All posts by rbowen

Kenya elections

Well, in just a few hours, the polls will open in the most important election in Kenya’s history so far. Daniel Moi, president since 1978, will step down and let someone else have a shot. The numbers seem pretty clear, with Kibaki expected to take 55-60% of the vote, and Kenyatta taking about 35%, but who knows how accurate those polls are, and how much of a roll vote-buying and other corruption will play.

Ironically, now that it is almost over, I think I might actually finally believe Kenyatta’s claims that he would break from the former administration, and that Moi would not have influence over him. However, all along, people have believed that the opposite would be true – that Moi would still rule through Kenyatta, and that we would just have another few years of the same thing.

It will be interesting to see what Moi does – whether he actually retires to his country home to take it easy for a while, or whether he remains actively involved.

I pray for peace and calm. I’m concerned that, whoever wins, there will be violence in Nairobi, and that many people will be killed. I pray that the people can recognize the solemn importance of this, and that whoever wins, that the transition will be a smooth one, paving the way for a peaceful future. If this transition goes well, it will bode better for the next one, and the next one, and perhaps in a few decades, Kenya might be able to drag itself up out of the pit that it has sunk into over the last few decades.

I’m also concerned that people will expect immediate results, and that, in 6 months, when things are still terrible, that they will lose patience with Kibaki (or, I suppose it is still possible, Kenyatta) and demand something different. If people can be patient for a few years, perhaps things really will change. If not, Kenya might fall into the cycle of coups and bloodshed that has plagued so many other places.


She certainly needs it.

Tons ‘O Spam

I’ve started monitoring SpamAssassin via mrtg. (Google for spam and mrtg. Configuration information is 3rd or 4th on the list.) Turns out that 58% of all the email I have received in December has been spam. And that doesn’t count all the stuff that made it through the filters because it was not quite spammy enough for Spam Assassin, which would probably make it up to the 60% mark. This is really quite shocking. Email is still one of the primary uses of the internet infrustructure, and 60% of that traffic is complete poop.

I found it additionally interesting that my parents, who are normal internet users, and are not paranoid about filling out forms (or at least, not as paranoid as I am) with their real information, get nearly 3 times as much spam as I do.

root@buglet:/var/spool/mail# grep -ic "^to:.*[dad's address]" spam
root@buglet:/var/spool/mail# grep -ic "^to:.*[mom's address]" spam
root@buglet:/var/spool/mail# grep -ic "^to:.*[my address]" spam

That’s just today’s spam, which I’ve been redirecting off into a file for the purpose of stats.

Anyways, the actual graphs are uninteresting, as they chart total messages vs total spam for the month. They will saw-tooth at the beginning of each month when I rotate the log files

Backups? Bah, Humbug!

It appears that the CD-RWs that I’ve been using for nightly backups have *all* gone bad. I’m not sure how long it has been since I’ve had a good backup.

Note to self: Weekly restore tests.


Christmas wine selection

Chrisman Mill 2001 Mead (Kentucky) ($8 for a 375)
J Pinot Noir 1999 (Russian River) ($28)
Tohu Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2001 (New Zealand) ($18)

I am sure that other folks will spend a lot more on wine for Christmas, but, for me, this is a *major* splurge, so they better be good.

The Siege

I saw “The Siege” today. It’s kinda frightening that we spent millions of dollars giving folks ideas like this. But I suppose it was nothing particularly new, except that it was happening in NYC. Worth seeing, but very disturbing, considering what has happened since the movie was made.

2000 Concha y Toro Xplorador

Concha y Toro
Cabernet Sauvignon
Maipo Valley, Chile

Had this with spaghetti, good friends, and good conversation.

Made to drink young – it had some tannin, but I would not think that you would want to keep this much more than a year or two. At first, the tannin seemed pretty strong, but after just a few minutes in the glass, it was not particularly perceptible, which seemed odd to me.

A good peppery backbone, black currant and other dark berry flavors. A very slight unpleasant chemical taste in the finish – almost metalic. Fairly long finish. Deep burgundy color – very dark

Recommended, with food. Not so great by itself, but a great compliment to tomato-based foods, or beef.

Friendship, like fine wine

May friendship, like fine wine, improve as time advances.
And may we always have old wines, old friends, and young worries.

This is the toast that I usually give at annual gatherings of friends – at our annual (or, sometimes, twice-annual) meeting of Sams authors; at our new-years/Christmas dinner of some of my dear freinds, which I suppose may not happen this year; and at a few other select events.

This year, friendship, like fine wine, has shown some unexpected qualities. Some, which have been mediocre in the past, have proven themselves to be of enormous depth and value. Others, thought to be wonderful, have shown themselves to be plonk. Still others, cellared and forgotten for 10+ years, have been discovered and found surprisingly sweet, and that much of the cloudiness that was there before has settled out, leaving a sharp clarity.

So, enough analogy.

But, as Solomon said, woe to the man who falls down and does not have a friend to pick him up.

And, so, to my dear friends, old and new, thank you, and may you always have old wine and young worries.

Mead and Dandelion Wine

Drinking Mead in the winter always reminds me of Dandelion Wine, in which Ray Bradbury talks about those sips of dandelion wine in the dead of winter, where each mouthful is sunshine, and freshly mown grass, and memories, and happiness and warmth.

I’ve held on to these bottles of Chrisman Mill mead for 2 years now. I thought that mead was not really supposed to age gracefully, but this is still blooming, and I think that I’ll try to keep the last bottle a little longer. I don’t want to overdo it.

This mead is a wonderful golden color, and still has the tastes of clover, honey, and sunshine that I enjoyed so much in it when it was new, but they have blossomed a little. It no longer tastes quite so green, while at the same time, you can taste, somehow, magically, a golden delicious apple in there somewhere. And, the last time I tasted this, it was still just on the edge of being too sweet. That is completely gone – no more syrupy sweetness – and just the lovely summer flavors are left.

This is truly a wonderful wine, and I only wish that I was not about to run out of it. And I wonder if I will ever get my copy of Dandelion Wine back that I loaned out at the end of last summer.

Wine by the case

Note: If I, or Bert, did not personally tell you to look at this page, then chances are pretty good that nothing here is relevant for you. I merely put it here because it is a convenient place to have people make comments. However, if you are in the Lexington, Kentucky area, and would like to participate, send me a note.

OK, we talked about either a mixed case or a full case as options. After thinking about this some more, I think that the mixed case idea makes more sense, for a few reasons.

For starters, it is cheaper. Anything worth saving for 5-10 years is going to cost considerably more than the average price of what we’d buy in a mixed case to enjoy within 1 – 2 years. And there’s not the pressure to save a particular bottle for 5 years, which would be the hardest part, at least for me. 😉

Also, I think that it will be, overall, more fun, allow us to taste a variety of things, and avoids the situation where we might end up with a whole case of crap – not that this would be likely to happen in the case of the wine that we discussed, but, still, just in case. And it makes it more condusive to replentishing the supply every few months.

At an estimated cost of $15 x 11 (with one bottle free), this is $165. I would need most of this up front from those that are going to participate, and, of course, the amount per person will vary depending on who is participating. Please either make comments here, or talk to me directly, so that we can get initial contributions, and get this thing going some time early next year.