The PA Turnpike

I’m coming in on the turnpike and as is typical for Horsham, there’s two or less EZ Pass lanes.  This morning there was one open. So I’m coming down the ramp and traffic is backed up the entire ramp onto the turnpike. There’s two lanes on the ramp, so hoping to avoid being rear-ended by sitting on the right lane of the turnpike proper, I take the open lane. Oops – you can’t see the EZ Pass signs from the ramp, and my choice was wrong. I get to the bottom and realize I’m in the non-EZ pass lane. There’s four green lights, one EZ Pass lane, and no-one is going through the other ones.

Figuring this is either a mistake or something (there were no banners indicating what the purpose of the lane was minus the EZPass), I picked a lane with a green light on and threw the car through. All was good, except the little traffic light thing didn’t come on.

If I’m reading the rules correctly, they send you a ticket in the mail. Still, I don’t know if it’s one of those affirmative blacktion things or what, but it’s annoying that the transponders don’t work in non-EZ Pass lanes. WHY?

Saddam Retrospective

George Piro talked to 60 Minutes in this interview. Of course, everyone wants to know about WMDs, but it had some other neat facts in there also. Saddam, for instance, wrote poetry and also enjoyed cookies very much. If you’ve been following the issue, independent reports say that yes, Saddam had WMDs. After the first war in the gulf, about one third went to Syria for safe keeping, one third were destroyed by the US and the UN, and one third were “lost”. Looted. Simply vanished into the desert. There’s postulation they ended up in Russia, who probably would have gladly sold them back to Saddam.

Where things get interesting is when Saddam talks about his plans. He figured that he would have to put up with Clinton-era bombings (which he survived) and that would be that. He stated he hated George Bush (both of them) because they did more than Clinton. He said he had deep respect for Reagan for not resorting to arms to defeat the USSR. Saddam admitted that the WMDs were gone per the UN, but he said that in Arabic channels, he maintained that he hoodwinked the UN. This is important – Saddam said he took a calculated risk to misguide his enemies while complying with the UN. He wanted to be bombed, but not invaded. The question is why? The UN, he said, was powerful enough to wipe him off the map. If he complied with them by making the WMDs go away, which I took to mean sending some to Syria and letting the UN destroy the rest, he could stay in power. However, after the Iran-Iraq War, he knew he needed some kind of ace up his sleeve to prevent another war with Iran and also keep the various islamic tribes in line. To his own people, he lied and said he still had them. The real ace in the hole was that he stashed the equipment and kept the engineers on his payroll. After the bombings or sanctions, he said, he planned on rebuilding the program.

Another tidbit I found interesting, George Piro said that Saddam called Osama Bin Laden brutish and called him an extremist. Al Jazeera is reporting that Saddam called him an infidel. I’m not sure which is the proper translation. Saddam did not say he kept himself seperate from Al Quaeda, and this I think is significant, he merely had some very specific comments on Osama Bin Laden. I would be really curious to ask him for the moral justification between September 11th, and the gassing of the Kurish regions in Iraq, but we’ll never know. Saddam did call the Kurdish genocide “necessary”, but left it at that.

Bustin’ Bunnies

Last weekend, me and my father along with Andrew and John went bustin’ bunnies. Rabbit is delicious, and also expensive. Hitting them provides a challenge. I think it was originally John’s idea to hunt as a party in a line, rather then still hunting. We all took shotguns, I happened to also bring along a rifle. The Baikal shotgun, oops, Remington Spartan, performs well and its incredibly solid. The Marlin Golden 39 is also a fantastic gun, with a bit of a burr on the action. Of course, I left the rifle in the truck once I decided we were going to need to stomp some bushes. And of course, if I had the rifle instead of the shotgun, we would have been much better off.

Line hunting is a bit of a pain. The Golden Rule is the slowest guy is the leader, everyone else forms up on him. Not to dump on John, but he never shuts up and he’s always ahead of the line. I understand that he wants to shoot something, and I understand he wanted to give Andrew advice, but talking nonstop just beds down the game faster. Being ahead of the slowest guy is also a big loser – The slowest guy is probably moving slow because he’s stuck in the bush. If he’s stuck in the bush, you moving up drives game down the line towards him. If he’s stuck in the bush, not only can he not see where you are (dangerous) but he also probably can’t get the gun around to fire on the game. Being ahead of the line spells wasted opportunity for everyone. The guy in the bush can’t fire on the game reasonably, and it’s just going to cut through the gap behind the line.  This is exactly the scenario that happened with Andrew. I was hanging back a bit so I could see Andrew, John was running his mouth and well ahead of Andrew, Dad was inline with me. The rabbit Andrew saw ran towards (and behind) John, which means I can’t fire on it, and back behind our line into the bush. If the rabbit gets behind the line, he wins, you can’t move your fire sectors behind you quickly and safely, especially in rabbit cover.

The next two rabbits were lost wholly a result of me and dad using #7 shot. I had taken cylinder and improved cylinder choke figuring we would be stomping on thick bushes, but when we pushed into the valley on the far side, suddenly everything opened up. This is right when Dad flushed probably the biggest rabbit I had ever seen. It was the size of our cat Tricks, the tom, and Dad managed to wound it. Had I the rifle, it would have been an easy 35 yard shot to finish the loping hare off. With an improved cylinder, however, the situation was largely hopeless given the cover on the other side of the basin. We decided to let it lay and mark where it vanished, figuring we would be along to flush it again or pick it up otherwise. Dad left some kind of sign.

We moved along, and finally I flushed a rabbit. I gave it the cylinder barrel as it was 10 yards in front of me, and it ran across the valley. I was really suprised it was still going, but I admit I miss once in a blue moon. I sent the improved cylinder after it. The rabbit slowed, which almost always indicates a hit. I had to swim a thorn bush to get to where the rabbit bedded down, but a rabbit is worth a few thorns. Besides, Kelly could use the practice getting them out. Think of them like At Home clinicals, hon! When I got there… no rabbit. Same problem as my father. There was maybe a drop of blood, but the ground the rabbit was on had many #7 sized holes in the snow and nothing to show for it. We padded around but failed to turn anything up. Since we were very near Dad’s trail at this point, Dad opted to split off. Andrew went high in case the rabbit flushed out the back, while I went low to stomp the bush the rabbit likely went into. Nothing turned out.

Disparaged, I went to help my father track his blood trail, which eventually led into a groundhog hole. Hog holes are of a particular nuisance since groundhogs can clear rocks. The terrain in any of these areas is almost always soft verge laid out on top of shale or another sheet rock. It’s not uncommon to find fossils in the slag left from the hogs excavations. This presents a problem in and of itself. If you reach into the hog hole, the hog may very well not be impressed by this and has very sharp teeth. If you dig the hole, you will most likely hit the hard tan stone. This makes no mention of the roots growing atop the whole mess, woven so much that a sharp shovel is required if not an axe. Carrying such tools is well beyond the pack of even the most dedicated soul. Right then, Andrew happened across the blood from my rabbit well above where me and Dad had been led. Sure as the first, this trail too led to another hole. The lesson: #7 shot is too small, #5s seem to be the order of the day.

By now it was getting dark and we decided to retire. However, there’s still more rabbits yet to be seen up at the farm.

Linux Gives me a Headache

I made the jump to OpenSuSE Linux awhile back when I realize that the only thing I really use the computer for a this point is ripping DVDs, answering IMs, web surfing and e-mail. At one point I had told my brother that “COMPUTER GAMES WERE THE FUTURE”. At the time, PS1 had just come out, Nintendo wasn’t offering anything compelling, and 3DFX owned the 3D market on computers. Back then, a 3D card was less than the price of a gaming system, and we weren’t having the processor pissing contest we have today. Now it’s AMD or Intel, 32bit or 64bit, many different cache sizes and latencies, quadcore tricore dualcore god knows what crap and add Windows XP versus any of the five versions of Vista and the whole thing is an absolute mess.

If it sounds like I’m blaming the advance of technology for the fall of the PC market to the gaming systems, I am.

I realize I could probably turn off my computer, hook a keyboard to the Wii, and spend the rest of my digital days happy. Except I couldn’t rip DVDs. Ah whatever. So linux scratches that itch well for me since I don’t game with the PC anymore. Maybe I play a bit of Full Spectrum Warrior at night, but I think the Wii has the market cornered on the “quick game” thing. I was never into the epic games, which is probably why the PS3 and XBOX360 just don’t ring my bell. It’s an attention span issue.

Where am I going with this… Linux used to just Do The Right Thing. If it didn’t know how to do the right thing, it was pretty good at saying “THIS IS A BAD IDEA, YOU’RE GOING TO DIE BADLY”. Case in point: I have a server here with two NIC Cards. Two different subnets and two different gateways, but they all generally end up in the same place. The old behavior in this configuration was to always answer a packet coming in on eth0 on eth0. Packets coming in on eth1, they get replies from eth1. It worked great because gateways in Linux are done by NIC under the hood. I had a 2.2 kernel box serving up DSL as a proxy for the longest time back at my parents place with this exact configuration. Enter the 2.6.16 kernel – It doesn’t work. By trying to make the network stack more RFC compliant, they made IP agnostic to the hardware, and this doesn’t work anymore. Anyone either have the magic to make this work again (packets need to be replied to over the interface they came in on) or is this now impossible?