Sunday, December 31, 2006

On and on and on and on...

Less than 2 hours to go before the coming of '07. It would be better if my son were here with me.

Lately I've been feeling very apathetic about things. Not just mundane things, everything. I'm not really interested in anything much outside of my son. Even playing/hacking on the computer is boring. Nothing worth watching on umpteen channels of TV; no real interest in listening to music. Even the PS2 has no appeal. I would like to read (I'd love to read!) but I can't even hold a book anymore. I can't wait for tomorrow as my son will be back home. That will at least give me some purpose. The sumo games are coming up in a little while, too, so that should help.

I need to find something to occupy my mind. I've said this before many times but I haven't come up with anything yet. There's still the idea of writing. Maybe getting back into programming. I should probably try and look for things outside of my perception. i.e. Something I would never think of on my own. Of course, it's hard to think of something you wouldn't think of all on your own. I wonder if there are any guidance counselors or something. Not a job counselor, someone who could help me find a new interest/passion. Or something like that.

Well, I guess that's it for this year. Kind of a lame post but, hey, I'm not even motivated to write this.

Oh well...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Counting down

Only three more days of 2006 left. Everyone and their dog are coming out with year in review pieces. I can't remember what happened this past year so I'm going to move onto 2007.

The single most imperative thing I must do for the coming year is go to the doctors. As you may or may not know, I've been avoiding going for a while now. I'm just so tired of going and having nothing come of it. But it's time I got back into the grind and start pushing for better care. One thing that has made a tremendous difference is the wheelchair I got a little while back. It's just a regular chair so I need someone to push me around in it but I've already been able to go out to restaurants and even went to a movie yesterday (Rocky Balboa; yes it was great) for the first time in a while. But there's some serious things going on lately that need attention. I can't keep ignoring them any more. So my plan is to document what I'll be doing and having done to me to try and get a better handle on everything.

Friday, December 15, 2006

NUMB3RS = Romance?

CBS has a series that's in it's second year (I think) called NUMB3RS. It's about a math prodigy professor for "Cal Sci" who helps his FBI agent brother with cases by using math to assist in the foiling of bad guys. The show is really cool with lots of cutting edge tech and math. Any techie/geek worth their salt is sure to find this series quite enjoyable. But it's not only for the numerically inclined. "Normal" people like it, too. The stories are interesting and the characters very engaging. The family dynamic with the two brothers and their widowed father (played by Judd Hirsch of 'Taxi' fame) is complex yet an easy fit for the characters and stories. The FBI team has their own dynamic as well as the intellectuals at the university. There are many good things to say about this show but the one I want to touch on here is the romantic aspects.

Now, normally I am very much against romantic match ups between characters in a series because it always seems to be either forced or it overshadows the actual stories. This show is different. There are quite a number of romantic subplots happening that actually add to the whole thing. There's the math whiz brother and his former student-turned-prof on-again/off-again girlfriend/assistant. There's the FBI brother and his many conquests (without being smarmy or unreasonable). The father has had a few dates with "the caterer" and the new department head at the university. And then there's Dr. Larry Fleinhardt and FBI agent Megan Reeves.

Dr. Fleinhardt is played brilliantly by Peter MacNicol. He's an eccentric (some might say weird) cosmologist who will only eat white food and has trouble dealing with things on a scale smaller than galactic proportions. Agent Reeves, played by Diane Farr, is a profiler/field agent who grew up a tomboy and has multiple black belts in various martial arts. Wonderfully enough, Diane is half a head taller than Peter. They are the quintessential "opposites that attract." The way the writers have evolved their romance and the way the actors have played the roles has been a real pleasure to watch. Everyone involved is playing it straight and not as some kind of Beauty and the Geek parody.

While I love the math and tech (and the FBI) stuff, this relationship has been something I've really connected with. Mainly because it gives anyone who is not "normal" the hope that they, too, can find someone who will see past their idiosyncrasies and eccentricities to the real person inside. It gives me hope that there's still a chance for me to find someone. It's a fantasy, of course. After all, NUMB3RS is a TV show and the characters involved are actors. But even the fantasy can be something to hold onto.

Maybe, just maybe, one day, I will meet a girl who will look past the belly and the wheelchair and the poverty to see there's someone worth knowing in there. Maybe.

Or maybe I just need better writers.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More specific information on my health situation

Thanks to Erik 'the' Ratcliffe for nudging me about this. E-man is dealing with Multiple Sclerosis and has been blogging about it for going on two years.

I've been dealing with my situation for just under 15 years now. The last two years have seen it deteriorate quite rapidly. It probably wouldn't be bad to chronicle what I'm experiencing so that others who might be in the same situation can have some idea that they are not alone. And maybe we can share some of the things that help and things that don't.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm opening up

I've created a profile on the OpenHuman.org project. The graphic on the right under my Blogger profile links to it. I'm not sure what benefit might be gained from it other than possibly allowing me to acknowledge and confront some of my psychological idiosyncrasies.

Friday, December 08, 2006

More on the Nanking film

For those who can read Chinese here is more on the Rape of Nanking film. It seems it's also up on Google Video as well. The video is not what you'd call of great quality but if you can't wait for it to hit any theaters it's an option.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ted's Take - Nanking Film Accepted at Sundance

A friend of mine forwarded this message to me. It's about a film produced by Ted Leonsis that everyone should see. Here is the email -
Ted's Take - Nanking Film Accepted at Sundance

If you haven't heard, please click the above link. Over the last year, Ted has been spending his own money to produce a film about happened in Nanking, China in 1937 when the Japanese killed hundreds of thousands of Chinese. When I talked to Ted about this project a few months ago, he told that he wanted everyone in China to see this movie. He wanted the Japanese government to apologize to the Chinese people for what they did almost 70 years ago.

This film is now accepted at Sundance Film Festival. From what I heard, the reviews felt that it has a strong chance to get an award.

Ted sent the following message to a group of people asking for help. As members of this Chinese community, I strongly encourage to support this effort by signing your own name, asking your family to sign their names, and forward the message to your friends and others in your community. I have signed my name already! Please help to show our support!
Most people these days barely remember anything about World War II. Those that do aren't likely to have the rape of Nanking at the top of their list. This is something that can't be forgotten. The things that happened are equatable to the concentration camps in Nazi Germany.

Here is a message from Ted himself -
Hello and thank you for your help.

Here is more specifically what we need as help.

I will create a form on the Nankingthefilm.com website and on my personal blog;it will say..

I have an interest in seeing the film when it comes to a theatre near me; or I want to watch the film on tv; or buy the dvd.

Name..

Email address..

Please have people fill out that form.

If I can show a lot of interest in the film,and its subject matter--that is way more important than getting people's comments.

I can then show that high level of human interest to studios and tv networks and show them why they must broadcast and distribute this film around the world.THAT is a much more positive way to handle the subject.

Please make sure that people get this message. We do not want to get into a debate on the film or the subject--as the film hasn't even been seen--we just want to show the industry that this film and its subject matter is important and the world wants to see it.

Please help me to create a buzz and a high level of interest in our wonderful film--I want to stay positive and stay on our higher calling.

Thank you all.
Ted Leonsis
Please pass this information to anyone and everyone you know. The world needs to see this.

Friday, December 01, 2006

'Coup by stealth' underway in Fiji

'Coup by stealth' underway in Fiji: Fiji's military disarmed the country's police force and threw up roadblocks around the capital on Monday in what Australia believes is a coup by stealth.

The Pacific nation's embattled Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase was holed up at his home in the capital, Suva, on Monday night after armed soldiers stopped him from trying to see the president.


More political fun in the east. This kind of stuff is something more people in the US need to know about. While we're here voting to curtail the the rights of people and making obscene accusations about "the other party" there are people in this world who are hoping to have something other than anarchy when they wake up in the morning.

Next time someone tells you how bad the US is remind them about Thailand, Sri Lanka & Fiji.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

15 simple rules for getting your girlfriend to play D&D

I ran across this on techrepublic.com and it reminded me of the days when a bunch of us would get together and play the odd game here and there. Or the weekend marathon champagnes (a word of caution, Jack Daniel's and D&D don't mix well).

I've been toying with the idea of trying to start up a little game or two. The only problem is, like with everything in life, scheduling it. It's not easy to get more than 2 people to agree on a date and time for something like this. It'll probably just have to be family for now. It'd still be fun though.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Overloaded pea brain

There's a bunch of things rolling around in my head lately. Things of interest to anyone/everyone and things if interest only to myself. I just haven't been able to get anything congealed enough to put down here. Lots of random thought whizzing by like gnats. Like Byron "Whizzer" White past a linebacker. I seem to be stuck in the mud or something. My wheels are spinnin' bit I'm goin' no where.

One good thing that happened recently is that I was able to buy a lightweight standard wheelchair. I got it from wheelchairinabag.com. I have the electronic chair I got off of eBay a while back but until I can find someway to transport it it's only good for in the house and out in the neighborhood. This one at least allows me to go out to things like dinner at a restaurant or a move or something. It's already made a big difference and might let me be semi-sociable again. Not that I have that much of a problem with being a reclusive hermit.

At least my son continues to excel in school. He's really doing fantastic.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thankful for recovery

Man, it's a good thing Thanksgiving is only a one day thing. Can you imagine having 3 or 4 days of eating like that? I'm finally recovered, more or less, and ready to take on the next big task. That will be my son's birthday in mid December.

I better get back to bed. I keep nodding off at the keyboard. ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bruce Schneier on electronic voting

Voting Technology and Security: Last week in Florida's 13th Congressional district, the victory margin was only 386 votes out of 153,000. There'll be a mandatory lawyered-up recount, but it won't include the almost 18,000 votes that seem to have disappeared. The electronic voting machines didn't include them in their final tallies, and there's no backup to use for the recount. The district will pick a winner to send to Washington, but it won't be because they are sure the majority voted for him. Maybe the majority did, and maybe it didn't. There's no way to know.

Believe it or not this has been an issue for over 7 years. Everyone should read Bruce's Crypto-Gram and get a true idea of how tenuous our security and liberties are. He's no alarmist nor a fanatic. He's a rational, sane expert on security and all things related to it. His insights into Homeland Security and terrorists threats are extremely insightful and eyeopening. And don't think that his stuff is only applicable to the US. It might be a bit US centric but the information in his newsletters is applicable worldwide.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Article I of the Constitution of Virginia - Hate voted into law

While most people only care about who got elected to what position, there is a lot more that happens during an election. Many bonds bills and updates to city, county and state laws are also voted on. In Virginia one such update was to Article I of the Constitution of Virginia.
Ballot Question #1:
Shall Article I (the Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to state:
"That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.
This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage."
Just your typical no gay marriages rhetoric, right? No, not exactly.

See, gay marriage has been illegal in VA for over 30 years. One would think that this amendment would be superfluous. If it's already illegal why vote on this amendment? Well, the new amendment doesn't change the legality of gay marriage one bit. It does, however, greatly restrict the rights and privileges of all unmarried couples. It effectively removes protection from unmarried domestic violence victims and will deny unmarried couples the right to make agreements to protect their families. i.e. Wills and Trusts.

This amendment opens the door to allowing the removal of previously existing rights for all unmarried couples. Rights such as making legal agreements for the guardianship of their children and to give the loved one of their choice the right to make medical and end of life decisions for them.

This is so much more than a Gay Rights issue. On November 6th, Virginia was known as the first governing body in the world to create a bill of rights that guaranteed each citizen individual rights against the government. After November 7th, it is now one of many to have taken away much of these rights.

As for me, I still don't understand it all. There is no logical, rational, sane reason to deny Gay's the right to marry. If a particular religion doesn't allow for it that's all fine and dandy but there's no reason what-so-ever to apply the same restrictions in the civil/legal world.

See http://www.votenova.org for more info

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The New Blogger Blog

I've gone a head and switched to the new Blogger Beta that is up. So far so good. There's one significant new feature they've added that I want to try and make use of. It's the ability to put labels on posts. Kinda like categories but more flexible, I think. The only other thing I need to check is the rating feature thingy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I wish we could overthrow our government

No, I'm not talking about becoming a Militant militia member and arming myself for the coming revolution.

Yesterday was election day here in the good ol' USofA. For the last few weeks we have been inundated with TV ads and automated phone calls telling us how voting for this one or that one will make live wonderful or plunge the country into hell. The bulk of the ads were those that are characterized as "negative attack ads." These are ads that hammer on how the opponent is a liar and cheat and will do everything in their power to make life miserable for us. One major exception was the adds for Michael Steel. He was running for something (Senate, I think) in Maryland. His ads were all about the actual issues, were very intelligent and didn't go about calling his opponent the reincarnation of the devil.

But there were two ads I heard that took the complete opposite road. While both of these were for Democratic candidates, there is likely plenty of the same from the opposite camp. The first one had three different Democratic politicians liken the election of the Republican candidate to turning the clock back to the racial confrontations of the late 50's and early 60's in the south. "If you thought the dogs and fire hoses in the sixties were bad...". They didn't imply, they outright stated that all of the racial inequities and segregation would return.

Another ad had the voices of a woman, young man and a little girl saying that they were either in a accident or had some genetic ailment. If the Republican candidate were to be elected they would all be dead because of the opposition of stem cell research. They asked if it was right that the candidate be aloud to decide if they should live or die. They said they were your mother or son or granddaughter and if the Republicans won they would all die.

There's two points these adds bring out. First, is there really anyone so absolutely stupid, so completely idiotic that they could actually believe these ads? Second, the fact that it seems political ads can commit slander and say things which would, in any other situation, be cause for a law suite. Again, I want to emphasize that I am not singling out the Democratic party. I am sure that every party has made use of these kind of blatant lies and defamatory tactics. How can anyone stand for it, though.

The absurd part is that even with the change in government makeup, does anyone really believe there will be a big change? Will life and the world be any better? You can follow the presidential elections from Regan through to W and you'll see that any changes that could actually be attributed to the government were different only in superficial ways. One example is that the GOP is supposed to be the business friendly party yet the whole Internet explosion and massive money burning happened during the Clinton administration. Politics is all about money and power. Multinational corporations drive everything. Greed is the god of politics.

I keep thinking there's got to be something better. After all, our current political system was created and refined over three centuries ago. I'm thinking that some things have changed which have effected the system since then. First, the whole Electoral Collage is worthless. Additionally, the act of announcing polling results while the elections are still going on is misleading at best and vote tampering at worst. The two year term for House Representatives is insane. It takes more than two years of campaigning to even run for the office. But is there something better? No, there is currently no better organization of government than the one we have now. Just look at the world over the last century. Most recently, the situation in Thailand exemplifies how things in the rest of the world are much more seriously dangerous than anything we have.

So the bottom line is that our system is really bad but it's much better than anything else out there right now.

And that's depressing as hell.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Best and worst states ranked in Transparency corruption index

Best and worst states ranked in Transparency corruption index: "Berlin - Global watchdog Transparency International on Monday published its annual corruption perceptions index spotlighting the cleanest states and naming and shaming the worst.

I have no idea who Transparency International are but the rankings are interesting none the less. It is my feeling that you can't have any kind of "government" without some corruption. Any time you have people with some kind of power it will inevitably lead a few to crossing the line.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Discovery Channel :: Hubble's Fate Decided Soon

Discovery Channel :: News - Space :: Hubble's Fate Decided Soon: "Oct. 23, 2006 -- The fate of what some scientists dub 'the people's telescope' is again up in the air as NASA decides soon whether to squeeze in a last astronaut repair mission to extend the life of the Hubble Space Telescope.

On Friday, NASA engineers will debate the safety of sending a fifth and final manned space shuttle flight to the 16-year-old telescope, probably in 2008. Soon afterward, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin will make the final call."


I really hope they can get a mission up to extend the life of Hubble. Many people still doubt the value of the space program. But I strongly feel that it is something we need to keep pursuing. Especially the viability of Space Stations and the technology for extra terrestrial colonization.

One thing that would be good is if there was a project to clean up the near Earth orbit space. There's so much junk floating around up there it's getting difficult to plan orbital paths. There's even leaking radioactive flotsam. Space pollution is just as real and as significant as anything here on Earth.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Thank you Michael

Well, it's done. The last race for what surly will historicity be known as the greatest race driver ever came to a close Sunday afternoon in Brazil. No storybook ending; Massa won going away, Alonzo took second & the drivers title, Renault edges out Ferrari for the constructors and Michael finished fourth. Oh, but what a forth place finish.

Qualifying started out quite well. Massa set a new track record (1:10.643) leading a Ferrari one/two in Q1. In Q2, Michael scorched the track and reset the all time fastest lap himself (1:10.313). It looked like an all Ferrari front row could be in the making. But then in Q3, the gremlins that have been all over Michael the last two weekends showed themselves. Michael led the line out of the pits but immediately his car died. Seems a fuel pump or something broke and took him completely out of the session. Therefore he gets 10th on the grid. Plus he doesn't get to burn off the fuel that the other 9 drivers did, putting him even more solidly behind the eight ball. Massa took poll while the Renault's slotted in at 4 and 6. Not a good situation for Michael.

At the start of the race Massa took off like a rocket but Michael was a man possessed. He charged up the grid until he was just behind Fisichella. Then made a superb pass on a corner to bring him right into Alonzo's exhaust pipe. But Fisi couldn't let Michael by so he slammed the door on him and, in doing so, caught Michael's left rear tire with his front wing. The resulting crawl into the pits and tire change caused Michael to fall all the way to the back of the line in P17. Now it's really the end of the line for him, right?

Well, no. Michael was dead last, just a couple of seconds in front of Massa and looking like he might get lapped. But now you start seeing why Michael is the 7 time champion and holder of all the significant records in Formula 1. From this point Michael put on a clinic on what it means to be a true driver. Knowing he's lost the drivers championship and will not likely win the race he still drives as if it were his first win. He sliced through the field and tore up the ranks to reach 8th. What a feet! With all that was going on he made it into the points. But he wasn't done. No sir.

In the later laps of the race Michael's Ferrari seemed to have a twitch in it. For some inexplicable reason it would lose power or something on him. It happened at least twice and both of them were at points when he was just about to make a pass. Still, he calmly collected himself and ripped up Interlagos hauling himself past Rubens, Fisichella, and the man who will be taking his ride in '07 Kimi Räikkönen. He made it up to P4 and was climbing all over Jenson's backside at the finish line. To illustrate how much of a competitor he is, Michael set fast lap of the race on lap 70! Given 10 more laps and he would have caught everyone but Massa. If you have a young driver in your life you would be doing them a great service by showing them this last Ferrari/Schumacher drive. That's what it is all about. There was no reason at all for Michael to try and do anything but finish the race, especially after the flat. But he kept racing like it was mid-season and every little point counted.

At the end of the day, Massa won in his home race, Alonzo clinched the Drivers Championship and Renault the Constructors Title. But it was Michael who put on the show of a true champion. Down to the last... Never say die... Racing in the blood...

There are more stars coming up in F1 (Robert Kubica, Scott Speed, Massa, Kimi in a Ferrari, and many new names). They would all do well to watch this last race from Michael. It was a clinic. It was vintage Michael Schumacher. Period.

For more on this go to -Now comes the end. For 16 years he was the pinnacle of his sport. And for those years, I say: Thank you Michael.

Thank you.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Privacy Lost: Does anybody care? - Privacy Lost - MSNBC.com

Privacy Lost: Does anybody care? - Privacy Lost - MSNBC.com: "Someday a stranger will read your e-mail, rummage through your instant messages without your permission or scan the Web sites you’ve visited — maybe even find out that you read this story."

Ever felt like George Orwell was right but for being a couple of decades early?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Top 223 Star Wars Lines Improved By Replacing A Word With "Pants"

Keepers of Lists - Top 223 Star Wars Lines Improved By Replacing A Word With "Pants": "Top 223 Star Wars Lines Improved By Replacing A Word With 'Pants'"

Some of these are priceless. The top five are:
  1. I find your lack of pants disturbing.
  2. You are unwise to lower your pants.
  3. The Force is strong in my pants.
  4. Chewie and me got into a lot of pants more heavily guarded than this.
  5. Your pants, you will not need them.

My head's about to expload

Well, it feels like it anyway. My sinuses are pounding. The pressure feels like my skull is going to crack open. I can't breath through my nose at all and my mouth is so dry my tongue is going to crumble to dust. It's also why I'm up at oh-dark-thirty.

Doesn't help that my son is out of state visiting his maternal grandmother. I don't mind him visiting her, though she's quite senile now. I only mind that he's not here with me.

I think I'm finally tired enough to get to sleep despite my Kopfschmerz. At least I hope I am.

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jupiter 'White Spot' Turns Red

Discovery Channel :: News - Space :: Jupiter 'White Spot' Turns Red: "Oct. 11, 2006 -- Just a little more than a year ago, the small spot on Jupiter was a pale white; now it matches the reddish hue of its bigger sibling, the Great Red Spot, and boasts 400 mph winds, according to new data from the Hubble Space Telescope."

Man, I really love this stuff. The very first school report I ever did was on Stars. Jupiter is one really fascinating planet.

Monday, October 09, 2006

BBC - My Web My Way - My Web for Linux homepage

BBC - My Web My Way - My Web for Linux homepage: "My Web for Linux

Do you need help in making the web easier to use? Let's look at the many ways you can make your Linux computer, keyboard and mouse and web browser better suit your needs..."


This looks like a nice resource for people who might need help accessing the web due to vision or hearing impairment or other disabilities. Way to go BBC.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Six years and 150+ races

To quote David Hobbs, "Kablammo!"

In the lead with about a fifth of the race to go, Michael's Ferrari did something that it hadn't done since the 2000 season.

Kablammo!

The engine let go in a massive puff of smoke, thus effectively crushing the championship hopes for Schumacher. Now, in order to win the drivers cup, he will have to win in Brazil with Alonzo finishing out of the points. They would be tied in points (126 to 126) but Michael would take the championship by virtue of races won (8 to 7). However, the sportsman that he is, he has virtually conceded the championship to Alonzo. Quote, "As for the drivers' (title) it is lost. I don’t want to head off for a race, hoping that my rival has to retire. That is not the way in which I want to win the title."

The 2007 season will see the beginning of the post Michael era in F1. Kimi Räikkönen will take his rid at Ferrari with Felipe Massa retaining the #2 drivers slot. It will be nice to see what the "Flying Finn" can do in a Ferrari. Still, F1 without Michael...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Court rules against gays on marriage

Court rules against gays on marriage: "SAN FRANCISCO A defeat for supporters of same-sex marriage. A California appeals court has ruled the state's marriage laws do not violate the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians."

For some reason this is a hot-button issue for many people. I still don't get it, myself. What's the big deal? What rational reason could there be to not let gays marry? As the article says, they already have domestic partners rights. What reason is there to deny them this one, last, insignificant step?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

World Brain Book - MySpace for baby Boomers

World Brain Book - A Link to Live and Recorded Knowledge: "World Brain Book is a search engine for humans, connecting people around the world.We are a dictionary of human knowledge – occupations, sports, and hobbies – interests and experiences. You can search our site to find someone with information or register yourself."

This looks very interesting. It could be one of the best social interactive and knowledge gathering sites on the Net. It will all depend on how many people join and become active on it. I think people should give it a whirl and see how far it can go.

Blogged with Flock

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Thai junta taking a hard line on rights

Thai junta taking a hard line on rights - Asia - Pacific - International Herald Tribune: "BANGKOK Thailand's military rulers unveiled an interim Constitution on Sunday that extends draconian emergency laws for another year and gives the military significant sway over a civilian government and its prime minister, Surayud Chulanont, a retired general whose appointment was also made official Sunday."

This is what I was afraid of. It is so extremely rare to have any kind of coup, especially a military led one, without a dictatorship resulting. (This makes what George Washington did at the end of the American Revolution even more amazing).

I hope that this beautiful country and wonderful culture don't get crushed under another totalitarian regime.

IBM alphaWorks Drag-n-Drop Web App Builder

Over the years I have seen a number of tools/technologies that promised the ability to build applications without doing any coding. Just drag this and click that and you have a fully functional program. Unfortunately, the promise always far exceeded the product. The closest thing we've had are the Borland tools (i.e. Delphi, Kylix, J Builder) and the Microsoft Visual* tools (VB, V .Net, etc.). You can click and drag your way to an interface and output but you still had to manually glue it all together with code. However, there's a new tool that looks like it will fulfill the promise.

IBM alphaWorks, a little known division of IBM that has been carving out new technology and creating tools for over a decade, has recently started providing Services. One of the services is Web Relational Blocks. From the site:
Web Relational Blocks (WebRB) is a browser-based visual editor and run-time environment that enables developers to visually assemble Web applications without adding any imperative code. WebRB is made for developers of "enterprise" Web applications: multi-page applications, containing non-trivial GUI (graphical user interface) and business logic, whose data reside in relational databases.
They have a demo up where you can try it out. If you are interested in web app development or in need of an Enterprise RAD tool then you owe it to yourself to take WebRB out for a spin. You can build your own apps or import example ones to see how it works. While the interface of the tool and the output app are a little clunky and rough, the functionality is there. I'm sure that once it gets settled the alphaWorks team will pretty it up and give it a nice shiny AJAX-ified GUI.

All in all, WebRB has the potential to greatly impact the world of web application production.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Writing Right? Writing Left?

It all depends on what's in between.

They say, "Write what you know." So what do I know? I know a little about a lot of things and a lot about a few things. Ok, so what are my passions/interests? In no particular order, we have:
  • My son
  • Sumo
  • Music
    • Listening
    • Creating
  • Formula 1
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy
    • Books
    • Film
    • TV
  • Languages
    • Spoken
    • Programming
At least this is what comes to mind. What little mind I have left. That brings up another topic I have some experience with. Disability. I could write about what has happened to me over the last 10 or 15 years; how my disability has affected my life and family. But can I actually come up with something to write? Something worth writing?

That, as they also say, is the question.

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Flock o' flocks

I just happened onto an interesting gecko based web browser named Flock, thanks to an article on TechRepublic. It's like Firebird but is built for personal networking (or whatever they're calling it now). It's got hooks for Flickr and Blogger and other picture and blog sites. It made a bit of a mess importing my bookmarks file from Firebird but I need to really clean that up. I have approximately 4180 sites bookmarked. I'm sure there's at least 20 or 30 dups but that still leaves a TON of crap. If I can figure out how to make Evolution open it as the default browser when I click on links in email I may try this bad boy out for a while.

Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bloomberg.com: Thailand Military, Police Seized Power

Bloomberg.com: Japan: "Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Thailand's military and police leaders said they had seized power in a coup overnight without meeting any resistance and announced the ouster of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra."



Bloomberg.com: Asia: "Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Thailand's monarch confirmed coup leader Sondhi Boonyarataklin as the head of a new interim government after the armed forces ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra."




Bloomberg.com: Asia: "Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Sondhi Boonyarataklin, the Thai army chief who yesterday ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, spent most of this year vowing to keep his troops out of politics."


Since my visit to Thailand in early 2002 I have had an affinity and appreciation for this country and it's cultures. I hope that this situation stabilizes quickly as they are still in serious straits from the Tsunami.

Where the bigger men fly - Stuff.co.nz

Where the bigger men fly - New Zealand's source for travel news on Stuff.co.nz: "Think of sumo and you probably think of a bunch of overweight guys grappling each other in oversized G-strings. But delve a little deeper into the folds, so to speak, and you'll find there's a lot more to Japan's most revered sport. A sumo tournament can make for a fascinating day's entertainment in Japan and once you learn the basic rules you'll find it's easy to get caught up in the action."

I have been a fan of Sumo for many years but it wasn't until Spring of 2003 that I was actually able to follow, watch and truly enjoy the world that is Sumo. That is when I discovered the Sumo Mailing List [previous archives]. This led to the discovery of many web sites and the introduction of many extremely knowledgeable people. One thing that really surprises people is when they learn Sumo is a Martial Art. But Sumo is much more than just a sport or Martial Art. It's a culture. A way of life. Once you become a Rikishi (pronounced "Rik'she") you are one 24-7. It's probably the closest thing to being a samurai, from the perspective of western society,that is left today. All you need to do is actually see a few bouts to get an appreciation of the strength and agility these men have. It can truly be amazing.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Federal judge declares boating illegal in all US navigable waters

Federal judge declares boating illegal in all US navigable waters: "In a rather bizarre ruling that has marine industry officials worried, Judge Robert G. James of the United States District Court, Western Division of Louisiana, has said that it is criminal trespass for the American boating public to boat, fish, or hunt on the Mississippi River and other navigable waters in the US."

All in the name of Security. Next it will be determined that driving on the Interstate is illegal. Just stay in our homes, never venturing out. That'll show those terrorists.

Crypto-Gram: September 15, 2006

Crypto-Gram: September 15, 2006: "The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets, or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And we're doing exactly what the terrorists want."


Bruce Schneier's Crypto-Gram Newsletter is one that people should probably read whether they are techies or not. His observations on terrorism are so dead on it's unreal. I only wish that the media and politicians of the world had half the rationality and common sense that Bruce does.

What is offensive and what isn't?

The other day VH1 had another RockUmentary, this time entitled "Metal: a Headbangers Journey". This guy who was 13 in 1986, when Metal was actually accepted for a short time, grew up as a cultural anthropologist and decided to try and chronicle the Metal culture and to find an answer to the question, "Why is Heavy Metal music seen as evil by so many?"

A part of the film touched on the (in)famous Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), also known as the Washington Wives led by Tippy Gore. They wanted to ban some albums (big black vinyl things that came before CD's) and the vast majority of them were from the Metal genera. There were even hearings on Capitol Hill where various musicians came to testify. These included Frank Zappa, John Denver and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister (among others). The best part of these hearings, though, was how the musicians made fools of these idiots. Zappa was a passionate defender of the 1st Amendment. His arguments were rational (for him) and his knowledge quite extensive.

Dee came in dressed in full makeup, jeans and a t-shirt. This was also when he had his front two teeth filed down into points. The senators were expecting him to be a dumb, obscene psycho but he just ripped them a new one in a calm and eloquent way. He even made Al Gore all flustered when he was able to pretty much prove that Tippy had her mind in the gutter.

But the best of them all was John Denver. The committee brought him in expecting him to side with them and denounce this cursed music that was destroying our youth. Well, Mr. Denver lit into them like a righteous flame! Cutting down every argument that was brought up against the music. He so deflated the whole farce that it should have been dead and buried right there and then,

However, before the hearings were even finished, the RIAA (the most useless and dangerous organization against artists next to the MPAA) already caved in and started putting the stickers on LP's. We should have known then how the RIAA was going to be the greatest force to crush music and artistic freedom.

Long about this time Ice-T's Rap/Metal band Body Count released the song "Cop Killer" unto the masses. Oh what fun that was. But there were lots of groups and albums banned before this and many more since. The thing you'll notice is that Heavy Metal has a disproportionate presence on the list of banned material. Hell, there are songs on the radio now that make the stuff from the 80's sound like nursery rhymes, most notably Rap/Hip Hop. Yet it is Metal that is pointed to as the devils music and the destroyer of souls. How many times has it been blamed for some teen committing suicide? Judas Priest and Ozzy Osborne, among others, were sued because it was said their songs and music drove the kids to kill themselves. OC, the massive amount of drugs and alcohol consumed by the kids had nothing to do with it.

The afore mentioned film gets close to the answer. But the bottom line is that Hard Rock & Heavy Metal, in all it's vast sub-genera's, are different from everything else in that they give more positive feedback and a sense of belonging to anyone who is feeling lost or abandoned by society, The funny thing is that anyone who listens to this kind of music is the least likely to kill themselves. The most significant trigger of suicide is a feeling of hopelessness. If you listen to Black Sabbath "War Pigs", Iron Maidens "The Trooper", Motorheads "Ace of Spades", anything by AC/DC or any number of artists of the same ilk, there's no possible way you could ever feel hopeless.

Just try. I dare you.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The newest latest in Desktops

Xfce4.4RC1_screenshot_9-4-06
Xfce4.4RC1_screenshot_9-4-06,
originally uploaded by x-nc.
Here's an update of the wonderful Xfce desktop environment. Here we have the first release candidate for version 4.4. You'll see there isn't much visibly different from Beta 2.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Desktop Linux - Forbes.com

Desktop Linux - Forbes.com: "Linux today has less than 2% market share on the desktop. That's because with past versions of Linux only hackers could get Linux installed and running right. But a new batch of easier-to-use versions is putting Linux within reach of regular folks."

Maybe there's hope for Desktop Linux after all. Forbes is a recognized "big name" so hopefully there's some legitimacy along with it. Maybe.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Classic IQ Test

Congratulations!
Your IQ score is: 133

"This number is based on a scientific formula that compares how many questions you answered correctly on the Classic IQ Test relative to others."

"Your Intellectual Type is Facts Curator. This means you are highly intelligent and have picked up an impressive and unique collection of facts and figures over the years. You've got a remarkable vocabulary and exceptional math skills — which puts you in the same class as brainiacs like Bill Gates. And that's just some of what we know about you from your test results."



This was taken on Tickle Tests so it likely doesn't hold to much water. The only thing that really bothered me about this was that in displaying my results they showed an image of someone who also fits those results. Bill Gates.

Man, I'd rather be an idiot.

Monday, September 04, 2006

FreeDOS 1.0 Released | The FreeDOS Project

FreeDOS | The FreeDOS Project: "FreeDOS 1.0 Yes, the FreeDOS Project has reached the '1.0' milestone. Download FreeDOS - or buy it on CDROM. This is a very important day for FreeDOS. A lot of you have put in so much work over the years, helping to make everything perfect. Even if you didn't contribute code, you helped out the FreeDOS Project by submitting comments and bug reports. Thank you!"

This is really pretty cool. I know I still have my copy of Desqview 386 around somewhere. Just need to find me an old computer and a modem then I'll setup the BBS I used to run back, oh, 15 or so years ago.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The latest in Desktops

Xfce4.4b2_screenshot_9-2-06
Xfce4.4b2_screenshot_9-2-06,
originally uploaded by x-nc.
This is a screenshot of my current desktop. I'm running Xfce 4.4 Beta 2 with a few plug-ins. I still greatly miss the CDE compatibility configuration but we all can't have everything.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sleepless in VA

Another night awake. It's getting monotonous. I'm tired as hell but I can't get to sleep. Maybe something is bothering me subconsciously. Who knows. Anyway, let's see what random things come wafting through that great empty space between my ears.

How about, let's talk about porn. Well, not really port but the gawd awful shoes that the women seem to wear all the time. Is it really sexy to see an woman on platforms that are ridiculously high? We're talking about shoes with 4 or 5 inch platforms and 10 or more inch heals. They look really stupid and clownish, in my opinion. I'd like to find the person who came up with the idea and slap them silly for it.

What else... I've been playing Black for a few weeks now. Man, that is one good game. It's hard as hell, even on the easy level. I'm on the last section of the last mission in Normal mode. There's a Hard mode after this then there's "Black Ops" mode. Yeah, I know, but it's still cool. Somehow I am going to get Ace Combat 5 and Ace Combat Zero in the near future. At least as soon as I can rob a bank or something.

My son has two sleepovers recently. The next door neighbor kid we've known for, what, 6 or 7 years at least, and a friend of his from his last school. It's great having other kids around for him to play with. School starts next Monday; or is it Tuesday. I can't remember. Anyway we need to find the bus schedule and coordinate the rest of the whole "going to school" routine. The hardest part is going to be getting him to wake up in the morning. No, strike that. The hardest thing is going to be getting me up in the morning. But it will be nice to get back to a schedule again.

Went to the pool for what will probably be the last time this summer. Got more sunburn to add to that which I had already gotten. I haven't been out in the, well, outside, so much in a long, long time. My tan is not to shabby, though I'm still quite pale compared to what I was when I was younger. It's hard to believe but I have been mistaken as a black guy on one or two occasions back in the day, With my hair short and from the back I was extremely dark. Only my sister was ever darker. We used to never get sunburn no matter how long we were in the sun. Well, my youngest brother did get burned sometimes as he has the fairest skin tone of the kids. OC, if I were to shave I'd have half my face quite bronzed and the other half pale. I bet it'd be a funny sight.

I better be getting to bed now. It;s far to late for me to be up and I am really tired. Hopefully I can get to sleep now.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Let Bogons Be Bogons: A Nightmare from ISP Hell || kuro5hin.org

Let Bogons Be Bogons: A Nightmare from ISP Hell || kuro5hin.org: "We carefully planned the move for 6 months and brought our customers into the planning process. So we sent out an RFP, awarded the bid and began the process. What followed was to become a disaster. It was the 'perfect storm' for an ISP failure."

This is a fun little story of what it's like to be a techie in the world of the internet. It's not an uncommon situation, though the actual problem will usually be something different every time. The very nature of the 'Net precludes anything like our telephone system; where you just pick up the phone and dial. Will Net Neutrality bring us closer or send us farther from "Webtone?" $DEITY only knows.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Linux-based HandyPC to challenge Nokia Communicator | Reg Hardware

Linux-based HandyPC to challenge Nokia Communicator | Reg Hardware: "German phone maker Road has announced its answer to Nokia's Communicator. Dubbed the HandyPC, the phone-computer combo is based on the Linux operating system and Trolltech's Qtopia GUI. It's a quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE device with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on board too."

If anyone wants to know what I want for my birthday this is it. If you can't get that I have a wishlists on Think Geek and Nerdbooks that would suffice nicely.

Relationships, an historical perspective

I just ran into (online, that is) my very first girlfriend the other day. I hadn't seen or heard from her in 25 years. It got me thinking, though, of all the girlfriends and relationships I've had over the years. Don't worry, though. This won't be a very long post so feel free to keep reading E-man.

I was a senior in high school (class of '80) and she was a freshman, though we were only 2 years apart in age. Man, all the memories and feelings came flooding back like a ton of brick fell on my head. We had a very, uhm, tumultuous relationship. Many highs and lows. We were both so young it's just amazing. She had some issues (heh, "issues"; that's like calling the Grand Canyon a little ditch) which were hammering her life while I was just starting to clime out of the pit of worthlessness. The faint embers of confidence and self-assuredness (I know, that's not a real word) were just beginning to come to life. Unfortunately I was in no way ready to deal with a girlfriend, let along one who had a few things to deal with. Man, I have to tell you that the highs were spectacular. And so were the lows. Crash 'n' burn doesn't begin to describe it. But I hold no ill feelings towards her now. It took a while but now I remember her with a fondness I can't describe. She was my first real girlfriend. My first love; my first lover.

She wasn't my first kiss, though. That was a girl I met while working a summer hire job in '78. It was a magical time that lasted so short but seemed so long. We worked at a furniture reupholstering place doing chairs and mattresses and stuff. The day would be made up of doing some work in the mornings, making out in the stairwell over lunch then goofing around with the handful of other summer hires in the afternoon. When school started I wanted to keep it going but she couldn't handle the "stigma" of dating a white boy. But man, I learned how to kiss that summer.

After high school I kinda sorta almost went to university. Well, I was enrolled but I didn't do that whole class thing very well. The next girl I was with was when I went for one semester here in the states during the fall of '81. My sister and I came here to a very small collage in southwestern PA while the rest of the family stayed back home in Germany. I met a girl there and we kinda did things together. No real sex, just lots of making out. You have to remember that in those days making out was limited to 1st base, 2nd base & occasionally 3rd base. Oral sex wasn't as blasé as it is today. This was just something to pass the time with, I suppose.

We came back home for Christmas and went back to school there. The University of Maryland had a branch campus in Munich back then to help with the transition from going to school in Europe to University in the States. There I met another girl. This one was my second real love. We didn't really have much in common but the sex was great and the companionship was really nice. This lasted until summer. But once we were back home she found that what she wanted in her life and future didn't include me. I took it hard for a while but I lived through it. Now what I remember of her is her kind heart and long hair. She was only 2 inches shorter than I with hair that reached all the way down past her waist.

By now I was 19 and started in the "work force." During the next 6 or 7 years I met a number of different women, a few that I had sex with, but nothing that could be called a relationship. Being in your early 20's in the 1980's in Germany was a fun time. Lots of places to go and hang out or dance. My favorite place for a few years was a rock club called the Green Goose. They played a mix of rock and metal and everyone just had a blast. Sometimes, when I was alone in my room or driving home at oh-dark-thirty, I'd feel quite lonely. But that usually didn't last for long. I had friends and family and the occasional 4 or 5 hours smoakin' hash.

By the end of the 80's we all moved here to the States and it wasn't long after that when I met my ex-wife. We kinda dated for a year and a half then got married. From there it was all just fine and dandy; bought a house, had a kid, did the whole married family thing. That lasted a good while, until I became disabled and she left me. Blah, blah, blah.

After that there came this nice lady here who was very interesting. She was into all that B&D/S&M stuff, but I wasn't. She said she liked being with me because I was so vanilla. We were, what she called, "Fuck Buddies." We'd been, as the kids say these days, hooking up for about 5 years or so. A couple of months ago she dropped off the radar; can't reach her at work or at home or via email. I'm hoping she's ok.

The last pseudo-relationship was the Thai girl I came close to marrying. That had some very good potential but just wasn't meant to be, I guess. You can read all about it at my original diary on K5 - http://www.kuro5hin.org/user/X-Nc/diary.

The reason I felt like doing this retrospective is that it seems the line of women I'll be with or have a relationship with has finally ended. There's little hope of any woman wanting to be with someone they have to take care of and who doesn't make lots of money. So now I'm celibate. Hell, I can't even afford a $20 hooker.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Internet's pilot bandit strikes again

Internet's pilot bandit strikes again - Yahoo! News: "The emergence of 'Handsome' marks the second known TV pilot left over from the 2005-06 development season to resurrect itself from unknown auspices. 'Nobody's Watching,' a comedy rejected by WB Network, resurfaced on YouTube last month, and generated enough buzz to prompt producer NBC Universal to pick up the series."

Here we see another of the concrete examples of file sharing doing the exact opposite of what Big Media claims it does. Everyone involved with 'Nobody's Watching' and NBC should find the 'leak' and buy them a house or something.

Why is it so hard for people it use common sense in this world?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fighting in Sri Lanka worsens; 128 dead

AP Wire | 08/02/2006 | Fighting in Sri Lanka worsens; 128 dead: "COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels engaged in heavy fighting around a key northeastern port Wednesday, with Sri Lanka's Defense Ministry claiming its forces killed 40 insurgents and wounded 70 others. Five government soldiers were reported killed."

Here's something that's just as important as the Middle East conflict yet you're lucky if you've even heard of Sri Lanka. There's even more places around the world where people are being killed; where people need help.

Aimlessly wandering through my thoughts

There are so many things I've been wanting to write about lately. I just can't seem to get up the gumption to sit down and do it. It hasn't helped that I've been having some very severe headaches. They just started up out-of-the-blue a few days ago. It feels like there's something behind my left eye that putting pressure on everything, especially the eye. I've also been feeling like my body is made of led or concrete. It's very difficult to move and even if I'm just sitting or laying it's like my insides are being crushed. Yeah, yeah, I know... I should call the doctor. I'm just so tired of dealing with them. It's all like, left/right, up/down, take this/don't take this, do this/don't do this. Blah, blah, blah. I'm going to have to do it anyway, though. I probably got a brain tumor or something stupid like that. And to top it all off my intestines are all knotted up like a rock.

Rejoining my initial thought, what are some of the things I wanted to write about? I can't remember. I keep waffling about writing something about the current "fun" happenings in the Middle East. What good would it do, though? I know I'd be pissing off someone (more like everyone) with my point-of-view, as always. I've come to find that if there's a polarized subject/issue/topic I can generally tweak off both sides to the point where they accuse me of being the other. For example, on the few occasions I enter a discussion about politics, I'll say the same thing to everyone yet all Republicans/Conservatives will call me a flaming Liberal while the Democrats/Liberals all lump me with the hard core Conservative. This is one way with which I can tell I'm on the right track. With this current thing in Lebanon I find that I have as strong of a dislike for the Israelis as I do for the Palestinians. Not the people in general, just those who are in power. The ones who are feeding the hate. And I'm none to thrilled with the Persians, either, as I think they have a good part in causing the current fighting. The biggest problem with this whole thing is that it's not about Nationalism or Religion or any of the other BS reasons both sides give. It's a blood feud. "We will kill them because they kill us!" It's like Ireland or the former Eastern Block countries. Kill them all, no matter what. The Israelis try to justify what they are doing in the name of protection and moral rightness as their claim to the pile of dirt is proper and can be proven. The Palestinians don't give a crap about any of that because the dirt is theirs by right. Period. Oh, they have all kinds of things they say but the bottom line is they don't care about any of that anymore. They just want to kill the other ones. Man, I wasn't going to go into all this stuff here. Oh well.

Lately I've found myself becoming very peeved about not being able to play guitar anymore. My hands and arms are so deteriorated it's impossible. Heck, I can't even hold one up anymore. I miss playing quite a bit. I was never what you'd call a Guitar God or anything. I could pluck a few tunes and lay down some blues. But playing, especially with the distortion cranked up and the volume as high as possible, was like a catharsis for me. It helped gets the melodies in my head out. I've tried playing the harmonica and that's quite fun, but no matter how I start I always end up in a blues riff. That's not a really bad thing, I like the blues. But it keeps the rest of the stuff locked in my head.

I did start writing a pseudo-fictional story just for fun. It's set in the late 70's or early 80's and centers around a guy who's trying to figure out what he's doing while spending most of his time doing nothing or getting stoned. Not quite autobiographical but, like they say in Hollywood - "Based on a true story." I'm not sure how it will turn out as the few times I have tried to write fiction ended up really bad. I do ok writing articles and interviews (for techie stuff) but free flowing ideas and words are a tad intimidating.

I've been putting off doing something that needs to be done. When I do it, there's going to be all kinds of hell to pay and I'm anticipating lots of pain and anguish. But it has to be done and I'm running out of time. I'll see if I can't get it started this week. $DEITY help me get through this.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

An empty house and Killzone; what a combination

Here it is. Oh-dark-thirty and I'm still awake. I hate insomnia.

Let's see, is there anything on my mind? No, not really. I mean there's the same old crap I always whine about, but nothing special. So let's think of something to babble about.

<tick> <tock>
<tock> <tick>

Nope. Nothing is happening. Just feeling much pain, a little tired and (as usual for late nights) lonely. It's extra bad now because I'm actually alone in the house. I will get my son back tomorrow evening and my mom is coming back on Thursday but with my brothers in Las Vegas for a week.

Speaking about Las Vegas makes me think of CSI now. It used to make me think about Bugsy Segal and the Mob building all the casinos but now it's all about Gil Grissom. I'm the only one in the family who hasn't been to Las Vegas. I think. I can't remember if Mum has ever been.

The other day I was superfluously thinking about what it would be like to have a girlfriend who was 18 or 20 or something like that. It wouldn't be robbing the cradle, really, because you're legal at that age. But I couldn't ever actually do it. Having an age gap of 25 or so years isn't so much when you're 80 and she's 55 but 43 and 18 is, well, to close to child molestation for me. 18 is still just a baby. Plus I'm pretty positive no 18 year old girl is going to want to be saddled with a crippled old man. Not to mention (oops, I mentioned it) that there's no way I could "satisfy" a woman that young. I'd have a heart attack or stroke if I even tried. No, all in all, the youngest I could see myself going is 30. Maybe 28 if the girl is right.

I'm stuck on Killzone* again. I don't know why this game hates me. I've already played the Campaign a bunch of times and got to blow away all the Helgast and even General Adams. But there's the part where the team gets to the beach and is just about to start heading for the docks. After the last battle at the beach, the frelling game won't let me continue. It just sits there doing nothing. I run around and make sure all the Helgast are dead and that everything is done to accomplish this mission but I get nothing. Now, when my son plays this section of the game he gets right onto the docks with no trouble. I always have to have him play this one section for me in order to advance. Yes, this is totally weird and there's probably something in the game logic which I'm not doing right in order to continue. But I'll be damned if I know what it is.

And speaking of Killzone, the word is that Killzone 2 will only be released for the PS3. This is insane. The PS3 is predicted to cost $600 and the only way to make full use of it is to have an HDTV. There's no way I will ever be able to get a PS3 if this is true. Hell, I couldn't actually afford the PS2. We got it as a Christmas present from my brothers (they gave us a DVD player the year before). We wouldn't have any games if it weren't for Game Crazy. They sell used games and you can also trade in games you don't want for different/new ones. Anyway, with the way things are looking I might just find a used Nintendo GameCube, they run in the neighborhood of $70, and get a bunch of "old" Nintendo games. That sounds like a good idea to me, really. If only I could come up with the $70.

Well, that's enough for tonight. I really should try and get some sleep.

After a quick snack.

* [login required]

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Some "famous" women I'd like to meet

I got to thinking the other night about some of the well known women I'd like to meet. While running through names in my head there were two that came up which I found interesting. They are Traci Lords and Chloe. While both are (in)famous for their work in porn, Chloe is an active star who can do unbelievable things which I won't go into. Traci is one of the most famous ex stars who has become a legitimate actress, and is really quite good.

Now I'm sure that you'd think the reason I'd want to meet them was, in part or in whole (no, not "hole"), because of their porn life. But you'd be wrong. It's true I have seen both of them in action. I've only seen Chloe once in a rather tame (for her) role and was living in Germany when Traci's porn career was at it's height. Yes, I saw some of the movies she did while still under age. But that is not why I'd like to meet them.

I have seen various interviews and film footage of both of them in non-porn settings and one thing both of them share is a strong (one might say commanding) presence. And both seem to be quite intelligent. I'd like to spend time talking about all kinds of things other than sex and porn and even acting in general. It's hard to explain but I see these women as wonderful personalities that I'd like to get to know better.

But don't think my list is only porn stars. It includes women like Michelle Yeoh, Dame Judi Dench, Grace Hopper (if she were still alive), Sophia Loren, Megumi Odaka, Dawn Staley, etc. But Chloe and Traci are also on this list for the same reason the others are.

They are intelligent and interesting people with whom I would like to converse with.

Friday, July 21, 2006

...and the horse you rode in on!

Ooh, feeling very cranky today.

The weekend is not going to get any better either. My son is with his mother 'till Monday, my mother is visiting her sisters in PA and my brother is going out-of-state for a work conference. I really don't like to be alone because I tend to do nonproductive things. I'll be fighting to not start smoking again. I'll be trying not to spend any money on unnecessary crap. And, most of all, I'll be trying not to go out of my frelling mind. The odds are fairly good I can do the first two but that last one...

I hate the universe!

Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!

Who knows when?

Someday.

That's the future for me.

Someday.

As in:
  • Someday I'll get my boxes unpacked

  • Someday I'll start writing all that stuff I've been wanting to

  • Someday I'll learn at least a little bit about modern programming

  • Someday I'll find a woman

  • Someday I'll do something

Right. And someday pigs will fly. Oh wait! They already have.

Of all those "Somedays" the one I want most is the next to last. The one I need the most is the first. The one that should have the highest priority is the last one.

What's that old quote? "A man has three faces. One face he shows in public, one face he shows to friends and family and one face he only shows himself." I guess I have three futures; the one I want, the one I need, and the one I'll get. But you know something? Right now it doesn't really matter. Right now I am just going to go read some more Buddhist writings in lieu of being able to listen to music.

Monday, July 17, 2006

"Sometimes I feel like a man in the wilderness"

That's a line from a song by STYX called Man in the Wilderness off of The Grand Illusion album. The second chorus goes like this -

Sometimes I feel like a man in the wilderness
I'm a lonely sailor lost at sea
Drifting with the tide
Never quite knowing why
Sometimes it makes no sense at all


And in my mind I see -

I'm lost in a sea of nothingness.
No hope.
No hope at all.
Only pain and frustration.
Lots of pain.

I really wish the frelling doctors would make up their minds about using stronger pain meds. One says no and another says yes. I, myself, lean towards the latter opinion. But even that won't help very much.

It looks like things are going to get messy soon. To soon. I wish they weren't but it's pretty much out of my hands now. When the excrement hits the fan all hell is going to break loose. Ok, that sounds like something from a cheesy movie. But it's true. I can't really comment on anything right now.

I spent a couple of hours tonight talking to my Chinese lady friend. Yeah, we still talk and sometimes do stuff with her daughter and my son. It seems that I am still attracted to her but she's really not attracted to me. At least not in That Way. She'd been having trouble with her daughter and I hope I was able to help out a little with that. She spent almost 3 hours tonight on the phone talking about her ex-husband [who was a controlling man in an emotional mess which made her a mess, too] and her ex-lover [who she's still in love with but he's married with a child so they can't ever be together] (blah, blah, blah). At least she did. Every man alive knows how that made me feel. But I do like her as a friend and her daughter is still in need of some guidance (and I like her kinda like the daughter I'll never have) so I'll stay friends and just try and kill the "romantic" feelings. Especially the romantic feeling of wanting to jump her bones. But if anyone can do it I can. I've had enough practice all my life.

I keep coming back to that song. When it came out I was going through one of the most agonizing times of my life. Seventeen years old and a senior in high school. I was with my very first real girlfriend. Patricia Henry. Blond, blue eyed, 5' nothing but stacked like a brick house. She was also psychotic. Or is it psychopathic? I get them confused. Either way she put me through a meat grinder and blast furnace both at the same time. Messed me up good for, well, for life. I've pretty much recovered over the intervening 26 years but there's still a little scar on my psyche, probably never to fully heal. It always seems to come out and kill any hope of finding a woman to be with. And I mean BE WITH; body, mind & soul. After 43 years you come to realize it's not all about sex. Yeah, it's still quite a bit about sex, but there's more. Much more. But it's not going to happen. Even if there was a woman who could conceivably overcome my debilitating physical condition and subsequent mental impairments along with the lack of any reasonable monetary income I'd end up torpedoing myself in the end. Of course, this has all the earmarks of a self fulfilling prophecy. I find a woman then subconsciously intentionally sabotage everything. But then again, that's what this wound is meant to do. It all circles in on itself going 'round and 'round... Like a temporal feedback loop (for all you Trek fans out there).

So, what does all of this mean? Who gives a shit! No one cares if I'm fucked for the rest of my life. Hell, even I don't care right now. But it's 02:15 and I never care about anything after midnight.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Zinedine Zidane bullshit

I have a problem with this incident. Zidane is claiming that he headbutted Marco Materazzi because Materazzi said something “very personal and concerned his mother and his sister”. Materazzi had denied saying anything about Zidane's family, especially his mother. "I said nothing to him about race, religion or politics. I did not talk about his mother either," Materazzi was quoted as saying.

Now, I come from an Italian/German background (I'm 3/4th Italian and 1/4th German) and there's one thing I know about the culture of Italians. You never say anything about someones mother. However, even if the unthinkable happened and he did slander Zidane's family, the proper response for the insulted player at this high level of the sport would be a strong push or possibly a good right cross. Both would be bad and deserving of a red card but they wouldn't have been so blatantly hostile and dangerous. A headbutt like that can easily kill a person. It was the same as if Zidane attacked Materazzi with an ax or flail. No amount of insulting, be it ethnic, racial or personal, is deserving of attempted murder.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

YES! YES! YES! YES!

Italy 1 - France 1 (5-3 PK)

My hands are still shaking.
Viva Italia!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What a game!

Man, oh man, oh man! Two hours of headbanging and dive bombing before Italy finally scored to beat Germany in the first Semifinal game. Alessandro Del Piero dropped in a second goal a minute later but it was all over the instant Fabio Grosso caught the far corner of the net in the 119th minute. I was hoping for Germany to take the game, but only a little bit. See, Italy is my #1 team for the World Cup and Germany #2, but the Germans have never beaten Italy in World Cup play. It's a good thing for Italy that they did score at the end of the second overtime period, though. Germany is 4-0 in World Cup games decided by penalty shot while Italy is 0-3 (including the heart breaker against Brazil in 2002). But this might have been what helped Italy as well. I get the feeling that by the later minutes of the overtime Germany was playing for the tie to force the penalty shots. Maybe if they'd been a bit more aggressive... But that's all in the "What If" category. No matter the outcome, though, this was one of the best games I've seen in many years. The Germans played exceptionally well and really could have won the game. Now we'll have to see how France and Portugal do tomorrow. But I tell you, I honestly don't think either of those teams can beat Italy this year.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Twilight Zone Marathon

Four days of the Zone on the Sci-Fi channel. The only break I can foresee in this are a few hours on the 4th, 5th, 8th & 9th.


de de
de de de de
de de

Henry, 56th minute

Man, what a surprise that was. And I missed the game(s), too. It wasn't so bad as I was helping two very lovely ladies with some computer issues they were having (ok, I didn't do much of anything since they have a WinXP system and I only know how to spell WinXP) but it was a nice afternoon spent talking and enjoying the company. I may still have to razz them a bit, though. After all, it was Brazil that got beat. I love the country and the people there very much; except during World Cup play. My #1 and #2 teams are Italy and Germany, so it's a given that I have to hate Brazil for the weeks of cup play.

But now we have Portugal - France, Germany - Italy. I'd rather see the latter match up in the finals but, hey, we can't have everything. Portugal has a serious shot at making some history. France won the '96 Cup and both Germany & Italy are potentially playing for their 4th cup win to tie the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) 2002 Brazilian team. If all 4 teams play up to the level they are capable of playing then I think it will be Italy & Portugal in the final. France can beat any team on any given day but they tend to have only one or two days given them per cup. Germany can score goals. If they keep it close or, by chance, go to a shootout, they can definitely beat Italy. But overall, I think that the Italian team has the most to play for. After the very serious scandals in their professional soccer leagues this spring they will be fighting for respect and vindication (even if they were all guilty).

So that's my take on the situation. However, if it is France and Germany in the final, I want you to know that you heard it here first.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The real truth about Net Neutrality

You've probably heard and read a lot about this hot button topic. Lots of ads on TV and Radio, in News Papers and, OC, all over the 'Net. Seems everyone has an opinion on it. After doing some serious, and hopefully impartial, research, I have whittled away all the hype, misinformation and outright lies to get at the real truth of the matter. You don't have to believe me. You don't have to agree with me. But what I'm going to say it the real underlying truth no matter what you believe in or agree with. The Earth is the Earth, the Sun is the Sun and this is the real, undeniable, irrefutable deal.

Let's start with a definition of what Net Neutrality means. Well, this is our first hurdle. The term means different things depending on which side of the fence you are sitting. So what are the sides to this fence? This is a better place to begin.

There was a good article in the Washington Post yesterday that did a really good job of explaining the who and what [free registration required] of this touchy topic. I'll give the dime version of the article here.

The bottom line is who will foot the bigass bill for the future infrastructure of the Internet. No, that's not quite right, it's who will be the one to gouge the hell out of us users for the future infrastructure of the Internet. The two camps that are fighting this war are the Telcos, AT&T and BellSouth Corp., among others, and the big content providers, like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, etc. Their two respective "Grassroots Sites" are http://www.handsoff.org and http://itsournet.org. If you dig around these sights it's not an easy link to make, but it is there. So what happens if one side wins over the other? If the Telcos win, they jack up the rates we users pay. If it's the content providers, they'll implement tiered and/or metered pricing for premium services like VOD, VoIP, etc. Either way, we're screwed.

Some other areas of influence are exerting themselves, too. SavetheInternet.com is interesting in that it's backed by what would normally be blood enemies. MoveOn.org Civic Action on the political left to the Christian Coalition of America on the right. Throw in the nonpartisan group Free Press and you have a hodgepodge of disparate organizations tell you to do something or other about this crucial issue. What that might be? Your guess is a good as mine. It's also likely that the FSF and EFF are in on this as well. I'm to lazy to look up their stuff, though.

One organization you might not know of is the US Internet Industry Association. This is an organization that has been around for over a decade fighting directly in Congress and on Capitol Hill. They are the only organization, and do mean ONLY, that has been consistently fighting for common sense and reason in the legal system of the US. If you are donating any funds, either by direct donation or membership dues, to any of the other organizations I've mentioned then I strongly encourage you to join the USIIA. They are the only ones (have I mentioned that before?) that are actually making changes as opposed to headlines. Not that the EFF or FSF aren't trying to do something. They just aren't actually having any impact on anything outside of the tech community.

And that's it. Everything you never wanted to know about the whole mess euphemistically called Net Neutrality. It doesn't matter what happens, the users will get the bill and that's the bottom line. If you still feel like tilting at windmills don't let me stop you. But it might be easier to spend the energy doing something more constructive. Like basket weaving.

Monday, June 26, 2006

My desktop running Xfce 4.4 beta 1

My Xfce Desktop This is a screen shot of my laptop running the Desktop Environment Xfce 4.4 beta 1. The window decorations and layout are CDE-like but the task bar on the bottom is currently in the standard WinXX/GNOME/KDE configuration. If/when the ability to have a CDE-like setup I'll do that and post an update screenie.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My quick review of Fedora Core 5

This is my initial take on FC5 shortly after doing a very messy upgrade from FC4. Once I've had more time with it I might do a more in depth one. Or not. Who knows?

Ok, this upgrade was not as smooth as it could have been. In fact it was down right scary. This was in no way due to FC5 or anything related to Fedora. See, my laptop's DVD/CD-RW combo drive decided it didn't want to play nice anymore a few months ago. The only way I had to upgrade the thing was to do a "yum upgrade". This isn't recommended but it's been known to work if you prepare for it. Well, all was going fine (i.e. the thing had been running for about 8 or 10 hours) when a T-storm decided to blip the power. It had d/l'ed just about all the rpm files and hadn't yet started the actual upgrade so I was a bit lucky. So, what to do now?

Running "yum upgrade" again just spit out pages of dependency problems. It was time to make like Jimmy Neutron and have a brain blast. Lo and behold, I had one. I went to the yum package directories for the repositories and ran the ugly and dangerous "rpm -Uvh --nodeps --force *.rpm" command. Oh the fun you can have with that specific combination of rpm options and switches. I used the "rpm -Fvh --nodeps --force *.rpm" variation for the other repositories, like dreis and livna. After doing this voodoo magic it was time to reboot and see what happened.

Well, I must have done something right in a past life 'cause the system came up and seemed to run quite nicely. So now I have a working FC5 system despite all my attempts to sabotage it. What's the bad boy look like?

It looks good. I made sure to update things again and also to make sure that the new toys like Beagle and F-spot were installed. As soon as I find the charger for my digital camera I'll try the latter out. But the really important things I need are email and web. Firefox is, as always, sweet and nice. But then there's Evolution. I have a very strong love/hate relationship with Evolution. In FC4's Evolution 2.2 it was 60% love and 40% hate. Now, with Evolution 2.6, it's closer to 35% love and 65% hate. Ever since version 1.x of this app I have found that each upgrade added a few nice things but always, without fail, had more thing bad/broken/stupid than good things. Now, the bad/broken/stupid things outweigh the good stuff. Whoever had the idea to make the trash and junk folders virtual was definitely on crack. And now, my INBOX is no longer recognized as a special folder but as one I had to resubscribe to. There are other little things that have changed which went from useful and easy to use to now being really crippled. I haven't looked at Outlook in ages but I have a bad feeling that if I did I'd see the exact same UI. Thus I have moved to Thunderbird. Now Thunderbird isn't perfect but it sure is a world better than Evolution, now.

Oh, if anyone can tell me how to get T-bird to sort the folders in normal, intelligent order (numbers then capital letters in alphabetical order then lower case letters alphabetical order) instead of the insane order (numbers then case insensitive alphabetical order) I promise to reward them with something special and unique (or maybe a cheap trinket thingy from the Dollar Store).

The last bit of work I need to do is to get Xfce installed so I have a decent desktop environment that's much more usable for me than GNOME or KDE. Hopefully Xfce 4.4 will be out soon. That will make things really nice.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Fussball-Weltmeisterschaft: ITALIEN - USA

Right now it's halftime in the US vs Italy game. The significants of this game, besides it being contested by my home country team against my #1 favorite team, is the fact that they are playing in Kaiserslautern. This is the town where I spent most of my youth, from the age of 13 to 19. I went to the American High School in Vogelweh. I lived 3 years in the little village of Rodenbach. Spent a couple of years living and working on Ramstein AB, home of the 86th Alirlift Wing (AW). When I was there in the 70's the 86th Tactical Fighter Wing was also there. The 86th AW used to fly the C-5s, though now it seems to be home for C-130s, C-40s, C-20s and C-21s. Just up the way at Bitberg AB, the 36th Tactical Fighter Squadron was based. They flew the F-15s. Oh man, what a bird.

Well, the 2nd half is starting. The game is tied 1-1 (which is a big accomplishment for the USians). I'm watching the game on Univision because the announcing is better. Not in what they say, I can't understand a word they're saying, but they call the game with the right cadence and feel. The US announcers call the games like they do baseball and football. You can't feel the game that way.

And there's nothing that beats: GoooooOOOOOOOoOOOoooooooAAAAAAAAaaaaaalllllLLLLLLLLLL!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Heavy Metal: I was there

Last month VH1 declared it to be Metal Month in preparation to the first annual Rock Honors Award. One of the things they had on was a four part documentary called "Heavy: The Story of Metal." It started with the pre-metal days featuring acts that were the genesis of what became known as Heavy Metal. Then moved onto the "rebirth" of Metal after it was almost crushed by Punk in Europe and Disco in the US. From there it highlights the West Coast wave of what would come to be known as "Hair Bands" finally ending with the current state of diverse artists and genres that can be classified as being under the Metal umbrella. The time line for this is from the late 60's and early 70's to today.

Watching this I was hit by a very strong feeling of nostalgia. You see, I was there at the rebirth of Metal. My family lived in Germany and we got to see and hear about bands that were hitting big there three or four years before they hit the States. Being 20 years old in 1981/1982 in Europe was an incredible thing. The feeling of energy, the power of anti-establishment and alienation yet with the feeling of belonging and brotherhood... You can't imagine it. At that time I practically lived in the local Rock Bars meeting people and even local bands who all shared the same feelings. It was a paradoxical time of disillusionment and hopefulness. The world sucked but the future, carried on the power cords of Metal, was bright and optimistic. All of these feelings came back to me as I watched the parade of artists and bands on the screen.

Zeppelin, Purple, Sabbath, Priest, Motörhead, Maiden, Van Halen, Metallica... There are to many to mention. It was all a fantastic ride that hasn't slowed down. It occasionally gets overshadowed by other trends in music; Grunge, Hip-Hop, Boy Bands, Brittany/Christina/Blahblahblah. But in the end you will find that in 20 years people will still be buying Judas Priest albums while asking, "Brittany who?"

But this feeling expands ever further than Metal. If you look at the summer concert series you'll see bands like Styx, Journey, Def Leopard, AC/DC, et. al., all packing in the concert halls. Why? Simple, they are purveyors of good music. Music that can touch the heart and soul of people from 68 to 43 to 9 (that would be my mother, me and my son). And while it's true that we all have our differences in other parts of our musical tastes (Grandma loves the Standards and my son likes Hip-Hop, two genres I am not likely to have in abundance on my iTunes playlist) we will always come together the minute those first notes of "Breakin' the Law" explode out from the speakers.

AC/DC explained it best, though, in the the last song of the "Back in Black" album, Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution -

"Rock 'n' roll ain't noise pollution
Rock 'n' roll, it'll never die
Rock 'n' roll ain't noise pollution
Rock 'n' roll
Oh, rock 'n' roll
Is just rock 'n' roll, yeah
"

And that's all it is.
It's just Rock 'n' Roll.
Lynyrd Skynyrd is just Rock 'n' Roll.
Heavy Metal is Rock 'n' Roll.
Rock 'n' Roll is just Rock 'n' Roll.
Yeah!