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Archived Entries from March 2010


Father Mateo

I attended a private catholic grade school when I as a kid. While there I was an altar boy, I think in 5th through 8th grades.

The church itself had a rather large congregation, so there wasn't mass just a few times on Sunday morning. Weekly mass was held at 5:15 p.m. in the "chapel" and then Sunday morning at (I think) 7:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and noon, all in the "church." The 10:30 time slot had mass in the chapel as well--that was apparently the most popular time to go.

My family typically went to 5:15 mass on Saturday. We did that "to get it out of the way." That was one of the original kinks in my armor of religion--if we took it so not-seriously that we were just getting it "out of the way," why do we even bother going? Because it's some sort of rule?

They also had 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. mass each weekday in the Church. These typically went quick and usually only had a couple dozen (at most) parishioners in attendance (my grandmother was usually one of them). While there were lots of altar boys, I ended up "working" a disproportionate number of the daily early-morning masses because they know my mother would make me show up. The side benefit of being reliable was that I also got more than my share of opportunities to do funerals and weddings--funerals typically paid $3-$5 (and you got out of class depending on when they were!) and weddings paid anywhere from $10 up to $25 (and this was in the late 1970s/early 1980s).

The church I went to had four priests (I think). One of them, Father Mateo, was from the Philippines. We always hoped that when we were going to church that he'd be the one doing the particular mass we were going to. Why? He talked fast, and he didn't give long homilies so we typically got in, did the church thing, and got the heck out.

Father Mateo was younger, as well, and was somewhat liberal with the way he did things (to say the least). When we went to confession (which we had to do regularly because we would have to go while at school) all the other priests would do the stodgy you in one side of the thing and them behind a screen, but Father Mateo would let you do it face to face. I guess I don't know why we like that better--maybe it was less scary or something.

We even took Father Mateo to a Bulls game once--I think it was me, my dad, Father Mateo, and Timmy Collins.

The other reason we altar boys thought Father Mateo was cool was because he had a membership at the Elmhurst YMCA and would take boys up there to play basketball or go swimming. After the Bulls game I was invited to go swimming with him. I don't remember too much other than that afterwards he suggested that we shower to wash the chlorine off. I never understood the point of showering after getting out of a pool, but whatever.

So he stripped naked, and got in the shower. I kept my bathing suit on and my eyes skyward. He asked why I wouldn't take my suit off and told me that the lord wouldn't want me to be "ashamed" of being naked. Yeah, no thanks--I kept the old trousers on.

I even put my jeans on OVER my bathing suit, rather than change out of it. We made our way back to his "apartment" (or whatever you would call it) at the rectory of the church. He kept insisting that I was going to get sick if I stayed in my wet bathing suit, which was now soaking through my jeans. I told him I was fine and let's just call my Dad so he can pick me up.

The whole situation was totally weird, but I don't know that I said anything to my Dad about it at that time. I don't know if there were further offers to go swimming at the YMCA, but I do know that I never did again.

I found out while in college (actually, I believe it was during my college hiatus and when I was working at Cochrane's) that some of my classmates had actually been molested by Father Mateo. My dad had called me because the news broke up in Elmhurst and he wanted to make sure I knew and I don't know that he asked if anything had happened to me but I related the above story to him and told him the whole thing was weird and uncomfortable but unless I was doing a really, really good job of repressing a memory, that I had not been molested. Obviously looking back it's easy to understand what Father Mateo intended.

When news broke of the molestation charges, the Catholic Church did what it is wont to do in those sorts of situations--moved Father Mateo back to Los Angeles, where, as I later found out, he had molested several boys before coming to our parish. They moved him out of Elmhurst, and he subsequently fled back to the Philippines where he was safe from prosecution.

I found out today that he died back in 2004.

It's too bad I don't believe in hell.

Posted: Thursday, March 25, 2010, 8:05 pm
Mood: Relieved | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Busy Day

I guess I missed a day again. Oh well.

Had to give a short talk today. It went okay, all things considered. I'm just not used to talking at stuff like that.

I also went to a security seminar over the lunch hour. It was much better than the last one I attended.

I finally got a 10/10 on my last homework, but I haven't seen a result for the midterm yet. I have another homework set due this weekend.

My window has returned! And just in time. The heat has been out in part of our building and apparently they have just jacked up the heat in the rest of the building, and, well, it has been 60 degrees outside the past three days. So I got to open the window and let all that heat (uh, and money) go out the window.

So stupid. But anyway.

Watching some basketball tonight with the redhead and enjoying the company, conversation, and some wine. And the dang dog.

Posted: Friday, March 19, 2010, 1:29 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Whoops Take Two

Well I managed to double-dog mess up my NaBloPoMo status. And I actually meant to blog yesterday--Saturday was just sort of a slip-up from the midterm thing. I have no excuse for yesterday.

Not much to report. I had a meeting today with my friend Jeff and his co-workers about updating the Linux install on their webserver. Hopefully that will go as planned so Jeff will be less stressed about it. I'm happy to offer my "expertise."

Speaking of RedHat, it looks like I am going to go to the RedHat Summit in June. I hope I can talk the redhead into coming with but I'm not sure if we'll be able to afford it, especially because "pool time" starts around then. But we'll see.

Work is going well. Learned a few new nerdy things the past day or two and have, after a lengthy absence, posted a couple of quick Nerdrium articles.

I need to get the css-based redesign done for the main page, and try again to be better about providing somewhat-timely updates.

Spring is close! After the meeting at Jeff's office I went and hit a bucket of golf balls. It felt great. I mishit my 4-hybrid a couple of times but I was right on with the driver and just crushed it straight almost every time. I think Jeff even wants to try to golf Friday afternoon (not sure if that will happen or not...).

Well, back to basketball. Go Illini (tomorrow)!

Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 1:10 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Whoops

So I blew NaBloPoMo. Whoops.

My final went okay yesterday. I got up early and spent several more hours studying before I took the test.

Later in the day I got a call from a neighbor who was having computer problems. Fantastic. I spent several more hours there today. I ran several anti-spyware applications, but it is still screwed up. People still use Windows why, again?

Even if safe mode it still highjacks URLs returned from search requests. Ugh. At least I got Windows Firewall started again. Very frustrating. Hopefully I can research it more tomorrow and take care of it fully for them later this week.

Hopefully this week will be less stressful than last.

Posted: Monday, March 15, 2010, 1:47 am
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Grad School

Well I spent most of the day studying today. Our instructor told us that there are going to be nine essay-like questions, and gave us seven subjects that they would cover.

Our three homework assignments thus far were taken from questions that were actually in the textbook. So I am assuming--possibly way incorrectly, that the questions on the midterm might be from the chapters as well.

So I went through the list of questions at the end of the five chapters and copied down all the ones that matched the seven subjects he listed. And then proceeded to answer them.

Not only is there a chance that I may already have my answers for this midterm, but even if I'm off base in my guess/assumption, I do feel like I have a much, much better understanding of the seven subjects.

The final starts at 1:00 tomorrow and we have until 3:00 to complete it. I hope that I'm right and that it doesn't take long.

I'm very stressed. I plan to get up early tomorrow and spend the bulk of the morning studying further.

So if I've gone through all of this, and I still do poorly on the exam, I'm not sure what else I could have done. I'll be prepared, so we'll see how it goes.

Yikes.

Posted: Saturday, March 13, 2010, 3:32 am
Mood: Worried | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Midterm Saturday

I've been having a hard time focusing on studying for my midterm that is at 1:00 p.m. Saturday. I'm frustrated because I didn't do well on either of the first two assignments and I'm nervous about how I'm going to fare on the midterm.

This whole month is just sort of a pain in my neck.

I hate to be a negative Nancy but I'm having a hard time staying positive right now. At least I have my splint thing so I won't grind my teeth at night.

Come on, Spring.

Posted: Friday, March 12, 2010, 2:55 am
Mood: Ugh | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Wasted Day

This is why I've gotten away from blogging. I really have nothing to talk about right now.

I was supposed to get my annual report done for work today, that was due March 1st. Didn't happen. Didn't even touch it.

I have needed to get full-on about studying for my midterm that is this Saturday. None of that happened Monday, which is fine. No studying Tuesday. Okay. Now it is the end of the day Wednesday, and I still haven't cracked the book this week.

My motivation level has been awful. I have to stand up in front of a group and give a half-hour status update about a program that I work on part-time. That'll be fun.

I just want to go bury my head in the sand somewhere for a few weeks. I need my PRAM button reset.

Posted: Thursday, March 11, 2010, 2:30 am
Mood: Eh | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Almost Blew It...

Whoops. Less (fewer?) than a dozen days in, and I almost blew the NaBloPoMo thing. Hmm. Yes. Days can be counted, therefore it should be "fewer."

Anyway. Thanks to a Wired article about Kevin Smith I realized that I almost forgot to blog today (which seems interesting considering that it had to have been written before he had the blow-up with Southwest... Hmm.... Coincidence?)

And why would anyone ever fly Southwest anyway? They bump people off flights. They will bong you from boarding if they think you've been drinking. Which makes me guess that they don't serve beers in the air either. Again, why would one ever fly Southwest? Oh, free bags. If you're not going anywhere for longer than a few days, just don't check bags. I'm going to Raleigh, North Carolina in a few weeks and I can bring a bag with my clothes and such onto the plane as well as a bag with my laptop. Unless your family of six is going to Hawaii for three weeks, who checks bags? (And if you and your family of six are going to Hawaii for three weeks, the cost of checking bags is the least of your worries, I'd think...).

So speaking of Raleigh, and flying, and silly things, I learned something today. There are still states (lots of them!) in our fabulous Union that think it is the 19th Century.

Yeah, get this. The state of North Carolina restricts alcohol sales so that the only stores that can sell booze are operated by the state. They are called "ABC" stores. You can get beer and wine at grocery stores, but if you want Vodka, or Rum, or Maker's Mark, you have to go to an ABC store. And they are not open early, and they are not open late, and they are not (god forbid) open at all on Sunday.

I'm glad Paula Deen likes the South (and lots of butter!). I'm content to stay up here north of that there Mason-Dixon line. Yeesh.

Okay, that was pretty long for a post that was not going to be that long of a post but would be just enough to not miss a day. Sigh.

Posted: Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 1:30 am
Mood: Fabulous | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Web Advertisements

I've always been one to use my etc/hosts file to eliminate ad images from web pages. The easiest way to do it, if the ad is an embedded image, is to right-click on the image and open it in a new window--then you can see the URL for the server that is hosting the ad image.

Well now lots of ads are made with Flash, and web developers are getting trickier and trickier about how they embed those flash ads in pages so it is harder and harder to track down where they are coming from. (Usually they are written to the page using javascript, and the actual javascript code and URL for the Flash server are embedded inside gobs of embedded javascript files--yuck).

I finally gave up on trying to rid myself of Flash ads and instead over the weekend installed something called "Click to Flash," which shows a gray window instead of any flash content. If you want to see it, click the window. If not, you just see the gray box. Awesome. So if you want to watch the video of the game highlights on ESPN you can, but the silly ad with the guy dressed up as a gnu is safely hidden from sight. Sweet!

Well my midterm exam is next Saturday. I have a lot of studying to do this week.

Posted: Monday, March 08, 2010, 2:40 pm
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Green Thumb Sunday

As long as I'm back on the NaBloPoMo thing I may as well get back to green thumb Sundays as well.

Yesterday was the first Spring-like day we've had in what seems like forever. Linus and I enjoyed spending a while in the back yard yesterday afternoon.

Like usual, I have a lot of work to do this Spring.

What a mess. Tomato cages, stray pieces of wood, old broken tubs, and even some rotting firewood. The listing fence is classy as well (note the closer-to-vertical post in the back of this picture--I added some concreted-in posts a few years ago to shore up parts of the fence--looks like I need one back here as well...).

I want to get everything out from behind here and probably put mulch down and maybe some stepping stones or something. The white barrel is supposed to be a compost barrel but I haven't done a good job of turning it. I want to put a gutter and downspout on the back of the pool shed and empty the rainwater into another of those white barrels and use that to water plants, etc. The white barrels are originally soap containers for Papa's car wash--I'm concerned that even if I rinse and rinse and rinse them out with a hose that there's still enough chemical stuff inside to make using them for watering problematic. I guess we'll find out.

Another substantial project on my list is to get rid of the fort. Darren and Shannon want it for young Vanessa, and it's theirs. Hopefully we can move it over there in the next weekend or two (with Papa's help, and trailer, of course).

Once it is gone I want to create a raised vegetable bed in that spot, probably longer and wider than the base of the fort. I want to have enough vegetables this year to can enough food to last for a year. Right now we run out of canned tomatoes in the early Spring. I'd rather have too much. I have the jars, and we have the space, so I might as well plant, grow, and can as much as possible.

Come on, Spring. Looks like we're less than a couple of weeks away according to my counter thing. Sweet!

Today has been a good day. I spent much longer than expected doing my homework that was due today. I'm really sort of apathetic about this class at this point. We've had two assignments and my average is right about 90%, but I'm so used to having an average that's around 100% that being off the mark makes me feel like, I don't know. I almost want to drop the class right now.

But if I can suffer through, I'll only have two more classes to go, and then my thesis. I need to just keep the foot on the pedal and keep it pressed to the floor and get through this. Looking forward to learning Mandarin and starting up piano lessons for the first time in 30 years.

Hawks lost today. Illinois is in the process of losing big. And the Sox/Cubs game was cancelled. Oh well.

Posted: Sunday, March 07, 2010, 8:49 pm
Mood: Excited | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Fifty-One and Sunny

Spring isn't here just yet, but the signs are appearing. Cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, buds at the end of tree branches. I went outside this morning to get a package of hamburger from the outside freezer so I can make burger patties today and there's a woodpecker either in the maple tree that Pete and I share or it is on the utility pole nearby (I couldn't see it, but I could hear it--it was rather loud).

I think I'm going to see about moving that fort today, depending on what Papa's schedule is. I'm going to build a raised bed there for tomato plants. And no starting stuff from seeds this year. It was too big of a pain in the neck, I don't have sufficient lighting (no glow lamps, and no southern-facing windows on the main floor of the house), and it's just as easy to buy the plants at Tuscola IGA or Pamida or wherever and they always have a huge selection of tomatoes and peppers.

After I build the raised bed I'm going to move the entire contents of the compost heap into it and then cover with several bags of topsoil. Then where the compost heap was in the back corner of the yard I'm going to plant cucumbers so we can make pickles this year. I'm going to plant probably three times the number of tomato plants this year as last, and hopefully double up on pepper plants as well. We've got the canning jars, I may as well fill them all.

Can't wait for Spring, and especially what comes with it--Spring cleaning!

Posted: Saturday, March 06, 2010, 1:24 pm
Mood: Ecstatic! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Unofficial St. Patrick's Day

Well today is the annual "Unofficial St. Patrick's Day" on campus. Several years ago (14!) it just so happened that St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, fell during the week of Spring Break. So, a local bar owner (um, that I, uh, worked for for several years) decided to create "Unofficial" so that he wouldn't lose all that revenue.

And it sort of grew from there. Kids bus in from dozens of other colleges and universities, and it's basically just one huge binge drinking day on campus.

As it has gotten more and more out of hand, administrators and city politicians alike have grown more and more frustrated with it. A year or two ago the dumbest decision about the whole thing was made, in my opinion anyway.

Campus bars are allowed to let anyone in that is 19 years of age or older, with the understanding that only 21-year olds can actually drink. That's the idea. Anyone with any sense can probably guess what really happens.

Well when I was a student, the cops would "raid" the bars once or twice a year (usually the week before finals), hand out a bunch of tickets, but essentially look the other way the rest of the year. And the tickets were $30 or $40, and were essentially equal to an expensive parking ticket--there was a fine, but no criminal charges or other ramifications.

Now they are much more strict and are constantly checking up on the bars and handing out much more serious citations.

Yet they still let 19-year olds in the bars.

Well, that doesn't happen any more on "Unofficial." Now all bars are 21 and up only.

Guess that will get all the younger kids to just not drink that day.

Derp.

So now instead of having 20,000 drunks confined to six or seven bars in a four- or five-block area, now 15,000 of them are scattered across hundreds of apartments and houses spread across an area of a few square miles. Pure genius.

Maybe look the other way for a day and let the kids have their fun.

Still not convinced that I'm right? Think of it this way...

A dozen kids get their one 21-year old friend to go buy them a few cases of beer and a few bottles of booze, then they hole up in a apartment where they can pound the beer and booze as fast as they can, and throw stuff off the balconies, or worse, fall of said balconies. A 19-year old that is otherwise inexperienced with booze can quickly get alcohol poisoning. Yikes. And over the years lots and lots of kids have gone to the hospitals because of this.

Now instead let all of those kids get into the bars.

The bars are packed full of people. Getting a beer takes forever.

Kids can't drink as much, because it's too crowded. They sweat their asses off and probably sweat out a good portion of the booze as well. Not to mention the fact that most of them are going to be out on the street standing in line waiting to get in. The bars are a (for the most part) controlled situation. I would much rather have my kids in a bar drinking a green beer an hour than hanging out in some random apartment doing shot after shot of who knows what.

But what do I know?

Posted: Friday, March 05, 2010, 7:35 pm
Mood: Great! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


sshd_config

I have port 22 forwarded to my home OS X machine using the router in our house. This allows me, of course, shell access to my home computer from out in the world, as long as I know my home IP address (which stayed the same for years and years, and now it changes every few months, which sucks...).

The problem is that secure.log shows me all sorts of attempts from bots trying to get in as root, or as any of a whole slew of guessed user names (test, mysql, apache, postgres, etc., etc.).

I shut off root login using sshd_config, but that doesn't stop the flood of other attempts. It's not really a security issue, I guess, it's more of a hassle that the system has to field all of those attempts, bong them, and log them.

I tried to use ipfw from work to make it so that only IP addresses from campus could get through the local firewall, but I did something wrong and managed to block everything, which then ended my playing around with it from work. Whoops.

And apparently ipfw changes get flushed any time the system restarts, so that's not really a solution anyway.

I went back to sshd_config this morning and added an "AllowUsers" line to only allow remote log ins from my account. Heh. And anyone that actually knows me could easily deduce what that account name is, which is sort of funny. Hopefully none of the bots out in the wild will put 2 and 2 together.

I also do key pair authentication--I wonder if there is a way to block anyone that doesn't have a key and tries to use a password. Maybe that will be the final step.

For now, hopefully this is enough to give my system a break from having to constantly see who is knocking on the door.

Posted: Thursday, March 04, 2010, 1:19 pm
Mood: Accomplished | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Sunshine!

Well the sun is at least out today. Too bad the window in my office is gone and is now covered with plywood. Oh well.

I'm ready for Spring to get here. Sick of cooking food on the stove and in the oven. Almost grill time!

Spring also means I can get rid of the fort that is next to the play house/garden shed outside. I think we've decided to build a small raised garden bed there for tomato plants. As much as I want to start plants from seeds I don't really have a proper plant lighting set up and I think that's why my plants seemed thin and stunted last year. I'll just buy plants from the grocery store in Tuscola or from Pamida like I used to do.

The other cool thing I'm looking forward to is that it is a hosta-splitting year (I only split them every other year) and I'm planning on clearing a huge circular area around the river birch out from and mulching it and filling it with hosta. That will look awesome.

I think I might actually fertilize the grass this year as well. Well, the front yard, at least. I'm guessing Linus has spread plenty of fertilizer in the back yard...

Posted: Wednesday, March 03, 2010, 7:50 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


XP Internet Security

Well I had a fun morning yesterday.

My old boss brought me his laptop which had become infected over the weekend, he presumed, with some sort of virus that was trying to get him to purchase some "security" software. Fabulous.

It was one of those deals that highjacked the web browsers so that they would only go to the web site of the fake security company, blocked execution of any .exe files (presumably to prevent users from running anti-virus or anti-spyware software) and shut windows antivirus and firewall software down.

I was able to download a registry hack to re-allow .exe files to be run, and then I ran a removal tool from malwarebytes.

Afterwards I restarted in "safe mode" and scanned everything again with a virus scanner and also with spybot. It seems to be cleaned up. I'm glad that he didn't click on any of the screens that popped up and instead did the smart thing and immediately disconnected from the Internet and shut off his computer.

Yikes.

I have to go to a seminar on campus today that talks about securing web applications. I hope it is interesting.

Posted: Tuesday, March 02, 2010, 3:18 pm
Mood: Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


March Blogging

Well NaBloPoMo is having another post-every-day-for-a-month deal (honestly, I think they have one every month, I just happened to read the e-mail from them about this month just now...). I don't know that I'll follow their "strange" theme, but I'll give this every-day-for-a-month thing another shot.

I've been somewhat frustrated with the status of my blogging lately. Too much Twittering and Facebooking, I think. (Really? Safari underlines "Facebooking" as being misspelled by leaves "Twittering" alone...).

Anyway. As stupid as it sounds, I feel like I'm being a bad friend or something to my blog, that's been with me for almost six years now.

And maybe it will help get me through my annual late-winter seasonal depression. I need to get out and take some photos as well.

Posted: Monday, March 01, 2010, 12:05 pm
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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