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Showing posts from 2004
Muhahahaha....The .Net Passport is dying.

Of course it is...it's the deafening answer to a question nobody asked.
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Lots of randomness today:


Something irks me about "The Western Whitehouse," George Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. The man's the leader of the free world and commander of the most powerful army the world has ever known, but he's still AN ELECTED OFFICIAL. We the people pay his salary, and he has a nice place to live near that's in proximity to the rest of the government...the ACTUAL whitehouse.

(Pic taken at the aforementioned WWW:)


It just struck me last night how haughty this man is that he could, by fiat, designate HIS OWN HOUSE as the adjunct seat of the American executive Branch. Is it too much to ask a guy to do his job in the traditional way?


Consider: Phantom of the Opera (the movie version). Visually lush, the movie delights the eyes, especially the stunning transition from B&W to color as the chandelier resurrects itself and arises to the heavens. Unfortunately, Phantom falls flat, as none of these people can actually SING! How do you ha…
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Ahh yes, this is what my GTO looks like in Australia.
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Check out this snazzy bluetooth headset Whitney got me for Christmas:



Works really well so far...I'm talking to Whitney, and my phone is across the room, plugged into its charger.
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Requiem for a Gladiator:

Reggie,
Ambassador
Father
Minister
Competitor
Man

You shall be missed, #92. God be with you.

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Images of my Christmas 2004

The GTO's freshly washed and put away, the MINI's loaded with winter clothes and shod with Dunlop snow tires, and I've padded my midsection with fruitcake.

Winter, do your worst!
Geeze, it's cold out there this morning...7 deg F on the MINI thermometer.

Driving the Pup after a weekend in the GTO is a study in contrasts: The clutch effort in a MINI is non-existent, making it a much better friend in dense traffic, and the much-maligned British Midlands 5-speed is like silk compared to the 6-speed Tremec in the GTO. And it's SO easy to blip the throttle for a perfect heel-and-toe downshift in a MINI.

The Pup's 1000 lbs lighter than the GTO, but it feels even more than that. And, gotta love those heated seats!

One caveat: Going from a 6-speed to a 5-speed can be a problem. All the way right and down is 6th gear in the GTO. It's REVERSE in the MINI. Not something you want to find-out going 45 mph :-(
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Finally some pics of the New GTO, salt encrusted though it was after my travels this weekend.



Went down to Jackson to do some computer work for the library, and to show-off the new car. It was a magnificent ride down, and only a little scary during the snow bursts we saw today on the way back.

The car already has over 900 miles on the odometer, and it's averaging around 20mpg on the highway on 87-octane gas.
:-) Here's the Vortex Thread that got me to buy the GTO.

3 guys (maybe 4) got GTOs out of the deal, but Gateway, the thread originator, didn't pull the trigger.

Lots of good GTO pics in the thread. :-)
Serenity NOW!

>>sigh<<

Okay, when you're going on vacation there are certain things you don't do:
-- don't break the build. This is the prime directive, because if you're gone, you can't fix it.

-- don't lock half the libraries in the project just so you know no one (Harold!) can change them on you. This is the "this code is mine damnit" syndrome.


I'm hung-out-to-dry today, and I don't know whether to laugh or cry. My parter on this project is out until Monday, and she screwed-up our library system royally. The only workable version of our component is on her system, and I have no way to get to it other than calling her cellphone and asking her for her system password. She didn't check-it-in to our code library, so I can't do any of the work assigned to me.

Yike.
Learned something on my way to South Lexington to pick up my office-mate Patrick: Don't try to ease into the throttle while your shifting the GTO. Clutch-in, shift, and STAY THE FREAK AWAY FROM THE THROTTLE until after you're in the next gear.

I had the poor car (still searching for a nickname..."Goat" is the traditional name for a GTO, and Big Blue is Robin's car's name...we'll see what pans-out) bucking like a bronco in traffic just shifting through 1-2-3. Once I stayed away from the throttle all driveline lash ceased.

* * *

Today's the day of the yearly Holiday potluck for my area. Everyone brings a dish and we all pig-out from 11-1. Usually some good ethnic food, thanks to all our Chinese, Filipino, Indian, and Japanese workers. They get to sample my ultimate taste of Kentucky--Maker's Mark bourbon brownies, made with a new recipie Whitney found on the Marker's Mark website.
What can I say? I found a 2004 GTO for a steal this morning at 9:30, and by 12, I had signed the papers, traded-off my Chevy Silverado, and powered down the road in a Kentucky-Blue Pontiac that could take-on anyone.

The seats are amazingly comfortable, the 350hp LS2 is both smooth and menacing, and the transmission is chunky and satisfying. The car feels brutish and blunt--it's all force and no apologies. No wussy cylinder deactivation...if you keep your foot in it, this thing's good for 158mph and 6mpg

The car stickered at $33k, but there was a red-tag sticker on the doorjam that had it at $24,990, which was lower than my target price from last night, even before I started to haggle. Why can car-buying be like this all the time? How much does the darn thing COST?

Seriously, I took one look at the color of the car, and fell in love...it's a metallic blue color that's just like Kentucky blue. The test drive was lengthy and representative--the car drives small, and…
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Why OH WHY do I read The 'Tex? I mean, all it does is give me car fever, something fierce...

So, here's the deal...Pontiac brought the GTO back to America for 2004, and priced them right out of the market at $31k. This is roughly the same price as a Chrysler 300C.

Pics:

GTO:


300C:


Anyway, for $32k, I'm buying the Chrysler, no question.

...but the plot thickens...

After the inital hype died, Pontiac couldn't give away the GTO. Styling was somewhat bland, and the 6-speed got panned for being vague, but the essentials were there: 350hp V-8 engine, manual tranny, independent rear suspension, and room for 4 people. GM's stepping up to the plate, adding some "visual excitement" to the styling, and plopping-in the 400hp v-8 from the Z06 corvette

...which leaves a problem...what to do with the 2004 models languishing on dealer lots. GM has slapped $5500 of rebates on the vehicle, and combined with an invoice price of $29k for a manual tranny GTO and you c…
I hate our firmware guys
I hate our firmware guys
I hate our firmware guys
I hate our firmware guys
I hate our firmware guys
I hate our firmware guys

I'm not letting this ruin my day or anything (it's almost over, come hell or high water), but things like this get on my nerves: Firmware and us agreed upon the behavior of our protocol 2 MONTHS AGO, and now it comes-out that both sides misunderstood the requirements.

So do they have to change? "Well, we can go ask our manager for permission to bail you guys out, but you guys do it because it's easier for you." They don't have to change, because the lot of them is going on vacation tomorrow until after the 1st of the year.

Frigging Code Cowboys.

[end rant]
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Pics from the MINI Christmas part last night:

Pics

We arrived 45 mins late to the party with 8 MINIs there, total. Brad and Raecarol Ennis hosted the party in their pretty house in an affluent neighborhood. Most of the partygoers were families, and all the kids loved Brad's downstairs full of toys.

The only bad part of the night is it REALLY has me wanting a MINI Cooper S, especially after hearing that the new 'Hyper Blue' color is just like the the old Indi-Blue. Priced-one-out, and it'd be $24k, which would be about $10k over what I could get for my MINI. >>Sigh<<
Watched The Whole Ten Yards up at Whitney's on Saturday night. It's embarrasingly bad, as neither the plot nor characters make any sense. There were maybe two or three funny lines in the whole movie.

When I was about 11, my Dad and I were laying-out sticks in the field for the forthcoming tobacco harvest. I looked at the whole task, the number of rows, and the number of sticks. I told Dad, "We'll never get this done!"

"Don't look at the rows ahead, just the row you're on, son. We'll get done."

And we did.

* * *

When I'm having days like today, it feels good to remember that.
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If nothing else will convince you, Allison Krauss's voice will assure you there's a God. Nothing so pure, sweet, and perfect could come about by accident.



Whitney and I went to The Louisville Palace last night for a performance of Allison Krauss and Union Station at 7:30. Being the last night of their two-night engagement at the Palace, the band was relaxed and playful, taking the audience through a setlist that ranged from haunting ballads to hard-thrumming bluegrass to more contemporary Country, mixing light banter and anecdotes along the way.

Jerry Douglass lent his signature Dobro to the rest of Union Station, made up of Allison doing both vocals and fiddle; Dan Tyminski on vocal, mandolin, and guitar; Ron Block on Banjo and Guitar; and Barry Bales on Bass. Their sound is tight and well-rehearsed, but retains the improvisational flair and virtuosity that keeps me coming back. Douglass is peerless on the Dobro, having redefined the instrument's modern sound, and both B…
Great entry
over on Josh's Blog about how my puny hometown made it into the New York times as a counterpoint to New York's education reform efforts.

I'm one of the few people who liked KERA, but then again, I like to write. I feel KERA works well, if applied to students from 7th grade onwards (as it was with me) by teachers who are motivated. Unfortunately, the teachers from my hometown are lazy and complacent, with those who believed in students and their education moving "up the hill" to the now-bankrupt Independent city school.

Seriously, my idea for education is this:
* learn traditionally throughout grade school. KERA doesn't work if you can't form a sentence, let alone a paragraph. Furthermore, certain skills like arithmetic and spelling lend themselves to rote and repetition. For all the complaints about how bad our educational system was, I would've put my 3rd grade class from Mrs. Dora Holbrook up against anyone doing spelling, readi…
So, today at work pretty much stinks. I missed my 9am meeting, I'm basically relegated to doing garbage-cleanup work on the codebase 12 hours a day for the next month (Merry Christmas everyone!), but this video brought a smile to my face:

video (right click->Save Target As)

It's Gilles Villenueve vs Rene Arnoux back when Forumla 1 was real racing, not technological overkill.
This makes 12 hours at work (and counting), and I've been up since 5. Yike.
I get the blessing of a quiet weekend after what's been a hectic week at work. Thank you, Lord!

Whitney invited me to her office Christmas party at the Gault house, and it was decent, if a tad boring. We arrived fashionably late (halfway through cocktail hour), and we sat with Whitney's boss and CEO, both women, and their husbands, as well as David and Anne, a great couple from WV who've just had a baby girl this past year.

The evening was okay. The food was great, the service was attentive, and the conversation was...umm...okay, not to my taste, but bearable. Then the entertainment began with the emcee and his partern beginning a LOOOONG party game involving each table of 7-10 people acting as a 'team', playing trivia. The game dragged-on for two hours, intermixed with Christmas bonuses and door prizes, finally ending with dancing, but by then I was pretty much pooped.

Whitney and I danced for about 20 minutes, then decided to leave.
Take the quiz: "How much road rage do you have?"

Display more anger than half.
Well, I'm not exactly proud. But, at least there are more people who display more road rage than yourself. You may get angry at most drivers, but you aren't a psycho who does drive by shootings.

There's an emergency project at work that I've been pulled off to work on. It means long days and maybe weekends from now until after the first of the year (Bah-humbug).

Yay.
I'm rarely shaken by a movie, but Requiem for a Dream was unforgettable. A window into the life of four junkies, it gave me a new appreciation for how much Hell can exist on earth.
Quote for the day:

"Nothing beats my S-10. It's been to hell and back so many times it gets Christmas cards from Satan."

Taken from a thread about cars that won't die.
Random thought about Dwight's sermon today:

As he discussed Ephesian's 3:25-32, Dwight interjected something interesting. It seems Europe is being overrun by Muslims.

This brings-up the defining conflict of the early 21st century: Fundamentalist Islam versus the Secularist Europe and America.

What is the endgame here? Western civilization wants to assimilate the rest of the world (minus the Chinese/S.E. Asian block), but what's the Muslim game here? Western (especially European) thought is secular, and so can co-exist with Muslim nations. Muslim thought is more fundamentalist, so co-existence seems impossible.
I'm reminded of Frank Herbert's book, Dune, where the fundamentalist Fremen can overtake the empire because they control the essential resource--the Spice. This situation seems similar


I suppose the greatest juxaposition here is the Muslims, who refuse to assimilate, versus the Secularist Europeans, who stand for precisely nothing. Christianity has meant…
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I'm struggling with this latest technical book I'm reading, J2EE Development without EJB



Basically, it's hard to digest, with lots of high-level enterprise construction pieces, but not much to hang it on. I've never built applications the way the author has for the past 5 years, so things he finds as a matter of course, I don't intuitively understand.

I'm blogging about it, basically so I can try to synthesize what I've read in the book so far.

Enterprise applications usually have three layers (or "tiers"):

At the bottom, there's the data, usually stored in high-performance relational databases like Oracle, SQL Server, or several open-source alternatives. More often than not, these systems can be legacy datastores that the business has used for years or decades. For instance, imagine the reservation system for an airline
At the top level, there's the interface to the user. Often, this is a website accessed via a regular web-browser. A g…
I love coffee, football, and having a lazy Sunday :-)

And naps.
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Without fail, this is always the time of year when I go:

"Why isn't the girl-next-door Donna Reid?"



Yup...I'm watching It's a Wonderful Life
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Josh, take note: I finished a Dave Barry book, Boogers are my Beat



It's a bit of fluff, but militantly so: Barry sets us straight at the beginning that he sometimes does journalism, sometimes does reality, but most often prefers the hilariously mundane. His columns about his Miami-fried hide landing in Grank Lakes, North Dakota during January had me laughing for minutes at a time.

Still he can be serious: His essay about Flight 93 was worth the price of the book alone.

Looks like a long string of technical books for me from now on. :-(
Pretty decent discussion on Slashdot today about metaphors for software development. One of the more cogent posts:


Frankly, I always hated the whole cathedral vs bazaar metaphor. I don't think it portrays well the virtues and faults of open source and proprietary software. I use proprietary software (MacOS + some closed apps) for the same reason I prefer to "dine out" rather than cook my own meals. I just want to choose something delicious from the restaurant's menu - and I don't care that my choices are limited. Yes, if you cook in your own kitchen, you can customize you meal the way you like it - as it is with open source software. But this will consume you a lot of time and effort, so most people would rather avoid it - unless they really enjoy cooking, have really to much spare time or are really short on cash. It's similar with Free Software - you use it if you really like to 'tinker' with everything or are really short on cash. But if you don&#…
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Useless, yet fun quiz that probably has spyware attached (Firefox users should be fine):

Do I have a clothing personality?

This is the question I asked myself at 10:30 last night after reading another chapter in my Organization For Dummies book, this one about closets + wardrobe. Granted, most of the stuff was over my head: "For all your ready to wear clothes, don't wash them too often, and avoid leaving clothes in the dryer, as they will wrinkle". Okay, but what's all this "ready to wear" stuff. Who has clothes that you CAN'T WEAR?

The kicker for me was this phrase: "Go through your closet and ask yourself 'Does this piece really fit my clothing personality'?"

Now, I'm a big fan of jargon and neologisms, but 'clothing personality'? Is my clothing personality an introvert? Extroverted? Psychopathic? Fond of plaid? Squeamish around children and the stains they cause? (Probably)

[end bad Dave Barry-esque riffing]

As my darling said (translating the obvious womanspeak of it all), it means "Will this l…
I've changed my opinion on the type-A, feminazi organization-or-die book I bought last weekend. In addition to a few gems of organization Zen ("Get a morning routine. That way, you won't be doing things willy-nilly". Thanks!), it's providing many useful Blog topics.

Such as: Why I'm glad I don't wear makeup. Or why I'm glad I'm a man, in general.

There's a chapter in the book about organizing your bathroom. There's another chapter about organizing your purse. Most of the former and all of the latter deal with one subject--makeup.

Here's my requirements for a good morning experience:

Brush teeth
Shower
Shave
Put contacts in
Dress
Leave


A woman, to all the above, must add some Picasso-like adornment of their face with foundation, mascara, lipstick, lipgloss, powder, eyeliner, lipliner, concealer, and God knows what else. Is this a one time deal? NO! The woman must somehow carry a miniture stockpile of all the above WITH HER throughou…
Random thought I had while walking to the coffemaker: Socialism and American Capitalism are converging.

Think about it: The central tenet of Socialism is public ownership of the Means of Production. In modern America, most workers own stock in companies (via their 401(k), etc.), so in essence, the workers (the public) do own the means of production.

Now, granted, in our system, the top 1% of the bougeoisie never have to work a day in their lives (Paris Hilton?), but yet own most of the means of production by way of their influence on corporations as shareholders.

Still yet, in a roundabout way, we the workers in this capitalist paradise make it more indirectly socialist every time we contribute to our 401(k), Roth IRA, or individual investments.

Irony. :-)
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Coupla pics from my birthday two weekends ago:

The cake (Icing and decoration courtesy of my Darling)


The really awesome quilt hanger that Whitney got for me:
Well, crap. There goes Colin Powell

I have no way of knowing, of course, but I believe C.P. hs been the only one preventing massinve "group think" inside the Whitehouse. He was a voice of dissent on the invasion of Iraq, and he's the only one in the Bush high command with real international and military experience (Dubya's non-appearance at Nat'l Guard training notwithstanding).

He'll be missed.
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Gadgets, gadgets, gadgets...



Well, I made it a whole two hours before going and buying myself that Zire 21 at Staples. I've liked PalmPilots since '99, and I think I'll like this latest incarnation very much. It's extremely basic, but that's fine with me. It imported all my information from my powerbook tonight with only a little tweaking.

Great...my employer is now installing Spyware to track people's printing. Yikes.
A Weekend Retrospective.

I walked in this morning, roughly on time for my 7:30 video conference with India only to recall...there IS NO video conference with India. Que sera sera...they're having their Diwali Festival, and are out of the office until tomorrow.

Anyway, my weekend:

Friday night, I got the Pup out of the garage after its two week repose for my trip to Louisville to see Whitney and Joey. After driving the truck for so long, it took a few minutes to adjust to the size, power (or lack therof), and nimbleness of my MINI, though I did notice on the trip up there that it had developed a pull to the right.

Someone trashed Whitney's car, so on Saturday morning, I did livery duty, shuttling them to the Pediatrician's office. We had lunch with Whitney's sister, whose made a miraculous recovery, and then dinner at her place--delicious chicken soup.

Sunday was church, lunch, a nap, and a drive home for me. Finally got to talk to Joe, which was awesome. No "D…
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Got back on the Book-reading bandwagon the past few days, this time with a technical slant:

Pattern Hatching: Design Patterns Applied

This book is sort of a meta-meta-patterns book, that is it's a book about a book about patterns. You see, computer software is a science of building abstractions; at the lowest level, computers execute a series of instructions, one after another, at blazing speed. If you group these instructions together from start to finish with one purpose, you have an algorithm. If you factor-out common parts of several agorithms, you have subroutines, functions, or procedures. At this point, you're two "levels of abstraction" away from the way the computer actually works.

The human brain can only hold so much information, and for a programmer to write a program, he needs to keep a significant amount of the program in his head at one time. So, like physicists or cosmologists trying to understand the universe, we must develop more and more elab…
On Having Unscheduled Time

Today, I had no schedule. That is, I discarded all things I had scheduled (Autocross, etc.) and just existed. I slept-in. I ate cake for breakfast. I wished my lovely a good trip back to Louisville, then I embarked on a little TLC for Big Red, my Chevy Silverado.

Big Red has 113,000 miles, and hadn't had an oil change since its mid-life overhaul in May. It takes 6 quarts of 5w-30 to fill the crankcase of the 4.8L V-8, and I purchased a case of Valvoline yesterday, resolving that I wasn't going to pay $48 for an oil change at the speedy-change place. I have the tools; why not do it myself?

*** Random thought: Given that this truck has a 25 gallon gas tank, it costs less to change the oil at Valvoline Instant Oil change than it does to fill the tank with 87 Octane. Go figure ***

Well, after a useless trip to Walmart, a run to Advance auto parts (needed an oil filter cap wrench...), and a return trip to Advance to dump the oil and buy some Turt…
Why Bush Won

Say what you like—that at least Bush finally got elected, that the Red Sox swept the World Series because Kerry had to borrow the curse, that America deserves what it gets—but, in my humble opinion, this perceived American crisis of masculinity is the real cause of what happened November 2. Like watching action movies or professional sports, participating in the Bush victory was a psychic restorative, giving back some semblance of a sense of manly honor that has been stolen away by time clocks, Dr. Phil, and Zoloft. Bush's message speaks directly to the heart of the emasculated modern man: stick with me, and we'll stand tall, provide for our families, and kick terrorist ass.


Interesting.
Random, utterly useless tidbit: After trying this past season every weekend to find the perfect tire pressure combination for autocross bliss in a MINI, I found it in my last 4 events, pretty much by accident.

IF you have a MINI Cooper, Sports Suspension, and 15" tires running 205/50R15 Kumho Victoracers, run the rear tires 4psi HIGHER than the fronts, and the car will turn-in marvelously.

If the event is warm to hot (that is, above 50 degrees), run the tires at 44f/47r, adjusting the rears up or down in increments to increase or decrease rotation.

That's pretty much it. There's nothing quite like barrelling towards a hairpin, easing off the throttle in your MINI and feeling the front end tuck-in and the rear take a set that scoots your right around it. Good stuff!
No joke...recent headlines from Slate


Why Kerry Lost
How to move to Canada
Democratic Values: how to Win in the Red Statesli>
Blame it on the Guardian: The international press contemplates 4 more years of Bush


they seem just a little distraught.
The debate du jour on Slashdot: Creationism versus Evolution

Interesting quote:


There's protestant theology in a nutshell. Now, here's where creationism comes in (again, so the argument goes):

If there was no literal first man and woman, then there was no talking snake to tempt them into eating an apple. If that didn't happen, there was no literal fall (the fall had to be by CHOICE, protestants don't accept that God just made humans imperfect from the start). If there was no literal fall, then mankind is not in need of redemption. If there is no need for redemption, there is no need for Christ. This would basically invalidate protestant Christianity.


Never really thought about it this way: Unless there's Original Sin, Jesus was Buddah, basically.

Lively debate, if nothing else.
Ah, I finally have an excuse for having no color distinction compared to women: Some woman have tetrachromatic vision

That's right...in addition to the regular Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) vision that men have, some women with a mutuant gene can perceive 4 channels of color.
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Muhahahahahahaha
Random, cool xhtml based slideshow template. Yep...a slideshow in a browser, no software (*cough*Powerpoint*cough*) required.
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Zardoz

Key learning: When your somewhat-off, reminds-you-of-your-freaky-ex-roomate friend at work says a movie is "kinda weird", don't watch it.

Sean Connery wears a diaper (or sumo garb, take your pick) throughout, and basically the screenwriter creates a vision of "Brave New World" crossed with "A Clockwork Orange".

Definitely some cool moments, but not worth much. Thankfully, with netflix, it's free. :D
Big red now has some new Bilstein shocks, thanks to my father, some air tools, and a little elbow grease. It took us two-and-a-half hours, but knowing what I know now, I could probably do it in about an hour's time.

The jack only slipped once, but we had two jackstands under the frame at the time, so the whole process was injury free, minus some bruised knuckles.

The new shocks firm-up the ride of the truck, but it's not punishing. It just feels more planted and controlled than before.

Stayed the night at their place, catatonically watching the Red Sox complete their sweep of the Cardinals. Bedtime was midnight; morning came too early at 5:30. I made it through some DENSE fog to Lexmark by 8.

* * *

Until next Tuesday, I'm the acting team lead for my product. Stress and lots of typing emails will result, I'm sure. Still, I'm excited...that, along with a new project I get to work on has me "giddy as a schoolgirl"

* * *

No one knows who will win the …
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Pics of our recent MINI-club run to Red River Gorge


Marshall, dear Marshall...if only you'd read this
End-of-time watch, day 2: The Red Sox are ahead 2-0, despite 4 errors in last night's 6-2 win over St. Louis. With Pedro Martinez slated to pitch on Tuesday in St. Louis, the Sox are on track.

* * *

Ahh, the weekend. The MINI rally over to Natural Bridge was fun, if only because I met another guy named 'Harold', who drives a Yellow/Black MCS, a 2002 model he picked-up via the Suzuki dealership he works at. He dented one of his 17" wheels on the way there, so Whitney and I helped-out by donating my MC spare tire (MCS's don't have spares...from the factory, they use run-flat tires). It looked kinda funny, but it seemed to hold-up well.

Anyway, the Red River Gorge was beautiful, probably right at peak color, or may just a little past. First, we had lunch at the Nat'l Bridge Lodge, then we hiked up the 1/2 mile trail to the Bridge. From there, it was into the Gorge proper through the Nada Tunnel, then to Sky Bridge.

The group was a bit more relaxed tha…
Just had a 2 hour meeting cancelled...yay!!

My spirits are riding high today. We had our SCCA club meeting last night, and it was one of our best meetings ever, with 25 members attending. Heard good stories about CENDIV up in Cincy, Scott's travails with his new (old) ZX2, and the wheel that fell off George'n'Dee's motorhome in Maine (Wrong part in the wheel spindle, it turns out).

Waited-around this morning and picked-up my new Bilstein shocks for my truck, and talked to Dad, who quickly agreed to a father/son project for putting them on. :-)

Best of all, after my blow-up yesterday at my office-mate, I have the office to myself, at least this morning. So, the door's closed, the overhead fluorescent lights are off, and I'm looking forward to some productivity.

And I get to see my baby tonight, and go on a MINI outing tomorrow. Isn't it great?!
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Requiem for Alex Kingston, who's leaving ER after 7 seasons.



She's never been one of my favorite characters, but seems she's leaving the show on bad terms, the suits at NBC deciding her character was getting too old and dowdy to attract the 18-35 demographic.

So now, we have the new rock-star wannabe resident. Lovely.
Muhahahaha....the list of Cancelled fall TV shows is growing.
Man, the truck has been making a dent in my pocketbook here lately: First, a new set of tires (see below) that I got installed today at Ashley's wheel and brake.

I had them investigate a noise in the steering. Turns out, I had a bad inner tie rod on the right side, so there's more moolah.

Still, the paint's nice and shiny, and it's nice for tooling around in, plus there's just something intoxicating about a V-8.
Can it be possible that BOSTON will pull it out against the yankees?

As I type this, it's the top of the 9th, one out, and runners at the corners for Boston, with the Sox aheadd 9-3. Aside from a slip in the 7th by Pedro Martinez, Boston has been flawless.

Can it be?
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Ronin

This movie is alot of flash for not much substance, but it's watchable, with Robert DeNiro doing his best Sean Penn impersonation and statuesque eye candy from Natascha McElhone. The car chases are incredible, and make a decent spy thriller exceptional. By the end, nothing seems resolved, save many dead, stereotype characters.
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Bullitt


This Steve McQueen vehicle (pardon the pun) from 1968 is a real bore, featuring an amazing, non-sequitor car chase between a Mustang with a 390 Big Block V-8 and a mean, black Dodge Charger with a big-block 440 V-8. Minus this scene, the movie is unwatchable: Slow, with under-developed characters, the film meanders from one scene to the next, with little flow.

Oh, and the Dodge manages to lose five hubcaps during the chase scene.

Meh.
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Bill, Bill, Bill-san. Glad to see you have such interesting taste in post cards :-)

Something's up: All of first line managers in my department are here at 8am, sharp. I smell presentation to the department head :D

I finally did get some sleep last night, if only 4 hours or so.
As seems to be the norm these days, it's way too late, and I'm way too awake. Somehow in my last two weeks, I've managed to upset my circadian rhythms so that I'm groggy every day at 2pm, and awake each night very late.

I've always joked that I've lived with sleep debt since my Sophomore year in college (didn't sleep for 7 months straight, really), and the results are there--I can fall asleep easily within a minute of going to bed. Well, up until the last two weeks anyway.

I don't know if it's work, the shortening of the days, anxiety, or what, but something is messing with me.

* * *

Work is, well, work. After my prolonged nap this afternoon (yeah, I know...nap late in afternoon == no sleep that night.), I looked at my finances a bit and realized I have a pretty good thing going. Decent job that's not too demanding. Decent benefits. Overall mediocrity.

The world has, what, 6-7 Billion people in it by now? Given that, how can one individu…
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MEAN!

Oh my....never seen such a funny, profane, pissed-of squirrel
Latest Gossip:

Chris Brown is a full-time minster of worship and students at broadway baptist church in lexington.
Geeze...this is a what's known as a slow news day:

Asexuality: It's not just for amoebas anymore

Study links gene to homosexuality

Intellectually, the article is attractive. Gay men inherit a gene that in women causes fruitfulness and in men causes fruitiness.

Does explain the prevalence of homosexuality throughout history, when, logically, such men cannot reproduce and pass-on their genes.

Still, I'd argue there's much more nurture than nature at work here. The distribution of homo/heterosexual men within a given society varies much too widely: In ancient Greece, nearly every wealthy man was wholly or partly homosexual; it was a societal norm. Unless all of their mothers were carrying this 'fruitful' gene, such a skewed distribution points towards learned behavior to me.

Do people have tendencies? Absolutely! However, social mores will determine how those tendencies find express, in all but the most extreme ends of the bell curve.
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:-) So deliciously WRONG:



Ah, the things I could do if I had a Lotus Elise and more money than I know what to do with....
Watching the debate tonight:


"The solution to all our problems is getting people retrained for the jobs of the 21st century."
-- George Bush


You know what? Not everyone needs to be a programmer, or a database administrator, or a .com CEO. Not everyone needs a college diploma. Forcing adults to endure another 4 years of school just for the sake of getting an entry-level job belittles both those unfortunate students and the for-pay institutions that must digest them.

What we DO need is a way for honest high-school graduates to earn a living. The elimination of manufacturing, tradesman jobs, and skilled working-class jobs is killing the middle class.

I'd argue that in order to have a sustainable social and economic structure, we need to plug the ever-widening hole in our skillset. Most of these jobs come from the 19th century or earlier, not the 21st century.
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Well, after sliding SIDEWAYS onto the interstate yesterday in the rain, I have a new set of Yokohama Geolandar's in 245/75R16 headed for Ashley's Wheel and Brake.



should be there either friday or early this coming week.
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Some days you slack, some days you procrastinate. And then, there's today:




Which OS are You?
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Idyllic weekend spent up in Louisville, relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of life. Lovely :)

Watched quite a few movies:

The Girl Next Door


Good, not great flick. All the players are B-list, aside from Elisha Cuthbert, but the story's heartwarming and somewhat interesting. It's an unoriginal rip-off of "Risky Business" in many ways.

Porky's

Ah, the infamous Porky's, the movie that reminds us why we're really glad we're not horny teenagers in 1950's Florida. There is ONE scene that makes this movie watchable: The hilarious sex scene with a young Kim Catrall as Miss "Lassie" Honeywell. Aside from that, this is a diffuse, pointless, anacrhonistic period piece that tries to string together a series of moneyshot vingnettes ("Girls in the shower", "Having Honeywell in the morning", "Boys at the whorehouse", "I'm just a Jew") with the merest hint of a unifying thread. It commits the only un…
Random "Apprentice" complaint:

Okay, so you set-up the only woman with a molecule of leadership skill to fail, then you FIRE HER!?

Disgusting.
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Props to William Randall, Esq. ( a.k.a. Bill-san ) for an awesome postcard with a cool picture of the Buddha of Todaiji Temple in Nara, Japan.

This is the place where an inflammatory blog entry that would've gotten me fired once was.

If this had been an actual emergency, the announcement you just heard would've been followed by official news or instructions. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.
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Quick reactions to the Vice Presidential debate last night:

Edwards: Sharp, smooth, and effective throughout, thought at times he came across as the Southern Snake Oil Salesman. He spoke directly to Cheney, toe to toe, and his closing remarks were moving and they've stayed with me. He scored several blows, particluarly on health care, Iraq, Halliburton, and jobs, but none was a knockout. Honestly, I'd like to live in the America he described, a place of strong middle-class, consensus, health-care, good environment, and progress.

Cheney: Throughout, Cheney was the bitter herbs to Edwards saccharine. His job seemed to be reminding us of just how BAD things were right now in the world, implying that the two Democratic golden boys hadn't a clue about really how to fix it. He didn't scoff nervously the way Bush did in his first debate. Instead, he was measured in his defense of Bush/Cheney policies and in his attacks on the Senatorial voting records of Kerry and …
Book of James in one sentence: "Have some self control, and do God's work".

I don't know why, but I got up this morning with an urge to read the Bible. I made myself some coffee, turned off the radio + tv, and sat down to read whatever struck me. My marker from the last time I was at church was in James, so I began reading this tidy, direct book and it just floored me.

"Desire fully conceived leads to sin, and sin fully conceived leads to death." (James 1:15) Death not of the body, mind you, but of the spirit. This thing--desire--is the thing I struggle with most in my life. Work, cars, food, women...at varying times throughout my life, all have consumed me so much that they've stolen my time away from God. And right now, while I'm not away from Him totally as I've been at times, things are somewhat distant.

And, in general, the man who has self-control has an advantage. If he can back away from his natural instinct, he can get ahead in li…
Great...that annoying Mr. Dyson who invented the vacuum with per-fect suckshion was inspired by the Mini

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Haven't been able to post from work for the past two days...so here goes.

Cool Article on a MINI in a rally

I think they've blocked me from posting to blogger at work...or else blogger is down.

Testing 1...2...3....4...
Rant I saw on slashdot this morning while I tried to avoid thinking about how utterly dead our project is:



What it does meen is I now have a legal basis for beating the cr@p out of the Starbucks clerk when he doesn't understand I just want plain black coffee.

It's worse here in Israel, where the idea of coffee is synonymous with milk. Every time I go somewhere for coffee it's a 5 minuet ordeal, that I am not caffinated enough to deal with.

"Caffe, Shovar, ein Chalav, ein sukar" (Translation: Coffee, black. No milk, no Sugar)

"Espresso".

"Lo Nescafe",(Trans: no instant.)

"Ah Nescafe Latte" (Trans: Oh, you must be wrong, and want Instant coffee mixed with steamed milk)

"LO! Nescafe, im maim cham. Ze Oh." (Trans: No you freaking moron. Put instant coffee in hot water, nothing else!)

"Maim? oh Chalav?" (Trans: No one actually drinks coffee like that here. You want it with milk)

"Look I'm a f@#$ing American. M…
Joe, have a look at this.

Basically, it's Kodak (KODAK!) suing Sun Microsystems over a horribly generic patent they bought from Wang computers back in the 1990's. It also means (depending how you read it) that every software system that uses dynamic-linked libraries, e.g. ALL OF THEM, infringe upon this patent.

Software patents are insanity.
viciously stolen from Fark:


Alabama: Yes, We Have Electricity

Alaska: 11,623 Eskimos Can't Be Wrong!

Arizona: But It's A Dry Heat

Arkansas: Literacy Ain't Everything

California: By 30, Our Women Have More Plastic Than Your Honda

Colorado: If You Don't Ski, Don't Bother

Connecticut: Like Massachusetts, Only The Kennedys Don't Own It Yet

Delaware: We Really Do Like The Chemicals In Our Water

Florida: Ask Us About Our Grandkids

Georgia: We Put The "Fun" In Fundamentalist Extremism

Hawaii: Haka Tiki Mou Sha'ami Leeki Toru (Death To Mainland Scum, But Leave Your Money)

Idaho: More Than Just Potatoes. Well Okay, Not Really, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good

Illinois: Please Don't Pronounce the "S"

Indiana: 2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free

Iowa: We Do Amazing Things With Corn

Kansas: First Of The Rectangle States

Kentucky: Five Million People; Fifteen Last Names

Louisiana: We're Not ALL Drunk Cajun Wackos, But That's Our Tourism Ca…
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Moved to wretch about the latest TV disaster, LAX



It's AWFUL!

It'd be one thing if they played it kitschy like they do on "Las Vegas" (Baywatch in a Casino, table for one?), but they're playing this "drama" like it's CSI or something...

Okay, let's look at the facts:

- Heather Locklear is past her prime, and couldn't act when she was in her prime. And this material is just a bit heavier than "Melrose Place"

- The cool thing about shows like this (CSI, ER, etc.) is they take a naturally interesting situation and reward you with exquisite attention to detail. I know very little about planes, but most of what I've seen on LAX seems ridiculous.

Example: 757 is losing electrical systems one by one, including its radio. They can't land it visually because of a cloud layer at 200 feet. So they send up a 1935-vintage DC-3 WITHOUT IFR INSTRUMENTS to 'guide them in'. Gaa!

* * *

Actually, most of this year's shows seem…
Quote of the YEAR from the past weekend's autocross:

Since when do they invite 15 year old hookers to our events?


Andrew Buck...the man, the myth, the legend.

Incriminating video of Mr. Coleman with said trollops

* * *

This actually reminds me of something I wanted to Blog on: The differences between the three regions of SCCA I attend. Don't worry, this will be to the point, I promise.


Lexington (CKR): A bunch of overgrown frat boys who are out for a good time. Mostly guys fleeing from their wives, jobs, and all responsibility to let it all hang out in their miatas. Laid-back, in general. Wives and gf's only...no groupies.
Louisville (KYR): Fast 'n' the Furious, Kentucky-style. Groupies. An innner circle in the club keeps everyone straight about not acting like idiots around the site.
Cincinnati (CincySCCA): take lexington, add 20 years to average age, subtract the miatas and add high dollar, high power cars galore: Corvettes , Loti, Porsches. Too laid-back:…
Finally watched Tennessee Williams's opus A Streetcar Named Desire. Highly affecting film. I'm calloused to drama these days: It takes an amazing story and great acting to hold my interest for long, because dramas are so darn depressing. I can make an exception.

"Streetcar" was spellbinding. Brando is sheer masculinity, and Vivien Leigh embodies insanity. The movie's not easy to watch, dealing as it does with rough people, obsession, prostitution, insanity, and rape, but it did hold me locked in place, awaiting Blanche's next broken soliloquy and fearing Stanley's next violent act.

There's no one here to root for, except possibly the concept of love itself: Stanley is an ape. He's every legers, brawn-over-brains stereotype of man. Stella is held in his thrall, weak and fleeting. Blanche is a deplorable person--liar, parasite, prostitute--but her wistful paeans to love still pluck that human string that resonates in us all. Still, her ma…
You know what's depressing? Working at something you have no control over whatsoever, really, and realizing part of the way through it, it's not going to work and you should've known better to begin with.

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Drew won...

Dear goodness...make sure this is not the next MINI:

Jennifer / Nakomis shirt on the Jury:

"What happens in Kentucky stays in Kentucky"

:-)

My money's on Cowboy.
Okay, it's a Swedish movie (with subtitles) that describes a budding romance between two lesbian teenagers, but for some reason I love Show Me Love

The film's a grainy wisp of a story, shot hand-held with no budget, but I find both the main characters captivating in their own way: Agnes, the misfit who's a hopeless romantic, and the instensely beautiful, utterly bored Elin.

I guess the film hits home with me because of the way I fell in love with my darling, on a long cold night nearly 5 years ago. We were from two intensely different worlds, destined for two different (yet reconvergent) paths, but I can still remember the shockwave that went through me when she told me she loved me.

No woman before or since ever had a key to my heart the way she did (and still does).

See this movie, even if you hate Sweden, lesbians, and adolescents in general.
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Ahh...the weekend that was:



Saturday had me, Bella, and Mini-man headed down to sunny (VERY sunny) Bardstown ("Barsh-town" in Joey-speak) to the Kentucky bourbon festival. Yup...a whole festival dedicated to the distillation of that nectar known as 'bourbon'.

There were some genuinely cool moments: Sampling the bourbon, enjoying bourbon-marinated pork tenderloin sandwiches for lunch, watching the barrel-rolling contest,



, and watching Joey on his first puke-inducing ride.

more pics

* * *

Sunday meant an early start and a trip down Dixie Highway to Ft. Knox and the autocross.



Autocross was wonderful, and I won!
Me paying the Stupid Tax:

While taking my contacts out last night, I lost the right contact down the drain. Yup, had the water running for no good reason. I figured I'd do this at some point this year...I'm a klutz. Didn't think it'd be this soon, though.

That leaves me with 3 spares for my left eye, but only 1 for my right.

:-) Fun times.

Two Old Folks' Sausage buscuits and two cups of Sumatran later, I'm awake.

My object of lust du jour: The new John Cooper Works Suspension kit, available from MINI USA

Basically, it's a set of coil-over-shock units (springs and shocks in a single package), combined with heightened swaybars. Installing it would may my MINI handle even better than it does now, as well as lowering it the car 1 inch all around.

:-) Only $1100, plus labor at a MINI dealer to install. Yikes.

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This has been probably the best literary week of my life, at least since I left college: I've read two software books and one pure pleasure book, a light football-theme paperback called The Way We Played the Game.



The book describes football in a small Michigan town in 1903, when it really was a deadly game: No pads, no face guards, no hard helmets, no neutral zone, no forward pass. It was a pure running sport, with a few lateral passes thrown-in. People died all the time from internal injuries, concussions, and the game itself was probably the most violent 'sport' since the ancient Greek pankration.

Still, little seems to have changed in the intervening years: High school boys straining to be men, communities that value bloodsport over education or even health, graft, gambling, cheating--all were and still are part of football. The game is simple too violent, intense, and visceral to not have all those parts.

It was a quick, breezy read, based on true events, with d…
Ahh...the weekend.

First, a hand-clap of praise. Bella's sister is better, but by no means is she certainly going to make it. As ever, it's in God's hands.

Lots of driving this weekend, over 500 miles' worth. Moved Bella's parents temporarily into a tenement over in Ashland. Place reeks of cheap cigars and the scuz of years of neglect. It's not in an awful neighborhood, but i still feel for them. Still, as a place to crash, it's okay.

Wish they had a scuzzy car to drive to match the place, though...that gleaming Mazda MPV that's clean sticks out like a sore thumb.

* * *

Had a pretty awesome day today: Got to go horseback riding with Bella, who's a hippophobe in the extreme. Still, she did well, even though her horse didn't always follow the leader so well.

Inside joke: I had a horse named "Lips"!?

Watched a thoroughly depressing martial arts film called Hero



I really wanted to like the movie, but I found it too depressing. …
WOOHOO, I'm published!

Actually, I just contributed some technical feasibility to this; none of the words there are mine.

Still, good to see one's name in lights, even if it is one the Evil Empire's website.
Spent some time reading my private blog this morning, just to review how profane and yet oddly funny I can be when I'm frustrated.

I started blogging during Christmas of 2002-2003, and that blog became my private blog. I cuss a good deal in there, because it's my "vent" place, kinda like my diary. Whereas this blog has my thoughts and dreams, that one has my nightmares--petty jealousies, vitriolic complaints about work and all those there (okay, more vitriolic than the ones in this blog), and me generally shaking my fist at the heavens screaming 'WHY?!'

Reading over there reminded me of just how low I've been at times throughout the past year. Life's never very bland for me--it's either great or awful. Bipolar? Maybe.

* * *

Random: There's ONE comment that the Kerry campaign has made that's struck home with me:


John Kerry can rebuild alliances to help America defeat terrorists across the world with other countries' co-operation. …
"Damn you Hal Mumme!"

This is the attack I caught as moving through my presets on the AM band on the way home tonight. The cause? Kentucky's catastrophic loss last weekend to Louisville in the "Battle for the Governor's Cup", 28-0.

28-nothing

28-ZIP.

Basically, the announcer's assertion after his tirade was that Hal Mumme made the Kentucky fanbase believe that anything that was problematic needed a microwavable, need-it-yesterday solution.

Kentucky's fanbase is fickle and pompus, with a superiority complex that needn't be bothered by 5 losses in the last 6 to the Louisville Cardinals.

Whatever, it'll be a tough year to be a Kentucky fan, at least in football.
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All the nerds (or former nerds) out there read this by Paul Graham, nerd and tech evangelist. (No, it's not programming gobblydygook...READ it!)

I don't particularly like his writing style, nor his edification of the 'nerd' as the proto-adult who misunderstands the endgame known as 'popularity', but his quotable quotes are amazing:


Another reason kids persecute nerds is to make themselves feel better. When you tread water, you lift yourself up by pushing water down. Likewise, in any social hierarchy, people unsure of their own position will try to emphasize it by maltreating those they think rank below. I've read that this is why poor whites in the United States are the group most hostile to blacks.


Very true: White trash *is* the most racist group, because if there's no one below them, what do they have?


Unpopularity is a communicable disease; kids too nice to pick on nerds will still ostracize them in self-defense.

True also. People of uncertain soci…
Brilliant Dilbert-ness:

PHB: "My keyboard is broken. It only types asterisks for passwords."

Dogbert's tech support: "Try changing your password to five asterisks."

(As an aside, I'm impressed our beloved PHB knew that those starry things were 'asterisks'.)

I so don't enjoy coming-in to work these days...same old problems, never fixed, same annoying people I'm forced to deal with. Same team lead who couldn't lead his way out of a bag, but who's emasculated enough by managment just to make sure he can't. Same development processes spread across 10 timezones. Same lousy product with quality that only get worse.

Same office with too much fluorescent light, too much chatter, too many people who ENJOY staying until 10 pm, so that they feel it's necessary to spend three hours a day jawing.

It's a good job, but I'm not doing anything I believe in, I honestly feel management is clueless, and the general worthlessness of it all is killing me. At the base of it, I'm paid an obscene about of money (thank you, Norman Wirzba!) to program a product nobody uses. Well, at least, that nobody LIKES using.

To beat it all, I'm going to have to work very hard 'til at least February just to try to heave the…
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Labor Day:

I'm celebrating Labor Day by doing absolutely no labor. Today or yesterday:



"I did nothing..and it was everything I thought it could be"

Well, nothing is a bit of exaggeration. I've:


Read Joel Spolsky's latest tome on the ins and outs of software development. It's hugely common-sense work written by a gay former Israel paratrooper who moved to this country, graduated from Yale, worked on Microsoft Excel for 3 years, and now runs his own for-profit, closed-source (GASP!) software company in New York.
Played roughly 10 hours of Grand Turismo 3. I used to be addicted to this game and its predecessors, before I acquired a taste for autocross and other non-virtual forms of racing. Still, you can't fault Gt3: It's safe, it's cheap, and it's thrilling, if a huge time vacuum. I started playing yesterday at 7, stopping around 1 am, then playing another 4 hours today. Yikes.
Bought myself some new hiking boots to replace those that crack…
I'm well and truly stuck on this problem, so might as well blog for a sec...

My MINI stinks as a long-distance cruiser (something I do more and more these days, it seems), so I'm coming-up with requirements for an interstate demon:

Must haves:
* Room for 4 adults, plus baggage for two + kids
* Deep overdrive. I don't want to be turning 4k rpm @ 80mph.
* Resonably good handling
* over 25 mpg on REGULAR gas (over 30 would be preferable)
* low insurance costs
* good safety record
* cloth seats

Nice-to-haves:
* manual transmission
* tires that are over 60 in aspect ratio
* color that's easy to keep clean

Yeah, it's an old-man's car. Sue me.
Stuck at work tonight until at least 6:30, so why not blog a bit?

Reality has hit me pretty hard since returning from my vacation...work has been a succession of 10 hour days followed by exhaustion.

Yeah, I know...wah, wah, wah...everyone has to work. I accept that.

Here's the thing: The one thing you fight a losing battle against in software development is entropy. No matter how brilliant the inital design, if you keep adding things to a given system, eventually you must throw the whole thing out. It's sheer thermodynamics--systems tend to move from order to disorder. As you get further and further down that slide, it requires more and more effort to maintain the status quo.

So, that's where I'm stuck. We've change a few small things in our software concerning how it's built, moving from the older nmake utility, which is better suited to compiling C and C++, to the snazzy new Ant tool, which is better for Java projects. It's been a very positive com…
If you're on broadband, here's a 10 meg Quicktime of our trip:

Movie
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travelogue
i've gotten ahead of myself, as usual, delving into the specific without giving my reader the outline. Our trip's framework:

Wednesday the 25th
We left Louisville in my MINI for our non-stop flight out of Indianapolis. Whitney's a bad flyer even under the best of circumstances, but her months of nightmares about our doom on our flight to Denver had her on a razor's edge the whole day. Two hops to Tampa earlier in the year had nearly undone her, so I found a non-stop flight to Denver on upstart Frontier airlines. A discount carrier like Southwest or JetBlue, Frontier has new Airbus A318/319 planes with only coach-class seats. I was only impressed with their service, professionalism, and price.

Anyway, our flight left out at 2:10 Indianapolis time. Indy doesn't follow Daylight Savings time, so we had an extra hour to kill. We had some lunch at the TGI Friday's on the concourse, then made it through security just in time for boarding.

We flew over …