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+ 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

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

SA-2 Guideline Surface-to-Air Missle 2004.01.28.08:59

This kit a fairly-recent release from a Chinese company called Trumpter. Unlike the Cromwell project, I'm building this one just with the parts that are in the box. Well, except that I lost one of four identical, really, really small parts. Since I couldn't fabricate one that looked exactly like the other three, I had to fabricate all four of them. It's what I would normally do, if I were set on super-detailing this project. But I didn't plan to initially, for two reasons: (1) I wanted a nice quick build I could put on the shelf quickly, and (2) it's really a nicely-done kit, and doesn't really need extra work. Well, unless you lose a piece.

So, this is where it's at prior to painting. All the principle assembly has been done. In the above picture, I've put a simple, unfinished figurine in the shot to give a sense of scale to the missle itself. The figure can be regarded as a roughly 6'0" male. In the second shot, to the left, is the launcher base with the blast shield in the foreground. The darker plastic doesn't show up as well (and it doesn't have the contrast of brass that the Cromwell has), but the nice thing is that most of the launcher is divided into about six sub-assemblies here, but the parts are so nicely-engineered that they hold themselves together without any glue (at least long-enough to take the picture).

More on this once I start getting paint onto it. Primed most of the parts this evening.

# [/hobby/modeling/SA-2]

Cromwell Mk. IV - Part 1 2004.01.28.08:44

My first project to spotlight is a Cromwell Mk. IV, in 1/72 scale. The kit is a fairly inexpensive offering from the Revell GmbH company. The detail on the parts is fantastic, and the kit itself could be built straight out of the box with no extra detail work, and produce a great model. But, I stumbled across a nice photo-etch set from Part designed for this kit. The picture to the right shows the model where it currently stands on my shelf. You can see the Part photo-etched replacement fenders in place, and the engine grille work at the rear.

Unfortunately, this is where it's been stuck for several months. I ordered some additional detail parts from a place in England called PDI Model Supplies. I got one item in the mail from them, sent by airmail. But there were a lot of other items in the order, and it didn't show up. Nor did it the next week. I asked the owner, and it seems that the order was large-enough that he thought the shipping cost for air-mail was too high. So he decided to send it surface-mail. Without asking me first, if I would be willing to pay the higher shipping costs (I would have). This was at the end of November, and I'm still waiting. I might order from them, again, but I'll be much more explicit about shipping.

# [/hobby/modeling/CromwellMkIV]

Introducing My Obsession 2004.01.28.08:20

Some of the behind-the-scenes work I've been doing on the weblog software I use is designed to let me show some in-progress work on my modeling projects. I will eventually be integrating some sort of gallery plug-in, but I'm still choosing between a few different options for that.

What I have, though, is a way to create separate topic-areas for each project without the category-list in the right sidebar stretching down to a ridiculous extent. It sounds small (and in fact, once I found out the way to configure it, it was pretty simple), but over time it will help. I can add as many of these as I want, the sidebar stays reasonable. You can view all the projects via this category, or you can look at an individual project by clicking on the category link at the end of an entry, and see just that project. Without it showing up the sidebar, though, that's the only way to get to an individual project.

So, um, anyway... here's some recent stuff.

# [/hobby/modeling]

Should I Stay or Should I Go 2004.01.27.07:57

(With sincere apologies to Joe Strummer, R.I.P.)

Something that has been gnawing at my mind for a long time, is the thought of working outside the United States for some period of time. Mostly, I've been interested in the United Kingdom. London preferably, but not exclusively. I've even gone so far as to put my name and CV in to a few openings in the UK. To be honest, though, I wasn't that sure about whether I'd actually accept and move, were I to be offered a reasonable position and salary. But the job market is (albeit slowly) starting to rebound, and there are gradually more and more openings. Some of them are outside the US, and it's making me think about this more.

First of all, this isn't a statement on the government or crap like the USA PATRIOT act. No, I've been thinking about this since at least 2000, if not earlier. I'd always wondered wistfully, but it was spending two full weeks in London, in November of 2000, that really made me feel the pull. If this were really about being dissatisfied with the reign of "King George", I'd have been more vocal about it before now, and I would probably be trying a lot harder to find some opportunities elsewhere.

No, one of the most motivating factors for me, is the fact that it was so late in my life before I actually visited another country. Now, I understand that there are a lot of Americans who have never visited another country, and almost certainly never will. I'm not complaining when I say that. What I am saying is that now that I've had a taste of it, I know what I've been missing all this time. Had I grown up in Europe (UK or mainland), I would have almost certainly visited at least 2-3 other countries by the time I graduated high school (or the local equivalent). With so many countries so close, that's just the way it works. Here, in the US, visiting other states is almost the same thing. And there are differences in culture to be found in different states, just not as much as the differences between countries. (Well, having grown up in Oklahoma almost my entire life, my first visit to New Orleans almost qualified as visiting a foreign country.) And there is so much more of the world to see, than I have had the chance to. I likened it to our citizens visiting other states, and I have been fortunate-enough to visit 26 of them so far, even if only passing through en route to other places. I don't have to go overseas to explore new ground, but I'm just as interested in experiencing the new cultures (and my trip to North Carolina doesn't count).

To further complicate things, I've now been in California long enough to feel like I should buy a home. Indeed, I probably should have before now, but I've been telling myself that I wasn't really sure if I would stay here long-enough to get the kind of return on investment that I would need. I've been here over six years, now, and short of moving to Europe I don't see myself leaving the bay area anytime soon. But even as I talk to a mortgage broker, there is still this little tickle in the back of my brain. It's saying, "Are you sure you want to purchase and settle down? What about London? What about Europe?" I don't have an answer to the little voice's questions.

Part of it would feel like I was running away, and in a way I would be. Each time before, when I've made a drastic relocation, I've looked at it as a chance to start over. To leave behind the embarrassing and humiliating things that I associated with the previous place. Even more, I look at it as a chance to try again for romance, to find a life-partner. When I was going from middle school to high school, I was just looking to leave behind the stigmas of not being very popular or athletic. When I went from high school to college, I was hoping to leave behind the sting of having little or no social skills and having barely dated. When I left Oklahoma, it was again a chance to start over, to leave behind a lot of regrets, shame and painful memories. And so on, and so forth. I'm finally starting to catch on that just moving (even 1300 miles) isn't enough to overcome these things. But I can't help it if part of me thinks that 10,000 miles might do the trick, even though I know on an intellectual level that it won't.

But I have always loved travel and exploration. If I don't move, I will have to figure out a way to travel more than I currently do (and that's saying a lot, since I do travel a fair amount each year as it is). It's just my old indecisiveness: I can't tell if it is practicality or timidity that prevents me from just diving into things and aggressively pursuing a job overseas. I generally leave bigger things like this up to chance; they work out, or they don't, and either way I adapt and move along with things. But this one is so big, it seems like I am short-changing myself to leave it to so fickle an authority as fate.

I really shouldn't be thinking this much, or this hard, so late at night.

# [/thoughts]

Most Misleading URL? 2004.01.27.04:49

Is this, or is this not, the most misleading URL you've seen?


# [/funny]

A Vulture Goes Duck Hunting 2004.01.24.00:19

I don't really like Mike Morford that much, anymore. He was fun to read at first, but his brand of humor is very limited in scope, and one gets tired of reading the same over-the-top invectives over and again. So, when I post this link to his column for today, understand that it isn't to promote Morford, but rather to bring attention to the subject of the column: Dick Cheney's recent "duck hunting" expedition:

Even real hunters cringe at canned hunts. It is not a sport. It is not man versus nature. There is no nobility, no honor, no sportsmanship, no instinct, no luck...

For those who just want the highlights, it boils down to this: the VP went on a "hunting" trip with a few (9 or so) closest friends. They were flown in Air Force Two. The "hunt" consisted of them waiting patiently in a blind while someone released birds from a net, birds that may have been artifically hampered to ensure that they were easier targets. When it was over, some 400 or so birds were dead, and the party returned to AF2 in a Humvee.

I can't think of a more apt real-world analogy for the way this administration regards the "unwashed masses" in general. No, I don't really like hunting in general. But at least people like Ted Nugent hunt for food, and actually hunt, as opposed to just reclining back and motioning for the house-boy to drop the nets. And what better way to show your care and regard for the environment, than to leave the scene of a canned hunt in a Humvee?

# [/politics]

Batter Up! 2004.01.24.00:03

Practice your batting skills.

My personal best was 320.2.

# [/funny]

Mind You, I'm Planning to Be More LJ-Visible 2004.01.22.02:15
# [/funny]

Hmmm... You Know... 2004.01.16.23:54

I think it's about time I got back into the game.

(This probably won't make sense to many of you. That's OK, don't feel bad about it, or worry about me. I know what I'm saying here, and that is what matters at this juncture.)

# [/thoughts]

Rocket Scientist on the Daily Show 2004.01.14.07:55

Tonight's guest was Dr. Catherine Weitz, a scientist from the Mars project, who explained a little bit about the mission goals, the rover tech, etc. One thing I noticed, that Stewart never asked about, was the she was wearing a second watch on her wrist.

# [/tech/space]

Imminent Death of "rjray_rss" Predicted 2004.01.14.00:23

If you read this via the rjray_rss feed on LiveJournal, you get many, many opportunities to read each entry, as something in the RSS causes LJ to periodically decides all of the previous 40 or so messages are new.

Someone has written an blosxom-to-LJ gateway, which I will be installing and testing in the next few days. When that happens, I won't actually have rjray_rss killed, per se, but people will be able to keep track just using my plain old normal LJ account. Heck, I might even upgrade to a paid account.

# [/tech/blosxom]

Introducing Atom Support 2004.01.13.06:43

I have now installed a plug-in for blosxom to support the Atom Syndication Format Specification.

Of course, I have no direct use for it personally, and I have no idea what tools or such are out there that use it. But the plug-in was there and enticing me with its beguiling simplicity. So, there it is.

# [/tech/blosxom]

Because Obesity Isn't Really A Problem 2004.01.13.01:31

The International Federation of Competitive Eating.

As is often the case in matters like this, I am at a loss for words in my attempt to comment any further...

# [/funny]

The Shy Spirit of Mars 2004.01.05.23:19

There are a flood of images coming in from the newly-landed Spirit rover on Mars. However, I am striking out in my efforts to find pictures of Spirit itself.

Any pointers to pictures, even if only illustrations, would be greatly appreciated.

# [/tech/space]

Department of "Huh?", #1 2004.01.05.23:18
# [/politics]

A Look Back at 2003 2004.01.01.11:08

Taking a look back at my plans and goals for 2003, let's see how I did:

Things I Hoped to Accomplish

Listening to more classical music
Overall, I did this well. There's a nice classical station here in the bay area (102.1 KDFC), which I listen to when I'm not interested in what's on NPR. I also listened to a lot more material on CDs and in ripped files both at home and at work. As far as getting to know new material and composers, I only did so-so. Some of the new stuff I tried, I just didn't like. Some of it, I really liked. I have some leads on new composers/material I'll be trying out in 2004.
Write another book
Pretty mediocre progress on this front. I have an outline about 80% done, and a lot of ideas. But according to my contacts at ORA, the market for both Perl and Web Services is a little dry these days, and those are the elements I had in mind (I was planning an advanced volume to go with the first book). So I'm not sure where this will go, if it does at all.
Get to know certain people better
Alas, I don't recall exactly who all I had in mind when I wrote that, but I have a few ideas. In most cases, I didn't really manage it, though a few exceptions almost make up for the missed chances. But, as a counterpoint, I also met a number of new people this year, as well.
Improving life, health, etc.
Whatever I'd accomplished, I would be sitting here wishing for more, and that is in fact the case. But I did lose weight (enough for many people to comment on when I went to Oklahoma and Colorado), I'm practically down a whole waist-size in jeans. That is, the 42's I currently wear fall off without a belt, but going to a 40 is still a bit snug. My apartment is still in pretty bad shape, but I have done a lot of cleaning. It's just that the pack-rat in me doesn't want to let go that easily. I've thrown a considerable amount of cruft away in the last few months. Other health issues are still being worked on, but I seem to be on a better course of meds than I was a year ago, so there is definately some progress there as well.
Travel more, see at least one new place
This worked out, but not the way I had in mind. I went to Portland (Oregon) for the first time in July for the Open Source Conference, but I had been thinking in terms of Europe. But I didn't even make my usual trip to England due to trying to budget my vacation time for a friend's wedding. I went to Maryland in April and Oklahoma in July, both for national-level scale modeling shows. And I went to Colorado over Thanksgiving and (back to) Oklahoma for Christmas. So, no complaints. Europe will still be there this year...

Things I Hoped to Avoid

Falling back into depression
Of course, depression is a tricky and slippery eel to keep a hold of, but over all I think this went well. Changing my meds helped a lot, and I think that the medical side of my diagnosis has improved. On the mental side, I'm making progress, albeit more slowly than I'd like. I hope to see more strides in that area this year.
Re-gaining any of the lost weight
Hard to say– I'm quite sure I've ended 2003 weighing less than I started it. But I do think there was some fluctuation along the way. I know that if I have my size-42 jeans on without a belt, I can push them down over my hips without un-fastening them, so there's visible progress.
Increasing personal debt
Blew this one pretty badly. That's all I'll say, except that what I've done was (in my opinion) the right thing to do at the time, given the circumstances.
Wasted evenings
This got better, for certain. That isn't to say that it doesn't still happen, but it happens much less often. I finished a few models this year, and I've started going out and socializing more often, both of which are much preferred to sitting at home staring at the TV.
Other people's drama
Again, fairly well. Helped by the fact that most of my friends had fairly good years themselves. Those that had issues come up, they were legit issues, not just superfluous drama. Some of my friends weathered difficult times, and a couple of my friends survived complete life-changing events. As far as I know, all of my friends ended the year on a (reasonably) positive note.

So, there is is. Not as much as I would have liked, but more than enough to be happy about. Later, after I've slept some, I'll look ahead to 2004.

# [/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

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