All posts by rbowen

Wine cellar!

My business partner got me a Sunbeam 4.6 cu.ft wine cooler/cellar/refrigeration unit. I was just complaining that I was out of storage space, and when I walked into the office today, there it was sitting next to my desk. Wow. Plenty of space for what I have, and room to grow. Smoked glass front, so that I can see what’s in there – maybe even read the bottle tags. This is one of the nicest Christmas presents that I have gotten for many years.

LPLUG Christmas party

Today was the LPLUG Christmas party, which was, I think, a big success. It was well attended, and the speechifying did not drag on too long.

We also had a GPG key signing. Only 4 people participated, but others looked on curiously, which was, actually, the main purpose – to get people interested, asking questions, etc., so that next time we do this, we’ll have wider participation. Perhaps this could even be a regular part of meetings. It’s less time consuming when people know what is going on, and what they gain by having their key signed, and by signing others’ keys.

Spam filtering

This needs to be archived somewhere, or I won’t know how to do it next time.

OK, first of all, yes, I am running Sendmail. I have no particular animosity towards moving to postfix, or anything else for that matter, I have merely lacked the time. I suppose, however, that i have now spent more time on wrestling with Sendmail than it would have taken to migrate. That’s neither here nor there.

Note to self: Guy- on #apache will help integrating qmail with spamassassin if I decide to go that way.

The problem that I am trying to solve is spam filtering. Here’s the solution that I have in place at the moment.

I have two kind of email addresses – those that actually go to a local account, and those that are immediately forwarded out via an /etc/aliases entry. I currently have a good solution for the former, and a functional-but-annoying solution for the latter.

First, install spamassassin. It is at and is easy to install.

Second, have sendmail call spamassassin on all incoming email. This is accomplished, at least in my current scenario, via a /etc/procmailrc file containing the following:


  | spamc -u $LOGNAME -s 2048000

  * ^X-Spam-Status: Yes
      LOG="RECIPE: Blocked by SpamAssassin$NL"


This causes spamc to run as the user receiving the email. The -s specifies a maximum message size – larger messages are just passed through. This cuts down on enormous memory usage.

This causes all incoming email to get piped off through the spam filter. Note that spamd needs to be running for this to work.


For non-local accounts, this is harder. That is, for addresses that just have a forwarding entry in /etc/aliases, it seems that sendmail runs the forwarding phase before it gets to the procmail phase, so those addresses don’t get filtered. Here’s my solution, although I am *SURE* that there is a more elegant way to do this.

For these users, I’ve actually created a user acount. (I know, I know!) and in their home directory, I have the following .procmailrc file:



  * ^X-Spam-Status: Yes

  * ^To.*

Now, I *know* there’s got to be a better way to do this, so I’m waiting for all you find people to email me and tell me about it.

And, again for my own records, here’s what Guy- on #apache recommended

<Guy-> DrBacchus: i.e. something like |sh -c ' procmail -someswitch /etc/filter/procmailrc' or suchlike

Buy Nothing Christmas

Don’t dismiss it as a gimmick. This is worth reading, and worth thinking about, even if you do nothing about it.

I’ve been progressively more disgusted with our national obsession for buying gifts at a drop of a hat – not that it’s bad to give gifts, but that we are *obliged* to do so, and that we teach our kids to expect it, rather than teaching them to be surprised by the blessings that every day offers.

Yes, these people are strange, but that’s sort of the point. This should *not* be strange. Learn to see the wonder in every-day life, OK? I know it is there, and I would like to start seeing it again. This may involve doing some unconventional things, since the conventional things are often just plain wrong-minded.

Other wine blogs

I’ve located a number of other wine blogs. They all seem to be somewhat infrequent, but most of them seem better informed than I, so worth looking at. Here are some of them:

I’m sure there are others.

Ca’ del Solo, 2001 Big House White

The Ca’ del Solo Big House White is unusual for a number of reasons.

First of all, I have *never* had a disappointing wine from Ca’ de Solo, or their other label, Bonny Doon. Everything that comes out of there is unusual, unconventional, and wonderful.

The Big House White caught my eye because the Big House Red is wonderful, so I figured this would be too.

The bottle has a screw-top, which I actually did not notice until after I had bought it. It comes with a little pamphlet explaining why this is a good thing. Very interesting. And it has an amusing label, as do all the wines from this winery. This label features a picture of the Big House, with an escape in progress, and the getaway car speeding off.

And the wine itself is a rather unconventional blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Grigio.

I tasted it in less than condusive conditions, but even then it was intriguing. It is somewhat tangy, and had a medium finish with various melons, tropical fruit, and citrus hanging around once everything else fades. My initial impression was that it had rather more oak than I care for, but tasting it again now, I’m not really finding that any more, so this might have had more to do with what I was tasting it with.

The nose is a little hard to pin down. You can catch traces of all of the grapes in it, with the fruit of a riesling being prominent one moment, and the distinctive aroma of a Sauvignon (what some folks like to refer to as cat pee) surfacing at other times.

This is just an all-around good table white. It seems to me that it would be really good with crab or shrimp. And it’s got enough backbone from the pinots and sauvignon that you don’t really want it quite as cold as some folks are inclined to serve their whites – just slightly chilled.

But definitely don’t be scared off by the screwtop, and read the little pamphlet, so you can ridicule the barbarians who criticize you for bringing a screwtop. 😉

More talking computers

I had another experience with a speaking computer. I called to cancel a magazine subscription, and was immediately aware that I was speaking with a recording. I figured this meant that I would be able to get through the entire process without the tiresome task of convincing someone that I did indeed wish to cancel.

Alas, it was not to be, although I expect that the process was, overall, less painful than it would have been with a real person.

The computer first offered me two free months if I would reconsider. Then, it offered me a choice of several worthless trinkets if I would repent of my folly. Finally, it said that it would cancel my subscription at the end of the subscription year, rather than immediately, since that was probably what I had in mind.

At last, and grudgingly, it agreed to cancel my magazine immediately, and refund my money.

Now, when subjected to this kind of thing by a person, I always figured that it was their job, and they were just trying to get their bonus. But when a computer program does it, there’s just no excuse, and it was just annoying.

I also wondered what this does for employment. If one can, with one studio recording session, and a simple menu-driven script, replace a few dozen employees, surely this will happen in many call centers. Perhaps things like 411 will be replaced this way, since voice recognition appears to be sufficiently advanced now.

Quote: Scrooge on Christmas

What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you?

— Ebenezer Scrooge. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens.

This year, I seem to find myself more in tune with the first chapter of A Christmas Carol than with the last.

Tonight was the Christmas fling in Wilmore, where all the town folks turn out on Main Street, and all the downtown businesses open their doors and have snacks and hot drinks. I just did not feel like staying very long, and I got very cold, so I just came home. I’m trying to work on my book, but I’m having a hard time concentrating.

Tomorrow night is another Christmas party. I’m not even sure I’m going. Perhaps I will make the requisite appearance. I suppose folks will expect me to do a Dickens reading, and I’m just not sure I have the heart for it. I’m more inclined to read about Scrooge walking home through the foggy streets of London and up his broad staircase – wide enough for the coach-and-four! – than I am to read about Fezziwig and how the small things we do for one another mean so much.

Perhaps I should not write things like this in such a public medium, where I am supposed to be all jolly and positive. However, this year has worn me down as no year ever has before, and I’m just not sure I have the energy to do the Christmas thing this year.

No space left on device!

I find myself with a rather unexpected problem. I’m out of storage space for my wine!

This is actually due to two things. First, I’ve bought a number of wines that I’d like to keep for a long time, and I want to store them in such a way that they will actually benefit from aging, and not just get old and crufty. The other problem is that my new schedule give me very few opportunities to really sit down and enjoy a good wine, and so I have been tending to buy wines, but then never actually open them.

A while back, I made a wine storage cabinet out of an old fridge, and that’s where I’m keeping the wines that actually deserve a quality storage facility. It is full full full. I also have a little 12-bottle wooden wine rack, and that is almost full.

I need to go through and figure out what wines really need to be in the cooler, and which ones don’t really deserve that honor. Perhap that will let me stretch my storage out another year or so. However, a number of my friends want me to buy wine by the case, in order to have some sort of wine club going, where I serve as the somellier and storage person, and they … well, basically, they pay for me to have good wine. At least that’s the way that I see it. 😉 I’ll let you know how that plays out.

Technology makes us dumber

I got a new phone. In order to call my parents, I press a button, and then I say “mom and dad”, and it calls them for me. As I observed last week, Google allows dumb people to do things that they would otherwise be incapable of doing. And now my phone relieves me of even the mental exercise of pressing number buttons, and of remembering a phone number.

When I was teaching College Algebra, I became convinced that calculators were leading to dumber students being able to pass math classes. I am now becoming more and more convinced that computers in general are allowing dumber people to survive the evolutionary process, but that they are also making the rest of us dumber. I think I’m a pretty smart person, but I can’t remember my parents’ phone number, because I don’t have to. I have trouble writing (by hand) a page of text, because I have been typing so long that that much writing makes my hand cramp up. It’s really quite pathetic.

Of course, technology allows me to be physically unfit also, but that’s hardly a new thing. The phone just got me thinking. Or, perhaps, it enabled me not to have to think …