The time Santa rescued me

A visit from Santa at sea

Over the holidays, I found myself thinking back to another Christmas of over 25 years ago.

I was serving in the Navy on the USS Elliot (DD-967) and it was yet another Christmas away from home. I was in a funk at the time though now I’m not sure which one of the many possible causes was responsible. I’m pretty sure I was nearing the end of my enlistment. I definitely remember that the deployment was ending and we were bound for San Diego. Maybe it was because I had been butting heads with some of the other guys in my division (we didn’t always get along and when I finally earned some rank I became more comfortable with confronting the slackers and assholes). Maybe it was simply because I didn’t know what I should be doing with my life. Still don’t, actually.

But there I was at sea. It was about 8 AM. I had been working midwatches and had just come off of twelve hours of nighttime duty. I was in my rack, exhausted and feeling depressed. I just wanted to sleep and make the time pass as quickly as I could.
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Hello, 2018

New Years 2018 arrives in Raleigh City Plaza during the First Night Raleigh celebration

It’s New Years Day 2018 and I sit in my comfortable home office, coffee in hand and a pile of technology surrounding me. The weather is a brisk 22 degrees Fahrenheit as we’re in the middle of a brutal cold spell. I’ve been spending the past week and change catching up on home projects, mostly of the indoor variety.

When it was still warm enough to feel one’s limbs outside I worked more on our fence, digging up more than half of our old fenceposts. The ones that are left are anchored by concrete and not as eager to be ripped from the ground. On a future warmer weekend I will pry these out as well. For now, we have a mostly-open yard for the first time in a while.
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AIM taught us how to communicate in real-time online – Houston Chronicle


AOL shut down AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) today. Rest in peace, h0tgrits.

Toward the mid-1990s, America Online (by then going by its nickname, AOL) was the company through which most Americans accessed the Internet. As many as half of the CD-ROMs produced at the time bore the near-ubiquitous AOL logo, offering early computer users the opportunity to surf the Internet for a flat fee – at the time, US$19.99 for unlimited monthly access.

With nearly half of U.S.-based Internet traffic flowing through AOL, the stage was set for a social evolution of sorts that shifted our collective relationship with technology and each other. AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM, was launched in May 1997 as a way for AOL users to chat each other in real time, via text.

The service’s Dec. 15 shutdown was announced, notably, on a new real-time text communication channel, Twitter. That is just one testament to AIM’s lasting effects on how people use technology to connect today.

Source: AIM taught us how to communicate in real-time online – Houston Chronicle

Grandma’s house is for sale again

One of the great things about the way real estate is sold on the Internet is being able to get a virtual tour of the homes you knew and loved. I found out that my grandmother’s former home at 937 Oak Avenue in Panama City, FL is now for sale (MLS# 663442). Poking through the photographs it appears the owners (who bought it from Grandma’s estate) didn’t change it as radically as they could’ve. The most drastic changes are the paint colors. Apparently the electrical system has been upgraded. I don’t recall the renovated rear bathroom but that might have been there at the time Grandma lived there. The kitchen hasn’t changed basically at all, which was good to see.

I created a copy of the Zillow page here, as the house is pending sale and the listing won’t be available much longer. I also have photos from that page that I will add to the blog.

I hope I can take another walk (perhaps my last?) through it when we’re down there for Thanksgiving.

Red Hat IPO

A red hat


I was thinking about the early days of Red Hat this weekend and the company’s IPO. That got me looking up Red Hat’s S-1 statement which was filed for their IPO. Two things made me laugh:

1. Red Hat all of 125 employees when it went public, and
2. Red Hat actually told investors it was banking on ad revenue from its website!

OUR STRATEGY

We seek to enhance our position as a leading provider of open source software and services by:

– continuing to enhance our Web site to create the definitive online destination for the open source community; [Emphasis mine]

– expanding our professional services capabilities to capture large corporate business on an enterprise basis;

– increasing market acceptance of open source software, particularly through technology alliances and sharing our development efforts and resources with third-party developers;

– continuing to invest in the development of open source technology; and

– enhancing the Red Hat brand through targeted advertising and public relations campaigns.

What makes this even funnier is that the S-1 also lists Google as a Red Hat customer:

Red Hat Customers in 1999

Hmm, where do you think all of that web advertising revenue went?

The company is quite different today than the company that went public in 1999, which seems to have been more smoke and mirrors. I’m glad they finally figured it out because it’s good to still have them around!

Blogging tugs at me again

A teletype keyboard at the Living Computer Museum, Seattle, WAAs I scrolled through Facebook today, I noticed the location on a friend’s post was listed as Hayes, NC. It turns out that Hayes does not exist as a municipality but still appears on maps as it was once a stop on the railroad. That reminded me of the old “Neuse Station” depot that I used to live near and how it, too, shows up in maps as Neuse, NC though there’s nothing really there. I then did a search of my blog for posts including “depot” and turned up a great one I wrote in 2005 when I researched Neuse Station:

It was a day spent working in my yard which ignited my current interest. I took a break from digging a trench to climb up the hill near the tracks. On my way up, I spotted the stump of a sawed-off telephone pole. Nearby was a glass insulator, which led me to discover a long length of telegraph wire.

Curiosity got to me. How old was that wire?

I started putting a picture together from the resources on the Internet. These tracks behind our house are the oldest railroad tracks in North Carolina. They belonged to the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, which was commissioned in 1834 to build a line from Raleigh to Gaston, where other lines led to Petersburg and Norfolk.

Work was slow and sloppy, but progress was eventually made. The first stop northward was a station called Huntsville. Later this stop became known as Neuse Station. Neuse was located right outside my neighborhood. That makes this spot near my neighborhood the second-oldest depot in the state.

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Tom Petty’s final interview: There was supposed to have been so much more – LA Times

During my three years on the USS Elliot (DD-967) I listened to a lot of music. When we were in-port San Diego I was getting introduced to alternative music through 91X. At sea, the collective CD collection of my shipmates was the soundtrack. I heard many artists I wouldn’t otherwise have heard. Nirvana, De La Soul, Big Daddy Kane. Some I hated. Others I hated but later learned to love. And then there was Tom Petty.

Of course, you couldn’t grow up as a radio listener in the South without knowing Tom Petty so I’d been a fan from way back. Full Moon Fever came out just before I went on deployment, though and it earned a special place in my preferred music rotation. I don’t even remember which one of my shipmates owned it, but we played the hell out of that CD. And I never got tired of it.

Thanks for the music, Tom. You were one hell of a rocker and a great guy.

This is not the way things were supposed to happen.

When I sat down with Petty in the outer room of the cozy but fully equipped recording studio at his home above Malibu beach, the idea was for him to reflect on the wildly successful 40th anniversary tour he and the Heartbreakers had wrapped less than 48 hours earlier at the end of three sold-out nights at the Hollywood Bowl.

It was a triumphant stand particularly rewarding to Petty, a Florida transplant who considered himself and his band mates California adoptees. He said as much from the stage each night, noting how the Heartbreakers, although composed entirely of musicians born or raised in and around Gainesville, Fla., had been born at the Village Studios in West Los Angeles.

Source: Tom Petty’s final interview: There was supposed to have been so much more – LA Times