Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Weather Update

The heat wave's back has definitely been broken. We have been mid-90's or lower now for the last 3 weeks. Low 80's yesterday.

We've entered that precious 4 week period each year where the weather here is neither too hot nor too cold. The days are dry, a little breezy...the wind wisps away the last remnants of August. The nights...oh, the nights are unbelievable...smooth as velvet...not too cool, just perfect. The A/C only runs about 3 hours total a day (what a change!) and the trees are starting their ever-so-gradual transition to slumber. More from the dryness left by the summer and their just being too tired to fight and hang on now that a little relief is here. The grass has a sleepy, relaxed look to it now that the stress is gone.

These are the days of epic rides: take off on a ride in the early a.m. and not be back until the shadows get long (bike or motorcycle, take your pick). Wind makes tears streak your face, wonderful mild sunburn...enough to remind you of the pleasure you had. It's just this stinkin' thing called work keeps me from running away.

Next up: 70's daytime, 50's night. Looks to be coming up in about 2 weeks. Also, El Nino looks to be poised to end or severely dent our drought. More updates to follow.



"The more things change, the more they stay the same. I'm not sure who the first person was who said that. Probably Shakespeare. Or maybe Sting. But at the moment, it's the sentence that best explains my tragic flaw, my inability to change. I don't think I'm alone in this. The more I get to know other people, the more I realize it's kind of everyone's flaw. Staying exactly the same for as long as possible, standing perfectly still... It feels safer somehow. And if you are suffering, at least the pain is familiar. Because if you took that leap of faith, went outside the box, did something unexpected... Who knows what other pain might be out there, waiting for you. Chances are it could be even worse. So you maintain the status quo. Choose the road already traveled and it doesn't seem that bad. Not as far as flaws go. You're not a drug addict. You're not killing anyone... Except maybe yourself a little. When we finally do change, I don't think it happens like an earthquake or an explosion, where all of a sudden we're like this different person. I think it's smaller than that. The kind of thing most people wouldn't even notice unless they looked at us really close. Which, thank God, they never do. But you notice it. Inside you that change feels like a world of difference. And you hope this is it. This is the person you get to be forever... that you'll never have to change again."

Quote from one of my favorite shows


Monday, September 11, 2006

Song of the Week: Homeward Bound

Check out the Video

In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing and the sky is clear and red.
When the summer’s ceased its gleaming,
When the corn is past its prime,
When adventure’s lost its meaning,
I’ll be homeward bound in time.

Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I’ll return to you somehow.

If you find it’s me you're missing, if you’re hoping I’ll return.
To your thoughts I’ll soon be list’ning, and in the road I’ll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing as my journey nears its end.
And the path I’ll be retracing when I’m homeward bound again.

Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I’ll return to you somehow.

In the quiet misty morning when the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing, I’ll be homeward bound again.

-Music and Lyrics by Marta Keen
Lyrics found at Brutaly Honest

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I don't have the words to express it any better than T. Clegg at GCS Distributing:



Until Then

Honor, Sacrfice, Duty

Still Here


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Time to upgrade...

The old computer is reaching the end of it's service life. Considering it's age (built by me in September of '98) and the fact that it's still doing a decent job of web service, basic media (downloading pictures from the camera and playing music) and handling all the Office apps I have been very pleased with it's performance.

To give an example of how much things have changed in 8 years: the DVD ROM drive that I installed originally cost right at $300 (just a DVD player). The HP CD burner (I think it was a 4x, 6x, 24x drive) cost about $125. The video card was a generic NVida TnT card with 32 mb of memory that cost about $100. The 12 gb hard drive cost over $300. I put in 128 MB of ram at a cost of $75. Asus mother board, P III 600 (just as they came out) overclocked to 700. Haven't had too many problems being able to do things until the last year or so. Due to age and cooling issues had to back the clock down to 660. It can do most of what I need, as long as I ask it to do them one at a time. On the web it's really not too bad.

My problem is this: go with a pre-built system from one of the big companies or build my own again? Cost wise, best as I can tell, the pre-built will be a little less expensive. I realize the trade off's will be in the area of the mother board with the on-board LAN/Sound cards on the pre-builts, probably cheaper power supply, ditto for the HD & the CD drives. Dell makes the XPS 410 with the new Core 2 processor that looks really promising. I've always been a fan of AlienWare computers too but they are more expensive and the extra cost comes from the same areas as a custom built. Besides, now they are just Dell's top tier line.

For usage: I don't do much with games, though on occasion there are those in the house who do. I do a tremendous amount of web related activity. My wife does quite a bit of streaming video and audio. I am a multi-tasking hound...right now at work have 7 browsers, 2 Excel spreadsheets, a mulitple IM client, email, weather monitor, and the occasional background antivirus/spyware scan all running...I don't think the home system could handle it. I don't need a top gun video card but would like to get a better one that will last a while...maybe something with 256 mb of memory. Because of the multi-tasking I think the Core 2 and at least a gig of RAM would definitely help (nothing makes me go insane with rage more than when the system is busy and nothing will come up). I wouldn't mind a decent sound card but a 5-1 will do fine for me. I would like to get into some photo/video/audio editing...just to have fun, nothing real serious. Hard drive isn't that big a deal now (I have 40 gb that is 3/4 full...just makes me keep things clean and tidy). I do realize that the 2 easiest upgrades later to make - and therefore the 2 best places to skimp now- are the RAM and HD size since these will traditionally continue to come down in price. I also realize one huge benefit of a system I build is I have control over how my HD is partitioned. I can't tell you how many times having all the setup and driver files on a separate partition has save my bacon.

I spent about $2000 on the system in '98, which included a 19" CRT monitor and 5-channel speakers. Did NOT include the OS. I had my own 'special' copy of the OS...but that's another story. I plan on upgrading monitor and speakers separately. I would like to keep the system cost down to about $1600. If that can include at least a 19" flat panel, great.

I've never used an AMD processor, though based on tests the Core 2 seems to be in the lead now. I would be very interested in a MAC except for the learning curve for the others in the house...I just want to stick with what they all know.

Based on the above usage: what say you, oh masters and guru's? what do you recommend: pre-built Dell/AlienWare/some other brand, store bought system or custom built? What will give me the best (not necessarily the most) bang for the buck?

I'm really looking to RAD, Jeremy, Allison, Laura ... any other opinions welcomed!


The Fall Of Rome

Rome fell September 4, 476AD.
  • It was overrun with illegal immigrants: Visigoths, Franks, Anglos,Saxons, Ostrogoths, Burgundians, Lombards, Jutes and Vandals, who at first assimilated and worked as servants, but then came so fast they did not learn the Latin Language or the Roman form of government.
  • Highly trained Roman Legions moving rapidly on their advanced road system, were strained fighting conflicts worldwide. Rome had a trade deficit, having outsourced most of its grain production to North Africa, and when Vandals captured that area, Rome did not have the resources to retaliate.
  • Attila the Hun was committing terrorist attacks. The city of Rome was on welfare with citizens being given free bread. One Roman commented: "Those who live at the expense of the public funds are more numerous than those who provide them." Tax collectors were "more terrible than the enemy."
  • Gladiators provided violent entertainment in the Coliseum. There was injustice in courts, exposure of unwanted infants, infidelity, immorality and perverted bathhouses. 5th-Century historian Salvian wrote: "O Roman people be ashamed...Let nobody think otherwise, the vices of our bad lives have alone conquered us."

Interesting history notes from American Minute


Friday, September 01, 2006

Don't shoot! I'm just the messenger...

Received this from my brother-in-law.

A lady wrote the best letter in the Editorials in ages. It explains things better than all the balderdash you hear on TV.

"Recently large demonstrations have taken place across the country protesting the fact that Congress is finally addressing the issue of illegal immigration. Certain people are angry that the US might protect its own borders, might make it harder to sneak into this country and, once here, to stay indefinitely. Let me see if I correctly understand the thinking behind these protests.

Let's say I break into your house. Let's say that when you discover me in your house, you insist that I leave. But I say, "I've made all the beds and washed the dishes and did the laundry and swept the floors; I've done all the things you don't like to do. I'm hard-working and honest (except for when I broke into your house)."

According to the protesters, not only must you let me stay, you must add me to your family's insurance plan and provide other benefits to me and to my family (my husband will do your yard work because he too is hard-working and honest, except for that breaking in part). If you try to call the police or force me out, I will call my friends who will picket your house carrying signs that proclaim my right to be there.

It's only fair, after all, because you have a nicer house than I do, and I'm just trying to better myself. I'm hard-working and honest. um, except for well, you know.

And what a deal it is for me!! I live in your house, contributing only a fraction of the cost of my keep, and there is nothing you can do about it without being accused of selfishness, prejudice and being anti-housebreaker.

Oh yeah, and I want you to learn my language so you can communicate with me. Why can't people see how ridiculous this is?"

Again: don't shoot the messenger. I just thought this was an interesting parable that helps us look at the immigration issue from a different, yet accurate, point of view. Perhaps this isn't such an issue in your world but, let me tell ya', it's a hot topic here!

Any comments or opinions?