February 2007 Archives

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February 28, 2007
A Road Trip I Wish I Could Make

My working nights and weekends means I'm not able to do a few things that most people might be able to do. My social life has, shall we say, been negatively impacted.

My social life was never that great to begin with. What I regret not being able to do, though, is something like this:

What: Gathering of Eagles

When: March 17th, 2007 0700-1600 (7 AM to 4 PM)

Where: The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall, Washington D.C.

Why: To stand silent guard over our nation's memorials, in honor of our fallen, and in solidarity with our armed forces in harm's way today. Read our mission statement.

I wish I could go.

Posted by Russ at 05:06 PM | Comments (9)
February 26, 2007
As If Proof Were Needed

Once again, Hollywood provides ample evidence that while beauty is only skin deep, ugly goes clean through to the bone.

Posted by Russ at 07:02 PM
February 24, 2007
Xaxu: 1993-2007

Though I only had temporary guardianship over him, this magnificent little cat grabbed hold of my heart and turned me into a "cat guy."

Haughty when he needed to be; loving when he wanted to be; handsome, lively and full of personality always. He was the ideal cat.

So long, Xaxu, my little friend.

Posted by Russ at 07:32 PM | Comments (2)
February 21, 2007
Instant Message Excerpt: On Being a Network Engineer, 5

Discussing organizational "missteps":

Bob(22:38:53): it's as if have no clue how their decisions are affecting things
Bob(22:39:22): none at all, and if they took the time to ask around maybe they would find out
Russ(22:40:04): man, if I was king for a day
Russ(22:40:23): I'd go down in company history as Russ the Impaler

Note that I have never identified my employer, nor will I do so.

Posted by Russ at 11:51 PM
February 19, 2007
Tough Week

Finally, the work week is over. I spent an average of 6 hours a day on conference calls this week. If that wouldn't make you want to fling yourself off the top of a very tall building, you must have the patience of a saint.

Working, as I do, during the hours when many English-speaking customers have knocked off for the day and the Asia/Pacific sites have come online, I spend an inordinate amount of time listening to discussions I cannot understand.

A typical conference call usually runs along the lines of:

[random Chinese babble] traceroute [querying voices] router [something that sounds like Chinese but might be Martian for all I know] firewall [Chinese chit-chat, murmur, murmur] HA-HA-HA! [something that sounds like an argument] upgrade? upgrade? [cursing, sounds of a fistfight, maybe?] Oh, HA-HA-HA! [are they having a party in their network ops center?] Router! [questioning voices] protocol?

Then a lone voice in heavily-accented English, "So, what do you think?"

Repeat for six hours.

Sometimes it's Spanish. At least in Spanish I can follow along when they recite IP addresses. And sometimes I talk to folks in Australia. Our customers there are often a tough bunch to deal with, due to their serious expertise and the complexity of the networks we support there — we don't often get easy issues from Oz — but I can usually handle that, dialect differences notwithstanding. And those guys always seem to understand when I tell them it's past the end of my workday and I want a beer.

Well, as the song said, it's been a long, been a long, been a long, been a long day.

Posted by Russ at 03:33 AM
February 17, 2007
Medical Miracles: May They Never Cease

From the BBC:

Viagra used to save baby's life

Viagra has been used by doctors on Tyneside as a last resort to save the life of a premature baby.

Lewis Goodfellow was born at 24 weeks weighing just 1lb 8oz. One of his lungs had failed and not enough oxygen was able to get into his bloodstream.

Doctors at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary then tried Sildenafil, also known under the trade name of Viagra, and Lewis is now home with his parents.

The drug opened up tiny blood vessels in the baby's lungs.

Plus, all the girl babies followed him home from the maternity ward.

I'm glad to see that an other-than-expected beneficial use was found for Viagra. It gives me hope to think that perhaps, maybe someday, a miraculous medical use might be found for single malt scotch whisky.

Posted by Russ at 02:26 PM
February 16, 2007
Hide and Seek

Mycah plays her favorite game: Where's the treat?

[Click for larger.]

There's the treat!

[Click for larger.]

You can see why she's sometimes known as Miss Chunkytux.

It's Friday? Well then, you'd best get your butt over to the Modulator's Friday Ark.

The 152nd Carnival of the Cats is at Pet's Garden Blog.

I enjoyed hosting the 115th Carnival here... maybe I should volunteer to do another.

Posted by Russ at 04:00 AM | Comments (1)
February 15, 2007
Instant Message Excerpt: On Being a Network Engineer, 4

After being unresponsive to IMs:

getu 21:57:01: Yo.
[Nine minute delay]
Russ 22:06:03: sorry, man - jumping through my butt here
getu 22:06:17: ok
getu 22:09:36: Did your doctor okay that?
Russ 22:10:23: no - but my physical therapist said to give it a try

Posted by Russ at 11:20 PM
February 14, 2007
Fun Medical Fact

Prednisone tastes horrible.

Really, truly horrible.

Posted by Russ at 03:13 PM
February 13, 2007
Fridays, My Ass

They haven't got anything on this Tuesday the 13th.

Posted by Russ at 10:47 PM
February 12, 2007
Quick Movie Review

Open Range
(Directed by Kevin Costner, starring Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening)

People looking to criticize Costner's acting or directing will have to find a different movie to justify their criticism. This one is good.

Not that there aren't plenty of bad movies from which to choose.

[By the way, Open Range has one of the best western gunfights ever set to film, and it's playing all this month on AMC. Be sure to see it.]

4½ Stars

Posted by Russ at 09:53 PM | Comments (1)
February 10, 2007

I never thought Anna Nicole Smith was terribly attractive. Some people might find silicone-filled Hefty bags appealing. Not I... but I'm inclined to think it matters more to whom they are connected.

Smith reminded me of a piranha — toothy, opportunistic and predatory. Add to the mix the bovine physique and... well, piranhas and cows don't mix well, as every travelogue ever made about the Amazon River was sure to point out.

Had she lived to a ripe old age, she might have become known as the most successful prostitute since the Byzantine Empress Theodora. Now, though, she'll be remembered — if at all — as a self-destructive gold-digger who thought she was Marilyn Monroe.

I do feel sorry for the baby, though. That kid has no chance whatsoever of having a normal life.

Posted by Russ at 03:47 PM | Comments (1)
February 09, 2007
Quick Movie Review

(Directed by Tony Bill, starring James Franco, Martin Henderson, Jean Reno)

Predictable but somewhat effective (though predictable) WW1 (totally predictable) drama.

Did I mention "predictable"?

3½ Stars

Posted by Russ at 11:26 AM
February 08, 2007
Quote of the Day
There’s a big difference between volunteers and mercenaries. Our fighters are where they are because, by and large, they believe in something bigger than themselves, they have learned that you can live in a community where virtue does not equal narcissism, and they know that they are far more than a nuisance. They’re in it for all of us, and if they lose it’s going to be bad for all of us.

Michael Ledeen, in Those Who Serve.

Posted by Russ at 11:55 PM
February 07, 2007
Carbon Math

In a multiply-updated post, Glenn Reynolds talks global warming and the effect thereupon of congressional "private" air travel.

In the course of the post, Reynolds cites this statistic from Tourjet (which, as the name implies, is an aircraft chartering agency catering to celebrities):

The typical American is responsible for 10 tons of CO2 emissions annually through their direct energy use of home, cars and air travel, and about 24 tons of CO2 including their purchases, activities and the other services we all share throughout the economy.

By comparison, a Gulf Stream III business jet (10-12 passenger) from New York to Los Angeles will emit around 31 tons of CO2 during the 6 hour flight.

I'm no airplane expert (merely a well-informed hobbyist, you could say) but it seems to me that if a cross-country fight produces 31 tones of CO2, this means the aircraft would have to carry well over 31 tons of fuel, as not all the consumed fuel would be exhausted as CO2. I have a hard time believing that.

Turning to airliners.net we can see a bit of info on the weight of the Gulfstream III:

Empty 14,515kg (32,000lb), operating empty 17,235kg (38,000lb), max takeoff 31,615kg (69,700lb)

Quick math.... OK, so at the very most, the plane can carry 37,700 pounds (18.85 tons) of non-airplane weight.* That's passengers, luggage, cargo, and fuel. While that is a lot, it's not 31 tons, it's not all fuel weight, and not all of of the fuel would be used on a NY-LA flight, since the aircraft's range is something over 4,000 miles.

Unless, of course, there's more than one airplane called the Gulfstream III....**

It is hypocritical for "jet set" celebrities and politicians to blather about reducing greenhouse gas emissions while burning fuel by the ton, but accuracy counts, too. In this case, it's not quite as bad as it appears at first glance.

(So, I hope I got the numbers right....)

* It's just a guess on my part, but I think the difference between the "empty" weight and the "operating empty" weight might be the airplane plus a full fuel load, which would make the fuel capacity 6,000 pounds.

** Update: Errr... nevermind. I forgot all about the oxygen input into the chemical reaction, which would indeed boost the output CO2 mass to something rather higher than the carbon input into the equation. Good thing I don't make my living as a chemist.

Posted by Russ at 09:07 PM | Comments (2)
February 06, 2007
Quick Movie Review

(Directed by Robert Schwentke, starring Jodie Foster, Sean Bean and Peter Sarsgaard)

The absence of evidence that you are sane is not proof that you're crazy... but it's understandable if people take it that way.

4 Stars

Posted by Russ at 04:00 AM
February 04, 2007
When It Rains, It Pours

Sundays are usually very quiet nights for those of us in the network support business. Super Bowl Sunday especially so.

So, I'm working from home, hoping to enjoy the game while I wait for the inevitable nothing to happen.

Then, ten minutes before kickoff — ten stinking minutes — something happens. Something big, for a big customer.

So now I'm on a 5-vendor, 25-person conference call trying to fix a problem in Spain. We're likely to go past midnight. No game for me.

I smell a European anti-fun conspiracy.

Posted by Russ at 08:22 PM | Comments (2)
February 03, 2007

So today, on a lark, I decided to see how I would do without anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or painkillers.

Bad, really bad idea.

Posted by Russ at 09:51 PM | Comments (2)
February 02, 2007

Mycah continues to regularly enjoy her video, but she much prefers the live show.

[Click for larger.]

The towel is there because those floor tiles are c-c-c-c-cold. Not shown: the squirrel hanging off the bird feeder on the edge of my deck.

Be there or be square — at the Modulator's Friday Ark.

The Carnival of the Cats on Sunday will be at This Blog Is Full Of Crap. It's sure to be super.

Posted by Russ at 03:07 PM | Comments (2)
February 01, 2007

Powerline examines Washington Post reporter William Arkin's anti-troop sentiments, laid out bare for all to see.

Apropos of which, Instapundit has some linkage, and reader comments, including this steaming pile from one of Arkin's blog commenters:

"U.S. soldiers are by no means "volunteers," any more than I am a volunteer plumber. When a person accepts compensation in the form of respect, glory, and not least of all monetary benefits (not to mention a host of other privileges for serving one's country after service is completed) a transaction is made in which both sides receive some benefit. Fisherman in Alaska take on relatively larger risks in exchage [sic] for relatively larger reward. Why is the U.S. military of the 21st century so different in this regard?"

The problem with this sentiment is that soldiers voluntarily take on much, much larger risks for much smaller rewards. If one were to do a risk/reward calculation for various professions, from CEO to registered nurse to cop to garbageman to soldier, soldiering would come out pretty much at the bottom of the scale.

No one who can do math joins the Army for money; anyone joining for "glory" is in for a big disappointment.

And yet, the commenter is tangentially correct in one regard. If I were young enough (and could walk without falling over) I'd drop my career in a heartbeat and go back into the service, because I never respected myself as much as when I was a soldier.

Self respect doesn't exactly max out the 401K, does it?

There's much more here, courtesy of the indispensible Michelle Malkin.

Posted by Russ at 12:49 AM | Comments (1)