March 31, 2009


Back in January 1974 I was in Hawai'i on leave from my Navy duty station in Japan at the height of the 1973-1974 Arab oil crisis. I remember spending long hours on the side of Kamehameha Highway as it went past Pearl Harbor, waiting to get on base to buy gas. Because of that experience, I'm reasonably tolerant of queueing up and waiting.

Nonetheless, standing in line today for half-an-hour at a Longs Drugs for a prescription was annoying. There were only eight people in front of me!

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March 30, 2009

Yet another virus

When one of these gets noticed by 60 Minutes you gotta figure it's pretty pervasive. It's called Conficker, and BD Tools is one of the places to go to get a removal tool.

Back up your system after running it.

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Short-sighted Senators

I really hope Jonathan Chait is wrong when he argues that Senate Democrats are incapable of getting behind President Obama's agenda due to their own parochial needs and ambitions, but I've seen so much of them that I have to believe he may be partially correct.

That would be tragic.

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March 29, 2009

Oh, thanks, Louisville

Update: Well, UNC's win means I picked one (ONE!) of the Final Four teams correctly. Sheesh. 46 correct picks out of a possible 60 (so far), and that's the result. But hey, I moved up a little; I'm now at 26th in the pool.

I dunno. It might be another 1985 for Villanova, but Carolina looked awfully good today.

The Cardinals scored 103 points on Friday blowing out Arizona, and today they could only score 52?

33rd and done in my pool.

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March 28, 2009


In an otherwise ordinary NYT profile of Peter Orszag, Obama's OMB Director, we find this startling sentence:

Each day he eats the same egg whites for breakfast and salad topped with chicken for dinner, all from the White House mess.

Really? The same egg whites? Over and over again?

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If I'd studied I'd'a done better

Man. If I'd known that Kansas only returned one player from last year's championship team, I might not have picked them to go as deep as they did before losing to Michigan State this evening. I had them going to the regional finals before losing to Louisville.

I'm now tied for 14th in the pool.

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March 27, 2009

Alas, alack

Louisville, Kansas, Oklahoma and UNC better win tonight or my bracket will be completely decimated. After yesterday's stunning losses by Memphis and Duke, I dropped from tied for 1st in my pool to 13th.

Those weren't just losses, really. Missouri and Villanova hammered their opponents; Duke wasn't in the game after halftime. Memphis gave it a good run but never got closer than 6 points even at the end of the game.

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Ripe for parody

You know the Republicans released what they laughingly called a budget alternative yesterday, right? (I say laughingly because it essentially has no numbers in it, which makes it not a budget in the world I inhabit.) At that link you will see a diagram pulled directly from the 17-page document they call a budget.

The people at Fark got wind of it, and they have had a lot of fun modifying said diagram, mostly to the detriment of its original intent. At last check there were 819 comments; maybe 10% of them were new graphs. Bookmark it and read it at home; if you try to at work it will a)take too much time and b)cause you to laugh so loudly that your co-workers (cow orkers?) will think you're endangering yourself.

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March 26, 2009

Lunch residue

Random thought while shoving lunch remains down the disposal:

Bye, bye, bye, Papaya!

-- Sung to the tune of the Tom Jones classic Delilah

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Numbers from Mars

Just heard Judd Gregg complain that the President's budget will cost a household $80K.

These kinds of numbers are meaningless. Good theater and soundbite material, but useless and pointless. I've never had a federal officer walk up to my door and present me a bill.

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March 25, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 10

Blurb: “Things begin to unravel when one of the survivors goes rogue and takes matters into their own hands — risking the lives of everyone on the island.”

Ryan's discussion.

Jon's discussion.

Mmm-okay. Having written the cast into the Grandfather paradox, how are they gonna get the cast out of it?

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Do focus on health care costs, Prez

Anybody who thinks health care costs aren't a problem has somebody else picking up the tab for their premiums. I've got an individual self-employed plan from Kaiser Permanente, and when I first got it in roughly 1999 I paid $140/month; as of this January it's $343/month. Worse, the co-pay for prescription drugs was quietly doubled two months ago, so a 90-day supply went from $30 to $60. That was a helluva surprise when I got my credit card bill (if you want mail order pills, traditionally the way to get a 50% discount from the walk-in price, you have to pay by credit card).

Other than the pills, I'm a great customer for Kaiser. I have an appointment twice a year and the doctor spends 15 minutes with me each time. I don't put much wear and tear on their facilities or his time there. That means they're relying on patients like me to cover the costs of the people who are really sick.

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March 24, 2009

Cable nets could learn something here

From the Obama press conference as live-blogged by the NYT:

[CNN's] Ed Henry follows up. Why did you wait days to express outrage [about AIG bonuses]? All the action is coming out of New York Attorney General’s office.

Ah, finally, a reply. Mr. Obama: “It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

Gosh, what a concept. Study, learn and ponder before shooting off your mouth. Hey, all of you at Fox News! Hey, Chris Matthews at MSNBC! Hey, Lou Dobbs at CNN! Didja hear that?

Video here.

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Frothing mad

Go read Hilzoy. Think about it for a few minutes (two should do). Then see if you're not ready to head for Wall Street and the wealthy Connecticut enclaves where these bastards live, carrying weapons and fire.

Essentially, they are trying to blackmail the government of the United States.

The banks' message: If you want our help to get credit flowing again to consumers and businesses, stop the rush to penalize our bonuses.

You know, I've got my share of gall, but when I've screwed something up as badly as these greed-heads have I'm usually pretty repentant; in fact, I'm inclined to say "how can I help make this right?"

Not these guys. Entitlement doesn't even come close to describing their attitudes.

Pitchforks, baby.

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March 23, 2009

Southern vamps

Any True Blood fans here? If so, you might want to read the books which are the basis for the TV show.

I haven't started on Sookie yet; I've been reading author Charlaine Harris's other series, of which there are three. Aurora Teagarden is an ex-librarian in the little town of Lawrenceton, a suburb of Atlanta. Crime seems to follow her around. These are pretty light-hearted books in the cozy tradition. I've read all but two, and those are in transit at the library.

Harper Connelly appears in three books; she's much darker than Aurora. When she was eleven she was struck by lightning; that bestowed on her the dubious ability to find dead bodies and the way each died. She's earning a living by using her talent on behalf of grieving families and law enforcement agencies. I've read all of them.

The third series features Lily Bard, who runs a single-woman cleaning business in Shakespeare, Arkansas and studies karate on the side. I've requested the first book from the library.

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Things that make me say "Hmmm"

Throwing yourself into your work is one thing, but replacing a finger with a USB drive seems a little over-the-top to me.

Via Making Light

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March 22, 2009

Dr. Freud to the courtesy phone please

I woke up with a strong memory of my final dream of the night. It was about print servers.

Now really, what on earth does that mean?

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Mixed emotions

I had Syracuse advancing, so its defeat of ASU was good for my bracket, but ASU is a traditional rival of UA and I had to root for the (Sun)Devil I know, so I'm disappointed.

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March 21, 2009

Good timing

Through Library Thing today's mail brought me a review copy of When March Went Mad, Seth Davis's new book about the 1979 college basketball season culminating in the NCAA Championship Final game between Larry Bird's Indiana State and Magic Johnson's Michigan State.

According to Wikipedia there were only 40 teams in the tournament, not the 64 there are today, and the finals were played in the on-campus arena at the University of Utah.

Davis argues that without the interest generated by the Magic-Bird matchup (it was and remains the college game with the highest number of TV viewers ever) the tournament might not have become the massive revenue-generating event it now is. He might be right.

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Saturday's alright for. . .washing?

Busily washing towels, sheets and clothing between shots. My old neighbor UCLA went down to ignominious defeat to the Broad Street Bullies Villanova Wildcats, so I'm now 29 for 35, but Washington is worrying me.

Update: Bah. I was right to worry. I'm now 31-38 and I've slipped to 15th in my pool.

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March 20, 2009


Curse you, West Virginia!

On the other hand, I don't admire WVU's coach Bob Huggins and haven't since his days at Cincinnati, so not seeing him as the tournament rolls on doesn't bother me in the least.

I'm now 21 for 24.

Update: Bah! Blasted Utah schools. I picked both and each lost, one to Arizona (that'll teach me to disrespect them) and the other to Marquette. I'm now 24 of 28.

Update the Second: Woohoo! Siena and Wisconsin pull 'em out in overtimes, saving my brackets! I'm now 27 for 32!

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Oh wow. A series of pictures of an undersea volcano erupting near Tonga Wednesday.

Holy smoke (pun intended).

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Book Club on the Net

Over at Tor Books Kate Nepveu is re-reading The Lord of the Rings, with participatory comments by her and a cast of tens. Join in! She's up to Chapter One of Book Two (Rivendell). It's fun and informative at the same time.

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March 19, 2009

Curse you Texas, for so many things

Not the least of which is your university keeping me from a perfect record on day one of March Madness.

15-16 so far? I've never been that good before, in twenty years of participating in pools. Next year I'll pick 'em the same way; with little-to-no knowledge applied to my choices.

Tomorrow I'll no doubt get my comeuppance.

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Geography lesson

One of the ancillary benefits of March Madness aka the NCAA National Championship Tournament is that millions of Americans learn a little geography. The first round is probably the most useful here: most people probably don't know that Siena College is in Loudonville, NY, or that Butler University is in Indianapolis, IN, or that Xavier University is in Cincinnati, OH, or that Stephen F. Austin University is in Nacogdoches, TX.

See? It's not all athletic worship!

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March 18, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 9

Blurb: When some old friends drop in unannounced, Sawyer is forced to further perpetuate his lie in order to protect them.

Ryan's discussion.

Jon's discussion.

Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid are all back in 1977, but it seems that Frank, Sun and Ben are not, given that Christian (!) showed Frank and Sun a photo of the 1977 Recruit Class.

I really enjoyed Sun bashing Ben, and her remark to Frank when he says "I thought you trusted him" was priceless: "I lied."

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A Musical Op-Ed

Six and one-half minutes of words and music. The message? The counter-culture left was right.

The score is original.

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March 17, 2009

The Pope is delusional

Pope Benedict exhibits scientific knowledge and observational skill:

Benedict also said the Roman Catholic Church was at the forefront of the battle against AIDS.

“You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms,” the pope told reporters aboard the plane heading to Yaoundé. “On the contrary, it increases the problem.”

Okay. First, the Church is only in the forefront of the battle if you define the battle as something which can be won with mind over matter. Faith beats science every time, right?

Second, nobody has claimed AIDS will be defeated solely by condom usage. Nearly everybody does agree that condoms help prevent transmission of HIV, not add to the problem.

What the Pope is really arguing is that sex outside marriage is a bad thing, but he's trying to hide that argument (since he surely knows his edict alone won't stop that) by fuzzing it up with scare tactics about condoms.

The worst part about that is that he may in fact persuade some of his more ingenuous followers not to use them, which will add to the numbers of people suffering from AIDS.

Join the 21st century, Pope.

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Self portrait, updated

After a nearly-continuous 40 years of sporting facial hair, I shaved off my mustache yesterday.

Mom claims I look younger.

Update: Oh, man. Our dental hygienist agrees.

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March 16, 2009

The Classics, updated

Go ye forth and read this. Be ye careful lest your sides explode. Hold ye not foaming cups of liquids whilst perusing lest they spill over.

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Boo, NCAA Committee

As fond as I am of my first alma mater, no way did the University of Arizona basketball team deserve a slot in the tournament, particularly at the expense of St. Mary's. Arizona was 2-9 on the road and lost five of their last six games, including their third to ASU this season. St. Mary's won 26 games and has trouble getting big-name teams to play them at home; they were 13-5 on the road.

Bad choice, committee.

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March 15, 2009

Class warfare, again

In today's NYT article about AIG bonuses I find this quote from Senator Corker (R-TN):

"I do think it’s important to know whether these are commission payments for products that brokers have sold, or whether this is, in fact, a bonus,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And I think those are two very different things."

Hmm. That's the same Senator Corker who last December proposed that:

The automakers would also have been required to cut wages and benefits to match the average hourly wage and benefits of Nissan, Toyota and Honda employees based in the United States, and the companies would have to impose equivalent work rules.

So in Corker's mind contracts with white-collar insurance and financial products salesmen are inviolate, while contracts with blue-collar auto assembly line workers can be abrogated at will.

Nice to know where he stands.

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Sunday morning therapy

My analyst told me
That I was right out of my head

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March 14, 2009

Blue Saturday

From the iTunes library:

  • Blue, Joni Mitchell
  • Blue Bayou, Linda Ronstadt
  • Blue in Green, Miles Davis
  • Blue Jay Way, The Beatles
  • Blue Prelude, Linda Ronstadt
  • Blue Skies, Bing Crosby
  • Blue Skies, Eva Cassidy
  • Blue Sky, Joan Baez
  • The Blue Train, Linda Ronstadt
  • Bluebird, Buffalo Springfield
  • Bluebird, Paul McCartney and Wings
  • Blues from an Airplane, Jefferson Airplane
  • Blues Power, Eric Clapton

Got any Blue(s) to share?

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March 13, 2009

Early morning blogging

Not to say it's chilly out here in this tropical paradise, but . . .

Yes, I know I look like Ted Kaczynski.

March 12, 2009

"Watchmen" trailer

From Making Light comes this link to the opening credits sequence from the film.

Apparently Warner Bros. is trying to pull all the video it can find from the Internet. Silly them. Watching this made me want to go see the film; I'd been ambivalent to meh about it. It's a prime example of Marketing 101; how come the suits don't realize it?

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March 11, 2009


The latest Eve Dallas police procedural (mentioned here) was published this month. I'm number 232 on the requested list at my library.

How's that for fandom?

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Blind and see not

Prior to this financial meltdown, where was the business press? That's the question asked by Dean Starkman, formerly of the WSJ, in an article which appeared in Mother Jones in January. He hits on something I noticed a while back too:

Increasingly, business coverage has addressed its audience as investors rather than citizens, a subtle but powerful shift in perspective that has led to some curious choices.
He cites several of the choices:
The Journal, for example, at times seemed to strain to find someone other than Wall Street to blame for the mortgage mess: A December 2007 story announced that borrower fraud "goes a long way toward explaining why mortgage defaults and foreclosures are rocking financial institutions," though no such evidence exists. Another Journal story last March accused "about half"of foreclosed-upon borrowers of trashing their homes. The source for the "half" bit: a PR firm working for real estate clients. Forbes, meanwhile, in a misbegotten investigation last March of Martin Eakes, the head of the Center for Responsible Lending and one of the few heroes of the subprime mess, suggested Eakes had fought to ban abusive lending in order to help the tiny nonprofit credit union he runs. Seriously.

That shift of perspective was no doubt encouraged by the Bush Administration's declaration that America should become an "ownership society."

via Firedoglake

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March 10, 2009

Victims wanted

I happened to walk through the room while Wolf Blitzer was blathering away to someone on what CNN calls "The Situation Room" (is there a more pretentious name for a news program than that, by the way?). It occurred to me that there ought to be a support program set up for smart people who sit across the table or in a studio patiently waiting while Blitzer yammers away about topics they're expert in which he knows nothing about. When he finally shuts up they get a minute to explain the subject, only to be interrupted by the Bearded One with a non sequitur of some kind.

I'll bet there's a market for these things with Wolf's face painted on.

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March 09, 2009

Kind of Blue

I've been hearing about this 1959 album by Miles Davis for years, but I'd never heard it. I know it's regarded as seminal and it's been influential on a lot of other musicians' work (Duane Allman: "I've listened to that album so many times that for the past couple of years, I haven't hardly listened to anything else.").

I borrowed a copy of a reissued version with both the original and the alternate take of "Flamenco Sketches" from the library and listened to it today.

It's gonna take a few more listens to really appreciate it, but on first pass it's quite something, isn't it? Particularly when you recognize that it's all done within scales rather than with major/minor chords.

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Dammit, Neil

Dear Representative Abercrombie,

I recognize that the climate is a lot nicer in Hawai'i than it is in Washington DC. I also recognize that you're 70 years old and might want to come back home to live.

But, dammit, those aren't good reasons for you to run for Governor in 2010. It's only in the past four years that your party has been back in control of the House; you spent twelve years as a member of the minority. You finally have the opportunity to achieve some good things for the country as chairman of several Armed Services sub-committees. We need your progressive voice in the House.

Instead, you want to spend the next year campaigning for Governor? It's a waste of your time and talents.

Change your mind.

(Besides, it's not unlikely that Ed Case might actually win the House seat you're vacating, and he's a Blue Dog Democrat who won't see eye-to-eye with a lot of the progressive things the Obama Administration wants to do. Yes, I'm selfish; I want the President to succeed, and I think you can help him do that; I don't think a brand-new Congressperson in 2010 would have nearly as much impact as you do as a 20-year veteran of the House.)

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March 08, 2009


In case you missed Saturday Night Live last night, here's The Rock as Barack Obama.

Very well done, particularly the voice.

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March 07, 2009

An excellent argument

Krugman is not the only economist on the rampage. Speaking to the anti-stimulus crowd in Washington, both in Congress and without, Mark Thoma says:

You are still arguing, unashamedly, that you know a recovery is just around the corner and any attempts to help people will come too late to do any good. It's the same argument you've been making for more than a year now and it was wrong then, and it's likely to be just as wrong now. The end is not just around the corner, especially for employment which lags behind output, yet here you are dishing out more of the same.

So when you hear about someone who worked hard all their lives to provide for their family, someone who always did the right thing but is now unemployed and unable to meet the household's needs due to unemployment, someone who might have benefitted from an earlier and more aggressive stimulus package, pat yourself on the back and say "I helped to make that happen."


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Stop it, just stop it

“You can’t and shouldn’t eliminate the spiritual component in the military,” said Bruce L. Fister, a retired Air Force general who is executive director of the Officers’ Christian Fellowship, which is active on 200 bases worldwide.

General, I realize that for most of your later career you had subordinates who wouldn't dream of disagreeing with you, but I'm afraid I ain't one of them. There is no reason why "spirituality" should be a component in the military. I don't want the platoon leader leading his/her soldiers into a crossfire and suggesting "it's God's will" when they're all killed. I want the platoon leader to think about avoiding enfilading fire in the first place. Otherwise you get tragedies like The Charge of the Light Brigade.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

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March 06, 2009

Paul Krugman is offended

He notices a recent editorial cartoon which includes him and objects.

One of the reasons I like Krugman is that he's got a sense of humor about himself.

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Today's stupidest man

This is ridiculous.

US President Barack Obama should veto a 410-billion-dollar spending bill and work to freeze government outlays for the rest of the year, a top Republican lawmaker said Friday.

That's the perpetually-tanned House Minority Leader John Boehner, defying all common sense (again).

Congressman, let me make this simple for you: one of the driving forces in this economic slowdown is a lack of spending. If the consumer stops laying out cash, either some other entity does or the recession deepens. I know that you and your Party's leader Rush Limbaugh want the President to fail, but dragging the rest of the country down with him seems a little over-the-top.

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March 05, 2009

Don't tax just me!

The local Dollar store has been charging $5.50 with tax for a pack of Marlboro Lights for a while. Thanks to the financing mechanism for the newly-reauthorized SCHIP program for uninsured kids, the price goes up to $6.00 on Monday. With our 4.5% General Excise Tax, that makes the price $6.25 per pack.

I'm all for insuring kids, but I wish that governments would broaden the base of people paying for it beyond us sinners.

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Crushing thought

After you run the disposal, where does that pulverized material go?

(This worry suggested after a contemplation of several Tupperware containers in my freezer/refrigerator.)

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March 04, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 8

Blurb: “Sawyer perpetuates a lie with some of the other island survivors in order to protect themselves from mistakes of the past.”

Ryan's comments here.

Jon's comments here.

Before I see it, I'll just say that Sawyer perpetuating a lie is no great surprise.

Wait, wait. Sawyer, Juliet, Jin, Daniel and Miles are all twenty-something years in the past with Dharma, and have spent at least three years with them?

Charlotte said she was born on the island, and we see her as a little girl (but not the baby born to Amy, since that was a boy).

How does Daniel know that there will be no more flashes and time changes?

And why is there no episode next week?

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Enough, already

Away with you, "cold air mass!"

Winds in the 30mph range, nights in the low 60s (yeah, yeah, but this is the damned tropics!), four blankets . . .

When will it end?

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March 03, 2009

Season Tickets

In case you're one of the few who a) have disposable income and b) live in a city with major league baseball, here's a list of the lowest-priced season ticket plans available to you. I note the Dodgers are third on the list, but I also note the seats are in the upper deck. I've been there, and it's pretty nose-bleedy.

via Baseball Musings.

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March 02, 2009


Holy smokes, that was easy. After conferring with some friends at Hawaii Threads, I went out and bought this wireless router. I unplugged the power supplies, unplugged the DSL modem from the old wired router, plugged it into the new wireless router, plugged the power supplies back in, restarted, and the desktop worked immediately and reflected the wireless network as viable. Then I turned on the laptop, searched for the network I'd just established, connected to it, and Bob's your uncle.

I then set up the security for the network, and that was that.

Huh. Now if I can figure out the correct USB wireless adapter for Mom's MSNTV2 receiver. . .

Here are Microsoft's instructions about tested adapters which

are compatible with MSN TV 2, but are generally no longer available at retail. If you are looking for a wireless adapter, we recommend you search for the product via online retailers or online auction sites.

Is that useless or what?

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Wired to wireless

I currently have DSL on my desktop PC through a wired router. In light of what Mom's trying to do with a laptop (below), I'm wondering if it would make sense to set up a wireless network in the house, and what it would take to do it.

As far as I can tell, the desktop box has no wireless card; the (borrowed from family member) laptop does. Do I have to install a card in the desktop, or can I buy a USB equivalent and plug it into an available port? Then do I replace my current wired router with a wireless one? Do I need a USB adapter for the laptop 100 feet or so down the hall and through a couple of doorways?

What questions have I not asked? Advice welcome!

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March 01, 2009

R.I.P., Paul Harvey

Whether you agreed with his politics or not, it was hard not to admire Paul Harvey's skill at telling a story. I never cared much about his news commentary, but whenever I ran across him starting his five-minute "The Rest of the Story" I'd stop to listen if I could. His researchers were adept at finding backgrounders that the average listener wouldn't know, and his voice and timing in relating them was remarkable.

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