Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Wine List

I am a beer lover. In fact I went through a phase where I could have been called a beer snob. "Life is too short to drink cheap beer" was my motto. Fortunately I got over it and the new motto is "Life is too short to be a beer snob so drink the damn Budweiser."

A while back when the lady friend visited we shared a bottle of wine and I made a discovery. Wine can be pretty good. I have little experience with wine. You could call me wine ignorant. But I liked the bottle so I thought to try some more.

The wine selection at the store is even more intimidating than the beer selection and worse, most wines are more expensive than beer. I immediately made some ground rules for my new wine quest. I will not pay more for a bottle of wine than I am willing to pay for a six pack of beer. I will not buy wine in a box, bottles only. No oversized jugs either. And steer clear of the Mad Dog, no matter how attractive the price tag. This could be limiting. A bottle of wine can be a lot more expensive than even a high end beer. But hey, I'm not in it for snobbery, I just want to try some wines to find out what I like.

With that in mind I went forth into the wine selection and started picking. Mostly based on how attractive I found the label. So far I have tried:

Beringer White Zinfandel. Not too bad, went well with popcorn. Left a funny aftertaste, I don't think I would buy it again.

Black Swan Vineyards Chardonnay & Semillon. Pretty good stuff, went well with salami sandwiches and chips and salsa. Would have been nice if it were a touch dryer.

Turning Leaf Vineyards 2003 Reserve Merlot. My first thought upon pulling the cork was "Mmmm, smells nice." My second thought was "Eeew. Tastes nasty."

Yellow Tail Shiraz. Not bad. I can already tell I like the whites more than the reds, but I would buy this one again. I enjoyed it with calzones.

One discovery of note; my enjoyment of the wine has a direct relationship with the depth of the dimple in the bottom of the bottle. The deeper the dimple, the better the wine.

Friday, May 27, 2005


As seen near Polson Montana.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

When downtown was the mall

I used to come to Kalispell and just walk around downtown. Go into the shops and restaurants and stuff. I used to like that.
I get the impression that downtown Kalispell just ain't what it used to be. No more shops here, just banks, and lawyers.
No, that's not entirely true. There are some shops that aren't here anymore, but they are the same shops that are gone all over the country. The Woolworth's and the Sears'.
They all moved to the malls.
That's right. But what has changed is that now the downtown is opening up to all kinds of businesses that weren't there before. Businesses that no one could imagine when the downtown was the mall. Now the mall has all the mall shops and that is leaving all sorts of space for little shops and restaurants and things downtown. But the other problem is the old guard can't see the change. The city council is made up of the people that have had land and influence since way back when. They are just stuck in the past 'cause that's the way it has always been. And to them the fact that the Woolworth is gone only means the Woolworth is gone and the malls have the shops now. They just can't see the new business's because it's not what they are used to. It's not the way it was and they way they like it. The Flathead is going to grow with them or without them, they need to let some new blood in.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The girl cried

The girl cried softly as I cradled her in the dark. Her naked skin warm and smooth against my chest. "I wish I understood why you were crying."

"Because I don't want to hurt you."

Man, what do you say to that? I just lay still my arms draped around her, letting her feel my warmth as I was feeling hers. I felt awkward, I was restless, my hard-on pressed against her back, my left arm slowly tingled it's way to numbness and all I could do is lie there motionless and hold her while she cried.

Hours earlier at an interlude from our afternoon lovemaking she decided she was hungry and that we were done. She climbed across me out of bed and began pulling on her underclothes, turned back to me and laughed to see me gripping my stiff member, brought back to life by the site of her naked body squirming into her panties. "You'll get more after dinner", she cooed. "Now get up, I'm hungry."

She showed no interest in kissing or caressing and I was put at a distance. The switch from passion to somber was unusual for her. She did the same move the day before when we discovered the condom had broken. The lovemaking abruptly ended and she would not accept any discussion of the subject. She simply spooned into me and held my arms wrapped around her in silence. That one made sense to me. An accident like that can be serious. It can spoil the mood. Perhaps the anxiety of that moment was still with her.

The dinner was long and delicious and sexually frustrating. The perfume of strangers, the voluptuous breasts and short skirt on the waitress, the springtime clothing on the pedestrians outside the window. When our feet bumped under the table and I let my leg linger against hers she gave me a short smile and accused "you really are horny aren't you?" I smiled back. Blaming her for not finishing what she started would not be gentlemanly.

When we finally found ourselves in bed again it was announced that she was full and tired and there would be no sex.

"You have been running hot and cold lately, what is up with that?"

"The same feelings aren't there anymore. I mean I still care about you, I love you, but that boyfriend feeling has faded. Is it bad that we keep having sex?"

"No, it's not bad. We have never had bad sex."

"Not bad, but wrong. Is it wrong?"

"We are enjoying ourselves, were not hurting anyone."

"But we are not together anymore, and the sex is holding us together. Like when you ask about my fantasies and my sex life. That stuff is part of relationships."

"I guess I just want to keep the sex good and interesting. But you are right, you can't grow a sexual relationship without also growing a relationship."

"I think we should stop. After this weekend no more sex."

There was nothing more to say. She turned and spooned into me, the warmth of skin holding us like magnets. I could feel her body start to shake and heard the sniffles of tears.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Star Wars Love

The new Star Wars is a sweet movie. I am not disappointed. The movie is about villains. We get some good villains, some poor villains, and some spectacular villains. General Grievous was cool to a point, but he did not capture my heart and imagination in much the same way that Darth Maul failed. Simply not enough screen time to develop an interesting character. A cough and a limp does not make a well rounded character. The villain that steals this show is Palpatine. So wonderfully evil. Mixing truth with careful lies and telling others exactly what they should hear to further his own ends. And Darth Vader of course. Every bit of trachea crushing badness that we have come to expect. I intend to enjoy this episode again and again in order to cherish some high quality villains.

As for my expectations.

No bottomless pit. (Boo, we want a pit!)

No annoying character. Well, General Grievous was teetering on the brink of annoying, but not quite enough screen time. Anakin has matured from his nuisance self. C-3P0 was hardly ever seen. Jar-Jar had no lines. I think we were spared the wrath of annoying in this go about.

A new monster with bad monster makeup. Yup. Plenty. My favorite (least favorite) was the badly CGI'd creature that Obi-Wan rides into battle against Grievous.

A new tool for R2D2. The little guy does not get so much a new tool as he does a new degree of dexterity. The mighty mini droid can be found jumping, dodging and practically doing kung-fu against an assortment of battle droids.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Instant Messenger

So can I ask you a sex question? Sort of an informal poll?
Sure, go ahead.
Do you tend to fantasize about doing acts to other people, or having others perform acts on you?
hmm, I'll have to elaborate on this one... most of my fantasies are in the 3rd person, neither of which are "me" but usually I identify with one person or the other, as if I were the one doing the actions... I would have to say 90% of the time I fantasize about doing things to other people.
Ahh, okay. Thanks.
lol, np... umm, glad I could help...
I had an epiphany the other night that my fantasies tend to be passive and I was not sure if that was normal.
I would have to say for a man, it's not. Most American men are taught to be aggressive, sexually at least.
I was taught to be respectful of girls and not to touch them unless invited. The lesson sunk in too deep I think.
lol, There are alot of women that don't mind having a guy that's not overly aggressive.
That's fine if they are kinky and can take the lead :)
*chuckles* I didn't even mean kinky... some women are even hesitant to suggest different positions or even talk because they have a guy that does all that for them... what choice would they have if the guy didn't take the lead? Things would get boring really quick.
That's just sad. Actually I like the 50/50 partnership approach. Indulge my positions and I will indulge yours.
I think that you will find most women have passive fantasies, while men have a tendency to take more dominant roles.... That's just my uneducated opinion though. What made you analyze your fantasies?
I'm seeing the ex this weekend and it is a safe bet that there will be nookie. It occurred to me that I was more looking forward to getting sex than to giving it. That got me thinking...
*chuckles* when I think about sex, I don't think about how great I'm going to make someone else feel... the first thought is "ooh, I'm going to get some!" I think we're subconsciously selfish creatures.
I think it would be nice if I were prepared with an out of the usual fantasy to spice things a little. She can be a pretty passive person.
Then find something spicy.
That's about it then, isn't it.
It's not too tough to be kinky... smack her on the ass a few times. Say "who's your daddy" and pull her hair... lol
I don't think she is quite the 'who's your daddy' type girl, but what can she do really. Not put out? Hell, she already broke up with me.
Yeah, but there goes future nookie and that's a bummer... I have never fucked an ex... I think that would be a little strange.
It is oddly comfortable.
Isn't it hard to maintain that distance instead of bringing up past feelings?
Well, yeah. But in the end it really ends up being about sex. Getting it from a known safe and reliable source. It helps that you already know something of each other's kinks and quirks, so the sex ends up being pretty good.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Grooming gone wrong

In my life I have had two hair styles that have ever worked for me. Hair so long all I had to do was tie it down into a ponytail or hair so short I couldn't even comb it. I have learned a few things living at these extremes. I have learned that chicks dig guys with long hair. I have learned that chicks dig guys with good personality but no hair; you just have to work harder at it. I have learned how to french braid my own hair. I have learned the best way to hide a bald spot is to not have hair.

Since attaining my thirties my bald spot has been asserting itself. Consequently I have been wearing my hair at the shorter of the extremes. (The Gallagher look is just so wrong.) To facilitate this I purchased high quality hair trimming clippers several years ago and they have long since paid me back with the monies not spent on barbers or stylists. I have a pleasant ritual whereby every six weeks or so I strip down, stand in front of the bathroom mirror and buzz the clippers all over my head. Shower, sweep the bathroom floor and I am a new man with a neatly trimmed noggin. Ordinarily this is done with the #1 clipper length attachment. I will occasionally use the #2 attachment in the winter time for slightly longer hair, but that means more frequent haircuts. Not for me, I am all about convenience and less effort. #1 leaves enough hair that I don't look like some bald freak but still plenty short so it takes about a month to get all spikey and weird looking.

I recently found myself naked in front of the mirror pulling out the clippers for the grooming ritual. But this time the clippers were not making their usual high pitched buzzing scream. More like a lethargic grumbling. A quick test against the side of my head revealed a lack of hair cutting action. I fetched my screwdrivers. I quickly had the bastard disassembled and cleaned out years worth of hair trimmings gumming up its guts while enjoying the manly satisfaction of working on mechanical gizmos in the buff. Upon reassembly the clippers returned to their enthusiastic, powerful buzzing glory. I was quick to apply them to the side of my head to test the cutting action. There was much satisfaction in watching a big ol' clump of hair hit the bathroom floor. Yeah baby, naked Mr Fixit saves the day.

My satisfaction was short lived when I noticed my trusty #1 length attachment sitting on the bathroom counter. Shit! I just shaved a big swath into the side of my head. I checked it out with the hand mirror. Yep, definitely makes me look like a goofball. I was quick to enter damage control mode. I attached #1 and proceeded to hack hair off my head. I tried to convince myself that the difference between #1 and no attachment at all wouldn't be noticeable. Hand mirror disagreed. Still looked like a goofball.

I pondered the obnoxious swath in my head for a few moments and thought through my options. I could wear a hat for the next month. Not such a good choice. I have a hot date for the Star Wars premiere this weekend and wearing a hat to bed will probably result in a lack of nookie. My next option did not work out so well either. I simply lacked the dexterity to hold the hand mirror in one hand, the clippers in the other, look over my shoulder and shave a silhouette of an American eagle into the back of my head. A Nike swoosh might have been possible but I am just not down with corporate logos. They would have to pay me big bucks for that sort of advertising. Last option, shave my head.

Well, I have discovered I have an interesting scar on the back of my head. I'm gonna have to remember to ask mom about that one. I will probably have to wear a hat anyway because I am pretty pale and a sunburn would suck. Added bonus, the bald spot is completely hidden.

Monday, May 16, 2005


To the girl with the bright red hair crossing main street near the post office the other week. Yes, I confess, I was bicycling by slowly and dawdling at the stop signs because I thought you were attractive and I was enjoying watching you walk away. You were smiling a little so I hope you were enjoying your day.

To the attractive dark haired girl that sold me my license plates. I saw you again at the bar a couple days later. You said hi but I was with other new friends and perhaps a little shy. I apologize for staring, it took a couple moments before I remembered where I recognized you from. After that I was staring because I thought you were cute.

To any girl that catches me staring. Gawd, I'm sorry. I don't mean to make you feel uncomfortable. I certainly don't mean to be lecherous. Beauty catches my eye and sometimes I can't help but to become entranced by you. I hope you can take it as a compliment. I am really a nice guy. Really. I mean you no harm.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Jumping Montana

I really like skydiving in Montana. The Lost Prairie drop zone is beautiful and the people that jump there are some of the nicest skydivers I have met in the past 10 years.

As the plane climbs up out of the valley it is as though the world keeps getting bigger instead of smaller. The lush green hillsides start to share their secrets of hidden lakes and even more majestic mountains lurking in the distance. The airstrip sits in a beautiful valley. Wide, flat, open, plenty of good outs for jumpers, easy to spot from the air. That cold blast of air from opening the door at altitude has always been refreshingly clean to me. Here in Montana I think there is even a slight sweet taste to it.

Exiting the plane is crossing from one world to a new one. Where the view had previously been confined and framed by the glass of the window, I am now in a place where nature is unobstructed and even the corner of my eye can take in hearty mountains, billowy clouds, and lush rolling forests. Montana is helping me re-discover the joy of seeing a world I first discovered long ago when I began learning how to leave the airplane behind.

I am amply impressed with Montana jumpers. After only a few visits to the dropzone I am welcomed and called by name and invited on skydives. At the previous address I had become accustomed to a different atmosphere. The dropzone there was always bustling and busy. They had large clean airplanes with GPS spotting, an automated and computerized manifest system. All very efficient and impersonal. After eight years of jumping there not one employee knew my name. I was never invited to make skydives with others. I was not encouraged to learn or to come back. I got in the habit of not jumping very often. I would wait until my blood would grow restless from a lack of the ozone flavored air and begrudgingly haul myself off to this impersonal skydive factory to get my dose of freefall. Montana has welcomed me back to the sky in ways that I forgot existed.

I am pleased with jumping in Montana. My summer may not grant me much time for it, but I am happy re-discovering it in the now.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Thought Thieves

Microsoft is sponsoring a short film competition in the UK. It is called "Thought Thieves". It is aimed at school children, but any resident of the UK may enter.

The theme of your film should be about how intellectual property theft affects both individuals and society. Think about it: what would a world look like without protection for intellectual property?

This is one of those things that disturbs me on many levels.

First off, how Orwellian can you get with the title? Thought Crime is a phrase symbolic of oppression found in George Orwell's famous book 1984. Did the marketing people behind this actually intend to promote a totalitarian, soul crushing society to live in? Did someone actually think that associating intellectual property protections with a society bereft of freedoms, or choice, a world under the constant surveillance of Big Brother will help promote their cause?

The next bothersome point is the propaganda aspect of this thing. Giving school kids rewards for chanting the corporate mantra of intellectual property rights. Face it, the only people that give a rats ass about IP property are the corporations that think no one else should profit from an idea once they have stolen it for themselves. Forcing kids to chant the Pledge of Allegiance daily to make them patriotic citizens is one thing, making them chant about corporate profits is simply wrong.

Thought Thieves is about people stealing and profiting from your creation or innovation. Think about it: how would you feel if you saw your hard work being passed off as the property of someone else? What would you do?

Lets take a good look at this one from the point of view of the Microsoft Corporation that is sponsoring the contest. The innovation of the graphical user interface was not invented there, it was invented at Xerox. Microsoft has never paid royalties or even acknowledged that this spectacular innovation, profitable to billions of dollars, is not theirs. Microsoft did not invent the word processor or the spreadsheet. They did not invent the computer mouse. They did not invent the World Wide Web or the web browser. How would Microsoft have ever gotten so rich if they had not taken advantage of the hard work and good ideas of others and passed them off as your own. Hypocrisy. If there is one thing I truly hate in this world it is hypocrisy.

So what would the world look like without protection for intellectual property? Reverse that for a second, what would the world look like with greater protection for intellectual property?

There would be no snazzy modern computers because Microsoft would not have been allowed to sell software that used a graphical interface. (Heck there would no computers because there would be IP laws protecting the transistor from being used by anyone other than the inventor.)

The movie industry would be totally screwed. There would be no Walt Disney corporation because Disney lifted their stories from the previous works of the Brothers Grim. The movie Titanic would never have become a hit because it featured a storyline lifted from Romeo and Juliet. The music industry would be at a loss too. Britney Spears would never have recorded the song "oops I did it again" because that is just a remake of a Louis Armstrong song.

In a world with strong IP protection we would have no auto industry because Henry Fords revolutionary assembly line for building cars was not his idea. We would not have Tylenol because no one would have been allowed to follow in the footsteps of Aspirin.

We would have no arts or literature, or music, we would have no television, we would have no computers, we would have no medicine, no machinery. We would be living in a society void of social progress, without soul. Much like the world envisioned in 1984. I am having a hard time understanding what is so great about NOT sharing culture, ideas, and innovation.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Return of the attack of the revenge of the phantom new hope strikes back.

For the geeks among us another cultural milestone will soon be here. It is almost time for the next episode of Star Wars. This is the sixth time I have had the pleasure of looking forward to a new Star Wars movie. Funny how culture works; I can easily blow off the enthusiasm of sports fans going on about the team du jour, but this movie captivates me. Even as I seethe about the mass entertainment industries and avoid them more and more. Bad movies, bad teevee, bad music. I have every intention of queuing up for hours to experience this one moment.

I know that the latest couple of episodes pretty much sucked. But that is okay. George Lucas captured my imagination early, my formative years were spent under his spell and I now believe he can do no wrong. When it comes to Star Wars I will watch sucky movies and like them.

Being fully aware of how Star Wars has managed to become formulaic, I have built up some expectations.

A bottomless pit.
Luke and Leia did the cool swing across a bottomless pit in Star Wars. Luke and Vader battled over a bottomless pit in Empire Strikes Back. Return of the Jedi had two bottomless pits with the Sarlacc pit in the beginning and the one the Emperor got tossed into at the end. The conclusion to Episode I involved a bottomless pit. Lucas really screwed up by not including a bottomless pit in Episode II; and no, jumping out of flying cars does not count. It was not a pit and you could see the bottom.

An annoying character.
Luke ("…but I was going to Toshee station to pick up some power converters…"). C-3P0 ("…you have put my head on backwards…"). Jar-Jar ("Okeeday"). Annakin ("I don't like sand, it's rough and coarse, not smooth like you.") The question for the new Star Wars is will the annoying one be a lead character or supporting cast?

A new monster with bad monster makeup.
The most believable monsters to me were in the Star Wars cantina. Empire's monsters passed muster because there were not too many of them. Return of the Jedi had blatant and flagrant abuse of rubber suits (or furry suits). The new episodes and their CGI spiffyness do not pass the 'suspension of disbelief' test. The computer creatures look more fake than the guys in the rubber suits.

A new tool for R2D2.
First movie, R2 just rolled around and plugged into computers. Empire Strikes Back, he started welding things (and he had that cute little tiptoe scene outside Yoda's hut). Return of the Jedi, he starts serving drinks and using saw blades. Episode I he has magnetic wheels holding him to the hull of the ship. In Episode II we discover he can fly! What do you think the new movie will have? A blaster rifle popping out of his dome?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Chatting with skydivers

So did you used to jump out at __.
Yeah. I had a hard time jumping there. It was a skygod dropzone. I never felt welcomed there. I was never encouraged to come back.
I had heard that about the place. Well, until the owner died.
The personality of the place never changed. Not that I noticed anyway. I am pleased with the reception I have had here. I'll keep jumping here; until you guys piss me off.
Well, I guess we better be on our best behavior.
Don't worry, you are doing all right. At least you remember my name.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Phone Work

I've been manning the phones for a few months now and I gotta say, so far so good. I've not had a whole lot of hard to please or demanding customers. I get to chat with people from all over the country. When the phone rings I try to guess who will be on the other end; male voice, female voice, loud, soft, assertive, passive. I'm always wrong but it is a fun game to play.

The people I talk with tend to be one of the following:

  • Knows what they want, says it, does business and gets off the line quick.
  • Knows what they want, but wants to be reassured that what they want is okay. They like to be guided through the process.
  • Has no clue about what I offer or what they are getting in to, complete newbie, somewhat ignorant, lots of basic questions but usually enthusiastic.
  • Just checking on a detail. Thanks for the info.
  • Want's to know something completely tangential and mostly unrelated to my services.

I think my favorites are the ones that know what they want but let me lead. That way I can make sure I have all the necessary details in the order I like to get them.

I get a variety of personalities too:

  • More talk than listen.
    Hard to communicate info to these people. I always like to repeat an order back to the customer just to make sure I got it right but these people don't want to hear it. The correct order is old news to them I guess. They will even ask questions but not wait to hear the answer. I find myself trying to talk over them a lot.
  • Life story.
    These people want to tell me all the details of what lead up to me and what they will do after, and they tend to include many unneeded details about their kids and their heart surgery.
  • Fast talker.
    While I am writing the first digits of their street address they are spewing the last digits of their zip code. I am almost always asking them to repeat themselves. And no, spelling with the phonetic alphabet does not help the fast talker. "… That's Victor, India, November, Charley, Echo, November, Tango. Got it?.."
  • Slow and precise.
    Better than fast talker, at least I can get all the details right. Still tedious when I can type half an E-mail between hearing the street address and the city.
  • Wants a yes man.
    "Now you need a name and address, right?… Now, you want a phone number?… Will you send me a confirmation?… Will that be a five hour drive from Calgary airport?" After a whole conversation of my saying "Yes" or "that's correct" I wonder why they called me. They already knew everything. C'mon, let me lead a little. Maybe there is a detail I know better than you.

I like the people that will chat and make a point of enjoying the business transaction a little. I am really not in a hurry to get anyone off the line and if you have a clever anecdote I'm sure it will brighten my day. I am impressed that on some days practically everyone is nice and cheerful. I get calls from all over the US, is it possible that the whole country is in a good mood at the same time?

And the best part; working from home makes this a pants optional office. Think about that the next time you phone up customer service.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Linux Love

Rainy day, no skydiving. A good time to make the old computer into the server I need.

I had downloaded the Fedora disk images during the week and after one last check that all the data was backed up I ran the install. It was painless. Simple. Computer doing what I expect it to. I like that. Ample help screens and descriptions. I didn't exactly watch the clock but it was under an hour of inserting the next disk and watching the status bar.

The new OS booted beautifully. Even though I only need some server components I made sure to install the snazzy KDE desktop plus the Open Office suite plus games and toys. I've always wanted a Linux box to tinker with, now I've got it. I gotta say, KDE is nice. Easy to move to from a Windows mindset plus extra features that make things ever so much nicer.

Getting the box to hit the internet was easy. Because I intend to use it mainly as a server I pulled it off the DHCP and gave it a static IP. That caused all my DNS lookups to slow way down. Over the course of the day futzing with it I realized I needed to feed it my ISP's DNS IP's instead of the routers IP. That helped. It took me a while to figure out the Red Hat package updater thingy. I eventually gathered that there are some packages that I needed updates for and some that are just fluff or things I won't use. Hard to tell the difference sometimes. I took my best guesses but I fear there are some things I ought to update that I missed. Along the way I began climbing the learning curve on the file system and starting, stopping, restarting processes.

The Samba server was easy at first glance and I had a Samba share set up in no time. Windows turned into the bitch on this one. Let me just say that I hate the way Windows XP does it's networking. I liked Win 2000 a lot better but I'm afraid there is no turning back now. For some bizarre reason it takes WinXP almost three minutes to realize it is on the network itself, never mind all those other computers out there I want it to talk to. I ended up renaming and rebuilding the workgroup from scratch just to make sure I had everything set up right. I did. Let me just say at this point that Windows XP is a G0dd@&# F`(% P13(3 of $h17 operating system and I hope to never ever give Microsoft another damn dime of my money. Windows does however run quite a few programs that I use a lot so I may be screwed on that score. After an hour of jumping through all the hoops to rebuild my windows network, the Win boxes did finally recognize the Samba server but refused to log on to it. I think I may be missing some little niggle. A password or a user setting or some such. I was getting tired of re-reading smb.inf at this point so I put it aside.

The web server just worked. I made sure it was running, typed the IP into the browser bar and there it was. Gotta love Apache. One of the finest pieces of software I have used. It probably needs a few more niggles in its conf file, but I need to move files onto it first. That means Samba or FTP or something.

Next up was the MySQL server. With this bad daddy I learned that the version shipped with the Fedora install is out of date and the version available from the Red Hat package updater thingy was out of date too. It took a couple hours of RTFM, plus downloading the latest greatest, (oops, downloaded the wrong package, try again), I climbed the coolest part of the learning curve yet. I successfully rpm'd new software onto a Linux box. Woot. (Hint, logging in as root solves some installation problems.) I jumped through the config hoops and changed the default passwords and confirmed the little bugger was running and responding. But then when I hopped back to the Windows box and tried to log into MySql from there, it choked. I couldn't get in. I don't know what is going on with that, but I am going to blame Windows until I learn different.

This is where I threw in the towel and went for beer. It had been a long day of RTFM and my eyes felt like they were gonna start bleeding. The Samba server is fubar 'cause Windows won't talk to it. The MySql server is fubar 'cause Windows won't talk to it. The Web server works but I have no way of putting my files on it. Next up I guess will be the FTP server. What could possibly go wrong? I am guessing that it will take some coaxing for Windows to talk to it.

There is a part of me that wishes some Linux geek was on hand to show me how to do some of this stuff, but I know I will learn better by RTFM and doing it myself. Linux has come a long way from the first times I tried using it. The installation, desktop, web surfing, E-mailing, word processing parts of it are every bit as good as the commercial software out there. But when you have to make it do just a little bit more there is still an ugly learning curve. That is why I never adopted it back in the day. The learning curve always conflicted with my need to get something done NOW.

Oh, and have I mentioned… When it comes to working and playing well with others Windows is a F\/(51#& P13(3 of $h17 operating system.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Why I love the internet

Disclaimer: this post contains links to nudity and naughty things. You may not want to go clicking links while at work.

First up, who knew that the first Friday in May is no pants day? I for one intend to do my part. That's right, I am blogging without pants. Don't look so shocked; it's not like I've never done it before. You probably can't even guess which of my previous posts were made sans trouser. You should join me. It's fun.

Now here is a shocker, no pants day happens to fall during International Masturbation Month. (linkity, linky, link) Coincidence? I think not.

Now as far as I can gather, IMM is supposed to raise awareness of, err, something. It definitely raises something. C'mon, join in. Surveys say that nine out of ten people masturbate and the other one is lying. There are many fine activities in case you need an excuse. There are various masturbate-a-thons. I think they may be raising money for something. There is also masturbation for peace. Who are raising bad poetry. This would also be a good place to plug my favorite masturbation related link, beautiful agony. They want your money in a capitlaistic porno sort of way, but don't pay if you don't want to, I find the thumbnail photos erotic enough.

Now how would we have ever known about the goodness of no pants day or International Masturbation Month without the internet. Get out there and enjoy yourselves kids.


I haven't told anyone about the job change or that I might be leaving by the end of the year because in my experience people make assumptions and I don't want to lead people to think that I'm not interested in being friends or building relationships.
Well, isn't that like playing games? Can't you just live in the now and make friends and go to movies and do what you do and worry about later, well, later?
In my experience most people don't live in the now the way you do. For example when I was working in * my boss just assumed that because I was American I was not going to stay around very long and he always passed me over for promotions. When I pointed out to him what he was doing and that his entire local staff had already turned over and I was his longest employee, he admitted right away he was making an assumption and I got the promotion shortly after.
Hmm, I may not have the same experiences with human nature that you do, but I still think that not being completely yourself with your new friends is sort of game playing.
Trust me, this is how it should be. I don't want to lose my new friends just because of something that might happen maybe later on. I don't want them to stop inviting me to stuff because I may be leaving someday.


So have you talked with K_ lately?
No not really, but I figured between her school and her new boyfriend she was pretty busy right now.
You see, you just did it. You just proved my point.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Conversation with Major M. II

It sounds like you made some good headway during your time in Baghdad. Why the hell don't we ever hear about this over here?
Major M.
Let me tell you, we are frustrated to no end by that over there. A lot of people over there are getting pretty torqued because no one back home hears about what they are doing. The news only reports what is blowing up, not what is getting rebuilt.
Yeah, I've been learning not to trust the media.
We had some embedded reporters with us from time to time and when we went out on these missions we would invite them to go out with us and they would always ask "do you think you will get in a fight?" and we would say "no, hope not." And they would turn us down.

There was always some animosity there between us, it's like they saw us as the big bad army always trying to skew their message with disinformation and we really couldn't care less about their message. We were just trying to help them out, help them do their jobs as reporters and take them out and show them what we were doing. These reporters come out to Iraq intent on reporting a certain story and when we tried to show them what we were doing and invite them along they felt like we were trying to side track them from their message and blow smoke.

I had a conversation with one guy and he told me straight up not to bother inviting them on these missions where we were getting things done because his editor back in the states had the policy "if it ain't smoking or bleeding we don't want to report it."

And anytime we would try to correct some facts in their story they would cry censorship. I am now of the opinion that freedom of the press means freedom to print whatever the hell you want. True or not. There are a million reporters all shoveling a million bullshit wrong opinions on what is going on.

Out of all those media voices there ought to be one or two telling it like it is.
There is. His name is Mike Francis and he works for the Portland Oregonian. He is a straight up guy and he reported facts.

Monday, May 02, 2005

A conversation with Major M.

Montana is the last place I ever expected to end up living. There are some deep roots that brought me here.
Major M.:
So let me ask you something. Are you inclined to believe that the universe operates by random chance or that everything, every coincidence, is pre ordained and planned out.
Tough question.
Take your time.
Well, I've always been impressed with the way dissimilar things behave in the same way. Traffic on highways mimics packet traffic on the internet mimics the flow of blood through our veins. I always sort of attributed that to an artifact of the laws of physics and math and the basic forces of the universe. But I can't say if it was planned.
I ask because I have been noticing a lot of coincidences lately. Like the universe is conspiring to tell me something. I have been taking an informal, unscientific poll of people around me.
Well, the idea everything has a purpose brings me uncomfortably close to the question of god. I have a hard time taking anything on faith and the god that the various organized religions have been pushing my whole life makes me very uncomfortable. That said, there are things in this world I can't explain except by magic. I have studied some biology, but as far as I am concerned grass grows because of magic. Why do kids playing on swings make me smile? Magic.
I put the question to mom the other day and she showed me something astounding. She has a painting in the upstairs hall of her new house, she got it years ago when we lived back in *. It is just a painting of a meadow with some purple flowers; dad never liked it much I guess, but mom got it anyway. She had it hanging in their bedroom over by that desk they had in the corner. So anyway she has been hiking through the meadow behind their new house and she came to recognize it as the meadow in the painting. One day she was passing through and there were all these purple flowers blooming so she stopped and took a picture. She showed me the picture and the painting side by side and they are the same freaking thing.
Yeah, mom said it was like the universe had told her where she was going. And she said that to me too. She sort of shook her finger at me and said "these coincidences you are seeing is the universe telling you something. Pay attention."
(laugh) That sounds like mom.
Yeah, your comment about our roots tying you to this place got me wondering about your take on the whole thing.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


In my life I have had a black kid stick a gun in my ribs. I have used poor judgement behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. I have found myself scrambling up cliffs and mountains that I probably did not belong on. I have exited an aircraft in flight over 300 times. I would like to believe I am comfortable with the idea of death, with putting my life in danger.

When I woke up, looked out the window at clear blue skies and knew that today I was making my next parachute jump, strange things came over me. I lost my appetite, I distracted myself with the computer overly long, I became indecisive over what clothes to wear. I was nervous. I reminded myself how comfortable I am with death. The guy in the mirror can be pretty hard to convince with bravado.

I don't like being uncomfortable with my skydives but the truth is a lot of them put me on edge. I have been jumping for over a decade now and the sport can play my emotions against me. When it is good my self confidence swells, my enthusiasm is unstoppable and I can catch an adrenaline buzz that expensive reefer can't match. On the mediocre days I experience a lot of fear and apprehension. I become reluctant and I have to force myself through the motions. I have never had a bad day skydiving; I have walked away from all of my jumps. Skydiving has taught me a lot about fear, it has taught me that fear is not a reason to quit.

It felt good to once again go through the rituals of the sport. Gear checks, manifests, dressing, strapping into the rig, zero the altimeter, wind checks. The basic confidence is there. I know my gear, I know how to use it and what to expect from it. I have no doubt of my ability to pitch a pilot chute or flair a landing. Then dammit, why am I still nervous? I check my handles one more time.

I usually feel like a new man after only one jump. This time it took two. Two airplane rides in the small pitching Cessna. Twice feeling the cold blast of air when the door opens. Twice surprised at the powerful blast of wind pushing my foot away from the step. I pitched forward and relaxed into the welcoming air, the motions felt as natural as sex with a favorite lover. Some turns, some flips. Maneuvers so simple that students are not even challenged by them. I chose to open a little higher than usual. Without looking the handle fell under my palm at the exact moment I wanted it there and I pitched the pilot chute strong and wide. I have been doing something wrong with my packing lately; both times the canopy opened a little slow and immediately dove into a hard right turn. It scares me when it does that. The bumps from turbulence scare me some more. I take my time with a complete control check before I relax again and enjoy the flying.

My apprehension was still with me after the first jump. The second jump left me feeling normal again. I have promised myself I will be back next weekend. I hope I don't get the case of nerves again. I hope I don't talk myself into postponing. Tempting death has given me so much in my life, I hope I am not chickening out now.