The Best Protection Our Government Can Provide: Colors

Posted in MainPage at 9:53 pm by admin

I have added a new feature to my website. You can come here and see, each and every day, what your government has done to protect you from international terrorism. Don’t you feel safer now that you know that there are colors to tell you the odds that you are going to be affected by a terrorist threat?

I don’t.

To be honest, I think the colors are at best a waste of resources. At worst, they are a good way for the terrorists to gauge the likleyhood of success. At least they will be a good tool for this until we get so used to being at yellow alert that we ignore it. Then, Yellow = Blue = Green = whatever.

I will put money on the table right now to say that the terror threat level will never go back to green. What is the point? The only industry currently affected by this change is the airlines. The news stops reporting the threat level a few days after it changes. We are already numb to its effects. We will continue to become more immune until another 9/11.

At that point, we’ll probably sign away more of our civil liberties for a new color code.

Supplement: Colors

I got this information from http://teacher.scholastic.com/ and felt that it could be useful. I will update it if the color ever changes. Note, we have been in Yellow or Orange since the beginning of the system. We have been in an unwavering state of Yellow for nearly a year as of this writing. Does everyone feel appropriately terrified?

3/12/02 Yellow
9/10/02 Raised to orange
9/24/02 Lowered to yellow
2/7/03 Raised to orange
2/27/03 Lowered to yellow
3/10/03 Raised to orange
4/16/03 Lowered to yellow
5/21/03 Raised to orange
5/30/03 Lowered to yellow


Followup: to Supreme Lunacy on the Tirades page

Posted in MainPage at 9:52 pm by admin

Here is a story I tiraded about last year. It was, in fact, my most recent Tirade. I guess I’ve mellowed.

Anyway the reason I bring this up now is this story recently published in the Arizona Republic which follows up on the reason for my Tirade. I could not help but laugh at the quote: “Beware of what you ask for.”

I think the lawyers would have been better off if My solution had been implemented. <grin>


WE Need to Talk

Posted in MainPage at 9:50 pm by admin

About 23 years ago (as of this writing) I descended into the murky depths of Fantasy Role Playing Games, most notably Dungeons & Dragons. It was several years later that I finally clawed my way out. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the experience. I see nothing wrong with FRPGs. For me, however, they turned into something of an addiction. (Aside: for an amusing attack on FRPGs, inaccurate in its entirety, visit: www.chick.com For pity’s sake, an 8th level Cleric getting invited into some real life cabal, yeah, right. You gotta get at least four characters to 16th level before that happens. 🙂

From this experience, I made some life long friends and learned many valuable lessons in human interaction. My friends and I also developed some interesting (to us, anyway) thoughts on language. One was sparked by an article in Dragon Magazine which described the language of thieves in the D&D world. This language is called “Thieve’s Cant.” And is supposed to be this ultra-secret way for thieves to communicate. Dragon magazine published a primer on the language along with notes on some of its eccentricities.

Our favorite was the fact that Thieve’s Cant has two different words that each translate to, roughly, the first person plural pronoun, “we.” The first of these two “we(1)” words is used to indicate the speaker, the person or persons addressed and (perhaps) others. The second, “we(2)”, is the more amusing of the two. It means the speaker and some others but specifically excludes the person or persons addressed. They gave an example of the typical use of the second form that went, essentially: “You two guard the door while we(2) count and divide the treasure.” If one were to attempt to get the same meaning across in spoken english, one would have to emphasise and extend the terms “you” and “we(2)” and accompany them with several gestures.

We(2) began to refer to this second sense of the word as the “Thieve’s we(2)” while the first sense became known as the “Common We(1).”

This important but subtle distinction festered in our little minds to the point that we(2) noticed other uses of the overloaded word “we.” Such as, the “King’s we(3)” which means me and no one else, but we(3) are so important that “I” is insufficient to refer to our greatness. Then there is the “nurse’s we(4)” meaning only the singular party addressed, as in “How are we(4) feeling today.”

The final sense of “we” that we(2) identified, we(2) called the “Manager’s we(5).” This sense is typically used when assigning some particularly odious task or identifying a shortcoming. It’s meaning is intended to include the person or persons addressed, perhaps some others, but specifically not the speaker. A prime example of the need for this distinction is the observation, “We(5) need to be more careful how we(5) clean out all the human excrement from beneath the toilet tank.” Clearly, a manager would never involve himself in such a task, so the correct meaning of the word is obvious.

Props to my bud, D.M., who reminded me that I really needed to write all this down. We(5) may owe him a debt of thanks.

It should be noted that Dungeons & Dragons, D&D and Dragon Magazine are probably trademarks, possibly even registered ones, of someone and that this article is not an authorized work of any of those trademark holders.


An Amazing Thing

Posted in MainPage at 9:49 pm by admin

I work for SGI. SGI laid off 10% of its workforce last week. Given my track record, I would have assumed that I was in the 10% and not the 90%.

I still work for SGI.

Will miracles never cease?


So, OK, It Snowed a Little

Posted in MainPage at 9:48 pm by admin

A little lesson on the cumulative effect of: The Gulf of Mexico, solar heat, a low-pressure centered over New Mexico, the Rocky Mountains and up-slope cooling.

So, we had all of these conditions this week. The effect of the Gulf is that there is a large mass of humid air at sea level in the area of Texas. The effect of the sun is that this air is warm and stays humid as it crosses into Oklahoma and Kansas. The effect of the low pressure zone over New Mexico is that it forces the humid warm air quickly north through Oklahoma and Kansas and then west across Colorado. About a third of the way through Colorado, this warm, wet air meets the Rocky Mountains and goes up. As the air goes up, it must become less dense, hence cooler, hence less able to hold moisture.

Practical upshot of these effects? Three feet of heavy, wet snow on my front lawn, driveway and street in less than 2 days. I missed work on Wednesday. I could not get my 4-wheel drive truck turned up the street to get out of my neighborhood. So we stayed in.

Other effects that have only become apparent since digging out? We lost the top 6 or so feet of our blue spruce. Two of our neighbors trees were up-rooted and/or utterly destroyed by the snow. Nice green grass in the areas where the snow has melted. Apparently, grass loves snow.

We still have a few cubic yards of snow where the sun hasn’t melted it. Anyone want some?



Posted in MainPage at 9:47 pm by admin

2003, January 28th

Shoot. It went down. It went down BAD!!!!

I had to rebuild my server from scratch today and restore a 2 month old backup. Very little data was lost. The most recent comment, “Why did the cat cross the road?” is now gone forever. Oh well, it wasn’t very good anyway.

If anyone out there wants to take credit for crashing my box, send me email. I am moderately impressed by the thoroughness of the attack. I hope my more recent OS install is more robust and secure. We’ll see.

Love and kisses — Joel


Here Comes Santa Kitty

Posted in MainPage at 9:46 pm by admin

Some of you may know that I have a couple of animals that live with me. Specifically, I have a dog and two cats. You can see their pictures in the album, if you are interested. The black and white cat is named Sonic. Well, that’s part of his name.

Anyway, I got tired of cleaning cat boxes and cat hair and such and decided that the kitties (and my house) needed some fresh air. Both cats have all of their natural armements, and both have escaped in the past and returned, if not psychologically, at least physically unharmed. So, they are outdoor kitties now.

For those of you who think this is cruel, let me explain something. I live with two women who were willing to try to make me feel bad about kicking them out, but neither volunteered cat box duty as a means of convincing me. So, I have two outdoor cats now. Deal with it.

The other night, at about 3:50 AM, my wife and I both sat bolt-up-right in bed, awakened by some noise. I got up to investigate and Pamela went right back to sleep, secure in the knowledge that, whatever nefarious agent produced the sound, I would deal with it in the manly way that she has come to expect. Or she just didn’t think it was all that important.

Above I mentioned Sonic. He is the older of the two cats. He has obviously led a life of adventure. He is missing half of one canine tooth and has been a victim of general poor health since I got him but he can take care of himself. When I started down the stairs from the bedroom portion of the house to the main level, I was greeted by a smug and smudged Sonic on his way up.

“Hang on a sec,” I thought to myself. “This is wrong. I put the cats outside.” The fog clearing from my sleep-deprived mind, I set about to discover how Sonic came to be inside. It didn’t take long to deduce from the fireplace cover lying on the floor what had happened.

Sonic has always shown an unnatural interest in the fire place, which we have never used as a place for fires. Any time the cover has been opened or removed, he has wandered in to investigate. Apparently, the chimney is even more alluring. That’s right: Cat covered in soot + fireplace cover on the floor + cat inside + significant damage to cats face = cat came down the chimney!

Sonic’s little misadventure has lead to $450+ dollars in vet bills to remove the remaining whole canine tooth (it was fractured at the root and unsaveable) and general cleanup following surgery. Stupid cat. Anyway, I think the whole experience has convinced him not to try again. (9-1=8)

And, Yes, the cats still live outside. I am considering building them a candy-cane cat condo to commemorate the event. Maybe with a little sign that reads, “North Pole.” The real concern that I have at this point is, when winter comes, will Chip’s nose start to glow?


How To Doom a Centralized Management Project, Part I

Posted in MainPage at 9:45 pm by admin

Whatever you do, don’t survey your people! They have been doing this the Wrong Wayâ„¢ now ever since your organization began. What do they know about systems management? Ignore them. Just pass the edict from on high that they must “get with the program” if they want to see the project succeed. They won’t, so this is a good foundation on which to build your project.

The best way to begin the project (for ultimate failure potential) is with consultants. Bring in a lot of them. Do not announce their true purpose. Let your employees believe that they are here to help. Hold meetings with them where you plan the roll-out, but do not invite your own employees. These people could not possibly provide any meaningful input to such a sweeping change in your organization’s infrastructure. If you have one available, be sure to hold the meetings in some sort of aquarium meeting room that has blinds. Close the blinds only after your employees have begun to walk by to read the white board notes.

Consultants and your employees should be housed in different areas and if at all possible should have different work schedules. If your employees are metaphorically, or even actually, “punching a clock” from 9:00 to 5:00, consultants should work from home or have flex-time schedules. It goes without saying that consultants should not report through the same management structure as your employees. They should report to their team lead who reports to you directly. This builds maximum resentment in your organization. This resentment keeps you in control.

Once your people have begun to ask why you have all of these consultants who don’t seem to be “adding value,” it is time to move on to Part II. Do not move forward until your employees begin to ask. This is extremely important as the consultants may be able to repair the relationship you have worked so hard to undermine if you move forward too soon.



Posted in MainPage at 9:43 pm by admin

OK, it scared the holy b’jeezus out of me.

More importantly, due to a late start and head winds on the way back from Nebraska, I didn’t get home until about an hour and a half from when I was supposed to. So, my wife, who worries, grounded me. Who knows, I may be able to pick it up again after she calms down.


Flying Blind

Posted in MainPage at 9:43 pm by admin

Today I get to fly at night. That may be fun.

Then again, it may scare the holy b’jeezus out of me.

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