Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Text Messaging Ban In Illinois

This cracks me up for so many reasons on so many levels. I am not sure I can be coherent in my explanation of why. I'm not sure where to start.

First, if you so desire, you can read the story from a reputable news source (I don't really know for sure that it's reputable).

I'm really opposed to laws to protect us from ourselves. I don't care how kind and thoughtful the politicians think they are being. It's not good.

In summary they want to write people tickets for $25 if they are walking across the street while texting. I admit that this is stupid, but to fine someone? I guess it's similar to jaywalking. Maybe it depends on how it's presented. It might be smarter for them to give the stupid people a ticket for impeding the flow of traffic.

Are the police in Illinois really so bored that they need something else to do? "Yeah, we've got a teen looks like they are about to cross the street and they just got a text message. Possible LOL in progress."

I kid you not, my beautiful wife was checking her text messages as we left the movie theater not too long ago and she ran head on into a pole. Then, she got mad at me for not warning her! Of course, I was giggling so maybe between the bump on the head and the sting of pride, it was my fault. And then I said, "Did you want me to warn you that you were being stupid for texting and walking or that there was a pole in your way?" The beatings are still in progress.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bennigan's Closing?

Say it ain't so!

It may come as a shock to you that I drink beer.

I don't drink just any beer. Most of the beer many of you think of when you hear the word beer is barely beer at all.

I never much cared for beer until I spent time in Germany. I think it's because I was always fed the barely beer that is mass produced here.

In the neck of the woods where I live, it's hard to find a pub that serves good beer. Most of the time, you go out to eat and say, "What do you have on tap?" and the reply is, "Coors Light, Miller Light, and Michelob Ultra". Then, you say, "No, I was asking for a beer list." Then you see the deer in the headlights look as the last gleam of hope disappears from your beer aspirations for the evening.

I could always trust Bennigan's to have at least one and normally several good beer options. They always have Guiness on tap. They'll normally have Harp and Bass Ale as well. Sometimes they'll have Smithwicks (one of my favorite Irish brews).

Ok. Now, place your hat on your head backwards and read carefully. I suspect the government is responsible for the Bennigan's demise. I know in Texas and in some cities in Texas we have insane alcohol laws. In Irving, they have some kind of crazy thing about bars must make at least 50% of their money from food sales. Or maybe no more than 40% of their income through alcohol sales. I'm not really sure the verbiage, but it's something along those lines. It's nearly impossible to find a good bar in Irving. Not too long ago, Irving was the destination of Texas law enforcement for an experimental operation where they would arrest people at bars for drinking too much. Some kind of bastardization of the public intoxication laws. They'd stash undercover officers in bars and arrest people that had more drinks than what some law maker considered reasonable. This wasn't looked upon too favorably by the beer drinking public.

A few years ago, the government told bars and eateries that if they wanted to allow smoking they had to have a smoking section and have it ventilated properly. I don't know how many millions of dollars big chains may have spent to upgrade their establishments for meet these requirements. Then, in the last couple of years, cities around the state have started banning smoking in building all together (Dallas is one such place). So, now you just write off the money you already spent? I know people that smoke and they won't go to a bar where they can't. They'll travel to another city if necessary.

The government just spent millions, maybe billions bailing out the sub prime mortgage criminals. Give Bennigan's some help. Don't deny us our right to drink good beer!

Monday, July 28, 2008


Rumor has it there is a new search engine in town that is going to directly compete with Google. CUIL.

I had to go and try it even though I don't see how it will ever survive. When I search for something on the Internet, I always tell people, "I Googled it". "I Cuiled it" just doesn't have the same ring. Before Google I was an altavista fan. I wonder if it still exists. It does!

Here are my results: Two posts below you will see something about Seagate and SATA and nvstor.sys. When I Google something along those lines on Google, my blog comes up first followed by 2 pages of related pages. When I Google this on CUIL, I get an error about the server being busy. When I Google this on AltaVista I get nothing, but suggestions about how to spell.

I like CUIL's ability to customize how the results are displayed, but Google is already one-upping this with their "experimental" version. I don't really know how anyone can compete with Google.

Immigration, Form 751 and Spouses

My wife's two years are up. I have the option of filling in form I-751 and sending it in to keep her here or not sending it in and the government has promised to send her back from whence she came. What to do?

Not really, I sent it in today. Those government forms are insane. I had to prove that we are actually married for love and not for convenience. Ever watch "Green Card"?

They also wanted $545. I had to make my check out to "US Department of Homeland Security". It felt kind of like bribe payout to a mobster. "If you don't give us the money, we'll bust you up real good." Because, they seriously say that if I don't pay up then they'll send her back to Germany.

I love our government. Then, we want them to amend the constitution to point out what marriage is. You can't get a friend into the country through a friendship VISA. It has to be a fiance VISA. I guess if you are gay and your lover is living in Spain, then you'll have to move to a state that recognizes gay marraige and bring them in on a fiance VISA. Will that work?

I figure they can cut down on immigrants by deeming marriages to certain nationalities unconstitutional. They'll make marriages between two men or two women unconstitutional and we all say, "Yeeehaaaa". Then, they'll say, well let's make it where we only recognize marriages between a woman born in America to a man born in America! It's not too much of a leap.

Of course, I kind of think they should loosen up on both. They could probably really cut income tax rates if they continue to extort globe trotting love birds. They should encourage gays to meet their mates overseas. It's cost me well over $1000 so far. They could finally balance the federal budget through the encouragement of gay foreign fiances (the GFF bill).

SATA, Western Digital, Seagate, nvstor.sys

So, as a hobby and for gaming, I put my own computers together. I think I'm pretty good at it.

In January of this year, I put together my first Vista system. Unlike most folks, I like Vista. It hasn't given me any problems.

The company I work for refuses to support Vista. So, if I want to work from home via VPN, I have to use XP. It's a travesty. I like working from home. I write/design software for a living and having a fast compiler is key. Each time I build a new computer it is about twice as fast as the last one. Without getting into the specifics, my new computer is very fast.

So, if I want to work from home I must use XP and I refuse to go back to my old computer running XP. So, I decide it won't be a problem installing XP and dual booting. People do it all the time, right?

For two products, from the same company, these guys don't play well together (XP & Vista). I finally managed to get it working. I put XP on an old hard drive and left Vista alone on my new hard drive. Everyone was happy for many months.

In July, I moved to a new house. The first thing I do is setup my computers because when Gar's Computer aren't working, Gar's not working and my wife wanted me to work (unload boxes of dishes and other useless stuff).

The old drive with XP started exhibiting problems that are normally indicitive of hardware failure (BOOT Drive not readable type things). It was an older drive so I just decided to order a new one. I order 98% of my computer supplies from Newegg. I trust them.

So, I went shopping at newegg. I just looked for the first 250 gig drive I could find that had a 5 egg rating. It was a Western Digital for $59. Not bad. I ordered it.

When it arrived, I took some time off of my busy dish unloading routine to install it and start the XP installation. I had done it once before so I knew the tricks. Since I was busy unloading dishes, I would let it do the installation while I was in the kitchen.

I returned to check on it and it had rebooted and XP was "checking drive C for errors" and was about 75% done destroying my original hard drive! I went into panic mode (read: I hit the main power switch). I turned on one of my old computers and did a Google. I think something like, "SATA Western Digital Seagate XP Vista". One of the first pages that came up talked about this little known problem with dual booting XP and Vista where XP will corrupt the Vista installation. It's only been documented using the WD 250 (the one I had), but they recommended hiding the Vista installation from XP. I wish someone had told me about 30 minutes sooner.

I start playing dramatic horror stories in my head about losing all my emails and tax statements and pictures and and and. I don't backup as often as I should. I've got good intentions. I just never get around to it. How can I get the data off of my Seagate drive without damaging it further? It's impossible for me to boot into Vista. XP hosed it real good. So, I think, I'll boot into XP (without letting it check drive C for errors) and just copy the files off of C onto something else.

XP really doesn't like drive C. It's can't read it at all. It can see the contents, but it won't let me copy the files. I can't remember all the different errors I was getting, but suffice it to say that I would have been there for 24 hours trying to get a few directories copied.

So, I think, I'll install Vista on the new drive and use it to copy the files off of drive C. Remember, drive C is the Seagate, the new drive is the Western Digital.

I kid you not, I tried for 8 hours to install Vista on the new drive. The best I can tell SATA has controllers and ports. So I have two controllers and 4 ports. I can disable controllers which disables 2 ports at a time. The initial setup was Controller 1 has Seagate on port 1 and DVD player on port 2. I have to have the DVD player to install (Vista comes on a DVD). Controller 2 has Western Digital on port 1 (they call it port 3), and port 4 is empty.

Every time Vista starts expanding the installation files on the Western Digital, it crashes about 20 minutes into it. You get the blues screen of death and the message about "if this is the first time..." which is ironic. Then, down at the bottom, it blames nvstor.sys.

Nvstor.sys is an nvidia driver used by Microsoft to read SATA drives that are on the nvidia SATA controller. My motherboard is an nvidia chipset so I can kind of see the pieces falling into place.

I don't know if I can tell you all the different things I tried. I went to nvidia's website and downloaded new drivers for Vista (if nvstor.sys is the cuplrit, then replace it with a newer model). This didn't work. I tried upgrading my BIOS on my motherboard. This didn't work. I tried removing all but one stick of memory. This didn't work. I tried resetting BIOS settings to their "safe" defaults. This didn't work. I tried removing the Seagate drive putting the Western Digital drive on port 1. This didn't work. I tried disabling controller 2. This didn't work.

After countless hours, I finally removed the Western Digital Drive all together and put the Seagate drive back where it was. Vista was installed and running 15 minutes later.

I went back to Newegg and requested an RMA. They are going to charge me a $9 restocking fee. I don't really know if they should restock it. Maybe the hard drive really is defective. I don't know if Western Digital has a problem with my motherboard or if they have a problem with NVidia's SATA controller or if I just got unlucky with a slightly bad hard drive. It's strange I was able to install XP on it to begin with. When I was looking up the RMA on newegg, I noticed that they had my Seagate drive on sell for $59. It's also a 250 gig hard drive and it has a 5 egg rating.

So, never pick the first one and stick with what you know.

Something different

I haven't been blogging as much as I should because I've been busier than I should. Moving is hard work.

I've got three things I need to report on, but they are all completely different topics. So, instead of putting them all in one entry, I think I'll make multiple entries.

Consider this this warning.

The first entry is going to be very technical and tell you about my weekend rebuilding my computer. I am going to write it up mainly to help any other poor saps who happen to have the same problem and try to Google for the answer. Maybe, mine will pop up. I should probably, at some point, start a technical blog to expound upon all of my computer woes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Conspiracy Theories, Trust, Libertarians and Internet

Sometimes when I blog, I write the title first. It's a fun game to try and make some meaning of the title with the blog. Sometimes you write the blog first, but it's not as challenging to title the blog as it is to blog the title. I encourage you to try it.

I listen to a talk radio station most of the time on my commute to and from work. Recently I moved. My commute has shrunk from 40 minutes to 20 minutes which sounds good, but now I can't listen to the radio as much and my blogging material has likewise diminished. It's incredible how small changes can have unexpected and dramatic side affects. I believe in Chaos and common attractors.

I almost meandered off topic.

Last week my morning radio program was interviewing a comedian who had sold out shows in Dallas. I didn't like him to the point that I had to change the channel a few times. He was one of those people that believe that if he talked loud enough that it would make him right. It was very irritating. And not funny. He was all about the Kennedy cover up conspiracy single bullet thing and the fact that we never landed on the moon but simply had Hollywood make a film of it to fool the Russians.

I've heard about these conspiracies. I've never done any research one way or another. I find it very hard to care. Kennedy will remain dead and the Cold War will remain over. The next one will be called the Warming War. It's already started.

If I have to place myself in a political party, I lean Libertarian. I even ran for office once. It was enlightening. As a population we trust the government too much. I think for the Libertarian party to succeed, they have to replace that trust with something else. For some reason, unless we are conspiracy theory junkies, we believe that when we eat out, the food is good. It's not necessary to do too much research before we buy house insurance. The government regulates insurance companies and the government regulates eating establishments.

Libertarians believe that the free market will take care of itself. I'd like to see some good author write a fictional story about the result, if the government got out of our business. Would it be good? Would it be bad? I don't like laws protecting me from myself, but the government was created by the people for the people. The majority of people disagree with the way I think, so I'll never be 100% happy anywhere I go unless I can become the next dictator of Cuba or something.

If the government didn't regulate the airlines who would? It seems that you could end up with an Oligarchy of sorts. If the government doesn't regulate things for the majority, then who does?

Can we simply shrink the size and spending of the government, but still have a powerful voice in regulating the rich and powerful?

If you think back before the time of the Internet, this wasn't really possible. Now, ordinary citizens, for a few dollars can have a very loud voice. There is not much regulation of the Internet yet. We can write about the good, the bad and the ugly. As long as we have the Internet, we have the voice and the power to regulate. We don't need the government.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Friendship is a hard thing for me. When I was in school, I tended to hang with a small group of people that all had something in common. In my case, it tended to revolve around computers (Commodores at the time) and role playing games (Dungeons & Dragons).

When high school was over and I went off to college I lost contact with most of my friends from high school.

At college I made some new acquaintances that I looked upon as friends at the time, but I think they were more there for survival. You can't lock yourself in a dorm room and expect to exist. I required social contact of some sort. I joined an 80's rock band that played in a garage for a few years.

When I graduated from college I lost contact with everyone I met from college and it did not bother me. I met more people at work. It's interesting I don't make many friends and yet I've lived by myself for a maximum of 3 years (I'm almost 40).

I think it's a lazy thing. I require social interaction to survive. It's easier and cheaper to live with someone for my social requirements rather than having to go out 4 nights per week.

I was married for 10 years and when I got divorced, my need for social interaction went into overdrive. Luckily, there was a guy that I knew from Junior High that was getting divorced at the same time and his older brother (who I was still in contact with -- he was one of my Computer/D&D buds) got us together.

Then I got married again and we still hang out although not as much. I don't know why I'm writing all of this. Maybe I hope by writing it, the mystery will reveal itself, but I don't think it's the case.

My best man was the same at both of my weddings. The one in 1990 and the one in 2005. We used to stay up all night writing computer games and playing D&D 26 years ago.

Back in 2001/2002, I met a guy indirectly on the Internet. I like solving puzzles and I like smart people and he was both. So, I took it upon myself to meet him. From reading his posts on this obscure newsgroup, I knew something about him. To make this long story even more boring, I will tell you that I don't remember how we finally met. I went to several newsgroup "get together's" (gtg's) thinking he might show up. I don't think he ever did.

We hung out off and on for a few months. He showed me some of the Texas bike trails which I did not know existed. He showed me some of the free things you can do around Fort Worth that are quite entertaining. Then, I had to go to Germany for work and I brought back a woman. He took her around to see several of the Fort Worth sites and then he disappeared. I haven't seen him since that tour. Now, I know why :).

Friday, July 11, 2008

National Fat Preserves, Patents & Gas

Today, I am going to throw out two of my most lucrative patentable ideas. Sometimes, it's easier just to throw ideas out to the public and hope someone with deep pockets makes them a reality.

At least my one reader will know who thought of it first.

Both of these ideas are about humans generating electricity via pedals and the national fat preserve.

If you think about the amount of things you do every day that don't involve using your feet. They are free most all day long to generate electricity. If you could hook bicycle pedals up to a generator you could be generating electricity and getting exercise to your heart's content.

Imagine an electric or hybrid car that has these generators in the floorboard of both back seats and the rider's seat. While you are driving the passengers are pedaling and generating electricity. You want air conditioning? Pedal. You want to watch a movie on the DVD player? Pedal. Of course this idea can be taken even further. When I drive I never use my left foot because I drive an automatic. You could put a pedal/lever mechanism on the driver's side as well, but I'm not real sure how safe that would be. It might be handy for long trips. I'm sure it would cut down on people falling asleep at the wheel.

Now take this idea and put it underneath your office desk. While I am writing my blog, I pedal. While you are reading my blog, you pedal. All these generators can feed the electric grid. If you sit in front of the computer and play games or surf the net all day, give something back and get rid of that gut. Pedal.

Gyms are a huge waste of energy. Why can't all that machinery feed the grid? You are giving people a place to workout. Let the exercise equipment feed the grid. You could probably build an exercise facility that uses almost no electricity. It may even generate enough electricity to collect a check from the utility company. Instead of Gold's Gym we'd have Green's Gym.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Elections and The Stars

A fun game I play when every Presidential election rolls around is to look at the stars to determine who to vote for. Here's a list of our past Presidents. It's a good reference:
1. George Washington: Feb 22, 1732 Pisces
2. John Adams: Oct 30, 1735 Scorpio
3. Thomas Jefferson: Apr 13, 1743 Aries
4. James Madison: Mar 16, 1751 Pisces
5. James Monroe: Apr 28. 1758 Taurus
6. John Q. Adams: Jul 11, 1767 Cancer
7. Andrew Jackson: Mar 15, 1767 Pisces
8. Martin Van Buren: Dec 5, 1782 Sagittarius
9. William Harrison: Feb 9, 1773 Aquarius
10. John Tyler: Mar 29, 1790 Aries
11. James Polk: Nov 2, 1795 Scorpio
12. Zachary Taylor: Nov 24, 1784 Sagittarius
13. Millard Filmore: Jan 7, 1800 Capricorn
14. Franklin Pierce: Nov 23, 1804 Sagittarius
15. James Buchanan: Apr 23, 1791 Taurus
16. Abraham Lincoln: Feb 12, 1809 Aquarius
17. Andrew Johnson: Dec 29, 1808 Capricorn
18. Ulysses Grant: Apr 27, 1822 Taurus
19. Rutherford Hayes: Oct 4, 1822 Libra
20. James Garfield: Nov 19, 1831 Scorpio
21. Chester Arthur: Oct 5, 1830 Libra
22. Grover Cleveland: Mar 18, 1837 Pisces
23. Benjamin Harrison: Aug 20, 1833 Leo
24. William McKinley: Jan 29, 1843 Aquarius
25. Teddy Roosevelt: Oct 27, 1858 Scorpio
26. William Taft: Sep 15, 1857 Virgo
27. Woodrow Wilson: Dec 28, 1856 Capricorn
28. Warren Harding: Nov 2, 1865 Scorpio
29. Calvin Coolidge: Jul 4, 1872 Cancer
30. Herbert Hoover: Aug 10, 1874 Leo
31. Franklin Roosevelt: Jan 30, 1882 Aquarius
32. Harry Truman: May 8, 1884 Taurus
33. Dwight Eisenhower: Oct 14, 1890 Libra
34. John Kennedy: May 29, 1917 Gemini
35. Lyndon Johnson: Aug 27, 1908 Virgo
36. Richard Nixon: Jan 9 1913 Capricorn
37. Gerald Ford: Jul 14, 1913 Cancer
38. Jimmy Carter: Oct 1, 1924 Libra
39. Ronald Regan: Feb 6, 1911 Aquarius
40. George Bush: Jun 12, 1924 Gemini
41. William Clinton Aug 19, 1946 Leo
42. George W. Bush: Cancer

As you look at the above list, consider who the best Presidents were. Pick the best President who was in office while you were alive. Then, pick the best Presidents from the past according to history. See when they were born and what their sun signs were.

My favorite President who was in office during my lifetime was Ronald Reagan. Before that I liked Franklin Roosevelt (I loved his memorial in Washington DC). And I liked Abraham Lincoln.

You should take some time to read about them. FDR Quotes are my favorites. Bush should have spent more time thinking about this one: "More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginning of all wars".

Abraham Lincoln also had one that Bush should spend more time admiring: "
Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose - and you allow him to make war at pleasure."

My favorite from Ronald Reagan: "Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves."

But, I digress.

If you study astrology and pretend to believe it, you then know a bit about the different signs, look at past President's signs and compare them to people running for office today.

Obama was born August 4, 1961. He's a Leo. Previous Leos were William Clinton, Benjamin Harrison and Herbert Hoover. Did they have anything good to say? Herbert had a good one that the current administration could contemplate: "Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body - the producers and consumers themselves." Benjamin Harrison said, "We Americans have no commission from God to police the world."

So, I think Leo's are a mixed result.

McCain was born August 29, 1936. He's a Virgo. Previous Virgos were Lyndon Johnson and William Taft. I don't like Taft's quotes much, but there are a few gems: "The world is not going to be saved by legislation." LBJ was funny. A good sense of humor can go along way: "If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: "President Can't Swim." "

Bob Barr was born November 5, 1948. He's a Scorpio. We've had 5 Scorpios for President. That's more than any other sign except Aquarius. There have been 5 Aquarius as well. I'm not going to go through all 5 quotes by Scorpios. My dealings with Scorpios have involved lots of dishonesty, charisma, and short tempers. They lure you in with dishonesty and charisma and then when you become trusting they unleash the furry of their temper. The five Scorpio's were: John Adams, James Polk, James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding. Just so I can show that I did look at them, John Adams said: "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war."

So, who do you vote for?

Amarillo, Canyon & Palo Duro

Last week, I was on my yearly safari to the Panhandle too see my parents and experience a family reunion of sorts (my 2 sisters, my brother and several screaming children). I hope you didn't miss me too much. And they didn't really scream too much.

Out in the Palo Duro Canyon (pictured above), they have a historical musical drama called Texas. I've seen it several times. It seems to get longer every time. But, it's good. If you've never seen it, it's well worth the trip.

My dad grew up in this area (Canyon, TX). All of us went to college in Canyon. When my dad went, it was called West Texas State College. When my older sister went, it was West Texas State University. When I went it was still West Texas State University, but it was integrated into the A&M system so my diploma says, "West Texas State University, a division of Texas A&M". By the time my little sister went, it was West Texas A&M University. I didn't like it there. I liked some of the teachers, but I don't remember learning anything and I didn't get along with anyone.