a weblog by Schuyler D. Erle

Sat, 30 Mar 2002

[05:10] ALL-ONE-GOD-SOAP!

So I've spent altogether too much time lately working on this.

Fri, 29 Mar 2002

[14:07] Damn the Torpedoes! Let It All Ride!

From the floor of the Kentucky state legislature:

A RESOLUTION encouraging the purchase and vigorous use of the USS Louisville 688 VLS Class submarine.

WHEREAS, in the past few years the scourge of the casino riverboat has been an increasingly significant presence on the Ohio River; and

WHEREAS, the Ohio River borders the Commonwealth of Kentucky; and

WHEREAS, the siren song of payola issuing from the discordant calliopes of these gambling vessels has led thousands of Kentucky citizens to vast disappointment and woe; and

WHEREAS, no good can come to the citizens of Kentucky hypnotized from the siren song issuing from these casino riverboats, the engines of which are fired by the hard-earned dollars lost from Kentucky citizens;

NOW, THEREFORE, Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:

The House of Representatives does hereby encourage the formation of the Kentucky Navy and subsequently immediately encourages the purchase and armament of one particularly effective submarine, namely, the USS Louisville 688 VLS Class Submarine, to patrol the portion of the Ohio River under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth to engage and destroy any casino riverboats that the submarine may encounter. The House of Representatives does hereby authorize the notification of the casino riverboat consulate of this Resolution and impending whoopin' so that they may remove their casino vessels to friendlier waters.

Note to self: Stay out of Ohio River from now on. (Link courtesy of Simon Cozens)

Wed, 27 Mar 2002

[22:55] Theoretically Speaking

Rich Gibson thoughtfully pointed out the following at tonight's NoCat Network meeting:

"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are different."

[18:59] Old-Growth Forest Preservation

Today, I signed up with the Citizens' Campaign for Old-Growth Preservation to gather 250 signatures to put the Heritage Tree Preservation Act on the November 2002 California ballot, which would legally preserve of old-growth trees on non-federally owned forestlands in the State of California. Old growth, in this case, is conveniently defined as trees that were alive in 1850, the year California became a state.

I'm doing this because the timber industry is cutting down two-thousand-year-old trees to make deck furniture. Deck furniture! I almost cannot fathom the degree of short-sighted, ignorant selfishness behind this, and become literally ill just contemplating it. California's old-growth redwoods are so beautiful, so magical, and so precious that it almost makes me want to cry, and, by the Goddess, I want my grandchildren (and yours) to be able to experience their majesty for themselves.

Please, I beg of you, if you live in California, please consider helping to collect signatures or providing other assistance to this desperate cause.

[14:36] Zen and the Art of Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle Maintenance

Mommy, why don't I feel safer yet?

Tue, 26 Mar 2002

[18:35] What's in a Name? (Or, Greetings from São Tomé!)

So a number of people on OpenProjectsNet #wireless have commented on the relative uniqueness of this website's domain. The domain is, in fact, registered with nic.st, the domain registrar for São Tomé and Príncipe, or more formally, el Republica Democratica de São Tomé e Príncipe. (If you've read the CIA Factbook entry for São Tomé, you now know as much as I do about the country.) If you're curious to know what other word-like domains are available from .st, you can do what I did, which is to say, run the following shell command from a suitably equipped UNIX-like shell:

$ zcat words.gz | grep 'st$' | sed 's/st$/.st/' | while read i; do (whois $i | grep -q '^No entries found') && echo $i; sleep 60; done | tee list_of_st_domains.txt

... with the tee(1) so you get to watch the names go by. (If you don't have a words.gz, try mine -- it's got something like 234,000 words in it.) You can shorten the delay if you feel like life's too short, but be nice to the nic.st people.

Not that it's clear to me that anyone should be nice to the domain registrars. I cite the example of my new friend Mary Moore, who runs the Sonoma County Free Press, which used to be at www.sonomacountyfreepress.org. Now, Mary, bless her heart, is an old leftist activist from way back, and isn't especially tech-savvy. Needless to say, like many rational people, when her original Network Solutions registration of sonomacountyfreepress.org came up for renewal, she attempted to transfer the registration to register.com, since NetSol got fat and stupid from their monopoly days and can't be relied on to do anything right, besides charge your credit card when asked. Seriously, though, it's amazing to me that any corporation can get away with the incredible amounts of bureaucracy and stupidity that Network Solutions (now Verisign) makes its customers go through, and still have customers.

Well, register.com waited just long enough to cash Mary's check that NetSol had already expired the domain, so NetSol wouldn't let them transfer, a fact which for some reason register.com only saw fit to keep to itself. So nothing further came of it, until, six months later, when Mary's website went down. Why? Because the domain suddenly had a new registrant. A company based in Hong Kong called "Ultimate Search".

Huh? I mean, WTF is a Hong Kong company going to do with "sonomacountyfreepress.org"? They've had the domain for months, and there's still nothing there. The only conclusion that anyone can come up with is that these people are unscrupulous vultures with spiders on the hunt for expired domains. So, who's at fault here? NetSol? register.com? The vultures from HK? The whole stinking racket? The only mistake I can see that Mary made was inattempting to pay for something on the 'Net by mailing in a check, which I'm sure the register.com people had absolutely no idea what to do with. And what's her recourse now?

While you consider this meaty problem, I hope you'll excuse me; I think I'm going to go and pick up anarchosyndicali.st. Or perhaps anthropomorphothei.st.

(Thanks to Sean Burke for pointing out my high-bit encoding idiocies.)

[16:10] Homemade Ginger Ale

Today's quote of the day is brought to you by #perl's Sarah "boojum" Burcham, who had the following to say this afternoon:

I almost (honestly, seriously) just said, "Having my wisdom teeth out was like having my teeth pulled."

Which reminded me, boojum gave us a great recipe for homemade ginger ale. I really want to try this:

  1. Boil 1 cup water. Add 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger. Boil/simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Steep for 20-30 minutes or longer if stronger flavour desired. Strain.
  3. Take ginger flavoured water. Rebring to a boil. Remove from heat.
  4. Add 1 cup sugar. Stir. Refrigerate in closed container and ready for use.
  5. To make sodas, just mix with club soda and ice, and stir.

[14:21] Nomination #1 for Better Living Through Technology: Pollstar

Ever have that somewhat frustrating experience of discovering that your favorite rock band has played their only appearance this year in your area the week after they've done it? Let Pollstar keep you informed of new and updated concert tour dates by e-mail. Now how cool is that?

On that note, can I just say I loathe Ticketmaster? Having been duly notified by Pollstar that Medeski Martin & Wood were coming to town, I went to Ticketmaster to get tickets. Hrm, let's see, two tickets, $26 a piece, okay, total $70?? Waitaminnit, why? Oh -- Ticketmaster wants a $6.95 per ticket handling fee? WTF for?! I still haven't bought the tickets.

[13:24] Yes, Even Kevin Mickle Has A Weblog Now

In part two of our ongoing review of brand-spankin'-new weblogs started late this month, I note that the illustrious Kevin Mickle of South Jersey local favorites Desiderata is bringing the web a daily dose of the Anti-K with his new weblog. Of particular interest is the beautiful picture he's posted of the New York City skyline. (I could have sworn there was a bigger version of it up yesterday. If you have a higher-res copy, lemme know.)

Mon, 25 Mar 2002

[19:34] One-Size-Fits-All Wireless FAQ

I get asked a lot of questions about wireless networking. So, I'm posting this One-Size-Fits-All Wireless Networking FAQ in the hopes of clearing things up.

Q. I'd like to try doing ___________ with 802.11b. Will it work?

A. Dunno, maybe. Wireless networking depends on so many different factors that it's impossible to say for sure. Try it and let us know.

[15:58] Housing for the 11th 21st Century

Traditional housing is bunk. Uneconomical, unsustainable, non-portable, and just plain boring. I designed and built a two-frequency geodesic dome to shelter seven people at Burning Man 2001. (Meng took some great photos, both of the exterior and interior.) The PVC was kind of a pain in the ass to work with -- not to mention made of toxic chemicals -- and I just don't have the tools to fashion a dome out of metal conduit, so I might just shell out for a Pacific Dome this year and spare myself the trouble. (All hail Buckminster Fuller.) But what reminded me of all of this was an article recently published in Wired about yurts, which are traditional semi-temporary structures that have been in use in Central Asia for centuries. I know some people in the Cazadero Hills in Sonoma County that live in yurts, and they seem like another cool option for progressive housing in this day and age. Maybe I'll get a yurt, instead.

[01:25] Here a 'blog, there a 'blog, everywhere a 'blog, 'blog

Elaine, I think you've done a bad thing. Our friend geoffeg from #perl has started a weblog that looks astonishingly familiar. He writes: "I've made attempts of maintaining blogs on other sites... but so far, I've never liked the fact that I don't have more control over the look and design.... I don't think my life is very exciting but apparently these blogs are just the wave of the future!" And look who's on Geoff's list of links. I guess Great Minds Think Alike (also q.v. Fools Seldom Differ).

Sat, 23 Mar 2002

[23:54] Hello, world!

Yes, I've finally jumped on the bandwagon. I've been wanting to do this for a while, so I pestered Rael for some kind of worthy blogging software. He showed me Blosxom, which is a 61-line perl script he's written that appears to work just dandy. Already I've started hacking on it.

Anyway, I wanted some random place on the web to clip bookmarks and whinge about my life. Here it is. Enjoy.

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