Monthly Archives: October 2005


Alex got a good haul of candy at the mall, and another bucketload tonight.

Why would someone be bringing little kids to my door at 9 pm? Geez, folks, get them to bed already!

RFID Chips in passports

Obviously, the government cares about the opinions of its citizens. We’re going to have RFID tags in American passports starting in about 12 months. When this was proposed, the State Department asked for comments from the public.

Out of the 2,335 comments on the plan that were received by the State Department this year, 98.5 percent were negative.

Damn. It’s hard to think of 1.5% as a mandate from the masses, but then…oh, yeah.

Another article has this to say:

U.S. government efforts to make passports harder to forge began in response to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

Now, I’m not 100% certain, but weren’t all of the hijackers on 9/11 here on legal passports, not forged ones? So…what does this do, exactly?

It reminds me of the ban on lighters, which was partially justified by saying that Reed was trying to bomb a plane with his exploding shoes, those shoes which he was trying to light with (wait for it) matches. Matches remain legal on airplanes. Just let it sink in for a minute. I’ll wait.

New toys!

I got two new toys this week – a CD player and a camera. Not too exciting, eh?

Well, the CD player is to replace the CD/MP3 player I’ve been using at work. That one, the original RioVolt from 2000, is still working, but it has poor battery life compared to newer machines, and no radio. I like having the radio as an option. So, I’ve been looking for a replacement for a while. I even bought a rebadged iRiver Slimx from Sharper Image’s clearance rack a while ago – it was inop on arrival. So, a new Sony Psyc CD/MP3 player is now on my desk at work. Unlike most CD/MP3 players on the market (like the ones two of my coworkers have), this one actually has an alphanumeric display. Go figure – you have 100 songs on a disk, it’s nice to know what the song is other than “track 75.” Oh, and 22-40 hour battery life with one AA battery – sweet.

My other new toy, the camera, is a bigger step. My first digital camera was the Canon Powershot S10, which was the smallest 2 megapixel camera on the market at the time, with the best optical zoom. After four years, it finally gave up the ghost. I tried to take a still shot with the camcorder recently – ick. So, when pinged me with a “for sale” sign linked to the new Powershot A610, I took a look. Half the price of that S10, uses standard batteries instead of the $35 ones the S10 used, over twice the resolution, swing-out LCD, double the zoom… Well, suffice to say, it’s sitting on my desk and it’s pretty sweet. It is slightly larger than the S10, even using SD instead of CompactFlash for memory, because it uses four AA batteries – this does lead to it working for 400 or more photos instead of the 150 I’d get from the S10, so I’ll accept the tradeoff. Still fits easily in a jacket pocket, so it meets my criteria of “the best camera to use is the one you’re willing to cart around.”

Ninja Boy striking a pose


Alex decided to be a white ninja for Halloween this year. Isn’t he adorable?

BTW, I installed Gallery2 this weekend, so any old URLs you had to my photo gallery don’t work.

Bill Kristol

Kristol is on the Daily Show. It’s nice to see Jon Stewart actually harassing someone for a change – when he had Bill O’Reilly on, it seemed like he was over solicitious, which the audience didn’t appreciate. C’mon, you got a conservative to come on the Daily Show – hit him!

Anyway, Bill Kristol seems like a thoughtful man, but he kept saying the phrase which drives me crazy when discussing Iraq: Weapons of Mass Destruction. Look, chemical weapons are bad; biological weapons are bad. But neither of those categories are weapons of mass destruction – that would be a nuke or a firebomb or napalm, you know: things which destroy stuff. Chem/Bio weapons are weapons of mass denial or weapons of mass casualties. To keep calling chem and bio WMDs is to make people confuse what Saddam didn’t actually have (but wanted to have again someday soon, admittedly) with the towers falling. It seems so transparent, to make people associate our own domestic mass destruction with Saddam’s regime in every possible way.

OK, rant off.

Blue Laws

I went grocery shopping this morning, as I usually do on Sundays. I thought I’d go ahead and pick up a six-pack of 1554, but then I realized that when I moved to San Angelo I’d moved to the 18th Century as well. Can’t buy alcohol until noon on Sundays. I have this good-looking cake recipe I want to try this week, which requires raspberry liquer in the mix. Not only can’t I buy that until afternoon, I can’t buy it in the grocery store. Although they’ve recently made it legal to sell hard liquor within the city limits, nobody is doing so as yet (licenses not issued I’m guessing). OK, fine. I know I’m stuck in Bibleland (thank you, Poppy Brite, for that term), but at least the liquor stores outside the city limits are available, right?

Not on Sundays. I don’t know whether it’s a law that they be closed or just that nobody goes to the sinful liquor vendors on church days, but they’re all closed until tomorrow. Guess I’ll make that cake another day.

Wild Things, I think I…

Just watched Wild Things for the first time. Two things occurred to me:

  1. I really shouldn’t try to watch television with my glasses instead of contacts – the prescription is just too far off.
  2. Never trust a homicidal maniac with millions of dollars.

Of course, I also realize that I don’t get to see Denise Richards’s breasts frequently enough, but that’s really not as surprising.

Local Professors and Intelligent Design

Our own local fishwrap, the SubStandard Times, has a brief article about the Intelligent Design debacle debate. One person quoted is a biology professor at Abilene Christian University:

”I see good evidence for evolution, but on the other hand, I see my body works almost perfectly. It seems to be a tremendous leap of faith to say this body is the result of total randomness.”

It’s not total randomness! To conflate evolution with purely random chance mutations is to deliberately mislead people. How is this guy a college professor? It’s not like you have just as good a chance to evolve something bad as something good – that’s the point; the bad mutations tend to die and the good mutations tend to out-compete the nonmutated organisms. Evolution is the only theory on speciation (not the origin of life – another common confusion thrown in) that has withstood the test of time and research. There has not been any serious debunking of evolution since Darwin’s time; it looks increasingly unlikely that there will ever be a legitimate failure found in the basic tenets of the theory.

Two other professors, from a non-religious university, say the same thing that every actual working scientist has said: ID isn’t science, it’s faith. If you want to believe in a deity or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, good for you. Just don’t try to use that belief to bring down science.

They also quote a Catholic Bishop, as the “other side of the debate” – there is no debate. If you want to have a theologian discuss his views on a subject that is not in his area of study, why stop there? How about if we use expert opinions on automobile maintenance from a grocery clerk? Why not take a biologist’s opinion about quantum physics as a legitimate counterpoint to an actual physicist’s research? Some things are not opinion – they are observed reality.

Bittorrent is awesome

Downloading the latest release, the much-anticipated version 2.0 final, via BitTorrent. I’m getting 3.85 Mbps, which is about as much as I can possibly hope for, considering my download pipe is supposed to max out at 4 Mbps. Freakin’ sweet, man. This gets me a 75 meg download in under 3 minutes.

Now, to install it and see how it compares to MS Office.

Birthday Wrapup

Alex turned six yesterday. Seems like just last week that he could only say things like “gup” and “joosh” – now he talks nonstop about just about any topic that pops into his head.

His mom got him a Spiderman game for Xbox, and a really cool model airplane. The plane has interchangeable bombs and drop fuel tanks and the cockpit opens to put the little pilot in his chair. He really digs the plane, which he insists is a “Model” not an airplane. heh

My mom sent him a check (much more than I remember any of my grandparents sending me when I was six, that’s for sure) and we had to go spend it. He ended up with a giant swamp-creature racetrack for his Hot Wheels cars.

He wanted to get up at 5:30 on his birthday, to open his presents as early as possible. At the usual wakeup time, he ran to the living room and ripped the paper off his two Hot Wheels toys, and then looked at the 1000-piece tub of Legos. This morning, he doesn’t even want to watch cartoons, he’s so intent on building stuff with his new blocks. He’s done a sword and a firetruck so far. I’m glad he likes building toys – it always seems more healthy to construct than to destroy, although there is always a component of destruction when the blocks have to go back in the tub. 🙂

Tonight, we go over to his grandfather’s house for more presents (I presume) and some dinner and apple pie. Yeah, he doesn’t really get into cake too much, and besides – he had some of that chocolate cake on Monday.

Overall, it seems like a pretty good week-long birthday, eh?

Another Black Forest Cake

Althought the traditional Bavarian recipe I have been using for Black Forest Cake has always been a hit, this month’s Cuisine Magazine included an alternate recipe. So, that’s going to work tomorrow. Well, I’ll keep a piece or two home, but most of it goes to my coworkers – I don’t need that much chocolate.

This recipe omits the chocolate mousse and cream cheese frosting, replacing both with more layers of whipped cream and cherries. And, the cake is noticably moister than the European norm. Unfortunately, it has to set overnight so I can’t taste it, but it sure does look good. Mmmm… chocolate and cherries….


Tonight’s new meal attempt was teriyaki chicken, stirfried veggies and edamame rice. Everything was a hit, except for the edamame rice. Not only did Alex not particularly appreciate the soybeans, the rice vinegar-laced rice was also not loved. Ah, well. At least the teriyaki went over well. Tomorrow is an old favorite – cheese-stuffed manicotti. Mmmm…

Teacher Fired For His Beliefs

A parochial school teacher was fired for his beliefs. He believed in the religious doctrine he was teaching, just not in the jingoism that was supposed to accompany it. He was fired for not displaying an American flag in his classroom. Here’s a bit of his own explanation:

bq. The whole notion that loyalty to country is connected to one’s religious faith is totally bizarre and unjustified.


This definitely qualifies for the category of Random, but what is a blog if not a place to spew completely trivial shit?

I have three sets of sheets for my bed; they are all green. I have two blankets; the one I prefer is green. I have two comforters; the one I prefer is green. Those final two preferences are not because they are green, but due to deficiencies in the alternates.

My couch and love seat – guess what color they are? Somehow, I ended up with a theme. Even Alex’s play room is painted green.

Equalizer Watch

This is quite possibly the strangest watch I’ve ever seen, and I’ve got a binary watch myself.

The little equalizer bars bop up and down, then two lights indicate the precise time. Bizarre, yet strangely enormous on your wrist.

Earthquake death toll rises to 30,000

Is it possible to even comprehend, on a personal level, what 30,000 dead means? Thirty thousand human beings, gone.

When I was 7, the town I lived in had 1000 residents – 30 of those towns are now erased from existence. When I was 12, the town I lived in had 300 residents – 100 of those towns are now gone.

When I went to see The Monsters of Rock in 1988, there were about 30,000 spectators in the stands – that entire stadium could be gone now, assuming that they were all from Kashmir.

Free Harvey Danger Album

Harvey Danger, the band which brought you “Flagpole Sitta,” has released their third album via BitTorrent as well as in stores. If you like the download, they’ve got Paypal set up for donations.

I seriously hope this is a succesful experiment for them. Any proof that bands can make more money bypassing the plastic-based distribution system (and the RIAA) would be a very Good Thing, in my opinion.

Air Show

After a few years of absence, there is once again an air show in San Angelo. Alex and I spent about four hours there today; I wanted to stay and watch the F-15, but Alex was getting cranky and hot, so off to the house we went. Or maybe he just couldn’t wait to play with his new airplanes that he conned me into getting at the show (yeah, gotta have souvenirs, right?)

The jet-powered pickup truck was probably the thing that most wowed the Boy, but the six-plane aerobatics team was pretty cool too. I got some good footage, so look for a video posting some time in the near future.

Time for a nap.

Piggie Boy

As I was putting his lunch together Thursday morning, I noticed that the head of lettuce from Monday’s dinner was a tiny spike-like stump in the crisper.

What other five year-old sneaks lettuce to snack on? What a kid.