Not joining clubs that would have me as a member or something.

I went to a ham radio club meeting tonight and it got me to think about club dynamics. Sometimes things go smoothly, but there’s often someone coming in and trying to change the power structure. They want more power, sometimes without knowing why they want it. I can describe a lot of things using the “club model,” including Open Source programming projects and politics.

I don’t know how this got me to think about this odd “Ivy League Plus” mailing list I bailed out of. They even have a disclaimer and refused to start the list until their lawyers looked over the disclaimer. I left after seeing too many people chastised for asking innocent questions. The final straw for me was when the list queen slapped some people down who wanted to meet to discuss politics. She demanded that the list not be used to make political statements, even when no one had made any statement other than what Chinese restaurant they were going to meet in. Come on. What a control freak.

Of course, when I left, I made a comment about how I, “enjoyed watching yuppies in their natural habitat, a list made by lawyers for lawyers,” and that really cheesed the yuppies off.

I didn’t think anything about the Ivy league freaks until I got an email from a guy who got kicked off the list. Someone asked for “Humane Rat Catchers” and he replied that rats usually got poison (describing the actions of Warfarin in less detail than my biochemistry teacher) and then described prairie dog hunting. Come on. Everyone west of the Mississippi knows about prairie dog hunting, don’t they? They kicked him off for being intolerant and disrespectful.

I’ve come to find that the guy who got kicked off the list is the President of a large, visible local company (and possibly a bit of a redneck). How can you live in Oregon without tolerating rednecks?

Geek post: AxKit is kicking my ass.

So I volunteered to try AxKit, and XML to web framework, for the Fink Project. I’ve now spent four weeks trying to get it to work. Here’s what I think I’ve figured out about installing AxKit:

On RH9 or Fedora:

  • Don’t use apache2. Use apache1. That means install from source, and install mod_perl first.
    1. extract the extract the “apache source”
    2. extract the mod_perl source
    3. configure mod_perl with: “perl Makefile.PL APACHE_SRC=../apache_1.3.29/src DO_HTTPD=1 USE_APACI=1 EVERYTHING=1”
    4. in mod_perl, do a “make && make test && make install”
    5. cd to ../apache_1.3.29 and do a “make install”
  • install Apache-Test by hand
  • install Apache-Request by hand
  • install the JavaScript binary
  • install Sablotron and Sablotron-devel binaries. This does not build well, from what I’ve found.
  • install XML-Sablotron from source.
  • install libghttp (and probably libghttp-devel) from your RH install media
  • start cpan (perl -MCPAN -e shell) and install:
  • Time::Piece
  • AxKit
  • AxKit::XSP::Util

On FreeBSD

AxKit can also be installed quite easily on FreeBSD 4.9 using the ports system IF YOU UPDATE FIRST However, it doesn’t seem to work well after it installs.

And that sums up a lot of what I’ve been doing for the past several weeks.

BTW, CPAN sucks, mainly because there’s a series of dependencies that can’t be resolved automatically when everyone is changing their packages all the time.

I’ve also found that the Compaq Presario 5360 is a horrible POS.

RedHat Fedora won’t install properly with CDs because of disk errors. I had to do a “linux net” boot from an http server using install floppies.

NetBSD and FreeBSD boot floppies don’t work, either. I had to move the hard drive to another computer to install FreeBSD.

Why do my knees hurt after only 6 miles?

Today was the first day of the fall where I had to run in the rain. Actually, it stopped after 10 minutes, so it was mainly the splashing through the leaves that was different. It could have been worse, the wind was blowing rain into my face for the first couple of minutes and I had to run with my hat pulled low, staring at the ground. The worst part is that my knees have started to hurt again. I changed to running a hilly gravel road instead of flat concrete. That’s probably it.

For some reason, I think there was something I was supposed to do today, that I didn’t. I finished most of my errands and spent a lot of time trying to load FreeBSD onto a horrible Compaq I got from a friend. I still haven’t succeeded and it’s time for bed.

Well, at least I sort of enjoy doing this. I spent $8 on Sunday to get into the Woodworking show, and I found that I had very little interest in the gadgets they were trying to sell. Drill bits that can drill through files? Who needs a holey file? Super straight cutting blades? If I replaced my blade every few cuts, my cuts would be straight as well. Wonder squeegee? Well, buddy, you’re cleaning and re-cleaning a brand new pane of glass.

At least it was worth hanging out with my friends at the show.

Woo! Megan’s benefit was a blast!

I should have taken pictures. It was the “Bald for the Boob Benefit” for Megan at the White Eagle Tavern. Megan’s brother and mom got their heads shaved, Dale (a regular at the pub) shaved his beard for the first time in 30 years, and lots of friends were shorn as well.

Megan and her mom look fabulous, and Megan’s mom isn’t bothered at all about the lack of hair. The next day, at the McMenamin’s Tavern where Megan’s brother Craig works, a guy from George Morlan Plumbing donated $100 on the stipulation that Craig cut off his soul patch.

Craig, Megan, and their mom look quite alike. The biggest difference is that Craig has a giant melon and it frightens me.

Megan’s friends Marcie and Michelle came up with her from the Bay Area. The lovely Marcie takes care of Megan when the chemo has her down. It was fun to see them all again.

And, I suppose that’s all I can think of for now. I spent the whole day trying to get AxKit installed on a web server. Oh, how I hate it. I’m writing down notes so I can post them if I ever get it working.

So who else thinks speed dating is a bad idea?

I was supposed to go to a “speed dating” party today, but some of my old classmates from Portland State convinced me it it wasn’t a great idea. At best I’m not sure I can make a good impression in only a couple of minutes. At worst I could get more repeated rejections than I can handle.

Well, I suppose I’m a little tired from helping at the 2003 ACM Pacific Northwest Regional Programming Contest. It was enlightening seeing all the whining. Not from the teams, either, but from the coaches. I hope the link to the scores still works. You can also try this.

No one was willing to host the contest this year, so Jason Wilcox from Portland State arranged everything in a month and a half. Unfortunately, the largest computer lab at Portland State is nowhere close to a large classroom, and the contest needs a meeting area as well as access to computers. So the classrooms were in a different building than the lab.

I’m not sure if the coach from a state school was joking, but I’m not a big fan of their athletic programs, so I’m willing to think he was just a whiner. “Do you think they had to walk in the rain in Fresno?” If they were outside I’m pretty sure they did. The contestants ended up holding their group discussions in the hallway. Anyway, if it’s not good enough for the coach, he can host the contest at his school.

The worst loon was a coach from a local private school. I don’t want to go into excruciating detail, but the leading team was from University of British Columbia and were German exchange students. The lunatic coach ranted, “In Germany, you have to take a test to stay in high school or to go on, if you’re not good enough, you’re out. … Here, any drug dealer can get into college.” He really didn’t appreciate my comment that MIT and Caltech are highly rated (deservedly) in both undergraduate and graduate education, and if they didn’t win International Computer competitions, it probably meant the competitions don’t mean all that much. He also seemed to think the big competitive power came from Taiwan and Russia and I don’t see those countries at the forefront of Computer Science. Before I left, he spent some time bad-mouthing Portland State.

Oh, well. I’m not sure I agree, but as they say, “It takes all kinds.”

So what did I get out of this?

  • A chance to help a friend out.
  • A t-shirt that’s too large for me.
  • Some IBM swag.
  • 2 1/2 hours of work on Friday, and 9 1/2 hours of work on Saturday, all unpaid.
  • Some ranting from crazy college professors.

All in all, just another day in my life.

The paperchase.

Today I picked up my diploma from Portland State University for my Master of Science in Computer Science.

It looks like the diploma sizes have changed. Previously, the diplomas at Portland State University were smaller:

I don’t know if the sizes make a difference, but my MIT diploma was significantly larger and cost a lot more.

My high school diploma was the smallest of the bunch.

The geek in me wants a table:

Degree Date Size
MIT BSEE 6/2/1986 11.25″
Portland State MSCS 8/16/2003 10″
Portland State BS Chemistry 3/18/1995 8″
Portland State BA English 8/12/1995 8″
Benson Polytechnic HS 6/5/1982 7″

All that and no life, making blog tables on a Friday night.

Well, at least my grandmother seems happy.

My mother let me know that my grandmother hasn’t asked about her once, even after my mother visited her in Japan. But she did request a large ebi sushi.

She still enjoys eating though she mainly sleeps, and worries about her bowel movements. I’m glad at 98 and ailing she still has something that makes her happy.

What are you doing here?

I’ve been waiting two weeks for my doctor’s appointment. It was a “new patient” visit since my old doctor had left. (She left the practice about a year ago to spend more time with her kids.) So I had to figure out what to tell my doctor about my medical condition in the past year and I made a list.

I just feel like I’m falling apart lately, but these are the big points I wanted to ask him about:

  • my left ear sounds squishy when I chew
  • I have an odd rash on my left arm that made my arm scaly
  • I have odd sharp pains when I’m running
  • My floaters in my left eye are getting worse

Well, the floaters are really something I need to talk to an ophthalmologist about and the sharp pains are chronic and transient and seemed to annoy the doctor. In fact, he asked me, “What are you doing here?” And the squishy ear and rash? Basically he said if I wait the problems will resolve themselves.

Actually, he spent a lot of the time telling me that he couldn’t believe someone with an Electrical Engineering degree from MIT couldn’t get into Medical School.

Well, pal, you’re looking at him.

What a letdown.

How to extort money from Portland Audubon.

The rumor is that the Portland Public Schools extorted tens of thousands of dollars from Portland Audubon for the chimney “upgrade” to Chapman Elementary school.

Tens of thousands of Vaux Swifts rest in the chimney on their migration south. From the end of August to sometime in September, the swifts circle the chimney and swirl in a vortex before they enter the chimney. And thousands of bird lovers congregate on the hillside to watch the birds.

Audubon paid to have a natural gas furnace and the small exhaust chimney installed so the large chimney could be left for “the birds.”

Now for the rumor:

The school district blackmailed Portland Audubon into coughing up more money. Portland Audubon was told that the chimney was going to be completely demolished unless $60,000 was paid for seismic upgrades. In the end, $20,000 was paid to leave the chimney up and to have the “S&M collar” installed.

It’s probably the ugliest reinforcement method I’ve ever seen.

I wish my fuse wasn’t so short.

I got into a bit of an argument with a “gentleman” who was driving down the street. As I was crossing the street, he must have been asleep, because I saw him a block away and instead of slowing down he decided to hit his horn. When he slowed to yell at me, I got upset. This led him to pull over and we had a little discussion.

Among his complaints, he said:

  • I came out of nowhere
  • in the middle of the block
  • wearing dark clothes at night.

Which doesn’t seem quite accurate, since:

  • I saw him coming from a ways off,
  • was crossing the street at an intersection, and
  • was wearing a bright red polar fleece coat.

OK, so the coat is something my friend got for me in China, and is probably imitation polar fleece. The shell said “North Face Goretex” and leaked like a sieve, so I’m guessing that this liner isn’t really what it says, either.

Nevertheless, I don’t think “bright red” is a “dark” color.

None of this is probably a matter for the police, though I did try to call when I thought the driver was menacing me. 911 put me on hold, so I just hung up.

Geek entry: more AxKit madness.

Installing AxKit is a big pain in the you-know-where. I think it’s one of those “we build it on leenoox, you should too” projects. Feh. I don’t have any leenoox boxes in the house. So, here’s the problems I’ve found THIS WEEK:

  • AxKit requires Apache::Request.
  • The Apache::Request perl module requires mod_perl < 1.99.
  • mod_perl < 1.99 requires Apache1 (not Apache2).
  • Apache1 requires libtool 1.5.
  • Getting libtool 1.5 requires CVS.
  • Building the cvs version of libtool 1.5 requires automake, and autoconf.

And I’m still in the middle of all of that.

My sister’s last day in P-town.

It’s my sister’s last day here, so she was trying to fit in a lot of crap into one day.

  • First she made a quick trip to the yarn store “Lint” with Mrs. Harris,
  • then a trip downtown to Nordstrom’s, Moonstruck Chocolatier, and Kitchen Kaboodle with the Slabs,
  • then dinner with family friends at the Japanese restaurant “Ikenohana,”
  • and finally dessert with her friend Wendy.

Unfortunately, she got a migraine headache just before dinner and had to sleep in the car instead of eating. Her dessert trip was also canceled.

After we got home, my father wandered around the house aimlessly, threatening to wake my sister to see if she was OK. So instead of going to my friend Darrell’s final birthday party (he’s decided that 29 is old enough) I had to stay home and run interference.

I hope she’s feeling better since she’s on a plane back for home tomorrow.

I guess my grandmother in Japan is now bedridden and has some form of inoperable cancer. Surgery is mainly not an option because she’s 98. Last year at this time, she was still taking care of her garden, even though she lost her sight years ago.

Now she doesn’t worry about much, but does still make requests for what she wants to eat. It doesn’t matter to my grandmother who comes or goes. She didn’t ask about my aunt, when my mother took over the caretaking duties for the two weeks she was there. But my grandmother still had food requests. I’m happy she still has something to look forward to.

I’m the last unmarried grandchild and it looks like that won’t change.

Some people don't believe my luck.

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