June 2003 Archives

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June 28, 2003


Why do I say "clue-by-four"?

Here's why.


I know for fact that the term "clue-by-four" pre-dates the trademark in question. Being in the tech-support business, I have used the term "clue-by-four" regularly since at least 1997.


This reminds me of the time some yahoo tried to trademark the term "Linux" out from under Linus Torvalds and then blackmailextract payment from all varieties of Linux vendors.

Joel McClung needs a clue-by-four to the side of the head.


(Links found in various places, but thanks to His Imperial Majesty for the heads-up.)

Posted by Russ at 05:54 PM
June 27, 2003
Sigh. Me too.

Clubbeaux misses Calvin and Hobbes.

So do I. If ever a "mere" comic strip attained the exalted status of "Art", C&H was it.

Posted by Russ at 04:52 PM | Comments (1)
June 26, 2003

I think I've had my punishment for threatening olfactory crimes towards grieving relatives at my deathbed some (many) years hence. [Not, mind you, that I am eager to be on my deathbed, but I figure if you have to go, go out with style (as opposed to class).]

Punishment, indeed. But allow me to fill in the backstory a bit.

Last week, we had (as we in North Carolina are wont to do) a thunderstorm or two roll through the area. The power went out for a while - I was working at home that day, and I still can't get out of my head the bloody annoying alarm sound of the battery backups for my computers & network.

Power was shortly restored - a matter of only five minutes or so - and after I reset all the non-backed up clocks in the house I got back to work and forgot all about it.

(Aside: when the power goes out, I have to reset the microwave oven, the regular oven, the internal clocks on the TVs, an alarm clock, and the clock on my stereo. How hard would it be for gizmo makers to include minimal battery backup? I wonder if APC makes batteries suitable for backing up a whole house?)

So anyway, power was back and I gave it no more thought. Until yesterday. But I'm getting ahead of myself again....


Are you all looking forward to the upcoming Independence Day holiday weekend as much as I am? There are only three "non-religious" holidays that I really care about. New Year's Day? Bah. Arbor Day? Feh. Labor Day? Humbug.

Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day. Sacrosanct.

This year (as last) my next-door neighbors are hosting the neighborhood festivities, and it's my job to provide the barbecue, for which purpose I had stowed a couple of whole pork loins in the freezer in the garage (along with the usual supplies of frozen vegetables, chicken, a duck, etc.)

So yesterday evening, while taking a break from lawn-mowing, I chatted with the "other-side" next-door neighbor about the upcoming party and about my upcoming porcine contribution. I've developed something of a reputation in the neighborhood for my barbecue -- I practice a lot, the reviews are universally favorable, and frankly I do like my own cooking....

We got to talking about the barbecue specifically -- how the whole neighborhood knows when Russ has fired up the smoker -- and my neighbor asked about the pork I had stashed for the event: how big was a whole loin, how long it would have to smoke before being fit for human consumption, that sort of thing. So we went to the freezer in the garage to haul one out and have a look. Opened up the freezer chest and...


As the lid/door opened, my eyes began to water, my gorge rose, and buzzards began dropping from s**t-wagons in a 5-mile radius.

There was no frost accumulated in the freezer.

The sides of the freezer were not warm, but almost hot to the touch. (It had been about 90° all day.)

The "power" light was off.

Un-utterable horror.

I quickly slammed the lid shut and, professional troubleshooter that I am, began to analyze the problem. Was the freezer plugged in? Yes. Maybe the outlet was faulty... quick test with a power tool said "no juice here." Dang? What was wrong? The circuit breakers were all good-to-go.... Could it be....

Damn. The whole garage is on a Ground Fault Interrupt circuit... and the circuit had cut off. The indicator winked mockingly at me from the other side of the garage.

Remember that power outage I mentioned?

I reset the GFI and sure enough, the freezer began humming merrily, blithely unaware of the diabolical wrongness contained within its metal walls.

Now it all came together. The power outage taking out the GFI circuit, followed by a week of warm and/or hot weather, combined with a metal box full of meat -- all adds up to a stench the like of which I have never before experienced (and I've lived in Korea, where stench takes on whole new nuances of meaning.) It was more than just an odor - it filled the garage, permeating my clothes and sticking to my skin. I had touched the inside of that freezer, I had felt the formerly-frozen contents thereof. I felt unclean.

What to do about it?

I couldn't just leave it like that. Then it struck me - Thursday (today) is trash day! My salvation was just around the corner. I resolved to load all the rot into the trash and let the town deal with it. After a couple hours of re-freezing (I was hoping that might knock down some of the smell -- it didn't, not perceptably), I ventured out and -- with held breath -- transferred the contents of the freezer to my trashcan, and wheeled the whole mess out to the curb. I had to hope that the local fauna would leave it alone. Then, into the house for a long soapy shower.

Those poor garbagemen - they must think I've finally disposed of Jimmy Hoffa. I expect I'll be receiving scrutiny for the next few missing-persons investigations in the county.

I'm out about $150 in frozen food, I still have to clean the freezer out completely (yes, there was some "leakage") and I still need to prep for the barbecue for the 4th of July.

So maybe there's a lesson here for me -- maybe I shouldn't threaten my aforementioned grieving relatives with olfactory torture.

Then again, maybe I've earned the right.

Posted by Russ at 12:46 PM | Comments (6)
June 22, 2003
If ya gotta go, that's the way to go

You can find all sorts of odds & ends on the 'net. Emphasis on the odd.

Back in the 17th century, a fellow named John Graunt compiled and tabulated the data on causes of death in London over a number of years. All sorts of odd-sounding (and for that matter, many normal-sounding (to 21st-century ears)) ailments and events are listed. Most sound really awful, and I'm sure that the clinical manner of the list tends to ameliorate our idea of just how awful (nasty, brutish, short) life and death really were in pretty much every era but our own.

But we all have to go sometime, somehow. If it were possible to have a say in the manner of one's own demise (short of doing one's self in, obviously) I'd pick "Colick, and Wind."

Especially the "and Wind" part. No sense making things olfactorily easy for my grieving-at-bedside relatives.

(Link courtesy of fellow N.Carolina blogger Is That Legal?)

Posted by Russ at 01:25 PM
Another Blogspot refugee

Blogspot stinks on ice.

At least, that's the impresson I get from the number of bloggers I see leaving it.

Matt of Stars 'n' Stripes has made the move to his own domain. If you haven't checked him out before, go do so.

Posted by Russ at 11:05 AM | Comments (1)
June 19, 2003
I lied...

... but I couldn't pass this up.

Today's Best of the Web references this story from Reuters, the "news" service. Commenting, BOTW editor James Taranto says

Reuters won't call Osama bin Laden a terrorist, but it will use the phrase many Iraqis, with no scare quotes, to describe 0.00002% of the population.

Rather than castigated, Reuters should be congratulated. They have, after all, advanced the mathematical sciences to the aboriginal level, wherein counting often consists of "one, two, many."

Posted by Russ at 01:23 PM
June 18, 2003

Heavy workload at the office... sorry, no blogging expected for a few days.

Posted by Russ at 07:50 PM
June 12, 2003
News Rants?

Dennis Miller to be a regular on Fox News?


Posted by Russ at 07:21 PM | Comments (2)
June 09, 2003
I'll bet on the live piranha

I know Rachel will like this....

Michael Moore's audience

Posted by Russ at 10:44 AM | Comments (1)
June 05, 2003
Robin Hood was not a Socialist

On CNSnews today, Ron Marr, drawing comparisons to the Robin Hood tale, points out that, despite their claims and posturing, the Left is ultimately not the Friend Of The Little Guy:

The poor are their pawns - useful tools to whom them throw gristle and moldy bones in return for votes. Though the Democrat ruse is to convince low wage earners and the voluntarily unemployed that refuse from their tables is but a sample of the gourmet meal to come, such is a bald-faced lie. They have no intention of ever providing anything but the most meager of rations.

The reason? The vision of the left is to foster false hope and create inescapable dependency. They wish to make the poor reliant, to position themselves as heroes of the common man. Their theology has far more in common with a noble/serf relationship than it does with helping one free themselves from the chains of poverty.

I'd sum up the Robin Hood issue thus:

Robin Hood did not steal from the rich to give to the poor.
Robin Hood stole from the taxman to give back to the taxpayer.

Don't let the Left tell you otherwise.

Posted by Russ at 10:06 AM | Comments (1)
June 04, 2003
North State Blogs

Someone's gone and done it....

North State Blogs

We're gonna have to get together for barbecue.

UPDATE: Linkage -- glad to be aboard!

Posted by Russ at 07:14 PM | Comments (4)
Media Feeding Frenzy

Martha Stewart has been indicted.


Well, if there's an upside to this, it's that this has knocked the Peterson case out of the headlines for the next five minutes.

Posted by Russ at 02:59 PM
June 01, 2003
Travel... travail... same thing.

As previously noted, I've been on the road. One of the (many) reasons I am not now, nor do I ever want to be, a salesman is that there tends to be a lot of travel involved in the job. I don't mind talking to customers -- they seem to appreciate it -- I'd just rather they came to see me instead of the other way around.

The week started well enough, Monday having been a holiday... but it was all downhill from there.

My flight from Raleigh to Boston was on one of those sub-microscopic "regional jets" so much in vogue these days. It seems the airlines have finally discovered that it's less expensive to fly a number of small planes packed to the gunwales than to fly one big one half empty. American Airlines has certainly figured it out.

Now, a flight on a small plane isn't usually a problem in and of itself. But this time I knew there were going to be problems.

Getting into the airport was no problem, and security was a breeze -- Raleigh-Durham Int'l Airport seems to be pretty efficient that way. But the first problem didn't take long to manifest itself. As the time for my flight approached, the gate attendant calmly announced that there would be a 15 minute delay while the airplane had a mechanical issue fixed. I was filled with confidence. I love knowing that my plane has "mechanical issues."

Oh, and -- 15 minutes, my butt.

An hour later, we were unapologetically informed that a replacement aircraft should be along momentarily. Another hour later, our flight was ready for boarding. We all queued up and got onto the plane in one big cattle-call. Next problem: as I entered the aircraft I had to not only "duck" a little bit, but actually had to bend at the waist to get in. Walking down the aisle to my seat was no better. American Eagle uses, among others, the Embraer ERJ-135. A really spiffy plane, I'm sure - if you're a midget. This is not a plane built for normal sized people, and certainly not for very large people.

Then, yet another problem. In my hand: a boarding pass for seat 14C. On the plane: no row 14. No 15 or 16, either. In fact, the rows stopped at 13.

Now, I know a thing or three about airplanes, but I'm no aviation industry expert; I can also count, but that doesn't make me a mathematician. But I do know this much:

when you bring in a replacement airplane for a fully-booked flight, it might make sense to have at least as many seats on the spare as there were on the original.

After much dithering and shuffling, everyone was either seated or had volunteered to be bumped. "Seated" is a relative term, however, if (like me) your femurs are longer than the front-to-back distance between the seats. American Airlines claims that they're adding legroom on all their planes, but if so they're taking that extra room from the American Eagle planes. It was absolute torture to wedge myself into that seat. Embraer aircraft are products of Brazil, but as rude as this one was to me, it may as well have been French.

Then came the only bright spot of my trip: a wonderful, sweet, nice woman (hiding her halo, I suspect) sitting in the exit row offered to trade seats with me -- out of the blue, so to speak. If you're really tall, the exit row is where you go to get legroom. This woman's act of kindness is all that kept me from being unable to walk at the end of the flight -- and after the flight, she disappeared before I could thank her. Dang. She was cute, too.

After that, the rest of the trip was tolerable. Uncomfortable hotel beds, lack of sleep, driving all over New England (Massachussetts, New Hampshire and Maine, all in three days). Sore feet, sore butt, sore head. You know, the usual.

It's good to be home.

Posted by Russ at 12:19 PM