Sunday, October 31, 2010

Frank Rich in the NY Times - nails it

"What made the Tea Party most useful was that its loud populist message gave the G.O.P. just the cover it needed both to camouflage its corporate patrons and to rebrand itself as a party miraculously antithetical to the despised G.O.P. that gave us George W. Bush and record deficits only yesterday.

The more the Tea Party looks as if it’s calling the shots in the G.O.P., the easier it is to distract attention from those who are actually calling them — namely, those who’ve cashed in and cashed out as ordinary Americans lost their jobs, homes and 401(k)’s."

more twitter-bashing

I love to disrespect Twitter, because I simply don't see how you should care about my 144 character thoughts. On the other hand, this blog present me with the opportunity to expand on my neuroses, and include photos, like the attached one that recently arrived in my mailbox.

Yeah, right. Sam, you've got much better things to do, than to monitor my twice-a-year tweets,

Hint: next one is coming in a couple of days.

Meanwhile, I am off to KBOO shortly to do my pre-election show on the Yiddish Hour.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Today's terror news

The weekend before an election - how surprising!


boats against the current...

We have been talking with friends about a possible trip next year, that would include a few days in Paris. No way of knowing, at this point, if it will happen, but this talk led somewhere.

A few days ago, between books, I absently picked out, from my bookshelf, Hemingway's memoir of his days in Paris, in the 20's. I have read it several times, and am always surprised when I get to the last section, which covers his adventures with Scott Fitzgerald, during the period when Gatsby was just being released (to middling interest).

I have also read that book many times, and picked it up again, a couple of nights ago. Within ten pages, I was again captured, and, a few minutes ago, came once again to the final haunting passage.

It is unquestionably a great book. Not perfect. Every so often, a mystifying word or phrase is tossed in - jarringly odd amid the rest of the narrative.

But, there is the overall sadness of it; the tragedy of the multiple failures; the simple summation of Tom and Daisy as folks who go thru life having their messes cleaned up by others, and, finally, the realization of the ultimate sadness of Fitzgerald's own life.

These things color this Fall afternoon, where the cool late sunshine tries to bring back the warmth of a summer now past. Must pick the remaining tomatoes.

Four days until this election. I fear for this republic.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

just a few days more...

...and the annoying (understatement) political attack ads will go away for another year.

I dunno, but it's sure looking like Germany 1931, with thugs beating up anyone that dares to question the Party-that's-about-to-take-power.

Why is it that, time and time again, a society wills itself into disaster? What genetic marker has evolved that makes humans under stress decide that pitchforks, nooses and pyres are the solution to their troubles?

It is reported that over $3 billion has been spent on this round of elections. I can only conclude that the potential financial gains from purchasing congressfolk far outweigh the cost. Nothing like having puppets, when you've got some specific goals in mind (i.e. finishing the looting that began under Reagan, and reached its moment of perfection in Sept 2008, right on time).

See Olberman's wrap-up of Tea Party puppets. What's wrong with this picture?

By the way, now significant evidence exists to impeach both Roberts ("I have a total respect for judicial precedent") and Thomas ("That woman is lying") for perjury. Remember Clinton, when they said "the only thing that matters is that he lied under oath, and we must do our duty and impeach."?

Hah. That'll be the day.

I remember a line from a Flying Burrito Brothers song of the early 70's: "I'm heading for the nearest northern border. Vancouver may be just my kind of town."

Monday, October 25, 2010

"More luck than brains"

This used to be our motto, years ago. Its truth still holds.

When we left portland saturday, I threw the snow chains into the back of my car, congratulating myself for my foresight.

And, indeed, waking up in K-Falls this morning, we see fresh snow on the hills, and the ODOT road report for OR58 early this morning said 'chains required.'

I went out to the car just now to look at the instructions for the chains, which I bought last year and never used.

I had grabbed the chains for karen's car, not mine.

Fortunately (here's the luck part), conditions are improving and the official status is now 'carry chains'.

By 2 this afternoon, when we leave for portland, it should all be ok. Now, the question becomes: do I confess or let it go?

Sunday, October 24, 2010


In a Shilo Inn, in Klamath Falls. We drove to ashland yesterday, had a superb dinner at Dragonfly, with Dylan, the saw a cute play (She Loves Me).

This morning, did some shopping, then Dylan made us a great lunch at Happy Falafel (pesto shrimp souvlaki - yum!), where appears to be pretty much running the show.

We headed east on OR 66, a twisty but amazingly scenic drive, with abundant fall colors.

We hit K-Falls by 2, and it's very blustery and rainy. We checked into the motel, got settled, got karen set up with high-speed internet so she could do some work, while I headed to the pool.

I lay in the spa, luxuriating in the hot water, watching a tee outside being blown around by wind and rain.

We got chits for 2 free glasses of wine at happy hour, that begins in a few minutes. Karen's hearing is tomorrow late morning, then we drive back to portland.

It's a lot of driving, but it's ok. Nice to be reminded that Oregon is a big, diverse place. With happy hours.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Roger Ebert on the Afterlife

Roger's review of the new Eastwood movie. The New Yorker didn't like it, but this review puts it into an entirely different light. Now I'm intrigued.

But there's much more here:

"We live, we die. That is not a tragedy. The tragedy would be never having been born. The number of possible lives that have never been lived is so large that actual lives represent a vanishingly small number after a decimal point and a great many zeros. We won a cosmic lottery by being not only alive but being self-aware and able to think rationally. That is cause for joy. We should collect our winnings and feel grateful when we die."

I read the above with a warm cat happily nested in my arms. Both of us felt grateful.

Nice way to start a Friday, don't you think?

thoughts on Netflix, Twitter, W, and Juan Williams

First, Netflix.

We were streaming a movie last night when we got the dreaded "your Internet connection has slowed" message. We gave up waiting, after nothing happened for several minutes (while I silently had nasty thoughts about Qwest). This morning, I read this:

"Netflix's streaming service has become so popular that it is now the largest source of U.S. Internet traffic during peak evening hours, according to Sandvine Inc., a Canadian company that supplies traffic-management equipment to Internet service providers.

Streaming by Netflix subscribers accounted for about one-fifth of that peak-time traffic, more than double the volume flowing from Google Inc.'s YouTube, Sandvine said."

Sigh - it was nice for a while. I remember the heady days (circa 1999) when we at Enron Broadband schemed to own the Internet video-streaming universe. Our plan was to divert all that traffic to a private national fiber network, keeping it separate from the 'Internet'. Maybe that was a pretty good model, after all. We'll never know.

Twitter: I was an early adopter, but stopped using it immediately, as I saw it as a total waste of my time. Your mileage may vary, but (see 'Netflix' above) I happened to check Twitter this morning, and all I see is the 'Twitter is over capacity' message. To me, the only Tweet worth following is StephenAtHome.

W in the news. This headline is simply horrifying. Bad ideas never die.

Juan Williams: now has a 2 million dollar contract with Fox News. He's HOME!!!! I have long thought his NPR 'commentaries' were consistently shallow and slanted to the Right - totally infuriating. I agree he should not have been fired for his comments - I have to believe that the pros at Fox suggested this gambit, to get out of his NPR contract. Mission Accomplished.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the first Chilean miner just emerged - me, too

Pretty amazing.

I just emerged from two days of feeling somewhat underground.

It happened yesterday at 12:46 pm. I was running what I thought was the first test of updating the email address on one Salesforce contact record. Imagine my horror when, ten seconds after sending the SQL thru the internet to the Salesforce server, I realized that I had just submitted the command to update EVERY email address, not just the one person's I had intended.

I trembled as I killed the Access process that had issued the command, praying that Salesforce would see that its originator was gone and STOP before too much damage was done, not knowing if it would stop before it had clobbered 35,000 records.

After I convinced myself I had done everything in my power, I logged back in and ran a test. 4100 Contact records now had the same email address, of my test person. Could be worse, but very bad.

I called the client and left voice messages, explaining that I had caused an emergency, and they needed to get everybody out of Salesforce until the backup could be restored. At the worst, I thought, any work done that (Monday) morning would have to be redone.

After some minutes of calling, I connected with a live person. They started making inquiries about a restore.

After a half-hour, it was revealed that the consultant who set up Salesforce for them had neglected to turn on the auto-backup function, and had never told them about its existence.

I drove over to the client, talked about options, grabbed the final version of the database which had supplied Salesforce with its converted data, and came home.

After some exploratory digging, I sadly concluded that writing an automated mass update was problematic, due to the many combinations of old and new data. There was nothing for it but to manually fix as much as possible.

I sat at my computer for the next 10 hours, manually examining each person's data and applying updates. It was horrifyingly slow. By midnight, I had resolved about a thousand cases.

I resumed this morning around 7. By 3 this afternoon, I was down to under 1700 left, and had concluded that it would take 2 more days to resolve the rest, and that the bulk of cases were where the bad email address had overlaid no address, rather than an existing good address.

I built a mass-update pass-thru query, to erase all remaining instances of the bad email address - it ran in about 45 seconds and I was done.

I walked outside, feeling like a miner who had been underground for two days, not to mention two months.

Now I can resume the program I was working on at the time of the catastrophe - which, as folks order trees in the coming months, will correctly update their good email addresses into Salesforce. Over time, the results of my one moment of programming inattention will diminish.

This has been the worst data-bungle of my 38-year career. Prior to that, the worst bungle occurred way back in my 2nd year as a computer programmer, which I may write about someday, as if you cared.

Congratulations to the engineers in Chile, who figured out what needed to be done, and, apparently, are about to deliver a bunch of men from what must have seemed to be, when it occurred, a horrible, silent, death sentence.

Un milagro!

Monday, October 04, 2010

coolest thing on my phone's browser

Don't know why it took so long to find this, but Wikipedia has a 'mobile' interface that breaks each entry up into multiple quick-loading pages. Perfect for random browsing and argument-settling.

URL is

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Home at last

Two busy weeks of traveling now over.

Cloudy and cool at the moment, but should brighten later. Perfect for digging potatoes and dealing with fallen leaves.

Most important - the cats seemed genuinely happy to have us back. Better enjoy it while we can!