Saturday, May 28, 2005

Three Day Weekend

Man, I was ready for the time off. It was funny, I was interviewing a guy on the phone Friday evening, I was asking him did he want to stay technical or did he want to be a manager? He replied, all the developers he knew who had moved into management were totally bored and frustrated, so he thought he would stay technical. Amen, brother! 100 e-mails a day, with conference calls, meetings, planning documents, is just so damn boring. I miss softwareland so much. You lose yourself so completely in the code, it is so zen. It's definitely too bad that senior management pays so much more :-(

Finally read a Charles Stross novel that was totally up to the potential of his short stories, "The Atrocity Archives". It's short, only 180 pages, with another 60 page piece with the same characters following. It's basically Dilbert meets H.P. Lovecraft. The portrayal of corporate life is so over the top, it is a great read, but pretty geeky. Man, the introduction to this said that after years of trying, his books are all getting published now, it appears to be definitely true. I have another new one of his on the shelf, just went to Amazon, there is another new novel of his out and another coming in July.

Downloaded the new Wallflowers, "Rebel, Sweetheart". Very listenable, 3 stars. Listening to "Shaman", by Carlos Santana, as I write. The followup, in the same format, to the excellent "Supernatural". I had heard/read it wasn't as good, but I am enjoying it a lot, probably 4 stars.

Blogged a while ago about the uniqueness of oxygen in the scheme of life. Last month's Scientific American had an article on suspended animation that said that in the pre-oxygen years, H2S, hydrogen sulphide, took the place of oxygen. H2S seems like it would take the place of water, but I guess not. Anyway, H2S seems to induce a hibernation state in lab animals ...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A Letter to the Editor

So, I got a call on my cell phone at the office yesterday verifying I had written the letter to the editor. After 2 weeks, I figure they had had enough of that. They printed "it" this morning. I say "it" because "it" was edited to about 2/3 of its original size. All the vitriole was gone -- I was in high flame mode when I wrote it. Plus, the meaning changed. The first phrase became "After smearing John Kerry" -- it could at least have been "After smearing John Kerry's war record". It was the last one, looked basically they needed a little filler, content be damned.

So, I don't think I will repeat that exercise. I got a call in 1999 from one of the Herald-Leader's business writers asking me to comment on Y2K. I told the guy, I am not doing the kind of work where it will affect me much, here's a couple of people you can call who know much more about it. I made a couple of offhand comments about Y2K, told the guy I was absolutely no expert on it. Then, the next Business Monday, there I am quoted?!?!?

I have been quoted in computer trades a few times. Each time, they interviewed me, then called back a day or two later and said, "Let me read you what I have and make sure you're OK with that". I guess I thought that was how journalism worked. Apparently not at the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Insert Snappy Title Here Redux

Still enjoying the Prius. 500 miles on it, averaging 44 mpg. Got 48 going to Louisville and back. Sometimes tho, it's like "stop obsessing and just drive the damn car" -- but I did drive for 10 minutes on a flat narrow country road at 20 mph and it stayed pretty much all electric, ooh, ahh. I have found the touch that keeps the gas off.

No biking for 3 weekends -- cold and rainy. Then, weekend before last, did 30 miles. Last weekend I overdid it. 20 miles to High Bridge. I'd never been there, nice little park, beautiful overlook. Then, brain fart, I decided to take the scenic route home. Total wound up 45.6 miles, 4 hours, 3 stops on the way home. I was almost thinking of calling someone to come get me, but I made it home.

On a more personal note, after noting that I had had multiple drinks all but maybe 3 nights in the last month, I decided to go on the wagon for a while (at least to get my tolerance down). So, 4 days, don't notice much difference. Still bored.

Finished "Guns, Germs, and Steel", the 2nd Jared Diamond I have read. I think I liked "The Third Chimpanzee" a little better, moderate duplication here, still lots of FFTKAT:

  • Basic premise: primarily geographic accidents determined which continents and peoples got started first, with the things needed to develop civilization, such that they then kicked the other peoples asses when they ran into them later.
  • The fertile crescent with its Mediterranean climate was the perfect place on earth for plant domestication (crops and farming) to begin. Also, out of 14 total large mammals domesticated by humans (it's hard), 9 were in Eurasia, including all of the big 5 (pigs, goats, sheep, cows, horses).
  • Farming => population density => specialized classes in society => states => writing => technology => ass kickers.
  • "Greatest surprise in human history" -- Madagascar was colonized in 500 AD by Austronesians from Borneo, 4000 miles away!
  • I had read elsewhere and forgotten, 1st alphabetic (as opposed to ideographic or syllabic) written language was Semitic/Hebrew, and all other written alphabets came from there.
  • 1st alphabetic Greek inscription, from 740 BC: "Whoever of all dancers performs most nimbly will win this vase as a prize." -- so, 1st prize in a dance contest.
  • 2nd alphabetic Greek inscription: "I am Nestor's delicious drinking cup. Whoever drinks from this cup swiftly will the desire of fair-crowned Aphrodite sieze him." -- true historical import, the discovery of beer goggles! I had no idea history was so much fun!
  • The book finishes with, History as a Science, instead of a collection of random facts. Good stuff.
Music wise, got the new Ben Folds, "Songs for Silverman", very good, 4 stars. Got the new Aimee Mann, "The Forgotten Arm", OK, I may like it better as I listen more, 3 stars. Got the new Dave Matthews, "Stand Up". Track 11, "Stolen Away on 55th and 3rd" was the 1st song in years that I listened to and immediately said, I've got to hear that again. So, I've listened to it about 30 times in the last week. Totally memetic hook, no chorus, no bridge, 6 notes in the verse (1 alternate), 10-12 lines of words repeated hypnotically for 4:16. 4 Stars for "Stand up", 5 for track 11.

My youngest also left me "Funeral", by The Arcade Fire. Very nice, peppy British punk, kind of like The Kinks in places, almost 4 stars, 3 for now, may get upgraded. Wow, just read a review at Barnes & Noble, its about deaths of family members and post-apocalyptic stuff. I guess I missed that part ...