Yearly Archives: 2004

‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott, Dead at 38

I've been putting off writing this post for a while now, but if I put it off any longer, I'll probably lose the inspiration to write it altogether.

For those that haven't heard, five people were murdered during a Damageplan concert in Columbus, Ohio on the evening of December 8, 2004. One of the slain was the band's guitarist, 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott. He was also the guitarist and a founding member of Pantera. He was the first person targeted by the gunman, who was gunned down by a police officer responding to the situation moments later.

There are a few things that really bother me about this whole ordeal. First and foremost, Dimebag is dead. He is easily one of my favorite guitarists and one of the biggest inspirations for me in music. The man had an incredible gift for writing and playing, one of those gifts that few people possess and even fewer are able to take advantage of. In my opinion his greatest strength was his rhythm playing, and, more to the point, the riffs he brought to the table. I'm hard pressed to think of one other guitarist in metal that wrote as many badass riffs as he did. It's like he had a magic bag of guitar tricks that he would go into when writing songs and just pull them out, with no effort at all. I still say to this day that the main riff in “Regular People” is the coolest riff I've ever heard. He was also an incredibly gifted lead player, as evidenced in songs such as “Hollow” or “Floods”. The man had the gift of music, and that gift has been silenced.

Secondly, the circumstances surrounding his death really bother me. I was pretty shocked when I first heard about it, but as more details came out, it bothered me more and more. From the reports I have read, the murderer was an obsessive Pantera fan who believed that Pantera stole the lyrics to songs he had written, and also blamed Dimebag for Pantera's breakup. He apparently went to the show to kill all of the members Dimebag's new band, Damageplan, which included Dimebag's brother/Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul. Nobody can really say what was going on in the killer's mind, but I think it's pretty safe to say he wasn't all there. Regardless of whether he was sane or not, the fact that someone is that obsessed with a band is quite disturbing. Granted, I'm a large fan of music, and a rather rabid fan of my favorite bands, but killing a band member over the breakup of a band is just plain pointless, and totally stupid. If he was so distressed about Pantera's breakup, what does killing their guitarist and drummer accomplish? The only thing it does ensure is that there will be no reunion for that band. So in the end, the outcome is nothing but a senseless killing.

The third thing that really bothered me came out a few days after the killings, in response to the murders and the metal community's outpouring of grief over the issue. I stumbled across a post in one of the RSS feeds I peruse for my daily news. It brought the fury out of the person that had posted the link, and it did the same for myself and all of the people I sent it along to. The link in question is an editorial piece written up by a 'gentleman' named William Grim for the website iconoclast.ca. When I say 'gentleman', I of course mean an arrogant elitist prick whose head is so far up his own ass that it's in danger of coming out of his mouth, creating some sort of right wing conservative chicken/egg paradox. The piece was an ignorant and horribly judgmental depiction of Dimebag and the metal community as a whole. The man is flat out wrong on so many levels that I don't even know where to start. I guess I'll just pick them off one at a time.

It was highly amusing, and also terribly sad, to watch on television fans conducting a “vigil”for the slain Mr. Abbott outside of the Alrosa Villa.

The vigil was “highly amusing”? Watching people mourn the loss of an innocent man murdered in cold blood is amusing? Right. I'll be sure to chuckle when our good friend Mr. Grim expires.

But one can see why the heavy metal fans so closely identified with Mr. Abbott. He was an ignorant, barbaric, untalented possessor of a guitar and large amplifier system. Freakish in appearance, more simian than human, he was the performer of a type of “entertainment” that can be likened only to a gorilla on PCP. Lacking subtlety, wit, style, emotional range and anything approaching even the smallest iota of intellectual or musical interest, Mr. Abbott was part of a generation that has confused sputum with art and involuntary reflex actions with emotion.

Stunningly judgmental statements here. I think it's a pretty safe bet that Mr. Grim had never met Dimebag, but he seems perfectly comfortable passing sweeping judgments nonetheless. I'm particularly 'fond' of the part where he refers to Dimebag as untalented. It's a quite common belief that in order to accurately judge someone else's prowess in a particular skill or craft, you must also possess similar skills. While I can't speak to Mr. Grim's musical knowledge, many people have classified Dimebag as one of the most influential guitarists of the past 10 years. Gorillas on PCP do not garner such respect from people who know what they're talking about.

Part of the hard work of civilization is teaching young to be able to distinguish between the good and the bad in all aspects of life. If we teach our young children to obey the 10 Commandments and to obey the laws of the land, but don't teach them to realize that Johann Sebastian Bach is superior to Dimebag Abbott, we have failed as parents and mentors. If a person has gone through 12 or 13 years of education and has not developed an appreciation for the greatest artistic achievements of mankind, that education has been an utter failure.

I partially agree with the first part of this statement, but we quickly diverge after that. There are things that things that can be considered good and some things that can be considered bad, but art and music are not in this category. These things are completely subjective, and mean different things to different people. There is no magic equation or all-inclusive law that defines what is good or bad in the artistic and musical worlds. Musical and artistic tastes are as varied as the people on the planet, so we should instead focus on exposing our children to many forms of art and music and let them make their own conclusions as to what is “good” and what is “bad.” Mr. Grim makes many statements that seem to implicate that classical music of the renaissance is innately superior to heavy metal and the other forms of music of our day. Being a self-proclaimed elitist, I can only assume that he his trying to justify his musical tastes by trying to elevate them in the same fashion by which he attempts to elevate himself – ignorant judgments. No piece of music will elicit identical reactions in two people, so how can one piece of music be rationally considered better?

Ok, that's enough. There's no need for me to continue this, I'm just making myself mad. Rest in peace Darrell. We'll keep shredding.

\m/

Crippled Servers

Well, it happened. After 305 days of uptime, and only two months short of a full year, my server ran out of a gas and fell over the other night. It turns out that it was an actual hardware problem. For some reason, one of the processor slots died. Having a processor in it causes the server to reboot about two seconds after it hits the boot loader, every time. Well, to avoid having a crippled server, I brought my windows machine in from the basement (dual P3 500) and moved evertying over to that. It's a bit of an upgrade, so if the site loads faster, you'll know why.

Other than that… not much going on…. Same old same old. Work, sleep, work, sleep.

Cyclic Mindset

After a couple of fun and enjoyable Thanksgiving celebrations, I’ve dropped back into my funk. I’ve seen tons of theories on how our body and personality goes through cycles of various lengths, so I figure I must be at the ass-end of all of my cycles right now. I’m tired, cranky, and have like, zero patience. These things are all great traits to posess when you’re dealing with less than patient customers, which are often less than technically competent as well. It’s also detrimental when you have a puppy that’s following you around like, well, a puppy, constantly craving attention. I’ve never dealt well with ‘clingy’ things, be it people, animals, or objects. I need space, especially when I’m in moods like this. Having a dog yapping for attention every two minutes defintely doesn’t bode well for my space requirement. It also doesn’t help when you’re greeted to a ringing phone the instant you clock in on a monday morning, with a person complaining about your personal workplace nemesis – email problems. Yes, email is nice and convenient, but people, please realize that you can live for a few hours without email. The first email call was bad enough, but the next two calls in a row were both about email. The other ten or so calls about email totally pissed me off, and that mood didn’t really lift until this afternoon. Grr.

Not much else to talk about… I’ve beat Half-Life 2 a couple of times, and the ending is kinda of anti-climactic. I’ve been renewing my relationship with Counter-Strike though, which is good and bad. I was pretty much addicted to CS for a long time, and only since I’ve moved up to Lansing have I really stopped playing it. Well, the newest version of CS based on the Source (HL2) engine, and it’s really sweet, so I’m playing again. Oh well. The fact that I need to set up my laptop to play keeps me from playing too often. I’m also trying to quit Mountain Dew again. I kicked that habit for a few months last summer, but then I worked my first midnight shift. My triumph turned to tragedy and I had relapse. Hopefully I can kick it again. I’ve been clean for two days!

My dad sent me this image the other day, and I had a good laugh over it. Hopefully you will too.

funny picture

Scientists from the RAND Corporation have created this model to illustrate how a “home computer” could look like in the year 2004. However the needed technology will not be economially feasible for the average home. Also the scientists readily admit that the computer will require not yet invented technology to actually work, but 50 years from now scientific progress is expected to solve these problems. With teletype interface and the Fortran language, the computer will be easy to use.

/me coughs

Here I am again, “overdue” for a post, but I really don’t have all that much to say. Work has been ok for the most part, except for thursday. I had traded up Greg for the 4pm-12 shift since he had something to take care of that evening. When I came in Steven was pretty bent over some things, and the whole office was kinda grumpy. Crappy day I guess. One of the servers was acting up, and it was determined eventually that there was some faulty hardware. It had acted up before, so I thought it best that the old machine be retired in lieu of brand new hardware, just to make sure that the problems didn’t continue. Building the new server went pretty quickly dispite the fact that the phones were ringing pretty regularly, but the data transfer certainly did not. It turns out that the main hard drive was the faulty part of the old system, and it caused the transfer to crawl. About 3 hours into it, I did the math, and projected that the transfer would take about 30 hours. Definitely not acceptable, so I decided to restore from the previous day’s backups instead of trying to salvage the current data. Restoring the backup data still took a while, but it was a lot quicker than the original data. When my field triage was complete and I was ready to put the server back on the rack, I sat down to clean out the ARP cache of the core switch that server is plugged into, I noticed my monitoring system going haywire. I put the server back on the rack and took a peek at the monitoring server, and the main hard drive appeared to be dead. It was already like 5am at that point, and I didn’t feel like dealing with anything else, so I just went home and fixed it on friday. The drive wasn’t really dead, but it is certainly acting weird. I’ll have to keep an eye on it. One cool thing happened thursday… I was able to fix my monitor, which had crapped out on me a few days previous. It turns out that it was just a couple of cracked solder leads leading out of the power plug to the rest of the circuitry in the monitor, and gobbing some more solder across the broken area fixed things up fine. I was kinda surprised at the reaction I got from the guys at work… they seemed super impressed at the fact I had fixed it, even though it was a very simple fix. It was a 10 minute job, and about 8 minutes of that was waiting for the soldering iron to heat up.

Thanks to a couple guys at work being sick, I’ve got another one of my coughs. They always do a pretty good job of making me miserable, and this one is no exception. My abdominal muscles get worked so hard when I cough that I probably do the equivalent work of two or three situps each time I cough. I should market this to all the smokers of the world… “Cough your way to fitness with Mike Neir! No longer do you have to waste your time with those OTHER workout plans! Now you can kill yourself and prolong your life at the same time!” Hmm… maybe not. They also give me wicked headaches when I have a good coughing spat; headaches that pain medications don’t fix. I actially left work early on wednesday due to the headache that I had worked up. Sleeping doesn’t work out too well either since whatever is in my lungs tends to shift around, causing endless coughing fits. And to think… this will probably only be going on for another two or three weeks. I can’t wait.

Another cool thing happened this week I suppose… Half-Life 2 was released. It is officially the hottest game ever. Doom 3 is graphically stunning, and scares the shit out of me when I play it, but HL2 is a much more complete package overall. The graphic detail is stunning, but what may be even cooler than that is the physics engine. Things pretty much behave how they would in the real world, which isn’t always easy to replicate in a game. Wood splinters and floats on water, rocks sink. and even more impressive, the human (and unhuman) forms in the game act and react realistically too. I had a few long gaming sessions this week and I was able to beat it on easy mode, where simply looking at the bad guys really hard seems to kill them. I’ll play again on a harder skill level, and I’m sure I won’t have as easy a time of it. For now, here is a screenshot of the game showing the game’s female sidekick and some extras as well.

HL2 hotness

Yes, I’m still alive…

Rumors of my demise are greatly overstated. I've had a couple people comment on the fact that it's been nearly two weeks since I posted something, and well, they're right. I mentioned to one of said people that there hasn't really been much going on worth discussing, but later I recanted and said that there are things going on, but that I just don't really feel like discussing anything right now. I'm not sure whether it's because winter's kicking in again and I freakin' hate the winter, or the fact that we're doomed to suffer another four years with an idiot president at the helm of our country, or the fact that it's been busy at work lately, leading most of us to get pulled in many different directions constantly, making it damn near impossible to get stuff done every day, or perhaps it's because I still sit here at home at a computer for countless hours after sitting on a computer for countless hours at work, basically taking breaks only to play the same old crap on the guitar. Whatever it is, I just don't really feel like posting much these days.

I think I just need a spark so that the flames of something new can be lit. My life is in such a set routine, and it hardly changes. Wake up, go to work, proceed with various customer annoyances, come home. Sit at computer, play guitar, be lonely. Go to bed, Repeat. Something needs to change.

I suppose I should talk about the Slayer show I saw the other night with Matt, since it was a pretty sweet show. It was down at Harpos in Detroit, and Harpos was hopping. I couldn't believe how many people were there. Crazy insane skinhead psycho types were all abound. The first opening band, Mastodon, was pretty sweet, and I would definitely buy a CD of theirs in the future if I were to find one. The second band, Killswitch Engage, was ok, but I wasn't as impressed with them as I was Mastodon. Just not really my type I guess. Slayer was freakin awesome. Never before have I seen a crowd so active at a metal show. The mosh pits were so active that they would consume entire halves of the floor, which is good if you're in it, not as good if you're trying to stay out of it. Keeping a stable footing proved difficult at times. Regardless, they rocked the house, and it was worth the drive. The ticket was like $35 after all the bullshit TicketMaster convenience charges though, which is total crap. No show at Harpos should be over $20, ever.

Super Post 3000

Holding to the line of exciting posts with pictures, I offer more words with pictorial accompanyment. This past weekend was mostly uneventful if I remember right, because I don't remember much happening. I did meet my family down at my grandma Neir's place, and we had dinner in honor of my dad's birthday. It was good to get down there and visit… I don't do it nearly enough.

This week has been a large pile of pure steaming suck. Monday I ended up working 13 hours in the attempt to get a new vserver set up, but everything was against me. Our kickstart setup was totally janked up, and that put me behind. There were other assorted problems throughout the day, so I didn't really get working on the server setup until it would normally be time to leave. I got the server and the vserver template finished up around 7, but was there until 9 testing it and tweaking the template. Tuesday wasn't half bad, but it was still rather busy. Yesterday fucking sucked due to the fact that some little script-kiddie decided to throw a 140Mbit+ DoS attack at a server on our network. That did a good job at crippling our network for a while until Greg and I could isolate the problem and get it blocked. The rest of the day after that wasn't bad, but the first part was bad enough. Today was busy, which is enough to call a day bad.

Speaking of networks, we got our new core switches in on monday… a couple of Cisco 6509's. Each one of them can handle like 50 million packets per second, so attacks like the one yesterday should do little more than tickle our network. I can't wait for it to come online. I also set up a much more powerful SQL server for my monitoring system at work. The old had a dual Pentium3 box functioning as the sole entity in the system – SQL server, collector, and web server. Now I have a Dual Opteron box functioning as the SQL server, and it's far less loaded than the P3. This should give us the capacity to install the monitoring system on at least another 200 machines before load again becomes a problem, if things behave linearly that is. I'll tell you one thing though… Dual Opterons compile Gentoo in a hurry! 🙂

Ace has been doing as good as can be expected I suppose. He still has accidents now and again, mostly because we're otherwise occupied and miss the “hey I have to go!” warning signs.

Last, and possibly least, I've recorded a few more diddys on the guitar over the past weeks that haven't been posted, so here they are. The first one is a rather short one played on the Fender, tuned to B. I think it's all clean, so your fragile little ears should be safe. The second clip was recorded the next night, with much more distortion, again on the Fender. If you listen not-so-carefully, you can hear me tuning from B to C about 3/4 of the way through. The third clip is much more lengthy, with much more going on as well. I think I show some signs of progress in this one. There are actually parts that I would call good sounding, and not in my normal metal way. It's recorded on the Fender again. There are some parts that are overdriven as a result of the mic inputs not being calibrated right when I switched to the neck/middle pickup combo, but oh well, this one is still worth getting. The last clip was recorded last on the Carvin in normal tuning. It has the added 'bonus' of having beats in the background provided by Frooty Loops. I played all right on top of the more aggressive beat, but later on I put on a slow one, and it highlights the fact that I don't play slow music. Oh well.

What’s in a name…

Well, for a dog, probably not that much. We finally came up with a name for the little guy though… We've settled on Ace. A couple of Greg's friends suggested it, and it works. So that's that. We had (and could still have) a bit of a scare towards the end of last week though… Thursday night we found some fleas crawling around on the little guy, which certainly got our attention. We gave him a flea bath, and so far, we haven't seen any more. Who knows where they laid eggs though, so we'll just have to keep our eyes open.

Ace has also learned the power of whining and barking to get our attention, which is good and bad. He seems to gave got the idea that it's bad to do his buisiness inside and that we need to take him outside, because he'll run back and forth between Greg and I and whine, so we know he's gotta go outside. But, he's also figured out that barking will get our attention for other things, like throwing balls and giving him food. He even woke me up out of a sound sleep the other morning because he had to go out… but it was 3AM. I was definitely not too happy at that point.

The only other thing noteworthy going on is that the monitoring system I've been working on for a while is finally being deployed everywhere. It's currently monitoring about 375 servers, and doing it well. The server it's running on is getting strained, so I might have to upgrade things a bit, or a lot! 🙂

The obligatory POOP post

I just got done reading the latest posts over at dooce.com, as is my almost-daily ritual. Today's post, along with a good portion of her other posts, talks a lot about poop in various forms in the way that only Heather B. Armstrong can muster. While I don't really share her would-be obsession with poop discussions, poop is on the platter for this post, figuratively speaking. Our still-unnamed dog is making huge strides… huge strides in soiling our carpet. Yesterday was his “pee on the floor” coming out party, where he made puddles no less than 5 times. Well, in the spirit of progress, today became crap on the carpet day. The first deposit was made after I went to work but while Greg was still home, under my desk apparently. I can't say I was too happy about that, but Greg cleaned things up well enough that I didn't notice. The second was after I got home and took the dog for a walk. I learned my lesson from the morning before and waited until I was ready to take him out before I let him out of the cage. It was raining outside, so I wasn't about to wait outside all day for him to do his business. He was a good dog though and added to the rather wet conditions outside with his own unique contribution. We both went back inside, and not 3 minutes after I let him off his leash he had laid cable underneath the kitchen table, as if to say “Ha! You thought I was done! I'll show you!” I suppose I'll have to get used to it.

And in something totally unrelated to poop, I finally got the third Evergrey album that I ordered almost two months ago: Recreation Day. It was back-ordered at Amazon, which I should learn to expect. This is the sound that I remember from the concert. The other albums are most certainly sweet, but this is the Evergrey I heard on April 24th. There is a ton of double-bass throughout, sweet riffs, killer harmonies, and a ton of energy. I would recommend this album to anyone who likes metal. You can't really miss here. “Blinded” and “Visions” kick total ass, but I'm sure I'll love the whole album once I give it a few more listens.

Anybody got a towel?

Well, we were hoping that the new puppy was ultra brilliant or something, because until today he hadn't had any accidents, and had been pretty mild-mannered. Well, that didn't last. I made the mistake of letting him out this morning a few minutes before I was ready to take him out for his morning relief walk. I was brushing my teeth while I was putting on my shoes, and he seemed to be rather entertained with the toothbrush hanging out of my mouth. I went back upstairs and deposited the toothbrush, then came back downstairs. As I was reaching for the leash, he hunched down in the kitchen and let rip. So instead of just letting him out when I was ready, I got the added pleasure of cleaning up a puddle of dog piss. That made me a few minutes late for work, but nothing too horrible.

Greg got the same treatment a few minutes ago, but for much less reason. I had already taken him out 3 or 4 times since I got home from work, and he had done his duties each time, so there wasn't really any reason for him to have another accident. Well, there apparently isn't any rhyme or reason in the mind of a 9 week old puppy, and he demonstrated that fact by leaving another puddle on the carpet. Oh well… He's got to have the accidents before he learns that accidents are bad, so for a while we'll have to bear with it.

We're still deciding on a name, but we're getting closer. “Spock” has been suggested by a couple different people, but Greg isn't a huge fan of that. Greg found a dog naming site somewhere, found “Mr. T” on there, and was inspired. “Cisco” is also on his mind, so we'll see what comes about. He might be caving on Spock, so if a couple more people suggest it, we might have a vulcan dog!

A cute new friend…

No, unfortunately it's not a girl. But he is very cute! Yesterday, Greg got himself a little golden lab puppy and he made his presence felt here a few hours ago. I'm sure having a little puppy in the house will yield to lots of fun tales of crap on the carpets and chewed objects strewn about, but who cares! It's a cute little puppy! There will likely be tons of pictures as well. And who knows… maybe having the puppy around will help land some cute lady-friends…

We don't have a name for him yet… any suggestions? Cool names only please! In a daring nod towards Gentoo, Greg is considering “Portage”, but I don't know if the dog needs to be burdened with living up to something as cool as that namesake.