Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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It’s a freakin’ miracle…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:14 am

Yesterday I was reading Slashdot and I saw an article about a guy who gets a million spams a day and how he deals with it. I don’t get anywhere near that much spam, but I get enough to be mightily annoyed by it.

One of the things he does is to implement greylisting, which is a really clever way to discourage spam. I looked, and they have it in the FreeBSD Ports Collection, so it was easy to install on my mail server.

I’ve been running it for 24 hours now, and the spam has been cut down by something like 95%. It’s a miracle I tells ya…


Fun on a Wednesday

Filed under: — stan @ 10:39 pm

Today was the Spring Music Concert at Lucinda’s school. So I took a couple hours of vacation time to go over and see it. I rode my bike over there, which was a bit of an adventure, since the school is at the top of a big hill, but I made it all right. The kindergarteners sang “Going to the Zoo” and “John the Rabbit”. It was all very cute.

On the way back, since I had my camera, I stopped to snap a picture of a very weird palm tree in front of one of the houses near Caltech. I pass by it every day on my way to work, and it’s always a wonder.

Wal-Mart is evil…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:54 am


I just read today that the people who brought us “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism are at it again. This time, they are going after Wal-Mart. Being a documentary geek, this sounds like a Good Thing. It should be entertaining, anyway.


Cartoon skeletons

Filed under: — stan @ 9:12 am

DiRT Gallery in West Hollywood is going to be showing “Skeletal Systems” by Michael Paulus. This is a series about what the skeletons of cartoon characters would look like. The show runs until July 23, and they are having an opening reception on June 10.


La Tuna Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 2:55 pm

Today’s ride was Gene’s “La Tuna Canyon Inverse”. This is basically the same route for La Tuna Canyon, but traveling over the hill from west to east.

We had a small group, perhaps because today was the first day where the ride began at 8:00 instead of 8:30. We began by heading west across Pasadena, crossing the Colorado Street bridge, and then going down the hill into Eagle Rock. There, we passed the offramp that is another remnant of the old Colorado Freeway that was built in the 1950s.

We crossed Glendale and Burbank on Glenoaks Blvd. That was where we passed the church sign about “religious nuts”. We all got a good laugh from that.

Next, we crossed over into Sun Valley, and then went though a little residential area to get to La Tuna Canyon Road. That was where we saw the sheep. They looked at home, even though one doesn’t normally think of sheep within the Los Angeles city limits.

The climb up La Tuna Canyon wasn’t bad. The sky was overcast, and it was still cool. The climb to the top is about four miles, and Matt and Newton left the rest of us in the dust. I managed to catch up to Jason at the top, but Karen was left way behind. She had warned us that she was going to be slow up the hill. At the top, I turned and went back down to be sure she was all right, and then we rode back up to the top.

Cresting the hill in the canyon, we had a nice downhill ride through Tujunga into La Crescenta. There, we found ourselves riding through the Montrose Arts & Crafts Fair. That made for a slow couple of blocks, but we saw some cute dogs along the way. Coming out the other side of the fair, we headed straight up Hospital Hill to our snack stop at Goldstein’s Bagels. I thought it was funny that they had a drive-through. We briefly considered riding through it, but decided that it was probably simpler to just go inside. So we got our bagels and sat down at one of the tables outside. That was where Matt was tremendously amused by my case of helmet hair, so he had to take a picture for posterity.

After that, we headed home through La Cañada and Pasadena. It was a very pleasant ride.

44 miles.


How long is it?

Filed under: — stan @ 8:36 pm

Today we were down in Orange County to drop Lucinda off at Aunt Maggi’s house for a sleep-over. On the way back, we decided to stop for dinner at Walt’s Wharf in Seal Beach. This was the scene of our first date, all the way back in 1986 when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The place hasn’t changed, and we’d like to think that we haven’t, either.

We don’t need no steenkin’ purpose…

Filed under: — stan @ 1:32 pm

The other day I happened on the web site for The Purpose-Driven Life. I’ve been hearing people talk glowingly about this book, and I was a bit curious. Also, Lucinda has been asking lately about whether I believe in God. So this is a timely issue in our house.

They have the first few chapters available online at the site.

Choice bits from the introduction:

Point to ponder: If there were no God, and everything was the result of random chance, there would be no purpose to your life.

I’ve truly never understood why people have a problem with this. There is no purpose to life, other than to reproduce. Why is this so hard for some people to swallow? I don’t understand this whole thing about ‘people have to have a purpose’. What’s wrong with that? Unless they’re thinking that it’s somehow like how “pigs don’t have a purpose”. Are they afraid that if they don’t have a purpose, the Boss is going to eat them? (“Dont’ get on that ship!… It’s a cookbook!”)

If there were no God, we would all be “accidents”, the result of astronomical random chance in the universe. You could stop reading this right now, because life would have no purpose or significance. There would be no right or wrong, no good or evil, and no hope beyond your brief years on earth.

This is another of those canards that I just don’t get. Sure, life has no purpose, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t right or wrong, good or evil. Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose. You don’t need to invoke an imaginary God to establish this. I just don’t get it.

When I was a kid, to me, religion was like watching football. It was just something that other people did on Sunday. Religions just strike me as really quaint little superstitions. Maybe it’s a fun thing to think about, but it’s certainly not a basis for making major decisions. So that’s what I’ve been telling Lucinda when she asks me about God. I tell her it’s just a superstition, and that if she grows up and wants to believe in it, that’s her business. But I tell her not to automatically believe it’s true just because somebody else says it is.


Geek break…

Filed under: — stan @ 5:32 pm

Note to self: (Anyone else reading this won’t be interested unless you’re trying to burn files to a CD under FreeBSD 5.3)

I went to burn my pictures from the tattoo convention to a CD, and it failed. Just one more thing broken by the OS upgrade.

Had to reinstall the sysutils/cdrtools port to get the ‘mkisofs’ program. The ‘burncd’ program comes with FreeBSD, but I had to change the device name. I also had to change the permissions on /dev/acd0. I put a ‘perm’ entry in /etc/devfs.conf for the future.

mkisofs -L -R -o output.raw Raw
burncd -f /dev/acd0 data output.raw fixate

Also, to mount the iso image file, use mdconfig:

mdconfig -a -t vnode -f output.raw
mount -t cd9660 /dev/md0 /mnt

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