Losing Yourself

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So, to work in Canada I need a work permit and a visa. No big deal, right?

Well it is if you can’t find your passport. And to make matters worse, I’m guessing my passport is in the same location as my Social Security card, which has also gone AWOL.

I promise never to put things in a “safe place” again. It turns out the only person it foils is me.


Nailed In Portland

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CNN is reporting on a story first published in the Journal Of Neurosurgery. Seems one of my extended neighbors here in Portland shot himself in the head with a nail gun 12 times in a botched suicide attempt whilst high on methamphetamine.

Surgeons removed the nails with needle-nosed pliers and a drill, and the man survived with no serious lasting effects … The man at first told doctors he had had a nail gun accident, but later admitted it was a suicide attempt. The nails came close to major blood vessels and the brain stem but did not pierce them.

Meth is bad, m’kay?

Those Kooky Finns

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Finland is an odd place.

It is a beautiful country noted for its lakes and pristine Nordic scenery. My beloved Linux was developed by a Swedish-Finn. So was my father, as my paternal grandmother was a Swedish-Finn from Karelia. I remember a fun summer spent with Finnish cousins Esse, Vesa, and Janne. Visits from Ilke and Irmili.

Finland is also home to bizarre black metal bands and a suicide rate that puts other countries to shame. Finns have a (not undeserved) reputation as an aloof and unsociable people.

But, if this is what you saw on MTV you might contemplate suicide. And if this guy was your dance instructor you might have a hard time making friends.

Ahh, the paradox that is Finland.

Thanks, Remco!

The Color Of Spring

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Happy 01:02:03 04/05/06 everyone!

Here she comes.
Silent in her sound.
Here she comes.
Fresh upon the ground.
Come gentle spring,
come at winter’s end.
Gone is the pallor from a promise that’s nature’s gift.
Waiting for the color of spring.
Let me breathe.
Let me breathe the color of spring.
Here she comes.
Laughter in her kiss.
Here she comes.
Shame upon her lips.
Come wanton spring,
come for birth you live.
Youth takes its bow before the summer the seasons bring.
Waiting for the color of spring.
Let me,let me breathe.
Let me breathe you.
Let me breathe.
Let me breathe you.
Let me breathe.

April Fifth – Mark Hollis

Best Baby Photo Ever

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I met my friend Bill in 1982, when I worked as a camp counselor at a day camp in Connecticut. We had a blast warping the minds of our young charges and getting them to sing Zappa and Beefheart lyrics during lunch.

Bill just sent me this picture of himself and his daughter Lucy. This is the best baby picture ever. If you’re a parent, you’re gonna have to work pretty damned hard to top this.

Backyard Predator

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Today I was watching the little birds eating at the feeders in our backyard. Suddenly, as if responding to an unheard signal, every single one of them flew off into hiding. Now, it’s not entirely unusual for these little birds to fly away in groups. But for all of them to do it as if controlled by a single brain is unusual.

I opened the sliding glass door that opens onto the patio and heard a loud rustling in the hedge that forms the rear perimeter of our yard. As I watched, a gorgeous hawk flew out of the hedge and landed on a tree branch. He sat there preening himself after his headlong dive into our hedge in pursuit of his prey. He was a gorgeous specimen of one of nature’s truly beautiful killing machines. And I found it funny that he, like our ‘tiels, liked sitting on one leg, with the other tucked up into his soft chest feathers.

I ran inside and grabbed the binoculars and digital camera. While I was able to snap these photos, I was unable to get woo out of the shower in time to see him. Her loss.

I love it when the wild intrudes into our suburban sprawl. Well, at least when it’s a beautiful hawk in a tree. I’d probably feel differently if it was a wolverine in the bathtub.

Vihara Penguins

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I have been an active member of the Oregon Buddhist Vihara for the past year or so. It’s been my pleasure to meet many Buddhist monks, as well as some wonderful Sri Lankan and Western dyakas.

A few months ago my friend Scot agreed to let them host their web site at Birdhouse for free (thanks Scot!) and I set up a content management system for them. Last week I decided it was high time they learned to operate the site themselves, and Bodhiseeha and I agreed to meet this weekend for some instruction. Typically, things weren’t that easy.

Bodhi’s computer, a Dell PIII, runs WindowsXP. When we booted it it took a full four minutes from the time the desktop appeared until the machine was actually usuable. No hyperbole. Four to five minutes. Part of this problem was the fact the machine had a mere 64MB of memory, but most of the problem was software. Being trusting, when getting a new printer Bodhi installed all the software from CD. Same when he got DSL. Same when he got a link from a friend. Spyware, adware, and malware galore.

We were able to cannibalize some RAM from another donated machine and get his up to 192MB. That helped. I ran Spybot and removed the stuff it found. That helped a little more. However, a ton of malicious software remained that I couldn’t remove effectively. The problem is that Spybot doesn’t classify this stuff as malicious, because it does give the user the option of not installing it. But it does not appear in Windows’ “Add and Remove Programs” panel because it’s not truly benign. Of course, trying to remove it manually is like pulling teeth because of Windows’ screwed up registry.

So, quiz time. What’s the path of least resistance to make a malware-infested Windows computer usable?

Answer: Cannibalize the hard drive from that other computer and install Linux. Ubuntu Linux, to be precise. I would say that 90% of Bodhi’s time on the computer is spent writing documents, surfing the web, writing e-mail, and listening to the Sinhala Real streams from the BBC. All of which can be done with Linux without effort. OpenOffice, Firefox, Evolution, and RealPlayer for Linux all provide simple, elegant, fault-tolerant, stable, and, above all, secure, solutions.

Not to mention that Linux (and Ubuntu in particular) is made for people like Sri Lankans. They’re technologically curious, but desperately poor. There is no reason Sri Lankans should be paying Microsoft (the richest company on the planet) for the … ahem … “right” to use Windows and Office. It makes no sense.

So, after 2 afternoons of installation, configuration, and tutorial Bodhi is now an Ubuntu Linux user and loving it. He can still dual-boot Windows so he can use any Windows-only apps, but I installed Firefox and OpenOffice on the Windows side of things for consistency. And you know, he’s really beginning to see the light when it comes to free software. He gets it. He wants to send donated computers back to his village someday, and as of this weekend, those machines will run Linux.

Score one for the good guys. And I mean both users and developers.

And I’ll get to the web site tutorial in the next week or so, knowing the computer won’t be an impediment to getting work done, but rather a vehicle. What a concept.

Giant Disembowelled Bunny

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From WikiNews:

Gelitin, a group of artists from Vienna, has erected a pink bunny measuring 200 feet in length (about 60 metres) on the the side of a northern Italian mountain.

The soft rabbit is constructed out of pink wool, and is expected to remain on the mountain until 2025. Though it seems like a giant children’s toy at first glance, a closer look or an in-person exploration quickly leads to the realization that the rabbit’s side is split open, and its entrails pulled out.

Here’s the full story and here’s a a gallery of some pictures.

Christo meets Dali meets the PMRA.

Avast Me Hearties, Yarr!

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It be Talk Like A Pirate Day, arr! Scrub the barnacles off ye tongue an’ start talkin’ like ye be a true buccaneer o’ th’briny blue, gar!

Chickenshit Poltroons

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This forum thread basically boils down to:

Person A: Hi, I’m a middle-aged easygoing male with a receding hairline and carefree attitude looking for women to bicycle around the country with me

Person B: Uhhh … dude? You sound horny and desperate.

Person A: Screw you you cowardly moron! You can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, but if I could find you, I would KILL YOU!

Person C: Uhhh … wow. Are you sure this is the best way to attract female cycling companions, Mister Easygoing?

Person A: DAMN YOU YOU CHICKENSHIT POLTROONS! I knew about 9/11 prior to its occurence and did nothing so that people like you would DIE! Do not trifle with me, for I am rage incarnate!

Priceless. My distillation cannot do it justice. Go read.

Thanks, Garamond.

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