Archives: September 2004

Sat 25 Sep 2004

Sleepy Night

Brandy and Amy are both asleep on the couch next to where I am set up. We lost power for a few times, but just for a few seconds each. We're back up for the moment, but who knows for how long. The weather people on TV are reporting from Melbourne and it looks pretty bad. Horizontal wind and all that. From in here, I can't see out at all since everything is plywooded. It is very frustrating. I want to go look outside, but am refraining. The noise comes and goes. But for the most part, it is there all the time. But just like a normal storm almost. And then it whistles really loud for a minute or two...

It is in the process of making landfall right now. We'll have a few more hours of this... oooo... nother power flicker. Lets get this thing out...

Abulsme - Sat, 25 Sep 2004, 20:18:53 PDT
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We're all inside now. There is just a constant rumble from outside. And flapping from the plastic we put on the windows before we had the plywood to put up. I can feel the pressure changes. It feels like rapidly going up on a plane or a high rise elevator. Haven't looked outside in about an hour. Back then it was dark. The neighbor was walking a little yippy dog that looked like it should just blow away in the wind, but it was still on the ground. The streetlights were still on so we could see. The trees were wipping all around.

We're still on the outer edges. Melbourne radar here. That is a live URL, so it isn't just the radar when I am posting, it is the radar whenever you look. As I write, you can clearly see the eye of the storm on the radar, just southeast of Fort Pierce. Melbourne is on the very outer edges of the rain bands, in light blue. Nothing heavy yet. But there are some yellow and orange bands coming. How bad we get will end up on just when it turns I guess. The worst areas should be a little south of us, but sounds like we're still in for a bunch worse before it gets better.

Right now it isn't that bad. Just very windy. And the pressure. It is giving me a big headache and my ears hurt. And I'm a little tired. Brandy is taking a nap. I might sometime soon too.

Or not.

Abulsme - Sat, 25 Sep 2004, 18:38:34 PDT
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Orange World

We decided to walk Princely one last time before the weather got really bad. Went outside. Everything was orange tinted and the clouds were low and flying by overhead at a high rate of speed. While we were out there the winds picked way up. The trees were going nuts. Some of the trunks were swaying as well as the branches. It was getting nuts. And it is just starting!

We just brought in the satellite dish and are now watching a small portable TV on antenna. It'll stay that way through the night. So anyway, here we go I guess! There are tornado warnings off and on. And the main winds of the hurricane are coming. Latest maps on the local news show where we are getting about 100 mph winds when it gets to the worst part. Dunno.

We're slowly consolidating into the center rooms in the house. Expect the electric to go any time. According to the TV some parts of the county are already without power. But we have batteries! :-)

More updates when I can... they say on TV the winds in Melbourne are now 45 mph. They say the sky is purple though. Maybe. It was orange a few minutes ago though! :-)

About 3.5 hours until landfall...

Abulsme - Sat, 25 Sep 2004, 16:25:11 PDT
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Just a Little Breeze

Starting to get breezy. You could fly a nice kite with this. We resecured a couple things, moved some boxes around and are basically getting settled in for the storm. Brandy is making cookies. I'm going to clean out my car and bring in the GPS and stuff. Unfortunately, only one of the three cars can be in the garage. The other two will have to take their chances.

After the car stuff, I think that is the last outdoor stuff we're going to be attempting barring anything unexpected. Then we'll hunker down and watch the live coverage of the storm while eating cookies and such until the power goes out. After that, we'll play chess by candlelight while listening to the radio and the small battery powered TV... and eat cookies.

This one is going to be about as bad as Frances. For Frances we ran to New Orleans. For some reason this time we are still here. Gulp. Seems everybody still is. Nobody is leaving. (And they haven't actually called for evacuation of our specific location, just the barrier islands near here and mobile homes and the like.) Oh well. We'll be OK I think. But the next 24 hours are going to probably get a bit hairy!

Local noon news just came on. Channel 9 out of Orlando. Chief Weather Dude Tom Terry. I quote his opening statement...

This storm is going to be serious. We've already talked a lot about that. This storm is:

#1: About the same size as Frances with the windfield.
#2: This storm is going to be stronger than Frances.
#3: This storm is going to make landfall a little further North than where Frances hit.
Yummy! It is still forecast to make landfall 20 or 30 miles south of us. That is actually a little further away than they were forecasting yesterday, when they were putting landfall right near us. They are saying it may strengthen to a Cat 4 too. But they have it further south, which is good. But it could still shift.

Oh well, time to clean that car. And eat cookies.

Abulsme - Sat, 25 Sep 2004, 08:55:29 PDT
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Fri 24 Sep 2004

May 2004 Top Ten!!

The winners found out back on June 30th, but now the results can be posted! Woo! Here is the May 2004 Email Top Ten!

May 2004

Once again in May nobody was actively attempting to win. The usual players did their usual things. Brandy wins again easily. The rest put in respectable performances although overall volume is down since I was very busy in May on issues relating to moving and such, so was not keeping up on answering email at all.

Abulsme - Fri, 24 Sep 2004, 19:42:36 PDT
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Darkflash: Chuck

Seems like an appropriate time to do another Darkflash... this is what I sent out to friends and family on August 13, 2004 at 17:10 UTC when Charlie was heading our way...

Came home from work for lunch and watched the local news. This morning they had the track of Hurricane Charlie coming on land near Tampa and heading well west of us with Melbourne just on the edge of the area due for tropical storm force winds. Which meant we might get that level of winds, but just barely. They've revised the track though, and it is heading further east than they thought this morning. We're now expected to instead definitely have tropical force sustained winds, and might be on the edge of sustained hurricane force winds.

Last night we were in Tampa to take Amy to a Hillary Duff concert. On the way there the other direction was stop and go evacuation traffic, and on the way home we were stuck in the evacuation traffic for a long time. Since we're on the other coast, we're not in any evacuation zone or anything, but they are predicting we will get some pretty serious winds and rain and such.

Right now it is still a beautiful day, but we should start seeing some effects here in Melbourne within the next few hours.

I've been in some on what was left of hurricanes by the time they got up to DC or NJ or wherever, but this should be a bit more than that.

Unless it tuns again and misses us completely, which it still could.

Anyway, I'll report what happens a little later.

Abulsme - Fri, 24 Sep 2004, 09:35:11 PDT
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Storm Fatigue

Well, the 15:00 UTC update from the National Hurrican Center just came out, and their latest forecast track has a big H directly over Melbourne. for Sunday morning. Great. Supposed to be a high Cat 2 or low Cat 3 by then. But that could change. And it could go somewhere else.

The new weather radio we got after the last one sounded its alarm at just after 10 UTC this morning though to announce we were officially under a Hurricane Watch. (Meaning threat of hurricane force conditions within 24 to 36 hours.) I was excited that the weather alarm worked right. Neat stuff. First time I've had one. But then again, it means bad things are likely to happen...

The interesting thing though is to look at the hurricane fatigue going on here. When Frances was happening everybody was scambling and figuring out what they were going to do, people were getting out of town... this time everybody is just tired. I know I am. Our plywood is still up, so we don't have to deal with that. But even here at work everybdoy is sort of blah. Lots of folks are saying they will stay put in their houses even if evacuation notices are given. Nobody is talking about evacuating the whole office like they did last time. Doing a final set of backups to take off site, putting up some tarps in a couple places that have leaked in previous storms, and that is about it. People are going through the motions of what they are supposed to do, but there is a drained feeling about the whole thing. As opposed to a nervous and anxious excitement, the feeling is much more just "oh not again" as people drag their way through the day.

And because this one didn't shift to be aimed at this area until a few days before expected landfall, as opposed to Frances that seemed like we knew it was coming for years, there is now less than 48 hours until this is expected to hit.

Brandy went out yesterday to load up on supplies in case we ride it out, and if we decide to we could be packed up in the cars in a couple hours to try to get out of the way of it again. And I suppose if the forecasts show it strengthening we might do that. But... first of all, another road trip right now is just not on the list of "things we want to do", second, time is very short. Roads are likely to get jammed up shortly. We can do back roads again, but where to this time? Or do we just decide to ride it out, risking becoming "one of those idiots who stayed".

My take right now is that unless it strengthens significantly, or they start recommending evacuations for our area (not just the barrier islands and trailer parks) that we will stay. But Brandy and I will probably be reexamining and discussiong that every few hours. But the point of no return for deciding that is probably early tomorrow morning. We should start seeing wind and rain from this by mid-day tomorrow.


Abulsme - Fri, 24 Sep 2004, 08:05:09 PDT
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Other Big Screwups

I liked this quick item from the LA Times. Just throws some historical perspective around the incompetence the Bush administration has shown in Iraq by comparing it to the vast incompetence of past presidents in other conflicts. It points out the obvious corollary to the old "History is written by the winners" maxim that mistakes are generally forgotten if in the end the war is won, but are remembered much more clearly if the overall results are negative. The article provides a few examples from various presidencies.

History Can Offer Bush Hope ...
(Max Boot, LA Times)

Reading the depressing headlines, one is tempted to ask: Has any president in U.S. history ever botched a war or its aftermath so badly?

Actually, yes. Most wartime presidents have made catastrophic blunders, from James Madison losing his capital to the British in 1814 to Harry Truman getting embroiled with China in 1950.
(via The Volokh Conspiracy)

(Note, Volokh exerpts the entire text of the article, so if you don't want to bother with the LA Times free registration, you can just read it at Volokh.)

Abulsme - Fri, 24 Sep 2004, 06:14:19 PDT
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Thu 23 Sep 2004

Bluffing Chadbots

This one is for Chad, who last I heard was slowly bankrupting himself through his addiction to online poker. Enjoy!

Online Poker and Unenforceable Rules

Most online casinos ban bots, but there is really no way to enforce such a rule. Already, many online players use electronic assistants that help them calculate odds, something that world-class players are adept at doing in their heads. Pokerbot technology will only advance, so that even if bots don't outplay people now, they will eventually. (The claim, sometimes heard, that computers cannot understand bluffing in poker, is incorrect. Game theory can predict and explain bluffing behavior. A good pokerbot will bluff sometimes.)
(via BoingBoing)

The same kind of thing is obviously true for the online Chess Clubs like ICC and FICS. Of course, the difference is that most games on those (with the exceptions of some tournaments) have no real world stakes attached to them, so for the most part the honor system of identifying when a computer is involved works. This is less true when there is real money at stake.

I imagine that over time, almost all online competitive gaming venues where players interact with each other rather than just with the game will hit this problem to one degree or another.

Hmmm... no interest in the online poker, but this reminds me I haven't been on ICC or FICS in a long time. Time to get online and play some chess! Maybe this weekend. We'll see.

Abulsme - Thu, 23 Sep 2004, 10:23:52 PDT
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Here We Go Again

OK, no longer just in the bubble, but now near the expected track. Here are the Wunderground Jeanne Computer Models. And here is the NHS Danger Bubble.

OK, enough already! So far here in Melbourne we got a glancing shot off Charlie, Frances hammered the area and we got remnants of Ivan after it made a big loop over the Southeast before going over us back into the gulf to be a Tropical Storm again.

Well anyway, wood is still up. We'll leave it up until Jeanne is gone. Then it probably will be time to take it down. If this stays a Cat 2, we'll be staying put behind the boarded windows. If it goes Cat 3 or above and is still aimed at us we might think about going away. Or not. We'll see.

Abulsme - Thu, 23 Sep 2004, 06:37:25 PDT
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Wed 22 Sep 2004

Bubble Gum

We're way off the projected center, WAY off... so chances of us actually getting affected are small... but... we're officially once again in the NHC danger bubble for Jeanne.

Abulsme - Wed, 22 Sep 2004, 05:24:07 PDT
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Tue 21 Sep 2004

New Television Season

OK, last year I posted my Tivo Wishlists for the season. The new season is upon us, and it is time to do it again.

This time the list is much shorter. I find now with the job going full swing, and the girlfriend and daughter, and all that sort of thing, I have a lot less time to watch TV than when I was sitting unemployed up in PA. So whereas last year I had 15 shows, 4 keyword wishlists and 3 actor/actresses plus a couple of news shows... I now am down to 10 shows, 2 wishlists and one actor/actress. Plus the news.

Over the last year, I've changed the wishlists a few times. In addition to the one time I did a major cutback to the numbers mentioned, I've also adjusted what the shows and keywords were a few times. But now it is time for a major revamp for the new season.

Based on this weekend's Emmy results (which determine 5 of my 10 shows) here will be the new wishlists for the 2004/2005 season!

2004 Emmy Winners:
* The Sopranos
* Arrested Development
* American Masters
* Samurai Jack
* The Daily Show

5 Freeform Show Choices:
* Nova
* Star Trek
* Jeopardy
* Frontline
* Stargate

2 Keywords:
* President
* Yucatan

1 Actor/Actress
* Humphrey Bogart

Then I have it always keep the latest BBC News for global news and the latest Eyewitness News for local news.

I expect a bunch of those to change as the season progresses. I want to catch the new Battlestar Galactica when it comes on in January for instance. And the new Doctor Who when it is out later in 2005. But those are still a bit away. When the time comes, some of my five free choice shows will have to go away to make room. And I want to catch the Earthsea miniseries. Things like that. I could just add more wishlists, but when I do that, I just end up with too much TV. Better to keep the numbers down, and switch them out when I want to.

Shows gone since last year: The West Wing, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Simpsons, Friends, Biography, Futurama, The Late Show, Sex and the City, Doctor Who, Queer Eye, Angel

Keywords gone since last year: Egypt, Iran, Syria, Photo

Actor/Actresses gone since last year: Reese Witherspoon, Amy Sedaris, Drew Barrymore

Also, in addition to my wishlists, Brandy also has 10 shows, 2 keywords and an actor/actress. And there are a few of her shows I watch and a few of my shows she watches. So we actually get a few more than the above. If I get Brandy's permission I'll post her list too. I think she has snuck in a few extra wishlists and has more than 10/2/1 right now, but we'll have to fix that for the new season! :-)

Amy has a bunch of wishlists too for all sorts of shows. But they are on her own Tivo, so we don't have to wade through the kids shows unless we want to. :-)

Abulsme - Tue, 21 Sep 2004, 11:37:38 PDT
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Mon 20 Sep 2004

April 2004 Top Ten!!

Catching up on some web postings from when I had no site. The winners were notified way back on May 31st. But the April 2004 email results are now publicly posted. Yea!

April 2004

From most everybody else, email volume dropped considerably in April (especially Chad after his barrage in March), but the rankings stayed much the same, just a little bouncing up and down a couple spaces. Barb comes back on the list after being gone a month. Ivan slides off the bottom.

Abulsme - Mon, 20 Sep 2004, 19:18:46 PDT
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Sun 19 Sep 2004

Updated Ecosystem Rankings

For the first time in a number of months, I have updated my chart of how the websites of a few of my friends and family are doing on the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem.

This time around I have included my mother's Just Peace Advocate website. She hasn't been updating it much lately because she has been out of the country for the last month, but she just got back, so maybe there will be updates again soon. TTLB Ecosystem Ranking

Rebecca's Cackling Jackal remains far and above the most popular of the sites I am tracking. She's got lots of folks linking to her. :-) She seems to have peaked in her rankings sometime in June though.

Abulsme - Sun, 19 Sep 2004, 17:44:47 PDT
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Darkflash: 3... 2... 1...

Another in the series of posts of things that would have been blog posts if I'd had a blog during the months the blog was dark.

The following was emailed to friends and family August 3, 2004 06:59:16 UTC.

So I woke up about 06:05 UTC and realized that I was awake in time for the scheduled 06:15:56 UTC launch of the Messenger spacecraft to Mercury. I wasn't sure if I would be able to see anything at all from home, so I didn't wake up Brandy or Amy. But I put on NASA TV... well, OK, it was already on, I'd put it on several hours earlier before I went to sleep... I had hoped to stay awake for it, but had fallen asleep. I hadn't set an alarm or anything, but woke up just in the nick of time. NASA TV was annoying me because they were covering something happening on the space station instead... docking with a supply ship or some such... but they did mention that Messenger was a go and should be launching in just under 5 minutes.

So a minute before time I went outside and looked North in the general direction of Cape Canaveral, not really expecting to see much. I watched on my atomic set clock as the designated time ticked by. I didn't see much. It was a little cloudy. So, "Oh well" I thought and turned around to go back in... and saw a big fireball in the sky!

As it turned out I was muddled in my having just woken up 5 minutes ago state, and had been looking east, not north. But to the North I could see it very clearly. It had just cleared the trees obscuring my view in that direction. It was bright. It was flaming. There were sparks coming off the back. It was headed straight up for a bit, then turned to the east and headed away. I watched it as it got further away and got dimmer and the angle got more horizontal seeming.

Then the sound hit. A really loud sub-woofer-style bone rattling rumble. And then the sound continued. And continued. The spacecraft was no longer visible. I headed inside for a second. A minute later I came back out. The rumble was still going, and actually even louder. The rumble lasted a good five minutes before you couldn't hear it any longer. And you could FEEL it for a little while even past then.

I was very excited. This was my first actual rocket launch! And I am close enough to the cape to see it from my front yard!!! And not only to see it, but to FEEL IT. I know this is old hat to Ivan, who has seen a few of these, and maybe to any of the rest of you if you have. But I thought it was very cool. I immediately regretted not having woken up Brandy or Amy. But with the clouds and everything, and not knowing exactly how much would be visible or not from the house, I didn't know if it would be worth it. Now I know. It is very worth it! (Well, at least until it gets boring after a few times I guess.)

This was a Delta 2 rocket carrying the Messenger spacecraft. According to NASA's site, the next scheduled launch from here is an Atlas 2AS on August 31st with a spy satellite for the NRO. Then the next one is a test launch of a Delta 4 in September. I'll definitely have to check those out! Uh, if I can remember.

Anyway, I'm sorry I didn't wake up Brandy and Amy for it, but as excited as I was, didn't see much point in waking them up AFTER it was over, so I decided to email all of you instead. It was cool. I like rockets! :-)

Abulsme - Sun, 19 Sep 2004, 09:20:02 PDT
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Closer to the Source

Remember way back when on those forged Yellowcake documents that were part of the case for going into Iraq? I wondered a few times why people were just concentrating on why the administration was fooled (or wanted to be fooled). I said the bigger story that nobody was talking much about was where did the docs come from. Well, a bunch of people have been slowly working on that. Here is the latest development.

Agent behind fake uranium documents worked for France
(Bruce Johnson, Telegraph)

The Italian businessman at the centre of a furious row between France and Italy over whose intelligence service was to blame for bogus documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material for nuclear bombs has admitted that he was in the pay of France.
(via Captain's Quarters)

Interesting. The speculation is that France planted it in the hopes that the US would use it, so France could then expose it at an appropriate time to make the US look silly and hurt the pro-war argument. Hmm. Maybe. We'll see what continues to come out. Initially though, my first reaction is that it is the same kind of conspiracy thinking as those who thought Rove was behind the forged Bush national guard docs. In both cases, we're talking people forging documents that build cases against themselves in the hopes the forgeries will be discovered (but not traced all the way back to them) and then make the people who actually use the forgeries in public look bad. Very high risk plan. Lots of potential for backfire. But which COULD work if it went exactly according to plan.

In the case of the forged Bush documents, it now looks pretty clear that a less convoluted path explains what happened. The originator looks like it was this Bill Burkett guy who has been trying to rile up the National Gaurd issue against for many years and who may have "recreated" these documents, the originals of which were supposedly destoryed years ago. No oddness, no strange loops. Just a guy with an agenda who thought this could help his cause, but who was completely wrong and ended up with the opposite result than he intended. And the people along the chain who wished it was true so much they passed it along without even the slightest bit of doubt or questioning.

Hmmm... that part sounds like the Yellowcake docs again. Maybe they are similar after all. Maybe the "they came from French Intelligence" thing will pan out. I haven't seen enough to make a judgement yet. But on these sorts of things, Occam's Razor *usually* wins out in the end. But not always. We will see.

Abulsme - Sun, 19 Sep 2004, 08:52:32 PDT
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Fri 17 Sep 2004


Well, didn't make it home. The flight was delayed several more times as weather in the Newark area (and all over the mid-Atlantic) caused delays. Newark only had one runway open. So even after the plane arrived, there was delay after delay. It was about 30 minutes late to board. Maybe a bit more. Dunno. Forgot to count. Then a lot longer delay sitting on the plane. Ended up leaving just before 9 PM rather than just before 7 PM. Which means we missed our connection in Atlanta, which was the last flight to Melbourne for the night.

Which means I am at the Airport Marriot for the night. There was an 8 something in the morning flight, but we'd have to get up way too early for that, so we are booked on a 10 something flight. So I'll get about 6 hours of sleep. Then head home.

Time for ZZZzzz...

Abulsme - Fri, 17 Sep 2004, 21:22:13 PDT
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Gate 46

Business trip went well I think. We had a good time and got a lot done. We're now at Newark airport for our flights home. So far the Newark to Atlanta is delayed about 15 minutes, but we should still be able to make our connection to Melbourne. So all is good. So far.

Had a good dinner with the other person from work for my birthday last night. ESPN Zone in Times Square. Sports is not my thing, but it was close and the food was fine. I got full. It was good.

But I'm glad to be heading home. Weill do the real birthday thing with Brandy and Amy tomorrow. That will be good. I guess we'll also take down the plywood on the windows tomorrow. When I left nobody in the neighborhood had taken theirs down yet due to Ivan. And Jeanne. But looks like we'll be fine on those, so probably time to take them down.

Then again Jeanne is turning. It shouldn't be a big deal for us unless it turns a lot more though. But maybe if the neighbors are leaving theirs up a little while longer, we'll wait a couple more days too. :-)

On the other hand, it is too dark in there! :-)

Abulsme - Fri, 17 Sep 2004, 14:54:29 PDT
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Wed 15 Sep 2004

12052.9926 Days

While I was in the airport in Melbourne, waiting for my flight (which never left, but I'll get to that later), I passed the milestone of 12052.9926 days since I was born. Woot Woot! Go me. It happened 15 Sep 2004 at 20:47:29 UTC. I was born at 16 Sep 1971 20:58:00 UTC. 12052.9926 days is of course 33 times 365.242199 days which is the approximate length of a year in days. Wow, that is a long time.

At the time it happened, I had no idea. I had meant to calculate the exact time it would happen in advance, but I didn't get to it. Right as it happened (or a little after) they were telling us that our flight from Melbourne to Atlanta, after being delayed several times, had been cancelled completely due to mechanical problems with the plane. (Namely lack of pressure in a fire supression system for one of the engines... something they were not equipped to fix in Melbourne.) The next flight out of Melbourne would be too late for us to make connections in Atlanta for the New York area. So we scrambled for options for a bit, consulted with our management on what we should do, then we found a flight from Orlando to Laguardia that we might be able to make. Someone from work picked us up and drove us to Orlando... um... at a bit above the speed limit... we got to the gate about 6 minutes before boarding begain.

Anyway, in the hotel in Manhattan now. Right off Times Square. Need to be up in about 7 hours in order to get ready for the meetings we are here for. It is good that we made it. This is the second half of a series of meetings we cut short to run back home for Hurricane Frances. They would not have been happy again if we needed to reschedule again!

So, enough of that. 33 is fun so far. I'll go to sleep now.

Abulsme - Wed, 15 Sep 2004, 20:34:59 PDT
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Apple Sauce

Waiting at the airport right nor for my flight out of Melborne to Newark via changing planes in Atlanta. Woo. This is finishing off the business trip in Manhattan I needed to cut short in order to come home to deal with Hurricane Frances. Should be interesting. Lots of talk about workflow. I always like workflow. The issue always ends up being just how much rigid workflow you REALLY want to enforce. People often think they want it, but once they get it, they regret it.

Anyway... waiting for security to pen so I can go to the gate. Plane leaves in a little over an hour. Before that maybe I'll get a drink or some magazines to read. I haven't fully unpacked my pile of books to read yet, so I can't do that. :-)

If all goes well, I'll be home by aroun 06:00 UTC on Saturday. But by the time we are heading home, what is left of Hurricane Ivan is due to be sitting over Atlanta making bad weather. So there may be weather delays.

No internet in the hotel I am going to. I may manage to get dialup working or stop at a Starbucks, but maybe not.

I'll be there a short time, in midtown Manhattan, without a rental car or anything, so it doesn't look like I'll be able to see any of my NJ/PA friends this time around, unless they want to meet me in Times Square late Thursday evening or something. :-)

Maybe next time!

Abulsme - Wed, 15 Sep 2004, 12:08:39 PDT
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Toxic Brew of Raw Sewage

Glad we went to New Orleans last week instead of this week!

1.2 Million Warned to Leave New Orleans
(Mary Foster, AP on Yahoo)

Residents streamed inland in bumper-to-bumper traffic in an agonizingly slow exodus Tuesday amid dire warnings that Ivan could overwhelm New Orleans with up to 20 feet of filthy, chemical-polluted water.


Experts said Ivan could be worse, sending water pouring over levees, flooding to the rooftops and turning streets into a toxic brew of raw sewage, gas and chemicals from nearby refineries.

Abulsme - Wed, 15 Sep 2004, 05:51:26 PDT
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Tue 14 Sep 2004

Tiny Rodents in a Storm

Awww... poor baby squirrels!

Couple Care for Wildlife After Hurricanes
(Amanda Onion, ABC News)

Part of the squirrels' misfortune lies in the fact that most squirrel species have young around the peak of hurricane season — in late August and early September. Since the animals usually nest in trees, their homes are vulnerable to the strong winds of a hurricane. When trees are downed, the young squirrels are left homeless, shivering in the cold and separated from their parents.
(via Fark)

Abulsme - Tue, 14 Sep 2004, 07:03:08 PDT
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Mon 13 Sep 2004

Dangerous World

Gone for a few months, and look what happens! The number of countries with State Department Travel Warnings skyrockets! From 25 to 29!

State Department Travel Warnings Over Time

Of course, looks like these four were all added in the last 2 weeks, and looks like they are all hurricane related. No countries were dropped from the list. The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos were added on September 1st for Hurricane Frances. Cuba and Grenada were added on September 9th for Hurricane Ivan. Given the nature of these warnings, I expect the SDTW Index to drop back to the normal level of around 25 in a few weeks absent other developments.

Abulsme - Mon, 13 Sep 2004, 19:49:24 PDT
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Darkflash: Moving Part I

With this post I'll start a series of posts putting up things I sent as email while my blog was down that I probably would have blogged if my blog was up at the time. I'll do these occationally until I catch up with the present. No promises on a schedule.

This first one was sent to friends and family 11 Jul 2004 15:50 UTC:

Um, OK, lets see...

Here is a short recap...

After the last time I returned to PA on a Friday night (June 12), the idea was to start packing and such right away, have one week to do all the packing, pick up the truck on the next Saturday (June 19), leave PA on Monday morning (June 21), be back in FL Tuesday night (June 22), return the truck Wednesday night (June 23), and be back at work on Thursday (June 24).

That didn't happen.

Around Tuesday June 15th my computer broke. I took it to the Apple store in Orlando, but they said they could not have it fixed before I left town. So I decided to take it to an Apple store in PA.

But I needed to do bills and get some other things done on my computer before taking it in. (By doing some voodoo I could sometimes get it to work.) So Saturday the 13th I did all that kind of stuff. Plus there was a fair in town that Brandy really wanted to go to. So we ended up doing that. No packing.

Then Sunday the 11th we took it to the Apple Store in King of Prussia, PA. But the guy there (unlike the guy at the Orlando Apple Store) was a complete asshole to us. So we ended up just leaving. Then when I left there the machine would no longer turn on at all.

Monday the 14th we had to deal with getting Brandy's cars fixed up so they could travel. They needed things like tires and brake work and some work on some other things. So we ran around on that stuff.

Tuesday the 15th I took my computer to the Apple Store in Edison, NJ. They said they should be able to have it fixed by that Saturday. Woo.

Wednesday I don't remember what I did, but I wasn't productive.

Thursday I finally started packing. Did that Friday too. I was working mostly in the basement, packing up the hundreds of boxes of stuff I just move from place to place but never actually open. Not just the email archive, but also my homework assignments from 3rd grade and stuff like that.

I did prune the 1980's era collection of full bottles and cans of cocacola down to about 25% of its original size. And I threw away a bunch of stuff. But no papers. Papers will never be thrown away. I did throw away some jars full of laundry lint, used kleenex and hair though. (Not all of them though of course.)

Meanwhile all that week Brandy had been working on packing stuff upstairs that we actually use, and stuff from her own house. (Although from Thursday on it was all my place.) She was much more productive than I was.

Saturday we were supposed to pick up the 24' U-Haul. But they did not have one. Starting Friday night they kept saying things like "don't call us, we'll call you when we have a truck". Sunday morning Brandy yelled at them and they got us a truck.

So around noon Sunday (this is the 20th now) we went to U-Haul. They said they didn't have a 24', but they would give us a 26' they had at no extra charge. So we got all that set up, signed the papers, and were walking out to the truck. But it was blocked in, so Brandy went back in to tell them.

Several minutes later I go in. Brandy has discovered that while we wanted a 24' and were being given a 26' Diesel because there were not any, the people after us in line wanted a 26' Diesel because they were towing a car, but were being given a 24' non-Diesel because they had no 26' truck. Uh... something wrong there. So Brandy had offered to switch with them. The U-Haul guy was redoing the paperwork. He got the other people all set, then was working on me.

But now the $2200 charge would not go through on my credit card. Because he had to cancel the first truck, then charge the new truck. And the cancels do not take place immediately. And I had made sure I had funds to pay for ONE truck, but not two. He kept trying and failing and called the number to talk directly to them, but no luck. He told me I had to call my bank. (And by the way, this was the ONLY one of my cards that I could have done this on at the time, none of the rest could have handled the charge... normally some of them should have been able to, but none could have at the time...) Anyway, I after several phone calls and lots of time on hold, I got all the U-Haul charges cleared off and verified my balance to make sure I had enough. So I had him tried again.


I call the bank back. Turns out because the guy had tried several times to run the charge, the automatic security features had kicked in, and fraud protection was in effect. The end result... I could now use my card any place in the world EXCEPT U-HAUL!!!! Which was the one place I needed it!!!! They said the security office that handled such things was closed for the weekend, and I'd have to call Monday to get it cleared, and there was nothing they could do to help me in the mean time.


Turns out though that there would be no problem with a check, and U-Haul would accept a personal check. So we went back home, and luckily Brandy knew where my checkbook was (I thought it had probably been packed already, but it hadn't been.) And back we went, wrote a check, and finally we had our truck... about 4 hours after we had the FIRST truck and almost left.

Meanwhile, we were a day and a half behind schedule already. But we finally started loading.

We ended up getting help just from my friend Jon (his wife and some came for awhile too). And there was still lots of packing to do, and we had to disassemble some things (including removing doors from the refrigerator) to get things out and too the truck. Jon came three or four times over the days we were working. We ended up taking about four days to fully load the truck.

And then it was so full that there would clearly not be enough space for all the stuff Brandy wanted to bring from her house.

Oh, and I forgot the shellac. But this email is long enough for now. I'll continue sometime later and talk about the shellac and then the days at Brandy's house, then the drive down... etc. Fun stuff.

I'll have to save these to blog once I get my site back up too.

Abulsme - Mon, 13 Sep 2004, 17:14:06 PDT
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Animated Electoral Votes

Just found this that someone put together...

2004 Electoral Vote Animation (May 24 - Present)
(via The Daily Dish)

It takes the maps and data from and produces an animated history of how the states have been shifting over the last few months.

Abulsme - Mon, 13 Sep 2004, 09:30:22 PDT
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Gifts at Work

So, because of the results of Hurricane Frances two families are actually living at work right now. Along with their animals. So this morning I found that one person staying here has a dog. Who left me a nice present in my office. Thank you. :-)

Abulsme - Mon, 13 Sep 2004, 07:13:58 PDT
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Word Docs and Typewriters

OK, here goes at posting back the normal way. Here's my first "news" one since my absence. First, since I have been away, a quick summary of the issue from Slate:

Rather Suspicious
(Josh Levin, Slate)

On Wednesday night, CBS News released four memos it claimed were written in 1972 and 1973 by George W. Bush's commander in the Texas Air National Guard. In one of the documents, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian writes that a Guard official was "pushing to sugar coat" Bush's training evaluation; in another, Killian suspects that Bush is "talking to someone upstairs" about getting transferred. Within a few hours of the CBS report, bloggers were questioning the authenticity of the documents. By today, the doubts were on the front page of the Washington Post.
(via InstaPundit)

OK. Now, my take... I was immediately completely convinced by this. Charles from Little Green Footballs was the first person I saw to do this, although others have done this since. Now, as far as I am concerned Charles is a right wing nutcase, and reading his site often makes me cringe because of just how bad it is and not in sync with my way of understanding the world. However... he opened MS Word, used default settings, and reproduced the docuement exactly (minus fax transmission defects). Done. Convinced. Yes, there may have been the tech to do the fonts and everything else back then. Maybe. But that is just too close a match. I have no doubts in my mind. These are fakes, and bad fakes. They didn't even try.

People like PowerLine have done much more detailed font analysis. But it isn't even needed. The little demonstration in Word is all it really takes, counter arguments by Daily Kos aside. That just doesn't convicne me at all. And it actually seems a bit desperate.

The only defense I could think of that made sense was that these were not actually the originals, and for some bizzare reason CBS had used a retyped copy for clarity. But they are standing by it. And all sorts of voices on left of center websites are desperately trying to research old typewriters to prove that these could be real.

Give it up. I am not a Bush fan. I think he is an idiot. I think the charges about him in the National Gaurd and what he did and didn't do are most likely true. But these docs do NOT support that case. It is completely and totally obvious they were done in Word. Recently. And that isn't even mentioning the critiques on other grounds. Anyone who defends these documents at this point is just making themselves look like idiots. Just stop, relax, find other issues to attack W on. This is not it.

Abulsme - Mon, 13 Sep 2004, 06:13:17 PDT
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Sun 12 Sep 2004

Semi Dark

OK, people have been bugging me and bugging me, and I have been pretty bothered myself by being blogless over the last few months. The problem has been lack of broadband. We tried to get cable installed and failed. Then we tried to get DSL installed and failed. Then it looked like we might move again before too long. Now it looks like it might be a few months yet. So we may try cable again. In the mean time, I figured I'd just unpack the server machine and plug it in again to make sure it was still working and stuff.

So of course, first thing it did was ping dyndns to tell it where it was, and boom, was live again. Of course, it is on a 56K dialup which most likely will not be up 24/7, so it may flip back to the site down message at random times. Not to mention it will be ungodly slow. But it is there. Here. Sort of. I guess I'll keep it this way for awhile just to see what happens.

Then maybe we'll go ahead and get cable, or DSL, or something.

If it manages to be up semi-reliably although slow I may start posting again.

Abulsme - Sun, 12 Sep 2004, 14:19:55 PDT
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