Friday, April 29, 2005

Random Trip Tidbits

Things that don't deserve a full post:

  • The Pennsylvania Turnpike is still the pits to drive, but they are trying to improve it. Slightly wider lanes, and now the trucks don't have to drive in the left lane to avoid the potholes in the right lane.
  • Outside Canton, I saw a bunch of Amish with old-style suitcases sitting by the side of the road waiting for, I guess, a bus to pick them up.
  • The other thing I will remember about Ohio is the constant admonition that "right lane must use shoulder". Occasionally, "left lane must use shoulder". Fortunately, the shoulders of the road were smoother than most of the main road.
  • Just west of St. Louis, you cross the Missouri River on I-70. On far side of the river is the biggest honkin' casino I've every seen. Looks bigger than anything in Vegas. Of course, there's only the one there.
  • In spite of the constant religious broadcasts on the radio, there are an awful lot of "adult" stores advertising on really big billboards all over Missouri.
  • Maybe there's a cause and effect thing in that last post?
  • One radio minister was criticizing Christians who didn't meet his standards as being "yellow stripes in the middle of the road." Then he included adulterers in that. Uh, Rev, adultery pretty much puts you in the wrong lane.
  • Another minister was talking about increasing stress in our lives: "First we had seatbelts in our cars. Then an airbag. Then a passenger side airbag. Then side airbags. Then we said, 'forget this, we'll get a Hummer' ... then we drive up to the gas pump ... "
  • I've now memorized enough pre-1990 songs to permanently embarrass at any party.
  • It was raining today, so I had to use an umbrella. Today, of all days, forgot my towel.
  • No, I haven't seei it yet. The Washington Post Review says "what it doesn't have is a discernible plot". Which just means that Teresa Wiltz never read the books.
  • Tomorrow, Holyrood. I'm not going to try to post via dialup, so we'll wait for Monday in Manhattan.
  • And now, from a hotel in view of the George Brett Bridge and across I-70 from Kaufmann Stadium, I bid you good night ...

In Search of the Liberal Media

Having a 6-CD changer in your car and a bunch of "Greatest Hits" from 60s and 70s groups means you never have to turn on the radio. However, out of a sense of civic duty, I did turn it on for some periods of time. I was searching for the Liberal Media.

I found right-wing talk shows, lots of religious stations, Spanish stations, sports stations, and "Talk About Mrs. Grundy's Zucchini" stations, but I didn't find a Liberal station. Well, NPR, but that's always on the far left side of the dial on low powered stations, so I didn't find it often when I hit SCAN.

I did find a station which knew about our new ambassador to Canada, but upon further investigation the station proved to be actually broadcasting from Canada, so I don't think that counts.

I did hear one minister who was extremely populist, talking about how the poor were getting poorer just like at the end of the 19th century, and looking fondly upon the establishment of Unions, the Minimum Wage, and Social Security. He may have to give up his Republican voter registration. I wrote down some of his contact information, but it's out in the car. More on him when I can look him up. As you may know, the Populist movement around 1900 was very religious. There is even an article in this month's American Scientist which touches on the phenomena in conjunction with the evolution trials. What we now call Conservative and Liberal were somewhat different then.

Anyway, for those who were worried, my survey of the airways shows that the Government has not silenced the People's ability to speak on religion. Neither the Republican-appointed Majority on the Supreme Court, the Republican Controlled Congress, nor the Republican President has silenced the People.

Tomorrow I'm going into the Reddest Red State. Maybe I'll find some Liberal Media there?

Trip In Progress

So here I am, outside of Kansas City, Missouri, sitting up on my bed and using my Hotel's free DSL connection to read my email and Blog.

Visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, yesterday. It was an interesting couple of hours. Looking at the busts of players was interesting. I'm pretty sure that Merlin Olson and Deacon Jones looked a lot meaner than that when they were playing. John Riggins' bust looks just like what you'd think a caracature of Riggo would look. They wanted to show Joe Gibbs in glasses, but not put in the glass, so they just have the top of the frames. Sonny Jurgenson looks just like he does now. The momentos were fun, too.

However, I didn't feel any need to stay longer. 90-120 minutes seems about right. I think the Baseball Hall of Fame will be more interesting. Hopefully I'll get there in a year or two. One Child might want to school in upstate New York, if so, maybe I can add a trip to Cooperstown some day.

Last night I was back home in Indiana. Not Bloomington, alas, but outside of Indianapolis. The big news there is that the Legislature approved Daylight Savings Time for the state. Previously, the parts of the state neare Chicago, Lousiville, and Cincinnati observered the same time as their neighbors, but the majority of the state has been on Eastern Standard Time since the early 70's. It certainly applied while I was there. I guess they finally got tired of figuring out if they were on the same time as New York or Chicago.

More in a bit. I've got quite a few things to write, let's see how long I can stay up to write them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Blog Will I

Sorry I haven't posted for a while. I'm leaving on a trip to The Little Apple®. I should have Internet access there, and if so I'll post information about the trip.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Small Startup Job

Benedict XVI says he wants "the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers". Just as a start, I propose he try to heal the differences between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) .

That should keep him out of mischief.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Old Ballgame

I did, indeed attend the Washington Nationals' home opener. The game (Nationals 5, Diamondbacks 3) is reported on the MLB site and elsewhere, and I've posted my scorecard for posterity. What I wanted to record here, as required by the Blogger's Creed, are some impressions of the game, the Nationals, and RFK Stadium.

  • Despite the fact that I've lived in the Washington area for over twenty years, I'd never been to RFK before. When the Redskins played there, it was extremely difficult to get a ticket, especially during the Gibbs Glory Years. Knowing that traffic would be bad around the stadium, I opted for the Metro Orange Line, which necessitated learning how to use a SmarTrip card, since that's the only way one can park in a Metro parking lot. Since I got on the train at about 4:30 pm the trip was pretty easy. Sat by two guys, about my age, who wore the red "W" caps. They grew up in the city and even remembered Griffith Stadium. My last subway ride to a game was a 1981 trip from Penn Station to Yankee Stadium.
  • The Metro says it's the "Stadium/Armory" stop, but you have to walk around the Armory and then some to get to the Stadium. Along the way were the usual hucksters, including National Guard recruiters, featuring a guy in a giant balloon-headed National Guard mascot outfit. I guess it's a better post than Iraq.
  • Realized I'd forgotten my camera, so bought a one-shot deal. Pictures will be posted when they're developed (a strange concept, these days) if they come out. Passed several news teams, both radio and TV, all recording the historic moment. Passed Mark Plotkin handing out Taxation Without Representation T-shirts but didn't take one because I don't live in the District, and anyway I think that for Congressional purposes DC should be considered part of Maryland. Bought a knock-off "W" hat. Not quite as nice as the real one, but big enough to fit my head.
  • Picked up freebie newspaper style scorecard outside the stadium.
  • It's now about 5:15pm, and the metal-detectors at the security checkpoints have short lines. Takes about 2 minutes to get through.
  • On entering RFK, I get a "Fan Code of Conduct" (best line: "Guests will refrain from displays of affection not appropriate in a public family setting.") and a packet containing what proves to be a set of inflatable thunder sticks. Put both in pocket, forget about them.
  • I have entered the stadium as far away from my seat as is humanly possible. Long walk involved. Not too crowded, as yet.
  • Bought Official Program for $10.
  • Find seat, conveniently close to restrooms the men's room. Sit down (in the seat, not the men's room.
  • RFK proves to be a nice version of the 1960s general purpose stadium. Though my seat is behind right field, it's not all that far up, and I can see every thing except the main scoreboard, which is above me. I'll see that tomorrow night, when I get my regular seat. There are three mini-scoreboards in view, two of them showing the time.
  • 6 pm, get hotdog, pretzel and beer for dinner. The timing turns out to be Real Good. Apparently, the vendor later ran out of food on our level.
  • High School band plays, percussion doing a good imitation of Drumline.
  • Announcement of the politicians, part one: DC Mayor Anthony Williams was cheered. DC City Council Chairman Linda Cropp was booed for her attempt to rewrite the deal between the city and MLB.
  • Team presentation. Nationals cheered all over the place. Recognized Diamondbacks got polite applause.
  • Announcement of the politicians, part two: President Bush makes a brief appearance, going out the the mound, throwing out the very special first ball, and returns to wherever he came from. Total time on the field is less than five minutes.
  • Navy chorus sings "God Bless America". The sound system doesn't work too well, so some people join in. During the song, soldiers march into the outfield and unfold a gigantic Stars and Stripes which covers most of the outfield.
  • A singer whose name I didn't catch (the PA system is not exactly state of the art, and the announcer was of the "see how loud we can shout" school of broadcasting) sings the National Anthem in something under two minutes. At after the "still there" some people shout "O!" but they are roundly, and rightly, booed.
  • Various former Washington Senators come onto the field, each carrying a glove. Best known, to me at least, is Frank Howard. The Nationals then take the field, and each of the new players (except for P Livan Hernandez, who brought his glove from the bullpen) receives his glove from the old. This was the best part of the opening ceremonies. What with the storming of the field and Bob Short's perfidy, the Senators never got to say goodbye to DC and DC never got to say goodbye to the Senators. Thirty-four years is a long time to wait, but this was a nice touch.
  • Red "W" caps seem to be the people's choice, but there are also blue "W" caps, red "DC" caps, and the occasional Senator's block "W" cap.
  • The game begins. Henandez rings up 2B Craig Counsell, walks one, and gets out of the inning by striking out Luis Gonzalez swinging. Baseball has returned to DC.
  • Bottom of the second, 3B Vinny Castilla gets the Nats first home hit, a double down the left field line. He's left there when C Brian Schneider pops up and SS Cristian Guzman is fanned by Javier Vazquez.
  • While this is going on, some idiot (Section between 463 and 469, Row <5, Seat > 8) tries to start "the Wave". Respect the Game, Man. "The Wave" is for the bottom of the sixth in a 8-2 blowout. Here the score is 0-0 and the home team is trying to score.
  • When the Diamondbacks are up, the left-field line scoreboard, directly opposite us, is transformed into a "K-Count" for Hernandez. It will remain at "2" for a long time. I would rather have some useful information, like the radar gun reading, the batter's number, or out-of-town scores. These may be displayed above my head, but I can't see the big scoreboard.
  • Bottom of the fourth. With two on, Castilla hits the Nats' first home triple to right field. I couldn't see what happened, as it was directly below our seats, but it must have bounced around on Dbacks RF Shawn Green. Castilla then scores on a Sac Fly by Schneider.
  • Top of the sixth. Hernandez gets Green, looking. The "K-Count" board completely misses this, and for the rest of the game will be one strikeout behind Washington's pitchers.
  • Bottom of the sixth. Vinny Castilla gets the Nats' first home home run over the left field wall, driving in 2B Jose Vidro. Nats lead, 5-0.
  • Seventh inning stretch: Take Me Out to the Ball Game. No extra stuff, no John Denver. Nice. Though I like John Denver in Baltimore.
  • Bottom of the eighth. After getting the hardest ¾ of the cycle, Castilla is plunked (it looked deliberate) by Arizona reliever Lance Cormier. The umpire warns both benches. Cormier is booed for the rest of the inning.
  • Top of the ninth. Hernandez, tiring, gives up a 3-run homer to LF Chad Tracy. Hernandez gets a standing ovation as he is replaced by Chad Cordero, who gives up one hit but makes two outs to save the game.
  • Getting out of RFK was a chore. Everyone was supposed to receive a commemorative medal. Unfortunately, there was only one person handing out the medals at each door, which lead to a slow moving mob scene. It probably took 30 minutes to get out of the stadium. I lost my friend in the mob. Fortunately, we'd come via Metro from different locations, so we didn't need to leave together.
  • Getting into the Stadium/Armory Metro took another 45 minutes, as the station has a surprisingly small entryway. The train platforms were, however, relatively clear. I've also figured out a way around this, but if you think I'm telling you, you're crazy. Trip on the Orange Line uneventful.
  • Wonder of wonders, the SmarTrip card let me out of the Metro parking lot for only $3.50. Home without problems. I may actually take the Metro next game.

All in all, it was a fun night, and I'm ready to do it another 10-15 times this year. Go Nats!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Riot-Causing Baseball Freed

WASHINGTON -- In a stunning move, the baseball which was implicated in the riot during the last regular season baseball game in Washington will be granted a one-night pass to attend the Washington Nationals Home Opener, and will meet President George W. Bush before the game.

The ball, which has been confined to an envelope in pitcher Joe Grzenda's desk for 33 years, was last seen in public before Grzenda began to pitch what could have been the last out in the Washington Senators' final home game on September 30, 1971. Before Grzenda could pitch, fans poured out of the stands and covered the field, forcing the Senators to forfeit the game to the New York Yankees, even though the Senators were leading 7-5.

The baseball was held responsible, since it clearly could have allowed fewer runs, causing the game to run more quickly and ending before the fans had finished all the beer in the stadium. The ball was tried and sentenced by Grzenda, who says that it will be required to complete its sentence after the game.

By tradition, Presidents throw out the first baseball on opening day in Washington. It is believed that Bush will throw the riot ball, since it is the only thing remaining in the city associated with the Senators. However, Secret Service officals would not say whether the ball had passed through usual security checks. "It's not like [the ball has] been able to contact any terrorist organizations," said one high administration source.

It is possible that Bush will pardon the ball, or commute its sentence to lifetime public service in Cooperstown, NY, said the offical. "We'll just have to see how it plays in the press." A complication would be that the ball would be remanded to New York, home of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the aide noted.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Looks Like It's Time to Get Serious

Finally! I'd been waiting for weeks. Friends had gotten theirs. Then today, FedEx delivered a package:

Opening Day Ticket

Now all I need is a script "W" hat.

Linux for Windows Users

As found on Groklaw, the Tom's Hardware site has a detailed guide on migrating from Windows to a real computer. There's a part about preparation for the move and a part about installation and use. The example is an installation of Red Hat 9, but they claim to be general. A detailed site for those of us who need a lot of hand holding. Hey, I'm not afraid to admit it, I was needed a lot of help before I did my first Linux install.

More H2G2

Our friends at have more Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy stuff. If the film is anywhere near as funny as the Internet Trailer it will be a gigantic success. While you're at it, look at the behind the scenes look at the role of the Guide in "Guide". I didn't get this last to play until I found the magic command line phrase,

$ realplay ""

and yes, you need the quotes.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Say "Cheese"

Thanks to the Google Blog, we know that Google Maps now does satellite pictures. I looked for an example that wouldn't label me as a potential trouble-maker, and didn't find any. So here's a eye-in-the-sky view of Lake Wilson (KS), one of the few bodies of water in the US younger than I am.

No, it's not really that blue.

And it's not all that near Lawrence, either, that's just where I started the search.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

How True

Sam Vimes could parallel process. Most husbands can. They learn to follow their own line of thought while at the same time listening to what their wives say. And the listening is important, because at any time they could be challenged and must be ready to quote the last sentence in full. A vital additional skill is being able to scan the dialogue for telltale phrases such as "and they can deliver it tomorrow" or "so I've invited them for dinner?" or "they can do it in blue, really quite cheaply."

-- (Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant)

Courtesy of the Annotated Pratchett File

A Small Dream

Not much, really. It would just be a lot of fun if we woke up one morning and found that the best-selling novel on the New York Times list was


by Terry Pratchett

Here are a couple of places you can pre-order:

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Open Letter

April 5, 2005

Roy Williams
Dean Smith Center
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Dear Coach Williams,

I want to congratulate you on your victory last night over Illinois. I know that this is a long-awaited moment for you, and I am happy that you led your team to a National Championship.


Again, congratulations on your win, and best wishes for your program in the coming years.

A Kansas Alumnus

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Linux, Firefox, and rtsp://

As I alluded to in the Universe in 60 Seconds comment, by default Firefox under Linux doesn't know how to handle the rtsp protocol. It didn't take long to do a Google search for a fix. The solution is found in the Gentoo Linux Wiki, and goes like this:

  1. Find your personal Firefox subdirectory. After Firefox 1, it will be something like ~/.mozilla/firefox/XYZZY123.default, where XYZZY123 is actually a random string of numbers and letters
  2. As a check to see you are in the correct directory, look for a file named prefs.js, but don't edit it.
  3. Now look for a file named user.js. If present, that's good. If not, create it in the directory where you found prefs.js.
  4. Edit your new or existing user.js file so that it includes the following lines:

    user_pref("network.protocol-handler.external.rtsp", true);
    user_pref("", "/usr/bin/realplay");

    replacing /usr/bin/realplay by the location of your Real or Helix Player client, if necessary.
  5. Quit Firefox, if you haven't already.
  6. It wouldn't hurt to delete the file ~/.mozilla/firefox/pluginreg.dat
  7. Restart Firefox.
  8. Click Here (rtsp://
  9. A warning box will appear. Tell it everything's OK, and don't bother coming back again.
  10. A Real/Helix Player client should appear, and the movie should start.

Caveat: this assumes that RealPlayer can handle all rtsp requests, which may not be the case in the future.

July 6, 2005: This is, without a doubt, the most frequently accessed post here at Linux & Things. It's the top Google[TM] search for ''rtsp firefox'' as well. Heck, even Windows users look here for information. So, if this page has been helpful to you, could you please leave a comment? In fact, if it's been spectacularly unhelpful, please leave me a comment on how to revise it. I'd hate to think that day after day people look for help playing RealPlayer under Firefox, come here, and then find that this page wasn't much help.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Maybe They Should Ask
Shirley MacLaine to Help

The BBC wants to talk to Bob Marley:
Pimp Mama: Things That Make Ya Go Whoa

Discworld On Screen

What with the upcoming Hitchhiker's Guide movie, and a new Harry Potter, and maybe even a Hobbit, you might wonder when SF's other megafranchise, Terry Pratchett's Discworld will get to the silver screen.

Worry not, Lords and Ladies is coming soon.

It's got a slightly smaller budget than some movies.

A Big Earth-Shattering Kaboom

How to Destroy the Earth, just in case it's been one of those days.

S Harris: Scientific Cartoonist

S (I think it's Sydney) Harris is a prolific cartoonist who specializes in scientific themes. His cartoons have appeared in Physics Today and American Scientist. Here's a collection of some of his cartoons.

In the Beginning the
Universe Was Created

This has made a lot of people mad and been widely regarded as a bad idea.

OK, I've been rereading the Hitchhiker's Guide books. However, if you want to know the true, real, exact history of the universe all wrapped up in an easily digestible one minute package, see " The History of the Universe in 60 Seconds or Less."

Firefox users: If you get a "don't know nuttin' about this protocol" message, try the command

realplay rtsp://

from a command line shell, or fire up realplayer and point it to rtsp://

It should be noted that I learned about this video from the esteemable mini-Air newsletter and the fantastic Improbable Research blog.

Friday, April 01, 2005


Site Meter reports that Working With Fedora Core has gone over 1,000 hits in less than a month. For those that don't know, WWFC is the distillation of all the Linux-related posts in this blog.

Meanwhile, the Mother Blog only has 444 hits (2/3 of you-know-what) in a month and a half. Personally, I think this blog is much more interesting, though I may be biased.

The secret to a large number of hits on the web is probably to fill a page with the words Linux, Firefox, OpenOffice, RPM, .... Put it into a couple of directories and what the hits accumulate.