Mostly about my amusement

Year: 2006 (page 2 of 6)

Catching up on my Gundam stash


I build plastic models, particularly I build from the Gundam animation series. The way I usually work I start and put down the model I was working on for a couple of months. Out of the bunch that I have done, I usually only paint a few.

Last week I completed the OYW 0079 version RX-78–2 model. This was followed up quickly with the HGUC Rick Dom and then the MG Aile Strike Gundam. I must be on a roll, normally I don’t complete any of them that quickly.

The RX-78–2 was the best. If Bandai would make a MG model that combines the arms of thr RX-78–2 OYW 0079 version with the legs from the version 2 of the Mark II RX-178 then that would be very cool.

The Rick Dom was fun while the MG Strike was okay but tedious. The Aile Strike Gundam has a back pack that makes it very difficult to stand the model up on the shelf. To compensate for that the model comes with a stand to pose the model. Compared to many earlier MG models the Strike was very good. Compared to the recent batch of MG models from Bandai, it was a little bit of a let down.

Next up is a HGUC Xekueins. I let the kids pick the next one I do from the pile; I got to make that one as long as I promised to do the Wing Gundam ver. Ka next.

Wow did I miss that one

Senator George Allen conceded to Jim Webb. The Democrats do get the Senate. The self-destruct that I was sure was going to happen did not happen at all.

I was watching Lou Dobbs and they had mentioned that the incumbent Democrats all got re-elected in the senate and the house. They did not lose ground at all, they just gained seats. Either the electorate are really unhappy or the Democrats 50-state strategy really worked. Probably a little of both (and some luck tossed in).

What will happen next? The Cheney Bush administration would go before congress and be disingenuous (I love seeing Attorney General Gonzales testify) and get a pass for everything. Even Senator Arlen Specter would not do anything but give a token protest and make empty threats.

Now that the Democrats are going to be in charge of the house and senate, are they really going to provide oversight? Forget impeachment or trying to jail the likes of Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, and gang (which would be bad unless it can be proven they actually broke a law and not just did something their opponents don’t like).

Can the Democrats actually show up and do their job?

Vote early, vote often!

Voting is important and if you don’t vote but can, don’t complain.

Today is election day and Lily and I voted before going to work this morning. Except for state comptroller it was a straight vote down the democratic ticket for me.

Alan Hevesi really ticked me off with his attitude, enough that I voted for the other candidate who seems qualified to do the job.

Tonight the common opinion is that the democrats will take at least the house and possibly the senate. My opinion is that the dems will with great effort and press coverage grab defeat from the jaws of victory. I think that the close races are going to get ambushed by lawyers on either side.

I’m hoping that I’m wrong but we will all see tonight.

Weddings and little kids

A few weeks ago I went to a friends wedding with my little girl. Lily was sick and I had wanted to go, so taking one of the kids was the right thing to do.

The little girl had a blast. I could not keep her off the dance floor and thanks to my friends I did not even have to feed her! A good time was had by all.

Yesterday the whole family went to a cousins wedding. The church ceremony was at 11:00 and afterwards we went to a reception. Once again both kids had a blast and me and Lily had trouble keeping up with both of them. Later on we went over to their grandmother’s house and dinner at 7pm at a Chinese restaurant.

Ever see people play mahjong? I mean the people who really play on a regular basis. The girl saw her aunt and uncles playing and watched very closely. My son wanted to play and started reaching for the tiles while they were playing the game.

That could have been very bad! Lily’s aunts and uncles are great and love the kids and I am sure if the boy ruined that turn it would have been fine. But some MJ players take that game very seriously and can’t stand slow players let alone outside interference.

Later on the kids were playing with the tiles. They would set up a line of tiles and pick up a tile from the pile. They’d look at it, either keep it or make a big show of putting the tile back into the pile.

Is there such a thing as a Tiger Woods for the MJ crowd…?

We left at 10:30PM and once again a good time was had by all.

F.E.A.R. Extraction Point

Untitled-1Over the weekend I purchased F.E.A.R. Extraction Point and Battlefield 2142. First person shooters, good fun for the whole family. Provided that the family is over 18; I don’t play these games with the kids around.

I’ve been playing F.E.A.R. Extraction Point since Saturday and just finished it. It’s an expansion pack and is a bit short. It does not really answer any questions about the story.

It does maintain the same atmosphere as the original game, just not the feeling of being in a horror/mystery movie. There are some points in the game that my reaction was “that’s not bad, pretty scary” but it lacks the story that drove the first game. The first F.E.A.R. game played well but had a story that made you want to get to the next part just to see what happens next. The original ending was very cool and creepy.

This follow up is okay but I can’t wait to see what Monolith does for a real sequel.

Oh, the graphic? You can’t read it but the launcher seems to be wanting to go to the URL but for some reason that web page does not exist. The funny thing is that if you change the us/html to us.html the URL works.

Nice to see that Sierra really QA’ed the software.

OpenSuSE 10.1 quirks and postgrey RPM

Update November 13, 2006:

Fixed the rpm’s. I was putting the –daemonize in with the other options. That does not work, putting it in first works.

So now I read the /etc/sysconfig/postgrey with

test -s /etc/sysconfig/postgrey && . /etc/sysconfig/postgrey

And execute


And all is right in the world.

Here are the links for the rpm and source rpm that I use on my SuSE 10.1 server.

Original October 4th post starts here.


I run OpenSuSE 10.1 on my server. For a few weeks yast’s online update was acting up. It would list things for update and not seem to fully get that the update was already.

Saturday I checked and got a boat load of new updates. One reboot later and yast online update is working perfectly each time.

I like packaging the software I use. It’s one way to keep my technical skills fresh and make my server more manageable. I use Postgrey with my postfix installation and have had problems wrapping the software. The software and RPM build fine, and I can run it by hand but when I try to read the /etc/sysconfig/postgrey in the init script, junk gets added to the command line.

I hacked the postfix init script and created a new script for postgrey.

I run postgrey like so:

–daemonize –user=postgrey –pidfile=/var/run/

In /etc/sysconfig/postgrey I have

OPTIONS=”–unix=/var/spool/postfix/postgrey/socket –daemonize –user=postgrey –pidfile=/var/run/”

So in my init script I should be able to just do

. /etc/sysconfig/postgrey

And set OPTIONS that way. Once that’s done I should be able to just run


The options piece seems to be adding on junk. The OPTIONS variable is set correctly but when I execute the perl script junk gets added and the postgrey script exits.

I’ve replaced $OPTIONS with explicit command line arguments for now but it’ll bug me till I figure it out.

Picked up MINI Friday

MiniandmlGetting a new car is always very cool. The family and I picked up the MINI Cooper S at the dealer Friday after 4 PM. It’s a fun car and over the weekend we put about 150 miles on it.

After driving an SUV for 6 years this will take a lot of getting used to.

It’s got

  • Automatic wipers
  • Automatic headlights (day running lights)
  • Climate control
  • Bluetooth phone integration (being able to press a button and say aloud “dial 12125551212” and having it actually confirm and dial that number is just too cool)

We took it over to a friend house and I let him drive me around his neighborhood.

Apparently I am a conservative driver. He was zipping around like you’d expect someone running around in a red MINI Cooper. Took this one corner with the tires screeching and got a “Please don’t do that again” from me.

The car is a lot of fun and I think I’ll actually enjoy driving to New Jersey in it.

The go-cart is at the dealer

I mentioned to my Dad that the MINI is on the ocean. It was originally supposed to arrive sometime in October and I had just mentioned it as part of a status update. I had no idea how long it takes to ship a car.

Without saying anything about it Dad cleaned up the entire garage to make sure I have enough room to park three cars. That was a really nice surprise and his timing was perfect.

I got a call from the dealer. The MINI Cooper S has arrived at the dealer and we can pick it up Friday afternoon.

I keep referring to the mini as a go-cart. After driving the SUV for 6 years it will be fun to be closer to the road. Lily has already begun driving the SUV whenever she is in the car. Looks like the SUV will be her car and I get to drive the new car.

Very cool.

India log: wrapping it up

Getting Dressed

My hotel offers a really nice laundry service. You leave your laundry in a provided linen bag and they return it to you that night by 7pm. They do a great job, but it’s unbelievably expensive. $5 to wash socks! Therefore, once I got over the sticker shock, I committed not to using this “service” again. I had already tried earlier to find clothing at the name brand stores without getting screwed there, too. Abhijit, one of the guys on my team, let me know that he had a childhood friend that was a tailor. I visited him this past Saturday and it was pretty amazing. They would make my clothing for just a little bit more than what I was paying to have it cleaned. If you ever have a chance to have your clothing made, go for it. There’s nothing like having clothes that fit you perfectly. Abhijit said that they’d make one shirt and one pair of pants for me, I come back the next day and try them on and give feedback. Sounded pretty good. I had a button down dress shirt made to my specifications, for about $9.50. The pants never fit better and they were less than $15. I went to town on this. Abhijit suggested I look at other stores for cloth and have these guys make the clothes. I did that on Sunday and it came out amazing. I got much better cloth, so the price basically doubled, but I’ve got really nice clothes for an amazing deal. Let’s put it this way: you bring the cloth and they’ll cut the cloth and make the shirt for $3. Sure beats letting the hotel wash the socks.


India has a good amount of fame for it’s movie industry, commonly called Bollywood, for Bombay’s Hollywood. The common joke is this: now that it’s known as Mumbai, maybe it should be called Mumblywood. I did see a movie on Friday with the VP of the India outsourcing group. It was one of the more popular commercial movies now playing, though I couldn’t tell you the title. Most billboard advertisements are in English but the movies are all in Hindi, with no subtitles. I had to deduce what was going on by visual cues and the odd English word or phrase dropped in the dialog. Differences were pretty quickly realized. Tickets were purchased for assigned seats, with an attendant showing us where we sit. We got our seats way in the back. It was a huge theater and I couldn’t see well in the dark, but when my eyes adjusted, I realized that the entire theater was empty except for the last five rows. I guess no one likes to sit up front.

The premise of the movie was that a gangster wanted to meet this not satellite disc jockey. In between there were lots of jokes and musical interludes where the lead characters were suddenly the stars of a music video. I found out that the singing is a common theme in just about every India movie. There’s almost always an intermission, which is odd in just over a two hour movie, but I guess that’s just another culture thing. It wasn’t about ¾ of the way through that I realized another key difference. Here’s this romance and they’re moving toward each other and the romance is heating up, but there’s no kissing. It’s a romantic comedy and not once do they kiss. I read in the paper the day before that there’s a big debate going on about whether to allow kissing on television. A big no-no here. Lots of cleavage shown in the newspapers, everyone as hot as can be, but that lip locking is not happening any time soon.

Self Improvement

The paper and television are filled with various forms of improvement: weight loss is by far the biggest, though I didn’t see heavy Indians like you see in the U.S. the whole time I was here. The others are age defying creams, various hair replacement techniques and Fair & Lovely. There is also a Fair & Handsome line. These are skin lightening products. The local movie and television programs are filled with people that are only slightly more tan than tuberculosis patients. I asked my driver, Sameer about this. He says he has a good friend who’s on some sort of mission to lighten his skin. He’s a black guy who uses three different skin lightening products, one of which is herbal. Garnier is another popular brand. After a year, Sameer can’t tell the difference, but his friend swears by this stuff. I told him that Americans often would like to be more tan. Just highlighting how people are never happy.

India: traffic, security and marble


In my hotel, the entire lobby is a really nice marble. The staircases and walls are all marble in the hallways. My whole bathroom is marble, too, which makes the shower floor a little slippery. I took the team out to a really nice restaurant at a five start hotel on Thursday. Their bathroom was all gorgeous marble as well, but the bizarre party is that they had the cheapest plastic toilets I’d ever seen. It was a really strange combination.

Just about all the marble is local, though some is imported from Italy. They make shrines out of the white marble, with two red swastikas on the inside. They’re different from the German ones in that they point in a different direction. Even so, it was eerie to see. They symbolize prosperity and happiness.


India is very security conscious. There’s a security check point at every high end hotel and every office building that deals with foreign companies and also western style shopping malls. It consists of about three guys that surround every car that comes in. One guy has a mirror attached to a stick that looks underneath the car. Another looks in the trunk and a third makes sure you don’t make a rush for the building by standing in front of the car. Now, the number of ways to circumvent this boggles the mind. You could put your boom stuff in the middle of the engine, where the mirror won’t see. It’s even better at night, when the mirror can’t see in the dark. You could make a rush for it, running over the human speed bump, you could simply put your explosives in a grocery bag in the car, or (best of all) wait for the supervisor to finish his shift, in which case the guys meant to examine the car are staying inside and just waving you on. The guys that they catch must be the biggest idiots ever imagined. I feel so much safer now.

There’s also a metal detector at all the malls. You volunteer any bags you carry and your cell phone. They make sure that the brand of cell phone makes you sufficiently trendy, take the briefest of looks at any bags you might carry and then wave you on. The metal detecting gate is what mystifies me. Sometimes I set it off and sometimes I don’t, even though I’m carrying the same things. I just imagine that they have a filtering setting that varies depending on if the supervisor is present or not.

Many of the busses have signs that say, “Don’t let terrorism on this bus.” Same message appears in the malls. Does this change ANYONE’S behavior? Has one terrorist event been avoided with this message? It reminds me of the urinal splash guards that say, “Don’t do drugs.” Well, I was going to, but now that I see that sign while I’m urinating, I guess I’ll change my ways…


Traffic is universally bad at all hours of the day, with “roads” that contain numerous craters and speed bumps for no apparent reason. This must be where all the New York cab drivers come from since everyone drives with about six inches between them. It’s pretty scary if you think about it for any length of time. All trucks have hand painted phrases on the back that says “Horn OK Please” which means that you are supposed to honk your horn if you approach on the right. Cars also honk if they’re behind you, approaching from any direction, or it’s been at least 20 seconds since the last time it was used. It’s important to know that your equipment is working correctly, unless it’s something like lights. Many of the automated rickshaws (two cylinder, three wheeled, low-end taxi cabs) have many of their lights out. Since they’re all painted black, it makes it all the more difficult to see. They weave in and out of main stream traffic without any fear at all and I’ve yet to see any sort of accident. My hat’s off to them.

My driver, Sameer, tells me that the vast majority of the drivers are Muslims. Whether it’s the rickshaws, higher end cabs or truck drivers, they’re almost guaranteed to be Muslim. He tells me that since education is not as valued, they tend not to get the higher paying jobs.

The day after I boast to my co-workers that the weather has been great it starts raining. All week I had great weather. When my predecessors were here, it was in the middle of monsoon season, which lasts from June to September. It’s miserable during that time with many of the slums being decimated. Traffic becomes a parking lot and the rain is intimidating. The rain came with a vengeance, with record amounts coming down in an hour. The water was six inches deep in some parts of the road. It was the front page story in the paper, near the one where L. Ron Hubbard (founder of Scientology) gives advice about how to get over traumatic events in your life. Sameer took an alternate route into work because traffic was just not moving the usual way. It was a private road, owned by a big dairy in the area. You paid 15 Rupees to go along this fairly well maintained one lane in each direction road. I passed through some beautiful land on either direction. There was the dairy, a number of very well maintained kindergarten and grade schools and gorgeous and oh so lush landscapes. I found it pristine in many ways. In a slower area, there even appeared to be a guy just admiring the beauty of a stream near the road, until he just dropped his pants and squatted. I always have to remind myself about assumptions – they can ruin any ideas that you might have.