Thursday, September 30, 2004

Nail clippers

I had a profound realization today: you know, once a man loses his nail clippers, he can't really go that long before he has to purchase a new pair (is it really called a pair?). My fingernails are now to the length where I notice they are there. This is completely unacceptable.

Oh, and don't let this post distract you from responding to my message from a few minutes ago. Please comment on that post if you haven't already, which is pretty much all of you at this point. :)

Who's reading?

I'm sort of curious how many people are reading my blog. I'd appreciate it if everyone who reads would post a comment—one; no more, no less—to this message. You can do so anonymously if you prefer (you don't even have to have an account); I'm just interested in a show of hands. Just curious. :) Thanks for reading... I'll try to ensure that more interesting things happen to me in the near future.

When I think about you

I got a letter today signed with the following:

In any case, think of me when you touch yourself.
Name

I'll go ahead and let you guess who that letter might have been from. And, since this person will eventually read this post, thanks. :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Condoms and K-Y

So, Safeway's home delivery is pretty awesome. Five bucks every once in a while and I don't have to go to the grocery store anymore. Just copy/paste my shopping list into the site, and it finds everything I need. When it arrives, it's always the same guy bringing my groceries. It's kind of weird, because he makes comments on what I buy. "You gonna hibernate for the winter or something?" "Wow, you must really like clam chowder." "I think X waffles are better." "What are you going to use all of these green beans for?" ...and so forth. It's a little unsettling. I'm pretty sure that when I worked at Russ's Market, one of the first things they told checkers was not to comment on what people are buying, even if it's a ninety-year-old man who can barely walk buying nothing but a pile of condoms and K-Y. (That happened more than once, and they always wink at you when they put them down on the counter.)

Yesterday I had a big order delivered, and he made slightly disconcerting, random comments as always. THEN, last night, I had a really strange and short dream. I was buying something online—something that was apparently terribly embarrassing (no, I don't know what it was)—but I couldn't bring myself to do it, just in case the Safeway guy were the one to deliver the order, because I'd never hear the end of it. So, I ended up not buying whatever it was.

So, as I'm Segwaying off to work this morning, I hear a honk from beside me, and it's the Safeway guy waving at me.

Monday, September 27, 2004

The internet makes you stupid

Wow. On average, more than 250 people each month find my EclipseCrossword website by doing a search (primarily Google, Yahoo!, and MSN Search) for www.eclipsecrossword.com rather than just typing that address into their browser window.

As of this month, all of my top search engine keywords are crossword-related. A year or two ago, they were almost exclusively related to my download manager add-on and developer tools. Weird. In another six months or so I should hit my half-millionth download of EclipseCrossword, which will be pretty awesome.

To Google oneself is not a sin

Wow, my own Google results keep getting more and more bizarre. Henry's Wiki page about me is now probably archived for all eternity in their cache. I'm sure an internet archive of some kind will come back to haunt me later in life.

Just so you know, I would prefer it if none of my quotes from Daniel's website showed up on my tombstone.

Cute pictures of bunnies

So, after helping a friend move on Saturday, I finally got to take some pictures Sunday. Most of the pictures weren't that interesting (my fault and the weather's, not the camera's), but I did get a couple really nice ones (that would have been excellent had I a little more technical skill). If you have access to IvoryTower, which you almost certainly do if you read this, my favorite is already posted. I'll have to set up a public gallery at some point. In the meantime, I guess you'll have to ask or something.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Creepy birthday fun

Two years ago on Tracy's birthday, I sent her a midnight "happy birthday" IM. It didn't occur to me at the time that I didn't really know her that well, and we had never talked over AIM before, so she would have no idea who just sent her an IM and happened to know her birthday. I didn't realize how creepy this was, though she was sure to tell me later. Anyway, I'm getting to the part where this is relevant.

About two years later (as in, a month ago), I met a new friend at a meeting of the Microsoft Thursday evening board gaming group. As I often do (and apparently a lot of people in Kauffman do), I Googled his name, and I happened to find out that his birthday wasn't too far off. So, I pondered the best way to take advantage of this knowledge while maximizing creepiness. I came to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to write him a happy birthday Haiku and send it from a dummy email account so he would have no idea who it was from. Apparently it was creepy, because he never responded to my mail. So, I saw him the next day, and during a lull in conversation, this transpired:

Me: So, how was yesterday? Any weird emails?
Marc: No... just a normal day.
Me: Really?
Marc: Yeah. Oh... Oh! You! You did that? I... I was...
Me: Yeah.
Marc: Ohhhh...

After this was a long period of silence with the best look of stunned and confused silence that I think I've ever received: an expression of such utter, all-encompassing dumbfoundedness that it is an exceptional treat whenever you are so lucky to experience it. In fact, I was so pleased with my successful attempt at being creepy that I may just have to think of a way to top this whenever the next rare gem of an opportunity like this comes up.

But, Marc won't be the next victim of my periodic need to be extremely creepy. I mean, I really like the guy, and if I had done something too soon to intentionally creep out Tracy, she never would have talked to me again.


I was going to end my post here, but I figure I'll throw in another creepy story just for kicks. So, freshman year, I decided that I would try to freak out Daniel. He was coming back from something or other, maybe basketball, and I, for some reason (hey, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about this one), decided I would hide in the closet, and when he entered the room, I would throw a wad of gym shorts at him. So, I did this, but he wasn't particularly impressed, and neither was I, afterward. Let this be a lesson to you: if an idea only took you five seconds to devise, it's probably not a very clever idea.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Return of the Jedi and Sky Captain

Well, I finished the Star Wars trilogy tonight with episode VI, Return of the Jedi. I'd put it about on par with episode IV; pretty good. The Empire Strikes Back is definitely the best of the three, just like everyone seems to say. I had seen more of this one before today than I had episode V... probably about half of it or a little more.

In the end, I would probably say that The Empire Strikes Back could be "one of my favorite movies," though it certainly isn't in my top 10. I'm very glad that I forced myself to put aside my prejudice towards Star Wars and watch all three (five, actually... I got episodes I and II a couple months ago since they were becoming harder and harder to find) like this... were it not for Knights of the Old Republic (a recent Star Wars game for those of you living in caves), I never would have even considered picking them up. Overall a very worthwhile purchase, and probably something that no self-respecting nerd's movie collection should be without.

I'll just take this opportunity to tack on my opinion of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which I thought was well worth my $8.50 or whatever ridiculous amount movies cost here. It was a good movie, and its coolness factor was abnormally high. Unfortunately, its silliness was nearly off the charts at points, but it was done much better than movies I'd say were somewhat similar, like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Sky Captain was inventive, interesting, and very well-filmed and produced. The story was interesting enough, and the characters were fun. As long as you can get past the fact that much of it is purposely stupid (like the Mystery Science Theatre-esque robots), I think that just about anyone could enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Empire Strikes Back

Well, I just finished Star Wars Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back. I liked it better than the first in pretty much every respect. There's a lot more of the things I care about in a movie in this one, and it seems like most of the problems with the first were gone: the acting was just fine, the editing and effects were much better, and it was just overall higher quality. There's not really much for me to say here; there aren't that many movies that have been analyzed more then the Star Wars series. What surprised me the most is how little of the movie I had actually seen. I would guess that I saw about 75% of it for the first time tonight; I had seen the lightsaber battle at the end several times, but didn't remember the Jedi training with Yoda or the Hoth battle at all, for example. There's not much else I can say about it other than the fact that I can definitively say that buying the original trilogy was money well spent. Episode II is still my favorite, I think, but this is a close second, and doesn't have nearly as much filler material.

FedEx anxiety disorder

So, I ordered my camera yesterday (Tuesday) with 2-day shipping. It is now 5:30 on the East coast, and I am increasingly becoming overpowered with fear that it will not ship until tomorrow. If this is the case, then I will not receive the camera until Monday evening. This possibility paralyzes me with fear. I am nearly too distraught to work. It destroys my life.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

UPDATE [5:32 Pacific]: My camera has indeed shipped. Mental anguish: reduced. Waiting: intensified.

A long time ago

So, I got my Star Wars IV-VI (original trilogy) DVD set today, and I watched episode IV. First off, I'd like to say that they've done an amazing job of cleaning up the movies. The picture was unbelievably sharp throughout almost the entire film, especially when considering that the movie is older than I am. The production quality of the discs themselves is nothing short of spectacular (of course, Lucas would have nothing less).

So, I'm not much of a Star Wars fan. I haven't even seen episodes V and VI in their contiguous entirety, and there were even moments in episode IV that I didn't recognize at all. I purchased the DVD set because I've been anti-Star Wars for almost as long as I can remember. It got to the point where I could barely remember why I didn't like Star Wars, and so I decided I should watch the original trilogy in their sexy DVD forms and let go of my preconceived notions. I am going to try my absolute best to judge them objectively, and completely ignore everything about Star Wars that I knew from before, which isn't much: about all I know from episodes V and VI is that at some point the Death Star is rebuilt, and Anakin/Vader is Luke's father, and I'm not exaggerating much.

So, as I implied, I watched episode IV tonight. Don't get me wrong, it's overall a good movie. But, if it weren't such a cultural icon, I still don't see any particular reason that future generations would have to see it. I felt similarly about Fellowship of the Ring: I thought that, by itself, it was an excellent movie, but not a required viewing for all eternity. After seeing the next two LOTR movies I changed my mind. Perhaps the same thing will happen with Star Wars. But, as it stands now, I'm content, but certainly not overwhelmed with respect. It's a pretty good movie—better than I really let myself believe—but it's not a 10/10. It's not even a 9/10. It lost some points for some stupid silliness, some of the acting, and the technical problems that come with being such an old movie (bad editing, bad costumes, low-tech buttons and switches, and so forth). Still, I anxiously await watching the next two movies (sorta for the first time). Just as long as I get them watched before my camera gets here. :)

I probably shouldn't mention that, as it stands, Attack of the Clones is my favorite Star Wars movie.

Monday, September 20, 2004

The death of IE

During the developer meeting today, and a subsequent IM conversation, I became aware of an interesting conundrum: if IE 6.0 weren't as standards-compliant as it is, Firefox never would have become as popular. Think about it for a second: if IE 6.0 were as bad as 5.0 or 5.5 (or as bad as people seem to think it is), major websites never would have made their sites work in Firefox. Making two different versions of a site (the IE version and the correct version) is too expensive, so they have to choose, and obviously the one that >= 99% of web users would use is the one the company should spend their money on. Thus, Internet Explorer would have retained market share because nobody would have made their sites work in Firefox, and users would not have had a very compelling reason to switch. It's the fact that IE's behavior was so close to correct that allowed people to start using Firefox.

Internet Explorer was a pioneer in the things that web developers today care about: it supported CSS for cleaner, more efficient coding, it supported XML and XSLT to bring data together from any number of sources and transform it into useful content, and it supported a variety of "active" technologies to make thin clients possible. No other browser at the time could even come close. It's a testament to how innovative Internet Explorer really is/was that only now do we really have a browser that can do approximately as much approximately as well, years after nearly all development on Internet Explorer stopped.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Arrested Development

Looks like Arrested Development won the Emmy for outstanding comedy series. (I didn't watch them, but that's what IMDB says...) Arrested Development is probably the most underrated show I've ever come across. Not a single episode in its first season was any less than stellar... it's more consistently and constantly hilarious than anything else on television, on par with Family Guy, but without quite the level of quotability that show enjoys. If you have never seen it or have only seen it once or twice, I implore you to watch it. I can't imagine how anyone could possibly find it any less than breathtakingly funny. Watch Arrested Development.

Arrrrrrrr!

Ahoy, mateys! This be my only post in pirate-speak, in honor of this Talk like a Pirate Day. Any more, and I'd soon go madder than ol' man Jackson; gone real crazy, he did. Arrrrrr.

Fictional establishments

Sometimes I think of really good names for businesses, businesses I will never own or operate. A while back I decided that "yeast affection" would be the greatest possible name for a bakery. I thought of one today that's not quite as good: if I ever were to, for some reason, own a seafood restaurant, I might call it "clamdestine."

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The lenses have arrived

My lenses arrived yesterday, but I refrained from opening them until today. Unfortunately, I won't have a camera to put them on until sometime next week, so until then I must content myself by looking through these somewhat-surprisingly heavy pieces of metal and glass. This is way worse than that time when I bought a Segway and had to wait until the next day to ride it. :)

For those of you who care to know what I ended up getting:
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM prime
  • Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM wide-angle zoom
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM telephoto zoom

Friday, September 17, 2004

Microsoft and the invention of RSS

I've been thinking today, or at least for the half hour I've been up. Microsoft created Active Channels (CDF) back in 1997, before Windows 98 was even released. RSS is just channels with different names, released two years later. So, why did the internet suddenly adopt RSS? Back when RSS started becoming popular as a way to aggregate blog postings and news, something like 99% of the world could have been able to use channels, but instead websites chose RSS, which maybe 1% of the world could use. I did a little googling this morning (mainly to find out when RSS was introduced, 1999), and I can't find a lot about CDF vs. RSS at all. The populizers of RSS knowingly chose a technology basically identical to channels that far, far, far fewer people could take advantage of, and I can think of only one reasonable explanation: RSS wasn't from Microsoft.

(For historical accuracy, I should point out that Microsoft didn't invent the idea of a syndication format. However, they did create the first XML syndication format, and they did offer the first successful commercial product that took advantage of it, Internet Explorer 4.)

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Best backpack ever

Occasionally I am so impressed by the design of some normally-mundane object that I just have to tell people about it. I have just purchased a backpack that I now must tell you all about. First, I'll start off by saying that it's a fairly expensive backpack—a little over $100—but I can see already that it was worth the money. I'm just going to list the most awesome things about this backpack; there are many more than I will bother listing.
  • The whole thing is water-resistant. It wouldn't survive being submerged, but it should take quite an aqueous pounding. In addition, it has a compartment on the bottom that contains a built-in stretchy poncho that you can pull out in case it's pouring and you can't find any shelter that will keep it dry indefinitely.
  • The main compartment of the backpack is heavily padded. You could probably put sensitive equipment (i.e. an expensive camera and lenses) in here and kick the backpack without fear.
  • The backpack comes with an absurd number of foam and velcro dividers in two different sizes. You can then adapt the main compartment to fit pretty much whatever kind of expensive equipment you want. It comes pre-configured to hold two SLR cameras and a half dozen extra lenses, plus filters and other accessories, but if you needed to take around a GPS unit, a seismograph, and lots of other crap, it could easily accomodate you. The walls are thick, so regardless of what you put in it, the backpack shouldn't lose its shape.
  • It also features a separate laptop compartment, padded just as well as the main compartment.
  • You can't tell it unless you know where to look, but a heavy-duty sleeve can be extended from the back to hold something big that doesn't fit in the compartment, such as a light tent or a tripod.
  • There are, of course, places for pens, paper, water, food, etc., just like any other backpack. If your water spilled in this compartment, it can't get to the laptop slot or main compartment.
  • It's comfortable, and it's got all of the usual ergonomic and technical features of a good backpack.

I'm extremely pleased with it. The only disappointing things are the price (but it could have been worse) and the fact that it's merely average in appearance. Then again, if you're going to put more than $5,000 worth of stuff in it, maybe it's best not to attract attention.

Specula

So, I've had a song on my playlist for three years with the title "speculum," and I've always just thought, "oh, yeah, a speculum, like the astral navigation instrument." Just today I stopped and thought: "wait... speculum. oh."

For easy reference:

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Worst burrito ever

So, tonight for dinner I had a "wet burrito" from Fundido's Baja Grill, a local place near Microsoft that's normally really good. It's like a non-chain version of Chipotle or Qdoba, but not quite as good, but also with a wider variety of items. In the past I have loved everything I had gotten from Fundido's, but I guess there's a first time for everything. The "wet burrito" was one of the worst things I have ever eaten. It is similar to a fajita burrito from Chipotle, except once it was all wrapped up it was coated in what I have decided to call "rimjob sauce." This thick, black sauce is perhaps the most bitter and unpleasant food product I have ever encountered, tasting like someone dropped a regular burrito in a state park outhouse, and let it soak there for 30 seconds. So, I implore you, stay away from the "wet burrito" at Fundido's.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The company meeting

The global Microsoft company meeting was quite the experience. There was a live event in an opera house in Seattle, but it was also broadcast worldwide by satellite, and available online to all 57,000 employees worldwide. I guess I shouldn't really be surprised that the production quality was so high, seeing as how so many people would be watching it... it felt like the Oscars, with video segments, interviews, applause signs, theme music, and so forth.

There was also a lot of singing, including a full-length music video about our business partners to the tune of "Bohemian Rhapsody." Even Red vs. Blue made an appearance to talk about Halo 2. And, of course, there was plenty of Bill adjusting his glasses and Steve screaming and waving his arms.

Uneventful

My life has been kind of pleasantly uneventful lately. I took advantage of my three-day weekend (thanks to taking Friday off to have the last of my wisdom teeth removed) and got a lot of work done on my own personal projects (mostly IvoryTower-related). There are several things that I would like to state opinions on for the record, but none of them are really worth their own posts. So, here we go:

Things that I have decided that I like:

  • Raspberry yogurt
  • The Microsoft Natural Multimedia Keyboard
  • Percocet and 600mg (triple-dose) Ibuprofen
  • Swiffer

Things that I have decided suck ass:

  • XSLT and XPath
  • Using one keyboard layout at work and another at home
  • Companies that charge you a fee to pay online instead of using a check
  • People who don't pay you for doing contract work
  • Being invited over to the house of a senior manager to play board games and then sleeping through your alarm clock for three hours because you're wacked-out on Percocet

There. I hope that was enlightening for you.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Photography

Photography (including cinematography) has always been my favorite visual art form. While I can certainly appreciate drawings, paintings, and sculptures, in various different styles, photography is my true love. (I consider graphic design and architecture to be a somewhat different class of visual art because of their utilitarian nature.) Photography is also one of very few art forms that I have some actual talent in (I also consider myself to have some talent in graphic design). I'm really excited about developing some photographic skill to go along with that talent when I get my new camera.

I just wish it weren't so damned expensive. The camera and two entry-level lenses are going to cost me at least $2,250, no mere pocket change. If I get two high-quality lenses, it jumps to $3,500. Why do all of my hobbies cost so much? Software development is expensive. Computer games are expensive. (At least board games aren't too expensive.) Collecting music is expensive. And, photography is really, really expensive. Then again, I guess a lot of hobbies that other people have don't interest me that much: my lack of interest in cars, travel, dating, and alcohol is probably the only reason I can sort-of-afford the things that I do enjoy.

I've been asked by some people why I need such expensive equipment, being an amateur photographer. I think the main one is that while I do it for fun, I do it as an art form. The thought that my creative soul isn't being recorded at the quality it could be is too unsettling for me. But, another huge reason is that, unlike many other hobbies, putting a lot of money into cameras, lenses, filters, and accessories can actually significantly broaden the quality and variety in the art that you create. I could have bought lens A for $80, but I'm probably going to get lens B for $300 instead, just because lens B would allow me to take sharper pictures with more detail in them. My goal is not to buy expensive equipment to impress anyone (if I wanted to do that I would buy jewelry or a car), or because I think it will automatically make my pictures better. My goal is that having high-quality equipment will allow me to grow as an artist, and allow me to create pictures that I simply could not have taken without it.

Back from the dentist

Well, I just got back from the dentist; I had my last two wisdom teeth removed. He assured me in my previous visit that I would be very high after this, and wouldn't be able to successfully call a cab to get back. He was disappointingly mistaken. I don't even feel like I've had one drink. It was a new experience, though. It was the first time I've ever been drugged, also never having been tipsy or high or anything before.

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Credit lessons learned

Well, I've finished my online dispute of my credit report. Unfortunately, some of the problems with it can't be disputed online, so I guess sometime in the next few days I get to talk to someone on the phone about it. Fantastic. To Experian's credit (pun intended), their online dispute system is pretty convenient and painless. My hope is that eliminating the inaccuracies about my credit report will be beneficial to me at some point in the future. The lessons that I would take from this experience:
  1. Once you're ready to go out on your own, get a copy of your credit report. You can get a free one if you do something that would cause a credit check to be performed on you (getting insurance, asking for a credit limit increase, etc.). There are probably inaccuracies in yours too, and getting them cleared up ahead of time might help you get lower insurance rates or otherwise help you out in the near future.
  2. Strange things are considered when companies are evaluating your credit. They look at the highest balance you've had on each of your credit cards over the last two years (it's reported every month). At some point in the last four years I nearly maxed out the balance on each of my lines of credit, so it looks like I'm a total loser, even though I paid back all of them immediately before they accrued interest. They also record every time you're late for a payment, which I'm happy about, because I've never been late for a payment of any kind. Finally, they record every time you move, which is really bad for college students, since you often move a couple times a year.

A very odd dream

I had a very strange dream last night. I was in a dorm or apartment building of some sort, and I was wandering around, lost. I came across various lounges and a café, but I didn't know (and still don't know) what I was looking for. It was very high-tech-looking, but very stylish and not "cold" in a stereotypical-sci-fi kind of way. As I continued wandering, I found a bathroom with a linen closet outside, stocked with towels. For some reason, I picked up a towel and went into the bathroom. The bathroom had a few stalls, and then a large open area with a couch and a several neon lights that had lots of tiny holes in them. In this large open area were several black handles suspended from cables from the ceiling. So, I pulled on one of the handles.

Pulling the handle turned off the white lights in the room and turned on the blue neon lights with holes in them. The room then began to spin rapidly as if I were inside a tube that was being rolled. I could hear what sounded like water falling, like a shower, but there was no water. At some point I figured out that I was in a futuristic shower that cleaned you using air or sonic waves or something that wasn't wet. While I was in the shower, other people came in and also used the shower, some of them sitting down on the couch, and not all of them male. Everyone was fully clothed, though.

So, we sat/stood there talking to each other while the room spun rapidly, somehow taking a shower without getting wet or undressing. As if that weren't weird enough, some of the people in the shower were recurring characters from other dreams that I've had that took place in totally different settings. The characters that I recognized included a sarcastic but funny black girl, a stereotypical sporty frat guy, and a shy guy that I was friends with. None of these people exist in real life, and like all other people in my dreams, they don't have names.

Once the shower ended, the room stopped spinning, and the normal lights came back on. Then, the dream ended. It was one of the most bizarrely interesting dreams I've had in a while, and it was both longer than 15 seconds and didn't take place in Microsoft Outlook, which makes it one of the best dreams I've had in a long time.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Insurance and credit reports

I've had so much fun with insurance recently that I thought I would share that joy with everyone else. So, two weeks ago, I got a letter from State Farm that said that they were canceling my Segway insurance as of about now. This was a little perplexing because I got a letter from them a day before saying that my rates were raised $7. So, the following Monday I went in to talk to my agent. The reason for the cancellation is that they consider the Segway a recreational vehicle (yes, as in "RV"), even though it is my only transporation. Due to a change in policy, you now have to pass a background check to get an RV insured, and I did not. In short, since the decision was made by State Farm and not their particular office, there was nothing she could do... she even tried to get them to make an exception. (I believe this story because she was quite infatuated with the Segway when I originally got the policy.) She called around, and only Progressive and a local company were willing to insure it. I went with Progressive.

This still left me with the confusing reason that I failed my background check, which she didn't understand any more than I did. So, I called ChoicePoint and Experian to get copies of the reports that State Farm used, and I got them yesterday. Here's what I found out about myself:

I own one "car," a 2004 Segway i170. However, its VIN on file was the wrong number of digits, so I must not really own one. Of course, Segways have serial numbers, not VINs. This was the ONLY information in the entire ChoicePoint report.

Then, I took at look at my Experian report. I did have one "notice," which was that one of the addresses on file, my one-month temp housing in Sammamish, WA was listed as a business and not a residence. They listed my company as "Engineering-Management Service." On the next page, I see that I occasionally use an alias: sometimes I go by the name "Travis Spomer" instead of "Travis M. Spomer." (Terrorist!) Not only that, but apparently I also lived at the corner of 2nd and E in Lincoln at some point, while I was living in Sammamish. (Just so we're clear, I have never lived at 2nd and E.) It must have been very inconvenient for me to drive so many thousands of miles each day.

But wait, there's more. After this, the banks that I have credit cards and lines of credit (such as my "same as cash" account with Levitz Furniture) with are listed. Apparently, they also think that I have a Citibank card and a Discover card; I have neither of these, and never have.

Finally, in the summary of the report, they tally up all of the "bad" things in your report. My total is 0. (At least they got that right.) All in all, there are at least four errors in the report, which I find fairly disturbing. Despite the fact that I have never been late for any payment of any kind and always pay off all of my credit card balances each month, these inaccuracies are apparently responsible for my insurance being canceled—insurance I had already paid for a year in advance.

Time management

I have just discovered the greatest secret of time management ever. (Even moreso than matter management: track your work and spend on matters... but that's a different story.) The trick is as follows:

1. Look at to-do list with ten things under "TUESDAY."
2. Change the word "TUESDAY" to "WEDNESDAY."

That's all there is to it! Now I can easily get done anything I need to get done in a given day. I used this trick to great effect today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Edit and Continue

Edit and Continue, conspicuously absent from Visual Studio .NET 2002 and 2003, is finally here in Visual Studio 2005. A few minutes ago was the first time that I have used it a .NET application, and it sent shivers of joy through my body. Edit and Continue is a fantastic feature that lets you change code as it is running. Forgot to check if something is null? Just slip the check in and hit F5 again. You can make almost any change you want, and don't have to recompile, restart, or any of that. It makes debugging so much more productive.

I can't wait until I can port IvoryTower over to .NET 2.0. There is simply too much programming goodness in Visual Studio 2005.

Monday, September 6, 2004

Night owls

I went in to work tonight (1) because I wanted to take a walk, and (2) because I needed to print something. It's kind of scary how many people are here. A full third or so of FrontPage (at least the people in my hall) are here right now, at 11:00 pm on a federal holiday.

They're making more!

I had the clever idea of using the larger master bedroom as my computer room, and the smaller bedroom as my own bedroom. I am very glad that I did. About five minutes ago, I started hearing extremely loud rhythmic pounding, as if someone put a bowling ball in a clothes dryer and tipped it on its side... except faster. At first, I thought, "no, it couldn't be, it's too exaggerated...", but soon after I became quite sure that it indeed was. After about four minutes of this, I hear an exaggerated "whew!", and no more than ten seconds later, their shower turns on. Good to know that the spark is still there.

If that guy wasn't wearing like five layers of condoms, I'm buying a gun. I want to buy one anyway. I would really like to take up shooting, but you can't shoot a firearm in city limits, and I think that the surrounding cities are the same way.

I hate babies, part 2

If I were to go upstairs and offer the parents some "baby sleeping pills," I wonder which item from my medicine cabinet would work better: Percocet, or triple-dose Ibuprofen? Hmmm...

I hate babies

I hate babies. I really hate them. I understand their basic goal and all... I just can't stand them. They're cute for the couple minutes a day they aren't screaming, but that's it. Absolutely worthless. I propose that we ship them all off to some remote spawning compound for the first year or so of their lives. They could receive top-notch care from the kind of people (and by "people," I mean women) who are actually batty enough to be able to stand their constant screaming. The hospitals could even ship the infant for you after birth.

Infant shipping clerk: Okay, 3-day will cost you $37.49; 2-day will cost you $52.85, and overnight will cost you $89.11.
Father: 3-day! I'm not made of money.
Mother: (gives "we're never having sex again" look)
Father: (sighs) Just kidding. Overnight, please.

This plan has two major advantages, one being that children could be raised by childcare professionals. The main advantage, however, is that I would not have to hear the hideous wailing of the demon-child who lives upstairs at unspeakable hours of the day.

Saturday, September 4, 2004

Potato bread

Hot, fresh-baked potato bread. I don't know why I didn't discover this miracle of nature sooner. A little richer, and a slightly thicker and spongier texture. It is one step closer to the perfect food, and it's all mine... Atkins people can bite me. This, my friends, is what our Labor Day veterans died for.

Friday, September 3, 2004

Hooray stereotypes

At work, I have three "neighbors": one to my left, one across the hall, and one diagonally between those two. All three are Asian. You'll find out why that's relevant in just a second. So, I've had my camera for three years now, and it wasn't new when I got it, and thus it's quite obsolete now. I was looking at cameras for a few minutes today at work, and the guy across the hall ran over and asked, "whoa, are you looking at the D20?" I was a bit surprised, so I said yes, and then he explained that both he and my diagonal neighbor were both planning on getting that camera. So, after a couple minutes, it was decided that we should all buy simultaneously so we can negotiate a better deal. He asked, "is anyone else on the team looking at cameras?" I almost said, "Well, we can ask Greg (my other neighbor). He's Asian too."

But, I didn't. These are the things that will get me fired.

Those crazy Lutherans

The "Next blog" button in the upper-right corner of my blog has returned some interesting results. I clicked it earlier today and got to the blog of a Lutheran pastor who started his first post with "word up, yo," and signed his posts with "I need a beer" and "><>". He also wrote a little about The Ladies' Man, which I couldn't bear to read. I can see that button being nearly as enthralling as Hot or Not, which is precisely why I must never click it ever again, or I will never get anything done.

They call me... Spomer

Something random I noticed today... no one calls me Spomer here. Not a single person. It's not like they don't know my last name, because it's on my emails, my security badge, my door, and elsewhere. I wouldn't think that was strange if it were not for the fact that I've had more friends and co-workers call me that than Travis.

Hopefully I will think of something more interesting to say later. This is what happens when you are running a big batch of automated tests on your other computer.

Thursday, September 2, 2004

On friendship

So, Daniel, the person who I would still consider as my best friend, is now in Bolivia for the next two years. I've known Daniel for eight years, so he's not my oldest friend (she's coming up on 23 years now), but pretty close. This got me thinking: I've almost never had a good friend for more than four or five years. Andy and my best friend from elementary school are on the borderline at about five or six years each. This seemed a bit weird to me. Despite staying in the same place for the first 22 1/2 years of my life, I couldn't manage to keep friendships for very long. Kids with parents in the military did better than I did. Why?

After elementary school, I went to the "normal" middle school that kids in my area attended. For some reason or another, most of my friends from school went to a differerent middle school that was further away, and my best friend moved to a different city with his dad. Then, after middle school, I decided to go to the high school where my mom worked instead of the one that was nearby, so once again I was in a new place with no one I knew. Throughout school, I became friendly with a lot of people, but never had more than a couple friends. Conveniently, my two best friends from high school both happened to come to JDE.

The fact that I kept going to fresh, new schools didn't help. I've always been an extreme introvert, and that made things much worse. So, finally, to my point: I'm not sure why this all happened. I mean, was I born with an inherent friendship deficiency? I never had any problems getting along with people... what was it about kindergarten through high school specifically that prevented me from being able to make friends?

For some reason, it all became really easy in college, especially starting my sophomore year. My personality and my intense fears of introducing myself to people, talking to people without being spoken to first, social events, and so forth didn't change. The only thing that comes to mind that was different was that I was living with these people now. Suddenly I have dozens of people who I would honestly consider good friends.

Now I'm off on my own, thousands of miles away from my family. I miss my family and people from my church—I mean, I've known them all my life—but not too much, and I'm not really homesick as I understand the word. However, it kills me that I'm away from my friends from college, and only AIM and IT keep me sane. It seems weird that I could miss people I've known for less than two years so much, yet not be bothered that I don't see my parents at all.

I don't know how things will work out here. There are several people here who I would consider decent friends, ranging from their late twenties to their fifties, and I like almost all of my co-workers. It's not the same, though. I lack the eloquence to explain what I feel.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Murder in the workplace

At one point this afternoon, after coming back from a meeting that did not go well, my officemate said "kill me" and sat down. I happened to have a half-inch-thick steel cable with me, so I put it around his neck and slowly tightened it. He did not seem amused.

There ARE free lunches at Microsoft

Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch? I was sitting right here in my office, and a guy walked in and asked, "hey, do you want a free lunch?" I said yes, and he handed me a big white box containing a free lunch. I said "thanks" and he said "sure," and then he left.