Wednesday, March 31, 2004


Everybody's least favorite luncheon meat, time-sink of your e-mail experience and mark of the profound influence of Monty Python on society... ;-)

At work various products are under test to reduce the deluge of useless drivel.
I would have thought the subject line that included 'Marijuana like substance' would have made the cut...

As I was deleting "The book that inspired Mel Gibson's The Passion" (Uhhhh, that would be THE BIBLE...) for the umpteenth time it occurred that there is a bizarre pattern to these things.
Like Survivor, despite my active efforts to know NOTHING about the subject, I have a stream of data force fed to me reflecting the latest marketing fad. My sub-conscious mind duly notes the patterns, the repetitions, the frequencies. Is this affecting me at some level I don't even realize?

Jeff Duntemann has written quite a bit on the subject and this will be his next book project.

He has discovered most spammer addresses, while constantly changing, all resolve to a common set of IP addresses. Now what we need is the technology to block based on these server addresses. Jeff is on it. If anyone can get it done, he is the man.

But if we have the spam blocked, will we be losing our feedback on the latest fad?
PopFile ( is amazingly good at identifying the junk. A simple rule in Outlook is routing them aside for easy deletion. But I am still seeing the Subject lines as I 'train' PopFile. Saves much time, but still gives me the 'Subject Feed'.

Could anything be learned from tracking Subject line statistics?

Hmmmmmm...... (the chanting increases in volume) Shutup! Stupid Vikings...

Spam! Spa a a a a a a am!
Spa a a a a a am! Lovely Spam!
Lovely Spam!
Spam! Spam! Spam!

Monday, March 29, 2004

I may not know what I like, but I know Art...

Art, the subject of myriad opinion. Far beyond this discussion.

Having spent a good portion of my youth studying music right across the street from the Kansas City Art Institute have left me with definite opinions on what is and what passes for Art.

Endless debate on the meaning of this or that subject.
What is the symbolic significance of this shape that setting?

I 'experienced' Christo's installation on the sidewalks of Loose Park, an extrapolation on many such ideas the art students next door attempted.

No, I do NOT like the shuttlecocks and don't get me started on those column toppers on Bartle hall...

All of this regarding permanent or semi-permanent instances of the visual arts.

Now, imagine yourself painting a picture with pure light.
That your sculpture was of fog and mist, as ephemeral as a cloud.
That the experience of your art was through the active participation of your audience,
for the duration of it's performance.

Music. Theater. Opera, the merger of the two.

Fleeting glimpses of the soul poured out into vibrations of the air.

Passing into nothingness.

So brief.

If one is not alert, one will miss it.
Miss the unique fusion of the piece and the artist interpretation into the expression of all that it is to be a human being.

Last weekend I saw a group of high school students combine there talents both vocally and instrumentally to make music.

Making music is a wonderful, fulfilling thing.

I heard the promise of the future and saw some face great fear.

And then there were those who went beyond.

Who transcended into that magical place...

Where art occurs.

Always be ready, or you will miss it...

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Does anyone else find it ironic that the EU, not even a directly elected government
(government-read ultimate monopoly) is all over MicroStuff for including too many features in their product?

Don't get me wrong, I have no desire to fulfill Mr. Bill's desire to own everything, but really,
talk about the pot berating the kettle...

Under God

Two little words. A mere three sylables.
And yet the cause of such furor.

Science is the pervue of observation, repeatability, measurment.
When we can observe and measure, and then others can repeat the process
and observe the same thing, it exists. If not, it does not.

But wait. Did Neutrinos exist before we had a method of observation and measurment?
Why, yes, they did. We lacked the ability to detect them.
The ultimate extention of 19th century scientific method taken to the ultimate sub-microscopic level, beyond atomic particles to the quantum.
Where our very observation CHANGES the phenomenon.

Or taken two the opposite extreme. the ultimate MACRO, we now can observe that the universe is expanding and measure the rate.

Beyond our perception at the Micro or Macro.
Is this where God exists?

The 19th century mind-set would tell us no.
We are superstitious fools.

And retreat into their hypotheses and theories.
Their BELIEF that everything is explainable.

Admitedly, the main protagonist in this little drama is both a
Doctor of Medicine and of Jurisprudence.

Surely a man so learned could come up with some viable alternative.
Under nothing really, just a massive series of coincidences and random
mutations that, after the miracle of the tooth-and-nail existence of survival
has resulted in a rational being with no need for any belief in any grand force
or scheme or being.

Tell you what, we'll allow MORE than three sylables. Kind of like the various
translations of the Lord's Prayer. (I, like all singers, favor Debts/Debtors.)
Get back with me on that one and we'll arrange everything quite nicely for all.

Hmmm, maybe we can make other parts optional as well?
Being a states rights type, and always wanting to keep my options open,
might have a problem with the indivisible thing...

One thind is for sure.

God doesn't think he has a double-doctorate...

Sunday, March 21, 2004

One last thing B4 bed.

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.
Conveniently, it falls on a Saturday, so all the 'reds' could come out in force and not risk time off work...
('reds' - See or, even better take a look at for the 'World's Simplest Political Quiz' or the more complex
and start thinking in TWO deminsions politically. Really now, Communism/Fascism? Not the same thing people!)

I hear so much spin and hyperbole one hesitates to even attempt the application of logic... :-/

I will make these statements:

I distinctly much remember many calling for more UN involvement and more weapons inspections.

I do NOT remember anyone making statements that the WMD's did not exist.

I find it hard to believe anyone making such claims would not have found a willing press to publicize such remarks.

What do we have one year later:

Many re-writing history and claiming they were saying there were no WMD's all along.

No firm evidence of WMD's. (Which is NOT the same as evidence the NEVER existed.)

Ample evidence of the corruption in the UN Oil for Food program.

Ample self-righteous wailing and gnashing of teeth decrying the war and maintaining the Iraqi people would be better off living under a Tyrannical Regime...

(OF COURSE the UN doesn't think we should depose tin-pot dictators. Most of the member states are RUN by DICTATORS!!!!!)

This Knoppix virtual environment is working out pretty good so far.
The WiFi link doesn't seem to be 'taking' but overall, I now have an
stable way of connecting. Don't know for sure about the e-mail deletion issue. Overall Knoppix A

Re-Installed laptop is apparently waiting in the cabinet @ work. I am
going for a minimalist environment customization with this setup, and hope to maintain speed.

Went to the KC Home Show last night. Man, what ideas. Lots of beautiful stuff. What they can do w) concrete nowadays. Wow.

Going to church. We have started back w) organized services. Some of us kicking and screaming... ;-)

This Knoppix virtual environment is working out pretty good so far.
The WiFi link doesn't seem to be 'taking' but overall, I now have an
stable way of connecting. Don't know for sure about the e-mail deletion issue. Overall Knoppix A

Re-Installed laptop is apparently waiting in the cabinet @ work. I am
going for a minimalist environment customization with this setup, and hope to maintain speed.

Went to the KC Home Show last night. Man, what ideas. Lots of beautiful stuff. What they can do w) concrete nowadays. Wow.

Going to church. We have started back w) organized services. Some of us kicking and screaming... ;-)

Thursday, March 18, 2004

MrGadgets has been semi-offline the last few days. As mentioned in the last post, my T20 from work (ancient in computer years) gave up the ghost on Sunday night. I used the magic of Knoppix to lift some data off the HD and turned it over to the macinations of the Windows Server folks to re-build. Will not go for a full demo-capable load, just 2000, Office and Notes for work e-mail. That will keep me up and running until a new ThinkPad of some sort gets ordered by perhaps May.

The difficulty being what to do with the deluge of personal e-mail (mostly spam) and surfing. Luckily, Megan brought home her new laptop over Spring Break. Unluckily, it runs XP and has been driving me NUTS trying to work out it's WiFi access problems.

For those who do not know, XP has a service dedicated to wireless connections that ditects and displays available networks and gives you signal strength and wireless options in the network connection dialog box. This all sounds very good, and it is, as long as you are connecting to the type of environment andf in the way MicroStuff thinks you should. Like the government, MS is here to HELP you. With the unintended consequences one usually only finds when talking about Government initiatives.

Near as I can tell, from various searches and practical tests, XP does not want to maintain a connection to the tired old Airport.
Connection to the network at the Carleton's was fine, over an extended period.

At home, the card will report an excellent signal and work fine for about one minute. After which the signal report diminish slightly, the connection will still be present, but no return packets are received. Can't even ping the gateway, let alone anything out in the world.

So, time to purchase a new wireless router. I will go G, of course. Probably D-Link, although the LinkSys router running Linux is pretty cool...

One of the things that would make it a bit of a pain, no matter what, is that XP is dis-inclined to connect to a non-encrypted network, requiring your manual intervention. The AirPort can't run WEP when PC's are trying to connect, since the WaveLan Silver card that is the internal radio only supports 40bit encryption. Not compatible with the PC world...

I finally got tired of the insert-card, wait for connection, navigate one link, remove card cycle and booted up the Alice (Meg's Toshiba) in Knoppix. The WaveLan cards work fine with a included driver.

Set up the master computer @ Casa Carleton on Tues. and will go over tomorrow and get the wireless network going in the girl's rooms. Hope the XP experience will make that go smoother!

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Ack! The 'ol T20 was making some strange noises last night. Tonight I reboot after an install of new Palm related software for the new TH55 and ...
Blue Screen of Death!!!!!! Can't even boot the beast!

So, how you may ask, is the wizard posting this if his machine won't boot?
Why, grasshopper, through the wonders of bootable linux!
Specifically KNOPPIX the granddaddy of the LiveCD Distros!

While I post, my laptop, running a lovely flavor of Debian, is copying files to a USB HD.

More on KNOPPIX in the future. MrGadgets might just make the transition to using a KNOPPIX based 'virtual' personal laptop environment yet. Just those pesky pieces of software that the wizard uses on a semi-regular basis. 4 instance, is behaving quite well for this post, but the spell-check pop-up window does not...
That and the Windows only nature of the Sony/Palm PDA...

Update: The original attempt to Preview this Post also failed.
This was using Mozilla. (1.4.4 is included on the CD.)
Tried again with Konqueror, the other web browser included with the CD when using the default KDE desktop. Spell-Check pops up and has an even BETTER UI than Explorer in Windows!

I guess if you see this it must have posted OK!

More L8r

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Travel Tip Time!

Getting around in DC. One word. Metro.

The cleanest subway system I have encountered. They should be, watch out for the food police.
No eating or drinking in the stations or on the trains. Thusly, none of the interesting food choices found in other subway systems.

I didn't see any busking, and the open nature of even the more complex stations would have made the auditory trip throughout the space.

Like Boston's MTA, the Metro has a station at Reagan. Even better, adjacent to the major terminals! Midwest flies into a gate in terminal A. She is the oldest, looking like she was built back in the days when you still disembarked down stairs to the tarmac. The house dress is a bit tattered, but the old girl still has character. If you come into A, you can either hoof it over, or, wimp out like I did and catch the bus. ;-)

Sometime during your Metro travels, be sure to take the Yellow line across the Potomac. The train travels across a bridge, instead of tunneling under. You can get a nice view of the city on the river's north shore.

I like the starkness of the underground Metro stations. They are mostly unadorned. The fewest commercial messages I have seen. New York, the London Underground, MTA. They have varying amounts of ads on the walls, but all have more than the Metro. Very few here. A few on the upper levels, as you make your way to/from the surface entrance. A few more mounted in frames on the railings at track level. The Tube in London has them everywhere, including the escalators to/from the gate/track levels.

The gates and track platforms consist of large tubes. The walls are bare reinforced concrete that would make 'ol Tom Pendergast proud. The walls consist of rectangular panels, each containing an indentation. Sometimes the rectangular panels are smaller horizontal lines. Other stations they are vertically oriented and much larger. The indentations are also rectangles, with rounded corners. As you follow the pattern up the wall, the indentation is deeper and deeper. In all cases in the upper reaches of the 'wall' and 'ceiling' you will see a lighter colored rectangular panel. These are acoustic panel, without which the pandemonium of echoes would make the space unbearable. Overall, quite pleasing.

Warning, this is a deep hole operation. More akin to the Tube than the MTA or NYC systems. (Remember that scene in Die Hard 3 when John McClaine pulls up a grate at street level and jumps down onto the top of a downtown train?) There are two ways down. The elevator from street level, but it is quite a ride and expect a full car. Not for the claustrophobic. On the other hand, you can always ride up and down the escalator. They will adjust directions to accommodate rush hour traffic. Beware, the large tube, minus any 'indentations' found a platform level are large and open. I found, especially during off-peak rides when there was no-one directly in front of me, there was a slight case of vertigo on the downward ride. I first encountered this type of thing when sitting in the 'nose-bleed' sections of the Municipal Auditorium watching the Big8 Basketball tournament each Christmas vacation of my youth. (Ahh, the late lamented Big8... Never needed them dang Texas teams... Grrrrrr ;->) It is a real 'Oh-My-Gosh-I'm-Going-To-Trip-And-Roll-All-The-Way-To-The-Bottom' kind of thing. The London Underground has the same type of escalator setup, but are not as open. Perhaps it is that, or maybe these are slightly steeper? Who knows. Just watch it the first time down!

OK, Science time. As you are riding up and down the LONG escalator runs, pay close attention to what you hear. That voice that seems like a person standing directly behind you is actually on the other side riding the other direction. The footfalls that make you think someone must be running up the escalator behind you is really someone brave enough to fight the vertigo and run down the opposite side in their rush to catch that next train. (Note: I never saw anyone running UP the escalator. ;->) I never heard this type of effect in the similar long runs of the London Tube, but, as I mentioned, those are not as large in diameter. These are also not bare concrete, but are rather lined with some type of metal and plastered with ads that break up the smooth surfaces. Odd effect. I plan on using it into the plot of Intel Officer.

Pay more attention than I did, the daily pass is a great deal, but not for the commuter. They are only good after 9:30. I, of course, bought several before discovering this. Still, I was using the system enough to make it a better choice. I used the same trick I learned with the rail/tube pass in London. I buy a one-way regular ticket for the early trip to the office, and ride the rest of the day on the pass.

BTW, for the trip last year to London I pre-purchased vouchers for week-long passes, good all day. This avoided the photo requirement when purchasing a week-long pass in-country. Let me know, and I will look for the info. on where to purchase these for your trip across the pond.
(Isn't it cute how I pretend someone else is reading these little posts, right from the beginning? ;->)

You can 're-stock' tickets of low value to maximize usage of your investment, but no refunds. Also, every station I encountered machines with plastic capabilities, both credit and debit! Kudos! You may need to 're-charge' a card to finish your trip. This is a variable-cost system that requires you to keep that card handy to deduct the proper amount and let you out the gate at the end of your ride. Kind of like the old MTA...
(Did he ever return, no he never returned, and his fate is still unlearned...
He will ride uneasy, 'neath the streets of DC, he's the man, who never returned!)

When navigating to the major points on the mall:
Smithsonian will leave you off near the West end museums with that name.
The Navy Memorial/National Archives station is a short block north of the mall on Penn. since that avenue angles down from the WH to the Capitol. Convenient for the museums on the Eastern end. I walked out on the mall after lunch and looking at the Air & Space, passed by 'I hate George Bush button/bumper-sticker guy's vendor cart and walked over to the Navy Memorial to get back to the Yellow line and get back to the airport.
Heading to the Capitol to take that tour you pre-arranged with your CongressCritter's office? Head into the Metro station underneath Penn Station. Eclectic selection in the food court and other nice restaurant selections that are a change of pace from the usual Museum food service fare...

When we were in DC a few years back, the Washington Monument had just re-opened after a renovation project. Tickets are free, but if you would not like to stand in line, TicketMaster will reserve them for you online for a small fee. Also, the daily tickets for White Hose tours were distributed, first come-first served and limited numbers, in the wee hours near 14th and Penn. I lucked out, as that was across the street from the JW Marriott and I got up, collected my tickets and went back to sleep in. Dr. and Mrs. Buie were in line behind me, having come in from a sub-urban hotel in Maryland. I assume then rode in on the Red line and got off at Metro Center, as that was the closest station to our hotel.

More to see than you could ever get done in one vacation, have a great time!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

I ate lunch in the sunny crystal atrium on the East side of the Air and Space Museum.

Having taken care of spiritual matters, I had time to have some fun.

As a child during the '60s and a science/math/SF geek, the Air and Space Museum will always be cool.

Ate lunch at McDonald's?!? (The grilled chicken Cobb salad was actually quite tasty.)

Wandered the galleries a bit and just enjoyed looking around.
The mail carrying bi-plane. The TWA single-engine looking more like a WWII fighter than a postal freighter. The DC3 and Boening 247. The space planes. The technology of promise and hope and exploration. Reminding us of where we have been and need to go again.

Easy to forget we have only been flying for a hundred years.

I leave to fly on a modern jet and will have hardly a thought to safety as it relates to the physics of flight.

Science. Cause and effect. Engineering.

It is in the causes that result in evil acts of evil men that we are still rank amateurs.

Today marks 2 and 1/2 years exactly since the start of the War on Terror. I saw no mention in the news. I had some time and after leaving the site here in DC, I found my way back to Rosslyn. Just missed the Noon service, but the doors were still open.

I sat in the dimly lit chapel, the light beaming from the cross at the front.

I sat in silence and meditation.

Here at the center of the political power of our nation.
The center of political influence in our world.

I prayed for our nation. For it's leaders.
That they might find wisdom, courage and strength.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Catch up time on Tuesday night's dining/coffee finds.
First stop, The CyberStop. Kind of a let down, considering their site.
The Claim of 'CyberSTOP cafe Washington DC 's ONLY internet / cyber cafe ... ' seems a bit over the top, but the site promises more than the reality delivers.
Kind of a hole in the wall, with a style that comes off more 'worn at the edges' than the funkyness of Tryst the night before. Did not venture upstairs. Does have computers available, if you do not have a device handy.
Did not expect much in the food dept. The online menu only featured sandwiches and various desserts. (The desserts, which I did my best to ignore, did look quite good.)
They were out of sandwiches, but the coffee was quite good. WiFi was great.
Settled in and learned a bit more about the regular crowd than I needed, but overall, an OK experience. Saw no sign of the claimed WiFi cards for sale, but they are horrendously overpriced anyway. They do have Ethernet ports available, some with cables. Plenty of power and a bay window, if you don't mind a stool. Location reasonably convenient for an Urban warrior. Three blocks east of Dupont Circle just north of P. (What is it with the different sized blocks? Did L'Enfant think it made it more French? I checked some maps, no discernible pattern I could make out...)
While contemplating another cup, or just packing it in, I found the next gem:
SoHo Tea & Coffee
Three blocks West of Dupont at the corner of P and 22nd on the south side. (Apparently the circle is not named after the chemical company, but some General.) Nice. Shabby Chic where the CyberStop is just Shabby... Has Free WiFi, excellent house blend and some lovely salad/South Beach choices along with the 'normal' food. Nice looking desserts also.
Recommended: Southwestern bean soups. (I loaded it up with extra chunks of onion. Mmmmmmm) Skipped the South Beach Plate and tried the Chicken and Tuna Salad scoops w) house salad combo. They have Italian dressing, so that's what I had. ;-)
Found a nice table next to the back wall, plugged in and found Blogger.COM!!! Made the first entry and here we are! BTW, no Plastic, but on-site ATM is a minus. Practically next to the Marriott Residence Inn on P for you Points collectors. Might be close enough to hitch from your room if you are on the West side... The RI might be offering free access anyway, from something some of the regulars from work indicated. It is a longer walk to the red line, but there are no inclines, and the DuPont area has a nice selection of eateries. Besides, you will need to walk off that self-service waffle you cookedn yourself for breakfast... (sigh)

There is a Temple in Rosslyn, though various web searches did not reveal it to me. I went in search myself, believing in the possibility. Is this not faith? As you exit the Metro station go left and circle around the block to the left at the corner of 19th. As you round the corner 'behind' the building that houses the station, there it is. It's cross situated at the farthest northern point of a triangle. A Temple with a chapel, of course. Run by an organization with clear roots and history leading back to England. My organization of choice. What more is there to say?

Ah, the Wardman. I am in Wardman Tower, a lovely old girl, birthed in the late '20s. Quite a history:

More after Rosslyn, but acording to the info. inside the tunnel door, she is a square-armed Cross perfectly oriented to North St. Andrew's fashion. Any portents and signs this close to a town named Rosslyn should be duly noted... ;-)

Off on the pilgrimage...

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Ok, here goes. On location here in the D. of C. Epicenter of Grand Larceny in the guise of Good Governance and Altruism. The vibes are like to kill me... ;-)

uneventful trip into DC, but what is up w) the security @ MIDWEST?
I shopped for shoes that were non-ferrous, but they insisted. Got me flustered and
later, had no clear recollection of putting my laptop back in my bag. This as the plane was within 30min. of Reagan Nat. when we were all required to stay in our seats, of course. I think that was a good thing. Forced me to realize that there was really no problem. Either it was there, or it wasn't. Either they still had it back in KC or they didn't. Very liberating.

BTW, I just decided I need some standard for searches, so: TCEnt stands for Travel Compendium Entry.

TCEnt: Midwest (formerly Express) is no longer serving real food on real china. Going the way of the lemmings w) box lunches for sale... :-/ Have no idea yet about the cookies...

Ate last night at Tryst
Free WiFi, excellent Coffee and the most Awesome pile-of-weeds I have ever encountered.
watercress and mesclun topped with blue cheese, walnuts and pear slices served with a d'Anjou pear vinaigrette
HUGE. I could have done without, but enjoyed tremendously the Mozzarella Salad
Fresh mozzarella cheese, roasted red pepper strips and fresh basil leaves, topped with balsamic vinaigrette and cracked pepper

Very 'Central Perkish' with funky decor. Outlets available. Sat in the back corner next to the restroom.

I gave Kathleen a nice tip in SPITE of her satirical presidential T. Check out the newsletter.
I suppose she does not have to worry about these things much, given the clientele, but
SHUT UP and Wait Tables. Like I said, not a major miss-step ala Natilie Maines, but still.
I said nothing, maybe if her commercial enterprise succeeds and she actually starts paying
taxes...Oh NO, I forget myself, no fed. income tax.

BTW, how come I am taxed without representation if I work in another state?

Ultimate geek evening of investigating other DC WiFi spots for Tues. evening... ;-)
Also searched for likely NYC access points around Time Square in anticipation of the LSN Theater trip in June.

More l8r, have to get back to the Wardman Park...