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Help Needed [Jan. 1st, 2009|08:37 pm]
The Wild Colonial Boy
[mood |confusedconfused]

The Wonderbunny got a Sansa Fuze mp3 player for Christmas. I loaded her up with songs, and they all show up and play just fine. Then I ripped a couple of books on CD into Windows Media Player and loaded them onto her Fuze. When I look at the device memory in Media Player, the audiobooks show up. When I look at the device in Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer; the XP equivalent of the old File Manager) I see the audiobook files. The audiobook files look and play fine when downloaded onto my own Sansa E260 player.

But, for some reason, I cannot play the files, nor even find them, when I try to play them on the devcice itself. Scrolling through the playlists, it's like they're not even on the device. But they ARE; I can see them.

Tech geniuses: any ideas?
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(no subject) [Nov. 4th, 2008|10:18 pm]
The Wild Colonial Boy
[Tags|]
[Current Location |Home]
[mood |depresseddepressed]
[music |"The Internationale"]

So - based largely on the deplorable record of a Republican who was not a conservative, a Democrat becomes President while running on a slogan of "change" - while not proposing one single new idea that hasn't been hashed and rehashed by liberal Dems since FDR. Not one.

Seriously, is the American electorate just so enamored of style over substance that we are only listening to the buzzwords and not to the details? The "change" candidate has spent his entire brief political career doing absolutely nothing productive in any real sense - he has never created a job, never run a business, never paid anyone a wage, never increased GNP by a nickel. His entire adult life has been spent preparing to become a left-wing Democratic presidential candidate.

FWIW, I don't think McCain is much better, and I voted for Bob Barr. In Minnesota, that has roughly the same impact as writing myself in. McCain has spent his entire life living off tax dollars also, and a man's ability to withstand torture do make him a hero but do not necessarily make him a good presidential choice. He differs from Obama only in the extent to which and on the issues on which he is willing to use the power of the government to control our lives. Some of those tend to be my hot-button issues; we could count on Clinton to waffle and triangulate when the opposition got spirited but he had no principles. I suspect Obama won't work that way when it comes to 2d Amendment issues, economics, and the like. If the race had been close in MN I might have held my nose and voted for McCain (or maybe not - I was pretty fed up with both of them by the end).

Wake-up call to my friends who voted for Obama: There is nothing "new" in this "change." There never has been. Bush is easy to hate, but that doesn't excuse us from the responsibility to look at the alternatives. If you can look at Obama's policy proposals (what little substance there is of them) and agree with them - then by all means, vote Obama. But if you're just caught up in the whole "change" cant, then you should be ashamed. If you believe that Obama represents a change from W, you may be right - but if you believe he really represents a fundamentally different approach to American politics, you're delusional.
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(no subject) [Jun. 27th, 2008|09:37 pm]
The Wild Colonial Boy
[Tags|, ]
[Current Location |Home]
[mood |crankycranky]

I might have done this before, but for Molly I'll do it again. :) H/T to mollyringle. (Who makes up these lists, anyway?)

Sayeth the meme...

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. I've read 63 of them, going by this list anyway.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read, and/or hated.
5) Reprint this list in your own LJ.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible - God, et. al. (I've read all of it, like some of it, and hate some of it.)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (Read some, but not all.)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (This is the first volume of #33.)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres (The book title is just "Corelli's Mandolin." The movie, which wasn't as bad as it could have been but is nowhere near as good as the book, added the "Captain.")
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (Brown is such a piss-poor writer that I am still stunned that anyone can list this miserable piece of hyena shit on a list of "great literature." If I owned a copy, I would burn it to prevent its being read by innocent bystanders. It is a bloody literary crime.)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Meh - overrated.)
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (This book is like having your head pushed slowly through a tub of Silly Putty.)
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson (Bryson is a great writer but don't ever get an audio book where he reads his own stuff. He has a petulant, whiny voice with a faux English accent that makes me wish to disembowel him slowly.)
75 Ulysses - James Joyce (This is a classic case of Naked Emperor Syndrome. My idea of hell would be a comfortable armchair, a cold Bass ale, a footstool, and a bookshelf full of nothing but Joyce and William Fucking Faulkner.)
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (Like his namesake, Toole would be a mere footnote in history had he not died young and tragically. This is not a terrible book, but it is a deeply banal and stupid one.)
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
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Tagged!: Memeing when I should be sleeping [Apr. 17th, 2008|11:35 pm]
The Wild Colonial Boy
Tagged by g33kgoddess:

The rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book (at least 123 pages).
2. Turn to page 123.
3. Find the 5th sentence
4. Post the 5th sentence on your blog.
5. Tag 5 people.

Not long after that, Secretary of War Cameron inserted in his annual report a flat statement that the government had the right to turn slaves into soldiers and would exercise that right whenever it needed to do so.

Bruce Catton, Terrible Swift Sword: The Centennial History of the Civil War, Volume Two (Doubleday and Co., New York: 1963)

Tagged (not necessarily the usual suspects):

missbabyblue
jatg
christys
amagdalyn
msmichelle
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Writer's Block: No Laughing Matter [Mar. 29th, 2008|09:29 pm]
The Wild Colonial Boy
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What do you think is too serious to joke about?


Not a whole lot. I tend to joke according to the ability of my listener to laugh with me; however, I have been known to misread that and have had witty lines backfire on me.

There are things I will not joke about, because I don't think they're funny - racial "jokes" which are really thinly-disguised slurs, for example, and most scatological "humor," which simply doesn't amuse me. There are lots of good jokes about sex, but there are some really disgusting and tasteless ones that I don't find funny.

I think, however, that the whole question "What do I find funny, and what not?" is different than "What do I find too serious to joke about?" The answer to the latter is, "Nothing, really."
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OK, I've chilled a little bit now. [Mar. 4th, 2008|11:07 pm]
The Wild Colonial Boy
[Current Location |Home]
[mood |relievedrelieved]

The Moose, #2 Son, got in a nasty accident with our large Ford Expedition this evening. His mom, little brother, and two little sisters were in the vehicle with him. He only has his learner's permit.

He was turning left coming through an intersection when the light turned yellow, and an oncoming car was apparently turning right - Moose thought the other guy was stopped, but he must have gunned it to make it, and his driver's side front hit our passenger's side front pretty hard. He basically smashed in our bumper and quarter panel and broke the tire, wheel, and front suspension clean off. When I finally got back from work and went down to the towing company yard to retrieve my (locked and secured) handgun from the vehicle, it didn't look good, but it remains to be seen whether or not it's fixable. Moose was pretty shaken and the little ones were hysterical, but everyone had calmed down by the time we got home with a large bag of McDonald's cheeseburgers and - thank God - no one was seriously hurt in our car or in the other, a much smaller vehicle also driven by a teenager.

The police officer must have decided that there was enough misery to spread evenly, because he decided not to ticket either boy.

Losing a family member like that is one of my biggest fears. My heart almost stopped when my cell phone rang and it was the Wonderbunny shouting something about having totaled the Expedition.
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Gygax, Arneson, MAR Barker, and early gaming [Mar. 4th, 2008|10:30 pm]
The Wild Colonial Boy
[Current Location |Home]
[mood |nostalgicnostalgic]
[music |"Please Come to Boston," Dave Loggins]

I was going to mention something about the death of Gary Gygax, but everyone and his/her brother has already done so, and theferrett has even supplied a list of one-liners for use in commemorating the event. Nothing further need be said, I suppose.

But I will anyway. When I was in high school in the early '80s, and deeply into Dungeons and Dragons, they used to hold a gaming convention in the Minneapolis area - once it was somewhere downtown, a few times it was at the Earle Brown Center in Brooklyn Center. At any rate, it had a pretty good showing, all of it geared toward paper-and-dice gamers of one sort or another. There were numerous D&D games, full-scale miniature battles in historical or fantasy milieus, a decent marketplace where you could get nice crystal-type dice, D&D manuals, and so on - remember that in 1981, this stuff was not readily available on the (nonexistent) Internet, nor were there gaming shops all over the place where you could pick up cool stuff easily. I remember one year spending pretty much the entire weekend playing the artillery commander of a Byzantine army besieging some kind of castle.

But I digress. Some of the bright lights of Minnesota gaming, to the extent that's not an oxymoron, used to show up - folks like M.A.R. "Phil" Barker, creator of Tekumel and the Empire of the Petal Throne, and of course, Gary Gygax's former partner in creating Dungeons and Dragons, Dave Arneson. Although I never knew the details, and I never believed anyone who claimed to know the details (the court settlement forbade either Gygax or Arneson from discussing the terms), I still always kinda thought Dave got screwed, when you get right down to where the bear pooped in the buckwheat.

Anyhow, I played under Arneson in his famous campaign milieu Blackmoor, at a couple of MinnCons in the '80s. I later re-encountered Arneson at a Fort Snelling Civil War event in the late '90s, where he interviewed me and a number of another Minnesota CW reenactors for a project he was doing for the US Civil War Center at Louisiana State University. Dave is a longtime CW buff and an early member of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, Inc., a reenactment group dedicated to the memory of the original 1st Regiment of Minnesota Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War.

I also once had a chance to join a regular, weekly campaign group playing in the Tekumel world under MAR "Phil" Barker himself, at his home in Minneapolis, but I passed it up on the grounds that I was pretty busy with family and job and couldn't afford to get back into the gaming addiction and commit to an every-week game. I regret that, a little, although I think I made the right decision. Phil Barker is an interesting guy.
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Away From The Roll Of The Sea - Alexander MacGillivray [Mar. 3rd, 2008|09:25 pm]
The Wild Colonial Boy
[Current Location |Home]
[mood |calmcalm]

This song brings me peace. (I'm not happy with the awkward rhyme in the second verse, but I'll let it slide.)

Small craft in a harbour that's still and serene,
Give no indication what their ways have been;
They rock at their moorings all nestled in dreams,
Away from the roll of the sea.

Their stern lines are groaning a lullaby air,
A ghost in the cuddy, a gull on the spar;
But never they whisper of journeys afar,
Away from the roll of the sea.

Oh, had they the tongues for to speak,
What tales of adventure they'd weave;
But now they are anchored to sleep,
And slumber alee.

Come fair winds to wake them tomorrow, we pray,
Come harvest a-plenty to them ev'ry day;
Till guided by harbour lights they're home to stay,
Away from the roll of the sea.
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Homeopathy and stuff and nonsense [Mar. 3rd, 2008|07:41 pm]
The Wild Colonial Boy
[Current Location |Home]
[mood |cynicalcynical]
[music |Some stupid game show]

These days it seems that it's become trendy to call any non-traditional medicine "homeopathic," including things like herbal teas and remedies, natural concentrates and oils, and so on. I suppose this is because of the number of people pushing homeopathy as an alternative to modern pharmaceutically-oriented medicine. I have no problem with herbal, natural, and traditional remedies per se, and I use several and believe that many of them work as well as or better than anything Glaxo-Smith-Kline has come up with. However, I have a strong aversion to the word "homeopathy," not because of what it has come to mean, but because of what it originally represented - pseudo-scientific bullshit of the purest ray serene.

The basis of homeopathy is the dilution. There are many ways to do this, but one of the earliest and still a popular potency scale used in traditional homeopathy is the "C scale", diluting the substance 1 part in 100 of some fluid, usually water or alcohol, at each stage. Thus, a 2C formula requires the substance to be diluted 1:100, then some of that diluted solution is diluted 1:100. This works out to a 1:10,000 dilution of the original solution (1 in 100x100). A 6C dilution repeats the process six times, ending up with one part in 1,000,000,000,000 (one in one trillion, 100x100x100x100x100x100, or 10 to the 7th power) Other dilutions follow the same pattern. In homeopathy, a solution is described as higher potency the more dilute it is. Say what? The less of the useful substance, the more useful it is?

Samuel Hahnemann, the "father of homeopathy," advocated 30C dilutions for most medicines (a dilution by a factor of 10 to the 60th power) and a common homeopathic treatment for the flu is a **200C** dilution of duck liver. Per Wikipedia, where people with lots of time on their hands spend it doing comparisons like these,

"Comparing these levels of dilution to the number of molecules present in the initial solution, a 12C solution contains on average only about one molecule of the original substance. The chances of a single molecule of the original substance remaining in a 15C dilution would be roughly 1 in 2 million, and less than one in a billion billion billion billion (10 to the 36th) for a 30C solution. For a perspective on these numbers, there are in the order of 10 to the 32d molecules of water in an Olympic size swimming pool and if such a pool were filled with a 15C homeopathic remedy, to expect to get a single molecule from the original substance, one would need to swallow 1% of the volume of such a pool, or roughly 25 metric tons of water.

"For more perspective, 1 ml of a solution which has gone through a 30C dilution would have been diluted into a volume of water equal to that of a cube of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 metres per side, or about 106 light years. Thus, homeopathic remedies of standard dilutions contain, with overwhelming probability, only water (or alcohol). Practitioners of homeopathy believe that this water retains some "essential property" of the original substance, due to the shaking after each dilution. Hahnemann believed that the dynamisation or shaking of the solution caused a "spirit-like" healing force to be released from within the substance. He thought that even after every molecule of the previous substance has been removed from the water, the spiritual healing force still remained."

Now, that said, Zicam bills itself as a "homeopathic" remedy, but its dilution is only 2X - in other words, the zinc gluconate content of the gel, by volume, is about 1:100 (2 dilutions at a one in ten ratio). That's well within reasonable limits, and it's a sure thing that actual zinc gluconate gets into your nose and helps you get over your cold more quickly, at least according to clinical trials with different forms of zinc. I don't know if the Zicam folks do the shaking thing or not, which is essential to the purist approach to homeopathy, but it doesn't matter since the gel is actually an efficient delivery system for a clinically significant dose of zinc gluconate. Give me all of the antioxidants, herbal cleansers, Emergen-Cs, etc. in the world, but spare me the super-dilute homeopathics.

If I ever have the flu, I'll just go out and slay a duck and eat its liver rather than try to drink the volume of water necessary to snag one random molecule of duck liver in a 200C homeopathic dilution of "Oscillococcinum," the most popular homeopathic flu "remedy." I don't believe that modern medical science has the answers to everything, but there are limits to my credulity.
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Eclipse News [Feb. 20th, 2008|10:09 pm]
The Wild Colonial Boy
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[Current Location |Home]
[mood |happyhappy]
[music |Mozart's Requiem]

I suppose if I were a real whiner type, I'd be complaining that it's -15° in my front yard right now where I have been viewing the lunar eclipse for the last 45 minutes or so. However, since it will be another 2.5 years before it happens again, it would behoove me not to protest. For once, weather in Minnesota is ideal for an astronomical phenomenon. Saturn came in clear as a bell, and I watched the moon get "eaten" by the Earth's shadow from about 2015 to 2105. I had my best spotting scope (a Brunton 12-36x50) out there on a tripod as a makeshift telescope, and it really worked well. Usually I'm out there trying to hold binoculars up with my hands shaking.

The night is crystal clear, the stars are sharp - I even spun the scope around to the west and got a really nice view of the Pleiades, which is kind of rare. Usually even a little overcast will fuzz them up good, but tonight they were very clear.

Well - the moon passed totally into the umbra at 2101 (CST), and will be at its "deepest" in about 7 minutes (2126), then begin to emerge again at 2151. It won't clear Mother Terra's shadow completely until about 2316, which event I will not wait up to see, but I am going out now to see the "deepest" part . . .

(2135) . . . it's a little darker and more orange than it was when it first slipped behind the shadow. The online weather stations say -2°, but in my front yard it's more like -15°. It always surprises me to see how fast the temp drops as I move away from the more heavily-paved and populated parts of my suburb up to my little bucolic corner. I took Mr. Boogers to his airgun class tonight and when we left the archery range where they shoot, the car thermometer said -2°. By the time we got home, some 6.5 miles north and out of the heart of the compost site, the intersection of several major county roads, and the City Hall/YMCA complex, it was down to -13° in my driveway. It has not warmed up any in the intervening 90 minutes.

I'll go out again about 2150, watch Luna start to emerge, and then pull in my little improvised observatory.

In other news:

The Wump tried out for the Zac Efron part in his school's production of High School Musical ("Troy" or whatever the little twit's name is). I saw the DVD with the kids recently and was not too impressed. Not only was the whole thing too slick and affected, too pop-like, for my taste, but the sound quality was not great. It really sounded as if all of the music had been dubbed, which frankly wouldn't surprise me. What did surprise me is that it was so obvious and fell so flat. In comparison, another recent musical I've seen on DVD and on the big screen, Hairspray, was phenomenal. The music was energetic and "real"-sounding. The music in HSM lacked that vibrant and interesting zing you should get from good movie music. It sounded as if the performers were doing it by rote for the 400th time and they found it dull.

For the record, Ashley Tisdale is much cuter with her original nose.

At any rate, I fear he may be in for another disappointment like he had with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He simply wasn't right for the Joseph role, but he had his heart set on it and there was hell to pay when he didn't get it. I think he kind of has his heart set on this one, too, although he's been careful not to be too outward about it. But the Troy role calls for a cutesy teen heartthrob and the Wump is more of a manly man at 6'1", 240lbs. Although some good will come of it - he shaved that horrible-looking, ratty goatee off.

Okay - it's 2149, time to return to the Astronomy Channel. Back in a bit . . .

(2210) . . . Well, I'm sure this will come as good news: it seems that the Gods have decided to spare us, and they haven't eaten the Moon after all. It's begun to come out from behind the Earth's shadow, and a goodly thumbnail is emerging from the lower left edge. Presumably, in another hour or so, the full moon will be back to normal. I, however, will probably be asleep.

As should you be, Gentle Reader. Good night.
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