Friday, June 30, 2006
The plan is to make it tomorrow, but as we're going away for the day, I think we'll shoot for Sunday. It'll make five small pizzas, so there will be room for experimentation with toppings, which I know my daughter will like.
Have to find a recipe for a decent sauce, too -- none of the ones I've found thus far sound great - they're all oregano, basil, tomato sauce. I'm not looking for something amazing but something with a bit of bite would be good. Course, if I wanted to make it a dessert pizza, this would be interesting....
Thursday, June 29, 2006
I was just sitting here in the living room, reading This Alien Shore, and thinking intermittently about a problem at work. I have been working on the installation of a piece of software for some time, and it's only been about a month since the PC part of it started working. Now today I got the news that the mainframe portion doesn't seem to be entirely compatible with what I have on the PC. I have to apply maintenance to it. That's not something that I normally do, and it scares me a little, but its not that big a deal. Still, if I can avoid it, I would. I was trying to remember where I got the software that I have on the mainframe, and I just remembered that I got it from the same source that the people doing the same thing at another location got theirs. I was a little concerned that perhaps, in my flailing around when I was starting this project, I had picked it up from one of the many places that could have had it -- when my company bought the company that makes this software, we dispersed the knowledge and support of it to the four winds, and then some. So it was possible -- but no.
So that's good. Still, I need to update this, or replace it with something newer. How to do that? Well, the suggested way is to apply maintenance - but it turns out that a) that maintenance is locked up in a system that I can't seem to get into -- another of our Know The Secret Handshake systems, and b) the first page of that site says, coyly, that not all of the product that I'm looking to update is there -- so even if I get in, it might not be there. Or it might be there, but be old stuff. I can't tell.
Then I thought Aha! Wait a second! I got another shipment of this code from a completely different source, and that source is known (or at least believed) to be newer than the source that fed me originally. Perhaps that will be current enough that I don't need to apply maintenance! Not terribly likely, but not out of the question. And then I remembered that when I had gotten the update for the PC, that site -- whose existence I hadn't even suspected; one of the many dispersed locations I mentioned above -- also had mainframe software. Perhaps that was even newer - again, I can't tell. And I can't remember that site name, so I can't sign on from this laptop (our home one) because, though I could get to our internal system from here, our internal search engine is fairly poor, and the odds of finding that particular site aren't too good.
But, I thought, I do have a pointer to that other site, buried in my browser bookmarks on my work laptop, which is sitting over against the wall in its bag. Ah -- but that piece of junk takes about fifteen minutes to start -- and its got to be plugged in, because its battery is just about shot -- and then longer to start up the browser, and then find the entry. And longer if I wanted to use that browser to get to the site, and actually look at it.
And I thought about the book I'm reading, which is populated with people who are linked cybernetically with computer systems, so that they can push and pull data at will, as needed, instantaneously.
And I sighed.
Which is when I got my insight.
What if part of the fun of coming up with a new (whatever) is making up the words, so that the people who know are In The Club, and those who don't have to clamor for entry?
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
We have to give the animal what is essentially ibuprofen for a while to ease the (assumed) pain, and bring her to the vet for physical therapy. I have visions of a guinea pig in a starched white coat prescribing 'Timothy hay. More Timothy hay. LOTS more.'
Um...they're kidding, right? Because unless image recognition has gotten a LOT better than last I heard, this is going to generate a LOT of false positives.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
And now it's thundering down AGAIN! Break out the water wings! And be very, very grateful that we don't have a basement....
The pointer to that site, incidentally, was found here. It's worth seeing, too.
I suggest that it's sixty/forty. If they were inherently trustworthy, would the press be as likely to 'out' anything they find? You can read into that what I think about their trustworthiness, but I think that no, if they played straight more often, if they gave as much as they took, they'd be more likely to get a fair deal from the press -- or even one balanced in their direction.
That said, was the outing of the program objectively a good thing? No, I don't think it was. Some things should be secret, and though I seriously don't like the extent to which BushAndCheney have stretched the rationale, I have to agree: this is one of them. These are evil people without scruples that we're against, and sometimes the end does justify the means. Should the people who did the outing be reprimanded? In a better world, yes. In the BushAndCheney one - regrettably, yes, there too. But not severely, because there's a countervailing justification. The press may not have exposed the program through noble motives, but the action was another chip against the governmental monolith that BAC want to erect, and have already substantially erected. In that light, it's not a bad thing.
Monday, June 26, 2006
On the way back , we wanted to mail some letters. Not a single mailbox did we see anywhere other than those attached to houses and businesses. Whatever happened to those things? Does noticing that mark me as eligible for codgerhood, junior grade? When I was in Australia, seemed like they were everywhere. Of course, I already had a warm feeling for Australia Post in comparison to the US Mail (why, I was there for three months and they never raised their rates); seeing the mailboxes just seemed natural. Not so much here, apparently.
Speaking of lacks, I've noticed that I'm getting fewer comments lately. I wonder why that is. Boring, perhaps? Perhaps I should turn off commenting so that it won't be so obvious to me.
The rain continues -- we've gotten almost six inches, apparently, which is a phenomenal amount. I don't tend to watch the news, so I've been spared hearing people say that this still doesn't make up for...and so on, but I'm sure it's out there. I did hear one person say that local towns have had so much flooding that its imperiled the integrity of the drinking water. They have to boil it before they use it. Argh.
This weekend our neighbor with the pool will be away, and they've asked us to watch their cat. In return, we can use their pool if we want. I bet it rains!
Sunday, June 25, 2006
One possibility is that I'm afraid that after the 'evaluation' this week, they'll conclude that I am not a candidate for the surgery, or a candidate only using cutting-edge (for which read: significantly more expensive, without concomitant assurance of results) techniques. I don't think either will happen, but I can't rule them out. My dental history is not good.
Another possibility is that they will say they can do it, but that it will take significantly longer than the norm because (fill in the blank). That's not too big a deal. But if they tie that to 'and you can't use that cute partial denture during that period', or 'you'll need a new, custom, expensive denture to fit over the implants while they're healing', then it becomes a deal.
A third is simply that the insurance payout will be minimal (always the goal of insurance companies) so that we have to bear the overwhelming brunt of the cost. Looking at my insurance company's chart of what they pay, I think that's possible. I really want to say that this isn't likely, but I think it is. (One comment that I've received on this subject was from a woman who doesn't have insurance, and would have to pay for all of her dental work herself. That sucks. I don't like using that phrase, but there are times none else will do.)
Finally, a fourth is that the surgery will fail. The success rate is between 90 and 95 percent, so the odds are good, but still....
I think that the continued overcast skies and rain have got me down, but I can't honestly say that bright blue skies would do much for me. When I'm in a funk, nothing seems to get me out of it except time.
I'll be glad when this is over. Or at least significantly underway, so that I can get out of this wimp mode.
Our neighbor came by a few minutes ago to give us a small gift from the wedding we attended yesterday - one of the floral centerpieces. We had given the newlyweds a small cash gift, and found today to our surprise that as things go, it was considered large -- her mother said that they were 'astounded' by it. One of the benefits of living in a low cost-of-living area, I guess.
The adults at the wedding got an unexpected, unusual, and quite thoughtful gift - a CD of the music that they'd compiled for the reception. It's an eclectic mix, and I am oddly comforted by the fact that several of the pieces are ones that I both recognize and like.
Still haven't made that pizza recipe, but I still want to. I have high hopes for it. No special reason, I just do.
In case you wondered: That lead in to a Bond novel has been rattling around in my brain for a while. I don't know why. So I thought that perhaps if I wrote it down , I could think about something else. The goal was to write something believable. Blofeld, particularly, had to be believable. Not so much evil as amoral. Bond had to have spirit but brains as well. I thought the idea of someone with a weapon behind him, whom he did not suspect prior to the exchange, and set to kill him without warning, would dampen his enthusiasm -- his 'I've always gotten out of tight scrapes before, I'll get out of this one' attitude. I wanted him to plausibly think 'this time, I might not', and see what that did.
Don't know if I'll do any more. It was fun, though.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
"I must say, Mister Bond", he observed quietly, "I am disappointed to find you alive. I had hoped... well, that doesn't matter. The need for your death has abated. " He shifted his stance. " An opportunity has arisen for you to be of service to -"
Bond tried the strength of the clamps, and Blofeld paused. "Lucifer! " A voice replied from behind Bond. "Yes, sir?" "Should Mister Bond attempt again to leave that chair, kill him, immediately. Do not wait for the word of command." Bond started. "Hardly sporting, Blofeld." The stocky man simply looked at him, considering, watching.
"Now that that's out of the way, Mister Bond: as I was saying, you can be of service to me."
Just prior to going over, my daughter burst into our bedroom with the news that another neighbor was already over there, and shouldn't we get going? I commented mildly that she was wearing more eyeshadow -- significantly more -- than she normally wears. I didn't know that my wife had just made the same comment. My daughter said abruptly that she didn't want to go. After about ten minutes, I convinced her to go, and she did, but she was grumpy pretty much the whole time. She cheered up when she saw some people she knew, and when she saw the bride and groom, but then was grumpy again. She came back home, and, a few minutes later, I did, too. It's warm and somewhat humid out there.
About fifteen minutes later, her mother came back, mildly irate that she was not there. She insisted that she had to go, and my daughter fled in tears to her room. After a while, she calmed down, and we talked. The thing is, neither she nor I like crowds, and we don't make friends easily. Crowds don't bother her mother, and her mother can make friends with a wooden Indian. So after a bit, she agreed to go back for five minutes -- and almost exactly five minutes later, she said she wanted to come home, and she did.
I wish I could help her with this form of shyness. I wish I knew how hard to urge her down a path I myself can't comfortably travel. And I wish I could help her mother understand why she is like that.
Friday, June 23, 2006
b) I came across this expertise-matching site this evening. It's hard to do what they say they do, and do it well, with both power and elegance -- but I hope it succeeds, anyway, because I do truly love things like this. We need LOTS of it in our complex hyperlinked fifteen degrees of separation world. I wish them luck.
While we were at our friend's home in Tucson, I noticed a Sony Cybershot on the counter, and I played with it. It's quite nice -- very light, quick lens. I don't think it has as many capabilities as ours, but it's no slouch. I liked the feel of it, the drop-it-into-your-pocketability of it. It's a slick package.
I just saw it on a web page that tracks digital cameras, and was surprised to find that rather than being a cheap camera, it actually cost more than our Canon (or more than what we paid; about the market price for ours).
I want one.
Absolutely no reason to get it. Absolutely no way I will. But still....
It's rather neat to be able to take out your teeth to clean them.
I want magnetic implants that click into place, and can be removed at will. Perhaps a neuro - computer to the brainstem?
I'd like that.
It was fun.
a - how will the Democrats use this to help force such sleazebags out of office?
b - should the Democrats take over the House and/or Senate, how will they resist becoming exactly the same sort of sleazebags? Or is the question better put as 'will they'?
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I'm getting comfortable with the idea of having the dental implants done. I wasn't worried about it, but I was anxious over the cost. Now I'm thinking of it this way: it's not a trivial amount by any normal means, but its about what we save and earn in interest in six months. I'm willing to work another six months (at the end of the period when I thought I'd be leaving) to pay for it. Or help pay: I will welcome any assistance that the insurance folks want to give, or can be coerced to give. And speaking of staying, I got a very guarded piece of good news: the manager of the little tiny piece of MegaGiHugic Software where I work has put my project on the list of things that he tells our customer about. Why is this good? Because it puts pressure on his subordinate to keep the project moving along -- and one of his subordinates told me that if and when that guy complains about the pace of progress, he will casually point out that I spend half my time, easily, working on something else (the something that I'd like to not be doing) and things would certainly move faster if I was freed of that burden. Do I think it'll happen? (sigh) No. But I can dream.
Two days till my wife's birthday. Haven't gotten her a thing. There are perils in being married to someone who is so magical that nothing does her justice (at least, in my eyes). But I'll try, anyway.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
The one that the nurse recommended doesn't take insurance; the other does. We're talking, overall, about the cost of our weeklong trip to London, two years ago. We've been assiduous in saving, conservative in spending, just so we could if we needed to -- but I'd thought the need would start in another ten years or so.
I figure I trust the dentist, and he trusts the guy who takes insurance -- but I really hate being in the position where I have to make the choice.
Creativity may seem to come naturally to some folks but that is probably just a perception. Ideas flicker and flit through our minds so fast that often we can miss them if we aren’t aware of it. The truth is though that much of what we think is made up of things we have thought before. It is easy to go through an entire day thinking things like:
- I’m tired
- pizza would be good for lunch
- Dick Cheney looks like The Count from Sesame Street
- work is boring
- got to pick up the dry-cleaning
- Lost is on tomorrow night
- sex would be nice
You get the point. It is easy to go through a day, week, even a month without really thinking things you haven’t thought before.
If you are feeling a little brain dead try and set aside 10 minutes a day to thing. Really think. About anything. About nothing. About the things between everything and nothing.
I started doing this on my trip to New Zealand last year and have noticed the ideas really taking off. Sometimes you get clunkers and other times you may just grab hold of a real winner. I call these sessions making brain rain. Not quite a storm and not a drought. After a few weeks of this I found my mental energy and ideas really starting to pick up. The truth is that the ideas were there all along, I just wasn’t listening.
But I still admire her, for her achievements and for her work ethic. Put together, they've delivered material success to her, in spades, and professional recognition, but I suspect that she'd do it for pennies in a backwoods somewhere, just for the delight of it. I wish everyone could find that kind of satisfaction in what they do. I've never had it, never been captivated by anything that I've done. There have been interesting, even captivating things, but not for long, and certainly not now. It's just a job.
I wonder if the lack of captivation at work is why people have hobbies?
I noticed a while ago, incidentally, that I work best in the morning, and in the late afternoon. I do pretty well at night, too. Early afternoon is a dead zone for me, best spent taking a nap or going for a walk. Could I reflect this on the time tracking sytem, I think they'd actually get more hours from me. But this is nae the way of the Very Big Company that I labor for.
When I first arrived, I tried putting the actual number of hours I worked (and I mean actually worked; not eating, not day dreaming, not off to the photocopier) but the system didn't like that. So then I tried putting the standard work week in, and it liked that, but I got oblique comments. So now I put in the SWW + .12SWW, more or less, and I get praised for being right in track with expectations. I don't actually work that many hours, though. I work on things that need to get done, and I work on things I want to work on, and I work until I'm tired. More time isn't needed, as a rule, to keep up with events. So on the rare occasion when I really DO need to work that many hours --- and this week is one of them --- my time tracking records look just about the same as always. I don't inflate them further. That leaves me just a bit tetchy, because, after all, I'm actually doing more than normal, and I'd like it to be recognized.
Not that it would matter !
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
The good is that without prompting, my daughter is working on the short composition that I asked her to write over the summer. I am delighted by that. Its not going to be an award winner, but its good that she's doing it. I'm pleased.
The Not so is that somehow we have acquired ants in our dining room. Rather aggressive ones, too. Deploy the ant traps!
Monday, June 19, 2006
Three things are certain:Death, taxes, and lost data.Guess which has occurred.
Everything is gone;Your life's work has been destroyed.Squeeze trigger (yes/no)?
Windows NT crashed.I am the Blue Screen of Death.No one hears your screams.
Seeing my great faultThrough darkening blue windowsI begin again
The code was willing,It considered your request,But the chips were weak.
Printer not ready.Could be a fatal error.Have a pen handy?
Errors have occurred.We won't tell you where or why.Lazy programmers.
This site has been moved.We'd tell you where, but then we'dhave to delete you.
Wind catches lilyScatt'ring petals to the wind:Segmentation fault
ABORTED effort:Close all that you have.You ask way too much.
First snow, then silence.This thousand dollar screen dies so beautifully.
With searching comes lossand the presence of absence:"My Novel" not found.
The Tao that is seenIs not the true Tao, untilYou bring fresh toner.
The Web site you seekcannot be located butendless others exist
Stay the patient course Of little worth is your ireThe network is down
A crash reduces your expensive computer to a simple stone.
There is a chasm of carbon and silicon the software can't bridge
Yesterday it workedToday it is not working Windows is like that
To have no errorsWould be life without meaningNo struggle, no joy
You step in the stream,but the water has moved on.This page is not here.
No keyboard present Hit F1 to continueZen engineering?
Hal, open the fileHal, open the damn file, Hal open the, please Hal ...please
Out of memory.We wish to hold the whole sky,But we never will.
Having been erased,The document you're seekingMust now be retyped.
The ten thousand things How long do any persist?Netscape, too, has gone.
Rather than a beepOr a rude error message,These words: "File not found."
Serious error.All shortcuts have disappearedScreen. Mind. Both are blank.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
To get the full effect of upconversion, you need an HDMI input port on your HDTV (or a DVI port, with the purchase of a special DVI-to-HDMI cable). Unfortunately, that leaves out the millions of viewers whose HDTVs only have component video inputs (the red, green and blue plugs).
This limitation is ironic, since component cables are perfectly capable of carrying an upconverted signal. However, the movie industry requires that manufacturers cripple their component video ports because they don't support new copy protection schemes.
Fortunately for consumers, sites like http://www.videohelp.com/ catalogue simple remote control code sequences that restore HD upconversion to many brands of DVD players that have component output. Many consumers already own upconversion-capable DVD players but don't even know it.
The players also could be a way to avoid fallout from a new high-definition copy protection scheme (Image Constraint Token) that has the potential to degrade the high-definition output of all but the latest-model HDTVs. At that point, today's DVD players that upconvert a standard DVD may actually deliver better picture quality than their high-definition counterparts.
Pity that such information is needed, isn't it?
A magazine supplement to the Sunday papers, Parade magazine, is usually filled with light, fluffy reading. I think it's aimed at people who find Readers Digest a bit too challenging. Today, Father's Day, I expected that it would have mindless drivel about how wonderful fathers are. Instead, the first article was about how married men live longer; the second was suggestions to increase your testosterone level; the third was about hair replacement strategies, and toward the end of the magazine (because, by then, I had flipped to the end and begun to backtrack, looking for the comics), was an article by a comic actor who specializes in roles of stupid young men saying why his father was the best. Curious, I asked my wife if they carried the same kind of material for Mother's Day, and she said that they did, pretty much -- slightly higher elevation, but not overwhelmingly so. Fah.
Last night I achieved a personal best, or perhaps personal worst, depending on how you look at it. I have had for some time the opinion that it takes slightly less (in hours) to overcome the beneficial effects of the same number of days of vacation. That is, if you go on vacation for five days, it will take slightly less than five hours of work to substantially undo the benefit of being away. I never feel reinvigorated for a longer period than that. But this week, there was a personal best. Without going into the details, suffice it to say that I had a contact with work on the evening that we returned which so enraged me that I almost popped a blood vessel. My wife said that she has never seen me that mad. Part of the reaction was that I was tired from traveling, but part was anger over the characteristics of the group where I work. They're not idiots; they're not bad people; they're just follow-the-rules bureaucrats. I intensely dislike that kind of person. Normally , I can ignore them, but I think my ability to do so is wearing thin. Once the dental is done for this year, I think I'm out of there. Anything that can trigger that much anger, that quickly, is not a good place to continue to be.
I liked using the Canon S3. It was pleasant to be able to take the camera wherever we went without the weight of my other camera (a Canon AE). I enjoyed transferring them to this PC and being able to select just what we want to print, too. There were a couple of unwelcome surprises. We were startled to find that there was no power meter to let you gauge the health of the batteries (an icon would flash when it was low). We found this when we discovered that the batteries that came with the camera were only good for about four days. Also, I missed the ability to take a snap-shot -- ie, see something, flick the camera on, and shoot. It's possible, but three or four times I missed a shot while the autofocus cycled, or the zoom tracked. I found myself wondering if that ability really requires a TTL camera, like the AE. And, finally, some of the anti-skid covering on the body of the camera, around the hand grip, has already worn off, much to my surprise. Not a big deal, but not something I expected. None of these significantly diminished our pleasure with the camera, though. We're glad we got it.
Seeing all the retired people out in Tucson led us to mull over retirement options as regards location and then travel from that location. We couldn't live in Tucson year round -- its simply too hot for us (or at least me). But we did start thinking over what we could do. We don't see ourselves as traveling a lot, but we'd like to do some, and perhaps to do it to a known, comfortable place. Lots of ways to do that, of course, and like most, we'd want something that was not terribly expensive (because we already assume that it'll cost more than we want). One thought is a condominium, on someplace pleasant -- northern Arizona, perhaps, or perhaps someplace further west (I hear an island off the coast of western Canada is particularly nice...) Oddly enough, I realized at one point that what sounded good in terms of climate and location was, basically, the climate and description of where we live now.
Happy Fathers Day, y'all.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
and this --
Tucson drivers tend to be pretty courteous, up to a point -- and that point is when they want to get in front of you. Their attitude seemed to be Hey, Plant It Right There! and if you were startled by them suddenly showing up in front of you, well, then, you just weren't paying enojugh attention. On the other hand, they like long blocks with plenty of U Turn lanes, and thats cool.
Why exactly we don't have a Trader Joe's Food Mart around here mystifies me. Well, no, it doesn't really -- what mystifies me is why they do. Its a nice, classy food operation -- no place to go if you happen to be hungry on the way in -- but it doesn't exactly mesh with the prevailing ethic of the city. I think the city is changing as the damn Easterners move out there, picking up city ways.
What I saw of the desert was pretty nice. Hot, of course, but with a certain sere beauty. The docents at the Sonoran Desert Museum and the Tohono Chul Museum (both outdoor, mostly, though in covered patios) did an excellent job talking about the geography of the area, how the ecosystem works, and all of that. The people at the Creepy Crawlies exhibit at Tohono Chut brought their snakes, and my daughter was delighted by that, as she got to handle them and ask a lot of questions (many of which I actually understood). And there was one actually and totally lovely park called Agua Caliente which boasted palm trees, gurgling water, and the whole bit.
By all means, go out to Kitt Peak and visit the working astronomers -- its a long drive but the view from the top of the mountain is awesome -- but if they put up a sign warning of Major Delays due to road work, believe them. We spent about an hour 0n the way up and again on the way down, waiting for the crew that was drilling holes in the rock to let us through. The view was worth it, though.
I was a bit surprised to find how often I wanted to jot something down in this blog. Two things of especial note: if you are ever in the Tucson area, by all means have a pizza from Magpie's -- they say it stands for MAGnificent PIE, and it really is; I don't like California-style pizza, but these guys put out an excellent product. And if you're there or in any city with a Schlotzky's sandwich shop, by all means, go and have an original on sourdough. Ahhh.....
But even with that being there and nowhere near here, it's good to be back.
Friday, June 09, 2006
But, that aside, tomorrow we'll be in Tucson. I'm looking forward to it.
So now we're looking for what would be reasonable (by my standards; by hers, it'd be a review of third grade math). I'm thinking 'A Childs Guide to Genome Splicing' and 'A Kid's View of Nanotechnology'. Sound about right?
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Lotus script is the programming language that underlies the Lotus Mail product (and other Lotus functions). Its a lot like Visual Basic. Lotus itself used to be a small, elegant product developed and sold by a small, focused company. Then it was bought by IBM and.... it got huge. HUGE. And when that happened, in addition to the guys who ran the place getting rich (and one of them now works at Microsoft, doing it all again), the product got way kludgy. Now, if you have a problem, you'd better be good at reading manuals, because you're absolutely not going to get help from Lotus. As soon ask the vagrant on the corner as expect help from them. Whats odd is that they really do know what they're talking about.... they just can't communicate it worth a darn.
Enter the net. If you do a search for 'Lotus Script' (or Lotuscript) and 'mail', or 'forwarding', and you find bunches of references. Once you remove the ones that just use the words but are talking about something else, you find a lot of people who say they know how to do it -- but when you read the comments, you find lots of 'oh, thats easy, just use the help file' and 'oh, yeah, just do it like this, more or less'. No one seems to be able to say 'this works; do this'. Don't doubt that there ARE such people, but try and find them. Which is what leads me to think about Mr. Perdue. It takes a smart man to make a simple statement -- and none of these guys are that.
Course, neither am I!
CAPITOL HILL (AP) — After two days of debate, the Senate has rejected a constitutional change to ban gay marriage. ...The test ballot fell 11 short of the 60 that would be needed to send the matter on for an up-or-down vote by the full Senate.
What the heck is the difference?
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
-"Hello, this is Ron. (pause) Hello? Hello!!? Nah, just kidding. This is an answering machine. (etc.)"
- "You have reached the Strategic Air Command. We are unable to come to the phone right now. At the tone, please leave your target or list of targets and we'll launch as soon as we can. And have a nice day."
- [imitating Mr. Rogers] "Hello. I'm in the Magic Kingdom right now, so I can't come to the phone. Can you leave your name and number when you hear the sound of the tone? Sure...I knew you could."
-WOMAN : (seductively) Hi. I'm Linda. You know, it can be really lonely when you're a fashion model. Sometimes I just have to ... MAN: (interupting) Oh cmon, Linda, give me the damn phone...
-"Ello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Leave your message, and prepare to die."
- (uses pompous voice) "It appears that the houseboy has again failed to answer the phone so you'll just have to leave a message.
Monday, June 05, 2006
On occasion, other things sound good, too. From the Roadtip section of the Sunday Washington Post, in an article describing a scene at the Baltimore Farmers Market:
A cook works two burners like a DJ at the turntable, spinning one crepe as he ladles batter for another. A trio nearby whips up omelets stuffed with sausage, garlic, and peppers....
Yum. And I don't even particularly like omelets !
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Even though I'm within a couple of years (and, on a bad day, a couple of minutes) of retiring, I still read articles aimed at people entering the work force. Partially, I do it for the same reason that adults ask kids what they want to do when they grow up: they're still looking for a decent idea. One comment, in the Career Track column of today's Post, caught my attention: 'For Bonnie Atwood, a lobbyist in Richmond, the perfect job is one with a mission. "I have to feel that the world is becoming a better place because I am doing this work. I don't have to be saving lives necessarily, but I have to be giving the world something that it needs. I don't want to invent and produce widgets and then convince people that they need them, for example. I want to create and protect beauty and civility. I want to feel each and every day that I have had a part in the positive evolution of the human race. I want to leave a mark of value."' The other comments are good, too; they can be found here.
Speaking of articles:I understand why the Washington Post printed an article about a woman,a judge in a small town in Montana, who is active in the fight against terrorists, using email chicanery to gain the trust of those evil people. Its novel, she's unusual, and its got terrorism -- wow, let's print it. But why did they need to point out that she lives in a small town 'not too far from the Canadian border', and alert the recipients of those emails that in order to seem like one of the brothers, she liberally sprinkles emails to terrorists with video clips of hostages getting beheaded? And, for that matter, why did they have her picture as part of the article? What fresh insanity drove that decision?
Apparently, Father's Day is coming. However, I have nothing to worry about, because from what I can see from the ads, all fathers are either significantly younger or older than me, and all of them are in much better shape. I should be able to slide through it without anyone even noticing. The same cannot, however, be said for my wife's birthday, which is coming soon. I always want to do something wonderful for it. Don't always hit the mark, but every so often, yes. Wonder where I can find a kid-sitter?
How hard can this be, I thought. I see the printers list already has have the Lexmark, probably something got bollixed up, no prob, delete and reinstall. Only the reinstall doesn't work -- you can select the printer, but then it...just... hangs. No error, no timeout, no nothing. So for grins I brought up the network map under File Explorer on the laptop -- and I noticed something very weird. The list of the printers blinks on and off in about a 4 second loop. Four seconds, they're there. Another four seconds, get a 'Searching for items ' at the bottom of the page. There. Not There. There. Not there.
Update: I reinstalled the driver...which ended up apparently reinstalling ALL the printers, don't ask me why ....and now I have two sets of identical printers.
But it works.
BusRadio, a start-up company in Massachusetts, wants to pipe into school buses around the country a private radio network that plays music, public-service announcements, contests and, of course, ads, aimed at kids as they travel to and from school....The company is the brainchild of Michael Yanoff and Steven Shulman, the same two executives who created Cover Concepts, a company that has provided schools with millions of free book covers -- full of bold, colorful ads for Kellogg's, McDonalds, Calvin Klein, Nike and other major national advertisers. Now owned by comic-book king Marvel Enterprises, Cover Concepts says it reaches 30 million school-age children in 43,000 U.S. public schools, which receive no funding for distributing the products.
Scum. Pure and simple, greedhead scum.
You are cool and soothing, with a hidden spontaneous side. You are deeper than most people perceive, and you care a lot for those whom you surround yourself with.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
I went out to finish mowing the lawn, this evening, and my daughter offered to do part of it. When she got out there, though, she found that the area I was talking about was bigger than the area she occasionally does, and for which she gets a dollar, so she asked for a dollar and a quarter. I told her that if she did a decent job, I'd give her a dollar and fifty cents. Later, when she was done, I handed her a dollar, and she looked at me and clearly said "Well, we agreed that if ...." and I said "Right, right, I forgot (I really had); and by the way, kiddo, thats exactly the way that you stick up for yourself."
Great kid, huh?
Mowing, in case you wondered.
Sunday's New York Time revisited the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks against Sen. John Kerry and highlighted how Kerry is still working hard to clear his name and knock down any questions that remain about his stellar service in Vietnam. Kerry's not the only one nursing wounds from the Swifty attacks. For lots of people the phrase 'Swift Boat' has become synonymous with 'Florida Recount'; a dreadful, hard-to-relive chapter in campaign history, in which Republicans played bare-knuckle hardball and the press pretty much let them get away with it.
My initial thoughts on this are basically 'yes, absolutely', because I supported Kerry in that election, and I believe that the Swift Boat Veterans were a put up job by the Republicans. But as I read that, I found myself cringing a bit at certain words. "Still working hard to clear his name", for example. "Stellar". "The press pretty much let them get away with it." Those words clearly show the bias of the author, and lead me to question whether I can rely on what they are saying. Even though I do believe the general thrust of the comments, I wonder about them, a bit. In fact, in a bit of psychological judo, I find myself wondering if this was actually planted by the Republicans as a straw man, so that they could say 'See what obviously biased supporters he has; they clearly are not telling the truth'.
I expect that this is the sort of thing that we are in for, in the next year or so. I think that the bulk of the blame for this kind of campaign has to be laid at the door of the Republicans, which means that they have the bulk of the responsibility to keep it from happening. Do I think they will? No, quite the contrary. I think that they will do it more often, with less compunction -- and I think that the Democrats will join them. It will become a question of who lies more effectively.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Every so often I will see an article in The Economist or the Washington Post about how odd it is for this country to persist in this practice -- after all, the Europeans routinely take six weeks off, or more -- and how it would really be better for all concerned if we did that as well. I think the concept of vacation misses one point, though, and that is that if you truly love what you do, you're much less likely to need or want vacation to refresh your spirit, because the job itself supplies that emotional need. You might not wake up thinking Thank God, Its Monday, but you're happy at what you do, and you don't feel the need to leave. Most people don't feel that way about what they do. I think that until that becomes a financial problem, more company managers won't feel the need to address it.
This is another quasi-chaotic morning. Our neighbor had to go in to a hospital very early this morning, so my wife agreed to go next door at 6:30 to wake up her kids (who are old enough so that, once up, they can handle their morning routine themselves). I woke up as she was leaving, and glanced at my watch: two thirty? Oh, great: the watch battery died. And I have a couple of changes scheduled to do this morning, plus some things to do which I really should have done yesterday. For some reason, I was distracted.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I started to write this entry this morning, while lying in bed. My daughter came in, laid down beside me, read the first five words (which were all that had been written) and added the remainder of the sentence. I told her that I liked it and would keep it, so there it is.
But what I was actually writing was that I had read the comments of a couple of guys on their web site regarding how you 'drive readers to your site'. They recommended stirring up controversity, offering how-to tips, giving advice on things you knew about. I have to admit, I thought about it, because I would like to get more readers, but I eventually decided against it. Part of the reason is sloth -- what could I possibly know people would want to know? What advice am I qualified to give that someone looking for it wouldn't be able to generate themselves? -- but part of it is because I don't want to drive readers here. It would be nice if there were ten or fifteen people who regularly commented, but the truth is that I write this for myself, as a way of getting my thoughts out of my head and out someplace that I can look at them. Every so often, somebody responds, and almost invariably I am delighted by that -- even when its the most casual response, I'm delighted, because its hard for me to make friends (doesn't that sound pathetic? At my age -- imagine!), and when someone responds, for just a moment there is a sense of community, of having a friend for a moment, and I really like that. And I admit, too, that when nobody responds, I wonder why -- is what I think that uninteresting? -- but then I get over it (well, usually). If nobody responds, its still who I am. Quiet. Not particularly dynamic. Somehow 'driving readers here' doesn't square with that. Because the site is me, saying 'this is what I am'. I'm not a 'drive readers here' kind of guy.
Its hard to write this without sounding like I'm saying I don't need anyone. Thats most certainly not the case. I'm a very private person (does that sound odd, from a blog writer?) and don't let myself need very many people. But do I like it when people like me, or what I say, enough to respond? Oh, yeah, I like that a lot. I cherish those exchanges.