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+ raelity bytes
+ paul e. [LJ]
+ Rain Graves
+ gnat [use Perl;]

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My other sites:
- Silicon Valley Scale Modelers
- Book page for Programming Web Services With Perl

Other journals I read:
= DJ Adams
= rebecca blood
= Tim Bray
= Margaret Cho
= Warren Ellis
= Neil Gaiman
= Rafael Garcia-Suarez
= John Gorenfeld
= Lawrence Lessig
= Michael McCracken
= Jeff Vogel
= Norm Walsh
= Wil Wheaton

My journal at use.perl.org:
· Restless
· RPC-XML-0.57.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· RPC-XML-0.56.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· RPC-XML-0.55.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· Forgive Me, Bretheren Monks
· Extry Extry: Winer Leaves the RSS Advisory Board
· RPC::XML 0.54 Uploaded
· The Books of Perl
· Good Intentions Don't Equal Good Results
· Errata Tracking Page for PWSWP
· Image::Size 2.992 Uploaded
· Props to Portland PM
· Lightning Talks
· OSCON, Tuesday
· OSCON Plans Now Set

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We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. — Will Rogers

DVD Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0291341">Mean Machine</a> 2002.10.30.00:37

Think The Longest Yard, only with soccer instead. Well, to the English and the Europeans (and most of the rest of the non-U.S.A. world) that is football. Which is fitting, since it's a mostly-English cast, and set in an English prison.

No sense wasting space with plot summary, either of the above links can give you that. The cast is very heavy on faces familiar from the two Guy Ritchie London-gangster films, especially star Vinnie Jones (who's had some limited success in Hollywood stuff like Swordfish and Gone in 60 Seconds). The movie has plenty of (British) humor, lots of good dialogue, and is very true to its original material, even keeping some scenes identical in pacing and blocking.

A fun two hours or so, with some decent demonstrations of Jones' football skill. Makes me want to pull out my copy of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Tuesday is Head-Shrinky Day 2002.10.30.00:37

Like a staggeringly-large number of Americans, I'm currently in therapy. Unfortunately, my exact and specific goals are not very well-defined at this point. In the general, nebulous sense I want to stop my procrastination, or at least significantly reduce it. Beyond that, there are a lot of other issues of varying degrees of severity and importance (some of which I may even write about in a future installment). But for now, I'd be happy to kick this habit of pissing away whole evenings and/or weekends.

Today, right at the very end, something slipped out that has been bothering me ever since, like when I pick up a few loose grains of cat-litter on my sock, and they proceed to irritate the sole of my foot in the shoe the rest of the day. You're probably quite familiar with the feeling.

We'd been talking about a close friend of mine, and some conflicts I'd had not some much with, as related to, her. As time was winding down, shrink says, "Let's get back to Randy for the last few minutes." Without even thinking about it ahead of time, I just chuckled and said, "Why? There isn't any 'Randy' to get back to. Haven't you figured that out yet? All I am is my reactions to others."

I wish I hadn't said that, because now I can't quit trying to figure out just what I meant by it, or where it came from. Grrr.

# [/thoughts]

Movie Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0298130">The Ring</a> 2002.10.27.09:59

Went to see this on a lark, as I had time to kill and the theatre showing it is walking distance from the apartment. Plus, I'd heard lots of good things about it (and the guys at Penny Arcade seemed to like it). And hey, I've had a soft-spot for Naomi Watts since she was in Tankgirl.

The premise comes from an urban legend. I think. Or the urban legend was started by people who read the original Japanese story. Something like that. Anyway. The movie opens with these two high school girls having a sleep-over, and one is telling the other about "the tape". "The tape", in this case, is a mysterious video tape that, when watched, causes the death of the viewer exactly seven days later. One of the girls has seen it, and is starting to take the threat seriously as the 7-day mark is mere minutes away. Well, as has already been told in previews and other reviews, she dies. And at the exact same time, the other 3 teens who watched it with her also die.

This draws in the attention of the girl's aunt (Watts), a reported for a Seattle-area newspaper. Her sister (the victim's mother) asks her to try and find out what happened. She traces the tape back to a remote vacation cabin, and and watches it herself. When it finishes, the phone rings and a little girl's voice says, "seven days". At first, she doesn't believe it, and is looking for some other cause. But then things start to happen, her ex-boyfriend sees it and starts to have things happen, and then her small son sees it, making solving the mystery much more important.

The movie is very well-paced, and relies on suspense over shock to deliver the frights. Things twist where you expect them to turn, and step left when you are expecting them to go right. You won't see the bigger twists coming, more than likely, and it may even succeed in tricking you as to how things are going to end. The way in which the various parts fall together is very creative.

This is easily one of the better films I've seen this year. All the main characters play their parts well. Almost all are unknowns, save for Watts herself who's starting to be a known entity since last year's Mulholland Dr. The child actor playing her son is at least as good as Haley Joel Osment was in The Sixth Sense. The editing may seem a little MTV-like in places, but it suits the mood when it happens. And the rest of it is just appropriately dark and gloomy.

Well worth your money.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Pax Richard Harris 2002.10.25.23:12


A fine performer, who among other things helped thaw my anti-Harry Potter layer of ice. Travel well, good King Arthur.

# [/entertainment/movies]

From the Id, #1 2002.10.25.21:16

A couple of funny links of very questionable morality, partly so I can share with you all and partly so I can have a more permanent record of the URLs:

This is an actual historical stained-glass:

Talk Dirty to Me!

# [/funny]

Eyes Wide Open 2002.10.25.02:57

I've been having a lot of problems with insomnia lately. And to be honest, it isn't really lately that this has been happening. I stopped to think about it this morning as I hurried to get dressed and get to work (later than I had meant to be leaving, of course). I've been saying that my insomia has been acting up "for weeks now". But I've been saying, "for weeks now" for a month or so, now.

So I've been trying to figure out what might have been a likely trigger for this. Mind, I've never slept that well at all. But the insomnia will ebb and flow over time. For about 6-8 weeks now, it's been at high tide. I can only think of two really large-scale events that have happened in the window of time I'm looking at: starting my current job at Tellme, and finishing my book for O'Reilly. As it happens, either of these could be what's messing with my head.

I took this job knowing ahead of time that it would be a serious cut in pay over what I had been making at Red Hat. But I had been unemployed for about three months at the time, and the market out here is still pretty dicey. It was this job or one at Oracle. Oracle offered me $5K/year more, but the commute would have been about 25 miles longer, and the environment much less accomodating. This seemed like a good thing at the time, but my first task assignment was to take over a project in Java, a language I'd never written commercial-grade code in. To add to it, about 4 weeks in I was told that they weren't happy with my productivity thus far. Most of that time had been spent trying to get up to speed on Java while also getting familiar with the (badly-written) code. So there's pressure here, pressure that I don't feel I should have to suffer under.

Alternatively, I have to admit that I found myself somewhat listless and adrift after finishing the book. I had been so focused and driven towards finishing it for the last few months, that when it was done I felt kind of disoriented, like being woken up from sleepwalking. Technically, it's not done, in the sense that I just finished editing the first round of galley proofs this past weekend, and will have to do that once more before it actually goes to the publishers. But after 8 months of being so focused, it isn't as easy to channel that energy elsewhere. Not as easy as I had expected it to be, at least.

And on top of it all, I fully expect to lay awake tonight, as well.

# [/thoughts]

JPB on GWB 2002.10.25.00:29

By way of Doc Searls, I saw this piece by John Perry Barlow.

I listened to Barlow speak years ago, at either a USENIX conference or one of the early open source events (can't quite remember). He's an interesting one, founding member of the EFF, rancher, former lyricist for the Greatful Dead. And he's a very engaging speaker.

And very much a capital-L Liberal, so be warned before reading.

# [/politics]

Another Soul to the Dark Side 2002.10.24.00:45

While following a twisting trail of links between LJ users' entries, I found myself reading about how Arianna Huffington has shifted her political thinking. I find this very interesting, as she was one of the less-shrill, less-vitriolic voices on the Right when I watched her point/counterpoint segments with Al Franken on Dennis Miller's HBO show.

Now she's got some really good things to say about both the insipid "the joint I bought helped kill a Columbian family" anti-drug ads and the over-consumerism of the SUV society. Read it here.

# [/politics]

Hitting Snooze, Pushing Pause 2002.10.23.22:33

I procrastinate. I mean, I put things off as if putting things off were an Olympic sport and I was training for the gold. I hit the snooze button on my (multiple) alarm clock(s) each morning repeatedly. I look at things that need doing (taking the trash out, picking up trash and clutter) and just choose not to do them. That's not quite it— I do get those things done, just usually it happens later than I mean for it to.

This dogs me in a lot of ways. I don't spend as much time on my hobbies as I truly want to. I have a lot of ideas for software that I've never pursued. I want to exercise more, work out more often, but manage to convince myself that I don't have the time. I do have the time, I just don't use it wisely.

Time seems to drain away from me, without my knowing exactly what has happened to it. Much like my money often does, I guess. I can't point to any one or two big expenditures, yet I'm often broke in the days leading up to payday. And with time, I can't point to things I recall spending time on, I just don't seem to get anything done. In the past week, I've gone to a party and gone to a movie. Oh, and I went to dinner with friends on Sunday. But that barely accounts for the free time I've (supposedly) had. Some of the time is lost on playing games. Less of it is used for TV than used to be (I only watch about 8 hours a week with any regularity). But it slips away.

# [/thoughts]

Movie Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0310793">Bowling for Columbine</a> 2002.10.22.19:49

I don't plan on defending Michael Moore or his gentle way of making a point with the subtlety of a sledgehammer opening a soft-boiled egg. I've never sat all the way through one of his movies before. But I wanted to see this one, since I used to live near Littleton, CO.

The movie isn't as focused specifically on Columbine as one would guess from the title. The title itself is derived from the supposition that the two Columbine shooters had gone bowling in the early morning before launching on their rampage. The movie also points out that they were actually in a bowling class, a physical ed. elective, as the reason for the morning's entertainment. It also points out that the same day as the shootings, the U.S. embarked on it's single-largest one-day bombing campaign over Kosovo.

From there, the movie goes in a different direction than one would suspect. While it certainly focuses on the enthusiasm for guns that permeates American society, Moore focuses more closely on the culture of fear that seems to be just as prevalent. He looks to European countries to compare violent histories, and looks to Canada to compare gun-ownership numbers. There are an estimated 7 million guns in the 10 million homes in Canada. Considering the ratio of gun-ownership to the general population, the fact that Canada's gun-death numbers are so drastically lower than ours is nothing short of amazing.

Among the people Moore interviews are Columbine survivors and parents, townsfolk from Flint, MI, where a 6-year-old boy took a gun to school and shot a classmate, gun dealers, Michigan Militia, and Charleton Heston himself. He also speaks with Marilyn Manson, who was widely blamed for the actions of the Columbine shooters:

If you could talk to the parents at Columbine, what would you say?
Nothing. I'd listen. No one's done that yet.

There were laugh-out-loud moments in the movie, and some frighteningly sad ones. I recommend the movie, but with some reservations. It can be very emotionally heavy at times. But I think it's less preachy than his earlier films, and I think it makes some really valid points.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Shooting People to Better Society 2002.10.19.09:00

If I manage to see just one movie this weekend, I intend to see Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine. And when I do so, I'll be sure to review it here.

I'm not really that strong in my stance on guns. I think they're too prevalent, and too easy for the wrong people to get. But I know several people who are intelligent, capable, and able to own and maintain their firearms responsibly (this guy notwithstanding). But I just don't know that I believe it's a right to have one. Dunno. Not going to expound on this right now.

# [/politics]

I am Blizzard's Bitch 2002.10.17.09:24

I have come to realize and accept that I am pretty much powerless to resist the lure of a well-written game. In fact, my Windows machine on my home network pretty much exists to be a game platform. I told myself that I was going to use it to cross-develop web pages and test them on Internet Explorer (which I do), and that I would make it dual-boot into BeOS (which I did). But to be honest, about all it's done is play games. Diablo II, Civilization III, and now Warcraft III.

There are other games that I play from time to time. But the truth is, I like the simulations, and Blizzard has a good grip on that market. Thanks to Blizzard (the makers of Diablo, Warcraft, and other forms of PC-game-crack that I dare not bring into my home), I have a $500 game console, and I often find myself up until all hours.

Like tonight.

# [/entertainment/games]

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman 2002.10.17.07:04

I just finished this book last week, and I must say this is one of the best books I've read in years. I'd owned the book for a few months, and finally "forced" myself to start reading it. Once I started reading it, I seriously had to force myself to put it down each night. Many nights, I was up far too late reading "just one more chapter".

I first started reading Neil Gaiman with his excellent "Sandman" comic series done for DC Vertigo. Years later, I picked up what is still my absolute favorite book to this day: Good Omens (which he co-authored with Terry Pratchett). I've lost count of how many people I've loaned it to (and it's currently in someone else's hands even now).

Gaiman has a way of looking at humanity's pantheon of beliefs and worshipful figures that I can't really describe with any fairness. This was evident in Sandman, in which the old golden-age character became the basis for introducing the family of the Endless, seven siblings all with names that started with "D". This book is even better, in a lot of ways, to the magic he worked on the personas of Dream, Death, Delerium and the others.

In a simplified nutshell, the main character (Shadow, just a name, just an ordinary guy) is on his way home for his wife's funeral. He was let out of prison a few days early for the event, and the thought of returning to his wife was all that had kept him going for the three years on the inside. On a plane, in a funk, he meets a guy who calls himself "Wednesday" who knows way more about Shadow than he should, and who offers him a reasonable job being personal aid and bodyguard to the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. Soon Shadow, and the reader, is meeting personalities ranging from Czernobog to Kali from the pantheon of old gods, and meeting some damn unpleasant personalities from the pantheon of the new gods, who don't seem to want to share humanity with their forebears.

The book isn't science fiction at all, and while it qualifies as fantasy, it's not the swords-and-wizards-and-dragons kind of fantasy that you get from Tolkien or even Rowling. I have a hard time categorizing it, but I had no trouble at all enjoying it. All I can say is, get the book. Read the book. I predict you will enjoy the book.

# amazon () [/entertainment/books]

The Difference Between Knowing and <i>Knowing</i> 2002.10.11.09:02

I've lately been trying to learn to use a different brand of paints for some of my modeling work, in particular for figurines. It's a neat brand out of Spain called Vallejo, and what makes it different from my other paints (besides the color selection) is that it's an acrylic paint, rather than an enamel like most of my modeling paints, or oils like what I generally use on my figures.

My reasons for trying are two-fold; I want to be able to work more quickly, and acrylics dry much faster than oils. In addition, I can buy these much more conveniently, from my local hobby shop. For the oils the best I can hope for is Michael's having the color I need. Failing that, it's a local supplier that isn't open convenient hours, and failing that I have to mail-order. Plus, I would feel a lot less paranoid about taking my kit to work to dabble on during lunch, if I weren't worried that the oils were getting smeared by the jostling of the car.

Problem is, acrylics aren't anything like oils, and in a lot of ways they're harder to work with. With oils, the plus side of the long drying time is that I have a lot of working time with the pigment, to blend and shade as I like. Not so with acrylics. I have only a little bit of time, even when I use a medium that slows the drying time. (Then I have a matter of minutes, rather than seconds.) So I'm having a lot of trouble, and I almost gave up, thinking that my oil technique was just fine, and I'd go back to it. Problem is, I haven't worked on anything in so long, I've also gotten really rusty with the oils.

What really annoys me about this is that I know, on an intellectual level, what to do to get the results I want. I know what colors to mix, and what brushes to use for which areas of the figure. But knowing and knowing are two very different things. Truth is, my fleshtones look either jaundiced or like flash-burn victims. The surface of my painted areas are rife with brushmarks. It's frustrating, this knowing but not knowing.

Programming can be that way, a lot of the time. I've had to learn Java for my current job, but I haven't written anything significant with it. So while I know Java, I don't know Java. The code I write isn't as good as it could be. If I had the luxury of a learning process like I had for Perl or C, the code would look a lot better. And I could say the same thing for Lisp, C++, Tcl/Tk and a few other languages that I can write applications in, if absolutely needed, but in which I would have a hard time writing applications well.

Fortunately, I'm a patient person. As much as I want to give up, I can get myself to calm down and keep going. So I go now to take yet another stab at painting with these thrice-damned acrylics. Because I've seen photos of others' work, so I know good results can be had. And if so, I can get those results as well, eventually.

# [/thoughts]

My Hometown Would Knock Him Right Out 2002.10.10.06:36

I'm actually watching Comedy Central's "Insomniac with Dave Attell". I usually pass on it, but the TV remote is out of reach and I don't want to stop typing long enough to reach it, and besides "The Daily Show" is about to come on.

Basically, "Insomniac" is comedian Dave Attell trying his best to find something to do all night in whatever town he's gigging in. Tonight, it's Memphis. I've caught tail-ends of shows before (when switching on for "The Daily Show") in places like New Orleans and the like. But that's no real challenge– even I could manage to keep myself occupied all night in those places.

You want to impress me? Occupy yourself until the wee hours in any of these places:

  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Gainesville, Texas
  • Apache Junction, Arizona
  • Anywhere other than Fargo, North Dakota
I mean, anyone can get through the night in Long Beach or San Diego. Try doing it in Turlock, Dave...

# [/entertainment]

I Am Become Mine Own Enemy 2002.10.08.10:42

Stopping for groceries on the way home, I did the sort of thoughtless thing that I silently (or even not-so-silently) curse others for doing: I went through the 15-item-limit checkout lane with 16 items. I didn't mean to do it; I rarely buy more than 9 things at a time (since I only cook for myself). But this time, a particular brand of canned chili that I really like (Stagg "Dynamite Hot" flavor) was on sale, 8 cans for $8. I ran through most of my stock of canned goods while unemployed. Not because I was that close to being destitute, but because I was highly focused on finishing THE BOOK, and I tended to eat at home to make the best use of my time. So the chance to re-stock was not one to be passed up. But it led to a cardinal sin (well, more of a bishophoric goof, to be fair).

It's not that I think what I did was a great affront to humanity in and of itself, and neither the checker nor the fellow behind me made any indication of my having caused them an inconvenience. No, the guilt to be confronted here is that of not living up to the standards I expect of others. I get annoyed by people who are insensitive and do this sort of thing, so I have a responsibility to not be that kind of person. On the one hand, I can see that perhaps people I've been annoyed with might not have consciously done this (though there have been a few times when it was clear from their conversation while waiting in line). But the real thing for me is to remember that if I'm going to have expectations of others that I consider reasonable, like not slowing the express line up with over-quota items, then it's only fair that I show the same consideration.

All that, and I ended up eating something entirely different for dinner, as well.

# amazon () [/misc]

More Easily Entertained with Age 2002.10.05.01:55

I'm far less critical of movies now than I was just 5-6 years ago. Movies remain my favorite form of entertainment, since reading is so often work-related more than for pleasure. Lately I've been reading more, but movies still hold a special place.

So it takes an especially bad movie for me to not enjoy at least some of it. Lately, I've seen more of those than I have really good movies. I was talked into seeing Goldmember by a friend, who has yet to apologize. I also recently managed to see Road to Perdition recently, though I wasn't as impressed as I expected to be. But I had really wanted to have the bad taste of the earlier stinkers washed clean, and it didn't quite accomplish that.

As a result, I've found myself becoming more of a DVD-watching shut-in sort of movie fan. I judge a movie less for whether I really want to spend the money to see it, than for whether it's important to see it on the big screen. Episode II was. Many more weren't.

# [/entertainment]

The Trick is to Keep Breathing 2002.10.04.02:25

I've resisted the whole "blog" movement for the longest time, for no small reason that the word "blog" drives me nuts. It ranks right up there with people who insist on pronouncing acronyms that really don't need to be made into words. Is "GUI" so taxing that it's worth calling it "gooey" just to shorten things by one syllable?

But that's a screed for a different time. A time perhaps when I create a special category for "rants".

For now, I'm owning up to being a joiner, a late-comer to the personal journal revolution. My main motivation was two-fold: I wanted someplace to talk about things that aren't related to Perl, and I came across this niftly little application that I'm using for the log. Special mention to Rael for the work on blosxom. We'll just see where it goes from here.

# [/misc]

Who Am I:
Randy J. Ray
Software Engineer


Buy my book!

Programming Web Services with Perl

I've also contributed three chapters to:

Computer Science & Perl Programming

Category quick-links:


24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

Apr May Jun
Jul Aug Sep
Oct Nov Dec

Reading and Re-reading
· The Annotated Thursday: G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Would Be Thursday, G.K. Chesterton, Martin Gardner
· The Feeling Good Handbook, David D. Burns
· Organizing From the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern
· XML Schema, Eric Van Der Vlist
· BEEP: The Definitive Guide, Marshall T. Rose

High in the queue
· Silk, Caitlin R. Kiernan
· Coldheart Canyon, Clive Barker
· Idoru, William Gibson
· Shared Source CLI Essentials, David Stutz, Ted Neward, Geoff Shilling

Recently finished
· Planetary Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century, Warren Ellis, et al

Recommended favorites
· The Cowboy Wally Show, Kyle Baker
· Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite
· The Alienist, Caleb Carr
· Quarantine, Greg Egan
· The Authority: Relentless, Warren Ellis et al.
· Planetary: All Over the World and Other..., Warren Ellis et al.
· American Gods, Neil Gaiman
· Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
· Neuromancer, William Gibson
· A Philosophical Investigation, Philip Kerr
· Say You Want a Revolution (The Invisibles, Book 1), Grant Morrison et al
· You Are Worthless: Depressing Nuggets of..., Oswald T. Pratt and Scott Dickers
· Cryptonomicon, Neil Stephenson
· Rising Stars : Born In Fire (Vol. 1), J. Michael Straczynski

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