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Showing posts from 2008

Googlecash, Googlekits and 10minutemail

I've discovered the latest scam doing the rounds. Googlecash or Googlekits claim thousands of dollars for zero investment. You know the type. So I registered a temporary email with http://10minutemail.com (bloody useful service!) and went through the machinations of getting my "free" kit using the temporary email account and fake names and addresses. After being redirected through three sites which all wanted an increasing amount of personal information, it came down to a "secure" payment for $1 for the kit.
It's basically a dollar-a-click advertising scam.
As an aside, my 10minutemail account did accumulate 12 pieces of spam in the 10 minutes it was active, so that's something I suppose.

9525 vertical feet.

Solitude was busy today - probably because the sun came out and all the fair-weather skiers decided to clog up the roads. Apart from one particularly bizarre turn where I strained a neck muscle, skiing was good today.

Another big snow day

We easily had another foot of snow down here on the benches last night. I just spent an hour with shovels and snowblowers clearing a path so we could get cars out of the drive. That's about as much snow in a single drop as we've seen since we've been living here. Good news is the resorts had upwards of 2 feet. Bad news - all the canyons are closed because of avalanches.
More good news : all the arsing around with the snow cleats was worthwhile - the snow is avalanching off the roof just as it has done for the previous 5 years.

Lessons in snow cleats.

Part 1: Do not use snow cleats if you have insulation issues in your attic.

I thought I'd be efficient and clever this year, so I fitted three rows of snow cleats to the roof overlooking the drive. The idea was to prevent the snow from avalanching off into the drive. Being a metal roof, it does that.
So following the first big snowfall, we went out and marvelled at how the snow was nicely staying on the roof.
And then last night we marvelled at the sheer size of the ice dam that had formed because of the snow cleats. So last night I spent two hours up a ladder hacking the ice dam off the roof and taking out the first row of cleats. Today, because of the warm weather, I went up the ladder again and removed the second two rows of cleats.
I'd rather live with having to clear the driveway of snow five times a day than having water running through the roof and ice destroying the shingles.

Oh - and Merry Christmas.

9230 vertical feet.

First chance for me to ski this season, and I did 9230 vertical feet. It was bloody exhausting. Two more of the base lifts have been swapped for high speed detachable quads so my R&R time on the lifts has been substantially reduced. Either way it was a lot of fun although a lot of the high gates like Powderhorn were still not open. Onwards and upwards :-)

8 inches later.

After clearing the snow from the drive and paths twice last night, I had to do it again this morning. We had about 8 inches out of that storm front, but it's quiet at the moment. We had a huge power bump last night, so thinking what happened three years ago, I went out and bought a Mr Heater portable propane heater this morning in case we suddenly find ourselves needing emergency heat. I did the "pick up in store" thing at Lowe's again. This time, unlike when I had the misfortune of interacting with the double-E sisters back in 2003, it went super smooth. The item was there with my name on it at 9am.

The snowman cometh.

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I set my webcam to 15 second interval just before lunch to catch the cold front and ensuing snow storm. This is what it saw. You can actually see the cold front swirling in front of the storm front at it moves over they valley. How cool is that?




This is what it looks like from a driver's point of view, hence my point about snow tyres yesterday:



And the new colour is....

For the longest time, the walls in our office hallways have been this odd, off-colour, frothy cappuccino whitey-brown colour. I'd assumed that this was because they've not been painted any time in the last 18 years, and so the original vibrant colour had faded somewhat.
So it was with great personal enjoyment that I saw the paint crew setting up last night to finally freshen the place up.
Except when I got in this morning, the new paint is the same odd, off-colour, frothy cappuccino whitey-brown colour. It doesn't look any different.

WTF?

Snow tyres

So I've caved in this year and bought snow tyres for the Element. What a difference. I got a chance to try them out this morning and they're just amazing on the fresh snow / slush that was on the roads. I'm a total convert now :-)

Great t-shirt slogan of the day.

Seen on a truck driver at the loading dock this morning :

Try to look unimportant, they may be low on ammo.

Let it snow...

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Snow for the morning commute. Gotta love it. Although this morning was brilliant. I turned out on to 21st south and there was zero traffic. Nothing coming towards me, nothing going my way. In fact I didn't see another car until I got almost all the way to the office. That's great! It means I can drive in the snow (which I love) without worrying about all the other idiots.

A brief interlude

Good news: it finally snowed. Saturday morning was starting to look like more weathergirl BS until about 10am then it unloaded on us. We got about 6 inches where we live. Saturday night to sunday morning we got another 3 inches or so, followed by a warm, sunny 1°C afternoon. The temps have dropped again now - it's about -5°C today and we're in a pause before the next round. This means sunday this week will be my first ski day of the season :)

Huntin', shootin' and fishin'

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Only without the hunting and fishing part. Mike and I went out to the west desert today for some shooting, or as he put it, "to get rid of old ammo". We shot 20-gauge and 12-gauge shotguns, .45 and .22 handguns and an AK-47 just for good measure. It was loud, and fun, and we went through probably $100 in ammo or more. The whole load of photos is here : Fun with guns.

Classic "idiot with guns" pose:



Oh - and I swear the Colt 45 photo below is not photoshopped - Mike caught the expelled cartridge and the puff of dust on the ground:



Arty-farty shot of spent shotgun shells:

Hunker down

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Batten down the hatches, top up the antifreeze, get the icemelt ready, bring the logs in to the dry and check the snowblower. Winter is upon us. A four day monster snowmaker is on the way, starting friday night through to tuesday. Weather advisories put us at over 6 inches of snow in the valley by saturday night alone.

Ultra-cheap petrol

For those of you reading in England, sorry to tell you this but I just paid the equivalent of 29p / litre for a tank of petrol. That's with the conversion from US gallons as well as the weak pound.

For those of us in America, the UK is currently paying about $5.50 a gallon even with the depressed price of oil. (Although it was up around $14 a gallon this summer due to the stronger pound and the wholesale raping of the motoring public over there).

This is nearly as cheap as it's been since we've lived here. The first tank of petrol I put in the Subaru in 2001 was priced at $1.49 / gallon. Today I paid $1.63.

What a difference a day makes.

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I guess I spoke too soon. We're heading for 7 inches of snow in the valley today...

Funny? Yes.

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We saw this a few weeks ago at a book store in Portland. I thought it was so funny it was worth a cellphone shot. I particularly like the plastic fish and plastic loaves of bread.
Also I'm not even faintly religious but even I don't recall the bit where Jeebus' hands glowed...

Awful snow season.

I flew back home tonight and coming over the mountains there's just no snow. Well there's a trace, but nothing you could really call snow. The 10 day forecast just shows dry dry dry. We've lived here since 2001 and I've never seen it reach December without snow in the valley. Looks like my ski season pass might not get much if any use if this keeps up :(

Ah the joys of Margaritaville

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..and a good balloon artist. We went to Margaritavill tonight after a long day on the booth. My nickname is 'clickmonkey' so the guys asked one of the balloon artists if he could whip up a balloon monkey. Sure enough....

Best T-shirt slogan of the week

Seen on one of the rigger's shirts today:
It's all fun and games until somebody loses and eye, then it's freakin' hilarious.

Nearly there.

Two long days down, half a day to go. Setup is nearly done. All the equipment is working, all the demos are working, all the booth graphics are up. Now if only the cheapskates at the convention centre would turn on the air conditioning....

Windows really does suck.

For the longest time, my corporate laptop has always thrashed its hard drive. Even when supposedly idle, the hard drive is just constantly going. I finally got to the bottom of it - some process in XP called "ccmexec" was constantly accessing the drive. I killed the service, and for the first time ever, my laptop has actually gone quiet.
And it's sped up. Without that thing constantly nailing the hard drive, everything else has become quicker.

Not bad for the day after Thanksgiving travel.

Apart from the 6am start this morning, the trip to Orlando wasn't too bad. We had a plane go tech at Dallas so we were delayed an hour while they changed gates and found us a new plane. The second plane had an FMS failure which took them another hour to fix but then we were on the way. Even with the delay and the change of plane, American got my luggage here in one piece.
I wonder how those poor fools who travelled on Delta fared? My guess: out shopping for wash kits and clothes right now :-)

Closure on the old Triumph problem.

I had a call from Triumph corporate today with the final word on the old bike.
They found a bent clutch pull/pusher and an out of spec pressure plate at the top of the stack. Not by much, but enough to cause the symptoms that I, the dealer and Triumph corporate's techs were all experiencing.

This casts all new light on my dealer. 6 weeks into the original debacle, they claimed to have taken the clutch apart and changed all the pressure plates. The fact that Triumph corporate found an plate out-of-spec and a bent clutch lifter would seem to suggest to me that BMW Of Salt Lake lied about that too, and never even bothered taking the bike apart at all.

It's nice to be vindicated right back to the point where I took the bike in the first time around and told them it was a clutch problem. I have renewed faith in my own diagnostic capabilities, and I've also finally been proven right to have protested them dismantling the transmission with the engine out of the frame.

So 17 weeks of …

Bzzzzzzzzz

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From our trip to Portland last weekend - at the science museum, Paula learns about Van Der Graaf generators. Frankly I think this should be her profile picture on Facebook.....

The sweet sweet taste of revenge.

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On the way back up 21st south tonight, some dickhead in a matt black VW Golf cut me off pretty badly, even for a Utahn. The old left-indicator-but-turning-right trick. Only once he'd got in to the right hand lane, he decided he actually really did want to be in the left lane after all and came back across the front of me a second time, this time with his right-hand indicator on. Fortunately, on the way down 21st south I noticed the rozzers were out on the tug. So when we got to the lights at 15th east, I gunned the engine. Now bear in mind I drive a 2-ton Honda Element that wheezes it's way to 60mph in a frankly hideous 12 seconds. So I was clearly never going anywhere, but matt-black VW fell for it (sucker!) and took off when the lights went green, right into the waiting radar beam of the police car parked at Highland High. The rest, as they say, is a nice hot cup of "fuck you".

The real question.

This is the question that should have been asked to the CEOs of the big three car manufacturers who flew to Washington in their business jets to plead poverty:

"I assume you all drove here in the products of your respective companies?"

Must try harder

It's been brought to my attention that I've been slacking off on the blog recently, with the notable exception of the Abbey Clancy picture (mmmmm). I'll try to keep it more up to date.
Having said that, we've just come back from a weekend away in Portland. Nice city. Lots of panhandlers, great public transport and a really great science museum. The submarine tour was particularly entertaining.

Oh and the world's biggest independent book store - Powell's. That place is frickin' huge. One city block, four floors deep.
The individual sections are massive, and attract the stereotypes you'd expect. For example in the Tolkien section there were two 400lb behemoths, sweating it out with lank greasy hair and badly-fitting t-shirts, arguing about something to do with Mordor. The political section was full of very thin people with Latt├Ęs and thin-rimmed glasses all carrying iBooks. The mapping section was full of dusty, beardy people either coming from or about to l…

Things that bring a smile to your face.

In my case, simple things. Like the XM-Sirius merger means I can now get BBC Radio 1 on my XM Radio.

Let's hear it for my favourite WAG

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The lovely Abbey Clancy...

Cat vs Box.

Made me laugh.

It's so broken it's funny.

I am of course referring to England.
The UK office is a case in point. The door buzzer downstairs broke on monday, and hasn't been fixed, meaning the outermost locked door is now propped permanently open. At the onset of cold weather, the heating system broke down. It stayed broken for so long they had to buy electric oil-filled radiators. When they plugged those in, the electrical system broke down and blacked out the building. Now the heating has been fixed, the air conditioning has broken down.
It could be a comedy, but it isn't. It's just the way things are in England. The country is just broken.
I'm glad to be leaving on sunday to go home.

Pimp my pushback tug.

Being in the commercial aviation business, I thought this was nerdy and funny...

When did plastic bags become the Great Evil?

The way the girl in the supermarket looked at me last night when I asked for a plastic bag made me wonder if I'd accidentally raped her and cut her children's heads off or something.
"You want a plastic bag?"
"Yes"
"Why?"
"Umm. To carry my shopping in...?"
"Don't you have your own?"
"Umm. Does it look like I have my own? Would I be asking for one if I had my own?"
"Oh. Well I suppose..."

Snidey little bitch.

Gobama.

The good news: Obama won the election.
The bad news: the democrats have a majority in the house and senate now. This means that no matter what good comes of this, everything that goes wrong can now be blamed on the democrats because they have nobody else to blame.
I can see the republicans just lining up for 4 years of the blame game now.

Taxation without representation.

You'd think being a taxpayer, I'd be allowed to vote in the election, but sadly not. I'd have to be a citizen.
Oh well - we're hours away from knowing whether we stand a chance in the next 4 years, or whether we're going to hell in a handbasket.

Go Obama.

An uneventful trip

I was as surprised as anyone yesterday to reach my in-laws house with my luggage, having arrived at the correct airport, and having not had the rental car explode / crash / disintegrate.
This is probably the least eventful trip I've had for a long time, and the half-awake idiot at the Hertz desk was actually unusually helpful.

Rained out :(

Poo.
It was shaping up to be a great halloween - kids screaming, parents laughing, then it started raining and that was the end of that. The gag was great too - plenty of houses doing scares. We had four people doing the scare at our place, and when we were thick with kids, it worked brilliantly. The hispanics, especially, seem extremely easy to get a scream out of.
Bill wore the wire suit from last year. Matt & Kim were psycho clowns, and I was the clown from the SAW films. We had three fake bodies on chairs along the front path, and I was the fourth. In twilight and after dark, people couldn't tell which, if any, were real, so when I jumped up, I got a good scare.
But then it thinned out, and started raining, and that was all she wrote :(

Halloween is coming. Time for a scarin'

Halloween this year is going to be bloody brilliant. I've got stuff planned for the big scare that's better than anything we've done before. Plus five of the neighbours are doing big gags this year too. So if you're in Salt Lake City, get your kids down to 1800th East between 2100 and 2200 south this year. You won't be disappointed.
Muwahahahahahahahahaaaa......

Halloween kitties

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Creepy....

For those still on the fence about the election.

Some points to note about John McCain:

He finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class.
He left his first wife after a severe disfiguring car accident, when she no longer measured up to his standards.
He met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married.
His second wife is not only addicted to pain killers but also acquires them illegally through her charitable
organization.
He was a member of the Keating Five? (the five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s)
He can't read from a teleprompter?
He has military experience but it includes discipline problems, a record of crashing seven planes, and a refusal to be granted a command position because of his temper.
He is known to display publicly, on many occasions, that same serious anger management problem.

We don't need no thought control.

Great remix of Floyd's classic, and a great video. Sure I'm 18 months late, but what the hell. Enjoy:

Greed, or no greed?

I've become a bit partial to Deal or No Deal in the last few months and never ceases to amaze me how greedy people are. Last night for example. $1, and 2 $1,000,000 cases left in play, and with an offer of $690,000, the guy turned it down. He eventually left with $1.
I'm sure it's very different if you're up on stage playing the actual game, but $690,000 and no deal? WTF?

The "convenience" fee.

We received our annual property tax bill yesterday. I was going to pay it online but I noticed the small print: A 2.5% convenience fee charged for credit card payments.
Doesn't seem very convenient to me.
So let me get this straight. To save them the time and expense of processing a cheque, the associated paperwork, the postage-paid envelope and the cheque cashing fee, I have to pay them even more? Seems to me that should be a 2.5% discount for paying with a credit card.
Ho hum. A cheque it is then.

No way.

I can't believe this. My old drinking partner from University has tracked me down and got in touch via social networking site. Unbelievable. Christ I hope he replies to my email. I'd love to get in touch with him again.

Bodyworlds. Makes you think.

Paula and I went to the Bodyworlds exhibition at the Leonardo this morning. Creepy to think all those people were once living, breathing, you-and-me's. Amazing exhibition, and really thought-provoking. Especially the examples of various diseases and afflictions, and what they look like inside you.

A quick 300 miles to Bear Lake and back.

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To celebrate what is most likely the last decent riding weekend of the year, Mike, Dwayne and I went for a day-long ride over East Canyon, to Trapper's Loop, over Monte Christo and up to Bear Lake today. Fantastic weather, great riding, and me finally back on a motorbike after Accolade / BMW Of Salt Lake's miserable excuse for service that robbed me of my ride all summer.

Portal Prelude. Bugger me that's hard.

I've just finished the free mod for Valve's "Portal" game - Portal Prelude. Great mod - new rooms, new graphics, new voices and music, but bugger me with a splintered barge pole - it's hard!
The ending is a bit of a cop out - like they couldn't figure out how to finish it, but other than that, if you're a fan of Portal, Portal Prelude is a nice (and free) addition.

...and in other news...

The stock market had a temporary rebound today to the tune of over 900 points. Everyone is celebrating and patting themselves on the back, proving they've not learned anything. My guess? Tomorrow, the downward spiral will continue.

The most unpopular president ever.

Bingo! Bush is now the most unpopular president this country has ever had. Now that's awesome news. Sadly it still means 23% of the country aren't paying attention though.

Bush most unpopular president ever

Dell mini

We finally replaced our ageing Dell laptop with one of these new Dell Minis. Boy is it small. It's as wide as the span from my thumb to my little finger, and the keyboard is so small that typing on it involves a lot of use of the backspace key. It's teenie tiny small. Fact of the matter though is that it's faster than the old C600 that we had - about ten times faster. Plus it has a solid-state hard drive too which is sort of neat.

England is truly broken.

People wonder why we moved out of England. This is a clear example of why - it's because England is well and truly broken.

A rail company's dipshit employees deliberately put an old lady on the wrong train, where she's told to pony up £ for a penalty fare because she had the 'wrong' ticket. A good samaritan fellow passenger decided to take up a collection to cover her penalty and was promptly threatened with arrest for begging.

What makes this even worse is that this was Virgin Trains.

Why the fuck does anyone still live in England?

England is broken

First snow of the season.

Nice. A couple of inches of snow on the valley floor this morning, means a foot or more up in the mountains. That's a good start to the season. It'll melt and waterlog the soil so when the winter snow comes, it won't soak in or melt off. I wouldn't be surprised if we have power outages today though - all the trees are still in full leaf so the branches are all heavily laden down with snow. I suspect there will be more than a couple that shed branches on to power lines.

What to do ?

Okay I understand that the stock market dive equates to 'paper loss' for us - we don't need to remortgage the house, we're not retiring soon. But even so it's still disconcerting to see so much value go down the toilet. I know we need a big financial adjustment, and this is it, but even so...

What I don't agree with is why I, a law-abiding taxpayer, with very little debt other than the house, am being punished for the idiocy of corporate greed and people with bad credit. Why should I pay higher taxes to bailout the losers who have defaulted on their mortgages? Our neighbour works with a 21-year-old who has a $500,000 mortgage on a 6000 sq. foot house, and a $40,000 brand new truck, with a motorbike, a jetski and a powerboat. The only one he owns the title for is the truck, because he took out a home equity loan to pay for it. So he owes $540,000 on his house, and by his own admission, hasn't made a payment in over a year.

Why am I having to pay for this perso…

And another 7% vanishes from stocks.

Down another 700 points today. We're passing through the previous low in 2003 and continuing down. Only three more days of losses like this and we'll rocket through the low set after Sept 11th 2001.

Another 189 point plummet.

Cause: Banks and fed perform emergency interest rate drops.
Effect: Markets crash by another 200 points.

Ben Bernanke and the Fed need to keep their fucking mouths shut.

Good to see the $700bn bailout worked.

Stock market was down another 500 points today. It's below 10,000 now. That's on top of yesterday's 800 point drop and the 700 point drop last week. In other words, it's in freefall.

But we were told that this just would not happen if the bailout was passed. I'm shocked, Shocked - I tell you - that Bush and McCain lied. I mean really - who would have expected it?

Bush isn't a terrorist after all....

Who knew. Bush's method of ruling is actually best described as 'demagogy' or 'demagoguery', even though 'terrorism' is definitely part of it.

From Acme Online Word Lookup (inc):
demagogism, demagoguism, demagogy
The art and practice of gaining power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.

A demagogue is "one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots."

As George Bernard Shaw said: "But though there is no difference in this respect between the best demagogue and the worst, both of them having to present their cases equally in terms of melodrama, there is all the difference in the world between the statesman who is humbugging the people into allowing him to do the will of God, in whatever disguise it may come to him, and one who is humbugging them into furthering his personal ambition and the commercial interests of the plutocrats who own the newspapers and support him on re…

Vista really does suck.

It seems Microsoft's multi-million dollar campaign to teach us that Vista doesn't suck hasn't gone so well. In fact it's gone so badly that they've now extended the end-of-life for XP almost far enough that people can skip the godforsaken Vista and move on to Windows 7. I wonder what'll happen if/when Windows 7 doesn't work?

Vista sucks. XP lives for at least another 6 months.

868 miles in three days.

I got back from my little weekend away in Idaho on my motorbike a couple of hours ago. 868 miles in three days, dodging thunderstorms and rain clouds all the way around. I was well pleased - didn't get properly wet at all. I did have one thunderstorm encounter but I'd already suited up with full waterproofs by the time I got to it. Rain so thick I couldn't see the road, hail stones, lightning and thunder. Hail stones really hurt when you're rushing through them on a motorbike at 80mph.
The trip was a success - I spent most of the time plugged in to my iPod shuffle. I took the new Legacy Highway out of Salt Lake City, up to Logan, then on to Preston in Idaho for lunch. (Home of Napoleon Dynamite). There's some backwards people in that town, that's for sure.
Quick pit stop in Pocatello for petrol then on to Twin Falls for the overnight stay. On saturday I went up to Boise to get the bike serviced at Big Twin motorcycles, then rode back to Twin Falls for another ove…

No wonder the economy has passed the u-bend.

On the news a couple of nights ago, they were interviewing a not-the-sharpest-tool-in-the-box type who'd just got a title loan. He needed $2000 for something, so he'd gone to a well known, large chain title loan place and taken out a 6 month loan on $2000. Not too bad. Until he showed the camera his payment plan. His interest rate was 120%. He was supposed to be paying back $460 a month for 6 months, which, if he'd managed it, would mean he was "only" going to pay $760 in interest on his $2000 loan. As it was, he was only paying them $200 a month, which was stretching his payment plan out from 6 months to 4 years. At the end of it, he was facing $7700 in interest on a $2000 loan.

And. He. Was. OK. With. That!

These are the people we're going to be bailing out with the billions of dollars in this package? No thanks.

Biggest one-day points drop ever. Good news then.

After the $700bn bailout plan was voted down yesterday, and the stock market went in to freefall, Mr Bush said this morning he was "disappointed" the House rejected the plan. He's warned Congress there is "the real prospect of economic hardship for millions of Americans" if they don't quickly pass a plan.

You know what? That's total crap, as usual. Why should we pay for the greed of CEOs and risk-taking banks? Why not let them suffer the hardship instead of forcing taxpayers to pay for their bonuses, their yachts, and their incompetence?

Once again, Bush is trying to rule by fear - by making people afraid that things will go wrong if we don't pony up the money.

Let the risk-taking financial institutions take the fall - not us.

Rez :: Cowgirl

An oldie but a goodie just popped out of my playlist : Underworld doing Rez :: Cowgirl, live.


Everything...
I'm invisible...
An eraser of love...
Why don't you call me I feel like flying in two...
I'm invisible...
An eraser of love...
Why don't you call me I feel like flying in two...
An eraser of love...

I scream, I scream, I scream so much...
You know what I mean. this electric stream.
And my tears in league with the wires and energy and my machine.
This is my beautiful dream.
I'm hurting no one. hurting no one...
I want to give you everything.
I want to give you energy. I want to give a good thing.
I want to give you everything. everything...
In one final scream of love who could climb this high she looks beautiful
Like a child I feel tears. and I want to scream.
You know what I mean cause this is hurting no one. an erazor of love.

Hurt. the necessary feeling.

Why don't you call me I feel like flying in two...
An eraser of love.

A busy night

Saturday night was busy and tiring this weekend. It started out with a trip to the airport, airside of course, for some good old fashioned plane-spotting. I got to travel around the ramp and taxiways for 4 hours or so with a friend of mine who works out there. We nerded out, taking photos of some of the comings and goings. That went on until about 21:00. At 22:00 I met up with a police acquaintance who had offered to take me on a ride along for his night shift. We spent until 03:30 pulling over vehicles for miscellaneous infractions - tail lights out etc. We got one DUI - a 19 year old kid with an open can of beer in the front seat. There was some excitement at one point where we got called off to a local house where the woman had called 911 because she heard someone banging on the walls of the house. I was told to wait in the drive whilst the officers went rummaging around the back garden, guns and flashlights drawn. They didn't find anything.
Got to bed about 4:00. Yawn.

When market research goes pop.

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Proof if ever it were needed that junkmailers don't bother checking anything before sending out unsolicited mail.

The chances of me ever owning, riding, or being seen on a Hardly Ableson are less than zero, yet in the mail today was an offer to get an HD credit card with the opportunity to win a bike.

In the bin with that then.

Power to the iPod

Colour me impressed.
I just dug out my iPod shuffle to top it up for an upcoming road trip, and it still had a charge. A lot of charge. Impressive given it was last put on its base back in February, mid ski-season.

Kablooie.

Goodbye Washington Mutual, hello JPMorgan Chase. Looks like WaMu suffered the same problem that Northern Rock did in England. All the sheeple started pulling their savings out last week. Last night, after $17bn walked off in 4 days, WaMu finally collapsed and was soaked up by JPMorgan Chase.
This one does affect us - I guess sooner or later, if you have money in a bank or a loan anywhere, this wholesale banking collapse will affect you.
But I'm sure somewhere, CEOs are making billions in bonuses for being so clever.

Replacement bike

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119 days after I took my motorbike in for a dodgy clutch, I picked up the replacement bike tonight. Same bike, newer model year, different colour.

It's a long and winding saga and if you have half an hour to spare, it's all documented here: Triumph Tiger 1050 clutch problem.

Mole no more.

I've been de-moled :0
I went to the medical centre this morning to have the two moles on the left side of my face removed. I was sick and tired of continuously shaving the top off them in the mornings. So now I have to black craters where they used to be. Hopefully once they heal, I'll be able to shave properly for the first time in my life. It'll make a difference.

Headline of the year

Bush says he's working hard on economic turmoil

Well he's done a fucking good job of that with three of the five biggest banks in America collapsing.

Seriously - that was the headline:
Bush says he's working hard on economic turmoil

Bye bye Tiger. Hello Tiger.

15 weeks on and Triumph have stepped up to the plate (after a lot of negotiating). They're replacing my motorbike with a new one. The dealer has still not been able to solve the problem I took it in for on May 31st. Time has dragged on, I've lost a whole summer riding season (and missed two good bike trips). I never quite lost my rag with Triumph or the dealer, but a few weeks ago I was so down about the whole situation that I could barely muster the effort to get up and go into work.
I went down to the dealer tonight and took off all my accessories from the old bike. I got a bit choked up seeing it sitting their, forlornly, having been manhandled by the techs. I couldn't tell if it was saying "where the hell have you been?" or "heeelllppp meeeeee" :-(

The new bike should be here some time next week. Same make and model, different colour. Instead of yellow, the new one will be metallic orange.

All your bandwidth are belong to us

Another good reason to hate AT&T / ComCast - they've finally confirmed their home internet bandwidth caps.
Idiots.
Comcast bandwidth cap

Really? They've been swayed by eye candy?

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Good grief.
Well - I've got to hand it to McCain. He knows his target audience : idiots distracted by shiny, pretty objects.
Lagging behind, he introduced his shiny, pretty object - Sarah 'Pit Bull' Palin - and successfully distracted so many people that he's now ahead in the polls.

Come on people - get a grip. She's not a politician. She's a religious nutcase - a pretty one - but a nutcase nevertheless. Remember a week ago she didn't know what 'vice president' meant?

Eesh. I can't believe enough Americans are so dumb they want another 8 years of Bush-style anal rape.

Here. Let me explain it in geek terminology, thanks to Fark:

IE8 fatter than XP

Microsoft really don't get it do they? The IE8 Beta 2 consumes so much memory and so many system resources that it's actually using more of your computer than the entire XP OS. And that thing's a memory hog on it's own.

Do they not understand that an OS should be small? And a browser should be smaller still? Firefox used to be great in terms of system resources but it's slowly suffered from bloat. Google's Chrome looks promising, but I suspect it'll go the same way in the end. To think that Microsoft believe 117 processes and 400Mb of RAM is an acceptable amount of resources for a browser is inconceivable.

IE8 fatter than XP

+1 to Citi credit cards

I got a new credit card in the mail today - unexpectedly. It was to replace a still-active card I have. Citi had registered my card being used (by me) at a store, hotel or restaurant (not sure which) which is known to have had their customer merchant database stolen.
So Citi closed my old card and account to prevent potential fraud, and opened a new one with a new number automatically.
Nice one.

McCain's gestapo forcefully remove protester.

I guess McCain showed his true colours today as a protester at the RNC was forcefully removed.
That pesky 'freedom of speech' thing again. You can tell it really pisses off the Republicans.

Some pictures from California

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A couple of pics from my trip to the NASA facility in California. The first is Hangar One - one of the three original airship hangars at Moffett field. It's piggin' huge.



This was a sign in the hotel where I stayed, which I just thought was funny because it was so verbose.

Lyrics time again.

Track and artist(e) please :-)


I miss the way You stop my tears..
The way You used to hold me...
Baby Baby please.. Give me one more chance..

Shine Your light on me...
I'm the only one who really loved You..

Put Your faith in me..
I can give You anything You need..

Google Chrome : The new browser on the block.

I've downloaded a copy of Google Chrome to see how it fares. It's nice - streamlined - has some nice features. But there's a problem. There's no way to block ads in it. That means no Adblock, or any other plugins. Given that Google is an advertising-driven company, I reckon that means those features will never happen. Which is a shame, because Chrome is actually quite nice to use. But until they give me the ability to block ads, I'm sticking with Firefox.

Google Chrome Beta

Bush's air attack on Iran "Imminent" ?

Ok so in between the chips, the apple pie, the coffee and the hash, it's hard to imagine a Dutch spy service. Having lived there I find it even more amusing, but even so...

America about to bomb Iran?

I blogged about this before, and I think that it's still likely that America will coerce Israel into attacking Iran on their behalf.

Isreal attacks Iran on the US's behalf.

United Airlines turn to make flying miserable.

Until today, United Airlines was about to press ahead with their latest plan to turn their aircraft into flying concentration camps. They were going to stop serving hot meals on transatlantic flights.
Apparently they received a lot of "feedback" and decided not to go ahead with it.
I wonder what that means? Clearly they're still going to find someway of making the already miserable flying experience just that little bit worse. More seats? Less legroom? Charging for space in the overhead bins.

Hey - now there's an idea - if your carry-on won't fit under the seat in front, you can purchase space in the overhead bins.

Better still - charge for seats! Wicked. Make the front of the plane like a Bangladesh bus where you have to stand nose-to-armpit with some 500 kilo Texan woman wearing spandex and stuffing hamburgers into her face whilst the grease runs down her chubby arms, and then charge extra if you want to sit down.

United to keep serving hot food

Mobile me?

WTF?
I just upgraded iTunes and it's installed something alongside called MobileMe.
I didn't ask for that. It's a bitch to uninstall too - it doesn't show up in add/remove programs. You've got to go to Apple Mobile Device Support and delete it there instead. 43.8Mb too. That would explain why the iTunes update was over 70Mb. Most of it was this thing.

It's obviously not critical because it uninstalled without needing a reboot - almost unheard of in Winblows.

I don't have an iPhone. I don't want an iPhone. And I certainly don't want Mobile Me (whatever it is).

That makes Apple as bad as Microsoft as far as I'm concerned. Installing sneakware without bothering to tell me.

I believe there's a word for that : Trojan.

15ft storm surge + CAT 4 = Goodbye New Orleans

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We should watch monday and tuesday very carefully - we could witness a pivotal moment in history. There is a possibility that Gustav is going to wipe New Orleans from the face of the planet in terms of being a habitable city. The storm surge prediction is 15ft, and NOAA think it's going to be a cat 4 and possibly a cat 5 by the time it makes landfall. The current best guess has it running just south of New Orleans.
Now given that they've not repaired many (any?) of the levies, not put in proper flood protection, not built houses on stilts or done any of the number of other things that should have happened in the last three years since Katrina, my guess is nature is going to reclaim that place.
Storm surge prediction :

Greasy

I took off to a Chinese restaurant tonight for dinner, and phew - what a stinker. Castro Street - the local eatery haunt - has literally hundreds of restaurants along it. The list the hotel gave me shows 22 Chinese places. I chose one at random.
Chef Liu. Should be Chef Eww. The food was the greasiest Chinese I've had for years if not decades. I bit into the pot stickers and after gnawing through the canvas-like pastry, was squirted with hot fat as it ran out on to the plate.
The soda came as a can from the fridge. The fried rice was greased rice, and the Mongolian Beef literally swam across a sea of fat to greet me as they put the plate down.
Eeeeuuuuuuugh.
I feel soiled.
Oddly, the music was an eclectic mix of 1950's one-hit-wonders mixed with Elvis.

Oh. My. Go(ooooo)d.

So I'm here at NASA in California, giving them a refresher course, and the Russian chap I'm teaching name-drops that he knows someone at the Google campus next door. So we were 'let in' for lunch.
It's like nirvana.
Free bikes to get around the campus (that are all given a mechanical once-over each night and redistributed to the front gate for the morning rush). Free wifi that extends for miles (I'm logged on to it free right now from my hotel room). Open-plan offices and workspaces where people are - well - just sitting and working (hallways, nooks, crannies, park benches, window sills).

And a free cafeteria that would make you cry. Every food you could possibly imagine, from just about every country, in every style. Free.

So we filled our plates and sat down next to some bloke called Sergey Brin. I believe he's quite important.

:-)

Countdown to disaster

Well that's it then. The Beijing Olympics is over. So now begins the countdown to the humiliating disaster that will be the 2012 London Olympics. They're bleating on about how they're two months ahead of schedule already, but the budget hike has been played down. The original $6bn budget had already ballooned to $17bn and there's still 4 years to go. The London Olympic committee were on TV tonight frantically denying that the UK taxpayers would foot the bill any more than they had already, but then went on to say they weren't sure where they were going to get the extra $11bn from.

Of course we all know exactly where it'll come from - the taxpayer. Glad I don't live there any more ....

So this is largely how it'll go.

OPENING CEREMONY
After a prolonged, politically and ethnically correct song and dance number, the Olympic flame will be ignited by a petrol bomb thrown by a Brixton native wearing the traditional hoodie. The flame will be contained in a large c…

Chris & Paula do Victoria

As much as that sounds like a porn title, it's not. We just got back from 5 days in Victoria B.C. It was nice to be out of the office on a break, and we got to meet up with mum and dad who had just finished an Alaskan cruise. Victoria is a really nice place to be. I did consider giving up my job and moving there to become a harbour taxi captain. Seemed like a nice low-stress job :-)
There was so much going on in Victoria harbour it was exhausting watching it all. Dragon Boat racing, water taxis, ferries and seaplanes coming and going.
I think we'll be going back to visit again some time but not quite sure when.
Definitely added to the list of nice places to be.

Pictures, in case you're curious, are here.

Best Graffitti ever.

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Found on the side of a building in England, the most surveilled nation on the planet. One camera for every twelve citizens.

Nice to see that all those CCTV units have managed to keep the crime rate down.
And by 'down' I mean 'highest in Europe'.

The Phelps 7th-gold-medal con.

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I guess being sponsored by the official timekeepers of the Olympics has its perks. Phelps clearly didn't win that 7th medal of his against Cavic. The photo finish proves it. Yet somehow, his sponsor's equipment managed to have him touch the wall 100th of a second before Cavic. Even though Cavic's hands are touching the wall whilst Phelps is still swimming. It's amazing what sponsor power can do.

Cavic on the right, touching the wall. Phelps on the left, not touching the wall:

Shade = savings

The verdict is in - the new canopy on the deck and the retractable awning over the kitchen window have saved us money on our power bill. We're using an average of 5kWh less per day this year compared to the same time last year - meaning we saved over $35 this month on electricity. Impressive given that the cost-per-unit is more than last year. More pleasing is that this is the lowest July bill we've had since 2005.
The west-facing kitchen is no longer heating up the house which means the a/c isn't on as much.
Sweet.

Un. Be. Lievable.

I tell you something - if you didn't see the opening ceremony to the Beijing Olympics tonight, you missed out.
It was just incredible. I thought the Australian opening ceremony was good 8 years ago. The Chinese have move the bar so high that it's hard to conceive how any nation after this is going to be able to come even half way close to the sheer spectacle and quality of what we were presented with tonight.

I hope NBC do a BluRay of the opening ceremony.

$540bn + $48bn =?

How much Bush has squandered on his Iraq adventure. $540bn in war funding. $48bn in reconstruction costs.

Oddly, Iraq announced an $80bn budget surplus today.....compared to America's $482bn deficit.

Just so you know.

Curse you, US Airways

Bastards!
US Airways have set the precedent now - they're now charging for all drinks, including bottles of water. That means it'll only be a matter of minutes before all the other American airlines jump on board.
So you now have to sit jammed into a 32 inch seat pitch, pay for all your checked bags, pay for blankets and pillows, pay for window, exit row or aisle seats, and pay for soft drinks on board.
Fantastic.
Has anyone pointed out to the US airlines that all airlines are suffering the same cost of fuel increase, but only the US airlines are stacking up the extra fees?

It was hard to imagine how the airlines could make flying any less pleasant but they've managed it. I'm sure they can't see it now, but it's the extra fees that are going to kill them, not the price of fuel. People will simply stop flying.

A little bit of culture in Utah

We went to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts yesterday - they've got an exhibition running with art from private collectors. It spans all sorts of stuff from Rembrandt to Degas. It was quite interesting. Some of the Piet Mondrian stuff looks a lot better in the flesh so to speak. It's still just lines and blocks of colour, and it still doesn't make any sense, but it does look better when you see "it", not a printed copy of it.

Millions of dollars of R&D defeated by a 5 cent balloon.

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Imagine. Millions of dollars of R&D and infrastructure. Face recognition, camera tracking, remote control, wired or wireless connection, video storage - probably on hard drive. The latest CCTV cameras are Orwellian in their intrusive nature, but they are clever.

Unless you have a 5 cent helium balloon (charged with static from rubbing it against your sweater), a piece of string and a rock.

Oh my god. Today was the day!

I just filed my 17th witness statement to the police today having been intimately involved with a traffic accident. A couple of cars in front of me a guy had slowed down to turn left and to yield to a wheelchair crossing the road. I saw two cyclists pass me on the cycle lane and then the guy in front went to go around the car waiting to turn left. He didn't look and creamed one of the cyclists. She went over the back of his car and knocked herself out on the street. I parked the car diagonally across the cycle lane to provide a barrier between the traffic behind me and the cyclist lying on the ground, and when I looked up, the bastard who ran her over was driving off.
What an opportunity! Time to be hero-to-the-people. Screw it - time to meter out some civilian justice. I've had enough of people like him.
I chased him on foot to the next set of traffic lights (thank heavens it wasn't far), opened his driver's door, dragged him out, threw him on the ground and tried to do…

It's not just me.

A colleague of mine took his family to the baseball game this weekend. By the time they got there, the stadium parking lots were full so they used one of the many event parking lots that are available during the games. They paid $10 and were ushered into a nice parking area along with a bunch of other cars. When they came out after the game, all the cars had been towed, costing $270 to get them back.
My colleage called the police, who came out, and had the balls to tell him that no crime had taken place other than him parking on private property, which is why he was towed.
So the criminals who took $10 off loads of drivers for "event parking" didn't commit fraud apparently, despite the fact that they had no rights to the land, no business permits and no insurance. No - they just chose a likely looking plot of land, had an "event parking" board made, and then robbed people blind.
And the police say there's no crime with that.

It's going to happen. One day, g…

Another driver who needs removing from society.

All I wanted to do was go through a drive-through and pick up some lunch. Of course it became my responsibility to get out of the way of the car full of jackasses reversing through the drive through.

Why? What purpose could that serve? If they were waiting for food, why weren't they parked? My guess - they couldn't be bothered to sit in line, or had a problem with their order. Rather than using his brain, the driver went into me-me-me mode and just reversed through the drive through. Nearly backed into me in the process.

Lets just say my anger got the better of me again.

One day. One day. Just try me.

Fishing for the dregs of "society".

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I don't know about you, but I couldn't live with myself if my self-esteem was so low that I went rummaging through other people's junk. Yes - it's neighbourhood cleanup. That time of year when the regular people put their accumulated crap out by the kerb so that the bottom-feeders can come around and score some new posessions.

You know - if they really want low-quality crap, all they need to do is go to WalMart.

Our pile hasn't been out for more than an hour, when this knuckle-dragger turned up. He took a fake Christmas tree with no legs and half the branches burned off, and a bent piece of metal from the rack on the old BMW motorbike.

It's going to be a wicked Christmas at the Ortiz household this year.

Microsoft spending $300M to tell consumers Vista doesn't suck.

Well that's $300M down the drain then, because Vista both sucks and blows at the same time. XP is slow enough - why would I want to bog my PC down even further with the ridiculous amount of unnecessarily bloat in Vista?

Their first salvo in this campaign? Equating "Vista misconceptions" to the time when we thought the earth was flat:

Microsoft sails into the 15th century

$300M to tell us Vista doesn't suck

The top 100 reasons to use Vista

That last one is entertaining. I think I might put together a 100-point debunking of that one, starting with item 1 :

Windows Vista makes using your PC a breeze.
Well that's total bollocks right up front. How can billions of "security" popups, non-working printers, non-working games, a slow system loaded with software bloat and DRM applied to every file be "a breeze" to use? I've tried it. It sucks.

The really interesting part is that they're planning to stop selling XP on July 30th - or was that June 30th? I…

Cuban Missile Crisis v2.0

Great. So because of Bush's "missile shield" - where he plans to put 10 missile and a radar post in Czechoslovakia, Russia is now considering basing a fleet of medium-range bombers in Cuba.

Didn't the world have enough of this crap in the 60's?

And people wonder why Bush is branded as the world's number 1 terrorist.

The ongoing saga with the clutch on my bike.

(Sigh).
Nearly 8 weeks now and after last week's change out of all the clutch plates, springs and bolts, the clutch judder came back after one day. Triumph are dealing with the warranty issue extremely badly and the dealer here in town, up until the new service manager started last week - were just about criminal in their handling of it.
My patience has worn out now. If they don't get it fixed this time I'm demanding a new bike or my money back.

God.

God: prove it.

I rest my case.

The continuing saga of Honda Civic Man

This morning, White Honda Civic Man pulled up behind me to turn left and suddenly realised he recognised my car and pulled back out in to the main flow of traffic to go straight on. Naturally he didn't use his mirrors so the petrol tanker behind him jammed on the brakes and started to jackknife - I scurried through the intersection to avoid being collected by the trailer. I've called the police again.

Bringing people to task

It seems my white Honda Civic driver from yesterday wasn't doing something rash as a one-off occurance, but it looks like his normal M.O. This morning I saw him again but he was three or four cars in front in the queue on Foothill. Today he decided he was not going to sit in the queue so he forced his way across to the right lane and off up a side street. Now when I saw 'forced' I mean "FORCED" as in there wasn't a gap in the traffic, so he just turned right and ran a gold sedan up on to the kerb whilst at the same time nearly killing a cyclist. His biggest mistake of course was performing this stunt in front of me. Now I have his license plate number. I've called the police and told them to look at the traffic camera for yesterday's incident and reported his psychopathic driving style of today. They asked if I would be prepared to watch for him over the coming mornings, which of course I will be. I'll watch this little fucker all the way to jail …

Well colour me surprised.

You could have knocked me down with a sledgehammer. I got home tonight and there was a cheque from the Bush Regime. Apparently the economic stimulus wasn't a hoax after all. The insane man is helping to bankrupt the country by giving money away. Fantastic. That'll go straight in the savings then. Well it will assuming the cheque doesn't bounce and isn't covered in fine print.
I'm not sure what he hopes to achieve with this though. It's not made a jot of difference to my opinion of him and only an insane person would actually spend it in this economic climate.

It's getting harder to be a good person.

When you're surrounded by total assholes, it gets harder and harder to be a good person.
I've driven the same route to work for the last 6 years. There's one particular junction which has two left-turn lanes, a kerb and then a right-turn lane. Today, the driver of the white Honda Civic behind me decided that the traffic wasn't moving off quickly enough when the light went green, so he went in to the right turn lane, then drove straight on and forced the Ford pickup in front of me to brake suddenly as he forced his way into the left lane in front.
Why is it that these people can get away with this crap when regular law-abiding people like me would get the attention of the police for picking my nose and driving at the same time?
It just doesn't seem fair that total assholes get away with ruining other people's daily lives with no comeback, no accountability, and not a care in the world for who they harm or piss off in the process. The hapless goons that populate th…

Another summer project complete.

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It's higher off the deck than I wanted but I don't have a lot of options because of the clearance around the kitchen porch. It does give nice shade up until about 18:00 when the sun is too low and too far to the west.

Bush's nu-cu-lar war ambitions.

Not content with the middle-eastern mess he's created, it looks like Bush is going to get his nuclear war with Iran before he gets to the end of his term although he's likely relying on Israel to pull the trigger. The US has been quietly suggesting to Israel that they provoke Iran into attacking them. The Israeli Air Force exercise over Iran a few days ago resulted in Iran test-firing missiles yesterday and today. The Bush regime have said they'll "defend our allies" if they're attacked by Iran. It's assumed that Israel have their own nukes, either self-made or provided by the US so if attacked by Iran, Israel will undoubtedly retaliate with those. Bush will then see that as justification to go in all guns blazing.

But Bush and the Iranians are locked in a diplomatic game of "Who's crazier?". With six months left in office, no political capital at home or abroad, the lowest approval rating since Nixon, a country he's brought to it's k…

Things I didn't know I didn't know : The CIA's destruction of Laos.

I learned something tonight watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations travel show.

During the Vietnam war, Laos was caught in the middle between the US and Vietnam. The CIA, without any support or knowledge of the American people, created a secret war in Laos by recruiting the hill tribe people in the east to fight the Communist North Vietnamese troops in Laos. When it was all over, the U.S had turned a tiny Laos into a second moon face of the earth.

The U.S. bombing of Laos was unprecedented. The U.S. Air Force carried out 580,000 missions against the country. That breaks down to about one planeload of bombs dropped every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years. According to the experts, the U.S. dropped over 2 million tonnes of bombs in Laos, more than all of the bombs dropped by all warring countries during World War II. U.S. pilots were "encouraged" to dump unused bombs on return flights from Vietnam bombing runs.

Today, both land and people all walks of life ar…

Fireworks and franks.

We had a couple of friends over yesterday for our annual 4th of July thing. Simple hot dogs and hamburgers, salad and fixin's, followed by several attempts to set passing cars on fire with our fireworks and then the big display at Sugarhouse park which we can see from our deck.
Nice.

PCLoadLetter? What the fuck?