Tuesday: 29.November.2005

Sidney looking to build himself a new PC computer

Sidney called today. He's looking to build himself a new computer. So I sent him a link to the 2006 Beast, which I recently finished researching.

Sidney's last computer was based on the CUSL2 motherboard, with a P3-700, overclocked to 933-MHz, which earned him a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the World's Oldest Over-clocker.

Long-time Rad readers might recall those early days. Ah, the good ol' days (momentary pine of nostalgia).

continued

Anyway, his ancient beast is on its last leg, generating one error after another, and he's fixin' to put it out of its misery.

Most importantly, he wants a case with all the connections up front (USB, Firewire, sound, etc.). "I'm tired," he says, "of having to crawl under the desk to hook things up."

Sidney got involved with computers back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. "Let me tell you," he says, "about the days when hard drives were big as Volkswagens."

I asked Sidney for the secret to his longevity. "Two strips of bacon every morning," he replied, "with a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, made with oranges from our tree in the backyard .. and a glass of scotch in the evening." (He prefers Glenmorangie, a tasty single-malt beverage. I've bought him a few birthday-bottles myself over the years.) You won't see *that* diet specified in many manuals on health.

The best times were when he'd take everybody sailing to Catalina island for the week of the Fourth on his 45-foot schooner: the Escape. Water is so clear over there. Can see the bottom. Primo snorkeling.

The Escape is all-wood, made with teak, built way back in 1933, during the heart of the Great Depression. They don't make 'em like that anymore. Today's boats are made of plastic (fiberglass).

When we were anchored at Catalina (with hundreds of other ships), people would paddle up in their kayaks and say things like, "This is the nicest boat in the harbor." It was. Nicer than brand-new yachts many times its size. It slept 9; we'd have 13 people sleeping wherever they could find a spot (under the stars).

At 6AM, Sidney (an early-riser) would start the diesel (*LOUD*) to charge the battery while he made his bacon, banging-n-clanging pots-n-pans in the process. When you're the captain, you can do whatever you like, whenever you like. =) The only time I ever eat bacon is on the Escape. For some reason, bacon tastes better at sea.

Then there was the time shore patrol brought the kids home at midnight, for lighting off fireworks on-shore, after Sidney specifically warned them not to (dry grass). They got in big trouble for that. "It's too bad I don't have a brig," he growled, after the lights went out. He was gonna make 'em walk the plank.

Then there was the time he told me to tie up the boat as we pulled into dock (Long Beach harbor), after returning from a week at Catalina, and dang-near crashed the thing into the dock, cuz I didn't know what I was doing.

"I thought you said you were in the Navy," he yelled at me. "I ran a reactor plant on a submarine," I said, "I never tied up a boat before." So he showed me how .. with much enthusiasm I might add. =)

Then there was the time...

Sadly, he's looking to sell the boat, after being its captain for more than 30 years. Getting too old to handle the constant upkeep. Had lots of good times on that boat. Video here (12.6-MB, if you have a broadband connection). It will open with RealPlayer.

Looking forward to seeing the new system the Captain assembles. He wants to dual-boot WXP Pro & Windows Media Center. He hates the fact that store-bought computers no longer come with a Windows CD, only a "Restore CD".

For more info along these lines, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: build new pc computer

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 29November2005

Monday: 28.November.2005

RENT: No Day But Today - A Rad film / movie review

Saw RENT last night. The film. Wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Based on one of Broadway's longest-running musicals. Actually, it's called a rock opera (based on Puccini's La Boheme). The Broadway play has won just about every imaginable award, including a Pulitzer.

The story's byline is: No day but today. Seems the Romans said the same thing two thousand years ago: carpe diem, or seize the day. Isn't there a verse of scripture that says Tomorrow is promised to no man? Today is all we have. Life is short. So live it up, baby.

RENT is a musical, so most of the story is sung .. which won't appeal to everyone, cuz people don't normally sing their way thru life.

Set in the Big Apple's gritty East Village. The film's title comes from the thing our bohemians have trouble paying. Any of you ever had trouble paying the rent? It does lend a certain lively immediacy to life.

continued

Nothing like when the man comes to turns off your electricity. The story starts by people burning scripts for heat in a trashcan inside their dilapidated tenement.

Depressing story. Everybody is HIV-positive. Most are gay, hooked on heroin, or both. The most colorful character dies a horrible death. Love is elusive, the cause for much heartache.

Interesting contrast between the romantic bohemes and their lives of despair in the city of cynics, where the hopeless search for meaning and hope. In their urban wasteland, corporations are considered the ultimate evil.

Not sure how the film will be received by West coast audiences. I had to switch over to an East coast mindset in order to "get into" it. (Grew up not far from the city.) Each coast has its own distinct culture and set of values. With nary a palm tree anywhere, the story seems out-of-place here, like a foreign film.

Difficult to turn a Broadway play into a Hollywood film, especially so with a musical, which is probably why the film has an equally boring part for every magical moment.

The viewer must use his imagination to transcend the limitations of the media (film) in an effort to sync up with the ideals presented by the story, which was originally designed for a Broadway play. In other words, imagine what the live stage performance must've been like, cuz that's where the magic originated from.

Worth seeing to get an idea of what took Broadway by storm, but that's about it. Viewed as a film, you're likely to come away disappointed, as I did. Musicals ain't my bag, anyway.

At the end, one character screens a finished film he's been working on all story long (a flurry of images illuminate their tenement wall) .. something anybody with a camcorder and computer can do these days. Reviews.

And speaking of RENT .. well, that's a discussion we'll save for another day.

For more info, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query: rent film movie review columbus

Posted by Rad at Monday: 28November2005

Tuesday: 22.November.2005

Dealing with Domain Name Registrars & "Bush Lied" Dollar Bills

My domain name registrar (DNR) sent a note saying it would soon be time to renew the RADIFIED.COM domain name. This spring will complete 6 years online, and start year 7.

I normally renew 2 years at a time. They wanted $25 for 1 year & $40 for two. But I noticed GoDaddy offers transfers for just $6.95 per year .. with a free 1-year extension.

So I get on the horn and call my DNR, asking them what gives. "How come you guys are so dang expensive?" They offered to drop my rate to $15/year. (Whoopie.)

I say, "Dude, that's still *double* GoDaddy's rate. I can't be a good capitalist and do that." Guy says he's authorized to go no lower. Lump it or leave it.

continued

So I fill out transfer authorization with GoDaddy (which seems very professional). Then I return to my current DNR and authorized the transfer (unlock the Registrar lock).

When I do, *then* a note pops up, offering me a super-low rate. It's like, you have to get in your car and begin to drive off the lot (which I've done) before the car salesman will chase you down and agree to the price you want. Shameless.

So I took it. Less chance of something going wrong by staying with the same registrar. Afterwards, I returned to GoDaddy, canceled my order and requested a refund, which they processed without griping, which impressed me, and convinced me to do business with them in the future.

If they had given me a hard time about the refund, or flatly refused, that would've instantly put them on my Krap list. It was RAD readers who first alerted me to the ultra-competitive rates offered by GoDaddy two years ago.

For more info on this topic, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query: domain name registrars

In other financial news, I been noticing dollars bills with the words Bush Lied hand-printed on them, usually on the back, at the very top, centered. Wonder if this is a local thing, or nationwide. Only 1-dollar bills so far.

Interesting form of protest by the common folk. (The wealthy elite would use $100 bills, or stencil it across the stern of their yachts.)

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 22November2005

Monday: 21.November.2005

Walk the Line: A Rad Film / Movie Review

Saw Walk the Line last night. Excellent. Easy to recommend. Theater was packed. Only the very front row remained open.

Most surprising was little Reese Witherspoon, who kicked much butt as June Carter. Nearly stole the show. And of course, Joaquin Phoenix played well the tortured soul of Johnny Cash.

continued

Hard not to compare WTL with Ray. Both musicians lost brothers at a tender age, among numerous other similarities of lifestyle.

WTL is really a love story between Johnny Cash & June Carter, and their contrasting personalities. At one point the two sing a duet of the Dylan tune It Ain't Me, Babe.

Surprised me the film included two whole verses, since it wasn't an original song. Then the camera pans to the audience, where Johnny's wife is sitting, looking none too pleased. Suddenly makes sense why Dylan's song gets so much play.

Classic line: "What's with the black? You look like you're going to a funeral." CASH: "Well, maybe I am."

Other classic line: WARDEN: "Mr. Cash, Try to refrain from singing songs that remind the prisoners they're in prison." CASH: "Ya think they forgot?"

I never knew June Carter wrote Ring of Fire. If you enjoyed Ray, I bet you'll enjoy WTL. Well made flick. A movie you can feel. Reviews here.

For more info, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query: walk the line film movie review phoenix witherspoon

Posted by Rad at Monday: 21November2005

Sunday: 20.November.2005

First Support Group Meeting

Attended my first support group yesterday. I'm not supposed to divulge which, but they never said I couldn't reveal which one it is not.

Not AA. Never had a problem with drinking. Heck, a bottle of Bombay Sapphire still sits in the freezer. Been there 4 or 5 years now. Never opened. I prefer non-alc beers. Brain stays sharp. I dislike the fog of alcohol.

Never understood the disease. After a certain point, the stuff starts tasting nasty. If you're hungry, for example, *any* food will taste dee-lish. But once full, even your favorite dish becomes unappealing. "Please, no more lobster."

Same concept applies to alcohol -- or so it would seem. Friends in "recovery" have tried to explain it to me, how a person can continue to drink, even after the stuff starts tasting nasty. They say, "You just power right past that. It's not about taste."

If I do have an addiction, it's cappuccino. Love the amperage. Vrrrooomm. No support group for that, tho.

For me, the notion of attending a support group is uncomfortable. I've always placed high value on self-reliance. Cuz people, as I'm sure you know, will let you down .. thru apathy, ignorance, selfishness or whatnot .. even those with the best of intentions .. causing me to set my expectations for others low .. to minimize disappointment.

My folks told me, "We raised you to be independent" (whatever that means). So going to the meeting wasn't easy. Damn near hyper-ventilated on the drive over. Two things got me there. First, I am pretty desperate. And desperate people will do things they won't normally do.

Secondly, I received what I would call "a sign". (Queue up theme music to the Twilight Zone.)

continued

For weeks, I'd been seeing the vision, in my mind, of the monologue where the stewardess instructs passengers, "in the event of a loss of cabin pressure," to place the oxygen mask over the THEIR OWN face, before doing the same for their children.

Not sure why I kept seeing that vision. Haven't been airborne in years. Heck, I never even listened very closely to the stewardess's instructions (boring). But, for some reason, that monologue kept playing in my head.

So I'm at the Film Society meeting a few days ago (see entry for 18.November), where these two people recommend this certain support group. I say, "No, no, no. You got the wrong person." They are persistent, ganging up on me. I am equally adamant: "I don't think that applies to me, ladies."

Then one of them uses, as part of her argument, the example of the stewardess's instructions upon loss of cabin pressure. It's like somebody slapped me with a cold piece of beef. Very weird feeling. Made me woozy, but in a good way. Lights in the art gallery got real bright. Sound of people talking became an echo. Wondered for a moment if I would go down.

Things improved soon as I said, "Okay, I'll give it a try. Can't hurt to try." They continued to say things that rang eerily true, telling me things about my life they couldn't possibly have known. So they had my attention. Never met them before.

At the meeting, I sat way in the back, dressed plainly as possible (jeans, t-shirt, hiking boots). First thing they do is ask for first-time visitors. Hesitantly I raise my hand, not too high. I am the only noobie. Hate being a noob. They ask my name. Everyone turns and welcomes me, all 50 or 60 of 'em. There goes my anonymity.

Then I noticed one of my neighbors. Ugh! I was mortified. I moved to the side a little, where she couldn't see me, shielded behind someone else.

But she had noticed me, and was very cool. Came up afterwards and welcomed me with a hug. Said she'd been attending 14 years. Now we send each other the secret wave when we see one another on the street. =)

Mostly women attend. Which could be cool, but I'm not ready to start dating again. Still don't trust my own intuitions.

In fact, the thing that sealed the deal for me, was when the girls who convinced me to go gave me their number, but never asked for mine. I asked if they wanted my number. They said, "No, that's okay."

If they were looking to provide more than just group support, they would've accepted my number. When they declined, I knew I'd made the right decision. Made me more comfortable.

I am however looking for support, and it's easy to see these people are experts at rendering support. I also seek understanding, but most of all, SKILLS. So I am reading the handouts: Information for the newcomer, which provides remarkable insight. Feels like a breath of fresh air.

At the close, they asked if I'd like to say a few words. Politely as possible, I declined. "Perhaps some other time." They re-welcome me.

I'd like to share more, but my web site is being scrutinized .. by those not interested in technology. You understand.

So today I'll be reading handouts, trying to gain understanding and learn skills. Maybe tonight I'll watch Fight Club, a flick about support groups gone wild.

Much of what was said at the meeting rang surprisingly true .. like somebody had been reading my mail. So I have new hope.

For more info along these lines, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query: support group meetings




Posted by Rad at Sunday: 20November2005

Sunday: 13.November.2005

Good Night, And Good Luck: A Rad Film / Movie Review

Saw Good Night & Good Luck last night. Historical drama, circa 1950's, about the Communist-paranoia hearings sponsored by Senator Joseph McCarthy (from Wisconsin) and the CBS newsmen, led by Edward R. Murrow, who had the courage to follow their convictions and publicly criticize the Senator, despite considerable personal risk. Inspiring in that respect.

I enjoy historical dramas. Fun to go back in time. Hard to believe anything like this could happen today, tho.

Directed by George Clooney (the actor), who also starred in the film. Highly rated. Seems like everybody smoked cigarettes back then. Nasty. Some of the audience applauded at the end.

Entire film shot in black-n-white. Not sure I liked that. Plenty of historical footage .. made for realistic viewing. Maybe that's why they went B+W .. made the film appear seamless.

continued

Certainly I can appreciate the notion of the little guy having the cojones to publicly criticize big, powerful institutions, at considerable personal risk (which, at the time, looked more like stupidity). But the movie was a bit dark for me. (Includes a suicide.) Probably should've opted for something a little lighter. Must-see for history buffs.

The point the filmmakers were trying to make, I feel, is that criticizing your government is not necessarily unpatriotic, but rather can be the most patriotic thing a person can do.

Politicians are human. They make mistakes just like everybody else. Hard to watch this flick and not reflect on the President's approval rating, which is at an all-time low. It's becoming clear that good intentions do not necessarily make good decisions. Need a little wisdom and insight, too.

I'd also like to see Capote. It's playing at the University theater and received similarly strong reviews. A film about Truman Capote, the writer.

I read Breakfast at Tiffany's. The book is darker than the film (starring the light-n-airy Audrey Hepburn). Truman's most famous novel is In Cold Blood (1965), based on a true story. Never read that one.

For more info, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: good night and good luck film movie review

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 13November2005

Saturday: 12.November.2005

Backup Hard Drive Imaging in a Nutshell

Hopefully, everybody who frequents RADIFIED is already familiar with the virtues of backing-up their hard drives with a hard drive "imaging" program, such as Norton Ghost .. to which end there exists the (world-famous) Radified guide.

For those who may still be in the dark however, here is simplified description that may shed some light.

Note that the word "imaging" used here has nothing to do with digital photos or the like. It works something like this: You would ..

.. get yourself a copy of an imaging program (such as Norton Ghost) and two extra hard drives, of the same type that is currently installed in your system (IDE, ATA, SATA, etc). One may be an external drive, if you like.

Hard drives are pretty cheap these days. You are buying peace-of-mind. We'll call these new hard drives DRIVE_02 and DRIVE_03.

If you have a regular PC, chances are your system now contains a single hard drive (usually labeled C drive, which we'll call DRIVE_01). If you don't know how many hard drives your PC contains, it has one.

continued

Install DRIVE_02 into your PC, partition & format. If you need help, find any 13-year-old.

Install the imaging program and create a back-up image of your main drive (DRIVE_01). Store the image of your "system drive" (DRIVE_01) on your newly-installed "storage drive" (DRIVE_02), and tuck away the other (the "back-up drive," or DRIVE_03) in a drawer somewhere.

With a back-up image on hand, if your system should krap out for any reason (bad virus, dumb mistake, etc.), you can simply restore the image you created earlier, and be back up & running in minutes. It's sort of like Windows own System Restore on steroids.

But System Restore can't help if your main drive should die (cuz System Restore dies with the main drive) .. in which case (with a back-up image on hand, of course) you would simply pull out DRIVE_03 from the drawer, and use it to replace the dead drive (DRIVE_01) and restore the image that resides on DRIVE_02. (A beautiful thing.)

A dead drive can be a tragedy, depending upon what information is stored there. But with a little pre-planning, you can be back up & running in 30 minutes (if you hustle).

Being able to restore your system in 30 minutes following a dead drive is a very cool thing. Unfortunately, most people (myself included) don't learn the back-up lesson until it's too late.

It can be a painful lesson to learn. So be smarter than me by creating a back-up image of your system drive (DRIVE_01) on a (physically) separate hard drive ASAP (DRIVE_02, "storage drive"). You won't regret it.

If you like, you can hold off on purchasing hard drive #3 until your main drive actually dies. This decision would depend largely upon how distressing downtime would be to you. You would be dead-in-the-water until you were able to get a new drive.

You can also back-up your system drive (DRIVE_01) to CDs or DVDs. But you would need *many* CDs to back-up a hard drive, so that would be impractical. And data stored on DVDs is not as reliable (IMHO) as data stored on hard drives. Plus, the imaging process goes faster to a hard drive than to a DVD.

The ultimate method is to back-up your system drive (DRIVE_01) to *both* a separate hard drive (DRIVE_02) *and* DVDs (optical media).

If you have a laptop, you would need an external hard drive as your "storage drive" (DRIVE_02).

WHICH imaging program you use is not as important as using *some* imaging program. A list of alternatives is posted here, under the heading: Ghost Alternatives. (I have no experience with anything but Ghost.) If you have trouble, we have lots of folks with experience who can help.

That's back-up imaging in a nutshell. For the whole nut, see here:> Radified Guide to Norton Ghost

For more info, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: backup hard drive imaging

Posted by Rad at Saturday: 12November2005

Friday: 11.November.2005

Veteran's Day 2005

Happy Veteran's day to all you vets. I served my country for 6 years, (queue up Battle Hymn of the Republic) stationed aboard a nuke sub, home-ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Of all my old Navy buddies, the Dog is the only one I stay in contact with.

continued

The best part of doing time in the military is that, once you get out, no matter how nasty or gnarly life may get, it never quite suks as bad as the time you spent in the military. Everything else (as the Dog says), is "a walk in the park."

My idea of what I thought life-aboard-a-nuke-sub would be like (naively thinking I'd be wearing a white lab coat, making check-marks on a stainless steel clipboard, as I monitored gage readings hourly) was quite different from what life in the military turned out to be (no life at all).

G. Gordon Liddy used to recommend starting your day by biting the head off a live frog. The rest of your day (the theory goes) would then be relatively pleasant. Same concept: our perception of life is relative. One man's hell is another's heaven.

A special thought goes out to our troops serving in Iraq .. away from their families & friends .. in harm's way. Can't be very pleasant to have people shooting at you, trying to blow you up.

Here in Laguna, a group of some 100 protestors stood along PCH (Pacific Coast Hwy) at Main beach in the center of town, at sunset, on the weekend, holding candles. Looked beautiful, with all those candles burning. Lots of kids, too. At first I thought they might be singing Christmas carols to the cars driving by. Then I saw the protest signs.

Support for the war here was never particularly strong. But now it seems like there is renewed anti-war sentiment.

Posted by Rad at Friday: 11November2005

Tuesday: 08.November.2005

DropMyRights Drop My Rights

If you're like me, you probably find it limiting to operate Windows without full administrator privileges .. even tho security experts warn you should conduct normal PC operations from a user-account with limited privileges .. so hackers can't hack you as easily.

In the past, I have configured a non-admin account, but found I kept needing to switch to the admin account (a pain) to do many of the things I wanted .. then have to switch back again (another pain).

So, I eventually said, "Screw it," and began using the full admin account for normal use.

Well there's a nifty gizmo (made by Microsoft) which allows you to operate with full admin privileges, yet will dumb-down admin privileges on specific programs of your choosing.

continued

Specifically, you would want remove admin privileges from any program you use to connect to the Internet, such as your browser-of-choice, like Internet Explorer or Firefox, and your email client, such as Outlook Express.

The procedure is surprisingly simple, and takes only a few minutes to set-up for each program you want to run sans admin privileges. Once done, you never have to do anything else. You simply execute the new (non-admin) icon for each program, so it launches the proggie in a safer mode to connect to the 'Net.

The solution is a little app called DropMyRights. Everything is explained HERE. A few words of clarification:

You need to make sure the little "quotation marks" are around the target app. That was the only problem I had. Below are pathways to apps you might want to run with restricted rights. If you put a copy of the DropMyRights executable in a new folder named "dmr" on your C drive, you can simply copy-n-paste my shortcut targets (which makes it a little easier for you):

C:\dmr\DropMyRights.exe "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe"
C:\dmr\DropMyRights.exe "C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\msimn.exe"
C:\dmr\DropMyRights.exe "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe"
C:\dmr\DropMyRights.exe "C:\Program Files\mozilla.org\Mozilla\mozilla.exe"
C:\dmr\DropMyRights.exe "C:\Program Files\Opera7\opera.exe"

I tried to use DMR with my FTP client (which I use to upload this page), but got an error. So you cannot use it with everything. But the important things are your browsers and email clients, cuz that's where the bad guys will be looking for you.

My only disappointment is that (with the exception of IE) I can't seem to locate the icons (*.ico) for the newly created shortcuts. Thanks to Mr. Pleo for shedding this light on security. He always comes up with cool stuff. Source thread here.

Okay, I should note here that DMR is *not* a substitute for operating your system from a user account with reduced rights. It merely provides a degree of security (marginal) for those of us who find it a hassle to operate our systems with anything other than full admin rights. Hope that clarifies things.

For more info here is a Google search pre-configured for the query DropMyRights Drop My Rights

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 08November2005

Saturday: 05.November.2005

Nuclear-grade hazing

Regarding yesterday's entry about Jarhead, seeing that movie made me flash-back to my own days in the military. Many of the things he said in the flick (via voiceover), I could relate to (.. e.g. "uh, maybe enlisting wasn't such a great idea")

Like the story's main character, I also was not very "military" either. I just wanted to play with reactors. And the Navy had a mess of 'em, more than anybody, with an excellent safety record (which meant they knew what they were doing) cuz they had the best training program on the planet.

The first thing I recognized, in a scene near the beginning, is a group of veteran-marines playing a practical joke on the new recruit.

In the flick, just as the new guy walks in, a bunch of marines stage a fake branding, complete with blow-torch and a branding iron. The letters USMC glow red-hot.

Ten marines hold down one guy and act like they're branding him. The guy screams and a whiff of smoke rises from the pile of bodies. Looked real. Then they turned their attention to the new guy. A struggle ensues. The new guy is over-powered.

I was never very good at playing these practical jokes on new guys. But some people have a real gift for it.

The most memorable hazing occurred to a midshipman who had just reported aboard. Midshipmen are officers in training. Some day they will be your boss.

All new guys had to report to us and get a signature about how they should respond in the event of a radiological incident. We basically told them not to cross radiation ropes, report any leaks immediately .. common sense stuff like that.

So one afternoon, after reporting aboard, this midshipman comes by the lab (where everything is made of shiny stainless steel, for easy decontamination) looking for his RadCon sig.

I was analyzing a daily sample of reactor coolant, but one of my buddies had devised a haze. He never told me about it, so it was all new as I watched. Not sure if you had to be there, but it is still one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

continued

Bill (my buddy, from Texas) instructed the midshipman read a few paragraphs from the Radiological Control (RadCon) manual (can you say "boring"?), then Bill put on a pair of thin latex gloves (like doctors do). Bill had previously set up the lab with a small 50-ml glass stoppered bottle containing pure water with a drop or two of blue dye.

The water wasn't radioactive, but he put a yellow-and-magenta radiation tri-blade sticker on the label Radiation tri-blade symbol, so it appeared so, especially with the blue dye.

We also had a supply of long-@ss needles, about six-inches long, that we used for indigo-carmine oxygen analyses .. where we would shoot a prepared reagent deep into a bottle containing a sample of water, which would react and change color based on the concentration of oxygen in the sample. Might sound complicated, but really simple cookbook stuff. (Darker colors = more oxygen)

Anyway, Bill explained to the midshipman how vaccines contain a little of the very thing you're being vaccinated against. To immunize you against the flu, for example, doctors inject you with a bit of flu. Your body reacts, producing anti-bodies that protect you.

While Bill is telling this to the midshipman, he carefully pours the contents of the blue liquid (which looks radioactive) into a 10ml cartridge (also labeled radioactive), with this *huge* syringe attached (never intended for human injections) .. totally straight-faced.

Midshipman nods like he understands the concept. Eyes wide as saucers. Apprehensive look on his face. "Well that's how we protect you against ionizing radiation," Bill says, inserting the plunger into the cartridge and turning the syringe skyward. "We inject you with a little radioactive liquid."

Flicking the tip of the needle with his finger, he squirts a little out the end. A tiny stream shoots up into the air. Dead serious, Bill says, "Important to get out all those air-bubbles." He's wearing goggles and a plastic lab apron.

At this point, I have to step out cuz I am ready to pee my pants. Standing right outside the lab, I hear Bill say, "Okay, drop your drawers, bend over, and put your elbows on the counter."

Don't know how he kept a straight face. I had tears running down mine. The midshipman says, "Really?" Bill says "Yeah, my injection quals are up to date," acting perturbed. "Just checked with the doc this morning. What's the problem?" (we have no injection qualifications)

So the midshipman reluctantly unzips his pants, drops his drawers, bends over and puts his elbows on the shiny stainless steel countertop. Bill then asks, "Okay, which nut you want it in?"

Sheepishly the midshipman says, "The left one."

Posted by Rad at Saturday: 05November2005

Friday: 04.November.2005

Jarhead: Rad Film / Movie Review

Saw Jarhead this eve. Opening nite. Hoorah! Trailers. Recommended.

Disappointed it wasn't shown on the big screen at the Big Newport. (Some Chicken Little flick was being screened.) Theater packed.

What interested me most, beyond the storyline, was that the crew consisted of many people who can work on any project they desire ..

.. such as (the stylistic) director Sam Mendes, who won the Oscar for American Beauty .. and editor Walter Murch, who edited Apocalypse Now (my favorite film). Indeed, scenes from Apocalypse Now are found in Jarhead. And of course, Jamie Foxx, who won the Oscar for Best Actor last year (in Ray).

continued

Maybe the filmmakers were trying to flex their collective creative muscle to create another War classic, such as Apocalyse Now, or Deer Hunter (both films are mentioned in JarHead) .. since certain War classics live on forever, defining an era in American history.

Most surprising was the (excellent) soundtrack. Many tracks had a head-nodding groove that helped you "get into" the movie. Lots of humor. I laughed pretty hard.

So it's worth seeing, if for no other reason than observing what can be done by a group of artists at the top of their craft.

Based on the book by Anthony Swafford, who went to the Iowa Writer's school, supposedly the best writing school in the country.

UC Irvine here in SoCal also has a good program. I applied there some years ago. They take 6 students per semester. 200 apply. I did not get accepted. My next-door neighbor (Robin) graduated from their Poetry program.

Film portrays a different perspective of life-as-a-marine than anyone might imagine. Moving. Certainly well done. Hoorah!

For more info, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query: jarhead film movie review swafford

Related entries found here: Nuclear-grade hazing ... and ...

Welcome to the Suck

Posted by Rad at Friday: 04November2005

Wednesday: 02.November.2005

Big day tomorrow

Getting ready for first day tomorrow with son in 4 months. Excited. Kinda like getting ready for a big date. Planning my day: pick-up > home > park > beach > feed > nap > etc. I still have lots of kid left in me, so it shouldn't be too hard to relate.

continued

My biggest disappointment is that, given the schedule, it will be another year before I'll be able to take him for a walk on the beach at sunset .. like I used to .. everyday .. it was our special ritual .. just the two of us ..

.. to hear the sea lions bark .. waves crash .. smell the salt air .. night-blooming jasmine .. watch the sky grow dark. It's a magical time. I live a block from the beach. And Laguna is spectacularly beautiful.

Friends have been supportive, bringing over little nicknacks I might need. One came over last night and "smudged" the place. Non-Lagunatics probably aren't familiar with the term. I didn't know what it was until after I moved here.

It's a native American thing, I believe, where you burn some sage, then blow it out, in order to make smoke. You then walk around your home, and the smoke is supposed to cleanse the air (of "bad energy"). Sounds corny, I know, but it really does seem to introduce a freshness. White sage is supposed to be the good stuff.

Okay, HERE is a good link that describes it. It's supposed to be a religious / spiritual thing. After running reactors, this kind of thing takes some getting used to. But I try to keep an open mind. Other cultures have always fascinated me, and Laguna is certainly a sub-culture unto itself.

There's a show on TV (MTV) called Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. Which is a joke, cuz anyone who lives here knows Laguna is *nothing* like the rest of Orange County. It is a bubble.

Locals are known as Lagunatics. They are "into" strange things (e.g. smudging, crystals, massage, drumming, mediatation, yoga, etc.). Hence the moniker. You can actually detect a difference when you come to (and leave) Laguna.

Anyway, first time I experienced smudging was following a massage (here in Laguna, of course). Smelt something burning. Seemed odd at the time, but I have since warmed to such things, eventually becoming a bonified Lagunatic myself. Tho I will admit, it took a few years. Before you know it, you're one of them.

I also picked up some lavender scent, cuz we had that in the hospital room when the little guy was born. Might trigger some early memories for him. Less than 24 hours to go. Hope I can sleep tonight.

Thanks for all your letters of support. Every one. They help more than you know.

Posted by Rad at Wednesday: 02November2005