Saturday, August 7, 2010

Posterous Woes

Hmm... Everything's been stuck for the last several hours on Posterous. Sorry for the eventual flood

Gaming Styles

I've played first-person shooters and third-person shooters. Don't recall ever playing second-person shooters.

Funny Things Seen on Friends' Pages

There's something intrinsically funny about seeing a jewish friend dressed as Santa (ah: college)

Ever Have One of Those Days

Where it feels like you may just be someone on their deathbed, in the throes of "life flashing before my eyes", and the life you think you're living, you're just becoming aware that, "nope, this is all memory" and that the lights will soon be going out?

I wonder how old I was when I died?

Cat Fight (II)

Scratch that: tufts of fur *not* missing. May be found in mouth of male bengal cat.

Cat Fight (I)

One slightly-used female bengal cat available for immediate pickup. Missing a few tufts of fur.

Expressing Dissatisfaction

Nine times out of ten - maybe even more frequently than that - when you bother to write to a business to declare your dissatisfaction with your interaction with them, it's a wasted effort. However, I still, frequently, bother to muster up the effort. Dunno whether it's actually because I'm expecting a satisfactory response or if I'm just not a "keep it to myself" kind of guy.
/me shrugs
Whatever. Sent one such letter to German Gourmet (a little shop in Falls Church, VA that I'd always previously enjoyed going to), a little while ago. Interesting to see what, if any, response I get.

Health Insurance

Always kind of disillusioning when you realize "I need a $2500 raise just to keep up with increases in medical insurance outlays"

Friday, August 6, 2010

Evolution of an (Online) Identity

Back in college, I got tired of the various iterations of my name being foisted on me for my userid. So, I figured, "try a new handle". I've always had a reddish beard - kinda rust colored - so, it seemed to make a kind of sense to use that as the basis for my screen name. Thus ferric was born (and, along with it, I sometimes used "Rusty Waters" rather than "Thomas Jones" as the full name on my accounts). As the years went by, and more people got on the internet, I was finding that "ferric" was frequently not an available userid when I'd go to sign up for a site. Fortunately, as this happened, supported lengths for userids went from 8-or-less characters to much higher counts. Thus, I tacked on "oxide" to create my ferricoxide screen names (indeed, I first did this when I was setting up my Yahoo account so I could use their messenger service).

Ironically (and I'm not using a word starting with iron to be cute), I later got into computers as my profession. Ferricoxide is in common use in that field (or at least was, dunno if such is still the case) as the medium on which data was bound to tapes and disks (see I'm big on data, so, my screen name came to be even more "fitting".

Unfortunately, as time progresses, even ferricoxide is no longer as unique as I'd like it to be. And, unlike back in my IRC days where I could use chanserv to reserve/enforce my name ownership, no such thing is in place, today. Ironically, it's actually been easier for me to find thjones2 unused than either ferric or ferricoxide. I'd reuse my old thj2 Internic handle, but most sites refuse to allow userids that short.

Over the years, I've periodically strayed from use of my primary IDs. This has mostly been on forum-style sites. Mostly, I'd done this to get a measure of anonymity. Unfortunately, I seem to have a distinctive writing style. So, I've frequently found people PM me asking "weren't you 'X' on 'Site Y'" or "didn't you used to be 'X' on here"? So, it kind of got to be a case of, "why hide," so I went back to my old userids. Easier to remember that way. Besides, if people could tell who I was from my writing, it's not like I'm going to be able to hide from the ever-more-clever data mining alogorithms.

The joys of name-squatting on sites: going to use the site, later, only to discover you already have an account!

Things You Can Only Get Away With When You Both Know You Love Each Other

This should probably be a recurring series. As much as I like to joke that we stay married out of spite, I think it's probably because we have a fundamental connection that allows us to interact with each other like a comedy team. Case in point, today: Donna was trying to "cuddle" while I was working from home. This was part of the interchange when I was wanting to get back to my work:
Me to Donna: I love you, too ...I just prefer to do it at a distance
We have many interactions of this nature. I sometimes wonder whether this is how Rodney Daingerfield and his wife were?

Couldn't You Just Leave Them There?

Never did get the whole "shave the eyebrows off just to draw them back in" thing

Stories like this make me wonder how much more JoePa we have...

I mean, it may just be that he's hitting one of those age jumps (for whatever reason, it seems like we don't so much age linearly as much as, suddenly, several years worth of our age expresses itself, then we go on some more at that level til the next age-batch hits). It may also be that we'll soon be seeing the passing of a legend. I mean, I gotta think that he's one of those people that, regardless of overall health, retirement would quickly put him in the ground.


What Happened to My Outlets?

Two days in a row of Fail Whale.

FB's been having issues, today.

Tumblr's been slow for the past several days.

Posterous was being DOS'ed, the other day, as well.


Tardiness (Chronic)

why the fuck is it so hard for some people to be something other than late

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Death By Hanging

When hanging someone, other than the mess, why do they care if they pop the head off?

Dear Last.FM:

Does it make any kind of sense to recommend a group to me an NOT have any of their tracks to listen to??

Say What (Musical Suggestions)

Downside to Last.FM recommendations: you frequently get recommendations based on listening to shit you don't remember

Midgets Beware!

There must be a high punching-hazard for midgets at industrial shows.

History Sifting

Good news: Google still retains archives of Usenet postings going back to the mid-1980s. This means that my early Internet presence/history is still out there.

Bad news: Google's search utilities for those posts is godawful. If I enter the same search parameters ten times, I will get back ten, slightly different sets of search results. Each search return set is of different size and composition (with unpredictable overlap). Even more fun, an initial search for my author name applied to ALL possible news groups returns a smaller data set than my author name applied against a more specific listing of news groups. So, one must do a high-level search to find as many of the various newsgroups one has posted under, then do more specific author/newsgroup searches in order to maximize results.

Worse news: apparently, in (what I can only assume was) an effort to cut down on SPAM address-harvesting  possibilities, someone went through and munged posting addresses. For example, my primary PSU-era posting ID of "THJ100@PSUVM.PSU.EDU" has been munged to be "THJ...@PSUVM.PSU.EDU". Compounding this, not only does this make it so I can't search for any articles posted under my old posting IDs, the Google search tools think that "THJ...@PSUVM.PSU.EDU" is a bad search parameter.

All of this is compounded by the fact that I've posted under a number of userids, over the years, and a similar number of author names. While I generally used my full name in my "From:", there was a non-trivial number of posts where I used a variety of nom de plumes. Fortunately, I've a pretty good memory, so I remember most of those names, userids, etc. - allowing me to come up with a fairly exhaustive set of search parameters to use. So, even though's search functionality sucks, I've been able to pull down 350+ pieces of my Usenet posting-history. However, I've been fairly prolific throughout my entire Internet-posting life (what you see scattered across your screens on a daily basis is nothing new). So, 350+ posts over more than a decade's worth of Usenet posts far under-represents my total output.

Oh well. It just proves that, to a degree, the Internet does forget.

At any rate, what do I do with what I have found? There's no good engines for converting flat text files into a blog format - especially not one that preserves the original chronology.

The Fail-Whale rides again!

The search interface is fucktardedly inefficient and flakey

Waking up with a headache is a suboptimal way to start the day

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Missed Opportunities

Damn... I shoulda taken a shot at this one when it was first posted. Mighta been a cool one to get on...

From: Sean Laverty 
Subject: Looking for an SGI admin in LA
Date: 1998/06/15
Message-ID: <>#1/1
X-Deja-AN: 362920907
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary="------------7BF6FA260CD48AE27CDCF6AB"
Organization: South Park
Newsgroups: comp.sys.sgi.misc,comp.sys.sgi.admin,comp.sys.sgi.marketplace,comp.unix.admin

This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; name="admin_ad"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Disposition: inline; filename="admin_ad"

Wanted: Systems Administrator for South Park
        CG Animated Production

  Looking for an experienced systems administrator to
help set up an manage a fully digital animated
production.  Duties will involve supporting 50-100
artists and production personnel, developing tools
for shot tracking and rendering, render wrangling,
and the management of several terabytes of database
and image data.  The data management will involve
continuous film and video data transefers.

- Experience required with:

  SGI/Irix workstations and servers, Linux, Windows95,
  NT, and Mac administration
  IP/Appletalk network administration
  Tape operations
  Perl, c/c++ programming
  Alias/Wavefront administration/support

- Experience helpful with:

  Tape library management
  SQL database configuration and management
  ATM/Ethernet internetwork configuration and management
  HTML/web page development
  email server administration
  Legato NetWorker backup software
  Photoshop and Corel Draw administration/support
  DDR operations
  Avid administration/support

- Production experience helpful
- Positive dispostion and good communication skills are   

  We are located in Marina Del Rey, Ca.

  Please email resume to or fax
  to (310) 302-1601.



Fuck FaceBook and their 10 free credits. I'm not going to participate in FB's efforts to create an internal money system. When I was a kid, I always hated when arcades wanted me to use tokens rather than quarters, even if the did (this is dating myself, for sure) give you five tokens for a dollar. I don't willingly do "private money" when I have any other options.

Damn, Gina!

We've been doing the whole home garden thing for a few years, now.

Our first years were with a raised bed in the back yard. We built it from several lengths of pressure-treated 4x4 lumber and a lot of gardening soil from Hollywoods & Vines. Our friend, Keith, came over with his radial saw and helped us cut the lumber so we could make the boxes from it. The first several years produced modest harvests of peppers, beans, tomatoes, strawberries, chard, onions and cucumbers. The cucumbers were frequently disasters; the strawberries never survived the birds and only a small number of tomatoes survived the squirrels; onions almost never survived Puckett. But, what we got was still nice. Oh... And the peppers were brutally hot - even the normally tame banana peppers would be volcanic. The modicum of success we had always made us want to do more, but, between the shadiness of the back yard and the presence of diggy dogs, it wasn't terribly practical to do so.

Two seasons ago, Donna decided to try doing "companion planting". Specifically, she started planting onions amongst the roses (out in the front yard). The first harvests were small - both in the number and size of the resulting onions. But, like what grew in the back yard, they were a very tasty supplement to what we otherwise bought from the local farmers' markets.

Tonight, we just had some of this year's onions. This years crop has been considerably larger both in the number of onions produced and in the size of those onions. Interestingly, much like the hot peppers, our onions are very strong. I can tell when Donna's cutting these onions up, clear from the opposite end of the house. Donna finds that they manage to overcome the protection of her onion-chopping glasses. And, once placed in the chopped-onion container, every time you open the lid, a bloom of assertive onion essence comes billowing out, stinging the eyes and lighting up the nose. They are strong.

Whatever it is about how we grow onions and peppers, they are just much more potently flavored than any we get at the farmers' markets and ridiculously moreso than ones we used to get at the grocery stores.

Who I've Been

So, over the years, I've had a few internet-reachable userids. I had a bunch of addresses while at Penn State:
Plus had a few accounts I'd scored at schools and organizations around the US while attending Penn State (had accounts at UCR, Denver School of Mining, Case Western Reserve University and one or two others. I was also a fairly early adopter of personal internet. So, I managed to collect a couple of addresses before buying my own domain name:
Of course, once Email became part of life in the working world, I had a few there, as well: (I think)
I've also got a PSU Alumni Association email, floating out there, somewhere. I've got email addresses from some organizations I was part of (e.g., ACM and IEEE). But, none of them were really used fororiginating content, so they aren't searchable.

Unfortunately, it seems there's far less findable by Google than there used to be. And, what is findable, seems incomplete. While I'm able to turn up a few hundred Usenet posts from the 1990s (and the Internet Archive's saved some of my old web sites), there's not nearly as much retrievable as I know that I've posted.

I sometimes like to see what, of my old Internet-presence, I can dig up. Some have said that "the Internet never forgets." For better or worse, my experience seems to show that to not be completely accurate. It seems that, each time I look, there's less and less of the old stuff out there to be found. I'm also an email packrat, but various data accidents and media crashes have caused much of that to disappear. In all, it feels like my past is eroding. Oh well, I can prove what an early-adopting, Internet-relic I am ...for now

Speaking of early adoption... When InterNIC was the only game in town, I'd registered my domain early enough to score "thj2" as my InterNIC "handle". That's gone, too, of course. Lost it when I moved from NetSol to GoDaddy.

Repair Tech WTF

I don't get why they still make copier/printer repair techs wear nice clothes while working on machines


You cant spell 'evil' without 'vi.'" -- me in a Usenet post, circa 1996

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wasted Optimization

Seems like every time I get things "all set up", I end up taking a bit of a break


I need to find a way to snarf down all my old usenet posts from the Google archives

Sounds Like...

Opeth's "Blackwater Park" is evocative of Frank Zappa

Coincidence? I think not.

Donna didn't see the humor in the notion that the DC Snipers and she both started in Tacoma before reaching DC

I Don't Believe in Signs

So, I was doing my daily FaceBook reading. I'd noticed that a friend had stated that she was a "fire" sign (was in relation to a costume she was going to be wearing to an upcoming party).

Now, I'm not that big a believer in things like astrology. It always seemed sub-rational that you'd expect to be able to predict people's actions, future, and predispositions simply based on their date and/or time of birth. That said, growing up in the 70s, you couldn't get by without someone telling you what your "sign" was.

For the record, my traditional zodiac sign is "Aquarius" (and an early Aquarius, at that, having been born just four days into the Aquarian date range). Of course, if you get really picayune, I'd have to note that I'm a Tropical Aquarius or a Sidereal Capricorn - "Tropical" is just the more common western zodiac orientation/reference. (*Ugh*)

Knowing your traditional zodiac sign, apparently, wasn't good enough for some people. They had to be multi-cultural with their (to me) "nonsense". So, again, more sign info was foisted on me. While I'd initially been led to believe that I was a dog under the Chinese system, this is apparently not the case. Ever striving for accuracy and information on things, I looked it up: if people are going to pigeonhole me, then I want to see what level of basis they have to do so. At any rate, what I'd taken, for years, at face value, turned out to be inaccurate. Apparantly, I'm actually a "rooster" under the Chinese sign system. Even though you'd assume that people that bother to label you or themselves would bother to know more about what they're doing, apparently that's too much to ask. The people that had previously told me I was a "dog" had failed to account for the offset-overlap of the Chinese and Julian calendars. In other words, even though the bulk of the Julian/Chinese overlap for 1970 would be "year of the dog", my birth date isn't in that overlap. Instead, I'm the Chinese equivalent of 1969. As such, I'm a "rooster". So, all of you who were so sure that I matched dogish tendencies can stuff it. And, just for a further level of precision, I am an earth-rooster rather than a metal-dog (though, "metal dog" mighta been kinda cool).

Any way, the Chinese stuff is particularly irrelevant, given that (assumption, here) the prior friend's "fire" sign assertion was based on traditional western zodiac association. A quick web search indicates that, I'm, somehow, an "air" sign. Seems kinda counter-intuitive for "the water-bearer" to be an air sign, but, none of this shit ever made much sense to me (insert "shrug" here). Looking at one source, I should be a talkative, social person. Well... Except for in writing, that just really isn't me. It wasn't really my father, either (as a Libra, he was also, apparently, an air sign). Granted, the same site said:
Objective and rational no emotionalism here. The air signs are so objective they can become impractical in their actions and beliefs. Superficial, these signs never want to get into heavy emotional discussions about the dreaded "feelings" dialog that are more important to watery signs. Like the air, these signs hate to be restricted. Freedom of thought and movement are their most cherished desires.
And, I grant that much of that could be applied to me. However, it seems that unless there's a near 100% overlap, you can't really ascribe my predilections as being based upon my date of birth as much as it is my genetic makeup and upbringing.  Besides, were I to go the zodiacs route, I'd tend to have greater agreement with the descriptions I've found for earth-rooster than for either Aquarius or Air. :p

I Suppose This Explains It

So, I was reviewing my upcoming open enrollment changes and noticed that, other than my yearly outlay for coverage going up nearly $2500, our coverage plan was essentially the same as last year. Given the prior year-to-year change that doubled the co-pay on prescription meds and office visits, I was expecting more of the same, this year. Turns out that, contrary to the gushy email that HR sent out, the realities for why there were no similar changes this year are as much due to good plan performance the prior year as they were an effort to avoid having to implement new Obamacare provisions:

...plans will lose their "grandfather" status if insurers significantly cut benefits or increase out-of-pocket spending. Plans that lose this status will have to apply all of the changes required by the law.

In other words, had my employer actually bumped my co-pays up, they'd likely have lost their grandfather status. This would have put them on the hook for even more drastic healthcare related funding requirements:

  • Free preventive care: eliminating co-payments and co-insurance in 2011 for preventive services.
  • Unrestricted doctor choice: essentially eliminating the requirement for pre-auth or referral for use of services such as pediatrics, OBGYN, etc.
  • Level charges for emergency services: The new health law requires that insurers remove prior authorizations for ER services. Also, insurers cannot charge higher co-payments or co-insurance for out-of-network providers for an ER visit
  • Cover dependents until age 26: The legislation mandates that insurers will have to provide dependent coverage up to age 26 for all individual and group policies.
  • Patient-friendly appeals process: In other words, for grandfathered plans, treatment appeals will still, heavily favor the insurer/employer rather than the insured.

So long as they're able to keep the plans fairly static and still have them "affordable enough" for employees to continue to participate, they're golden. They get to keep things as they always were - even as they add new employees. I imagine many other employers are doing likewise and will do so until such time as it's more advantageous to dump us all out into public care plans. All the while, the backers of Obamacare can keep a straight face when they say that they've made changes for the better (even if only in theory, not practice)

Open Query

Does pregnancy count as an STD?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Default Annoyance

Hate the default "new document" for Excel includes three pages. Every .xls I get has three sheets even though only the first ever has data.

More of the Same

So.. July was hottest on record - tying the previous record set in 1993. Rest of the week's looking to be progressively brutal.

Man-up and Play

Gotta love living in Deadskinz territory: get to listen to all of the BS surrounding Hainesworth and his punk-ass bullshit.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

As Seen on TV (Guide)

Every time I see "Fire Down Below" in the TV channel listings, my first impulse is that it's a show about STDs.

Capitalization is Key

Was amused to see a privacy site talking about FaceBook giving access to the ids of their users. Isn't the id exactly what they're after?

We Can't Have Nice Things

Cats always look so disappointed after they've just murdered their new, favorite toy (flying/jumping bug, mouse, etc.).

Watch Out For That Turn

When responding to a fire call, remember you're not playing GTA:

Soggy Internets

FiOS Internet seems to be full of fail, today (any time there's been rain, it seems).

A Watery Endeavor

Digging a hole to the other side of the earth from the DC area would result in drowning...

Live to My 90s? Shyeah, Right.

The various "life clock" type things tell me I've got more life left than I've consumed. The ache where my liver sits tells me "that's cake"

Dear Squirrels:

I’m not a big fan of sharing the fruits of my gardens with you. However, if I must, I would really appreciate it if you just took the stuff and ate it all. This bullshit with ganking the best tomatoes, eating the centers out of them, then lining up their cored-out husks on top of the fence like some kind of sadistic trophy-shelf makes me want to leave a couple of very pretty, VERY painful poisoned fruits for you.

Yard Optimization

Mowing the lawn's quick if you only bother to mow the really high areas (and turn the other fast-growing parts into garden boxes).

Inverse Expectations

In general, I don't sleep much. If the average human being truly requires 8-10 hours of sleep, per night, then I am what you'd refer, in statistics, as an "outlier". Much like you alway had a kid in class that blew the bell curve, I pull the sleep curve down. My sweet spot seems to be in the "just shy of five-hour" zone. Below three hours, too many days in a row (say, about two straight weeks at 3hrs/night) I start to get muddy. Beyond six hours, and I seem to get into a state where I spend the rest of the day "dopey". And, in this dopey state, I find myself even more irritable than my normal, "sunny" disposition.

Today, I got seven hours of sleep. Possibly more. Yet, I find myself feeling utterly sapped of energy - borderline "nappy". And, my temper is on a fucking hair-trigger. I can't deal with Donna. I can't deal with the dogs. It's definitely been one of those "why the fuck did the universe let me see another day" kind of day.

I'm surprised I'm even writing, given that these are the kinds of days where I most tend to feel like unplugging forever.