Archives: May 2007

Wed 30 May 2007

Roscoe's Adventure

A few hours ago Brandy and I went out to eat. Amy was going to stay home working on a school project and we were going to bring her back food. As we were leaving, Amy waved goodbye to us while hanging on the back fence.

When we got back with the food almost two hours later, and we came in, Brandy noticed that the dog did not come running. She quickly discovered that when Amy had been hanging on the back fence, she had accidentally unlatched the back gate. Roscoe often spends a few hours each afternoon and evening freely coming in and out of the house to the fully fenced back yard. This time he of course at some point noticed the open gate, and decided to take himself for a walk.

As soon as we realized what had happened, Brandy and I immediately split up, first walking the usual routes where we walk him, calling his name. Amy stayed home with the door open in case he came home. She was a wreck, crying and blaming herself for letting him out.

When there was no sign of him we gave up walking and instead we each drove slowly around practically every street within a one mile radius of the house, looking for any signs of him and fearing for the worst, as Roscoe is not necessarily aware of the dangers of streets and cars.

After about an hour, I had parked the car at home again and was walking various bike paths and looping around our usual routes again. Brandy was driving a few more loops on a few more streets before returning to do more by foot again. Around the 90 minute mark I got a call from Brandy. She had him.

About a third of a mile from our house, off our residential road, then onto the main road through the neighborhood, down a few streets, Roscoe had made a left at a fork in the road and was walking slowly down the sidewalk. Brandy stopped her car. She got out. They looked at each other for a moment, neither one moving. Then she called him and he ran to her as fast as he could and jumped into her arms. He then happily hopped straight into the car and curled up on the seat. He was done with his adventure.

A few minutes later he was home and eagerly drinking water from his dish. We were all very relieved. This could have ended very badly.

Of course this means Amy has not yet finished her school project which is due in the morning. But it is very late, and she has headed to bed, exhausted from both the hour and the emotional toll of the last few hours. Her clock is set for earlier than usual in the morning. Hopefully enough to get he project completed before school.

Or course, that is of lesser significance right now. Roscoe is home and Roscoe is safe. We are very very glad.

Abulsme - Wed, 30 May 2007, 23:56:57 PDT
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Tue 29 May 2007


And here I thought Apple would get something big out using this technology first... but nope. Microsoft beat them to it.

Microsoft Surface

Product Overview: Surface is the first commercially available surface computing platform from Microsoft Corporation. It turns an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant, interactive surface. The product provides effortless interaction with digital content through natural gestures, touch and physical objects. In essence, it’s a surface that comes to life for exploring, learning, sharing, creating, buying and much more. Soon to be available in restaurants, hotels, retail and public entertainment venues, this experience will transform the way people shop, dine, entertain and live.

Description: Surface is a 30-inch display in a table-like form factor that’s easy for individuals or small groups to interact with in a way that feels familiar, just like in the real world. Surface can simultaneously recognize dozens and dozens of movements such as touch, gestures and will be able to recognize actual unique objects that have identification tags similar to bar codes.

Surface will ship to partners with a portfolio of basic applications, including photos, music, virtual concierge and games, which can be customized to provide their customers with unique experiences.
(via Gizmodo)

Of course, it has a pretty hefty price tag and is intended to be used in a kiosk kind of form at hotels, malls and other public places like that. But it won't be all that long until this sort of thing is in other stuff.... including of course the iPhone next month, although it won't do quite the same things as this table thing.

But I bet you I see my first iPhone in person before I see my first Surface in person.

Abulsme - Tue, 29 May 2007, 23:56:00 PDT
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Ecosystem Update

For the first time since 2004, I've added a data point to the graph comparing the TTLB Ecosystem rankings of myself and a few of my friends with blogs. I only updated the lines for blogs that were already there in my chart in 2004. I'll see if I can add more people next time I update this graph. Probably in 2010 or something.

Anyway, it can easily be seen that Reb's blog is actually actively linked to and read by real people. In comparison my blog and Al's are way down there, indicating that both our blogs are really only read and linked to by a handful of friends. But we knew that I think. :-)

Click on the graph above for a larger version.

Abulsme - Tue, 29 May 2007, 08:18:19 PDT
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Sun 27 May 2007

Amy at Sea

I just noticed that this picture made it into the May issue of the school newsletter. This is from Amy's week long school sailing trip at the end of April. Amy is the one near the front with the kid with the hat in front of her. They seemed to have a great time on that trip.

Abulsme - Sun, 27 May 2007, 17:12:03 PDT
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Sat 26 May 2007

Card Girl

Abulsme - Sat, 26 May 2007, 21:33:01 PDT
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Cheney Stuff

Sorry to do a politics one two days in a row. Yesterday I saw posts about this in several places and it just seemed interesting...

Cheney Attempting to Constrain Bush's Choices on Iran Conflict: Staff Engaged in Insubordination Against President Bush
(Steve Clemons, The Washington Note)

There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy.

On one flank are the diplomats, and on the other is Vice President Cheney's team and acolytes -- who populate quite a wide swath throughout the American national security bureaucracy.

The Pentagon and the intelligence establishment are providing support to add muscle and nuance to the diplomatic effort led by Condi Rice, her deputy John Negroponte, Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns, and Legal Adviser John Bellinger. The support that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and CIA Director Michael Hayden are providing Rice's efforts are a complete, 180 degree contrast to the dysfunction that characterized relations between these institutions before the recent reshuffle of top personnel.

However, the Department of Defense and national intelligence sector are also preparing for hot conflict. They believe that they need to in order to convince Iran's various power centers that the military option does exist.

But this is worrisome. The person in the Bush administration who most wants a hot conflict with Iran is Vice President Cheney. The person in Iran who most wants a conflict is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran's Revolutionary Guard Quds Force would be big winners in a conflict as well -- as the political support that both have inside Iran has been flagging.

Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney's national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush's tack towards Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.

This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.
(via The Daily Dish)

There is also an interesting followup:

Cheney's Iran Fantasy
(Joe Klein, Time)
Last December, as Rumsfeld was leaving, President Bush met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in "The Tank," the secure room in the Pentagon where the Joint Chiefs discuss classified matters of national security. Bush asked the Chiefs about the wisdom of a troop "surge" in Iraq. They were unanimously opposed. Then Bush asked about the possibility of a successful attack on Iran's nuclear capability. He was told that the U.S. could launch a devastating air attack on Iran's government and military, wiping out the Iranian air force, the command and control structure and some of the more obvious nuclear facilities. But the Chiefs were--once again--unanimously opposed to taking that course of action.

Why? Because our intelligence inside Iran is very sketchy. There was no way to be sure that we could take out all of Iran's nuclear facilities. Furthermore, the Chiefs warned, the Iranian response in Iraq and, quite possibly, in terrorist attacks on the U.S. could be devastating. Bush apparently took this advice to heart and went to Plan B--a covert destabilization campaign reported earlier this week by ABC News. If Clemons is right, and I'm pretty sure he is, Cheney is still pushing Plan A.
(via The Daily Dish)

It is interesting to speculate how different the last few years would have been if back at the beginning W would have been paying attention to Powell and company rather than Cheney and Rumsfeld. I suspect things would have been radically different. Even now, a little too late and not quite enough, you can start to see the difference with Rumsfeld out and Cheney in eclipse. It will be interesting to see however how much trouble Cheney will still be able to create, and if anything at all comes of it over the last year and a half of the administration.

Abulsme - Sat, 26 May 2007, 09:21:46 PDT
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Thu 24 May 2007

Sullivan on Obama

For the last few months, although I haven't yet added it to the links on the left of my blog, I've found myself checking out Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish at least daily, sometimes more often. I seem to frequently find myself on a very similar page to him. At least when he isn't talking about religion.

He recently went to see Obama speak in person and this is the beginning of what he had to say:

The Reagan of the Left?
(Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish, The Atlantic Online)

I went to see Obama last night. He had a fundraiser at H20, a yuppie disco/restaurant in Southwest DC. I was curious about how he is in person. I'm still absorbing the many impressions I got. But one thing stays in my head. This guy is a liberal. Make no mistake about that. He may, in fact, be the most effective liberal advocate I've heard in my lifetime. As a conservative, I think he could be absolutely lethal to what's left of the tradition of individualism, self-reliance, and small government that I find myself quixotically attached to. And as a simple observer, I really don't see what's stopping him from becoming the next president. The overwhelming first impression that you get - from the exhausted but vibrant stump speech, the diverse nature of the crowd, the swell of the various applause lines - is that this is the candidate for real change. He has what Reagan had in 1980 and Clinton had in 1992: the wind at his back. Sometimes, elections really do come down to a simple choice: change or more of the same?
The rest of his impressions are interesting as well. Read the whole thing.

Abulsme - Thu, 24 May 2007, 19:18:12 PDT
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Wed 23 May 2007

The Snows of May

All day yesterday (got it right this time!) at work when I looked out the window it looked like it was snowing. Snowing pretty heavily too. But of course it wasn't snow. It was pollen. Lots and lots of flying pollen. When I left work early today, it was piling up in drifts a couple of inches deep, like the above. Yum!

Abulsme - Wed, 23 May 2007, 19:49:00 PDT
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Tue 22 May 2007

Pizza Pi

Posted to a mailing list at work today:

A pizza of radius z and thickness a has a volume of pi z z a
I know it isn't new or anything, but I was amused.

Abulsme - Tue, 22 May 2007, 19:08:10 PDT
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Mon 21 May 2007

Nomenclature of Time

In the past on this blog, I have always been very self conscious when I have talked about when things have happened. This is because while the blog's clock is on UTC, my computer's clock is on UTC, and I keep every clock I have that has a 24 hour mode on UTC I know people who read this blog are in all sorts of time zones, relatively few of which (OK, none on a regular basis) are in places where UTC is the local time that everybody uses. And of course depending on the time of year, the local time zone where I live is 7 or 8 hours from UTC.

So I'm always thinking when I use a word like "yesterday" just what it should refer to. For instance, right now, if I were to mention something that happened the last time I had breakfast, it would be "Yesterday" if I were using UTC as my base... and as of a few moments ago it would also be be "Yesterday" on the US East Coast. But on the West Coast, where I am physically located, it would still be "Today". Or also, regardless of time zones, if I divided things by when I slept, it would still be "today" and might still be "today" even after the local time passed midnight. But then what if I took a nap?

I have used UTC ever since sometime in college when I stopped using the Julian Date which I had used for the last half of high school and first half of college for all my timestamps. (Before that, I used something which my High School Physics teacher had coined "SFT" which was a modification of UTC where I subtracted 1 from the year, month and day so that they would be a measurement of elapsed time like the hours minutes and seconds rather than a 1st, 2nd, 3rd sort of ordinal... I hated that inconsistency.)

Now from all this it should be clear to anyone who didn't already know that I hate the idea of timezones and local time and think they should be relegated to the dustbin of history. They might have been appropriate in an era before instantaneous global communication, but in the modern age, the idea of restricting our notion of time to try to make it so that certain numbers coincide with solar cycles in the place you happen to be physically located at the time is just plain stupid. And don't even get me started on Daylight Savings Time. What a crock.

Anyway, in an ideal world, everybody would be using something like the Julian date, thus also getting rid of the horrible irregular calendar we have inherited. And believe me, if I could click a setting on my computer and my phone and all my devices, and easily use that as my primary date mode I would seriously consider it. The only thing that would stop me would be the fact that converting from Julian to the dates and times everybody else uses is a bit too difficult to do in my head. So Julian is unfortunately out.

Luckily, almost all devices let you define the time zone to UTC and when I need to convert to local time it is fairly easy as long as I can remember where in the world I am at the moment and what time of year it is. So UTC it has been for years, and UTC it shall remain.

But in the past when posting I have been careful... so if right now I were to talk about something that happened around the last time I had breakfast, instead of saying "Yesterday" I would say "Monday" because the event happened Monday in all the time zones where I know I have regular readers as well as in UTC. If I was talking about something that happened during those hours where UTC, the US East Coast and the US West Coast were in different days, then I usually say something like "a few hours ago" or even say a day, but specify explicitly that it is UTC. Or other such verbal gymnastics.

Well, no more! From now on, it is all UTC and without apologies! If I give a date something happened, I mean the date UTC. If I say a day of week, I mean UTC. If I say yesterday, today or tomorrow, I mean all of those as bound by 00:00:00 UTC. If I say "Early in the Day" I mean approximately 00:00 UTC to 08:00 UTC. "Middle of the day" would run from about 08:00 UTC to 16:00 UTC, and End of the Day from about 16:00 UTC back to the next 00:00 UTC.

Now, having said all of the above... there *are* terms that when I use them will be about the local solar cycle. For instance, Noon is not 12:00 UTC, or even 12:00 of what ever local time I happen to be in... it is the time when the sun is highest in the sky. "Morning" is from sunrise to noon. "Afternoon" is from noon to sunset. "Nighttime" is when the sun is not in the sky. Midnight is not 00:00 UTC or local 00:00, it is half way between sunset and sunrise. All based on the sun relative to my current location.

For instance, where I am now today morning will be from approximately 12:24 UTC to 20:06 UTC (noon) and afternoon will be from about 20:06 UTC today to about 03:49 UTC tomorrow.

I will tend to use those terms less often though, as they are meaningless unless I also provide my location, which will it generally will be close to my home at N 47°54.833', W 122°17.382', certainly might not always be that. And of course those terms vary based on time of year as well. So, as I said, I'll use them less frequently.

Generally, I'll just give a day, and it will be a UTC day. If I need to give a general time of day, I'll usually either say something like "Around 18:00 Yesterday" or something like that. But I won't feel bad if I don't say UTC. Although I may say "18 UTC" if I am giving an actual time... cause after all, it is good to provide units... and that is sort of like providing units. But if I say "Monday" or "Yesterday" I won't bother trying to think about how that might be interpreted in various time zones... it will just be UTC. Cause that is how it should be. Everybody should use UTC for everything. (Well, at least if they aren't going to use the Julian Date.)

OK, whew. I've been meaning to say all that for a couple months now. Finally got around to it.

Abulsme - Mon, 21 May 2007, 20:59:17 PDT
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Sun 20 May 2007

Book: Narn i chîn Húrin: the tale of the children of Húrin

Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Started: 7 May 2007
Finished: 20 May 2007
313 p / 14 d
22 p/d

The title listed in the subject is the real title, used on the title page of the book and in the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data section. The "friendlier" title "The Children of Húrin" is used on the cover and other places you see it mentioned... but it is not the real title. So I am using the real title above.

Regardless, this is the "new" Tolkien book... the story itself has been published in several forms in the past, including as a chapter in The Silmarillion. But that was in a more abbreviated "summary" sort of form. This instead is Christopher Tolkien's attempt to piece together dozens of drafts of portions of this tale that has father left behind into a single coherent novel form.

As a not all that critical reader and a Tolkien fan, I think he did just fine. This book is much darker than the Lord of the Rings and definitely isn't quite as accessible and fun as a story. And of course the main character just makes mistake after mistake, leading inexorably to the unhappy ending. But it gives another glimpse into another bit of Middle Earth history.

If you are into Tolkien... especially if you are into him enough that you have read the Silmarillion and not just the Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, then you NEED to read this book too. If you never were able to get into the Silmarillion, this might be a bit more interesting to you than that was... this really is a novel, which the Silmarillion wasn't really... so maybe.

But if when reading TLOTR you just never were very interested in the background history of that world and weren't reading the Appendices at the end of the Return of the King wishing there was even more to read... then you can probably skip this.

Having said that, since I was one of those soaking up every last drop... well, OK, I never got past Book 2 of the 12 volume History of Middle Earth... but soaking up a lot of drops anyway... I did enjoy the Children of Húrin.

Abulsme - Sun, 20 May 2007, 22:24:13 PDT
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Sat 19 May 2007

Animal Globe

Last weekend we went to the zoo. This weekend is Music weekend. A performance by Amy's bass teacher, a performance by the youth orchestra Amy is in, and finally a performance by Amy's chorus. Right now we're at two down, one to go.

But last week, we went to the zoo.

Abulsme - Sat, 19 May 2007, 20:12:32 PDT
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Coffee Smile

Abulsme - Sat, 19 May 2007, 13:54:09 PDT
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Thu 17 May 2007

Reorg #4

Announced a few hours ago, a reorganization at work. Here is my history so far:

Jeff -> Kal -> Mark -> Llew -> Sam (36 days)
Jeff -> Kal -> Scott -> Llew -> Sam (74 days)
Jeff -> Kal -> Colin -> Llew -> Sam (145 days)
Jeff -> Brian -> Colin -> Llew -> Sam (237 days)
Jeff -> Brian -> Colin -> Llew -> Dan -> Sam -> {People}

My average is now a reorg every 123 days. But they have been getting further apart.

Now, this is actually the first change since I have been here that will have a direct effect on my day to day role.

My old boss (who reads this blog, hi!) just got a whole lot of new responsibilities and his organization just about doubled in size. He needed to no longer have direct reports. So I needed to move. (Well at least that was one of the options.)

For now, I drop down a level in terms of depth in the org chart, but at the same time my role shifts and for the first time in a few years I will have direct reports of my own and be an actual people manager again rather than a program or product manager. At the moment I have 4 people reporting to me. Plans are already in place so that by the end of June I should have 6 after one person returns from family leave and another transfers in from another group.

In terms of actual job titles and such it is considered a horizontal move, but I am hoping it is a move that will give me new opportunities to expand and grow in the future that will more than balance being one more level removed from the CEO. And I work with and get along with Dan (my new manager) very well. And I'll still interact extensively with Llew. So all should be good.

I will have a lot to do to really step up into the new role though. So I'm sure over the next few months I'll have my hands quite full and will be being challenged. But that is not a bad thing at all. Not at all.

Abulsme - Thu, 17 May 2007, 18:51:00 PDT
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Pepsi Summer Mix

I didn't get a post in last night, so a quicky for lunch time... Tried Pepsi "Summer Mix" flavor at lucnh because it was new and all, but if you haven't tried it yet, no need to bother. Really. That's all. More tomorrow maybe.

Abulsme - Thu, 17 May 2007, 13:11:23 PDT
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Tue 15 May 2007

Book: Dreams from My Father

Author: Barack Obama
Started: 15 Apr 2007
Finished: 7 May 2007
457p / 23d
20 p/d

On the plane on the way home from Ohio, I finished the first of Obama's two books. Both were given to me by the DC branch of my family for Christmas. This is *not* the book where he talks about his political beliefs and politics and such. That is the next one. This one instead is about Barack Obama's search for his own identity and roots.

In any case, I really enjoyed the book. Barack tells a good story. From the confused youth through to trying to find the right ways to make a difference to his search for knowledge of the father he barely knew. It gives you a portrait of Barack as a person. And he seems like someone you might well want to know. Well... at least later in the book. The teenage and college years Obama I'm not so sure of. :-)

But it was all basically an introspective search for self. I am not sure however that by the end Obama had actually quite figured out who he was yet. He was still patching together clues. The book ends still years before Obama was in the state legislature in Illinois, let alone the more recent experiences in the US Senate and now running for President. There is a lot more to who Obama is and to his biography than can be found in this first book.

But what is in this first book is appealing. There are a lot of warts and imperfections. This is not a glossy idealized Obama. But it still gives an interesting picture that makes you think this is exactly the kind of biography that COULD end up producing a good president. And the wide ranging background and experiences that formed his early years would give a perspective dramatically different from that of any previous president or anyone else running. But in a good way, not a bad way.

Would I vote for this man for President? Well now, that is an entirely different question. I'll reserve judgement on that for quite a while. At least until I've read the second book, most likely even longer. I suspect that while I like him as a person, and think his perspective and background would be useful, and of all the candidates having him rise to the presidency would certainly be the most dramatic and inspiring narrative... I am guessing that when I dive into it many of his actual positions and policies will make it very difficult for me to consider actually voting for him even if he made it to the general election. (Out of principle I refuse to register a party and participate in any primaries.)

Of course, that will also depend who else ends up on the general election ballot, and I'm not talking just about the Republicans. Hopefully this time there will be at least one third party candidate whose views I like and who isn't a complete nutjob. I can almost never stomach either of the major party candidates. Oh well, we shall see.

Also, I must say I am definitely liking having divided government again. It should always be that way. I'll probably end up judging the house and senate races individually, but I must say I certainly hope that if the Democrats take the Presidency that the Republicans manage to take back the congress, and if the Republicans keep the White House the Dems keep the congress. It is always trouble when both are in the same hands... regardless of which hands.

Oh, back to the book... Dreams from My Father is very engaging. It kept me interested and turning the pages. Not just from wanting to know more about this guy running for president, but just in wanting to follow the narrative to the next step. It is emotional and a bit melodramatic, but that is OK, I like that kind of thing.

I also like the idea of a Presidential Candidate that is able to do that kind of introspection, of trying to understand his own soul. And being able to openly express it that way. And to speak about it in a compelling manner. You definitely can see the link to his convention speech in 2004. My blog was not up and running that month as I was in the process of moving my stuff from Pennsylvania to Florida and I hadn't set everything up again, but the next day (28 Jul 2004 at 14:43:38 UTC) I made my first ever mention of Obama in an email to a couple of friends. This is what I said:

Missed it last night, but just watched Obama's convention speech off the C-Span website. He hit it out of the park. Came off VERY well. I liked him a lot. I'll go out on a limb and say that he WILL be on a presidential ticket (not saying top or bottom) in 2008 or 2012.
Yup. I'll stick by that. As I said, not sure if I would vote for him, but if he doesn't at least make it on a ticket, then I will be very disappointed.

He just generates such excitement in a way I have not seen from a candidate since... um... I was going to say since I've been paying attention to politics... but that is not true... there was a similar level of energy and excitement about Ross Perot at the time. Just because he was so different and broke the mold. That is the same sort of feeling around Obama.

Hopefully he doesn't flame out like Perot did. However many years later I'm still mad at Perot for pulling out just long enough to destroy his chances in 1992 before jumping back in. If he hadn't done that we might have actually had three candidates with electoral votes and an election thrown into the house. Damn him for spoiling the fun. At least we made up for it somewhat with the fun of the recounts in 2000.

Anyway... I got excited by this book. The Obama candidacy will be really fun to watch. And an Obama presidency would be fun to watch as well if it happened. And he *is* appealing... While I can't say I'd vote for him... I'm not ready to rule it out yet, and that is saying quite a bit.

Abulsme - Tue, 15 May 2007, 20:58:38 PDT
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Sam N Mom N Sara

The last picture from my Ohio trip. My mom, Sara and me right before I headed back to the West Coast.

Abulsme - Tue, 15 May 2007, 00:06:22 PDT
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Sun 13 May 2007

Sara N Sam

Another big part of the trip besides the things already mentioned was that I got to see Serendipity for the first time since December 2003. In dog years that is a long time! Sara did seem glad to see me and wanted to spend as much time with me as she could, so I'll choose to think that she remembered me. I have missed seeing her, as although my mother has managed to squeeze in a visit to me about once a year, me visiting in the other direction just hasn't been in the cards, so it has been forever since I saw Sara!

For those who may not remember, in the summer of 2001, I rescued Sara when I found her running loose in the middle of Interstate 95 in Pennsylvania. I saw her almost hit by a couple cars as I approached. I pulled over to the side of the road and managed to get her out of traffic and into my car. I tried every way I knew to try to find her original owners but failed. The vet said that she was probably about 3 months old and judging by the ticks she had when I found her she had probably been "on her own" for around 3 weeks. She also had a broken and healed rib, indicating at least one unpleasant incident in her past.

I took her in, but because at the time I was in an apartment, and was not yet on medications that controlled my allergies well enough to live with a dog, I could not keep her. But I was not about to give her up to a stranger. So I introduced her to my mother, and a couple months after I had found her, she traveled to my mom's house and they have been together ever since.

Anyway, I miss Sara. It was very good seeing her again.

Abulsme - Sun, 13 May 2007, 21:02:36 PDT
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Sat 12 May 2007


A bit more on my trip to Ohio. This was the main point of the trip there.

My mother was being officially installed as the "Association Minister of the Southwest Ohio Northern Kentucky Association of the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ". She has been at the job for almost a year now, but this was the time for the official service installing her in the position. It was a nice service with a lot of music that was definitely a match for who my mother is. And then there was the religious equivalent of a swearing in. I was glad I could be there.

Abulsme - Sat, 12 May 2007, 17:49:00 PDT
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Chad N Friends

On the second evening I was in Ohio, I got together for dinner with Chad and some of his friends from work. We spend a few hours talking and such. It was interesting to catch up a bit and to get a peek into the current life of Chad. Of course, I'm still not sure I understand exactly what they do, but that is OK. They were an interesting bunch.

Abulsme - Sat, 12 May 2007, 14:36:53 PDT
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Thu 10 May 2007

Grandfather Church

A second picture from my trip. This of my mother in front of the church in Covington, Ohio that my grandfather Ralph Aaron Brandon was the pastor of when he died in 1941 a few months before my mother was born.

Abulsme - Thu, 10 May 2007, 19:16:13 PDT
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Wed 09 May 2007


The first of a series of pictures from my trip to see my mom. Right after I arrived early in the morning after taking the redeye, we went straight to Versailles, OH where several of my ancestors were buried. There may be more than these three, there were certainly many other Brandons, many of which I could identify from documents I have as various sorts of distant cousins. But on this trip anyway we only found these three who were direct ancestors.

The stones above are for:

I actually haven't gotten too much farther on the Brandon line of my research, but what I have done so far indicates that David Clement's father Robert G Brandon should also be in that same cemetery, but we did not find him. I suspect there are more as well though, as the Brandon's lived in that area for a couple more generations back. Well, I'm sure I'll go back again someday to find more of them.

We did though find many many other Brandon cousins, especially in the older portion of the cemetery. As I said, that part of the family was based there for many generations.

Anyway, that was the first thing I did once I got to Ohio. Tramp around a small town grave yard for an hour or so with my mother looking for ancestors and cousins.

Abulsme - Wed, 9 May 2007, 20:56:50 PDT
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Cinema: The Last Mimzy

I am way late in posting this. It has been weeks since we saw this movie, but a few weeks ago we did the actual go out and see a movie thing and the movie we saw was The Last Mimsy, which is based on a 1940's short story called Mimsy were the Borogoves which I have of course not read.

In any case, I *really* liked this movie. It is a sweet family movie. There is nothing deep here. There is nothing controversial or thought provoking. You don't come out feeling like it has changed your life or anything. But it is just solidly cute and sweet. And OK, many people do not like that kind of movie at all, and would feel like it was torture, but I like those kinds of movies.

I'm not sure I really have much more than that to say. Click the movie poster to go to Wikipedia if you want more on the plot and stuff. As for me, the summary is just that I came out going "Awwww...." kind of like when you see a cute kitten or puppy or whatnot. And that was enough.

Oh, and I liked the song at the end by Roger Walters. I'll have to get a copy of that.

Abulsme - Wed, 9 May 2007, 08:40:22 PDT
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Sun 06 May 2007


I am in Denver now, waiting for my flight to Seattle. It has been delayed an hour so far.

But the story of the trip home so far is the flight from Dayton to Denver. A little ways through the seat belt lights came on. The Captain came on the intercom and said that we were going to hit about 10 minutes of turbulence and to make sure we were belted and secure. The flight attendant repeated this about two minutes later. I could see the flight attendant, but not who she was looking at when she said, over the loudspeaker:

"I don't care if you need to use the bathroom ma'am, you need to sit down and get belted in RIGHT NOW. You can hold it for ten minutes. Trust me, you do NOT want to be in the bathroom unsecured and be thrown around. Sit down NOW."

I guess she did. I am guessing she was glad she did.

A few minutes later the turbulence started. It did not last 10 minutes. It lasted more like 3 minutes. But it was the worst turbulence I have ever felt on by far. The airplane lurched violently side to side and up and down. It pitched and yawed suddenly and violently every few seconds. There were a handful of negative G moments. I don't think I heard any actual screams, but each time it lurched there was a massive collective gasp coming from all over the plane.The whole airframe shook and rattled and felt like it was going to fall apart at any moment.

Of course it didn't. Three minutes later we were out of it and everything was smooth again.

The pilot came on and explained that we had just passed through the front that has been causing all the tornados and bad weather on the ground. They had spent extra time trying to figure out if they could go under it or over it or around it, but they couldn't. They did take us about 15 minutes out of our way to find the shortest possible corridor through the turbulent area. Thus getting us 3 minutes of the violent tossing and turning rather than 10 to 15. I thank our pilot very much for that. 3 minutes was quite enough.

The picture is the view out the window (with my cellphone, I didn't remember until later that I had my real camera with me too) right after we passed out of the turbulent area. You can clearly see the weather front.

Soon after it was over, the people beside me and behind me, who turned out to be Air Force pilots, started talking about the turbulence. "Is that the worst turbulence you have ever felt?" "I think there might have been one time in a transport that might have been, but this was close." "Well, this was the worst I've felt." "One time I was in something that FELT worse, but I was in a little trainer plane... " "You would not want to be in anything CLOSE to this in a small plane." "Yeah, this was very bad." "Definately the worst I have ever felt on a commercial flight." Etc.

Anyway, that validated at least a little bit that it really was pretty bad, and not just the uninitiated amoungst us being overly sensitive. The pilot apologized for the rough ride another couple of times before we landed. :-)

Anyway, I've certainly read about much worse. Nobody was thrown from their seats, nobody hit the ceiling, there were no injuries. So all is good. (Although if they hadn't followed the pilot's instructions to buckle up there probably would have been at least some minor injuries.)

But it was definately an adventure... for 3 minutes.

Now all I have to deal with is the fact that in the time I have been writing this post my flight home has changed gates and been delayed another 20 minutes or so. So I need to finish up and move to the new gate... even though I've still got over two hours until the flight is now scheduled to leave. Bleh!

Abulsme - Sun, 6 May 2007, 18:23:45 PDT
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Thu 03 May 2007

At Mom's

Just arrived at my mom's house in Ohio an hour or so ago. I arrived in Ohio several hours earlier, but we spent the morning visiting places various ancestors lived or were buried and such as part of my Genealogy Research. There are a whole raft of ancestors from the Brandon side that lived in Darke County, Ohio for a bunch of generations.

But now I am at my mom's house. I helped my mom walk Sara briefly today. She is six now. I hadn't seen her since she was 2 or some such. Wow. I think she remembered me though. She made SURE that I was going to walk with her and not go right back into the house.

But I took the red eye from Seattle, so I got almost no sleep. So I am going to sleep now. I'll be here for the next few days. I'll be seeing Chad while I'm here too since he and my mom live like 5 miles apart or some such now. I brought a camera, but not a cord or memory card reader, so I may or may not be able to post any pics before I go home. Or maybe I'll get a cheap memory card reader. They are very cheap these days. Anyway, we shall see.

For now though... nap time.

Abulsme - Thu, 3 May 2007, 11:29:03 PDT
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Tue 01 May 2007

Routing Around Damage

Was was that old saw about the Internet considering censorship as damage and routing around it?

Someone at a forum somewhere posted the 16 digit hex key which can be used (along with appropriate other knowledge) to break the DRM protections on HD-DVDs. People of course started linking to this.

The industry association responsible for the DRM started sending out cease and desist notices not to where the "bad" information actually was (although they may also have done that) but to all sorts of sites that linked to it. This included Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing. And that started to get some attention, and so people started mirroring the information all over the place, and other people set of lists of links to the places that are mirroring it, etc.

One (or more) of those lists of mirrors got a lot of Diggs at Digg. Then, presumably afraid of take down notices, Digg moderators started removing the posts that linked to or contained that information.


As of now (4:52 UTC on the 2nd) absolutely every story on the main page of Digg links to or contains in its descriptions or comments (or all of the above) the critical hex key. And more are being created by the minute.

And of course many many people are putting the key on their websites, in their email signatures, in their forum posting signatures... others are selling T-shirts and mugs and such with the key on it... etc, etc, etc.

The number of people who would have known or cared about this silly little piece of information was miniscule before the cease and desist notices started going out. Now, while the number of people who will actually DO ANYTHING with this little key is still small, the information itself has spread so widely and is now in so many places (and spreading by the minute) that it will be one of those memes that lives on the internet long past when it is actually useful for anything at all.

If there is some piece of information that people want, once it is out there is no longer any way to put things like this back in the bottle. And even with a piece of information that was only of interest to a very small set of people... once you start trying to quash it and hide it away... boom... you just made it interesting, and only succeeded in making sure more people see it and are aware of it than ever could have been possible otherwise.

Oh well. Too bad for the HD-DVD people.

Oh, and Digg must be hurting a bit right now too. Their site has been just completely trashed by this. Recommendation... just ignore it and it will die down in a day or two... if the mods start going on a delete fest again now, it will just get worse.

Slashdot has a story about this now too: Attempts To Suppress HD-DVD Revolt

"An astonishing number of stories related to HD-DVD encryption keys have gone missing in action from, in many cases along with the account of the diggers who submitted them. Diggers are in open revolt against the moderators and are retaliating in clever and inventive ways. At one point, the entire front page comprised only stories that in one way or another were related to the hex number. Digg users quickly pointed to the HD DVD sponsorship of Diggnation, the Digg podcast show. Search digg for HD-DVD song lyrics, coffee mugs, shirts, and more for a small taste of the rebellion."

Search Google for a broader picture; at this writing, about 283,000 pages contain the number with hyphens, and just under 10,000 without hyphens. There's a song. Several domain names including variations of the number have been reserved.

Abulsme - Tue, 1 May 2007, 21:42:11 PDT
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Many K's

Yesterday I noticed that the Sitemeter counter on this site went over 100,000. Woo! Of course, I never did finish adding the counter to all the old pages on the site, and of course this site existed for many years before I added the counter... I added the counter about the same time I converted the front page into a blog. But hey, it is a number.

I shall take this opportunity to list what right now Sitemeter thinks are the top 10 search queries people find my site with:

#1) Nice Cleavage
#2) Stanley McChrystal
#3) Creepy Classics
#4) Binary Time
#5) Monster Bash
#6) Sad Panda
#7) Sad Pand
#8) Crowduck Lake
#9) Content Management Resume
#10) Sam Minter

Well, OK, a couple are amusing, but most are just normal.

Other interesting ones from further down the list:

* Chocula
* Southern Girls
* Pictures of Spaghetti
* Nuclear Bombs
* Lotsofmud
* Chicken Suit
* Vampire Sex
* Kinds of Skinks
* Average Wake Up Time
* Algae Eatin
* Wizard of Oz Sex Romp
* What to do when Garmin suction cup mount no longer sucks
* The Moo
* Stop No Please
* Rubber Duck Unintentional Experiment

OK, that's enough for today.

Abulsme - Tue, 1 May 2007, 09:32:31 PDT
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