Lehigh Valley Half Marathon 
I worked communications support today with some members of the amateur radio club at the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon and 5K. I was assigned to work the starting line near Allen High School and then go down to last leg before the entrance to J. Birney Crum and the finish line. Our main role was basically to offer radio support in case anyone needed medical attention. Someone could radio net control, which was set up near a medical tent, and then they could take it from there and the pros could send the nearest paramedic out. Only two calls came through from the ham volunteers for medical attention and one was a fisherman who hooked himself. That's not to say others didn't need the medical tents but there were only two incidents that someone needed one of us to radio for medical. Still, it was good we could help. The weather was quite chilly so that was good for the runners as it was unlikely that anyone would overheat.

I had nothing important to radio in but I did get to meet both Congressman Dent and Mayor Pawlowski near the platform at the starting line. I chatted with Hizzoner for a few minutes in some light banter - the demands people put on the mayor, the Iron Pigs, and how the residents at 18th and Linden might enjoy being woken up on Sunday at 8:00 am to the sounds rock music and then a fire truck's siren that starts the runners. After he did his duty to get the race started, I asked him "Yocco's or Willy Joe's?" He responded with a quick "Yoccos" like it was a no-brainer and we shook hands and I wished him a good day.

Speaking of Yocco's, once we were done, some metaphysical force pulled a few of us into Yocco's on Hamilton Blvd. Once again, outstanding; the Hot Dog King reigns supreme over the region.

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Tommy, Can you Hear Me?  
The National Day of Silence is upon us again. Here is my letter to the editor about this, published on 04/16/05 in the Morning Call.

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Rewind to 2000 
I found an Earth Day article from Reason Magazine, May 2000.

Some of the those early earth day activists really made some bold predictions about famine and civilization ending within 30 years that never materialized. But, alas, we can't fault the activists because they were citing scientists. Ah, such wacky times, the seventies were. The next generation or two will find it equally entertaining 30 years from now to reflect back on the balmy prophecies that were made in the first decade of the 21st century. Oh wait, this time it's real. We can't possibly be wrong.

Instead of planting a tree this earth day, I need to save one. One sprouted up in my garden, just inside the fence, last year and I need to move it. The sapling is about six feet high now. I had planted a few trees a few years ago but I couldn't keep them from the deer. I tried but to no avail but this one is tall enough now that it should be safe. Deer truly are a problem in PA and managing them is a contentious issue. I am currently reading Deer Wars which discusses this concern.

Today is also primary day here in PA. I will cast a vote for John McCain today, just as I did in the 2000 primary.

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License Upgrade 
I took and passed the Amateur General exam last night so now I can transmit on some of the HF bands (160-10M, this pdf chart shows the bands and privileges). I still haven't bought a base station yet but my dad is going to loan me his Icom 746 in the interim. I need to buy a power supply and then set up an antenna and then I'll be ready to go.

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96, 67.8, 0.3 
96 Percent of mortgage owners are "fulfilling their commitments." That's a tad vague but I would say that means they are paying on time or close enough to on time that the mortgage lender doesn't need to take further action.

Home ownership in the U.S. is 67.8 per cent; higher than it was in the 'prosperous' years of '98, '99, and 2000.*

Home ownership has 'fallen' 3/10 of 1 per cent during this current housing 'crisis.'

...if the numbers George Will gives are correct, that is, and I have little reason to doubt him. Today's column is right on the money. We have it so good nowadays that when we hit a little bump, the media panics, blames Bush, and rallies behind their candidate, Obama, and push the message of hope and change; without, of course, really saying what that means.

If people have to work a little harder, maybe cut some expenses, or postpone 'retirement' from 59 to 62, everyone panics and presidential candidates tell us that we have it so bad and the only solution is voting for 'change' - instead of instilling change in ourselves with our habits. To me, 'change' isn't voting for Obama, it's making the needed adjustments to live your life. So, if you buy something you can't afford, eventually it will catch up with you. If you have to put off buying that new car or can't take a family vacation this year, or have to delay retirement a few years, so be it. That not is not hardship. It's called dealing with it. It is not a sign of a crisis. If anything, it's an indicator of how good we have it.


*Census Link that covers through 2007.

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Bad PR 


Oops! I meant to buy tickets for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, not the Leigh Valley IronPigs!

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Vultures 


I snapped this photo of these two vultures perched in the copse behind my house yesterday morning. It's not uncommon to see turkey vultures in the field behind my house but a few weeks ago I had noticed increased activity; often three or four at a time circling and landing on trees and the grass. So, I took a stroll back there and saw two deer carcasses in the brush near where it meets the open field. Directly to the left of where those two vultures sit in that picture, are more houses, a complete street to be exact; about the same distance to these birds that my house is. So, with the mystery of the increased vulture activity explained, I wonder who or what put those carcasses there. Plus, I haven't looked for about two weeks so perhaps there is something new back there. By the way, there is enough of the deer remains to rule out that someone is doing taxidermy. Plus, the remains are mixed in with tree limbs that are machine cut so it has to be someone putting them there. My guess is that someone does his own butchering and just dumps what's left in the brush. I have no problem with that, by the way and it is likely whoever is doing it, owns that lot. I was looking at the township tax maps and quite a bit of that land in that field is privately owned but I can't tell if that particular lot is owned by an individual or the township. I also can't tell if that lot borders ours and if it does, it's on the far side of his nowhere near where our lot ends. Regardless, that person's use of that land is more favorable than building something on it. Trust me, I am not complaining at all.

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Eat Me 
...or maybe I'll eat you. I guess it all depends on who's hungrier. Once again proving that America is the only nation on earth where a person with an IQ of 43 can become a billionaire, quintessential nutjob Ted Turner believes that Global Warming will cause humans to resort to cannibalism. When they passed out the Global Warming Kool-Aid, some said no thanks, some took a drink, and Ted drank about three gallons and asked for more. What a maroon.

It is scary that a person with wealth and influence actually believes something like this.

It some ways, however, listening to Ted should inspire all Americans. After all, if he can make it big, certainly anyone else can. Ted has certainly proved that being stupid is not a hindrance to success*. However, if becoming successful means becoming a loon like Ted, I would hope most Americans would say: "No thanks; being rational and intelligent is more important than fame and fortune."



*Most celebrities have proved this too.

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Postcard from Michael Yon 
I got a postcard from Michael Yon today. Michael is a blogger and observer who spends a lot of time in Iraq. He chronicles what he sees and though he's not a journalist, many journalists can learn a lot from him.



The front ^ and back v



A link to Michael's Blog is on the right. Be sure to check it out. If you can, donate to him as well. I'll ask the library I frequent if they will order the book and I have added it to my reading list, which is usually two or three books deep but I can certainly fit this one in.

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FreeBSD 7.0-Release 
I have a secondary machine that I've been running FreeBSD on for a few years. In fact, if it weren't for me shutting everything down when I went on vacation last summer and one time hooking up a UPS, it would have probably been up that long too; well, a year at least. Alas, I bade farewell to 4.11 and prepared for 7.0.
# >uptime
> 8:11 PM up 258 days, 1:11, 1 user, load averages: 1.00, 1.00, 1.00


That dates back to July and it was up well over 100 days at that time, which was the time elapsed since I turned it off in order to plug it into a UPS.

And then...
# >halt

I also pulled out the 8.4GB hard drive and put in a 40GB drive. Other than that, it's still the same PII 400MHz, 128MB RAM machine.

The install went as easily as any FreeBSD install does. The only problem I had was that Mr. Butterfingers hit the wrong menu choice at the end of the install and instead of exiting and rebooting, it started the install again. I got an error and was stuck in a loop - a "...try again?" type message; I selected 'no' but it still wanted to install again. So, I unplugged the power cord and it rebooted fine with the install I just did intact.

I don't bother installing X or a plugging a mouse in because I use it as a server. Although, one doesn't need X or a mouse to chat on IRC, IM, or even browse the web. All told, I spent maybe an hour installing and configuring it. From an end-user's perspective, I haven't noticed too many changes, so far, except that the Apache default DocumentRoot is under /usr/local/www/data now instead of /usr/local/apache/htdocs and the boot screen is slightly different. The Daemon screensaver, of course, is unchanged. As usual, I'll tinker with it here and there as time permits.

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Kwame Kilpatrick is a Democrat 
Heck, someone has to say it. NBC, CBS, and NBC can't bring themselves to say it. But when the accused is Larry Craig or David Vitter, according to that link, their party is mentioned without fail:
The big three broadcast networks have gone out of their way to avoid labeling scandal-scarred New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a "Democrat." An examination of the fifteen ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows through Wednesday night finds Spitzer was called a Democrat just 20 percent of the time -- twice on CBS, once on ABC, and never on NBC. So, how do the networks treat Republicans involved in sex scandals? Always, always as "Republicans." Looking at the ABC, CBS, NBC morning and evening shows in the days after the most recent scandals broke, Republican Senators David Vitter (July) and Larry Craig (August) were labeled "Republican" on every show (100 percent). Yet for Democrat Spitzer, four out of five news programs (80 percent) have skipped his party identification....


A Google search for "Kwame Kilpatrick is a democrat" yields 6 - SIX - results.

A Google search for "Larry Craig is a republican" yields 12,000 results.

If the search is changed to something more likely to appear in print:

"Democrat Kwame Kilpatrick" - we get 341 results.

"Republican Larry Craig" - we get 10,400 results.

What does this prove? One, the actions of a US Senator are more newsworthy than the actions of the mayor of the 11th largest city in the US*. A city, by the way, that has been beset with economic woes, shrinking population, and rampant crime. So, I suppose that scandal, corruption, and criminal activity by the mayor isn't really surprising. Two, when a Republican does something wrong, his party label follows him like a shadow, almost becoming part of his name. However, when a Democrat is accused of all sorts of debauchery, the party affiliation is treated like a non-essential piece of information.

In the Eliot Spitzer vs. Larry Craig Google News watch, a Google News search for Eliot Spitzer still yields over 35,000 results and Larry Craig yields about 2,800. The Spitzer searches may be inflated some as many hits yield stories about the woman involved too. I tried to filter those out by inserting "-call" "-girl" and still get about 17,000. I am sure Google will fix this problem by late summer (there is an election this year) and make sure the Larry Craig stories outnumber Spitzer ones. As for Kilpatrick, he hits about 5,300 now on Google News so he'll be below the Craig number much sooner.


*Unless, of course, if Kilpatrick were Republican and Craig a Democrat, the question would be "Larry who?"

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Stimulus 


The letter informing us about receiving a stimulus came today. Instead of spending like drunken sailors like so many Americans do, anyone who gets a check should 1) use it to pay down debt; credit card debt first or 2) put into a savings account. Other good uses are retirement funds, college funds, and home improvements. Naturally, ours will go into savings right away until we decide if we need any home improvements or to pad the three college funds a little.

Unfortunately, the reality is that all this package will do is augment the already rapid rising costs of goods. It's a 'feel good' move that will likely do little other than make things cost more which, of course, hinders people from paying debt or saving.

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