Saturday, August 17, 2002

Numbers to Live By
Mileage on my car: 40,000 exactly -- on my way back from Palo Alto, saw the nines become zeroes just before I parked my car for the night.
Money lost at poker tonight: $2.50. Vaguely disappointing after being ahead all night but what can you do?
Time of tonight's A's game: 2 hours, 16 minutes. Jermaine Dye 1, White Sox 0

Friday, August 16, 2002

Tall Women
This article is about tall women; I found it here.

What's possibly not to like about a dog-owning, libertarian Yankee fan? (Eh, you who know who you are, don't answer about the last part.)

I guess gushing or swooning would be unbecoming. As it is she already seems to have quite the legion of fans.
An overweight American pop culture icon who died on August 16
This guy.

Oh, and some musician.
Rueter
"Can you believe," my co-worker asked me, "that Kirk Rueter leads the Giants in wins?"

"Well," I deadpanned, "he knows how to win."

No irony detected. This got me to thinking: Stathead smugness aside, maybe Rueter does just Know How To Win.
Top of the Morning
After playtesting last night we went home. Instead of writing questions I feel asleep. Now here I am.

I had an interesting dream involving the Charlestown/Beaon Hill area--visions of brass, brick, and gaslights. Woke up suddenly at 5:30 (my time), couldn't fall asleep. Do I really want to move back to Boston? I assume not, since the thought hadn't even crossed my mind until the dream. I do love that neighborhood, and have ever since I stumbled across it (by bike), just a very well-kept secret. I'll assume for now that I couldn't afford to live there.

Right now I'd settle for a place I like and any potential roommate(s) like. Chris found a great 2-bedroom in the Sunset (he's found a few of those, only one of which I've seen in person). I'd really rather live much closer to work than that but so far the places he's come with me to see in Berkeley have been overpriced dumps. He and I will look at some houses (rental, not mortgage) in Berkeley today, then Trina and I will look at some studios/1BR on Monday. (Obviously not for both of us.)

Thursday, August 15, 2002

The CD, it skips
Either I'm starting to break this CD-ROM drive or I've overplayed Human Clay (Creed).

That's a shame, since I'd classify "Higher" as a perfect song.

Ditto for two songs mentioned here earlier this week, both "Red Barchetta" and "For Whom The Bell Tolls," despite being so categorically similar.

("Red Barchetta" is wistful, nostalgic metal; "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is unhappy, thrashing metal.)
Russ Johnson Update
Mystery solved. Somehow I knew it was mental health*. He joins Jimmy Piersall in the ranks of baseball's mental-health role models.

Being a Devil Ray drove him crazy. I'm mildly surprised this hasn't happened to more Devil Rays.

*- Where by "knew," I mean I had such a strong intuition that what probably happened is I heard about it on the radio once and forgot that this was my source of info.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Music
Mike D. writes about perfect songs, mostly correctly.

He's dead right that three songs on his list are perfect ("Comfort Eagle," "Tonight Tonight," and "Walk On"), dead wrong about the Third Eye Blind song (at least one requirement for perfect song has to be "it's not annoying or tiresome," otherwise Linkin Park's "In the End" would be so self-evidently perfect that you'd finally stop mocking me about my yen for it, even though it's actually self-evidently not perfect). The rest on his list I either haven't heard or haven't heard enough.

Ask me in a year or two whether "Hella Good" is a perfect song.
Refreshing Honesty
"Umpire didn't know who to give that to"
--Don Sutton on the ball-strike call of a close pitch in a matchup between "the two future Hall-of-Famers" Barry Bonds and Tom Glavine.

(He's dead right about the Hall of Fame, even though there are people who don't fully appreciate the case for Glavine. What's interesting is that the stature of the players involved would affect the factual dispute of whether the ball actually crossed the corner of the plate. Note that Bonds and Glavine both get far more benefit of the doubt on borderline calls than lesser players get. This probably contributes a little to Bonds's obscene walk totals.)
The blueberry pie... of death!
This is a sad story. Moral: Don't sweat the small stuff.
Oklahoma's Finest Exports
I'm so proud!
Music Leftovers from Earlier This Week
Monday night heard one of the funniest covers ever: "Tuesday's Gone," Metallica, Garage Inc.

Earlier that day I heard the Date Rape song for the first time in awhile. I'll never grow tired of that song; neat little twisted storytelling with a little poetic justice.

On a happier note, driving to work Monday heard Rush's "Red Barchetta" for the first time in awhile. Finalist, along with Metallica's "For Whom The Bell Tolls," in the unofficial contest for song with the greatest # of (completely distinct) kickass riffs.
You Can Talk To Me
(full lyrics)

Today (by now, yesterday) was very special for a white English bulldog named Rocco. He got to go to work with his human, meet some funny people at a small business-to-business web company. Got to ride in the morning with an Ecuadorian database assistant and then go home from work in the back seat of Dodge Intrepid, with a big soft coat sitting in the back seat, his human in the passenger seat and some guy driving.

Interesting variety of reactions to Rocco, whose name I've probably misspelled. Some people wanted to play tug-of-war with him; he really got into it. Others of us just pet him when he wandered by our desks, and said cryptic things like, yeah, you fixed the build! What a good dog! That page looks great!

While his human and I were supposed to be lavishing attention on him, instead we drove around North Berkeley jotting down phone numbers from for-rent signs on my behalf. I want to move to Rocco's neighborhood and perhaps in the long run spend more time with him and his human.

In short, Rocco was exceedingly well-behaved. He also wore a bandana that, if I remember right, was the same one worn by Slash's black Labrador retriever in the Sweet Child O' Mine video.
Wh*res: Not Just For Baseball
"Solution: They weren't playing each other. If the answer wasn't obvious, start thinking differently. Which is exactly the strategy behind the totally new 2003 Ford Expedition. Brilliant solutions are easy to see in hindsight."
--Larry Evans, in the September 2002 Chess Life, presents an inane brainteaser ("Two men played five games of chess. Each man won three games. How is this possible?") and turns it into a car company shill. I don't even know where to begin.

(Quiz-bowl in joke: You do remember there are three kinds of people -- those who drive cars, those who do not drive cars, and those who drive Fords.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Narcissistic Dilbert Question
Does my workplace persona remind you more of Alice or of Wally? I think it's somewhere in between.

The people best suited to answer that don't read this, or else are too polite to say they do.
DEK Goodness
Three cheers for Kidder:

1. The more days that pass with me really not doing crap, triviawise, the more slack he and others have picked up.

2. He linked to this article -- priceless!

3. At what amount of money is it worth it for you to bite your tongue and not tell people that the way that they want something done is incompetent? Lately, now and then, I've had occasion to wonder the same thing.

The best answer I've come up with so far: If you're the one actually implementing things, and your company is small enough and meritocratic enough, you can (by building up a reputation for reliably delivering clean code and well-designed features on time) use a fair amount of discretion, and implement things that make sense while pushing off on (or judiciously ignoring) anything ridiculous.

Here I'll admit something: I really can't stand requirements documents. Well, that's not quite true. I do like having something to refer to, for some sense of direction -- even more important, for some bounds on scope. What I'd far prefer, though, is an overview of what the feature is supposed to do, what problems it's meant to solve, and how it relates to a typical end user. The more leeway you give me with the rest, the better balance I can find between writing something useful and keeping overhead down.

Requirements gathering, consultant/client model:
Product team members slave over a draft document. Team of developers reads the document, brainstorms for questions. Most "questions" are on the order of Are they nuts?! -- or, What the hell do they actually mean by this? Business manager converts these to polite, specific queries. Answers and follow-up questions go back and forth like a tennis game. Relevant higher-up sign off on the final document, which might just end up ignored anyway.

Requirements gathering, my ideal model:
People identify what the problem is. One developer (or some small number developers) ask, "What's the cleanest way quickly to solve this problem?"

Ensuing questions are of the form: Is it okay if we implement it the way we think is best? Yesses are great; no's lead to some kind of (short!) meeting to figure out why somebody thinks he wants what he thinks he wants, and moreso what he really wants.

Code geekery sometimes brings out the arrogant SOB in me that I'm usually reluctant to admit is there.
Best Onion Ever?
I won't spoil anything, partly because that would be rude but mostly because there are five or six things I'd love to spoil.

(Note: I read The Onion from the bottom of the page upwards, so it's possible the stuff at the top will disappoint me.)
Read this if you're ready
Parts one and two of the two-part USA Today series on 11 September 2001 air traffic control.

(Pardon what sounds like a euphemism. I'm tired of seeing/hearing the shorthand and I also want to distinguish from 11 September 2002. Speaking of which, if your schedule is flexible enough to do so, I strongly encourage you to fly that day, especially if Spirit Air still is giving tickets away for free.)
Two Songs From Different Decades, Separated At Birth
Prince, "Sign 'O' [sic] the Times"
P.O.D., "Youth of the Nation"
Serenity
Music: Creed, "Higher"
Comic strip: today's Peanuts classic

How can you not be in a good mood with that combo? I'll decide after an 11 a.m. meeting whether to bitch about work. Probably not worth it.
Nothing good can come of this
Possible workplace bitching to ensue.

Monday, August 12, 2002

Baseball Announcer Geekery
This thread is up my alley. Wow, now I'm imagining a middle-aged Lon Simmons and a young Al Michaels in the same booth. I guess most of you reading this have no idea who Lon Simmons is but you know Al.

The best way to describe Kuiper and Krukow is that they're what Ken "Hawk" Harrelson (White Sox TV) and random ex-jock would be if Harrelson had a top-notch partner and weren't a self-parody.
Satire Wire is back
Another way to tell if you're vaguely like me: You found this article amusing.

As for this one, I've been there but I actually don't mind the "cheating" motorcycles that much. I always just thought they had the right to do that. Well, at least the privilege. Cars in the emergency lane, though, that's a big ol' peeve.
Songs that start out sounding like they'll rock, but just don't:
Billy Ocean, Loverboy
Phil Collins, Another Day In Paradise (live version)
Been There Done That
A funny thing happens to me a lot: I'll run into particular design problems (at work, or dilemmas in life generally) slightly earlier than other people run into the same problem. I'll think about a given problem for a bit, come up with what seems like a reasonable solution, implement it, and then by the time other people understand what the original problem had been, I lose track of what my reasoning was for a given solution.

Sometimes people are surprised to find that I'd already thought of a given problem and accounted for it. Sometimes I surprise myself when a seemingly sketchy design actually cleverly (more like, fortuitously) solves some problem that a cleaner design actually can't easily solve.
QOTD
I expect the effect on the B's to be minimal.
--last line of a post by a Simbase owner, announcing his engagement (which became official during the draft that he was missing).

Congratulations, Lev! (I bet he doesn't read this.)
Maybe they've been migraines all this time?
Every now and then I'll wake up with a splitting headache. Not just your garden variety throbbing but a jackhammer, a Gotterdamerung, a hangover raised by an order of magnitude. Sounds like an exaggeration, and in hindsight that's what I always think of it as, just assuming I have a low threshold of pain. At the time, though... three things come to mind:
1. Must get Excedrin now.
2. Must lie still until the pain goes away.
3. Must sleep.

It's that third part, combined with my getting these only right when I wake up, that always made me think, "oh I just stayed up too late." Some day I'd settle on a reasonable person's sleep schedule and the headaches would go away, with the loss of late nights a small price to pay.

The dreams I have when I've woken up, felt the death-warmed-over pain, taken a few pills, and fallen back asleep -- those dreams are an absolute trip. I've never done recreational drugs in my life but I can only imagine the hallucinations you get from the hardcore stuff are pretty similar to what goes on in my fighting-off-a-headache dreams.

Would you have come in today if you were me? I'm very self-critical about this point, since a habit of lateness seems like total disrespect for one's colleagues. (And weblogging isn't?) On the other hand, I do have plenty to do today, things that are relatively time-sensitive and present a potential big reward for the company.

By the way, if you're as accustomed to Excedrin as I am, then Ibuprofin does almost nothing.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

My most stressful online day in years...
Okay, YOU try taking part in both a fantasy football draft and an imaginary baseball draft from a machine that can't hit Internet sites. I could use AOL Instant Messenger or SSH. As for Internet connectivity, that was it. Tracert always failed on about the same proxy server.

And then just as suddenly, hours later (minutes after a span when I couldn't even use AIM), it all came back. Now it comes back.

It would have been really nice to do work (or better yet write questions, which is what I did plan to do) instead of sitting twiddling my thumbs between draft picks.