Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Passed another Microsoft Exam

Since I found out that it had been ten years since my first Microsoft certification, I figured that I needed to get my certification caught up to my skills. I started by working on the Microsoft Exchange 2007, Configuring exam, 70-236, a difficult exam that I passed at the end of November. Simply passing that exam earned me the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), Exchange 2007, Configuring certification. At the time I wasn't really sure what if I was going to go beyond that or not, but I soon decided to work on the Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP): Enterprise Messaging Administrator certification which required two more exams. The first was 70-237, Designing Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, which seemed oddly easy, but I suspect that is because that is what I've been doing for the past year. Today I passed 70-238, Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.

Now that I've completed all of the requirements for the MCITP certification, I'm anxiously awaiting for Microsoft's records to be updated so I can print out a new certificate and get a new logo for the resume'. The next exam on the list is 70-640, Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring for yet another MCTS. Once passed, I will have all of the elements I need to get the Microsoft Certified Master certification. Well, almost everything, I'll need to get funding for $18,500 ($13,000 for a limited time) for the course, and three weeks to go to Microsoft in Redmond to take it. At this point, I'm not sure if it is worth it, since it seems likely that there will be an Exchange Server 2009. I guess we'll see.

Five Hundred Posts

I just noticed in my dash board that I have 500 posts on my blog. That is quite a milestone. I post about anything and everything. Sometimes I go for long periods of time without posting, other times I have several posts in a day. This being post number 501, I guess I can say that I'm more than half way to a thousand!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merit Badge Sash(s)

I asked, and I received. It takes more than one merit badge sash to display 121 merit badges!

Photo from

Shawn Goldsmith Earns 121 Boy Scout Merit Badges

Shawn Goldsmith has achieved a rare feat, earning all 121 merit badges offered in the Boy Scouts of America program. There are twenty-one merit badges required, among other things to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Eagle palms are awarded when more merit badges are earned, combined with troop service tenure. The best part about scouting is that there is much more program offered than one could ever take advantage of fully. Leaving boys to make decisions about what is important to them and what they would like to learn.

Shawn's achievement is great, but at what cost? Earning merit badges is an important part of scouting, but it is not the only part. Was his focus on the number of merit badges earned, or actually learning what each merit badge program had to teach? I wasn't a big merit badge earner. I look back at all the things I did when I was in the Boy Scouts and realized that I probably came close to earning several merit badges that I wasn't even trying to earn. My focus was more on service to scouting. I did a lot for my troop and the district, and even the council. I helped perform many Eagle ceremonies, even though I never had one of my own. And I worked on countless Eagle service projects. I also enjoyed the outdoors, camping, hiking, backpacking, canoeing, etc. I learned a lot in the process. Looking back, I probably should have finished enough merit badges and did my own Eagle project, because now I have little to show for my time in Scouting. I figure that I'll make up for that as a Scouter now that Alex has started in the program.

Even though Shawn earned every merit badge, the timeline does not add up to earning all possible Eagle palms. It is possible to earn up to 20 palms, which would be displayed as six silver and one gold palm. (silver = 3 palms, gold =2) Each palm requires you to be active in your troop and patrol for at least 3 months after becoming an Eagle Scout or after the award of your last Palm. The Eagle rank would have to be earned by your thirteenth birthday. And at least five merit badges would have to be earned every three months. All requirements must be completed by your eighteenth birthday.

Shawn's 121 merit badge feat is commendable. I hope he continues with venturing, and as a scouter. I would also like to see his merit badge sash, which unfortunately, he isn't supposed to wear now that he is an adult!

Old Quarters

Somehow, I have a pocket full of old quarters. I have seven quarters and a nickle in my pocket. The nickle is from 1970. The quarters are from 1967, 1971, 1974, 1979, and three from 1980. I spent a couple from the early to mid 80's at the snack bar this morning.

Interestingly enough, the dollar coin is back in the news. I don't mind the dollar coin at all, I used to use them a lot when I used the Baltimore light rail regularly. Face it, coins last for a long time. The 1967 quarter in my pocket is still in good condition. When is the last time you've had seven paper bills over 25 years old in your wallet?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Old Andrew Picture

I was looking through my pictures and found this old one of Andrew.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Domain Name

A great Christmas present, the domain name was given to be my my brother in law, stealthfiction. I always said that I would get a domain name, but never got around to it. I guess now I'm good for 2 years, but I better put a note on my calendar when it is time for renewal!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

So, I broke my blog

As you might be able to see if you look at this before I get around to fixing it, my blog is broken. I was simply trying find a way to change the way the blog archives were organized, and poof, all of my template customizations are gone. So, now I have to fix it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A new stealthfiction

The stealthfiction blog has been updated. Including a great section on Tim Burton's 9.

Updated top row photos again

Same pictures, just re-cropped and saved with a lot less jpeg compression. The last time I saved a jpeg, I had compression turned up really high, and things looked a little funny in the 100x100 pixel thumbnails.

Updated Template Photos!

I finally did it! I have up to date template photo thumbnails in my title bar. Here are the old ones.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

WhooHoo - I'm on Techdirt

I think this is the first time I've been mentioned, linked even, on mainstream blog (well, mainstream to me). I try to read techdirt a few times a week and find it an interesting source on things that are wrong with things like online censorship, copyright, patents, and so on. I recently ran into my own interesting brush with what a copyright issue that I wasn't pleased with. The short story is, a company bought the rights to Heathkit, and has been on a mission to remove copies of the old manuals from web sites where they have existed for years. This was just the sort of thing that I would read about on techdirt, so I sent them the tip and they posted it today! Old Electronics Kit Manuals Forced Offline Thanks To Copyright. My favorite part is "from the can't-learn-unless-you-pay dept".

Inauguration, I may go after all

I may be going to the inauguration after all. Not for the sake of going to the inauguration, but to help with communications. The planners have asked for Amateur Radio operators to provide communications on the Mall and coordinating charter buses and shuttle buses for the event. Since Frederick County's Amateur Radio Emergency Coordinator will be out of town that week, I volunteered to round up volunteers from the county, finally living up to my title as Assistant Emergency Coordinator.

I really haven't been given a lot of details on exactly what they want us to do, but regardless, this is a big event that will create communications gridlock. Ham radio operators are unique in that they understand how their radios work and they are frequency agile, not limited to specific channels. Combine that with message and traffic handling skills that many hams bring with them, and you get a good situation. I think the hard part will be getting folks to volunteer to go to Washington DC on inauguration day!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Darned Internet Restrictions at Customer Site

Ok, so, I've been sent to a customer site for a long term stay. It is bad enough that the customer has simply not moved past the 90's when it comes to their IT processes and doesn't seem very interested in doing so, but they have blocked access to live meeting audio. Why is this important? Because I'm trying to sit in on a Microsoft webcast on Managing and Administering Exchange 2007 using the Management Console and Management Shell. A lot of this stuff I know, but since they don't have Exchange 2007 here, it is a good way to keep it fresh in my head. Along the way I sometimes learn of a new or different way of doing something that I can apply later. With no audio to go with the slides, the webcast isn't very useful.

To make matters worse, I can't even access the virtual labs! I had sort of left the webcasts alone for a while as they were the same thing over and over again. But the new labcast concept sort of turned me onto it again. The webcast, I can just download, but the labcasts, they are online all the time, and it looks like there won't be an option for using them. In the IT field, staying on top of technology is pretty important as every new version of a product obsoletes your skills.

It seems just about anything modern is blocked and restricted. This organization will not do well attracting the best and brightest in the IT field if it continues to block the connections we use to interact with our peers and to improve our understanding of technology.

Laptop fixed

I had no trouble fixing my Windows Vista laptop once I got my hands on the right Windows Vista install DVD. All I needed to do was boot with the CD, and click repair, then tell it to perform a system restore. I'm still going to sweat a little when I go to install those updates again. Before I do I'll probably do a quick backup of some things that will be a pain to get back if the computer dies again

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A little trouble with my laptop

After installing the latest updates last night, the computer is now in a state of infinite rebooting. When starting up, I see the familiar "configuring updates stage 3 of 3 0% complete do not turn off computer" but it never completes and just when you would expect your logon screen to appear, it says, shutting down and the process repeats. It does this when booting in last known good, safe mode, etc. I'm pretty sure the fix is to use the Windows Vista installation DVD to boot and you should get an option to repair and restore from a previous system state restore point. I'll need to get the service desk at the office to give me a copy of Windows Vista Business so I can do that. I'm not sure if I will want to rebuild the computer after this failure or not.

I can blog from work!

Wow, they have so many Internet restrictions at this job site that I didn't even try blogger. I really wanted to blog about my first real Powershell script today, so I figured I'd give it a try. And it worked! I'm glad I tried. Now, I better get back to work!

Just wrote my first real Powershell script

I wrote a script that searches an Active Directory group recursively for any nested groups that includes sender restrictions.

function GroupMembers
$adsistr = "LDAP://" + $args[0]
$group = [ADSI]$adsistr
if ($group.objectcategory -eq "CN=Group,CN=Schema,CN=Configuration,DC=domain,DC=local")
if ($group.authorig -ne $null)
foreach ($member in $group.member)
GroupMembers $member
GroupMembers "cn=dl-all users,ou=groups,dc=domain,dc=local"

I actually wrote the script in Visual Basic script first, and then translated it into Powershell. While I've been doing well with various Powershell cmdlets with very simple logic one liners, I really don't consider them scripts. I've been trying to become proficient with Powershell for a while, and now I think I've found a way to do it. I think that I'll take some of my old standby Visual Basic scripts and rewrite them in Powershell.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Talk about traffic

It took 3 hours longer than usual to get from the Baltimore area back to Frederick this evening. The shoulders of I70 were littered with cars, especially between Mount Airy and New Market. I was almost caught up in someone else's accident between Sykesville and Libson, I don't know how it could happen, but the SUV a few hundred yards ahead of me just lost control, slid to the left into the median, then over corrected to the right across 3 lanes of traffic right in front of me and a tow truck

Friday, December 05, 2008

One College Football Game per Year

I only make it a point to watch one College Football game each year. That is the Army versus Navy game. It has been a tradition for me since I was in the Boy Scouts. Sounds weird, but December was when we had the annual father and son camp out, which was more like a camp in with one or more cabins complete with electricity. On Saturday afternoon we'd watch the Army versus Navy football game. I always root for Navy, I guess that is because I grew up in Maryland not to far from the Academy in Annapolis.

Auto Industry

If Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors will be expected to pay back loans from the government, why can't they just borrow money from banks? Might it be that nobody expects them to be able to pay it back? I think that the US auto industry has some fundamental problems that it needs to fix and I think that sending them money isn't the best incentive for them to fix their problems.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Microsoft Network Monitor 3.2

Remember network monitor AKA netmon from back in the day? Yeah, it really wasn't that great of a tool, at least not compared to some of the other tools out there like ehtereal. Even in situations where I thought that it might help, it was a tool that I rarely pulled out of the toolbox. So infrequently that it really hasn't been in the toolbox (you know, the mental toolbox that says, download this from Microsoft if I'm having trouble) lately.

I've been learning about Network Monitor 3 (3.2 to be exact) and it is great. What makes it great? Parsers, lots of parsers. And a fairly easy to understand language to write your own parsers if the packets you need to parse aren't included! Any systems administrator or engineer responsible for Windows or other Microsoft applications should definitely spend some time with the new Network Monitor. You are not likely to be disappointed. The Active Directory administrator could make great use of the DNS, Kerberos, and NetLogon parsers, among others. There is even an iSCSI parser for the storage folks.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Fire Drill!

Yep, we had a fire drill. No, not at work, or at school. The fire drill was at home. It is one of the requirements to earn the Tiger Cub rank in Cub Scouts. Alex really enjoyed planning and executing the fire drill. Our gathering spot is at the mailbox, and then when everyone is there, we move to the far parking spot.

Prometric Testing Center in Frederick Maryland

I guess this place is new. They gave me a card that said "Now Open In Frederick". It works for me because, well, I live in Frederick!

65 Thomas Johnson Drive
Suite A
Frederick, MD 21702
301-662-3808 x0

So, if you need to take a Microsoft, other IT, or whatever else is offered through Prometric and you live in or near Frederick Maryland, this is the place to go!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Microsoft Certification Certificate

I just downloaded the electronic copy of my MCTS certificate and noticed that it was signed by Bill Gates, Chairman and Chief Software Architect, Microsoft Corporation. Didn't Mr. Gates leave Microsoft? So why is he 'signing' my certificate? I'm not saying that I mind, it was just a little bit of a shock. Well, at least it wasn't signed by Jerry Seinfeld!

The new Microsoft certifictation logos are nifty

They have a log builder and logo libary, so you can customize the logos with the certifications you've earned.

Hopefully I'll be adding the MCTIP logo to my logo library before too long!

Free Microsoft Education

While looking for some Microsoft training resources, I came across several free courses/clinics. Taking these won't make you a Microsoft expert overnight, but they are free, and so far, they seem like good overviews and introductions.
Microsoft Learning Manager - English Catalog, Free Products. So far, I've started Clinic 5091: Introduction to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging, and I'll probably do Clinic 6080: Deploying Microsoft Forefront Server Security Products next. I've recommended Clinic 3404: What’s New in Windows Vista and Course 4697: Introduction to the New Microsoft Office Fluent User Interface. I'll probably recommend those to some of my customers as well.

If I keep saying I should do it, will I?

I really need to update the pictures of the kids at the top of my blog! Zoe and Aidan have grown so much, even Alex and Andrew have updated features. For example, Alex wears glasses now.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Already breaking campaign promises?

Word is that the Obama transition team has requested information on the cost savings of canceling the Ares 1 & Orion projects. I recall during the campaign that Obama pledged funding into NASA aimed in part at narrowing the gap between the Space Shuttle's retirement and the introduction of a successor system. While I thing that the Ares 1 rocket isn't the best thing ever conceived by NASA, it does use a lot of existing technology, keeping cost down and likely bringing it to a quicker reality. Starting from scratch with a new administration would be counter productive, costly, and would widen the gap between the Space Shuttle's retirement and the next era in space travel. Of course, I haven't seen the actual questionnaire, so there could be much much more detailed information that indicates otherwise, but this is not the best of signs. I wonder how my big tax cut is coming?

Parents complain about toy advertising

I'm not a big fan of toy advertisements. They are obnoxious and I think designed to make kids feel bad about not having whatever toy that is being advertised. I guess, with some kids, it works. I see the commercials influence Alex, but we don't buy him very many toys as it is. It isn't that he doesn't get anything, but he doesn't always get the latest and greatest thing that is splashing across the TV screen. It seems to work for our family.

When it comes to family life, I've already figured out that we aren't really normal, and after reading the Fox AP story: In Lean Economic Times, Toy Advertising Under Fire, that notion is reinforced. What I take from this article, is that these parents haven't taught their kids that just because it is on TV, doesn't mean you have to have it, or that you even want it.

I think the biggest problem is what the kids are watching on TV. Alex isn't a TV junkie, but he still watches TV. I encourage the Disney channel. Their advertising is the tamest of them all, basically just advertisements for other Disney shows and videos. Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network are the worst. Every five minutes kids are bombarded with must have it latest piece of junk ads. The same is true with the cartoon blocks on broadcast TV, like on Saturday morning.

So, what is a parent to do? Basically, don't buy the stuff that is advertised, at least not regularly. Then, focus on gifts that will stand the test of time. A great gift for all of our children was the Melissa and Doug Deluxe Floor-Standing Wooden Easel on sale for $35. I've never seen this advertised on TV, and the kids love it, and they'll be playing with it for years. I guess it helps that since we rarely buy advertised products, we can say, and have said (to Alex) "Do we ever buy you what you see on TV?"

Friday, November 28, 2008

Updated Template, Again

I added a link to Cub Scout Pack 285, Amy has been working hard on the pack web site. It looks really good, better than anything I could do. My web skills are stuck in the 90's. Now, I just use blogger to post my web content.

The pack web site is done in wordpress, which is pretty nice, but there are often security bugs in it that would concern me. Amy just updated it today due to a seuciryt vulnerability. She was holding off verson 2.7, but she decided to go to 2.6.5 to fix the security bug.

MCTS: Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 – Configuration

Back in the day, you used to only have to say, I'm an MCSE, and you could get respect in the IT field. Then, somewhere around 1999 or so, the MCSE certification became watered down. I blame the Internet, and the dumbing down of the TCP/IP exam. If you were in the field around that time, you might remember the old TCP/IP exam where you had to understand things like subnets and routing, and the new TCP/IP exam where it was mostly a Microsoft WINS, DNS, & DHCP.

These days there are a ton of Microsoft certifications. The lowest being the MCTS, or, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist. But the MCTS doesn't really mean anything unless it is followed by something, which in my case is, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 - Configuring. That is a lot harder to say, than MCSE. The good news is that there was only one test to pass, Microsoft Certification Exam 70-236. It wasn't the easiest test I've ever taken, in fact, I was surprised at just how hard it was. The MeasureUP practice test that came with my book probably made it worse. There were several question/answers that were just wrong. One even had two answers that were exactly the same, of course, only one of them registered as correct. The practice test did give me an idea of how the questions would be asked on the exam, but the content on the actual exam was very different from the practice test content.

The sad thing about the MCTS, is that someone can pass a basic Windows Vista exam also has an MCTS certification, so you have to be clear when explaining your certifications. The good news is that with the specialized certifications, you can really show your skill in a particular field, which is good for a consultant like myself. I'll be moving on to MCITP next, that is, Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional: Enterprise Messaging Administrator. That will require me to pass two more exams, 70-237, Designing Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 & 70-238, Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.

What I'm really looking forward to is the new Microsoft Certified Master program. As you would expect, it requires the MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator, plus Exam 70-640: TS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring. They also require your resume with five or more years of Exchange experience, with at least one in Exchange 2007. Those are all the easy requirements, the hard part is coming up with the $18,500 that the class and exams cost, and the three weeks travel expenses and time away from the job. This is also where working for a Microsoft partner will go a long way.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Doing work?

Is it bad that by day two at the customer site that I’m ready to pull out the rest of my hair? They have so many self inflected problems. At first, the place seemed to have all of these processes and controls in place for systems management, but then I learned differently. Software accidentally gets installed on Exchange mailbox servers. Software with known incompatibilities with Exchange is running on the mailbox servers. There was an unexpected reboot of an Exchange mailbox server today, but there was a sense of normalcy about the event. I heard a story about an outage a few weeks ago that required complete data recovery, and it was the first time they had ever attempted complete data recovery. Operating system patches are installed without testing against Exchange server. And then they drop the bomb shell, that this is the way it is and it will take years to change. I think they have the wrong person filling this role.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I really need to update the title pictures at the top of my blog!

What a Waste of a Good PC

My current customer assigned me a PC today, and what a waste of a good PC it is. It has a high end 64 bit processor, but 7 year old 32 bit windows operating system installed. Say what you will about Windows Vista, but once you've put its features to good use, it is hard to go back to XP and be as productive. In this case, wouldn't it make the most sense for them to use older computers? I would really like to be a desktop engineer for a while (as long as I was well paid). So many organizations waste tons of time and effort at the desktop level when the technology is there to manage desktops effectively and efficiently. I think that there is a mentality in IT management to move quality engineers to their 'server' teams, and keeping their 'desktop' teams filled with the inexperienced or inept, which actually increases the cost of the desktop lifecycle.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Does the DOD have a clue?

They've banned removable media such as CDRs and flash drives because of a virus or worm that is spreading on their network. First, I would think that regular flash drives would not be permitted to be used on classified systems, at least at a minimum, they don't use the same flash drives on classified and unclassified systems. Second, it seems that if the systems were secure in the first place, this sort of thing wouldn't happen. All of the good details are classified, but I bet keeping them classified has as much to do with the possibility of embarrassment as it does with actual security. If the public knew just how insecure their systems were, some folks would actually have to answer for it.

Better late than never

I was working on an issue with Windows Server 2008 Network Load Balancing (NLB). Things weren't going so well when I used the same methods that I've used with Windows Server 2003. I first got it to work by assigning a second default gateway, which is not really a valid configuration. Since I didn't want to leave it that way, I went digging for some detailed information.

After piecing together information from various sources, it turns out that IP forwarding is not enabled by default on Windows Server 2008. The following command enabled IP forwarding on the network interface.

netsh interface ipv4 set interface "NLB NIC" forwarding=enabled

Some management always wants a good source before they will sign off on anything, and various blogs and forum posts don't always count. Technet blogs seem to have the credibility they are looking for. You'd think that paying $180/hour for a consultant would be credible enough when he said that this is what you need to do! Well, the good news is, some of the good folks at Microsoft have posted the setting on their technet blog.

Now I have something more than, "trust me, I know what I'm doing" when I run into this again. Also, for the folks who are stuck in the Windows NT 3.51 days, they show you how to make the change via the registry editor.

Key name: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters
Value Name: IpEnableRouter
Data Type: REG_DWORD
Value: 1

I'm so happy the came out with the netsh command.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Minor template updates

Changed some meta data, and added some links.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Presentation on Digital Traffic

It is pretty basic, but I think it got the point accross.

It covers both NTS and ICS, winlink, packet, and so on.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

DC Metro Loan Deal

I've been following this story for a couple of weeks. It seems that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transmit Administration borrowed some money from a bank, and the terms of that loan required the WMATA to have insurance of a certain quality or pay back the loan. The insurance backer was AIG, which had its ratings cut recently, and the insurance provided no longer meets the standards of the loan. Now, Metro doesn't want to live up to the terms it agreed to and wants the government to fix it. Why doesn't Metro simply honor its contract? I guess it is for the same reason that many homes are going into foreclosure, they agreed to terms that they could not live up to. Like many, forces outside of their control lead to a bad situation, but you would think that someone, somewhere would have asked the question, what do we do if our insurance rating is lowered and we have to pay back the loan in full?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Official Specimen Ballot

We received our official specimen ballots in the mail and as expected, there are no real good choices for president.

I don't really understand how they figure out the order that the candidates are listed.

For president, it starts with Barack Obama, with John McCain second and some lesser known candidates further down if you are reading top to bottom before left to right. If you read the table left to right then top to bottom Obama would be first, with Nader second, and McCain third.

The order seems random, with the exception of the Democrats being first and Republicans being second. It doesn't go by alphabetical order for the first or last name, state, or even party.

The same goes with the candidates for Maryland's 6th congressional district. It starts with Jennifer Dougherty then Roscoe Bartlett, with Gary W. hoover, Sr. at the bottom for the Libertarian party.

The common theme, well, the top slot in both cases is occupied by Democrats. I wonder if it is just a coincidence or something more.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Zoe's Big Girl Bed

I setup Zoe's bed today. We have had it for quite a while, but never put it together because there wasn't enough room for the bed and the crib together. After putting it together, I went out and bought a mattress, and Amy bought sheets pillows and a comforter.

The crib has been disassembled, so Zoe will sleep in a bed from now on!

There is a pillow on the floor just in case, but I think she will do just fine.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Jennifer Dougherty, Maryland 6th District Congressional Candidate

McCain is almost certainly going to be my choice for President this election, as is Roscoe Bartlett, but until now, I really haven't looked into Jennifer Dougherty. So, I have spent some time reading Jennifer's web site.

I don't think I learned much about her platform. Most of her platforms seem to be aligned with Obama, but I don't think that Jennifer realizes that people generally have different expectations of their congressional representation than they do from their president. While there will be many voters who will vote for her because they are voting for Obama and she is another Democrat on the ticket, most voters, especially Maryland's 6th congressional district voters, will vote for a candidate based on the candidate's record, character, and their stance on the issues. Even if Obama gets more votes that McCain here in the 6th district, which is unlikely, I don't think that Jennifer will win.

Roscoe Bartlett isn't the perfect candidate, but I do believe that he looks out for the interests of his constituents, and his votes generally reflect their will. Interestingly enough, the first thing I saw on Jennifer's web site was about Bartlett. Roscoe's web site makes no mention of Jennifer Dougherty that I could find, even by using google to search

I generally don't focus on the negative, but I don't understand how someone could lose a race for mayor in Frederick and expect to win a race for congress in the 6th district.

200,000 Miles

My car hit a milestone on Tuesday, 200,000 miles. I wanted to take a a few pictures and a video, but I wasn't in a good spot to manipulate a camera so I could only safely get the two pictures. The 200,000 mile mark while I was exiting Interstate 95 North at exit 53 onto Interstae 395 North in Baltimore. Just before I got to the exit, the traffic was a bit of a challenge, but it let up just enough for me to manipulate the camera for pictures.

The car is a 1999 Dodge Avenger ES with a 2.5 liter 6 cylendar Mitsubishi engine. I'm not much of a car guy, but I do try to take fairly good care of it. Over the years it hasn't given me too much trouble. Early on, a transmission sensor would fail, and a few years back it left me on the side of I-270 a few times which turned out to be a problem with the coil pack ignition. The first time the mechanic couldn't find anything wrong, then a few days later it happened again, and I suggested that the mechanic actually find something wrong with it.

I hope it lasts two more years. That would be enough time for the van to be paid off and I will have some flexability in choosing my next car. If the car should die before then, I'll probably just get a new Toyota Corolla, or something similar. Cheap, good milage, and reliable will be my only requirements. Oh and it must have cruise control, without cruise control, I'll end up with tons of speeding tickets.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The "Bailout" Fails

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 did not pass the House of Representatives today, and I think that is a good thing. I'm one of those folks that thinks that the economy will right itself. The big drop in the Dow and other stock indexes today was in reaction to a bailout that they expected but didn't get. If the bailout wasn't expected, the damage wouldn't have been as bad. The "experts", the administration, and congressional leadership told us last week that if we didn't pass this bill on Monday, last Monday, the country's financial system would collapse. Well, the bill didn't pass last week, and nothing really abnormal happened, and then the bill failed today, and the markets did what markets do.

What really needs to happen is that people need to pay their bills. Despite the economic crisis, there are still plenty of folks with full carts at Wal-Mart, the mall parking lot is still packed. Are these the folks are carrying too much debt and can't pay their bills? I suspect some of them are. There are many Americans out there that don't have their priorities strait, they have houses or apartments full of electronics, DVD players and other gadgets, but their debt is going bad. Costing the rest of us money in our IRAs.

They say the root cause of the problem is the decline in home prices. Did anyone stop to think that these houses may have been overvalued in the first place? I over paid for my house, and even with the recent declines, is worth more than it was when I bought it, and it is still over priced. Of course, I didn't overextend myself to buy it either. I don't have a BMW 7 series parked out front (seriously, someone in my neighborhood does) and while I would love a bigger house with some land, I knew I couldn't really afford it, even if I could have been approved for the loan. It is that sort of common sense that more Americans should have used, which they didn't that got us into the financial crisis.

The best part of this scam is that "nobody saw this coming", well, it was pretty obvious if you ask me. I remember that several years ago my grandfather was talking about mortgage backed securities, and how they used to be good safe investments, but they are more risky now, and more people won't be paying off their loans. This was at least 4 years ago. The entire United States government couldn't figure this out back then and make some simple, and cheap, adjustments to prevent this. I'm OK with minor government regulation of items of national importance, that is a good role for government, to be a guiding hand, but not to be in the middle of everything micromanaging it completely. So we know that the government isn't the best at managing financial matters, but if they couldn't figure it out, surely the smart folks on Wall Street could, right? Sure they could, they knew what was going on, the just figured that there would be always be another sucker to pass these securities to after they made some money. What others have called, the "last sucker".

The 700 billion dollar Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 make taxpayers the "last sucker".

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Joe Biden Rumor

The main stream media is reporting on a “rumor” that Joe Biden will somehow be replaced as the vice presidential candidate for the Democrats. It is interesting that I was thinking about this since shortly after the Republican convention. I’m pretty sure I’ve brought it up in conversation a few times. I don’t see Joe Biden in the picture, almost as if Barak Obama has deemed him as an insignificant part of his campaign. Of course, the rumor also says that Senator Biden will be replaced with Senator Clinton. This could really work out well, or it could blow up into a huge mess. I wonder if it will really happen, well, if it does, it sure will be interesting to watch on TV.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thank You Mom

My mother has hemmed many pairs of pants for me when I was a child. Today, she hemmed Alex's Cub Scout uniform pants. I was thinking about doing it myself, but when I looked it up on the Internet, I wasn't sure I could do it well. I didn't do a very good job sewing the insignia patches on his shirt. While the council strip and den number look pretty good. The world crest is a little crooked, as is the 8 in is pack number, which makes the entire 285 look crooked, even though the 2 and 5 are pretty good. So thank you mom for hemming Alex's Cub Scout uniform pants.

His first pack meeting is on Tuesday night. I hope to get a good picture of him in full uniform. Well, at least with everything he has so far. I really wish he had the belt, it is a pretty important part of the uniform as far as looks go. And once he starts earning belt loops, they'll need a place to go. The good news is that his belt should be here before the October pack meeting, which is when he would have his first chance to be awarded a belt loop.

Great Frederick Fair 2008

It was another great year at the fair. This year we added our nephew Aaron to the group for the final day. Going to the fair with all of the kids is a lot of fun. But us adults sure do miss out on some good stuff. Like some of the real thrill rides. But Rides aside, I really felt like we missed out on something when we passed Hemp's meats. They had the longest food line at the fair, and I've also heard through word of mouth that they have the best meat sandwiches, like, roast beef and ham. But with the children in tow, where we eat has to meet some certain standards, like, having a place to sit down, having french fries, and either chicken nuggets, hot dogs, or hamburgers.

So, we ate at Layton's concessions, just a little stand that had stools, everyone got a seat but Zoe, she was just too short!

Of course, there are rides too!

We are missing some critical pictures. Well, they aren't missing, we just didn't take them. One of the great things about the Great Frederick Fair are the agriculture exhibits. At first, Alex and Aaron, especially Alex, didn't want to see the animals, in their mind, they just didn't compete with the rides. But they saw cows get milked, an alpaca competition, more cows, goats, pigs, various fowl and rabbits. There were no animals giving birth while we were there, but there were some new born piglets and calves. They also saw a miniature donkey and a miniature horse. The best part was that once we got started, Alex and Aaron got into it!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Template Change

I moved my the Twitter updates section above the previous posts section. I think it works better that way. Since I can go for quite a while without an actual blog update, but I'm likely to update twitter more often, I wanted it to be near the top. Twitter will probably be the best thing that has happened to my blog since I can remember!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Scouting Service Stars

While I’m not planning on being a Cub Scout leader this year, it is definitely on the horizon. Later on in my Scouting career I learned to embrace the uniform, and that has stuck with me through the years. Now that I see myself wearing a uniform sooner than later, I want to be sure I do it right. While it might be a bit on the obsessive compulsive side, I want it to be just right.

While thinking about the uniform that I will probably be wearing by this time next year, I thought about the service stars, which are a way display your years of service to Scouting. My first year, I was a Tiger Cub, after which I spent three years as a Cub Scout. The regulations say that I have the option of wearing a 1 year service star with an orange background and a 3 year service star with a yellow background. This is clear, but I haven’t figured out which I plan to do on my adult uniform. It gets a little more confusing from then on, as I was a Boy Scout for seven years, and Explorer for five years, and an assistant Scoutmaster for three years. But those terms overlap. The last two years I was a Boy Scout, I was also an Explorer, and my last three years as an Explorer, coincided with my tenure as an assistant Scoutmaster. I was wondering if it was wrong to wear a 7 year service star with a green background, a 5 year service star with a red background, and a 3 year service star with a blue background.

I consulted the official Boy Scouts of America Insignia Guide, which didn’t really cover the subject of overlapping service. So I consulted the Internet. The site was quite informative on the subject, but still didn’t cover my specific question so I e-mailed the author, a Scouter with 47 years in the program. His answer was that I should wear the 7 year service star with a green background for my time in Boy Scouts, a 5 year Service Star for my time in Explorers, and a 3 year Service Star for my time as an assistant Scoutmaster, along with my choice of Cub Scout tenure service stars. In fact, he even said that it would be OK to wear a 10 year and 9 year service star with a blue background, even though the total number of years I have in the program don’t yet add up to nineteen.

The advice seems good, but when the time comes, I’ll also check with the local leadership to see if they have any specific standards.

After some thought, wearing these might seem like showing off, and while it is nice to have recognition for things, my hope is that the boys I will lead look at them and ask me questions like, “What does the green backing mean” and I could answer, “that was for Boy Scouts”, or “What does the red backing mean” and I could answer, “that was for Explorers and while Explorers isn’t a Boy Scout program anymore, they have added Venturing to replace it.” The hope is to get younger boys thinking about what they can do in the future.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Scouting Regrets

Most of us regret decisions we made when we were young, some more than others. I regret not advancing to Eagle Scout when I was a boy. I stayed in scouts until I was eighteen, and then beyond in Explorers, the Order of the Arrow, and as an Assistant Scoutmaster, but I didn’t earn the rank of Eagle. I also regret not earning the religious emblems for my faith, the Parvuli Dei and the Ad Altare Dei. Now that Alex is about to start Cub Scouts, I see that there are things that I will ask of him that I failed to do myself. And since I fully expect to become an active leader in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, I’ll be asking the boys I lead to do the same. As a boy, I looked up to my leaders, and I hope the boys I lead look up to me, and I’m sure they will, even without these achievements. Maybe it is just in my head, but somehow, having earned these recognitions, I would have made a better Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader.

Even with my regrets, I do not consider my Scouting experience a failure, in fact, nothing could be further from my mind. While I didn’t spend much time working on requirements, I spent a lot of time on service projects and the scouting organization itself. While I didn’t obtain the rank of Eagle Scout, I worked on many Eagle Scout service projects for others. I was also one of the most active members in my Order of the Arrow chapter, which during a typical month required much more time than troop and patrol commitments. Most of that time was spent doing things for the district, council, and troops beyond my own. I think I earned the backpacking merit badge, but even if I didn’t, that was my favorite troop activity, and I spent a lot of time as an older boy helping the younger boys learn the ropes of camping and backpacking. This was my scouting experience, and while I have regrets, I’m not sure I would have done it differently. Maybe it will prove to be valuable experience in mentoring boys who may have interests other than advancement and recognition.

Cub Scout Academic and Sports Belt Loops

I think I remember earning a few belt loops when I was in Cub Scouts. I was looking at the requirements and I see that Alex will probably earn one for Gymnastics right away. I was reviewing the requirements further and found something a little discouraging. Many Webelos requirements include earning the belt loop, but it is specific that the belt loop must be earned while a Webelos Scout, even if the belt loop was earned while a Tiger, Wolf, or Bear. While I see some reasoning in this, specifically, to keep the boys from advancing too quickly, I think the negatives outweigh the positives. I really don’t remember if the requirements were the same when I was a Cub Scout, but knowing me, I would have put off earning belt loops until I was in Webelos, because who wants to do the work twice, or not get the most they can from a particular effort. While I’m sure Alex will have no trouble earning a belt loop like gymnastics again without even thinking about it, others could encourage him to simply redo something he has done because it was easy and discourage him from trying something new, or simply frustrate him and create some resentment, thinking that time was wasted earning the belt loop when he was younger.

They could improve the requirements by adding the ability to substitute the academic and sports pins as a substitute for boys who have already earned the corresponding belt loop. While pins require a higher level of knowledge and participation to earn, that option would enable the boy to earn belt loops while a Tiger, Wolf, or Bear, without concern that he’ll just have to redo it when he graduates to Webelos.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Alex's Cub Scout Uniform

I ordered Alex's Cub Scout uniform tonight. There is a lot more to it than a shirt and pants.

-Cub Scout Long-Sleeve Shirt Polyester/Cotton, Blue, Long-Sleeve, Small, Youth
-Cub Scout Uniform Pants Polyester/Cotton, Blue, 06, Youth
-Tiger Cub Cap Small/Medium
-Tiger Cub Crew Socks X-Small (5-7)
-Tiger Cub Web Belt with Buckle
-Tiger Cub Neckerchief
-Tiger Cub Neckerchief Slide
-World Scout Crest Emblem
-National Capital Area Council Shoulder Patch
-Unit Numeral 2
-Unit Numeral 8
-Unit Numeral 5
-Cub Scout Den Numeral Den 5

Grand total, $97.31 including tax and shipping. I should have just made a list of what I needed and stopped by the Scout Store in Bethesda. I will pass by the area a few times this week. I would have saved $10 shipping. Oh well, if I forgot something, thats what I'll do.

Ravens Bye Week, Sept 14

Talk about lame. If the Ravens end up going for a playoff spot, a bye week in November would be much better! I know you can't control the weather, but you can plan for it! The league should have been ready to move the game to another location. They've been talking about Ike heading for the Texas coast for a week now, and the Huston area has been talked about as the area most likely to be hit. The NFL said "Short notice made it logistically impossible to play this week at alternate sites." Sure, short notice if you just found out about this today, but since we knew the storm was on its way, the logistics could have been in place before the storm. What a mess.

Added Twitter to my Blog

I've added my twitter updates to my blog. It looks pretty nice over there on the right side. I also updated my template a little bit. Early on, when I only had a few months worth of updates, they worked well higher up, but now I have 49 months worth of archives, it really takes up a lot of space. I wish there was a way in the script to link entire years for years prior to the current year, and only link the months for the current year. That would make it look a little better. I'm sure I could do something manual, but one of the reasons I use blogger is that I don't have to do much when it comes to managing the actual site, it is all done for me. I have made a few customizations to the default template, but in general, it manages itself. That being said, I really need to update some of the pictures in my header!

They should play in Baltimore

It looks like the NFL will postpone the game between the Huston Texans’ and the Baltimore Ravens due to the damage to Reliant Stadium in Huston caused by hurricane Ike. I wasn’t too thrilled that they postponed the game until Monday night, but that is understandable under these conditions. Postponing the game shouldn’t be an option. After hurricane Katrina, the Saints played their first home game away, and since there is nothing wrong with M&T Bank Stadium, why can’t they play there? If there is concern about the home field advantage, why can’t they play in a neutral stadium? We’ve known that Ike was coming, and that it was possible that it would hit Huston directly and you would think that the NFL and the teams would be planning for this sort of thing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shrimp in Oklahoma

Why is it that every time I order something with shrimp in it on the state of Oklahoma it ends up tasting, well, not good at all? I don’t know what it is, but they just can’t cook shrimp out here. I’ve had some great meals, don’t get me wrong, but with shrimp, it is a different story. First, I think they over cook it, which is easy to do. More importantly, I don’t think they season shrimp when they cook it. Even if shrimp is going into some sort of dish, it still needs to be seasoned to some degree. I think I’ll stick to steak and chicken dishes when I’m in the Sooner state.

Palin’s Earmarks

I cannot fault a mayor or governor for supporting, requesting, and spending federal government earmarks. It is, after all, one of the few ways that states and towns can get the money that their citizens have sent to Washington back. In fact, if a state governor would not use federal earmarks, it would be a disservice to their citizens, as their money would be used for some project in another state.

That being said, federal candidates and elected officials, especially the president and vice president should think differently. I think their focus on this matter should be on how to lower spending overall and lower taxes for everyone. Instead of sending money to Washington, it is in our pockets, and we wouldn’t need earmarks and other federal spending to get it back. Now this might make state and local taxes go up, so that these important projects can be funded, but I would much rather see this money under local control than in Washington (even though I live just 40 miles from Washington!).

I just think that in general, keeping your money local will lead to better government services over all while sending it to the federal government funds the bureaucracy above all else.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Virtual Machines

Running virtual machines really kills the battery in the notebook computer. It isn’t surprising, as running several virtual Exchange servers really uses a lot of processor time and memory, but what I suspect is most draining is the constant swapping to hard drive and the constant reading and writing to the hard drive by the virtual machines. After only about thirty minutes, the battery is down from one hundred percent to forty-five percent which it tells me is about thirty-five minutes.

I have five virtual systems running in Microsoft Virtual PC 2007. Two are running Windows Server 2003 with one being an Active Directory domain controller and the other running Exchange Server 2003. The other three are Windows Server 2008 with two configured with Exchange Server 2007 mailbox roles and the other soon to be running Exchange Server 2007 hub transport and client access roles, although I doubt I’ll get through setup before the battery dies. It isn’t even finished setting up Windows Server 2008. Even if I have to shut it down before it has been installed, it isn’t a big deal. I was able to use an otherwise wasted hour on the plane.

Thinking about it a little more, I should probably save a little battery life, just in case I need something from the computer between my arrival and check in to the hotel.

Airport Food

I grabbed a slice of pizza, a salad, and a Mountain Dew at BWI airport and I must say, it was about the worst meal I’ve ever had. I think I would have preferred to go hungry. While I was shopping today, I saw some of those tuna salad and cracker packs that I like. For a moment, I thought that I would buy a couple to take with me. Then I thought, they might not let me through security with a can of tuna salad. I would much rather have had the tuna salad than the awful slice of pizza I ended up eating.

I started to think about the airports and airlines pushing the whole “get to the airport two hours early” line. Of course the would like you to get to the airport 2 hours early, that way you are stuck inside security with very few food or entertainment options. I’m surprised that they don’t charge you to use the bathroom. For that matter, I’m surprised that the airlines don’t charge you to use the bathroom. Maybe next time I’ll push my luck with security. I know I can’t bring any liquids with me, so, a can of Mountain Dew would be out, but maybe I could swing a decent meal. If I was really lucky, it would be something that Amy made for me and I could find a microwave!

Southwest Airlines and Children

This is a good thing to remember. While I was waiting to board my flight to Oklahoma City, a family was preparing to board for family boarding and they were in a discussion with the person at the gate about their carry on luggage. It seems that the younger children were not allowed to carry on two bags, even though they all had tickets. I could see that if the child was under two and didn’t have a ticket, but not for ticketed children.

Amy and I have never flown with our children, but traveling by car, we do our best to make sure that they have plenty of things to do and snacks to eat. We would probably so the same thing if we were to fly somewhere as a family, and this would add to the carry on luggage. Since checking bags is a pain, I try not to check any bags, but this has been more difficult after September 11, 2001, but even then, I think we could manage for all of us to take a short trip with two bags each. I guess if we do, I’ll want to be sure to check with the airline about their carry on policy.


So, I’ve signed up for a Twitter account. I’m really not sure what it is all about, and I don’t really know anyone else who is using it but it does seem sort of neat. I sent my first meaningful text message update to it from my mobile phone this afternoon, an update that said I was onboard my flight to Oklahoma.

I signed up to follow Barak Obama and John McCain, as well as just about anyone who mentioned ham radio or had a call sign. One of the skywarn groups is on there, but not the one that is local to me. It was interesting though, I got to see the updates from the southeast Virginia coast.

What I’d really like to get from Twitter are updates about things I’m interested in in relative real time. For example, I heard that some firefighters and EMTs use Twitter to send updates on serious incidents. It sort of reminded me of a service that I was on a while back that send e-mail summaries of fire calls in progress.

Right now I don’t have it set to send updates to my mobile phone. Mostly because I pay per text message, but also because I’m not following anything that I feel like I need to know in real time. Now, if Amy did Twitter, I’d have her updates sent to my phone.

Friday, August 29, 2008

MSNBC got it wrong

The choice has been made, Alaska Governer Sarah Palin is McCain's running mate. When I was watching MSNBC just before 9 this morning, MSNBC "confirmed" that Sarah Palin was in Alaska. Now everyone is reporting that she was on a private plane that landed in Dayton this morning. There is really no way to get to Ohio from Alaska in two hours.

McCain Lieberman?

As I write this, I don’t know who John McCain has chosen to run with him for vice president. I’m sitting in a cafeteria waiting for my customer to show up to let me in. There is a TV here tuned to MSNBC, which reports that Romney and Pawlenty will not be McCain’s running mate. I sort of like Romney, he really appeals to the right side of my center right political views, but I’m not sure he is best for the country, or for John McCain’s chances to be elected.

Joe Lieberman is still on the short list. What do I like about Joe Lieberman? Well, he is the center left to McCain’s center right. I don’t agree with all of Lieberman’s politics, just as I don’t agree with all of McCain’s policies. I think that a McCain/Lieberman administration could deliver. It will be the first time that I can remember, and certainly since I could vote that there would be a true bipartisan ticket on the ballot. The only big question is, would Lieberman keep the right wing republican voters at home in numbers that independent and centrist voters couldn’t overcome.

I think for most American’s when wither wing, left or right is happy, the country is heading in the wrong direction. I think that a McCain Romney ticket would make the right wing too happy, just as the Obama Biden ticket has the left wing grinning.

The media seems to think that Sarah Palin, the current governor of Alaska will be McCain’s choice. I’m not sure if this move is good or bad, I don’t know much about her politics. It would be a good move for those who would like to see a woman on the ticket. Many Hillary supporters might take another look at McCain if that happens. For me, it doesn’t matter what race or gender is running, it is the delivery, can they make things happen? I’m not sure than a relatively unknown Alaskan governor will be able to complement McCain in that area.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

All pictures

I haven't linked the entire photo album yet. Of course, we've taken more pictures than I've posted on the blog.

From Ocean City '08

Some times we don't remember to take pictures for some reason. There is really no excuse with digital cameras! But we'll always have the memories, and guess that is why we call them memories, because we remember them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Anniversary Dinner at Ruth's Chris

No pictures, please! Amy and I left the kids with Robin and went to Ruth's Chris Steak House just outside of Ocean City in Berlin, Maryland for our anniversary dinner. It had been a long time since I had been there and it was Amy's first time. We both ordered the fillet, with Amy's being a petite, adding shrimp, broccoli, and mashed potatoes. For dessert we had the caramelized banana cream pie. The steak there is always good, and is just a little better when ordered with extra butter. I think I ordered Amy a dink she liked, but I have no idea what it is called, some kind of martini. My drink was pink, but it was good.

After dinner I really didn't have anything planned, so we walked the boardwalk and talked. Walking the boardwalk on a full stomach, especially with a great tasting meal like we had just eaten is a different experience. Normally I'll smell something good and I want it, but not this night. It was getting late so we took the tram back to the hotel. The tram took a while, it seemed to take forever for some folks to get on and off.

When we got back to the hotel, Robin was pretty much ready to go, and shortly after, Amy and I were ready for bed.

Another Day at the Beach

Robin was also in Ocean City and we were at the beach together. I spent most of the time under the umbrella with my shirt on. I did get into the water once. I really like to body surf the waves, but I couldn't do much of that due to my sunburn. The kids had a blast though. Aidan and Zoe did what Aidan and Zoe do, they played in the sand. Aidan has decided that he really doesn't like the ocean water, so he didn't go near it. Zoe isn't so afraid, but it takes her a bit to warm up.

The best part about Robin being there is that Amy and I could get our picture taken together!

Only Zoe!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Ok, I don't think there was a fire. But the fire alarm went off and the building was evacuated. We waited outside for a while and soon we heard the fire engine sirens. It is never a good sign when the fire department is dispatched. The good news is that we were not out for long, maybe about 20 minutes or so.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Monday was sunburn day. I put on sun screen but it must have come off in the ocean, and by the time Amy helped me reapply it, it was to late. I'm so burned my movement is restricted. Dispite the burn, it was a great day on the beach. Alex was riding waves on his little kick board, Aidan & Zoe didn't spend much time in the water, but they really had a great time in the sand. They were non stop.

Ocean City

Aidan & Zoe's first trip to Ocean City is great so far. We haven't been here long but they've already been on the beach and walked a good twenty blocks and back to get french fries. Alex doesn't remember being here before, but he was, before Aidan was born. We are staying at a hotel that is right on the beach/boardwalk.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I sure do like Tacos, especially in a deep fried soft corn tortilla. Eventually, I’ll have them for dinner tonight, but pretty soon, I’ll have to work. A west coast customer has run into a problem with the Exchange system I set up several weeks ago. I’d much rather eat Amy’s great tasting tacos! Hopefully I won’t have to be on the phone to long.

US to Russia: Take Over Georgia, it’s OK

It seems clear now that the United States will do nothing to stop Russia from taking over the small democracy of Georgia. This could have been stopped early, all the US needed to do was show up. Failing to do so sent a clear message to Russia, the US will do nothing to protect its ally, so take it if you want it. The rest of Europe sent the same message, that Russia can invade other sovereign European nations at will, with little real consequence. Sure, the US and EU have come up with some measures to “punish” Russia, but nothing that really matters much to Russia. They weren’t really serious about the WTO, they know that the G8 is an afterthought to the G7, so I doubt they really care if they are excluded. They have what the west wants, oil and gas, and the west will continue to buy it, funding Russia’s military invasions of its neighbors.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Steak and Cheese

Why do so many grill cooks put so much mayonnaise on steak and cheese subs? All that is really needed is a thin layer on each side of the sub roll. What are they trying to cover up? Is the lettuce bad, the tomatoes? I don’t know, but I do get tired of having to be specific with the amount of mayonnaise that I would like on my steak and cheese or Philadelphia style chicken steak and cheese. For my taste, a little mayo goes a long way.

When I was Growing Up

When I was growing up, the Soviet Union was the evil empire. The evil empire went broke, and the Soviet Union was gone, but Russia remained. We didn’t make much of a distinction between the Soviet Union and Russia back in the 80’s, and in general, the Russians would have held it together by force if they could have only afforded it. Now, Russia has two things, an improved economy, and energy leverage over most of Europe. The Europeans are between a rock and a hard place, Russia has invaded its neighbor, but the required response would surely lead Russia to retaliate by cutting off gas and oil. The lack of European response sends Moscow a message that it is OK to retake the caucuses, and why stop there, invade the Ukraine too. These countries cannot defend themselves against a Russian invasion, and the world will look the other way while it happens. It seems likely that my children will grow up seeing Russia as I did, the evil empire.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Leave it to China

Leave it to China to cheat in the Olympics, they know they can because the International Olympic Committee has done nothing but coddle to whatever China wants.

This latest controversy is over the ages of the Chinese women’s gymnastics team. There were some old records that indicated that one of the gymnasts would be a month to young and another ten months to young. To be eligible, the gymnasts would need to be at least 16 years old by the end of the calendar year. The records disappeared quickly and China provided government documents that they say prove their age. But in China, the government controls everything, information, media, and official documents. Combine that with their will to win at all costs, it seems more likely than not that China has cheated. Should they win the gold, in the minds of many, it will be tainted. Maybe some time down the road the truth will come out, but I’m not sure that China will care. Being stripped of the gold metal happens long after the huge media pools and cameras have gone. China has shown time and time again that what is important, is what happens on TV for the world to see, and everything else should be covered up.

“If” Georgia was a NATO Member

Here I go again with the “ifs”. As I mentioned in another post, countries trying to gain favor with the west, and going so far as working toward NATO membership, are unlikely to engage in the sort of atrocities of which Russia is accusing Georgia. The United States has nearly insisted that Georgia become a NATO member, and Georgia has been working doing so. Now if Georgia was already a member of NATO, would Russia have attacked? I doubt it, but if so, how would NATO have responded. The NATO treaty, Article 5 states:

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Would NATO countries then declare war on Russia? Would they have sent troops to the region? While it wouldn’t be likely that NATO ground forces would be rushed to Georgia immediately, I would expect NATO Air Forces would get into the action rather quickly, and help force a cease fire that would be favorable to the Georgians, and then NATO ground forces would be sent to Georgia to help stabilize the peace. The NATO air power wouldn’t necessarily have to engage the Russians, given the superiority of NATO fighters, it is likely that the Russians would leave the skies, and pull back their troops less threatening positions.

All this talk about “if” Georgia was part of the NATO treaty doesn’t mean much, since they are not. Could it be that Russia’s real goal was to set back the process of Georgia’s acceptance into NATO? There is no doubt that Russia has done some damage to the Georgian military, which will take time to rebuild to NATO standards. Could this move backfire on Russia and draw Georgia into NATO sooner rather than later? It is hard to say right now, while the Russians are agreeing to a cease fire right now, there are still reports of fighting on the ground. Once the current conflict has ended, we’ll see how this shakes out.

McCain and Obama while Russia invades Georgia

We can say one thing for the war between Georgia and Russia; it has knocked the war between John McCain and Barack Obama off of the front page, at least for a little while. The media has tried to sneak in a few bits here and there about what the candidates are saying about the conflict, but it hasn’t really gained much traction yet.

Obama seems to be getting a little flack for going on vacation, and he is likely to get more over having never been to the region. Somehow, the Obama campaign is trying to turn this into an evil lobbyist story, because a McCain campaign staffer has lobbied for Georgia in the past. Somehow I don’t think that most Americans would have a problem with a small, relatively new democracy that was once part of the Soviet Union doing some lobbying.

McCain might benefit from this conflict. While eventually, the McCain and Obama positions became quite similar, Obama started out weak, while McCain’s original statement was just about right, and he stuck to it. No doubt that McCain’s experience with international issues was helpful in getting the right statement out right away, and he’ll use this to his advantage for all it is worth. I’m sure we’ll be hearing about McCain’s firsthand knowledge of Georgia in the next few days and weeks. This is exactly the sort of thing that exposes Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Why the Metric System is Bad

It is easy, even though measuring your penis in centimeters would give you a larger number, centimeters are small, and I don’t know about you, but I just couldn’t use centimeters as a unit of measurement of my penis.

A big if, or two

I’m not a military analyst or have any real experience in the field. But if, and that is a big if, the United States exercises a military option to help Georgia, it has to happen pretty soon. I’m not suggesting that the US engage Russia in a ground assault, but with the US air power in the area already the Russians could be driven from the skies. And B2 bombers could do a number on the Russians with precision bombing. I don’t think that talk will stop the Russians this time. They could take the capitol as early as tomorrow, and could occupy the country by the end of the week. By then, the US options are limited. If, and there I go with the big if again, the United States is fine with Russia invading and occupying Georgia, then we can do nothing, but what would that do long term when Russia decides to attack the next country? I don’t have all of the answers here, but there is a lesson we all learned in grade school, if nobody stands up to the bully, the bully is likely to continue bullying.

Russia Invades Georgia as predicted in 2001 by Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon

So, I installed Ghost Recon, a great game from 2001 and played a few rounds last night. What made me dig through the CD case to find and install this 7 year old game? Well, the game is set in the future, starting in April 2008 to be exact. The game begins with Russia supporting the South Ossetia rebels, and then invading Georgia itself. While the story line doesn’t mirror exactly what is happening now, it is very coincidental in its back story.

The game itself is great, at least for its time. I really liked the squad based play. I liked sending the sniper to a nice spot somewhere to give me cover for my assault on a particular area, and having two other squads attack from different angles, which would either split the AI into smaller groups, or drawing them into a good position to be shot by one or the other squads. I really liked multiplayer. I wonder if I could find someone to play with these days. Until battlefield 1942 came out, I’d say that Ghost Recon was my favorite multi player game. I really liked using grenades and claymores for multiplayer games.

The game moves beyond Georgia, with the last level in that campaign being an extraction from the US embassy in Tbilisi, which is a pretty tough mission. If I recall correctly, it ends in red square in Moscow and you have to blow up several tanks. I figure I’ll play the game through again, just for the fun of it.

Back in real life, it is hard to understand this conflict. Georgia wants good relations with the EU and US, so it wouldn’t make much sense for it to target South Ossetian civilians as Russia claims. It seems to me that this is an excuse for Russia to flex its military muscle, but the world doesn’t like this sort of aggression. Look at the way the world looks at the United States in regards to Iraq, and that was a UN sanctioned war!

For now, the US isn’t involved, but Georgia is quite an ally with the 3rd largest number of troops in Iraq, at least until they were flown back to defend their territory. The US involvement in that is interesting. I would like to know more about this. According to the Deputy Chief of General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Anatoly Nogovitsyn at a briefing in Moscow, eight flights from Iraq, moved 800 Georgian military and eleven tons of cargo. I don’t believe much of what the Russians say, but this seems plausible. It seems that the US was involved in these flights, but I can’t confirm it. If so, what would happen if the Russians fired on or shot down a US plane? This thing could get out of control.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

John McCain Likes Craps

Awesome! I just found out that John McCain likes to play craps, and may be a serious craps player. I would love to play at a table with him. Now some folks say that this is a bad thing, like somehow this sort of gambling would mean that he couldn’t be a good president. I beg to differ. Craps is fun, and to play for hours and hours, you need to play smart. Every dollar on the table is a risk, but there are places on the table that are riskier than others. As I’ve mentioned before, smart craps play leaves the casino with the smallest advantage for taking your money. I’ve been at the craps table for hours and hours, but I’m no gambling addict, it is just a lot of fun!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Craps is the best game in the casino, and no one will ever be able to convince me otherwise. I’m realistic, to me; it is all about playing a game, not really winning money. While winning money is nice, if you go in to a casino with some sort of expectation that you’ll walk away with a lot more than you started with, you’ll probably walk out disappointed. For craps to be fun and so you can play for a while, you need to start with a reasonable stack of chips compared to the minimum bet. While they are tempting, and I take them every so often, you are throwing away money on the sucker bets, and the more money you lose senselessly, the less playing time you’ll have. I always make minimum pass line and come bets, and double odds. Sometimes I go higher on the odds if I’m up a lot of chips, in the long run, the higher odds you can play, the lower the house advantage.

So far this week I’ve played craps for about 4 hours while drinking several free sodas. I started with $390 in cash, and after 4 hours, I have $400. While at times I had $600 in chips, maybe a little more with the bets on the table, I was also down to about $180 at one point. I didn’t make any money, but I was able to play craps for several hours, and for me, that is the point, and it cost me nothing.

Don’t fool yourself, the odds are that in the long long run, you will lose money at craps, but if you play it smart, you’ll get to play for much longer for your money than you would with black jack, roulette, etc. And the winning streaks can really pay off, as long as you know when to quit. When Amy is with me, I seem to know when to quit, when she is not, I don’t. I’ll probably play for a couple more hours over the next two days, the best outcome, will be to quit on a winning streak, followed by breaking even, and even if I lose money, it will be plenty fun.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Obama Manipulated the Democrat Party Primary

I didn't say it, the Washington Post did, in their own words of course: Strategy Was Based On Winning Delegates, Not Battlegrounds. This is an interesting article, that is sure to upset many Clinton suporters.

Here is an interesting example:

Obama had prevailed in districts with an odd number of delegates, so he was awarded the extra delegate, whereas Clinton's strongest regions were districts with even numbers of delegates, and Obama had kept the margin close enough to result in an even split.

In these cases, Obama won by just a little bit, but the reward was much more valuable.

Clinton was popular across the state -- but delegates were apportioned based on turnout strength in previous elections, meaning that heavily Democratic districts were disproportionately valuable. The biggest Philadelphia district -- an Obama stronghold -- was three times as big as the Altoona district.

Will this stradegy pay off? It can't really be used in the general election where you need to win entire states, not just the parts that are most likely to vote for you.

Steve Ballmer and Dinner

Last night at AeA’s Annual Technology for Government Dinner I got to hear Steve Ballmer speak. It was interesting, and I see some of the same things in the future technology as he does, but some other things seem way too gadgety to actually be useful. Like the display as thin as paper that will replace paper. I don’t think that paper will really need to be replaced in our everyday lives while we live here on earth. One comment really resonated with me, that while they add more and more features to mobile phones, it still better be a great device for making phone calls. I agree, I actually like old school mobile phones without all the fancy stuff, because they are just that, great at making phone calls, and that is all I really need.

The dinner was pretty good, at least the main course and desert. The soup and salad wasn’t so, except for the bacon and fried mozzarella ball that was with the salad. The main course was fillet minion and salmon with potato and asparagus. I could have really used a coke though, drink selections were water and wine, so, I drank a lot of water.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Credit Card Number

I don't know if this is good or bad, and if either, in what way. But I have finally memorized my credit card number. I memorized the one I had before it, but it changed when it was lost, which was a good three years ago. Now, I can shop online without having to find my wallet, oh, and log on to the web site and pay the bill too.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

GO-32 Satellite - APRS Operation

On my second attempt, I was able to transmit an APRS position report packet via the GO-32 satellite and receive the digipeated packet for confirmation.

How did I do it? Well, I followed Bob's directions on and used my new Kenwood TM-D710 with the dual band mobile antenna on top of Amy's van.

I'll try to explain the image below. It is a picture of the display on the Kenwood TM-D710. The top line basically says I'm in APRS 9600 bps mode and the time. The next few lines represent unsuccessful packets. The lines that matter are near the end.

NE3R-9>3Y2R2Q,4XTECH*:'i6(l ←v/]50W Mobile with 19" dual band whip=

That is my position report as I received it on the satellite's downlink frequency. The 4XTECH* represents the station that digipeated my packet.

Here is a pic of some random other packets I received during the pass.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Amy’s Van / Satellite Ground Station

I was home a little early from work today and had some time. So I checked the satellite schedule, and there was a good pass of AO-27 just after 4pm today. So I figured I would see how well the radio in Amy’s van worked for that. This is one case where the antenna not being straight up and down probably helped as it was sort of aimed right at the satellite.

I heard a few stations on, and then a break so I made a call. N5AFV from Huston Texas responded, then WA5KBH from Lake Charles Louisiana right after, and finally Leo, W7JPI from Sonoita, Arizona. All of this happened within about a minute. Since FM satellites only have one frequency for uplink that is shared among everyone, so you keep it brief, just exchange call sign and grid square.

I really need a recording device as I have a hard time operating the radio and writing at the same time. I think I have all the call signs right! The radio I was using was the Kenwood TM-D710 with a short dual band antenna on a lip mount.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

WinDbg Output for my memory.dmp file

* *
* Bugcheck Analysis *
* *

This is a very common bugcheck. Usually the exception address pinpoints
the driver/function that caused the problem. Always note this address
as well as the link date of the driver/image that contains this address.
Some common problems are exception code 0x80000003. This means a hard
coded breakpoint or assertion was hit, but this system was booted
/NODEBUG. This is not supposed to happen as developers should never have
hardcoded breakpoints in retail code, but ...
If this happens, make sure a debugger gets connected, and the
system is booted /DEBUG. This will let us see why this breakpoint is
Arg1: c0000005, The exception code that was not handled
Arg2: 81c51e94, The address that the exception occurred at
Arg3: c23cc914, Trap Frame
Arg4: 00000000

Debugging Details:

Page bbe68 not present in the dump file. Type ".hh dbgerr004" for details
PEB is paged out (Peb.Ldr = 7ffd500c). Type ".hh dbgerr001" for details
PEB is paged out (Peb.Ldr = 7ffd500c). Type ".hh dbgerr001" for details

EXCEPTION_CODE: (NTSTATUS) 0xc0000005 - The instruction at 0x%08lx referenced memory at 0x%08lx. The memory could not be %s.

81c51e94 8b4f04 mov ecx,dword ptr [edi+4]

TRAP_FRAME: c23cc914 -- (.trap 0xffffffffc23cc914)
ErrCode = 00000000
eax=00000efb ebx=0000013c ecx=000003ff edx=8e4ee1bc esi=8e4ee008 edi=00002310
eip=81c51e94 esp=c23cc988 ebp=c23cc9c8 iopl=0 nv up ei pl nz na po nc
cs=0008 ss=0010 ds=0023 es=0023 fs=0030 gs=0000 efl=00010202
81c51e94 8b4f04 mov ecx,dword ptr [edi+4] ds:0023:00002314=????????
Resetting default scope



PROCESS_NAME: ieuser.exe


LAST_CONTROL_TRANSFER: from 81a7b5a0 to 81b12163

c23cc4d4 81a7b5a0 0000008e c0000005 81c51e94 nt!KeBugCheckEx+0x1e
c23cc8a4 81a9d63a c23cc8c0 00000000 c23cc914 nt!KiDispatchException+0x1a9
c23cc90c 81a9d5ee c23cc9c8 81c51e94 badb0d00 nt!CommonDispatchException+0x4a
c23cc9c8 81c22bff 8e4ee008 fffe5efb 00b135c0 nt!Kei386EoiHelper+0x186
c23cc9f4 81c2bb66 8e4ee008 8e4ee31c 00b135c0 nt!CmpAddInfoAfterParseFailure+0xcd
c23cca30 81afa215 0000000a 002c002c acdbdace nt!CmpFindSubKeyByName+0xae
c23cca7c 81a195b0 00000000 00000003 00000003 nt!EtwTraceContextSwap+0x14a
c23ccb78 81c8ae78 8b8f53f0 841102c8 84ae9008 hal!KfLowerIrql+0x64
c23ccc08 81c62fea 000003fc c23ccc60 00000040 nt!ObpLookupObjectName+0x11e
c23ccc68 81c59fa8 0381f234 841102c8 00000001 nt!ObOpenObjectByName+0x13c
c23ccd34 81c5a067 0381f318 00020019 0381f234 nt!CmOpenKey+0x1b1
c23ccd50 81a9ca7a 0381f318 00020019 0381f234 nt!NtOpenKey+0x16
c23ccd50 77819a94 0381f318 00020019 0381f234 nt!KiFastCallEntry+0x12a
WARNING: Frame IP not in any known module. Following frames may be wrong.
0381f270 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 0x77819a94


81c51e94 8b4f04 mov ecx,dword ptr [edi+4]


SYMBOL_NAME: nt!HvpGetCellMapped+8c



IMAGE_NAME: ntkrpamp.exe


FAILURE_BUCKET_ID: 0x8E_nt!HvpGetCellMapped+8c

BUCKET_ID: 0x8E_nt!HvpGetCellMapped+8c

Followup: MachineOwner

Vista Crashed

For the first time since I started using Windows Vista it has crashed. Nothing serious that I can tell, just a blue screen of death and a reboot and all seems to be working.

Log Name: System
Source: Microsoft-Windows-WER-SystemErrorReporting
Date: 5/1/2008 10:36:06 AM
Event ID: 1001
Task Category: None
Level: Information
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: Planet-PC
The computer has rebooted from a bugcheck. The bugcheck was: 0x0000008e (0xc0000005, 0x81c51e94, 0xc23cc914, 0x00000000). A dump was saved in: C:\Windows\MEMORY.DMP.

I really don't have time right now to diagnose the problem. On Monday I upgraded the computer from two to four gigs of memory. It worked fine right after, but other than that, I haven't changed anything on the system. We'll see.

I just obtained my first copy of Windows Vista to install on my home computer. I hope that goes well!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Book: On My Honor

On My Honor, Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts are Worth Fighting For by Rick Perry

I'm not a big reader, but I saw a link to this book while I was searching for info on the Cub Scouts for Alex who will be able to start in the fall. This is the first non technical book I've read since I read Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy in 1994. I must say, it is a great book. I don't consider myself ultra conservative, but definitely right leaning in my principles. The book is certainly written by a conservative politician, but it wasn't like listening to conservative talk radio either.

The book made me look back at my time in the Boy Scouts and realize what I learned then is what has guided me to be a productive member of society today. Although nobody is perfect, I still try to live by the Scout Oath and Law as well as the Scout motto and Slogan.

The Scout Oath:
On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

The Scout Law:
A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Cautious Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, & Reverent.

The Scout Motto:
Be Prepared

The Scout Slogan:
Do a good turn daily

I could probably do more to live up to the slogan, and I've found myself drifting from those principles from time to time in the past, but one thing I know is that I want to raise my boys to follow these principles.

I've heard of the occasional lawsuit where girls wanted to join and the flaps about openly gay men being denied leadership positions in the Boy Scouts, but the book put this in perspective. These lawsuits are not random, but a more coordinated effort to force the Boy Scouts to change the principles they've stood by from the beginning. It isn't that the Scouts don't change with the times, I was reading some of the Cub Scout requirements for advancement and one of them had to do with "cyberbullying" and the Internet. But the core values of Scouting have stood the test of time, nearly 100 years now, and will still be relevant for another 100 years and beyond. Tell me, what mother wouldn't want their child to follow the Scout Law, or what teacher wouldn't want their student to adhere to the Scout motto. I certainly want my children, boys and girls to do so.

I would encourage anyone who believes that the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts can be a positive influence on young boys (and even girls 14-20 in the venturing program) to read this book.

It is also available on where I wrote a simple review.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Vista UAC - What everyone wanted Microsoft to do

One of the big complaints about Microsoft products in the past was that they were not secure. Now one of the big complaints is that I've been hearing about Vista is that the feature called User Account Control is too annoying and that they want to turn it off. Microsoft knows that the majority of the so called "security problems" with Windows are actually caused by the computer user installing some sort of cleverly disguised malware and that the majority of this malware would only install properly if the user had administrator rights. In Microsoft's own words, "The main goal of User Account Control is to reduce the exposure and attack surface of the operating system by requiring that all users run in standard user mode. This limitation minimizes the ability for users to make changes that could destabilize their computers or inadvertently expose the network to viruses through undetected malware that has infected their computer." Isn't this what both consumers and businesses have been asking for? Why then do so many folks complain about this security feature, or even go so far as to turn it off? I'm an IT power user, and I have no trouble with it. Sure, it is a little annoying when trying to do some tasks, especially if you've run a command prompt in user mode, but in less than a month of using Vista, I barely notice it anymore. So, for all of the anti-Vista crowd out there, don’t say Vista sucks and point to the UAC as your first reason why. It really isn't that bad, and it is exactly what everyone wanted Microsoft to do with Windows just a few years ago.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

www. – no search?

Why does Barak Obama's web site omit a search feature? John McCain's site has one, as well as just about every other important web site on the Internet. I find it interesting that a candidate who claims to be so transparent would have a web site that lacks search. So, was this just something that was missed when the web site was designed or are they really hiding something? Since I generally dislike a web site's built in search, I tend to use Google or Microsoft Live to search the site and this works on This either means they have nothing to hide, they really aren't good at hiding whatever it is they might want to hide, or they are really slick, and allow most things to be read by the robots, but leave out the controversial stuff.

Why did I discover this? I was eating lunch and thought to check out what the candidates had to say about Osama bin Laden. I started with John McCain's site, using the search box on the site I got several hits and read a few, but nothing really excited me. Then I went to Obama's site and figured I'd do the same, but all I did was look for the search box that didn't exist, so I turned to Live search, and found what I was looking for.

For those of you that want to know – you can search a specific web site with most search engines by adding the text "". IE: "Search Term". This will work on Live, Google, Yahoo, and others.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Alex's Nerf Arsenal Video

Ok - so this video isn't studio quality, but it was fun to make.

Alex's Nerf Arsenal

It sure was hard finding some decent background music that wouldn't get rejected by myspace video for copyright violations.