April 2005 Archives

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April 28, 2005

After a brief power drop here, I restarted my computers and — heart attack! — my Linux machine (on which I read all my e-mail) failed to come up on the network. The ethernet card appeared to have disappeared from the system configuration. "Device not found" messages, and so on.

OK, this sort of thing I don't need. What I do need is my mail, delivered to my local machine; I really don't want to have to go to the server and read it there (which I can do from my Windows machine.)

I have UPS battery backups for my PCs, and the Windows machine will do a "graceful shutdown" when told to do so by the UPS. Apparently, however, instead of a graceful shutdown, my Linux box was simply deprived of power and switched off, as if there had been no UPS there at all. Not good.

Fortunately, after I finished panicking, a complete shutdown and reboot solved the network problem.

Perhaps it might behoove me to re-read the Linux UPS How-To.

Posted by Russ at 06:46 PM
Not Vacationing

Sorry for the lack of posting... I've been busy this week, and too tired at night to think straight.

In lieu of original content, here's a picture of naked chicks with guns:

Posted by Russ at 04:44 PM | Comments (3)
April 25, 2005
Quote of the Day

On the European Parliament cowering from the showing of the film Submission:

Good grief, this ‘parliament’ is so craven that if it had been the Reichstag in 1933 it would have burned itself down.

Andrew Stuttaford, in The Corner at NRO.

Posted by Russ at 12:23 PM
April 23, 2005
Obey the Sticker

I give blood regularly. I've done so since I was 18.

Because of my size commitment to helping the community, I do double red-cell donations. For such donations, the Red Cross folks hook the donor up to a machine which then extracts twice as much blood as a usual donation (no, not all at once), sorts out the red cells which are kept for medical use, and then returns the plasma to the donor via the same needle through which it was extracted.

It's a pretty spiffy way to donate blood. You are basically doing two donations in one visit, which means that instead of going in to donate every eight weeks, you go every sixteen weeks, and still get "credit" for the same number of donations... not that credit matters. And they use a smaller needle (if that's important to you.) Plus, you get a spiffy sticker plastered on your shirt:

Blood Donor Sticker

The downside is that you're missing twice as many of the oxygen-carrying red cells, and it can take a while to recover full capacity.

Also, it feels like the machine refrigerates the plasma before returning it to the body — I think that's merely because the blood spends enough time outside the body to drop in temperature before the plasma is returned. The Red Cross folks keep blankets handy, because most double-donors get chills during the process.

And of course, it takes longer. With a regular donation, I can squeeze out a unit of blood in under ten minutes. The double donation process takes a good deal longer; I think I was hooked up to the machine for about half an hour today.

Not everyone can do double donations. You have to be above a certain height and weight, and your blood iron has to be above a certain level. (Here's a fact sheet.) They also usually prefer donors with blood type O, though other blood types might periodically be in demand. If you meet those criteria, I recommend it.

Even if you can't do double donations, I think anyone who can should give blood regularly.

Posted by Russ at 01:52 PM | Comments (1)
April 22, 2005
Earth Day 2005

Today is, of course, Earth Day.

It's also Lenin's birthday, but really, I'm sure it's just a coincidence that the birthday of the man who spawned tyrannies over half the globe, regimes which caused millions upon millions of deaths, just happened to be chosen by the environmentalist "watermelons" for their big shin-dig.

A coincidence, I tell you. Just ignore the man behind the curtain....


But hey! It's Earth Day!

In that spirit, then, I would like to offer the following:

Go Earth! Beat Mars!

That is all.

Posted by Russ at 11:58 AM
April 21, 2005

At the grocery store, beef was on sale in a big way. Full sirloin primals*, ranging from 10 to 15 pounds, on sale for $1.79/pound. Since ordinary ground beef was selling for $2.59, I figured the worst that could happen was that I'd have ten pounds of inexpensive ground beef. I searched through the refrigerated bin for a small one with minimal fat. No sense paying for something I wouldn't be eating.

I asked the butcher what my carving options would be with such a hunk of beef, and he was good enough to show me the right places to slice to get steaks and roasts, and even a combination thereof.

Armed with this knowledge and, as soon as I got home, my trusty toadsticker chef's knife, I went to work on the sirloin.

I knew I was in trouble when, after trimming off the fat that can never be completely avoided, I realized that half an hour had passed. Half an hour? How did that happen?

Following the trimming, slicing the steaks off was simplicity itself. Separating the remainder into roasts, however, was a challenge. Frankly, I don't know how the guys working behind the meat counter do it. OK, OK, sure — they do it all the time, but still... this wasn't easy. It was like performing surgery while wearing boxing gloves: you can see where you have to cut, and you can see the little bits you ought to remove, but actually doing it is a different matter altogether.

It's a good thing I never wanted to be a butcher.

Suffice it to say, however, that I now have about 8.5 pounds of beef bagged and tagged in the deep freeze, and about 3/4-pound of fat in the garbage.

There was a nice 12-ounce steak too, but it seems to have disappeared.... along with the horseradish. It's pretty odd how that happens, isn't it?

* If you watch Good Eats, you know what a "primal" is. If you don't watch, shame on you. The primal is the large chunk of cow from which the cuts one normally buys — sirloin steak or rib roasts, for instance — are butchered.

Posted by Russ at 11:01 PM | Comments (1)
April 19, 2005
Benedict XVI

I tuned in to the news today just in time to see the reports of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. Confusion reigned among the reporters and news anchors — John Paul II had said there were supposed to be bells, right?

And then the bells began to ring, first the big deep bell, then the smaller higher-pitched bells, and to me they sounded as if they were final words from John Paul II, saying "here is my successor."

And then the new Pope made his appearance, and the crowd went absolutely wild with glee.

Heck, I'm not even Catholic and I found it to be quite moving.

Posted by Russ at 01:17 PM
April 18, 2005
Quote of the Day

The always-amazing DoggerelPundit bats another one out of the park:

How did freedom’s institution
Garner privileged absolution?
With the bar to publish falling;
Unrestricted pages sprawling,
Now we hear of regulation
On the spread of information!

It’s Free Press! — read the whole thing.

Posted by Russ at 08:32 PM
Oh, the Horror!

Break out the nano-violin:

Authorities in Phoenix marched more than 2,000 maximum security inmates to a new facility in their pink boxer shorts and pink flip-flops, according to a Local 6 News report.

Naturally, "activists" complained about the inhuman treatment.

Cry me a river.

Posted by Russ at 07:56 PM

Chap chae, kept overnight in the fridge and rewarmed in the microwave, is amazingly good.

Especially with a little kimchi on the side.

Eat your heart out, Steve.

Posted by Russ at 04:58 PM
April 17, 2005
Menu Plan


One of the things I took from my years in the Army was an abiding love of Korean cuisine.

It actually began while I was at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA — as part of the curriculum in the Korean language course, we were occasionally taken on a field trip to one of the local Korean restaurants and encouraged to experiment with all the different dishes. In no time at all, I was hooked.

My subsequent assignment to Korea was culinary bliss. I had something of the local cuisine every other day on average.

Since my return to the States in '90, I've been mostly deprived of my favorite foreign food. In my hometown, Santa Barbara — the city with the most restaurants per capita in the world, it is often claimed — there is every kind of restaurant you can imagine, except for Korean.

In the Bay Area there are plenty of Korean restaurants to be found, but life in San Jose at the height of the tech boom being what it was, I rarely had the time or inclination to do anything after work but go home.

North Carolina? Surprisingly, there's a pretty good Korean restaurant less than 10 miles from my home... but there are few things that seem to me to be quite so pathetic as a man going to a restaurant for dinner alone.

So, having mastered barbecue, I've determined to learn how to cook Korean food.

Tonight was my first foray into that realm. For my first effort, I decided on 잡채 (chap chae) — a noodle/vegetable dish (sometimes with meat) that was one of my favorites.

If I do say so myself, it was a success... even if it looked like a mess.


아주 촣아요 — very good!

[I hope I remembered the spelling correctly.]

Addendum: afterwards, the kitchen looked like a tornado had passed through.

Posted by Russ at 11:10 PM | Comments (3)
April 15, 2005
Police State

When you need to define the expression "police state" by using a real-world example, you could do a lot worse than to cite this story from Canada.

(Via Captain Ed)

Posted by Russ at 11:49 PM
Like David Brenner to Johnny Carson

While Ith of Absinthe & Cookies is on vacation, I'll be one of her guest bloggers.

I know, I know — in the past I've expressed some minor opposition to the concept of having guest authors... but I never said anything about being a guest author.

Hey, friends help friends. That's one of the points of being a friend, no?

Posted by Russ at 05:27 PM | Comments (1)
Easily Entertained

I'm half tempted to grab my camera and head down to the post office this evening to observe all the people posting their tax returns at the very last minute. I'd laugh and laugh and laugh.

Sometimes the simple pleasures are the best.

Posted by Russ at 03:39 PM
Heavy Metal

An observant reader may have gathered from a couple of past entries here that I'm something of a battleship aficionado. The reader would be correct.

Nothing says "are you ready to surrender yet?" like an American battleship showing up on your coastline, ready to begin lobbing 2000-pound shells. Saddam's army learned that lesson in 1991, with whole units surrendering at the sight of the unmanned aerial vehicles used by the battleships for target spotting and fire correction/adjustment. They knew what kind of hell would otherwise have been unleashed on them.

Fandom aside, though, I had thought the day of the battleships' utility in war was over. I assumed that other weapon systems were adequate to the tasks for which the battleship was well-suited. As a stodgy old traditionalist, I hoped the battlewagons could still be useful, but I was not convinced that it could be so.

Oliver North says otherwise:

Sometimes, as I tell my grandchildren, older is better. In the case of the two battlewagons, older is not only superior, it's also a lot less expensive.
I believe him.

Below the fold, another photo from my recent visit to the USS North Carolina.

The aft turret:

Click for larger

Posted by Russ at 01:00 PM | Comments (3)
April 13, 2005
Uncle Russ

For the past few days I've had three, count 'em, three generations of Emerson women visiting here — my niece, sister and mother.

Apparently, since I am the designated bachelor in the family, they see it as their mission to take care of me whenever they visit. Invariably, this means cleaning and redecorating my house and feeding me more/better than I normally feed myself... and I should note, as regards feeding: I'm a darn good cook, even if I do say so myself. But Mom is far and away better.

I do appreciate their concern. But it's a bit overwhelming — they whoosh in, and in an estrogen-induced flurry of activity begin moving pictures from one wall to another, moving furniture and [fake] houseplants around, cleaning things that I am perfectly capable of cleaning, and making the occasional broad hint that having what might be euphemistically referred to as a "legally-united permanent live-in decorator, chef and heir provider" might be better than me remaining the designated bachelor in the family.

On the plus side, I did get to spend a good deal of "uncle time" with my 11-year-old niece. We made it through the entire extended version of the Lord of the Rings trilogy over the course of the visit. Explaining the concept of Tolkien's conception of elves to an 11-year-old can be a challenge, not to mention teaching the difference between orcs and Uruk-Hai... but time spent with any of the kids is all good.

I have two nieces and a nephew, and they're all great, but I rarely ever get to see them. It's a pity, really... any time spent with them feels like time not deducted from my lifespan. They really are great kids. Smart and talented, and... well, apply all the superlatives you might usually associate with a proud parent's description of his kids, and you get the idea.

They're getting older, though — soon all three will be snotty teenagers with whom I, as a matter of principle, must refuse to associate [though more likely, they will not want to be seen with their middle-aged uncle, lest I do something to cause them to die of embarrassment.] The lad is already thirteen, but the snottiness hasn't hit him yet. And though I know it's inevitable, I also know that by the time they hit their mid or late 20s, they'll likely grow out of it and I can go back to being Good Uncle Russ.

I think I could use more visits. Maybe the next time the womenfolk come, I can get them to paint.

Posted by Russ at 01:34 PM | Comments (1)
April 09, 2005
Hairy Little Furball

Cat hair shedding season has certainly begun in earnest. I have now collected enough loose cat hair to make another complete cat.

What I can't understand is how a cat can shed so much hair and still have any left on its body.

Good thing I'm not allergic (he said, tempting Fate.)

Posted by Russ at 01:31 PM | Comments (3)
April 08, 2005
Quote of the Day
Aristotle states that courage is the first virtue, because without it nothing else is possible. In Pope John Paul's messages and life, he showed no fear: He was not afraid to stand against tyranny any more than he was afraid to personally forgive others, including those who wanted him dead, even his would-be assassin whom he visited in prison. He knew God and was able to teach the rest of us about Him — and now, with His message so well taught, God called the pope home, for a well-deserved servant's rest. We will not see another Pope John Paul II anymore than we will see another Mother Teresa or Ronald Reagan, but as with them, we can continue to hear him.
William Bennett, at NRO
Posted by Russ at 05:53 PM
April 06, 2005
Tartan Day 2005

'Tis that day once again:


Many thanks to Ith of Absinthe and Cookies for once again coordinating the Tartan Day Gathering of the Blogs. Be sure to drop by her site, say Hi, and check out the many fine blogs participating in the Gathering.

Due to time constraints, I am unable to provide anything original this year for Tartan Day. In lieu of creativity, I'll simply provide links here to some of my past efforts.

  • Men in Skirts — why a guy named "Emerson" claims the Tupper tartan.
And finally, an obligatory pic of the Tupper family tartan:

Posted by Russ at 09:53 PM | Comments (1)
April 04, 2005

Sergeant First Class Paul Smith later today will be the first soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honor for courage above and beyond the call of duty in Iraq. Like too many recipients of the Medal of Honor, he paid for his bravery with his life, but in so doing saved the lives of dozens of his fellow soldiers.

SFC Smith is the first serviceman to receive the Medal of Honor since Army snipers Shughart and Gordon were so honored for their actions in the 1993 Somalia mission (later immortalized in the book and film Black Hawk Down.)

SFC Smith's award will be accepted by his 11-year-old son.

Be sure to visit the online presentation, published earlier this year, which covers the whole story of SFC Smith: The Last Full Measure of Devotion.

The text of the citation for Smith's award will be available after the presentation ceremony.

Update — the citation:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by an act of Congress, March 3rd 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, United States Army.

Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action [against] an armed enemy in action near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq, on 4 April 2003.

On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his task force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over a hundred fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense, consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and three armored personnel carriers.

As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a sixty millimeter mortar round.

Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a fifty-caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded.

His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack and resulted in as many as fifty enemy soldiers killed while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers.

Sergeant First Class Smith's extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division (Rock of the Marne), and the United States Army.

[Transcribed from CSPAN's coverage of the ceremony.]

Update 2: Matt has a transcript of the President's remarks.

Posted by Russ at 02:35 PM
Quote of the Day
The battle against atheistic Soviet Communism was the battle of the last century, commencing in 1917 and finishing in 1991. The moral battle of the next century will be the fight for the dignity of human life. John Paul II helped us win the last, and has left us words of wisdom, a coherent philosophy, and an example, to guide us in our new fight.

In that way, then, the death of Pope John Paul II is a significant symbol, and a bridge — a bridge from one century to another.

Paul Kengor, in The 20th Century Ends

Posted by Russ at 09:53 AM