- No anti-Santa gun this year. In years past, I've tried
everything up to and including a Shilka ZSU-23/4 with no luck. Nothing
tracks fast enough, and Santa's sleigh apparently has some pretty
serious ECM. I've tried everything else I can think of, including
reindeer nets, poisoned bait, and, one year, a surface-to-air missile.
No joy. Santa moves very fast, especially for an old guy. And, since my
quad .50 BMG with APIT blue-tips had no apparent effect on it, I
suspect that elderly-looking sleigh is actually a titanium bathtub,
like a Warthog.
My SEAL buddies tell me that one-on-one is the best way to do this. Lie
in wait, and pounce. For that, camouflage is important, so I'm
currently working on some ideas to help me fade into the background.
Santa will never know what hit him. Ho, ho, ho.
- Sometimes I really don't understand what Netflix is doing. As
of this morning, my queue showed three discs out. I'd returned two of
those on Friday and just put the third one out on the mailbox. I got
email from Netflix telling me they'd received one (not both) of the
discs I returned on Friday. I went over to look at my queue. Here it is:
So why, when they'd received only one disc back from me, did they add
two discs to the shipping queue? And what's the plus symbol beside the
fourth disc mean?
- Deadlines loom, and much remains undone. Don't expect much to
be posted here before the New Year.
- Although OpenOffice.org 2.0 is a lot better than Microsoft
Word for long documents, it's by no means perfect. As I was working on
a chapter yesterday, I copied and pasted a lot of material to the
working document. After that, each time I made even a small
change to the document, OOo began to flicker in
a 4-blink-pause-1-blink pattern, apparently as as a result of
repaginating the document or updating the screen. After five blinks,
it'd settle down and let me edit until the next time. That was bad
enough, but eventually it started to flicker constantly, even when I
hadn't changed anything. It just sat there flickering.
I spent some time searching the web, but couldn't find anything
pertinent. I also search OOo help, again with no luck. So I went into
the configuration options and increased the amount of memory allocated
to graphics. Still no joy. The material I'd copied into the document
had a lot of embedded images, so I decided to delete all of the images
I wasn't planning to re-use. That took a while, because OOo was jumping
all over the place. I'd click on an image to delete it, and OOo would
jump elsewhere in the document, sometimes a couple of screens away from
the image I'd selected. It was a struggle, but I eventually succeeded
in deleting 20 or so unneeded images, after which OOo stopped
There's obviously a serious bug that causes this behavior, but at least
OOo doesn't trash long documents, which MS Word is famous for doing.
Netflix is annoying me again. They shipped three discs in the first few
days of this month. After that, they started throttling. Of the seven
discs I've received so far this month and the three I'm currently owed,
all but four of them have been delayed a day or more in shipping. At
this point, I'll be surprised if I manage to make it up to 15 discs
- We've had our first winter weather of the season. We had some
sleet and freezing rain overnight, with more predicted for this
morning. Barbara, never willing to give in to weather, put her Trooper
into four-wheel drive and headed in to work this morning. Her boss has
farther to come, and called this morning to say he might be late or not
be able to make it in. Barbara's other co-worker also may not be able
to make it in, so Barbara may be working by herself today.
The dogs will have fun today, sliding around on the ice. It's fun to
watch them make what Barbara calls "snow paws". As soon as they get on
ice or snow, they spread their toes far apart to make their paws larger
and get more traction. Of course, the downside to that is that they end
up with ice between their toes and have to spend some time cleaning
them once they return indoors.
With two exceptions, all of the Saturnalia presents I ordered have now
arrived, so now I have to think about wrapping them.
- My Falcon Electric UPSs are driving me nuts this morning. We
didn't have much icing overnight, but apparently it was enough to
cause the electric power to fluctuate. Things will be fine for
half an hour or an hour, and then for several minutes all the UPSs are
beeping at me.
I'm tempted to turn off the warning beeps, but that wouldn't be a good
idea. I work in a darkened office with only one desk lamp, and that's
connected to an outlet strip that plugs into the UPS. If the power
really did fail, I might not know about it until the UPS batteries ran
- The icing yesterday was worse than I thought. At the peak,
there were about 140,000 homes and business without power in North
Carolina, mostly to the west and south of us. Winston-Salem was not
unscathed, though. There were fairly widespread power outages here,
including areas within half a mile of our home.
The TV weather weasels say that Winston-Salem had up to 3/4" (19mm) of
ice accumulation, which is more than enough to cause power outages.
Each time I walked the dogs yesterday, I heard the crack of breaking
branches. We were fortunate to have only some minor power glitches. Our
friend Mary Chervenak, who works at home, lost power yesterday morning
and didn't get it back until 10:00 p.m. last night. She lives less than
two miles from us.
Barbara is going to her firm's Christmas party tonight. This is the
first year that spouses and significant others have been invited. I
thought about going, but a law firm party at the country club really
isn't my cup of tea. I told Barbara I'd be happy to go if she wanted me
to, but otherwise I wouldn't. So I'll just work until she gets home
tonight. She left me a "Hungry Man" TV dinner in the freezer, so I'll
- Netflix has been behaving strangely lately. For example,
here's part of my queue.
The Duchess of Duke Street entry has been in my queue for a long time,
with availability jumping around from "Now" to "Short Wait" to "Long
Wait" to "Very Long Wait". Once or twice, Netflix has failed to ship
DoDS Disc 1 even when it was first in my queue and had availability
listed as "Now". Okay, I can deal with that. I'm a patient kind of guy.
But now they've done it again. Even though Buffy the Vampire
Slayer was at the top of my queue and showing as "Now", Netflix decided
to ship A History of Britain Disc 1, which was at #10 in my queue.
That's okay. If I didn't want to watch it, it wouldn't be in my queue.
But it still seems odd.
I wonder if the Netflix scheduling/shipping software is playing games
with me. "This guy's getting too many discs, so I'll yank his chain a
Netflix let me know of its displeasure with the number of discs I'm
getting by starting to throttle me very early this month. In return, to
show my displeasure with Netflix, I started sending discs back to them
one-per-envelope, which probably costs them more in postage, instead of
returning two discs in one envelope whenever possible.
If Netflix starts throttling me even more heavily, I may use a black
Magic Marker to color over the barcode at the bottom of the reply
envelope. I haven't checked the USPS site, but I suspect it charges
more for a reply envelope that isn't barcoded. Heh, heh, heh.
(For the record, I should say that I'm immensely pleased with Netflix's
service, and would recommend it to anyone. It's just that when someone
plays games with me, I play games back.)
- It's worse than I thought. According to this report,
there are still 328,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina without
power, and it may be several days before power is restored to all of
them. That's a million people, give or take, no matter how you look at
it, and the low temperatures these folks are expecting are well below
freezing. I'm glad we have the natural gas logs.
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All