Saturday, February 28, 2009

Seth Godin

I read Seth Godin's blog, not because I'm thirsty for information how to be a better salesman, but mostly because he has the occasional brilliant insight and shares them with us.

Here's one.

Here's another.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Belly-Button Lent

So, we're kicking off Lent in bad taste, I see.  My joke was that we're allowed to be Irish in spirit on St. Patrick's Day, so I see no reason why I can't be Jewish in spirit on Easter.  I thought that was pretty tacky.


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More Babies (Still Not Mine)

So I found out this morning that my sister is expecting.  I shared this news with some coworkers who all responded cautiously.  Then I assured them that this pregnancy was intentional and they were vocally congratulatory.

Ahh, programmers.

So congrats Liz, and now I get my Uncle-by-marriage status upgraded to full-blown Uncle.  So, that's fun.

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Sidenote: Waltron!  This morning's tally was 54!  Where you at?!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nothin' Doin'

This apparently is my 200th post. As Kermit the frog would say, "Yaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy!"

To celebrate, here's a link to an Onion video that I found completely hilarious.

Also, Happy Fat Tuesday! And in advance, Happy Ash Wednesday! And Freaky Friday!

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Ask a Med School Student

My friend Walt, who is off learning doctor-hood, has been taking questions on his blog.  It's kind of fun.

Just ask a medical question in the comments section.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

And the Oscar Goes to...

Something someone left laying around the internet: a leaked list of this year's Oscar winners.

Who's to say if it's legit or not?  We'll find out on the 22nd.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's Effing Over With!

Well, we finally got moved out. Every last thing we own is in our new home.

That only took three weeks.

And we're still unpacking, obviously, but that could go on for years and years.

Still, it's a hurdle cleared. Also, today's pushup count: 20. Monday's was 14. On track.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pushing What?

So, as part of my physical fitness bent of late, I discovered the 100 push-ups site, promising the participant that they will be able to do 100 push-ups after only a six week training program. Obviously there are exceptions--if you can already to twenty pushups, you're supposed to jump into week 3 of the program. And it doesn't actually promise anything, per se.

But what the hell--right? After all, it's free and I can roll it into my regular workout regimen without too much difficulty. So tomorrow is day 2 (of 3) of week 1 (because I started on Monday and didn't bother to tell anyone--I'm a horrible blogger). We'll see how it goes.

Good times.

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A Post that Borders on Glurge

So, I'm at the beginning of my fifth month as a code monkey, which, full disclosure, is not something I ever pictured myself doing.

I always assumed that programming was beyond me. I took one programming class in college (a necessity for my math major) and decided it was most certainly not for me. Part of it was the language: Pascal. While a useful teaching tool, Pascal is not something that is widely used (or was when I took the class in ca. 2000) and has not, in fact, been revised since 1992. But mostly I blame the instructor.

Lectures took place in the computer lab, which would have been useful if we were allowed to turn the computers on. Her lectures were hand-written on the white board (if ever there was a class that could make use of a PowerPoint presentation, it was this), and typically the first half of any given day's lecture was spent covering the second half of the previous lecture. She also was useless at giving us contexts for what we were doing. This woman had written her own gradebook program, but her real-world example was always "something you could program a robot to do", which is a little too vague for students and not nearly cool enough for those of us who were out of junior high (that is to say... all of us).

So I washed my hands of it and simply assumed that it required a caliber of smart that was above me. So I can't thank Evan enough for introducing me to Java and giving me the resources to learn it, and opening up an opportunity to do it for a living, because it turns out that not only am I capable of programming, I've actually got some talent in it.

Granted, of the four months I've got under my belt, I've easily spent two and a half of them without any clear idea what was going on. But I muddled through what I could and kept learning, but it was some point in the last few weeks that I finally hit critical mass and began grasping the bigger picture. Suddenly it all started making sense, and I can say without reservation that I'm a much better programmer today than I was a month ago. And I think my boss would agree.

And because I have a better understanding of the context, I'm now able to assimilate information more quickly--which is good, because there's an awful lot to learn in Java. So I'm writing better code, and avoiding making the same mistakes more than once or twice. And even more importantly, I'm making worthwhile contributions to salable products (rock bottom for me in retail was the better part of a week I spent rearranging toothbrushes--four whole days on toothbrushes... ay-yi-yi). I'm not trying to brag here or sound cocky (I don't have any delusions--I'm well aware that I still have lots of room to improve), but it genuinely astounds me: this is not something I would have foreseen ten years ago... or even two years ago...

In short, life is good, overall. We've got a new home, good prospects, comfortable income. We could be a bit more socially active, but we have friends we do stuff with. And in my entire life as a working adult, I don't think I've ever been quite so happy with my living/working situation. Granted, part of me is kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop, but if I weren't just a little paranoid, I wouldn't be me.

Still, for now. Life. is. good.

Anyway, I should try to sleep,
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Saturday, February 7, 2009

B-Music

The amount of moving-related work I've had to do lately has given me an opportunity to get through the rest of the A's on my ipod, finishing the letter off with two rather amusingly named songs: Avery M. Powers Memorial Beltway from Fear of Pop (Ben Folds' first side project) and Pearl Jam's Aye Davanita.

B started out with KoRn's B.B.K., which is an okay song, but after that the list picked up with B.J. Don't Cry by Moxy Fruvous and B.O. Juice by Hawaiian-based Christian punk-rockers Pspazz. Serious spirituality in that song (if I may borrow an overused joke from the 90's)... NOT. And on to B.O.B. and B.Y.O.B. (Outkast and System of a Down Respectively). Oddly enough, KoRn started the list off with A.D.I.D.A.S. Wouldn't it be interesting if they got around to starting EVERY letter (although to do that they'd have to put out some more song titles with initials... and also make some good music so I'd start buying their albums again).

I'm in the midst of a stretch of "Bad" songs that started with Bad (Michael Jackson), Bad Blood (Ministry...that was an interesting transition, let me tell you). Then came Squirrel Nut Zippers with Bad Businessman, Bad Company's Bad Company, and Fuel's Bad Day.

Next up were some sets of doubles: live and album versions of Seatbelts Bad Dog No Biscuits (from Cowboy Bebop), two different songs called Bad Habit, by Dresden Dolls and The Offspring, Bad Horse and its reprise from Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog and then demo and album version of Ben Folds Five's Bad Idea.

Then some classic "Bad" songs with The Kingston Trio's Bad Man's Blunder and CCR's Bad Moon Risin', and right now I'm on The Bad Touch a la Bloodhound Gang, and lastly Jim Croce's Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (bumped to the end of the alphabetic listing due to a comma... thanks iTunes). After detouring to Badge by Cream, Bruce Springsteen will finish off the list with Badlands.

Only to get us into four songs called "The Ballad of..." something. (Billy the Kid, Danny Bailey, John and Yoko, and Johnny Butt... not sure how I missed out on Chasey Lane... I should look into that).

More updates later. This post has gotten boring.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Zack & Miri Make an Omission

I remember when they opened a Family Video in Fulton--this was back in the late 90's, when people still rented movies from video stores and VHS still mostly dominated the market (god, I suddenly feel very old).  Anyway, me and some other college buddies went to check it out and pick up a couple videos and as we were checking out, the guy behind the counter asked us "Have you been back there yet?" while nodding to one end of the store.

We turned and saw a walled off corner with a discreet door and a curved mirror over it.  It was the porno section.  And it occurred to me then and there that the name "Family Video" was totally apropos, because it had its dirty little secrets, it just had them skirted off to a corner so no one will notice.  But this is sort of the way of things, porn is a massive, massive industry that exists just outside the mainstream, but it never farther than an arm's reach away because we are collectively a little ashamed and/or embarrassed by it.

This became glaringly evident yesterday when Abby and I went to Target to pick up a copy of Zack & Miri Make a Porno, the latest Kevin Smith film, but instead we had to settle for some movie called Zack & Miri, which has the same plot, actors, even the same sounds and images, but only half the title.

So, are we such prudes now that even the word "porno" offends us?  Of course not.  If Sean Hannity put out a book called "Pornography Kills", you can bet that Target wouldn't make him take the word "Porno" out of the title (not just because "-graphy Kills" makes no sense).  So it's not that the word "porno" offends so much as its the idea of people making a porn film without their lives falling into ruin Requiem-for-a-Dream-style that makes us squeamish.  The idea that something "bad" might, in fact, be innocuous.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Post Super Bowl Ad Meltdown

So I never got around to watching the Super Bowl.  I generally can enjoy a football game every now and then, but the joys of watching this one particular game don't outweigh the burdens of actually ordering cable, so unless we get invited over to somebody's, Abby and I just don't watch it.

Of course, the commercials are all available on Hulu, your and my favorite ad-supported-on-demand-streaming-video site.  Of course, the fact that this is an ad-supported site means that to watch the ads on this site means you're watching ad-supported ads.  In addition to being definitively ironic, it opens up all sorts of avenues for meta-humor.

Hulu, for example had a prominently featured commercial (which ran during the first quarter--I think--and was a full minute long; more proof that this company is making money hand-over-fist).  So, I watched a commercial for Hulu on Hulu, sponsered by TheraFlorists.

Although Abby may have won--she watched a commercial for Pepsi that was sponsered by Coke Zero.

Although the spots for the upcoming G.I. Joe movie and Transformers 2 left me pretty giddy.  Shameless, empty action?  Yes, but I can get into that every once in a while.

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