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Good Utility

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Natalie handed me this letter from PSNH last night. I had expected it to say something to the effect of "thank you for paying for all of our kids to go to college by installing baseboard electric". It started off mentioning something about snow.

I had my moment of: "OH AND YOU GUYS CAN GO FU... hey, this is nice", and so I share it:

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T**e *h* S**n****s B***i**G, **k* ***m b****n*.

Music: 

Xebox - Bunker Buster

This week David Lowery grumpled many of the Interbutts as he published a list of 50 "undesirable" (read: "un-licensed") music lyrics sites to target for legal action by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA). With some major exceptions (RapGenius!), many of these sites do, in fact, suck. They're undesirable from an Internet user standpoint as well what with pop-unders and malware.

The fact is, they are worried about lost revenue from the licensing fees these guys should be paying, and the fact that lyrics sites have tons of ads, and that it follows that their owners are sitting on massive piles of cash in the Caymans. So let's go sue 'em all and get that Scrooge McDuck money silo each of them has to have. Here's a better idea, why doesn't the industry run its own goddamn lyrics sites? Well hell, I bet since we live in The Future and all, you could even track how many times someone searches for a song and give Dave Lowry his quarter of a cent per 100 impressions for Euro-Trash Girl lyrics.

The claim that it's "ripping us off as artists" is unconvincing though. If someone's reading the lyrics, you must assume they're listening or have just listened to that song, which they either own or they don't (Keep going after those pirates, I can at least see the point kind of, best of luck). Very very few songs have lyrics that merit reading on their own without music surrounding them. No one is reading the lyrics to Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive who isn't also listening to that song right now.

The Musician as modern Shelley is in all but the most exceptional cases disingenuous at best (Fun fact: Search for Percy Shelley on Google, and the #3 hit after Wikipedia and Poets.org is poemhunter.com, one of the NMPA's targeted sites of IP thieves). Off the top of my head, I can think of four musicians whose lyrics I could just sit and read, and even that is only a handful of songs per artist. Also off the top of my head, I can think of zero musicians whose lyrics I have just sat and read as art for its own sake.

It certainly didn't take Tennyson to write Take The Skinheads Bowling.

"Industry Sues Morons, film at eleven". Fine. "Fragile snowflake genius loses livelihood when someone can search for their lyrics for /free(!)/". Well you lost me there pal.

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It Was The D&D Of Food

Music: 

Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime

Some time ago, one of my cow orkers sent me home with some Chinese bitter melon in trade for some of our plums. Natalie fell in love with it immediately, but I can't really get past just how strong it is. I was knocking it down with hot sauce, as I do.

Yesterday I showed up and what do you know? Three more bitter melons ready for me to take home, including one /monster/ of the species which just couldn't have been natural. Fortunately I found the answer at a farm stand tonight. They had bhut jolokia (improperly "ghost chili") peppers.

This was like two titans doing battle on my tongue! I'm fine with the heat of the jolokia by now, but what I love from it is the powerful fruity, citrusy flavor that just crushes you when you put it in your mouth, before it even touches your tongue. It pretty much perfectly set off the bitter melon.

I must have eaten 1.5lb of stir fry and my mouth is very very happy with me.

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Visit Your Drive-IN

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Milford has a great drive-in theater, it's in the middle of a corn field and everything. It's perfect. But in the ten years we've lived here we've only gone twice, since most movies suck. I remember we saw the Johnny Depp Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, with Fantastic Four, and we saw Snakes on a Plane with Talladega Nights (which is terrible). Natalie got to see a Harry Potter movie with some of our friends while I was out of town. The problem is that most movies suck, and we have no interest in comic book movies or live action cartoon remakes, which are the only things coming out now which are worthy of a drive in. (I would go see a Spider Man or Batman movie there I guess. I'm mainly thinking of Transformers movies and Iron Man movies).

A few weeks ago we were driving by and I said to Natalie "You know what they ought to do? They ought to show movies from the '70s and '80s, those movies were awesome and people would come watch them. I'm going to write a letter dammit. We were home 6 minutes later, I forgot about the letter.

Somehow they got the message. Tonight we watched Back to the Future and Jaws! We just happened to be driving by like 1 hour before the sun was down and Natalie saw the sign and we scrambled all fighters and made the snap judgment that we had to go do this. It's always a great time, eating concession stand food and supporting a wonderful local business in an industry that needs it.

The best thing was actually all the kids watching BTTF and loving the shit out of that movie. It lacks all the modern indicators of a blockbuster. No anthropomorphic animals, no animation, no CGI, no Michael Bay. But those kids all went nuts when George McFly punched out Biff. After the movie a parent was explaining that Marty was Michael J Fox, and I felt old.

Milford Drive-In has already made the leap to digital projection which is proving to be a hurdle that threatens to put many drive ins out of business. I'm glad they've been able to make that move and will be here for years to come.

So yeah, go watch movies, they close next weekend, and because of the unique way in which their website is designed and managed, I can't tell you what those movies will be. I believe the most reliable way to find out is probably to drive by the sign and look at it. Go give 'em your money, it's always worth it.

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Cavalia Odysseo, Somerville MA

Music: 

We just got home from seeing Odysseo, and man that was one of the most beautiful looking shows I think we've ever gone to. I had heard nothing about it until I heard this WBUR story last week, and told Natalie that this was probably something we should look into. So beyond "It's horses, and acrobatics, and huge", I still knew nothing going in. The show was definitely all of those things.

As with Cirque du Soleil shows, there really are no bad places to see. Despite the size of the tent (Largest ever blah blah, biggest traveling yadda yadda ever), there are still only 2000 seats, so it still feels small and intimate. We were in theoretically the worst possible spot, 3rd row from the top, all the way to one side. You could see everything from up there, and it was all amazing and beautiful.

I could not believe the level of control they had over these horses just with voice commands, or even with no one in sight. They knew exactly where they needed to be and those horses Did Work. The "Horse People" in the audience cued us non-horse people as to what was really over-the-top cool and especially clap-worthy :-)

The integration of the ribbon performers was especially excellent and beautifully choreographed. I do maintain though, "White ribbons, Really? In a horse rink with dirt and mud and whatnot? They'll be filthy!"

Anyway, go. Go see this show, it's really pretty neat, huge, and choreographed. Get the cheapest un-obstructed view tickets you can and you'll be fine.

I know that if we'd put 10 minutes thought into it and brought my mom, she definitely would have been barking in my ear the whole time with "DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO MAKE A HORSE DO THAT!". A lot of that is lost on me as a Not Horse Person, but I knew when I should be amazed. I really feel kind of ashamed that we didn't think of it with her coming for a week like, tomorrow...everything just happened so fast.

Promo video:

And also, this is a thing I saw this week, via JWZ:

(PSA: You might know me to take lots of photos from shows, but hey, assholes, if a venue or performer explicitly says "NO photos, NO video, NO phones", don't take photos. Just enjoy the experience, and maybe /write something down afterwards/. I wish they'd bounced some of the people in the stands taking photos during this thing. As much as I think my stuff would have come out great, there is a matter of safety and annoyance of other audience members. And I'm sure someone on a trapeze must love it when they get flashed in the face by some moron with a cellphone while hanging from one foot 30' off the ground and spinning at like 80rpm or whatever)

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Exercise

Music: 

IT Crowd Theme

Here's how we work out at the Curtiss household:

- Smoke

- 20 minutes of elliptical

- Smoke

- Crack beer, do lifting for 25 minutes or whenever show ends

- Steak bomb

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Honey Don't Be A Wild One

Music: 

Honey Don't

Due to the unique way my brain works and the size of my CD collection, whenever I hear a song by one artist that I know I have different versions of, I have to queue up all the other versions and get the whole shootin' match.

This morning, I heard versions of Wild One (Real Wild Child) from Jerry Lee Lewis, then Iggy Pop, Lou Reed (different song but I still had to) and Brian Setzer. Now I'm on Honey Don't, first by Carl Perkins, now (Memphis band we met at Sun Studios) The Gunslingers, and next Wanda Jackson.

Videos!

Jerry Lee:

Iggy:

Lou Reed:

Brian Setzer:

Honey Don't

Carl Perkins (But actually, Ringo!):

Gunslingers:

REDEX - But, I strongly suggest you take a trip into historical times and listen to this track on Myspace. This was a super fun bonus of having gone to Memphis, was grabbing this guy's CD at the end of the Sun Studio tour, they were good.

Wanda Jackson:

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Post Purchase Comparison Shopping

Music: 

The Ettes - Teeth

This is just what the world needs, another smug mac owner. Since people seemed not to believe I do my homework and continue to offer me platform advice, I went and priced up an HP with the same specs as my new Pro.

All said and done, including stupid $250 for AppleCare, my new machine was $3248, delivered. The HP equivalent, a Z420 Workstation, was $3,707 + $45 shipping. That's for 6 core Xeon, base 6GB of memory (CRUCIAL...), 1TB 7200RPM drive, 1GB ATI card.

So $500 more for a machine with an OS I hate dealing with, sounds like a pretty good bargain. Oh, and it says right on the page that the NIC won't work with Windows 8, so that's pretty swell.

Lenovo would sell me a similar config, with a 4-core 3.30Ghz CPU for only $100 more than my machine, I couldn't get exactly the same 6 core Xeon in the S30 workstations I was looking at.

I think I'll take the bargain Apple product, thanks :-)

Overall though I'm pretty happy. Moving the software-RAID1 set between machines was just "move the drives, they work", which I didn't really expect.

Now, here's a Stack of Macs:

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They Don't Make 'Em Like This Anymore

Music: 

It's the last of the big V8 Interceptors.

Last of the big V8 Interceptors. I had to grab a new Pro before they decided only to sell those insane coffee magnets with no internal drive bays. Last one lasted 7 good years, here's to another computer in 2020.

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Well that was funny

Music: 

I'm no longer forwarding cookie thieves to Natalie's site. I had been fussing around trying to make IPTables block all the botnet machines, and when that didn't work, I was just using deny rules in Apache, which sucked, because my include file of blocked hosts was 100,000 or so. That's in addition to the default "Block all of China, India, Eastern Europe" rules I apply. It also sucked because I'm still serving pages and so there were tons of ESTABLISHED, FIN_WAIT1/2, etc. connections, most of which were holding open Apache processes, which was crushing my machine.

The reason IPTables wasn't working turned out to be because of the VPS solution used by 1and1. There is a hard limit of 400 rules on the host, and I can't work around that, so I can't use IPTables with huge blacklists, at least, not that I've figured out.

What I'm doing now though is to use the LimitExcept directive to only allow GET requests in the virtual host which does the rewrites for nataliecurtiss.com. So now those fuckers are all just getting 403's or, in some cases, 500's (don't know why that is).

So yeah that was fun. A case has been opened with SquareSpace, since this attack traffic was all really directed at them. And the only logical thing I can think of is that the attackers are trying to guess session cookies of site admins who aren't explicitly logged out of their site admin tools. This would let the attackers exploit any XSS inherent in code generated by SquareSpace, or use the targeted site to infect more end user machines for this botnet.

Still, it's an awful lot of trouble to go to just to get your hands on Natalie's what, 12 legitimate users per month?

Now I just have a zillion connections in TIME_WAIT, but at least my site seems quick, all my services seem to be working at full speed ahead, and I'm going to stop thinking about this shit for a while. I'm not going to bother figuring out why I can't set tcp_tw_reuse to clean up all those TIME_WAITs.

Update:
The 500's are because I didn't set an auth-type for the user to be able to POST. Well, fuck 'em, they get 500's, since I never want anyone to ever do anything but GET, everything else can DIAF.

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by Dr. Radut