Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ten phrases that tell me you're an asshole

I'm normally not one to make snap judgments, but I have found that if you use the following phrases in your conversation or in your online opining, it's a sure bet you are an asshole.

These should  be so self-evident they need no further discussion but since some disputatious dick-weed is probably composing a response already...

  • Brietbart (as a source) - if you have reposted even once, just go fuck yourself.
  • Fake News - the favored insult of a certain serial liar, serial sexual predator, serial bankrupt artist, when hearing something about himself that displeases him.
  • Fox News (as a source) - see remarks under Brietbart
  • Gay Agenda - code for "please go back into the closet where you belong, sodomite."
  • MAGA / Make America Great Again - code for "make America white again." Don't even try to deny it, cracker.
  • MSM / Mainstream Media - translated: a bunch of socialist, America-hating, eastern elitists.
  • Second amendment rights - used by heavily armed, argumentative nut-jobs with anger issues to justify their immense cache of expense weaponry.
  • Snowflake - insult used by people who are enraged by hearing "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," to describe liberals who are overly sensitive
  • Southern Heritage - term used by unrepentant racists to convince themselves they are not racists (since everyone else knows they are).
  • Taxation is theft - I'm not going to bother to explain this one. Just fuck yourself, you freeloading bastard

(Dis)Honorable mentions go to:

  • Global Warming (denying)
  • Patriotism (claiming for self to the exclusion of others)
  • Politically correct (often used with Snowflakes)
  • Pro-life (except when it comes to the death penalty)
  • Values (just theirs - not yours)

Monday, October 09, 2017

Respect for flag (from the US Flag Code)

Just a quick reminder, since a number of right-thinking Americans have become concerned over disrespecting the US Flag (from http://www.usflag.org/uscode36.html)

§176. Respect for flag

No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
  • (a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
  • (b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.



  • (c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.



  • (d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker's desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.


  • (e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
  • (f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
  • (g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.


  • (h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.


  • (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.



  • (j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
  • (k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Why I've shut the f**k up

I just looked and it's been almost a year since I've posted anything to this blog.

I can't remember when I last posted as Dr Ralph on Facebook (and in my other guise I mostly share pictures of recent paintings from Instagram).

Twitter? Bah.

Most social media has become anti-social and I'm sick of it. Even for stuff that normally I would have some natural affinity for. It's tiresome and I'm tired.

I no longer feel up to joining the army of angry voices out there, even though I find myself alternately pissed off and horrified.

My most optimistic opinion about current events is that we, as Americans, have been stricken with a bout of temporary insanity, although truth be told, I don't think that insanity is ours alone.

I don't think trying to shout louder than the folks I disagree with is going to make the situation any better. So I've decided to shut the fuck up. Mostly, anyway.

I've got several friends and more than a few relatives that, in the interest of continuing to love them, I've stopped following (but not unfriending) on Facebook. Reading your reposts of Brietbart News no longer outrages me: it just depresses me. The same with the crap from Fox News.

My resolve was tested in the extreme with the latest horrific mass shooting, this time out of Las Vegas. 59 (at last count) dead, and over 500 wounded. A friend, a thoughtful person, started a discussion on Facebook about trying to find a solution to the seemingly uncrackable nut of guns in America.

I managed to get the first post, and said I no longer thought it was possible. She said, "Find a solution?"

I said, "I don't even think a civil conversation is possible."

I found myself getting dragged back in the conversation (my rule is: don't engage). Finally the trolls and disputatiously pedantic dickweeds crawled out from under their rocks and I gave up.

Five years ago, a maladjusted shooter killed 20 first graders with an assault weapon, not to mention 6 teachers trying to protect them.

If that didn't cause all right-thinking people to find common ground on this madness, I no longer think anything will.

In the aforementioned Facebook discussion, some asshole argued over what the definition is of an assault rifle.

And within 48 hours of the Las Vegas shooting some old friend of mine was posting alt-right conspiracy theory hokum.

Solution?  Are you kidding me?


It depresses me to consider the possibility that people (especially ones I care about) are either so stupid or mean-spirited they actually believe this horseshit. And sneering references to MSM ("mainstream media," for those of you who have never had to wade through the swamp of alt-right conspiracy psychosis) -- good lord, get your shit together and pull yourself out of the swamp of paranoid delusion -- please!

Instead of writing clever, snide jabs at people (read by fewer people that I have fingers on my left hand), I've taken up other pursuits. I have developed a love of the occasional martini. And I have found several of my friends who I'd otherwise not agree with on other topics, do agree with me on the occasional martini.

So from now on, STFU and pass the shaker. I like mine dry with plenty of olives.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The 2nd 2016 Presidential Debate

I have so far restrained myself from offering any opinions on this year's presidential race. It hardly seems necessary.

I'll say this much: I had a choice of watching the debate or indulging in a martini on the porch with a good friend who doesn't share my political views.

Guess which I took.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Farewell, pal o' mine


I've known I was going to be writing this post for about 6 months now, and not looking forward to it.

I learned yesterday evening that my old friend, debating partner, guitar playing buddy Allen Patterson - AKA, the Whited Sepulchre - has gone to that place where we all eventually go.

Allen was diagnosed with a brain tumor about 6 months ago. After the initial shock, he dealt with it with his usual blend of wit and mockery. We should all face death with such an attitude.

One of the things that as I get older I find I dislike about Facebook is that you learn all sorts of life-changing news there scattered among the cat videos and Candy Crush ads. So it was that I first that Allen had passed - on Facebook. He might have been delighted -  he regularly delighted in turning around people's perceptions of  the "proper" way of doing things. I knew the diagnosis was terminal, but I wasn't ready for him to leave us, dammit.

I last saw him at a celebration of his life at the Stagecoach Inn - an event pulled together by fellow Libertarian John Spivey, who - like Allen - is a prince among men, even though I don't agree with him on a lot of political issues. As an aside - that's one of the reasons I don't post much anymore. I'm tired of disagreeing with people and politics seems to be an area where it is easy to disagree.  Anyway, I'm sorry to say I hadn't gotten over to visit him again afterwards, but that's my loss, not his - he's had a steady stream of folks who love him for all sorts of reasons come by and wish him well.

We regularly played guitars together; he was a hell of a musician and songwriter. I was honored to be included in the band (on harmonica) at that tribute to him at the Stagecoach Inn, held not long after news of his illness got out.

To paraphrase author John O'Hara, upon learning of George Gershwin's death: "Allen Patterson died this week, but I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to."

Rest in peace, old friend, and prayers to Mary and Fran.

PS - I think this probably looks a lot like what Heaven will be like for Allen.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

PaaS on the Cheap

PaaS stands for "Platform as a Service;" it's one of several classes of cloud computing services. Compare this to Iaas (Infrastructure as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service), DBaas (Database as a Service) and CFaaS (cluster...well you get the idea).

Here's an update on some PaaS services that have free (as in no money) tiers. I've left off any that are free trial periods. It's annoying to have to keep checking the calendar.  I'm also averse to listing any that require a credit card to get into the door.

This list was thrown together quickly, mostly so I didn't have to bookmark all these and remember the details. I went over some of these when I wrote about cloud services in general last year. 

And now, in no particular order....

My current favorite. You can run up to 3 small applications (they call them "gears") for nothing, nada, zip. You can even set up a custom domain. How cool is that?  The free tier doesn't need a charge card. If you are willing to enter a charge card, you can move to Bronze and still not pay anything - the incentive is your apps don't go to sleep and need to be restarted. RedHat is behind this.

"Tinker App" is the free model; you get 1 minuscule Worker, Web, Cache and DB. And it goes to sleep if you aren't using it. Okay to play with, not sure if you'd use free tier in the real world.

Looks like you can sign up for free and use 1 "dyno" (512 MB ram, 1 vCPU) at no cost. There's a slider that shows how much it would cost as you scale up.  I haven't played with this but it looks interesting. Salesforce.com owns them.

Acquia focuses pretty much exclusively on Drupal CMS support. That's not a bad thing. The free tier is a sandbox for development of Drupal sites. No support for custom names (bummer).

While all the other services listed are Linux-based, App Harbor is Windows/.NET based. Free account ("Canoe") has one "worker." I want to play with this one more since I'm pretty much a dunce when it comes to writing Windows web apps.

Google App Engine's free usage tier quotas are measured on a daily basis, and though they seem small, I have read (i.e. I have no direct experience) they are sufficient to run a small personal site. If you exceed your free quota, visitors will receive a 503 server error. Here's a short guide on hosting a static site on Google App Engine.

Finally, we look at Microsoft's cloud platform. Sign up for the free trial and play all you want - Azure is pretty slick. After the free trial is over, you still get 10 free web apps in their shared environment, which is pretty sweet. The downside : no custom domain for free sites. Still, good for testing, playing...

Updated: here are a couple I missed the first round.

https://console.ng.bluemix.net/pricing/
This is an IBM deal - they are hungry to get into this here cloud stuff.  Not a bad looking offering. They have a handy calculator to let you see how you can slice and dice resources.

http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-56411
SAP (who - I confess - gives me the willies) has a free perpetual developer account which they inform you in BOLD type is Not For Productive Use. I'm not interested, but maybe you are...

https://www.mendix.com/
Rapid Application Development for Enterprises. No experience with this one but it sounds intriguing. No credit card needed so what have you got to lose?


Have fun!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Get well, old friend

I just learned today that my old friend and occasional debating partner, The Whited Sepulchre has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor of some type, and is scheduled to undergo brain surgery on Friday. From what he and others have said on Facebook (I hate that Facebook is now a venue for this sort of thing) the prognosis isn't particularly rosy, but I refuse to reflect on what that could mean.

I saw him last Sunday after church from across the sanctuary; I hadn't seen him there in quite some time so I pushed through the exiting throng to say hello. It struck me at the time that he didn't seem quite himself...a little more subdued than usual. He mentioned a writing project he was thinking about starting then we agreed that we needed to get together and do some pickin' and grinnin' again in the near future and then parted.

Today I saw a friend post something about his upcoming surgery and I was struck dumb.

We didn't always agree (read: rarely)  but we always enjoyed talking  -- he considered me a potential convert. I would show up at the monthly Tarrant County Libertarian Party beer and cigar gatherings as the token Democrat and let his loyal blog followers meet the person they roundly condemned as a socialist/liberal/left-wing devil. It was great fun.

Before embracing Libertarian politics, The Whited Sepulchre was a seminary student - for a while, anyway - and he took that evangelic zeal to his new-found political cause.

Okay - I'm not about to turn this into an obituary or eulogy. 

Just do what you do that passes for prayer - whether "keeping in your thoughts," "sending good vibes," or, what the hell, saying a prayer for him. 

Sounds like he could use it.

Get well, old friend.






Friday, March 27, 2015

A minor epiphany, and a long overdue update

Well, it's been a while.

Life here at Sisyphean Corp has always been a grind, but in the past it always had a modicum of amusement value, as well as the opportunity to do slightly interesting things with the support of a string of pretty good supervisors. I worked hard and had fun. That changed about a year ago.

January 2, 2014, I had a new boss. It didn't take me long to figure out the good times were over.

My second or third one-on-one meeting she said, "I'm not sure I understand exactly what you do, but you seem to have a lot less on your plate than everyone else." It's gone downhill from from there.

It occurred to me the best way for her to find out what I did was to quit, but I need the money.

So last year was pretty depressing. I'll spare you the boring details but I've been in a bit of a funk, to the point where I've rarely felt like writing. Why depress you, too?

I did talk to a couple of recruiters, and even flew to Seattle for an interview with An Unnamed MegaCompany (figure it out yourself). Alas, nothing came of this, but Seattle is certainly a cool place.

And then I had my epiphany: I am growing weary of doing this. My second epiphany: I'm ready to go back to being an artist.

I did a painting workshop back in December given by a friend who's a very good painter and remembered how much I enjoyed making art. After going for several years without picking up a brush, I've made more art in the last 3 months than I had in the previous 5 years. 

It was fun but I felt like a fat former athlete - reeeally out of shape. I did quite a few things that could charitably described as okay but not wonderful. And I've had to re-remember a lot of things I'd forgotten. But I've finally started doing some things that I'm actually not embarrassed to show people.

A couple of weekends ago I dragged a bunch of old paintings out and was alternately charmed and horrified. Some good, some not so good. Sort of like now.

So, I'm not quitting my day job today. Or tomorrow, or next month. But I've decided it's time to start developing a transition plan. 

In the meantime, check my other blog - the one I actually put my name on - and check for postings of paintings. I'll probably be posting more on that one in the months to come. I'll save this site for anonymous musings and the occasional rant.

Stay tuned.

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