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Hmmm, What's Up in the World Today?
  • Catnip Effective Bug Repellent, Scientists Say I took up herb gardening in May when things went south with Rachel... you know, for Zen. I started with rosemary, lemon thyme and catnip, all of which act as insect repellants to some degree. Well, I'm not positive about rosemary, but it is mildly toxic to humans and with such an aromatic smell, how could it not repel at least one species of insect? I planted the catnip and thyme in the same rectangular planter, the rosemary is in a circular pot by itself because it isn't hardy enough to survive winters in Kentucky and must come inside... it's also my favorite herb. What I wanted to say is I knew (or suspected) this about catnip. Since I planted the herbs, sitting outside on the patio at night has been pleasantly mosquito-free.
  • One of my worst fears. I dread the day it begins creeping back.
  • I would say "cool!", but if it happened tomorrow, I'd never forgive myself. So instead I say "whoa."
  • Starting to fear Louisville woefully sterile of web geeks, I stumbled onto the weblogs of several fellow Louisvillians. Serendipity - don't you love the Internet? Here's how it happened:
    blogger.com (mentions a post on...) --> caterina.net (... about weblog love, and makes a followup post about failed love after receiving an email from...) --> bipolar (... about a relationship gone sour; bipolar are two dudes in living Louisville [brian - sorry about the girl]. one of these guys is also a...) --> Coffeemonk (... and one of the Coffeemonks is a long-lost best friend of mine from high school, Jim Kuczun, but Jim appears to have neither email nor photo available because he never "turns that damn Playstation off"; one of the other Coffeemonks also has a weblog at...) --> puffin-a-go-go.
    The Internet is getting smaller by the day - I found a lost friend and two weblog owners here in Louisville. I'll just link to them from here and not send greetings just yet, and instead see how long it takes them to find me, and when you do, kindly stick a hot poker up Jim's arse and have him email me. Thanks.
:: Bryan Travis :: 08/30/2001 @ 03:30 :: [link] ::

Domestic Tranquility

Ah, the comforts of a quiet evening at home. There will be a lot less of those in the upcoming months, what with 9 credit hours of grad school, MCSE training and a 50 hour/week job. Soon, even a 20 minute shower will seem an unattainable luxury. Oof! What the hell was I thinking? I must make a point to remember how euphoric kava-kava can make one feel and never, never to make long-term plans for the future less than 6 hours after taking it.

On the positive side, it's a good thing I have a home security system and automated the ADT payments, downloaded IronMedia's Java Blogger client and have a retired neighbor who knows the general times of my comings and goings and looks out for me. Neighborhood watches are cool. In return, I keep an eye on her place while she's sound asleep, because my ungodly weird sleeping habits mean I'm usually up past 3am.

On the negative side, my cat gets stressed and claws the carpet when I'm not home for long periods of time, and I've met with absolutely zero success teaching him more constructive stress-management techniques - behold the irreparably shredded carpet for yourself. Oh well, at least he's less vindictive than most felines - a more neurotic cat might protest by urinating on the bed. Not cool. If I wanted an animal companion with no bladder or bowel control, I'd get some sort of avian. One that didn't squawk or chirp too much. And was nocturnal, like me. Maybe an owl. A rooster would be out of the question and undoubtedly would suffer a horrible death at 5:30am one sunny, weekend summer morning. My, how shocking that would be - I'm so not the violent type - but much like their feline friends, humans can do terrible things when pushed over the edge. There will be no avians in the foreseeable future - Mr. Mist (you ought to know Mr. Mistoffelees! The Original Conjuring Cat) and I have a peaceful harmony, represented here. The arrangement is I change the litter, provide food and water, toys, no fewer than 40 places to sleep and a lap on demand; Mr. Mist's part is to lounge 22 hours a day, and may I say his performance is exemplary.

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/30/2001 @ 00:20 :: [link] ::

Not Wild About the Dubya

It's not that I have a personal vendetta against Dubya and put forth an effort to ridicule him - I freely admit his decision on stem cell research was a step in the right direction I did not expect him to make, and for that, I underestimated the man. I simply don't agree with most everything he does. Another thing - and I say this with the greatest solemnness - I truly believe a significant percentage of the American population is more intelligent than George W. Bush, Jr., and the advisors Dubya has surrounded himself with are ill-equipped to compensate for his shortcomings and mediocre intelligence because they're his political clones. The White House is drinking its own bath water: Bush's advisors are not a group with diverse perspectives - they're all like him. Let's be fair - there is a very natural tendency to prefer others who are like us, but for someone of Bush's caliber, it's all the more important he surround himself with advisors from widely varied backgrounds to better appreciate and address the needs of the wide mix of people in this country. Or simply find people; as Ralph Nader pointed out on the Diane Rehm show this morning, it's almost September and there are no appointees for the Food and Drug Administration or National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, two government organizations whose mission is to protect the health and safety of Americans.

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/28/2001 @ 12:27 :: [link] ::

Scary Places

I'm from Kentucky. To some, Kentucky is a scary place. Fair 'nuff - there are times when I'm inclined to agree. It has its redeeming qualities. But you ain't seen nothing yet.

While researching this, I found a brief history of the church I attended as a kid. It was provided by my grandmother, Noreen Day, the same lady we made noodles with. She's written two books on the history of Plum Creek Baptist Church. It's a small Internet, after all.

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/24/2001 @ 02:01 :: [link] ::

Nap, Please

I get 8 hours of sleep, more than I've had in any one night for the past 3 weeks, then felt like molasses all day long. Nice. It's 6:30pm, I'm at work and would like nothing more than a 15 minute nap to keep forging ahead. But sleeping at work, even a 15-minute pick-me-up, is severely taboo in corporate America. Silicon Valley, it ain't.

Sleep 8 hours tonight, lethargic all day tomorrow. That's a paradox, an enigma, a mysticism and a bizarrerie. Bittersweet. Pleasing, yet disturbing, not unlike many things in life.

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/23/2001 @ 19:00 :: [link] ::

Human Multitasking

I knew it. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it! Human multitasking is not the way to improve productivity.

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/19/2001 @ 17:35 :: [link] ::

Picks of the Recent

An assemblage of notable websites recently found out and about...

  • twinklepop: "streaming audio visual treats for the whole family. Inspired by our love of music, frustration with the music industry..."
    by way of timothompson.com

  • Blood and Honey - Yugoslavia's War, Milosevic's Legacy: Ron Haviv narrates his experiences from 1991-1995 covering the wars in former Yugoslavia in this audio/visual picture story on MSNBC. Here's a reason to see it.

  • The Royal Tanenbaums. A must-see if, like me, you thought Rushmore was a work of genius.
    by way of timothompson.com

  • Too Live Nurse. Must be that near-miss with medicine I had in college. Have RealPlayer ready and wheeze and gasp to a medical career that could have been with parody tunes like Girl With Emphysema and Ventilate Me
    by way of MetaFilter

  • EndEffect. They're artists. Rendered landscapes, mechanical/industrial/metallic. Web art. Wallpapers. Check it out.
    by way of MetaFilter

  • Not one, not two, but several sites commenting on Steve Ballmer's farcical performance at a recent Microsoft pep rally. You know, my pits get a little moist sometimes, too, but I ain't never seen anything like that! Bill knew he'd look like a buffoon if he tried to pull off such an ostentatious display and found other ways to motivate people. Oh well... he'll learn or he'll burn.

  • Collection of two years of Internet memes
    Of the audio/video/flash sort

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/19/2001 @ 14:43 :: [link] ::

The Back-To-School Special

Hey, kids, sorry there haven't been any posts for a few days, but the writing was diverted to filling out graduate school applications. Yes, this techno-geek with a Biochemistry degree has sold out to corporate America and will be persuing an MBA for the next 22 months! Woo hoo! Jokes about corporate America aside, tuition reimbursement is a beautiful thing. $28,000 total tuition plus books, and with a B-average I won't pay a penny. Nice.

How about an essay, since I spent a sizeable chunk of the afternoon writing it? The topic was "What are your long-term career aspirations and how will a Bellarmine MBA help you accomplish them?", the token "what do you want to be when you grow up?" essay question. It's not exactly peering into the dark depths of my soul, but the first half is a fairly accurate account of where I've come from.

I elected to remove references to my employer and replace them with "ACME" or "BRAND X." I wouldn't want to attract undue attention when Google starts returning links here to searches for certain corporate buzzwords. The web team at my company actually purchases reports on Usenet articles and websites containing the very corporate buzzwords I chose to remove. Am I being obstructively paranoid? Nahhhhhh!

But... I'm warning you... it is an admissions essay, so the facetious remarks were toned down a bit.

Okay, okay... without further adieu, a 26 year-old's rendition of "what I want to be when I grow up."

After spending a few minutes comparing my long-term career goals of five years ago to where I am today, I made two self-observations. First, call me Horatio, for there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in my philosophy – it’s obvious I don’t have an affinity for predicting the future. The second observation is less obvious than the first, but more profound: increasing one’s adaptability makes it possible to take advantage of a wider range of opportunities and simplifies planning for the unexpected. For someone like me, whose nature is to be risk adverse, there’s great comfort in being prepared for contingencies – it’s a salve to soothe the itch of the unknown. This is to say nothing of the benefit of broadening one’s opportunities and the sense of empowerment it brings. Having more opportunities to choose from is an asset to all, regardless of disposition to risk.

Five years ago I was completing a Biochemistry degree and wanted to attend medical school and become a general practitioner. Today I work in the Information Technology organization of Brand X. In my four years at Acme, I’ve graduated from the Brand X Leadership Program and joined the technology infrastructure team where I own the strategy for desktop computing.

Not long after joining Acme I began feeling the effects of having no business background, either academic or experiential. Performance didn’t suffer for my lack of business skills, but I had to ask more questions, do more research and work harder to make up for it. The Brand X Leadership Program was an eye-opening experience for someone with my background, with four rotations in different areas of the business providing real-world experience and exposure, and several training courses covering basic theories and concepts of business and economics. When I graduated from college, I thought a corporation’s 10-K was the company-sponsored employee marathon. Two years later, I not only knew what an annual report was, I could read and comprehend one, although I rarely read more than a few pages past the balance sheet.

Looking 5, 10 or 15 years into the future from the perspective of where I am today, I see myself working in an information technology related field. I love technology, and I always want to be near it. When I go home after troubleshooting a problem or designing a novel solution to meet a pressing business need, that’s when I most feel I’ve made a difference and contributed to the organization. Digging into a challenging issue and finding solutions is what I do best. I’ve found my niche.

During the past 15-20 years Information Technology has gone from being the pastureland of burned-out CFOs and a collection of mainframe operators printing reports to a strategic business function providing tools that empower the sales force, improve productivity, maintain and manage an expanding compendium of data and that finally allow users to run and print their own reports.

The growing demands on the I/T industry to work in close partnership with their business clients and to do it faster, better and cheaper have created the need for I/T professionals who not only have technical smarts, but business savvy, as well. With limited resources and seemingly unlimited customer demands, I/T leaders must be able to create and execute on a vision. This is where I want to be.

An I/T leader faces a varied array of challenges that are exciting and foreboding at the same time: planning and vision for tomorrow must be tempered with the financial realities of today, budgeting and resource allocation to maintain existing systems and implement new ones, finding and retaining talent to make it happen, understanding the business’ needs and technology’s potential to meet them.

To get there, I must expand my business and soft skill-sets. Meeting the challenges posed to I/T requires a combination of “hard” and “soft” skills, a balance I believe is best provided by a liberal arts education program. What’s out there is a whole new realm of challenging issues to dig into, waiting for solutions. Expanding one’s adaptability and opportunities has never been so exciting.

And there you have it. Boo-ya!

Now, off to study for the GMAT...

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/17/2001 @ 20:26 :: [link] ::

Career Advice

I found this gem while going through my "Unbelievable" email folder. The real subject of this email is "WHERE ARE THE PATCH CABLES!", but I think "Career Advice" is much more apropos, don't you? Reading it is sure to be painful and shockingly funny at the same time; shockingly funny for obvious reasons and painful because you'll feel bad for both author and recipient, and because most of us have sent such an email, only to regret it later forever and for ever. The email was sent by a co-worker. Names have been removed to protect the innocent and the brazenly chutzpah. The original email was sent in 14-point Arial, but reproducing the typeface here would taint my weblog's tender design. Ah, I can still barely contain myself, even after 7 months! Submitted for your approval...

You have an issue that needs to be dealt with ASAP!

We have been waiting on your team to supply a simple task of getting some colored patch cables in for the XYZ training room in XYZ-XYZ-X for almost 1 month now! I have been in close contact with S____ from the Network Team and he has informed me that you have given him multiple dates of when this simple task was supposed to be completed.

So far, you score a 100% on missed deadlines and lack of communication with your customers. S_____ has had to call you or your staff (mostly by my request) on multiple occasions only to get a new excuse of why the delivery was missed. The cables are now all in. The last call S____ made, you agreed to the drop dead date of Monday for delivery. And here we are once again, Tuesday, with no cables and no word from you on why or even when. Does your word mean nothing?


A long time ago someone gave me excellent advise on good business practices. "At whatever cost to you, always do what you say your [sic] going to do, but most importantly, do it when you say you will do it by."

I'll share this with you now and maybe it could help you be successful in whatever you do in the future.

I need the cables here today! If you can't meet this deadline, feel free to call me or C___ and discuss.

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/15/2001 @ 00:22 :: [link] ::

Hybrid Dreams

I ordered a Toyota Prius last weekend. Order yours early - only 12,000 for the 2002 model year in the U.S. market and delivery takes 3-4 months!

So I'm patiently waiting and perusing websites...

  • Auto accident. Only 202 miles - what bad luck and *ouch*, how does one survive such carnage?
  • John from Minnesota gives the "what it's like to own a Prius for a year" perspective.
  • Leigh Brasington (he) has a large collection of Prius links. Don't overlook his Buddhist and meditation resources.
  • Review
  • Prius Envy, mainly links to Yahoo groups - some of the posts are quite informative.
  • Sierra Club approved!
  • Another Review
  • Another pundit, another review. Note the mileage ratings were switched. I've seen Prius mileages misstated as 52 highway / 45 city quite a bit, usually in older reviews. This is one is different, though, because the author also reported reversed mileages on his test drive. Now, that makes you wonder how well he did his research, like if he even drove a Prius at all. Maybe his editor switched the numbers, but one would think maybe it's not a typo if a set of numbers were reversed several times in an article and run it by the author first. I dunno. I just know something about this article stinks, and I'm righteously indignant!

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/12/2001 @ 23:50 :: [link] ::

Good Intentions

Have you ever been moved to action by a force deep inside that you knew was The Right Thing To Do, having the most pure and simple good intent? A calling to reduce the suffering in the Universe a bit, knowing there would be no recognition, because it wasn't about you for once. You were just a conduit. So you answered the call of your soul and acted.

I did The Right Thing(tm), honest to God I did! But... a poor marksman misses the criminal and shoots the hostage. With time, I feel more like King Midas, so I've bound my hands to prevent doing more harm, for in this situation, my hands have consistently failed to improve circumstances.

Mahayana Buddhism has a simple philosophy. Suffering is inherent to human life, but it is unnecessary. We seek enlightenment by understanding the nature and causes of suffering. Through understanding the causes, we gain awareness and acquire the wisdom to remove the sources of suffering from ourselves and help our fellow humans find the path of enlightenment and do the same.

The mantra is a fascinating concept. A mantra is one to a few phrases or sentences, usually spoken or uttered to oneself repeatedly. Words have no tangible existence, but they are nonetheless powerful entities because we perceive them as real. Our joy and suffering often consents to the words of ourselves and others. A mantra is enlightened sound with no ultimate reality. By repeating a mantra we experience both of its aspects at the same time: the enlightened sound with the non-reality of the words.

The most common Buddhist mantra is "Om Mani Padme Hum" or "Om Mani Peme Hung." The six syllables represent the six forms of human suffering, and their sound brings enlightenment to absolve it:

Om - pride, arrogance
Ma - jealousy
Ni - passion, desire, lust
Pe - stupidity, prejudice
Me - poverty, greed
Hung - anger, aggression, hatred

Back to The Right Thing.

Some believe genuine altruism is an illusion. Not me - I think it's very real in people's hearts and intentions, but hard to quantify in the outcome of an event. I did what I could, but there are other terms in the equation, and the final result isn't always easy to predict, and sometimes is entirely unexpected. That's why I believe a Utopian society is as improbable as anything ever was (though not entirely impossible), because even with the best of intentions from all parties, Murphy's Law applies, and one person's heaven is another's hell. Oh, how I wish things had turned out differently! But I did my best, and my heart was in the right place. The rest is up to the wind.

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/12/2001 @ 02:34 :: [link] ::

Now I've seen everything.

Now I've seen everything. No, wait... now I have.

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/09/2001 @ 00:52 :: [link] ::

How Did You Get My Number?

I've often wondered how people surfing to my web site find me. My web pages aren't exactly mainstream, except maybe the Alaska Travelogue, so I always assumed anyone finding my site would have to search for utterly bizarre keywords. With access to my referrers, I've realized I couldn't be more correct. Some recent queries on Google and Yahoo:

The other pages returned vary widely from highly informative to the completely unrelated and from erotic to groaningly similar to mine, which is to say, "web shite."

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/08/2001 @ 23:40 :: [link] ::

Making Noodles With Grandmother

We made noodles with Grandmother Saturday. I took the camera along and will post a link to the pictures inside this post - watch for it to appear soon. My great-grandmother was full-blooded German, and noodle-making was a German family tradition my grandmother and her sisters learned during their childhood in Canada. My grandmother is healthy and her mind is sharp, but she is 86 years old. All too often when our elders die, their knowledge and experience dies with them. She's researched our heritage, tracing ancestors back to the late 1600's, and recorded her research and family lore told by relatives long dead in a family history to preserve them for us.

Unfortunately, paper and Microsoft Word cannot convey acquired skills and experience. Or maybe it's fortunate written words are limited, because it's heartening to know some things are simply part of the human experience and cannot be adequately represented in an impersonal form - they are their own common denominators. My grandmother's cooking will make you swear everything you've eaten before is trite. Well, except maybe fine dining, and I don't mean Applebee's, folks. Please. Someday when I'm older and eat a scrumptious blackberry cobbler with ice cream I don't want to say wistfully, "This is like Grandma used to make." Noodles aren't exactly fine dining, and they definitely ain't cobbler, but it's not about the noodles or the cobbler. It's about smelling the roses along life's path, being a family and how this 86 year old woman will live forever in our hearts, not as regrets of time wasted, but as memories of time well spent. Bereavement is realizing too late family is our single most valuable asset.

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/06/2001 @ 07:21 :: [link] ::

Web Statistics

I am amazed. In the two days I've been collecting statistics on funtongue scatterplot, there have been 10 unique visitors, and several of you have made multiple visits. Ah, me public! Based on IP addresses, I know who one or two of you are. For everyone else I don't know, are you here looking for world class journalism, thought-provoking insights, stunning revelations? I'm afraid you're not going to find them here - I'm just a NetGeek(tm) with random thoughts and nowhere else to spew them.

Equally surprising is where the hits are coming from:

  • 3 of 10 came here from the funtongue homepage
  • 4 of 10 were direct entry - either you knew what you were looking for or you have scripting turned off on your browser and stats4you couldn't obtain the referrer
  • 3 of 10 came here from the root of this weblog. I don't get this at all - until now, nothing linked to it. The idea was for someone to find the weblog first, then for a few of the curious to snoop the root directory. It seems to happen the other way around.

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/04/2001 @ 09:34 :: [link] ::

Plunging for Prius

It's official. After six months of deliberation, I've decided to buy a Toyota Prius. One of the questions I asked Toyota's Customer Assistance Center was how to pronounce it. "PREE-us" I should have known - the word is Latin, and I took it in high school, so I knew the correct way to say it. Then why have I been calling it "PRY-us"?

It's the least I can do to counteract the environmentally unfriendly George "Dubya." Hmmm... next I need to figure out something to counteract his religious zealotry. Any suggestions? No, I will not join the Church of Satan or whatever it is.

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/03/2001 @ 22:22 :: [link] ::

A Wise Internet User Uses Firewalls

Below is a snippet from my cable router's incoming access log.

If you have broadband, run services on your machines or dial-in more than a couple hours a day, you'd be a fool not to use some form of hardware or software firewalling. The "Code Red" worm at work on port 80... well, maybe a few other worms and script kiddies, too. Turning on Paranoid Mode, possible explanations of the other port scans:

  • Port 21: FTP port. WU-FTP and WS-FTP. 'Nuff said. If you don't get it, subscribe to BUQTRAQ for about 3 days, then you will.
  • Port 111: Unix RPC port. Older versions of rpc.statd on Linux have notorious vulnerabilities
  • Port 119 - @Home scans. I've only seen them scan for NNTP servers. I don't know why that is.
  • Port 515: Several worms scan the LPR (line printer) port
  • Port 10008: Lion Worm (bad guy) and Cheese Worm (good worm - it patches machines vulnerable to the Lion Worm)
  • Port 27374: SubSeven and Ramen worms.

Source IPDestination Port Number

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/02/2001 @ 21:29 :: [link] ::

Productivity Initiatives Gone Too Far

When you see a co-worker take his coffee cup into the restroom, it's a little odd and a bit unsanitary... but if you've ever put dirty dishes into the dishwasher just before remembering it was full of clean dishes, you can relate.

But when you see a co-worker take his coffee cup into the restroom and take a slurp while standing at the urinal, you know the recent productivity initiative has gone a bit too far.

:: Bryan Travis :: 08/01/2001 @ 15:01 :: [link] ::