Monday, December 17, 2007

Then & Now: Magnetic Storage


Here is how you used to have to move 5MB of storage:

Courtesy of Snopes


Compare that with today's 8GB thumb drive:

Courtesy of Newegg

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Israeli Air Strike on Syria Updated Yet Again

This story just doesn't die. It seems that almost everything is being linked to the mysterious air strike.
In a Defense Update article on the Russian navy in the Med, the author speculates that one of the reasons the Russian aircraft carrier is making a port call in Syria is to investigate the Israeli's EW usage during the operation. The Russian's are allegedly boosting their presence to increase their intelligence gathering in the region. Makes sense, seeing as the Russian navy has been in such a funk since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Although I doubt the Sixth Fleet is losing much sleep over a single small carrier that has no operational experience.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I was never an Amiga user but an fascinated by its tale. It is a classic story of a superior technology that gets ruined by bad marketing and incompetent executives.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Clearance Jobs Spam

Read this spam I got from someone purporting to be using to find employees. Keep in mind that is for folks with US security clearances.

Good day,

Let me introduce myself. I am the Head Hiring Manager of Condor Company Viktor Horoshavin. At this moment we are seeking a new employee for the constant position in our Structure. In our search we addressed to Clearancejobs Administration like to one of the most professional and respectable organization helping to find employees who answer to all necessary requirements. It is not the first time when we resort to this organization during our work in the world market since the year 2004.
Your profile in answers to all criteria, needed to be embodied. If you are ready for responsible, professional and honest work then you can become a member of our Staff.
Our Company is specialized in producing and selling different kinds of office and home furniture answering to all requirements of taste, fashion and price. Condor Company was based in 2004. Since that time we have proved high quality and modern technologies of our goods and achieved world popularity in furniture industry. Our production is well-known among our customers in France, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands and Sweden. At this stage we are interested in widening our market and now represent our Product in the United States of America. We need a Professional who will be our Official representative in the USA and serve our financial interests.

Our requirements: USA citizenship. Responsibility, diligence and honesty.

Job description: Financial operations with our company�s wholesale lots. Reception of payments for wholesale lots. Preparation of monthly reports.
Conditions: Beginning salary $ 2500, 00. After probation period 15 % salary raise. Possibility of career growth.
Our job proposal can be taken as a part time position and will not give any negative effect to your present job status.

Please feel free to ask any questions. Our managers will be glad to give you more information if you are interested. Contact us by e-mail:

Thank you. Best regards,
Condor Company.

Should I gamble on that juicy 15% salary raise? I wonder what kind of clearance I need to make furniture?

Israeli Air Strike on Syria Update

This story won't go away. Here are some more tidbits:

  • Wired (and others) offer speculation that the target was a nuclear bomb factory and not a reactor. I don't know if this is a case of making the story match the facts rather that the other way around.

  • Aviation Week has some more info on Israel's EW capabilities. Nothing shocking, since the IDF has always had the technological edge on its opponents. Of course the US will be eavesdropping; we do lots of SIGINT in the region.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Washington D.C. Trip

Went to Washington D.C. for a week to see the sites.

  • Washington Monument - always awesome. We didn't have trouble getting tickets since we stopped by early in the day. Apparently there is a walking tour that shows off some of the interior; I will give that shot next time.

  • World War II Memorial - a bit underwhelming; it seems as though the designers went for quantity over quality. While deserving of a memorial, this detracts from the view from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.

  • Lincoln Memorial - a classic.

  • Korean War Memorial - having never seen this, I really liked it. The statues were impressive.

  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial - goes without saying.

  • Capitol Building - very worthwhile. Since we had to go through our Representative's office, we also got to visit his staff (although he was not there). Found out there is a staircase that leads up to the top of the Rotunda but is not open to the public. Make sure you find out about John Adams and how we use the acoustics in the original House chamber.

  • National Mall - must have walked the Mall several times getting to all the places.
  • White House - a difficult ticket to get and probably not worth taking little kids.

  • National Gallery - didn't even get to a quarter of it; plan on spending days to see everything.

  • National Portrait Gallery - unexpectedly nice.

  • American Art Museum - ditto.

  • Air and Space Museum - gets better all the time.

  • Hazy Air and Space Museum - still a work in progress, but the sheer volume of historic aircraft make it a winner; the SR-71 is worth the trip just by itself.

  • International Spy Museum - if you are interested in espionage, you can miss this. Don't expect much James Bond stuff, there is just a small homage to 007. The kids enjoyed it even though they didn't understand it.

  • National Archives - first time here. They are trying to make it more than just the Charters of Freedom by adding some additional exhibits. Well worth it even thought the Magna Carta is no longer there.

  • Natural History Museum - ours kids get to the San Diego version of this so this wasn't as big a deal to them.

  • Marine Corps War Memorial - much more impressive in person.

  • Flew in a helicopter (an R-22) with my uncle.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fantasy Football Updated

My teams suck. I will be lucky to have a single one make the playoffs.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Honda Passport Rocker Arms

Here are some pics of an exhaust rocker arm and the hydraulic lash adjuster from a 1995 Honda Passport 3.2L V6.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fire Photo

Here is my only photo of the fires. This was at Camp Pendleton just south of the Border Patrol checkpoint. The flames were mainly on the east side of the freeway but there were some on the west side as well. The San Onofre campground was empty.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fire Story

As everyone knows, San Diego was consumed by several spectacular wildfires over the past few days. Here is our story.

Sunday afternoon

I had read on the internet about a fire starting in Ramona but didn't give it much thought. We left for the kids piano recital in Del Mar. In the space of just a few miles, the air got very thick and smoky. The recital was canceled due the the air so we went to George's beach to walk the dog. The air there was getting bad and in fact you could see the smoke cloud starting to creep northward. Went to bed without any concern.

Monday morning

I woke up as usual and headed to the office before dawn. It was smelly but I still wasn't concerned.

Monday 1000

Jyoti calls and says the air is getting very bad. I have been watching the news all morning and now it seems the Witch Fire has started to head west. Jyoti says a neighbor got a voluntary evacuation call, but we never receive one.

Monday 1100

Jyoti packs the car and kids and heads up to my parents in Orange County (they are well away from the fires there).

Monday 1200

I decided to leave work and head up to OC as well. I first stop by the house to see what is going on. The air is almost unbearable with ash and smoke.

Monday night

I spend most of the evening checking the news for information. The following are my best resources:

Tuesday morning

Things got pretty tense as the Witch Fire headed westward into the Rancho Santa Fe. If you look at the map, we live a couple miles directly west of the Bridges community. The fire looked like it would wipe out a few estates in RSF and Olivenhain and head for us. Later reports said that the fire would have most likely follow Escondido Creek to the ocean. That is about a half mile from our house. Since our area is more dense than the areas to the east, I doubted that the fire would actually get to our neighborhood.

Tuesday afternoon

The wind died down and with it, the fire's advance. The flames headed back eastward towards Del Dios. A coworker of my mom's who lives in Encinitas and stayed the entire time, says the air is already getting better.

Tuesday night

The decision is made for me to go back tomorrow morning and see how things are. If they look ok, then the family will come down as well.

Wednesday morning

I got up early anticipating getting back home. My dad, says the 5 has been closed due to fires in Camp Pendleton. I wait until the freeway is open again and cruise the near-empty highways to home. The house is dusty but looks fine. Off to the office for a few hours work.

I was here during the 2003 fires and it is interesting to compare this event to that.

  • Reverse 911 - although we didn't get a call, this great idea undoubtedly saved lives

  • Evacuations - it seems that people evacuated sooner and in greater numbers; this might be due to the memories of 2003

  • Air Support - the criticism of air support has already started, just like in 2003. I know the high winds prevented some flights on the first couple days, but it still seems that there is still some work to do to get Federal/Military assets to the scene

  • Big Government - useless as usual. Didn't anyone care that FEMA had arrived? Most of the relief effort was already organized and rolling within hours. Is anyone else sick of those worthless interviews with governors, senators and presidents?

  • Firefighters - continue to amaze me in their ability to handle multiple huge fires at the same time; our friend is a Cal Fire fighter and we know he was in the Ramona area but we will have to wait for details

I wonder if the Natural History Museum will update their Cedar Fire exhibit?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Israeli Air Strike on Syria Update

Yet more updates on this growing story.

  • War and Piece blog quotes Intelligence Online in saying that the attack targeting an arms depot rather than a nuclear facility. The depot was apparently receiving a shipment of parts for Scud missiles. I seriously doubt Israel would risk an operation like this on Scuds. Everyone has Scuds, why were this so special?

  • Arms Control Wonk thinks they were Scuds as well.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Israeli Air Strike on Syria Update

Some more updated on the Israeli air strike:

  • It seems that some satellite TV broadcasts have been disrupted, possible due to EW jamming.

  • Some more on the alleged jamming of the Russian-made Syrian AA systems. I find the story of the SAM countermeasures to be almost as interesting as the strike itself. It seems as though the Israelis, and by extension the US, have an ace-up-the-sleeve when dealing with even the newest Russian systems. If there is an eventual strike on Iranian targets, we will likely have tons of intel on the capabilities of the SAM's and the means to overcome them. This undoubtedly enhances our position when negotiating with the Iranians.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Del Mar Beach

First Guides trip of the year!

Wagner Baby

Looks like 4 got it right!

Israeli Air Strike on Syria Update

David Fulghum speculates on the reason that the Israelis so easily penetrated Syrian air defense. He mentions a system call "Suter" that infiltrates enemy air defense systems and discombobulates them. Very interesting stuff. I can imagine the Russians getting some frantic phone calls from their SAM customers right about now.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

More Nukes!

I am glad to see new nuclear plants getting under way. IMHO, nukes are the only way were are going to satisfy our energy needs. All the other alternatives won't work out. The 'natural' energy sources like geothermal, wind and solar are too limited. Who wants endless miles of those ugly windmills all over the place? A recent Dilbert blog entry has an interesting discussion on the subject of energy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Israeli Air Strike on Syria

The most under-reported story in the mainstream news has to be the mysterious Israeli airstrike on Syria. The target was an alleged nuclear joint venture between Syria and North Korea. The details of this story are right out of fiction:

  • A North Korean cargo ship docks in a Syrian port to unload "cement." North Koreans scientists were reportedly at the target site.

  • Then, reportedly, Israeli commandos infiltrated the lab to verify that nuclear weapons research was going on.

  • The Syrians have a very dense air defense network, but no invading planes were shot down (at least know to us).

  • The raiders apparently escaped via Turkey, leaving a fuel tank.

  • What weapons were used? If the facility was indeed underground, perhaps new bunker-busting bombs were tested out?

The US certainly knew about the operation but there hasn't been an official acknowledgment by any government. Why keep it so secret? Is the Bush administration worried about Syria complaining? Perhaps they don't want to upset the apple cart that is the ongoing Nork negotiations.
If this story pans out, it would certainly bolster Bush's warnings about WMD's and would give the IDF some much-needed prestige. As for the Syrians, some of their military leaders have some explaining to do how all that money they spent on Russian SAM's wasn't worth the rubles it was printed on.
I find this story fascinating and can't wait for more information to come out.

Here is more information on the commandos plus some speculation similar to my own on the silence from US and Israeli governments.
More analysis (albeit not very well unattributed) on the Syrian nuke program.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dad Of All Bombs

The Russians are testing an enormous new thermobaric weapon, dubbed the "dad of all bombs."
According to the source, the bomb will have near-nuclear power but with the added benefit of, and I quote,
Unlike a nuclear weapon, the bomb doesn't hurt the environment,

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fantasy Football Week 2

After two weeks my teams are exactly opposite of what I would have expected. My best two teams are 0-2. They both feature Stephen Jackson at RB so that explains alot of it. My worst team is 2-0 and is looking All-World. That squad is is led by Tony Romo and Andre Johnson but has gotten lots of help from bit players. Week 3 is huge for those 0-2 teams. If they go winless again, it is time to write the season off.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lives of Adventure

I came across this obituary in a recent paper for Count Michael Gaszynski. My first thought was that this gentleman led an incredibly rich and exciting life. My life is pretty boring in comparison.
But after reading the article again, it dawned on me that this person's life, and countless others of those born early in the 20th century, seemed exciting due all the wars and turmoil. Mr. Gaszynski was born in Poland right before World War I, had to flee during the Russian Revolution, fled Poland before World War II. He did settle down after the war to make cheesecake which is a bit more mundane.
On second thought, I really do appreciate the unexciting life. We could all use a bit of adventure, but not the kind that involves running for your life.

Zoo Urinals

The family and I went to the Nighttime Zoo this past weekend. I always love the evening zoo hours as most of the animals are more active, especially the cats.
One thing my son and I noticed about the bathrooms is that they don't have child level urinals. This is quite puzzling since half the patrons at the zoo are kids. Even my office has low urinals and kids are never there. Most of the bathrooms look like have been refitted with the no-water units, so why didn't they make them lower then? Very strange.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Car Repair Tip #234

When you change your windshield wipers blades, place a towel or other padding on the glass. If you don't and the arm happens to snap back without a blade, it can crack the windshield.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Samsung Blackjack Impressions

A couple months ago I gave my archaic Nokia cellphone for a snazzy new Samsung Blackjack. I wanted something that would replace both my phone and my ancient Sony Clie Palm PDA. My choices seemed to be between the Blackjack, the Blackberry and a Treo. I didn't want to go the Blackberry route since that seemed to lock you into their network at an additional cost (according to a Cingular rep, so this could be an incorrect premise). I was a bit scared off by rumors of Palms imminent demise and they were also too darn expensive. That left the Blackjack. Here are some of my impressions of the device:


  • Form-factor - the size, weight and feel are great. It is barely noticeable in my belt holster.

  • Screen - the screen seems tiny at first (and it is) but it is very clear and still display enough information.

  • Call quality - I have found this phone to be much better than my old Nokia.


  • Keyboard - the keyboard is quite small and takes a fair amount of practice to avoid hitting the wrong key. People with large hands probably can't use it.

  • Screen in daylight - in daylight, the screen is unveiwable. My old Nokia was much at this.

  • PDA functionality - the Palm is a much, much better PDA platform that MS Outlook. There are tons of little things that Palm does that are missing in Outlook. For instance, having a calendar event with no time; Outlook forces a time (or rather sets it to all-day), which doesn't make sense for things like birthdays. The todo function in Outlook lacks the polish of Palm. Also, the Smartphone edition of Windows Mobile doesn't come with a list function; I had to buy and 3rd party program for this. Lastly, the sync works much smarter in Palm. The Outlook sync always makes duplicates or recreates deleted items.

Overall, I enjoy the Blackjack and appreciate having only one device to haul around. If you need to go with Windows, I recommend it. But if I had to do it over again, I would have splurged and got a Treo.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Under 3 Dollar Gas

I saw the local Chevron had gas for $2.99/gallon which almost 20 cents cheaper than a month ago. This seems to contradict the rising cost of crude.
Is the refining capacity picking up?
Are we using less gasoline?
Are the oil companies suppressing prices to keep us mollified?
I guess a combination of the first two.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Roomba Review

I have had my Roomba for over 6 months now which has given me enough time to give it a thorough shake down.
Overall, the machine works great. It is a great way to vacuum. It is especially nifty at getting under beds and cabinets that are difficult with a regular vacuum. We tend to use it much more than our old central vac.
There are some nits about the unit.
* It is quite loud. Not as loud as a regular vacuum, but you wouldn't want to run it if you need some peace and quiet.
* Cleaning it is a pain. All the spinning parts will have hair and pet fur wrapped around them after one or two runs. The main brush is easy to clean with a knife or a special cleaning tool, but the side brush and the center wheel are not designed to be easily removed, so they get really clogged up. In fact, the center wheel will become hard to turn, which probably reduces battery life. Also, the unit has lots of small parts that can get lost easily; so take care when disassembling it.
* Extension cords will bind it up. Since the unit can get into places you normally don't vacuum, make sure there aren't any extensions cords, yarn or other stuff that tends to hide under beds and cabinets. They will bring the robot to a screeching halt.

Since replacement parts are easy to come by, I intend to use my robot as much as possible. I have my eyes on the workshop model next.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mean Mr. Ice Cream Man

We recently had an ice cream man starting coming around the neighborhood. He has the typically van with all the advertising stickers on it. He also has the corny music. But this ice cream also smokes like a chimney and seems to hate kids. Once my two heard him coming and, after getting permission of course, ran to get their money. The guy saw the kids hurry off but didn't bother to wait and drove off. Now maybe his compensation packages is tied to mileage instead of ice cream treats sold, but now the kids aren't really excited when he comes by anymore.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Yet another al Qaeda video...this one is from an American traitor. How this joker can say this crap with a straight face is unknown to me. If these losers had any guts they would stop blowing up women and children and face the U.S. on the field of battle; like real men. Go back to your hole, freak.

Shrek 3

I filled my yearly movie theater quote (which happens to be one) by seeing Shrek 3. It is definitely the worst of the three. It started out strong but the last half is pretty lame. I think the writers have run out of fairy tale creature jokes.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Casino "Cheating"

Some local people where arrested for allegedly "cheating" some casinos. Besides the bribing allegations and other insider dealings, I never really understood how this is considered cheating. Aren't they just using all the available information to improve their play; all the other players have access to this information as well. I remember reading about casinos banning card counters in blackjack. A lot of them weren't using any devices, just counting the cards in their heads. The casinos are free to let whomever they want play, but it goes to show just how much pull they have with politicians that they can make it a "crime" to get good at their games.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chief No More

My reign as the Dorado Tribe Chief ended this past weekend with our last event at Dos Picos. I had a great time as Chief and had a great group of guys in the tribe that make things easy.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Migrant Mother story

Everyone has seen this famous photograph of a migrant worker mother and her kids. Apparently, the real story is quite different from the picture.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Vietnam Myths

Op-for has a good recap of some common Vietnam myths.
Some highlights (emphasis mine):
Isolated atrocities committed by American Soldiers produced torrents of outrage from anti-war critics and the news media while Communist atrocities were so common that they received hardly any media mention at all. The United States sought to minimize and prevent attacks on civilians while North Vietnam made attacks on civilians a centerpiece of its strategy. Americans who deliberately killed civilians received prison sentences while Communists who did so received commendations. From 1957 to 1973, the National Liberation Front assassinated 36,725 Vietnamese and abducted another 58,499. The death squads focused on leaders at the village level and on anyone who improved the lives of the peasants such as medical personnel, social workers, and school teachers. - Nixon Presidential Papers Common Myths Dispelled: Myth: Common Belief is that most Vietnam veterans were drafted. Fact: 2/3 of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers. 2/3 of the men who served in World War II were drafted. Approximately 70% of those killed in Vietnam were volunteers.

Myth: The United States lost the war in Vietnam.
Fact: The American military was not defeated in Vietnam. The American military did not lose a battle of any consequence. From a military standpoint, it was almost an unprecedented performance. General Westmoreland quoting Douglas Pike, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley a major military defeat for the VC and NVA.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


My wife got me a Coach wallet for my birthday a long time ago. Over the years, it has started to wear along the spine. The Coach site describes their lifetime warranty, so I sent it in for repair. A few weeks later, the wallet was returned untouched. The response letter said that it was unrepairable; in exchange, they gave me 40% off any item. The discount isn't bad, especially if I get something pricey, but they should have sent me a new wallet. Maybe I will get one of these, or these.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Trojan Horse

I got this bizarre email at work from our IT department:
Someone received an envelope from:

STE. 144-275
FRISCO, TX 75034

The envelope contained a plastic horse, about 2" long and 1"
high. Around the waist of the horse was an Avery label with the word
WORK on it. The envelope also contained a piece of white card stock, 5"
x 2" , with the following url:

"some url"

When my guy went to the url, ( using his laptop
computer) his screen tuned blue and he received over 150 pieces of spy
ware. The program then started collecting data.
It looks like the program collected about 40 different excel
files before he disconnected his computer from the internet.

Please let me know if you receive anything like this ASAP,
remember to try to save the envelope and toy (or whatever is in the
package) for finger printing and tell your IT guy to be on the lookout
as well.

I hadn't heard of this before. It must be a very specifically targeted attack since the senders had to know that the target had something of value on his PC. My guess is Chinese government hackers.

Saturday, March 31, 2007


Our family has been taken over the MMORPG craze. Our kids have spent hours playing Webkinz. I wonder if there are Kinz Cash farmers?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Innovation Through Dedication

At my office, they have a coffee counter just like every other office in the western world. Among the available items are coffee stirrers. Here is a picture of the box of stir sticks:

Now I admire the Royal Paper Products company for the pride they take in their products, but this might be taking it a bit too far. These stirrers are simple wooden sticks. As far as I can tell, they do not possess any innovation whatsoever. Since they are probably made my machine in huge quantities and not individually handcrafted, they don't really contain any dedication either.


Some good news on Iraq.


For Jaya's birthday, I took her and a friend to Disneyland on Saturday. We had a blast. Got there right after it opened and staying almost to closing. We did every ride the girls wanted except for Peter Pan, which had 60 minute plus lines the entire time.
I also did a few things that I had never done before
  • Parked in the Poombah lot. If you get the opportunity to park in this lot, DON'T! It is located across Harbor Blvd. and there is no shuttle service. This wasn't a big deal in the morning when we are hyped up, but at 11:00 at night with two tired girls, the walk is no fun.

  • Saw the story at Aladdin's Oasis. It is easy to miss this attraction wedged between Jungle Cruise and the Tiki Room, but I highly recommend it if you have kids. The actors did a great job telling the story of the movie.

  • Got dinner and a show at the Golden Horseshoe. I don't think I have ever been inside the Golden Horseshoe, but they have food (a limited menu though) and great entertainment. The band was country/hillbilly with a frontman that looked very much like Neal Young. Very entertaining, but a tad bit loud.

  • Rode Roger Rabbit spin ride in Toon Town. This had the longest line of the day and right before we were about to board, the ride broke down. As the current passengers were unloaded, they announced a 20 minute wait and we decided to stick it out. After almost exactly 20 minutes, it was back up and running again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I recently joined the Toastmasters club at my company and today gave my first speech, the "Icebreaker" project. This is supposed to be about yourself, and I spoke about my progression from loathing automobile maintenance to enjoying it. I got a bunch of good feedback to pore over and hope to make my next speech soon.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Shaara Trifecta

I recently finished three historic novels from Jeff Shaara.
The Rising Tide - The newly released first segment of a World War II trilogy, I think I was the first to grab this from the SD County library. This was my first Shaara book and I really like it. Due to my past interest in WWII I knew all the people and places that were mentioned. This book follows American troops from the invasion of North Africa through the Sicily campaign. Mr. Shaara does a wonderful job of describing the heat of battle but also the tedium of the planning and waiting. I guess that is war is described and periods of shear boredom punctuated by moments of shear terror (or something like that).

To the Last Man - My favorite Shaara book to date. Follows the same tedium/terror pattern of Rising Tide but the battle scenes are much more intense. I think this has to do with the choice of characters. In Tide, Shaara follows a tank driver and a paratrooper; these disciplines, added with the nature of WWII combat lead to a greater separation between participants. But in WWI, there was still a "wait until you see the whites of their eyes" kind of fighting. Highly recommended, especially if you know nothing about The Great War.

Gone For Soldiers - This was Mr. Shaara's first non-Civil War novel, and his weakest that I have read so far. In this book, he follows the "dream team" that made up the American side of the war, including Winfield Scott, Robert E. Lee, U.S. Grant and others, in the Veracruz to Mexico City campaign. He does not cover any grunts like he does in his later books and gives the book a bit of a blue-blood tone to it. Not a bad book by any means, especially considering the difficulty of the subject.

Next up is Jeff Shaara's two-part America Revolution series.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mexican Moving Vans

Living close to the border, I often witness the wonders of the Mexican Moving Van. For the uninformed, an MMV is a steel frame built up around a pickup truck. Kind of like a carpenters pickup with the over-the-cab rack just a lot higher and longer. The owners then pack them to the rafters with stuff. It is amazing that these things can even move much less travel the freeways. I saw the mother of all MMV's on the way down from Orange County Sunday night. This one was not hauling a household of goods like they normally do, but rather had a single cargo: mattresses. Lots of mattresses. Think of your normal MMV loaded to the hilt, then throw on a few dozen mattresses. There were some decent winds on the freeway that night and I still can't figure out how that thing didn't tip over. My wife thought they were using ballast in the truck bed. I hope the poor guy didn't get rained on or he would have soaked up a few tons of water.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dogs Are Like Flies

As a previous post detailed, we are having a problem with our dog pooping on the floor, usually on the carpet where it is the hardest to clean up. A friend gave us a good trick to try. She only feeds are dog once a day, in the morning. Then she walks the dog, it poops, then nothing until the next day. Apparently, dogs are like flies. When something comes in the front end, something has to move out the back to make room. We were leaving Sophie's dish out all night. She would wander in for a midnight snack, then nature took its course. This trick has worked so far and has saved her from a one-way ticket to the Helen Woodward center.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bad Week

Its been a rough start to the week so far.
* Woke up sick the the flu that everyone seems to have
* Dog crapped on the hallway carpet
* I stepped in said crap
* Work is piling up due to sick days
* Strained a muscle in the back of my rib cage

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pipe Hike

Each weekend, we try to get out on a hike that is not too difficult for the kids and we can take the dog. Out favorite is on the Manchester Trails just a short distance away. We call it Pipe Hike for the gas pipeline running through the park. Most of it is buried, but there is a wash that was exposed the pipe so it acts like a bridge. The kids like to cross the over it.
One our last trip, I took my eTrex and tracked our route. Through the wonders of Google Maps and GPSVisualizer, I made a map of our trip. Our route is 1.7 miles which is just right for the tykes. There is one steep stretch where we climb 160 ft. in little over a tenth of a mile.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I have started to integrate Lucene into one of my projects at work. Now I can be a genius like my colleague.


To fire Marty or not to fire Marty...that is the question.
IMHO, Marty is a good coach. He has made a few poor decisions in key playoff games, but most of his losses have been due to bad luck. Charger fans can now share in their grief with Cleveland Brown v1.0 fans. The coach always gets blamed because he is in charge. But in the end, it is not him on the field.
Instead of firing Marty, they need to fire some of the players. Eric Parker has to go. He is a mediocre WR at best and a game-killer at worst. McCardell is getting too old to play anymore and should retire. Then, they need to get a big-time receiver to line up with Vincent Jackson. I have my eye on T.O. You could probably get him cheap from the Cowboys. Yes, he's a headache, but look at those numbers. They bring back the same team as last year but with another playmaker for Rivers, they could go 16-0; then lose in their first playoff game :(

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Post Vacation Blues

Upon returning from my vacation, I had the following waiting for me:

  • Car covered in bird poop

  • Dead battery in said car

  • Lost cell phone

  • Many pounds to be worked off

  • Down DSL

St. Louis

I spent the last week in St. Louis visiting my brother and his family. He has a girl and a boy that are year behind my kids (my mom got grandkids in four straight years) plus an infant. The kids got along great even though they are very different personalities.
My family has deep roots in the St. Louis area. My mom grew up in Cahokia and met my dad while he was attending Parks College. My brother also attended Parks and worked for Anheuser-Busch before moving to Merrill Lynch.
We hit some great sites this trip:
  • St. Louis Zoo - an awesome zoo and free to boot! It was pretty cold so alot of the animals were off exhibit keeping warm. However, the antelopes and other hoofed animals were in a big barn. You could get very close to them and the highlight were the giraffes.

  • The City Museum - probably the greatest playground/children's museum I have seen. It has to be seen to be believed. If you have kids and are in the area, plan a day to go here. We stayed for over 7 hours and kids didn't want to leave.

  • U.S. Grant Historical Site - a small, but very interesting park. It contains the house that the Grant's owned. The rangers where extremely informative. I plan on visiting this park again when the museum is finished.

  • Jefferson National Expansion Memorial - best known for the Gateway Arch, this park also has a good museum and a great film on Lewis & Clark. The arch is not for the claustrophobic or altophobic. Imagine getting into a large clothes dryer and going straight up for over 600 feet. The angle of the viewing windows at the top let you see behind the arch.