Thebastidge: 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
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    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Out for a few

    I'll be out again for a few days, probably without Internet, so don't worry if you don't hear from me for about a week.

    Saturday, October 28, 2006

    Cubans STINK!

    No, I didn't suddenly turn racist, and I'm not talking about the people.

    What is it about Americans going overseas that makes them suddenly develop a fetish for Cuban cigars? Cigar smoke is the most obnoxious, and just plain noxious, of all tobacco habits.

    People, listen up: just because Cuban cigars are available overseas, and banned in the USA, it doesn't make them desirable. I don't care if they're rolled on the glistening thighs of lust-filled virgins- they still fucking stink when you burn them.

    I went to salsa night at the pool again tonight, and the smell of pretentious pricks smoking cigars even in that open place turned my stomache and I still have a bit of yuck in my throat from it. It's nasty; don't do it!

    That is all.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Boom. Yawn.

    Lots or explosions yesterday- most of them obviously mortars, but there was one big one that rattled the trailer we work in. It was even audible inside the NOC, which is a concrete building.

    General consensus: VBIED- Vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, or car bomb.

    Nothing close though. The mortars were quite a ways off, and the car bomb, though it sounded close, had to be fairly far away, because we couldn't spot any damage from our rooftop anywhere in our area.

    This morning on the way to work the smoke from garbage fires was horrible. I pretty much lost my appetite on the way to the chow hall, coughing and eyes watering. Another lovely morning in Baghdad. There's an argument, consistently disputed by bleeding heart liberals, that people don't care about their environmental quality until they make a certain minimum GDP- somewhere around (guesses vary slightly) $3500 per capita. Other factors just have a higher prioirty for severely limited budgets, and therefore the best way to improve the environment around the world is to increase their income through free markets to the point where they start voluntarily expending capital on environmental quality.

    I firmly believe that, based on my own experience of travel.

    Fallen Comrades

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Interesting

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Weekend update

    Having a normal weekend off is a refreshing change. With our days off being skipped while we're out in the field, we get ome recovery time when we hit garrison.

    Fortunately, this time we came in on Friday afternoon, so it was almost like a real person's weekend. However, this being Iraq, there wasn't much to do anyway. Had some "team-building" exercises with the guys from work Friday night. Something bout 4 or 5 guys standing around outside B's trailer drinking in what is essentially a little back-alley doesn't appeal very much. If I stick around doing that very often, I'll either get depressed or become an alcoholic. It is the typical thing my guys are doing though. Usually it's Thursday night because we're on the Iraqi schedule of Fridays off. (Nostalgic note for Dan & Tara: this is your old hooch I'm talking about.)

    Saturday night I almost went to bed early, but dragged myself off to Liberty poolside for the Salsa night. That was pretty hoppin' for Iraq. Lots of people there, and only a 70/30 male/female ratio, which is pretty good for this place. I left before it was over, but I'd had enough excitement for one night. I could see myself having fun there if I can manage to meet some people, but since I normally have to work early on Sundays, it might not work out because it doesn't really get moving until kinda late. I'm not going to have much social life while I'm here.

    Today I managed to get several errands done. I know this is a recurring theme, but everything takes longer to acomplish in Iraq. Getting a document notarized, cashing a check, mailing some letters, and paying some bils online pretty much took up the entire day.

    Tomorrow I have to hunt down some Lieutenant that works with the mail room to see why my guitar still hasn't gotten here, some 5 weeks after it was mailed. I suspect it never will, which really bums me out.

    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    Definitions

    I see I need to add a post with a definition...

    We have these little shacks on base where local vendors come in to sell stuff. These are 'haji-marts'.

    The Haj is the pilgrimmage to Mecca, and it's incumbent upon all good muslims to make the journey at least once in their lives. Rich people may do it yearly. The term of respect for someone who has made the trip is to pre-pend "Haj" to their name, and collectively they are known as "Haji".

    It's also become a slang term among the Coalition for any Arab. Not quite a racial slur- just a kind of short-hand. The Iraqi guys we work with even call these places haji-marts when they're speaking in Arabic.

    Friday, October 20, 2006

    Back 'home'

    We're back in Baghdad, safe and sound. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for some. As we flew back today, we saw a convoy with a HUMMV on fire. The IED must have exploded only moments before we flew over; our pilot circled the site, but nothing to be done, so we continued on. This was about 5 minutes outside of Baghdad by helo.

    It looked pretty bad. I didn't have the right angle to snap a pic (once I'm strapped in with my IBA on, I have about a 15 degree range of motion), but the vehicle was messed up pretty bad. Couldn't tell if anyone was hurt, but chances are good that someone was. The sad thing is that we will probably never know more about the incident than we do now- if anyone was hurt or killed, who they were, their family, nothing.

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    Ali Baba

    Funny, the person who gets most pissed off about being called a thief is always the guy who just ripped you off.

    My co-workers related more of the story today. I'd heard rumours about weapons being drawn and lots of yelling, but I got more details on an incident today. Kinda funny in retrospect, and the guys involved laugh about itnow, but it was tense at the time. There's a rumour that a certain commander of a base far o the south was actually a privatein Saddam's military, who put the right uniform on when the coalition came in, and is now a colonel. Amazing how changing rank tabs affects how you get treated. Anyway, during an install a few weeks ago, when some equipment went missing andlocks were misteriously changed on store rooms over night during the installation, our guys were understandably pissed. So they called the dude Ali Baba to his face, and the incident, though resolved peacefully eventually, ended up with guns drawn.

    All of whch is just background that brings brings us to today at another base. Today we delivered some repaired computers (actually outside the scope of our isntallation) and the commander of the receiving unit told us to just leave them and he would have his guys put them back out where they belong.

    Well, that was kind of funny. You see, one insight I've gathered over time is that your vices tend to work against each other. Criminals get caught, often as not, because their natural tendency to be lazy keeps them from being diligent enough to not get caught.

    When an Iraqi offers to do physical labour (in this case, hauling computers, monitors, and heavy-ass UPS upstairs), it stands out. During this entire install, not one person has offered to carry equipment, no matter how eager they were to have that machine working on their desk. So our Navy Chief that we have along as military escort and liaison started asking hard questions about where all the peripherals for those computers were- keyboards, mice etc. After much chinese-firedrill-like scrambling, some equipment that doesn't look much like ours was produced. Conclusion: this guy didn't want us to see how depleted his inventory is- the rest of it probably being in some haji-mart outside the wire. There wasn't time to pursue the issue further, but the Chief will be reporting the discrepancy up the chain, for all the good that will do.

    Iraqis have already developed a cargo cult, more or less. They are all about getting as much as they canout of us, on an individual level. I'm told there is 8 billion dollars sitting at the MoD for military infrastructure alone, but every time they can get coalition to pay for something, they do.

    The other day, an Iraqi police came up to me and started babbling in really badly broken English. Being me, I tried to understand what he was talking about. He was trying to get me to give him bullets from my clip. He had a nearly full clip, and I don't have re-supply out here, but he wanted me to give him some. I would wager that sometime inthe past, GI's werehanding out bullets to IP (Iraqi Police) like candy andhe just wanted some more. Cargo Cult. Well, I told him no, but he wouldn't stop bugging me. FInally I was able to leave the area, but when I came back about anhour later he tried again.

    These guys are not afraid to ask for, really to beg for, anything that they can get. There doesn't seem to be any shame. But they don't take good care of theirown, either. They'll leave guys standing guard post in the sun all day without even resupplying water. I don't know if that is because they don't care, because they just aren't organized and proactive enough to plan a schedule of guardpost checks, or a combination.

    There's NO planning here. These guys know that we're coming on a certain date, and yet they'll still take off and leave no keys behind. It's not that they don't want what we've got- in fact, getting their network is really inportant to them. They just don't trust anyone else with their keys, even in the military, and they don't think about anything that is not immediate. By immediate, I mean someone standing there requesting a key. Immediate in the most immediate sense of the word. We give thempaperwork to complete (user agreements) that spell out the terms of the network, and it takes DAYS to get them turned back in, with constant hounding on our part. This is partly because no Iraqi will willingly write down any of his personal information, but partly because nothing gets done until it's crisis time. Then when it doesn't get accomplished, it's not because some lazy bastard procrastinated, it's Inshallah.

    Lest it seem like I'm already reaching my frustration limit, realize that I'm mostly just laughing about all this. I'm not shocked by any of it, I'm bemused and a little disgusted, but not really surprised. Reading about a situation and talking about it with experienced people before hand will really enable you to function much better, I find. Fortunately I had those friends with the experience and I read widely.

    Until next time...

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Still safe

    Despite the recent surge in violence in Baghdad, I'm doing fine. I'm nowhere near and in fact haven't seen or heard any of it.

    It's not unexpected that crazy-ass insurgents and terrorist using the excuse of religion would choose Ramadan, the muslim holy month, for making a statement, and trust me, I have been very vigilant. I go nowhere without my sidearm and unlike some, I keep a clip in all the time. We're required to clear our weapons in the chow hall, but I go back to 'condition amber' as soon as we leave. I'm getting used to wearing a weapon. I'll miss it when I'm back in the IZ, I can tell already. Even unloading for the chow hall feels weird and uncomfortable. I can tell the weight difference. I need a different rig to carry it on though. I carried in a shoulder holster on my first trip out, but I've had the paddle style belt holsters for weapon and magazines on this trip. Not very comfortable while driving. The shoulder holster wasn't really big enough for me though. I think I need a thigh holster, but I don't like the ones in the PX.

    I've been learning as much Arabic as I can cram in during the course of the day working with our Iraqi cable team and the military dudes we are supporting. I'm starting to build a basic vocabulary and some verbs to string them together. If I stay here for a year, I'll be competent, probably not fluent, but competent. I just don't like being completely dependant upon anyone, especially random translators- some of these guys seem pretty shady. Although to be fair, they do catch a lot of crap, and some of them have to actually hide their faces while doing their job, because of the death threats.

    The install proceeds apace. It's frustrating a lot of the time. These guys have no clue how to use a computer. Teaching them to log in alone, takes an hour (I'm not kidding or exagerrating at all.) I'm not always proud of the workmanship we're doing. Its not because we don't care or try, it's because there is just no way to do things 'right' when there is no infratructure. When a building has no grounding, when the walls crumble when you drill a hole through them for cabling, well, you get the picture. We spend more time waiting for Iraqi dudes to to decide where they want equipment and come around with keys than we do actually installing stuff. They tend to take off at random times, and to be gone for days. It seems the average Iraqi military guy takes about ten days a month to go hang with his family. On top of taking every Friday off and random days in the middle. Not to mention most afternoons.

    We managed to fix the network here a bit. The coalition's network that is. The one we're not here to work on. The network for the Iraqi military is pretty good to begin with- that's what we're installing here after all. But we also managed to point the coalition guy in the right direction to fix some problems they had in our spare time, so now I'm able to actually get on the internet without painfully slow speed killing my connection. I was frustrated before because IE wouldn't even render a page of text without timing out halfway. It's still slow but vastly improved.

    Got put on my knees with a bunch of AK's pointed at us yesterday. Iraqi training exercise, but still VERY uncomfotable. These guys are not especially know for the fire discipline. F*ckerss stand around with their fingers curled around the triggers when they're not shoved up their nose. To be fair, in this dust you gotta pick some nasty fruit fairly often just to be able to breathe, but jeez. Anyway, the guy who was frisking us tried to pull y weapon out of my holster. Not cool- I was like "la la la" (no no no) while shoving my hand down on top of my pistol to keep it in my holster. He didn't press the issue fortunately, because it's a tense moment whenever people who don't speak much of each other's language and definitely don't trust each other start handling guns. They're not supposed to pull weapons from coalition folks during exercises, just simulate a pat-down like they would. Oh, I forgot to mention this is a training base. That provides a little context, but given how often Iraqis shoot each other during training, that doesn't give much confidence.

    There was a big name general here yesterday, a very recognizable name. Fortunately we didn't get caught up much in the dog and pony show, but it would've been cool to snap a pic with this guy.

    Iraqis keep birds a lot. Most of these buildings have a little canary cage, and a lot of them have chickens running through the company area, sometimes into the buildings. One of the little chicks got pecked by a bigger chicken and really got f*cked up- we think it died last night. Some of the guys seemed pretty upset about it- odd how little things can get to you.

    If I haven't gotten back to you on emails I've received in the last week, I'll get to it now that we have some network bandwidth available. If not here, then in a couple days back in the IZ. Until then I'll be keeping my head down.

    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    Flotsam and Jetsam

    Found floating around the Internet and regurgitated for it's value...:

    A very self-important college freshman attending a recent football game, took it upon himself to explain to a senior citizen sitting next to him why it was impossible for the older generation to understand his generation.

    "You grew up in a different world, actually an almost primitive one," the student said, loud enough for many of those nearby to hear. "The young people of today grew up with television, jet planes, space travel, man walking on the moon, our spaceships have visited Mars. We have nuclear energy, electric and hydrogen cars, computers with light-speed processing

    ....and…,"he paused to take another drink of beer.

    The Senior took advantage of the break in the student's litany and said, "You're right, son. We didn’t have those things when we were young........so we invented them. Now, you arrogant little turd, what are you doing for the next generation?"

    The applause was resounding...

    I love senior citizens!!!

    Back to... civilization?

    Looking good to be back in the IZ by sometime this weekend. Then I'll have some bandwidth to post about being out here.

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    Limited access

    I'll be out on a mission for the next few days, doing an install. I'll likely have limited or no Internet access until I get back to the IZ.

    Sunday, October 08, 2006

    Nuclear north Korea

    So it looks like the DPRK has almost certainly tested a nuclear device this morning. I doubted that they had one- my estimation was that they were most like bluffing. It appears I was wrong.

    China is not happy, Japan and south Korea are pissed. This could be a serious mis-step by Kim Jong Il. Japan has already said they will essentially isolate the DPRK if they test a nuke. the ROK is making it clear that they consider nukes in north Korea to be a serious threat to their security- and this could potentially be 'war talk'. China wants a buffer state, not a nuclear power, on their border so their support for the DPRK has probably just evaporated.

    Changes in circumstance bring risk and opportunity. Iran will be watching VERY closely to see how the world (the U.S.A.) will react. This may be the greatest test of Bush's leadership- this is where he can make things much, much worse than they have been. Everything that has gone before- war in Afghanistan, in Iraq; these could turn out to have been minor compared to nuclear Iran and north Korea.

    On a self-centered note, it makes me wonder what risks and opportunities there are for Americans who speak fluent Korean.

    Interesting interview

    The fair sex

    I was recently asked what type of traits I find physically attractive, and it seemed a question worth of some cogitation...

    Clear skin is very nice- I typically prefer olive toned or darker skin over pale. I have a minor thing for nice white teeth and healthy gums. A little weird, I know. Sociologists say that the basis of attractiveness is signaling health. You know, symmetrical features etc shows early childhood nutrition and resistance to disease. Not very romantic, I'm afraid.

    I like big noses sometimes. It's another oddity of mine- I don't mind hooked noses, Roman, Arabic, Slavic, what have you. For some reason I think it can be kind of attractive. Not necessarily, but it's okay with me. I like unique faces- Barbie-doll blandness doesn't really do it for me. I can appreciate the classic standard of beauty, but it's not where 'attractive' ends for me.

    I like brunettes usually, more than blondes. I'm rarely attracted to redheads. Eye colour doesn't really matter much to me. Really striking blue or green eyes are kind of a plus sometimes.

    I like boobs, but don't have any kind of fetish for huge ones. Does that make me odd? All other things being equal, I'd rather see a fit body than a girl with big boobs and flabby gut or ass. Speaking of le derrière, I used to be prejudiced against girls with big asses, but not any more. Big is not always bad- some women look much better with a bodacious booty. Nice trim legs and tummy- not necessarily a perfectly flat belly, but that nice curve of healthy womanhood.

    I think that every body has its own unique points that are worth exploring, and I try to be positive- minor flaws don't make people ugly. Of course there are always exceptions to 'the rules'; all of these things that I find attractive work together in various combinations and degrees- I don't think there is an absolute physical "type" that is the perfect woman- too much depends upon personality.

    Saturday, October 07, 2006

    Coincidentally...

    My room mate over here has a blog. I've added him to the sidebar under "Blogs Abroad".

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Vote Republican?

    No, I'm sorry: Vote Libertarian instead. The Republicans are already in charge and this shite is still going on.

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Weather recon

    It rained this morning, apparently for the first time in over six months. I didn't get to see it: it only lasted about 10 minutes. You wouldn't have known it half an hour later. This evening, a wind blew up a dusty haze, fine as smoke. The flies are getting more aggressive.

    The evenings are cooling off enough that people are hanging around outside at night now. Before, everyone would head straight into their hooch to get in the air conditioned space as soon as possible, even after dark. They've got (sober!) karaoke going on as I type this, over in the pool courtyard. Couple/three dozen folks sitting around in the dust beside the pool watching people embarass themselves on stage out of shear boredom.

    My blisters are finally almost gone, and I think I have my boots broken in. Which is good, I have another mission to go on sometime early next week; probably won't be posting much for a few days while I'm out in the field. Feel free to email me and chat though, I may have intermittant access to answer emails, and honestly, it's one of the few diversions we have over here. I even signed up for reunion.com to look up some old high school buddies.

    For everybody who's asked if I need anything- I appreciate it greatly. Most of my basics are taken care of, and I don't really dig junk food; but various flavours of jerky are not only acceptable to me, they're good as gold in the semi-barter economy we have going on here. For some reason the PX doesn't seem to stock much. Now if they'd just get some damn bicycles in...

    Went to the gym last night and tonight. Arg. My fat is sore. I can't even claim to have sore muscles in this place. Coming from a software company, I got complacent; I was in as good or better shape than most. Here I'm a flabby old dude. There are a million gym rats over here- these dudes are freakin' huge. There seems to be more fitness freaks than when I was on active duty. It probably helps that in a combat zone like this with restricted movement, there aren't many options for entertainment, and the gym is set up very well. Most of these guys have boxes of supplements and protein boosters that they buy online (the only way to buy most luxury items, and an indulgence that is easily justifiable.)

    There's a funny split between officers and enlisted though: most of the officers are runners, and most of the enlisted are bodybuilders. I see some of these officers running during the day, which is just stupid: 'mad dogs and Englishmen' come to mind.

    I've been hitting the Arabic lessons on CD a little bit. Here's where my linguist training both helps and hurts: I pronounce things well, so they assume I know more than I can actually understand. Ach well, just keep chugging along until it all works, I guess.

    I actually have tasks to do at work, unlike some of my co-workers who are basically on call for install work that comes spaced out. I'm working to assist in the NOC doing backups (er... yay?). It's something to do, even if the remote access to the servers I'm working on means I open a file folder and then go read the news for 5 minutes until it catches up. Boredom and ennui will be my biggest challenges in this job, along with klee[ping my techincal skills in shape to get another job after this. My work on installs consists mainly of imaging a bunch of desktop computers and making sure they join the domain properly, collecting end user agreements and creating a few accounts local to each site. So much for site surveys and systems engineering. Pretty much any simian who has seen a keyboard could do this job, if they were willing to put up with the conditions attendant upon the location.

    ("Conditions attendant upon the location"? I think I just needed to use an intelligent-sounding phrase there to reassure myself for a moment.)

    And I'm spent.

    More accountability

    I'm looking forward this coming online soon. (Added to the right sidebar in great anticipation).

    It's tough to understand where our money is going, and even once you get some insight, it's difficult to get other people to understand. It will be good to have a resource to point ignorant people (meant in the kindest way) towards.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Stupid legislation

    I've written the following note to my congresspersons:

    "I oppose SB 6613 and 5475.

    The so-called "assault weapons" ban is based upon mistaken assumptions and flawed reasoning regarding the use of firearms. Law-abiding citizens have the constitutional right and the moral obligation to protect themselves and their communities. Abrogating their 2nd amendment rights and depriving them of effective tools to do so is wrong.

    The ban on Internet gambling does not affect me personally, but it is a serious violation of the rights of individuals. Obviously, the state cannot even make a consistent claim of protecting the individual (financially OR morally) from themselves, as state-licensed gambling in the form of the state lottery and casinos is unaffected. This is a transparent pander to the casino lobby to prevent competition. Technological empowerment of the individual will not be denied. Business must adapt or be superseded."

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    News from Misssissippi

    A few years ago I was down in Biloxi Mississippi for military training, and was fortunate enough to have a good friend in the area who had me over to his family's house quite a few times, which made a big difference for the months that I ws there.

    Dan's dad is a great guy who helped me build my first jalopy computer, launching me on my current career, which has been very good to me. Thanks Ralph.

    He writes:

    Yesterday I visited the gulf coast where the most damage was done in my state and it was very disheartening.

    I tried to forget the shops and casinos and hotels and just thought about the people that were there that just lived there. You know those people have prolly been there many many years. Those old houses are gone, the people are maybe ghosts that once lived in them, many are still missing and will never be found. But I talked to a native of the area, borned and raised (and half cajun), the spirit of the young man was enormous. He has a wife and daughter to care for and three jobs. The stress on his face was very obvious. If there is a God, let mercy and love be given to folks like that. Anyway I was reading your blog and just thought I would share that with you.

    Man take care and God bless you.


    The human spirit really is an amazing thing. Yesterday, some Iraqi guys who work with us came into the office and we were discussing the current state of the Iraqi telecom infrastructure. Now, realize that pretty much everything sucks here: the phones suck, cell phones suck, Internet access sucks. What wasn't blown apart in the war didn't exist in the first place.

    But these guys were just eager to learn and wanted our take on what was the best path to a career. What they should specialize in, etc. They were eager to "not waste time" on generalized experience. What a refreshing attitude. I tried to reassure them that no experience is wasted.

    On another note: I've been trying to come up with some pictures that would capture some of the feel of this place. The problem is, there's not that much that's interesting to look at.

    I went up on the roof of our single story office yesterday to see if there was anything I could snap from up there.

    Nope.

    What's worse was I felt horribly exposed up there, like sick feeling in the pit of your stomache, nightmare about 'making a speech in front of the class naked' type vulnerability. I got the hell off that roof right away.

    Foley's follies

    [Caveat: I hate child molesters]

    So a lot of noise is being made about theis Mark Foley guy. Seems he has been hitting on underage interns for some time. Underage male interns at that. Even more ironic is his participation in the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children.

    So he's resigned, lots of political capital is being made of it by the democrats, they're trying to dredge up and smear as many people as possible with it.

    But really, is this child molesting?

    He sent sexually explicit emails to teenagers. Not honourable, pretty creepy, but not pedophilia. This guy is guilty of inapproriate sexual conduct towards people over whom he holds authority, but he's not a child molester. If everyone who was attracted to teenagers were locked up, there'd be a hell of a lot less people on the streets. It's a fact that evolution has prepared us to be sexual starting in our teens. It's a fact that sexual attractiveness doesn't know age limits- some people develop at one age, some do at others. It's true that sexual predation on the naive and innocent is despicable from the point of view of being a decent human being- but our 'age of consent' laws are arbitrary and often conflicting.

    Foley is an idiot for sacrificing his position and effectiveness, and he's a creep for doing it within his chain of command and with obviously no intention of acting honourably towards the target(s) of his sexual attentions. But in that he's no worse than Clinton, and he doesn't seem to constitute any sort of 'danger to society' in my opinion.

    This viewpoint will obviously conflict with that of many parents of teenagers who wish to shield their offspring from all that's bad in the world; I say, if you've done your proper inoculations, then it won't be a problem.

    Edited to add:

    The IM thing seems to be a little more substantial than the emails. However, it still does not equate to true pedophelia. I think the biggest issue here is that it's a gay guy hitting on young men that gets people up in arms. If it had been females, there would have been outcry, but not as much. If it had been a female congressperson banging a young man, it would not have been as threatening. I must say, Foley's excuses (he was molested blah blah blah) are disgusting- I hate the culture of victimhood that so many try to use nowadays to excuse the inexcusable. We are human beings, posessed of free will and options. We are responsible for our actions, particularly so when it's not an acute situation, but rather a chronic one- not an emergency but a long term activity.

    Sunday, October 01, 2006

    Housekeeping

    Fixed a couple links, removed a few, and added a few.

    This blog site is more of a portal than a real journal (as evidenced by the many months of non-posting while I was busy with other things). I use it as a collection of bookmarks to some things and people I find interesting.

    Occasionally I vent a little here so that my closest friends don't have to listen to me drone on interminably about politics and other geeky stuff.

    I invite comment and pointers to other interesting stuff.