Archive for April, 2008

28
Apr
08

Patriotism

I’m trying to figure out if I am pissed off or just disgusted this morning. What is a patriot? Do you get to be a patriot by serving in the military? Or is it something more. Does wearing a uniform get you a free pass? What about the uniform of a religious leader? Does that infer some kind of immunity from stupidity? I’m all riled up, but it’s pointed in so many directions. There’s two things that are driving my discomfiture this morning.

First, I wanted to buy an American flag for my house. The current one is looking a bit worn and needs to be retired. I have great respect for the flag. I have several, including the one that draped my father-in-law’s casket. It’s an important symbol to me. So I went online to find a nice one. The first 5 hits on my Google search were all for imported flags. It just strikes me as a little weird.

Second, I see all the crap that Obama’s “ex” preacher is dealing with. Some are questioning the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s patriotism. I can see how that may be. I’ve heard the snippet where he’s preaching the fire of “god bless America? Oh no, God DAMN America!” That sounds pretty unpatriotic to me. But he says that one cannot judge the snippet unless one heard the whole sermon. And that “I served six years in the military.” “Does that make me patriotic? How many years did (Vice President Dick) Cheney serve?”. I dunno. I know a lot of folks that have served in the military that are most certainly not patriotic. They joined the military for the monetary benefits and then were kinda dumbstruck when military action popped up. But I also know lot’s of folks that have served and are regular civilians who have committed selfless acts that demonstrate a love for their country. Yep, those are patriots.

There is supposed to be a separation between church and state. Granted, religion and politics are taking the same form: blind faith in the unseen and expectations of the unreal. I’m not a real patriot because I don’t think I have committed one of those selfless acts for the US. I may be patriotic, but I’m not a patriot. I fly the flag, I vote, I serve my jury duty… And I’m not religious. I’d like to think that there was something more to this existence than just decomposition when it’s all over. The spiritual part of the dynamic works for me, but I doubt you’ll ever see me, at this point, preaching from the pulpit. I will not speak poorly of your religion, though.

What we do is a much more important measure of what we are than what we say. Take, for instance, my oldest daughter. She’s got the learners permit driving license. The other day, she was being tail-gated by one of the GeekSquad vans that’s always zipping around our neighborhood. This guy has been doing that a lot. But this, time, my daughter had turned a corner with the guy on her rear bumper and there was a parked car in front of her. She had to stop because there was an oncoming vehicle coming in the other direction. GeekSquad boy decides to punch it and swerves out from behind my daughter, cuts off the oncoming vehicle and dives back in front of my daughter. Trust me, everyone was shaking. I waited a day before I “reacted” to this. I went down to the Best Buy store (where the GeekSquad is located) and had a private conversation with the store manager. The situation is being handled directly. My daughter was surprised that I “had her back” like that. It didn’t make me a better dad. I was doing what I was supposed to do. No superhero status. But maybe if I had done that for somebody that I didn’t know… maybe that would have qualified me for special status. Sort of like being a patriot versus being patriotic.

28
Apr
08

The Road To Hell

Or maybe it’s the road from hell or through hell? Whatever it is, it’s had a whole lot of Texans in a lather for quite some time. It’s the planned Interstate 69/Trans-Texas Corridor. f it is built, the corridor likely will start out as a four-lane divided tollway. Eventually, the Texas Department of Transportation could expand it to 1,200 feet in places, with toll lanes for cars and trucks; tracks for freight and passenger trains; and space for pipelines, power lines and communications. The exact route has yet to be determined. TxDOT has recommended the route come from a study corridor, ranging from a quarter-mile to four miles wide, between Texarkana and Mexico. Most of the route will stay close to U.S. 59, the agency says, but to speed traffic around Houston, it veers through rural land west of the city.

Lemme translate that for you. It will be built, whether we need it or not, regardless of whose land gets taken or whose feathers get ruffled, it will seize property through eminent domain, it will split communities and cause ill will. And there’s not a damn thing that can be done to stop it. “Hillary in the White House? Who cares! They’re cuttin’ my ranch in two so the Mexicans can get up north quicker with their crap and drugs!” Or some such.

27
Apr
08

Mama Don’t Take My Printer Away

I love my laser printer. And I hate Microsoft’s Vista operating system. The HP1100a is an ancient black and white laser printer. It doesn’t hold a massive amount of paper. But it holds enough. It also has an alternate feed for envelopes and such and a built in scanner that is great for making the occasional copy of a document. The toner cartridge lasts a good long time and the thing is relatively fast and very reliable. Oh, and I hate ink jet printers for a whole host of reasons. A long time ago, I had connected it to a now obsolete but still functioning Netgear network print server. Everyone in my house that connect to the network could print to their heart’s content. Fast forward to the point where both of my daughter’s computers have crapped out beyond the point where repair is economically reasonable. I got them laptops and the only choice for an operating system was Vista. Fast forward some more to the point where both of them are actually printing out their homework. Not on my current system.

The ancient print server doesn’t support Vista and updates for the drivers stopped about the time gas was still affordable. So I ordered a new print server from NewEgg that specifically supported Vista. The tricky part was finding one that supported old Centronics/parallel interfaces. Seems that USB is the connection of choice these days. Found one. Small problem. HP, in their infinite wisdom, decided to use a “mini Centronics” connector on this model. I needed to find a mini Centronics to Centronics adapter. Not something that Best Buy is gonna keep on hand since I am one of possibly 8 people in the world who might need one. Went to my favorite PC parts place to see if he could order one for me. Everything came up “no longer stocked”. Joy. I found one from Sewell. Everything is working and everyone can print. Hopefully, this will last at least a decade!

27
Apr
08

WAR en Mexico!

As if you really need another reason to keep your drunk ass on the San Diego side of the border… 13 dead, 9 wounded, 54 guns seized, 21 vehicles (many with bullet holes), over 1,500 spent shell casings… Just another tricky drug war in Tijuana. Exactly one day’s worth of the druggies agitating amongst themselves and scaring the bejeepers out of las touristas. Forget the border crossing. The donkey show isn’t that good.

26
Apr
08

No Time For You!

I’ve always been fascinated by truly complex timepieces. They are, indeed, masterpieces of engineering, miniaturization, and art. For various reasons, I had to stop wearing a watch and my fondness for them grew instead of waned. So of course, I was taken aback when I saw this feature in the Wall Street Journal. The watch features two tourbillons — devices that overcome the ill effects of earth’s gravity on a watch’s accuracy — connected by a differential mechanism. Instead of hands, the watch has a “contemplative tourbillon operation whereby the ‘Day’ tourbillon operates for 12 hours to symbolize working life, while the ‘Night’ tourbillon takes over afterward to represent an individual’s private time.”

And that is all that it does. It tells day from night, albeit very accurately. No hours, minutes, or seconds. No moon phases, seasons, or whatnot. And it’s built from salvaged metal from the Titanic and the shipyard that created her. All for $300,00. Or you could just look out a window…

24
Apr
08

Excellent Customer Service

I used an awful lot of American Express points to finally break down and buy a ginormous flat screen TV. Of course, I wanted it instantly, but anything that big is going to take a good bit to get delivered. Or so I thought. CEVA was contracted as the “white glove” delivery service. I was given a tracking number and saw that it was going to take about 8 days to deliver the TV. As I poked in to check on it’s progress, I noticed that the estimated delivery date was actually getting earlier, not later. Yesterday, I got a call from a delightful young lady who asked me if I would mind having my TV delivered the next day (today). Somewhat stunned, I said sure.  She told me that the driver would be at my house between 1-5:00pm. No problem… I should have known that they would arrive at 1:01pm (really). Clean, professional, efficient and very courteous. Not bad at all for a company that I had never even heard of.

I can’t wait for hi-def football…

24
Apr
08

Military Intelligence

One would think that maintaining military discipline is of paramount importance. Especially when it involves things that might reveal the operations and locations of specialized military units. One would also think that the Israeli’s would have this down better than anyone. Apparently not. An Israeli Air Force serviceman has been put in the clink for 19 days because he uploaded pictures to Facebook that gave away unit locations.