Friday, April 10, 2009

I love technology!

For some time now I have been slowly but methodically been planned to put webcams in my place to keep track of things. I suppose this desire and planning traces its origins back to an attempted break-in several years ago and as I have been accumulating "stuff" (OK, OK, I'm guilty of being a vulgar materialist and capitalist... I admit it... now move on) I felt a need to keep track of my domicile. I can't get an alarm put into my place (long, way long story not suitable for this blog) so I started to formulate a solution. Automation! Yup that was the key. 

Last summer I upgraded my home system and started to use a Mac Mini with Insteon Modules and Indigo automation software to fool people into thinking I was home when I wasn't and to be able to have the lights turned on when night came and I might be late coming home (I was taking classes at the local community college at night and the winter semester gets pretty dark at 9 p.m.). Then the summers would allow me to turn off and on fans and the cooling system which wasn't centralized and that was a big help. Later on, with the system up and running, I came home from work and heard more than my dog in the house... yeah... I stood still and thought, "What the hell is going on?" I opened the door, confronted two German shepherds that had broken through the back fence and followed my dog into the house through the dog door! The confrontation was pretty easy as I had picked up a big wooden sword near the door (don't ask) and the dogs probably thought, " Holy Shuzzbud - get the frack outta Dogde!!!" and were pretty much gone in 20 seconds. My dog was OK, freaked out, but OK and that was cool... but the place was trashed with mud and all the dog food containers were ripped and spewed crap all over the house. After spending hours cleaning the devastation, I thought, "I won't get caught off-guard again!" and thus came a plan.... web cams.

After much research and many emails to Ben and Spencer at, I got Security Spy (THE premier security software for the Mac... and NO F@#*€‹·°king way am I using  PC unless I have no choice... more on that later). Serendipity is a great thing as well as Fry's is dumping their stock of Airlink101 network cameras and I got mine for $99 instead of $250! Today I install the last one until I upgrade to 8 cams instead of just 4 on Security Spy (click the link and check it out!) and have the ability to check out the house on my cell phone (way too cool as well)... It's good to be a geek!

Then, I get up this morning, start watching the MSNBC newsfeed and come across the story of a woman who is watching her house get burglarized (Yeah, check it out!). She calls 911, tells that that she's watching her house be burglarized before her eyes, the police surround the house and haul away 4 would-be burglars one of whom happens to be her next door neighbor (now that's slime if ever I've heard of one). I have no doubts now... never again... I love technology!

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Oklahoma is DOOMED....

While going through my usual morning reads of the Tweets, Blogs, and messages from my Facebook buds, I went to the Richard Dawkins Foundation website and came across this. It has to be one of the most asinine political moves that anyone has done in that state since.... oops, my bad. I forgot... I'm writing about a midwest state like Kansas. Remember the book titled "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Read the whole article on this idiotic resolution against Dawkins speaking on evolution at U of Ok. and maybe that will jog your memory. 

Then I get a different article after reading the above one on the legislative resolution. The thought that some dim-witted politician from Oklahoma of all fucking places would decide that free speech needs to be "investigated" just about pushed me over the edge to wanting to do violence! (No, no... don't worry. I won't go there). But finally Dawkins had his say:

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Squeaky the Chicago Mouse

While watching the news show Countdown with Keith Olbermann, I was introduced to the news that Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a letter in response to the fummings of Bill O'Reilly of the Fox 'Noise' Channel. Now when you read this it may seem pretty standard fair but be patient and read to the very last paragraph or you'll miss the punch line:

To: Bill O’Reilly
From: Roger Ebert

Dear Bill:

Thanks for including the Chicago Sun-Times on your exclusive list of newspapers in your “Hall of Shame.” To be in an O’Reilly Hall of Fame would be a cruel blow to any newspaper. It would place us in the favor of a man who turns red and starts screaming when anyone disagrees with him. My grade-school teacher, wise Sister Nathan, would have called in your parents and recommended counseling with Father Hogben.

Yes, the Sun-Times is liberal, having recently endorsed our first Democrat for President since LBJ. We were founded by Marshall Field one week before Pearl Harbor to provide a liberal voice in Chicago to counter the Tribune, which opposed an America war against Hitler. I’m sure you would have sided with the Trib at the time.

I understand you believe one of the Sun-times misdemeanors was dropping your syndicated column. My editor informs me that “very few” readers complained about the disappearance of your column, adding, “many more complained about Nancy.” I know I did. That was the famous Ernie Bushmiller comic strip in which Sluggo explained that “wow” was “mom” spelled upside-down.

Your column ran in our paper while it was owned by the right-wing polemicists Conrad Black (Baron Black of Coldharbour) and David Radler. We dropped it to save a little money after they looted the paper of millions. Now you call for an advertising boycott. It is unusual to observe a journalist cheering for a newspaper to fail. At present the Sun-Times has no bad debt, but labors under the weight of millions of dollars in tax penalties incurred by Lord Black, who is serving an eight-year stretch for mail fraud and obstruction of justice. We also had to pay for his legal expenses.

There is a major difference between Conrad Black and you: Lord Black is a much better writer and thinker, and authored a respected biography about Roosevelt, who we were founded to defend. That newspapers continue to run your column is a mystery to me, since it is composed of knee-jerk frothings and ravings. If I were an editor searching for a conservative, I wouldn’t choose a mad dog. My recommendation: The admirable Charles Krauthammer.

Bill, I am concerned that you have been losing touch with reality recently. Did you really say you are more powerful than any politician?

That reminds me of the famous story about Squeaky the Chicago Mouse. It seems that Squeaky was floating on his back along the Chicago River one day. Approaching the Michigan Avenue lift bridge, he called out: Raise the bridge! I have an erection!


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An Absence...

Well I've finally come back to the blog... it's been a very busy time since my last post (which to be honest I can't remember when that was without looking it up).  The time since has been filled with politics both internal to work and external, learning French, taking care of the Science Department as a new department chair (and so learning the ropes), learning new music, and updating the automation of my house while keeping up with the SacFAN group (Sacramento Free-thinkers, Atheists, and Non-believers) and the new Science Forum that a member and I have promised to organize. All in all, a very busy time.

My readings have increased dramatically as well as I try to keep up with Chado studies, martial arts reading, preparing to go back to Kendo, and then trying to have a love life in the process. One of the highlights of my time away from writing was to see the Taiko group KODO from Japan  live on stage.... It was absolutely impressive! I have caught myself telling friends that it ranked up there as one of my top 5 live performances to have witnessed. The picture that goes with this entry shows two of the members playing on the O-Daiko (Great Drum) for what seemed like forever but was more like 15 minutes... but STILL!

Finally, I have been expanding my applications for research and have kept my Internet radio station going most days even though I am really the only one who is listening most of the time and Mom listen in occasionally. I have also accomplished the final stages of automating my house with security cameras (only two more left to install... one now and a more sophisticated one a couple months from now) so that I can keep track of my dog and my place from a distance considering the strange things that can happen. As an example, two months ago I came home to find that 2 German Shepherds had somehow found a hole in the fences and followed my dog through the dog-door into the house. After chasing them out, I was left to deal with a trashed house and mud tracks and splatters I am still finding today. I vowed to do something to stop that from happening again. After the landlord got it together to fix the fences, I put together the plan for surveillance. I can even watch the house on my iPhone... ain't technology wonderful? More about these developments in later blogs.... it's good to be back!

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