Monday, May 23, 2005

Park Day

Today was beautiful and I didn't get much done. I celebrated by taking my son out to the park. We both had a great time. I did a little playing around with qCAD on my laptop while he played on the jungle-gym. I even set up my webcam to record some of his play for posterity. Nothing gets a kid to start goofing around more than knowing that they're on camera.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Rain, rain, rain...

Weird weather lately. Lots of periods of sun mixed with torrential downpours. I've heard thunder a few times as well. Heidi doesn't like thunder at all. She's couldn't get inside fast enough. Naturally Cisco barely noticed...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Newsweek Deaths?

What's right is wrong, what's wrong is right...

Afghanis got together to protest American Military bases and the proliferation of the drug trade in their country. In order to put down the protest, Afghani authorities shot automatic weapons into the crowd, killing about 14 people.

In an unrelated incident, a Newsweek reporter was given an anonymous tip that a copy of the Quran had been flushed down a toilet at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. After publishing the report, the reporter went back to his source for confirmation, and the source negated their statement. Newsweek then had to retract the report.

Somehow the two incidents got wrapped up in one another and a lot of people now want to believe that the Newsweek report caused the Afghani riot. What's worse, is that, in my humble opinion (and some others as well), it looks as if the Newsweek reporter was "set up" by this source in the first place.

It seems like the United States of America is headed to a climate where *ANYTHING* is ok as long as it's done by people identified as Republican God fearing christians. Where did this faith in man come from? My Bible says that everyone is a sinner. No one person is infallible and we have a system of checks and balances to, at least partially, overcome this. As an example, a timely issue is the Republican named "Nuclear Option". How is it considered a good thing to make it easier for one person, a fallible person (according to my Bible), to fill the courts with people they deem qualified?

In order to maintain our system of checks and balances, it should be very difficult for one branch of the government to affect another branch. To use a metaphor, large sailing ships have something called "flood" doors installed on them. In order to prevent a small hole from taking down the entire ship, the ship is compartmentalized so that doors can be closed to "seal" off the leak. The Republican's "nuclear option" eliminates one of the flood doors in our government and makes it easier for one portion of the government to have control over another.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


This day was one of those that I'd never imagined I'd see.

It started out as a beautiful day out on Hood Canal catching shrimp. We ended up catching 92 shrimp. A halfway reasonable haul, but the real fun was being out on the boat with Darrin, Karey and Mickaela. If you've never been out on a boat for the day with good people, lots of laughs, sunshine and the stench of a catfood and mackerel bait slurry, I highly recommend it. The season ended at 1pm and we headed in shortly after. Being tired and a bit sunburned, Karey and I decided to head on home once we got something cold to drink and the shrimp divided up.

We stopped at Karey's parents house to pick up B-man and then continued on our way home. In order to get home, we have to cross the Tacoma Narrow's bridge. Many many years ago, this was the bridge that fell down in a storm. Karey's Grandfather was one of the last off the bridge and her Grandmother hasn't driven over it since. Today was much like any other day crossing the bridge. Morons who can't seem to remember to increase the gas, to compensate for the bridge's engineered incline, cause erratic slowdowns and weird backups. Since it was a Saturday afternoon, things weren't too bad.

A little over halfway across the bridge (on the Tacoma side, as I was later told), all of the sound in the world was shut out and things went into slow motion. I'm not sure what made me look, but I noticed a car stopped on the opposing lane. Behind the car was a woman who seemed to be enjoying the view. This is terribly unusual, since this is a 4 lane bridge (two lanes going each way) with *NO* shoulder. You don't stop on the bridge unless it's a mechanical failure or a life and death emergency. As we got perpendicular to her, she had hiked both feet over the ledge and was within a *HAIR'S* breath of heaving over the edge. My eyes were seeing it, and some part of my brain was perceiving it, but the rest of myself was having trouble believing that this was actually happening. I jammed on the brakes and laid on my horn. Realizing that a honking horn was going to do nothing to keep her from committing suicide, I jumped out of my car and ran across the middle two lanes to her. I honestly can't remember if I even bothered to look for oncoming traffic.

As a computer geek, you never train for something like this. Purely on instinct, I yelled to her that she didn't want to do what she was doing. She turned to me and yelled, "WHY?!?!?!". At that point my instincts told me that I had a small window of opportunity and I grabbed her around the waist and pulled her down off of the ledge. At that point, another driver jumped out of his car and helped me restrain her. A lot of things go through your head at that point, but mainly I was wondering why the heck no one was calling 911. In reality, about 20 people were doing just that at that very moment.

To respect the victim's privacy, I won't go into anything specific about what she said while we restrained her. What I can say is that she tried hard to get away from the two of us in order to complete her suicide. After what seemed like *FOREVER* (but was probably only 5 or so minutes), a whole platoon of police descended on the area. The woman was cuffed and safely taken into custody. We gave our information and reports to the officers and each of us went on our way.

I don't know why she tried to do what she did. I don't think it's fair to her to speculate about what got her to this point. I hope that the doctors who treated her tonight truly realized where she was at and were able to do something to help her.

During the event, one of the overriding thoughts going through my head was that with proper treatment, she would be glad that she wasn't successful. It reminded me a lot of when my son wants to do something that I know is wrong for him. He can't possibly understand why he can't do it, and it's useless to try to explain it to him. My only choice is to parentally restrain him and have faith that he'll eventually find his way.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Fixing a skylight...

I forgot to mention a while back that I fixed a leaky skylight in our house. I must admit that this has been the biggest "homeowner" challenge to date. After several tries and a *LOT* of money spent on various attempts I finally got it.

I ended up having to remove the roof shingles around the top half of the skylight. Once that was done I placed new tarpaper, reflashed the skylight, and added another layer of tarpaper over the flashing. Finally, I could put all new roofing tiles back in place. As it turns out, the leak was due to a small hole in a shingle and tarpaper about 3 feet above the top of the skylight. Water was leaking between the wood and the tarpaper and into the skylight. It was good that I tackled it as soon as I saw the watermarks around the skylight. None of the wood was rotted or warped.

As it turns out, the whole skylight was improperly installed. The leaky shingle was just the "canary in the mine". Eventually we would have had far worse leaks. I was amazed to find out that all that was protecting the roof this whole time was a flimsy piece of tarpaper around the skylight. The flashing simply wasn't doing its job. At this point though, the problem has been fixed in "industrial" fashion :-) It even passed a direct assault by a "hose monsoon".

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Document Storage

I'm getting tired of storing old bills and important documents in a filing cabinet. Filing cabinets invariably fill up too quickly and you can't find anything no matter how good your filing system is. Additionally, it's a real pain in the posterior to make a "backup" of a filing cabinet.

I'm going to try scanning and storing my stuff into a document imaging system. I'll use an OCR engine and custom indicies to get searchable data. I'll store the originals in a box in no particular order, although there should be a certain degree of date based stratification. If I ever need an original (which should be extremely rare) I can just dig through the approximate date area of the box(es) of originals. Otherwise, simply printing a copy of what I've scanned should suffice.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Finally a day of peace and quiet. The last few weeks getting ready for Linux Fest Northwest have been a real killer. I'm also recovering from a small flu *AND* an unbelievable night of partying after LFNW. Gotta get back to email, only 560 messages to go...