March 21, 2005

Change in Plans.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:43 pm

I was supposed to be on a flight this morning to California for a business trip. Instead, I found myself at the doctor’s office being treated for an extremely painful infection, which kept me from travelling and will keep me away from the keyboard for a couple “horizontal days” while the meds kick in.

The timing of the onset was fortuitous, because had I gotton on the plane, I probably would have to have been wheeled off the damned thing and then suffer this in a hotel room.

I’ll be back when I feel a bit better.

March 20, 2005

Terri Schiavo.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:15 pm

This is a tragic case.

Here’s what I said about it in 2003, and I feel the same way today.

Update: Thanks to Randy and Enlighten for letting me know that the link was screwed up. I think it’s better now.

Wildlife Meets Serious Technology.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 3:36 pm

The following are three pictures taken from the USS Honolulu, a Los Angeles Class, Fast Attack Submarine. The pictures reportedly were taken approximately 280 miles from the North Pole.

The boat received visitors:

Picture One

Picture Two

Picture Three
Very cool.

Thanks to my friend and bodyguard, Ken, for the pics.

March 19, 2005

Saturday Phone Fun.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 6:46 pm

I got a phone call from this guy just as I was pulling into the mondo liquor store parking lot this afternoon. I was there to pick up some stuff for Easter and for the Post. I sat in the parking lot on the cell phone as we spent about a half hour talking about blogging, booze and music (mostly guitar players).

As a rule, I don’t behave responsibly in liquor stores, much to the delight of my credit card company, but this was supposed to be a trip to buy booze for other people, not for me. However, after spending all that time talking to my Georgia friend about booze, I wound up tossing a couple bottles of primo bourbon in the already-way-too-full cart – for me.

Oh yeah, the real purpose of the call was to figure out why I cannot leave a farookin’ comment at his site. We never really got around to talking much about that.

Just Damn!

Spammer Prose.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 3:32 pm

Of course, there is absolutely nothing good about comment spam. We all spend an inordinate amount of time trying to block it, and, once spammed, to quickly dispatch it to the cyber trash bin.

I do, however, find it curious that these shithooks think that the little messages they insert into comments really would fool someone into believing that it is a legitimate comment and not delete it. After all, these little love notes are intended for bloggers, and I doubt that there is a blogger on the planet that would be fooled by them.

What I find even more curios is that the persons with the sophistication to figure out how to create spambots that can distribute nine gazillion comments with one mouse click can’t manage to put one or two reasonable sentences together.

Here are a few examples that I cut and pasted directly from some of the actual “comments” I have received. As such, they are exactly as they appeared in comments section.

Comment: Lovely, I must say, there is not so much themes, which deserve a comment. This one is realy needful

Damn, I had always thought that I did have realy much themes. I’ll just have to work harder, as I do not wish to write needful posts.

Comment: 228 there is not enough time in the day, I dont even know where to start.

How about starting by telling me what’s with the “228?”

Comment: Funky days. Been browsing too long. Like your design simple but effective.

You’ve damned sure been doing something too long. Do you have hair on your palms?

Comment: I love your site. It´s really a pleasure to read through all this interesting stuff and it home.

Yep, it home just fine thanks.

Comment: It´s really a great joy being here. Your site is a varied mixture of the latest news, specified information and activ power.

Thanks, buddy. I avoid unspecified information like the plague, and I do strive for activ power, because inactiv power is hell on one’s bowels.

Comment: Hallo you! Great site. I found exactly the information I was looking for. I will recommendyou page to all my friends.

Hallo you too. I’m really happy that you will recommendme page to your friends, who most certainly live in a place where they have to cut their food with tongue depressors.

Comment: I do like this blog a lot. thanks for keeping all the spammers off it

Thank you. irony must have been your major at the home.

They’d be funny, if they weren’t so gott-damned hateful.

March 18, 2005


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:37 pm

Lately, there seems to be a bit of an upsurge of people impersonating police officers in connection with the commission of serious crimes. There are also those instances where the impersonator is arrested, but it is not readily apparent why the person decided to pretend to be a cop.

It’s the latter instance that reminded of a brief episode that took place when I was probably about seventeen years old.

My friend and I were in his car just cruising around the town on a Saturday afternoon. It was common to drive up and down the main street, which ran through my hometown, as well as one town to the south and three towns to the North. We would cruise on the same street through the five towns for hours on end, listening to the radio, shooting the breeze, and trying to look cool. We were young, and gas was cheap.

On this particular Saturday, after several hours of this mindless back and forth on Main Street, we became hungry and took a turn off the main drag to the part of the town where my friend lived so that we could go to “Big Nick’s Pizzeria” for a soda and a couple slices. The place was aptly named, because Big Nick was pushing 500 pounds, but I digress.

Parking was tight by Big Nick’s place, so my friend parked in front of a fire hydrant near the pizzeria. As he was turning the ignition off, the conversation went as follows:

Me: “I don’t think we should park here.”

Friend: “Waddya mean? We won’t be here that long.”

Me: “There’s a cop over there, and he is watching us.”

Friend: “Where’s the cop?”

Me: (pointing) “For Chrissakes, he’s right there on the sidewalk. He’s twenty feet away and he’s looking at where you parked the car.”

Friend: (pointing) “You mean him?”

Me: “Yeah. You better start the car before he starts to write a ticket.”

Friend: (laughing) “Don’t worry about him. He’s not a cop. That’s Sookie.” [rhymes with “rookie”]

Me: “Sookie?”

Friend: “Yeah, everybody around here knows Sookie. He’s not all there, but his thing is dressing up like a cop. He doesn’t bother anybody, so nobody pays much attention to him. Besides, if you look closer, you can see he’s not a real cop. Check it out. He’s wearing black sneakers with holes in them and he’s got no gun.”

Me: “I can’t believe that the cops haven’t arrested the guy, or at least give him a hard time.”

Friend: “Nah, they all know Sookie means no harm. They leave him alone. No, wait! There was one time that he got himself in a little trouble. Skippy the cop must have dropped his book of summonses; Sookie found it and was walking up and down the street “ticketing” cars. When Skippy saw what Sookie was doing, he took back his Summons book and raised hell with Sookie. Supposedly, Sookie told Skippy that he was sorry and it wouldn’t happen again, and that was the end of it.”

I have no doubt that Skippy had to explain to his boss why a bunch of summonses were missing from his book, but I also have no doubt that Skippy’s boss knew Sookie and that’s where it ended.

Sadly, this would never happen now. Today’s “Sookie” would be cuffed, and arrested and would wind up in the lockup until someone bailed him out. Counsel would be appointed for him, and he would either have to plead or face a trial and a sentence. Some group would then surface claiming that Sookie’s rights were violated by the police and sue the town. The press would be all over it. The case would probably wind up in the Supreme Court.

I liked it the way it was.

March 17, 2005

Computer [In]Security at the IRS.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:20 pm points to an unsettling story entitled, “IRS Workers Prone to Hackers.”

More than one-third of Internal Revenue Service employees and managers who were contacted by Treasury Department inspectors posing as computer technicians [trying to remedy a “network problem”] provided their computer login and changed their password [to the one suggested by the inspector].

Believe it or not, this was a fifty percent improvement from the results of a similar audit performed in 2001 when seventy-one percent of IRS employees gave up their login names and passwords.

It is safe to assume that none of these employees intended to do anything wrong, and, more to the point, they had no idea that they had done anything wrong. After all, in a large organization, where employees don’t normally have interactions with the organization’s network personnel, an employee receiving such a call could be caught off guard and, in an effort to be cooperative, provide the requested information.

What is needed is: (a) a better understanding on the part of managers and employees of the reality that there are people (indeed, some very bad people) who can and will use the same techniques to hack into critical information systems, and (b) the training of managers and employees to automatically respond properly to such inquiries. The rule should be simple to state, and there should be no exceptions. says it clearly:

Anyone who asks for any password is up to no good. Anyone who asks for your password over the phone is a liar. Anyone who needs to know your password already knows it, can reset it, or can bypass it entirely.

The simple rule is, “Just say no.”

Today … I’m “Seamus”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 3:37 am

Shamrock n stuff.jpg

March 16, 2005


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 6:35 pm

It should come as no surprise to those who visit here with some regularity that I am a techno-dope. Unlike some who can change templates and blogging software with the ease of changing socks, I am delighted when I can successfully add something uncomplicated to the sidebar.

Perhaps a part of the reason that I am a techno-dope is that I am a techno-chicken. The non-techno-chickens go through life without fear of pushing every button, flipping every switch and clicking on every available option to see what happens, and this is true for everything from appliances to computer stuff. They have absolutely no concern that their pushing, flipping and clicking might result in a techno-disaster. Of course, by doing this they learn how things work and avoid becoming techno-dopes.

Unlike those techno-swashbucklers, I have never been a pusher, flipper or clicker just for the purpose of seeing what will happen. I tend to want to know what will happen before I push, flip or click. As such, I often find myself spending an inordinate amount of time reading “instructions” that quite often don’t even come close to addressing the concerns of a serious techno-chicken. “Computer instructions” pose an even greater problem because they tend to be written in a language that only vaguely resembles English, and even in the portions in which some of the “English” is understandable, the understandable bits are rendered useless because they have been polluted with liberal amounts of Geekspeak.

For the most part, I have learned to live with being a techno-chicken and, thereby having become a techno-dope, but sometimes, I’m confronted with a forehead-slapping example of my profound techno-dipshittery. The most recent instance involved the “Back” button on the Internet Explorer browser.

I have been using Internet Explorer for something like 12 years, both at home and at work, and as such I have 12 years of web-surfing experience. For twelve years, when following links left me five or six screens away from where I started, here was the drill to get back to where I started:

Click “Back” arrow in upper left of screen … wait for the previous page to load…

Click “Back” arrow in upper left of screen … wait for the previous page to load…

Click “Back” arrow in upper left of screen … wait for the previous page to load…

Click “Back” arrow in upper left of screen … wait for the previous page to load…

Click “Back” arrow in upper left of screen … wait for the previous page to load…

Then, one day last week I decided to click on the little downward pointing black triangle to the right of the “Back” button.
back icon.jpg

Holy crap!!! Before me appeared all the places I had recently visited, and at the bottom of the list was the “History” icon. Giddy with the joy of discovery, I clicked the icon, and, holy crap!!! There were all the sites that I had been to since I sat down at the computer.

I figure that I must have lost a total of about a month of my life clicking on the “Back” button and waiting…clicking and waiting…clicking and waiting. Pathetic, I know.

Look, it isn’t easy to admit to myself, much less to the world, to being such a techno-maroon, but I hope that this exercise will prevent me from having to seek techno-chicken therapy.

I suppose that being a techno-chicken is a good idea around firearms, explosives and airplane cockpits where pressing buttons, flipping switches and clicking on things without knowing what will happen can lead to really bad things, but I damned well shouldn’t have waited twelve years to click on that little, black, downward pointing, black farookin’ triangle.

March 15, 2005

A Real Tennessee Squire.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:34 pm

Eric logo.jpgAlthough I was born and bred in the Garden State, I have been a “Tennessee Squire” for many years (Teetotalers need not apply). As such, I “own” one square inch of property in Tennessee, and I regularly receive newsletters telling me about the goings on around “my property,” which is always fun to read.

The truth is that it is not particularly difficult to become a Tennessee Squire. All one needs to do is to buy a fancy-schmancy bottle of Jack Daniels, and you’re invited. Fill out the papers, and you’re in.

However, it is an entirely different matter to actually know a genuine Tennessee Squire. I had the good fortune of having spent a half-hour shooting the breeze on the phone with one such gentleman this evening as I drove home from work on Route 78.

“Hey Jeeyum, it’s Eric.”

That’s where we began, and before I knew it, thirty miles had passed and I was parked in my driveway wishing we could continue over a few cocktails followed by dragging out the guitars and making some music.

Eric has an ongoing love affair with words, which is obvious in his writing and infectious to his readers. He is a truly a Southern Gentleman. But … children … (as Eric would say), don’t jump to conclusions. While he may be a man who easily finds beauty in a morning mist as it gently caresses the earth, he is also a Marine who I want on my side when the shit hits the fan.

I am happy to say that he’s my friend, and I have this blog to thank for that.

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