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Beware of false prophets

So I checked the weblogs this morning, and saw this in the referer log: http://duke.usask.ca/~che434/mark/

Yessir, that is creepy… almost identical blog style sheets (he even has a friend named chris, not to be confused with chris) But what is really creepy is the content. Talk about cognitive dissonance… seeing what looks like my blog chock full of no-foolin' god references. He even has “sermons” category. Yikes!

If he was a fan of public transportation, Coors Light, and/or clowns, I'd have to seriously consider the existance of a Bizzaro world.

Why do I watch?

I thought this (HBO.com: Boxing: Hopkins vs Hakkar & Tua vs Rahman) might have been a decent night of boxing.

This exchange between Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant during the Hopkins fight summed up the evening….

Lampley: “Well, this is amusing…”
Mechant: “Yeah, like watching someone rip the wings off a butterfly.”

The Tua/Rahman fight was good as far as recent Heavyweight bouts go, but still rather uninspired. Following the script, it ended in a controversal draw.

I found it interesting that the ring side announcers often credited the wrong boxer with winning an exhange. I used to think I just didn't know any better, and that they had a better view. But now armed with the Tivo, I confirmed that more often than not I saw the fight correctly. On several occasions where it looked like Tua got a good shot in, he only landed a glancing blow and got tagged by Rahman.

The Hopkins / Hakkar fight was a joke. I have to give Hakkar credit for taking 8 rounds of abuse, but he punched like 160lbs of feathers… And he was supposedly a #1 contender. He was still in pretty good shape when his corner called the fight.

I guess I keep watching because the few good fights I've seen were so good they gave me goosebumps. It's a damn shame the sport is so poorly managed that these fights are so rare. To rub it in HBO ran the story of the Hearns/Hagler fight after tonights spectacle.

Nice hardware

Our Dell Workstations arrived this week. I have to say I am really impressed with their case engineering. No neon, or see through panels… but one latch, and the whole top hinges open. Easy access to drives and the motherboard. All the cables are in the right places… even the power supply can be yanked out with no tools. The case is amazingly quiet too… you can barely hear it when it's on, and that's with Dual Xeon's and two 7200 rpm drives.

I was surprised when I opened the Performance Monitor, to notice that WinXP was reporting 4 cpus. After checking inside the case again, I soon learned this is a side-effect of the Hyperthreading capability of the Xeons.

I will say, that while the machine is certainly fast, I was hoping it would be even faster. I haven't used a new machine in two years, and certainly not a dual-proc Xeon. Maybe this is the problem. I'll see if the hot fix changes anything.

My friends aren't so dumb

Calling the plumber is probably a smart idea. God, I fucking hate plumbing. No plumbing job is an easy plumbing job in a house that's more than 10years old.

Plumbers that install gate valves instead of ball valves should be forced to come back and fix the damn things when the surely start leaking or fail to shut-off when screwed shut. Neither the main shut-off valve, the one before the outdoor faucet, nor the outdoor faucet itself actually shuts off completely. Even with all three shut-off I still had a steady stream of water coming from the faucet.

After much effort working around constantly running water, I was able to solder in a new ball valve, which will allow me to replace the seals in the outdoor faucet in peace.

How do other people survive

So what do most people do when faced with problems in and around the house?

I ask because most of my friends seem to be almost entirely mechanically ignorant. Most of my friends are programmers, which makes it all the more suprising to me. What interests me about computers and programming, is learning how it all works, how it was put together. For me I'm using the same parts of my brain when I'm doing system administration, as when I change the oil in my car. I'm applying a lot of simple skills/knowledge (where the oil goes in, drains out / how the filesystem is arranged) and using simple tools (wrenchs, screwdrivers / ls, grep, emacs) to get a job done.

Owning a house I get plenty of opportunites to apply my mechanical know-how. Are my programmer buddies calling a plumber every time the have a leaky faucet? Maybe they exchange computer help with relatives who know how to do what they need.

I don't mind asking for help or advice, but needing someone else to do something pains me. Usually it's because I lack (can't afford… yet) the tools I need, but it still really bugs me.

Today I repaired the convection fan on our oven. The motor shaft was fouling against the inner chassis, preventing it from turning. While I was at it I recalibrated the oven thermostat. (The temp was off by 25F, which will explain why Deb's cookies were taking so long to bake.) Next up is repairing the leaky outdoor faucet and the inside shut-off.

slave to my machines

I was without internet service at home for the last few days. During the day, I found myself walking towards my computer to check my email… only to catch myself before I sat down. It was like when the power is out, and I keep trying to turn the lights on.

I also realized how much I rely on my connection for news, even moreso now that we have a Tivo. I didn't even realize the war had started earlier this week. We don't subscribe to a newspaper, and I gave up on most TV news a long time ago. Although BBC Worldnews and the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer aren't so bad (season pass, set.)

The Tivo is really changing my evenings. It's busy recording everything I like, and I'm getting behind. I feel like I have to watch the stuff I ask it to record, but it's recording a several hours of content a day. It's also taking a little fun out of my favorite programs. I'm avoiding most of the shit on TV, which made the good stuff seem so good. This is largely offset by the joy of skipping commercials, but I'm still feeling some overload watching the Simpsons, Futurama, Home Movies, Conan, Daily Show, etc every single day. I think I need to round out my Season Pass selections so I get the needed variety.

I think a few days camping would do me some good. If I could shake this damn cold, I'd be packing my gear now. Till then I think I'm stuck on the couch (when I'm not in the kitchen getting more to eat.)

customer, serviced

We ditched cableTV a few weeks ago, but we still have cable internet service. It used to be really great, 4.5Mb downstream… then @Home went under and AT@T enforced a cap at 1.5Mb. It also used to be a lot cheaper too, it's gone from about $40 to about $60 a month in 3 years. It's still cheaper than an equivalent DSL package here, and I can't live without high speed internet access at home, so I'm screwed.

Today they came by to pick up our Digital Cable box. I guess while they were at it, they made sure we weren't watching any analog cable for free by doing something at the pole. Guess what happened.

Sure as shit, they wiped out our cable internet service. Deb didn't notice until they had already left, and now we are stuck waiting around till they can get back and un-fuck it.

I wish I could at least get a little compensation for loss of service… Imagine if someone cut your electricity service, you might only use a few dollars worth a day, but one day without it might cost you many times that in spoiled food (and dead fish in our case.) They could at least kiss my ass a bit for wasting my time and causing an inconvienence. How hard would it be to give me a few days credit ? I know it's a monopoly, but don't rub my face in it.

Here's to hoping that spread-spectrum wireless, community provided high speed internet, or some future technology burries these pig-fuckers for good.

Outdoor geek fun

I had seen references to “geocaching” for quite a while. I didn't realize it was so well organized. I just thought it was a couple geeks hiding transformers, pogs, or whatever the hell they're into these days.

Little did I realize it was an internet phenomenon in the making. We ran into another geocacher today, and we weren't even the first people to that cache that day. Deb as usual does a thorough job of recording the event here:
Deb's Blog: Geocaching adventure #1

I _so_ need to shave:

Hiking Hint: Save the bacon cheeseburger and Krispy Kreme donuts from Sheetz until _after_ the hike.

New and Improved

[snip]

Well I just deleted a pretty well reasoned analysis of my tenure at the company I work for. I tried to keep things general but was still afraid that someone might stumble across the entry and take exception to it. Catharsis isn't worth fucking up my job. I'll still try to make a meta-commentary on workplace issues.

I have to take exception with the idea of “taking responsibility.” I'm not talking about doing/avoiding ones duties. I mean the idea that someone is just going to start doing more than they were tasked to do (especially when it would impact others.) Only an insubordinate fool is going to start overstepping their position (especially when it would mean usurping the power of a very-competent all-controlling higher-up.)

Authority needs to be given to employees if you expect them to do more. A new position with vague new duties and no corresponding authority to go with it is a recipe for failure…

So in completely unrelated news I'm now a Senior Software Architect.

Customer Service (the good, the bad, and the weird)

We bought our first house a few months ago. I picked Etrade as our mortgage company. The ability to see all their rates and fees upfront made the difference. They have a huge selection of lending options we picked a 7/1ARM because we planned on paying off the house before the ARM even kicked in. (Damn, rates are .875% less than when we got ours.) I was also able to choose my own closing company. This turned out better than I expected since they waived their typical closing fees because they wanted to establish the relationship with Etrade. I was a bit disappointed with Etrade's service. As a first time buyer, I had hoped for more help from the lender. I wound up taking a crash course in lending, and found myself on the phone constantly to make sure things were getting done. Their estimate for closing costs doubled before the deal was finally closed. It was a very different experience with Roseann at CFacts (the closing company.) She wound up working late, and even came in on her vacation day to make it happen.

Recently Etrade sold the mortgage to GMAC Mortage (before we even made our first payment.) This was nice, as they have a very modern customer service website. I got to put it to the test yesterday when I had a question about our county taxes. They have the option of a Live Chat with a customer service rep. Even though I had used talk way back in '91 to chat online, I was still a bit uncomfortable using it to discuss my mortgage. Was I expected to type in 733t? It actually worked pretty well (no problems with Mozilla either.) My question was answered in short order. Still it felt weird… I hate the phone, but I think I might have been more comfortable calling. I kept expecting to see “Tell me more about your mother” ala Eliza.

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