21. January 2007 · Comments Off on Musings On A Winter Day · Categories: General Nonsense, My Head Hurts, Pajama Game, sarcasm

What with the day job (which lately has stretched into evenings and weekends) my blogging time has been nil. While I have a few topics in my head that are deserving of in-depth consideration, today I am inclined to touch on various and sundry observations.

I finally got Red Haired Girl’s Mac Mini to run Windows – a project done in starts and stops since last month. Having already invested a small bundle on the computer and various accessories, I could not bring myself to buy yet another Windows package in order for her to run the dozens of Windows games she has. I decided to try using a Windows XP Pro disk that came with a since decommissioned Gateway, however, Apple Boot Camp software requires a disk with SP2 already integrated. In the course of working around this, I discovered a handy little program called nLite which combines all of the required updates onto a single disk. Also of possible interest to Loyal Readers is that it allows you to go into the basic Windows installation disk and eliminate all the crap that you don’t need (Transylvanian keyboard support anyone?). This not only saves hard drive space but speeds up the boot process as well. Windows seems to be functioning, except that the Mac drivers for the Airport 802.11 connection don’t work while in Windows mode (probably a godsend). Sometime in the next thirty day grace period I will have to go through the BS of activating Windows. More on that later.

In addition to Radioparadise, a very cool Internet radio station suggested by Kevin Connors some time back, I was recently turned on to Pandora. This free site allows you to set up personalized radio stations by choosing artists or songs that you like. As similar material is played, the user is able to provide feedback that apparently fine-tunes the algorithm to improve automatic selections. The only downside is that there doesn’t seem to be any way of ripping the music to a file.

My day job has recently brought me back into frequent interface with the ops side of the house; I’ve spent the past few years in the relatively parochial world of patents. For the most part, my recent project has been a stimulating experience, with opportunities to work with some very bright and motivated people. However, there seems to be a certain genre of manager that I call Dilbert II, The New Generation. They can usually be identified by such phrases as “I’ve been working on a PowerPoint presentation all morning” (as a non sequitur opening statement in a meeting of at least a dozen people who could not care less), or “That’s an excellent question” (in response to an obvious question asked in frustration because another Dilbert II type has repeatedly ignored it). Dilbert II person usually then proceeds to ask (what he thinks is) a very good question which, more often than not, confirms to everyone present that he is completely lacking in any clue as to what the issues really are. As a footnote to this particular rant, Timmer’s recent post “What Is An Airman?” indicated that this is not a purely civilian phenomenon. I mean, an Airman’s creed of not pencil-whipping training reports?

The last rant reminds me of a question I have been meaning to ask. Does anyone remember a hilarious USAF training film on ejection seat development that was shown at least into the early seventies? All of the tests for each development phase were conducted with a different holiday theme, i.e., present were the Easter bunny, Santa, etc. In the first, the test “pilot” struts to the device with total and complete confidence – after which the test is a complete failure and he gets fairly well banged up. Subsequent tests, although showing improvement in the technology, are equally brutal on the pilot. Toward the end, the technicians have to drag him to the test stand, covered in bandages, smoking cigarettes, and, as I recall, swigging from a bottle of hootch. That film defined for me what it means to be an Airman, and if anyone has it I would love to buy a copy

A couple of recent news items caught my attention (and raised the hairs on the back of my neck). First was the unidentified stench that pervaded New York city and which was first thought to be a natural gas leak. Subsequent investigation ruled that possibility (and the general accusation that New Jersey stinks) out, but no cause was ever identified. Then there was the individual who was captured on an LA subway surveillance video (who knew they had subways in LA?) pouring six ounces of mercury onto the ground. He then apparently called 911 which led to the dispatch of a HazMat team – eight hours later. The authorities claimed that there was no indication that either incident was terror related. Maybe they don’t have hard evidence to that effect, but the former sounds like the LA response team performance was being probed, and the latter sounds like a dry run for a dirty bomb/poison gas/biological agent attack. Remember kids, we are not being paranoid if they really are out to get us.

I have decided to go back and read several of the Federalist Papers to remind me why it is important to pay attention to the ’08 campaign season. I’m with Timmer on this one; I really don’t want to “chat” with Hillary. And the notion of her executing Article II Section 2. constitutional powers positively makes my skin crawl.

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