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

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

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

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

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

The Amazing Disappearing Randy 2005.03.31.19:45

There's a pretty good chance that I'll be taking a contract for some moonlighting work with an entity I'm not at liberty to name at the moment. This will be in addition to my usual day-job.

On top of that, I was picked as an alternate presenter for the O'Reilly Open Source Convention this year, after someone had to drop out. So I'm also working up a paper/presentation that I'd already given up on and stopped researching.

So, with the exception of a small number of regular engagements, I'm probably going to be effectively invisible for at least the next 8 weeks or so. If anyone gets worried, feel free to e-mail me. Odds are about 3-to-1 that I'm online at that very moment...

# [/misc]

St. Paddy's Pet Peeve 2005.03.18.08:03

Any station that punctuates a piece on St. Patrick's Day celebrations with "Scotland the Brave".

# [/funny]

In Memoriam: Verbal 2005.03.15.09:41

At some point today while I was at work, my lovable, exceedingly affectionate all-black cat Verbal passed away.

When I moved to California in 1997, I had to leave behind the cat I had in Denver. Before I got settled in to my own apartment, the other cat (whom I called Constantine after the conqueror, not the comic book character) was adopted by a nice gay couple. So I set out to share my apartment with a new companion, one who was in need of a good home. I visited the local rescue organization, CARE (Companion Animal Rescue Effort), in search of a suitable pet.

People told me ahead of time that I shouldn't be so set on kittens, but I was. I'm more of a cat person than a dog person, mainly because I live alone and cats seem more capable of entertaining themselves with my long work hours. So off I went in search of baby cats.

I got to their weekend open-adoption one nice Sunday afternoon. No kittens. They explained that it was early in the year, since kittens usually resulted from people letting their un-fixed cats out when the weather improved around March and April. Just as I was ready to say "See you in May", I saw him.

In a cage was a big adult cat, all-black. I was still dallying in the goth scene at the time, so an all-black cat was worth serious goth points. I asked to hold him. After all, I was dead-set on kittens. But it wouldn't hurt to pet the cat, right? From the moment I picked him up, I was done for. This cat immediately put his front paws on my shoulder and simple laid his head against my chest, with his cheek in the hollow of my collarbone. I was his, hook line and sinker. I was totally 0wnx0r3d. I told them I'd be back next week with the adoption fee and everything else I needed.

The cat was named "Blackie" by his previous keeper, but I couldn't keep that name. I chose Bosch, after my favorite artist. But it wasn't long before his true nature came out: he was a talker. Everything he did was punctuated with vocalizations. He even talked in his sleep. So, taking a cue from an excellent film, I named him Verbal. It suited him so much better, after all.

His affectionate nature wasn't just a ruse to get adopted. From the day I brought him home, he would purr at the drop of a hat. If I sat down anywhere, he was there for his pettin's. Even when I went to sleep at night, he would climb up beside me and snuggle up. If I made a cup of my hand, he would use it as a pillow. He would be there the next morning when I woke up.

He was lonely when I went to work. He came from a household of a lot of cats, as his owner was one of CARE's foster-care staff. So after it was clear how lonely he was getting during the days, I went back to CARE and adopted a companion for him. They were inseperable. You would think Marie, the newer cat, was Verbal's own kitten. They groomed each other, they slept in a lop-sided yin-yang pattern. Rarely would they be more than 4 feet apart. When I slept at night, both would be on the bed with me.

For nearly 7 years, I've loved this animal. But lately, he was starting to show signs of age. He couldn't jump onto the bed anymore (it's a 3-foot jump). But he never lost his affectionate nature. Any time I sat at the computer, he wanted up in my lap. When I sat on the cushions in front of my coffee table, he would curl up at my feet and purr. Anytime I let him up in lap, he would lay his paws on my shoulder and snuggle against my neck, just like he did that first day.

I noticed recently that he'd lost a tremendous amount of weight. He wasn't eating, and barely drinking. I was worried, very worried. But I was also dead broke. So when it was clear that he needed to go to the vet, I decided that the very next paycheck, he was going.

That would have been tomorrow.

Instead, I came home tonight, way later than I should have, and found him passed.

I'm so, so sorry, my dear Verbal. I hope you are at peace.

# [/thoughts]

The First Rule of Holes 2005.03.11.00:53

...is, when you find yourself in one, stop digging.

After tiring of always living paycheck-to-paycheck, I've spent some serious time on reviewing my finances, and trying to make a more realistic, effective budget. What I've found has been awfully depressing, though.

For the last several months, I've been trying to get by even though I have had a lot of unplanned expenses. To this end, I've really simply not noticed as one thing after another got added to the list of things I was dragging from month to month as either late-paid bills or borrowing forward (my bank allows me to get advances on my direct deposit). Now that I have a budget and a list of the outstanding expenses, I've come to the realization of just how dire my situation is.

Firstly, my outstanding debts (not to be confused with monthly credit card bills or anything, these are the the things I keep carrying-over from month to month). About $2400, I estimate. Depending on how well I juggle my next paycheck or two, I should be able to get a good part of this taken care of.

But in the longer-term, I have bigger problems. I've recently started a new therapy course in the form of a weekly group-session "skills class". While it may sound unusual, it has a lot of potential to help me, especially in light of a recent diagnosis (Asperger's Syndrome). But it isn't cheap, and I can't really get mental-health expenses covered by my health insurance. With this, added to my existing weekly sessions (and it is a requirement of the class that I maintain weekly one-on-one counseling), makes the therapy bills come to nearly 20% of my monthly take-home pay by themselves. In the rough budget I drew up last night, I realized that I was looking at having maybe $600 a month for food, gas, any unexpected expenses, and any effort to save anything. This isn't tenable.

The most obvious cut to make is the therapy. But it seems like such bad timing to be doing that: it took seven months to get my schedule to mesh with the skills group scheduling. With the newer diagnosis, and the skills group, I feel like I have the best chance yet and developing the coping and management skills I need to overcome the limitations I've set upon myself. One person suggested that I simply take six months or so off from therapy, then resume it and the skills group. But I fear that if I do so, I'll never actually return at all. That concern, with the very real potential for progress that is facing me right now, makes me very, very reticent to consider this option.

I've taken a few steps to cut costs in some areas. I've already been developing the habit of cooking more and eating out less. I just need to apply it more consistently. I've changed my cell phone plan so that the risk of overages is greatly reduced (they've been killing me some months). I may be able to reduce the impact of the therapy expenses with a medical savings account, but I have to talk to the HR person about that. Unfortunately for me, one thing I had counted on isn't going to happen: my company isn't giving bonuses this year. They're positioning themselves for IPO, so they decided to give people (meager) raises this year, in lieu of bonuses. I won't go into details here, but the raise I got is about 40% of the bonus I got last year, it amounts to about 1.09% (less than half of a "cost of living" increase), and best of all I'll have to stay here for the next 12 months to get it, which makes it a pretty poor substitute for a lump-sum bonus that supposedly rewards performance for the previous year. I know this trick– U S West Communications pulled it on us one year, during the time I was there. I'm pretty sure my boss sees through this as well, but he's doing the best he can. (I had some serious misgivings when he took me over in August, but I've come to respect him a great deal the last few months. Plus, he has mad skilz and wicked-long hacker cred.)

I don't think I can do enough, though. Not without moonlighting or ramping up the writing and trying to sell some articles and/or a new book. I may become the Amazing Invisible Randy for a few months.

# [/thoughts/money]

When the Fever Breaks 2005.03.07.22:39

(With apologies to Led Zepplin.)

Fever broke last night. That was what I noticed when I woke up– either the fever had broken, or my waterbed mattress had been rent length-wise. At least I could rule out having wet the bed (no odor).

I'm still under doctor's directions to minimize outside contact until I've worked my way through the prescription I was given. As I said prior, this is apparently a big problem across the county so they're being extra-paranoid about potential transmission. I wouldn't mind, normally. A few days off to write open-source stuff and work on my models, rock on! But I'm unfocused (though with the fever down, that may improve by later today) and the muscle aches make my hands shakey. So all I've been doing is watching TiVo and going to the bathroom.

I was arrogant-enough to think that the break of the fever was akin to an "all-clear" signal. I dared prepare myself something normal (though not spicy or containing dairy, just in case) for lunch. From the first bite, though, it was clear that eating is still not in my immediate future. As diet programs go, this has been brutal but effective. Can't say I recommend it, though.

# [/thoughts/health]

Way Freakin' Sick 2005.03.05.17:30

I am totally knocked on my ass. I have a flu bug, bad enough that my doctor decided on a prescription med (Tamiflu) rather than having me get something over-the-counter. I am almost certainly contagious, so the odds of my getting out are pretty slim. This includes the birthday party I was to go to this afternoon/evening. I hate to miss it, but I don't want to be spreading plague, either.

# [/thoughts/health]

Happy Birthday to Me, '05 Mix 2005.03.04.07:56

Another birthday come and gone. One friend called me at 6:00AM to be the first to say "Happy Birthday" to me. One caught me on AIM. I managed to keep the whole thing fairly quiet, but tonight at the hobby shop, just as I was checking out, I got a call on my cell. Then I got a rendition of "Happy Birthday" loud-enough for the guy at the register to hear. So of course he told the rest of the gang.

I thought they were content with just razzing me at the shop, but later at the restaurant, I paid my bill and was about to leave when the night-shift manager told me I shouldn't leave yet. I should, in fact, go sit back down for a bit. So I did. And a few minutes later, out comes the treat. I was expecting cake. What I got was two generous scoops of ice cream, completely covered in whipped cream, with cherries on top of each one. The candles were stuck in the cherries.

I got a pair of vanilla boobs with cherry nipples for my birthday. This year is looking up already.

# [/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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