Archives: December 2008

Wed 31 Dec 2008

Beaker Joy!

(via Neatorama)

Abulsme - Wed, 31 Dec 2008, 10:38:33 PST
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Tue 30 Dec 2008

Rodent on Keys

(via Huffington Post)

Yeah, yeah, you've all seen it before, it is old, blah, blah, blah.

Abulsme - Tue, 30 Dec 2008, 23:43:15 PST
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Mon 29 Dec 2008

Podcast Now Fixed

I corrected the error (my audio accidentally got offset by 12 seconds from Ivan's for the first 15 minutes, which made it kind of unlistenable) and pushed out the corrected version. For any of you who have not yet downloaded it... just do your normal thing and all should be well, let me know if it is not.

For what I believe are the two people who already downloaded it other than me...

I tried to do it in such a way that iTunes will actually detect the change and download the new version, but iTunes is sometimes finicky. If you have the broken version... which I believe only three people do, including myself, and iTunes doesn't get the new version for you on its own then you can try going to your podcast section in iTunes, right click on Curmudgeon's Corner and choose "Update Podcast". If that fails, you can always click through directly to the XML file to find the new file, or for that matter, here is a link directly to the corrected mp3 file.

I'm letting my iTunes just sit to see if iTunes does end up actually grabbing the new one on its own. The only other time I had to do an after the fact fix it did not, but I'm trying something different this time.

Do let me know what works or does not work in terms of forcing iTunes to pick up the new one.

If you are one of those two people that is. (One of whom is the person who pointed out the problem to me... thanks Chris... and the other of whom is somebody who looking at the IP and the traceroute I don't have a guess as to who they are.)

Anyway... all is well now. :-)

And it is time for me to run to work.

Abulsme - Mon, 29 Dec 2008, 10:34:58 PST
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Podcast Fix Coming

Looks like something got horked on the first section(s) of the podcast this week after my original editing. It will be fixed in a few minutes. If you haven't downloaded yet, hold off a bit. If you have, wait until I post again that all is fixed then force a redownload.

Abulsme - Mon, 29 Dec 2008, 09:42:56 PST
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Sun 28 Dec 2008

Curmudgeon's Corner: There Goes The Year

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Post Election Malaise
  • Year in Review
  • Gaza and Israel
  • Auto Bailout
  • Retail Fail
  • Last Year's Predictions
  • Madoff Reactions
  • 2009 Predictions
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Abulsme - Sun, 28 Dec 2008, 23:48:19 PST
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First Hundred Days

(from Good Magazine via Matthew Yglesias)

I've been meaning to post this for awhile, but never got around to it. Click through on the image above to see it at a readable size. It is a rundown of the events that occurred in the first 100 days of each Presidency since FDR.

Some abbreviated highlights:

  • FDR: Emergency banking and stimulus legislation
  • Truman: VE Day ends the European part of WWII, Signs the UN Charter
  • Eisenhower: Not much
  • JFK: Starts the Peace Corp, Bay of Pigs Invasion
  • Johnson: Not much
  • Nixon: Starts secretly bombing Cambodia
  • Ford: Pardons Nixon
  • Carter: Not Much
  • Reagan: Gets shot
  • GHW Bush: Not much
  • Clinton: Kills a bunch of Branch Davidians at Waco
  • GW Bush: Not much
Looks like "not much" is a decent possibility. We'll see how Obama does.

Abulsme - Sun, 28 Dec 2008, 23:11:46 PST
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I Shall Be Mr. Sneeze

That is what Brandy says I should be as I roam the streets sneezing on evildoers. Suggestions for my costume are welcome.

Amateur crimefighters are surging in the US
(John Harlow, Times Online, 28 Dec 2008)

There are, according to the recently launched World Superhero Registry, more than 200 men and a few women who are willing to dress up as comic book heroes and patrol the urban streets in search of, if not super-villains, then pickpockets and bullies.

They may look wacky, but the superhero community was born in the embers of the 9/11 terrorist attacks when ordinary people wanted to do something short of enlisting. They were boosted by a glut of Hollywood superhero movies.

In recent weeks, prompted by heady buzz words such as “active citizenry” during the Barack Obama campaign, the pace of enrolment has speeded up. Up to 20 new “Reals”, as they call themselves, have materialised in the past month.

The Real rules are simple. They must stand for unambiguous and unsponsored good. They must create their own Spandex and rubber costumes without infringing Marvel or DC Comics copyrights, but match them with exotic names – Green Scorpion in Arizona, Terrifica in New York, Mr Xtreme in San Diego and Mr Silent in Indianapolis.

They must shun guns or knives to avoid being arrested as vigilantes, even if their nemeses may be armed. Their best weapon is not muscle but the internet – an essential tool in their war on crime is a homepage stating the message of doom for super-villains.
(via Fark)

Abulsme - Sun, 28 Dec 2008, 22:50:02 PST
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November 2004 Top Ten!

It has once again been a long time since I did one of these, so for background anybody new can check out the post I did last time. In any case, yesterday I finally put out the results of another Email Top Ten and notified the winners. Today I post on the blog. Click through on the link below for full results:

November 2004

When I put out the October 2004 list back in March of 2007, I said that I would try to catch up by counting subsequent months at a rate of at least one month a month... well, given that it is now 21 months later, and I am only now putting out the results for November 2004, I obviously failed utterly at that. I have no real excuse either, as October 2004 was the last month effected directly by the great email disaster of 2004. November 2004 was intact and easily counted by the normal means... as are all months since then.

The timeliness and relevance of this exercise is now more than questionable, and the original purpose of the top ten... namely as a mechanism to encourage friends to keep in touch by sending email, has been eroded quite a bit by the fact that these updates are now more than four years behind real time. But never the less, being stubborn as I am, I will persist. And once again I will say that I will attempt to do these counts at a pace fast enough to eventually catch up with real time. But sometimes life gets in the way.
As I said, I will try not to wait quite as long before doing the next one. I have to do more than one a month in order to eventually catch up.

Abulsme - Sun, 28 Dec 2008, 22:27:26 PST
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Sat 27 Dec 2008

DVD: Amadeus

Time for another movie. This time it was my turn. And specifically, it was time for another from the AFI 100 Years... 100 Movies list. Having started at #100 almost a decade ago, I'm now at #53, Amadeus. It was long... on a double sided DVD that you actually had to flip over... so we split it over two nights of viewing.

Anyway, I think I had seen parts of it on TV over the years, but am not sure that I ever saw the whole thing straight through. If I had, I did not remember.

The movie of course won all kinds of awards after it came out in 1984. Sometimes that sort of thing holds up, sometimes it does not. In any case, I liked the movie. I'm always a sucker for period pieces and character stuff, and this was pretty much 100% that sort of thing. No chases and such, just period costumes, psychological drama, and lots of Mozart music as you track Mozart's life and interaction with Salieri. It is the kind of thing that after you are done compels you to go read a whole bunch of Wikipedia pages to learn more about the actual people and events as compared to the fictionalized version. Well, OK, at least it compelled me to do so. I probably spent a couple hours starting at the Mozart and Salieri pages and branching out from there to a variety of related people and topics.

Amy did not watch this movie with me, but Brandy did. She had watched it when it first came out, but not since. She said she had remembered she liked it, but was less impressed this time around. And particularly, she was annoyed by the character of Mozart's wife. Personally, I liked the wife. OK, she was a bit whiny at times, and did not seem particularly bright. But she was cute. :-)

Anyway, for those who haven't seen it in awhile, and who like this kind of movie, it is worth the rental.

Abulsme - Sat, 27 Dec 2008, 17:34:33 PST
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Thu 25 Dec 2008

A Change on the S&P

I have heard through the grapevine, although I have not confirmed for myself, that my old employer, Merrill Lynch, which will soon cease to exist as an independent entity, is being replaced on the S&P 100 by my current employer. Seems somewhat appropriate. At least for me.

Abulsme - Thu, 25 Dec 2008, 15:48:53 PST
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Late Stuff

OK, out of the things I ordered that were supposed to be here the 24th at the latest there are still three presents for Brandy, 2 presents for Amy, 1 present for Roscoe and one non-present package for Brandy that are not here. Almost every single one of the above is sitting at the local distribution centers for the various shipping companies and have been for several days. They just haven't delivered because of the White Christmas thing that is going on here. Grrrr....

Brandy says a number of things she was expecting have not yet arrived either.

Oh well, just means Christmas lasts longer I guess.

It is *still* snowing, so I'm not holding out hope for these things arriving Friday.

Maybe Monday.

Abulsme - Thu, 25 Dec 2008, 13:49:40 PST
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Merry Giant Tomato Day!

Abulsme - Thu, 25 Dec 2008, 13:43:59 PST
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Wed 24 Dec 2008

Diary of Hiram Harvey Hurlburt Jr: Chapter 10

I think I was eleven years old when my father allowed me to take his smooth-bore rifle gun to hunt with. It was made for him by a gunsmith named Ira Call at Woodstock, VT. Ira Call a brother of Joe Call the strong man, who could take a crowbar across his knee and break it. Said to have taken two ordinary sized men that were quarreling one with each hand raise them from the ground, and rap their heads together. I had his son to work for me in putting up a frame barn, but he broke and bent so my crowbars that after two weeks I dismissed him.

When my father went to get the finished article, Call took it out to try its quality of bringing down the game - and he took the swallows flying to do it, which he accomplished twice in succession. That fixed the credit of that piece of work. It was used for training having a bayonet fitted for that purpose, with cartridge hot, canteen all the requirements of militia training.

There was a boy about my age, Clark Stowe, his father David Stow permitted him to come to my house, and then each of us with loaded arms went to find game. We were generally successful in finding a partridge or pigeons in the summer time but when we made a successful shot we generally returned to show our skill. How careful we were of our ammunition - so very careful not to throw away a shot.

About this time there was great amusement and real live excitement that came to us boys. It was the general muster of militia. One company from Cornwall had uniforms, red coats and white pants, they were to represent the British another company from Bridport with blue coats, they represented the Americans. Then a company called the Floodwood company, there were several companies. Also a tribe of Indians were represented. Orange Brittell was the chief. Some of the companies followed the Indians down by our house to the creek where the road ended to take the Indians, but they were prepared to escape, as they had their canoes ready under the bushes, in which they jumped in and paddled away. The skulking along behind the houses, as the troops followed down the road was wonderfully exciting, and the way Brittell got away with his tribe was not to be beat. It made quite a talk for a time when the people were together at the store or mill. Brittell was dressed like an Indian chief, and Col. Sardis Dodge, said to my father he did his best to capture him; and the Col. got so excited talking about this sham fight. That he said to father, "He wished the whole thing has been real."

These June trainings and musters of sixty five years ago were great days for us boys. They were anticipated before occurring with great anxiety and their memory afterwards were treasured for a long time.

I recollect father came home from a muster in Cornwall, VT and reported of two captains come into collision about electing officers, and they went at each other with swords, and they fought very skillfully, both excellent swordsman, and the quarrel was ended by one cutting the others sword in two, and no blood spilt. Still each did their best to make serious work.

It was a little later that we Weybridge boys walked quite a ways toward Vergennes in 1840 to meet the Convention for Tippacanoe on its route to Middlebury. It had a long procession with a log cabin on wheels with hard cider. There was a great excitement at Quaker Village. A family closed in with them in the procession by the name of Hardy Walker with his wife and two daughters, Josephine and Seraphine, the youngest Seraphine was entrancing in her beauty at quite a distance, on nearer view the spell was broken. Their carriage was covered, of ancient make, like the drawings of long ago and on each side in large letters was the name "New York". After all my boyish inquiries I could never ascertain the facts; only it was supposed Walker purchased in New Your City and the name had never been changed.

(The full diary will be located here when complete.)

Abulsme - Wed, 24 Dec 2008, 15:47:53 PST
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And Still It Snows

It was supposed to change to rain at some point today. It didn't. At least not here. It is still snowing big white fluffy flakes.

Meanwhile, a bunch of packages, from more than one vendor, that were all supposed to be here today at the latest, are still not here. Most of them appear to be within 10 miles of here in the hands of the delivery companies. But they are not here.

Some of them even say things like "delayed due to natural disaster" on the tracking information.

Whatever, just bring the damn presents.

Abulsme - Wed, 24 Dec 2008, 15:27:32 PST
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Still Snowing

Abulsme - Wed, 24 Dec 2008, 10:51:21 PST
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Sun 21 Dec 2008

Storm Effects

Well, it looks like the storm knocked out our DirecTV. Probably just enough accumulation of ice and snow on the dish to block the signal rather than the dish actally being knocked out of whack. We'll see if it comes back on its own when things start melting, or if someone has to get on the roof to fix it. (Brandy says I am not allowed to be the one to go on the roof, something about falling.)

Also, just checked my work email and got word that they are saying to only come in if you absolutely have to and can do so safely. So I'll be working from home yet again today. Given that the current forecast only shows a one day break or so before it starts getting snowy again (with a nice dash of freezing rain!) I wonder if we'll even manage to squeeze in a normal work day this week at all.

I like the working from home thing in moderation, but I think I'm almost ready to be back in the office now. :-)

Abulsme - Sun, 21 Dec 2008, 23:43:00 PST
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Curmudgeon's Corner: The Chore of Playing

Sam talks about:

  • Snow
  • WFH
  • Holidays
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Abulsme - Sun, 21 Dec 2008, 22:31:19 PST
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Ice Spear

Abulsme - Sun, 21 Dec 2008, 21:08:02 PST
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Diary of Hiram Harvey Hurlburt Jr: Chapter 9

I could not have been more than seven years old when I went up to the four corners to school and there lost my heart for the time being to a lovely ??ce. What put me in the greatest agony was, my fear somebody would discover the predicament I was in. In the spelling class I was proficient at that age and a girl whose name was Minerva Ayres was a match to me in spelling; but I just worshiped her. I had my aunt who went to the same school for my caretaker and I suffered intensely for fear she would discover it. I think Minerva might have been at my age. She was small, slim, lady like very gentle and studious, and when she missed a word in spelling, if it had not been for my horror of telling lies I should have purposely misspelled so as not to pass above her; I had just committed the act when I noticed I was trembling with excitement. Then I noticed Minerva was trembling too. This surprised me, and when I reached home my aunt told my mother about the excitement in my spelling class; That Hiram and Minerva Ayres were all in a tremble when the class was through spelling. I can remember now the hot blood sprang to my cheeks when my mother said, We will have Hiram spell his lesson this evening in preparation for tomorrow. I worshiped this Minerva all through the season, or until a girl about the same age, only more tiny in appearance and a bird like voice, name of Brittell. She had come for a bit to her father's old home in Weybridge and she took to me at once, coming and taking my hand leading me a little separate by ourselves, while she told me of her folks out West, of finding a raccoon nest of a number of little ones, and her father brought them home for his daughters as pets. She made this description very fascinating to me, so much so that my heart began to enlarge, and I felt more at ease when near Miss Minerva. And I recollect that the trembling some how cease, and I could begin to look at this love episode as something that could be endured, but the pleasurable feeling was there - and if I kept patiently waiting I would find the one designed for me at last.

As Dante says: "Wherefore we see children desire exceedingly an apple and then proceeding further desire a bird; and further still a beautiful dress; and then a horse, and then a woman, and then riches not great, and then greater and then great as can be. And this happens because in none of them does she find that which she is seeking, and she trusts to find further on."

About three years more of living made me 10 years, then I could go to spelling schools in the evening, and then go home with a girl! This brought happiness to a high pitch, rather doubtful if so much could be endured.

There was a little girl came out to her grandfather's nearest neighbor to stay awhile. Her grandfather was a wheelwright, and he made his grandchild a set of

[full line of text missing]

cake, she invited me to come through the fence - the boards of which were placed far enough apart for me to crawl through. It was a case of love again, and under her directions of which she seemed perfectly aware, and used her authority accordingly. I must sit in such a place, and must answer all questions, and particularly to leave when she gave timely notice, as my behavior was such, that I recollect my short visits at first grew to be longer ones, and when she went back to her home, the pleasantness of the summer days ceased to exist for me. All these heart troubles I had bury in my own bosom, no one that I could say one word to.

There were two dark eyed girls just across the street that now took my attention, and we had a play house in which I did my best to make it pleasant, but some the feeling was not broken I had for the girl that came so seldom to her grandfather "Silas Herendeen"'s.

(The full diary will be located here when complete.)

Abulsme - Sun, 21 Dec 2008, 18:21:25 PST
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Wind Fizzle

We didn't end up getting any significant wind. No power loss. No trees smashing the roof open. Nothing exciting. We did get a couple more inches of snow, and indeed it is still snowing. Nothing disastrous though.

Of course, everything is still completely shut down and paralyzed. Our street has yet to see anything resembling a plow or a salt truck, even though the first snow was a week ago now. Basically they are taking care of the highways and other major streets, but residential streets probably just have to wait for things to melt on their own.

Abulsme - Sun, 21 Dec 2008, 11:33:48 PST
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Sat 20 Dec 2008

Storm a Comin'

We're supposed to get another storm tonight. For our particular area the last forecast I saw said that most of the snow will be a little east or a little west of us, but we are supposed to get a LOT of wind. Sustained Tropical Storm force winds, gusts of Hurricane force winds. Trees are expected to fall. Power outages are expected all over the place. The wind hasn't really started yet, but is due soon. We shall see how that goes.

We stocked up on a few basic supplies yesterday just in case.

Abulsme - Sat, 20 Dec 2008, 17:45:43 PST
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A Visit from Hoshi

So, as seems to happen a few times a year, Brandy and I were driving down the street and saw a loose dog running around and playing in traffic. This time in the snow with the cars all around barely able to control themselves properly, not being all that used to snow in this part of the country. We pulled over. After maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and with the help of another passer by who happened to have meat in her bag, we caught the dog. The tag said he was "Hoshi" and had a phone number, but the phone number only yielded voice mail. The woman with the meat pointed out a house she thought the dog MIGHT be from, but there was nobody home. So after leaving a voicemail, we took Hoshi home for a bit to be warm and safe. Even thought we kept them on separate floors, Roscoe was NOT happy with this development.

Hoshi was a pretty good dog. Very friendly. Spent some time with Brandy and Amy while I tried (and mostly failed) to keep Roscoe from freaking out too much that there was another dog in his house.

After about an hour, we got a call from Hoshi's owner. They were mortified that Hoshi had gotten out. They were at the mall doing Christmas shopping. Hoshi had apparently let himself out.

Because of the bad weather, it took them more than another hour to get back, but as of a few minutes ago, Hoshi went home with his parents and is safe and happy.

Abulsme - Sat, 20 Dec 2008, 17:33:59 PST
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Fri 19 Dec 2008

Lizard People. Flying Spaghetti Monster, and Frankenstein

(via Wonkette)

Abulsme - Fri, 19 Dec 2008, 08:50:58 PST
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Thu 18 Dec 2008


Ever since Friday, they have been predicting snow, then canceling it, then predicting snow, then canceling it. Places all around here got snow, but aside from a little bit over the weekend we didn't get much. Until last night. We finally got the predicted snow. Only a few inches mind you, but for this area that is enough to pretty much shut everything down. So, snow day. Working from home on a few things, but also just taking it slow.

Abulsme - Thu, 18 Dec 2008, 11:31:15 PST
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Cinema: The Day the Earth Stood Still

Once again another movie. This was the 9th of 2008. We only saw 5 in all of 2007. And to be clear, this was the 2008 version, not the 1951 version. It was a Brandy pick. She really wanted to see it. I'm know I've seen parts of that original, and quite possibly have seen the whole thing, but if I have, it is so long ago I have no active memories of to compare it to, other than perhaps some of the iconic images from that film. So I guess I won't try to compare.

Bottom line, I liked it. This really isn't your action movie chase kind of thing, although it has a tiny bit of that. It is more the hang out with the inscrutable alien type. Keanu plays said alien, and does an OK job of being unemotive most of the time. There was a kid too. I mostly could have done without the kid. He wasn't really bad, but I'm not sure he added a whole lot other than as a plot device to help the alien learn about how humans care about each other.


Anyway, it was a fun movie. I enjoyed it. Worth seeing.

And I've added the original to my Netflix queue.

Abulsme - Thu, 18 Dec 2008, 10:58:18 PST
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Wed 17 Dec 2008

Curmudgeon's Corner: Swindle and Fraud

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Bush Shoes
  • Witness Ivan
  • Spots Wanted
  • Madoff and Company
  • The Two 'Flations
  • Blago
  • The Corruption Line
  • CNN Sucks (Again)
  • Summer Whitehouses
  • Biden's Role
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Abulsme - Wed, 17 Dec 2008, 11:53:57 PST
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Kindle Ratio for 17 Dec 2008 - 35%

I've decided that while I am very tempted by the Kindle, and Brandy loves hers and swears by it now, that I do not want one quite yet. But I have determined what my threshold will be, and when I will want one (and most likely get one soon thereafter). After I finish each book, I'll look at the last 20 books I have read and if more than 50% of them are available on Kindle, then I'll officially start wanting one. This will be affected by two things of course, if new books I read are available on Kindle, and if the earlier books that were not available on Kindle originally have become available.

At the moment, 7 of the last 20 books I have read are available on Kindle, making for a Kindle ratio of 35%. We're not quite there yet.

Once we are though, I'll jump all over that. And I imagine after that point, reading an old fashioned physical book would immediately become a rarity, to be done only when there is something I either must read, or really really want to for some random reason, that is not available on Kindle. But I know now, that once I'm mostly on Kindle, I'll be pissed off every time there is a book I want to read that is not on Kindle.

Abulsme - Wed, 17 Dec 2008, 10:18:39 PST
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Book: Java: The Complete Reference, Seventh Edition

Author: Herbert Schildt
Started: 24 Feb 2008
Finished: 30 Nov 2008
1024 p / 281 d
4 p/d

So, this was one of these "I really should read this to improve my knowledge of things relevant to my job" books. I must say, I did an awful job of it. At least in terms of keeping up a decent speed going through the book. Rounded to the nearest whole number, I averaged 4 pages a day. (Really, it was more like 3.6 pages a day.) Sad. It is somewhat typical for when I read books of this type, but of course if I really prioritized it, I would spend more time. The pattern here was to read a few sections one day, then put the book down and not pick it up again for a month. And of course, the way I manage my reading, that blocked any other book reading in the meantime.

I wish I could use the excuse that it was slower because, I didn't just read, but instead I went through all the examples, tried them on my own computer, made sure I understood exactly what each line of code was doing and why, and that I internalized the syntax and such. I did do that for the first chapter or two... basically the "Hello World" sort of stuff, but after that I rapidly transitioned into a mode of reading for the concepts and for getting a general sense of things rather than the mode I would have needed to be in to finish the book being able to actually sit down at a computer and do much with it.

Having said that, I did manage to get the general overview. It did give me a bit more depth than I had, although probably not as much as I would like. I still have on the agenda for 2009 to actually try to DO some simple Java stuff, going back and using this as a reference guide rather than an overview.

In terms of the book itself, I guess it was a fine overview, organized in such a way as to start with the simple stuff and build up, rather than just as a true "reference". So it was good for starting from scratch and getting the basics. If there is one thing I would have liked, it would be examples that were more grounded in some sort of real activity... perhaps linking all the various examples to build a toy application of some sort, showing how all the bits could fit together. As it was, many of the examples were things like kicking off two threads and having them count independently, or having a method print its own name, or having a button that when clicked would print a message saying "Button was clicked" or whatnot. Those are fine I guess, but I tend to like examples that seem like they have a point of some sort. They are easier to engage with.

It was obviously not a big page turner though. I can't say that each evening I'd find myself so drawn to see what was in the next chapter than I'd grab the book and read for hours. Just not that kind of book I guess. At least not for me. :-)

Abulsme - Wed, 17 Dec 2008, 09:14:09 PST
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Tue 16 Dec 2008

Staying Faithful

Damn it. Unlike the last two elections, there appear to not have been any faithless electors at all in the Presidential Election (the real one) that happened yesterday.

It's official: Barack Obama elected 44th president
(AP on Yahoo, 15 Dec 2008)

Monday's voting was largely ceremonial, the results preordained by Obama's Nov. 4 victory over Republican Sen. John McCain. Obama won 365 electoral votes, to 173 for McCain. With every state reporting, all the electors had cast ballots in accordance with the popular votes in their states.
(via MyDD)

Of course the headline isn't actually correct. It will not be official until the results are reported to congress and certified by congress in January.

I continue to hold out hope that one election, the right series of events will occur such that the electoral college will actually be able to act as a proper deliberative body, with each member of the college making an independent decision on who to vote for, rather than feeling bound by the results of the general election where THEY were elected, not a President. I also want to see electors running on their own merits and under their own name rather than by being pledged to some candidate or another.

Somehow, I don't think I'll ever see that, but I can still hope.

Abulsme - Tue, 16 Dec 2008, 08:48:48 PST
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Sat 13 Dec 2008

Refusing to be Cancelled, the Fluffies Arrive

Abulsme - Sat, 13 Dec 2008, 22:10:09 PST
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Thu 11 Dec 2008

Maybe Fluffies?

Our house is JUST below the 400' contour line. Probably at around 390'.

City of Bellevue prepares for snowy weekend
(Joshua Hicks, Bellevue Reporter, 10 Dec 2008)

Weather forecasters this week predicted snowfall in Bellevue for Friday and Saturday.

Icy roads are also likely throughout the weekend as rain and melted snow could freeze when temperatures dip into the 20s, as expected on Saturday and Sunday night.

City utilities crews say they are be prepared to work around the clock if necessary to clear roads.

Snow is most common in Bellevue south of I-90, where elevations reach as high as 1,500 feet in some parts. Most neighborhoods in the city are below 500 feet.

Forecasters projected snowfall on Friday night at 400 feet, with an 80- to 90-percent chance of precipitation.
This will be the first time this season. Woo!

Abulsme - Thu, 11 Dec 2008, 09:14:46 PST
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Wed 10 Dec 2008


(via The Daily Dish)

Abulsme - Wed, 10 Dec 2008, 20:43:38 PST
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Curmudgeon's Corner: As They Riot, They Sing

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Detroit Bailouts
  • Financial Bailouts
  • Official Recession
  • Obama's Blackberry
  • Stimulus
  • Minnesota
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Abulsme - Wed, 10 Dec 2008, 15:30:13 PST
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Tue 09 Dec 2008

Delayed Curmudgeon

We didn't record the podcast until Monday (UTC) this week. I didn't get a chance to edit it and put it out last night. I was going to do it this morning before work. But of course I've been paying attention to this Blagojevich stuff instead. So... I think it probably won't be out until tomorrow. Apologies to anybody who is anxiously awaiting it. :-)

Abulsme - Tue, 9 Dec 2008, 09:26:37 PST
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Who is Senate Candidate 1?

This is pretty funny...

ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to "suck it up" for two years and do nothing and give this "motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him." ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put "[Senate Candidate 4]" in the Senate "before I just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don’t get anything."


Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but "they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them."
I just finished reading the whole thing. Reading between the lines, it sounds like Blogojevich viewed "Senate Candidate 1" as Obama's desired replacement for himself, and kept trying to suggest "deals" in exchange for that, but the transition staff essentially offered "only their appreciation" and was not responsive to any of the overtures. So Blagojevich and company started getting more and more upset, and throwing out other candidates they would appoint instead to piss off Obama... and of course also evaluating each of those alternate candidates by how much personal benefit they could bring to the Blagojevich family... and meanwhile still trying to construct deals on Senate Candidate 1 that would be less obvious andless directly traceable back to Obama. And of course plans to appoint himself to the seat if none of that worked out.

At least that is what it looks like. The Complaint says that what is included is only a small subset of what was recorded, and what is included does not seem to include any conversations with the transition team, only with Blagojevich and his advisors discussion options and what they wanted in exchange for what. So there might still be more not public.

But at least initially, it seems like the Obama team was doing the right thing and basically ignoring this asshole.

Anyway, the press conference on this is about to start...

[Edited 17:21 UTC to add the second quote]

Abulsme - Tue, 9 Dec 2008, 08:38:56 PST
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From the actual complaint (pdf):

Defendants ROD BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, together with
others, attempted to use ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s authority to appoint a United States Senator
for the purpose of obtaining personal benefits for ROD BLAGOJEVICH, including, among
other things, appointment as Secretary of Health & Human Services in the President-elect’s
(via The Corner)

Most of the coverage I've seen so far has concentrated on the "selling the seat" bit, suggesting he would give the spot to someone who "contributed" the most or some such. But there also seems to be a bit here with him looking for favors or appointments from Obama. We'll see soon here who, if anybody, within the Obama transition is caught on tape here too and what they said.

This could get interesting...

The complaint is 76 pages long. I'd better get reading... well, perhaps skimming.

Abulsme - Tue, 9 Dec 2008, 08:05:11 PST
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Ain't Illinois Grand?

What wonderful fun news to wake up to. The Governor of Illinois arrested for essentially trying to sell Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder. Ha! Wonderful.

Abulsme - Tue, 9 Dec 2008, 07:49:14 PST
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Thu 04 Dec 2008

Answer to the Question

The logistics thing I asked the other day that is.

I did have a bunch of references I found, but I won't properly footnote this, just give the results. It just took 15 or 20 minutes of Googling that I didn't have time for when I posted the original question.

The way it usually works in presidential transitions is this:

  1. The president-elect announces his intention to nominate various people to the cabinet once he is inaugurated.
  2. The new senate is sworn in early in January.
  3. The appropriate committees of the new senate hold hearings on the prospective nominees, even though there are no actual nominees yet, just intended nominees.
  4. The committees vote on the prospective nominees to give their recommendations to the full Senate.
  5. The President is inaugurated.
  6. Usually within the first hour or two of the presidency, the new president officially makes the nominations.
  7. The Senate convenes for a special session, usually once again just an hour or two later, for the final vote on the nominees... often a single voice vote to approve all nominees at once rather than full individual votes on each nominee.
  8. The new cabinet officers are sworn in, usually also within an hour or two.
And that be that. Pretty much what I expected. I find it an interesting cart before the horse thing to hold the confirmation hearings before the actual formal nomination, but given the practical consideration of needing to let the new cabinet be seated as quickly as possible after the new administration begins, it makes sense. But it is still odd.

There are even more odd things that can happen in edge conditions during the transitional period. For instance, the line of succession gets somewhat odd if "bad things" happen during the time period where parts of the new administration has taken office, but not all of it, because while it is traditional for the previous cabinet to resign and be replaced by the new cabinet, the actual timing of such resignations can vary. Do folks resign effective at noon on Inauguration day? Effective at the moment the new President is sworn in? Effective when their successor is sworn in? Depending on exactly how that is done, during Inauguration day itself, there can be times where the line of succession still includes members of the old administration as well as the new. (There is also oddness due to the fact that the Vice President is sworn in first in the case something happens to the outgoing president after the new VP is sworn in but before the new President is.)

Now, if anything happened that actually caused any of the above to matter, I'm guessing there would be much confusion, but the end result would very quickly be made to match what you would expect to have happened if the new administration had already fully taken their place... and the detailed timelines of when various things are supposed to happen would be ignored, but...

Abulsme - Thu, 4 Dec 2008, 23:59:28 PST
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Wed 03 Dec 2008

Office Tree

Abulsme - Wed, 3 Dec 2008, 20:34:16 PST
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Logistics Question

Obama can't actually appoint people to positions right now because he isn't President yet, right? He is essentially announcing his intention to do so and then presumably on the afternoon of inauguration day he would sign a whole bunch of papers officially doing the nominating, right?

But I've also heard there will be confirmation hearings and such prior to January 20th. Not sure about the actual final votes on the nominations. How does that officially work if Obama does not yet actually have the power to nominate people to positions and won't until he is inaugurated?

I realize that practically it needs to be arranged in such a way that the new cabinet can start working as soon as the new administration takes office.

But does anybody know the technicalities of exactly how they work this?

Abulsme - Wed, 3 Dec 2008, 08:48:12 PST
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Yes Sam Can

(Using Obamafy found via Andrew Sullivan)

Abulsme - Wed, 3 Dec 2008, 00:06:53 PST
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Tue 02 Dec 2008

Saxby Wins - Good

So, as expected, Chambliss wins the Senate in Georgia. This is very good news. It means no matter what happens in Minnesota, the Democrats will NOT get 60 votes in the Senate, and therefore will still be subject to Republican filibusters. For the Democrats to pass anything, they will always need to convince at least one Republican that it is a good idea. Now, would it be better if they needed to convince MORE Republicans than one? Yes. But at least this is something.

I of course supported Obama for President, but the worst possible outcome would be for one party to have the unfettered ability to implement its agenda without requiring at least SOME deference to the opinions and ideas of the "other side".

As I've stated before a number of times, my preferred combination would actually be a Democratic President with a fully Republican Congress. At least in my recent memory that combination has tended to yield the results I like the best.

Basically, I want a situation where it is hard to get things done, and you NEED some level of bipartisan support and a good degree of compromise. Of course, even in those situations I tend to actually be MOST scared of some of the things that get through with near unanimous support. Whenever that happens, you KNOW something is wrong and it would be better if it wasn't happening.

Anyway... one senator will probably not be all that hard to find most of the time... So this probably isn't TOO large of a brake on things... but it is something.

We'll see how it works out.

But I'm glad the Dems won't have 60.

Abulsme - Tue, 2 Dec 2008, 20:26:50 PST
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Mon 01 Dec 2008

The First

I always make sure to never buy ANY Christmas presents before December. It is now December 1st. A few seconds ago I made my first gift purchase of the season. On Amazon of course. There is no way in hell you will catch me in a physical store between now and Christmas unless I have absolutely no choice and can't find what I want online. :-)

Abulsme - Mon, 1 Dec 2008, 09:52:25 PST
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Sun 30 Nov 2008

DVD: The Gift

A little while ago we finally watched another DVD. This time it was Brandy's turn. Her movie this time around was The Gift. There have been several films by that title, so to be specific, this is the one from 2000 starring Cate Blanchett.

I had never heard of this movie. Almost immediately after it started though, I was reminded of the TV show Medium. It seemed to have a very similar vibe most of the time, although perhaps a bit darker than the TV show tends to be.

We have a psychic who sees visions about a crime and helps the local police try to solve the crime, and in the process gets all tangled up with all of the people involved. There is suspense as we try to figure out who the killer is, and as the psychic is menaced by the various suspects. Oh, and Katie Holmes gets to be topless and giggle around a bit while being killed. Fun.

Anyway, I think I liked it. It was suspenseful. It had a little mystery. (Although I guessed the killer pretty early on.) It had a few twists. It was worth the two hours and worth adding to your Netflix queue if you like this sort of movie.

And it makes me wonder when new episodes of Medium start again. :-)

Abulsme - Sun, 30 Nov 2008, 21:42:56 PST
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