24 December 2004

The King of Jing-a-ling

Charlie-In-The Box: I am the official sentry of the Isle of Misfit toys. My name is...
Rudolph: Don't tell me: Jack.
Charlie-In-The Box: No, Charlie. That's why I'm a misfit toy. My name is all wrong. No child wants to play with a Charlie-In-The-Box so I had to come here.
-Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

For the record, the kids are watching the Misfit Toys song arguing over which toys they want.

Have you ever noticed what an jerk Santa is in the Rankin/Bass Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer? Consider the following:

  • He tells Donner that he Rudolph's nose had better stop glowing, or he wouldn't be able to pull the sleigh
  • He tells Donner how disappointed he is when Rudolph's nose is uncovered.
  • The elves sing the new song they've been working on and Santa's only response is that it "need's work."
  • When telling Rudolph that Donner, Rudolph's mom, and Clarice are missing, Santa is very worried, but not about their welfare, mind you. No, he's worried that without Donner he won't be able to drive his sleigh.
Now that's a bad Santa.

P.S. How'd they get my dad to do Comet's voice? (Actually, it was Don Adams.)
P.P.S. If you haven't seen Mad TV's Raging Rudolph, you need to.

23 December 2004

How much to you love your pet?

I know he looks like me
Hates work like me and walks like me
He’s even got a twin like me
-They Might be Giants
Do you love your pet so much you spend $50K for a clone of it? Apparently someone does.

Then there's Strong Mad's new friend in the Homestar Decemberween toon. Now that's a companion.

21 December 2004

The Injury

Is it "get a big band-aid" bad or "we're going to the hospital" bad?

It was the latter. You can take a look, but do so at your own peril. You've been warned.

I was working on "The Project" (which is complete, BTW). I needed to trim some wood shims I used to level out what I was nailing. The shims were thin wood, so I was using a razor knife to trim the excess. You can probably see where this is going. There was this one little nub still sticking out. A quick pass with the knife removed it just fine. Unfortunately, right below it was my thumb.

After shouting many words my children aren't supposed to hear, it was determined that, yes, a visit to the E.R. was in order. The girls went to the neighbors and Sharon and I headed off to CentraState Medical center. It was a bit crowded, so rooms were scarce. Right when they had one, a rig came with someone who was really hurt, and I ended up in one of the pediatric wing rooms. This meant that it had a really cool planet border and NASA poster on the wall. It also meant that no one knew who had my files.

Eventually one of the doctors came in and made short work of the clean and stitch process. Sitting up proved to be a mistake, however, as the room started to spin and fade a little midway through the process. Funny that up until then I was fine.

In any event, after more waiting and a final bandage wrap, we were on our way home with only four hours lost from the day. The stitches come out next Monday. So this Christmas, it's Franken-thumb.

20 December 2004

Catching up on old business

I want to sqaure up all Family accounts tonight.
-Michael Corleone
The Godfather

It has been too long since I've last posted, so I want to get a few things out of the way here.

First, I never mentioned the great D&D game Rob ran a few weeks ago. I got to play a Druid, and let me tell you, they're cool! There were many cool moments in the game, where our biggest challange proved to be a gorge whose bridge collapsed. Thanks to a viper hiding in a tree, my character got accross the river on a dolphin back (long story there). There was also the great moment when the gnome sorcerer lept from the back of the dwarf that was carrying her up the cliff and fired off a set of magic missles mid-air to take out one of the lizard men. And let us not forget the single-minded play of the dwarf barbarian (INT 8).

Next let me just quickly seeth as Dubya pats himself on the back while signing the intelligence reform bill he was dead set against until he saw the polling numbers. I can see him laughing at the obscene irony of his flip-flop attacks Kerry. Grrrrrr.

Next let me say that the living room is done! Mind you, the hallway isn't, but soon.... I'll save one story there for another post.

Hmmm, is there anything else? well, the tree is up. Now I just need to finish the buildings on the layout. I guess that means enough time-wasting here.

11 December 2004

Late night (or early morning) rambling

Captains log: I'm tired. So tired.
The home improvement saga continues. Drywall and floor have been removed and replaced. I'm becoming a master of joint compound. Stanley Steamer comes on Thursday. I need to be done by then.

Forgot to mention this earlier - we saw The Polar Express last weekend. What a good movie. I know some of you were freaked out by the almost-real look of it, but I just keep seeing those Chris Van Allsburg drawings from the book. And they managed to expand the story into a movie yet remain true to the book. I know some have panned it, but I'm with Ebert on this one.

Oh yeah, cut and run Kerik (per Rob's post) just cut and ran.

Oh well, that's enough stream of consciousness for now. Off to bed.

06 December 2004

More lies

Stack dead actors, stacked to the rafters
Line up the bastards all I want is the truth
Hey, hey now, can you fake it,
Can you make it look like we want
Hey hey now, can you take it
And we cry when they all die blonde
-Foo Fighters

Okay, this was news to me. I just read a WP article about Pat Tillman and learned he was killed by friendly fire. Apparently this came out about five weeks after Tillman's death, but I missed it then. Was it even a story? Now I am shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn that "his superiors exaggerated his actions and invented details as they burnished his legend in public, at the same time suppressing details that might tarnish Tillman's commanders."

Last night we watched an episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit about psychics who talked to the dead. At Penn Jillette delivers a monologue condemning the psychics as the worst kind of con artists exploiting the dead and the grief of their loved ones. This is the same thing. Like the psychics, Tillman's commanders callously used his memory to their own benefit, at the expense of his friends and family. They exploited Jessica Lynch the same way, distorting her story to serve their ends.

Aren't these people heroic enough already? Do we always need to make them larger than life? Are they that afraid of the truth?

Staying the course

Heads of State who ride and wrangle,
Who look at your face from more than one angle,
Can cut you from their bloated budgets
Like sharpened knives through Chicken McNuggets.
Last week we learned that a December 2003 report warned of suspected abuse in Iraq prisions. That was four months before the Secretary of Defense told us how shocked he was to learn about the abuses.

As of today it's official. Rumsfeld is staying put. Amid the resignations of half the cabinet, the one guy who should be resigning in disgrace is staying put, having been asked to do so by Bush.

03 December 2004

One more reason to turn off 101.5

Can't shake the devil's hand
and say you're only kidding
-They Might Be Giants

If you're within range of the ear-sore that is New Jersey 101.5, this is yet another reason not to listen to them. It's from the Windsor-Hights Herald, the weekly local paper.

Craig Carton and Ray Rossi, hosts of the "Jersey Guys" show, decided to focus their spout of bile on a Muslim gathering at the Hightstown High School celebrating the end of Ramadan. The went so far as to state that the school should be swept for bombs before anyone was allowed back in. Carton is quoted in the article, where even in the post-program spin he manages to sound like an asshole.

There are also some bonus quotes from another bigot in Cranbury. He actually tried to justify his position by citing separation of church and state. As if he wouldn't be the first one writing letters of condemnation if the school board declined a Christian group use of the facility for a Christmas pageant.

Thankfully our school board is more sane and stated that the facilities are free for use for anyone who fills out the paperwork and pays the fee.

02 December 2004

The latest project....

"Are you sure you can finish it by Christmas?"

I'm not going to divulge the nature of my latest home project. Instead, I will present the list of tools that I have employed so far:

  • Power drill (drill and driver bits)
  • Razor knife
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Channel lock pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Circular saw
  • Hand saw
  • Hammer
  • Crowbar
  • Ladder
  • Saber saw
  • Screwdrivers
  • Leathermen multi-tool
  • Spatulas
  • Two coat hangers that were untwisted and fashioned with small hooks.

At least that's the list so far....

Read this!

If you haven't already, you should read How Fucked Up Is That? A Blue Guide to Understanding the 2004 Elections.

24 November 2004

On the rails

I was thinking about this yesterday on the way home: I love taking the train to NYC and riding the subways. Call me crazy, but for me that's always part of the fun of going there.

Anyone who knows me knows I love trains. Just look under our tree at Christmas (at the ' HP train layout) or listen to the stories of our honeymoon (to New Orleans on the Crescent). Yet the infinitely less romantic NJ Transit train still intrigues me. So do the subways. There are so many layers of time down beneath it all.

All along the NE Corridor line you see old rails tracks off to one side or another, long abandoned with sizable trees growing between the ties. Sometimes there is even the rusting hulk of a railroad car covered in graffiti. There are these layers of lift bridge that you cross as you leave Newark Penn Station. Even the name, Penn Station, carries with it remnants of the past when this was the Pennsylvania Rail Road.

Exiting a subway one day I saw this door that was painted shut by at least 30 years worth of paint. You couldn't see the seams anymore, just the shape, as if the wall were made of clay and someone pressed the shape into it. Under the fluorescent lights you see old incandescent light sockets, some with bulbs still in them.

I wonder if those bulbs still work, or what's behind that door, or when those rails were used last and what that box car carried the last time it rode them.

Yesterday there was an interesting footnote to all of this. Trains were running slow out of Newark. Apparently there was a fire by the tunnel entrance, although I didn't see anything. As we crept along towards Secaucus, I saw a pair of old passenger cars. The first was the observation car Alexander Hamilton of the Morristown & Erie RR. The second was the Santa Fe diner named Epicurus. I figured these were just some old cars that they used as office space on work trains, or something similar; more aging remnants of time gone by. On a whim, I wrote down the names of each car and googled them.

Turns out, they're not aging remnants. The Alexander Hamilton is a restored lounge car used for excursion trips to Montreal. The Epicurus is likewise used for excursion trips to Albany, Niagara Falls, and the Hudson Valley by these folks. They hitch them to the back of Amtrak trains and take you on a luxury train trip.

Take your cruise ships. This is what I'd do!

I Killed Scrub and Other Stories

I just looked and it's been a week since I posted. Yow.

Starting with last Friday, I've been working in the city again. Much to my family's chagrin, I've been catching the 7:43 out of Princeton Junction. I've reserved my train meditation for another post....

It was an interesting location at lease, the UN independent Investigation into the Iraq Oil for Food Program. It was trivial filler work - configuring some Cisco network switches and helping with set up some PCs. Every so often you'd hear a snippet of work-related conversation from someone that made you want to eavesdrop, but I didn't.

The shed is really done now. The window sill is rebuilt, sort of. And I vacuumed the whole thing and straightened a lot. Now all the tools are put away. It's done. Except for that sticking door....

We also took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese for a birthday party. If you have never gone there, avoid it like the plague. It is a scary place. Fear it. They heap such adoration on this pizza hocking rat, whipping the children into a frenzy of anticipation for his eventual appearance. I was waiting for them to suddenly shout, "KNEEL! KNEEL BEFORE CHUCK E.!!!!"

Oh yeah, we played D&D Friday night. It was a good game with many wights and vampires (oh my). I managed to take over Sharon and Kathy's characters at one point. Then poor Scrub got left alone, hiding in the hall from the frightening vampires. Scrub was a pitiful little orc that Rob's character took pity on. Unfortunately for him, the hall was right where a pair of pissed of wights returned to the scene of the crime. Scrub didn't know what hit him....

Alas poor Scrub. We hardly knew ye.

17 November 2004

Two cool engines

In the news this week are two really neat new propulsion systems.

First, there is the scramjet powering NASA's hypersonic X-43A test place. The latest flight achieved Mach 9.6 breaking the world record for speed. The engine is cool in that it scoops oxygen from the air instead carrying it in a tank like other rocket engines. This saves a lot of weight. Of course, the engine only works at supersonic speeds, so it needs a rocket engine to get it started.

The second engine is, IMHO, even cooler. That's the ION drive used on the European Space Agency's SMART-1 probe that just entered lunar orbit. Solar panels generate electricity that ionizes the atoms of the xenon fuel. These xenon ions are then shot out the back of the craft, creating a very gentle push. The force is almost imperceptable, but unlike a rocket engine, it is also continuous. So the craft keeps moving faster and farther, until suddenly, you're at the moon. Even cooler is the fuel economy: 5,000,000 miles a gallon!

15 November 2004

Another death senence overturned

The Supreme Court overturned another Texas death penalty because jurors did not consider the killer's learning disability and other evidence. Only Scalia and Thomas dissented.

The ruling cited an similar ruling in the case of another Texas death sentence from five months ago. It is interesting to note that in that case, Rehnquist had joined Scalia and Thomas in opposing the decision. This time he chose to support the decision.

From what I can tell, the two cases are very similar, so Rehnquist's decision is curious to me. It could just be that he is keeping with precedent, or that the circumstances in this case differed slightly. But I wonder if facing his own mortality in the form of thyroid cancer might have had an effect.

This Old Shed

"See heah Nawm?" Tommy Silva gives the rafter a whack with his hammer. A cloud of sawdust issues forth. "Cahpentah ant damage. They leave all that sawdust. Looks like yer formah homeownah tried to repaya some of it. But ovah heah, that woods just plain rotted. We're gonna hafta rip this roof off and most of this plywood too. Looks like you'll need to replace this raftah heah. This is gonna take awhile."

For those of you who don't know, Tommy Silva is the recurring contractor on This Old House. His arrival at a home is an ill omen. The homeowner is about to find our exactly how fucked they really are as Tommy leads Norm through an odyssey insect damage, water damage, dry rot, code violations, etc., etc. On one episode, Tommy's visit led to the total demolition of the structure in question. Rebuilding it was cheaper.

I have been visited often by the spirit of Tommy Silva as I endeavored to repair the roof and soffit of my shed. It's been my own little home repair show. Call it This Old Shed. It began as a straightforward project that I told Sharon would only take a week, maybe less. Three weeks later, it's finally done. I tore the old roof off, along with three sheets of plywood that mostly disintegrated as I pulled it up. I had to cut between two and six feed off each rafter, and I replaced one entirely.

Some observations and tips:

  • When roofing, always use aluminum flasing around the edges. Why they didn't on this roof I'll never know. The damage that $20 worth of aluminum could have prevented!
  • Air nailers are cool! I would never undertake a project like this without one. I'd probably still be working on it.
  • Composting and recycling to the degree that we do leaves a lot of room at the curb when it comes to disposing of construction waste.
  • Who would have though that interlocking vinyl vented soffits could be so cool?
  • Did I mention that air nailers are cool?

And now it's finished. Pain in the ass that it was, it was still a rewarding experience. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out and that I was able to do it myself. Of course, there is still the mess to clean up....

10 November 2004

Attorney General: 2. Civil Liberties: 0

Bush continues his quest to take the "Justice" out of "Justice Department" by nominating Alberto Gonzales to replace John Ascroft. You may remember his February 2002 memo claiming the right to ignore anti-torture law and the Geneva Convention.

Boy, it's certainly reassuring to know that the Attorney General is pro-torture. More of that consistent leadership everyone loves so much.

Who needs one eclipse when you can have three

This is a neat image from Hubble - a triple eclipse. The moons Io, Ganymede, and Callisto were all casting shadows on the surface of Jupiter at the same time.

By the way, Jupiter is now visible in the morning sky. With a telescope or even a good set of binoculars, you make out one or more of the four Galilean moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) as tiny specks near the bright disk of the planet.

09 November 2004

Enough already, Darwin was right!

Here is the latest installment in the evolution debate. I think calling it a "debate" is itself ludicrous. A debate implies that both sides have substantive argument. There is a really good artice in November's National Geographic. You can find the details of the here. There is a really good quote regarding this whole "it's only a theory" discussion:

If you are skeptical by nature, unfamiliar with the terminology of science, and unaware of the overwhelming evidence, you might even be tempted to say that [Evolution]'s "just" a theory. In the same sense, relativity as described by Albert Einstein is "just" a theory. The notion that Earth orbits around the sun rather than vice versa, offered by Copernicus in 1543, is a theory. Continental drift is a theory. The existence, structure, and dynamics of atoms? Atomic theory. Even electricity is a theoretical construct, involving electrons, which are tiny units of charged mass that no one has ever seen. Each of these theories is an explanation that has been confirmed to such a degree, by observation and experiment, that knowledgeable experts accept it as fact. That's what scientists mean when they talk about a theory: not a dreamy and unreliable speculation, but an explanatory statement that fits the evidence.

Should we caution our children Einstein's is only one of many diverse opinions? That we're only mostly sure that the earth goes around the sun? That they should be sure to keep an open mind on the whole electricity thing? After all, it could be the souls of our dead pets that are really powering our TV....

In case you don't want to seek out a copy of the National Geographic article (but you should), the answer to the question "Was Darwin Wrong?" is "No. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming."

07 November 2004

Nicole's Show

Went to Nicoles openning yesterday. Sorry we were late.... Beware happy hour on an empty stomach. It was nice to get together with a bunch of friends.

And what a cool event to get together for. Check out Nicole's work. Not on her site is the Statue of Liberty and Abu Ghraib prisoner. Go to the gallery and see it. That's the one that's stuck with me.

Open letter to President Bush (final version)

Rob asked me if I actually sent the letter. I had not, as I wanted to tweak it further an elicit some comment. This is the version I sent to the president:

Dear Mr. President,

To begin with, congratulations on your victory. I will tell you up front that it is not the outcome I had hoped for. However, you have received the majority of both the electoral college and the popular vote. It is the latter in particular that leads me to accept your victory. I have often argued that the President should be chosen by a simple majority. It is clear that the electorate wants you in office, and I would be a hypocrite to dispute this.

I listened to your victory speech on November 3. It was a good speech, and I thought you did a nice job delivering it. I appreciate your kind words about John Kerry and his supporters. I want to thank your for offering to earn my trust and support. I will try to keep an open mind, but frankly I doubt your sincerity in this offer.

In 2000 you made a similar offer to those whose vote you did not receive. I felt your subsequent actions did not demonstrate any real desire on your part to reach across party lines. Your cabinet nominees included people like John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, and Gail Norton. In defining your energy policy, you met almost exclusively with energy corporation representatives, ignoring environmental interests. The majority of the tax cuts you proposed would go to the wealthiest among us.

In the wake of 9/11, you had the support of the nation and the world. We were united with you against a common enemy. But the agenda you pursued seemed destined to divide us again. You sought limits on our rights to privacy. You fought at every level the investigations of events leading up to 9/11. You invaded Iraq on dubious pretenses yet admit not a single mistake. You or members of your staff have questioned the patriotism of those that disagree with you.
Now, only one day after asking for my trust and support, your statements and agenda suggest to me that you want neither. It would seem that what your are really offering me is the option to join you in pursuing the agenda I voted against. I hope you will understand that this is highly unlikely.

Best regards,
Andrew - ---------

04 November 2004

Open letter to President Bush

Dear Mr. President,

To begin with, congratulations on your victory. It is not the outcome I had hoped for, as you can surmise from my other posts. However, you have received the majority of both the electoral college and more the popular vote. It is the latter in particular that leads me to accept your victory. I have often argued that the President should be chosen by a simple majority. Despite my certainty that a President Al Gore would also receive such a majority, it is clear that the electorate wants you in office and I would be a hypocrite to dispute this.

I listened to your victory speech yesterday. It was a good speech and I thought you did a nice job delivering it. I appreciate your kind words about John Kerry and his supporters. I want to thank your for offering to earn my support and deserve my trust. I will try to keep an open mind, but frankly I doubt your sincerity in this offer.

In 2000 you made a similar offer, but your subsequent actions did not show any desire on your part to honor that commitment. Within weeks you nominated John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, and Gail Norton to your cabinet. You met in secret with energy corporation representatives to forge your energy policy. You offered up tax cut after tax cut that benefited the wealthiest among us. This was not a good start.

I the wake of 9/11, you had the support of the nation and the world. We were united with you against a common enemy. You chose further a neo-conservative agenda under the umbrella of the War on Terror. You increased defense spending on unrelated programs like missile defense. You sought limits on our rights to privacy. You fought at every level to investigations of events leading up to 9/11. You invaded Iraq on dubious pretenses yet admit not a single mistake. You have often questioned the patriotism of those that would disagree with you.

Now, you want my trust and support. Given your track record so far, this is something I cannot give you outright. If you want to earn it, I will give you that chance. But it will not be easy.


03 November 2004

A majority of Americans

It would appear that George W. Bush has received the majority of the popular vote. This is not just more votes than any other candidate. It is more than all other candidates combined. For the first time in sixteen years, most voters want one candidate.

Rob just told me he is having a serious crisis of faith in our system. I am not. The system worked. The majority of voters chose the candidate they wanted.

My disillusionment is with my fellow countrymen.

02 November 2004

A trend reversed

One thing we can be sure of in this election is that voter turnout will be high. The folks working my polling location were discussing how busy it's been already at 10 AM. That's awesome. For a change, people truly care about who will be running this country.

Go Kerry!

01 November 2004

Just push the button....

Okay, the election is tomorrow. If you don't know who you're voting for, then you've just come out of a coma. I encourage you to go here.

Sharon's been saying more and more how much she wants this to be over. I think I'm getting that way myself. For me, it's not the constant ads, signs, headlines, etc., though I'm pretty sick of 'em. It's the uncertainty of the whole thing. I'm tired of being in limbo.

This is not to say I don't care about who wins. I believe this president is one of the worst in history. I won't go so far as to say he is the worst, as I believe that is an assessment historians should make fifty years from now. But he's in the running. Bigtime.

I liken my feeling on this election to that of someone waiting for results of an important medical test or a college application or an interview for a job you really want. The outcome will has serious consequences on the future. I know what the best and worst case scenarios are. Now, I want it to be over, so I can begin dealing with the outcome.

Of course, there is the looming specter of contested elections and Supreme Court decisions. The follow-up test, college wait-list, or second interview in my analogy. I can only hope it will be decisive and we can all move on.

28 October 2004

Curse you clouds!

The lunar eclipse was all but hidden from view. Oh well, see you in 2007....

27 October 2004

Supporting our troops

I watched Fahrenheit 911 yesterday (finally). The scenes of the war and the conversations with the troops really resonated with me. I also read this article in Newsweek, where soldiers refuse a dangerous mission deliver fuel because they knew it was contaminated. It all got me thinking about the troops and what it means to support them.

These people have voluntarily put their life on the line for our sake. In doing so, they put their trust in us to place them in harms way with good cause and only as a last resort. That's our responsibility to them. That's how we honor them.

This war is a breach of the convenant between the troops and those who enjoy the safety they provide. We do not support our troops when we fail to admit this war is a mistake. Doing so perpetuates this breach of their faith in us. In supporting the war in Iraq, we do further disservice to the troops.

So I'm doing what I can to support our troops. I'm voting for Kerry.

Last chance until 2007!

Catch the lunar eclipse while you can. This is the last one until 2007!

And please, oh please, vote and help ensure that this is the last total lunar eclipse to occur while Bush is in office!

22 October 2004

Absurd claim about Kerry

I came accross this in the "What's New" section of Snopes. There are dozens of these e-mails about both candidates. This struck me, though, because it suggests that Kerry is stifling opposing viewpoints at his rallies and suggests that voters watch out because that's how his presidency would be. As the Snopes article points out, Kerry did not stifle opposing voices. Instead, he engaged the hecklers. Of course, there is a presidential candidate who goes to great lengths to stifle any opposing voice at his rallies. Hmmm, who could that be? Here's the litany from the DNC.

07 October 2004

Got a monkey off my back!

Got a m-m-m-monkey off my back back back!

My indentured servitude is over, and it feels good!

If you haven't heard the story, it's like this. An early Homicide had Pendleton getting involved in some upper echelon politics. Gee thinks it's a bad idea, and warns Pendleton that "they eat their own." In the end, Pendleton learns the hard way that Gee was right. I was Frank in this particular scenario.

But I'm done now, and good riddence!

04 October 2004

They could have been contenders

In case you haven't heard, SpaceShipOne won the X Prize. But did you ever hear of Space Transport Corporation? If not, this is a good article on how their bid for the X prize went.

And you should definitely check out this. No, seriously, check it out. To entice you further, I suggest you watch this.

The debate - boy that felt good!

Okay, I'm voting for Kerry. You probably already know that. I have the lawn sign and everything. But I've gotta tell ya, that debate felt good.

I thought Eleanor Clift summed it up nicely in this commentary. I'm one of those Democrats that had, as she puts it, begun to drift away in despair." Kerry's performance couldn't have come at a better time. I feel like we've got a chance again.

A few of my favorite moments that I haven't seen quoted:

KERRY: I understand what the president is talking about, because I know what it means to lose people in combat. And the question, is it worth the cost, reminds me of my own thinking when I came back from fighting in that war.

And it reminds me that it is vital for us not to confuse the war, ever, with the warriors. That happened before.

And that's one of the reasons why I believe I can get this job done, because I am determined for those soldiers and for those families, for those kids who put their lives on the line.

That is noble. That's the most noble thing that anybody can do. And I want to make sure the outcome honors that nobility.

KERRY: I mean, we can remember when President Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis sent his secretary of state to Paris to meet with DeGaulle. And in the middle of he discussion, to tell them about the missiles in Cuba, he said, "Here, let me show you the photos." And DeGaulle waved them off and said, "No, no, no, no. The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me."

How many leaders in the world today would respond to us, as a result of what we've done, in that way?

KERRY: What I think troubles a lot of people in our country is that the president has just sort of described one kind of mistake. But what he has said is that, even knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, even knowing there was no imminent threat, even knowing there was no connection with al Qaeda, he would still have done everything the same way. Those are his words.

Now, I would not. So what I'm trying to do is just talk the truth to the American people and to the world. The truth is what good policy is based on. It's what leadership is based on.

The president says that I'm denigrating these troops. I have nothing but respect for the British, Tony Blair, and for what they've been willing to do.

But you can't tell me that when the most troops any other country has on the ground is Great Britain, with 8,300, and below that the four others are below 4,000, and below that, there isn't anybody out of the hundreds, that we have a genuine coalition to get this job done.

You can't tell me that on the day that we went into that war and it started -- it was principally the United States, the America and Great Britain and one or two others. That's it. And today, we are 90 percent of the casualties and 90 percent of the costs. And meanwhile, North Korea has got nuclear weapons. Talk about mixed messages. The president is the one that said, "We can't allow countries to get nuclear weapons." They have. I'll change that.

Who is this kid teaching my child?

Sharon and I attended Back to School Night last week.

It was Tuesday, when what was left of Jeane. We arrived about 10 minutes early and the place was jammed. There was no parking to be found; we ended up three blocks away. We had umbrellas, but they were little use in horizontal rain and the inch of water on the sidewalk. By the time we got there, we were drenched.

We made our way to the auditorium to listen to the opening presentation. The principal gave a very nice speech and proceeded to introduce the faculty. They announced my daughter's teacher and she stood up. Seeing her, I immediately thought to myself, "what is she, like twelve?" As everyone applauded, Sharon turned to me and said, "what is she, like twelve?"

We made our way to the classroom. Actually it's not a room, but a partitioned space in the geodesic domed building that is my daughters school. Geodesic domes were big in the sixties, I guess. I think it was supposed to promote a more open and flexible education space or something. Actually it's just noisy. But I digress.

In fact, the teacher is really nice, and my daughter likes her. She explained her class and the curriculum, and I think my daughter's in a good class. She's also been teaching at the school for five years. And, okay, she doesn't really look twelve.

But I'll bet they still ask her for ID.

28 September 2004

Mars Orbiter Spots Rover's Tracks from Space

This is just cool. I love pictures like this because they offer a whole new perspective on things.

Bill O’Reilly's viewers are actually less educated than Stewart's

Now I know that's shocking, but according to Nielsen Media Research, it's true. Read all about how Bill O'Reilly gets to eat his words.

21 September 2004

Without a barrel

The family and I went to visit friends in western New York this weekend. On Saturday, we went Niagara Falls and had a really fun day of it. We did some walking and rode the Maid of the Mist.

Among the factoids that they tell you about during the boat ride is the story of Roger Woodward. He went over the falls wearing only a life vest and lived. It sounds like an urban legend. In fact, it has mutated somewhat. When I was in Buffalo, most people told me it happened "a few years ago." In reality, it was in 1960.

My wife actually found the link when we were trying to figure out whether he was seriously injured. The narration on the boat only said he lived. It never said he was unharmed, leading us to wonder if he was paralyzed or something. In fact, he only suffered a mild concussion and is now a 50 year old father of three.

While searching the net for Woodward's story, though, I found this article. It quotes Woodward, but it's about Kirk Jones. According to Jones he was depressed and tried to end it by going over the falls. Things didn't go as planned, though. He survived virtually unhurt. He says he not as depressed now. Now that's extreme therapy.

On a side note, I got to take a spin through my old campus. It was a healthy bit of nostalgia and I thank everyone in the minivan for indulging me.

15 September 2004

I'm also a complete idiot and I VOTE TOO!

I was listening to WMMR this evening. For those who don't know, in the evenings it's now Dee Snyder Radio, hosted by Mr. Snyder himself. He took a call from a listener who was upset that words like whore and crap were edited out of songs that had played. Of course it's entirely too appropriate for Dee Snyder to be having this conversation, but I digress.

The gist of the conversation that recent FCC crackdowns have the radio stations afraid of their own shadows. Mr. Snyder commented that the FCC is way overboard and needs to be reigned in.

This is when the caller said, "Man, I hate these damn liberals!"

(I now pause to bow my head and shake it in sad bewilderment.)

Zero-gravity flights go mainstream

Okay, this is clearly out of my price range. But man would it be cool!

07 September 2004

The unwinnable war

This is yet another op-ed piece that hits the nail right on the head.

I'm a complete idiot and I VOTE.

Last night Sharon and I were channel surfing. We came across a quiz show on the Game Show Network. It was relatively new; the set was all smoked glass and focused spots a la Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The contestant was asked the following question:

Who held the offices of Vice President and President of the United
States, but was never elected to those offices?

After pondering this question for a quite some time, the contestant responded, "Colin Powell."

Now I know why Bush stands a good chance of being re-elected.

25 August 2004

It's alive! IT'S ALIVE!

Finally, finally, finally, finally the site is live.

I have alluded to this project in several posts, including the first one. It's been a ugly process. There was serious feature creep. Nothing worked right the first time. No feature was easy to add. Etc., etc., etc. But it's live. Maybe, just maybe, there is light at the end of this tunnel.

Now it's on to documentation. If you use Visual Studio and haven't seen NDoc, you'll want to. It builds MSDN-style compiled help files from the XML comments in your code. Sure all you J2EE people will scoff and tell me JavaDoc had this years ago, and this is just another case of MS playing catch-up, but I've used JavaDoc and this is way better. And just like JavaDoc, it's Free!

Anyway, on with the commenting....

09 August 2004

Same code. Different defect.

No luck from Rob lending elequence to medicinal maggots, so they've hatched into bugs. Software bugs, to be precise.

Mistakes, oversights, and undocumented features infest the code like larvae, waiting to burst forth during testing as Level 1 defects that interrupt the testers and postpone the launch.

I'm taking a little refuge in the blog, hiding out from the exasperating issues, the onerous products, and one seriously unrelenting deadline. I have Boston is on the jukebox. Styx is probably next. Sometimes you need the old standards....

But I'll need to sleep sometime, so I guess break's over....

03 August 2004

People are begging to try maggots

You might not want to read the following article about medicinal maggots if such things wig you out. Turns out they can clean out an infected wound when surgery won't do it. One woman begged for the treatment when surgeons wanted to amputate her foot. She recovered fully. The article also mentions recent successes with leeches. It's an all around good year for creepy stuff.

There's a lesson in here somewhere. Something about finding better natural solutions to our problems if we're willing to look for them. If I wasn't so tired I might be able to put it more eloquently. Maybe Rob will read this and come up with something better....

28 July 2004

Dude, where's my vote?

Here's a surprise. The Associated press reports that Some Fla. voting records lost in computer crash. Wow! Who would have thunk?!

As a software engineer, I especially like the following snippet:

State election officers say manual recounts are not needed since the machines tell each voter if they are skipping a race, known as an undervote, and will not let them vote twice for the same race, known as an overvote. The officials also maintain that the computer systems running the machines can be trusted to count the votes accurately as they're cast, and give the final numbers when needed.
I don't know where to start with a quote like this.

ATMs record each transaction on a paper tape inside the system. You can hear it printing if you listen. ATM manufactuers (e.g Diebold) are the ones building the voting machines. Clearly they believe a paper trail important when handling all that money.

Yet when you start handling votes, suddenly we don't need all that pesky paper? Please. The system is perfect? Fool-proof? Nothing can go wrong? Are you nuts?!

22 July 2004

Orders of magnitude

Yesterday's news reported the number of U.S. fatalities reached 900. We've since passed that.
Combined military losses have passed 1000.
Iraqi civilian casualties number somewhere between 11,252 and 13,213 (as of today).

21 July 2004

Pants on fire

Yay Ben Cohen! I hope this comes to my town.

19 July 2004

Okay, let me get this straight...

Today Bush answered questions about 9-11 commission reports that Iran provided safe passage for 9-11 terrorists on their way out of Afganastan. He mentions his concerns about their "nuculer" weapons program, totalitarian government, and harboring of high-level al-Qaida operatives. But he wants to get all the facts straight, first.

How can he claim that Iraq was a more significant threat?

Mind you, I don't think we should be attacking Iran or anything like that. I just find it ridiculous that Bush can talk about the changes Iran's government needs to make, the need to get all the facts straight before commenting, etc. These all suggest a slow and careful approach to Iran, there's no sense of urgency.

Yet he can still defend the Iraq war and justify its timing?!

16 July 2004

TMBG in Newsweek

Glad to see TMBG get some press. If you haven't been to their site, you should. Also check out the video the new single “Experimental Film,” c/o of the folks at Homestar Runner.

15 July 2004

I can see you....

You might have already heard of this. I seem to remember an NPR piece that included the reporter speaking from inside. Don't you just want to stand outside mouthing, "I can see you!"

14 July 2004

Pete Conrad and Surveyor 3

I just thought this was cool. I've seen the picture before in the NASA archive, but it still intrigues me. It's something about being in such a remote, forbidding place, yet there are relics of your own civilization there....

13 July 2004

Drinking and shotguns in your pants don't mix (in case you weren't aware)

I'm not sure if this is funny or just sad.

Tests were continuing to learn if Walker would be left infertile
Let's hope so.

12 July 2004

Election day worries? I'll say...

Last week I got a little nervous when the Bush administration began talking up the possibility of terrorists disruption the election. Now I read this.

Here's a quote:

DeForest B. Soaries Jr., chairman of the newly created U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Soaries noted that, while a primary election in New York on September 11, 2001, was quickly suspended by that state's Board of Elections after the attacks that morning, "the federal government has no agency that has the statutory authority to cancel and reschedule a federal election." Soaries, a Bush appointee who two years ago was an unsuccessful GOP candidate for Congress, wants Ridge to seek emergency legislation from Congress empowering his agency to make such a call.

Should any arm of government be given the power to postpone an election that could unseat it?!

Note that want to "determine what steps need to be taken to secure the election." Consider the following from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

secure \Se*cure"\, v. t.
1. To make safe; to relieve from apprehensions of, or exposure to, danger; to guard; to protect.
2. To put beyond hazard of losing or of not receiving; to make certain; to assure; to insure;

Which definition do you think they mean?

11 July 2004

Iridium flare!

The name may sound like something bad that's about to happen to the Enterprise, but it's actually a really cool phenomenom (do-dooo do do-do). The highly polished antenna on the Iridium sattelite reflects the sun and you see a really bright flash in the sky. Here's the gory details.
So thanks to the totally cool Heavens Above, you can now find out exactly when one will occur in your neck of the woods. The brightest flares are ~25 times brighter than Venus at it's brightest. If you saw one unexpectedly, you might think the invasion was beginning....

As if the flare was't enough, we also caught the ISS passing overhead about 15 minutes later. It passed almost directly overhead and was very bright. Sharon thought it was a plane at first....

Even if you're not a geek, it's these are worth checking out, because they look COOL!

09 July 2004

Timing is everything

Read the morning news today and found this. Granted it's a partisan source.
But take yesterday's terror alert. I couldn't see any startling new details in the announcement. I wonder what important event precipitated that announcement?
Is anyone else a little chilled when the White House starts hyping possible al-Qaida disruptions of the November elections? Contingency planning in case W continues to slide in the polls?

08 July 2004

This too shall pass...

It's 11:20 and my plan was to respond to Rob's post about Cheney and fuck. (Yes, I said it, and I'm proud. After all, Dick is)

But I've been sucked in and for reasons unknown feel compelled to type here. No, the reason is I'm hiding from really horrid code. It's what I called "Heart of Darkness" code. You come out of it with sunken eyes muttering "The horror, the horror...." I guess that's apropos right now.

Anyway, I must return to the stone around my neck that is this deadline. Or maybe it's better described as the stone lodged in my urinary tract that slowly working it's way out.

This too shall pass....