Friday, May 30, 2008

Pennsylvania 900-193

I just got a phone call from the six-digit number 900-193. There appeared to be no one on the other end. It was very weird.

Update: A lot of people are having the same problem. See the comments for this post.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nutrition Facts

Here's what I think might convince a few Americans to eat more healthy food: under the label that shows how many calories a particular food has, the label could also display that amount in pounds—as in pounds that each serving will add to your butt. Basically, divide the number of calories by roughly 3500, and display that amount. That cinnamon roll? .15 pounds. Is it worth increasing your weight by .15 pounds (or counteracting .15 pounds worth of exercise) for a cinnamon roll?

Probably the biggest problem is that people aren't good at extrapolating. .15 pounds isn't, of course, a noticeable amount. But .15 pounds every day for a week is a full pound. A lot of people work really hard to lose a pound a week. I can't say that people would be able to make that jump. Maybe you could divide the number of calories by 500 instead of 3500, and say that if you ate a snack like that every day for a week you'd gain X pounds. In the case of the theoretical cinnamon roll, approximately 1. That'd be more of an in-your-face number. Eat one of these a day for a week, and you gain a pound. Would that motivate people to eat better?

Or, maybe we could, you know, develop more healthy food that doesn't taste terrible. One step at a time, I guess.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday is

Tuesday is... the day when all of your bug bites from Sunday start to itch like hell.

Suicide list

Over the past several weeks I've been working hard to whittle down my to-do list, and I've been pretty successful. My computer desktop is clean, and the sticky note that contains my list of things I need to do is the shortest it's been since... maybe ever. I've been dutifully working through every task on the list, making sure that I've tied up all of the loose ends. I'm one step away from starting to give away my worldly possessions in preparation for committing suicide. (The key there is to keep all of your stuff.) I've got things to do tomorrow, and a measly two long-term tasks, and then that's it. Pretty soon I might be able to pick up on one of my side projects that have lain dormant for so long. Or, like, get adequate sleep for a while. I feel a slight tinge of pride in myself.


Currently listening: Bear McCreary—Wayward Soldier

M is for Music

The short version:
Morcheeba—The Antidote: 9/10
Madonna—Hard Candy: 7/10
Mythos—Purity: 7/10


I've been listening to three totally different albums from three "M" artists this May. (It's all coincidence, I assure you.) The first was the previous album by Morcheeba, The Antidote. It's fantastic; I love just about every track on it. The style is some kind of mix of chillout music and sexy James Bond themes; it sits in a perfect spot between energetic and soothing. It's hard to pick just a few songs to showcase, but Wonders Never Cease (video), Everybody Loves a Loser, and Daylight Robbery are probably the best three. I'd recommend it to just about anyone.

Next up is Madonna's latest, Hard Candy. It's decent, and has quite a few catchy beats, but it's kind of disappointing. It's probably my least favorite Madonna album of the ones I've heard, and it had to grow on me to get to my current opinion. It's kind of mindless, and though the tracks are catchy, most of the beats aren't that creative and the production not that great. Several of the tracks, including the first single 4 Minutes (watch the official "WTF is she wearing? video) just seem really lazy. It's got Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and Timbaland in the same song, and it's danceable, so I guess that makes it a guaranteed hit, but it's really not that great of a song. But luckily, there are still enough decent songs on the disc to be worthwhile if you like dance music at all. My favorite tracks are less dance-oriented than most of the album: Heartbeat, Devil Wouldn't Recognize You, and Voices. Anyway, not something that I'd insist that anyone go run out and buy, but you could still do far worse in buying electronic pop.



Finally is Purity, my first CD from a new band I'll probably start looking into more: Mythos. This is New Age fake world music, and it does it pretty darn well. You'll like it if you like Delerium, especially if you wish that Delerium didn't make a turn for the pop charts several years ago, because there's nothing here you'd hear on the radio. It's pleasant and soothing and beautiful, but its biggest problem is probably that it's not particularly memorable. Unlike just about every track on the Madonna and Morcheeba CDs, I couldn't tell you the name of any of them on this disc. It's a perfectly cromulent album; it's just more suited for background music or relaxation or meditation. Check out Surrender, Adagio, and Mystique for the best examples of what this CD is all about.


I've nearly exhausted my music queue. I've got the Battlestar Galactica season 3 soundtrack, which I'm mostly finished with and is very good, and the new (free) Nine Inch Nails album The Slip, which isn't really my thing. I guess I gotta start ordering more! I've got a few ideas in my list...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Silly Google

Blogger is dumb. If you make something that it thinks is a spelling error, it actually changes your post's HTML to include a span tag around the spelling error.

<span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_1">nametags</span>

Elephant memory

I got a haircut today. (It feels glorious, by the way.) Everyone at the place I go to knows me and remembers very specific details about me. The manager was cutting my hair today, and she remembered that not only was I going to get a ceiling fan installed, but that I wasn't sure if I was going to do it myself or not because it was in the stairwell and would potentially be more complicated than a regular installation. She remembers that I like sci-fi and fantasy movies, and asked me if I had seen Iron Man and Indiana Jones yet. She remembers exactly how I like my hair cut, and I don't even remember her name. (In fairness there, their system displays my name on their screen, and they don't wear nametags.)

For a person with poor memory, this is both impressive and a little bit creepy. I have trouble recalling details like those about a lot of my friends, let alone people who cut my hair. Now, I'm willing to admit that I might be more distinct than their other customers; I've been going there for most of my haircuts in the past four years, and I'm the only one who rides there on a Segway. It's still a little weird to me, though, to have people I don't know remember those sorts of minutiae.


Currently listening: Morcheeba—Antidote

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A sense of loss

I used to have two recycle bins in my office: one behind me, and one at the door. This stems from back when I had an officemate: my officemate and I drank so much Diet Coke that we ran out of room for our cans halfway through the week, so we were given a second one. A couple nights ago "they" replaced my old bins with a single new blue one. It's doubtful that I need two anymore. But I really miss having that recycle bin behind me. After I finished a can I could triumphantly deposit it. It was a natural part of Diet Coke consumption. Now I have to hurl it toward the window hoping that it makes it into the can without splashing on my blinds (bad idea) or wait until the next time I leave my office (good idea).

Penny Arcade Style

I downloaded and played the demo for On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode One at dinner tonight. It seems amusing enough. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to throw a fruit at an evil robotic juicer to distract it, and then watch it rapidly rape the fruit in glorious semi-3D, it's the game for you. Other than the violent produce deflowering, though, what really struck me about the game was just how much style it exudes. The character creation and cartoon cutscenes in particular felt extremely well-done. I'm not a huge fan of 2D cartoons being translated into 3D, but this seems as good as any.

Polish and style mean a lot to me in games, and not many games make such a good impression. Those that did? Blizzard's games, Crysis, Assassin's Creed, Gears of War, Half-Life 2, Doom 3, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Heroes of Might and Magic II, Nox, and Malcolm's Revenge come to mind. Those are games that don't feel like they were rushed, and games where you can almost feel the love and care that went into them from the very first play.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Eye-yi-yi

I've been using this cream under my eyes that's supposed to reduce the appearance of my "bags" or dark circles. It seems to be working. My only real annoyance with it is that if I manage to get it too close to the edge of my eyelids, I don't notice until the next morning, when I wake up and my eyelid hurts. I actually wish it would sting on contact; then at least I could wash out my eye and do something about it.

Anyway, I should get to bed so I can see Indiana Jones tomorrow...


Currently listening: Madonna—Devil Wouldn't Recognize You

Shootout

I had my first (vaguely) Crysis-related dream last night, very delayed, since it's been a week since I finished the game. I was driving down a highway when traffic began to slow down. I couldn't see why. The car stopped working, so I put it in neutral and we got out and pushed, still on the highway; we could easily push it at the same slow speed that everyone was driving. (I don't remember how many of us there were. Three? I didn't see faces.) Eventually I got to a point where I could see that the highway was badly torn up—pieces of the road were simply missing, or cracked, or cratered, or scattered all about. It got much more difficult to push at that point, so we just pushed it off the side of the road so it wouldn't be in the way. Traffic had almost entirely stopped at that point, and suddenly I saw a rocket heading right toward us. I got out of the way. I survived. My passengers didn't.

When I picked myself up, I could see that there was a violent standoff up ahead between some people hiding in abandoned buildings, and some military types, who were blocking traffic. They were quite a distance from the highway—maybe a quarter mile or so—but that didn't stop there from being civilian casualties and massive road damage.

Suddenly I found myself in the complex of abandoned buildings. The military types and the "bad people" were still fighting, and it wasn't long until the military retreated or was all killed or otherwise left. It was just me and the people who kept firing rockets at the road. I hadn't been fighting at that point, but once I realized it was only me, I left my hiding spot, and one by one, I snuck around, waiting for people to turn corners, and punched them in the face, knocking them out. I took a gun from the first guy, but I never used it as far as I can recall; I killed everyone else there stealthily, hand-to-hand.

Before killing the last of the "bad people," I was joined by one of the military guys, who was only wounded but not killed in the prior fight. Once we thought that we were safe, we both saw one more person coming into the area with all of the buildings through the bushes. We hid. He looked like he was one of the civilians from the road, but the military guy said that nobody would have made it here from the road without being seen (hmm, I did), and it was likely a trap. He said that we should kill him. So I did. I snuck up behind him and snapped his neck. As he fell to the ground I saw that he was carrying photography gear—he was a reporter, from the road.

Once I was again pretty sure that I was safe, I went and hid in a room. Several minutes later, I heard a knock. I slowly opened the door to find people in baby blue aprons and dust masks; I was surprised to see them and yelped. The hispanic woman at the door spoke to me.

Woman: We're here to clean for you, Meeeester Spomer. My, you certainly murdered a lot of people today!
Me: I... I didn't murder them. It was self-defense. I don't know how I got here...
Woman: Sure! Whatever you say! We are just here to clean.

The much taller cleaning lady removed her hat and mask to show that she wasn't a cleaning lady at all, but rather a guy that I had been driving with, who had survived the initial attack. I didn't ever find out what happened to the other passenger. The dream ended.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The quotes file

All throughout college I had my Quotes file—a Word document of eighty pages that was just full of quotes that I thought were funny or interesting, mostly from my friends. I had a good time maintaining it. But at some point, I think my senior year, I stopped maintaining it. I occasionally—just a couple times a year now—put new quotes in it, but I've pretty much given up on it.

I don't know what really motivated me to create it in the first place. Perhaps subconsciously I thought that maybe I'd never be around people as funny as the people I knew in college, and I had to preserve those memories forever. Or maybe it was just part of my obsessive need to collect, store, and organize things. But whatever it was, I grew out of it. When I go through the list today, I realize that I hear and say things every day that are funnier than a lot of stuff in there. Only a few pages' worth of quotes in that document are probably truly special. It doesn't make much sense to worry about keeping most of the stuff in there, especially if I'm not going to keep adding new stuff that's just as entertaining as or more than other quotes in it.

The last quote I put in there was actually only about a month ago, and it was from 30 Rock, not real life.

Jack: But let me ask you a question, Kenneth. If Mr. Bright here told you to vote Republican, would you do it?
Kenneth: Oh, uh, no sir. I don’t vote Republican… or Democrat. Choosing is a sin, so I always just write in the Lord’s name!
Jack: That’s Republican; we count those.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Puzzle Quest

After finishing Crysis, I'd intended to get into Assassin's Creed. I'm about two hours in; I'd mostly just tried it out before I got around to starting Crysis. But now I'm not so sure that it's the sort of game that I want to play right now. I got my mom the weird puzzle/RPG hybrid game Puzzle Quest for Mother's Day, since she likes puzzle-type games, and she and my dad have become addicted to it. (Mom's into puzzle games, and Dad's into RPGs, so it seems that they both found something they like.) They had run into some questions about using spells and constructing buildings, so I decided to download a demo on the Xbox yesterday and try it out for myself. I only played it for about 20 minutes, but it was entrancing. I had to stop myself. Now I've been finding myself thinking about it from time to time. Twenty minutes! That's all it took.

This Bejeweled-Plus-Hit-Points infiltrated my mind in only twenty minutes, and now there is a greater-than-zero chance that I will succumb to temptation tomorrow and buy it. I almost feel like the veteran gamer in me should be immune to the allure of these gem-matching parlor tricks. But it's not.

It's a fairly silly concept, really. To use a cliché, it feels wrong, but yet so right. It's an RPG in which all battles are fought by playing Bejeweled. Honestly, there are plenty of RPGs that are very entertaining when combat consists of clicking a fight button a dozen times, so I guess it makes sense that Puzzle Quest is fun when the fight button has been replaced with a grid of gems—something proven to be fun in and of itself. The RPG mechanics really do seem to add depth to what's normally an extremely casual game. It's certainly good to see that people are innovating and mixing and matching genres.


Update from the comments: I indeed bought Puzzle Quest from the Xbox Live Arcade, and I played it a bit last night. It has already helped me to nearly miss one workout.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Crysis

I finished Crysis, the spiritual sequel to Far Cry, and I have to say... it's a pretty fantastic game. It looks gorgeous, and it plays great. The one-sentence synopsis is that you're a soldier on an island in Korea, equipped with a "nanosuit" that gives you a choice of special powers: superhuman strength, speed, or resilience, or a cloak. The nanosuit idea actually works very well in practice, because it leaves your options open. Say you're facing an enemy base. You can switch your suit to speed mode, dash in across the bridge, and hide when you get there. You can use armor mode and try to fight your way in before you're killed by snipers. Or, you can put on strength mode to give yourself incredible jumping ability, and then fall down to the rocks below, engaging your cloak before the enemy spots you, and then finding a stealthy back way in. Most of the time, you really do have a wide variety of options for how you'll tackle each situation, so the game fits a bunch of different play styles. Your suit recharges power and heals you very rapidly between battles, so there's no need to be anal about hit points, yet you're still fragile enough (especially when not in armor mode) to make you think and play smartly.

It might sound like I'm overstating the open-endedness of the game based on how poorly most games that purport to give you a choice end up implementing it, but in Crysis the levels are massive just so you can do things at your own pace in the way you want to. It's like the Oblivion of shooters. And like Oblivion, the environments are fantastic, and every once in a while make you want to stand around and gawk. The detail level is incredible; you can stand on a hill, put on your binoculars and zoom in to the maximum level, and see trees and rocks on another hill elsewhere on the island—a part of the island that you might not even have a reason to ever visit, but they put the details in anyway. There's no real limit to the draw distance, unlike most games that would start to draw "fog" to keep the framerates high.



And did I mention it's gorgeous? Everything about the game's visual quality is topnotch—the models, the terrain, the textures, and the special effects. When there's electrical interference nearby or you take heavy damage, your suit's visuals begin to distort in a very believable way. You can even get blood splatter and ice crystals on your mask, and some levels have night/day transitions. Even the computer screens in-game are high-resolution, interactive, and believable, like Doom 3. It comes at a price, though—my computer's specs are pretty decent, but even my machine could only run it at medium settings. I had to turn off antialiasing to get a decent framerate in some areas. I can't imagine there even exists a computer today that would render Crysis playable at the maximum settings. (All of the screenshots in this post are at the settings I played with—medium—except with 2x antialiasing because that's how I started the game out.)



The story plays out well, though the last third of the game doesn't have the massive scope or open-ended feel of the first two-thirds. The story isn't exactly incredible, but it's not a liability, and it's presented very well, like any good blockbuster action movie.

If you're a fan of shooters and have a computer that can run it, I can wholeheartedly recommend Crysis with no reservations. It's one of the best I've ever played. Versus Gears of War and Half-Life 2 it wins out in graphics, and is right on par in gameplay. Gears of War is more visceral, Half-Life 2 has better storytelling, and Crysis is far less linear than either.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Principles of hot waitstaff

I was thinking that, if I were in an economics class and had to write a paper, I'd want to do it on this topic: what would different historical economists have to say about how much you should tip attractive waiters and waitresses?

I was originally going to mention Adam Smith here, but I'm not going to show my ignorance by losing the "match the economist to the theory" game, so let's just call my theoretical economist "Madam Sith." I like the ring to that. Madam Sith believes that people in a capitalistic society will act selfishly, but everyone acting largely selfishly will actually yield the best possible outcome for society as a whole. Would she, then, tip well so as to encourage that hot waiter to stay a waiter forever, or would she tip lightly to save as much income for herself? What if the waiter was just working a temporary job to pay for school, and was eventually looking to get into the same field of work as Madam Sith? Should Madam Sith tip very poorly to encourage him to study hard and get out of waiting tables as soon as possible?

These are the questions that need answers... these are the questions that should be answered by a sophomore economics student in a class paper.

Pope Mark Twain III

Science fiction short story idea:

In the future, the dominant religions are all based on one-line adages of today. For example, there is an entire religion based on "a place for everything and everything in its place." I bet you could extrapolate that into an interesting story.

Omen

Today after I got out of bed, when making my bed, I picked up a corner of my out-of-place sheets and blanket and threw it toward its correct destination. I intended to just get it near where it needed to be so I could reach it more easily when I went over to the other side of the bed. But when the sheets fell, everything was already exactly where it should be. I had made my bed with a single throw. If that's not an omen that today is going to be a good day, I don't know what is.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Painful experience

As obnoxious as it can be sometimes to be on the homeowner's association board, after last night's emergency meeting (I won't get into the details publicly) I think that this is probably going to be pretty good life experience in the long run. At work I make the occasional important decision that has a significant impact on our product. But it only impacts people who use SharePoint Designer, and they're not financial or business decisions. In the homeowner's association I have to consider the needs and situations of everyone in the association, but more significantly, I'm playing around with real dollars. I own (well, in 29 years I will) about 5.3% of the association, but I have 20% of the voting power. That 20% is a lot of money to be responsible for.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Oops

Well, the bad news is that I didn't successfully finish my Ethernet wiring project tonight. The good news is that I now have a handy window from my office room to the stairwell.

Wait, that's bad news too. The hole was supposed to end up downstairs through the floor, not in the stairwell through the wall. Flexible drill bits are approximately as hard to use successfully as they look.

I failed at pretty much everything today. I'm glad it's over.

Monday, May 5, 2008

lolangelz

Sans Seraph only please

Nothin' says funny like a font joke. (Why haven't lolangelz caught on?)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Flowers

I gots me flowers now.


All Along the Watchtower

The third season of Battlestar Galactica ended with a cover of the Bob Dylan song All Along the Watchtower. I've listened to several versions today, and I like the Battlestar version considerably better than the others. I think that these are the best I've come across, in order of increasing how-much-I-like-them-ness.

Bob Dylan (original)


Eric Clapton and Lenny Kravitz (live)


Seph and the Bloods (never heard of 'em until now)


Bear McCreary and BT4 (Battlestar Galactica version)

Introvert clubs

Dance clubs, and to a lesser extent bars, are geared toward extroverts. For an introvert, they're downright hostile—they're loud, packed with strange people, and the expectation that you're going to get to know one or two of them. But I wonder if there's a way to make a club that caters to introverts. And if you made it, could you get people to come?

What group activities do introverts have? Board games at hobby shops, and Magic: The Gathering at the same. In areas with internet cafés, online multiplayer games paid by the hour. It seems that the common thread amongst introvert-friendly group activities is that they're all things that you have to have another person for, at least to get the same experience. (Single-player video games are very different from multiplayer, even in the same game.) They're also things that work in small groups, even when playing within a larger group.

So I guess an introvert club would want to have gaming rooms. Instead of a bar, maybe a coffee house or café area. The place would have to have free wireless internet.

The biggest problem with the idea besides the fact that there's no guarantee it would be successful at all is that it would almost certainly be far less profitable than a regular dance club. An introvert club would require many times the space of a regular club to comfortably house the same number of people. Most introvert activities don't mix well with alcohol, so the place would have to come up with a model where they can sell non-alcoholic drinks and overpriced snacks to make up for that.

I have my doubts that it could be successful, but it would be interesting. Even Lincoln, Nebraska could get together a few hundred people at a HobbyTown USA to have Magic tournaments on Saturdays; I'm sure a large metro area could offer enough people to have an introvert-focused club. You'd just need to convince people to go. Maybe it would just have to open a couple times a week at first; introverts seem to prefer their limited social activities to be planned out in advance. I have my doubts that it could work. But at least in concept, it would be nice if such a place existed.

I Heart Huckabees

I saw I Heart Huckabees on Saturday. It's got a good cast that all acts well, decent writing, and good direction. And it's awful; I hated it. I don't know if I've ever respected a movie I disliked this much. And that's pretty much exactly what I was told to expect from the movie.

The concept is unique and clever—people struggling to find meaning in their lives go to get help from existential detectives Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman. The detectives spy on everything they do, their backgrounds, and so forth, discovering facts that will help them find the meaning in their clients' lives. But the plot is nonsensical and the characters are all very unlikable, and completely unrelatable unless perhaps you're having your own existential crisis.

So, clever concept aside, I'm left with a movie made up of characters that I hate, doing things I think are stupid, behaving in unpleasant ways, and not generally being any funnier than tongue-slightly-in-cheek. It reminds me of a Wes Anderson movie, except with a couple redeeming qualities. Just not enough to save it.

Battlestar

Well, I finally finished season three of Battlestar Galactica tonight, so I'm out of things to watch while working out. Good timing, though, because I should be able to wire my place for Ethernet as soon as Tuesday night. Then I'll be able to watch TV on my Xbox without the wireless hiccups that made me temporarily give up on the idea. That should be sweet.

Here is my review of season three, and the final few episodes in particular:

:-O

I won't be able to wait for season four to come out on DVD. As nice as it was to watch the whole season over the course of a few weeks instead of a year, I think I'll go nuts if I try that again. I'm just going to have to watch the episodes on scifi.com.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Wide Angle

The short version:
Sia—Colour the Small One: 7/10
Hybrid—Wide Angle: 5/10

One CD that I've listed to quite a bit recently is Sia's second, Colour the Small One. It's not quite as good as her most recent, but noticeably better than her first. The sound is definitely more similar to her recent work than her debut, but more melancholy and reserved than either. For a taste of what it sounds like, try Breathe Me (video), Where I Belong, and Numb (animated video).

I've also been listening to Wide Angle by Hybrid, and I haven't been that impressed. It's a bit more trance-y than I'm usually in the mood for, which hurts my opinion of it. I guess "cinematic trance electronica" probably describes it about as well as I can. You'd be better off listening to If I Survive (video), Sinequanon, and Altitude (Red Square Reprise).


Currently listening: Morcheeba—Wonders Never Cease

Fast

Today I got a package from Amazon.com that shipped... today. I ordered it last night, it shipped out today, and it was on my doorstep today, a few hours later. The carrier is Dynamex, a company I'd never heard of that specializes in same-day deliveries.

Amazon.com: for when you really, really need that new Madonna CD delivered to you via same-day service.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Hand-ripping death packaging

As much as I hate our overly litigious society sometimes, I think that I'd be pretty happy if someone bought something packaged in one of those super-hard plastic shells, cut their hand on the packaging, sued the manufacturer, and won. Maybe if a few people sucked a few big chunks of cash from major corporations they'd stop using that damned impossible-to-open plastic for every random product that doesn't need it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Enum parameters

This is something that I've wanted for many, many years. (Warning: coding post.) It's considered good coding practice to not use boolean flags as parameters to functions, but rather to use enumerated types, so that things are extensible in the future by adding new items to the enumeration rather than yet another flag parameter, and so that the calling code is more explicitly readable. In concept it's usually good advice (though there are times that what you want really is a set of boolean flags), but generally I avoid using it in practice because I dislike the way that it makes the code look.

person = FindPerson(name, false)
...versus...
person = FindPerson(name, PersonFindOptions.CaseInsensitive)

The latter is clearer since it's explicitly case-insensitive rather than having to wonder whether that second parameter means "is case sensitive" or "is case insensitive," but it puts too much visual emphasis on the unimportant part of the function call—the case-insensitive flag. It's important to me that as much as possible of the textual content of a line of code be meaningful. What I'd like to see is this:

person = FindPerson(name, Insensitive)

That's so clear and nice-looking! In version 2, when you want to specify a second option, it's still simple and clear:

person = FindPerson(name, Insensitive RefreshCache)

(It's not as essential that whitespace become synonymous with the logical or operator in this context, but it seems like a nice bonus, since what you want is both option 1 AND option 2, but what you have to type to get that is "option 1 Or option 2", which looks especially dumb if your language uses the word "or" and not a symbol, like Basic.)

Specifically what I want from my language is that if the compiler knows that what I'm about to type is a value from an enumeration (parameters, variable assignments, et cetera), the name of the enumeration becomes optional. This doesn't work in C++ without some language extensions, but it could easily be made to work in VB or C# or most any other modern language (except ones that don't have enums, like older versions of Java). The chances of conflicts between existing names and enumeration values seem like they would be low in practice (especially in a case-sensitive language), but local variable names should win out if they do. That way, if you add a new item to your enumeration that matches a variable name used in a function anywhere, you don't change the meaning of the existing code.

Screw annuals

I took a day-vacation today, and it was pretty refreshing—it's like a bonus half-weekend, smack dab in the middle of a week. I spent the day buying and planting flowers and decorative grasses for my miniature front yard and my carport. It all looks pretty nice now, if a little sparse—I'll have pictures soon, I'm sure. I still don't like touching flowers, but I'm getting much better (less ridiculous) about it. With latex gloves on I wasn't bothered at all today.

I was sure to only buy perennials, so I won't have to do all this again next year. Screw annuals and their needy passive-aggressive plant-me-every-year nonsense. I don't need another extremely mild sunburn next year, thank you very much.

Anyway, that's one more project down. Now I just need to get that ceiling fan up in the stairwell, and in a couple weeks I should have the last tool I need to wire my "office" and living room for Ethernet.