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Blech

Oh, my... oh, dear. There are some very sick puppies in the world. No, of course I don't believe the story; but even so, it takes a disturbed person to make something like that up.

Real post coming up later tonight.

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/30/2001 @ 23:40 :: [link] ::
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If I Didn't Procrastinate, You'd Know Something Was Wrong

I'm in the ritual last minute rush to get everything completed for class this weekend. It's fortunate I'm in the weekend MBA program and not the weeknight program, or life would be a perpetual hell for a procrastinator like me. Tonight I'm reading an early 1990s case study about a consulting firm developing a "visionary" information management system. The flavor of visionary I'm talking about is the kind that strikes me as light on the "vision" and "airy" on the specifics. The company in the business case saw an "unstructured" database as its key to flexibility and meeting clients' broader needs in the future. In the demo, the software was presented in such a way that it seemed not just intuitive, but telepathic. It anticipated the user's next task and offered insightful information without being queried. If a user didn't understand a business concept or strategy and asked the system for help, the system could not only understand the query, but was intelligent enough to hone in on the specific area of the concept the user wanted to know about, assess his/her current level of expertise and respond appropriately with a focused training module tailored to the user's current skill level; the user emerged an expert on the field 30 minutes later.

First, the term "unstructured database," used early in the article, immediately put up a red flag for me and perhaps biased my opinion from the beginning. A database is structured. Well, it is if it's functional. Otherwise, it's just a mass of data. That most popular collection of words and symbols for querying a database, SQL - "Structured Query Language," hints at the structured nature of a database within its very name. By using "unstructured," I got the impression the company strategists didn't understand what a database was, and therefore didn't understand what a database could and could not do.

Second, there's no mention on how the system was coded. I'm just a techie geek transplanted into corporate America. I'm more interested in idolizing the genius who devised a way to execute on this vague company vision than I am in idolizing the fluff-head who came up with the idea. Whoever could write code in 1990 to do everything described in the demo is the true hero of this story. Going to school for an MBA is helping me understand the full scope of how I/T is misunderstood in corporate cultures.

All right, I'm through whining and being a grump. My final ponderance of the night: princess-anne.va.da.uu.net, who are you?

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/27/2001 @ 02:50 :: [link] ::
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All About...

Finally, finally, finally... added an "about" page.

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/25/2001 @ 08:43 :: [link] ::
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*Wave* to Erich and Erin

For Erich and Erin: remember, it's called LimeWire, as in electrified green fruit.

Thanks for the Heine... Viva la Latte

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/23/2001 @ 04:57 :: [link] ::
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Ode to Rich-O's

Rich-O's is a tavern with atmosphere. I do not use the term lightly, for I had never seen a Lenin Red Room before, not even in a museum, until I went to Rich-O's. That and an eclectic selection of "libations." The absence of cheap, American piss lagers is a bold move I applaud them for, although I suspect the credit goes solely to Roger Baylor, the bartender. Their webpage deserves a visit, and I'm not saying that lightly, either - with taglines like "Extremism in defense of good beer is no vice" and "Light Beer? Not Here!" you're in for a treat. There's even a Beer Gospel - ask around the Southern Baptist church I was raised in and you're sure to be told that positioning "beer" next to "gospel" is a recipe for damnation. That kind of rhetoric has generated more revenue for Disney than Steamboat Willie, so you have no choice but to go to Rich-O's. Don't hold it against Roger. You have to be passionate about something because our passions define us.

While driving home I started to think about kayaking and how it would be a great way to end the day. So when I got home, I first did the thing dark beer or strong coffee is oft to make one do, then drank a glass of water, secured the kayak on top of the car and headed for the lake. I haven't been in the boat in awhile and had forgotten the peacefulness it brings. It was like gliding on a huge mirror; I couldn't get over the perfect smoothness of the water! The wind was still and the sun about to set, the air cool and sweetly scented by the surrounding woods. The most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets are experienced on a calm lake because you're surrounded by sky.

I found 10 coffee songs with LimeWire tonight... the Folger's Coffee jingle was an unexpected bonus. I have a huge coffee fetish, which would be a good topic for a future post. I've discovered more good music in a month doing random searches like that than I have in a year of listening to the DMX music channels on cable. I had never heard of Sarah Harmer before tonight - okay, so I live in a cultural bubble - but she has a great sound.

Enough living for today - there's plenty more of it waiting in tomorrow. Time to sleep.

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/21/2001 @ 01:19 :: [link] ::
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Wrecklessly Living

Today I gave myself an allergy shot. The serum vial had become pressurized somehow, enough to push the plunger down the shaft of the syringe. I injected the stuff, anyway. That's trippin', dude.

Then I ate a Healthy Choice frozen meal... you know, one of those with "Keep Frozen Until Ready To Use. Do Not Refreeze." printed in the corner on the back. I left it at home yesterday when I went to work, and it sat on the kitchen table for 14 hours. I put it back in the freezer last night, took it to work this morning and 5 hours later after it had partially thawed, I ate it, anyway. Gnarly.

How I love shatterpated risk. Today smells like a good day to die.

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/19/2001 @ 15:27 :: [link] ::
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Zehnderisms #2:

"The Much Sought After Thomas Zehnder, ABD"

Thomas Zehnder, ABD (All But Dissertation) strikes again! This was one of the rare times we had classes on two consecutive weekends, a Big Z double-dose. Hey, before we get to this week's Zehnderisms (twice as many as last week), how about a another installment of Deconstructing Zehnder? The formula worked so well last week that I'd hate to abandon it before milking it for all it was worth. It's impossible to kill this horse with a season maximum of four episodes. Let the deconstruction begin.

Check out the unit on this guy. No, you perv, not HIS unit... the ZZ Top belt buckle unit. "Proficient Photoshop User" will not be a bullet appearing anytime soon on my resume, so one might surmise if I spent 45 minutes figuring out layers, shading and how to make a circular selection (yes, folks - my Photoshop skills are indeed that pathetic), there was some significance in the buckle. Correct! Zehnder once taught an Honors Economics class at a local high school. Conversation will wander as it may, and found itself on the subject of ZZ Top. Zehnder is a big fan, but didn't think the rock group had a belt buckle, so he said he would give an "A" to anyone who could find him one. Just before Christmas Break, Zehnder walked into his Economics class and discovered a gift wrapped package on his desk. He asked who had bought the belt buckle, and his students said, "Well, we all chipped in." So he gave them all an "A," and wears the belt buckle to this day. Zehnder forged a bond with the Honors Economics class that year, and he symbolizes it with the big double Z under his belly. He's 56; if he's walking around in 2021, I'm sure he'll be wearing it at 76.

That sort of deconstruction adds a whole new dimension to Thomas Zehnder, ABD, don't you think? Oh, don't think for a minute he's just some guy. No, he's exceptionally unique, and that's why I can't help writing about him after he gives a lecture. If you're looking for your very own ZZ Top Belt Buckle, Red Devil is selling one for $30 - look at the bottom of the page, second from last entry.

Ben brought a Sony Vaio PictureBook to class and took a few snapshots of Zehnder in his classroom element. It was a covert operation, and a conventional digital camera would have blown our cover. The image quality isn't the best - the camera's maximum resolution is 640x480, and that's with interpolation. Well, come on! It's a laptop, for crying out loud. There isn't a "Nikon" logo stamped on the side, so relax. Many of our best men and women were lost obtaining this rare Zehnder footage. Check it:

Zehnder gets to know his students Zehnder in thought Side Profile Zehnder relaxes whilst lecturing

I thought this was going to be the most Zehnder-rich document on the W3, and my cover would be blown if Thomas Zehnder (ABD) ever used a search engine to search for his name in case he forgot it. Far from it. Failing to consider how common the surname is in Europe, particularly Germany and Switzerland, the results of a Zehnder search were shocking; at this writing, there were 43,800 hits for "Zehnder" on Google! Even "Thomas Zehnder" returns 181 hits. 43,800 hits - wow, Zehnder must be the equivalent of "Smith," "Jones" or "Williams," right? Not at all - even though 90% of all web pages are written in English and you'd expect any English or American name to be more common on the W3, "Zehnder" is still much more rare. Strictly speaking, it's a 9:1 ratio, but we'll round up to 10:1 for the sake of easy estimation, which would give "Zehnder" 438,000 hits if it were English. Google's hit counts for various common surnames:

... Many surnames later, those roughly equivalent to Zehnder...

The U.S. Census Bureau ranks first and last names by commonality using 1990 U.S. census data. When comparing to the number of web pages, the ranking of the most common names matches pretty well with Google, but it was hit or miss trying to find names in the 400k-500k hit range. Dual meanings skew the results (for example, "schilling" is currency in several European countries; "Wilson" and "Scott" are both first and last names) as does the celebrity effect ("Spears" has nearly 2 millions hits, far too many for the 717th most common surname; the duality effect also plays in).

Okay, there were two points of that exercise: this page won't catch the attention of too many Zehnders, and this post was written by a borish eccentric, also known as a "complete geek" to those with less refined vocabularies. Let's move along...

Zehnderisms #2:

  • On the 1970s American automobile industry:
    "Johnny Lunchbucket started driving a Honda Civic instead of a Chevy."

  • On price gouging after the World Trade Center catastrophe:
    "I've got four sisters. One of them's kind of jumpy, if you know what I mean. She calls me at home after school, 'Tom, I'm glad I got a hold of ya!' I said, 'Why, what's wrong?' 'Quick! Go buy gas! It's already $4 a gallon!'"

  • When dimming the lights for the overhead projector:
    "Now, you can get really sexy here, folks... these are our nightclub lights. Ever noticed how people look better in the dark?"

  • On homemaking:
    "My wife says a clean house is a sign of a dull woman."

  • Another:
    "A house should looked lived in, not like a museum. Well, we win!"

  • On vehicle emissions testing:
    "No one keeps a car 35 years... well, some do. It's a real screamer, too. Everytime I drive it, someone's screaming."

  • On mediocrity:
    "Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, nuclear war and slow dancing."

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/16/2001 @ 13:25 :: [link] ::
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Sorry, Ben...

Ben - sorry, dude... I'll try to make a post this evening. Send him an email to say hi.

He has a serious aversion to nose hair. You must "trim that sh*t up" before any close encounter; otherwise, he'll ask you to braid it in a not-so-subtle way. Not that I have direct experience, you see - I've merely witnessed the victimization of others.

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/15/2001 @ 09:18 :: [link] ::
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Yum

I drink a lot of coffee: a double shot latte, a triple shot latte and two cups of regular java today. I don't have halitosis, but round about midnight the humid jungle inside my mouth needs liberating. It would be like standing on Jupiter's moon Io and taking a deep whiff of the fumes roiling from a nearby sulfur volcano. However, allow me to be bold and say I don't think any of us will ever stand on Io. Sorry about that. Please, stave off your tears - I can't bear the thought of your keyboard shorting out. But it's not as if you could take in a lungful of Io's finest fumes - Io has woefully little atmospheric pressure. If you were to pop off the helmet of your spacesuit, Io's atmosphere would suck the air out of you instead of you sucking the air out of Io. And then, for a grand finale, Io would make your head explode because the pressure inside your body would be far greater than the pressure outside. Jupiter's moons tend to act that way - they forget proper etiquette because they have visitors so infrequently.

Damn the moons of Jupiter!

I don't do drugs. Test my urine all you want. Drink it, for all I care, but wait for me to leave the room and don't ever tell me about it.

So here I am, or was, with this mouth of mine smelling like Io with an atmosphere and a particularly violent eruption. I brush and floss, then rinse with BreathRx. Wonderful stuff, and alcohol-free, too! BreathRx will keep my breath fresh all day, even if I drink a coffee beverage or two, but not 6 or 7. I was going to link to their website, but I refuse to link to a site when it's down. Ha! Fine, no free advertising - that'll show them! You have to buy BreathRx from your dentist, so you're not missing anything, anyway. Oh, all right... fine!

I derived no pleasure from that, I'll have you know. Pay close attention to the part about "creating a significant new profit center for your practice." Well, I guess dentists have every right to maintain a high standard of living, but when considering the significant new profit center I'm funding, I can't help wondering - is this the best interests of the patient or the best interests of business? *shrug* It is only mouthwash. I don't want to ponder the evils of the mouthwash industry right now. I want to get some sleep.

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/11/2001 @ 02:34 :: [link] ::
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Deconstructing Zehnder and Zehnderisms #1

The situation:
On Friday you go to work, then follow it up with MBA classes from 5:30 - 10:00 that night. On Saturday, you're in class again from 8:00 in the morning until 5:00 that afternoon.

Question:
It's 2:00 Saturday afternoon. Having just eaten lunch, your belly is sated and your mind is soooo very relaxed. Uh-oh, you're in trouble, and with three hours to go, how are you going to make it?

Answer:
Salvation comes in the form of Thomas Zehnder, ABD (All But Dissertation - no joke), a man in his mid to late 50s whose character and presentation are as rough around the edges as his voice, and that always makes for an interesting afternoon.

If you saw Tom Zehnder walking down the street, you'd think he had less than no sense of fashion at all, one of those few individuals with negative fashion sense who somehow managed to elude any trace of taste. But such is not the case; in the middle of his lecture, he comments on his large, white knit shirt. He says his wife asks him why he keeps wearing it, because you can see through it. He illustrates the point by stretching the shirt over his large belly - the man loves his beer - and says he wears it because he likes it and it reflects the sunlight. I was impressed. Not only was he a Zen philosopher, he was fully aware of his bad fashion and didn't care. The difference between Tom Zehnder and others with "bad" fashion is they're oblivious to it or think it looks good, like teenagers who wear bell-bottoms. But Zehnder knows it looks bad and doesn’t let it deter him. He's above it. Now, that's style!

There’s no doubt Tom Zehnder is a hit with his economics students. His off the wall comments and examples never fail to take his audience by surprise, and his demeanor is so dry he never misses a beat by laughing at his own jokes. His wit is quick and plentiful. He replaces the lecture notes on the overhead projector with a copy of his county tax bill and says he doesn't mind paying local taxes for the fire department because he's drinks beer with the St. Matthew’s firemen over at BW3's; he wouldn't want to put the firemen out of a job because they buy his beer sometimes, so he wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that. The largest line item by far is for school tax - "Jefferson County Public Schools," the bill states. "Jefferson County FREE Public Schools," he corrects, using the school system's official name. He's all for the public school system - "our society would collapse without it, but don’t say it’s free," he concludes, "because it's not."

One trait of Zehnder's body language quickly caught my attention. His eyes spent more time closed than open. I’m familiar with that tactic. The guy is terrified talking in front of people, I realized. Strange for a high school teacher turned college professor, and you’d never know it, he hides it so well. His other tactic is to make them laugh - works every time.

We have him in lecture three more times, and I plan to post Zehnderisms from each lecture. Before this week’s quotes, however, it might help to have an idea what he sounds like. I don’t tape lectures, but Tom Zehnder’s voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Tom Waits’. Here’s an excerpt of Tom Waits singing his cult classic, "The Piano Has Been Drinking:" piano_zehnder.mp3 (1 minute 6 seconds, 130 KB).

Zehnderisms #1:

  • On angina: "I got liquored up and jumped around a bit."
  • On a cancer study linking cranberry juice to bladder cancer: "Fifty gallons of cranberry juice a day would grow cancer on a billiard ball."
  • On college: "Everyday is Derby Day when you go to U of K."

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/10/2001 @ 00:55 :: [link] ::
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Just You Wait

One of the books I'm currently reading is a collection of stories well known to countless other bloggers - I've seen it touted and raved on the sites of 15 to 20 others - Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (complete with obligatory Amazon link). You pay $9 at Amazon plus $4.50 or so for shipping and handling. In the endgame, you save about $1.50 by waiting 4 days and having the willpower to resist walking into Barnes and Noble's and having it in your hot hands the same day, you tart little pickle, you! And don't you know Amazon needs it, too - the stock dropped, nay, plummeted as much as 20% today, closing 10% down. Recession be damned - I'd say they're safely undervalued at tonight's after-market price of $7.75. The company spokeman is indeed valiant as he licks the corporation's wounds and attempts to play down the agony of the sting: "We never try to divine why the stock is up or down, and just keep our focus on serving our customers." Whatever, buddy - I'm sure that wasn't your tune 24 months ago! It hurt like a mo-fo and you know it! And if it didn't, you have no business being in business.

But back to David Sedaris, whom I know for a fact doesn't give a flying fortress about the stock market. I recently read "You Can't Kill the Rooster," one of the stories in Me Talk Pretty One Day. Vulgar humor turns me on like a $2 peep show, and that's not vulgar in the "common" sense, but vulgar in the "crudely indecent" sense. David Sedaris is always a malcontent, but rarely vulgar, except when describing his brother (the "Rooster") as he did in this story. I was laughing so hard it hurt, and rolling on the floor until I banged my head into the wall, which really hurt and finally took the wind out of me. If you've ever heard David Sedaris on This American Life, you know his only gift greater than his ability to write a story is his ability to tell it out loud, so I got on LimeWire and started searching for the MP3. GnuTella - it'll never fail ya.

Take the time to listen to the sound bytes - they're small and download quickly, even for you modem-restrained folks. If you listen to these MP3's and buy the book, you're furthering the great MP3 cause.

I love this one for its sheer one-liner shock value - it certainly strikes a chord with me, which is to say I can identify, and it was the first punchline in this story to knock me out of the chair and into the floor laughing. I think I'll make it my new motto and use it as a response whenever someone asks the cliché question, "How are you?" stones.mp3 (22KB, 11 sec)

Despite his rough edges, David Sedaris' brother is remarkably "no nonsense:" youhaveapoint.mp3 (86 KB, 43 sec)

David Sedaris has a quick wit that never fails to take you by surprise; always the unexpected: twoblackeyes.mp3 (181 KB, 1 min 32 sec)

His stories frequently end with a thoughtful reflection or expose a sensitive and vulnerable side of a character, revealing a profound truth of what it is be human. In "You Can't Kill the Rooster," it was the final thought that drove the story home and made it strike a deeper chord in me, which is precisely the reason why David Sedaris is so gifted - his stories resonate deep within you. This summer has been a difficult one, and I had to toughen up and straighten myself out before I was done grieving, before I was ready - an aggressive schedule is never easy. I can't help wondering if everything I've done to keep my schedule booked and stay busy isn't partly an attempt to escape or avoid deeper issues. Perhaps what I need most is someone to bring a "bucket" over and give some reassurance... bucket.mp3 (96KB, 49 sec).

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/05/2001 @ 23:32 :: [link] ::
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The New Star Trek Series: Enterprise

Q: How much network television have I watched this summer?
(Hint: I'm a mild-tempered Star Trek fan, and just found out about Enterprise tonight)

A: Six Feet Under, Understanding, Sex and the City, Junkyard Wars, Shades of Gray. What... there're how many other channels?

Corollary: I did know hear about it before, BUT THE DRUGS SCRAMBLED MY EGGS, MAN! Sure, it's possible.

Heard in the 60-second promo video: "You might think about recommending seatbelts when we get home."

*Groan* I wouldn't be surprised if there was a canned laugh track, too. Maybe that's why I haven't heard much about it. Say it ain't so, Star Trek, say it ain't so! Even you have been infected with the mind-numbingly uncreative corny jokes of American television, you last stalwart bastion of imagination, you! What would Gene say?

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/05/2001 @ 04:03 :: [link] ::
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Blogger API

I reset the cable modem and read the Blogger API spec, and it does have a method for editing posts (there are only five methods in all); however, I didn't see methods to retrieve post IDs or contents. Looks like you'd have to supply the post ID and the existing content (or simply rewrite the post from scratch), both of which could be pulled from the weblog itself.

They're hip and happenin' - when the 10,000 other fires needing attention are put out, they'll probably look into it.

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/05/2001 @ 02:41 :: [link] ::
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blogBuddy Test Post

This was posted from blogBuddy... sure, why not? Blogger is becoming increasingly popular and the web frontend will inevitably experience bouts of occasional slowness, so why not help out by using a blog client? If you really wanted to help out, though, you'd donate 'til it hurt.

A client also prevents the sinking feeling you get after typing a long entry and clicking "Post" only to discover Blogger's web session has timed out and it's the one time you forgot to select the text and copy it into a text editor. DOH! Somewhere between taking my sweet time and spending two hours on an entry, the cable modem's connection cutting in and out, the wireless network in my condo and WebWasher, I get those expired sessions on a regular basis. Trust me, it only takes once: lose an extremely long post, and you'll never forget to CTRL-A, CTRL-C and CTRL-V into Notepad before posting again. I've met with varied success using refresh or back to retrieve a lost entry.

My lesson to remember came when posting the Linux box eulogy. It's a long post. After retyping the second half of the post, you could say my memory was put to the test. When I couldn't retrieve the entry in the browser window, I grepped the cache. Amazingly, the first half was there, down to where I had installed Linux and was dual-booting to Win 3.11. I felt lucky to even get that much. Like I said, it only takes once.

Two features would make the Blogger clients I've seen equivalent to the web client. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not whining, just musing; anyone is free to make a difference whenever they wish - the source is freely available on SourceForge. First, a save function for "entries in progress," but Notepad can do the trick, so, okay. Second thing may not be possible; I haven't read Blogger's XML-RPC API documentation to see the methods, although it's alpha phase and very, very caveat emptor. Each time the "Post" button is clicked, a new weblog entry is created since the clients know how to create new posts, but not edit existing posts. It would be most excellent if a client could retrieve existing entries and edit them, but as I said, the Blogger API may not provide the tags to retrieve existing entries yet, if it's even practical to do so. Maybe I should just read the spec, but alas, my cable modem has lost its signal.

I've become what I detest most - a pundit. Opinions are like arseholes - everybody has one.

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/05/2001 @ 01:58 :: [link] ::
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Noodles

We made noodles with Grandmother a couple weeks ago, and I promised pictures. This was more work than I originally anticipated. When predicting the amount of work required to do something, I have a tendency to underestimate time requirements. Friends and family who must wait on my eternally late arse know this about me all too well and dread it. Well, I hate it, too, but like them, I am powerless to do anything about it. It's just me, and I digress.

Running the pictures through Photoshop takes a while, and there are plenty of other things vying for my time - graduate school starts this weekend, there's always plenty to do at work, and sleep is such a waste of otherwise productive quiet time. And let me say this: no offense to certain family members, but my brother can't take pictures for sh*t, and I handed him a digital camera with an LCD display. WYSIWYG, for crying out loud, and half his pictures with human subjects are still missing half a head and an eye. I have pictures with anything from the knees to the upper lip of partially dismembered bodies with various exposure settings to work with, so cropping and tweaking brightness and contrast increases processing time (what a waste of code if this is all I'm doing with Photoshop, eh?). But I would never, never, ever blame my brother for my misfortunes, so I'll cut short the excuses and get on with the program.

As I said way back when, noodle-making was a German family tradition. We begin with the beginning: the most important thing when cooking (aside from good ingredients) is the recipe. We used the second recipe, which calls for whole eggs and a tablespoon of water as opposed to egg yolks and one-half cup of water. That's my grandmother's handwriting. Whenever I see it, there is immediate recognition and I am awash with pleasant childhood memories. I wouldn't expect most of you to have the same reaction, though, and for that, I'm sorry.

Pictures will follow the recipe from here on out. Noodles:


2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs - (hey, look... didn't break the yolks) - beat up a bit - (bummer, had to ruin my eggs)
1 tablespoon cold water

Make a well in the flour and salt - add eggs and water

Blend well - [1] | [2]

Knead well on floured board for 5 or 6 min using just enough flour to keep from sticking - [1] | [2] | [3] | [4] - As you can see in [1] and [2], I'm not quite getting the hang of it and seem to be afraid of getting my hands mucked up with dough. so Grandmother takes over for a minute in [3] and [4] to demonstrate proper technique, saying you have to work in some air to make the dough softer. To further illustrate the point, she invoked what she considered a risque simile, "You want to work out all the lumps so it's soft like a girl's you-know-what." Now, in my experience, I've noticed girls have several soft "you-know-whats," so I wasn't exactly sure to which "you-know-what" she was referring and had no desire to go there with my grandmother, so I assumed she meant the buttocks and let it go at that. Unfortunately, without this specific information, any response would have to be equally vague. I accepted the challenge...

"But Grandmother," I explained, "the you-know-whats of the girls my age are getting lumpy." After thoroughly kneading the dough, I demonstrate its velvety softness and offer my interpretation of the mysterious "you-know-what's" identity.

At this point, we broke away from the second recipe and followed the first. Let dough rest 30 min.

After "resting," make a semi-suggestive - ahem - "log" as shown and divide dough into 1/2's or 1/3's

Roll into paper thin rectangles. Dust lightly with flour - [1] | [2] | [3] | [4] | [5] - As you start rolling the dough, it will probably stick to the rolling pin as shown [1]. Take the easy route and sprinkle flour [2] to prevent sticking. You're not trying to prove a point here, this isn't a battle of the wills betwixt you and the dough; the dough is composed of unborn chickens and wheat germ ground into fine, white powder, both of which are suitably dead (unless you're baking bread with yeast culture, in which case you wouldn't roll it into a thin sheet), so as you're straining to shape the dough into a flat, rectangular sheet [3] so thin light can shine through [4], you may relax in the knowledge the dough is not consciously resisting you. The day we made noodles was my first experience working with dough, and I hadn't yet realized this universal truth. It was personal. Do not befall the same fate I did; do not submit to the whims of maniacal glee [5].

Let dry 1 hr

After drying, stretch the dough sheet a bit. Then dust with flour and proceed...

Roll up loosely. Cut into 1/4" strips - [1] | [2] | [3] | [4] | [5] - As my grandmother explained, roll it like you would a pastry roll [1]. She assumed I knew how to fold a pastry roll, so this analogy was lost on me. When cutting [2], fold your fingers so the knuckles steady the knife; it also keeps your fingertips out of harm's way. The resulting noodles will be neatly folded, and you may either unfold them into strips by hand as shown on the cutting board [3]; there's also the quick'n'easy way, simply tossing [4] the noodles to loosen and unfold them. However you choose to go about it, the final product [5] is the same. Allow the noodles to dry for one or more hours, then cook, freeze if storing for long periods or store in a canister for up to a couple days. These are homemade noodles, not the store-bought kind. They retain a lot of moisture and have no preservatives - a few days at room temperature in a closed container will demonstrate your homemade noodles are a veritable smorgasbord for zygomycetes.

Finally, keep in mind that above all else, the idea here is to have fun.


Watch for the next installment as we cook the noodles.

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/03/2001 @ 13:21 :: [link] ::
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Google Oogled Me

One day after registering funtongue.org, the GoogleBot came a'spidering through my old web page and indexed my weblog in its new home. Whew - just in the nick of time! Thank you, Blogger, for making it so easy.

And just because I'm all narcissistic like that, here's the query.

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/01/2001 @ 19:01 :: [link] ::
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Goodbye, Old Friend

Last night "sync ; sync ; halt" ran for the last time on my Linux box and I bid farewell to a trusted friend, tried and true. It's hostname was "win", for Witten Imperial Network, which is a story all its own, and not at all the subject of this post. If the Guinness and Star Wars and David Sedaris mp3's hold out, perhaps I'll get to it tonight. Perhaps, but I doubt it nearly as much as I doubt the sun will peter out before it rises again tomorrow or that you will win the lottery next week. That means it just ain't happening, get it?

Sherman, set the Way-Back Machine for February 1996. I was still in college five and a half years ago when I purchased my second personal computer. It had a Cyrix 586 120MHz CPU, 1.2GB hard drive and 24MB RAM, later upgraded to 48MB - this configuration positively kicked ass for early 1996. This was around the time of Windows 95's release, but I distrusted that pseudo 32-bit operating system and installed Windows 3.11. Dune II, Doom, X-Com UFO Defense, Wolfenstein, X-Wing and Tie Fighter -- these were the watchwords of my college education's gaming days. Oh, the hours squandered; oh, the tragedy - I could have been a Ph.D. by now!

The capabilities of Windows 3.11 would astound you. I had a shareware IRC server with a 20 user limit in the unlicensed version, and although limited, it was about twice the number of connections I ever used. I ran the most unstable telnet and moody SMTP servers ever coded. The FTP and web servers were the final touch, the cherry on the sundae of incredulity, the ultimate in what Microsoft Windows 3.x was never meant to be.

My super-charged Windows 3.11 server reached its peak in January 1997 when Dan Mercer, friend and Linux proponent, convinced me to install RedHat Linux 4 and dualboot with Windows 3.11. As Dan adroitly explained, there were so many servers running on it that I was functionally making it a Linux server, anyway, so why not dedicate my energies learning how to administrate them on a stable platform instead of spending so much time restarting Dr. Watson'ed processes and rebooting the system? And with the dualbooting, he added, I could learn Linux and switch back to Windows when I really needed to get something done and didn't know how to do it in Linux, although after a month or two, that would never happen.

He was right. It wasn't even a month - more like two or three weeks - before Linux ran for weeks on end without starting Windows, and what kept me dependent on Windows was figuring out how to setup that pesky XF86Config file, the bane of all Linux neophytes in the days before Linux distributions had extensive collections of X configuration files. The only way to experience that kind of pain today is to find an old, off-brand monitor and just for kicks, deny yourself the luxury of Xconfigurator. But why waste precious time you could be doing the things in life for which no allegorical Xconfigurator utilities exist?

~

But I'm digressing again, and this digression is so large it warrants a sectional tilde to make closure. I think it's been adequately illustrated how dear this Linux box was to me, so you can imagine my sense of loss today, five and a half years later.

Let us eulogize my departed friend...

You ran the 2.0.36 kernel local build #5 beyond my greatest expectations; how many times did you see 150 days of uptime only to be shutdown by a power outage or change in location? From hosting the Witten Imperial Network mailing list to teaching me the basics of system administration and C++ to providing rogue email and shell accounts for friends at college to taking down entire subnets to recompiling the kernel to running StarOffice when it was still owned by Germans to portscanning entire Class B's, you were the bomb, you ate that stuff for breakfast and weren't afraid to ask for more. When I came home from college for the holidays before I had a hub or a switch and spare NICs lying around, you had PLIP and made it possible to share a dialup Internet connection with another computer, long before in-home networks were cool. Later, when I was still using a dialup ISP and needed simultaneous Internet access on my 7 other computers, you were the best software-based firewall and NAT provider a geek could ever hope for in the days before Linksys Cable/DSL routers. You were the great Internet gateway 192.168.1.2, and even Windows 2000 Advanced Server on a mighty 1.5GHz CPU with half a gig of RAM deferred in respect to you and instructed DHCP clients to seek your sage advice as the gateway to the outside world.

It is because of you, and only you, dear friend, I am where I am today. Because of you, it was possible for me to switch from Biochemistry and a career in medicine to one in information technology and find my true calling. I am forever indebted to you, win. Thank you, and goodbye.


Perhaps some explanation of win's demise is in order. It had surpassed 125 days uptime yet again when a severe thunderstorm last week knocked out the power at my condo. The outage must have lasted longer than 15 minutes, because the UPS battery was drained and all my computers lost power. When I got home that night, everything had come back up, including win. I came home on August 30th and tried starting Samba to transfer some files to a Windows 2000 box, but the telnet connection had been dropped. Pings weren't being returned, either, so I connected a monitor to win's video card (even with 8 computers and 3 monitors, I still don't have a KVM switch - pcANYWHERE and Windows 2000 terminal services do all right for now) and put the console keyboard on my lap. Sometime during the week since the thunderstorm, win rebooted again and since it wasn't a proper shutdown, Linux ran 'fsck' on the root partition, which terminated with signal 11. This caused initd to panic the kernel, locking the system.

So this really is how it ends, is it?, I thought to myself. The system was five and a half years old, and I knew a catastrophic failure had to occur eventually - all things must end. For win, it was a hard drive failure in Linux's root partition, /dev/hda3, although it probably extended beyond this because 'df' reported the same arbitrary amount of available space on all partitions, which I knew wasn't right. Fortunately, Linux could boot with the filesystem in read-only mode and I was able to retrieve the minute amount of personal data on the server.

I ran a few commands to survey my beloved Linux box for the very last time and placed my hand lovingly on the side of the system unit, running my fingers over the "120" glowing green in the LED panel. I remembered configuring the jumpers to display the CPU speed was the first thing I did after lifting the system unit from its packing box and brushing off the styrofoam peanuts. I typed "sync ; sync ; halt" and whispered, "Goodbye, old friend." I pressed ENTER... "System halted"... and it was over.

Ironically, Thursday night while still at work before learning win's fate, I registered "funtongue.org" and signed up with a web hosting service that provides telnet/SSH access to the Linux servers hosting their customers, so it's like I lost one Linux box and gained another. Sure, I installed Mandrake 8 on a VAIO PictureBook, but it's a petite, little laptop - it's just not the same. There will never be another win.ml.org. Rest well, faithful friend.

:: Bryan Travis :: 09/01/2001 @ 12:12 :: [link] ::
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