Archives: May 2006

Tue 30 May 2006

David Ramseur Minter

Time for another ancestor. This time my father's father... born 1912 in North Carolina, died in 1991 in Arizona. With quite a lot of interesting events in between.

David Ramseur Minter

On 27 Sep 1955 a "Mass Meeting" of the white elite of Holmes County, Mississippi met and accused Dr. Minter and his co-practicioner Dr. Gene Cox of "communist doings" at Providence due to the fact that they treated both blacks and whites at the same facility. They were told to get out of town. David and Sue stayed for about another year, but then the pressure on them and on Providence Farm became intolerable and the family moved to Tucson, Arizona to join son William (Bill).
On the wiki page I link to the three pages of a biographical article published in 1997. It is a fascinating history, especially the years in Mississippi. In fact, there is a whole book on the history of the "experiment" that my grandfather was a part of in the late 40's and early 50's. I'd definitely recommend the article (it is a very quick read) to everybody and the book for anybody that is interested in a bit deeper view.

Abulsme - Tue, 30 May 2006, 08:20:44 PDT
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Why am I Up?

This last evening I've had the opposite problem. I fell asleep at 3:30 UTC (early for me) but then work up at 8:30 UTC (middle of the night). Then I was up two hours. Then tried to get back to sleep another two hours. I only succeeded in lying in bed tossing and turning. Then just a few minutes ago I decided that even though I would really like a couple more hours of sleep and feel quite tired, that given my failure to fall back asleep and the fact the sun is now up, I should just go ahead and get up even though normally it would be another two (maybe three) hours until I would be stumbling out of bed. Ideally at this time of year given my work schedule, I'd sleep from about 6 UTC to 14 UTC each day. So I am getting up, although I resent it. Yawn!!!

But usually, I have the opposite problem. Hitting snooze for hours and not getting up when I should. People keep coming up with good ideas for alarm clocks to combat this sort of thing, but I haven't seen any of them actually AVAILABLE TO BUY yet. And this one is no different. Just another design prototype. Come on, somebody please sell one of these?

Anyway, I love the idea.

Alarm clock that won't give up
Stephen McGinty, Scotsman

The wall-mounted alarm clock can be switched off only when its user climbs out of bed, stands directly in front and repeats, by pressing coloured buttons, a sequence generated randomly each morning. If the user fails to repeat the sequence swiftly, the alarm will continue to blare until the task is completed correctly.
(via Digg)

Abulsme - Tue, 30 May 2006, 05:18:15 PDT
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Mon 29 May 2006

Generation 1

With the last post I finished off Generation 1. So time to do a "where am I from" summary. "From" in the sense that people say their family is from England, or Germany, or whatever. I'll do this after each generation I fully complete. At the moment I have enough in my spreadsheet that I know I can "complete" at least through Generation 4 (my 16 great-great-grandparents) in that I have all of their names. I don't however have where all of them were born, so when we get there part of me might be from "Unknown". We'll see. Generation 5 and beyond I also am missing people entirely. (For instance, I only know 24 out of 32 names for Generation 5 at the moment... then on a percentage basis each succeeding generation has fewer.)


Based on the 2 people in Generation 1, Sam is from:

50%: District of Columbia, USA
50%: Ohio, USA

Of course, I should have made a post like this after finishing Generation 0. It would have looked like:

Based on the 1 person in Generation 0, Sam is from:

100%: Wisconsin, USA

Abulsme - Mon, 29 May 2006, 04:01:37 PDT
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Ruth Marilyn Brandon

Another ancestor, this time my mother. Born in Ohio, lived in a bunch of other places, soon to go back to Ohio. I've actually got a few biographical details on this listing, simply because there were a few paragraphs of such things in the announcement of the award she got last year. I didn't add too much of my own though. Only used what I could find elsewhere. In any case:

Ruth Marilyn Brandon

Abulsme - Mon, 29 May 2006, 03:46:41 PDT
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Sun 28 May 2006

Graphs of Websites


This is very cool. The above is a graph of the home page (right before I made this post) based on the internal structure of the html.

The tool to make these is here.

The full explanation is in the item linked below:

Websites as graphs
(Sala, Aharef)

HTML consists of so-called tags, like the A tag for links, IMG tag for images and so on. Since tags are nested in other tags, they are arranged in a hierarchical manner, and that hierarchy can be represented as a graph. I've written a little app that visualizes such a graph, and here are some screenshots of websites that I often look at.
(via Digg)

Abulsme - Sun, 28 May 2006, 16:44:41 PDT
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Oldest Unanswered Email

As of earlier today my oldest unanswered email turned one year old. Now, this is unanswered email in my inbox, and also includes things that never will be answered, but need to be looked at and perhaps something done with them before they are filed. At the moment my oldest unanswered email is a Google Alert for "Palm Bay" that I received May 28, 2005 01:40:30 GMT It was about a Central Florida Man who was sentenced in the death of a shaken toddler. For this particular email, all I need to do is file it away in the 2005-05 folder, but I haven't done it yet, and it is now a year old.


Abulsme - Sun, 28 May 2006, 15:51:25 PDT
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Titus Buttry's Cr@p Shack

In addition to his long defunct Tripod Site and his not updated all that much Phatback Blog, about a month ago my friend Al opened up an online store (using CafePress) selling t-shirts.

There are such gems as "If I wanted to mow the grass, I wouldn't have had kids!" or "I smell like feet!".


Titus Buttry's Cr@p Shack

Abulsme - Sun, 28 May 2006, 14:57:29 PDT
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William Maynard Minter

Time for another ancestor:

William Maynard Minter

This is my father of course. The bibliographic details aren't completely filled up, I didn't want to take that liberty, but it has links to a few of his books and the basic information. He was born in Washington, DC and after quite a few years in other places, lives there again.

When available, I've usually tried to use a picture from when the person was between 20 and 40 years old. I had a few of those of my father on my computer, but all were too low resolution to be usable. Sometime after we're all moved and I have my stuff again (including old photo books) I'll make a higher res copy of one of those and replace the pic I used. But the pic I used is a good one, just more recent.

And of course, as I get a few generations back, I'll have to take what I can get in terms of pictures because much fewer exist. And of course, beyond a certain point, they don't exist at all.

Abulsme - Sun, 28 May 2006, 14:25:54 PDT
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Sat 27 May 2006

Samuel Antonio Minter

When I was thinking about if I should link to the Wiki or not, there was actually one item that pushed me in this direction. Namely, I have for YEARS been wanting to put a family tree type thing up on Several years ago I'd actually made some templates for the pages and such, but it was kind of a pain, so I never got very far with it. The Wiki thing has really enabled that by just making it a much more frictionless process to quickly get what I want up. I'd actually started with a big Excel spreadsheet and I now have 180 ancestors on that spreadsheet. (And quite a few of the "deep nodes" on there I know I can go deeper, I just haven't yet. For instance, the stuff I mentioned in New Deepest Relative isn't reflected there yet.)

I quickly realized though that I wasn't capturing a lot of interesting information in that format. So I started putting it on the Wiki and adding a lot more info. As of now, I have 28 ancestors up on the Wiki. I'll probably post whenever I add a new ancestor. But first I'll catch up on the ones I've already posted (don't worry, not all at once.) You can of course click through on the Wiki itself and find the others, but I'll post them here one at a time.

So of course, I must start at myself.

Samuel Antonio Minter

I was born in 1971 in Madison, Wisconsin. And I lived a bunch of places. For now I've left my Biography section blank. You may all feel free to add info there if you feel like it. :-)

Other than that, I think I'll start posting the others I already have up based on a breadth first search maybe one a day (maybe more, maybe less, we'll see). If I add new people I'll post them immediately if I already have their direct decedent posted, otherwise they will wait a bit.

Also, despite what I said about nothing being of interest to anybody, once you get several generations down, there are lots of people looking for this kind of information. After all, once you get back six or seven (or more) generations, these folks often have many thousands of decendants. And some of those descendants will also be looking into this kind of stuff. On some of these deep relatives I have found HUNDREDS of pages on the web where people are trying to sort out what information is known about some of these people. Most duplicate each other, and for those people I'll be duplicating too, but I'm trying to be nicely comprehensive when I can be and link to all my sources, so I might be of use to other people looking for some of these people.

Abulsme - Sat, 27 May 2006, 11:59:47 PDT
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I set up a personal wiki for myself a little while ago. Over a month ago at any rate. At work I had been using one on a daily basis to document projects and also just to keep a personal to do list organized. So I decided I wanted one at home too.

From the begining there was nothing to stop random people from playing with it if they found out the URL from somewhere (and there were a number of ways to discover it). But I was going back and forth on if I should lock it down so that only "authorized people" could see it, or just open it up and link to it from here.

As you can see, I ended up deciding to go ahead and link to it.

Not that there is all that much on it that anybody other than me would care about. For the most part it is an online to do list to remind me to do things. And yup, there is indeed a sort of grocery list on it at the moment too. All that sort of thing. But I'm also using it as a scratchpad for notes on various projects I want to do. Most of which, again, will be of zero interest to anybody but me. But hey, if I link to it and let Googlebot and the like spider it, then who knows, something might end up someday bieng of interest to someone... unlikely, but hey, you never know.

It is an open Wiki, so if anybody reading this wants to, feel free to dive in and contribute anything you may want. Add information to any of my projects that you think might be useful, or just add things to my to do list or grocery list if you feel like it. Whatever. Of course, things that are actually constructive would be prefered to adding "Please Bathe, you stink" to the to do list or some such. But since it is open, I really don't have all that much control over that.

At the moment I require registration, but anybody can register and start editing and such instantly. If that ends up being abused, I'll probably have to shut that off or restrict it in various ways. But for the moment, I'll give it a shot and leave it open. (Aside from registration.)

The links are on the left nav of the Home Page now and will stay there indefinately unless I decide to pull it at some point.

Or of course, here it is in this post:


Abulsme - Sat, 27 May 2006, 00:04:50 PDT
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Fri 26 May 2006

Unhappy Post

Abulsme - Fri, 26 May 2006, 17:16:26 PDT
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Mouse Arm

For the last couple of days my mousing arm has been getting sore and achy. To the point where I really want to not be sitting at the computer doing stuff, even though both at work and at home, there is lots I'd like to be doing that involves using my mouse. Last night I didn't do anything on the computer at home (other than watch a couple of things passively) cause every time I sat down, my hand just said "no". And my whole arm just didn't feel right even while just lying down. Woke up this morning, thought it was all better. But after an hour or so at work it is starting to hurt again.

Hope this isn't the start of a real RSI sort of thing. That would really suck. It has just been a couple days though, so hopefully it will go away over the long weekend. Guess I might want to plan on reading or something rather than spending the whole three days on the computer though.

Abulsme - Fri, 26 May 2006, 11:00:59 PDT
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Wed 24 May 2006

That high pitched whine you hear (or not)

I loved the idea of this as a teen repellant, it was just nicely clever, but I love this idea even more. It is just such an appropriate counter reaction...

Pupils perform 'alarming' feat

A high-pitched alarm which cannot be heard by adults has been hijacked by schoolchildren to create ringtones so they can get away with using phones in class.

Techno-savvy pupils have adapted the Mosquito alarm, used to drive teenage gangs away from shopping centres.

The alarm, which has been praised by police, is highly effective because its ultra-high sound can be heard only by youths but not by most people over 20.

Schoolchildren have recorded the sound, which they named Teen Buzz, and spread it from phone to phone via text messages and Bluetooth technology.

Now they can receive calls and texts during lessons without teachers having the faintest idea what is going on.
(via Digg)

Abulsme - Wed, 24 May 2006, 16:45:45 PDT
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Fri 19 May 2006

All Hands 2

Right now I'm sitting waiting for the quarterly all hands meeting at my company to start. This is my second one. I won't be able to call this the 'new job' much longer, if at all. I am certainly now past the point where I get slack for being the 'new guy'. Yup. I'm entrenched.

Now just need to get Brandy and Amy out here and get the house sold.

Abulsme - Fri, 19 May 2006, 08:58:41 PDT
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Thu 18 May 2006

Speaking of Monkeys...

OK, OK, not monkeys, apes. Namely two specific apes, humans and chimps.

Humans, chimps may have bred after split
(Gareth Cook, Boston Globe)

The lead scientist said that this jarring conflict with the fossil record, combined with a number of other strange genetic patterns the team uncovered, led him to a startling explanation: that human ancestors evolved apart from the chimpanzees for hundreds of thousands of years, and then started breeding with them again before a final break.

''Something very unusual happened," said David Reich, one of the report's authors and a geneticist at the Broad and Harvard Medical School.
(via SlashDot)

Abulsme - Thu, 18 May 2006, 18:14:47 PDT
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Always Trust the Monkey

This is awesome.

Jim Cramer has built his reputation picking stocks and making rapid-fire analysis on his cable TV show Mad Money with Jim Cramer. But is he really that good?

At we show how you would be better picking ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ at random, which is pretty much how our monkey, Leonard, picks stocks. And Leonard is right more often then Jim. With a lot less noise.
(via a mailing list at work)

Abulsme - Thu, 18 May 2006, 14:48:24 PDT
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Wed 17 May 2006

An Interview with Someone about Something

A Conversation with Werner Vogels
(ACM Queue)

Many think of Amazon as "that hugely successful online bookstore." You would expect Amazon CTO Werner Vogels to embrace this distinction, but in fact it causes him some concern. "I think it's important to realize that first and foremost Amazon is a technology company," says Vogels. And he's right. Over the past years, Vogels has helped Amazon grow from an online retailer (albeit one of the largest, with more than 55 million active customer accounts) into a platform on which more than 1 million active retail partners worldwide do business. Behind Amazon's successful evolution from retailer to technology platform is its SOA (service-oriented architecture), which broke new technological ground and proved that SOAs can deliver on their promises.
(via Slashdot)

Abulsme - Wed, 17 May 2006, 17:33:56 PDT
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Ooo Shiny!

Apple introduced the iBook replacement called the MacBook yesterday. Along side the Intel chip and the new option to get it in black for $150 more, Apple made a little change to the finish of the screens. They now have a glossy finish instead of a matte one like previous Mac laptops. John Siracusa examines this choice in detail in the article below.

And we all shine on
(John Siracusa, Ars Technica)

Glossy displays have effectively taken over the entire laptop market. Why are they so popular? Here are three possible reasons.

1. They are better than matte-finish displays.
2. They are cheaper than matte-finish displays.
3. People are idiots.
Guess which one John thinks it is?

Abulsme - Wed, 17 May 2006, 10:49:00 PDT
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My new office mate was having dinner at the restaurant mentioned below as this happened last night.

U-District shooting, gunman on the loose
(Seattle PI)

The shooting occurred just before 9 a.m. at or near the entrance of Ruby Restaurant, 4241 University Way N.E., a Seattle police spokesman said, calling it "very clearly a serious injury."

A cook at the restaurant said the victim ran into Ruby and said, "I've been shot, I've been shot. Help me, help me."

"He was holding his neck with something. We brought some napkins from the table and back from the kitchen and (put) pressure" on the wound, said Alfonso De La Cruz Mata. "It was very scary. I never saw anything like this in my life."

Abulsme - Wed, 17 May 2006, 10:24:49 PDT
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Tue 16 May 2006

Nothing Wrong with Hot Tubs

An article about how people with tendancies toward libertarianism are feeling unhappy within the two parties (especially within the Republican party where they used to feel more at home) and talking about how Libs should be more active and "reclaim" their spot in the conservative coalition of the Republican party.

Hot-Tub Libertarians
(Ryan Sager, Real Clear Politics)

Perhaps the most interesting fact in the Pew survey, however, was that less than 6 in 10 libertarians voted for Bush in 2004. While few libertarians seem to have deserted the president between 2000 and 2004, they are split roughly evenly between the two parties. The Pew survey finds 50 percent of libertarians identifying as Republicans, 41 percent as Democrats.

Given that libertarians' traditional home has been in the conservative base of the Republican Party for about five decades, as part of a strained partnership with social conservatives, their almost 50-50 split between the two parties today is big news.
(via Instapundit)

Of course, I disagree with this completely. For someone who really believes in small government, and that government has no business messing in either our personal affairs *or* our economic affairs... they they have no business being in either one of the two parties. The answer is not to try to "reform" the Republicans into a more Libertarian minded party while tolerating the religious nutjob social conservitives. Nor is it to to try to do something similiar from the Democratic side... it is to admit that the viewpoint is fundamentially different from both and organize that way.

And I'm not talking about the existing Libertarian Party. Too much baggage, and too many nutjobs. My entire presidential voting history was Ross Perot (Independant) in 1992 and then Harry Brown (Libertarian) in 1996 and 2000. Then the Libertarians nominated a wacko in 2004. Otherwise I probably would have voted for them again. But the LP does not have a grounding in reality. They are a bit too rigorous in their ideology and need a good dose of practicality. They will never on their own grow into something more meaningful.

What you need are Lib minded Republicans and Democrats who are already elected (there are not many, but there are perhaps a few.. I think... can't think of any names off the top of my head though... which is a little sad...) having the guts to just go independant and speak out and not go along when their respective parties are doing the wrong thing. Enough of those, and perhaps there might eventually be a big enough block to then form a "third party" or whatnot. Unfortunately, the number of "mavericks" in both parties seems to be shrinking, not growing.

You also need Lib minded voters to NOT vote for people (in either party) that clearly advocate big government positons (either from the Conservative or Liberal side). Unfortunately, there are often no alternatives on the ballot that one can feel comfortable with. I still resent the Libs for not giving me anybody I felt I could vote for in 2004 and making me feel like I had no choice but to vote for Kerry. Now, given the complete disaster W has been, it is hard to imagine Kerry would not have been better, but that is a very low bar. I also can not imagine Kerry would have been good. Had Kerry been elected I'm sure I would be furious at many things he would have done in the past couple of years... just different things than W has done. Next time around, if there is nobody on the ballot I feel comfortable with, I will be doing write ins. The Kerry vote was a mistake and will not happen again. No voting for someone I can't actually feel like I would choose willingly.

Many of the outrages in recent years have been completely bipartisan. And that is the problem. On one hand we have the biggest divide between "red and blue" than we've had seemingly in many many years. The "moderates" are a vanishing breed with little power. But at the same time more and more things that are just horrible get done with no oposition at all. (How many votes in congress were there against the Patriot Act? Against the DMCA? To insist on a declaration of war before going to war? Etc. )

It is unsustainable. At some point things will just break. If we could somehow manage to break apart the two existing parties (hey, do anti-trust laws apply here? :-) and instead get about four parties... then we could get a much more healthy dynamic going.

Of course, it will never happen under our current systems due to Duverger's Law.

Oh well.

Enough ranting for now.

It just frustrates me when I see things suggesting that people who have strong tendancies, but in an "unorthadox" direction should just line up within one larger coalition or another. Sometimes for some narrow items when there is agreement it may make sense. But not in general... if you're always tying yourself to a coilition that you only agree with a minority of the time, in the end you are alsways just going to get screwed over by it.

Abulsme - Tue, 16 May 2006, 10:26:09 PDT
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Mon 15 May 2006

Bit Better

We moved arond the desks. Slightly less cramped now. We can now both sit comfortably. As it was originally we were only three or four inches apart when sitting.

I am at the desk in the back left.

Abulsme - Mon, 15 May 2006, 18:30:22 PDT
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New Office

Feels very cramped. Oh well.

Abulsme - Mon, 15 May 2006, 10:12:28 PDT
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Sun 14 May 2006

President Gore

Maybe I should start watching SNL again:

Al Gore on SNL - 14 May 2006

Good evening, my fellow Americans. In 2000 when you overwhelmingly made the decision to elect me as your 43rd president, I knew the road ahead would be difficult. We have accomplished so much yet challenges lie ahead. In the last 6 years we have been able to stop global warming. No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack. As you know, these renegade glaciers have already captured parts of upper Michigan and northern Maine, but I assure you: we will not let the glaciers win.
via Huffington Post

Abulsme - Sun, 14 May 2006, 14:18:08 PDT
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MiniTakes 6

I've got a backlog now, and must catch up... then perhaps stop these. We shall see.

UN Broadcasting Treaty seen as severely limiting essential freedoms
(Anders Bylund, ArsTechnica)
via SlashDot

"Innertube" leaves local affiliates in a rip tide
(Terry Heaton, POMO Blog)
via Techmeme

Mount St. Helens: There She Grows
(Elizabeth Gillespie, AP on Seattle Times)

In Washington State, Online Poker Players Equal to Sex Offenders
(Wil Wheaton, Card Squad)
via WWdN : In Exile

What's a little debt between friends?
(Finlo Rohrer, BBC News Magazine)
via Digg

Abulsme - Sun, 14 May 2006, 11:33:39 PDT
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Sat 13 May 2006

Rule of Law?

DOJ Moves to Dismiss AT&T Class Action under Cover of Night

Early Saturday morning, in the darkest hours of the night, the Department of Justice made good its threat to file a motion to dismiss our class-action lawsuit against AT&T, contending that AT&T's collaboration with the NSA's massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications (which violates the law and the privacy of its customers)--despite being front page news throughout the United States and the subject of government press conferences and Congressional hearings--is a state secret. The motion was accompanied by declarations by Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander, Director, National Security Agency and John D. Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence. We will vigorously oppose this motion.
(via Boing Boing)

Abulsme - Sat, 13 May 2006, 16:15:05 PDT
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MiniTakes 5

Some more...

Fired for Blogging? -- Extraconstitutional Speech Protections
(Eugene Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy)

Feds Go All Out to Kill Spy Suit
(Ryan Singel,

The Perform Act: Anti-Satellite Bill Attacks New XM2go Devices
via Digg

Walk a Quarter-Mile or Die
via Digg

The GOP and Limited Government: Do They Have a Future Together
(David Frum, Bruce Bartlett, David Boaz, Reihan Salam, Ross Douthat - Cato Unbound)
via The Daily Dish

Abulsme - Sat, 13 May 2006, 12:56:56 PDT
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Fri 12 May 2006

Changing Rooms

I just finished packing my box and labeling my chair and computer. Over the weekend the movers will move our group from the 5th floor to the 1st floor. I will get a new office mate. I hadn't bothered to look at the spreadsheet until about an hour ago. Turns out I lose Ian and gain Jeff. I liked having Ian as an office mate. I may be able to suck more information I need to learn out of Jeff though. I've been learning a lot from him in the last couple weeks as I slowly brush up my Computer Science knowledge (last seriously thought about my freshman year at Carnegie Mellon) and my mad skilz with fun unix command line text processing stuff.

zcat blah.gz | grep ^foo | cut -f 5,6 | sort -u > newthing.txt

Woo! And SQL. I've always been near it and have occationally had to make trivial modifications of exsiting queries and the like, but I haven't had to do the stuff myself. Now it would be very useful for my job, so I'm ramping up my hands on knowledge of such things.

My current office does not have a window, and neither will the new one. But in the current one I can look out the door and see plenty of sunlight. That will not be the case in the new one. It looks like it will basically be a cave. More lights may be in order. Dunno.

Jeff is also a Math guy. I like Math. He's always writing equations on the whiteboards. Equations are good things. I like equations.

I need to work on my energy levels though. It seems I am often tired and find it hard to focus a lot. I just feel droopy. Have for a couple weeks now. And that kinda sucks. Eating right, exersizing and sleeping on a regular schedule would probably all help, but those things are hard. Maybe I can find some nice pills at the drug store that will deal with all that more easily. :-)

Anyway, time to head to a meeting. And then, since nobody has their stuff any more, it will probably mean everybody will just call it a day a little earlier than normal.

And then it is the weekend.

Abulsme - Fri, 12 May 2006, 14:47:58 PDT
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Tue 09 May 2006

Moon Over Bellevue

image Tonight was the night where for my location the moon was directly in front of the location of the DirecTV satellites. I had planned for weeks to go outside and look when the moon was in front of the middle of the three. And there it is. The moon from a spot where we could put a dish. Clear as a bell. Basically, this means we shouldn't have a problem getting a signal when Brandy and Amy move out here and we get the dish installed here. I specifically chose an apartment complex that was clearly dish friendly. The only remaining question was if we could see the satellite from a location where we could put our dish. Yup. Sure can.

The view there is actually of the location for the 110 satellite. The 119 satelite had it's moment a little later in the evening. It isn't quite as clear a shot, but should be fine too. Because I didn't think of checking all three until after the time for the middle one, I missed checking the first of the three, the 101 bird. I actually was outside around that time, just didn't know I should be looking. I think it was fine though, with perhaps an even clearer shot than the other two. I'll get a second shot at the 101 tomorrow though, so I'll double check. 101 is actually the most important if I recall correctly... quite a few channels are on that one.

In any case, a quick double check tomorrow, but looks like we should be good. Whew!

This will carry us until the HD Cable Card Dual Tuner Tivos come out late in the year. Then it will probably be time to dump DirecTV and go with that. We shall see. All depends what everything looks like in 6 months or what not. I like DirecTV, but I have DirecTV for the Dual Tuner Tivos, not the other way around. (The new Dual Tuner SD Tivos are cool, but aren't 100% if you have premium channels... the cable card one will be the way to go for sure.)

Abulsme - Tue, 9 May 2006, 22:33:23 PDT
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Sam Eats Things

A sample seven day period logging all items with calories that I knowingly ingested:

Wednesday - 3 May 2006

* 5 UTC: Chicken Club, Fries, Coke from McDonalds
* 17 UTC: Cheese Omlette, 1 Sausage, 1 Slice Bacon and an OJ
* 20 UTC: One bag Microwave Popcoirn and a Pepsi
* 22 UTC: One small bag Doritos and an orange soda

Thursday - 4 May 2006

* 6 UTC: Half pound pasta with margerine and cheese
* 19 UTC: Chicken Cordon Bleu, Brocolli, Rice and OJ
* 21 UTC: Sierra Mist
* 22 UTC: 2 Recees Peanut Butter Cups and Orange Soda

Friday - 5 May 2006

* 0 UTC: Klondike Bar
* 2 UTC: One medium bag of Kettle Cooked potato chips
* 4 UTC: 2 Strawberry Nutri-Grain Snack Bars
* 17 UTC: Donut and OJ
* 19 UTC: Slice of Pepperoni Pizza and an Apple Juice
* 22 UTC: Big Amazon travel mug thing of coffee with lots of sugar and half and half

Saturday - 6 May 2006

* 2 UTC: Chilli's chicken crispers, corn on the cob, fries and two cokes
* 10 UTC: 1 Nutri-Grain Strawberry Bar

Sunday - 7 May 2006

* 1 UTC: Denny's fiesta chicken with corn, green beans, rice, garlic bread and 2 iced teas with sugar
* 7 UTC: 2 Strawberry Snack bars
* 8 UTC: 1 Strawberry Snack Bar
* 23 UTC: One can of beef stew

Monday - 8 May 2006

* 2 UTC: Red Robin Bacon Cheeseburger, Fries and two cokes
* 18 UTC: Big Amazon travel mug thing of coffee with lots of sugar and half and half
* 20 UTC: One slice cheese pizza, one yogurt, one coke

Tuesday - 9 May 2006

* 2 UTC: Cheddar Cheese Omlette with 3 pancakes and an OJ
* 7 UTC: Two Strawberry Snack Bars
* 18 UTC: Coffee thing with lots of half and half and sugar
* 20 UTC: Plain Cheesesteak and an Apple Juice
* 23 UTC: Bag of Skittles and a Pepsi

Abulsme - Tue, 9 May 2006, 17:02:54 PDT
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Sat 06 May 2006

MiniTakes 4

Five more for the road:

Speed of light may have changed recently
(Eugenie Samuel Reich, New Scientist)
via Digg

Cargo of nails spills onto I-95
(Juan Ortega, Florida Today)

Archaeoacoustics - pipe dream or possibility?
(Christer Hamp, Phonograph Makers' Pages)
via Digg

McCain Says "Clean Government" More Important Than First Amendment
(Mark Tapscott, Tapscott's Copy Desk)
via Instapundit

UN cooking podcast-killing treaty
(Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing)

Abulsme - Sat, 6 May 2006, 01:38:32 PDT
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Stock Timing Again

Ah, what might have been... just looked at how a bunch of the stocks I bought during my last couple years in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have done over the years since then. Just the ones I bought on my own, not retirement plans or options and grants and the like. Lets take a look at how they all have done over my initial cost basis. (Not counting dividends, which on a couple were pretty significant.)

GRMN, up 348%
WAB, up 201%
AAPL, up 127%
MER, up 117%
BAY, up 109%
PWI, up 72%
SPY, up 20%
DIA, up 17%

and then I did have three stinkers...

QQQQ, down 12%
TIVO, down 60%
VIGN, down 97%

Overall, not that bad...

Of course, thing is, a lot of those gains were in the last 2 years. And, well, in 2004 and 2005 I was strapped for cash and had to sell my stocks to live and such. I didn't want to, I had to. Part of that whole thing with the previous job never coming through with what they had promised.

In any case, I didn't sell it all. I actually kept one single share of each of the above. Just to say I still have some. So I can still be happy when they make new highs! And I still made out OK, most of them were up when I sold them, but not by all that much. I would have been a lot happier if I'd managed to hold on to what I originally had of each of those!

My original intention was to hold onto all of them for decades, but that just was not to be. :-)

I haven't bought anything new outside of 401K's for several years now. Once the house is sold and things are stabilized again, perhaps I'll start buying a little bit of a few things again.

Of course, the very instant I do that will be the signal that the market has topped again, and we're due for another correction for a few years... :-)

Abulsme - Sat, 6 May 2006, 00:35:52 PDT
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Fri 05 May 2006

MiniTakes 3

My "remember to blog" list has gotten too long. So here is another Minitakes. This time, for times sake, I'm thinking just links. I'd like to comment on each one, but I've got other things I need to do. In any case, these are all items I saw in roughly the last week or so that I thought were worth the read:

Courts With No Law
(Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish)

Roomba And The City

MPAA Offers To Settle (Again)
(Shawn Hogan, Shawn Hogan Fan Club)
via Digg

A Baker Walks Into A Dinner, Again
(Ryan Singel and Kevin Poulsen, Wired)
via Digg

Dinosaur Shocker
(Helen Fields, Smithsonian Magazine)
via Digg

Actually, that's five, which is enough for the moment. I've got other things to do. I've got more though. Perhaps later.

Abulsme - Fri, 5 May 2006, 09:16:02 PDT
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Tue 02 May 2006

Ways and Means

Another example of interesting Constitutional stuff:

Executive constitutional interpretation
(Dale Carpenter, Volokh Conspiracy)

There are plenty of examples of presidents who opposed/vetoed legislation, thinking that the legislation was both unconstitutional and otherwise bad policy. Andrew Jackson's veto of the Second National Bank is an example of this: he said in his veto message that he believed it was unconstitutional, but he also opposed it on policy grounds.

Both of the above scenarios involve presidents whose policy views lined up with their purported constitutional views. No conflict presented itself.

But here's a challenge for bloggers and commenters everywhere: give an example of a president who opposed/vetoed legislation on the ground that he believed it to be unconstitutional, even though he otherwise supported it on policy grounds? Here the president's view of the proper meaning of the Constitution would be opposed to his view of good policy. To put it in less abstract terms: it would be as if Andrew Jackson had loved the idea of a Second National Bank, but nevertheless vetoed it because he thought it was unconstitutional.
In the comments, very few examples of this could be found. And the most recent one was Woodrow Wilson.

See, the thing here, this should be a lot more common than it is. Presidents should view one of their primary goals as upholding the law of the land (especially the constitution) and that should take priority over their own policy viewpoints in the cases where they contradict each other. Lets review the oath of office:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Oops. This should mean that if Congress passes an unconstitutional law (never mind the Congressional oath) then it shouldn't have to wait to get to the Supreme court... the President should veto it out of principal EVEN IF HE/SHE AGREES WITH THE GOALS OF THE LAW.

Of course, not only does that not happen these days, but the executive seems to just routinely do whatever the hell they want, with no regard to the Constitution, Congress, or pretty much anything. So looking for an executive that would even consider vetoing a bill they agree with on policy grounds because it is unconstitutional... It may be another 100 years before it happens again...

Abulsme - Tue, 2 May 2006, 23:09:42 PDT
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Wanna Buy a House?

Our listing is up on Brevard MLS now.

The listing should start showing up on other online locations soon.

I've been looking at the pictures the last few minutes, along with some others Brandy sent me that didn't get into the listing, and I sure will miss that house. :-( I do hope I get to visit it at least one more time! (Yeah yeah, those of you thinking I should stop whining about the house can just suck it...)

It really is too bad I can't just commute to here from there so I could have this job but still live there. Oh well! I asked about just moving the whole house here, but apperantly that would be hard. :-)

A bunch of pictures are on the pictures link off of the listing. But I'll also just post them here as well as the others Brandy sent me. I don't have the originals at the moment, just the low res ones, so these don't look as crisp as I'd like, but here they are. If you want to buy our house, let us know!


Abulsme - Tue, 2 May 2006, 14:45:20 PDT
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Otherwise Alienating

Someday, I'll properly alienate all my classmates
(Greg Haverkamp, Otherwise Occupied)

Some us apparently believe in freedom of speech and its concomitants, while others merely believe in it until a politically correct topic is adversely impacted by that right.


But that is hardly the point, anyway. This is about the freedom of expression. And while I can only gather that you believe only in freedom of expression for those expressing views you feel are "right," I'm having difficulty understanding why you think the SBAWVC should be forced to express a view that it's okay to be openly homosexual and Irish. Neither you nor I nor the Supreme Court should tell people what they must believe. People have the rights to be bigots in this country, and they have and must have the rights to express whatever bigotry they so choose.


Or, you can take away the more meaningful idea that freedom of expression is critical, that parades are inherently expressive activities, and that groups that organize parades, whether their views are popular or not, should have the right to determine was messages their expressive activity will send.
I love reading this sort of thing from Greg. In this case I agree with Greg completely, but in more general terms I like listening to debates about Constitutional law and the such. I find it all intensely interesting. Enought that occationally I find myself thinking that law school would be a hell of a lot of fun.

And then I remember that I have the memory capacity of a walnut, and if I can't derive what I am supposed to remember from first principles I am hopeless, so if I had to remember case references and specifics of laws and procedures without having them right in front of me, I'd be done for. And then I also remember that I get incredibly frustrated when looking at precident that I think was stupid, but is now completely entrenched. (Like most Supreme Court decisions since the Civil War... OK, exaggerating just a tad.. but...) And of course I also remember that I have absolutely no interest in actually bieng a lawyer. I just like some of the debates... and more to the point, some of the underling political and ethical philosophy issues which underlie and inform some of those debates. Fun stuff.

Abulsme - Tue, 2 May 2006, 09:25:41 PDT
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Mon 01 May 2006

Please Check My Math

OK, a bunch of you out there have done statistical stuff more recently than I have (although I did read that stats text book a couple months ago). Anyway for those of you who have done stats calculations any time in the past five years or so (Chad? Greg? Randy? Chris?) could you please check this? I am really rusty at this and could easily have made a fundamental mistake...

Here is what I am trying to analyse. In the last post I mentioned that big long chain of ancestors. That long chain all hinges on a connection with a Jane Gillham born in 1773.

All the sources that I can find that mention Jane Gillham being married to John Minter and having kids that result eventually in me give Jane Gillham's birthday as April 21st 1773 in South Carolina.

Meanwhile, the document I can find linking a Jane Gillham to her parents, and through them eventually all the way back to King Kenneth and the like... lists her birthday as October 21st 1773 in South Carolina... and has no mention whatsoever of John Minter... but also not of any other information that would contradict her being the same Jane... other than the birthday.

My hypothesis is that at some point in the last 233 years, as the Gillham records that show who Janes parents are were copied over and over again, April at somepoint got miscopied into October. (Someone couldn't read it, recreated it from memory, whatever... )

Basically, I think these "two" Jane Gillhams are really the same person. But there is no proof of course, so I want to figure out the odds...

Here is the analysis I did... please check me and point out any math or logic errors I may have made:

  • South Carolina population in 1773 was about 250,000 (based on 1790 census so this is actually bigger than reality)
  • Live births were approximately 50 per 1000 population in the late 1700's (based on stat in "Encyclopedia of the New American Nation")
  • This gives about 12500 births in South Carolina in 1773.
  • About 6250 of those would have been girls.
  • About 3% of those would be named Jane (based on Given Names Frequency Project for 1801-1810 time period)
  • That gives us about 181 Janes born in South Carolina in 1773.
  • We need to multiply by the percentage of the whole South Carolina population that were Gilhams.
  • I have no idea what that number is. For now I will call it "G". (As a fraction, not a percentage, to avoid the factor of 100 everywhere.)
  • So the number of Jane Gillhams born in South Carolina in 1773 would be about 181*G.
  • Now, we know pretty confidently that John Minter's Jane Gillham was born April 21st.
  • We could figure out the odds of a second Jane Minter being born on October 21st specifically.
  • It would be 1-(364/365)^(181*G). This would be our lower bound on the odds. (Using math principles found on Wikipedia Birthday Paradox page)
  • But... the hypothesis is that sometime in the last 233 years someone just transposed October for April in the Gillham family records.
  • In that case we don't care specifically about October 21st, but instead just the odds of a second person being born on ANY of the 21sts other than April 21st.
  • That is because our hypothetical miscopier could have switched it with any of the eleven other months, not just October.
  • In that case our odds turn out to be 1-(354/365)^(181*G). This should be our upper bound on the odds.
  • This gives the chances of another Jane Gillham being born on the 21st of any other month besides April, given that our Jane Gilham was born on April 21st.

So lets run this with some possible values of G:

This shows the chances (X) of a second Jane Gillham being born on the 21st of another month, and therefore probably being an actual second Jane Gillham rather than the same person with the date miscopied.

Everybody in SC is a Gillham (G=1): 99.6%
1 out of 2 is a Gillham (G=0.5): 93.7%
1 out of 5 is a Gillham (G=0.2): 67.0%
1 out of 10 is a Gillham (G=0.1): 42.5%
1 out of 20 is a Gillham (G=0.05): 24.2%
1 out of 50 is a Gillham (G=0.02): 10.5%
1 out of 100 is a Gillham (G=0.01): 5.4%
1 out of 200 is a Gillham (G=0.005): 2.7%
1 out of 500 is a Gillham (G=0.002): 1.1%
1 out of 1000 is a Gillham (G=0.001): 0.6%

Reversing the calculation... and solving for G...


Plugging in a few numbers there...

As long as there are fewer Gillhams than 1 in 108 you have over a 95% chance that these two Jane Gillhams are the same Jane Gillham and not seperate people after all.

If there are fewer Gillhams than one in 552 then you have over a 99% chance that these are the same Jane Gillham...

(And even if there were so many Gillhams that 1 in every 8 people in SC was a Gillham, you'd still have better than even odds that this was the same Jane Gillham.)

One in 108 would mean that there were about 2300 people with the surname Gillham in South Carolina around the time of the 1790 census

One in 552 would mean that there were about 450 people with the surname Gillham in South Carolina around that time.

So, this all depends on the number of Gillhams in South Carolina in 1790... but if there were any less than 2300 or so, I'd feel really confidant betting that this is only one Jane Gilham, and someone just miscopied her birthday at some point (probably on the Gillham side... although all the math is the same if it was the reverse.)


Links to the sites I got stats and math from:

Abulsme - Mon, 1 May 2006, 15:19:59 PDT
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