Friday, July 29, 2005

Beyond ridiculous acts of vanity

Warning! The following content might not be suitable for some viewers. If you find comments about various specific body parts objectionable please do not go any further!

You have been warned.



A couple of months back I was flipping through the radio stations in my car and ran across a discussion about the latest body enhancement fad that's going around. The hook was that the DJ's could not say what it was on the air. If you called them (and got through) they could tell you over the phone. Well, being a curious sort, I called. When I got through I discovered that the latest and greatest in "plastic surgery" is -

Anal Bleaching

Yes, the in thing is to make your asshole nice and pristine looking as, well, I can't imagine. The whole shaving off of all pubic hair was bad enough (people, especially women, look so UN-sexy like that) but it had some very minor though highly speculative health benefits. Very speculative in my opinion. But this has got to be the most useless and idiotic cosmetic procedure in the history of vanity. Seriously.

And in case you're wondering (yeah, I can see the tension of anticipation from here), I have not nor will I ever avail myself of either of these fads.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Comments on the German GP

"If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all."
This could be Kimi's theme song. He started from poll and just blasted his way to a 38 second lead. Then what happens? He loses hydraulics and, boom, out of the race. I believe that the commentators said that he's never finished at Hockenheim. This gave Alonso the lead and, eventually, the race.

One of the big stories was JP. He spun out on the last curve during qualifying, while on a pace to take poll, and had to start dead last in P-20. However, the fact that the weather was cool helped him immensely. Known for his amazing ability to race with cool tired, he stomped up the line to finish the race in second. This race showed that the McLaren cars are the fastest on the track. If it weren't for the mechanical problems he's had Kimi would now be leading the drivers race with seven wins. But all the "what if's" in the world won't change the fact that Alonzo has six wins and a virtual lock on the championship.

Jacques had a bit of a rough time himself. He finished way back but being hit two or three times can do that to you. He had to come in for a nose change and various other fixes. Seemed like everyone was running into him.

Michael started in P-5 but jumped over Jenson to take 3rd at the start. He was holding onto it fairly well until the later stages of the race. The Bridgestone tires started wearing out badly. This let Jenson retake third for his second podium of the season. Even Giancarlo jumped him with one lap to go to drop Michael into 5th place. He finished just in front of his brother. Ferrari is really struggling with the lack of performance this year. I think it's primarily the tires but there's definitely more than just that. Poor Rubens was just toasted and ended up a real non-factor this race.

David C has been doing his part for Red Bull. He finished in the points again giving the "new" team even more respect. I think that this is a team to watch in the coming years.

It looks like a win in both the driver and constructors championships are within Renaults grasp. At least they are theirs to lose. All they need is to keep racking up decent points and it's all theirs. While I am a die-hard Ferrari/Michael/Rubens fan, I can also acknowledge the fact that McLaren and Renault are the better teams this year. And it is good to have some new champions every once and a while.

Lastly I want to talk about the race coverage. This race was broadcast by CBS instead of the regular Speed Channel team. While the coverage was good and the commentators knowledgeable they lacked the style and familiarity that Bob, David & Steve have. Props to CBS to try and get more US coverage of F1 but it's not the same with out "the guys." Thankfully we'll see them again in Hungary this Sunday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Comcast really sucks

You know, for the leading broadband service provider, Comcast is the pits. I have not had a decent connection, or any connection for that matter, in months. Every time I call their support, on the rare occasions I can actually get through to a human, they say that there's no problems on their end. Bull puckies! I'm writing this post using drivel on 7/27/05 at approximately 10:00 with no connection to the world. We'll have to see how long it takes before I can get it up online. It might be worth it to put a phone line in the house and get Verizon DSL. The cost of a line plus service shouldn't be more than the cable "broadband" I'm paying for now.

[Fast Forward]

It's now 13:45 and I have a link. Hopefully this will stay up for more than a few hours. I still think Comcast sucks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What do you do...

...when you're falling you've got 30 degrees and your
stalling out
And its 24 miles to the beacon there's a crack in the sky and the
warnings out

Don't take that dive again
Push through that band of rain

Five miles out
Just hold your heading true
Got to get your finest out
Your number 1 anticipating you

Climbing out
Just hold your heading true
Got to get your finest out
Your number 1 anticipating you

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday
Calling all stations
This is Golf Mike Oscar Victor Juliet
IMC CU.NIMB.ICING
In great difficulty
Over

The traffic controller is calling
Victor Juliet your identity
I have lost in the violet storm
Communicate or squawk emergency

Don't take that dive again
Push through that band of rain

Lost in Static 18
And the storm is closing in now
Automatic 18 - Got to push through - Trapped in living hell

Your a prisoner of the dark sky
The propeller blades are still
And the evil eye of the hurricane's
Coming in now for the kill

Our hope's with you - Rider in the blue

Welcome's waiting, We're anticipating
You'll be celebrating, when you're down, and braking

Climbing out - climbing climbing
Five miles out - climbing climbing

Five miles out
Just hold your heading true
Got to get your finest out
Climbing Climbing

Five miles out
Just hold your heading true
Got to get your finest out
Climbing Climbing

Climbing out
Just hold your heading true
Got to get your finest out
Climbing Climbing

Five miles out
Just hold your heading true
Got to get your finest out
Climbing Climbing

Climbing out
Just hold your heading true
Got to get your finest out


Sometimes it's just easier to say it with a song. In this case it's "Five Miles Out" by Mike Oldfield. If you don't know who he is then I suggest you go and get some of his work.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The downside up of things

Sometimes it just takes a swift kick in the pants. Sometimes it take a slow, steady path. Sometimes it happens and you don't even know it.

So what the hell am I talking about? Good question. Anyone have any idea? No? Me either.

Comcast really sucks! Lately I'm lucky if I can squeeze one or two hours of online time. Broadband my @ss. I got your broadband right here, buddy. Tomorrow I'm going to call and yell at them. And if they give me any crap about no support because I'm not running Windows they're really in for it. I drive to the frelling local office and raise hell.

Another call-and-yell target is the garbage people. They pick up on Tuesday and Friday mornings. Last Friday they never picked my garbage up. Got everyone else's on the street. Left my stinking pile right were it was. I know I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed but it seems to me that someone who is providing a service that I am paying for should actually provide said service. Call me crazy.

Saturday I had a fun day. I met with a local Thai Language group for lunch at a local Thai restaurant for some great food and lots of stimulating conversation. We did spend most of the time speaking English, though. But it was still fun. The group started on Meetup but when Meetup went to a pay system everyone bailed. The group usually meets in the DC area as it's central for everyone. They came down my way because they know I can't make it up there. It was a very nice gesture.

After lunch I went shopping with my {I need to find something to call her other than "The Chinese Lady"}. I drove and we were going to a outlet mall about 45 or 50 minutes away. Well, after being on the road for almost two hours I figured that we'd passed it. The extra driving wasn't so bad because she likes all that Nature and Mountains and Trees stuff. So we backtrack and there's the darn thing with a great big sign in front. Fine, whatever. We walked to two or three stores before I had to bail out and sit on a bench for the duration of the shopping. It wasn't bad because the weather was splendid and I brought my harmonica with me. I sat there and played some blues riffs for two hours by the time she made it back around. Oh, I did buy belt for myself while there.

After the shopping we came back and spent a few hours talking about us and what "us" is and what we are looking for and how we might be better able to reach that goal. It's a little hard because she's of the "Actions speak louder than words" side and I'm of the "I can't read your mind; for $DEITY's sake just tell me" variety. We spend at least an hour-and-a-half talking about the same thing that we both agree on but from different perspectives. Like two sides of the same coin. She did admit that I am attractive to her and she doesn't mind holding hands and even a quick smooch (just not where anyone can see, which still cracks me up). Unfortunately, she is going to be very busy this week and I'll be away for a family reunion this weekend and a good portion of next week. That will give us about three weeks to try and get in as much dating as possible before school starts. Not that I plan to stop when it does. It's just easier to make plans and coordinate things now.

Just finished watching the movie Constantine. It was interesting and had some perspectives not normally seen in movies from the big studios.

I'm going to bed now. Hopefully the 'Net connection will be up long enough to post this in the morning.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Free Bird

Still no sleep.

Skynyrd is on now.
I'm thinkin' that a free bird is what I should be.
I'm getting nowhere now.
No road ahead of me.
It's all impenetrable forest.
Maybe I can fly away.

God I really love this song.
It's not just the lyrics.
The guitars are beyond description.
Gary on slide during the first half.
Then it's Allen.
You can hear it all him in the studio version.
On the live album it's him starting out then Steve comes in with the second lead.
Gary may have taken the lions share of leads over the first life of the band but it was Allen who touched me.
Free Bird and his leads on That Smell are, well, words fail me.

The bottomless pit that is our banking system has opened up for me again.
I had a couple of $8 and $12 charges that were over limit and they slapped on the overdraft penalty.
It even went up from $33 to $34 a pop.
So instead of being $35 in the hole I'm somewhere closer to $350 in the red.
I should start looking for stuff I can sell off.
I'd do eBay, but that's like work.
Maybe try the local pawn shops first.
My wedding band should be worth something.
And I have a ton of perfectly good computer(s) and parts that are just gathering dust.

Maybe sell everything and move to Jamaica.
No, Italy.
No, maybe South East Asia.
Thailand would be good.
No, still not right.
I need my own Island.
Just a small house, electricity, plumbing, 'Net access...
Get food drops from a C-130.
Yeah, that's the ticket.

Mush a ring-a ma doo duh ma da

Whack for my daddy'o
Whack for my daddy'o, there's
Whiskey in the jar'o


Another sleepless night. Having a bunch of these lately. Can't figure out why.

Got a call today from a head hunter (i.e. Recruiter). This in itself isn't anything spectacular. My resume has been out there since November when I got laid off. And while I haven't been actively pursuing jobs I still get about a call a week. They're all like, "You have a great skill set. We have a job for you." So I say, "Thank you. But I can only work part-time." That's when I get the, "Oh. Well we don't have anything part-time. If something comes up we'll call you." I'm just holding my breath 'till they do. There's no real likelihood that I'll find a job in my career field. There aren't any part-time high-end techie jobs. But this time I didn't get the immediate hang-up. The recruiter said that the job opening has been open for a while and they desperately need to fill it. Seems they want a lot of experience but aren't willing to pay for it. Whatever. So the head huntress says she's going to try and get me a face-to-face with someone at the company. If she can do that I have a fairly good shot at getting something. Maybe. Half of someone is better than the nothing they have now. We'll see.

Women. Can't live with 'em and you can't shoot 'em. Between my ex and my... uhm... well... whatever we are now, I'm going to have a psychotic episode or something. One is such a flake it's hard to keep up. The other is coming from a different planet, or at least a different part of the planet. I'm shell shocked. I might have a date for Saturday but apparently I won't know until I'm on it. Or something.

I just read on Yahoo; Brazilians used Orkut as drug distribution network. Is anyone shocked by this? If you are then you've been living under a rock. I think I still have an Orkut login. I've been talked into joining all these "social networks" like Orkut and LinkedIn and such. I don't have the time or inclination to actually mess with these things. I'm a hermit now anyway so I don't want to be social.

Damn! Fell asleep at the switch. It's a good thing I got some tunes on. I'm making a collection of driving songs. These are songs that make driving more fun (and occasionally go a hair faster than the speed limit). Right at this moment Dio's Rainbow In The Dark is on. I already went through Stiff Upper Lip from AC/DC, Fireball from Deep Purple, Paranoid (if you don't know who did this song you should be ashamed of yourself!), and Highway to Hell (again, if you don't know...). Barracuda from Heart is next up. I got 27 songs so far. Lucky for me I don't have a CD player in my car. All I'd need is to get pulled over for speeding. Now it's The Trooper from Iron Maiden. The song about The Charge of the Light Brigade. I can't watch that movie without hearing this song in my head during the charge. If you haven't seen this movie, again you should be ashamed.

Well, it's still dark out. I really should get to sleep. Sooner or later. Looks like it'll be later.

The F/X Cable channel is has been showing reruns of Buffy. I almost forgot how good this show was. They are on the, what, 5th season now. The one with Dawn and Glory. {Wheel in the Sky... keeps on turnin'} I wish I could buy the entire series on DVD. I still haven't seen the last season.

"Helpless people on subway trains scream, bug-eyed as he looks in on them." I think I got the last Godzilla movie that Toho will make. At least they say they are retiring the big guy. I hope not. Godzilla is a very special favorite of mine. Well, Miki Saegusa, played by Megumi Odaka, is another one. But of all the movies I've seen I think that the original 1954 version (the 1956 reedit with Raymond Burr will do in a pinch) and the 1999 release Godzilla 2000 are the best.

Ah! The sun is coming up now. I guess I might try and get a few winks in. Mmm... Rock Bottom by UFO. Michael Schenker is a god with the guitar. It's to bad he isn't less of a Brian Wilson and more like his older brother.

Saturday could turn out to be a good day. I'm meeting with a local Thai Language Enthusiasts group at 1230 then, hopefully, going out on the date mentioned above. I'm not holding my breath but it really would be nice to see if something is happening between us. I need a crash course in Mandarin as well as some background in the cultural make up of a Chinese woman my age. Heh, even with that and mind reading I don't think it'll help me any.

Well, nothing like stream of consciousness bloging. I'll try it sometime when I'm not semiconscious.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

ED

Lately I have noticed there are a lot of ads on TV for meds to treat Erectile Dysfunction (what used to be called impotence). There's one where this mature yet sexy brunet is going on about her husband/partner/boyfriend is using this particular medication and now he's a jackhammer (or something along those lines). I haven't done any research into ED but it seems to me that we, society, are starting to work our way into a spin cycle.

ED can be caused by physical as well as mental/emotional reasons. Stress, depression and all that stuff. But it's also caused by chemicals. The ones I'm specifically referring to are the meds that everyone and his brother are on. With the relaxing of the whole medication approval system by the FDA some years ago it seems like there are more and more new pills to cure us form anything and everything that is happening to us.

This I know because I'm one of the ones who's taking a bunch of meds for a number of reasons. I'm taking stuff for Fibromyalgia, prostrate, sleeping disorder, depression, acid reflux and pills to help me sleep. It's a wonder I can get up (out of bed in the morning) let alone get up. So far it looks like I'm not totally incapacitated in that area. Everything still works well enough. But it's a miracle it does. Hell, I'm so doped up it's a miracle anything works on me.

But I digress.

The topic was ED. My thoughts on it are that the meds being prescribed for ED are just helping to pollute us so that we will need more meds to fix that which will in turn require meds to alleviate the symptoms brought on by that new wonder drug. <big breath>

What good is it to take pills to make your life better if you have to take pills to offset them in the first place?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Another new picture

I put up a new, more (or less) flattering, picture. It should start showing up when the site starts refreshing it's cache or something. You could probably flush your browser cache to see it sooner, too. I almost look like normal human being in this one. Almost.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Deathmatch

My son an I just started playing Time Splitters on the PS2. It's just a basic FPS. I'd played it a little before him so I started out better than he. That lasted about three games. Now, normally I wouldn't let him play a violent game (no GTA here) but this game has no graphic violence, no blood and such, and the bots you kill are mummies and zombies so it's not "real" killing. It's a break from the car/racing games he always plays. FSP's aren't my preferred games, I like games in the style of Way of the Samurai, but it is paradoxically relaxing to just run around and shoot everything in site during a good "deathmatch." One thing that's funny is that we both have different weapon sets we go well with. I can tear up just about any game when the weapon set is only regular guns (pistol, uzi, M-16, shotgun, etc) but he is a master with the plasma set (all types of laser guns and a rocket launcher). It's the rocket launcher that always gets me. I get creamed by anyone who has it yet tend to blow myself up when I have it. Anyway, tomorrow we'll play some more and maybe try building some custom weapon sets.

Friday, July 15, 2005

She's a whole lotta Rosie

Never had a woman, never had a woman like you.
Doin' all the things, doin' all the things you do.
Ain't no fancy story.
Ain't no skin and bone.
But you give it all you got, weighing in at 19 stone.
It's the first verse of a great, all-time classic song from AC/DC. I love the song but recently have been wondering what 19 stone weighs. Lo and behold, I have a neat tool for doing measurement conversions. I plug in 19 stone and get back the weight in pounds. So, what is 19 stone?

266 lbs.

Damn, that's a whole lotta Rosie. :-)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ok, maybe I got some sanity now

A great man gave me some words of wisdom, and a boot to the head. This, along with the thoughts my previous post brought up have made me realize I've been looking at the whole thing through my ear hole. Bass ackwards, as it were. It's all about me. No one else, just me.

I was asked today why, when leaving voicemail, I refer to myself as "Just Joe."
"Hi there. It's just Joe. I was calling to..."
Why? I'll tell you why.

!WARNING! Long roundabout story follows !WARNING!

Because I didn't want them to think it was an important call. There's a LOT of stuff that this indicates about me. None of it positive. See, I've had a mega-huge inferiority complex since I was, well, since forever. There are many reasons for it, all external to my being. It wasn't until high school when I realized that I was ok. I was someone who wasn't getting the shit kicked out of him daily. This stemmed from playing football. Not like in the movies, not like "Friday Night Lights" or "Varsity Blues." This was in Germany where I went to the American high school. We played for a hand full of fans, mostly family. But the play was real and the caliber was much better than people in the States would believe. I played all four years and my dad was the head coach. I got no special treatment from him nor did he ride me harder than any of the other players. Over the years I evolved into the starting center my senior year. After a few practices and the first three games I was considered the anchor of the offensive line. This brought respect from fellow players and other students. Since then I've been through a number of situations and cities and lives and with each one I get a little better with my self esteem. The years that passed helped as well. But I still haven't gotten it completely eradicated. There's still a tiny little voice in my head telling me that I will fail. Events of the last year and a half have not done anything to make this little voice quieter.

Fast forward to today. My resistance was warn down by lack of sleep and the events of the last few days so the little voice was able to shout a bit louder. I've kicked it's ass and sent it back into the black depths from whence it came. Now it's time for some R&R. And that's exactly what I'll be getting tomorrow. My son will be home for the weekend. There's no amount of self doubt or insecurity that can get past the joy and happiness I have when he's with me. Fear is irrelevant. Doubt is irrelevant. Nothing... Nothing! Is more wonderful than children and my child is the world to me. Life will be good. Period.

No qyestions, no maybes, no wavering.

Just him.

**Censored**

I FUCKING HATE THE UNIVERSE!!!

Not six hours after I posted my "Keep your shit together, man, and don't fuck-up anything with the girl" ramblings I go and fuck it up. Damn, I'm swearing a lot. I'm just so pissed-off today it's not even funny. Maybe it's the weather or something. It doesn't help that I'm still sitting here with absolutely no hope. Comcast's piece-of-shit "broadband" Internet service has been killing me as well. I spend more time a day not being able to connect to anything than I do connected. How the fuck can I get anything done with this kind of service? And now, to top it all off, I can't find the bloody book I was reading. A short story collection by Isaac Azmov, the greatest writer in the known (and unknown) universe. Oh, which reminds me...

I HATE THE FUCKING UNIVERSE!!!

Thought I'd switch it up a bit. Just for variety.

Man, when I go down in flames it's damn near spectacular. I spend nearly an hour on the phone talking to my potential. It started out good and all was fine until the discussion got onto the general aspect of what she's looking for in a man. The more I talk about who and what I am the less promising I look as a suitor. This seems to happen when we talk in the phone or by email. The language thing again. At least she's agreed that we should get together to do any more talking about this kind of stuff. But it still isn't likely that it will make up for it. Maybe she was right the second time about me not being the right man for her. But if that's the case why the surprise phone call? And what the heck can I do about who and what I am? I mean it's not like I can...
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Pardon me, I'm pondering this over a bit. It seems to help when I write it down. I'm going to leave this post open ended for now and comeback later when I get my head sorted out.

The only thing we have to fear...

Fear. What does that word mean? Well the dictionary says -
1 a : an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. 1 b (1) : an instance of this emotion (2) : a state marked by this emotion
Now that's all well and good but what does it mean? It's different for everyone and everyone has it. The key is what you do with it. Now, myself, I can handle fear of the outside nature fairly well. By outside I mean things that happen outside of your head. Yes, I'll jump at an unexpected surprise and I have a tremendous fear of heights. But the fear I want to discuss now is the fear that paralyzes you and keeps you from accomplishing many things.

There are two fears that are currently trying to hold me hostage. The first is my fear of programming. Strange, isn't it. I love programming. I'm not totally inept at it. But it seems I'm intimidated by the scope of the code available in the open source world. I'm afraid of C/C++. This is why I keep bouncing around the edges of open source projects. I help here and there but never with any serious amounts of code. I'm also not very good at coming up with ideas for things to develop. So I'd have to attach onto an existing project. This would mean joining people who already have started coding. And no matter how experienced they might be I'm afraid that I will just bollix up whatever I try and do. It's a fear of not being able to be able to code. I just recently realized this fear. Maybe with the realization of it I might be able to try and overcome it.

The second is one that's not uncommon at all, though not easy to put into words. It's the paranoia and doubt and fear that happens when you are dealing with someone in a "relationship" context. This primarily manifests itself early on. Both men and women experience this. It comes just as you are starting to move into the romantic phase but is not limited to there. You worry that you're not quite good enough for your SO so you try and over compensate. You also worry that you're being strung along. Both of these relate to self esteem issues. It's the, "I'm not really good enough for this person so I have to try harder and I also have to worry that (s)he is just playing me and seeing others behind my back." There's a small amount of jealousy in there but jealousy is also a self esteem symptom. Right now I'm fighting this one very hard. I'm doing two things that are not good things to do when in the beginning of a relationship. One, I'm calling her to many times. Two, I'm having wild irrational feelings that she's with another man. The first is compounded by the fact that I can never get a hold of her. I can call work, cell & home and all I get is voicemail. This leads to my calling more times than necessary, thus making me look like I'm a needy insecure little boy in a man's (broken down) body. The second comes with the, "So why am I not reaching her?" question. The paranoid feelings that she's with someone else who she thinks is better start running wild in your brain. Well, my brain at least. Now, this actually has happened to me before, which doesn't help things at all. But I have been given no sign that this is the case now and, in fact, have been given strong signs that I'm on the right track. If I were being strung along and used like I describe it would mean assigning some very serious dishonest and duplicitous characteristic's to her. I've been given absolutely no indications whatsoever that anything remotely unsorted is going on. We've known each other now for 3 years and she's always been slightly deficient at taking and returning calls. This is primarily because she's quite busy and also because she seems to share a character trait that I have in abundance. Forgetfulness. Over the years I've found that, when when it comes to assigning people personality traits, the simplest one is likely to be the correct one. In this case there's intentional deceit and dishonesty on one hand and forgetfulness on the other. One requires a lot of effort and skill and planning while the other, well, doesn't. Thus I have no real reason to be paranoid. But rationality often has a hard time trumping irrationalities. So, again, I must work to overcome these feelings and fears.

Where does this leave me? First, I must overcome my fear of programming. It doesn't matter if I stink initially. It's been over 10 years since I was a real programmer and then it was with different technology. I just need to dive in and learn. Second, I cannot let my "fear of girls" paralyze me and cause me to do something that would jeopardize things with our budding relationship. "Pull yourself together, man!"

But then again, just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Stuck in the mud

Last night I went to a dog-and-pony show for potential employment with Primerica. The atmosphere seemed a little to "Rah Rah" for me but they did something I hadn't expected... They actually explained everything that is involved. Usually this kind of thing is just two hours of people telling how great the program is and how many millions they made. No actual discussion of what the actual work is are done until after you sign up (with suitable sign up fee paid up front, of course). The work isn't quite what I prefer in that it involves talking to and dealing with regular humans, i.e. people. Don't get me wrong, I like people. I'm usually quite outgoing, some might say gregarious. The problem is that I talk to much. For a job that does recruiting and sales you need to stay on topic and keep things focused. These are not two of my strong points.

Another worry is how will my disability impact this role? It won't actually impede my ability to do the job. I just sit and talk. The gray area is how it will affect my disability benefits status. Two big points about this are that I can not work full-time hours and I can't make more than a hair over $40K/yr. The way the Primerica job works is that you offer people financial services, life insurance, investment, ect., but you also recruit more people into the "family." These people will then do their selling and recruiting but every time they do sell or recruit you get a kind of handler's bonus. So the more people you bring into the system the more money you make without actually doing anything. This level can only be attained by full-time employees. To keep my benefits I can't get to this level. I will always be at the bottom of the pile. This still has the potential of allowing em to make the $40K in a couple of weeks. Work 20 to 40 hours a year and I'd be set. Sounds good. But I don't know if I'd be happy doing this kind of work.

Truly, I am happiest and at my best hacking something for someone. I know, I know... I should be hacking on some open source project and then just work to pay the bills. There seems to be something blocking me from doing this. Something mental. I try and dig into my head and figure it out but it's slippery and keeps getting away. So I spend my life going nowhere. Stuck in the mud. I need to figure out how to get unstuck. I wonder...

Writing all of this up just gave me an idea. A direction to look. Hhmm... I shall ponder this a bit and see where it goes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

And then there was ping!

The box looks like it's finally up. Thanks to my good friend Dale it's running and I'm connected. Now I need to get all the config stuff done (move over the users, config apache and sendmail and $DEITY knows what else I'm forgetting right now) and it's on to bigger and better things.

I hope.

Knock wood.

Kiss of the blarney stone.

Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please!

Monday, July 11, 2005

It's a go

Can you say "Whoa!?!"

It seems that over the weekend I went from zero to boyfriend in light speed. Well, maybe not "boyfriend." More like being in a budding relationship. I still don't know why it happened but it doesn't really matter. She'll tell me when she's ready. We will have to be very careful of the communications issue and I've discovered that the cultural differences can be interesting. For example...

Last night my family went out to do a birthday dinner for my brother. His birthday is actual today but it's easier to do a family thing on a weekend. After dinner I called and asked if I could swing by her place since I was basically in the neighborhood. Her parents are visiting her and I've wanted to meet them for a while anyway. Before I got there I stopped off and bought a small bouquet of flowers for her mother and a small bunch of pink roses for her. Rose colors have some kind of meaning about them but I don't know anything about that and hoped she didn't either. Anyway, I got there and gave the flowers, which went over quite well. We spent a time just talking, well I talked and she translated to her folks. <Side note>Turns out that her Pops is a famous composer who's career started in the 50's.< /> When it came time to leave and thanks and goodbye's had been said and I ask her if she'd walk me to the car. I asked because I thought she might be hesitant about getting a hug and smooch in front of her folks. When I mentioned this she said something to the effect of, "No! Not in public, people might see. We should have done this inside." Of course, I found this very amusing and couldn't stifle a small [medium] laugh. She asked if we could get in the car and drive around the block away from her neighbors. Even then it was a hug and smooch in the car, just in case. I'm guessing that cultural differences like this will come up again from time to time. My history of growing up in two cultures and of directly experiencing multi-cultural situations and people will, I hope, be a helpful asset.

The one thing that is going to be the most difficult, in my humble opinion, will be the language difference. She is fairly competent in English but not yet what you'd call a "native speaker." For my part, I tend to speak in colloquialisms, slang, euphemisms and metaphors. And I talk to fast. It's not uncommon for normal English speaking humans to have difficulty understanding me. Techies have no problems at all, of course. So I will need to try and talk more better language with her. <Another side note> My writing style is much different that my speech. I write at a higher level and with more elucidation than when I speak.< /> I am also going to learn her native tongue as best I can. It will be very helpful that she has a teenage daughter who can translate/interpret for us. At least some of the time.

So, bottom line is I'm in the beginnings/middle of a relationship. This is a very good thing<TM>. I think I've gotten a handle on my feelings and fears and hopes and dreads now. I have only one concern; How will she react when she finds out the extent of my physical condition? After all, what woman would want to be with a guy who's slowly headed to a wheelchair?

Comments on the British GP

"After all the heartache he’s suffered since switching from Williams to McLaren this year, Juan Pablo Montoya finally came good to score his first victory for the silver arrows at Silverstone this afternoon."
That may be the headlines but there was more than just JP's win. The start of the race saw Taku's BAR-Honda stall in gear just before making the grid. But when the lights went out JP just blasted his McLaren-Mercedes from the second row to get in front of Alonzo, who had poll for the second straight race. Alonzo's Renault made one of it's patented rocket starts but JP just exploded out of the gate like a missile. Also again for the second straight race, Jarno held up the rest of the pack such as to let the two leaders build up an unbeatable lead. Michael was right behind Jarno, again for the second straight race, and I'm sure he had some choice words for the Italian. He and Rubens finished 6th and 7th. The closest that Alonzo got was after the second pit stop but JP just squeaked by him to keep the lead to the finish. The second story was the Flying Finn. Again, just like last race (there seems to be a pattern here), Kimi qualified 3rd but was sent back to 12th due to an engine change. But just like last race he came storming up through the field to eventually get third. Giancarlo actually had third sewn up but, blah blah last race, stalled his car on the second stop to hand Kimi the podium. I just keep thinking that for a couple of breaks Kimi would be leading the Drivers Championship. Three wrecks when he had wins in the bag and these two changed engine penalties and he could conceivably have 7 wins. As it stands Alonzo widened his lead on Kimi and Renault broke into triple digits in the Constructors Championship. At the moment it looks like no one will be able to match McLaren-Mercedes and Renault this season. At least this will be a two horse race, unlike last year.

Now it's on to Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix in two weeks. Can Michael pull a win off in his home race?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

More fun followup

I spent 4 hours working on that frelling machine. I got the system reinstalled and everything looks good (no obvious sendmail errors) but now the ethernet link isn't working. There's lights on the switch and on the box but no matter how I try and config it I get "Destination unreachable" kind of errors. At first I thought it might be the on-board NIC so I disabled it in the BIOS and put a NIC card in. La-de-da-de-da and everything came up cool. Start the networking and what do I get? Same error. I need to get with my buddy and see if there's maybe a cable problem or config issue on his switch. I really hate when things don't work for no reason.

More fun today

I got a few things to do today.
  • Get the left front tire fixed
  • Drive the hour-or-so trek up to the CoLo site and try to fix snowball
  • Go to a birthday dinner for my youngest brother
I'd say to send him a birthday email but his email is down, too. Both my brothers and my mother use snowball for mail, as well as a hand full of others. If/when I get the box back into working mode I wonder how many of them will stick around. Not that it really matters. The box is there for me and my family. Anyone else is welcome but as I try to tell everyone the system is not (yet) stable and could suffer from some extended down time. Like now. But if I get this box working it should stay up and solid for a long time. Oop! Gotta run. Pep Boys opens in half an hour and they do first come, first served. Wish me luck

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Something strange has happened

I know, when has something strange not happened. But this is, well, I don't know. Last Thursday night was one of the most wonderful, fun, compelling, emotional, beautiful, happy, relaxed, special... There just aren't enough superlatives to describe it. The last time I experienced the sheer joy and contentment was in February 2002. Those who know will understand this. For everyone else, let's just say it was beyond great. There are, however, a few unknown variables that are hanging over head like Damocles sword.

The biggest question is how did the whole thing happen? Thursday evening, about 6'ish, I was blindsided by a completely unexpected phone call from a very unexpected caller. It was a pleasant surprise in that the caller is someone special. Within a few minutes I found myself agreeing to a movie date. Ok, I'm thinking, this could be fun. A good movie (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, go see it!) followed by some food and drink or the like. She drove down here and I picked her up. We thought it would be easier in one car and hers was in a relatively safe place. So off we went to the movie. We both enjoyed it very much and left the theater in good spirits. I asked about getting something to eat or drink, but as the night was already upon us, I didn't think there'd be much time for anything. After all it was a work day. Boy was I wrong.

Color me blind when the reply was a suggestion to go to my house. I had no problem with that and decided to stop off and get some munchies. I needed gas anyway. I got some chips & dip, some bier and gas (over $20 to fill 9 gallons!!). Then off to my place. We sat and made smalltalk as we munched on chips and salsa. At some point, it was suggested that we watch a movie (The Last Samurai, go buy the DVD!). As the movie progressed it seemed that neither of us was really paying attention to it. I was asked to turn off the lights, one by one, until the lighting was of a "romantic" flavor. It was then asked if I had some romantic music. Now, my iTunes collection only has 1186 songs in it, most of which would not be categorized as romantic (can you say Metal?). I did come across some Candy Dulfer and put it on. You can probably see where this is going. All I'll say is that the next morning I took her back to her car. As I drove home I kept thinking how purely happy I was that this had come about. But again how did it come about?

Right now I am in the position of having many questions with no answers. Did I just get myself into a relationship? Was it just something that happened? Was it just a one time thing? What comes next? Will there even be a next? But the biggest question lies not in the immediate questions but in a deeper, older one. See, we have known each other for a tad over 2 years. We started as friends in the summer of 2003. Friends with potential but that fell through for reasons I can't remember. Then in the summer of 2004 I was surprised by an email asking if we might try it again. Unfortunately that was a bad year for both of us. We would end up in what appeared to me to be a misalignment. We weren't compatible and we both felt that the other was just not quite the right person for ourselves. Of course the language issue didn't help at all. Yet we would still remaining friends. This is where things were when I got the phone call. Something changed that led to the call. There are a few things I know of that happened which were potentially life altering in nature. Maybe part of what happened the other day is related to that. But in reality, I have no clue what's going on. Why should this be different.

I seem to be clueless about so many things in life these days. Hopefully we will have a chance to get together and figure out at least some of what's going on. Until then I just need to keep doing what I'm doing and hope that someday someone will shine a little light out there and I'll get a glimpse of whatever the heck is going on. But I'll probably just be left in the dark... Swinging in the wind... Flapping in the breeze... Floating on the tide... Drifting at sea... Just plain lost.

Friday, July 08, 2005

HELP! Sendmail is killing me

I have been without email for over a week now. I finally upgraded my server from Red Hat 6.2 to CentOS 4 (a Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone). This is a good thing in the long run but the disparity between the software in RH 6.2 and RHEL 4 is so great that I am having a real rough time bring the configurations over. Particularly sendmail. I can't get it to accept mail. It's even rejecting mail from itself. The problem seems to be sendmail's interaction with tcpwarppers and possibly something int he config that is set too securely in order to keep out spam. If I can ever get mail working I plan on setting it up to authenticate users, which will help keep /etc/mail/access from needing dozens of addresses. I still need to work on web and ftp but those are all secondary to mail. If it were just my email it wouldn't as bad but my family and a few friends use this box for their primary email. My mother has made it clear that she wants her email back ASAP. So, if someone out there who might be able to lend a hand (assuming that anyone other than the E-man reads this) I would be greatly appreciative. In the mean time I can be reached at linux.guru@gmail.com, though I'm not feeling like much of a guru these days.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Comments on the French GP

After the debacle that was the US Grand Prix, anticipation was high for this race. Held at the historic Magny-Cours, the veritable back yard of Michelin, the race had a strong supporting cast in the stands. It's also the home of Renault so it was serendipity that Fernando Alonso took poll. Ferrari had it's highest grid position of the year when Michael drove to the second row in P3. The other bit of pre-race intrigue was that Kimi qualified his McLaren-Mercedes at P3 but, because he blew an engine in testing, had to start 10 places back in P13. Jarno Trulli started his Toyota on P2 and that would play a significant factor in the race. At the start the Renault's had their customary rocket-like starts and Alonso used it to build up a huge lead in the first stint of the race. Michael, and the rest of the field, were being held up by Jarno, who was lapping a good 2 seconds slower than Alonso. After the first wave of pit stops, Michael had worked free and brought his car into P2, still miles behind Alonso. But as amazing as Alonso was Kimi was putting on a clinic. Working a 2 stop strategy (most of the field was on 3 stoppers) he charged up the field out-lapping Alonso and, with a much heaver full load, was able to come out of his first stop ahead of Michael in P2. These three would finish in the same position as the only cars on the lead lap. And if the race had about 5 more laps to it Alonso would have lapped Michael as well. Kimi finished 12 seconds back but that was as much Alonso coasting the last few laps than anything else. Michael had mixed feelings in that it was Ferrari's first podium in a real F1 race but coming in 1:22 behind the winner isn't exactly something to write home about.

Renault might have had a better result if Giancarlo Fisichella hadn't run into his monkey again. The bad luck that he's having is reminiscent of what Rubens Barrichello was living with a few seasons ago. After winning the first race Giancarlo's season has been this; Ret, Ret, Ret, 5th, 12th, 6th, Ret, Ret, 6th. He got 10 points in Australia and then 10 more combined over the next 8 races. One of the guys in the Speed Channel commented that some culture feels the number 6 is bad luck. You can guess what number Giancarlo's car is.

Now it's on the Silverstone next Sunday.

The story of Tokyo Rose

I just finished watching a fascinating piece on the History Channel about the story of "Tokyo Rose." If you don't know that name you're to damn young, like the teens on Teen Jeopardy who never heard of the Beatles. But I digress. Anyway, the story was about a native born American of Japanese decent who, through some strange twists of fate, found herself imprisoned for 8 years after being found guilty of treason. It's a very good reminder of the paranoia and witch hunting that the McCarthy era was founded on. And if you don't that what that is, well I would recommend you get to the nearest library and go through the history of the 20th century at a minimum. History is far more than just a bunch of dead guys.

Massive upgrade to snowball

After many years of delays, snowball has finally been upgraded. It's now running on an AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (at 1.526 GHz) with 1 gig of RAM and 180 gig of HD space. It's also been upgraded/converted to run CentOS 4 Linux after laboring for so long under the very old and obsolete Red Hat 6.2 Linux. There's still a bunch of things to finish configuring, like the web server(s) and imap and $DEITY only knows what else I forgot but ssh works so I have the facility and ability to work on those things from home. I did remember at 4am that I forgot to move some of the config files in /etc over and, like a bonehead, I didn't keep a spare copy of the original /etc around for just this situation. However, I still have the drive from the old box so, with a little bit of work, I should be able to get those things worked out sometime before Armageddon. The mirrors are up (more or less), though, so there's at least that. I probably should have rebuilt the content rather than moving everything over, though. There's a lot of kruft lying all over the file systems and it's likely going to cause some conflicts. Anyway, with a little elbow grease and some luck the primary systems should be back online in a week or so (or so).

Sunday, July 03, 2005

New (better?) picture

New picture for the profile. I was trying to get something that was "normal" looking but I fear this one might be just as scary as the last, for different reasons. You be the judge.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Connectivity, from bad to worse?

My home ISP is Comcast. It makes sense since I also have Comcast for my cable TV service. This would be all find and dandy except that, for reasons unfathomable, the 'net connection will occasionally lose it's mind. It's happening more and more. For at least half the day I will be unable to access anything through their service. The cable "modem" will show all green for everything and that there's activity but nothing will get in or out through it. Calling their tech support is, on a good day, useless. Here's some history to show how we got to this broadband, high-speed semi-useless connectivity to the 'Net.

Back in the olden-times, the primary online world consisted of dial-up bulletin boards (BBS's). A BBS would run connected to a phone line and wait for a user to call in. The users would use a simple comm program (my favorite was {COMMO}) to dial through their modem into the BBS. You could only have one user on per line. Multi-line BBS's would need more lines and more modems, as well as BBS software that was multi-line capable. The speeds weren't anywhere near what is available today. But due to the software being optimized for this kind of connection the user experience was generally very good.

The some guys had an idea to create something that would allow BBS's scattered all over the country, and the world, to share messages and files in a way that would be relatively seamless to the users. Thus Fidonet was born. There were other technologies that linked BBS's up, like RelayNet and the thousands of QWK networks, but Fido was the best.

Then the web exploded onto the world. Back then there were all kinds of ISP's for people to use. Mega sized ones like UUNet and PSI all the way to the mom'n'pop ones. For about 6 months in 1996 there was a wonderful growth and advancement of the net. Then the greed set in and things got more and more difficult. The smaller ISP's were being bought out by larger ones, who were in turn being bought out by the bigger ones, who were themselves being bought by the global communications companies. Today there are really only a small handful of providers; cable companies or phone companies.

The Internet was created by the sharing of resources and open standards. Today it's just a commodity/product that a hand full of global corporations run with the sole purpose of making a profit. And what do we get for this? My home ISP is Comcast cable. They brag all over the place that they are the best, fastest, most, everything. You know what they are to me? The "service" provider that doesn't give me service at all for half of the day. In the morning through early afternoon I have no connectivity. The cable "modem" is all green but there's nothing going out or coming in. Tech support you say? Right.
"Uh, please reboot your computer. That didn't work? Uhm, try power cycling the modem. Still no access? Well it reads good from here so it's got to be your problem."
I've been dealing with network connectivity for over 15 years now. I know what the hell I'm doing (most of the time). But with the giant corporation there's no time for just one idiot complaining.

I am an idiot. I'm staying with Comcast. Verizon can't get a DSL line working in my area to save their life. So I bitch and moan and just live with the connectivity disconnect. Just remember that I'll be answering email later in the day.