Monday, October 30, 2006


Today was the final part of the funeral. It was pretty short; afterward, our group walked around the cemetery visiting the graves of past family members. It’s over now. We’ve “returned to normal,” so to speak. We were all prepared for Grandma’s death, and I’m sure that helped. I’ve never experienced an unexpected death—I suppose I’ll deal with that if it ever happens.

Thursday I return to work.


Sunday, October 29, 2006


Tonight I went to The Oven with Clay, Jesse, and Andy—my favoritest restaurant in the world. It’s still the best Indian food that I’ve had anywhere. The first time I went there, I refused to eat anything, having had such terrible experiences with East Asian and Indian food for years prior. But, my second time there, I loved it, and it’s been my number one restaurant ever since.

Anyway, it was a great time meeting up with people I don’t usually hang out with, and my apologies to everyone I couldn’t invite on short notice. It’s too bad it wasn’t a better occasion.

Pirate's Booty

After the funeral on Saturday, the family headed to my grandfather’s house to eat together and talk for a while. Later that evening, my uncle, a gemcutter, brought all of the grandkids to the spare bedroom with a well-stuffed backpack. He then proceeded to empty from the backpack various containers of jewelry. We were instructed to take what we wanted, either to give away, save as a future gift, become an heirloom, or whatever else, and then the rest he would take back to his lab to identify. From the backpack he pulled box after box and bag after bag of rings, necklaces, bracelets, pins, and more, primarily ranging from gaudy to absolutely ridiculous. There were things in there that would make he flashiest rapper blush—my grandmother had… interesting… tastes. At one point my uncle remarked that it looked like someone emptied a pirate chest onto the bed; it was just completely covered in silver and gold and jewelry boxes at that point. We referred to the collection as “grandma’s bling.”

Fairly little of the jewelry had any real value; most of it was random things that were either purchased on QVC, or had been acquired over the course of her life. A large portion of it was so outlandish that I couldn’t imagine any sane person wanting to wear it. But some pieces were nice, so we all kept what we thought we might like to have as a keepsake. My aunt remarked that the five of us making fun of Grandma’s Bling for an hour or so was probably the most effective bonding that we’d ever had. I think she was right.

Pirate's Booty

And now for something completely different

A while back, my mom was taking care of my brother’s dog (not to be confused with my parents’ dog, Crooked Dog) for a bit. When the dog did his business, my mother was rather surprised to find that he had pooped four condoms, which he had eaten out of my brother’s roommate’s dresser.

Crooked Dog

My parents’ dog, Sonic, had a stroke a couple months ago. My mom found him in one of the window wells of the house, looking very confused and unable to get out. Ever since then, his head has been “stuck” tilted to one side, and he can’t walk in a straight line—seeing him in action was one of those “sad but funny” kinds of things. He was given the nickname “Crooked Dog.”

Crooked Dog

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Feedback card

“The woman so nice we mourned her twice.” This afternoon after the services, the weeping funeral attendees got into their cars, and followed the funeral director on a nice tour of the grounds, leading up to a lovely spot near a pond and a fountain. The somewhat confused man then got out of the hearse, paused for a second, and then walked back to tell everyone that they forgot to dig the grave. So, funeral part two is going to take place on Monday. It’s a good thing that I picked the Tuesday return flight.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Linebacker cuddling

The Puget Sound University football team took the same flight from Seattle to Denver that I did today. Fortuitous indeed that the biggest guy on the team and I were seat-buddies. As most of you know I’m quite a big guy myself, often mistaken for a wrestler or football player, though I’m manboobier than your average football player. Anyway, on two separate occasions during boarding, a player from the team saw the two of us attempting to sit next to each other in the tiny airplane seats, got a sympathetic smile, and then apologized for my misfortune.

Thus began my trek of discomfort. Both of our torsos were nearly the full width of our seats, so we had to overlap our shoulders. It’s been an hour since that flight now, and my spine still hurts from contorting my body to fill the available space as comfortably as possible. Essentially, I spent two and a half hours cuddling with the biggest guy on the football team, except that would have been far more comfortable were the Rules of Manhood to allow such a thing. I imagine that I’ll get the feeling back in my legs back just in time to board my next flight, which is running about 75 minutes late.

I’ve included this lovely diagram to help illustrate the situation:

Diagram of airplane discomfort


It’s come to my attention that there may be people in the world who don’t realize that, under any circumstances, reclining your seat in an airplane when there is a person behind you makes you an asshole. 100 more bonus asshole points if the person in front of you doesn’t have their seat reclined.

It’s pretty simple. Airplanes are already extremely crowded. Reclining your seat is equivalent to turning around and saying to the person behind you, “My comfort is far more important than yours, so you can go to hell.”

I’m posting this as a public service… I’m sure that someone, somewhere, has been reclining their seat and didn’t even realize that it made them an asshole!

Thursday, October 26, 2006



In some Asian culture's mythology, evil spirits can't make ninety-degree turns. So, by crossing this zigzag bridge, you can free yourself of any evil spirits who may have been tagging along.

This is the last of the photos that I had queued up to post. I may not post much over the next week, but hopefully after that, I'll have some new things to talk about. I also plan to put up a higher-resolution gallery of the pictures I've been posting sometime relatively soon.


I've been a little distracted for the past few days... it's been hard to be productive. But, it hasn't been too bad. This weekend is going to be tough.

Bereavement $aving$

Yesterday I got a confirmed date and time for the funeral, and went about buying plane tickets. I almost always fly United, so I went to their website and planned out my flight, with the cheapest tickets being $950 or so. Ouch. Short-notice flights suck. I checked Orbitz, and found that Northwest Airlines would take me for $575.

So, I called United's 24-hour customer service line and asked about an emergency rate. After talking a while, I got the ticket price down to about $575. The flight times were pretty awful, and there was a multi-hour layover, but it wasn't much worse than the Northwest flight I had seen earlier. I started the ticket purchase process, and then I was asked for the name of the deceased. Marie Spomer. Then the name of the funeral home. Um... I don't know. Then the name and phone number of the funeral director. I didn't have this information, and it was already too late to call my parents, so I had to hang up, looking like someone who wasn't actually going for a funeral, and just wanted cheap tickets.

I was ready to just forget about the frequent flier miles and go with Northwest. So, I went back to Orbitz and typed in almost exactly the same flight information, but I couldn't remember exactly which options I chose the first time, so I guessed on a couple. And then I found a United flight—the best one by far, actually—for like $525. Sometimes mistakes can save you money.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Marie Spomer

Marie Spomer

My grandmother Marie Spomer died from cancer this morning. She had been on very strong pain medication for some time now, but she chose that over treatment for the cancer, treatment she had already endured once before and had thought was finished. She died peacefully, and for that I'm thankful.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Just rubbing it in now

Your current Verizon Wireless bill statement is now available for online viewing at The current balance due is $2.71 and is scheduled for automatic payment from your credit/debit card on 11/07/2006.


It's coming about time to upgrade my computer. Morbo has served me well for many, many years now, but the last real upgrade it got was a new video card two and a half years ago. I'm actually considering the idea of buying a pre-built machine this time. A year ago this would have sounded insane—why buy when you can build?—but maybe it isn't. I've heard recently that it can actually be cheaper to buy from Dell than to build yourself, due to their wacky bulk hardware deals. I'm skeptical, as that has never, ever been the general case, excepting perhaps insane doorbuster Christmas sales. But, it's worth looking into, I suppose.

I think I want to wait until DX10 video cards come out. I don't really know anything about PCIe... I assume that I can't use an AGP card in the meantime while I wait for DX10 cards to exist. If I could, I'd buy sooner rather than later. Let me know if you know either way, so I don't have to do the research myself. :)



This zebra swallowtail looks Photoshopped... but I insist that it is an actual macro photograph that I've taken. It was quite challenging to take a picture that close without the use of a tripod.

Small world

So, it turns out that I share an aunt and an uncle with one of my loyal readers. I'm blood-related to the uncle, and they're blood-related to the aunt, so we're only "related" by the loosest definition of the word, but still... how wacky.


I've realized something—something that I should have realized earlier than now, for sure, given my love of gaming. But here it is.

All other things equal, the most fun people to play games with are those who are precisely as intent on winning as you. You don't want someone who cares less about winning than you do, because they'll screw things up. You don't want someone who cares more about winning, because they'll kick your ass and not be willing to engage in useless side conversations. For a tiebreaker, play games with people who are as skilled as you.

Now, of course, it won't be fun to play with someone who's just a jerk, for example. But that falls under the "all other things equal" restriction.



Saturday, October 21, 2006

Suspiciously nice homes

I've spent most of today putting together a budget, deciding what kind of place I could afford, and looking at condos in the area. I've seen some nice ones and some not-so-nice ones. The nicest one in my price range (more accurately, at the absolute top of my price range) is this townhome—I guess that means that I'd get half of this thing:

Suspiciously nice home

Everything about this place seemed great except the price. In fact, it was attractive enough that I'd almost have considered fast-tracking a tour and a loan and everything to see if I could get it, despite having planned to not actually move until the spring. Close to work, roomy, just renovated, no upstairs or downstairs neighbors... until I looked at the map one more time. What you can't tell from the picture is that there's a major street right behind the house. In fact, I had an apartment right up against that street as an intern, and it was hell. I couldn't get to sleep at night from the traffic. So... no. I suppose it's possible that it's not as noisy on the second floor where the bedrooms are; I was told by other people in that complex that their places weren't too bad. But I'm wary. Wary enough that I'm going to go back to waiting a few more months before getting serious again.

Thank goodness for those web-based aerial maps.

Kids don't care

Maybe US students' test scores are lower than other countries' simply because students in the United States just don't care about school performance as students elsewhere. Maybe a fundamental societal difference is primarily responsible, not necessarily bad or underfunded schools. I know that when I was in school, I got the impression that not too many people cared about how well they did, or school in general. Even kids in the honors classes were often only there because their parents insisted on it.

It doesn't even have to mean that kids in the United States don't believe in or strive for personal excellence. It could just be that in the US, people are less likely to corrolate good grades with that. I know that I tried to ensure that the grades I got in school had little to nothing to do with my own self-image.

Note that I've spent about three minutes thinking of this theory.

Early birds

On the way to my office from my apartment, there are two households that have already put up Non-Denominational Winter Holiday Celebration Lights. It's the middle of October.



I can't recount the exact details of the rivalry without ruining them in the process, but for several years the two depicted people (the printed page and the person holding it) had an April Fool's prank thing going on, always involving the now-unavailable store brand pop Whoopty-Doo.

This particular year, Clay, the one holding the printed page, handed out cans of the beverage to students walking by, heading toward a particular dorm basement. Each student was given instructions on what to do with the can, and a few dozen cans later, he headed to that location himself. When Tom, the one on the printed page, arrived at that basement, he suddenly and quite unexpectedly found himself surrounded by a mob of unknown people offering him cans of this strange beverage. It was very surreal.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I've been playing around with ASP.NET AJAX ("Atlas") a bit recently. It's got some pretty cool stuff if you're into web development, and ASP.NET in particular. The documentation isn't that great, so it's hard to see exactly what all it can do, but there's definitely a lot of potential in there. I'm sure I'll post more about it once I've learned more.

But what it can do to a databound GridView control is pretty amazing. You add one ScriptManager control to the top of the page, set a property on it, and then wrap your GridView inside of an UpdatePanel, and then magically the old non-AJAX GridView becomes AJAX-enabled and doesn't require page postbacks to update. You can page through data, sort, and even get live updates, insertions, and deletes, all without page reloads or any code at all.

US Bank

US Bank

The US Bank building in Lincoln. I love the reflection.


Today it was cold outside and there was a heavy mist. I was damp from head to toe when I got to work. It was great.



Wednesday, October 18, 2006


It's 7:00. Right now about 10% of the team is at work. A year ago that number would have been 90%.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Final words

I got an interesting email from my mom today. There was a lot in the email, but it ended with a paragraph that meant, in essence: "If you have anything to tell Grandma Spomer, you should email it to me today so I can print it out and read it to her, because it's probably your last chance."

The timing caught me a little by surprise. I don't know what I'll write. But whatever it is, I need to think of it quickly.



Awwww, turtles. I like this picture because it's kind of serene and dreamy, and turtles are cute.

Sunday, October 15, 2006



From Thanksgiving last year. This is a display put together by some people who were borrowing my parents' church, as they didn't have a building of their own. If I win the lottery or retire anytime soon, I will totally spend hours and hours each week putting together beautiful and elaborate displays like this to photograph.

Or I'll play a lot more games. One of the two.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Crazy Itch Radio

The short version:
Tom McRae—Just like Blood: 6/10
Yann Tiersen—Les Retrouvailles: 8/10
Sarah Silverman—Jesus is Magic (Comedy): "very funny but too many misses"
Basement Jaxx—Crazy Itch Radio: 9/10
Enigma—A Posteriori: 6/10

Feel free to skip the text, but I highly recommend clicking the music links. There's some beautiful stuff in this round of albums.

Tom McRae's album Just like Blood is an album I bought for the first track. And, as tends to be the case, that's the best one on the disc. But, it's not bad... it's just not my normal cup of tea. I tend to like thick music with a lot going on at once. Tom McRae is a singer-songwriter (a term I had to look up on Wikipedia, being one of those phrases I'd heard a lot but wasn't really sure about), and as such his music does not have a lot of accompaniment. Anyway, the standout track is the first one, A Day like Today, which is exciting and different from the rest, with strings, a weird xylophone thing, and more. My other two favorite tracks, predictably enough if you've heard the CD, are Karaoke Soul and Stronger than You, both with strong, pop-friendly drums and bass. The rest of the CD is much more mellow, and while it's not bad, it's not what I usually am in the mood for. Ghost of a Shark is not one of my favorites, but it's a good example of what the rest of the CD is like if you heard those first three and decide you like them.

Next I moved onto Yann Tiersen's latest album, Les Retrouvailles ("meeting again"). Tiersen did the soundtrack to Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amélie), one of my favorite movie soundtracks ever. It's very varied, interesting, pretty, and French—though much of the music that I associate with the French is actually based on the Amélie soundtrack. It's a nice album that tells a musical story, with lots of instruments and sounds that you don't hear too often, in soundtracks or otherwise. It's not a soundtrack, but it probably could be one—probably to a romantic film. Best tracks are Kala, La Boulange ("the baker?"), and Les Retrouvailles/La Jetée ("the pier"). You can listen at, though I wasn't able to get the RealPlayer clips to work. Definitely worth your time if you liked the Amélie soundtrack; you'll hate it if you didn't.

Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic was pretty amusing. It's available on DVD and CD; in retrospect I should have gotten the DVD, as some of the videos are amusing, and a comedy CD is not something that I tend to listen to frequently. I love Sarah Silverman's brand of horribly offensive comedy; something about a cute, innocent little woman dancing around in a nursing home singing "you're gonna die soon!" is hilarious. Essentially, it's a comedy routine with songs spliced in between bits. It seems even more silly to talk about comedy than music, so here are some samples—very much not safe for work: That's What I Do ("I was raped by a doctor, which is, um, so bittersweet for a Jewish girl") and I Love You More ("I love you even if it's not hip / I love you more than black people don't tip"). If you like those, listen to the whole album. Versus other comedy albums I've heard, there are more "misses," but she's got an interesting sense of humor that makes them worth it.

The new Basement Jaxx album Crazy Itch Radio is excellent and was worth the wait. Few albums you'll come across have so much stuff going on at once—this album is the polar opposite of the Tom McRae CD. The lovely but very short opening track is modeled after the final crescendo of a symphony, which is a pretty good clue of how the album is going to sound: over the top, wacky, hyperactive, and insane. Right after that you're thrown into Hush Boy, easily worth the price of the album itself... absolutely fantastic. After an irritating interlude is Take Me Back to Your House, also excellent. If those are too much, you might enjoy Smoke Bubbles from the second half of the album, which is a bit more relaxed.

This disc is a party for your ears, so at some point someone's gonna break something. The horribly annoying song Run 4 Cover is the point in the party where things just get stupid and out of hand and the cops have to come break things up; the rest of the album is a little less nuts, but still tame by no means. One miss out of a dozen tracks isn't bad—I highly recommend this album to anyone who enjoys dance music.

Finally, Enigma has a new CD out, A Posteriori. Enigma is a very pleasant blend of chillout and world and electronic music, and having been three years since his last CD, I've been looking forward to this one for a while. Unfortunately, it's not quite up to his previous work. I think the tracks are a little too similar and a little too generic; they're not interesting or new enough. It's still an okay album, but not what I was hoping for. If you're into his style, you'll still probably enjoy this. Check out the light and pretty Eppur Si Muove, the strange The Alchemist, and the even more bizarre finale Goodbye Milky Way, all good stuff.


I really do intend to post more, and not just the irregular picture posts. I just haven't had much to write about recently. (This should have been obvious when you read both of those posts about the Starbucks machines.)

Soon I'll have work-related stuff to post, and then sometime in a month or so you won't be able to get me to shut up about World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, I'm sure. I've been listening to the soundtrack recently, and it's pretty excellent... more than four hours of new music for the new cities, lands, and dungeons. Much of it's by Matt Uelmen, who did the music for Diablo II, which is one of my favorite soundtracks ever. It's dark and moody.



A castle tower from Ireland. I think this is from Blarney Castle.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Took this one today at lunchtime:




Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fuzzy Memories

One problem with having blogged for so long is that I can never remember what I've posted and what I haven't. If I think of a topic and don't blog about it immediately or add it to my list of rainy day topics, I'll think of it again a month later but think I already posted about it. This is definitely a reason why my rate of posting has decreased. The other one being that I have other things I'd rather do. :)


Ehhh, the machine makes really weak cocoa. Unfortunately, unlike before, when we had manual control over our beverages, I can't make it to preference. Damn technology!

I should call the machine Robocup from now on.

Too bad I don't like coffee

We have a new Starbucks machine in one of the kitchens on my floor at work. It's really a shame that I don't like coffee. But, hey, it makes cocoa too...

It's pretty high-tech. This thing has an LCD status bar to tell you how close to finished it is with dispensing your beverage.

One of the cup size settings is 64oz (large carafe). I wonder how many people are going to use that one...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A bird in the hand

I know I just posted a couple things from last night, but this one is important...

Today at lunch, one of my coworkers suddenly exclaimed, "Holy wow! Did you guys see that? A bird just flew off the roof, shit on that table over there, and then flew back! What an asshole bird! Haha!" We all looked over, and saw a table of confused-looking men, which seemed to verify the story.

We continued eating for another ten minutes ago, and then all of a sudden the guy to my right exploded in a shower of bird crap. The bird had returned to exact his revenge on the man who called him an asshole. Except he doesn't have very good aim... his real target was one guy over.

We quickly headed inside after that.

Bad guys

I've been playing a little Warcraft III recently, half because it's a great game that I've wanted to replay several times, and half to remind myself of the recent Warcraft storyline in preparation for World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. I've finished up the human campaign, the undead campaign, and half of the orc campaign. And this reminded me of something I've thought of several times: I almost never like playing the "bad guys" in games.

I wonder why that is? In previous Warcraft games, I only liked the humans. In Warcraft III, I only like the Alliance and the night elves, though the undead aren't too bad. In Starcraft I played the Terrans and the Protoss. In Knights of the Old Republic I prefer the Light side jedis. In Dune games I'm always the Atreides first, though I always enjoy playing the other Houses later. In Command and Conquer Generals, I don't like playing the terrorists. And so forth.

It's not because I like to side with the good guys, either, or at least I tell myself that. And in many games the designers try to add good and evil characteristics to all sides, so things are a little more grey and a little more blurry... but inevitably one side ends up looking more evil than the rest. It could be that the good guys tend to have the prettier people, military units, buildings, and so forth. (That's a whole cultural thing on its own...) So, maybe I just gravitate toward whichever side looks prettier.

In writing this, the only exception that immediately came to mind was that in the main Command and Conquer series, I liked playing the GDI good guys and the terrorist organization, the Brotherhood of Nod, pretty equally. Both sides have lots of high-tech gadgets to play with. The bad guys are actually the "prettier" side in C&C.

Maybe it's not me. Maybe the designers of games have a subconscious desire to make playing the good guys more appealing. Or perhaps I just like my gaming experience to be aesthetically pleasing above all else, so I pick the nice-looking sides. Or I just like the sides with high-tech gadgets to play with. I don't really know. But it's certainly a trend.

Smell of allergies

I'm allergic to milk and all milk-related products: milk, cheese, anything else dairy, and a whole bunch of stuff that you'd never think from looking at an ingredients list is actually milk. This is different from lactose intolerance; I can digest milk; I'm just allergic to it. My tolerance to it has dramatically increased over many years by gradually increasing my milk intake, so I can have a glass of milk or a few pieces of cheese a day easily without getting sick.

In the mornings, if I'm hungry, I have a bowl of Quaker Squares, the most delicious cereal ever created. But I can't stand the smell of the milk. I don't know what it is about it—if it's somehow related to the allergy (huh?) or some weird psychological thing. I just find the smell of milk revolting. If I eat the cereal right away and then get rid of the bowl it doesn't bother me. But if I'm busy and that bowl sits on the far edge of my desk for too long, eventually the whole office smells like milk. And it's gross.



This is a shot of the roof above a bus stop in Bellevue. I really like the way this looks, and I've used it in my blog template in the past. I like the color—or rather, the lack of it. I took several shots from different angles, and this is the one that makes it look the most chaotic and abstract, so it's my favorite.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

The Three West Planned Community

Three West

One year in college, a few friends and I decided that it would be fun to start the Three West Planned Community. We planned out who we wanted to have in every room in the west wing of the third floor of our dorm, who would room with who, who would be each person's neighbors, and so forth. Then, on the day when we were to sign up for rooms for the next year, we would all show up ridiculously early so that we could reserve all of those rooms before anyone else knew what hit them. As far as I remember, it ended up working perfectly.

We decided that, as with any planned community, we would need some welcome materials for the new residents. So, we set up a bunch of furniture and knicknacks in the hallway one day and had a photo shoot.

Given the choice, who wouldn't want to live in Three West? Of course, there wasn't a choice; we blocked everyone else out of those rooms...


Last night I broke into a guy's house. It's not my fault, you see—I thought it was abandoned. It didn't look like anyone had been there in months. But when I got down to the basement, to find what I was looking for, I turned a corner and found the owner sitting in a dark room in front of a computer.

(angry and surprised) "Hey, what are you doing here?!"

"Oh... I... just wanted to... see if you still have that picture up. (point) It's so cute!"

(disarmed) "Oh, yeah. Those are my kids at the beach... about ten years ago now. I love that photo."

And then I calmly left, counting my blessings. And that's all there was to that dream.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Stone window

Stone window

From a tower in a graveyard in Ireland.


Does Trojan offer its employees parental leave?

(Yes, that really should read "Does Church & Dwight Co., Inc. offer its employees parental leave," but then you wouldn't have gotten it, would you?)

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Sword of 1000 Truths

Ha, the South Park season premiere was pretty amusing. It was World of Warcraft-themed, and everything was actual in-game-engine footage, except for the whole "exploding head" thing. They even got details reasonably correct; when Cartman said that he and his friends should meet up in Elwynn Forest near Westfall, he actually pointed roughly at Elwynn Forest on the map.

Music swarm

I just got a bunch of CDs I was looking forward to all at once over the past couple days, and it's pretty overwhelming.

Yann Tiersen—Les Retrouvailles (guy who did the soundtrack to Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain, or just "Amélie")
Basement Jaxx—Crazy Itch Radio
Scissor Sisters—Ta-Dah (most infuriatingly awesome CD case ever... it's like a pop-up book)
Métisse—My Fault
Enigma—A Posteriori

All that, and I was already listening to Tom McRae—Just like Blood and Sarah Silverman—Jesus is Magic (see, it's funny because she's Jewish). I've got my work cut out for me!



I'd see these weird little things in Hawaii on the rocks on beaches. I don't know if they're barnacles or what, but they absolutely refused to detach from the rocks. They were kind of cute.

Fond farewell

Tonight I went out to bid farewell to the first coworker of mine to leave the company who I'll really miss. I don't say that in a mean way to those other people; other people I've liked have moved on too, even friends, but I don't really think of them too often. I'll actually miss having this guy around.

(Of course, I'm going to feel really bad after writing that if I think of someone else... but I don't think I will.)

It's interesting... the fact that I'm not currently in the job position that I originally interviewed for an internship in (I'm a Software Design Engineer, but I interviewed to be a Program Manager) has come up at dinner a couple times. Every time I talk to coworkers about this, every single one of them either has no comment, or recommends that I switch jobs as soon as I absolutely can. In contrast, every time I talk to a manager about this, every single one of them recommends that I stay in my current job. I generally trust the honesty of my friends and coworkers much more than management, so it's hard not to see some conflicts of interest in there.

On another topic, my ex-officemate and I were talking to one of my coworker's girlfriends for quite a while. It was a conversation I've had many times before: I wouldn't be so shy if only I'd go out and meet more people... go to clubs... approach more girls... spend more time being social. I never know whether I should respond with an annoyed "duh" or a stunned "what?" so I usually just nod my head. I guess I can be grateful that she just advised me to go to clubs more often and all my problems would be solved; her advice for the other guy is that he should change his hairstyle, buy nicer clothes, and clean himself up a bit, and then go to clubs.

And at some point someone said that it would be really funny if I would wear my black trenchcoat wrapped completely around the Segway so it looked like I was just hovering above the ground, with a cape and a cane for effect, and then under that I'd be wearing a full evening gown and drag makeup. Apparently this is how I should go to Office Triage if I ever need to go—Triage is where the final decisions are made of how bad bugs are compared to their fixes—and they'd be so confused that they'd have to approve my fix. I don't know where that came from, and frankly, I'm not sure that I should.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

On the brink of certain death

On the way to and from work, part of my journey is on a sidewalk on which the street is to one side, along with inconveniently placed trees right in the sidewalk, and a couple-inch ledge that leads to a fifteen-foot tumble down a hill on the other. My Segway is about as wide as a wheelchair, so while there's little room to maneuver, it's not difficult to keep from hitting the tree or falling off the edge of the sidewalk; I've never fallen off the side, and only come close to a tree a couple times.

Diagram of sidewalk

But for the past week or so, things were different. The leaves have begun to fall here, and suddenly one cannot tell by looking whether they're half a foot into the safe zone or half an inch away from a very uncomfortable situation. The following diagram makes it seem as if you can just barely make out the edge of the sidewalk, but let me assure you that with an inch-thick carpet of leaves, this is quite impossible, even in daylight.

Diagram of sidewalk

I'm almost surprised that I didn't slip off at some point. I was going to take a picture to better illustrate how impossible it is to tell where you're going through a thick carpet like that, but it seems that they cleared the sidewalks of leaves just this afternoon.



Tuesday, October 3, 2006


Ever since getting my own office and having my desk face a trash can on the other end of the room, my proficiency in Office Basketball has increased by about 200%. This impresses me, as I throw like a girl and half as accurate.

[DISCLAIMER: Not all human females are bad at sports.]

Monday, October 2, 2006



The photo titled "Sleepless" seemed oddly appropriate for my state of being right now...

Longtime blog readers will immediately recognize this as the first image I ever used in my blog template. After a couple weeks and I felt that I'd indeed continue doing this for a while (I initially thought it would last one or two weeks tops and then I'd be bored with blogging...), I went to one of the buildings at Microsoft late at night and took this photo. And, let me tell you, taking a self portrait of one's own backside with just the right lighting in a conference room is not a trivial endeavor.

My hair always looks even thinner than it really is when I spike it.