Welcome Back, Dinosaurs!

December 5, 2008

this is just the intro from a short piece I wrote; the rest of it can be read via the link at the end

Welcome back, Dinosaurs!

or

How I learned to stop worrying and love global warming

It is now widely accepted that the earth’s climate is changing (it’s getting warmer), and that this change is the direct and indirect result of humans burning fossil fuels.  When discussing global warming, people generally focus on the negative effects this will have (i.e, the death or displacement of a billion or so people).  For variety’s sake, I’m going to take a few minutes to consider one of the oft-ignored benefits of climate change: if the Earth gets warm enough, we can bring back the dinosaurs.

the rest of it’s here

About my religion

December 3, 2008

I’ve had a few people ask me in my life about my religion, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to describe it.

I’m a Ghostist.  Some people believe in God(s), some in devils.  I believe in Ghosts.

It’s pretty simple really.  When men die, some of them become ghosts.  Sometimes women become Ghosts too, but it’s less common.  Ghosts watch over the world, mostly minding their own business.  If you want to get on their good side, you can make burnt offerings to them.  They are partial to colored strings and baloney.  If you make regular offerings to the Ghosts, they will be happy, and when you die they will all line up to shake your hand.  If on the other hand you make infrequent or inadequate offerings to them, they feel disrespected, and when you die they make you suck their dicks.  Even if you’re into that whole DSing thing, ghost dicks are probably pretty nasty, so the wisest course is to occasionally make offerings to them.  That’s all.  Pretty simple religion, but it does its job.  I can sleep well at night because I know that if I die in my sleep, I’ll be okay, and when I’m burning a bit of baloney tied up with a piece of yarn, I’m happy because I know I’m doing the right thing.  And that’s what religion is all about.

An update on whatever

November 18, 2008

Well, let’s see, it’s been about 9 months since I posted anything.  One of my last posts I think mentioned my New Year’s resolutions to write something every day and lose 20 pounds.  Let’s consider both of those resolutions as abandoned, okay?
I also wrote about politics a bit.  Last I wrote I was unenthusiastic about Obama, preferring Hillary.  Well, as you all know he went on to win, and in the course of the campaign continuously impressed me with his intelligence, temperment, and political skill.  I no longer have any reservations about him, haven’t for a long time, and am now cautiously optimistic he will be a great President.  I mean great as in after his Presidency, I think he might be on most people’s “5 Best President’s Ever” list.  Cautiously optimistic.  Things may turn out like Carter: brillaint man, unimpeachable ethics, but a failure because of external events and other people (his own party) not willing to go along with fixing America.   (Carter wanted to be fiscally responsible, but Congress wouldn’t go along with it, and the Democrats got stuck with the “Big Spender” tag that’s haunted them ever since.  As far as I know, that’s what happened, but I could be wrong).

What else is going on?  Not much.  Went back to MSU, maybe to finally get a good degree, or maybe not. Life happens, my education might get interrupted again.  It doesn’t really matter.  I’m keeping busy.  Writing some, drawing some.  Happy.

Election year blues (again)

February 12, 2008

This will be a rant, so please, if you’re not into that sort of thing, thanks for stopping by, and have a nice day. On the other hand, I’ve always thought I was pretty good as far as ranters go. Definitely above average, and hell, if I get worked up enough to start swearing, lookout!

Okay, so I read “news” articles about the election constantly. I probably waste an hour a day reading about these dumb primaries, which I’ve publicly stated should be replaced by a brief (8 weeks tops) reality-style television show, even though I accepted long ago that there was so little content in these articles that if they were food I would have died of malnutrition long ago. After reading all these empty words, I came to a realization: if you get paid to write about “election news”, then you have to write something, even if there’s nothing there. So they write about nothing.

Let’s go back to the beginning, last November or October, and imagine a conversation between a journalist and his editor: Read the rest of this entry »

My thoughts about the Presidential election

January 29, 2008

In my opinion, the single most important issue in this election is the Supreme Court.  Justice Stevens, the oldest and most liberal member of the Court wants to retire.  I read that somewhere, years ago.  Unfortunately, if he retired during the Bush administration, he would get replaced by someone very, very far to the right of center.  To me, that is unacceptable.  The court is already leaning politically too far to the right.  If Stevens were replaced by another Alito or Roberts, I am 100% convinced that Roe v. Wade would be overturned.  I’m personally against abortions, because I love kids, but it’s not a decision that I or anyone else can make for everyone.  So for me, the election boils down to who will appoint liberal Supreme Court judges.  The three top Democratic candidates are centrist liberals.  The top Republican candidates are all anti-choice.  Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice, but he is not a top candidate, and everyone knows he’s a fascist and a serial adulterer, so we can safely ignore him.  This means that I will vote for a Democrat in November, regardless of any other issues, or any scandals that comes to light, because I feel it’s that important that the next Supreme Court Justice be a liberal.  (It’s not just the abortion issue, but that’s the easiest example.  I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve read my fair share of Supreme Court decisions, and I pay attention to the decisions made by the current court, and I almost always find that the conservative majority makes decisions that I consider to be wrong and bad for our country.)

So, having established that I will vote Democratic, even though I have no love for either party, who would I vote for in the primaries?  This issue is purely hypothetical: I live in Michigan, we already had a primary, in which only Clinton and Kucinich were on the ballot, and it doesn’t count anyway, so I skipped it because my daughter was sick.  But if I did have a say in it, here’s my take on the remaining candidates.  Read the rest of this entry »

Keepin’ it so real my face hurts!

January 23, 2008

Not much to say right now. Have been an utter failure so far at my New Year’s resolution of writing every day. I’ve written half the days this month so far. The problem is it’s easy not to write, but hard to write. At least to write well, as I try to.  A brief round up of my excuses: it’s too late, I’m too tired, I’m mad, I-worked-12-hours-then-came-home-and-made-dinner-then-gave-the girl-a-bath-I-don’t-have-to-write-too, my job killed my brain. Some of those I’ve used more than once.

I find it encouraging, though, that at this point I’m still thinking that I should write something. Once I forget that I’m supposed to be writing, then it’s over.  I’ll have fallen into the non-writing routine, rather than the writing one.

I’m very good with routines. Once I’m doing something on a regular basis, I can keep it up, but if I don’t have some regularity, I struggle. I don’t know what it’s like for other people (or normal people), but it’s very difficult for me to suddenly be creative in free time that happen to pop up here or there [now and then?].  More specifically, if the daughter happens to go to bed early one night, I can’t suddenly become Superwriter and bust out a post or a story or something before I fall asleep myself.  Or if one day I don’t have anything to do at work (like today), maybe I can get something done, but maybe my brain’s froze up and I can’t get anything done.  Either way I can’t rely on those windows of opportunity to open every day, let alone at the same time so I can be ready for them, and I can’t get into a nice, comfortable, productive routine.  But as long as I’m trying, then I still haven’t fallen into the non-writing routine.  (Just as comfortable, but not as productive.)

The only time I’ve really been productive as a writer –and let’s face it, if at 34 I ‘ve never had a period in my life when I actually wrote, then maybe I should stop and question the fact if I’m a writer at all or just a wannabe, right?– was in prison, when I was working as the clerk in an Automotive Vocational Training class.  It was good.  I’d come in in the morning, do my work before lunch, then after lunch I’d make myself write three pages (or rework ten if I was in editing mode).  I finished three drafts of a feature-length film script, and wrote hundreds of pages of legal briefs.  Then they released me, which I was very happy about, but since then (I think it’s been six years!) I’ve never been able to settle into a productive routine like I’d had in prison.

Ah well, fuck it.  It’s mostly vanity anyway.  I always liked books, and admired great authors, so I wanted to be one.  I won’t lose any sleep over it if I never get published.

Two things to add: I’ve never tried to get published, or to sell my movie script.  Probably should, I read all kinds of horrible crap that people got paid to write, and even if I’m not a great writer, I’m at least better than that.  But I’m afraid I have no head for nor patience with business, especially the business of selling myself.  The other  thing, I’ve had to awkwardly tap this away with the wrong fingers, as I have cuts on the ends of each of my index fingers.  Don’t ask.

A sick girl

January 14, 2008

My daughter has a fever, and her mom has an uncancellable substitute teaching gig, so I’ll be at home playing Nurse Daddy today.  I’m allowed five paid sick/personal days a year at work, and last year I only used  one and a half, so I have no problem staying home to watch her.  Poor girl, I hope she feels better today.  The sickness and fever started Saturday afternoon, and all day yesterday she was miserable.

It was an okay productive weekend.  I didn’t get to write as much as I should have, but the weather was nice, so I was able to work on my bridge.  Oh yeah, I’m building a bridge.  I’ll have to take a picture and write about it some day.

Initial thoughts on my new Asus U3S

January 9, 2008

The following was written elsewhere a few days ago, as an intro to a longer piece about putting Linux on my new laptop, but I decided it makes more sense here.

_________________________

On December 31, I ordered a new laptop from Newegg.com –the Asus U3S.  It arrived via UPS Friday the 4th, and I got to spend some time playing with it over the weekend.  Here are my initial thoughts:

Vista is slow.  Slower than XP, on a much faster machine.  I have XP on a Thinkpad X20 (600 MHz PIII, 192 MB RAM).  My new laptop, Susie (I think notebooks in general should have women’s names, like ships; if I’m going to have something sitting on my lap keeping me warm, I am not going to call it “Mike”)  has Vista Business installed and takes noticeably longer to boot up than my X20.  Okay, I can understand that, they both have 5400 RPM hard drives, and Vista does have much more stuff to load up, so it should take longer, but Damn!  Couldn’t anyone at Microsoft think about back-grounding some of that shit?
Even after the desktop appears, it’s unusable until all the other the little stuff in the system tray is ready.  Sorry, but I don’t think the Java Update utility should take priority and load before I can use the app of my choice.  You would think they could also compress some of their key dlls and whatnot that get loaded every single time into one blob, pull the compressed blob off the disk, then expand it.  This is why the Linux kernel is compressed –because it takes less time to load a compressed image and expand it than to load the uncompressed image off the slow disk.  Once everything is loaded into RAM (finally), Vista is pretty responsive, but it should be, considering Susie’s specs (2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo, 1.5 GB RAM).

Battery life is awesome.  Maybe “awesome” isn’t the right word… battery life is really good.  I haven’t timed it, but it’s long enough that I get tired of playing with a computer before it’s half done.  I can let my laptop go to sleep, come back in an hour or so and work some more.  I can’t imagine there will be very many occasions where I need to work unplugged for so long that the 6 cell battery that came with her won’t suffice.  Besides, to me having super long battery life is kind of like lifting weights –yeah, I suppose there’s some benefit to being really strong, but it’s very rare in my life that I come across something that I need to lift up that’s too heavy for me, so I can’t really justify the hours and hours (over months or years) spent lifting weights  in order to get stronger than I already am; likewise, having a bigger, longer-life battery doesn’t seem worth the extra weight and expense.  Other people’s needs surely vary, just as I’m sure some people need to be strong as bears, and lift boulders and tree trunks all day long.]

Fedora’s fonts are gorgeous!  I installed Fedora 8 on Susie the day after I bought her, dual-booting with Vista, and I was just blown away how good it looked.  I’m not a Fedora man –I tried Red Hat a long time ago, when I didn’t know much, and it was too hard for me.  I have nothing against it, and I’ll admit that it looked nice, but I’ve been using Debian-based distros for some time now (mostly Ubuntu for the last year) and after having some issues setting it up (it wouldn’t remember my network settings), I gave up and installed Ubuntu at around midnight.  I wanted to try Fedora first because I’d read a review that said that they’d done some good work lately in making it “just work” with newer laptops, but the network issue and having to figure out Yum were just a little too much trouble right now.  I don’t have the spare time to wrestle with configuration issues, I just want my system to be up and running.  As I already knew how to do that with Ubuntu, I used it.  But I am going to Google “fedora fonts” and figure out what their trick is.

Fingerprint readers are a nuisance.  I would rather have a scroll wheel or third button, or wider buttons.  I’m not used to touchpads, but Susie has a fingerprint reader right between her touchpad buttons.  But I suppose I’ll get used to it.  I haven’t tried to get this working in Linux yet.  The touchpad itself can act as a scroll wheel but it’s too sensitive for my taste.

The leather covering on the palm rests is really nice.  I thought it was dumb and gimmicky when I read about it before my purchase, but after trying it out, it feels really nice against my wrists, much better than plastic.

Second Thoughts:

Of course, after I bought it, one of the other notebooks I was considering, the Dell XPS M1330, went on sale, but whatever.  The Dell’s butt-ugly to me, although I know some people have raved about it, and I didn’t like it’s keyboard feel.  The Asus U3S is drop-dead gorgeous, and the keyboard is amazing.  I wanted power, lightweight, a 13.3″ screen and good battery life; I got what I wanted, so no regrets.

My new laptop

January 7, 2008

So I got to spend quite a bit of time with my new laptop this weekend.  I’m thinking about writing a review of it.  Not formally, just to share my experience and any issues I run into putting Linux on it.  I did write yesterday, I worked on something longer, but I didn’t make enough progress to consider it a successful writing day.

Here’s one thing that annoyed me about my laptop though– it doesn’t come with an optical drive, no cd or dvd, nothing, which I’m totally cool with, my last notebook didn’t have one either, and I didn’t miss it, I have a usb dvd drive for when I need one, but it DID come with Nero’s “InCD” and automatic updating/self loading stuff in the taskbar.  So I’m supposed to wait for this crap to load every time I turn on my machine, even though it usually doesn’t have any way to burn CDs?  I don’t think so… thankfully, Vista does make it easier to prevent unwanted programs from starting up automatically.

I haven’t tried the laptop’s built-in GPS yet.

A realization, and a new toy

January 6, 2008

In my last post, I wrote how I intended as a new year’s resolution to write every day, and in fact to make at least 1 blog entry every day (I meant here or on my main site, not both).  And now, a mere four days into the year, I missed a day.  Yeah, I wrote nothing January 4th.

Why not?  Well, I have a pretty busy life.  I’m an active parent, and my daughter is a handful to say the least.  I’m sure all 2-year-olds are, but I don’t have much experience with any others, so I’ll just speak about my own.  Magdalena is an incredible amount of work.  She demands near constant attention from me or her mother.

So yesterday, I went to work early, had to be there at 6 am, and I was out in the field the whole day, so I didn’t have a chance to sit at my work computer and type something on the sly.  I was out until 5pm, came home, cooked dinner, had to sit by Magda and coax her to eat for over an hour, then she wanted to play –her mother couldn’t play with her, she’d had the girl all day and had her own stuff she needed to do, that I will readily admit is more important than my ego-blogging, so I had the girl for a couple hours, then it was bedtime.

Magdalena co-sleeps with us, all in one bed, and sometimes she refuses to go to sleep unless we’re both there (often with me singing to her).  So she finally fell asleep at around 11, and I couldn’t get up.  I was exhausted.  I knew I only had a little bit of time to write a post, something, anything, in order to not break the chain, but I couldn’t do it.

It’s  now past midnight, but I’m gonna count this as Saturday’s post.

The other thing, I got a new toy, an asus u3s!  It’s way nicer of a notebook than I deserve, but after buying my girlfriend a laptop for Christmas, I got so jealous.  I wanted one.  I’ve wanted a new laptop for years, and finally I convinced myself to just do it.  I couldn’t find a decent cheap one that met the specs that I wanted, so I bought a nice one.

I plan on putting linux on it, too, of course, but I’m going to keep windows for some things.  It came with Vista Business, which I’d heard of but never seen before.  Nice looking, but awful slow.  It came via UPS yesterday but I barely had a chance to open the box and turn it on.


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