Saturday, February 28, 2009

saw 'gran torino' last night

not perfect, but very entertaining and frequently moving.

worth seeing - nobody snarls like Clint.

Friday, February 27, 2009

uh, oh

yikes - What does he know that hasn't been previously disclosed?


here's a thought

since the US taxpayers are about to embark on a multi-year incredibly major drain, to mend the mistakes of the greedy, arrogant, and incompetent, wouldn't this be an opportunity for The People to get organized and mandate an end to the Defense Department's (sic) stranglehold on over half of our GDP?

just sayin'...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

what an amazing world

As some of you may know, my main work project is a database application for the US Dept of Agriculture. My development contacts are in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

A couple of days ago, I sent them a new build of the database, for them to test the latest new capability (pull GPS data from an attached device directly into an Access form). It was working great for me, and I needed them to test it on their hardware.

Alas, they saw weird problems that I could not reproduce in Portland. We had a number of phone conversations - finally, it occurred to me to set up a screen-sharing session, so I could see exactly what they were seeing (and even control their machine to diagnose things).

A quick Web search led me to Adobe's free 'ConnectNow' application, which works GREAT. Highly recommended.

So, there I was, in my computer dungeon here, taking over a laptop connected wirelessly to a network in New Mexico. After messing around and thinking it thru, I figured out my problem (I needed to *register* a DLL, not just add it to the Access app as a Reference - doh!).

I grabbed some code from another application, pasted it in and tweaked a tiny bit, then uploaded a new build for my contact in NM to install on the laptop.

Then we set up another screen-sharing session in her office, and I was able to watch as we got beyond the previous brick-wall. It was very cool.

Then, Ericha took the laptop outside, to get a real GPS fix. Amazingly, she was still in range of their WiFi, so I was able to witness the final test. When the good results came in, it was a moment of sheer delight.

Here's a screen shot of what I saw (it's the numbers in the Latitude/Longitude that signal 'SUCCESS'):

i need a drink


Peak Water?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

just watched Obama's speech to Congress

If there was ever any doubt that this is a remarkable guy, that doubt is ended now.

Isn't it great to have a President again?

UPDATE: is this the kind of innovative thinking that BHO was talking about?

but Al Gore is just trying to make money off of fear...

uh, no.

Monday, February 23, 2009

you know you're short of work when...

...the task of cleaning your desk makes it to the top of the daily to-do list.

One of my major clients for the past seven years has been The Nature Conservancy, for whom I have contributed to several interesting database projects, notably the Invasive Weeds application.

Last week, I heard from my primary contact that TNC is abandoning support for the Global Invasives initiative, and that she is losing her job next month. This probably translates into no more work for me on the project, unless they can get the NRDC, USGS, National Parks, or BLM (all of whom use WIMS) to take on ownership.

I hope it's not the BLM, since my dealings with them over the years has led me to conclude that they model their office regulations and procedures on the Byzantine Empire.

Now, the big decision of the day is going to be, which side of the desk do I attack first?

You think I'm kidding?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

feb 18th will never be the same

My mother, who died on December 11th, would have been 95 today. My brother is taking a cake over to the folks at her assisted living place in Wisconsin.

Here she is with a young Dylan in our kitchen in Portland, on her last visit here, a few years ago.

conspiracy theory of the day

This just hit me. The price for a barrel of oil continues its incredible slump, and appears to be headed to $32, less than one quarter of what it was a year ago.

As these prices for oil, the urge to move to (i.e. fund) renewable energy development decreases significantly, just as the Obama Administration needs to rally political support for the Green Economy.


quick quiz

Q: at what point in World History was the Earth's population half of what it is today? 1400? 1700? 1800?

A: 1963. Yes, the world in which I learned to walk, talk, appreciate Ruff and Ready, watch Lee Harvey Oswald get shot on live TV, and prepare for my Bar Mitzvah had less than half the number of people it does today, and it's expected to double again before you know it.

Maybe that's one of the reasons why the world economic condition is deemed more a security threat to the world than the 'GWOT'.

This issue dwarfs all others. Too many people and not enough Earths to go around, when everyone expects a 50 inch television, not to mention something to eat every day (with a glass of water).

Monday, February 16, 2009

broken record

not just me.

Cokie Roberts did it again on NPR this morning. They play Lindsey Graham's hissy fit about the 'Democratic lack of bipartisanship' and she says, "he's correct". Uh, Cokie, the measure of bipartisanship ultimately is not the degree of compromises that get made, but the final vote tally.

The House significantly diluted their original stimulus outline, bringing in ridiculous tax-cuts and trimming of the stimulus features that put the most money into the economy the fastest (i.e. food stamps, unemployment assistance, and infrastructure repairs) and, in the spirit of bipartisanship, they received NO GOP votes. Ditto in the Senate, except they managed to eke out 3 out of 48 votes.

Finally, Cokie mentions that the new stimulus programs that the Democrats now 'own' are likely to produce some stories of waste and corruption, and the Democrats will 'own' that responsibility, to the Republicans' benefit.

Uh, what about a trillion Iraq dollars, that have vanished with incredible waste and corruption? Who owns that? Who even mentions that, Cokie? What about the looting of the Social Security trust fund that has happened during the Bush years? Military contracting under Bush? KBR cost over-runs and shoddy work (that actually took the lives of American soldiers?

Cokie, you are a hack now, and NPR is a whore. As Barbara Bush famously said to Al Franken once (you can look it up), "I'm done with you."

UPDATE: how timely

UPDATE 2: hey, Cokie, look here

UPDATE 3: try this

Saturday, February 14, 2009

saturday morning

Had a fun evening last night, listening to a jazz duo at RiverPlace and chatting with two delightful ladies who happened to share our table.

It was the opening of the Portland Jazz Festival and I suspect we'll be sampling a lot of the offerings over the next few days. The problem, of course, is that I spend too much time envisioning myself sitting at the keyboard, rather than concentrating on the professionals up there creating good stuff.

Finally, I have to say a few words about how distressing it was listening to NPR this morning. They repeat the GOP talking points as if they are reasonable arguments (instead of the disingenuous, evil balderdash they are) then, for commentary, they have on Jonah Goldberg, someone from The New Republic and Juan Williams. Sheesh! I turned it off in disgust.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

slavery in the 21st century

Yes, it's great that slavery is a thing of the past, but the need for slaves has not gone away - we just don't have humans in that role.

Case in point: at the moment, machines in this house are washing and drying my clothes, washing my dishes, baking some bread, simmering some soup, and heating my house. These are all functions that, 200 years ago, I would have employed someone to do.

No wonder our economy is so screwed up - it evolved from a time when there was plenty of work for humans to do, and now, in this credit economy, there are many more people needing to make a living, but fewer things for humans to do.

There's only so much new employment that technological advances can be expected to create (or is it unlimited?). Seems like a dilemma.

OK, it's true, I have to stir the soup myself, but the bread machine is starting to send out some wonderful aromas...

happy 200th birthday

Abe and Chuck - thanks for everything.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

republicans have been screaming about 'voter fraud' for years

...without successfully finding any actual evidence - until now.

heh, heh.

Friday, February 06, 2009

exactly what i've been thinking

Isn't it about time to concede that it's time to downsize the American military Empire?

Finally, there is some growing recognition (not yet in the highest circles, apparently), that the Cold War had two losers, rather than one supreme Winner, and that every army that ever marched confidently into Afghanistan has inevitably marched back out humbled and bankrupt.

Our hubris has, as it has Time and Time again, to Empire after Empire, led to rot. This time, though, it's difficult to predict where the next Empire will arise? Most of the rest of the world has now Been There, Done That.

I say shut down the American military-industrial complex, re-tool the factories to produce the hardware for widespread solar electricity and wind electricity, train a million folks to install and maintain the above, and train another million to give medical care to Baby Boomers, and educate the rest of us on how to grow beans, tomatoes, squash, and potatoes.

And garlic.

Also on CommonDreams this morning is this important post on climate change. Here's the take-away sentence:

"There is a profound disconnect between actions that policy circles are considering and what the science demands for preservation of the planet."

Think about it.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

anyone need tickets to Winterfolk?

See my craigslist ad. This generally sold-out concert is THIS Saturday night.

We go every year, but this year we were invited to a friend's special birthday party that night, so we can't go.

We have 2 tickets and other friends have 2 more they'd like to sell. We paid $30 (admission + $2 service charge) each - asking $28 (face value).

There is a guy in Vancouver who is interested, but, if you act now, and don't make me drive to Vancouver, I'll knock off another couple of dollars.

UPDATE: Sorry, the guy in Vancouver is definitely taking my 2 tickets, but I think the other 2 are still available. Let me know if interested.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I just don't get it. Obama appoints a Republican Senator from a state with a Democratic governor to head Commerce, and permits the Republicans to insist that another Republican be appointed to take the vacant Senate seat.

What part of "we won the election and Republicans are totally discredited" does he not understand? Seems like a GOPer in charge of Commerce would be a reasonable tradeoff for the Dems to get that magic 60 Senate seats (assuming Franken finally makes it). Instead, they get one of Their Own in a significant cabinet position and the go-ahead to continue their Obstruct-Without-Shame policies.

Yes, we are being bi-partisan, but they must think we are total patsies.

It's extremely frustrating.

something for these troubled times


Monday, February 02, 2009

old news

can we finally agree that making a big deal about a 23 year-old celebrity who is photographed smoking marijuana is so 1990?

I mean, really, there are many more important issues to think about.

For example, this.

worth reading

David Neiwert's blog is always thought-provoking. Latest post has this conclusion:

"In fact, all this shouting is just cover for Republicans' greatest and deepest fear: That Obama in fact will succeed. That progressive "socialism" (as they call it) actually will make people's lives better, heal the economy, and get the nation back on its feet. That the nation's working people will finally get a clear view of which side is on their side. That the public will finally see that not only is Conservatism an abject failure, it's a fraud."

Yes, more of this, please.