This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



April 2004

Putrid Rotting Fruit

Let me tell you a story about Harvey the Bug, and of Rotting Fruit.

In 1995 or so my mom gave me a little balancing bird thing she brought back from one of her trips to Africa. I put it on my mantle. It was made of wood. A little later, I noticed a hole in the base. A few days later I saw what was making it! A little bug, shaped and sized sort of like a firefly but a wood eater. We named it Harvey.

When it came time for me to move to the Washington DC area from Pittsburgh, I carefully put the piece of wood (along with Harvey) in an old Ritz cracker metal box. And then took him to DC in Marilyn’s car. Marilyn did not like having a bug in the car. In DC, I kept the box open, and then moved it to Virginia. But unlike when I had been in Pittsburgh before the move, I never saw the bug.

After a couple months of no signs of life, I closed up and sealed the box, feeling sad.

Then, almost a year later, it was time to move again, this time to New Jersey, I had a bunch of friends over to pack and help me move. Rebecca picks up the Ritz box, starts to say “What is in here?” but before I can answer she opens the box. It opens suddenly, and a cloud of white powder explodes out onto her face. It was sawdust! Harvey had been alive, and had eaten away much more of the wood! Poor Harvey had been locked inside the sealed box, and ate and ate like crazy, but couldn’t escape, and ran out of air! Poor Harvey, I had killed Harvey! I felt aweful!

But Rebecca did not feel concerned about Harvey at all. She was all upset because she had just inhaled a cloudfull of sawdust, bug droppings and perhaps bug parts and bug eggs. Which I suppose I could understand… but HARVEY WAS DEAD! And I had killed Harvey! It was sad.

I went ahead and reshut the box and took it to New Jersey. I was hoping for some signs of life. Perhaps Harvey was still in there, or maybe Harvey had babies. I watched for a couple of months. No sign of life at all. I bought a fishbowl so I could see better, and carefully moved Harvey’s piece of wood into the fishbowl. I think I may have seen Harvey’s body. Once again, it was sad.

But a few months later of no life, and I had given up. Someone suggested feeding Harvey though. Well, Harvey had eaten wood, but I had some apples and a banana. I put them in the jar.

Several months later the fruit had started to rot. The banana was showing a hard woody core. I thought that was neat. I put some more fruit in. A year later the fruit was just a big puddle of dark brown liquid. Except the wood from the banana that was sticking up.

So I put more fruit in. Every year or so I’d add a little more fruit.

Oh, I’d moved it to my balcony, and had it sealed with saran wrap and a plate. Whenever I added more fruit, the smell would almost kill me. It was horrid.

Last year when I moved, I carefully moved the fish bowl with the rotting fruit to my new house, and put it in the basement. The seal came lose during the drive and I almost couldn’t keep my lunch with the smell, but I made it.

Ron had a party over the summer. It was a BBQ. I couldn’t make it. He promised to save me a hamburger though. Several months later in September I got a package from Ron for my birthday. I opened it up. Along with some videos and such, there was a wrapped up wad of aluminum foil. Shaped like a cookie. I opened it up. Chocolate Chip Cookies! Cool! Then a couple of flies flew up from it. Then I noticed it was fuzzy. Then I noticed it was not cookies. It was a hamburger. From Ron’s barbeque. Four months earlier. Then I smelled it. Then I saw more bugs moving in it.

My stomach was not liking me.

But I had some presence of mind! I ran to the basement and added it to the bowl of rotting fruit! At this point, almost 7 years since I had begun the jar, and almost 9 nice I had gotten Harvey, the fish bowl was about half full of a thick goey liquid the color of cola, but with thick gooey stuff floating in it, sometimes with shapes suggestive of the original fruit, sometimes not. I opened it up, I added the hamburger, I closed it back up… I ran to the bathroom to dry heave for a few minutes. I felt sick for days later.

In any case, more time goes by. I start dating Brandy. I get a job in Florida. I put the house on the market. Showings are due to start soon. I want to hide the rotting fruit. Brandy wants it gone.

A few days before the first showings I am cleaning out the basement, and with a heavy heart, I “took care of” the bowl of rotting fruit, with Harvey still somewhere at the bottom.

When I sent out invites to my house warming / cooling party, Jon from work, who had heard about the bowl, was all excited about seeing the bowl. He thought it could entertain his kids. In email, Jon asked about it. Brandy responded that it was gone. Jon expressed shock and surprise and was very disapointed. I said that it had been a very very sad day.

Brandy responded with:

Okay um, let’s think about this for a moment:

Warm body next to you at night.
Rotting fruit.
Warm body. Snuggles.
Putrid rotting fruit.
Warm body. Cookies.

You decide.

I miss Harvey. I miss the rotting fruit. It was a very Sam thing to have in my basement. On the other hand, I think Brandy summarized the situation nicely.

The House is Cold

Well, the house is cold. Because after the party Brandy for some reason decided she needed to open all the windows. And the temperature outside dropped into the 50’s. So it got really cold inside for a day or so before I realized and turned up the heat.

In any case, my “house warming / cooling” party came off really well. Brandy spent all week making food and getting things ready and did an awesome job. I feel bad because I was in Florida all week and then with the plane delays and such, I basically didn’t end up helping at all expect for some of the last minute final things.

Rebecca mentioned coming up on her blog…

House Cooling

I’ll be headed to Philadelphia in a couple hours for Sam’s House Cooling Party. After that, it’ll be official, my best quasi-local friend has left me for a job in Florida. Florida ain’t local. I don’t even much care for Florida. Perhaps I’ll put an ad out for a new quasi-local friend: “Must live within four hour driving distance. …

Awww…. I’m sorry for leaving you Rebecca, but I thank you and Chris very much for making the drive up for the party. You were the only long-distance folks to make it, and I really appreciate it. Brandy and I felt bad we couldn’t do anything in the morning before you left… our bad.

We had a good turnout. In addition to Rebecca dnd Chris, Melanie and her husband came, Kelly and her boyfriend. Joy and her husband, Victor and his newlywed wife (two weeks!), Jon and his wife, Aly and his wife and 10 month old son, Emilie and of course Brandy’s mom Leslie. Not too bad for a first try at a party!

I want to thank everybody for coming. I had a good time, and was good to see all of you. And seeing people from different contexts together was interesting! :-) Thanks again!

I’ll probably have another one six months or so after we get settled into a perminant place in Florida. So see you all there! :-)

Off Tune

Well, the flight back on Song wasn’t quite as nice as the trip down there. Let’s see…

* The flight was overbooked and they had to bribe people to stay in Orlando (in retrospect, might have been a good idea.)
* The flight was super full, so they restricted people to one carry on, and I had to check my second bag.
* Once on the plane and on the taxiway, we were told there was a hold of traffic into Newark because of too much air traffic. Should be lifted “in just a few minutes”.
* Then we were told it would be another 30 minutes until there was news.
* Then another 30 minutes.
* Then another. They started talking about going back to the gate.
* They revealed it hadn’t just been traffic, but it was related to weather as well. Severe weather over the Washington area was blocking traffic from the south.
* Then the hold was lifted, and within minutes we took off. Yea!
* The GPS thingy on the plane worked to say where we were and stuff, but the “course” track it showed had us going out over the Atlantic and to the South instead of Newark! Ouch! That worried me for a little while, but then it appeared we were actually traveling in the right direction, albiet a bit further to the west to try to avoid what was left of the storms.
* The GPS also had a world map screen that showed areas of light and darkness. It was completely wrong. The sun was over the wrong place, and it would change every time it came up. Sometimes it said it was bright and sunny outside, other times it said it was the middle of the night. It was neither, we were right around sunset. This was annoying.
* Then they didn’t actually give the “electronic devices are OK” message when we hit 10K feet and they turned off the seatbelt lights. I figured it was OK, but they hadn’t actually said like they usually do. I finally got the laptop out after the meal service. I figured by then it was definatley OK.
* Then, as we were flying over Delaware, and due to begin decending very soon, the Captain came on the intercom and said that we had lost the weather radar, and because there were still storms between us and Newark, it was not safe to continue, and they would be diverting to Washington Dulles instead.
* So we made a sharp turn to the left and started decending quickly. Shortly we were at Dulles.
* (Oh, we traveled directly over Frederick, MD where I went to High School, which was a real hoot.)
* So, when we first landed they told us they would keep us on the plan awhile until they figured out what to do with us.
* After about 20 minutes, they drove us to a gate. The captain came on and said there was another plane at the airport and they were just going to move all of us to the new plane and keep going.
* When we got off, they annouced that the plane wasn’t quite ready, and we’d have to wait about an hour for it.
* So we all got off and sat at the gate. I connected and logged in real quick and send and recieved a little bit of email. They were giving out free snacks and soda, but I was busy with my laptop, so I didn’t get any.
* Then they came on the speakers and announced that there would not be a flight after all. As they explained, the plane was now here, but there was no longer any crew to fly it. The crew that had brought us from Orlando had intended to fly us the rest of the way, but because of the delays, they would now be beyond the manditory maximum daily time for a flight crew, and so would not be allowed to fly us anywhere.
* So they would get us all hotels and send us out on a flight first thing in the morning.
* I was at Dulles, only a few miles from Rebecca’s place. I considered contacting them and seeing if I could juist crash there and then catch a ride with them the next day to my place, since they were coming for my party anyway. But it was already late, and I still had to wait in line to be processed and get my bags and all that stuff. And plus, there was a bunch of stuff I needed to do in the morning, and if I went with Rebecca then I would get there just before the party, which would be too late. (And as it turned out, Rebecca and Chris were not around anyway…)
* I also considered the possibility of renting a car and driving home. But the airline could not give me a voucher for that, although they said they might be able to reimburse me if I called later, although they could not say for sure. And, as it turned out, I was tapped out and had no available money. I had a check in my pocket, but that would do me no good until I could deposit it. So I had to wait.
* So I stood in line another 40 minutes or so to get my hotel voucher, and a little stub saying I was on an 8:30 AM flight along with the rest of the people on the plane. (A plane just for us it seems, they put the whole plane on it.)
* Then it was off to get luggage. Dulles is a mess. They are constructing it. Looks really aweful.
* Anyway, got to luggage. A few bags came off the thing, but not mine. Along with a couple of other passengers, we started hunting for the Delta office. Took about 15 minutes to find it, and there were our bags.
* OK, off to the shuttle to the Hotel. The person next to me in line had gotten the Hilton. I had gotten Days Inn. I was not thrilled by that possibility.
* Got to the places where the hotel shuttles came. There were bunches of people from our flight waiting. Stood there maybe 10 minutes.
* Then one of the passangers from our flight came out of the terminal and started walking toward the cabs, and bellowed loudly “TO ANYBODY WAITING FOR THE DAYS INN SHUTTLE, THERE IS NO DAYS INN SHUTTLE, THEY DO NOT HAVE A DRIVER. THERE IS NO SHUTTLE COMING!!!!”. He then proceeded to get on a cab.
* I immediately headed to the cab as well. Was told the airline would NOT be covering the cab. It was $10. I split it with another passenger.
* When we got there, I was relieved to see it was not a Days Inn, it was a Days Hotel, and quite a bit nicer. Of course, I’d only have a five hour stay or so, so it didn’t really matter, a bed was a bed.
* Got checked in. Got upstairs. Talked to Brandy a bit. Lets talk about Brandy a little.

* I had called her at about 5:30 when we were boarding the plane in Orlando.
* Then again several times while we were waiting on the Taxiway to let her know of the delays and that we were finally leaving close to 8 PM. (We were supposed to get to Newark at 8:45 originally.)
* Then I had next called her when I landed at Dulles. She was almost at Newark and had Amy with her, and was short of cash. Thinking we were going to continue on and be in Newakr just a little later, she continued on to the airport.
* Then I called when it was clear we would not be coming that night. Brandy was very very unhappy. Amy was acting out. Brandy wasn’t sure she evben had enough to get the car out of parking. I told her to try to get home. Then the battery on her phone died.
* I called her again once I was on the way to the hotel. She had just gotten home. She had made it. She was very tired, and very upset that I wasn’t home yet, and that there was still lots to do for the party.
* Once checked in at the hotel, I talked to Brandy a bit more, then we both headed to sleep. It was after 2 AM at this point.

* OK, back to me. Wake up call at 5 AM. Just 3 hours of sleep. I fell back asleep. Woke up to my own alarm clock on the 4th snooze at 5:50 AM. I had intended to take the 6 AM shuttle back to the airport, because they had said to be back at the airport by 7 AM. I missed that. But the 6:30 would be fine if I hurried.
* I made it to the 6:30 shuttle with about 30 seconds to spare. I was the next to last person on the bus.
* When we got to the gates, the electronic check in was NOT recognizing anybody from our flight. There were a bunch of mad people. I was the second one to check that it didn’t work, and then we all headed to the regular peopled check in.
* They got us in fine.
* I got through security with no issues.
* I got to the gate by 7:05 AM.
* I had very little cash, so no breakfast for me.
* I sat down to log on and do email and blog this.
* The flight was supposed to be at 8:30.
* As of 8:00, we did not actually have a plane.
* At about 8:15, we got a plane. It pulled up at the gate. Several people thought that by the number on the plane it was the same plane as last night. I couldn’t say. Perhaps they fixed the radar over night. Or perhaps they just don’t care any more because all the storms are gone.
* As of 8:20, just a couple minutes ago, they announced we still did not have a crew. They said the crew was on their way from their homes in the area, but were not here yet.
* They say as soon as the crew arrives and goes through their procedures.
* They are hoping we might leave at 9 AM.
* There is some big guy with a goatee now completely going off on the people at the counter and demanding action and such. “We need something done NOW!!!” And screaming at them at the top of his lungs. EVerybody else is waiting patiently. Those people at the counter can’t do anything. It is beyond their power. They are offering him food vouchers and stuff, but he isn’t satisfied. They are telling him to call customer service for more to try to get refunds and such.
* Now more people are yelling that they want refunds and such and that we need something. The people at the gate are listening politely, but aren’t actually doing anything. We’ll see if the big loud guy gets us anything. I’m content to just wait. They will get us to Newark one way or another. Late, yes. Like 14 hours or 15 hours late, but we’ll get there. And hey, would I rather have had them fly through a storm without all the safety instruments and risk all our lives? NO!
* Anyway, that brings us to the present. I’m going to go ahead and post the blog entry so I am sure to get it off over this SLOW cell phone connection I am on before they actually do board us.
* That could be awhile though. I’m settling in. Time to call Brandy with another update as soon as I post this.

Fun stuff! Go Song!

It wasn’t me in that tree!

I swear it wasn’t me!

Man falls from tree at Loxahatchee nudist community
(Andrew Marra, Palm Beach Post)

A man at the Sun Sport Gardens nudist community in Loxahatchee was flown to St. Mary’s Medical Center this morning after falling 20 feet from a tree… It was unclear what the man was doing in the tree.

Still Chalabi?

After all the bad press Chalabi got before the war started, during it and since, the fact that he is still a major player, and may well end up in charge after June 30th. I hope those who will decide exactly who ends up in the government we hand over power to in a month in a half have some sense and don’t let this guy be in charge, but given past history, I have no faith whatsoever that will happen. We will probably end up doing exactly the WRONG thing.

Interesting posting by Juan Cole, one of the expert speakers in front of recent Senate hearings along with Richard Perle, one of Chalabi’s big pushers in the past.

Perle at the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
(Juan Cole, Informed Consent)

It is deeply shameful that Perle is still pushing Chalabi, and may well succeed in installing him. Chalabi is wanted for embezzling $300 million from a Jordanian bank. He cannot account for millions of US government money given him from 1992 to 1996. He was flown into Iraq by the Pentagon (Perle was on the Defense Advisory Board, a civilian oversight committee for the Pentagon) with a thousand of his militiamen. The US military handed over to Chalabi, a private citizen, the Baath intelligence files that showed who had been taking money from Saddam, giving Chalabi the ability to blackmail large numbers of Iraqi and regional actors. It was Chalabi who insisted that the Iraqi army be disbanded, and Perle almost certainly was an intermediary for that stupid decision. It was Chalabi who insisted on blacklisting virtually all Baath Party members, even if they had been guilty of no crimes, effectively marginalizing all the Sunni Iraqi technocrats who could compete with him for power. It was Chalabi who finagled his way onto the Interim Governing Council even though he has no grassroots support (only 0.2 percent of Iraqis say they trust him).

One Month

Just wanted to note in passing that as of today, I’ve been at my new position at Accent for one month. It has gone by pretty quickly. I am still adapting and learning and slowly taking up more and more of my position, but it is good so far. I am enjoying it, and eager to be fully tasked and completely busy. That probably won’t be possible until I’m 100% in Florida, but it is getting more and more each week as I become more familiar with the place, the people and the product. This is a good move.

I’m anxious to get on with it though. Get the place up there sold. Get Amy and Brandy down here. And have someplace down here to live. Probably something temporary and rented at first (maybe even from Ivan!) but then eventually a brand new perminant place down here.

This going back and forth gets old quickly. But it will have to continue in one form or another until the end of Amy’s school year in early June. After that, one way or another, we should be down here all the time.

So, one month down… many more to come…

Guantanamo at SCOTUS

The Supremes heard the case of the people at Guantanamo today. The Op-Ed below makes some of the most relevant points I think. Fundamentally, a person is a person is a person. Citizenship should not matter for most things. Making double standards like that is just asking for the reverse to be done to us at some point in the future. It is bad precident. Not to mention just plain wrong. Citizen or not, there should NEVER be a situation in a controled environment (perhaps exceptions for “heat of the situation” in the middle of a raging battle) when a person has no mechanism whatsoever to appeal their situation to an independant body. It is fundamental to the notion of checks and balances and preservation of basic human rights.

America’s Prisoners, American Rights
(David Cole, New York Times)

All three branches of government have treated citizenship as a central issue. The Bush administration says that it can hold the foreign detainees, most of whom were captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan, without any legal limitations because they are noncitizens held outside American borders. As such, it argues, they have no constitutional rights and no standing in American courts to challenge their detentions. […] These suggestions that noncitizens have less right to be free than citizens are ill advised. Some provisions of the Constitution do explicitly limit their protections to United States citizens — the right to vote and the right to run for Congress or president, for example. The Bill of Rights, however, does not distinguish between citizens and noncitizens. It extends its protections in universal language, to “persons,” “people” or “the accused.” The framers considered these rights to be God-given natural rights, and God didn’t give them only to persons holding American passports.

(via TalkLeft)

Starving Rat Diet

1500 or so calories a day for the “drastically reduced intake” mode of eating that adds like 50% to the life span of rats. I could probably do that. Would it be OK if it was 100% pizza and potato chips? How little is 1500 a day anyway? I’m not up on how many calories things have, other than knowing a can of CocaCola has 110. :-) Perhaps I’ll try this for the rest of the day.

So far today I’ve gone to Friday’s (at about 0130 UTC) and had two or three iced teas, a french onion soup, and a lemon chicken scaloppine. That’s all I’ve had so far today. Am I already over the 1500? Oops!

Low-calorie diet reduces stroke, heart attack risk: study
(AFP on ChannelNewsAsia)

“We don’t know how long each individual actually will end up living, but they certainly have a much longer life expectancy than average because they’re most likely not going to die from a heart attack, stroke or diabetes,” Holloszy said. […] The low-calorie diet group consumed 1,100 to 1,950 calories per day, depending on individuals’ height, weight and gender. Of the calories, 26 percent consisted of protein, 28 percent fat and 46 percent complex carbohydrates.

(via Google News)

Morphing of Content Management

Brice points out how many web content management vendors are moving into areas without the “web” in the name to deal with more traditional document management issues. This definately matches trends I have seen in my own career.

Document Management, Digital Asset Management, Content Management, Web Content Management, Knowledge Management… all significantly overlap each other. It is natural that companies that start in one area as their specialty try to branch out into the others as they grow. I question if in the end this usually leads to better more useful products, or if it just muddles the focus of the companies trying to do everything.

Enron High-jacked Enterprise Content Management
(Brice Dunwoodie, CMSwire)

To put things succinctly, earlier today the point was made by Tony Byrne of CMSWatch that ECM purchases are now made by a completely different area of the organization. What used to be IT’s domain has now fallen under corporate governance, legal, and finance.

Vendors who made their name selling enterprise web content management tools are now talking document management, records management, email management, Sarbanes-Oxley, compliance, etc.

This is an entirely different ball game.

Iraq in the 20s

Found this while surfing while I should be sleeping. Op-Ed in the NYT from Sunday pointing out similarities between the current Iraq situation and the British occupation of Iraq in the 1920’s. Certainly not a part of history I am very familiar with… but it is very relevant here. As Prof Ferguson says, it is certainly a much better comparison than Vietnam or other things that have been brought up lately. A good history lesson would probably be useful here.

The Last Iraqi Insurgency
(Niall Ferguson, New York Times)

From Ted Kennedy to the cover of Newsweek, we are being warned that Iraq has turned into a quagmire, George W. Bush’s Vietnam. Learning from history is well and good, but such talk illustrates the dangers of learning from the wrong history. To understand what is going on in Iraq today, Americans need to go back to 1920, not 1970. And they need to get over the American inhibition about learning from non-American history.

(via Insults Unpunished)