March 2005 Archives

On the road around 10am. Stopped for incredibly bad lunch at Jersey Turnpike rest stop. Into NYC around 3pm. Got sorted into the room, and then around 5pm headed out for some wandering around. We eventually figured out that TheWife and I had both eaten at an Irish bar just south of the park (Kennedy’s) on previous solo visits, and decided that we’d have dinner there together for once.

More walking around after that. Bought a mouse at CompUSA, because my trackpad was acting slightly flaky. Of course, once we got back to the room it was fine.

Down to the hotel bar for a drink while TheWife got TheChild down to sleep. Ended up dropping close to $25 for a Scotch — and just 18yo Glenmorangie, not anything particularly special. Long conversation with the bartender about the hotel owners jacking up prices and how stupid that was. Probably won’t be visiting the hotel bar any more this trip…

Back to the room to watch a couple DVDs on the laptop with TheWife, then bed.

Mad, mad day. Meeting with local Intel reps in the morning, big lunch outing for a co-worker who is leaving to go work for a startup (how 1999!), and a constant backdrop of trying to catchup on mail and fob work off on delegate things to other people, since I’m going to be done almost all of next week.

Met the family for dinner after work, then home for adventures in packing.

The Genehack Traveling Road Show and Menagerie of Delights is going to be in the Big Apple this weekend and early next week. Anybody interested in getting together for coffee, beer, and/or general conversation, drop me a line at one of the usual places and we’ll see if we can’t hook up.

Nice geek lunch today. Afterwards, on the walk back to work, I made peace with the reality that I’m not going to get done with the stuff I was trying to finish before my time off next week. In the long term, I’m probably going to end up regretting that, but in the short term, there’s just no way the stuff is going to be done.

On a totally different note, TheWife took the cats to the vet this morning; somebody has been throwing up rather a lot. The vet determined that it was TheBoyCat; he was apparently rather dehydrated, although they couldn’t find anything obviously wrong with him. He ended up spending the whole day at the vet’s, due to an unfortunately timed bout of throwing up (while in the carrier waiting to come back home). After seeing the blood work, the vet ruled “pancreatitis — maybe”, and dinged us for half a gigabuck. (yowza!) TheBoyKitty is now back home and acting like he can’t understand what all the fuss is about…

The Sisyphus imitation continues: lots of effort, little forward progress. But the hours mount up…

It has recently come to me attention that there are people in the world who have not yet seen the absolutely incredible PostSecret. If you are one of those poor souls, you should stop what you’re doing right away and go look at it.

Thank you, that is all.

Not a happy work day. I have some stuff I need to get done in the near-term, and I keep getting interrupted for one thing or another, preventing me from making any forward progress on it. whinge, whinge

In the positive news section, dropped off a homework set on the way home, which ends my teaching involvement for this semester, and arrived home to find the paycheck for last spring’s teaching. I think a chunk of that is going to morph into a Mini, which will replace the aging, wheezy, cast-off whitebox as the living room computer (aka, TheChild’s computer).

You know Charles Darwin has a posse, baby.

Until I saw this dKos entry, I hadn’t realized that there was an anti-gay marriage initiative coming up in Kansas in a few weeks. I’m not quite as surprised as the poster about the way the polling is going — there’s a pretty strong mind-your-own-business streak in most of the Kansans I’m familiar with.

Decided that the second day of spring was as good a time for the Spring Yak Shaving Day as any.

Ass-breaking day at work. Kept trying to dig myself out of the hole I was in, and kept pulling clods of dirt down onto head instead. Hopefully not a sign of how the week is going to go…

The propeller-heads in the audience will already know that Yahoo! has bought Flickr. I recently bought a pro-level account on Flickr and started funneling all my pictures through there, so I hope that the acquisition really does work out the way the Flickr people are saying it will. I really like the services they offer, and I’d hate to see the site start to suck.

If you haven’t already found them, here are my photos. If you’re a Flickrist, drop a line and I’ll add you as a contact — especially if you’re a friend or a family member that got overlooked during the recent sending of Flickr invites that we did. Some of the stuff that gets uploaded to Flickr is tagged as ‘friends and family only’ — it’s pretty much like the stuff that’s public, only less focused.

Another no-work-email mostly-laid-back sort of day. Read a book — actually, two books, as it was an book club omnibus edition. Caught up on my neglected home inbox. Graded some papers. Had a long talk with a gradual school friend who is planning some major life changes. All in all, a good day.

Words fail me on this one. Luckily, they don’t fail everybody. I think the best thing I’ve read on this has been from Digby (seen all over the place). Since I’ve been struck dumb by outrage, I’ll just quote extensively:

By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient’s family’s wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother’s wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday. Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country. Those of us who read liberal blogs also understand that that the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo’s care thus far. Those of us who read liberal blogs are aware that the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo’s because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming. And those of us who read liberal blogs also know that this grandstanding by the congress is a purely political move designed to appease the religious right and that the legal maneuverings being employed would be anathema to any true small government conservative. Those who don’t read liberal blogs, on the other hand, are seeing a spectacle on television in which the news anchors repeatedly say that the congress is “stepping in to save Terry Schiavo” mimicking the unctuous words of Tom Delay as they grovel and leer at the family and nod sympathetically at the sanctimonious phonies who are using this issue for their political gain. This is why we cannot trust the mainstream media. Most people get their news from television. And television is presenting this issue as a round the clock one dimensional soap opera pitting the “family”, the congress and the church against this woman’s husband and the judicial system that upheld Terry Schiavo’s right and explicit request that she be allowed to die if extraordinary means were required to keep her alive. The ghoulish infotainment industry is making a killing by acceding once again to trumped up right wing sensationalism. This issue gets to the essence of the culture war. Shall the state be allowed to interfere in the most delicate, complicated personal matters of life, death and health because a particular religious constituency holds that their belief system should override each individual’s right to make these personal decisions for him or herself. And it isn’t the allegedly statist/communist/socialist left that is agitating for the government to tell Americans how they must live and how they must die. One of the things that we need to help America understand is that there is a big difference between the way the two parties perceive the role of government in its citizens personal lives. Democrats want the government to collect money from all its citizens in order to deliver services to the people. The Republicans want the government to collect money from working people in order to dictate individual citizen’s personal decisions. You tell me which is the bigger intrusion into the average American’s liberty?

Things that make you realize you fell off the weblog merry-go-round a large number of revolutions ago: You’ve drank with, met, or been on a private mailing list with more than half the people in the “Ye Olde Skool” section of The Page of Only Weblogs, but have no idea who more than half the people up for a “Lifetime Achivement” Bloggie are.

Great autobiographical story on Kuro5hin this morning, telling the tale of a Toronto programmer who quit his coding job to become a bicycle messenger:

There are a number of reasons why the courier life was particularly attractive to this budding young programmer. Part of it was of course standard Office Space fantasy. But there was more. Gibson and Stephenson had taught me that the messenger, the mailman, was a vital romantic figure. The soldier of the information age.

Some parts sound quite appealing:

I think I may be the only courier who even knows what PHB means; the concept would be so foreign to their experience. The people in charge are almost exclusively ex-couriers themselves and they have neither the power nor the inclination to peer over your shoulder as you work. Your only obligation is to get the packages where they have to be when they have to be there. So long as you do that, no one cares what else you do. And if you don’t do it, you don’t get paid. That simple.

Other parts less so:

A certain brash courier from another company who liked to refer to himself as “The Fastest Messenger in Toronto” (and he may well have been, arrogance aside) once told me that he didn’t wear a helmet because having a safety net makes you reckless and that if you are fast enough, you don’t fall. The next week, he went through the back window of an SUV that stopped suddenly and spent two weeks in the hospital. I don’t know a single courier who has worked the job for more than a year and not been hit at least once.

Don’t miss the diary sections at the end of the article, either.

Finally: a nice, laid-back day. Caught up on mail, caught up on the web, had a nice IM chat with a friend. Didn’t look at work email all day, and managed to not feel terribly guilty about it. Go me.

Not a terribly productive day — too burnt out by the week, I think. After work, went to the mall for with TheWife and TheChild for dinner; also picked up new shoes for TheChild. Home then for TV before bed.

Another fun twelve hours at work. Made some decent progress on some of the log stuff I’ve been beating my head against. Also realized that some assumptions weren’t quite right, which means back to the design stage for some of the analysis stuff. whee

Longest systems-developer meeting in recent memory — almost three hours. A mostly productive almost three hours, but still, damn that’ll take it out of you.

Got gas on the way to work this morning. Paid US$2.19/gallon. boggle

Worked an eight-hour day, just for a change. Still felt pretty crispy by the end of the day. Meet TheWife and TheChild for some dinner, and then came back home for evening of general relaxation and non-work activities.

This was one of those days where I knew what I needed to do, I wanted to do it, and I kept getting interrupted with other crap, making it impossible to get things done. This is frustrating, and it leads to 12 hour days, because in order to get crap done, I have to work three hours past the point where everybody else has gone home. whinge, whinge

“Fun Fair” and silent auction at TheChild’s day care. Lots of pictures, which are being uploading to Flickr even now. They ended up being about half TheChild, half the event. Need to find out if there’s some mailing list where I can tell people about the pictures.

More quality time with TheChild, this time in the evening, as TheWife was out having a business dinner. Lots of “Mom?” from TheChild; lots of “Dad!” from me.

This was the first day this month that I didn’t set foot at work.

TheChild and I hung out during the day while TheWife went to a scrapbooking class. I think we all had an appropriate amount of fun. Friends over in the evening, and out for dinner — more Mexican food, whoo-hoo.

Friday is comic book day, and that’s always a good thing. Plus there was Mexican food with the family after work; another good thing.

Positively relaxed Thursday: couple meetings, bit of organization. Only at work for 8 hours!

Typical Wednesday: morning spent trying to keep on top of email flood, meeting in the afternoon, dragged out for a beer afterwards, then, finally, real work starting about 7pm.

Yet another punishing day, but only about 12 hours this time. Still setting ‘em up and knocking ‘em down.

Punishing 14 hour day. Lots and lots of stuff got done, though.

Once again, into work for a few hours. At this point, caught up on lost time and began to build up a buffer for the trip at the end of the month.

I see this description of a literally palm-based PDA, and all I can think is, “Don’t anesthesiologists wear gloves most of the time they’re working?”.

Link ganked from Merlin’s link stream.

Since I’d taken the liberal leave on Monday to stay home with TheChild, I went in to work to make up some hours. Most of my time was spent on catchup: mail, status checks, that sort of thing.

Headed downtown in the evening, for SIG-BEER. Rather light crowd, but the other guy and I had fun nonetheless. Back home around 10:30pm; straight into bed.

Out to dinner after work, at Black’s in Bethesda — rather more swanky than our usual Friday dining place, but well, well worth the money.

Relatively normal work day. Big meeting late in the afternoon; basically a status check on the big Open Access project. Dashed out of that and drove up to the Gaithersburg Hopkins campus, where I ended up being about an hour late for a faculty meeting. Home after that for a quiet evening and an early bedtime.

This was the real catchup day. Powered through a hunk of stuff in the morning, then had a rather frustrating afternoon meeting. Dragged out to a bar Off-site debriefing meeting afterwards. Possibly got filmed for a documentary on the brewer, possibly featuring a story that makes me sound like the town drunk. Just in case it comes up, for the record, there were other people involved in finishing off the keg, not just me and the other guy. At least one or two other people.

Back to work after that, and cranked through another five or six items. My Next Actions list at work is actually short enough to fit all on one page at the moment. (That probably just means I’m not capturing things adequately, though. There’s no way I’m getting caught up.) Home around 11pm; straight into bed.

Back to work after the “massive blizzard”. Got caught up pretty quickly and even managed to accomplish one or two things at the same time. Go me.

“He & Me” dinner at TheChild’s pre-school in the evening. Fun to hang out with TheChild; not so much fun doing it with a room full of strangers and their boistrous children. Best point of the evening: standing around the lobby waiting for things to get underway, while a ball of six or seven 3- and 4-year-old boys wrestled around on the floor, and listening to the fathers discuss things completely abstractly. “You don’t see the girls doing this.” was one key quote.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand how people from this region react to predictions of snow. Yes, kids, school was closed again, and again it was on a prediction of snow that largely failed to show up. (Initial calls were for six to ten inches, and at our house we might have just bearly broken the two inch mark.) Since TheChild was home sans day care and the FedGov had gone liberal leave, I stayed home so that TheWife would have a chance to get some work done. This mostly worked out okay — slept in a bit, fetched some lunch, played with TheChild, took a nap. Catching up at my work won’t be too much fun, though.

A nice quiet Sunday, notable for lots of reading, and for the mailing out of our holiday cards for this year. Go us!