Runcible Blog

Talk About the Weather

It's a positively balmy 29 degrees (Fahrenheit) here in Lawrence, and it's supposed to climb up to 32 today. It certainly feels warmer today than it has been recently. It's funny how that works -- compared to the single digit temperatures we've been having, I feel like wearing shorts today!

My car is being "inspected" right now and should be street legal soon. The situation is kind of weird since someone I don't know is driving my car down to be inspected. It seems fishy, but that's the way he wanted to do it. Weird. I hope the car comes back in one piece (that would be an improvement, actually...).

I went to Home Depot yesterday to get a screw so that I could fix the trunk hinge, and I decided to fix the hinge in the parking lot. Since I was sitting in my trunk tinkering away, someone thought I was breaking into the car. A store clerk asked me what I was doing and tried to make sure I wasn't stealing anything. I thought it was kind of funny, but more than that, it renewed some hope in mankind. Well, maybe it wasn't that profound, but even if they're a little paranoid, I'm glad people are looking out for their fellow man.

Timeout on War

Recent polls say that Americans overwhelmingly do not support unilateral action against Iraq. But what concerns me is the number of people who would support a war in Iraq as long as it is a coalition effort with the support of several European countries. That stance, to me, is weak. It says that Americans are more comfortable killing people when we have a few friends on our side. That is crazy thinking. It is plain to see that war is not the answer to our problems (seen or unseen). Marvin Gaye said, "Only love can conquer hate." But let's dig a little deeper than that.

As far as I know, Moses brought the Ten Commandments to Judaism, and the fifth commandment is "Thou shalt not kill." I'm sure there are other laws and rules in Judaism that reinforce this rule as well. Christianity shares those commandments, and Jesus told his followers to "turn the other cheek" and "love your neighbor as you love yourself". He made a speech called the Beatitudes in which he said (among other things):

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
So clearly there is a tradition of compassion in the words of Christianity and Judaism (actions are another matter).

Islam is interesting in that it doesn't prohibit killing:

"Do not kill or take human life which God has declared to be sacred", (Qur'an chapter 6: verse 151). There are two exceptions to this general rule. Firstly, a punishment in accordance with Islamic law or, secondly, in the case of a just war.
Unfortunately, that opens a loophole for those who believe their cause is justified. But the thread of prohibiting murder seems to flow through each of those religions.

If you follow Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, the teaching is also very clear. In addition to the "vow not to kill" as a precept in Buddhism, the very first Bodhisattva Vow is:

Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them all.
Compassion is a huge part of Buddhism and other Eastern religions, and a lot of it comes down to common sense.

My point in making these comparisons isn't to persuade someone into believing one thing or another. Rather, since this country consists of a majority of people (including the president) who ascribe to a religion, why don't they think about the laws in which they believe before signing on to war? I'm sure it's been repeated numerous times, but many people aren't listening.

I'm not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, and since Buddhism isn't really a religion, I can be counted out of that too. But if you understand that the word "buddha" comes from "waking up", then you can see that everyone is already "sleeping Buddhists". It's simple. Even though the words may fall on deaf ears, whether we pray to a god or chant sutras, our duty is to look at the bigger picture and help this world. Killing others will not help this world in the long run.

The sky is blue. The grass is green. Right?

Conjugate Every Swear

During the past month, I've learned a few things about car repair:

1) Winter is the wrong time to do any kind of car repair outdoors.
2) It's always harder than what Chilton's Book says.
3) There will always be the right tool to use, and you won't have it.
4) Repairs (especially in cold weather) will take 3 times as long as you thought they would.
5) Car repairs are for people who have three arms, strong necks, and infinite patience.
6) Winter is the wrong time to do any kind of car repair outdoors.

Replacing the CV boot today was a disaster. This particular "Speedi-Boot" must be the worst designed CV boot ever. Everything that could be designed wrong was. I could've made a better replacement out of an old sneaker. The instructions say that one should check the repair every 12,000 miles to make sure it is in tact, but I didn't even make it 3 miles before the boot popped off the clamp, which was so horribly designed that it was impossible to secure the boot as the instructions simply explained. As a result, the joint is actually more vulnerable now that it was before the fix.

I went back to Pep Boys to see if there was something I could get to fix the repair, and I noticed all the different "Speedi-Boot"s they have. And wouldn't you know it, every one of them was better designed than the one I bought just a couple days ago. Great. I guess I'm supposed to pay another $20 for something that should've worked the first time! Screw that!

Usually I'm not someone who would be very angry about something as trivial as a rubber boot, but lying on the ground under my car in below freezing weather for an hour while rust falls into my eyes and my grease-encased hands struggle with badly designed auto parts that don't fit correctly tends to put me in a bad mood. Yeah.

Technical Mumbo Jumbo

In retrospect, that referrer spamming wasn't much of an "attack". The server load was pretty much zero the entire time, and one request per second is no big deal at all. I'm sure the server could handle much more than that. But the annoyance factor was high.

I've also been wondering about something I see in my logs. When someone using Internet Explorer on Windows accesses my site, the last element to download takes exactly 5 minutes to show up in the logs. Here's an example of what I mean (IP address removed to protect the innocent):

x.x.x.x - - [28/Jan/2003:15:51:51 -0500] "GET /blog/ HTTP/1.1" 200 11792 - "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98)"
x.x.x.x - - [28/Jan/2003:15:51:51 -0500] "GET /blog/styles-site.css HTTP/1.1" 200 5713 - "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98)"
x.x.x.x - - [28/Jan/2003:15:56:53 -0500] "GET /blog/archives/2003/01/27/weird.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 32768 - "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98)"

The last image shows up in the log five minutes later. (oddly enough, it failed to download the xml.gif...) At first I thought it was taking 5 minutes for those browsers to download the image, but that doesn't make sense. It shouldn't be that slow, and other browsers don't show this problem. Then I remembered an article about some things that Internet Explorer does to increase speed but which break the rules of HTTP. Specifically, it leaves connections open on the server in order to make it quicker to download subsequent pages. Hmm, now that I reread the article, it seems that this might not be an accurate description of what is happening.

Well, I don't know if what Internet Explorer is doing is valid, but there are only two possibilities here: either it takes 5 minutes to download the image completely (unlikely), or Internet Explorer is not closing the connection, causing Apache to timeout after five minutes and close the connection. I don't think that is kosher behavior. Also, I still can't figure out why the webcam image never shows up in Internet Explorer. I don't have access to IE 6.0 on Windows, so maybe I'll never know what's wrong. Thanks, Microsoft!


With one simple command line, I wiped out all 4906 referrer spam hits that my site received over the past hour and a half or so. It amounts to 32 megabytes transferred...all for naught. Try again, spammies.