Category Archives: Uncategorized

/me is happy.

Not eternally happy, nor blissfully happy, but happy enough.  I just found out that I can access my spiffy new mp3 player under linux through Amarok.  That makes loading podpackets a lot (lot) easier, since I don’t need to copy them to the thumbdrive, then to the laptop, then to the player.  I just copy them to the player. 

That’ll be handy tomorrow.  I’ve got a big big driving day — biggest work-related trip I’ve had in over three years. 

And I’ve gotten through my push-up work for today (four of five sets), although I’ve been giving myself more time between the sets than the one minute the program allows.  I’m going to start again on Monday with Week Three.  One more set and then to bed.  The goal is 15 (these are knee push-ups — I’m not nearly ready for that many regular pushups).  Thus far, I’ve done more push-ups than on Monday, and, while my arms and shoulders are tired, it’s not nearly as much as Monday (I was sore until Thursday).  Then I’m off until Monday.


Update: My last set is to be as many as I can do, with the minimum of 15. I did 25. This is good. I might even start next week with regular pushups using the Week One program.


I’ve got a fair amount of time on my hands these days, so I decided to take another shot at podcasting.  This time, rather than focusing on one topic, I’ve decided to work with whatever topics are of interest to me at the time.  Thus far, I’ve got one recorded and roughly edited.  I’m not going to set up an rss feed for it until I’ve got a few more of them done and have a better idea of how this is going to work.

So you’re invited and welcome to give it a listen and then provide some feedback if you would.  My original idea was to keep these under an hour, and this one was under 9 minutes, so it’s not requiring a huge footprint in your life at this juncture.  It just introduces the idea of what I’m going to do.  I’ve exported it in both .mp3 and .ogg formats (WinAmp will support .ogg format, and it’s smaller than .mp3, fwiw).  I’m looking for feedback about the content, the production quality, and whether or not you think adding pod-safe music would be a good or bad idea.  Also, any questions about any of the topic areas I’m going to be covering would be good.  Also, if this is something you’d pass along to people who you don’t think know me would also be good, since folks here are my beginning audience.

If the links there don’t work right yet, check back — I’m using a different interface to get them uploaded, and I’m not sure how it’ll work.

Update: Okay, I looked around and found a podcast host that makes sense for me to use — Podcast Spot. It will work just fine for free with the volume I expect to put out for a while, and it’s inexpensive should I go for something heavier. A nice feature of the place is that it will convert the file to a number of different audio formats, and creates feeds under a variety of tags, so it’s easy to create a customized rss link for adding to a podcatcher. I’m very pleased with it, particularly since it can handle the .ogg version, which is smaller than the .mp3, while creating .mp3 for those who need it (and .wma). The place to go is

I am responsible.

Back in the 80s, there was a brief resurrection of the old Smothers Brothers show.  As usual, Dick was kinda making fun of Tom, this time for being irresponsible.  Tom replied that he was very responsible by saying “I’m wearing a condom right now.”

Well, I’ve seen at least a hundred times that running a computer without anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall software is irresponsible.  I’ve been running computers for almost eighteen years now and have never ever had a malware outbreak of any kind, but the implication is that I’m still irresponsible for not running anti-malware software.  I tend to think that my care in not engaging in at-risk behaviors that open the door to malware has a track record of protecting me, but I’m not deaf to these complaints.

When I bought the laptop I’m using now, it came with a trial of Nortan Internet Protection, and I’ve used it without any problems showing up anywhere (it got a little anal about some cookies I had, but I use the Cookie Culler extension in FF to clear those out periodically, so I wasn’t worry about that).  The past few days it started bugging me to pay for a subscription to keep using it — since I’m clearly getting so much value out of it. 

So I uninstalled it last night.  I’d heard Kim Komando talk about free anti-malware programs that she considered adequate, so I went to her website immediately after that and downloaded an anti-virus package (AVG), an anti-adware package (ad-aware) and a firewall package (Zone-Alarm).  And, just now, I’ve finished installing them, and have ZA correctly allowing most of my internet-using software to use the internet. 

And now I feel like Tom Smothers, standing here wearing a condom.  I’m so, so responsible.


Typing for myself.  I’m just getting ready to go to bed again.  I have a job interview in the morning — one that I think I’m unlikely to get, but it would be very nice for multiple reasons — working in juvenile detention in Everett.  Pay is good, the hours are bad, and it would be a mile commute each way until I could get an apartment in Marysville.  There’s a physical fitness test before hiring that I couldn’t pass before I messed up my knee yesterday, but I don’t think that needs to happen tomorrow anyhow.  I’ll mention the knee thing and see when that process would need to take place.  If I have a week or two, I should be okay, although I will be training the whole time I (every day, anyhow).  1.5 mile run (in 17:17), and as many pushups and situps as I can do in a minute (23 pushups and 19 situps iirc) with the numbers in parentheses being the targets, but doing better in one category can earn points to offset doing less good in another.  I’m most concerned about the pushups, although the knee thing might mess with the run.  A couple fo weeks to train will probably be enough.

Unrelated, but, during the trip (which will be discussed later) i learned that I can use Winamp to load things onto my new mp3 player after all (a necessity when WMP refused to recognize .ogg files as playable media — why is it that MS can’t be bothered to program in support for free media formats and codecs, when the free software programs can support them along with all of the MS formats and codecs?).  And it plays better with the playlists my new perl scripts produce for podpackets than WMP did.  So I’m done with WMP for that job.  Anybody know how to have media opened in the designated default player rather than WMP in Vista? 

Anyhow, to bed, and to prepare (not as much as I’d like) for the interview.  I got the call to schedule it in Weed, CA, right after driving all night long (with a couple of nap breaks).  Aside from about 8 hours Sunday night in a motel in Twentynine Palms and about 4 hours Friday night in Apple Valley, the only sleep I’ve gotten since last Wednesday morning until I got home was in the car, in .5-2 hour stretches.  So I’m tired.

Sorry to a person with a name that starts with MA and ends in RA — once we started back, there just wasn’t any stopping.  Mayhap next time. 

Oh Crap!

The subject comes from what I said when asked what the subject line should be by my dictationist (THAT’S ME! Emily!) I was trying to return to Southbound I5 from South Center and it’s confusing.
Now we’re on Southbound I5 heading for California. This trip came together with very little notice yesterday, and we’re still not totally clear on what will be happening on the other side of this leg of the trip. We will be spending time with my high school best friend in Apple Valley, and will be welcoming home a marine from Iraq. We also don’t know exactly when we will be coming back. If possible we would like to link up with a certain web developer friend whose name starts with MA and ends with RA. (If you happen to be a web developer friend whose name starts with MA and ends with RA you should expect a phone call later this evening when we have more of an idea of what we’ll be doing when.
This will be my third trip into California and the first time I will be driving back out of California. I may even be posting pictures of my dictationist next to Olive Trees. (Did you know Olives grow on trees?) Thus far the biggest challenge has been finding bathrooms at convenient times. The express lanes have been our friends.
This message has been brought to you by my sister’s usb cellular modem.
(Which has been very handy.)

I been wordy today.

Today I found a couple of things to respond to, and I’m going to leave copies of them in here.  The first is a response to an article on the Nolan Chart website trying (and, IMO, failing) to create certain connections between Roman history and American history.  The second is a pair of responses to an article on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today overturning a challenge to I-872 which created a “Top-two” primary election.  I’ll put them all under a cut to be kind to your friend’s page. 

I did get a response from the guy at the Nolan Chart site (he wasn’t happy — shock).  I’ll probably post a brief reply before I leave, but I’m not sure I’ll have time to give it more.  I think my wordiness capacity has been used up.

Anyhow, here goes:


Your understanding of Rome assumes a healthy dose of “good ol’ days” which simply isn’t the case. The Senatorial class always represented its own interests before those of anybody else, and nobody in power ever gave a damn about the “common people” except when their power was dependent on those “common people,” whether then or now (and only then enough to maintain their own power). Republican Rome represented the interests of the elites at most. It represented a more diverse group of those elites than Imperial Rome, but, Cicero’s words to the contrary, it was not anything anybody today would consider a Golden Age. Cicero was an elite snob, and Gaius Julius Caesar was the darling of the common Roman man. The Senators caved to Caesar’s pressure not only because he had beaten them militarily, but also because of his wide-spread popularity. The world was a lot more vicious and dirty than most Americans would be comfortable with for most of the past — still is in most of the world.


The Founding Fathers were quite comfortable with an electorate limited to property owning (wealthy) white males. They wanted power for those people (themselves). This was quite progressive for the time — no place in the world was that inclusive — and I agree that these were great men who accomplished something great. But they didn’t walk on water, and they would not impress anybody today as paragons of inclusiveness and respecters of diversity. Your notion of a Golden Age that was stolen away by corrupt lessers is older than Rome — go read Hesiod to see it for the first time it was written down a little under 3000 years ago. It was no more true then than it is now — people are basically people across time and space.


And the notion that someone is more moral because they have less money is amusing, but empty. 


I second your recommendation that people study some history, starting with you. Real history, not something to support your agenda. Your grasp of Roman history and American history is way too shaky to support conclusions as half-assed as what you’re talking about here — at least to anybody who knows anything about history, which, I’ll grant you, damn few do.


“Bush has only started.”? Bush has served 86 of the 96 months he can serve as President — he’s almost done. Unless you’ve got some conclusive evidence to show otherwise, he will leave office in ten months. If you had that evidence, you would have presented that, rather than this silly presentist conjecture, so we’ll let it stand that Bush leaves office on-time, and your claim that he’s only starting is just plain wrong.


Looking forward to reading Empire.  Not sure when I’ll get to it.


And the second:

Okay. Perhaps it’s time for the parties to take a break and let the voters do their own vetting of candidates. Anybody looking forward to researching 50-100 candidates before August to figure out which are the best options? That’d be an election without party designation, or party participation. You don’t have the benefit of the judgment and experience of endorsement committees made up of interested people who will spend the time asking candidates tough questions to see if they’re competent and adequate representatives of the basic party philosophy. I’ll grant that these folks are far from perfect — I’ve supported candidates who did not get my party’s endorsement — but are you sure you’re willing to do the job they do and that you can do it better?

Anybody looking forward to one party rule? That’s what the top-two primary can be — that’s what it was in Louisiana for many years. This is not the blanket primary we had before — that allowed for one nominee per primary. This means you will *never* see a Libertarian candidate, or a Green Party candidate, or a Reform Party candidate. In some races, you’re going to be lucky to see a Republican — in others, you’ll be lucky to see a Democrat.

The blanket primary was struck down on the same constitutional objections as top two. If top two is constitutional (which the Supes say it is) then blanket is, and I’d far rather go back to that than be stuck with this dog.
        Blain |                                  03.18.08 – 2:34 pm |


On reading the majority decision in this case, it appears that the blanket primary remains unconstitutional, so my statement above contrary to that is inaccurate, and I withdraw it.

What the Court sees in the top two is a non-partisan primary, since it disregards the parties of the candidates and only qualifies them based on the number of votes they receive. It is only because the primary has this non-partisan nature that the Court sees no issue with the parties’ right to association — the party designation for a candidate is not claiming their representation by the party but, rather, indicates the party they indicate a preference for.…8/03/06- 713.pdf for those who want to read the decision and understand what the ruling does and doesn’t say, and does and doesn’t mean. 

This decision is not necessarily final, btw. The court holds the possibility that it might be challenged and overturned if it can be shown to have produced an unconstitutional result. The challenge was a facial challenge, essentially saying that I-872 was unconstitutional on its face, and that has different requirements for the challenge to be successful than other sorts of challenges have. I would not be surprised to see another challenge made when I-872 results in the ballot qualification for candidates at odds with their parties or, possibly, when a party is squeezed off of the ballot. Today’s decision does not preclude that challenge, and does not assure that I-872 would survive that challenge.

It would have been nice if the Ammons article included some of these details.
            Blain |                                  03.18.08 – 5:43 pm |

Osmonds Rock

I’ve also recently watched a couple of recorded Osmond concerts, and they’re quite good entertainers.  If you’re not too cool for the room, you might give them a shot.  They’ve got great harmonies.  They dance without looking boy-band.  And they take you back if you’re over 30. 

Having recently watched a similar recorded Barry Manilow concert (also worth a shot for the not-too-cool), I’m not enjoying the audience shots that get included.  The front-row fans are grown women who grew up idolizing these performers, they know every song, they dance and sing, and, well, they look rather dumb.  Not that they’re dumb, but they look dumb, just like anybody who’s having that much fun looks dumb, and they don’t have the mitigation of being teen-aged, where the expectations are lower. 

But, yeah.  Worth a look.