Discovered on a vehicle sticker

As I was leaving the bank (this will make the web site seem even
funnier), I saw a sticker on the driver's side window of a car. The
sticker had the phrase 'Expect Resistance' in bold red letters. Below
that phrase was the following URL:


Go ahead and check it out, I will wait right here.

Okay, now let me remind you that this sticker was on a relatively late
model car parked in a Bank of America parking lot. So someone from a
decentralized anarchist collective was driving the product of highly
industrialized capitalist society and engaging in banking at a large
nationwide bank with close ties to the federal government.

As metron always said, irony is very ironic.

Mobile blogging from my iPhone....


Mobile blogging test

This is a test of the mobile blogging system. This is only a test.
Had this been an actual blog entry, this entry would have contained
something interesting or funny or a picture or at least a pithy
comment instead of this boring play on the emergency broadcasting
system. This was only a test.

Sent from my iPhone

Christmas in Hell's Half Acre

Texas seems to like big things, including big trees. Picture taken with my camera phone a few days ago.


Survived Disneyworld

Travelled to Florida for a few days with the family. We survived running around WDW with our 3 year old and 2 year old children. This is not for the feint of heart, nor for those out of shape. The kids violated the laws of thermodynamics by expending more energy than they took in while accumulating size and mass. Note: WDW is getting truly creepy with finger print scanners, hard plastic tickets that double as room keys and credit cards (they have your name on them). No obviously armed guards, but the Animal Kingdom park had some serious external security (barbed wire fences and vehicle barriers).


How to improve your physical performance...

1. Contract a disease (any will do, so long as it fatigues you and/or interferes with breathing)
2. Get a flu shot
3. Go home and drink about four margaritas (I say about four, because who really keeps count after the second one)
4. Sleep poorly (having sick kids to wake you up a night will work, but no specific technique is required)
5. Wake up early
6. Take motrin
7. Drink coffee instead of water

Not sure if this works for everyone, but I managed to do more situps and run faster than I have in years.


Armistice Day aka Veteran's Day

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, most of the slaughter in Europe ended for a while. Most of the men and women that lived through that war are gone, so there are few to remember and tell the tales of that time.

Here is a poem from that war that ended fifty three years before I was born. The poet died one week before the armistice.

Dulce et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


Halloween in Fort Worth

What was once a wild and weird night of fun, pranks, and little risk (the infamous needle in a candy bar or a kidnapping), is now a carefully regulated activity. Trick or treat occurs between 1830 and 2030 hours local time. Kids used to travel in groups having fun (at least when I was growing up in the last century). Now they seem to travel in ones or twos under close parental escort. Half the people on the block just put a bowl of candy outside, rather than truly participating in the holiday. Half the kids just show up and hold out their bags. You have to tell them to say trick or treat. Most still say thanks, so we are still in the decline of western civilization and not yet in the fall of western civilization.


Blue Angels Pictures

As requested, some pictures from the Blue Angels performance at last weekend's air show (tailgated in Cabela's parking lot with the rest of Texas). Pictures aren't fantastic, snapped with a Canon Digital Elph, so minimal zoom and not the fastest aperture in the west....

Wing tip to wing tip in a giant loop in the sky....

Five ship formation in a low altitude pass....

Four ship formation, two inverted, low altitude pass....

Four ship diamond formation in low altitude pass....


Who complains about living near an airport?

Because when you live near the right one, you get to see the United States Navy Blue Angels flying over your house for free!!! Hoo-yah! Go Navy!


HAVE LASIK-will get buried in paperwork

Well, I am still working on the astronaut application. I did this once before, but I forgot how much bloody paperwork is involved. Resume (not too short, but not too long), references, medical history, flying history, official transcripts, proof that you are not currently controlled by an alien life force bent on world domination, etc, etc.

Compare this to the civilian, that is non-government world. Email resume, do a phone interview or two, get flown somewhere for a real world interview (they will even fly a spouse or kids if they really want you), plant tour, get taken out for a nice lunch, maybe a nice dinner, might get a quick tour of area, etc. If they like you, they offer you the job and then you fill out the application, etc (no sense wasting people's time on paperwork that isn't needed).


Well, I have several months before the job posting is closed, so I should be able to get it all done.


Have LASIK-will travel....

If you have had LASIK, you are no longer automatically disqualified from being an Astronaut (see link in title). Yeeee-haaaaw!!

NASA's information on astronauts:
  • Astronaut FAQ

  • USAJobs website (so you too can apply):
  • USAJobs

  • Maybe we can put Spacer into space after all (unlikely, but at least there's hope)....


    I am spying on you

    I added a little mapping widget from maps.amung.us that shows the location of my vast horde of readers (all one of you).


    Did you see this on CNN?

    Click on the link above, but only do so when the emotionally sensitive are not around.

    Do not punch your CRT in anger. This hurts.

    There is good news. As of today, a non-profit agency has offered to bring this boy to the US (along with his family) and do all kinds of reconstructive surgery and counseling (follow up story: http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/08/23/iraq.boyfolo/index.html). The agency is The Children's Burn Foundation (http://www.childburn.org/) and you can donate here: https://www.applyweb.com/public/contribute?s=childb. I think this is great, so I gave them $100.

    But I am still very angry. I have a small boy (younger than this boy) and a younger daughter. This struck a little close to home. I almost want to volunteer to go to Iraq. My biggest fear is that instead of letting me hunt down animals like the ones that attacked this boy, they would make me do stupid stuff like build a sewer or drive a convoy through an ambush.


    Happy 100th Birthday to Robert A. Heinlein

    Today, 2007.07.26, is the 100th birthday of Robert A. Heinlein. Follow the link above to read the Wired Science story. If you didn't know, he is my favorite author. His writing inspired me to become an engineer, join the military, read the works of other authors, and explore other planets (okay, so I have not left my bootprints on another world yet, but I am not even 40 yet and many men in my family live until their 70s or 80s). The quote from Lazarus Long at the top of this blog is from his book Time Enough For Love.

    If you have never read anything by Robert A. Heinlein, you are one lucky S.O.B. to have all of that in front of you. If you haven't read anything by him, might I suggest the following books:

    Starship Troopers (a short book, originally considered a juvenile, it actually has very important discussions on the very philosophy of war--whatever you do, do NOT see the movie, remember DO NOT SEE THE MOVIE)

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (great book about everything-family structure, crime & punishment, government, how to run a succesful violent revolution, etc)

    Stranger in a Strange Land (this book looks at religion, love, and everything about the human condition as observed by a man raised by Martians)

    I recommend you set aside some time and money because once you start reading his books, you may not be able to stop. If you don't like them, there is probably something wrong with you.

    Want to save the world? Buy one of Heinlein's juveniles for some kid (yours or someone elses). You may not save the world, but it is very possible you may save someone's life (Spider Robinson insists that his life was saved at age 6 by a librarian that gave him the book Red Planet).


    Not swimming yet...

    But it has been close. It rained for almost three weeks before I left Texas. I was gone for 3 weeks, but was told it rained while I was gone. Then it rained for most of the last two weeks. I was told Texas was hot and dry, not overcast, humid, and wet. Fortunately, no flooding in our neighborhood.

    Today was the first nice evening in a long time, so the whole family went out to the pool and splashed around (I know, I know, complain about the rain, then as soon as it dries out, head to the pool-irony is ironic, don't you think).

    Number 2 child is walking and almost talking. Now if we can get Number 1 son potty trained, life would be really good.

    Looking forward to a motorcycle ride this weekend if the weather holds.


    Surfing for the first time

    This weekend I decided I should try surfing (since I am in SoCal).

    Results after 2.5 hours (including lesson and freeplay)
    -jammed big toe (left foot)
    -gigantic deep blister (right big toe)
    -knuckle on right middle finger swollen by about 30% and too stiff to move for a day
    -bruise on right leg
    -deep deep muscle pains, particularly in legs
    -sand and salt, lots of it, embedded almost everywhere
    -about 3 seconds of time almost standing (just long enough to yell "Whoo-[splash!][gurgle][sputter])
    -the distinct memory of being under the surfboard and getting pushed under the water by the wave
    -real annoyance at a bunch of young punks doing sick tricks on shorty boards
    -the determination to try this again (if I heal enough before I leave town)

    To quote one Sergeant Roger Murtaugh of the LAPD, I am too old for this shit.

    If you are trying to figure out just how funny this must have looked from the outside, just think back to my famous wipeouts from the early years of snowskiing (if you ever saw one).


    Life in laptop hell....

    Wondering why I haven't sent you an email lately?

    Did you check this blog and find me strangely silent?

    Okay, so I don't post updates that often, but I have another good excuse this time. My laptop went up in smoke. Large bolts of lightning shot out of every port. An eery green backlight glowed under the keys (note-I don't have a backlight). A strange little girls voice said "They're heeeerreee....."

    So none of that exciting stuff really happened. In reality, my powerbook would not boot up. I thought at first the screen had died (since I did here a start up chime at least once, but nothing appeared on the screen and the backlight (normal white not eery ectoplasmic green) did not light up. I took it in to the Apple store, hooked it up to an external monitor, and found that it no longer booted at all. The "Genius" bar was obviously channeling the early Einstein (when he flunked out of high school and before he wrote about relativity). They seemed incapable of any serious troubleshooting. Since I was traveling, I did not have any technical references with me. Then one of the geniuses slid me a business card of a local independent mac repair guy.

    I met with the guy, he tried some various start up options and finally, just for laughs, pulled out one of my ram upgrades. The stupid laptop then proceeded to boot off of his test cd. Grrrr...failure after only 6 months of operation. So one of my ram modules failed, but wait it gets worse (doesn't it always get worse with my stories). The hard drive had also failed (the computer is four years old, is on a lot, and has been moved through quit a few airports, xray machines, and car rides, so I guess I can't complain too much).

    Bottom line: I have a new hard drive (80gb vs the original 60gb), but only 512mb of ram (down one ram chip). I have also lost most of the data on the drive. Only about a gb of data was salvageable before the old drive ceased communicating.

    Fortunately, the biggest portion of the lost data was music (backed up on my iPod) and pictures (most are backed up on wife's computer). I only lost a few business files and pictures (although I might have some on an external drive at home or on some old cds). The rest of the data was applications, and I have most of the cdroms at home, so I should be good there.

    Downside, I will have to limp along with a partially configured computer until I return home and then will have to spend a fair amount of time reinstalling and updating applications.

    The fun never ends around here.

    If you have a computer, buy a cheap external hard drive and copy everything to it. Update the backup as regularly as you can and you will not face the disaster I have been through this week.


    A late Memorial day post

    I have decided to start a tradition for this blog. I will post a poem or something each Memorial day for my fallen brothers and sisters. This year's poem is easy. You all know it. Whisper the words along with me if you will. And remember to say you are sorry to your mother for causing her so much worry and grief...

    Flanders Fields

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.
    —By John McCrae

    Happy Memorial Day 2007.


    One degree of separation from VA Tech Shootings

    I was reading CNN today (well it's better than watching it) and I found out that I know one of the engineering faculty members at Virginia Tech. It was quite a shock. I was obviously saddened to hear about the massacre, but it was in an impersonal way. In fact, after the first day, I was a little sick of the story (after all, the media did not have anything new to add, so I was tired of hearing the repeated story). It seemed that all other news stopped (even though the insurgents were lighting up Iraq last week). Then I read this article and I see the name of my design professor from UIC. Apparently, he moved to Virginia Tech in 2004 (long after I last had contact with him). Still, the last thing you expect in such a situation is to know anyone involved with it. I also recently found out some co-workers are Virginia Tech alumni.

    Life is weird.

    Go Hokies (never even heard of their mascot before the shootings, probably never forget the name now....).

  • Link to CNN blog post
  • 2007/04/19

    USMC Rules for Gunfighting

    At a friend's request, I have posted the USMC Rules for Gunfighting. May you never need them, but if you do wind up at the OK Corral, these are a good place to start... NOTE: These rules were posted at Military.com. I can't find the original page, so if you have the link, leave it in the comments and I will update the posting...

    1. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns.

    2. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Your life is expensive.

    3. Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss.

    4. If your shooting stance is good, you're probably not moving fast enough nor using cover correctly.

    5. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend. (Lateral and diagonal movement are preferred.)

    6. If you can choose what to bring to a gunfight, bring a long gun and a friend with a long gun.

    7. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.

    8. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating, reloading, and running.

    9. Accuracy is relative: most combat shooting standards will be more dependent on "pucker factor" than the inherent accuracy of the gun.

    9.5 Use a gun that works EVERY TIME.

    10. Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to beat you to death with it because it is empty.

    11. Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.

    12. Have a plan.

    13. Have a back-up plan, because the first one won't work.

    14. Use cover or concealment as much as possible.

    15. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.

    16. Don't drop your guard.

    17. Always tactical load and threat scan 360 degrees.

    18. Watch their hands. Hands kill. (In God we trust. Everyone else, keep your hands where I can see them).

    19. Decide to be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH.

    20. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.

    21. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

    22. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.

    23. Your number one Option for Personal Security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.

    24. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun, the caliber of which does not start with a ".4"


    Man, have I been slacking off...

    Sure, I have a blog, where did I leave that thing, it's around here somewhere....

    Okay, okay, so I don't really write prolifically. At least I post once in a while.

    Here are some updates:
    It was warm enough new year's day to go for a motorcycle ride, so I did. I meant to post that to piss off my motorcycle riding readership in the cold northlands.

    We were supposed to go see STS-117, the next space shuttle mission lift off from KSC. It was going to be a nice trip-the wife has not seen a shuttle launch in person yet, my 2 year old son might be just at the right age to enjoy that much fire and noise (or else I would be having surgery to remove a small child from my neck), and there would be time for the usual Orlando activities as well as visiting with some old friends. Alas, Thor, God of Thunder intervened and laid waste to the External Tank with a mighty blast of hail. Now, with the shuttle launch tbd (the last news was NASA decided not to make a decision until next month on when they might launch....grrrrrr), tax bills coming due, and other obligations on the calender, our trip may not happen this year. Too bad, cause I actually know one of the guys on the crew and wouldn't mind seeing him take a ride to orbit again.

    The kids are 2 and 1, so life is ground hog day--get up, get kids ready for daycare, drive to daycare, drive to work, work, drive to daycare, drive home, eat, get kids ready for bed, fall asleep on floor of son's bedroom, stagger to own bed, wake up to screaming baby, hand in bottle, stagger back to bed, move son, who is now in my spot, move cat that has jumped up in place of son, fall back into bed, get up, get kids ready.....

    We have all been sick, but fortunately not all at once. Lots of colds, one almost flu/strep throat thing, some ear infections, etc. Kids are biohazards.

    I turned 36. Ugh. Felt like over the hill last year, can't wait to see what this feels like in another six months. Love getting older.

    South Park has been on for 10 years???? They must be stuck in some sort of endless loop, because the kids haven't aged or changed grades in quite some time (hmmm-the future of tv-all cartoons-actors are never seen and so only have to sound plausible and not look plausible-screw reality tv, this is the real low budget winner). My favorite episode is probably still the undead episode (first season?) where Kenny was embalmed with Worcestershire sauce and turns into a flesh eating zombie (or pinkeye as it is known in the medical community). Actually, I guess it was episode 107 of the first season and it was called Pinkeye. And to my friends that played way too much warcraft (you know who you are), please watch Episode 1008, Make Love, Not Warcraft and take it's lesson to heart.

    Iran started holding hostages again. Happy days are here again. Feels just like my childhood somehow.

    Still no signs of intelligent life on Earth....