Tuesday, December 31, 2002

It's official - ths year sucked less than 2001

Then again, 2001 was an extraordinary year in suck terms. Personally, it was an average year at best - until you factor in David. He brought it up to be the best year ever for me. Single-handedly, I might add.

He's experiencing the diaper changes that go along with teething (many of you will know of what I speak...), and I expect the first tooth shortly. Tonight, we took him out for an early New Years' dinner. Rinaldo's (our usual haunt) was closed for a private party, so we wound up at the Salem Beerworks instead. A lot of folks had the same idea we did, though - there were babies all over the restaurant tonight. He had fun, though, and so did we.

I'm really looking forward to 2003, for two big reasons. First, David. Second, It's the beginning of my fifth year at work, and I get another week's vacation added in as of Thursday morning.

Needless to say, my priority is definitely with the first reason.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Merry Whatever!

David's seven months old (as of Christmas Eve), and all is well with him. Jane's parents are in town visiting (they arrived Sunday, and they're going back tomorrow) - they're enjoying the time with the little guy a lot.

As many know, the Northeast got buried under a lot of snow from the Christmas Day nor'easter yesterday. We didn't get the snow here until mid-afternoon, but when it hit, it hit big. The five of us had decided (well, actually David had very little to do with the decision) to follow the ancient Turiel Christmas Day dinner tradition - which was to go out for Chinese food.

(footnote to this: Do you know what Chinese people call Chinese food? Food.)

So we went to the Gourmet Garden in Swampscott, which Jane and I had not yet been to - we went to the restaurant that had been there previously a lot, though... And we arrived with the snow blowing sideways and the wind howling, sat down in a full restaurant (in case people didn't know, all us Jews go out for Chinese food on Christmas - it's where we secretly decide how to run the world. Though I think I must have been left out of that meeting, because I don't even get to run my own IT department nowadays.), ordered drinks, and the power went out.

In the time we sat there, the storm got still worse, so when we left we decided that it wouldn't be a good idea to try another place. We stopped back at the house to pick up a bag of leftover subs from the other day, and I drove my in-laws back to the hotel with a bag of leftovers for their dinner. Yum.

Other than that, though, the holiday was a blast. I gave Jane a new point-and-shoot camera to replace the old APS camera she has that doesn't work very well. She gave me a wonderful son.

I got the better gift (of course, she gets to share it...). We're going to try the Chinese restaurant again tonight.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

More fun with English

Here's something that's somewhat related to my previous entry:

My car is a late-model Olds Bravada. When I turn the ignition key, all the warning lights cycle on as part of the self-test the car runs (as they do in virtually all cars). Included in that is an indicator light that illuminates the following message:

CHECK GAGES

Now, maybe I'm just behind the times here, but I've never thought of that word as spelled "GAGES". So just for the heck of it, I Googled the phrase, and it's pretty darned popular. Apparently, thanks to the plate tectonics involved in language, English is shifting beneath me.

I love my native language... I think

As I was heading to work today, I stopped at my local supermarket to get the newspaper. They had signs advertising the weekly specials in the window, as virtually all markets do.

So far so good. I glanced at the signs as I walked in. The most prominent one was for:

Semi-boneless rib roast.

Maybe it's me, but I've never thought "boneless" was a term that lent itself to any modifiers. It's kind of an absolute.

So that was my head-scratcher for today.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Friday, December 13, 2002

Crud. Looks like I killed another one.

And now, DirecTV DSL is shutting down. I've killed yet another DSL ISP. Here's my recent ISP history:

Late 1998-Late 2000: Flashcom. They rocked at first, and started fading fast as they ran out of money. A couple of weeks before they croaked, I jumped ship to:

Late 2000 - Spring 2001: XO. I had their SOHO package, which was pretty nice. It was through NorthPoint, though, and when NorthPoint went to the Great Beyond (and XO, rather than changing CLECs, discontinued my product) I jumped ship to:

April 2001-February 2002: AT&T Broadband. They changed names twice while I was on it, and started getting explicitly server-unfriendly. So I went back to DSL, since the now dying DirecTV Internet could give me a static IP.

DirecTV was great - I was able to get decent speeds, OK support, good reliability, and at a reasonable price. I got one of my employees signed up, and we just put a telecommuter on it a couple of weeks ago.

So I just signed up tonight with Speakeasy. I really hope that wasn't the kiss of death for them, too.

Monday, December 09, 2002

A whole weekend's worth of partying

We spent the weekend celebrating Jane's birthday in one form or another. Friday night was the fancy "elegant dinner and a movie" night. We went to the Grapevine here in Salem (Jane had a tenderloin that {sob} she had them char to oblivion, I had duck). Then we went to our only movie of 2002, which was My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Yes, it's still playing in the first-run houses. It wasn't bad - I even had a few laughs, but it wasn't my idea of what I'd voluntarily make my only big-screen movie of the year. Oh well. Booboo did OK in our absense, though Jane's friend Liz may have been a little overwhelmed.

Saturday, we did errands and then went out to join Jane's friend Lori and her 2-month old daughter (and much of her family) at a restaurant for Lori's birthday. They did some joint partying, though. We went to a few mall stores afterwards (the resturant was in the mall), and I had to change David's diaper on the floor of the womens' restroom at Chico's while Jane tried on clothes out in the store. It, too, was amusing.

Today I was reading to him from a book showing him all the animals (well, about 10 of them). When I turned to the page for "cat", I said the word - he looked at the page, and then turned to his side to look at Gracie. He smiled.

I think I may have a Super Genius Boy on my hands, just like Woodge does. Though mine has a slightly smaller head, proportionately.

Friday, December 06, 2002

Well, I was right

Wednesday afternoon, after I got home, Jane went out to do some errands and get a haircut. I played with David for a while, and then I put him on the Gymini in his room so I could go do a few things in the other room (I had to wrap Jane's birthday gifts).

I could hear David playing and drumming his heels on the floor, so I kept working for about 20 minutes. Then I went into his room to check on him.

He was on his chest, several feet from where I had put him, and he was nosing one of his toys ahead of him. He made it to the open floor, and was in the process of ducking under the crib.

For a second, I was horrified. Then I ran to get the camera and record the occasion, after which I watched him for a few minutes as he shuffled around. When he ran out of gas and started crying a little (he doesn't generally like being on his chest), I picked him and the toy up and put him in he crib to play.

I am now accelerating our childproofing efforts. I need to buy a couple more gates this weekend, I think.

Yesterday, we all went out to Rinaldo's to celebrate Jane's birthday. He had a blast. So did we.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Random Dude (and other) thoughts...

On Friday, I put David down for a nap in his crib - on his back. Jane went in a while later, and he was lying on his chest. This is a Good Thing. He'll be crawling in about another day or so (it seems).

Another quality bit of entertainment - Jane and I were watching wrestling Monday night, while David was playing in his exersaucer. Just for the heck of it, we started making Ric Flair's "Whooo!" noises at him.

So he shrieked back at us each time we did it. Afterwards, he'd giggle. I think he's smarter than he's letting on.

Sad news from the entertainment world: The greatest band in the world has called it quits. I am sad. I also never got to see them live, unfortunately.

One other unrelated thing: The brined turkey recipe I got from Good Eats came out really nice. However, even a 12-pound turkey is huge when you only are feeding 6 people. I'm still eating turkey sandwiches. However, the sandwiches are good - just toast a couple of pieces of brown bread, slap on a little mayo, and stuff with turkey. Lettuce is optional. Yum.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Another day, another milestone...

A short time ago today, he rolled (with assistance via using my hand to pull himself) from his back to his front.

But then he rolled back onto his back by himself.

Cool.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Six down, two hundred and ten to go...

The Dude turned one-half yesterday. We celebrated by feeding him pears from a jar, letting him play with toys all day (when he wasn't napping), and updating his web pages.

It was good to see him again after the conclusion early Friday morning of my trip to Illinois. The trip back was eventful - Manchester was socked in with fog all day and we were stuck at the gate in Chicago for about an hour waiting for the fog to lift. Finally, we took off before the airport opened, as the weather forecast was for the fog to be dispersed by rain by the time we arrived. It was a crapshoot, but it worked out - though we had to circle for about 20 minutes after arrival they were able to get us in.

By the way, Southwest rocks. Everyone was nice, including the pilot (who was very entertaining before we left), and everyone kept us well-informed the whole time. All that for $165 round trip.

Anyhow, we landed around 1 AM, and I arrived home at 2:15 in the morning. Thankfully, my bag was one of the first off the plane. When I got in, Jane woke up to greet me, and I unpacked quickly and went into David's room to see him.

It smelled bad. So I picked him up out of bed, and changed his diaper. While I was changing him, he woke up, looked at me, and smiled.

I think that moment may have been the happiest I've felt in a long time. And I've had some pretty good moments.

On a tangent from that, I have a general policy when it comes to purchasing meats and poultry. I only buy either Kosher or organic (preferably both). That means we get Coleman's (organic) beef, and either Bell & Evans or Empire chicken. On the rare occasions that we buy hot dogs, we buy Hebrew National. Generally speaking, that policy works well for us and gets us nice, healthy food.

We make exceptions when we eat out, of course - but we try to go mainly to places that have a good reputation for making quality food.

Yesterday, though, I made a big exception to my policy out of weakness.

I bought a box of frozen White Castle burgers last night. Regardless of policies, I just can't resist a slider. Darn.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

I'm not home today.

Unfortunately. I'm writing this entry from a hotel room in Normal, IL, where I've just begun three days of meetings at the Mothership. Joy.

Actually, travel isn't too bad - and the trip out was pretty easy (Southwest out of Manchester, NH). I have high-speed Internet in the room, which is handy. What sucks is spending a couple of days without David. I haven't done that before, and I miss him terribly already.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Today was fun - David's first Geek Show

I took David to the Geek Show up in New Hampshire today - I met my friend Rob up there (who had his one-year-old boy with him), and we entertained ourselves for a while. We got all four possible frequencies of the little mini-RC racers - including the two frequencies that aren't exactly FCC-approved. Cool.

Then we went to a nearby 99 restaurant for lunch - David was quite the handful, and he went into full meltdown mode as we were finishing. If any diners in the adjoining towns are reading this, I apologize - you probably heard him over the border in Methuen, he screamed so loud.

After I got him bundled back up to head home he calmed down and slept the rest of the way. He had a little session in his jumper seat after Jane came home, and then I picked him up and put him on my shoulders for a little ride around the house. he was giggling and having a blast.

Then he puked on my head.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

The key to surviving teething

I think I've got a handle on this thing now. The key to dealing with teething is to take advantage of the short attention span of a baby.

If you distract them before they get fully wound up, there's less of a chance of an unconsolable cry. We're using a couple of his favorite toys as keys here - quickly swoop in and drop a toy nearby at the first sign of trouble and he'll turn his attention away from the hurt and onto the toy. He forgets all about the discomfort for a while.

This may not work so well when he's farther along, but it's a nice trick right now.

Meanwhile, however difficult the day can get, he still goes to sleep promptly when we put him in his crib and turn the light off, so even if we're fully worn down by him during the day at least we get to sleep at night. That's a huge help. Every day seems easier when you get a full night's sleep.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Uh-oh...

The last couple of days have been kinda on the rough side - I think he's teething now. We'll see where and when the first eruption comes. Meanwhile, he's been particularly difficult in the afternoons. Last night, we went out to dinner with him, and he started getting upset during the meal. Accordingly, I ate chicken parmesan one-handed, holding him on my lap.

So we may have to be a little more careful in our going-out plans for a few weeks.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Update

Just a few things to point out today, followed by an election rant:

David is feeding well - we're giving him solid food every other day right now and he's adjusting. Meanwhile, there's ample opportunities for comedy in the process.

My parents came and visited last weekend, and they babysat for us Monday night while Jane and I went to go see Raw at the Garden. It was a good time - if you are one who occasionally enjoys the guilty pleasure of pro wrestling, go see it sometime live. It's fun.

David now giggles regularly - sometimes just spontaneously when he's looking at something that strikes him as amusing. I still can't believe just how lucky Jane and I are to have done this well in the baby lotto.

We're going to the auto show tonight - it's still undecided if we're going to get a new car for her or not, but we'd rather look at them all in a venue where we can see them all at once than go dealer-hopping if we decide to get one. If we have another child, we'll definitely get a new car (maybe even the dreaded minivan - we'll see), but we may do it regardless. Her Mazda is pretty small.

I've been having a good year, as far as football handicapping goes. Maybe I should move to Vegas and start a new line of work.

Poor Woodge just bought a house up in Newburyport and is learning about the joy of homeownership. I just lent him some of my tools for doing electric and telephone wiring diagnostics. I wish him luck - he'll need it.

As for yesterday's election results:

Here in Mass., I was not a big O'Brien fan. I won't miss her at all. I'm not all that impressed with Mitt Romney (and I was very disappointed in his Lt. Governor pick, but the Republican talent pool here is pretty shallow), but at least he's not a current Beacon Hill player. By polling as well as he did, Michael Cloud kept the Libertarians on the major-party list (with 19% against Kerry - no Republican bothered to run). This was good, as Carla Howell ran a truly dismal campaign. After about 6 years of her being the state Libertarian standard-bearer, it's time for a change.

As for the national scene, here's the text of an e-mail I sent about it earlier:


I think one of three scenarios is in play here...

Either Bush successfully pulled off a "wag the dog" scheme by putting Iraq at the top of the list, fooling Americans into supporting him who normally wouldn't. If that's the case, I'm profoundly disappointed in the gullibility of the average American.

Or the typical voter isn't sophisticated enough to recognize the value of a divided government. If that's the case, I'm profoundly disappointed in the lack of intelligence on the part of the average American.

Or, worse of all, the average American agrees with the Republican vision for America, and really believes that the conservative agenda is correct. If that's the case, I'm profoundly disgusted and frightened by the average American.


So, though I have no love for the Democrats, I am not a happy man. A divided government would not confirm a John Ashcroft to be the primary defender of the Constitution. And that's just for starters. I'm really worried about the direction this country may be headed, and I now hope Bush Jr.'s Iraq war winds up the same way as his dad's war - with the current Bush's popularity declining steeply afterwards and winding up a one-termer. Because unless something unforseen happens, the next few years do not look good.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Two update topics today

First off, Saturday was a milestone of sorts - our first attempt at feeding David with a spoon (the cereal is almost as gloppy as the bottle, so I wouldn't call it solids...). It went pretty well, though most of the food dribbled down his bib.

We're feeding him with a spoon every other day for the first week or so while he gets the hang of it. We'll step it up to daily sometime next week. For yesterday's feeding, Jane tried using a little bit of the banana mush to mix with the cereal (instead of water). It took us about half an hour and several washcloths to get him cleaned up. We will be waiting a while before we try that again...

On the technology front, I pretty much finished ripping my CD collection - it came out to around 7.5 GB. Fits the iPod nicely. I still haven't found a really good replacement for the earbuds that don't fit well (they sound great, right up until they fall out of my ear). I'm using a cheapo Philips earbud with an over-the-ear clip right now instead, but the sound isn't anywhere near as good. The search continues... I'm also looking for a FM modulator that I can interface to my Bravada's stero easily and hook the iPod up to in my car.

Finally, (also tech-related) my friend Rob eBayed some stuff for me, and I was able to sell enough junk that I can afford to replace my homenet server with a nice, fanless Mini-ITX form factor system. I'll just be buying the barebones machine (with the slimline CD-ROM, the one I want is about $250), adding RAM and a laptop HD (in a 3.5" adaptor), and moving my e-smith install over to it. It uses a Via Eden 533 processor - plenty of horsepower for low-volume file, web, and MP3 serving.

At this point I'm more interested in running systems that are low-power and/or silent than I am in raw speed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

OK - iThink it iRocks

After selling off a truly massive amount of my stuff at this weekend's MIT Flea (last of the season, see you in April!), I am now the proud owner of a 10GB iPod. It is ridiculously cool. Sound quality is excellent, it syncs up in seconds (it took about 5 minutes to load my 5GB MP3 collection the first time), and it's tiny, which is cool. I top off the battery as suggested each night and it lasts all day.

The only drawback of it is the earbud headphones. They sound great, and they're a very manageable size, but earbuds just don't fit me that great. If anyone has a line on a decent over-the-ear earpiece to replace them, I'd be much obliged.

I tried a set of Sony headphones that I got at Radio Shack yesterday, but the cord is made out of a funny mesh that pinches exposed skin - like the back of my neck. Yecch.


The other thing I have to do is wire up an interface to my car stereo - I'm going to buy a FM Modulator to interface with the stereo on my Olds. That'll be cool.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Our latest trip

We spent the long weekend visiting Jane's family in New Jersey - David had a blast most of the weekend. He wasn't so happy on the way down, though - we had stopped for lunch at my parents' house in Connecticut, and hit the road to Jersey a little before 3.

Unfortunately, we hit horrible traffic, starting around Stamford and continuing onwards. It took an hour for us to make it down the Cross-Bronx Expressway (only about 4 miles or so), and the northern reaches of the New Jersey Turnpike were horrible - we didn't get out of the traffic until past Asbury Park on the Garden State Parkway. It took about 6 hours altogether to make a 3-hour drive, and David blew his gasket after about 4 and a half hours. So we had to stop to feed, change, and comfort him. Poor little guy.

Anyhow, the rest of the trip was fine and fun, and he enjoyed himself and charmed all of southern New Jersey. The trip back yesterday was easy, with hardly any traffic. All in all a success - I'll be posting pictures on my site from the trip in a day or so.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

I guessed wrong

Turns out David still can't quite flip over onto his tummy. I still think it's coming real soon.

I posted some new pictures of him up on his site last night, also.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Brush with greatness

I got an e-mail from my friend Rich last night - he and his wife Lynn were just in Hawaii for a vacation.

It seems on their way back, they stopped in LA, and flew the redeye home. On the plane with them was the immortal Terry Bollea! How cool was that? Anyhow, Terry let people take pictures with him and such - I'm eagerly awaiting the pics (assuming he took them) that Rich snapped.

Because for those of you who have no idea who Terry Bollea is, you might know him by his professional name:

Hulk Hogan.

Now that's cool, brother!

So close...

He's making a real effort at flipping over now. David can get past 90 degrees, but can't quite get the leg motion down to finish the flip. I figure that'll be within the week.

Of course at that point, the positioner is entirely obsolete and borderline dangerous, but it's served us well so far.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Growth update

The Dude turned 4 months old on Tuesday. Yesterday he had his 4-month pediatrician's appointment, and the numbers are:

25" long (70th percentile)
15 pounds, 7 ounces (90th percentile)

So he's entirely caught up from being a preemie and he'll continue to pass the other kids. He got my genes, it seems, when it comes to size.

In an interesting but trivial coincidence, David is exactly 1/3 of a Josh in height now. He's 2'1", I'm 6'3". He also got stuck with more needles yesterday, which left him very unhappy and quite a handful during the evening. He actually had a tough night - we put him to bed at 9, and he was up for a diaper change at 4 and for a meal at 5. Most nights he goes to sleep between 9 and 10, and then he sleeps until between 7 and 9 AM.

I think the shots threw him off a little.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Why I blew off Interop this year

For the last four years ('98-'01), I went to NetWorld+Interop in Atlanta every fall. It's been a valuable show each year, though last year my stay was interrupted because of the September 11th attacks (as mentioned in my previous essay). This year, though, I blew it off. Why did I blow it off this year? Here's why.

N+I has always been useful to me. I go to Atlanta instead of the springtime Vegas show because I enjoy visiting Atlanta, and it's a shorter trip. I also get to hang out with my friend Rich (and his wife Lynn) and play golf for a couple of days before and after the conference. It's also usually a little quieter time at work, so the timing's a little bit better.

This year, though, after much debate, I decided to skip it. I'm sure, when they look at the statistics of who went and who stayed home at K3Media, they'll assume that I stayed home because of September 11th. I'll admit that was a bit of a factor - not so much because I was worried about a repeat performance (I'm not that worried, but I also know I can't do anything about it either), but because of the massive inconvenience that flying entails nowadays, especially that week. I really didn't feel like having my tooth fillings inspected for explosives. I assumed that would be the security scenario this past week. I actually haven't flown since heading down to Atlanta last September 8th, and I really don't mind that being the case - I'm kinda glad I haven't had to make a business trip outside of New England during that time (and with Jane's pregancy, we weren't taking any long leisure trips either).

Nah, that really wasn't the reason. The reason I blew off N+I this year was because of David. In the end, I didn't want to leave Jane to take care of him solo for a week yet. And I really couldn't bear to not see him for that long myself. I try to go home for lunch every day just so I can watch him - how could I not do that for a week?

And it paid off, too. had I gone away this past week, I'd be arriving home today. And that means I would have missed his first giggle yesterday afternoon.

He was laughing for about a half hour when one of his toys really captivated him. of course, he has yet to repeat the performance, but I saw it happen.

I'll almost certainly be back at Interop next year. But this year, there's a little guy in the crib nearby who's telling me I definitely made the right choice.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Last year at this time...

One year ago at this time I was heading downstairs in my hotel to meet my friend Jimmy. We were having breakfast before proceeding to our classes for the day - we were at Networld+Interop in Atlanta. I was looking forward to the days' material after the first day of classes Monday. I was planning to go hit the show floor for a little while on Tuesday, see a couple of things I was interested in, and pick up tickets for the show party Wednesday night.

Class started at 8 AM. About an hour into the class, a few peoples' phones rang, and a few pagers went off. I remember thinking "boy, that's rude. My pager's set to vibrate, so should theirs' be". After about 10 minutes, someone went up and spoke to the lecturers quietly, and they made an announcement:

"I've just been told that two planes have hit the World Trade Center in New York - we're going to break early now so people can go find out what's going on if they want to".

I walked out of the classroom in the Omni Hotel and into a different world. People were milling around the Congress Center plaza on their cell phones, and all the TV sets inside that normally show closed loop TV of show blather were tuned to CNN - the CNN headquarters are right across the street. It was obvious what was going on the first time I looked at the TV.

After a few tries, I was able to contact Jane, my parents, and my office, all of whom I notified that things were fine. After the Pentagon attack became known, I decided that it would be a good idea to get out of town - I called my friend Rich (who Jimmy and I stayed with the weekend before - we played a lot of golf), and told him my thinking, and then ran into Jimmy on the plaza a few minutes later. The possibility of staying at the show didn't occur to me at all.

We did walk the show floor for about half an hour to pass time - most of the booths were closed, and I remember looking up at the ceiling a lot. We walked back to the hotel, packed our bags, and grabbed lunch while waiting for Rich to come in and pick us up. He arrived around 3, and we headed back to Alpharetta.

That evening, I cancelled Jane's flight (the national air system was closed anyway, but she had been scheduled to come down Friday for a long weekend with our friends and I), and was able to arrange a minivan rental for the following evening so we could get home. Getting home was the single most important thing I could think of. Thankfully, Jane's parents had driven up to keep her company while I was away - otherwise it would have been even more difficult for her then.

We picked up the minivan Wednesday night. Traffic was virtually nonexistent. We had to go to the airport to get it, and it was deathly quiet. The next morning, we took off for Boston.

We stuck to the back highways - travelling over the Blue Ridge Mountains to avoid DC, and after staying Thursday night with Jimmy's sister and her husband outside of Philly, we went the next day up through Allentown and far around the metro New York area.

Neither of us wanted to see the smoke plume.

We arrived back in Boston around 5 PM Friday - Jane met us, and Jimmy's car was still in the garage. I got home around 6.

Was I directly affected by what happened? No, I wasn't. Jimmy has a relative who works for TJX - she was originally supposed to be on one of the doomed flights, but they changed her plans and sent her to Toronto that day instead. That's as close as events came directly to me. I could have stayed in Atlanta, and even gone back to the show, but I thought the best thing to do was to just get home.

On the one hand, I can't help but feel like it's incredibly shallow of me to focus on my individual 9/11 experience - especially since I didn't lose a neighbor, friend, or relative. But I can't even comprehend the deliberate murder of approximately 3,000 individuals. It's beyond imagining - even a year later. The best I can do is relate how the act intersected my small, relatively insignificant life.

In the larger sense, though, I was affected profoundly. Though I don't understand the crime, I understand the reason, whatever the criminals themselves would say. Cowards attacked us and our way of life because in the end they're jealous. We're free - they aren't. We're tolerant - they're not. We're powerful - they're weak. We're large, and they, for all their bluster, are small.

And in the end, it's their bodies that will lie rotting in the hot Mideast sun, their families destroyed, and their riches dispersed. Their dream will always be the one extinguished. Because their fatal mistake is that they imagine America to be as small, narrow, and petty as they are. And that's just not the case. We have small, narrow people in this country who are similar in mindset to them. But our country itself is a far larger and greater place than they can even understand. Their small minds don't have the room to comprehend that which is America. And thus, in the end, they are doomed by their own lack of vision and thought.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Over the weekend

We finally replaced Jane's 3-year-old iMac DV this past weekend - with a shiny new 17" widescreen iMac. My original inclination was to buy the less pricey eMac, but when she saw the iMac screen it was all over.

After a couple of days, I can safely say it's sweet. I haven't yet made any DVD's (the biggest reason we got it), but I've used it a little, and I'd say it's a hair snappier than my TiBook 667 (my TiBook has a faster system bus, but a slower processor, video card, and hard drive). The widescreen is spectacular to look at, and Jaguar takes good advantage of the GeForce 4MX video subsystem.

My only complaints are that the keyboard cable is just too darned short, and the AirPort reception isn't quite as good as on the old Kihei-series iMac it replaced - so I had to move the base station out of the cellar.

That's it for computers for a while, until David needs one someday. My next project is to try and get my e-smith server box moved over to run on my iOpener. I'll have to either wait until the next version or build my own kernel - the iOpener uses a USB Ethernet card that my friend Rob hacked onto the motherboard, and the 2.2 kernel doesn't really support USB network devices. But my ultimate goal is to run a low-power server that's silent, and the iOpener fits the bill even better than my Book PC.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Another milestone today

Last night, we put David to bed around 10:00, and I just finished feeding him a couple of minutes ago.

Ergo, he slept through the night for the first time - it's been 8.5 hours since we'd fed him last. his mom checked on him a couple of times when she happened to wake up, and the most he needed was to be put back in his positioner (David's quite the squirmer).

This is seriously cool.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Following up

As I'd mentioned, I said I would write about Jaguar once I had it - well, it works very well indeed. Way faster for most tasks, only two compatibility issues with software I use day-to-day (ASM and Zingg), and most of the annoying things in 10.0 and 10.1.x are gone - including the horrible Finder performance from the earlier versions.

When was the last time a Microsoft OS version upgrade actually made a PC faster?

As for other events, we took David to visit my family in Connecticut over the long weekend. He handled the ride far better than I expected he would - slept the whole way down and most of the way back. He now typically goes around 5 hours between feedings most of the time, which almost lets us have a life.

Friday, August 23, 2002

My lack of recent updates

I haven't written anything here the last couple of weeks because there's not too much going on of note. I'm just getting over a cold, which both David and Jane managed to pretty much avoid. I'll write a bunch of stuff about Jaguar once I get it, of course - but that's still a couple of days off.

Sorry. I know all my fan is hanging on every word I write...

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Latest junkjamming example

As the 5 or 6 of you who read this regularly might know,I have a policy of disposing of junk mail by sending it back, shredded, in the postage-paid envelopes it comes with. I call it "junkjamming" in honor of the practice of culturejamming.

Anyhow, here's proof that I'm totally justified in my action. If you read the entry I linked to above, you'd know that we get an amazing amount of crap from MBNA, pushing their various affinity cards. Yesterday, Jane got one from them pushing a PGA Tour affinity card.

I'm a fairly avid golfer (then again, if you know me well, you already know that). Jane owns clubs, and she plays a few times a year (though not this year, for obvious reasons!). However, there is nothing anywhere that would associate her with golf in any marketer files, anywhere.

So this was really stupid. It went back to them, needless to say.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Scary moment

Last weekend, my younger sister and her boyfriend came to visit us for a day. We had a great time - we took David out to dinner with us and we went walking the following morning with him and such.

The scary part came while we were watching TV in the house. I'd channel-surfed around and stopped on a "SNL" special running on VH-1 about music from the first 25 years of SNL. Martin Short (the host) introduced one of the next highlights - it was Spinal Tap's first performance. They played "Big Bottom".

And my sister and I both knew all the words, and sang along with them gleefully (she has a lovely voice, while I scare cats with my singing). Jane and Joe were looking at us with an expression that can best be described as horrified.

I think even David was shocked. Tap on, America!

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

One other thing for now

I forgot to mention this in my previous entry, but we took David to his two-month appointment last Wednesday. The vital stats are:

Height - 23.5 inches
Weight - 11 lb, 7 oz.

He's now up to the 50th percentile for weight (right on average, and up from his last visit), and up to the 30th percentile for height (up from the 20th at his last appointment). So he's catching up to the full-term babies pretty quickly. This coming Friday he'll be ten weeks old. Already.

His next doctors' appointment is at the end of September.

Quoth The Rock, "Know your role!"

In the last few days, I have learned my role.

It's to change diapers. I'm real good at that. I can do a change quickly, cleanly, and I can avoid letting him hose down the room while I'm changing him. However, he doesn't like when I feed him - despite my best efforts to feed him slowly and burp out the air, I'm almost always the one who gets greeted with a big, Vesuvius-like fountain of molten formula (and soy formulas reek, big-time!). Jane has the knack for feeding and burping, luckily, so he isn't starving.

I do have one other parenting skill, though - the Daddy Trick. I think every daddy has someting similar, but basically if I lie down and put him face-down on my chest, he'll fall asleep in a couple of minutes.

Darn near guaranteed.

Monday, July 29, 2002

The Top Three (plus one) I use a Mac:

3: MacOS X is Unix, dangit! And Unix just plain rocks.

2: Their hardware looks and runs sweet. I've never had a klunker yet, and I've been using them in one form or another since 1987. Nowadays I'm using a TiBook 667.

1: I run Windows systems all day. When I get home, I like to turn my brain off and just _use_ the computer. Macs give me that, even though it's got Unix inside.

1a: Keeping a Mac secure is a darned sight easier than worying about Windows viruses!

Saturday, July 20, 2002

Oh my, that was spectacular!

I got up at about 5:30 to feed David. As mentioned previously, we're making him about 6 oz. worth of food, so he started out by gulping down about 2 oz. Then I worked on him until I got a few hearty burps. I picked him up and went into my room with him, so I could read the headlines for the day on my Mac while feeding him.

When I do that, he likes to lie stretched out on my chest and that works out well, because I can feed him with one hand and mouse with the other. Multitasking!

Anyhow, he guzzled about another 3 oz., then as he slowed down I started to put my hand on him in preparation to hoist and burp him again. He spit up a little, but then:

All the gas came up. Along with most of the previous 5 oz. of formula. In a fountain.

He soaked my bathrobe, his bib, his outfit, the floor, my wristrest, and the cheap USB keyboard I have on my PowerBook (hence the Apple icon for this entry!). It was impressive, to say the least.

With Jane's help, we got him cleaned up and after successfully getting the last ounce or so into him, he's sleeping off the aftershocks right now. And I've been doing laundry for the last hour since my robe needed it and we filled his hamper with everything. The keyboard may be salvageable. It's been opened and cleaned.

Lesson learned today: burp him more often, no matter how fast he wants to eat. Wow. And keep a healthy distance from your PowerBook when feeding. If you must sit at a computer, sit at one of the cheap ones. That was too close for comfort!

Thursday, July 18, 2002

One more thought for the day

As I was driving back from lunch today, I saw a woman outside her house doing some yardwork. She was wearing a basketball jersey over a t-shirt.

The jersey had a player's last name on it - but not Michael Jordan or Allen Iverson - not even Paul Pierce (big here in Boston):

It had "Rizzotti" on it, with a "21" under that.

The only player with that name/number is former UConn star and pro player Jen Rizzotti. A female player. With her jersey being worn by a regular old person on the street. There's something almost inexplicably Right about that.

You know, maybe there's some hope in this world, after all...

Yippee! A breakthrough!

Last night was a milestone - we fed the Dude at around 10:30ish (which usually takes about a half-hour), then put him to bed. He started crying at about midnight, and I made him a fresh bottle and fed him again - he drank about 3/4 of it.

And the next we heard from him was when I went into his room to feed him at 6:15 this morning - he slept all night!

After I woke him up and fed him, he needed more still - looks like he's now carrying about a 6 oz. tank instead of the 4 he's been packing in. The more we can feed him, the longer it takes to digest it all, meaning the more time between feedings. This, for sure, is a Good Thing.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

And now, my second Top Three

Two entries on the same day - whoa!

Anyhow, here's my Top Three Shortstops in Baseball:

3: Derek Jeter. If this was based strictly on the ability to make clutch plays from Labor Day onwards, he might be on this list all alone (as much as I hate the Yankees). Solid defense, good power, very good average, makes big plays. I'm not convinced he'd be quite as good on a lesser team, though. Jeter is probably the best complimentary player in baseball, and if I have built a team that I thought was just one player away from winning it all, I'd want him on my team.

2: Nomar Garciaparra. Nobody will ever hit .400 again. But if it happens, it'll probably be Nomar who does it. He hits for power, average, and the same thing that keeps him from hitting .400 is what makes him so dangerous - Nomar can (and does) hit balls way out of the strike zone. Better dicipline would get him on base with walks more and cut the at-bats down. Nomar would be at the top of the list except for his defensive flaws: he makes plays no other shortstop could possibly make but he's prone to throwing the ball away (of course some of those throws would be base hits against a different shortstop). His range is amazing.

1: Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod has it all. He'll probably break Aaron's home run record if he stays healthy (of course, Bonds might have it by then). He hits for average, power, and he plays an excellent defense. His only flaw is that he's got terrible taste in teams - had he not just gone for the money, he'd probably have been the difference in Seattle last year and he'd have a ring today.

Granted, this list doesn't have any NL guys on it, but I don't get to see them all year.

Josh's first Top Three List

...because I'm too darn lazy for a Top Ten:

Top Three Golf Movies:

3: Happy Gilmore. Yeah, it's dumb, but the prototypical Adam Sandler aggressive New Hampshire moron character was at it's best here. Unfortunately, it directly led to his other films. But this one made me laugh.

2: Tin Cup. Ron Shelton is the only director who can get squat out of Costner. And he's at his laconic best when he plays broken-down small-time jocks.

1: Caddyshack. Duh. The best golf movie ever, and one of the funniest movies ever. Anarchy at it's finest.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Idle wrestling thought...

You know, when Triple H blew out his left quad last year in a tag match (Trips and Austin vs. Jericho and Benoit), not only did he finish the match on one leg, but he took Jericho's submission move (the Walls of Jericho) without complaint. He carried the match several additional minutes despite an injury that had him in surgery the next day and cost him six months of rehab.

I admired that work ethic - I'm not Aich's biggest fan, but that's a truly dedicated performer.

So last night, I'm watching WWE RAW, and in his first match back after 3 months on the injured list (a 10-man tag, wtih the NWO plus Benoit and Eddy Guerrero) going up against Bubba and Spike Dudley, Booker T, Goldust, and Rob Van Dam - is Kevin Nash. Good match, right?

After about 10 minutes of battling, Kevin getts tagged in. After a couple of moves, he trips in the middle of the ring, folds up, and collapses in the corner. Guess what - he tore his quad, too. It took 17 seconds.

However, when Nash went down, he stayed down. Everyone else covered up, and they improvised a new finish (Big Show pinned Booker). Granted Nash is over 10 years older than Hunter, but still.

So now, after 3 months out rehabbing a torn bicep, he'll be out about another 6 months or so. Good investment, Vince!

Sunday, June 30, 2002

World Cup - whatsupwiddat?

I understand the game of soccer just fine. Heck, it can be fun to watch. When I was younger, I enjoyed playing it, though I was no good at all (I was OK in the couple of years I goofed around at club-level rugby, so maybe it was just that I'm better when I can use my hands). And I fully understand that other nations don't get into the sports we prefer here the same way they do soccer.

What I don't quite understand, though, is why World Cup causes such national passions to erupt worldwide. Is it something about soccer that encourages herd behavior? Or is it that this is the _only_ sport many of these nations really participate in? I dunno. I just know that no matter how big soccer is in the rest of the world, I just won't ever feel the same passion for the game.

Does that make me a classless unsophisticated imperialist American? No. It just means that I have other priorities. I don't expect people in the rest of the world to necessarily be as passionate about baseball or (American) football as I can be. Don't expect me to care that much about your game.

One pleasant side note to the now-concluded World Cup - I live in a city with a large Latino population. So Brazil's triumph is noteworthy for one good reason - there are right now a lot of stunning Brazilian women riding around in convertibles celebrating. And they've all been gorgeous so far.

Friday, June 28, 2002

Freakin' awesome - the Zaurus 5500

I picked up a Sharp Zaurus 5500 a few weeks ago - what a great device! Granted, it has a few shortcomings, which I'll list to start out with:

- A little bit on the big side

- Battery life is so-so (but you can swap in a fresh pack, which helps)

- The CF slot protector is too easy to knock out

- The built-in apps still need some polish - in particular, one-touch appointments should be possible. The address book and calendar replacements from The Kompany are nicer-looking with a few more goodies, but slow to load and suffering from some glitches. They also don't uninstall right.

- No Mac sync.

- No speaker.

Sounds like it sucks, right? Well, it doesn't. here's why. This is not "just an organizer". It's a full-out, Linux-based PC that happens to run on a tiny battery and fit in a pocket. The networking features are great - my D-Link wireless card Just Worked when I popped it in - now I can surf using either my home AirPort (it works great with it) or any public Wi-Fi network out there. I have a batch of standard Linux scanning/troubleshooting tools loaded on it, which I can use to replace my big klunky Fluke LANmeter for some uses. It has an SD slot as well, so I've got an extra 128MB of storage available. The navigation disc is well-thought out, the screen is bright and clear, and the sliding built-in keyboard is awesome, if a little klunkier than the one on my Blackberry.

It makes my PocketPC (an iPaq 3765) look like a piece of junk in comparison, and the iPaq uses almost identical StrongARM-based hardware. The Zaurus is far more rugged than the iPaq (discovered the hard way, when one of my cats knocked it off my desk), and though it's a little bigger it fits my hand better.

Essentially, here's how I see it. If you live exclusively in a Windows world (brrr...) then maybe a PocketPC will be to your liking. If you can get one cheap enough. If you want either a cheap organizer, a tiny organizer, or the simplest thing around, then you want a Palm.

But if you live in a multiplatform world, are comfortable playing on a command line, and want a computer that's so powerful and expandable as to make carrying a laptop almost redundant, then you want a Sharp Zaurus. It's that cool.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Sleep? Ahh, it's over-rated.

At least, I wish it were the case. Right now the sleep is working out like this:

1 night per week - he sleeps real soundly, and only wakes up once for feeding and changing.

4-5 nights per week - a little tougher to get to sleep, and he may wake up a couple of times.

1-2 nights per week - hell on earth. He doesn't pass out until well after 1 AM, and he's up multiple times during the night. Ususally with explosive gas.

Last night was one of those nights. Uggh. The redeeming factor is that we're now getting him out of the house on occasion - yesterday evening we took him to see a couple of the girls at Jane's old work, and then we went down to the Salem Willows for dinner with him. He was pretty good. It should be 2-3 months from now, but we're inching our way towards more regular sleep patterns for him.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

He's freaking me out a little

More David observations from the last day or so:

- We haven't weighed him since last week, but he's growing real fast. He's already too big for the Huggies. I'd estimate he's a little over seven pounds now. At this rate, by next week he'll have outgrown all the preemie clothes he's been wearing so far - then we have to break out all the 0-3 stuff.

- He can roll most of the way over already. And he can hold his head up for a few minutes at a time. From what I understand, that's pretty darned early.

- Also, if he's put on his stomach at all he'll scoot with his elbows and knees. I lie on the sofa to watch TV with him on my stomach, and before I know it he's up against my chin. He scoots all the way up.

- His cord stump fell off yesterday, so he can now get full baths instead of sponge baths.

Basically, it's kind of freaky how quickly he seems to be developing so far. His appetite has gone way up, he's developed motor skills that I wasn't figuring on seeing for a while, and he's sleeping for longer intervals than I expected. And he's still two weeks from what his due date was supposed to be.

I think at this rate we'll be filling out college applications by the end of the year. Wow.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Last night

Last night was an "errands" night for me. First off, I had to go to the photo shop to get dupes made of a couple of prints that Jane is using as framed gifts for friends. Fine - and when I called them, they told me that if I threw some other ones we wanted to print onto a CD, they could output them for me.

So I burned a disc with a few photos from my Olympus digicam, and went over. Turned out the Kodak photo stations (heavily modified Sparcs) couldn't read an ISO disc with JPEG files on it - only PhotoCD discs. Plus the prints would have cost like $10 each.

So I went over to the nearby Staples, and bought an Epson Stylus Photo 785EPX instead. At the rate we're making prints for friends, I'll be ahead in a few weeks.

Then, after dinner, I went out with Jane's shopping list - we needed batteries (for the monitor), conditioner, cat litter, thank-you cards, and a couple of frames. I started with the mall items and then my last stop was the litter - I get that at the Petsmart in Danvers (we use the silica crystals, and their house brand tracks less than the others and is cheaper to boot).

So I went down 114 into Danvers, and on complete mental autopilot I made my left turn...

Right into the Babies 'R' Us parking lot. About a half a mile short of my actual destination.

I've been spending _way_ too much time there.

After realizing my error, I was able to continue on my way just fine. No further glaring mental lapses followed. So far.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Who needs sleep?

For the record, David Turiel (our new son) weighed in at 5 lb, 15 oz when he was born on 5/24. He was five weeks early (well, four weeks and five days, to be exact). I brought him home from the hospital on 5/28, along with his mother.

Factoids:

-When he was released from the hospital, David had dropped to 5 lb, 5 oz. A normal weight loss - all babies shrink a bit in the first week or so.

-At birth, David was 17.25 inches long. At his first appointment with the pediatrician the following Wednesday, they measured him at 18 inches.

-As of yesterday's visit, he now weighs 6 lb, 1 oz. So he's passed his birth weight and will only rocket upwards from there.

-For the next few weeks, he'll still be wearing the smallest Huggies (newborn size) - Huggies run a little smaller and he's still tiny. We've got a ton of Pampers waiting for him.

-His due date was 6/26. He has his one-month appontment that day, ironically.

-David is on formula part-time (about 50/50). In the week and a half since he's come home, he's gone from 1 oz. at a feeding to 3 oz. per feeding. He'll sleep for about 3-4 hours after that big a feed.

-He's got a very strong grip for a baby his size. Also, from the size of his hands and feet, there is some serious size potential in this baby. Given normal weight gain in utero, he would have likely been around 9 pounds had he gone to term.

I'm writing this in the wee hours immediately after a feeding. I do the late night and early morning, my wife does the middle-of-the night feeding. She went to bed a couple of hours ago. I'm exhausted, needless to say. By the way, it was definitely worth it.

Saturday, May 25, 2002

Speaking of hatching...

We had a hatching of our own to look forward to this June - but it happened early. Yesterday, in fact. Around 1 AM. Mother and son are doing spendidly, and you'd barely know that he's five weeks early.

Entries in this journal may be sparse for a while... She's coming home Tuesday, he will probably be following within a few days of that.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Waiting...

I'm anxiously waiting for Mariah's babies to hatch. They should start peeping any day now.

My mom is obsessed with this, by the way. Worse than me.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

You know what scares the heck out of me?

It's terrifying that "419" scams actually _work_ on people. I've gotten about 3 or 4 of them the last few weeks.

Yeah, I'm really expecting a Nigerian widow/functionary/businessman to contact me out of the blue to help them get money out of their godforsaken hole of a country. Uh-huh.

There are people who actually fall for it. The gene pool's truly starting to get shallow, if I do say so myself.

MacOS 10.2 lust

I, like every other Machead, read the coverage of the WWDC preview of Jaguar, AKA MacOS X 10.2. I'm drooling. My main computer IRL today is a TiBook 667 that I picked up last fall, and it should handle all the new stuff quite nicely (though it doesn't have enough VRAM to be ideal with the new OpenGL accelerated Quartz rendering, 16MB VRAM is still enough to be pretty quick). I really like the new version of Sherlock (it may finally be useful), and all the features for Windows interoperability. As much as Active Directory may be brutal, it's nice that Macs will be able to play nice.

Not to mention that the Finder is finally multi-threaded. About time - that, more than anything else right now, is making MacOS X look slow.

Of course, it'll run great on my G4-based TiBook, but my wife has an old iMac DV 450 - looks like I might finally have a reason to replace it...

Now, if only the rest of the world would drink the Cupertino Kool-Aid with me.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Speaking to a raging controversy

Okay, I'm biting at this one, but from the comfort of my little web soapbox. In the forums at Tech Report, there is a discussion raging about Judaism. That's fine and such, but the question being asked here is "Is Judaism genetic?"

What a bunch of idiots! Religion is a belief system. It's not genetic, no more than being Republican or Democrat is. You are brought up in the traditions, beliefs, and culture of a religion by your family, and are free to accept and reject it. Either which way, there are consequences both good and bad involved.

As for where genetics do legitimately apply, they apply in one small way. Members of a particular ethnic group may have slight genetic variations between themselves and other groups. This is mainly due to selective breeding - within a community the little genetic variations that do crop up become magnified over time. This is, for instance, why some whites are more vulnerable to diseases like cystic fibrosis, some blacks are more likely to get sickle-cell anemia, and some communities of Ashkenazi Jews are more likely to carry Tay-Sachs disease. If Ashkenazi Jews were all there were to the "Jewish people", then there might be a valid case to be made about genetic difference - but even then, not all have those genes.

More importantly, not all "ethnic Jews" are Ashkenazim, just like not all whites look the same or have the same characteristics, and not all blacks, either. There is an incredible array of diversity in the human race - but religion itself is not part of it.

The only impact religion has on humans from a genetic perspective is that people of a certain religion tend to self-select mating partners within that same group. However, the overall genepool is diverse enough that it has minimal (if any) impact in the scheme of things. The likeliest cause of any significant genetic variation in any human group nowadays is physical isolation - like the proverbial Appalachian hillbilly who has "a family tree with one branch". Extreme inbreeding will wreak havoc with any small group - whether they are dogs, racehorses, or humans.

And even in those cases, they can all still interbreed within their species - though a Chihuaha mating with a Great Dane produces a mental image that's comical in the extreme - the two could still produce offspring that would clearly be dogs (if funny-looking ones).

I'm genetically different from my employee in the next cubicle - but we are both recognizably light-skinned males. Nowhere in our genes is there a marker for religion (different for each of us).

The problem is that there's a few Jewish bigots who think that a genetic marker for Judaism is good, because it would justify the Biblical designation as "the Chosen People". And there's a few anti-Semitic bigots who think a genetic marker for Judaism is good because it would enable them to find and eliminate them all.

The truth, folks, is that it's all just a bunch of hogwash, and the only link that exists is when most members of an ethnic group happen to believe the same hogwash together (because it's common to their community). Jews, Gentiles, and bigots of all stripes share the same genes and are members of the same species. The only difference is that some humans are so stupid and/or brainwashed as to be blinded by hate and fear.

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Today's notes...

When I got home today and picked up the mail, here's what I found:

1 package from a Babies 'R' Us, for Jane's baby shower next month (I assume - I'll let her open it).

Issues of IEEE Spectrum, Network World, Infoworld, and Reason.

The Martha's Vineyard Gazette. One can fantasize...

Catalogs from some curtain company and LL Bean. And a card for Jane from some friend of hers.

Credit card bills from Amex and a Mastercard we have. Looks like we've been well-behaved in the last month. The Mastercard bill included "courtesy checks", just in case we wanted cash easy. How thoughtful.

A privacy notice from GMAC. Like they aren't going to just give my name away to all comers. Sheesh.

A solicitation from Capital One for a loan to pay off debt. Oops, other than the aforementioned car and our house we have none.

Three separate solicitations, otherwise identical, for MBNA pre-approved credit cards. The dumbasses don't even realize that we're already customers - I love what crappy CRM software can do for a company.

Basically, we get so much snail-mail spam that I was half scared to carry it all upstairs over the last month while I was restricted from heavy lifting. It's amazing. And you can't just throw away all the solicitations and credit-card checks - identity theft is easy enough without making it easier. Last year we bought a nice cross-cut shredder - all the credit card checks go through it, along with anything overly identifying in a solicitation.

I do something better with the rest of it, though. All the MBNA mail (and anything we get like it) gets identifying information torn out and shredded. Then I carefully tear up the rest of it, along with any extra inserts, and I put it back in the postage-paid envelope and send it off to the junk mailer.

I figure it's a win-win. I only spend a couple of minutes a day, and I get to vent my junkmail rage. The USPS, which has fallen on hard times recently, gets much-needed mail revenue from the junk mailer. And my actions cost the junk mailer money. And to quote Diamond Dallas Page: "That's not a bad thing - that's a Good Thing".

First day golfing tomorrow afternoon. Yippee!

Monday, April 22, 2002

Gibbs update

My blog was mentioned in Mark Gibbs' column about a month ago, and he mentioned that a prize would be forthcoming.

Nothing thus far. Just thought I'd mention that.

Friday, April 19, 2002

Golf season's almost here!

It would have been here already, actually, except I had that pesky umbilical hernia surgery two weeks ago. I had my follow-up appointment today, and the news is this:

- I can be a little more vigorous in my activities now. But not too much more. I can lift around 15-20 pounds at once instead of the 10 I was restricted to, but I should still kind of take that slow for a couple more weeks.

- I can start playing a little bit of golf (did I mention I love golfing?) - working on the short game and such for the next week or two. Then I can start swinging the bigger clubs.

- My navel will continue to look strange for another month or two. But it's healing fast. There's a bulge where the muscles were stitched together, and a couple of pinhole-looking things at the bottom where the scope went in. Boy it was a tiny pair of incisions.

- Unfortunately, I have no excuse to avoid a few of the things around the house I have dreaded. So I will be spending a decent chunk of tomorrow putting up "window treatments" in our second living room (we have two of them - it's a funky house design) and in the baby's room.

Baby's room update: a friend of Jane's painted Winnie-the-Pooh scenes on the wall in the baby's room. It looks great. Unfortunately, I'm sure he won't appreciate it until he's about 20.

Fun story of the week: last night, around midnight, we noticed police bubblegum lights flashing outside our bedroom window, on the side street. I looked out, and there was a car that had been pulled over with a patrolwoman at the car inspecting it, while her partner remained in the police car. A few minutes later, they let the car go and went off back on patrol.

This morning, I noticed a Budweiser box in my backyard. I thought nothing of it (though it's not recycle week), and went to work. When Jane went to work a little later, she noticed it too, and went over to prod the box. It was full of Bud bottles.

Apparently, I'm guessing the folks in the car probably were underage and ditched the case. I pitched it out - though I've been known to drink a beer or ten, I don't like regular Bud too much and lord knows where that case had been.

Come visit my friend Rob and I at the MIT Flea this Sunday!

Sunday, April 14, 2002

Yet another reason the RIAA sucks

Okay. This past Friday, I went and had the Combo Drive upgrade installed in my TiBook (amazingly, the Apple Store in Peabody had an extra when I dropped in there Thursday evening while running errands for my wife - they put it aside for me to pick up the next day). I've burned a couple of things that were waiting to be done - I'd accumulated some burn material over the last couple of months, and my Acomdata external Firewire drive didn't work right with MacOS X 10.1.3 (FYI, I plan to bring it to the MIT Flea next week if anyone is interested - other than the 10.1.3 issue, it's a good drive). So I burned a disc of packet traces I'd taken when I was at one of my sister companies last week (I'll Fedex it to them tomorrow), and then I started thinking about what else I needed to burn.

Then I remembered that I haven't been able to find my copy of "Mink Car" - the most recent TMBG album that I bought last fall. Well, since I'd ripped it right after buying it, I just went and burned myself another copy. Though I'd only encoded the album at 160k, that's fine for car use. So I un-ripped it back to audio format out of iTunes, and I'm going to put it in my car to replace the missing one - which I'm sure is just buried in a pile of junk somewhere here in the house.

Anyhow, the point here is that I went out and legally bought that disc last fall. I own it. I have the right to re-purpose it as I see fit, provided it's for my own use. Keeping a copy in my car is a very legitimate exercise of that right - provided I don't then turn around and give someone else my original (not a problem at the moment, since I can't find the darn original).

They want to take that right away, though - whether by copy-protecting my disc or by criminalizing the behavior. Either way, they want to take my fair use right and remove it.

And that's just wrong, folks. Do something about it. Let your Congresscritters know how you stand on these issues. Support politicians and organizations (like Digital Consumer) that will help you get your views across. Support the EFF - they help defend the groups, companies, and people who are being unfairly targeted by Big Media. Most of all, don't buy music that supports them. there are artists who are coming up with more consumer-friendly ways of doing business. Support them when you find them.

As a side note - the stereo in my car does damn near everything else - it's a shame that it doesn't support direct MP3 playback, too. And as I rip the rest of my album library to iTunes, I need to remember to rip it all at a minimum of 192k. The higher the bitrate, the better it'll sound if I have to un-rip it.

Saturday, April 06, 2002

Ow.

Oof. I'm writing this little update note on a Saturday afternoon because I need to take it slow for a couple more days. I had an umbilical hernia repaired yesterday, which actually went very well, but it's kind of sore.

But hey - the bright side is that Percosets can be fun, especially when you take one every six hours like instructed. As a result, today is officially "lounge around in my bathrobe day".

Better to have dealt with it now than to either interrupt golf season or do it after the baby's born, I figure.

Monday, March 18, 2002

I told you this was boring!

If you're reading this because Mark Gibbs mentioned it in his column today, I meant it. I, like most bloggers, just write my blog for friends and family to read, and only because the space is free and easy to administer. When I ran a blog precursor on my own website (about 5 years ago), I eventually stopped writing it because updating the page and all the links that went with it was a pain in the kiester.

Blogs are fun, but generally meaningless. If you're interested in what someone has to say, they're a neat way to get a little insight into them (lord knows what people who read mine think), and an occasionally entertaining diversion. Que sera, sera.

By the way, I didn't know Mark was giving away any prizes (I'll update this when I get whatever it is). I just responded to him because I like the column and thought a comment was in order.

Catch-22 (the joys of site certificates)

I tried to renew my company's main SSL cert recently. The one that secures our intranet site. When I registered it 2 years ago, I was the admin and technical contact. It seemed obvious, as I was the one who managed the domain and both built and ran the server.

In the meantime, the CA had changed their policies, apparently. They now require separate people in those roles. So when I tried to renew, they bounced it, because our application lists me in both roles.

The problem, as I see it, is that they already accepted me once, the schmucks. I could give them two contacts, but that's defeating the point of me being the admin, now, isn't it?

So meanwhile the discussion is heating up, the deadline for the cert is approaching, and odds are I'm going to be finding a new CA for my SSL certificate. This sucks.

On a brighter note, I actually felt our baby moving last night. Wow.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

My Apple comment du jour

Five years ago (nearly), I wrote a little piece for my since-deprecated rant pages that threatened doom and gloom for Apple based on their apparent decision to kill the cloning business that had sprung up under the previous regime. I actually had a few very animated e-mails pass back and forth between Steve Jobs and myself over the topic (once upon a time, I had a very tiny bit of juice in the Mac biz). Needless to say, he won the argument - it was his company to run, after all. I predicted that Apple would fizzle out to nothingness as people like me replaced Macs with Windows NT boxes.

Oops.

Well, I got one part right. I did replace Macs with NT, but it was because I went to another company that had never seen a Mac before. All we had was Windows. No biggie. What did I get wrong?

Well, I made a big mistake. I forgot the passion that Apple owners have for their machines (well, I didn't forget it, but I discounted it). I forgot about the installed base of everyday users - not the corporate types and power users who went to the cloners. But most importantly, I forgot about the Apple X factor - Jobs himself. The guy just has a knack for producing boxes that capture the imagination of users.

Just when it looked darkest for Apple, as they looked like they would be resting on the ho-hum beige G3 towers that weren't even as nice as the aborted G3-based clones, Apple brought the iMac out of nowhere (a Jobs skunkwork project) and hit a home run. And Apple went from being a lame PC company to a superstar of industrial design and the trendsetter of the PC industry (in a return engagement).

Since then, they have kept the press fawning over the comeback story, and product after product has emerged to acclaim and sales success. They did have some missteps - the polka-dot iMac was lame, and they kept the second generation model around a little long, the Cube was a fiasco, and they are having all sorts of trouble getting fast enough chips built by Motorola, but they are out of the wilderness and making money again. Even Slashdot now covers Apple news (at apple.slashdot.org), and OS X is getting props from all over.

Go figure. No pundit is perfect, especially not amateur ones like me.

In other news, we now have our baby registry on-line through babiesrus.com (Amazon, actually - it's a fulfillment deal). Just over three months to go!

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Rhinoviruses suck

Granted, this is a no-brainer. But I am currently in the thrall of one (day 3) and quite annoyed by it. I suspect that rhinoviruses are a conspiracy led by the tissue companies.

However, I did not get it as badly as my wife did when she had it last week. As much as this cold is bugging me, it's a lot tougher on a woman who is late in her second trimester. Pregnancy seems to supress the immune system enough that colds have a nastier impact while they last.

So I'll write more stuff in this journal in a few days once my head is out of the rhinovirus fog...

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Another reason why the RIAA sucks...

In the news today, the RIAA is blaming music piracy for their decline in sales. My comment is below:

Bull$#!+

The reason their sales are down are myriad. First of all, most of the new music today sucks. Consumers are starting to realize that the process is broken, and that most music showing up nowadays is overpromoted derivative crap. There is no current overwhelming musical trend, the way grunge, for instance, was huge in the early '90s, or boy bands and barely post-pubescent girls were in the latter part of the decade. Most "artists" now are overproduced and overmanaged, and it shows in the diminished quality of the material. Consumers are finally waking up to it some.

The other huge factor in the decline of sales... Hmmm... Might it be... a recession? Perhaps?

When people have less money (or perceive that times are tougher), they will spend less on certain luxuries. CD's are a luxury. There is more competition for the diminished dollar, and so I refer you to the first part of my rant above. When the music sucks and people have less money to buy it with, they're going to pass up on music in favor of other pursuits.

What music there is is horribly overpriced. In the late '80s, before the shift to CD was complete, most vinyl albums still cost well under $10. CDs were newer technology, and so the price point got set higher - most people could tell there was a difference in quality and so they put up with the higher price. There's no excuse left now, though - it costs less to manufacture, store, and ship a CD in real dollars than it ever did to handle LPs. Factoring in inflation, there is no reason a CD should ever cost more than about $12 to the end purchaser. The only excuse is greed.

As for me, I bought five CD's last year (TMBG, a couple of Lyle Lovett discs, an old Hank Williams disc, and Springsteen's live album). My wife bought two (U2 and something else). I downloaded a couple of dozen songs - most of which I already owned on old vinyl and a couple of which were "pirated" singles. I also ripped all my CD's into iTunes, threw it on a server in the house, and now I can stream my jukebox to any room I want at home, which is neat.

Okay - I've fessed up. I have, among other things, a downloaded copy of Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" (what can I say - she annoys me but I can't get that damned song out of my head!). Put the cuffs on. But seriously, I offer my tiny, relatively weak voice to the din in the vain hope that someday a record company exec will read this and have an epiphany:

If you (the RIAA and it's member companies) continue on your present path of being as consumer-unfriendly as possible, I will eventually be pirating all my music. Just to spite you. I can afford to buy it but I won't because you suck.

But if you do the Right Thing, lower prices (hell - just stop raising them!), stop putting out the same old drivel, and make it easy and inexpensive for me to buy music, I will buy a lot more of it. That small portion of your profits that can be attributed to me will go up. A lot.

Which is no big deal by itself, but I'm pretty sure that I'm far from the only person who feels this way.

Olympic thoughts...

A couple of semi-random thoughts on the just-concluded Winter Olympics:

- My wife forced me to watch the womens' figure skating final. That said, Sarah Hughes's performance was absolutely spectacular. I have never seen a better figure skating program (not that I'm an expert). I'm still not convinced that you can call it a sport, but it was brilliant.

- My new favorite sport is curling. I can't tell how you play it, but it looks like a cross between shuffleboard, hockey, candlepin bowling, and janitorial work - so it must be fun. Plus, the players all look like they go out for a smoke and a beer between turns.

- My other new favorite sport is skeleton. Now I know where all the daredevils who used to belly flop down hills on their Flexible Flyers went. The bonus factor is that the women's winner had the wildest-colored hair I've ever seen in a major sports competition.

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Goodbye, AT&T...

Yesterday I received my DirecTVDSL gateway box in the mail. My homenet has been running on AT&T Broadband's cable network since last April, when my DSL provider (XO) discontinued service as a result of Northpoint's shutting down. It was ironic, since I'd switched to XO when Flashcom went down before them.

Cable Internet service was fast - faster than my DSL is today or was before. But cable systems are designed for those who want to passively consume - not those who want to produce. Though what I produce may well be drivel, it's still not what AT&T has in mind.

Way back when, of course,, this wasn't a problem. AT&T Broadband in New England started out as Continental Cablevision HighwayOne - one of the first cable ISP companies. Their AUP essentially was "don't run a business off this, do no harm, and keep your systems secure". Then it became MediaOne, which after rollouts and system swaps in the Boston area wound up getting my town right around the same time TimeWarner decided to start rolling out RoadRunner internet service. Following this?

Anyhow, my town's TimeWarner became MediaOne which became At&T Broadband (but still using mediaone.net to identify this little backwater of the network). But between the reorg of the network that went along with @home's demise, and the forthcoming Comcast takeover, I can see the handwriting on the wall for cable's suck factor to increase exponentially.

So I went DSL shopping (Salem's always been good in that area), and settled on DirecTVDSL (the former Telocity). I ordered service on February 1st. Yesterday (the 12th), I got the gateway and took it home. 20 minutes later I had my network up and moved over - it would have been about 15 except I fatfingered the subnet mask when I reprogrammed my Netopia, and it took me a minute to realize it.

And to make things even better, not only does DirecTV have the kind of "lassez-faire" AUP that I remember from the Good Old Days, but they even tell you how to set up your own domain and cheerfully offer you an option on their customer pages to either point it at their pages (they offer the standard 10MB of free webspace) or point it at your STATIC IP! Woo-hoo!

So anyhow, I'm surfing and serving a little slower (I get about 800/160 ADSL, the speed tests are indicating), but I can feel the freedom in the air.

And Comcast won't be snarfing my packets once they Borg AT&T!

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

No-brainer

I think it's time to cut a deal in the interests of national security. To heck with the Middle East (and especially the Saudis).

What we ought to do is cut deals with the Russians. Become their largest customer, and supply most of our imported oil needs through them. Everyone wins. The Russians get the hard currency needed to continue modernizing their economy, we get a stable trading partner and the resources we need, and the Saudis get screwed.

Also worth noting in such a deal is that a close trading relationship with the Russians helps reduce conflict by binding our economies closer together. Tom Friedman had an interesting point in his book "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" (a terrific read). He postulated that no country with a McDonald's had ever gone to war with another nation with a McDonald's (though this may have been broken in Kosovo, depending on if you count that as a war or not). Commerce binds nations together to a degree that politics cannot easily overcome.

Monday, February 04, 2002

Feeling good today!

mentioned previously how I'm a wrestling fan. Well, I also like real sports, too - I ran track in high school, raced bicycles (road, not BMX - you know, wearing the funny outfits), I used to go rock climbing and I played a little rugby at college when we started up a club team. I golf and bowl (candlepins - the little ones) nowadays, along with a little bike riding. A lot of tech people aren't much for sports - I really enjoy them.

With that in mind, I also enjoy watching football and baseball - I like to go to games and I like them on TV, too. I root for the Red Sox (though I grew up in New York, I hate the friggin' Yankees), and I'm a Pats fan. I think frustration appeals to me - I still cheer for one New York team - the Rangers (who went over 50 years between Stanley Cups).

Accordingly, I have one thing to say about last night's events - Woo-hoo!

Sports are not the most important thing in the world, they're a nice diversion from reality and they can be fun to participate in. But there's a certain nice feeling that a community shares when their team is a winner - it's a competition between cities on a large and non-violent level and it feels good to finally be the winner. In olden days these battles would be fought with knights and catapults, now they're fought by football players. Yay Pats!

Now if only the new Sox owners can fire that idiot Duquette...

Go figure

The other day I was talking with a couple of my co-workers about how the perfect name for a dot-com nowadays would be "e-vulture.com". I decided to look it up.

It's been registered and is being held by domaincollecions.com - for sale to the highest bidder. I think that says a lot.

Monday, January 28, 2002

Expounding on a recent poll comment I made

Yes, dang it - I am a wrestling fan. In it's own way, that's even geekier than being a sci-fi watcher (I'm 35 - for me, Trek ended with Classic, and I haven't seen a sci-fi film that was truly worthwhile since Buckaroo Banzai). I grew up watching Ric Flair, Superfly Jimmy Snuka, Andre the Giant, and Chief Jay Strongbow. Jesse Ventura. George (The Animal) Steele. I remember Rocky Johnson before his son out-famoused him (Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock). Wrestling was different back then. You had clear-cut villains, heroic babyfaces, no complex storylines beyond the personal feuds that each story was told by, and champions who held the belts for years.

I watched it on the New York independent stations (WWOR and WPIX) back when I was a kid, and I watched it some during high school. When I left for college in the mid-1980's, though, pro wrestling was one of the things I left behind me. I missed the "rock and wrestling" days, I only saw Captain Lou Albano when he cavorted with Cyndi Lauper on MTV (did she suck last year at the Boston Pops July 4th concert or what?), and I missed most of the whole Hulkamania phenomenon. I was also MIA (busy with trying to establish a career and with a relatively young marriage) when Ted Turner bought a promotion and transformed it into the WCW, then going out and buying all the WWF's biggest names away from them. I was on the sidelines when the "sport" started changing from the competition. I missed the debut of Stone Cold, "Attitude", and the rise of "tweeners" like Triple H.

In late 1999, I happened to channel-surf to Channel 38 (the local UPN affiliate) one Thursday night. Never could stand "Friends". By chance, this was just a few months after "SmackDown!" began airing on the network. I watched it, and it was fascinating. This wasn't the wrestling I remembered. The moves were a lot faster, the ringside pyro was brighter and louder, the soap-opera plots had gotten more histrionic, and battles were spilling out into the audience. The plot twist I tuned in for that first day was the "marriage" of the owner's daughter (Stephanie McMahon) to the aforementioned Triple H ("Hunter Hearst Helmsley", in real life a gym manager from Nashua named Paul Levesque), the biggest heel in the Federation. I kept watching through the relevation the next month that the marriage wasn't a trick by Hunter - it was actually an evil plot by Stephanie to wrest control of the WWF away from her dad, revealed when she turned on him at the pay-per-view that month. Okay, it was hokey trash, but I was hooked again.

Since then, I've seen the rise of new stars (Kurt Angle, a real 1996 Olympic gold medalist, is particularly amazing to watch), the return of old ones (Flair is back! Whooo!), storylines that have been fascinating, storylines that sucked (the whole WCW invasion), characters go from heel to face and back again at a dizzying clip, and I've even gone to their live show (a SmackDown! taping in Boston last July). My wife has become a fan. It turns out that some of my friends (all technology professionals of some sort or another) were closet wrestling fans, too - one even collects them on his Tivo so he doesn't have to miss a show.

Why do I, a upper-middle-class professional person in his mid 30's with a wife and a (soon to be) family watch this mindless trash? For exactly that reason. It's escapist fun, nothing that happens on the show means anything in real life, and the performers are out there pulling off amazing stunts and violent activities that would leave you and I in traction, but they are skilled enough performers to make it look far worse than the harm they actually do one another. I can turn off my brain, watch the show, and not worry about the logic behind any of it. In the world we live in today, it's especially nice to be able to have a world like this that I can spend a little time in - a place where the good guys eventually win, the bad guys generally get their comeuppance, and nobody gets hurt for real.

And what fault can one find with that?

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Tech support ramblings...

Dell support sucks. Period. I've been trying to get a laptop at work fixed definitively for about two months now. We started with a laptop that had broken latches, a loose hinge, and PC Card slot doors that had fallen off. Our Top Gun Developer Guy is brilliant, but he abuses his machines horribly.

No problem - Dell is willing to fix things for free. Yay! So they send out a technician, after drop-shipping us a replacement screen (apparently it's not worth their while to just replace the latch. Whatever.). He shows up, replaces the screen, now the new screen doesn't work at all - all we see is backlighting.

This is not good. The tech calls Dell, and finds that now screen modules are backordered. So we go from a working, battered laptop to a dead laptop. Three weeks later, the replacement replacement arrives. The tech returns and installs it, all is now good. Right?

He forgot to take care of the PC Card doors, and he neglects to but the screwcovers on the new screen. It's also a little misaligned. So for the last three weeks I've been trying to get Dell back. So far no luck.

Dell's not the only company with issues, though. We have mainly bought Gateway systems over the last year or so (mainly because of Dell's ongoing support problems), and they were great until we bought a pair of Solo 9500 laptops. Both laptops have issues with random keyboard/mouse freezes when plugged into their docking stations. We bought these for Developer Guy and myself. When it happened to me, I could close the lid to sleep the laptop - I'd get the keyboard/mouse back when I then re-opened the lid to wake it.

Developer Guy can't do that - he uses Windows 2000 Server as the base OS on his laptop, which does not suspend. So we tried Gateway support with no success, tried the latest BIOS, brought the local SE in to help debug it, no luck. Finally, Developer Guy came up with a fix - he now uses a USB keyboard/mouse (with legacy support turned on in the BIOS), and that works for him. No PS/2 port splitting to deal with that way.

I, however, am determined to get this fixed right, so I spend oodles of time on the phone with the senior support folks. Finally, they make plans to have me send in the laptop/dock for testing. I grab a spare desktop PC, move my data over to the new one, and prepare for the promised contact for shipping materials and info...

Which never comes.

You know, it's real frustrating when tech support is this bad. Now I have to waste time chasing two vendors instead of one, and I'll be wasting more of the vendor's time trying to chase them than they would be wasting if they just did things Right to begin with.

Grumble.

Monday, January 07, 2002

OK, now what?

The new iMac. I have no use for one. I already own 1 Mac (I have a TiBook 667) myself, and my wife has an iMac DV-450, which is fine for her. My TiBook is almost as fast as the new iMacs, it has a bigger screen, and unlike the iMac, it runs on batteries. I have a CD burner I use with it (I bought mine before they made the Combo drive standard), so I can do anything they can do with the lower two models - I just can't write DVD discs. Big deal, right?

Unfortunately, Apple excels at the "gotta have" factor. They make computers that you look at and just want. Regardless of needs. Regardless of reason. You just want them. So I'll probably start trying to sell my wife soon on the idea. It'll take me about a year, and they'll come out with something even cooler the day after I buy it.

Rats.

What I'd really like to see, though, is what Apple comes up with over the next month or so. Obviously, they didn't unveil the new Pro Macs for a reason. What that reason was, I really wonder about - and it makes me think even more about where the Pro systems are headed. For their own sake, they'd better follow thru with something worthwhile, and soon.
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