prowler1971: (Default)
This article does a nice job summing up how I feel about the TSA. I would like to add the disclaimer that I do not blame the people who are simply doing their jobs as handed down by the higher ups. I recognize that even in my own job, I have to deal with policies I disagree with. But those policies don't inconvenience millions of people on a daily basis. I apologize in advance to anyone I know who works for the TSA and had no part in the decision making process. If you did have a part in making these decisions, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Apparently the latest rule to get handed down by the TSA is that during the last hour of a flight, you must remain in your seat and you may have nothing in your lap. Can I hold my iPod? Read my book? If not, someone had best ply me with booze or I'm going to choke the shit out of the "uniformed crew member" who tries to get me to sit still and look forward for an hour. I didn't know I was paying to sit in detention.

Feel free to Google all the various articles on this. This isn't about whether or not the TSA is doing a good job. It's about the terrorists winning. As such, this is mostly opinion.

The idea behind terrorism is to disrupt the lives of the people they are trying to terrorize, presumably with fear. But they've done much worse. They've inconvenienced us. A lot. And as such, we're unhappy with our political leaders. (There are a lot of reasons to be unhappy with our political leaders but let's not get into that.) The simply act of travel has become an unbelievable burden and still, we put up with it grumbling all the way.

When I was traveling a lot for my job from 1999 to 2002, I bought a small suitcase which was as big as you could take as carry on luggage. Why? Far more convenient than checking a bag. (And these days, cheaper.) New rules for liquids and gels have made taking carry on luggage a giant pain in the rump. (And let's face it, most people don't obey the rules and try to fit their giant roll on luggage into the overhead compartment where everyone knows it won't fit. Start enforcing THAT rule one of these days... and then charge THOSE people for their checked luggage.) Now, unless it's a really short trip, I'll check my bag and take my laptop bag with me as my personal item. Sometimes, I'll just pick up my toiletries when I get where I'm going.

And I have to take my shoes off because one jerk unsuccessfully attempted to light his on fire. At one point there were some shoes that were okay and some that weren't. Coming back from Canada I didn't have to take my shoes off but I believe I do now, it's been a while. What this has really done is caused more people to fly wearing flip flops and I *HATE* flip flops (which is a rant for another day).

And here's the best part. If a terrorist really wanted to kill a bunch of people packed into a confined space, the security check point would be the PERFECT place to do it. It's a huge bottleneck of people and you wouldn't even have to suicide bomb your way in. "Oops, I can't bring this fluid through? I'll dump it into the big trash barrel with all of the other prohibited liquids." Add some kind of detonator to the unmonitored trash can and BOOM! Now you won't be able to bring your water into the airport at all. Really, how anyone in this day and age can fly and NOT know that they can't bring their water through is ludicrous but it's a stupid rule.

So, the terrorists are winning and when a new rule is put out by the higher ups at the TSA, we, the people of the United States of America, bitch about it for a few weeks and then we go quietly into the night. Nothing changes. Air travel becomes even less convenient. And a few years later, another terrorist attempt to blow up an airplane fails (notice they all fail?) and another pointless rule goes into place.

No guns on an airplane? I can get behind that. No knives? Okay, but you gave me a knife and fork to eat with. (I do get to ride in first class sometimes if I get lucky.) I could easily kill someone with the implements of destruction you just gave me, or the pen and pencil in my bag. I could bludgeon someone to death with a MacBook. I can certainly choke the life out of a "uniformed crew member" and I believe many passengers would just cheer me on.

As a final thought, and because I'm too lazy to do the research, when is the last time a terrorist successfully blew up an airplane from within without first flying it into a building? The only one that comes to mind is Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 and there were several warnings regarding that flight. I suspect much of the increased screenings of checked bags is a result of that but I don't know for certain.

If airport screeners (even long before the TSA came to be) have thwarted other attacks, found bombs, etc, they're not making it public. Not making it public keeps us angry with a feeling of safety. Making it public would make us either fearful or skeptical. It is a true no-win situation but I'd rather know the truth. If the TSA is saving us from bomb plots, let us know.

Other more knowledgeable on the topic have described this whole mess as security theater. It's all designed to make us *feel* safer even if it doesn't make us any safer and just inconveniences us in the process. I never fear a terrorist attack when I'm on an airplane. For as long as I've been flying, I always fear the take off and landing but even got to a point where I could sleep through them.

By the way, I'm 100% in favor of knocking everyone on the airplane out for the duration of the ride and waking us up after we land. Just make it so I can learn French in my sleep.
prowler1971: (Default)
I've just returned from seeing Avatar, 3D, IMAX and wow. Just amazing effects. The 3D experience really gets you immersed into the entire setting. And some amazing scenery on top of it. It's been said by a lot of others, it's easy to forget you're looking at computer generated images. And the 3D *isn't* overdone, it's just right.

My only issue was I do have this fear of heights which was triggered a few times in the movie. But I was able to (most of the time) lose myself in the movie.

The plot, as mentioned by others, not deep. Dances with Wolves, Pocahontas, Medicine Man take your pick.

The one thing I really came away with was the desire to have fiber optic hair and a horse I can interface with. I know, I know. Hair would be an upgrade.

From a purely visual effects aspect, those of us without rock hard bodies could be leading men with this stuff. I'm looking forward to the DVD release for I'm sure there will be a lot of behind the scenes extras and I'm really interested in that. Might wind up being the final excuse to buy a BluRay player.
prowler1971: (Default)

The staff has been selected (there are still a couple more to be confirmed)
but the list below is of the staffs for the two Camps in 2010. Mandolin
Camp North is April 16-18. Banjo Camp North is May 14-16. Hope to see you
there.

MCN 2010 Staff: Don Steirnberg, David Harvey, Ben Pearce, Richie Brown, Neil
Rossi, Phil Zimmerman, Alan Kaufman, Skip Gorman, Lorraine Hammond, Dave
Reiner, Rich DelGrosso, David Surrette, Bill Wallach, Martin Grosswendt,
Mike Rivers, Dave Howard.

BCN 2010 Staff: Tony Trischka, Eric Weissberg, Greg Cahill, Janet Davis, Bob
Altschuler, Bruce Stockwell, Dave Kiphuth, Mike Kropp, Gordon Stone, Rich
Stillman, Ira Gitlin, Phil Zimmerman, Howie Bursen, Mac Benford, Dick
Bowden, Martin Grosswendt, Paul Brown, Lorraine Hammond, Dave Reiner,
Alan Jabbour, Geoff Bartley, Mike Rivers

And more to be announced...

The deadline for the early bird registration fee is January 31, 2010. The
Adult Center is filling up fast, so get your reservation in soon.

Also, we have special gift cards we can send, if you want to give (or receive) one of the Camps as a gift.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.
----------
Mandolin Camp North, 4/16-18, 2010 www.MandolinCampNorth.com
Banjo Extravaganza Concert, 5/13/2010 www.mugwumps.com/extravaganza/
Banjo Camp North, 5/14-16/2010 www.BanjoCampNorth.com
Also:
Mugwumps Online, www.mugwumps.com
prowler1971: (Default)
I've not had my Droid for just over 48 hours and I think I know how to use it now. Really could use an instruction book. Will google that later.

This being my first "smart" phone, I don't have much to compare against. I've had all of three phone calls (I'm so popular) one of which was through speaker phone. The Droid is smart enough to know it's in the car mount (a magnet I believe) but when in car mode it's *not* smart enough to switch automatically to speaker phone. Or if it is, I haven't found that setting.

It absolutely eats battery but to be fair, would probably last longer if I didn't have it constantly on. I would like it to wake up when I touch the screen, not just the button on top. But then, I'd probably accidentally turn it on a lot.

I wanted to get a Body Glove for it but I can't easily transition from that to the window mount. So I got a leather holster combined with InvisiShield (which was painful to put on).

It's too easy to accidentally stop the navigation process. And while you appear to be able to overlay traffic it gives you a wider shot than you were just at and I'm unsure if it adjusts for traffic. I have a real time traffic widget which gets data from other Android phones. Pretty slick but it doesn't help to re-route as best I can tell. My Garmin is still superior... so far.

The e-mail client has the same restriction as every other portable device e-mail client I've seen. It doesn't check subfolders for new mail unless I specifically check that folder. This is both a plus and a minus. The minus is I do a lot of server side filtering and would like to be able to tell the Droid which folders to check. The plus is I also get a lot of e-mail for work which doesn't need my immediate attention so that e-mail isn't pestering me. Still, I'd like the option to say "check this folder for new mail". Maybe I need to look harder. I also don't think I can move items from one folder to another but I also didn't look very hard.

I keep hitting the wrong buttons and cancel what I was doing. I've had a couple of applications crash on me. I'm sure a lot of this has to do with the fact I'm a novice at this thing plus other temporary issues. In time, I believe I'll like it more.

This would all seem to be "hey, he hates this phone." On the contrary. But most of what I see from people is "rah rah my droid is so cool". It does have some drawbacks but nothing I can't overcome.
prowler1971: (Default)
I was listening to the radio this morning and there was this story about parents trying to change a gift policy banned anything "to do with a religion or a religious celebration." Apparently, someone brought up the argument "what if someone donated something with a swastika on it". (I heard the audio.) Well, the easy answer is you say, "No thanks." The announcers brought up the issue of over sensitivity. The liberal wing (and I have to agree) is so afraid of offending *anyone* that the idea of diversity that the left is always going on about is being crushed. But there's a bigger issue here (to me) and it started getting me riled up in the car.

I am of Jewish descent but I am an atheist. Yet, I still feel a twinge every time someone or something is compared to Nazis, Hitler or swastikas. When people start comparing every little thing they dislike to an organization which tried to exterminate my ancestors, I find that offensive. Obama is not Hitler. Santa is not a swastika. Government health care is not Auschwitz.

See each individual action for what it is, good or bad. Celebrate diversity. Accept everyone. I'm pretty sure all of your fake gods would agree with this.
prowler1971: (Default)
With a little advice from [livejournal.com profile] scullerywench's BF (a licensed electrician), I have managed to not only put my outside light on a an on/off timer, but I have also put my bathroom fan on a countdown timer.

Go me.
prowler1971: (Default)
I decided I wanted to replace the basic single pole toggle switch (sound like I know what I'm talking about don't I?) that control my outside light with an in-wall timer. Now, I'm no electrician but I remember that for the most part, wires are color coded.

The timer has four wires:

Black - Hot/Live to power (I always thought black was ground)
White - Neutral wires for power and load
Red - Hot/Live to load
Green - Ground

This is kind of simple, right?

Single pole switch:

Two black wires, one bare wire (presumably ground).

Based on what I'm reading the two black wires represent the power and load. It is the circuit that is completed by the switch.

The electrical box has three switches in total. One of them is one of two switches for a single light so as long as they are in opposite positions, the light is on. Can't recall what that kind of switch is called. The second single pole switch has one black, one red and one ground. The third switch has two black wires, one red and one white.

What I can't find anywhere is which wire maps to what on my timer? I suspect the two black wires are power and load (figuring out which is which might be fun... and maybe I should have a friend around) the bare wire is certainly ground, but the neutral is the one I'm concerned about most.

Anyone have experience with this stuff?
prowler1971: (Default)
The 2009 touring season has ended, and we are getting ready for 2010! We're expecting more shows, in more places, and bigger shows with lots of new surprises!

To that end, when The Connecticut Renaissance Faire ended, Scott spent a few more days running around New England, and came home with two new horses for the Paragon Jousting herd. Paragon Jousting has acquired a Friesian Andalusian cross, standing at about 16.2 hands, and a Missouri Foxtrotter at about 15 hands who will be a perfect Match for Mister Mister. Both horses are black, show great aptitude for jousting, and have already started their training at Paragon Stables in Aurora, New York. Watch for profiles and pictures on our newest warhorses coming up soon!

We're also very excited to announce our new relationship with House Shadow Wolf who is now the OFFICIAL armor sponsor for Paragon Jousting. Click on over to our Links page and check them out.

House Shadow Wolf, Official Armor Sponsor for Paragon Jousting
prowler1971: (Default)
Saturday night, I was made a Knight of Paragon Jousting.

My very first journal entry was about my first time on a horse. November 11, 2002. It was my first step to becoming a jouster. I've ridden a lot of horses since that time and I've been in a lot of shows. September 27, 2009 I finally took part in my first joust in front of an audience and October 3, 2009 I broke my first lance. October 10, I received my spurs[1]. It took 6 years and 11 months but I've done it.

Thanks go out to everyone who was a part of this along the way.

[1] You receive your spurs as part of the knighting ceremony. You also kneel in a pile of horse crap from the horse that took you into battle. Fresh... still steaming... slightly wet. Yuck.
prowler1971: (Default)
If this works then they're all behind the cut... )

First photo is Bille Axell
Second and third are Mike Bailey

Visit their sites.

Then visit Paragon Jousting
prowler1971: (Default)
This past weekend marked my first participation in the Joust of War performing with Paragon Jousting. My first joust ever was the weekend before in the Joust of Peace. Now, I've done all the shows reaching a long time dream of mine, a journey which started in 2003 (or 2000 depending on when you want to start counting) has reached it's pinnacle.

I feel like I did a good job and was told as much by my partners in the joust, Scott Rodlin and Becca Cooper. Massive thanks go to both of them for all their help and patience in training me and helping me get over some of my own issues I needed to surpass to get to this stage of the game. There was a lot of help from various squires along the way as well.

The only thing I'm really lacking at this time is... well... pictures. Anyone?

I also let Zoltan's rat lick cheese of my finger but that's entirely unrelated.
prowler1971: (Default)
Some of you may not have theard but this weekend is opening weekend for The Connecticut Renaissance Faire. As has been the tradition since 2004, Paragon Jousting will once again be performing three shows a day. Come see Knights as they Joust for the entertainment of the crowds. And throughout the day you can see fantastic shows, eat great food and listen to wonderful music. Don't forget the shopping.

iPod woes

Sep. 19th, 2009 03:36 pm
prowler1971: (Default)
Lately, when I plug my iPod into my computer it comes on and is recognized but iTunes doesn't launch. If I launch iTunes manually, it sometimes finds my iPod. I generally have to unplug it, plug it back in a few times. And once it recognizes it, sync happens.

I upgraded to iTunes 9 and hoped the problem would go away, it hasn't. I restored the iPod, it hasn't gone away (got it connected long enough). And to make matters worse (before I restored it) was syncing and then unable to find the folder. Tried enabling disk usage, telling my anti-virus software not to scan it, etc.

So, I'm figuring one of three things.

1) USB interface on the computer is h0rked. Unlikely as it happens no matter which port I connect to. Other devices do not have similar problems.

2) iPod sync cable. I used to have a second one but I can't find it. Likely have to borrow one to test this theory.

3) iPod itself. I've had this a while. I replaced the hard drive in it for similar (but not identical) issues. Then, it would sync up to 16GB and then fail out on me losing all data. This would be the most inconvenient/expensive problem. But it would also be an excuse to upgrade. I still don't need to be spending that money right now.

Suggestions welcome.
prowler1971: (Default)
A correction from my post earlier this week. Paragon Jousting is scheduled to perform at 4pm, not 6pm at The 2nd Annual Renaissance Festival at Griswold Veterans Memorial Park in Jewett City, CT.

prowler1971: (Default)
For all you fans of Paragon Jousting in Connecticut who are always too busy at CTRF to actually watch our show (and everyone else who wants to see us), we'll be performing at The 2nd Annual Renaissance Festival at Griswold Veterans Memorial Park in Jewett City, CT. The event begins at 11am, Paragon Jousting is scheduled to go on at 6pm and best of all, the event is FREE!!!!

Join us. :)

RIP Mike

Aug. 8th, 2009 10:45 am
prowler1971: (Mandolin)
Folk Music's Mike Seeger Dead At 75
Musician Mike Seeger has died at age 75. He was a leading figure in the 20th century resurgence of American traditional music and a noted field collector of rural southern music. He recorded hundreds of musicians in their homes and local performing venues.

Seeger died Friday night at his home in Lexington, Va., of cancer.

Seeger grew up in a renowned musical family, a brother of social activists and musicians Pete and Peggy Seeger.

In 1958, he co-founded the New Lost City Ramblers. The string band was a crucial force in a revival of interest in traditional southern music.

Alongside his work with the ramblers, Seeger maintained a busy solo performing career. He recorded dozens of albums presenting old standards and little-known songs such as "Rolling and Tumbling Blues."

Mike Seeger also documented traditional southern dancing styles. As his life drew to a close, he was working on a video documentary project on contemporary southern banjo players.
prowler1971: (Default)
I've talked to a few people who use or want to use an iPhone but don't want to use the data plan. It's apparently possible to just use local WiFi for service like an iTouch. That's fantastic.

I don't want an iPhone. I like my Verizon service and always have. People may complain but it's been very reliable for me over the years.

What I *am* interested in is using a Blackberry over WiFi instead of a data plan. I don't need to be connected 24/7 but it would be more convenient than a Laptop and I know I can get one through work, but they may be unwilling to cover the data plan (which is okay if I can use WiFi). Anyone know if this sort of thing works?
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