Friday, December 31, 2004

American Warmonger's 2005 Predictions

Well, here we are, at the end of another year. 2004 has come to a close and 2005 is just beginning. We've seen many great achievements; Lance Armstrong won his 6th Tour De France, the Ansari X-prize was captured, Yassir Arafat's death is heralded as an opportunity for peace, Martha Stewart went to jail and Zell Miller challenged someone to a duel. All in all, this was a pretty good year. I'm sure not everyone will agree with me, but this year was a pretty good one as years go. It gets me excited to see what next year has in store.

So withought further babbling...or with further babbling, as the case may be, here are my predictions for the year 2005:

Let's start with the big one, Bush and Rumsfeld will be inticted on charges stemming from what the International Federation of Red Cross, Red Crescent has considered crimes against humanity. The case will be besmirched in controversy and will finally be thrown out when the ICRC (The International Committee of the Red Cross) informs the public that they have conducted their own investigations of Gitmo and found that the IFRC's findings were tainted by someone angered by the Bush administration. They will also go on to note that the ICRC and the IFRC are two completely separate agencies and many countries have refused payment to the IFRC for unjust practices.

Early in 2005, the UN sponsored investigation of the Oil-for-Food scandal will return and announce that there was isolated events in which between five and ten persons will be named as violators. None of these names will be of any stature in the UN and Kofi Anan will be lauded as a man of integrity. His son will not even be mentioned.

The American sponsored investigation will convene late in the year and will cover a sweeping range of dignitaries. I'm guessing from 30 to 50 in all. They will come bearing irrefutable proof that will, of course, be refuted by the UN investigators and Kofi Annan himself. Remarkably, it will be the UN investigators that will be believed by the international community and Kofi will retain his job without incident. (I'll be screaming at the world about this but no media agancy will recognize the cover-up, except FOXNews.)
UN double standard

Yassir Arafat's appointed replacement, Mahmud Abbas, Will be elected as the Palestinian leader. The Hamas and other extremist groups will denounce his election as a farce and will fail in an assasination attempt. He will attempt to make peace with Israel and will be very close to sucess when a series of suicide bombers disrupt these talks. The world will be completely stunned when Abbas asks for Israeli military support in rooting out and destroying these terrorists. Eventually, Abbas will be assasinated by the Hamas or Hizbollah, but not in 2005.

Elections in Iraq go off smoothly on Jan 30th and are quickly denounced by the terrorists. Terrorism actually increases for a short period afterwards, but is put to an end by the governing party. The ensuing vigilance against terrorism makes the U.S. resolve look like Mr. Rogers...the cute and cuddly one, not the Marine with a mess of confirmed kills and tattoos up and down his arms. Coincidentally, the terrorism all but stops. It goes so far as to include my next prediction:

Osama will still not captured. Zarqawi will be captured around mid-year. He will not make it to trial. His naked, charred body will be drug through the streets like the Saddam statue and will eventually be hung from a bridge, quite possibly the same one in Fallujah the three Americans were hung from.

Evidence that Syria is housing tons of ammunition for Iraq but there will be no explanation as to how the WMD got across the border or who brought them there. Speculations will rise that the weapons are a hoax but will be proven wrong when a warehouse explodes, killing dozens of Syrians.

This will then lend rise to the belief that the guy from the state department that claimed the Russians moved it was telling the truth. It will turn into a more philosophical political question as to whether certain secrets should be kept that way...Do you like how I just redirected the topic from Russians moving stuff to whether we should hide secrets? Keep an eye out. It will be about as obvious when the government does it.

Economy will continue to rise slowly, dipping in all the traditional places. Many analysts will either point to the potentiality for either a recession or an imaginary inflation as right around the corner. However, the numbers will not lie and we will be in the black.

Doom and Gloomists will point to the new Social Security bill as the cause of a temporary rise in the stock market, but will be shown as overly pessimistic when the college professors or macroeconomics have all come back with the same fact: the amount plugged into the stock market will not be enough to cause the doom and gloomers' bubble and burst. They will show it as a small but permanent increase.

Once the elections in Iraq are finilized, the price for a barrel of oil will drop down to about 35$ a barrel. Strangely, gas prices will only drop about .15¢. This will lead way for investigation as to why the prices of gas did not fall further. When it is learned that the oil companies are not using their resources efficiently and skimming off the top, one of America's new interests will be to hold oil companies accountable for every penny they spend.

It will also lead the way for auto manufacturers producing hybrid vehicles. The waiting list for fuel efficient vehicles will gain a 3-6 month backlog. They will literally not be able to turn them out fast enough to keep up with demand. Because of this, the Toyota Prius will be named the car of the year for the second year in a row.

In movies, "The Passion" will not win any Oscars, but all viewers' choice awards will place it within the top three. Again, no one will notice because "Jews and Scientologists own the media". (No offense meant JulieB.) Christians will call it a tragic event, but they will be dismissed publicly because they live in "Jesusland".

In sports, Lance armstrong will win his seventh Tour De France. As with every year he performs, he'll be accused of doping and proven clean once again. The french will grumble a bit until he announces that he'll be changing his citizenship to French. Coincidentally, all allegations about doping will be dropped and he will be embraced as a Frenchman. After all, it would then mean that France one seven Tour De France events and not some facist American.

The Red Sox will not win the world series as the Yankees beat them in a sweep. Apparently, the curse only took a one year haitus. The death knell will ring when Captain Caveman, their center fielder, tears a ligament in his knee and is out for the season. He'll then be traded to the New York Yankees for a big fat check and their playoff hopes will be flushed down the tubes once again as Jesus, aka Captain Caveman, pushes another piano into the East River.

An actively gay person in hollywood, name yet unknown, will come out of the closet and admit that they're actually straight. They only played gay to fit in with the crowd better. This person will then be ruthlessly attacked by everyone in the business due to what they call "going back in the closet", or misleading us for all of these years. They will never get an acting gig again.

Due to the Tsunami, many people will turn to the terrorist groups doing their best to recruit new people to their cause. For years to come, people will mark the day after Christmas, 2004 as the day terror gained a new foothold in the region.

N. Korea will come to the table to surrender their nukes in return an ample supply of food and aid. THe talks will become shaky when there is a fight over how the aid is distributed. Kim Jong Il will want to control how the food and aid is distributed but the U.S. will want to ensure that the food gets to the N. Koreans that really need it instead of the Army. In the end, China will step in and threaten N. Korea with force to seal the deal.

Controversy will surround American Idol when it is learned that the winners were not really contestants but were being promoted by their individual labels. It will also be discovered that Clay Aiken had an affair with Simon. Simon reports that Clay is rather good in bed but has no rhythm and gives him about a seven on a scale of one to ten.

Dick Clark will be back at the New York ball for the 2006 drop. Analysts will note that he mentioned stroke 52 times and rehab 71 times. Someone will also make the on-air mistake of stating that the stroke did wonders for his age lines and his hair never looked better.

Well, I think that's enough BS for the year. tune in next year when I finally fininsh the following pieces:

1. No nukes is good nukes part II
2. Is the U.S. doing the right thing? Part II
3. What does Appeasement buy you?
4. Workfare
5. Democratic Disownment
6. Absolution from oil

...and much much more!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tsunami Disaster shock

There was a 9.0 earthquake that hit the Indian Ocean and spawned the worst natural event since the 60's. (I think there was a 9.4 in 1964...1864?) This is a horrible, devastating tragedy. More than 58,000 people are lost, dead, missing or otherwise no longer living.

I still can not grasp the breadth of this disaster. I know nations around to world are donating large sums of money, (U.S. has donated 35 Million directly and 4 million to the Federation of the Red Cross, Red Crescent. The U.S. estimates that we will donate around 1 Billion after all is said and done.) and massive amounts of services (See LGF for info on what Israel has done.) but I am numb. I am having a hard time feeling anything for this yet. Can someone pinch me? This is like some really unfathomable nightmare that I can't wake up from.

On 9/11 I at least had a mission to do. I was onboard a ship that had to do things. I had to act and do things. Now I don't know what I need to do or understand about this. It may take me a day or two still to get into gear. I know there are several charities for this. Daily Kos has some of them. (Yes, I'm linking to Kos.) I don't know what they are and have yet to donate. I should.

I can't help thinking that this was done in some horribly exaggerated disaster movie. I know it was. It was that giant wave from the asteroid that took out half of the United States...but that was an asteroid, not an earthquake. I have no reference point to compare it to. It is beyond the scope that the modern world has ever seen in real life. This could be a movie in itself. I wish that's all it was...just a movie. I am numb still. I'm in shock.

UPDATE: The death toll is now over 80,000.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Early Christmas Morn

Early Christmas morn, before the sun had shone itself, three doe had shone themselves to me. They were grazing on the soon dead grass along the edge of the path. It struck me as odd, as they paid no mind to my passing or any of the normal timidities that deer so oft reveal.

Seeing nothing else askew and eager to complete my errands I trudged on through the cold and the dark, but pondered ever deeper as to the purpose of this occurrence on this early Christmas morn. Was this to be nothing more than a hint of a jolly old man in a red suit, an omen of a dark Christmas day or was it something of a holy sign? A Christmas star if you wish? At this moment I knew not the truth. It had not revealed itself unto me.

Once my early Christmas errand was complete I happened upon these three doe, these three women of early Christmas morn once again. It was a beacon of something as yet I did not know. It is rare enough to see a family of deer, but a family of doe, and on Christmas morn, twice! This was no natural happenstance. This had a purpose. There was meaning to this. It had been orchestrated by a higher power, but seeing no function, no solution, I had to trudge on but was ever watchful.

I was not much further down the path that the meaning of this symbol on Christmas morn became evident to me. A carriage had broken a wheel and was stranded on the side of the road in distress. My task was to help these early Christmas travelers in any way they would ask.

My spare wheel was of the wrong size and shape for their carriage and would not fit their axle. The spare they had received from another was too large and rubbed against their brake, preventing forward movement. I asked what I could do to help? Did they need transport? Money? Advise? I had thus far been useless in capacity despite my eagerness to help.

They said that they needed someone take their carriage for repair. This was rather fortuitous. I knew the solution to their problems. They did not realize that a stone's throw away a man named Dale Old had made his home, as well as his business. His business was wrecking and repair, the answer to their prayers. I was not the one to provide the service, it was Dale and he would be pleased for the business. Mine was the task of guidance.

With the aid of three doe, I was guided to help a stranger early on Christmas morn. It was unbeknownst and hidden from my view until the lord revealed his plan. He had given a sign and made me aware so I answered His call to give help to another, early on Christmas morn.

This may show itself as coincidental to your eyes but not mine. It reminds me to be ever diligent to watch for signs. They are all around us. We only need look. Particularly the next time I see three doe on the edge of the trail.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Merry Christmas to Jess

I've just given Jess at Life Or Something Like It his belated Christmas present. I've still got the mouseover links and cool title to put in, but it's mostly done. Go check!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Mail Carrier of shopping

This morning, at 2:30 A.M., my wife was on the road to Wal-Mart for the after Christmas sales. She went on her own for the early shopping and was planning to return later in the day to pick us up and go shopping again. It is now 10:00 A.M. and snowing like it should have done yesterday. It's that thick, heavy packing snow that's gread for snowballs and snowmen...and women, but just shy of ice sheets in the terms of driving conditions.

This is why I'm dubbing my wife: The Mail Carrier of Shopping.

"Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor dead of night will keep this shopper from her appointed rounds!"

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!

Okay, This isn't quite right for the holidays but it's all I've got right now. I'll put a link roundup at the end if I get a chance...and yes, this is recycled.

Twas the night before voting and all through the House,
Not a representative was stirring, not even Nancy Pelosi; (couldn't find a rime)
The ballots were held in the centers with care,
In hopes that no voter fraud would be found there;

The voters were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of run-offs danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just turned on the news. What a large pile of crap,

On the White House lawn there arose such a clatter,
The marines jumped into action to see what was the matter.
Away to their posts they flew like a flash,
Turned on their sirens with lights that would flash.

The moon at their backs and wouldn't you know,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Osama Bin-Laden, and eight terror bombadeers,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment I was going to be sick.
More rapid than camels his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dashle! now, Daniel! now, Boxer and Clinton!
On, Corzine! on Conrad! on, Durbin and Feinstein!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the van full of bombs, and Osama too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of McGreevy, the goof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Osama came with a bound.

He was dressed in fatigues, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes smelled a bit like some ass and a foot;
A bomb-belt of his he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a homeless guy strung out on crack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how sKerrey!
His cheeks were quite sunken, freind of Marion Barry?
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was grey and white like bad snow;

The stump of a hooka he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke that encircled his head really reaked;
He had a thin face and absolutely no belly,
He shook, when he coughed like a girl with R-Kelly

Bush, at work with a slump, took his gun from a shelf,
And he laughed when he saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

Bush spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled him with lead; that will deal with the jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, Osama Bin Laden was hosed;

He sprang to his door, to marines gave a whistle,
To their posts they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he rode out the night,

Chrismas of the vanities!

Pirate's Cove
Carniverous Conservative
Daisy Cutter
Ogre's Politics and Views
The Evangelical Outpost
Chrenkoff Chrenkoff again

...more to follow...

Friday, December 24, 2004

Geek Prayers

Prayer to god has been around for a very long time. Most of them have not changed since early times. Some, however, need to fit into your own time period. Here are two from the computer generation.

A Geek's Prayer

Our Hard Drive
Which art internal
Volume C by name;
Thy code be clean,
Thy fonts be seen
On screen as they are on paper.
Give us this day our documents,
And lead us not into fragmentation
But deliver us our data.
For thine is the SCSI,
And the EISA, and the NuBus,
Forever and Ever,

Prayer of "Teh l337 hax0r"

Our Father, who 0wnz heaven,
j00 r0ck!
May all 0ur base someday be belong to you!
May j00 0wn earth just like j00 0wn heaven.
Give us this day our warez, mp3z, and pr0n through a phat pipe.
And cut us some slack when we act like n00b lamerz,
just as we teach n00bz when they act lame on us.
Please don't give us root access on some poor d00d'z box
when we're too pissed off to think about what's right and wrong,
and if you could keep the f3i off our backs, we'd appreciate it.
For j00 0wn r00t on all our b0x3n 4ever and ever,

60d 8l33$$

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Geek Quiz

You are 38% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at

?? 38 percent? That can't be right? ???

Presidential Dogs

This is rather off topic for the season but it's something that I find a bit interesting. This will be my first ast of complete and utter plaigarism. Here's an incomplete chronology about presidential dogs:

George Washington (1789-1797): The father of our nation and the first President, Washington is also considered the father of American foxhounds. Washington enjoyed fox hunting and wanted to breed a new type of dog to handle the terrain around Mount Vernon. He crossed seven big stag hounds from Europe, a gift from his friend the Marquis de Lafayette, with his own smaller black-and-tan Virginia hounds. Washington listed 30 American foxhounds by name in his journal and hounds currently registered with the American Kennel Club are descended from those originals.

Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809): Jefferson was also interested in breeding dogs, but he wanted a breed that would be able to guard his sheep from predators. He became fascinated with the Briard, a sheepdog he came across on his travels to France, and brought a female home with him that gave birth crossing the Atlantic. Jefferson received two more Briards from Lafayette of which he named one Buzzy. As president, Jefferson was the originator of the dog license after people complained of renegade hounds destroying livestock.

James Buchanan (1857-1861): Buchanan owned a large Newfoundland named Lara who was notorious for lying motionless for hours with one eye open and the other closed.

Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865): Lincoln's dog Fido, a yellowish-brown mongrel, was the first presidential dog known to be photographed. Fido had trouble dealing with all the noise from cannons and bells during Lincoln's Inauguration and all the new people around the White House. To make his life less stressful, Lincoln sent Fido back to Springfield, Illinois to live with family friends. Lincoln's two sons, Tad and Willie, had Fido's photograph to remember the dog by. After Lincoln was assassinated, Fido watched the funeral procession go by in Springfield. Fido is also thought to be the source of one of Lincoln's most famous quotes: 'Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.'

James Garfield (1881): Garfield named his dog Veto to warn Congress not to send any more bills to the White House that he did not want to sign into law.

Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893): Harrison owned a handsome Collie named Dash that had a fancy doghouse built right next to the White House.

Teddy Roosevelt (1901-1909): Roosevelt had more dogs running around the White House grounds then people could keep track of, but there are two who stand apart from the pack. Pete was a mischievous bull terrier who got into a lot of trouble. He snapped at Cabinet officers, nipped the leg of a naval officer and was finally sent to the family home in Sagamore Hill in New York after he ripped the pants of French ambassador Jules Jusserand. Skip, a mongrel that is now believed to have been a rat terrier, was Roosevelt's personal favorite. He was picked up during a bear hunt in the Grand Canyon and would ride in TR's saddle when the snow was too deep. Roosevelt's son Archie would run races down the second-floor hallway with Skip and when everyone had gone to bed, Skip would climb up into the President's lap while he was reading.

Warren Harding (1921-1823): Harding owned one of the most infamous canines to ever inhabit the White House. Laddie Boy was a large Airedale that rose to celebrity status as the President's dog. He would retrieve golf balls on the White House lawn for Harding and sit on the front steps to greet official delegations. Laddie Boy had his own hand-carved chair to sit upon during Cabinet meetings and was often quoted by reporters in mock interviews. President Harding died while serving when he became ill on a trip to Alaska. It was said that Laddie Boy howled for three days before Harding passed away, sensing that something was wrong with his owner. When Laddie Boy died years later, 19,000 members of the Newsboys Association each donated a penny to be melted down and shaped into a sculpture of the Presidential pooch. That statue is now in the Smithsonian collection.

Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929): Coolidge had many dogs as President, but three really stood out in the public's eye. Prudence Prim and Rob Roy were both white collies that Grace, the First Lady, would dress in bows and bonnets for the annual White House egg-rolling contest. Paul Pry, an Airedale, was another member of the family.

Herbert Hoover (1929-1945): Hoover was a very private man and enjoyed the company of his Belgium police dog, King Tut, that he brought back from Europe after World War I. Hoover posed with King Tut for a campaign photo, showing man and dog begging for votes. King Tut was also a determined guard dog and would patrol the White House grounds at night, protecting his master.

Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945): Roosevelt owned a whopping 11 dogs in 12 years and one month as President, but the one who brought him the most joy was Fala, a black Scottish terrier given to him by his cousin in 1942. Fala would follow Roosevelt everywhere, and Secret Service agents referred to him as the Informer because they knew wherever Fala was, the President would be close behind. Fala thrived on all the attention given to him by reporters and was witness to the signing of the Atlantic Charter aboard the Augusta. The little Scottie was fed at 7 p.m everyday by Roosevelt after doing tricks for those looking on. Fala had his own blanket to sleep on next to Roosevelt at night. When Fala passed away after a long life, he was buried next to his master in the rose garden of the Roosevelt's Hyde Park estate. Fala is also depicted in the FDR memorial in Washington, D.C. sitting faithfully next to Roosevelt.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961): Eisenhower also owned a Scottish terrier, but he named his Spunky. Heidi, a weimaraner, was the other member of the First Family. She would not allow Mamie Eisenhower to be photographed, jumping up in front of the cameras to block the view.

John F. Kennedy (1961-1963): Kennedy was an avid dog lover so there were many pets for his children to play with. Charlie, a Welsh terrier, was 'boss dog' and belonged to Caroline, the President's daughter. He would go swimming with the President and playfully bite the bottom of gardeners as they tended to the White House lawn. Wolf was an Irish wolfhound given to the Kennedys by a priest in Ireland with the same last name. Clipper, a German shepherd, was a gift from JFK's father and Shannon, an Irish cocker spaniel, was a gift from the Prime Minister of Ireland. The last dog on the Kennedy roster was Pushinka, a fluffy mutt given to Caroline by Soviet premier Nikita Krushev as an act of goodwill towards America. There was romance in the air at the White House as Charlie and Pushinka became the proud parents of a batch of puppies. President Kennedy was very good at making sure there was always a dog or two in the picture when the television cameras would start rolling, adding to his national popularity.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969): Johnson was a fan of beagles and owned two of them during his term as President. Him and Her had free run of the Oval Office, using it as a playground, and they would often join Johnson for a swim in the White House pool. Edgar, a gift from J. Edgar Hoover and also a beagle, and Blanco, a beautiful white collie joined the group later on. Johnson's favorite pooch of the bunch was Yuki, a stray mutt that his daughter found at a gas station in Texas. Yuki attended Cabinet meetings, was present in the East Room for the signing of the Wholesome Meat Act, and would dress up in a Santa suit for the White House Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Yuki's claim to fame were his duet singing sessions with Johnson. The two would howl together to entertain White House guests.

Richard Nixon (1969-1974): Nixon owned three well-behaved dogs but kept them out of the national spotlight. Vicky the French poodle, Pasha the Yorkshire terrier and King Timahoe the Irish setter were a large part of Nixon's private life.
What? No mention of Checkers? The dog that won Nixon an election?

Ronald Reagan (1981-1989): Reagan's first dog as President was Lucky, a giant sheepdog. Lucky quickly grew too big for Nancy Reagan to control. Often it was Lucky that would take the First Lady on a walk and not the other way around, so the Reagans had to send him to the family ranch in Santa Barbara, California where Lucky would have plenty of room to roam. Reagan soon replaced Lucky with a smaller dog, Rex, a King Charles spaniel. Rex had a fancy doghouse built for him with red window draperies and framed pictures of the President and First Lady as decoration. It was designed by Theo Hayes, great-great grandson of President Rutherford Hayes.

George Bush (1989-1993): The Bush family owned a bright springer spaniel named Millie. Millie became the first presidential dog to write her own book. Millie's Book was a 141-page story of her life in the White House was dictated to Barbara Bush and made $889,176 in first-year royalties. All that money was donated to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy to help other people learn how to read. Millie gave birth to six puppies in 1989 and retold the story in her book.

Bill Clinton (1993-2001): Clinton did not own a dog as President until five years into his term. In 1997 the Clintons welcomed a chocolate Labrador retriever into the First Family and sponsored a national contest to name the new pup. The name Buddy was chosen from all the entries.

George W. Bush (2001- ): The new President has two dogs to romp around the White House grounds. Spot is an 11-year old springer spaniel, and one of Millie's pups. She enjoys chasing tennis balls on the front lawn and playing with her new pal, Barney, a Scottish terrier puppy.
Above and beyond this, no one can forget the infamous Barnie-cam.

I hope you found this interesting reading. If you want to know more about presidential dogs ther is a book out on that topic. It can be found here. It might even make a good Christmas gift if you have an avid dog lover in your family.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Where the heck did I go?

I've had a few days off to have fun with my family. I might be posting something else a bit later but I'm not sure I'll have the time. I've got seven projects in the works so it's not for lack of thought. (Yes, I know, I'm normally unthoughtful.)

The sealing of the skylight project will be filling the rest of the night. It is already twice as warm in the kitchen with the gypsum wallboard up. I just need to plaster and insulate from the attic. This was my son's first "helper" project. He did a great job of sitting on stuff while I used the manual saw.

Oh yeah! I almost forgot; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be out July 16th, 2005. This is two days after my wife's birthday. She's already told me that this is not an acceptible gift as I'm the one who reads them.

UPDATE: The plastering is complete. The only thing left is to sponge it smooth tomorrow. The kid found his Home-Depot apron and was following me around everywhere. I should have taken pictures but I was a bit preoccupied after stepping on a drywall nail and all. No biggie, I'm fine.

The house feels about 10 degrees warmer now that I got off my lazy butt and fixed the skylight hole. It's amazing the difference a 51" x 21 1/2" hole will make.

This is going to be a great Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

J.K. Rowling has finally gotten off of her lazy pregnant butt and finished book six of seven. The release date will be mentioned today. She said that she was originally going to give the release date on Christmas but later changed her mind. She said that people had better things to do on Christmas than peruse her website.

She's right. We do. William Teach from Pirate's Cove has something special planned for the 24th and 25th. I'd rather be there that with J.K. Rowling righting a book about some mud-blood.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Played by the rules

As many of you have known...and done, placing your pin on my map-O-the-stars earns you linkage and a post. Well, One of the world's spammers took note and was paying attention. I just took a peek and I've got my first Where's Willie, the northern version of Where's George, placed their location on my map. It's not a big deal. They both qualify under Kickin' Sites. Sorry, no where's Waldo for me. I'll stick with the great leaders of America and Canada.

The premise behind these sites is to track the location of U.S. and Canadian currency wherever they are found. It's sort of a fun little thing that will track where your money goes. Apparently, mine has never gone anywhere. I've had nine bucks floating around the world for however long and none of them went anywhere. I recently recieved one from a Subway in Norfolk, VA that had done some traveling though. It had made three different stops but I do not remember where. It was somewhere in the midwest.

Anyway, at least one spammer got smart enough to complete the requirements and are subsequently blogrolled and provided a post. Go visit both of them and track your bills...maybe.


Yep, today was a snow day at my son's school. It was good timing too. I took the week off. I've been playing with my son all day...well, that and the fire.

The pipes to the kitchen froze last night. We've been playing with the water all day trying to get the warm water from the bathroom permeate the cold of the kitchen. Somehow, we managed to get the cold water to work in the kitchen, but not the warm. I'd have thought the warm water would have gone first? Oh well, one pipe unfrozen one to go.

Brandon, my soon to be seven year old son, decorated most of the tree this year. I'll try to get a picture up either later tonight or tomorrow.

Hey! Here's an Idea! Stop reading my digital family junk and go have fun with your real one. If you're reading this on a Monday before Christmas you've been neglecting them.

Give them all a hug and a kiss...except uncle bernie. Remember, he's got that really bad breath.

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas!
Winter Solstice!
Presents under the Tree Day!
(Did I miss any of them?)

UPDATE!: The hot water just came back on too now! Hooray! We can do the dishes!....wait...great...dishes....grrr.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

BLC103 - changing colors, widths and other topics

Since everyone did their homework and knows all about how to play with links now we can move on into the more dastardly depths of HTML. Now it it time to bring some color to your bland looking blog. First things first though. Before I forget, here's an easy way to keep an article at the top of your page. This one doesn't involve any coding but it's important anyway.

There's a couple of ways you can do it. The first is to copy the text directly into your template in the proper place so that no matter what you do it will stay put. The only way to get rid of it it to go back into your code and delete it manually.

The second way to do it is to bump up the date on the article. Say, for example, you were nominated for a blog award and you wanted to keep a little redirector post to your more interesting articles at the top until the 12th. Simply change the date to midnight on the 12th and your redirecting article will stay at the top of your blog. On the 13th, when you post, it will push the article down just like any other. Yes, I mentioned this one because that's what I did. It was amazingly simple.

Anyway, back to the code party! Before I start this, you may want to go get Instahack, Daily Kossack, Little Bland Footballs, The Color Conspiracy and a host of other bland blogs. I'll wait, go get them. They need this just as much as you do. (Taps foot impatiently. tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.) What they're too busy being arrogant rank snobs to take a peek? It figures. I guess we'll have to begin without them then.

Before I get into the code of it, be forewarned that the first colors you choose will more than likely stink. Anybody remember that pink and lavender and grey phase I went through? It scared me too. One thing I've found that has really helped out is the site found here. This is the only chart that I've seen that doesn't use a host of completely freakish colors. They've narrowed your selection down to colors that work.

Okay, to understand where to put all of this stuff I'm going to copy the important parts of my template so you can follow along line by line:

1. [html][head][title][$BlogPageTitle$][/title]
2. [style]
3. body{margin:0px 0px 0px 0px; font-family:arial, helvetica; background-color:forestgreen}
4. #main{margin:20px; border:1px solid #000; background-color:navajowhite; padding:0px 0px 15px 15px}
5. #Title{font-size:43px; padding-left:0px; padding-top:10px; text-transform:none}
6. #Title a {text-decoration:inherit; color:inherit;}
7. #Description{padding:0px; padding-top:10px; font-size:12px; font-weight:normal}
8. .DateHeader{border-bottom:solid 1px #C3CFE5; font-size:18px; text-align:left;margin-top:30px; width:300px; margin-bottom:0px; color:gray; font-weight:bold}
9. .PostTitle{font-size:16px; font-weight:bold; font-family:arial, helvetica;}
10. .Post{margin-bottom:20px; font-size:15px; padding-right:15px; line-height:22px; font-family:arial, helvetica; color:black;}
11. .PostFooter{margin-bottom:10px; margin-left:0px; color:gray; font-size:10px}
12. #menu{border-left:1px solid #000; border-bottom:1px solid #000;float:right; padding:10px; width:250px; margin:0px 0px 10px 10px; background-color:indianred}

Wait! Stop! Come back! It's not as scary as it looks!

Each one of these lines effects something on your page. There are more lines like these in your template but these are the more important ones. First though, I promised you colors and here's the delivery:

I used three colors for my template; Forestgreen, navajowhite and indianred. Look through the template to see where I put these three words. Does that make things a bit easier? Do you think you could make your website pretty colors now?

There's a couple of things about colors to pay attention to. You can use the color number or you can use the title that coinsides with it. For example:



(ffdead are actually hexidecimal. Hex is rather easy though. like binary of base 2 {0,1} and decimal of base 10 {0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9} Hexidecimal is base 16 {0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,a,b,c,d,e,f} It gives you the ability to adjust your colors to a more clarified level.

There is a third option as well that would be similar to this:

color:# 255,222,173

I'm not sure I got the formatting on this one 100% or not, (If someone else knows please let me know so I can update) but this can be invaluable if you've made a picture in MS Paint and want to match your custom colors exactly. You can type in the numbers in either paint or your template and it will match your colors. Remember, the best source I know for approved colors is here at Hype's.

One more color not not to forget.If you change the way you do color from the word to the number or vice versa remember to change the # or your template will just ignore that color completely.

Now that you've seen the important part of the code I'll get into some other things besides the colors. Lets start with line 12. This is the one that controls your sidebar. Notice that my:


My width for my sidebar is 250 pixels. This is very adjustable and starts out at around 160. In order to accomodate some of the larger things on my sidebar, I made it wider. You could make it wider, or narrower as well.

Something else in that line is:

border-left:1px solid #000

So the left side of the border is a solid, one pixel wide, black (#000 is black) line. You can change the thickness by pixels, the color or say dashed for a dashed line instead of a solid one. There are other things you can do besides solid and dashed but I'm not sure what they are. Maybe dotted is a choice?

Anyway, the point is that all you need to do to change something is to figure out which line it is on and then adjust it accordingly. If you want to add a color to something that doesn't show it, put the color code in the same format as the rest of the line. All HTML does is break things into smaller peices. These pieces are usually a semicolon ; . With that, you should know just about as much as I do about playing with the header.


**To change the color of words you can use the folowing script code:

[span ]American Warmonger Rocks![/span]

Treat the SPAN as tags. Check out The Volokh Conspiracy's links for a good example of this.

**I suggest six external sources to your blog. They are:

  1. Sitemeter - This will tell you how many people are coming to your site and where they are coming from, as well as several other things.
  2. TTLB - This show you how many people are providing inbound links to your blog on a daily basis. It also provides rankings for total links and total hits through sitemeter.
  3. Technorati - This also provides information through inbound links. This one seems to be working wrong for me because it's been pegged at 106 links for months. There hasn't even been a change up or down.
  4. Photobucket - This is a free picture host that has worked very well for me and some others. If you've already got a picture host or would prefer to use a different one, be my guest.
  5. Blogexplosion! - This is a really neat site that lets you build up credits by checking out other people's sites. You can exchange these credits and have other people check out your site, or use your credits to put up a banner ad on a supporting blog page.
  6. Bloglines - With this website, you can set up updating features with nearly all of your favorite blogs. If they have a feed (all blogspot/blogger users have a built in ATOM feed) you will be able to put them in Bloglines. As soon as they update their site, you will be notified through bloglines that they have updated their site and you can even read an excerpt from their articles. You can do it with news sites as well. Once you've got everything set up good in bloglines you can then get their HTML code and put it in your site so your bloglines updates instantly becomes your blogroll.

I hope you have enjoyed learnign about this as much as I have enjoyed teaching it....okay, MORE than I have enjoyed teaching it. I am always open to suggestions to these three courses and will be putting them into my sidebar as a permanent addition. I hope it will become a valuable tool to those that are afraid of blogging. Now you have no excuse, except being lazy. If I can get past the lazy part so can you, Ask anybody that knows me, the lazy part is a killer!

BLC102 - hyperlinks, italics and other basic formats

Okay, I’m sure all of you have broken your great big fear of the template by now and are ready for a bit more. You’re looking for something in particular that you’ve seen one everyone else’s site. You’re looking for a blogoll. Worry no longer! You’re in the right place. This article will cover creating links and a few other things like simple formatting. To get things rolling, I’m familiar with three ways of setting up a blogroll:

1. Go to Blogrolling and use their intuitive program.
2. Go to Bloglines and set up your feeds and then have the system create a blogroll.
3. Create the links yourself. This may be the least fun but the most functional.

The coding I do today is past what I’m showing here, but I’m tied to some weird code that pops stuff up when you put your mouse over the link. Without further adieu, here’s the basic format for a link (Remember, everything uses brackets. [], not carats):

[a href=””]American Warmonger[/a]

The two important parts in this is the name you will see: American Warmonger, and the web address: For a basic link this is all you will need. If you’re happy with this much, you do not need to read further. Go home and lead a sheltered blog life. For those that want to know the cooler stuff read on.

If you’ve clicked on most of the links on my sidebar you will notice that they usually pop-up in a new window. This is done with a simple modification to the normal link code. The added part looks like this:


When used in a link (also known as a hyperlink) it looks like this:

[a href=”” target="_blank"]American Warmonger[/a]

Properly placed, this little addition of code will allow people to stay on your site while looking at other people’s sites that you are suggesting. In addition to this, there is the problem with turning a picture into a link. Take a look at that “blogger” icon either on your sidebar or the bottom of your page. Wouldn’t you like to be able to do that? It’s really not that hard. Usually, you can just link to a picture online, but some people don’t like you to do that so you need to get a picture host. I would recommend Photobucket. They offer free hosting with no pop-ups or strings attached. (I’d like to give a hat tip to Miss Patriot because she’s the first person I saw that was using them.) Something else neat is that they provide the code to insert into your site. Take, for example, my elephant and donkey picture. It can be turned into a link. The code off of photobucket looks like this:

[img src=””]

This code, by itself, will add a picture to wherever you would like it to go. You can also add it to your link to create a linked picture like so:

[a href=”” target="_blank"][img src=””][/a]

Did you see that? I took out the words “American Warmonger” and inserted the code for the picture. That wasn’t so hard now was it?

There’s still one last little cute piece. Have you noticed how most picture links will have a silly little saying about what the link address is or some stupid remark pop-up when you put your mouse over it? Well, that’s just another small piece of code. It looks like this:

Alt=”A proud member of the Christian community”/]

When you place it in a hyperlink it looks like this:

[a href=”” target="_blank"][img src=”” Alt=”A proud member of the Christian community”/][/a]

Well, that’s about as detailed I can get with a hyperlink. There are probably more bells and whistles like making them flash when highlighted but this should suffice.

Something you may have noticed is the tags that are around the other information. It looks like this:


Here’s a breakdown of the basic tag format:

[a] = You can place most of your formatting features in here.
In between is the place for plain text or other, non-formatting features
[/a] = This always closes a tag.

There are many more tags to enjoy that are very functional in adjusting the text that you see on the screen. Most of these use two tags and change things within them, but two of them require no inner tag. They are:

[/br] = This is a line break. Treat it as hitting the enter button once. It can be done multiple times.

[/p] = Similar to [/br] but the spacing is different and can be used like an [a][/a] tag set.

Other tags include but are not limited to:

[b][/b] = This will make your text bold

[strong][/strong] = This will also make your text bold.

[I][/I] = This will make your text italics.

[strike][/strike] = This will put a line through your text.

[u][/u] = This will underline your text.

[blockquote][/blockquote] = This will move your text into a news-clipping format.

[li][li] = This will create a bulleted format. It is also used with other codes.

[ol][li][li][ol] = This will create a numbered list. Text should be in-between the LI marks.

There are many more tags available for use in many different forms. A good point of reference for additional tags is located here. This is just the basic quick-list and the parent site has many more examples. All of the above tags work with Haloscan comments as well as your blog (except for maybe the [strike]. I’ve heard that doesn’t work.) This means that all the formatting you put into your template you can also put into comments. It sort of shows that you’re techno-savvy enough to type the code yourself. It’s sort of like instant street credit.

Now that I’ve provided you with a healthy toy you should have something to play with until part three. Part three will include something I don’t see on a lot of sites these days: COLOR! Take a look around. Nearly everyone’s sites are either black or white with tid-bits of color thrown in. I’ve worked very hard to find some colors that don’t blind people while preventing the coldness of non-color. If you’d like to take the next step and delve into the world of color wait for course three.

(Course 2 of 3)
(The next and last course will be: BLC103 - changing colors, widths and other topics)
(I’ll probably add an addendum or two later as well.)

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Blog Creation 101 (BLC101)

Frist off, I'm not the end-all be-all authority on blogs. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that can smoke me when it comes to HTML or Javascript. I am, however, familiar with the basics of how to play with your existing script so here goes.

NOTE: The first caveat to this is that since blogger likes to eat the carat marks (the little greater-than and less-than signs over your period and your comma on the keyboard) I'll be using the brackets instead. They look like this: [ ]. For everything in this article, just make believe that the brackets are the carats.

Since I'm familiar with Blogger I will be writing this from a Blogger's eye view. Please adjust things accordingly for your service. Once you initially join, you will have a fairly limited selection of templates to choose from. Select one of these at random as you probably don't want to stick with one of these. Once Blogger has created your initial blog you will want to go directly to the tab at the top marked TEMPLATE.

Once there, you will have three basic options:
1. Change your template.
2. Change the color of the blogger bar.
3. Edit your template code.

Since we're just getting started, go change your template. You wil now see that there are many more templates available than there were initially. The templates I would suggest are: TEKKA, BLUEBIRD, JELLYFISH, SIMPLE II, SPIT PEA, HERBERT or SAND DOLLAR. They are all found on the bottom of the list. The reason I recomend them is because their text is flexible. The words are movable according to the size of your sidebar or your individual screen resolution. All of the others have small text and a fixed size.

WARNING: If you've already been playing with your code, or installed haloscan, or installed anything into your sidebar, you will want to remember that changing your templates will destroy all of those settings. It does not, however, take away your articles, so everything you have written is still safe.

Now that you have a fair looking template you need to start installing your toys. Three tools that are absolute musts are Haloscan for commenting, Sitemeter for how many hits you get, and TTLB or The Truth Laid Bear which will rank you amongst the rest of the blogosphere by both inbound links and hits.

Installing Haloscan
Haloscan is fairly easy for blogger. Simply create your account, log in and on the first page that pops up the first install option will be to install haloscan commenting automatically. Click on the link and you will be able to install haloscan commenting without seeing a lick of code. Remember not to delete the comment haloscan adds because it has a tendancy to remove your haloscan commenting and revert back to your original code. There is more to haloscan and you should feel free to play around with whatever you feel safe with. Trackback is an especially important feature.

Installing Sitemeter
Sitemeter is nearly as easy as Haloscan but you have to know where to go to do it right. Once you sign in, click on the MANAGER tab at the top and you will have a sidebar on your left. Click on HTML CODE. From there you will have the option of several different editors. Scroll down until you get to "Adding sitemeter to a Blogger or Blogspot account". Click on this link and fill out all of the pertinent information. Your sitemeter button should now be installed. Again, there are many more features to sitemeter that are not stated here. For an example, if you want to install the javascript manually, you will be able to tell where people came to your site from. It comes in very handy.

Installing TTLB code
This is a tad trickier than the previous two. Instead of just clicking away and putting in your password a few places, you'll actually have to copy and paste something! GASP! It's not really that bad. You'll see. First things first:

1. Go Here.
2. Enter the important information. (Remember to add the http// to the front of your address.)
3. Click VALIDATE at the bottom of the page.
4. Scroll down again and, on the bottom in green it should say that your validation worked.
5. Click the CONFIRM button for the next page.
NOTE: If you don't want to display your status on your blog you can stop here. If you want to display the "I'm A cheeky Monkey in the TTLB status quo system" then proceed to the next step.
6. Copy the code on the acceptance page. It looks like this (remember, I'm substituting the carats.):
[script language="javascript" src=""]
[/script ]

7. Paste this code into your template. Okay, this is the scary part. It shouldn't be though. Hear me out and follow along and everything will be just fine.
a. Paste your code into notepad or word or something so you can find it later.
b. For Windows users hit CTRL+F. This brings up a find window.
c. Type in SITEMETER or BLOGGER and press enter. This should put a black highlight over the word. This is the part of the code you should be playing around with in order to get your code to work right.
d. go to the first blank line and past in your code.
e. before you save it you should preview to ensure you are not putting something in weird. So click on the preview button under the code box and make sure you are putting it in the right place.
f. If you don't like where the TTLB thingie is you can move it up or down in your code to suit where you want to put it.
NOTE: remember that web pages load from the top of the code to the bottom so pay attention to where things go and You'll start to understand where you should be putting things. And remember not to save until you are happy with where you have placed your code.

8. Once everything is where you want it click on the save button. a new window will appear and ask you to either save your entire blog or just do the header.
9. Click either one and wait for it to update.
10. Congratulations! You have just broken your initial fear of code! Now we can start on some of the more intricate stuff.

(End BLC101)
(Following lessons: BLC102 - hyperlinks, italics and other basic formats; BLC103 - changing colors and widths and other topics)

UPDATE: Blogger has a tendency to eat your entries. Enter your comments into Word or other non-web based editor before you copy it in. (Yes, blogger just ate BLC102.)

Tough Decisions

A day or two ago I recieved an offer from another blog group to join their little carnival. I'm not really sure I should be joining this one. It's not that I dislike extra traffic or additional web-links. The problem lies with the content of the site. It's not the sort of site I normally frequent.

Let me explain further. The name of the site is A New York Escorts Confessions and she runs The Carnival of Sin. It's not straight up porn or anything. It's more like a cross between those romance novels and the Hustler book called Forum. For a slightly better example, Here's the page for entering your article excerpts:

Want to put yourself out there? Have a great article that you absolutely need to share? Join me in my Carnival of Sin then! I'll be publishing excerpts from your blogs every Monday.

Everyone's welcome to join - even Republicans - because I'm an equal opportunity lover. Don't worry if you're not a Hemmingway or Tolstoy. Don't worry if your article isn't naughty. Naughty or nice, the most important thing is for you to be you. No need for masks at my Carnival.

The only thing that I require is that you have a link to my blog on your blog. After all, every escort has to have her price, right? :) Extra brownie points for you if you spell my blog's name correctly.

So what are you waiting for? Join me in my little sexperiment. I'm sure we'll find many diamonds in the rough!

I looked around the last carnival and most of the articles were effectively confessions of dirty little secrets or gossip about whether someone should make penis shaped cookies but there are other posts as well. For example, there's this one that's talking about how she lost her parents when she was just five.

There's a fair mix of different things floating around, but nearly everything is of an adult nature. Yes, even a five year old losing their parents has a bit of an adult, therapy type nature to it.

The reason I'm asking my readers about this is that I've recently aquired some dutifully Christian readers. I don't want to disrespect them or anyone else by adding an offending link but at the same time I really don't want to put someone out just because of their lifestyle either. In my mind it's like telling a sinner to keep out of your church, or kicking someone out of your home because they confessed that they were gay, or atheists, or promiscuous.

So, dear readers, is there any room at the inn? Should I exclude myself from this carnival or should I pray that God will flow through my words and touch the hearts of those that have lost their way?

Friday, December 17, 2004

Unintelligible Intelligence

As many of you may remember, I went off on a tirade a week ago about the intelligence bill. The president has signed it ino law today. This is a great culmination of Democrats, Republicans and independents. Today is a great day for America.

Unfortunately, I may be declaring war shortly. I haven't seen anyone else on this, even though it's front page on CNN. I'll be posting more later. Right now I'm attending a Christmas party(yes, they call it a Christmas party) at my son's school.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

End of semester!

Well, just a couple of footnotes for now:

The semester is over! YAY! I'm free to blog until January 10th!
If anyone is wondering, the report I turned in gave me an A. I guess they'll accept just about anything these days.

JulieB, after much poking and prodding and being thrown out on stage with just a crumpled up paper in her hand has started her blog. I think I'm the third person to give her props now....all in one day's time. She just got haloscan installed so her comments will work nicely now. (This is a hint that have stuck with the clunky blogger comments: get haloscan!) So go visit Julie with a B and give her a word of encouragement!

Nickie Goomba is back online after some rather some mean spirited individuals decided that legitimate politics just weren't enough, they had to go hacktivist. For some reason I'm thinking the same sort of people that thought cheating the vote to get Kos to win were in play here. Now who's the terrorist?

Another welcome to my very first Ozzy!
I th..I. I. I. what's going on he..I.I. I. said f**k off!.I......
wait...sorry, that's Aussie not Ozzy. Must have read it wrong. My bad! You've probably seen him before but you're seeing him again. Any friend of Daisy is a freind of mine. Please give a warm round of applause to the cutter of toes, Toecutter! Go give him a read. You simply must check out the lootatron!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Voice Over IP (VoIP): Reinventing the Telephone

Voice Over IP (VOIP) has been an emerging technology that is poised to change the way all voice communications work. Essentially, all VOIP does is convert a voice signal from its raw analog form into a digital signal for traversal upon normal telecommunications lines. It has been adopted by many businesses already and is quickly replacing the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) as the preferred choice for business use and, in different methods, home use as well.

As of this writing, there are three basic types of VOIP that exist today. The first is ATA, or Analog Telephone Adaptor. The second is computer to computer and includes Internet software applications such as Microsoft NetMeeting and Skype. The third, and mostly used in a business environment, are IP phones. IP phones are currently expanding and will soon include IP WiFi as another alternative to standard cell service but it is still in development.

ATA, in a nutshell, is a small device that connects to your regular PSTN telephone and then connects to your computer for digital signal traversal over the Internet. With this service, you connect to your computer via your regular telephone. Your telephone sends the digital telephone signal to a receiving station that changes the signal back into analog at the receiving end and into the local PSTN network.

The second type of VOIP is computer-to-computer VOIP. In this style of IP telephony you are connecting directly between two computers over the Internet without the use of any external sources other than your computer and normally a broadband connection. Some services will work with modem technology but, due to an analog modem’s inherent lossy nature, it doesn’t sound very good. With services, such as Skype, Net2Phone and Netmeeting, you are capable of communicating with anyone at their computer throughout the world for just the fee of your broadband connection.

An additional feature within computer-to-computer VOIP is the ability to connect to external telephone numbers throughout the world for a small fee to connect to the distant end PSTN. It’s sort of a hybrid between ATA and computer-to-computer. I guess you could call it CTA or Computer To Adapter, but no official name has been settled on as of yet. There are also a few USB capable telephones that will connect directly to your computer and are set up to work directly with these programs and will even act as a satellite speaker for you computer. These telephones are fully functional with multiple streaming media types.

This crossover was initially done with Netmeeting, but the signal quality was very poor and the per-minute connectivity charges were cost prohibitive. With the newer services that incorporate distributed processing, similar to the SETI@HOME project, the quality of signal has increased to the point that it dwarfs the sound quality of even the best PSTN telephone.

The third type of VOIP is considered to be IP telephones. They are similar to your regular telephones but have added feature capabilities, better sound quality and, in the case of larger businesses, a larger return on investment. What’s so special about them? Well, they plug directly into your router as the digital conversion is built directly into the phone. From your router, the digital telephone signal is sent to the Telephone Company, or telco, where it is split from your regular traffic and sent along the already digital backbones of the telco to the destination.

Something you may or may not realize is that you are already using a smattering of this service when you make a regular telephone call. Unless you are making a strictly local call, your analog signal is converted into a digital signal at the telco to decrease bandwidth size and increase signal quality. It is then transmitted from one station to the next as a smaller digital signal until it reaches the destination “hub” and then converts back into a digital signal.

Currently, Nortel Networks has the daunting task of upgrading all of the legacy equipment onto a completely digital network structure for what is frequently referred to as the “Baby Bells”, or what was left over after the last mandatory restructuring of AT&T, which is now Verizon. This will eventually enhance the PSTN system to a digital network that will allow DSL and other broadband services to all of their customers. One reason for the rush is that cable companies are already offering complete digital packages, including telephone service to your doorstep. I should know. I’ve got the package.

What makes all of these technologies similar is that the all start as analog voice, get transferred into a digital signal, traverse a telco backbone to reach their destination and are broken out into an analog signal at the distant end. As I have shown, the methods for doing this are as varied as the many companies providing VOIP service. Currently, the standards for this emerging technology are lax at best and the only business standards fall within IP telephony. In fact, the VOIP technology used for business has it’s own primary standard, Ethernet. 802.3af, and was finalized in early 2003. Cisco was one of the first companies to comply.

Since this is a Cisco class, I’ll cover the IP Telephony solution that they provide. First, they have broken their solution into four primary components: Infrastructure, IP Phones, Cisco Call Manager and Voice Applications. This solution is in no way all-inclusive and is extremely pointed towards purchasing Cisco products. Heck, the source is from the Cisco website. It’s basically a well-constructed commercial. So here goes:

Infrastructure - Includes PSTN gateways, analog phone support, and digital signal processor (DSP) farms. Cisco IP Telephony infrastructure solutions can support multiple client types such as hardware phones, software phones, and video devices, as well as provide options for integrating traditional PBX, voice mail, and directory systems.

IP Phones - Cisco IP phones combine the functions of a traditional telephone with an Ethernet connection and optional customizations such as access to stock quotes, employee extension numbers, and Web-based content. The Cisco IP SoftPhone is a Windows-based application for the PC that offers IP functionality in conjunction with a Cisco IP phone or as a standalone end station.

Cisco Call Manager - This software-based call-processing agent extends enterprise telephony features and functions to packet telephony network devices such as IP phones, media processing devices, VOIP gateways, and multimedia applications.

Voice Applications - Voice applications are physically independent from the call processing and voice-processing infrastructure, and they may reside anywhere within your network.

There are a lot of cool toys included within these four components. The IP Phones are effectively a cross between a laptop and a PDA with a telephone receiver and a switch-bank. The Voice Applications are capable of utilizing most of the IP Telephone functions but only on a laptop. They even have full support for WiFi IP telephony. If your company has the money to spend then Cisco is almost always the right choice, IP Telephony is no exception.

So, what specifically are the finer points of VOIP? Well, there are a lot of reasons to move your infrastructure over to an IP Telephony infrastructure. Just a few are a cleaner sound, smaller long-term costs, no long distance charges and less bandwidth usage.

The clarity of a digital signal lies in the ability of a digital signal to be repeated, or rebuilt instead of an analog signal’s limitations to an attenuator. All an attenuator does is strengthen the signal but does nothing to clean the signal. Over long distances this can turn a nice looking sign wave into something that resembles more of an earthquake. A digital signal, on the other hand, only looks like a one or a zero. There’s not much room for interpretation there.

After your initial purchase, you will begin to reap the financial benefits of a more efficient telephone system. You will have fewer lost calls, better organization, and increased productivity. As an advertising tool, this will bring into play potential repeat customers. Remember, if a customer likes the way you handle his or her call there is a greater opportunity for repeat business.

Another monetary boon is the lack of long distance telephone charges. Since all of your new calls are technically being converted into a digital broadband signal, no matter where you call, or how long you talk, it is considered bandwidth and not long distance. There is still a charging system for IP telephony bandwidth usage but it is metered by usage, not destination. This can be very helpful if your business does much overseas or intra-state business. All calls are local calls.

The last benefit I would like to discuss is primarily for the telco side of things. Since an analog signal is so much more intricate than a digital signal, it costs your telco much more bandwidth to transmit. Think of it like the difference between a WAV music file and an MP3 music file. The WAV, although nearly of analog quality, is much larger than the compressed, digital style format of an MP3. Due to the increased bandwidth of the Internet, the standard telco lines have started to become overtaxed and upgrades have been needed. By using all digital backbones the telcos have been able to slow the tide of the ever-increasing need for more bandwidth.

As with most anything that has positives there are a few negatives as well. VOIP is no exception to the rule. It is an emerging technology and has a few kinks to work out as well as some inherent difficulties. Among these are: the initial overhead, the untested technologies, uncertainty of governmental regulations and its low popularity due to under education on the subject.

I believe sticker shock is the term most often used when looking at how much some of the things you may need to purchase to get your VOIP network up and running. A bargain basement phones will run you about 200 dollars per phone and an IP teleconferencing phone will run about 1,000 dollars. This is just the beginning of your costs as voice gateways cost much more than that. If you are planning on buying into a complete IP Telephony system come prepared with a hefty checkbook because the buy in costs are not cheap.

Since this is an emerging technology there will be changes. As I have demonstrated above, the barriers between the three different types of VOIP are becoming hazier as we speak. What will not work with one plan will work under another without any rime or reason. As with other technologies, the posturing will stabilize and most companies will adopt a generally excepted standard. Usually, what will happen is one standard will become more popular than the others and become the adopted standard. Unfortunately, it’s not always the best standard and usually comes from the company with the most overall popularity and trust with the core of businesses.

Something else in the forefront of many VOIP companies, such as Vonage, are the unwritten government regulations for how they are to operate. Since VOIP is essentially turning a telephone service (taxable under federal law) into an Internet service (not taxable under federal law). Since digital voice packets are different from standard data packets they can be filtered at the router or voice gateway and are being tagged by all digital voice products on the market today as VOIP for potential monitoring. This would, in effect, turn VOIP into a telephone service and therefore classified telephone service, monitored as a phone service, and taxed as a phone service.

Therein lies the quandary. If we are gong to tax one form of data service should we be taxing all data services? There are some states that are already classifying this as a telephone service and trying to sue some of the VOIP services for telephone taxes by bandwidth. E-mail could be classified as a similar form of communication some day and therefore taxable. One day we may see an Internet tax as well. It’s all about the services that are available to the user through the government. If the government begins to control things like pornographic or questionable material on the Internet then we would feel safer to allow our children on our computers but we would suffer both restrictions on where we could go, say or do and also have to pay taxes to support the system. Digital voice is no exception to this.

The last problem I see with VOIP technology is that of under-education on the subject. You use it every day and just don’t know about it. There are capabilities through VOIP to completely do away with the standard telephone numbering systems. Imagine logging into any telephone anywhere in the world with a simple user name and password. Since my company uses VOIP services, I can walk up to any telephone on the network, punch in a number and instantly have my telephone extension connected to that phone. Now imagine putting just that service availability to the entire United States, or even the world. I know that appears to be extremely forward thinking but it is quite possible with VOIP technology.

To parallel this to Linux would be fairly accurate. People don’t understand the basics of Linux so the prefer to use an operating system they understand better instead. Some believe that Windows is the way to go and others believe that Mac is more intuitive and easier to use. Use Linux? That’s for geeks! I use Linux Fedora on one of my computers at home. My six-year-old son loves it. As soon as that computer became his I put it on there to see how it would do with a basic user. We’ve never had a problem. My wife hates it. It doesn’t work the way she thinks it should. When she clicks a button it doesn’t perform the same as a Windows machine would. She’s been educated to use a windows machine. Most of us have been educated to use an analog telephone and analog services. I’m sure my six-year-old son would have no problems picking up on it. In fact, when my Skype rings on my computer he runs up and tells me I’ve got a phone call, just like an analog phone.


Basic VOIP Information

Computer VOIP Service

Computer VOIP Service (I use them.)


Nortel Contract Information

CISCO Systems VOIP Information Sheets

Minnesota Judgment Against Vonage

Baby Wings

No, my wife is not pregnant! Nothing to worry about in that department.

Someone took it upon themselves to let me know that they've been here. Keith from Baby Wings stuck a pin in the guestmap and wammo! His readership has now doubled from two to four! He's been blogging for longer than I have, a proud member of the Christian community and just installed Haloscan. (Hat tip me!) Another thing of interest is that he was an Army intel guy. Here's a post that's a definite must read if you really want to know what we do in the middle of the night. Happy blogging!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"Holiday" Letters

Note: These are not real letters. I made them up. It was an effort to take the viewpoints of a Christian and non-christian based family through the letters of two eight year old girls. It's sort of an example about why we do, and why we should, celebrate "The Holiday". (It's Christmas People!!!)

Dear Santa,

I have been a good girl this year. At least I think I was. Mommy didn't get two angry with me this year. At least I think I was good.

Mommy was not good. At least that's what daddy says. He keeps calling her a naughty little girl. The only thing I don't understand why he says it 'cause she's been real nice to me.

Since I've been real extra good I hope I can use a little extra credit for mommy too. So here's the list Santa:

For Mommy: Please give mommy a half-caf, non-dairy, mocachino latte' with a dash of cocoa maker so some guy named Starbuck can stop stabbing gouging her.

For Daddy: Can daddy get all of the stupid drivers here in SEATTLE (see comments for explanation for change from Los Angeles) to get off the road and learn what a blinker is.

For me (My name is Britania): I want: A barbie playhouse, some of those bratz (with a Z not an S like mommy keeps saying.), some make-up (so I can look more growed up.), and a puppy. I really want a puppy but mommy says there's no way she's letting a flea bag into this house to throw hair all over her new couch. Maybe if you can send one that don't have fleas and don't throw hair around mommy will say okay. Please don't send a goldfish like daddy says I should ask for. I think fish are boring.

Merry Christmas

Britania Brookes
Los Angeles, CA

P.S. My older sister, Andromeda, wants peas on earth but I think they are yucky, so don't get her anything. Besides, I saw her kissing a boy and she said if I told mom and dad she would beat me up 'cause I'm just a little brat (without a z).

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for Christmas. I like Christmas a lot. My bible school told me that you made Christmas because you died for our sins. It's supposed to be so if I make a mistake sometimes its okay, just I'm not supposed to make a lot of them. The day is supposed to be something about the day you died on the cross like we see in church behind Pastor Tony, but daddy says you died on a different day. He said we celebrate you on Saint Krispies day.

Mommy says that Santa (the funny looking guy at the mall that smells bad) goes to everybody's house and gives them presents if they were good on Christmas. I know it was daddy because I saw him last year eating the cookies I left. This year I just gave daddy my list and called him Santa.

I wanted to watch that movie that Mel Gibson made about what you did to make Christmas but mommy said that it would give me bad dreams. I heard on the news daddy watches that there was a lot of Auntie Cementism in the movie but I didn't think it was true. Auntie Sarah, from Bible school, told me all about Christmas and she never said anything about an Auntie named Cementism. Did you have an auntie named Cementism? I think that's a silly name.

My older sister Ella (It's short of Elizabeth) told me I'm supposed to be saying thank-you for stuff so here is my list:

Daddy want's to thank you for making the Red Sox win the world series. He said "Thank-You Jesus!" a bunch of times when they won and I'm sure you heard him. He was pretty loud. He said something about you breaking a big baby curse too. (Daddy said Bambino but mommy said it means big baby. She's so smart.) I know you won the game too because I saw you playing. You were the center-fielder. And I bet you thought no one was looking but I saw you!

After the game was over, daddy fell asleep on the couch and I couldn't wake him up. Mommy said it was because he had too much of the holy spirits.

Okay, more thank-yous:

Thank-you for mommy.
Thank-you for daddy.
Thank-you for my really cool sister Ella.
Thank-you for the new puppy (I know daddy got it and mom is really mad but I know you helped him do it because I prayed.)
Thank-you for all the really neat toys I'm going to get this year.
Most of all thank you for saving me.

Merry Christmas Jesus!

Rachael Rhodes
Boston, Massachusetts

Homework stinks!

Okay, my apologies for not posting much tonight. I've got a technical report to write and I'm about half done with it. I hope to have it completed by 4:30 A.M. In the meantime, I've got a few updates from the guestmap:

1. Michael from Flight Pundit has joint our little entourage. I haven't really had time to delve into his sight much but any Marine is more than welcome on this site. He's been blogging since October and his site has a very clean, professional look. Go have a peek for yourself.

2. Nickie Goomba is a great guy with a great blog that I have greatly understated. He's just great. Another great thing about this great is that he's my first map dot from the great state of California. Rumors of complete Democratic dominance in California have been greatly exaggerated. What else than great would you espect from a guy whose blog title is Hey, Relax...I'm Just Sayin'. Currently, his site appears to be a bit messed up but it should be corrected shortly...I hope.

3. Julie B. is our second hit from California. I'm going to have to apologize here because I'm sure I've heard her comment before but I've always confused her with Julie Schwartz over at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Since Julie B. didn't list her blog I'm going to assume she doesn't have one. Everyone please send Julie B. and e-mail and harrass her about not having a blog.

...and furthermore....I placed 9th in the Essayist column. Not bad! Top Ten! Thank you everybody that voted for me. A special thanks goes out to Daisy Cutter for turning into my own little 527. I think Daisy really misses the political jousting.

Last note: Since this essay thing has taken away from my blog life, I'll be posting it here once it's done. The essay is going to be my first heavy techno-geek posting so you may want to prepare yourselves a bit. Maybe you could all play with Skype to warm up a little.

Off to the salt mines.............

Monday, December 13, 2004

More Than ONE Reason

Something I have noticed is that there are several people out there that are too quick to condemn the current administration for anything and everything that has to do with the war in Iraq. Normally, they point to a single factor and discredit or ignore that is good. The good doesn't matter to them, as it doesn't provide them with a means to their end. They are blinded with their hatred.

There are many reasons we went to war with Iraq besides Nuclear WMD. There are many more reasons to be staying in Iraq to continue their proliferation. If I were to limit this article to just those reasons we attacked in the first place I would be doing a great injustice to the actions going on today. It would be an insult to both Iraqi foreigners and nationals.

Lets begin this with the reasons we originated the war:

One of the original reasons we went into Iraq was to neutralize the threat of chemical weapons. Since we went in we have found various chemical shells smattered around, huge stockpiles of what is considered by some to be pesticides, and most recently a small chemical lab with the makings of various chemical weapons and instructions. It could be countered that there has been no quoted smoking gun on this but then you would be missing the point. We are there for a whole collage of things, not just one point.

Iraq had been violating several UN sanctions on various missile distances, attempted banned acquisitions and even attempts to acquire high-enriched Uranium. If you are of the dismissive nature you will site the failed South Africa report and again miss the point of this endeavor. He has made several attempts on several occasions to acquire banned materials through illegitimate means. Because of this we have no way of knowing what he has and what he doesn't have. Should we have erred on the side of kindness and let him continue his cat and mouse game with UNSCOM for another twelve years? That decision is up to you.

Terrorism is not a country. It is an action being perpetrated by men and women from multiple countries and different walks of life. They’ve been culminating throughout the globe in places that will take them in or at least tolerate them. Places like the Philippines, Iran, Syria and Iraq have given safe haven to these thugs. Is it any wonder why most of the hard-line terrorists are not Iraqi? We are fighting an ideal, not any one place or any one country. It is rather unfortunate that it is the Iraqi People that are suffering the brunt of the terror but, in my mind, it has been thus far unavoidable by any means short of invading somewhere else and making that place a haven for terrorists.

Many of these reasons were good and viable to invade in many people's minds. They are not such great ideas in the minds of others. They will point to other countries as more viable targets. Why didn't we go there instead? The point is that we DID invade for the reasons mentioned and we need to continue our mission there until we are no longer needed. The world will just have to wait for big brother America to save the day for other countries. Maybe in the meantime they could do something about it themselves. Maybe they could learn to fix things on their own like the Ukraine just did?

But I digress. Here are just some of the reasons for our continued existence in Iraq that don't usually make the news:

Iraq’s educational system was poorly lacking due to both the repressive regime and the sanctions placed upon that country. Since the time of the invasion the U.S. servicemen have been putting in blackboards, getting new school supplies, assisting the teachers and pretty much acting as an interim school board for a good portion of Iraq. Something very significant to note is that this particular reason for continued existence in Iraq is one you can help out with. There are a few charities devoted to assisting the people of Iraq in schools, the home and elsewhere. I haven’t asked her permission to do this but I’m sure she won’t mind, but Kathleen, over at KitKat has been my source for charitable actions for some time now. If you feel the need to give, you should go visit her site or send her e-mail.

One of the side effects of removing an oppressive regime is the need for a new government. There have been quite a few critics for this one but it has continued to press ever onward and upward despite the nay saying. The interim government has been in place since June and the free elections for the legitimate government will be in place after the elections on or before January 30th 2005. Even the 23 reluctant Sunni parties have decided to belly up the table of democracy and have a heaping helping of it. Albeit this after much complaining as they had previously held all of the power in Iraq. It’s sort of a demotion for them.

The atrocities of days gone by are no more. Gone are the torture chambers complete with working iron maidens. Gone are the gassings that created mass graves and are being turned up with sickening frequency. Gone are the days of little girls being worldlier about men than most women would ever need to know. The ruling government was a sick and twisted group of people with no one to answer to until they were taken out of the picture. Every day more torture chambers and mass graves or new stories of rape and murder are uncovered at places all over Iraq. I am very glad that we took out these demented people.

One last thing that could be quite possibly the most important of them all is the ever-growing scandal of the oil-for-food program. Like it or not, this was the largest single most monetary scandal the world has ever seen. The fingers of this program have reached from Saddam’s many palaces, to terrorist bank accounts, to French and German coffers, to even the son of the head of the UN, Kofi Annan.

That isn’t the real tragedy though. The real tragedy is what the Iraqi people were denied because of this leaky program. An estimate from UNICEF placed the deaths caused by these sanctions and the funneling of the oil for food program at around 5,000 deaths of children up to the age of five a month. That’s just the children. That doesn’t take into account the thousands that have died from things like Cholera, poor health care or other factors. Even with the frequent bombings we are still very much on the negative side of this denominator. By calculation, we are gaining many more lives than have been lost to hostile action. Yes, killing the bad guys is actually saving more lives than it kills.

To counter this, there are those that will go to great lengths to discredit and ignore the unfortunate things that happen. On more than one occasion I have been guilty of turning a blind eye to things that should never have happened. This is no better than ignoring the good. Bad things are happening over there every day and should not be ignored.

People are still dying every day in Iraq due to terrorist bombings, insurgent fighting or just plain general lawlessness. We have not done the best we can do to win the peace. We have faltered time and time again just with the fact of being bumbling westerners. We are not always familiar with their customs and courtesies and are very disliked for it. We are considered infidels in the Middle East. How would you like the French to invade the US with the help of Canada and try and hold onto it? Does anyone remember Red Dawn? The fact that no Arab power is assisting us on the ground plays a major role in the continued disdain for us. This leads to more and more people taking up arms against us and against the easier targets, the Iraqi civilians that help us.

This war, like all other major ones before it, has encountered its fair share of war crimes. From the torture at Abu Ghraib to the beatings in Fallujah there have been crimes against humanity. There are things that should have been done to prevent this but were not done due to leadership incompetence, ignorance, complacency, or malice. One thing I’ve learned from this is that Special Forces should not, under any circumstances, be left to their own devices. Seeing the example they set for everyone else really begs the question of how much they help or hinder.

Due to all of the bad press, the dirty election, the preemptive strike, the focusing on the bad points, etc. we have accumulated a very bad international reputation through doing this. Sure, many countries have stuck by us but many of our long term allies, such as France and Germany, have gone cold on us. I’m not going to sit here and say the way we’re being treated today in the EU is right or wrong. I’m going to tell you that our actions in Iraq have made us unpopular in Europe.

Due to our unpopularity we will suffer a loss in business with EU countries as well as a decreased ability to wield authority over them economically. Sure, this may seem like a drop in the bucket but there are some very real implications behind it. The less authority we have in the EU to more power the EU has in the US. The world economy is normally at the whim of whichever nation holds the most economic control over all of the others. Do you see the dollar continually sliding against the euro? Our unpopularity is one of the things that have caused it.

Something of note here is that these bad things that happen do not mean that we are, in fact, creating a haven for new terrorists. This is as ludicrous as believing that speaking up about the problems is killing people either. The fact that all infidels were declared war on a few years back should give you some indication as to the root of what will bring more terrorists. The fact that many hold the ideology that all infidels are a scourge upon the Earth is what recruits new terrorists. Well, that and the guarantee from the terror groups that the martyrs’ family will be provided for.

By discussing our opinions without arrogance, anger, insult or ignorance we can normally find the middle ground to what is most often the real truth of the matter. It is not about political snarking at one another. It's about coming to a consensus on what should be done. No man or woman is completely good or evil. George W. Bush is no exception. He isn't a complete angel but he's not the devil many make him out to be.

(Exception: Glenn Reynolds. He is 100% pure evil. Ask any Alliance member.)