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Archive for January, 2009

January 25th, 2009

Approaching The Finish Line

This is the first winter that the outdoor cold has been able to keep me inside despite cabin fever.  I want to go out for a walk, but every time I go to the door and step outside to check the weather, something inside of me just wants to go crawl back into bed and wait for spring. 

I’m getting old.  There.  I said it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Approaching The Finish Line

Meanwhile, In Linuxville…

[Geek Alert…]

I run CentOS 5.2 here on Mowgli, the main workstation here at Casa del Garrett.  Those of you who’ve been with me for a while, may remember my "Clawing My Way To Linuxville" series of posts.  So far, I’ve been enormously happy with CentOS, which is basically Redhat Enterprise but without the proprietary Redhat parts.  Linux nowadays seems to be a perfectly acceptable replacement for Windows in a lot of applications.  So I was unimpressed, to say the least, to read all this over on Slashdot a moment ago…

Linux: Linus Switches From KDE to Gnome

An anonymous reader writes "In a recent Computerworld interview, Linus revealed that he’s switched to Gnome — this despite launching a heavily critical broadside against Gnome just a few years ago. His reason? He thinks KDE 4 is a ‘disaster.’ Although it’s improved recently, he’ll find many who agree with this prognosis, and KDE 4 can be painful to use." There’s quite a bit of interesting stuff in this interview, besides, regarding the current state of Linux development.

KDE and Gnome the two popular graphical user interfaces for Linux.  Think of them as the Windows part of Microsoft Windows.  Reading the Slashdot user comments about KDE debacle put me in mind of the disaster that was Windows’ Vista, but on a smaller scale.  This only affects one windowing system…the other is apparently still stable and usable.  But many Linux users find Gnome to be much too simplistic.  I use KDE myself, largely because of it’s flexibility and it’s feature depth.  I particularly like the copy buffer icon on the taskbar.  I use that a lot because the Linux copy buffer is not nearly as smoothly integrated with everything else as the Windows and Mac copy buffers are.  That’s the difference between Open Source and proprietary.  In Open Source land you have a lot of different people all doing their own thing while still trying to get along with each other somehow. 

I’ve been unaffected by this KDE issue.  CentOS isn’t bleeding edge Linux.  Sometimes that means there are features missing from it that the more trendy Linux distributions have.  But it is very stable and usable and that’s why I’ve kept with it.  That they have waited for KDE 4 to get itself sorted out before pushing it out to their user base really impresses me a lot now.  I had no idea all this was going on over in KDE-land and that’s because the CentOS software updates never forced it on me.  If my Linux desktop had broken the way some of these Slashdot commenters are complaining about I’d have been furious.

What you need to understand about Linux, for those of you still a bit mystified by it, is that Linux is just a kernel.  The kernel is the most basic part of a computer operating system…it’s the low level functionality that manages memory, input-output, loads and runs applications, and so on.  The part you and I interact with is called the Shell.  A shell can be a simple text based command-line or it can be a dazzling graphical interface with Windows and sound effects and all sorts of eye candy.  But basically the shell is the user interface…the part that allows you to tell the kernel what you want it to do, and get messages back from the kernel about what it’s doing.  There are also other "layers" that control things like the network connections and video display.  Think of all this as layers of an onion, with the user interface, the part you and I see, at the top and the kernel at the bottom, right next to the actual hardware which is at the very center.  That’s your computer the way the software running on it sees it.

Linux is just the kernel part.  Everything else is the layer stuff added onto it.  That layer stuff is usually packaged into "distributions" so you and I don’t have to spend hours if not days building everything ourselves from the kernel out.  Popular distributions are Redhat, SuSE, Madriva, Ubuntu, Debian.  There are tons of others, including such as "Scientific Linux" which some folks at work use, and Kbuntu, which is Ubuntu disaffected.  Each Linux distribution, or "distro", builds up and tweaks the layers in its own way.  Some are more targeted toward server usage.  Some, like Ubuntu, target the desktop user.  The thing to keep in mind is that they’re all different takes on how to build a complete operating system from the basic Linux kernel.

As I said, I run the CentOS distro nowadays.  It’s not nearly as trendy as Ubuntu, and there have been times I’ve been disappointed that it lags well behind other Linux distributions in terms of features and supported applications (I still can’t get the Amazon mp3 downloader to work on it)  But CentOS is a very stable platform to be running on, which I really appreciate.  I can do most everything I need to do on it, and what I can’t do on CentOS I can on one of my household Macs.  So I don’t need Windows anymore.  I have an XP license for Mowgli that I haven’t booted up in almost a year.  Its security patches are so out of date now that I’m almost afraid to.

CentOS, as I said, is Redhat Enterprise without the Redhat proprietary parts.  It’s all open source and "free" software.  The other thing you need to understand about Linux, is the Open Source part.  Open Source is free as in "free beer", but more critically to those of us who work with computers for a living, Open Source is free as in freedom.  That Windows XP license I have is a good example of what I mean. 

I had to rebuild Mowgli some time ago, when its motherboard failed.  XP uses an online license branding scheme that only unlocks Windows for use if you have a valid license key.  When you install it on a computer, you have to give it your key and it phones back to Redmond to verify that the key is genuine.  Then it grabs the serial number off your CPU, and the mac number off your network card and a few other unique IDs from various hardware components and then it computes a "brand" for your individual machine which it then encrypts and records somewhere.  Whenever you start Windows up it checks the brand against the hardware to make sure it’s still running on the same machine you installed it on. 

Suppose you have a hardware failure and you have to replace something with one of those unique IDs the brand was generated against?  XP will know when you boot it up after replacing hardware, that something changed.  So long as your license key was valid, it will simply recompute the brand.  But only up to two times.  After that, you must call Microsoft and ask for permission to reinstall XP.  You have to call Microsoft in other words, and convince the droid you’re talking to that you’re not pirating their software by copying it onto more machines then you bought a license for.

This is simply not an issue with Open Source software.  Your machine breaks…just fix it and re-install Linux.  Replace a motherboard?  No problem.  Need more power?  No problem.  Go ahead and upgrade anything on your machine.  Replace that memory.  Get a new video card.  Get a faster network card.  Upgrade the whole motherboard.  It doesn’t matter.  Need a second machine?  Fine.  Go ahead and install your copy of Linux on that one too.  Go ahead and give a copy to all your friends for that matter.  It’s no problem.

As a software engineer whose career has shifted a tad away from coding applications to designing and integrating systems, I’ve seen over and over how restrictive licensing demands from commercial vendors stifle productivity and innovation.  And it’s making people switch to Open Source more and more.  At the Open Source Developer’s Conference in Portland last year, a group of folks from one NASA project focused on satellite image analyis, told us how they chose several Open Source development platforms to do their experiments on, specifically because they knew they’d eventually have to scale them up to more powerful computers and they didn’t want to have to deal with re-licensing and re-branding their software every time they upgraded their hardware. Now whenever they need to upgrade the hardware they just pick their software up and plop it down on the new hardware and that’s that.  Free software is about Freedom, not free as in getting something for nothing. 

Some commercial Linux distros are trying to take a more Microsoft approach to their business model, and have instituted a limited software branding scheme.  They do that mostly to sell their maintenance services to the business community.  Redhat Enterprise now brands itself in a way similar to Windows XP.  But you don’t need to bother with Redhat unless you are a business and you would rather use their technical support then your own in-house IT staff to maintain your workstations.  Linux and other Open Source software is typically distributed under a license that allows anyone to use the software and freely incorporate it into their own proprietary software products, so long as the Open Source part remains open and freely re-distributable. 

That is how CentOS can distribute a Linux version that is almost Identical to Redhat Enterprise.  It is basically all the open source parts of Redhat enterprise, without any of the the proprietary Redhat stuff in it. So it’s missing, basically, the Redhat installer, the Redhat software updater, and a few other proprietary Redhat componants.  Open Source replacements exist for all those proprietary componants, so this is no problem.  You are completely on your own in terms of support…but that’s the other side of the freedom coin.  If you need support, then you can always buy a commercial distro.  End user licenses for those are usually a lot less expensive then a Windows license anyway.

A co-worker says that Open Source suffers from the "too many cooks" problem, and he’s right to a degree.  But this disaster with KDE just goes to show how that can be a protection from the one dictatorial grand and glorious vision that turns out to be crap…like Windows Vista.  No one company controls Linux.  Linus Torvalds still controls the Kernel he started so many years ago as a student project.  But the Linux kernel is one part of an Open Source community of people and software.  It’s not the whole thing that’s suddenly gone bad now, like Windows Vista, just one Open Source component, and there are actually many alternatives you can use in the meantime, Gnome being only one.  Freedom can be messy.  So many people going in so many different directions.  But that’s a good thing.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Meanwhile, In Linuxville…

January 24th, 2009

There Can Be No Morality Without Religion…(continued)

Via Sullivan…  Pope Ratzinger welcomes into his fold, a bishop who claims the Holocaust never happened…

Pope lifts excommunications of 4 bishops

Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the excommunications of four bishops consecrated without papal consent 20 years ago by the late French ultraconservative Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the Vatican announced Saturday.

One of the four bishops was shown this week in an interview saying that the Nazi gas chambers probably didn’t exist. The report prompted Rome’s chief rabbi to ask the Vatican to halt plans to rehabilitate him.

Lefebvre rebelled against the Vatican’s modernizing reforms of the 1960s, including replacing Latin with local languages at Mass.

Benedict has already reached out to the rebels in the hopes of bringing them back into the Church by making it the old Mass more readily available.

"The Holy Father in this decision was inspired by the wish that full reconciliation and full communion can be achieved soon," the Vatican said.

Richard Williamson said in a Swedish state TV interview that historical evidence "is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed." The Vatican had no comment on the report.

More Here

Traditionalist bishop: ‘There were no gas chambers’

Bishop Richard Williamson is a hardline ultra-conservative bishop of the Society of St Pius X. He is excommunicated from the RC church, along with his three brother SSPX bishops but as we report, and also according to reports coming out of Rome, the excommunications could be lifted soon by the Pope. It could even be lifted by Sunday, according to the usually reliable Rorate Caeli. And that while he faces possible prosecution for Holocaust denial in Germany after an interview with a reporter from Swedish TV in which he claimed that six million Jews did not die in the Holocaust, merely a few thousand, and that the gas chambers did not exist. CathCon has the translation of the Der Spiegel report and more on the likely lifting of those excommunications. Could the clock really be turned back this far on Nostra Aetate and the teachings of Vatican II?

In an earlier story in the Catholic Herald,  Bishop Williamson was exposed as endorsing the forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion…

If he brings them back in with Williamson on board, then truly it will be a disaster. Vatican II might as well never have happened and it won’t just  be the Jewish community that would be justifiably disgusted. For many thousands of lay Catholics the world over, this could be the final proof that what the atheist bus campaign suggested was true: ‘There probably is no God.’ At least not the God that Williamson and his like believe in. Who could blame them, then, if they put traditionalist Catholic guilt aside, and get on and enjoy their lives.

I hope people don’t get it into their heads that this is merely Ratzinger’s German heritage coming to the fore because this sort of thing horrifies a lot of Germans.  It’s his fascist soul that’s peeking out now.  They say men don’t change, they just reveal themselves.  Well…this is Ratzinger. 

…and he’s eminently representative of that vein of fascism in the Catholic church that was not only on Hitler’s side once upon a time, and the Spanish dictator Franco, but actively helped many of his henchmen escape justice after the war.  The reason strongly Catholic Spain can have same-sex marriage regardless of what the church thinks of it is because so many Spaniards remember how cozy the Catholic church was with Franco while Spain suffered under his thumb, and they care more about the church keeping its fingers the hell out of their government then what the Pope thinks about anything.

American protestants shouldn’t be feeling too smug about all this either because while there are folks in the Henry Ford heartland who think the Catholic church is the whore of Babylon, they also think Protocols is as literally true as the King James bible.  The only reason the kook pews give a good goddamn about Israel is their nutty end times theology.  They could care less about the fate of the Jews…they need Israel to exist so the world can end.  Then American right wing Jesus will come back to earth and cast them all into the lake of fire along with the other non-believers.  And…presumably Catholics.  And Mormons for sure.  And Unitarians.  And Quakers.  And the heathens in the church across the street.  Especially them.

Hell’s a big place all right.  As big as the human capacity to hate each other.  As big as our ability to excuse ourselves for killing each other.  And heaven is so very small.  So very, very small.  Just big enough for me…but probably not big enough for you too.  And remember…there can be no morality without religion…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on There Can Be No Morality Without Religion…(continued)

A Little Household Computer Upkeep…

[Geek Alert…]

Well I installed the new 1 terabyte data drive into Bagheera (the art room computer) and copied the contents of the backup drive back over to it.  When that was done I did another Unix diff on the two drives and when it all looked good I restarted Bagheera with the new drive in place.  Because last time iTunes had given me the least amount of trouble, I started it up first.  As it so happened, this time around it was iTunes that gave me the most trouble, but I eventually got past it.

When I first installed the secondary data drive into Bagheera, I moved my iTunes library over to it on the theory that it having it there would give it space to grow independently of the system drive.  Replacing a system drive because you need more space is a bear of a chore, compared to replacing a drive that holds nothing but data.  And anyway the iTunes music library is data, as opposed to iTunes itself which is an application, so it belonged on the data drive.

As I recall it, last time I did this I simply went into the iTunes preferences dialogue and re-pointed it to the Music folder on the data drive and everything worked again.  This time when I brought Bagheera back up, iTunes had somehow convinced itself that its music library was now on the friggin’ backup drive and pointing it back to the new data drive did not convince it otherwise.  How that happened I have no idea.  In theory, the music library appeared in both places: the new data drive and the backup drive, which I had not dismounted when I rebooted Bagheera.  My guess is the backup drive appeared in the search path first somehow, and iTunes ignored the new drive and automatically re-attached itself to the library on the backup drive. And I could not convince it to go get its music files from the new drive no matter what I did.

After a little digging around online I found out that you have to let iTunes copy its library over to a new drive itself…you can’t just copy it yourself and then point iTunes to the new location.  So…first you point iTunes to the new location by going into Preferences and in the Advanced menu change the iTunes Music Folder location.  Make sure you have "keep the folder organized" and "copy music into the music folder when adding it to the library" checked.  Then you have to go to File -> Library -> Consolidate Library and iTunes will then copy all the music files from the old location to the new.

This was incredibly frustrating as I’d already copied the damn music files…but apparently iTunes now exerts more control over them then it used to…probably to strengthen the DRM technology, although Apple is said to be getting rid of all that soon.  You can’t just copy them yourself and tell iTunes where they are now.  You have to let iTunes do the copy.  So I sat there and watched iTunes copy over every music file I’d already copied over but when it was done it was satisfied and I could play my music again.

Next I fired up Aperture expecting another hassle.  See…I’d just replaced a drive is all.  When I formatted the new drive I gave it the same volume name as the last one, which is "Bagheera_Data_1".   So in theory all the files were in the same location pathwise.  If IMAGE_123.tiff was located in /Volumes/Bagheera_Data_1/Photos/Digital/California_2007/IMAGE_123.tiff on the old drive, then on the new drive wouldn’t you know it, it’s located there too.  Simple, no?  But as I said before, Aperture (and apparently iTunes now) uses a hidden volume serial number to locate where files are, instead of just the volume name.  So when I brought up Aperture last time with the new drive mounted it thought it was missing all its master image files, even though no, they were right where they always were, just on a new drive.  Why Apple does it this way I have no idea but it’s goddamned frustrating. 

And when Aperture came up so slowly that it seemed to have hung I thought for sure I was in trouble.  But apparently the Aperture 2 has smarts enough built-in that when it sees its master file references all broken it goes and looks for them in the most logical places…like…oh…the same Unix pathspec as before.  Wow…what a concept.  But that was why it was so slow coming up apparently, because when it did come up it had found and re-attached all its master image files correctly.


While all this was going on I decided to also start the process of migrating the Macs here at Casa del Garrett from OSX 10.4, otherwise known as "Tiger", to OSX 10.5, otherwise known as "Leopard".   I decided to use Akela, the 12" G4 Powerbook, as my guinea pig.  Akela has several devices installed on it, and some critical software like Photoshop (you are allowed to install one copy of Photoshop on a desktop computer and a laptop so long as both machines are yours).  It also had the Wacom tablet installed on it too, for times when I went on a road trip and I wanted to be able keep on doing my cartoons on the road.  I wanted to see if a straight system upgrade would break any of my critical applications and the Wacom or not.

I have two Macs here at Casa del Garrett: Akela and Bagheera.  So I need two licenses for Leopard.  But really, I only need one install disk.  So I asked one of the nice Apple droids at the Apple Store at Towson Town Mall if I could buy two licenses on one install media.  No, says she, not two…but you can buy a family pack of five licenses.  Well, says I, I don’t need five, only two, so I reckon I’ll just buy two individual install discs.  Oh, says she, but a family pack costs less then two individual install disks.  What??? 

It’s true.  One OSX 10.5 upgrade disc costs $130.  A family pack license, which includes the install disk of course, costs $200.  So buying five licenses, even though I only need two, saves me $60. Not bad, except I’m wasting three licenses…and before anybody asks, according to the license terms I can’t just give them to anyone who doesn’t actually live under my roof, unless they’re a family member off in school somewhere.  But my nephew is running a Windows laptop (which I bought him), so he doesn’t need it.  My niece will probably be running a Windows laptop too when it comes her turn.  But I have to like Apple for making it cheaper to buy five licenses then two, when they could have just priced the family pack such that it was a deal only if you were going to buy three or more.  It saved me $60 bucks.

I backed up Akela and tested the backup by booting off the backup drive before installing Leopard.  If this was the only thing Apple did better then Microsoft I’d be running Apple products here at home all the same.  Being able to recover from a system disk failure by booting off the backup drive is wonderful.  You just can’t do that with Windows…the license branding scheme alone prevents it and Windows has always been funky in the way it uses special hidden files that you can’t copy to a backup drive while its running in order to operate.  Unix like systems, which is what MacOS is these days, don’t do that to you.  At some point I’d like to get something like that going on Mowgli, but booting off a USB drive on an Intel box is more problematical.  I don’t think Mowgli’s current hardware allows it.  On the Mac you can boot off of external Firewire drives, but at least on the PowerPC machines not off of a USB drive.  I think you can on the new Intel based Macs though.

Installing Leopard on Akela turned out to be a very simple process, and so far everything looks good.  I’ll give it a more thorough test tomorrow.  In the meantime, everything is still looking good on Bagheera.  Since Bagheera is so important to my art room work, I’m going to work with it for a couple weeks I think, before proceeding on with my plan, which is to upgrade Bagheera’s system drive and then upgrade it to Leopard.  The current system drive on Bagheera is only 75 gig and I’m up against the line on it.  300 gig drives are selling at Best Buy for around $60, so I may just buy one of those and install it when I’m convinced the data drive upgrade didn’t break anything.  One thing at a time.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Little Household Computer Upkeep…

January 23rd, 2009

Mental Health Break

Featuring my favorite Muppet…

I’ve got a little Crazy Harry action figure that stands watch over my office desk. He came complete with his faithful detonator, a barrel of double-x gunpowder and two sticks of dynamite. Animal had nothing on Crazy Harry.

I’ve been looking for this clip for ages. It’s one of my all time favorites. Makes me giggle every time I watch. I absolutely loved the way Jim Henson used to send-up all those cheesy 1970s easy listening pop tunes. I can’t hear this song played any more (Chanson D’Amour), thankfully, without also hearing Crazy Harry’s Ra-Ta-Ta-Ta-Ta and explosion. All elevator music should be like this.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Mental Health Break

Odd Body Scale

We’re all built to our own scale.  The human body is differently expressed in each of us.  And sometimes a tad oddly.  I’m thinking about this as I’m waiting for a new winter hat I ordered online to arrive. 

I’m built to a somewhat small-ish scale.  Height wise, I seem to be in the average range for a U.S. male: 5’9".  But my frame is slender, even as I walk through middle age and put on some weight.  Relative to other guys I am still pretty thin…but relative to where I was when I was a younger man I am much bigger in the waste and upper chest.  The body fat comes, I am certain, from my lifestyle, which is mostly centered around earning a living as a software engineer.  That keeps me sitting down most of the day.  Also, most of my favorite pastimes (like…er…blogging) involve many rigorous hours of sitting down.  That isn’t good for me at my age, but being single there is no one in my life to prod me, entice me, scold me into being more active.  So I sit a lot.  Even so, I’m still fitting nicely into my 31 inch waist 501s. 

Shirts are the biggest problem.  In theory I take a size small.  Medium is too big in the shoulders.  But sometimes small is too small in the waist, and sometimes…weirdly…small is too large in the waist.  Or too long.  Or too short.  I have to try on Every Shirt before I buy it.  It’s a pain…the biggest reason I hate shopping for clothes.  Jeans and other pants are usually no problem.  Business casual (which I hate) is easy.  I just buy to the waist and inseam (32) and forget it.  They don’t have to fit perfectly because they’re…business casual…and I hate business casual.  Nice business suits I get tailored to fit so they’re no problem.  I usually buy off the rack and then have them adjusted.  At this point in my life I only have four suits and I seldom wear them.  Bathing suits and briefs I have to really pay attention to the manufacturer’s sizing charts.  My waist is 31 and nobody agrees on what that is.  Sometimes it’s small.  Sometimes it’s medium.  One online bathing suit seller I’ve dealt with even calls that large.  I suspect they’re doing that so that most males can order extra-extra-extra large in the bathing suit department, and feel Uber masculine. 

Shoes are the one rock solid constant in my life.  I take a 7 1/2.  This is where everyone says I’m really small for a guy and I reckon it must be true because 7 1/2 is hard to find.  One straight friend was constantly telling me I have woman’s feet, so I guess a woman’s feet are generally smaller then a male’s.  But like everything else about my body, I think I’m "just right" and everyone else is unusual, even when the sizing charts are telling me I’m the unusual one.  I am always being told by shoe sales droids to "just try the size eights…they’ll probably fit" and they don’t.  I take a 7 1/2.  I’ve worn this size since I was at least 16.  The feet are the one thing about me that has never changed.

I’d never measured my head for a hat until this week, because I’d never bought one online before.  But when the hard freeze set in last week I realized none of my caps really kept my ears very warm.  I have a wool cap but it has shrunk over the years what with getting snowed and rained on and now it really looks dorky on me.  I have a severe weather goose down coat with a nice goosedown hood you can clip onto it…but wearing that hood around without the jacket would look even more dorky.  I got it in mind to buy a Russian winter hat like the one I used to have when I was a kid…

That’s me on one of my sleds way back in the Courthouse Square days.  I think I’m 11 or 12 here.  The shadow in the foreground is mom taking the snapshot.  I remembered that cap being really nice because I could flip up the ear flaps when I didn’t need them, and flip down the front flap when it was snowing and it kept the stuff out of my eyes.  I had no idea it was a common Russian design until one day an old lady smiled at me as I passed by and told me my hat made me look just like a little boy from her hometown back in Russia.  I must have looked a bit alarmed because those were the cold war days and Russia was the enemy and I didn’t particularly want to look like one.  I do remember smiling back to her and I kept on walking.  But years later I would remember it and feel sad for her.  In those days she was more likely then not an escapee from behind the iron curtain and feeling adrift in a strange land.  I should have stopped to talk to her.

Anyway…  So I decided to buy another one of these and I started looking around for one.  Naturally none of the local stores here carried them, so I went online and found plenty.  But I needed to measure my head before ordering.  So I got out the cloth tape measure from mom’s old sewing kit that I inherited after she passed away, and wrapped it around my head like the online guides to finding your hat size suggested.  I measure 23 inches around the top of my head.  That translates to a size large.

Mom always said I had dad’s big head, but I don’t think she meant that literally.  Anyway I found that interesting.  My feet are small for a guy…my waist is slim but not narrow…I normally take a small shirt and small in gloves…and my head is…large.  Now…I know that there are plenty of guys with bigger heads then mine…and I’ve talked with enough of them to understand perfectly that when it comes to intellect size does not matter.  No.  It just doesn’t.  But I would have thought I took a small there too and I don’t.  As I understand it, your head pretty much stops growing in adolescence. 

All my life I’ve had a terrible time figuring out what to think of my own body.  I have a natural inclination to think favorably of it…but I keep getting feedback (Hi Joe!) that I’m really not very good looking.  And being single for most all my life, it’s pretty hard to keep thoughts that you’re really an ugly bastard out of your head.  Logically I know that it’s all relative. When I was a skinny young male I thought I looked scrawny and awful.  Now I look at photos of me from that period and I am floored by how cute I was.  And since I stopped eating junk food and lost thirty pounds and got back into my 31 inch jeans I look a lot better now then I did a few years ago.  But after getting told to my face that guys who look like that want guys who look like that, its something else to stress about as I ponder being just a few years shy of 60 and still single.  My feet are small and my head is big.  I actually had to buy my winter boots in a female size because none of the stores had what I was looking for in 7 1/2 but I could get exactly the boot I wanted in a female size…I forget which now, they number them differently from guy’s sizes…that fit perfectly.  The advantage to being a gay male is you don’t feel de-masculinized when you have to wear woman’s boots.  I have small feet and a big head.  But at least the head will be warm when my hat gets here.

by Bruce | Link | React! (4)

Upgrading Bagheera…(again)

[Geek Alert…]

One reason I started this blog once upon a time, was as a way of journaling.  I hadn’t kept a diary since I was a teenager, and I thought it would be useful to have a journal I could reference from time to time.  I note here, that back in March of 2007 I wrote a series of posts about upgrading Bagheera’s (my art room Mac) data drive from 200 gig to 500

This was back when my Big Scan Project (wherein I am running all the film I’ve ever shot through the Uber nice Nikon Coolscan 5000 ED film scanner I bought back in December of 2006) was starting to really fill Bagheera’s data drive.  The plan was that, hopefully, the price of disk storage would keep going down, so rather then buy several terribytes of hard disk space upfront I would just replace the data drive when it got full and hopefully the next step up would be affordable by then.

I further note in my blog archives that I bought Bagheera back in October of 2004, from the local Apple store in the Towson Town Mall.  Bagheera as I recall didn’t have a second hard drive in it when I bought it.  I added the 2 gig drive at a later date but I don’t see it noted in my blog posts when I installed it, just a first reference to it on November 2005.  I started the Big Scan in December of 2006.  By March of 2007 I needed to upgrade the 200 gig drive to 500.  It’s January 2009, and the 500 gig drive is almost full.  Time to buy more.

I was going to go for 2 terabytes but I couldn’t find 2 locally and my favorite online computer parts store, Directron, didn’t have any for sale, surprisingly, because I know I saw them selling 2 terabyte drives a couple months ago when I was noticing I was getting close to the line on the 500.  But I am up against the line now and I have some projects I can’t do without more disk space so I went to Best Buy and bought a 1 terrabyte Western Digital SATA for Bagheera.

It’s down in the art room now.  Some things have changed since the last time I did this.  For one thing, I’m using SuperDuper as my backup software now, not Retrospect.  Retrospect put everything into one great big backup file with a companion index file…similar to the way a lot of backup programs work.  SuperDuper simply makes a straight file copy of everything onto whatever other drive you point it to, making the backup drive’s file system identical to the one you’re backing up.  What I like about that is that if my data drive fails for whatever reason, I can just plug in the backup drive (after making a safety copy) and I can get right back to work.  Or I can just pull off files directly from the backup drive if and when I need to revert back to a previous copy of something. 

But Retrospect had one feature that SuperDuper does not and that’s it does a verification pass after it’s done backing up.  So I’m currently doing a Unix diff command on the two drives to make sure everything on the backup drive is good before I pull the old data drive out.

I use two Western Digital USB/Firewire external drives for my backups and keep one in my desk at work and the other here and rotate them weekly.  I do this with Bagheera’s system drive too.  The nice thing about Apple computers is that you can make a bootable copy of your system drive onto a Firewire external drive and if your system drive ever fails you can boot directly off the backup drive.  I love that…it gives you much peace of mind.

The other thing that’s changed is I’m running Aperture 2 now.  In my previous post I wrote about how Aperature made upgrading the data drive difficult because it would not use the volume name to get the path back to its referenced image files.  So after I copied over my image library back over to the new drive, Aperture complained that it couldn’t find its reference files and I had to manually "reattach" the masters.  Hopefully Aperture 2 does all that a little more elegantly now.  We’ll see.

So right now Bagheera is doing a ‘diff’ on the data drive and the backup drive.  I expect that to take most of the rest of the night.  When that’s done, if the diff found no problems, I’ll start doing the drive swap. After I get that taken care of, the plan is to upgrade Bagheera’s system drive and upgrade to Mac OSX 1.5 (Leopard).  I’m still at Tiger, largely because I am not sure how well Leopard will run on the only single processor G5 Mac Pro Apple ever made. 

It took two months shy of two years to use up the 300 gig of extra space I bought back in 2007, but I’ve been spotty about sticking to the Big Scan.  If I’d run Bagheera and the scanner constantly it would have probably taken less time, but I have other things I want to use Bagheera for besides scanning in old (and new) film, so the Big Scan is an off and on project. 

Sometime this coming year I may well purchase a more powerful Mac Pro for the art room.  Four years is pretty old in computer years, and already I’m seeing Mac software out there that won’t run on Tiger.  But upgrading Bagheera is budget and work status dependent.  If I’m looking for another job by the end of this year, like a lot of other Americans already are, I may be worried about more then how slow my art room Mac is getting.  If I do it though, I’ll make the old machine into a dedicated film scanner and then just keep running film through it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Upgrading Bagheera…(again)

January 22nd, 2009

You Mean They’re Not All Gay…?

I’ve been seeing the "news" headline pop up on my Google News page, that Stan Lee is working on a new gay superhero he’s planning to debut soon.  Swell, thinks I, another mainstream gay stereotype, only this time in tights, is just what we need.  Not.  But no…as it turns out, there’s more to it.  Lots more.  Would you believe, that the actual creator of this new gay superhero, Perry Moore, is a gay Christian and the executive producer on the Chronicles of Narnia films?

Boy Gets Boy, Saves Earth: A Gay Christian Writer’s Plan to Change the World

What the hell do you care for the people of this planet?” a powerful savior-turned-villain bellows at Thom Creed, the eponymous teenage superhero in Perry Moore’s Lambda Award-winning novel, Hero. “They hate you, they call you names and they’re ashamed of you,” the bad guy says as he prepares to unleash a terrifying monster known as the Planet Eater. “You know I’m telling the truth. You’re all so stupid, and you’re killing this world anyway. I’m just giving you a little nudge, a gentle push.” Perhaps it’s not giving too much away to reveal that Thom, a young gay man whose sexuality is only one of several special gifts, manages to save the Earth and find true love by the novel’s last pages.

That dramatic arc may be unremarkable in a story where a boy-hero wins the heart of his ladylove, but as the scion of a literary genre—comic books—in which gay characters tend to meet a gruesome end, Hero is nothing short of revolutionary. And as Moore puts the finishing touches on the serialized small-screen adaptation of his novel for Showtime, it appears that the revolution will indeed be televised.

“Look at these tent-pole gay movies like Milk and Brokeback that straight people get behind,” Moore said in a telephone interview from his home in New York City. “The heroes die terrible deaths or endure terrible tragedies. And the characters like us that we see on TV are often the gay version of the Stepin Fetchit stereotype. Mine will be the first show where the gay character is a true hero and he isn’t doomed.”

Well Perry Moore has just won himself a fan.  That Tragic Gay Ending is one of my biggest beefs with mainstream pop culture’s representation of us.  Same sex love isn’t allowed to win.  It has to die horribly.  Either that, or the gay characters aren’t allowed to be whole people, just soulless, sexless, Stepin Fetchit stereotypes. 

“God has a really big mission for me,” says Moore, who’s producing the Showtime series with Stan Lee, the former head of Marvel Comics who has supervised the development of successful crossover storylines like Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man and the Hulk. “A younger generation needs to supplant the older generation of bigots—that’s why Thom’s story is important.”

Ohhh…  Take that James Dobson.  I gotta go buy me this book…

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

It’s Morning In America. No…For Real This Time…

Just ran across this on SLOG…

A Friend, Who’s a Lawyer, Stayed Up Last Night Reading Obama’s First Two Executive Orders

Posted by Christopher Frizzelle on Thu, Jan 22 at 6:09 AM

Here’s what he discovered:

I was perusing and, as a nerd lawyer who enjoys reading written law (meaning statutes, regulations and the like), found myself reading Mr. O’President’s first two Executive Orders. One involves procedures for release by the Archivist of documents possibly subject to a claim of executive privilege by the incumbent or a former President. Zzzzzzzzzzzz. The other is styled "Ethical Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel," setting forth rules about such things as acceptance of gifts and revolving door issues. What caught my eye, what would never have been ordered by W, is the following Ethical Commitment:

"6. Employment Qualification Commitment. I agree that any hiring or other employment decisions I make will be based on the candidate’s qualifications, competence, and experience."

This is huge. Understand that if an Executive Branch employee violates that rule, the Attorney General can go after the miscreant, including barring him or her from government service, barring him or her from lobbying the Federal government, enjoining him from the violation, and going after any cash or other things of value he or she got.

How different would today’s Justice Department, for example, look if such an Order had been in place in 2001? How many Federalist Society lawyers would have been hired ahead of Top Ten grads from major law schools?

Imagine! A requirement that public servants be selected based on their "qualifications, competence, and experience." We are entering a mysterious, brave, new world, one based on, um, common sense and the public interest.

One of my old and dear friends is a patent and copyright attorney.  I’m going to forward him this.  He might get a kick out of reading all the stuff on that’s going on in the public view now.

We are truly living in a new era…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on It’s Morning In America. No…For Real This Time…

Has It Been A Year…Already?

I just got my first Valentine’s Day spam from FTD.   Maybe they finally figured out trying to sell me Mother’s Day flowers every year since mom died isn’t getting them much business.   Problem is, reminding me I’ll be single for yet another Valentine’s Day isn’t helping adjust my attitude toward them any either…

Subject:   Save 25% and Send a Big Hug to Someone You Love

Why…yes.   I would absolutely love to send a great Big Hug to Someone I Love.   Alas, the few Someones in my life who fit that category of Someone I Would Love To Send A Great Big Hug To are all happily coupled…er…to other people.   So I really don’t think I should be sending flowers to any of them.

Save 25%. Send Someone You Love a Big Hug! The FTD ® Big Hug ® Bouquet. Now Only $29.99. Same day delivery available. Offer ends Saturday.

The Most Romantic Day is Near! Place Your Valentine’s Day Order Now and Save Up To 20%.

Yes, The Most Romantic Day Is Near.   Thanks for reminding me.   Bastards.

The Lonely Rose by Demonmiss27

…and I’ll get your idiot spam on Mother’s Day again this year too won’t I?

But I won’t mope around the house.   No.   I’m going to get right to work on This Years Valentine’s Day Poster Contest!   It’ll be Fun!

The folks over at SLOG are making me wish I was in Seattle for Valentine’s Day this year…

The Stranger’s 12th Annual Valentines Day Bash

Every year on Valentine’s Day the Stranger hosts a very special event for the heartbroken, the recently dumped, the bitterly divorced. Single people bring mementos of failed relationships to our Valentine’s Day Bash and we invite them up on to the stage, we listen to their sad stories, we boo their awful exes, and then we destroy their mementos live onstage in front of a cheering crowd. Over the last 12 years we’ve burned wedding photos, weve smashed engagement rings to smithereens, shattered sex toys after dipping them in liquid nitrogen, had gay boys beat off on the favorite t-shirts of homophobic ex-boyfriends, and taped pictures inside urinals and broadcast live, streaming video of live, streaming urine running down the faces of lying, cheating, scheming, heartless ex-girlfriends.

The Bash is coming up fast—did you know that Valentine’s Day is on February 14 this year?—and you could consider this your save-the-date notice if you weren’t, you know, GOING TO BE ALONE ON VALENTINE’S DAY, seeing as you don’t have a date to save the date for BECAUSE YOU JUST GOT DUMPED. So instead consider this your personal invitation to start looking around for a memento to bring to the Bash. We don’t want to get all woo-woo about this, but we’ve heard from past Bash participants that they were truly moved by the experience and it did, on some level, help ’em heal. And, hey, if you’re single on Valentine’s Day, what better place to be than a room full of drunk, single people on the serious rebound?

Wonder if I can get something like this going here in Baltimore.   Somehow Baltimore seems like a more perfect place for it then Seattle.   But maybe all that rain they get in the Pacific Northwest makes them all gloomy up there.   I could show them gloomy here in Baltimore.   Maybe instead of random stuff I find out on the web, this year’s poster contest will be my own Baltimore photos.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

January 21st, 2009

Why We Fight…(continued)

43 years ago today, this is what the nation was being told about its gay citizens, by one of the big national news magazines…

It used to be "the abominable crime not to be mentioned." Today it is not only mentioned; it is freely discussed and widely analyzed. Yet the general attitude toward homosexuality is, if anything, more uncertain than before. Beset by inner conflicts, the homosexual is unsure of his position in society, ambivalent about his attitudes and identity—but he gains a certain amount of security through the fact that society is equally ambivalent about him.

A vast majority of people retain a deep loathing toward him, but there is a growing mixture of tolerance, empathy or apathy. Society is torn between condemnation and compassion, fear and curiosity, between attempts to turn the problem into a joke and the knowledge that it is anything but funny, between the deviate’s plea to be treated just like everybody else and the knowledge that he simply is not like everybody else.

…In 1948, Sexologist Alfred Kinsey published figures that homosexuals found cheering. He estimated that 4% of American white males are exclusively homosexual and that about two in five had "at least some" homosexual experience after puberty. Given Kinsey’s naive sampling methods, the figures were almost certainly wrong. But chances are that growing permissiveness about homosexuality and a hedonistic attitude toward all sex have helped "convert" many people who might have repressed their inclinations in another time or place.

Homosexuals are present in every walk of life, on any social level, often anxiously camouflaged; the camouflage will sometimes even include a wife and children, and psychoanalysts are busy treating wives who have suddenly discovered a husband’s homosexuality. But increasingly, deviates are out in the open, particularly in fashion and the arts. Women and homosexual men work together designing, marketing, retailing, and wrapping it all up in the fashion magazines. The interior decorator and the stockbroker’s wife conspire over curtains. And the symbiosis is not limited to working hours. For many a woman with a busy or absent husband, the presentable homosexual is in demand as an escort —witty, pretty, catty, and no problem to keep at arm’s length. Rich dowagers often have a permanent traveling court of charming international types who exert influence over what pictures and houses their patronesses buy, what decorators they use, and where they spend which season.

There is no denying the considerable talent of a great many homosexuals, and ideally, talent alone is what should count. But the great artists so often cited as evidence of the homosexual’s creativity—the Leonardos and Michelangelos —are probably the exceptions of genius. For the most part, thinks Los Angeles Psychiatrist Edward Stainbrook, homosexuals are failed artists, and their special creative gift a myth. No less an authority than Somerset Maugham felt that the homosexual, "however subtly he sees life, cannot see it whole," and lacks "the deep seriousness over certain things that normal men take seriously … He has small power of invention, but a wonderful gift for delightful embroidery.
Homosexual ethics and esthetics are staging a vengeful, derisive counterattack on what deviates call the "straight" world. This is evident in "pop," which insists on reducing art to the trivial, and in the "camp" movement, which pretends that the ugly and banal are fun. It is evident among writers, who used to disguise homosexual stories in heterosexual dress but now delight in explicit descriptions of male intercourse and orgiastic nightmares. It is evident in the theater, with many a play dedicated to the degradation of women and the derision of normal sex. The most sophisticated theatrical joke is now built around a homosexual situation; shock comes not from sex but from perversion. Attacks on women or society in general are neither new in U.S. writing nor necessarily homosexual, but they do offer a special opportunity for a consciously or unconsciously homosexual outlook.
They represent a kind of inverted romance, since homosexual situations as such can never be made romantic for normal audiences.  

Even in ordinary conversation, most homosexuals will sooner or later attack the "things that normal men take seriously." This does not mean that homosexuals do not and cannot talk seriously; but there is often a subtle sea change in the conversation: sex (unspoken) pervades the atmosphere. Among other matters, this raises the question of whether there is such a thing as a discernible homosexual type. Some authorities, notably Research Psychologist Evelyn Hooker of U.C.L.A., deny it—against what seems to be the opinion of most psychiatrists. The late Dr. Edmund Bergler found certain traits present in all homosexuals, including inner depression and guilt, irrational jealousy and a megalomaniac conviction that homosexual trends are universal. Though Bergler conceded that homosexuals are not responsible for their inner conflicts, he found that these conflicts "sap so much of their inner energy that the shell is a mixture of superciliousness, fake aggression and whimpering. Like all psychic masochists, they are subservient when confronted by a stronger person, merciless when in power, unscrupulous about trampling on a weaker person."

Another homosexual trait noted by Bergler and others is chronic dissatisfaction, a constant tendency to prowl or "cruise" in search of new partners. This is one reason why the "gay" bars flourishing all over the U.S. attract even the more respectable deviates.

The once widespread view that homosexuality is caused by heredity, or by some derangement of hormones, has been generally discarded. The consensus is that it is caused psychically, through a disabling fear of the opposite sex. The origins of this fear lie in the homosexual’s parents. The mother—either domineering and contemptuous of the father, or feeling rejected by him—makes her son a substitute for her husband, with a close-binding, overprotective relationship. Thus, she unconsciously demasculinizes him. If at the same time the father is weakly submissive to his wife or aloof and unconsciously competitive with his son, he reinforces the process. To attain normal sexual development, according to current psychoanalytic theory, a boy should be able to identify with his father’s masculine role.

Fear of the opposite sex is also believed to be the cause of Lesbianism, which is far less visible but, according to many experts, no less widespread than male homosexuality—and far more readily tolerated. Both forms are essentially a case of arrested development, a failure of learning, a refusal to accept the full responsibilities of life. This is nowhere more apparent than in the pathetic pseudo marriages in which many homosexuals act out conventional roles—wearing wedding rings, calling themselves "he" and "she."

Is homosexuality curable? Freud thought not. In the main, he felt that analysis could only bring the deviant patient relief from his neurotic conflicts by giving him "harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains a homosexual or gets changed." Many of Freud’s successors are more optimistic. Philadelphia’s Dr. Samuel Hadden reported last year that he had achieved twelve conversions out of 32 male homosexuals in group therapy. Paris Psychiatrist Sacha Nacht reports that about a third of his patients turn heterosexual, a third adjust to what they are, and a third get no help at all. But he feels that only about one in ten is moved to seek help in the first place.

That is the crux: most homosexuals apparently do not desire a cure…

Focus on the Family? The Mormon Times? No…Time Magazine, issue of January 21, 1966 – The Homosexual In America

You can read the whole thing Here.

I was 12 years old. By the end of the year I would turn 13, and enter my teen years in an America where the common view of gay people were that we were sick tortured twisted sexual deviants who ought to be locked up for the safety of the community. When I was 14 I would sit with my grade school peers in a sex ed class, taught by our gym teachers, who told us that homosexuals typically killed the people they had sex with, and preferred to kidnap and rape children and seduce young heterosexuals, rather then seek out other homosexuals for sexual trysts, precisely because we knew how dangerous we were. They taught us that homosexuals would become so excited during sex that we often mutilated the genitals of the people we were having sex with. They taught us that we were confused about which gender we were, and hated ourselves, and would take out that hate on other people by killing them horribly. Most unsolved murders we were told, were committed by homosexuals. That was the world I came to know myself in.

How I managed to come out of my teen years into adulthood not completely loathing myself as others of my generation did is a story I’m (very slowly I’m afraid…) telling in cartoon form in A Coming Out Story. I was so lucky…especially in that my first high school crush was so completely decent to me. Those of us who made it out of there in one piece emotionally and mentally, pretty much swore to make sure other gay kids didn’t have to go through what we did, and to fight for the honor and the dignity of our lives, and our loves, so that future generations wouldn’t have to know what it was like to have your teachers look you in the face and try to make you and all your friends believe that you were a sexual monster…a deviant…a pervert…




by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why We Fight…(continued)

The Wise Old Men Of Washington

Atrios writes

It’ll be interesting and, more often than not, frustrating to watch as the new reality takes hold in Washington. The Village conventional wisdom has been stuck in 1984 for 25 years now, and obviously things have changed. The media have been taking their cues from Republicans for so long it’s difficult to see how that will change quickly. But things have changed.

I was watching some of the TV news coverage of the inauguration last night…I haven’t watched TV news in ages its been so pathetically worthless…and I was struck by how many of the gas bags on my screen were actually older then me.  Then I remembered that I am not young either.  So why did they look so damn old?

If the Village Conventional Wisdom has been stuck in 1984, I’ve been stuck in 1976 for 32 years now.  That is…I keep thinking of myself as young when logically and rationally I know I’m not and haven’t been for quite a while.  I look in the bathroom mirror every morning and dang if I don’t see a 55 year old man staring back at me.  But I know I’m that and when I see myself in a mirror, or in a photograph, it doesn’t bother me.  But sitting on the couch watching tv (or for that matter banging on a keyboard as I am right now) somehow I just snap back into that mental self image I had back when I was a kid.

So I have no gut level apprehensions at the passing of the generational torch that I’m seeing now in some of the talking heads.  As far as the inner me is concerned, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for all my life: when what Howard Cruse once called Kennedy Time picks back up where it left off.  I’ve been waiting out Nixon Time now for so long I’d almost forgotten how it felt to be living in an America that had a bright and promising future in front of it.  I’ve no idea if Obama is going to be the kind of president Kennedy was…in point of fact I was too young during Kennedy’s all too brief administration to really grasp what was going on in the world politically.  All I knew was after being a kid in a world where the communists were lurking in all the shadows, suddenly there was nothing to be afraid of anymore.  There was a future ahead of us, and it was going to be a great adventure after all, and not something to fear.  If Kennedy hadn’t been assassinated, I wonder if the counter-culture that came later in the decade would have pushed back as hard at that era’s Wise Old Men.  Johnson was no Kennedy.  We all felt betrayed.

There is something in the air today, very much like the feeling I had back in "Kennedy Time".  Yes, there are dangers ahead, yes there are hard times facing us, but we will meet them and rise above.  We can do it.  Liberty and Justice for All can win over totalitarianism and greed and hate.  America can walk with the rest of the world into a brighter tomorrow.  We can do it.  I’m writing here about the sense of mind and spirit you feel now, not necessarily the reality on the ground.  The next few years are not going to be a cakewalk obviously.  For one thing all the apparatus of the Nixon/Reagan right are still there.  Rush Limbaugh and all the other hate jockeys will still be pumping venom into hearts and minds, although hopefully to smaller and smaller audiences.  Right wing billionaires like Howard Ahmanson will still be destabilizing our democracy with their wealth like heroin and meth pushers destroy neighborhoods.  The enemies of democracy around the world will hate us all the more for living up to our ideals then they did while Bush and Cheney were busy pissing on them and laughing.  But America is dreaming a better dream now, then the tired and fearful conceits of the Wise Old Men. 

So there I am on the sofa, watching the talking heads on TV trying to wrap their minds around this new president and this new reality and suddenly they all just look old and tired and I have to remind myself that they’re not that much older then me some of them.  And I am struck by this fact.  The entire time Bush sat like a turd in the White House and I was hating, absolutely loathing the Washington news media, The Villagers, for kissing up to him, I never really noticed how old The Villagers were.  I saw it in their faces today.  But mostly, in their smiling bewilderment.  And I remembered how Kennedy had begun, by declaring that the torch had been passed.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans-born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage-and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
John F. Kennedy – inaugural address, Friday, January 20, 1961

There’s going to be a lot of ink written about how Obama represents the passing of the tired old boomer generation.  But many of us boomers didn’t get old and tired and never let go of our dream of a better world, a just and peaceful world.  We were outflanked by the Nixonites, who simply dug in their heels and kept on fighting after Nixon resigned.  We thought the struggle was over then and it wasn’t, it was only just beginning.  Cheney and Rumfeld, who were both in the Nixon administration, and much of their gang were born either before or during the second world war.  Villagers like David S. Broder were born well before it.  If my generation is guilty of anything, it’s living too much in our dreams and not enough in the world to make them real.  I’m told that there is a saying among Jews, that when you pray you should pray as though everything depends on God, but when you act you should act as though everything depends on you.  We should treat our dreams like that.  Dream as though dreams come true.  Act as though dreams are not enough.  And never underestimate how much the darkness hates the dreamer.

One thing that struck me about Obama early in the primaries, was how good he was at taking the measure of his opposition, how decent he remained in the heat of the fight and how relentlessly focused he was on the process and the outcome.  He took the Clinton camp completely by surprise, and walked right on by them, so certain were they that their candidate was inevitable.  There’s the difference between the generations.  There’s why Obama was the better person for the job…the necessary person for the job.  Nothing is inevitable.  If the torch has now been passed to a new generation who revere the dream of liberty and justice for all, but are wise to its enemies, starry-eyed and street-smart, then we will get to the promise land.

[Edited a tad…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Wise Old Men Of Washington

January 20th, 2009

Steve…I Really Wish You Were Here To See All This…

Steve Gilliard that is.  I was just thinking now how sad it is he didn’t get to see this day.  Jim Capozzola too.  Jim I think would have loved that someone with a brain who likes to read was finally in the White House.  But Steve especially.   Steve should have lived to see this.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Steve…I Really Wish You Were Here To See All This…


I watched him take the oath of office, and heard him speak to America and the world after, with my co-workers here in the Institute auditorium.  I was too young to appreciate Kennedy, really.  But I remember not only the excitement of the adults around me, but also the sense of promise everyone saw in him.  The nation was young again, and the future was full of promise.  I never really appreciated what so many decades of Kultar Kampf had done to take that away from me.  So much Ronald Reagan.  So much Moral Majority.  So much George Bush.  So much Karl Rove.  So much James Dobson.

And then I watched Obama take the oath, and I heard him speak to America, and to the world, and I felt it again, just as I had when I was a kid, doing my duck and cover exercises, listening to the civil defense tests on the radio and TV, and nobody knew who was going to win the cold war, or the space race.  And I wasn’t the only baby boomer in that audience.  We all felt it.  I could tell.  America is young again.  The future is full of promise.  We can do it.  We can do anything…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Obama

Adventures In Home Ownership…(continued)

So…the insulate the exterior wall of the bedroom proof of concept test:  The results are pretty much what I’d hoped for.  Sunday I cut and stuck foam insulating panels on the back bedroom wall with double sided mounting tape.   For the rest of that day the temperature in the room seemed to maintain pretty steadily.  But the real test I knew, would be how it felt in the morning after a good overnight chill outside.

I’ve actually been running an oil filled space heater in the bedroom lately because it gets so cold overnight.  When I first moved into Casa del Garrett, I used to run an electric blanket.  But the blanket died on me last year and I bought the oil filled space heater to replaced it, thinking that a space heater was a more versatile spot heating solution then an electric blanket.  Since I was testing the difference insulating that back exterior wall would make, I kept the heater off.

Monday morning the bedroom was refrigerator cold when I got up.  But none of the foam panels I’d put up were radiating coldness at all.  So it was coming from somewhere else then the sections of wall I’d insulated.  As I paced around the room trying to see where the cold was coming from I realized I’d forgotten about the wall length closet on one side of the room. 

That closet goes the entire length of the bedroom on the wall I share with my neighbor.  One end shares a wall with the bathroom and the other end of it is the exterior wall.  That little slice of exterior wall in the closet was cold as ice when I put my hand to it and it was chilling all the air in the closet, which then seeped out into the bedroom.  So Monday I put up some more sheet foam against that wall.  I also added some more foam panels to a portion of the exterior wall that had been built out to accommodate one of the heating ducts as it was very chilly too. 

Once more I slept without the space heater on.  This morning when I got up it was 16 degrees outside and the bedroom was pretty warm.  So this pretty much settles it.  My project starting next spring is to insulate the exterior walls here at Casa del Garrett.

More on that as I get into it.

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

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