Archives: October 2004

Fri 29 Oct 2004

Florida Proposed Amendment No. 7

Ok, here comes another one. I know this is becoming like all election all the time, but hey, it is just a few days away. A few more days of this and it will be over... maybe. Anyway, next is this one:



Current Florida law restricts information available to patients related to investigations of adverse medical incidents, such as medical malpractice. This amendment would give patients the right to review, upon request, records of health care facilities' or providers' adverse medical incidents, including those which could cause injury or death. Provides that patients' identities should not be disclosed.

The direct financial impact this amendment will have on state and local government revenues and expenditures cannot be determined, but is expected to be minimal. State agencies will incur some additional costs to comply with public records requirements of the amendment, but these costs will be generally offset by fees charged to the persons requesting the information.
Once again though, we'll need the real full text, not just the summary:

1) Statement and Purpose:
The Legislature has enacted provisions relating to a patients’ bill of rights and responsibilities, including provisions relating to information about practitioners’ qualifications, treatment and financial aspects of patient care. The Legislature has, however, restricted public access to information concerning a particular health care provider’s or facility’s investigations, incidents or history of acts, neglects, or defaults that have injured patients or had the potential to injure patients. This information may be important to a patient. The purpose of this amendment is to create a constitutional right for a patient or potential patient to know and have access to records of a health care facility’s or provider’s adverse medical incidents, including medical malpractice and other acts which have caused or have the potential to cause injury or death. This right to know is to be balanced against an individual patient’s rights to privacy and dignity, so that the information available relates to the practitioner or facility as opposed to individuals who may have been or are patients.

2) Amendment of Florida Constitution:
Art. X, Fla. Const., is amended by inserting the following new section at the end thereof, to read:
"Section 22. Patients’ Right to Know About Adverse Medical Incidents.
"(a) In addition to any other similar rights provided herein or by general law, patients have a right to have access to any records made or received in the course of business by a health care facility or provider relating to any adverse medical incident.
"(b) In providing such access, the identity of patients involved in the incidents shall not be disclosed, and any privacy restrictions imposed by federal law shall be maintained.
"(c) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
"(1) The phrases "health care facility" and "health care provider" have the meaning given in general law related to a patient’s rights and responsibilities.
"(2) The term "patient" means an individual who has sought, is seeking, is undergoing, or has undergone care or treatment in a health care facility or by a health care provider.
"(3) The phrase "adverse medical incident" means medical negligence, intentional misconduct, and any other act, neglect, or default of a health care facility or health care provider that caused or could have caused injury to or death of a patient, including, but not limited to, those incidents that are required by state or federal law to be reported to any governmental agency or body, and incidents that are reported to or reviewed by any health care facility peer review, risk management, quality assurance, credentials, or similar committee, or any representative of any such committees.
"(4) The phrase "have access to any records" means, in addition to any other procedure for producing such records provided by general law, making the records available for inspection and copying upon formal or informal request by the patient or a representative of the patient, provided that current records which have been made publicly available by publication or on the Internet may be "provided" by reference to the location at which the records are publicly available."

3) Effective Date and Severability: This amendment shall be effective on the date it is approved by the electorate. If any portion of this measure is held invalid for any reason, the remaining portion of this measure, to the fullest extent possible, shall be severed from the void portion and given the fullest possible force and application.
OK. So looking at this, this is exactly what I said I WOULD support when I was talking about Amendment 8. Rather than automatically forbidding doctors to practice with a certain number of black marks on their record, just make sure that the record is publically available and people choosing doctors (and hospitals hiring doctors for ERs and such) can make an informed decision.

So... if this was a proposed new law in the legislature, I might very well support it.

But the problem is that this is not a proposed normal law. This is a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution. Now, the "Statement and Purpose" says this is to "create a constitutional right for a patient or potential patient to know".

I said that having things like a "Bill of Rights" in a Constitution (or amendments thereto) is appropriate... but what is appropriate there is definitions of governmental restrictions... in other words places where government is prohibited to act because certain rights are reserved to individuals. In other words, what are called "negative rights". Things that the government is prohibited from interfering in. "Positive rights", which are actually not rights at all, but rather entitlements... things which

Now, personally I am very dubious about the idea of positive rights in any context. I'm not sure there actually is any such thing. The idea that an individual should be protected from many forms of abusive government action seems obvious to me. The notion that people somehow should be "entitled" to specific things bestowed upon them by the government does not.

Now, that does not mean that I believe that under no circumstances should government every bestow things on people. In some cases they should, and regulations in many areas while to be avoided if possible, is sometimes necessary or desireable. But those things should be matters of policy, and I do not think they elevate to the level of a "right". And thus I think those sorts of things should be decided OUTSIDE of a constitution.

So, in this case I actually SUPPORT the policy goals of this amendment. I think it would be a good thing if something like this was enacted as a LAW. However I think it is inappropriate for something like this to be included in the state constitution. So...

My vote is: NO

Abulsme - Fri, 29 Oct 2004, 16:07:37 PDT
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Darkflash: Heading West

The last one scrolled off the front page, so time for another Darkflash! This one was originally sent to friends and family September 5, 2004 14:25:22 UTC.

After that last update, we did decide to go ahead and stay in Apalachicola for another night. We had plenty of time until the storm got this far, and it was good to just hang out for a day. We rested, we answered email, we watched the Weather channel. Amy watched some DVDs we got for her. Amy really really wanted to swim in the hotel pool, but we had not brought her swimsuit. But eventually late in the evening we let her go ahead and just swim in her clothes along with several other kids who were there. She had a blast and needed the release.

Anyway, overnight and this morning we are watching the Weather Channel. They don't have any of the news networks on the TV here at the hotel. They have CNN headline news and a couple of local channels, but that is it. So Weather channel had the best coverage. One of their reporters is in Palm Bay, which is the location of the house we put an offer in on and is right near Melbourne. We got to watch him get pummeled and see pictures of the types of damage happening there. They say it is mostly trees down and "minor structural damage" (and of course power outages) rather than massive destruction. Hopefully it will stay that way. Right now as I write, the center of Frances is just a few miles away from Palm Bay. The area reportedly had at least one tornado too.

Meanwhile, the predicted track has it going directly over Apalachicola tomorrow sometime. (Well, somewhere within 50 miles on either side of here one you add the margin of error on the predictions.) They say by that time it will almost certainly just be a tropical storm, not a hurricane, although there is an outside chance it could be a minimal hurricane. The local news here is saying that we should expect flooding and power outages. The flooding could end up isolating some areas by cutting off the access roads. Hmm. Sounds fun. And we are RIGHT off the Gulf Coast.

Now, we have every confidence that we could indeed weather the storm quite safely here. But with the strong potential of flooding close by and of power outages, it doesn't sound like the most pleasant of stays. If this was the prediction back at home, we'd just stay put. They are not evacuating this area at this time. But this isn't home, this is a hotel. And we can easily move. So we are going to leave and head west again within the next hour.

Don't know where exactly we will go of course. We'll point the GPS at New Orleans again and just head in that general direction. We'll probably still do some back roads, but we may consider switching to major highways since we are relatively far away from the main evacuation areas. As long as the highways aren't still bumper to bumper, I'm OK using them. Although back roads are much more fun!

Don't know how far we'll actually go. Until we are tired of driving probably. Maybe see how far we can get before midnight? Dunno. Probably not all the way to New Orleans. We'll see. :-) When we decide to stop, we'll just take the next pet friendly motel along the route. Then we'll stay there until we the storm passes and they say on TV that it is OK for people to return. Then we'll start on the way back...

Abulsme - Fri, 29 Oct 2004, 15:32:16 PDT
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Florida Proposed Amendment No. 8

I am so not doing enough of these fast enough. I'll have to really work on the weekend. Anyway, it is lunch time, and I'm all woozy from prescription cough medicine (I've been sick for about a week now), so I figure I have a few minutes to do another one of these before trying to get my woozy head around finishing writing a couple of documents I have to write for work today... Anyway:


Current law allows medical doctors who have committed repeated malpractice to be licensed to practice medicine in Florida. This amendment prohibits medical doctors who have been found to have committed three or more incidents of medical malpractice from being licensed to practice medicine in Florida.

The direct financial impact on state and local governments resulting from the proposed initiative would be minimal. There will likely be additional costs to the state of less than $1 million per year, but these costs will be offset by licensure fees.
OK, but like a couple of others, this is the abbrivated ballot text, and to really judge this one needs to look at the full text...

a) Statement and Purpose:
Under current law, a medical doctor who has repeatedly committed medical malpractice in Florida or while practicing in other states or countries may obtain or continue to hold a professional license to practice medicine in Florida. The purpose of this amendment is to prohibit such a doctor from obtaining or holding a license to practice medicine in Florida.

b) Amendment of Florida Constitution:
Art. X, Fla. Const., is amended by inserting the following new section at the end thereof, to read:
"Section 20. Prohibition of Medical License After Repeated Medical Malpractice.
"a) No person who has been found to have committed three or more incidents of medical malpractice shall be licensed or continue to be licensed by the State of Florida to provide health care services as a medical doctor.
"b) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
"i) The phrase "medical malpractice" means both the failure to practice medicine in Florida with that level of care, skill, and treatment recognized in general law related to health care providers’ licensure, and any similar wrongful act, neglect, or default in other states or countries which, if committed in Florida, would have been considered medical malpractice.
"ii) The phrase "found to have committed" means that the malpractice has been found in a final judgment of a court or law, final administrative agency decision, or decision of binding arbitration."

c) Effective Date and Severability:
This amendment shall be effective on the date it is approved by the electorate. If any portion of this measure is held invalid for any reason, the remaining portion of this measure, to the fullest extent possible, shall be severed from the void portion and given the fullest possible force and application.
Some of my questions on the measure based on the abbreaviated text were answered by reading the full text. Anybody voting on these things should always read the full text and not rely on the summaries... Also, this is an ammendment to an existing document, so one needs to look at the current language too...

OK, WTF... According to the copy of the Florida Constitution on the official Florida Senate website, there is ALREADY an Article X Section 20 (Dealing with "Workplaces without tabacco smoke"), whereas this says Section 20 will be added onto the end of Article X... something is screwy here. Perhaps a couple of the old sections were repealed and the website hasn't been updated yet? I don't know, but I don't like this!

OK, lets assume this is just some numbering snafu, and I just don't have a current copy of the constitution, even if it is on the official government website... lets look at a couple other things about the ammendment...

But before I do that, I just have to say, Article X is "MISCELLANEOUS". What kind of structure is that? This is a constitution! There shouldn't be a section like that! And Article X Section 21 is "Limiting cruel and inhumane confinement of pigs during pregnancy." Excuse me??? Now, I'm not saying that I advocate cruel and inhumane confinement of pregnant pigs, and this might very well make a great normal LAW. But it has absolutely no place in a CONSTITUTION.

Constitutions (national, state, whatever) are supposed to at a high level define the basic structures of government, how they interact with each other, how offices are filled... that sort of thing. And perhaps basic definitions of rights and responsibilities. (Such as the Bill of Rights in the US constitution.) Issues of specific governmental policies on specific narrowly drawn issues have no place in a constituation. Those types of issues should be resolved through the normal legislative process as implemented by the executive and interpreted by the courts. To put them in a constitutional document is to corrupt the value of the constitution and to improperly elevate policy issues into the basic structure of government. This is wrong. And will effect my vote on this issue as well... and perhaps most of the proposed ammendments...

OK, now back to this specific amendment. Basically it imposes a three strikes and you are out rule on doctors with regard to malpractice. I was worried when I just read the summary about just how one was determined to have committed malpractice, if there were mechanisms for appeal, etc. The full amendment defines that a bit more. A "final judgement" is needed, meaning that an appeals process is available before that point. However, there is still no mechanism here for evaluating the comparative seriousness of incidents. That is troubling. Not all cases of malpractice are equal, some are worse than others. Also the opponants arguments about this chasing away doctors does have some weight, but my main concern on this item from a pure policy point of view is simply that it is arbitrary, and takes choice away from the individual, and instead mandates a puinshment for the doctors. I'm not saying I'm for bad doctors continuing to practice and hurt people... I just don't think this is the correct way to deal with it.

I'd be for a policy requiring full disclosure, so you could look up a Doctor's history and see exactly what issues they had in the past, and then make an educated decision. But I don't want the government making that call for me. So on a pure policy basis, I would be against this.

However, and I take this to be even more important, as I indicated above... this is a policy issue which can and should be decided by the legislature. This is NOT something that should be included in a State Constitution. (Although I understand the way the initiative process is structured... it can apperantly only ammend the constitution, not other laws, makes this very tempting.) Matters of governmental policy, rather than governmental structure and organization, have no place in the constitution. If laws need to be passed on this subject, the legislature should do this. This is not the right place or method. Therefore...

My vote is: NO

Lunch is over. More later.

Looking over the next few ballot questions though... the next 7 of them are all constitutional ammendments. And they ALL seem to relate to policy issue rather than structural issues. So I may already know my vote. But on each one I will make a seperate evaluation on the policy issue and state what my opinion there is. But, even if I am for the policy, I most likely will be AGAINST the ammendment... simply because policy issues should not be corrupting a state constitution. That is not what they are for. Or at least not what they SHOULD be for... even if that is how they are obviously being used. That is what the legislative branch is for. (And in some cases the executive and the courts.)

Proposed Amendment No 6 is slightly different, but I'll talk about that one when I get to that one...

Also, I am strongly reconsidering my earlier stated position on Brevard County Referendum 2. I'd said my position was already weak. I may be about to flip. If I do, I will of course post an update. :-)

Hmmm... what I've been talking about here may also apply to the Brevard County Charter Amendment 3. I'll have to think about that one a little too. If I change my mind on it, I'll be sure to post about it. I'm sure you all will be waiting in great suspense.

Abulsme - Fri, 29 Oct 2004, 10:00:58 PDT
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More Electoral Fun!

Drat for warning this Ohio elector and spoiling all the fun! But here are a few more fun possibilities... Oct 29th Update

Stupidity news revisited: Yesterday I pointed out that one of Kerry's Ohio electors, Rep. Sherrod Brown, is constitutionally ineligible to be an elector because he is a federal officeholder. He resigned yesterday as elector, undoubtedly due to my pointing this out to 650,000 people. Suppose he had stayed on and Kerry won the popular vote and Ohio and the electoral college 270 to 268. If the Republicans had gone to the Supreme Court and gotten Brown declared ineligible and also gotten a ruling saying that Ohio could not replace him with someone the voters had not selected, the score would be Kerry 269, Bush 268. Since Kerry would no longer have the required 270 electoral votes needed to win, the House, controlled by the Republicans, would then choose Bush. We could have had a situation in which Kerry won the popular vote, Kerry won the electoral vote, and Bush became president. I don't think that would have been good for the country.

Even more unlikely news: A reader pointed this out to be. Suppose the EC is tied 269 to 269 and the House deadlocks 25 states to 25 states. This is exceedingly unlikely, but just suppose. Then the Senate gets to choose the vice president. Also suppose the new Senate is divided 50-50, a very real possibility. Then the sitting vice president, Dick Cheney, gets to cast the deciding vote, electing himself as the new vice president. In the absence of a president, Cheney would be acting president for four years. This is not likely to happen because the Republicans are virtually certain of controlling at least 26 state delegations in the House. Still, scenarios like this one support the case for electoral college reform.
Actually, I think it supports the opposite. Start teaching people again about how we do NOT live in a democracy, how pure democracy does not properly protect people with minority viewpoints and is inherantly unstable, and how what we live in is a constitutional republic NOT a democracy, and this is actually a good thing. And point out how the electoral college is a very important way of balancing the interests of small and large states, etc. And start teaching people how they are really electing electors, and not the president.

And even better, go back to how it is supposed to be... where the electors actually form a deliberative body and select the president in December, completely detached from any popular election at all. If anything, the elections in November should be for the people to pick people from their state they trust to be electors. Those people would then meet and go through a process of picking a president and vice-president. There should be people running for elector, NOT people running for president...

(Or alternately, let the state legislatures pick the electors... that also works within the current constitutional structures.... between the weakening of the electoral college, and the popular election of senators, the representation of the states in the Federal government has eroded much too much in the last 200 years... letting the state legislatures pick electors rather than choosing electors based on popular vote would be one step toward fixing that problem.)

Um, I know my views on this are a couple centuries out of date though. But I look at how it was originally set up and it makes so much SENSE. The fact that it has been corrupted over the years annoys me no end.

Mark my words though, if the electoral college is ever abandoned in favor of a pure popular vote for President, the United States will break into multiple countries within 150 years of the change! If it even takes that long...

Um, I'm digressing. Anyway, look at the fun and interesting to watch scenerios that can happen if electors get uppity and actually act as independant rational actors the way they are supposed to rather than just as rubber stamps for the popular vote in their states... it could get fun!

But it probably won't. :-(

Abulsme - Fri, 29 Oct 2004, 06:28:15 PDT
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Electoral Shedding

Oh please, oh please, oh please! We couldn't possibly get this much fun, could we???

Tie Goes to the...
(Matt Glassman, Tech Central Station)

Interested in becoming president this year? If so, hope for an electoral college tie. With an unlikely, but plausible, perfect tie -- 269 electoral votes for both George W. Bush and John Kerry -- anyone meeting the Constitutional qualifications for president could end up president. Here's how.
(via Fark)

Read the whole thing, it goes through the whole scenerio. That would be awesome!!!

Abulsme - Fri, 29 Oct 2004, 04:40:57 PDT
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Thu 28 Oct 2004

Sara is Famous!

At October 28, 2004 18:36:46 UTC out of the blue I got an email from Frank:


Did you know one of YOUR pictures is "famous"?  I just got this e-mail, and I immediately recognized one of the pictures. (You've got to admit, that's a classic photo!)  Speaking of which, what happed to that and other pictures that used to be on your web site?  I went looking for them (cuz I couldn't remember your dog's name) and couldn't find them.

- Frank
And forwarded along under the message was one of those emails that gets forwarded all around the Internet with inspirational little messages interspersed with cute pictures of animals. But lo and behold, one of the pictures in the email was this one. From my website!

That is a picture of Sara, the puppy I found trying to cross I-95 in July 2001. The picture is from August, when I came home one day to find out that Sara had basically torn up the whole house. I had posted the picture on PhotoSig where it is still the fifth highest rated picture using the camera I had at the time. Then this guy saw it there and made it the Daily Pet Photo on his site (with permission). And I guess someone saw it there, or somewhere else, and decided to add it to this inspirational email thing and then forward it to all their friends, who forwarded it to all their friends, who forwarded it to all their friends, until it eventually got to someone who knew me and had seen that picture before.

On the one hand, it is uncredited, and that isn't the coolest thing, but on the other hand, my very own picture of my very own dog (well, my mom's dog now) is making the rounds in one of those email messages that gets passed around forever all over the place! How cool is that?

I've seen bunches of versions of this email with most of the same pictures and slightly different messages, but this is the first time I have seen one with my picture of SARA in it!!! Sara is famous now!

Here is the message itself, including my pic and all the rest that were in the email. This is the best I could reproduce the email in this forum...
Thoughts for good days

Always try to help a friend in need.

Believe in yourself.


But remember... its ok to be afraid sometimes.

Give lots of kisses.

Don't be overly concerned with your weight,
its just a number!

Always try to see the glass half full.

Meet new people, even if they look different to you.

Remain Calm...

...even if it seems rather hopeless!

Take a nap if you need one..

Have a good sense of humor and laugh often.

Love your friends, no matter who they are.

Don't waste food.

Take an occasional risk.


Try to have a little fun each day

AND its important, no matter what... work together as a team,

Share a joke with your friends and neighbors,

and fall in love with someone special

Say I love you often.

Express yourself creatively.

Always be up for surprises.

Share with a friend.

Remember the saying,
Good things happen to good people!

There is always someone who loves you
more than you know.

Exercise a little each day!

Live up to your name.

Hold on to good friends;
they are few and far between!

Remember this advice and have a wonderful day!

Abulsme - Thu, 28 Oct 2004, 20:55:24 PDT
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Brevard County Referendum 1

I have not been doing these anywhere near fast enough. I need to speed up or I will not have figured out all the items on the ballot before election day. Lets see, looks like I have 31 more ballot items left to figure out my vote on. I have five days to do it. That means I have to do six or seven a day from now until election eve. Urgh! Well, lets knock one out right now...


Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Brevard County continue to be authorized to grant, pursuant to Section 3, Article VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses?
OK. A few seconds on Google finds a Florida Today Editorial that explains basically what this is (and endorses it). Basically there is a program that gives tax breaks for "new businesses" or businesses that are undergoing significant expansion. It is to encourage new businesses to locate or expand in Brevard. They say it has resulted in thosands of new jobs for the county. This referendum will allow them to continue the program.

I only spent a few minutes on it, but was not immediately able to find many opinions against this measure. And I'm all for lower taxes and such. And more businesses in the area make for a more healthy county (as long as there are not TOO many). So this is fine with me. So...


OK. Lunch is over. Back to work. I'll do more of these tonight.

Abulsme - Thu, 28 Oct 2004, 09:57:07 PDT
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Wed 27 Oct 2004

AbulCam Redux

Since I have broadband, for the first time since 3 May 2004 23:14:06 UTC, I've set the AbulCam to update. It of course won't be on 24/7 or anything. But occationally.


If the time of the last picture is more than a couple minutes ago even after a refresh, then it probably isn't on or nothing has moved enough to trigger a new picture, so check again later.  If it is dark, it might be night.  That happens sometimes.
So check in every once in awhile! I'll see if I can remember to turn it on occationally and point at interesting things.

Abulsme - Wed, 27 Oct 2004, 17:42:48 PDT
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I Am Broadband!!!

Finally! The DSL modem arrived today. I am all configured and up and running. No more 56k Dialup! Yea!!!! This is very exciting! is now going at fullspeed again! Well... not like this is mega-bandwidth or anything. But much better than dialup. And should be reliably 24/7 again.

I still have to find where I packed my hub, and a serial cable to connect my antiquated old mac and its keyboard, which of course is so old I can't just pick it up in the store any more. I just spent an hour crawling over boxes in the garage, sticking my head into holes between 6 foot tall stacks of boxes and prying open individual boxes trying to find the box where I had those cords. I found the keyboard, but not the cords to connect it. Urgh! Anyway, once I find that stuff, I'll actually set things up a little differently than I have now. But everything is up and running.

So yea! Broadband!


Abulsme - Wed, 27 Oct 2004, 16:04:47 PDT
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Brandy's Billion

According to my calculations, in a little under 3 hours from the time I make this post, at 19:26:40 UTC (3:26:40 PM Eastern Daylight Time) Brandy will be exactly one billion seconds old. There will be a short celebration at that time.

Congratulations Brandy! One Billion sure does sound old!

Um, uh... but it isn't! :-)

Abulsme - Wed, 27 Oct 2004, 09:38:24 PDT
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Tue 26 Oct 2004


Every once in awhile, I google the word antihypersyllabicsesquipedalian. So far, there has never been a single site on the web using this word, at least not that Google knows about. I was amazed at this fact! This word has been one of my favorites for many many years. So, given that it has not yet appeared on the web, let me be the one to introduce it. Woo! Let me tell you the story.

When I was a child, living in Durham North Carolina... this would have been before I was 9 years old as we were still at the apartment on Trinity Avenue... the first time... not after I came back from Indiana. I think it was during the era when I had pet brown snakes. But I'm not as sure about that.

In any case, my father would occationally clip articles from the paper he thought I would be interested in. One time, it was an article about long words. I'm not sure if it was from the local Durham paper, or from some other newspaper, or from an AP story... no idea. I don't remember the exact text of the article, or even the point of the article. I think it mentioned a few words that often come up when people think of long words, like antidisestablishmentarianism. And it mentioned that some scientific terms can be quite long. But then it mentioned a word, quite possibly made up right then and there, I don't know, that I would remember forever:

antihypersyllabicsesquipedalian - noun - Person who hates long words

I loved it!!! A long word that meant a person who hates long words! How could any word be more wonderful than that!!!

My father explained the parts of it to me. (Or perhaps the article did, I don't remember.) Anti - against, hyper - many, syllabic - having syllables, sesqui- one and a half, pedal - having feet, ian - relating to or a person who is. So, literally interpreting the roots, it is a person who is against words having many syllables that are a foot and a half long. Or something like that. That is all from memory, I have not properly researched it or anything. The details could be wrong.

Anyway, it is a wonderful word, and I can't believe it is not used more often!

At a page on long words at The Straight Dope I found references to a few other long words. First one that seems related, hippopotomonstrosesquipidelian, which supposedly just means long. I find it no where near as appealing as antihypersyllabicsesquipedalian. Then the longest word in the original Oxford English Dictionary: floccinaucinihilipilification which is the classification of something as trivial. And the longerst word in the Oxford English Dictionary 2 which is the revised modern version of the work: neumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. And finally some scientific name of a specific protein which extends to 1913 letters which I shall not reproduce here.

Perhaps floccinaucinihilipilification comes close, but none of these have the same endearing quality as antihypersyllabicsesquipedalian. Antihypersyllabicsesquipedalian is a word that deserves to thrive and prosper, not wither away in obscurity.

Use it. Use it as often as possible. You know you have been in situations where it is needed. At least once a week, without even thinking of it, I use a word that someone around me does not know. They look quizically at me and repeat the word, and I have to explain what I meant using more common words. Sometimes they say something about using SAT words, or how sometimes the plainer word is better. (When in fact I know that the word I used often better conveys the meaning I intended... if only they knew it!)

In those situations, take the opportunity. Ask them what is wrong with them, are they antihypersyllabicsesquipedalian?

Use it online too! I will be honored to be the first and only hit on the web for a Google search on antihypersyllabicsesquipedalian. But how much better would it be to revive the use of this word. Use antihypersyllabicsesquipedalian in your writings and on your blogs! Lets turn no results on Google to one result. Then two. Then hundreds! Hey, perhaps I will make a graph!

Long live the word antihypersyllabicsesquipedalian!!

(But don't be an antihypersyllabicsesquipedalian yourself, OK?)

Abulsme - Tue, 26 Oct 2004, 13:25:49 PDT
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Inauguration, Whoever Wins

Hi all... those of you who have known me for a bit may know that for the last, um... 12 years or so... going on 16 years... I've had a little tradition. Regardless of who wins, I've attended every presidential inauguration since I have been able to vote. Not special seats up front or anything, no Inaugural balls, nothing like that. Just going out to the Mall in Washington and standing there with hundreds of thousands of other people and being a witness to the historical event... well, at least a witness to the broadcast of the historical event on jumbotrons set up all over the Mall, since you're way to far away to see anything with your own eyes, or even binoculars. Except the protesters. It is always easy to see the protesters. Whoever loses never tends to be happy about it, so there are always protesters. And sometimes you can see a bit more in the parade after the inauguration. Sometimes.

Anyway, so far this has both Bill Clinton inaugurations, and the George W Bush inauguration. Each time I've had a slightly different group of people with me. I'm not 100% sure it will be practical this year, what with me now being in Florida, rather than in Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey where I was for the last three. But...

I am going to try. Tentatively it looks like Brandy and Amy will join me if we can work out the details and plane fares. And we'll probably spend a few days visiting other friends and relatives in the mid-Atlantic while we are there.

But does anybody else want to join us for the actual inauguration? Rebecca has attended the previous three with me, the only person to have been at all three with me, but she will not be able to make it this time. So, anybody else?

Just one catch... it is now one week before the election. You have to tell me that you want to go with me BEFORE the results of the election are known. None of this "I'll go if my guy wins". This is just to be an observer to a historical event that happens once every four years, not to show support for any one candidate or another.

So, anybody? Anybody?

It is always fun to see the event and watch the people who turn out (including the protesters). The weather often sucks, but hey, it is January in Washington. :-) Just dress warm!

Let me know if you are interested!!!

Abulsme - Tue, 26 Oct 2004, 10:59:10 PDT
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Mon 25 Oct 2004

Brevard County Referendum 2

OK, first the text:


Shall Brevard County issue bonds to finance the acquisition, improvement and maintenance of environmentally endangered land and water areas for the protection of habitat, public open space, and water resources, and for providing passive recreational opportunities, provided the bonds do not exceed Sixty Million Dollars ($60,000,000) bearing interest not exceeding the maximum legal rate and maturing in twenty (20) years payable from the levy of ad valorem taxes not exceeding .2085 mills?
OK. This one is harder than the last few, because I have mixed feelings on this. The purpose of this is to provide funds toward the purchasing of "open space" land for public use and preservation rather than private development... typically more housing developments and shopping centers as the population of the county increases. Now, in general, I like the idea of preserving the land and parks are cool. And in the end nicer than a bunch more development. I like the idea of making sure a lot of land is set aside for those type of uses.

On the other hand, I'm being a bit hypocritical, having just moved here, but immediately saying essentially that I want to slow down the movement of more people here.

Also, there is the general notion of encouraging the government to buy and own property and land and such. Now, an absolutist on the Libertarian scale would say that government shouldn't own anything at all, or perhaps just the bare minimum needed to operate. I am not an absolutist though. I think it is OK for government to own a few things. And it is probably an OK use of government resources to buy land for conservation. I would *prefer* that private interests who cared a lot about conservation do it instead. But as a poor second choice, I guess the government can do it. I'm not sure I feel 100% right about that though.

Finally though, there is the "how do you pay for it" issue. This is paying for it by issuing bonds... which is increasing the public debt. In general, although it is a very common practice in governement, and certainly by individuals... including myself... taking on debts for major purchases makes me nervous. What ever happened to pay as you go? Why not just allocate a portion of the annual budget toward saving for these things, and once every few years spend some on it. Or something like that. Only buy what you can actually pay for. Etc. Why accrue debt? OK. I know good reasons to do so sometimes. So the question becomes, is the county managing debt properly and keeping to managable reasonable amounts that just serve to spread the cost of major purchases out making things more predictable year to year, or are they doing like the Federal government and operating an ever increasing amount of debt that will cause problems down the road... So, I spent some time looking at last year's Brevard County Budget. It looks like the budget is balanced, revenues are increasing year over year, etc. Sounds healthy. Looks like it could absorb the new debt.

I was initially going to vote against this simply because they were issuing bonds to do it rather than paying as they went. And because of my general uneasyness at government buying up land, no matter how good the purpose... but I think after looking at the budgets and everything else, I can overcome those concerns, and live with being hypocritical on being for development before I got here and against development after... in the long run, this will probably make for a better county. So here goes.

I will vote: FOR THE BONDS

Hmmm. That is a very weak yes though. I could still flip flop on this one. I'm right on the line.

Abulsme - Mon, 25 Oct 2004, 14:51:22 PDT
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Darkflash: Apple Cola

There will be a few more Darkflashes before I am done. Here is the next one. Originally sent to friends and family 4 Sep 2004 03:20:51 UTC.

So, we're in Appalachacola, FL tonight.

After my last email in the morning Sonar from work (like Radar from MASH, but Sonar) met me to help put wood up. He had a few scraps left. But we didn't have the right tools to secure to masonry. And the wood wasn't the right sizes. And we didn't have the right stuff to cut to size. But we did our best. Brandy went and got a jigsaw from the WalMart. They were out of circular saws. The front windows had some shutters that were mounted to wood that was already attached to the masonry. So we attached the wood we had to those mounts We used the shutters themselves, plus the plywood Sonar had brought. It was a bit patchwork, and probably not adequate, but it was better than nothing. The rest of the windows we had nothing we could use to mount plywood, so we put up some plastic sheeting with duct tape. Completely useless and would blow away in minutes if the duct tape itself would even stick. But hey, it was something.

Then after Sonar headed off, the neighbors woke up, and we went over and asked if they had any extra supplies. They didn't at the moment, but would let us know if they ended up with any. A couple hours later, for $40, the neighbors had given us their extra plywood, masonry drill bits, and masonry anchors. At this point we were nearing the noon deadline we had given ourselves for leaving Melbourne. But we had a new supply of wood. So we decided to do what we could even if it meant leaving a few hours later. We ended up getting at least one piece of wood put up over each window. Not everything was covered because we had the wrong sizes. Enough wind and they would get blown right off because the wind would get in the gaps and pull it off. But it was the best we could do.

While we were putting up the last few pieces Ivan's dad dropped by. He was in town to evacuate the elderly relative we are REALLY renting the house from. We talked for a bit and he wished us luck, and he was gone.

After Mr. Bou left we quickly finished putting up the rest of the wood, then filled our car with the essentials and the stuff that would be hardest to replace. At least the stuff that made the most sense to take. NO, we did not take the email archive. :-)

We tried to get a few things up off the floor and onto higher shelves in the house, moved some things toward the center of the house. Surrounded the fish tank with mattresses and put in a bunch of plants so they can go without electric.

Then we headed out around 4 PM. One car with me (human), Amy (human), Zuri (ringneck parakeet), Nacho (budgie), Skittles (budgie) and Cheese (budgie). The other car with Brandy (human), Princely (dog), Mike (skink) and Nala (anole).

We had decided to go back roads, because major roads were all jammed up with evacuation traffic. They kept saying so on TV and radio. We decided to just generally aim toward Tallahassee. Brandy has relatives there. She hadn't seen them for years, and we didn't really intend to stay with them or anything, but it was a direction. We also knew there were no free hotels (especially pet friendly ones) pretty much anywhere in the state of Florida. Well, there were some of course, but they were getting scarce. And the further we went the better shot we had. And most people seemed to be either heading North toward Georgia, or to Orlando (even though it was also in the path). So we thought we'd head west instead.

Anyway, the back roads idea was great. Worked wonderful. We hit almost no traffic. We were averaging over 50 mph almost the whole time. And we got to see all kinds of interesting scenery and small towns. And some of the way we even got to go on some awesome cool DIRT ROADS. You all know how I love that stuff. I had the GPS all loaded up with the maps for all of Florida (except Miami) and half of Georgia and the Gulf Coast out as far as Texas. It was worth it.

Twice we decided to "lets see what the main routes are like" and switched from "Shortest Distance, avoid highways" to "Quickest route, all roads OK". Both times we ended up stuck in stop and go Interstate traffic never getting more than 20 mph. Both times we went one exit and immediately got back on back roads at the first possible opportunity. Those two times ended up killing almost two hours.

Around midnight were near Ocala. We saw a motel with vacancies. All the hotels anywhere near the interstate were fully booked. But a couple on the smaller routes were not. (On the same note, all the gas stations anywhere near the interstate were sold out of gas, but the gas stations off on the smaller routes were busy, and some had long lines, but still had gas... and the ones way off the path didn't have lines even.) We did not stop and take a room when we saw the open motel. We probably should have. But we figured we still had energy to keep going, and if there were some with vacancies, we would probably find more later. And we didn't know if the place was pet friendly. Although we could have asked. But we didn't.

We kept going. Around 2 AM we were probably only another hour or two from Tallahassee. If that. But neither of us could keep our eyes open at all. At that point we were in the middle of nowhere. No motels or hotels within many miles. Let alone ones with vacancies. So we just found a closed gas station, pulled into their parking lot and took a nap for an hour. Then we kept going. But only for about an hour. We were still tired. So we drove to an open gas station with a 24 hour mini-mart and pulled into their back parking lot and took another nap. The parking lot was full of other evacuees doing the same thing. Basically slept from about 4 AM about 8 AM. Then we headed on the road again.

We re-aimed the GPS at New Orleans. Not because we have any actual intention of going that far, but just because it was a place to aim at. The plan was to drive until about noon, then take the first pet friendly motel that had vacancies that was along our path.

So, a few minutes after noon, we saw one seedy looking motel. We skipped that one. The next one we saw we stopped at, and sure enough, they were pet friendly. We checked into the "Rancho Inn" in Appalachacola, Florida. After getting the animals settled we went out in search of a few supplies we had forgotten and some food. Appalachacola has basically nothing. We didn't really get anything we wanted. Although we did find a Subway to eat at (attached to a gas station) and we got Amy a DVD to watch (on the computer) from a drug store. and I got some extra OTC allergy meds since I'll be sharing a hotel room with a dog for a few days. [Don't worry, allergy meds are much better than they were a few years ago, I'll be fine for a couple days.]

Then back to the hotel. Brandy and I took a nap right away. When we woke up, the Weather channel reporters were in Palm Bay, right where the house we have the offer on is. The track, which in the mornign had flipped south, had gone north again and was once again aiming at Melbourne. But it had dropped from a Cat 4 to a Cat 3 and now to a Cat 2. But it will be moving slowly, and so therefore even if it is only a Cat 2, there may be hurricane force wind and rain back at our place for many hours when it hits. Or maybe not. Still a lot of uncertainty. But there is still an expectation of lots of wind and rain and flooding. Meanwhile Appalachacola, which when we went to sleep was outside the cone of possible path, was now back inside it (barely). Although by the time it gets up here, it will probably just be a tropical depression. But still possible bad flooding up here.

After our naps, I decided to try to get online. I couldn't get through on my cell to the 800 number for Earthlink to get a local dialup. So I asked Brandy to while she was walking the dog stop at the front desk to get long distance turned on, so I could dial the Melbourne dialup, grab the list of local numbers for here, then dial up locally. The lady at the front desk told Brandy that we REALLY didn't want to get online that way, because long distance calls were $1.50 a minute here using the hotel phone. Ouch! Anyway, I'd ended up calling the Earthlink 800 number from the hotel phone and found out that there were no local numbers at all for Appalachacola.

I was getting quite frustrated at this time. I fired up my work laptop (that I happened to have AOL on) just to see if there were any AOL numbers where Earthlink had none. Slim chance I knew, but I thought I would try.

Then suddenly I notice... there is an open WiFi network. I hadn't even bothered to check on my own machine. I switched off the wireless and went to dialup mode immediately. This is not the kind of place one would expect to find WiFi. And it was wide open too, not one of those where you sign up and pay $10 a day or whatever. Of course, the girl at the front desk had not mentioned this when telling Brandy we didn't want to call long distance to go online. Duh! Brandy thinks this WiFi isn't actually intended for hotel guests, and it is actually just for the office, and we happen to be only two rooms over from the office. She may be right. My signal strength is low. But I don't care. I have free broadband internet. It is actually better than what I have at home in Melbourne at the moment.

So anyway, we are settled in for the night. Watching the weather channel. Amy is watching her DVD. I am doing this email. We'll probably turn in for the night soon.

Checkout is at 11 AM. Probably around 9 or 10 AM, we'll take a look at the forecast and decide if we want to ask and see if they have any vacancy for tomorrow night and just stay here longer, or if we continue going west. Where we are will probably get some heavy rain Sunday night or Monday from the storm, but probably won't be horrible. Just a bad storm. (For that matter, with it weakening, we probably would have been fine just staying in Melbourne, but at the time, leaving looked good...) So we'd probably be absolutely fine staying here. On the other hand, doing the road trip is fun. And I've never been to Alabama! Or Mississippi. Or Louisiana! But then again, once this blows past, we'll at some point have to drive BACK to Melbourne, so we may not want to go any further than we have to.

OK. That's it for the update today.

Talk to you all soon!

Abulsme - Mon, 25 Oct 2004, 13:28:09 PDT
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Sun 24 Oct 2004

Brevard County Charter Amendment 1

OK, the text of this one is

Shall Section 7.4 of the Brevard County Charter be amended to increase the interval between appointment of regular Charter Review Commissions from six years to eight years, and to increase the time allowed for such review from one year to eighteen months?
Initial research showed this to be as straightforward as it seems. The charter requires that a commission be set up periodically to review the charter and recommend changes. Personally, I think this kind of thing shouldn't have a regular schedule anyway, but rather just be as needed, and infrequent. So something that makes it LESS frequent is fine.


Abulsme - Sun, 24 Oct 2004, 09:43:58 PDT
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Sat 23 Oct 2004

To See the Edwards

So, Saturday morning we took Brandy's mom to the airport in Orlando to go back to Pennsylvania. (She had been visiting for Amy's birthday.) As it happens, Brandy, having signed up to volunteer for the Kerry campaign, had some tickets to a John Edwards event in Orlando. So we stopped by. Before and after the event, Amy got to play on the moon bounce that was provided for the kids. There was an hour or so of waiting before anything happened. It was good that it was a nice day! Finally there were a few short speeches by some union types and local politicians... then John Edwards did indeed appear. We were probably about 30 feet back in the crowd from the podium. I took a few pictures. Including the one here.

The event we were at was the opening of a new union hall, so the crowd was mostly union. And Edwards oriented his speech in that direction. So there was a little bit on foreign policy and Iraq and such, but not a huge amount. Then they talked about health care, and social security, and trade policies, and all of that sort of thing. For me though, that probably had the wrong effect. Because what he was doing was not talking much about the areas in which I agree with them and instead he was emphasising the stuff where I disagree with them. Of course, I was not the intended audience. The union folks in the crowd were. And they ate it up. There was all sorts of waving of signs and cheering and people were very excited. After the event they were organizing busses to early voting locations and the like. I bet a lot of the folks did just that.

We did not however. We weren't in the right county to actually vote. And in my case anyway, I still have more research to do before I am ready to vote, especially on the local races and issues. Also, Amy had something to do in the afternoon, so we had to get back to Melbourne.

Coincidentally, President Bush was speaking just north of Melbourne today as well. I wish we had had tickets for that as well. It would have been very interesting to go straight from one to the other and compare and contrast. As it turns out, one of Amy's friends from the neighborhood did have tickets and went with her family. We did not though. Coming home on I-95, we had to content ourselves with watching what appeared from a distance to be Air Force One on final approach into Patrick Air Force Base. That almost counts, right?

Abulsme - Sat, 23 Oct 2004, 20:04:05 PDT
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Thu 21 Oct 2004

Brevard County Charter Amendment 2

OK, now the ballot text on this one simply says:

Shall the Preamble be revised and incorporated into Section 1.1 of the Charter of Brevard County so as to give legal effect to the provisions of the preamble?
Well, OK, obviously there isn't enough information here to make a decision. However the full text of the existing county charter is here and the full text of the proposed amendment is here. Using those two together we see that they are trying to change this:

We, the people of Brevard County, in the belief that governmental decisions affecting the interests of our County should be made locally rather than by the State, in order to establish a government responsive to the needs and wishes of the citizens and to guarantee equal civil and political rights for all; do hereby avail ourselves of the opportunity afforded by the Constitution of Florida to adopt a Home Rule Charter, conceived in the interest of cooperation with the municipalities and other governmental units of the County; and do ordain and establish this Home Rule Charter for Brevard County.



Section 1.1.   Creation and general powers of home rule charter government

Brevard County shall be a home rule charter county, and, except as may be limited by this Home Rule Charter, shall have all powers of self-government granted now or hereafter by the Constitution and laws of the State of Florida.
to get rid of the preamble entirely and change Article 1 Section 1.1 to:


Section 1.1.   Creation and general powers of home rule charter government

WE, THE PEOPLE of Brevard County, residing in the constituent state of Florida of the United States of America, grateful for and secure in our protected individual rights, and in affirmation of dedication to the Constitutions and laws of the United States of the State of Florida, do ordain and establish this Home Rule Charter for the execution of our County Government for the most common benefits to all our inhabitants. Brevard County shall be a home rule charter county, and, except as may be limited by this Home Rule Charter, shall have all powers of self-government granted now or hereafter by the Constitution and laws of the State of Florida.
OK. This is supposidly to make the statements in the preamble have force of law since they are in the charter itself rather than in a preamble. However all that is being moved is essentially the statement that Brevard County is in Florida and we are grateful for our rights. This seems pointless, and the original is more verbose, and I like verbosity. And the best statement in favor of this I could find was a Florida Today Editorial that said
a minor alteration that does no harm and strengthens the preamble's legitimacy
Uh huh. Pointless change, waste of time. Does no harm. Not a good enough argument.

So on this one, my vote is: NO

Abulsme - Thu, 21 Oct 2004, 17:18:46 PDT
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Darkflash: Interesting Week

Time for another Darkflash! This one was sent to friends and family 2 September 2004 04:25:02 UTC.

So, this week has been pretty interesting. Lets see...

Thursday: We started looking at houses again for the first time in a couple months, now that we are fairly settled. We weren't going to look again for a few more weeks until my company finishes paying me back my relocation money, but the agent sent us one that looked really good. So we looked. And liked it.

Saturday: We went back to the house. To check it out in a lot more detail. We still liked it a lot. It was near the top of the range we had been looking at, but it was larger than most we had looked at in the same price range. It needed a little work, but nothing major, and all things Brandy wanted to do. And otherwise it had almost all the things we had on the list of things we wanted. A couple little things missing, but nothing major, and on balance good.

Monday: In the morning I speak to my boss to see if he can assure me that I'll get all my relocation money by the end of September. Because if I have that money, making an offer on a house would be viable. If I do not, then it needed to wait. He gave me enough assurances to move forward. We put in an offer. If we get it then we may be a little house poor for awhile. We'll have to cut back on other things. It will be a little tight, but we can do it. I then immediately left for a business trip to New York City. I was supposed to be there from Monday night to Thursday night. Basically completely overlapping the Republican Convention. I found out on the plane though that the trip had been extended, and we (me and two other people from the company) would be staying until Friday night.

Tuesday: We had a great meeting with the people we were in NYC to see. And in the middle of the day I got notice that our offer had been officially accepted by the sellers of the house we liked. But by the time we left the meeting, the "well, maybe it might be an issue" thoughts on Hurricane Frances had turned into the forecasts explicitly saying there would be a good chance of a direct hit on us in Melbourne. There was much conferring, and it was decided that we were leaving on the next flight out. All the rest of the meetings would be canceled. MEanwhile, the AC in Melbourne started leaking, and soaked the rug in Amy's room. Complete soaking stinking mess.

Wednesday: We got up at 4 AM, and took a 6 AM flight home. After a layover in Atlanta, we were home just after noon. Now it was all hurricane all the time. Oh, and Brandy had the AC folks fix the AC. But the rig in Amy's room still was soaked and smelling very bad. But with the hurricane, there were more pressing concerns.

Accent had decided that on noon Thursday the whole company was being relocated. (And families as desired.) They are relocating to a big block of rooms they reserved at the Dolphin Hotel near Disney. The idea being (I think) that even if Orlando got clobbered too (which looks likely) that Disney would be up and running more quickly. However, no pets allowed, so we have to go elsewhere.

Now, to answer a question several have asked... We have a bunch of fish, 4 birds, 2 lizards and a dog. How do I have a dog? Am I not allergic? Won't I die? Brandy has had the dog (Princely) since it was a puppy 9 years ago. It is a 115 pound rottweiler malemut mix. It is super friendly with people, but not so good with other dogs. Excepts its "brother" Sammy. Yes, Sammy. Anyway, the original plan was that when we moved to Florida, both dogs would stay with Brandy's mom. But Brandy's mom decided she couldn't handle both of them. There were not many other options, and none of them were satisfying. So we brought Princely with us. Now I *AM* deathly allergic to dogs and cats and imaginary friends named Shmoo. But it is Florida, and there is an enclosed porch thing called a Florida room here. So that room is where the dog lives. I don't go in there much, and aside from a couple times in major storms, Princely does not come inside, and thus we can coexist happily.

OK, now with that out of the way, that whole pets thing means we can't stay with Accent in Orlando. So our plan is to just head roughly northwest, leaving by noon Thursday, and go as far as we can get. There will be lots of evacuation traffic, so who knows how far we will really manage to get, but we'll try out best to at least make Tallahasee, if not beyond. Cause all the hotels in Florida are already booked apperantly. Brandy has relatives in Tallahasee. And perhaps beyond that we might actually be able to find a cheap pet friendly or pet oblivious motel.

Meanwhile, back at home, we spent Thursday afternoon moving stuff around in the garage to try to block up (a bit) the garage window, and to make space so Brandy's second car could go into the garage. Then after that, after getting news that the Accent people who were going to help us board up the house a bit had some of the needed supplies left, but not all, we spent several hours in a fruitless search for places that still had things like masonry anchors and such. There may be such, but we didn't find. In the morning two people from work are coming to help us, and we'll improvise any way we can to board up as much as possible, tape up what we can't board up, and then when time runs out, we're just leaving.

We'll have packed the animals and the most valuable stuff (both dollar wise and sentimental) into my Saturn and Brandy's Nissan, and we'll be on our way.

And no, I am not loading the email archive into the evacuation cars. If my old print email archive from CMU gets destroyed, I certainly will not be happy, I'll be quite upset. But I'll get over it. And frankly, if things get messed up enough that the email gets messed up, it will be bad enough that a lot more than that will be ruined, and it will be the least of our concerns.

We'll put stuff as far away from windows as we can manage. Hope we don't get it bad enough that the roof comes off, and just hope for the best.

Of course, we will actually hopefully be at least on the other side of the state by the time it hits. We may lose stuff, but we have no intention of being one of those idiots who stays around for a hurricane this strength.

Oh, and there is that house we put an offer in on. The offer that was accepted. Well... we have 14 days to schedule an inspection. That will be after the hurricane. If there is major storm damage, that may just not happen. At the same time, the added expenses of relocating the whole company may screw up cash flow at accent, in which case they may have issues getting the relocation money back to me in time. Also a case in which the house thing may not happen. We shall see.

A lot in flux right now.

Anyway, it is just after midnight. Brandy has already turned in. I'm also going to catch a quick nap. I'm meeting the folks from work who will be helping with this house at 7 AM. And before then we need to get a bit more packed and ready to leave, and a bit more of what is here in order. If the clock strikes noon, we're leaving, even if we haven't gotten everything together that we would like to have done. Noon, we go. We will not be here any longer. So it will be short sleep and up early to try to get everything set to go as much as possible. Whatever isn't done, oh well.

So, having said that, time for me to take a quick nap, then wake up and get back to work.

I'll update again if I have a chance later, but it may well be a few days.

Abulsme - Thu, 21 Oct 2004, 16:58:33 PDT
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Brevard County Charter Amendment 3

Starting with this post over the next week and a half or so until the election, I'll be working my way up the ballot from the bottom, deciding how to vote on each issue or race. Of course I will share that with my handful of loyal readers. I'm starting at the bottom which is local referenda, then the state referenda, then local offices, then state offices, then national offices, and finally president.

So lets start with this one:

Brevard County Charter Amendment 3
"Truth in Taxation"

Shall the Brevard County Charter be amended to require publication of notice of tax increase in any year in which the Board of County Commisioners tentatively adopts a property tax millage rate in excess of the roll-back rate computed pursuant to Florida Statutes?
Well, OK. I did a little googling on this just to make sure there wasn't anything that didn't seem obvious here, and it seemed to be straightforward. It just requires public notice of changes in property tax rates that would result in increased revenue. Which could be due to increases in the rate, or in the tax base. In any case, it is all about notification and transparency in government, which I am all for.

So on this one, I will vote: YES

Abulsme - Thu, 21 Oct 2004, 14:33:36 PDT
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Electoral Vote Roundup

Being the junkie that I am, especially with things being as close as they are, every day I check a few of the places doing predictions of the electoral college results based on state polls. A pet peeve of mine is any place that even bothers mentioning national poll results as if they are at all relevant to anything. The popular vote doesn't matter. The electoral college does.

Luckily there are dozens of places doing electoral college analysis, ranging from major main stream news outlets to individuals tracking this on their own. Some of them have really solid methodologies, some have odd methods, some are trying to be unbiased, some are clearly partisan. But they are all interesting.

Anyway, as a reference to anybody who wants to look at this kind of stuff, here are my favorite places to check regularly:

UnFutz: Once or twice a week UnFutz comes out with an electoral college survey. This basically provides links to almost all of the places on the web doing this sort of analysis on an ongoing basis. In addition UnFutz adds meta-analysis, averages, graphs and all sorts of other interesting things aggregating the results of all the others. From here you can look at the overall trends and also click through to each of the source sites to see them in detail. If you want to look at this stuff, start here. In between the surveys UnFutz is also publishing some additional meta-analysis. For the most recent UnFutz survey as of this post, look here. This site is done by a Bush supporter, but tries to have a neutral methodology. He has an interesting method that takes into account not just state polls, but also the national polls, approval ratings, and other things. I now check other places more often, but this is one of the first I found, and I got into a habit of looking, so it is still on my list. The must check site. Not necessarily because they have a better methodology, or their prediction is most likely to be right, or anything like that, but simply because they update every day, and have some cool graphs. They also provide daily commentary on what has changed since the previous days, thoughts on the validity of the results, and that sort of thing. As of today their graph shows just how volatile the electoral college is in a race this close. Since tracking started on this site in May, the lead has changed *SEVENTEEN TIMES*.

After spending time looking at all these sorts of things, including the tracking graphs on several, and seeing the current breakdown of the predictions on UnFutz (20 Bush winning, 15 bush ahead, 8 Kerry ahead, 19 Kerry winning) only one thing is clear... barring something huge happening in the next couple weeks, we definately won't know the results until (at least) election night. This isn't one of those where month ahead of time you pretty much knew how it would turn out. Every daily news cycle has the possibility of shifting the results significanty... with winner take all in most states, and so many states split right down the middle and really too close to call... it'll all come down to how a handful of states end up falling at the very last minute, and that will depend on how the small number of undecideds fall, as well as how the far off the polls end up being from reality.

It should be fun. And of course, it will be even more interesting (although not necessarily fun) if any of the things listed in this article happen:

Florida 2000: The Sequel
(Richard Hasen, Slate)

Nightmare Scenarios
  • No. 1: Litigation Following Voting Glitch
  • No. 2: Litigation Over Whose Vote Counts
  • No. 3: Litigation Over Colorado's Amendment 36
  • No. 4: Electoral College Woes in Congress
  • No. 5: Terrorist Attack That Disrupts Voting
  • (via

    There are also issues already bubbling about absentee votes and problems there, and various irregularities in voting in various places... none of which will matter at all if one or the other candidate pulls far enough ahead, but if it is close... I suppose it is too much to ask to get fun like 2000 twice in a row????

    Abulsme - Thu, 21 Oct 2004, 07:25:42 PDT
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    Tue 19 Oct 2004

    Waiting for the Trifecta

    So this morning I was at the daily meeting we have at work. I had my work laptop open and had booked a meeting relevant to some stuff being discussed, I was looking at my to do list for the day, and OK, maybe during some of the slow parts of the meeting I snuck a peak at a news site. But then one of the people was giving a presentation on what they had been working on, so I closed the laptop and paid attention to the presentation.

    About mid-way through, my laptop gave off a loud, completely unexpected BEEP. Well, at the end of the presentation I opened it up, and it was showing an angry error about not finding the hard drive. And then it just generally wouldn't start. Kept cycling through the initial start up, but never actually starting up.

    Sure enough, initial suspicions were confirmed a couple hours later by the guy here who deals with this sort of thing:

    Your HD is bad. They are shipping a new one. You will have a new hard drive, OS, and software installed by the end of the week. Probably fully functional end of day Friday. Let me know if you need another computer to use in the mean time. [...] You also might want to put together a list of the programs you will need installed on the laptop when I rebuild it, and then send the list to me when it’s complete. [...] Sorry there was nothing I could do to recover the hard drive.
    Yes, indeed. Dead hard drive. Lost everything that wasn't already copied onto the network. All of the important finished documents were copied onto our document library, but works in progress, my email archive for work, all that fun stuff, all gone.

    Luckily, unlike last time when I lost important things like emails back and forth between my friends as they insult and tease each other, this time it was just work stuff, so nothing important. I'm not really that concerned, although it still sucks.

    I am however waiting for a third important hard drive in my life to fail. I'll be double checking all my backups tonight.

    Abulsme - Tue, 19 Oct 2004, 10:40:22 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [9 comments]

    Sun 17 Oct 2004

    Pinstripe Madness

    Yesterday I was walking around the house cleaning up some in preparation for the arrival of Brandy's mother. She is staying with us for a week because at 19 October 2004 09:54:54 UTC Amy will be exactly 9 years old. (Although, not being as precice as I am, the date she considers her "birthday" is a day later.)

    Anyway, as I was walking around the house I noticed something wrong with my car. I had just had it detailed last week because it was a mess, and so I saw something. It took me about 5 seconds, then it suddenly came to me when the problem had originated. And with horror I determined it had been there for over a year and a half...

    I had been screwed back in March of 2003. You see, back on my 2003 Q1 random trip to Ohio, I had busted up my back right tail light... Click below and check out the picture about 1/5 of the way down of my smashed taillight.

    2003 Q1 Random Vacation - Day 3

    OK, that was on 15 Feb 2003. On 1 Mar 2003 I went back to Ohio to pick up the car. Check out the picture about 1/3 of the way down of the fixed taillight below...

    2003 Q1 Random Vacation - Epilogue

    OK, what is wrong here???

    Now, I should have noticed it right when I was picking up the car. Or at least sometime in the same year. Or maybe earlier this year. It isn't like yesterday was the first time it was visible. And yes, I don't wash my car as often as I should, but it isn't the first time it has been clean, and I should have seen it anyway...

    Do you see it???

    When they put on the new back right panel, they did NOT restore the pinstripe!!!! It goes down the right side of my car to the back door, then STOPS. It does not continue through to the back like it is supposed to!!!! In the March 3rd picture of my car covered with snow on the page above, if you look carefully, you can see how the line stops at the end of the door and does not continue like it should.

    (In both the 1 Mar 2003 and 3 Mar 2003 pictures there is something that looks a little like a pinstripe, but if you look carefully you can tell it does not match the pinstripe from the 15 Feb 2003 pictures and is really just a reflection from the shape of the car at that point.)

    So now, I haven't even noticed this for a year and a half, but now that I HAVE noticed it, it is driving me nuts and disturbing me. The car is uneven! The left side has the pinstripe all the way and the right side does not! It is all unbalanced!! I now feel self concious about driving the car. It is just WRONG.

    It has been a year and a half, and Ohio is a long way again, so I'm certainly not running back to Ohio to complain at this point. But you can be sure when I go to my next regularly scheduled service with Saturn in about 3000 miles, I am going to have them fix this!

    Argh!!!! I can't believe I've been driving all lopsided for so long and not even known it!

    Why didn't anybody tell me!!!

    Abulsme - Sun, 17 Oct 2004, 19:01:53 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [2 comments]

    Debate Wrapup

    I promised my thoughts on the various debates, and keep forgetting to do that, so here goes. Since the first thoughts are what I really want, I'll grab things from emails I sent at the time when I can...

    First Presidential Debate
    (my comments sent at 1 Oct 2004 04:02:40 UTC)

    I though Kerry definitely won. He came off much more together and coherent and his answers were a lot more thought out. He did a lot better than I expected. Bush did just about how I expected. I was surprised at just HOW much he just kept repeating his stock phrases and prepared stock answers. I expected both of them to do some repetition, it is part of what you do. And they both did. But over and over W kept going back to the same few things, even when it wasn't related to the question at all... and I was just amused by some of the long pauses.
    Vice Presidential Debate
    (my comments sent 6 Oct 2004 11:18:19 UTC)
    Unlike the other one, this one was a fair fight where both contestants were in the game. In the first half though, Cheney was running circles around Edwards. Edwards looked and sounded like a young wippersnapper who had a few lines he wanted to get off, while Cheney sounded like an authoratative adult who knew what the hell he was talking about. Edwards did a little bit better in the second half when they got to domestic policy, but just a little bit better, not a lot. He never pulled ahead. Cheney won this one.

    I also note, that although I probably still would have issues picking a candidate, I'd be a lot happier if these were the two choices rather than Bush/Kerry. Either one of these guys would be better than the ones above them on the tickets.

    (IE: I may still violently disagree with Cheney on many things, but at least it is obvious he has thought about the issues and has some complexity and depth behind his positions. Edwards is less of a difference, but I've just had a better reaction to him than Kerry, going all the way back to the primaries. He's slick in a Clintonian way, but I still trust him more than Kerry.)
    Second Presidential Debate: Well, I didn't really comment much at the time in any form I can cut and paste. I thought it was much more even. Bush did a good job. Kerry did a good job. No knockouts, nothing significant. I was not impressed by the format. If you are going to have a town hall, have a real town hall. If you are just going to do what they did there, dispense with the audience and just have the moderator do it.

    Third Presidential Debate: Well, to be honest... Domestic issues kind of bore me for the most part (with some exceptions) and I was kind of tired to begin with. I fell asleep at least three or four times trying to watch this debate. If it wasn't for the Tivo I never would have made it through. As it was it took me several days. And I end up with very groggy impressions of it. So I can't put a real opinion together. The polls and such seem to have Kerry coming out better from it.

    Well, that is my debate opinion summary.

    Abulsme - Sun, 17 Oct 2004, 07:10:18 PDT
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    On Friday the Daily Show's Jon Stewart was on Crossfire on CNN. And he just completely lit into them. Go Jon! Follow the link for the full transcript, or go here for the video. Here are my favorite bits.... (The [...] indicates I've left stuff out, sometimes several minutes of stuff, so some context and back and forth is missing... I took out a bunch of the times Carlson and Begala inturrupted... go read the full transcript or watch the video to get the whole thing...)

    Crossfire Transcript for 15 Oct 2004

    CARLSON: Right. But of the nine guys running, who do you think was best. Do you think he was the best, the most impressive? [...]

    STEWART: I thought Al Sharpton was very impressive. I enjoyed his way of speaking. I think, oftentimes, the person that knows they can't win is allowed to speak the most freely, because, otherwise, shows with titles, such as CROSSFIRE. Or "HARDBALL" or "I'm Going to Kick Your Ass" or.. Will jump on it. In many ways, it's funny. And I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad. [...] And I wanted to -- I felt that that wasn't fair and I should come here and tell you that I don't -- it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America. [...] So I wanted to come here today and say... [...] Here's just what I wanted to tell you guys. [...] Stop. Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America. [...] See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns.

    BEGALA: By beating up on them? You just said we're too rough on them when they make mistakes.

    STEWART: No, no, no, you're not too rough on them. You're part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks. [...] You know, it's interesting to hear you talk about my responsibility. [...] I didn't realize that -- and maybe this explains quite a bit. [...] is that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity. [...] So what I would suggest is, when you talk about you're holding politicians' feet to fire, I think that's disingenuous. I think you're... [...] So what I would suggest is, when you talk about you're holding politicians' feet to fire, I think that's disingenuous. I think you're... [...] No, no, no, but what I'm saying is this. I'm not. I'm here to confront you, because we need help from the media and they're hurting us. And it's -- the idea is...

    BEGALA: Let me get this straight. If the indictment is -- if the indictment is -- and I have seen you say this -- that... [...] And that CROSSFIRE reduces everything, as I said in the intro, to left, right, black, white. [...] Well, it's because, see, we're a debate show. [...] It's like saying The Weather Channel reduces everything to a storm front. [...] We're 30 minutes in a 24-hour day where we have each side on, as best we can get them, and have them fight it out.

    STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition.

    CARLSON: Jon, Jon, Jon, I'm sorry. I think you're a good comedian. I think your lectures are boring. [...]

    STEWART: Now, this is theater. It's obvious. How old are you?

    CARLSON: Thirty-five.

    STEWART: And you wear a bow tie. [...] So this is theater. [...] Now, listen, I'm not suggesting that you're not a smart guy, because those are not easy to tie. [...] But the thing is that this -- you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great. [...] It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

    CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?

    STEWART: Absolutely.

    CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...

    STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. [...] What is wrong with you?

    CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you -- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.

    STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far -- you would not believe what he ate two weeks ago. [...] You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

    CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

    STEWART: You need to go to one. The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...

    CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

    STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.[...]

    CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion. [...]

    STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.
    (via Fark)

    Now, I haven't watched Crossfire in a long time. (Although I was in the audience for one taping a few years back.) It was interesting back in the Buchanon/Kinsey days, but since then I just have found it annoying. But this is one of the best Crossfires I have ever seen. They get taken to task about the whole premise of their show and similar shows.

    I Tivo the Daily Show every day. I usually don't watch it until a week or more later, but I do watch it all the time. And I watch and listen to news and commentary from a lot of other sources every day, mostly online. (I don't watch nearly as much TV news as I used to.) And the striking thing time and time again is that Stewart is the only one doing a really good and consistant job of calling both the media and the politians on when they are being hypocritical, when they are just using vapid words with no content, etc.

    I've heard talking heads on the various news networks or elsewhere talk sadly about how "young people get their news from the Daily Show" and how bad this was since they were not getting "real news". I think it is even sadder that a comedy show can time after time provide a more insightful view into current events than the "real news".

    Anyway, watch the clip. It is good stuff.

    Abulsme - Sun, 17 Oct 2004, 05:50:32 PDT
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    Sat 16 Oct 2004

    Moving Connection Graphs!

    This is pretty cool. Check it out. Try first, then look at other sites you may be interested in!

    TouchGraph GoogleBrowser

    (forwarded to me by Prem T. at work, thanks!)

    Abulsme - Sat, 16 Oct 2004, 07:22:45 PDT
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    Fri 15 Oct 2004

    Darkflash: No Subject

    Time for another thing I would have posted if I'd had a blog at the time. This is from the runup to Hurricane Charlie. I sent this to family and friends at August 14th 2004 03:34:23 UTC. I was in such a hurry that I forgot to actually put in a subject line.

    Well, at about 00:30 UTC (8:30 PM Eastern) out power went out. Some neighbors on one street adjacent to ours still had power, but most of the neighborhood was out. We lit candles and switched from TV news to radio news. This was around when the eye was in the Orlando area.

    Note from Brandy: Sam can be a whiny brat when you take away his TV!!!
    Back to Sam...

    We got some wind, but never even close (I don't think) to the predicted speeds. At Noon they were saying Melbourne would get 80 mph winds. At 3 PM they were saying 70 mph. At 6 PM they were saying 60 mph. Those were sustained. We probably got some gusts that were close to that for maybe a minute or two at a time, but nothing long term. And there were brief periods of a few minutes each when it rained pretty hard, but nothing that seemed much worse than the afternoon thunderstorms we get all the time around here.

    Basically, it went to the northwest of us, and was much more compact than expected. So the really high winds were confined to a tight corridor which is within a 20 minute drive of here, but which is not here.

    We did have a tornado warning that just expired a couple minutes ago for a likely tornado just south of us by a few miles. But once again, nothing visible here. Which I guess is a good thing. :-)

    We are still without power though. I'm writing this on the laptop on battery power, to go out at some point in the future. We still have the land line phone, and my cell phone (which I can use to get online too) and I can charge the laptop in the car, so I guess I may send before we actually have power again. Maybe.

    Anyway, looks like the actual storm part is over, but the radio is saying 100s of thousands of people without power, so it may well be awhile until we have power again. Dunno.

    Just went outside a few seconds ago to walk the dog. It is clear. You can see the sky. There is a nice breeze, but not huge winds. But... the clouds... are moving really really fast. It is like watching a time lapse movie. They are really low and lit from the lights below (including our street light, which is still on). It is very neat looking. Although a bit creepy!
    At August 14, 2004 19:16:48 UTC I sent an update, where I also forgot a subject line:
    Well, we ended up having no electric for fifteen and a half hours, and some ice cream melted and we had to realign the satellite dish, but that was about it. It basically missed us. A normal thunderstorm this afternoon was almost worse.

    Whelp, that's the last update on this subject. :-)

    Abulsme - Fri, 15 Oct 2004, 20:58:19 PDT
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    Slightly Safer

    I updated the State Department Warnings Graph again. Since last time the world is a little safer. Down to 28 countries with warnings from 29 before. The Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas are now safe to visit again. Guess they fixed their hurricane damage. Meanwhile though the Cayman Islands got hit by Hurricane Ivan and got added to the list. So wait a little while before you visit there, K?

    Abulsme - Fri, 15 Oct 2004, 20:44:08 PDT
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    Random Trip Page Updates

    I just made some minor updates to my Random Trip Pages.

    I used to live at each of the two overlapping blue diamonds.  Now I live at the red diamond.
    Yes, indeed, I have updated the main map to show my new location. Woo!

    I have also changed things to indicate that, unfortunately, the Chacchoben, Quintana Roo, Mexico Random Trip did not actually happen in 2004 Q3. With everything going on with moving down to Florida, and the fact we are trying to keep money in as much order as possible to buy a house, it just was not a good time. I'm putting the new target as 2005 Q1, but that may yet slip too. But we will get down there damn it! We will!

    I also updated the Random Spot Generator so it now centers itself on the house we are renting in Melbourne, Florida rather than my old place in Yardley, PA. Of course, that is only the default center, users can change it to center wherever they want. Well, pretty much... I think it will get confused if you center yourself on one of the poles, I haven't got the right exception cases in the code to deal with those sigularities.

    So anyway, play around with the tool a bit and generate some random spots until you find a place you would like to take a trip to. It is a fun way to kill an hour!

    Abulsme - Fri, 15 Oct 2004, 20:00:06 PDT
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    Goodbye Sweet Spam

    Yesterday I did something that made me shiver. For the first time since 1993, I *intentionally* deleted email. Yes, I did. I have actually been preparing for this moment for several months, but the events of the last few days prompted this action.

    Up until June of this year, my email client would filter the spam into a spam folder and out of my main mailbox so I wouldn't have to slog through them when dealing with my real email. Then once every few weeks I'd look through the spam folder for things that got in there by mistake, move them back into my inbox, and then file all the spam into my perminant archive in the correct folders. (I organize all my old email by the sent date by month, and because spam often has goofy dates, I have mail folders going back to 1901 or so, and going forward to the 2050's sometime.) So it would all get filed. None would be lost.

    As of July 1st at 00:00 UTC I have been taking the spam from the spam folder and actually putting it in the trash rather than filing it into my month by month folders. I had however turned off the automatic emptying of the trash, so it wouldn't really be gone and I could change my mind if I wanted to. I was holding off on actually pulling the trigger on emptying the trash.

    Well, in the aftermath of the whole saga outlined in the previous few blog postings, I was slowly copying over the 20,000 spams that had been miraculously saved out of my remote cache and into my pure local folders, so that when I reconnected to the mail servers again they wouldn't be wiped out like the real mail had been.

    About two hours into that effort... it took awhile because interspersed with the ones where I had full caches were some where I did not, and they would give errors when I tried to copy them and I had to work around that... anyway...

    About two hours into it, I suddenly said "What the hell am I doing???" I was spending lots of time and effort saving spam messages I didn't give a damn about. So after doing one last check for real mail in there by mistake (I found about 20 real messages out of the 20,000 in the spam folder) I just went ahead and trashed them all.

    And then turned back on the setting for trash over one month old to be automatically purged perminantly. A lot of the trash went away instantly. Boom.

    I have deleted email. On purpose.

    I have deleted spam.

    This is a major milestone for Sam.

    I feel a little queasy, and if I think about it hard I regret it a little bit.

    But it is done. There is no going back.

    Kinda sad really.

    Still debating if I retroactively go back and delete all the spam from before July. Probably not.

    So for those of you advocating for me not perminantly archiving all the spam I get... you have won the battle!

    Abulsme - Fri, 15 Oct 2004, 08:03:43 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [2 comments]

    Thu 14 Oct 2004

    Last Word: Plagzabooie

    One last word about the data loss thing from last night. (Well, at least until I put out the September and October email results.)

    Losing 2000 emails of current vintage that I hadn't yet "dealt with" including personal stuff, some business stuff (house stuff and the like) and a lot of messages I use for task management and the like threw me into a major psychological tailspin from which I am just starting to recover. But there is an important thing to remember. When it comes to obsessive compulsive things like saving every email I have sent or recieved since 1993 (including spam) I am just a tad... I say a tad... neurotic. And I know this. I know that the level to which I get upset is a bit beyond where it should be on a rational basis. I am working on that. I am getting better at these things. I am trying to keep a positive attitude and move forward without forever dwelling on the couple minutes where I could have prevented it. Having said that though, I know I still overreact.

    And, as part of that, I want to publicly apologize to Chris.

    Although I was actually trying to be "good" when talking (OK, IMing) with him about the difficulties last night, it has been pointed out to me that I did not actually succeed and ended up being very insensitive. Given my mental state at the time, I guess that is no surprise. I was so wrapped up in my own little neurotic disaster to properly acknoledge the great lengths Chris had gone to, with many many hours without sleep, to try to salvage the situation. And to the fact that while I lost a bunch of stuff, with perhaps a few exceptions, if I wasn't quite as psycho about my mail, very little of it was truly "important" to anybody but me. (Although it WAS very important to me.) Meanwhile, both Rebecca and Chris lost lots of data as well. And much of Chris's was work related. And, as with mine, there most often was not a way to recover it.

    I'm sorry Chris. I *do* realize the amount of work you did, having done that kind of emergency repair work a few times on my own when drives have failed. I realize how stressful it is, and how heartbreaking it is to even be in that situation, and to know there is a lot you will not be able to get back. And I recognize that you have both lost a lot of value as well.

    Last night when we IMed I was too wrapped up in my own loss to be sensitive to the work you had done, or your own loss. Most of my anger and frustration was actually directed at myself for having let my own routine backup strategy lapse. Once upon a time I had automatic daily backups of everything that mattered. I let that slip away. I also up until the very last second if I had been thinking could have just made a local backup "just in case". I did not. And that is my fault, not yours. And regardless of that, I should have been commiserating in our mutual loss and thanking you for your hard work, rather than just being snippy.

    I humbly apologize.

    Abulsme - Thu, 14 Oct 2004, 11:26:13 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [4 comments]

    Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

    Well, as devastated as I am by the loss of about 2000 emails I hadn't yet responded to (and a few I hadn't even read), I have this fact to brighten my day:

    While my main inbox was essentially wiped, I *have* been able to salvage and restore approximately 20,000 saved spam emails that had been automatically routed to a different folder that did not have time to syncronize before I shut my mail program down to stop the syncing.



    More seriously, I can look at this and say that this is probably one of the worst things that have happened to me in at least five years, if not more. And then I can look at this and say *THIS* is one of the worst things that have happened to me in about five years. Wow. I am very lucky and very fortunate. In the grand scheme of things, as much as this kind of thing upsets me, this little incident is almost irrelevant.

    Emails that I save compulsively were lost, but hey, most people just delete theirs anyway. We went through hurricanes but still have a place to live and didn't lose much. I got laid off but within months (and before the money ran out) had a new and better job. I had to move almost 1000 miles, further away from family and friends than ever before, but I found Brandy and Amy and they wanted to go with me, and I am not alone.

    No, I have it pretty damn good.

    And last night, when I was having my obsessive compulsive fit and was freaking out and breaking down and showing my depression, Brandy pulled out what was supposed to be a Christmas present, and to cheer me up gave it to me early. A white labcoat with "Abulsme Noibatno Itramne" embroidered onto it in the area where the name goes. A prefect mad-scientist labcoat! Through everything else that was going on, it made me smile.

    Can it get any better than that?

    Abulsme - Thu, 14 Oct 2004, 05:43:03 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [2 comments]

    Wed 13 Oct 2004

    If You Emailed Me, Please Resend!!

    Hello everybody! If you've sent me email recently and haven't gotten a response... I'm sorry, see below!

    Due to a server meltdown, I lost all email sent to me from about September 15th to the present... and because I was way behind on email due to having a slow internet connection at the moment, plus having had several hurricanes to worry about, plus being busy with the family and new job, I was way behind on answering or sometimes even reading those emails... anyway, about 2000 emails were wiped out without a trace... (I had a local copy of all of them on my own computer, but as soon as it tried to syncronize with the melted down server, all the emails were lost, something I had not anticipated, and so hadn't made provisions for.)

    So if you sent me any emails in that time and have not yet gotten a response, my apologies. It is my fault for taking so long to respond to begin with, but now I don't even have the email to respond to, and don't know for sure who all emailed me at the time...

    Anyway, point is, if you sent me any emails during that time period and still have a copy of them in your sent mail folders or anything like that, please forward them back to me and I will respond as quickly as I can, and I apologize greatly for not having responded earlier....

    (I'd also like to reconstitute as much as my mail archive as possible, so if you have copies of other emails from other people that I was cc'd on please send me those too, so I can answer them as well! Or emails you sent and don't actually want answers to as well. And while I would love NEW emails too, if you do have a copy of whatever you sent before, that would be MUCH APPRECIATED.)

    Thanks everybody. I'll be very grateful for any emails you are able to forward back to me! (For those familiar with my monthly email contests, emails forwarded back to me from the time period mentioned WILL be counted toward that...)

    And for that matter, just to talk to some of you again! It has been awhile for some of you!

    (Oh yeah, the address will be back soon, but for the moment, please use this address. Thanks.)

    Talk to you all soon!

    Abulsme - Wed, 13 Oct 2004, 20:36:29 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [3 comments]

    Tue 12 Oct 2004

    Back in the Saddle

    The tests on our phone line are done. We passed. Which hopefully means we will have DSL "soon" and will be able to stop using this frustratingly slow dialup.

    In any case, is back up. Normal posting will resume shortly.

    Abulsme - Tue, 12 Oct 2004, 08:35:48 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [1 comments]

    Fri 08 Oct 2004

    Closing Down Again

    Some tests need to be run on the phone line that is currently using for its slow 56K connection to the internet. This is in preparation for activating DSL on the line. For this, the line must not be busy. So sometime in the next hour, I'll be shutting down again. Don't know exactly when they will do the tests. But I'll basically stay dark until they are done, unless I get an email saying they won't do the tests until some date X in the future, in which case I may turn it back on again until a little before then. But for now, I'll be shutting down again. Hope to be back soon... although still on dialup.

    But then hopefully, within a week or two... if all goes well... the site will be back on something better than a modem powered by hamsters.

    Abulsme - Fri, 8 Oct 2004, 10:14:56 PDT
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    The Lead Shifts!

    Today's update at has a bunch of polls that have now been taken SINCE the first Bush/Kerry debate last week. The lead has shifted. Bush had been in the lead basically since the Republican convention. Not any more.

    Current Electoral Vote Predictor 2004

    There are 48 new polls today in a total of 25 states. The bottom line is that Kerry is continuing to surge. He now has more than the 270 votes in the electoral college needed to be elected president. However, his margin is razor thin in many states. Still, this is a remarkable comeback. From the electoral college graph you can see how steep his rise has been. All of this gain is undoubtedly due to the first debate. Needless to say, tonight's debate will be extremely important for both candidates.
    Most of the other EV tracking sites update less often, but the debate effect should start showing up on them fully with their next updates soon too. (Most had the totals already starting to shift as the first few polls in critical states started coming in, but now enough time has elapsed that there are lots more state by state post-debate polls available.)

    This whole thing is still VERY close. How they do on the next two debates will be critical. Along with news events between now and the election. Every little thing makes a difference with margins this small.

    I was going to post my thoughts on the Presidential debate from last week and the VP debate from earlier this week, but at this point I think I'll wait until I've watched tonight's too.

    Abulsme - Fri, 8 Oct 2004, 10:00:54 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [0 comments]

    Wed 06 Oct 2004

    Hurricane Roundup

    So, unless we get hit by another one, here is the roundup of hurricane damage to the house we are renting. Brandy put this list together yesterday:


    • Power out for 15 hours, no other damage


    • Big palm tree out front fell into the driveway.
    • Bush by Colony Dr. property line knocked over.


    • Tree is far left corner of yard snapped in many places.
    • Tree by back door of Florida Room suspected to be an issue in the future, removed.
    • Many shingles missing from roof.
    • Some tar paper missing on edges.
    • Roofing materials on edges lifting from roof in wind.
    • Aluminum roof edging damaged and missing in many areas.
    • Much siding on underside of roof over porch missing.
    • Front gutter completely gone, other areas damaged.
    • Leak in Florida room warping panels on ceiling (about 3x3 ft area on back edge)
    • Leak in hallway area through second and third bedroom door jams, back room air vent, around edges of attic access and through fixture for fire alarm.
    • Leak through front storm door.
    • Possible carpet damage due to leaks
    • Power out for 6 days

    As for the leaks: It has been suggested that they may have been caused by almost horizontally falling rain through the vent in the roof, though there has not been another significant rain with which to test this theory. The leak through the storm door was certainly caused by the angle of the rain.

    The carpets are a concern due to the possibility of mold. They smelled badly, and took a long time to dry because there was no power to run a dehumidifier. The rooms affected were the center hall, living room, and second and third bedrooms. The one bedroom room just has carpet laid over glued tile. It was damaged before when the AC system drain was clogged right before Frances. A secondary concern would be the integrity of the glue on the tiles (they
    tend to lift when having been wet).

    We're working with the owners (Ivan's family) to determine how all that will be dealt with.

    Meanwhile, the house we are trying to buy was damaged more extensively. It needs a whole new roof, a new pool enclosure, and some interior ceilings need replacing as well. We don't know all the details since it is still not ours. The current plan is for the owners to fix it, then we will proceed. The question becomes can they do it in time before our interest rate lock expires and such. Last update we had is they still expect to be able to complete repairs by mid-November, which would let us close in December as planned. (Well, originally we were thinking October, but according to the revised plan.)

    Anyway, we'll just have to see how that plays out.

    As many people have told me "Welcome to Florida!"

    Abulsme - Wed, 6 Oct 2004, 06:42:05 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [0 comments]

    Tue 05 Oct 2004

    SelectSmart Again / Crazy Libs

    OK, it has been awhile, so time one again for the SelectSmart Presidential Candidate Selector. This time around my results were:

    63% Match: Badnarik, Michael - Libertarian
    46% Match: Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat
    46% Match: Cobb, David - Green Party
    46% Match: Nader, Ralph - Independent
    43% Match: Bush, President George W. - Republican
    36% Match: Brown, Walt - Socialist Party
    26% Match: Peroutka, Michael - Constitution Party

    Now, this puts me in a pickle. Normally I'd be happy to go ahead and vote for the Libertarian. They usually match my views best (although less so than in previous years, my views are evolving on some issues). And Badnarik is the only candidate with more than a 50% match on the quiz. (Which also jives with my gut feelings issues wise listening to and reading about the positions... I would never base anything on this quiz alone, as fun as it is.)

    But... unlike the Libertarian candidates in the last three elections, who while clearly with no chance to win and with a few views that were "out there" even beyond my own, basically shared my philosophy and seemed like decent people. Idealistic, unrealistic perhaps, but basically sane even if a bit eccentric. Not so this year. Badnarik is a complete nutcase.

    Dark Horse on the Third Ballot
    (R. W. Bradford, Liberty)

    Badnarik believes that the federal income tax has no legal authority and that people are justified in refusing to file a tax return until such time as the IRS provides them with an explanation of its authority to collect the tax. He hadn't filed income tax returns for several years. He moved from California to Texas because of Texas' more liberal gun laws, but he refused to obtain a Texas driver's license because the state requires drivers to provide their fingerprints and Social Security numbers. He has been ticketed several times for driving without a license; sometimes he has gotten off for various technical legal reasons, but on three occasions he has been convicted and paid a fine. He also refused to use postal ZIP codes, seeing them as "federal territories."

    He has written a book on the Constitution for students in his one-day, $50 seminar on the Constitution, but it is available elsewhere, including on It features an introduction by Congressman Ron Paul and Badnarik's theory about taxes. His campaign website included a potpourri of right-wing constitutional positions, as well as some very unorthodox views on various issues. He proposed that convicted felons serve the first month of their sentence in bed so that their muscles would atrophy and they'd be less trouble for prison guards and to blow up the U.N. building on the eighth day of his administration, after giving the building's occupants a chance to evacuate. In one especially picturesque proposal, he wrote:

    "I would announce a special one-week session of Congress where all 535 members would be required to sit through a special version of my Constitution class. Once I was convinced that every member of Congress understood my interpretation of their very limited powers, I would insist that they restate their oath of office while being videotaped."

    One assumes, although one cannot prove, that none of this is an exercise in irony. At any rate, these opinions were removed from the website shortly after he won the nomination, and they didn't come up when he visited state party conventions. Nor did his refusal to file tax returns, thereby risking federal indictment and felony arrest. While many of his closest supporters were aware of these issues, they were unknown to most LP members.
    At the time of the Libertarian convention back when my blog was dark, there were a number of articles in main stream media echoing and confirming some of the goofyness and the basic information, but this article is the most detailed I have found regarding both this guys unorthodox opinions as well as the crazy politics that led to him getting the nomination over two other candidates that while not ideal either, were at least not this bad. There is no way I can possibly cast a vote for Badnarik.

    Which puts me in a dilemma. None of the others appeal to me in the slightest either. At this point I have a pretty strong aversion to W. I think he has made just about every wrong choice possible since he has been in office, and ESPECIALLY in the last two years or so when he was able to use 9/11 as an excuse for just about everything.

    I don't have that same viceral feeling about Kerry, but on the other hand I know from some of the things he says that I will be pulling my hair out about many things he would advocate and the directions he would take on many issues if he won. But, the question becomes, are the things I would be upset with Kerry about less important than the things I would be upset with W about?? Quite possibly. I will have to think about that.

    Meanwhile, of the other 46% candidates (although it galls me to even consider anybody under 50%) Nadar is out. Every time I see him interviewed the more my opinion of him drops. I find very little I can agree with him on, and from a character and personality point of view I just can't see him as president.

    Which leaves David Cobb. I know almost nothing about him. I will definately spend a bit more time researching him before the election. (Assuming he is on the Florida ballot, I'll have to confirm that.) Just glancing at his issues summary on the SelectSmart site though I immediately see several things I could not support. Urgh.

    I don't really want to do a write in, and I will definately vote. Will I actually be forced to vote for Kerry? Yuck. Maybe it will have to be a write in. Dunno. :-(

    It would be really nice if at least once, there was a candidate with a chance of winning that came even close to my views on at least, say 60% of the things I care about? But no, doesn't look like that will happen any time soon...

    Oh well.

    Abulsme - Tue, 5 Oct 2004, 13:31:00 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [1 comments]

    The Poet In Me

    As a quick explaination of the last three posts... I was actually just testing some formatting stuff to help Rebecca out on something which may hit her motel sometime in the future. Those wacky poets and their formatting!

    The poems were just random words to fill the space in order to test the formatting, not deepfelt expressions of my innermost heart and hours of effort put into the poetic artistry.... yeah... thats it... that's the ticket!

    Abulsme - Tue, 5 Oct 2004, 06:57:04 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [1 comments]

    Mon 04 Oct 2004

    Rising Tones

    Starting out small, constrained, in the start of things.

    Extending slowly into the sun, frightened by the light, but moving ever forward to the burning.

    Exploding out of control into the vastness of nothingness of largeness uncontrolled without limits.

    Until it squishes us and constrains us and pushes us slowly, cramping us into less and less.

    Until at last pounded into a dot.

    Abulsme - Mon, 4 Oct 2004, 21:15:08 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [1 comments]

    Red Robin

    The red robin was in the house abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
    it tried to eat the yellow mouse. abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
    But in its excited haste abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
    it only ate the yellow paste. abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

    Abulsme - Mon, 4 Oct 2004, 18:24:25 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [6 comments]

    Moo Quack Baa

    The cow is in the barn. The cow is in the barn. Moo Moo Moo. The duck is in the water. The duck is in the water. Quack Quack Quack. The sheep is in the field. The sheep is in the field. Baa Baa Baa. The cow is in the barn. The cow is in the barn. Moo Moo Moo. The duck is in the water. The duck is in the water. Quack Quack Quack. The sheep is in the field. The sheep is in the field. Baa Baa Baa. The cow is in the barn. The cow is in the barn. Moo Moo Moo. The duck is in the water. The duck is in the water. Quack Quack Quack. The sheep is in the field. The sheep is in the field. Baa Baa Baa. The cow is in the barn. The cow is in the barn. Moo Moo Moo. The duck is in the water. The duck is in the water. Quack Quack Quack. The sheep is in the field. The sheep is in the field. Baa Baa Baa. The cow is in the barn. The cow is in the barn. Moo Moo Moo. The duck is in the water. The duck is in the water. Quack Quack Quack. The sheep is in the field. The sheep is in the field. Baa Baa Baa. The cow is in the barn. The cow is in the barn. Moo Moo Moo. The duck is in the water. The duck is in the water. Quack Quack Quack. The sheep is in the field. The sheep is in the field. Baa Baa Baa. The cow is in the barn. The cow is in the barn. Moo Moo Moo. The duck is in the water. The duck is in the water. Quack Quack Quack. The sheep is in the field. The sheep is in the field. Baa Baa Baa. The cow is in the barn. The cow is in the barn. Moo Moo Moo. The duck is in the water. The duck is in the water. Quack Quack Quack. The sheep is in the field. The sheep is in the field. Baa Baa Baa. The cow is in the barn. The cow is in the barn. Moo Moo Moo. The duck is in the water. The duck is in the water. Quack Quack Quack. The sheep is in the field. The sheep is in the field. Baa Baa Baa. The cow is in the barn. The cow is in the barn. Moo Moo Moo. The duck is in the water. The duck is in the water. Quack Quack Quack. The sheep is in the field. The sheep is in the field. Baa Baa Baa. The cow is in the barn. The cow is in the barn. Moo Moo Moo. The duck is in the water. The duck is in the water. Quack Quack Quack. The sheep is in the field. The sheep is in the field. Baa Baa Baa.

    Abulsme - Mon, 4 Oct 2004, 18:05:30 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [1 comments]

    Fri 01 Oct 2004


    Power went out Sunday at 05:26 UTC. Unfortunately I unplugged the server and everything when water started leaking in the office where I had it, and although I kept meaning to I never plugged it back in, so the server did not turn itself back on (cause it wasn't plugged in) when the power came back on. So I don't know the exact time the power came back on. Based on some non-exact clues, I estimate between 19:00 and 20:00 UTC today. I was stilla t work and didn't mange to get home and plug everything in until 22:15 UTC. So, we were without power for approximately 5 days and 14 hours. (Sorry for the approximation, my fault.) was down for 5 days, 16 hours and 49 minutes.

    Please blame Jeanne. We are now back in normal service. For now.

    Well, normal for running off a 56k Modem that isn't there 24/7 anyway. :-)

    Abulsme - Fri, 1 Oct 2004, 15:22:55 PDT
    Permalink and Comments [0 comments]


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