Archives: April 2007

Wed 25 Apr 2007

A Trio Once More

I had been thinking of catching up on some blog posts today for a variety of things I've been meaning to post about. A ferry trip we did a few weeks ago. A post about how I reckon time. A post about a movie we saw. And maybe posting a few pictures that I liked. And maybe a graph of a certain something that went up almost 30% yesterday, which was pretty cool. But I am tired and not in the right mindset to spit out several posts in succession. So just one for tonight since at least one person asked...

About 6 hours ago Amy did indeed return from her field trip. She seems to have had a great time on her trip and she did all kinds of fun things. I won't try to recount all of them. Apparently several of the children married otters, and one married a sea sponge. I am glad to say Amy was not one of those children. :-) In any case though, it seems to have been a great time. They did a lot. From sailing to hiking to cooking to camping to investigating the wildlife. It was a very full trip. Amy came home and almost immediately fell asleep on the couch.

Meanwhile, Brandy is practically jumping for joy to have Amy back in the house. She was climbing the walls and in a funk the whole time Amy was gone. So it is good to have Amy back and Brandy back to normal. Or as normal as she gets anyway. :-)

Abulsme - Wed, 25 Apr 2007, 22:02:31 PDT
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Sat 21 Apr 2007

Trip to the Islands

A little over 9 hours ago, we dropped Amy off at the parking lot of her school to begin a just under four and a half day field trip for the 6th grade. They will be on a 35 foot sailboat wandering around the Northern Puget Sound in the area of the San Juan Islands. Here is the Google Map.

During the day they will be learning how to operate the rigging on the sailboat and other boating skills and they will be doing various scientific activities related to things they can learn on the Sound. At night they will split into groups and half will sleep on the boat and the other half will put ashore to camp on the various islands. They will alternate nights so each group gets to do both. They will do all their own cooking in the ships galley and at the camp sites. Their exact route and which islands they will be visiting was determined by the kids in class over the last couple of weeks as they planned out the whole thing. It will be a very good trip. The kids were all very excited as they gathered and headed off this morning.

Brandy though has been VERY nervous about this trip for months ever since she had a nightmare about Amy on a boat right BEFORE we found out that's what the field trip was. Plus this will be the first time Amy has been away from Brandy for more than 24 hours except when she was left in the care of either Brandy's mom or myself. So it is a little traumatic. (For Brandy, not for Amy.) But we'll all do fine. Amy is going to have a great time and be back late Wednesday.

Also, you may notice Amy has a thing on her hand. Wednesday evening she was on the couch with Brandy, got up to get a drink, but forgot to bring her legs with her and instead just toppled forward onto the floor. All three of us laughed quite a bit. It was funny the way she fell. But she braced herself with her hand when she fell I guess and shortly thereafter it was swelling and hurting. A trip to the Doctor Thursday resulted in the little brace thing as a precaution. (X-Rays didn't show anything broken, but in the particular area in question sometimes minor things are hard to see apparently.) So she has to wear the brace thing for two weeks, including the field trip. Woo! What fun!

Abulsme - Sat, 21 Apr 2007, 16:50:37 PDT
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Thu 19 Apr 2007

Gonzo Coverage

When I first woke up one of the first things I did was try to flip on the Gonzales hearings. Nothing on the local station. CNN was shwoing some VT press conference. So was MSNBC. *FOX* of all channels actually had Gonzo's opening statement live, but then they broke away for the VT press conference. But C-Span still had it... but then the House started their day, and they flipped off. At that point there was no channel (at least that we get) that was covering it live. Presumably they will come back it it, but that just annoys me. Yes, the VT stuff is sensational, but basically nothing is changine now and the evaluations they are doing now are not likely to have much long lasting impact. (Unless of course the hysteria gets the better of people and the VT shootings prompt a huge wave of overreaction that end up causing more harm than good...) The stuff that is actual imporant breaking news right now are the hearings, not the 4th straight day of handwringing over the events at VT.

In any case, I'm now watching online on C-SPAN3. We're only a few minutes in, but it is obvious already that this is going to be fun. Senator Specter (a REPUBLICAN) right now is Grilling Gonzo and grilling him hard. He is obviously pissed off and impatient. Gonzo looks like he is going to cry.

Kennedy is starting his questioning now. He is much calmer than Specter. He is being much nicer to Alberto. This might be a good time to get showered and ready for work before more angry Senators come on. :-)

By the way, it is the oldest lesson in Washington, proved time and time again, when will these people *ever* learn (both parties)... it is the coverup that gets you, not the crime. If they had fired exactly the people they fired, at exactly the times they fired them, for exactly the reasons they fired them... but had been honest about it... then none of this would ever have become an issue. This is all blowing up because the whole raft of them have been lying and making things up and destroying documents and hiding emails... etc, etc, etc. Over something that was probably perfectly fine for them to do in the first place.


Anyway, TPM Muckraker is doing up to the minute coverage of the important aspects of the testimony. Good place to watch if you can't actually watch or listen to the whole hearing. Since I will have to be at work and in meetings and such long before the hearings are over, I'll probably just be checking in there periodically through the day.

I love this stuff.

Abulsme - Thu, 19 Apr 2007, 07:20:53 PDT
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Wed 18 Apr 2007

Another Random Tripper

A few days ago I got a Google Alert on "Random Trip" and found Diamond Geezer who is slowly visiting all of the boroughs of London one at a time randomly and posting about them. I emailed him and pointed him at the random trips on my site. He mentioned me in one of his posts today and it seems to have just about doubled the traffic to my website from people (mostly from the UK) coming and chicking out my random trips. Here is his comment:

Random Tripping

Florida resident Sam Minter does random travel properly. He selects random global coordinates and then goes there on holiday (so long as the chosen spot is on land and flights there cost no more than $500). Which would explain how five years ago he ended up getting very muddy in a field just outside Aylesbury. Even I haven't stooped to such levels, yet. But it's an idea.
Since I last updated those trip pages (I really need to do that) I've of course moved from Florida, and I haven't done a bona fide random trip in years (unfortunately). But it is still fun, and I will get back to it "soon" with the trip to Mexico. Really, I will!

I also find it amusing how every time someone from the UK finds out about my random trips, the reaction always includes something along the lines of "Aylesbury??? You went to Aylesbury? Why???". :-)

Abulsme - Wed, 18 Apr 2007, 10:40:36 PDT
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Sun 15 Apr 2007

Book: The Odyssey

Author: Homer
Translator: Robert Fagles
Started: 18 Nov 2006
Finished: 15 Apr 2007
541p / 149d
4 p/d

My "book pile" is still in boxes and has never been unpacked and put back in order, so when I finish a book, I am somewhat making arbitrary choices for what to read next rather than going for the next thing in what is supposed to be in order. I really need to fix that. Anyway, this time I decided I wanted to read The Odyssey. First of all, quite a few years ago, before this blog existed, I had heard something on the radio about the new Fagles translation of the Odyssey. That would put this around 1996. At that time, I became interested in reading it, but decided I had to read his translation of the Illiad first. So I did at that time. And I enjoyed it quite a bit. I remember being rather excited by it. And I had intended to soon after read the Odyssey, but I never got around to it. Until now. Also, Amy was reading the Odyssey this year for school, so it seemed like a good time.

I'll be honest, I was a little disappointed. Especially in comparison to my memories of reading the Iliad a decade ago. I remember that as being fresh and interesting with new discoveries and interesting things on most pages. I just didn't feel that way this time. But I can pinpoint it on one thing I think. This story is much more familiar. Of course I'd read (or I was supposed to have read) the Odyssey back in school. Plus almost every story within the Odyssey has become essentiality well known bits of popular culture and have been reused as story elements in all sorts of other things. So it was all just very familiar. For the most part I knew what was coming next. It just didn't have the same joy as reading something new for the first time, even though I hadn't actually read this translation before... and I'm pretty sure back in school I actually only read parts of it.

What did I find most interesting? The Introduction and the Notes on the Translation. I learned new things there.

This is not to say the story itself sucks or anything, but it didn't hold my attention and compel me on to the next page. And this is clearly seen by my reading rate. This clocked in at a really sad 4 pages per day, and that's only after I round to the nearest whole number. It was actually more like 3.6 pages per day. Sad. Very sad.

I finished 11 books in 2006. (Filter my blog by the Books Category to see just the books.) I'll have to pick some books I am more "in to" for the rest of the year and pick up my pace to improve that in 2007. 11 books in a year is pitiful. I used to read so much more than that. I mean, at least a book a month! Hell, even a book a week should be reasonable. I need to carve more time out of my schedule for reading.

Anyway... one more Odyssey note. I remember when I read this in school being very upset by the scene with Argos the dog. That was the one most memorable section of the whole poem for me back then. This time I expected it, and it did not have anywhere near the same emotional impact. Oh well.

Abulsme - Sun, 15 Apr 2007, 12:28:07 PDT
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Thu 12 Apr 2007

Apple Tradeoffs

I want an iPhone, but practically speaking, it may be quite awhile after they come out before I can justify switching to one because the whole family is on Sprint, we have a family plan, switching would be expensive and a pain, etc. But I'll have Leopard the day it comes out, so this sucks:

Apple Statement

iPhone has already passed several of its required certification tests and is on schedule to ship in late June as planned. We can’t wait until customers get their hands (and fingers) on it and experience what a revolutionary and magical product it is. However, iPhone contains the most sophisticated software ever shipped on a mobile device, and finishing it on time has not come without a price — we had to borrow some key software engineering and QA resources from our Mac OS X team, and as a result we will not be able to release Leopard at our Worldwide Developers Conference in early June as planned. While Leopard's features will be complete by then, we cannot deliver the quality release that we and our customers expect from us. We now plan to show our developers a near final version of Leopard at the conference, give them a beta copy to take home so they can do their final testing, and ship Leopard in October. We think it will be well worth the wait. Life often presents tradeoffs, and in this case we're sure we've made the right ones.
(via Digg)

Sucks. On the other hand, maybe they were holding up new hardware for Leopard and will now go ahead and release those. New iMacs are over due, and we were hoping to get one for Amy this year as soon as the next new revisions come out. I'm getting tired of sharing. :-)

Abulsme - Thu, 12 Apr 2007, 17:33:12 PDT
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Tue 10 Apr 2007

Sick and Shaggy

So Saturday morning I woke up with an ear ache and a lump in my throat. Over the course of the day the ear ache slowly diminished, but a full blown annoying head and chest cold developed. Lots of coughing and hacking. Lots of nose blowing. It is not the kind of sick that has one completely curled up in a ball unable to do anything, but just the kind that is JUST bad enough to keep you unhappy and make it hard to concentrate and make you prefer not to be doing anything all that intense.

Monday I went into work because there was one thing I wanted to get done, but as soon as I'd done that I headed back home and then basically did nothing of any usefulness for the rest of the day.

Tuesday I worked from home in the morning, although my speed and productivity was not up to healthy par. I went in for a couple hours in the afternoon because there was an all-hands meeting, but I probably would have been better off skipping it. I did however try not to cough on too many people.

Looking at today I will probably once again do a partial work from home day, working from home in the morning and going in in the afternoon. Depends how I feel when I wake up I guess. I'm certainly not 100%, but I'm on the upside of this sick and am better than I was yesterday or the day before. It is very annoying however.

Also, as can be seen in the picture, I have been being a lazy slob. I'm desperately overdue for both a haircut and a shave. On the shave at some point I decided I would wait and do it at the same time I got my haircut. On the haircut, I keep remembering and deciding I want to go get it done at times where the barber near me is insensitively closed, like the middle of the night, or a Sunday evening. What is wrong with them?

Both are getting to the point where they are really bothering me though. I like myself best with short hair and clean shaven.

Back when I lived in New Jersey (years ago now) I was on a strict hair cut every 5 weeks schedule, and I would always make the appointment for the next one when I left the one before. Then when I was in Florida, I would get a haircut before each visit to a client, which was never more than 6 or 7 weeks apart. Since I have been in Washington, I just haven't been on a pattern... and I need to be.

As for the shaving, I have just been lazy. An extra couple minutes in bed in the morning, or shaving? The time in bed wins every time. And on weekends I try to remember, but often don't. And unlike the last couple places I have worked, there are often other scruffy people, so I don't feel quite as out of place.

Never-the-less, I don't really like it. So I'll need to do something about it.

Maybe today I will take care of both after I'm done my morning work from home session and before I come into the office. I could do that instead of lunch. That might be a plan.

Of course I thought of that both Monday and yesterday, and then I thought that going to the barber and coughing up chunks of grey goo all over the barber chair might not be appreciated all that much by the barber. So maybe I'll wait on the haircut if tomorrow I am still a big ball of germs.

Abulsme - Tue, 10 Apr 2007, 21:29:34 PDT
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Sun 08 Apr 2007

Taxes Again

I just finished doing and filing my taxes and Brandy's taxes. It is much better than the last few years, but being taxes, it still blows. Each of us will be getting a small refund this year. Although Brandy will get actual money, while mine will be applied toward what the IRS thinks I still owe them for the 2004 tax year. An amount that if my proof wasn't in some box in storage somewhere, I would have already proved I really didn't owe because it is all due to my employer from that year reporting certain amounts on the wrong forms and then refusing to correct it once the error was pointed out to them.

Oh well. At least it didn't come out that I owed a five figure amount like happened originally with the 2004 taxes. That really sucked.

This time it is just the usual suckage of realizing that even after all deductions and such, the Federal government stole 18.59% of the money I made in 2006. Bastards. I *know* I could make better use of the cash than Congress and W could. Harumpf.

Abulsme - Sun, 8 Apr 2007, 19:18:36 PDT
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Sat 07 Apr 2007

DVD: Yours, Mine & Ours

I'm going to start linking to Wikipedia for these instead of Netflix. Just more info there.

Anyway, Amy wanted to watch a DVD last night. I looked at the last 10 DVD's I'd watched... 4 of them were Brandy picked movies, 2 were Sam picks, 2 were picked by my mom when she was visiting, 1 was a Doctor Who, and 1 was an Amy pick. So it was either time for an Amy pick or a Doctor Who. So Amy had her pick, and this was it this time.

This is a remake of a 1968 movie by the same name. I've never seen that version, but I of course added it to my ever growing Netflix list. This version was another typical Amy chosen movie. A family romantic comedy sort of thing. Brady Bunch meets Cheaper by the Dozen plus a dose of the Odd Couple. One family is a bunch of disgusting slobs, the other are what seemed to me to be good well behaved kids, but I think were supposed to be a little too uptight. In any case, they clash they plot to break up their parents, they succeed, and then they are sorry, and in the end everybody is one big happy family.

The movie was cute if formulaic. I didn't regret watching it. No need to see it again though.

Abulsme - Sat, 7 Apr 2007, 15:11:49 PDT
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Tue 03 Apr 2007


A few minutes ago Brandy's plane took off from Philadelphia. It went North over the city and then turned west and is now at cruising altitude and on its way. If she makes her connection in Minnesota, then she should be back on the ground here at 23:03. (Although they were a bit late leaving Philly, so there is a chance she won't make that connection.)

In any case... Whew!!! It will be good to have her home. I'm exausted after doing the single dad thing for 8 days. I want a nap. :-)

Abulsme - Tue, 3 Apr 2007, 09:14:32 PDT
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Mon 02 Apr 2007

Freeing the Music

The rumors of this got to a fevered pace over the weekend, but the offiial confirmation was at 12 UTC today.

EMI Music launches DRM-free superior sound quality downloads across its entire digital repertoire

EMI Music today announced that it is launching new premium downloads for retail on a global basis, making all of its digital repertoire available at a much higher sound quality than existing downloads and free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.

The new higher quality DRM-free music will complement EMI's existing range of standard DRM-protected downloads already available. From today, EMI's retailers will be offered downloads of tracks and albums in the DRM-free audio format of their choice in a variety of bit rates up to CD quality. EMI is releasing the premium downloads in response to consumer demand for high fidelity digital music for use on home music systems, mobile phones and digital music players. EMI's new DRM-free products will enable full interoperability of digital music across all devices and platforms.
(via Digg and dozens of other places)

DRM is stupid and counter productive. And as people have been finding out time and time again over the last few years, eventually futile. And attempts to make it work by law where the technology won't do it just result in draconian laws that are completely out of line with the potential offenses.

People will still buy instead of pirating if the service you are providing for the money is quicker, more convienent, and of better quality than the alternitives. But people have to get over the idea that you are paying for the content. Like it or not, content is going to be free. Not as some sort of philosophic dogma that it should be, but simply as a result of old fashioned supply and demand curves. When making a copy of something (without destorying the original) is effectively free, the supply becomes essentially to infinite, and therefore the equilibrium price drops close to zero. The only way to prop that price up is by using laws to try to enforce a price floor through artificial means.

What people will pay for however is a delivery mechanism that does what they want and has the capabilities they want. And some people (not most) will still pay for creation of new content that they want. But the ballgame has changed. And the ways you can make money off it will be completely different.

There are still going to be many many attempts to preserve the old business models, but it will just take time. Those old business models will go away and be replaced by new and better mechanisms.

This might be a good first step. Everything sold this way will be pirated within seconds of the first sale. Might EMI still make money? Maybe. They still have the problem of being a middle man that essentially adds no additional value. But they might still be able to make good money because this will be an easier way to get their stuff than other methods.

In the long run though, these middleman companies like EMI are going to end up morphing into completely new forms where they figure out how to add value in this new world, or they will go away completely. Based on history, they will probably figure it out... just many years later than they should have.

Abulsme - Mon, 2 Apr 2007, 08:51:13 PDT
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Sun 01 Apr 2007

Hot Dogs with Peanut Butter

Ever since I was a kid, I have liked hot dogs with peanut butter on them. Not ketchup. Can't stand the stuff. No mustard, no relish, none of those awful things. Just peanut butter. I always thought this was a family tradition sort of thing from my Mom's side of the family, but she told Brandy recently that she has no idea where I got it from. In any case, as far as I am concerned, it is the only way to eat hot dogs. Oh, and it should be crunchy peanut butter too.

Today Amy made us hot dogs for lunch. We didn't have any hot dog buns in the house though, so for me she just made a big pile of peanut butter on a plate and stuck the hot dogs on top. You then sort of dip the hot dog in the peanut butter between each bite. A little bit different than the experience with a bun, but it was still good.

Is there anybody else out there that eats hot dogs with peanut butter???

A quick google search shows I am not alone:

Peanut butter hot dog craze sweeping Du Bois
(Cindi Lash, Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

Russell Emel sure does like peanut butter.

Forget dip for potato chips or ketchup for french fries. Russell demands a dollop of peanut butter on most everything, down to the ice cream for dessert.

But when it came to indulging the first-grader's cravings for hot dogs garnished with a gob of Skippy, Russell's mother balked.

"It's not my thing," said Cyndee Emel, 41, with a grimace. "It kind of made me sick to smear it on the hot dogs for him."

Russell persisted. His mother turned to the Internet, posting half-jesting pleas that would spark a community-wide inside joke in this Clearfield County city of 8,000: Could local meat market operator J. LeRoy Palumbo Jr. appease Russell by creating a peanut butter hot dog?

Mr. Palumbo, whose culinary experiments in the landmark market his grandfather, Dominic, founded in 1927 have resulted in such treats as jalapeno-cheese hot dogs and wild boar jerky, took up the challenge. He and production manager Tom Weaver produced a 25-pound experimental batch, even though they feared it would be awful.

As an unmistakable nutty smell wafted from the smokehouse under Palumbo's Meats of Du Bois, Mr. Palumbo fired off a response to the Web site, announcing, "Come get 'em." That batch sold out in hours. So did the next.
Although that is peanut butter *in* the hot dogs, I still may have to get myself some of those to try them out...

Abulsme - Sun, 1 Apr 2007, 14:24:19 PDT
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