Yeah. A few quick links for you today. Maybe more later in the day, but maybe not.
- Soucheray’s column, Winter winds now bring the howl of cell phones, and the article Are Minnesotans becoming worse snow drivers? both look at yesterday morning’s snow. I didn’t think it was that bad at all. There was a little ice under the snow on sidewalks and such, but I thought the roads were pretty good even at 8am. I don’t think the problem is so much the snow as the fact that people are assholes. One near call I had yesterday was caused by a guy who didn’t even try to stop for a stop sign. I was watching the side of his car and both his front and rear wheels were rolling (rather than skidding) as he blew through a stop-sign right in front of me. But watching his wheels clued me that he was going to try and turn, so I could figure which way to dodge around him. [press-patch]
- The Daily wants parking meters in town to Accept our dimes, please. I run into this pretty often myself. I have a ton of change in my truck, but am often out of quarters because that’s all the meters take. Shrug. Sometimes I just take my chances. Sometimes I buy a roll of quarters at the bank. Maybe there needs to be a college course on planning ahead. Of course, they’d probably make it a 5000-level class with prerequisites you could never fulfill. [daily]
- Apparently folks are concerned about the Bunge, a grain elevator near me. But Project for Pride in Living thinks the Abandoned building holds promise, and is thinking about buying it, tearing down the grain-silos, and turning the tower (and the rest of the land) into condos. Seems like a cool plan, but I wonder how many more condos the neighborhood needs. [daily]
- The Proposed transit worries businesses along Washington Avenue in Stadium Village here in Minneapolis. They’re afraid that the construction will kill their businesses and the light-rail line will only help places next to stops (and will probably bring in a “bad element” but that goes unsaid). Yeah, that’s a concern, but when places like the Sporty can survive two years of construction on Como, plus a smoking ban, plus having to switch to 3.2 beer, I think most of the owners who are worrying on Washington need to calm down. Construction won’t stop students who are walking anyhow. If you’re running a business near the U and can’t keep people coming in, a proposed light-rail line isn’t your biggest problem. [daily]
- On the other hand, if you’ve got a problem with teenagers hanging around and want to chase them away, check out the mosquito; Teens don’t want to hear it. It’s like one of thoe ultra-sonic pest elimination thingies, scaring away vermin with high-pitched noise, except it actually works. Not sure what frequency they’re using, but it’s high enough that most folks can’t hear it after they’re 20-30 years old. [fark!]
- A site called Open Web Design would like to make the web a prettier place.
So depending on when you look, you might get two updates for the price of one. This morning I woke up early (because I went to bed early), and figured I’d get in a quick update before venturing out into the inch or so of snow that might have ice underneath it. I’ll find out in a few when I head outside to shovel, I guess.
- Warren has a fine rant about how Statism Comes Back to Bite Technocrats. Nice work. Three main points: 1–You don’t have the right to decide how other people should live; 2–You can’t make better decisions for other people, even if you are smarter, because everyone is different; 3–Technocratic idealists always lose control of the game, which leads to fascism. Amen, brother.
My Life. Not Yours. Piss off![coyote blog]
- People keep pointing to The Ultimate Geek Gift Guide from Wired. There’s not one thing on there I want. Am I a crappy geek? I don’t think so, but I’m just not that enthralled by TV at the moment. HD-TV? HFK? [instapundit]
- The Washington Post reports the Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity. Let’s see…
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.[slashdot]
- Well, it had to happen eventually. Cybercrime yields more cash than drugs. But then it’s only 4% of the people who can spot all the phishing attempts in this quiz, so I guess that’s not all that surprising. [slashdot]
- Want to find some new music to listen to? Tell Pandora a band or song you like, and it’ll play you some similar stuff. Seems to work for me. Cool. [fark!]
First day on the new job today. Went pretty well, all things considered. Well, one thing considered. Apparently the leftovers from last Wednesday were not still good yesterday, so I spent until about 3am with my body desperately trying to purge the no-longer-good food. Oops.
So basically this means that rather than having time to do much blogging tonight, I’m going to be hitting the sack early, and trying to catch up on the sleep I missed last night. Sorry. More tomorrow, hopefully.
Well, it’s time to switch schedules. With the new job beginning tomorrow, I’m probably not going to have the time in the morning for these updates, so I’m going to start doing them the night before. Not sure exactly how it’ll sort out in the long run, but we’ll try this for a while, eh?
Not too much of note for the weekend. Friday and Saturday each had a few errands. Sunday was rainy and icky out and I mostly stayed in and got a couple last things crossed off the to-do list. Added about twice as many to the list, so it ends up not feeling all that productive, but I guess it’ll have to do.
- I haven’t been reading Maciej Ceglowski much recently, but Joey pointed to his essay on Secret CIA Prisons in Poland:
I expected better of both the US and Poland, too. Sigh. [accordionguy]
There’s an almost absurdist irony to the situation. The reason Poland and other countries in Eastern Europe are so unabashedly pro-American is that for fifty years, America stood for the antithesis of this kind of behavior. Poles knew full well about secret prisons, torture, incarceration without trial, and secret services that operate outside the law, and they looked to the United States as a society that stood against this kind of arbitrary exercise of state power.
Fifteen years later, we have television shots of Polish and American generals standing side by side in in fraternal solidarity in Iraq, and now perhaps hosting a special little Polish branch of an American secret prison system. There’s a déjà vu to this that I hope other Poles will find as upsetting as I do. And I get to feel the shame from both directions, since my adopted country is colluding with my native one to break the laws of both.
- This year’s Dudley Hiibel is Deborah Davis. She was riding a public bus in Denver when ID was demanded of her by a security guard. She refused, and got roughed up and arrested by Homeland Security Officers for her impudence. The ACLU is helping her fight the jackbooted thugs in court. [claire]
- Wanna keep yourself out of databases that could be used against you (perhaps for identity theft)? Follow Hoofnagle’s Consumer Privacy Top 10 and you’ll be a little safer. [schneier]
- An irate Canadian gives Visa pennies for his thoughts, paying his bill in a series of 985 installments, which led to a half-inch-thick statement. Why? He’s upset that his Canadian bank is outsourcing credit-card-processing to the US, which doesn’t follow Canadian privacy laws. The bank’s response?
One option is to close the account, because we do get the message here…[fark!]
- Fox News runs down the Worst Ten Technology Products of the Year. And then backs up, and runs over them again, just to be sure. [fark!]
Are you headed out for the “biggest shopping day of the year” today? I’m certainly not. But I’m also not observing Buy Nothing Day. After a stay-at-home Thanksgiving, I need to head out for some groceries. I also need to get new inner tubes for my trike. I filled up the tires last week and hauled the trike inside so I could set it up on a trainer for the winter. But two of the three tires have already gone flat. One had a pretty obviously questionable valve-stem, so that doesn’t surprise me, but the other looked fine (and had air left from summer), so I’m wondering if maybe I somehow screwed it up in the course of refilling it. In any case, I only have one spare tube at the moment, so a trip to the bike shop is in order.
But that’s probably going to be the extent of my shopping today. Most of the shopping for prezzies is happening online again this year, and my mailman has been complimenting me on how much of the shopping I seem to be getting done already. There are a few presents that will require a trip to the store, but I think other than booze, I can get everything online this year. And boy, am I thankful for that!
- Not good news: Minneapolis robberies are up 21% over 2004. I’ve been seeing a lot more crime alerts from the Minneapolis Police Department this year, too. Hasn’t really affected my behavior walking around, but I’ve tried to be more alert lately. [strib]
- The Strib says a Double-digit property tax jump is looming in most Minnesota cities. Well, I faced a 12% increase this year (due to an increase in the assesed value for my house). Another 10% bump will definitely get my attention. But the problem isn’t just (as Larry Pogemiller says) the Pawlenty administration’s
mismanagement of the state-local fiscal relationship.The fact that cities continue to spend like drunken democrats in the face of decreased revenue doesn’t help matters much. [strib]
- Mitch exposes some Government-Enforced Mulligans For The Rich! Reminds me of the Davy Crockett speech about government charity: It’s Not Yours to Give. Or take. And I wish all the people who keep talking about using government to
cure social injusticewhile claiming to be anarchists or libertarians would think harder about that. It’s Not Yours To Give. [mitch]
- The Box O’ Truth investigatges The Locks O’ Truth, seeing just how hard it is to shoot off a lock. Cool experiment. And as they point out repeatedly,
Shooting stuff is fun!I spent over an hour looking around the site. [jwz]
- The Saints open season early in new league, slightly earlier than they ever have before. And yes, the complete schedule has been released. They’ll finish the season before Labor Day. [press-patch]
- Stuck in phone menu hell? The IVR Cheat Sheet to Find a Human can help. [slashdot]
- Karl Jones produced a photo-mash-cartoon about Donald Rumsfeld’s Time Travel abilities. [some guy]
Today, I’m not sure how to start my daily ramble, so I guess I’ll just dive in. Yesterday, I was sure everything was going smoothly, and I’d be starting a new job next Monday. I was excited and a bit nervous, and spent the morning taking care of a bunch of things that I need to do while I still have an extremely flexible schedule (and watching the sidewalk guys finish putting in my railing). Then I started filling out the reams of paperwork needed for the new job, and came across the following sentence in the employment agreement:
No weapons are to be brought onto the property.
Suddenly things are not so clear any more. As soon as I read that line, I thought of the way AOL fired three workers in Utah for having guns in their cars, a dozen Weyerhauser employees were fired at the start of hunting season for having guns in their cars in rural Oklahoma, or the way that Oklahoma’s law that was designed to clear things up is being fought by employers. Things in Minnesota are not clear at all, but as I read it, they can probably ban weapons in the parking lot.
That’s where the problem arises. About a month ago, during the interview process, I specifically asked whether I would be allowed to keep a locked, cased gun in my truck in the parking lot. One of the things that appealed to me about where I’ll be working is that it’s close to one of the ranges I frequent, and I wanted to be clear on whether I’d be able to swing by the range after work without having to make the 20-mile round-trip back home. It almost makes the idea of a daily commute appealing. Nobody mentioned the prohibition (but to be fair, I wasn’t told that one didn’t exist, either — I think the answer I got was along the lines of
you should be okay, but I’ll double-check), and we kept moving forward.
But now, when I see that sentence, I worry. It isn’t even specific to guns. According to the TSA, the Leatherman Pocket Tool that so many geeks carry is a weapon. I’m sure that the chef’s knife that’s part of the tailgating supplies I keep in my truck year ’round is a weapon. And that worries me almost as much as what will happen if I decide I’m going shooting after work some day. I don’t want to be a butt-head, but I also don’t want to get fired because I want to head to the range after work or because I brought my usual cooking tools along before heading to a Saints game.
I guess the thing that bothers me the most about this is that I asked about this in advance. I probably should have followed-up when I didn’t get a clear answer right away, but I didn’t. And now I worry because I’ve been vocal about gun-rights and that might set me up as a target. I understand that this is a complicated issue and had hoped the employment policy would allow me to continue to avoid making a hard decision, but it appears that’s not in the cards.
Oh yeah, and there’s something about a bunch of turkey tomorrow. I think I’ll make mine Wild Turkey.
Updated in the early afternoon: It’s not really about guns.
- A gal at MIT asks What’s a Party Without Trying Some Lines? as she studies what kind of pickup lines work best on men. About the only one that didn’t work was
Hi, I’m Sarah. Can I pee in your butt?It’s part of her Dare Me? series, and I’m pretty sure I’ll end up reading all of them. She’s a good writer. [fark!]
- In 2001, MSNBC wrote about how you could get cell-phone records for just about anyone. In this year’s follow-up, I still know who you called last month, they point out that you can still get the records, and it’s usually done by someone calling up your cell-phone company, pretending to be you, and asking for a duplicate copy of your records. Yeah, all those elaborate safeguards a guy has to deal with to get through to technical support are sure protecting our privacy! [fark!]
- I don’t rail against sexism very often around here. Hell, I usually celebrate it. But I find myself wondering how many years in pound-me-in-the-ass-prison this Florida Teacher would have gotten if she’d been a guy instead. And her attorney had the gall to say prison would be too dangerous for someone so pretty. I’m not especially disturbed that she didn’t get more jail time, mostly that a guy would be facing a much harsher sentence for the same crime. [war on guns]
- Schneier has comments on an Australian Minister’s Sensible Comments on Airline Security which caused quite a stir down under. Probably because she’s right about it. Taking away my nail-clippers, butane lighter or baseball bat or political button just doesn’t make the flight any safer, and what’s shocking is that a politician actually pointed that out. It seems to me that the whole
War On Terroris like the Yankees declaring War Against the Drag Bunt. And about as productive. [schneier]
Once again, it’s the middle of an extra-short week already. The week before Thanksgiving always seems busy to me. Partly that’s because I usually spend some time on Thanksgiving weekend banging out the annual holiday letter and getting the Christmas cards ready to go. Partly it’s because there’s at least one dinner on the schedule. But it’s been five years since I flew out of town for Thanksgiving, and I was really hoping I’d be able to do it again this year. Sadly, all the cheap overseas flights were full by the time I got my passport back this year, so I’m staying at home.
That’s just as well, I guess. There’s a lot to be done around here, and I start a new job on Monday, the enormity of which is just starting to really sink in. My schedule’s going to see some pretty darned big changes next week, and I’m torn between trying to get everything in order around home (which I already know is a lost cause) and just relaxing and enjoying the last few days of freedom.
- Warren hits again with a short gripe about how government is Criminalizing Everything and that takes a lot of the fun out of running a small business. I’m not going to say that it’s the only reason I’ve taken a full-time job with another company, but it fits nicely with my new-hire packet which tells me that I’m working for a company which specializes in
1099 Risk Management(I start as a contractor, and will be an employee of a contract firm). I’m not positive, but I suspect it’s probably easier to start a new small-business in China now than it is here in the US. [coyote blog]
- Ooh. Here’s a good letter to the Congress-critters from a citizen [who] questions loss of freedoms at home, while we’re busy
making the world safe for democracy.It’s a damn fine letter. [tcf]
- Here’s comes more bad juju for Sony: EFF Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Sony BMG and Texas sues Sony BMG for spyware violations. Couldn’t happen to a nicer company.
- Ted Stevens is finally admitting it was A Bridge Too Far and has removed the earmark for $320 million of funding for the Gravina Island bridge. It’s not much of a victory, though; the money’s still going to Alaska, just for other road projects (which were presumably already funded in the transportation bill). I just hope people keep the porkbusting in mind come the 2006 elections. [instapundit]
- Minneapolis will be allowing More turns on red. There are currently about 500 signs in Minneapolis telling you you’re not allowed to make a right turn on red, and they’ve decided to do a systematic review of them, and only keep the ones that actually improve safety. The vast majority will be going away. Cool. [metro mpls]
- In some more somewhat good news, Senators Threaten to Hold Up Patriot Act. They’re not actually improving anything, though. They’re just holding things up until the House puts back a few minor protections the Senate had added which were removed in the conference committee. Again, this isn’t really any sort of victory, just a less brutal defeat, but I’m taking hope wherever I can find it. [kirsten]
- Bruce Schneier talks about Surveillance and Oversight of the FBI, which is directly related to the renewal of USA-PATRIOT. [schneier]
This is one of those mornings where I think I should be in a better mood than I am. There’s a beautiful sunrise, I had a pretty good weekend (full of doing nothing), and I’ve got happy feet, since my new slippers arrived. But there’s change a-comin’, and that always leaves me a bit on-edge. Some of it’s good change, and some I’m not sure about, but it’s knocking me out of my nice comfortable rut, and I’m never thrilled about that.
Part of the change is something you’re going to see. I’m not sure when, but I think I’m going to quit doing the blogging first thing in the morning. I’ve been with the morning schedule for quite a while, but I realize that it’s not working as well as I’d like. Even if I wake up at 5:30, like I did this morning, I’m not ready to head out the door until nearly 9am. And that means that I’m not ready to get out and enjoy a beautiful sunrise like the one this morning. I’m not sure of the details, and I’ll probably continue to spend at least a little time surfing the web each morning, but I think I’m going to try putting off the posting until evening. Probably change over next week, but maybe as early as tomorrow.
Another change is that I think it’s finally time to upgrade my Mac. Just a software upgrade of the OS, but that’s never as simple as it sounds. The driving force behind that is my frustration with Safari. I see the spinning pizza of death something like a hundred times every morning. Most of them are short, like five seconds or so, but over the course of my regular morning surfing, that’s a lot of frustration. I’m hoping the upgrade will improve matters, but I suspect the problem lies in something like the auto-complete text thingie that I need to trash, if only I could remember where it was. But there’s other reasons to upgrade too, so I’ll try that first and worry about other issues later.
As for the weekend, there wasn’t all that much excitement. I made the National Ammo Day run on Saturday, but that was about it. I’ll have a picture of my purchases sometime this week, but the total was pretty respectable.
- Huh. Hackers Cracked Gmail back in mid-October, and the word’s just gotten out recently. [shelley]
- Cory says a Sony insider emailed him saying that DRM is discredited at Sony. I don’t think it really matters. I’ll be thinking extra-hard before I buy anything from Sony again. I won’t exactly boycott them, but I won’t be as quick to think of their products as superior anymore. [boing boing]
- In the war on pork, Pork and Principles Fly As Congress Appropriates, Dances The D.C. Two-Step on Spending, and the Senate adopts ‘exit strategy’ from reality. And now it’s time for a two-week vacation, because they’ve done all the hard work of naming buildings after themselves. [instapundit and fark]
- Oh goody! Lie detectors may be next step in airline security. They say one in eight people are likely to give false-positives. That’ll definitely speed up the airport experience. I guess they’re just part of the new false sense of security system. [claire and schneier]
- Wally’s right, if the film’s as great as its posters V for Vendetta is going to rock. Then again, it’s already been delayed by at least four months, so instead of already having seen it, I’ve got to wait until at least March. Grumble. [claire]
- jr’s got a list of Very Wrong Gifts you may want to get for that special someone. [jr]
- Davezilla started an Evil Twins pool on Flickr that
features straight-on portraits (yours or anyone else’s) split into two mirrored halves, creating two entirely new people, or perhaps you and your EVIL TWIN.The effect is pretty cool, and I find myself wondering why nobody’s thought of it before. [davezilla]
Twice! Last night, Jim & I headed down to Keegan’s for some pub quiz (and a fair quantity of beer, too). In both the 6:30 and 8pm games, we finished second, earning us each a free drink (twice!). It was a pleasant end to a day that involved two trips to the hardware store and a lot of grunting and groaning as I moved my bed (and clothes and lamps and alarm clock and much other miscellany) into my new bedroom. But back to our near-domination. In the first game, the winners had 18 of 25 questions right. We were in a three-way tie for second with 15, but took it because we knew that Minnesota’s state bird is the Common Loon. That extra bit of pedantry paid off. Plus there were three other questions where we talked ourselves out of the correct answers. We coulda been contenders! In the second game, we lost by a single point, with two or three more questions that we might have been able to find the answer to if we hadn’t been flush with the after-effects of celebrating our first new win. Anyway, it was a fun time, but tipped the scales at around $60 for each of us (even with two free drinks each), so we probably won’t be repeating that performance too often. Nonetheless, Go Team Duh!
And as I mentioned above, I finally completed the bedroom transition I’ve been yammering on about forever. It felt weird going to sleep in a different room last night, but I like the fact that I’ve gotten that done. Today, I’m going to rearrange the boxes and furniture left in the old bedroom and make enough room that I can set up my trike and the trainer I bought last month so I can get some exercise over the winter. Wish me well, kiddies.
- The Sex & So Much More Show is Selling sex in the cities at the Minneapolis Convention Center this weekend. Tickets are $20 at the door. Not only do they have adult toys and videos, Playboy Playmates and Ron Jeremy, but they’ve also got a beer garden. Still, I’m not sure it would be $20 worth of amusement for me. [press-patch]
- A new Nasal Spray Arouses Women’s Desire To Have Sex In Minutes. PT-141 also works on men and could cause people who use it regularly to lose weight. How long do you think it’ll take for spams for black market PT-141 to start showing up? [fark!]
- Is it a Superhero or Household Cleaner? Well, call me Dr. Average, because I only got 14 of 20 right this morning. [fark!]
- Bruce Schneier has the Real Story of the Rogue Rootkit from Sony. It’s been around since mid-2004, and none of the anti-virus software companies saw fit to protect people from this malware. He asks
Who are the security companies really working for?and the answer isn’t Joe User. [boing boing]
- Popular Science has the story of the The 11-Year Quest to Create Disappearing Colored Bubbles. They’ll be sold as Zubbles (flash required). The coolest part is that the dye that colors the bubbles breaks down with friction, light, or contact with air. So you get pretty bubbles, and no stains. And the inventor’s from St. Paul. [boing boing]
- Excellent. The USA Patriot Act renewal faces filibuster from Russ Feingold (D-WI). Remember that he’s the only senator to have voted against it the first time around. [instapundit]
- An Ex-MI5 chief sparks ID card row by saying that new ID cards won’t help fight terrorism.
The men responsible for the 9/11 and Madrid terrorist attacks had valid identification.It’s a sad state of affairs when someone from a govenment stating the obvious is news, but there you have it. [schneier]
- Finally, remember that tomorrow is National Ammo Day. And there’s a movement afoot to clean Walmarts around the country out of ammo at 3:30 PM CST tomorrow. I’d help on that, just to imagine the freaked out calls to HQ.
Umm. We’re out of ammunition.Only thing is, I just don’t like shopping in Walmart, so I’m still planning to make a Cabelas run, so I should be having a good weekend and hope you find something equally fun for you.
Update: Here’s more of an explanation of why Walmart.
Okay, downright cold out there. Didn’t drop below zero, but we very nearly ran out of Fahrenheits last night. Between the cold and the wind that was gusting to over 50 mph, I didn’t have a big urge to get outside yesterday. In fact, I made two trips out. One was to refill the bird-feeders, since the critters need extra fuel in the cold weather too. The other was to head down to the Stone Arch Bridge to take a full-moon picture.
|stone arch bridge & moon|
When I got down there, I was initially confused. The moon was supposed to have risen, but I didn’t see it. Turns out, it’s much farther north in the sky this month than last, and was hiding behind the buildings across the river. Once I figured out what was going on, I set up the tripod and clicked off a half-dozen pictures. This is the one I like best, though I wish I’d moved the tripod that last foot or two to get the moon centered in the power-pylon. But I think the trip was worth it. Already one person on Flickr has called this picture a favorite, which is gratifying.
I also pushed my new furniture around a bit in the bedroom. I was planning to move my bed in there yesterday, but one of the legs snapped off the vanity while I was moving it, so I spent some time repairing that instead. I also discovered that I need some power-strips or extension cords to get the electricity where I need it before I can set everything up, so that’ll be part of the plan for today. I had gotten used to the idea of being able to slowly nibble away at projects like this, but the other news from yesterday is that I now have an official start-date for a new job. I’ll be someone else’s employee, and I’m won’t have even a fraction of the free-time I currently do, so I’d better get this project completed.
- Chad posted A letter from Terry Keegan to Hennepin County, talking about the smoking ban. Mitch adds the point that smokers are a multiplier. They bring friends along. And there’s another multiplier. Smokers tend to stay longer and spend more in bars than non-smokers. But the Minneapolis and Hennepin County smoking bans mean that folks are either driving to Ramsey or Anoka counties or staying home. I didn’t know exactly how bad things were at Keegan’s, since I’ve only been in there a couple times since the ban started, but it doesn’t surprise me. Things are bad at all the bars I used to patronize regularly. As I pointed out in 2004, it was about ten percent of the bars in California that folded when they put their state-wide smoking ban in place. I suspect the numbers will be higher here, especially this winter. In CA, you can sit at an outdoor patio nearly year-round. I don’t think that’ll fly here. But hey, I’m spending less in bars and drinking less in general, so that’s good for me, right? Terry’s letter was prompted by Hennepin County consider[ing] changes to smoking ban law, which will directly help exactly zero bars in Minneapolis. Minneapolis has its own ban, and one that probably won’t be going away, at least if Tweedledee has anything to say about it. I feel bad for bar-owners like Terry and Joe, but I just don’t see how they’ll survive this winter. [mitch and metro mpls]
- In a defeat to the PorkBusters, The ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ Is No More. Yeah, that’s right, it was a defeat. The bridge got cancelled, but instead Alaska gets a blank check for the money. So the politicians get to duck the heat for a while, but the bridge will probably be built anyhow. Or Alaska will come up with some other way to spend the money. [fark!]
- The rollout of UK’s ‘24×7 vehicle movement database’ begins and the stated goals are: catching speeders, catching untaxed and uninsured vehicles, and oh yes, locating anyone who sets off red-flags in terrorist databases. But hey, you don’t have to worry about the system if you don’t have anything to hide, right? Tell that to White House staffers who say
You’re always being watched, always under suspicion, always second-guessed.[claire]
- A new blog, Police State USA
discusses the transformation of the USA into a police state.So far, so good. It will go into the list of daily reads for now. [claire]
So much for the threatened blizzard. It rained most of the evening last night, and finally changed over to snow about 7pm. But the ground was still warm enough that very little of the snow stuck, and most of the moisture came down as rain. Which froze. So yeah, it was a little treacherous out there, but hardly the huge blizzard we’d been warned about.
And yes, I was out driving in the mess. Tiffany and Jona were back in town and stopped by the Sporty, so I swung in there to see ’em. Good to see the gals, and they seem to be doing well now that they’ve both decided to leave Minneapolis and get their lives in order elsewhere. I’m not the only one who misses them, but it’s good to see them doing well, even if it’s not here.
|a little snow|
Coming home, there were two spots where the Auto-4WD kicked in on my truck. The first was pulling away from an intersection where braking cars had polished the ice on the street to a near post-zamboni skating-rink sheen, and the second was right in front of my garage. There’s a little hump to get into the garage, and I needed the front wheels to help pull the rear ones over the hump. But as I said before, hardly the world-ending blizzard the TV stations had warned us about. Heck, I don’t think I’m even going to bother trying to shovel away the ice and snow on the sidewalk.
I don’t find it surprising anymore that people ignore warnings to evacuate because a hurricane is coming or there’s going to be a flood. If I’d heeded the TV weathermen, I would have spent thousands on arctic survival gear for yesterday. As it turned out, my leather jacket was plenty warm as long as I was out of the wind, and tennis shoes were still very appropriate footwear. Probably didn’t hurt that I’ve got fifty-some pounds of flesh-parka to insulate me, but still, the sheer quantity of doom and gloom on the TV on Monday night was just silly. I’d be more surprised if people didn’t ignore such warnings. Plus I’m kinda pissed we didn’t even get the two inches that was the minimum forecast. I was ready for some snow, and this is just disappointing.
- Here’s a list of Five email tics I’d love for you to lose. Well, my list actually includes a few more: spam, HTML mail with no plain-text alternative, spam, top-posting, spam, and the fact that we’re still stuck with RFC 821 email, which encourages people to try and send spam via any form on the web that might send email. Yes, I have filters for the spam, but why should I have to spend time maintaining them because people are assholes? Or did I just answer my own question? [backup brain]
- Interesting. A group of Minnesota Businesses challenge Patriot Act, especially the National Security Letters which seem to be a favorite tool of the FBI. Good for them. [press-patch]
- For Minneapolis, Towing pulls in big business. Not so much today, but perhaps on the first real snow. They made $1¼ million on towing about 40,000 cars last year, though. Most of the money comes from selling off or scrapping cars that aren’t retrieved. [daily]
- Useful! The Beer Hunter tells you all the places you can buy booze right now in Toronto (it knows when which stores are open). New cities to come soon, supposedly. Another cool use of Google Maps. [accordionguy]
- Know any dim bulbs? Claire’s Shedding Some (Flash)light on the Subject with a roundup of her favorite flashlights. And while it’s still Too Damned Early for Christmas decorations to be up in the stores, I try to spread my shopping out over the whole year, so present ideas like this are welcome anytime. [claire]
So after sleeping most of yesterday morning and part of the afternoon away, I’m feeling better. Maybe it’s only temporary, but we’ll see. There’s supposed to be snow this evening and tomorrow morning, so I’ll probably get a chance to shovel off my spiffy new sidewalk tomorrow. Maybe it’s the illness making me goofy, but I’m kinda looking forward to it.
With the arrival of this first snow (which probably won’t last), it’s really starting to feel like winter. I’ve moved the due dates on all remaining “outside projects” to next spring, and it’s time to concentrate on things inside the house. But tonight or tomorrow is also the full moon, and I had hoped to get out to the Stone Arch Bridge to catch another full moon photo, but with the bridge lit up and no people in the way. It’s not looking like the weather is going to cooperate, though. Dangit.
- A Seattle Bottler offers salmon-flavoured soda. Jones Soda has added salmon to its existing lineup of turkey and gravy, green bean casserole, corn on the cob, pecan pie, and candy corn sodas. [fark!]
- I haven’t said much about the Sony DRM kerfuffle, but Microsoft to remove Sony CD code. As VoWe says,
You know you fucked up royally when Microsoft is one of the good guys.Nice work, Sony. There’s More on Sony’s DRM Rootkit from Schneier. [vowe and schneier]
- A survey says Men reject first date sex, but I’m betting a big part of the results have to do with who was administering the survey. Then again, the survey was of British men… [fark!]
- I find myself thinking that I should help update the Wikitravel page on Minneapolis, but keep bonking my head against the “where to start” problem.
I had a pretty productive weekend. Friday saw a trip to the range after a decent morning. Saturday, a visit to mom. Sunday, I went with a friend and shopped briefly for a stove that I’ll probably buy sometime next year, while she looked at dishwashers for her new kitchen. Then picked up my bedroom furniture from Melrose Antiques, moved it in (pictures to come once it’s reassembled and in place), and hung out with another friend having a couple beers. But I had an earache yesterday morning, and when I got home from the beers, I was tired, and finally gave in to the illness that’s been waiting in the wings. I’m feeling worse this morning, and I’m thinking I might need a trip out to get some anti-biotics for the ear infection that woke me up at 4am this morning. Ugh.
Didn’t find anything worth linking to this morning. I’m not sure whether it’s due to feeling sick, or today just being a slow news day. Sorry about it, either way. Hopefully something tomorrow. For now, I’m going to try and go back to bed and sleep some more.
Is it a holiday today or not? Well, if you’re a politician, a banker or a mailman, it is. Otherwise, not so much. But hey, it’s an inconvenient month for two holidays, so let’s just have the one where everyone gorges themselves and then goes to the mall to fill up their credit cards.
It’s officially “that time of year.” I stopped by Target, needing to pick up a few groceries and other sundries, and couldn’t avoid the Christmas decorations. I know the layout of the target store I shop at pretty darned well, and usually can weave my way through the minefields of plastic santas and fake trees, but they’ve been moving things around on me this past year, and that included some of the decorations. Plus I’ve been seeing Christmas trees in the ads I zip past on my TiVo. We’re still six weeks away from Christmas, and I’m already starting to be annoyed by the stores pimping it at me. I think this means it’s time to avoid retail as much as possible until January, but damnit, it’s getting tougher every year as they extend “the season.” And to top it off, I’m sure google will decide this post is going to attract people who want to start shopping now, so there will be ads for “holiday crap” over there on the right. [reloads] Yep. Crap.
But hey, I’m not entirely grouchy. In fact, I’ve got an extra-large order of links for you today, so knock yourself out.
- I’ve thought Eva Longoria was a cutie for a while, but to find out that she Hunts Wild Pigs For Tamales for the holidays. Man. I’m in lust. [fark!]
- A Japanese expert uses breast size to shape body character analysis. See ladies, we’re not just staring at your chest, we’re figuring out your personality.
- Speaking of breasts, and proving that for every geeky fetish there’s a website, leiasmetalbikini.com offers exactly what you would expect from the name. [boing boing]
- Mitch got asked what’s the big deal about living in the city? I like his answers, and most of them apply to me, too. And if you’ve got the time to scroll into the comments section there’s some nice rants in there. [mitch]
- On a more serious note, there’s a campaign afoot to actually make Congress Read the Bills they’re about to vote on. Sounds like a great idea to me, but do you think anyone in Congress would actually vote for such a thing? Naw, their staffers will tell them it’s a dangerous idea. [claire]
- Surl Patel is building a cellphone at home and blogging it. Cool. He’s currently taking a break (due to family illness) from gathering parts for the Linux-based GSM phone, but hopefully there will be more news soon. [boing boing]
- Wanna play Risk, but don’t have a handful of friends to play with, and don’t want to buy some expensive software? Try Risk via Google Maps v0.9.4. [boing boing]
- Is a common cat parasite linked to schizophrenia? Dr. Fuller Torrey thinks
there is a link between early exposure to Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in cats, and schizophreniaand is testing an antibiotic to see if it’ll clear up the schizophrenia. [fark!]
- The Northfield, MN Police chief can’t get off secret U.S. ‘no-fly’ watch list. Apparently his name is a bad one. Does anyone actually think this list is making air travel safer? [press-patch]
- And since we’re moving into what some might call conspiracy theorist territory, some scientists at MIT have done an empirical study On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets. Turns out they won’t do the trick for some frequencies which are reserved for use by the government. I’ve been pretty sure for years that tinfoil alone wouldn’t do the job, and am kind of disappointed the MIT propeller-heads didn’t test alternative materials. I’ve suggested to the mythbusters that more research is needed. [slashdot]
Got cold enough overnight that the frost might have finally killed the plants still growing outside. But today’s supposed to be warmer, and the big wind that started Tuesday night has blown itself out. Seems like a perfect couple days to wrap up the last of the outside work around the house.
Yesterday, in a prep-run for National Ammo Day, I made a run up to Cabela’s in Rogers. Man. That’s a huge store. No, really. Huge! Their prices were pretty good, too. I got about half of my needs for my winter target-shooting out of the way, and I’ll probably find a friend who wants to head up there on the 19th (mark your calendar, Bill). Last year, National Ammo Day meant about ten million rounds of ammuntion bought around the country.
On the way home, I drove back on the “old highway” which took me through Brooklyn Center, where I went to elementary school. The old school is still there, but the playground that had the spaceship/slide that I dug as a kid is gone. Bummage. Both of the apartments my mom & I lived in during those years are still there, but the shopping center across the street from the first one (where I bought my first model planes and cars and the glue that would get you high if you forgot to open the window and they made you bring a parent the first time you bought it) has been levelled recently. The construction equipment was out pushing around dirt. The doctor’s office (where I got my allergy shots every two weeks) just up the block from that first apartment is now a Baptist Church. And there’s a “new” Korean church right next to the elementary school. I was surprised when I saw the Hangul lettering, since I didn’t know that there were that many Koreans here in the Twin Cities.
- Kelly’s posted about E-Blitz for Bravo Company (Bravo Company, 2-136 Combined Arms Battalion (CAB) of the 1 BCT, 34th ID (Minnesota National Guard)). The deal is, the soldiers will get leave to come home from Mississippi (where they’re currently training before deployment to Iraq) for a few days in late December if they arrange their own transportation. Since many are financially strapped while they’re deployed, a group of families is asking for donations for bus tickets. They’d like to get donations by tomorrow so they can buy tickets for the guys soon. Donate at the Bravo Company Family Readiness page.
- Apparently there’s a Huge House Vote Today on the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. This is stuff our elected representatives should have settled months ago, but they’ve been too busy spending more money to deal with cutting spending. [instapundit]
- This infoworld article says we’re in a constant state of insecurity. And yeah, there are a lot of passwords flying around
out therein the clear. But as it pointed out in the comments on Schneier’s post about it, the guy writing the article is a journalist, not a security professional (anymore), who weakens his own case by saying things like
The vast majority, 41 percent … followed by … 40 percent. 41 percent is no majority at all, and it’s hardly vast if second place is a statistically insignificant amount behind it. Yeah, it’s nitpicking, but InfoWorld is supposed to be professional, and if their editors can’t catch a simple mistake like that, what else has slipped past them? [schneier]
- Simson Garfinkel rounds up History’s Worst Software Bugs, with fatalities counting in a fair number of them. [boing boing]
- Warren takes a look at Airlines and Credit Cards and notices that many airlines make more off credit cards than they do moving people around the country. Hey, cheap travel is cool, but I’m not so sure that “business model” is sustainable. [coyote blog]
Man it was breezy last night! Once again, the “storm door” on the north side of my house was flapping in the wind. It’s poorly designed, since the doorknob from the inside door pushes on the latch for the storm-door, and it won’t actually latch unless the planets align correctly, so I end up using the hook on the door, and then go out the other door, and confuse myself when I try to get back into the house. Since that back door opens the wrong way (the opening is toward the front of the house, and I’m almost always heading in or out that door from the back of the house, by the garage), I’ve been thinking about turning it around since this spring. It’s not a high priority, but if the weather continues nice, maybe I’ll get to that yet this year.
Anyway, the wind blew most of the remaining leaves off the trees in my yard, so next time it’s nice outside (probably tomorrow), I’ll get out and run over the leaves with the lawnmower again and finish cleaning up the yard for fall. And then Friday the guys will be back to put in some grass-seed and I’ll mostly be done with “outside things” for the year. Unless it stays nice long enough that I decide to tackle some other project, like changing out the flapping storm-door.
In other news, Steph stopped by last night with a load of food for my freezer. She’s starting a remodel on her kitchen soon, and has been cooking up a storm, trying to get meals made so she and Tim won’t go hungry while they have no stove. I’m glad to help with the freezer-space, but I suppose I should have organized the freezer a little better before she got here. Oops. She also checked out the progress on my bedroom, and seemed to like what she saw. While I’m mostly pleased with the work I’ve been (slowly) doing up there, it’s nice to hear positive comments from someone else.
- Speaking of my bedroom, sorta, I really enjoyed the 100 Greatest Internet Moments. It was a good way to kill a bunch of time, and pretty much the main reason I didn’t move my bed and dresser to the new room yesterday. Something for the list today when it’s not so nice outside, I guess. [kottke]
- I’ve been working to make the house more energy efficient this fall. In August, I got glass block windows installed in the basement. Last month, I hooked up the programmable thermostat to my furnace. Got the gas bill yesterday, and it turns out that in spite of an average temperature identical to the same period in 2004, I used 15% less gas than last year. One month is too small of a sample to start celebrating, but it’s encouraging so far.
- The local Races end in low turnout. I dunno. According to the city’s numbers it was almost a third of registered voters, which isn’t too shabby. Besides, it meant my vote counted for more. Neener-neener. Unfortunately, we didn’t give Walt a chance to spend more time
fishing and with his grandchildren.Dangit. [daily]
- Here comes the science: scientists have figured out Why women don’t laugh at the Three Stooges. The reason? Women think harder about comedy, and apparently figure out that a finger in the eye isn’t funny. Go figure! I wonder if that’s at all like me thinking that Get a Life was
too cerebral for me.[fark!]
- It’s at this time of year when I wonder how good an idea moving back to a full-time office-job really is.
- Nikon has issued a EN-EL3 Battery Recall for batteries used in the D-50, D-70, and D-100, which could short out and catch on fire. If you’re in Europe, start with their Support Gateway. My batteries seem to be in the clear. Cool. [vowe]
|sidewalk behind house|
Yesterday was a darned nice day. I headed outside and ran the lawnmower over the leaves that had accumulated in the yard fairly early in the morning (about ten am). Only about half of the leaves on my trees have fallen, but I wanted to mulch up the ones that were already on the ground about as much as I just wanted to be outside enjoying the weather. Just as I was putting away the lawnmower, the guys showed up to finish up the landscaping around the new sidewalk. Since it was beautiful out, I spent some time supervising while they worked. I’m really happy with the results.
|step on side of house|
In addition, I got out the paint and painted the wall of the garage where the shed had been attached, and apparently I’m pretty good at matching colors, because I couldn’t really tell the difference between the old color on the garage and the new one. That surprised me, frankly. I also got out and took pictures for you to look at. Don’t I just rock? There’s still a little work to be done. They’ll be out later in the week to put in the railing on the front steps, and hit the patches of bare dirt with some grass seed. By spring, things should be looking pretty good, just in time for more stuff to get torn up as I put in a patio on the back corner of the house and a retaining wall across the front of the lot.
|front sidewalk detail|
And I’m not the only one who thinks so. I got complimented a few times over the weekend by neighbors and the pizza-delivery guy. More compliments yesterday while I was outside working. It’s pretty neat doing a project like this in a neighborhood where everyone stops by to check things out. I haven’t met any new neighbors in the process, but I’ve had a chance to talk to the ones I know a lot more lately.
Finally, remember that today is election day. Here in Minneapolis, it’s just local elections on the ballot, but I see that as a bigger reason to get out. At the local level, you might actually be able to help keep someone bad out of office. I do wish our mayoral election wasn’t just a case of tweedledee and tweedledum, but hey, what are you gonna do? The people have spoken.
- In Saints news, Olow Back For Fourth Season, along with Kris Cox and Charlie Ruud (the kid from Luther Seminary). That’s five players signed so far. Still only nine teams in the league, though, and exactly one week to renew the season tickets.
- Want a cool glowing blue stream of water coming out of your faucet? Then the Faucet Light’s just the thing for you. I’m not planning any work in the bathroom just yet, but this just screws onto an existing faucet. [boing boing]
- The Publisher of Capitol Hill Blue is apparently An enemy of the state. It’s just part of how USA-PATRIOT is proving to be bad law. Heck, even Congress is finally getting around to complaining about it, but they should be the ones most subject to its provisions since they passed the damned thing. I’m still sticking by my pledge to myself of never again voting for anyone who voted for USA-PATRIOT, and have repeatedly told my representatives as much. Someone needs to hold those bastards feet to the fire, especially since Congress is trying to extend it, while the American Civil Liberties Union points out problems. Schneier has more on how the FBI is spying on us. [claire and schneier]
- I had another of those Why did it have to be guns? moments the other night. A friend was talking about Bill Maher’s claim to be a libertarian, and I disagreed, mostly because Maher’s in favor of gun control, among other views in direct conflict with libertarian philosophy. The discussion turned to why I thought guns were so important. Rather than wreck a good evening of playing cards with talk of politics, I dropped the subject. But I think it’s worth noting that a lot of LNS’s points are important. It’s not just about the guns. It’s just that if someone doesn’t trust you to have a gun, why should you trust them to make laws that affect you? Isn’t trust supposed to be reciprocal? If someone doesn’t trust me with guns, be it a politician or overrated talk-show host, why in the name of John Moses Browning should I trust them with any power over me? But it’s not just about guns. It’s about what I think libertarianism really means, which is
X-Ray machineof gun control makes that clear in an instant.
The weekend is done, and there’s some news. The short version is that it’s pretty well decided that I’ll be going back to being a wage-slave before long. I’ll get into more details once I know more, but for now I just know that there’s a lot of stuff I need to sort out first, and there’s still a vacation I want to take. Must Get Cracking.
The weekend? Well, no real change on Friday. I pulled down the caution-tape around the new sidewalk during the afternoon, and then headed out to the local watering hole in the evening. A friend wanted to cap the night off with some cocktails, so we wandered across the street to the place that serves liquor and had a manhattan. Which wasn’t enough, apparently, so he ordered another set of them for us. I’m pretty sure one was all I needed, especially when the hangover was threatening to spill over into Saturday night’s card-playing.
Saturday there was cards. And preparations for cards, though not necessarily in that order. It went as well as could be expected, I guess. People seemed to have fun.
Sunday was a day of rest and laundry. Machines in my basement magically transformed stinky and dirty bits of fabric into clean clothes. Amazing! And all while I spent most of the day on the couch looking at the idiot box.
As for the sidewalk, no pictures yet. The forms are still up, and I’m not going to take more pictures until they’re down and things are closer to complete. Maybe tomorrow? That’s going to do it for today.
- An Historic Vermont Meeting in State Capital Passes Resolution to Secede from the U.S. because
whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.I wish them luck. [endwar]
- Didja hear that they’re Detaining Will Rogers down in Gitmo? Three years for satire that flew over the heads of the interrogators. [claire]
- People have been complaining to Vin about his recent article on registration leading to complete disarmament with Familiar anti-capitalist sound bytes . And he shoots ’em all down.
- Live in Minnesota? Have you been over to the Minnesota Unclaimed Property names index to see if the state’s holding onto anything you own? I did. Still nothing there for me. [metro mpls]
- And finally, in a note which has pretty good monday-morning-relevance, how much would you have to drink to suffer Death by Caffeine? Put in your weight and poison of choice and find out. [boing boing]
There’s a new sidewalk! Yesterday, as I mentioned, the guys from Finer Surroundings arrived early to finish the forms for the sidewalk. About ten am the cement mixer arrived. I’ve seen these trucks rolling down the freeway with the boom folded up, but they’re a lot more impressive when it’s stretched out.
|It’s remote controlled|
A neat feature that I hadn’t thought of until I saw it in action is that the boom is remote controlled. The operator can swing it around, control the flow of concrete, and probably a few other things without having to run back to the truck. It seemed to make everything go a lot smoother. Of course it didn’t hurt that instead of two guys, there was a crew of five out working during the pour.
|conveyor belt detail|
In the boom, there’s a conveyor belt that fits into the trough of the boom. It moves the concrete out to the end, where it falls down some fancy cloth tube to be directed where it needs to go. Because they couldn’t get the truck in next to the side of my house, they still needed some trips with the wheelbarrow, but well over half the work was done by just swinging the boom around. The truck was empty by noon, and it was just up to the guys to smooth everything out put on the finishing touches. The result looks pretty darned good.
I don’t have any pictures of the finished sidewalk yet, but the last shot of the truck is nice in that you can see just how long this thing was (and see my neighbor standing in my backyard, watching the whole process). I’ll be taking some pictures of it over the weekend (after the forms have been taken down) and post them next Monday, I hope. The sidewalk should be good to walk on in time for poker on Saturday night, too. About the only snag is that it didn’t warm up as much as I’d hoped yesterday, so I didn’t get the garage painted. I’m hoping the weather guys are right and there’s going to be some decent weather next week. I suspect I’m going to be painting in sub-optimal weather anyhow, but I’d like to at least try to follow the temperature guidelines for latex paint.
- I haven’t been buying much music lately, mostly satisfying myself with filling in some gaps in my existing collection. Hell, I haven’t even unpacked my CDs since I’ve moved. But I’ve read the reviews of My Morning Jacket’s Z and thought it sounded interesting (
a cross between Morcheeba and The White Stripesor elements of
Radiohead, The Who and Lynyrd Skynyrd). Then I found out that it’s a DRM Crippled CD, read the increasingly bizarre story that explains that the reason it’s crippled is some pissing match between Sony and Apple, and well, I’m pretty sure I won’t be buying what sounds like some pretty good music, which is a shame, since the company seems to be genuinely apologetic about the whole situation. [kottke]
- Speaking of books and copyright, the Head Lemur says to Scan Them All, and Doc has a darned good quote:
What makes your creative works immortal is not your ownership of them.Amen. [doc]
- Claire’s got a couple examples of how your biometric Real ID drivers license will be used once RealID is in place everywhere. The hassles of not wanting (or being able) to show your government-approved ID keep growing. Yeah, I know. It’s just Dave being a paranoid conspiracy theorist again and our good friends in government would never use all this information to round people up, right? [claire]
- Schneier says Fatal Flaw Weakens RFID Passports. I’m still waiting to get my renewed passport back, but it sounds as though I might have gotten in under the wire and might not get one with RFID. I guess we’ll see… [schneier]
- Warren has an excellent Free Speech Thought for the Day and the quote:
When supporters of a law take the position thatSounds like a damned good rule to live by. [coyote blog]
This law is not necessary for me but for all those people who are not as smart as I am, it is a bad law.
- Here’s a bit of good news, though: the Serenity DVD is available for pre-order, and if everything were to go right, you could have it for Christmas. Of course that’s not guaranteed with Amazon. [claire]
7am: No sidewalk pictures from yesterday. They were just framing things up, and didn’t finish until after it was too dark for interesting pictures. And they’re out getting started at 7am today. Full update will be along later, but I may be later than usual with it.
9am: Well, it’s later, but actually not too much later than usual. The guys are busy finishing up the forms and preparing for the truck of concrete to arrive, and I’ve had breakfast and cleaned up and am waiting for things to warm up enough outside that I can paint the garage. And that’s pretty much the plan for today.
- Says here New Yahoo Maps Shows Power of Flash. I’ve used Y!Maps over the other services, mostly because their address book for the maps application sucked less. I guess I’ll have to give the new version a try, but my suspicion is that I’ll get tired of having to go turn on the
Enable plug inscheckbox in Safari (it’s mostly off, so I don’t get annoying flash ads) before too long, and switch to using some other set of maps. It’s not that I hate flash, but that I hate ads that blink and make it harder for me to read things on the web. I especially hate ads that make my computer make noise. Shutting off plug-ins completely kills all the ads that make noise. [scripting]
- No surprise here: both Democrats and Republicans are Fiscal Phonies. Republicans are making noise about the big cuts they’re working on. Run the numbers, and it’s 0.3 percent, and a good chunk of those aren’t actually cuts, but rather accounting tricks that would get the CFO of any publicly-traded firm either fired or tossed in jail (or both). [instapundit]
- Dave Winer pointed to a story saying CNN Ousts Aaron Brown and Gives Slot to Anderson Cooper and comments that
Anderson Cooper is a putz.Well, Aaron Brown was a putz, too. He got his anchor job because he was thrust into the national spotlight on 9/11. But none of it really matters to me, since I gave up on almost all TV news (I’ll still check out the local news once in a while, mostly for the weather forecast) years back. [scripting]
- Is ATF Retaining Purchase Records? In violation of federal law that says they can only hold them for 24 hours? Quite possibly. Grr. [war on guns]
- Last month, I mentioned an Indiana business owner who was arrested for shotting at some vandals with birdshot. Well, the prosecutor has decided there will be No charges for shooting at joy riders. A small victory.
|my front sidewalk|
Unlike a certain local blogger who has spend all summer talking about a “water-feature” and who hasn’t posted a single picture of it, I’m taking you live inside the construction around here. Well, sorta live. I’ve got pictures, and I will for the next couple days. I’ve probably been making a pretty good nuisance of myself watching the guys work, but it’s interesting stuff, and I want it to turn out nice.
|the side sidewalk|
The guys from Finer Surroundings showed up yesterday with the heavy equipment, and started work. They spent most of the morning and early afternoon tearing out my existing sidewalk. I’m putting in a new sidewalk all the way from the front, including new steps up the slope in front of my house, to the garage behind the house. Yes, it’s a lot of new concrete, but not all that much more than used to be here, and it’ll be smooth and level when I have to shovel the snow off it this winter, which will be a great improvement. It should also help with the water that pools next to the north side of the house (no leaks yet, but it’s the kind of thing that would make for a leaky basement if I didn’t fix it).
Once they’d torn out all the old concrete, it was time to take down the shed that’s been attached to my garage forever. The guy who built both the shed and the garage (Al) was a carpenter (or perhaps cabinet-maker) who built things to last, so this was no small job. I would have tackled it on my own, but the cost of hauling away the foundation for the shed would have been huge, and it would have taken me weeks. Took the pros a couple hours. The picture was taken just after they had finished breaking it loose from the garage, which was a major chore. Al had attached it quite securely, and the darned thing was heavy, too. It was built better than most modern houses, and it was kind of a shame to see it go, but it wasn’t doing anything for me except taking up space in my yard and being a haven for spiders, millipedes, and mice.
And that’s about it for today. I don’t have any links for you. Not sure whether I will or not tomorrow, either. But I will have some pictures. The plan for today is to get all the forms built for the new sidewalk and do whatever landscaping can be done where things got torn up. And tomorrow they pour the new concrete. Given the weather forecast for a beautiful day today, I’ll probably spend a fair amount of time outside watching the work and taking pictures. If I get super-motivated, I’ll head down to the hardware store and get some paint for the side of the garage. The paint that’s there is probably good enough to get me through the winter, but I’d rather not spend all winter looking at a job that I could have gotten done today and tomorrow.
Yesterday the concrete guy stopped by. They’ll be by this morning to tear out my existing sidewalk and start prepping for the new one. Tomorrow will finish up the prep work. Thursday, they’re going to pour. Woo. I’ll have a new sidewalk before the snow flies for sure. And I also talked to them yesterday, and they’re going to demolish and haul away the little shed that’s tacked to the side of my garage. It’s proven useless to me, and there’s enough concrete in the base of it that I was worried about disposal costs if I tore it down myself, so this was the time to do the job.
Yesterday I talked about shooting with the red-dot sight. Today I’m going to mention a trip out last month, where we used LaserGrips. There’s almost certainly a longer article to be written, but when I was asked by the guy in the adjacent lane this weekend whether I preferred a laser or the red-dot, I didn’t give a full answer, mostly because I don’t have one yet. The LaserGrips are a darned good training tool, but at around $200, they’re significantly more expensive than a red-dot scope. On the other hand, the laser was a darned useful teaching tool, helping both of us identify a bad habit we’d gotten into.
- Speaking of shooting, it’s time for another update on Koscielski’s Gun Shop. Mark had his day in court and is waiting to hear from the 8th Federal District Court of Appeal, and this response could take anywhere from three weeks to three months. Meanwhile, Mark’s got a big sale on the Crimson Trace LaserGrips and all profits will go to his legal battle. If you’ve been pondering them, or my short description has you curious, now’s a good time to buy, and if you buy before the end of the year, you’ll get free batteries for life, too. You can order over the web, and installation was pretty easy in my case. Mark’s also one of the few (only?) people offering concealed carry courses for the blind if that interests you.
- International Women of curling gain greater exposure in a new nude calendar. Tasteful black and white photography, and it’s for a good cause if you’re a curling fan, since the money goes to support the teams whose members posed. [fark!]
- In Dan’s comments on memeorandumb, he talks about Shelley’s and Dori’s comments about the service. I read Shelley’s stuff over the weekend, and I didn’t get what the big deal was. I like Shelley and Dori, but at the risk of joining with Dan in some sort of boy’s club, I think that if a service doesn’t include you, or the people you think should be included, why not write your own that you think is more inclusive or produces “better” results? Or just revel in your mediocrity like I do. [flutterby]
- The Porkbusters site has gotten an upgrade. Spiffy new graphics. [instapundit]