Sunday, December 30, 2007

RIAA Goes Over the Edge

Everyone knows that the RIAA is run by lunatics, but this proves it beyond all reasonable doubt. The right of the owner of copyrighted material to make copies for their own personal use as well as sell their purchased copy to someone else, is well-established law. The RIAA and MPAA have tried unsuccessfully for decades to change things. Now they are using blatant extortion to accomplish what they couldn't in a courtroom. I think it is time for some RIAA smack-down. With the online file-sharing, they at least had sort of a legal leg to stand on. Now they are just proving what many have been saying all along: they are no more than thugs and should be treated as such.

The wording of the article was misleading: the RIAA was going after this guy because he was making the tracks available for download. There are still problems with that, but they are different issues than the original article raised. Still, the RIAA referred to copies of CD's I own on my computer and iPod as "unauthorized." Steaming pile of horse hockey.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It Begins

This should be interesting....

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Photos, Photos, and More Photos

I finally got off my butt and cleaned off the camera and uploaded them to Flickr:

Last bunch of photos from Arcosanti
Moving and unpacking into our new apartment
Pictures of me with some of our Michigan family
Our latest visit to the Ethel M chocolate factory
Photos from the drive back from Vegas
More Prescott photos
Christmas day photos

Well, I can smell ham. Later.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to All!

Ric and I went downtown last night with the camera and tripod to get some pictures around the courthouse square. I hope Ric will have them downloaded and posted by the end of this week. (I'm also hoping some of them turned out --- it looked like in on the small preview screen)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lazy Day

We are taking today completely off. We haven't even bothered with getting dressed as of 3:30pm, with the likelihood that we will becoming smaller as the minutes tick by. I'm caught up with my reading at this point, so I'm doing some catching up here. I'm going to try to get photo's cleaned up and posted and a mass Christmas e-mail to everyone in my mailing list. So if you read this and don't get an e-mail from me in the next couple days, I don't have a current address for you.

Anyway, all this typing is making me tired.

P.S. I've been informed that a story I linked to most likely is not true. As I said in the comments to that post, the fact that the story was believable says a great deal about the people we have chosen to turn our children over to.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Last night, we went out for dinner after I picked up Debbie at work. As we were pulling out of the parking lot, I could hear a high-pitched whistle. I quickly checked the car's gauges. The whistle stopped. Wait! There it is again! Leaking tire? I quickly glance around the interior of the vehicle trying to get a directional. I happened to catch Debbie's eye. She cracks up laughing. Then I realized why I was having such a hard time figuring out where that confounded whistle was coming from and why it kept starting and stopping.

I had a snot whistle.


Global Warming? Brrrrrrr!

Record cold all over the world. Due to global warming, of course:
Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri are just emerging from a destructive ice storm that left at least 36 people dead and a million without electric power. People worldwide are being reminded of what used to be common sense: Cold temperatures are inimical to human welfare and warm weather is beneficial. Left in the dark and cold, Oklahomans rushed out to buy electric generators powered by gasoline, not solar cells. No one seemed particularly concerned about the welfare of polar bears, penguins or walruses. Fossil fuels don't seem so awful when you're in the cold and dark.

If you think any of the preceding facts can falsify global warming, you're hopelessly naive. Nothing creates cognitive dissonance in the mind of a true believer. In 2005, a Canadian Greenpeace representative explained “global warming can mean colder, it can mean drier, it can mean wetter.” In other words, all weather variations are evidence for global warming. I can't make this stuff up.

Global warming has long since passed from scientific hypothesis to the realm of pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo.

Genius or Insanity?

This guy is either really smart or really stupid. Of course, those two categories are not mutually exclusive....

Now We Are Safe

We can all breath easy now; a high school junior has been punished for using Firefox instead of IE. The Rules Must Be Obeyed. Even when they make absolutely no sense. If the school has an IE-only policy (which it is perfectly free to do), then why is Firefox installed on a school PC? Stupidity combined with gross incompetence.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Almost Not Funny

The comic Non Sequitur is almost hitting too close to the mark with the latest series: Part 1; Part 2.

Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia's latest column covers a lot of ground, most of it important. Agree or disagree, we need to think about these things. We are provably not.

How to Stop Global Warming

Paint everything white. Keep the sun off the blacktop. All for the price of a global climate conference, and without destroying the economy of Western Civilization. So of course, it won't even be considered.


Our masters tell us this isn't racism. Blacks are incapable of racism because they are an oppressed minority. We are on a road. It's destination is known, and it isn't pleasant for anyone, black or white. Yet we continue.

Disappearing Doors

Finally, someone has made a substantive change to how users interact with their automobiles. This is so sweet.

Sifting and Sorting

Sorry for the long gap in posting. It's been a crazy month so far. Most of what I've been doing has been posted here, but just a quick review:

November 30th - Last day working in the Arcosanti foundry.
December 1st - move and clean out our room at Arcosanti in the rain while wading through mud.
December 2nd - unpack everything moved yesterday.
December 3rd - repack for trip to Michigan.
December 4th - Fly to Michigan.
December 5th & 6th - run around with parents visiting.
December 7th - pick up truck, get it stuck in my parents driveway, load it, drive as far down our old road as I could, then wade through snow up to my knees to our cabin to grab last minute stuff, put that in the truck, then drive the truck as far as Kalkaska.
December 8th - Meet my copilot at breakfast, drive to Burt, load the truck, then drive to somewhere in Indiana. Rain starts.
December 9th - Melt ice off truck windows, then drive to somewhere in Missouri. Continuous rain.
December 10th - Melt ice off truck windows, then drive to somewhere in Texas. Continuous freezing rain. The governor of Oklahoma celebrates our drive through his state by declaring it a disaster area.
December 11th - See the sun for the first time since leaving Michigan. Arrive in Prescott around 9pm.
December 12th - unload everything and return the truck. Drive back to apartment and stare helplessly at mountain of plastic bins.
December 13th - start unpacking.
December 14th - take copilot and Debbie's mom on tour of Arcosanti and Jerome.
December 15th - drive copilot and Debbie's mom to the Las Vegas airport for flight back to Michigan.
December 16th - drive back to Prescott and poke around in a few more plastic bins.
December 17th - start hard core unpacking and finding a place for things (the dumpster seems to be the easiest...).
December 18th - realize that we haven't done any grocery shopping since sometime in November. Spend entire morning shoving old ladies into the soup cans while I try to get the shopping done. Spend entire afternoon working through the mountain of laundry that has piled up while having all that fun for the last 17 days.

Thanks to everyone that helped, otherwise, I would still be somewhere in Oklahoma. At this point, we can see some of the floor in each room. No part of the apartment can be considered "done," but a couple are getting close. I have a ton of pictures that have been piling up on the camera that I absolutely must get downloaded, cleaned up, and loaded onto Flickr. I'll try for tomorrow, but no promises.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

He's here!

Ric and Richard pulled into the apartment parking place around 9pm ish. We able to get a nice room down a couple blocks from us at the Mile High Motel for a reasonable rate. It is good size with a kitchen(ette) and living room and sunken bedroom. They will have tomorrow and most of Thurs to unpack the Penske truck. Then Thurs night my Mom arrives and we get to play tourist for the rest of the weekend.

Almost here!

Ric is about 40 miles outside of Prescott as I type this. They should be pulling in here in about an hour or so. He said they really didn't see all the snow they said hit Flagstaff. It either melted really fast or they exaggerated the amount.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Well....they are almost here. Today roads were wet with salt on them and the truck iced up while driving. They had slight problems finding fuel -- some places were without power! They ended up stopping for the night in Shamrock Texas. They are staying at the same hotel Ric and I stayed at on our drive here last year. Depending on the traffic and roads, they hope to get to at least Flagstaff AZ tomorrow night.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Ric and Richard made it just short of Springfield MO tonite. Ric said the trees were encased in ice, but the highway was fine. After they did dinner and headed back to their hotel -- the truck was getting iced. It should be fun in the morning. They are going to try to push it and get into Arizona -- or at least New Mexico before they stop for the night tomorrow night. It will all depend on what the weather and roads are like.


I just called Ric to see what weather mess he was in. This morning they almost fell on their butts getting out to the truck -- but the roads were already salted down and they didn't have much of a problem. They are right now crossing thru Illinois -- green grass and only raining now. I warned him about the icy/snow mix in his path until sometime Tuesday. I also mentioned the inch of ice in Oklahoma --- so, they are warned and will take it easy if they get in the middle of the icy mess.

Scrambled eggs?

This week I bought some eggs for the first time in over a year. I was planning on scrambled eggs and ham for breakfast. I went to get things ready this morning and ...... no frying pan yet! I guess I have to wait until after we unpack our kitchen things coming from Michigan.

We got some snow overnite here --- just a dusting. Looks like the next couple days are forecasting snow mix here also. In Prescott we are at about 5000 elevation -- at Arcosanti we were at about 3500.

Icy conditions

Oh Great! Looking at the national weather spots on the internet --- the guys are in for a few BAD days of driving. They may have to rethink their travel plans and get south faster somehow and then cut across. The icy conditions are showing in the sections they are in today. I will post an update from Ric whenever he calls. Keep the prayers going for safe travels.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ric left MI

Ric just called for the night. They made good time with loading things at my Mom's, so they decided to get some miles under their belts tonite. They ended up just outside Ft Wayne IN for the night. He said the truck is pretty new (only about 17,000 miles) and rides good. It was just starting to rain when we were talking, he hopes they won't have to deal with ice in the morning.


No, not here (well, maybe in the higher elevations this weekend) -- but back in northern Michigan. Ric had fun with the big Penske truck yesterday. His parents place had about 2 feet of snow on the ground when he arrived Tues night and more coming each day. They dug out a spot to park the Penske truck for Friday so they could get our stuff loaded into it. Well...somehow they got stuck in the road when they first got there Friday morning. They had to dig it out and finally got it off the road. They got our stuff all loaded and then he had to get that truck up the "big hill" just past Don/Shirley's driveway. Ric ended up backing down the road and then gunned it (to about 50mph), past Don/Shirley in the driveway and gunned and fishtailed his way up the hill. He made it! Must of been fun (ha!) fishtailing a 20ft? truck partially loaded up a hill at 50mph! I'm glad he made it and didn't turn the thing over. They took it into Kalkaska to park it for the night at Richard and Sally's (not as much snow in Kalkaska) and better roads. Then up early this am to meet the seniors for breakfast at 7am and off Ric and Richard are to my Mom's house. Much more loading there with help of a brother or two and some nieces and maybe nephew. Then Sunday it is time to hit the road for the long drive to Prescott. Hoping and praying for decent weather on their way here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Home Alone

I made it thru my first night alone in our new apartment. (Of course, the bathroom light was on to help!) I kinda felt like a lost puppy dog at first --- I got home from a day of training down in Phoenix -- and kinda wandered around the apartment. I already was missing Ric being here.

He had an interesting day of flying --- his flight from Phoenix was delayed due to crew. Of course, I was in training with no cell phone reception. I got his message on break and had to call another agent to do some checking for me and protect him on the next flight out of Detroit to Traverse. I think I am the only one in the office that can think outside the box. She wasn't too sure of what I was trying to have her do. I finally had to spell it out very specifically and hope she did it right since I had to get back to class. Ric and I played phone tag with messages all day. He did end up making the connection in Detroit --- doing the OJ run from gate 6 to gate 75! He had 10 minutes to spare til they closed the doors.

Tonite I had plans of taking care of some Visa statements and filing. Didn't happen! Instead, I got to play around with signing up for cruise360 seminars and such for March 2008. I just got the okay from work today that they will pick up the registration cost, airline ticket, and hotel! Wow---I love to work at AAA! I had that mostly worked out -- without double booking myself -- when I got a phone call. A great friend from Michigan called --- her first words to me were -- I hugged your husband tonite. I knew just who it was (and not just because I have caller ID on my cell) We had a great talk about her trip to NC. Unfortunately, my cell phone died after 30 odd minutes. Shortly after, Ric called --- but that had to be really short since the battery had only been charging for a few minutes.


This was sent to me by another misplaced Michigan lady that was in Bible study when we all were back in Michigan. I thought I would pass it on to all that read this blog.


A young man was getting ready to graduate from college.
For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in
a dealer's showroom, and knowing his father could well
afford it, he told him that was all he wanted. As Graduation
Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father
had purchased the car.

Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called
him into his private study. His father told him how proud he
was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved
him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box.

Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened
the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young
man's name embossed in gold. Angrily, he raised his voice to his
father and said, "With all your money you give me a Bible?
And stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in
business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but
realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should
go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day.

Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram
telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his
possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately
and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father's house, sudden sadness and
regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father's
important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left
it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn
the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse,
Matt 7:11, "And if ye, being evil know how to give good gifts to
your children, how much more shall your Heavenly father which
is in heaven, give to those who ask Him?"

As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the
Bible. It had a tag with the dealer's name, the same dealer who
had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of
his graduation, and the words...PAID IN FULL.

How many times do we miss God's blessings because they are
not packaged as we expected?

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Future of Vegas...

... according to Scott Adams:
The casinos lose a lot of money waiting for the portly gamblers with respiratory issues to waddle from the ATM to the slot machines. A better solution would be for the losers, euphemistically called “players,” to stand at the ATM and watch their funds be transferred to the hotel, while hoping to somehow “win.” The ATM could be redesigned to blink and make exciting sounds, so it seems less like robbery.
That's pretty much what "Loss" Vegas is.


Need a hobby? All you need is a flashlight, video camera, and a lot of time:

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It's Official

As of about ten minutes ago, we are officially moved into our new apartment: I replaced the shower head provided by the landlord with our own personal shower head. That's how we know that we are "moved in." The first thing we do in a new place is put it up, the last thing we do when we move out is take it down.

Of course, because we spent all day yesterday moving the rest of our stuff out of Arcosanti, the weather decided to bless us with two days of non-stop rain. We grabbed a few things Friday night and spent the night in Prescott. When we got back to Arcosanti Saturday morning, we were greeted by a sea of mud littered with stuck vehicles. All the buildings leak, which says a lot about the brilliant architects and engineers that designed and built the place. It also makes it fun to try to clean an apartment up while water is running down the walls and dripping from the ceiling. By the end of Saturday, we were wet, cold and muddy, but we were done.

Now we get to spend the day trying to find places for everything and getting me ready for the Big Drive of 2007. I'll be seeing some of you Michiganders in a couple days!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Another Arcosanti Mention

It's weird how many references to Arcosanti seem to pop up in random places. I was reading an article in the current issue of Wired (15.12) about Adeo Ressi when this little tidbit caught my eye:
While other New York City kids went to summer camp, Ressi begged his parents to send him to Arcosanti, an experimental city being built in the Arizona desert. (He spent four summers as the commune's youngest working resident, which meant cleaning a lot of sewage pipes.)
The article doesn't seem to be on Wired's web site yet, but they do have this.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Of course......

This weekend we are moving the rest of our stuff from Arcosanti to the new apartment in Prescott and then Ric flys out Tuesday to Michigan to pick up the rest of our stored stuff to drive out here.

And of course, I am getting sick and it is snowing like crazy in Michigan near our cabin! Ric's parents were able to get what we wanted from the cabin piece by piece and take to their bunkhouse. (Thanks!) Hopefully when Ric picks up the Penske truck on Friday he will be able to get into his parents to get that stuff loaded.

Any of my family that hasn't read emails lately --- if you have B type blood -- we need you! If anybody else has B type blood in the Michigan area and would like to be tested for a possible donor match (kidney) -- let us know. I wish now I wasn't A+, so I could see if I could help out my cousin.

New Photos

I finally had a few minutes to get all the photos built up on the camera the last few weeks up on Flickr. We have Moonrise, our first Artsy purchase, Petrified Forest, Disneyland, and a blurry shot of an Arizona Snowman (I hope to get back and take a better shot).

Well, Mickey's big hand says it is way past bed time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Living in Two Places

The last few days have been... um... interesting. Whatever we need is always at the other place. If we are at the new apartment, there is always something we go looking for only to realize that it is at Arcosanti, and of course the reverse as well.

The good part is that it's only for the next 48 hours, then we will be permanently at the apartment. Not that I will have much time to enjoy it. I fly out for Michigan on Tuesday, December 4, pick up the moving truck on Friday morning, load whatever we can get out of the cabin through the snow that day, then head for Birch Run bright and early Saturday. If everything goes as planned and I have some help, the rest will be in the truck by Saturday afternoon. I may hit the road and see if I can get out of Michigan before stopping for the day, or may just stay in Birch Run Saturday night and head out Sunday very AM.

I should be back here with the truck in time to spend a day unloading it, then Debbie's mom will be here for a day, then we drive her up to Vegas to catch her flight home, and then I will get to sit in our new apartment for a day or two, then hit the bricks looking for a job. With any luck, the library will be hiring, which I can walk to in about 5 minutes. If not the library, then I'm sure I can find something that is walking or biking distance. It's not like I have to worry about not matching my current pay rate or anything.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Paging Gene Roddenberry

We seem to get closer every day:
For example, according to Summit, battleships and aircraft carriers now make extensive use of selective laser sintering (SLS) printers, which can "print out" materials like titanium, cobalt chromium and polyamide, to fabricate spare parts on the spot instead of carrying huge warehouses full of replacements.
How many years before they are building the entire ship?

Of course, easier manufacture creates problems as well as benefits.

Sometimes I Really Wonder....

It must be something in the water. I realize part of the impact is having several unrelated cases of utter stupidity lumped together. But still, if it's that easy to do that, how much else is going on that isn't hitting the national media? Ye flippin' gods.

Rockin' At 3Mb

I'm posting this from my own 3Mb Cable One connection instead of dufus "Sam". Of course, Cable One, being really customer friendly, sets up their WiFi cable modem wide open with no instructions on how to secure it. Ah well. At least it worked first try, and is looking really good so far.

Woo Hoo!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Posting from our New Place

I'm posting this over some dufus's WiFi connection that he is running unsecured. We will have our own connection tomorrow AM through Cable One. It's only a 3mb connection, but it's all ours. None of this "you have a 10mb, but oh yea; you will be sharing that with everyone on your block" like some other cable companies. It's also about half the price. In the meantime, "Sam" is sharing his bandwidth with me. Thanks "Sam"!!

Gotta love it....

We picked up a reclining love seat today at a second-hand shop, which makes it very easy to use our laptop as an actual laptop. We were going to drag our queen sleeper out here, but decided it was just too heavy. It's going to be bad enough trying to get our dining room table in here, so the queen sleeper stays in the cabin in Michigan.

Well, I should let "Sam" have his bandwidth back and get my butt to work unpacking and putting away.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Stupids Have Guns

It's that time of year again. I love the suggestion in one comment: "I know we can’t use literacy tests anymore for voter registration; but, would it be too much to ask for some form of intelligence test before issueing [sic] a hunting license?" Unfortunately, the answer is "No" for the same reason in both cases: literacy and IQ tests are viewed as racist by blacks. Nuff said.

Ubuntu Fix

I've fixed all my Ubuntu problems today in about an hour. I reinstalled Windows XP. There is probably a lesson in all this; one I'm sure I will forget completely the next time a hot new Linux variant comes out that is just as good as Windows, except when it isn't, which will be pretty much everything a normal person would want to do on a computer.

Now to reinstall everything. The fun never ends. Someday in the distant future, I may actually use my computer as a tool rather than having all my free time sucked up in care and feeding....

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Contempt of court is a crime in this country. But if the courts and judges act in a contemptible manner, isn't contempt the proper response? This is nothing less than an attack on one of the core principles of the republic. If people cannot be secure in their property, then we are subjects, not citizens.

I'm posting this at 4 am in the dark while Debbie is trying to sleep. I seem to have developed some sort of sinus infection. My sinus pump seems to be helping. I will have to remember to take the time today to use it every few hours. We are picking up the U-Haul at 7am so we can move all the bulky stuff today and I am getting sick. Of course.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ubuntu (sigh)

Well, we are still on Ubuntu mostly due to sloth. It's like figuring out which is the least pain in the neck; dealing with the endless list of shortcomings and bugs in Ubuntu, or dealing with the pain of a Windows installation followed by reinstalling all the software, all the Windows patches and security updates, re-setting everything up, etc. I'm not sure this is what computing is supposed to be. I guess I just expect too much.

I still have no information on why the audio track of any video plays through the nasty little built-in laptop speakers instead of using the device that is set up in preferences. I suppose the answer is "get better external speakers," which would certainly be simpler than the setup I have. When we move, I may even look into that so the stereo can be out in the living room instead of tied to the PC.

I'm also having a lot of performance issues like interruptions in audio playback every time data is coming from the internet. Given that I am running on a dual core with a gig of RAM, that makes no sense.

A lot of pictures have been piling up on the camera since the Great Crash of 2007 that killed off the Windows side of our PC, so tonight I may tackle that little beastie. It promises to be loads of fun....

Tomorrow and Friday, we have a U-Haul rented to move the big stuff. That includes the desk that the PC is on, so blogging may be interrupted until I can get everything set up and a new connection established at the apartment. I think we will go ahead with Cable One instead of Altel. I've tried wireless before and basically wasted a lot of time and money on something that just doesn't work that well. I'd rather have a physical connection any day.

Attention Holiday Shoppers!

The dollar is crashing. Again, exactly what anyone who has had Econ101 would expect as a result of the Feds reving up the printing presses. I guess that leaves out everyone on the Federal Reserve board who are making noises about printing more money to fix the problem.

For the first time in my life, a Canadian dollar is worth more than a US dollar. Unreal.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Slave Doctors?

Kip makes some astute observations about socialized health care:
One of the points I try to emphasize from time to time is that a purported "right to health care" requires, as a matter of basic metaphysics, a "right to enslave health care providers." This is not histrionics: How, exactly, are you to enjoy your "right to an emergency appendectomy" without a surgeon to perform it? If your "right" truly is a right, and if no willing surgeon is available, then an unwilling one will have to be conscripted.

Fred on Education

Twenty-odd years ago, a commission on America's public schools declared that if they had been imposed on us by a foreign government, we would rightly consider it an act of war. I can't help but wonder what they would think of our schools now?

Anyway, Fred has, as usual, a rather creative solution.

Just to Hammer the Point Home

Read this carefully. We all know the mantra by now, right? Small and fast....


The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has now spread into academia. It has been so funny watching this grow from an off-hand comment on The Panda's Thumb to a world-wide phenomena.

Honest Politician?

Well, sort of. I guarantee that Obama is a moral defective like the rest of the presidential field. But at least he isn't provably stupid by denying the obvious.

Didn't inhale. Pfffft. Right, Bill. Just like you don't have a thing for chunky interns.


Read this little blurb carefully. Note why oil prices are hitting record levels. This is what happens when a country decides to burn up the presses printing funny money. Every. Single. Time. No exceptions.

Hang on; this could be an interesting couple of years.

News That Will Shock You

Here it comes, so brace yourself: the lying moral defectives in the UN lied about the extent of AIDS infections and the rate of growth of new infections. The productive people of the world saw a 3,000% increase in the amount of their tax dollars given to the UN of the basis of these (to be charitable) flawed statistics. So when do we get our refund?

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Ultimate Swiss Army Knife

This is so cool, but at 2 3/4 pounds, I'd need reinforced suspenders to keep my pants on.

Georgia Drought

This was on Jerry Pournelle's web site:
It's so dry in Georgia that the Baptists are starting to baptize by sprinkling; the Methodists are using wet-wipes, the Presbyterians are giving out rain-checks, and the Catholics are praying for the wine to turn back into water.
Now that's dry.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

We're Outa Here!

Tomorrow we sign the papers to our new apartment in Prescott. I gave notice today that November 30 will be my last day in the foundry, and that we will have our room cleaned out by December 3. December 4, I will be flying back to Michigan to pack our stuff into a moving van, then driving 2,000+ miles back to Arizona. We may still have some sifting and sorting to make everything fit in the apartment, but there is a second-hand shop next door so we won't have to take anything very far to get rid of it.

The apartment is awesome. It is only five blocks from downtown Prescott, which means that a lot of places we normally go to on the weekend are now walking or biking distance. Debbie will be about five minute's drive from her work. I won't have a job when we move in, but as soon as I get all our stuff dumped into the apartment, I will be looking for something close by. I'd like to keep to one vehicle if we can pull it off.

Beginning of the End?

After driving around and collecting data for several dozen times longer than originally planned, Spirit and Opportunity are starting to sound like some of the cars I drove in high school. Even given the ingenuity of the rover teams, it looks as if both rovers have more sols behind them than in front. Still, what an amazing run.

On a related note, just a little reminder that there is no law of the universe that says English will be spoken in the first lunar colony.

Hang on to your Bippies!

Here we go!

Money Quote (in this case, literally):
The big jump in prices underlines the Federal Reserve’s concern that inflation could pick up pace and make it more risky to continue cutting interest rates to keep the threat of a recession at bay.
In other words, the Fed has been printing money as fast as the presses will go for months, trying to bail out the housing and automotive industries. Now they are finding out that the laws of economics cannot be repealed by closing your eyes and wishing really hard.


The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend?

We consider these people to be allies? I'd hate to meet who we consider to be our enemies.

Repeat after me: Islam is not the Religion of Peace (tm).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Temporary Loss of Signal

Another gap in posting. We are still at Arcosanti, but not for much longer if some leads we picked up this weekend pan out. I've been taking some crap for my views of life here at Arcosanti, but less than I expected.

Another reason for the delay in updates here is computer problems. Major computer problems. I decided that my Ubuntu problems were probably due to installing version 7.04, then upgrading to 7.10. So I tried to blow away 7.04 completely and install 7.10 from scratch. Well, I managed to blow away 7.04 along with everything else including Windows. So for now, all we have is Ubuntu 7.04. I can't install 7.10 from scratch due to massive bugs in the desktop environment. I'll try just Ubuntu for a while and see how it goes. So far, we still have the problem with video playback being very washed out. Daytime outdoor scenes are nothing but a bright white screen. I'll hit the forums and see what the solution is. I'll be testing audio today to see if I can get that working correctly this time around. The speakers on a laptop really suck.

Anyway, if you don't see anything here for a bit, I've probably totally blown our laptop.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Feel the Squeeze

Debbie will be looking at an apartment that is only a couple miles from where she works. Sounds like it will be none too soon.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Arcosanti One Year Later

[Debbie told me I needed to look at this post because there were words missing or something. So I made another pass through making corrections and clarifications. I missed more than a few words; whole paragraphs were missing. I hope this makes more sense. Never blog when you are too tired to keep your eyes open.]

Well, it's amazing how fast a year can go by. One year ago today, Debbie and I began our five-week workshop here at Arcosanti. It has been mostly a positive experience until the last few days. More on that in a moment, but the short version is that there won't be a two-year anniversary. There may not be a 13-month anniversary.

In any case, here is the deal with this place. (This is going to be very long, so you may want to pee first. Go ahead, I'll wait. Ready? OK, here we go.)

The Area:

We are in central Arizona. Almost dead center, in fact. We are at about 3,600 feet in elevation, which means the weather is almost perfect. There are four distinct seasons, but we don't get the oven-like temperatures that Phoenix does, nor do we get snow like the higher elevations (6,000 feet seems to be the magic number at this latitude). Well, we get something they call snow here, but in Michigan it would barely qualify as a heavy frost; it is melted and gone an hour after sunrise. So for the first time in my life, I don't have to start every day between Thanksgiving and tax day fighting with snow. There may come a point where I miss it, but I doubt that it will be this winter. Or the next. Or the twenty after that.

The scenery is simply awesome with a mix of mountains and basalt mesas. There isn't much in the way of real trees at the elevation we are at, but they are plentiful just a couple thousand feet higher (about an hour drive). We are an easy day trip from dozens of national parks that feature every type of geography/geology imaginable (and several that are unimaginable). Yesterday, for example, we spent the day running all over the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. It is incredible. We could do trips like that every weekend for most of our second year in Arizona without running out of places to see.

The Culture:

Culturally, this area is basically Mancelona, Michigan complete with the trailer trash, the drugs, the liquor store every ten feet (but the closest grocery store is a 70-mile round trip), the lack of a work ethic, the lack of anything resembling Western morals, etc. But the one feature than will make any Mancetukian right at home is the junk. But central Arizona does it even better. These guys don't just toss junk cars, refrigerators, quads and other small debris. The landscape everywhere you look is littered with abandoned buildings, mines (which claim several lives a year; the latest was an eight-year-old girl), even entire towns. Nothing is ever repaired or reused; just build it, use it until it breaks or you no longer need it, then walk away. And the best part is that, in the desert climate, junk never rots away, and the vegetation is too sparse to hide a significant part of it. So it just sits there, until the end of time, as a testament to human wastefulness and stupidity.

Arcosanti makes this big show of being somehow different, yet everywhere you look you see junk, abandoned construction equipment, and junk cars, many of which belong to people who no longer live at Arcosanti. I wouldn't be surprised if the non-functioning cars here outnumber those still capable of turning their wheels. And that isn't even considering the 100+ cars that caught on fire at a concert here back in 1978. Those were crushed then buried behind the buildings where they remain to this day. God only knows what has has leaked/is leaking into the soil and water. So much for "respecting the environment."

And speaking of leaks, many of the original structures leak when it rains because nothing here is maintained. Debbie and I are pretty lucky in that we are in the newest building on the site, and the roof is still holding. But the first thing visitors to the site see is our "gallery," located in one of the older buildings, which leaks in a dozen places; meaning that the concrete walls have water stains from ceiling to floor (they could be easily cleaned off, but why bother when it's just going to rain again next year...), and the carpet looks and smells like Arcosanti bought it used from a dog kennel. Many of the older resident spaces are even worse, with water pour down to walls when it rains. Welcome to the City of the Future!

Of course, the problems go much further than just leaks. The whole site looks and feels tired. Faded paint, overgrown vegetation, drains that don't, sagging doors, just plain dirt, all of this and more just makes the place feel like one of the those old, roadside motels (that don't exit anymore because the chains ran them out of business) where everything that hasn't stopped working seems on the verge of failure. No one thing is a big deal, but the cumulative effect gives the impression of a site that no one cares about.

The Community:

The short answer is that there isn't one. There is a small group that always seems to be trying, but the majority of the population is too transient for it to ever take hold, and the long-term residents are never seen outside of work hours. Most never attend any of the major events we host, never attend any site parties, never attend the special party thrown to welcome each new workshop. So as long as your idea of community is the 20-somethings getting high and/or drunk several times a week while everyone else hides in their rooms, then I guess there is a community here.

The site is governed on a fascist model, with everything owned by the foundation, and the control of everything, from housing to employment to how many times a week the cafe is allowed to serve meat, residing in a single individual. There is a community council elected at large from the residents, but they are Masters of Trivia, such as organizing highway cleanups and granting noise extensions to residents that wish to have parties that extend past the site-wide quiet time (yes, you read that right). Any attempts to make substantive changes are immediately over-ruled by the Site Nazi. Each new council learns quickly that the best policy is to do nothing.


I didn't expect much coming in largely because any organization with as low a pay scale as this place just isn't going to attract top-notch talent. I mean, I work here after all. But I guess I didn't set the bar low enough because I was still floored by how bad everyone in charge is at their job. But until three days ago, I was operating under Napoleon's maxim: never ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence. No more. Yes there is certainly incompetence here to spare, but there is also a dark undercurrent of malice.

Today one of my coworkers in the foundry was fired based on a complaint from another foundry worker (we'll just refer to her as "Twiggy" for short) that was mostly fiction. Several other foundry workers, including yours truly, were asked to confirm Twiggy's version of events. We didn't. Our crack management team that was only "concerned with the truth," not in any of us "taking sides," fired the guy anyway. So now the entire foundry staff is divided into pro- and anti-Twiggy camps, which is real good for productivity not to mention the constant tension layered on top of an already-dangerous job.

So we are out of here as soon as we find housing in Prescott. I don't mind working for stupid people, but I refuse to work for, or with, malicious stupid people. Fun while it lasted, I guess.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Repeating Myself

For about the twentieth time, why would any white parent pay tens of thousands of dollars to subject their children to this? If blacks want the university system, then they can have it. If you want an education, you would do better reading random Wikipedia entries.

[Unrelated side note: This was posted from Windows because Ubuntu is saving our forests by not allowing me to print things. I can set up a printer, I can print a test page. What I cannot do is actually print something from an application.]

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Oil prices are now flitting around at the same price levels as 1980 when adjusted for inflation. If I recall 1980, it wasn't a real prosperous time. But I'm sure it's different now, what with it being the end of history and all.

Except for this.

And then there's that.



It's like deja vu all over again.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ubuntu Update

Sorry for the lack of posts, but I have been working through my Ubuntu for Non-Geeks book and trying to get things working smoothing under the current version (7.10 - Gutsy Gibbon). It mostly works. In fact, I am typing this in Firefox running on Ubuntu 7.10. Thoughts so far:

In general, if you don't like geeking around with your PC and just want the dang thing to work when you try to get your e-mail or pull some photos off the digital camera, Ubuntu probably isn't for you. I keep hearing these stories about guys that have set up an Ubuntu PC for their 80-year-old grandparents and it's been running trouble-free without so much as a reboot for two years. I don't mean to call anyone a liar, but I gonna have to on this one. I can't go 48 hours without a reboot to fix some glitch with printing, external drives, sound, wireless networking, etc. I mostly have things working, most of the time. But for me a PC is a tool that I use to accomplish certain tasks, not an end in itself. What is most frustrating is how close Ubuntu is. So. Frustratingly. Close.

So, to the details. Non-geeks may want to skip this part.

First off, the book I used said it was for non-geeks. I disagree. It is for geeks who like to accomplish tasks instead of endlessly noodling around with their system. It will show you how to do certain routine tasks and how to set up things that just work out-of-the-box in Windows or on a Mac. And like any book of this sort, there were things that just didn't work the way the book said they should even though the version of Ubuntu the book was written to (7.04 Feisty Fawn) was included on a CD in the back of the book. Some of those I was able to work around after poking about in the Ubuntu forums. Some I was never able to work through.

The biggest problem with Ubuntu is expectations. Everywhere you look, all you hear is "just install it and everything you could possibly want to do is ready to go!" Ubuntu's web site, blogs, forums, magazine reviews, all go on and on breathlessly how switching to Ubuntu will be the easiest thing you will ever do on a PC. Which, I suppose, is true given the following caveats:
- You never intend to watch a commercial DVD on your PC.
- You never intend to watch any video in any of the most common formats (Divx, MPEG, Real, or Flash).
- You never intend to listen to music in any of the most common formats (MP3, WAV).
- You have external or non-booting internal drives in any of the most common formats (NTFS, FAT32).

If you want to do any of these radical, off-the-wall things (and the *nix community will make sure that you feel that only a complete moron would, for example, want their music in MP3 instead of the far-superior-yet-completely-unheard-of OGG format, which is nearly universally ignored by the entire electronics industry because they've all been bought out by The Man), you will be directed to a special repository that forces you to agree to a long, scary disclaimer. The gist of the disclaimer is that most everything in the repository is illegal to install if you live in the United States, and if you install any of it, you will spend the rest of your natural life in a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison. Yep. I can just see granny clicking "I Agree" to that one. Sure.

The interface is pretty good. About Windows XP good by default. I just stumbled on a setting that adds some eye candy if you have a fast graphics card which bumps it up to maybe Vista (when Vista works, that is). Not bad, and certainly better that previous Linux distros that I've tried, but out of the box, it's still pretty vanilla. I can change much of that, which is cool, but it requires a lot geeking around and hours of downloading stuff off the internet to do it. Again, speaking for myself and most everyone I know, I don't wish to spend days and days just trying to find, download, and install a desktop background. I'd rather irritate large numbers of people by posting racist stuff on our blog. (OK, make that "irritate small numbers of people." Or maybe "irritate three people." Whatever.)

Most of the common applications lack polish. They work. Sort of. Most of the time. But they just don't have that loose-ends-tied-up feel of a typical Windows application. This is true even when comparing the Ubuntu version of an application with the Windows version of the very same application. For example, Ubuntu Firefox doesn't render correctly. Windows Firefox has no problem with that page. Worse, this has been true for at least three years. That's a long time to have a persistent rendering bug in a browser. Another example is Google's Picasa. The Ubuntu version refuses to admit to the existence of any drive other than the Ubuntu boot drive. My photos are on an external drive, so Picasa is nothing but a waste of disk space on my Ubuntu partition. The Windows version, as one would expect, has no problem with my external hard drive. The Linux alternative is F-Spot Photo Manager, which really isn't an alternative at all. It is a perfect example of software written by people who never actually use it. I'm sure it works at some crude level, but why would I bother working with an interface I wouldn't have found acceptable in 1987, when something far superior already exists?

Lots of little gotcha's that don't even make sense: Audio playback has little glitches in it, like a dual core PC with a gig of RAM isn't up to the task of playing back MP3's. Please. All video playback ignores the audio device set up in System Preferences and plays audio through the laptop speakers at a nearly inaudible volume. Ubuntu insists that I don't have permission to even mount one of my external hard drives. The other two mount just fine. The really odd thing is that if I power up the drives in a different order, a different drive suddenly becomes unmountable. Wireless networking has definitely improved from previous versions when it didn't work at all to the current version that mostly works, but requires periodic rebooting to bring the connection back to life. I know the network here, especially the wireless network, is at best shaky, but again, Windows has no problem re-establishing a dead connection without requiring a reboot.

And that is pretty much where I'm at right now. I'll keep picking away at each issue, and I'm sure there are answers to most of them, but this is certainly not the painless computing that the fanboys rave about.

[Update: Yahoo's home page now renders correctly in Firefox. There was an update that I installed late last night that must have fixed it. However, I am posting this update from Windows because Ubuntu's DVD Rip is a nightmare. I'm sure I can do the same thing I do with Window's Magic DVD Ripper, but I fear I will need to pay $40 or more for a book to explain to me how it is done. Magic is simple: load the DVD, the software picks the title that contains the actual movie, remembers where you want the results stored, defaults the target file name, and remembers that I want a single file in MPEG format. I click Start and in 45 minutes or so, I have a perfect copy of whatever DVD I loaded. Ubuntu's DVD Rip is geek-ware; intended for someone that would rather make a project (the software's term, not mine) out of something so simple. Now I'm sure DVD Rip can do a lot more than Magic's DVD Ripper, but the software developers seem to think that I want to have that fact rubbed in my face while I'm trying to do something quite simple.]

Monday, October 29, 2007

Whatz up?!

Not too much here. This weekend it finally started getting warmer again. Saturday we had a great day in Prescott -- great weather to lounge around in downtown and read/people watch. We, of course, had to walk over to one of our favorite places to get some homemade ice cream. We went to see a college men's soccer game. (They may be new clients of mine) They won. The past weekend alot of my coworkers and their family members went to the first home game of the Sundogs. (A hockey team) It was group night and us employees had free tickets. It was fun --- sudden death OT -- we won.

A funny thing that happened at the hockey game. When Ric came back from visiting the restroom, he told me we had to call my Mom. I looked perplexed until he finally told me about the "johnny ads" Guess who is suppose to be coming to little Prescott Valley and Tim Toyota Center next year? Yep --- Mr Tom Jones, himself! I told Ric I may have to take him to see his first Tom Jones concert --- he told me that he could pass up the experience.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Global Warming. Again.

Yea, yea, yea. I know I need to shut up about this, but just one more. Promise. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a finger in my eye.

OK, we both know I can't leave this one alone. This is an article on Russel Seitz's site discussing the law of unintended consequences.

Not that any of it matters much. No Child Left Behind will turn us into a third world country in a generation or two which will drastically reduce both our population and our CO2 emissions. That should make the greenies happy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

He's Outa Here!!

We all know what you can't say and who you can't say it about.

Welcome to our brave new world where facts are subservient to political agendas.

[Update: Fred even came out of retirement for this one.]

[Later Update: Bob Thompson also has a few thoughts. Money Quote: "The politically correct push the idea that unequal outcome proves unequal opportunity, which is a lie. The differences in ability between the races and sexes guarantee that equal opportunity will result in unequal outcomes. The equalest opportunity in the world won't produce many female weightlifting champions, nor many white marathon champions, nor many black astrophysicists. That's reality, and attempting to force things to be otherwise is simply evil."]


Not planning on going anywhere for a while, are you?

How long until $100?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Burn Baby, Burn

I got a little toasted Friday while I was on tail for the last pour of the day. There are three of the leather coats that have long enough sleeves to protect my wrists from the heat. The one I grabbed Friday had something spilled on the sleeve, or it had been burned somehow, or it just wore out. In any case, by the time we were half way through the pour, it was pretty obvious that there was something wrong. But there really isn't a way to stop the pour and by the time someone else had suited up to take my place, we would be done anyway. So I just had to suck it up and finish the job. When I took the jacket off, my right arm looked like it had a bad sunburn. It has mostly faded, but I have a couple spots that are still red and one looks like it's trying to blister.

Needless to say, there are now only two jackets that fit me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Streak Ends...

... if you can call two-in-a-row a streak. Yesterday I made 126's for the first time, otherwise known as "butt bells." The first problem was a broken mold, so I only poured 17 instead of 18 bells for the day. Then I trashed three of the 17 due to flashing and/or swelling. Tuesday I was on grinder and today I made fins. Tomorrow I make 112's, which I also believe is a first for me. Ugliest bell we make.

Perfection came to an end.


Dr. Watson (as in one of the two scientists that discovered the shape of our DNA) just set off a firestorm to beat all firestorms. Bob Thompson has a few thoughts of his own. Given that a couple nooses hung in a tree is justification for blacks to set buildings on fire and beat random whites, I'm sure something of this magnitude will justify a black hit-squad going after Dr. Watson.

Of course, given the precedents like Rhodesia and Washington DC, the hit squad would likely end up in London trying to find 221B Baker Street.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I am posting this from Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn). I bought a book on Jerry Pournelle's recommendation called Ubuntu for Non-Geeks. I'm up to chapter four so far tonight and have Ubuntu installed on our newest laptop running dual-boot with Windows, and have successfully connected to the internet over Arcosanti's wireless network. In the past, I have played with Kubuntu and Xubuntu, but I think I prefer the straight Ubuntu so far.

The plan is that I will work my way through this book, then see what else I am missing that I use in Windows. Once I never have to boot into Windows and have Debbie nice and comfy with Ubuntu, it will be "Bu-bye Windows!" I'd like to be off Windows fairly soon as the laptop has become increasingly unstable over the last month. I don't have any malware that Microsoft's OneCare can find, but there is always the chance that something has sneaked in some back door. The most likely cause is either the usual Windows inter-application DLL warfare, or Windows has just built up enough cruft that is has become unstable.

Anyway, wish me luck.

Star Wars Geeks

So, what's geekier than building and attempting to launch a full-scale model of an X-Wing? Modifying your video of it exploding shortly after launch.

And then they voted. Assuming the ballot was printed in Klingon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Delux Chicken Coop

The agriculture department is trying to step up egg production. The problem is that the existing chicken is too small for the chickens we already have, not to mention that it is in pretty bad repair. So a project was started about the same time I moved to the foundry to build a new chicken coop. It looks pretty good for a chicken coop.

The outside is an earth plaster, with old wine bottles pushed through the walls to provide some light in the coop. It sits on a cement footing that was decorated with floor tile left over from other projects. Looks better than a lot of the resident spaces.

24 for 24

Both Friday and today, I had perfect days. Friday I made 106's; today I made 110's. I picked one of the 106's to buy while I was assembling them today. We might have to move into a bigger apartment so we have room for us if I keep buying the bells I make.

I had never made the 106's before and they tend to be a problem bell even for people that have worked in the foundry for years. So I had to photograph my beginner's luck:


This is the one I'm buying:


There are more at the end of the Foundry 2007 photo set. The 110's I made today weren't quite as clean. I'll see what they look like after they have been cleaned up on the wire wheel tomorrow. Might be buying one of those as well.... Good thing I get paid to do this so I can spend it all buying my own stuff.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Whoopi vs. Sharpton

Whoopie calls for Al Sharpton to apologize to the Duke lacrosse players wrongly accused of rape and, as Whoopie says, went through hell as a result. Unsurprisingly, Al says he has no reason to apologize, never took a position, etc. Unfortunately for Al (and fortunately for the public) we have this little thing called the internet. A Google search of '"al sharpton" "duke lacrosse"' gives this little tidbit as the first hit. I'm sure if I wanted to waste my time, I could dig out a lot more, but everyone already knows that Al Sharpton is nothing but a lying, racist demagogue.

The Wheel Turns

It seems Cory Doctorow is getting a little lesson in karma. Couldn't happen to a bigger ass... er... I mean "nicer guy."

Blast from the Past

We subscribe to a service that tracks visitors to our site. (Yes, we know who you are and where you live. Mwahahahah!!) Part of that service is to show us the search strings that people type into Google or Yahoo that leads them to our site. For the last few months some version of "dog's prayer to daddy" keeps showing up. I finally typed that into Google and this is the first hit that comes up. I'd forgotten all about that. Still funny.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Still Kickin'

Not sure what we've been so busy doing that neither of us have managed to post anything for a week. This is going to be another one of those trash can posts, so hang on.

First, sorry for the Google spam to everyone associated with this blog. Google seems to have tightened up their password requirements since my last log in. I was still logged in from the last time I did something here or on Google Docs or whatever and had not logged out. To make a long story short, I couldn't log in, couldn't even log out. I was stuck in this eternal hell of typing my password over and over and getting nowhere. A password reset (which for some stupid reason sends an e-mail to all contributors to this blog) and a reboot seems to have fixed everything. I guess that will teach me to say anything nice about Google again....

Debbie made it back from Hawaii and the photos are all here.

We also spent last Saturday wandering around Jerome, an old mining town a bit north of here that has become a artist colony and tourist trap of sorts. It is built on the side of a mountain, so it would be more appropriate to say that we walked up and down rather than around Jerome. Every first Saturday of the month, they have what they call an "Art Walk" which is just some of the local galleries staying open until 8pm with snacks and drinks and a shuttle service to haul people around. As you can probably guess from the pictures, there isn't a lot of parking in Jerome, but of course it was far worse than normal Saturday due to some sort of biker convention in Cottonwood. The place was completely overrun with with Harley's. Naturally. So we parked at the old high school, which was turned into art spaces when the school system was consolidated with one of the neighboring towns. We walked up to town, which was only a quarter mile or so, but involved several hundred feet of vertical climb and several crossings of a very narrow, twisty road overrun with bikers driving just slightly over the posted 15 mph speed limit. (This is a picture of the high school about 2/3 the way up.) So after about five seconds of discussion, we decided that we were not walking back down in the dark and grabbed a shuttle. We got in and started chatting with the driver and other passenger. The third passenger not only knew about Arcosanti, but had worked on a film crew here that shot the worst movie ever made. (Seriously; it's so bad you can't even MST3K it.) So the ride back down to the high school was like old home week.

I'm still hacking away at making bells in the foundry. I haven't done any new bells in a while, just replays of the same ones I've done before. I keep experimenting with new tools and designs, so I'm still melting more bells than I should be, but at least I'm learning something along the way. Debbie is still building up a client list at AAA. She thought that she would get some bonus commission this month, but because her twelve-month rolling average was a few hundred bucks short, she got nothing. Disappointing to say the least.

Well, Debbie is home with the laundry and dinner is done, so I gotta go.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I've Sold My Soul... Google. I've moved all our documents to Google Docs and Spreadsheets. I use only Google Search. I have a Google homepage. This site in on Blogger, which is owned by Google. When Google Archive comes on-line, I will be all over that as an off-site backup solution. And today, I started setting up Google Alerts to keep me up-to-date on the world. Right now I just have some very basic ones for Alden, Prescott, specific space stuff, etc. They are way too broad and I need to do some research on how to narrow things down. But eventually, these will replace the handful of links in the News section of the links over on the right.

Now, theoretically, Google sifts through all that flotsam and sells my personal information to advertisers to pay for all these great services. I'm not sure what the glean from my college papers and the fact that I'm interested in the Mars rovers, but anything I get hit with will be mild compared to the endless offers of free Gateway laptops and pills to "grow your member up to 3" a day!!!!!" cluttering up my inbox, and the sixteen credit card offers a day stuffing my mailbox.

Go Google!!

It's All Relative

Funniest thing I've heard in the foundry:

The manager has been training one of the foundry employees (not me) to run the furnace. It's not very sophisticated; just a quarter-turn valve to regulate the propane and a big blower on an on-off switch, so running it means a lot "going by feel" to get the bronze the correct temperature for a pour (2100-2200 F). Anyway, he was checking up on his "pupil" by looking at the bronze in the furnace (you can judge the approximate temperature by appearance) and comments, "It looks a little chilly."

Now maybe on the surface of the sun, you can describe 1700 or 1800 degrees as "chilly," but on earth, even in the context of the foundry, that just cracked me up.

OK, I just went back and read through this post and decided that I'm just easily amused.

Speaking of the foundry, I've been doing a lot of non-bell activity lately (drilling, grinding, assembling, making fins, etc.). Today I got back into molding bells (102's again) and some came out pretty good. I'm still getting a lot of holes in my bells and uneven thickness, which means I'm not getting the two halves of the mold lined up perfectly when I set up for a pour. I need to work on that. But at least I'm building up a big enough repertoire of designs that I can make a couple dozen bells and not have to repeat.


I am so glad to be out of the cube farm. This is so close to some of what goes on, it almost isn't funny:

As usual, click on the comic to view a readable version.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance

Scott Adams, in his continuing experiment in the lack of reading comprehension in the average American, discusses a great example of cognitive dissonance combined with poor logic. His readers responded as expected: with a complete lack of understanding of the point he was trying to make. Worse, Daily Kos joined in, once again demonstrating that popularity and intelligence seem to have an inverse relationship. Scott writes in a follow-up post:
But here’s the most interesting part. My blog on how Bill Maher and his panelists misunderstood Lomborg has caused a new round of cognitive dissonance. I have now been labeled a supporter of Lomborg’s arguments simply because I said I understood what he said on a TV show. Check this out. It’s somewhat jaw-dropping:
And then Daily Kos and its readers voted. People wonder why I no longer bother. Nothing good can come of universal suffrage when you consider that the vast bulk of intelligence is concentrated in 20% of the population.

The End of an Era?

I have to give Fred credit; he was able to continue caring much longer than I was. For most of human history, Fate ruled. Then the enlightenment gave man Free Will. I'm not sure I concur unless it is the free will over trivia. We complain endlessly about the moral defectives in Congress, the White House, our state legislatures, and our city and county governments. Yet we do nothing. We do worse than nothing; we send the same moral defectives back, essentially rewarding them for their moral defectiveness. Maybe that is because we cannot do otherwise.

A few parting thoughts from Fred:
People write columns in the (faint) hope of changing things. No, a web site will not alter the majestic course of the planets in their orbits. It was once possible, however, to believe that enough people hollering in the electronic town hall that is the web might push things in a desired direction. In the past, this has worked—not cleanly, nor quickly, nor quite as the senior-civics texts said. But it has sort of worked.

Now it doesn’t. Today the United States is politically and socially constipated. Nothing moves, or at least not in a desirable direction. Crooks, frauds, revivalists, the over-empowered under-brained, believers and mouth-breathers and unabashed lunatics—all of these have so firmly gummed up the gears that improvement founders. Someone seems to have poured glue into the political kaleidoscope. Little point exists in curmudgeing at the bastards....

A train wreck once started goes to completion....

The abolitions of the Bill of Rights, the ever increasing surveillance, the diminished recourse of citizens against the government.... The government keeps records of the books you read in the airport.....

People grow ever more docile, accustomed to intimidation, to searches without cause. Several writers of my acquaintance no longer question federal policy. They are afraid.

And we are going to see this show through to the end. In a dismal way it is funnier than Oprah.....

The country is shot. So what else is new?
Indeed. Thank you, Fred, for your many years in the trenches.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The New Definition of Poor

This is a description of a typical poor, uninsured family in the United States that qualifies for taxpayer-funded health insurance:

Annual income of $56,000
A pool
Cable TV
Internet access
A daughter in private school

Gee, I'm getting all choked up.

What Language Will be Spoken on the First Lunar Base?

Probably not English. I could have been, but we decided to throw away the chance to leap decades ahead of the rest of the world.


I suppose we can amuse ourselves by beating up on Arabs.

Hat Trick for Scott Adams

Scott Adams like to stir people up and make them insult him for saying things that he provably did not say. His latest round starts here (rated R for the sort of language common in any Jr. High locker room) with some very probing questions about our perceptions of both ourselves as a nation, as well as others. As is typical, his comments quickly filled up with people screeching at him for saying things he did not say. He posted a clarification which simply increased the screech volume, which is typical as well as entertaining. His third post posited a new disease to explain the twisted logic the majority of people use to reach an opinion on everything from soda to the President. I think it's safe to assume what his comments look like.

As Scott says, "And then they voted." Maybe universal suffrage wasn't such a great idea after all.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pray the Can Opener Doesn't Break

Debbie is in Hawaii all week which means I'm on my own. Scary. I always have the cafe as a backup, but I spent most of my available cash on a iPod Nano 8 Gb in black. It's one of the new ones that do videos. I haven't tried that yet, but I did shove my favorites list onto it last night so I had something to listen to in the foundry today.

So I'm all set with music even if it means I starve to death. At least my corpse will be rockin' out (insert bad "Beethoven decomposing" joke here) when Debbie finds me rotting on the floor.

Priorities, man.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rated R for Strong Language

Not this post, but this link which shows one of the big dangers of automated and/or idiomatic translations made by people with no working knowledge of one of the languages involved. Some of the links in the article are worth a chuckle as well. Note that the oddly-placed questions marks are embedded Chinese characters that your browser/operating system don't know what to do with.

"Bu Bye" and "Hello"

Well, it looks like Salon has buried Camille Paglia somewhere on the site I don't have the patience to dig out. I suspect that she is back in the subscriber area. I refuse to pay Salon to read nothing on their site other than Paglia's once-a-month column. So she is gone (again; I think this is add/remove cycle number three or four) and has been replaced with the Bad Astronomy Blog, (Thanks Matt!!) written by another fellow traveler who enjoys beating on Fred Phelps and Kent Hovind when he isn't blogging cool astronomy stuff.

[Update: A reader has shown me how to find Camille Paglia; she is back on the list of links.]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not Quite a Replicator...

... but I still think this may have some sort of impact on manufacturing. People complain about what cheap Chinese labor has done to wages in the US, but I have this feeling that they ain't seen nothing yet. Please note that the price for one of these is exactly the same price my employer paid for a Xerox 300 dpi laser printer in 1987. Staples has an HP 1200 dpi laser for $200. That's in 20-year-inflated 2007 dollars. In non-inflated 1987 dollars that's like $75.

Homework: project the same price/capability price curve for 3-D printers and speculate on just how much we will be buying at a store in 20 years.

Those Wacky Brits!

Don't they know there is no reason to panic? Bank runs are so 19th century. Everyone knows that it's impossible for a nation's banking system to collapse. Come on, people! The government promises everything is OK. Besides, even if those Brits, who everyone knows are a little sketchy when it comes to money, can't keep it together, we Americans are just peachy!

Hey Sis!!

Wow. Almost a week without a post. I didn't realize how long it had been. I've been occupied off line ripping through some books. Since my last post, I finished up Joseph Cambell's The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology , read Wil Wheaton's Dancing Barefoot and Just a Geek, and read Rob the Bouncer's Clublife, so it's not like I've just been goofing off. I also received my knife and chisels for my Japanese carving (new hobby that has nothing to do with the internet), so I've been playing with those as well.

Anyway, the reason I started this post was this (click on the image to get a readable version):

For some reason, I started having flash-backs from my childhood.

Travel update

Sedona was gorgeous. The pictures do not do it justice....the reds were so much colorful. We did not have enough time to visit and tour all we wanted to here. The construction also slowed things down. We did hit a couple gallery areas -- very surprised in one place to see "life size" penguins. They were so cute! (except for the price) We found alot of things we would love to have if 1) we had the money to buy them and 2) had the space to put them to show them off. There was this one moving tall shelving thingy that was interesting. I told Ric we couldn't get it cuz I would get motion sick watching it or seeing it out of the corner of my eye. It was in constant motion. We will be visiting Sedona again and again I'm sure.

Disneyland. Wow --- this AAA FAM trip was fast and furious. We arrived late Friday night -- did dinner and some of us checked out some of Downtown Disney. We started Saturday morning bright and early with a working breakfast at 7am and toured and learned and toured more all three Disney hotels and both theme parks and some of Downtown Disney. We had a bit of "free time" that night from 8p until the parks closed. Got lost trying to find the ride I wanted to do -- gave up and went to Disneyland Park to watch the fireworks. Did some shopping in Downtown Disney and got back to the room around midnite. Next morning -- character breakfast with the critters at Chip N Dales, pack things up and hit the road for the LONG drive home. I did learn alot, but not enough to be really comfortable selling Disneyland yet. So....Ric and I are going to take a long weekend and go there in November. I should be getting free one pay park passes for both of us for two days, so we need to find a cheap hotel and will drive over.

Bright and early this Sunday morning I will be flying to Hawaii for another AAA FAM trip. This will be another fast and furious trip..... 3 islands in 6 nights. I get to visit Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island of Hawaii. I wish we were seeing Kauai. Oh well ... there is another trip for Ric and I sometime.

And if we didn't mention --- in April/May Ric and I will be flying over to Italy to do a cruise/tour. We do a 5 nt Italy pkg (Venice, Florence, and Rome) and then a 12nt Greek Isle/Med cruise. Our cruise has a stop in Egypt also.

Can't wait to see what is around the corner next for traveling!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Phinally; Photos!!

Get it? Phinally; Photos? Eh? Eh? See? Living here with all these right-brained artsy types is rubbing off! I'm just so edgy and hip!


Anyway, I know it isn't Sunday. It ain't even Monday. But hey; at least it's still 2007.

Our Sedona road trip is here.

I added the last couple rainbows I got pictures of to the Monsoon 2007 set. For a few weeks, they were a daily thing, but the monsoons seem to be blowing out now.

And just for Jen:


These are mostly harmless; they just like to get tangled up in people's hair.

Long week so far in the foundry; Monday I was assigned 102's which are a bit of a problem bell, but I've done them before, so I wasn't too concerned going in. Then my first mold split in half when I took the flask off. OK, still no need to panic. Then my second mold split in half. OK; panic!! I switched to a different flask and made a few changes in how I was packing the sand. Somehow, I got everything out on time. At least the majority of the bells turned out. Tuesday, I was on the grinder in the morning and did assembly all afternoon. Today I was doing 101's, which just love to boil under the best of circumstances, and having a rookie molding them with too-wet sand ain't nothing like "best." My entire first heat boiled: 100% failure. I shoveled an entire pile of dry sand into my molding sand and started packing the cores (the part that makes the inside of the bell) so light they nearly crumbled when I pulled the pattern off. That seemed to do the trick. I still lost 5 of the twelve bells in my second heat; I was on tail with the boss man as usual, but for some reason, we were like a couple chimps out there, slopping bronze all over the place. We scored a direct hit on three cores, which as I mentioned were already pretty fragile, double-streamed the bronze on one, and had an interruption in the stream on another. Bottom line; seven out of 24. Not good.

Monday, September 10, 2007

We've Gone Mad

If this is the best use of law enforcement resources that a cop can come up with, then I think it's time to start laying them off.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Long Random Post

This is going to be another one of those long, rambling posts.

Still there?

OK, but don't say I didn't warn you.

I'm still working in the foundry, although after the last week I wonder why. We had some sand problems, namely too much water in the sand. That causes the bronze to boil when we pour it in the mold, which is dangerous for the guys on the shank because liquid bronze is flying up in the air and landing on feet, head, hands, etc. It also wrecks the bell. For the four-day week, I molded 40 135's, 16 103's, and 24 101's. The 135 bells survive boiling better than most, but I was still only able to save 15 or so. Only one of my 103's came out, and 7 of my 101's. Friday, the foundry staff started throwing massive amounts of dry sand into the pile we mold from, so we saved most of the second pour, otherwise, I wouldn't even have that much to show for three days of molding. Everyone is getting very frustrated. I'm doing a lot of experimenting, so I don't mind throwing my ugly bells back in the melt, so it isn't as bad for me as everyone else. It was hot and dry this weekend, so we'll see if things go a little better.

Jerry Pournelle has become embroiled in a nasty little fight over a writer's right to control his life's work. As one would expect of someone of Jerry's stature, it seems he will prevail in all this. Unfortunately, the Electronic Frontier Foundation seems to have chosen to side with a commercial web site whose business model consists of showing ads to people lured to the site by free electronic copies from well-known authors who were not aware that their work was being used in this way. Doctorow managed to make a complete ass of himself through all this (nothing new there), as did the nice folks over at ars technica (again, nothing new there). What surprised me was the EFF jumping to the aide of an organization that was not just illegal, which since DCMA means next to nothing, but also clearly unethical. In any case, you've probably heard bits of the story. Go here for the rest of the story. My view of the entire mess remains the same: Casual, non-commercial copying has always happened and will continue regardless of what any governmental or quasi-governmental organization thinks of it. Further, that casual copying is at worst neutral and probably a net benefit to artists and authors. But doing it for profit clearly steps over a line.

From time to time, I will make some comment that a college education is just an expensive way for your kids to learn how to shotgun beers. Paul Graham runs a company that invests in tech start-ups and, while not going as far as I do, seriously questions the importance of where someone goes to college. Money quotes:
What first set me thinking about this was the new trend of worrying obsessively about what kindergarten your kids go to. It seemed to me this couldn't possibly matter. Either it won't help your kid get into Harvard, or if it does, getting into Harvard won't mean much anymore. And then I thought: how much does it mean even now?
Practically everyone thinks that someone who went to MIT or Harvard or Stanford must be smart. Even people who hate you for it believe it.

But when you think about what it means to have gone to an elite college, how could this be true? We're talking about a decision made by admissions officers—basically, HR people—based on a cursory examination of a huge pile of depressingly similar applications submitted by seventeen year olds. And what do they have to go on? An easily gamed standardized test; a short essay telling you what the kid thinks you want to hear; an interview with a random alum; a high school record that's largely an index of obedience. Who would rely on such a test?

... you can't, without asking them, distinguish people who went to one school from those who went to another three times as far down the US News list.

... how much you learn in college depends a lot more on you than the college. A determined party animal can get through the best school without learning anything. And someone with a real thirst for knowledge will be able to find a few smart people to learn from at a school that isn't prestigious at all.
The unfortunate thing is not just that people are judged by such a superficial test, but that so many judge themselves by it. A lot of people, probably the majority of people in the America, have some amount of insecurity about where, or whether, they went to college. The tragedy of the situation is that by far the greatest liability of not having gone to the college you'd have liked is your own feeling that you're thereby lacking something. Colleges are a bit like exclusive clubs in this respect. There is only one real advantage to being a member of most exclusive clubs: you know you wouldn't be missing much if you weren't. When you're excluded, you can only imagine the advantages of being an insider. But invariably they're larger in your imagination than in real life.
Of course, with more and more students being shoved through college that have no business being there (because, according to the governor of Michigan, every single high school graduate has a right to a college education), having a college degree means much less than it used to. Think of it this way; what if the gov decided to pimp, say, plumbing school the way she is pimping colleges. She could cook up all sorts of statistics about how trained plumbers make great money, which would be true at some gross level. But what happens to the rates a plumber can charge for his time in two years when everyone under the age of 21 is a licensed plumber? Why does anyone think it isn't the same with college degrees?

I've given up on Netflix. I canceled our account on Thursday when I received yet-another unplayable disc. Of course, over the weekend, I've been renting and ripping movies like crazy, and I don't seem to be doing much better at the local Hollywood Video. Friday, I rented four movies; once wasn't playable. Saturday, I went back, traded the bad movie in for a different copy and rented four more. The replacement disc was still bad, but only started skipping in the credits, so I wasn't concerned. But two of the four were also bad. Today, I went back, replaced those two and rented two more. All four are unplayable. I guess I'll just start buying DVD's from Amazon and just give up on the whole video rental thing.

Speaking of tech troubles, our laptop has been acting very strangely today. When we bought it, anti-virus and anti-spyware software was "included" (I was charged for them being installed, even though I didn't ask for them and they were already installed when the laptop came out of the box). As is typical, the license on those were only good for one year, after which I would need to pay money to keep them up to date. The total price was steep (nearly $100 for the two packages) so I went and looked at Microsoft's Live OneCare. It was free for 90 days and $50 per year after that. So I uninstalled what I had (reboot, reboot), installed OneCare (reboot), installed the update to IE that OneCare insisted I needed (reboot), and installed the two security updates to the just-updated IE that OneCare helpfully found for me (reboot, reboot). I let OneCare do its thing (called a Tune-Up) and set up automatic backups, scan everything, defrag the hard drive, etc. In all, about eight hours of my time, most of which was spent reading a book (Joseph Cambell's The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology) while the laptop trundled away at some task. So far, so good. Then today, I was clicking away on the web when everything froze. Not a blue screen; completely and totally locked up. Audio cut off; no response to keyboard or mouse; even the good ol' three-fingered salute had no effect. Power down, power up, get iTunes running again, get back into Firefox, work for about two minutes and BAM! Locked up tight again. Power down, power up; only this time, the machine wouldn't boot. Try a couple more times. No joy. I have seven USB devices plugged into this thing, so I unplugged everything and tried again. Windows came back up like nothing happened. I plugged everything back in and all seems well. Talk about ghosts in the machine....

I have a bunch of pictures, not just of rainbows, but more bug photos, Sedona photos, and other random stuff that has been piling up on the camera. I need to get those off the camera and up on Flickr. I'm shooting for tonight, but I don't know how far I will get. If not today, then definitely tomorrow. Which means I need to knock this off and get busy.


Bu bye.