Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Erroneous Errors

How do you feel when you're working at your computer and you hear the infamous “ding” sound and a little window pops up telling you some silly error message?

Now, thanks to Tsykoduk, and his ever watchful eye, you can not only laugh at some rather hilarious error messages, but you can also make some of your own if you feel the need.

Is there anyone left that remembers the Amiga GURU Meditation errors? Somehow that was sort of Zen, but they weren't much more help then the Microsoft error messages are today.

As a network administrator I really enjoy the help messages that tell me to contact my network administrator. This is some lazy bastards way of saying, “I'm tired of writing all of these help messages so I'll just pawn it off on the local network administrator to figure out.”

I've got news for you Skippy! If you knew it was an error, and you know what the error was, why not clue us network administrators in on it so we can help the users out that have to put up with your poorly written programs! Yes, I think that hit a nerve.

I was about to say something clever like, “Can you imagine a world where everything we use has error messages?” Guess what, as I sat here thinking about this statement I realized we live in that world now.

Our cars no longer have “idiot lights” to tell us if we're out of oil, now the door is a jar, the airbag needs maintenance, our tire pressure is low, wiper fluid is low, etc...

These days microwaves, televisions, stoves, dishwashers, washers, dryers, games, telephones and pretty much most of the gadgets that have electronics in them will spew some sort of error message if properly coaxed. Luckily, many of these things do not blink cryptic errors at the frequency that our computers do. How quick would you trade in your washing machine if it “blue-screened” every other load?

Have fun with the error generator, and the next time your electronic gizmo blinks an error message at you just sit back, take a breath, count to ten, and try again, because I fear it's only going to get worse.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Buttprints In The Sand

This poem came to me in an e-mail so I thought I'd share it with you all.

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there were seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
Those prints are large and round and neat,
"But Lord, they are too big for feet."

"My child," He said in somber tones,
"For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait."

"You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt."

"Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Christian Tug-of-War

Through Tsykoduk's blog, The Roost, I was sent over to read an article that was published in The New York Times called, “Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers”. This article was written by John C. Danforth, "an Episcopal minister and former Republican senator from Missouri.” and is an interesting read. Not for what it says, but for what it only hints at.

Mr. Danforth attempts to shine the light on the Republicans for their stance of being the consummate Christian party in the political battle to run the United States of America. It's obvious that his goal in doing so is to try and take the Republican party down a notch or two by pointing out that Democrats are Christian as well, and even feel they are the more Christian of the two political parties.

The problem I have with this article is that John C. Danforth illuminates a point that I try to make on a constant basis. This country is not about having the more true Christian lead us, but to have someone in power that will defend and protect all of us from the government becoming too religious oriented.

I don't want to hear that Republicans are pushing Christian beliefs in their running of this country, nor do I want to hear Democrats doing the same from their perspective. They just don't get it do they? The United States of America is the foundation of freedom, and as such, should have a government that is neutral when it comes to religion.

When I vote I want a candidate who says that they will fight for the freedom of all the people, not just for the Christian people. I want a government who will protect the Buddhist as well as the Atheist and the Wiccan believers. If a candidate or party starts spewing how they are the true Christians, and will run this country in a Christian manner, I start to cringe.

Some of you will now switch into defensive mode and think I am anti-Christian. That's OK, it happens a lot in my articles. There is nothing further from the truth. Christianity is a wonderful religion filled with loving and caring folks who are doing fantastic things around the world. I would not dream of talking bad about Christians or their faith.

Many Christians, however, do not attempt to force themselves and their beliefs on everyone they meet. This, to me, is a good Christian. The example of a Christians life is what should drive their method for showing Christianity in a positive light.

If you want people to follow your belief, then show them how great your life is because of that belief, don't attempt to ram it down their throat or to control the country with your religion. This is not a Christian act, this is the act of people who want to dominate others.

The path of freedom to everyone includes the freedom for all Christians of every version of Christianity that are among us. By protecting the freedom for Earth-based religions, Asian-based religions, and even the people without a religious bone in their body, we are protecting the right for all Christians everywhere as well. Once one religion steps up and attempts to conquer everyone else, the time has come for a slapping of the folks that are attempting to hijack our country for their belief system.

You can be a great leader with a strong Christian background, but you can also be a great leader with a background in other religious beliefs too. If it scares you to think that a Buddhist or Atheist may one day lead this country, then you need to examine why this terrifies you so much.

Regardless of what you hear, or what you think you know, many of the founding fathers of the United States were not hard-core Christians. In fact, in that moment in history, religion was a huge reason why the settlers came to North America, and why we eventually broke from England. This infiltration of religion into the government is why America was not founded on any specific religious belief, and why in our Constitution our religious rights and freedoms are protected.

The founding fathers did not want religion controlling the government in any way. All of this discussion and claims that this country was founded on Christianity is misinformation spewed forth from the shear large quantities of Christians because they want so bad to believe that it is so. Many of you have heard these lies for so long that you honestly believe this is the truth as well.

If you wander through my articles on this website you can find things out about the pledge of allegiance that you did not know, or how the founding fathers felt about religion, or maybe even how some religious organizations are striving to impose their will on you.

As this New York Times article points out, one Christian group is not like the other, so backing the move for a strong religious presence to rule this country can be a bad move even if you're a Christian.

If you fight for our right to have the freedom to choose whatever religious belief we want, as the founding fathers intended, then we all win in the end.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Real Swift

I was standing in the shallow water watching the rapids roll by in a never-ending force, flowing over and around rocks, branches and other obstacles. Ahead of me in the middle of the river was the bridge pylon where just last week a canoe was pinned against the cement pylon, trapping its occupants as it folded under the water pressure and stuck to the front of the pylon.

I jumped into the raging water and began swimming for all I was worth trying to make it to that pylon.

The target was not the front of the pylon where the water surged against it in a seemingly angry show of force, but I were aiming for the eddy just behind the pylon where an outcropping of rocks was located.

Swimming in the strong current, I pointed my feet downstream and attempted to steer my way through the rapids so that I would come close to the pylon but not so close that I actually hit it or landed in front. That would be a bad thing.

This was the first day in the rapids during a Swift Water Rescue training class.

As I got closer I could see the first few team members that had already made this journey waving me over attempting to tell me to move a little further away from the pylon. Too late, the current had me and it was all I could do to just keep in the proper position as I shot past them and soon learned why they were concerned.

It seems that near where we had planned to hook into the eddy were a few rocks just under the surface and so my butt smacked into them with the full force of my traveling momentum. Luckily today I decided to wear my 7.5mm full wetsuit instead of my 1mm “shorty”. Not only was I warmer, but the extra neoprene padding helped deflect the rocks.

Just past the “speed bumps” I rolled left, swam like heck, and managed to get into the eddy behind the pylon where the rest of the team was waiting. My buddy was right behind me and executed the same bounce and hook maneuver that I did. One of our teammates wasn’t so lucky and missed the eddy altogether sending him on down the river causing him to make his way to shore alone.

I’ve been on the water rescue team for over a year, but up until now my position on the team was as a diver more then a surface person. The Swift Water Rescue class is taught annually, and last year I was unable to attend. This year I made sure I could get to the class, Father’s Day or not.

It was a great day for the class, over 80 degrees, sunny, with occasionally cloud cruising by. In the morning we worked on handling ropes, practicing tying various knots and putting together a variety of rescue systems based on ropes and pulleys. The details would probably bore you, but when you’re there actually working on creating the systems and learning how they all work it was a blast!

Back at the eddy, the team planned its escape and each two-man team jumped into the waves of the rapids and headed down river. Eventually it was my turn and once again I leaped into the rapids on purpose with nothing but my wetsuit, life vest and helmet. This time we were on the backside of the worst of the rapids, but still moving quickly down river.

Immediately after jumping from the eddy we were in a wave-train, which is basically a succession of multiple waves one after the other. Back into the proper position, feet pointed down river and watching for things to avoid, the first wave hit square in my face.

In the ocean I am used to waves having a bit of time before the next one hits, and so I figure right after the wave hit I had a chance for a breath before the next one. Wrong. Just as I was taking a breath wave number two hit me and I inhaled a fair amount of lovely river water.

Coughing rather forcefully I rolled onto my stomach and began the hard swim to the shoreline where we were to all meet up. The swim went okay, but it felt like I had to hack up a lung by the time I made it into the smoother water at the shore.

Once we were all gathered once more, we floated down river to the next set of rapids. This one was interesting, and we started this approach by heading to the center of the river once more and crashing into the head of a small island of weeds.

We stopped for a breather and assessed our next course which was going to shoot us through a swiftly moving section on the right side of the river. Near the bank was a succession of more wave-trains a little more severe then the previous ones.

The goal for this next section was to stick to the left, avoiding the wave-train, and once again roll into an eddy, this time at the backside of the island of weeds.

I watched as one-by-one the teams left our little patch of weeds and struck out into the current. By the time my buddy and I went, everyone had made it to the proper location and we were all waiting for the last two guys to come down.

The first guy on the last team veered right and went into the wave-train. This shot him past us rather quickly and he did a great job rolling left and getting into the eddy, but it was down river from us by about 20 feet and he just could not swim hard enough against the current to make it to us.

We formed a human chain to reach him, but that got us to within about 6 feet. His buddy was coming down, and we were hoping he would get there soon so he could get to the end of the chain, which may have given us the extra stretch we needed. By the time his buddy arrived the guy was out of steam and headed down river to rescue himself on the shoreline.

The day proceeded along these same basic skills of floating through the rapids, reading the river, and rescuing ourselves and our teammates. Luckily for me I did not try to breath river water any more.

It seems I can be taught to keep my big mouth shut after all!

Monday, June 13, 2005


Michael Jackson was found not-guilty just now on all 10 offenses that he was charged with. This tells me that either the prosecutor failed to do his job, or Michael Jackson was arrested because of the excitement of his celebrity status, he's a tad odd, or that he really is not guilty.

Do I think he's guilty? My only reaction is that a man was arrested for a crime and was found innocent of the charges against him. I neither support Michael Jackson, nor do I rally against him.

The way this is being reported is that everyone has elevated themselves to the position of the judge and jury toward Michael Jackson and have decided he is guilty and got off (pun intended).

I will admit that I like Michael Jackson's music. His older stuff, not really some of his newer songs. Let's face it, a huge number of people in this country liked his earlier style or he would not have sold the number of albums that he has.

As with the OJ Simpson trial the time has come to move on. Get back to your lives and don't waste a lot of precious time debating on whether or not he really is guilty. He was arrested, charged, had a trial, and found to be innocent.

Our justice system may not be perfect, and sometimes guilty people do not get sent away to do their time, but the important part is not who got away, but who was not sent to jail for a crime they did not commit.

You can have your own idea of Michael Jackson's guilt or innocent, but ask yourself just what exactly is it based on? The fact that over the years he has gone from a cute pop star kid to a strange plastic surgery poster child? Or is it that when he talks of loving children and that they are innocent you get all weirded out that a grown man would think like that?

Maybe Michale Jackson truly does love children and not in a sexual way. Has it ever occurred to you that he truly does want nothing but to play with kids and see them playing and having fun too? Granted it sounds as though he has not used the best judgment where kids are concerned, but nobody's perfect.

Some of you may raise yourselves up to lofty levels thinking that you are perfect when it comes to interacting with children, at least until you spank them, yell at them, or even ignore them. There are a lot of teen suicides for a reason, their guardians are not perfect when it comes to interacting with the children.

So before you pass judgment on a man that has now been found innocent in a court of law, why don't you go talk to your kids, and yes, maybe even sit down and play a game with them.

I hope to heck nobody comes to lock me away the next time I am holding my daughters hands and skipping through the Home Depot parking lot!

Yes, a 250 pound man skipping with his daughters. So arrest me!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

What In God's Name?

If you’re a parent, what would you think if your child came home from school one day with the news that they are joining a group of kids who discuss strange stories of a person who can perform great feats of magic? If you are not a parent, what if this was your friends telling you this? The magician gains power from a source that destroys cities killing everyone within the city to include their animals, mothers and babies.

Your child becomes excited as they tell you that first they must perform a ritual and give over their soul to this destructive power, and swear allegiance to the power. You discover that the teachings of this group include statements that they must kill all those who do not join them. They are told that to ensure the strength of their group, and to increase their numbers they must recruit many new members.

Many of you can probably guess where I am going with this, but let me remove the curtain anyway for those who are genuinely confused. Your child, or perhaps it’s a friend of yours, has decided to become a Christian.

I can hear the objections loud and clear, yet I have not said anything about the Christian religion that is not true. I could have gone on and painted an even grimmer view, but I figured it would start to give away too much and you would guess it even easier.

I have covered this in the past, but I feel it’s worth repeating here in a new article. There are so many different religions in the world that it’s hard to keep up with them all. One thing they all have in common is that they need followers.

A religion is meaningless without followers to keep it going. Almost daily I hear comments by those of the Christian faith about how they are being attacked by non-believers. That they must actively raise the awareness that Christianity must prevail.

At first I thought it was no big deal. After all, the human race was growing up and finally reaching the point where spiritual threats of fire, brimstone and purgatory didn’t seem to scare them anymore. People are turning away from their church because they no longer fear the unknown. It isn’t the work of the mysterious devil; it’s the work of intellect and common sense.

The way Christianity keeps their flock in line is by the threat that if they do not go to church for their weekly brainwashing session, they will be considered poor Christians and will end up in Hell. The thought of spending their afterlife with something that looks like the reoccurring creature from a Buffy the Vampire episode while sitting in an eternal hot tub seems to be all it takes to keep the sheep loyal.

There are active movements by Christians to control school boards, government positions, and many other seats of power to aid in maintaining the word of God. Days of the humble puritans have come to an end. Now they are finding new ways to brainwash weak humans through technology.

Because I was working on a problem with my Dish Network receiver downstairs I ran across a channel called, “Angel”. This appeared to be a channel for creationism programming, so I watched it for a while and could not believe what I was watching.

The program that was on was apparently a regular show where they interviewed so-called scientists about various biological topics. The goal of the program became apparent instantly. Science has proof that God created the Earth!

Now you would think this would be an extremely cool program if it actually produced such evidence that would back up their claims, but it failed miserably, and almost laughably so.

These scientists brought up statistic after statistic, I’m guessing to amaze their stupid audience, with huge numbers and at the end of every statistic they would add something like, “clearly since the odds of this occurring naturally are so great that something had to have created life”. What kind of crap is that? Even a Christian would think this was nothing short of insulting science.

So apparently the scientific answer to any problem is that if the odds of something occurring are great enough, it must have been magically created. If you’re Christian, and have stayed with me this far, please tell me this is not the view you all accept on how life on this planet was created.

Let me quote one of my own articles entitled, “Does God Need New Lawyers?

This reminds me of a quote from Arthur C. Clarke which says, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

A great quote, and can be viewed from the creationists position by arguing that because God's work is so advanced, it looks like magic to us. How true, and I'd be willing to accept this if it wasn't for the fact that I take a different position.

I would submit to you that something as complex as nature itself, the natural order of things and the natural evolution of life, appears to be magical to us. It is because of this appearance of magic that some humans believe that it can only have been created magically, by some all powerful supreme being.

Tonight I noticed that apparently this “Angel” channel is the tip of the brainwashing iceberg. It seems they have 36 television and/radio channels that are “Christ-centered”.

Being a parent myself I would enjoy a family friendly network. It would be an awesome thing to have a multitude of channels with nothing but violence free wholesome programming for the family to watch together. Where this lure breaks down is the blatantly, and even sickening, preaching in each and every show. We enjoy watching shows like 7th Heaven, but 24 hours of non-stop "God this" and "Jesus that" would drive me completely whacky!

Now I may not be Christian, but I have no problem with other folks being Christian if it’s the path they choose. My children are not taught to be anti-Christian, or anything extreme like that. In fact, my wife is a Southern Baptist and my daughters are going to Bible Camp this summer. In our house we discuss all religions and yes even God and Jesus from time to time. My oldest daughter does not seem to be leaning toward a Christian path, but our middle daughter might be. We’ll see how it goes.

Do we need television geared toward family programming and great morals with less violence? Absolutely.

Do we need 24 hour brainwashing from one religious group like one of those weird planets from some funky Star Trek episode? Absolutely not.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Two Years

That’s how long I have been writing articles on the Internet now.

I began writing articles online in June of 2003 because, like everyone else, I have strong opinions about things I encounter in my day-to-day life.

My viewpoints did not suddenly spring to life on that day. Those who know me well have always had to put up with my discussions about what was happening in the world, and in my life.

Over 20 years in the United States Air Force taught me to pay attention to the news of the world, because it truly affects us all in one form or another. Over 40 years of just living my life has taught me everything else.

What I have come to realize is that I actually know very little in the experience we all lump together under the umbrella term called “life”.

This is the single most reason for the existence of my website. It is the ongoing search for knowledge. Not just from books, from real people that are living the reality that is the human existence on a daily basis.

People have stopped by the website and not liked some of what they read, then formed a quick opinion of who they thought I was, dropped some abusive comments, then moved along. That’s fine with me, but if you are new to this site I would encourage you to explore the website a bit more and take in a variety of topics and positions before passing judgment on who I am, and what I stand for.

If you agree or disagree with an article, feel free to leave a comment as to whatever moves you about the words. If you truly want to engage in enlightened discussions about a subject I invite you to move deeper into the website and place your comments in our forums.

Those of you reading this on my blog mirror site at Blogger can find the main website address at the top of the blog page. The website has recently undergone some updates and is looking better then ever (of course my view is a bit biased I must admit).

My opinions are strong, but in many cases this is on purpose so that I can either make you think about your own position, or to try to get a response from you, the reader.

My words mean nothing when they are posted into cyberspace and nobody participates in the subject matter. I have stated many times before that I am not writing these articles for you, or for anyone else for that matter.

The writings on these pages are for me to place in plain view for everyone to see just who I am, and what I believe. The hope is that in the future my children, and perhaps their children’s children will find these words and by reading them, gain an insight into who I truly was.

While researching my family genealogy I quickly realized that in a few generations many things about a family could be lost unless they are documented. I don’t want my family to move on wondering who I was, and what I thought about during my lifetime.

So welcome to “Life In A Handbasket”, and I hope you choose to stay a while and explore other areas of the website. There are places for you to participate in such as the “Community Forums”, and interesting places for you to go in our “Web Links” area.

Recently I have placed an RSS news feed module on the site, and I will be steadily filling it up with the news from other websites that have things to say as well.

For those of you who feel the calling to write your own words of wisdom, but don’t wish to create a website and go through the hassle of learning the ropes of publishing your own content, feel free to use the “Submit News” link in our Main Menu and let us know your view on anything you’d like.

You would think that after two years, and over 145 articles, I would run out of things to say. In the words of Robert Frost, “In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.”

It’s precisely because life goes on that every day presents me with a new variety of things to write about. Unfortunately time does not allow me the ability to write as frequently as I would like, but I get enough shots in to keep me happy.

Venting on the website is a great outlet, and is probably somewhat therapeutic. No longer must I annoy my friends and family with my views, now I can just hit a button and annoy all of you as well! Isn’t technology a grand thing?

Two years ago I began this site with this article.

First Article wrote:
Well this is it. Day one of "Life in a Handbasket". Not sure what I will be writing in here, but I'm certain of one thing, it will always be something... As Buckaroo says, "No matter where you go, there you are!"

It isn’t very profound, inspiring or informative. Heck, it’s even rather insignificant and small. In the end, it’s a perfect comparison to all of us in this huge universe.

Burden of Proof

In the legal system of the United States of America there is a little thing called the “burden of proof”. Although this protects the innocent, it can sometimes protect the guilty as well.

Like it or not, at times the guilty will escape because the lawyers, police, and our system in general did not do their job properly. It is called a burden because it is not an easy thing to achieve, nor should it be. As freedom loving people we do not want it easy to be thrown in jail.

When a high profile case comes along that we all watch intently, there are times when you feel that it's obvious that this clown is guilty. Sometimes it's amusing to discover that someone is arrested with almost zero proof that they committed a crime. They are arrested almost based on the concept of, “well it's obvious isn't it?”

Yesterday it was announced that in the state of Washington the elections for governor will remain in the Democrats hands in the form of Gov. Christine Gregoire. Apparently, the lawyers for Dino Rossi failed to make their case even though it seemed to some of us like it should have been a slam dunk.

The outcome was not the way I would have liked to see it end up, but sometimes that's the way the proverbial cookie crumbles.

I'm impressed with Dino Rossi's decision to end the fight there and not drag this thing on in some fit of whiny-butt rage, unlike a previous presidential candidate did. Instead he recognized that there was no way to appeal this decision to a higher court because the deck was obviously stacked against such a success. This is a good example of his intellect, common sense, and ability to make important decisions.

Now we await the outcome of the Michael Jackson trial. Is he guilty? We can only guess, but many think that the prosecution failed to make their case. If this is true, then shame on them for either failing to put a child molester into jail, or for arresting an innocent man.

When you arrest someone for a crime you had better make certain that you can prove that they did the crime. For example in the case of O.J. Simpson, many people felt that he was guilty, but the case was not strong enough, and became such a circus, that the results were not what people expected they should be.

Robert Blake is another instance where the burden of proof was not delivered. Was he guilty, or was he the victim of the media focusing on trying to nail a huge story to quench the public thirst for watching celebrities on trial?

This is not the fault of the criminals who have been set free, it is the fault of the detectives and lawyers for providing a case that is not as “bullet proof” as it should have been.

I can imagine that there are days when judges sit up on their throne wondering why a lawyer went down a certain path, or why they were attacking a particular case the way they did. I'm certain many judges have hated to let off people they knew darn well are guilty, but can't legally do anything about it because the lawyers were either too good, or horrible depending on what side of the fence they were on.

Do we enjoy knowing that criminals get set free? Of course not, but we should enjoy the fact that it isn't always easy to railroad anybody without the burden of proof being there.

Have you ever seen a “witch hunt” where you work? I have witnessed many of these, and have tried to take the wind out of the sails of as many as I could. I have also been the target of a few but as some folks quickly realize I don't roll over and play dead. You come after me you had better have your “burden of proof” etched in stone.

If you put anybody under a microscope, or push them hard enough, it's easy to take out just about anyone with time. The saying “nobody's perfect” applies to us all. Yes, even you.

I guess the whole point of this post is to recognize that our legal system works the way it does for a reason. We may not always agree with it, but it's the best we have until someone comes up with something better.

Finally, don't be quick to jump on the posse when someone is being attacked. Become the voice of reason and make certain that the investigation is not based on the willingness to take a person down instead of verifiable actions that justify punitive actions.

All of us need to learn to withhold our judgment of others until the burden of proof has been made.