Chattering Magpie Past Web Log
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March 2003
Mar 30 2003
Pushy pushy.
Just got back from a workshop in Eugene on Tai Ch'i Push Hands. We do something like it in kung fu, called ch'i sao, which means sticky hands. Push hands is a two person exercise in which the partners maintain contact, primarily through their hands, wrists and forearms. Naturally there are several levels, the simplest being to just maintain contact. As you progress through the levels you learn to recognize openings where you can take your partner off balance. Like Go, push hands is simple, but not easy.

Today's war rant: when you invade a country and that country's military forces uses deception and trickery to defend, it's not terrorism. It's guerrilla warfare. It's all part of the "psy-ops" on the public to misname an act by the enemy.

Mar 27 2003
I do not like this, George-I-Are,
I do not like your Iraq War.

Over and over I hear people who are in favor of the U.S. invasion of Iraq refer to the events of Sept 11 2001 as justification. I have news for you:


Doesn't anyone remember how we routed the Al-Qaeda and its Taliban supporters from Afghanistan as a direct response to 9-11? Kabul, we hardly knew ye.

We have to rely on a different justification for the Iraq invasion. There is no proven link between Al-Qaeda and the Iraq government or Saddam Hussein. This is just profiling on a global scale.

Mar 24 2003
War is a messy business.
Today's war blatherings.

Okay, I'm satisfied: the Iraqis are fighting invading coalition forces. Sneaky little beige devils, setting up ambushes, pretending to surrender.

My main point was I didn't want this to be a cakewalk. E says he'd rather it be a cakewalk - minimize losses of our troops. Good point. I just don't want America to look like the big bully that stomps all over any country that doesn't do what it wants. I know, I know, Saddam is evil incarnate and the Iraqis will welcome us with open arms. That's our propaganda. Iraqi officials are broadcasting a different story: America only wants war and to colonize Iraq, the people are united under Saddam, etc. etc. Consider this: we're hearing both sides' propaganda; Iraqis only hear Iraqi propagada.

I've gotten into arguments over how people behave when they hear only one side. No matter how self-evidently "right" and persuasive one side believes its cause to be, if people on the other side don't know about it, they can't respond to it. And they will believe, at least in part, what they are told by their leaders.

Mar 23 2003
I know this sounds really bad, but at this point I'm kinda rooting for the Iraqis. C'mon guys, show some spirit, show some pride, fight back. Don't roll like the French Army in 1940. We all know there's no way in hell the Iraqis can successfully defend against the combined forces of the U.S. military, but showing up in pink truck surrender? Can you be just a little less obvious?

Despite exhortations to the Iraqi Army to put some effort into defending their country, I really don't wish for more American and British combatants to be killed. At least, not more than die in helicopter crashes and friendly fire. That's irony I can live with.

It disturbs me more to learn of our soldiers being captured. The very idea of being imprisoned in a foreign country scares me. I don't trust other governments to follow the Geneva convention. I fear for what may be happening to our captured soldiers.

Anti-war protesting right now seems pointless and futile. I wasn't much in favor of going to war - pre-emptive and preventive wars set a bad precedent - but now that we're in, let's do the job, do it right, and get back home where we belong.

Those are my random war thoughts for the day.

Mar 21 2003
Junkware warrior.
Victory is mine ... I think. The past couple days I've been battling adware that keeps reinstalling itself. I know how it all started. I downloaded the Real Audio Real One Player. I didn't look carefully at the license agreement (no one does) and ended up with a hellish host of third party adware: endless pop up ads, unwanted utilities installing themselves on my computer, hijacked 404 pages.

I went here and followed the instructions to remove adware. I downloaded this and ran it, but it didn't quite get everything. Then I went to this other place and got even more detailed instructions. I went deep into the registry, stepping lightly through an operating system minefield, to delete the adware programs that installed themselves every time I restarted. As a desperate last resort I went to the home page of the 404 page hijacker Thankfully, they had a comprehensive instruction set of how to remove their software. It wasn't even buried 18 levels deep on the web site. It did involve editing with the DOS prompt, but it worked!

I think I'm finally junkware-free. Now all I have to put up with is the usual pop ups for Amazing X-10 Spy Camera and Find High School Classmates.

Mar 19 2003
Spare us the cutter.
Just got back from my checkup with the orthopedist. I got an A-plus! My ligaments are healing nicely, reattaching on their own. Surgery is not necessary. I still get physical therapy then another checkup in four weeks. This is best case scenario, the optimal outcome.

Mar 18 2003
They liked me, they really liked me.
The highlight of my past couple weeks came to its culmination last night when I gave a presentation on Information Architecture: Creating Order out of Chaos to an online training special interest group. It went pretty well; they were a lively group, asking lots of questions. I hadn't actually worked out the timing, so we almost had no time for the content grouping/site mapping activity at the end. Still, everyone seemed to enjoy it and a number of people picked up my business card.

My computer and I have been having some adventures lately. It started when I replace the black ink cartridge in my printer - which then decides to lose its connection to the computer. "Trouble communicating with the printer," announces a no-nonsense masculine voice. I solve that little problem by messing around with startup items, so fewer items are loaded. Apparently that makes the printer happy.

Sunday night I started, but interrupted (because I got tired of waiting) a download of John Lennon's Happy Xmas because I wanted to know whether it's the same tune as Stewball (it is). Be very chary of downloading mp3s. I managed to infect my computer with some Gator adware/spyware. Next thing I knew, my browser was hijacked by something called orbittraveler and I had popups all over the place. I had to uninstall programs, and turn off startup items, delete folders from regedit (risky!), clear my cache, delete cookies, clear out history. I think I got it all. Here's an instruction set from Tweak 3D, which I found useful.

Not to mention, the weird start buttons are back with a vengeance.

Mar 15 2003
The Aww factor.
Does the state of the world, the economy, your social life got you down? Need a quick no-strings pick-me-up? Vist The Puppy Channel. The Puppy Channel is the brainchild of a retired PR man. It's all puppies, all the time. In case your cable provider doesn't offer The Puppy Channel, you can watch videos on the web site. The perfect antidote for this whacked out crazy world we live in. I heard about this on This American Life radio program.

This past week I've been working on a presentation I'm giving Monday, an overview of Information Architecture. I've got an hour to fill and am vacillating between confidence and horror. Mostly my right forefinger is sore from clicking the mouse.

Mar 11 2003
The product of a prime and the square of a prime.
Happy birthday to E
Happy birthday to E
Happy birthday dear E
Happy birthday to E

Mar 10 2003
The way to a man's heart.
Last night I roasted a nice chicken. I do a pretty good roasted chicken, if I say so myself. Steamed some artichokes and brussel sprouts (not together), boiled up a package of gnocchi and made gravy. Mmmm gravy. I tried something a little crazy. I added a bit of sugar to the gravy as I was cooking it. Not enough to make it sweet, but it added body and rounded out the flavor. I'm quite pleased with the results. Topped off the meal with an apple crisp. Too bad E wasn't home to enjoy the dinner: he skipped out with his best friend to see Too Slim and the Tail Draggers.

E's advice for cooking artichokes: turn them upside down and test the heart/stem for doneness. I had them right side up in the steamer. I kept pulling out leaves, but they were just so tough, I kept cooking the 'chokes until they were past the point of no return and the heart turned to mush. Alas.

Mar 8 2003
You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to.
Y'all, you all, or you guys? Creek or crik? Crawdad, crayfish, or mudbug? Ahnt or Ant (Aunt)? Hoagie, grinder, sub or po'boy? Kitty corner or catty wampus? Social science is fun. You can participate in the Harvard University Dialect Survey. Answer a series of questions about how you pronounce words, then look at maps of the results. It's all pretty nifty.

Not so many blog updates lately. I've been working. Making money. Bringing home the bacon. Pulling down the bucks. Not a full time job yet, but the freelance work has been coming in. I'm happy about it. Even more so when the checks come in.

Mar 4 2003
Brace yourself.
Knee braceDoesn't that look downright bionic? You'd think I'd be able to jump over tall buildings with this contraption strapped to my leg. Instead I'm still taking walking lessons. Bend the knee, push off with the big toe, don't walk like Festus.

Happily I've been working the last few days on a freelance basis. Pretty straightforward editing and formatting. Even better, I got my check for the last big project. Oh boy, now I can pay my doctor bills. Yippee! I'm really looking forward to splurging on a Pantone color selector booklet. The tough part is figuring out which one to get.

Mar 1 2003
Spring? What happened to winter?
I can hardly believe how gorgeous it is outside. Maybe my knee is flexible enough to do a little weeding, drag out the gernaniums (gerania?) to the front porch, inter my paperwhites and a couple hyacinth bulbs. Beats working on the 'puter all day.