Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sleep deprivation experiment

DIdn't get to sleep until 6am, woke up at 10am. How does a penguin do on 4 hours of sleep? Interesting experiment, dear Watson. Didn't stop me from heading up to Wally World to get my medicines, then over to Harbor Freight Tools and Sears to start the work of replacing the tools that were in the toolbox that thieves stole (grrrrrr....). None of my core tools were in that toolbox (they were all with my Jeep that weekend), but lots of shit that just make working on cars and motorcycles more pleasant were in there, as well as some specialty tools that I don't even know whether I need'em anymore but it was nice having them in case I ever did need'em again (tools good! Ugh!). So over at Harbor Freight I got cheap replacements for the various specialty pliers (bent nose, needle nose, etc.) which when you need'em you need'em as well as various picks, scribes, tweezers, and other such implements of mass destruction, and oh yeah, my freakin' *air nozzles* were in that tool box too for attaching to my air compressor/air tank to do stuff like fill up tires and such via quick disconnect so I had to pick up a new air tool kit. Then over at Sears, I got replacements for the locking pliers and channel-loks that got stolen (I had the one of each that I use most often in the Jeep with me, well actually had two of the Vice-grips a tiny one and a regular size one, but the ones I didn't have do get occasional use when they're just the right tool for the job). Thus far the thief has set me back around $120, and I haven't even started on stuff like sheet metal shears and such that were in that toolbox, grrr...

So it appears that sleep deprivation makes me type run-on sentences and buy tools. Sigh. Guess it could be worse. Oh, yeah, what beats me is that I'm cutting back on my caffeine intake, just one cup in the morning for the past two days otherwise I can't safely navigate out of my front door and I'm going to cut that down to an 8oz cup rather than a 16oz mug (heh!) then to a 4oz cup at which point I should be able to kick the coffee habit entirely, but it doesn't seem to be helping the insomnia issue. And no, I don't use meth or crack, so don't bother telling me to quit them either :-). Oh yeah, my Macbook in clamshell mode hooked up to my widescreen 22" monitor is suhweet, but I can't find a picture browser that is as nice as gqview on Linux for the Mac. iPhoto is almost there, but is way too slow once you import thousands of photos into it and sucks up all the memory on the system (and remember I have two gigabytes of memory in my Macbook), not to mention that you have to import the photos into it in the first place, you can't just browse an arbitrary directory full of penguin porn for example unless you import it and who wants to have a 'penguin porn' category in their iPhoto left tab heh! So I guess I gotta fire up Xcode and do my first Aqua programming -- porting gqview to the native MacOS API. That oughtta be a trip :-).

Oh, for those of you who have multiple cats with multiple food bowls, do you find that your cats are picky about what order you fill the food bowls in? If I fi ll the food bowl by the wine rack before I fill the food bowl by the refrigerator, the furry beasties get all discombobulated. The Mighty Fang goes and starts eating out of the food bowl by the wine rack until Mencken shoves him away to grab a few bites, meantime I put food into the food bowl by the refrigerator and nobody's eating out of there. But if I put food into the food bowl by the refrigerator, TMF starts chowing down, while Mencken goes and waits by the one by the wine rack, I put food in there, and Mencken starts chowing down, then it's both kitties chowing down at the same time like it's supposed to be. Damned furry beasts simply do not tolerate any variation from their routine, it gets them all tangled up... hmm, okay, so sleep deprivation starts making penguins start talking about cats, photos, crack habits, and other stuff in a posting about insominia too. Babble babble babble...

-- Badtux the Sleepless Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 8/05/2007 07:12:00 PM  8 comments  

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Can't sleep. Was browsing blogs at 3am last night. Time to cut down on the coffee. Sigh.

- Badtux the Sleepless Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 8/01/2007 01:18:00 PM  4 comments  

Sunday, July 29, 2007

CRASH! Thunk!

So I just put together one of those white bookshelves from Ikea, and turned around and started clearing a spot for it. Then I hear a CRASH! I turn around and... The Mighty Fang had launched himself off the top of the kitchen counter (one of those wrap-around bar type counters) to jump on top of the new bookshelf unit to investigate, and of course since there were no books in it to stabilize it, it smashed right over into the stereo speaker and lamp on the "entertainment center". The Mighty Fang was clinging for dear life to the top shelf of the thing with his front paws, his back paws were dangling over thin air, and as I watched he slid down and went "thunk!" onto the carpet.

Total damage: I had to nail the back panels back on, they popped out when they smashed into the stereo speaker. The lamp was fine when I retrieved it from behind the stereo. A chunk of the sawdust-board was knocked out of one of the side panels, but you can barely see it from the outside, and I'll put that up against the wall in the corner to make it harder to see. All in all, the biggest damage was to The Mighty Fang's dignity. He sulked off and went to sleep on my bed.

-- Badtux the Cat-watching Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 7/29/2007 01:07:00 PM  4 comments  

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Yesterday at around 10:30AM I clicked the "Buy" button on that home studio gear that I wanted for my Macbook. About 30 minutes ago I heard a knock on my door and went to take a look. The UPS guy looked up as he was going down the stairs and waved and pointed at a big box.

Big box? But I haven't ordered anything lately except that stuff from Zzounds, and Zzounds is in New Jersey, so the stuff I bought from them yesterday couldn't be here, on the opposite coast, on the next day. And the UPS guy had done a dump'n'run, which they do only on ground shipments, so they couldn't have accidently sent it overnight (they won't release overnight shipments without a signature and besides those arrive before 1pm). So I picked up the big box, convinced that the UPS guy had done a dump'n'run on the wrong doorstep and... uhm... yeah, it was from Zzounds.

Either Zzounds has invented time travel, or they have a fulfillment house in this area. I'm betting on the latter :-). Now the bummer is that I can't check it out until I get my day's quota of work done. Telecommuting is great and all, but sometimes can be distracting, especially since I'm using my Macbook to do my real paying work and my Macbook is what I would want to plug all this new stuff into...

-- Badtux the Distracted Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 7/24/2007 02:32:00 PM  0 comments  

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Learning German

For some reason Tor is routing me out a German node, so Blogger is putting all its messages out as German. Good thing I know the Blogger UI by heart :-).

Ozzfest? Someone still goes to these things? My morning commute was a freakin' nightmare. You couldn't get anywhere near the Googleplex in Mountain View because the death metal heads were clogging the roads. Even on my KLR lane-splitting like crazy it was a slow slog. My office mates got in about 20 minutes after I did. Another plus of my motorbike in California!

-- Badtux the Apparently-German(?) Penguin


Posted by: BadTux / 7/19/2007 02:14:00 PM  1 comments  

Monday, July 09, 2007

Penguin blah update

Still feel blah. I have no idea how I could catch a cold in the summertime, but a cold it decidedly is. Not allergies, allergies don't make me feel bad they just make my nose run and the antihistamines knock that out. Antihistamines aren't knocking this out.

Gotta go, have some coffee, mint tea, and chicken soup to suck down, then take a nap.

-- Badtux the Sniffling Aching Penguin


Posted by: BadTux / 7/09/2007 09:04:00 AM  9 comments  

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Chicken soup

Since this is the Silicon Valley, I went to the local pho place and got some pho ga -- Vietnamese chicken noodle soup. I got the "small" bowl. I don't see how anybody could eat the "large" bowl at this place, the "small" bowl is decidedly more than I can eat!

Penguin still feel blah, but breathes better. Thanks, Sharecropper!

-- Badtux the Well-Souped Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 7/07/2007 09:24:00 PM  6 comments  

Friday, July 06, 2007

Penguin don't feel good

Sore throat, all blah... gah.

Too blah to even haul out a cat picture. Though not too blah to pet a cat. Mencken is resting quietly beside me, purring happily, while the Mighty Fang earlier did his catly duty of providing furry softness.

-- Badtux the Ill Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 7/06/2007 10:35:00 PM  5 comments  

Computer geeks are exciting

My brother Cooter the Suthern Penguin came over from Cooterville to visit. Cooter is a computer geek too. Here is what our day looked like:

7:30am: Get out of bed, put coffee on.
8:00am: Manage to suck down 4 cup pot of coffee. Put another pot of coffee on.
8:30am: He logs onto his laptop at the dining room table. I log onto my laptop on the futon. Hilarity ensues. Okay, maybe not. Just the sound of tapity tapity tapity on the keys, with occasional grumbling from him ("Damned Windows! Close, bastard, close! No, that's not what I wanted you to do, you stupid Microsoft piece of shit! GRRR!").
10:00am: Finally drag him away from his computer. Go to Korean grocer and get some kimchi (cabbage, radish), sprouts, and green tea, as well as buy a wok for cooking stir-fry tonite (after remembering that my last wok had started to rust and I tossed it). BTW, Korean woks are *not* the same as Chinese woks.
11:00am: Eat leftover jambalaya along with kimchi and other veggies. Return to computers. Tapity tapity tapity "why is this computer so freakin' slow? Stupid Microsoft piece of shit!". (I'm just smiling from behind the keyboard of my Macbook).
12:30pm: "Yo, dude! We're gonna miss the tour at the Computer Museum!" (tapity tapity tapity).
12:35pm: "Yo, dude? Hello? We gotta get going!"
12:40pm: Leave for computer museum
1:00pm: Arrive at computer museum. Tour.
3:00pm: Leave computer museum. Go to the Fine Palace of Tasteful Swedish Furniture, buy two of their white book-cases.
3:30pm: Find out that their white book-cases *will* fit into a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, if you tilt them right and run them at an angle with the passenger seat all the way forward (I had left the back seat at home of course). By this time my throat is hurting from drainage and I feel blah because I have a cold. Brother wedges himself behind me and we drive home.
4:00pm: Take book-cases up to apartment, lean them against wall. Go to respective computers. Tapity tapity tapity tapity.
5:30pm: Cooter sez, "I'm hungry. Let's go to In'n'Out." He is quite taken with In'n'Out, which they don't have back in Cooterville. The notion that they make the french fries by slicing up potatoes right there in front of him fascinates him, the notion that not even the ground beef is frozen amazes him, and he sucks them down. If he could, he would eat every meal at In'n'Out.
6:00pm: Get back from In'n'Out with bag of takeout. Eat.
6:30pm: Go back to computers. Tapity tapity tapity tapity.
9:00pm: Make mint tea for sore throat. Tapity tapity tapity.

Yeah, computer geeks are such exciting people...

-- Badtux the Computer Geek Penguin


Posted by: BadTux / 7/06/2007 08:09:00 PM  5 comments  

Thursday, July 05, 2007

About a girl

I am thinking about a girl. On the cusp of woman-hood, staring out upon a cold sea with goose-bumps showing on her arms and legs, I am wondering, what is she thinking? There has been a war on ever since she was old enough to be aware, a war that is increasingly a disaster and that her generation and the generations after her will be paying for, a war that has resulted in tens of thousands of crippled soldiers coming back from Iraq-nam to be dumped on the streets like so much garbage. Maybe her brother is in the Army. Maybe a boyfriend. Like so many of her generation, perhaps possessed of a cynicism and world-weariness beyond her years, as it becomes increasingly clear that her generation will be cleaning up this nightmare for the rest of her life. Is this cynicism hiding anger at the situation in which she will find herself in when she becomes an adult?

I wonder, what does she think of my generation? What does she think about how we have dealt with things? What about the baby boomers, what does she think of them? I fear that it is not going to be positive. What happens next, I wonder? Will the anger simply simmer, simmer, simmer, turning into self-hate and self-disgust as the years go by? Will she become as "bought" as my generation, leashed to our endless cycle of debt and work? Or will the destruction of the American dream by the Busheviks and their ilk result in something more explosive, more violent, more... revolutionary?

If the last, I fear for my own life and safety, for I have certainly done nothing to help make this young lady's life easier. Oh sure, I donated a few bucks to John Kerry and voted for both President Gore and for Kerry, but really, is that all that I could have done? I doubt it. I doubt it. And I doubt she thinks so, either. And really, who can blame her?

-- Badtux the Pensive Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 7/05/2007 07:48:00 PM  3 comments  

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Keeping apart

I am visiting a big city with an engineer from another state, where he lives in a small town. We are in a park in this city full of parks, on a sunny Monday afternoon immediately after eating a scrumptious meal in a gorgeous Italian cafe'. He looks around at the surrounding townhouses and condo towers and says "I don't know how anybody can live like this, with no space!"

I look at the old black man sitting on the other end of the park bench, the elderly Chinese man slowly winding his way around the track around the edge of the park, the young five or six year old Caucasian girl riding her bicycle unsteadily on that same track as her father worriedly holds his hand near the back of her seat. A pair of lesbians nuzzle each other on a blanket spread on the grass, a frat boy sunbathes on another blanket. A homeless dude lies down in the sun on what looks like half of a U-Haul furniture pad. A young Asian man performs some sort of exercise that involves headstands and various postures, and an Indian couple jabbers away while a Japanese dad photographs his spawn posing in front of the statue of Ben Franklin standing in this park. A stereotypical white yuppy family, mom, dad, son, daughter, sit on a blanket eating a picnic lunch.

All of these people live together in this big city and mix and learn and work together as one. And I realize that he simply will not understand. Because there is a distance in his life between himself and the people around him, a distance not only physical but in the heart, the same sort of distance that is in the lives of almost everybody else who lives in the so-called "heartland", and he does not understand how to live without that kind of distance. He does not understand how to live in the world, rather than apart from the world. And nothing I say will change that.

-- Badtux the Observant Penguin
Also posted in slightly different form at the Mockingbird's Medley


Posted by: BadTux / 7/03/2007 09:26:00 PM  3 comments  

Saturday, June 30, 2007

In the blogosphere, nobody ever knows where you are

Especially if you have a Macbook and a bluetooth phone that does DUN. Right now I could be anywhere in the US where Sprint offers EVDO data service... and I ain't tellin' ya.

-- Badtux the Migratory Penguin
Hmm, lots of posts about birds today!

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Posted by: BadTux / 6/30/2007 07:17:00 PM  11 comments  

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fantasy Land

In Fantasy Land, people don't need food and water and roads and medicines. People need pieces of paper with pictures of dead Presidents. In Fantasy Land, torture is not pain and suffering and useless for anything other than fulfilling the sick sado-masochistic fantasies of its perpetrators and supporters, torture is what keeps ticking atomic bombs from going off every week on the color tee-vee. In Fantasy Land, nobody dies horribly in war, guts and brains spattered across the pavement and the smell of death upon the land. In Fantasy Land, why, after the day's shooting of "Survivor:Army" is finished, the corpses get up from the rubble where they lay, shovel their guts and brains back into their abdomen and brain pan, and go meet in the shooting shed for canapes with the director and more pictures of dead Presidents to compensate them for their troubles. In Fantasy Land, soldiers are made of the finest tin, not flesh and blood. They do not bleed, they have no mothers or fathers who love them, they have no dreams of their future, they're just... tin. In Fantasy Land.

Fantasy Land is not real, of course, and anybody who believes Fantasy Land is real is, to put it bluntly, batshit fucking crazy. Unfortunately, far too many people live in Fantasy Land. Our entire society -- indeed, much of the entire goddamned planet -- has basically gone off the track into utter lunacy, where stupid power games substitute for reality and idiotic ideologies compete to see which one can kill more people with their utter disdain for, like, real life. A real life filled with real people who hurt and bleed and hunger and dream.

Ah, but we so cherish our delusions... the only good news, I suppose, is that as the rising oceans drown more land due to global warming, there will be more room for aquatic waterfowl on this planet. Perhaps when the prophet Tux the Penguin came to Earth and preached the Sermon on the Iceberg he was correct when he stated, "blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth." What can be more meek than a penguin?

-- Badtux the Aquatic Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 6/28/2007 12:01:00 AM  5 comments  

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Found my quilt!

The Mighty Fang investigates.

Yes, it's just a cheap Chinese quilt. But given the wear and tear that my kitties put upon quilts, it just doesn't make sense to put an expensive one there.

Number of stores visited:

2 Mervyns
1 Kohls
2 Targets
1 Macy's

Some of them had quilts, but not the correct quilt. They had quilts that looked like the kinda quilts that scare Evil Spock (i.e., like they belong in an Indian boudoir). They had soft pastel quilts that looked really girly-girl. They had formal Victorian quilts that made me wanna go find a starched collar and powdered wig to wear just looking at them. But finally, oh finally, The Quilt was encountered, thence to make its way to my bedroom. And yes, those are my MRE's in the corner...

-- Badtux the Quilted Penguin


Posted by: BadTux / 6/17/2007 07:47:00 PM  5 comments  

Saturday, June 02, 2007

6000 mile service

I can't believe I didn't pay someone to do this to my Jeep. I'm treating my Jeep as good as I treat my KLR, something I've never done with a car before. Huh.


  • 5 tire rotation
  • Grease all zerks with Mobil-1 synthetic grease (the tie rod end ones had to be greased during the rotation because there's no clearance between them and the wheel).
  • 6 quarts of 5w40 Shell Rotella T Synthetic. (Yeah, factory spec is 10w30, but oil analysis shows that the Rambler I-6 wants something with a 40 top end like what it was originally designed for because otherwise the iron numbers go up).
  • Mobil-1 oil filter (top quality)
Checked: Front differential fluid level (fine). Brake and clutch fluid levels (fine). Power steering fluid (at the 'add' mark, added a bit of ATF+4 to get it to the 'cold' mark). Radiator fluid (halfway between 'Add' and 'Full', made note to keep an eye on it). All the bolts and stuff that I messed with doing the Aussie locker install and the 2" suspension lift install. Belts. Hoses. Brake lines. Looked suspiciously at exterior of battery, and its 'Zero Maintenance' sticker. Rattled the U-joints to make sure they were still tight. Looked suspiciously at the upper header which appears to be rubbing on my oil pan skid, thinking maybe I need to clearance that a bit but dreading R&R on that skid which was a PITA to get in. Enjoyed the sight of all the little scratches and nicks on the underside of my Jeep, showing that this isn't *just* a mall queen, heh! Air filter looked fine, should last 15,000 mile like the book sez.

I suppose I should go ahead and check the rear differential fluid level while I'm at it. Anything else you can think of that I should check before I move my Jeep back to the parking lot and move my KLR back into the garage? (I already checked off all the stuff on the Jeep-provided service checklist).

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 6/02/2007 05:10:00 PM  12 comments  

Monday, May 28, 2007

A side discourse on camping and trail food

Minstrel Boy claimed that MRE's taste "like sawdust". MRE's are actually quite tasty, I ate several of them this trip and they were pretty yummy. He likely was thinking of freeze-dried food, which is pretty awful. But MRE's are quite heavy as well, so my trail food does not include them.

Unfortunately I make the decision to leave town with about five hours' notice, so I was not going to cook hardtack or carry hard salt bacon or do anything like that prior to leaving. I was hard pressed enough getting all my camping gear out of the plastic bins that I'd hauled back from storage the previous evening (I'd hauled it to storage when I thought I was going to move, as one less thing to move on moving day). So I tossed some MRE's into the big black bear canister for car camping, and tossed some freeze-dried and some tuna (pouch) and ramen noodles into the small bear canister for backpacking, and headed out. Luckily I like tuna and noodles. And while freeze dried is nasty, there's a few freeze-dried that taste okay either with MRE crackers (sorta hard-tackish) or with enough Tabasco. Still, if I were planning a long trip, this is not what I'd do for food.

But, alas, that is what happens when you are a penguin pining for snow and suddenly realize that there is still snow in the Sierras...

Hmm. Between the MRE's and what little freeze-dried I have left and the stuff in my pantry, I have enough food for several weeks. And the white gas, propane, and isobutane to cook it. Not bad for disaster preparedness, even if it's accidental...

-- Badtux the Camping Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/28/2007 09:04:00 PM  6 comments  

My secret place

Penguins can be antisocial. I'd had enough of people for a while. I spent the weekend out of town, in a secret place. This is not the secret place:

That narrow trail going up behind my campsite is what I drove in on in my Jeep. Yes, my Jeep has some new pinstriping. The trail is on the OHV map as an "official" Jeep trail but not on the regular Forest Service map as a road. Even though I have the stock Goodyear GSA ("Get Stuck Anywhere") tires on my Jeep still, I had no problems with traction. Four-wheel drive with an automatic locker in the front (an "Aussie Locker", worked great) and a limited-slip in the back tends to keep all four wheels pulling the Jeep along, which works a lot better than the one-wheel-drive in my old pickup truck.

Here is my Jeep: This is just uphill a bit from this: From there I went to my "secret place", which actually is not too secret -- trout fishermen know all about it. But none were there.

The next day I went up a marked and on-the-map Forest Service road to a marked and on the map trailhead. The road was aweful. There were erosion gullies in parts of it that could have swallowed one side of my Jeep, or any Jeep for that matter even the Jeeps with the big knobby tires. Only the fact that my Jeep is so narrow allowed me to get up it, I doubt a full sized truck could have done so. I reassured myself that this road looked well travelled and was a major route on the Forest Service map so it surely had to be open all the way to the trailhead at the end. Then I got near the end: The tire track you see on the left is from my Jeep, because I backed up a little to get the Jeep's fender into the shot of the snowbank. I can't straddle this snow bank in my narrow Jeep, nor bypass it on the left or right. And there are no tire tracks up here besides mine anyhow.

Yes, I was the first person this season to make it this far up. I guess nobody else bothered because usually this is all under several feet of snow this time of year. But this has been a very dry and warm year. It was around 60F outside, so this snow is going to melt. But I walked out to a meadow nearby and there was still snow lurking under the trees around the meadow too.

All in all a very beautiful and peaceful place. Peace, alas, was not to be found here. As my other posting this day should make clear.

-- Badtux the Unpeaceful Penguin


Posted by: BadTux / 5/28/2007 08:46:00 PM  2 comments  

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Mighty Fang chows down

Here is the Mighty Fang engaging in his favorite habit. Yes, those are little mostly-crunched nuggets of kitty kibble surrounding his food bowl, TMF is a messy eater requiring me to sweep up the kitchen every day. Note also the creative use of the wine rack by a non-wine-drinking penguin (heh!), and the fact that each of those squares is 1 foot square, meaning that TMF is about 2 feet long from the tip of his nose to the base of his tail (3 feet long if you include the tail). That's why he dwarfs his food bowl so badly. Funny, he doesn't look that big if you're just looking at him...

BTW, the reason I was at Safeway last night and fell prey to the double-chocolate muffins was because TMF had snarfed down the last of the kitty kibble. When that happens I do not play around, I go out and get more kitty kibble. This penguin values his life!

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/25/2007 09:06:00 AM  7 comments  

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The American diet

One blogger, who shall remain nameless, put up a label of a can of soup with the sodium number circled and said "See? That's what's wrong with the American diet! Look at all this sodium, it causes heart disease and hypertension! Our forefathers who ate natural foods didn't eat like this."

Uhm, no, young lady, what, exactly, do you think was used to preserve meats in the time before refrigeration? I'll give you a hint. It was salted and smoked to the tee.

For those of you fortunate enough to never have lived the subsistence life, I'll give you guys a little primer. Yeah, growing most of your own food is great and all. But healthy? Not really. My mother grew up in a four-square tar-paper shack in the hills of North Louisiana where they did not have electricity until 1957 or telephones until 1959. I will describe how they ate to you. I have read letters sent back home to their families by Union troops who marched through the same general area back in 1864, and it was pretty much the same.

First of all, no steak. The only cow they had was a milk cow. The fresh milk came into the house and was drank immediately before it curdled. Any that remained was allowed to sit and the milk fat skimmed off the top and put into a churn for making butter. The butter was heavily salted to help keep it from going rancid. The heavily salted butter was then put into a container and dropped in the well (at the end of a rope of course!) to keep it somewhat cool. No electricity, remember? Remember, *salt*. Lots of salt.

Breakfast was generally fried eggs (fried in saturated bacon drippings) and hominy (corn) grits with some fried cornbread or biscuits. Sometimes they had bacon. That's because they grew corn and had chickens. and while they preferred the biscuits, the biscuits required a lot of store-bought flour as well as a lot of fuel to bake so often it was a case of forming up corn mush balls with flour (and SALT) and frying them in the hot bacon fat instead. Bacon fat because hogs don't require as much land as cows, just corn, and they grew corn remember? They also sometimes had sausage. But by the time I came along store-bought flour was a sufficiently cheap commodity that the fried cornbread was only used on mornings where there was no time to bake, such as Sunday mornings, where you had to get ready for Bible school. The biscuits were heavily buttered with that heavily-salted butter. Yum, saturated fat and salt.

Lunch was the big meal here. That's because it was way, way too hot to do any real cooking in the afternoons here in the American South. Lunch varied according to the season. In the winter, dried or pickled or preserved vegetables were used. So here's a winter lunch:

(Dried) purple-hull peas (sort of like black-eye peas, but grew better in the Southern soil and climate), cooked with a hunk of dry salt pork or pickled (in salt brine) hog jowl or pig foot for flavoring and fats and salt. A big pone of cornbread. Some canned (in jars, from their own garden) okra-and-tomato pickles or canned "chow-chow" (a somewhat spicy cabbage and onion pickle). Some boiled potatoes (boiled almost to a mush) maybe with some turnips. Occasionally for a treat there would be a pecan pie, or a peach cobbler. Made with that real butter of course. And pecan pralines. Which are almost 100% sugar and butter with a little milk. Yum, saturated fat and salt!

Spring lunches got fresh turnip and mustard greens boiled to a mush in place of the pickled vegetables. Radishes added a nice little bite. In late spring, cabbage came along. Turnips were raised mostly for their leaves, because the long turnip roots don't work right in the heavy clay soil. Same deal with carrots. Potatoes only barely work, and only in certain places where you can turn a lot of leaves into the soil, and they often come out looking rather weird if allowed to grow to full size around all the rocks in the soil so "early" potatoes are the most common, but "early" means "mid-summer" here. In early summer tomatoes started ripening. The green tomatoes were battered with a salty batter and fried in bacon grease. Yum, salty fried green tomatoes! Fresh salad wasn't eaten. No lettuce. It doesn't grow well in the Southern climate, which is too humid and too much sun. No fresh greens salads. Turnip and mustard greens both have pungent tastes which they found distasteful and needed to be boiled to death before they were deemed edible.

In summer, it got too hot for the fresh leaf greens, they all bolted and died under the fierce Southern sun. The collards were still too young to get a lot of greens off of, but there was poke salad and dandelion and other natural greens that could be scavenged. The collards were boiled to death with a hunk of salt pork. Cabbage was harvested in early summer, and it too was boiled to death with a hunk of salt pork just for general principle, and pickled along with onion for the upcoming summer. By mid summer the over-ripe tomatoes were cooked down with the early okra and made into okra and tomato pickles, and fried okra (fried in bacon fat, very salty) hit the menu. If it wasn't fried or boiled to death, it wasn't food. Cucumbers came around and were the sole exception to this, they were merely pickled in vinegar brine or salted and served fresh.

Fish hit the menu from time to time, mostly in the fall after the harvest was in because spring and summer were too busy turning dirt. It was battered and pan-fried in salty bacon fat, of course, to make it healthily fat-filled and salt-filled. Also in fall and early winter was hunting season, and thus game. Deer, rabbit, dove/quail and squirrel were the most common targets. Small game went into soups and stews, deer got turned into a salty/spiced/smoked sausage mostly and served along with meals because it was too much meat to eat all in one setting and that was the only way to preserve it for a while. This was pretty much the only time salt pork wasn't a major component of the diet. Also a fall harvest of turnip and mustard greens was accompanied by melons and revitalized tomatoes (which quit making in the depths of the summer heat, but if the plants are watered and allowed to survive until fall will make lots more tomatoes before the first freeze kills them off). The collards are now waist-high. The peaches and pears and plums are bearing and preserves are being made left and right. Peach cobbler is a yummy delight. Made with lots of lard and butter and sugar, of course.

Anyhow: fat and salt were enormous parts of this diet, which was pretty much constant from the 1860's to the 1950's. The other major component was corn -- corn grits, corn bread, fried corn patties, hush puppies, corn, corn, corn. Beyond that, it was whatever was in season, or whatever could be dried or preserved, salt being an important part of preserving things (salt and vinegar brine helped keep pickled vegetables from spoiling even before pressure cookers). Other than in the spring (blackberries) and fall (tree fruits), fresh fruit wasn't on the menu. Fresh green salads were not on the menu either, due to the fact that salad greens without a pungent taste don't grow well in the hot climate and thick clay soil (carrots? Nope. Lettuce? Nope). Collards need to be immediately dropped into *boiling* water else they are bitter. Same treatment also helps the taste of mustard and turnip greens, the other two main greens grown in the garden, and makes cabbage taste a little less bitter too. Other than spring and fall, fresh vegetables generally were not on the menu either. It was pretty much beans and cornbread, peas and corn patties, corn grits and corn hush puppies, all with healthy dollops of bacon grease and butter fat. They didn't starve -- it was hard to starve as a small subsistence farmer in the rich soil and rainy climate of Louisiana -- but the climate imposed its own limitations on what would grow (e.g. leafy veggies simply won't grow in the heat of the summer, and tomatoes won't fruit), meaning the diet got pretty darned monotonous other than in the spring and, especially, the fall.

As for the notion that they ate less salt than we eat today... hah! *everything* was heavily salted, either as a preservative, or else because the preserved foods had adjusted everybody's palate to think that if it wasn't salty it wasn't any good.

In short: We have a poor diet today because we choose to have a poor diet today. We have far more choices for a healthy diet than my grandmother and mother did while growing up... but we choose not to exercise those choices. The "good old days" were not so good, when you know the real story.

-- Badtux the Elderly Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/24/2007 08:35:00 AM  14 comments  

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pizza for breakfast

So last night I get home and go to the mailboxes. I look to the side at the trash can and... what's that? Pizza coupons? I frantically open my mailbox and yes! Pizza coupons for Premier Pizza, a local high-end pizzaria!

So I hurriedly snarfed up all the pizza coupon fliers that were scattered around the mail area until I had a card deck of the things, and right there, on my cell phone, without even waiting to get home, called Premier Pizza and ordered a two-topping pepperoni and jalapeno for $10.95.

So after I get changed into more comfortable clothes I head over to Premier and pick up my pie. On the way out I see the cheese and pepper bins by the door. So I open up my pie to add some red pepper and... OMG. There is SOO much jalapeno on this thing! Okay, so no pepper needed. So I open up the cheese bin and... OMG! *real* freshly-grated parmesan cheese, not that powder crap! I hurriedly scatter some on my pie, close it back up, and head home.

Verdict: This is an excellent thick-crust pizza. The crust is light and wonderfully bread-like and obviously rose properly before having the toppings put on it. There is a *gigantic* amount of toppings on this thing to balance out the crust. The only weakness is that to avoid being soupy, it's a little light on the sauce to balance out the crust. Even with that limitation, this is a delicious and wonderful pizza.

And yet... yet... the frozen pizzas have gotten so good, that even this very worthy pizza is not going to get regular chew-downs by me. The Freschetta Brick Oven pizza is just as well balanced and its crust is even yummier, having a pleasantly toasted taste to go with the bready taste. And at the regular price of $21.95 for a large two-topping, vs. an average of $5.50 for the Freschetta, no WAY am I buying this pie at full price. It's good, but it's not that good. Even with the coupon, I think I prefer the Freschetta, though granted part of that is because I prefer thinner-crust pizzas. Still, if you are in the San Jose area and like thicker pizzas, Premier Pizza is definitely a great place to get some really yummy pizza...

-- Badtux the Pizza Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/22/2007 08:59:00 AM  6 comments  

Still swamped...

At some point in the past I mentioned the deer-in-the-headlights look that our programmers in China got when expected to do anything involving original design or creative thinking. Well, two things happened. First of all, our long-time engineering manager in China abruptly resigned and fled the country (indeed, he now is somewhere in Europe). Secondly, our VP of engineering went over and kicked some butt and told the senior Chinese engineers that they needed to step up to the plate and take ownership of the codebase that respective teams were assigned, or else why were we paying them senior engineer salaries?

And, oddly enough, they listened. Oh, they still can't design their way out of a paper bag. Their objects know intimate details of the internals of other objects in much the same way that half the males on earth knew intimate details of the internals of Anna Nicole Smith. But that isn't stopping them. They got the directive "Design!", and, by jove, that is exactly what they are doing, crap or no!

Anyhow, I'm currently overflowed with architecture and design proposals from China along with significant chunks of code supposedly implementing prior design documents that I'd signed off on, and am in the process of editing/re-writing/re-designing so that they aren't crap. So that's why you haven't heard much except the occasional snark snack or stream of consciousness navel gazing blog. Sin, redemption, salvation, and B.F. Skinner are still waiting for the significant amount of time needed to do the appropriate research for the "history of evangelicalism" part of the essay.

The only good news is that they can't keep this pace up forever. Sooner or later, their well of crappiness is going to run dry. On the other hand, that's what we thought about Danielle Steele too. That was 70 crap novels ago.

The final solution, though, is the usual one: Penguin cloning. Or at least hiring another penguin to help oversee the overseas. Now I expect to hear from the "cloning is immoral!" crowd, who tend to be either tighty righties or loonie lefties... sigh!

-- Badtux the Design Penguin

Reminder: Anything you read here about my personal life may be fictional. Heck, you don't even know the real names of my cats -- yep, even my cats blog under pseudonyms! So if you're looking for clues as to who I work for in the above message, be aware I may have set some red herrings for you and that things may not have gone down exactly as I said. Herring. Yum. URRP!

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/22/2007 12:23:00 AM  4 comments  

Monday, May 21, 2007

Cleaning house

It takes exactly four hours to clean this 1 bedroom apartment. And in the 1 1/2 weeks since the carpet people shampooed my carpet, my cats have shed a vacuum cleaner container full of hair. And some people say my cats are lazy and don't do anything? Hey, if there was an Olympic contest for shedding, they'd win the short-hair category paws down!

Went to Wally World because they have a 30 day supply of my allergy medicine for $6. Near the medicine area there was a small skinny Asian girl, around 9 - 10 years old, wearing a t-shirt that proclaimed "Give me chocolate". Now that is a sentiment I can agree with. So after I got my medicines I headed over to the chocolate area to stock up on some Ghiardelli's. She was already there, of course, enthusiastically educating her bemused parents about the various chocolates. This old penguin can appreciate folks who know the important things in life, of which chocolate decidedly is.

Downstairs trailer trash continues being trailer trash. The (illegal) daycare kids she is paid under the table to watch are leaving trash all over the place and she never budges from in front of her television where she is watching the telenovelas at high volume in order to police the tykes. She treats her patio like a redneck treats the front porch of his trailer house, complete with sofa with stuffing poking out of the cushions. AGH! The only good news is that the "Affordable Housing" voucher people don't last long here, so I'll get another trailer trash neighbor downstairs soon enough. In case you're wondering, landlords are required to set aside a certain percentage of apartments for "affordable housing" here in order to get a building permit, it's a deed restriction that goes with the deed forever even though my apartment complex is on its third owner, and there's a whole mini-industry built around certificating and vouchering the lower-income folks who qualify for the "affordable housing" apartments. Oh well, at least it's just one apartment being trashed, not the whole complex. But now I understand why low-income housing projects always look so trashed. I'm sure she's a perfectly nice human being, but pride? Nope, she ain't got none of that.

One of the things I've figured out about The Mighty Fang is that he has no fear. None. Nada. Whatever I'm doing, he's underfoot (or worse) trying to "help". He just "helped" me make my bed, to the point where I had to pick hi up bodily, put him out in the hall, and shut the door. WHich brings up an other issue. My grandmother sewed quilts. She must have sewn over a hundred quilts between age 55 and 70 which she slowly gave away over her last 15 years of life. If you remember the photo of the cats on my bed, you may have noticed the colorful quilt. That is not one of her quilts. I have a couple of her quilts, but they are carefully stored in my closet because they are irreplaceable and cats tend to be hard on quilts. Still, I want a quilt on my bed because, well, because. Even if it isn't one of hers, it's right. So anyhow, I need another quilt. The cats have pretty much shredded the one on my bed. But I checked out a few places where you might expect to find a quilt, and nada. Does anybody know where to get a reasonable-priced quilt somewhere in the San Jose area?

And now I lay me down to sleep...

-- Badtux the Meandering Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/21/2007 12:29:00 AM  7 comments  

Monday, May 14, 2007

Yes, back in the traces again

The Employer(tm) is paying the penguin an obscene amount of money to hack Linux. So the penguin is back in the traces again. Heave! Ho! Heave! Ho! No no, not the ten dollah type, penguins have a different way of doing things.

Will be back home tonight. The results probably will not be posted until tomorrow though.

Meanwhile, consider the Canadian Quarters of Mass Destruction, which is surely as evil a story as the cowboys of mass destruction one. It's surprising that Canada's dollar coins are called "loonies" when that should more properly apply to our politicians in Washington. We are truly ruled by idiots. Insane idiots, at that.

That is all.

-- Badtux the Working Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/14/2007 01:29:00 PM  2 comments  

Thursday, May 10, 2007


The most endearing, frustrating, and horrifying attribute of the human race is the search for easy answers to complex problems. Whether it is the easy answer of "kill the Jews" for the complex problem of Germany's poor economy in the 1920's, or the easy answer of "kill the abortion doctors" for the complex problem of abortion, or the easy answer of "conquer their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity" for the complex problem of maniacs running airplanes into skyscrapers, Mankind will never stop searching for the winning lottery ticket in the answer sweepstakes.

But sometimes there aren't any easy answers. Sometimes there aren't even any answers at all. Why did my father have so much sorrow in his life, and such a horrifying end? Why do some men turn to lives of violence and hate? What is going to happen to me in the near future? The easy answer, "it was God's will", is just that -- an easy answer. The universe is infinite, and the notion that we meat animals with our limited grey meat brains are capable of comprehending more than the tiniest part of the infinite is so staggering an act of hubris that it is a wonder that the Creator does not just strike us all down with a blazing series of lightning bolts.

Back to thinking bloggers. This is It may be a blog by a sloppy dog lover, but that's okay, this cat lover reads it anyhow. Why Now gives a nice perspective on the news. And then, hmm... ah yes. I suspect I need to narrow down a representative of that mighty supervillain The Gay Agenda for the final candidate, but which one? A distressing number of blogs on my right margin are created by The Gay Agenda with his evil gay ray gun of gayness that, like, shoots out of television screens and TURNS OUR CHILDREN GAY !!! OH THE HORROR!. Shall it be Mustang Bobby? 42? Hmm...

But there are, unfortunately, several bloggers who have fallen prey to the easy answers fallacy who have fallen off the list of thinking bloggers. There is one ornery old coot who goes around snorting "Who cares, it's all monkeys." Yes dear. And you're a monkey too. What's your point? More distressing is a blogger who is a co-blogger of mine at another site who is much more thoughtful person, except he is always falling for easy answers too. Autism on the rise? Easy answer: It's the vaccines! The 9/11 attacks were awefully convenient for the Bush Administration? The towers were brought down by explosives! Early-onset Alzheimer's runs in the family? Here's some magic herbs that'll stop Alzheimers! Sadly, his once-vibrant blog has become almost unreadable as his quest for easy answers to complex reality removes all skepticism and willingness to consider alternative points of view.

Which reminds me of another young man. This youngster has fallen for easy answers also. He spouts the easy answers given to him by his elders, generally in the form of a simple statement that over-simplifies a complex issue and a scattering of Bible verses that "support" that simple statement, yet refuses to consider the wonder that is the Infinite. He, too, has fallen prey to the fallacy that there are easy answers to life. In his case, the easy answer is to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, at which point everything becomes simple and you do not need to consider the complexities of the Infinite any longer, you simply act as a soldier of Christ bringing a scattering of simple statements issued by your elders ("the Truth") to the rest of the population. But the Infinity that is the Creator is far vaster than the contents of any book written in human language. The notion that the bags of water and meat called "humanity" could begin to comprehend more than a tiny portion of the Infinite is such an absurd notion that it doesn't survive the giggle test. One day this young man will find out that reality cannot be encompassed by easy answers. One day this young man will discover that what he thought was "The Truth" is just a small part of the Infinite, and that the faith that he professes encompasses only a small part of the infinity that is the Creator. Then what? I don't know. What, you thought I had easy answers too?

- Badtux the Not-easy Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/10/2007 10:04:00 PM  16 comments  

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Flowers for Algernon

For some reason, I am thinking of that oft-banned book. I wonder why.

-- Badtux the Connections Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/09/2007 11:58:00 PM  2 comments  


I have another birthday in a few days. This birthday will be special. I will be the exact same age that my father was when he first displayed symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer's.

Within two years he was unable to work. Within five years he was in a nursing home. Within ten years he was dead. He was 54 years old when he died. Not much older than a cousin of his who similarly died of early-onset Alzheimer's.

I might hope to have inherited my mother's genes here. All of my mother's relatives remain clear-headed until within a year of death. But I don't know about that. I inherited my father's quick mind -- my mother and her relatives have heads of wood. Did I inherit the defective gene that makes the brain suddenly disintegrate in an otherwise healthy man? I don't know, and that gives me yet another selfish reason to wish for a national health care system that actually works. The only reason my father got the care he got, which was as good as was possible with the knowledge and technology of the day, was because he was a Korean War veteran and thus could use the VA system. If it happens to me... Louisiana's public health care system is a shambles due to the loss of 20% of its beds in the Great Katrina Flood, Medi-Cal is a disgrace, and besides it would be a year before I received any care due to disability and might very well be dead in that time. Perhaps that would be better. I don't know. It certainly would not be very dignified, in any event.

Of course, the right wing's answer to this is, "if you're no longer capable of working, you should just shut up and die." The notion of We the People getting together and in a spirit of Christian charity taxing ourselves in order to provide care for the least amongst us does not appeal to them at all, because the only moral value they truly hold, in their tiny little bitter hearts, is "I got mine." The spirit of Jesus Christ, who once famously said that a rich man could no more enter Heaven than a camel go through the eye of a needle, does not live in their hearts. Their other answer is that you should join a church and receive care from your church. That is just another way of saying "I got mine", since these people rarely join a church themselves, and if they do, never donate much of their income to the church. Most church-goers that I know are solidly working class, just poor schmucks going through life thinking they're middle class even though they aren't. It is sad, but true, that the lower one's income, the larger the percentage you donate to charity. A person with $10 is more likely to donate $1 to charity than a person with $1,000,000 is to donate $100,000, even though he can afford it least. But the working class schmuck knows, "there but for the grace of God goes I", and gives what he can. The person with $1,000,000 says, "suckers! I got mine, I'll never be a charity case!", and gives $1 just to say he gave.

In other words, I do not think you can be rich and truly a Christian. Because if you were truly a Christian, you would have given it away to those in need, as Jesus counselled doing.

A week ago someone nominated me as a "Thinking Blogger". I am flattered. I am also supposed to nominate other bloggers as "Thinking Bloggers". That will require some thinking on my part. There is the Quaker Agitator, of course, who is always thoughtful. But he has already been nominated by so many different people that he must be tired of it. There is the warrior bard Minstrel Boy who is thoughtful in a different way, the thoughtful of a man who has seen and done many things in his life, learned many things about himself over his lifetime that he perhaps does not necessarily want to know and acquired wisdom the hard way one scar at a time, and spends his time trying to do the right thing despite his uncertainties about the existence of a Creator. Beyond that... I am not, tonight, doing too much thinking I guess. Too much thinking about mortality, and the transcience of human existence.

There is a place Minstrel Boy went for his own birthday. I have been there, a place where there is water in a desert wilderness, the remnants of old orchards, a few relics of an old ranch hidden beneath the brush slowly decaying into nothing. It is the perfect place to ponder the transcience of human existence while alone with nothing more than your own thoughts. This weekend, though, I think I will take a different trip. I will drive to the Caltrain station and catch a train to San Francisco. I will walk the streets and watch the people. And in the end, I will be no less alone.

- Badtux the Older Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/09/2007 10:43:00 PM  5 comments  

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My penny whistles got here!

Yep, sitting here waiting for the carpet guys, and UPS does a drop-and-run!

I got three whistles -- a Clarke Sweetone, a Walton Mellow D, and a Walton Little Black Whistle. Physically, these things are smaller than a recorder, with the Clarke being the tiniest. Yes, the breath control practice with the recorder definitely carries over to the tin whistle. The fingering is different, of course. The penny whistles are much easier to skirl at the higher register than the recorder is. But these whistles each have their very own character.

The Clarke Sweetone is just a sweet whistle. It's really easy to choose which register you want to be in. If you want to stay in the low register, it's easy to stay there. If you want to go up to the high register, blow harder and do whatever it is you do inside your mouth to get there, and it's similarly easy to skirl away up there. (I dunno what's happening up there, I just kept practicing until it worked). It has a pleasingly "chiffy" sound.

The Walton Mellow D is similarly easy to work with, though a little harder to keep in the low register on the lowest D. As you'd expect from its name, it has a quite mellow tone, a bit bland compared to the Clarke. I think of it as a Clarke on weed :-).

The Walton's Little Black Whistle isn't so little (it's about the same size as the Mellow D, but with a smaller fipple or mouthpiece and slightly smaller in diameter tube). This one is a pain. It doesn't want to stay in the low register. It's great for skirling around in the high register though.

My instructional books came in from Amazon yesterday, so now I'm all set! Not that I'm waiting to read the books, I'm having fun skirling away right now. Given that the average price of these little instruments was $5.95, this is the most musical fun for the buck that I can think of, except maybe a harmonica (but most cheap harmonicas are pretty irritating because virtually all of them have at least one reed that's out-of-tune and irritates the trained ear, while all of these penny whistles are at least in tune with themselves).

-- Badtux the Skirling Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/08/2007 10:11:00 AM  6 comments  

Monday, May 07, 2007

Weather redux

Wow. What's up with this weather? 92 F in Santa Clara. This is a place where, until 1990 or so, nobody ever bothered with air conditioning because the climate was so mild. Last week it was in the 50's here. Now it's in the 90's?!

I wore my mesh motorcycling gear riding to work this morning. This evening it'll come in handy. Last week I didn't even ride to work, because it was cold and dreary and drizzling rain. Hmm....

-- Badtux the Weather Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/07/2007 11:07:00 AM  5 comments  

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I'm not fat, I'm just big-boned

Yeah right, cat. You aren't big boned. Look at those spindly little rear paws on ya. You're fat. And me saying that doesn't make me some mysogonist anti-feminist penguin either, since you're male, so you can just quit whining about how I'm being mean... you're sixteen pounds of fat cat, cat!

Sorry about missing my cat blogging yesterday. Work intervened, and I didn't get home until around 9pm because I needed to get some test cases working over the weekend. As I noted earlier, I recently got a gigantic pay increase and new responsibilities at work and while it's not the sort of environment where I'll be working more than 45 hours a week in a typical week, when stuff needs doing it needs doing.

Hmm, you can see two of my colorful new throw rugs/runners that I found, one at Target and one at Ikea (evil! evil! evil! went in for one thing, came out with $100 of other things including the most luxurious set of sheets that was $45 all by itself!). Hairball season is pretty much over, and the carpet cleaners are coming next week to shampoo my carpets to get the cat yakk out, then I am going to place these things in all the most popular places for my cats to yakk so that hopefully they'll catch the yakk during the fall hairball season when they shed their summer coats and put on their winter coats. I wish I could train them to yakk into their litter box. Sigh. Anyhow, my iceberg is getting more colorful, you'll need sunglasses if it gets any brighter!

-- Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/05/2007 08:52:00 AM  5 comments  

Friday, May 04, 2007

WTF is with this crazy weather?!

Dudes, it's May 4. The rainy season here in Northern California ended a week ago, which is why it was sunny and 80F outside a week ago. WTF is with this 56 degrees and raining stuff?!

-- Badtux the Damp Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/04/2007 02:06:00 PM  3 comments  

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Driver problems

Well, as promised, yesterday a) the maintenance guy came and swapped out my kitchen faucet, and b) I signed the lease renewal on my current iceberg dock. Ah well.

The following EMAIL was sent by an engineer to a techical support person. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

The problem is that the MAC filter in the network chip is not being properly programmed by the driver under certain circumstances, thus cutting off traffic because the MAC filter is set up for a MAC that our software isn't listening for anymore (generally the original hardware MAC). The purpose of the hardware MAC filter in the network chip is to reduce the number of network interrupts coming into the system to improve system performance, but in this case it's reducing it to zero! I know that version 1.0.1 had the issue. I *believe* it was fixed for 1.0.2, but Abel was the person formally responsible for the fix and Baker or Charlie would have done the code review on the fix and thus know what release it made it into, I'll need to check to make sure. Anyhow, tcpdump "wakes it up" because tcpdump turns off the MAC filter by placing the network driver into promiscuous mode. This "works", but kills system performance.

If you have the 1.0.2 release notes handy you might want to take a look at them. I will be in the office in an hour or so depending upon what the crazy automobile drivers are doing (I looked outside and the road is wet so there may be freeway clogs) and if the 1.0.2 release notes do not answer your question I will be able to verify for certain whether the fix made it into 1.0.2 via looking at the CVS change logs. Hmm, yes, the freeways have driver problems too. Unfortunately the freeway driver problem isn't fixable with a driver fix, unless you consider forced sterilization of bad drivers via branding iron prior to reproduction to be a "hot fix", which unfortunately has a very long debug cycle time to verify the proper operation of the hot fix and thus isn't feasible no matter how attractive a hot fix it appears on some mornings.

Branding irons. Fixing bad drivers with. Prior to reproduction. I like!

-- Badtux the Bad-driver-hatin' Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 5/02/2007 09:25:00 AM  1 comments  

Monday, April 30, 2007

Well, so much for the "moving" thingy

After Crazy Anti-Cat Lady's house, there's nothing on the market for a decent price. So guess I'll just fork over the $150 rent increase. Woe is me, except...

My boss called me in to his office with a look of concern on his face. I go "uh-oh." Well, sort of. Bottom line -- I'm not fired. In fact, I'm not only not fired, but I'm being given a significant pay increase and significant new responsibilities. Which means less blogging on my part, but (shrug). Anyhow, bottom line is that a) I'm not going to have time to do any moving, and b) money isn't any reason to move anymore. So tomorrow I'll go over to the office and sign a new lease and get my concessions for early lease renewal (a $100 Safeway gift certificate, a "free" storage locker or storage room, and a "free" carpet shampoo).

In other news, my recorder practice is coming along. I still have problem holding the low C, and I can't move up the whistle to the higher octave past a certain point without squeaking between octaves, but I'm starting to get a bit of breath control. I ordered several penny whistles today (different brands, they're so cheap there's no reason not to just go ahead and get a collection), I suspect my breath control practice on the recorder will translate well to the penny whistle. I also have a bunch of penny whistle tutorial material and song material transcribed for the penny whistle on the way. I just don't like the sound of my recorder. It sounds... plastic. Which it is. It's a Yamaha that has good reviews in a number of places, but I guess reviewers of recorders don't have very high standards. Or maybe I just don't play the right kind of music for this sound. Who knows. Anyhow, more whistles on the way, so one of them is certain to have the kind of sound I'm looking for...

- Badtux the Subdued Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/30/2007 07:57:00 PM  5 comments  

Saturday, April 28, 2007

On the other hand, do I really want to move?

Okay, so it's an apartment. So I got an "affordable housing" lady living downstairs who watches a brood of screaming kids all day (1 bedroom apartment BTW), has toys and cardboard boxes and old junky indoor furniture piled up in her patio like some redneck house with a sofa on the porch, and the kids are little ruffians who keep jumping over the patio fence and tearing a path through the landscaping outside the patio (BTW the junk on the patio is completely against the rules, and she's going to be gone in a few months because of that, but that's how long it takes to evict an "affordable housing" resident, sigh... unfortunately to get a building permit in this town you have to dedicate a certain number of apartments to "affordable housing" voucher people or you don't get a permit). The duo next door would get a '10' in the Bedsprings Olympics, if you know what I mean, complete with OOOH AHHH OOOOOOOH sound effects and the occasional SCREEE! of joy.

But at least the guy with a Dance Dance Revolution upstairs moved away. And while the garage is small and isn't connected to my apartment, at least it's a garage and big enough for my motorcycle or even my Jeep. And if it's expensive... well, this morning I went to the office and explained that the spray wand on my kitchen faucet wasn't working right and sometimes my kitchen faucet itself stopped working. A few minutes ago I got a call from the maintenance office, saying that they knew what was wrong, and that they were going to replace my kitchen faucet next week, they would get the faucet Monday and replace it Tuesday, because it wasn't worth the trouble of changing out the cartridge when half the time it would just tear right back up within a few weeks anyhow. So they would just change the whole thing out.

No begging on my part. No hassles. No incompetent coming up to my apartment and going "doh, I don't know what's wrong." Just service. And that's how it's always been, whenever I had a maintenance problem here. Crap, do you know just how rare that is?!

-- Badtux the Iceberg-dock-pondering Penguin


Posted by: BadTux / 4/28/2007 01:58:00 PM  5 comments  

If only I was 30 years younger...

I would want this girl to have my babies. A 16 year old girl running down three thieves who'd stolen a purse and a laptop computer while wearing a tiara, prom dress, and combat boots? Only in San Francisco!

And BTW, I watched the interview on the TV news. Erin Schrode is a tall skinny kid who does not give off a lesbian vibe, more of a Lola Granola vibe if you remember your Bloom County. Not that this penguin really cares.

I wonder if she's related to the small teenage girl who recently ran a race as fast as niCK (who is an experienced long distance runner) -- barefoot, without breaking a sweat. Hmm, no, wrong geographic location (Montgomery AL vs. Marin CA). Still, makes you wonder what they're putting in girls' water nowdays heh!

-- Badtux the Elderly Pervert Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/28/2007 12:34:00 PM  3 comments  

Furry alarm clocks

So something wakes me up about 7:10AM. F***, it's a g**d*** Saturday, I flip the alarm to wake me up at 8:30AM and roll over and try to go to sleep. Vaguely I hear the thunder of little cat feet. Cats chasing each other again doing their morning exercises, I suppose...


Huh? What was that?! I try to roll back over and go to sleep, but then I hear... CLICK CLACK CLICK CLACK CLICK CLACK ...

Oh f***. Fur-bearin' varmints have knocked the floor fan over. I groan and get out of bed and yeppers, the throw rug that was under it is in a pile, my desk chair that was next to it is several feet away where it got flung probably by kitties jumping onto it then off of it at high rates of speed, and the fan is on its face under my computer desk. So I pick it up and go searching for the culprit... "It wasn't me! I was busy drinking from the toilet! And if I did do it, I was drunk!". Uh. Ohhhkay... "Not me! I was busy, uhm, oh yeah, playing the guitar!"

Gah. You're not supposed to be playing my guitar either, silly kitty!

Oh well. I'm awake. Even though that's a tragedy at 7:30AM on a Saturday morning. Frickin' furry alarm clocks!

-- Badtux the Wide-awake Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/28/2007 07:43:00 AM  4 comments  

Friday, April 27, 2007

Penny whistles and iceberg docks

Hmm, after Minstrel Boy recommended the penny whistle ("tin whistle", "Irish whistle"), I find that Wikibooks has the beginnings of a book on the subject and there's entire web sites devoted to the instrument. There are literally dozens of penny whistles available for cheap from $3 and up from lots of places.

Reading various reviews on various sites it looks like lots of people like the Clarke's Meg whistle for beginners because a) it's cheap ($3?!), b) it's easy to play, c) it sounds quite, well, Irish. For an even more Irish sound some folks seem to like the Feadog (available for under $10), but apparently it is somewhat harder to play for a beginner. Crap, I'll spend $3 for a whistle and five times that for instructional materials just to have another musical instrument around the place (it's not as if I have any shortage of the things anyhow, though of course Minstrel Boy's guitar collection is probably bigger than my whole instrument collection, but then I think he has a room of his house for his guitars :-).

Anyhow, just wish to thank Minstrel Boy for introducing me to the penny whistle. I suspect I shall be practicing Gaelic airs in California canyons shortly :-).

Regarding an apartment or house to dock my iceberg, I may just re-sign to the current dock. Yeah, they're raising the rent by $135 per month. But looking around at the local market, it looks like this isn't much above market rate, other than the crazy anti-cat-lady-who-advertised-cats everybody else seems to be advertising about $100 per month less than the new rate, which doesn't make it worthwhile to move. Plus I note that I get a "free rentable storage unit" if I renew before May 19. Hmm. I need to see exactly what that means. Maybe a place to store these new musical instruments...

-- Badtux the Homeless Musical Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/27/2007 01:45:00 PM  3 comments  

Death notices

This is about three people who died this week. Two people's death made it into the news. One person's death was noted only by members of a particular community of geeks and nerds.

David Halberstam wrote the book The Best and the Brightest about the lies that got America into the Vietnam War. JFK's brain trust, certain that they knew better than the American people what the best interests of America were, decided to lie to the American people rather than tell the truth. Because if they told the truth, then the American people would not support going to war in Vietnam. The result was that once the lies were uncovered, American support for the war collapsed and Americans never believed their leaders again when it came to Vietnam, even when their leaders were right. A similar book could be written about the lies that resulted in America going to war in Iraq, except the title of that book would probably be The Dumb and the Dumber, where solid "C" students and graduates of two-bit Bible colleges decided that telling America the truth would not result in America supporting war against Iraq. David Halberstam was killed in an auto accident in Palo Alto this week while being driven to the airport after a seminar on his work. He was 73 years old.

Jack Valenti was the long-time head of the Motion Picture Assocation of America. He is most famous for three things -- abolishing the Hays code and thus allowing movies with high levels of sex and violence to appear on-screen if rated accordingly, suing Sony for creating the VCR saying that the VCR was "to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone" and would destroy the movie industry, and suing a small magazine for daring publish vulnerabilities in the encryption scheme used for DVD's saying that if DVD's could be copied it would destroy the movie industry. It's not really clear if Valenti was ever right about anything but he was an influential lobbyist who often appeared on Capital Hill to make outrageous statements like the Boston strangler one in support of whatever agenda the big movie studios wished him to support. He died of a stroke yesterday. He was 85 years old.

Fred Fish is the guy whose death didn't make the news, I learned about it from one of Fred's former business partners. Fred was an engineer at Motorola in Phoenix in the mid 1980's working on compiler technology for their new microprocessors when a new computer called the "Amiga" came out. Fred started collecting public domain and freeware for the Amiga and distributing it as floppy disks and floppy disk images via the UUCP network (a predecessor of the modern Internet) and via mail, the "Fish Disks". He also wrote a backup program for the Amiga called "BRU", which is still being sold for Unix systems today though he sold all rights to it long ago. Fred did a lot of work for Cygnus Consulting on the GNU "C" compiler and debugger in the early days when they were porting Richard Stallman's original VAX-oriented GNU "C" compiler to other architectures, and was often paid with Cygnus stock, eventually holding a significant number of shares. When Red Hat bought Cygnus, Fred got a bunch of money out of it, paid off the house, bought a big boat, and lived his dream of cruising around the world. Fred and his wife had just moved to Idaho when Fred died.

I worked with Fred's son when I lived in Phoenix, and met Fred a couple of times. Fred was one of those fireplug-built guys who was almost as wide as tall, built sort of like a short football lineman. I didn't really interact with him except to say hello and thanks for all the Fish Disks, but from all accounts he was a nice guy. I guess all I can say is goodbye and thanks for all the fish. Fred was 54 years old.

- Badtux the Life and Death Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/27/2007 12:10:00 PM  2 comments  

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Trying to master a new instrument

The recorder. No, no, not the tape recorder. The musical instrument.

C'mon, how hard can it be, the 4th grade kids at the last elementary school that I taught at mastered it, right? Piece of cake!

Except I can't seem to make the stupid thing behave. It wants to SQUAWK and squeak and squeal. Sometimes I can get the right sound out of it. Other times it sounds like fingernails scratching down a chalk board.

Sigh. Back to harmonica. At least with the harmonica the only way to make it sound bad is to clog it with your spit...

-- Badtux the not-woodwind-playin' Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/26/2007 11:10:00 PM  8 comments  

Grrr crazy landlady...

Well, the house rental fell through. Turns out the landlady is nuts. First she tried to insert an illegal clause into the lease regarding non-refundable fees because she didn't like cats yet advertised she accepted cats. Then she refused to put any kind of reasonable early termination clause in the lease, which was not acceptable to me because I've had to exercise such a clause twice in the past twenty years, once for the move from Houston TX to Lafayette LA, and once for the move from Wilmington NC to Phoenix AZ.

So this penguin is once more looking for a new dock for his iceberg somewhere in the South San Francisco Bay area (South Bay or Peninsula only, thank you!).

-- Badtux the Dock-less Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/26/2007 04:40:00 PM  11 comments  

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spring shedding

I'm not dusting. I'm de-furring. What I can't figure out is how shelves of my bookshelves (and the tops of my books) can accumulate such a collection of fur, when my cats never get on those shelves. Unless they furtively sneak up there at night when I'm not looking...

-- Badtux the Temporarily-furry Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/22/2007 03:14:00 PM  3 comments  

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Yay! I got the house!

The property manager for the house I looked at yesterday called me back this morning and said I was the winner in the rental sweepstakes. My lease starts on May 1. So if I don't post much for the next couple of weeks, it's because I'm packing everything up so I can weigh anchor and move my iceberg over to the new digs, yippee, moving is SUCH fun! Anyhow, I'm going to be 1 mile from Santana Row, 3/4 mile from Safeway in the other direction, 1 1/2 mile from downtown Willow Glen, and 2 1/2 miles from the Pruneyard and downtown Campbell, and 3 blocks from Stevens Creek Blvd and tons of shops and stores and restaurants. It's 1 mile from the Los Gatos Creek bikeway, 2 blocks from a great Korean restaurant, 1 mile from the light rail station, one BLOCK from one bus line that goes to the downtown San Jose bus station, two blocks from two other bus lines that go to downtown San Jose, one block from the I280 freeway, 3/4 mile from the CA17/I880 freeway, 3/4 mile from a local motorcycle accessory shop, ... location, location, location, baybee!

I hope she didn't think I was laughing at her when she called me this morning. She's a late-middle-aged Asian grandmother, and she was giving me advice. Like, "You should buy a house! I saw your credit and income, you can afford one, why rent?" And "You need to advertise your lease at your current apartment on Craigslist, you will rent it right away! Why pay money for the rest of that lease when you can get someone to take it over? You're wasting money!" The reason I was laughing was because late-middle-aged Asian grandmothers are always giving me advice, all the way back to my college sweetie, a Chinese girl whose grandmother was always giving me advice, and even the waitress at the Chinese restaurant down the street and the haircutter who cuts my hair are always giving me advice. Maybe they just think penguin-Americans are such cute and befuddled-looking beings that they will just wander out in traffic and get killed if they do not have a Chinese grandmother to watch out for them. Whatever it is, I find it hilarious that, even in my advanced age, they're still giving me well-meaning and sincere advice, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with why they're interacting with me or even if it's not necessarily in their own financial best interest (hmm, if I bought a house, I couldn't be renting one from her, could I?).

-- Badtux the Well-housed Penguin

PS - I've been checking out the restaurants near my new place. YUMMM!!! This penguin shall have no problem at all maintaining his pleasing rotundity!

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/19/2007 01:18:00 PM  7 comments  

Monday, April 16, 2007

I owe, I owe...

it's off to work I go. But not without dropping tax forms and a check made out to "IRS" into the mailbox. Sigh.

-- Badtux the Poorer Penguin


Posted by: BadTux / 4/16/2007 09:15:00 AM  4 comments  

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Great balls of fire!

I tried making the Penny Stove today. I didn't have a Heinekin can so I tried to jerry-rig it using soda pop cans. The first time I tried to light it, a ball of flame exploded out of it and threw the penny halfway across the kitchen and singed my feathers. After that, I couldn't get the #$%@ thing to stay lit.

Because of this failure, I decided to turn it into a Trangia-style open-center burner with liner. But when I went down to my garage and fetched my Dremel tool to do the cutting, the power switch finally died (it had been on its way out for a while). Sigh. Oh well, the thing is 15 years old and I've used the stew out of it over those years, so it was about time it died. So off to Wally World I went to get a new Dremel tool along with some epoxy (don't fuss, Wally World is the closest place that stocks them and with gasoline at over $3 per gallon I'm not going one inch further than I must!), then off to the grocery store to pick up some drinks (to get another supply of aluminum cans to chop up) and frozen pizzas (for the next round of pizza testing).

So now I'm going to build a Photon Stove, but using the penny valve rather than a screw. Hopefully I won't have another explosion...

-- Badtux the Singed Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/14/2007 09:27:00 PM  3 comments  

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Indianapolis is bad for your health

In one of those ironies, the City of Indianapolis chooses Kurt Vonnegut's book Slaughterhouse Five as their "Book of the Year" and as part of a city-wide celebration of Kurt Vonnegut's life. And half a continent away, only hours later, Vonnegut croaks.

Vonnegut was one of many Americans of the WWII generation who objected to what their country has becoming, bemoaning in his last book that the America he grew up in and loved was dead, that he was now a man without a country, marooned in a foreign land of dead dreams and lies that occupied the same general geographical area as what was once America but had now turned into a mean and vicious place where hope was dead and dreams were tiny little things, pale shades of dreams, a new car or a a few cents an hour raise at your job or hoping you don't get fired tomorrow or don't get sick in this new and meaner America where if you don't have health insurance, you die if you get sick. In his final years, clearly ill and dying, he still made the rounds of the talk shows to thump his book and make his point to national audiences.

And no one listened. Because he was, after all, a man without a country, a man whose dream, the American dream of a better place with liberty and justice for all where no child need go to sleep hungry or cold, is dead and gone and replaced with the dream of a boot stamping upon a human face, forever. A dream where we stamp upon the untermenschen, those who are not like us, those who are poor, those who are children and therefore helpless, those who have done nothing but exist and breathe the same air as us. The dream of a vicious, mad people who will die, in the end, but whose possession of the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet will undoubtedly take the rest of the world with them.

When dreams become nightmares, there is no place for people like Kurt Vonnegut to remind us of an older America, a better America, an America which may not have been perfect by any means but where people were not afraid to dream of a better America and a better world. It is perhaps fitting that Kurt Vonnegut checked out only hours after news of this award in his honor. How better to crack a huge joke upon the people of Indianapolis and elsewhere?

And so it goes.

-- Badtux the Vonnegut-readin' Penguin

Note: A better version of this story is up on the Mockingbird's Medley.

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/12/2007 01:00:00 AM  11 comments  

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Guess I better do'em and get the check in the mail, eh?

-- Badtux the Taxed Penguin


Posted by: BadTux / 4/10/2007 01:54:00 PM  2 comments  

Monday, April 09, 2007

Where's today's political post?!

I just took a double dose of the above medicine and am quietly reading a novel while cuddled with my kitties. Sorry, the snark is taking a couple days break.

-- Badtux the FIA Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/09/2007 06:25:00 PM  5 comments  

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Rant: dyed lubricants

So you get a little of that Mobil 1 synthetic grease on your shirt. No big deal, you say? It'll wash out in the laundry? *WRONG!*. That shit is dyed red, and it just dyed your shirt red!

So you get a little of that Royal Purple synthetic gear oil on your jeans. No big deal, you say? It'll wash out in the laundry? *WRONG!*. Royal Purple just *LOVES* that purple dye shit, and your jeans are gonna be purple until the day they fall apart!

Now, I don't wear good clothes to wrench my Jeep or KLR, for obvious reasons. The jeans I'm wearing right now have a rip just below the passenger side front pocket, for example, where they caught on a piece of sheetmetal and the only way I could get out of there was to pull until it gave. But still, it'd be nice if these a-holes realized that I really don't feel like lookin' like a clown every time I go down to wrench my vehicles. I mean, c'mon. Blue and purple and red and grey? Might as well stick a freakin' red nose on my face!

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/08/2007 11:48:00 AM  1 comments  

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


World Nut Daily has a breathless headline, "Left spews deadly venom over Tony Snow's cancer!". Unlike the venom NOT spewed(hah!) over Elizabeth Edwards's cancer, I suppose. But anyhow, I checked The Left's website, and didn't find anything over there about Tony Snow's cancer, so I dunno what World Nut Daily is talking about. Maybe they found some lefty somewhere in the Kos comment sections saying nasty things, I don't care enough to click on the headline to see the "story".

You'll notice that I have not mentioned either Tony Snow's cancer or Elizabeth Edwards's cancer previously on this blog. That's because cancer is a decidedly non-snarky subject, especially terminal cancer such as liver cancer or bone cancer. I had a relative recently die of bone cancer. It was a horrible and painful death. I've had a relative die of liver cancer. Another horrible and painful death. It seemed neither decent nor appropriate to in any way mention these people's condition, fate, or comment upon how they intend to deal with their condition.

Cancer is not a joking matter, and decisions made in the treatment of cancer, or in how to live one's life during the period of time between being diagnosed with terminal cancer and becoming too sick to continue functioning, are not decisions that I or anybody else should be second guessing. It is shameful that these two people's seperate ordeals may become political footballs, and if any of you out there are tempted to do so, I have just one thing to say: Stop. Just stop. For the sake of simple common decency, just shut up. It's not your business, or my business. I realize common decency ain't so common nowdays, but for the sake of all that is holy and decent, please just stop. That's all.

-- Badtux the not-snarky-at-the-moment Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/28/2007 10:07:00 AM  5 comments  

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I am the world's slowest mechanic

I just spent six hours doing a one hour job. Is that sad, or what?

This morning I went to Harbor Freight Tools and Kragen Auto Supply to round up the supplies I needed (or wanted) for the job. Actually, when I go to Harbor Freight I buy more stuff than I need, but that's another issue :-). I ate some Pho while I was in Newark's Little Vietnam where Harbor Freight is. Yum. That's good stuff. I love all the great ethnic food you get around here in the SF Bay area. I was in the mood for some chicken soup... and pho is the Vietnamese version of chicken soup (if you get it with chicken that is :-).

Then I came home and started working on my Jeep... and working... and working... slow, slow slow. And I can't even say that I did it any righter than Joe-bob down at the local garage. I overtorqued a jounce bumper spacer and probably cracked it because I was mis-reading the torque table in my factory manual (why, oh why, do these guys play hide-and-seek with the torque values? Just askin!), and while the other issue I ran into was a case of a poor quality bushing on the part of the shock vendor (I'm supposed to put 50 ft/lbs of torque on the lower shock mount? Nuhn-uh, that collapses that cheap-ass bushing!), it wasn't much fun to deal with. Probably got about 25 ft-lbs on the replacement bushing (luckily there was a spare in the box the shock came in!) and then it's a case of hoping that red thread-locker does what it's supposed to do.

Oh well. At least I torqued my rear lug nuts to 100 ft/lbs after I finished putting in spacers and changing out shocks. My Jeep now has an eager rear sticking two inches further in the air than it was sticking this time yesterday. Next up: I get to do the front. I expect that it's going to take me all day tomorrow to do the front too... Thankfully, I have my motorized mule so I'm not transportation-less. I can haul a *lot* of groceries between the Givi hard bags and a big duffel bag strapped to the back seat!

-- Badtux the Greasy-flippered Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/24/2007 08:39:00 PM  6 comments  

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Project Silver Demon

As long time readers know, a silver demon forced me to buy it back in December. It's been four months now, so it's time to farkle the thing. I just finished installing a CB radio with a Firestick antenna (which I mounted on top of the 3rd brake light over the spare tire), wiring up an auxiliary fuse block under the driver's side dashboard for that and for the rear power outlet (once I find it in my electrical junk box, I bought it for another vehicle and never installed it on that one!). So now for the fun parts:
  • 2" Rubicon Express budget boost -- spring spacers, shocks, and bump stop extensions. I already killed the OEM shocks, which are truly aweful and just did not stand up to washboarded fire roads (they puked their oil out and have mostly quit working -- sheesh, American quality at its best!). This will get the belly "shovel" 2 inches further off the ground as well as replace those piece of crap Chrysler shocks that I killed. $230 for shocks and spacers.
  • Because I have to take the front swaybar links off anyhow to get the springs out so I can put the spacers on top, JKS front swaybar disconnects -- useful in certain offroad situations to help keep both front tires planted on the ground. $130.
  • 32"x11.50 B.F. Goodrich AT KO (All Terrain) tires. These are the big ticket item, $145 apiece (!!!) plus mounting and balancing. I already shredded the sidewalls on the piece of crap Goodyear tires that came with my Jeep. These have much tougher sidewalls and will add another inch of clearance under my pumpkins and under my Jeep.
  • Cragar Soft 8 steel wheels. These have a slightly different offset than the OEM wheels so that I can fit the wider tires without hitting the shock tower at the rear or rubbing the sway bar at full turn on the front, and are much sturdier than the P.O.S. OEM cast aluminum wheels, which would shatter if a rock ever hit them. $35 apiece.
  • Aussie Locker "lunchbox" locker for the Dana D30 front axle. This gives more traction when offroad in 4x4 mode, but is utterly invisible when onroad in 2 wheel drive mode. Combined with the limited-slip in the rear axle, I get the best of both worlds -- good on-road handling and good off-road traction. $230.
All of this is chosen to preserve handling stability on-road (the wider tires and wider-offset wheels have the effect of widening the track, thus keeping the Jeep stable even though it's going to be 3" higher off the ground) while improving offroad capability. The bottom of my Jeep wouldn't have its current assortment of gashes and scrapes if it was 3" higher (heh! Famous last words!). But the folks running 35" tires and 5" lifts and such will just sneer at my little Jeep. Let them sneer. At least I won't flip over on my side turning into my driveway like their over-tall unstable heeps will!

Of course, to pay for this, I'll have to ride my motorcycle to work for the next six months so that I can save money by getting 50mpg (at $3.30/gallon 50mpg vs. 15mpg adds up, sigh!). Oh, the lengths to which a penguin will go to have a comfortable ride along forest roads and desert trails!

Oh - I'm doing all the wrenching on this myself (except mounting and balancing the tires of course, that's what tire stores were invented for). What, you think I'd let some heathen touch my silver demon to do something like this?! Sheesh! Greasy flippers are a small price to pay for knowing that the job was done right by someone who cares!

- Badtux the Greasy-flippered Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/21/2007 12:15:00 AM  4 comments  

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Nutritional crack

Little Caesar's Pizza opened an outlet three blocks from me. $5 for a hot pepperoni pizza, no waiting, any time of the day.

It's a conspiracy, a conspiracy I say, to increase this penguin's rotundity!

-- Badtux the More-rotund Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/14/2007 08:28:00 AM  3 comments  

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring forward

This is the time of year where it is always a PITA to reset the clocks on the VCR, microwave, stove, stereo, etc. However, last fall I had a nifty idea: Why bother resetting those clocks? Since most of the year is spent on DST nowdays, why not just leave them set to DST? Just remember when I looked at them that they were an hour ahead!

So now all the clocks in my house all say the correct time again, and I didn't have to do a thing! No digging for the microwave manual and the stove manual and the stereo manual and etc. to figure out how to reset those clocks, just leave'em alone and presto!

Am I a genius, or what?

-- Badtux the Practical Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/12/2007 02:42:00 PM  8 comments  

Sunday, March 11, 2007

To the folks in the next apartment over

If you're going to have loud energetic sex at 12:30am, could you at least move your bed away from the wall so it isn't going bump bump bump bump bump against the wall behind my head?

Thank you, this has been a public service from your neighbor the penguin.

-- Badtux the Woken Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/11/2007 12:32:00 AM  9 comments  

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Carrying my kitties to the kitty doctor

Wish me luck. If you don't hear from me, watch for news reports of a Jeep found mysteriously sitting by the side of the road with two very satisfied looking cats and a lot of penguin feathers.

-- Badtux the "They don't like kitty doctors!" Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/07/2007 07:53:00 AM  5 comments  

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I survived jury duty...

They didn't call me. SOB! I just had to check a web site twice a day for a week to see if they wanted me to report. Not that I would have been chosen for a jury -- it's a "jury of peers" and hey, how many penguins are subjected to trial by jury? A penguin on the jury of a people trial just doesn't work out! But it's nice that I'm finished for a year with that silliness.

In other news, I got a new tent, an ultralight one-man tent (no link, not sure I want to recommend it yet). Last night I set it up to seam-seal it. Because it was raining outside, I set it up in my living room, using string and weights to take the place of stakes. The Mighty Fang was much help in tying the strings (not!).

-- Badtux the Judicial Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 2/27/2007 06:55:00 PM  2 comments  

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Loser of the day

I don't know who is the bigger loser, the dude who turned up the volume on a porn movie so loud that his neighbors could hear the porn star screaming and moaning, or the dude who grabbed a sword and went on a rescue mission to save the lady who was screaming upstairs, breaking in the first dude's door and waving the sword around as he looked for the woman in trouble.

Awe what the heck. Let's make it a tie. They're BOTH Losers of the Day.

-- Badtux the Amazed Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 2/22/2007 02:55:00 PM  10 comments  

Monday, February 19, 2007

Back from my backpacking trip...

There's nothing like backpacking into the wilderness with all of civilization being the 30 pounds on your back to realize just how nice civilization is. Especially grocery stores. I took enough food for three days. I finished it all by the end of day two. I must be the only penguin in existence that can actually gain weight while hiking 20 miles a day with 5,000 feet altitude gain both ways (don't ask -- I swear that this particular park defies the laws of physics here!).

Anyhow, other than blistered feet (forgot the Right Guard to sweat-proof my feet!), I'm back, and intact. Meanwhile, let me tell you a little story about tents, and condensation.

I have Eureka Zeus EXO tent. It's about 5 years old, and well used. This is a large 2-man tent, but very lightweight (under 4 pounds) because it is a single-wall tent built with coated nylon ripstop rather than with polyester. One day a couple of months ago I managed to "force" one of the poles and it split at the end. The whole tent is looking rather faded, so it looked like it was time to buy a new tent rather than get a replacement part for the old one. The nylon fabric these things are made of is UV sensitive and decays with time, and I'd rather replace it after five years than risk the thing totally failing when I needed it.

So anyhow, I look for a replacement tent, and they've replaced the Zeus EXO with the Zeus LE. The Zeus LE has two doors rather than one. It has two top vents rather than one. It should ventilate better than the EXO did. Not that I had any problems with the ventilation of the EXO, mind you. But still, seemed like a reasonable thing to pull the trigger and get the new LE.

BIG mistake. I went to the exact same location, under the exact same conditions, with the LE and found out a few things:

  • All tents condense on the inside of their outer fabric when the air goes below dewpoint. What matters is how well they keep the wet fabric away from you. So let's see how well the two tents do that:
    1. The EXO had your head at the all-mesh door that was between you and the vestibule fabric. It had side flies that started about a foot and a half up at the head, and came down to the foot corner on the side. All that could get wet was your feet. Big deal.
    2. The LE only has about six inches of mesh at the head. It is easy to rub the wet fabric above it with yoru head. On the left and right of your head is the outer wall. It is easy to roll over and rub your head on the outer wall. BAD news.
  • The Zeus EXO already required an astounding eight stakes to stake it out -- four at the dome corners, two for the vestibule, and two to pull out the side flies. The Zeus LE requires *TEN* (10) stakes to stake it out -- four at the doam corners, four for the two vestibules, and two for the end flies.
  • If you have the vestibule open on the EXO to get more ventilation, you can still put your boots under the remaining half of the vestibule to keep the mud and dirt out of your tent. If your vestibule is open on the LE, your boots are out there in the open ready to get full of water if it rains or dew if it gets below dewpoint.
  • The LE is a *very* complicated design, with lots of little pieces of fabric stitched together. This gives it lots of places to leak. Which means lots of places to work seam-sealer into the stitching. Which means lots of places where you can miss getting seam-sealer into the stitching and thus get a leak :-(.
Progress? Hardly. The Eureka Zeus LE simply *sucks* compared to the EXO. The Eureka marketing department looked at the common complaints about the EXO -- that it only had one door (the one at the head of the tent), that it needed more ventilation (true, it can get a little stuffy in there with the vestibule closed), and then they completely ruined it. Part of the problem is that they were working under a strict weight budget and thus, for example, could not make the side flies wide enough to fully protect the side walls. Part of the problem is that they were working under a strict dollar budget and thus could not go to a more lightweight fabric. And part of the problem is simply lack of imagination on the part of the Eureka engineers.

The good news is that Eureka apparently realized that they screwed up. On their website it appears they have discontinued the Zeus LE in favor of resurrecting the old Zeus EXO as the "Zeus Classic". The "Classic" still has the same flaws that led to the LE redesign -- the ventilation is still poor when you close the vestibule and it still only has one door -- but at least it isn't dangerous when it's damp outside. Not that this matters to me anymore. I've decided to eBay the Zeus LE to someone who lives in a desert (where condensation isn't an issue) and get a tent that weighs an entire 23 ounces, and only needs six stakes to set it up, not eight or ten. Yes, the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo weighs an entire 23 ounces, or roughly 1 1/2 pounds... now that's more like it when ya have to haul your entire house on your back!

Anyhow, now you know why I'm a conservative (of the old fashioned sort, not one of these big-spendin' big-war-makin' neo-conservative types). You don't take a reasonable design (like the old EXO) and just throw it away and start over from scratch. You look for little ways to improve it, ways that will address the biggest flaws without totally discarding the good parts. The ventilation could have been improved, for example, by making the vestibule vent slightly larger and the top vent slightly larger to get better cross-flow through them. There was no need to simply re-do the entire tent and risk ruining it. Yet that is what they did. Similarly, there was no need to invade Iraq and get involved in a gigantic nation-building scheme, when sanctions were working fine at containing Saddam's ambitions. If it turned out that the sanctions were leaky, the conservative thing to do would have been to re-tool the sanctions to give them more teeth. Yet taking the huge risk of invading Iraq, a risk which George H.W. Bush had warned about ten years prior, is exactly what the neo-cons did rather than taking the conservative choice of tweaking what was already working. Conservative? Hardly! Bah humbug!

- Badtux the Backpacking Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 2/19/2007 09:44:00 PM  4 comments  

Friday, February 16, 2007

On the banality of Norman Vincent Peale

Norman Vincent Peale's philosophy can be summed up by the last scene of "Monty Python's The Life of Brian", where Brian is hanging on the cross dying and the whole chorus of dying people is happily singing "Look on the bright side of life." In that respect, it is similar to many Oriental philosophies, which advocate looking beyond worldly things to the spiritual. It is, fundamentally, the philosophy of someone with no hope and no courage.

It's a nice philosophy if you're living under a Confucian dictatorship with no hope of changing the conditions under which you live, or if you are a mouthpiece of men of wealth and power who want you to convince the rabble to not overthrow their oligarchy, or if you're hanging on a cross dying with no hope and no future. It is not, however, the philosophy of a free man who is both ready and willing to stand up for what is right and oppose that which is wrong. A free man must be willing to be outraged by injustice, applaud courage, worry about those in need, and otherwise experience the full gamut of human emotion. Otherwise he is but a tool.

If you wonder why I am no big fan of "spritual" approaches to life, that is it. Life is a mean, nasty, dirty, ugly business for far too many people both in our nation and elsewhere. Until you acknowledge this, until you bother your beautiful mind with reality, there can be no hope for the better.

- Badtux the Philosophy Penguin


Posted by: BadTux / 2/16/2007 05:51:00 PM  2 comments  

Friday cat blogging

Yum, finger! The Mighty Fang fetches a snack.

-- Badtux the Fingerless Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 2/16/2007 02:00:00 PM  3 comments  

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Fuckity fuck fuck

Just disqualified myself from working for a political campaign. Good!

I was going to go camping with my new tent. But it is raining outside. Now, I hear you saying, "No duh, it's the rainy season in Northern California. So? You're an aquatic waterfowl, what do you care about rain?" Well, granted, rain just beads up and rolls off of my fine feathered carcass (thanks to the wonders of Marmot and Outdoor Research and Gore Inc.), and the gear in my backpack is either in heavy-duty utterly waterproof kayaking drybags or doesn't care if it gets wet, but still. I am wimp. Hear me whimper.

Of course, it's not *entirely* paranoia. I set the tent up in the living room of the apartment where my iceberg is currently docked and ran a line of seam sealer across the major seams, but I probably need another coat or two of seam sealer on the seams before I can really trust them not to leak. And sleeping in a leaky wet tent is just plain miserable. But it would just be miserable, not dangerous. I am such a wimp...

So I curl up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate. Hey, don't misunderestimate the danger of a cup of hot chocolate! Why, if I set it down on the futon beside me as I blog from my notebook computer and accidentally spilled it, it could soak my clothes and cause burns! Oh the dangers I put myself through for your sake... what can us say, us fowl (penguins and chickenhawks) must make sacrifices. Why, maybe I'll even put pants on sometime today! (Which of course is more than the brave cheeto-stained-finger warriors of the 101st Fighting Chickenhawks, 1st Chairborn Brigade, will do as they blog from their mommy's basements in support of a war they refuse to fight in, but still).

Oh, as you may have noticed, I'm back on my old ugly template. The new one I tried out just could not be made to work across all major browser platforms. I finally got it looking good under both Firefox and Opera, but then it broke under Internet Exploder. Sigh. Back to Web 0.9 (i.e., table tags).

-- Badtux the Cocooning Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 2/10/2007 09:45:00 AM  5 comments  
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Name: BadTux
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I am a black and white and yellow multicolored penguin making his way as best he can in a world of monochromic monkeys.

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