Monday, January 31, 2005

Sweet holy Lord

My officemate left about 45 minutes ago after a 22-hour workday. He fixed as many bugs yesterday as I did last week. We have the same manager and are at the same level. We will be compared against each other come review time. Sigh.

Not just clumsy in real life

Palinor: I wonder if there's an easier way in there...
(falls in lava and dies)
Palinor: Nope.
Me: I wonder if I can rez you from there.
(falls in lava and dies)
Me: Nope.
Palinor: Sigh. Banderling, meet us by the entrance?
Banderling: I don't know if I can make it; laughing too hard...

Sunday, January 30, 2005


I had an idea... again, not something I've put a lot of thought into yet: maybe what it means to like or dislike a genre of music is two things: (1) it sets your basic expectations for a song if you don't have any prior experience with the artist, and (2) it sets a cutoff for how good a song has to be for you to like hearing it. Rap and hip-hop are not some of my favorite genres. However, there are quite a few rap and hip-hop songs that I love, and I like them just as much as any others in my list of favorite songs. There just aren't any rap songs that I "sorta" like on my playlist, in contrast with quite a few pop/rock songs that I sorta like on my list. Similarly, I don't really like jazz, but I was just thinking about how much I really like "Anonymous Skulls" by Medeski, Martin, and Wood, even though I have almost no jazz on my playlist.

I don't think I have any country that I like, though. There are a couple folkish Jewel songs on there, and a few Shakira songs that sound an awful lot like country. Rap and jazz used to be my least favorite genres. Now I think country is.

And another thing...

And why isn't covered-waistband underwear much more popular than it is? It's really the way to go. Who wants the elastic touching their skin, or to feel the top of the band when you bend? Is it just that it's so hard to find that people have never tried it, and don't know what they're missing?

We're just getting taller

My mother has suggested a couple times in the past that people are taller now than they "used to be," when she was younger. I don't put a lot of faith in her random observations, but I wonder if this is true, and if it is, why. It always did seem in high school that the students were noticeably taller than the teachers. Is it because of improved overall health? Are tall people so much more desirable than short people that we're skewing the gene pool? I'm not sure that either of those possibilities are all that convincing. But, it does seem that not nearly enough things are designed with people my height in mind, and I certainly don't see myself as absurdly tall. Even my king-sized bed is far too short; I have to lie diagonally on it to be comfortable. It's hard to find desks/tables and chairs that are comfortable to people my height. And, I've already touched on clothing being too small. What gives?


How can a T-shirt label itself "extra extra large" and yet provide such a dangerously high probability of exposing my stomach if I am to stretch even a little? There are people near my office who are a good six inches taller than I; such a piece of clothing must seem like a tube top to them. At slightly under six-foot-three, I don't even stand out as being particularly tall around the office (when not on my Segway). (Maybe Microsoft just prefers to hire enormously tall people.)

I don't understand at all why shirts are so short as they are. Even people of more normal heights expose their stomachs on a regular basis when stretching or leaning back. I could deal with it, perhaps, if a greater number of the people I worked with had sexy stomachs. But "sexy stomach" is not a word I can apply to my coworkers, mostly pretty normal-sized men. These are things that I do not wish to see. A standard XXLT is the absolute minimum height of shirt that I want to wear. I'm tired of these trends toward smaller clothing. Why can't it be the style for your shirt to end at your crotch?

Just not trying anymore

My fruit salad had a recipe on the side of the can for "Dole® tropical delight." Here's how to make it:
  • 1 can fruit salad
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • Mix.

I would not take issue with the packaging if it just said "great with yogurt!" or something like that, but no, they called that a recipe. It's a recipe in the same way that the sound of urinating on a xylophone could be a symphony.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I've already got four minutes planned

Hey, I'm partway there... three minutes and fifty-eight seconds of this music video would be for "Gravity of Love" by Enigma. I've said before that, were I to make an action movie, it would feature a slow-motion sequence that lasted for the entire duration of this song. I'll just have to make sure that my musical has a slow-motion action sequence.

The 21st Century Musical

I'm sure someone, probably in Europe for a really low budget, has already done this. But, here's my idea: a 90-minute music video. It wouldn't just be one song; it would, of course, be many. But, it would be highly stylized, be interesting, have an interesting story, and be dialogue-free (or mostly so). It would definitely be possible to convey an intriguing plot through song; some music videos already do this. Just extend it out 30X and you've got a cool movie. From a commercial perspective, if you crammed in a few popular songs that didn't happen to suck, ticket sales probably would be decent, and the soundtrack would sell well. From an artistic perspective, as long as you didn't sell out too much it would be a really interesting project.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Easily distracted

I have this problem where, when brushing my teeth, I get distracted and bored and start doing something else, whether it's writing a note, checking IvoryTower, folding laundry, cleaning up, turning off my cell phone, or some other random thing. I inevitably remember that I had started brushing my teeth a while later when I notice the toothbrush stuck in my mouth, or when I start gagging on the toothpaste suds. I'd guess that I probably do this at least 98% of the time, if not considerably more. Even when I consciously try to just brush my teeth, I'll find myself wandering off to turn off lights or something like that. It's both annoying and amusing.

I love it when I'm right

Someone tried to convince me that there were druid trainers in Ironforge and Stormwind today. Fool. Everyone knows you have to use Teleport: Moonglade, take a hippogryph to the Rut'theran Circle, enter Darnassus through the glowing pink portal, and then walk over to the Cenarion Circle. I mean, duh.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A managerial annoyance

One thing that annoyes me about my work situation is what I see as an unhealthy obsession over bug count, something that I find unpleasant and extremely arbitrary. Each week, at the developers' meeting, a spreadsheet listing peoples' bug counts is shown to the team. You might initially think that this would be some kind of accurate reflection of how much people are working, but you'd be wrong.
  • First of all, bugs vary greatly in size and scope. Something like "there's a typo in this dialog" is a bug. Something like "I think that we should swap the positions of these two buttons" is a bug. Something like "we should rearchitect our caching system to support this particular scenario" is a bug. That enough seems like a large enough problem to cause managers to avoid doing too much planning based on peoples' bug counts.
  • Second of all, you only have so much control over your own bug count. Some bugs can't be fixed, some shouldn't be fixed (either they're too obscure to be worth the time, or perhaps the tester who filed them didn't realize the implications of their erroneous suggested "fix"), some were filed incorrectly (they forgot to do X first). But, worst of all, your bug count depends heavily on how eager the testers are at assigning you bugs. If you got ten bugs filed against you between 8:00 and 10:00 on Monday (this happened to my manager), suddenly you look like you did almost no work last week.
  • Then, there's even potential for some strongly negative behavior when you focus too much on peoples' total number of bugs. The FrontPage bug counts are historically some of the lowest in Office, but recently, we haven't been as low as we used to be, partially due to some structural rewrites, and partially due to a big recent test sweep of things that don't normally get tested that much (extremely long translated strings in dialogs, 72-pt title bars, white-on-black color schemes, etc.). So, a the managers decided that we should all try to fix 2/3rds of our bugs over the next few weeks. This is stupid. It even encourages some bad behavior: people assigning their bugs to someone else on Fridays, saying, "hey, can you take a look at this?" just to get it off their counts, people marking bugs as "fixed" even when they're only "pretty sure" they have a solution, and people spending sixteen hours on the weekend trying to get their bug counts down to the point where they thought they'd be before their tester went overboard Friday afternoon. To be honest, these negative effects (except the weekend hours) have been few and far between in my observations, but I still think that it sets a negative trend, and shifts the focus away from understanding each developer's unique situation.
  • Finally, there are essentially punishments for fixing too many or too few bugs. If you don't fix enough bugs, then you have to deal with telling your manager that you didn't get done what you thought you could get done. There's no penalty, but it's still something that everyone would like to avoid. If you put in a lot of extra hours and fix too many bugs, then suddenly your counts are low, so people feel the need to shift some of their bugs over to you. I just "won" FrontPage's image handling code because of my low bug count.

Unnecessary and unhealthy obsession over bug counts is my number-two grief about working at Microsoft. My number-one annoyance is that everyone on my team spends way too much time in the office. Nobody tells them to, they just do. For some, it's because they have nothing better to do. For others, it's because they feel pressured to keep up with the rest of the team. I don't spend that much more than 40 hours a week in the office, so I'm basically now a slacker compared to the rest of the team, which annoys me greatly. But, I guess I'd rather be a slacker and get paid the same amount as someone else on the team who doesn't have time to themselves because they're always working.

Strange associations

I always find it interestingly weird when I form seemingly random associations between different events. In my high school psychology class, we had the infamous "orange day," in which we did nothing for 50 minutes but listen to the Barenaked Ladies song "It's All Been Done" (I'm pretty sure that's the one... at the very least, it was the Barenaked Ladies) while eating a single orange. To this day, I think of oranges when I read the phrase "Barenaked Ladies," and vice versa, which was of course the point of the exercise.

But generally, my random associations were things that weren't prolonged, scarring experiences over the course of an hour, but rather something extremely random and short-lived. I still frequently think of Might and Magic (I believe it was Might and Magic IV, but I'm not sure) when I think of Saved by the Bell. I remember playing M&M while my mom was watching Saved by the Bell on the TV a couple dozen feet away from the computer.

Finally, sometimes I cannot for the life of me figure out why I associate certain things. Just now, while shaving my feet, I had the vivid image of my manager's manager saying something, but I don't know what it was. This wasn't like some "hmm, that reminds me, I should clip my toenails"; this was powerful, almost like a flashback of some sort, and I just intuitively knew that it was somehow related to shaving my feet. I don't know what to make of it. Maybe I subconsciously recalled him talking about shaving at some point. I... just don't know.

Monday, January 24, 2005


While playing World of Warcraft tonight, I had a thought: perhaps one of the reasons (of many) that role-playing games (RPGs) are so popular is that, in an RPG, you generally have a set of fairly clear objectives: your "quests." As you finish these quests, you receive very explicit rewards: experience points (almost always given as an actual, countable quantity of experience), and treasure (money or powerful items). If you follow the mathematical rules of the game, you will be successful. The reward for the quest is immediate gratification. There's no question of "am I doing a good job?" because you can open up your character sheet and see that, yes, you are doing a good job. You're always progressing, always moving forward, always just a few thousand experience points until you level up—that magical time when you become distinctly more powerful than you were before. Real life isn't like that. You observe, and you wait, and you ask, and you can pick up little details, and it kind of seems like you might just be doing okay, but in an RPG, none of that is necessary. An RPG is a fantasy world, and not just because of the goblins or the magic; it's a world where the course of your virtual life is streamlined, simplified, and easy to follow. That's got to have incredible appeal to a lot of people.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

eFile rules

Doing my Washington taxes took about four minutes. You create an online account with the Department of Revenue, which takes a couple minutes, almost all of which are spent looking for a tiny code hidden on the Where's Waldo? page they send you. (It might also be a tax form; I'm not sure.) You then click "File Return," and then "File No Business Return," and then click "Submit." Hooray for technology.

That reminds me... I assume that I won't get to use to file my taxes online for free this year (but highly recommended if you're a poor college student). I'll still probably use TurboTax. That's how they get ya.

Didn't really think it through all that well

Oh... and "you sound like the whale in Star Trek IV" is not a sexy pickup line.

Glad I could help.

True, all true

I played hearts for the first time tonight. I lost horribly. However, I did destroy all who opposed me at Trivial Pursuit again tonight.

While playing hearts, I was passed some particularly awful cards on many occasions:

Joe: Hope you like those cards!
Me: What, are you kidding? I love these. I love my hand so, so much!
[Eighth-grade giggling from around the table]

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Taxes again

(Might as well go for some kind of personal posts-per-day record while I have things on my mind...)

I neglected to think one particular detail through when I registered Green Eclipse as a company in the state of Washington: taxes. Taxes aren't even just yearly for companies; I think that the best I can hope for (reporting frequency is based on how much business I do) is doing my taxes quarterly. Unlike doing federal taxes, which always involves a couple minutes in TurboTax and then a big check being sent to me, writing page after page of "$0.00" is probably going to get old quickly. (I think I read something about being able to fill out a "form of no activity" or something after my first time, though. I'll look into that.)

Why did I register Green Eclipse? A sense of legitimacy. Someday soon I'm going to get a digital signature that proves that Green Eclipse is my legal alias, which I can use to maybe make downloading my software from the internet a little less scary.

Avalon guy

I'm kind of becoming one of "the .NET guys" on the team. I think that I have the most experience with the .NET framework in general out of the team (though my officemate has more knowledge directly relevant to FrontPage). It's nice to feel at least marginally useful to the team... I occasionally get people coming into my office asking me questions about ASP.NET or collections or generics or database access. That's cool. The biggest difference between my officemate and I is that my officemate is the hardcore C++ lover who hates managed memory and garbage collection, and I'm the hardcore VB lover who can't stand to be bothered by the nitty-gritty details of whether you put the word "static" in the header file, the cpp file, or both. We're like the odd couple.

I decided that I'd kind of like to be the Avalon guy in the future. (Avalon, greatly simplified, is the new UI framework for future versions of Windows.) I'm the natural fit; I love UI, and I like the .NET framework... most of the people on my team aren't fans of either. I'm sure that Office will use Avalon at some point; maybe some Avalon stuff is even happening in Office 12. If I were the team's Avalon expert, not only would I be useful, but I could also get assigned features that were more up my alley than what I'm currently working on, which I'm beginning to regret having experience with.


Microsoft... the only place where regsvr32 is not only a verb (meaning "to register a DLL using the utility 'regsvr32'"), but a verb you can hear people use while they're walking by.

Fiduciary goodness

I'm a week and a half (payday's next Friday) away from being in the black. I'll have a positive net worth again, for the first time since coming out here.

The away message paradox

Okay, last thought for the night. The problem with really clever AIM away messages (more accurately, ones that I think are clever) is that if you ever use them again, they become significantly less clever and entertaining, and more generic. I guess that's why my best ones don't end up on my list of saved quick-access messages... all of my saved messages are boring, worded in an informative and utilitarian style.

Here's mine from earlier tonight that sparked this comment:
Listening to Frou Frou and singing in a falsetto. Make dinner, not
love, I say.
See, now I can't use that second line ever again, because (1) someone who saw it before might see it a second time, and (2) I posted it here, destroying its reusability.

Physically impossible

A few days ago I decided that Gollum's Song from The Two Towers (my favorite Lord of the Rings track) was physically impossible to sing as it appears in the movie. It's performed by Emiliana Torrini, who has an insane voice, the melody is nuts, and the range is way too large for me. (That, and it's an octave or two above where I can successfully sing.)

On the way home from work tonight, I have rescinded this judgment. I no longer that the song is impossible; just extremely difficult. After listening to it several times I can get the melody fairly well down (just at a much lower pitch), but I still can't imitate Emiliana's voice. She sounds a bit like Björk, but a little prettier. I'm not sure if there are many people in the world who could imitate her voice. And that's why I think that it's almost impossible for anyone else to perform that song.

A couple months ago I was asked by a choir director if I had ever been in a choir; I told him I had; I was in a professional children's choir for a year. He asked me why I wasn't in a choir any more; I told him that I could no longer sing. He replied, "you can't lose your ability to sing!" and the person standing next to him agreed. I replied simply with the word "puberty," to which he responded, "oh... guess that could do it." I used to sing Soprano I. Sometimes, when you need to differentiate between "high" and "really freaking high," you break Soprano into Soprano I and Soprano II. I was the "really freaking high." I used to have a good range, and I'd never miss a note (my voice quality wasn't great, though). Now I'm lucky if I can sing a dozen different notes, and I miss them without really understanding why. Oh well. Nobody else has to hear me sing now... except people in the bus stop when I pass by.


A while back, I believe that I made a short post about how it's kind of comforting the first time you hear someone say something mean or swear or fart or do something that a lot of people normally don't do around strangers or in mixed company. They've decided to let down those barriers; they have at least some slight amount of trust in you. You've gotten to know them at least a little. (I vividly remember writing this post, but I can't seem to find it with a cursory search. That was the gist of it.) I remember the first time that the nice older man who is part of the Thursday gaming group used the phrases "butt plug" and "evil fucker" within about a minute's time; I thought it was hilarious.

I've noticed that someone else that I know somewhat well has done the reverse. He's actually become more timid and polite and guarded over the past few weeks. Normally I would associate that with the person being uncomfortable around me, but I really don't think that's the case. I don't think that he thinks that I would be offended (I'm quite fond of the phrase "dirty bastard" while playing games) and it's not some super-conservative Christian upbringing because (1) I know for certain that he's not Christian, and (2) he used to swear. Maybe he's got a girlfriend trying to get him to shape up or something. Maybe it all just depends on the week that the other person had. Maybe it depends on body language that I don't know I'm giving off.

Or—and this is fairly likely—I'm just reading too much into things again.

More randomness

I don't really mean for these wacky rapid-fire posts to become the new norm; it's just coincidence that I've had a lot of random little thoughts and nothing deep.

I've gotten so many emails from Dotster (my domain registrar) about how they're not going to send out so many emails when your domains are about to expire anymore that it has moved past the stage of hilarious irony and into irritating sadness.

Sometimes I forget how awesome some of my old favorite CDs are. Details by Frou Frou is one of those. (Where "old" is probably less than two years, but it's a favorite nonetheless.) In fact, until recently, I had sort of forgotten how enjoyable it can be to listen to full albums instead of just shuffling through some massive playlist with enough music to last for almost a week without pause. The artists usually knew what they were doing when they put those songs in that order. I think that a clever way of implementing a library-wide shuffle would be to pick out entire albums, play them in their entirety (or skipping those couple songs you don't like, maybe), and then moving on to the next album.

I got a tire gauge today and checked my Segway. The sticker on the wheel says that the tires should be inflated to 15 PSI. I read the pressure on both tired (and double-checked), and they came out to about 5.5 PSI each. Now, I don't know much about tire pressure. But I thought I'd notice when the tires have a third as much air pressure as they were supposed to have. Guess it's time to find a gas station.

I have a dream to be reading the news one day, and see an exposé that reveals that Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (or Pieces; it's all good) were in fact not compressed sugar and fat, but rather compacted vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Sparkling water

Sparkling water. I don't understand how people can drink this stuff. I can quite perfectly understand why people wouldn't want to drink Diet Coke. I happen to like it, though by no means do I happen to think that it's the best-tasting beverage available like so many people think I do. But sparkling water? Why would you do that to yourself?

The stuff is pretty disgustingly popular here. Probably at least half my team drinks it, if not two-thirds. I think that I only met two people in my entire life before coming out here whom I knew drank sparkling water: my grandmother, and one of my mom's coworkers. And that's about what I'd expect, based on the taste: two out of a thousand people can stand the taste of it and somehow force themselves to drink it voluntarily.

Monday, January 17, 2005


I hate it when I go to the cooler in the morning, pick up a Diet Coke and a can or two of juice of some sort, and then I shake the wrong hand's cans well before opening.

Terse thoughts for the day

One very frequent thing that I hear from people who have seen my apartment is that it's "just how they thought it would be" or "it's how I always imagined you'd live" or something to that effect. I don't even know what that means. Nick stopped by for a couple hours today, and I got the same comment when I mentioned that I often use a mousepad as a placemat when I'm at the computer.

The most common comments about my apartment besides the above: "it's cold in here," "I love your dining table," "so there's your Segway," "that's a lot of CDs/DVDs/X-Files/Star Trek," "it's so clean," and "your washing machine is outside?"

I have a problem with practicing sound effects of various types when no one's around. Why did I choose the Half-Life 2 radio sound as the one I've been doing for the past few weeks?

I need to take more pictures. Everyone always asks me, "take any good pictures lately?" and I have to answer, "nope, not really." It's very, very gray out, and there aren't a lot of exciting things to take pictures of on the way to work. I'm always wary taking pictures of things near peoples' homes; I don't want to be too creepy.

It's the middle of February, and the grass is still green here.

Longhorn is still set to go beta in a few months. I'll believe it when I see it. Maybe I'll get another hard drive and dual-boot.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Where "box" is a double-entendre

I'm deciding on what the sexiest level of computer knowledge for a woman to have is. I'm thinking of one female co-worker who is actively working on the product, and thus can quote computer science principles and design systems with the rest of us. She games, played Half-Life 2 upon release, and loves action movies. She's pretty hot, too. That's a sexy amount of nerdiness. Then there's another female co-worker. She's a support role, not directly involved with the development of the product. (Being sorta-vague intentionally.) She can order hardware, put together a box from scratch, understand the differences between video cards, and all that. But, other than that, she's pretty normal. She's probably equivalent to an MIS student in quantity of computer knowledge. That's pretty sexy too. I can't really decide which I find more attractive... someone who, on a Friday night, will whip out the instagib shock rifle, or do "normal" girl things.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Frustrated debugging

My officemate just said this a moment ago while trying to track down a bug:

Oh, come on now. Is it even legal to call OnChange() with a null range? “Here, this changed.” “Oh! What?” “Nothing. Hahahaha.”

Rhetorical question and more

Why can't I manage to get a reasonable amount of sleep?

It's funny when a white person performs a rap song written by a black person and contains "my niggas" somewhere in the lyrics.

People who disrupt traffic to be "nice" when driving suck. It's more understandable when I'm on my Segway since I'm legally a pedestrian, but it still makes the person that the niceness was for feel kind of weird, and it pisses off the people behind you unnecessarily.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I'm not staring at you

I have this weird problem where I peripherally notice when people are looking in my direction much better than I notice anything else in my peripheral vision. Whenever I detect that someone's looking in my direction, I compulsively turn and look at them. Thus, I fear that it may always seem to the other person that I'm staring at them. This happens every time I'm in a situation where there are several other people sitting nearby, such as in a cafeteria or large meeting. It's awkward, because it seems that once this happens once, the other person will often check back periodically to see if I'm still staring at them, and I inevitably noticed that they looked toward me, and am indeed now staring at them. I don't seem to be able to make myself not do this.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

They're all here

I'm amused whenever I come across some recent graduate at Microsoft who fits some common stereotype from college. There's the blonde sorority girl with the tiny pink vinyl purse and the Nalgene bottle. There's the weird heavy metal guy who wears studded leather necklaces and bracelets. There's the airhead business major who always goes to the tanning salon. There's the emo guy who always looks angry with the thick, black plastic glasses. Then I sit down at lunch and there's studded-leather S&M guy, over at the next table. He's sitting next to quiet 55-year-old Asian guy, obnoxiously loud, overweight black woman, and the rest of their team. It's not that there aren't cliques at work—there most certainly are—or that everyone's a stereotype—those are just examples. I saw all of those people today, and I was thinking about it... it's not really what I expected from the workplace.
I opened my replacement Sidewinder Game Pad Pro today. Oh, how I missed thee.

They should take away my license

Yesterday, as I was Segwaying home from work (a little before 9:00), a coworker pulled up beside me, rolled down his window, and shouted, "hey, your lights are off!"

I found it rather amusing.

It's fun to watch them grow up

I get to see new features in the Office and Visual Studio suites as they're checked in, which is pretty fun. I always thought it would be fun to watch something like Outlook slowly pick up new features, and I was right. Right now, FrontPage 12 and Outlook 12 are both looking like great new versions. I'm not sure what to think about Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 12 yet (I don't really use them that much, except Word for email, and they're kind of... weird... right now). Visual Studio 2005, though, is looking fantastic. It's got a huge chunk of the features that have been on my wish list for a while, lots of stuff that I never thought of that I've come to love, and it looks sexy too... it's probably the best-looking Microsoft application as of now, which is kind of funny, given the stereotypical no-frills developer. (And the latest version has several noticeable improvements over the last build I tried: it can compile applications, the toolbox has controls in it, all of the toolbar buttons have icons, and it doesn't throw exceptions if you try to look at your project's properties...) The code editor is one place where I've seen a pleasantly strong attention to detail. I just found out a couple days ago about this: let's say you have a bitfield that stores permissions: read (1), write (2), and delete (4). Now let's say that you have a variable of this type with the value 5. If you hover your cursor over this value in previous versions of Visual Studio, you see that the value is 5. If you hover your cursor over this value in Visual Studio 2005, you see that the value is 5 and that 5 means "Read + Delete." Seeing little things like those alongside the huge new features like generics and Edit and Continue are how I know that this is going to be a really successful product, and it's hugely entertaining to watch it "grow up."

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A story not from my life

For some reason I remembered this morning a short clip that I saw while browsing TV or waiting for a show or something many years ago. I think it was on MTV. Anyway, it has popped into my mind several times today, so I figured I'd share it. Three girls were in some guy's bedroom (he wasn't there), and they were going through his stuff when they got to his trash can, noticing that its contents are primarily wadded Kleenex.

Girl 1: Girls! Look.
Girl 2: Gross!
Girl 1: Yeah. Ugh.
Girl 3: He must have had a bad cold!
Girls 1, 2: (look at each other, amused)

Courage prevails

This happened this morning as I was on my way to the beverage cooler. I didn't know the woman's name until today, though I had seen her several times.

Cassie: (smiles and waves)
Me: (smiles and nods)

I enter the kitchen and retrieve my beverages, and she enters as I am leaving...

Cassie: Hi! I've... (nervously) been trying to gather the courage to ask you...
Me: (surprised)
Cassie: ...can... I ride your Segway sometime? Everyone wants to.
Me: Oh. Yeah, sure.

Of course, I had something else in mind, but that works too.

Saturday, January 8, 2005


I finally saw Napoleon Dynamite tonight. My brother gave it to me for Christmas (or, rather, that holiday that he and I tend to celebrate that takes place about a week or two after Christmas). There were some pretty funny parts, but I don't quite know why it's as popular as it seems to be. It's not bad, but it's not something I want to see again anytime soon.

Almost half a million

My EclipseCrossword software has now been downloaded 450,000 times. That number boggles my mind. At the current rate, 750-800 downloads a day, it's pretty likely that it will have been downloaded half a million times by Green Eclipse's 11th birthday on May 10. Very cool.

I've spent quite a bit of time recently tweaking my JavaScript and CSS styles for the web pages generated by the software, and they're finally to a point where I'm happy with them. I also recently rebuilt the print layout code and made the printed output a whole lot sexier. Once Visual Studio 2005 is released, I'll probably start rewriting the whole thing in .NET and Avalon. When I first built the software, it was just to see if I could. Around fourth grade I went to a high school for a couple hours a week that I spent with one of the programming teachers there. He always thought that writing an algorithm to build a crossword puzzle would be really fun and challenging. Later, in 11th grade, when I was a TA for my history teacher and had to create crosswords for him in Excel, I decided that I should build some crossword software. When I did, I had no idea that I'd be adding support for wacky languages that put more than one letter in a single crossword square, or making the software generate JavaScript-powered web pages, or making an automatic web-based updater, or making a Pocket PC version (never released), or that it would be downloaded half a million times.

After adding all of that to a VB6 program that wasn't designed incredibly well to begin with, it's gotten pretty messy. I'm looking forward to making it a nice OOP citizen, and building code that I could just pick up and turn into a server application if I felt like maintaining something like that. It should be fun... I wish it was always practical to rewrite software from the ground up, but I guess that rarely happens in the real world. It's too bad.


I played a few hours of poker tonight, and despite not really considering myself a poker fan, I really enjoyed it. It was the first time I've ever played Texas Hold'em, and I find it to be vastly superior to other varieties of poker. I may not always make the best decision, but I was the last one out of five, and I have an excellent poker face. I figure that if you can figure out what I'm planning on doing, you know my brain better than I do. Blackjack's still my favorite gambling game, but I think I'd have to mark this as #2.

Of course, had I stayed at home, I would have gotten an extra six hours of Warcraft in, though I would have also missed out on seeing Anchorman again. Excellent the first time, good the second time, probably not worth owning.


Yay, I own stock now. I bought $3,083.19 in Microsoft stock, to be precise. Now I can finally complain every time our stock price goes down.

I don't really have any plans for this stock. I'll probably just use it as a short-term investment; maybe to be saved up for a down payment on a house or something. That just sounds so bizarre. I also need to figure out what I'm doing with my 401(k), which I still haven't started. I'll be paying off a big chunk of the money I owe in a week (I have to finish paying for my speakers). My tuition was paid for when the bills came, and never amounted to that much, and I bought my Segway out of pocket. The only thing left to pay for is my furniture. After that I'm back in the realm of near-complete financial freedom, much faster than your average new college graduate, I suppose. Not having a girlfriend/family/car/student loan rules.

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Winter snowstorm warning

We got our first snow last night. Two, maybe three millimeters. Probably won't get any more for a while. (Compare that to the—what, a foot? more?—they're having in Nebraska.) The Segway handles the surprisingly-slick sidewalks very well, though you can feel that there's a difference. You also can't slow down as quickly.

Segwaying through the snow listening to E.S. Posthumus... does it get any better than that?

I had a dream last night that involved Cinnamon Crunch Crispix. That's the only detail that I remember from it. I wasn't eating them, I just saw the box at some point. Cinnamon Crunch Crispix is decent, but certainly not dreamworthy, and I haven't even seen the box in months.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Absolutely bizarre

A strange thing happened to me today. I hadn't compiled my last three days' worth of work on Friday, so I set a build to go overnight. When I came in today (Monday was a Microsoft holiday—New Year's), there were no compile errors. I moved some stuff around and got one, a simple naming conflict. Then I ripped out my old code that this new, rearchitected code was meant to replace, integrated it, and compiled again. No errors. In the end, what amounted to about four days' worth of work had just a couple compile errors. This isn't C# or VB or something where I get nice little squiggly lines, this is C++ so full of #defines and special compiler steps that Visual Studio sometimes can't even parse it. Normally I write C++ by compile errors... oh, that's not where "static" goes? Move and recompile. Oh, that can't be __stdcall? Change to __cdecl and recompile. Initially I thought that I had just forgotten to include my new code in (what is essentially) the makefile.

Just weird. I'm used to long periods of time with no errors in VB, because you get constant IDE feedback. But in C++, for me, that's unheard of.

Monday, January 3, 2005

I occasionally get packages

The UPS guy arrived this morning right before I took my shower, so I had to quickly re-clothe myself. He had just stuck a note on my door and turned away when I opened the door.

Me: Oh, almost missed it.
Him: Yeah, I'm sure you know where to pick these up by now.

It just isn't as fun to come home from work and not see a yellow sticker on my door. So what if the night clerks know (or, knew, before the complex was bought out) me by name and apartment number...

Sunday, January 2, 2005

Tax time

It's a new year, and that means taxes. It'll be another month until I get my tax information, I assume, but I'm pretty interested in finding out. Since I only worked for half a year but got taxed as if I worked the whole year, I'm sure that MS over-withheld. Also, this year we get to decuct sales tax from our income, which will actually reduce my income quite a bit. And, I made some decent-sized charitible contributions. The scary thing, though, is that the cost of my medical benefits and relocation benefits (packing and moving forty boxes worth of stuff halfway across the country isn't cheap, and neither is a free month of rent) are going to be fully taxable. This might be the first year that I actually have to pay taxes because of the relocation benefits. I guess it all depends on how much more they deducted than was necessary. Here's hoping that the numbers work out in my favor...

Saturday, January 1, 2005

Clip show

So, what have we learned in the last third of a year?

Oh, macaroni

I kind of like it when I hear people swear (or say something really mean, or etc.) for the first time. There's something about it that makes me feel that this person is finally comfortable enough around me to drop down one of the typical barriers that they have with people. (Of course, there are people like my manager who use the word "fuck" so frequently in everyday conversation that he must know everyone really well...) Plus, it's just inherently fun to hear a woman call somone a "cockbag."


My New Year's resolution is to never again do something so bumbling as losing my passport in a foreign country. I mean, at least until 2006.

If you're not familiar with the story, here's how it went. (If you are, there's no real reason for you to read this.) Last year, I went to Ireland for spring break. It was my first time in a foreign country if you don't count Canada. My feelings about the trip were mixed. On the positive side, there was much about the trip that was really interesting, and you kind of have to visit somewhere overseas at least once. I went with an ideal group of people (Daniel, Clay, David, Kyle, Me). People there spoke sort-of-English. I didn't have to decide anything about the trip except the music, as unofficial trip DJ. (I brought 48 CDs, and we went through all but a few—Madonna's American Life was the only one that didn't go over with the others, and I skipped over the Bubba Sparxxx—and we repeated several. I'm glad I brought 48.) All of these things were good.

But I just couldn't take the fact that, a few miles out of Dublin, everything seemed like my mental impressions of a third-world country. I'm a man of creature comforts and technology: Ireland's one-lane (opposing traffic? tough!) streets and highways, insanely cramped towns, the fact that we constantly passed through areas that I felt the need to refer to as "the Rape District," and the hideous hostels where we spent each night... none of those things made it a pleasant trip for me. It was surreal: I've never walked through such weird towns and cities before. On one hand, I've got great people, weird new experiences, and lots of beautiful scenery and interesting culture. On the other hand, this place is filthy and disturbing, we spend much of the day in a tiny vehicle that simply does not have room for five people, and Diet Coke is like 50¢ a sip and tastes like V8. It was a fun trip, and I don't regret going, but I'm not going back anytime soon, especially not without such a great group of people.

The passport story. The last sightseeing day of our trip was planned to be in Dublin. When I woke up that day, feeling strangely refreshed after our only night in normal beds, I discovered that not only did I not have my coat, but I also didn't have my passport. There was quite a bit of panic in the room... I was pretty calm about it, because I'm usually calm, and I think that really pissed the others off; maybe they thought that I didn't quite grasp the gravity of the situation, that I might be spending a few extra days here and at least a thousand extra bucks to get home. But, we lucked out. It turned out that I left it at the hostel from a night or two before, and the manager saved it for me. So, we went back to pick it up, and then off to the police station to get my passport. I expected a lot of hassle at the police statement... when I got there, I was greeted by a few rude, annoyed-looking people who just stared for a while and finally asked, "what do you want?" When I explained, one of them just handed me the passport, not even bothering to ask me questions about it or look at the picture. Just... strange. So, I lucked out. "All" it cost us was half of our day in Dublin. I felt kind of bad that I was the least bothered by this; I enjoyed our time outside of the cities much more than I did the time in them.

As long as I don't do something that stupid this year, it will be a good year.


We played Trivia Pursuit 90's Time Capsule tonight at our little New Year's shindig. The game lasted about five hours, which is far too long, and seemingly quite typical for Trivial Pursuit. Somehow I managed to win by a respectable margin... I never do well at Trivial Pursuit. I didn't even get the super-easy questions like "this is the candy-colored computer produced by Apple," or "this is the web address of the auction site that was originally going to be called Echo Bay," or the one about the presidential candidate with the first name "Bob." Were it not for me saying that "if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit" was a quote from O.J. Simpson (so stupid), the game might have only lasted four hours. Instead, I got things like "who skateboarded in the White House after delivering an anti-drugs speech?" and questions about speed skating. I think I just got lucky on my questions for wedges.