Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Means Carnage!

(Yes, I DID watch "Babe" this last week. How did you know?)

Okay, it wasn't on Christmas, but during my vacation last week. We have several bird and squirrel feeders in our back yard, and we're getting quite a variety of birds dropping by, including a small hawk or kestrel or something like that. Usually it just sits on the fence and behaves itself.

Last week it dropped by and sat a little closer to the house on one of our rock planter beds. We got out the binoculars and took advantage of the closer look. Then I noticed it had brought along some food. It took me a little while to figure out what it was. It didn't look much like what it once was anymore.

That turned my wife off immediately, and she scared it off. Fortunately it took its dinner with it. (Oh now look, Zazu! You made me lose my lunch!)

I went out later to clean up the area a bit, thinking the feathers would be a gruesome reminder my wife could do without when she went outside later to refill the feeders. There were a lot of feathers, and a few other surprising bits that I won't mention. Let's just say that today's title is apt enough, and I no longer disagree with my wife's declaration that it can do its feeding somewhere else. My "Respect For Nature" does not include turning my planter bed into a sacrificial alter.

It was a very striking, handsome bird, nonetheless. We'd be more than happy to admire it any time it wants to drop by. Just eat before you come, eh?

Fun Without Glasses!

What the bottle of shampoo said:
New! Richer lather!

What I (mis)read:
New! Richer father!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Partridge In A Big Pear Tree

It's got great harmonies! It's got great parodies! It's got good comedy(s)! It's Straight No Chaser doing "The Twelve Days of Christmas!"

Good stuff!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Vacation

As soon as I'm done with work today I'm on vacation for a week. I'd like to say I won't be back until next year, but I'll be back on New Year's Eve. That week counts as part of 2008 from the company's perspective, so if I take that monday off it'll come out of next year's vacation time. I'm trying to save up my time so we can take an extended vacation next year, so every day counts.

Today also happens to be my name day. Well, Tuomas' day, so it's close enough. Being the only one if the family without a Finnish name, we have to take what we can get. And what did I get? A nice, warm hat for my dancing, dining, and dog-walking pleasure. And with the winds we get around her sometimes, trust me, it'll be a pleasure. I don't care for cold ears.

We finally got some decent snow up on the mountains. It's still bare and brown down here in the valley, though. Since I won't have to go to work in it, I'd love nothing better than a good snowstorm sometime next week. Chances aren't particularly good, though. That's the trouble with living here. If this were California then you'd know not to expect snow. But here, there's always a chance. It could snow, and it could stick long enough to be worth something.

In fact my very first Christmas here it snowed six inches. It was beautiful! We've had nothing close to that ever since, and certainly not for Christmas. Oh well. On the bright side I shovel walks maybe twice a year. And considering that our house has sidewalks on two sides, plus a triple-size driveway, that's not a small bonus.

Anyway, in case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!

Wait, no--Happy Holiday! Enjoy whatever time off you get!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More Fun With Headlines


"Nickelodeon considers teen pregnancy special"

Yes, I'm sure being a pregnant teen is special. Not desirable, probably, but special!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

All-American Girl

My oldest son to his (blue-eyed) sister over breakfast this morning:
"Your eyes are red, white, and blue!"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Watching What You Eat

I don't usually get involved in animal testing issues. I'm not completely sure we can do without it in critical situations. But I have no problem denouncing the animal testing conducted by M&M/Mars. They're not doing it to ensure public safety. They're not doing it to meet government requirements. They're doing it...just to see what claims they can make about chocolate. Like people need more reasons to buy chocolate. I can easily live without M&Ms and Snickers, thanks.

Hershey's has already banned animal testing, by the way. Which is fortunate, because I really love Reese's and Kit Kat. Go Hersheys!

In other news, I'm reading "The DaVinci Code". Yes, at long last. I'm probably the last person in America.

I'm mixed. The story is interesting enough. I mainly just get irritated with the way the author tells the story. Any sense of suspense is created by telling you that one of the characters knows something important--and then not just failing to tell you what it is, but bending over backward not to tell you what it is.

It's the adult literary version of that annoying girl in the third grade who would come up to you and say, "I've got a secret and I'm not tellin'! Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah!"

Not a single bit of suspense comes from the plot itself. At no time are we all that concerned with what will happen. We are made to only care about what has already happened that we're just not being told. And the writer goes to great lengths to set these little "gems" up.

For example, at one point we're given a flashback episode between the hero and his editor as they discuss the draft of his latest book. The editor goes on and on about how controversial "this" is, yet manages to never come out and define "this." The scene comes off awkwardly, as any normal person would have have come right out and said it rather than the strained dance we get.

A little bit of this is fine. A lot of this is annoying. An entire third of a book (and no signs of slowing) of this is insulting--to both the reader AND the author. It's as if he doesn't trust in his plot enough to treat us as equals and lay it all out for us and trust us to come along willingly. "If you knew what I knew you'd stop reading, therefore I won't tell you."

Indeed, the plot itself seems contrived. When I last stopped the heroes had just escaped the police with the help of someone who would normally have no reason to help them, but just happened to be an old friend of one of them's father. He's willing to jeopardize his career and his life to defy the French equivalent of the FBI because...well, the girl said she was innocent.

I get the idea that the writer is either telling the wrong story or just doesn't know how to tell one at all. The back plot is more interesting than the main plot. His characters can be incredibly bright one moment and incredibly stupid the next. Not that I care at all for his characters, either. They're flat. The only one with any hope for depth is the murderous albino monk.

I'm only a third of the way in, so perhaps things will get better. But this constant diet of dangling and withholding is getting old. I'm listening to this in the car on the way to work, so it's not like I have something better to do with the time. I'm sure I'll finish it regardless, but I probably won't pick up another Dan Brown novel any time soon.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Don't Look, Marion! Don't Look!

I'm not familiar with Jennifer Love Hewitt or her work. I can't say if I find her attractive or not. But I can say this much: Good for her. Who says, assuming she's even fat at all and not just victim of a bad picture or has wide hips, that she's obligated to be skinny for the cameras? Who says she has to be subjected to ridicule if she's put on weight?

Obviously the real story is that people think she should be skinny and she's not. Pardon me if I fail to get excited. She hasn't punched anyway, swindled anyone, done drugs, called anyone a bad name, driven drunk...she's gained some weight (if she's even done that!).

Until that's a crime, shut up already.

They say that men are keeping women down. It's not men reading these magazines, ladies. You're doing it to yourselves.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Attack of the LOLCats

There are various sites out there for amusing pictures of cats and other animals. This is one of them:
Funny Pictures
moar funny pictures from I Can Has

Or this...
funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Sunday, December 02, 2007

That's What It's All About

Actually, I don't know what it's all about. But I suspect carrying a tooth in a tissue in your suitcoat pocket all through church because your daughter lost it during Sacrament Meeting is included in there somewhere.

I'm also betting the Hokey-Pokey isn't even mentioned.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Web Game Festival Gate Bible Earth School

Today's title comes from some spam I just received. I'm not sure what they teach at the Web Game Festival Gate Bible Earth School, but I'm rather curious to find out. Not curious enough to open the email, though, I guess.

Am I alive? Yes. Do I have anything worth posting about? Not really. Does that bother you? Probably not.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Last night I pulled out my copy of Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories" and tried reading it to the kids. Emma and Walter loved it, and it put Richard to sleep. I remember my mother reading us stories from the book when I was a kid, so it was fun to see the kids enjoy it too. The circle is now complete.

One of the most fun was "How the Leopard Got His Spots". That's the one that I most remember. The line "sit on his head 'til morning" found its way into the family canon and gets quoted frequently. Many other lines jumped out as forgotten favorites, such as "He who takes cakes that the Parsee-man bakes makes big mistakes!"

Emma liked the book so much she asked to take it to bed with her so she could read it. My job here is done!

After the kids went to bed I watched some more Babylon 5, followed by part of Ken Burns' "The War" on PBS. And interesting pairing, really. Both shows deal with the realities of war on both a macro and micro level. It's one thing to look back on WWII from sixty-plus years later and judge what happened by today's standards. It's another thing altogether to experience it from the perspect of those who were there.

Take the decision to use the A-bomb. It's easy to criticize now, looking back across decades of the Cold War, Mutually-Assured Destruction, and the current threat of rogue nukes and dirty bombs. But at the time the only alternative that they could see was an invasion of Japan itself at the cost of millions of lives.

None of the regular troops or the civilian population even knew the bomb existed at that point. When suddenly two of them were dropped and the Japanese surrendered I'm certain they felt immense relief at having avoided a fight that would have made everything that had gone before it seem like a barroom brawl. And what had gone before it hadn't been at all easy. Just taking a single island cost more lives than the entire Iraq War to date.

I can't imagine very many people then seeing the A-bomb as a bad thing. Of course they couldn't see what was coming. But while we're enjoying the blessing of hindsight, we should also consider that we survived the Cold War. In spite of our low opinions of ourselves and human nature, the A-bomb was the first and last nuke used in war. It saved many more lives than it took.

Anyway, what our nation achieved in WWII was nothing short of miraculous. That our men and women faced that trial, slogging through unimaginable horrors, and returned home to resume largely normal lives speaks volumes.

I've only seen bits and pieces of "The War". I'm not sure I want to see all of it.

But I probably should.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Odd Movies

I watched "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" last night. It's one of those movies that I've been meaning to watch for years but never quite got around to. Until I found my brother had it, that is. I borrowed it from him, and last night I finally had enough time to watch it.

I found it...vaguely disappointing. Visually it's a masterpiece reminiscent of Miyazaki. The design work is great. The acting is...well, better than you realize. Considering that most of the time the actors are reacting to stuff that isn't there, they do a superlative job.

But the characters themselves are flat and uninteresting. Gwyneth Paltrow looks great in retro clothing, just as I expected. Jude Law looks...well, let's just say I wouldn't turn down outfits like the ones he wore. But other than that, they just didn't do anything for me. I think I cared more about Lex than Joe or Polly--and I didn't care that much about him, either.

The writing and editing were bad. So bad, in fact, that I can't help but think it's done on purpose in homage to...something. And therein lies the problem. Homage only works if the audience if familiar with the genre being...homaged? Homagiated? I'd say it's probably homage to the old serials of the 1930's and 40's, but I've never seen them. And there is no way they could have even approached the EFX this movie has. If anything I think this may be homage to old radio plays, as a listener's imagination is the only medium that could have accommodated this kind of story.

The plot was little more than a shell, really. We were never given more than the briefest of exposition, and there were many, many places where more was needed--not just wanted, but needed.

All in all, the movie is comparable to the character Polly Perkins: Gorgeous, but not much substance. And I think that's why I struggle with this movie. It's not often that I simultaneously love and hate the same work of art.

I referenced Miyazaki (aren't I the cultural snob!) before, and in hindsight the reference is more apt than I realized. I've only seen one of his movies, "Howl's Moving Castle", and it was beautiful. But unlike in "Sky Captain", the characters were developed. There was a lot of background information glossed over, and not much exposition, but I think Miyazaki shows more skill at knowing what to explain and what to just let "be".

Visually, however, they have a lot in common--though I also rate Miyazaki higher for attention to detail. They both provide spectacle in the best sense of the word. The British flying aircraft carriers were impressive, and one of the best moments of geeky pleasure came when the British aircraft slipped their propellers from front to back to switch from airplane to submarine mode. It, okay?

So yeah. Good movie. Bad movie. Unsatisfying in that they did such a good job on some things that surely they could have done a better job on the rest of it. Oh well, it was worth everything I paid for it. (Thanks, Bro!)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Jinkies, Scooby!

I ran across this history quiz online today. I got a 90%! I guess I've retained more than I would have thought--though I admit that had it not been multiple choice I'd have gotten most of them wrong. Still, I didn't expect to do THAT well.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ghost Town

It would appear I'm the only one on my team in the office this morning. We did a big, nasty upgrade to our system over the weekend. Or I should really say "they". I'm not a technical person, so there wasn't much I could do

Our system was supposed to be online by start of business this morning. We made it, but only with about three hours to spare. The original schedule was to be done by noon yesterday.

IT is an odd business. It seems we're always dealing with complex systems that we don't fully understand and can't predict. We give optimistic estimates, then kill ourselves to beat the deadline.

Part of the problem is the nature of business. We simply can't be without important systems for more than couple days. We were already soliciting grumbles when we took the system down on a Thursday. If we'd asked for a few more days to make sure we did it all right we'd have been lynched. If we'd not have made the deadline this morning we'd have been lynched. And if we'd decided to bail out and go back to the old system it would be a month at the earliest before we'd get another chance. I sit like a nerd in the wilderness, waiting for the others to come. And praying nothing major goes wrong this morning before everyone else regains consciousness.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Which Is It?

My local paper is predicting economic doom and gloom. Meanwhile, this article is pointing to our solid GDP figures and near-record unemployment as signs that everything is just fine.

I know which one I prefer to believe.

And not to make light of the mortgage woes right now, but I have a hard time feeling sorry for either side. The mortgage companies shouldn't have been offering easy money on confusing terms. The consumers should have been paying more attention. To bail either side out only encourages more of the same. People sometimes need to get hit over the head with something to learn their lesson.

So pardon me if I'm not jumping at the chance to have the government spend my taxes to bail out someone who should have known better. I live below my means. I was careful about the terms of my mortgage when we moved two years ago. We bought less of a house than the mortgage company told us we could afford because I asked questions, did my own thinking, and knew my financial limits.

Perhaps I'm just weird. Perhaps I'm just old-fashioned. Perhaps I'm hopelessly out of touch. I think I need some government money to help me get back into touch. ;-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Age of Enlightenment

I love Babylon 5. It's great sci-fi. And sometimes it's just great story-telling, period. Like the episode I watched last night, "Passing Through Gethsemane."

The premise of the story is that in the future (2260 AD) the human race has found a better alternative to capital punishment. Convicted murderers are sentenced to a "death of personality" wherein telepaths wipe your memories and personality and then reconstruct a new identity and personality for you, along with a strong desire to serve humanity in some way. You're then started over as an entirely different person in a new life somewhere away from those who might know your victim(s). No one has to kill the killer, they pay their debt by service to society, and you don't have to worry about rehabilitation--they're no longer a threat to anyone.

The more I think about it, though, the more I think this solution is actually worse than capital punishment--for the criminal. Think about it. What if the standard punishment for murder today was not only your death, but your body would be harvested for organs, your body preserved via taxidermy, loaded with surveillance gear (camera eyes, microphone ears, and a transmitter) and then rigged to be used as a pose-able mannequin. They'd dress you in a police uniform and stand you in various places for crowd control while some desk jockey monitors the situation via remote feed. Or, if the technology is good enough, use you for a remote control bomb robot.

I think people would be screaming "cruel and unusual punishment" in no time.

But that's essentially what they're suggesting in this futuristic scenario. The criminal as they were known would be dead, even though their body would still be alive. What made them "them" would be gone forever. Meanwhile, they place an artificial "soul" in the body and turn it loose to serve society in some manner. Sure, the new personality may be likable, life-like, creative, funny, whatever, but the reality is that it's only purpose for existing is to serve. They're going to both kill you and make you an unwitting slave at the same time.

It reminds me of the old joke about the cannibal that captures three friends and tells each of them "I'm going to cut your throat, eat your meat, and use your skin for my canoe." Killing them isn't good enough. They have to keep paying and paying.

I'm sorry, but that doesn't sound terribly enlightened to me.

What cracks me up, however, is the brief exchange between the chief of security and an alien ambassador early in the show. The security chief suggests that a mass murderer should be executed, and admits that he's an "eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth kind of guy." The alien ambassador replies with the lame and predictable "But that would leave everyone blind and toothless".

It's lame enough by itself, but this is coming from a Minbari. This is the alien race that, when their leader is killed by humans in a misunderstanding, declares a war of extinction against Earth (declared by this same ambassador, incidentally). This is the race that tries several times during the series to kill or provoke a war with a human officer who managed to destroy their flagship during the resulting war. This is the same ambassador who later on, when an alien race attempts to ambush her fleet, flees out of reach and then turn around and destroys the enemy fleet to teach them a lesson.

Superior Minbari morality? I'm just not seeing it. Sorry. Can the lectures, lady.

In spite of all this I love the episode. The heart of the show centers around a serial killer who has suffered the "death of personality" and been rebuilt as a benedictine-ish monk with no memory of his former life. He is loved and respected on the space station where he now lives, and has befriended the station's commander.

But the families of his victims don't feel that the "death of personality" is punishment enough for what he did. They manage to track him down, get a telepath to restore his memories, and then corner and kill him (well, one of them does--the rest lose their nerve). His killer is then taken, tried, and suffers his own "death of personality." The station's commander finds himself at the end of the episode having to decide whether he can forgive the person who killed his friend--a person who killed his friend because he himself could not forgive.

It's neat little piece circular moral logic, and an amazingly deep story beyond what I've related. The ex-murder-monk is played by the well-cast Brad Dourif. It's an amazing piece of writing, and a great stand-alone story in its own right. There are so many facets to the story that it can leave a person thinking for a good, long time.

Heavy Fog

We're having the outside of our house painted. The painter got started yesterday and prepped half the house. We now have plastic over the windows on two sides, which takes some getting used to. It's like living in a fogbank.

When it's done the house will look...well, the same, only better. We liked the color scheme before, but the paint was wearing thin in places.

Fortunately the weather is cooperating so far. Yesterday was in the 60's, and today may hit the 70's.

Our painter is from Ukraine and is a rather likable fellow. His kids ride the same bus as our oldest (which is how we found out about him--his son deserves a commission), so they all live just up the street from us. After school his kids come over and play with our kids while they all watch dad at work. We wouldn't mind building a friendship out of this, really. His kids are well-behaved, and they seem like a nice family.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Volunteerism Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris

Well, my homeowners association meeting is over. I spent the better part of the day yesterday either getting ready for it or holding it. The turnout was somewhat disappointing. I'd hoped to at least get 30-40 people, but we had around 15. For all the advertising we did I had really hoped for more. Oh well, more cookies for us.

On the other hand, it was a more positive meeting than some previous meetings have been. Those who came seemed genuinely pleased with my efforts so far and feel that my newsletters have been making a difference. I even got several volunteers to be on the architectural committee. Many of the suggestions that came up were positive and do-able. And for a cold, rainy day in October, getting that many people was probably a good effort.

But considering the impact on our day, I'm not sure I'm in a big hurry to hold another meeting.

I did a little research on homeowners associations today. The Wikipedia entry really brought out some of the bad points. I'd like to think I'm a good choice for HOA president, as many of the abuses by presidents and boards it listed would never have occurred to me. I'd like to think I have a genuine interest in making the neighborhood a better place for everyone. I'm certainly not doing this for some sort of power-trip.

Anyway, I think we're making progress. If I can do a good job of marketing and publicity I think many of the problems will take care of themselves.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hardly Working

I've got a new project at work, and I think it's stressing me out. It's big--really big. And of enterprise proportions. And it requires me to call a lot of people I've never spoken to--many of them fairly high level. It's enough to put an introvert like me into a psychosomatic tizzy.

At the same time, I have to admit it's been a lot of fun. I'm learning lots of information about how our company works and how it's structured. I'm learning that the business problem we're trying to solve is both more simple and more complicated than I originally thought.

This project scares me. It's also pretty exciting stuff. I'm also very ready for a weekend.

Too bad the weekend includes me running a homeowners association meeting. The weather is not going to cooperate. I don't know whether to wish for no one to show up or for record numbers. I think I mainly just wish it were over.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Gathering Around the Wireless

Did I mention that my mother-in-law is visiting? Well, she is. And she brought her laptop. After trying unsuccessfully to get it to network with our computer so she can access her internet mail I decided to try using the wireless aspects of our DSL router. It would be a sacrifice, as one we activate that function we can't access the internet through our own home computer. Or so I thought.

It turns out it works just fine, so both our computers are up and running. Then, with a little help from guys at work I figured out how to get my work laptop to access the wireless as well. So now we're all able to use computers without fighting over the internet connection.

I know, that's so "last year". Wireless networks at home are about as exciting as watching Elmers Glue run down a board. Well it's exciting to me!

We're most definitely into Autumn now, and it's glorious. Crisp, clear days interspersed with windy, rainy evenings. It's everything I love about Fall, and it almost looks as if it will stay around awhile.

The kids have built a leaf pile. We have a plethora of pumpkins. I'm wearing jackets to work, but wondering why by the time I come home. It's simply marvelous.

Have I ever mentioned Autumn is my favorite season?

I visited my mother over the weekend. She needed her basement cleaned out so the exterminator can come, so my older brother and I drove over together to help out. It was a good chance to catch up and chat about things. The conversation on the way home got quite serious, talking about some pretty deep stuff and delving into the past in ways we've never really done before. It was downright therapeutic.

I'm having to get used to the idea of my nieces being grownups. They're even acting grown up. Our family dynamic is morphing right before my eyes. I'm not sure what it's becoming or if I should even be concerned. It's just...changing.

I'm still my Momma's little boy. I don't think that will ever change.

More Bad News From Iraq

"As violence falls in Iraq, cemetery workers feel the pinch"

Call your congressman immediately. We must put a stop to this. Oh wait, Iraq is protesting against our congress.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

In The Midst of the Mist

We had a hearty rain yesterday, followed by cool temperatures overnight. Authentic Autumn weather. This morning a layer of mist hung over every field and large yard, and I could see a ribbon of fog in the distance where the river runs. Romantic stuff. Too bad I was on my way to work.

I'm getting ready for a trip this weekend. My younger brother has asked me to bring my Babylon 5 DVDs, so I'm cruising through them hoping to get them all watched before I hand them over. My DVD player has a cool feature (probably most do, really) that allows you to watch something at twice the speed and still hear everything being said--most of the time clearly. It makes everything go faster, which is initially unnerving, but not so much that you can't get used to it. Compressing a 46-minute show into 23 minutes really helps you cram a lot of episodes into a single night.

I finished them last night, which may give me a chance to go back and watch a few for the commentary tracks. There are not many, perhaps two or three per season, but I always find the ones by producer/director/writer J. Michael Straczinsky to offer a fascinating glimpse into his mind. The ones with cast members offer some interesting behind-the-scenes views, but not much discussion about the plot itself, which is what grabs me most.

In the mean time, I didn't plan this very well. I don't have Season Three yet, so I guess I'll be taking a bit of a break for awhile.

Book 'Em, Dano!

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Fad Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Interesting, though I have to admit that without audiobooks I'd probably rate a lot lower.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Deep Thoughts

Quote for the day:
Some people are like Slinkys. They aren't really good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when they're pushed down the stairs.

Friday, September 28, 2007

It's Debatable

I ran across this recent article pointing out Al Gore's reluctance to engage in public debate about Global Warming. I'm not going to pick on Gore for that. How he chooses to spread his message is his own business. However, buried at the end of the article was an interesting paragraph:
Gore's reluctance to go toe-to-toe with global warming skeptics may have something to do with the - from the standpoint of climate change alarmists - unfortunate outcome of a global warming debate in New York last March. In the debate, a team of global warming skeptics composed of MIT scientist Richard Lindzen, University of London emeritus professor of biogeology Philip Stott, and physician-turned novelist/filmmaker Michael Crichton handily defeated a team of climate alarmists headed by NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt. Before the start of the nearly two-hour debate, the audience of several thousand polled 57.3 percent to 29.9 percent in favor of the proposition that global warming is a "crisis." At the end of the debate, the numbers had changed dramatically, with 46.2 percent favoring the skeptical point of view and 42.2 percent siding with the alarmists.

Evidently there IS still room for debate.

The Big Story That Isn't

Early this month Israel launched an attack against Syria.
On September 6, Israeli Air Force F-15 and F-16s conducted a devastating attack on targets deep inside Syria near the city of Dayr az-Zawr. Israel's military censors have muzzled the Israeli media, enforcing an extraordinary silence about the identity of the targets.

Considering that everything Israel does is front-page news, let alone an aggressive act, this story is amazingly quiet. And, perhaps more important, according to an article by Dr. Jack Wheeler is who besides the press is silent: Syria.
Why would the Syrian government be so tight-lipped about an act of war perpetrated on their soil? The first half of the answer lies in this story that appeared in the Israeli media last month (8/13): Syria's Antiaircraft System Most Advanced In World. Syria has gone on a profligate buying spree, spending vast sums on Russian systems, 'considered the cutting edge in aircraft interception technology.' ... While you're digesting that, take a look at the map of Syria: Notice how far away Dayr az-Zawr is from Israel. An F15/16 attack there is not a tiptoe across the border, but a deep, deep penetration of Syrian airspace. And guess what happened with the Russian super-hyper-sophisticated cutting edge antiaircraft missile batteries when that penetration took place on September 6th. Nothing.

El blanko. Silence. The systems didn't even light up, gave no indication whatever of any detection of enemy aircraft invading Syrian airspace, zip, zero, nada. The Israelis (with a little techie assistance from us) blinded the Russkie antiaircraft systems so completely the Syrians didn't even know they were blinded. Now you see why the Syrians have been scared speechless.

He goes on to note that Iran is nervous:
On Monday (9/17), a government website proclaimed that '600 Shihab-3 missiles' will be fired at targets in Israel in response to an attack upon Iran by the US/Israel. ... This was followed by Iranian deputy air force chief Gen. Mohammad Alavi announcing today (9/19) that 'we will attack their (Israeli) territory with our fighter bombers as a response to any attack.' A sure sign of panic is to make a threat that everyone knows is a bluff. So our and Tel Aviv's response to Iranian bluster is a thank-you-for-sharing yawn and a laugh. Few things rattle the mullahs' cages more than a yawn and a laugh.

It would be very interesting if the beginning of the end of the Iran Problem was so subtle that most of us missed it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Impersonal Life

It occurred to me that I live a very insulated life. Most of my friends are online, and nearly all I've never met. Most of the people I interact with at work work in other buildings or other cities. When I come home I pull straight into the garage and seldom see my neighbors.

In short, many of the people who hold important roles in my life are little more than voices on the phone or posts on a chatboard. My circle of friends spans the nation and globe, living and working in places I may never see.

A hundred years ago most people never met anyone from outside their town, and yet they knew nearly everyone there personally. It is a strange and wonderful world.

Someone I never met but admired greatly died yesterday. Someone who has never really existed for me outside my own head is gone. The hole he leaves is real.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sci-Fi Meets IT

I'm currently reading "Xenocide" by Orson Scott Card. In it they discover that an intelligent entity has somehow gained life while living among the faster-than-light communications connections throughout the galaxy. A major plot point revolves around an 80-day deadline before all the computers in the the network are taken offline and replaced with completely new computers in an effort to eliminate this entity.

Maybe I've been in IT too long, but this sounds to me like a recipe for disaster. I guess 3000 years in the future they'll have ironed out all the bugs in IT services, but I can't even begin to imagine the complexities and risks involved in doing such a widescale change-over. There's bound to be at least one screw up where someone bring the new computer online too soon or the removes the old one too late.

And then there's the impact to the galactic economy of having everything go down for several days and then brought up with only manual data input allowed thereafter. But we won't go into that.

I know, if you're going to read sci-fi you need to suspend disbelief--and believe me, in this book that's the least of your worries there--but it did just strike me as funny that they were so confident that this complicated, high-risk system swapout would go without any problems. Ah, the future!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Necrophiliac Sheiks!

Headline from
"Iraq sheik working with U.S. Slain"

Conjurs all sorts of images, not the least of which involves a sheik working with U.S. slain as an artistic medium. Or as part of a comedy duo: "He's a little dead, but I can work with him. He'll be my straight-man."

Anyway, it's been a bit of a crazy week. I've been on call for jury duty and trying to still get work done this week. Yesterday I was placed on standby--I went to work, then called in at 9:45 to see if they'd need me. They did, and I had to be at the courthouse by 10:30. I was part of the pool from which they selected a jury for a DUI case. I wasn't picked, and was far enough back in the line-up that I was never a serious consideration for a spot. Just as well, though it might have been an interesting experience.

The lady who was a member of MADD, didn't drink, had bad experiences with friends/family who did drink, and felt that policemen were more reliable witnesses than the average citizen was specifically requested to be dismissed. Who'd have seen that coming?

Anyway, because I was part of the original jury pool I'm excused for the rest of the week. I guess we'll try again in another three years.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where Were You...

James Lileks is asking the question today.

I was at work. I'd just barely arrived and was settling in for the morning when I could hear the television on rather loudly in the conference room through the wall. After a few minutes it became evident that it was not some training video turned up extra loud, so I got curious. I wandered over to see what was going on.

I was not prepared for what I saw on the television. The first tower had already fallen, and the second was about to fall. We were under attack. I watched for awhile and then wandered back to my desk. I called my wife and talked to her about it for a while. A co-worker was listening to radio coverage and repeated the report that there were carbombs being set off all over Manhattan.

I called my wife. I don't recall what we said. I don't recall much about the day after that, other than an ex-marine in our company jokingly calling "Allahu Akbahr" or however it goes. I thought it in rather poor taste, but didn't bother to point it out. It didn't really matter.

That night my wife and I went out to dinner. It was our anniversary, and we were not about to drop out plans. The up-side was that we nearly had the restaurant to ourselves.

It's six years later and it's still our anniversary. I don't want to make light of what happened six years ago, but as grave as that day was, it's the event eight years ago I prefer to dwell on. Our 9-11 makes The 9-11 all that more poignant. It's the anniversary of the day when I suddenly had so much more to lose.

It's been an amazing eight years. Thank you, sweetheart!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Done...Done Done Done!

I finally finished the playhouse last night. Two coats of primer and a top coat. Meanwhile my wife has donated a tablecloth and a floral centerpiece to the endeavour, and it's starting to look quite cozy! She's debating making curtains next. Fortunately that one doesn't require me. I'm so far behind on my to-do list that I'll never catch up at this rate.

It's a long weekend again--just long enough to make you wish for more. We've got nothing particularly special planned. Just getting things done. After all, isn't that how you celebrate Labor Day? With labor?

At any rate, the week is nearly over, and that is perfectly fine by me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Seinfeld Post (A post about nothing)

I should post something. There's not much to talk about, but I should post. The playhouse walls have a third coat of paint now, so that project is nearly done finally. Labor Day weekend is coming up, but we're not doing anything much. Just housework, yardwork, and plant buying from the nursery Fall specials.

We bought me a new suit last weekend, which won't be ready until next week. It's the first new suit I've had in...yikes, ten to fifteen years? We first tried a department store, but not only did they not provide any service, but the suits just didn't sit right. We went somewhere else, and I'm glad we did.

We like to find small businesses that really deserve our business. We found one. Petersen's Clothing. The gentleman really bent over backwards to find me just the right suit, explaining the features, and making sure it would hide pet hair (a major concern) as well as possible. I'm getting a very nice suit that is well suited (no pun intended) to me. It looks and feels great. And I feel good about giving this guy our money. He earned it.

Autumn is in the air, but Summer is not going without a fight. We're still getting up into the 90's during the day, but down into the 40's at night now. The first tree on our street has changed color. It's coming! I'm looking forward to it. Autumn is like an old friend to me.

Tonight my wife uttered the words that should strike fear into the heart of most men: Honey, will you cut my hair?

I did. It looks...not bad! She's happy. She looks great! Life is good.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Parental Bias

It's both a blessing and a curse that parents are biased toward their children. It is difficult for us to see them objectively, to see them as others see them. We tend to focus on the behavioral problem they're exhibiting at the moment and not the unique talents they're developing. We remember the temper tantrum much longer than the impromptu hug and declaration of affection.

We're convinced that our children are the only ones who (mis)behave this way, and we're mortified that someone outside the family might see it. We react with pride mixed with disbelief when someone approaches us to tell us how wonderful our children are. We're glad they think so, but we wonder if they are really paying attention.

Instead it's probably we who are not paying attention. Or perhaps just me. Perhaps everyone gets it already and I'm the only slow one.

This morning I came upstairs to find my middle child in the hallway upstairs. From my vantage point down the hall and down a flight of stairs I was for a moment able to see him with a stranger's eyes. He is a cute little boy with a enthusiastic sparkle in his eyes. For a moment I wanted to run to him, gather him in my arms and hold him tight.

I didn't. But I probably should have. There may not be too many years left in which he'll let me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Odd Juxtapositions

I was in a meeting at work today with someone from our infrastructure team. He related some of his experiences as a techie in the military to explain why he is so passionate about standardizing processes. Part of his job was to design network setup processes so that "during an assault if 80% of my people get killed I could still get the network up and running."

The idea of setting up computer networks under fire just struck me as odd, though in light of how today's military runs, I suppose it makes perfect sense.

Still, talk about your hardcore IT! Adds a whole new perspective on "excessive turnover."

Apocalyptic Moose

This one is just too good to pass up:

The poor old Scandinavian moose is now being blamed for climate change, with researchers in Norway claiming that a grown moose can produce 2,100 kilos of methane a year -- equivalent to the CO2 output resulting from a 13,000 kilometer car journey.

That's a lot of moose flatulence! This also makes me think twice about vacationing in Norway. Or at least about using an open flame.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cat Behaving Badly

I realize this makes about as un-American as a person can get, but I really, really think it is time Garfield retired. The comic is simply not funny anymore. It hasn't been in years. It's so predictable that there's no need to print the last one or two frames. No really! Take today's strip for example:

Frame 1: Jon and Liz are at an aquarium (Hah! You already know where this is going, don't you!)
Frame 2: Liz comments that the rare fish in the tank before them must be hiding.
Frame 3: Take a wild guess who shows up having done what.

So predictable. So not funny. Not even the fact that Garfield wore a scuba outfit.

In fact there are only so many Garfield strips, which get repeated over and over again:
- Garfield is rude/violent toward Odie
- Garfield is rude/violent to ward Jon
- Garfield eats all of something
- Garfield is lazy
- Something slightly odd happens while Garfield watches, usually ending with Garfield killing the instigator

I did have some hope when Jon and Liz started getting serious lately. But nope, it generally the same strip, only with Jon and Liz witnessing Garfield's latest depravity.

Surely there is something better out there that deserves the spot this strip is hanging onto out of pure nostalgia (and because Garfield collectables still, inexplicably, provide lots of income).

Kill the cat! Please!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday And Feeling Fine

In light of my last several posts I should probably go on record as saying "I'm happy!" No, really!

Of course it probably helps that it's Friday. I was teasing people earlier this week about "Monday the 13th," insisting that THAT is the day you have to watch out for. Friday the 13th could never be a bad day because...well, because it's Friday!

But on top of that, after a bit of a rough week at work I'm starting to feel like a "really useful engine" again. It always helps when I have something tangible to show for my work, like maybe I'm really getting something done.

So what's on the agenda for the weekend? Gaming tonight with friends, The Fair tomorrow with the family, Date Night with my wife, and a moderately-relaxing Sunday. Sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

And finally:
What am I...
...reading: Nothing at the moment, but I just finished "A Beautiful Mind" by Sylvia Nassar. I can't recommend it, but don't feel it was a waste, either. While I can be sad about John Nash's mental illness and what he lost out on because of it, I had a hard time caring about him as a human being. There didn't seem to be much recommend him as a human before his illness, while he seemed much more likable after it.

...doing: Ignoring the playhouse, fighting a losing battle against squash bugs, and enjoying a greener lawn.

...wishing for: Sequencing software and a good collection of sounds--I really want to compose something.

...dreading: Writing test scripts and reverse-engineering system specifications at work.

...never getting around to: Washing the cars

...grateful for: A wife who loves me, three kids who forgive me, two cats who tolerate me, and a dog who truly appreciates attention. And a house big enough for all of us.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Harold, I'm Not Content."

(Hat Tip: Dr. Helen) A study in Great Britain has concluded that men from 35-44 are the least happy of any age group:

Whether they are mourning the passing of their prime or struggling to cope with the demands of a job and young family, those aged 35-44 invariably hit a mid-life crisis when their happiness level plunges lower than at any other age, according to a study for the Government.

It makes them the least satisfied members of society, scoring well below teenagers, the elderly - and women of all ages.

Researchers found that it takes men until they reach the age of 65 to start enjoying life as much as they did in their late-teens and early-20s.

Well, that's...depressing. And to be honest, I can't say it's not true.

Smooth Criminal

I'm serious here when I say that I'm tired of people considering me worse than Hitler because I don't completely buy the Global Warming consensus. If this is a scientific fact, then why is it not open to healthy, scientific skepticism? Instead, I get this:

At the Live Earth concert in New Jersey last month, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. denounced climate-change skeptics as "corporate toadies" for "villainous" enemies of America and the human race. "This is treason," he shouted, "and we need to start treating them now as traitors."

Some environmentalists and commentators have suggested that global-warming "denial" be made a crime, much as Holocaust denial is in some countries. Others have proposed that climate-change dissidents be prosecuted in Nuremberg-style trials. The Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen has suggested that television meteorologists be stripped of their American Meteorological Society certification if they dare to question predictions of catastrophic global warming.

A few weeks ago, the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Marlo Lewis published an article opposing mandatory limits on carbon-dioxide emissions, arguing that Congress should not impose caps until the technology exists to produce energy that doesn't depend on carbon dioxide. In response to Lewis's reasonable piece, the president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, Michael Eckhart, issued a threat:

"Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America."

Oh yes, I SO want to throw in with these guys. Let's all get on our high horses and have us an old-fashioned pogrom! Dontcha know them Global Warming Denialists make a pretty good bonfire?! Hey, what should you throw a drowning Global Warming Denialist?! His wife and kids!! Oh, we're so funny!

People get on the conservatives for trying to legislate morality. I don't see how this is any difference. These people want to intimidate nature into compliance with their world view. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. In true science there is always room for skepticism.

These people above seem to forget that there was once a time when questioning religious beliefs was considered treason, a criminal act, and subject to death. Had we allowed the same reaction they're calling for we would still believe the flat earth is the center of the universe, and that anyone studying astronomy should be burned.

The more things change the more they stay the same. If you were wanting to bring me over to your way of thinking you might have considered NOT declaring war on me first. Now I'm tempted to close my mind as tightly as you have yours. What's the point of studying it out for myself? You've already decided that if I don't just blindly accept everything you say I'm worthy of death. Thank you. And in 20 - 50 years if we don't see any of the predicted signs, can I put YOU to death? Please? It's only fair!

And before you answer that, you're wonderful scientific certainty already declared that a natural consequence of global warming is an increase in the number and severity of hurricanes. That didn't happen, so suddenly you find a NEW study that says "uh, actually Global Warming will result in FEWER hurricanes."

How much more of your theory is based on such shaky science? You're willing to kill me over this, so make good and sure you really, really know what you're talking about.

Friday, August 10, 2007


It would seem that 1998 was NOT the warmest year on record after all. NASA has revised its figures:

"NASA has now silently released corrected figures, and the changes are truly astounding. The warmest year on record is now 1934. 1998 (long trumpeted by the media as record-breaking) moves to second place. 1921 takes third. In fact, 5 of the 10 warmest years on record now all occur before World War II."

It's details such as this that keep me from buying into the whole Global Warming idea. How much more of its hypothesis is based on faulty data? (According to some, most of it.)

I'd be a little more inclined to believe the GW crowd, too, if they'd be willing to admit when they don't know everything. But I've seen no mention of this story in the paper. In fact today's paper was giving dire predictions that 2009 will be hotter than 1998. Yeah, just like last year was supposed to be the worst year ever for hurricanes?

Well, let's talk again in 2010, then. If they're right I'll be willing to listen. If they're wrong--and they call themselves on it--I'll at least treat them with some respect. Which is more than they're doing for me.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, and let's make sure all our official measurements are not unduly influenced:

"Two months ago, I reported on an effort to validate this network. A volunteer group headed by meteorologist Anthony Watts had found serious problems. Not only did sites fail to meet the NCDC’s requirements, but encroaching development had put many in ridiculously unsuitable locations — on hot black asphalt, next to trash burn barrels, beside heat exhaust vents, even attached to hot chimneys and above outdoor grills.

Soon thereafter, a Seattle radio station interviewed the head of the NCDC, Dr. Thomas Peterson, informed him of the effort and quizzed him about the problems. Three days later, the NCDC removed all website access to station site locations, citing “privacy concerns.” Without this data (which had been public for years), the validation effort was blocked. No more stations could be located."

At the very least, is it okay for me to still be doubtful without being called an extremist nutjob or heavily in denial?

I Think That Was A Typo...

From an article on thinking like a marketer to get kids to eat healthy:

"Eating during meals is unhealthful for a variety of reasons."

So I guess my four-year-old had it right all along... He sure does he best not to eat during meals.

Incidentally, they were starting to talk about the effects of television and getting the television out of the kitchen, so I suspect that was not what they meant to say.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mindless Rant

Okay, is it only me, or does anyone else look at the latest HP personal computer campaign and think "The Nightmare Before Christmas"? I swear it's the same font.

And I'm not sure how that is supposed to work with their slogan of "The PC is becoming personal again." I mean, is the new bootup sound file going to be written by Danny Elfman? Is Clippy going to be replaced by Jack Skellington? I just don't get how "creepy" equals "personal".

But what do I know? I'm just a consumer. And I did buy an HP. But only because Jared at CompUSA convinced me it was the best deal, not because Tim Burton produced their ad campaign.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Quote Of The Day

"The elitists are such boneheads they think literature exists to be admired. Wrong. Literature exists to create memories so true and important that we allow them to become part of ourselves, shaping our future actions because we remember that once someone we admired did this, and someone we hated and feared did that."
- Orson Scott Card

Monday, August 06, 2007

Maestro, some punctuation, s'il vois plait?

Subject line of recent spam: Ready to sell your Timeshare Terhi?

First of all, this is MY email account, not my wife's. Second of all, while she is a doll, she's never even seen a timeshare. Thirdly, no, I'd never sell her.

In other news now that I'm the homeowners association president I had someone call up today to complain! Or at least my fence. The one I built nearly a year ago. I don't think they realized it was my fence. And they wouldn't listen long enough for my wife to explain that it was our fence they were complaining about.

Evidently my fence is an eyesore, and it sounds like she believes it's the reason why she hasn't been able to sell her house. (She's selling "by owner," which I'm sure has nothing to do with it). Never mind that another house that has a much better view of the longest span of the fence sold within days of going on the market (Hers, incidentally, can't even see our fence, unless perhaps you're standing on the roof).

My paranoia says we're likely to see a battle over this, but according to the C.C.&R.s we're covered. I did ask the previous president on at least two separate occasions. He did grant me permission both times. He saw the construction. He saw the paint color. There is no record in any of the books that he gave me that this person ever complained to him about it. I should be well and truly covered. Though of course this will all look terrible just because I'm the current president.

Anyway, it's definitely Monday. It's a good thing she also mentioned she'll be unable to attend the neighborhood block party tomorrow night. I'd hate to have her sour things for me and my family. Though with my luck she'll change her mind and come. Like Malificent at Briar Rose's birthday party.

Okay, perhaps I'm a little too paranoid.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Cold War

The cold continues apace. No one in our household is completely over it yet. It casts a gloom over everything--even more than the thick smoke rolling in from a range fire just across the border. We are sick of being sick.

On the bright side, no bridges collapsed under me on the way home from work. Perspective is a good thing. I'm sure there are dozens of people in Minnesota would would love to just have a cold.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Unanswered Questions

I've been down with a cold. As usual, whenever I get sick I finally finish the book that's been sitting on my nightstand for months and months. This time it was "Flags of Our Fathers," by James Bradley. The book traces the lives of the six soldiers pictured in the famous "Flag Raising Over Iwo Jima" picture from WWII, of which one was the author's father.

The book provides a poignant and horrifying account of what the battle for Iwo Jima was like, but is ultimately about something else--fathers and children. His father, one of three flagraisers who survived Iwo Jima (the battle was by no means over when they posted the flag), nearly never spoke about his experiences, constantly dodged the press, and never acknowledged The Picture.

In short, there was an entire aspect of John Bradley his children never knew about. They knew he was in The Picture, but it was just something they took for granted--partly because their father didn't talk, but also because children seldom realize that anything about their lives is not normal.

In short, it summarizes the relationship I had with my father. My father was no one even remotely famous--that's not what I mean. I mean that while I knew a great deal about my father, I can't say that I really knew my father. It was not, in the case of John and James Bradley, because he didn't talk about himself. My dad was quite a talker.

I think the fault is mainly mine, because I don't think I ever viewed my dad as a normal person. I never questioned what I saw. How did he feel about working two or three jobs? Did he regret not having done something different with his life? Was he satisfied with the relationship he had with us children?

I could have found out easily enough. I'm sure he would have talked to me about it. But I never really had that kind of relationship with my dad. Not to mention it being hard to find those kinds of moments.

Part of the problem, too, was the context-gap. I didn't become a father myself until recently, and by then my dad was already going downhill. By the time I really started questioning my own life and wondering if his would offer any answers he wasn't really around to ask anymore.

Some of the questions didn't really come up until after he died. Talking to others who knew him brought up a lot of facets of my dad that I'd either forgotten or never realized were there. Sometimes what's right in front of your face is the hardest to see. When he was alive I never questioned. Now he's gone, and all I have is questions.

My mother is still alive. I still have a chance with her.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

From the "Gee Whiz" File

I sat in on a presentation at work today where a colleague discussed the things he learned at a design and usability training seminar recently. It was, of course, interesting professionally, but something particular caught my eye.

At one point the speaker showed a list of all the organizations that have attended this workshop in the past year. One of the organizations listed was "LDS Church." So there you have it. Our church may be "backward" culturally, but we're "with it" when it comes to IT. Or at least getting with it. I will say that I've noticed a distinct improvement in the quality and functionality of the church's websites over the past few years.

In other news, we're gearing up to go to a family reunion soon. This is our immediate family's first attempt at such, so this could be interesting. According to it's "only" going to be in the mid-nineties where we're going. Did I already say this could be interesting?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What am I...

...reading: "The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fforde. A quirky little alternate history tale with a bit of harsh language and occasional violations of narrative style--and the occasional dash of unexpected humor.

...doing: Still working on the playhouse and maintaining the lawn--when I get outside at all!

...planning: Family reunion next week.

...waiting on: Babylon 5, seasons 1 & 2

...still recovering from: Cracked ribs mentioned two weeks ago. I'm getting better, just slowly

...wishing for: Either rain or cooler weather...or both!

...lauging about: Subject line from spam: "Cash for Women!" Sounds like a good trade to me. Too bad I don't have any to spare.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Shine Fourth

The Fourth was a good day, if a hot one. We had our annual get-together with friends from our old neighborhood, and this was the first year that all three of our kids were able to fend for themselves. It helps immensely that our friends' kids are very good with our kids. There was plenty of food, good conversation, bearable shade, and plenty to do. The event ended with a mid-summer version of an easter-egg hunt: scouring the lawn for Airsoft pellets. My kids brought home at least a hundred--and are now proceeding to fight over them.

Afterward we went home and made some homemade ice cream. Or ice soy, really. It turned out quite well, and for considerably less than it costs in stores. Eeeeexcellent!

The kids wanted to stay up to watch fireworks. We didn't really want them to stay up that late, but decided to indulge them this once. Fortunately, between the Macy's Fireworks Spectacular (odd use of the word--like calling "CSI: Miami" a television dramatic) and our neighbors who lit theirs off early so their two-year-old could go to bed, our kids were satiated and crashed before the neighborhood bombardment began after dark.

This was our first Fourth with a dog. It could have been worse. She was quite disturbed by the noise, but was content to lay next to the bed and let us soothe here until it calmed down. I'm just glad our neighborhood is comparatively tame. Our old neigborhood was like that for several days before and after the holiday. With few exceptions it's been quiet until last night.

Only the youngest child was awake before I headed out for work this morning. All things considered I'm feeling fairly good. Except when I sneeze. My ribs still don't like that.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Cramming Cultural Cuisine

One person on my team at work lives in another city. He was in town this week, so we all went out to lunch together today. For whatever reason we ended up at an Indian restaurant. I've had Indian before, so I can't say I was surprised that it was good. More likely just surprised that I didn't learn my lesson last time not to eat so much. That's the trouble with buffets. I only tried most of the dishes, not all, but I'm still stuffed.

My ribs are still hurting, though not that much during the day. It just makes sleeping rather uncomfortable, as there are only about two positions that aren't painful. I don't really want to go see a doctor. We're still paying off my little adventure to the emergency room a couple months ago.

The weekend is nearly here. And then we get two very short workweeks next week, thanks to the Fourth of July falling in the middle of the week. So far the kids haven't asked if we can buy fireworks, but probably because no one in our subdivision has been lighting any off yet. Which is in itself amazing. The last neighborhood where we lived they'd start a couple weeks early.

I'm tired. It's been one of those weeks where, even though I've accomplished a fair deal, I still feel like I'm getting farther behind.

Two hours left to work today, and I'm struggling against the effects of a localized gravitational anomaly in the area of my eyelids.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Go Dogs Go!

Our group at work had a big meeting on Monday, followed by a "team-building" exercise at the local indoor go-cart track. The latter was not mandatory, but I decided to go anyway. And what did we learn? I'm the most cautious driver in our group. I wasn't surprised to see the various male managers blowing by me, but I was a bit surprised to find our female director was also a faster driver than me.

Not that I care. If my future with the company relies on my ability to screech a go cart around a track with as little braking as possible then I'm more than happy to move on to another company. I'm pleased that I was able to loosen up some and just go for it, however. My best lap time was 26.7 seconds, which was nearly five seconds slower than our crazed web design lead, but also ten seconds faster than my initial lap times. So I reckon for a rookie (and one who, by nature, is allergic to speed) I did okay.

Anyway, it was actually kind of fun--right up until I went to pull into pit row after the last lap. Someone coming up behind me lost control of their cart and T-boned me at full speed. Being a skinny person, there was extra side-to-side room in my seat that the seat-belt really couldn't help with. I got slammed into the side of my seat and bruised three or four ribs. My mobility is somewhat restricted, and I can only find one comfortable position to sleep in at night.

In spite of that I was able to finish the inside walls on the playhouse last night. Still, I'm looking forward to getting over my "racing injury." And I doubt I'll be going go-carting any time soon.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

President For Life

My wife saw a small notice posted somewhere in our subdivision that our homeowners association was having elections today, but she didn't notice where. I couldn't find any trace of the sign, personally, but since I care about what happens in our neighborhood I decided to see if I could track it down. I found it mainly by whose cars were parked outside of whose house, and arrived ten minutes late.

I was just in time to be nominated and voted in as president. To be honest, I wasn't surprised, and was somewhat prepared for that eventuality. We have a small, vocal, but essentially chicken group of attendees at each meeting. They want someone to make sure that the CC&Rs are kept, but they don't want to be the one to have to deliver the message.

Fortunately they also nominated me a vice president who's a bit tougher-looking than I am (and drives a Harley), so I think we'll be all right. It'll largely be a thankless job, but there'll at least be ONE benefit: I don't have to ask anyone before I change anything on my property.

Mwah ha ha ha!!!!! The corruption begins!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Feelin' Snarky

My boys woke up too early again this morning, and in an effort to keep things at least mildly under control I put on some early-morning kids TV. In listening to the theme music as the singer extolled the virtues of a CGI kewpie-faced airplane I noticed repeated references to "magic" and "magical."

It seems that magic is a required element in kids programming, even if there is none. At least the only magic I noticed in the show was sparkles trailing from the airplane's wings. I guess it's easier to call it magic than have to explain condensation (or fuel leaks) to tots, but still. It's become such an overworked term that I'm getting kinda sick of it.

Like another stop-motion television series about a tank engine that will remain nameless. The place it occurs is billed as a "magical land where dreams come true." Except I've never seen any magic there, either. And your dreams only come true if they involve a bunch of talking trains that continually get into scrapes and personality conflicts.

Kids are no dummies. I'm pretty sure most kids are totally immune to "magic" these days. "Yeah dad, I know. The plane is magic. The trains are magic. This pencil is magic. Suzy's diapers are magic. Everything's magic."

Okay, perhaps the diapers are magic--the dark arts, to be sure.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"How Much Older Can I Get?"

Morgan Freeman offers some thoughts on aging gracefully and appreciating life...couched in golf terms.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Projectile Dieting

I've been putting on a little weight lately, but I'd have preferred to take it back off slowly. Instead I got stomach flu over the weekend, the same stuff my kids have been passing around for the last week. I'm still not entirely back up to snuff, as food still does not appeal at all, but at least I'm functional. And I've dropped five pounds. Uhm...yay?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Thanks But No Thanks!

It would seem that at least some people in Africa aren't so keen on foreign aid. I've taken enough college economics to see that he has a point. To quote Dr. McCoy, "Drilling holes in his head isn't the answer! The artery must be repaired!"

The Greatest Generation

Last night I got back to reading "Flags of Our Fathers," a book about the men in the famous "flag-raising on Iwo Jima" photo. I read about the battle for Tarawa, where we lost over 1000 men in three days. The American public was upset about the losses, and couldn't understand the point of sacrificing so much for a tiny little island.

It reminds me, of course, of the war we're in right now. Every single complaint applied to the War on Terror could be applied to World War II. Yet they continued the fight at a cost that makes the Iraq War look like playground fisticuffs.

I dare say that America today wouldn't have won WWII. That doesn't fill me with hope, considering that WWIII has already started.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Polar Bear Dung Destroys Planet!

One of my gripes about the Global Warming current (I'm not going to say debate, as that's no longer allowed) is that they focus entirely on greenhouse gasses causing everything. Another is that everything gets blamed on Global Warming, and hence, greenhouse gasses. The polar ice caps are melting? Blame CO2 emmissions!

Well, perhaps not. A new study indicates that dirty snow is contributing at least partly to the increasing temperatures worldwide and more significantly to warming at the poles. It's not encouraging, mind you, and it's no less a problem than whatever else is going on, but it just shows that if you oversimplify things and fail to do due scientific diligence you may end up with the mob all running in the wrong direction.

CO2 and particulate pollution are connected, I'm sure, but the differences could make quite a bit of difference.

Increased solar output, and now particulate pollution. Isn't it time we opened our minds again on Global Warming? Do we really know what we think we know?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Smattering of Elemental Strategy

(Why yes, I DO love the word "smattering." Why do you ask?)

Emma (to the cat): You are so sweet, Jynx!
Walter: I'm not Jynx!

Michael Totten has a guest columnist on why we should worry about Iran.
Michael Yon rides with the Queen's Royal Lancers.
Michael Yon writes about the courage and intelligence of one of our commanders in Iraq.

What I'm Reading:
I just finished reading "The Psi Corps Trilogy" by J. Gregory Keyes, from an outline by J. Michael Straczynski. The series covers the early origins of the Psi Corps and details the rise of our favorite psi cop, Alfred Bester, from childhood to head of the Corps. The series is ultimately about Bester--the history is just to set the stage, really. This causes the book to be a bit choppy at times, and it skips over events you really wish it would have detailed.

For example, if you're hoping to find out the gory details of Lyta Alexander's bloody revenge on the Psi Corps, prepare to be disappointed. It's alluded to, but entirely skipped over.

Instead, what we have is a classic Straczynski B5 tale: It's all about choices. The book takes one of the most vile human beings and reminds you that he was just that--a human being. You find yourself almost cheering for Bester, even while he's giving you the creeps. You find yourself hoping that he can find redemption and happiness. What we get is a book that, while not exactly satisfying, fits very nicely within the B5 universe and the Straczynksi morality.

I'm glad I read it, even though I wish I hadn't needed to read the whole thing. But you do, and it's worth it.

Audio Book:
"Pattern Recognition" by William Gibson. I've already read this before, but it's a good story well told. It can be as haunting as the "footage" the story revolves around. It details the story of a free-lance "cool" hunter as she undertakes an international search for the creator of the mysterious but provacative "footage," short video segments that pop up on the internet from time to time and has gathered a devoted following.

The annoying beauty of this book, I think, is that not everything is there for a reason. While some things in the book are interconnected in a nearly impossible--yet somehow believable--manner, other things are just...there. There are loose edges, and the ending seems a bit too elysian, but there's something there that won't let you go until it's done.

Gibson has a gift for descriptive detail--not quite poetic like Ray Bradbury, but evocative and multi-leveled. I should probably buy this book someday so I can study the language. I could learn from Gibson.

Notable Quote:
"I suspect I have spent just about exactly as much time actually writing as the average person my age has spent watching television, and that, as much as anything, may be the real secret here" - William Gibson

Friday, June 01, 2007

Idiots Guide to Prophecy

I'm the GM for a D&D group I play with (which makes me a DM, not a GM, I know. So sue me. The game takes place above ground most of the time, so if you want to get technical, I'm really a Surface Master. So there!). As such, I've been developing a game world for the group to play in. In an attempt to round things out a bit more I've been developing some prophecies.

That's not easy task, really. Even without the decision to make each poetic in nature (and in different styles to denote different prophets) it's difficult to get the right balance of vagueness and near-universal applicability without making them meaningless altogether. There has to be enough there that the characters can actually believe they may be part of prophecy--and that the prophecy is helpful to choosing their actions--while leaving room to wiggle if they're really not.

After writing around ten of these I have to say I'm feeling an intense desire to write up one "anti-prophecy" just for fun. Something like:

"Lo, and Drea, Alcoraxis, Fevera, and Wedlin (but not Gaubin, who shall be dead by then) shall go forth to the town of Silverling. There they shall find a grumpy bartender, a genial serving girl, and a mysterious man in the corner, who, though claiming to be able to help them, shall pick their pockets and render no real information. The serving girl, however, if treated kindly and tipped well, will provide information about the location of the Talisman of Ascerotin which they seek, having been told once years ago by her father, god rest is his soul. They should avoid the stables, as a most unpleasant encounter involving a goat, three roosters, and lots of lice awaits them."

That would be fun, especially to see the reaction of the players upon receiving such specific information (especially Gaubin's player). They'd doubtlessly not trust it, and before long be begging for a more "traditional" prophecy. Especially after the lice.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Der Burgermeister

Several years ago I mounted a Mission Impossible-style infiltration of Burger King to steal the secret recipe for their veggie burgers (they've since changed suppliers, and the quality has dropped). It required great skill and a fair amount of luck, but I was able to walk away with their free nutritional information pamphlet which, thanks to the USDA, contains a list of ingredients.

What I didn't get is proportions, of course, so I've spent the last several years working on the recipe. Since each batch makes enough to keep us well stocked for about six months, it's taking awhile. To be honest, I don't know if my recipe even comes close to theirs now. I know the consistency is different. But it tastes pretty good.

Anyway, Memorial Day has become one of the two "Burger Days" when I whip up a batch of burgers. It takes me about 4 hours, but we wind up with about 14 meals worth. So yesterday I spent the afternoon in the kitchen chopping veggies, adding filler and "glue", and then cooking them up. The batch was proclaimed the best yet by my independent, impartial taste-tester (my wife), and since all the kids ate theirs as well I'm inclined to agree.

Last night I decided it was time to take my rather cryptic working notes and type them up into something a bit more workable. If anyone cares to give it a try, let me know. I'll gladly send you the recipe. Unfortunately I've never tried to make fewer than 40 patties, so it doesn't scale well to "let's try it for dinner some time."

Perhaps now I might try making soy cheese. Just kidding.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Russian Thuggery

I know, this is not the sort of stuff I usually get excited about, but this is different. I've been there. I know people there. They warned me several years ago that Russia would love nothing better than to get Estonia back.

So when the Estonians move a Soviet monument, they find themselves under widespread internet attack from Russia (via the Washington Post). Abnormally coordinated hackers? Russian Mafia? Russian Intelligence running field tests for cyberspace warfare? Does it really matter who? The fact is that someone can.

"These attacks were massive, well targeted and well organized," Jaak Aaviksoo, Estonia's minister of defense, said in an interview. They can't be viewed, he said, "as the spontaneous response of public discontent worldwide with the actions of the Estonian authorities" concerning the memorial. "Rather, we have to speak of organized attacks on basic modern infrastructures."

This next little bit is telling, not just for just how seriously this is being taken, but by whom:

The NATO alliance and the European Unionhave rushed information technology specialists to Estonia to observe and assist during the attacks, which have disrupted government e-mail and led financial institutions to shut down online banking.

I think we can expect to see more of this in years to come, and not just from Russia. And why don't I find the Russian response reassuring:

A Russian official who the Estonians say took part in the attacks said in an interview Friday that the assertion was groundless. "We know about the allegations, of course, and we checked our IP addresses," said Andrei Sosov, who works at the agency that handles information technology for the Russian government. His IP address was identified by the Estonians as having participated, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

"Our names and contact numbers are open resources. I am just saying that professional hackers could easily have used our IP addresses to spoil relations between Estonia and Russia."

Whether he's lying or telling the truth, the implications are still scary.

"The nature of the latest attacks is very different," said Linnar Viik, a government IT consultant, "and it's no longer a bunch of zombie computers, but things you can't buy from the black market," he said. "This is something that will be very deeply analyzed, because it's a new level of risk. In the 21st century, the understanding of a state is no longer only its territory and its airspace, but it's also its electronic infrastructure."

Or, to quote one of my all-time favorite movie characters, "I've got a bad feeling about this."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pauper of the Bride

Last week for our date night my wife and I watched "Father of the Bride". I think we estimated that the wedding in the movie cost at least $100,000. I figured that was an exaggeration (remember, this was 15 years ago).

But then I saw this article online. It claims the average wedding in the US costs about $27,000. The average. In the US we spend more on weddings than the GNP of Lithuania. I understand, however, that Japanese weddings leave us in the dust.

I've got about 13 years to save up. Perhaps I should offer my daughter $10k to elope.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Iowahawk has envisioned what a James Lileks news story might look like in this amusing parody.

He also channels a few other more famous writers to fill out the other beats. Not suitable for the below PG-13 crowd.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Progress and Appreciation

The playhouse is finished. At least the structural part. I need to give all the exposed wood a shot of primer, at the very least. But the verdict is in. My four year old declared it (or at least the porch railing I added on Saturday) "Outstanding!"

I wish for just a moment I could see the whole thing through his eyes instead of my own, which only see all the parts I goofed up on. It's so easy to forget to see things not in terms of mistakes but in possibilities. After all, growing up we had a lean-to shack cobbled onto the side of the house that was crammed full of old stuff and cobwebs. You could barely even get the door open. But it was the absolute coolest place!

Responsibility kills the inner child, I think. Or at least sends it to its room. It's hard to enjoy a playhouse when you're the one who had to build the playhouse. It's hard to live in the moment when you're expected to always be thinking several moments ahead. To quote Barry Manilow, "Oh, for the fun of them when I was one of them."

Instead I get stuck thinking of preparing bedtime snacks and getting kids ready for church rather than giving myself over to a good laugh with my wife over a linguistic near-miss.

Speaking of my wife, I'll extend Mother's Day just a bit and mention just how much I appreciate her. She is completely committed to giving the best to her kids (which far too often includes me). She's an amazing woman who approaches everything with a style and grace of a Golden Age starlet. She's my Grace Kelly, Katherine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, and Donna Reed, all rolled into one--dresses like them, too!

One of the advantages of being a husband is that you tend to catch glimpses of your wife's "press." It sufficeth to say that the general consensus is that I married well. I wish I could say the same about her. To quote Alan Jackson, "Be patient...I'm a work in progress."

Monday, May 07, 2007

What a Gas!

'Tis Spring! A time when gas prices climb and people start circulating the "National Gas-Out" email. Yes, let's all stick it to the big oil companies by buying our gas on Wednesday instead of on Tuesday. If ever there was a sign that the American Education System is failing, it's this lovely email. There are so many holes in it I don't even know where to start.

Fortunately, I don't have to. Someone who gets paid to write did it for me. Read all the way to the end for some ideas that really WILL impact our oil demand, and hence gas prices.

The one thing that cracks me up about the email is the line about how in 1997 they did this and it worked. That was ten years ago. Are you telling me, if this is so effective, we can't find any more current data? That's as good as saying "Hey, I drank water from the other side of a glass and it cured my hiccups....once....ten years ago." Anecdotal evidence is not evidence. And doing the same thing over and expecting different results is one definition of insanity. If it hasn't worked in ten years, perhaps--just perhaps--it was a coincidence?

Except, according the writer's research, it didn't even work then.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Building Frustration

I'm getting really tired of building this playhouse. I spent most of the day yesterday building a dutch door and to shutters, none of which look very good, in my opinion. The good news is that the kids don't care how it looks. The dutch door is a hit.

As it stands, though, this thing is going to eat up my free time for at least another week. Meanwhile the list of other projects that need doing continues to pile up. I just took vacation, but I need more.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

More Microsoft Wit/Wisdom

I found another, not so funny ad from Microsoft today. This one was on repelling alien invasions. The only one that stood out this time was: When the aliens land, tell them the squirrels are in charge and that we humans are their slaves. While they start trying to negotiate with the squirrels, run like heck.

Little does Microsoft know how close they come to the truth.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Dude On A Hot Asphalt Roof

I have a new respect for roofers. On Saturday I tried shingling the roof on the playhouse. It was only in the 70's or so, but the roof quickly became unbearable. If I left my leg in one spot too long it would start to burn. Then I realized the asphalt itself was starting to melt, an that if I didn't tread carefully I'd scuff up the shingles.

So I moved to the other side, hoping the different angle to the sun would help. It did. I was able to get most of that side done before it again became too hot to stay up there. Now I need to wait for a cool evening or next weekend before I can finish that particular job.

On the other hand, I must say the roof is looking quite nice--what I've got finished. It really add to the look of the playhouse. As long as you don't look at the window that isn't quite parallel with the roofline you'd almost think it was professionally done. And if you stand back to where you don't notice the other little goofs. And squint your eyes a bit. And don't look at any other straight lines nearby.

The show I was in is over now. I'm glad, as it was taking up a lot of time, but I am glad I did it, too. It was fun to get up on stage again. And hanging out in the wings waiting to go on. And hanging with the rest of the cast in the green room. Good times.

I really, really need a haircut now.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Our Hearts We Cannot Steel

I'm currently on vacation working on a playhouse (I may have mentioned this). Today I was working out back putting up roof trusses when I heard gunshots. At first I was puzzled--gunshots? Here? Not in our sleepy little metropolis. Then I heard the bugle.

You see, we live about half a block from a cemetary. I'd never heard it before today--perhaps the wind direction helped carry it our way or something--but they were holding a graveside service with military honors. I usually get choked up pretty easily over "Taps", but suddenly I was reliving my father's graveside service in January. There I was, on top of a ladder with a drill in one hand, crying.

I don't know where I get the idea that I'm somehow different from other people. When people tell me it takes time to get over losing a loved one they're right. It doesn't matter that we were expecting it, that it was a merciful passing, that we had our chance to say goodbye first. There's a hole there, and it's going to be there awhile. Perhaps it's not overtly impacting my life every day, but it's still there.

I think the hardest thing to come to terms with was that I never did say goodbye. Not the way I had wanted to, anyway. The last time we visited I said it to his face, but while I said the words, there was a lot behind them that didn't get said. I started a letter to him several times and never finished it.

And his last night, after the family had a prayer around his bed, Mom even requested that we take some time to say goodbye. I didn't. It was too easy not to. There were family around I hadn't seen in some time. There was Mom to worry about. There was my sister and her little boy to help out with. There were plenty of excuses. I just didn't get around to it. I was scared. Of what, I'm not sure.

I wish I had. I guess I should take some comfort in knowing that I said much of what I would have said during the blessing we gave him the night before he died. I should take comfort in knowing that I'll have a chance to tell him again someday. But the comfort isn't there.

So now I can only add my voice to all those who I used to ignore: Never leave things unsaid. If you have your chance to say goodbye, take it.

One Advantage of Women's Lib

I've observed an interesting phenomenon (doot-dooooo-dah-doo-doo) these past few days. You see, I'm not exactly a big, burly, manly-man type. I'm 5'7" and 130 lbs, and while I don't consider myself a wimp, I'm not tough. I'm fine with that.

So when I go to Home Depot and wrestle 4'x8' sheet lumber I have to take my time and use the laws of physics rather than the law of the jungle. I can get it done. It just takes me longer.

Anyway, I've made three trips to Home Depot in the last four days. Each time the only workers to offer me help are women. Never the men. I don't know what it is. Is it an unwritten rule in the Brotherhood of Brothers that we never embarass each other by offering help? Is it just that women are more apt to realize that sheet lumber is heavy and therefore assume someone would want help? Is it just that women are more observant about what is going on around them? I don't have the answer, but it would be interesting to know.

I mentioned this to one of the women who stopped to help me today, and she apologized profusely (it was not my intention to see someone fall on their sword over it). And she rounded up a guy to help me while I was on the way to the checkstand so I could get help loading it all in the van. Yeah, I could have done it myself. But I was in a hurry to get the van back before Terhi needed it. So it was well appreciated.

Standard Disclaimer: I have no problem with women working at Home Depot. I have no problem with women lifting heavy objects for me or helping me lift them. I'm pretty sure if they're working at Home Depot they know what they're getting in for. They're either just fine with the lifting or they'll get someone bigger to do it. And if I need help, I'll accept whatever help is offered.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Allow Me To Demonstrate

Our company sponsored two classes yesterday; one on CPR, and another on First Aid. I signed up for both. The CPR class was kind of fun, really. Serious stuff, but good to know. The afternoon class on first aid, however, was an adventure.

The teacher was a paramedic, and so he had lots of "example" pictures. I started feeling a little sick, so I put my head down on my knees, hoping it would pass. It didn't. I passed out. I came to with paramedics surrounding me. I become coherent quickly enough, but I still felt lousy. When I didn't bounce back as fast as I should have, and when I told them about my heart condition, they decided I needed a trip to the E.R.

I spent the next three hours in the hospital. Three tries to put in an IV, a series of bloodtests (they're always ordering a CBC on "ER"--I still don't know what it is, but I got one!), an EKG, two x-rays, an IV of saline, and oxygen therapy later they decided that the class pictures had triggered a vasovagal episode, compounded by mild dehydration, otherwise known as "I got squeamish and passed out." On the other hand, they ruled out complications from my heart condition, which I guess is good to know.

I'm still a bit weak and frail today. I was describing what happened to someone this morning and started getting dizzy again. I guess I've really got to watch it for awhile. The good news? If you stop breathing for any reason--I'm your man!

I really, really hope this ends our run of bad luck for awhile.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tips for the Ninja-besieged Enterprise

I ran across a Microsoft add in a trade magazine today that made me giggle. Yes, I' m a geek, as ninjas make me giggle. Especially the thought of them besieging my enterprise. Some sample tips:

Avoid Ninjas in the first place
Ask yourself--why have Ninjas chosen your company? Did you do something to offend a powerful warlord? Is a competitor particularly nasty? Who would send Ninjas after you? Answer this question and you'll be ready for next time.

Use your whiteboard as a shield
Ninjas love throwing stars, known as shuriken. They are sharp, and pointy, and when thrown they stick in deep and hurt a lot. Grab the nearest whiteboard and use it as a shield when the shuriken throwing begins. Yes, it'll ruin the whiteboard, but you can explain later.

Use your phone (to call for help)
Ninjas are tought--deadly actually--and no one will judge if, at a point when all hope seems lost, you call for help. Calling in reinforcements from branch offices, even the warehouse crew, can make the difference when Ninjas attack.

Use office plants as weapons
Those dusty-looking palms around your office may look harmless, but you can wield them as formidable weapons. The fronds can be used as pokers; aim for the Ninja's sensitive spots. Cacti are particularly useful for the Ninja-besieged enterprise. Throw them, pot and all, like grenades.

In other news, at least three people have stopped to comment on my computer desktop today. It shows the painting my sister did of our uncle's ranch, and it's drawing lots of positive comments. Congrats, sis! You're getting noticed!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Putting the "Civil" in Civilization

Don Imus is getting what he deserves (fired for racial slurs uttered on the air). Let me be clear about that. What saddens me about this case is that it's so isolated. There should be plenty of others tossed out along with him. We are no longer a civil people. We call each other the most horrible things and call it free speech. Or comedy. Or entertainment.

I've no doubt in my mind that had he said those things about a team of white women no one would have batted an eye. I have no doubt that if those things had been said by someone on Saturday Night Live no one would have cared.

We shouldn't have people saying things like that about anyone! We shouldn't need censorship because people should be watching their own mouths. We've become a nation of potty-mouths, and we have entire career fields stumbling over one another in a headlong race into the gutter.

We should have a culture where people are well and truly shocked by such language. But in reality, the only result I see from this is all the other shock jocks deconstructing the incident: "Where did he go too far? Was it adding in 'ho?' Can I call someone a 'nappy-headed weasel' and get away with it? How about a 'nazi-headed ho?'" How long, do you think, before we have SNL comedy sketches where men dressed up as old, white biddies sit around and call each other 'nappy-headed hos'? (In a way, I hope they do, though I doubt it would have the effect is should.)

If it were up to Thumper's mother, America would be known as The Silent Nation.

I can't say that I'd mind that.