The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, July 09, 2001

The Peeing Car IV—The Second Dealership!

Okay, the fourth time I've taken the car back for the same problem: the AC is leaking inside the car. This time, instead of going to the dealership down the street I'm taking it to the dealership I got the car at (at the recomendation of my friend Greg who helped me get the car). Spring was expecting the worse to happen, but it went smoothly. We even got a loaner car! Well, it's a Jeep Cherokee and not a car, but that went quite smoothly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2001

“Oh, you mean I NEED the IDE drivers?”

A few days ago I recieved an old network card and I've just now finished installing it in the firewall system. I had two cards in there, one hooked up to the DSL equipment and one for the local network. I wanted a third one in there to separate the network between myself and my roommate. No real reason other than to do it and just see how much I can trick out an old 486 Compaq computer.

Problem number one: Identifying the network card. Mark helped there; depending on how it's configured (via jumpers as I found out) it shows up as either a WD80x3 or an NE2000 clone.

The other two cards (important later on) are a 3Com503 (for the internal network and yes, I realize it's an old card) and an NE2000 compatible (for the external connection to the DSL unit) that I can't change the settings on because it's software configurable and I don't have the software (MS-DOS only of course) to change the configuration. Pitty—I find those cards all over the place!

Problem number two (and this is the embarresing one): don't forget to include the IDE drivers when compiling the Linux kernel!

Transfer the new kernel and install. Shut machine down. Install card. Bring machine up. See it find three network cards and immediately kernel panic because it can't mount the root partition.

Keep from having heart attack.

Boot old kernel (yes, I did have an option to boot the previous working kernel. Standard operating procedure around here). Good, it comes up and the filesystem is not corrupted at all. Try to reboot the new kernel.

Kernel panic trying to mount the root device.

Okay, something odd is going on here.

Since my roommate is home and knows Linux, maybe he can help me. I go to his room and start describing the problem when it hits me! I probably forgot to include the IDE drivers!

Sure enough, no IDE drivers.

D'oh! (Which I can now use since it's part of the Oxford English Dictionary)

Problem number three: The 3Com503. It kept spewing these error messages about bogus packets. Probably some strange interaction with the WD80x3 driver I now have. Play around with the settings on the WD80x3 and that doesn't fix the problem.

Heck, I can reconfigure the 3Com since unlike the NE2000 it has jumpers. I change the 3Com to use I/O instead of shared memory and even though I get this message on boot-up:


3c503.c:v1.10 9/23/93  Donald Becker (becker@cesdis.gsfc.nasa.gov)
eth0: 3c503 at i/o base 0x330, node  02 60 8c d8 75 17, using internal xcvr.
eth0: 3c503-PIO, 16kB RAM, using programmed I/O (REJUMPER for SHARED MEMORY).

it works fine with the three cards.

I also changed the firewall settings to log all unused ports below 1022. I found out the hard way that Linux (2.0—it's too much work to upgrade to 2.2 or 2.4) seems to use 1023 as the first available port when making outgoing connections, instead of 1024. How odd.

Wednesday, July 11, 2001

The Peeing Car IVb—The Return!

Got the car back from the dealership today. The A/C should stop leaking into the passenger side. I hope.

A routing mess

Theoretically, TCP/IP packets don't have to take the same route but in real life all the packets travel the same path. Do two traceroutes and you'll see the same path.

But today, something seriously odd is going on with the Telocity network. I noticed some annoying network lags between my home system and my colocated server and did some traceroutes. And I got something I've never seen before: no two traceroutes (done seconds after each other) where the same!


[spc]linus:/usr/src/linux-2.0.39>/usr/sbin/traceroute tower.conman.org
traceroute to tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (10.0.0.1)  1.814 ms  1.737 ms  1.755 ms
 2  dsl-64-128-156-186.telocity.com (64.128.156.186)  3.196 ms  3.244 ms  3.321 ms
 3  route-64-131-188-129.telocity.com (64.131.188.129)  14.046 ms  14.042 ms  14.335 ms
 4  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  14.353 ms  15.842 ms  15.055 ms
 5  63.209.144.5 (63.209.144.5)  28.034 ms  15.807 ms  15.295 ms
 6  63.212.176.30 (63.212.176.30)  64.815 ms  64.130 ms  64.096 ms
 7  tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143)  63.686 ms  64.580 ms  65.116 ms
[spc]linus:/usr/src/linux-2.0.39>/usr/sbin/traceroute tower.conman.org
traceroute to tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (10.0.0.1)  1.811 ms  1.739 ms  1.814 ms
 2  dsl-64-128-156-186.telocity.com (64.128.156.186)  3.203 ms  3.250 ms  3.166 ms
 3  route-64-131-188-129.telocity.com (64.131.188.129)  14.206 ms  16.701 ms  14.037 ms
 4  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  55.927 ms  14.870 ms  15.310 ms
 5  pos8-1-hfr2.atl.tlct.net (216.227.126.17)  29.778 ms  27.010 ms  28.602 ms
 6  ge-v5-hfr1.atl.tlct.net (216.227.126.57)  26.929 ms  27.705 ms  26.858 ms
 7  pos8-1-hfr2.dfw.tlct.net (216.227.126.22)  72.251 ms  75.729 ms  73.677 ms
 8  ge-v5-hfr1.dfw.tlct.net (216.227.126.53)  74.153 ms  73.005 ms  75.141 ms
 9  pos8-1-hfr2.lax.tlct.net (216.227.126.161)  105.344 ms  107.666 ms  106.208 ms
10  ge-v5-hfr1.lax.tlct.net (216.227.126.49)  105.677 ms  105.910 ms  106.452 ms
11  pos8-1-hfr2.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.30)  132.903 ms  130.575 ms  125.659 ms
12  fe1-0-pbnap.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.169)  130.631 ms  124.767 ms  125.355 ms
13  ge-v5-hfr1.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.45)  119.255 ms  117.430 ms  125.996 ms
14  fe0-0-pbnap.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.165)  128.272 ms  130.919 ms  307.509 ms
15  * tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143)  64.129 ms  65.449 ms
[spc]linus:/usr/src/linux-2.0.39>/usr/sbin/traceroute tower.conman.org
traceroute to tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (10.0.0.1)  1.800 ms  1.755 ms  1.731 ms
 2  dsl-64-128-156-186.telocity.com (64.128.156.186)  3.212 ms  3.170 ms  3.230 ms
 3  route-64-131-188-129.telocity.com (64.131.188.129)  13.544 ms  14.038 ms  12.598 ms
 4  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  15.749 ms  14.805 ms  15.291 ms
 5  pos8-1-hfr2.atl.tlct.net (216.227.126.17)  31.635 ms  28.690 ms  28.623 ms
 6  ge-v5-hfr1.atl.tlct.net (216.227.126.57)  27.187 ms  28.049 ms  28.120 ms
 7  pos8-1-hfr2.dfw.tlct.net (216.227.126.22)  74.507 ms  73.200 ms  72.905 ms
 8  ge-v5-hfr1.dfw.tlct.net (216.227.126.53)  72.751 ms  73.105 ms  75.415 ms
 9  pos8-1-hfr2.lax.tlct.net (216.227.126.161)  106.234 ms  106.130 ms  106.299 ms
10  ge-v5-hfr1.lax.tlct.net (216.227.126.49)  105.595 ms  106.418 ms  106.217 ms
11  pos8-1-hfr2.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.30)  135.297 ms  128.321 ms  126.335 ms
12  fe1-0-pbnap.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.169)  118.552 ms  130.986 ms  126.928 ms
13  ge-v5-hfr1.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.45)  114.866 ms  117.073 ms  124.424 ms
14  fe0-0-pbnap.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.165)  127.696 ms  130.745 ms  125.977 ms
15  * pos8-1-hfr2.atl.tlct.net (216.227.126.17)  191.308 ms *
16  * tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143)  101.322 ms  100.327 ms
[spc]linus:/usr/src/linux-2.0.39>/usr/sbin/traceroute tower.conman.org
traceroute to tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (10.0.0.1)  2.492 ms  1.769 ms  1.748 ms
 2  dsl-64-128-156-186.telocity.com (64.128.156.186)  4.209 ms  3.150 ms  3.165 ms
 3  route-64-131-188-129.telocity.com (64.131.188.129)  14.623 ms  13.612 ms  15.036 ms
 4  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  31.694 ms  16.130 ms  15.292 ms
 5  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  15.440 ms  15.476 ms  16.583 ms
 6  pos8-2-hfr1.was.tlct.net (216.227.126.217)  41.190 ms  62.272 ms  41.618 ms
 7  fe0-0-mae-east.was.tlct.net (216.227.126.109)  47.128 ms  40.831 ms  40.425 ms
 8  at0-0-0-170.br1.WDC2.gblx.net (208.49.231.89)  51.271 ms  40.997 ms  41.915 ms
 9  pos2-0-155M.cr2.WDC2.gblx.net (208.178.174.61)  41.269 ms  41.624 ms  41.947 ms
10  pos1-0-622M.cr1.ATL1.gblx.net (206.132.115.94)  57.903 ms  57.344 ms  58.573 ms
11  pos5-0-0-155M.ar1.TPA1.gblx.net (208.178.116.34)  91.555 ms  93.025 ms  93.167 ms
12  Customer.s4-0-0.ar1.TPA1.gblx.net (64.212.109.138)  99.760 ms  98.111 ms  216.351 ms
13  tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143)  101.450 ms  102.368 ms  101.038 ms
[spc]linus:/usr/src/linux-2.0.39>/usr/sbin/traceroute tower.conman.org
traceroute to tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (10.0.0.1)  1.770 ms  1.852 ms  1.705 ms
 2  dsl-64-128-156-186.telocity.com (64.128.156.186)  3.175 ms  3.220 ms  3.290 ms
 3  route-64-131-188-129.telocity.com (64.131.188.129)  12.757 ms  13.936 ms  14.244 ms
 4  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  15.600 ms  16.065 ms  13.803 ms
 5  pos8-1-hfr2.atl.tlct.net (216.227.126.17)  27.430 ms  28.691 ms  28.694 ms
 6  ge-v5-hfr1.atl.tlct.net (216.227.126.57)  27.660 ms  26.413 ms  26.573 ms
 7  pos8-1-hfr2.dfw.tlct.net (216.227.126.22)  74.026 ms  82.005 ms  73.880 ms
 8  ge-v5-hfr1.dfw.tlct.net (216.227.126.53)  74.488 ms  73.386 ms  73.193 ms
 9  pos8-1-hfr2.lax.tlct.net (216.227.126.161)  105.209 ms  106.414 ms  106.708 ms
10  ge-v5-hfr1.lax.tlct.net (216.227.126.49)  107.248 ms  106.171 ms  127.723 ms
11  pos8-1-hfr2.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.30)  135.017 ms  127.588 ms  126.325 ms
12  fe1-0-pbnap.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.169)  133.066 ms  125.410 ms  128.867 ms
13  ge-v5-hfr1.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.45)  115.226 ms  121.554 ms  119.980 ms
14  fe0-0-pbnap.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.165)  130.603 ms  134.301 ms  130.845 ms
15  ge-v5-hfr1.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.45)  119.819 ms  130.060 ms  142.445 ms
16  fe0-0-pbnap.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.165)  139.018 ms  133.283 ms *
17  tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143)  102.361 ms  101.642 ms  100.291 ms
[spc]linus:/usr/src/linux-2.0.39>/usr/sbin/traceroute tower.conman.org
traceroute to tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (10.0.0.1)  1.740 ms  1.757 ms  1.728 ms
 2  dsl-64-128-156-186.telocity.com (64.128.156.186)  3.201 ms  3.244 ms  3.170 ms
 3  route-64-131-188-129.telocity.com (64.131.188.129)  13.510 ms  13.748 ms  14.303 ms
 4  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  14.592 ms  14.997 ms  14.759 ms
 5  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  17.374 ms  16.767 ms  16.539 ms
 6  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  16.462 ms  15.245 ms  14.954 ms
 7  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  14.788 ms  16.020 ms  16.619 ms
 8  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  15.897 ms  15.401 ms  16.995 ms
 9  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  16.266 ms  16.682 ms  15.344 ms
10  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  15.385 ms  16.295 ms  15.085 ms
11  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  16.568 ms  17.000 ms  16.552 ms
12  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  16.599 ms  17.155 ms  14.814 ms
13  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  14.799 ms  40.861 ms  18.034 ms
14  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  17.572 ms  91.453 ms  15.259 ms
15  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  23.225 ms  16.968 ms  16.886 ms
16  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  16.060 ms  17.160 ms  15.896 ms
17  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  15.333 ms  16.403 ms  25.721 ms
18  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  17.314 ms  15.686 ms  16.859 ms
19  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  23.482 ms  15.241 ms  15.339 ms
20  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  16.103 ms  16.605 ms  17.546 ms
21  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  15.845 ms  16.959 ms  18.241 ms
22  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  16.839 ms  15.091 ms  15.442 ms
23  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  15.910 ms  16.546 ms  16.501 ms
24  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  16.934 ms  16.800 ms  17.549 ms
25  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  17.931 ms  16.327 ms  16.082 ms
26  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  15.973 ms  16.469 ms  16.467 ms
27  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  52.760 ms  17.235 ms  15.509 ms
28  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  16.039 ms  16.770 ms  16.421 ms
29  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  15.857 ms  16.527 ms  17.723 ms
30  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  17.253 ms  18.240 ms  16.017 ms
[spc]linus:/usr/src/linux-2.0.39>/usr/sbin/traceroute tower.conman.org
traceroute to tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  janet (10.0.0.1)  43.666 ms  1.827 ms  1.813 ms
 2  dsl-64-128-156-186.telocity.com (64.128.156.186)  3.306 ms  3.232 ms  3.102 ms
 3  route-64-131-188-129.telocity.com (64.131.188.129)  14.623 ms  14.539 ms  14.481 ms
 4  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  65.600 ms  81.921 ms  58.918 ms
 5  vlan20-core2.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.34)  85.022 ms  14.867 ms  14.560 ms
 6  fe1-2-core1.mia.tlct.net (216.227.80.65)  119.265 ms * ge-v5-hfr1.atl.tlct.net (216.227.126.57)  46.996 ms
 7  pos8-1-hfr2.dfw.tlct.net (216.227.126.22)  73.053 ms  81.261 ms  94.668 ms
 8  ge-v5-hfr1.dfw.tlct.net (216.227.126.53)  105.210 ms  75.482 ms *
 9  209.246.152.61 (209.246.152.61)  80.207 ms  71.852 ms  72.419 ms
10  gigabitethernet5-0.core1.Dallas1.Level3.net (209.244.15.21)  71.978 ms  74.689 ms 
    ge-v5-hfr1.lax.tlct.net (216.227.126.49)  106.497 ms
11  pos8-1-hfr2.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.30)  133.156 ms  141.849 ms  134.666 ms
12  fe1-0-pbnap.sjc.tlct.net (216.227.126.169)  125.158 ms  117.098 ms  115.600 ms
13  pos2-1-paix.pao.tlct.net (216.227.126.210)  115.742 ms  121.505 ms  162.642 ms
14  gblx-px.pao.tlct.net (64.192.16.14)  124.839 ms  117.256 ms  124.204 ms
15  so1-0-0-622M.cr1.pao2.gblx.net (208.50.169.141)  122.668 ms  126.308 ms  138.030 ms
16  pos1-0-622M.cr1.HOU1.gblx.net (206.132.116.126)  121.666 ms  132.773 ms  124.458 ms
17  * pos0-0-155M.ar1.TPA1.gblx.net (206.132.116.98)  151.364 ms *
18  Customer.s4-0-0.ar1.TPA1.gblx.net (64.212.109.138)  158.682 ms  246.846 ms  158.229 ms
19  tower.conman.org (66.33.1.143)  161.658 ms  163.065 ms  161.680 ms
[spc]linus:/usr/src/linux-2.0.39>

Got to see major network rerouting at work here. From 7 to 19 hops no less! Sheesh!


An FTP mess

Spring has been having difficulty FTPing to her site. Her computer is currently sitting behind a firewall, so to use FTP she has to use passive mode.

But … her web host has stuck the FTP server behind a firewall, where it doesn't work in passive mode.

So, she can't FTP to her web host.

I wasn't sure how to configure ProFTPD to do FTP proxying, so I downloaded jftpgw, an FTP proxy. I wanted it to work in conjunction with ProFTPD, so it took some work (namely, getting ProFTPD to not bind to every IP address on the firewall, and setting up an extra IP address for the proxy FTP program to run on.

The contortions one must go through when you only have a single IP address.


The ruling jaunta strikes again

The Condo Commando's still hate Spring's van. This time it's not the fact that the van is covered, but that it's covered and parked in a guest spot! Apparently that's a no-no, even though it isnt' stated in the RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC. AMENDED March 22, 2000.

And I've still yet to sign any papers stating I have read and acknowledge the RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION, INC. AMENDED March 22, 2000 so they can XXXXXXXXXXX.

Sunday, July 15, 2001

“The Internet is broken!”

“My sites down again!” said Spring. “What is Russ doing?” Russ being the person that hosts her site (I offered, but she doesn't want to move the site. Can't say that I blame her.)

“Oh dear,” I said. “I may not be your site.” I'm sitting next to her in the Computer Room at my computer, attempting to check email. “Looks like there's something wrong with the network here.”

I switch over to the firewall. “I can still get out on the firewall.” I then tried to ping my machine from the firewall. Nothing. “That isn't good.” I then start crawling under the desks. “Could you watch that screen,” I said, pointing to the screen attached to the firewall, “and tell me when you see something pop up.” I left the ping program running.

“Okay,” she said.

Now, I'm running a 10Base-2 network here at the house. Primarily because I'm cheap (10Base-2 is also known as “cheapnet”) but also because most of my older equipment only has 10Base-2 connectors (or 10Base-5 but I have 10Base-5 to 10Base-2 transceivers—10Base-5 to 10-Base-T transceivers are very hard to find and also very expensive to a non-hardware hacker like me). One of the problems with 10Base-2—if one segment is bad the entire network is down.

So I spent the next fifteen minutes tracking down the bad segment, which went from the firewall to my computer (the next segment went from my computer to the 10Base-T hub which is where Spring's computer is plugged into). The cable seemed fine which meant that something was wrong with the card in my main machine.

Crap!

I got Spring squared away and back on the net, and took my computer apart, cleaned all the dust out of it (cough cough). Back together and Woo hoo! It works again!

Thankfully I don't have to find a new network card.

Monday, July 16, 2001

“Sheilds up! They're hitting us in DNS!”

I've noticed some very odd network activity recently here at the South Lab. At 8:02 pm EST yesturday I got slammed with DNS. For nine seconds I received an average of 10 requests per second for DNS resolution from 22 different IP addresses (an average of 4 requests per IP address).

Very odd.

But then, exactly 12 hours later, again, for nine seconds I received an average of 10 reqeusts per second for DNS resolution from 22 different hosts; the same hosts as 12 hours earlier.

Very odd …


The Lost Wages of the Ancient World

Jorn Barger, of RobotWisdom fame, has an interesting theory about the ancient Minoan culture—that it was the Las Vegas of the ancient world (which is my take on the theory and not Jorn's words at all). An interesting theory for sure. And would that mean that the famed maze at Knossos, which held the Minotaur (half man, half bull), was an attraction? “Survive the maze, and win fabulous prizes!”

Hmmmm …


The Lost Games of the Ancient World

And speaking of the Las Vegas of the Ancient World, recent archeological findings have brought to life some of the games they used to play there.

I'm guessing that betting on survivors of the Minatour Maze wasn't everybody's cup of tea back then.


Microsoft Madness

I was surprised to find “Property of Acme Widgets, 301-555-1212” in the .EXE file from 0x6000 to 0x14FFF. The compiler had obviously just grabbed a big chunk of disk space and stuffed it into the file, without bothering to clear it first.

Via RobotWisdom, Uncleared disk space and MSVC

Even scarier are the articles about Microsoft and nuclear material tracking. Shudder


Load Size

There are five settings on my washing machine for load size, ranging from small load to large load. I never know just how much makes a certain size load, and there's no guide telling me how many pounds of clothes (or to what level) constitutes a load size.

What? Like I know laundry?


Stop with the HTML in email already!

MSN Explorer 6.0

MSN Explorer Tech support states "that MSN Explorer and MSN.com send web-based HTML e-mail ONLY and cannot be configured to send plain text."

However, if you use MSN as your mail service (i.e., username@msn.com) you can simply go to Hotmail.com and send e-mail from there in plain text (via their so-called PASSPORT system). Same inbox, address book, etc.

You just have to remember to send or reply to POP3 and plain text e-mail from Hotmail and not from MSN. A real nuisance but at least an option.

Unfortunately the transfer to Hotmail from MSN e-mail takes you through 3 screens and requires you to reenter your password even if you checked the "remember my password" box.

Via CamWorld, Configuring Mail Clients to Send Plain ASCII Text

I'm currently on a mailing list where one of the members uses MSN for email and yes, it is very annoying to get email from that person in all HTML (when you are using an email client that doesn't support HTML and no, getting a new program is not the answer! (Anymore than forcing Microsoft Windows users to switch to something more sane, like Unix) It's nice to know there is a way that person can avoid sending HTMLized email, but somehow, given the instructions (and the @#$&@# attitude of Microsoft towards Internet standards and conventions) that this person will change.

Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Smoking—a retiree's civic duty!

Anti-smoking groups reacted angrily Tuesday to a report by cigarette giant Philip Morris that said tobacco could save a government millions of dollars in health care and pensions because many smokers die earlier.

Via Flutterby, Phillip Morris Report Attacked

Giggle. Sorry, but I found this quite amusing. Of course a tabacco company is going to say that! I mean, come on!

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

The Neverending Footnotes

Exit Strategy is a collaborative story where the main fiction has been written by Douglas Rushkoff, but footnotes are added by people going to the website. The story itself is set a few years in the future, but the footnotes are to be written as if it's 200 years further on and a bunch of archeologists and historians are annotating the book.

I'll skip the ethics of Douglas Rushkoff, who is expected to take the best footnotes and publish the result, giving the contributors a signed copy of the book (not all of which he wrote), but I find it neat that any portion of the book can be marked for connotation. You can even add footnotes to the footnotes and possibly even engage on a conversation with fellow anthropologists/historians.


The Peeing Car Part V—It Leaks Again!

Looks like I'll have to take the car back in for more A/C work. It's peeing again all over the passenger compartment.

Sigh.

Tuesday, July 24, 2001

I took Lake Lumina (as my friend Greg called it) to the dealership today to have them check out the A/C. The supervisor sighed when I told him the problem still persisted and that this is the fifth trip in to have it “fixed.”

I was waiting for him to

Thursday, July 26, 2001

Expensive Flutterbys

Before heading off to Oshkosh, Spring wanted to do something special and seeing how I live less than a mile from Butterfly World we decided to give the place a try.

I've been living next to Butterfly World for 10 years and I've never been there myself. So after lunch we headed on over to Butterfly World.

The place is currently being renovated so there's much construction going on. The main entrance is now on the side admist warning signs, exposed wiring and joists and conduits and sawdust. We snake our way around the exposed construction to the gift shop where you buy tickets into Butterfly World itself.

For US$13.50 per adult!

That's a bit more than we wanted to pay to see some crawling, flying insects so we made a quick tour around the giftshop (and it was your typical tourist trapish museumesque giftshop) and left.


The Standard Warentee Followup Questionaire, Part V

Each time I've had the car worked on for the A/C, a day or two later, the auto manufacturer of my car calls up with a followup survey asking me a few questions about the service.

This was the fifth time they called.

I'm now starting to answer the questions with “Can I get back to you on that?”


Oshkosh or Bust

Tonight is the night that Spring heads off to Oshkosh for AirVenture, a yearly convention of the aerospace industry. Greg got her tickets to attend, plus plane tickets. Spring is picking up Greg, then it's a three hour trip to Orlando to pick up their flight to Oshkosh. They'll be back sometime Sunday night or Monday morning.

And I'll spend the next few days catching up on stuff here.

Friday, July 27, 2001

Spodie's method of communication

I'm beginning to pick up on Spodie's preferred means of communication when he's peeved. He doesn't urinate on the carpet or clothes or anything. He'll meow. And if that doesn't work he'll start using his claws a bit more.

Like this morning. I'm sitting at the computer, replying to some email Spring sent me from Oshkosh when Spodie had to get to the top of Spring's monitor that instant, as quickly as possible.

And I was the spring board.

And he used his claws for traction, which not only punctured my pants, but punctured me in the process. It was just his little way of saying “Hey! Give me some food and clean the litter box while you're at it!”

What a pleasent experience it is to clean a cat's litter box.


“Now what?”

I'm not entirely sure what Spodie was peeved about this morning but for some reason he knocked his water bowl off the counter and onto the kitchen floor.

Sigh.

Could have been worse. He could have kicked the contents of his litter box out onto the kitchen floor.


My Hero—My Brother

For lunch my roommate Rob and I went to Tony Roma's. It's one of the few places we haven't tried around here and we figured “Hey! Why not?”

Along the wall near the booth was a collection of essays by local elementary school kids about their heros, and one particular one caught my attention:

My Hero

by Sean Conner

I hadn't realized I was in the first grade, nor that I had a brother.


Never laugh at stupid ideas

I needed to pick up some pet supplies for Spring's pets and the pet supermarket was across the street from Tony Roma's.

While there I saw what had to be one of the most inane items ever for a pet: dog gravy! Dog gravy! DOG GRAVY! Gravy you put on your pet dog's food! As I was telling Rob, “If they weren't making money off this stuff, they wouldn't make it.” Good Lord the profits these people are making off this stuff!

Saturday, July 28, 2001

An arresting wedding bath

I attended what could only be called a “wedding bath” today. My friend John Anstett is getting married in September (1ST of all days, so he's getting married on 9-1-1. Heh) but it's a very small ceremony and only a few very close friends and family are invited to the actual ceremony.

But in order to celebrate with all of his and his fiancé's friends, they're holding a party. And for a refreshing change, no one is expected to bring anything but themselves—no food, no presents, nothing.

I arrived to the club house to find police tape around the front door and chalk outlines on the driveway and no indication that a party was going on. Upon closer inspection, the chalk outlines all had smiley faces, and there was a poster on the front door congratulating John and Laura. So it appeared it was a theme party.

I entered, and John's brother Bob nailed me at the front door, took my mug shot and finger prints. Then I could enter the party. I did so, getting ink all over me as I attempted to clean it off with some goop that seemed to spread it more than remove it. I noticed that most people had red fingers and hands so it wasn't just me that had difficulty with the ink.

One game they had involved guessing the number of red hot candies in a clear red container. I had guessed 352 (big candies, very narrow container) which wasn't far off the real answer of 388. Alas I lost to a guess of 385.

Another game was matching up finger prints to mug shots, but I decided not to participate in that one, prefering to chat with people instead of peering intenting at Polaroids and smuged finger prints.


Requiem for a Fish

Survivor, a gold fish that survived a 1,200 mile trip south in a Tupperware container over several days, finally sucumed to an unknown disease today. He was found by his owner's boyfriend on his side wedged in between the side of the bowl and a statue of Neptune. He is survived by his owner Spring Dew and her cat, Spodie. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Memorial service and burial times to be announced.

Sunday, July 29, 2001

“So you wanna be in a Hong Kong Action Flick?”

Our normal Sunday game was called off, so Jeff Cuscutis (not to be confused with my other friend Jeff, aka JeffK) decided to play test another game called Fung Shui, which is a Hong Kong Action Film Role Playing Game (and not a Furniture Arrangement Role Playing Game as Jeff's fiancé likes to describe it).

The rules are set up to be very simple. There are only a few character classes to choose from (and you start with the pre-supplied template) and just like the movies, you can have it so you never run out of ammo (which I picked), can take out bad guys with a full cup of coffee (which my friend Kurt picked) and the hoards of nameless bad guys are all bad shots and are easy to pick off (which we both did).

It also encourages a cinematic style of play. Need to jump over a chest high shelf to avoid a wall of bullets in the convience store? Not a problem. Want to leap horizontally into the air firing two guns at a named villian in a crowded subway station? Go for it. The GM may even put the game into “bullet time” for you.

It's actually a perfect game for our Sunday group, who tend to shoot first and if we remember, maybe as a few questions later.


Tea with a Killer

It was a Hong Kong Action Film Theme Day Jeff Cuscutis, Kurt and I also watched John Woo's The Killer.

A disillusioned assassin accepts one last hit in hopes of using his earnings to restore vision to a singer he accidentally blinded, only to be double-crossed by his boss.

Plot outline from the Internet Movie DataBase

Guns and carnage a plenty in this film, but the best scene has to be at Jennie's (the singer) apartment. Two men, guns pointed at each other, carry on a civil conversation as Jennie serves them tea. The movie is worth it just for that scene alone.

Monday, July 30, 2001

Return of the Wayward Travellers

Spring and Greg returned from Oshkosh this morning. It seems their return flight was overbooked or missing or something silly like that and they ended up flying home on a different carrier, arriving back in Orlando later than they expected. And the drive back to South Florida happened in half hour spurts as they were too tired to really drive long distances.

I'm glad they made it back safely.

I'm also experiencing a bit of schadenfreude. Usually when I travel I have a miserable time doing the actual travelling while most (if not all) of my friends seem to enjoy travelling so it's a bit refreshing to see a travelling horror story happen to someone else.


1,000 Years

As suburban children we floated at night in swiming pools the temperature of blood; pools the color of Earth as seen from outer space. We would skinny-dip, my friends and me …

1,000 Years (Life After God) by Douglas Coupland

There is nothing quite like swimming on a hot muggy night in South Florida. The water tempurature is just right—enough to cool you off without having to suffer getting used to the tempurature.

Heaven.

And it's nice to have a friend like Mark who allowed Spring, Greg and I to swim in his pool at midnight.

Obligatory Picture

[Don't hate me for my sock monkey headphones.]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

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