So many words, so little time....

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Green Eggs and Politics....

One of my favorite forums is getting soaked with political rhetoric, but I refuse to join in. Why? Because the only thing it seems to do is consume bandwidth with bloat and rhetoric. The ones who started out Republicans are still Republicans, and the Democrats are all still Democrats. Hot air and bad feelings abound on both sides, and there's no point to it, IMHO.

I will not ever Poli-post
I will not even when they're toast
I will not read them when they're mean
I will not read them Nader-green
  I will not post these Poli-threads
  I do not like them, they are dead ends

I will not use my quiet vox
I will not put them in the stocks
I will not look over here or there
I will not post them anywhere
  I will not post these Poli-threads
  I do not like them, they are dead ends

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Cosmic gaming coincidence...

Describes a condition of extreme chaos. Have you ever seen a rodeo? Replace the cows with goats. Goats are way faster, smarter and in many cases meaner than cows.

as an adjective: "This project has been a real goat-rodeo."
a noun: "What kind of goat-rodeo are you running here?"

"Goat Rodeo" is my houseape-friendly version of several words that mean the situation is messed up (fubar, Charlie Foxtrot, etc). I use it enough than one day when my son was messing with my cell phone he changed the display name to that.

My original Xbox I bought when they first came out named itself "rodeo". I didn't think anything of this, until I bought my second one and we did our first system link. It's name is "goat". Irony is everywhere.....

Friday, January 16, 2004


Aaron Williams (of Nodwick fame) has been working on a new comic book for the last year or so but they've never been available online before now. For all of us who know our kids are really special, this comic is definately for us. Think X-men as 1st graders. Some really funny stuff.

At any rate, if you want a taste of the book, you can go to their website and read some specially created background materials. Just look under "School Notes". I think the permission slip says it all...

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Real Pie in the Sky...

People are all up in various sorts of arms about the president's plan and all it's finer points. The costs will be truly astronomical, the technologies new and dangerous, and the goal unimaginably distant to the average person. Whatever. Go on and on all you want gang, 'cause we're way ahead of you.

Just as the exploration of the world in the 15th and 16th centuries was started by governments trying to get an edge over each other, so has our conquest of space. But fairly early on those early explorations by governments were eclipsed by the merchants who took on the risks to go to those far off lands. They took to the blazed but unbeaten trails and led the settlers and farmers off into new lands to see what could be made of them. Space travel is shaping up the same way. I truly believe the age of commercial space exploration is just around the corner.

What, you say? Space travel with no political or military axe to grind, no nationalistic visions, and no government or collegiate bureaucracy?! Yep. Just people, willing to spend the time and money and expertise to strap themselves to a not so absurdly expensive machine and see what they can do up there. That's one of the things I love about this country. While others are standing around dithering, someone here will just get up and shuffle off and DO IT!

It can't be done. Nope. Only governments can afford to do it. Not so. There are literally hundreds of companies the world over reaching for the void. Several American companies like XCOR and Scaled Composites, LLC are already testing their craft. XCOR’s White Knight has successfully launched and landed, as has Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipOne. Using private money, these companies are building systems that can develop into completely private commercial ventures into space.

This isn’t just playboys wasting money on really compensatory model rockets. If you think this isn’t serious, you’re wrong. And the FAA agrees with me. After extensive review in a truly labyrinthine process, XCOR was informed back in November that their application for a launch license was sufficiently complete. You can read it in the article but what it means is that they have done their part to prove that this is a feasible program. By the rules of the AST (Administer of Commercial Space Transportation), XCOR is going to get a license to launch within 180 days, or the FAA has to explain why to the powers that be.

Sub orbital flight doesn’t count! Well, I’d ask Alan Shepard about that. His fifteen minutes aboard Freedom 7 were key to the launches that followed. In the case of the two I’ve mentioned, the craft and its launch system have been built, and they’ve been tested in atmosphere. In fact, SpaceShipOne just broke the sound barrier here back in December.

The stakes are fairly high. If they can manage to launch and land, they will win the X Prize. To win they have to design, build, and fly a craft that can achieve sub orbital flight with a crew of three, return to Earth safely and launch the same craft again within two weeks. The 10 million dollar prize is nice, but not the end of the road.

These men and women are convinced that sub orbital flight is in fact commercially viable at the present time. I find it kind of ironic. The same lines that used to be traced on maps to chart the paths of intercontinental ballistic missiles to destroy cities can now be used to move people and goods from one side of the world to the other with another order of magnitude increase in speed. Just as the Pony Express revolutionized the mail system in the Old West, these little rockets are a first step. This is just the beginning, and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

There are those of us who want to see space not only explored but also lived in. With the crushing disappointments in our national space efforts over the last thirty years, we've stopped waiting on the government or Congress or Oingo-Boingo the Great God of the Congo or whatever is keeping them from getting it together and doing this thing. We are going into space, and we're going to do it ourselves.

So. What flavor pie do you want us to bring back for you?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Never ever think you have got it made....

.....because that is the precise moment when you get completely kicked in the teeth. Looooooooooooooonnnnnnng story.

I've got to get back into working on PostNuke. This thing has more damned opinions on how a website should be run than my pushy Aunt (who I am much smarter than to name here! Sheeesh!). I'm about this close to just writing a frickin' custom module that does exactly what I tell it to rather than this.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

A Not Unexpected Guest....

Had our first visit today from the in-home family counselor my younger son's regular counsellor recommended to his case manager as part of his treatment plan. Definately interesting. I can see her being very successful in this line of work. She didn't take any crap, but she still managed to work him around to negotiating some rule changes for the good of both sides without causing a huge fuss. I'm going to be taking lots and lots of notes on these. It reminded me so strongly of having my Gramma over for coffee when she left I went into the bathroom and cried.

She's a lady in her late sixties, and I don't think my kids quite knew what to do with her. We sat around the dining table and sort of got to know each other and hashed out a few smaller issues. I noticed she had four small black dots on her neck and it took me a few minutes but I realized why I recognized them - they were markers for radiation treatment. I asked her if we needed to do any working around her treatment schedule by way of prying, and she looked at me for a second until I gestured to my throat. Her face cleared and she said no, and then she explained that it was metastisized breast cancer but it has been in remission for two years.

I don't have a lot of hope, but I hope she'll help me through the loss of it this time. One of the things she hammered on like a nail on an 80-pound anvil was I could do everything in the world, but if he continued to make those bad choices then I was just going to have to let him face the consequences and hopefully be able to help him turn that to the good. I don't buy into that. At least not yet. He isn't in horrible trouble yet, and he's so much better over the last couple weeks that the treatment seems almost too much.

I have to follow through, though, for his sake. I can't do another year like the last one, and I don't think he can either. We have to nail this down and make sure it's handled for the forseeable future. Time is so short to get him ready to go out into the world and we've got way too much to do without having to struggle through this stuff again.

I've had this running through my head all day and I can't get rid of it. Does anyone know what it belongs to?

Help me if you can I'm going
Back to the House at Pooh Corner by One
You'd be surprised, there's so much to be done
Count all the bees in the hive
Chase all the clouds in the sky
Back to the days of Christopher Robin and Pooh

Friday, January 02, 2004


This is the time of year when the tarnished tinsel caught forlornly on the bush outside the window from taking out the tree seems to bring out the urge to take a look at things. To evaluate them. To ponder.

I read the story of the Nativity, and the part that always gets me isn't the "Behold! I bring you tidings of great joy..." part. It's after all that has been said and done and all the various flocks of adoring visitors and what have you have shown up and raised their ruckus and things have quieted down and the baby's asleep and it says, "And Mary pondered these things in her heart." The girl had a lot to think about. Things that have happened. Things that were going to happen. And in the first quiet moments that's what she did. I think we all do that. We get through all the rush of year's ending and at the first chance we get we sit down on the curb in our soul and take a look around a bit.

I've only started the process for this year, so I only have some vague impressions. There are people I wish I'd known better that are gone now. There are people I wish I didn't know. Things I wish I'd done and things I wish I hadn't done. Parts of me aren't all I wish they were. There are moments of happiness that shine out.

I have to be careful. It can all too easily turn into a litany of should-haves and could-haves and would-have-if-onlies that can tie me right into a self-recriminating knot. On the other hand, I don't want to gloss it over so hard I don't get anything real. It's a fine line.

For better or for worse, it's 2004. Can't escape that. I guess most of all today I have that line from an old TV show called "Hill Street Blues" running through my head. When Sargent Esterhaus used to send them all out on their beats at the start of every show, he'd always say the same thing.

"Let's all be careful out there."