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Archive of September, 2001

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[Permalink 2001-09-29] Tool Alert! (Again)

September 29, 2001:

Well, this one's me. As part of the DSL package from Verizon, they gave me a little Logitech eyeball-looking camera. Don't worry, this isn't going to turn into Voyeurs-R-Us; I don't really like having my picture taken. But I've used it to take a few pictures of the living room of the apartment, so I can give that guided tour I was talking about back in August. It'll probably go in About Me / My Apartment, but I'll put an announcement here for shits and grins. Well, that and it gives me a free day's worth of material.

So stay tuned.

[Permalink 2001-09-28] New York Nuggets

September 28, 2001:

I know, I said I wouldn't say anything else about the 11th. I lied.

· I know it's the thought that counts, but Celine Dion singing "God Bless America" seemed almost silly.

· Is anyone else sick and tired of the smarminess permeating this whole thing? I know people want to help, want to "heal our wounds" or some such bullshit; but enough already. It's gotten so melodramatic that I can hardly watch TV anymore for fear of seeing more of this schlock.

· I think I saw a serious article in The Onion for the first time ever. It's done very much in Onion style, but there's none of the humor you'd expect to find. They must have a couple actual writers on the staff; this was a tough combination to pull off. The "article" is here, if you want to read it.

· Just heard over my shoulder on the one channel I get that Laura Bush may be Dubya's "secret weapon with the press." Seems she's more articulate than he is. Uhm, no shit?

[Permalink 2001-09-27] How Slo-o-o-o-ow Can You Go?

September 27, 2001:

No, I'm not complaining about traffic.

I'm complaining about my hopelessly normal physiology. As I've said a few times, I'm trying to lose weight. So I've been drinking the Slim-Fast drinks (the chocolate ones overpower the chalky aftertaste) and watching my diet, for the most part. Every once in a while I splurge a bit and have a cheesburger or some other Guaranteed Artery Clogger, but I'm doing really well. I thought.

My metabolism's adjusting itself to the lower caloric intake. Basically, I get tired earlier than I used to. More an annoyance than anything, but it means I'm actually going to have to break down and find some sort of exercise to do. And I hate exercising, especially now that it's getting into winter around here. (Seasons in Pittsburgh don't flow smoothly into each other -- last week it was oppressively hot; this morning it was in the mid forties when I went to work.)

So what now? Your guess is as good as mine.

[Permalink 2001-09-26] Do Me a Favor and Learn to Drive a Car with a Manual Transmission

September 26, 2001:

I'll just come right out and admit that this is a "Things That Piss Me Off" brain fart, so skip it if you aren't in a negative mood. People with automatic transmissions need to learn how to drive.

I'm not talking about controlling the direction of the vehicle; that's learning how to steer. That's all you can do in a car with an automatic. To drive you need a stick-shift. I've had a car like that for 13 months now, and I can't see myself going back.

People with automatics: Don't you hate it when you're driving up a hill, and the transmission won't down-shift? It waits and waits until you have no power left, then it finally drops a gear. And by that time you're causing a miniature traffic jam. In a manual, you can fix that -- shifting happens when you want it to, and anyone who's been driving for three months knows how to shift better than the best automatics.

But here's why everyone needs to drive a manual transmission for at least a few months -- so they'll understand when I complain about them riding their brakes (all you're doing is pissing off the people behind you and grinding down your pads) and getting in the passing lane on an uphill run (you know your speed's gonna drop like a rock, so why bother?). Drive a car where you roll backwards a little bit when you start on a hill, then realize why I don't like people climbing up my tailpipe when I have to do it.

Plus, it gives you a better sense of control. Everything the car does is because you say so. You have a higher top speed, because automatics usually only have 3 or 4 gears, while manuals have 5 or 6. More gears, higher top end. Your gas mileage will improve. When you're under-revving going up that hill, you're wasting gasoline, and you idle at least 300 RPM higher than I do. You'll get better acceleration, because you'll control the shifting, not some moronic computer chip. In other words, it's all plus and very little minus (I'll spot you parallel parking on a hill -- that bites).

So give it a try. You might like it.

[Permalink 2001-09-25] Math is Still Hard

September 25, 2001:

I may have to start checking the math on my receipts when I get my car worked on. The mechanics are real good at what they do, but simple arithmetic seems to be a little beyond them. I took my car in on August 31st, when it had 74,667 miles on it. When they were done, they put one of those little plastic stickers on the windshield to remind me when to come in again. Mileage: 77,667 (that's OK). Date: 11/31/2001 (oops).

[Permalink 2001-09-24] It's a Natural Progression, Really

September 24, 2001:

After the dryer at the laundromat finished yesterday, and I was unloading it, I noticed that I have a lot of blue in my clothes selection. T-shirts, work shirts, towels, sheets, bedspread. Lotsa blue.

So I thought about it for a little bit and remembered that when I was a little kid I liked red, then moved on to green for a while. I don't know when I lighted on blue, but it's been a while now.

Then the geek in me realized that, in order, my favorite colors were RGB. I decided that as my tastes progressed, I'd start moving into CMYK. Any time now, I'll probably pick up a couple of cyan work shirts, etc., until in my early-to-mid fifties I'll be into black. Which will make me the world's oldest Goth Dude.

[Permalink 2001-09-22] My God, It's Good to be Back!

September 22, 2001:

I finally got my system reinstalled and my ADSL line hooked up. And I tell ya, I missed 'em both. Without all the registry clutter, my system's load time is noticeably faster, and I don't have to go to the library to get on the 'Net during the evening or on a Saturday afternoon.

I'm having problems, of course; to have this go perfectly would be too easy. My drivers for the video card and monitor aren't doing what they're supposed to, and as a result I'm stuck at 640x480 with 16 colors. Not 16-bit, 16. Let me tell ya, Web sites look a little odd this way. Even my site isn't immune; the cream color I use displays as white and the red glow displays as gray.

But I'll fix that in time. And now, to celebrate having my connection back, I'm gonna turn off my computer and go have a drink with my friends.

[Permalink 2001-09-21] Another Take on Afghanistan

September 21, 2001:

Saw this on The Register and thought I'd pass it along. I'd kinda been thinking this myself, but the writer's opinions are more fleshed out than mine are. Just something to think about while Dubya and Congress prepare us for a "war." The original article is available here.

"We are at war" - Dubya
By Thomas C. Greene in Washington

Official Washington has been buzzing with the language of belligerence since this weekend. The President, who, incidentally, isn't authorized to declare war, declared war. He also did something we've not seen since the Vietnam era - he promised victory.

"My administration has a job to do... We will rid the world of evildoers," he chirped. "We will win the war and there will be costs," he explained Monday. The US military "is ready to defend freedom at any cost," he assured us.

Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the House obediently passed a resolution Friday night authorizing the administration to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against organizations and governments involved in Tuesday's catastrophic suicide attacks. The Senate had obediently passed it hours earlier.

The measure also releases $40 billion to the administration, for rescue and recovery and to beef up the national securocracy. The administration will be given a nearly free hand to spend the money as it pleases without Congressional oversight.

There is now serious talk on the Hill of easing restrictions on the securocracy which forbid them to recruit foreign agents suspected of human rights violations and to pursue assassinations of foreign heads of state.

US Attorney General John Ashcroft has asked Congress to loosen the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to make it easier to detain people suspected of terrorism and to monitor them more freely. He also wants expanded wiretap powers, so that a suspect's entire range of communications devices may be monitored.

Ashcroft said that the Department of Justice (DoJ) would bring a comprehensive package of bills to Congress suitable for hasty, patriotic rubber stamping later this week.

There is even talk of new crypto regulations aimed at ensuring that the Feds can crack any scheme the populace might use.

Thus Dubya is preparing to set into motion a vast law-enforcement, security and military operation whose ultimate consequences he can't possibly grasp, and which no one will be able to control. Afghanistan looms large as the primary venue of American wrath and Osama bin Laden the prime suspect.

Scapegoats
Assuming the sort of military operation we suspect is in the works, we can be sure that innocents will die by the thousands in America's pursuit of vengeance. Throughout the Islamic world, a hundred new enemies will be created with each new outrage in the name of "justice."

This is nothing new. More tons of high explosive were dropped on Vietnam in the name of 'democracy' than were deployed throughout the Second World War. More innocent civilians were slaughtered by American B-52's in the name of 'democracy' than could fit inside a hundred World Trade Centers. And as the war crimes accumulated, the NVA and VC became only more confirmed in their hatred of America, and in their determination to defeat her.

Which they did, hands down.

The more things change
Dubya's vague war on evildoers will be grotesquely expensive and everlasting. It will lead the United States into alliances of the most unholy variety and further soil its already sketchy international reputation; it will exhaust good will among her Islamic allies; and it will involve attacks on sovereign nations.

It will exhaust the American people's appetite for vengeance long before it bears fruit. It will eventually be despised at home as it is abroad.

It might even initiate wars among Islamic nations, as may already be the case. According to recent news reports, troops are massing on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The issue is Pakistan's acquiescence to American demands. Soldiers may die for that and nothing more.

It will vastly increase the worldwide population of those who despise the United States, and proportionally decrease American security against the sort of sneak attack it wishes to thwart.

We will see Muslims who today grieve with America for the tragic loss of over 5,000 innocent souls devote themselves to her destruction.

Vietnamization
Perhaps Dubya feels some wistful nostalgia for the Vietnam war, which he sat out happily "polishing his brass" in the Air National Guard while real men were dying of wounds in an alien land, in real service to their country.

One plausible scenario (and surely there are others) would have the USA easing into an Afghan war progressively by first striking an "enemy-of-my-enemy" deal with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, such as it struck with numerous other glowing paragons of American values like Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, Chiang Kai-Shek, Syngman Rhee and Ngo Dinh Diem.

The Afghan Northern Alliance, led by Ahmed Shah Massoud until he died this weekend of wounds inflicted by Taliban poseurs, are now highly motivated to strike, and might even gain recruits from aging royalists and recent victims of grotesque Taliban prudery. They're ripe for exploitation as an American proxy force.

We are reminded of America's futile attempt to cultivate a counter-revolutionary army in southern Vietnam. We are reminded of military advisors and donated weapons and war by proxy. We are reminded of "mission creep" leading to a full scale military intervention marked by tragedy and ending in humiliation.

The problems in Vietnam were that the terrain was jungle, nearly impossible for an invading infantry to penetrate, and that the people quite simply refused to be conquered by infidels. The problems in Afghanistan are that the terrain is mountainous, nearly impossible for an invading infantry to penetrate, and that the people will quite simply refuse to be conquered by infidels. Russia knows what I'm talking about. So does England.

Does America really have to learn it the hard way?

Like I said, just something to think about. This article is ©2001 The Register, and was used here without permission.

Update: Another well-thought-out commentary can be viewed here.

[Permalink 2001-09-20] Weird Dreams

September 20, 2001:

Well, I might as well throw this one out here for all the world to see. Usually when I'm dreaming I can tell that it's a dream, just because things will happen that are too weird even for my twisted little brain to accept. But a couple days ago, I had a very realistic dream. So real that when I woke up, I just sat up and thought it out for a couple seconds, just to make sure I'd really made it up.

Basically it involved a girl I went to high school with (no, it wasn't one of those dreams) that I kinda liked but never worked up the nerve to ask out. In the dream I was trying to put the moves on her, but was getting gunned down left and right. And in the dream she'd been in Pittsburgh since we graduated (in reality we're never even in the same state, at least not that I know of) but I hadn't talked to her in years. (That bit would be true -- I had her e-mail address once, but I'm just as bad at e-mail conversations as real ones, so they always dried up after a couple times back and forth.)

What I'm trying to figure out is what the heck my subconscious was trying to tell me. That I shouldn't have tried, anyway? That if I'd had a chance I'd have blown it? That I'm feeling guilty about having basically abandoned all my high school friends? (I don't think the last one's true ...) No matter what, it seems pretty negative. You'd think that since dreams are basically the mind's way of dealing with situations that haven't happened (or can't happen) I'd have given myself a little credit. Hmm.

[Permalink 2001-09-19] Please Do Not Feed the White Trash

September 19, 2001:

To give those of you from outside southwestern PA a little backstory, one of the more grating abuses of the English language around here is "yinz" (or, "yunz," depending on your preference). It's a shortened form of "you ones" and has the same meaning as New York's "yous" and the Midwest's "y'all." Therefore Pittsburghers are sometimes called "Yinzers."

Now, most of them think of that as an epithet, and they're right. I've never meant it in a non-derogatory way -- it's always "*%&$ Yinzer drivers," or "Did you see that #@&% take a Yinzer Left up there?" etc. So I try not to use it. And when I do, it's usually synonymous with "White Trash" or "Trailer Trash." I can't prove that they live in trailers, but it seems like a safe bet.

Anyway, my point: There are a lot of Yinzers that use the laundromat near my apartment. And I'm not talking halfway-Yinzers with some redeeming qualities. I'm saying I'd have an easier time understanding a full Scottish brogue than I would these people. I mean they bring their litter of rugrats with them and let them run wild around the place -- and I'm not exactly thrilled when some mental deficient's kid plows into my hipbone at 70mph while I'm folding my shirts. And don't forget they scream to each other across the room instead of walking the 50 feet to talk directly to each other. White trash, basically. Or Yinzers. Definately annoying and definately too dumb to breed.

How long do you think it'll be before the laziness gets the best of me and I start looking for a laundromat that's farther away from me?

[Permalink 2001-09-18] Why Won't the 80's Die?

September 18, 2001:

Listened to the radio for a while this weekend, and as I was station-surfing, I found that 100.7 was having an 80's Flashback Weekend (I could actually hear the capitals in the DJ's voice). So I listened for a while, and kinda dozed off a little. Woke up to "Heaven Is a Place on Earth."

So is Hell, I realized as I fumbled around for the remote.

[Permalink 2001-09-17] Well, Now What?

September 17, 2001:

I've reached a little conundrum here. I promised I wouldn't say anything more about New York City (what could I say, anyway, that you haven't heard on the news six times already), but there's nothing else going on right now. Work's been eerily non-sucky the last few days, leading to a sharp decrease in the amount of material here. In fact, I'm running on empty now -- there are no entries waiting to follow this one.

So if there aren't any updates for a while, don't be surprised.

[Permalink 2001-09-15] Jason's Coworkers Need New Jobs, Too

September 15, 2001:

Got a little bit of vindication from one of my fellow drones the other day. I won't go into details here, since I've said it all before (if you want all the information, go ahead and look for "Jason Needs a New Job" in the title search.

But as I've said before, it's nice to know I'm not the only one who thinks there's something not right here. Makes me feel a lot less guilty about taking company time to look for a new job.

[Permalink 2001-09-14] This Should Be the Last NYC-Related Brain Fart

September 14, 2001:

... And it's not really about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This is about the most ignorant, inbred Americans showing their faces in the aftermath. Before the sun had set on Tuesday, the redneck contingent was out en masse.

Arab-language newspapers have received bomb threats, mosques have been shot up, and Muslim children are staying at home with the doors locked and the curtains drawn. And the same type of retards who like to fly the Confederate flag are grabbing the stage again.

I realize that by reading this you probably have more than three neurons firing at once, so it'll be blatantly obvious to you, but I'll say it anyway: Not all Muslims are terrorists. There are some sick motherfuckers out there to be sure -- evidence points to the pilots having help inside the airports -- but most of them are just normal people. They can't believe what's going on, either, and they look at this with the same astonishment and revulsion that the Catholics (should) look at the Inquisition and the Germans look at the Holocaust.

They have it even worse: Not only have their countrymen been killed (there are Arabs who've become American citizens), but their religion has been sullied and now they're being blamed for it by the worst America has to offer.

So for those of you blaming the "towel-heads" and "camel-jockeys," just do us all a favor and go back to fucking your sisters, OK?

[Permalink 2001-09-13] Business As Usual, Kinda

September 13, 2001:

Well, I'm back at work today (Wednesday the 12th). The only real difference in my routine is the MSNBC streaming video that I have playing in the corner of my screen, seeing what new is happening.

And I think it's best that way. Everybody who can needs to get back to their normal routine. Especially if they 're close to yesterday's events (physically or emotionally). You have to give your brain time to assimilate what's going on in little chunks, or it can overwhelm you.

Just keep in mind what they say about free advice, and remember that your mileage may vary.

[Permalink 2001-09-12] Is This How Everyone Felt on December 7, 1941?

September 12, 2001:

This is not how I wanted to get a day off work.

I'm sure everyone's aware of the particulars by now. In fact, since there will be about an 11-hour delay between my typing this and it becoming available on the Web, you probably know more as you read this than I do as I write it.

As of 1:39 PM, September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center is gone. Both buildings have collapsed after the collisions by hijacked airliners. The Pentagon in Washington, DC, has been attacked in a similar fashion, and a fourth plane en route from Newark to San Francisco, crashed in the Pittsburgh area. The military is on its highest state of alert without being at war, and as I write this the last civilian aircraft in American airspace are landing. There are F-16s patrolling the sky above DC, and the resuce helicopters deployed by UPMC to the Somerset County crash are returning with no survivors.

Once word of the Somerset crash got out, USX Tower was evacuated, and Heinz shut everything down. Once that word spread, every building downtown started sending people home. That was two-plus hours ago, and the downtown streets are still clogged.

And here I sit in the library, trying to figure out what the hell to make of all this.

My sense of national pride isn't really damaged; I've never been a flag-waving, America-is-the-bestest type. I don't really feel unsafe, even though the Somerset crash was apparently part of this offensive against the eastern US; I just can't see anything in Pittsburgh that our (as yet) unknown assailants would want to destroy.

Well, now what? At first glance it seems that the people responsible are Arabs. All the pieces fit -- most of them hate America with a passion that has gotten greater since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict started, and they believe than anyone dying during a Holy War (which this would be to them) is automatically entitled to Heaven.

But the last time we thought a group of Arabs had hit us, it turned out that we'd hit ourselves. Right, Timmy?

So I'm left with this empty feeling. Who-knows-how-many thousands of my countrymen have been killed in a sneak attack that's making Pearl Harbor look like a love tap, and we don't know who did it. We can guess, like I have, but guesses aren't good enough. I don't want to attack anyone without knowing they did it. After all, it could have been another nut-case like McVeigh, it could have been North Koreans, it could have been the Chinese; there are billions of people in the world who would line up for the chance to give America a black eye. And we obviously can't bomb them all, not without using the weapons we should know better than to ever use again.

So here I sit, in the library, trying to put all the stuff ricocheting around in my gray matter into type. And I don't even know who to hate yet.

[Permalink 2001-09-11] The DFC

September 11, 2001:

While I was trying to get to sleep last night, for some reason my mind wandered over to the Dysfunctional Family Circus. It was a feature on one of my favorite Web sites, and was damn hilarious. The site's owner would post a Family Circus comic, and us sick S.O.B.'s would create captions for it. The captions were reviewed, and only the best posted, so there was always quality stuff there.

It was up for at least three years, before Bil Keane finally got tired of it, and had his lawyers descend on the site. The owner took what I'll call a "cautiously belligerent" tone, not wanting to stop, not having the time or money to defend himself if they went so far as to sue. In the end, Bil Keane actually called him on the phone and talked it out; and Geoff (or was it Jeff?) Keane, his son, made a few very reasonable postings on the site's fan newsgroup.

It's been down for quite a while now, and I'm actually glad it's gone now. Its cousin, It's a Dysfunctional Life, is a little more robust -- the subject matter isn't as limited. It now has close to 600 pictures, and it's consistently funnier than the DFC was. (Which is damn good.)

Why am I writing this? Hell if I know. Why was I thinking about it instead of falling asleep? My mind works in weird ways.

[Permalink 2001-09-10] Uh-oh, Now I'm Screwed...

September 10, 2001:

After going two full weeks eating only healthful food, I decided to treat myself to a cheesburger. I went to McDonald's and tried a Big n' Tasty. First of all, the name's a complete misnomer. Second of all, my body had gotten so used to not eating junk food that I had ... er, problems ... later on in the evening.

I think I may be stuck eating health food now.

[Permalink 2001-09-08] More Fun with Moving

September 08, 2001:

Well, the weekend of September 7th, I'm helping my mother and stepfather move. So I'll be out of town and trying not to injure myself, since I'll be the only one there who's younger than 30.

Go me.

[Permalink 2001-09-07] Oh, Sure

September 07, 2001:

I think my project manager has become delusional. We have a client who was supposed to approve a site design by Friday, August 24th. As of August 31st they still haven't, which means we'll get approval no earlier than September 4th. The site is supposedly due to the client on September 25th.

Those of you who can do math will notice that's exactly three weeks. She thinks I'm going to stay late and work weekends to get it done "on time." She seems to be forgetting that due to the client's delay, "on time" is now no earlier than October 3rd. I'll make sure I remind her.

[Permalink 2001-09-06] Now That's a Bouncing Baby Boy

September 06, 2001:

Saw on the six-o'clock news last night that a toddler in the Pittsburgh area managed to open a "child-proofed" window and push out the screen, before falling out the second-story window. The kid's perfectly OK (he apparently landed on the lawn) and was examined and released from Children's Hospital.

Two things. One: I wonder if he had an easier time opening the window than his parents would have, since they don't seem bright enough to keep an eye on their kid. Two: Hopefully they figure this out before he defeats the "child-proof" bottles in the medicine cabinet. 'Cause having seen my two youngest cousins when they were toddlers, I can tell you that they're a lot more co-ordinated and inquisitive than a lot of people give them credit for.

[Permalink 2001-09-05] Traffic & Cops

September 05, 2001:

Had an epiphany last night on my way home from work: No matter how bad a traffic jam is, a cop can always make it worse.

[Permalink 2001-09-04] More On the Job Search

September 04, 2001:

Sent my resumé to three companies yesterday. Didn't hear back immediately from any of them, I would have figured on at least a "thanks, we'll get back to you" type of e-mail. But at least I found the three jobs. That's always a good start.

[Permalink 2001-09-03] Must ... Wait ... Another ... Week ...

September 03, 2001:

OK, the home theater system is coming together nicely. At the recommendation of one of my co-workers I now use component video between the TV and the DVD player. I now have the image sharpness of S-Video and even better color definition! Now I really want to go out and buy that $400 surround receiver with the powered subwoofer, but I know I should wait until my next statement is put together, to avaoid having to write the Discover people a check for a very large portion of my monthly pay. At least waiting till the third I can spread the pain over two months without paying interest.

[Permalink 2001-09-01] Finally

September 01, 2001:

I just got off the phone with Verizon. My phone line will be hooked up tomorrow, and the ADSL line about three weeks after that. (They won't know for sure until they can run their head-end tests of my new line.) And then I will be a true net.geek again.

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