This Space for Rent

Apr 30, 2007

Oh, and another thing…

Given my druthers, another thing I'd like in my life, aside from living in a state with a functional healthcare system, is to move back to a part of the world where it snows during the winter. The whole west coast rainy season/sunny season business was an amusing diversion the first year I was out here, but it's gotten very old in the 13 years since then.


Don’t mind the nervous tic, it’s just fallout from trying to renovate my garage

I've been eyeing my poor pathetic garage (which hasn't seen better days for about half a century) with a mind to renovate it and change it from a stupid garage into a workshop (so I can get the huge pile of wood & tile & glass & electronic parts out of the basement and into a well-lit space with electricity and heat) with a little office space upstairs. It's not big enough to make a modern house (it fits into a 6.1 meter cube, which is smaller than a lot of the so-called "great rooms" that infest modern house design), but it's roughly the size of some of the smaller bungalows that people used to build or buy, so it's the ideal size for a small workshop or studio.

The problem is that it's not in very good shape. Aside from the obvious, there's the teeny detail that the back is rotted out and the south side keeps having vines grow through it in the areas where dirt was piled up higher than the foundation for the past 20 or so years.

So I was thinking that the best way to renovate the offending thing would be to hire some contractor to pull the existing structure down, then run a stemwall across the front of the foundation and reassemble the whole thing with ~ a meter of wall extension and a second floor. Which seemed like a wonderful idea when I called in some demolition crews who made guesses that it would take two days and US$1600 to convert the box into a stack of old-growth lumber for me to sort through and reassemble into a slightly taller box.

It didn't seem quite such a wonderful idea when I started to get the written estimates, which were, ahem, slightly higher than the verbal estimates that I'd been given when the contractor was onsite. (And it really didn't seem too wonderful when the contract chirpily said that the general contractor (and that would be me) had to go out and get a demolition permit. And it's not because I expected that you can actually demolish structures in Portland without getting permission from The Man; I'd already expected that, and had spent a few exciting hours grubbing through trying to get ANY sort of idea about just how much I'd have to pay to get permission to make my property safe for working in. No, it's because after the written estimate helpfully provided me with estimated costs of renting porta-potties and dumpsters (and, less helpfully, offered to do that bit of subcontracting themselves at a substantial premium,) they disappeared off into the sort of vague "hey! you'll have to figure out how much the permits cost all by yourself! Hahahahahahaha!" commentary that I so love about construction.) I know that there's inflation, but a 80% increase in the estimate between 9:30am (verbal) and 4:15pm (written)?

It's annoying enough to have to deal with the city (it's a city, and even the best city is not going to go out of its way to make it easy for homeowners to fiddle with their property,) but the difference between spending US$1600+permits to have someone else crawl up on top of a roof to dismantle a structure and spending US$2500+permits is enough to make me scamper on out and start buying lally columns on the spot (if I'm going to remove the roof, I'm not going to do it until I brace the front of the structure. And I'd rather use tall skinny structural jacks than build up a massive cribbing support to do said bracing. Thus a brace of lally columns.)

Admittedly, letting the garage slowly slide into decrepitude is probably keeping my property taxes lower than they'd otherwise be (the real estate slowdown is starting to hit Portland, but I still live in a neighborhood where the value of my house has doubled in the past 9 years. And, yes, the thought of selling it and bolting has crossed my mind, but (a) I'd have to buy (or build) another house, (b) even if I could do that on the cheap, the residual money wouldn't be enough to retire on, and (c) the best is dead set on staying in Portland, come hell or high water) but it's still 122 square meters of negative space that I'd like to replace with a workshop (if there's one thing our property has, it's negative space; easily a quarter of our house is unusable space for one reason or another; it's 1100 square meters, and not only don't we have room for an office but I've been so at wits end for the past year and a half that large parts of the house have sort of filled up with random junk waiting for me to win the lottery before I can work on them.)

This does beg the question of "why do you work if it keeps you from being creative?" Well, that's easy; no work, no health insurance, bankruptcy if I get sick (which is at least officially different from "work, sucky health insurance, bankruptcy soon after I get sick" [and, yes, it would be easier if I lived in a country with a working healthcare system, but doing that requires a unanimous vote of the board of directors at Chateau Chaos and that's so not going to happen that I've given up on even trying],) so I've got to keep trying to work out ways to tidy up my life enough so I can hypothetically work on things in the tiny amount of free time I've got left after my stupid job. And having to deal with subcontractors and the city doesn't make that even slightly easier.

Apr 27, 2007

Cute Baby picture of the day

Silas at his birthday party three weeks ago.

Friday photo dump

The ongoing reconstruction of the transit mall to include a trolley line and continuous automobile lanes (since it's not fair that Houston should get all of the spectacular tram vs. automobile collisions) chugs along. It looks like about 20% of the rail has been laid on the north end of the transit mall, which isn't bad for 3 months of work.

Too bad that the estimated opening date is the end of 2009.

I took this photo of clouds banked beyond the Morrison Street bridge a few weeks ago as we dodged our way through downtown after a trip to the Zoo.

Defining “sanitary”, Felis sylvestris-style

Leo gives us a gentle reminder why it might not be a particularly good idea to open the kitchen window on those warm sunny days.

Trolley picture of the day

I was down at Union Station for an errand after work today, and rather than face trying to figure out how to take a bus across downtown in finite time (it took 45 minutes to get from the south end to the north end of downtown, and Portland doesn't have a very large downtown) I walked across the Steel Bridge to catch a #70 bus at the Rose Quarter transit center. It was merely a happy coincidence that every interurban line from the east comes into downtown via the Steel Bridge.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Russell, with assistance from Silas and the best, wove a little pocket that turned out to be just the right size to hold a Dust Mite.

Apr 26, 2007

It must be election season or something …

... because we've just gotten our first anti-gay push poll of the year. It's pretty easy to tell when the homophobes are behind a poll, because after a stream of simple questions ("do you support (x)?" "will you vote for (y)?" "do you consider yourself a (z)") they burst out into long spittle-filled rants about "special rights" (and in this case, the "special rights" they're talking about is the domestic partnership law that the state of Oregon may be enacting fairly soon. I guess the "special" part of the rights here is that domestic partners don't get the full bundle of privileges that come with the marriage label. But then again we're dealing with a bunch of people who really want the state to have a bounty on gay people, so they can not only commit brutal murders with impunity, but they can commit brutal murders and get paid for it. These thugs probably cry themselves to sleep at night because they can't join the SS anymore) and "how dare the governor sign a domestic partnership bill when the people™ voted just two years ago to hunt down gay people like animals."

Bastards. I look forward to the day when the lot of them are rotting in hell.

Apr 25, 2007


Oh My God
I blame the patriarchy vs. Big Pharma.

No wonder my doctor so cheerfully prescribes US$2000 (which is less than the deductable for my horrid health insurance) MRIs; after seeing a round of drug bills for anything more complicated than the common cold, US$2000 probably looks like pocket change. It certainly puts a new facet into me wanting to quit my job, doesn't it -- if I quit my job and anything happens to me, my family (unless I get a divorce on the spot, then start robbing banks to get money to buy the drugs) will go bankrupt instantaneously, and then I'd die because I wouldn't have any more money to pay for the wonder drug.

I already knew that the for-profit medical system is controlled by people with the moral bearings of a maggot, but it's shocking to see (and read about) the system in action. It's like lifting a rock and discovering a half-eaten human body underneath.

(from I Blame The Patriarchy)

Spamhunting gone wrong

There are a lot of spamhunter vigilantes out there, of various degrees of competence and political savvy. Most of them just work quietly in the background, dealing with the spammers at the source, and some are somewhat less competent than that.

I used to be the sysadmin for a smallish quantum chemistry software house, and am still the external DNS manager for them. This means that if someone wants to bother the company about spam, I get the abuse complaint. I almost never get abuse complaints, because the company is pretty good at only doing mailings to people who've asked for them (they have, or had, an official bulk email sending machine, named canter-n-seigel in honor of the green card spammers, but contrary to its namesake it doesn't send spam,) except from the less competent spamhouses.

And by less competent, I'm talking about spamcop. Over the years, they've sent us "YOU SENT SPAM" reports for a variety of non-spam reasons, ranging from

  1. Some overly enthusiastic new employee was bouncing spam to spamcop. The idiots at spamcop looked at the last Received: line, saw it was the company mailserver, and sent the spam complaint to the company. Nevermind that the mail was bounced from a company machine.
  2. Some technical seminar sent out a message about some chemistry software conference, including a comment about the company. It was reported as spam, so we got the report.
  3. And, just recently, we had some spam sent to a nonexistent address inside the company. So it bounced. And guess who got the spam complaint from the idiots at spamcop? Yup, us. What do they expect us to do; not send bounces when mail is sent to a nonexistent address, or to use Voodoo magic to determine whether or not a From: address is valid or not?

Ahh, it's springtime and the idiots are in bloom. But at spamcop, the idiots are always in bloom.

Apr 22, 2007

I don’t think they need to worry

When we were driving out to darkest suburbia this afternoon (for a round of legos and clothes shopping for the bears, we got stuck behind someone in a SUC (a R*ng* R*v*r, all decked out with floodlights, ladders, bush racks, and all of this was, as you can expect, sparklingly shiny as if it had never gone off the road in its life.) Julie noticed it first -- the stupid truck had a little custom plate applied right above the big V8 (which, what, gives you about the same acceleration as a 2001 Prius? Possibly, if you're in freefall) label on the back door.

I couldn't read it, but the best could, and she said I should try to get a picture while we were stopped at the light. So I did, and when we got home I enlarged the picture, and, yes, it said just what the best said it said:

"Do my balls look big in this?", eh? Um, no, I don't think so. Perhaps under a really powerful microscope, but not without one. But we already knew that when we saw the SUC in the first place.

New dwarf planet discovered?

A planet is a body that

  1. Is in orbit around the Sun.
  2. Has sufficient mass to be close to spherical.
  3. Has cleared its orbit (this last definition has already been footnoted into oblivion, because several of the classical planets, including earth, have managed to accumulate a good number of asteroids in their trojan points.)

A dwarf planet, on the other hand, has to fulfill definition #1 and #2. Okay, fine and good, so we've got this spiffy little definition that keeps hoi polloi away from the exclusive club that are all of the planets (except Ceres) that were discovered before that pesky American came along and spoiled the game.

But if you found a planet that had a large number of asteroids sharing its orbit that which may have been there since the time of planetary accretion, you'd think that it hadn't actually cleared its orbit, right?

I'm sure that yet another footnote1,2 will be cranked out pretty quickly, but for now, I'd like to say hello to the dwarf planet Neptune; a dwarf gas giant that's only five times the diameter of earth.

(via James Nicoll)

  1. I suspect it will be piggybacked under relative masses, but some of the objects that have been discovered are in the 40km diameter range, which is big enough to cause an extinction event if one went astray and rammed into our planet. It seems somewhat unsporting to call an extinction-event sized object irrelevant debris.
  2. Or, alternatively, they could just junk the silly "dwarf planet" classification and welcome Ceres, Pluto/Persephone, and the small collection of planet-sized-and-shaped Kuiper Belt Objects that have already been discovered back into the planetary treehouse.

Apr 20, 2007

Aerial Tramway photo of the day

North heads up to OHSU at noon today, as seen from the #19 bus going east across the Ross Island Bridge.

Spider picture of the day

A little spider spotted on our stovetop, before it went on to risk death at the paws of our savage kitties.

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite is doing the breadmaking today.

Apr 19, 2007

Now this is an interesting line of argument

In the wake of the latest episode of what's becoming an American tradition (psycho buys guns, goes on a rampage), a very interesting blame the victim theme appears to be emerging; The gun nut community has decided that the problem is that the State of Virginia (a state with no gun control laws at all, and where you can apparently carry on every bit of public property outside of the security area in an airport) has not enacted a mandatory carry law. Why? Well, apparently VPI, like many many other universities, has a no-guns policy. Now, it may not be a particularly useful policy to have, given that Virginia is the second-most gunhappy state in this gunhappy country (if the press is accurate, there are "domestic violence" incidents involving firearms in and around the campus every 6-8 months. I strongly suspect that their no-guns policy has managed to cut down the number of pistols on campus to maybe 5,000,) but that's what they have.

This is apparently (at least among the gun nuts who aren't blaming this massacre on feminism, conservation, or the Archie comic books) the reason why Mr. Shooty McEvil was able to murder 32 people. One could make an argument that this is simply magical thinking (I'd suspect that the gun nuts at VPI would carry anyway; if I thought that I had to carry *all the time* to be safe, I'd just carry despite what the university regulations said) by people who would react to a mass murderer by collapsing into a foetal position, but it seems to me that they're starting to argue on the same side as the passionate gun control advocates.

How's that, you might ask?

Well, it's like this. Virginia has a lot of guns, so you'd think that by the incredibly dimwitted guns == safety argument that the gun nuts use it would be barkingly safe. But, no, it's apparently so unsafe to live in chock-full-of-guns Virginia that private concerns should not be allowed to regulate access to their property.

If firearms were this dangerous, perhaps it would be easier to just ban them, no? I feel that one of the benefits of living in a civilized society is that I don't have to carry if I don't want to. If the price of free access to firearms is that I have to carry one all the time, I'd just do without the free access to firearms and resign myself to the almost complete lack of gun crime that most of the rest of the first world enjoys.

Mind you, this hysterical scenario that's being pushed by the gun nuts (and I must say I'm particularly appalled at attempts to blame the victim here) is completely untrue; there is no small amount of data that seems to indicate that the increase in violent mortality in states where everyone carries is pretty small (it's certainly there, but I recall it being something like a 10-15% increase in mortality, which still leaves approximately 375% difference between Switzerland and the paragon of security that is the United States) and it's just that the USA is hyper-violent, and would most likely remain hyper-violent even if all the guns were taken away and people had to revert back to being suicide bombers for their murder/suicide sprees. But, alas, gun nuts are ignorant, so they'll just keep reinforcing the gun control arguments in their own little dimwitted way.

(Want to comment? Please keep in mind that
  1. I have a comment policy,
  2. I have very little tolerance for arguments that cite L*tt, KKl*yt*n Kr*m*r, or their ilk
  3. I have even less tolerance for people who call me a gun grabber. It was fun trolling the gun nuts of alt.peeves 10 years ago, but I'm older and grumpier these days.

1 comment


I'm cleaning out my home directories at my soon to be ex workplace, and, lord, I managed to accumulate a lot of crap over the last three and a half years.

I guess I'll just shovel the files down to pell and dump it into my POB folder, where it can join the big pile of tarballs that I've accumulated over the last 25 years.

And I still remember (and have) a machine where I haven't even filled up a 80mb disk. A linux machine, even, dating back from the days where the linux kernel source code wasn't 250 mb.

(And why am I cleaning out my home directories now? Why, that's easy; if I go to sleep, that means when I wake up I have to go to work. And I really don't want to work there anymore.)

Apr 18, 2007

Goodbye, Roe v. Wade.

How to make women cattle, in four easy steps:

  1. Make up an imaginary abortion technique.
  2. Pass a law outlawing it.
  3. Appoint compliant bagmen to the US Supreme Court.
  4. Declare that this law outlawing an imaginary abortion technique is legal.

One consequence, of course, will be that the number of abortions in the USA will go up because now that the fundamentalists have managed to get Roe v. Wade overturned (and that's what it is; if you can pass laws banning made-up procedures, you can use that law to prosecute basically anything you want) they'll be able to start going after other forms of birth control and will thus force more women into having those oh-so-safe illegal backalley abortions. But the number of abortions was never a concern. No, the "problem" was that if women can control their own bodies, that makes them equal to men, and if there's one thing that fundamentalists want, it's to make women (as well as anyone else who doesn't fit into the procrustean bed of the patriarchy. But, to be honest, that's a little something extra; the main reason is to put the boot to women) less than human.

1 comment

Apr 16, 2007

More like this, please.

A few years ago, after the US branch of the Anglican Church (the US branch is, of course, the Episcopal Church) decided to embrace simple human decency by openly accepting their gay flock, the more reactionary branches of the worldwide Anglican Church (led by a bunch of bishops who don't really care about those annoying human rights that some scruffy Jewish rabbi lectured at length about a couple of thousand years ago) had bunches and bunches of kittens, then started sending spittle flecked "you must cast out teh gay right now or we'll take our toys and go home" missives to the head of the church.

Who, in a spectacular case of cowardice (this fellow hasn't even met with anyone from the US Episcopal Church,) buckled and told the US that they have to cast teh gay out immediately or there will be severe consequences.

So far it's the usual script of "church does decent thing, fundamentalists have a screaming fit, church tucks its tail between its legs and cravenly backs down." But, wonderfully enough, the US Episcopal Church didn't want to play this script, and when the diktat from Canterbury was delivered, the leadership of the Episcopals said no. And, better yet, they voted to say no at a meeting in Texas, of all places.

You don't know how much this cheers me up. Sure, the United States may have become a petty dictatorship where torture is the norm, and it may have become a nasty Hobbesian state where the government's reaction to a horrible disaster is to whip out the fiddles, but every time I see some Christians actually acting like Christians instead of brownshirts with Bibles it makes me think that there's actually a chance this country will survive its latest brush with totalitarianism.

(ObCanadaContent: The Canadian branch of the Angelicans has not voted on whether to tell Canterbury to go away or not yet, but the Star claims that it's very likely that they'll tell the fundamentalists to go away as well. This is a nice change from watching the ongoing Evil Party capture of the Canadian government.)

(link from Scott Tribe, via Slap Upside the Head)

1 comment

Apr 15, 2007

It must be a Sith thing.

Darth Vader has his hyperbaric chamber where he has to scuttle away to whenever he wants some time alone. Perhaps that was an artifact of being julienned by his ex-teacher, but when I read about Darth Cheney's little hideaway, I begin to wonder:

Airstreamís appeal seems to have few limits, and indeed a powerful world traveler recently provided proof of its persistent appeal. On a trip to Asia in February, Vice President Dick Cheney traveled in an Airstream ó inside an airplane.

A mobile home trailer. In a C17. It's bad enough that the Air Force is naming the C17 the "Spirit of Strom Thurmond" (I suppose calling it "Executor" would have been a bit of a giveaway), but using it to carry a trailer? Either (a) Darth Cheney is even more batshit insane than I thought, or (b) he's one of the aliens from V and he wants a little hideaway so he can peel off his Jabba the Hutt suit and relax.

(Batshit insanity via The Poor Man)

Apr 13, 2007

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Okay, HAL, I see your point. Let's just close the pod bay door and tiptoe quietly away from it.

Apr 12, 2007


We've been thinking about flying back east this year for a summer vacation, so (since I've been hearing about just how spectacularly polluting airplane travel is) I decided that I'd hunt down a bunch of CO2 calculators and figure out just how much CO2 we'd be dumping into the atmosphere.

We don't do much driving, and we've pretty heavily chopped away at electrical usage in our house, so without airplane travel we dump a little less than 8 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. That's too much for my tastes (five tons of that is from our (oil) heat) but it's still substantially less than the average. But when I add a single roundtrip for the family from Portland to Greensboro NC [2700 miles * 2 (roundtrip) * 4 (people) == 21600 air miles], it shoots up to twenty-two tons of CO2 in our personal carbon fountain.

And a large chunk of that additional 14 tons of CO2 will be ejected directly into the stratosphere, where it can help spread global warming goodness in the most efficient manner.

Flying steerage is pretty grim. Dealing with the security theatre that the Department of Homeland Hysteria is putting on is pretty grim. But having one holiday trip almost triple our carbon emissions just takes all the fun out of flying anywhere.

(Sure, we could take the train. It would take 140 hours r/t [airplane takes 12 hours r/t] and it would cost us US$4000.00 if we got a family bedroom. It wouldn't dump nearly as much carbon into the air, but, um, I don't think we could buy enough valium to keep from having mental breakdowns after hour 7 of the 70 hour RAILROAD EXPEDITION FROM HELL ITSELF. I don't think it's really a feasable alternative. We could also drive, but (a) I'd have to get a drivers license and (b) it would take 14 DAYS r/t if we wanted to be able to periodically stop so the bears could run around and keep from going insane as the mighty Prius crept slowly and painfully across North America.)

I can see the appeal of being a global warming denialist. Putting my hands over my ears and screaming "LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU AND AL GORE IS FAT!" has the advantage that I wouldn't have to think about doing my part of causing runaway global warming every second I'm in the air.


They’re not thinking big enough…

A financial question was posed in a comment thread @ Making Light:

...If you suddenly had $11,000,000,000 cash, what the hell would you do with it?

I dunno. US$11 billion just doesn't seem to be that much money, does it? I've seen estimates that a manned spaceflight to Mars would cost US$100 billion, so that's out. But even with (heh) only US$11 billion, that's enough money to toss half a billion aside from some bright fund managers to generate an endless stream of money to live on and be left with over US$10 billion to, oh,

  • buy a regional railroad and (re)electrify it (most of the Oregon Electric still exists, and a largish chunk of BCER does [BCER could probably be purchased and electrified for a couple of billion, which would leave US$7-8 billion to put into a lobbying fund to convince the SoCred morons who run BC into pursuing a more environmentally sound governing policy. Sure, it could also be used to underwrite a lefty political party, but, really, the SoCred people are small-fish conservatives and could be bought by post-collapse Enron, for christ's sake. The lure of half a billion of lobbying money PER YEAR would be like chumming the waters there,])
  • buy a smallish chunk of Manhattan Island and lobby City Hall to not charge a billion a year in taxes (If I went far enough north on Central Park I might even be able to buy a city block for under a billion, which would be nice for Central Park frontage),
  • go into the global warming denialist denialist business (see my previous comment about conservatives. The companies that pay for global warming denialists are really cheap, and I could probably swing 90% of the denialists around without seriously impacting cashflow,
  • Perhaps I could start buying timberland and just taking it out of production until the trees got large enough to log. You get some really good wood if you let the trees grow for a millenia or so, so I'd have to set up a "if the biosystem doesn't explode, all this will be your great^30 grandson's timberland" foundation and then just let the land sit as a nature reserve until then.
  • Oh, I suppose I could always buy a large chunk of New Hampshire and attempt to colonize the state with lefties. Leftists are much closer to the stereotypical "Live Free or Die!" NH resident (my father, who was born and raised in New Hampshire, is much more of a socialist that I am) than the pretend libertoonians who keep floating threats of "we'll colonize the state and make it into a corporate paradise!"
  • I suppose I could also spend that money on buying property in New Orleans, then going on a delta restoration frenzy while there's still some delta to restore. But the timeframe for that is really short, and as long as Maximum Leader Genius is in power any attempts to restore the delta would collide with the reality distortion zone that's enveloped the capitol, and the B*sh junta would not allow some penny-ante socialist to upstage the dauphin by getting something done.

Mind you, this is just me. The people who already have the US$11 billion don't really care about things like that; they're perfectly happy to buy more solid gold swimming pools so they can bathe in US$100 bills. Which is another thing you can do with US$11 billion, even if it's not something I'd want to do. But, anyway, there are plenty of things you can spend US$11 billion dollars on, if you just think about it.

Apr 11, 2007

Plunging towards being a third-world country, American style.

Jackson County is closing their library system. Why? Because nobody wants to pay for it. The Federal government, which was paying a subsidy in exchange for taking back land grants that were given to the Oregon and California RR, decided that US$7 million was TOO MUCH MONEY (after all, it takes the B*sh junta almost 40 minutes to transfer that much money to their good friends in the war profiteering industry), and the local taxpayers (Oregon is a state that loves rentiers, but hates public services) decided that wishing for the federal cash fairy was a better bet than continuing to support a library levy.

The sad thing is that it isn't much better elsewhere. Canada appears to be in the deadly clutches of their own bunch of (trained by the Evil Party, of course! The Evil Party can't govern worth shit, but they're spectacularly good at looting the public treasury, then fiddling while Rome burns) conservative con artists, and even the wealthy parts of the United States are being slowly crunched by tax transfers to poor but reliably Evil Party supporting states (Oregon, even though it's a reliably Evil Party supporting state once you get outside of Multnomah County, isn't actually reliable enough to get the big tax transfers that other parts of the country get. And, to make matters worse, Oregon is still natural resource heavy, so it's in the Evil Party's interest to keep the state poor so the citizens will accept the systematic resource stripping that the Evil Party has traditionally excelled at.)

But at least rentiers don't have to pay any taxes on their ill-gotten gains, and that's the important thing. So what if the USA will resemble a pre-Chavez Venezuela? The rich don't care that they're rich as much as they care that everyone else is poor.

Backwards compatability? Who needs it?

I got into work this morning for another day at the most exciting job in the world to discover that, to get ready for the New! Improved! 2.6 kernel port I'm working on, some of the system utilities have been, for no reason except that the 2.6 has the New! Improved! /sys filesystem (/proc with a new name, because some influential members of the core team loathe the /proc name), been modified so that they read data out of /sys instead of /proc.

And what are they reading out of /sys?  SCSI device information. In fact, it's SCSI device information that still lives in /proc/scsi/scsi. Where the old utility can still read it without complaint.

Jesus wept.

Apr 10, 2007

How to burn 90 minutes in a particularly tasty fashion

The best went out to do some volunteer work this evening, and to occupy my grumpy eldest son, I suggested that he try to cook something. He picked chocolate sugar cookies (from the Moosewood Dessert Cookbook, of course) and, with minimal assistance, cooked up a batch of cookies.

This was the first cooking recipe he's done, and the cookies are very tasty.

Chomp Chomp, Yum Yum!

Apr 07, 2007

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Yesterday, I

  1. worked half the day
  2. went to the Lego store with the bears, discovered that last friday's Brickfest midnight excursion had not cleaned out the bins of old lego stuff, and took minor advantage of that (the pieces have already been all used up. You'd think I'd learn and get twice as much as I need, but, no, I keep trying to be sensible, only to discover, too late, that my stomach is bigger than my eyes.
  3. went to my parent's house for Silas's family birthday party, where he got even more legos.
  4. dragged the exhausted hyperactive children home, shovelled them into bed, sorted the soon-­to-­be-­used-­up legos, then collapsed

Today, I

  1. helped bathe the bears (they can bathe themselves, but they tend to do it at a rather more leisurely rate than we had time for today.)
  2. went to the Westmoreland easter egg hunt.
  3. Assembled Silas's new lego X-wing (the one on the left.)
  4. shovelled the bears into their grandparent's car so they could go to another egg hunt while the best and I got things ready for...
  5. Silas's friends birthday party, which was up by the Zoo, and which was an absolute hell of excitedly screaming children packed into a tiny echoey room
  6. packed out all of the stuff that we brought up to the birthday party, then brought it all home
  7. helped Russell build some legos, then, finally...
  8. Realized that I'd forgotten about Friday Dust Mite Blogging!

Well, that was silly. And easy to fix.

Apr 06, 2007

Oh, and this is the weakened report???

"The authors lost," one scientist told journalists. "A lot of authors are not going to engage in the IPCC [the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] process any more. I have had it with them." Scientists walked out of the talks at one stage and several lodged protests.

The weakened report says that

  1. Up to 30% of species studied face "an increased risk of extinction_" if temperatures climb by 1.5-2.5c. (If the temperature rise is >4c, they up the ante to "significant extenctions around the globe")
  2. By 2050, wet areas will get 10-40% wetter. Dry and drought affected areas will get 10-30% drier.
  3. Increased damage from flooding and erosion (made more fun by people settling along the coasts.)

Hmm. I wonder what the uncensored draft says, or if it's just 450 pages of OH MY GOD WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! RUN FOR THE POLES! RUN FOR THE POLES! ?

The thing is that you know that the uncensored draft copies are going to leak out into general circulation, so what's the point of chicken-littling the thing? Holding your breath until you turn blue might be a popular threat in the under 10 crowd, but it never works, and it's certainly not going to work while the world is hopping into a handbasket and heading for the express elevator to points down.

Perhaps they're trying to give the climate-change denialists a chance to change their increasingly stupid sounding "THERE'S NO GLOBAL WARMING!!!!! (holds breath)" into a creationist-style "G-d hates us for allowing evolution to be taught, so we're all going to die and it's the environmentalists fault" pretend-excuse.

Stratovolcano picture of the day

Mount Hood picks up a bit of afternoon sun as a high-altitude bank of clouds looms over it.

Five years of a bear

Happy Birthday, Sweet bear!

Apr 05, 2007

Casualties of Brickfest

Last weekend, along with going up to the Zoo for our weekly ration of Yar!, we also stopped in for the public day at Brickfest 2007 (I was thinking about going to the whole thing, but decided not to when I realized that there was no way I'd get the lego vacuum finished in time for the show [it's a lot further along than it was on 2/28, but it's still a work in progress.]) We spent most of the time we were there looking at the big lego display, but we made a few raiding runs into the seething pit of mercantile chaos surrounding the dealer tables. We walked out with mainly little things (a small handful of girl hair, a few shields and helmets, a couple of random people parts) but there was one item that kept calling my name:


The intersection between Lego minifigs and the Star™ Wars™ world is kind of funny. The Lego Group dribbles out small runs of each kit, and as the kits go out into the marketplace they are descended on by swarms of collectors. Poor Greedo, a particularly dimwitted bounty hunter, showed up briefly in the first movie where he was shot dead when he attempted to threaten the wrong protagonist. But, despite his short and inglorious career, he managed to make his way into one lego set, which vanished with the traditional giant sucking sound into the hands of the dealers and collectors, and now, if you can even find his winsome face, you'd think he was made of solid gold for the prices he sells for.

So when I found him sitting in a dealer's booth at the public showing, I had to walk away.

And then I found myself walking back. But, no, I had to walk away. It wouldn't be prudent, doncha know.

Aaaaaaaand then I found myself walking back. And before I knew it, my wallet had been lightened and I'd become just another casualty of Brickfest.

I didn't know whether to be shocked or relieved when I discovered that the Brickfest price was less than half of the cheapest bricklink price. But Greedo is just so cute that I just couldn't help myself.

Oh, how could I have forgotten

Apparently the 26th is "Take Your Children To Work Day™". I'd forgotten all about it. And it's really a shame that I forgot about it, because, as the flier says:

This program is designed to expand opportunities for girls and boys, expose them to what adults in their lives do during the work day, show them the value of their education, and give them an opportunity to envision their future. Participating in a workplace, even for a day, is an extremely valuable learning experience that is directly connected to what children learn at school. A workplace visit can make what they are learning in the classroom come alive.

"Envision their future" ? Sure, if you can envision a boot stamping on your face forever. No, no, I don't really want to drive my children to suicide before they turn 10. I'd rather maintain the illusion that you can be successful by sheer force of skill instead of by wedging themselves into the old boys network and letting social connections lift them to a successful life. And if I do it properly, they'll think that being shoved into some ivy league school back east will be their idea instead of their parents frantically trying to ensure that they'll end up in a social strata that isn't routinely pissed on by the sociopathic rich.

And they've probably already got enough valuable learning experiences about my line of work (and by valuable, I mean terrifying; Silas isn't old enough to remember the fun two and a half years of unemployment, but Russell may be,) and will hopefully decide to go into something that has some future.

If I'd had a workplace visit to my future job when I was a kid, I would have given up and become a hobo on the spot. I'll spare them the horror.

Apr 04, 2007

Non-trolley photos of the day

A boatyard crane and the new OHSU building were framed by trees when I walked south along the ex-Red Electric ROW this afternoon.

The view from Macadam, looking east under the Ross Island Bridge.

Life on the River (#15)

The Ross Island Sand & Gravel tugboat heads south past a fisherman's boat this afternoon.

Trolley pictures of the day

It was warm and sunny this afternoon, and, for a change, I didn't have to go home immediately after work, so I spent 45 minutes walking down to the Gibbs St. trolley terminal after I left work at 5:00:00pm today.

For some reason, the City of Portland ran the new trolley line between the Red Electric ROW and the street, so the old ROW has become a nice place to walk while taking pictures. I fully expect that this land will soon be eaten up and converted into hideously expensive condominiums (the city will give the land to the PDC, which will then value it at -$2million or so, then hand it over to some developer who will use the bogus valuation to use non-union labor to build the crappy things), but for now it's a shady lane that you can use to pretend that the trolleys are out in the country.

The north end of the Red Electric ROW doesn't have any trees on it, so it gives a really good view of Orange-Green as it heads south on the (half-mile) bit of private ROW.

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Apr 03, 2007

Not Science Fiction

New Horizons takes a parting snapshot of Io and Europa

If someone had shown me this picture when I was a kid, it would have been impossible to convince me that it was anything other than a painting like you'd find on the cover of Analog (a magazine that, despite occasionally wandering off into some incredibly stupid pseudoscience, had a house style that very closely resembled this photo.) If you'd said "no, really, it's a picture that was sent back from an Earth spaceship," I would have laughed and made rude comments regarding ponies.

Well, things have changed and pictures like this are starting to become routine. This is a picture that New Horizons took a month ago as it headed away from Jupiter on the next stage of its trip out to Pluto and the Kuiper belt. There may not be any Martian princesses in our solar system, and Venus has proven to be just a little bit too warm to have the jungles that ERB wrote about, but there are still wonderful things that, provided we don't kill ourselves with global warming, my children might actually have a chance to see up close one day.

(via James Nicoll)

So, just how do you say “Damn, that’s fast!” in French?

574.8 km/h, and, once again, the French take the high speed record. (Meanwhile, back in the self proclaimed Technological Center Of The Universe, we still can't run our trains much over 200 km/h (and to do that we need to use Alstom-derivative trainsets.)

I think the fastest I've ridden in a train was about 300km/h (in France, of course,) but that doesn't seem very fast anymore.

Update:I changed the video link to point at gootube; the previous link appears to have dropped some sort of link hijacker (trying to point random urls through "", which, at least from the discussion I've seen online, has been accused of being involved with clickthrough fraud. might be as pure as the morning dew, but I don't like losing connectivity because some link hijacker is bouncing connections through it.)

Apr 02, 2007

Bear photo of the day

A grizzly bear at the Washington Park Zoo

A grizzly bear looks for a place to take a nap after Sunday's pirate concert at the Washington Park Zoo.

Apr 01, 2007

Steam Locomotive picture(s) of the day

When we went down to the Zoo this afternoon, we expected to see Captain Bogg & Salty and the new brown bear exhibit. It was a surprise to hear a steam whistle blowing while we were eating a quick lunch, and to see the steam engine switching a train out of the station yard and back to the station platform as we started walking down to the bandshell for our afternoon ration of Yar!

Having a steam engine looping around the park was a distraction, but a nice one, when I was taking pictures of the performance.

WP&Z OREGON Taking on water at the station WP&Z OREGON Charging uphill near the bandshell WP&Z OREGON Crossing the road to the bear/cougar/elk/eagle exhibits

Yar! at the Zoo

We went up to the Zoo today to look at the new exhibits and see Capt. Bogg and Salty do a 2:30pm concert.

We did get to see the new exhibits (including the cougar exhibit, which had a BIG warning sign that said, more or less, "we're throwing cadavers to the animals, so if you're squeamish you'd be better off just backing away slowly." But by the time we got there the cougars had already eaten their fill and, as cats tend to do, had collapsed into heaps for their daily 20-hour nap,) but the first order of business was to go and listen to some music.

We got there fairly late, so we missed the first part of the concert (we walked in in the middle of I'm A Pirate, and by that time the crowd was big enough so that we ended up over on one side of the moshpit, and I didn't feel that it would be a good idea to worm through the crowd to get good photo angles. The bears didn't care; they came for the music, and were quite happy with where we sat. I did some scrambling around to get better stage angles -- the shell is easy to get around from the back -- but spent most of the time sitting down and taking pictures from the moshpit floor) but even a fractional concert is a Good Thing to see.

Oddly enough, I managed to get quite a few more pictures of Ramshackle than I did of Sunny Jim, which was a bit of a feat considering that the drum set was set up approximately 400 meters back from the rest of the band:

As an aside, I managed to find out who was in the Jellydots' unidentified backing band at the Grease Ball, because I saw them at this concert:

The unidentified backing band for the Jellydots at the Grease Ball

I still don't know the name of the unidentified backing band, though, so my previous comment is still half-valid.



Obéir c'est trahir, Désobéir c'est servir