Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thanks, Joe!

Joe Allen saved me money and high blood-pressure last night, putting in a phone call to walk me through the process of fixing that audio bug after putting in a full day working for a client who, I can only assume, was probably actually paying him money. On New Year's Eve, that's pretty good service.

Thanks, Joe!

(I think it turned out in the end that I didn't have all of the old audio drivers gone--there was one I hadn't found, maybe from the old motherboard. Whatever it was, the drivers installed and the sound works, so I can listen to the Gun Nuts over on my sidebard again.)

Ninjas and Topless Models? Tune In and Find Out.

Set Your DVR to Awesome.

Apparently, I'm going to be on TV tonight. Check out the Outdoor Channel to see the footage Michael Bane and Downrange TV shot at Blackwater with the bloggers (and me.)

Were there really ninjas in the trees?
Spies doing awkward judo behind every closed door?
Topless gun-calendar models wandering around?
Shirtless, sweaty SEALs rappelling down from shoot towers to bring Tam magazines?

If you don't tune in, you'll always wonder. Personally, I don't have cable TV, so I won't be watching. Luckily, Para was nice enough to send a DVD with our footage. You can also see all the segments (well, I think it's all of them) at the Downrange.TV link. So, in conclusion, I'm not going to watch it, but you totally should, because that in no way implies any value judgment of the show. I'm just too lazy to call a TV company. I have three rabbit-ear, fuzzy channels, and if I'm being honest, there's a good possibility I'll have zero channels in February because I just keep putting off calling.
On the other hand, I have a LOT of books and a high-speed internet connection.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The New Motherboard Has Not Solved My Problem

UPDATE 2: Googling the error code actually may have helped. I found this post on the Wisetechie Blog where the author had exactly the same problem. He was trying to install the same drivers I am, and it kept aborting, and he got the same error message. It turned out that the driver install checked for later versions. When it sees XP Service Pack 3, it thinks there's a newer version of itself already installed and aborts without giving the user the choice of continuing to install the patch. The problem is that SP3 does not contain an updated patch, so you're stuck. I'm going to try his solution as soon as I can figure out how to do it--he changed some registry value so that the installation program wouldn't see SP3. I was thinking of doing a System Restore back to before SP3 was released, then going and getting SP3 again once the audio driver installation is done.

UPDATE: OK, so I checked the BIOS/CMOS settings, and I have the onboard audio enabled. I unplugged the front panel leads just in case (found a forum post where that helped someone for some reason.) I then went to the FoxConn website and downloaded their updated audio driver--it's old enough that I think it's probably the same as the one on disk, but it was worth a shot. Same as the one on the disk, it goes through most of the installation and then gives me this error message. I have no idea what this means. I'm going to go Google "installation error message 0xE000027" (I'm assuming that a "0" is a zero.)

The good news is that the new mobo has not caused me any serious problems so far, and it appears to be allowing me to use things I couldn't before. For instance, both memory slots are functioning, so I have 2GB of RAM instead of 1.

The bad news is that I missed the Gun Nuts Radio Show tonight . . . again . . . because I still have no sound. I don't understand it. I just checked the System tab on the control panel, and under "Sounds and Audio Devices" it just says "No Audio Device." What gives? The thing's got to have some kind of audio installed. It's killing me.

I've got something I'm going to try, and then I'm fresh out of ideas. Anybody else got any?

Burris-for-Senate Update

Well, I guess I haven't been paying attention. I'm hearing now that Roland Burris was "the only politician actively lobbying for the vacated seat even after Blagojevich was arrested." I suppose Blago is just giving him what he wants, huh? Still seems like it'll end up being a gift of rope as far as I can see. The Democrats in the Senate cannot seat this guy now no matter what happens, and they know it. They've already committed, in public, to keeping Burris out.

A friend of a friend was on the radio a little while ago. He's known Burris for a long time, apparently (I shouldn't be surprised; this guy seems to know everybody) and he was trying to explain what Burris might be thinking here . . . . but he was struggling. Burris was semi-retired from public politics for awhile, and he was what passes for highly respected in Illinois. I had no use for him, but then again he and I disagree on some basic political principles. For one thing, I think that if you're going to convince--or compel--people to give up their guns, you should give up your own first. Set an example and all that.

(Hat Tip to Codrea at the War On Guns)

Wow--Why Does Rod Blagojevich Hate Roland Burris?

Roland Burris, for those of you from other states, is a Blagojevich supporter and advisor who's been with Blago for awhile, but has been largely out of the public eye for years now. He was the Attorney General here for awhile. And now, according to the Chicago Tribune, he's about to be appointed to Lord Obama's senate seat.

I can't quite suss this out. Do they think that because Burris was "never seriously considered" for the seat before, that means there are no incriminating discussions about him on tape--and that somehow means he can still be seated as a Senator? Surely not? I've been wondering if Blagojevich would appoint someone as a final kick in the jewels on the way out the door, but I don't see that here. I haven't heard of any fri
ction between Blago and Burris. I don't get it, but I think it's clear that anybody Blagojevich appoints is out of the running, period, whether there's a special election in our future or not. He'll have Blagojevich stink all over him.

In other news, Ed Genson, Blagojevich's lawyer, continues his campaign to piss off everyone in Springfield. I still maintain that this is part of a well-defined plan between Genson and Blagojevich. Genson handled the R. Kelly case and the Conrad Black trial, so he's not new to working with the press or managing public opinion. I'm of the opinion that he and Blago have agreed that there's nothing to be gained from trying to suck up the public at this point, and therefore it's time to make the public scream for Blago's head even louder in order to increase the value of the only card Blago still holds--the resignation-from-office ace in the hole. Blago sees his resignation and slinking away to be quiet as a bleepin' valuable thing, a thing you don't just give away for bleepin' nothing. He needs Illinois politicians to put pressure on Fitzgerald to offer him something in return for resigning, and in order to get that to happen, he needs a public clamor for his head.

Yesterday Genson told reporters that he doesn't like staying in the Executive Mansion--for free--because it's drafty, the bed's cheap, and the Lincoln Bedroom is too small anyway. He was "insulted" that he was offered such lousy--free--accommodations. But it's not just the Lincoln Bedroom or the Executive Mansion that don't measure up--he had to mention that he doesn't like Springfield, as well. If someone can tell me another good reason why this creepy vision of Michael Moore's future would talk this way to the press as he's supposedly trying to save Blagojevich's career--and why Blago would let him talk this way without firing him immediately--I'd be glad to hear it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Tout Le Monde . . . . A Tous Mes Amis . . . .

I have two DVD's and one CD of backup compiled, so tonight is the night I pull everything out of my desktop and replace the motherboard. I'm hoping this will let me use minor features like sound . . . and video cards . . . . and onboard ethernet . . . . you know, the little things. There is also, of course, the possibility that I'll just screw everything up. I won't be terribly surprised if I hook everything back up and the operating system rebels at finding itself dealing with a different motherboard, though the processor will be the same. Luckily, I haven't been using this desktop long, so I don't have a lot of data other than family photos and my emails.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Like I Don't Even Know You Anymore

Wait, what?
"And that's when I realized: I'm not here to convince him. It's okay for someone to be wrong on the internet."

Seriously, what happened to Tam?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Blagojevich III: Accidental Stupidity or Carefully Planned Stupidity?

Here's a thought that's worth exactly what you're paying for it:

A co-worker asked me today why Rod Blagojevich (D-Father-In-Law) would have had his defense attorney stay in the Governor's Mansion in Springfield, IL. It's a fair question, because at first glance, it looks like a pointless and stupid thing to do. Blago has long been the butt of jokes all over the state because he refused to move to Springfield when he was elected Governor. Springfield is the capital of Illinois, and the Governor's Mansion is a beautiful house on some beautiful land, but Rod was determined that his family would live in Chicago, not some backwater provincial capital where he could walk a couple of blocks and be in a neighborhood where poor people live in small houses. People here the Springfield area, of course, have a special hatred for him, and a lot of people keep a sort of mental tab running on the bill taxpayers are footing for him to fly to Springfield and back on a private state-owned airplane every time he wants to put in an appearance at the capitol.

The latest outrage came when people found out that although Blago is still not staying in the Governor's Mansion, Ed Genson has been staying there while he's in Springfield for Blagojevich's impeachment hearings. Giving the defense lawyer free room and board in the people's mansion has not been a popular move. The guy has more money than anybody in Springfield who isn't under indictment, and the best hotels in Springfield would be cheap to him. Besides, even if Blago is too stupid to know what the reaction would be, surely Genson had to know that people would be upset at this. So why do it?

Well, it's always possible that they just did something stupid and blind. That's how Blago got into this mess, and from the taped conversations we've all heard now, it does seem likely that we've overestimated his ability to think through the consequences of his actions. But what if we assume that there's some logical plan? What logical reason comes to mind? Here's the only thing I've come up with: Rod Blagojevich is looking for ways to piss people off.

Why do that? Because he has just about zero leverage. He can't do anything with his power as Governor, because the Legislature will undo it. He can't appoint the new Senator because he won't be seated. He's got no allies left; the power brokers never liked him that much before, and now it's poison to be seen not spitting on him. He has one card, and only one card, left to play: he can hang on, refuse to leave, and grind Illinois government to a complete halt. He made it clear today that he's planning to do exactly that; "I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until my dying breath," he said; it was poetry worthy of Whitesnake. Why hang on? Because the only thing he has left to trade for anything of value is his resignation. The only thing of value he can promise in return for what he wants (presumably leniency of some kind) is to go away without doing further damage. And the more upset and wild-eyed the public gets, the more value that card has, because there could eventually be political consequences for the people the public expects to remove Blagojevich if they can't get it done. If the public hates Blagojevich more and more, and if he can hang on and not get removed by impeachment in a timely manner, he can then offer his enemies his resignation in return for favors he wants. Under this wild-eyed conspiracy theory, it's hard to tell which insults are deliberately cultivated for the purpose of building this tension and which are the result of a thug with more hair than brains thrashing around without thinking much. But some things might make more sense. For instance:
  • Why else put Genson up in the Governor's Mansion, the one place in Springfield guaranteed to infuriate the citizenry even more?
  • Why else would Genson be making a special effort to mock belittle the legislators on the impeachment panel?
Now, again, I realize that these things may just be the byproducts of arrogance and stupidity. But I can't help but wonder whether there's a plan.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Don't Think Your Car's Supposed to Sound Like That

Loyal readers will recall that I recently purchased a used 1994 Volvo 850 Turbo. Disloyal readers may rest assured that you will be ferreted out and exposed to the light of day . . . . but I digress. I consider my 850 sort of my homage to the greatest hot rod in the galaxy, the ultimate sleeper. I refer, of course, to the Millennium Falcon.The Turbo is like the Falcon in many ways:
  • Silver in color, with some bare metal showing, and more than a few character marks from years of service.
  • Boxy, almost ungainly appearance which nevertheless manages to convey a no-frills utilitarian handsomeness.
  • Faster than she looks, boy.
  • Tends not to attract a lot of attention; ideal for avoiding Imperial entanglements.
  • Passengers ride in style . . . . worn, slightly scruffy style, but style nonetheless.
  • The pilot is guaranteed a good time; everyone else should strap in.
  • Something is probably breaking at any given moment, but that's OK.
On that last note, the timing belt is coming due soon, and I'm going to have to get it done. Gotta clean out the garage first; I got away with the driveway repairs today, but I think that was the last time until spring.

Today? Oh, yeah, today. Today I replaced the rear brake pads, rotors, and emergency brake shoes. Why? Because of this:
It looks a little like beautiful planetary rings in this picture, but it's just your average brake rotor. You can see the rusty hub on the left, and on the right, the rings where the brake pad made contact. If you're familiar with the way brakes work, you know that the pads are squeezed against the rotor by the calipers when you depress the brake pedal. The pads squeeze the rotor and slow down its rotation, and since it's locked on the wheel hub, that slows the wheel and stops the car. But normally these rings are sort of polished and glossy. This set seems to be rough and grooved, as if something had torn and gouged at the rotor. Do you think maybe that's why my car has sounded like it was coming apart at the seams for the last two weeks? Signs point to yes!
Here you can see the pads from the left rear rotor. The inside pad, on the left, still has a couple of millimeters of material left. The outside pad, on the right, is bare metal. Ouch.

The photo at the right shows the relative thickness a little better. I probably should have put one next to a new pad to show the difference, but what the heck. Back when this pad was just squealing a little, I thought I had a thin pad and an indicator spring was squealing. I was surprised to learn that Volvos don't usually have the indicators (thin pieces of metal bent so that their tips contact the rotor at a right angle. When the pads are at a useful thickness, they don't touch the rotor. When the pads wear down enough for them to touch the rotor, they emit a shriek you can hear for a block, which gets steadily worse as the pad gets thinner. Elegant little bits of engineering--which makes it weirder that Volvo doesn't use them.) Anyway, I was told that Volvos will almost always squeal with any aftermarket pads, even high-performance, high-dollar pieces. Since the Jurid pads Volvo uses are pretty cheap, I went ahead and got those. I did buy my rotors at NAPA, for two reasons. First, my local NAPA has never let me down. Second, when I ordered the various pads, shoes and spring parts, I was hoping to park the car and avoid damaging the rotor any further so it could be turned. That didn't work out, and I needed the rotors on short notice.

It also turns out that the Volvo 850 parking brake is a drum brake inside each of the rear brake rotors. I've never heard of an emergency brake designed that way, but I guess it works. The Haynes manual gave the procedure for checking the parking brake shoes, but noted "the shoes should rarely wear unless the e-brake has been used habitually to stop the car." Members at knew better; "Get the e-brake parts, you'll need them" they said. I'm glad I did! Here's what the shoes looked like when I removed the disc hub, next to the new shoes for comparison:
I don't really use the e-brake very often, but this did not inspire confidence. I'm not sure whether it was even a wear issue, or whether the shoe rusted so badly that the material sloughed off somehow. If I had to guess, I'd say someone drove with the e-brake engaged by accident. Maybe more than a little.

So I had a merry time today; I set up in the driveway, since it would have taken longer to clean out the "open" side of the garage than to do the brake work anyway, and jacked 'er on up. There were, predictably, a few oddities. For one thing, the flare nuts on Volvo brake lines are apparently somewhere between 12mm and 10mm, and also somewhere between 7/16 and 3/8, because I bought wrenches in both metric and SAE and none of them worked. 7/16 and 11mm, which appear to be virtually the same, fit over the nut but are just a little too loose to turn it. Luckily, the manual was right, and as long as you support the brake caliper with some wire, you don't actually need to remove the brake line. That made me nervous, though, because I could picture myself kinking the steel brake line and screwing myself royally.

Also odd was the note in the manual that, once the caliper mounting bolts are removed, "new bolts will be required for re-assembly." I pulled the bolts, examined them closely, and found them to be perfectly ordinary automotive flange bolts with either 13mm or 1/2" heads. They're pretty beefy, and they didn't seem to be worn or damaged at all. They had a little red Loc-Tite on the threads, but I just saw no reason to try to find replacements . . . and besides, even FCP Groton doesn't list them, much less places like NAPA, so I'm guessing I have to go to a Volvo dealer and beg if I want them. I'll ask on the forums, but I just don't see what could make that necessary. I put 'em back in "farmer tight" and I'll check on 'em in a little while to see how they're doing; they're easy to reach.

By the end of the day, it was getting dark and beginning to mist rain, and I was not feeling too sparkly as I wrestled with the calipers. The manual says to compress the pistons with a pair of pliers but not pry against the rotor. Well, I tried the pliers, and a big set of blue-handled plumber's pliers got me most of the way home, but at some point the outside piston was bottomed out and simply didn't want to go any further. I fought it and fought it and, in the end, removed the shim from the pad on that side to get it to fit between the piston and the rotor. I used brake-quiet grease on the backs of the pads, and I have to admit, they are silent and the stopping power is great. But I worry about that outside piston in that left caliper. I don't think it's coincidence that the pad on that side wore down to nothing so fast, and then I couldn't get the stupid thing to compress far enough to fit the new pad in. I think in the near future I'm going to end up needing to get a caliper kit and redo the caliper, cleaning and fixing that piston in the process. That's something I've never done before, but how hard can it be, really?

No need to answer that.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Critical Acclaim, At Long Last!

Do you ever wonder whether I'm really as brilliant as I seem? Well, don't take my word for it, ladies; ask Larry Correia, Merchant of Death:
"That’s the best necrophilia related political analogy I’ve heard this week."

See, kids? Work hard and stay in school and you can achieve anything. I'm pretty sure this means I'm now officially a winner.
Or something.

Blagojevich II: No, Seriously, Timing Is Everything

If you're not from Illinois, you might not have noticed the last giant political scandal to hit before "Blago" became a household name in households that can't pronounce "Blagojevich."
(That's bluh-GO-yeh-vitch, folks.)

The last big furball came up when the state's last Governor, George Ryan, began a campaign to get a favor from George W. Bush before the President leaves office. They're both Republicans, so that might not seem so odd, except that the favor Ryan needs is to have his sentence commuted. See, Ryan, in the grand tradition of Illinois Governors, is currently sitting in a prison cell. It turns out that if you force your workers to raise campaign funds or lose their jobs, and let them know that accepting bribes is a good way to raise the cash, they'll let some things slide. Things like giving commercial drivers' licenses to people who don't speak English, much less know how to drive trucks. Accidents could happen, and nice families could die in sickening ways on Illinois highways. When that happens, people will get made enough not to care that you're a powerful politician anymore.

Anyhoo, George Ryan was sentenced to 6.5 years and it looks like he's going to serve it. His wife appealed for mercy, and Dick Durbin (yes, the guy on the leadership team for the Senate Democrats) sent a letter to George Bush on Ryan's behalf. This puzzled people who don't understand Illinois "combine" politics. But to a Combine politician, it makes perfect sense. Ryan was powerful. He still has powerful friends. His lawyer, Jim Thompson, was the Governor of Illinois for a long time himself (but Big Jim won't be going to jail, thank you very much.) Ain't it grand to be connected? And if you're connected in the Combine, it doesn't matter which party you belong to. You join whichever party offers the best chance to advance in your geographic area; thus, if you're from Chicago, you're a Democrat, but if you believe exactly the same things in some of the Chicago suburbs, you're a Republican. If you're a guy who needs connections to make his millions, like our old friend Bill Cellini, then you do business with both parties and that's all there is to it.

Today, George Ryan offered, through his former-Governor lawyer Thompson, a "public apology" for his crimes. Well, technically, he apologized for doing "less than his best." But that's kind of like apologizing for running a racket out of the Secretary of State's office and getting people killed, only not, so let's not dwell on it. No, what gets me is the timing of it all. It's only been three days since the Governor of Illinois was arrested for a much more audacious version of the same kind of corruption that landed George Ryan in Cell Block 23 in the first place. Can you think of a worse time to offer this fake apology? He might be better off on the inside. He's probably in there among a bunch of accountants and embezzlers, after all, and people out here are starting to lose their tempers.

Ryan doesn't have much choice, though. He has to try now or never, because once Bush is out of office, he knows Obama's not going to do him any favors. Obama is beyond Illinois now and needs no favors in return, even if Ryan still had the power to do any. Even Bush is a long shot, because he's going to have to take a reputation hit if he pardons Ryan. Personally, I thought Ryan was facing long odds before the Blagojevich arrest. Now I don't see how anyone can get away with commuting his sentence.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blagojevich I: I'm Sorry, I Can't Pretend to Be Shocked

So Rod Blagojevich turned out to be an arrogant crook. Uh huh. I'm having a hard time working up the snark, to be honest. We've known this man was a Professional Son-In-Law for years, folks. The question was always how long it would take him to get caught, and now we don't even have that question to debate anymore. The only surprise for me was that Blagojevich surrendered a FOID card, which means he was a card-carrying Illinois gun owner. I'm not terribly surprised by that; the biggest gun-banners always seem to have their own gun collections, and Dick Mell, Blagojevich's Fairy-God-Father-In-Law, has a legendary collection in Chicago; he even had to bull through a change in Chicago's nightmare bramble of gun registration laws to make his collection legal. These are not people who play by the rules they set for the lower castes.

But I've been called out after a fashion, so here are the few thoughts I've mustered up:

First, let's talk about what this doesn't mean. No matter how breathless the national
conservative commentators get, this doesn't tell us much about Barack Obama, at least not yet. We already knew that Obama made his name in Chicago, so we already knew that he swam with sharks. The question was whether he joined in all the reindeer games in Chicago, a city where every public possession or job is for sale, or whether he held himself aloof and stayed above the fray. The mainstream media was convinced early on that The Lightworker must have avoiding Getting Any On Himself, but his detractors have never been so certain. I would be VERY surprised to find out that Obama participated in any of Blagojevich's schemes to sell his old senate seat, if only because Blagojevich comes up with political corruption schemes that Ethel would give Lucy a good solid BOP! just for mentioning. I give the guy credit for having a plan, but let's face it, it was almost more stupid than it was criminal, and that's going a ways. I doubt Obama would have had anything to do with it; if he did, he's not as smart I think he is.

As a matter of fact, I've heard more than one commentator wonder why Patrick Fitzgerald came out publicly so quickly, when he could have let the scheme progress until the crime had actually been committed. It seems, they argue, that he accepted a weaker case when all he had to do was wait a few more weeks--after waiting years. How to explain that? Well, I can think of a few explanations off the top of my head. Maybe even one that hasn't already been proven untrue.

How about this? Fitzgerald has taps on the Governor's phones--he has actually had FBI agents break into the Governor's Office--and he's been talking to sources. How long will it be before the Governor finds out somehow? Eventually somebody will open his big mouth--especially since Fitzgerald has had to brief feds, the IL Attorney General's office, and others. In Chicago, the chances that no one who wants a big favor from Blagojevich will find out about this are not very good. I think it's entirely possible that Fitzgerald either found out or suspected that his investigation had been "made" and would soon be revealed to Blagojevich. That would make an early wrap-up make a lot more sense, no? But it's not the only possibility.

Moving on, conspiracy theorists both left and right aside, it's unlikely that Blagojevich has contracted OBS (Obama Bus Syndrome.) More likely, he is what he seems to be--a boyishly-handsome puppet of his father-in-law who got way too big for his britches and decided that no one could deny him anything. The really shocking thing about all this, after all, is not that Blagojevich was corrupt. It's that he tried to pull off what may have been his most audacious act of corruption after Tony Rezko went to jail (and was widely assumed to be telling the Federales where all the bodies were buried--so to speak); after taking credit for the passage of "anti-corruption" legislation he'd fought like the last Nazi platoon in Berlin; after Patrick Fitzgerald made it clear that he was back in Chicago with a vengeance and looking for fresh meat; and after he made every state employee take an offensive little annual quiz to show that they weren't doing dirty deals with the peoples' money, while he commuted by state-owned airplane and drove the state into the ground.

So . . . now that we've covered What This Doesn't Mean and How Don Was Wrong, what does it mean? For the next few weeks, Illinois is going to be a little on the random side. We have no Governor, period. Blagojevich is incapable of governing the state; no one will work with him, his own staff is resigning, and his political allies are all calling for him to resign. But what many outside the state may not realize is that Blagojevich has been despised by most of the state legislature and most state workers for years. His effectiveness as a Governor was already limited to things he could ram through with the help of Emil Jones, the President of the Illinois Senate, who announced his planned retirement this year. Blagojevich doesn't have to step down. The legislature can impeach him, but he can drag that out for a long time. It doesn't make much sense for him to do that, since the Feds have him dead to rights in his criminal trial and he should be spending all his time and energy on that, but he's a stubborn and unpredictable man and it's possible that he'd stay in office out of spite. He can even still appoint someone to Obama's Senate seat, if he wants to tilt at that particular windmill. It would make a negative amount of sense, of course. Even if it were possible for him to force the appointment through, who would he find who would want to be appointed by him now? Even if the appointee was too stupid to turn down the "honor," there are still Constitutional officers in Illinois who have the power to block the appointment--and if, by some miracle, they all develop suicidal tendencies and let the appointment go through, the leadership in the U.S. Senate can still refuse to seat the appointee. Bottom line? Never, ever, ever gonna happen. Not even a little. It would be completely pointless for Blagojevich to try.
So why can't I shake the nagging feeling that he might do it anyway just to see what shakes out? Maybe I've lived here too long.

Here's the bottom line: there are people all over the state who are literally getting drunk in celebration tonight because Blagojevich got arrested. I know of one guy who was actually saving a vacation day to be used for just that purpose, and he told a mutual acquaintance that he and his friends were going to be off work today to tie one on. But all the jubilation misses a sobering point: Rod Blagojevich is the Governor we deserved. We elected this guy. Twice. He wrecked us, he despised us, he choked our economy to death and humped the cold, lifeless corpse while he laughed at us, and we asked him to stay for another term.
Do we really have any right to be surprised that this crook thought nobody could stop him? All we had to do was vote against him, or, if we couldn't find the fortitude to do that, vote against him the second time. We failed. We sowed failure. Now we reap failure.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Peter Hamm Thinks You're a Dummy

That's the only conclusion I can draw. Technically, he also thinks I'm a dummy . . . . and really, I suppose you'd have to say he thinks gun owners in general are gullible fools, rather than insulting any one of us individually . . . . but I'm annoyed, so I'm going with it.

“What could really change the gun issue in America is that the Supreme Court made it clear that there is no secret conspiracy to take away guns,” Hamm said. “I think it’s great progress. Now we can talk about gun control that works.”
So, when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against a city which had denied the right to keep and bear arms for 20-some years . . . it proved that no one is out to take away guns? I don't think I followed that one, Peter. Because Washington, D.C. fought for years to protect an unconstitutional ban on an entire class of firearms, and appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, we should conclude that they didn't really mean it and no one wants to ban guns?
They DID ban them. They spent millions of dollars and are looking at millions more to defend their decision to ban them.

While we're at it, Peter, we might as well discuss your own group. You folks supported Washington's side in Heller v. D.C., remember? That means you came out in favor of banning those guns, too. It wasn't exactly a secret, I'll grant you, but it's pretty clear that banning guns is not only acceptable to your bunch, but a goal. Just like Barack Obama, Dick Durbin and a bunch of others, you can't hide that just by saying "Of course we support the 2nd Amendment, but . . . ."

(The link goes to SayUncle. I don't know where he got the quote, but that's where I got it.)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Ascension of Obama Has Cured My Local Gun Show

. . . leaving medical men and other atheistic unbelievers baffled!

Dad and I took the boys (the big ones) to the local gun show today, and what do you suppose I walked out with? A gun? Ammunition? Surely you jest.
I scored three ammunition clips for my Schmidt
-Rubin K31. Put a smile on my face, too.

This picture is from CarTeach0's blog and comes from his excellent range report from when he bought two Schmidt-Rubins . . . took them shooting . . . and was instantly enveloped by the Swiss rifle cult. He is now . . . One Of Us.
Read the whole thing; there's a reason I stole his picture instead of bothering to do my own piece.

Dad, of course, picked up a really neat old 20-gauge side-by-side that dates from the early days of black powder cartridges, plus a wacky antique video game console that came with a light gun that seemed to be constructed from a real pellet gun, metal and all. Dad loves toy guns, and neither of us had ever seen one of these. But then, dad can find interesting things to buy just about anywhere. He picked up quite a few really neat pocketknives, too.

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by th
e gun show this time. I've gotten pretty jaded as the ratio of Beanie-Baby/scented candles/coin-and-jerky dealers to tables of gun stuff has risen sharply, but most tables today were all about guns and knives. There are a lot more knife makers and dealers nowadays, but since that conforms to my personal biases, I approve.

At this point, rather than rambling on at length, I offer you the mercy of a quick, bulleted rundown. Things that made me feel great about the gun show today:

  • Lots of tables with guns, lots of tables of knives. A few custom knife makers and even one or two gunsmiths. This is a welcome change from years past.
  • Not ONE table with stuffed animals.
  • The ISRA and SCRA both had staffed tables with plenty of literature, stickers, and all the rest.
  • "IGOLD 2008" stickers were everywhere, free for the taking on most exhibitors' tables, so most people were wearing one. Word is already spreading.
  • One exhibitor even had small stacks of "Unorganized Militia Propaganda Corps" patches in his case!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Freezing In the Dark . . . On Purpose.

Okay, I admit it. That last post was excessive and ill-advised. I think I wanted other people to have to read it, because I felt compelled to read it. If you think that was long, imagine the three-page thread complete with everyone else's cleverness thrown in.

Anyway, I will now do penance. At about three o'clock in the morning, I'll hop into dad's truck and we'll take off to go sit in trees and be laughed at by whitetail deer. It was snowing on my way home tonight, and although the ground is still too warm for snow to stick, it's supposed to be around 15 degrees Fahrenheit when I settle into my tree about an hour before sunrise. Then it's supposed to warm gradually all day until it reaches a balmy 30 degrees by mid afternoon. But I've got silk long johns to go under my cotton long johns, and gloves to go under my mittens. I've got thick boots with thick felt liners, and thick overalls with thick down filling. I've got an insulated blaze-orange baseball cap, a blaze-orange stocking cap, and a blaze-orange fleece balaclava. I've also got a pot of hot coffee ready to brew automatically at two in the morning so I can fill my new Thermos bottle (Esperanza bought the Thermos and set up the coffee maker. She put in "Tiramisu" flavored coffee because, she decided, "Ginger Bread" flavor was just not manly enough for deer hunting.)

We have two permits apiece, and on the land where we hunt, it's entirely possible that we'll fill all those tags before lunch tomorrow. On the one hand, in a bitter-cold year like this one, that's something of a relief sometimes--and I know it makes grandpa feel good, because the cold doesn't do anything good to his knees, nor really much of anything else. But honestly, we wouldn't be out there in the freezing cold if we didn't love it, so it's nice when I get to be out a little longer. I do not, however, pass up shots. We're strictly meat hunters, and we hunt more like a tribe than I think a lot of modern hunters do. If I take a small doe and dad takes a big buck and grandpa takes a tiny button buck, we'll all end up with about the amount of meat we want, since we all butcher the deer together at grandpa's house. No one of us worries too much about "waiting for the big one." We still take some pretty impressive trophies that way, actually, if only because Pike County, IL has an abundance of the biggest trophy whitetails in the world.

I wonder sometimes how long our permission can last. I'm the third generation of our family to hunt this land (for you USPSA types, it's only a few miles from PASA Park, where the USPSA Nationals used to be held) and we've always hunted for free. My grandpa was promised that he and his family could always hunt there for free. But when it comes to whitetails, Pike County farmers who let people hunt for free are passing up income. Grandpa was never much for bow hunting, and eventually we lost the chance to bow hunt where we hunt during shotgun season, because paying customers appeared. These people drive up from Mississippi and Alabama, spending thousands on gear, and spend weeks in tiny towns in Illinois. If they can find a farmer who will let them put up stands and have exclusive rights to hunt a given stand of timber, they'll pay thousands more to him. There aren't many farmers who can afford to pass up thousands of dollars of annual income from land that doesn't produce crops, especially when you consider that the hunters are removing animals that overrun the farmers' paying crops and make his roads more dangerous.

I'm not bitter about this--it's only fair that the man who owns the land decides who hunts there, and if some can pay for the privilege, it's only fair that he get paid. I just wonder whether my sons will have places to hunt when they're my age. Maybe I'm just feeling a little bittersweet about the whole thing since this is the first year we'll be out since Uncle Bob died. He wasn't able to come with us last year, and it was a bit of a wrench, but he was alive at home, and he was there with us at Thanksgiving saying prayers before the meal and passing out presents. Now he's really gone, and it's going to be different without him. I guess it's always different, though, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Without Comment

Recently, a gentleman posted a new thread at my favorite gun forum, The Firing Line. He was concerned because a friend, a police officer, had told him that he (the police officer) had received inside information that all rifle ammunition will soon be made with primers that "expire" 90 days after purchase, thus rendering the ammunition useless (and therefore preventing people from stocking up on ammunition and storing it for the long term.)

He was told that this particular rumor has been around since the Clinton Assault Weapon Ban era, and that it is so improbable as to be considered false. I make no comment on the gentleman's comments; I would simply like to reproduce them here, verbatim, without the responses of the other participants to separate them. Draw your own conclusions, please.

anyone heard of plans for date restricted ammo?

I was talking to a LEO friend of mine Saturday evening and he told me there were plans for producing ammo especially for rifles that had primers that were date controlled. They would only be good for 90 days after you bought them. The idea is to keep people from hoarding ammo (sounds like we should start doing just that while we can).

This guy is VERY knowledgable about guns. His dad owned a gun store and he's been a dedicated gun fan all of his life. I've never seen him give me bad info yet.

Anyone else heard anything like this?

OK so a guy that has never said anything wrong about any gun topic and has inside information from his LEO job suddenly decides he wants to talk total BS. Yeah right. You people who think you know what's possible and what isn't should take a look back at how many times such things have been proven wrong. The ammo would come with a "use by" date on it if this were implemented.

I didn't ask for your speculation about the veracity of the information my friend gave me. If he said it then it's true. I asked if you had heard about it. I should have guessed that people on the net couldn't resist telling someone else they were full of crap. Well guess what. You didn't convince me. You should really join the 21st century where new things are discovered every day. Something as minor as developing a powder that draws moisture from the air could easily make this technology happen. In case you haven't noticed (and obviously you haven't) chemistry has made monumental gains in the past two decades. Ever hear of nano technology? The idea that you can say for certain this is impossible is pure BS.

Then there's the possiblity that it just becomes illegal to own ammunition past a certain date X number of days after you buy it. Now there's an easy way to implement the same thing. It prevents hoarding by making honest citizens fear going to jail if they do. Yeah there's no way to make this idea work. Right.

Let's take a roll call here. How many of you have sons that do research for the Air Force? How many have sons that are getting paid a huge salary while also working on his doctorate in applied physics at a major university? How many have sons that only missed having the same setup at Harvard because the seats were very limited and they were filled by people with political pull?

You people live in a fairy land. You don't know anything of the kind of research going on in the world. Guess what? I do. I have an inside source.

Do you comprehend what it means to be doing defense department research? I didn't think so. Make all your moron jokes then think about who's closer to the world of science.

Do you know sort of things the military is doing now with technology? They have a helicopter that is completely camouflaged and so quiet it could be flying 20 feet away from you and you wouldn't hear it. Do you know they have a laser system that can read body signs on a battlefield (heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate) from a long distance away? My son was one of the lead engineers on that project. Do you know anything about remote viewing? Do you know the Russians can read your thoughts from space by analyzing the heat patterns radiating from your brain? It isn't ESP. It's science. The remote viewing thing is ESP though and it's a proven technology and has been for decades.

Do you know anything about quantum mechanics? I do. Just because your mind can't conceive of a way to do something it doesn't mean it's impossible. Do you know they said stealth technology was impossible until it was revealed to the public?

And you think modern science can't solve a simple problem like creating a powder that becomes inneffective over time? Oh yeah that's a real tough one.

I repeat. I know the sort of things the military is capable of doing because my son does it for them. It's called applied physics. My son's particular area of expertise is laser physics. He's had several articles published in science journals and he's received several awards for his work.

So don't pretend that you know more about modern science than I do because you don't. It took my son 6 years to get to the point where he's at working night and day and he has an IQ of 152. Mine is a mere 148. Mensa invited me to join their group but I didn't see the point. No I didn't do applied physics in college and my engineering major only lasted a semester. But that was only because I found something I liked better. I studied history because it covers everything in every field. And I do discuss technology with my son a lot. If you think you have a source like that you're going to have to prove it to me.

For example did it occur to any of you "this went around a long time ago" types that maybe there was something to it back then and it's just now becoming a finished product?

Are they doing it? I don't know. That's why I asked if anyone else had heard about it. Can they do it? You bet they can. If you think modern science can't find a way you just haven't been paying attention. I mentioned nano technology before. It's theoretically possible to drop a few molecule sized machines on a battlefield that are programmed to build weapons from the materials they find. Don't believe that either? Read this web page. If you're a Star Trek fan you might be interested in knowing that the technology for the borg was based on nanotechnology. A few atoms are injected into a living thing and they transform it into a combination of living tissue and metallic weapons. It's not as far fetched as it seems. Nano technology is the next great frontier of science and it's here now.

In short (yeah I know it's too late to call this short) you don't know what you're talking about when you say it's impossible. Your childist taunts just prove how out of touch you are.


The problem is that the Public-at-Large is wholly ignorant of a lot of things primarily because they do not read and are quite fearful of change.
At least there is one person on this board with a clue about modern technology. RFID is one of the most threatening technologies to come around in a very long time. I was actually quoted in a major magazine on issues related to RFID. If you don't get the Caspian newsletter from it would be a good idea to sign up. We should all be up on the progress of this big brother technology. If people think expiring ammo is bad they're sure to like having the amount of cash you have in your pocket being picked up by a machine in every store they go in or having their credit card balances checked so the store employees know whether to talk to them or kick them out. Having your underwear trigger ads directed at you isn't exactly a part of my ideal world. Having your house be used to spy on your isn't either.

People are so naive about technology it's amazing sometimes. They're lucky others are paying attention for them.

If you want the address for the Caspian newsletter I'll be glad to give it to you. Just send me a PM so we don't have to post an email address in an open forum.


As said before cops, physicists, and air force researchers have about as much knowledge and information as the manager of the local McD's.
That's funny. I didn't know McDonald's managers had to take 8 quarters of chemistry in college and also be required to make at least a B in every quarter. You're really showing complete ignorance here. I mean monumental, out of your skull stupid, ignorance. What the heck do you think a physicist is anyway? It's not a psychic which you seem to think you are because you obviously don't know this baloney from actual experience. That only leaves ESP and since you're so completely wrong that rules you out as having ESP anyway.

just because you found an outlandish conspiracy theory that you're gung-ho for, doesnt mean that people will stoop to your level of blind incomprehension of the world around them. your biblical quote is a perfect example.
Nothing quite like having a discussion with a bigot. I quoted the Bible as a source of wisdom. I never made any mention of it in any other respect. Yet you prononced my reference wrong because it came from the most read, most influential, most respected book in the history of mankind. You proclaimed that billions of people are fools and that you know more than all of them. Sounds like I could throw in arrogance in my description of you. I won't get into a religious discussion with you. It's off topic on this board. Just leave it to say "Mr. Nice Guy" describes you like calling Stalin "Mr. Fun". Nothing proves a person wrong faster than an exhibition of bigotry and you just spewed a big chunk of it.

They don't know everything, or anything in some cases.
Well golly I must be a complete idiot then! I guess I failed to mention his dad was a gun shop owner and he grew up loving guns from the word go and he spent years working for his dad and learning all sorts of things about guns. Wait a minute. I didn't forget to say that stuff. You just forgot to read it. Or you ignored it. Does ignoring things make you ignorant? In your case I'd have to wonder.

Saying that, do I believe what he said might be true. Probably not.
Ah an enlightened soul. I wouldn't have asked if anyone had heard of it if I didn't question it. I just said it was possible. I also said I had faith in what the LEO told me because I know his background and we've talked guns many times and he's never been wrong yet. That doesn't mean I think he's infallible. He's not. If I thought he was I wouldn't have come here to ask about it. And you're so right on the religion bashing thing. Nothing shuts down a discussion faster than bigotry. I didn't preach to anyone. I just quoted some scripture because it has a lot of truth to it. This thread proves that. I will say that I am a Christian but I will also say that has nothing to do with this discussion.

it's alright to use a biblical quote as an insult, but to refute the quote is an attack.
that's an awfully hypocritical and one sided view
You didn't refute anything. You just bashed religion. My quote was exactly appropriate and your posts prove it. You're a bigot pure and simple. Bigots are swine in my book any day of the week. And you said I couldn't insult you as much as you insulted me. Looks to me like I got your goat big time. Game, set and match to the Christian.

First, he was wrong to slam you using a biblical reference.
That's your opinion. I thought it was perfectly appropriate myself. I was attacked for mentioning a possible future problem. If that isn't a case of pearls before swine and having them turn again to rend me then I don't know what is. I could have quoted Hindu, Islam, Zen, Confucianism, Plato, Aristotle, Existentialism (with either the Kierkegaard, Sarte, Nietzsche, Heidegger, or Camus interpretations) or just about any other religion or creed you choose. Here let's pick one. You can pick another later and I'll get back to you.

I don't usually like to quote Confucius but here goes anyway, "Respectfulness, without the Rites, becomes laborious bustle; carefulness, without the Rites, become timidity; boldness, without the Rites, becomes insubordination; straightforwardness, without the Rites, becomes rudeness." The rites revolve around politeness and what situations a person should be submissive and when he can expect others to be submissive to him. A person seeking knowledge should expect a polite response instead of rude putdowns. Now do you feel better since I insulted Mr. Nice Guy (ha!) with Confucianism?

I'm guessing that with enough research and development it is. It doesn't seem that crazy to me, since I've had dissolving stitches
That was pretty much my opinion too and I've also had dissolving stitches. Mine were after my stage 4 cancer surgery where that fairy tale religion called Christianity caused me to keep living for 19 years longer than I should have. That statement has no bearing on your comments of course. It was just for the benefits of the bigots.

I don't doubt King doesn't beleive this a second, I'd just want to see some "verification" before I beleive it.
The main thing I've said about believing this is that I would take the word of my friend over the all too eager to jump on someone, net bashers who think they can dominate every conversation by quoting their PC beliefs. Oh they will argue night and day that they aren't PC but they are the epitome of PC. Let me ask you something. If I was so convinced that this was true wouldn't I have just reported it as true instead of asking about it? Take a look at the thread title. Isn't my question an indication that I'm not at all sure about this? Yet the all too common net loon has raised it's ugly head and begun to squawk it's ugly squawk.

How it savors the chance to belittle and put down. Can't you hear it? Moron! Moron! It squawks. Keep in mind that these intellectual giants have trouble spelling a word correctly but they are sages when it comes to knowing what each and every human should think. They often couldn't even graduate from high school but they know science, chemistry, physics, theology and ethics without even trying.

It must be great to be born believing you're the smartest egg in the carton despite being proven to be just the opposite in every endeavor you've ever attempted. How many have graduated from college? How many have won awards as the best in their field? How many get quoted in highly respected magazines? The world hasn't beat a path to their door but they would have you think their half baked excuse for knowledge surpasses everything under the sun and beyond.

Is it great to be so convinced that your thinking is so perfect that you couldn't possibly be wrong and all those who question it are idiots and morons? But what happens late at night when all those past failures come creeping back into your conscious mind? Are they too stiff necked to even recognize that the world has found them lacking in terms of their sage personnas? Do they have legions of followers or are they their only fans? It must hurt in those moments when the truth comes bursting through like a fat fist through the space under your facemask.

When they remember that they have failed every time when it came time to prove their intelligence. Is that what makes them lash out at the world so?

Are they aware of just how easy they are in the hands of a true master? Do they know they can't win in a battle of wits with a Godzilla class, flame breathing monster? They don't even recognize the name until it's too late. They have come face to face with Monster Zero, the king of Planet X! They are in a battle with King Ghidora himself and they didn't discover it until it was too late! Right in front of them stands the three headed, Hell flame breathing King Of Flames himself! And it's too late to run! Welcome to my domain "boys". Let's see how well you stand up when the fun really begins. Better flamers than you have run for cover spouting gibberish and crying for mercy. Unless your best friend is Godzilla you're in trouble now.
LOL! LOL! LOL! Enjoy the ride down. It's a one way ticket!

Nah! J/K! I like you morons!
Anyone with the power to implement such a thing as you are proposing would almost certainly have the power to curtail your ability to get ammo in much simpler and easier ways than this utter nonsense.
You're assuming you know how difficult it would be. That's pretty amazing unless you have ESP. And I just love how anything that people can't grasp gets labelled with such things as "utter nonsense". If only you knew how often that phrase has been followed by egg on the face. Your cheap shots won't change what I think and they certainly won't convince me of my own logical process having a problem. If they convince me of anything it's that too many people are narrow minded and high handed. Arrogance is what drives a comment like that. And arrogance never gained a thing for anyone. You do damage to your own case by claiming to know what you can't possibly know. People like you said man would never fly. They said the world was flat. They said we didn't go to the moon. Yet people still fall into the same traps. Give it up. It only makes you look like a jerk when you say something so insulting. You're locked in to a thought process and being rigid makes you slow. In this case it's slow witted that you are becoming and you embrace it with open arms. I'll never understand why people are so quick to grasp at something when they don't know the facts. Is it arrogance or just stupidity that makes you cling to the past and insult anyone else who doesn't? How many examples do you need of people looking like fools for making claims they can't back up? You're talking out of the wrong end when you claim to know something you can't know.

Have you even considered the introduction of organic compounds to a bullet? How hard could it be to make a bullet that is part organic that will break down over time. Are you aware of genetic engineering? It could be possible to introduce a microbe inside a bullet that would eat some part of the powder rendering it inert.

Stop being so small minded because it isn't a good thing. Science makes startling discoveries every day and those who say "impossible" invariably look like idiots all too often. You can't possibly know it is impossible. You can't know how expensive it would be. To assume that you do is just pathetic. It shows a complete lack of imagination and a disregard for history which shows that head in the sand types get proven wrong time after time. You're the one that needs couch time pal. You just jumped in the boat with those who said cars would never replace horses and that telephones were just toys. Snap out of it. You're making a mockery of yourself.

I produce historical documentaries for a living pal. What do you do? Wanna talk about the people who said schools shouldn't be centralized, going against the grain of the so called establishment thinking? If you've spent the last 5 years researching this issue you might be as well educated on the issue as I am. You think you're so smart. You're a full fledged member of the flat earth society and you don't even have the sense to know it.

Also hogdogs. You assume that is the primer that is the part that will be affected. It could be any one of the bullet parts from a melting bullet to chemically altered powder.

I'm done with you mental midgets. I have better things to do than to argue with people who assume the world will never change. Your kinds has been around since the first man balanced a load on a log and called it a wheel. Your kind was babbling on that the guy playing with fire for the first time was insane. If you argue with an idiot long enough it's hard to tell which is which. So I'm done giving life lessons to you mental pygmies. You couldn't carry my jock strap when it comes to knowledge of science and it's history. Just remember that most of the world thought the world was flat just like you think date limited ammunition isn't possible. Go ahead and act superior and be proud of your closed minded ignorance. It's always good to have some comic relief. And you guys have been a great source of it. You're half-baked block heads and you wouldn't know a scientific advance if it kicked you in the pants. Just remember they said a cartridge loading firearm was impossible. They said automatic fire would never work. They said frangible bullets would never work. They even said that gunpowder wasn't good for anything except fireworks. Welcome to the world of the head in the sand crowd. I hope you enjoy your ignorance. They say ignorance is bliss. Well you people should be about as blissful as it comes. Go ahead and be proud of being a moron. It suits you just fine.

Hey, it's me again. Did you read all that? Well, I said I would post it without comment, so . . . reluctantly . . . . I will. There's just something about it that brought me up short, and I thought I would share it with all of you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So, Does This Mean You DON'T Want a Spanking?

It looks like Winnetka, IL has joined three other Illinois towns (Morton Grove, Evanston, and Hale Demar's hometown, Wilmette) in repealing its ban on handguns. On the one hand, that's smart, and I applaud them.

On the other hand, I'm glad Chicago's out there holding the line. Even if Oak Park caves and Chicago is the last municipality with a gun ban in Illinois, I have faith that Chicago will stand strong, if only because Mayor Daley, like an enraged snapping turtle, will lock his jaws and refuse to let go until he is gutted and made into soup (this will be done metaphorically, of course, but it can feel pretty literal when it's a federal judge doing the gutting.) This is important; it means there will be a court decision, and when it's clear that Heller applies to cities outside the "federal enclave" of D.C., these laws will topple all across the country. The trouble for the Mayor Hizzoner Daley is that even though gun rights advocates across the country are openly rooting for him to continue on his current path and take his beating in court, he can't help himself. He just can't let go of that stick. We can say whatever we want. We may tip him off, but it isn't going to save him. He's determined to get his spanking no matter what.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yet Another Computer-Tech Bleg

I'm trying to do something nice, and it's not working out very well. Specifically, I need someone to help me figure out whether it's worth fixing the video output on an aging PC.

I built a new computer for our house awhile back (which was promptly struck by lightning, and is still getting replacement parts bit by bit) and was thus faced with What To Do with my old PC. I don't want the boys to have a computer we can't see, so there's not much point in giving the old one to them. But my sister expressed an interest in getting online and doing some digital photo work at home, and my old machine could handle that . . . sort of. Well enough to get her through until she knows what she wants in a new machine.

Here's the problem . . . . I scavenged a couple of PCI cards and a CD drive from the old machine for the new, then set it aside for quite awhile. A couple of days ago, I pulled it back out and hooked it up to the home network so I could switch all my old files to the new machine . . . . and the monitor was blank. No signal at all. Here's what I've tried:

  • Connected the monitor (a Dell LCD known to work) to the PCI video card output, then powered down and connected it to the motherboard output. Both failed; no signal.
  • Connected the Dell monitor to my new PC; good signal, video output shows up.
  • Connected another monitor (a Samsung LCD I use daily) to the old PC--no video output from the video card, the motherboard slot, or the motherboard slot with the video card removed.
  • On the advice of a friend who fixes computers, removed the little CR2032 battery for the BIOS and replaced it after a few minutes. That might have reset something, but it had no effect on the video output.
The thing is, this is a Compaq Presario 7478 (I think) and it's a weird model. The power supply is a smaller, proprietary size, and I believe the motherboard is the same way--so I can't just throw a new mobo into it. If there's a cheap, simple fix someone can share, I'd like to hear about it. But I don't want to put much more money into this thing, because I don't expect it to be more than a starter kit for her anyway. Help?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hey, Uncle John!

Don't be a stranger.

Oh, by the way, it sounds like grandma and grandpa are starting to talk about going back to Texas this year. Grandma got good news from the eye doctor this week.

Also, The Chair Is Against The Wall. The Chair Is Against The Wall.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations, President-Elect Obama . . .

. . . I'll be expecting my Unicorn by the end of January.

It looks like Barack Obama has won the states he had to win to finish John McCain's campaign. Specifically, I'm seeing reports that Ohio and Pennsylvania are being called for Obama. Quite frankly, I'm going to bed, so if there's any miraculous drama, I'll probably miss it.

Congratulations, President-Elect Obama. When 150 million of us are chewing your ass to shreds every day and the Iranians and the Israelis are both screaming at you, try to remember that you wanted this job. You weren't my choice, and I still don't approve of the way a lot of people acted during your campaign, but it looks like you won and that makes you my President.

Try to remember the purpose of your office, the powers of your office, and the limitations of your office. That last one has given Presidents trouble since the beginning.

Friday, October 31, 2008

We're #2!

Apparently this blog is the #2 Google result for "John Daly and Montgomery Gentry." Huh.

In case you missed it, I did review the Montgomery Gentry/Heidi Newfield show a few days ago. The verdict was "see it" but if possible, see it in a better crowd than I did. I can't help but think Heidi Newfield is going to be a big star headlining her own tour soon, and when it comes time to decide whether to swing in and do a show in Springfield, she's going to take a pass. She sounds better than she looks . . . . and she looks like this:

<-------- I'm just sayin'. Also, "Montgomery Gentry" commented on my review and thanked me for it, which I thought was a pretty nice gesture. I'm sure it was some guy at the record company, but hey, somebody read the damn thing and that's shocking enough without worrying who it was. It wasn't my mom, so I'm happy.

This is what Montgomery Gentry looked like a long time ago, when I had all my hair and thought "Montgomery Gentry" was one guy's name:

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Could Tell You, But She'd Have to Kill Me

". . . . and if you blog that, I will kill you. I'm not kidding. I will murder you."
"But I'm sitting right here, and it would be awesome!"
"No, it would be you signing your death warrant. I'm serious. Now I sort of want you to try it. Give me an excuse."
"I . . . . I don't want to anymore."
"That's right."
. . .
"But . . . . I can post everything after you said not to blog the first thing, right? I mean, that's kind of awesome, too."
"Well, yeah, obviously. Just don't make me do anything rash."

I love my wife and respect her privacy and she reads this blog, so I will be a man of my word.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Montgomery Gentry and Heidi Newfield: See It If You Can

I haven't been a huge Montgomery Gentry fan over the years, but my wife liked 'em pretty well, so when I found out they were going to be in Springfield the day after My Bride's birthday, I went online and got tickets. I figured a night off to go have some fun without anybody's kids would be a welcome birthday present, even if the show wasn't great, and last summer I had managed a hit by getting Reba McEntire tickets for our anniversary, so why mess with success? The McEntire show was good, not great, but she's Esperanza's favorite. That time, I bought tickets online and we ended up fairly high in the cheap seats. There were no bad seats in that little arena, but we did get yelled at for standing up. The crowd was . . . . seasoned. Lots of salt, not much pepper left.

This time, I bought tickets a few minutes after they went on sale and scored seats in the fifth row on the floor. The opening act was Heidi Newfield, whose name you might not recognize. I had no idea who she was; I thought she was a very new act, but she's got one single out that I really do like a lot, "Johnny and June." She sings about wanting "to love like Johnny and June" and manages a pretty moving love story about Johnny Cash and June (Carter) Cash.

It turns out that Heidi Newfield was the lead singer for Trick Pony until a couple of years ago, so if you liked "Pour Me" ("Poor me . . . poor me . . . pour me another shot of whiskey . . .") or "Heartache" you would have heard those last night. Her voice is amazing, and she can wail on a harmonica. She's also got this piano player, (Correction: Dave Lagrande, not "Mcgrand.") who was playing rockabilly piano solos and then jumping to get a saxophone strapped on so he could burn that up, too. It was a great show, but there was one problem that I couldn't get past: the crowd.

Springfield has a reputation for this kind of thing. They have a "convention center" and concert hall, and it seems like the only acts that can fill it are monster trucks and motocross. Musicians and sports teams get booked, fill the place half full, and struggle to get the crowd to look interested. After each act gets tired of this and takes their show elsewhere, everyone then complains that there's nothing to do in Springfield and it's a boring backwater. Newfield and her band were tearing it up last night. There wasn't much slow stuff, and the songs that sound a little pale on the radio (which is a lot of modern country music, to my ear) were rocking along with a lot of fire. The band was obviously having a great time playing, but they were looking at each other a lot. Newfield, for her part, was trying to get people to do something--anything--out in the crowd. We were clapping our hands over our heads, singing along (well, I shout along) and getting out of our seats, but we felt a little lonely at it. When Newfield belted out the first song, Esperanza's comment was "She's perfect. I hate her." When she played her last song, My Bride's verdict had changed: "I feel so sorry for her. I told her 'Thank you, you did a good job' in sign language. I bet she wonders what she did wrong."
I had to wonder myself. Did these people all have some sort of personal grudge against Heidi Newfield? Or maybe they were feuding against the idea of fun on a Friday night? Maybe they just needed to be more drunk. We both wondered what the Montgomery Gentry show would be like with this sleepy crowd of dispassionate observers.

We needn't have worried too much. Those guys started the show behind huge translucent curtains with their shadows projected about 15 feet tall. As "The Big Revival" began with bass thumping and an old-time preacher howling about brimstone and sin, you could see these giant shadows dance and watch one of them spinning something like a creepy scythe (that turned out to be Eddie Montgomery's microphone stand, which he carried all over the stage and spun, twirled and tossed in true Steven Tyler fashion--if Steven Tyler were a big bald guy in a cowboy hat.)
Reverend Jones, he struts and dances
while the guitar plays " Amazing Grace".
He testifies in tongues of fire
with tears of joy runnin' down his face.
He ain't sure and we ain't sure exactly what he said.
But praise the lord and pass me a copperhead.

That'll get the night started, all right. And yes, a lot of this music has a religious component to it. And yes, I'm an atheist. But I like to think I'm not the sumbitch kind of atheist everybody hates. You know that guy--he's the one who would turn up his nose at a wild rockabilly show because a lot of rockabilly music is about going to church. There's a reason nobody likes that guy. Don't be that guy.

We were on our feet the rest of the night, singing along, waving hands, and having a good old time. We're hoarse this morning, and my shoulders feel like I've been painting ceilings, but it was well worth it. Those guys have enough hits that they can play mostly radio singles all night, and people love it. More than that, they put on a fantastic show. There aren't a lot of effects--the curtains are about as wild as that gets--but the band is all over the stage. They've got one guitarist who looks like Carlos Santana and one who looks like a cross between a young Charles Bronson and Mark Wahlberg (but, hey, I'm not jealous of that good-looking guitar-playing bodybuilder . . . he's probably a jerk. Or something. Seriously, this guy looked like he was created in a lab in an attempt to breed a new master race of ubermensch, but somewhere along the way he discovered the power of rock n' roll. There may be a movie in there somewhere.) Anyway, those guys are all over the stage, too, so wherever you were in that front section, they spent a lot of time singing and playing directly at you, and made a lot of eye contact.

The end of the show was bizarre. Of course, they had to do the "encore" song-and-dance, where they yell "Goodnight!" and everyone runs off the stage. Will they be back? Are they really going to leave without doing "My Town?" Well, since the ticket says the show lasts from 7:30 to 11:00, and it's now 10:35 . . . . . I think they might come back out. On the other hand, the crowd was back to its former limpness. I wouldn't have blamed them too very much if they'd said to hell with Springfield and sent the roadies out to start tearing down the stage. There didn't seem to be much demand for the encore from what we could hear, but we tried to make some noise.
They did come out and play "My Town" and end with "Gone." But between those two, they called to the back and had John Daly come out with a guitar. What John Daly is doing on tour with Montgomery Gentry I don't claim to know, but they are sponsored by Jim Beam, so draw your own conclusions. Anyroad, Daly came out with Troy's white guitar and led the crowd in a rendition of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." I thought that was a good pick, because most people have only heard Bob Dylan and Axl Rose do it, so it's not like you're trying to fill Johnny Cash's shoes. I sing a lot of Willie Nelson for the same reason. If you can't handle a note, just take it down a little and let your voice waver a bit--people are used to that on Willie Nelson songs.

Daly was terrible at first; he was late with the chorus literally every time for about eight repetitions. That song is mostly chorus, so this wasn't sounding too good. Esperanza, a trained singer, was covering her ears. But his voice wasn't bad for rock n' roll, and he caught up with the chorus a little better in the second stanza. "He's winning me over!" I yelled in her ear. She grimaced at me. By the third stanza, he was right on and doing a better job than Axl Rose did on the studio version. He was singing it like Dylan, and Bo Garrett (Santana) was playing the guitar solos like Slash. It was a surprisingly good mix. I have to admit, I didn't even know the song had a fourth stanza, about mama putting his golf shoes in the ground because he can't make cuts anymore. Who knew that song was about golf?

Anyway, if you see this show in your town with a good crowd, you'll have the time of your life. If you see it with a limp crowd of blouse-wearing poodle-walkers, like we did, you still have the option of having a great time, but people may look at you a little funny as they sip their Diet Pepsi in their folding chairs. I kind of enjoy those looks, but your mileage may vary.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Overheard: Esperanza Birthday Edition

"Is the baby in bed?"
"Yeah. Should I even bring in the chocolate cake, or do you just want me to put it in the refrigerator?"
"Ohmigod. No more cake. The cake must stop."
"OK. It'll go in the fridge. Hey, you know what'll make you feel better?"
"No. What?"
"A hot shower . . . . and a backrub . . . ."
"I love you so much. NO. I just want to lie down."
"No problem, we can go lie down. Whatever works for you, baby."
"No, I'm going to bed. No one is to touch me or speak to me until morning."
(CRASH from the kitchen.)
"And you get to take care of those two."
"Okay . . . . but that's your birthday present."
"That'll do."

Happy Birthday, Esperanza!

You are the love of my life.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In Which Murphy Puts His Two Cents In . . . .

The acquisition of "Silvertip" (I'm still trying these out, so bear with me) didn't go very well yesterday. I called my insurance provider and switched the Camaro's coverage to the 850 ("Silverback"?) without any trouble.
"Heck," I thought to myself in a naive tone of voice, "this is easy. Now off to the DMV!"

Now, people love to be snarky about the DMV, and these people certainly weren't all that friendly, but it wasn't their fault that I couldn't register "Sterling." That happened because the seller and his wife are both named as owners on the title, but only he signed the sale box. The box with only his name turns out to be the address box. So the good news was that my trip to the DMV was very quick, and my issue was resolved. The bad news was the resolution: "Come back when you have the title signed." As I say, that wasn't their fault. On the other hand, they did seem to enjoy it more than I would consider appropriate.

The seller and his wife live over two hours away, and I can't make that drive this week, so I FedExed the title to him in a fairly secure manner. He says he'll have his wife sign it and send it back; I'm hoping to have it back by tomorrow or Thursday.

In other news, I have a Camaro tire thumping and making noise ever since I filled it with Fix-A-Flat; it's hardly noticeable at low or high speeds, but between about 50 and 65 miles per hour, it's enough to make me feel a little ill. So I took the car to a cheap tire place, where they very helpfully determined two problems:

1. My license plate sticker is expired; there's no sign of the new one we bought for September.

2. I never put the special locking-lug key socket back in the glove compartment, so they couldn't even remove the wheel.

So we've got one Ford Minivan that's working pretty well (since we paid through the nose to have the brakes redone on Saturday), one Volvo that runs great but has no license, one Camaro that runs but doesn't have a valid license sticker (If a cop runs my plates and they come back valid in the computer system, I hope that overrules the outdated sticker, because I'm really not sure what I did with that thing), and finally, the 1986 Chevy pickup sitting out back with a load of gravel in the bed. It's starting to get a little crowded around here again. But I got some repairs done on the Camaro last night, and once I get the tire situation sorted out I expect it to sell pretty quickly. There's no shortage of teenagers who want to look fast in something low and red.