Monday, July 21, 2008

A Moth to a Man and Back

I walk in from the backyard and a moth flies, through the air above me, into the house. After I close the door, I notice the moth so I open the door again to let the moth fly away. Which it does - only to return before I shut the door again.

Stay out, little mothie. What you wanna get trapped again? Or did you come back to say thanks?

And the moth flies away.

Your welcome.

Enjoy Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Most Recent IT Reality

I work on a Toshiba Tecra laptop from home. In 2004, Sun Microsystems gave me this machine and onto it loaded their proprietary iWork (now referred to as OpenWork) Client. They also gave me a brand new, shrink-wrapped and all, installation disk (which I put away so I wouldn't lose). I've been happily punching in (using IPsec Punchin VPN) with this computer using the Java Desktop System version of Solaris 10 and a GNOME environment for four years now.

Two years ago, the Northern California Punchin servers were moved, upgraded, and updated and everyone who used the servers was asked to download and install the new Punchin software. Acchh, I didn't need to, I decided; I'll just punchin to Broomfield or South Carolina or even...Australia! (I've been there you know.) You see, in order to install new software on my laptop, I have to get a one-time root password. You call IT and they give it to you over the phone. But you have to call IT - and my previous experiences with IT had not always been the most, how shall I say, productive. So I decided that, as long as I could punchin somewhere, I was OK.

A few weeks back I started having screen redraw issues. The Broomfield server is notorious for going down and, although I did use other servers when necessary, I noticed ghosting, hanging, and just plain waiting when I opened a session and tried to do something. So I decided it was time to take the plunge and upgrade my Punchin packages.

So I dialed IT and found, after reaching an actual person, that the gentleman I spoke with was adamant in his refusal to give me a one-time password. After ten minutes of explanation on my part (and I know how to explain) he still said he couldn't do it. But, maybe his manager could. She got on the line and told me that my laptop and configuration was no longer supported.

Excuse me. I have a Sun-purchased laptop with a Sun-designed operating system and Sun software of all kinds and you are telling me that that you can't give me a one-time password because my configuration is no longer supported?

No, I can not. But you don't need root password to install those packages. You can use the iWork Update Tool.

Uh...the Update Tool is pointing to a version that is a year old. I want to install the latest version from 2008.

Well, I can't give you a one-time root password but I'm sending you a link that might be helpful.

I have this link already but I can't use it because I don't have root access - which I can get with a one-time root password.

They changed the procedure.

OK. I think we are through here then.

What do you want me to do with the ticket? (Gotta fix the ticket.)

Do what you want with it. It wasn't able to solve my problem so it doesn't matter to me. Thank you. Goodbye. (I'm from New York.)

She called me back in a few minutes to inform me that my ticket had been passed over to GRC deviation. I wanted to say What the hell is GRC deviation? but I just thanked her and hung up. I have yet to hear from GRC deviation.

Here's a mid-entry musical moment. It's Todd Rundgren and there's no movement in the video; just some musical accompaniment as you continue reading.

Not knowing how to begin to obtain root access, I rolled up my sleeves to find out. And who did I turn to in this dire hour but the super heroes over at the ipsec-punchin-interest alias, a mailing list for those who need information regarding the Punchin client. Man, I was shooting email off left and right all day long.

7:19 amSend first email to the ipsec'ies telling them that IT said I did not need to have root access to install these new Punchin packages. Was that correct?
7:25 amReceive a reply telling me to get a second opinion. An ipsec'ie wrote, "This is clearly wrong and shows a complete lack of understanding of Solaris packaging, let alone Punchin."
8:00 amSend my second opinion in an email to IT Services Feedback - from whom I still have not heard. (UPDATE 6/16: Received an email this morning telling me I could use the iWork Update Tool - oh? - if the iWork Client was supported - ooohhhh. ...if you wish to keep the the current iWork install, you will need to take over control of the root password and remove the One Time Password scheme [ITotpclient package - see 9:12 AM] that is currently in place... I could not find clear instructions on how to [due this]. There was an action item in the email for a cc'ed recipient to write something up on how to do this.)
9:12 amLearn from ipsec'ie that I need to remove the ITotpclient package using my original installation disk. Uh oh.
11:00 amFind the installation disk (brand, new, shrink-wrapped and all) and, deep in the bowels of a separate email thread also from the same alias, the reason my laptop would not boot from it (internal only link). It's a Toshiba thing that I was able to conquer by turning on the laptop and pushing the F12 button.
11:05 amGet root access via installation disk and attempt to change the root password by using passwd.
11:06 ampasswd fails.

Unexpected failure, Password database unchanged
Permission denied.

An ipsec'ie responds, "As opposed to an expected failure. You've got a strange system there."
12:27 pmDefine my final 2 options:

  • Modify the root password in the shadow file

  • Modify my user permissions in the user_attr file
2:05 pmReceive email regarding modification of the shadow file - it might be too risky. Decide the last option which would allow me to emulate root by prepending each command I execute with pfexec was the safest bet.
2:27 pmDon't ask me how, don't ask me why. For the umpteenth time, I boot from the installation disk to try to get the hard drive mounted using the installation disk root account. I leave the room to make a sandwich before I pass out and come back to a screen I had never seen before. I get to the same installation disk root account from a different way and, lo and behold, I am now able to mount the hard disk.
2:30 pmRemove one-time root password package, ITotpclient.
2:38 pmChanged the user_attr file by adding SOFTWARE INSTALLATION and PRIMARY ADMINISTRATOR to my profiles thus, giving me the power to emulate root and add or remove packages.
2:47 pmLog into the actual laptop. Check that user_attr still had my permissions defined. Lookin' good.
3:05 pmAttempts at removing the older Punchin packages fail until I realize the ones I had on my computer had different names from the names used in the procedure I was following. Successfully remove the two packages. (Duh.)
3:17 pmSearch to ultimately find that the pkgadd error I was getting was due to the lack of room in the default /var/spool directory. (Don't ask me.) Point the command to my own /Download directory and, good golly Miss Molly, the packages successfully add. Omigod, is Punchin installed?
3:29 pmFind myself punched in to a Santa Clara server and send a note to the ipsec'ies thanking them for their help.

Most of the questions I asked of the ipsec'ies had nothing to do with Punchin but the info kept coming. I spent the day sending out emails with Subjects like SUCCESS A LITTLE and Root in Shadow File? and the ipsec'ies were there to witness, cheer, and, most of all, help. So, in admiration and more thanks, here's a cheer from the 80s for those on the ipsec-punchin-interest alias: Toni Basil and Mickey. Whenever you hear the titular name, replace it with ipsec-ie.

I'll let you know if all this solved my initial redraw problems.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The 5 Queens on the N Word

This morning, five queens discussed Jesse Jackson's first-ever use of the N word in private. The world is stunned.

Let's face it, honkies. They can use it if they want. We can't. Ever.

Anyway, this was the scene on live television:

  • The Dreadlock Queen uses the N word to get the Blonde Queen to ease up on her desire to force her blonde-non-use of the evil word on everyone.

  • The Comedy Queen used it with her family, uses it with her family, and will no doubt continue this trend in the future with her family but she don't want to hear it coming from my mouth.

  • If you listen closely, the Beautifully (and I mean that) Preserved Queen errs on the side of blonde fascism. (See first bullet.)

  • The Italian Queen ends it all with a crack, adding zero substance to the roundtable.

And it's riveting TV.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Elizabeth Dole: She's Got The Touch!

I have always hated Elizabeth Dole until today when I saw that she also wants Jesse Helms to roll over in his grave. The Stepford Senator is attempting to rename the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008... honor Jesse Helms!

Well, this little move has taken the internet media by storm because of Monsieur Helms' history of bigotry. I say, with hand circles and everything, Go, 'Lizbeth. Go, 'Lizbeth.

Photo Info

Jesse Helms' history speaks for itself, if anyone cares to delve into it for a well-reviewed biography or an internet fan site. The naming of a bill is, at most, a footnote. When I first read the story I found it fascinating that North Carolina Barbie assumed naming the bill after the corpsified senator would honor him; my assumption would be that Helms would DIE (if he weren't already dead) before he'd have his name put on an AIDS bill. So, if my assumption is correct and if the amendment is NOT rejected, till the end of eternity (or our money - whichever comes first), Helms will have his name on an AIDS bill. Reads like sweet revenge to me. And it's a hell of a lot cheaper than building another library named after some wiener politician.

Elizabeth Dole, today you got The Touch - as performed by Kim Wilde. (Tomorrow...probably not so much again though.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bill O'Reilly: Is It Live or Caricature?

In response to the story of Bill O'Reilly dismissing Fox and Friends image manipulation of the head shots of two New York Times reporters as caricature, I decided to do some digging to negate his point. You see, the talking suppository likened the subtly corrosive and unacknowledged use of Photoshop filters by the talk/news/blonde show to a caricature of many of his own heads that had earlier been published by the New York Times. Herewith is the caricature - that's air quotes, Bill - that was published by the paper.

And here is my research: a montage of actual photographs of the bombastic cloudmouth. And in a spasm of sisterly generosity I am declaring that two of the photographs in the montage were vertically reflected to better mimic the original illustration. (Ohhhhh, does that make those two pictures caricatures? Or just pictures where the part in your hair is on the wrong side?)

The illustration's not so much a caricature now, is it, Bill? (Here are the two pieces of art side by side.) Looks like something for your office; like a Warhol.

The worst part of this project was having to look at this guy's punim until the montage was finished - that's Yiddish, Bill. What a baby. Wahh! Wahh!

And finally here is the old Memorex commercial (to which the title alludes) with Ella Fitzgerald and Chuck Mangione. Why? Because I don't want the last thing someone takes away from this read to be Bill O'Reilly's punim.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Hell just might've frozen over yesterday (July 4th, 2008) when the four members of the super group came together for the Swedish premiere of Mamma Mia, the ABBA film musical. Hasn't happened in over twenty years! Unfortunately, there was not one picture found that featured the four members alone.

Benny Andersson, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Meryl, Agnetha, Frida, Christine Baranski, Colin Firth, screenwriter Catherine Johnson, director Phyllida Lloyd, producer Judy Craymer, Bjorn Ulvaeus

Meryl Streep, Agnetha Faltskog, Anna-frid (Frida) Lyngstad, Christine Baranski


Agnetha, Meryl, Frida

Agnetha, Meryl, Frida

Pierce, Frida

Pierce, Amanda, Colin


Agnetha, Meryl, Frida

Agnetha, Meryl, Frida

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The ABBA Connection

For those who don't know - I have a connection to ABBA. In 1994, I began the first ever web site devoted to the Swedish pop band, ABBA (as a means to learn HTML for those fascinated by that sort of stuff). And, in 1996, I met Benny and Bjorn in Minneapolis of all places. In honor of the summer release of Mamma Mia here's the group's music video for the title tune (mysteriously aped in Muriel's Wedding for Muriel and Rhonda's karaoke performance of...Waterloo?).

And here's the trailer for the film. Meryl Streep (sounding great on the title tune), Julie Walters, and an uncredited (?) Christine Baranski - what a trio!!

I'm having fun already.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Bride's Side Revisited

So The Bride's Side was rejected for a staged reading by the Colorado Theatre Guild's New Venture Series. I was disappointed by the rejection but not by the judge's positive comments; they are similar to what I have received from other submissions.

  • Judge A:

    Some funny characterizations; great dialogue - although the people seem to be somewhat stereotypical, especially at first.

    Act 1 Scene 2 completely un-stage-able. Has to be a screenplay to get the jokes, etc. Scene 3 impossible to stage nude scene. Cat and dog should not be on stage,and while the cat is supposed to be a trick of lighting, it doesn’t make sense to have one animal real and the other an illusion.

    You're kidding me... BUTTERFLIES on stage? NOT stageable.

    Reminds me of Seinfeld meets Will and Grace. The ending is a bit worth it and well done. The play needs editing; there are typos. Feels like it hasn’t been workshopped.

  • Judge B:

    There is only one stage in Denver big enough to handle two functional cars on stage--the Buell (if they can land a helicopter, they can drive two cars.) Unfortunately the Buell will never do a Colorado playwright. I just don’t see this being done as a stage play. Even at the Buell, we wouldn’t be able to see the actors inside the cars well enough. There are just too many sets, characters, technical problems to allow this to be a stage play. But I don’t think it would work to simply take out all the scenes, etc. This just feels like a movie beginning to end.

  • Judge C:

    The dialogue flows nicely. I like the characters, and they each have a distinct voice. Parts are very funny. But as a movie, not a staged reading.

Impossible to stage a nude scene? Try telling that to Anthony Schaeffer (Equus) and other playwrights who've managed not only to write them but to get them staged! (Wasn't it Barbra Streisand in Yentl who said, "Nothing is impossible"?) And personally, I think a judge who says unstageable is not using their imagination.

Anyway, there you have it. And here, for the first time anywhere, is a video snippet of the November 5th reading. Enjoy!

Now stop drooling, you'll see the whole thing on Broadway soon enough.