30 Jul 2005 @ 5:54 PM 

Conversation between father and son:

Son: Could you super glue this back together?

Dad: No.

S: But I want it back together.

D: Did I tell you that if you bashed your toys together they would break?

S: Yes.

D: Did you bash your toys together after I told you not to?

S: Yes.

D: Did they break?

S: Yes.

D: There ya go.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 30 Jul 2005 @ 05:55 PM

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 28 Jul 2005 @ 5:20 PM 

Someone sent me a package. I’m pretty sure it’s not something I ordered, but when I check the tracking information, it gets weird.

Mysterious!

If you click that image and check it out carefully, you’ll see the origin of the package (Santa Rosa, CA) and then you’ll see its travels on its way to San Angelo, TX. Although it’s silly, I’ve grown accustomed to the “everything UPS has to go through Dallas” thing, so that detour was expected. The detour to Cerritos, CA and then back to the Bay Area before shipping it to Texas is a new one though.

Another interesting thing: The package left Santa Rosa on the 13th of June, went to Cerritos on the 15th of June, and then went to San Pablo on the 21st of July. Was it taking a vacation in Southern California? This is very odd.

I guess I’ll find out tomorrow, when I finally get the package. The UPS automated system won’t let you schedule a time to go pick the blasted thing up until they have made the three tries at the door thing first. What makes this amusing is they repeatedly attempt delivery at the same time every day. Most people are at work at 11 am, right? Do you think that if I’m not home at 11 am on Wednesday, not home at 11 am on Thursday, maybe I’ll be home on Friday? Nope, that isn’t very rational. But, when I call the number listed to “prevent your package from being returned to sender” the only option I am given is to listen to where the stupid thing IS, with no option to stop them from another fruitless delivery attempt on the morrow. *sigh* I hate stupid people.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 28 Jul 2005 @ 05:20 PM

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 27 Jul 2005 @ 7:37 PM 

In case you are unaware, I’m a “Data Management Specialist” for a defense contractor; this means something rather vague, but includes a lot of database administration. Unfortunately, the particular DoD agency which employs my company at this location doesn’t think we need an actual enterprise-quality database management system. I use Microsoft Access.

I know, it’s shameful. Alas, it is my lot in life and I must do what I can with it. The near-complete lack of concurrent transactioning in Access was not much of an issue back when the office had a half-dozen people entering data throughout the day. We’ve got a few dozen now, and boy does it suck. Somehow, the upgrade to Win2k and Office2k a few months ago (right on the cutting edge, eh?) seems to have only exacerbated the errors. In Access 97, I could edit the forms or even the design of a table while people were using other forms or other tables; in Access 2000, I have to have completely exclusive control of the database to make even the slightest structural change.

Structural changes should be rare, you would think. Not with some of my cow-orkers attempting new and astounding feats of “what does this button do” every few days. To make things more interesting, the network we are on has random hiccups of a distressing length and severity. And, just for kicks, the system design folks (who don’t work on this base or even in this state) forbid any exposure of the network group lists so I can’t automate any sort of real security on the database itself. That means, anything I can do as the programmer/administrator, any other user can do too. You can imagine how much joy this brings me.

So far, I’ve had to redesign a couple forms to stop someone from changing his own name and therefore reassigning all his work to a non-existent person; I’ve had to redesign forms to stop someone from filling out a date inappropriately, thereby moving documents into the wrong stage of the review process; I’ve had to redesign forms to stop someone from erasing someone’s name from the database.

Did I do these things preemptively? No, I didn’t think anyone would ever try some of those things, so it never occured to me to stop them from being possible.

Can I get MySQL and PHP, please?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 27 Jul 2005 @ 07:37 PM

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 26 Jul 2005 @ 10:02 PM 

Blame Sierra.

Bold means I love(d) it/watch(ed) it religiously/etc.
Italic means I like(d) it but did/do not watch religiously.
CAPS means I’ve seen/saw it but am/was pretty much indifferent to it.
Regular roman letters means I didn’t see it/never saw it.
Underline means I have seen it but dislike(d) it.

Absolutely Fabulous
Alien Nation
A-Team
Angel
The Avengers
Babylon 5
Battlestar Galactica (Old)
Battlestar Galactica (New)
BLAKE’S SEVEN
Beauty And The Beast
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
THE BIONIC WOMAN
Danger Man/Secret Agent Man
Dark Shadows
The Daily Show
Doctor Who
Family Guy
Farscape
FIREFLY
Forever Knight
4400
Freaks And Geeks
Futurama
Joan Of Arcadia
The Invisible Man
Knight Rider
KUNG-FU
The Legend Of Hercules
My So-Called Life
Mystery Science Theatre 3000
Monk
Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Nowhere Man
The Outer Limits
The Prisoner
Quantum Leap
The Twilight Zone
The Six Million Dollar Man
The Simpsons
Space:1999
STARGATE SG-1
Star Trek: TOS
Star Trek: TNG
Star Trek: DS9
STAR TREK: VOYAGER
Star Trek: Enterprise
V
Vampire: The Masquerade
Twin Peaks
Wonderfalls
Xena: Warrior Princess
THE X-FILES

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 26 Jul 2005 @ 10:04 PM

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 26 Jul 2005 @ 4:17 PM 

Konfabulator was bought by Yahoo, so now it’s free. I played with it yesterday, but I’m not sure it’s really much use for me. Maybe if I was anal about the statistics of my system, or if I didn’t have an RSS reader already, or if I cared what my internal IP address was (it’s static to the router)… well, I don’t see much use for my system, but here’s what my desktop looked like after playing with it for a while:

Konfabulator

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 26 Jul 2005 @ 04:17 PM

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 23 Jul 2005 @ 5:37 PM 

The trailer for the upcoming movie V for Vendetta is pretty cool. Looks like a decent attempt at adapting the graphic novel, although Alan Moore publicly disavows any association with the movie, even telling the Wachowski Brothers to not use his name in any way related to the film. I guess “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” really soured him on Hollywood.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 23 Jul 2005 @ 05:37 PM

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 21 Jul 2005 @ 7:49 AM 

This morning was some sort of Asshole Contest on the drive to work. No less than three pickups (gotta love Texas) attempted to prove which of them was the biggest jerk – swerving through lanes, avoiding blinker use, causing as many other drivers as possible to slam on the brakes…

It’s a good thing I don’t live in L.A. these days – I’d be a living Road Rage poster boy.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 21 Jul 2005 @ 07:49 AM

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 19 Jul 2005 @ 10:22 AM 

I’m not surprised by recent revelations regarding Karl Rove, as anyone with a brain could see it coming a mile away. I’m somewhat surprised that he actually got caught, since this administration is absolutely fantastic at keeping things hidden.

I’m disappointed in two groups lately – politicians and the intelligence professionals I know. Politicians are disappointing pretty much as a matter of course in recent decades, and increasingly so with each passing year. As the whole Iraq War/Wilson/Plame controversy rages, it shows a distressing willingness on the part of a political party to put the harming of another political party above the safety of American citizens and the intelligence network we work so hard to build.

When Valerie Plame was outed as a covert agent, it didn’t hurt just her career. It hurt the ability of this country to gather intelligence which was vital to supporting the War on Terror. If the War on Terror is the most important thing in the minds of the current administration, why would they harm our fragile human intelligence collection ability just to score public relations points with the press? It’s astonishing, it’s disgraceful, and it’s par for the course in recent years.

I’m also disappointed in some of the people I’ve known for years in the intelligence community. It’s hardly a surprise to most people that the military and (by extension) the intel community are largely Republican. What might surprise some people is how many of these supposedly intelligent and highly-trained people are able to go along with the most convoluted justifications for the poor behavior of some politicians. Just because the President is Republican doesn’t mean he can do no wrong. Nixon was a Republican and he didn’t get forced from office by Democrats, but by his own party.

Yesterday I was privy to a conversation wherein two intelligence professionals, each of whom had more than two decades of experience in the Mideast area, were discussing how absurd it is that the Democrats are so obsessed with Karl Rove leaking Plame’s identity and blowing her cover. Why shouldn’t the Democrats be obsessed with this? We should all be obsessed with it, because it is part of a bigger campaign to discredit the press, abuse the intelligence community, and falsify materials to further an agenda which is not supported by facts. Intelligence professionals should be interested in truth and not in political agendas. To apologize for someone leaking classified material and damaging our ability to collect intelligence on Bad Guys is, in my mind, onconscionable.

This goes for any political party, by the way. Sandy Berger swiping classified material from the National Archives is just as slimy as Rove outing Plame. Anyone who is that cavalier with classified material should go to jail and never be trusted by any other American again.

I’m also disappointed to hear the President say that he will fire anyone in his administration who is convicted of a crime. Last year, it was anyone who was involved in leaking classified material, the year before that it was anyone who was involved in the leak of Plame’s identity. Nice to see that he keeps raising the bar on what will constitute an offense worth firing someone. Of course, this is a President who has fired nobody ever, as well as never once vetoing a bill. Sounds like he doesn’t want to make tough decisions except in the case of throwing our military on a bonfire.

I leave you with one thought. Take it any way you please.
The oath of enlistment that I took when I was active duty includes the phrase, “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 19 Jul 2005 @ 10:22 AM

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 10 Jul 2005 @ 3:39 PM 

We got a MiniDV camcorder for our recent vacation – the best thing about MiniDV over older analog camcorders is the ease with which you can dump the video to a computer for editing, without losing video quality in the transfer. Strangely, I’d assumed the transfer would be faster than 1:1 – maybe it’s just my camera, but maybe I’m just hoping for more than is commonly available.

I’ve got one clip built for the eventual DVD, but it’s the clip from after we came home – Independence Day fireworks at the lake. Added some cool songs to the soundtrack, without obliterating the booms from across the water.

Now, to tackle the hard part – Disneyland. It’s a world of laughter a world of . . . well, it’s not a small video, after all.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 10 Jul 2005 @ 03:39 PM

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 04 Jul 2005 @ 2:11 PM 

And then we went to Arizona. Flagstaff, although not really a “destination” for our purposes, is a neat little city. The service at the restaurant was sluggish, but the food was quite good. I guess they do things at a different pace there.

The Canyon was the Canyon. Grand. Deep. Smoky. Yeah, we went during one of the biggest wildfires in Arizona history, so we couldn’t see the North Rim from the South Rim, and could barely make out the bottom at any great distance. Pretty darned impressive anyway, of course.
Grand Canyon

After seeing the deepest part of Arizona, we saw the highest point, Mount Humphreys, from Kendrick Park – a fine place for a picnic. The ravens cleaned up any crumbs quite thoroughly after we ate. 🙂
Mount Humphreys

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Jan 2019 @ 09:55 PM

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 04 Jul 2005 @ 12:15 PM 

After San Diego, we drove up the coast, getting to the Holland American store just as it opened. Then we continued past Santa Barbara and spent an hour or two in Solvang, including the Mission Santa Ynez. Alex scored a bag of candy.

Monterey! There is just so much cool stuff to do in the Monterey area that we ended up cutting out a lot of planned trips to do the unplanned.

Of course, we went to Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf to eat seafood and watch sea lions.
Seal on Rock

And we went to the fantastic Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we spent much longer than my usual 3-4 hours. I’ve never spent a full day at the aquarium before, but there was much to see and many people to push through.
Regal Tang

Alex got a stuffed sea otter, which has become one of his favorite sleeping buddies for the past week. We had some of the most inattentive service imaginable on Cannery Row, and made up for it with the best service on Fisherman’s Wharf (we love you, Fadi!).

We also went to two missions in the Monterey area, Carmel and San Juan Bautista. Carmel Mission is where Junipero Serra was buried, and San Juan Bautista includes a view of the original El Camino Real behind the cemetary.
Carmel Tower

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Jan 2019 @ 10:00 PM

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 04 Jul 2005 @ 11:58 AM 

We spent a day at the San Diego Wild Animal Park with my grandfather. He’s a member of the San Diego Zoo, so we only ended up paying for Alex’s ticket. Pretty sweet deal, and Grandpa knew his way around the park pretty well – he’s spry for 87.

Among the lions and tigers and bears, Alex also got to feed some lorikeets. Those little buggers sure can suck down that sugar water!

When Alex is older, we’ll go back during a cooler time of year and take all those long walks into the various habitats. Two miles of leisurely strolling is neat; two miles of dragging a recalcitrant five year-old is less so by far.

We learned a lot about the different animals in the park; I even discovered that Europe has bison too – who knew?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Jan 2019 @ 09:59 PM

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 04 Jul 2005 @ 10:58 AM 

We spent a rather long day at Disneyland, waiting in a lot of lines. This is the first time I’ve been to the park during tourist season, and it will hopefullybe my last. We got to see the big 50th Anniversary parade twice, and went on the big rides.

Alex and I started out with the Astro Orbiters – he only wanted to go up, never down. 🙂 We all went to Star Tours, which is just as cool now as it was nearly twenty years ago when they put it in. Always worth the wait, especially with the cool waiting area you get to hang out in. Space Mountain is closed until next month, so we went on Autopia, which reminded us that the FastPass thing Disney does is essential for some rides. When did Autopia become a popular ride? It was always a short line when I lived in SoCal, but definitely not this year. Hooboy.

Armed with the knowledge that the park was substantially more crowded than any other time I’d been there and that Alex really wanted to go on Splash Mountain, we headed across the park to get our FastPasses for that ride. Amazingly, at 11:30 we got passes to return at 4:30 that afternoon! While I waited in the line to get the passes that would allow us to not wait in a longer line, Angela and Alex went on the Pooh ride. He was very happy.

Then we had to hit the Tiki Room, which is just as over the top as always, although it is prettier now.

As the day progressed, we hit the Matterhorn, watched the big parade, met up with Dave and family, hit the Matterhorn again, attempted to go on Pirates (closed as we walked up, darnit), and shot Zerg with the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. All told, a pretty fun and busy day. We stayed through the final fireworks show, which is fantastic.

Alex and Nathan met a princess.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Jan 2019 @ 09:59 PM

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 04 Jul 2005 @ 10:35 AM 

Time to give all the expectant readers a recap of our funfilled two weeks away from San Angelo. First up, Tucson…

We went to the Tucson Zoo, which is pretty nice. The peacock put on quite a show for us.

And, of course, we spent a lot of time talking with my Aunt Bette. Alex liked playing with her Roomba vacuuming robot, and the dogs thought Alex was an alien creature.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Jan 2019 @ 09:58 PM

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 03 Jul 2005 @ 8:53 PM 

Lots of photos were taken the past two weeks. It will be a while to get a substantial number of them uploaded, but a starting set are up now, and more will come soon. Keep checking back, or hit the Gallery to see when new pictures are posted on our site.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 02 Jan 2019 @ 10:03 PM

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