Friday, August 28, 2009


Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki is out with a calf injury. Hopefully, he'll come back healthy this season; he's only 11 hits from his 2,000th MLB hit. Ichiro is in his 9th MLB season; nobody has ever gotten 2,000 hits in his first nine seasons. Nobody has ever gotten 2,000 hits in any nine-season stretch.

He also has 184 hits this season; if he reaches 200, it'll be the ninth time in nine years that he's done so, a record in the Major Leagues.

Ichiro, 35, is batting .359 on the season and .333 for his MLB career. He played in Japan's Pacific League for nine years before coming to Seattle, hitting .353 and piling up 1,278 hits, including a Japanese single-season record 210 hits in 1994.

He's on pace for 231 hits this season, which would break the record of 227 hits by a 35 year-old, held by Sam Rice and Nat Lajoie.

He has batted over .300 in every one of his nine MLB seasons, including .372 in 2004, when he broke the MLB record for hits in a season with 262. In his nine seasons, he's led the league in hits 6 times and in batting average two times.

Wait, here's more. He led the league in stolen bases in 2001, and that year was named the American League MVP and the American League Rookie of the Year. He was the MVP of the 2007 All-Star game. He was won a gold glove as an outfielder in each of his first eight seasons. He's been in the All-Star game in each of his nine seasons. He currently has the highest batting average among active players.

Who knows what kind of numbers he'd have if he'd spent his entire career playing in MLB. Ichiro is a legendary player, already one of the all-time greats.

Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan wrote a nice piece about Ichiro in "Ichiro defies critics and odds," and talks about Ichiro's chances of reaching the 4,000 hit mark (Pete Rose territory!).

For more on Ichiro Suzuki, check out this Wikipedia article.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Answer

Yeah, I've criticized Allen Iverson as much as anyone, but as he sits in limbo waiting for a team to pick him up, let me give him his due.

Iverson is currently #16 on the NBA All-Time Leading Scorers list (Kobe Bryant is #17). That's total points. As for points per game, Iverson is #5 all-time (27.1)!

In his 14-year career, he's dished out an average of 6.2 assists per game, quite respectable for a high-scoring shooting guard.

He's #12 all-time in total steals, and tied for #6 all-time in steals per game with Fat Lever at 2.22.

He's averaged over 41 minutes per game; the all-time leaders in that category listed at are Wilt Chamberlain (45.8), Bill Russell (42.3), Oscar Robertson (42.2), and Elvin Hayes (38.4).

Over his career, Iverson's had season-bests of 33.0 ppg (2005-06 with Philadelphia), 8.0 apg (2004-05 with Philadelphia), and 2.8 steals per game (2001-02 with Philadelphia).

The 6'0", 165 lb. guy known as "AI" and "The Answer" will go down as one of the best small guards (and one of the best players) to ever lace 'em up.

Santa Fe Mountains

Views from the Santa Fe Mountains above Santa Fe, New Mexico, part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southern-most subrange of the Rocky Mountains, on an overcast August day. Photos taken during my mom's (MALsPa's Ma, as she called herself once!) recent visit to New Mexico.

And up near at Ski Santa Fe, Santa Fe's ski area, a cool mountain stream and a little view of the forest.

"Sangre de Cristo" is Spanish for "Blood of Christ." For more about the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, see

Health Care Reform

While I agree with Mr. Obama that health care reform is sorely needed in this country, somehow I doubt that significant changes are in store.

For most of us, it would help if we simply reform the way we take care of our own health. How many health problems are a result of things we do to ourselves? Smoking, drinking, drugs, over-eating, poor diet, lack of exercise...

Dude. Most of us just need to be smarter. Look out for #1. Take better care of yourself.

Still, I hope Mr. Obama is successful. Too many people can't get the help they need, can't afford it. There's got to be a better way.

point releases

Hm, interesting question at the Linux Mint forums:

"What ever happened to the update releases of mint 5? I've been waiting a year now, still no sign."

Because Mint 5 (Elyssa) is an LTS version, a point release would be a good thing for anyone who wants to install it at this stage. Otherwise, you're gonna have tons of updates to pull in. Ubuntu's Hardy Heron (their LTS version) has released a couple, I think. Even Mepis has released 8.0.06 and 8.0.10 this year.

So what's up at Mint? Not sure. Maybe a point release is just too much to ask, with everything else they have going on, like the Mint Debian project, among other things.

Here's one person's reply to the question above:

"If it's that important to you why not simply install the point two release of Hardy Heron, and from there install the mint tools and change your repos to that of Elyssa. This will give you the closest thing to an Elyssa point release as you are going to get."

Better yet, install the point two release of Hardy and forget about Mint until next time. If you're gonna go through all that trouble, I can't see any reason to bother with Mint at all -- I mean, Mint's a fine distro, but after all this time, I don't see any big advantages to running Mint instead of Ubuntu, and there might even be a few drawbacks.

But I have to say, for people like me who started out with Elyssa when it was fresh, and have kept it updated, we're in good shape. Of course, for someone who doesn't have it backed up, if you bork your system and have to reinstall, well... If that was me, of course I'd pass on Elyssa and move on. She'd understand. :-D

You can lead a horse to water...

...but you can't make him drink, as the saying goes. And you definitely can't make him think!

I don't waste my time anymore suggesting to people that they try Linux. I figure that if Linux is a good fit for a person, that person will most likely gravitate towards it naturally. She or he will be looking out for an alternative to Windows, and will find out about Linux and want to try it, without any help from me.

Folks who know that Linux is out there, or who don't know about it and don't seek it out, are most likely not the kind of people who would want to take the time to learn to use it.

My friend ComputerBob included this quote from The Windows Secrets Newsletter in his post from today:

“It sometimes seems like we spend more time protecting our PCs than actually using them. Sadly, in the modern computer age our systems are under continuous attack. Even worse, those attacks take ever-new approaches to break into our PCs and steal our personal data.”

That's not the case for those of us who use Linux. I spend almost no time at all concerning myself about protecting my PC; and I watch in amazement when I'm in computer stores (which isn't often anymore) as customers drop big dollars on Windows operating systems, office suites, games, security software, and other software -- none of which Linux users have to pay a dime for! I listen patiently (a bit less patiently these days) as friends of mine complain about viruses, worms, corrupted files, and other problems they are having with their Windows computers.

I just shake my head, and, walking away, think for the umpteenth time, "I'm sure glad that I use Linux!"

WNBA - Heating Up!

We're getting down to the end of the regular season in the WNBA, and teams are jockeying for playoff position. Standing going into tonight's games:

Eastern Conference Standings

W L Pct GB Home Road Conf Streak L10
Indiana 19 7 .731 -- 12-1 7-6 15-2 Lost 2 7-3
Atlanta 15 12 .556 4.5 11-5 4-7 9-10 Won 1 8-2
Connecticut 14 13 .519 5.5 10-5 4-8 8-11 Lost 1 5-5
Washington 13 15 .464 7.0 8-6 5-9 9-9 Lost 2 3-7
Chicago 13 15 .464 7.0 9-4 4-11 7-9 Lost 3 5-5
Detroit 12 14 .462 7.0 6-6 6-8 6-11 Won 3 6-4
New York 11 16 .407 8.5 6-7 5-9 7-9 Won 2 5-5
Western Conference Standings

W L Pct GB Home Road Conf Streak L10
Phoenix 18 9 .667 -- 10-4 8-5 11-6 Lost 1 6-4
Seattle 16 11 .593 2.0 11-3 5-8 12-5 Won 3 5-5
Los Angeles 14 13 .519 4.0 8-4 6-9 8-7 Won 6 8-2
San Antonio 11 16 .407 7.0 7-6 4-10 7-8 Lost 3 3-7
Minnesota 11 16 .407 7.0 6-8 5-8 5-10 Lost 6 1-9
Sacramento 9 19 .321 9.5 5-8 4-11 5-12 Lost 1 5-5

Each team has 34 games in the regular season, so each team has seven or eight games remaining. The top four teams from each conference make the playoffs.

Tonight's games:

San Antonio at Indiana: San Antonio has been playing poorly of late, and is in danger of losing their playoff spot. Indiana has dropped their last two, but first place in the East seems secure.

Atlanta at Detroit: The Shock are trying to make a run the playoffs, and have won their last three. Atlanta will try to hold onto 2nd place in the East.

Connecticut at Seattle: The Sun are currently in 3rd place in the East, but can't afford a mis-step here, with four teams hot on their heels. Seattle seems to have gotten back on track with three straight wins, and still has a shot at first place in the West.

Phoenix at Los Angeles: Phoenix has been a bit inconsistent lately, but they're still holding on to first place in the West. The Sparks' Candace Parker, last year's MVP and Rookie of the Year, is finally coming around after having her baby, and L.A.'s been hot, winning six in a row. They've had their problems this season, but I don't think anyone relishes the thought of facing them in the playoffs!

Individual statistics leaders (I'll have to leave Minnesota's Seimone Augustus out of this listing because she only played in six games before going down with an injury, but she was averaging 21.0 ppg):

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix - 20.8 ppg
Becky Hammon, San Antonio - 19.7 ppg
Lauren Jackson, Seattle - 19.3 ppg

Erika Desouza, Atlanta - 8.9 rpg
Candace Parker, Los Angeles - 8.7 rpg
Sylvia Fowles, Chicago - 8.6 rpg

Sue Bird, Seattle - 5.8 apg
Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix - 5.2 apg
Ticha Penicheiro, Sacramento - 5.2 apg

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix - 2.8 3PTs made per game
Shameka Christon, New York - 2.6 3PTs made per game
Becky Hammon, San Antonio - 2.3 3PTs made per game

Tamika Catchings, Indiana - 2.9 steals per game
Nicky Anosike, Minnesota - 2.8 steals per game
Alana Beard, Washington - 2.4 steals per game

Candace Parker, Los Angeles - 2.0 blocks per game
Tangela Smith, Phoenix - 1.8 blocks per game
Sylvia Fowles, Chicago - 1.6 blocks per game

Timed Random Wallpapers in Fluxbox

I've always like both Openbox and Fluxbox, but neither of them come with an automatic wallpaper changer. The one that comes with KDE is great; in GNOME, I use the wallpaper-tray application, which can be installed with Synaptic. I missed having a feature like that whenever I switched over to Openbox or Fluxbox.

I wrote about how I got an automatic wallpaper changer going in Openbox in this earlier post. I figured I could use a similar approach for my Fluxbox installation in Mepis 8.

In Fluxbox, I use feh, and I can run the following command from a terminal to get a random wallpaper:

fbsetbg -r [path to directory containing backgrounds]

So I started out with a script similar to the one I'd used in Openbox:



while true
fbsetbg -r /home/steve/.fluxbox/backgrounds
sleep 360

Then I created ~/.fluxbox/




Next, I edited this line in the ~/.fluxbox/init file:

session.screen0.rootCommand: ~/.fluxbox/

For reasons I can't explain, this procedure worked to give me random wallpaper changes, but I was getting them at odd intervals -- every few minutes instead of every 6 minutes like I'd specified. That problem seemed to fix itself once I rebooted the computer.

So, it works fine here! Now I can enjoy random, automatic wallpaper changers in Openbox and Fluxbox like I do in KDE and GNOME!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


The xkill command in Linux has turned out to be one of the more useful commands for me. It's good to turn to when an application freezes up. Blogger Steven Rosenberg writes about it here.

In short:

"On the same window as the application you wish to kill, open a terminal window and type xkill at the prompt. Your cursor turns into a "X" that kills whatever you left-click with the mouse."

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Fans of college football teams in the West know that in the polls, their teams don't get the respect that teams from the Mid-West, East, and South get.

I took a look at this season's USA Today Preseason Top 25. Keep in mind, if a team starts out low in the polls, or unranked, it becomes that much more difficult for that team to make it into a major bowl game at the end of the season.

Here's a listing that shows a team's preseason ranking, and in parentheses, their ranking at the end of last season and last season's record.

Note: Teams from the "Far West" (further west than Texas, or should I say, states that either straddle the Rocky Mountains or lie west of them) are highlighted in bold, showing an interesting pattern.

Teams from the West who are starting out ranked higher than they were at the end of the season ("Far West" teams in bold):

#2 Texas (#3, 13-1)
#3 Oklahoma (#5, 12-2)
#11 Oklahoma State (#18, 9-4)
#12 California (#25, 9-4)
#22 Nebraska (not ranked, 9-4)

Teams from the West who are starting out ranked lower than they were at the end of the season ("Far West" teams in bold):

#4 USC (#2, 12-1)
#14 Oregon (#9, 10-3)
#16 Boise State (#13, 12-1)
#17 TCU (#7, 11-2)
#18 Utah (#4, 13-0)
#24 BYU (#21, 10-3)
#25 Oregon State (#19, 9-4)

Now, teams from the East, South, or Mid-West who are starting out ranked higher than (or even with where) they were at the end of the season:

#1 Florida (#1, 13-1)
#5 Alabama (#6, 12-2)
#6 Ohio State (#11, 10-3)
#7 Virginia Tech (#14, 10-4)
#8 Penn State (#8, 11-2)
#9 LSU (not ranked, 8-5)
#10 Mississippi (#15, 9-4)
#15 Georgia Tech (#22, 9-4)
#19 Florida State (#23, 9-4)
#20 North Carolina (not ranked, 8-5)
#23 Notre Dame (not ranked, 7-6)

And teams from the East, South, or Mid-West who are starting out ranked lower than they were at the end of the season:

#13 Georgia (#10, 10-3)
#21 Iowa (#20, 9-4)


Sure are a lot of teams from the East, South, or Mid-West that the pollsters think are better than they were at the end of last year. Only one team from the Far West is ranked higher than they ended up last year -- California.

LSU, unranked at the end of the year, was voted into the top ten (at #9). Based on reputation, I guess.

Notre Dame went 7-6 last season and finished unranked, but they start out at #23. I mean, it's Notre Dame, right? Gotta vote for 'em.

Does a bias exist against Western teams? If you're in a Rocky Mountain State, or to the west, here's yet another example of what folks have been saying for years.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I use multiple Linux distros, and occasionally I'm on the internet with Windows Vista, so I finally decided give the Firefox synchronization tool XMarks a try.

XMarks is the new incarnation of Foxmarks, and is available as a Firefox add-on. It synchs your bookmarks between different operating systems and/or computers.

So far, it's gone off without a hitch. XMarks comes with a friendly GUI, and places an icon conveniently at the bottom right of the Linux Firefox window. It includes a "Discovery" module that helps XMarks provide you with top sites based on your Google search, site info, and automatically suggested tags. I turned off all of the Discovery options.

Good add-on for Firefox users who multi-boot or use multiple computers -- your bookmarks are always available!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Timed Random Wallpapers in Openbox

Finally got a perfect random wallpaper set-up in Openbox! This set-up starts my ~/ script when I log into Openbox and finds a new (random) wallpaper, every six minutes, from my ~/photos-openbox directory.



while [ 1 ]
sleep 6m



ALIST=( `ls -w1 $WALLPAPERS` )

feh --bg-scale $WALLPAPERS/${ALIST[$SHOW]}


# Programs to launch at startup

numlockx &

xscreensaver &

# Programs that will run after Openbox has started
(sleep 2 && fbpanel) &

#My wallpaper (random wallpaper script - calls
(sleep 3 && /home/steve/ &

Very, very nice! Thanks to frisil at the MepisLovers forums for the tip on the infinite loop. I'd spent a lot of time trying to find a way to get a random wallpapers in Openbox; the script by itself did this, but adding a line for it in the script only gave me a new wallpaper each time I logged into Openbox. This set-up works about as well as KDE's automatic background changer or GNOME's wallpaper-tray.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

No A/C in AZ

Found an article at about a Phoenix-area couple who have vowed to go without air conditioning for an entire year!

They also have a blog page about the experience, or experiment, whatever you want to call it.

I know that after living in the Phoenix area for 24 years, I grew tired of air conditioning, and almost never use it since I've moved to Albuquerque. But it's hard to imagine making it through a Phoenix summer without it! This couple was motivated by environmental concerns; I applaud them for their courage!

8 Linux Window Managers/Desktop Environments

Blogger Damien Oh discusses some of his favorite Linux window managers and lightweight desktop environments in "8 Great Alternative Desktop Managers For Linux," at

There's a lot of confusion in the Linux world about the difference between desktop environments and window managers. Oh doesn't help things by using the term "desktop managers." In short, a window manager is less resource-intensive and comes with fewer features than a complete desktop environment. Folks with older computers might prefer to use a window manager instead of something like GNOME or KDE. Folks who don't like to use the command line and who like having more well-developed applications available, and who aren't restricted by machines with low memory, and who don't want to have to figure a lot of things out, might be better served by sticking with a full desktop environment.

Some of the environments he mentions (Xfce, FVWM-Crystal, and LXDE) are light-weight desktop environments; the rest are window managers. For more info about window managers and desktop environments, see:

In the comments following the article, some folks mentioned Openbox, which might be my favorite; others bemoaned the lack of any mention of tiled window managers like wmii. I did try wmii for a short time, but not long enough to learn to use it well. I had the feeling that tiled window managers aren't for me.

Anway, the article's worth taking a look at.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Openbox in Lenny

Recently installed the window manager Openbox, which I love as much as Fluxbox, in Debian Lenny after previously installing it in Mepis, and then later in Mint Elyssa and Ubuntu Hardy. I'm using the KDE version of Lenny.

Openbox takes a bit of work to install and set up, but in the end you'll have a very nice, light-weight, attractive, usable desktop.

For Lenny, I started out by installing the following packages from Synaptic (default repos):

- openbox (brought in libobparser21, libobrender21, openbox-themes)
- obconf
- obmenu (brought in libffi5, python-cairo, python-glade2, python-gobject, python-gtk2, python-numeric, python-support)
- fbpanel
- numlockx
- feh (brought in giblib1, libid3tag0, libimlib2)
- xscreensaver (brought in xli, xscreensaver-data
- xscreensaver-data-extra (brought in libnetpbm10, netpbm)
- xscreensaver-gl
- xscreensaver-gl-extra (brought in libgle3)
- menu, the app for the Debian menu, was already installed

Openbox doesn't come with its own panel; I had previously used pypanel, which is nice, but it wasn't in the default repos; so I went with fbpanel. fbpanel is cool, confiigurable, and comes with it's own menu, populated by the Debian menu package.

I found multiple Openbox entries to log into from my kdm log-in screen, including one titled "Openbox" and another titled "Openbox (Session)." The latter is the correct one to use, because the former does not reference any autostart script.

I installed xscreensaver so that I could use the GL Text (Clock) screensaver, a favorite of mine.

Instructions for using and configuring fbpanel were found in man fbpanel.

I used an autostart script (created ~/.config/openbox/ and a script that I'd found and tweaked that gives you an random wallpaper each time you log in (~/ The script uses photos from my ~/photos-openbox directory Here are the scripts I'm using:


# Programs to launch at startup

numlockx &

xscreensaver &

# Programs that will run after Openbox has started
(sleep 2 && fbpanel) &

#My wallpaper (random wallpaper script)



ALIST=( `ls -w1 $WALLPAPERS` )

feh --bg-scale $WALLPAPERS/${ALIST[$SHOW]}

I added an entry in the Openbox menu for so that I can manually change to a new (random) wallpaper whenever I feel like it.

I tweaked fbpanel -- changed the default menu icon, altered the clock's font color, etc.; and filled in the Openbox menu (which I prefer to use instead of the fbpanel menu) to my tastes, using the GUI ObMenu. Here's my Openbox desktop in Debian Lenny:

Simple, clean, and nice, just how I like it!

Rattlers of the AFL

The latest news is that the Arena Football League has suspended operations indefinitely, after having canceled the 2009 season back in December.

M.A.L. and I were fortunate enough to have attended several Arizona Rattlers games at America West Arena in Phoenix. The games were fun and high-scoring. And loud.

Memories of the music blasting; the t-shirts and towels being shot into the stands (fans scrambling for them); the rabid fans; the copper-colored helmets; seeing the players up-close; brutal hits -- players slamming into the walls on the sidelines; field goals sailing through the narrow uprights; the 50-yard indoor field; seeing guys who'd "almost" made it to the NFL, former college players, some former NFL players; the Rattlers' "Enforcer," "Spike," driving his bike onto the field before the start of games; the Rattlers' Sidewinders Dance Team...

It was great fun, and we miss 'em.

The Rattlers were coached for several years by former ASU Sun Devils and Dallas Cowboys QB Danny White. In 1992, they became the first Arena League team to sell out their entire home schedule. They made it to 5 AFL championship games in 11 years, winning it all in '94 and '97.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I don't know how many current and former Major League Baseball players have used steroids, but it's certain that there have been a lot of them. Some folks say, "Well, it wasn't against the rules," I think until 2005, so how can we call these guys "cheaters?"

The guys who were doing steroids were trying to hide it. They didn't want anyone to know. That tells me that they knew that what they were doing was wrong.

It doesn't matter if it was "illegal" or not. I once heard someone say, "If you have to hide it, it's probably wrong."

They knew they were cheating, living a lie, pretending to be getting by on their talent and skills while trying to get an edge by using something that they didn't want everyone to know they were using. I don't think we should sugar-coat it or make excuses for them.

Linux eBooks

I think I've mentioned some of these before, but here are 5 Excellent Downloadable eBooks To Teach Yourself Linux.

Carla Schroder's Mulit-Boot Tips

Linux guru Carla Schroder discusses Linux multi-boot tips at LinuxToday. In particular, I agree with the following:

The common wisdom is to have a shared home directory in a multiboot setup, but this has its own set of potential problems because it mixes data files and configuration files. So when you're trying out different distributions, your desktop settings may not translate gracefully across all of them. So what's the answer?
The answer is simple: create a separate data partition, and let every distro that you install have its own unique ~/home for your dotfiles. You'll jump through a couple of extra hoops to make your data directory accessible across all of your installed Linuxes, but it's no big deal, and it's easier than trying to make your dotfiles work across multiple distros and desktop versions.

I do the same thing.