Sunday, December 27, 2009

GPS, TomTom's and Ice Skating to Wichita Falls

I left early this morning to visit my parents near Amarillo. The trip from Dallas to Amarillo is my most frequently driven road. And it's probably one of the most boring stretches of highway ever created.

For Christmas I bought my wife a TomTom GPS navigation system. I like TomTom's because they are customizable in fun ways. Like you can record your own instructions. You just record commands like, "turn right", "turn left", "yards", "one hundred", "two hundred", etc. Then it will play your own recorded instructions at the appropriate times. It's quite cool. There are pre-recorded voices that you can download with their software. Some of the better ones (like Homer Simpson) you have to pay a small fee for. Or you can upload your custom recordings if you think they are good enough (to share with the masses). You can also change backgrounds, change car icons, and some other things.

I have my wife's TomTom setup to speak German. I bought refurbished TomTom's at a pretty good price, but I'm a little miffed because the ad said free map upgrades, but somewhere in small print it says something about "no free upgrades with refurbished products". The "FREE MAP UPGRADE" is, of course, in big letters. If someone from TomTom stumbles across my wee little blog they can allow me a way to bypass this and let me get one free map update for free. It's only fair.

Today, on our way to Amarillo, we basically had to slalom and skate from Dallas to Wichita Falls because of the blizzard two days ago. I figured for sure they'd have the roads cleared by now, but I was mistaken. The roads were somewhat clear, but there were large patches of ice that had to be slid through or avoided. I don't like driving in these conditions.

Just before entering Wichita Falls, they had the road completely shutdown before an overpass while road crews tried to clear the bridge. I thought it would be a short stop. After half an hour and no progress I turned on the TomTom and looked for detours. I took an exit and voila, the TomTom re-routed me. I was kicking myself for not doing it 30 minutes earlier.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Windows Home Server

For the last few weeks, I've been setting my home network up with Windows Home Server. For a relatively cheap software investment, it's really a pretty good product.

Once you have it installed, there is a client CD or connector CD that you install on all your Windows based PCs in the house. This software basically "connects" all of your home PCs to the Windows Home Server.

Why do you want to do this? Well, Windows Home Server creates a "Shared Folders on Server" icon on your PC's desktop. You can set your client PC up to automatically put music, pictures, videos, etc. on the Home Server. All the stuff you don't want to lose is kept in a central location that can be easily backed up. With WHS Power Pack 3, you can even setup a Media Center to automatically archive recorded TV.

Most people that own Windows Home Server bought a special PC from HP, Dell or some other PC manufacturer with WHS pre-installed.

I just decided to install it myself on one of my "extra" computers.

I decided not to read instructions and just install it "blind". This was probably a bad idea. I assumed it would work like all the other Window's based operating systems and give you a C drive, a D drive, etc. All depending on the number of hard drives and other devices you have on your computer.

It "sort of" does this. If you want to look at it as a standard OS, it does exactly this. But, when you look at it from a "server" point of view, it installs the OS on a portion of one of the hard drives and sums up the remaining space for storage.

I decided to install the OS on an 80 gig drive and I installed a 1.5 terabyte drive that I intended to use for storage. WHS doesn't quite work that way.

Now, I have a machine with about 1.55 terabytes of storage. It added all the storage devices together, deducted the amount needed for the OS, and gave me the remaining for storage.

Further more, the storage defaults to being "duplicated on two drives". So that each bit of information sent to the server is automatically stored on two different physical devices. Thus, my setup only gave me about 50 gigs of usable storage until I went in and turned off the data redundancy.

Small drives on Windows Homer Server are basically a waste of electricity. Use the largest drives you have.

My next entertainment was misplacing my "connector" or "client" CD. I installed it on one computer. I installed it on the second computer. The wife came home and distracted me and I lost the CD. She may have eaten it. I'm not sure where it went.

Well, interestingly enough, WHS takes care of that as well. You can manually go to your WHS server from any machine in your house. You don't get all the bells and whistles, but you can access it.

You go to http://[whs name]:55000/. You'll get a screen that looks something like this:

The first entry says, "Windows Home Server Connector Setup" with a "Download Now" button. You click on "Download Now" and voila, the client software is downloaded and installed on the computer you are currently using.

WHS also has the option to automatically backup each client computer every night. It just happens automatically and gives you a backup of every computer in your house. The initial backup takes a while, but after the first one, it seems to go rather quickly. I haven't had to try a recovery yet, and I really hope I never have to. If I do, I'll make sure and post my experiences.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Least Common Denominator: Part 2

Since the 2 people that read my blog were horrified at my "elitist" attitude concerning LCD, I feel that I owe a part 2. Although sequels are almost never as popular as the original.

I've never been good at writing stuff down. When I write about something controversial, I'm always surprised at how offended people are. It's because I don't express myself well. I think one thing and when I write it or say it, it comes out all wrong.

All my life I thought people were mean to me because I was smart (a nerd). I was small and skinny in school and always made straight A's. I didn't fit in.

But, in hindsight and after yesterday's debacle, I realize that maybe it was 90% to do with my attitude. I was shy. Perhaps my shyness and my failure to clearly communicate made me come off as an elitist and no one likes an elitist. I know I can't stand them.

Having said all of that, if I were forced to go back to Junior High/High School today, I wouldn't want to be in classes with kids who don't want to learn. The kids that don't want to learn and go out of their way to disrupt the learning process are the least common denominators. They should be removed until they can fix their attitude. I'm afraid the "no child left behind" policy doesn't account for the ones that are purposefully dragging their feet.

I had a real good friend in school who was disabled. I wouldn't want to go to a different school than him. He made me smile. He didn't fit in any better than I did, but he didn't care. He also didn't make fun of me or try to intimidate me for making A's in algebra.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Least Common Denominator

We seem to live in an LCD society. As a group of people, we strive so hard to make sure everyone is happy that we end up catering to the complainers who are often the "Least Common Denominators" or LCD's.

What happened to cause this? I don't know.

Are you having trouble following my logic? I know I am.

I'll give you examples.

Take the teacher who was nearing retirement that took her bus load of choir kids to Hooters. She has been suspended. Why? Are Hooter's girls dressed any more provocatively than high school cheer leaders? Not in my experience. This teacher has been suspended because of the LCD rule. Out of the 40 kids there were maybe 1, maybe 2 who thought it was offensive and went and told their offensive parental units who got the teacher in hot water. We have to strive to take care of the most easily offended.

A bigger example? Take Bush's "no child left behind" policy which seems to still be plaguing Texas schools. That just screams LCD. We'll slow all learning down to the most unwilling to learn student so that he or she is not left behind. I mean even children that can't keep up or don't want to keep up should be catered to. It's classic LCD.

We lower our expectations so that our expectations don't exceed the talents of the least talented.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Carnival Cruising on the Conquest: Day 6

I've been really falling down on my blogging duties. Sorry about that.

Day 6 found us in Cozumel. I've been to Cozumel before and I'm not a big fan of it. It's a little too touristy for my blood.

We went to all the shops that are right there on the docks. It's like a feeding frenzy of souvenir shopping. After we were done spending money, we stopped at Fat Tuesday which is a bar right on the coast. It's s fun bar. They play good music, have good margaritas and pretty shot girls in short shorts and cleavage baring sheriff costumes.

Without further ado. Here are some pictures.

Here is a picture showing the tourist trap that is the Cozumel beach/landing pad. You can see all the people walking down the pier heading blindly into the souvenir mecca.

There were two Carnival ships parked side by side this day. Here's a lovely picture of your host standing between the two monoliths.

There were actually four cruise ships parked at Cozumel. Here's a picture of 3. I tried to get all 4 in the picture, but one of them was a ways off.

This is the back/bar portion of Fat Tuesday. I like the swinging bar chairs. Swings make me sick so I can't imagine sitting in a swing at a bar, but apparently it's popular. I especially like the "Free Samples" thing. I'm not sure what it was pointing at. But, it entertained me on several levels. Alas, I am, it would seem, easily amused.

Balloon hats were strangely popular at certain sections of Cozumel. I remember the wind was blowing really hard and I was wondering why people purchased these things. I saw several of them blowing away.

My favorite part of Cozumel was the local law enforcement.

Here is the Fat Tuesday bar. I like this picture because it shows you the wide variety of beach wear you get to see on your cruise of choice. Although some of it is probably better not seen.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NVIDIA SLI & the Flickers

I just wanted to keep all of you curious folks up to date on my latest computer update. Because I know you are all furiously curious.

The computer I built 2 years ago is still keeping up with the latest software so I've seen no reason to build a new computer.

However, as the graphics in games get more demanding I decided to do an experiment. I decided to install a second video card to take advantage of NVIDIA's SLI technology. Basically leveraging the GPU's of two graphics cards to give a performance boost.

My first mistake was assuming the graphics card would come with the little SLI link cable.

I opened the case, installed the new video card in the second slot and turned the computer back on. Voila, the NVIDIA driver detected that there was another video card and set it up as SLI. I was shocked at how easy it was. But then I got an error message about "video link not detected".

My first reaction was to re-check my video card box for a missing cable, but it was empty. My second thought was simply a sinking feeling. Then, I did some research.

It seems the link cable in question is normally shipped with the motherboard. I have an ASUS P5N motherboard and I still had my box so I looked in it and sure enough, there was a cable just like the one pictured above. It's obvious where to connect it on the NVIDIA graphics cards. If you need a diagram, you probably should put the cover back on your computer and carefully back away from the machine.

Then, I ran my first game and I got these bluish artifacts and flickering while running. And I got another sinking feeling. My power supply only had one power plug for supplying power for video. Obviously with a second card I needed another plug. The new video card came with a power plug adapter. You basically had to plug two standard plugs into this one adapter to create one video card plug. All the web sites I visited said that the flickering was more than likely a power problem.

My mistake: I used a standard plug that was daisy chained to a case fan. I took another look in the case, did some power rearranging and produced two dedicated standard plugs to feed the video plug adapter. You might have to read that twice.

I turned everything back on and it's been running flawlessly ever since. It seems smoother, but unfortunately I didn't do any performance tests for a before/after comparison. I don't know that it would have made a difference. When you have two of something it's not always faster, but often times smoother. I don't know that I've seen a performance test that measures smooth.

You see performance tests all the time that say, "I get 60 frames per second", but you don't often see a run over time with various activities where you maintain an average of 40 frames per second with a low of 10 and a high of 60. I suspect that having two GPU's would mostly produce a more stable frame rate with a better average and a higher low, but I don't feel like proving it.

Another thing to do if you intend to try SLI is to go in the NVIDIA control panel and make sure it says SLI is enabled. After experimenting with mine, it somehow got switched to disabled and I had to re-enable it. There was no warning except just to check it and see that it was disabled.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Conquest Carnival Cruise: Day 5 -- The Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands was not (to me) as much fun as Jamaica. It was just a bunch of English folks living on an island and making money off boats.

The most interesting thing about the Cayman Islands is that the cruise ships are too big to dock there (because of the coral reefs or something like that) so they have to drop anchor and you take tender boats to the shore. When they drop anchor, it's quite loud and will wake you up from a sound sleep. I know this from experience.

Day 5, incidentally, was also Thursday. To you Americans, that was also Thanksgiving.

Regardless, here are some pictures from Day 5 of my cruise:

This is our tender. You can see in front of us they were loading a second tender. It was all done very efficiently. You didn't even have to get your feet wet.

This was taken from the Cayman Island docks. You can see there were 3 cruise ships visiting the island for Thanksgiving. Ours was the one on the left.

Here is a lovely picture of my Jamaican bride. Yep, she followed me. She said she couldn't stand for me to leave her alone so she left behind the island and the people she'd lived with all her life to follow me to the Cayman Islands. It was very sweet really.

Apparently the Cayman Islands have a history of piracy. Here's a picture of me with a local Cayman Island pirate. He was very scary. I tried to get him to say "Gar har har", but he wouldn't talk. My shirt says, "Sometimes I amaze myself". It's quite immature of me to wear such garments, but I can't help myself.

When we were drinking at a beach front restaurant I looked up to see a pirate ship attacking the Conquest. I worried briefly that we had accidentally arrived in Somalia.

I mentioned earlier that it was Thanksgiving. This was my pumpkin cake. I like how they did the glaze and the blueberry to make it resemble an American flag. You have to look at it for 5 minutes trying to focus directly on the blueberry and then close your eyes. Ah, and tilt your head to the right at a 90 degree angle. Maybe you should tilt your head before you do the 5 minute thing. And read all the instructions before you start.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Climate Hysteria

I read a really good article today. Unfortunately, this article reinforces the fact that as long as there is money or power involved you can't believe anything you read or hear. It's almost like we all need to be scientists capable of doing our own research so that we can choose to believe or dismiss all the "facts" that are being thrown our way. I don't even know if this "really good article" has an ounce of fact in it. You can read it here. I don't know how long that link will last. I liked the last paragraph. It made me think that maybe this author is "on my side".

Here's the last paragraph:
Climate change is a genuine phenomenon, and there is a nontrivial risk of major consequences in the future. Yet the hysteria of the global warming campaigners and their monomaniacal advocacy of absurdly expensive curbs on fossil fuel use have led to a political dead end that will become more apparent with the imminent collapse of the Kyoto-Copenhagen process. I have long expected that 20 or so years from now we will look back on the turn-of-the-millennium climate hysteria in the same way we look back now on the population bomb hysteria of the late 1960s and early 1970s--as a phenomenon whose magnitude and effects were vastly overestimated, and whose proposed solutions were wrongheaded and often genuinely evil (such as the forced sterilizations of thousands of Indian men in the 1970s, much of it funded by the Ford Foundation). Today the climate campaigners want to forcibly sterilize the world's energy supply, and until recently they looked to be within an ace of doing so. But even before Climategate, the campaign was beginning to resemble a Broadway musical that had run too long, with sagging box office and declining enthusiasm from a dwindling audience. Someone needs to break the bad news to the players that it's closing time for the climate horror show.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Carnival Conquest Cruise: Day 4 -- Jamaica Man

Day 4 found us in Jamaica. Some concerned friends of mine have been questioning my frequent mentioning of alcohol and my lack of photo documentation of my wife on this cruise. It has led them to believe that I took this cruise alone. Well, alone with my alcohol. My photos from Jamaica will hopefully reinforce these crazy rumors:

The people in Jamaica are really nice. I've been told it's a nice place to visit but you wouldn't want to live there. I was offered weed at almost every corner. One guy took me up to his little bungalow bar where I could smoke in private. Once I got up there, I backed out. I didn't really have any intention anyway, but wanted to see how the locals hung out.

You may see my new colorful hat in one or two of the pictures below. In Jamaica you get to haggle for everything. I never thought I'd enjoy that being brought up in America, but it was a lot of fun. The lady told me she wanted $25 for the hat. I said, "No. That hat's not worth more than $5". She said, "Ok, ok, how about $15". I told her I had to consult with my wife. I came back and said, "My wife won't let me spend more than $10 for the hat. Sorry." She said, "Ahh, c'mon, how about $12". I said, "My wife only gave me $10. Take it or leave it." She took it. Obviously.

They drive on the wrong side of the street in Jamaica. I got in a discussion with our driver. I told him he was driving on the wrong side of the street. He said, "No, this is the right side". I said, "No, it's the left side" and he said, "The left side is the right side". I guess you had to be there.

Here is a picture of my lovely wife getting her hair braided in Jamaica.

This was at Margaritaville. I don't know what this guy was drinking.

Me at the bar at Margaritaville.

This is my wife with our first Jamaican friend. CC was our official "driver" in Jamaica. He was the one that drove on the left side of the road because the left side was the right side. "Respect Man".

This guy kept telling me I was his "brother from another mother" so I let him be pictured with me. It was a kindness really.

Here is a lovely picture of my wife and I together on the catamaran. We were on our way for some snorkeling fun.

That's me. Snorkeling. Really. Off the coast of Montego Bay.

Here is me getting my hair braided. This was after snorkeling, but back at Margaritaville. We didn't realize that our Snorkeling tour took us back to Margaritaville so we went there twice. Once as taxi cab passengers and again as snorkelers on a catamaran. Strange but true.

This is me back on the catamaran after having my hair braided. I was so desperate for alcohol I had to use both hands!

A good picture of Margaritaville from the water. I didn't get to do the big water slide. Ah well. Perhaps this gives me motivation to go back.

A pretty picture of our boat from the Jamaican docks.

And last, but not least: the towel animals. Every night the stewards made towel animals. This one was my favorite. He was hanging from the light fixtures at the end of our Jamaican day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Carnival Conquest Cruise: Day 3

Day 3 of the cruise found us somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, a day's ride from Jamaica. This was a Tuesday. On Tuesday, I discovered Cosmopolitans. They were called Carnival Cosmo's. I didn't really make the connection that the little fruity drink was actually a highly motivated Martini. Ignorant drinking. Something I'll try and avoid in the future. I was in an alcohol induced coma by 9:15 PM (that little exaggeration brought to you courtesy of Durango).

I also spent some time talking to Ron of Ron Joseph's Motown Review. He was a cool guy. Plays the drums and sings the blues. He was from New Orleans. Unfortunately I didn't take pictures.

Let me see if I can find a picture from Day 3. I found one. I went up to Deck 6 or maybe 9 to try and show how far down it was to the lobby. Cool huh?

I've been asked about details. My cruise postings have been short and sweet. My wife and I went alone. It was a 7 day cruise. Day 4 will be more exciting. We arrived in Jamaica on Day 4.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Carnival Conquest: Day 2

Day 2 found us in the Gulf of Mexico heading towards Jamaica. I don't remember anything spectacular about day 2. I'll see if I can find a picture. It was a Monday. Hmmm...

I was right. No excitement on day 2. Just relaxation.

Here's a picture of the slide on the ship on day 2. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Conquest Carnival Cruise: Day 1

I know you've all been anxiously awaiting news of my 7 day cruise on the Carnival Conquest. We went to Montego Bay Jamaica, George Town Cayman Islands and Cozumel Mexico.

I don't feel like going into details yet. Here's a picture of me with the drink of the day on day one in front of the big screen TV on deck... Just to wet your whistle... Since I was wetting my... whistle.

Behind the umbrella, it says "wishes". I know someone will ask.

Healthcare and Climate Solved!

My doctor always tells me I need to exercise more. Apparently it will make me healthy. 30 minutes of exercise per day is said to keep the doctor away.

There are two things that Obama is pushing now that will cost us trillions of dollars: health care and climate.

All that has to be done is to perfect generators. Make them as efficient as possible and then put them in automobiles.

Make a total electric car with all the efficiencies of generating electricity while slowing, a couple of solar panels, the latest battery technology and whatever else you can think of. Then, put pedals in the floorboard anywhere anyone can sit (including the driver).

As you drive and as you ride, you pedal to generate electricity to keep the batteries happy. If you run out of power, you have to pull over and generate some more before you can drive again. We'll all be green and healthy. Trust me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Government Intervention

I’ve been away from my blogging station for about two weeks now and I figure the people that visit my little blog has plummeted from billions per day to perhaps a few hundred.

During my absence I have decided that the majority of people are stupid. I may have decided that a while back, but I’m more vehement about it now.

I’m also testing this blog via email thing.

People believe that through technological achievement we have discovered how to make the earth warmer.

I don’t like smog. I don’t like cars. I don’t like smoke. I’m all for cutting emissions. I don’t like the government telling me what to do. I don’t like my boss telling me what to wear. I prefer being told what we need to accomplish and then feeling like I have the freedom to use my ingenuity to figure out a unique, creative and possibly fun way to get there.

If I’m in a room full of 1000 people and someone tells me we need to get everyone out in 15 minutes, I’ll fail. I’m not one for rash action. I’d ask why 15 minutes? By the time I was convinced everyone needed to be out, it would be too late. I like weighing my options and thinking things through. Someone who was intent on getting everyone out would probably simply yell fire or pull the fire alarm. Perhaps a more ingenious solution would be to tell everyone they were giving a million bucks to the first 100 people in the street outside.

The US government is in charge of about 300,000,000 stupid people. There are almost 7 billion stupid people in the world. If you are a world leader and you decide that carbon emissions are bad, how do you get people to cut down? Well, horror stories of global warming, ice caps melting, polar bears dying, etc. is probably a good place to start. They are using the “fire” approach to accomplishing the goal. They’ll probably impose penalties that feel a lot like burning to bring the goal to fruition.

Back when gas (in the USA) was hitting $4+ per gallon, there was lots of invention going on regarding algae fuels, hydrogen energy, etc. We don’t need a fire, we need motivation. In 1962 when Kennedy challenged the USA to put a man on the moon, it was done by 1969. There was no reason to get there. It was just a challenge, but look at all the good that has come of it.

Why can’t government propose a challenge to have cars run on something besides carbon based fuels by 2015? Can we eliminate the need for carbon emissions by 2020? Instead of creating a new health insurance debacle why can’t we discover some kind of super cure all by 2012 through stem cell research or some other science that hasn’t been thought of?

The government has lost our trust. Everything they do they do through yelling fire. Then, when the fire isn’t real they wonder why the next fire produces less fear. Maybe we aren’t so stupid after all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Back from Milan, Off to Jamaica

Well I got back from my second trip to Milan this month. The trip, although short, went rather well although I didn't do anything blogworthy. It was just work. I'd get up at 7:45, be at breakfast at 8:30, be at the site by 9:30, work until about 19:30, have dinner at about 20:30 and go to bed about 23:00. Fun was had by all.

I've been lacks about my blogging and I know you are all very sad, but you must bear with me for another week as I go to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cozumel Mexico on a Carnival Cruise. It's a 7 day cruise and I don't normally even think about computers while cruising.

Next Monday (the 30th), I promise to try and blog about something that'll make me look a bit foolish and opinionated. It will also be great fun! I'll prepare you...

I watched a Glen Beck show while I was in Italy. He's on Fox and I don't like Fox, but I watched it anyway. I enjoyed watching it. He seemed knowledgeable, opinionated, and he didn't seem to blame the republicrats, but the government as a whole. I get tired of people saying, "It's the Republicans" and then they vote all the Republicans out of office, then say, "It's the Democrats" and now they are about to vote all the Democrats out of office and then it'll be back to , "It's the Republicans". Obviously no one is fixing anything...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back To Milan and Salaries

I'm headed back to Milan this Sunday. I will be there another week. It brings to light some interesting questions for the masses.

First of all, many of you that may or may not read my blog may or may not know how many times I can use the word may in one sentence. Not really.

You may know that this year I was offered a 5% cut in salary due to "the economic times". They gave a 5% cut across the board. I'm not in favor of these kinds of cuts. They justify them by saying that this 5% cut saved "x" number jobs.

I'm of the opinion that this kind of "across the board" cut is lazy. It's like saying you have a bag of coins (from pennies to silver dollars) and someone says, "Your 50 pound bag of coins is 10 pounds too heavy. You need to eliminate 10 pounds." So you throw 10 pounds away without regard for the denomination.

The smart CEO would look at the talent and determine who is not pulling their weight. Some people may need a 10% cut or more. Some people may need to be let go. An across the board cut is just lazy.

Anyway, this leads to my conundrum. I'm a confident fellow and I'm very good at what I do. When customers, like the one in Milan, need help with their systems, they request me by name. I've told my boss and my boss's boss that I'm not happy with the 5% pay cut this year and if things aren't repaired by March, I'll be looking elsewhere for employment.

I really like working here and I don't know that I would be happier elsewhere. However, I don't love it enough to go down with the ship. If they can't afford to fix my salary (someone who is requested by customers to help solve their problems) then what does that say about the company?

Do I now press my case to my boss's boss's boss? Does my boss not think I'm serious? Does my boss's boss not think I'm serious? Does my boss's boss's boss care? Maybe the ship really is sinking?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sesame Street Was Also Born in 1969

image1969 was a good year. I was born near the beginning of 1969. In July of 1969, Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. Woodstock happened in August of 1969. The Trans Am was born in 1969 (which is one of the reasons I bought one when they announced they would quit making them in 2002).
Sesame Street also kicked off in 1969. This week is their 40th birthday. Let’s share some videos. "C is for Cookie, that's good enough for me". The Manamana is one of my favorites.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Do contact me on my private email address

I’ve decided to help the masses and explain some things that may not appear so common to some.  If you have done an Internet search about an email you received regarding a large inheritance, read on…

I get emails like this probably once per day.  Some are better than others (like the Elena Tan story).  But they are are filled with crap of some sort.  Today, I will attempt to diagnose the problems with the majority of these emails.

Here is the email as I received it (my comments in RED):

I am Mrs. Paula Hamilton. I was married to Late Dr. Edward Hamilton who was based in Malaysia. My Husband  died on February 2nd 2007 after a brief illness.I am presently diagnosed of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) and recently, my Doctor told me that I may not last for the next Three Months. Having known my condition, I have decided to entrust my entire estate to a honest individual

Really.  This should just irk you.  It does me.  Calling me honest with this kind of email preying upon the desperate folks who may be in dire straights and in need of a little help is about the most dishonest thing they can do.

who will utilize this money in the manner at which the funds are meant for.Beloved, I choose this means to locate you because I am sure that I will be lead

Now you are honest and loved.  Do you have warm fuzzies?  More honesty below and a little kindness thrown in for more fuzzies.

to the kind of person that will be totally honest with me. Due to my health condition, delay in your reply will not be of any benefit to me and this will propel me to search for someone else.

Here, they try to make it sound like you are the only one they sent this to.  Some spammers are better than others.  This particular email went out to “undisclosed recipients”.  When you send an email, your email program typically puts in the recipients on the address line.  This is only a courtesy.  Email servers will gladly send the email on without any such courtesy.  If the destination address is “undisclosed” this more than likely means that it was sent to about a billion people and you probably wouldn’t want to see the list anyway.

Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I have stated above. Do contact me on my private email address
In His Arms.

Here we throw in the religious zinger.  Like it or not, religious folks have been giving money away for thousands of years.  If you are a spammer and trying to get someone to give you information or money, it’s best to add religion into the mix.  The odds of success just went up exponentially.

Robert Grays
Mrs. Paula Hamilton.

You definitely don’t want to respond to this unless you are in law enforcement and are going to try and get some kind of charges filed.  It should be illegal.  I think false advertisement normally is.  You probably shouldn’t blog about it either.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lesser of Two Evils

An interesting thing about traveling to Europe is the shocking discovery that America is not the only country in the world. I remember when I first left Texas and was shocked to discover that Texas is not the only state in the country.

Texans are very proud of their state. No other state is as good as Texas when you are a Texan. Americans have the same attitude about the rest of the world. It's rather unfortunate.

I am a member of the Libertarian party. I even ran for office a few years ago just to see what it was like to be on a ballot. I was surprised to get several interviews with the Fort Worth Startlegram.

There is a saying I am fond of with the Libertarians. It goes something like, "We keep the Democrats out of your pockets and the Republicans out of your bedrooms."

Having said all of that, I'm a bit off from my mainstream Libertarian counterparts. Given the choice of my pockets or my bedroom I'd prefer the government stay out of my bedroom.

To me, this has nothing to do with privacy. It's more to do with how you are allowed to live. It was Republicans that wanted to make gay marriage illegal. To which I would reply, "Do we really want the government telling us who we can marry?"

This particularly came to light when I met my current wife in Germany. The government makes it very difficult to marry a foreigner.

I would have happily paid a little more taxes to the Democrats if they would have allowed me to live with my girlfriend in the USA for a while before getting married. Allowing her to live as an American to see if she enjoyed it before having to get married.

My point is fading. My logical mind is thinking this is a very valid point, but my ineptitude with the written language hampers my ability to properly communicate it.

Republicans seem to be the moral police. I don't like someone else dictating my morals. If I want to mess myself up with crack cocaine in the comfort of my own house I should be able to do so. As long as I'm not hurting anyone else, it should be legal.

Republicans claim to want a smaller central government with more power to the states. However, I believe their concept of smaller is flawed. Perhaps they tax less (sometimes), but they write laws that restrict your personal choices.

I am a Democratic leaning Libertarian. A rare beast. However, the current administration has spent a lot of money and done a lot of talking, but, in my opinion, has done nothing helpful.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Milano McDonalds and Eminent Domain

I've just about wrapped up my first week in Milano. My wife celebrated Halloween without me. I've tried to get her to go with me to Halloween parties every year that we've been married, but she always, "Didn't like Halloween". I don't know why.

Anyway, I celebrated Halloween in Milano, but I didn't dress up. There were very few costumes on Halloween, but there were enough.

But that has nothing to do with McDonald's. There is a (for lack of a better description) shopping center in Milano near the Duamo. It's kind of a cross shaped shopping hall with marble looking floors and tall cathedral type ceilings. My favorite part? The center of the cross. On one corner is a Prada store. On the opposite corner is a Louis Vuitton store. Another fancey Italian store is on the other corner. And the other corner? You guessed it. McDonald's. You gotta love it.

If you looked above the shops in this monoloithic type mall, you see some small rooms. Most all of these rooms have been converted to office buildings. A lot of money is paid for the privilege of having an office in this mall or a place to sell your stuff. It's a very busy place. It seems that one old lady still owns her home above the Prada store. I can't believe that Italy doesn't have eminent domain! That must only happen in the Land of the Free where rich people like Jerry Jones bulldoze houses for Football stadiums in the great progressive thinking state of Texas (once again I am lacking my sarcasm font).
Sorry about the picture quality. My camera was giving me grief. If you look a the top row of windows, the two in the center right have curtains. That is where the lady lives that refuses to sell her house.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Milano Fashion Capital

My wife wisely, or unwisely, informed me that Milano, Italy is some kind of fashion model mecca. So, tonight (my second night here), I befriended some Italians and they took me to some "hot spots".

After I had a few glass of Italian wine...

Ooooweeeeee. They have bars that are nothing but liquor serving photography shops. It's like way crazy. I felt guilty for not enjoying it to the fullest extent allowed by law so I started asking people if they spoke English and if they'd mind taking pictures with touristy Texans. I found one Italian and then I found a group of 3 Italians and a Norwegian. Oooooweeee. Can you spot the Norwegian?

I'm hoping my wife is not currently paying attention to myblog.

For demonstrations of how I get myself into this kind of trouble, I'll also include a picture of someone pouring me a glass of mucho bueno Italian wine (that's mixing Italian and Spanish).

Another thing I discovered tonight is that Italians invented Sopapialas, but as an appetizer served with meat. Not a desert served with honey. I always thought it was an interesting Mexican invention. Do they have anything original?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Traveling To Milan

image The company I work for has a customer in Italy.  I’ve been asked to go help out (get payment). 

There are perceived problems with the system we delivered.  I’m taking my software and my pliers and my blowtorch.  It is Italy after all.

I’ll be in Milan for the next two weeks or so.  It should be fun, but I suspect my blogging will suffer more than it already has from my normal day to day fiascos.

I’ll try and remember to take lots of pictures and give some good travel documentation when I return.  I bet ya can’t wait!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Anti-Aquarians…Meet My Niece

I’ve been subtly pressured by two people to cease and desist with my weekly Aquarius posts.  One of these persons is a Leo.  The other is a Virgo.  I’m doing research now to see if there is some deep seated and unjustified animosity between these two signs and the loving Aquarius folks.  I’ll try and keep you posted without further frustration to the Leos and the Virgos.

imageMy Aquarian star this week is my niece, Emily.  For all my life, I have been the only Aquarian in my list of relatives that I keep up with.  A few years ago my older sister produced a baby Aquarian girl and she’s nice and sweet and pretty and smart just like her Aquarian uncle.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another Elena Tan?…This One’s Pretty

image Coincidentally, and perhaps because of my previous Elena posting, I received another email from Elena. Although I think it’s a different Elena. She doesn’t appear old.

It was titled, “Hello, can we be friends?”. The previous Elena was promising me a large inheritance. What this Elena offers, I’m too naive to figure out. I’m almost too embarrassed to post the email, but in honor of full disclosure… (incidentally, I haven’t been on a dating website in about 8 years). At least they both have God in common. And her typing skills seem to be about as good as Elena Tan’s lawyer: Barrister Richard Lee (you have to read Sophia’s comment).

Hello my new friend!
My name is Elena.
how are you? I hope you are fine!
I have found your profile and e-mail on dating site.
As for me I want to find my love.
If you are interested, answer me and we can begin our acquaintance.
So let me tellsome words about me. I am was born 20 OCT 1982.
I want to find someone who can love me and i can love. I looked your
profile and read information about you
and what you want to see in a woman of your choice.
And i believe, i can have all parts of what you want in soulmate, out of
thousands of people that is me, i find you to be my true choice and i
hope that you should feel the same way too.
It's really wonderful moment as I am writing this letter to you
and i pray that i should hear good and sweat reply from you.
You are far from me but i belief that there's nothing that love can not do.
I belief love can move mountain and love turns around person's life to
precious life and sweet one.
Ok, i wish that you will write me and lets have more
discussions and get to know more about each other.
My new friend I ask you to write to my e-mail:
I will be great to read marvellous letter from you.
Hoping for God of love and in power of love I would like to hear from you.
Thanks for the reading.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Illegal Aliens and Their Hurt Little Feelers

image Read this today.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry -- so I blogged.

My favorite part of the above article?

Jorge-Mario Cabrera, the director of communications for CHIRLA, said he initially thought the costume was a stab at harmless satire. But when he saw the Green Card, he realized it was a swipe at illegal immigrants.

I wonder if he realizes that the “green card” makes you legal?  Repeat after me: if you have a green card, then you are legal. 

The stupidity of people continues to amaze me.

Then it makes you wonder if perhaps the makers of the costume paid someone a small fee to complain so that they could get some free advertisement.

I know I wouldn’t have ever thought of buying the costume until I heard the complaints on the radio (heck, I didn’t even know it existed!).  Now, I’m thinking of buying one for my German wife.  My kids think it’s funny that she’s an alien.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ed is An Aquarius!!

image It may come as a shock to you, but one of the regular visitors to my humble blog is also an Aquarius.

He gets a posting all to himself because I’ve known him and called him a friend for almost 30 years. He’s even been my best man -- twice!

I started dabbling in Astrology about 8 years ago. I don’t take it too seriously, but it’s good for conversations and it’s quite entertaining. For it to be entertaining, I have to (at least pretend to) take it very seriously.

I started to look closer at Astrology when I realized the one man I had known and kept in contact with longer than any other was a fellow Aquarius. I reckon it is just a whacky coincidence, but it’s still pretty cool.

Ed was born on January 23rd.

I don’t have many friends. A lot of my old friends I hear from rarely.

In 30 years I think the longest I’ve gone without hearing anything from Ed is maybe 6 months. Maybe. I didn’t really keep track. He was always there.

Ed introduced me to the Internet. I enjoy hanging out with people that are smarter than me. I figure that way I’ll be able to learn something every time I talk to them and I am a big fan of learning. I’ve learned a lot from Ed and continue to do so. Just checkout some of his comments!

I met Ed when I was playing Dungeons & Dragons with his older brother. Ed is a year younger than me and lived just down the street when we were growing up.

When I needed a best man for my wedding(s) Ed bought a plane ticket and flew down (both times) without asking for anything in return. I don’t think I ever said how much I appreciated it. I’m not good at showing appreciation. Maybe since Ed is a fellow Aquarius, he understands that.

When I was going through my divorce, it was a very difficult patch of time in my life. Ed was always there to talk to. He might be the only person I know that looks at things more logically than I do. Of course, the women don’t appreciate it. Is there such a thing as love in logic? Or logic in love?

I could write all day from my memoirs of our teenage years together. We played AD&D, we setup Bulletin Board Services, we played chess, we wrote software, etc. You name it, we did it. It’s the only thing I remember enjoying about being a teenager in the desert.

Here’s to Ed. Thanks man!


I use Hostmonster for my web hosting. I picked it because of the cute little blond on the front page.

I'd give you my website, but there is literally nothing of interest there. I started out in earnest and when I hit my first hurdle I sat down and rested.

So it surprised me today when I got the email from Hostmonster that my account had been suspended for activity that violated their terms of use.

They gave me an 800 number to call so I called it.

Apparently I had setup a message board that was getting inundated with spam.

Remember back when I hit my first hurdle? I was trying to setup a message board and I couldn't get it to work so I bailed on the idea. However, I left my failed attempt behind (it wasn't taking up that much space and I thought I'd get back to it later).

Apparently, it was working because someone was posting lots and lots of messages. So many messages that the Hostmonster server flagged it.

A technical guy answered the phone at Hostmonster really quick and helped me to disable the message board (that I thought wasn't working anyway). He only chuckled at me politely. I was disappointed that the cute blond didn't answer the phone though.