Monday, February 28, 2005

Finance and you

I balanced a checkbook. I think this is the first time I've ever properly done that. This is probably not something I should be bragging about. I put everything in Grisbi, an open-source personal finance tool, because I (a) don't have the hard drive space to install an X Windows/another OS to run GnuCash, (b) didn't feel like buying hardware or software, (c) think Grisbi it does the basics of what I need it for. It's a bit unstable on my WinXP Pro box (read: mean time between crashes is 30 minutes of continuous usage).

Hunter S. Thompson's passing reminded me of an image that was my desktop background for a while. The quote's from Fear and Loathing:

Holy Jesus, what are these goddamn animals?

Something about the expression on Spike's face gets me.

Also, in the last post, てまえ (temae) would be more insulting than お前 (omae). Pronounce it tey-mey, and sound like a gangster.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Your Mom's box

Since .Pete asked:

I'm not using this space for anything else this week, I might as well figure out the Japanese and Hebrew translations of "Your mom's box". Also, editing this post was a pain, so sorry if my misspellings make it worse

Japanese was easier because I knew of a reliable on-line dictionary that contains slang terms, but it was harder because I don't know it as well. お前のお母さんの箱(o-ma-eh-no o-kaa-san-no ha-ko) would be the literal translation of "Your mom's box". The only slang term I could find was 玉門 (gyo-ku-mon, a "beautifully decorated gate"). Judging from the few sites I could find it used in the desired context, I'm guessing it's more of a literary or formal euphemism than the neatly abrupt 'box'. If it's any consolation, お前 (omae) is often used in an insulting context. Use あなた (anata) if you want to be more straightforward, or, even better, leave it out if it's clear from context whom — or whose mom — you're talking to — or about. So: お前のお母さんの玉門 (your mom's "gate") would be o-ma-eh-no o-kaa-san-no gyo-ku-mon.

For Hebrew, a quick run through a translator yields a perfectly acceptable literal translation. I also went looking for a dictionary and found this as incomplete as it is. Here's a citing showing koos is apparently in common use (though the 'mom' part is more commonly spelled emek instead of ummek). This page looks like to be a slang dictionary (maybe) that includes the term. Koos has the opposite problem from the Japanese term — it's way more crude and explicit than "box".

So: הקופסה של אמא שלך, pronounced hakufa shel eemah shelcha, with a guttural ch, stress on the syllables ku, ee, and cha, is literally "your mom's box", and the modern slang derived from Arabic is קוס אמק, koos emek.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Laying bear a PHP bug

I've been playing around with security profiles on my main home computer (XP Professional), and have found new ways to destabilize my system. Upshot is, with the non-admin account I usually use, Firefox is crashing occasionally on form submittal.

I wanted to post here my response to a problem Mr. Bear was having at "The Truth Laid Bear" was having in case I lost it again:
This might be due to a known PHP bug.

The one thing I noticed from the lsof output is the value in the size/offset column for the one Unix domain socket (~544MB). Not the IP socket — I think that's stuck in CLOSE_WAIT because that's how Apache deals with connections while it's waiting for possibly dependent file handles to close.

If this is an error with Unix sockets, then it's probably an inter-process communication problem. Running 'lsof -U -r' should who that one socket going out of control parallel with the HTTPD process. Something in Apache is going nuts trying to talk to some other process, most likely MySQL.

The best match I could find is this bug first reported for PHP 4.3.4. There's an official PHP bug page for it. It's been fixed in CVS, but I don't see it incorporated into any 4.x release yet. As a bonus, the bug descriptions include test script to recreate the problem on purpose.

If that doesn't pan out, I did find one other thread where it looks like mysql_close wasn't behaving as the guy expected it to.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

What image scares me

I was reading Erica's post and was reminded of a TV news item about the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Mind you, I only heard about this when I was flipping through the TV channels in order. I saw a picture on one of the Spanish-language channels and instantly thought, "that looks like Birkenau. What a creepy thing to show a picture that looks so much like Birkenau." I was surprised that a straight-forward brick gatehouse would be instantly recognizable to me on television when the only other time I had ever seen it was one day eight years ago.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was the most infamous concentration camp complex built by the Nazis, and estimates place deaths there during WWII at 1-1.5 million. The site now is a protected historical landmark, which is a good thing: I visited one concentration camp where the Nazis did their best to cover their tracks; the site was found because of eyewitness accounts of people who escaped.

But making a site of murder into a place to visit is an odd proposition at best. If you have an odd fascination, or a morbid curiosity to get out of your system, visit the Auschwitz part of Auschwitz-Birkenau. There you'll find the signs and exhibits you'd expect from a historical museum: a pile of shoes, a pile of hair, signs with dates of events, a plaque stating what this or that building was used for. Afterwards, you can eat a muted lunch at the picnic tables while the kids to young to understand play tag.

If you want a first-hand feel of the scope, the history, and the passage of time, go to the Birkenau part of the complex, preferably with someone who was interred there who is actually willing to talk about his past (an inevitably dwindling group of people). It is large. There is no plexiglas in front of the furniture. Half was preserved, reconstructed here and there to fill in blanks, and half is in ruins. Cramped wooden bunks are still intact, the buildings still stained and painted on the outside in dark brown. Grass is growing over the train tracks where the cattle cars ran. One of the caved-in gas chambers is now a muddy, stone-strewn morass. Half of it is neatly kept so that you understand, and the worst is left to the decay it deserves.