Browse Month: August 2007

08/29/2007

So I sent an e-mail to my friend Shane, and I received this bounce message:

<hishane@gmail.com>:
64.233.167.114 does not like recipient.
Remote host said: 552 5.2.2 User over quota y45si8335220pyg
Giving up on 64.233.167.114.

Wow, a GMail account that’s “over quota”? I thought you got something like 1.5 gigabytes of mail storage with GMail… he must get some serious e-mail traffic!

08/28/2007

You can’t argue with the math.

It was nine months ago, more or less, that Colorado got slammed with the first of its weekly blizzards. Last winter we had snow on the ground for sixty-plus days straight, with more each weekend.

And now the babies are showing up. Hospitals in the Denver area are reporting a 20% surge in births this month, and expecting more next month (nine months after cabin fever really set in).

It’s like a mini Baby Boomer effect!

08/27/2007

It is with deep regret* that I read about the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales this morning.

* Just kidding. It was a great day. Long ago I thought John Ashcroft was the worst AG this country could have, but ol’ Alberto proved me wrong. Good riddance.

08/25/2007

I was downstairs in my office today, working on some accounting stuff (whee!) and I glanced out the window at our neighbors’ yard. There, waving gently in the breeze and backlit by a brilliant blue sky, was a sunflower.

I grabbed my camera, went outside, and took the shot:

Not too bad! One of these days I might actually become a decent photographer…

08/25/2007

Remember back in the 80’s, when hair was big and girls wore leg-warmers and Nancy Reagan “just said no”? As I can remember, that’s about when our country embarked on the long and perilous journey called The War on Drugs.

It is almost (but not quite) as meaningless and silly as The War on Terror, since you can’t really fight a “war” if you don’t have an “enemy”. Drugs are a product, and since they’re always in the underground markets (like the terrorists, hmm?) you can’t go around shooting them or whatever.

But no matter. Our government, along with the United Nations and several other brave countries, declared The War on Drugs and promised that in 20 years, worldwide illicit drug use would be all but eradicated. At the very least, it would be in a steep and steady decline.

Here we are, roughly 20 years later. How’s The War going? Here’s a nice summary from a New York Times article on the opium production of Afghanistan:

Afghanistan produced record levels of opium in 2007 for the second straight year, led by a staggering 45 percent increase in the Taliban stronghold of Helmand Province.

Last year, a 160 percent increase in Helmand’s opium crop fueled a 50 percent nationwide increase. Afghanistan produced a record 6,100 metric tons of opium poppies last year, 92 percent of the world’s supply. A sparsely populated desert province twice the size of Maryland, Helmand produces more narcotics than any country on earth, including Myanmar, Morocco and Colombia.

Poppy prices that are 10 times higher than those for wheat have so warped the local economy that some farmhands refused to take jobs harvesting legal crops this year, local farmers said. And farmers dismiss the threat of eradication, arguing that so many local officials are involved in the poppy trade that a significant clearing of crops will never be done.

Whee! It sounds like things are going swimmingly. Not only is drug use not in decline, it’s pretty much been climbing steadily for these past two decades. The $600 million (yes, million) we pump into Afghanistan alone to control the drug trade seems to be so ineffective that one wonders exactly what that money is supposed to do. Never mind the tens of billions of dollars we’ve spent in other countries– and within our own country, of course– to little or no effect.

When, oh when, will these smooth-talking Congresspeople realize that you can’t throw a bunch of money and resources at a problem that’s not tangible? Like The War on Terror, this is a fight we can never, ever win.

08/25/2007

From an AP article today:

Corruption has long plagued Iraq reconstruction. Hundreds of projects may never be finished, including repairs to the country’s oil pipelines and electricity system. Congress gave more than $30 billion to rebuild Iraq, and at least $8.8 billion of it has disappeared, according to a government reconstruction audit.

How do I get in on this fabulous reconstruction gravy train?

08/25/2007

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

— Douglas Adams

08/24/2007

I really like the transparent console windows I run on my desktop, especially when they’re combined with interesting background images. Here’s an example of a spiffy background I snagged on Flickr.

08/24/2007

Hah! Some farmers in rural Massachusetts did a little creative mowing a few months ago, a satellite captured the field on one of its mapping passes, and now anyone can read their message by poking around Google Maps and looking at the satellite imagery.

08/23/2007

Yesterday the Baltimore Orioles were playing the Texas Rangers and pulled ahead in the first few innings to lead 3-0.

The Rangers decided to turn up the heat or something, because starting in the fourth inning they exploded– eventually scoring a total of 30 (yes, 30) runs. The rout included a grand slam by Travis Metcalf, who had been called up from triple-A ball that very day (that’s got to make you feel good when you finally make it to The Show).

Despite such a performance, Texas remains in last place.

08/23/2007

Tonight I was driving back from Denver just before midnight, and there was a spectacular lightning show in the northern sky. Storm clouds were towering into the sky, and the lightning was threading through them providing some amazing pink and orange backlights to the clouds. The flashes were almost constant– every few seconds another cloud would burst with light.

I pulled off the interstate and took a dark country road a little way, so I was in a really dark area and could watch the show. I had my pocket camera with me, but unfortunately it doesn’t have the flexibility of my other camera so I couldn’t really capture the sky. I ended up with a bunch of pictures like this:

Oh well. It was still a fantastic display.

08/19/2007

When Laralee and I first got married and moved into our townhouse, we received a “welcome to your new home” package with a bunch of random coupons. One of them was for a free plant at Home Depot. It wasn’t just any plant– as I recall, we could only select from the “$5 or less” plants or something.

But I chose a little palm plant, because as a kid I’d had one (until Kari accidentally killed it). This little guy was about three inches high. I named him Herbie.

Now, eleven years later, Herbie is an enormous plant that dominates the corner of our living room. He’s at least three feet high and probably four feet across, and constantly shooting out new branches and leaves.

Someday I hope Herbie grows as big as the palm my grandma had– it was at least six feet tall.

08/19/2007

“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”

— Ralph Sockman

08/18/2007

Today was the summer ultimate league tournament in Boulder. We couldn’t have asked for better weather: lots of sun, no wind, no rain. We played some really great games and fell just short of the finals, taking home third place overall.

The season was fantastic, and this was a really fun team. I’m bummed that the season is over, but looking forward to next year. And of course I’ll still be playing pickup games twice a week well into the fall, so I’ll continue getting my dose of the world’s greatest sport.

08/17/2007

It was bound to happen sooner or later: the RIAA is now the defendant in a class-action lawsuit. Charges include:

  • negligence
  • fraud
  • misrepresentation
  • racketeering
  • corruption
  • abuse of the legal process
  • malicious prosecution
  • intention to inflict emotional distress
  • computer fraud
  • computer abuse
  • trespass
  • invasion of privacy
  • libel
  • slander
  • deceptive business practices
  • misuse of copyright laws
  • civil conspiracy
  • Whew! Here’s hoping they get a good old-fashioned kick in the head. Their shenanigans have gone on long enough.

08/17/2007

Happy birthday to the compact disc. It’s 25 years old today.

It’s amazing that it’s not only lasted this long (in an age where technologic obsolescence is a pretty quick game) but that it’s spawned so many other technologies based upon it: the CD-ROM and associated writeable media, the DVD and it’s associated media, and in fact the entire digital music revolution.

The big question: what’s the next technology that will have such staying power?

08/14/2007

The world of finance will always confuse me. I just saw this headline:

Dow Falls More than 200 Points
A jittery Wall Street reacted negatively today to disappointing reports from Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

So, if I read that right, our entire capitalist economy depends on Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

May heaven help us.

08/12/2007

This weekend we went up to Winter Park and crashed at Ryan’s place, which was an absolute blast. At one point we were playing a rousing game of Pit and screaming so loud that everyone who was watching Bugs Bunny in the next room had to turn on the subtitles because they couldn’t hear Yosemite Sam blasting Bugs with a cannon or whatever.

The alpine slide was a hoot, although Zack tended to go a bit slow and caused traffic jams on the way down. Notice Tony (in the white shirt) looking like he’s about to fall right out of his sled from boredom.

However, Zack picked up the zip a bit by doing flips while attached to bungee cords thirty feet above the ground:

Not to be outdone, Alex and Kyra hopped in and did flips of their own.

And of course we couldn’t skip the full 18-hole miniature golf course:

There were, of course, some really tough shots that required intense concentration. Much like the Masters’.

All in all it was a terrific time, with only minor sunburns all around.

08/12/2007

I think Scott Adams pretty much summed up the presidential candidates’ talking points…

08/10/2007

Last night we went camping.

In our backyard.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and I finally got around to actually organizing it. We invited all of the neighborhood kids to spend the night in the yard. They could bring sleeping bags, blankets, tents, whatever. There was even talk of sleeping on the trampoline.

We borrowed one of those portable fire pits (just a big shallow metal bowl) and lit up a little bonfire. The neighbors came over and we roasted marshmallows and chatted while a dozen kids ran screaming around the yard with flashlights.

Around 10:00 the adults headed home to their nice comfy beds, and around 11:00 Laralee went upstairs to her comfy bed. I unrolled my sleeping bag in the grass and slept under the stars with the kids camped out nearby.

It was really cool.

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