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

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

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

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

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

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]

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:


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30 31          

Apr May Jun
Jul Aug Sep
Oct Nov Dec

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

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

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

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

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