Sunrise over Lake Champlain from Ticonderoga

Support the victims of Hurricane Katrina (click image)

Musings and Meanderings

Friday, August 30, 2002

I saw this blurb on Yahoo

America Online said it plans to launch its new Netscape Web browser on Thursday, marking its latest effort to challenge the dominance of Microsoft Explorer as the standard tool for surfing the Internet. The software, which has been in user tests since May, promises faster and easier navigation of the Web, although surveys show its market share has been dwarfed by Microsoft. Research firm WebSideStory issued a study that says that Netscape's global usage share has dropped to 3.4 percent.

Ok time to mail Aol/Netscape a dollar so they can rent a clue. We were using this at home for Liza and we discovered one remarkable thing! Their browser sux. Big time. It is bulky and unwieldy and has major problems reading basic HTML code. Now that Netscape is not an independent company no one really cares anymore. Can anyone have sympathy for the "little guy" anymore when they are a part of the Time Warner Conglomerate. Microsoft vs. TWC. YAWN. Speaking of that look to see that "AOL" part of AOL Time Warner start to slowly slip away. Consigned to the same dust bin of economic history as Mr. Roebuck. Remember him?
posted by Mike 9:51 AM
Ok so what happened to daily postings? 1) I don't have something to say every day? (not likely if you know me). 2) I'm already bored with this blogging thing (not likely as my attention span is a bit better than that) NO it is 3) NO bloody time!!. More later today.

Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
-- Jerry Garcia, (of the Grateful Dead)
posted by Mike 8:53 AM

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

I don't know what it is about grass tops cut to a unified elevation but after not mowing for three weeks it looks REALLY NICE now!
posted by Mike 10:49 PM
Cars, can't live with them, can't live without them

So did I ever tell you my "Yes Believer" story? Well I will tell you then. I had written off seeing the new Yes tour because the band decided not to visit my hometown this tour. Out of the blue a month before the band was to come to the East Coast I got an e-mail from a perfect stranger who said that he had gotten my name off of a Yes Fan database and if I would drive him to Mass then he would provide the ticket! KaChing. Great show by the way.

So what does this have to do with cars other than the obvious: i.e. we didn't take the train to the show you ask (Yes you in the back there, I heard you asking.)

In the middle of a maniacal rain storm my windshield wipers went "thump" and stopped working. Thump is a bad noise to hear in a thunderstorm on the Mass Pike with tons of big trucks near you. So you can imagine my panic. I ended up driving with a long handled squeegee out the driver side window furiously wiping the windshield.

Two weeks later I still had not fixed the wipers because a mechanic had told me it would involve removing the entire dash. (Not true by the way) FOUR weeks later I STILL had not removed the problem from my life. If you have been reading my notes below you know I went out to Midstate PA for a training class. YEA it rained on the way back. OK now it is time to get the bloody things fixed. At 35c a mile a ten hour drive really pays!! Add to that the last two months zipping around town for work and voila $300 in reimbursements.

So a new wiper assembly, an new front grill (another story) and an oil and lube... $281. Easy come easy go I guess.

So did you watch Monk yet? One more chance on ABC and then it goes into hiatus. However I think it will still be running on USA.

I am burning CD's (Moody Blues shows) and watching that show on Bravo where the professor interviews actors in front of a class. The Actors studio I think it is called. This guy is BORING! But it is fun to hear these actors let their hair out. Today is Bruce Willis, who is incapable of literally letting his hair out... as he has none.

So are you a regular reader? I have learned that I have one regular reader now. I hope I don't bore. This is a door to my life. It's not anything but real. E-mail me sometime if you find that you are checking in on me.
posted by Mike 10:39 PM

Sunday, August 25, 2002

If there is anything the nonconformist hates worse than a conformist, it's another nonconformist who doesn't conform to the prevailing standard of nonconformity.

-- Bill Vaughan
posted by Mike 9:29 PM
Life as a Soccer coach

Is quite fun.. I have the 10 and under's this year and it is very nice having kids predisposed to having soccer skills as opposed to previous years where at least a third of the team had never played at all. We end up playing every weekend (except Labor Day) till the end of October and practice once a week as well. So it is an investment in time for the kids and myself but it is tons of fun.

Our opposing team for the first game of the year today was able to field only 5 players. So instead of forfeiting which they should have done Lansingburg Soccer in their infinite wisdom decided that they should fill the team with players from other teams. Now in of itself this is a good thing, the kids get to play. But practically speaking the kids who volunteer to play an extra game are by their very nature better than average. The practical upshot was we played what was the equivalent of an all star team this week and held our own 2-3.

Over half of our team had not actually practiced before this week due to vacations and the such. But the parents seemed very happy with the outcome especially after I told them of how the opposing team was weighted.
posted by Mike 4:47 PM
Ok I fixed the spelling and such on earlier posts. Well some of them.
posted by Mike 4:41 PM

Friday, August 23, 2002

Sleeve brushes with semi-famous people

In my capacity as co moderator for some very interesting Yahoo groups oriented around progressive rock I have found that how amazingly approachable rock musicians can be who are not famous. I suppose within their group of friends and acquaintances some prog rock stars are very amiable too, but I wouldn't know, as I am definitely not that connected in the prog world.

But I have had the opportunity to share emails with some musicians that I really admire such as Richard Chadwick of Hawkwind and Mick Brockett of Nektar. Richard is the drummer for the 'wind and Mick is Nektar's lighting specialist. I have found them to be incredibly interesting people as well as helpful and friendly. In fact meeting the two bands of Caravan and Nektar was quite a revelation to me when I went to the North East Art Rock Festival (NEARfest) in June. I have been listening to these bands for literally decades (scary thought) and frankly they never made it even remotely "big". Frankly very few prog bands have barring Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis, and perhaps the Moody Blues. Come to think of it only Yes and the MB's have made it big as prog musicians because like what Genesis did or not to become big they definitely left the prog genre to do so.

Anyway so Mick B was looking for a lighting specialist from the '70 era Hawkwind group as Nektar has just re assembled to begin touring and promote a new album and a remastered back catalog. Richard on the other hand made practically begged me to buy his branch project from Hawkwind making it easier for me to acquire it from England without all the hassle of exchange rates. Yes ok they both had ulterior motives and I was NOT the focus of their initial attention. (I mean my ego might be big but not that big) but it was still very nice to get to know these semi-famous people in an intimate basis.

This blog isn't called musings and meandering for nuttin'!!!
posted by Mike 11:25 PM

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Now that is a long drive

Had to do a 4.5 hour drive for a training class today to beautiful midstate PA. I have to say that I-78 is certainly full of very dangerous truck drivers trying to make their deadlines on tiny bad two lane roads. I am not a delicate driver by any means but these guys gave me the willies! Never have I seen so many trucks cutting in front of people, trying to weave through traffic, and all going around 75mph. Ever seen a truck weave through traffic? Not a pretty sight if you are the poor vehicle that they decide to cut in front of leaving maybe a quarter of a car length behind you. Luckily for me I seem to have some foresight or maybe it is hindsight and I stayed clear of the ones who were obviously too dangerous to drive near.

So I am down here for a training session to learn how to install and sell the PC Hughes internet connection. Now to each his own and I can sell anything with fervor that I need to in order to put bread on my table but anyone with half a sence would get DSL or Cable.

Ok the pro's and cons for those not in the know.

Satellite Internet - blistering download speeds but uses a phone line to upload. That's right folks 56k upload for your 40+ dollars a month. Woo hoo.

DSL - Great if you can get it. This technology has been available for decades but ATT labs and then the baby bells decided not to tell anyone that they could carry more than one "line" on their twisted copper pair. Look at it their way, why tell a customer they can have multiple lines coming in on one twisted pair when they were charging per line and (do you remember this?) per PHONE. Anyway if you are able to get DSL go for it, but god forbid you are the unlucky sap who is too far outside of their Dmark. Last but not least the Baby Bells who had the foresight to upgrade to optical fiber are SOL because at present the guru's have not figured out how to translate dedicated copper twisted pair over to optical fiber and not have the signal hopelessly lost.

Cable Modem. My favorite. Upside is that if you can get cable you can have a great internet speed. So it is available to many more people than DSL (but less that Satellite cause you can live in the boonies and still get a satellite feed if you don't have a mountain in the way). Downside is that the more people that use it the slower speed you get, unlike DSL which gives you a dedicated twisted pair whose speed does not diminish. (Barring that old distance from the Dmark problem).

So there ya go. What will I learn tomorrow? The world may never know...

posted by Mike 10:24 PM

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

The boob tube

Monk Running on ABC on Tuesdays. Tony Shalhoub plays a obsesive neat freak private detective. If you are familiar with Tony's work you know he can play some very quirky characters! This one looks like it has a lot of potential Besides it is set in San Francisco. If you like mysteries where all the seemingly disperate jigsaw pieces come together at the end in suprising ways then this is the show for you. This is stand alone series in that each episode contains a new mystery. No massive arc's here. If you want that see the next musing.

Odyssey 5 Part of Showtime's Sci Fridays. This is where Peter Weller has resurfaced. I know I know another actor who do does quirky roles. Well the pretty boy from Buckaroo Banzai across the 8th dimension is a tough astronaut named Taggert. Honestly in the light of day the set up for this series seems a bit absurd but with a bit of suspension of belief (a necessary skill in today's TV world) it works ok in the background. Ok here ya go: Whilst orbiting the earth the crew of the Odyseey five shuttle witness the destruction of the Earth. Yes the world explodes and and they are in low orbit and don't blow up with it. And this gets better. They are resuced at the very last minuite of air by a mysterious alien called the seeker who sends them back 5 years, depositing their souls in their own 5 year younger bodies, so that they can figure out who blew up the Earth. As I said the set up is a bit weak. The reason I recommend this show is that it gets past this amazingly weak premise with some of the strongest writing and acting from a bunch of relative unknowns since the beginning of the X files. Each episode is gripping and does follow an arc.. so you better catch up now!!

Monday Night Football Ok Ok don't freak here. I just want to comment AGAIN on the complete stupidity of getting rid of sucn an intelligent wit such as Dennis Miller and replacing him with such an unbelieveable dullard as John Madden. 'nuf said.

Stargate SG-1 No this is not new. Yes it is pretty silly Sci Fi. But I just love Richard Dean Anderson's style. He plays the dry wit. The hero who seems stupid (on not stupid, just non intellectual) but is getting it anyway. There is this underlying sexual tension btw his character and the character of Samantha Carter. Chris Guest as T'ealc is very funny again in a very dry understated way. This has just gone over to the Science Fiction Channel from Showtime and even with commercials this show is great.

Tell me you were not expecting the sort of stuff I wrote yesterday every day. No one is that pedantic. Not even me.
posted by Mike 9:46 PM

Monday, August 19, 2002

A pacifist's call for war

In my youth I used to believe categorically that there was no reason that humans should take up weapons against other humans to solve their problems. Whether those conflicts were generated by disagreements over Philosophy, Religion, Land use, Water use or any other reasons. As I have gotten older I have come to believe that there are times in the life of Nations that certain leaders or regimes have become anathema to world peace.

See I was raised in the milieu of the Cold War. There was nothing more absurd to me as a youth than the decision by our leaders to create enough nuclear arms to obliterate the world several times over, or to arm small nationalistic groups in order to support the "western" or "communist" viewpoint. Decisions as to who to support were seemingly never made with the future in mind. Recent history has shown recent American Administrations supporting these groups ONLY because they resisted the "communist" threat. And even when these Administrations had the ability to see past this one attractive trait (to them at least) and see that some of these groups had no intention of allowing a democratic tradition into their cultures, support was still blindly sent in the hopes of destroying the great enemy.

So I grew up at the end of Vietnam, which most see with 20-20 hindsight as a massive waste of time. Watched the Iran - Iraq war. The Arab - Israeli wars. The list goes on and on. Conflict after conflict with two bullies supporting proxies in order to further their economic or political agenda. But even as young person in pre pubescence I saw the stupidity of wars like these. This shaped my viewpoint of war. I had no intention of personally going to war to kill Arabs over Oil, or Vietnamese over economic philosophy. I even "registered" for the selective service as a Conscientious Objector.

Times have changed however. Wars are still fought over seemingly ridiculous things such as religion, philosophy or land use. But the means of war have changed. Once we had two "super powers" who had their hand on the button. But these were generally rational men who knew that mutually assured destruction was the one thing that they could not do. Not so anymore. The dissolution of the Soviet Empire has released a Pandora’s box of terrors, both nuclear and biological. Unscrupulous scientists in need of money to feed their families sell their knowledge to the highest bidders.

So Mr. Peabody lets dial the wayback machine back to the present. Perhaps if you understand where I am coming from as I hope I have clearly elucidated above, you will see the strength of my convictions now. The case for war against a sovereign nation or individual leader can be made now more strongly that the Cold War is over. This is because the old veneer of "my guys vs. your guys" is over for the near future at least. Civilized nations and individuals on a global scale can examine national struggles not through the rose or gray lens of the old struggles but through clear eyes.

Simply put: Is a leader or Nation a threat against the world as a whole? That threat may be economic, it may be militaristic. And now a days it may be a terrorist threat.

One leader in this world today poses a threat on all three fronts. His name is Saddam Hussein. This man is a savage dressed in expensive suits. If you thought that Milosovic was (or is) guilty of crimes against humanity then.. as you say.. you ain't seen nothing yet baby!

Militaristic threat: By repeated blocking of attempts for civilized nations through out the world to determine if this man is developing "weapons of mass destruction" he has assured us that he is. As future essays will reveal I am no friend of the present Israeli government. But who in their right mind would want this man aiming his missiles capped with biological or nuclear warheads pointed at the most democratic and economically viable nation in the middle east. The Bush administration says that they have no direct links showing Saddam Hussein's paper or money trail to Al-Quaida. Balderdash. Any thinking person can see that if this person gives 10K to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers then he surely has been supporting this terrorist network for years.

Economic Threat: The turmoil in the Middle East is a multi headed serpent whose causes have been analyzed by greater minds than mine for many years. But again it does not take a great thinker to see that the entire Palestinian question is greatly stirred up by this man's support. As long as young men and women know that their families will be taken care of after they are gone, their fundamentalist view of their reward for killing the innocent civilians will be reinforced and strengthened. A stable world economy by it's very definition includes all parts of the world. As long as this man is in power, stirring up trouble, there will be no economic development in the region. The Bush administration says that they must solve the Palestinian issue before they can go after Saddam Hussein. I say if you want to begin down the road towards peace you remove your most insidious enemy.

Terrorist Threat: Although this would seem to be the strongest pillar in the argument it cannot be. This man has covered his tracks so well that no one seems to be able to link him conclusively to any terrorist organization. For me however there does not need to be a smoking gun. Coincidence, circumstantial evidence is all we have. For me it is all I need.

However the biggest reason for my support of the removal of Saddam Hussein is the Humanistic one. Magazines like the New Yorker, the Economist and others, News shows like 60 minutes, have been showing inconvertible proof that this man has used biological and chemical warfare upon the people of his own nation. This to me is the greatest crime of all. Killing innocent Kurds with various mixes of gasses and poisons. Using them as a laboratory to see just what works the best. The facts are there, and they are published. I call upon the world to condemn this man and his regime. Stop pussy footing around. Do you think for a moment that these hideous chemical attacks are done simply to teach the Kurds a lesson? This man is simply sharpening his sword to use against Americans, or Israeli’s or any other regime that he sees as standing in his way.
posted by Mike 11:10 PM
Blog blog blog I gotta weblog. Gotta be hip and gotta be cool. Fact of the matter is that old guys rule. I'm 40 yrs young and getting younger all the time.

Speaking of old guys who rule I saw a ton of old musicians this summer: Santana; Rush and Yes. There is not a itty bitty little alternative, punk, skunk or grunge band that have or will have the skills that these musicians have.

I'm reading the Ender saga by Orson Scott Card at the recommendation of my dear freind Scackmgack. First book was cute.. Ender's Game.. but the second was WOW.. Speaker for the Dead.

Yea ok fine time to see what this looks like.
posted by Mike 2:38 PM

The musings and meanderings of an overworked and underemployed mind