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One thing about Body For Life, I spend a lot of time thinking and
waiting for and anticipating the free day. It’s tomorrow, and I can’t
wait. Last week I had some candy, a braunschweiger sandwich and a big
drippy tasty burger from my neighborhood faux British pub, complete
with cheese fries. Yum. Tomorrow I’m going to drink some beer, yeah
buddy. Maybe I’ll have a donut or three, a cheese steak, some pizza,
ice cream, or whatever floats my boat.

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I’m watching $20,000 Pyramid on the Game Show Network (my default
viewing when there is nothing else on), and one of the celebrities
is a young David Letterman. He’s really no nonsense as a clue giver,
focussing on a few very descriptive words. He also stays really
calm. I suspect that’s because he really doesn’t care that much.

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At this moment, the Georgia senatorial race is between Democrat Max Cleland and
Republican Saxby Chambliss. The race has gotten very ugly, and the
ugliness is basically all coming from Chambliss. Recently, he ran an
add accusing Cleland of being soft on “homeland defense”, and then
cutting to footage of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. I haven’t
actually seen the ad in question. I got an e-mail from MaxMail,
Cleland’s newsletter, referencing this article in the Columbus
Ledger-Enquirer
. In it he makes some very good points about the
long term effects of the current political climate, how cut-and-slash
campaigns poison the well for the future of politics. From the
article:

Cleland teased the children and they teased him back. When he was
through, they wanted hugs. After they were back in class, he talked
about the decreasing affability in politics.

“Did you notice that when I asked them about their dreams, not one of
them said they wanted to be president of the United States? They
talked about winning the lottery or owning a limo. We’re all part of
TV Land and what happens on television affects them. All of us need to
be careful that our ads reflect who we are. We need to generate hope,”
Cleland said.

This current era of public discourse, where the primary mode of
expressing disagreement is to shout down your opponents, is depressing
and sickening. This is why I can’t watch Crossfire or Politically
Incorrect or any of the “sit in a circle and shout” political
shows. It’s all bullshit. Why is it so impossible for philosophical
differences to be treated as such, and not as moral failings for everyone
who believes differently than oneself?

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Interesting article by Kuro5hin about the existence of
God
. Just yesterday, I was thinking about writing up why I am
confused by the whole notion of the “religious right”, since so much
of what seems to be the heart of modern conservative philosophy seems
incompatible with the teachings of Christ. If I can shake off my
malaise, maybe I’ll do that.

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I just got a flu shot a few minutes ago, something I’ve meant to do
every year for many but have never done before. We ended up waiting
about ten minutes past the nominal starting time because the guy was
running to get change. Why didn’t he think about that beforehand? The
shot was $15, so he needed a boatload of fives, but instead he had a
stack of ones. What I’m wondering is why don’t they just price it at
$20? Everyone that got the shot at $15 will get it at $20, they don’t
need to make change so the process will move faster and they will make
more money. These things seem so simple, and yet people so seldom
think it through.

Log rolling

One thing I really want to do is to write a script that will parse my
maillog and secure log on my linux box, extract out the IP addresses
that have tried to do suspect things and add them to my hosts.deny
file. I am now getting a few attempts a day to use my SMTP server as a
spam relay. Almost all have the same from address, and they are mostly (entirely?)
coming from Asian countries. I’m also seeing some failures to connect
via SSH, no doubt script kiddies looking for vulnerable openssh
installs. I just want to refuse all IP packets from all these places.

Saxby is a sleazy customer

I saw the anti-Cleland ad, but missed the first 5 seconds which are
apparently where the Bin Laden and Hussein footage are. The Chamblis
anti-Cleland ads are kind of sleazy and disturbing.

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I’ve been very low energy the last week. With my wife gone, I’m just
moping around the house a lot. I have a gazillion things I need to do,
but I’m going none of them and instead am just being a big depressed
lump. I have been playing this game What Word on
Yahoo games, and doing almost nothing else. I really need to clean my
office, finish my book, and a thousand things large and small. I have
no motivation. I thought I’d use the time by myself to watch movies my
wife would be uninterested in, but I haven’t bother to go to a movie
or rent anything. Inertia is pinning me to the couch.

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I really like Letterman, and always have. He cracks me up, and the
less they do, the more I like it. Just sitting around and talking
nonsense is enough for me. Tonight they had one of my favorite
segments, “Allen Kalter’s People Who Can Kiss My Ass”. One of the
people was Stuart Pankin, someone who bugged the living hell out of me
every time I’ve seen him in the last 20 years going all the way back
to HBO’s “Not Necessarily the News.” He can kiss my ass too, fat
overacting bastard. The opening thing was the statement “and now, the
man who shortened ‘science fiction’ to ‘sci-fi’!” I thought that was hilarious.

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I’ve been getting a lot of stuff from my coworkers lately. A site I’m
amazed that I’ve never seen before is Fuck Microsoft. It has such
things as a description of the hidden files MS uses to keep track of
every web site you ever visit and that doesn’t get cleared out with
your history. This would explain why Windows installs seem to always
slowly have their hard drive space nibbled away unexplainably. They
are keeping history files of things you do that you can’t access. Very
scary stuff. Why in the hell wasn’t the MS antitrust suit about
bullshit like this?

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Forwarded by a coworker: an examination written up in Design Pattern
style of the pattern that occurs most often in the actual development
process: The Big Ball of
Mud
. This includes such morsels of wisdom as

engineers will differ in their levels of skill and commitment to
architecture. Sadly, architecture has been undervalued for so long
that many engineers regard life with a BIG BALL OF MUD as
normal. Indeed some engineers are particularly skilled at learning to
navigate these quagmires, and guiding others through them. Over time,
this symbiosis between architecture and skills can change the
character of the organization itself, as swamp guides become more
valuable than architects.

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I drove to Augusta today to see my niece and to basically have lunch
and hang out. While I was there, my brother was asking about places to
host a domain for cheap and I suggested Hurricane Electric, the host of
EvilGeniusCorp.com. I was a little surprised as we were walking
through the online sales brochure to realize that my account type (the
basic $9.95/month) has more space and more bandwidth transferral than
when I signed up 3 years ago. They’re a good operation. One of my most frequently
visited sites, Wheres George
is hosted there.

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Met with some folks at WREK today to hand off my responsibilities
as tender of the music robot. As of the end of the month, I am a
freelance on-demand developer for them and a listener. My days of high
involvement are pretty much over.

When I lived in Portland they were between attempts at the yellow bike
program. Interestingly enough, they are also doing the same thing in
the city of Decatur. It wouldn’t
work a lot of places, and not many places in this area. Decatur is one
of the few where it makes sense. People lean towards green politics,
and there is a dense enough city core that there is a need to bike
from place to place. I’m curious how well it will work, and for how
long. The Portland experiment suffered from bike attrition. I only saw
two of them while I was there, one in operation in a stand and one
abandoned down by the river. It would have been nice to have them
around when I was working there. For a while I brought my bike with me
on the bus every day, and I rode it from place to place. The day I
left work at lunchtime to ride my bike to the comic book store and to
play Galaga and Robotron at the retrocade, I felt like I was 14 again.

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This morning as I was getting ready for work, I heard in the course of
about 90 seconds that Jimmy Carter had won the Nobel Peace Prize and
that there was an accident at Jimmy Carter Boulevard that was backing
up I-85. About 10 years ago, we lived in Smithville GA while I worked
for Merck in Albany. At that point, we were about 15 miles from
Plains in one direction and Americus in another. We always kind of
meant to visit Plains and the Carter Museum, but we never did. We have
visited the Carter Center here in town. It’s in a great spot, about
half a mile from downtown and the Little Five Points/ Virginia
Highlands area. There were gardens and libraries and lots of peaceful
spots. I guess that was the plan.

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Because I forgot to bring eggs and fruit for my mid-meal snacks, I
ended up buying some balanced MetRX thing from the convenience store
downstairs. It had the right amount of protein and carbs, but holy
crap did it taste bad. The temptation to eat those in lieu of real
food will not be there. Not to mention that a bar the size of a
Hershey bar was $2.59. Ouch.

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My whole upper body is sore from the weightlifting I did on
Wednesday. Dear god there is no worse workout situation than starting
back at weightlifting after a significant time away. I’m keeping with
the diet as best I can and haven’t missed a workout yet. Today I work
the legs for the first time since restarting on the program. I really
did fairly light weights on the upper body, but that didn’t prevent
deep soreness, so I’m resigned to the same for the legs. Oh well, the
soreness means it is working.

One of the downsides of the way the aerobics works on Body For Life is
that you have to pay a lot of attention to the machine. You ramp it up
or down every minute, so you have to be basically looking at the
display the whole time so that your perceived exertion matches what it
should be. This means that I can’t just read a book while I’m on the
bike or the stair machine. However, I can listen to my iRiver, so last
night I spent my 20 minutes on the stair machine listening to an
episode of Dimension X, a dramatization of the Jack
Williamson story “With Folded Hands.” It was quite good. I’ll keep
doing this until I run out of things to listen to. I might try some
audiobooks if I can buy some in MP3 format.

I hear on the news today that we’ve given our president a blank check
to just go do whatever he wants to do in Iraq. That’s nice. He’s a
trustworthy sort, as are his cronies, so I’m sure it will all work out
in the end.

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I had occasion to exchange e-mail with Sam Rosenthal of Projekt
Records back when I was trying to get more ambient music sent to
WREK. As it happened I recently had occasion to be browsing the Projekt Records website, on which I
saw his essay
about MP3 sharing
. My favorite quote from the article:

“I don’t agree with the whole concept that people will steal music
from you and never buy music again.”

He is both the owner/operator of Projekt, as well as a professional
working musician so if anyone has an informed opinion, you’d think
this guy has one.

Music TopicBecause of all the good stuff I found on the Projekt MP3 page, I have
some new band of the day picks. Today’s is the band that Rosenthal is
in, Black
Tape for a Blue Girl
. I wasn’t previously familiar with them,
although I’ve heard the name before. When I heard some of their music,
it reminded me of the Changelings, a former botd. Really, it’s
probably the other way around since Black Tape has been around a lot
longer. Check them out.

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It looks like the Bush PR effort towards war is working according to
plan. This morning, I heard on the CBS morning show the following
quote from a man on the street deal about the potential for war:
“Well, I guess we need to do this to them, since they came over here
and attacked us.” The conflation of the Iraqi buildup with Al Qaeda
and the WTC attacks is relentless. I find it kind of grotesquely
racist and xenophobic, myself. “We have promised you that we’ll take
down the people responsible for the terrorist attacks. However, we
can’t find them so we’ll find the worst swarthy towel-heads we can,
attack them and call it good. That they have oil we want is gravy on
the deal.” How long is it before the premise that
“they are about to do something terrible, so we’re going to stop them
preemptively” moves from our foreign policy and into the domestic?
“That guy was almost certain to commit a crime, so we locked him up.”
It makes me very nervous, like basically everything that comes out of
this current administration. They keep telling us how we can’t live in
fear, but I’m far more scared of them and what they will do to my
beloved country than I am of any external enemy.

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I went to the gym last night and worked out for the first time in a
really long time. I had the unpleasant experience of weighing myself
and seeing a number 5 pounds higher than my previous highest recorded
weight. Yikes. I knew that being sick, not being active, and eating
lots of comfort food had wrought havoc on me. Even my fat pants are
tight now but I hadn’t realized it was this bad. I just restarted on
the Body for Life plan. It
has a fairly sensible nutrition component (eat 6 small meals a day,
one portion of protein and one of complex carbohydrates, cut out the
refined stuff) and a fairly sensible excercise component. The nice
thing is that one day a week is the “free day”, during which you can
eat or drink anything without limit to content or amount. One of my
friends has lost 50 pounds on the Atkins diet. This is not so extreme,
and because it is predicated on you doing weightlifting and cardio
work seems to be more healthy to me. You don’t just try to lose fat,
putting on more muscle is one of the mechanisms to burning off the
fat, so when you are done you look that much better. We shall see how
it works.

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I’ve noticed a creeping change in the semantics of the word “spam” as
it relates to e-mail over time. Just now I got into it with a guy on
the WREK staff list because he thinks I shouldn’t have used the list
for a message I sent. “You should have called him on the phone rather
than spamming the whole list.” I am of the belief when you have a
mailing list chartered, and a member of the mailing list sends a
message, it cannot be “spamming” the list. At worst, it is off-topic
but spam has a more specific and different meaning than that. I got so
pissed at this guy so quickly that I wrote a procmail rule routing his
incoming mail to /dev/null. I’m not feeling like engaging people
about horshit today.