rjray.org    Powered by Blosxom

This work licensed under a Creative Commons License:

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

Syndication feeds:
# RSS 1.0 format
# Atom 0.3 format

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

» Blogs that link here

Powered by Technorati

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

Back in Town Now 2003.12.30.07:04

Back and safe on the ground in the south bay. There are a few entries to follow this one, since I never found a Wi-Fi point in OKC to upload my earlier entries. I'll catch up on LJ sometime tomorrow...

# [/thoughts/travel]

And Eight Days Later... 2003.12.29.21:17

I'm sitting in the OKC airport, about half an hour before my flight starts to board. It's been a good week, with many friends visited and too much rich food eaten. But then, the holidays are never the time to be too diet-conscious.

In years past, I've groused about the smokiness of this place, both in terms of my dad's house and just going to restaurants in general. Living in California has spoiled me on this point. But rather than bore what readers I have with a re-hash of an ongoing gripe, I think I'll look more inward this time...


# [/thoughts/travel]

Layover in Las Vegas 2003.12.22.22:02

Sitting here, with about 30 minutes before I have to board. The flight out from San Francisco almost got badly screwed– there were two flights from SFO to Vegas, smartly placed at adjoining gates both of which were numbered 77, differing only in a letter suffix. And of course, I was at the wrong one. I found out in the nick of time, and was one of the last 2 or 3 to board. Luckily for me, the flight was running late, or I might have missed it completely, and if the other flight was as completely booked as mine was there would have been no way to get a connection here in time to catch my second leg to Denver.

But I did make it, and since the layover here in Vegas was supposed to be pretty long to begin with, the lateness of the SFO leg didn't hurt me. And lo and behold, there was a Quizno's near my arriving gate, just as I was hungry for lunch.

Of course, I'm in Vegas, and that means two words: slot machines. In fact, I had expected them to be just everywhere, but I hadn't seen a single one even as I finished eating my lunch. But that was quickly fixed, as I walked towards my connecting gate. Sure enough, there was a little island with what was probably 36 or so slots. I'm prone to addictive behavior; I've known this for a long, long time. I had my first taste of slots in 1998 when I was bringing the rest of my possessions to my new apartment in Campbell, from the storage facility in Denver. I stopped at a place on I-80 just before you get to the California border. I learned quickly how easy it is to get caught up and instinctively go back for more tokens/change when you run out.

So I just walked on past, tempted though I was. And wrote this instead of feeding my quarters into the gaping maw of the beast.

# [/thoughts/travel]

Ready to Head Off to Oklahoma 2003.12.22.18:26

I'm sitting in SFO, waiting for my flight to start boarding. In order to get an airfare I could manage, I have two stops on my way to OKC. I go from here to Vegas, then to Denver, and then on to OKC. It means spending a good nine hours or more either on a plane or in between planes. But it also means actually going, as opposed to spending the holiday alone with my cats.

When I got past security (and I don't even want to go into the whole tirade about our "upgrade" to Threat Level Orange yesterday, but suffice to say everyone here is feeling the effects), I say a little island area touting free wireless connectivity. In fact, when I got closer, I saw that they even had a dozen or so laptops at various stations, for people to use. So, I thought I'd be a good WiFi citizen and let those without their own gear use the loaners, and wandered off to a corner where I could get some current and a signal, without taking up space that others could be using.

Well, it turns out that the "free" part only applies if you are using their hardware and their MAC addresses. When I tried to connect anywhere, I got the T-Mobile service screen, and an offer of 24 hours for $9.99, or 60 minutes for the bargain price of $6.00. I think I'll pass.

It's a shame. For all the fees that SFO gets you with, and all the extra costs (overpriced food, souveniers, etc.) one would thing that providing cost-free WiFi would not be unreasonable. But I guess they'll never pass up the chance to make a few extra bucks.

So I sit here, near my gate, writing this with the intent to upload it, well, whenever. No rush. And on the plus side, I was here at just the right time to help two nice Korean men, who spoke no English, to make a phone call. Speaking from my experience in London, when the local numbers just don't have what your brain considers the "right" number of digits, it can get pretty damn confusing. Once I figured out what they needed, it was just a matter of making the right pseudo-sign-language, and they were set. My good deed for the day...

# [/thoughts/travel]

Sweet Weeping Baby Jesus 2003.12.17.22:00

LiveJournal has again decided that all the stories in my RSS feed were new and/or updated, and has spammed anyone who has the rjray_rss feed in their friends-list.

I don't know why. I've been too busy to write anything, and the only template change I've made was several days ago (and it would not have affected the checksums of the stories– it was to the <head> section of the page only). I would have thought if that were the cause, it would have appeared before today.

Sorry. Again.

# [/misc]

He Also Reportedly Proposed Building a UFO-Port 2003.12.05.09:19
# [/politics/glbt]

Home Again, Home Again... 2003.12.02.08:01

Oif, but this has been a long day. It started at 5:00AM MST, as I got up to head out to the airport to come home. When I laid down to sleep last night, I felt the onset of some flu symptoms– joint/muscle ache, chills, etc. I had a flu shot a few weeks ago, so this kind of surprised me. Luckily, it didn't really catch hold, and the fever broke overnight. By this morning, I didn't have any fever or other symptoms (except for headache and dehydration).

So anyway, off to Denver International Airport. Check-in was quick, but security was a drag since the "Concourse 'A' Trick"* no longer works– too many people seem to have caught on. On top of that, my belt buckle set off the metal detector, and that was an invitation to a full pat-down search. Both legs of the flight were packed, but uneventful. I slept what little I could on the planes, but not enough. It'll be an early evening (relatively speaking) tonight. Getting back to San Jose was nice, after a week at high altitude. Picked up the cats from the kennel, and they're both anxious for my attention.

I've caught up on most of my e-mail (I never ended up back online after Friday afternoon), and all of the LJ traffic I missed. Still more to catch up on in terms of news, software releases and such, but I've done enough for one day.

Oh, one other thing that just kills me: when I got all my stacked-up mail together and went through it, I had gotten four solicitations from Capital One to get their credit card. Four. Within one week. It is to weep.

* To understand the "Concourse 'A' Trick", it helps to know how DIA is laid out. The main terminal is essentially a square, and there are three concourses: A, B and C. The concourses are all parallel lines, essentially. A is closest to the main terminal, B is about twice the length of A or C, and is in the middle. Anyway, the important details are, that the security check in the main terminal is a wretched mess, and that you use an underground subway system to move from the main terminal to the concourses. As it happens, there is a sky-bridge from the main terminal to the A concourse. And up until recently, the security checkpoint was much less clogged and much quicker than the main terminal. So the trick was this: Go across the sky-bridge, go through security at Concourse A (in usually a quarter of the time it would take to go though security in the main terminal), then go down to the subway and take it to your concourse (unless your concourse is A). Usually saves you upwards of twenty minutes. But not anymore; today it was packed. I guess too many people have caught on.

# [/thoughts/travel]

Connected at Last! 2003.11.28.22:05

After having endless problems dialing in to my ISP (connection would drop, sometimes after only 30 seconds or so), I've found a place in Boulder where I can get reasonably-priced wireless access. It's part of the Surf and Sip network, in case you want to give them some business on your next travel outing.

Mostly caught up with e-mail, and my LiveJournal friends-list. Crikey, but people write a lot...

# [/misc]

My Denver Lament 2003.11.28.07:23

I really miss Colorado. I've felt this way each time that I've visited, but for some reason the feeling is a lot stronger this time. Maybe because I'm not as happy in my current job as I wish to be (and last year, I was only about 3-4 months in, too soon to make that sort of judgement), I'm more given to the feelings of longing.

What really triggered the feelings so strongly this time was a trip we made yesterday to the Denver Art Museum. (We were there for the current headlining exhibition, "El Greco to Picasso." An amazing display of works from the Duncan Phillips collection, which sounds so casual as I type it now, but of course I knew squat about it before yesterday.) As we drove down US 36 to I-70, and south into downtown Denver, I just felt like this was where I belonged. Seeing the skyline of downtown, and driving past the place I used to work, just brought it all back.

I wonder why I feel so strongly about this place. Fact is, I've now spent more time in California than I did in Colorado. As of the 15th of this month, I've lived in California for six years. I was only in Colorado for about five and a half years when I left. Maybe because this is the first place I lived once I made the move away from Oklahoma. I don't feel this strong a tie to Oklahoma, and I lived there for nearly 24 years. Something about this place, maybe something about the friends I had here. It's hard to tell.

Mind, this doesn't mean that I'm going to immediately start looking for a job out here, and move back at the earliest opportunity. I have a lot vested in the bay area, and I can't just pull up stakes and go. There are things I want to get done, and friends that I've made that I can't imagine leaving behind. But I feel very strongly that I'll end up back here, some day. It may be five years, it may be longer. Funny thing is, I'm frustrated by the dryness of the air here, and the static it creates. I'm more easily winded due to the altitude (though that would improve over time). But I just miss it here.

# [/thoughts/travel]

Turkey Day '03 2003.11.28.04:30

Once again, my devious plans for world domination have been foiled by the sedative powers of tryptophan.

Pasha, the friend I'm staying with, has always been an amazing cook. But this year, she's made what I believe to be the best turkey she's ever done. Factor in home-made rolls, green bean casserole, fruit salad, and all the usual Thanksgiving trimmings, and you get one very bloated me. We didn't even get as far as the pies, let alone the chocolate-frosted peanut-butter brownies.

Thanksgiving week is never the time to be worried about your weight.

# [/food]

TiVo Envy 2003.11.27.04:51

I've been here at my friend's place for about four days now. My friend has TiVo. I have many friends who have TiVo, but this is the first time I've spent any amount of time in a house with TiVo.

I've avoided getting TiVo for two reasons: Firstly, I generally don't watch enough TV in a given month to justify even the monthly charge, let alone the set-up and installation costs. Secondly, I worry that if I had a tool like TiVo at my disposal, I would end up watching significantly more TV than I currently do.

The last four days haven't done anything to assuage that second concern. Mind you, I am on vacation. And I'm making it a point to relax and not focus too hard on anything work-related. Nothing quite takes my mind off of work like hours of TV. But as a side-effect of all this watching, I've finally seen "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy", and caught a few BBC America programs as well.

If I make the plunge into TiVo, I'm almost certainly going to end up watching more TV than I currently do. I'll also not have problems with recording multiple programs in a given evening (something I can't currently do with my Comcast cable set-up). Pah. I'm still thinking about it.

# [/tech]

Here I Am in Snowy Denver 2003.11.24.07:52

(Actually, I'm in a little suburb called Superior, but there's no need to split hairs...)

The flights on Saturday were fine, though once we were on the ground at DIA we had to wait nearly 45 minutes for a gate to pull into. Weather that day had started out as mildly snowy and gotten progressively worse. When we were leaving LAX, the flight captain said that the weather report had visibility at DIA at about 2 miles. By the time we were over the Rockies and making our approach, it was down to half of a mile. Still enough to land safely. But it was holding up some departures, and of course that cascades downward.

Once here, things were fine. I was wiped out, since I'd only gotten two hours of sleep Friday night. After we ate, none of us was up for much more than some TV and then sleep. But my host managed enough energy for a spur-of-the-moment cake, which was heavenly. When I went to sleep, it took a bit to adjust to the different bed, but apparently not too much, as I'm told I was out within 20-30 minutes.

(Of course, how timely these journal entries appear all hinges upon whether and how often I find a source of wireless connectivity...)

# [/thoughts/travel]

Chicks With Casios 2003.11.19.08:59

By way of Warren Ellis, I was led to the website for a female duo who call themselves The Capricorns. Two women with Casios, and they aren't afraid to use them either.

At the site, you can download two of their songs, The New Sound amd Pretty Girls.

Joe Bob says, "Check 'em out."

# [/entertainment/music]

Again the Floodgates Open 2003.11.19.08:53

In just the last half-hour or so, I've been getting the damnable "Latest MS Security Patch" worm-spam in a veritable flood. In addition, I'm also getting a ton of bounce messages from a Japanese e-mail server that uses the RAV for Linux suite. Those, at least, I can filter out, since they come from a consistent address. The "security patch", like most spam and/or worms, randomizes the address. All I can do is wait for it to show up in the virus descriptions that my ISP uses for SpamAssassin.

In the meantime, each time fetchmail perks up, it strangles my dial-up bandwidth for several minutes.

# [/tech]

Astro-Dating Quiz 2003.11.19.04:04

Today's quiz asks the immortal question, "What Zodiac Sign Are You Attracted To?" Alas...

You should be dating a Pisces. 19 February - 20 March
Your mate is loving and caring, trusting and
hospitable, and romantic. Though he/she can be
self-pitying, temperamental or dependent, the
fishes are quite romantic in bed.

That wouldn't be so bad, but I am a Pisces. Self-pitying? Tempermental? Oh well, at least I'm romantic...

# [/funny]

Headed to Colorado 2003.11.19.03:45

With the holidays setting in, I'm gearing up for more travel. I'll be leaving for Denver this coming Saturday, and staying there through the 30th. I'll be basically lounging about most of the time, trying to actually rest while on vacation, for a change. I do hope to commence writing again, but the main focus will be visiting with friends and eating. Yes, eating. See, I'll be staying with my ex-SO, who remains one of the most amazing cooks I've ever known. And while we'll be eating out at favorite restaurants of mine a few times, she's already promised me some of my favorite dishes, as well as utterly fattening and sinful desserts. I won't be surprised if I get back and learn that I've gained five or more pounds. Crash-space and decadent food; can't beat that deal with a stick.

While I'm there, I will also of course be up for hanging out a litte bit here and there, should there be anyone reading this who's in the Denver area. Just drop me a line before Saturday (my internet connectivity will be spotty during that week– in fact, I'd love to know of any WiFi hot-spots or fairly cheap net cafés where I'd be able to check mail).

# [/thoughts/travel]

Neil Gaiman's Matrix 2003.11.16.00:51

Through a series of links on LiveJournal, I came across this short bit of "Matrix Fanfic" written by Neil Gaiman: Goliath

I find the thought of someone like Gaiman doing Matrix fanfic kind of amusing, but I can't really laugh at it, because it's really damn good. And not just in that "I like Gaiman so everything he writes I blindly like" sense, either. I do love his work, yes. But I like plenty of writers, and while I gush about the stuff I really enjoy, I just don't bother with talking about the stuff I don't like. So while I admit to being a fan-boy where NG is concerned, I truly believe that if you liked the first Matrix movie at all, you'll enjoy this story. Bonus points if you can guess the identity of the antagonist(s).

(When I say "enjoyed the first movie", I mean that this story was clearly written for the whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com website, which was first put together to promote the second film. There's nothing about it that places it in any particular part of the timeline of any of the three movies, but I'm pretty sure that Mr. Gaiman wrote it before the second film was released, that's all.)

# [/entertainment/movies]

Underrated Albums: Concrete Blond's "Mexican Moon" 2003.11.14.10:25

[cover] (The first in what may or may not be a series...)

While cleaning house recently, I came across my copy of Mexican Moon, the 1993 release by Concrete Blond. So I slotted it into the player and gave it a spin. Wow.

I had forgotton just how really good this album is. And I started wondering why it didn't run the charts like Bloodletting had. I suppose (and this is purely conjecture) that the legions of tortured goths who felt that CB really "felt their pain" with songs like "Bloodletting" and "Joey". And maybe they felt left behind when Walking in London wasn't another paen to children of the night. Of course, if you read the reviews at Amazon, they're all written by people who feel, as I do, that this album has always been unfairly dismissed.

Who knows, I guess. But this one strayed even further from BL than WiL had. Not that I don't like those albums; "Tomorrow, Wendy" remains one of my favorite songs by any band. But this album just meshes really well. From the opening "Jenny I Read", into the title track, you just know that you're going to enjoy every track on the disc.

Money, art, a broken heart, where do you want to go?
     —Mexican Moon

I think it was the track, "Heal It Up," that got the radio air-play. I know that I'm not a tour-following devoted fan. I had BL, but hadn't gotten around to getting WiL. When I heard "Heal", though, I had to get this one. It's a powerful track, with great lyrics and poetry. And in a disturbingly smooth blend, it goes right in to the sampled excerpts of Jim Jones that open up the track, "Jonestown". And we're only up to the fourth track.

I can go one about pretty much every track. The whole album is very listen-able, from start to end, on auto-repeat even. The last track is titled, "Bajo La Lune Mexicana," and as you might guess even without speaking any Spanish, it's the title track again, only with the lyrics in Spanish (though alternating lines of the chorus are still in English). In a way, this is the most relaxing, almost ambient track of the disc. I don't focus on the exact words as much, and instead on the timbre of the singer's voice and the music that accompanies her.

Very happy that I dug this up.

# amazon (and on and on and on) [/entertainment/music]

Hot Wheel, Indeed! 2003.11.13.01:59

VOW The Forbes.com "Vehicle of the Week" for last week is this very chic-looking answer to the silly Segway. Besides capturing that cross between Terminator 3 and Sorayama, the thing runs on fuel cells for an added twist. There's no telling what it will actually cost when/if it comes to market, but I'd love to test-drive one.

(Placed in /tech for lack of a more vehicle-oriented category.)

# [/tech]

To the Charge of Journal Neglect: Guilty 2003.11.12.22:58

I'm not exactly off to a great start for November. Today is the 12th, and this is my first note of the month.

There are a lot of interesting goings-on, but there isn't a lot of free time. I'm hoping to catch up on things, so there should be some new entries (with actual content) fairly soon.

Be warned, though, that I will be making some adjustments to the templates that are used to generate the individual stories. This may or may not cause a large number of entries to re-appear on LiveJournal. So I'm apologizing in advance.

# [/misc]

What the F***? 2003.10.26.23:55

LiveJournal has spewed the last 17 entries from my RSS feed, all in a row, all at about 2:26AM this morning. I have no f'ing clue why this happened. For one thing, the RSS feed itself should only produce 15 entries at a time. Although, checking with some command-line tools just now shows me that it's sending 41. I'll have to look at that separately, but it doesn't explain 17. Secondly, the only time in the past that this has happened was when I made a change to the story templates that actually affected the content of the individual stories (I suspect that the LJ application that fetches RSS feeds tracks things with checksums of some sort, probably MD5). That hasn't happened, either. Not counting this entry right here, the last file modification in my blosxom file tree was about 5 days ago, the follow-up to the "Find the Boeing" story.

Ironically-enough, that followup was to address the fact that LJ seemed to be correctly leaving RSS-fed stories in their chronological order when such a story had an update.

No clue why this happened. Apologies to those who were spammed.

# [/misc]

In Case You Read the Boeing Entry Yesterday 2003.10.21.23:51

It seems that LiveJournal is now smart-enough to tell when a change in the RSS feed is just an update to an entry it already displayed. Used to be, if I made a small update it re-posted the entry in question as if it had just appeared. Now it stays at the original place in the chronology, but with the updated text. This is a good bug-fix, in my opinion.

However, in this case, it means that my update to yesterday's entry on the "Find the Boeing" conspiracy didn't get the same prominence that the original did. If you read that via the RSS feed at LJ, please check back and follow the link to the debunking of this particular theory.

# [/politics]

Get on the Global Frequency 2003.10.21.23:38

I haven't yet talked about Warren Ellis' excellent Global Frequency series under my comics category, because it is still in issue format and I wanted to wait for the graphic novel. It's easier for the non-comic-fiend types to get a GN than to hunt down back issues.

But this recent bit from CNN (not sure how long this link will be in their archive) means speaking up a bit early:

"Under that deal, Burnett has also teamed with writer-producer John Rogers for a drama based on the DC spy comic 'Global Frequency,' which has received a script commitment from the WB.

"'Global Frequency' revolves around an independent defense intelligence organization connected by a worldwide telecommunications web that uses ordinary individuals as agents around the world to fight black ops projects, unexplained phenomena and other problems the government agencies have."

So while the "full review" is still forthcoming, let me say that this could be potentially excellent news. WB has done some stinkers, but they also gave Joss Whedon the elbow room he needed to develop Buffy and Angel. And GF is something else; it is in fact very spy vs. spy in nature, but the writing is extremely crisp and tight, and the pacing is just fantastic. What really struck me about it, though, is that it's already episodic. Each issue is a single, stand-alone story, with recurring characters but otherwise not leading up to a single grand-finale sort of conclusion. I've even mentioned to the friend who turned me on to it, that it would lend itself well to TV, since it's already written for it: each issue's final page runs the credits over the last few panels as the story is wrapped up and last lines are spoken.

I just hope that the WB has the minerals to use the existing stories, rather than just using the concept and writing new stories. The ones they have are brutal, harsh, and very realistic (save for the near-future sci-fi tech that they use). It would be a shame to not have characters like Grishko come to life on the screen.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Find the Boeing 2003.10.21.09:59

This is an interesting link:

Find the Boeing!

I offer no further comment, or specific endorsement. But it does raise some interesting questions.

Update: Andrew pointed me towards the debunking page at snopes.com. It might not convince all the theorists, but it's good-enough for me.

# [/politics]

Total Recall: the Fallout 2003.10.09.03:04


Well, it's all over except for the gnashing of teeth. With over 90% of the polls accounted for, the recall is passing 54.2% to 45.8%. Schwarzenegger is the clear winner over Bustamante, with 47.8% of the vote to his 32.6%. Soon, the state will be in the hands of Governor Pete Wilson Arnold Schwarzenegger. On the plus side, both propositions (53 and 54) were defeated. So, the state hasn't taken full leave of its collective senses.

Let's be clear: I am willing to admit when I'm wrong. So if, a year or so from now, we are truly in better shape under this new administration then I will admit it. In fact, if we are in truly better shape when re-election rolls around, I may vote for his re-election. Assuming he hasn't been recalled or otherwise brought down by the abuse and harassment charges. Don't think for a minute those are going to go away, just because the election is over.


# [/politics]

Total Recall: No Sequel, OK? 2003.10.08.23:26

Let's be clear about something here: I didn't vote for Arnold, and while I will be ready to admit if I'm wrong, I expect him to do at best an ineffective job, and at worst a truly horrible job.

But I do not, under any circumstances, support the notion that we should be immediately serving the GOP a taset of their own medicine. I do not support any effort to recall Schwarzenegger. He's won, he's won fairly. Let him serve the remainder of the term that's left, and judge him on his merits (or lack of) at the next scheduled gubernatorial election.

In the meantime, if you are truly angered and disenfranchised by all of this, then plan for the presidential race and the congressional races next year. Having a GOP governor of California is going to make it harder for the Democrats to assume that California is safely in their camp. It will mean using more of their resources here than they would have otherwise, and that will mean they have to spread the resources around more carefully in other states. We had a huge voter turn-out this time– far more than voted in the initial gov race last year. Try to keep that going for next year.

# [/politics]

My Recall Rant 2003.10.07.03:43

It has reached the point where I feel a great need to speak up on the recall, even if only for my own sake. I realize that this is pretty much an 11th-hour treatise, but then I suspect that most people who are likely to read this (and actually living in California) have already made up their minds. Heck, at least one that I know of has already voted by absentee ballot.

(Behind a cut, since I expect this to be pretty long...)


# [/politics]

The (Really) New Word of the Day 2003.10.07.01:30

On NPR this afternoon, as I was returning from lunch, I listened to Talk of the Nation where the guest was Simon Winchester, author of The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary. Besides being a very entertaining interview subject, Mr. Winchester had opened the floor to listeners to suggest new words that they thought should be in the dictionary.

Well, one guy called in with a word that both Neal Conan and Mr. Winchester agreed sounded very good and could be a real contender. So here I present to you, slightly paraphrased from my memory of the call (and apologies to the caller for forgetting his name):

convivant, noun, ("kän-vE-'vänt, "kOn-vE-'vän)
A committed, romantic partner with whom you share living space.

The caller was certain to leave gender out of the definition, and presented it in the context of needing a clear, convenient word to describe a person's parner(s) where "spouse" was not accurate.

Best part is, if it gets used in enough "real" (published and/or broadcast media or entertainment) arenas, it could actually make it into the OED.

(On the one-in-a-million chance that the caller happens across the entry [perhaps by Googling to see if anyone has used the word?] and wants to provide his name and/or clarification of the definition, I'll update this to reflect that.)

# amazon () [/thoughts/rships]

Midnight Movies Again (Raiders of the Lost Ark) 2003.10.04.10:24

Under the heading of "ages really, really well," we can file the film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. This was the current weeks' selection at the Midnight Movie series being co-sponsored around here by the Camera Cinemas chain and the local radio station "The Wave". (This was the same series at which I first went to see 28 Days Later back at the end of June.)

This movie has held up against the current generation of "action films" amazingly well. It's supposedly a recently "enhanced" print, in that they've worked on the overall visual quality and sound quality of the film, but not in the sense of Lucas' decision to add all sorts of weird extra stuff to the original Star Wars trilogy. Nothing was added or changed, just shown the way it originally was, 22 years ago. That's what blows my mind: this film is old enough to buy booze and have graduated from college. And it is still heads and shoulders above pretty much anything released in the last five years. I'm sorry... did I say five years? Let's say ten. In fact, let's say fourteen– since the release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I may be exaggerating, and I'm no doubt biased by the fact that it's still rattling around in my skull. But being reminded of little things like the "Sieg Heil!" monkey, the bad-ass swordsman that Indy just up and shoots, and of course the whole amazing opening sequence in the Peruvian temple (featuring the first credited film appearance by a then-unknown Alfred Molina), I guess I'm given to enthusiasm.

Wow. Quite a treat.

(Anyone in the south bay area can see it midnight tonite [Saturday the 4th] at the Camera One theater in downtown San Jose. I can't recommend it enough.)

# [/entertainment/movies]

Wrapping Up September 2003.10.01.06:51

Counting this, I'd made 4 journal entries this month. Feh.

On the plus side, the big oppressive project at work went live today. No quirks or bugs upon launch. We've made a number of subtle interface improvments to the 1-800-FANDANGO voice application. Call it and try it out. Better yet, call it and order your next movie tickets through it. The skim off of the ticket sales are how we actually make money in the deal.

(The most notable interface change has to do with theaters that show one or more movies in digital project, Spanish subtitles, stuff like that. If you happen upon such a theater, you can now choose the special version if you are so inclined. I happen to be a sucker for digital projection. Most of the changes are behind-the-scenes, so that it works better and responds to the caller better. Hopefully it will just work for you and you won't notice.)

For the month ahead, I hope to get back to the building and painting, and maybe even squeeze in a little journalling.

# [/misc]

Enneagrams: So Close, It Almost Isn't Funny 2003.09.22.22:32
Conscious self
Overall self
Take Free Enneagram Test

I can't even begin to try and comment on this...

# [/funny]

Big 5: Another Personality Quiz While I'm At It 2003.09.22.22:29
Big 5
The Big Five Personality Test
Extroverted|||||||||| 32%
Introverted |||||||||||||||| 68%
Friendly |||||||||||||||| 64%
Aggressive |||||||||| 36%
Orderly |||||||||||| 48%
Disorderly |||||||||||||| 52%
Relaxed |||||||||| 36%
Intellectual |||||||||||||||||| 78%
Practical |||||| 22%
Take Free Big 5 Personality Test

Not all of these are things I'd agree with– not very practical? But scoring so low on Extroversion pretty much makes sense.

# [/funny]

Pax Warren Zevon 2003.09.08.18:41

Singer Warren Zevon dead at 56

I can't claim to be a huge Zevon fan, and I don't own any of his albums. But he was original, eclectic, and he gave us the title, "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead". It's always a shame to lose such talent at a comparitively young age.

At least he won't have to play "Werewolves of London" ever again. As I understand it, he really came to hate that WoL was his best-known and most-requested tune.

# [/entertainment/music]

August 2003, A Bad Month for Journalling 2003.09.01.00:22

Between a wholly-unreasonable (and inflexible) work deadline, and my silly desire to actually sleep and eat occassionally, I haven't made any entries in the last 10 days, and I've only made 14 all month (including this one). This is a notable drop from my high-point of 43 this past June.

To be honest, September isn't really looking any better at this point.

# [/misc]

Vote With Your Stomache 2003.08.22.06:51

Taco Bell is running their own recall election.

"¡Yo quiero direct democracy!"

(Link and snappy quote courtesy the mind behind http://www.kingtroll.com)

# [/politics]

Good Intentions Don't Equal Good Results 2003.08.22.01:19

Thanks to the latest worm, I'm getting a renewed flood of junk e-mail. Most of it is caught by my ISP's spam filter. But there is another contributor to the madness, a source that probably didn't mean to be making the problem worse. And yet...

I have seen a serious percentage of these e-mails that are not the actual virus messages, but instead are auto-reply messages from spam filtering systems, most often tied to SpamAssassin (as a loyal user, I also recognize the report format). It looks like there are a lot of people out there who mean to punish the spammers by returning messages to them, thus causing them the same level of headache they cause (higher, in theory, since others are doing the same thing). But that isn't working. How do I know this? Because I'm not the one sending the virus messages.

These virus mails are going out because someone who got infected has me in their addressbook. Sending me the auto-reply simply because that is the address on the "From" line isn't doing anything (aside from making me a little bit more annoyed). I understand the reasoning behind this– hell, I've thought about doing something similar. But if I'm getting this many returns, then there are certainly people out there getting even more than I have.

So if you are one of the people doing this auto-reply mojo, please stop it. I hate to break the news, but I doubt that any spammers are going to be truly moved by your efforts. Meanwhile, there are a lot of people who are already getting more than enough useless messages because of the virus. At least the virus messages are caught by the filters. The replies aren't, because they don't look like spam. So I'm getting more of this faux-spam than I'm getting of the real thing. Please stop.

# [/tech]

Here's A Thought 2003.08.20.23:25

Flirting with the pharmacist who fills your prescriptions is futile, no matter how friendly (or cute) she is.

She knows what meds you're on. She knows just how messed up you really are.

# [/thoughts]

Two Times 28 2003.08.10.08:10

I went to see 28 Days Later again, for the purpose of seeing the "original" ending. This was supposedly the way it was meant to end, but had tested badly with audiences. Thus, the movie got a "happier" replacement ending, á la Bladerunner.

Anyway, I wouldn't recommend that anyone go just for the sake of the extra bit of material. In this case, they were wise to re-do the ending. It was badly-paced, and just didn't fit with the rest of the movie.

(The details, and other spoiler-level discussion, behind the cut.)


# [/entertainment/movies]

Two From Moore: Promethea and Top 10 2003.08.08.08:29

Let me start with a bit of fair disclosure: I'll read just about anything this man has written. The main barrier to reading his works is working their purchase into my budget. I can't buy all the books I want to, and I don't have time to read all the books I want to, either. But when I can treat myself to a new Alan Moore volume, it jumps to the top of my reading list.

[cover] And that was the case with the first volume of Promethea. I had been looking at this somewhat askance for over a year now, as I haven't really been budgeting a lot for books, least of all graphic novels. But one recent trip I decided to give this a try, after thumbing through briefly and looking at the artwork. After all, I'm already certain I'll like the writing, since it's Moore. And the artwork was really enticing, so I gave it a shot. Good thing, too.

Promethea is the story about a heroic figure that seems to appear rather consistently in mankind's legends and literature over the span of hundreds of years (if not more). A college student is doing a term paper on this, when she learns that Promethea has actually existed, in different forms over the ages, as a kind of by-product of the belief in the various myths themselves. And more, she (the student) is next in line to take up the mantle.

The story is really well-paced, and the vision of a not-too-near future is all believable. The innovations are subtle, and seem like logical extrapolation from what we already have here and now. Like I said, the art is really good. The dialog moves the story along, and the way the different literary myths are intertwined give the book a very unique feel. I'm already looking forward to the second volume (even if I have to borrow it from someone).


# amazon (and on and on and on and on) [/entertainment/books/comics]

Mike Hawash Pleads Guilty 2003.08.07.08:56

Some time back, I mentioned a case in Oregon about an Intel engineer arrested regarding supposed terrorist links. I was very upset about this, because it seemed like just the sort of thing that I feared the post-9/11 administration would pull.

Well, he's plead guilty. I accept responsibility for my views, and readily admit when I'm wrong. Not that I enjoy being wrong, but I don't shirk away from it. I'm tempted to be suspicious, to think that his decision to confess (when his trial wasn't scheduled until January of 2004) might have some overtones to it. But really, right now I'm just annoyed that he got so many people to stand up so righteously on his behalf.

# [/politics]

So, Will We Get Arnold For Governor? 2003.08.07.08:28

Arnold Schwarzenegger has officially announced that he's going to run for governor of California. If you aren't laughing at us here in California yet, I don't know what else we can do to amuse you. Really. At least when Jesse Ventura ran in Minnesota, he ran a full campaign, took a stond on issues, and basically made a committment to choosing a life in politics. This is opportunism, taking advantage of a wave of resentment that's been fostered by conservatives unhappy that they weren't able to actually win the governorship.

We're to believe that the blame and cause for our current budget crisis is in the hands of one person. Nevermind that the fall of the Internet economy was not in the hands of any one person. Never mind that the so-called energy crisis was more manufactured by Enron than truly an emergency. But not to worry, because the same Republicans who deregulated the energy industry are keen to take over the economic recovery.

As for Arnold, I don't know what to think. One person I know made a very good point– that he could at least prove enough of a polarizing personality to prevent too many voters scattering amongst the wider array of crackpots. I think that this will spell the end for Davis. I just don't know what to expect for a replacement. I feel very strongly that Schwarzenegger has little or no qualification at all. The argument that "anyone would be better than Davis" is as much as strawman argument as can be put forth. I'm not defending him. I'm not even sure yet how I'll vote. I will probably have to accept that Davis is doomed, and pick a likely replacement. But it won't be Arnold.

Update: As it happens, the movie Demolition Man is on. There is an eerily-prescient reference to "President Schwarzenegger" as Sandra Bullock is driving Stallone to the fancy dinner at Taco Bell. Eep.

# [/politics]

Review: Preacher, by Garth Ennis et al 2003.08.07.07:16

[cover] After a steady diet of Alan Moore and Warren Ellis, I got talked into giving this title a try. I hadn't heard of Garth Ennis before, but several people recommended this one. I picked up the first collected volume, and I was hooked. The story is really what drew me in, more than the art which is often the case.

The story centers around Jesse Custer, the minister to a very small town in Texas. Only Jesse isn't happy at his job, and he has a tendency to ease the pain by way of the bottle. One Saturday night, he pulls a major bender. He ends up at the local bar, loudly airing the towns dirty laundry to all present. The next morning, he finds the church packed to the rafters with the town's populace (most of whom just want to see if he'll pick up where he left off). As he gets ready to try and cover his actions of the night before, the church is struck by a "meteor" in the form of Genesis– a half-angelic, half-demonic entity that has broken loose from heaven. The result is literally explosive: the church and all in it (the entire population of the town, it turns out) are immediately incinerated. All but Jesse himself. He regains consciousness some hours later, to find that he's the central suspect as Feds and local police try to learn what happened. Not only is Jesse alive, he has a strange new power, and somehow knows that not all is right in Heaven. He decides to find out what is going on, and sets out in the company of an ex-girlfriend whose path crosses his, and a hard-drinking Irish vampire who had rescued her the night before in Dallas.

It should be pretty obvious that this is not a title for most people, and it is definately not going to sit well with those who are hard-line fundamentalist in their take on the Bible. This takes a lot of the Biblical story and turns it in directions you would never have thought of in a lifetime. It will offend a lot of people, but it will also make a lot of people think, especially about questions of man's free will. The characters are all colorful, though some of them seem to be just there for easy laughs. And I don't know that I agree with all of the premises Ennis presents, either. But I could barely wait between volumes. At nine installments, I couldn't just walk out and buy them at a whim. Still, after each one was ended, I was itching to get my hands on the next one.

Highly recommended.

# amazon (and on) [/entertainment/books/comics]

Back to the Subject of the Graphic Novel 2003.08.07.06:37

So, since I've been reading a lot of graphic novels, and I can never just do anything without over-analyzing it, I got to thinking about why I've been reading so many GN's.

The best answer I can come up with (besides the storytelling, which I'll come back to in a few minutes) is that I've been so deeply entrenched in reading a whole raft of technical books, that even ordinary fiction is kind of off-putting at the moment. Whether I try to read the Chesterton book I've currently got on top of my list, or the book by Burns that I've been reading in conjunction with my therapy, it just feels a little too much like the O'Reilly and other tech books.

But as I said a couple of months ago, graphic novels are a really interesting form of literature all their own. More meaty and solid than the usual single-issue comic, and often times with a much higher production quality. And a lot of the stories being written by the current "masters of the art" are extremely creative and inventive. Two of Alan Moore's GN's have become movies (though in both cases, the books were significantly better). At least one other has been under consideration off and on for years. Garth Ennis' Preacher series is said to be in early pre-production as a movie.

So anyway, I'm going to post some reviews of some of my favorites that I've read in the past few months or so. Thanks to the many friends who've lent me various books and gotten me hooked on so many storylines.

# [/entertainment/books/comics]

Dean Needs YOU (For Image Consultancy) 2003.08.06.06:41

There was a segment on the Daily Show this evening about Howard Dean, as a potential Democratic candidate for president. Now, I've liked most of what I've heard and read about Dean, and would consider him a real contender, right up there with Kerry. Of course, I'm so disappointed and disgusted with the way the Republicans have been pillaging the budget and turning back the clock on social issues, I'll probably vote for whomever the Dems nominate just on general principal. (And don't get me started on the Greens, not right now anyway.)

But the footage they showed of Dean from his appearance on Larry King Live was just... scary. The man looked more like a Saturday Night Live parody of a politician than a real one. I would have thought it was Dana Carvey doing Howard Dean. He was so stiff, he made Al Gore look Bill Clinton. Someone needs to talk to this guy about image. It's a sad statement, but image matters as much (if not more) than the message itself. And while Dean is great on the internet, once the campaign goes into full swing and he starts appearing on TV more often, this could kill him.

# [/politics]

(Im)Proper Disposal of Old Foodstuffs 2003.08.06.06:11

Some time back, I made home-made pickled peppers with fresh jalapeños in apple cider vinegar. They were tasty on rice, and great on nachos. But I don't really know how long they should be let to set, and after getting sick last week I hadn't touched them in 6+ days. So I decided to throw them out. I'll make more, later.

So, since there was a lot of fluid, just throwing them in the trash wasn't an option. That left the garbage disposal. After cleaning out the dishes and such, I made sure I had hot water running and poured them down. Flipped the switch, and off they went in a frenzy of grinding. Well, off went the material component of the mixture. The aromatic essence lingers on.

Which is to say, my kitchen reeks.

# [/food]

Can't Sleep, Penguins Will Taunt Me 2003.08.01.18:37

I didn't sleep at all last night. Zero.

This wasn't a case of, "oops, played videogames until the sun came up". I didn't play any games last night. Nor was it a case of being entranced by the glowing Oracle– I watched only The Daily Show, then turned it off. I read some before turning off the light, but that isn't unusual for me.

Just couldn't sleep. Couldn't clear my mind, no matter how many meditative exercises I tried, or anything else. Now I'm dead on my feet.

Bet I sleep tonight. Unless, of course, I don't make it even that far.

# [/thoughts/health]

University robot ruled too scary 2003.08.01.17:36
# [/tech]

Follow-Up to Yesterday 2003.08.01.06:38

Fortunately, this bug seems to be fairly short-lived. I left work, came home and crashed. Woke up about 10:45PM, feeling restless, so I watched the Daily Show (good call, since the guest was Alyson Hannigan on her American Wedding promo junket). Went back to bed. At about 2AM, my stomache finally decided to send me in to pray at the White Altar. Then, about 4:30AM or so, I awoke drenched in sweat– the fever had finally broken.

So, I went back in to work today (albeit late), and managed to fix a few things before giving up and going home early. Now, the bedclothes are in the wash, and I'm hoping that tomorrow I get the whole day in. But really, I'll be just as happy to get through the night without another offering at the altar.

# [/thoughts/health]

I Know This Feeling 2003.07.31.01:28

Sudden chills, accompanied by the shakes. Nausea, despite having barely eaten anything (and what little I have, was bland almost to the point of being tasteless). I remember these symptoms...

I'm sick.

I didn't need the reminder, really. I was doing just fine without this, thank you very much...

# [/thoughts/health]

Napster 2.0 2003.07.29.06:32

Napster 2.0 is coming by the end of the year.

It'll be just like Napster, except it'll cost money.

Three months, tops. Six if they can find some really fucking naïve venture capitalists.

# [/tech]

CA Dems Mess Up Over Budget 2003.07.23.09:12

California state legislature Democrats blew it big-time, getting caught by an open mic discussing how they could use the current budget crisis to gain leverage over the Republicans. For my part, I agree with the person from whom I got the link; both sides of the house are pretty much equally-distasteful. But just when I think that this can only uplift the Republicans, I read this gem:

Assembly Republican Leader Dave Cox said that he was disappointed that Democrats would consider using the budget crisis to their political advantage.

Disappointed? Really? Because that sentence pretty much sums up the whole "Recall Davis" effort.

# [/politics]

AP: Saddam's Sons Killed in Gunfight 2003.07.23.01:57

I've been against the war from the start, but I've never pretended nor tried to convince anyone else that Hussein and his regime were anything other than brutal. So I'm not at all saddened to read this:

Saddam's Two Sons Killed in U.S. Raid

They had a chance to defend themselves, and when it comes right down to it they were facing the repercussions of the violence they themselves had visited upon the people of Iraq for so many years. In fact, their end came a lot more swiftly and with a lot less pain than the vast majority of their victims.

# [/politics]

It's Great Being Male 2003.07.22.03:49

Frequent masturbation lowers the risk of prostate cancer.

Pizza reduces the risk of cancer, too, it would seem.

All I need now is a definitive link to the research that shows how beer lowers the risk of heart disease.

It's great, being male.

Update: A kind reader pointed me towards the American Heart Association article regarding alchohol and heart disease. Guinness, anyone?

# [/thoughts/health]

New Shirts 2003.07.18.02:32

[cover] I shall soon have a couple of new shirts. The one whose image you see to the left, and this one as well. I suspect these shall make me instantly the life of any and all parties I attend while so attired. I also expect numerous questions as to where one gets shirts so cool, so I'm making this journal entry for future referral's sake.

Geek humor never ceases to crack me up.

# [/funny]

Trust Internet Explorer? Think Again. 2003.07.16.23:58

Cribbed from a fellow Perl hacker's journal, this little bit on how secure the information that Microsoft (well, Hotmail at least) stores in cookies really is. If you use either (let alone both of) IE or Hotmail, you should read.

# [/tech]

Errata and Resource Page for PWSWP 2003.07.16.09:08

I've put together a page on my blackperl.com domain for tracking the errata for my book, as well as linking various reviews and providing access to the downloadable code examples.

The page is here.

Just for kicks, I decided to try some new tricks out on this page, such as relying on CSS rather than tables for block-element alignment (though I had to drop back to tables in the actual errata listing, for the page/paragraph/line display, because of a percentage-rounding-error in some browsers). I also got my feet wet in XSLT, using that to transform an XML representation of the errata information into a XHTML snippit suitable for virtual-inclusion.

(Interestingly enough, I really haven't done anything with blackperl.com as a domain, except hang my resume off of it and put pages for my Perl modules there. I really should get around to creating a real index.html one of these days...)

# amazon () [/tech]

Two Oxymorons, Together for the First Time! 2003.07.16.00:44

Microsoft Security meets Homeland Security

Egads, how long before some script kiddie from outside the U.S. "owns" the HS network? And I shudder to think what people within the country could do...

# [/tech]

Robertson to God: "Smite these heathen justices" 2003.07.15.23:48

(I puzzled over whether to put this in my general politics section, or the GLBT sub-section, since the issue at hand is the recent Texas anti-sodomy ruling. In the end, I decided this is a good time to make a religion sub-section. I anticipate what will likely be a growing need for it over the upcoming election year.)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (AP) – Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson urged his nationwide audience Monday to pray for God to remove three justices from the Supreme Court so they could be replaced by conservatives.

I'd laugh hysterically, if the underlying ambition of this were not so terribly frightening. Don't get me wrong here– I don't think his call for prayer will make one whit of difference. It's the audacity and affront that he shows that angers me so much. On the other hand, he'd best be careful in how he words the prayers: conservative William Rehnquist is considered the most likely to retire of the current nine.

On the plus side, it's worth visiting the link just to check out the picture of Robertson they have. I can't tell if he's praying or prairie-dogging.

# [/politics/religion]

Good-bye, Portland 2003.07.13.01:18

About 20 minutes before my flight back to San Jose starts to board. Six days in Portland, and I pretty much enjoyed myself the whole time. People are generally nice here. There's no sales tax (but the locals pay for it in higher income and property taxes). On the down side, they don't have the same laws we have in California regarding smoking indoors, so many of the restaurants I went to were smoky. The club I went to on Tuesday was almost completely full of smoke (but the music was worth it). All in all, a nice place. A place I could live, if I were dead-set on leaving the bay area, and were not interested in returning to Denver for some reason. (For the record, I'm in no hurry to leave the bay area, and if I were to do so, I'd most likely return to Denver where I still have a handful of friends.)

I'm sure there was a lot more to the city than I saw in my limited exploration of downtown. Being near the river was good and bad– there was the occassional "river smell" that crept up to the hotel, like dead fish or something. I should have taken one of the boat-tours, but I was too busy with geeky stuff.

Today, I went along with gnat and his brood to the Portland Saturday Market, which is a kind of combo farmers' market/crafts fair sort of event, that runs each and every weekend. Lots of booths. Clothes, wood crafts, stone crafts, calligraphy, face-painting, etc. Naturally, tons of pro-pot stuff. You can always find tons of pro-pot T-shirts, rings, etc. at these things. Some booths even had pipes and bongs. I do wonder sometimes, what I missed by never trying pot. But I never wonder enough to actually care enough to take that first taste. I did get a couple of clearance-priced granite octagon-shaped coasters. They're the right width and thickness to use as bases for my figurines, and they were only about $5 each, what I usually pay for polished and stained wooden bases. After the market, rested a bit in the hotel lobby and now I'm here at the gate. Boarding should start within the next 10 minutes or so.

So, good-bye for now, Portland. I'm told that OSCON will be back there in 2004, so I'm sure I'll have at least as much fun (if not more) the second time around.

# [/thoughts/travel]

Now Just a Minute Here... 2003.07.12.08:31

So I'm sitting here in my hotel room, channel surfing. I come across Star Wars: Episode II just as the big arena battle is starting. So I watch it for a while, because this is a big, flashy battle (and because the Jedi chicks are hot). And since I've watched the battle, I keep it on long enough to watch Yoda throw down against Dooku (what an unfortunate name).

Then something occurs to me. Maybe I thought of this before and promptly forgot it before taking note. Maybe I only just now noticed it. But when Yoda is fighting Dooku in that hanger, and the real point here is to keep him from escaping, why didn't Yoda throw any of the miscellaneous junk he was deflecting at the ship itself? I mean, Dooku throws several metal objects, then some rocks from the ceiling, and finally a fucking electrical column around, and Yoda deflects it all. Ship sitting right there, he throws it all onto the ground. I know, I know, we're all looking forward to the real fight, the sword duel in which Yoda goes all over Dooku like a crack-fueled bumblebee. For a second, I thought maybe they were in a different room from the ship, but during the sword-fight, Yoda bounces off the ship.

If you'd taken out the ship, Dooku wouldn't have gotten very far, now would he?

(No, I'm not pretending this is the only flaw in this steaming pile of a film, but I felt like sharing my observations.)

# [/entertainment/movies]

Being a Fan-Boy at the Con 2003.07.10.21:28

Wil Wheaton was here at the show signing copies of his book, Dancing Barefoot: five short but true stories about life in the so-called space age (yes, it's a lengthy sub-title, but I wanted to include it all, and the capitalization is exactly as they've titled it for publication).

Me 'n Wil So what can I say? I'm a fan-boy for celebrity in general, but WW is actually a pretty sharp cookie. He does his own weblog, and he's in the process of teaching himself Perl by means of some of the O'Reilly books. And as the saying goes, he just looked so normal in person! Seriously, we chatted for a few minutes as I took a copy of the book for him to sign, and I went away pretty jazzed for having met him. Pretty decent guy. I could definately see going through a few pints over talk of technology.

I promised that I'd send him a copy of my book if/when he wanted to give web services programming a spin.

# amazon (and on) [/entertainment/tv]

Portland, OR 2003.07.10.19:24

This is a pretty nifty little place, I must admit. The weather has been very kind to us so far this week. The hotel overlooks the Willamette River (pronounced wi-LAMB-it, according to locals), which makes for a nice view. I had a river-view from my room when I arrived, but I only had a regular-sized bed. Getting a king-size meant trading my view of the river for a view of the parking lot.

I haven't wandered nearly as much as I usually do, spending more time indoors in conversations with various personalities. Found a nice pub/restaurant last night, that had Guiness on draught. Night before that, I went to a local club called Ohm for some house and electronica. I was sent with a purpose: to hear a local live act called Dahlia. And a grand recommendation it was, too. They were amazing, and I hope to see them hit the bay area if/when they tour.

Not a lot to do today at the con, except for my talk this afternoon, of course. Tonight's plans have yet to be made.

# [/thoughts/travel]

How About That... 2003.07.08.06:55

Here on the 4th floor of the Marriott Downtown in Portland, someone is configured for re-broadcast of wireless connectivity...

# [/tech]

Soundtrack to 28 Days Later 2003.07.07.03:14

(I promise not to cajole you about seeing the movie in this entry.)

cover One of the things that really stuck with me long after seeing this movie was the music it featured. Most of it is very soft and menacing, staying in the background only to leap out for a few bars (or even just a few notes) at a time, before dropping back to the shadows again. The acapella hymn sung at an early point in the movie is just as haunting without the imagery it accompanies. Maybe because everytime I hear it, I remember what was going on at that point. The tracks "AM 180" and "Season Song" should be making the rounds of radio stations by now, but they haven't caught on. I won't be at all surprised if/when they do.

The U.S. release of the S/T features some club mixes of a couple of the tracks, as well as some data tracks for PC users. Haven't checked out the latter, but the dance tracks are a nice touch. But they don't dredge up memories like the original versions do.

Highly recommended.

(OK, I lied. If you haven't seen the film yet, do so.)

# amazon () [/entertainment/music]

7:46 And Counting... I Hope A Special Someone Reads This 2003.07.07.02:56

It now appears that my flight should leave SJC at or about 8:36. I've moved from the general terminal area to the secured area near my gate. Trying to find a place where I can plug in my laptop (so as to not drain the battery if I don't have to), I walked over to a designed "Business Operation Center" in this gate-area. Basically, it's a groups of partitioned desks with power outlets in range of one of the wireless hotpoints. But one desk is occupied by a guy reading a book, and two of the desks are enveloped by a three-woman chit-chat session, which has also consumed the chair of a third desk. So I asked if they knew what had happened to the chair, trying to be non-aggressive about it. Hoping that they might take the hint that someone might actually want to use the desks for work. One woman said, "Yes, I have it. We're just having a little talk together."

Hey, here's a thought: move to the chairs where everyone else is sitting. You know, the chairs that aren't part of the BUSINESS CENTER, where the absence of power outlets won't bother you in the least.

Best part: One of the others says to the one I spoke with, "I guess he just felt he needed to say something, to express himself." Yes. That is it exactly. I was expressing the fact that you are all inconsiderate gits who could have made a simple move and shown some basic consideration. If I were truly as rude as you were implying, I'd have outright asked you to move, instead of simply saying that what I wanted the chair for was not that important.

OK, I suppose the long day I've been through is starting to get to me... but I do hope that through some weird quirk of fate, she reads this.

# [/misc]

And If I Am Lying, May Lightning Strike Me D– AAAHHHH! 2003.07.07.01:56
# [/funny]

Props to Wayport 2003.07.07.01:11

I'm stuck at San Jose (California) airport due to a 3-4 hour delay in my flight to Portland. But all is not lost, as Intel and Wayport have conspired to tempt away my money a fair $6.95 at a pop. That's the cost for one days' connection through the WiFi network they have around the terminal here. Sure, it's not what you would call cheap. But I have nearly two more hours to wait before boarding begins, and even if I could sneak away for a movie, it would cost me more than $6.95. This gets me IMAP, ssh, and most importantly, pr0n. And it seems to be a good, clean and fast signal.

# [/tech]

Brief Intermission 2003.07.06.17:49

Back from a few days in Oklahoma, and about to head out to Portland (Oregon) for the Open Source Convention. I'll have actual internet connectivity there, so regular journal updates will resume, featuring not only news from the con but many wry observations from Oklahoma...

# [/misc]

Movie Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0181852">Terminator 3</a> 2003.07.02.07:42

Can you hear that distant bleating sound? That soft but distinct, "baa baa" of a consumer sheep? Yep, it's just me...

What I should have been doing this evening is laundry and packing for my flight to Oklahoma tomorrow. Instead, I noticed on my way home that the theater near my apartment was showing T3 at 10:15. So after a quick dinner, out I went.

Yeah, I should have stayed home.

This is pure sequel-formula. The number of explosions have been increased by the proper percentage. Ditto the visual effects. As with T2, the focus is on John Connor rather than Sarah (absent in this installment). In place of Linda Hamilton, we have Claire Danes. Mind, to my consideration this definately counts as trading up, especially since she's back to her (natural?) red hair and acting more like Angela in My So-Called Life than Julie in Mod Squad. Alas, there is very little truly original material here. The biggest difference is that John Connor is no longer the surly, brooding Edward Furlong. Rather, he's the mixed-up, paranoid and fairly unhinged Nick Stahl. And he's a lot less enthusiastic about seeing Arnold than the rest of the audience is.

There's not a lot to say about the plot without giving it away. Yes, it's about that thin– if I say much at all, I risk giving parts away. The new face in the cast is the T-X, played by Kristanna Loken. She might be a capable actor; playing a machine is no way to tell. She does at least emote a few times, but that might actually not be the way to play a soulless killing machine. But she's very easy on the eyes, at least. And as the T-X, all the best visual effects center around her. The T-X isn't completely liquid metal like the T-1000 was (guess they decided the lack of moving-parts ability was too much of a handicap), but she has her moments. And her very feline-like endo-skeleton is almost as sexy as she is.

I'm a sheep, and I saw it for full price. You'll regret it a lot less if you pay a matinee price.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Mmm... Caskets 2003.07.01.00:23


I am so completely shocked... at the prices. I couldn't afford any of this for my own home, no matter how tasty it looks. I especially like the display cabinet, the Vlada.

# [/funny]

My Birthday Says This About Me... 2003.06.30.22:06


Beautiful but full of melancholy
very empathic
loves anything beautiful and tasteful
loves to travel
can be influenced but is not easy to live with
good intuition
suffers in love but finds sometimes an anchoring partner.
# [/funny]

Making Iraq Safe From Democracy 2003.06.29.23:15

Yes, I said safe from, not safe for. The following story is at the Washington Post Online, which likes you to register. If you don't already have an account, use the username/password "freethepresses" (same word for both username and password):

SAMARRA, Iraq – U.S. military commanders have ordered a halt to local elections and self-rule in provincial cities and towns across Iraq, choosing instead to install their own handpicked mayors and administrators, many of whom are former Iraqi military leaders.


"They give us a general," said Bahith Sattar, a biology teacher and tribal leader in Samarra who was a candidate for mayor until that election was canceled last week. "What does that tell you, eh? First of all, an Iraqi general? They lost the last three wars! They're not even good generals. And they know nothing about running a city."

I know that there will be those who would comment that we have to first ensure that things are running again, without the risk of Saddam loyalists and Baath party members re-establishing a hold on local power. But this just doesn't strike me as the way to do it. We've claimed from the outset that the people of Iraq truly wanted our help in getting rid of Saddam and his regime, but now we aren't interested in giving them a voice in replacing him. And military officers? Generals, no less? How certain can we be that they opposed Saddam, versus telling our reps just what they want to hear, in exchange for being given seats of power?

# [/politics]

28 Days Correction 2003.06.29.07:30

The stickers I got at the midnight showing of 28 Days Later... actually read, "The end is extremely fucking nigh," not "really fucking nigh." Oddly enough, I find the difference in wording very significant. Something about the usage of "extremely" just works in that context. And no, I'm not giving the second sticker away. Not without hefty favors in return, at least...

Something else about the movie– more about the setting. Since this was a midnight showing, sponsored and promoted by a college radio station, it wasn't just sold out, it was packed with mostly college-age types. Which made for a fairly rowdy time before the movie started. One thing I nearly choked at, during the previews, was this: the preview was for The Eye, a new horror film from Hong Kong. Which looks really good, by the way. I plan to see it when I can. Anyway, the trailer opened with a voice-over of the phrase, "The sensation that's sweeping Asia." To this, someone in the audience shouted, "Oh no! SARS!" We pretty much missed the first third or so of the preview itself.

But despite the trend set in the time right before the movie and during the previews, the audience was pretty rapt throughout the movie. It really grabs you and holds your attention. Have I admonished you yet about the need to see this film?

# [/entertainment/movies]

More new TV: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0348913">Dead Like Me</a> 2003.06.28.10:18

I'm kind of a sucker for anything with a dark or death-related theme. And with a cast that includes Mandy Patinkin and Rebecca Gayheart, I couldn't let myself miss it.

The premiere episode sets up the main character, George (short for Georgia, played by Ellen Muth), a listless 18-year-old who has no idea what she wants to do with her life. After pissing off a placement worker at a temp agency, she gets a crappy filing-clerk job. Returning from lunch on her first day, she's struck and killed by a falling piece of the Mir space-station (I won't say what type of piece, it's better to see it yourself). Much to her surprise (and dismay), she isn't headed for Heaven. Nor Hell, it would seem. Instead, she's chosen to join a group of "grim reapers" under the management of Patinkin. Once she's filled her quota of retrieved souls, she'll be allowed to move on. They're responsible for grabbing the souls of people about to die violent deaths (preferably moments before the fact, to lessen the shock to the soul), and none of them know what their quota is, only that when they reach it they can finally move on.

The first episode was not as strong as the starter for Out of Order, but it is funny. Jasmine Guy adds a little sullenness (but a humorous sullennous) in a supporting role, as do several others. Some of the developments are pretty easy to see coming, but some parts are still fresh. And it has the obligatory return-to-the-family bits, that were handled a lot better than many directors would have. Definately worth watching the next few episodes to see how it goes. The previews for the second episode look much more promising.

This is another Showtime original series, so look for it there.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Movie Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0289043">28 Days Later...</a> 2003.06.28.09:59

This movie kicks the asses of mankind.

I'd been hearing buzz about this for months (it was out in Britain back in October), though the title threw me at first– "28 Days Later" sounds like a sequel to a bland Sandra Bullock vehicle. But it isn't; it's a horror film from the same directory who did two of my favorite films, Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. And then there was the buzz...

I don't know how best to describe the film... equal parts 12 Monkeys, Blair Witch Project and Resident Evil. Of those, I'd only really recommend "12 Monkeys" to a friend. But this film works. It's suspenseful, it's scary and it gets under your skin. It isn't heavy on visual special effects, but it really needs to be seen in the theater to appreciate all the imagery on the screen at once.

The thumbnail overview is this– animal-rights activists break into a lab in Cambridge to free test monkeys. Only, the monkeys are infected with a highly-contagious pathogen that turns the infected into a bile-spewing, mindless, rage-filled killer within minutes. After the chaos, noise and blood of the lab scene, the screen suddenly cuts to black and displays the words, "28 days later...". We're shown a hospital room where a man wakes up to find the hospital, and the whole of London, deserted. After wandering the streets, he sees newspaper headlines and posted notices about evacuations and missing persons. Finally, he finds two other people who explain what has happened to the entirety of England in the last 4 weeks.

See this film. This is everything Blair Witch tried to hype itself as, but failed. It is more original than the Summer of Sequels we're currently in. And I can (almost) promise that you'll jump at least once or twice.

(I happened upon a midnight showing here in Campbell, that was apparently sponsored by KSCU, the campus-run radio station for Santa Clara University. 28 was the kick-off of a summer midnight-movie series they're running which will include a lot more great movies. They did some trivia-questions for prizes before the movie, and handed out cool stickers afterwards, with the catch-phrase "The end is really fucking nigh." I got two, but I'm still deciding where to put them.)

# [/entertainment/movies]

Lawrence and Garner v. Texas 2003.06.27.06:49

As numerous sources and friends have pointed out, today the Supreme Court of the United States handed down their ruling in the Texas sodomy law case, Lawrence and Garner v. Texas:

The Supreme Court Thursday struck down a Texas state law banning private consensual sex between adults of the same sex in a decision gay rights groups hailed as historic.


"This is going to carve out protection for private sexual behavior," Hassel said. "As long as it's between consenting adults, this ruling would appear to cover it."

There is some additional legal analysis, and of course Justice Antonin Scalia is outraged. (Note that he also refers to Roe v. Wade, and alludes to the fact that he does not feel that there is any Constitutional basis for privacy.)

This is drawing much attention from many directions.

# [/politics/glbt]

OoO: Fourth Episode Perspective 2003.06.24.09:09

They haven't introduced any characters that look more like you and me. The show is still populated by the pretty, as I noted in my initial take. But they took on the whole show-about-a-show shtick that I wasn't too keen on, and made it work. The characters have all become very likable, and you feel a kind of sympathy to see them making mistakes simply because they don't have the perspective of the whole scene that you do. Eric Stoltz just seems to be better and better with each episode, and Felicty Huffman's character has developed a lot more than I would have thought.

The next episode up is supposed to be the season finale. I guess that they've made six hours' worth of programming for the first testing of the market for it; the first episode was two hours long, so while the one I just saw was the fourth airing, I guess next week will mean six hours overall. I wish they'd have shown more faith in the show and given us a bigger bite to start out with, but I'll be just as happy if they bring us a second season relatively soon-ish.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Monk is Back 2003.06.24.08:40

I really like USA's Monk. Unfortunately, because of the time it usually airs, I keep forgetting to either watch it or at least tape it (insert your favorite pro-TiVo argument here– I don't watch enough TV weekly or monthly to justify the cost). What I did see of the first season I really enjoyed, and apparently I'm not alone. The series has been a big hit with viewers, and (for a while at least, maybe still?) in an unprecedented move it was picked up for re-airing by ABC (the first time a "major" network has asked to re-syndicate a basic-cable show).

So anyway, it's back for its second season. Same cast, same set-up. New theme by Randy Newman (very catchy, and the lyrics are hilarious if you pay close attention). It also has a little better budget, so they get things like name-stars (Andrew McCarthy in the season-opener, though I suppose there are arguments as to whether he qualifies anymore). The writing is still sharp, and the jokes are still (mostly) subtle. I nearly did a spit-take when, during a chess game, Monk's assistant licked her queen before making a risky move (knowing that he couldn't bear to touch the queen in order to take it). And it goes without saying that when he stands in as a substitute teacher, the students have a field day with him.

So, if you haven't watched it yet, give it a look. This is some funny stuff.

# [/entertainment/tv]

The Story of the Break-Ins 2003.06.23.03:26

(For those I haven't had the chance to tell, or those I told the story to this weekend at the party who might have missed parts due to noise and/or distraction, here's the scoop...)

First, some set-up material. One of the symptoms of my "mental issues" is being borderline-OCD, making me very prone to a "packrat" mentality while at the same time generally being very aware of where things are, how they are arranged, etc. Additionally, in my apartment there is only one room that remains closed off– this is the room I keep my modeling kits and materials in, so that I can keep my cats from getting into them and getting fur all over the place, and so on. Very touchy about that room in particular, and the rest of my stuff in general.

So Wednesday I get home from work pretty late, and the first thing I notice is that the door to my modeling room is open. En route to check this out, I also note that a small stack of CDs sitting by the foot of my computer desk are knocked over (these being CDs awaiting their turn through the ripper). After closing the door, I happened to look in the main bedroom (where I actually sleep). I had written off the open door as my having not pulled it completely shut the last time I was in there, and the heat must have popped it open. But there on my bed was a magazine that I knew had not been on the bed when I left that morning.


# [/misc]

A Lovely Party 2003.06.23.00:18

Went to a really great party this weekend, a house-warming for a quad of friends who just got a place in San Francisco. I was only at the party for about 1/4 to 1/3 of the total party time (it spanned from 4 on Friday to 4 this afternoon, but I had other things I had to get done this weekend). But the party was great, the food was great, and most of all, the people there were fantastic.

I so want to have a reliable circle of friends like this. It's not just that the people themselves are so very affectionate and caring towards each other, it's more of an overall sensory effect created by the combination of inputs: they care, ergo they are not afraid to show it; they show their affection (and outright love/attraction) openly, and thus a sense of closeness and bonding is apparent from all angles; the sense of bonding readily welcomes new people on the belief that if someone invited them or brought them as a guest, then known or unknown they are probably a good, likable person. As a result of that, even a shy introvert like myself left feeling very warm and appreciated, and I can say I made some great new acquaintances that (if fortune should favor) may blossom into new friendships.

At the same time, I felt some jealous pangs, because my shyness does keep me on the outside more than I want to be. I still feel like I'm trying to catch up, to make up for time lost when I was deeply denying my own true nature and feelings. So seeing these four people who have achieved the kind of household I dream of, I can't help being a little envyous of them for their happiness. On the plus side, it also shows me that it can and does happen. To ordinary people, just like me. And that beats sitting at home thinking that there is no hope for ever seeing people achieve such goals.

(On the other hand, I am insanely jealous of the house itself. It is almost exactly the kind of floorplan and layout I am hoping to find when I start looking to buy next month.)

# [/thoughts/rships]

Orrin Hatch: Software Pirate? 2003.06.20.23:56
# [/tech]

(I Look Just Like) Buddy Hobbit 2003.06.19.04:10

A thread on one of my Perl-related mailing lists (of all things) gave me this ge(r)m, which I now share with thee, my good readers. May it haunt you as well. Credit (and blame) goes to Chris Devers on the london.pm mailing list:

(To the tune of "Buddy Holly" by Weezer, in case you couldn't already tell.)

    What's with these Ringwraiths, dissing my Shire?
    Why do they gotta front?
    What did we ever do to these guys
    That made them so violent?
    My-pre-cious, but you know I'm yours
    My-pre-cious, and I know you're mine
    My-pre-cious, and that's for all time

    Oo-ee-oo I look just like Bilbo Hobbit
    Oh-oh, and you're Galadriel
    I don't care what they say about this stupid ring
    I don't care bout that

    Don't you ever fear, I'm always near
    I know that you need help
    Your tongue is twisted, your eyes are slit
    You need Gandalf the Grey
    My-pre-cious, but you know I'm yours
    My-pre-cious, and I know you're mine
    My-pre-cious, and that's for all time

    Oo-ee-oo I look just like Bilbo Hobbit
    Oh-oh, and you're Galadriel
    I don't care what they say about this stupid ring
    I don't care bout that
    I don't care bout that

    Bang, bang a knock on the door
    Another big bang and you're down on the floor
    Oh no! How do we feel?
    Don't look now but I missed my meal
    I can't run and I can't kick
    What's a matter Bor' are you feeling sick?
    what's a matter, what's a matter, what's a matter you?
    What's a matter Bor', are you feeling blue? oh-oh!
    And that's for all time
    And that's for all time

    Oo-ee-oo I look just like Bilbo Hobbit
    Oh-oh, and you're Galadriel
    I don't care what they say about this stupid ring
    I don't care bout that
    I don't care bout that
    I don't care bout that
    I don't care bout that
# [/funny]

War poll uncovers fact gap 2003.06.18.01:04

A third of the American public believes U.S. forces have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to a recent poll. Twenty-two percent said Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons.

I have a theory about what the far-right's plans might be for the next few election cycles. I'm not ready to post it, but the above would fit perfectly into it, were there any indication that there was intentional mis-information of the public taking place. But again, I've always believed that one should not be so quick to attribute to malice that which may be more easily explained by stupidity. Especially when the mass-media-consuming public are involved.

# [/politics]

Hatch On Illegal Music Traders: 'Destroy Their Computers' 2003.06.18.00:58

A powerful U.S. senator says he favors an online seek-and-destroy assault on computers that contain music illegally downloaded from the Internet.

Umm, yeah. Linux users around the world are probably thinking the same thing I am: "Bring that shit on, bee-yatch."

# [/tech]

Children Find Baby Sitter Dead in Bathroom, Show Body to Friends 2003.06.18.00:53
# [/twisted]

SCO: Coming to a Co-Lo Near You 2003.06.17.06:58

(Brought to my attention by way of Ditherati. The news.com.com site still crashes my Mozilla, as well as Galeon, but I was able to read the full story with Konqueror.)

SCO said that the termination of the AIX license means that all IBM Unix customers also have no license to use the software. "This termination not only applies to new business by IBM, but also existing copies of AIX that are installed at all customer sites. All of it has to be destroyed," Sontag said.

(The person quoted above is Chris Sontag, representing SCO.)

For those who haven't been following the story, SCO has filed suit against IBM, claiming that IBM allowed copyrighted UNIX source code to migrate into the Linux source base. SCO also wants licensing fees from all Linux distributors.

Last week, SCO gave IBM an ultimatum. In response, IBM essentially gave SCO the finger. Today, SCO yanked IBM's license, and in response IBM is effectively giving them the finger again.

# [/tech]

U.S. Warns AIDS Group on Funding 2003.06.16.23:16

The San Francisco organization, STOP AIDS, has been given what is effectively a cease-and-desist order:

The Bush administration yesterday ordered a San Francisco AIDS prevention group to immediately halt a handful of explicit programs that "appear to encourage or promote sexual activity" or risk losing as much as $500,000 a year in federal grants.


After a two-day site review last year, CDC investigators concluded that the "design and delivery of STOP AIDS prevention activities was based on current accepted behavioral science theories in the area of health promotion," Gerberding wrote in February.

Note that the Post asks for some small boon of demographic information before letting you view their stories.

Shortly after that second quote, the article indicates that CDC Director Julie L. Gerberding (referred to above) had decided that the local review process was no longer sufficient and that she was planning on changing it.

This begs the question of what does warrant funding– abstinence-only programs? Do they think that will be at all effective in stopping the spread of HIV?

# [/politics/glbt]

DOJ/Pride Follow-Up 2003.06.15.15:39

According to this article, the DOJ has partially back-pedalled and will allow the DOJ Pride group to have their annual pride celebration. Provided they pay for the use of the facilities. The claim is that they never meant to exclude the group, only that the event would no longer be sponsored. Some people quoted in the article dispute this, but the article doesn't go into delicate-enough detail to say for certain. At least they get to have their event.

# [/politics/glbt]

B.D. Wong 2003.06.15.15:28

This is an excellent, very touching interview/story:

B.D. Wong's real-life journey to becoming a gay father

And yet, silly goose that I am, all I could think, was, "Wow! B.D. Wong is gay?"

The first thing I saw him in was Jurassic Park, playing a pretty typical Asian actor role– scientist. The first thing I saw him in that made me think he was actually a pretty talented actor was the (sadly) short-lived Margaret Cho vehicle, All-American Girl. Again, a "model-minority" role (a doctor), but in the context of a comedy, where he was able to play up those mannerisms and poke at the stereotypes.

But the role I've seen that I really respected him for was in the HBO series, Oz, where he played the prison chaplain. Dealing not only with unrepentant inmates, but with prison politics, religious intolerance, and the weight of having so many other people's problems, with no one to go to with his own. He's done tons more than this, of course, but I don't watch a lot of TV, so this is what has grabbed me the most.

He's just published a book about the struggles he and his partner of 15 years had in becoming parents. The interview/story is well worth a read.

# [/thoughts/glbt]

Movie Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0317740">The Italian Job</a> 2003.06.15.07:01

I kinda went into this movie not expecting much. I think that most of the cast are prety good actors, and especially like Charlize Theron, Seth Green and Jason Statham. I even have to grudgingly admit that Mark "Marky-Mark" Wahlberg has grown into a pretty skilled actor as well. I also admit that I've never seen the original (though I will probably rent it soon, for comparison). So I didn't have to worry about my expectations not being met.

It's a fun movie, with plenty of laughs. For a caper film involving hardened criminals, there's surprisingly little blood in it (we only see two deaths in the entire film, and Wahlberg's character is celebrated at one point for pulling off a heist without anyone having to point a gun at anyone else). Even though stories have abounded about Edward Norton playing his role strictly due to contractual obligation, he is still a good actor and does a good role as the slimy villian. Theron actually has the harder part, needing to cover a wider range of emotions than anyone else.

Overall, this is a good matinee movie. I saw it in the evening out of boredom, but I wouldn't recommend paying full price for it. There's a funny cameo by Napster "celebrity" Shawn Fanning (and an extra in-joke in the form of a Metallica poster in the background of the Napster flash-back), and more than enough car-chases and action to satisfy most people. It's not really a clever movie, but it's a good escape for a few hours.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Worse Than Spam 2003.06.12.07:59

For several months now, I've been getting an increasing number of bounce notifications, mostly from mailer-daemons in the ru (Russia) TLD. This annoys me even more than spam itself does. These are reaching me because spammers are sending out messages whose forged "From" headers point to my main Perl-related domain, blackperl.com.

I don't like spam, but I can filter a reasonable chunk of it and ignore the rest. But this feels even more offensive, somehow. It's actually easier to filter for (though I only just now got around to configuring that), but I can't help feeling that much more offended that my domain is being tarnished by these spammers.

Not that I can do anything about it, of course.

# [/tech]

Now <i>These</i> Are Small Robots 2003.06.11.23:11

It's small enough to "turn on a dime and park on a nickel," or so say the inventors of a 1cm-tall machine that lays claim to being the world's smallest robot. Make that the smallest man-made robot, for the device developed by the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., would be a Gulliver in the world of the Lilliputian "machines" operating inside living cells.

(Appropriated from Warren Ellis' blog.)

# [/tech]

Special-Effects Whiz Gets Hollywood Star 2003.06.11.23:00

Ray Harryhausen, the stop-motion animation master who created legions of movie monsters and aliens, now has earthly evidence of his achievements: a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I honestly cannot think of a more deserving icon of visual effects. Congratulations are due, and I plan on finding and photographing the star the next time I go down to SoCal.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Woody Allen Becomes Pitch Man for France 2003.06.11.22:32

Film director Woody Allen, known for his fierce devotion to New York, is working as a pitch man for France, urging Americans to eat french fries, to French kiss and travel to the European nation.

Ummm, the French do understand that most of us here don't take him seriously anymore, right? That he's more of a joke punch-line that even they are? And really, the last thing I want to see or hear is a man who married his pseudo-stepdaughter encouraging the rest of us to French kiss.

# [/entertainment]

Baboon Eats Baby 2003.06.11.10:19

(And herein introduces a new topic group, for twisted shit that I probably shouldn't be propagating to other eyes.)

Serious "ick" factor ahead at the link:

Baboon eats baby in front of mom

(Only click if you really want to read more)


# [/twisted]

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000002RN9/rjrayorg-20">Respighi - Ancient Aires and Dances</a> 2003.06.10.10:44

[cover] I'm more than a little behind in my original pledge, even despite my burst of resolve a few months ago. So let me now return to this effort with a collection of light four-movement suites from the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi.

I picked this up a few months ago, in a sort of mourning state. I had been looking for this excellent CD I had, that featured Respighi's "Pines of Rome", "Fountains of Rome", and an excellent performance of Moussorsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition". But it seems that the CD was victim to one of the two times my car was broken into. I cannot find it anywhere, even by mail-order. So I happened across this CD while moping around the Respighi section at the storefront I buy most of my classical from (yes, it's a Tower Records, but it has an excellent classical section).

Funny thing is, after the first two or three listens, I wasn't that keen on it, and had decided not to recommend it. But it was "passable enough" to add to my classical play-list of Ogg's (same function as an MP3, no licensing problems) for a while. And as it would happen, it has really grown on me over the last few weeks. I find myself humming along to the principal themes, which not only means I'm enjoying it, but that it's imprinted on my memory as well. So I've decided to recommend this one, after all. It's Respighi, it's Neville Marriner conducting the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, what can I say– I shouldn't have judged it so hastily.

(Not sure if I should call this my "March" selection, or just quietly overlook the three months I've missed...)

# amazon () [/entertainment/music]

Introducing <a href="http://www.nukekiller.net/pollxn">Pollxn</a> 2003.06.10.07:33

pollxn I have now added comments to this journal, by way of the nifty pollxn package. Given my high allergy rate, I couldn't resist the irony.

For now, my pages are still being statically rendered at regular intervals, which means that comment counts on the pages will only update on the half-hour. Clicking the link, though, should bring up the comments themselves in real-time regardless of clock position. As with the other dynamic parts of this site, I will be working on a solution for this. But at least people can comment for the time being, and I can see if people are even reading any of this...

# [/tech]

Sleeping Too Much 2003.06.09.08:28

I'm sleeping too much.

I mean, a lot. Enough to interfere in what I'm trying to actually do with my days. This weekend, I've averaged over 12 hours a day. I slept today until nearly 4 in the afternoon, and I feel tired now. I have to finish my presentation for OSCON by Tuesday. I have all my notes, and I know what order I want things to go in. But I'm too tired all the time, I feel like I'm walking around in a fugue-state.

Think maybe my depression isn't as under control as I would believe it to be. That, or it's the thyroid stuff. I haven't had any medication for that in months. Maybe I need to see my doctor and get that prescription refilled...

# [/thoughts/health]

Static-Clingy 2003.06.09.07:40

I've completed the transition to static rendering for the most part. On the plus side, this should mean much faster response times for readers of the journal (assuming there are any). Unfortunately, not everything fits itself well to this model. The elements that are more volatile are still suffering, and I have to forcibly re-render at regular intervals to make sure that new stories show up and that the calendar/archive remains up-to-date. But I'm still looking at ways to fix those. Things like the lists of books and other web-log links, etc., I have made into SSI links. This was important if only because that represented about 10% (or more) of a given page's content in bytes, and there was no reason to replicate it over the entire archive tree.

I still plan on adding a comments system, as well as restoring the random-nature of the top-of-page quotes and such. But I have other deadlines to process in the immediate-term.

# [/tech]

New TV: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0329476">Out of Order</a> 2003.06.09.07:26

With the passing of 4 of my regular TV shows, I've been wondering if there would be anything new to threaten my productivity. A few contenders on the horizon, and this is one of the first new ones I've seen.

It stars Eric Stoltz, Felicity Huffman and Kim Dickens. Also appearing regularly are William H. Macy and Justine Bateman. Stoltz and Huffman are a husband and wife screenwriting duo, starting to show strain after 16 years of marriage. It's completely and totally soap opera, but I admit I really like it so far, after just the pilot episode.

Everyone is flawed. None are malicious. Huffman's character suffers from depression, but is choosing to self-medicate, and it isn't working. She sees it, but can't quite stop herself. Stoltz tries hard to be supportive even through the worst trials. The other characters drift in and out of this orbit with their own shortcomings and problems. Aside from the usually Hollywood fare where everyone is pretty, the characters all seem very much the sort you would expect to have living next door to you, or passing by in the aisles at the local grocery. Some of the dialog is a little silly, and the narration perspective (Stoltz narrating as though we're the audience for his latest film... get it?) seems fairly overdone. And the very end of the pilot episode is quite hokey.

This all said, I do plan on watching the next few episodes. I think this one could develop into something really interesting.

# [/entertainment/tv]

Movie Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/tiger_redirect?HPBO_1&/Title?0266543">Finding Nemo</a> 2003.06.08.10:28

OK, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a total sucker for Pixar's animations. From the shorts I saw in college, to the amazing Toy Story, I've been hooked. So I went to this knowing I would like it, and of course I did.

It's cute, it's funny, and it has a few in-jokes for us older types in the audience (the big shark in the trailers? Named "Bruce"). The rendering is awe-inspiring. The voice talent is very good, with some surprises in the line-up, such as Geoffrey Rush, Barry Humphries and John Ratzenberger. It's easy to see why this was #1 in the box office last week, and I imagine it will be again this week (though the brain-vacant "2 Fast 2 Furious" might draw enough summer-break teens in to win this weekend, it will fade much faster than Nemo).

My only beef is that they re-did the old Pixar short, Knick Knack. This is shown at the start of the film. In the original, there were two different bikini-clad girls who had, shall we say, pneumatic personalities. Since this is a G-rated kid's flick, they re-rendered it so that the girls were more flat-chested than Christina Ricci in the first Addams Family film. On the one hand I can sort of understand, but I don't really see how the lack of oversize cleavage makes that much difference– the bikinis were the same barely-there strips of cloth. Oh well. Small price to pay.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Shifting Priorities 2003.06.08.10:13

One of the things that kept my "re-launch" from being 100% complete was that I wanted to have static rendering of at least the main page and archive pages. But I have a number of dynamic elements present here, such as the random quote at the top and the calendar on the right column. So I haven't made it a priority yet.

Thanks to one or more crappily-written robots, I'm causing unacceptable load levels on the machine that hosts this domain. So I'm having to move this up in priority. For now, the fix is to prevent search engines from indexing, but I want to allow well-behaved robots like Google's.

So, spin up some old-skool ABBA, and off I go to try and make this work.

(The other element I planned on adding was a comment system based on the pollxn (pronounced "pollen") system. But this puts that into doubt, as well.)

# [/tech]

Politics of Exclusion 2003.06.07.10:29

From a friend's LiveJournal:

US Justice Department forbids Gay Pride event at headquarters


Homosexual employees of the US Department of Justice have been forbidden to hold an annual "Gay Pride" event at the department's headquarters, a gay DoJ employee said Friday.

Attorney General John Ashcroft "will not allow us to hold our annual pride ceremony in the building," said Melissa Schraibman, who works in Justice Department's tax division.


In 2002 Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, the most important DoJ official after Ashcroft, was at the event. Thompson's presence however resulted in sharp criticism from influential conservative groups.


Schraibman said that other groups of DoJ employees – including those belonging to ethnic or special interest groups – continue to use the Department building as a meeting place.

Thank goodness the Bush administration is even-handed, fair and inclusive. I'd hate to see what they would try to get away with if they weren't. I mean it, I'd really hate that.

# [/politics/glbt]

Happy Cows Come From California 2003.06.06.23:23
# [/funny]

Part of the Reason Learning Java Feels Dirty 2003.06.06.07:43

Sun, JBoss Square Off
Sun is considering taking the JBoss Group to court over its use of J2EE terminology.

(Link and byline taken from the Dr. Dobb's Web Site news archive. Be warned that something in the news.com.com page has caused Mozilla on my Linux desktop to crash consistently.)

This is the sort of thing that makes me resistant to Java and Sun in general. Sun would have the (programming) world running Java, but only their Java, under their terms. But we're supposed to support them because they are helping "fight the good fight" against Microsoft's encroaching monopoly efforts. By attempting to create their own monopoly.

# [/tech]

A Pesky Homework Assignment 2003.06.06.07:15

My shrink tasked me with something that should be much easier than it has proven to be. In reaction to my ongoing frustration with relationships, I was asked to make up a list of the things I want in a relationship.

See, while I do suffer most of the complaints that your average Silicon Valley Single Make Geek does (social awkwardness, limited exposure to potential dating partners, etc.), the problem that plagues me the most is that I tend to sabotage my chances before I even get so far as to complain about my lack of chances. I'm a crappy housekeeper (stuff laying everywhere, bathroom a mess), I get phone numbers and then forget to ever call, I talk myself out of even making an effort.

Even this task has proven to be almost beyond me– I spent the first several attempts getting distracted by personal traits, not sure if I should be looking for what I want in a relationship or what I want in a partner. Of course, it was a moot point; I had just as much trouble with either list. And I'm not going to list what I did come up with here, anyway. But it made me wonder how many other people there are out there who are stuck in relationship cycles because they confuse what they want in the relationship with what they want in a partner.

# [/thoughts/rships]

Best Part Is the Gender-Openness 2003.06.04.21:57

Brothel Offers Free Sex to Returning Troops

Here's the subtle-but-sordid part:

The first 50 servicemen and women through the door will receive a sexy knockoff of their military-issued "TA-50" kits of personal hygiene items. Instead of toothbrushes and soap, Hof's kits contain condoms, lubricant, an adult magazine and a certificate for free sex. (Emphasis added.)

And the jewel in in the crown:

Thirteen men and three women in uniform have shown up so far to claim their gifts.

Cue the '70s porno soundtrack! Three uniformed women, yeah baby! Don't ask, don't tell!

# [/funny]

In Praise of the Graphic Novel 2003.06.04.09:07

A number of the books on my favorites list (to the right) are graphic novels. Generally, they're collections of storylines that ran as serial issues in a regular (monthly or bi-monthly) title. Most were recommended by friends, though I managed to stumble across "The Invisibles" on my own.

The graphic novel is a curious beast. When I bought comics on a more frequent basis in high school and college, the format was still very experimental in a lot of ways– there were a few original ideas, and a few collections (in those days the collections were of limited series such as "The Watchmen" and "Batman: the Dark Knight Returns"). Alan Moore's "The Killing Joke" was very much a ground-breaking title; it was a completely new story, not a collected serial. It won pretty much every award it was eligible for, and went into at least 5 printings (the copy I have is from the 5th printing). My last year of college (well, the summer between my junior and senior years) I was even able to take a philosophy course titled, "Philosophy and the Modern Graphic Novel" that looked at how some of the themes explored in these heavy-paper comic books could be traced back to the core philosophical questions. To me, it was a relatively easy "A" for a summer spent (re-)reading a lot of Alan Moore.

Now, when I go to any of the local shops I buy from, I barely look at loose issues anymore. If it's a good title, I can count on it being collected at some point. I may have to wait an extra year or two, but one book is easier to keep track of and store on my shelves than six. Seven half-inch volumes span the full collection of "The Invisibles". I'm getting into Garth Ennis' "Preacher" title these days, and it's infinitely easier when you can get the story in these pre-sized chunks. Enough story to make a really good, gripping evening's read. Enough to leave you ready for more (I'm through the first three volumes, and I'm anxious for my next trip to the store).

Some reviews and recommendations to come. Soonish. In the mean time, if it's Alan Moore, Frank Miller or Garth Ennis, it's probably safe to buy. Neil Gaiman or Warren Ellis, you should already have it anyway. And Kyle Baker. And Judd Winick's comedy material (the Barry Ween and Frumpy the Clown volumes). But I'll get to some specifics later.

# [/entertainment/books/comics]

Gangsta in tha Stra' 2003.06.04.02:03

As I turned the key in the lock of my apartment this evening, two very different vehicles happened to converge on the street behind me. They passed each other, probably oblivious to the strange juxtaposition they had just created.

Vehicle #1 was an ordinary car, driven by an ordinary person, probably a teen. Blasting from the speakers of his sound system was some fairly hard-core rap. (I'm more of a goth/industrial fan with a taste for classical, so I won't pretend to know what it was.) Not overly-loud, about the volume you'd expect from a neighborhood kid in the mid-evening.

Vehicle #2 was the local ice-cream truck, noodling along at a slower pace and trying to lure kids out into the still-somewhat-hot evening. To attract their attention, he was playing that timeless classic, "Turkey in the Straw."

And as it would happen, the tempo and beats of the two sound streams matched up perfectly, creating what may best be described as "Gangsta in tha Straw (Neighborhood Street 2003 Mix)".

# [/funny]

Recent Movies: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Title?0290334">X2</a> and <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Title?0234215">The Matrix Reloaded</a> 2003.06.03.22:11

I think people put way too much expectation into sequels, and as a result they tend to be overly-critical when the movies actually arrive. I've heard a lot of grousing on both of these movies, more so Matrix than X2.

Since this is so long after the release (relatively-speaking), I'm not going to actually bother with reviewing either film. You may or may not have seen them at this point, but my reviews or opinions aren't likely to change your mind.

Rather, I'll share this observation I made in conversation with a friend in Colorado. She liked X2 considerably more than Matrix. She didn't so much dislike Matrix, of course. But she felt that X2 was a better sequel. I thought about it for a bit, and then later that day I called her back. It strikes me that people tended to find the first X-Men somewhat weak in a lot of ways (usually top of the list is the regrettable dialog Halle Berry was saddled with). In contrast, most were simply wowed by the first Matrix film. So, I suspect that people come out of X2, having seen a pretty good film, and when they view it in the perspective of the first film it looks really fantastic. But when they come out of Matrix Reloaded, they're comparing it to an original that was much more highly-regarded than the first X-Men was. So they hold it to that, and as a result many see it as a weaker film than X2.

Personally, I thought they both kicked the asses of men. I've seen Reloaded twice, and will see X2 again soon, probably after seeing Finding Nemo.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Um, Yeah 2003.06.03.05:31

It did cause LJ to spew up the last 15 or so entries. Thank goodness I tuned the configuration of stories down for the RSS feed, or there would be 40 of 'em. Err... sorry.

# [/misc]

Unveiling at 95% Complete 2003.06.03.04:14

I still have one more feature I plan to integrate into the new version of rjray.org, but for now it is clean and purty enough to re-roll-out.

The most significant differences should be pretty much all under the hood; Rael's release-candidate version of blosxom 2.0 was the main goal of the upgrade effort. To this, I have added a host of plug-ins, including a better archive-calendar (low on the right-hand column) and, most importantly, proper Etag and Last-Modified headers. Not only on the web page proper, but also on the RSS feeds.

Which brings up the next change: I have made the default RSS feed a v1.0 feed, and made the older (0.91) feed accessible via a different URL (index.rss91). I hope this improves the overall quality of the syndication at the LiveJournal feed for my journal, rjray_rss.

And lastly, one of the changes I've made is a subtle-but-significant overhaul of how the permanent links are crafted, as well as the location of about 7 of my journal entries. The logic goes a little like this:

First, I had been using a hack in the earlier version of blosxom to make the "permalink" stay the same whether you were reading the story from the main page or from a sub-category. The newer blosxom has a better way to track this, so I'm using that. In addition to that consideration, the XHTML spec disallows the "/" character in an anchor's (that's the <a>) "name" attribute. I use the permalink there as well, for cross-references and in the feeds, etc. So I use a plug-in to translate all the "/" into "_" to keep XHTML validators happy.

But that also exposed a problem in that I name my entries with numbers. That way, I don't have to worry whether the nifty title I just thought of is already the file-name for an entry two months ago. But the 7 or so entries at my top-level ended up with identifiers that were just plain numbers, which also annoyed the XHTML validator. So, I merged them into the "misc" category, for lack of anywhere better to put them.

I am going to assume that all of this sudden change will almost certainly make LiveJournal's syndicator very confused and probably display the last 15 or so stories again. For this, I apologize in advance. I hope that I don't make any more changes on this scale again anytime soon.

# [/misc]

Construction Ahead, Delays Expected 2003.05.30.07:49

Not that I've been very good about updating my journal lately, but I am at present trying to upgrade to the 2.0 track of blosxom. I'm running a fairly old version of blosxom, because I had grafted my own plug-in architecture onto it, and I didn't want to take the time to adapt to the (vastly different) approach that that blosxom author and community have followed. But there are a lot of very nice features in 2.0, so I'm taking the plunge. Getting my test-bed journal to look like my publically-viewable one is taking a while, though.

# [/misc]

Potter Peer Pressure 2003.05.18.22:12

After considerable time spent resisting the Harry Potter craze, I finally decided a while back to give in and read the books. At first, I was intent on only reading each volume after seeing the corresponding movie; I read Philosopher's Stone after seeing the movie (the copies I have are British editions, so it's called that rather than "Sorcerer's Stone"), and likewise with Chamber of Secrets.

But I decided not to wait for the next movie before reading the third book, and I'm very glad for that. The books do in fact get progressively better (as well as progressively longer), and I found myself struggling to put the book down at nights to sleep. I'm into the fourth book now, and at about the 1/3 mark, it's even better than the third was.

So, if you're like I was about this, and have resisted either because you think they are strictly children's books, or you're adverse to fads (which was my reason— I still have avoided seeing Titanic, and waited nearly 10 years before being talked into seeing E.T.), go ahead and pick them up. Read the set in order, just so that you are familiar with the backwards-references. There are some small details not included in the movies, so there will be bits that are new in both of the first two books. Move on to the third book, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how engaging it is.

# [/entertainment/books]

Look, Another Quiz 2003.05.18.09:30


# [/funny]

Never Too Many Quizzes... 2003.05.05.21:55

For today's installment, the Ultimate Purity Test.

Your Ultimate Purity Score Is...
CategoryYour Score Average
I wouldn't shake hands, if I were you
It takes a couple of drinks
Sex Drive 28.9%
I got needs, baby, you gotta unnastan'!
Knows the other body type like a map
Gayness 32.1%
At least one weekend of ecstacy
Fucking Sick61.1%
Dipped into depravity
You are 33.76% pure
Average Score: 65.8%
# [/funny]

But Wait, There's More! 2003.05.02.01:56

Today is officially Loyalty Day. The irony of it being on a day that many Pagans are already celebrating is not lost on me. Many places have May Day off anyway... maybe this means a new federal holiday in the making?

The State Department report on global terrorism for 2002 suggests that while Canada has been helpful in the fight against terrorism, it doesn't spend enough on policing and places too much emphasis on civil liberties.

# [/politics]

Patriot Miss 2003.05.02.01:41

From a friend's LiveJournal:

Patriot Raid

The writer works with Doctors Without Borders, so I'm inclined to give him the benefit of doubt. If anything new comes of this that either supports or debunks the story, I'll update this to reflect it. For now, I'm just pissed.

# [/politics]

It's Not the Heat, It's... Actually, It's the Heat 2003.04.29.23:57

More quiz silliness:

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Seventh Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Extreme
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very High
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)Extreme
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Extreme
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very High

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

# [/funny]

Checking Back In 2003.04.21.23:18

I've been lax of late, both here and at my use.perl.org journal. The main reason is simple and straightforward: I've been (and still am) rather depressed. Not reaching-for-a-razor depressed, so much as why-bother-getting-out-of-bed depressed.

For a long time, I've been trying to figure out why. There are a lot of things that can (and likely do) contribute to the depression, and there are a lot of things that one would assume help to fight off the depression. I've had two projects at work get cancelled out from under me. On the other hand, I'm not being let go– they prefer to move me on to something new rather than get rid of me. I still get dragged down over being single, but I also know that I couldn't bring someone home to my apartment as it currently is. I'm trapped in a cycle where environmental factors like a wrecked apartment contribute to the sense of hopelessness, while that same feeling saps away the energy I need to address problems like the messy home. Of course there are other things at play as well.

Lately, I've come to a point where I'm not really looking for a why anymore, where the depression is concerned. I guess I'm coming to think that it is possible that I can be depressed without a specifically-identifiable external cause. In some ways this is a relief, because it lets me focus more on what I should do to deal with the effects, rather than spinning my wheels looking for causes. But I can't help feeling that I "should" be able to handle things like this for myself. That being affected by this, letting it slow me down to a practical stop, is somehow my fault.

That's the part I'm currently trying to overcome.

# [/thoughts/health]

I've Matured So Much Since College 2003.04.14.21:42

I can't remember if the first version of the Purity Test I ever took was the 400-question or one of the 500-question editions. I do recall that my score was much higher, then:

I scored
on the classic 400 Point Purity Test!
Take the test here!

All that, and there were still a lot of things on the test that I could yet do, but just haven't. Yet.

# [/funny]

Lawsuit Targets Movie Theater Commercials 2003.04.02.21:19

Here: http://www.nomovieads.com/

Commercials before the trailers have been irritating the hell out of me for years, now. When I went to see The Guru in Orange a few weeks ago, the AMC theater I was at showed commercials, but they started them before the posted start time, so that by the "official" time the movie started, you were at the trailers.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Is This Homeland Security? 2003.04.02.06:52

By way of a friend's journal, I bring this:

Effort to free Mike Hawash

I don't pretend to know all the details, but from what I can tell this is the sort of thing the Ashcroft Justice Department swore to Congress that they wouldn't do. Just give us the powers, and we promise not to abuse them. Trust us.

# [/politics]

St. Sigmund, Patron of the Verbal Slip 2003.04.02.02:25

At today's news conference with Rumsfeld, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers started out saying that the U.S. efforts were "proceeding unabetted", then quickly caught himself and corrected to to, "proceeding unabated".

The difference between abet and abate is not at all subtle.

# [/politics]

Ways in Which I Suffer For My Art 2003.04.01.08:39

Last night, I cut a finger on one hand with an X-acto knife while working on my current modeling project. Understand, the X-acto is a really fucking sharp knife, especially when the blade inside it is a fresh-from-the-box #11 blade. It makes a very clean, usually fairly deep cut. The kind that doesn't even hurt for the first few minutes, giving you plenty of time to ponder just how stupid bracing the part with your hand while cutting was, when you have a perfectly good cutting surface right in front of you.

Tonight, while cleaning out my airbrush, I managed to pull open the just-recently-sealed cut. Just in time, no less, for me to get a little bit of laquer paint thinner into the cut.

# [/hobby]

MS Walk 2003 2003.03.28.00:09

I will be walking in the 2003 MS Walk on April 5. Anyone interested in pledging a donation, however small, please contact me privately at rjray@blackperl.com. This is a ten kilometer walk to raise funds for the research into treatment and a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.

My mother's oldest brother suffers from MS, as does a co-worker of mine. My company is sponsoring a team in the walk, which I will be participating with. My personal goal is to raise at least $100 in pledges (a modest goal, but I got into this effort at a later point than most of my co-workers). I would be delighted to reach or exceed that goal.

All pledges or general words of support are greatly appreciated.

# [/misc]

I Dreamed of a Nine-Foot Anarchist 2003.03.27.23:49

I had this dream last week, and it's stayed with me ever since. Tonight, while channel-flipping, I caught part of Monkeybone. (It could have been such a better film, but it does throw some amazing nightmare imagery around.)

So it went a little like this: There were anarchists, quite a few of them. Looking back, it seems like it should have been white supremecists, but I clearly remember it being anarchists. The place was some small, nameless border town. They were armed. At one point, a foreign woman and her children were trying to have a picnic by the river that formed the border between the town and "elsewhere". They were chased of with warning shots. I tried to intervene, that was when I was faced with a nine-foot-tall anarchist.

He was standing over me. I was near-paralyzed with fear. I was defending someone, but I can't remember whom. As is often the case in these sorts of dreams, I was slower and weaker than I usually am. I still don't know what that's supposed to mean— I mean, when I find myself needing to defend myself or others, and suddenly I can barely lift my arms, let alone throw a punch or even run away effectively. But there I am, running, fighting (ineffectually), and all the time trying to protect someone from the nine-foot-tall anarchist.

But I'll be damned if I know what it all meant. I'm certain that they were anarchists; it must have been something that was said, maybe it's just an overwhelming feeling. I also got the impression that they were part of a larger effort to dismantle the goverment. Almost like the weird militias and extreme-rightwing religious zealotry that used to be in the news a lot 5-10 years or so ago.

(For reference, this occurred before the actual fighting started in Iraq, for anyone looking at that possible connection.)

# [/thoughts]

Why I Left Oklahoma, #1 2003.03.24.21:33

"We're just lucky we're nice white kids from Canada."

Canadian rockers detained as potential terrorists while gassing up their tour vans in Oklahoma. Must have been the shifty eyes and flapping heads.

(I had a hard time deciding whether to put this under "funny" or "politics", but I decided on the latter since it's really about the absurdity of our terrorism hysteria.)

# [/politics]

Movie Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0280720">The Guru</a> 2003.03.24.21:09

I saw this last weekend while I was in Orange County. I'm a big fan of Heather Graham, and I figured that with her playing a role described as, "the Meryl Streep of porn actresses", I couldn't go wrong.

Overall, this is a likable romantic comedy. It's not terribly ground-breaking, and it's no My Big Fat Greek Wedding. But you do come to care about the main characters (much more so than you did in Daredevil), as well as many of the others as well. It's rife with ethic jokes about Eastern Indian immigrants, just as Greek Wedding was with regard to Greek immigrants. And naturally, many of the jokes are things that no non-Indian writer could have gotten away with.

In a nutshell, the main character (Ramu) comes to New York from India, hoping to make a career for himself as an actor. The opening is very touching, showing how he develops his love for American cinema by sneaking out of the Indian musicals his family goes to, and into the showing of dubbed American fare such as Grease in adjacent theaters. But when he gets to New York, he finds that the cousin who claimed to be so successful is in fact driving a cab and living in a tenement building with two other Indian men. After getting frustrated with a waiter's job, he goes out for a film audition for a "swarthy, foriegn-looking male", not realizing it's a porno. Shortly after, he ends up posing as a guru for a party, and accidentally becomes an overnight sensation.

Besides the two main stars, there are nice supporting turns by Marisa Tomei and Christine Baranksi, as well as bit parts by Micheal McKean and Dwight Ewell. As much as I enjoyed it, I don't think anything will be lost by waiting for it to hit video and renting it then.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Movie Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0287978">Daredevil</a> 2003.03.24.21:06

First things first: I don't think that this movie sucked. Of course, it could have been better, and it was not as good as Spiderman or X-Men. (I have come to feel that X-Men may be the best live-action adaptation of a comic book thus far.)

Having said that, it's not a great movie. Neither Ben Affleck or Jennifer Garner give you any reason to care about their characters. I thought that the casting of Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin was a genius stroke when I first saw the trailers, but he doesn't really get to do much more than stand there and smoke big cigars (and he doesn't even do that well— couldn't they have arranged for James Gandolfini to take a day or two off from The Sopranos to give him a few lessons on being a crime lord?). Probably the best acting was put forward by Colin Farrell as Bullseye. Which is to say, he had the freedom to be totally over-the-top, and as a result is the only one who really seems to be into what's going on.

Overall, worth seeing at a matinee or a cheap-seats theater, just to get all the action and F/X on the big screen. But you won't lose that much if you wait for it on video.

And one more thing: when you have a great ass-crack of a chin like Ben Affleck does, maybe taking a role that has you put on a half-mask that covers everything from the NOSE UPWARDS, and thereby DRAWING ATTENTION TO THAT GREAT PLUMBER'S FOUL residing below your lower lip, isn't such a great idea. Next time, hold out for the Hulk role.

# [/entertainment/movies]

The Alienist, by Caleb Carr 2003.03.24.10:43

This is no new release, indeed even the paperback edition has been out for years. This was recommended to me before I even moved to California, and it has taken me until now to finally read it. What a shame that is, because this is a first-rate book.

The book takes its title from the name by which early psychologists were known: alienists. The setting is New York City, 1896, and a small group of people have been assembled to try and comprehend a murderer who has struck mulitple times with very similar characteristics. What we automatically recognize now, 100 years later, as a serial killer. But in turn-of-the-century New York, this isn't something anyone has seen before. The closest anyone comes are those familiar with the Whitechapel murders some years earlier in London.

The cast of characters includes Theodore Roosevelt, then Commissioner of Police for the greater NYC, Lazlo Kriesler, an alienist specializing in troubled and abused children, Sara Howard, a secretary to Roosevelt who is desperate to be the first female detective, and the narrator, James Moore, a police-beat reporter for the New York Times who ends up along for the "adventure" due to his friendship with Roosevelt and Kriesler. The supporting characters are numerous and colorful. In fact, the whole of NYC is in a way a supporting character for the story. Carr's understanding of the city and the period are amazing, and his descriptions (both pleasant and not so) really convey a sense of the place. The visuals he evokes are fantastic, even (or especially) when describing the horrors of the poverty and indifference the city suffered under.

The book took me a while to finish because it is rather lengthy, and I was distracted from regular time spent reading early on. Also, it is a little slow to get going in the first third of the book, so it's easy to put it down after only a little bit of reading. But by the middle, it really starts to pick up. And in the final third, your understanding and compassion for all the characters should be such that putting the book away becomes harder and harder. I read before bed to relax and clear my head, but towards the end I kept wanting to turn the light back on and read just one more chapter, just a few more pages.

If you like suspense and/or mysteries, then I believe you would greatly enjoy reading this book. I look forward to reading more from this author. This one goes straight into my "favorites" list.

# [/entertainment/books]

There May Be a Way, but This Ain't It 2003.03.21.02:14

According to NPR reports, as well as Excite's AP feed and the stories at the SanFran Cronicle, protest is especially heavy (and destructive) in San Francisco. This saddens me greatly. I'm very conflicted on how I feel about all of this, which is the main reason I haven't said anything of note on the matter yet.

(Update: According to NPR, over 1,000 have been arrested in SF today, and there are numerous reports of destructive activity ranging from purposely snarling traffic to actual rioting and property damage.)

Whatever you feel about the war, it justice or injustice, here's a hint: This is not getting across the message you think it is. Send me hate-mail if you must. Tell me I'm wrong. But don't expect me to change my opinion without some really compelling evidence. If you really think George W. Bush gives a damn how much damage San Francisco sustains, you haven't been paying attention for the last two years. He didn't carry California, he didn't expect to, and I doubt he expects to in 2004. Even if he thought he could, he isn't dumb enough to think that the majority of SF will vote for him.

If you want his attention, wreck Dallas or Houston.

# [/politics]

Soon to be Revealed: Al Gore Invented the Mac 2003.03.20.00:27
# [/tech]

If You Can't Keep it In Your Pants... 2003.03.20.00:05
# [/funny]

Will There be a "Smothered" Porno Series? 2003.03.19.02:30

On the lighter side of things, to distract from the all the political gunk going on:

Smothers Brother's son is porn star

# [/entertainment]

Timing is Everything 2003.03.19.02:22

Paris: We may help in chemical war


"If the war starts and if (President) Saddam Hussein uses chemical or biological weapons, it would change completely the situation for the French president and for the French government, and President (Jacques) Chirac will have to decide what we will do to help the American troops to confront this new situation."

I respect France for sticking to their convictions through all of this. But if they think that this is a danger, they need to be willing to help before it fucking happens. It'll be a little late after the fact, to be deciding to "help out".

What are you guys doing? Do you want to make more of us Americans despise you?

# [/politics]

Notes for Next OC Jaunt 2003.03.18.23:50

Mostly for my own edification, and so that I can find this info when I next make the drive:

Miles from I-5 and Chapman to apartment: 371

Driving time: 5 hours, 5 minutes (non-stop, one tank of gas)

# [/thoughts/travel]

Driving to Orange County Earlier Today 2003.03.15.09:07

Came down for the annual SCAHMS figurine and nodel show. It took longer to drive this time, because my departure from San Jose meant hitting LA at right about 6:00PM. And that meant experiencing the vast public parking lot normally known as Interstate 5. So, it took me nearly 8 hours, whereas the last time I came solo it took only 5 1/2.

But this time around, whether from a good tailwind or whatever, I made it all the way from my apartment in Campbell to Orange, where I'm staying, on one tank of gas. For all it's other faults and foibles, I do like my Saturn.

# [/thoughts/travel]

Bill Maher's New Show 2003.03.15.08:22

I'm catching most of an episode of Maher's new show on HBO. It seems about on par with any other political commentary show— there's certainly a variety of opinions represented. But aside from allowing the guests to curse, and having an audience that actively boos the panel when they disagree, it doesn't really seem that different from any other show of it's genre.

There's now a stand-up comic who is possibly the least-funny I've ever heard. Maher is so completely under-used here.

# [/entertainment/tv]

299 and Counting 2003.03.13.01:45

Supreme Court Stops 300th Texas Execution

A shame, too, since Texas was due to get a free kichenette set for reaching the 300 mark.

(I actually support capital punishment in certain cases, but it seems like Texas has been awfully eager to execute these last 5-10 years.)

# [/politics]

Political Pettiness 2003.03.13.00:43

House cafeterias change names for 'french' fries and 'french' toast

Do our elected officials really have nothing better to do with their time or energy? And just how petty and snotty is this? This smacks of playground fighting tactics, of people who are too immature to handle the concept of someone feeling and thinking in a different way.

Though the person who emailed me the link made a good point when he asked the hypothetical question, "Will they serve frog's legs?" What about sauerkraut? Or even hot dogs, for that matter? Those foods are actually closer in ethnic relation than french fries or french toast are to France.

Makes me want to order french toast on general principle, diet be damned.

# [/politics]

Remembering Why I Sleep Late 2003.03.11.02:37

In an unusual occurence, I woke up with the alarm this morning. As such, I was on the drive to work by 9:00AM, and getting a fresh, stark reminder of why I don't try very hard to follow a 9-5 schedule. Cut off numerous times by SUVs and/or high-end luxury cars. Massive slow-downs at one point because a couple of neaderthals were on an overpass waving American flags and posterboards with pro-Bush slogans. When I got in, the one co-worker already in the office did a literal double-take at seeing me. When my manager got in an hour or so later, he looked at me, blinked a few times, then checked his watch. Twice.

On the plus side, I'll be out of here within a few more minutes.

# [/thoughts]

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00000I77A/rjrayorg-20">Music Of Silvestre Revueltas</a> 2003.03.05.07:49

cover My musical pick for February (albeit late) is this collection of works by the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas. Although the Amazon page I link to simply calls the CD "Music Of Silvestre Revueltas", the CD is actually titled Sensemaya, which is also the title of the first track. The recording is by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, both under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen.

I learned about this composer one Sunday evening while driving to a friend's for dinner. I was listening to NPR, and the weekly Latino news program Latino USA. Had I left the apartment that evening even five minutes earlier, I'd have arrived before the story about this composer came on. The excerpts they played got my attention. The reporter compared his style to Stravinsky, but I heard what sounded to my ears like a strong Aaron Copeland influence, another of my favorites. I made a note to find any recording I could, to see if I would enjoy full pieces as much as these excerpts.

Like I said, there's (what seems to me to be) a strong Copeland influence at work, and certainly some Stravinsky as well. But the music is very original, very unique in style and flavor. I especially liked tracks 3-6, the 1939 composition Las Noche de los Mayas. There's no track on the CD I don't like, in fact. The title track is probably my next favorite. The three-movement Homenaje a Federico Garcia Lorca is considered one of his most creative works.

Another highly-recommended recording, and with this one I truly met my goal of introducing myself to something completely new, that I hadn't heard of at all before. I hope my March selection is just nearly as good.

# amazon (and on) [/entertainment/music]

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000041AP/rjrayorg-20">The Best Of Saint-Sa&euml;ns</a> 2003.03.05.07:17

For my first musical recommendation, I would like to offer this 2-CD set of works by Camille Saint-Saëns.

Despite a somewhat presumptious title, this recording offers a really amazing range of musical textures. The first disc contains the full Carnival of the Animals suite, as well as my personal favorite piece of his, Danse Macabre. The Danse is a great piece of music to play for any of your more goth friends. The other tracks on disc 1 are three each for the Violin Concerto no. 3 in B (Opus 61) and Piano Concerto no. 2 in G (Opus 22). These are also great works — I've actually never been a big fan of solo violin, but the violin concerto is really gripping.

Disc 2 is no less amazing, with an Intro and Rondo Capriccioso for the first track, that is another violin piece I really enjoyed. There is a rendition of "The Swan" from Carnival as a cello solo, followed by another piano concerto, this time no. 4 in C (Opus 44). The last 4 tracks of disc 2 contain the Symphony no. 3 in C (Opus 78), "Organ". This piece is a great way to finish the collection. The final movement (featuring the organ) is based around a principal theme many people will recognize from a surprise blockbuster movie from 1995.

This is a recording I've had in my collection for almost 4 years. It was stolen about two years ago when my car was broken into and all CDs in the front seat scooped up with the stereo. I was lucky to have found a replacement in short order. I never get tired of either of these two discs.

# amazon () [/entertainment/music]

A Cultural Resolution 2003.03.05.06:36

So, one of the things I had intended to do in 2003 was to spend more time listening to classical music. In fact, my words were to the effect of planning to find a new recording or or composition, or maybe even a new composer or artist, each month.

Well, it's March now. Clearly I'm behind in my quest for a cultural evolution. I suppose I had best be about addressing this.

# [/entertainment/music]

Eric Idle on Iraq 2003.03.04.07:23

On tonight's "Daily Show", Eric Idle being interviewed by Jon Stewart:

"If you want to change the government in Iraq, you should really send in the Supreme Court."

# [/politics]

And Speaking of <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0290334">X-Men 2</a> 2003.03.04.07:17

The trailer really is amazing. The effects on Nightcrawler especially look sweet. Two more entire months seem like a very unreasonable length of time to wait. This installment is also promising hints of Colossus, and more of Kitty Pryde.

# [/entertainment/movies]

Define "Clueless" 2003.03.04.00:54

Two men in their 40's sitting in a movie theater, commenting on how silly and ridiculous the trailer for X-Men 2 looks. The movie they're sitting in, that's about to start?


# [/entertainment/movies]

Dopes on Dope 2003.02.27.23:23

Sure, not all drug-users are this stupid, but it's still funny:

Dope gets suspects in big trouble at cop party

# [/funny]

Headlines #3 2003.02.26.02:28

Both of these appeared on today's AP wire as spooled by Excite, with just one other story separating them:

Which trumps which, the dichotomy or the irony?

# [/misc]

Blimp of DOOM 2003.02.26.02:24

Because it pleases me to share these things with friends:

The horror of blimps.

# [/funny]

Serious Addiction 2003.02.25.03:57

Someone here at work turned me on to Yahoo!'s Text Twist game (requires Java, and despite the disclaimer it does work under Linux at least). I was prepared to say that I only play it occassionally, you know, to clear my head once in a while. That's all.

I had to leave it up in a browser window Friday, because I had to be somewhere else, and I wasn't going to lose potential high-scoring game. I've now stayed nearly an hour past work-time, just to finish the game. But hey, I ended up with a score of 167,830.

I'm not even pretending that I'm not an addict on this one.

# [/entertainment/games]

On Falling off the Wagon and Still Feeling OK 2003.02.24.23:14

This weekend was a major set-back in terms of the diet. Lots of Krispy Kremes were consumed, as well as a noteworthy amount of deep-fried foods. To my detriment, Jack in the Box has added a new sandwich to their menu, a grilled chicken breast in a Chipotle sauce. Yes, the chicken is probably not too bad (fatty levels notwithstanding), but I'm pretty sure that JinB will have found a way to counteract any real nutritious value the sandwich might have otherwise had.

And yet, I can always find something that either outright cheers me up, or at least reassures me that my sins were not as dire as they seem. In this case, the saving grace comes from someone else's blog at use.perl.org:

The Worst Breakfast. Ever.

You must see the nutrition panel from the box-end to truly understand how egregious this product is.

# [/thoughts/health]

Oh, Is That a Hint? 2003.02.16.08:21

I bought some dirt-cheap software for my Windows box off the discount table at a local store. I got the Concise Oxford Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Thesaurus of English and World Encyclopedia (the latter three share a pop-up interface called iFinger).

I installed the COD, and just now when I started it up, it (randomly?) opened up on the definition of repetitive strain injury. Somehow, I doubt that it was random.

# [/funny]

<a href="http://us.imdb.com/Title?0300274">Notorious C.H.O.</a> 2003.02.12.08:24

I've been a huge fan of Margaret Cho since seeing her in 10-minute spots on MTV's old "Half-Hour Comedy Hour" series. This is her second concert film, and it's killing me. Less than half-way through, and I've already damn near hyperventilated twice.

Talented, intelligent and so very, very funny. You can't ask for more than that in a person.

# [/entertainment/movies]

The Source of Some Stress 2003.02.09.00:13

A co-worker of slightly-managerial capacity asked me on Friday how my current project could be made any less stressful. I answered that I needed the following, roughly in order:

  1. One round-trip ticket to CENSORED, same-day preferable.
  2. One aluminum baseball bat.
  3. Address of, and directions to, the offices of CENSORED.
  4. An alibi, or at the very least plausible deniability.

After some thought, said manager pointed out that since we don't have a company softball team it would be difficult to expense the baseball bat.

# [/misc]

That Awkward In-Between Size 2003.02.09.00:05

Like I said, I've been steadily (if slowly) losing weight by watching my diet fairly carefully. As a result of this, my jeans now fall neatly into two categories:

  1. Those I've had six months or more, which are slightly loose-fitting and have a tendency to work their way down if I forget to wear a belt.
  2. Those I've bought within the last three months, which are the next size smaller, and are just a hair too tight around the waist.

I've never been the sort to wear any article of clothing I didn't need, solely for the sake of fashion. So I'm not used to wearing belts on a regular basis, since I hadn't needed them for so long. Even now, I only need a belt for half of my collection of jeans.

Of course, in another month or so, I should fit into the smaller ones more comfortably, and the larger ones will just have to be replaced. Or so I hope it goes.

# [/thoughts/health]

Problematic Porn 2003.02.08.11:46

On the rare occassions that I actually rent porn (which is far more infrequent than you would think, if you were to judge me solely by my often-inappropriate sense of humor), I usually have trouble picking a tape out. It's not that I'm picky, and I'm hardly an expert on the subject. But if I'm in the mood for that, I want there to be something about it that interests me.

And when I get the DVD home and it's scratched beyond playability, I'm in no mood for returning it and going through the selection process again.

# [/entertainment/movies]

MAME'd and Civilized 2003.02.06.09:53

My dearth of writing here lately is due to a lot of factors, but one big factor has been an upsurge in the amount of time I've been playing games. In particular, CivIII and my MAME installation (MAME is on my Linux laptop).

I play a lot more than I'd like to be, just because it feels like wasted time afterwards. I enjoy it at the time, but it's kind of an empty feeling when the game is shut down.

Still, I did just win the Space Race at Regent level in CivIII, playing the new Ottoman tribe from the CivIII expansion pack. That must surely count for something.

# [/entertainment/games]

Diet - The Other Four-Letter Word 2003.02.06.09:40

I'm not especially happy with the way I look, particularly my weight. And my schedule and lifestyle have never really lent themselves to a good regimen of exercise, either natural or at a gym. So for the last year or so, I've been trying to make the changes where I could, in my diet.

I'm not a very good diet-person, if the diet is framed in terms of all the things I can't eat. I've proven that to myself on too many occassions to count. So I've taken the approach of trying to improve what I do eat, instead. Rather than thinking about what isn't allowed, I look for really enticing foods that are allowed. And I permit myself to cheat, without guilt. If I only lose 4 pounds in a month rather than 6, hey, I've still lost 4 pounds.

So it was with this in mind that I went grocery shopping this past Monday. I planned a good meal for that night, heavy on the protein and light on the carbs. I also got the ingredients for an interesting salmon/pasta dish from a new cookbook (more on that in a few). But when I got home, I realized that I had left work so late, and taken enough time looking at nutrition labelling and all at the store, that it was nearly 9:30p, and I was just too damn tired to do all the prep as well as the cooking.

So I threw a frozen pizza in the oven.

In other news, I recently picked up a really interesting cookbook, called The Whole Foods Market Cookbook: A Guide to Natural Foods. It's got me looking not just at vegetarian recipes, but vegan ones as well. I've never thought I could find vegan dishes that held the promise of enough flavor to give up my cherished meat. But I'll be giving some of these a try over the next few weeks.

# amazon () [/thoughts/health]

Pax Bill Mauldin 2003.01.24.00:56
# [/misc]

And Another One Down 2003.01.21.09:44

The Stacey's Bookstore location in Cupertino (California) is closing, another casualty of rising rents, dropping sales and vicious competition from chains. This is the last of the truly independent bookstores in the south bay, the next-nearest being in north Palo Alto (almost to Menlo Park) and Kepler's. I've been told that Book's Inc. has re-opened in Mt. View, but the only other I know of is Digital Guru on Lawrence Expressway, and they're just not that great (to put it kindly).

I've probably spent upwards of $1600 at Stacey's just by myself, in the 5 years I've lived out here. I've only bought two books for myself from Amazon, and those were esoteric military history titles that hardly anyone stocks on shelves, anyway. I haven't bought a book at Barnes and Noble or Border's in about 3 years (though 2 Christmas' ago I got a gift card from Border's, which I did use). I still won't, even with Stacey's gone. But it will be a lot less convenient to casually browse the latest tech volumes, now.

# [/tech]

Interestingly Enough 2003.01.20.21:45

This quiz produced a fairly accurate summary:

Your score is 25
what does that mean?
Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful & practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest...Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who's extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expect the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over it if that trust is ever broken.
# [/funny]

The Fine Art of Flirting 2003.01.20.10:08

I often lament that I'm terrible not only at flirting itself, but at recognizing when I'm the target of it. This is not a story of being flirted with, however.

While running a few errands today, I ducked into a local place for a quick lunch (the place is Gus' Deli in Campbell, on Winchester, maker of truly superb Gyros). Just ahead of me was a really, I mean really attractive woman. Already in the deli were a couple of guys who could have been extras in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (excellent film, by the way). I don't say this as a racial stereotype– I mean that one of them was the spitting image of *N Sync member Joey Fatone, who played a small role in the film. And acted like that character, too. He asked the woman (after she'd ordered), if she was eating there or getting take-out. When she said she was getting take-out, he didn't miss a beat. Asked if she liked to go out. What does she do? Dancing? What clubs? About that time, his friend sat down, looked her over, and immediately invited her to sit with them. Guy #1 explains that he already offered, and made some good-natured joke about spurning them.

I watched it all with great fascination. It never occurs to me to be that forward. And while it didn't pan out for them, I can't help but think that it must work at least occassionally, or the guy would have changed his tactics by now. Hmmm. And the woman, while not really receptive, wasn't put off or (noticably) offended, either. My mind, it is boggled.

# [/misc]

Quote for the Day, #1 2003.01.17.01:35
Cold silence has a tendency to atrophy any sense of compassion.

Tool, from the song "Schism", on the CD Lateralus.

# [/thoughts]

DVD Review: <a href="http://us.imdb.com/Details?0246464">Big Trouble</a> 2003.01.12.09:21

This is an above-par comedy. It's not as good as Sonnenfeld's Get Shorty, but it kicks the ass of the of the painfully-lame Men in Black sequel (not even worth the effort of linking).

Rather than giving a weak summary of the plot, I will give you three reasons why BT is worth renting:

  1. A brief flashback-type glimpse of Janeane Garofalo in a red Victoria's Secret bustier.
  2. Patrick Warburton running naked through an airport terminal.
  3. Stanley Tucci hallucinating Martha Stewart's head on a dog, barking a bark that sounds like "arugula".
# [/entertainment/movies]

I've Never Liked SUVs Anyway 2003.01.09.23:29

According to this, an off-hand remark by Arianna Huffington led to the creation of two ads that parody the gov't's current drugs-lead-to-terror ad campaign, only focusing instead on the ludicrous gas-guzzling SUV fascination. The ads themselves may be viewed in RealPlayer format here.

# [/politics]

Headlines #2 2003.01.09.07:32

Ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, and touching on the truly unnerving along the way:

# [/misc]

Don't You Feel Safer? 2003.01.03.07:57

This makes me feel so warm and fuzzy: They were jammed into a small cell without beds or chairs, rationed two squares of toilet paper

Two squares of TP just totally sucks ass. Is this Bush's economic plan, to harass and deport the people making good salaries and paying taxes? I guess that would create jobs...

# [/politics]

Five By Five 2003.01.02.01:30

Inspired by a "meme" that's floating around LiveJournal, here are some fives for the start of a new year:

Five Things I Learned in/from 2002:
  1. Our government can be just as scary as any socio-politcal commentary novel would portray it, just as bumbling and inefficient as any comedic troupe would portray it, and just as blatantly corrupt as the most rabid of third-party zealots would portray it.
  2. Not everyone who claims to be my friend really is, but I lack the clarity of mind and purpose to know for certain whom, especially when two or more sides are in direct opposition. I'm also paranoid enough to worry about things that I am certain can't be true.
  3. I can say no, albeit with some internal conflict.
  4. I can't count on my talent as a programmer to keep me employed, even as I perform noteworthy feats; I can even get laid off within weeks of solving major system problems. I can, however, count on my talent to get me re-employed, even in a difficult economy.
  5. Writing a book is much more demanding than I thought it was, but also that much more rewarding.
Five Really Memorable Moments in 2002:
  1. Holding the first copy of my book in my hands.
  2. The shock, distress and immediate onslaught of depression upon being laid off by Red Hat.
  3. Attending my first real sex party, and seeing six people I knew there.
  4. Drinking at a pub in London, with the local Perl user group, at an event they threw together on my behalf.
  5. Learning basic Tango.
Five "Really Bad Things" from 2002:
  1. Falling prey to a pair of con-artists in the SoHo district of London. It's not the money I lost (only £40), it was the embarassment of falling for their scam.
  2. The 2002 elections, and the change in the balance of power they brought. Also, the passing of legislation that erodes freedoms and moves us more towards a police-state, which was made easier by negligible resistence from the Democrats (who, frankly, deserved every loss they were handed in November).
  3. Losing two friends and one distant family member. The family member (an in-law, to be clear) was natural causes. One friend was a heart attack, an unusual exit given his age. And one friend's death was accidental, and it hurt the most, as I had only just made her acquaintance I was eagerly looking forward to knowing her so much better.
  4. Losing my job, and not finding one as fast as I thought I would. Also, seeing the job I really wanted dissolve as the company implemented lay-offs.
  5. Having grudgingly chosen to take on more debt, as a result of being unemployed. I'd been debt-free (save for my car payments) for over a year at this point.
Five Things I Hope to Accomplish in 2003:
  1. Listen to more classical music. I've recently started doing this, and I realize how I'd forgotten the relaxation and comfort it brings me. I hope to "discover" a new composer or significant composition at least once a month, to expand my range of knowledge from just what I currently own on CD.
  2. Write another book.
  3. Get to know certain people much better than I currently do. I say this in lieu of having a "Five People I Want to Know Better" list because (a) I don't want to shine a spotlight on the particular people, and (b) I don't want to limit myself to just five :-).
  4. Improve my life, even if only somewhat. This covers health, diet, taking care of my apartment, several things. I don't expect to have a total turn-around in the span of just a year. I simply want to be able to look back in 365 days and see an improvement. That's all.
  5. Travel more. Of course, I'm limited by the amount of time off I'll have from my work, but I want to visit at least one place this year that I've not yet been to.
Five Things I Hope to Avoid in 2003:
  1. Falling back into any serious level of depression.
  2. Re-gaining any of the weight I've lost thus far.
  3. Increasing my personal debt.
  4. Wasted evenings. I have a habit of just wasting an entire evening watching TV or playing games, when what I really want to do is work on my hobbies or read, or program. I hope to cut back on this significantly.
  5. Other people's drama. I can still be a friend to my friends, and an aid to people I can (reasonably) help (within my means). But I can do these things without becoming entangled.
# amazon () [/thoughts]

Um, Happy New Year, I Guess 2003.01.01.23:40

I'm not sure at what point in my life I noticed that I don't feel at all different on the morning of January 1st than I felt when I went to sleep the night before. It was long before I learned the truth about Santa or the Easter Bunny.

Ah well, off to the grocery– I forgot to ensure that I had any black-eyed peas for New Year's. Some superstitions die harder than others...

# [/thoughts]

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

Powered by Blosxom [Valid RSS] Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS! creativecommons.org