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I still don't get it

I don't understand mobile phone-fetishists such as Mr. Russell Beattie. First when I see Symbian I see Sybian which causes considerable cognitive dissonance. But mainly because I can't imagine using a phone as something other than a phone… Well I guess I could, but I can't imagine working myself into a lather over it.

Maybe it's because I don't use public transportation. I'm rarely forced to sit around and kill time. But it's more likely that I don't want to be identified with geeks, urban hipsters, pathetic business types, and all the other assholes that over use their phones in public.

I had a “cell” phone about 6-7 years ago. I liked it, but I was poor and it was one of the first luxuries to go. My killer app at the time was “Hey, I'm driving down your street now…” No more parking and ringing doorbells when I was picking someone up.

I talked myself into buying a phone again earlier this year. Since I drive exclusively aging, self-maintained Italian sports sedans, having a phone handy is comforting (not that I've had to use it.) My killer app is more or less the same. It was nice to have when we purchased the house, but since then I haven't used it much, mostly just for the free long-distance. Still I'll probably get another for my wife and just dispose of our land line. With all the fees/taxes it's more expensive than having a 2nd mobile, plus it should make picking Deb up after work a bit easier to synchronize.

It's still just a phone.

specs still in spec

Deb and I went to the eye doctor today. I used to have amazing vision, but as I turned 20 or so it started to go downhill. I blamed it on computers. Recently my eyes have been hurting after a few hours in front of my computer screen. I use the 1600×1200 resolution of my laptop, and everyone gives me grief about the small font size. I was afraid maybe they had a point.

The eye exam allayed those fears. My prescription hasn't changed in the last two years, I still have better than 20/20 vision with my glasses. This clears me for the 1920×1200 resolution of my new laptop.

Please take my money

I spent about $25k on computer equipment today, but it wasn't easy. It took me about 2 days of research to decide on the specifications, little did I know that would be the easy part. Since we were going to use a Purchase Order to buy the machines I couldn't just check-out online. But I thought I could make it easy by just emailing my shopping cart (a nice feature to our sales rep. We've been buying Dell computers for the last four years. Partly because we've been happy with them, partly because my boss owns their stock.

Just as I was getting off the phone with the sales rep I said “Don't forget to apply our discounts when you come up with the quotes. I don't want to have to call you back.” I spelled out the various discounts/rebates/free shipping perks we qualified for, and the subtotals for each group of items.

Of course, I get the quotes back with no discounts. I'm back on the phone. This time the quotes come back with most discounts applied, but now we are being charged for 2nd day shipping (adding almost $1k to the total price.) I also found out that two of the discounts were incompatible, so I asked to split the order in two. So yet more quotes…

That's when I saw that during the day Dell had introduced a new series of laptops Dell Latitude D-series which used the new Intel Centrino chipset. I was surprised to find that I could configure one of these for almost the same price as the top of the line Inpiron 8500 that we were going to order. I would be getting another hour of battery life, a faster machine, and a better chassis design, so I emailed the cart to the rep and asked for a new quote, and of course it came back with the wrong shipping method again.

If I didn't have to wait almost a whole month to get my new 1.6Ghz Pentium-M, WUXGA, CDRW-DVD, yadda yadda laptop I wouldn't be so cranky. At least the dual Xeon workstations will be here soon.

You either get it or you don't

It has been my experience that it is impossible to explain gun-usage/ownership to non gun users/owners. Even within the pro-gun group there are many sub-divisions.

I don't like bringing up my gun views in mixed company. It would take all day to explain my views and the personal experiences that led to them. When the subject comes up, generally the non-gun owners are put-off, or another gun owner will say something that I don't agree with.
I personally dislike any gun that isn't obviously designed for target shooting or hunting. But that's just me (and my father's bias.)

Anyway, I felt I should give some background to this entry:
Deb's Blog: Afternoon in the woods I've been shooting since I was old enough to hold a gun with my dad's help. My father was an accomplished skeet & trap shooter and an even better small game hunter.

The more interesting the shooting, the better my father would shoot. I'm the same way… for some reason having some money riding on a shot, or when hunting small game, I can focus. It sounds like bullshit, but it's my own kind of Zen, a very pleasurable state of being.

I have a hard time tapping into that when just target shooting. In my dad's day they had open garbage dumps, you could get a box of shells and go shoot rats all day. My guilty pleasure is shooting chipmunks, and most people take offense at this. Rats should have evolved some stripes and bushy tails too… It would do wonders for their PR. Fortunately for the chimpmunks they were all still tucked away in their holes, waiting out the winter.

I did see something though. High in a tree, which I later measured off at 70 yards away I saw something move. I recognized it. It was very small and moving irraticly. I pulled up, paused for a moment. It was so far away the front sight completely obscured the target. I took a second to judge the movement, and took a shot. I was dead-on. It was probably one of the best shots with iron sights I've ever made. It would have only been better if I didn't feel that pang of guilt. I think deb has been fostering the growth of my conscience. I'm not sure I see the advantages of it.

In Sync

Deb and I were watching TV last night. While waiting for Conan to come on (which won't be happening anymore when we have our Direct TV/Tivo unit delivered this Friday), I was flipping around and landed on MTV. It was the standard dance party/video show, and they were announcing a special guest Fat Joe. Just as I was opening my mouth to speak, Deb turned to me and said “So would he still go by Fat Joe if he got his stomach stapled or something and lost weight?” Whch is precisely what I was going to ask. This sort of thing happens all the time with us.

_Great minds think alike, and fools seldom differ._

If I had any power

I'd like to issue the following fatwa: Any driver blocking traffic while waiting for a parking spot to open shall be subjected to a public stoning. If said driver is driving a minivan, BWM, or talking on a cell phone they shall be stoned twice for good measure.

Since that's unlikely to happen I propose a broader and more socially responsible resolution: Tested and certified competent drivers will be issued paint ball guns which will carried at all times. These drivers, upon witnessing an act of driving stupidity, will tag the guilty driver with a barrage of paint ball ammo. A paint splattered vehicle will alert other drivers to the incompetence of the driver so they may react accordingly when dealing with them.

Get your kicks on Route 22

Traveling Route 22 from Pittsburgh to Johnstown four separate times this weekend gave me ample opportunity to formulate some observations…

Sheetz has their shit together. They've been using touch screen ordering systems for all their “Made To Order” food options for at least 5 years. I never have speak to another human other than the cashier, but more importantly my order has always been correct in that time. Why do Wendy's, Burger King, et al. still bother with humans taking my order? They fuck up my order 5 times out of 10, and speaking to them is an outright mental assult. I've tried to refine my ordering technique to reduce mistakes and to preempt any unecessary questions, but they don't stick to their own damn script. Anyone competent enough for the job is over-qualified to work for a minimum wage… so just eliminate the position entirely. And Sheetz… Please build some locations in Pittsburgh proper. Being able to get a tasty custom built burger, Krispy Kreme donuts, and a tank of cheap gas all in one stop kicks ass.

There are still a lot of _”Trucker's Libraries”_ (my father's slang for Adult bookstores) between Murrysville and Indiana, including The Climax a drive-through strip joint. I wonder if the internet is eroding their sales… of course, that assumes that supplying pornography is the only function these stores provide. If you watch closely when you drive past, the parking lots are much bigger behind the stores than in front of them.

This winter is absolutely destroying the roads around here. I'm now almost happy that my new Alfa has been sidelined during the EngineRebuild. I'm glad it hasn't been subjected to the salt/flying gravel/and lunar-like road surface that my Acura has seen. I think Afghanistan has a better transportation infrastructure.

Bitten by same bug

So I was reading my coworker's site and I see this : News: When you hear hoofbeats… A cautionary tail concerning problem debugging. Interestingly, I had the exact same problem last night.

My wife started blogging. We were busy this weekend and she had much to post. She started complaing about MT taking forever to rebuild the index after she made a post. Initially, I suspected it was bandwidth issues related to CMU implementing traffic shaping to throttle outbound connections… those damn kids and their P2P are fucking up my free bandwidth.

My ssh connection to the server was working fine… “Maybe they only clamp down on WWW and P2P traffic”, I thought. So I tried using Lynx to connect to deb's blog on localhost. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to rebuild the indexes, because MT uses a popup window to execute the command… Lynx seemed to be ignoring it (or at least not making it obvious as to how I could access it.) So I started digging through the log files. That's when I noticed an entry in the error_log about a connection timeout, and incomplete headers.

That's when I found the weather server was down, and causing the index rebuild to time-out. Doh! To keep deb posting I deleted that entry from her site Template (adding the TWiki integration) and all was good again.

_UPDATE:_ I'm such a dumbass. I just tried to post this forgetting completely that the weather plug-in is still in my template. “Hey, why's it taking so long…” Duh!

TWiki + Blog Integration

A test link: AlfaWikiTutorial

A regular link:

A photo link:

I love being an adult

Being an adult I get to do all the things I wasn't allowed (or couldn't afford) to do. This project didn't cost anything other than some tight back muscles: Snow Pile I'm not sure what we'll make of it, maybe just an igloo. There was something so pleasantly unwholesome about useing the hose in the wintertime. If I can find that damn lawn sprinkler tonight, I'm definately going to put it to use.

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