By Hammy | March 25, 2010 - 7:10 pm - Posted in Family, Multiple Thoughts

It’s time to re-emerge from a multi-month break, one I’ll refer to as “Hibernation” since it’s winter to spring. To be honest, the past few months have been a blur.  The common thread throughout is illness.  I think all of us have been sick at some point.  Present company excluded, of course, but I make up for it with a mysterious broken bone in my foot that lingers to this day.

This winter has been a blur with all the snow we’ve gotten.  I forgot to keep track of the big total, but we easily got several feet this winter.  While I still love the white stuff, even I got tired of it after awhile.  We also started saying goodbye to my trusty shovel that’s been through blizzards with us since 1996.  It hasn’t been buried just yet, so we’re holding off on the 40 pour.

The big stagecoach keeps on rolling, and it keeps sounding like I have a ticket to ride on it.  We’ll see for how long or if I even want to stay on it.

Ethan has really taken to preschool and is blossoming from his shell.  We were already seeing remarkable jumps from him prior to enrollment – now you’d never know we needed anything for him.

Garrett continues to excel in general – he does well in school and is popular outside it.  He may be the type where we’ll need to beat the girls away with a stick.

I remain proud and thankful for all the things Jennifer does for herself and for me.  I believe I wouldn’t be near where I am without her.

We’re enjoying the national post-season basketball run the Mountaineers are putting on.  With or without Truck (solidarity through bone breaks!) it’s been a fun run to date.

By Hammy | August 17, 2009 - 6:19 pm - Posted in Multiple Thoughts, Technology

- As both people who read these blogs know by now I’ve been messing with PCLinuxOS as my main Linux distribution.  It remains my OS of choice because it continues to “just work” with the different machine configurations in my house.  I am making one change to my preferences, though – I’m liking the default GNOME desktop to the KDE environment.  (The simple, non geeky explanation – think of Linux under-the-hood as MS-DOS and the desktop environments as Windows 3.)  I’m still using the old KDE3.x desktop on the, um, kitchen desktop because that’s what the kids have learned to play with.  It’s the one with the Windows style start menu on the bottom. While it has been released for some time, I haven’t tried using KDE 4 yet and the PCLOS repositories are just starting to fill with 4 packages.  The default GNOME desktop as put together by the LinuxGator.org workgroup has a very slick, glossy black interface and some juicy desktop eye-candy while keeping PCLOS as the engine underneath.

- I finally replaced the S-Video cable on the “TV Laptop” with a proper monitor cable now that I have a Vizio that has a monitor input.  VLC nor any of the GNOME media players would work until I found on the ‘net where the VLC “De-interlace” option in the Preferences section had to be unchecked.  Now it’s VLC video anytime, and I’m now pining for a 42″ monitor!

- Also showing up in the PCLOS repositories is the Chromium group’s version of Chrome Linux, the Google browser making waves in the Windows world.  Chrome is in alpha/beta for Mac & Linux, and I probably hit about twenty different screens saying “DEVELOPMENT USE ONLY!!!”  Fair enough….I’ll keep it off of Youtube, Hulu, ESPN.com and other hardcore sites for awhile, but I have to agree with everyone I know who uses Windows Chrome. It hums along Very Fast.  It loads most every page I’ve hit faster than Firefox 3.5.2.  In fact, I’m composing this on Chrome.  Once I set the homepage and found the Preferences option to add the Home button to the toolbar I was home free.  I may be forced to switch if the final Linux release runs as well.

- PCLOS has integrated the Remote Desktop connection to other machines in the network very well.  In less than five minutes over the weekend (which includes a walk downstairs to enable Remote Desktop-ing) I was staring at my basement laptop screen from the kitchen machine and downloading e-mails to the right location.  Now all I need is a quality machine down here with the CPU cycles & RAM to make it more usable – a four year old bargain-basement laptop was not meant to run multiple desktops across multiple machines.

By Hammy | July 31, 2009 - 6:54 pm - Posted in Current Events, Multiple Thoughts, Politics

Random thoughts on what’s happening in the news today…

- Obamacare is stalled, and that’s a good thing.  I’m not saying the current system is good or great, but there are so many things that can be done to rein in costs without dropping a trillion dollar program on our backs after the 2012 election is over.  Jen and I were discussing some thoughts and things like straightforward & standardized pricing schedules for procedures, plus an overhaul on malpractice insurance would do more to lower costs than any government program would.  Besides, rushing a package through in an effort to avoid dissent & discussion is a terrible idea and runs counter to all of Messiah’s pledge of openness in action.  If the package being proposed is a good one (which it’s not and The People are starting to say so) it will survive the August recess.  The worry that it won’t is a telltale sign of how bad the proposal has become.

- But all is good anyway…the Beer Summit was a civil affair good for a photo op and not much else.  We’re spending a lot of time discussing the Gates/Crowley affair and what it will do for race relations between police and minorities.  To be honest, though, I don’t think this particular case tells us a darn thing about profiling & bias in this country.  A sizable share of profiling cases play out in a far less civilized manner than the Gates/Crowley case.  Rarely are the two parties a highly decorated professor at a prestigious university and a highly decorated police sergeant who runs the anti-profiling class at the police academy, not to mention the relatively sane discussion over what was going on and the lack of physicality.   If I were an activist, I’d worry less about these two guys and far more about the stops everyday between mundane officers and shady suspects.  This is the level where profiling, bias, obstruction, and violence occurs, and it happens far too often and needs to be addressed by a supposed “enlightened society” in the 21st century.

- I don’t know how anyone can keep supporting Hugo Chavez and his iron grip on Venezuela.  He has stolen land and businesses from his own people and the foreign investors  who build the businesses that contribute to the Venezuelan economy.  He’s basically running all the media outlets, and now his Attorney General advocates a restriction of free expression from any voice with a dissenting viewpoint.  There’s not much further down he can go to dehumanize his subjects completely.

- One of the original bastions of the mid 90′s Internet growth officially gave up the will to live when Yahoo, a search company long in free fall with an identity crisis, sold out to Microsoft and Bing to power its search.  The company that gave us the original Web search and free e-mail has had no idea what kind of company it wanted to be for many years now, and giving up its founding funtction is the final nail in the coffin.

- The “Cash for Clunkers” program the Feds rushed through to get older, gas-guzzling vehicles (like my Rodeo) off the roads is the rare program that apparently does what it is supposed to do.  It does what it is supposed to do so well, in fact, that reports are now surfacing that the $1 billion budget was seriously underestimated.  Oops.  It shows that economy-jolting ideas don’t need to go through all kinds of strange alphabet agencies in order to prime the engine.  Putting cash in the hands of people buying & selling goods generates the desired activity much faster, and even though it’s a danger for inflation I’m sure we’d rather be fighting to control it instead of trying to get the economy off life support.

- I liked Sarah Palin when she was announced as the veep candidate and felt she didn’t get a fair shake in the press, but these days I have no idea what she is doing short of political self-destruction.  If she wants to be president then abandoning the top executive job in her state doesn’t strike me as a sound philosophy.  She also can’t keep blowing off all these political gathering & stump speech opportunities like she’s been doing the first half of this year.  She’s just another fallen shingle off of the Republican roof that is caving in of late.  2012 may wind up being the equivalent of Obama playing a 1-AA football team, and unlike Michigan he should wind up kicking ass.

By Hammy | July 16, 2009 - 12:23 pm - Posted in Family, Multiple Thoughts, Personal

Good – the mojo of yesterday.  Our past several weeks have been challenging (to be understated), and having so many pieces fall into place correctly yesterday was a huge help.

Gone – the car.  Vehicle #3 of a two driver house had to go, and even though it’s the better mileage vehicle of the two the Corolla lost out to the Rodeo.  Compacts sell faster than SUVs and for a higher price.  We don’t drive as much as the typical family, so mileage is not as big an issue.  Plus, when it snows the Corolla and Odyssey drive like crap.

Amazing – Garrett’s testing performance yesterday.  On the second of (hopefully) four tests he nailed everything he needed to with good form, focus, and detail.  The one time I don’t bring a camera to testing is when he kicks ass.  Go figure.

Selling – the baby stuff.  Since there won’t be three kids in this house and a little extra vacation spending money is nice, we’re burning up Craigslist selling stuff.  Successfully, too.

Replaced – the old flat screen with a new.  The 37″ was not powering up, and a little research indicates Magnavox power capacitors can crap out a year or two into their lives.  Fixing the problem can be inexpensive, IF it’s soldering on new capacitors.  So we replaced it with a Vizio (triple the TV for half the original price) and so far the switch is good.  Very good.

Ironic – our favorite Mexican restaurant here opened a second shop closer to us, and they’ve been painting murals on the walls since opening.  Cartoon shows aren’t allowed to show old Bugs Bunny clips because of the “offensive” characters both obvious and subtle.  So while we cannot see old Speedy Gonzales cartoons on TV anymore our restaurant painters of Mexican heritage added a large framed image of Speedy to their walls.

Fun – Garrett’s reaction steel drum camp.  Morgantown Theater have six week long sessions on performance, and he’s having a blast learning to play the pans.  Magic and stage weapons are upcoming.

Chatty – Ethan is coming out of his shell big time.  Like so many other children and dogs, once they start speaking they can’t be re-plugged.  We still have our days dealing with his issues, but they seem to be farther and farther apart.

Ongoing – how I hope a pleasant day will continue.

It’s been darn near impossible to turn on a news show or check web sites without some reminder of all the famous deaths these past few days.  Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays – the wires are dropping BREAKING NEWS like raindrops.  I have to admit that I feel the worst for Mays and his family, both because he made his living busting his ass to sell his products and because we’ve been intrigued by his show “Pitchmen” on Discovery Channel. It was interesting to watch the behind-the-scenes efforts it took to find a product worthy enough to sell.  His was also the most sudden passing – McMahon was much older, Fawcett had been dealing with terminal cancer for years, and Jackson had become a weird medical configuration may years prior.

Elsewhere….

- Just heard Obama praising the House of Representatives for bravely passing the climate bill over “Washington politics.”  Baloney.  It is well publicized that the narrow approval of the bill required a heavy amount of horse trading with Democratic leadership to nervous rank-n-files who represent actual people who will suffer actual harm from all the rhetorical religion.

- Oh yeah….if I could, I would punch out anyone else who uses the argument “reduce our dependency on foreign oil.”  This phrase has long since passed “weapons of mass destruction” as a cultish phrase meant to confuse mindless recitation from true philosophical debate.  I do think that we have a duty not to be wasteful and stupid with our environment, but I’m a global warming skeptic. I don’t think mankind is capable of putting the Earth through the kind of punishment in 150 years that the planet has absorbed in 4 billion years.  Even so, if you disagree with me I ask you to frame your points in your own words rather than spout boilerplate.

- College football kicks off in a couple of months (my own counter was activated today), but for some reason I’m not jacked up like I normally am.  I have neglected my two message board accounts, I rarely read the sports pages web-wide, and I don’t check out my local stories.  I don’t know why this is.  Maybe I feel less excitement over The Painter.  Maybe it’s the amount of personal and professional stress I’m under.  Maybe there’s too many things going on elsewhere.  Whatever it is, I should probably try to shake it.

- Two weekends past, two weekends of seeing old friends and sharing good memories.  It’s been tiring, but a joy to reconnect.  We were a little disappointed that this year’s gatherings didn’t line up, but hopefully we can get them better aligned in the future.

- Baseball season is finally over for Garrett this year, and what a monsoon it was.  Thanks to our highly aquatic weather I have no idea how many games were washouts.

- It’s amazing how far Ethan has progressed in the past year with his issues.  We still have the occasional bad days, but it’s rewarding to see all the positive changes.