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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Death Sheep from Hell's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
12:28 pm
Last night's tornado

I'm mostly not posting here anymore, but since a bunch of folks haven't shifted over there yet, I'll point to my entry about last night's tornado over on Dreamwidth.

As a side note, if anyone needs an invitation, I have several, at the moment.

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009
2:00 pm
An interesting (if retrospective) realization about Qwest IT

I had an interesting, and somewhat profound (at least to me) realization about my former employer, last night. I realized that I never — not once — heard the terms "maintenance-only" and "legacy" (fairly standard descriptions of the state of a software project) used in any way that made a distinction between them. They weren't just used interchangeably, they were often used together ("maint/legacy") as a descriptive of the current state of a software project.

To those who may not be familiar enough with the general concept of a software life-cycle, there are various phases which can be (roughly) mapped to the most common life-cycle of biological entities. The phases are (again, roughly, and using my own terms for things) as follows:

  • Conception (Genesis)
  • Planning (Gestation)
  • Launch (Birth) — actually a transition point rather than a phase
  • Prototyping (Early Childhood) — exploratory
  • Primary Development (Late Childhood) — directed growth
  • Pre-Release cleanup or "QA testing" (Puberty) — transition phase
  • Release (Majority) — again, a transition point rather than a phase
  • Maintenance (Adult) — mature and stable in final form
  • Legacy (Elderly) — soon to be replaced / recycled
  • End Of Life (Death) — just what it sounds like

The key point to take away here is that in a sane, healthy software product, a large portion of the life cycle should be spent in the "Maintenance" phase, as mature software that may need some upkeep, but by and large does the job it was created to do and does not undergo massive changes (see also yesterday's commentary about software maturity).

Qwest IT has no such state. As soon as a product has stopped active development, it goes straight to "being replaced / about to die", with no span in between wherein the product that was supposedly written is actually *in use* by anyone who is not dedicated to actively replacing it. In fact, frequently the primary development stage is terminated by a forcible transition into that state.

Monday, January 5th, 2009
6:31 pm
Thought for the day
"'Mature', in a software sense, just means that it has some idea what it wants to be when it grows up, and has gotten at least a few steps along the path to that. It doesn't mean that what it wants to be isn't a poo-flinging monkey." -- me (discussing it with someone else a few minutes ago, albeit slightly rephrased to make sense in a standalone context)

Current Mood: tired
Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
2:05 pm
My perspective on it

[ This is in response to elfs' post and ysabel's response here. ]

For context: married to ysabel, used to work at the same place she still does. I escaped last fall, to a place where the software written is somewhat more mundane and "plodding" in some ways, but is actually a whole lot more satisfying than just about anything I did there.

The soul-sucking part can be fixed by finding saner work; the "enh" part, and the "scattered fragments of a million and one things started but never finished" doesn't change. My personal past tends to gang up on me over it, as well, because I listen too much to demons of the past whispering "if you just *cared* enough, you could manage to do this". Down that road lies yard-work at 2 in the morning for an entire summer, to accomplish nothing of the intended original goal.

One thing I've noticed *very* distinctly is that when I shifted to being a developer (rather than being a network administrator with a heaping side of systems administrator and a smidgen of development, mostly in couple-of-hours-a-week chunks)... I not only stopped enjoying doing development on my own time, I *also* stopped enjoying doing admin work on my own time. While I'm still on the rolls, and contribute once in a blue moon, I haven't really been a very active member of any of the projects I used to dump hours upon hours into. It isn't the only cause (changes in medication and life outside of those activities are also huge contributors), but I've noticed it now and again.

Even having projects I really *want* done doesn't suffice; I've been working on a project that regularly gets brought back to the front of my mind at least once or twice a week (it involves weather monitoring, so any time I *notice* the weather, I tend to think of it) since before last Christmas. I have all of the technical skills required to deal with both the software and the hardware parts, and I've put quite a number of hours into it, but at some point I hit one or more "blocks" and just couldn't bring myself to *care* enough about it to focus through those, at least not for long enough to get past them.

But there is one thing that I've noticed that I will always make time for, always generally enjoy, and which consistently produces "results" (even though those results are pretty useless in any other context): I regularly play video games. And I think I know what the differences are (because, in many ways, they *aren't* any less work than any number of other things; certainly they involve a lot of time invested, and for most of the ones I play, often a fair amount of effort to keep track of things or figure things out). They largely boil down to one of a couple of pieces:

  1. Low bar to entry. Even if I'm not up to any *specific* game, there is pretty much always *some* game that requires little enough energy and brainpower that I can play it no matter how brain-dead I am after work.
  2. Small increments. I don't play games that require you to do many-hour-sessions at once (among other things, it just isn't *possible* to sanely do them anymore, with my home life). So I can put in half an hour or an hour when I have it (or even 15 minutes, but usually I don't bother booting things up for less than half an hour). Even then, if I need to pause it for a five-minute task, the games I lean towards make that easy.
  3. Random but frequent positive feedback, even in small increments. A battle in a normal JRPG takes a couple of minutes, tops (barring very special cases). You get a cookie in the form of a win, with goodies, at the end. But they require interaction, and in the better games, not just "hit one button over and over" interaction, so you feel like you *did* something for the reward. Pacing this is a *huge* design issue with such games, because it is one of the most powerful draws they have for folks who play them (and often not recognized consciously).
  4. 4) Periodic, predictable major positive feedback that can't be "undone". Also known as "milestones". Complete a chapter/story arc, hit the next major level break, or something similar. The items in #3 are too small, on their own, to provide an ongoing sense of accomplishment without larger milestones to give you a sense of anchoring things. A game with close to 1000 battles (or even more, in some) over the course will still usually have a dozen or fewer major segments, often as few as half a dozen.
  5. 5) Definite tasks with finite bounds. Even in the most open-ended of games, you almost always have *some* sense of what you need to do, or at least the general tack to be taking, to make forward progress in the game (the best games just don't force you to do *only* that). And every task, from "complete the story" to "complete the arc" to "survive this battle", has a definite goal and a reason to trust that the goal is attainable in some remotely reasonable fashion. I've actually run across a couple of games recently where I cannot *imagine* how you're supposed to figure out a couple of crucial things, short of consulting an FAQ (the things you have to do are not only non-obvious, but seem like they would be Really Dumb Things To Do if you didn't know otherwise ahead of time) -- this is, IMO, terrible design, because it can leave someone completely adrift without any way to figure out how to progress, or even any reason to believe that they *can* progress.
  6. A lot of this does reflect back on "how to get things done" books from various sources, but I think many of those books focus so much on how to keep track of the tasks themselves that they lose one of the more crucial pieces: how to make getting it done *feel worthwhile*. And the short answer is that in a lot of cases... it isn't. Even if it once was, the things you enjoy shift over time. The real problem is not being able to find the things you enjoy enough to make it worthwhile *now* (and, for a lot of folks, myself definitely included, it really seems like there simply *aren't* nearly as many things that can accomplish that, as we get older).

    I have to wonder if part of it isn't a form of "getting jaded". Doing the same thing a second time isn't as rewarding, for *most* things, as doing it the first time is. The third time, even less so. By the fourth time, it's just a chore you do to get the result; there isn't any discovery or novelty left in most things by that point. Problem is, as you do more things, the category of "things I have already done" gets bigger rapidly, *and not just linearly*. Learning a single programming language has a certain set of requirements and results. Learning a *second* programming language is easier, even if it is of a completely different category. By the time you've learned four of them, unless they're all basically identical you have probably covered everything there is to cover in one of the major language domains (or at least everything you're likely to ever bother with). Quite possibly more, if the languages spanned domains.

    By the time you have six or seven, picking up a new language is more a matter of adjusting mental mappings for "how to do this thing" than it is new discovery -- and you rapidly find that *no* new language has enough *new* things to feel like it isn't just a variation on a theme that is already old hat to you. Suddenly "what I've already done" is no longer "program in " or even "program in ", but rather "program". Programming is helped *a little* by the fact that there are a lot of problems out there, and a lot of ways to go about solving them, but eventually you get into the same sort of boat; often you aren't creating *art* in the sense of "infused with the energy of new discovery and the power to *do* this", so much as creating a fine piece of craftsmanship. It has value, it can be a matter of pride, but that isn't the same as being *inspired*.

    A stray thought that occurs to me is that this may have more than a little to do with something I saw a magazine about a while ago (I forget which one; TIME, perhaps?). It discussed the fact that religion as it is practiced in most cases seems to be a "fact of human nature" in no small part because humans have the capacity to experience "transcendent moments" of exactly the sort you discussed. But the biochemical reasons for that don't kick in for anything that isn't fairly "new"; this draws back to the adage about "seeing the world through the eyes of a child" -- full of wonder and discovery. Or, alternatively, "learn something new every day". The problem is that "new" becomes harder and harder to come by, and if you need that sort of kick in the pants to get over obstacles or to feel like the reward is worth the effort... it becomes more and more rare that things are worth bothering over.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Friday, July 18th, 2008
5:27 pm
True to form...

So, we have a customer who is "going live" on Monday. This means they've had their training on the system, and will, at least in theory, switch to using it full time as their primary tool in roughly 64 hours. So, what does that mean shows up on my bug list today?

That's right. A major problem involving the conversion of their data. That should have been completed and verified multiple weeks ago.

Now, admittedly, getting the conversion to actually process things took (much) longer than expected. But this entire week, I have not had a single new bug opened against that set of code. Everyone who was supposed to be verifying it and giving it the go-ahead said things were looking good. Until this morning.

And I no longer get to drink Mountain Dew or Coke. Going to be a long night at this rate...

Current Mood: bitchy
12:01 pm
A ray of hope?

For those who didn't already know: I grew up in Kansas. One of the few remotely sane parts of it. So seeing this candidate for a State Representative seat in Kansas really just works for me. Even if he loses, he's already done something that will significantly change the nature of elections in the state, from here on out, I suspect.

Current Mood: optimistic
Tuesday, July 8th, 2008
8:45 am
Shall we try thinking this one through again, ladies and gentlemen?

First, read this story about a possible new device for "airline passenger safety".

Edit@13:30: emmacrew pointed out, elsewhere, that the letter in question is two years old, and that several things in the article are inferences. I believe that much of what I say below still applies, if in somewhat different fashions, even if the device is never used for standard air travel passengers. Moreover, I am not so optimistic about such a bad idea really being dropped.

Then consider that it took me, someone who has only the basic theory of taser operation and CNS (Central Nervous System) 'stun' methods, less than a minute to figure out the basics of a way to not only completely prevent any risk of being stunned by one, but potentially turn it into a viable taser, using materials that are available to anyone with access to a hardware store and a Radio Shack. Advanced versions might require access to any of dozens of online electronics suppliers, for a few parts which are common but not so ubiquitous that Radio Shack still carries them, now that it is becoming an electronics outlet instead of a parts shop.

Specifics of such a device would require more precise knowledge of just which thing they are doing to 'stun' the wearer, and the physical arrangement of the device, but both of those will be fairly readily available should the device ever come into use.

The protective device would be small, trivially concealable in any number of ways, and quite possibly able to pass inspection in plain sight if engineered to look like a more common/everyday item, such as a flat-braid "friendship bracelet" (for just one obvious candidate).

Oh, and let's not forget the fact that anyone with a pacemaker or a history of any possibility of cardiac arrhythmia or seizures, or anyone who has ever suffered a heart attack, would be suicidally stupid to allow such a device to be placed on them, given the risks of lethal "complications" involved with any CNS-affecting 'stun' device being applied to such a person.

So, to review: in the name of 'safety', the FAA is considering required use of a device which will result in the following:

  • Disabling any passenger who tries to stop an arising threat (you think they're going to take the time to analyze which of the five people standing up are a threat, and which are responding to the threat?)
  • Will not disable any attacker who has even a basic understanding of electronics and CNS stun techniques, and access to Google (or, hell, just access to Google; I'm sure Phrack will have an article about circumventing these if they come into use).
  • May, in fact, arm said attackers with a CNS stun device which can be applied to anyone they can reach.
  • Places a significant percentage of passengers in a situation where someone who has neither knowledge of their condition (nor reason to consider it a priority, even if they did) has the power to trigger a potentially-lethal situation at, quite literally, the push of a button.

And all of that is without even getting into the aspects of personal privacy and liberty, or any other sort of 'belief' argument. These are purely practical issues with the system that exist even if you believe it is the best idea ever.

Current Mood: cynical
Sunday, May 18th, 2008
11:38 pm
Done my deed for the day (hopefully it was a good one)
Postfix -- or is it prefix? I wrote this after the rest, but put it in front, so I don't know, really: this is very stream-of-consciousness writing. It is a brain dump without any attempt made to clean it up. I'm writing it for me, not for an audience.

Why am I bothering to post about this? Don't know, really; mostly, it just seems to keep rolling back around in my head, and I'm hoping that if I write some of it down, I'll be able to sleep.

Late this afternoon, I'm setting up to do yard work outside -- mostly just string-trimming the lawn sufficiently that we don't get a warning citation from the city (we live on a major road, and they're polite about it, but they do enforce the weed rules once your entire lawn is exceeding knee-high, and I don't mean to a grasshopper).

I hear this sort of bang-bang-bang-crunchy-bang noise, like... well, I'm not sure *what* to describe it as. It didn't really make sense at the time, but the next thing I heard was a classic horror-movie scream. Which sort of puzzled me for a moment, but at least grabbed my attention enough that I was actively processing things. So when the second scream came, I still didn't know what the hell was going on, but I knew something was Wrong(tm), dropped what I was doing, and started booking it in the direction of the sound (about twenty feet behind my neighbor, who was also out doing yard-work).

As soon as I get to the street and have line of sight, it's really clear what is going on, because the first thing I spot is a hysterical woman in the middle of the road -- a road that is one lane in each direction, undivided, meaning there is *no* way this is just someone everyone is driving around -- followed by the sight of a motorcycle down on its side, near her. Well, shit, that can't be good -- but she's up and moving around, that means her limbs are mostly in one piece and she isn't so trashed that she can't move.

About that time I realize that there's another body, mostly behind and partially *under* the motorcycle, that I hadn't been able to see from my initial angle.

Well, *shit*.

Okay, first point of order, has anyone called... yes, I see at least three people on cell phones, on to the next thing. Triage... we've already established that the woman is mobile, if seriously freaking the fuck out (let me put it this way: I grew up in a household with a woman who would completely come unhinged over fairly minor stuff -- when I say 'hysterical', I mean this woman was no longer processing the same reality that anyone else was in, not really). That's bad, but survivable, how's the other body? Laying on its side, I can see the arms and the... huh?

You know it isn't good when your brain cannot process something for a moment because that *can't* be a leg because legs don't *go* that direction, they keep going mostly straight, except there's nothing there, and the blue jeans are all one continuous piece, so yeah, that *is* his leg. Oi. As they say, he ain't gonna be dancing again any time soon. Okay, other major injuries... hard to say, but that and his position are bad enough that he shouldn't be moved unless there's imminent danger. Speaking of which... right, that sparking is the blinker that got trashed when it went down. No fuel spill, we're okay there.

About that time, someone asked about moving him, and I told them no, but that we should get the bike off of him (I mean, it can't be helping his leg any, and from everything I can see we won't have to move him to do it, unless there's something *truly* bad underneath, where I can't see yet, like a piece of the bike going *through* his leg or something). We tip the bike up and get it more or less vertical, move it a few feet so that it isn't in the way, and get the kickstand down and settle it. Okay, two folks are checking on the guy, and they know not to move him, and I don't see anywhere near enough blood to think that he's in any kind of critical danger (or at least, not any kind that we're going to be able to do anything about), and that lady is still screaming bloody murder.

Time to try to get her calmed down before she hurts herself, or someone else, because screaming panic, while useful in summoning help, is not generally a very good sign when it continues after help has arrived and is clearly in action. You know, that whole "not in the same reality" problem -- this is, in fact, probably about the time I really processed that she was in quite that state.

Okay, get over to her, she's not flailing, good... talk to her, try to get her calmed down, she's vaguely responsive to voice but clearly just Not With The Program. Shit. Okay, next stage, get closer, try to figure out if she's actually hurt worse than it looks and just not aware of it, because freaking out that badly means she's either in an adrenaline rush or about to be in serious shock, maybe both. Road rash on both arms, maybe one shoulder, and oh geez that patch of flayed skin on her hand has gotta be hurting like a *bitch*... looks like her knee is actually torn up the worst, there's blood soaked through her jeans all around the tear, but its a *tear*, not a gaping missing chunk, so maybe her jeans took the brunt of it. I don't see blood pooling around her foot or anything, at least, so.

She's on her cell phone, can't tell if it's calling 911 or someone else... no, wait, if it was 911 they'd be on the line by now, and whatever she's saying, it isn't to them because she's saying personal names, when she's not screaming for help or praying for someone to be there (on the other end of the line). Okay, let's try to get her out of the road. C'mon, hon, here, we're dealing with it, let me help you over here, you should sit down. No, really, you need to sit down, come on and I'll help you.

Ever had a full-grown adult just *collapse* in your arms? I'm not talking about tipping over and starting to fall, or curling up, I'm talking about them still babbling and protesting while some part of their mind and/or body realizes that someone else is holding onto them (at least moderately securely), arms around them, and they can stop having to stand up now? Ooof. She wasn't particularly big, but dead weight is *dead* weight. Got her to the curb and sitting down, at least, and maybe slightly calmer, or at least talking to *me*, instead of to the world at large.

She's still trying to call someone on the cell... seems to realize that this isn't working, and that even if she gets through she's going to be incomprehensible. She hands it to me, and after a pass or two, manages to get across that she's worried about her daughter, who is currently with... I guess it was an ex-husband, at least that was the impression I got from her, and she wants to make sure that he knows she's been in an accident and that she won't be able to pick up the girl.

Okay, I've been in the land of trying to convey things that Deeply Matter even though they're probably taken care of anyway (when babbling in tongues on Dilauded, in the hospital, my recollection is that the reason I was babbling, at at least one point, had to do with questions the doctor was asking, which sort of meshes with at least Deb's perceptions of part of it). She's got the phone dialed, so I keep trying to keep her calm, and realize after a few moments that the ringing as stopped and I can maybe hear someone on the other end of the line -- barely (I would have had trouble hearing *without* the woman screaming in the other ear, the chaotic noise nearby, and such; it was a really quiet phone). I explain, as quickly as I can without *just* being garbled, that I'm calling from the scene of an accident, and I was asked to call this number and make sure that Barry knew that he needed to take care of the six-year-old daughter for a bit, but that the woman seemed to be doing okay, though she was really shaken up.

I hope I managed to get most of that across, anyway; I *really* hope I did, because I *so* would not ever want to get that kind of phone call and not get the information other than some strange guy's voice was calling from my wife's (or ex-wife's) cellphone, saying that there had been an accident, but not managing to get much else across...

About that time, someone showed up (from where, I don't know; I think he may have been just driving the road) who was a health care professional of some sort, and started bracing her neck. I'd gotten her to lie down, and from the information he had, it was the only sensible answer; probably I should have tried, but I was more worried about getting her to just calm the fuck *down*, first, and I'd seen her up and moving around when I first got there -- anything that was going to screw up her spine, she'd done long since. I hope, anyway.

Things were starting to 'kick in' around that point, in the sense that the cops, the fire department, and the ambulance all showed up within the next few moments. Seemed like an eternity, even to me, but it *can't* have been that long -- not enough people milling about gawking, though there were a few -- it just seemed like it.

The rest of the story, such as it is, isn't all that fascinating, though I have to say that I have now seen paramedic scissors do exactly what they are made to do -- cut through thick denim and open up clothing like it was paper. Okay, I'd even seen *that* before, but never while said fabric was actually on someone, and they were being used in that fashion.

Backboards and cervical collars all around, of course, but they got the pair bundled up and rolled down the road to the nearest hospital (whose ER I can vouch for, and the place is less than a mile away).

I remember her freaking out at both us, and the paramedics, and really wishing I had some way to get it through to her -- the instant that someone told me he was talking (well before the cops arrived), I knew that he was at a lot less risk than I had feared. There just wasn't enough blood on the scene, so if he was actually even semi-coherent, he was almost certainly going to last long enough for the paramedics to arrive, even if he had internal injuries. They kill, but not *that* fast, and it was a major road with multiple routes through to it, and the nearest fire department wasn't much further away than the hospital -- ambulances don't always come with hospitals, but I know for a fact that firefighters come with enough medical kit to stabilize someone who isn't already dead, at least until the paramedics arrive, unless the person is literally at death's door when they show up, or the ambulance is a long, LONG time away.

I guess the other part of what made me come down here was that I keep having this stray thought rolling around about the 'measure of a man' (sorry, ladies, 'human', but that isn't the traditional phrase, and in some ways it *is* a culturally biased thing, even if that makes no damned sense) being taken when you put him into a crisis. I did what I could... I think. Did I do the right thing(s)? Were there things I should have known, should have seen, should have paid more attention to? I know that I know more about handling such than a lot of people, and I've had more practice than just about anyone who doesn't do it for a living, for various reasons... but it also highlights that in most things that you can really call a crisis, you really don't know shit, apart from *maybe* the barest basics if you're lucky, and you're flying by the seat of your pants, making judgment calls as best you can, because you don't have the luxury of time to reflect on it until it's too late to do anything different.

[Editing note: these are rhetorical questions, not requests for answers]

Should I have taken care of the guy, despite there being two other folks of unknown ability already doing so?

Was there someone more qualified to deal with the woman? Should I have done what I did, or did I somehow do the wrong thing?

Should I have been bothered by the guy's leg? I mean, I know folks who get sick at the *discussion* of an injury like that, and I know a lot more folks who either get ill at the sight or concrete concept, or get morbidly curious. I... didn't have any real reaction at all, other than cataloging it as an important fact while triaging him. I wasn't even detached, not in the way that I've felt some times when I *had* to distance myself from something to avoid freaking out about it at a time when I couldn't afford that. I mean, the guy was twisted up like a pretzel, but it just... was what it was. The only reason I don't worry more about it being a little sociopathic is because I *did* care, I wanted to help, and I understood that it had to be hurting like hell if he was conscious (at first, it wasn't at all clear). But the facts of the situation were just simple facts.

I did realize, somewhat later, that I was having my own after-effects. Mostly because my hand was shaking so badly, when I tried to put together some circuit pieces, that I could not get the leads to go into the circuit board holes. That was *after* a good hour of weed trimming that I did, plus cooling down and relaxing, all of which only happened after basically everyone but the last cop had left the scene (I hung around until I was certain that we had all been politely dismissed, in that "thank you all, we really appreciate it" way that is quite sincere, but somehow also has the undertone of "... and would you please all go back to your lives so I don't have to worry about all of *you* still being on the scene, especially now that it isn't even a scene anymore?")

Anyway, its time that I went to bed now, so I guess I'm going to post this and come back to it later. I've sort of run down, anyway, and I'm not sure what else to say about it.

Oh, other than this:

It was a not-so-minor miracle that the woman didn't have head injuries. The man *did*, but I don't know how bad, other than the gash on his forehead not being a terrible bleeder. But neither one was wearing a helmet, or real leathers. They were at least wearing jeans, but the woman's top wasn't particularly robust. I don't recall what the man's top was, any by the time I thought to look, it had already been cut off and was somewhere in the mess of parts and fabric pieces and such that was scattered around him (and the bike). I wouldn't count on him not having some nasty consequences from that. The only reason I doubt it for her is because she was mobile and functional, or at least as much as someone in hysterics can be, immediately after, and appeared to have *no* damage to anything but her knee and her arms/hands.

It was a low-speed collision (he had time to say something about "don't pull out in front of me", apparently, which means he had time to slow down, and the road is only 35mph there, plus they were going slow enough to be able to talk, all of which means she may have been simply thrown clear of the bike and landed in a hard skid on her front, but not tons worse than I took as a kid crashing my bike, if she's lucky).

Anyway. Yeah. Really bedtime now, I'm past stream-of-consciousness and into babbling-brook mode.

Current Mood: indescribable
Sunday, February 17th, 2008
4:43 pm
Geekery, part 2
And, courtesy of zylch, the geekery of a speed-cabling competition.

To which my response is: Bah!

Only six cables, and you just have to separate them (and leave them able to carry a network signal)? That's *nothing*.

Try about six *dozen* cables, and needing to get them plugged back in as fast as possible, *in the right places*. Then you'll start to have some clue what some of the data centers I've dealt with were like. Yes, they *did* look like the picture in the article -- only more tangled.

And watch out for the field mice. They like to gnaw through the baseboards and set up house in the nooks and crannies that the cables form. Nothing like having a small brown "oh *shit* what the hell is that?" field mouse zipping at your feet to make you decide that the project is *long* overdue. The rest of the family headed for the wall (and presumably out into the fields next door), at least.

$Deity preserve me if I ever have to try to deal with under-floor cabling that bad. I'm pretty sure I won't even consider going in without a cattle prod, several "bug bomb" grenades, and armored hip waders. Above and beyond the generally-required hard hat (come on, I can walk into low *doorways* by accident, you think I would ever even think about going into an underfloor space without one?)

Current Mood: quixotic
4:39 pm
Geekery, part 1
Warning! Utter and complete geekery ahead!

Someone I know online recently posted a link to a Google Tech Talk about a class that starts with basic NOR gates and builds all the way up to a basic ALU, on the hardware side (well, emulated hardware, anyway), as well as writing low-level BIOS/OS routines to work with the hardware. And then user programs to demo it, such as the inevitable Tetris clone.

Pretty damned cool, if you ask me.

Current Mood: geeky
Friday, May 4th, 2007
7:21 am
Recipe for sweet pan-fried crispy Jesus
  1. Tenderize with 39 blows
  2. Drag over a hard surface dusted with breading
  3. Hang to dry for several hours
  4. Take down and place in a cool, dark place to age for 3 days
  5. Remove and place in a lightly oiled pan at proper heat, and flip into the air to turn over, as necessary.

I was told “You know you’re going to hell for that…”, which seemed sort of redundant, given the whole ‘Fenton’ thing, but hey, always good to make sure.

Current Mood: amused
Thursday, March 22nd, 2007
7:28 am
Today's word is:
adj: a number or amount larger than that which can be dealt with by remaining ordinance supplies; “an inordinate number of enemies” [syn: {excessive}, {undue}, {unreasonable}, {target-rich}]

Current Mood: groggy
Saturday, February 24th, 2007
10:38 pm
How many licks does it take?

Just a few things that go together. Something to think about, if you will.

This entry has been made possibly by a grant from Vector Industries.

Current Mood: amused
Wednesday, February 7th, 2007
6:56 pm
An explanation of... many things, perhaps?

And if anyone is wondering why I care: one of the other reasons to use DocBook is that it makes it straightforward to generate two separate versions of the same document with different layouts. For example, one intended for reading online, and one intended for printing; despite assertions about ‘one size fits all’, monitors and printed books have extremely different requirements for ‘best’ or even ‘good’ usage, and tend to only meet around a ‘barely usable common denominator’. It’s more of a ‘one size fits all… if that one size is a circus tent bound with rubber bands that cut off the circulation and then strategically stapled to the wearer in sensitive places, such as the eyes’ situation.

Current Mood: restless
Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
11:30 am
School gym games

Most games that have widespread appeal reflect some facet of a larger (and often more violent) human experience. The sport forms of many martial arts, football and rugby, even chess, are all cleaner, more civilized, sanitized versions of conflicts. Granted, using ‘rugby’ and ‘civilized’ in the same sentance seems a bit contradictory, but rugby is generally at least marginally less lethal than archaic combat.

In this vein, I realized something yesterday: the game of ‘dodgeball’, at least the forms of it I have seen and participated in at various schools, is really nothing more than a cleaner, more civilized, and sanitized version of flinging poo.

Consider: you have two teams, usually of 15–30 people or so, in a large open space (generally an indoor basketball court, where I was) with a line down the middle. Each of these is just about the right size for a troop of apes (for good reason; humans think in other terms of conflict, when other sizes are involved). You have a plentiful quantity of ammunition laying about on the ground. You grab it up as fast as you can, and fling it at the opposing side, without bothering to aim in more than a general sense, because the projectiles are not really very aerodynamic. You try not to get hit by the same stuff being flung back at you — in many cases the exact stuff you just threw at them.

I mean, all that’s missing, really, is a giant black monolith in place of one of the basketball goals at the ends of the court.

Oddly enough, I was actually pretty good at dodgeball. Probably the only team sport I can say that about; while I played both soccer and basketball, my main ability in those involved being able to overrun most of my opponents by simply being too clumsy to stop in time. Few people are dumb enough to play chicken with an 18‑wheeler that has no brakes… But I was actually *good* at dodgeball.

Current Mood: amused
Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007
9:12 am
Quote of the Day

Just a quick post for now, more may come later today, but I think I already found the Quote of the Day. The following is taken from a conversation between myself and ysabel:

[ed: ysabel is Many Tiny Debs, and I am Lucifer]

Many Tiny Debs say, “Joel, do you know if we own this book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393061329?”

Lucifer wants to say we… probably don’t have it, just because I think you would have smacked me with it a few times and made me sit down and read it.

Lucifer says, “Education by way of blunt trauma osmosis”

Current Mood: cold
Saturday, October 7th, 2006
10:53 am
Attack of the Lemmings!

Blame sylith. That’s all I have to say.

This one is just plain funny…

Find your Celestial Choir

Anyone surprised? Bueller? Bueller?

Take the What Type of Friend Are You? quiz.

Possibly even less surprising than the last one…

What type of Fae are you?

Current Mood: quixotic
Tuesday, September 19th, 2006
7:20 am
In honor of TLAPD

[ Think 'convention name badge' ]

Hi, I'm the Dread Pirate…


— ask me about franchise opportunities!

Thursday, July 27th, 2006
11:24 am
Code geekery warning!

So, my new metaphor for good OO (object-oriented) code is angels dancing on the head of a pin.

Hey, it's better than alligators and hippos in tutus — though I will admit that there is some appeal to using other sequences to describe daemon code.

Current Mood: geeky
Monday, April 3rd, 2006
11:03 am
Quote of the Day

Really, this is actually from, oh, several weeks ago now. But I finally remembered to put it where while I was somewhere that I had access to my LJ. So it’s today’s QotD. You’ll survive, I promise.

“en-US, motherf——ker, DO YOU SPEAK IT?!”

— me, as an aside to ysabel

Current Mood: listless
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