Saturday, January 12, 2002

A yellow turtleneck, a light tan checkered coat, dark tan gloves... it's impossible for Suzy Kolber NOT to look cute (seems like I'm one of the few football fans around who'd prefer her over Melissa Stark but it's not even close), yet why is she doing her best to dress like she's 80 years old today?

Funny the things cold weather does.
Based on the background music used by ABC for its Pro Bowl commercial, apparently Hawaii is now God's Country. At face value it works -- if I were God, I think Hawaii would be my favorite place too. But somebody didn't fully understand the lyrics, since places where "the rivers run but soon run dry," places with "sad eyes crooked crosses," are usually those farmlands that dirt-poor people are way more attached to than they ought to be, rather than tropical paradises.

Oh sorry, am I overanalyzing again?
Is the NFL really that shameless? I can't believe I just saw a LOTR-themed playoff promo. As you might guess, I never did get around to getting tickets to the Jets-Raiders game. With Corwyn out of town and Kubi dead-set against going ("Hell no!"), it wasn't worth it.

Tasteless Yet Topical Parody Caption of the Day
"Boy, and this is all just for testifying that Bil only pounded the guy into the ice 3 times??? I can't wait til Christmas!!!"
--Family Circus parody site

Friday, January 11, 2002

Moo-zic
The music page is coming along quite nicely now. It darn well better be, since I'm currently in the process of devoting all my waking hours to it.

I'm thinking -- it'll sound like I'm kidding but I'm actually at least half-serious about it -- of starting a lounge act. I know exactly what my hook would be and I'm fairly certain I could pull it off. It would take just a bit of voice training and a year or two of piano lessons to get my finger technique back. (I took lessons as a kid but did I ever practice? were there ever any negative consequences to speak of for not practicing? I hate to admit it but that might have been a waste of my parents' money.) Most of all, if I were really serious about it I'd have some mannerism to master and at the very least some wardrobe problems.

Here it is; I'm dead certain I'd be a hit with it and just as dead certain that I'm almost uniquely qualified to pull it off:
What if Tori Amos did covers of hair metal? All you need is me, the piano, the piano bench (for sheer hip-grinding spectacle), maybe a red wig, and my fingers and my sick twisted mind. Winger would be the best starting point, I think.
Read This
This article is awesome. It cuts to the chase about why I'm completely unashamed to be a Poison fan.

"It wasn't just that Poison looked like girls; Poison looked like pretty girls. The guys in Twisted Sister and Keel may have resembled leather-clad transvestites, but the guys in Poison were unabashedly cute. They had flawless makeup and good taste in clothes, and the drummer was a professional hairdresser. If your 16-year-old daughter looked like Rikki Rockett, somebody would ask her to the prom."
Ha-Ha, NBC Sux
For about a week now, the Bay Area has had a new NBC affiliate, based not in San Francisco but in San Jose. It's a profoundly messed-up situation because the station is channel 3 on cable systems but it's channel 11 locally - if you can get it at all. (At the NYE party we couldn't.) Ratings plummeting. Meanwhile, as far as anyone knows KRON (the old affiliate) has had nothing to air but old Judge Judy reruns. I really haven't checked.

Also, bad news for local figure skating fans.
Why Am I Still Up?
Probably because of that long nap I took... This damn music page of mine is going to turn into drinking from a firehose. Why am I so opinionated about these things?

Funniest Web Content I've Seen In Months
Did I look like I cared?
Scott somehow got the impression that I'd be amused to hear a five-minute recounting of a recent Friends episode. (Involving Brad Pitt spreading the rumor back in high school that Rachel was a hermaphrodite.) So far as I can tell he found dialogue from that episode in some web page, maybe an episode guide.

When we're both up late like this, with our (adjacent) bedroom doors open and typing away at our computers, he'll very very frequently share with me, at length, the amusing things he's run into on-line. It's more or less similar to the stuff I end up putting here.

At some point I was going to lament the death of conversation that happens when people put everything on their blogs and stop bothering to tell it to each other in person. Then I remembered the best part of a blog (for that matter, an e-mail): The other person can read it at leisure and is not being subjected to it now, no matter what else you're doing or thinking about. This is in contrast to what I hate about the telephone as a workplace communication tool (even instant messenging has this drawback, though you can always ignore an IM until you're ready to deal with it and alibi that you'd been away from your desk).

Oh Thank Heaven
Should I tell the folks at the local 7-Eleven how unappetizing it is when they stock their Doritos big-grab bags immediately below the heat lamps that keep their egg sandwiches hot? (The end result, via the metal shelving, is that the Dorito bags themselves are often warm to the touch.) In theory that should simply mean that I don't buy fattening junk food. Then again, if being behind a morbidly obese woman at the counter doesn't do the trick, what will?

Numerology
To promote or lead into its "20-song classic rock marathons," the Bone has a bumper featuring a montage of numbers from songs. I know where the one-two (AC/DC) comes from, as well as the 17 (Fleetwood Mac) and the 18 (Alice Cooper) and even the 19 (Steely Dan), though the rest go by too fast to clearly identify them.

A week ago I swear I heard a different version of this bumper, one in which every other number sounded the same, with one exception: at long last the 17 was Winger!!! This made me very very happy.

I have yet to hear that alternate promo since then.
The returned Christmas card
I received three Christmas cards this year, one from some friends of my parents and two, coincidentally, from people known to read this thing. (More specifically from two couples, at least one each of whose constituent parts is known to read this thing.) Anyway, thanks guys, since I don't think I ever mentioned that.

I sent nine Christmas cards that I'd written and addressed on an airplane and dropped off into a box just outside the Winfield post office. One of them came back because I somehow forgot to put a stamp on it. I'm still not sure how I managed to fail to stamp it: I went through them one by one, maybe two stuck together?

In any case, I put it in the mailbox in Illinois. The post office sent it to San Francisco for free. On the one hand I'm impressed they were willing to do so; on the other, would it have killed them to send it to Virginia for free instead?

Thursday, January 10, 2002

On the radio yesterday
(not sure why it took me this long to write it down; I think I forgot it and then it popped into my head)

Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains The Same sounds like the quintessential backseat loss-of-virginity song. It seems to have the perfect rhythm for that breakthrough moment when a makeout session turns into "going all the way." I have no convenient way of actually evaluating this; just sayin'.

Also, I don't remember ever feeling that way about a rock song before.

The last time I can remember associating any particular piece of music with mind-blowing sex goes all the way back, almost to puberty, when I was dead certain that one day I'd meet a woman, fall in love, and seduce her to the 18th variation of Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. You know the melody, even if you don't think you do. The problem, I suppose, is that it's a romantic song rather than a physically lustful song. The rhythm is of sighing and swooning and emotional bliss rather than of thrusting and pumping and stamina.
Okay, not all sports...
I skimmed several chapters of The Discoverers (Daniel Boorstin) while waiting for Heather at the BART station on New Year's Eve. It's unclear to me how to count books whose pages I've merely skimmed, like when I can't fall asleep and grab a Douglas Adams book off my shelf and re-read a chapter or so.

Or today, on the beach, when I grabbed a P.J. O'Rourke anthology from my shelf and read various of his essays.

For what it's worth, next in my queue is A Man In Full. Tom Wolfe books are like Tom Clancy books in that they're big and intimidating and to begin them you need to be in the right frame of mind.
What Books Did You Read in 2001?
I read far fewer than 100. I'm impressed that I know people who read 100 books in a year; I'm just not one of them. I do read voraciously but so much of it is spent on newspapers and other people's weblogs that I've long since lost sufficient attention span to devote to a full book.

This list may be incomplete, and some are more reference guides than real books per se. In no particular order...
The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (Bill James)
Baseball Dynasties: The Greatest Teams of All Time (Rob Neyer, Eddie Epstein)
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (Stephen King)
A Fan's Notes: A Fictional Memoir (Frederick Exley)
Baseball Prospectus 2001
Baseball Forecaster 2001 Annual Review

Am I at all disturbed that every single one of these books relates to sports? Well yeah, a little...
I love the feeling, upon stalking friends, of being able to replace a purely professional work URL with a much more satisfying personal page. This is also why, for example, when you click the name "Mike Develin" on my home page, you no longer get "The Business End of Mike".

Also Cindy has exceptional taste in domain name registry. pixelsmear and clinkclank are the sorts of things that, if you think of them, you probably got a higher SAT-Verbal score than I did.

(Actually come to think of it, you probably didn't. Although you might have. It took me awhile to remember my scores. They were imperfect under the old scoring system; it's theoretically possible that once they dumbed down the scoring system, my scores would have become perfect. Who knows? Who cares?)
Futzing with the homepage again
You start doing this and time just begins to fly, sort of like with that Excel spreadsheet stats99 thingy that I haven't touched in years now. (This is sad, I'm too lazy to even find the link even though it's right off the Maize pages somewhere.)

Anyway, buttloads of new links are there now. I found all the comic strips I'd been missing and also found my freshman year roommate, one of the few people on Earth who can hold his own with R. Robert Hentzel in the brilliance department.

Also, I set all the links to open in a separate window so I can use this page literally as my homepage and always have it open. Hope that doesn't inconvenience anyone, if it does I can always set them back.
Ewwwwwwwwww!!!
Sad to say I actually do know an Oasis fan. I didn't like them much but I have no quarrel with them. Except now. Do they completely lack any sense of taste? Their "reunion" will be on a Cornershop album.

There are few things about me that (assuming only things that are actually true) I'd be reluctant to admit. One of them is that I own a Cornershop album. Of my lifetime's worth of entertainment expenses, this is at least in the top 5 biggest wastes of money.

How bad do you have to be to make me recoil in horror? Pretty bad; trust me. The worst part of it is that I actually liked the song Brimful of Asha the first dozen or so times I heard it; liked it enough to buy the album, at least.

This is epic badness we're talking about. I want my money back (you bitch! :-) ).
I just remembered the creepiest part of my Christmas vacation. It came up during the previews they showed before Lord of the Rings. It's rare for me actually to recognize an actress, even a lead performer, but this one just seemed like really really poor taste. In reality, far be it from me to speculate about where Aaliyah is. I'm assuming she's moved on to enjoy a better place than Earth, and I'm absolutely certain that her closest friends and family would just as soon not think of her as The Queen of the Damned.

Can I really be the only person freaked out by this? Maybe other people will be once the thing is actually released. It's outrageous, and if you know me you know it's actually pretty hard to outrage me.
Of all the adjectives I'd have used for Christina Aguilera, I don't think elfin would have occurred to me. Also, isn't there something unsettling about a paragraph that was obviously drafted by a lawyer and yet repeatedly refers to the protagonist on a first-name basis?

Christina's legal representatives have contacted the website hosts, and Christina plans to vigorously pursue all necessary action against the individuals responsible, including, if necessary, initiating criminal proceedings.

Show at least a little bit of dignity and call her Ms. Aguilera in those contexts. Or Miss? I guess not Mrs., since that's either her mother or this guy's wife.

Q. How far down the hit list on this search page would we get our first Christina sighting? A. Here's link #7. Obviously they're not related: she's too blonde and he's too brunette.

With the usual disclaimer that I'm, like, straight and everything, I swear up and down that he's better looking. It must be the eyes. Or maybe just the closer aura?
Why Roommates Aren't Boyfriends
Hey cool, a title with double meaning. Right now this guy Joey and this girl... I forget which one... but they're out on a date, I'm not sure how real or how fake it is. Five minutes from now my microwave will buzz and I'll see what's happened to them five minutes later. He had never had so much fun on the non-sex part of a date and now they're... well, when I first opened the freezer door he was asking her who she'd punch if she could only punch one person. Then she asked him about... I thought she said "end of night moods" but I suppose it was "end of night moves" since he started telling the secret of what he does when he really wants to be kissed.

From the detail to the description, you'd think I actually like this show but from my visceral reaction apparently that's just not at all the case. I'll be eating either a minimum of ten minutes from now or else in my room. Off the top of my head I'm not entirely sure what favor Scott would have to do to convince me to watch Friends with him or even why he'd even want to do that; he seems to get along just fine watching it by himself.
When did I start sucking at swimming?
I could barely make it through even six laps today. Guess that's what happens in a month away from the pool. Afterwards I went to Subway, because it's close to the pool and because I have Jared Fogle delusions. Instead of getting one of the low-fat, 6-inch subs that made up his whole diet, I got my usual foot-long BMT with all three kinds of peppers.
Politics Relegated
I went and made a whole new blog for all my political rantings. The theory is maybe someday I'll say something really smart and one of the "celebrity" political bloggers will see it and credit me and all that. I don't want them to have to sift through all my social life garbage. :-)

The downside to this is that it's one step further removed from my subtly influencing the political views of my closest friends. Then again, for all I know you guys would notice the <politics> tag and just skip past it, right?
Congratulations to Two People About Whose Existence I'd Forgotten
Gavin and Gwen are finally engaged. Thank God that decade is over with.
The Reaper Is You and The Reaper Is Me
When I was a kid, Suicide Solution was the prime exhibit for all that the moralists thought was wrong with heavy metal. (Think of it as the Smack My Bitch Up of its era.) No radio station in the area would actually play it -- I had no idea how it sounded or even what the lyrics were -- but major publications opined that this song was directly responsible for teenagers deciding to kill themselves.

While I was out and about today, a local radio station actually played "Suicide Solution." I must have heard it before but clearly never until the last year or two. The song just seems so tame to me compared to what all the fuss was about.

Everything that people complain about ends up seeming so tame when I actually hear or see or do or try it, relative to what the fuss was about. I can only assume this will be true when I finally get around to smoking marijuana, although the assumption that it's probably lame is now the latest reason for me not to, other than inertia.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Afternoon Drive Time
Publishing is back; woo-hoo!

Worked half a day today because 100 == 4 mod 8. Turned into slightly more than half, since I wasn't out the door until a little bit after 4 p.m. Everyone wanted to talk to me, either to chat or to touch base or to do whatever people do when somebody will probably be back soon but you never can tell.

Two kickass moments of varying degree on the way home: First, as I got off the freeway onto Fell Street (the one way west portion of San Francisco's timed-traffic-light arterties, Fell & Oak, with parkland between them), it was like there was a whole new lane. Indeed, it was the far left lane that's usually filled with parked cars but clear between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. I'd never been on Fell between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Wow, clear sailing.

Second and more importantly, going west as far as Lincoln will take me (since our place is almost at the end there), with Close My Eyes Forever cranked way way up on my Lita Ford cassette tape. I noticed the sun about to set in the sky above the Pacific Ocean -- that's right, I live four blocks away from the Pacific f*ckin' Ocean. If you ran down the beach and kept going west somehow, weeks and weeks later you'd hit China. That's why they call it Ocean Beach of course, to distinguish it from all those beaches that aren't on oceans.

Is Revere Beach on an ocean? I think not. (Actually, maybe it is. But it isn't, it's on the harbor, right?

Anyway, yeah, I live on the world's biggest ocean. Well, not on it, you have to go four blocks, past a Thai Restaurant and a gas station, another Thai Restaurant and a hotel, across a four-lane street, down these concrete stairs and over several yards of sand. Still, someone who shall remain nameless got the impression somehow that I lived on "beachfront property." :-)

The point of the story is there's water out to the horizon and this brilliant red ball in the sky above it (maybe that's why they call my neighborhood the Sunset?) and I almost just died of beauty intake.

Vectiv won't take me back for, oh, another week or so while they figure out what they want to do and how expensively to do it. So tomorrow I'm going to the beach, just because.

Because I can.

Also we went out for sushi tonight and I walked both ways, about 2.67 miles each way.
The Salient Difference Between San Francisco and Boston?
For the most part San Francisco comes out much better in this comparison. The weather is much nicer and the scenery is much prettier. The specific exception, which nobody seems to talk about, is downtown. Downtown San Francisco is a cesspool.

At long last someone is actually writing about this.
By the way Kimberly's back today. I'm glad since it might be my last day and all. Now there's her. Before there was just this big white panda bear on the JANUARY 2002 of her new calendar. This thing has a black nose and deep black eyes. Sometimes when I'm thinking about a problem I'll stare at it.

DAVE THOMAS, RIP

Other Chronicle stories...
<politics>
"Women, Minorities Hardest Hit." Okay, this story doesn't mention women, but my reference is to the old joke about the theoretical Washington Post (or insert other left-leaning paper) apocalypse headline, "WORLD TO END TOMORROW: Women, Minorites Hardest Hit." Advocates (also known as "lobbyists" or "special interests" when some reporter happens not to agree with their cause) are supposed to be argumentative, persuasive and so on. That said, it angers me when people accuse other people of discimination with nothing to back up their accusation. It angers me even more when reporters are gullible enough to buy it without even an attempt at skepticism.

Davis pledges not to raise taxes. Gray Davis is an ass. This state will lose tens of millions of dollars off of his buy-high, sell-low misadventures in energy trading. Don't trust him any further than you can throw him.
</politics>

Depression treatment rates increasing. So the interesting, unknowable question is: Are more people getting depressed? Is depression better-detected? Both are no doubt true; the question is which factor is the heavier influence.

Vatican urges pedophile investigations be kept secret. I have no comment here other than that the whole issue is very sad.
Reputa?!?
They say radio has become homogenized. For the most part this is true. But some bands and some parts of the country are exceptions. In well over a year of San Francisco radio listening I finally, just this morning pulling into work, got a J. Geils band sighting. Unfortunately they did not play the kickass live version of this song, presumably since the live version came out some time after 1974.

<politics>
The term "stimulus package" really puts me on my guard. It's a term that seems to make a lot of assumptions, namely that the federal government is somehow the driving force behind whether the economy sinks or swims. Admittedly the feds can do a lot to gouge the economy (get out your last paycheck, look at the number listed under FICA, imagine how cool it would be to actually keep that money, and don't think too hard about how much if any of it you'll actually see by the time you do turn 65, or 70, or 80, or whatever the number is by then). But the people who actually make money, who create wealth and all that, are the ones who bust their asses 40, 50, 60 hours a week actually producing things of value: Newspapers, computer code, college kids with enough restraint to keep themselves out of jail, and so on. Basically, us.

The political misconception of the 1990's that bugged me more than anything political possibly could bug me (apart from foreign governments that kill or enslave people, or killing and enslaving in general), was the idea that somehow this whole boom economy resulted from Bill Clinton being some sort of munificent sugar daddy. Nonsense. The actual boomtime correlated with three things, two of them involving the Internet. First, transaction costs went way way down. Think of how much more convenient everything -- everything -- is compared to ten years ago. Second, people noticed this and started dreaming up zanier and zanier schemes to get rich off of the phenomenon: Sadly, this led to a big-ass bubble, and in the end bubbles end up bursting. Third, and most importantly, after the Republicans took over Congress, neither they nor Clinton could inflict on us any of the things they actually wanted. No socialized health care but also no -- whatever it is that people who hate Republicans live in deathly fear of.

So here's a very good, admittedly quite biased, column that in part relates to this latest Bush-Daschle tiff. Read what it says about tax cuts, since I couldn't put it better myself. I have just one quarrel with it though: We don't need Congress to intervene to get an economic recovery. The recovery will happen, it's already in the process of happening, and the biggest risk of it not happening is if people futz with things. Of course, this piece explains exactly why Congress doesn't want to just leave well enough alone. Thank God both sides got greedy and ended up not agreeing on anything. Congressional inaction results in more good, by way of avoided harm, than anyone will ever know.
</politics>

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

The Google Crackpipe
None of this is google's fault; rather, it's a funky consequence of the actual text on webpages.

Corwyn had a question about the save rule after this game. So I looked up the save rule for him. The first two links are exactly what I was looking for. The next few just aren't.

I especially like the XFL recommendations.
Dagmar's Farewell
Udo and Dagmar got back to town today after five weeks in Mexico. Nelson is at parts unknown, though he has some sort of arrangement to make with Udo depending on Udo's travel timing. I don't know if this is also true of Udo but Dagmar, at least, is flying back to Europe tomorrow. (Today as you read this.) She'll be missed. I told her, truthfully, that her friendly personality is a nice contrast to how introverted computer geek guys are. She hugged me goodnight and adjourned to the master bedroom.

Non sequitur: Not everything that happens to me is bloggable. Some of the funniest moments just aren't. It's not like there's nobody I can tell -- believe me, there's always someone. But, like, I don't think anyone reading this cares enough for me to ramble about work, much less disclose any proprietary info. The part you care about, for example, is, "work went so well that I ended up in my car on the way home suddenly yelling 'fuck yeah!' (pardon my French)."

Shorter and funnier. Can't emphasize that enough. Shorter and funnier, for heaven's sake. :-)
8:08 p.m. - 8:33 p.m. = 25 minutes

That's actually typical for the drive home that time of night. Not on a Thursday or Friday night but on a generic weeknight, or late in the evening any other night.

10 a.m. seems to be about the latest you can routinely roll into work and still plausibly pass yourself off as a business-hours worker. Even then, I come to a momentary pause about the idea of formally acknowledging that to be my arrival time. Sheepishness comes over me. Employing me as an independent contractor, Vectiv has never told me to be in by any given time -- I could even work from home if I wanted to be everyone knows I lack the discipline -- but there's the straight-face test, to say nothing of the basic standards you want to meet if you're interested in your contract being renewed.

Silicon Age formal policy was 9:30. (No later; obviously earlier was encouraged.) When Vectiv people asked me, as a Silicon Age employee, what time I'd be in any given morning, I always told them 9:30 with a straight face. (A deadpan?) Luckily, there very rarely was any meeting called that would actually hold me to this. Apart from the 9:00 Monday morning Silicon Age internal thing. Mildly annoying that was but no worse than having a once-a-week 9 a.m. section in college or something.

On the other end of things, I must dislike the concept of losing 20-30 marginal minutes of my life each day to rush hour traffic even more than the concept of losing up to an hour of my life each day to staying at the office longer. Well duh, look where I am now: In front of a computer, on-line. At work I was also in front of a computer, on-line. I could goof off either place so long as I didn't bill anyone either way.

Time to go running...
Him Again
When John Rocker and Carl Everett just aren't enough, bring back Juando?
"Songfic"?!?
Hey, these aren't the real lyrics!! And it's too long to be a narrative-form tossup. I could probably write one of those if I had to; couldn't you? Your mission, should you choose to accept it: X-rated (at least R-rated) songfic based on Short Skirt, Long Jacket. Extra credit for working in the Chrysler LeBaron.
Different station, same format, same size list. Obviously can't do it at work but an interesting analysis would be just how common those lists are, which songs have the biggest disparity in list position.
Here's a year-end songlist I can identify with. Not quite, though. Instead of a bunch of stuff I don't recognize yet assume to be crappy, there's a bunch of stuff I know first-hand to be crappy. But the good bands all make it in their fair share of times.

Also, I'd completely forgotten about Hey Pretty! Poe rocks my world.
Did You Know...
Harvard has a Henry K. Oliver Professor of Hygiene?
"Yeah, my great-uncle is famous. He went to Harvard. They named a hygiene professorship after him."
Kicker Jose Cortez, an El Salvador native, will be making his initial foray into wintry Wisconsin. "This is my first time to be in Green Bay, and I've heard all the stories about the cold and the weather," he said. "But I'm not going to worry about it and just go in and do my job."



My name is Haji, call me Jim. I'm going to kick the ball again. I like to kick, I like to play, but please please please... no Green Bay! Brr, Green Bay! (Astonishingly, google found no useful link for this.)
A 20-year-old man is scheduled to appear in federal court in Chicago today after he allegedly tried to carry three pocket knives, one tubular knife, 16 rounds of ammunition of unspecified caliber, handcuffs, a box cutter, a bottle of lighter fluid and a lighter onto a Florida-bound American Trans Air flight at Midway Airport.

Shoot, a feller could have a pretty good time in Vegas with all that stuff!
The Sweet Taste of India
Come to think of it, this (1998?) was definitely Aerosmith's lowest moment, the point at which I'd have gladly contributed to a charity drive to fund their relapse into the drugs and alcohol that coincided with their good songs.

That buffet I keep going to still has no web presence but all the same it's quite good. Every day the buffet features lamb curry, tandoori chicken, and a different vegetable dish. The sauces are always mango, chutney, and mint. And the nan of course.

Techies know of India as the place where you can outsource your work insanely cheaply. The companies that do this will advertise their services relentlessly. I'm not on anyone's mailing list yet but Silicon Age sure was. Supposedly you have to be careful to specify very precisely what you want the code to do.

The thing is, once you can specify the object model sufficiently precisely, at some point any good modeling program can auto-generate the stub classes anyway. Maybe for sufficiently small-scale work the Indian programmers are cheaper than the Rose license?

Rama, full-time Vectiv engineer, hails from India, although I've never actually talked to him about this outsourcing phenomenon. (Apparently he costs far more than programmers currently in India would.) Rama apparently knew Vectiv's former VP of Engineering. That guy hired him (apparently), then quit. Rama arrived months later and Vectiv seems not to have been expecting him. Imagine that: Uh, hi, you don't know me, but you hired me.

There is a language barrier at play, not to mention a possible misunderstanding about where his technical expertise lies. The things I care about most on this project, or rather the trickiest problems I run into on this project, have a nasty habit of eventually ending up depending on him. This leads me to explain particular concepts to him. In the process apparently I've learned a lot the hard way about communicating well and about writing and designing code in crystal-clear fashion. It's been interesting.

LOCAL NEWS
Foggy all day Monday, treacherous surf. People did seem slow-going on the lower deck but I've seen worse construction-related delays. Going home, same deal: Everyone driving slower but seemed like fewer people than when it's a parking lot.

Everyone else did in fact wait for unemployment benefits to go up. Wonder if my contract work was bad timing?
Why is my page performance sucking?

9:26 to 9:55 is 29 minutes. If you leave between 9:20 and 9:30, you can make it in under half an hour. (MapQuest doesn't know how to take traffic into account. Conversely on long trips it doesn't account for driving like a bat out of hell.)

Check out my commute if I still worked here and lived with Paul and David. Seems like "neither" is more likely to happen than "both" but we'll see. If I moved over here, odds are I'd end up with a job in downtown San Francisco. Or in Austin. That would be a sucky commute.

Some random USA Today headlines...
Bush signs education bill...
<politics>
The signature issues look like "test every year" and "raise teacher standards." As someone whose major skill in life is taking standardized tests I'm ambivalent at best about the first, although it beats the alternative. Gotta measure the improvement somehow and anyone whose taken a non-science class at Harvard knows why grades don't work as a standard.

Maybe my calling in life is to write better tests? I'm sick of test-haters claiming that teachers will "teach to the test," even though I know in a lot of cases it's true. It ought to be possible to design a test that prevents this.

Raising teacher standards: Couldn't tell from the article but do they mean tying it to the results? (Very good.) Or, my fear, did they cave to the teacher's unions and want to do away with emergency certifications. Some people who talk about raising teacher standards actually mean more of those Ed courses that only amount to barriers to entry for the profession. This serves the short-term interests of one particular labor movement but does nothing for kids, or even for teachers in the long run. Instead...

1. Make it easy for any reasonably well-educated person to become a teacher.
2. Pay significantly more to the good teachers.

Voila! No more teacher shortages. No more struggling classrooms? Oh yeah, I forgot part 3, where we wave a magic wand and get every parent in the country to start reading to their kids. Instead, as the Onion points out, we still have households like this and parents like this.

I also wonder what Joanne Jacobs has to say about the bill. Maybe later...
</politics>

Tribes could be misleading U.S.
USA Today has easily given the best war coverage of any newspaper. They're short, sweet, to the point, and they get the stories other people aren't. This one was up last night, while CNN was still praising or at least neutral to the latest bombing. It's sad. I really don't want to be critical. But you'd expect something like this to happen, and somewhere out there a hardcore lefty is laughing his ass off or sternly admonishing us as the bad guys or both.

Also, I misread the headline as "Tribe could be misleading" and thought, "oh those wacky Cleveland Indians." Especially since it was right above the Ozzie Smith headline.

National Guard under scrutiny. (Hey, I could write headlines myself if I had to.) This is sad. I almost joined the Guard, before I got even more serious, before I got less serious.

Congressman strip-searched. Apparently Rush commented on this yesterday after I stopped listening. He ended up with gobs of hate mail over it, people asking him how he'd like it if he had to be strip-searched. Well... the point is if you keep setting off the thing, you keep setting off the thing. Also, he only had to take his pants off in a private room. The hate mail made it sound like it was in public.

"They felt me up and down like a prize steer," Dingell, D-Mich., said. "I was very nice, but I probably showed I was displeased."

The first shoe copycat? For crying out loud, this is what I hate about travelphobia. I do hope this guy fries, whatever his actual problem was. Okay, not literal frying, just lock him up and throw away the key. Hey, but wouldn't dipping a guy in a boiling-hot grease trap be a much cooler execution method than the chair?

Speaking of copycats, the suicide guy...
What exactly is there to understand? He didn't want to live, so he pissed away the gift of life. Ungrateful moron. Death is a reasonable consequence for people that stupid. Sorry, I just have really really low tolerance for people who kill themselves or who want to. Some mentally ill people do, as a direct result of being out of their minds, but what they need is help. Anyone else... why? If you're merely despondent, just get over it. (I've been really despondent now and then.) My thoughts on suicide in a song lyric and also in two of the all-time best Onion articles, on seeing it coming and on poorly written notes.

Must end on more cheerful note. Fixed two bugs over the course of writing this; that counts for something.

Monday, January 07, 2002

MATT's BAND PAGE
Spent some time futzing with my home page tonight and decided to try making a separate page for all the music I like. Here's your sneak preview. It's hideously disorganized because I started typing out the verbal diarrhea first and only later thought of a cohesive theme other than "random stuff I like a lot." Weeks from now maybe you'll see it as an evolution(?) of my taste or something like that. Or at least better categorization. And then maybe it'll get an actual link from the main index.
We Have Pictures
That is, Tim fixed his link.
Warning: These are bigass JPGs, you'll notice the load time.

Tim's Descriptive Page: I'm amused that Scoon got top billing, not to mention ever more undecided about the capitalization of the 'C' in his handle. Hey, come to notice it, I'm not pictured in any of these. Bless you Tim! Neither is he but he's the cameraman.

Huddle: Clockwise from bottom left = Dagmar, Anna, Luoi, Scoon, the back of Gooch (one of Scoon's D&D buddies).

Settling In: Our house in the background. Upstairs window is Udo's bedroom. Downstairs left: Chris's room. Downstairs right: The tiny room I used to inhabit, now a study/video game nook. Note the open door. Foreground: Shelly in the yellow windbreaker, Kubi with the backfield presence, Gooch facing the wrong way again. Continuing counterclockwise to a side angle of my roommates Chris (blue shirt, beard), Scoon, and Udo (blue shirt, clean shaven). Standing up are Will (shorts) and Nick (ponytail, beard, Gooch's roommate). Middleground left: our ample spread; note the cooler under the table. Background left: More of Anna, Luoi, and Dagmar. Dead center: R. Robert Hentzel is almost completely obstructed by Kubi but you can see his eyeglasses and Diet Coke. Also, our grill.

Mango: I bet Gooch hates getting his picture taken. Tim keeps finding him but it looks like he keeps turning away. Also pictured are an empty beer bottle, a nice black chair (normally at our kitchen table), some fruit, and Tim's girlfriend. And the overgrowth at the base of our tree.

Speaking of Our Tree: Between branches and sky, behold the backside of one Ben Jackson, who had already moved to Minnesota but was back in town for the week.

Penultimate Shot: The best view of our catacorner neighbor's house and (foreground right) of our sumptuous grilled meats. The identity of everyone in this picture is knowable from previous pictures. R. isn't obstructed this time but is facing the wrong way.

Final Shot: Our other catacorner neighbors were remodeling, as you can see. Or as Tim could see; he's pretty tall. Note the smoking wafting from the closed grill. I think this is the only time I ever saw Anna in camoflauge print.
Well, crap. The process that was supposed to take an hour has been 70 minutes and counting. The meeting that was supposed to take an hour went 20 minutes if that. Meanwhile, the natives are restless in Denver.

I'm really not sure what to think here. Yes, this game blew but it really didn't matter to either team. (It'd be odd if that was the finale for both Shanahan and Mora.) The Broncos beat the Raiders at home the previous week. Whatever.

And the guy has a point, Shanny's done nothing since Elway left. Then again, back-to-back Super Bowl titles take something. Shanahan alone might not be sufficient but Elway alone sure wasn't. Ask Dan Reeves; better yet, ask Wade Phillips.

Denver just won two Super Bowls. Well, not just won. But exactly two Super Bowls have gone by since then. I've rooted for more than enough ring-free baseball teams to realize that it's nowhere near time to panic.

Hmm... Peyton Manning and Brian Griese are both sons of legends. Neither is really living up to potential these days. Bah. I wonder who Denver's running back will be next year. Heck, I wonder who Indy's will be. Corwyn doesn't think they can afford to trade Edge but Dominick Rhodes looks reasonably useful.
For Better...
Lynn Johnston's starting to take on some big issues. She's not getting nearly enough credit for it, at least not yet. When all is said and done she'll be lavished with praise for these story lines and the people giving her massive props for her courage will take it too far. But before they take it to far they have to take it somewhere; that is, there has to be a "they."

This is exactly (the reverse of?) how I felt when Eminem released his first two albums. That is, after I got done falsely assuming that he'd be a one hit wonder. For some reason I went out and bought the Marshall Mathers LP and actually listened to the lyrics.

They were... shocking, yes, but even beyond that the sort of thing that I'd expect other people to find really shocking. Given all the stuff he rapped about I was surprised that he wasn't drawing controversy yet. The people who are upset about him really made up for lost time though.

Nobody's talking about Lynn Johnston yet but sooner or later they will be. This seems like a good thing.
When I'm Rich And Famous...
...will they let me dress they way Mark Cuban (pictured right) dresses? And why isn't this entry showing? Is my browser wacked?
(By the way, they ruined this joke by adding a new punchline. I guess without the added punchline it was too raunchy for AOL.)

<is this politics?>
The Annotated Rush Limbaugh
Realized Rush was on when I got in the car today, flipped stations accordingly. (This was 9:08 a.m. PST; it takes about 35 minutes to get to work. Today is average for me, maybe mildly ahead of schedule. Or you could have extrapolated from when this gets posted but um, no, I've actually been, like, doing work and stuff between posting this.)

Actually it wasn't guaranteed to be him. San Diego's Roger Hedgecock was the latest fill-in host, the last week or two. He joins a decade's worth of other guest hosts, the line of B-teamers that begins with Bob Dornan and otherwise has featured everyone from Walter Williams to Sean Hannity to Tony Snow.


Not that you care but I can't find a complete list of guest hosts out there. The complete list includes everyone from Michael Medved (Christmas week, maybe five years ago) to Oliver North (about a decade ago) to a hard-to-link-to generic New York radio guy named Jim Kerr. And of course no list of guest hosts would be complete without Joan Rivers. (No, Joan doesn't do talk radio that I know of.) Maybe someday Rush will let Eddie Andelman host his show? "Yankees suck. Liberals suck. Come to my Hot Dog Safari!"


A Limbaugh monologue, much like this blog entry, goes on countless digressions. On today's show (no, I can't tell if he can hear again) he started with a teaser for a head-to-head comparison of Bush and Daschle, then that reminded him (this isn't quite word-for-word but close enough): Speaking of heads, did you hear what they found out about snoring? People who snore a lot tend to have round heads! So now thanks to me whenever you see someone with a round head, you'll think of snoring. Ah, but what do you do if you have a round head? Maybe get someone to sit on it. Whatever it takes to change its shape.

Somehow he got from there to the NFL, second time in a month I'd heard him give the lion's share of the opening segment to football. Last month, he was sympathizing with Browns fans. This month he was lamenting that the Favre/Strahan sack play looked so fishy. That and he can read Jon Gruden's lips. I've become good at lipreading, as you might imagine. When John Hall made that long go-ahead FG, Gruden's lips apparently said, "unbelievable!" I bet all you football fans love it when I spend so much time talking about football. People out there yelling, "Stick to the issues!" Well, these are the issues. The playoffs are coming up, best time of the calendar year.

Took him until after the first commercial break to get to the Bush Daschle head-to-head. Basically it amounts to Daschle never working a day in his life in the private sector. My first objection: Calling Air Force service "government work" is, while perfectly true, impolitic these days. It's mostly a good point though, since people who diss George W. Bush as uneducated always forget his MBA and his business experience. My bigger objection was when the list degenerated to Texas versus South Dakota, a comparison the smaller state will never win.

Thanks to his hearing problem Rush takes far fewer callers than he used to. This vastly improves the show. The biggest reason I don't usually listen to talk radio, sports or politics or otherwise, is that callers are idiots. I have yet to find a show for which this isn't true, although it's not like I have much incentive to try. Nobody who calls talk radio shows has anything useful to say. Well, with exceptions that only end up proving the rule.

You know the observation about a first-name basis implying love or fandom or respect or whatever? Rush Limbaugh is a major supporting example: Almost always Limbaugh to people who hate him, or Rush to his fans. On the other side, left-wingers have Fidel; anti-Communists rail against Castro. The Islamic militants rally around Osama while the rest of us condemn Bin Laden.

No, I don't know what Neil Peart and the gang call him. Not sure if they listen to U.S. talk radio, although Peart is one of those famous libertarians who probably isn't nearly as libertarian as the folks with the two-dimensional grid test would have you believe. I'm ambivalent about that test. As a hardcore libertarian (small "l" preferred) I like having people find out that they're more libertarian than they think, yet the questions on that thing are unbelievably loaded.
</yeah, I guess it was politics>

Nobody's here today. Why I've been working in the "Product loft" since this contract began is unclear, though it gets much better sunlight than the "Engineering loft." Kimberly and Eric are both on-site with the new customers, on those really long business trips that result in apartment stays rather than hotels. Brian, specializing in geographic information stuff, got to avoid the travel. He's out today, maybe sick? Jake never did come back from being laid off; can't say I blame him. There's a nice couch up here but nobody's using the space for a meeting or anything.

I have no immediate feedback whatsoever, no incentive at all to work as opposed to procrastinate. Could be worse: I still don't think anyone even noticed that I was out Friday. (No, I don't have the balls to bill for it. It's not even a close call; that's just not something people do. I probably won't even bill for the time spent on this entry. Or maybe I will, since I'm honest-to-gosh running processes in the background here. But every day I'm here for an hour or two longer than I actually billed.) Anyway, Brian would have noticed, unless he was also out. Maybe he and I caught the same bug?
Football Quick Hits
Somewhere in the middle of that last entry I had a two-hour (cell)phone conversation with the frequently-mentioned Corwyn. (The browser on this machine doesn't let me capture JPEGs, it keeps making me treat them as bit-maps. Ugh. Otherwise between Corwyn and Mike Develin and one or two other frequently-dropped names, next thing you know I'd have a posse going.)

Corwyn's apartment in Portland still isn't quite ready (plumbing or something: the place was just remodeled) so he's still crashing with Willy Jay, cult hero of the Harvard quiz team. Even if I managed to get playoff tickets (which might be surprisingly easy: Raider fan base is frightening but small) and if it indeed turned out that the Jets played at Oakland again, I don't think he could make it here. Bartending school and such. Although he might end up getting a job as a bouncer first and then get promoted to bartending later.

He'd make a great bouncer. Just as my hair is far longer now than in my web page photo, his is far shorter. With his crew cut and the build of a former high school wrestler and the ability to assume a deadpan but deadly serious look on his face, I can totally see him telling people they can't come inside.

Oh, here's the non-Corwyn factoid I wanted to share. ("Factoid" is the wrong word, what's the right one?) My favorite thing about the Seahawks is the wet turf at Husky Stadium when the weather gets the way it does this time of year. That kind of turf needs a name.

"WetTurf"?
"AstroGlide"?

The stuff (and a poorly conceived NFL rulebook) once cost the Raiders a safety and the ballgame. Ha-ha. (Yes, in fact, the officials made exactly the right call. The rule was ridiculous -- probably still is -- but it was also unambiguous.)
Sunday
I almost went to see the Raiders lose in person. Had Corwyn still been in town then clearly I'd have taken him, unless he found some other ticket source. I asked Kubi and he turned me down flat-out. Unlike Chad, I knew -- just knew -- the Jets would win this one.

As you'll remember, I had A's playoff strips. That is, same seats each game through the theoretical World Series. In the row in front of me at the Coliseum (the first row of that particular set of bleachers) were two parents and a young kid, three or four years old. He was supposed to have gone to his first Raiders game on his birthday, September 16. Come to think of it, this was the game he was supposed to go to. I hope he was able to make it to the makeup game and that, score nonwithstanding, he enjoyed it.


Yes, I despise the Raiders, to the extent that one can dislike an athletic team. I daresay, to the shock of the entire known audience, that they're worse than the Yankees. But would a little kid understand why? Let them have their fun. Let the toddler boys of the East Bay grow up to love their home team, the Black Hole and Al Davis and everything else be damned. Plus, DeVeau is a big Raider fan and he's a fine person. For that matter I know Yankee fans who are fine people.


Speaking of Igor, he runs the D&D campaign I joined a couple months ago. We ran a session this afternoon, interrupted by, in order, the final minute of the Raider game (we missed the long field goal but saw Rich Gannon run out of downs); the final minute of a stunning Duke basketball loss (Devils up by one, got a big three-pointer, then got the ball back, but with a four-point lead missed two straight free throws before the FSU comeback); and finally by the long-awaited pizza delivery. The pizza sucked. I forget where we ordered from but anyone in Boston knows about Pizza Ring. It was about that quality. All the same I ate too much of it.

In any case, enough D&D. Let's talk about football, shall we?
NFL Primetime saved the meaningful games for the meat of their show, choosing to lead off with that crazy snowstorm in Pittsburgh. Denver brought nothing to the Hoosierdome but my roommate mercifully distracted me during the highlights by trying to converse with me.

I watched about five minutes of live football at the end of the early games. The Saints had 3rd-and-32, apparently after the pathetic Ricky Williams fumble play. The Bears rolled, as apparently did the Pats. When SF-NO finally ended, we got "bonus coverage" of the Packers-Giants, although we shut off the TV seconds before the record-breaking "sack" that Favre served up to Strahan.

Let's talk about football because, by and large, teams I like are doing well. It's hard to say that when the Raiders make the playoffs and the Broncos don't, but it's true. The #2 seeds in both leagues are teams I have vague regional ties to, both of whom were supposed to go nowhere this year. The #1 seeds are very likable teams, St. Louis because I like that kind of high-octane offense, Pittsburgh just because.

Andy Reid and Tony Dungy are (excluding Shanahan for bias) easily my two favorite head coaches. They get to face each other. Both Bay Area teams made it, even though I don't like either of them.

Green Bay... Favre, cheeseheads, what's not to like?

The Jets and the Dolphins are bitter, bitter rivals who may actually get to play each other. That leaves either Baltimore or Seattle, and I'm hoping against hope that Billick's bunch blows.

Why Do I Hate the Ravens?
Given that the Raiders and the Cowboys are both still in the league, for me to become that opposed to a team takes some doing. Or maybe not; I resented the Dolphins for a year or two and then came to be okay with them. There's the Corwyn Effect, but somehow I still sort of like them. Credit Jay Fiedler. In any case, somewhere along the line Baltimore became immensely dislikable. Is it Ray Lewis? Billick? The HBO special? Or just the sudden realization that this has been Art Modell's team all along? Some combination of them no doubt.

Other than Oakland, Dallas, and Baltimore, who don't I like. Hmm... Kubi's fiancee is a Chiefs fan, as is God-Boy. San Diego has Doug Flutie. Seattle is a cool team if only because of Mike Holmgren and their current temporary field. A tolerable team. Oh and Steve Largent was a Seahawk.

For the AFC Central, blame fantasy football as much as anything. Jacksonville had my QB and top RB (Mark Brunell, Fred Taylor) one year, plus Matty Cooch likes them. Pittsburgh... Dwight, Joe, all the Pennsylvanians I know. Cleveland... my family's originally from around there. Cincinnati... pity, if nothing else. How can you hate a franchise that sad? I shouldn't like Tennessee (Bud Adams) but do. Jeff Fisher's mullet makes it all worthwhile.

Pats... duh. Jets... Corwyn. Fish... Fiedler, plus Mr. Matthew Harper-Nixon. Bills... this guy I went to high school with was a big Bills fan, from western NY. It was much easier to be a Buffalo fan then, or maybe much harder, depending on how thick-skinned you are about Super Bowls. (This was also a tough era for Bronco fans for Super Bowls though.) I was late to get on the Triplet bandwagon but I have a soft spot for the Indy offense as a "fun to watch" team in the Rams' mold.

Eagles... Andy Reid, plus my old colleague Steve Jenkins. Giants... I know so many New York Football Giants fans I can't count 'em all. Arizona might be pity. Actually I can take or leave them. Ditto the Redskins. Check that, I mildly dislike the 'skins for no compelling reason.

The Bears are my parents' and sister's home team now. Plus my old roommate Leo, the one from Milano, loved the Bears. I guess he first got acquainted with American sports around when they won Super Bowl XX. Any good Lutheran knows about the Minnesota-Green Bay rivalry because people talk about it so much on the morning of any Sunday those two teams play. Not being from either area (this puts me distinctly in the minority in my faith), I have no favorite there. Maybe Packers by default out of my annoyance with Randy Moss. Detroit... count Craig D. Barker among their long-suffering fans. Tampa Bay... my Howe Sportsdata colleague Gavin is big into the Bucs. Actually my old boss Brian is a big Viking fan. Twice a year, Brian and Gavin would stake a case of beer on their teams' division rivalry.

And we all worked with Marshall, a St. Louis Rams fan before it was cool to be one, before anyone knew they'd be any good, back when Trent Green was a Redskin and Kurt Warner was an Arena league legend and the Rams' incumbent was Tony Banks. (Links galore but I'm too lazy to find them.) Marshall had spent time in Arkansas as a kid and also time in Southern California as a young adult, the perfect combo to become a Rams fan on either or both ends. My current world is full of Niner fans of course. Atlanta has Dan Reeves. New Orleans is the land of Aaron Brooks and Ricky Williams and a little bit of the underdog, if not the Bengals' level of pity.

Ah: I have no compelling reason whatsoever to root for Carolina. Not that I hate them, but since I don't like them, by default there are too many other team I'd root for first.

Sunday, January 06, 2002

Here's the construction worker death story if anyone's interested. If they've suspended work indefinitely then my morning commute just got a lot better. From a quick check of CNN et al, this wasn't national news.
48 Hours I Won't Get Back
Went to bed shortly after the prevoius entries. Woke up a few hours later (Friday morning) with the nastiest cold I'd had in a long long time. Quite a bit of Sudafed later it was Saturday afternoon. Since then, did some laundry, played a bunch of AOK, and sort of cleaned my room.

SCoon's back in town. He went to Phoenix, to Tuscon, to Kansas City, to Ames, and then pretty much those same cities in reverse order. Six weeks worth of driving and friend-visiting and so on. His sister and brother in law have ten coon hounds (yes, they also happen to be Coon hounds, purely coincidence), who apparently jumped all over him.

I was really surprised to see him back. Obviously he'd come back at some point but just nobody knew when. He was equally surprised that Udo isn't back yet. Nobody knows when Udo and Dagmar get back. Nelson in particular needs to know, since when they get back in town he might need a place to sleep and stuff.

Then again the whole lease is up at the end of February. Scott hasn't begun looking for work yet but his search will be pretty much nationwide. So he's tentative at best still to live here. Chris actually wants to stay, though he knows of a three-bedroom down the street that would be half as nice for half the price.

Actually there's a chance I could get a spot in my favorite Berkeley apartment if Mike is really serious about wanting to live closer to campus. Mike wants to meet new people this year; this came up at the party.

Mike has a weblog. Maybe on my page I should relocate him to "Blogs" from "Friends' Pages." Some other time. Everyone I currently have under "Blogs" happens to be a BU student or alumnus; why break the pattern?

Mike also has quick hits. But I should be careful linking, because sooner or later he'll stumble across this thing and all the things I've said about him and Paul and David and Joon and... nah, I explicitly didn't go into any sort of detail about the party, so I'm clear, right?