Six Friars and a Long Road

Posted in Mixed Nuts on July 31st, 2009 by MadDog
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It seems like an excellent follow-on to my hopefully amusing  but somewhat depressing study yesterday of the end of money, to present you with this very amusing and possibly inspiring story of six Franciscan friars and a long dusty road.

I found the information on my Facebook page this morning, left as a gift from my Facebook friend Katie Dennis, a serious young woman with a sparkling sense of humour. The reference that Katie left me was from The Washington Post. Here’s an image that I filched from the gallery:

The six friars hit the road

The article makes interesting reading. Here’s another from The Roanoke Times.  Check this little clip from the article:

So six friars were walking down the street on the day Harley-Davidson bikers were expected to flood downtown Roanoke. Each friar wore a brown habit and a white chord around the waist, and encountered exchanges like this one with a man wearing a denim jacket and waiting for the bike show:

Biker: “Well, what are y’all doing out here?”

Friar: “We’re walking to Washington, D.C.”

Biker: “You’re walking?!”

Succinct, to say the least. Aside from gaining a little practical experience at following the teachings of  St. Francis of Assisi, who founded the Franciscan orders and led the movement of evangelical poverty during the 13th century in Italy, there doesn’t see to be much point in the exercise, which is probably a very good reason for doing it. I say go for it.  Here’s another image ripped unmercifully from The Post:

Friars being useful

The shot reminds me of something that often occurs to me as I trudge my weary way along the thoroughly hedonistic journey that is my life. Practically nothing makes you feel better than being genuinely useful.

Thanks, Katie, for inspiring me this morning. You’re a treat.


Living Without Money – Oh, Really?

Posted in Humor on July 30th, 2009 by MadDog
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Today I did something that I have learned to loath. I checked our share balances. I wish that I hadn’t.

You know, if I were rich (uh-huh) and I lost half of it, sure, I’d be mildly upset. However, I’d still have a lot left over; probably enough, if I started out rich enough. But when you are most definitely not  rich and you lose half of it, you start thinking crazy thoughts.

As if that’s  not enough, we’re getting old. I don’t mean like ancient, just about mandatory retirement age. Well, we all know that someday, that  system is going to fall down and go boom. The world simply isn’t going to operate properly with a huge percentage of its population propping its feet up at 65 and saying, “Okay, I did my bit. Now keep me happy while I waste away doing nothing.” Nope, that duck’s not going to fly. Work until retirement is going to quickly change to work until death.

However, in the now  of it, since we are getting a little long in the tooth, the supporters that have proclaimed for decades what swell folk we are and what a great job we’re doing are getting decidedly tight-fisted. Financial support for our work is roughly a third  of what it was ten years ago. How many of you are getting by on a third of what you earned ten years ago. Comfy, are we? I think not.

Anyway, I’m not here to complain, but to tell you about the wild thinking that goes through one’s mind when contemplating the end of money. I’ll show you a guy who claims to live quite happily with no money at all.

You can decide if you believe it – the no money part, the happy part, or either (or maybe both).

Daniel Suelo lives in a cave near Moab, Utah in the great, wacky vastness of the American West. Here is a picture of Daniel in his cozy little cave:

Daniel Suelo - the man who lives in a cave and eschews money

Isn’t he cute? He looks like a little pack-rat all curled up in his midden. Daniel is an Anthropologist, which explains a lot. I picked up some very strange notions while studying Anthropology at UNI. Some of this mental mushiness has stayed with me to this day. Fortunately, I never discovered a way to make a living at it, a characteristic that Daniel and I seem to share.

Daniel keeps a blog of sorts here. It’s full of . . . uh . . . I don’t know what it is, precisely. There is religious symbolism and discussion – witness the Eight-fold Path dogma from Buddhism, familiar to me from my brief, enlightening and consciousness expanding foray into Zen (yes, there is  a correct answer to the question, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”:

The 8-fold path of Buddhism

And, not wanting to short-change a potential world-view, he gives equal time to Jesus delivering a thorough thrashing to the money changers:

Jesus giving the money changers a sound thrashing

The blog makes for amusing, if mystifying reading. Oddly, it’s not entirely clear to me exactly how he manages to live without money. Though there anecdotes aplenty, there is little practical information to help me through the transition from lightly-moneyed to moneyless. This is sad, because I’m going to be sorely in need of practical advice for the poverty-stricken sooner than later.

I was particularly intrigued by the story of the lady who walked up to the filthy stranger (Daniel’s words, not mine) and said that she wanted to share her breakfast with him. Poor Daniel was a bit put off when she handed him four bucks. He seemed to be hoping for something a bit more, uh . . . humane. However, she walked away and he was left scratching his head because he does not receive  money. (I’m going to send him my address forthwith. As soon as I figure out how to get mail delivered to his cave.) So, Daniel left the four bucks on the park bench and strolled off. This is not helpful advice.

Daniel’s blog is accompanied by his web site entitled Living Without Money.

The site is full of very true and seemingly pertinent information, such as:

Money is not a material substance.

Money is a belief in the head.

Money is a shared belief of two or more people. A German mark is nothing but a piece of paper with pretty pictures on it to a Yanomamo in the Amazon jungle. The Yanomamo sees it with the eyes of reality. Both the buyer and the seller must believe in money.

Money is credit.

Credit is belief.

Again, not very helpful to me. It’s like a doctor who explains to you in great detail precisely why you are dying. It may be enlightening, but it’s not particularly useful.

I found the FAQ section of the site slightly more informative and full of potentially helpful information. However,  nursing on a fifteen year old single malt Scotch while contemplating dumpster-diving and wolfing down road kill is not an exercise that I recommend.

Please, I’m begging here, if anybody wades through all of this and comes up with a workable plan for living without money that doesn’t involve deprivation on this scale, please send me your wisdom. Address it to:

#1 Cave on Nob Nob Mountain
Papua New Guinea

When I got home last evening, I was horrified when the thought occurred to me that I may have slandered some very faithful people. We do  have several financial supporters who have hung with us for nearly three decades and show no signs of bailing. Those who have left the ship have had their reasons. Those who are hanging onto the railings and singing hymns as she sinks deserve to be noted for their trust and tenacity, not to mention their continued personal sacrifice in troubled financial times. I say, “God bless ’em.” They are keeping us on the job.

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The National Newspaper Has a Problem with a Virus

Posted in Dangerous on July 29th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’ve got all kinds of problems of my own in my IT shop today, but I’m taking the time to notify my readers that one of our newspapers that runs an online version has a virus on the web site.

The National,  one of our two major newspapers has an infection of the HTML/Framer virus which is reported by AVG as such.

Here is the warning page that Firefox throws up:

The Firefox warning page for the HTML/Framer virus

And here is the AVG Threat warning window:

The AVG threat warning for the HTML/Framer virus

Okay, why am I doing this?

Yesterday, Eunie said that the newspaper site was infected. This morning I checked it out. I looked up the HTML/Framer virus and came away scratching my head. It is a strange one, for certain. I’m still not sure exactly what it can do to your computer. So, since I know that there are a lot of my readers who may have dubious virus protection, I’m putting up this notice to let you know that, unless you have bullet-proof anti virus protection, it would be unwise to visit The National’s  online version until you can be certain that the infection has been treated.

If you KNOW that your anti virus is working and up-to-date, then you can try the site. You will get some kind of warning if it is still infected. If you are not CERTAIN that your anti virus is A-OKAY, then I’d advise not visiting the site until the problem is fixed. You might not get any warning at all if the site is still infected. Also, I can’t tell you what it might do to your computer. The references that I looked at this morning were not very helpful in that area and I don’t have a lot of time to devote to the issue.

As soon as I was certain of my information, I called The National  and tried to speak to the webmaster. He wasn’t in yet. I left a message for him to call me, but it is nearly 11:00 and I haven’t heard from him. Therefore, I’m putting up the notice. I’ll make an update to this post as soon as I’m sure that the infection has been cleared up.

NOTE PLEASE: For users who are not sure what’s going on here, nothing that you see in this post means that your computer is infected by this virus or that my site is infected. The images that you see are just screen captures from my attempt to visit The National’s  web site. You have nothing to fear from having read this post.

UPDATE: Here is a portion of an email that I received from Kyle Harris this morning. Obviously, this exploit is a nasty piece of work:

Just saw your web post on the National Newspaper site.  Sounds a lot like the bug that hammered my site last week.  Look up TSPY_KATES.G via Google. Basically it puts a java script in the index.php file in your startup menu that attempts to load the virus onto any machine that visits that site. Then it adds the iframe code to each and every file on the site with the name “index” or “home”, rendering those files useless.

I had AVG on my machine but when I tried to visit my site, it downloaded the virus onto my machine anyway.  Don’t know what was happening with AVG.  Took almost a day to clean out my computer.

The web site is still off line until I can figure out how to repair all those compromised files.  It hammered both my blogs and my main site (cms). Make sure that your WordPress site is upgraded and that you have everything backed up.

I have no idea how it got onto my site.  I have a highly secure password for that the site and had not been on for a couple weeks.  I am wondering if
since I am a shared hosting user if it got in via someone else’s site.

Thanks, Kyle, for the information. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’m hoping that, since AVG spotted the exploit on my machine from The National  web site, that I’ll have a bit of protection. I’m also going to contact to see if they are doing anything to keep an eye out for their clients.

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The Space Cowboys Sunglasses

Posted in Humor on July 28th, 2009 by MadDog
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It’s a rainy, cold day here in Madang. The temperature is down to nearly 24°C (75°F for the Metric impaired). We’re all freezing.

Since I got to work early this morning, I’ll take a few minutes to have some fun. Saturday we went up to Blueblood on Mike Cassell’s Big Blue.  It was cloudy all day and in the afternoon the sea came up a little bumpy. Here’s a shot of the wake:

A bumpy grey sea

Mike put me behind the wheel on the way up. Sometimes it’s nice to get a chance to just ride in your own boat and not have to worry about driving it. I was enjoying the power steering and my new Space Cowboys sunglasses:

Showing off the new Space Cowboys sunglasses on Big Blue

If you’ve seen the movie Space Cowboys, you’ll probably remember the character played by Donald Sutherland, Captain Jerry O’Neill, USAF (Ret.). The former Astronaut, who now designs roller coasters, wears Coke-bottle-bottom glasses. An enthralled young female coordinator supplies him with a pair of very expensive Italian prescription sunglasses. Here’s the movie poster:

Space Cowboys

Hmmm, seems to be in French. Okay, it says something like, “They are the only hope of NASA.” Thank you, Babel Fish.

I immediately coveted those sunglasses, but had little hope of owning a pair as the company’s web site listed them at about US$850! Uh, that’s a little beyond my price range. Way beyond.

This year when we visited Illinios, we went to a WalMart store to get Eunie’s glasses repaired. I saw some nice looking frames on the rack and asked if they could fit them with varifocal lenses. Surprised that the answer was yes, I ventured to ask the price. Two hundred bucks! Okay, since I needed new sunglasses anyway (the old prescription died) I decided to spring for a pair.  I ordered brown polarised lenses because that’s what you need if you’re going out to sea.

So, since I never miss an opportunity to show you my wrinkled old mug, here are the WalMart knock-off Space Cowboys sunglasses in all their glory:

The Space Cowboys sunglasses

Thanks to Jennifer Miller for being my photographer. Now that I’ve brought Jenn to mind, I’ll show you a lovely shot of her taken by Rich Jones. Here Jenn is guest-driving Big Blue  in the late afternoon sun:


As boat drivers go, Jenn is much easier to look at than I.

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First Cat Juggling, now Baby Balancing – Shenanigans at Blueblood

Posted in Humor on July 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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Blueblood in a lifeline, a refuge from the pitiless tortures of life in a tropical paradise. Where does one go to escape the relentless peace and tranquillity? How can one find the bizarre in haystack of banal beauty?

Blueblood. How about Baby Balancing: (look away if you’re squeamish)

Baby Balancing - Baby #1

First it was Cat Juggling, exposed to the world for the first time in Steve Martin’s epic The Jerk. Similar so-called “sports” have sprung up in seedy bars and sweaty tropical night-spots girdling the globe. Here is an expose from The Lost Filmstrips Of Father Carlos Las Vegas De Cordova. (YouTube user mseals)

Here is another baby being balanced:

Baby Balancing - Baby #2

Well, enough frivolity.

I have to do some actual work today to earn my pathetic pay.

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The Cockatoo that Loathed Rush Limbaugh

Posted in Humor on July 25th, 2009 by MadDog
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Out next door neighbours have a Sulfur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) named Wili  (Willie). He’s quite the charmer. Cockatoos are raucous, outrageous, in-your-face creatures. In the afternoons, after a hard day taming wild computers with a chair in one hand and a whip in the other, I love to sit in my favourite chair with a cold beer and a cheap cigar, pet my dog, Sheba, and listen to Wili  raving next door in his favourite tree:

Wili the Cockatoo

Here’s another shot of Wili  in his “modesty” or “hiding” pose. When Cockatoos feel uncertain, the pull their cheek feathers up over their beaks and do not make a sound:

Wili the Cockatoo

Cockatoos are neither always certain, nor always noisy. Hmmm . . .  Why does this make me think of Rush Limbaugh? Could it be because he is always  certain and always  noisy? I find this irritating. Apparently others do. I Googled “rush limbaugh” and “buffoon” and got 26,500 hits. Impressive. Lest this turn into an unsubstantiated personal attack on a famous public figure, I will make my usual feeble attempt at humour to soften the blows.

Years and years ago we had a Cockatoo named Sysgen. (Old timers in the computer game who used Digital Equipment’s iron will remember the command to initialise a system device.) Sysgen was simultaneously fascinated and enraged by newspapers (much like myself). All I had to do to whip him into a frenzy was put a newpaper on the floor and let him have at it. If I wanted a spectacular show, I could wad up a sheet and throw it at him. I can remember Eunie and I laughing until tears streamed down our cheeks.

Somehow, in the tangled circuitry of my mind, I connected Sysgen and my disdain for Rush Limbaugh. The result was this poster, which has hung on my wall for probably twenty years:

Sysgen - The Cockatoo that Loathed Rush Limbaugh

You can click to enlarge to read the captions if you like, or here they are:

Frame 1:  What’s this!  Rush Limbaugh is coming to town???

Frame 2:  Arrrrggggghhhhh !  I can’t STAND that guy!

Okay, I admit that I’m a leftie, so sue me. However, if you’re of a conservative bent I ask you quite frankly:  Aren’t you sometimes slightly embarrassed by dear old Rush?

SO, on to less controversial images. While I was taking the shots of Wili,  sweet Sheba was observing.

Our Sheba

Honestly, have you ever seen a prettier mongrel?

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A Big Hole and a Simpsons Sky

Posted in Opinions on July 24th, 2009 by MadDog
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Yesterday was a day of tragedy and heartbreak at the office. Any time that you start fooling around with servers (if you don’t know what they are, then thank your lucky stars) there is bound to be weeping and gnashing of teeth. I went home last night demoralised, broken hearted, and in a big hurry to the fridge for a cold brewski. I take my job too seriously – far too seriously.

Today didn’t start out much better. Nevertheless, by the end of the day my co-worker, Mike Herchenroeder and I had brutalised the boxes sufficiently that most everything seemed to be working again.

When I say that I take my job too seriously, I do so with a certain sort of pride. I want to be the guy who gets things done. I’m not patting myself on the back (long time since my arms would bend that far), but I think that it’s important to actually do some of the stuff that my job requires me to do. I don’t want to be known as a slacker. I particularly don’t want to be known as the kind of slacker who causes this:

The Big Hole after a moderate rain

That is, of course, the big hole that I showed to you a few days ago. I thought that you’d like to see it after a week:

The Big Hole a WEEK after the rain

Actually, it takes a lot of slackers working in close cooperation to let an entire town fall to pieces. I wonder if they have a union. We see it month-by-month here in Madang. Everything is falling apart. Eunie has me running around all over Madang taking photos for a full-page advertisement in one of the major newspapers. The Madang Chamber of Commerce and Industry has held several meetings to which those who are responsible for these problems would be able to explain their deficiencies. How many of them do you think have shown up for the meetings?

Vehicles are not the only things to suffer from the action (whoops, make that inaction)  of the slackers. The whole area of the corner at the Air Niugini office is a minefield of mud and putrid water. There is no way for a pedestrian to avoid it. I spent a quarter hour this morning cleaning my sandals and feet of foul smelling mud after a trip to ChemCare:

Nowhere to avoid the Big Hole for pedestrians

I wonder what the response is going to be when names are named in the newspaper? Anger is my guess. Well, I have a bit of news for the slackers. The people can get angry also. The slackers are outnumbered.

Now, because it’s Friday and we had moderate success today taming the wicked server trolls, I’ll show you a happy sky:

Eunie says thie is a "Simpsons Sky"

A few days ago, as we were turning into the LUSHIP compound where we live, Eunie said, “A Simpsons sky.” I think I went like, “Huh?” She pointed out the driver-side window and repeated the phrase. Sure enough, over the coconut trees and the big mountain of wood chips was a perfect Simpson Sky.

In the words of Cow from Cow and Chicken,  “Happy, happy, joy, joy!”

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