April 2005 Archives

She Who Will Be Honored

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It's flower_goddess's birthday all weekend, so naturally the neighborhood is getting together. We were OK until the fourth bottle of tequila arrived:

Jose and his brothers

There will be a story on this.

Update: Bottle #5 has arrived. Set Condition T throughout the neighborhood.

Blogroll Graduation

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A while back, I stumbled around the bottom of the TTLB Ecosystem and found a half-dozen blogs that I liked that didn't have any incoming links. I added these to a section of my blogroll called 'Blogs That Should Be Higher In The Ecosystem.' I intended to announce this right away, then update that list once a month or so, rolling the old links into my regular blogroll.

Anyway, take a peek at these blogs, which will graduate into the regular blogroll Real Soon Now and be replaced by new blogs I like that don't have any incoming links:

Visit The Royal Trailer Court

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White Trash Wednesday

I have found our queen (no, it's not the preggo in the logo). All Hail Jolene!

We spent enough tax/bond money upgrading the Coliseum, so I'm glad it's paying dividends:

Memorial Coliseum was ranked in the top 50 arena venues in the world based on first-quarter ticket sales of 2005.

POLLSTAR Magazine ranked the Coliseum 34th for sales between Jan. 1 and March 31. The Coliseum’s ranking puts it above Gund Arena in Cleveland, MCI Center in Washington and Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Randy Brown, Coliseum general manager, said in a statement that the recognition will help attract even larger events.
That's gotta be 34th per capita or something, because I can't see our 12,000 seat area in a metro area of 300,000 as being ahead of those other places on raw numbers.

Anyway, that's not even the real story in this article. Let's just get right to the story:

A Lima, Ohio, woman has filed a grievance with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission against the city of Decatur/Adams County Parks Department, alleging she is the victim of religious discrimination.

Tresa Salyer, 35, is a licensed minister in Ohio, and a practicing witch, with a congregation of about 35.

According to Salyer, she had been paying since January to rent a table at a monthly flea market set up by the Adams County Coin Club in a city-county-owned building.

She had planned to sell incense, jewelry, candle burners, oil and other items. But when she arrived on the first Sunday in April, she claims she was asked to leave and barred from setting up the table. The club organizers told her they did not want her to operate there because she is a witch, she said.
The club asked her to leave, not the city, so I'm not sure that's actionable, but I concede that she may have a case. Or at least I did, until I read this:
“I am asking for $4 million in compensation,”Salyer said, “and if they come to the table with anything less, we’re going to federal court.”

The $4 million represents one dollar for every pagan on the planet, Salyer said.

Still working on a WTW entry. Meanwhile, take a lap around the trailer park:

Rob, Meet Karma

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Quick thought on last night's Amazing Race: If I'm at the airport waiting for the second leg of an itinerary that I know all four teams have, and two of the teams don't get on that flight, I don't gloat about how 'stupid' they are - I worry that they found an earlier flight!

And let's look at WHY the other two teams found the earlier flight - because Rob fucked with them by telling them there was one (when he 'knew' there wasn't), prompting them to go find it!

Look for a White Trash Wednesday entry later today.

Schneier on Security has a link to some unintended consequences of motorway speed cameras in the UK:

Far from improving drivers' behaviour, motorists are now bunching at high speeds between junctions 14-18 on the M4 in Wiltshire, said Edmund King, the foundation's executive director. [emphasis added]

The cameras were introduced by the Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership in an attempt to reduce accidents on a stretch of the motorway. But most motorists are now travelling at just under 79mph, the speed at which they face being fined.

I am actually slightly familiar with the motorway section in question - it was the least harrowing part of the drive between my hotel and the job site when I went to the UK in September 2003 (also recounted, after a fashion, here). The thing I noted at the time was the lane discipline and signal usage - three lanes of traffic each way, sorting itself out without a lot of weaving and bunching. Either I was lucky enough not to have to deal with it (possible, I was only there a few days), or the 'Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership' have gone to great lengths to solve a nonexistent problem - introducing a new one in the process.

And I thought the Law of Unintended Consequences only applied to the US.

Cod Roe Is Fish Eggs! Cod Roe Is Fish Eggs!

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Did Food Network air the 'Cod Roe' episode of Iron Chef last night or something? I've seen a spike of traffic based on Google searches for 'cod roe,' going to my synopsis of the episode when it aired on FN in December of 2000 (which reminds me - I need to pull those synopses into blog format).

Granted, it was only about 500 extra hits since yesterday evening, but that's a nontrivial number for us 'long-tailed' bloggers - those ranking as 'Crawly Amphibians' through 'Adorable Rodents' in the TTLB Ecosystem (and I wish I knew who to credit for that term; I just recently read it in my blogrounds and I can't find it on Google).

Aaaaaaand We're Back

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Huh. Sun shining? Check. Birds singing? Check. Same new pope (no bait-and-switch like last time)? Check. Baseball under way? Check (and bletch). NBA Playoffs? Check. Freedom win again? Check. Any more of my dead pool picks snuff it? Nope. OK, then. I'm all caught up.

[Warning: in-joke ahead. Familiarize yourself with Swordfish before proceeding.]

So I was speculating on the nature of the impending final exam in my Computer Security class yesterday at work, saying something like "Watch the instructor bring in a locked laptop, drop it on the desk, and say 'pwn this machine. You have one minute.'"

Without missing a beat, my buddy Chess added "Fetch me Halle Berry."

Ah herd thet they wuz havin' this Tooour Dee Gawgia race thingy. Ah wunner ifn it's too late t'enter with mah bike:

It's White Trash Wednesday! Take the whole tour:

Ratzinger, Your Delta Tau Chi Name Is 'Benedictus'


It seems that every time I declare that I'll be too busy to blog for a while, an entry just falls into my lap. While reading about the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, I saw this:

On Monday, Ratzinger, who was the powerful dean of the College of Cardinals, used his homily at the Mass dedicated to electing the next pope to warn the faithful . . ..
Well, of course he got elected pope - he had all the other candidates on Double Secret Probation!

Back Into The Bunker

Well, my instructor this semester has seen fit to give us a surprise final.

Cumulative over the entire semester.

Next Monday night.

See you next Tuesday. Maybe I'll have something between now and then (hopefully at least a White Trash Wednesdayism), but don't count on it.

Dogged 'Em

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The Freedom pasted the Red Hills Black Dogs, or Black Hills Red Dogs, or something (it didn't really matter since they were all just brown by the end) Saturday night, 59-34. Thoughts and pictures after the break.

At Least They Knew They Could Outrun Their Victims


Maybe Fort Wayne really is the dumbest city in America, because shedding excess dumb-itude to surrounding counties is the best explanation for these yahoos:

Three Elkhart County men remained in the LaGrange County Jail on Friday, accused of holding up a buggy and robbing its occupants of $1.

. . .

About 9 p.m. Thursday, the three men were riding in a Pontiac Grand Prix on South LaGrange County Road 200 West, according to a written statement from the LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department. The Grand Prix blocked the road so that a buggy could not pass.

The men – two of whom wore masks – jumped out of the car and held the family in the buggy at gunpoint while they demanded money, the statement said. A man in the buggy threw his wallet onto the road.

The men took the wallet and fled the scene, police said. It contained $1.

. . .

A Topeka police officer stopped the car and arrested its occupants, it said. Police also found the handguns, which had been thrown from the car.
I've been to Topeka, Indiana; when they say 'A Topeka police officer,' I'm pretty sure they meant 'The Topeka police officer...'

OK, let's total this up:

  • three handguns: $600.
  • take: $1.
  • Net: $-599.
Looks like they're down about $199.67 per guy. But, hey, amortize that over three years in jail, and it's a loss of only $66.56 per guy per year. Most airlines don't get that kind of ROI.

I Knew I Should Have Taken The Blue Pill


Today's edition of the twice-weekly meeting was really dull; to stay awake I would look out the open door whenever anyone walked by, just to get a break from the monotony. During the 40-minute meeting, I saw the same guy enter the same conference room on five different occasions - but I never saw him leave it! Finally, it occured to me - it was a glitch in the Matrix, and Agents were coming for me right that second!

Did you know that the T-Mobile operator will hang up on you if you call her and yell "I need an exit right the fuck now!"?

Here's an update to a February (local) White Trash Wednesday story:

A 25-year-old Fort Wayne man was sentenced Monday to five years in prison and five years’ probation for driving his car into the entrance of a Target store and holding two employees captive.

. . .

Police arrested Hans in early January after he rammed his Ford Thunderbird into the entrance of Target, 6119 Stellhorn Road, just after 4 a.m. on Jan. 7. He had been looking for his estranged wife, who was an employee at the store. She had filed a protective order against him but was not there that morning because she had overslept.

After the crash, Hans told employees he was armed with a gun and demanded money, court records said. Hans then grabbed an employee by the arm, took him through the front of the store and told him he would not be hurt if he followed him. Hans took another employee hostage after releasing the first employee, court records said.

Hans’ wife told investigators that Hans left a message saying: “I’ll gut you like a fish.”

Moments before he crashed into Target, court documents said, Hans called her cell phone and left a message saying, “I’m about to drive through Target looking for you. I want to see you one last time before I go.” [emphasis added]

It's White Trash Wednesday! Take the whole tour:

Possessed By Butthead

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So I'm in the twice-weekly meeting where we discuss all the recent change requests (a less enlightened organization would call them 'bug reports') and decide what group needs to fix them and when they need to be fixed.

One of the engineers in the meeting described a problem with reloading the firmware on a peripheral device (which occasionally causes the entire system to lock up) thusly:

I tried to flash it, but half the time it just hung.
I spent the rest of the meeting chewing through my tongue in an attempt not to completely lose it.

I just got around to installing iTunes so I can cash in my 18 'free songs' bottle caps (and my mother said that my addiction to Mountain Dew would bring me nothing but trouble. Ha. Guess I showed her.). I learned some things co-writing a paper on spyware for my Info Systems Security class this semester that scared the hell out of me - so much so that I'm actually reading End User Licensing Agreements now (because you explicitly consent to a lot of 'piggy-back' spyware by clicking Yes on an EULA that has a clause on, say, page sixty-something which says "We can install whatever the hell else we want to on your machine, so go pound sand if you don't like it").

How do the previous two sentences tie together? Behold the iTunes EULA, page sixty-something:

Sigh. I guess it's back to the store with it, then. That bastard salesman promised me that this version would actually control nuclear power plants. I need to get that model they used on 24.

London's The Independent reports on the Michael Jackson trial:

A little over two weeks ago, Michael Jackson looked as if he was sailing towards an acquittal in his trial on child-molestation charges. The family accusing him of sexually abusing their 13-year-old son was vague on the details, contradictory, unsupported by much in the way of corroborating evidence and happy to admit a history of lying, even under oath.

Now, however, things look considerably dicier for the 46-year-old star in the wake of a single ruling from the trial judge, which allowed the prosecution to present evidence of prior allegations of child molestation even though they do not pertain directly to the charges he is now facing.

The headline for the article? America faces the unthinkable as tide turns against Jackson.


What. The. Hell?

Jackson's a freak, has been for years, and everybody knows it. What, exactly, is 'unthinkable' about the possibility of him being a child molester? Creepy, yeah; disgusting, definitely. But unthinkable? Not likely.

Although I suppose it shouldn't be unexpected; after all, they're the rag that inflicted Robert Fisk on the world.

There are some things that just should not change. Michigan football should always have the winged helmets. Porn should always be no more than three mouse clicks away. And the Cookie Monster should always be a monster about, well, cookies.

Alas, it appears he has fallen victim to Them What Want To Suck All The Fun Out Of Everything:

My beloved blue, furry monster — who sang "C is for cookie, that's good enough for me" — is now advocating eating healthy. There's even a new song — "A Cookie Is a Sometimes Food," where Cookie Monster learns there are "anytime" foods and "sometimes" foods
My God, people, is nothing sacred?

So Does She Get Worker's Comp?

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Exotic Dancer Injured Inside Fire Station:

SAN ANTONIO -- A 19-year-old exotic dancer was injured while sliding on a fire pole at a West Side fire station, sources told KSAT 12 News.

Sources said that three off-duty San Antonio Fire Department firefighters visited a gentlemen's club in October 2004 when two dancers followed the trio to Fire Station No. 10 at Culebra and Zarzamora roads because the women wanted to slide down the fire pole.

One of the dancers injured her back but refused treatment from paramedics, sources said.
Huh. I would have expected someone with her pole-sliding experience would have been able to deal with that.

And Would Somebody Answer That Damned Phone?


local6.com has the story of a near-tragic high school track and field accident in Florida (I blogged about a rash of similar injuries hit the Fort three years ago):

LAUDERDALE LAKES, Fla. -- A Lauderdale Lakes high school senior who was hit on her head with a shot put during track practice will be back out on the field.

The mother of 17-year-old Mona Hassan says her daughter has already been asking if they won.
"If who won, dear?"
"The Red Sox, Mom. Did they win the World Series?

(I'm only joking about this because Miss Hassan wasn't seriously hurt; I'm not that cruel.)

Sheriff Mickey Mouse


Abuse of law enforcement power is a pillar of White Trashdom (think Smokey & The Bandit's Sheriff Buford T. Justice or Dukes Of Hazzard's Roscoe P. Coltrane (aw, hell, think of both of them together!). So it shouldn't come as a surprise to regular WTW readers that a Florida sheriff apparently went to questionable lengths to find the address of a person who criticized him in a letter to the editor:

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Orange County's sheriff used driver's license records to contact a woman who wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper citicizing [sic] his staff's use of Taser stun guns and describing him as fat.

Some say Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary violated federal privacy law when he had his aides use the records to get the address of Alice Gawronski. He sent her a letter accusing her of slander.

It is illegal to access a driver's license database to obtain personal information, except for clear law-enforcement purposes, under the U.S. Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994.

"I recently read your slanderous remarks about the Orange County Sheriff's Office in the Orlando Sentinel," Beary wrote Gawronski on March 23. "It is unfortunate that people ridicule others without arming themselves with the facts before they slander a law enforcement agency or individual."

Slander? Here's the letter Gawronski wrote; what do you think?

How many people have to die before we realize that the use of Taser stun guns is a barbaric, torturous and even deadly tactic?

A few months ago I watched on the local news as Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary demonstrated the "safety" of the Taser by being stunned himself. Seeing him fall to the ground in an obvious state of distress was enough to convince me beyond a doubt that it should not be used.

There was something else Beary established during his press conference; that he would be too overweight and out of shape ever to apprehend a suspect without the assistance of a Taser. I doubt that Beary could even subdue a suspect already in handcuffs. Could this be a problem with all his officers? If two or three officers cannot subdue a suspect, maybe our Sheriff's Office should look at more physical-fitness training instead of resorting to these inhumane Taser guns.

Alice Gawronski

Winter Park

Since this was a published letter and not an oral statement, I'm certain that Beary meant libel rather than slander (and the fact that the head law enforcement official of Disney County apparently doesn't know the difference between them should raise a few eyebrows among residents of the Magic Kingdom).

The only thing I saw in that letter that could remotely be considered actionable was the statment "There was something else Beary established during his press conference; that he would be too overweight and out of shape ever to apprehend a suspect without the assistance of a Taser."

Beary's response (from the AP article):

"During my Taser incident, I was never under any duress," he [Beary] wrote Gawronski, adding that his heart activity was monitored by a doctor. Before the test, the 5-foot, 10-inch Beary estimated his weight at 290 pounds.
The expression 'Truth is the ultimate defense' tends to spring to mind here.

Update: Beary says he's sorry (link also gets you to the taser video, if you're so inclined - local6.com does it again!).

It's White Trash Wednesday! Take the whole tour:

The Amazing Halftime

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We're about halfway through this season's Amazing Race, with five teams eliminated and six still remaining. Let's look at those who were left at the roadside (as well as my prognostications so far).

  • First out - Ryan & Chuck (my prediction: early exit). I don't think I've ever been this disappointed by a team being eliminated first. It's hard to get attached to a team when you only see them on one episode, but these guys were a lot of fun to watch and I'm really disappointed I won't get to see more of them.
  • Second out - Megan & Heidi (my prediction: early exit). Ddamn. Ddouble ddamn. And I didn't even get to see them dragged through the mud.
  • Third out - Debbie & Bianca (my prediction: mid-pack). Yeah, you wanted to prove that all-girl all-blonde teams could go far in the race. How'd that work out for you?
  • Fourth out - Susan & Patrick (my prediction: early exit). Patrick whined so bad, every time he opened his mouth my dog would leave the room. Damn, kid. Just grab a straight razor, put Jewel on the stereo, and get it over with.
  • Fifth out - Ray & Deana (my prediction: top four). OK, so she's afraid of everything, and he's an overbearing putz. We were only led to expect half of that from their bio, and no points for guessing which half. And I totally called it when I predicted they'd be out before Meredith & Gretchen. Of course, that was foreshadowed about as subtly as the second half of this year's Orange Bowl.

So far, I'm doing OK in my picks - three of my bottom-feeders were among the first four out, and the other was one of my mid-pack picks. Of course, I took a big hit when final-four pick Ray & Deana didn't make it to halftime, but it was worth it getting them the hell off my TV.

Phuket, I'm Gettin' The Hell Off This Plane


Passengers let off 'unsafe jet':

British tourists are returning home after about 400 people refused to get back on an aircraft they said had fuel pouring out of one of the wings.

Passengers demanded to be let off the Phuket Air plane at Sharjah airport in the United Arab Emirates.

. . .

Dr Peter Hill, who was on board with his family, said "fuel was spewing out of the right hand wing".

Dr Hill, from the Isle of Wight, told the BBC the plane which had stopped for refuelling looked old.

He said: "There must have been 50 or 80 people on the right hand side of the plane screaming, absolutely panicked.

"We were just worried that the whole thing was going to ignite. It was just unbelievable."

An engineer was called to sit beside a passenger and see the fuel for himself, he said.

When the engineer's face "went white", he said, the plane was stopped.
This kind of reminds me of one of the first times I flew on a commercial airliner. It was an extremely hot and humid day, and as we taxied out to the runway, smoke (I thought) began to pour out of all the overhead vents. I looked back at where the cabin crew had strapped themselves in, but none of them appeared to care. Moreover, no other passengers even noticed what I was seeing.

I figured "Hell, somebody has to tell them," so I hit the call button. A few seconds later, one of the attendants appeared and asked what was wrong. I pointed to the vent, and, in as calm a voice as I could muster (but which was still undoubtedly three octaves higher than usual), asked "Is that normal?"

To her credit, she didn't roll her eyes as she replied "On a day like this, it's not unusual for condensation to fog up the vent air." To her further credit, I didn't her her mutter "Fucking noob" as she worked her way back to her jump seat. To her further further credit, she didn't contemplate legal action, like Phuket Air appears to be doing:

In a statement issued on Monday, Phuket Air said ground staff overfilled a fuel tank and some fuel was spilled.

Steps were "immediately taken" to clear up the spillage, it said and the flight had "no technical or mechanical problems".

It said the flight was cleared for take off and taxiing for departure when "a small number of passengers left their seats and moved towards the front of the aircraft causing affray".

The pilot was forced to abort the take off, it said. The airline is considering legal action against the passengers involved [emphasis added].

Update: It happened again:

A PLANE involved in two fuel-leak scares was at the centre of another drama yesterday.

The Phuket Air flight had to return to London several hours into a journey to Bangkok, because of a mechanical problem.

On Sunday many of the 200 Britons aboard the same Boeing 747 were terrified as fuel was seen flooding across a wing.

Two take-off attempts were aborted in the United Arab Emirates and some people left stranded.

Eventually the plane flew to Gatwick and then had hydraulics trouble.

Yesterday, with the fault apparently fixed, it set out at 8.30am.

The "same problem" flared up again, said Phuket Air, and the 747 was back at Gatwick by 11.37.

Am I the only one who finds it odd that Kentucky Fried Chicken's new ad campaign is backed by the song 'Sweet Home Alabama?'


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