Thursday, December 30, 2004

$15 million
    - initial U.S. aid offer to tsunami victims

$35 million
    - current U.S. aid package to tsunami victims

$37 million
    - current European Union aid package to tsunami victims

$40 million
    - amount of money Republicans will spend on Bush's innaguration

I wonder how many American lives would be saved if Bush cancelled the innaguration, made it a private event, sent all the money to help the victims. Might make the "terrorists" think, "Hey, maybe this guy does have a heart."


Paycheck: $140 more than expected
Work Schedule: New Year's Day off

This, combined with yesterday's events, make for one hell of a last 24 hours. But I still miss Ella like Michael Jackson misses his nose.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

now the record always spills on the trails we blazed
the walls are closin in, but that’s ok
'cause I been waitin all week to feel this way
and it feels so good, so good
i’m on top of the world

        Paul Oakenfold - Starry-Eyed Surprise

I just got off the phone with Bruce Perens. In the open source world, this guy is pretty much the equivalent of Freddy Mercury.

I ran an idea by him and not only did he give me some great advice on the questions I had, not only did he give me some advice on issues I had not yet even considered, not only did he say that he thought my idea was "fantastic" but he offered to be on a board of directors if it ever got to that point. And this is after I told him it would be "open" and nobody would be making much of anything.

I feel like my head is about to explode.

Tonight I managed to cook dinner, set up the development/production computer and relocate my media machine, draw up an FAQ for the project, hire a Macromedia Flash developer from the Netherlands who just happens to have prior experience with coupling maps with GPS data, contact Bruce Perens and run the idea by him, call my mother, call my grandmother and contact another coder that might have some old, spare code kicking around that he could donate to the project.

I thought it would take a month just to get this far. It's 9:34PM.
cuz now I got the world swinging from my nuts
damn it feels good to be a gangster.

        Ghetto Boys - Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster
This post is mainly meant for me to look back in retrospect as a sort of "aha!" moment.

This morning, while prepping something to eat (grilled cheese for the curious), I realized that any attemps I make at "getting something big done" are marred by two primary issues.

a) Spending too much time preparing to do the work and too little time doing the work itself.

b) Rushing into whatever it is I need to do without proper planning.

Opposites of each other, I know.

For example, right now I need to start work on a massive project. I'm so itching to just start coding that I'm tempted to just bypass the planning phase (very bad idea when programming) and just start coding. On the other hand, when I start laying out how the code is going to look, I wind up getting nothing "meaninful" done. Nothing I can point and at and say "here, look what I accomplished today!"

All my projects vacillate between these two problems with a healthy dose of distracting myself with things like video games. I suspect this is because I don't want to do either of the two things above so I'd rather do nothing.

Man, that sucks.

Ok, time to actually start doing something. =)

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

What makes me all warm and fuzzy in my tummy is when I see Christians getting pissed about religion in the classroom. I've been saying this since I became aware of the debate; It cuts both ways. The reason people don't want your Christianity in their school is the same reason you don't want Islamic literature reading assignments.

Pick a side, Christians, then argue it consistently. Not just when you like the result or benefit from it.

On a lighter, observational note, a short story...

I work with a kid by the name of Tristan. One of the nicest kids you'll ever want to meet, though that's kind of irrelevant to the story. Turns out that he's one of the people being cut after New Year's. That's just how retail works. The people that sell, stay. Right?

So my boss had to break the news to him and apparently he took it kind of hard, asked if he could leave for the day. The boss agreed.

The next day Tristan called in as "snowed in." My boss was irked by this and commented that his absence just confirmed his decision to cut Tristan. Now...

Let me begin by saying this is not a criticism of my boss at all. He's one of the nicest bosses I've ever had. This is a commentary on our society in regards to labor. In fact I'll use the term "employer" instead of "boss" to avoid any confusion.

Tristan's employer told him that they would no longer need his services. There is no appeal for Tristan. A decision was made about our capacity for employees and Tristan didn't make the cut. Nothing personal and I doubt anyone would call their decision unethical. After all, both parties specifically entered into an "at will" employment contract. This means either could terminate the contract at any time.

On the other hand, Tristan is doing the same thing back to his employer. He owes exactly as much fidelity to them as they owe to him; none. How is deciding Tristan deciding he doesn't want to show up for work any more or less ethical or appropriate than his employer deciding that they don't need him to show up to work any more?

So why do we view Tristan's actions as unethical but we view the actions of his employer as nondescript?

The answer that occurs to me is that we still have a serfdom mentality. It's an underpinning of our society. Those with money have some intrinsic right to direct our lives that we do not have in return.

And that's why I'm pro-union.
So far about 44,000 people have been killed. Out of those 44,000, I've seen precisely two specific names mentioned. One was a Czeck supermodel and the other was a Sweedish boy. Both survived.

In other words, if you're not young and white, or pretty and white, you're not worth a plugged nickel.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

In 1994, Los Angeles was hit with a 6.8 Richter earthquake which killed 30 immediately, as many as 90 total when you tabulate indirect deaths. It was the largest quake in recorded California history.

Yesterday, a 8.6 quake hit Sri Lanka. To put this in perspective, a 8.6 quake is just under 100 times more powerful than a 6.8. Local reports say 150 people have been confirmed dead so far.

Here are the last five "Breaking News" alerts that I've gotten from

Attack on U.S. military mess hall kills 22.
Jury recommends that Scott Peterson be put to death.
U.S. House overhauls intelligence.
Tom Ridge resigns.
President Bush nominates Kellogg CEO Carlos Gutierrez to be secretary of Commerce.

Naah. We're not too America-centric.

The asian quake is a sideline on On, too. doesn't mention it at all. None of them sent a "Breaking News" email.

These are news outlets that issued "Breaking News" alerts for the Pacers-Detroit basketball brawl, the Fed raising interest rates by a quarter-point and an appeals court deciding that the national the "do-not-call" registry can be implemented while court considers whether it violates telemarketers' free speech.

Naah. The news is more than mere "entertainment."

We know what the world wants. The world wants America to give their countries all this cool stuff too. The terrorists are just player haters.

Oh, and guys? Could have used you a few years ago. I thought you were the fourth branch?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Time: 11:44pm
Date: Dec 23, 2004
Temp: 60° F
Surface: Parking lot blacktop.
Sound: Nothing.

The world is composed of two groups. One of them understands how this is relevant, and why.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004 reports that "consumers remain confident in the safety of prescription drugs sold in this country at a time when some popular ones have been linked to health threats, an Associated Press poll found."

What the fuck does the public opinion on drugs (or anything for that matter) have to do with truth? What makes you think that 99.92% of Joe and Jane Q. know anything but shit and lala about the intricacies of neurological chemistry, for starters?

After the politicians and the private media have decided how, when and what we're going to see, our daily mental diet of this bleached, antiseptic edutainment by way of the comically labeled "news" (patroitic Hummer2 commercials peppered in every three minutes, of course), ...what truth do you suppose your average American has, anyway?
Current listening:

The Postal Service - Such Great Heights
Death Cab for Cutie - A Movie Script Ending
Beck - Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime
The Crystal Method - Trip Like I Do
Vangelis - Blade Runner Blues
Death Cab for Cutie - 405
Gorillaz - Clint Eastwood
Scissor Sisters - It Can't Come Quickly Enough
Richard Cheese - Down With the Sickness (wah ah ah ah)
Sublime - What I Got
The Killers - Somebody Told Me

I've got this musical itch lately. Everything I've found is kinda getting there but it's like down down down to the left down up up up ...but still the itch remains.

What's a boy to do?! Somebody, quick! Suggest something. Think Orbital's "Fluffy Little Clouds" dreaminess with Radiohead's "Kid A" pragmatism.

Damn it.
Ever think that we're born into this world, given a list of shit to find (a list too long to possibly accomplish), we run around like idiots trying to get it all, then die?

It's kind of like playing Scavenger Hunt. Which isn't exactly an original comparison, but have you ever watched people play this game? They act like daft and rabid assholes.

I wonder if that's what god sees. Would it understand?
Greg was lurking outside one day, trying to act casual, when another engineer accosted him and said, "I'm sick and tired of you guys loitering in front of the building every day!" Later he phoned the appropriate bureaucrats on our behalf. I listened to his side of the conversation for twenty minutes: "No, there is no PO, because we're not paying them. No, there is no contract, because they are not contractors. No, they are not employees; we have no intention of hiring them. Yes, they must have building access because they are shipping code on our box. No, we don't have a PO number. There is no PO, because we're not paying them." Finally, he wore them down. They said to use the standard form to apply for badges, but to cross out Contractor and write in Vendor. Where it asked for a PO number, we were to use the magic words "No dollar contract." We got badges the next day. They were orange Vendor badges, the same kind the people working in the cafeteria, watering the plants, and fixing the photocopy machines had.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I napped for two hours tonight and just now I remembered that I had a nightmare of sorts. I dreamt that I had another child. With Melissa. The dream took place when the child was about two years old. And it occurred to me -- why so late, I've no idea -- that I was going to be paying support for another eighteen years.
Boss: Did you contact another store about a karaoke machine?
Me: Nope.
Boss: Well, they said "Justin," I figured it might be you.
Me: Hm. Maybe Jeff?
Boss: Well, they said the person was "really helpful," so I figured that it was you...

Go me. ... I still want a job that pays enough to know, live on. =)

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Chris has a very, very high-quality copy of a Brittney Spears concert. Likely snagged it from a satellite feed, who knows. But Rebekah watches it damned near every time she comes here. Several times, actually. The basement has been upgraded a bit so now it's possible to watch it on a 9' (yes, feet) screen. This means that the video is nice and ...detailed. Let's just say that the choreography ranges from insinuous to explicit. This screen hides nothing.

During what I would call the "worst" of it (don't kill me, she's already seen it about 10x), I asked if she had any questions. You know, doing that whole "open door policy" thing.

Bek: No, no questions. ... But I know what the bottom line is.
Me: Bottom line?
Bek: [in somber tone] She's a [spelling it out] S L U T.
Me: Hm. You think so? The guys too, or...?
Bek: No, just the girls.
Me: Why not the guys?
Bek: Because that term is only for girls.
Me: So what would you call it if a guy acted like that?
Bek: [4 second period of thinking] I don't know.
Me: Well ...think about that, ok?
Bek: Ok.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A reporter asks a solider to ask Donald Rumsfeld some pointed questions about insufficient armor and everyone spazzes out. Bush gets "the Iowa state director of a conservative advocacy group, FreedomWorks," to lob him some softballs in a fake town hall-style Q&A and nobody much cares. Freedomworks' founders are Jack F. Kemp, the former vice-presidential nominee and Dick Armey, the former House Republican leader.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

[conversation with a customer]
Them: I need an extension cable.
Me: For electricity?
Them: Yes.
[bring them over to the extention cables]
Them: Nono, for cable TV.
Me: Oh, I thought you'd said "for electric."
Them: No, you said "electric."

Sunday, December 12, 2004

"Ok, you can unbarricade the door now..." - Ella
A slice of cheese pizza and some ...I don't know what to call them. Pre-seasoned tofu triangles with a dipping sauce. ...

I'm not sure I'll ever get into tofu. This was kind of gross. Tasted like spongemeat. Kind of like eating an earlobe, dipping sauce cover-up be damned.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Jesus. It's 11pm already. *sigh

Got my computer area a bit more organized. The rest still looks like arse, but the desk area is more or less pimped out 120%. Now all I need is a KVM switch...

Had an "insight" the other night (herbs do that to me) which was pretty straightforward -- why not mention my cross-departmental skills in my resume? I always seem to get tapped to work between different parts of the company (training/support, protocol implementation/network admin, API writing/QA/coding). So that required an edit.

Now I'm off to Craigslist. I think I'll have a solid bite within a month. I'll be disappointed if I don't.
A customer came in inquiring about the Game Cube we have on sale. It comes with Metroid Prime bundled. Said he didn't let his kids play shooters.

Why? I guess we all think our own thoughts are pretty much "median" and maybe that's my problem, but I've never really gotten into a disagreement with someone and thought to myself, "ah, the solution here is to shoot them." Like ...ever. Heck, my favorite genre if first-person shooters and I dislike violence in general (but no qualms about defending oneself at all).

*shrug. Then again, I'm sure my TV-is-inherently-evil position is pretty excessive by most people's standards, too.

Decided to take another stab at being a vegetarian. Not going to be hardcore. If someone serves me meat, I'll likely eat it. But I don't think I'm going to purchase it myself. Dunno. I realize that animals die when you clear land to grow vegitables, so it 's kind of absurd to think that you're backing completely out of the death cycle, but it's a start.

New Year's Eve will be my do-or-die continue/no-continue point. I also have to be careful about replacing meat with really crappy food. Which is what I did the first time I was a vegetarian (circa 1991).

I've have no idea why I'm writing this. It's trivial to anyone but me. And I already know.

Oh. And I've got my two computers set up again sitting on a desk that could withstand a direct hit from a small thermonuclear weapon. A return to programming is planned.

Considering doing a sort of news aggregate featuring an impact/importance tool/filter, a comment system with a trust-based moderation scheme, RSS feed (of course) and a mechanism by which people can create "HOWTO" files which describe how you can actually do something in the real world.

Novel, I know.

Oh, almost forgot. It'll have user blog capability and a schema designed to prevent people from only surfing news that they agree with. I consider this hidden pitfall to pretty much be the demise of modern news dissemination: Everyone learns but they tend to learn from sources they agree with, giving the illusion of being informed.

That part is going to be tricky.

Also planning on getting into the rental scene too. Right now the best free stuff out there is pretty much which is a great idea but their layout and searching functions suck.

Anyway, less talking. More coding.
"You need to be a genius to hook up this cable." - A customer, just now, referring to a standard telephone cable. You know, the kind your house phone connects to the wall with. I'm not even joking.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

"Kofi Annan must go. There's just no question about it. ... The confidence that the United States has had in the United Nations is waning right now, and the only way that's going to change is if there's a change in leadership," Rep. Dan Burton said Monday.

Imagine me laughing hysterically at this point.

How do these people say these things with a straight face?

I sometimes worry that in not watching television, I've become detached from how the "real world" perceives things. I worry that a statement like this wouldn't strike many of them as even a little ironic.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Post-analysis of the red-blue political divide hasn't exactly turned up anything new. From

Some of Wheaton's [IL] residents are quick to draw an unflattering portrait of their "blue" neighbors one hour away. The "blue staters" are pushy, they said, with a social agenda that includes gay marriage. "I think they want to push us in that direction, and some of us don't want to be pushed in that direction," said Leonard Sanchez.

I hate to tell you this, Sanchez, but that was the right-wing response to civil rights, too.

And now -- just like then -- we'll pull you into the 21st century whether you like it or not. It's not a matter of "if," it's a matter of "when."

Later in the same article:

"President Bush won. He is our president. He has that word 'mandate' because he won decisively," Mitroff said.

What fucking moon do you live on? If by "decisively," you mean that he won, sure. Then there really isn't a need for the word "mandate" or "decisive" if you only mean "won," is there?

Bush 50.2%, Kerry 48.5%. That isn't much of a threshold, is it? That's a difference of 1.7%. Decisive? Using any yardstick that's called "by a pubic hair."

I don't know, you tell me: if a football game ended with a score of 24 to 23 (a whopping 4% difference!), would you call that victory "decisive?" Yeah, me neither.

Bush doesn't have a mandate. Forty eight percent (read; half the country) think he's a mistake and an embarrassment.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

"Hm. I need to find something more offensive to say to the gnomes. This isn't cutting it." - me


"Wow, Sigourney looks so young!"
"Yeah. Looks like she's been ironed."


Why is it that any sort of behavior that would normally be considered anti-societal, lunacy or possibly even criminal perfectly "ok" when it's framed as "religion?"

Why is it that you're a lunatic if you hear god's voice but merely religious if you listen to someone else who says they've heard god's voice? Why does it become more respectable the more people you add in between you and the source?

Bizarre world we live in.