A comment somewhere

I posted a comment somewhere, and I keep a copy here in case the page goes awol in the future.


Eric11210 is an Israel apologist. I don't have a problem with that, he loves his country very much and he sees very little value in having palestinians around. It's a common belief system. My reply (one very minor formatting-only edit):


Your Israel is slow strangling the palestinians. You take their land, you deny them water, you overcharge them for electricity, you kill them, you don't let them walk from their house to their farm because there's a wall in between. You burn their olive trees. You kill them some more. You imprison them with no charge for decades. You build some more walls to strangle them some more. You build roads that Palestinians can't use. You let pregnant women wait at checkpoints until they give birth. You know the drill. No doubt there's some torture here and there, but what's a little torture between enemies, right? If they're guilty, maybe they'll talk. If they're innocent, well, they deserve it. The harder you make life, the more likely they'll leave to live in squalid refugee camps over some border somewhere. Or in Gaza, where you can squeeze them even more efficiently (although, unfortunately, the Egyptians might not be playing ball for much longer.

In the past, when it was jews who were treated as above, some fought and some didn't. Much as some palestinians fight and some don't. Things are different though when you're on top fucking the ragheads until they die. Now you have right on your side, don't you?

They don't have nukes, they have very few guns and explosives. They have ill trained personnel (they can't train in Israel since they'll be found out and killed before they get any good). The weak fight with what weapons they have. Were your Haganah innocent of psychological warfare and the war for international opinion then when you were taking Israel from the British? Or, in fact, for several decades after independence when you were under attack from (or attacking) the Jordanians, Syrians and Egyptians? I'm neither justifying nor approving of those terror bombs in civilian areas by the way. But again, they fight with what weapons they have. They can't fight standup fights against the army because they'd lose every time. Your enemies either get better or they die. You've been killing the stupid ones for two generations now. As time progresses you get what you don't kill.

Some (to be clear, Israel) are lucky to have friends who will give them weapons and diplomatic cover (particularly if it's american weapons and support, and better yet if they're religious fundamentalists because that sort don't listen to reason). Sadly for the Palestinians, the world is probably not going to bat for them. Or not enough to get your boot off their neck. So they're going to strangle, slowly. Until (as is devoutly wished by far too many in the government), the palestinians are all dead. Or cowed so completely they aren't even human anymore.

And when that day comes, will you be proud of your epic and historic victory?


Selenium RC clears storedVars between testCases -- workaround

I can't believe that this bug has been around since 2009 and still hasn't been fixed.

Selenium RC doesn't recall stored vars from another testcase within a single testsuite

and a similar bug (but incorrect title) in:  http://jira.openqa.org/browse/SEL-605">SEL 605

I couldn't get Krishnan Kannan's workaround with -userExtensions to work (because I'm blindly copy-pasting, not understanding at any depth how it's supposed to work), so am now using a custom edited selenium-server-2.0.5.jar until I can either get the user extension to work or it gets fixed upstream :-(


Mobile Internet... ACTIVATED

I woke up because I was cold. And since I was up already I decided to setup our prepaid vodafone USB modem.

As I've noted elsewhere (although that was for a postpaid vodem), it just works. If it hasn't been setup before then it's necessary to select country, network and one of the vodafone networks. The right choices are New Zealand, Vodafone, Unrestricted.

When I first plugged it in I couldn't get an internet connection through it, but that's just because there was no credit in the prepaid account. When I first bought the modem I was told by someone at the vodafone call center that, even though it's prepaid, it would be necessary to pay the minimum $10/month continuously. The implication was that if I stopped paying for three months and then used it on the third month, I'd have to pay $20 for the intervening two months plus $10 for the current month.

Since this is just a backup internet connection for Sol to use for remote work if/when our DSL goes down (and for out-of-town trips), I kept it disconnected. It's been around 8 months since the last credit ran out and when I added $10 today, the internet connection went live immediately. So either the policy has changed (unlikely, I think), or the call center people were instructed to downplay the prepaid-ness of the modem.

The $10 is just for 100MB of data a month (Broadband Lite). We'll probably run through the 100MB in one day :-) but then I'd just top-up. I don't mind paying the higher perMB rates of BBLite (versus BBSurfer, $30/month for 512MB) since we're going to use this modem so rarely (fingers crossed, knock on head). Also, to switch to BBSurfer I'd either need to use a windows computer or find a version of Vodafone Mobile Connect that works with Ubuntu 10.10. The last three versions I've tried don't, so I'm not able to send an SMS from the modem to subscribe to BBSurfer, or read any SMS (if I were to subscribe the modem to myvodafone). I could get around those issues easily enough, if I cared enough. But I don't. So we'll just top-up because we won't be able to stay under 20MB of data a data in Auckland :-).


gnumeric generated dates to text

I needed to generate test data. I was using gnumeric for this (makes copy pasting and test replacement easy for columns [same field]).

It was all going well until I needed dates to be not all the same. I could have generated random dates but I didn't need that, just needed dates to not be the same. So in the date column I set the first date to 01/01/1970 (new zealand format, mm/dd/yyyy), set the column to type date and then set the succeeding dates to be =[column][row]+1 (e.g., =A1+1).

The test data needed to be mm/dd/yyyy since that's what jmeter would push into an input field that would be interpreted as a date. But when I'd save to CSV gnumeric kept outputting the dates in ISO format. So I needed to munge the dates.

1. Copy the column
2. Paste-special to an empty column, select Values
3. Select the new column and Ctrl-H (search and replace)
4. set the "Search For" text to ^
5. set the "Replace By" text to '
6. click on the Range checkbox
7. click on Advanced and specify "Search Type" to be "Regular Expression"
8. click on OK.

Saving as CSV now has the dates in the format I specified in the spreadsheet. There might be a way to tell gnumeric to output dates in locale format when saving to CSV, but I couldn't find it. Fortunately, Paste special and regexp search and replace were available, making the workaround possible.


Davao-CDO-Camiguin 2004

I've posted some of these pictures here before. But now they're on FB too.

Davao-CDO-Camiguin 2004

Also, John has some new videos:

Spider John:




Andrew Zuckerman's BirdBook is incredible

I can't stand all-flash websites. I always make fun of any that I see. I make an exception for birdbook.


Too sweet

mirrored from my facebook note of the same title

Last night I *loved* Alison Holst Decadent Delight Muesli.

Generous quantities of plump, moist apricots and flaked almonds; tossed in a delicious mix of oats and wheat germ; drizzled with honey and flavoured with essense of almond - toasted to perfection and then sealed to capture that just cooked flavour.

Today, it's too sweet. Good for eating by itself. Timmy liked it as a snack last night. But too sweet with milk. Even if I were to add oatmeal it'd be too sweet.

Maybe I'll try the less decadent flavours.

Huh, en-GB spelling even. And facebook's "Format your note" tips doesn't mention blockquote. But it works above.


Recent videos

John Walking:

Eating Rice Rusks
We bought John some wheat rusks a few weeks ago. He didn't like that very much. A few days ago though, Sol found something he likes. Very convenient snack since Sol and Timmy like it too. We need to buy some more.

Hmmm, "Baby Mum-Mum Original, Premium Rice Rusks". And on the box there's a picture of an eager toddler looking up with the words "WANT-WANT" under him. The branding could be improved.

John says "Tee!". I often count to three (with emphasis on the three) when playing with John, e.g., when raising him high. Now, when I say "Threeeeeee!" he says "Teeeeee!"



Healthcare experiences in New Zealand

This post on our experiences with healthcare in New Zealand was originally on Facebook. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to make it available to the world (access control is "Everyone", but that's just everyone on Facebook). Please click there for the full context (pictures and text).

Initially I'm posting the text here. I'll probably push the pictures up too, at some point. Or I might not.


Experiences with Healthcare in NZ

After I posted a link, David asked me,

So how's healthcare down there tigs? Free everything and no pre-existing clause? :)

I started replying but gave up because it was getting long for a comment and FB would reject it. A reply in status would also be too long. Thus the note.

The following is just a narrative of our experiences, it's certainly not complete. I'm sure there are broad areas that we have absolutely no hinanawan about :-).

Not everything is covered by government healthcare. My eyeglasses, for instance, and (I think) dental care, need to be paid for individually or by insurance. There are government hospitals and private hospitals. If you don't like government healthcare because you don't want to wait for that elective surgery, you can go to a private hospital. You might even buy health insurance so that you can experience the private hospital experience (anecdotally, at certain levels of care, you get good wine with your meals :-).

Visits to a general practitioner are subsidized by the government (and, possibly, by the locality also). Currently the nominal cost of an adult's visit to a GP at our health center is around NZ$75 (exchange rate is currently around .70 USD per NZD, although it's been as low as around .52 in the past year or two, I think) for an adult. There are government discounts/subsidies. After those are factored in, I pay NZ$45 to see the doctor.

Timmy's and John's visits are NZ$15. Except when they go to see the doctor for vaccinations. Those are free and performed by nurses (they stick the needles in better than the doctors do :-).

So not all healthcare is *free*, but it's reasonably priced. The fee is a very affordable deductible and a speed bump against people abusing the front-end system (the GPs and nurses who will treat anything that doesn't need specialist care or equipment).

The local clinic has maybe 7-12 doctors on staff (not all at the same time) and the same number or maybe fewer nurses. Doctors visits (and nurse assistance, e.g., for vaccinations) are by appointment although they're always available for emergencies. The local clinic closes at night though, and on weekends. When it's closed emergency cases go to any of the nearby hospitals. There are three or four hospitals within 20 minutes drive. Doctors appointments may have a wait period of a week. You can see the same doctor every time, if you want, but your waits will probably be longer (particularly if the doctor goes on his month-long vacation). You can also just see any available doctor. Your health records are in a centralized system and any doctor in the Wellington area can see your records (no data about how private hospitals interface with that database, they probably have access).

Government healthcare isn't run for profit, so it will never reject you for treatment due to pre-existing conditions. You might need to *wait* for treatment, and the hospitals might not be as flashy as in the U.S. (and certainly there are fewer tests and MRIs and such) but you won't be refused treatment.

A friend at work has a son with leukemia (I think). He's been treated at the Wellington hospital cancer center. He needed some treatment that they couldn't do here, so he now goes to an Auckland cancer center. Next week (I think, I was chatting with my friend on the bus the other day), he goes to Auckland for his bone marrow transplant. If that's anything like sol's giving birth to John, it'll be all free. That he has to go to Auckland means that the family still needs to pay out some large sums, but they can cope since they don't need to pay for the healthcare itself, just the travel to Auckland and lodgings there for the parent who brings the child.

When Sol's mother was here, she had to go to the doctor for prescriptions for her vertigo and high blood pressure. We paid NZ$75 for the doctors visit and the meds were subsidized (in the same range as Philippine prices, *much* cheaper than in the U.S.).

There's a prescription refill service (Sol says it costs NZ$15 for a refill, and it can only be refilled once). So it's possible to get prescription refills cheaply while cutting doctors visits in half. I wouldn't be surprised (but have no data) if the number of refills can be higher than one for things like blood pressure, heart or diabetes meds which the patient is probably going to need for the rest of his life.

When Sol was pregnant with John, we were lucky that a midwife we met at the hospital lived near us. She became Sol's midwife. She'd come to the house on Saturdays to take Sol's blood pressure, weight, and fetal heartbeat monitoring (she brought the doppler device to the house, I got to hear John's heartbeat :-) etc. She arranged for the gestational diabetes tests and told sol what the results were. If there had been a problem, she'd have told sol what adjustments to make.

Sol had a choice of home birth, water birth (I think at the hospital, but I think also possible at home), or hospital birth. Since Sol had Timmy via caesarian section, we decided on the hospital option in case another one was required.

When Sol went into labor, we waited a long while because we (and the doctor) wanted to try for a normal birth first. After sol had tried for the normal birth with no success (the doctor and midwife were very impressed at her efforts), the doctors (with 2 and 3AM phone consultations with a specialist) decided (and we agreed) to go with the C-section.

Sol in the delivery room, being prepped for C-section

The view from the other side, doctors hard at work.

First picture of John

At the maternity ward, John slept beside Sol's bed.


Just like Timmy, John had jaundice. Sol stayed a few extra days at the hospital because John had to undergo UV treatment for the jaundice and they were taking blood samples to monitor improvement.

The maternity ward was our least favorite part of the whole experience. We weren't in a private room (we were spoiled by St Lukes Hospital :-), so John would wake up when the other babies would cry. And there was one baby who cried a lot since he couldn't feed. He figured it out after a while, but it was very stressful the first few days.

They wouldn't let me stay in the hospital overnight, so I couldn't help Sol with picking up John when he needed to be fed at night. That was hard for Sol since she was recovering from the C-section. The nurses and doctors were very good though. And the nurses, particularly, were a huge help to Sol. She'd press the button, they'd come over and help with the baby (for feeding or diaper change).

So it's not all roses. On the other hand, I didn't have to pay multiples of my monthly salary for the C-section (at St Lukes, we paid 3x my monthly salary, I think, and that was with the doctor's fee discounted by half!).

There's also a compulsory (for workers) accident compensation system (www.acc.co.nz). So anyone who has an accident at a workplace is going to get compensation. You don't even have to be working there. We were confused when we got an ACC letter one day. Apparently someone had reported Timmy's accident at school (when he cut his eyelid) and so we were entitled to refunds for any health care costs.

As it happened, Timmy had just the one NZ$15 doctor's visit when the doctor applied glue to the wound. We didn't bother to claim at the ACC. We're hoping to avoid future dealings with the ACC , but if I get carpal tunnel syndrome or similar, I know who to go to. A friend of ours (and his wife) got physical therapy treatments via the ACC. There might also be some situations when eyeglass prescriptions would be refunded by the ACC, but I haven't looked closely enough at that. Maybe with my next lens purchase.


No, stay in your country

Some anti-republican wants nutjob rabid republicans out of the U.S.A.

No, keep them. Work out your differences in your own country, peacefully if you can, but any which way otherwise, just keep them away from us. Don't send them to Iraq. You've done enough damage there. Sending them to Iraq would make you (non-nutjob republicans, and non-republicans) just as bad as the nutjobs. It's not your country. Your country is right there. Stay home, work out your problems. Don't involve us in your stupidities and hate. We have enough of that and we're working out *our* problems -- and sometimes, not, but this is *our* world out here. You stay in yours.

John's first steps

John took his first steps today. This was also (as far as I know) his first long period of standing on his own.

There's also some contact of John's teeth with Timmy's forehead at the end :-).

The long period of standing was because he was watching TV (behind Sol).


Uncertainty makes me say No

A lady knocked on our door today. She said, "Hi, I'm fundraising for X charity, are you interested?"

I said no.

I would have been open to giving a certain amount without any hesitation at all (say, NZ$10-15, larger amounts I'd have to think about and even larger amounts I'd have to talk to sol about :-). Unfortunately, her question was too open ended. We have two children, one was in the living room at the time (being angelic just then, but things change) and I'm babysitting a dist-upgrade on one laptop just now. There are house chores I haven't done yet.

So I said no, because I didn't know what the range of the donation would be, I didn't know how much time I'd have to spend chatting with her and I didn't know whether I'd have to *think* about anything (to begin with, how much to give). If she'd said,

"Hi, I'm fundraising for X charity, we're selling these 15 dollar T-shirts." Or these 5 dollar chocolates, or even these 2 dollar raffle tickets (*even* because I avoid games that involve pure randomness), I would have said yes immediately.

Money is tight, but time is far tighter, and frankly, I don't have any brains left to use on the weekends. Sometimes, I run out of brains on Thursday.


John saying "Stay!"

John says "Stay!" a lot lately. He's learned it from us, since we say it to him a lot in the imperative when we're changing his nappies or clothes. He's very wriggly. And strong.


Vodafone fail

Vodafone need to disable logging to the page. They're leaking information (hostname, port, that they're using weblogic). I don't know if that's exploitable... but even if it isn't yet, it might be sometime.

I was going to add credit so my BestMates rate wouldn't expire. Maybe I'll just let it expire if they won't let me pay for it. This has happened before. I also pay for Sol's and her sister's prepay accounts and I had a similar problem with trying to pay once before.

Huh, I gave up on posting to their forums since it requires logging in. And when I tried to "contact by email", after I typed in the message (just a link to her and some short text suggesting they turn off logging to the page) and gave them my email address, the next page was a registration page. I'm already registered. I don't want to register again. I don't want to login. Damn. I think it might be time to switch to 2-degrees. And if I do, we'll switch as a family.

The other time this happened (weblogic errors on the top-up page) I called the 777 support number and was confronted with a call tree. I don't like call trees. When I pressed zero though, I was informed that talking to an operator would be pay-per-minute. I'm even more averse to paying for support. So I cancelled the call immediately.

Aha, I could probably click on the "Top-up online now" link and prepay with no problems. But that requires registering the credit card with them. I don't want to do that either. I'm a Luddite in many ways. I want to type in the card info everytime. It probably doesn't help security any, but I feel better about Vodafone (or any other company that uses my credit card) having one less place it stores my credit card info. It's bad enough that they actually take the credit card information instead of having the credit card company and not storing the credit card information locally.

top-up does finally succeed a few hours later. But this isn't about eventually topping-up (if I forget to try on the same day, BestMates *will* expire and then I might cancel it because I don't really need it anymore), it's about that logging error. Don't log to the browser in production pages.


Waiting in Acapulco

Sol thought out loud that it would be nice to bring the children to Disneyland. And then she said it's too bad we couldn't go to the one in California, or the one in Florida since I wouldn't go with them.

I was being too linear (and insensitive) when I replied that they could go to Disneyland and I'd wait for them in Acapulco. As much as I'd love to visit the U.S. and see friends and beloved, I won't do it. Until the U.S. pays reparations to Iraq (and preferably Afghanistan) for the deaths it's caused, I will leave the U.S. alone with its iniquity and wait (probably beyond death) for it to receive what it deserves. And as a practical matter, the U.S. never pays reparations, because it can do no wrogn. And anyone who says otherwise gets shot.

There is also the simple (and perhaps irrational and innumerate [because I'm an inconsequential little fish and it's not like anyone would actually care what I think, but I ignore the statistics and worry anyway]) fear that if I do visit the U.S., if anyone at immigration or customs googles my name they might find their way to this blog and subject me to a cavity search and other indignities. And frankly, if I'm on my way to american gaol (no matter how temporary, even if it's only a small holding cell at an airport), I'm going to fight until somebody dies (and the firepower curve being what it is, that's probably me). So I'm just not going to the U.S. I've got children to raise to manhood, and my children are dearer to me than anyone in the U.S.

But sol wasn't serious. American Disneyland isn't a big deal. And maybe the kids won't grow up wanting to go there anyway. For preference, I'd rather we visit, e.g.,

The Okinawa Aquarium

or maybe travel through India, Nepal, Bhutan. We'd love to go through Morocco, maybe Egypt (I'd rather not visit Israel until the Palestinians have a state). Spain, France, Italy, Greece would be good (but I'm just dreaming online here, I don't know that we'd be able to afford those :-).

I bet the whole family would love to visit Acapulco :-). Even if, after so many years in New Zealand, my intestinal flora will no longer be strong enough to fight off Montezuma's revenge.

We're certainly going to visit only a small fraction of those places. But visiting any at all will be the fulfillment of dreams I never thought could be fulfilled, just two years ago.

Diving at CamiguinAction in Jun 2007

Sol and I (and Timmy) went to Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin in June 2007. This was for Timmy's baptism, and also a vacation.

Vacation pictures are at: