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St. Patrick's Day 2004 Edition

the futile struggle of winter

Outside my winter is at least an inch of snow. It began last night and continues on this morning. It is expected to give out half a foot by the end of the day.

I did not expect the snow to return, given how clement the weather had been. And yet the weekend will reach beyond 10°C (50°F), melting the snow. This is winter's last gasp.

St. Patrick's Day

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. It is national holiday in its native Eire, but here is an excuse to drink beer and pinch the butts of those who aren't wearing green.

I myself am one-eighth Irish on my mother's side. I had a great-grandmother who was born in county Cork. I assume she found that out when she was older, because she was an orphan baby when she was taken to the USA.

in memoriam

Robert Orr, who served as governor of Indiana from 1981 to 1988 and as American ambassador of Singapore from 1989 to 1992, died last Wednesday at age 86.

Orr served as Indiana's governor during its agricultural and manufacturing recession of the early 1980's. He successfully brought about tax increases to wipe out a budget deficit; got Fuji (Subaru) and Isuzu to build their superfactory near Lafayette; and introduced education reforms, including ISTEP.

new planet

NPR and the BBC report the possible existence of a moon around a new planet, which was found last November by Cal Tech, Yale and Palomar Observatory. The red, shiny and very distant planet—called Sedna after the Inuit ocean goddess—was found to move slower than expected, suggesting the presence of a moon.

There is a debate whether Sedna should be classified as a planet or as a mere Kuiper Belt object (a mere ball of rock and ice, like a comet), as there is a similar debate for Pluto. Should the debate be settled favorably, Sedna will become the solar system's tenth planet.


"Keyboards, computer mice and telephone dials are more infested with microbes than toilet seats, according to a University of Arizona study." (San Jose Mercury, 12 March 2004.)

That's right: Microbes live longer on hands than in mouths. It's safer to kiss than to shake hands. I've known that since I read about it in my teens, so the above statement is no surprise to me. That's why I clean keyboards and mice with isopropyl alcohol (that, and it's easier to get the skin grease off).

"Gateway said Thursday that it has completed its acquisition of low-cost retail PC leader eMachines, a move that will take the company further from its roots as a direct computer specialist." (CNet, 11 March 2004.)

eMachines' products are really cheap, and I wouldn't touch them with a ten-meter pole. But Gateway bought the company for its wide retail space, not its computers. This is unlikely to affect my ex-employer or Ball State, which are Gateway shops. It's unlikely to affect me, too, as my purchase is a done deal and won't do anything to my warranty.

"Investment company BayStar Capital has confirmed ties between two Linux foes, saying Thursday that a Microsoft referral led to $50 million in BayStar funding for the SCO Group. 'Yes, Microsoft did introduce BayStar to SCO,' a BayStar representative said." (CNet, 11 March 2004.)

An indirect financial connection between Microsoft and that legal extortion racket pretending to be a software company hawking an ancient technology unable to compete with the biggest open-source project it is trying to extort money from…should anyone be surprised?

Copyright © 2004 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Written on 16 March 2004.