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On the side of a hill in the deep forest green, tracing a sparrow on snow-crested ground,
blankets and bedclothes the child of the mountain sleeps unaware of the clarion call.
On the side of a hill, a sprinkling of leaves washes the grave with silvery tears,
a soldier cleans and polishes a gun.
War bellows, blazing in scarlet battalions, generals order their soldiers to kill
and to fight for a cause they've long ago forgotten

Friday, December 31, 2010

Ten Things I've Done That You Haven't

Because it's a meme.

1.) Had drinks with an officer that served in the German, Soviet, and US Armies (and in that order). He faced one of the first usages of ski troops, and helped create them for the USSR. Fought in more wars than I remember, and knew how to down Scotch and beer with great skill.

2.) Gave back talk to West German Border Guards who were carrying submachine guns while I was unarmed.

3.) Marched in the (Football) Hall of Fame Parade, 2 miles, in August, with a 60lb silver tuba, wearing a wool uniform and no people with water or towels marched with us.

4.) Played guitar in a rock and roll garage band, an award winning rhythm section for a jazz band, and for a record on vinyl, played tuba for orchestra, marching band, symphonic band, as well as playing euphonium and trumpet.

5.) Broke into every single building on the U of A Campus in one night (1am - 6am)

6.) Had a glass of hundred year-old port with $25 cigars on the Whitney Estate (as a make good for some conference problems we were having). As a side, the lunch buffet included lobster tail. Best food I've ever had.

7.) For a week we bathed in creeks because we had no showers available.

8.) Been at the controls of a helicopter.

9.) Saw a man in front of me die of a massive myocardial infarction.

10.) Looked up into the center of a tornado.

The Year of WTF

Just to recap, last year I saw my job prospects brighten, finished my first novel and got a pinched nerve as a going away present, had the bank take my job away, increased my freelance design work by an order of magnitude, relearned how to find a job, worked for the US Census as a midline manager, had my full novel critiqued, found a full time job that pays better than my old job (base salary, before OT), started retraining for a new career (and kept an A average), lost any free-time I had to edit the first novel, basically worked my little nubbies off, and have been dazed and confused ever since, lost and gained 30 pounds, been so tired I can barely see straight.

If we call it a year, will it go away.

Hopefully the new year will treat us all better.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Linkee-poo of One, because it's made of awesome

And most of the political stuff is depressing (in a "laughing our way to the grave" kind of way). Time to either stop the meds, get on the meds, or increase the dosage, people. And personally the "we're the victim here" persona of the Tea Party and their nominal leaders/stars is growing exceptionally tiring (and borderline paranoidal).

But to the awesome link.

As proof that there is a God and it loves us, unconditionally, the good people over at Monotype are releasing back issues of U&lc (Upper and Lower Case) as scanned PDFs (hey, this magazine predates the computer revolution, so no electric files are available, at least for the first twenty years of it's publication). There are links to the volumes on their blog. If you're an oldie like me, you remember U&lc. If not, and you love type, go and read. They are a mix of "what's happening in type", advertisement for monotype fonts, and a master's course in visual design (for both application and history).

Those of you who know just had a geekgasm. The rest of you are probably just scratching your heads.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pre-New Year Rambles

Okay, during the process of getting ready this morning, brushing my hair and combing my teeth, I kept telling myself to stick that little USB drive, with the backup of all my writing, in my pocket. Yeah, just take it with you today (as you normally did, before all this holiday nonsense).

Only I forgot. Not so bad, there's been plenty of times I've left it at home. Except that today I did have time for a regular lunch and really wanted to work on stuff. But did I put it in my pocket before leaving home? No. That would have been simple.

Yeah, I know, one of the argument for GoogleWorks or Dropbox. Except for not having broadband before, which made those solutions less attractive. And now for my dropbox account I have too many people linked to it (although it should only be to single folders, but I can't find the tool that would tell me who has access to what there so I'm loath to upload my writing there). And I like to be able to work on my stuff where ever without leaving log in notifications everywhere.

Sigh.

And I guess I can let the cat out of the bag here, I've restarted the rewriting and editing of "Bladesman." Like Inigo, I went back to the beginning. First three chapters, except for inserting four lines into Chapter 2, I didn't touch much. Which has me worried (although it shouldn't, the first 5 chapters are the most heavily worked on).

My friend Steve, has some thoughts about priorities this way. And it's true. It's also one of the reasons the majority of my blog posts since mid-summer have been linkee-poos. There hasn't been much time to do anything deeper (although I do try to add some of my perspective to the links).

Wanted to get through a few more chapters last night, but we're hosting the sister-in-law and she wanted to play video games. Sigh. Also fighting the urge to get World of Warcraft. Now I have broadband, playing it would be easy. Fortunately I'm a notorious cheapskate, so the idea of continuing to pay for a video game month by month that drags against my nerves. Maybe I'll be spared there.

This past weekend I think I watched as much TV as I have the whole past fall combined. At that point, where things lay with home life I didn't really have chunks o' time to devote to any one thing in particular, being on call to help. But now that those duties are settling down into both routine and with lesser urgency and need, I finally have some time to get back to the writing. Unfortunately the sister-in-law doesn't understand the "new can sit at home without anything on and without talking to each other and be pleasantly happy" routine. So I had to help with the video games (Lego Star Wars on the Wii if you must know).

Everybody I know on the East Coast seems to have made it through the Snowpocalypse okay. Glad to see that. Hope the rest of you had a great holiday so far. And here's to a more productive and less painful New Year to come. May it see us all to better things and outcomes than the previous year.

Story Bones - Two for the price of one

From Dan we have "A long range, cross-country skitter."

And then we also have, "Selling light, that's what I do, young man. I sell light to customers who are in desperate need. I capture the day, distill its essence into quiet bottles, and peddle the packages to those who no longer have time."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Linkee-poo is back to work but dreaming of eggnog

Writer Unboxed with just how bad is the publishing industry. Interesting take, along with some good links.

Jim Hines has a post up a the SFWA blog on his experiment with e-books. Pretty much bears out what I've seen elsewhere. For a flip side to this, my friend Ken McConnell has been self/e-publishing for a while now (including a recent short story collection). Ken has some success, but he's also poured a ton of work into his books. Even as a pro-graphic designer, it's more work that I would want to do for my own books (although I've been toying with doing a limited hard copy run of my early short stories, but only as an ego stroking gesture on my part). Just as a reminder, for the last numbers I could find from the recording industry, after a decade of e-sales of music, hard copy CDs still make up 60+% of unit sales. And listening to music is much different than reading a book (and easier to translate into e-sales).

Because who doesn't love a Rube Goldberg Machine and beer. Thanks, Vince.

And now, without preamble, DamnYouAutoCorrect. (sent from Dan)

Now that the cycle of the year is drawing to a close, there's plenty of looking back. TPM looks back at the year at Fox News. To reiterate, it's no wonder Fox News watchers are the most ill-informed viewers out there. "Won't hear this anywhere else," indeed. Because when you make shit up, you can't expect others to repeat it.

And, well, we knew this was coming. Didn't we? See, tax cuts are fine. No need to balance those in the budget, no matter how they explode the deficit. And it seems the conservatives want to make us like Greece, without really needing to. But hey, it's worked so well for Greece so far. Okay, not really. But since when has reality had anything to do with conservatives. They abandoned it long ago.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday at the Races

So, it's been almost a week with broadband at home and how are we doing?

There were several hours of no connection at all. Many times lost packets outnumbering delivered. Some moments of "sweet," but really not enough. Having troubles tonight. So I decided to do some checking.

Out of five traceroutes to high bandwidth sites (like CNN, Apple, Blogger, Amazon, etc) the earliest I hit a backbone router was 10 hops (to be fair, the first two are my wireless node and DSL modem). So, eight hops. With a lot of lag time (like 32ms). Three out of five crapped out after 15-18 hops (that is, the trace never reached the destination). Shortest distance was 12 hops.

Now for some big downloads I've hit the max speed of 150k/sec, although normally am running at 100k/sec. On Speedtest.net we were rated at 1.18mb/sec download, 0.24mb/sec upstream (which is normal that upstream is choked down on a home connection), ping was 119ms, servers were 150 miles apart.

I haven't had the heart to try hulu, or anything of a real heavy usage. Not like this would be the computer to run them on (being a ten year old laptop).

And now you know why I wasn't all that hot to upgrade.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thinking About the Old Town

It's snowing in Southern Jersey (where I grew up, well, at least until 6th grade, which, as some of you know, is as far as I got). So not exactly a white Christmas, but good enough for that part of the country. See, it's about a rare as hens teeth to get a good snow there (we used to have school cancelled on account of a quarter inch of snow, nowadays I don't even get my snowblower out for such a small amount). So, to all my friends back in South Jersey, Happy Belated White Christmas. I hope you all are safe, warm, dry, and out of harms way.

Linkee-poo wonders why it's Boxing Day is nobody else is wearing gloves

A discussion of story versus sentence. Well, more of a discussion of where story lies. Is it the words we read, or the plot we follow. Of course, in my personal opinion, it's a dance of both. Plots, or story arches, can be told several million ways (just look at how often the plays of Shakespeare are recreated, like this weekend realizing that "Christmas in Connecticut" is a retelling of "12th Night"). Story at it's basic level is, "there's this character, and something happens." Words are the way we dress up the story. As is discussed, a well constructed an interesting plot can survive clumsy words, and in my experience words can carry you through a clunky plot. While a well cooked steak can be fabulous by itself (yes, I've had one or two that required no dressing), and a well made sauce can make a third rate steak palatable, when you put both together, if the balance is off, the taste will fail. If the balance is correct, it is heaven on earth.

Well, I guess they're not terrorists or Marxist (or even radical feminists), you know, if they're fighting our enemy. It's like the 80s never happened. Hello, conservatives, you all like history, time for you to really learn it (instead of adjusting it to fit your preconceptions and support your political ideals like the Texas State Board of Education). Or do I really need to mention how Saddam was our man (even meeting D. Rumsfeld as we handed of chemical weapons), or the Taliban had our support when they were fighting the Russians, and then that pesky little fact of Osama getting a few weapons from us. Yes, you know, we should probably drop the designation. But until we do, really, you don't go and speak in front of them. Especially if you've built your career out of labeling people terrorists and saying how we should have a zero policy regarding them. But it just goes to show the old adage (the one Giuliani, Ridge and Mukasey publicly denounced) that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

And I guess it's not an abuse of power if it's all about the Jebus. Seriously, how does this man (Sheriff Joe "Mad Dog" Arpaio) still have a job in law enforcement? I know, it's all about how good he makes those of us law abiding civilians feel that he humiliates his inmates. 'Cause, you know, they're bad people. Well, wearing pink, or being stacked to the rafters in military surplus tents (sans heating or air conditioning) is one thing. Being forced to sing to receive a descent meal? Yeah. Line crossed. But those federal charges of improper accounting and billing federal funds without proper bookkeeping will probably spell the end of his career.

And now that CNN is reporting on it, can we finally accept it? To quote the article, "The richest 1% of U.S. households had a net worth 225 times greater than that of the average American household in 2009." Average household, which includes that top 1%. That's how big the distortion is. Sure their wealth plunged 27% between 2007-2009 (the recession in case I have to remind anybody), but the rest of us plunged 41%. Sure the report is from the Economic Policy Institute, a "liberal" think tank (although the EPI is officially a "non-partisan" think tank, since most of their research supports the liberal point of view, they're lumped in that category). Here's a link to their preliminary report release.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Merry to You


Hope you and yours had a safe, warm, and wonderful holiday. And may our New Year bring better things.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dear Santa,

Please bring me more time and a brain with which I can spend writing. I appreciate the gifts of this past year, not only one job but two, good friends, increased freelance work, a warm home, enough food to eat, and enough to share with others. But if I can be selfish for the New Year, I'd like a little more time to write and the brain power to focus on the writing work.

Thanks ever so much.
Me

PS. Hope you all have a wonderful holiday filled with all you desire and all you need.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

OMG, Sarah Palin was right!

Hey, look, a real Death Panel™. And, strangely enough, it's a Republican Governor and Republican controlled state house. Good thing we didn't do that public option, so, you know, we wouldn't have government death panels. (Note that the legislature receded the approval for a heart transplant, all, you know, to cut costs)

Linkee-poo considers an early day

To atone for the dark nature of yesterday's video, the Silent Monks Singing Halleluia. You're welcome. No, I'm not cleaning your keyboard.

And for my friend, Jim, whom I know loves the Carol of the Bells, in Claymation.

Catherine is having a naughty or nice drawing for a copy of Swill or a copy of Hulk Hercules: Professional Wrestler.

Bryan Fischer continues to go around the bend. Seriously, it's getting close to the time where the nice young mean in their clean white coats show up with the tranq-dart gun.

Here's an interesting chart showing US Senate Cloture Motions. You know, those are the things that end filibusters. With the 110th Congress, Democrats gained a limited majority in the Senate, their first since the 102 Congress. Yeah, that's a pretty big bump there in the 110th. So when the conservatives start their patter of "they started it first" whenever anybody talks about the unprecedented use of the filibuster, now you know the real story.

And since I harp on and on about it, good to see the Tea Party talking about accountability. That's an article about the loopholes in the proposed 112th Congresses House Rule regarding the "transparency" platform (that all bills will be posted for public review for 3 days prior to vote - which the Library of Congress already does).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Season's Gifts

My neighbor restrained
his inflatable fetish to half his lawn
in sympathy of my yard's nakedness
this season.
His makeshift creche,
populated by plastic Jesus plus attendants,
shines blessed light through our windows
all the night.
The three wise men positioned
on the side
like a panel of talking heads
giving running color commentary
and prognostication about what
the scene means.
No matter how hard
they argue over each other,
each morning finds
them in the same place.
A shepherd boy moderates
their quibbles and whispers
without the sense to wear
shoes in this snow.
Half the size of real people
and losing their gilt,
the hollow wise men stare down,
electric lights up their bums
giving the impression of intellect,
carrying their tribute.
Typical of talking heads
the gifts are of little use
to a family with a newborn.
Gold, frankincense and myrrh of all things.
Myrr, spice of the dead.
Gold is somewhat usable,
since the other gift they bring,
the hidden gift not shown,
is the sure knowledge of impending doom,
the wise men's stock and trade.
When the world comes crashing in
gold will help, they say.
But I can't help wondering
if the patient smile on Mary's lips
isn't her biting them instead
to keep questions internal;
if a box of diapers
was too much to ask,
or a proper blanket.

a link of one

Lately there's been a lot of silliness surround "Christianity" and its precepts and teachings. It's part of the reason I really want to write this other book (and soon, the world is ending March 21st, dontcha know). There's plenty of fodder to make fun of because people who extoll others to "read their Bible" so frequently out themselves as those who haven't. Or at least, didn't comprehend what they read.

And that includes Bill O'Reilly who repeated some utterly despicable and easily booted comments about Christianity and what it means to be Christian. While I could point to Colbert's take down, or several other prominent people's responses, instead I'll point here. As that blog post also works though Bill's response to the controversy.

To paraphrase Inigo Montoya, "You keep quoting the Bible. I donna think it means what you think it means."

(link grokked from Vince)

Linkee-poo considers if eggnog is on his diet

One of the many reason I love Neil Gaiman. His poem, "Nicholas Was" made into a video. Guess you'll never look at a department store Santa the same way again. Happy Christmas. (Warning, not a happy fluffy video, no gore, work safe, but very dark in its implications)

This is a little old, but one of the reasons I love my genre. There's so much in this story about Katie who loves Star Wars. It's a story about the social pressures to be "normal," it's a story about how it gets better/bullying, and it's a story about a little girl who just had her world expanded beyond her grade school (which so many kids get locked into), and it's a story about being the person you want to be. It's practically a whole dissertation, which I won't bore you with. Again, I love my genre, you all rock.

Some more typographic humor. So, are you a comic sans criminal? Strangely enough, I had a conversation with my doctor about this. No, really, I did. Just on Monday during my physical. He brought it up when he learned I was a graphic designer.

It's the new game, Are You Smarter than a Fox or CNN Viewer? Actually, that's a Christian Science Monitor article on the recent poll that showed just how wrong people were by which outlet they got their news from. Fox, of course, polled the worse (including Democrats who watched Fox). NPR didn't fare all that well, but did better than most. The article includes an interactive section where you can answer the questions yourself (their interactive part is a little annoying, but okay, at the end you get a tally). Why, yes, I did get 11 out of 11. Thanks for asking. (Grokked from Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

So, you know how all those people who like to spout that "We're a Christian Nation: don't respond well to the argument about, well, just which flavor of Christianity should we be? After all, they're all the same, aren't they? Not really. But we'll all get a long. You know, the Freedom of Religion means the freedom to choose which way you'll worship Christ (as compared to also including the Freedom from Religion, but that's an existential argument that's also tripping people up with the Individual Mandate proposition, that is by refusing to buy insurance you're engaging in commerce). Well, consider this the first (public) salvo agains the whole, "as long as it's Christianity, you're good." So Methodists aren't good citizens, being followers of Karl Marx, at least according to Judson Phillips. Well, Mr. Phillips, since TP followers are lovers of history, it might behove you to know that the Methodists were instrumental in expanding this country into the new territories and settling the West. Right here in NE Ohio, the Western Reserve was mostly given over to Methodists to help settle (both to the Americans and to the Indians). Seems some people just want to get the hate on, no matter what reality is like. Again, tea partiers, this is your leadership (yeah, I know, wide spread grassroots, no real leaders, blah, blah, but these are the people who are speaking for you on the national stage).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Solstice

The shortest day of the year arrived and the year died. Hear the ancients revels, their echoed voices call our blood. Burn the yule log, drink the ale. Bring greens within doors and light fires on hilltops. The year turns.


Enjoy the full moon on the Solstice while you can. It isn't going to happen again in most of our lifetimes.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What did he say?

Dear Sen. Jon Kyl,

I've heard you think it would be disrespectful to the second holiest of holidays in the Christian calendar to work the week after Christmas. What holiday is that, Sen. Kyl? Kwanza? That's the week after Christmas. Boxing Day? Wait, only those Canadians do that.

So what holiday is being disrespected? Christmas? Here's the thing, Sen. Kyl, many people will be working this Christmas, and not just those who work in Chinese restaurants. And most people will be working the week after Christmas. Only a few factories close down, and all of retail and service industry jobs will be working (unless they take vacation time, and then, depending on their workplace rules, they may not be paid for the holidays).

Grow up. Only kids in school get the full week off.

Just how much do you make, Sen. Kyl? I mean as your straight salary for being a US Senator? Don't you think that entitles the good people of Arizona your work ethic? Don't you think that we should expect your butt to be in the office after the weekend? I understand that time away from the Senate doesn't mean you're not working. I expect that you'll be spending your holidays fund raising and meeting with your interest groups. Here's the thing, your day job is expecting you to be in the office. For the rest of us working folk, that means we dump the other plans and get our butts into the office. The good people of Arizona don't pay you for fund raising, they pay you to do the work of the Senate.

And just like those kids in school, Senator, you only get your ice cream if you eat your broccoli.

Maybe you shouldn't have been dragging your feet after the November election. Maybe you shouldn't have been dragging your feet for the past two years. Maybe you should have been doing your job all along.

In case you're wondering, Sen. Kyl, I will be at work next week. And I have plenty of reasons to not being there. But I have a job, so I will be there. You have a job, sir, I suggest you be there too.

Warm Christmas Wishes,
Your Non-Constituent

Not so much crow, but humble pie? Yum.

So, this morning my local telecom had an "emergency" opening and we got our DSL installed. Thirty minutes later and we're cooking with gas. At DSL speeds (current top speed I've seen, 110kb/sec). So they were able to get it done before the month long wait they initially quoted.

But then they also called at 8am with a "we can come over right away" message. Fortunately I'm taking some time off (yeah, not so much, see earlier comment about having a work laptop) because of aforementioned Obscure Updatery. So that worked out. Only took 30 minutes, compared to their estimated 3 hours.

So, we can haz broadband.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Can it be December 21, 2012 already?

So I'm sitting here watching the history channel. They're running another ZOMG Apocalypse programs (you know, one of the "Biblical" ones). And some conservatives will begin to make the argument for reduced NPR/PBS funding with the argument that "educational" programming can be handled by the likes of Discovery and History channels. Yeah (and before you all say, no they won't, understand that the last two times they've cut funding they've used that argument, so I don't expect them to change their tune this time).

This one is running through the "7 Signs/Seals of the Apocalypse." Oh my. One one end they have "biblical experts" talking about what God will do, some of these same "experts" (I'm looking at you Jenkins) extol us to read the Bible literally, but now their willing to talk about how John of Padmose Patmos was really describing (insert modern version of plague, war machine, whatever). Yeah, I know, expecting them to have their logic remain internally consistent is like asking penguins to soar like albatrosses. They might be able to fake it for a while, but then there's a splash at the end (puffins, which are related to penguins, flap all to often).

The you add in the scientists who appear to be talking about things in a very abstract sense (ie. not referring to biblical prophecy). And then you mix it all together... and it basically says nothing, but if you're willing to believe in end time prophecy, could be very scary and shows that science proves the Bible. Including the inference that science is studying some natural phenomena because it may be connected to biblical prophecy.

And then you have Jenkins who just made the comment about having never seen science disprove anything the Bible says. Well, that's easy to postulate when you refuse to acknowledge what science is actually saying (ie. saying that Darwin is wrong, when, in fact, all biology pretty well confirms his main thesis). And there's one guy (missed his name, sorry) who says that "once these things come to pass, students of the Bible will recognize them as the end days coming upon us." Really? Shall I recount the many, many, many times students of the Bible have said, "Look, there's the signs..." only to be proven wrong?

Plus, as a "student of the Bible" we are already in the End Days. Revelations was about the fall of Rome, specifically the Emperor Nero. Nero, the original anti-Christ, is long dead. The "End Times" are behind us. This New Jerusalem is certainly a lot grungier than John said it would be.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The moments that make up the dull day

So my boss has offered me the chance to work on my scheduled vacation days, so, you know, I don't have to take as much vacation. Oh sure.

So that's what I'm even doing today, because that's what I do. I like my vacation days and would like to eventually use them for a real vacation.

However, something has gone kablooie with the external hard drive I've been working from. So I'm spending the day repairing the thing instead of progressing on real work. Sigh.

Hope your weekends are going much better.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Obscure Updatery

For thos of you who don't know what this is about, don't worry. It isn't anything I feel I can talk about openly. Just know that it't not an emergency, it's a planned proceedure. And this will take me away from blogging for a little bit (although I'm finding I have some time right at the moment).

For those of you in the know, just a little updatery. Everything went the way we thought it would. They did end up having to open up instead of laproscopocally. We're resting well, in more pain than is usual. And we are looking at a discharge date of tomorrow.

Sorry for being semicryptic but I know some of you were concerned and getting in touch with everybody isn't possible at the moment. I'm disabling comments for this post. Just know we should be back to our regularly scheduled programming early next week.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Anatomy and Physiology I

Over and done. On the last tests I scored a 48/50 on the practical and 98/100 (106 possible with bonus). While I scored higher than the average (84/100), I still didn't break 100, which is disappointing. Seven people did (highest score was 104). But then, I also missed the last week of lecture because I had to be in Natural Bridge (photos forth coming) for business. If I've done the math correctly, I'll still have a 101% grade.

So now that class is done, I can apply for the Radiologic Tech and Nursing (Evenings/Weekend option) programs. Expected wait time, two years. Maybe longer. My app credentials are, tested out of basic math (well, I did pass Calc II in a previous life), 99th percentile on the placement test, A on Cell Biology and an A in A&P I. I wonder if that qualifies me?

While waiting to get in the program, I still have a few classes I can take: A&P II, Med Term II, Microbiology, and a speech class (because the butt-head chair doesn't want to return calls, no, serious, I've been giving public speeches for 8 years every month, I've been a panelist at conventions, etc. and you don't want to talk about testing out?). All the other prereqs and outside program courses will then be done. Oh, yeah, I also have to take CPR (of which I used to be an instructor back in the day) and get a ton of immunizations.

There we are. Fortunately I have the same professor for A&P II, he's really good. Tough, but he knows his subject and he imparts the material with humor and enthusiasm. Four weeks until classes start again.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hey, ho, way to go Ohio

Well, as Dan knows, I'm a notorious cheapskate when it comes to paying for anything online. At my home, my local community can get cable modem access form the local little telecom. Except for my development. Apparently the cable the developed buried has too much noise to signal ratio and the local telecom is unwilling to replace it, or to install the signal repeaters where they have line extenders. About four years ago I was supposed to be a beta tester for their new DSL equipment. Never was. After it was installed (two years later), I asked how much per month.

$45, for DSL, from a 3rd tier provider (no, seriously, I've done the trace routes, 8 or more hops before getting to a backbone router, you aren't a 1st tier no matter what you want to tell me). Yeah. In 2008, $45 for DSL. So I said no to that.

Now I need to have broadband in the home so I can connect to my work servers. The local telecom is offering a bundle where adding broadband will get it to me for $30. Still highway robbery when DSL is $20-$25 elsewhere. And, again, not exactly sparkling service.

Then can install it on January 18th. You know, because we've had a big snow storm. Uh, yeah. Telecom FAIL!

So, you know, when I hear about letting business regulate themselves, or removing regulation blah blah blah. Yeah, not so much. A month plus time frame because of the "big snowstorm?" Really? Hello, roads are clear. I just went stomping through my yard with boat shoes on (I didn't want to take the time to lace up the boots). A month? You know, if I could actually get tech support from you all ("we don't know macs" - um, bits are bits), or I cared about the other crap you offer, I might be a little more agreeable, but basically over the ten years I've been here I've been reduced by to just needing the local telecom as a dial tone to the internet. Because I can't get anything else to work (yeah, I'm sure you've solved the problems by now, when I can't get your email to work for a month, sorry, don't need it anymore).

Really, 10 seconds away for ordering a Verizon MiFi device. It might cost me more, but it'll be faster, and I probably can get it tomorrow (if I had time to get to the store).

Linkee-poo stares into the snowy abyss

Dan point to a leaked document (no, not those leaked documents) about the EPA registering an insecticide that may have helped contribute to bee colony collapse. Great. Thanks, guys. BTW, you're the ones who are supposed to be protecting us from this kinda crap. This is what happens when you run your government "like a business" and put ideology above empirical data.

Tobias is talking about economics. Specifically how Germany went from the economic drag in the EU, to it's main driving force (in fact now Germans worry about other countries dragging them down). The article he links to also has some good info, and is in direct contrast to where the US Economy went. Notice how their stimulus helped them respond quickly when the world economy showed signs of recovery. Notice how they're heavily unionized, and not focused on the finance sector. Hmm, pretty much the opposite of what we're doing (and especially opposed to those loud voices doing armchair quarterbacking of the economy). The article doesn't mention, however, that one of the reasons the German economy wasn't considered so strong was the lingering effects of unification, which it seems they've finally surmounted.

Ken McConnell wants to remind you to buy his new novel, Tyrmia, this Friday. Ken's doing some cool work. You should check him out. You know, if you like big space stories told from a personal view.

And you may have heard of a judge in VA finding the individual mandate clause in the HCR Act as unconstitutional. How can you miss it. It's been on the news every 15 minutes, if I counted correctly. It's horrible, it's tragic. We're all going to hell in a handbag and that nasty law can get tossed out now. You know, except that two other Federal Judges have already ruled it Constitutional (didn't hear about that? Ah, your liberal media at work). And the judge in question has made a few basic errors. Not to mention, part of his decision is based on a conflict with a VA Constitutional Amendment which was passed specifically to disallow an individual mandate. Except, last I checked, Federal Law trumps State Law (which trumps Local Law - there are exceptions, as when the local law is more restrictive/punitive than the higher law, but it can't change the circumstances or definitions). Of course, the judge is a GW appointee, and so puts ideology before actual facts, IMHO. Oh, you haven't heard he was a GW Judge, unlike when a decision is handed down form a Clinton appointee and you hear about it all over the place? Yep, your liberal media at work again.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Commercials These Days - the Curmudgeon is Curmudgeonly

There's this Heineken commercial which shows an event with dancing (probably a wedding). The player gets two Heineken from the bar and goes to ask hot chick to dance. On way to table he sees another player strike out. There's a moment of being shaken, then he develops a plan and moves in, gives the girl the Heineken, and then asks the older lady sitting next to the hot girl (presumably the mother) to dance, while eyeing the hot chick he dances with the mother. Hot chick then gives the eyes down, head lowered, "he's so cute look, I'll give in," movement.

Instead my brain says, "Aw, he so cute working my mother to get to me." Yeah, that's the kind of guy you want to date.

Then there's the new Ketel One Vodka ads. The one with the hunt club (guys who go to bars to pick up chicks, but often then leave together recounting how they could have had the hot chick, if they wanted to) that's standing outside the club in the rain and then hail a cab, only to have the cab taken by two hot chicks. Three guys, two hot chicks. But it doesn't matter because the guys let the hot chicks have the cab and then give each other a "well, we scored points with that." Yes, you scored points with the hot chicks you'll never see again, oh, and who probably didn't realize you gave up the cab for them.

Tag line? "Ketel One Vodka, for guys too dumb to get out of the rain while waiting for a cab."

The ubiquitous "buy a car as a present" commercials. Really? Ah, the gift that keeps sucking your wallet dry. It's a wonderful gift with a 60 month recurring bill. Also add in to this the "get a cell phone for the holidays." Uh, yeah. Gee, thanks. Glad you got me the $50 a month data plan and four year contract. I don't know what to say.

And then there's the "Santa Sells Everything" ads. Gee, I'm glad there's a War of Christmas, because if I saw one more commercial that has Christmas Lights, Santa, etc I think I'd have an overdose of saccharine cookies and egg nog. Hell, even the TCM set where Robert Osborne gives us the low-down on the movie (actually, I really like that) has wreathes with candles.

And then, because you can believe everything you read on billboards, the Rapture is coming March 21, 2011. Damn, I won't have my book done by then. I wonder if I can a money back guarantee on that? Another candidate in the long line of Millerites.

And thinking about billboards, remember how we were going to see the GW Bush, "Miss Me Yet" billboards all over? Yeah, I haven't seen any either. I guess we don't miss him at all.

One Linkee-poo, all the others are delayed on account of snow

Let the waffling begin. Yeah, see, tax cuts don't add to the deficit, because it's only spending that adds to the deficit, not anything like, say, cutting your revenue source without cutting spending at the same time. No, nothing like that. Hey conservatives (ie. the Tea Party) who promised to hold peoples' feet to the fire, I'm waiting. And to paraphrase someone, how's that "can you hear us know" chanty thing working so far (and keep in mind, the conservatives aren't even in power yet). But, as I see the news, the Tea Party isn't so much against the tax cuts as they're against more "stimulus" spending (actually mostly more tax cuts) and extended unemployment. Which reminds me, heard a news report last week how one Tea Party activist is angry about any (and I mean any) unemployment benefits ('cause it indoctrinates people to not work and expect to be on the dole) even though when he was unemployed for 6 months last year he made damn sure he got his checks from unemployment (I believe it was as I was dial flipping in Virginia and landed on Rush). Irony, surely thou art dead.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Linkee-poo contemplates the snowpocalypse

Forecast for tomorrow, via WYSU, "A fair amount of snow." The final is tomorrow. And I need to get studying.

A few years ago I did a post describing an epiphany about editing. That was the realiziation that not only did I need to edit the words I was using, but I also needed to edit the story. I don't think I described it very well (although I grok it, I think). However, Benjamin Tate does a better job of describing what I meant. Yeah, scene economy. Add in a little of scene timing and order and you have what I was getting at.

Random Michelle shares excellent comparison. Yay cookies! And for the "Do you know someone who visits terrorist-related websites?" Why, yes. Yes I do. Most of them work at Ft. Meade.

Well, that didn't take long. I'm sure if we don't call them earmarks those people who elected us on our platform of ending earmarks won't really notice. Ah, that principled conservatism.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Linkee-poo is saying it's cold outside

When I was in art school, one of my favorite photography subjects was the sky. And I took some pretty cool pictures. None, however, match up to these. I love heavy weather (including the album) and those photos are just fabulous.

Tobias shares the apps he can't live without. I'm surprised to find several I'm already using that I never talked with Tobias about.

And a PolitiFact article on Bernie Sanders' claims (of income distribution inequity). Kinda strange to have an actual Socialist (as opposed to the "Obama=Socialist" errors going on, which stem from the November 2008 RNC meeting where they came out saying that basically "Liberal" no longer had the stigma they had worked so long to engender it with - see GOPAC Memo - so they decided to use "Socialist" instead) speaking truth to power. The article has links to the research that shows the inequality.

Story Bone

From misreading my blog reader (I sometimes transfigure several lines of text into one mashed up text, it's my own reading disability).

"Reading at the speed of Star Trek."

I have no idea what it means, but it's pinging in the back of my head. Maybe it'll do something better for you.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oh Lord, stuck in Roanoke, VA

Trying to get back to Ohio. Currently sitting here in the airport. My original flight was delayed. However the earlier flight was also delayed. And then there's the larger plane out of Philly that they brought in and are transferring to the earlier flight, which was supposed to leave at 5:30am. So they're transferring those of us on the 11:20 flight to the earlier flight, which will now leave at about the same time as my original flight. You all got that so far?

Joy. But the good news is that I should make my connecting flight. However I haven't had any time to crack open the book to study. And with the doubled up flight I doubt I'm going to have the room to do so on the flight. Happy happy. Fortunately I think we're benifitting from the legendary southern gentileness.

Not a good way to start the day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Did You Ever Notice

That there are people in this world you just don't seem to be able to have anything go well for them? Especially when it involves dealing with other people who are providing services. That their food is delayed or their bookings get screwed up or reservations get dropped.

Have you also ever noticed how those people typically aren't the nicest people to deal with, even when you're not in those situations described above? The people you'd rather gnaw your own arm off instead of having to deal with them?

Yeah. I'm beginning to think there is some causality here. One that they don't seem to understand.

Lost in the weeds

Still in Natural Bridge, Virginia. It's pretty cold here, but then it's cold all over. Bette tells me the snow is over the high boots. Glad we got the snowblower.

Very tired. I'm not getting much sleep (never do when on the road). Also not studying much. I have cracked the books, but not much more than that. This weekend is going to be long with my nose in the book.

Trying to keep up with the world. Lots of people have seemed to have lost their minds out there. But that's nothing new.

But we all shine on

Miss ya, John.

It was a cold December evening and I was walking through the Christmas tide
When a friend came up and asked me if I'd heard John Lennon had died
Then the two of us when to this bar and we staid to close the place
And every song we played was for the Late Great Johnny Ace.
Late Great Johnny Ace - Paul Simon

Sunday, December 5, 2010

At the airport

Dear US Airways,

I'm at the airport two hours early as prescribed by current advice. Nobody is at your checking desk so I can check my bag. I would say this was strange, but oddly enough I don't expect better from you.

Your pissed customer who will make it a part of his profile to never fly you again.

edit PS if the recommendation is to arrive 2 hours early, then you should schedule your workers shifts to start 2.25 hours before the first flight.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

On the tax vote

Hey, I've got an idea. We have consensus on tax cuts for those making less than $250,000. Lets divide the bill into smaller pieces so we can have a straight vote on each. You know, like the conservatives argued for HCR, Cap and Trade, Wall Street Reform, etc, etc. Cause, you know, we can have a vote and be on record for just what we're for and what we're not for.

Well, that's really what happened today and you can see just how good that idea was. It was bull then, it's bull now.

Can't wait to start asking, "Have you read the bill?" I think us progressives can pick up some protest signs cheap.

Dear fellow Democrats, stop the long worded explanation. Just say, "The conservatives are holding the middle class hostage to give people who don't need tax cuts more of your money." Then get into how the Republican's haven't found a way to offset the costs. When the try to turn it back on you, explain that you didn't run on that platform, they did. It's their own ideals they've abandoned before they even take power. Calling them hypocrites goes over people's heads (either they don't really understand the word because it's been over used or they expect all politicians to be one, however they're still upset when the actual action happens, they just don't care about the word).

Forth coming scarceness

Not only are things going to be busy from now until Christmas, what with all the work, class, and general disruptness of living, but next week I'll be in the wonderful state of Virginia as a sales training event. Joy of joys. And did I mention it's the week before finals? Ah, I'm filled with the holiday spirit. Or filled with something.

So posting here and keeping up to date with you all may take a little more time than I'll have. Next week I'll be learning our product lines, traversing the political minefields, and generally trying to control myself so I don't smart off in the wrong direction. And then at night there of course if the team building (read as "partying"). Plus I'll need to go through two lectures' worth of material on my own, not to mention studying for the final test.

Have I mentioned I haven't started the holiday shopping? Yeah. It's going to be some crazy weeks between now and then. Hopefully I'll have some extra down time to start edits on the novel and short stories. If not, hopefully with the time I'm taking off for some other responsibilities I'll be able to get more writing done then.

So if I don't see you before hand, I'll see you on the other side. Play nice. Don't eat too much chocolate.

Friday, December 3, 2010

For those of you writers out there, one more link today

Jeff VanderMeer shares his hard copy edits to a story. If you think your pages bleed from the amount of red ink on them, just look at that picture.

When Teresa Nielsen Hayden ran her party trick (ie. "watch her edit your story in real time") at VPXIII I asked her if so many comments were usual for a submission level manuscript. She said yes, but I always had a sneaking suspicion she was trying to make me feel better (or at least that's what the goblins gibber in my ear as I go to sleep).

So this helps. Thanks, Jeff, for sharing.

Linkee-poo wonders where Friday had been hiding all week

As a counter to the video on new writers I give you Tobias Buckell on it being about the journey, not the destination (which I think the main argument in the video was the over focus on the destination). As a related comment, there's a line in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance about why they took the trip to Bozeman on motorcycles instead of flying there, which would have been faster. I don't remember the main quote, but it was something about wanting his kid to realize that it's about the journey. If they flew there, Bozeman would have just been a destination easily reached. Instead, by traveling there on motorcycles Bozeman becomes a goal, but one you spend most of the time in arriving and leaving there and not being there. It makes the being there time more magical.

And related to that, here's a post by Jim Hines over at SF Novelists about "overnight success."

And another SF Novelists post about leanring to love grammar. This ties in to a discussion I had last night where the person I was talking with mentioned how they edit lots of text subordinates create, which was strange to them because they never really liked English in school and doesn't know all those fancy words. Well, you really don't need to know them. You do, however, have to know how the English language (or whatever language you're writing in) goes together. That may be a complete zen-like understanding or a highly technical competency. It doesn't matter which.

Eric pretty much sums up why when I realized the Republican Party had betrayed it's own core values and I left seeing the fight they've been experiencing for the past decade (that is the fight over the social conservatives control of the agenda and platform) that I reregistered as a Democrat instead of an Independent (as most people in my position did, which is why the Independent vote most often swings conservative).

And finally a semi-political link. Richard Dawkins reads his hate mail. (Warning: video contains vulgarity which is NSFW)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Linkee-poo looks to the stars above and the mud below

The search for xenon biology just got a huge lift (or will, if the rumors are true, we'll know later today). A bacterium has been discovered (reportedly) that substitutes arsenic for the phosphorous the rest of life on this planet (that we know about) uses. It'll be interesting to see if this is just a chemical swap, or if this means the DNA is a completely different lineage (and strengthens the hypothesis that life on this planet wasn't a single event) or if they mean that the cell uses arsenic the way our cells use phosphorous. Phosphorous, if you don't know, is the main energy carrier in your body's cells. It helps form a molecule called ATP, which had three phosphorous atoms hanging off the end. Snap one off (phosphorylise) and you've got your energy. Your main cellular energy production (Glycolosis, Krebs Cycle, Electron Transport Chain and ATP Synthase Gated Channel) is all about making ATP from ADP and Pi. That we now have a bacteria that uses a form of arsenic to store and use energy is big. Huge. Will it mean faster microwaves (1 minute for a hot dog is too damn long now)? No. But it means the "special Earth ark" theorists just got dumped on and the possibility for extra-terrestrial life grew by a magnitude. Sarah Goslee has a better breakdown of what news we have so far, which is to be expected as she's a pretty damn good biologist.

Okay, I've joked on other blogs about the new TSA procedures and that the new machines and pat-downs won't detect explosives hidden in body cavities, and it's just a matter of time until we have to submit to a full body cavity search. Seems I'm not the only one who has thought of that (ACLU blog article on how the ACLU will oppose those, too, once they get here, which uses the same logic I did). The money shot, as usual, is at the end, "… but when Americans make that decision, they should do so with their eyes wide open, without any illusions that this will prevent all attacks on airliners, much less attacks on shopping malls or all the infinite number of other plots and targets that terrorists could come up with if they are not stopped by competent law enforcement and intelligence agencies." Yeah, that. Remember the conservative mantra of "fighting terrorism isn't a law enforcement issue"? So how come all the latest terrorist attack attempts in the US have been foiled by law enforcement?

December Harvest



Shivers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wednesday's links cry cold tears in a dry land

First up, all around hoopy frood and fellow VPXIIIer (The Fightin' 13th!) has her first published story up at Electric Spec. Go read and enjoy.

For the love of all that is holy, I'm going to be a writer. I think my heart just stopped. Bwahahaha!

The first time I met John Scalzi, okay the second time I talked with him, I mentioned something about wanting to be a writer. You could see the switch being thrown in the back of his head and any interest in continuing the conversation, on his part, went away right then. Too many people have had a similar conversation with him. Hell, I've had it too many times myself. (It was only after he discovered I was involved with a professional level critique group that I think I redeemed myself, somewhat.)

Sometimes, however (especially in the last half of this year), I feel like I'm playing the part of the male bear. Maybe not to that extent (and, yes, I've had very similar conversations, to varying degrees, but I can say I've had people hit the high notes in that video). At least I don't bring the rank cluelessness with me (I don't think I ever did, but then I also have a faulty memory and friends are welcome to correct me here).

The blog reader is up over a hundred again. And this is after I've knocked out all the reporting from Tor (really getting annoyed with seeing the same article pop up 3 or 4 times). Just not enough time in the world. And then when I do have time, it's spent trying to recoup instead of getting ahead. Including staying up late trying to relax instead of sleeping.

Here's an interesting poll. I wonder how many conservatives will be called out on just what the "will of the people" is when they talk about extending all the cuts. Permanently. Because, despite the headline of that report, the data shows a majority want either all the Bush Era Tax Cuts to expire, or at least do so for the wealthy. A majority larger that what the Republicans got voted into Congress with (even with gerrymandered districts). No. I doubt they will either. Your liberal media at work.

And a look inside to all those shiftless people hanging on the government dime, not really doing anything until their unemployment ends. Uh. Yeah. While the Democrats and Republicans gear up for another round of playing chicken with people's lives, I've been repeating to myself that many people in this country have never experienced social upheaval. If you think letting the tax cuts expire for the rich is the most horrible thing that will ever happen to them, you might want to reflect that at times in this world, when the poor went hungry and it looked like the burden wasn't being shared equally (as in, "as to your prosperity, so too your debt" or rajadharma) the rich were drug from their homes and at best were incarcerated by the new governments.

Look, I know a few people in the Tea Party movement. I've had some knock-down-drag-out conversations with them. So, yeah, I don't think all of them in the movement are idiots or racists. However, it seems to be a pattern that their titular leadership and most vocal supporters in public office keep outing themselves as such. Seriously, people, if you want me to take your movement seriously you're going to have to deal with this instead of ignoring it. That is, of course, as long as the TPM isn't actually just a front for social conservatism (which it's also appearing to be more and more). Going about saying, "We're about lower taxes (read as: "No Taxes!") and 'Constitutional Government' and we don't want to have any more platform than that," and then continue to put forward and elect these kinds of people, if you have the other stuff as your platform or not, you'll be known for it. The rest of us will fill out your platform for you by observing those people you put in office.

Come Cold December



And I haven't read the manual for the snowblower yet. Fortunately I never took the one scraper out of my car last year (thought about that on the drive in).