Archives: January 2005

Mon 31 Jan 2005

Ticker Update

Just an update on Brandy's mom for those who are interested. She is being transfered to a bigger hospital this morning and is scheduled for heart surgery this afternoon. The bypass she had 10 years ago has degraded. They are putting in a shunt or stint or some similar device to reopen the problem area. The surgery is not as involved as an actual bypass, but any surgery involving the heart and the areas around it is still very serious. If all goes well, she should be out of the hospital and ready to travel home to PA within a week, maybe two. The Doctors say there is about a 1% chance though that things will get unexpectedly more complicated though. We're obviously hoping for the 99%.

Abulsme - Mon, 31 Jan 2005, 06:46:24 PST
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Fri 28 Jan 2005


So, this week Brandy's mom has been visiting.

And nearly every day while I have been sitting at meetings at work and answering work emails and other such activities, my girlfriend with a bad back and my girlfriend's mother with a history of heart issues have been packing boxes and moivng heavy things at the old house. In retrospect, that sounds really bad.

Yesterday they rented a truck and started loading boxes into the truck. We were going to try to finish moving all of our stuff out of the house we are renting from Ivan's family today, and then clean it all up by the end of the month when we are officially supposed to be out of there.

But... right after they started loading boxes, Brandy's mom started having chest pains. And since she had a history, there was no chancing anything. Off to the emergency room. I left work early to go meet them. After not too long a wait they were monitoring her in the ER. A couple hours later they admitted her for overnight observation.

It is now over 24 hours later. As of the last update I had from Brandy her mom is still in the hospital. They observed her overnight and she is going to have some more tests soon. If she passes, she can be released, if not, she'll be there longer.

She is in good spirits, because appearantly she thinks her Doctor is hot. But still... the intention was her to visit and have fun... and she was insisting on helping us move... but spending a day or two in the hospital was NOT on the agenda.

But here we are.

I'm hoping I get a call from Brandy at any moment saying her mom is ready to come home. But it hasn't happened yet.

Abulsme - Fri, 28 Jan 2005, 14:04:29 PST
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OK. During the day yesterday all my stuff finished transferring to Virginia, and last night Chris got back up and running on his servers. So the site is back up although I'll still have to work out some details of some things.


The old server still can't boot itself, although I think I can remedy that as soon as I find some system disks. I won't be able to boot off the clone drive I made though because of the firewire issue. I tried cracking it open and seeing if I could just pop the drive into the internal slot, but the drive types don't match. Oh well.

I'll have to work on what to do as a long term solution, but this will do short term.

I miss having the server right in my office though. There are not too many practical reasons why that is needed, but I just LIKE it. :-)

Abulsme - Fri, 28 Jan 2005, 06:09:31 PST
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Thu 27 Jan 2005 Progress: Doh!

[Posted retroactively once the site was back. Originally emailed to family and friends. This post is timestamped with the email timestamp.]

Well, at just before 3 AM today finally got the clone drive for my website server finished. Complete and total copy of my server on an external firewire drive. It took many reboots between crashes to get there, but it was done! At the end of the cloning, I set it to boot from the external drive and reboot and... nothing.

A little research on the web later and it turns out that the ancient Beige G3 PowerMac I have predates the ability to boot from external firewire drives. Unlike Macs made in the last five years, it needs to already be booted to even see the drive. And worse, even though the
old drive had actually been up pretty consistently for at least the last 6 hours... it actually had stopped crashing... now the G3 was deathly confused and trying to start from a drive it couldn't see, and for some reason was not failing back to the original drive. Just a
blank screen with the ancient Floppy disk with a question mark flashing on the screen indicating an old Mac with no System.


Anyway, chatted with Chris. The entirety of the content of is now being transfered slowly from Florida to Virginia, and we'll try to get everything up and running there before too long. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the weekend. Dunno.

But at least there is no data loss. I have everything. I think. :-)

I also think I really need a Mac Mini.

That would solve the issue completely, plus several others.

But working on the zero dollar cost options first probably makes sense. :-)

Abulsme - Thu, 27 Jan 2005, 00:32:51 PST
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Wed 26 Jan 2005 Down

[Posted retroactively once the site was back. Originally emailed to family and friends. This post is timestamped with the email timestamp.]

Looks like the hard drive on my 7+ year old server that I have been running is dying. I can now only get it to boot 50% of the time, then it usually only manages to stay up before crashing for a few minutes. Well, I'm thinking it is the hard drive, but some of the symptoms and how exactly it stops are a bit odd sometimes, so who knows.

Anyway, I think I have backups of all the really important stuff (the blog and the website itself) so I won't lose anything long term except maybe some log files. But the site is down right now and it may take me a bit to get it back in working condition. Right now I'm trying to get one of my external drives set up as a boot drive for the server. But the system disks for the old version of the system that server needs are still in transit somewhere, so I am trying to do it by cloning the old drive, but I can only get a few minutes into that before a crash and reboot... but we shall see. Worst case I have to take my backups of just the site itself and just set the whole thing up in a new location. (Chris says he may be able to host if I can't get
anything going down here.)

Anyway, details don't matter I guess. Just wanted to let the vast audience of know that the site is down right now, but I'm working on it. (Although I have to go to work shortly... drat!) I hope to be back up soon. Gulp! Crossing my fingers!

Urgh this kind of thing stresses me out!

Abulsme - Wed, 26 Jan 2005, 03:43:38 PST
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Thu 20 Jan 2005

Inaugural Fisking

I mocked the Inaugural speech a few hours ago by saying it was not memorable. And from a presentation point of view it was not. W is just not a good public speaker. However there were some things in the text that were well stated and in some cases significant statements of policy. (Although no big changes). So I thought I would give the speech another shot in written form. Glancing over it, it is a much better speech when read than when listening to W deliver it. So here goes. My first fisking in a long time.

George W. Bush Second Inaugural Address

Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens:

On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.

At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire.
9/11 reference pretty much as soon as the thank you part was done. I guess this is to be expected. He has stated over and over that it was a transformative moment for him and his policies. And it’s not bad I guess, it was an important milestone and changing point. But I sort of felt myself sighing at that point. “Here he goes again.”
We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.
I actually agree with every word, and it is stated well. I’m not sure that W’s actions actually bear out the philosophy he is stating though. For one, there seems to only be one or two regions of the world where he seems to apply this doctrine, whereas large swaths of the globe that in many cases are in even worse shape go ignored. Second, I don’t see his domestic actions very much promoting freedom. I see crack downs on civil liberties, expansion of government power in many directions, restrictions on the free exchange of information (including support of overly draconian intellectual property laws as well as increased “morality” type crackdowns at the FCC and in other ares to cut down on “indecent” material), plus a distinct lack of tolerance in many areas.
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.
Wow. I once again find myself agreeing with the sentiment entirely. And it is well said. W’s speech writer did well. (Too bad he didn’t deliver it very well… another speaker could have made this really ring…) But once again where I hit trouble is not with the sentiment of the statement, but in my confidence in W implementing any such policy in a way that actually achieved the goals, rather than just screwing everything up even more badly. W has stated these sorts of goals before. Many times. But every thing he has DONE seems to completely backfire if these are indeed his goals. I see that some of the things he does he may intend to have these consequences. But, at least so far, the results are not in line with the goals.

To be fair, it has been a very short time. Policies of the sort espoused often take many years, if not many decades, to bear fruit. In many ways it is simply too early to judge. As an example, in the case of Ronald Reagan to me at least his hard line stance with the Soviet Union in the first part of his administration seemed foolhardy at best. But in the many years since the cold war, person after person from the old USSR has said that those policies had a very direct affect on the eventual opening of the Eastern Block and the end of the Cold War. (There are still some that disagree, but at the very least, the consensus has moved closer to Reagan’s side in the last 15 years than it was during his presidency.) My only point here is that sometimes things that seem misguided at the time can later come to be seen as the right thing to have done in retrospect… Sometimes because the person was actually much more insightful than was though… sometimes just because they were lucky and a gamble paid off. So in the end, we’ll have to wait at least 10 to 15 years before we have a better idea if W’s choices were really as stupid as they seem today.
My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm.

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.
Does anybody else think that while this sounds awesome, the way we have played fast and loose with the Geneva convention, and tried to create situations where the accused can be held with no appeal and no access to legal help or family for indefinite times, etc makes this ring very very hollow. If Jimmy Carter said these words, or even Bill Clinton... or George H. W. Bush... I would believe them. With W’s record, I think he is hypocritical at best.
Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty - though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.

And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.
I sense a theme in my reactions to W here. This sounds great. If this was really and truly applied as policy, and applied universally, it would probably be a good thing. But I can only see W applying this sort of thing cynically and opportunistically, and even then, screwing it up every time he tried by being too ham handed and too full of hubris.
Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens:

From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.

A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause - in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy ... the idealistic work of helping raise up free governments ... the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies. Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives - and we will always honor their names and their sacrifice.

All Americans have witnessed this idealism, and some for the first time. I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself - and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.
Yeah. OK. Standard support the troops and everybody should do stuff to help the country stuff. Next.
America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home - the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.

In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the G.I. Bill of Rights. And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance - preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.
All good so far.
In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character - on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before - ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Notice that Koran bit? Gotta do that. Have to show religious tolerance and inclusion and all that.
In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth.
When I listened the first time, I read this as an abortion reference. But he did not follow that topic up at all. So maybe, maybe not. Probably intentionally put in as something that that pro-lifers could read into, but without explicitly saying anything.
And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.
Another good line. And frankly, I believe W believes it… as long as it has to do with Americans. I’m not so sure however that he acts in a way that would make sense if he truly felt that all lives were equally valueable regardless of creed and national origin. I see a lot more tolerance for dead Iraqi’s than I do for dead Americans. And dead Sudanese do not even register. Yes, American’s are the US President’s direct responsibility, while citizens of other places are not. However, if one truly feels that all humans are worth of the full level of rights… then why should it take orders of magnitude more suffering among “furiners” before it gets even close to the amount of attention as it would if it were here at home.
From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?
Not bad questions. Ask me again in 2015 or 2020 and perhaps I’ll have a little better persective on how you did on your watch. At the moment, it does not look good.
These questions that judge us also unite us, because Americans of every party and background, Americans by choice and by birth, are bound to one another in the cause of freedom. We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes - and I will strive in good faith to heal them.
Ha. OK. I just don’t see this happening. I don’t see a good chance of W really reaching out to heal any divisions, and frankly even if he did, I doubt it would get a warm reception at this point. Nobody is in the mood for compromise. Which is a shame.
Yet those divisions do not define America. We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.
Except of course our captives. Many of which were later found to be completely innocent. Lets not discuss those.
We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.

When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if it meant something." In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.
Good ending, could have done without some of the God stuff, but hey, it is W and that is traditional in this sort of thing. And it is a sentiment I can not disagree with.

Which was true of a lot of this speech. He spoke of big overarching ideals. Freedom is good. Tyranny is bad. Good guys are good, bad guys are bad. Lots of things that just plain sound good. It is a wonderful world he paints. A lot of good goals. The world should be better. There should be more freedom. Woo!

For the most part, I do not disagree with the visions he paints. And there are no specifics here, so there is not much meat to disagree with. But of course, that is where the problems are. Not in the goals, but in the implementation. And in some cases the interpretation of those goals when determining how they apply in certain cases.

W’s administration so far has time after time shown that they interpret these things far differently than I do. What they often see as “defending freedom” I often see as restricting it. And even when I can see their goal is good, they seem to always pick ways of trying to get that goal which I think are counterproductive, and more than likely will not achieve the stated goal (although perhaps in some cases, they will achieve unstated goals.)

I think it all comes down to trust. Four years ago I could buy that “Compassionate Conservative” line. I could think that W would be like his father. Basically the first President Bush was reasonable and pragmatic. “Prudent” is the word that got hung around his neck. Nobody would ever think of describing W as prudent. Instead he is reckless and bullheaded to the extreme. Even when he means well, he causes damage. If the first President Bush was back in office, and he gave this speech, I might very well think positively about it. But W has lost any small bit of trust I might have had 4 years ago. I do believe he believes and means what he says. I don’t get a sense of duplicity. But I do not trust that his values match mine. (I know they do not.) And I do not trust that he has the capacity of successfully carrying out even a good policy, let alone the monstrosities they have come up with so far. Almost everything they touch gets screwed up.

There is going to be a mostly new cabinet though. And that makes a huge difference. And in second terms Presidents tend to think more long term than they do in first terms, because they are thinking about their legacy, not about reelection. Many second terms have turned out to have shockingly different characters than first terms. Perhaps that will be the case this time.

That would be nice. (Assuming the change was in the right direction.)

Welp, buckle up. Time to watch another interesting four years.

Abulsme - Thu, 20 Jan 2005, 18:37:19 PST
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Catching up on email here at work while having C-Span on in the background. Wasn't going to make any more comments for the moment, but...

They showed what looked like an ANSWER related protester group chanting over and over again:

Hey Bush, we know you... your daddy was a killer too!
Hey Bush, we know you... your daddy was a killer too!
Hey Bush, we know you... your daddy was a killer too!
Hey Bush, we know you... your daddy was a killer too!
Hey Bush, we know you... your daddy was a killer too!
OK, just a message to these type of guys. It is folks like you that caused the re-election of W. (Or at least helped it.)

You have every right to protest. You have every right to protest in rude and distasteful ways. I think it is wrong that they have been doing this "designated free speech zones" thing to restrict protesters to certain areas. But what you are doing with such hateful chants is counter-productive, and only makes YOU look bad, not W or the Republicans.

There are many ways to show your displeasure with the choices W made, your dissapointment with the election results, and probably even your lack of respect for the man. But there are ways that are civil and constructive, and there are ways that do nothing but make you look like radical baffoons. If you actually have any desire to "win hearts and minds" and get more people to move closer to your viewpoints, rather than just getting yourselves on TV and making fools of yourselves, you might try some other tactics.

Ad hominim attacks, not just on the man, but on his father (who I at least think was a much better president) just seems desperate and petty and will turn away more people than they convince. As it is you are chanting only to those who already agree with you. What signs or chants should you have used instead? I don't know, I'm not a chant writer. But surely you could have come up with something that makes you look better than that.

Maybe the folks at the "Counter-Inaugural" did better and had some rational speeches and expressed their discontent in productive and convincing ways. I don't know, I didn't watch it. Perhaps I will watch some of it off C-Span's website later. I hope it was. Cause the folks that C-Span showed just then during the motorcade were just sad. Of course, the folks who usually make TV are usually the most outrageous ones. The protesters who are indeed reasonable rarely get covered. Which is of course part of the reason people are outrageous. It does get them on TV. But it does not help their cause.

Abulsme - Thu, 20 Jan 2005, 12:49:10 PST
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Three Out Of Four

imageThe picture is the metro ticket from Inauguration Day 1993. I have the metro tickets from inauguration days 1997 and 2001 as well, but they are in a box somewhere and I apperantly never scanned them. I hope I can find them as I unpack.

Anyway, this is the first Inauguration I have missed since I have been able to vote. And well, since I missed one I doubt I will try again in 4 years, or 8, or whatnot. That tradition is done. I am kind of sad about it. It was a fun thing to do for a news junkie. Doesn't matter who won or lost or anything like that, it was just good to be a witness, in person, to those historical moments.

Having said that, I of course had a better and much more comfortable view and could hear better sitting in my family room watching it projected on the wall than I ever would have had at the event itself. I watched on C-Span so as to get just the events themselves, not people endlessly talking and commenting on them. It was fun to watch the people come out and see how many I could recognize and to watch the interactions between them.


Renquist managed, but definately did not look good. Did anyone else hear the mechanical rasping as he spoke? Kudos to him to coming out and doing it anyway. I know he is trying to finish out at least this Supreme Court term, but looks like W is definatly going to get to appoint a Chief Justice.

Bush's speech did its thing I guess, but was not really memorable in any way. It has only been about an hour, and I already forgot everything he said.

Anyway, I can't think of many things I think W did right in his first term, but I wish him luck on the second. Regardless of if he was my choice or if I agree with him, lots of things are in his hands for the next four years. May he make better choices than he did last time.

Oh well. I have to get back to work now. I had more fun medical related tests to follow up from those kidney stones this morning, and I extended that by a little to watch the inauguration, but I've been gone long enough.

Abulsme - Thu, 20 Jan 2005, 10:31:24 PST
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Mon 17 Jan 2005

Work's New Web

My employer just did a major update of the company website. If you want to have an idea what I am involved in at work, take a look. If you work somewhere that might be interested in using the product, drop me an email and I'll hook you up with our sales guys. :-)

Accent Technologies Home

Advanced Document Management Solutions for fast and precise control over critical business documents

for Financial Services: Leading financial firms use Accent Librarian™ to manage the creation and distribution of presentations, pitch books and documents to clients around the world.

for Healthcare: Many leading healthcare and pharmaceutical firms use Accent Librarian for fast access and distribution of critical information and documents.

for Sales and Marketing: With Accent Librarian, sales team members can create tailored presentations, brochures and proposal documents and marketing can maintain precise control over the quality and accuracy of information.

Abulsme - Mon, 17 Jan 2005, 12:57:18 PST
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Sun 16 Jan 2005

New Traffic Chart

Time for yet another new graph. I have a few more of these in the works, then I'll be getting back to updating the old graphs. This one is a chart of the number of visits this site gets on a day to day basis. In case you are wondering, at the moment the average is 74 visits per day. Most of those people are here by mistake though, but hey, a visit is a visit! Visits Chart

This shows "visits" which is always somewhat of a controversial number.  It counts all hits from the same internet address within a certain period of time as one "visit" even though in real life, some seperate "visitors" may share an IP address.  Other single visitors may actually show up being from multiple IP addresses depending on their proxy settings.  And caching can throw all sorts of stuff off.  But hey, it is a number, and it shows trends, so I will graph it!

Abulsme - Sun, 16 Jan 2005, 09:51:53 PST
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Wed 12 Jan 2005

Time for a TRUE Binary Clock

Yesterday morning at work I noticed that one of my coworkers had a LED Binary Clock. We got to talking, and I mentioned how bogus it was that it wastn't actually purely binary, and still represented digits from our normal 24/60/60 system. I joked that I would whip up a web version that did it right. I didn't actually intend to. But over lunch I needed a break, so I did. Most of it was done in 20 minutes over lunch. (I was slow since I hadn't done this kind of thing in years.) I ended up refining it slightly more during another short break I had in the afternoon, then once I got home I started cleaning it up for posting here, made new images, etc. Anyway... my new binary clock is now ready!

Abulsme True Binary Time

A number of places sell items like the ThinkGeek LED Binary Clock.  These proport to show the time in binary and thus be all geeky and cool.  But they fake it.  They just take the normal standard time in HH:MM:SS format and show each of the six digits as a binary number... This is simply NOT geeky enough.  True geeks will want a clock like what I present here.

This is a true binary time clock where the time is represented by one binary fraction representing the portion of the day that has passed. The first bit is half days, the second is quarter days, then eighths, etc. as well as their on and off graphics. The clock shows the local time from your computer and reflects the time zone you have set, so it is only as accurate as your own computer's clock. The last bit flips once every 1/65536th of a day, otherwise known as approximately every 1.3184 seconds.  This is truely a binary clock.  Not like those wannabes that use 24/60/60.
Hmmm... Now I just need to get someone to make an actual physical one of these so I can have one on my desk or hanging on my wall!

Abulsme - Wed, 12 Jan 2005, 03:50:04 PST
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Tue 11 Jan 2005

What Would Dave Think?

To the Wendy's on Wickham in Melbourne, FL. Dot the clown is great on your Tuesday family nights. Amy loves her. Obviously many other kids do too. We come most weeks after Amy has bass lessons and while Brandy is in chorus practice.

All kudos to the clown!

A suggestion though... it is very busy, but predictably and consistantly busy... perhaps consider adding a third register. I know there are space issues, but I'm sure it could be figured out.

Or failing that, would you perhaps consider hiring some cashiers who don't operate in fucking slow motion?

I love Wendy's, but 45 minutes is too damn long to wait in line for a Classic Double Combo.

Just a thought.

Thank you.

Abulsme - Tue, 11 Jan 2005, 16:43:40 PST
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Mon 10 Jan 2005

Busy as a Sam

Since the New Year, work has been nuts. I have been very busy at work. Full days. Less "slack time". And full long days. 8 AM to 7 PM pretty much every day. Usually no lunch or lunch at the desk. Lots of cola that I actually shouldn't be drinking, but am.

It has been fun. I actually feel good being useful and productive. Much better than having extra time to kill or let myself procrastinate, as I am wont to do if given the option sometimes. But it is also stressful and exausting. I finish up at around 7 PM (as I am doing right now) and I just want to go home and crash right away. So stuff at home is falling behind.

Looks like this pace will probably last at least the end of the month given what we have coming up. Maybe after that I'll be able to rest. For a little while. Maybe.

But it is "good busy".

Time to go home.

Abulsme - Mon, 10 Jan 2005, 15:44:37 PST
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Blinded by the Waves

Oh yeah, and one thing I should note. We went to the beach yesterday and had a wonderful time for several hours. But as usual, I was a dork. While I knew it was an issue to watch out for, and had taken precautions other times I went to the beach, and had even talked about MINUTES EARLIER. This time I neither used those little strappy things, or took the items in question off. So a couple hours into the fun playing in the waves thing, a wave hit me just right and swept my glasses away into the ocean. They are probably somewhere in the Azores by now. Ooops.

Right after the wave hit and I came up, it took me a few seconds to realize something was different. Then I wondered if I had just left the glasses out by the towels (like I should have) this time. Then I realized, no, I did not. They had just been knocked off. I spent a couple fruitless minutes checking the area immediately around me with my hands and feet, but of course no luck. Then both Brandy and my mom decided to walk the shore near there "in case they washed up" but I was pretty sure that would be fruitless and was correct. (Although it was still fun walking and looking at all the things we DID see.)

Anyway, lucklily my spare pair were in the glove compartment of the car (where I usually keep them) so my eyesight was rapidly restored, although with an older and not quite as nice frame.

But it still sucks.

Maybe this is an appropriate time to order contacts before the prescription I have for them runs out.

Abulsme - Mon, 10 Jan 2005, 02:59:32 PST
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Sun 09 Jan 2005

An Old Random Vacation - Updated

I have lamented for several years that the 1998 Q4 random vacation, the very first of the true random vacations, did not have a full narrative like the rest of the random vacations. This was the trip to Lac Megantic, Quebec that I took with my mother the weekend after Thanksgiving that year. It was only a two day trip, but it started the whole random vacation thing for me. However I only started writing up the trips and posting details about them with the next random trip. For years this website has had a note apologizing for the lack of a narrative and pointing to a few pictures.

Recently though I asked my mother if she could write up something about the trip since she had been with me. She kindly obliged, and now the Lac Megantic trip has a full narrative like the others. Click through below to see the whole thing.

1998 Q4 Random Vacation

There were fewer and fewer tracks as we passed uninhabited summer cottages. I kept suggesting a driveway etc where we might turn around as I looked straight down a very steep bank to the stream in the distance below on my side of the car. Roads were treacherous and getting stuck was a very real possibility - as was sliding out of control. However, this was Sam's trip and he was in no mood for suggestions - especially from a parent - so I TRIED not to either boss or panic! But I was REALLY anxious - and increasingly annoyed at Sam's pigheadedness at continuing forward, higher and deeper into snow!  Finally Sam had to really persist - going forward, then back - trying and trying - spinning wheels - to make it up one hill only to decide about a mile further that we should turn back after all.

Abulsme - Sun, 9 Jan 2005, 19:26:59 PST
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Mom Visit


This weekend my mom is visiting. There she is above with Amy. She arrived Friday night, will leave early Monday morning. Short visit, but got to see the new place. We showed her around a bit yesterday. Old house. New house. The general area. She is insisting on helping with moving and cleaning and such. But we are trying to do some fun things too. In a few minutes we're going to leave to go on a beach run. We might try to fit in the zoo too, but depending how long we stay at the beach, there may not be time.

It is her first visit down here. A little different than than PA!

Anyway, off to do the beach thing...

Abulsme - Sun, 9 Jan 2005, 08:51:08 PST
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Darkflash: Home

This is the LAST in a series of posts with items that would have been posted on my blog if I had had a blog during the months I did not have a blog. This was originally sent to friends and family on September 9, 2004 04:09:57 UTC.

Well, got home a few hours ago. Long trip. Long week. Very tired. The general area is somewhat a mess. Lots of signs down, trees down, electricity is sporadic block to block. The big palm tree in front of the house we are in fell down right across the driveway. One of the last things we did before we left was make room in the garage for Brandy's second car. If we hadn't, the tree would have whacked the car right in the middle. There was some random debris otherwise, and the number "2" from the "1270" on the house fell down. But otherwise the house was fine. And we had electric. In talking to one of Amy's friends who stayed the whole time, the block only lost power for half an hour or less. Good.

Meanwhile, the place we have the offer in on didn't fare quite as well. The enclosure around the pool area collapsed and is now in the pool, and there appears to have been at least some roof damage too causing some water damage on the living room ceiling. And some minor damage to some of the exterior trim. And like everywhere, some broken trees and bushes. Looks like our options are: walk away, delay closing until they fix everything, do some sort of deal with the insurance money being credited to us. Right now we are leaning toward #2. But we will be looking in more detail at the options tomorrow.

Anyway, things look pretty good. Now it is just time to undo the plywood and get the place back cleaned up and in normal condition and get back to the routine life... oh... maybe not...

Of course, in the end, Ivan did not hit us, but Jeanne did. But all that was already posted about on this blog...

Abulsme - Sun, 9 Jan 2005, 08:22:30 PST
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New Graph: % Body Fat!

Drum Roll... yet another new graph is being introduced. Woo! As with the other in the Graphs section of my website, this will be updated periodically.

Sam's Body Fat History

Since I first got a scale that measures body fat as well as weight, I have kept track of that as well as weight. Off and on.  Not all the time.  And a bunch of the data hasn't yet been entered here.  I will slowly get all the historical readings back into the charts here.

For a male my age the "healthy" range for % Body Fat is 8% to 20%.  Overfat is 20% to 25%.  Above 25% is considered Obese.  Oops.  As you can see, I've been in the bad categories.  I am working my way back down.

Abulsme - Sun, 9 Jan 2005, 06:45:10 PST
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Fri 07 Jan 2005

Certification and All That

I figured for completeness and all, I should post about the final certification of the electoral college results.

Congress Certifies Bush's Win After Protest
(Joanne Kenen, Reuters via Yahoo! News)

The rare objection to vote certification, the first filed in decades, forced the House and Senate to halt their joint session, usually a routine and ceremonial affair. Each chamber then debated the objection, and rejected it, the Senate by a 74-1 vote, the House 267-31. The state-by-state certification was completed a few hours later.

Bush got 286 electoral votes, Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry 251 and North Carolina Democrat John Edwards, Kerry's running mate, got one electoral vote for president.
(via DrudgeReport)

I was happy to see the challenge, not because I saw any values in the merits, Bush clearly won Ohio, but just because it shows some of the arcane details of the process, and that is always fun. Too bad it wasn't able to be a bit more disruptive.

If we had the exact same results in the electoral college, but the Democrats actually were in the majority in both houses of congress, would they have the guts to use a challenge like this to change the results of the election? I think they would not. Even if the leadership was in favor, I think there would be enough defections to prevent it. But imagine the hullaballoo that would cause if it did happen! It may not ever happen, but the fact that it is completely possible by the procedures in place is very interesting and fun.

If any party that had the majority in both houses was unified enough and didn't give a damn about precident and the popular will, they could always refuse to ratify the results whenever the other party won the presidency, thus throwing the election into the House of Representatives where they could pick their own guy. (Or under certain situations, someone else entirely.) Fun stuff. Fun stuff.

I must also say though that I am dissapointed that John L. Kerry did not get 31 electoral votes. He certainly deserved them. John F Kerry robbed him!

Good for John Edwards with his 3rd place showing though! Perhaps he will try for 2nd place next time around!

Abulsme - Fri, 7 Jan 2005, 10:30:40 PST
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Thu 06 Jan 2005

New Garmin StreetPilot!!

Lunch time, so time for a quick post... uh... and maybe I'll get some food, maybe not. :-)

I've been holding off on replacing my GPS just because it isn't the highest priority to spend money on even though it has a huge orange spot in the middle of the screen that makes it difficult to use. But the wait has paid off! Garmin has announced a new unit!!!

Garmin StreetPilot c330

Our StreetPilot "c-series" GPS navigators feature a simple touchscreen interface, with automatic route calculation to any destination and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions along the way. Selecting a destination is straightforward and requires only a limited amount of input from the user. Plus, the StreetPilot c320 and StreetPilot c330 allow you to choose between a three-dimensional navigation view or the more traditional “bird’s eye” overhead view.

For the ultimate out-of-the-box convenience, the StreetPilot c330 comes pre-loaded with highly detailed MapSource City Select street data of the entire United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The database features an industry-leading five million-plus points of interest—including hotels, restaurants, gas stations, ATMs, and attractions. (The c320 comes with a 128 MB SD card and a MapSource City Select CD-ROM for data transfer from a PC via a USB connection.)

The centerpiece of both units is a bright, 3.5-inch diagonal, 16-bit color display that makes navigation a snap. The StreetPilot c330 features dual integrated speakers for high-quality voice prompts, and an internal lithium-ion battery for out-of-car route planning.

The new StreetPilot c-series boasts distinctive and sleek styling—the only buttons are a rotary volume knob and an on/off switch. The device is secured by a suction-mount cradle that fastens to the windshield for easy portability between vehicles. Users can customize their unit’s appearance with an array of colored faceplates (sold separately).

Suggested Retail Price:
$964.27 U.S.D. (for domestic US market only)

Expected Availability:
March 2005

No detailed reviews with screenshots and such yet. I can only hope that despite what they say about it being "Easy" they have retained all the features of previous StreetPilots. The only thing that could make me not want this would be if they removed some of the "geek features" like downloading tracks to your computer, entering destinations by latitude and longitude rather than by address, etc.... But Gramin has been pretty good about that sort of thing. If this thing is feature complete, then the larger screen plus preloaded nationwide maps and everything will make it a no brainer... once enough of the critical stuff is taken care of to make an optional thing such as this a reasonable way to spend money again.

Can't wait to see detailed reviews of this thing once it is actually available!

Abulsme - Thu, 6 Jan 2005, 10:12:33 PST
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My left shoulder (which I injured several years ago when I went skiing with Chris on a slope that was more ice than snow because there was freezing rain, and which was beyond my essentially non-existant skill level because the kiddie slopes were closed that day) is really hurting this morning. I'm sure I aggrivated it with all the moving heavy things and sleeping on floors and air mattresses and such. Anyway, it really hurts. I should take something maybe. I think I have one Vioxx left from when I originally got treated from the shoulder, but they have that whole heart attack thing going now, so maybe not. Maybe some OTC Motrin or something. Dunno.

I had a fever a couple days ago, but it is gone now. Still have a headache and a cough though. Amy is sick too. And I am just tired. There has been a lot going on. And not enough sleep. (Although the day I came home from work with a fever, I went right to sleep and basically slept through to morning.)

I look forward to the day, which probably won't be for a couple weeks, where we can take a whole weekend and just relax without having to worry about things we have to get done.

Abulsme - Thu, 6 Jan 2005, 06:03:46 PST
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Wed 05 Jan 2005

Up and Running is now up and running from the new house. Yea! It was stubborn for a bit, but with some help from Chris I got it all happy again.

I gained a bunch of download speed, but also lost a bunch of upload speed. Which makes for better web surfing and all that, but isn't as good for running a site off of. I also no longer have a seperate fixed IP for the server. But that is all accounted for, and it is working. (As is obvious if you are reading this.)

For reference, here are my DSL Reports test results:

At the old house:

2004-10-27 23:17:30 EST: 805 / 600
Your download speed : 824753 bps, or 805 kbps.
A 100.6 KB/sec transfer rate.
Your upload speed : 615072 bps, or 600 kbps.
At the new house:
2005-01-06 00:05:38 EST: 2571 / 351
Your download speed : 2633624 bps, or 2571 kbps.
A 321.4 KB/sec transfer rate.
Your upload speed : 359534 bps, or 351 kbps.
Of course those test results are influenced by many factors and come out different every time you run them, and I just ran them once in each location rather than running it many times and taking an average, but the general conclusions are I'm sure accurate. Much faster downloads, much slower uploads. A trade off I guess.

Anyway, I'm up and running again. The disconnect order is in for the DSL at the old place.

Oh, I forgot to bring my monitor for the server, so all the setup I did today I did using my projector that I normally watch Tivo and DVDs on, projected onto a 2 foot square area of a blue wall. Hey, it worked!

The next posts will be about something increadibly interesting I'm sure rather than a new connection for the server. Stay tuned!

Abulsme - Wed, 5 Jan 2005, 21:12:20 PST
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Broadband is a Go

While I was at work today, the cable guy came and turned on the broadband at the new house.

Even though cable might not be as good as DSL for this purpose, I'll be attempting to move there later tonight. So there will be some downtime. And hey, cable might not be ideal, but a couple months ago I was running this website off a dial up 56k connection! It will definately be better than that!

Today was a late day at work, but it is finally time to leave. To do more packing and moving! Yea!

Abulsme - Wed, 5 Jan 2005, 15:53:50 PST
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Tue 04 Jan 2005

Loading, Unloading and Bending Over

Got up at 7 AM yesteday. Amy to school by 7:30 AM. Time for a breakfast at Denny's then we got the moving van at 9 AM. Started loading it up immediately. I thought work was closed yesterday. Turns out that was a miscommunication. I was supposed to be there. Ooops. Too late though, we were knee deep in moving furniture. Amy came home from school at 2:30 PM and immediately fell asleep. (Sick it seems.) Truck loading continued until around 8:30 PM. Back home and unleading by about 9 PM. (The dog really needed a walk when we first got home... it had been 14 hours.)

Then the unloading. All of us were tired and cranky. Unloading was done by 2 AM. We had moved everything to the old house that was too big to fit in a car. The rest would come slowly in carloads. Brandy noticed though that the truck wouldn't start any more. We crashed by 3 AM.

6 AM the alarm rings. 7:20 AM out the door. 7:45 Amy in School. I make a quick trip to work, then head to a doctors appointment. Last word I had from Brandy is that she had called U-Haul and they would have someone call her about the truck and wouldn't charge us for being late as long as it was because the truck was broken.

So I headed to the Doctor. A urologist. For follow up on those kidney stones. In addition to the usual "fill this cup please" I had some fun "bend over" and "let me squeeze that" type examinations that involved rubber gloves. (I'm being sarcastic when I say fun.) In the end, they just scheduled me for a bunch more tests. Kidney stones are unusual in people my age, even with a family history, and the recurring UTIs I get as well in between stones (which may or may not be related) make it even more unusual. Apperantly my "frequency" is also abnormally high for a person my age, especially at night. So, I have a few tests prescribed over the rest of January, with a follow up in early February. Oh joy. One of the tests is just X-Rays. If more kidney stones are actually large enough to be visible on the X-Ray (as I believe 2 of the 3 I passed over the last month were)... oh, did I mention the 3rd one? That was last week. It was tiny, but shaped like a needle. Sorry for not posting pictures. Anyway, if there are any big enough to see, he may recomend the ultrasonic stone busting lipotripsy thing rather than just letting them pass. We shall see. My dad had that a few years back. It did not sound pleasant. Although perhaps more pleasant than the stones themselves.

Sigh. We'll see if after this round of tests they actually have anything useful to say. Last time I had a bunch of tests (around 2001) they didn't come back with any useful info. Just "Yup, you have kidney stones. Drink lots of water and cranberry juice and avoid carbonation and foods high in calcium, and if it starts to hurt, take these pain pills." Thanks.

Anyway, about half way through the Doctors appointment, I realized that I did not have my phone. But Brandy was supposed to update me on what was happening with the truck. Including perhaps needing a ride back from the UHaul place if she did end up returning the truck. So when I got out of the Doctor, I headed straight back to work... um... OK... um.... I stopped at a drive through coffee place because I was about to keel over from exaustion.

When I got to work I found my phone and started checking my voice mail. There were EIGHT missed called from Brandy. I started listening. Lets just say they started out happy, but got less and less so as they progressed. I ended up rushing to meet Brandy and eventually all was OK, in the mean time though, Brandy had had a very bad day. I'll leave it to Brandy to decide if she is going to tell any more of that story. We'll see if she posts anything about it on her blog. :-) I feel really bad for not having had my phone. Most of what happened to Brandy could have been avoided. Oops. :-( Between moving the furniture and this morning, Brandy may be fairly out of commission for days. :-( I'm very sore myself from the moving and such, I can't imagine how Brandy is feeling. :-( We probably should have coughed up the extra cash to pay movers instead of doing it ourselves. But we are trying to conserve where we can. Sigh!

OK. Doctor's appointment over. Coffee helping me stay sort of awake. I'm now back at work. Breaktime over. Time to do some work for some of our best clients. I have several things that need to get done today. Time to do them.

Abulsme - Tue, 4 Jan 2005, 08:19:26 PST
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Mon 03 Jan 2005

Inauguration and Moving

I had mentioned that I would be trying to continue a tradition this year of going to every Presidential Inauguration since I was old enough to vote, no matter who won. Well... with the new house and moving and everything, that just does not look like it will happen this year. We have enough "unusual expenses" at the moment to deal with, and this is just one that although it was a nice tradition, is not on the "required" list. So I'll be watching this one on TV I think.

A shame, but that is the way it has to be I think.

We rented a UHaul today for all the furniture. We're in the process of loading the truck right now. Lots of things to move. And to move them, one first has to move the things in front of and on them. So a break occationally is welcome.

But come tonight, we'll actually have some furniture in the new place. Not everything we need, but some. That will be good.

Abulsme - Mon, 3 Jan 2005, 09:22:12 PST
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Sun 02 Jan 2005

A View for Chad


This is the view from our back yard.

It is the 17th tee I believe.

There are people coming and going teeing off every few minutes all day long.

The distance from the edge of our property to the teeing off area is probably about 20 feet I would guess. Haven't measured, but it is close regardless.

I thought Chad would appreciate it.

It won't stay there long though. Word is that the golf course has been sold to developers and a new housing development will be there instead within the next 2 to 3 years. Maybe sooner. That sucks a little, but on the other hand we probably got the house for a bit less because of it. So we're OK with that.

Moving is moving right along. Right now we are going back and forth to the old house several times a day, loading up both cars with boxes every time we do. On Monday we have a UHaul to do the furniture. (We looked at having pros move the furniture, but it would cost about 5 times as much as the UHaul so decided to do it ourselves again.) The idea will be to move everything too big to fit in a car on Monday. The rest we'll keep getting a car load at a time until everything is there though.

We've been staying at the new place though. No beds yet, so it isn't the most comfortable in the world, but it is all part of the "this is now home" thing. Brandy has painted the kitchen and is redoing the paper stuff in the cabinets and other things like that. We've been washing and cleaning all over. I've been trying to figure out some of the pool gadgets, but we won't REALLY get into that until after we've had it professionally cleaned at least once. (We got a check at closing for that since without the screen and with the pool left unmaintained for months, it is a mess... although they did remove the plants and tadpoles that were living there prior to closing.)

Oh, and we of course got the DirecTV and projector and DVD player and everything all set up. Had to have all that right away.

DSL is not available at the new location (too far from the CO for reasonable service) so we are going the Cable route again. Should have an install date by Wednesday. Hopefully it will be installed shortly after that. I'm hoping for this week, but it may well take a couple weeks. The data line for the house should be active Tuesday though, so we'll have at least dialup there.

Oh, and I started to set up the data line, and the first phone number it suggested for us when translated to words spelled 321-ORGY-DOLL. But there was a computer glitch and we had to start over. (The stupid online BellSouth thing didn't like Safari and kept giving me an error on the final form telling me that I had to be over 18 to register even though my year of birth was properly 1971.) The second time we got 321-SALT-MAP. Too bad, although I guess Salt Maps are OK too. I like salt and I like maps. So all is good. NOTE: This is going to be a data only line, for the Tivo and the like, so if you call it, don't expect anyone to answer.

Well, it is time to take another load to the new house, so I have to sign off for today.

We don't have those pictures we promised yet, but will by later this week. Promise.

Abulsme - Sun, 2 Jan 2005, 15:25:49 PST
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