  Across the street .. not so much.  If it's across town or across the country you have no idea, really.

Might as well shove it into the cloud if it will save some money.

[1] Which really livened things up on their 3rd shift when Jay strolled into their office inside the data center.  'Hi, I'm from next door and I was bored: how you guys doing?'

Were these plumbers supposed to be here this show?

Banging away in a terminal session ..

cd /nfs/long/complicated/path/

no such file or directory

Perhaps I have the sub-directory at the end wrong ..

cd /nfs/shorter/path/

no such file or directory


cd /nfs

no such file or directory

What I needed was the computer to look at me funny and say 'Hey dummy - your local desktop doesn't have NFS mounts'.

Title H/T

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Weasels ripped my flesh

My better-half is my editor and voice of wisdom and when she says 'hey bucko, don't publish that' .. well when she's right she's right.

Which is a darn shame. Because I had terrifically angry rant about a local tradesman, this graphic and the phrase 'sodomized without even the benefit of a reach around.

This is how it feels to deal with 1-2-3 Auto of Neenah, Wisconsin

Here is the bare-bones 'don't sue me' 'just the facts' 'not naming names' of the story: My daughter and her husband needed both of their cars repaired. A local mechanic said that he could fix one for about $500. He fixed it, for $1,267. The other car he estimated at $40. They could not do it, sent it to the dealer. The dealer called and the estimate is $200. Then another call and they estimated $600.

It sure feels like they got ripped off.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


Fred On Everything: angry and frustrated gringas

During the lead-up to the fall of Saigon, I went to the embassy for some reason (being then the Southeast Asian stringer for Army Times). The NVA was rapidly coming south and the city obviously was going to fall. Thousands of American men were still in Saigon with Vietnamese wives, legal or not, and often with families. State was puzzled that these men hadn't flown out, not understanding that men do not leave their wives and children in toppling Asian cities. Of Vietnamese women, I heard one of the embassy gals say, "I don't see how anybody could marry one of them." "Let's see," I thought. "The Viet women are smart, instinctively classy, feminine (consult your dictionary), don't bitch constantly, are beautiful, sexy, endlessly self-reliant, and tough without being masculine. Uh...what was the question, lady?"

Saturday, February 06, 2010

In Which I Have Words With Myself

Dear Dream Central,

The dream that ended with the alarm blaring in my ear was not a nice one at all.  No sir!

Opening the dream with a phone call from a nurse stating "Your wife's leukemia is in terminal stage four: she only has a few hours left" was a nasty bit of work and I do not thank you for that.

You keep that up and I'm going to have words with the management you can be sure of that.

I will allow that the reveal at the end that it was set aboard a 2001ish space station was slick - but shiny SF toys only go so far.


Friday, February 05, 2010

Close Enough for Governmenet Work!

It's only a mistake in pronunciation.

English is a tricky bitch that way.  Core, corps, corpse - they're all derived from the Latin corpus.  It's all the same difference, really.  We knew what he meant.

It was a good try.  And that is what counts.

You Tried!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Peanut-butter sandwiches with a side of nacho cheese

Daddy, I'm hungry.

I'm making dinner in a little bit.

But you're sick!

So is your Mom.  But she was up while I napped so now I'll make dinner while she rests.

No - you should both rest.  I'll make dinner!

Which, aw, that is so sweet and I love him for being so tender. 

But no way am I letting that ten-year old make dinner: we'll be eating peanut-butter sandwiches with a side of nacho cheese.

Monday, February 01, 2010

iPad McRanty Pants

Six months ago, I warned of the dystopian future that could be kicked off by the then rumored Apple tablet, and now my biggest fears are being realized. Please don’t underestimate the gravity of the situation. The unveiling of the Apple iPad could be the opening phase in a transition that could change the face of personal computing as we know it.

Well oh-my-god someone alert the authorities - we got us a situation here. 

Oh wait, don't.  The thesis is a load of krep.

Somehow - by means unspecified - Apple selling a sort-of-tablet sort-of-iPhone-but-bigger will lead to a future of nothing but  devices displaying content approved by the Evil Dark Lord of Cupertino.  I guess these will be teevees but .. smarter?  Sort of?

What is it about Apple [1] that makes some people completely loose their shit?

The wholesale abandonment of desktops will never-ever fly in the environment they were designed for and where they were born: work.  The micro that yesterday was running a BOM application on the floor can run accounting software tomorrow can crank out letters the day after.  We don't just like that kind of flexibility in the office, we require it. 

If you can buy a micro-computer for the office you'll be able to buy one for the house [2].  Can you really picture a Michael Dell saying 'Welp, there is all this demand but, golly, we're only gonna sell to bidness.  Sorry!'

What there is a demand for - and I suspect the iPad will handily fill - is the Mom computer.  All those Moms and Dads and Joes and Janes who need to watch video or do Facebook or send email but get endlessly frustrated dealing the kazillion problems a Windows PC has and have no interest in playing system administrator in their own house and get deservedly upset for having to pay some mope a few hundred bucks a shot to clean up malware and run defrag.

The cost of owning a computer is - for the average person - a huge time sink of money and time.  The face of personal computing not a friendly avuncular bloke but a friggin' John Wayne Gacy clown.

Change the face of personal computing?  Jam the noise.  Bring it on.

[1] And other topics.  And oh shit oh dear don't even bring up the vi vs. emacs thing.  Jeepers.
[2] And the Linux Jihad is safe.  Hooray.


In Which I am Comfortable with my weirdness

"You're getting silver in your hair," she said, brushing my temple with a loving caress.

"Just like Reed Richards," I exclaimed without thinking.

I love the way my brain works.