Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Holdout Imperial Army soldier 'not Japanese,' mediator says

"GENERAL SANTOS, The Philippines -- At least one of the two old men said to be former Japanese Imperial Army soldiers who have remained on Mindanao since the end of World War II 'is not Japanese,' Embassy officials in Manila said Monday."

Wow, cool.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Futagoyama Oyakata passed away

A little over two and a half hours ago, the former Sumo Ozeki ("Champion") Futagoyama, father of two Yokozuna ("Grand Champion") Takanohana II and Wakanohana III, passed away from cancer of the mouth. I didn't know him when he was active, only as the Oyakata ("coach"). But the descriptions of his last few months had a very similar parallel with the passing of my father some four years and three months ago. No one reading this is likely to know what I'm talking about but that's ok. I do, and that's enough.

[05/31/05] A good obituary for the Oyakata is in the Mainichi Daily News.

Sleepless in Dale City

You know what's a real bitch (besides my ex-wife*)? That's when you get insomnia when you've taken a sleeping pill. What's worse is when you are up and at'em because you almost choked from aspirating gastric fluids into your lungs. That's how Jon Bonham, Bon Scott & Steve Clark all died. The only difference is that for me no alcohol was involved. So I'm up writing silliness for this communications venue. If I wasn't so broke I'd go buy something to take my mind off of everything. But I am so I can't. And for those of you out there who think you're broke, it's very likely that I would be able to live quite happily on your salary. Really.

*Hi there sweetie.

"Computing for Fun and Profit"

by Joe Klemmer
New Rider Press ©200X
ISBN 0-000-00000-X

Table of Contents

Introduction"Why write this book?
Chapter 1"Define Computing"
Chapter 2"Define Profit"
Chapter 3"Areas of Expertise"
Chapter 4"How to choose an Area of Expertise"
Chapter 5"Making the best of what you have"
Chapter 6"Success vs Profit"
Chapter 7"Profit vs Wealth"
Chapter 8"How best to 'enjoy' your Profit"
Appendix A"Myths of Computing"
Appendix B"Additional Resources"
Appendix C"Example Business Plan and Profit Timeline"
This book is for anyone who is in the computing field who would like to be able to make a better living for themselves. This is not for people who want to "get rich quick" nor for the dot com millionaires. This is for the working stiff cranking out code as an occupation. While this book doesn't specifically target those who code for the love of coding, there are aspects presented here that would still be of use to the Artisan Coder.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Comments on the European GP

Man, what a finish! Though Kimi didn't get the poll this week, he was just "nicked" out by one of the local boys Nick Heidfeld, and after a restart due to some gearbox problems that left Giancarlo Fisichella stuck on the grid he rocketed out of the gate and took the lead right off. Fisichella had to do the restart from pit lane.

Then more fun. A small pile-up on the very first turn dropped a number of the field back and totally scrambled everything. The only casualty was Mark Webber's Williams-BMW.

After that it was a battle for second as Räikkönen did what he's done the past 3 races, pull his McLaren-Mercedes away from everyone. David Coulthard had his Red Bull car up in forth just before the first round of pit stops. When the leaders pealed off, it left the Englishman in first place. It seems that the team is really pushing for competitiveness. Unfortunately he was assessed a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. He was still able to finish 4th. Red Bull almost had both cars in the points but Vitantonio Liuzzi finished just 0.5 seconds behind the Toyota of Jarno Trulli. Trulli was also assessed a drive-through for having pit crew on the grid to long. The rules are that everyone of the crew must be off the track 15 seconds before the race.

Both Ferrari's were mired in the middle of the pack and got caught up in the first turn shenanigans. With some deft driving they both ended up in the points with Rubens taking a podium for third. Heidfeld brought his Williams-BMW in for second and Fernando Alonso drove his Renault in for his 4th win of the season.

You might be asking yourself, what happened to Kimi? If he took the lead and held onto it like a pit bull why didn't he finish first? It seems that the Flying Finn scuttled his own race. With about 5 or 6 laps to go, and leading by some 15 seconds, Kimi lost focus and locked up the front right which took him off onto the gravel. He easily came back on with no damage to the chassis but a huge flat spot on the right front tire. This caused a great amount of vibration and bouncing of that tire. With so few lamps to go and with Alonso still behind him he had no real option to do anything but stay out and hope things held together long enough to finish. While Alonso was gulping up massive amounts of distance it looked like the Finn would be able to hold on. But just as they started the final lap the damage was to much for the strut and it let go in a shower of carbon fiber. The wheel itself didn't blow but it did come pretty close to hitting Kimi in the head. Only the safety tether held it from any danger. So it was that he had to settle for eleventh.

So here's what things look like after a hair over a third of the season. The McLaren-Mercedes team is looking very strong. Especially Kimi. If he doesn't have mechanical problems he could conceivably be on a five race win streak. The Renaults are still looking good and there's promise for continued success this season. The team of the year so far has, in my eyes, been Red Bull. Save for Monaco they have scored points in every race. BAR-Honda seems to be in a stall that could threaten to become a tailspin. After their two race suspension they looked very mediocre in this outing.

Lastly we get to Ferrari. The last two races Michael and Rubins have both put in some good racing. The problem seems to be that they can't qualify high enough to make any use from it. The going theory is that the Bridgestone tires don't perform well until they have a good number of laps behind them. And with the one tire per race rule they can't work things out from testing to qualifying to race. I think, though, that they will start to come along the rest of the season. But it will be a miracle if Michael can hold onto his championship.

Now it's off to Canada in two weeks. I wish I could be there for that.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Comments on the Monaco GP

Man. There's nothing to say, really. Kimi Räikkönen truly was the Flying Finn as he almost swept all the "stats" for the race. He started at poll and led every lap of the race. The only thing he didn't get was fast lap, which was turned in my Michael Schumacher. Kimi had an almost 40 second lead with around 10 or so laps to go. He slowed up tremendously to save the tires and engine but still finished a hair under 14 seconds in front of Nick Heidfeld. Speaking of whom, Nick made a killer move to pass Fernando Alonso with only a few laps left to give Williams-BMW second. Of course Mark Webber in the other Williams car had to keep up so he passed Alonso a few laps after Nick, thus giving Williams two podium finishes. The two Ferrari's finished 7th and 8th to at least get some points. I figured that there'd be a much more competitive season for Ferrari but this isn't what anybody imagined.

2005 Constructors Championship
Pos Constructor Points
1 Renault 63
2 McLaren-Mercedes 51
3 Toyota 43
4 Williams-BMW 35
5 Ferrari 21
6 Red Bull Racing 14
7 Sauber-Petronas 7
If the McLaren's can keep from having the bad luck they've had over the last few years it looks like Kimi is ready fulfill the promise of being a championship caliber driver.

And Bridgestone better hurry up and do something because they are getting thrashed this year.

Meeting of minds, both large and small

Got an appointment with my sons teacher for tomorrow. The guidance counselor will be there, too, as well as my mother (in full Grandma mode). This is likely to be a windmill tilting day but I want it known that the school has gone to far with their handling of my son. Yes, he can be a little disruptive, but he's not a liar. Not when "Honesty in the Heart" is invoked. We'll see what happens but this late in the year I doubt the school will do anything. We are going to start thinking about what other schools might be available for him for next year.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Not happy right now

I am going to my sons school tomorrow to, politely and cordially, tear a new one for his teacher and the administration staff. I know my son isn't the most attentive student around, hell he won't shut-up and pay attention when he's home with me (until I get firm with him). But it now seems that he is getting labeled as a "Trouble Maker" so he gets blamed for just about everything that happens, even if he isn't in the room when it happens. I will not have this label pinned on him for the rest of his life just because some teachers and school staff don't know how to work with and teach boys. And if it gets into a "he said/she said" thing I have one big card I can play. That is there is a way to make sure that my son is telling the truth. I used this method on him today and he told me what is going on at school and, to be frank, I'm pi$$ed!

Grandma is coming as well. And if they think I'm bad they better run for their lives when she gets started. They are going to need Station 13 because she's going to light a serious fire under them.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Tires do explode

Man, I have the worst luck. I started off driving the 1:15 drive to get to the server location. But the minute I got there I remembered that I forgot the keys. So it's another 1:20 back to get them. Now, with keys and rescue CD's and Sprite's to drink I'm on my way for a third trip. But halfway there the front end of my car started shaking quite violently. Then, without any ado, the left front explodes in a cloud of dust! Thankfully the traffic was extremely slow (there is a big annual Air Show this time of year). I pulled over to the side and got out to take a look. The tire really did explode. It took half of the side panel and blew it out perpendicular to the body of the car. And that's not the worst part. The explosion was strong enough to snap one of the four bolts that hold the tire on. The better luck came by way of this rally stoned guy who was walking on the interstate. It seems he had a fight with his wife and jumped out of the car just to get away. He helped me change to the doughnut. I was grateful for the help but I didn't really want to have to drive him somewhere. Thankfully his wife was driving by and pulled over. I proceeded home after that. So the server isn't fixed yet and the likelihood of it getting fixed before Friday are slim to none.

I hate the universe.

Being lazy can be inconvenient

I desperately need to go fix my server. Being without email for 5 days is really quite painful. It's just that the box is CoLo'ed a hefty drive from here. I don't want to drive up there but it's not like I have to many choices. Still, I've been finding excuses not to get ready and going (like this blog entry, for one). But it's time to pay the piper. I'm on my way in about 30 minutes; just need to shower, get ready & go. Thankfully my brother stopped by earlier to give me some money for gas. I know I could have made it up there but making it back would have been problematic.

Ok, off in to the shower I go.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I could use some help

It's tough being a parent.

It's tougher being a single parent.

It's tougher still to be a disabled single parent.

Don't even ask about being an out of work disabled single parent.

My son is having some "discipline" issues at school. Not that he's causing fights and such, he just won't shut-up. Talking and not listening to the teachers are his two major problem areas. And I know why. Part of it has to do with the environment he's in; the stress that I'm under is wearing, though I try to keep it from getting to him. But the biggest reason is that he's bored. The school work is just to easy for him. Now, every parent wants to think they have an exceptional child who is brilliant and destined to be some great person. While I know my son is quite advanced academic, he's not some ultra-mega wunderkind. He is just finishing up 2nd grade but had already been reading at 5th grade level when the school year started. And don't even try to keep up with him in math, too. I know that he could be doing much more advanced work. I know because I have tried to supplement his homework with extra work and it's all in the 4th & 5th grade level. But this doesn't give him a free pass. He still needs to learn to control himself better. Just because he can talk and play while doing his schoolwork or homework without it affecting his work doesn't mean he should be going it.

We were finally able to get him back into TKD so I'm hoping that the discipline he's (re)learning there will help. OC, there's only about a month left in school so this won't make a great difference for this year. But if he goes to TKD all summer he should be in better shape for 3rd grade. My ex had an idea today about looking into a private school. She mentioned a Catholic school as an option. While these aren't the schools of yore, as in they can't punish the kids anymore, it might still be good because they tend to have an accelerated curriculum when compared to the public schools.

The frustrating part is that I know I could be doing much more for him with this. If I were either not disabled or not single then things would be much better. For both of us. It would help if I were working. Not as much as the other two but having money around to buy food and such is not a bad thing. I see no way out of this but there's nothing I can do about that either. So tomorrow I'll get up and go looking for work and try to find some info on private schools. Not to mention the mountain of other things I need to do one of these days.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Another anniversary

I just noticed that this month marks another anniversary. It was three years ago this month that the divorce between my ex and myself was final. Technically it's three years and eight days as of today. I have to say that I would not recommend anyone go through this if they can help it. If there were some way of making prospective engaged couples experience even a relatively easy divorce, like the one we had, it would help cut down the number of divorces (and marriages, for that matter).

Monday, May 16, 2005

Observations on vocal comparisons between the Thai language and Mandarin Chinese as they relate to the English language and English language speakers

(How's that for a long title?)

Over the last few years I have been learning a little Thai and Mandarin. They are both tonal languages and both have certain characters that make sounds not present in the English language. What I am going to talk about is how they compare to the English language. More specifically, how the pronunciation of each compares to the English language speakers ability to form the requisite sounds for each language.

Let's start with the similarities. While both Thai and Mandarin have more letters in their alphabets, many of the sounds they make are very much the same as various English language letters. A randomly selected example might be; W, D, O, T, B. There are equivalent sounds in all three languages for what these letters represent in English. Now, by letter I mean characters. In both the Thai and Mandarin writing systems the characters actually represent words or concepts, especially in Mandarin. A "real world" example of the "same sound" would be my name, Joe. In Thai there are two characters that, when combined, make the sound that is the same as my name. Interestingly, in Thai the character for the "O" sound comes before the one for the "J" sound. But that's getting ahead of myself. The reality is that most of the sounds made by these languages are very similar across the board. However...

The differences are where the fun begins. First off, the number of characters in the languages are interesting in their differences. English has 26 letters in our alphabet: 5/6 vowels & 21/20 consonants (that damned "and sometimes Y" thing keeps things from being completely clean). The Thai language has 44 consonants & 24 vowels. Plus some special characters we'll get into shortly. Mandarin has, it is estimated, some 40-50,000 characters! There's a rule of thumb that you need to know a minimum of 3,000 to be able to communicate and 6,000 to read a news paper. But if you are learning the language phonetically it's not as important how many characters there are. You only need to know the sounds. This makes it much easer, as the Pimsleur Approach has shown.

Second, while there are similar sounds there are also unique sounds that are not made in the English language. Sounds, which are often so different, the English speaker is unable to correctly form their mouth, tongue, lips, etc. in order to make the sound. This seems to be more prevalent in Mandarin than in Thai. Because of the complexity of Thai and Mandarin, the slightest variation in the way you hold your lips or position your tongue can mean the difference between communicating and just making strange sounds. This goes both ways, though. There are some sounds in the English language that are difficult for native Thai and Mandarin speakers to make. In both cases, Thai/Mandarin -> English and English -> Thai/Mandarin, the trouble comes partly from the fact that the native speakers mouth/lips/tongue/etc. are not used to the subjectively strange positions they need to be in in order to make the correct sound. As a simple example, there is a sound that is most closely approximated by an native English speaker by saying the "U" while spreading your lips in as wide a smile as possible. This is a learned trait and becomes more pronounced the longer someone has only spoken their native language. Young children up to teens are much more able to adapt themselves to handle the sounds made in both languages. This is why you find that older people tend to have a more pronounced accent to their speech when speaking a non-native language. A person could have their first 20 years immersed in their "native" language then another 30 in their "second" language yet will likely still have an accent that can be heard in their speech.

Finally, and most importantly, there are the tones. Both Thai and Mandarin are tonal languages. This means that the tone used when saying a word or phrase will change the meaning, often quite drastically. Thai has five tones while Mandarin has four. In Thai the tones are mid-level, low falling, high, and raising. In Mandarin the tones are high, rising, falling~raising, and falling. The third tone here starts out high then falls to low and then raises back up. Tones are the most difficult thing that English speakers have to learn. When you start out the tones are imperceptible; they all sound the same. But, with practice and help, they can eventually be heard and even spoken. I can speak some of the phrases in Thai that I have learned with no accent. Sometimes I am mistaken as being fluent in Thai by some native Thai speakers. They quickly learn that I am far from that. But I take it as a compliment.

So what does this all mean? My limited exposure to the two languages leads me to believe that Thai speakers will have an easier time speaking English than those who speak Mandarin. Conversely, it will be easier for English language natives to speak Thai than Mandarin. This is true only when not considering the tones. Factoring the tones in the Thai/Mandarin -> English is much easier than the other way. This is not unique, really. I also happen to know a lot of German plus some Italian & French. From the perspective of being able to be understood, it is much easier to go from pretty much any language to English.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

One year on Blogger

I just noticed that I'm coming up on my first anniversary with Blogger. While I started "blogging" on Kuro5hin in 2001 and moved to .Mac using iBlog in late 2003, it is here on Blogger that things seem to fit best. K5 was quite good for a while but it, as with anything that gets popular, got inundated by idiots whose sole purpose was to try and disrupt everything that happened on K5. iBlog was a fantastic tool and had all kinds of features but it only ran on a Mac and worked best with a .Mac account. Now, I have both a Mac and a .Mac account but it is just much easier to blog from anywhere using just about any system. So, in just a few days it'll be one year. WhooHoo!

On the cover of a Newhouse Story

A few weeks ago I received an email from a reporter who was doing a story on only children. Somehow she found this blog and, noting that I have an only child, wanted to interview me for said story. Initially I was surprised that she actually found this place but I agreed to a phone interview. It went well and I thought, "I could be in a news publication that wasn't techie or Linux specific. Far out." Shortly after the interview she called back and asked if it would be ok to have a photographer come out and take some pictures with the potential of having one appear in the article. Again I thought, "Even farther out." The photographer came over and took about a thousand pictures of everything from me picking my son up from school, us doing his homework, us playing PS2, and just hanging out in the back yard. About two weeks later the article was published. It is available on the Newhouse website at -

It not the cover of the Rolling Stone but it seems that I am getting my 15 minutes of fame in 30 second increments. :-)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Comments on the Spanish GP

The Flying Finn just crushed everyone else. Kimi started from P1 and never lost the lead of the race. Fernando Alonzo, the obvious crowd favorite rocketed out of the gate, as the Renaults are wont to do, and jumped from P3 blasting past Mark Webber who started in P2. The Ferrari's didn't fair well this time out. Rubens ended up just out of the points at 9 while Michael left on lap 46 with some major tire failures. As for Kimi, he had been saying that the McLaren-Mercedes was much better than the field if it could finish a race. And he was right.

As for the Championships, it looks like the Schumacher/Ferrari dominance will finally be broken. While it's still very early in the season there's good indications that we will have a new Drivers Champion in what seems like a hundred years. Time will tell.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Extremely late comments on the San Marino GP

I didn't get to see it but the race was a scorcher. Renault won for the fourth time in as many races and Fernando Alonso took his third straight win but only by 0.2s over Michael Schumacher in the new Ferrari F2005. Ferrari had been running the F2004 car for the first 4 races due to some issues with the F2005. But it seems to have been ironed out. Maybe. Rubens Barrichello went out on lap 18 of the 62 lap race with "electrical problems."

Jenson Button and Takuma Sato disqualified from third and fifth respectively following a BAR weight infringement. Thursday the BAR-Honda team was handed a two-race suspension due to the infringement. Additionally, a 25-second penalty was added to Ralf Schumacher's race time for an unsafe pit lane maneuver. This took him from what could have been a sixth place finish to just out of the points in ninth. Team Toyota will not be happy with that.

Red Bull Racing finished in the points again and have now scored points in every race so far. Granted it's not been at the same level as Renault. The former Jaguar-Cosworth team has scored 7, 4, 1 and 1 points for a total of 13. However, that is enough to put them in sixth place in the Constructors Championship.

2005 Drivers Championship
Pos Driver Nationality Team Points
1 Fernando Alonso Spanish Renault 36
2 Jarno Trulli Italian Toyota 20
3 Giancarlo Fisichella Italian Renault 10
3= Michael Schumacher German Ferrari 10
5 Nick Heidfeld German Williams-BMW 9
5= Ralf Schumacher German Toyota 9
5= David Coulthard British Red Bull Racing 9
5= Mark Webber Australian Williams-BMW 9
9 Rubens Barrichello Brazilian Ferrari 8
9= Juan Pablo Montoya Colombian McLaren-Mercedes 8
11 Kimi Räikkönen Finnish McLaren-Mercedes 7
12 Alexander Wurz Austrian McLaren-Mercedes 6
13 Jacques Villeneuve Canadian Sauber-Petronas 5
14 Pedro de la Rosa Spanish McLaren-Mercedes 4
15 Christian Klien Austrian Red Bull Racing 3
16 Felipe Massa Brazilian Sauber-Petronas 2
17 Vitantonio Liuzzi Italian Red Bull Racing 1

2005 Constructors Championship
Pos Constructor Points
1 Renault 46
2 Toyota 29
3 McLaren-Mercedes 25
4 Ferrari 18
4= Williams-BMW 18
6 Red Bull Racing 13
7 Sauber-Petronas 7
Now it's on to Spain, where there's sure to be one or two people cheering for Alonso.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

On Telecommuting

[If this seems semi-coherent that's because it's 3am. But I believe the idea behind this is sound.]

It seems that I am not quite setup for telecommuting. Not from the technical aspect. I got all the hardware and software I would need to do the kind of work I do. It's more like the world isn't quite organized and ready for it. Very few organizations have a defined policy for it and those that do have such widely desperate methodologies it's a wonder that anything could get done. Someone needs to organize and create a simple plan that can be used by everyone to build their policies on. It's true that the actual needs and technical situations of every organization will be different but the overall policy can be done as a framework upon which the specific needs can be fairly simple to merge. People forget that a policy is not supposed to be a technical guideline but a methodology to use for creating or using whatever the policy covers. I'll bet dollars to donuts that there is already an ISO policy for telecommuting. I'll also bet that it's not used by many, if any, organizations. This leads to the splintering effect and to what we have today. If there were some way to develop/implement/enforce a policy across the board then maybe I could get a job where I could be all setup to telecommute.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Car accidents

My son was in a car accident this morning. His second mother (it's a long story) was bringing him home so he could go to school and some kid who was speeding ran into them. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt. The kid had to go to the emergency room. My son was quite a bit shaken up, this was his second accident but this time he was in the front seat. The pickup he was in didn't have a back seat. The air-bags deployed but he had already turned his head away so it just got him in the cheek. His ankle was bruised or sprained, the kid hit the passengers side of the pickup. Anyway, we kept hi home today and are going to take him in for a "just-to-be-safe" doctor visit tomorrow. Hhmmm... I should try and remember to call the school about tomorrow.

It all reminded me of the accidents I'd been in over the years. Most were fender benders but two were significant. One was when a guy pushed me off of the road into snow and ice which caused the car to crash into the middle guard rail, slide right over two lanes and hit a small snow bank at the foot of a retaining wall. I was ok but the car was totaled. It was my sisters car. She'd only had it for a couple of weeks. She was not amused.

The other one was fairly serious. My head when through the front window and everyone in the car was hurt to some degree. Nothing bad enough for hospital but more than just a little bump. The passengers were my two brothers and our sister. Afterwards I was very shaken up, mostly about the fact that I could have caused one of my siblings to be critically hurt or worse. The cause, though, was the right front tire blew out on a snow covered road. We went down a 12 to 15 foot embankment where the care ended up lying on the drivers side after doing a couple of rolls. There was more but these were the highlights. For weeks after I could still see the car rolling whenever I'd close my eyes.

Lots of stuff I can't remember

There's been so many things I wanted to post on here but just keep forgetting to. Hell, I still haven't even seen the results from the F1 race two weekends ago. Here's some things I can remember...


Ok, I can't remember squat. I should carry something around with me like a mini-tape recorder so I can at least get the idea or subject I am thinking about down for possible future postings. I have one of these around somewhere. It's probably in a box in the garage with all the other crap I can't find. Oh well... A lot happened today so I'll post separate entries for them.

Unless I forget.