“The top one percent in this country pays very much less than ten percent, very much less than five percent.”

— Al Sharpton, off by an order of magnitude

An accidental “arsenal”


Every once in a while, after some poor schmuck has been arrested (maybe for a good reason, maybe not), some official will announce breathlessly that a search of his home turned up “thousands of rounds of ammunition.” This sounds impressive, until you realize that a box of 500 rounds of .22 Long Rifle — by far the most popular ammo in the country — is about the size and weight of a brick, and costs less than $25.

A few days ago, anticipating the release of my new Buck Mark, I picked up a brick of .22 so I’d have something to feed it. Tonight, I went through some boxes that had remained sealed through my last two moves. Imagine my surprise when I found four bricks inside. I think two of them were an impulse buy at a 24-hour grocery in Ohio, which makes them at least ten years old.

Obviously I’ll need to invite some friends along when I go to the range.

Interior decorating


I’m not in the market for a mail-order bride, but if I were, this is the gal for me. I took two years of German around the time she was born; we could work through the language barrier.

Post-Coulter Bliss


I just spent two hours reading articles by Ann Coulter. It’s an odd experience. On the one hand, she flames like a veteran Usenetter cherry-picking her facts, which is always fun to read, and she has excellent taste in enemies. On the other hand, she has a screw loose.

No, that understates it; she has a lot of screws loose.

For a long time, I was convinced that she was outrageous for the same reason anyone in the entertainment business is: it sells. After a concentrated dose of the stuff, though, I think she’s dead serious. About everything. Disturbing, that.

The worst part was realizing, round about the twelfth rant, that I was starting to understand her thought processes. Must shower now.

“Almost fair and balanced”


I was all set to participate in Fair and Balanced Day, until I reached the site that’s collecting contributions and saw this:

before you know it, the entire left side of the blog world is gonna be fair & balanced

Since I’m no more a leftist than I am a right-winger, I immediately lost all enthusiasm for the game. Sorry, kids, but you don’t have to be on the Left to poke fun at an obviously frivolous lawsuit, even if it happens to be coming from the Right.

A perfectly reasonable panic


Once every three months, we sent the whole company home while we tore the computer room apart and did all sorts of maintenance work. During my first quarterly downtime, the top item on my list was installing a new BOSS controller into the Solbourne that was our primary Oracle database server. Like any good database, it needed an occasional disk infusion to keep it happy, and there was no room on the existing SCSI controllers.

So I had a disk tray, a bunch of shiny new disks, a controller card, and media to upgrade the OS with. The BOSS was only supported in the latest version, and this being the server that kept the books, it was upgraded only when necessary.

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A lifetime supply


Just finished adjusting the trigger on my Remington 700. It now has a crisp 2.5-pound trigger pull, a vast improvement over the creepy 6-pounder it came with. It’s an easy, safe procedure, but the final step involved something I don’t keep around the house: nail polish.

After a leisurely walk to the grocery store in the middle of the night, I am the proud owner of a half-ounce bottle of Maybelline Infinite Shine Clear Extended Wear Base And Topcoat. Sealing the threads on the trigger-adjustment screws required approximately a third of a drop of the stuff, suggesting that I have enough left over to fix about a thousand rifles. Which is about a thousand more than I own.

I suppose I could always use the rest to seal the quick-and-dirty paint job I do for my D&D miniatures (prime gray, paint black, drybrush metallic, done!).

Life’s little pleasures


After taking a week off to drive to Washington and back, I resumed my quest for a Browning Buck Mark Classic Plus. As I suspected, the only store who had one was 100 miles away, and thanks to California’s silly-ass gun laws, I have to make the trip twice, once to fill out the federal and state paperwork and supply a thumbprint, and again ten days later to claim my property.

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The Perl Script From Hell


I’ve been working with Perl since about two weeks before version 2.0 was released. Over those fifteen years, I’ve seen a lot of hairy Perl scripts, many of them mine.

None of them can compare to the monster that lurks in the depths of our service, though. Over 8,000 lines of Perl plus an 8,000-line C++ module, written in a style that’s allegedly Object Oriented, but which I would describe as Obscenely Obfuscated (“Hi, Andrew!”).

We have five large servers devoted to running it. Each contributes three CPUs, three gigabytes of memory, and 25 hours of runtime to the task (independently; we need the redundancy if one of them crashes). Five years ago, I swore a mighty oath to never, ever get involved with the damned thing.

Then it broke. In a way that involved tens of thousands of unhappy customers.

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