December 2004


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Archive for December, 2004

Obligatory Year-End Summary:

Posted in Life on December 31st, 2004

The New Year is fast approaching, and it seems a likely time to sit down and look back at what has shaped my life this past year.

The Bad
Lost my job.
Major breakup.
My brother got wounded in said war.
My fellow Americans not only re-elected an idiot, the idiocy went further to add discriminatory language to my State’s Constitution.
I was forced to go on public assistance to feed my kids.

The Good
Built a decent relationship with a great woman.
My brother was only wounded, not killed.
My kids are healthy and happy and not doing stupid things.
I got by financially, despite everything, with nothing worse than a couple late fees.
I got an “11th hour” job.
I still live in a nice house, in a neighborhood where I don’t feel the need to bring weapons with me when I walk the street.
I know for a fact that my son has learned to handle himself in tense situations and come home in one piece.
My ex didn’t move herself and my daughter 6 hours away.

At this point, the good numerically outnumbers the bad, so I feel I can safely say it was a good year. This next year will be off to a rocky start for me, but should even out into something better by summer time. Now for the tricky part:

In the coming year, I resolve to get at least the CompTIA A+ and Microshaft MCP certifications, the lack of which severely hampered my job-search for the past 9 months.

This past year has reminded me how to live well on a slim budget. In the coming year, I resolve to remember this and make better use of my surplus income by developing a savings plan of some sort to defend against the possible repeat of last year.

I resolve to be less selfish.

I resolve to learn something new whenever possible.

(Ok, that last one is kind of a cop-out…give a guy a break, eh?)

End last post of 2004.


Posted in Life on December 30th, 2004

For those of you that weren’t there, you missed out. Big-time. Three words:


Some 7,600 close friends and I trooped on down to the Rose Quarter for what should be for all a Christmas tradition. Most people enjoy classical, but tend to listen to rock. This band lets you do both, in tremendous style. Many of the songs are original compositions, but they also bring new life to old favorites by combining an orchestra with a rock band.

It doesn’t stop there though – they blend musical styles from all over the world. There are chunks of gospel, blues, heavy metal, country and at one point I could have sworn I was listenning to ABBA. Add to that a full-on rock concert lighting and pyrotechnics show and you’re left stunned, saddened, uplifted and amazed. Bethoven himself would have weeped. I know I did.

All of the performers are truly top-notch, but some things stand out more than others:

Al Pitrelli is truly a great guitarist, and it’s a shame he doesn’t get more press. While his own style is distinctive and well-developed, he is also able to emulate with great effect the styles of other greats in his field. Throughout the concert, you hear snippets of Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Alex Lifeson and others I couldn’t name. Not riffs lifted from their work, but rather their style suited to Al’s music. I swear he was channeling them.

Guy LeMonnier is an operetic-trained baritone the likes of which you rarely hear next to screaming guitars, and it’s something the world needs more of. Even stranger is his ability to sing in other ranges – last year they broke into a few bars of “Stairway to Heaven” for kicks and brought the house to it’s feet.

One of the female vocalists (her name escapes me) is petite to the point of being tiny. She comes out on stage, and as she walks by one of the guitarists you get perspective and see just how small she is – on the outside, anyway. Her voice absolutely filled that arena to the rafters, and not just because of the amplifiers – they just added a little wind for those wings to soar on.

Anna Phoebe is probably the World’s Sexiest Viloinist. Unlike classical violinists, nobody ever taught her to sit still while she plays, and she puts all of her emotion into her art. Keeping her in her chair would be impossible. She doesn’t just wander around the stage though – she stalks it like a Valkyrie, all the while wringing every last note from her instrument with a seldom seen fire. Her style is infectious, too – the rest of the orchestra (Our own Portland Strings) got into the swing of things and cut loose a bit. The cellist was even playing his instrument over his head during a couple of the more powerful songs.

Did I say powerful? That is a bit of an understatement for this show. The encore included a favorite of mine, and probably yours as well. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the piece, but it’s been used in any number of scary movies and even a commercial – the one with the people on the subway singing it. In any case, mein gott do they pull that one off. The music hits you from all sides, the vocals punch you right on the gut, and to top it all off, the fireballs from the back of the stage blast heat all the way to the back wall of the arena.

If I were the Devil, it would be my theme song.

Thank D.o.C!

Posted in Life on December 29th, 2004

As of 3:40pm Pacific, I am once again gainfully employed! Pardon me while I do the Cabbage Patch of Joy for a few minutes…

Okay, enough of that.

The new job will be running a computer repair shop over on the East side. The company is expanding from a rather small shop over in Raleigh Hills, and needs someone to deal with customers face-to-face, intake new work, do repairs and occasionally do some field work. All things I am rather a bit qualified for, as it happens :)

The second interview for the position this morning was tough. The Lead Tech has an uncanny ability to come up with situations that I have not dealt with, and I wasn’t doing as well answering his questions as I had hoped, but was still running in the right direction. It was enough, apparently. Being able to talk Linux helped – he’s been using it about as long as I have, and I was able to ask some pointed questions about his choice of distro and demonstrate a good knowledge of Knoppix, one of his favorite diagnostic tools.

Score one for the furry guy :)

Aww, man…

Posted in Life on December 27th, 2004

Good news and bad news:

Good: My anti-spam strategy is currently working flawlessly. Analyzing the log files shows that there have been hundreds of attempts and no successes to spam my site.

Bad: Those hundreds of attempts account for about 2/3 of my total traffic. Of course, it’s not like I’ve actually posted anything worth reading in a while. So, on with the content.

Not happy content, but I never promised you that.

The Holiday this year was another good / bad day for me. It was good to see my daughter really loved what I got her this year, but it was a bummer to see her get burried up to her eyebrows in loot from so many other sources – it should have been me spoiling her rotten, damnit! I can’t hold grudges, though, since a large percentage of said loot came from her extended tree of grandparents. What with my parents, the EMC’s biological and actual sets and her husband’s, she’s got quite the coterie going. No suprise she got so many gifts.

The worst part, I suppose, was going home after the frenzy to an empty house. The EMC took Pookie over to see her in-laws, and the Ratboy is off with his mom, so it was just me, the cats and the hamster for a good chunk of the day trying desperately to find something to take my mind off the fact that being unemployed over the holidays really sucks. Thankfully, the roomie came home and saved me by virtue of Age of Mythology: Titans. Nothing like building an army to stomp on the Greeks to take your mind off of things for a while.

Jobsearch this week (and most of last week) has so far been damned fruitless, due to the vacation days obviously being spent. Very few new jobs have been posted, and trying to either cold-call new contacts or check up on old ones has been mostly futile. Lights are on, but nobody’s home. Or in the office, in this case. Oh, and I got a letter from a job I had high hopes for – one telling me thanks, but no thanks. At least there was a hand-written note on it from the recruiter and not just a form letter.

But there is some hope in Stumptown – I interviewed last week for an entry-level position with a company doing some expansion that may pan out. They hadn’t advertised for anyone, but I had been pestering their HR people and they realised it might be a good idea to actually hire some staff for their new office here on the East side. They interviewer seemed impressed after our 1 1/2 hour conversation, and said he would be getting back with me early this week to let me know how the process was working out. I was the first candidate, which can be both good and bad. Hopefully, I set the bar high enough that no-one else will clear it.

The starting wages for the position suck, but that may help out in the end, as the over-qualifieds should turn their noses up at such paltry wages. The owner of the business promised that numbers would improve quickly should I be hired, so that’s what I have to hope for.

I love the holiday spirit

Posted in Life on December 23rd, 2004 NewsFlash – Man shot to death outside Portland department store

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A man was shot to death outside a busy downtown department store Thursday in front of horrified holiday shoppers and a suspect was quickly arrested, police said.

In other news, my son The Ratboy was almost mugged after walking a friend of his home early this morning.

A man jumped out of the shadows at him, brandished a knife and proclaimed “Give me your wallet!” Ratboy, being 16 and indestructable, said “Fuck you!” and clobbered the guy.

Ratboy has had lessons from experienced people in the fine art of clobbering, and the guy went down, but recovered quickly enough to score a kick to Ratboy’s stomach. He was prepared for it though, and went through with his goal of stomping on the assailant’s knife hand. Crunchy noises were heard, and he dropped the knife. Ratboy finished up with a kick to his assailant’s head, then beat feet home.

Aside from adrenaline after-affects and a sore belly, he appears to be ok. Didn’t even break his hand, despite a solid punch to the man’s face.


Posted in Life on December 20th, 2004

Well, one of two things has ocurred since the last entry: either I have not had a single attempt to spam my comments (unlikely) or I have managed to defeat the spammers for the moment. The latter, I think, is the more likely.

The job search continues, with some interesting leads in the fire – one is with a telco company that another former US OnLine employee works at, so I may have an ‘in’ as it were. We’ll see how that goes, but hope for another thaat sounds really promising – one of the tech support outsourcers in town is setting up a new office and needs to staff it. I picked a good time to cal lthem out of the blue.

For those of you looking for a really good boot disc to use in triaging broken Windoze installations, Knoppix is up to version 3.7 on the mirrors. Booting from a Knoppix cd gets you into a complete Linux system with access to the entire hard drive and the peripherals. This lets you delete, replace or repair infected files or access the cd burner to recover data before doing a nuke-n-pave.


Okay, that’s enough for right now. Maybe you’ll get real content tomorrow.


Posted in Life on December 16th, 2004

New spam-fighting techniques are now in effect. post a comment or two to test for me, sil vous plait.

Ok, shit has gone wrong somewhere, and I can’t find it. When you post a comment, it throws an error. A huge one. Grrrrr.

Final update: There are two anti-spam plugins currently operational,along with my spamwords blacklist. If your comment goes to moderation, it will be deleted, however I will still get notification via email so I can adjust as necessary.

Comment away, folks!


Posted in Life on December 14th, 2004

For all of you truly stupid spammers out there, I have now completely blacklisted the entire .info domain. Knock it the fuck off already.

Or better yet, you can pay me for ad space. Reasonable rates available.

Stupid gadget award

Posted in Geekery on December 13th, 2004

Ogo is a personal messaging device that is capable of e-mail reading, three IM clients (MSN, AIM, Yahoo!) and standard text messaging. It has a nice color screen and a full thunb-sized keyboard for typing, and even a speaker for some reason. The price isn’t too high, and service plans are fairly reasonable.

Reasonable, that is, until you realize that this rather large handheld device is not actually a phone – its just a beefed-up pager.

Now why in the world would I want a device like this? My phone already does text messaging, and if I really feel like it, I can upgrade my phone to something like a Blackberry that handles e-mail and IM clients, or a Treo that is a full-on PDA with all those features as well. A separate device though? My belt is already a bit crowded, thank you.


Posted in Life on December 12th, 2004

Women have probably had this happen to them more often than the other-way-’round, but it does happen to us guys too. There you are, sitting at home minding your own business when the phone rings unexpectedly. You answer it, and inside of three seconds you know for certain that the caller is of the opposite sex, they are lonely, and they are drunk. And no, you do not have an interest in them romantically.

Tonight’s call was from one of the gals in the job-search class I am in, ostensibly calling me so that I could inform the proper people tomorow that she may not be there because she has a viciously sparained ankle. Being the organized slob that I am, some quick paper-shuffling finds me the number she is supposed to call, and I think I’m in the clear.

No such luck. She goes on for a few minutes about how surprised she was to not find me Friday (I was home tending to a sick Pookster) because we’ve both had a perfect attendance so far and how much she missed me. (Groan) I explain why I was gone, and almost have her off the phone when she suddenly zooms back to high-school days and says “oh wait, someone else wants to meet you” and hands the phone off. (Groan again)

I now find myself talking to her 14-year-old daughter. (what the…?!)

She at least, is not drunk, and seems to be familiar with these circumstances. Over the next minute or so, however, I realize that this girl’s mother has been going on about me to all of her friends and family for the past couple of weeks. (Groan the third) On top of that, when the phone gets handed back to the gal in question, she goes on about how her roomate is going to get them internet service, and I just have to come over and set it up for them.

Kill me now.