Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Make a Wish

The Make-A-Wish foundation is one of those special groups of people. For those who don't know they grant a 'wish' to kids that are living with a life threatening disease. A lot of these are trips to Disney with the occasional new computer. These folks have a special place in our hearts.

So today while reading the latest posts at Blackfive I ran across a story about a wish being granted. Take a look at this.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

What if God was one of us?

As a believer I think He is everywhere affecting our lives in ways we'll
never understand. Or maybe it'll take some time for it to sink it. If
thats the case I still trying to figure out what taking my Mom 19 years
ago this month was for?

Sometimes its just the decisions that you make. You find out that had
you not exited to get gas that you might have been in the massive car
accident that happened a few miles up the road a couple of minutes
later. Is it all part of a master plan? I think so but given all the bad
things that have happened to my family and the people I love I sometimes

While this is my life it seems very close to one of my favorite shows on
TV - Joan of Arcadia. A high school girl who talks to God. Face to face.
And He (well sometimes a she) talks back. The writing is excellent and
His lines are just perfect. Worth 40 minutes (Tivo or video and skip the
commercials) of your life once a week.

Isn't it funny?

That the Democratic canidate for President, who voted for the initial assault weapon ban in 1994, and who pushed for renewal of the ban this year as it was expiring, has now admitted to owning one? Yep - John Kerry, in the October issue of Outdoor Life magazine stated ''I don't own one of those now (a M-16), but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle.''

Hmmm. One has to wonder how Senator Kerry acquired one of these? Was it brought back from Viet Nam? If so would that action have made him subject to a court martial? Kerry is a "registered gun owner" in Massachusetts but how can someone who can't see a reason for me to own one of these guns own one himself? Can you say hypocrite? I knew you could!

Now an aide gave the quote to the magazine. And the AK47 has turned into a bolt action rifle. What a hack...

Monday, September 20, 2004

One way to remember a hero

I think the term hero is overused. To me a hero is one who puts others above him/her self. There are everyday heros - firefighters, policeman, and paramedics come to mind. Think about it - each one of these professionals goes to where the bad stuff is happening. People like me are usually going the other way.

I cringe whenever I hear an athlete referred to as a hero. These poor folks, playing a game for a living. Some making millions a year. To play a game. Very poorly at times. Granted that some of these players are heroic on the playing field but rarely does there 'sacrifice' go beyond the game. Some pro athletes give much of their time and money off the field to charity. That is admirable. Not quite heroic but incredibly admirable.

To every rule there is an exception. On April 22nd, 2004 a true hero died. A man who had it all: playing pro football, multi-million dollar contract, everything he had worked for. He died in Afghanistan fighting for the country he loved. Pat Tillman gave all.

As a football player he was intense. After the attacks on 9/11 he decided to serve so he joined the Army. Walked away from all that he had. And then became a Ranger. One look at the Ranger motto - "Rangers Lead the Way" makes it clear that Pat would be a Ranger as he led. No following, no getting in the way, just leading.

So what can I do to make sure that someone like Pat Tillman isn't forgotten. It's pretty simple really. And it's cheap. NFL Shops now has Tillman jerseys and proceeds benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation.

As a Bears fan it will be difficult to not wear the my teams colors but a Tillman jersey will be the right thing to wear.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Bears Win!

Lovie said he'd do it. Way back in January he said that the Bears would beat the Packers. And they did. I watched bits and pieces while waiting for paint to dry. I kept waiting for Farve to be his usual self and throw for 3 touchdowns in 2 minutes but it just didn't happen. The Bears just didn't give up!

Thing1, who never watched football with me, went to a Bears-Packers game party in the basement of his dorm. Watched the whole game with a bunch of guys from all over the campus. And had a great time. Even though the Bear fans were out numbered they got to yell a lot more.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Big Day for Thing2

In our church each step of a childs spiritual development is called a Faith Stepping Stone. Thing2's step tomorrow is to get a new Bible for confirmation. And a letter from the Wife and I. Thing2 is a bit nervous but once she gets into it she'll have fun, learn, and get a little closer to God.

I remember my confirmation class. What an unusual bunch for Paster Keopke to handle. But we had fun. Trips to Hyde Park, Confirmation Camp, and honest discussions about faith. Now if I had only listened...

Hopefully Thing2 will.

3 weeks so far

We went to visit Thing1 at school today. Brought him some requested
supplies as well as a few gifts. He seemed pretty happy.

He seems to have grown up in the last 3 weeks. There is an air of
confidence about him that wasn't there before. Still likes to hug
everyone and the Wife kept hugging him whenever she could but he's growing.

Luckily no sign of the freshman 15 (or 20). He's out walking everyday
for exercise and trying to eat better. Good kid that one.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Assault Weapon Ban - R.I.P.

It's amazing the number of people who thought that this referred to 'machine guns'. Normally intelligent people believe the crap shoved at them by CNN and the like.

I had this conversation at lunch today. We were out doing our usual walk (2.2 miles) and Wayne and I were talking about the latest on Dan Rather and his fall from Grace. Cele commented that she wished that Bush had signed the bill (that didn't exist) to extend the ban on assault weapons. Knowing that her husband was a shooter I asked why? Her answer: Machines guns are bad. So I explained the difference and after a few minutes she understood. Another light turned on. One at a time. Now to just get her to register to vote...

I love to walk!

First job

Thing1 never had a real job while in high school. He applied for several but they just didn't seem to want him. Their loss. So as part of his financial aid package for college we had him ask for to be part of a work study program. Not a lot of hours but enough for him to have an investment in his education.

His first day of work was Tuesday. So he was up for class early and work didn't end till 9:30 at night. Long time for someone who had never worked before. The boy sounded wiped. He also sounded like he accomplished something. He may get something other than an education out of this yet.


Sign in front of a Christian School in Geneva:

Always Say A Prayer

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

PowerPoint $#%^!#$%*&

One of the joys of my job is that I get to create presentations for
meetings on occasion. Usually a couple of slides about a security
vulnerability or maybe about something we doing with our Active
Directory or maybe the latest news on the mail systems that my team
manages. While I don't really like doing these its part of the job.

So after putting the first coat of primer on the new bathroom walls (and
seeing all the little flaws I have to fix) I get to sit down and finish
a poster for a conference that I don't even get to go to. :(

Slides are a piece of cake. Most of the time it takes an hour or so to
put together a 10 minute presentation. Not being in to the fancy
animations and sounds I work on content. I wish more presenters would do

Back to the poster. Using PowerPoint to make something 2 meters by 1.5
meters is interesting. Not recommended on a laptop with a 14 inch screen.

    I sent my boss the poster. Too many hours spent for someone else to present but you do what you told to. I guess it's pretty good as he made it public and let his management know. Hmm... stock options?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Clueless local columnist

I like the local paper - The Daily Herald. For the most part the news is
reported fairly. However the liberal bias so present in the media shows up in the locally sourced op-ed pages. On the eve of the assault weapon bad ending a person by the name of Burt wrote his column
about this subject.

Here is what I sent to the letters e-mail address.

It's hard to know where to begin. There are so many 'facts' presented without any reference it seems to be a segment on 60 Minutes.

From an attempt to scare people with the line "threat 10 times more deadly than the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001" to the NRA being referred to as "gun manufacturers and their shill, the National Rifle Association." Burt pulls all the strings that liberals attempt to use support their position rather than facts.

Do most Americans support the assault weapons ban? Probably as they are mistaken about what is actually banned. TV reports show fully automatic weapons being discharged (strictly controlled since 1934), suppressed weapons, and references to armor piercing ammuntion. Unknown to these people none of these are part of the (former) ban. The ban covered 19 specific models of guns and defined what made a 'assault weapon'. When intelligent people have the law explained to them support drops.

As for law enforcements support - I've never met a police officer that supports gun control. I'm sure they are out there but they must not be on the street. I wonder if they are the ones with political aspirations doing their best to stay in good graces with their bosses.

The DC sniper reference was a interesting attempt at, once again, scaring people. Would Burt have been happier if a old west style lever action rifle had been used? Oops - can't blame an 'evil assault weapon'. I think I'll place the blame where it belongs - on the shooter.

Then the reference to hunters needing 29 shots to kill a deer: why? What does hunting have to do with the subject. Most people that I know that have weapons that could fit the definition of a 'assault weapon' shoot at paper targets. It's something we do for fun. To relax. To spend time with our friends and family.

The admission that current gun control legislation is weak is the usual left wing whining. 20,000 laws addressing firearms are on the books in the United States. And Burt calls for more. And the new lefist line about Al-Qaida manuals advising purchasing AK-47's. It seems strange to me that a deep cover terrorist would do anything to draw attention to his or herself like legally purchase a gun. Given the porous borders of the U.S. it seems that it would be easy enough to bring in whatever
weapons one wanted to.

The most humorous (to those with a clue at least) line was probably the one that included 'put more powerful weapons in the hands of more Americans...'. In this Burt showed his complete and total lack of knowledge about firearms. The so called 'assault weapons' are no more powerful than commonly available hunting rifles. Then again - maybe he's just trying to scare people.

The assault weapon ban was a joke. It addressed how a rifle looked. It did nothing to address crime. The only way to reduce crime is to address it as the social problem that it is. That is how drunk driving was reduced. The same approach could work for crime in general. Regulating a tool that requires human intervention to operate is useless.

Will it get printed? Who knows...

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Real sharp stuff

Knives are man's oldest tools. And one of my favorites. I've had knives of my own since Cub Scouts and can't remember too many times since I've been an adult that I've not had a knife on me.

I'm not much for the fancy, hang on the wall or hide in the safe art knives - I like knives that I can use. While I have a few of the fancier knives they just aren't me.

With that in mind I headed off to my first knife show - the 1st Annual Chicago Custom Knife Show. Who knows what excitement awaits?

I paid my entry fee and walked in. Over one hundred tables. People to talk to, knives to drool over look at, and just soak in the atmosphere.

I walked the room taking a quick look at everything - making mental notes as what needs a second look. I met knifemakers from all over: from South Africa to Sweden to Canada to all over the US. I met a knifemaker that is a buddy of one of my co-workers. He and his charming wife were great to talk to. I got to handle knives that cost what I make in 3 months. They were works of art. And the makers just wanted to educate me on every little detail. Even when I was upfront and told them that it wasn't my style of knife. Just wonderful people.

The wife doesn't share my feelings about knives. I can't even say it's a guy thing because I know lots of women who like knives. So it seemed strange that the first thing I bought was a bracelet for the wife from Jot Khalsa. I picked up a small fixed blade from Pat Crawford, some supplies from Koval Knives, a letter opener from Robert Rossdeutscher, and a new sharpener. I would have bought more but cash was running low. Had the Strider Knives folks had been selling one of the knives they had on display I think I would have been hitting up the ATM.

All in all it was a fun experience. Can't wait for next year. Since money will be tight (college bills add up...) I'll be on a limited budget but it'll still be fun.

One thing I noticed - the makers that were upbeat and engaging the customers were selling knives. The ones that looked like they wanted to be anywhere but there - well as nice as their knives were that had no customers. That smile goes a long way...

Where were you

when the world stopped turning - that September day? (Apologies to Alan

I was at work. Talking in cube land. Then one of the guys walks in and
says that he heard on the radio that a plane hit one of the World Trade
Towers. I'm thinking - ok some private plane went out of control and and
hit one of the building. Bad but not terrible. So back to the office and
I start cruising the web looking for news. Response was really slow. My
work has (at that time) a pair of OC-3 lines to the public internet.
Things were slow everywhere I went looking. CNN, FOX, MSN, whatever.
Finally came across a news page that confirmed that a passenger jet hit
the tower. So I called home and let the wife know. She was just on her
way out the door but stopped to watch the tv. At this same time I found
a live feed from the BBC of New York. We both saw the second plane hit.
I don't think I've been the same since.

I was watching a review of the coverage on Fox News this afternoon. I
was doing ok with the coverage till the people started jumping. I can't
imagine what kind of hell you would have to be going through to
jump to a certain death.

My boss and a couple of co-workers were traveling at the time - out in
California. I was supposed to run a meeting that afternoon. Yeah right -
totally unable to focus. I just wanted to hug my kids and the wife.
Muddled through the day and went home and did just that.

Thing1 said that school was pretty quiet that day. They had the tv's on
in the rooms and were watching the coverage. Thing2 said that teachers
talked about it but tried to keep the students minds occupied.

Thinking back to that day - I was pissed. I wanted blood. And I
still do. I have to wonder if we (the U.S.) didn't invite this type of
attack by the lack of retaliation for the first WTC bombing or the
attack on the USS Cole. It seems that the Islamafanatices thought we
were just going to take it like we had previously. Maybe launch a cruise
missle into the desert. Wrong. W kicked the SpecOps guys loose in
Afghanistan. (Read 'The Hunt for Bin Laden' for more details) The Talban
are gone and millions are free.

I still want blood. When every terrorist that wants America destroyed is
dead - I'll stop wanting. Some may think that this line of thought
contributes to more hatred of America - I say no way. These people hate
our freedom, our lives, the fact that everyone has the right to pursue
liberty and happiness. No guarantees but the right to pursue is there.

And thanks to the men and women (and thier families) who put the uniform
on, who put their asses on the line, who sacrifice so much every
day so that we can live our lives as we do, we will survive. We will
prosper, and we will help make the world a better place.

Friday, September 10, 2004

A different way of learning

Life is unusual. Thing1 is what some people refer to as 'gifted'. He was
identified as such in grade school and attended pullout schools and
academies throughout high school. Some was good and some not so good.
The high school academy was supposed to be science and technology. It
was some bad teachers and lots of lousy hardware. Teachers who just
shouldn't be there are guiding the best the district had to offer down
the wrong path. But Thing1 survived. I think that this experience had a
lot to do with him wanting to pursue a career in education.

Thing2 is the polar opposite. She has Aspergers Syndrome. It has been
described as a high function form of autisim. It seems similar to that
for me but I'm not sure. She has had special education assistance since
preschool. And just like Thing1 some were good and some were not so
good. Now that she is in middle school - well we were worried. After a
meeting with the school principal and the special ed staff the other
night our worries are gone. The school has its act together. They are
dedicated to ensuring that the kids under their care learn to function
in the real world.

Thing2 has really taken to the program. This should be a good two years.

Crazy Worship

Actually it's Praise and Worship. It's the place to be at Thing1's school on Thursday at 10:00 pm. An hour of giving thanks and glory to God that the young (and young at heart) love to go to. It gets to my heart and soul unlike most traditional services - at least at my church.

The wife likes traditional church - hymms and the liturgy. (she coined the term, at least in our house, Crazy Worship) I like the liturgy but prefer more modern music. We belong to a ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) church. It used to have mostly traditional services which we enjoyed at that time. Our church has morphed into a mega-church wanna-be. I'm not sure it's what I need anymore.

Thing1 was the reason we started back to church. We had promised at his baptism to place the Word of God in his hands, teach him the Creed and the Ten Commandments. So when Thing1 was 3 we were back in church and Thing1 started a new part of life learning about God. Over the years there has been sunday school, pagents, something called Midweek Mania for 5th and 6th graders, Confirmation, and then finally high school small groups and Quake events. He grew in church. And it shows. He just has it together. Not perfect but, I sometimes wish I had it together like he does.

The only thing Thing1 didn't like about it was the music. Thing1 likes rock. And punk and the blues. Traditional hymms just don't stir him. At a PrimeTime retreat he went to a seminar with (the awesome) Peder Eide that was titled "I want to praise God but I can't stand the hymms!". Thing1 would go to the traditional service but always wanted more.

Well - he found it. Crazy Worship Praise and Worship gives him what he needs. And that is all that matters. Getting closer to God - however you do it is a good thing.

To quote Peder "God is good. All the time"

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Computer Security 101

One of my hats at my employer deals with computer security. Not necessarily physical security (although as a system administrator I think about that too) but with protecting the computing infrastructure that I'm responsible from crackers, viruses, and clueless users. With a bit of planning and thought it's a lot easier than it seems. However if one acts without thinking then bad things happen.

At work computers are not allowed on the network without the proper security patches applied and, if the OS supports one, a real time antivirus scanner. if one is caught on the network it gets blocked pretty quick. If the same user keeps doing it then management gets involved. While I'm a 'senior person' I'd just as well stay out of managements line of fire when bad things are happening. Unless I get to figure out what happened. Thats fun stuff! And fodder for another story.

Now Thing1 is off at college, having had the computer staff there check his computers for up to date patches and AV software before the were allowed on the net. Given the problems some colleges have with viruses I can see their point. So I got a good laugh today when Thing1 called me at lunch (family time cell packages are real handy!) and said he had stopped down at the computer lab to inquire about a job and the staff
was battling a virus outbreak. Seems one of the staff put a students PC on the public network to patch it and it had a worm of some kind and it started hitting the network. Hard.

This broke a couple of basic computer security rules. Never, ever, put a unknown computer on a public network until you are sure there are no viruses or worms on it. Then you patch it (off line). Once you are sure that it has no viruses or worms and that the mandatory set of patches are installed do you put it on the net. And then you check it again. I prefer the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyser for Windows systems but there are other ways.

Save the Internet - keep your systems patched!

Johnny got a gun

So John Kerry got a Remington 11-87 shotgun today from a member of a
labor union in West Virginia. Strange thing is that S 1431 (Kerry is a
co-sponsor) might ban this gun depending on how the term "pistol grip"
is defined. If you look at a picture of a 11-87 it has a grip for the
trigger hand that is similar to a old dueling pistol but nothing like a
more modern weapon.

I wonder if the proper forms were filled out to tranfer the weapon
legally? Wouldn't it be funny if JK transported the weapon across state
lines without doing the paperwork?

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Saturday - What a day

Actually it was quiet around here. Working on the bathroom removing ceramic wall tile (and the drywall beneath it) so that we can paint. The rest of the world wasn't quite so peaceful...

Former President Clinton needs a quadruple bypass. While I hope he has a speedy recovery I can't help but think of the old SNL skits with him out jogging and hitting a McDonalds to discuss politics.

BESLAN, Russia
300+ dead. Over half are kids that will never get the chance to grow up and live life as they should have. Is there any doubt that the only good terrorist is a dead one?

Hurricane Frances
I've been through severe storms. In just about every state I've been in. (a vacation tradition) Around here they are usually over in a couple of hours. Sometimes a bad storm will give us a couple inches of rain in a day. Frances is dumping an inch a hour. I was watching Fox News this afternoon and Geraldo was leaning into the wind to stay on a beach. Having been to a number of the places being shown I was amazed at the damage. Even more amazed at the number of people out in it.

Some things are just annoying

John Kerry
Since when does pointing your voting record and publicizing your written and spoken statements fall into the attack and smear category? What a whiner!

And some are just a way to spend a little time doing next to nothing

Watched 'Ella Enchanted' with the wife and Thing2. Cute movie. So much of the humor was directed at adults.

Blue Collar TV is funniest show I've seen in a while. Scrubs is its usual excellent self. Father of the Pride was, well um, bad. Almost as much excitement as a John Kerry campaign speech. Rescue Me is getting better every week. Now if I just didn't have to wait till January for 24 and Alias

W Reloaded

While watching W's acceptance speech I kept thinking of the "I Believe" statements at the end of "Blue Collar TV". Every time W started a sentence with "I Believe" I kept waiting for Jeff Foxworthy's line - "I believe that if you can't say a nice word about someone - you must be talking about Hillary Clinton". That would have been great!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Dinner out with the girl

W is rocking the Garden!!!!
Yep - Voted for him in 2000. Voting for him again this year.

Back to the story -

The wife had a CPR certification class tonight. She went straight from work to the class. So me and the girl, AKA Thing2, went out to eat. I let her pick the resturant. McDonalds. Oh well. Far from my favorite place but she likes it. At least the McFlurries don't have grease in them. Dinner was actually quite good. Conversation with Thing2 was interesting.

Thing1 was a piece of cake to raise. Like many kids he was a bit unsure of himself but once it hit him that he is responsible for his own actions and his own future and that it was up to him to make the most of what was presented to him and what God has blessed him with he just took off. The first few days at college were a little tough. Now that classes have started the same light seems to have gone on.

Back to Thing2. Girls are much different to raise. Most of my coworkers have kids much younger than me and the wife so they all look at me funny when I say that. The ones with girls look scared... So me and Thing2 got to talk - about school, home, her brother, and boys. I was ok till the last one. I remember what it was like to be a 13 year old boy. I don't want any of them anywhere near my daughter!

So - when one of these creatures comes calling for my daughter - should I be polishing a sword or cleaning a gun? Maybe both...