Archive for April, 2009

Memento mori

StillLifeWithASkullIt’s definitive – we are having a 20th year high school reunion.  I’m not entirely certain how I feel about the whole thing.  Thinking back, I don’t have too many fond memories of high school.  In fairness, I don’t do well with event-type recollection, so I don’t have too many memories in general from that period, but my overall sense is that the past 20 years have been much better than the 3 at CLA.  I will admit to a certain morbid curiousity about the reunion and my high school classmates.  General predictions: 1) the correlation of popularity to success is less than or equal to zero; 2) while we are all adults and more than twice our age at graduation, cliques will reform immediately at the reunion; 3) people who enjoyed high school will have a better time at the reunion than those who didn’t; and 4) I’m one of, if not the most, liberal members of our .  🙂

I still don’t know if I’ll try to go to the reunion or not, but either way, I’ve thought more about high school this past week than I have in a decade.  If I hadn’t thrown out the year books (I think), I might go through them and see what all I’m forgetting.

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Specter (D-Pa.)

It looks like the average IQ of democratic senators and the average IQ of republican senators have both declined today.  Hopefully there will be a 2010 challenger in the PA democratic primaries.

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The lonely possum sketch

If only we could get Carol Burnett to highlight the plight of the lonely possums on the muppet show.  Of course, she would get all interupted by Gonzo’s dance marathon, but hey, rehabbers will take what they can get.

K got in a solitary young opossum last night.  Sad little girl (the possum, not K… at least to my knowledge).  Dehydrated (definitely the possum) and underweight (both actually!).  Hopefully she’ll make it (both again):

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Vint Cerf called . . .

… and he and Tim Berners-Lee want you to stop breaking the Internet.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had several occasions to be invited into someone’s walled garden on the internet.  You know the places.  Lovely little sites that are entirely self-contained and which you can’t access unless you are a member?  In the old days, Compuserve and AOL were the big walled gardens.  These days, it’s Facebook and Linked-In.

These two social networking sites provide easy access to various tools for maintaining a web presence, but also keep enough meta-data that it’s easy to track down other people that you are likely to know.  FWIW, I have no problem with the meta-data aspects of the site.  If you want to find people that you may know due to past associations, well more power to you.  The concern I have is that once you go beyond those functions and start using the internals of the garden to maintain information, well, then the only people who can see that information are those who belong to that garden.  Even that is fine with me if the information is private and should be restricted through some form of identity management and authorization; but what if you intend the information to be public, should everyone have to come into the garden to see what should be public?  What does restricting the information to only those with (Facebook) accounts do for you?  You aren’t controlling access, you are just making the owners of your walled garden a little richer by increasing the popularity of their sites.

I mentioned that I’ve had several invitations respecting walled gardens recently.  FWIW, two were on Facebook.  A few of these are related to my upcoming 20th high school reunion (er, actually, that should be 20 year – technically it’ll be our 1st reunion and at this rate, our 20th will be in the year 2389) and seeing someone’s pictures, or viewing our class group or….  The other was a friend who stopped blogging publically (for the most part) and is now (as I understand it) “writing on her wall” (which is a wonderfully ironic image for this post).  The Linked-in request was to “recommend” someone professionally.  Okay, it’s true that I do belong to Linked-in, but I use it as an online rolodex, not as a way to keep in touch with what former colleauges are doing.  I don’t “recommend” people.  I don’t ask to be “recommended” and I don’t really keep up with what happens.  As far as Facebook?  Not participating and not joining.  Use the (free) tools that are available like flickr for images and blogger or wordpress for blogging.  In the meantime, if Facebook and/or Linked-in ever open up to the rest of the Internet, then maybe I’ll look at your images and read your writing.  But if they don’t, then you’re restricting yourself to only a subset of the people on the Internet.

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oh, and You Kids Get Off My Lawn!

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William Wallace on wildlife releases

They may take our rehabilitation bins, but they’ll never take… our FREEDOM!

On Sunday, K release some baby water turtles that she had been over-wintering.  Fortunately, we’re all of a mile from a good place at which to release turtles, Jordan Lake, so we didn’t have to drive too far.

The big one in the image set is a male (note the long nails for better, um, gripping) slider and the other three are painted turtles (you can see the orange on the underside of the shells in the images in the gallery).

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Links take you to the full set.  Oh, and for those wanting to take pictures of fish or reptiles in water, circular polarizers rock. 🙂  I do wish I had a better depth of field on some of the images, but it was a cloudy day, I needed the speed and I don’t like using an ISO greater than 800.

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Harvest time!

For the first time in about 10 years I planted a garden.  We are always drawn to shaded lots, so we’ve never had a place for one before.  Even here we’ve got five acres… and they are all wooded.  Normally?  Great.  For a garden, it’s kinda the suck.  This year, I decided to plant a garden in the right-of-way/frontage and the heck with what the neighbors think.  So, raised beds to avoid the clay soil problems, fencing to keep the deer out (btw – know any bow hunters?  I may be a vegetarian, but the deer are getting on my nerves), and we’re set to go.

I started planting late winter/early spring crops back in February and they’re starting to come into harvest.  The picture below is from a week ago and the plants have since grown significantly larger.  Last week we did an arugula [1] and basil pesto, this week it’s been a salad and probably spinach quiche [2].  I think that by the time everything starts to bolt, it’ll be warm enough for summer vegetables.

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Let’s see, clockwise from the bottom right, the boxes are growing: 1) spinach, arugula and leeks; 2) kale, lettuce and a mesclun mix (not to be confused with mescaline – that’s a completely different plant 🙂 ); 3) broccoli, beets and fennel; and 4) peas, carrots and turnips.  Yeah, I went a bit overboard.  I figure that we’ve got about a month for harvest, the kale/lettuce/mesclun will wrap up first.  Last will be the broccoli/fennel/beets plus the leeks which won’t finish developing until late summer.

Footnotes:

[1] It seems like every liberal type I know who has planted a garden is growing arugula.  FWIW, I suspect there are two reasons for this: 1) it’s awesome, and 2) it’s a big FU to the republicans who thought that “arugula eater” was an insult.  If it makes you happier, call it rocket – the southern corruption of roquette.

[2] Yeah, don’t give me that “real men” b.s.  We’re talking about a meal with a pie crust, cheese, cream and 3 or 4 eggs.  It’s a heart attack waiting to happen, which as near as I can tell is what makes it something a “real man” would eat 😉

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Chatham tea party

Tomorrow is April 15th, tax day.  And in case you’ve missed it, republicans, flat taxers, gold fetishists, racists, defense nuts and other extreme conservatives are planning to host tea parties tomorrow.  Tea parties?  Yep.  Protests, harkening back to the days of the Boston Tea Party when proto-American patriots dumped tea into Boston harbor to protest taxation without representation.  Tomorrow’s tea parties appear to be a bit less principaled.  Some protestors are objecting to the Bush tax cuts on the top 2% expiring in 2010… as they were scheduled to do by republican law makers.  Some protestors seem to object to having lost the election in 2008.  Others object to bailouts of home owners… or is it bailouts of banks… or is it bailouts that don’t help their bottom line?  Some seem to object to having a black president.  Others are Ron Paulites who seek to restore the gold standard?!

In celebration of all you crazy right wing nuts out there, I threw my own tea party tonight:

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From left to right, Blue wants to restore the gold standard.  Java (the cat) is upset that, while he only earns the median income of $35,000 or so right now, he might have to pay an extra $0.04 for every dollar he earns over $250,000… assuming he ever earns that much.  And Mr. Bun-bun?  Well, he doesn’t really have a grievance.  He’s just here for the tea-bagging.  Note the carrot and apparent oral fixation.  Now there’s a true republican for you!

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Eeek!

Some of the more social people from my high school class in Louisiana are apparently putting together a reunion.  They’ve managed to track down maybe 90+% of the class and have just sent out a (scanned?) copy of the senior class photo.  I defy you to find more 80’s hair in a picture.  The sad thing is that I can’t put names to the majority of people here.  Maybe 10 at most.  I guess that either means there’s no point in going to the reunion or that I really, really need to go.

CLA-1989

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April Fools Day

I’m never a big fan of April Fools day, mostly because I’m too guilible for my own good.  That said, on occasion I get in the mood.  This year, a colleague and I discussed sending out an email to the staff of our company, regarding the IT infrastructure.  We got permission from the boss, because, well just because.  Here’s the text that we sent out:

April 1, 2009

Dear Employees of XXX,

We have been tasked by XXX’s management to identify appropriate solutions for XXX’s computing needs.  As you may know, Microsoft will be terminating it’s support for Windows XP.  With complaints about Windows rising, and the looming lack of support for XP, we began considering a company-wide migration to Linux.  However, Linux is based on the Unix (Posix) standard which is almost 40 years old.  For that reason, we have settled on the latest operating system from the same inventors: Plan 9 from Bell Labs.  http://plan9.bell-labs.com/plan9/

Plan 9 is the latest in research operating systems and should be a great fit with the work we perform at XXX.  That said, Plan 9 may not support all hardware that we own.  In order to ensure a painless transition, we ask that all employees review the Plan 9 “Supported PC Hardware” page at http://plan9.bell-labs.com/wiki/plan9/Supported_PC_hardware/index.html

Fortunately, Plan 9 has a large supported software base.  Common software such as Python, GCC and TeX are fully supported in Plan 9.  Other POSIX programs can be compiled through the use of APE
(http://plan9.bell-labs.com/sys/doc/ape.html).  Common desktop tasks such as word processing and web browsing can be accomplished through the pre-installed OpenOffice (a MS Office clone) and one of the Plan 9 web-browsers (Mothra, Abaco or Charon), respectively.  Unfortunately, Mathworks, has not yet seen fit to port Matlab to Plan 9.  We are confident that by using APE, we will be able to port Octave as an
acceptable alternative.  This transition will have the added benefit of drastically reducing our licensing costs.

We anticipate that this transition will benefit XXX greatly in the long run and that you will grow to love the Plan 9 experience.  We look forward to working with you over the next twelve months and anticipate
completing the migration by the next April Fool’s Day, April 1st 2010.

Insincerely,
Chris and Mark

We did have at least one person think we were serious and a couple of people that we had going until they finished the email.  All in all, not too bad for a half hour’s work last night.

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