I have been semi-regular blogging since 2009, and in the past 9 years I have some interesting observations that I would like to share.
Tossing and turning in a fever induced dream state, I dreamt that the US had become the Libertarian Utopia that I have read about. This is the summary:
Joe Conservative wakes up in the morning and goes to the bathroom. He flushes his toilet and brushes his teeth, mindful that each flush & brush costs him about 43 cents to his privatized water provider. His wacky, liberal neighbor keeps badgering the company to disclose how clean and safe their water is, but no one ever finds out. Just to be safe, Joe Conservative boils his drinking water.
Joe steps outside and coughs–the pollution is especially bad today, but the smokiest cars are the cheapest ones, so everyone buys ‘em. Joe Conservative checks to make sure he has enough toll money for the 3 different private roads he must drive to work. There is no public transportation, so traffic is backed up and his 10 mile commute takes an hour.
On the way, he drops his 12 year old daughter off at the clothing factory she works at. Paying for kids to go to private school until they’re 18 is a luxury, and Joe needs the extra income coming in. Times are hard and there’re no social safety nets.
He gets to work 5 minutes late and misses the call for Christian prayer, and is immediately docked by his employer. He is not feeling well today, but has no health insurance, since neither his employer nor his government provide it, and paying for it himself is really expensive, since he has a precondition. He just hopes for the best.
Joe’s workday is 12 hours long, because there is no regulation over working hours, and Joe will lose his job if he complains or unionizes. Today is an especially bad day. Joe’s manager demands that he work until midnight, a 16 hour day. Joe does, knowing that he’ll lose his job if he does not.
Finally, after midnight, Joe gets to pick up his daughter and go home. His daughter shows him the deep cut she got on the industrial sewing machine today. Joe is outraged and asks why she doesn’t have metal mesh gloves or other protection. She says the company will not provide it and she’ll have to pay for it out of her own pocket. Joe looks at the wound and decides they’ll use an over the counter disinfectant and bandages until it heals. She’ll have a scar, but getting stitches at the emergency room is expensive.
His daughter also complains that the manager made suggestive overtures towards her. Joe counsels her to be a “good girl” and not rock the boat, or she’ll get fired and they’ll be out the income.
His daughter says she can’t wait until she’s 18 so she can vote for change or go to the Iraq War.
They get home and there’s a message from his elderly father who can’t afford to pay his medical or heating bills. Joe can hear him coughing and shivering.
Joe turns on the radio and the top story is a proposal in Congress to raise the voting age to 25. A rare liberal opinionator states that it’s an attempt to keep power out of the hands of working class Americans. The conservative host immediately quashes him, calling him “a utopian idealist,” and agreeing that people aren’t mature enough to make good choices until they’re at least 25.
Joe chuckles at the wine-swilling, cheese eating liberal egghead and thinks, “Thank God I live in America where I have freedom!”
Fortunately, I awoke and the world was normal.
Recent announcements by Google that they would begin to de-emphasize search results to sites that aren’t protected by SSL/TLS encryption (that green lock you see to the left of your browser URL bar) weren’t surprising, but it was a eye opener.
Quickie. This morning on the VTA light rail train, the fare enforcement officer got on the train, and checked fares. The guy across the row from me had been nailed before. I think he is a security guard, and he uses an eco pass, but it is his girlfriend’s. The enforcement office scans it and it shows her name.
The enforcement officer makes him get off and buy a ticket. One afternoon, the same guy got caught as well. I guess he plays the odds, and when caught, will pay the $2.
Another woman had an eco pass. But, part of the deal is that it needs to be in a holder with your employee ID badge. As it is assigned to a company. She had it in her wallet, and surprise no badge.
I am waiting for the time I see an enforcement officer hand out a $287 ticket…
One of the perks of my job is that I get an Ecopass, and thus free fare for riding the Lightrail. It is super convenient, and I get a little exercise in the walk to and from the train station. All good.
When I first began riding, I was wondering if they ever verify that riders have paid the fare or had used a Clipper card for the ride, as for the first 5 weeks, I saw not even one fare enforcement officer.
Since that long dry spell, I have begun to see them frequently. Usually at least once a week, or more often, they would get on the train and verify proof of purchase. Today, there were two, both on the way in and on the way home. Continue reading →
Thursday, December 15 was a day like any other until the afternoon. Then I got the notice from the Jetpack plugin for one of my WordPress sites that it was down, and couldn’t be reached.
This happens occasionally, so I wasn’t too upset. Pointing my browser to the site Home2Baja gave a Database connection error. Simple enough to fix.
So I fired up PuTTY, and logged in. I attempted to restart MySQL, the first line of fixing the issue. Weirdly, it restarted, then stopped automatically again.
What f*ckery is this?
So I restart the droplet (this is hosted on the incredibly awesome service Digital Ocean) and after a minute try to browse to the site again. Same issue.
So I once again fire up PuTTY, and log in. Now all sorts of bat-shittery is happening. I am getting BASH errors, not enough memory to fork. I can’t even log in, so I go to the Droplet service on DO, and log into the console.
… and the screen fills with Apache error codes.
A little Google-fu, and it appears that the site is getting hammered with XML-RPC requests, causing Apache to use all the memory, and essentially shutting down the droplet.
The problem was that I could power it off, and on, but before I could SSH in, the site was jacked with the cascade of XML-RPC requests.
Finally, I got in, and was able to apply a fix (also, documented well on the Digital Ocean support knowledge base), and got it back under control.
Now, I have Cloudflare running interference, so that in the future if/when I get hammered like this again, I can block it without being locked out of my own VPS.
A fun afternoon.
(Background: The “Home2Baja site is a website I created for a friend who is selling his home in San Felipe, B.C. We use Google Adwords to drive traffic to it, and it gets 30 – 50 hits a day. Clearly someone pointed their attack vector at it, and it was getting 4,000 xml-rpc queries a second. No wonder why my measly 1gb droplet was getting inundated. Yes, there is a firewall, a fairly restrictive firewall, but these queries come via HTTP, or port 80.)
Well, I have something VERY Important to say. Apparently, I have some money coming my way, as I have recently received an urgent communiqué from none other than the FED chairwoman, Janet Yellen, herself.
Yessir, the good times are soon to be here in Casa Geoff. As you can see, from the email I have quoted below that it is a Major Award.
From Mrs. Janet L Yellen
Federal Reserve Bank New York.
33 Liberty Street New
York , NY 10045-0001.
Attention Geoff Anderson,
The bank have re-opened your fund payment file/records again due to the high importance the authority and United States placed on the project that has lingered for too long, your inability to see the efforts and results been posted now and what is obtainable now and before has placed the fund under a serious threat of confiscation by the board. This very amount of $1.6 Million usd is very much available for assessment with the Federal Reserve Bank of America New York City .We want to bring smiles to all over due payments of American and other G7 Community citizens at this financial demanding season of financial year 2016 ending.
We have taken steps been enforced by security investigative agents by inviting you to come down to the bank here in NEW York City USA to iron out security papers issue that will pave way for the deposition or delivery of the fund to you. But all our effort proved abortive due to your past ugly experience but the authority hereby plead for a re-think so that we can cooperate with the bank and have the fund transferred to you.
This payment re-visitation comes up every last financial year. The management will after this very one stop further consultation to you if you fail to clear this fund from our custody and move to take over the financial allocation in order to meet the yearly financial obligation that is highly challenging.
You are hereby advise to give this matter your adequate attention, you will be convinced with the due processing going on and removal of protocols and bureaucracy, this cash flow into your bank account/delivery if you can cooperate with the bank on due processing, it will aide you to revive your financial statue that has been under a serious threat at this festive time ahead. Give us a listening ear and have your fund just like others cleared from our custody.
Waiting for your urgent reply!
Mrs. Janet L Yellen
Federal Reserve Bank New York
I bet you are totally jealous.
(Yes, this was submitted in a form on one of my websites. I guess the scammers are becoming ever cleverer)
Again, I find myself at a crossroads. Being a Mac person, and relying heavily on Google’s email products (I have 5 different email identities, all hosted on Google’s Gmail or G-suite apps), I must have a mail client that works well with the Google way.
Alas, the built in Apple mail client is okay, but on alternating releases they really foul up the way it works with the Google imap/smtp world. Not fail, but irregularities and some general suckage.
Word has it that in the new 10.12 MacOS Sierra it is good again. But I know that will change. Again.
About 5 months ago, I stumbled on CloudMagic, which seemed truly magic with the Google world, and its iOS clients were great too. But a couple weeks ago, they flipped their business model, and now it is $50 a year subscription. So I needed to switch clients. Continue reading →
Having rejoined the working world, I am now lucky enough to be working for a company that it makes total sense to take the VTA Lightrail in to the office. I live about 1.1 miles from the Cottle station, a 20 minute walk from home. Then 50 minutes to get to Tasman station, and a 5 minute walk to the office.
Since driving the 18 miles takes between 40 minutes and an hour, and the train gives me a low stress travel versus the stress of stop and go traffic.
Over the last 7 weeks, I have learnt the following.
- The trains have wifi. Cool, and it is free. But it appears to be a single cellular connection. Ok to surf Facebook, but it is too inconsistent for logging into VPN. That’s OK, I prefer the solitude and reading my Kindle to working.
- The first five and a half weeks, not once was there a fare enforcement officer. I was beginning to think that it would be low risk to not swipe the Clipper Card and pay the fine if caught. Then in the last week and a half, there have been 5 verifications.
- Apparently, if you want to score some pot, near the Santa Clara stop is the place to do it. It seems like every day I see some dealing going on on the sidewalk or in that parking lot.
- It is (in general) worth timing my commute to catch the limited express. The express saves 6 stops, and about 10 minutes.
- $2.00 a trip is a pretty good deal. I figure that if I would drive, 34-35 miles round trip, at 21mpg and $3 a gallon (Stewie needs premium), that is about the same cost to drive and ride the train.
- Some smugness, to know that I am doing even a little bit to reduce my carbon footprint. Of course, I wipe that out by driving a sports car for fun.
Yep, it is a pretty good deal.
An aside: Taking the train is convincing me that one day I need to bum around downtown San José and take pictures. St. James park, the post office, SJSU, victorian homes, and others are begging to be captured.
A week or so ago, the magic icon on Netflix appeared, “New Episodes” for NCIS. Cool. Season 12 left with a cliff hangar of Agent Gibbs being shot by a child member of “The Calling” and I needed closure.
So, we tucked into some binge watching of the latest season of NCIS, re-watching the final episode of season 12 to get in the groove.
What a disappointment. It was a pretty weak closure of the cliff hangar (di Nozzo shoots the master mind in China), and then it got into the absurd. Seriously, they are called in to a massacre on a quasi “Doctors without Boarders” camp in South Sudan, and find out that the missing doctor is the husband of Jean Benoit? Are you fucking kidding me? How cheesy is that plot twist. Continue reading →