Monday, April 30, 2007

Uncommon Logic(tm) #1 - Daylight Savings Exacerbates Global Warming

Thought I'd start this series on truly amazing thinkers.

Some might call it "folk logic", like snapping your fingers to keep the tigers away. No tigers near here, so it must be working.

This is also known as bad logic, or plain old stupidity.

I like to think of it as a Shrubbery, or the type of logic Shrub employs.

"Daylight Exacerbates Warming (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Northwest Edition, April 16th, 2007)

You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two. This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they ? Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.


Unfortunately, it appears that Mr. Meskimen wrote this tongue-in-cheek (see Snopes write-up). But it is still worth a laugh, and, I hope, a start of a new series.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Meet the Hamsters...

Had a bad day at work last Thursday. Made a big mistake by (a) showing up at the project staff, and (b) forgetting to check my values and mouth at the door.

Started off with the big project manager talking about the project we're re-using a large portion of our design from dropping the ball and not designing their stuff to work in our environment. Wouldn't be an issue, other than our project is dead if their stuff don't work. So I asked the question on when they're going to stop calling saying their designing to meet our needs. Guess that's one reason I'm in engineering and not management - that's one of those questions you're not supposed to ask.

Second thing was when Mr. Central Ops was talking about how things are going front end environment, and things are back to normal. Big manager says that's good, as making the decision to go with backup plan is very painful. So I step in and say "You remember that normal wasn't very good. We could work, but not predictably." Mr. Central Ops whips out the spreadsheet with this factoid, and then his get well plan. All of which don't explain why I hadn't been able to turn-in my changes for over half a week. This degenerated, so I stood up to storm out of the room. Decided against storming out (big mistake - always storm out if you're half way there), so sat back down, realized that (a) nothing had changed by speaking up, (b) if I stayed in the room, I was only going to get angrier because of that, so I then left quietly at the end of that conversation.

Very frustrating being one of the few people left who still speaks up and tries to make a difference to have it beaten out of you.

StinkyJ had the same thing happen to him today. Same basic thing - despite your years of experience, and working directly in that area now, this person in the central group knows better.

So if you come by my office and work and hear some squeaking, it's not me complaining. It's just the ball bearings in my exercise wheel needing oil. Oh - and check my water and food on the way by. Don't want the hamsters to die in their offices. That'd be against policy - you should die on your own time.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Entertained Hamsters for Decades...

Had to run to the bathroom tonight. Day after Nava's birthday - meant to go out to dinner, but Nava was avoiding her singing group, and didn't feel like going out. So I made dinner - and opened some wine. And a 2nd bottle. And then the news game on.

I'm still laughting about it - newscaster said something, at which point Nava said "Hamsters"? Item was "Entertained fans for decades" - Nava heard "Enterained Hamsters for decades."

First time in 5 year in which Nava made a slip in English as funny as some of mine in Hebrew. I laughed, I cryed, I ran for the bathroom to pee.

And then I blogged it.

I can't translate my 10-100 truly hilarious mis-speaks in Hebrew, as they're not funny in English. Ma-heeg Aleek. That's what I saw on Nava's phone one time - should have been something like "Maheg Alecha", which means "Unknown Caller". But, for some reason, "Maheeg Aleek" made Nava pull-over and call her sister.

Anyway - Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

And yes - Don Ho entertained Hamsters for Decades!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Tomatoes, Conquering and Computers

Haven't posted for 3 weeks.

Would have a good excuse if I said I hadn't been on a computer at home during those 3 weeks. Yep, I'd have a good excuse if that was the case.

Was sick for a week - spent a lot of time on the computer, but playing Civ IV. Nice thing about Civ IV is it's like TV - you dont' need a brain to do it, and you can set it on an easy setting and conquer the world with a little bit of competition, but nothing to serious.

And then there was getting everything transferred over to the new computer, backed up off the old computer, backed up again, and then "wiping" the old computer. Last thing you want to do is give away all your financial info and passwords.

You could just delete everything, and use a program like Eraser to overwrite it, or your could reformat your hard disk and start from scratch. Or you could be extra cautious - and run a program to like DBAN (Darik's Boot and Nuke). You boot to a floppy / CD, and then shred the data on your hard drive, by writing over it in multiple different ways to not only destroy the data, but all evidence of the data. There's the simple write 0's, write 1's. There's the Canadian Royal Mounted Police of writing "I like horsies" followed by "I'm a Lumberjack, but I'm OK". Guess they tried just having the horses gallop all over the hard drives, but that did a better job of rendering them useless than erasing the data.

Of course, the US Millitary / FBI / CIA and NSA (No Such Agency) have their own standards. All of those are variations of recording "24" onto the hard disk, followed by CSPAN. Why does it need to record CSPAN as well as 24? Turns out that dialogue of Jack Bauer is not truly random, with certain phrases, such as "WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR" and "Make no mistake, if you do not tell me , I will kill you." Good thing is that while the political BS on CSPAN is even more repetitive, politicians try hard to put their 100 phrase vocabulary together in different ways, so the combination of 24 and CSPAN are particularly effective in erasing all useful electronic data.

But back to my story. What I did - delete all the files, and ran Eraser to remove all evidence of them. Run DBAN to shread everything on the hard disk. Re-format the hard disk. And only then re-install Windows XP and the software the came with the computer / is free.

Just re-install Windows XP. My computer came with the original Windows XP - not even SP1, let alone SP2. So, re-installing goes something like this:

  1. Install Windows XP from original CD
  2. Reboot, activiate, run Updater.
  3. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.
  4. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.
  5. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.
  6. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.
  7. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.
  8. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.
  9. Reboot, click "No" for logging onto .NET, run Updater.

Yep - 9 rounds to get all patches / updates / stuff re-installed. 9 clicks to tell .NET to go f-off. Actually only took a couple of hours. Then it was tracking down good free anti-virus (PCMag recommended AVG, so I went with that), Spyware (Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy also recommended by PCMag, and I've used them off / on for years), and other freeware (OpenOffice looks pretty cool - free software to replace Word / Excel / PowerPoint).

Get the old computer setup and ready to give away, at which point I realize that it's now about 2-3 times faster than it was "pre-cleanup", since it is no longer gunked up by lots of little software programs running in the background, doesn't have 5 years of accumulated electronic dust causing it be slow. If the house was bigger, I might have kept it as a file / print server someplace. Good thing about having a smaller house is the forced minimization.

Which brings us to spring cleaning - started that yesterday. Me in the garage, Nava in her studio. I filled up half a large garbage bags with junk / old stuff don't really need anymore, and Nava discovered the carpetting she's always detested in her studio. Need to go out and do the other half of the garage in a few minutes.

Got the garden in last weekend, after prepping it the weekend before. Good thing about Sunnybail (it's supposed to be Sunnyvale, but with a bit more global warming, we'll be underwater, so I'm betting on Sunnybail) is the free compost at the recycling center. As much as you want, if you're a resident. Now, the Crudolla, which is over 10 years old now, and not as good looking as it is in the "Cast of Characters" over at CherkyB, can hold 8 five-gallon buckets of compost in the trunk. A couple of hours and 3 trips later, I had 120 gallons of compost on the garden, plus some basic fertilizer and green sand mixed in. There's something about me and 3 - maybe it's a mild case of OCD or something:
  • Number of trips to Sunnybail recycling for compost?
  • Number of times I turn the soil over each spring to mix in the compost / amendments
  • Number of unique ways I erased the data off the old computer
  • Number of tires with hubcaps on the Crudolla
  • Number of jokes CherkyB will add relating 3...

Bad thing about going to the nursery on a Saturday afternoon, on the way back from the recyling center with a load of compost, is Saturday afternoon is when the amateur gardeners go there. You get looked at funny for showing up with gardening cloths, let alone dirty gardening clothes caused you've been gardening. And their mozing around like cows grazing in the pasture - no real purpose or process, and they just stand where they want. And leave their carts blocking the isles. And their idiot kids just stand around and you have to ask them to let you by. Saturday mornings 9am is much better. 7am would be better, but then I'd have to leave a note for Nava to find when she wakes up...

Got some tomatos, and peppers and spices. Planted a couple of handfulls of old sugar pea seeds - figured they were old, so I'd overplant by a bunch and see if anything sprouted. With all the freezes we had over the winter, had to replace the pressure reducer that hooked the dripper system up to the sprinkler controller - it froze and cracked a couple of months back, which explained the mad dash outside @ 5:30am to turn off that sprinkler branch when it came on and was shooting water all over the side of the house and the master bedroom window.

And the soil still has a good whiff of funkiness to it, so my jokes about dead bodies with the neighbors are keeping up my "nice but a little off" rep in the neighborhood.