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User Journal

Journal: Message to Fans

Journal by MsGeek

I'm maxed out on "relationships" here and have pruned all the "non-reciprocal" befriendings off my list. So I'm terribly sorry but I can't reciprocate anyone else befriending me. You're such a lovely audience, we'd like to take you home with us, we'd love to take you home...

If you want to see more of my snarky comments about geeky stuff, political stuff, and my progress returning to school, drop in and check out http://www.msgeek.org/.

Spam

Journal: Notice to all who need to contact me...

Journal by MsGeek
From the pink and mushy department: I am going to be abandoning my first serious email account after 8 years of use. Anyone who uses the mhass703@2cowherd.net address to contact me will find that after 12/31/2003 I will not be reachable there.

It's no big deal...I haven't gotten a serious email from that account in months. Check the text box for a temporary way of contacting me...I intend to ride herd on that email pretty closely for a couple of months to make sure that anyone whom I recognize who contacts me there can be forwarded to an email I will check on a regular basis.

I think I'm going to take a break from blogging for a little while so that this message has a chance of getting to the people it needs to get to. See you around New Year's.

Oh yeah, here's a little wish for a great 2004 to all my friends out there in Cyberspace.

United States

Journal: They got him...or at least that's what they say anyway.

Journal by MsGeek
OK, it's all over the news. Saddam Hussein, or at least someone who looks like Saddam Hussein, has been captured.

Excuse me if I'm a little skeptical. Saddam had several doubles, including people who had plastic surgery to look more like him. This could be one of these hapless "doubles" who was rousted out of a hidey-hole, not the genuine article.

I hope, if this guy's identity is proven as being Saddam Hussein, he goes on trial at The World Court at Den Haag. It's not bloody likely...he's prolly going to get a cell at Gitmo and that's the last we'll hear of him. Anyone know what happened to Manuel Noriega?

Update 3:47pm PST: According to CNN.Com, there were indeed DNA tests done on the man found yesterday...they apparently really do have Saddam Hussein.

Science

Journal: In Flew Enza

Journal by MsGeek

I've been quiet for a bit because of two things: finals and The Flu.

I got hit really hard with this Type A Fujian flu...not life-threateningly hard, mind you, but enough to really knock me on my @$$ for a while. I'm now on antibiotics because apparently I got a secondary dose of bronchitis along with the flu.

I'm getting better, but this is annoying. Why did this have to happen during finals? Great timing, huh?

Movies

Journal: It's official: Disney sucks...

Journal by MsGeek
Remember this article from my journal? Anyway, if you don't want to click the link, the executive summary of the article is that this Summer, Michael Eisner basically made the decision to close down Disney's traditional drawn animation studio in favor of a new emphasis on 3D.

Well, the chickens are coming home to roost for Eisner. The last Disney relative on the board of The Walt Disney Company, Walt's nephew Roy, has told Eisner to take his job and shove it. Here's the article from the LA Times (free but invasive registration required, sorry...) which includes a text version of Roy Disney's FOAD message, and here's the Smoking Gun-stylee scan of the actual letter.

Interestingly enough, Eisner's decision to kill its traditional animation unit is not cited in Disney's resignation letter, very surprising considering that his main duties in the company were supervising the Feature Animation unit. He cites lots of problems that refugees from the sinking Disney ship have cited in the past: Eisner's penchant to micromanage, the corners that were cut when building Disney's California Adventure and Hong Kong Disneyland, and many others.

What's going to happen next? Who knows. The Walt Disney Company is not the company it was when Eisner took it over in 1984. It is bled dry, a shriveled husk of its former self. Perhaps it's time for some healthy company to buy the company and end the farce. Paging Bandai?

Wireless Networking

Journal: AT&T Wireless...BITE ME!!!

Journal by MsGeek

Oh man. It took me almost an entire week, but I am off AT&T Wireless and onto T-Mobile. I'm battered, I'm bruised, I didn't get to keep my phone number like the FCC says is my right to do, but hey...I'm cool with it. T-Mobile even gave me a more memorable mobile number than what I had last...I might even memorize this one. ^_^

Let me paint you a picture of how badly AT&T are running their mobile division currently. My mobile phone needs are rather modest actually...I usually keep mine shut off and only use it to call or send text messages out every so often. Most of my calls are along the lines of "Richie, please pick me up from College," or "Hello, am I scheduled for today? When do you want me to come in?" calls to work.

For this reason, a prepaid phone actually works for me. My husband is even less likely to use his phone so he'll probably stay with his Free2Go phone. Most of the time his stays either in the glove compartment or his jacket depending on where he is.

However, since my job frowns on using company phones to call out for any reason other than dire emergency, I have been using mine more often than I usually do. So it's been eating $25 cards for dinner and $10 cards as late night snacks. Not good for the budget.

The AT&T GoPhone plan looked a lot better for my needs, and I wanted to move to that. Anyway, long story short, I went to an AT&T Wireless shop to get the job done, and they said "sorry, our GSM equipment is down, come back tomorrow." I came back the next day, and then when I got the same answer as last time I asked "well, is there a nearby AT&T Wireless store which is up and running?" The answer was shocking: "No, the system in the entire US is down and has been since Sunday."

That did it. November 24th, Mobile Phone Independence Day, was fast approaching. I could just pick up and go to another provider and take my number with me. Time to do research. I hit the Web and Googled until my eyeballs bled. Then I paid a visit to all the stores run by the majors: Verizon, Cingular, Sprint, T-Mobile.

Verizon pissed me off for two reasons: one, theirs was the only "local calling area" that would have left me paying roaming charges if I used my phone in Santa Barbara. Two, they really, really *should* give their landline customers a break on wireless service. They don't. I said "see ya!" and moved on.

Sprint is probably good for expats from Finland, Sweden or any other place where people live with mobile phones welded to their ears, or for people who have given up their landlines in favor of mobile 24/7. Their deals are only deals if you use your phone a lot. I moved on.

The fact that the Cingular site crashed my browser on multiple platforms pissed me off enough to give them a miss, although I did look through their brochure just to be fair. They're good if SBC is your landline provider.

However, T-Mobile got thumbs up for three reasons. One: their network is better and newer and wherever they have holes, they have good agreements with other providers. Almost all their phone plans have a service area covering the entire US, including their entry-level budget plan. Two, they have a wide spectrum of plans that cover everyone from light users like me to the heavy use crowd. And three, they have the geekiest network of the bunch. GPRS Internet, complete with their own ISP? Check. 802.11b? Check, and people who have T-Mobile accounts get 1/2 off unlimited monthly use plans. Their 802.11b "HotSpots" are everywhere: Starbucks, Borders, etc. etc. They come for an extra fee: $20 more a month for either. Neither makes sense for me at present, but it's nice to know the services are available if I need/want them.

Anyway, I waited a day to make sure the crush of new switchers had passed, and then made my move. I got a nice little Ericsson phone with Bluetooth and a built-in cellular modem but without all the bells and whistles I didn't need. Color screen? Please. Camera? I already have one. Polyphonic/.WAV ringtones? Not a priority. PDA functionality? I have a Palm for that and am happy with it. The phone I got isn't even one that SonyEricsson released in the US...it's a Euro-only one called the R520m. However, it does take most common SonyEricsson accessories, which is good. It's making me a very dangerous girl on eBay, though. :P

Anyway, according to FCC regs, the switch from mobile carrier to mobile carrier should only take a matter of hours. Not days, hours. I knew that Turkey Day was coming up, so I figured that I'd better give AT&T a little more time to get their act together.

Friday was the first estimate. Then this morning. Finally, at 3pm, I called T-Mobile on my non-working phone (611 worked) and got the straight dope about why the delay. "AT&T hasn't been relinquishing numbers. We have no problems with the other carriers. Just them. Really sorry. Do you want to wait longer or do you want us to activate your account with a new number?"

I sighed and said, "Yeah, activate me." In a matter of minutes, my phone sprang to life with a couple of text messages. "You got the text messages from us?" "Yeah, they're here." "You're live, then." "Thanks."

Anyway, I left a nastygram at the FCC letting them know of my misadventures. If any of you have had similar misfortune getting AT&T to cough your number up, I suggest you do the same. AT&T used to be an amazing, clueful company way back when. Alexander Graham Bell. The vacuum tube. Transistors. UNIX. Now this is what they have become. They truly Deserve To Lose (tm) now. Maybe Darl McBride should think of switching jobs. AT&T and McBride deserve each other, they're that lame. [sigh]

User Journal

Journal: Thanks.

Journal by MsGeek

First off, I don't really celebrate Thanksgiving. The commemoration of the genocide of the Indigenous Americans shouldn't be an occasion for celebration, but one for mourning.

That said, as far as totalling up what I am thankful for, as a lot of people also do this time of year, I realize I have much to be thankful for.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to pick up where I left off in College. Between financial aid and some family and friend support, I am not only able to pay for college expenses and books, but I am in the process of retiring a significant chunk of credit card debt. Not having all that Dot-bomb bust debt hanging over my head will feel *real good*.

I'm thankful that what remains of my family are basically a bunch of good people. Sure, there's a bit of dysfunction involved...how can there not be, it's the nature of family to be dysfunctional. I'm worried about a couple of my family members right now...Cousin Brad is in the hospital...complicated to try to explain why, but suffice it to say it's sufficiently bad to where he is in the ICU, and my Uncle Richard, who has been battling Prostate Cancer for a number of years, is not doing well. They both have been very supportive through the bad times and I'd really prefer they stuck around. Then again, as my dad would always say, "everyone's terminal."

I'm thankful for the Linux community. Whenever I've been stuck, I have had someone to give me the right piece of advice I've needed to fix the problem. Whether it's the Santa Barbara contingent, or the SFVLUG guys, or the developers of OSS whom I met at SCALE this last Saturday, I have never had problems with Linux that were insoluable. Perhaps that's the real reason why Microsoft fears Linux so much. Sure, there are people in the community who are too 'leet for school, but most I have met have been decent individuals. Good folks. Gotta love it.

I'm definitely thankful for my husband Richie. As of January it will be 17 years since our relationship started, and it hasn't gotten old or stale or lame, and we have only grown closer together instead of growing apart like some people do. Maybe part of the reason was deciding not to have kids. Maybe it's the fact that we seem to agree on more things about life than we disagree about. In any event, it's cool.

I'm also thankful that I made it to 40. For most of my life I thought I wouldn't, but amazingly enough I did. I think I can see my way clear to growing old gracefully. That is, if I don't do something stupid or we humans don't collectively do something stupid.

I'm thankful that people on the Left and the Right here in the US have stopped fighting each other long enough to challenge USA-PATRIOT. It's amazing to see right wing nut jobs like former Georgia Representative Bob Barr and Phyllis Schlafly and the card-carrying members of the ACLU agreeing about something. Perhaps there's hope. Funny thing: my congresscritter, the evil Howard Berman of the "RIAA hack-back bill" infamy, just sent my husband a paperback copy of the US Constitution. I checked in there...the entire text is present and accounted for. It's not a half bad document, if only the current Administration would support it and defend it like they said they would when they all got sworn in. :P

Anyway, that's about it for now.

Linux

Journal: SCALE, the sequel

Journal by MsGeek

It's 9am on a Saturday Morning. Usually at this point I would be still asleep. However, here I am sitting at SBLUG's booth, waiting for the lot of them to show up.

I have both my laptops here (yay for my super-leet rolling laptop bag and a second padded sleeve)and my badge is around my neck with an ibm.com/linux lanyard. They might as well have a lanyard that says SCO Smokes Crack because that's the take-home message.

Of course, nothing says "fuck you Darl" like a ThinkPad running Linux, and as you know that was one of my motivations for my new toy here. It's kind of upsetting that my PowerBook G3 isn't as immediately useful as this Thinkpad has been...I have always been partial to the MacOS and to Mac architecture in general. But there is just so much frobbing and tweaking that still needs to be done on WallyNavi, and the only thing that needs to be ironed out on BlueTomato is sound. There's IBM-ers here, it is likely they'll have the skillz to get it working. The x86 arch is braindead, but it's still the best arch to run Linux on.

I wish the SBLUGgers were here already, so I could go out exploring. There are also a few panels I want to check out, but I can't do that until everything is squared away.

I will be updating this as the day goes on.

Update 12:35pm...

Thanks to the good folks at 4Front Tech, my ThinkPad now has a voice. Their commercial version of OSS kicked the sound chip right over, no ifs, ands or buts. The only caveat is that I have to open a console, su to root, and then type in soundon to start OSS up. I don't mind that...the more I have to do in the console the more comfortable I will be with it. They offered me further help to get it running automatically, but I don't mind it the way it is.

If you have a stubborn sound card that won't kick over with the standard Linux drivers, give 'em a try.

And now...I had better get some food in me. Red warrior is about to die...agggh!

Update: 4:07pm

Very odd...sometimes this version of Mozilla doesn't accept typed input. I had to move to Konqui to type this. I'm running Mozilla 1.4. I know there's a Mozilla 1.5 out there so maybe I should grab that. However, good ol' Konqui is good ol' Konqui. Dependable as ever and as comfy as a pair of well broken in jeans.

Not much is going on right now...I think I'm just going to hang instead of going to another talk. I'm a bit low-energy thanks to the early wakeup call so keeping things low-key is best.

I'm also not going to stick around for the screening of Revolution OS. I have the DVD and although I kinda wanted the director to sign my DVD (well, it's actually the paper that's inserted in the front of the DVD case but it works just the same) I can watch it whenever I want.

All in all, a fun time. I think this is the last report I will make from the floor. I might write a digested version later, but I think I want to take one last swing aroun the display floor before I pack up. Ciao, sweeties...

User Journal

Journal: Thoughts at 9:22am PST

Journal by MsGeek

I haven't had anything interesting to post here for the past few days, so I think I will just dump off some random thoughts to keep the momentum going. I suppose you can call this a GeekBack because I will be revisiting a few things I mentioned in previous posts, but I'm too lazy to change the icon. Sue me.

I got a 93 out of a possible 100 for my Linux informative speech in Speech 101. That's in A territory, I think. I was not too happy about the lack of enthusiasm from the Peanut Gallery, but oh well. At least the Prof thought it interesting...interesting enough to where she's asking me questions about Linux for PowerPC. She's a Mac fan who has a couple of Macs that aren't really MacOS X candidates.

BlueTomato, my Thinkpad, is now a dual-boot of Linux and Windows 2K Professional. Unfortunately I couldn't keep it 100% Linux pure, because Win4Lin didn't like the Knoppix kernel. I could have patched the kernel, but meh. Not enough time to do it up in SB, not enough inclination. I need some sort of Windows to run the courseware I need to run for school, and if I couldn't put Win4Lin and 98SE on there this needed to be done.

2K took to this thing like a duck takes to water...nothing to install except patches, Avast Antivirus, (it's free as in beer and pretty much catches everything Norton would) ZoneAlarm, AdAware and 7Zip. Oh yeah, and the Thinkpad Control Utility from IBM. I was able to finally find out that, yes, IBM leasing flashed the BIOS to the most recent microcode before they let this machine out of the shop. Good.

I am picking up an external floppy drive for BlueTomato on Monday...I broke down and got an eBay account again. I hate them, I hate their weenie privacy policy, I hate everything about them, but damn, they are the only game in town for things like laptop parts and so on. The person who's selling me the floppy drive is a local, so it was just easier to pay them and pick it up in person.

Now all I need is a Toshiba or Sanyo-made Thinkpad 600E CD-ROM and a 600E TV-out cable, and I will be made in the shade. The current CD-ROM has an LG mechanism, so that makes it the sacrificial one when I swap it with the Sony CD-RW mechanism. You take the drive itself out of the caddy and replace it with the one you want. I want an extra in case I screw it up.

Once I get those items, however, I will prolly just let this eBay account sit idle. Again, I don't like their privacy policy and I had a problem with them when I had my original account...by problem I mean problem along the same lines as being a "problem drinker" or a "problem gambler." I have a slew of old Macs in need of TLC and Dreamcast goodies I bought with money I shouldn't have spent from back when I had the old account.

Anyway, gonna jet now...gotta pack up BlueTomato and get to LAVC. [daria]Go Monarchs. Rah. Go. Go. Kick butt.[/daria]

Slashback

Journal: Updates...GeekBack in full effect...

Journal by MsGeek
1.) I am not sure what my grade was on my Linux speech, but I basically cut it short on the fly because people weren't really interested and getting fidgety. It was kind of depressing, but you live and you learn. I plan on tweaking the speech further and reusing it somehow or another.

If you want to check it out, it's here.

2.) I'm back up to Santa Barbara this weekend. I will probably be bringing WallyNavi back, finally, and perhaps a headless laptop that has been set up as a WAP/Firewall/Router. The SB contingent wants to throw a birthday party for me too...w00t. Hopefully no fires this time.

3.) I was quite surprised by the flamin' roast-o-rama that was the Geeks On Atkins article. I bumped the threshold on that link to 3 so you don't have to wade through the really lame stuff. What was interesting too was that the day it appeared here I was busy working on some homework for Health 11, and the chapters of our text we were dealing with were all about...drum roll...Exercise and Nutrition.

It's funny, I thought I would detest Health 11 class. There is a requirement for the Associate Degree, mandated by the State of California, which states that you have to have one unit of PE and two units of "Healthy Living Education" if you want that AA/AS. (AA in my case) Turns out, it's actually been fun, and I have made some modest but good changes for the better in my self-care.

No Atkins for me, thanks. I don't have a gallbladder anymore, and eating tons of meat and tons of fat with not a scrap of fiber in sight is a prescription for disaster. And Depends. ;-) And I am not now or probably will never be a member of a trendy fitness club, or run marathons. Between 1991 and 1994 I had Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, and even people who are technically in remission are warned against strenuous exercise. I don't need a warning, actually...my body rebels if I push it too hard.

So basically this means I need to be careful about both diet and exercise. However, a sedentary lifestyle and carelessness with food got me pretty big and not doing so hot in the health department. So it's time to make changes. But slowly.

I opted to do two things: one, I bought myself a pedometer. Really, they're inexpensive, and they turn adding activity into ones life into a "beat your high score" video game. You wear the thing all day, turning the recording of steps off when you are in the car or in a sitting position. You have to remember to turn the thing back on when you are moving again, otherwise you cheat yourself out of steps towards your high score.

You write down your steps every night before retiring. My step log is being kept both on my Palm and on my fridge in a paper-and-pencil log. Every week, you average. Then you set a goal for the next week. Simple and tres geeky.

As for food, here are a few rules of thumb I'm following.

* Lean meats. Fish is a cornerstone, so is Chicken and Turkey. Pork on occasion. Beef very rarely.

* Grains, but the coarser the better. Polished rice, white flour, is to be avoided. Whole Wheat bread and tortillas. Brown Rice. Whole oats. Potatoes with skin eaten rarely, same with pasta. Only high-glycemic no-no that is a yes-yes here: corn. I'm a native Angeleno. I love Southwestern cuisine. I speak fluent Cocina Mexicana. I live very near some very excellent Mexican and Central American restaurants. There are some great Latin-oriented grocery stores here. The Olmecs bred a grass-like plant that grows wild in Mexico into corn about 3-4,000 years ago. Before the coming of the Spaniards the indigenous peoples of the Southwest ate lots of corn. And they were in way better shape before the coming of the Europeans and European diets. Corn can't be the enemy. It just can't.

* Fruits. Veggies. Veggies. Fruits. Lots and lots and lots of it.

* Dairy products in moderation, and only non-fat and lower fat forms of dairy. Full fat dairy is not only hard on the body, but something I have avoided anyway due to considerations with my lack of gallbladder.

* Replace animal grease and stuff with hydrogenated oils with olive, soy and canola oils. Nut oils are good too, like peanut and walnut. Nuts are a good thing to add to the diet, but carefully and in moderation. Avocados also are a good thing to mention in this category, as is peanut butter. Both are worthy replacements for cream cheese and/or butter, and are less calories than either, to boot. Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter. Hold the cheese and crema on the burrito or torta, but make sure the avocado or guacamole is there.

* I never got a taste for Tofu or most other soy foods, but I love Edamame. Edamame is steamed soybeans in the pod. Good hot or chilled. Pop 'em in your mouth out of the pod. Other beans are worthy additions to the diet, and familiar due to my love of local cuisine. Meals with bean protein plus a grain protein are good replacements for a meat meal.

Anyway, it's been three weeks of increasing the steps. I had been using these food guidelines anyway and even before monitoring my activity was losing weight. It's not spectacular weight loss, but it's slow and gradual and more likely to be kept off.

My mom dieted her ass off, and rode me like crazy about my weight. She ended up dying of colon cancer way too young. When my husband and I saw her in the open casket (barbaric custom, hate it) we both had one thought: "I'm sure she thinks she's thin enough at last." This is at the heart of why I don't diet. Whether low fat/high carbs, high protein/low carbs or whatever the flavor of the month is. If I'm heavier than ideal, so fsckn what. I want to be as healthy as I can be at whatever weight I'm at. It's like Don Van Vliet told a friend of mine, Zoogz Rift, once: "Better a big waist than a big waste."

Thanks, Ms. Garcia. You don't know how big a help your class has been.

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