Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Snow is coming down something serious out there. I love it. The snow blowing through the lights outside looks really cool, and on top of that, I don't have to go out in it. I can sit inside and watch it pile up and whip around. Time to break out some chai. Mmmm.
In a musico-political note, I'm a little sad that Giuliani is dropping out of the race. Sure, he took it in the kisser in Florida, but I was really hoping to hear the Clash's Rudy Can't Fail used as a campaign song. I did find where I'm supposed to be caucusing on the 5th. I've never caucused before, so this should be interesting, especially since I'm still not sure who I'm going to vote for.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
Yesterday, Laura and I went down to Sakura Square to the Asian grocery there and stocked up on Oriental delectables. I finally found a grocery store where I can buy jasmine rice in bulk. We also got stuff for lunch and a boatload of candy and these strange dumpling things with a very unnerving texture, as if I was eating the semi-gelatinous, powder-covered eggs of some pastel alien. To round out the Asian theme, we watched Bleach anime while we ate. Then we napped. Then we saw Juno, which is a fantastic movie that you all should go see. Then we watched shorts from film festivals that I got for free. I also showed Laura my business card collection from my BCT days. I had forgotten how fantastic some of them were. Who wouldn't want to work with Dick Dunnahoe, Alice Schitts, or Omega Crouch? I'm thinking I might start up a business card blog and put up a card a day or something. Corrie, did you save any good cards? Wanna collaborate on a blog?
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Not content to steal just my flat-changing kit, the lamers went and stole my bike. Yeah, really. I rode it to work yesterday and got back at 5:30, having ridden home in the daylight for the first time in months. This morning at 8 when I went down to ride to work, it was gone. The strange thing is, is that there were some unlocked bikes in the room today that were untouched. Hopefully the culprit will be identifiable from the videos and swipe card records. Oh, didn't I mention that? My bike was in a locked room accessible only with the key card needed to enter the building. So ... it was an inside job. Dun dun DUN!
I filed a report with my building and will file something with the police. I don't expect to see my bike again, but it'd be nice, especially since the rack for my panniers and the mounts for my lights were on there.
Why are people so lame?
Monday, January 21, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Welllll, somewhere in there was a bit of miscommunication. They didn't realize that I was suggesting seeing a completely different, very different movie than Tim Burton's grim little musical. You would think we'd discover this before going into the theater, but a perfect storm of confusion was brewing. I got to the theater before them and just before 7:30 I called to see where they were at. They were trying to find parking in the normally capacious lot that had been quartered in size by construction, and it was snowing. Did I mention it was snowing? It was furiously dumping snow. People were quickly buying tickets for Cloverfield, and it was 7:30, so I offered to buy the tickets for them. As they came in, I popped the tickets into their hands and we went to the theater. The movie started without a title and for a monster movie it was going a long time without anything sinister happening, so Dan leaned over and said that he thought we were in the wrong movie. I shook my head, because I knew from the previews that the monster would be showing up shortly. Dan was thinking that Tim Burton must have a very odd take on Sweeney Todd for this to be the movie, but since there was no title for the movie, he had no definitive proof.
Once the movie was over, we had our WTF?! moment, and we discovered the confusion. The movie generated a little of that too. Dan and Laura were still intent on seeing Sweeney Todd, so we decided to head on up through the thick snow to the Colorado Center to see the 10:20 showing of Sweeney Todd. Spur of the moment, I figured I'd go with the flow, so up I-25 we went and Laura got our tickets. I divvied them up for everyone and we headed across the street to a Perkins. We had 45 minutes to kill before the show started, so we figured we'd grab some dessert and bide our time. Unfortunately, it took the waitress 30 minutes just to come take our order. By that time we'd asked a different waitress for our check for the coffee and cocoa we'd gotten when we sat down. So we got out of there pie-less and disgruntled and walked through the snow back to the theater. That's when I found that I had lost my ticket, probably back in the Perkins. I emptied every pocket, but it was not there. I was ready to just go buy another ticket, but the taker was cool and used the receipt for 3 tickets to allow me in.
I don't know if you're familiar with the story of Sweeney Todd, but it is a rather dark and disturbing one, to which Tim Burton added gurgling, arterial fountains of syrupy blood. The ending is just depressing, with the one bright point being occluded by the editing. Pretty much the message is even darker than that of No Country For Old Men, because in addition to its message that horrible violence can come upon you any time unexpectedly, Sweeney Todd says that all people deserve it, and you'll probably end up hurting or killing or being killed by someone you love or who loves you. Cheery.
Cloverfield wasn't much cheerier. If you could take the motion sickness-inducing camera work (The guy's an amateur. We get it, but could you please just hold the camera straight or get people's faces in the frame when you're not running?), you would find the message to be, uhm, that a monster may kill you for inexplicable reasons, but it is worth bringing your friends and family to gruesome deaths in order to tell a girl you love her. Very distracting was the fact that the main character (other than the one behind the camera) looks very much like my friend Chris from Orlando.
So it was a double-barreled night of death, destruction, and depravity, frosted with snow and seasoned with very bad service. Hmmm. It was actually pretty fun, like something from college.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
There you go. I hope that helps. I know some of you have trouble when you try to strive fruitlessly and waste an entire fricking day trying to meet a deadline, so I thought I'd lend a hand. Really, the credit goes to Flex.
The next night was characterized by a dinner of a rather different character. As I've ridden by the homeless sleeping along the Cherry Creek trail, I've felt the tugging to do something to help, but I've never had the best answer of what is the best way to help. I figure that the surest way to provide help is to support the shelters and organizations that reach out to the homeless. This way, I can be more confident that my money and resources will go to helping people get off the street rather than perpetuating the situation. When the homeless go to shelter, they'll have access to a program that is designed to get them off the streets and back on their feet if they desire. But I felt a need to do more than throw some money to the shelters and be done with it, so I went and volunteered at the Denver Rescue Mission. I helped prep food and bussed tables. It was pretty eye opening to see the number of people that streamed through the room, and the differing appearances. There were some who fit your typical image of the homeless, but there were guys who looked like businessmen, college students, construction workers and the like.
It was a really good experience for me. The day of work before it was so frustrating I thought I'd have a heart attack from the wrath churning inside me. I almost canceled on the volunteering so I could just chill out or do some more work to try to meet the deadlines, but as is so often the case in these situations, volunteering was the perfect thing for me to do. It totally took my mind of myself and the stresses I was under. For a couple hours I was embroiled in something else and doing good, and it did good for me. I think this is something that I will be doing again.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
And then later in that chapter, there's a passage that seems to speak to the war in Iraq in several different ways:
11 I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.
12 Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them. (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12)
17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good. (Ecclesiastes 9:17-18)There's nothing new under the sun.
In other news, the King of Saudia Arabia has invited President Bush to his ranch. I wonder if Bush will get a chance to clear brush out on the ranch. He seems to enjoy it.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
I've finally got my new work laptop up and running. It runs more quietly, coolly, and smoothly than my old one, but now everything is not set up the way I like, especially Flex. I went ahead and moved to Flex 3 Beta 3 on a different install of Eclipse (Europa, if you cared). It is driving me insane. It seems to break spontaneously much more frequently (1 in 4 builds or so fails for no apparent reason) and controls are not responding the way I had them in my old install. Now, every time I make a change to the framework code for our current project, I have to rerun an Ant script and then recompile my project, rather than just compiling the project. Also, the shortcut key for compiling no longer works right, so I have to use a context menu instead. Those are some of the cons. The pros of the switch are ... uh, they're ... uh, um ... well, I guess things will break slightly less spectacularly when the final release for Flex 3 comes out. I cannot express how much I loathe Flex right now, at least, not without primal screams and acts of man-on-computer violence.
Jason had some spare shoes and we went up to West Chicago Creek out of Idaho Springs and hiked around for a while. This was also my first time in the mountains for a while, and the first time I've gotten out to play in the snow for a very long time. I was well bundled up with my gear and was quite comfortable. In fact, I was a little hot. In fact, I sweat so much, my headband, stocking cap, and other garments were soaked through. I guess those miracle fabrics that keep the snow out were keeping every drop of sweat in. Still it was a good time, if a moist one.
Once we got back to the car, I had the satisfaction of seeing a big Yukon or Tahoe or some such Suburban Assault Vehicle spinning out on a hill my little Mazda 3 Daria, had climbed with ease. Heh heh heh. Mmm. I'm going to savor that thought. I'm sure Daria is still giggling about it.
Update!: I now have a few pictures up from the trip in my gallery.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Let's start first with the very long-lived Beretta company, listed by the book as the world's oldest arms manufacturer. It was founded in 1526. According to Wikipedia, the company started with the sale of 185 arquebus barrels and has remained in the same family for nigh half a millennium. There has got to be quite the story there. It's 500 years of fire arms sales, starting in Italy, home of the Mafia. It looks like there is a book about the company, but not a real history. This looks more like a pictorial guide to the company and its products. That's a shame, because there must be some good tales there. The oldest company in the world, as reckoned by Wikipedia, is Kongō Gumi, a Japanese construction firm. It got its start in 578. Sheesh.
So let's move on to the horrible. I cannot quite express how repulsed and horrified I am by the hagfish, also known as the slime eel. The hagfish is in the book as the largest sneezing fish, though it is really the only one. It could hold the record for grossest, if grossness were quantifiable. I'll just quote the book
[The hagfish] bores inside other fishes-living, dying, or dead-and eats their internal organs until they are literally hollow. It then slips out of the hole by secreting vast amounts of a slime-like lubricant. To prevent itself from suffocating in this substance, it literally sneezes the slime out of its primitive respiratory slits.Wikipedia adds that
"While having no ability to enter through skin, they will often enter through current openings such as the mouth, gills or anus."I'll just let you dwell on that for a while. ... Formed a nice mental picture? Yeah, me too. I can feel the bile bubbling up in the back of my throat.
Okay, let's move on to Nazis. Erich Hartmann may have fought for the Nazis, but he was a bad ass. He is the flying ace (a pilot with 5 or more kills) with the most kills in history. He shot down 352 enemy planes and according to Wikipedia, he was never shot down, but did have to crash land or abandon planes after colliding with debris from his victims. He even landed once behind Russian lines and was captured, but escaped and walked back to Germany. He didn't die in combat and lived to a ripe old 71. He even came to the U.S. in later days and trained on American aircraft. His nearest rival was a fellow Luftwaffe member with 301 kills. The nearest Allied pilot, and believe me, this comes after a long, long list of Germans, was a Finnish pilot with 94 kills. I wonder why the Germans had so many aces with so many kills? Was it just that they were in the war the longest of anyone, or were their Messerschmidts just that much better than their opponents? It amazes me that I had never heard of him before reading this book, whereas I know the Red Baron (Manfred von Richthofen), who shot down a paltry 80 planes in World War I.
So there's a taste of some of the interesting things that struck me while reading the book.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
A different kind of ridiculous greeted me this morning. Some lame jackmonkey stole my flat kit. I had a little bag that fit under my bike seat that carried my bike pump, a patch kit, some allen wrenches, and some tire removal tools. And some jerk lifted it from my bike when it was down in the bike room. So lame. Why are people so lame? I will draw comfort from the idea that the person will have some bruised knuckles if they use the bike pump. It tends to snap its valve lever down unexpectedly while pumping, delivering a smart rap to the nearest knuckle. Serves them right, the jerk.
Friday, January 4, 2008
4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel— not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, 5 lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. 6 Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; 7 let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. (Proverbs 31:4-7, NIV)
It's not very often you have the Bible advocating to drink to forget, so this sort of grabbed my attention. I'm thinking that it is along the lines of Revelations 22:11 where it says, "Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy." The idea is that it's too late to change your ways by the time Revelations rolls around. You might as well just keep on keepin' on, because your die is cast and your fate is sealed. Similarly in this proverb, for those who are perishing, they might as well get drunk to forget their miserable fate. It's, uh, not really a New Testament kind of message. Not quite. A little short on hope and redemption, if you ask me. This is one of those passages that seems to contradict other parts of the Bible, but if you look through the Bible for an overall context of God's word you can see where something like this might fit in. I suppose I could use this to justify not thinking about how a panhandler might spend money I give him. Of course, this passage comes shortly before the
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Also, on a completely unrelated note, is anyone else flabbergasted by France's new ban on smoking? I mean, they've banned smoking in almost every single public establishment. This is France we're talking about. Will the iconic Frenchman drinking wine and smoking in an outdoor cafe while sporting a beret be replaced by a red-eyed, irritable Frenchman nervously twirling a pen and chewing gum? Don't get me wrong. I'm all for smoking bans, but France without cigarettes would be like Germany without beer or England without tea or Greece without olives. It's a brave new world out there.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Today I got back on the bike after about a month of being off due to snow, sickness, and Sonoran vacations. Oh, and sloth, too. As good as it sounded to start the year off being fit and exercising and all, it was very much a mistake. It was painfully, painfully cold out this morning. I may have to have cheek transplants. Secondly, the paths did not get cleaned as well as the last time I rode in the snow. Vast gray ice sheets cover sections of sidewalk and path. Especially where ramps lead from sidewalk to street, the slush has been churned and frozen into hard, slippery, grotesque barriers. My commute today was far too slippery for my taste, and subsequently I was super slow and tense on the way in. Even going cautiously I had several slip-n-slides. Yeah, I'll be driving in tomorrow.
I did see a kingfisher today, though. I think that's my first one in Denver. Also, there were some ducks that amazed me with their fortitude by swimming in water when it is so cold that it hurts to breathe and my bike chain is stiff and grumbly. Them's some crazy ducks, I tell you what.
My New Year's Eve was pretty decent. I ran some errands and baked a pear ginger pie, which I took to David's party. There was plenty of good food, booze, and people heavily indulging in both. I got into a Trivial Pursuit game, but was stymied by questions about catfish production, Canadian baseball players, and the Reverend Sun Yung Moon's tax trouble. Catfish I can understand, but baseball? C'mon.
Oh, I should have some pictures from Arizona up soon. I hope you like cacti and succulents. I mean, like them a lot.