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Friday, September 30th, 2005

Need Cowboys Paraphernalia

I haven’t posted my humiliating photo, as per a lost bet, because I had counted on getting a jersey or something from our new technician, who hails from Longview, TX. Unfortunately, he says he can’t find any of his stuff – I guess a couple of months isn’t enough time for a young, single guy to unpack. So I’m in the odd spot of needing a Dallas fan here in San Diego.

Posted by Greg as Football, Posts About Me at 09:36 PST

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A9 by Amazon

I was going through my server logs and found an interesting 404 hit – someone asked for “siteinfo.xml”. A quick search lead me to the A9 developer blog. They want to use it as a resource for their A9 toolbar.

I generally despise custom toolbars because 98% of the ones I’ve encountered so far have been spyware. But, judging from the number of times I’ve found them on departing employee’s browsers, they seem to be popular. Of course, probably 98% of web surfers nowadays are not very tech-savvy.

I’ve only gotten 5 requests for the siteinfo.xml file since the end of May, so I guess there’s no rush in deciding whether I want to create one for my site. Interesting how A9 is relying on the spread of this “standard”:

The introduction of SiteInfo has not be [sic] publicized at all. It was our hope that word of mouth and simple curiosity (as website owners noticed the requests for “siteinfo.xml” from A9.com), would be enough to generate some traction. This strategy seems to have started paying off. The number of sites with valid siteinfo.xml files has been steadily increasing — although this is so early in the game that almost all growth looks like it could fit an exponential curve.

Posted by Greg as My Website at 09:05 PST

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Monday, September 26th, 2005

Uncle Again

I’m an uncle again! My sister, Katrina, gave birth to a healthy 3430 g (7 lb 9 oz) boy on September 20, 2005. Mother and child are doing fine.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends at 08:15 PST

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Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

Disappointment

I made reference earlier to reading the Interdictor blog back when Michael Barnett was writing it, documenting the tragedy in post-Katrina New Orleans before the media found out about it. I didn’t mention that I was reading it every day and was captivated by the description and admiring Barnett.

So I was trying to find out what was happening to him since he was rotated out and stumbled across a series of posts discussing his past. It was quite disillusioning. There are accusations of Barnett as not only a producer of Internet porn but an actor, that his best friend and boss is a serious cybersquatter, and that so many of the customers he was struggling to keep on line were porn sites. Maybe the last two are a reality of the Internet today, but the direct porn involvement is disheartening. I’ve known some people in the porn industry, and while I would hesitate to brand them as scum, they did not impress me as business people filling a consumer demand; they were more hedonists who reveled (even if they were astounded) in finding a lucrative means of continuing their debauchery.

I did some checking of the facts and found direct links between the Interdictor and the sites mentioned. The sites are unresponsive or gone now, but the Wayback Machine held records. Particularly depressing is his buddy’s successful manipulation of the system to place the Interdictor blog in the public eye. Again, maybe that’s the way the Internet, and by extension, the mainstream media, works nowadays.

Now, I’m far from an anti-porn crusader, let alone a moralist, but I’ll admit to some disdain for the people who satisfy and profit from my and others’ more base desires. Perhaps that was reared into me, but it was reinforced by exposure to the industry. On a philosophical note, I would say that there is nothing wrong from accepting and acknowledging the dark side of ourselves; but that should not prevent us from using judgment and striving to be better. The word for that (at least, before it became totally associated with its racial aspect) is discrimination (sense 2.)

Of course, I’m old enough, and have been involved enough, to lay claim to some indignity about the commercialization (in particular, saturation by porn sites) of the Internet. My first modem, purchased back in 1983, was 300 baud. I met my wife online in 1992, when the World Wide Web had technically been invented, but wasn’t yet a big deal. Yes- those aren’t “founding fathers”-type dates, but I think they should earn me some street cred.

I don’t think this issue is ever going to hit the mainstream media – the effect of the Interdictor’s blog has been fixed and anything else will be just a footnote in history. And I actually wish Michael and Crystal well – but I won’t be checking up on them anymore.

Posted by Greg as Current Events, People, Posts About Me, Society at 19:20 PST

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Sunday, September 18th, 2005

Welcome Home

I got back from Savannah really running on empty, not so much from the jet lag that had been dogging me all week, but in particular from the two-hour phone conversion I had with an old buddy in the middle of the night on Friday, after I had given up on keeping my head clear and deciding to blow off packing until 4 in the morning. Not that I fault him – his crisis was really up there as far as personal crises go, and he really needed to talk. He’s helped me out in big ways before, and I would have taken that call anytime, and besides, he thought I was on the left coast, where it was only 9:30. I only hope I was able to give him some comfort.

So I’ve been snatching sleep when I can and trying to get back to a regular cycle. (Which, incidentally, I’m throwing off by blogging right now.) At some point I was able to sit down at my main home computer, immediately noticed something that shouldn’t be there, reinstalled and ran AdAware (which had been mysteriously uninstalled), and it found 341 items! WTF! Another reason to build a simple web-browser box for everyone else in the house and turn my gem into a Linux-only machine. I am just very concerned about using my prime box as a webserver – maybe I need to build two extra boxes.

So for all of you waiting with baited breath for my next post (Har! Har!), you’ll just have to survive on the dribs and drabs I can toss you while I catch up. Of course, resuming my quest to get my HWP54G running under Fedora Core 4 will be important, but on a time-available basis.

I couldn’t believe how much I missed Boo while I was gone. He is definitely turning into a bright spot in my life.

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, OS, Posts About Me at 23:55 PST

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Friday, September 16th, 2005

In the Company of Rangers

After a couple of days of crashing virtually as soon as I get back into my hotel room, maybe I can finish this post:

I’m here in Savannah, Georgia (safe now from the threat of Hurricane Ophelia), working at Hunter Army Airfield. I had an experience today [Well, Tuesday] that’s definitely worthy of note – I ate lunch in the mess hall of the 1st Battalion, 75th Rangers Regiment.

Have to go into a little history here. After totally bombing in my first year of college (83-84, University of Delaware, Chemical Engineering – the cads actually put such an academic demand on me that I had to work to learn), I took time off from school and joined the Army. Well, I chickened out and joined the Army Reserve, at least then – later I would go Active Duty. It was all at the suggestion of my girlfriend at the time and intended future wife, Donna, and it directly lead to our break up (another long story.) Deciding to throw myself into the fire, I elected to join the military as an infantryman – possibly influenced by a character in an episode of The White Shadow, but more likely by The Green Berets by Robin Moore – another hugely influential book given to me by my father. I did initially sign up to join a reserve SF group, but was rebuffed due to my lack of US citizenship, and was persuaded to go Infantry as a good preparation for SF by my recruiter. Good thing, too. Turns out I was signing up for an SF group support role, not the real thing, and going Infantry really was the better way to work towards becoming an A-team member.

Anyways, I was looking for a transformative leap from book smart to the school of hard knocks, and I found it. Instead of going the regular two summers, part time, regular Reserve training route, I went Active Duty for training and ended up in Fort Benning, Georgia, thrust in with Regular Army soldiers, taking Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training all at once. As a transformative leap, you couldn’t do much better. The drill sergeants at Fort Benning in August took a particular pleasure in turning the dusty red Georgia clay into clogging red mud by the addition of recruits’ sweat. We also learned where all the dips were in the uneven floor of our World War II era barracks at Harmony Church, because when the drills really got us going, pools would form there.

It was there that I had a really insightful moment. I was doing pushups; a lot of them. I was pushed out. A drill sergeant saw me fading out and decided to give me a little personal attention, which came in the form of the most aggressive non-contact posture you could possibly imagine. There I was, limp noodles for arms, and he squatted over me and started laying down such an overwhelming barrage of invective that the paint started peeling off on the nearest building. I had really felt like I had reached the ultimate exhaustion; that it was physically impossible to get my muscles to do any more; and that when he stooped over me he was wasting his time. But he seemd to think it was worth the effort, and as he yelled and screamed at me, in desparation I put all my might into the effort, just to show him how impossible it was – and did another pushup. Barely noting my accomplishment, he demanded more – not just one more, but three.

Oh no, I thought to myself (if that ultra-panicked, crisis mode brain static can be considered thinking), I don’t know where that came from, but there can’t be any more. Compelled by the continuing vitriolic “encouragement”, I tried again – and did another pushup. Without relapse, my drill continued his assault on my personal integrity and the sexual preferences on my ancestors, and once again – I did another pushup. Unsatisfied, he relayed his opinion of the sorry state of the trash he had been assigned to convert into Infantrymen, as personified by myself – and I did another pushup. With a grunt, the most cursory acknowledgement of my success – that time-honored stimulus that has caused men to thrust themselves into the brunt for the respect of their peers and their leaders – he turned and focused himself on the next man.

I can’t remember who that man was, but he taught me something special. I would see it epitomized many years later in John Steakley’s book Armor:

You are
what you do
when it counts

I’ve used that experience many times to get myself through the roughest parts of my life – the knowledge that, when all seemed lost and effort was worthless, something could still be achieved and it was worth trying. At the time, it seemed an almost insurmountable feat to just finish Infantry school, let alone Airborne and Ranger schools, and then going to a Ranger battalion. But as I progressed in my military career, I discovered many ways in which I was able to overcome obstacles and succeed, and although I was tempted at times to change my direction and apply for a transfer to a Ranger battalion, I elected to stay on the shortest course I could find to SF. Thanks to an inopportune broken foot, I never achieved that goal, even thought I came to know that I was not only capable, I would have been good at it. I chose not to go back and finish, but to move on the other things I wanted to do.

Many would call me a wannabe, and in the company of Rangers, I felt awe and respect for the men that had done what they set out to do. I feel a little sad and nostalgic for the things that I had wanted to do and didn’t; and disappointment in the way things have turned out. But I also have a sort of peace with myself. After all, as the British SAS know, “Who dares wins.”

Posted by Greg as Posts About Me at 15:25 PST

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Tuesday, September 13th, 2005

Greetings From Savannah

After recovering from a severe case of last-minute packing and jet lag, I am now ready to tackle a blog entry. I say tackle, because with a little hotel fridge full of beer, the season premiere of House on the tv, and a mother-16 year old daughter fracas that I’m trying to moderate long distance, I don’t know how long this motivation will last.

First, the good stuff – by which I mean the stuff about me. Do I really need to describe the agony and frustration of a Chargers fan after Sunday? How about a Chargers fan, in transit, forced to watch the game in a Cowboys-themed bar at Dallas-Fort Worth airport? How about having to go through TSA security to grab a smoke? How about getting a boarding call for the final flight of the day to Savannah in the last few seconds of the last Chargers drive that could win the game? How about hearing 500 people burst into cheering when you’re looking for that monitor carrying the game? Yeah – interception in the endzone. The Chargers lost 28-24 to Dallas, basically because they repeatedly earned automatic first-down penalties during Dallas third and long situations, therefore doing a better job for Dallas than the Cowboy’s offensive line. And considering the last half of our schedule, that was pretty much a must-win game. Not to mention the bet I made with Web – stay tuned for the requisite self-humilating photo.

Aw, fuck. Yep, I said it in my blog. You know those close tab boxes in Mozilla? I just accidentally closed this Write Post tab while jumping back from getting a link, and I lost 25 minutes of writing. I give up. Well, if there isn’t an Autosave plugin already published for WordPress, I have a new project.

Posted by Greg as Football, Posts About Me at 19:31 PST

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Saturday, September 10th, 2005

Rain in San Diego

Do you want to know how much it really rains in San Diego? I mean, I was thinking about writing how if it was raining, I’d wait half an hour and then go do what I needed to do, but it didn’t sound credible. So how’s this – I was just at the local Walmart, and they don’t sell rain jackets. Not a one. Men’s wear suggested sporting goods, and sporting goods directed me to the single stand that displayed rainwear. A bunch of umbrellas and some 88 cent ponchos.

If I could advocate this place for any other motorcycle riders, this is how I’d do it. Unless you’re freaked out by lane-splitting. Don’t worry, you get used to it.

Posted by Greg as Posts About Me, Society at 21:44 PST

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Ophelia Watch

I woke up yesterday morning and watched a little CNN before going to work, and unexpectedly they showed a map of the predicted track of Hurricane Ophelia. The map had a complex loop and showed the track going directly through Savannah, Georgia, and the prediction was for landfall on Wednesday next week.

Since reading up on chaos theory I felt like I know a little about hurricane prediction; or rather, the immensely complex factors that have to be considered, the computing power that is required to process those variables, and an appreciation for the element of chance that it’s all trying to conquer. So I wasn’t immediately distressed about this 5-6 day out prediction, but I thought that that map, if I could get it, would make a good posting. I did find a reasonable facsimile that I passed around the office later that morning, but I was too busy to post it. So now that I have the time, I looked up a fresh map from the National Hurricane Center, and was a little disappointed to see the track has been resketched quite a bit further north:

Hurricane Ophelia predicted track, 9-10

I was watching CNN instead of the local news because I, like so many others, having been trying to catch imagery of the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Not from schadenfreude, but to address the dismay I feel at the blase attitude I had taken regarding the victims’ suffering on the first few days after Katrina passed through. Unlike our president, I was quite aware of the effects of the demolition of all infrastructure on a civilized society. I started reading Michael Barnett’s account last Thursday and wasn’t at all surprised, but I guess that since the more humane feelings about human life that I have felt since watching Boo grow up, I expected that I would have had more concern. It seems that I have not yet escaped the impact that The Lord of the Flies had on me when I read it at such a young age.

I do give a shit about those poor people; I feel a little relieved that the last reports indicate that casualties are lower than predicted by the now rediscovered doomsday scenarios, and I am impressed by the outpouring of support from not only the American people but the rest of the world, who have demonstrated once again that even if they resent the wealth and power of the United States, they have compassion for our pain.

What I am resisting being interested in, but know that I will be, is the political and strategic implications of this disaster. I can see that Michael Brown, the head of FEMA, is already being slated as the goat by this supposedly no-nonsense, “compassionate conservative” administration, but have little confidence that the transparency will become seen by the electorate. I could go on – there’s lots of opportunity here for me to pontificate – but I am not trying to become a political blogger, and I take little solace in being right when attempting to predict the future. I know my own predictions would be intensely shaped by my own libertarian (and thus, non-mainstream) politics, and am too resigned to disappointment.

OK, I doth protest too much. Let me squeeze in just a little prediction. Clinton in ’08. I don’t particularly like it (after all, I am a Republican), but that’s what it is. I said it five years ago without knowing about a lot of things that have since come to pass, but it seems more and more likely. Maybe I’ll yield to more predictions later, but since I don’t have the drive to attempt to become a shaper of politics, I’ll settle for the historian’s approach of being an observer, and hope to be a good analyst.

Besides, I have more immediate concerns. I need to feel empathy for the victims of Katrina, I need to pack for my trip to Savannah, and I need to invest in a good rain jacket, since the gortex I have relied on since leaving the army was purchased when I was 60 pounds lighter (thank the gods, not 80 pounds any more.) When moving to San Diego was influenced by the less than 10 inches of rain a year, it became hard to motivate myself to keep up on rain wear.

Posted by Greg as Current Events, Politics, Posts About Me at 17:16 PST

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Thursday, September 8th, 2005

Birthday Picture

I’ve had this photo sitting around from when the office threw their little birthday celebration for my 40th. In addition to the silly hat and cane, they festooned my office with streamers and confetti-filled balloons, which they took great delight in popping whenever they stepped in.

Greg turns 40

Posted by Greg as Posts About Me at 10:50 PST

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