Sunday, December 30, 2007

Here Comes 2008 and Some Changes

You might have noticed that I've been monkeying with the Snabulus logo and such. The tinkering will continue until it all looks right with a new look. However, I must admit that a little more than 5 years later I am feeling the ennui (French for boredom) when it comes to blogging.

I am starting to feel more content visiting the folks in the blog roll and making comments than coming up with material here. The funny part is that I am not sure exactly why this should be. Chalk it up to an amalgam of several factors including plain boredom, other goals starting to take precedence, and more complex emanations that would take too long to explain.

To summarize the last 5 years of blogging, there are 3 types of writing which have dominated the site.

  1. The Early Years - Lots of politics and activist writing. These pieces resulted in lots of comments, little in the way of changing minds, but a lot in the way of straining friendships. Interestingly, new readers were not much to be found during this time. My friends span a great number of points of view and while I feel the need to vent publicly sometimes, I try to spend more time pondering the fact that all these folks are bright people and have their reasons for their viewpoint.
  2. The Travel and Living Log Entries - These were the most fun to write and it seemed the most fun to read. The comment count fell a bit, but the feeling of fellowship actually grew as did the number of new readers from outside the pre-Internets Snabby circle. Other family members joined the scene and the satisfaction level was higher for me. These became harder to produce primarily due to two factors. First, we've written about all of our traditional activities already (Oregon Country Fair, Oktoberfest, Verboort Sausage Festival, etc.) and, while we enjoy recreating tradition, we don't see the need to rehash it other than to allow others the chance to share the fun by attending the events themselves. Second, our digital cameras are either deteriorating or lost. We lose that proverbial thousand words for every picture we can't post. We will fix that when we can but, for now, Kaputski!
  3. The "General Entertainment" entries - These entries include the personality quizzes including such gems as: Which cast member from All in the Family are You? What Underarm Deodorant are You? and the always popular Which Serial Murderer are You (ok, these are all fakes, but I wanted to have fun!)? They are great for blogs because they create content when your muse is out back smoking a cigarette and are entertaining to comment about. There was also Kool-Aid blogging, the Snabulus Caption Contest, and other comments on entertainment and pop culture. Some of these were quite popular; others not so much.
While these 3 kinds of blogging have been fun, I feel like those forms have run their course for me. My alternate blogging search has not gone well. MySpace held my attention for about a week and FaceBook for about a day. FaceBook also requires your real name (which I did not give) and they basically collect demographic information which they database and share with their business partners and with other FaceBook users including items you buy offsite (talk about spyware!). No, if I wanted Soviet living, I would have moved there before the walls fell and were then replaced with mob crime. I was hoping other blog software could fill the void of how I wanted to present information, but most are the same as their competitors with only minor difference.

So writing a different kind of blog software might be in my plans. I say "might" because I have a number of other crazy programming ideas I am working on, so this one may get backburnered or not depending on my personal whim. After reading Stephen Colbert's I Am America (and So Can You), I realized that one column writing is not the only method for blogging. Maybe there are other things that can happen like writing smartass comments in the margins so you aren't confusing the reader with parentheses, etc.. So I am going to start looking at how to play with web pages in the same way that Meebo.com can make a web page act as an Instant Messenger to maybe make blogging a bit more free-form. Maybe something will come of it; maybe not. If
my wackiness catches on, I may use Snabulus.com as a delivery vehicle and it will be more of a commercial site (except without the annoying kinds of advertising: I hate that). If that happens, I want to be sure I have a KickAss logo so the experimentation there is likely to continue.

Anyhoo, I am not sure where I wanted to go with this, but I guess the bottom line is that I might be blogging a bit less for a while. Moody, Ladybug, and InfoGeek are sure invited to fill in as desired, but they all have lives (and sometimes other blogs) as well. If my blogging software actually goes anywhere, I may ask for beta-testers. If you want to get burned repeatedly by cranky software, I say GO FOR IT and reply in the affirmative.

Above all, may your 2008 allow you to attain your goals, cope with this tumultuous world and its tempestuous economy. May we all treat each other better and with more respect, try to walk in the shoes of those who are oppressed and less fortunate, and may tenderness and gestures of goodwill triumph over zeal and callousness in the coming year.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ye Old Xmas Tagge-Part Deux!

Now that Snabby & Swinebread have shown their "true colors" for Xmas, I'll do the same!

So to answer Moody's 20 questions:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate!
2. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree? Both!
3. Colored or white lights? Colored!
4. Do you hang mistletoe? If I get around to it.....
5. When do you put your decorations up? Anytime between Thanksgiving and Xmas Eve.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Green Bean Salad
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Gee, I don't have a particular one...
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't even remember!
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No. I open most gifts on Christmas Eve.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? With ornaments we've collected over the years, and some hand made ones.
11. Snow: Love it or hate it? Depends, if I don't have to drive in it-great!
12. Can you ice skate? Technically yes, I don't fall down. But have only done it maybe 3-4 times in my life.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Every year I have a favorite gift!
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Spending time with friends and family, because that's the only time everybody has off...at the same time!
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Buche de Noel
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Listening to the Cinnamon Bear episodes and fixing all the traditional foods from our various ancestral heritages!
17. What is on top of your tree? The Silver Star!
18. Which do you like best giving or receiving? Both!
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls & The Revel's "Lord of the Dance"
20. Do you like candy canes? For looks only, they are highly over-rated as a candy treat.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ye Olde Christmas Tagge

The Moody Minstrel tagged me to answer 20 questions about my Christmas opinions. Here they are:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? No. Wassail.
2. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree? No. See Question 8.
3. Colored or white lights? Both
4. Do you hang mistletoe? If I want to.
5. When do you put your decorations up? All year. We decorate for all seasons.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Ladybug
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Putting up the lights, watching the lights, eating the lights, and the nice nurses working at the hospital on Christmas day (the last 2 are lies)
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? SantaTruth.org or it just got totally obvious...not sure which.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No. I open most gifts on Christmas Eve.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? With my hands.
11. Snow: Love it or hate it?
No
12. Can you ice skate? Can you?
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Yes
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Trying to spread the word that generosity works better for 12 months than just one and that people suffer in July just as harshly as in December.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Krumkake
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Being with family
17. What is on top of your tree? The entire universe.
18. Which do you like best giving or receiving? I like run-on sentences the best.
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Not sure, but Dona Nobis Pacem and Silent Night are near the top.
20. Do you like candy canes? For what purpose?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Instant Band, Instant CD

Responding to a tag, Olivia posted an interesting meme on her blog. Basically it involves generating the name of your band, the title of your CD, and the name of all 15 tracks therein using the "random article" feature of Wikipedia. I thought it sounded like fun, so I decided to give it a try.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Moody Minstrel's alter ego band:

George Forell

(Kind of like Jethro Tull, only different.)
Our first LP release is called:

Texas State Highway 320


The track list is as follows:
1 - Endurance
2 - Cec Pepper
3 - Teluk Panglima Garang
4 - Leudelange
5 - The Ship
6 - Persian Dialects
7 - Black and Greene
8 - Drill
9 - Oscar Redding
10 - Western Region, Nigeria
11 - Byavatnet
12 - Yeoman
13 - Terminalia Pellucida
14 - Ministry of Defence
15 - Vom Rath

Hmm...you think any of these titles show any promise?
Okay, what sort of random Wiki bands and CDs can you guys come up with?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Turn that Frown Upside Down

The last post was a quite serious post and the blog could use a bit of counterbalance.

I ain't got much, but here goes...

I wanted to help my dad out today (he is in the last stages of moving), but I had too many things going on and next weekend we are gone camping (in a heated yurt) and the weekend after that we are getting ready for family to converge for our Norwegian Christmas Fest(ivus). Things had to get done this weekend or wait for 2008.

So I did the usual 4 loads of laundry and the MiniSnab and I prepared the Saturn* for Christmas tree retrieval. We went to the Reichen tree farm (no, not the 3rd Reichen) and picked out a nice Noble Fir. Just about every Christmas tree sold in America is native to Oregon (as well as actually grown in Oregon), but I like the Noble. Having said that, we usually change species every year; go figure.

We got out our bargain basement table saw out right as one of the Reichens walked up with a chainsaw. He proceeded to slay me and the MiniSnab to feed to his zombies. He saved us getting muddy and lots of effort by cutting our tree down in about 10 seconds. Nice. He jammed the tree into the Saturn*, we gave him some moolah ($) and headed home.

MiniSnab headed off to a babysitting gig and we had a tree propped up in a bucket of water. We had a problem too...where do we put the tree? At first we were going to dismantle a bookshelf and move a couch, but no, too much. We decided to leave the couch and move Ladybug's computer/office desk (w/ print server and scanner) across the living room instead because it was less wide and deep and allowed us to keep the bookshelf. However, we still had (actually still have) one big problem...horrible 40 year old electrical outlets.

The deal with these outlets is that they can't seem to hold a plug anymore. The little things just fall out. The whole dang house is like this. Well, Snabulus.com is on two of these plugs (yep, a server out of my house) and so Ladybug's puter would be. I had three new outlets in the garage and today some upgrades had to be done. Luckily, my meager electrical knowledge allowed me to change out 3 outlets without tazing myself. Viva la difference! I need to kick the gals out on some Saturday and change them all out. 2008, mon oncle, 2008.

Where was I. Oh yes. Electricity. Powerful good stuff, but it is best that we conserve it. Unfortunately, I loves me some Christmas lights. I enjoy all the ways people come up with ways to celebrate using lights. We are no exception. I put up our outside lights a week or so after Thanksgiving and tonight I put the lights on the tree. Our eclectic nature is evident in our display. We use 5 different styles of lights in our yard and as many on our tree. Old-time big C-9 bulbs, smaller C-7 bulbs, minilights, frosted globes, satin globes, bubbling oil lights.

It all stems from my Dad's Christmas collection. He has a variable transformer he ran at 50-70 volts. This allowed his lights to last decades. His light stings look nothing like current strings. Talk about lights. He still has bulbs in the shape of a Rose and an Orange (always reminded me of football bowls), candy canes, Santa faces and THEY ALL STILL WORK (afaik). For this reason, I like variety.

We also joined some good friends this evening for a Christmas dinner and celebration at the local Mormon Church. While we are firmly on the path to damnation, we sure appreciated the opportunity to spend some time with some great people and hear the local high school choir belt out a few Christmas songs. I think Baby Jesus approves.



More happened that isn't worth going into, but it was a pretty full day and I wasn't apprehended without due cause even once. Hopefully that keeps happening.



* The Saturn was totalled a few months ago and has never been the stellar Saturn vehicle I traded in once upon a time; in short, it is a lemon. It has been totalled in an accident (my first faulted accident in 25+ yrs of driving) and requires a bit of TLC to keep it going. Luckily the tree gathering went without incident.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Democrats, Republicans Merge in One Fascist Party

(Political Post alert! I've tried to avoid it, but I've got a stick in my craw. Feel free to ignore it if you wish. At least the target isn't Bush, only Republicans, or our foreign policy this time.)

I've got a fair number of progressive, liberal opinions and a few conservative ideas as well. When I hear about the bills going through Congress right now, I don't want any part of either party.

I've spent years deriding the Bush Administration and Republicans in general for their post 9-11 feeding frenzy on the Constitution. Now the Democrats are in power and they are joining in on the orgy of Constitutional degradation and this steady accelerated march towards a police state.


Part I - Patriot Act Lite (or Darke as I see it)
H.R. 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (Passed by the House 404-6)


Sponsored by DEMOCRAT Jane Harman

First of all, I would appreciate it if our government didn't lift words directly off of Nazi Germany's steno pads. Homegrown and Homeland were the types of words coined by Nazis who wanted to define who was "us" (Aryans) and "them" (Jews, Catholics [except the current Pope], Gays, trade unionists, gypsies, etc.).

Let's looks at how a homegrown terrorist is defined...

`(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.

`(3) HOMEGROWN TERRORISM- The term `homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

`(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.


Have you ever thought, "If one more of them Bible thumpers knocks on my door, I am going to kill the whole lot of them."?

You didn't really mean it, but it slipped out and your kid repeats what you said at school. You are a domestic terrorist. Oops. I mean "homegrown" like that skunky marijuana the kid down the street grew in the puckerbrush. Or maybe Homegrown like the nice, blonde folks Riefenstahl filmed in the 30s for the Nazi party. You just don't know how they are going to decide based on such an open-ended definition.

Why is it that a loan agreement is so iron-clad but a damn terrorism definition is so loosy-goosy. It makes me want to just...oh, better not to say anything.

Luckily they are forming a money pit called a Center for Excellence, so we are assured nothing of the kind will come of it. Their dinner parties should be quite the thing, dahling.

Part II - The SAFE Act [Stupid Asinine Fascist Excretia]
Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act, or SAFE Act
Sponsored by DEMOCRAT Rep. Nicholas Lampson
(Passed by the House 409-2)


Read more about this bill here.

The gist of this bill is that all those who provide public Wi-Fi service must record and keep a log of all Internet traffic indefinitely. The stated reason is fighting those bad, bad child pornographers, but we already know that the bad guys are always a step ahead. Meanwhile, all that data is available for any reason and you can be sure that Wi-Fi providers will sell it to whomever wants to pay cash to recoup their equipment costs. Just like with EZ-Pass toll records on the East Coast, these records can and will be used against regular people in a court of law.

Theoretically, it is only for certain kinds of pictures, but how is Starbucks going to know where all the child porn on the Internet is? Answer: they are not so they must record all of it to avoid the $300,000 fine for non-compliance. Not a single Democrat voted against this.

Seems like a good time for that old Merle Haggard quote:

"Look at the past 25 years we went downhill, and if people don't realize it, they don't have their f**king eyes on ... In 1960, when I came out of prison as an ex-convict, I had more freedom under parolee supervision than there's available to an average citizen in America right now... God almighty, what have we done to each other?"


The Presidential candidate to vote against both pieces of crap was REPUBLICAN Ron Paul. Good for him.

For those who think I am overreacting, why not check out this video at Floating Down Denial. We've seen these tunes played before.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Aftermath

For us there was very little aftermath from the tropical deluge; just a reminder that it is smart to clean the gutters periodically. Our power didn't go out and we weren't forced from our homes. Others weren't so lucky...



Overall, for the vast majority, things could have been much worse. However, several hundred were flooded out of their homes and a few died. This storm has left its mark. Today was actually mild, dry, and fair. The waters should recede quickly and we will move on.

The award for overreaction goes to KOIN tv, who called this the Storm of the Century. They must have a lot of faith in the rest of the century. In 1996, we had this kind of rain off and on for a month and it kept raining after that too. They had to sandbag downtown Portland. The flooding covered the large swaths rather than the usual localized floodplains. This was nothing like that.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

From the Phillipines with Love

Update 3:Mon @ 10:32am: Things seem calmer and the sky is getting lighter. There is a lot of standing water and one stream I passed on the way to work is within a couple feet of coming over the bridge. According to the weather service, we've received about 4 inches (10cm) of rain which is a lot, but certainly not unprecedented. Lee's Camp about 40 miles (65km) away received over a foot of rain (30cm) in the last 24 hours (1440min). Now that is wet. The wind wasn't bad here, but it was intense along the coast with gusts in the 125mph range.End of Update 3

Update 2:Mon @ 6am: Now it is storming out there pretty hard. Apparently there are widespread power outages and downed trees along the Coast, so storm 2 is the Real McCoy.End of Update 2

Update: Well, storm 1 of 2 is through and it did some damage on the Oregon coast but not much inland other than plenty o' rain. At 9pm Sunday, storm 2 of 2 is getting close and it is already spicier than storm 1 was (not sure which storm belonged to which typhoon). The temperature is still in the mid-40s (about 7-9 deg Celsius), so the word tropical is a non-starter in this case. In fact, storm 1 dumped a foot or more of snow in the mountains, so it wasn't the Pineapple Express-type storm we were promised. Storm 2 could be another matter. If I have power in the morning, I will post more. End of Update

Once upon a time, there were two typhoons names Mitag and Hagibis that lived in southeast Asia. Here they are:



These storms killed several people in the Phillipines and Viet Nam.

They got bored there and moved eastward across the Pacific Ocean. Even though they hit colder air and colder water, they kept moving. After several days, they moved across the entire Pacific Ocean.

While they aren't nearly as strong now, they are expected to hit Oregon in the next day with a one-two punch the Oregonian calls a monster storm...or at least they did until they backed down. Here is a look at the storms coming in:



Nonetheless, Bill Schneider describes the situation on Stu Tomlinson's Weather Blog (Tomlinson is a long-time writer for the Oregonian):

Bill Schneider, science and operations, NWS explains:

The directive that gave offices the authority to issue a "Hurricane Force Wind Warning" in the marine forecast was issued May 21, 2002. In the five years since then, none has been issued along the West Coast of the lower 48 United States. The purpose here is to highlight the extreme nature of rare storms that may only occur once every 5 to 10 years.

These storms are "extra tropical cyclones", meaning they don't have the structure of a hurricane, and should not be confused with an actual hurricane (we won't give them names or anything like that). Storms like this approaching the West Coast are normally much larger in areal extent than a typical hurricane and have much broader impact zone where damaging winds can occur.

The current threat appears to be mostly to the water and the immediate coastline. We noticed Thursday that moisture from three separate tropical cyclones will likely be drawn into this one large storm over he next several days. This is storm has the potential to damage ships or cargo and will be difficult to avoid due to the huge area it will cover.


So, it looks like the coast is expecting 100+ mph gusts and high sustained winds while the Portland area will get 50+ mpg gusts. We had a storm that bad last year but it only lasted a few hours. This one is supposed to go on for 2 or 3 days and dumpea few inches of rain.

Of course, we were supposed to get some significant snow today and that never materialized. Hard to say. We will let you know later what really happened.