Archives: February 2007

Sun 25 Feb 2007

Cinema: Ghost Rider

I was pretty much dragged to see Ghost Rider. From every preview I'd seen, I knew I didn't want to see it. But Amy had a good week, and Brandy wanted to reward her with a movie. We'd actually agreed on Bridge to Tarabitia as the movie least objectionable to all of us, even though Amy really wanted to see Ghost Rider. But of course when it came time to leave, even though we'd determined we needed to leave RIGHT THEN to get to the movie on time, Amy decided that it was a good time to clean out and reorganize her purse. (We didn't know that was the hold up until afterwards.) By the time she got outside, the chances of us making it on time were slim, but we tried. But by the time the movie was starting, we were still several minutes from the theater. We tried to redirect to another theater where Brandy had remembered it was also playing at a later time. But when we got there, that movie was not playing at all. So we tried a third theater, but we had already missed the last showing there. But guess what still had a showing? Yup! Ghost Rider. Which is what Amy had wanted to see all along. I relented and agreed to see Ghost Rider.

I had not read anything about the movie and had only seen a preview, so I was expecting a really bad horror/action flick. Well, it WAS a really bad horror/action flick, but it was so bad that it was really funny. (Brandy claims they did that on purpose, and it was supposed to be so bad that it was funny.) In any case, I ended up really enjoying it. It was funny. I laughed a lot. It was just stupid. But stupid in a funny way. In a cartoon sort of way. And it was adapted from a comic, so I guess that is OK, but most recent comic adaptations have tried to be more dramatic than comedic. This one was comedic. Like I said, it was a very stupid movie. But an enjoyable stupid movie.


Abulsme - Sun, 25 Feb 2007, 13:59:04 PST
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Fri 23 Feb 2007

Treo Number Eight

One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven...

Treo Number Seven lasted over a year. I think that is a record for me and Treos. It was a good Treo. But then last week I dropped it. Um... well... OK... I didn't drop it. I got frustrated with something it was doing and I... um... kinda accidentally... well... um... I sorta threw it. And it hit the ground hard. After that the keyboard didn't want to work any more. Ooops.

Luckily, this is why I have insurance on these phones. But as it turned out we didn't even need it. Brandy went into the Sprint store while I was at work one day to just make sure they couldn't fiddle with a couple screws and make the keyboard work again. They couldn't fix it. But they did tell her that because of something or other on the plan we have with Sprint, they could replace it there for free. They were out of stock of Treo 650s though, so they would just have to give me a Treo 700. They were out of stock of 700's too, but they could order those. But I'd just have to settle for a free upgrade.

Drat, I was so upset by that! :-)

Anyway, we just picked up my new phone a couple of hours ago. It has several improvements over the 650, including higher data speeds. So this should be good. Later tonight or this weekend I'll get all the 3rd party software installed on there that I use regularly and sync with the contacts and such on my computer. But this is good.

And no, I did not do it on purpose so I could get a new phone. Really. :-)

But in any case, now I have my 8th Treo... and my first Treo 700. 700p to be specific.


Abulsme - Fri, 23 Feb 2007, 22:05:11 PST
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Wed 21 Feb 2007

Lumpy Leaping


Abulsme - Wed, 21 Feb 2007, 18:17:56 PST
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Mon 19 Feb 2007

DVD: Stephen King's The Stand: Disk 2

So, having watched Disk 1 previously it was now time to watch Disk 2, which had the 3rd and 4th parts of this 1994 miniseries. The 3rd part was OK although not as good as the first 2. But then, to me at least, it just seemed to completely fall apart. Brandy says it is because they abbreviated a bit too much in comparison to the book. To me it just seemed like it was a whole lot of buildup to not much at all, and a conclusion that made the efforts of the "good guys" completely and totally pointless. Basically, the "bad guys" self-destructed in a way that seemingly was not influenced by the actions of the forces of good at all. It would have happened exactly the same way if the good folks from Boulder had just stayed home instead of going through many trials and tribulations, including the death of a variety of them. And this doesn't even mention the completely cheesy glowing hand that had a part in the climax. Uh huh. Whatever.

Anyway, Disk 1 was OK. Disk 2, not so much. Perhaps it would indeed have been better if they had taken more time and made it an even longer mini-series. Or maybe even just spent less time on the setup and more on the resolution. I don't know. I have not read the book, so I can't really compare and say if I'd think the book made more sense. But the conclusion here was just sort of a head scratching "huh?".


Abulsme - Mon, 19 Feb 2007, 20:52:42 PST
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Sun 18 Feb 2007

Susan Catherine Groves

Time for another ancestor! This time my father's mother's father's mother. This is the only picture I have of her. Don't know a huge amount about her. She was born in Kentucky in 1854. Married her husband James Wootton in 1873. Had four kids, the last of which was my ancestor. Then she died in 1911 in her late 50's. And I don't really know much more than that, but what little more there is can be found at the wiki page linked from the picture.


Abulsme - Sun, 18 Feb 2007, 17:34:52 PST
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DVD: Doctor Who: The Beginning: Disk 1

I usually link the pictures on this to Netflix, but this time I'm linking to Amazon. Why? Well, cause this is a three disk boxset, and Netflix has it all screwed up (or at least they did). That is, what they think is Disk 1 is really Disk 2, what they think is Disk 2 is really Disk 3, and what they think is Disk 3 is really Disk 1. So when they sent me the "first" disk it really wasn't, and I had to go through a couple of returns before they gave me the right disk. Of course, I sent the others back sight unseen and will watch them later.

Eventually though I finally got the real Disk 1, which contains the first four episodes of Doctor Who ever, which collectively are known as the story "An Unearthly Child". The first episode aired on 23 Nov 1963... a date also known for other things.

Anyway, this episode is mainly of interest for completeness and all. It is interesting to see "how it started". The actual story, with cavemen saying such insightful lines as "Za make fire!!" isn't all that compelling. Everything is pretty much laughable. But that is OK. The second story which is on Disk 2 of this series, is what caught people's attention and started the series toward still being on the air 44 years later. Even so, watching the first episode is interesting to note all of the "firsts" and also to note which things haven't changed very much too. So watching it from that point of view is good. Just don't come in expecting a riveting story or anything.


Abulsme - Sun, 18 Feb 2007, 15:20:27 PST
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Fri 16 Feb 2007

End of Search

A follow up to an earlier post:

Search Status
(Tenacious Search)

In the last several days, the Friends of Jim group has reviewed all the data with Coast Guard officials. The fact is that we have no evidence as to what has happened to Tenacious or to Jim Gray. Neither we nor the Coast Guard can come up with a surface search plan that is likely to find either Tenacious or Jim, given everything that has been done already.

Accordingly, the Friends of Jim group is suspending its active effort to find Tenacious that has been centered here at the blog. For both the Coast Guard and the Friends of Jim, “suspension” means that the active search has been discontinued due to exhausting all present leads and the lack of new information. Of course, should we or the Coast Guard receive any new information, we will investigate it.
More details on the site linked to above for those interested.


Abulsme - Fri, 16 Feb 2007, 17:27:12 PST
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Mon 12 Feb 2007

Time for SelectSmart Again

As the 2008 presidential campaign is heating up, time once again to visit my favorite candidate selector site. This is of course the SelectSmart Presidential Candidate Selector in which you answer a series of questions about your views on various issues and how important each is to you, and it matches you up against the stated views of the various candidates who are in the race (or at this stage, also other people who are considered somewhat likely to get in the race). I tend to do this quiz every few months for the couple years before the election to see how things change as my views change over time, and as the range of candidates changes.

Last time I took the quiz was back in October 2004. You can see my results and my thoughts at that time here.

As for this time arount, at this EARLY stage, and without any third party candidates in the quiz yet, here are my results:

(100%) 1: Rep. Ron Paul (R)
(86%) 2: Sen. Barack Obama (D)
(86%) 3: Sen. John McCain (R)
(84%) 4: Retired Gen. Wesley Clark (D)
(78%) 5: Sen. Sam Brownback (R)
(76%) 6: Ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R)
(75%) 7: Gov. George Pataki (R)
(73%) 8: Gov. Mitt Romney (R)
(72%) 9: Ex-VP Al Gore (D)
(72%) 10: Sen. Christopher Dodd (D)
(70%) 11: Sec. Condoleezza Rice (R)
(70%) 12: Sen. George Allen (R)
(69%) 13: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D)
(64%) 14: Rep. Tom Tancredo (R)
(64%) 15: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D)
(63%) 16: Gov. Bill Richardson (D)
(63%) 17: Sen. John Kerry (D)
(61%) 18: Gov. Mike Huckabee (R)
(60%) 19: Ex-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R)
(60%) 20: Gov. Tom Vilsack (D)
(60%) 21: Sen. Joseph Biden (D)
(58%) 22: Ex-Sen. John Edwards (D)
(55%) 23: Sen. Chuck Hagel (R)
(49%) 24: Rep. Duncan Hunter (R)
My thoughts on this... first of all, 100% Ron Paul. Great! He a former Presidential candidate for the Libertarian party (1988) and unlike that party's more recent candidates is not a COMPLETE crackpot. He's in congress as a Republican right now, although the Republicans don't really like him that much cause he votes against them on a lot of issues. Looks like he is going to be running in the Republican primaries though, which means he will probably not make it onto the ballot in the end as the Libertarian party will quite possibly nominate another crackpot. I so much want to vote Libertarian. That is where my sympathies really lie, but they have to nominate someone who is not insane for me to do that. I could definately vote for Ron Paul.

Number two also surprised me. I have been very excited about the Obama campaign, but more because he is a great speaker and is exiting to watch and it will make great theater. I got both of his books for Christmas. I haven't cracked them open yet, but will definately read both before the election season comes around next year. My full expectation is to like him a lot from the point of view of being a good person, feeling I could trust him, liking his backstory, and generally thinking he could do a decent job, but then disagreeing on lots and lots when it came to actual issues, and therefore not being able to vote for him. I am somewhat surprised that he comes up as an 86% match for me on this quiz. I'll definately have to read more about his position on the issues.

As for McCain... I used to like him a lot. But he lost all credibility to me in the years since 2000. He seems to have given up most of the "independant" cred he had back in 2000 by either sucking up to W (once his mortal enemy) or just pandering to better "position" himself for the Republican primaries with the religious right and such. And after putting up a good fight on the torture issue for a little while, in the end he just caved, agreed to some ambiguous language that let him say he got his way but in actuallity let W do whatever he wanted... Anyway, I may be a pretty good match on paper on some things, but I no longer trust this man at all. So he's probably a non-starter with me at this point.

Also interesting is looking at the mix I get. If you look at everybody with more than an 80% match, you see an even split between Republicans and Democrats. I mean, Obama and McCain are tied! What's up with that! I'm guessing the "normal" patern would be for someone to see mostly one party at the top, then mostly the other party at the bottom. Since I tend to just generally have the principle that in almost all things the right answer is for government to do nothing and stay out of things, and the Republicans and Democrats both seem to be in favor of heavy government involvement, they just disagree on which things to interfere in and exactly how to do so, I end up semi-randomly matching up with one party or the other based on the specific issue...

Which always makes presidential elections fun. Generally during the primary season I can find a few candidates that I agree with a lot, but by the time it gets to the general election, everybody sucks.

Anyway, I of course always think through these things in more depth as the actual elections get near, but I've found over the last several election cycles that despite its simplicty, this quiz tends to match very much what I end up feeling about the candidates ON THE ISSUES. The one thing it does not take into account that I do take into account when actually choosing my vote, is my trust and faith in the candidate. I'll vote for someone I agree with less on the issues over someone I agree with more on the issues if I feel like the person I agree with more is not someone I would want from a purely personality and trustworthyness perspective.

In anycase, it would be very interesting if this time around there was actually a major party candidate come election day that I could actually feel decent about.

Anyway, post your own results in the comments if you want. It will be fun and exciting. Really.


Abulsme - Mon, 12 Feb 2007, 09:11:29 PST
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Sat 10 Feb 2007

Clutching and Slinging

This week we finally got around to putting a new clutch into my Saturn. As some of you may remember, back in October we got word that it could die at any moment. Well, we procrastinated and procrastinaed, and it lasted just fine for almost four months. But we figured at this point it was time to stop pushing our luck. I just didn't need to bresak down in the middle of a tunnel or bridge or anything. So, we sucked it up and got it fixed. It cost money, but still less money than going ahead and buying a new car. All I can say though is that it better last at least another year now! (And... drat, I wanted a new car! :-) I must say though, the clutch now feels COMPLETELY different. I guess it had been "almost gone" for so many years that I got used to how it felt that way. I am having to completely readjust to the new place where the clutch engages. But I'll get used to it before long I am sure.

Also today, I got my frivolous purchase of the month. I finally got a Slingbox a year and a half or so after I orginally said I wanted it. The main delay was that they hadn't released their Mac client until just recently. It's actually still in Beta, but seems to mostly work fine. What I got wasn't that original Slingbox from my old post, but rather the Slingbox AV which is the more current version. (I didn't see any need for the Slingbox Pro at this time... maybe next year.) I struggled with getting the networking and such all set up the way I wanted it between my two routers and all that junk. But I got it all the way I wanted to eventually. As I suspected from earlier tests, I can't watch from my work network, they block it. But that's OK, I don't need that kind of distraction at work anyway. :-) My primary use will actually be watching my downstairs Tivo from my computer upstairs, or from a laptop either elsewhere at home, or while off at a Starbucks or Tullys or whatnot (or other random places with Wifi).

So far it is working great. I am sitting upstairs with a laptop writing this post for my blog while watching an episode of Lost from my Tivo in a window in the corner. Excellent. It is much better than the type of thing I'd done before with a wireless video repeater with an IR extender and an old 4" black and white TV in the office. And other such solutions. This is much nicer.

They'll be releasing a Treo version of the SlingPlayer in a few months. Almost makes me not want an iPhone. Almost. :-)


Abulsme - Sat, 10 Feb 2007, 00:15:48 PST
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Thu 08 Feb 2007

Sick Girls

As I write Amy is missing a sleepover for the Middle School girls at her school. She is very upset about that. But with a fever over 100 degrees for the third straight day (or is it fourth now?), that just wasn't going to happen. Two nights ago her fever briefly spiked to 104, and based on the advice of her doctor and Brandy's mom (a nurse) she was about to be stuck in the Emergency Room for the evening if it didn't come down within the hour or so. It did, so no ER. But we're still in a "sick" mode. Temperatures are less than they were, but still often over 100. Meds would knock the temperature down a couple degrees, then they would climb up again over the next few hours until it was time to take more meds.

There is a nasty flu sort of thing going around school. According to an email that went out yesterday, about 10% of the students are out sick right now. The email was pleading with parents to please keep their kids home from school (and the sleepover) if they seemed like they were getting sick, so as to try to keep the other kids healthy. Of course, even at her sickest Amy was pleading to please go to school. She really likes school. Which is good. But with those 102 degree fevers and the like... no.

One of the other kids who is very sick is the other girl who was at the mall with Amy last Saturday and who slept over that night. They are thinking she's gotten a pneumonia type thing out of it as well. Fun. We think Amy caught it from her last weekend but no signs of pneumonia yet in Amy.

Amy's still sick but getting better. Hopefully her friend is getting better too.

Brandy has been off and on running a fever too but mostly managing to keep functional. I haven't yet... but I fully expect that within the next few days I'll be struck down too. Once this kind of thing gets in a house, unless you're really lucky, everybody ends up getting it at some point.

Urgh. I just coughed. Here it comes! :-/


Abulsme - Thu, 8 Feb 2007, 17:41:01 PST
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Sat 03 Feb 2007

Article by Dad

A new article by my dad popped up in my Google Alerts yesterday. First paragraph quoted below. Click through for the rest.

Don't replay Iraq in Horn of Africa
(William Minter, The Providence Journal)

AS CONGRESS debates how to withdraw from a failed war in Iraq and President Bush begins his troop surge, U.S. policymakers seem determined to replicate the Iraq debacle in Africa. In the last two months, Washington has backed an overwhelming Ethiopian invasion of neighboring Somalia and has launched air strikes on alleged terrorists, killing an unknown number of Somali civilians. The United States is now counting on the African Union to replace Ethiopia as the military sponsor of a weak Somali government.


Abulsme - Sat, 3 Feb 2007, 21:20:19 PST
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Fri 02 Feb 2007

Kids at the Mall


Abulsme - Fri, 2 Feb 2007, 21:35:25 PST
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Help Find Jim Gray: Mechanical Turk

One of the reasons I like working where I do is cool stuff like this. I just did one work unit. Only takes a few seconds.

Help Find Jim Gray

Computer science icon Jim Gray mysteriously disappeared after a solo trip with his sail boat outside San Francisco Bay. The coast guard has been searching for 4 days but has not been able to locate anything, not even debris. On Thursday 3 private planes searched through the coastal areas and they also returned unsuccessful.

Through a major effort by many people we were able to have the Digital Globe satellite make a run over the area on Thursday morning and have the data made available publicly. We have split these images into smaller tiles that can be easily scanned visually and stored into the Amazon S3 storage service. We then created tasks for reviewing these images and loaded then into the Amazon Mechanical Turk Service.

This is where you come in. We need your help in reviewing these images to see whether you can locate Jim’s boat in any of these images. Please go to the Amazon Mechanical Turk site and help us find Jim Gray.
Direct link to the MTurk hits to do this work is here. Do one or two.


Abulsme - Fri, 2 Feb 2007, 17:40:23 PST
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