Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Effin Christmas, everybody!

I suppose it's technically not Christmas anymore, but what the hey: Merry Effin Christmas. 

Betsy Aoki brought to my attention the fact that a new version of XNA game studio 2.0 is out.  I thought "Kick @$$!" and immediately downloaded it.  It installed great, I got the starter kit, and it blew chunks.  I hate this damn computer.  I've apparently got the screwiest video card on the planet (Radeon 9250 if any of you would like to avoid it).  You see, the plan was to throw together a little "Santanator" game similar to the old Duke Nukem 1 that would allow all of you to participate in my little private war on Scroogery, but frikin' Dell put a stop to that.  Time to get myself a little birthday/Christmas present and buy a decent computer.  I'm thinking Dual Core/Big Ass Video Card with 400 billion gigs of ram, you know, standard development machine.  I'll let you know how that works out.  I can tell you this much... no more Dells.  I'm going back to the Frankenstein

On a completly unrelated note, I've got the bug to write again, but I'm having trouble nailing down a story.  Feel free to post any ideas you'd like to share here, maybe I can use it.  I give credit.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Take your "Bah Humbug" and shove it up your big fat ass!

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We're happy tonight.
Bitchin' about how much we hate Christmas!

What? That's not how it goes? The hell you say!

I intended to imbed Joe Pesci's "Take your love and shove it up your big fat ass" as the theme song for this post, but I couldn't find a stream of it. Google it, you'll find it, eventually. It pretty much sums up how I'm feeling about Christmas (and other things) right about now.

What the hell happened to Christmas? It's been over-commercialized, defined as some date with no background that's been defined to mean "peace on earth, happiness" and all that crap, and everybody you see says "Bah Humbug." We've all turned into Scrooges. The "Christmas Spirit" is at an all time low.

What the fuck, people?

Let's straighten a few things out.

1. I'm not Christian, so the "real" meaning of Christmas is more or less pointless to me. An earth spirit was born 2000 years ago, supposedly on December 25th, told everybody to be good to each other, then got nailed to a tree for it. Very sad. Let's move on, bible-thumping soon-to-be-ex-wife notwithstanding.

2. The over-commercialization of Christmas is, I believe where the majority of the ill feelings towards Christmas comes from. Black Friday? What are we shopping for? We fight monstrous crowds trying to find the "perfect" gift, and increase our respective stress levels by enough per capita to power several starving third world countries. Feeling Jolly yet?

3. No matter how many times and in how many forms we cram "A Christmas Carol" down your gullet, you people just don't seem to get it. All I hear is "I hate Christmas. Bah Fucking Humbug."

4. I've got as much reason to hate Christmas this year as anybody. I won't go into details, but it involves death, shattered home life, and various mental instabilities all hitting at once. Figures it be fucking Christmas.

I feel like Clark Fucking Griswold.

Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.

Jesus Christ, I am Clark Fucking Griswold!

When I was a kid, Christmas was a good thing. I'm sure my parents practically killed themselves trying to make it that way, but dammit I WANT MY CHRISTMAS BACK!.

That's it. I've had it. Say hello to Santa's big-ass helper.


That's right. You worms better get Jolly or else. I'd better start hearing some fucking "Merry Christmas" and I'd better fucking believe it, or I'll shove your "Bah Humbug" so far down your god damned throat, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come will have to bring a fucking scalpel.

This is you last warning, worms! Get Jolly or Get Your Ass Kicked!

Santanator out.


Restored comments:

Celes said:

Yeah, I kind of felt this way this holiday season. I understand there are lots of negative things that have come about with this holiday- but if you have any control over your own life, why not try to make the best of it? Shit happens no matter what time of the year it is. Eat some cookies and try to get over it already. I know it's over commercialized, but then if you hate that, why not refuse to participate in the commercial aspects you disagree with? Buy and give if you really feel it. If you're giving out of obligation and guilt, it makes the gift pretty worthless.

The Cowboy said:

Hey, you know me. A rant a day... It's not even the commercialization of Christmas that annoys me, I tune that out for the most part. I think it bothers other people, then they take it out on me. That annoys me. Then I rant. Then I feel better and yell less. Well, usually. Not this time. Usually I'm pretty effin Jolly. Ho ho ho.

Just for the record this wasn't in response to any blog post, it was in response to people in my life being pissy, making it harder for me to be so effin Jolly. Sorry if it came off offensively. I have that effect on people.

- CC - said:

Offense? Not I. I wasn't directing that comment at you, I was directing it at those people who have been pissing you off and me off as well with their bellyaching.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Tao of the Cowboy

The stresses in my life have made me a little un-centered lately. Today I'm trying to refocus on spirituality. The "Tao" in front of "Cowboy" is for a reason.

A recap for those who don't want to go digging for this nugget of info in my past posts. Several years ago I joined what I though was a normal everyday church. Actually my wife joined, and talked me into going. Oddly enough I'd been approached by these people twice before, and this little alarm went off in my head. This time it didn't.

Being in a cult is a very strange experience. Nobody in a cult believes they're in a cult, even if everybody that knows them can see it. Nobody about to join a cult thinks they're stupid enough to join one. The flaw in their logic is that the likelihood of you joining a cult has absolutely nothing to do with your intellect. Nothing. Very smart people join cults all the time. The Hale-Bopp comet cult was full of very smart people. Don't ever think you're too smart to fall for it. That leads to the Dark Side, my friend. It's all about emotions.

The other danger of cults is that very few people actually know what a cult is. People who have never been in one tend to get their ideas of what a cult is from TV. I seriously doubt any dramatization of Jim Jones or David Koresh was even remotely accurate. Many people who have been in cults still don't know what one is. They may or may not be aware of why their head is so screwy, but they may not know what makes that group a cult.

I spent a year after I left my cult convinced I was going to hell. I still believed what they told me, but knew I couldn't return. I didn't know why. I guess that little alarm in my head finally went off. A very old and very dear friend of mine finally told me what had happened to me, and how the bastards fucked with my head. Recovery was a slow, painful process, but I managed to drag two more people out with me, one of them my wife. I have to give her credit, I didn't think she was strong enough to leave. That gives me a final score of -2, or 2 depending on how you look at it. I never dragged anybody in, but I managed to drag a few out. One of the few positive things I can say about the whole crappy mess. I was able to do all of that because I took the time to find out what defines a cult and how they work. I needed to know how that had happened to me. I normally consider myself a relatively intelligent person.

Something odd happened after that. I had lost all desire to go to any church. I went to a few on my wife's request, but every time it just creeped me out, sort of like somebody trying to get on an airplane after surviving a crash. Eventually I admitted to myself that Christianity held nothing for me anymore. So I started looking.

I found Taoism. In all this time I've only scratched the surface of what's there. In true eastern fashion, it doesn't fit the western definition of a religion or a philosophy. It's somewhere in between. A lot of westerners have trouble with that, but it's part of what attracted me to it. It was also the first "religion" that I found that didn't condemn all the non-followers as heathen bastards going to hell. It actually validated other beliefs, and talked about how many don't understand their own religions.

If anybody understood the Christian bible, would there be (if I remember correctly) over 300 denominations of Christianity?

I wouldn't call myself a true Taoist, but that's where I look when I need a little spiritual guidance. It fits with my theory of the universe the closest.

Tao information, translation, screensavers & more

One of the more central ideas in Taoism is Wu-Wei. It's not an easy concept to explain, but nothing in Taoism is. The closest parallel in western thought is "Go with the Flow". One of my favorite books, The Tao of Winnie-the-Pooh uses Pooh bear to brilliantly explain this concept. It's Pooh's uncanny knack for just letting things happen and always ending up on top that shows the idea the best.

In my life I have an example, and it's very recent. This is kind of surprising because I haven't been practicing these ideas lately, but I think that I should. It involves going to what I would consider one of my top 5 perfect jobs, and it just sort of happened. My entire life, whenever something bad seemed to be happening, I would let it work itself out, and I always ended up better off than I was before. That's Wu-Wei. I suppose I've always been a kind of Taoist, I just didn't know it.

I needed to remind myself of that today. I don't have enough time now to explain why, but it got the job done all the same. Who knows, maybe what I've written here will help somebody. Maybe not. It's all the same.

Anyway, another important part of Taoism is getting proper rest, so I'm going to bed.


Restored Comments

tao said:

All judgement is immoral and all effort to change somebody is destructive and violent. And that's what cults and churches have been doing up to now. That's why Lao Tzu is incomparable, unique, unsurpassed before and after. His vision is the ultimate vision of spontaneity, suchness, nature. If you understand him your life will start moving in a totally different rhythm. You will become a non-interference, WU-WEI. And only when you don't interfere in another's life do you respect life that's what reverence of life is all about.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What's bugging Cowboy?

There was a vote a couple of years ago to allow gay marriage.  I never once heard a really good argument against it, yet it failed.  There's only so many places you can be on this issue.  Let's review, shall we?

1. You're gay, so you're for it.  Simple enough.

2. You don't care.  Probably an enlightened heterosexual (or metrasexual) who, like me, is yet to hear an argument against it that doesn't involve invoking the Christian bible or God.

3. You're against it.  This is the one that interests me, why would somebody be against this?  The obvious one, and the only one I heard during the debate was "God hates homos".  Eloquent enough, but what about separation of church and state?  Are we still basing laws on the bible?  While we're at it let's throw all the damn heathen Atheists, Hindus, Taoists, and whatnot out of the country.  Being decidedly non-Christian since that whole cult ordeal, I'm going to have to reject that argument.  Plus, I'm a bit more tolerant than that by nature. 

I can understand the Christians feeling that gay marriage is wrong and has no place in their religion.  Don't allow gay marriages in your church.  See?  You have every right to do that.  Do you really have a right to force tenants from your religion on the rest of the country? 

My problem is, I don't see why it should be illegal.  If you've got a good reason and can state it without using the words "God" or "Bible", fire away.  It's kindof like the whole marijuana debate.  Why exactly is it illegal?  What makes it worse than say alcohol?  We seem to have a whole series of "immoral" laws, making illegal things that would only hurt yourself if you were to do them.  The only justification seems to be that it's immoral, according to some religion or another. 

Here's what should be illegal, but isn't:

1. Six hour miniseries with no denouement.  What the hell, Tin Man?  I haven't seen anything end so abruptly since Rosemary's baby.

2. Driver's licenses for idiots.  I know you heard there's going to be ice, but the weatherman was wrong.  There's no ice on the road, so you don't need to drive really really really slow in preparation.  I need to get to work today, dammit!

3. Hillary Clinton for president.  I have no problem with a woman president, just her.  We've had enough Bushes and Clintons.  How about Mary Carey?  Just imagine what she could do for foreign policy!

4. $3/gal. for gas.  What the hell?  What.... the.... hell?

5. Spell checkers that don't know the word "dammit".  Dammit!

6. My continual rants.  Who really wants to hear this crap?  Peace out!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!

Okay, I'm apparently not very good at satire.  My last post contained a bit of satire combined with a bit of truth.  Here's how to sort them out:

1. Please don't send me your twenties.  It was a satire on Internet scams inspired by Rory's post.  I didn't post a mailing address on purpose (duh!).  If you ask me for one I will first laugh, then, as I slowly realize that you're not joking, I will begin to cry softly.  When my wife asks me why I'm crying, I'll have to reply "The world has gone insane.   I'm going to build it a little house to keep it safe."  Then I'll build a small shack inside out, and quietly stand guard "outside" to make sure none of the patients escape.

2. The dollar bill didn't really shrink.  It wasn't even my dollar bill.  I shrank the picture myself with Paint.NET.  It's a great program, and it's free.  Download it, then donate to the cause.  However, it was meant to point out that during the last administration we've A) gone to two wars from which we "can't" get out. B) Gotten way too many of our young men and women killed for a war that never had anything to do with 9/11.  C) Watched oil companies make record profits.  D) Watched our budgets shrink as gas prices have tripled, with a ripple effect to almost everything else.  The dollar does not go nearly as far as it used to even eight years ago.  I'm not trying to lay out a conspiracy theory here, I'm pointing out that our government has made poor choices, refused to admit that they were poor choices, and refused to try to fix the messes that they've created.  We've lost nearly 4,000 soldiers in Iraq.  Are we safer because of that?

3. I really do think Henry Rollins would be a good president.  Better than anybody else currently running.  I really am tired of the Bushes and the Clintons.  I really do think that we won't find a good candidate in Washington D.C.  Douglas Adams once said something to the effect that anybody who wants to be a politician is by their very nature the worst choice for a political leader.  I think he's right.  Is Henry the answer?  Maybe, maybe not, but either way we need a change.

4. The digg this links were because of the Henry Rollins content.  I tried clicking on them myself and couldn't get it to work.  I don't think it's the plugin's fault.  I tried doing it through the digg site and it didn't work either.  Ah well, I didn't really think the Rollins for President movement was going to take off anyway, but it was fun to try.

5. Yes, the inside out house was from Douglas Adams as well.

Rory, I hope I'm trustworthy again.  I've learned my lesson. Angel

Everybody else: Satire is BAD BAD BAD!

If you'll excuse me, I've got six hours of Tin Man to veg out to.

Monday, December 10, 2007

More Henry

I couldn't leave it alone. I found this and had to put it up. This is a letter from Henry to Ann Coulter. Every reason I want this man for our next president is summed up right here. After watching this, you too will be unable to deny that we could have no better president.

Conspiracies and the next President of the United States

Rory has just opened my eyes to a terrible conspiracy! Yes it's true, there is a government conspiracy regarding the twenty dollar bill. I wasted no time in trying to help people.

I can help you!

Your twenties are no longer safe! You must get rid of them now! Can you burn them? No. There's a secret sensor inside them that can detect when you're trying to destroy them. You'll have SWAT teams bashing in your windows before you've even got the fire going. Don't burn them! Your only option is to...


Yes, that's the only way you can be sure. Send all of your twenties to me, for I've unlocked the secret of how to disable the sensor and can safely destroy your twenties. I would post the information here, but that would alert the PRIVACYINVADER 3000 server and then I'd have the SWAT teams bashing in my windows. You have to send them to me now, it's the only way!

On a related note: I've been running a little experiment. I took a dollar bill from around the beginning of the current administration. Here it is before:


Last week I checked on it to see how it was doing, and here's what I found:


That's right, people: It shrank. Check for yourself: Go to your local gas station and put $5 of gas in your car. See how far it gets you. How far did it get you eight years ago?

You're probably thinking "It's the Republicans!" but you're wrong. A Democrat won't fix this either. There's only one answer to what's ailing this country. There's only one way to put our country back on the right path.

It's not another Bush.

It's not another Clinton.

It's not any of the D.C. regulars who want you to believe they're different. They're not. You could vote for them, but the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. We keep voting for the same people (note: 20 years of Bushes and Clintons) and things never change. It's time for real change.

This election, my vote goes to Henry Rollins.

Vote for Henry Rollins. Tell your friends to vote for Henry! Tell your mom! Get everybody you can to vote Rollins next fall! He needs your support!

This message was not paid for nor endorsed by Henry Rollins.

I'm The Cowboy and I approve this message.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Links and Smileys

As I said last time, coming up with topics for posts seems to be getting harder. I think I'm hitting a creative slump right now, as even coding or composing in my spare time fails to interest me lately. Might be time to ask the doc for more wellbutrin.

Honestly, I only have two reasons for this post: one is to brag about the fact the I got a link from Rory Blyth. Thanks, Rory. I'm assuming that means you occasionally peek over this way. That's cool, 'cause I deleted all the mean things I said about you just in case that happened.

The truth is I occasionally up a link (like the one three sentences ago) just in case anybody happens to read any of this and wants to know just who the hell this Rory bloke is anyway. I'm not really trying to drive any traffic his way, because I'm pretty sure I don't have any traffic to drive.

All that's to say, I'm not sure what the etiquette is here. I posted a comment thanking him (I hope he understands German), and then wondered if that means I'm suddenly going to have a lot of traffic here and if that's really a good thing. I suppose it is if I'm ever going to get Henry Rollins in the White House. As I blog I discover things about myself. I originally intended to blog a mixture of programming topics interspersed with occasional attempts at humor. What ended up happening is that I find that I tend to rant quite a bit, so the things I rant about during the day have a way of finding their way here. It's not intentional, I don't encourage them to do that, they just do. Anyway, I'm not sure how all this linking and trackback sortof stuff works. If somebody could point me in the right direction so I don't make a complete ass of myself, it would be greatly appreciated.

The second thing is, I just downloaded some seriously cool plugins for Windows Live Writer, so I had to try them out. If you're looking for meaningful content, there's none past this point.

This is the "Insert a smiley!" plugin: Open-mouthed

Code Monkey: Monkey<-Me!

The obligatory dancing banana: Banana

This is the "Insert a code snippet" plugin. I got this one just in case I actually put up any tech posts. Here's hello world in C#:

   1: using System;

   2: class MyClass 

   3: {

   4:     static void Main() 

   5:     {

   6:         Console.WriteLine("Hello World!");

   7:     }

   8: } 

That's just freakin cool.

Here's the Digg This plugin:

I'm gonna use this on the next Henry Rollins post.

I've got a few more, Insert from Visual Studio, which isn't quite as cool as the code snippet one. Insert Silverlight Streaming Application, which I would use if I had one to stream (it's on my todo list), and an amazon link, I thought that might be cool but apparently you need an Affiliate number. I'll have to find out how to get one of those...

That's it! done playing.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

You're so far over the line... the line's a dot to you!

Bonus points if you can identify the quote.  The more I blog the more I realize what's really hard about maintaining a blog: deciding what the hell to write about. 

A lot of topics have been running through my head.  This is the danger of drinking coffee at night: your head starts working fast, but not necessarily the way it's supposed to.

Topics I've considered for this post were:

  • Jeff Atwood has managed to stir up a bit of controversy regarding the 80/20 division of programmers.  I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.
  • He also, in a follow-up post, divided programmers into three groups: Mort, Elvis, and Einstein.  I'm somewhere between Elvis and Einstein, because I've got the powerful intellect of Einstein with the unflappable cool of Elvis.  No?
  • The foul odor that just accosted me when I opened the fridge.  WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SMELL ANYWAY?
  • The shelf life of un-refrigerated pizza.  I hope it's long, because if not I'm in for a rough night.
  • Why the hell my bullet points look like flowers in Windows Live Writer.  Will they still look like flowers when I post?  That's gonna have to go.
  • Exactly how Luke became a full fledged Jedi with what could only have been a few days of training when the other Jedis had to study for years (see Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back).  This is the danger of being a Star Wars geek and watching them all in chronological order over six nights.  I would've done them all in one day if I could have.  Still doubt my geekiness?
  • The fact that I just applied for two completely separate dream jobs, and might actually have a chance at getting an interview. 

But I think what I'll talk about is how dangerous it is to have me for a dad. 

My six year old is about to turn seven.  He's entering that age when potty humor is sublime entertainment.  The other night we all sat down to a nice chili dinner.  My wife, trying to please myself and my oldest son, made the chili a bit spicier than normal.  My poor youngest couldn't eat it, but my oldest and I pretty much snarfed it.  Afterward, and I don't really remember how we got there, but the discussion of beans and their rather dramatic effect on the human digestive system became a topic of conversation.  I proceeded to illustrate a scenario in which I could save money on gasoline by strapping a pair of roller skates on my feet and a lit match to my butt.  The ensuing propulsion would surely get me to work in record time. 

The poor kid almost suffocated from uncontrolled laughter.  I was quite graphic about it and included sound effects.  I know all kids go through the potty humor stage, but are parents supposed to encourage it?  The problem is, I'm pretty sure with me as a father this poor boy stands no chance of leading a normal life at all. 

My brain, always racing ahead, immediately painted a picture for me of a future holiday dinner with friends and family, whereupon my son stands up and re-enacts the whole spiel.  Then he proudly turns to me and says "My dad told me that."  I don't think the human face is capable of looking sheepish enough to get out of that one, but you know it's going to happen.

What do you think?  Encourage crude behavior in children for the laugh factor or always be the "Serious" parent?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Windows PowerShell

So I've recently discovered Windows PowerShell. The concept is super cool: It's basically DOS on acid. Instead of the little commands that do string output and/or integer return values, the entire concept is based around .NET. Everything returns a .NET object and they can be strung together so that the input to one is the output object from another cmdlet (pronounced Command-Let). You can, of course write your own. This is exactly what I'm dying to do. I just have one problem: I can't think of one to write. Any ideas?




Restored comments:

Anonymous said

> DOS on acid. I like that - I'm going to use that one.

RE: What cmdlet to write.
When you run into something you want to do that you can't - you'll know what cmdlet to write.

Jeffrey Snover [MSFT]
Windows Management Partner Architect
Visit the Windows PowerShell Team blog at:
Visit the Windows PowerShell ScriptCenter at:

Reflections on DevConnections part IV: Leaving Las Vegas

I’m actually writing this before the previous post. Sorry for the discontinuity. It shouldn’t matter too much since these will all be posted after I get back to Kansas City anyway. Still no fucking Internet. And don’t even get me started on fucking Sprint.

Las Vegas has a way of eating you up and spitting you out. The Strip does anyway. The tourists all go to the strip, the locals avoid it. Las Vegas is kind of a nice town once you get away from the strip. This is my second stay in Las Vegas and I’m noticing a pattern. There’s excitement and promise as you arrive, but disappointment and slight depression as you leave, since none of those promises were fulfilled. Perhaps it’s not like that for the rich, but for those of us that are less than wealthy, it’s sortof harsh.

There are reasons that you don’t do the things you know you’re not supposed to do. Sometimes it’s hard to see until you’ve crossed that line. That’s all I’m saying about that.  Don't ask.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Reflections on DevConnections part III: Dude where's my Internet connection?!

Note: This was written while I was still at DevConnections.  It's a bit dated now.

This is fucking ridiculous. I haven’t been able to connect to the Internet for two weeks now. I have no access to any sources. Do you have any idea how many sessions end with “there will be more information on my blog” or “check out these resources” and I’m like “I’d fucking love to, but I can’t get on the Internet dammit!” How freaking hard can it be? Time Fucking Warner can’t hook up Internet at my house for a freaking week and a half and when they finally do, I’m in Las Vegas where Internet connections cost $500 and the supposed free one at DevConnections doesn’t seem to work. I’ve been trying since Monday. I have to assume it’s not a temporary glitch. AAARRRGGG!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reflections on DevConnections Part II -- All that damn walking

Las Vegas is big. Rather, everything in it is big. Rather, the hotels are big. We’ve been touring around checking things out, and you have to literally walk for miles. It’s that or a cab, and cabs are frikkin expensive here. There’s a few trams, but even that’s a little flawed. I was limping by Tuesday. I’m not as young as I used to be.

My sister lives in Las Vegas. I went to meet her at the Bellagio one evening. On foot, it went about like this: Walked about ¼ mile within the hotel to the tram. Took the tram to Excalibur. The free tram stops there. Walked to MGM Grand, where the not-free tram starts. There’s a big sign over the walkway that says “Monorail Entrance”. That’s a little misleading because you have to walk what must have literally been a mile to the back of the hotel (it winds around) to get to the monorail. I bought my $9 ticket thinking “the walking is finally over.” Not. “Access to the Bellagio” was the very next stop, the Bally. Walked through the Bally, and walked, and walked. The monorail goes to the back of the hotel. Did I mention they’re big? Finally thought I found a shortcut and went out of the Bally. That exit took me to a rather unused side street. Walking along that was interesting. Chalk up another ¼ mile. Walked past the crazy looking dude getting arrested, finally got back to the strip. At this point I could’ve just walked the street and it would have been faster. But it still would have been couple of miles, I’m sure. Across the street to the Bellagio and another ½ mile through the hotel. I damn near can’t walk.

A friend of mine who came with our group hurt his foot on Monday, and all the walking aggravated it till he couldn’t walk. He got a scooter. At least I haven’t gotten that bad.

Today’s Wednesday, and we leave tomorrow. My brain is full. I'll blog some of the cool stuff I learned there later, but today I met Carl Franklin of Dot Net Rocks. Well, I shook his hand and said “love the show” anyway. I’ll bet he’s never heard that before. Way to make an impression, man! The career at Microsoft is in the bag for sure, now.  I overheard Richard Campbell talking about how weird it was to have people following him into the bathroom.  I decided not to ask for autographs.

I have gotten to hear many of the well known speakers that I’ve read and/or listened to on Dot Net Rocks. It’s been pretty cool. The only thing missing? Rory Blyth. He’s left Microsoft and apparently technology in general. Bummer. But I still read his blog. He’s a fascinating guy with great taste in television. And I certainly can’t fault him for his minor obsession with Jolene Blalock and Gigi Edgly. I’d lick her too, man.  Rory, if you read this, two things:

1) Milla Jovovich

2) Kristanna Lokan

Take a drink, you're gonna need it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Reflections on DevConnections Part I – Booth Babes

I haven’t posted in a while, and there’s a reason for this. The last week of October was moving week. I signed my name so many times I’m now on the list of candidates for a bionic right arm. Move over Steve Austin. A fun side effect of moving is a complete lack of an Internet connection. Thank you Time Fucking Warner Cable. Who the fuck takes a week and a half to set up a cable/Internet connection? You guys were out in like two days when I signed up the first time. I guess that’s just for New customers. Fuckers.

The second thing occupying my time is that I went to DevConnections in Las Vegas that very weekend. Again, no fucking Internet connection. So I decided to write a few posts anyway and post them whenever I get back and Time Fucking Warner gets off their lazy asses and gives me back my connection I paying for. Fuckers.

There’s so much going on here I thought I’d break it up into a few posts on different topics that occur to me as I’m here, so here’s Reflections on DevConnections Part I: Booth Babes.

This is my first big convention, so booth babes are a new thing to me. They work, and they work well. My personal favorite is the Windows Mobile sales girls that were stationed by the escalators, especially the dark haired one. I didn’t catch their names, so I’ll call her Mary. Mary is an expert flirt. She engages you in conversation, looks you right in the eyes, and then moves just a little closer to you, just slightly closer than Casual Acquaintance Laws allow. That was so “I’m about to kiss you” distance. As a socially stunted geek my first impulse was to back away. I managed to suppress that so that I could enjoy the proximity just a little longer. Microsoft sooo has my contact information for sales purposes now. They’re good.

At some level I know that it’s all fantasy and there’s no attraction there (at least on her part), but I choose to ignore that at the conscious level. At least enough that I keep thinking about her but not so much that I engage in any activities that might be considered stalking.

Mary can’t possibly exist. She’s one of those women that are too perfect, too hot to actually exist. Nature just simply doesn’t allow it. Long flowing brown hair, beautiful face, perfect body, about 5’4” and slightly dark skin. She makes a business suit look good.

My second favorite was a shorter girl who worked at the Live Office booth. She got just a little too friendly on Monday evening after (I assume) she’d imbibed more than a vendor probably should have. I like friendly women.

Whoever thought up Booth Babes is a genius. It so works, especially at a convention populated by mostly software geeks. It’s always nice to be reminded of just how much I’m still controlled by my testosterone, and just how adept women are at manipulating that. Too bad it never works the other way around.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Ballad of Tao Cowboy and the Wasps of Fire

I'm not much of a country music fan, but it just works if you imagine it as an old Johnny Cash song.

Well Cowboy had a job to do
He had to pack a box or two
'Cause Cowboy was a-movin out of town

As he sat packin' up compilers
C# books and games of violence
A shriek resounded all throughout the house

Little Cowboy saw a thing
that made men shake and children scream
and women go a-runnin for cans of Raid

A Mighty Wasp had come to call
He must've come out through the wall
or maybe he came out the fireplace

Cowboy saw the little ones cryin'
The Wasp all bluster was a-flyin
Laying claim to all the Downstairs den.

He had no fear this Wasp of Fable
Crawling all along the table
He conquered Wookies, Troopers, and Jedi too.

Yes action figures stood no chance
against the mighty Wasp's advance
And Cowboy knew just what he had to do.

He sent the children fast away
and when they were all hidden safe
He shuddered in fear from head to toe.

He grabbed the can of Raid and then
and went to battle, face set grim
And waited for the bug to settle down.

But Zod the Wasp had other plans
He charged at Cowboy coming fast
And Cowboy, pale,  ran away in fright.

But Cowboy wasn't giving up
He came back after throwing up
His will as strong as ever for what that's worth.

The Mighty Wasp lay on the floor dying
Apparently he'd found some poison
Cowboy nodded at his fallen foe.

He aimed the can at Zod and then
he bravely pulled the trigger and
Zod died in a flood of Industrial Chemicals.

But Cowboy's fight was far from over,
Six more warriors in the foyer
Came to avenge their fallen friend.

Cowboy fought them one by one
And ran away more than once
but cowardice won the day with help from Raid.

Cowboy took a yellow trash bag then
soaked the fireplace till nothing could live
he grabbed his duct tape and sealed up the breach.

But more mighty warriors found their way
into Cowboy's sacred place
And so he patched the big hole in the roof.

Yes Cowboy's evil landlord, laughing,
cut a hole in the bathroom ceiling
Apparently a Wasp Nest in the wall.

So Yellow Bags taped all over the place
Cowboy plans to evacuate
And like Sir Robin, bravely ran away!

Into the sunset y'all.  Good night!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What do you do with old computer books?

Begrudgingly trolling through the garage this weekend I threw out a lot of crap.  It turns out I have something on the magnitude of a small forest's worth of old technical books buried in boxes, on shelves next to motor oil, and other more disturbing places.  Sorting through it all was an interesting experience.  I kept very few of them, mostly classics like Deitel's C++ book and books on algorithms, discrete math, logic, etc.  Gone are the accounting books, the myriad of "Teach yourself X in 24hours/14 days/etc." books I used to think were so useful, despite the fact that I never learned a think from them in the specified time frame, and a whole lotta game programming books.  That career path didn't pan out.

Faced with what to do with them I decided that throwing them away wasn't a good choice.  First of all it felt environmentally irresponsible to simply place that much recyclable paper into trash bags.  Secondly, my garbage men would be likely to put a hit out on me afterwards.

Lou: Hey Joe, you ever wonder what your life coulda been like? [toss bag]

Joe: Nah, what's the point?  Da way I figures, I'm here and that's what's important, ya know.  Like, make the most of what you got. [toss bag]

Lou: Yeah, but AAAARRRRRGGGGG!!!!!!!!

Joe: Lou! What happened?!?

Lou: God ****** ****** ******' bag weighs a ******* ton!  ****** ******!  What the **** they put in there?   I think my ******* back is ******* broke.  *** **** ****** ******* son of a *****!!!!

Joe: **** Lou, it's ******* full of ******* books!  What the ****?

Lou: I can't walk man!  I can't ******* walk!  It's getting dim.  I...I'm going, man.  Blackness... overtaking me!   My life... flashing before my eyes.... ah.....*

Joe: I will avenge you my brother!  The computer geek will pay with his very life's blood!  This I swear by the honor of my ancestors!

We do get a recycle bin that we put out.  We have the non-optional choice of paying extra for recycling service, which they gratefully take off our hands for us for a (somewhat) minimal charge.  I could swear you used to get paid for recycling.  Kudos to Deffenbaugh for finding a way to turn a tidy profit there.

Oh yeah... there's a used bookstore to the south.  Let's take them there and unload them.  Even if I don't get any money maybe they can recycle them and I'll be given the right to feel morally responsible.  I get the feeling so rarely it seemed like a good idea.

The Wife: Let's call them first, wouldn't that be smarter than hauling all those books out there?

Well, maybe, but as I look at the pile of books that can only be described as an "Assload," I'm not relishing the idea of reading all the ISBN numbers over the phone to the clerk who keeps telling me, "Why don't you just go ahead and bring them in so we can review them?  [Jesus!  I'm five minutes overdue for my smoke break!]

Woohoo, I won an argument!

Fast forward and I've now got an assload of books on the counter of the used bookstore.  They take a stack of about six or so and offer me $7.  The assload-6 pile next to it they offer to recycle for me, free of charge.  Were I more entrepreneurial I might have argued a bit with this, but I was just happy to get rid of them in anything resembling a responsible manor.  I took the $7 and blew it on beer at the bar with the cute waitress with the tattoo.  I love tattoos, especially her's.  I'd love the opportunity to study that up close....

What, where was I?  Selling books, right.  So I notice that my rather-expensive-at-the-time Java books are in separate piles.  Volume II in the we're-buying-it stack and Volume I in the recycle stack. 

They're a set.  Hello?  Trying to be helpful I point this out to the lady behind the counter. 

Lady behind the counter: Well we had our computer guy go over them.

Me: I'm sure you did, but they're a set.  Somebody wanting to learn Java won't necessarily want to start with Volume II.

Of course, somebody wanting to learn Java should buy newer books anyway.

Lady behind the counter: Well, it wouldn't have made any difference in the price.

I see now, she thought I was angling for an extra dollar or two.  Heh.  I politely explain that I was just trying to make sure they knew they were throwing the other half of the set away, but it's up to them since I don't need them anymore.  I wonder what they did...

Hmmmm..... Tattoo's.......

Oops, Oh yeah... right...... never mind.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

End the Electoral College!

There was a flaw in the Henry Rollins plan. The flaw is known as the Electoral College. The Electoral College creates an environment whereby voters can rest assured that their vote will not count if they don't vote for either a Republican or a Democrat. In some cases it assures voters that their vote won't count anyway. For instance, here in the great state of Kansas it really doesn't matter who I vote for, because Kansas will go Republican. It always goes republican no matter what. Candidates don't bother to campaign here because they either don't need to or there's no hope. If I vote Republican it does nothing to help the Republican candidate get elected, he get's Kansas's electoral votes with or without my vote. My vote has 0 effect. If I vote Democrat, then my vote will be worthless when Kansas casts all of it's electoral votes for the Republican candidate. Third Party candidate? Slightly less than a snowball's chance in Hell.

Third party candidates cannot ever hope to be elected president while this antiquated system is in place. Ralph Nader can do no more than make a statement every four years. While the Electoral College remains in place, he can never be president. Who would vote for him? A scattered minority might cast a vote as a political statement, but the vast majority of voters who might otherwise vote for him will not, because it's the equivalent of throwing away their vote.

No serious change to our political system can occur while the Electoral College is in place. It's very existence ensures the continuation of the two party system because of the psychological influence it has on how people vote.

Finally I have some backing for my views. A friend of mine sent this article calling for the end of the Electoral College. This is an educated writer, bringing to light the reasons for it's creation, and why it is no longer relevant in current society. Read this then write your congressman and call for a bill to end the Electoral College and go to a common vote for the presidential office.

It's the 21st century now people! Time for a change!

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's Fall. That means it's crazy time again.

This post has been deleted due to the fact that I've gone


Check this out.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Last time I talked to God he put me on hold.

My aunt had a stroke today, and will probably never recover.  Death is hard to deal with, and I've dealt with death more than I really should have had to, but something like this is so much worse.  I watched this same thing happen to my grandmother, and it was brutal.  She was there, but she was trapped in a shell of a body she could no longer control.  It must be what being buried alive feels like, except for the asphyxiation part. 

I'm not a religious person.  I had a falling out with Christianity after the whole cult ordeal, but I'm not atheist either.  I believe that in an infinitely complex universe there are powers and probably consciousnesses existing on a higher order plane than what our simple monkey minds can comprehend.  I've been rather fascinated with Taoism in recent years, and if I had to label myself as one "religion" or another, it would be that.  Taoism isn't really a religion in the western sense though, and that's part of why I like it. 

It's very comforting to believe that somehow those we love will continue to exist in some form or another after they die.  I hope it's true.  With my luck the Catholics will turn out to be right and the rest of us will burn in Hell like the Heathen Bastards we are.

Honestly, I don't know why I pick on the Catholics so much, they never did anything to me.  However the cult doesn't exist anymore, so it's kind of hard to find relevant jokes about them these days.  And the Pope bears a strong resemblance to Darth Sidious, which is just damn creepy.

I'm finally a grown up!

I'm buying a house.  Holy crap!  As I near what is probably the mid point of the working portion of my life, I'm finally getting out of the renting game and buying a house. 

These things occur to me now:

1. I have a mortgage now.

2. It's a freakin' huge ass mortgage. 

3. It's big, I mean big.  It's the biggest debt I've ever had, and that includes my Mastercard.

4. It's going to consume the next 30 years of my life.

5. I have to pay for crap that breaks now.

6. I have a big ass mortgage.

7. Oil spots in the driveway suddenly really piss me off.

8. Big ass mortgage.

You get the idea.  Aside from having children, this is the single most permanent thing I've ever done.  I'm feeling just a little stress now, however I just remind myself of a couple of things and it helps.

1. My landlord is an evil rat bastard.

2. I have to fix everything myself now anyway, because the rat-bastard won't do it.

3. At least some of that huge ass mortgage becomes what's known as equity, which is a fancy way of saying I get to keep a little of it, sort of.  Rent doesn't do that.  It all goes to the rat-bastard's pocket.  Actually it goes to his Mustang payment.  Dammit, I want a Mustang.

4. This place sucks.  The house is big, has a whirlpool, and my own office.  Woohoo!

5. I have beer.

That sortof helps me push the oh-crap-what-have-I-done feeling down to that little grotto just below my stomach where it can fester until something bad happens then come back in a rage and yell "I TOLD YOU SO, BUT DID YOU LISTEN?  NOOOOO! HAD TO GO AND GET YOURSELF BURIED SO FAR IN DEBT THEY'LL NEED A STEAMSHOVEL TO GET YOU OUT."  Or something like that.  This helps too.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Bow to the Cool Nerd King, you lousy peasants!

 Three posts in one night, I must be bored.  I ran across this and and to try it out.  Kinda funny I only scored 82 on Technology/Computer.  Doesn't that damn test know what I do for a living?  I'm a professional geek, dammit.   Apparently the "do you know your geek sci-fi crap" score was dead on. says I'm a Cool Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

I'm objectionable!

This is kindof funny. I know there's no regular readers here, so only I could do this to myself. I'm looking over some older posts with my PDA and I see a link up top that said "objectionable.con" with an expansion "+" graphic next to it. I click it to see what expands out, and apparently I marked my own blog as having objectionable content. I'm not sure how to un-mark it, but it is kindof objectionable I suppose. I think I'll leave it. My own opinions sortof offend me. Bwahaha!


Restored comments:

Chris Hawkins said

As of today the thing about the no regular readers is no longer true.

Thank you for your time.

Geeks are easy

If you're an insanely hot woman and you have a good friend who's a total geek but a nice guy all the same and he's generally a pretty good friend, here's a piece of advice: Don't give him a kiss, ever.  You can guess where this is going, I'm sure.  Intellectually I know I was just being a good friend and helping out, and I know that it was friendly and meant nothing, but let's be honest:  that's the best action I've had in years. 

Okay okay, hold on: it was a cheek kiss, don't freak out.  It was completely friendly and harmless, but that didn't stop me from dwelling on it for the rest of the day.  I'm pathetic like that.

You have to understand, geeks are a special breed.  We're lonely and not really built for it.  We're also all horny as hell.  And we're easy.  Let's say you're a reasonably attractive woman and are looking for a date.  Find yourself a geek.  There's not a geek out there who's single that will turn you down.  Even the married/dating ones will have a hard time saying no.  Geeks dwell on that sort of stuff because we were all repressed in high school.  We didn't get the kind of action the football players were getting, or really any at all.  And while our IQ might have dwarfed the average football player's, that didn't exactly help us score with the chicks. 

Geek: "Hi, I'm George."

Hot Chick: "What the hell?  Where did that come from?"

Geek: "Did you know that time is relative to your velocity?  Like if you traveled at light speed around the galaxy then came back everybody would be old but you'd still be young?  snort snort!"

Hot Chick: "Oh my god, it's speaking to me.  I'm gonna squish it with my high heels.  Ew!"

Geek: "Would you like to go to the homecoming dance with me?"

Hot Chick: "Sure... in fact, why don't you go under the bleachers over there, take off all your clothes and wait for me.  You won't be sorry (wink)".

Geek: "snort.  Oh oh oh oh, okay. "  [runs off to the bleachers]

Hot Chick [to Hot Chick's mediocre friend]: "Get the football team to the bleachers, now.  And bring a video camera."

This kind of repression carries with us into adulthood.  Do you really think the former High School football players came up with this?

No, they're selling ladies shoes at the mall.  Or even worse, politicians.  This was made by geeks with a lot of spare time.  Geeks invented the Internet (no, it wasn't Al Gore) because, well, we were smart and weren't wasting all of that time dating Hot Chicks.  I mean, if geeks were hot there wouldn't even be an Internet, would there? 

Anyway, there's nothing to worry about.  I've never cheated on my wife.  Being a geek my fidelity doesn't exactly get tested much, though.  Still, I had to blog about it because it was on my mind. 

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Change the world Plan A has failed

The post-my-insane-yet-brilliant-idea-to-Digg-and-watch-it-take-on-a-life-of-it's-own plan doesn't seem to have worked.  Honestly, I didn't really think it would, but I had to try, ya know?

"Henry Rollins for President" has 4 Diggs as of this moment.  In fairness I'm a bit new to this whole Digg thing, and I'm sure people saw a new profile posting a link to what looked like his own blog.  Probably looked a little fishy.  But give me a few points for passion.  I need a plan B.  I still would like to see a "Henry Rollins for President" movement, but I still don't know how to get it started.  O muse of Creativity, be with me now.  And be hot.  And promiscuous.  Wait, what was I talking about?

Right, shake up the establishment with new ideas.  Check.  I suppose four Diggs isn't bad for my first time out (however one of them was from me, so I guess it's only three).  Maybe the venue was wrong.  Maybe Digg isn't the way to go.  I'm making this up as I go but Henry's got to have a large fan base out there.  Maybe I just need to get the idea out there.  I'll think this over for a bit.

Oh, and if happen to be one of the three people who read this, leave a comment on how you think I might up the Digg score for Henry.  And if you're a hot, promiscuous Muse Of Creativity leave a phone number too.  We need to talk.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Henry Rollins for President

That's right, I've made my choice for the 2008 election. He's perfect. He loves this country, and he has a no-bullshit attitude towards everything. And the fact that he's not actually running is like icing on the cake.

First I should probably explain my views on political candidates. Anybody (and I mean anybody) who runs for political office is not the sort of person we need in office. It's a time old paradox with no solution, except one. Draft politicians. That's right, throw out all the good ole' boys and institute a draft, getting normal everyday people to serve as the leaders of our country. It's not without flaws, I don't want to see Jim Bob Redneck serving as president any more than you do, but could it be any worse? I think he's already there.

It's not "Power Corrupts" but rather "Power attracts the Corruptible". In order to have honest politicians, we must have politicians who don't want to be politicians. In my life I've been a Democrat, a Republican, and I've finally arrived at the conclusion that they both disgust me. The two party system has to go, but the one thing holding it in place is the Electoral College. This antiquated system ensures that nobody will vote outside the two major parties. Ralph Nader doesn't stand a chance while this system is in place, and neither does anybody else. It served a purpose once, but it's no longer needed. The popular vote should decide now.

Since Henry Rollins is not running it proves that he's a good candidate, according to my theory. Not only that but the more you learn about this man the more you realize that he's more patriotic and loves this country more than the vast majority of us. He also sees things from a humanistic compassionate point of view. The fact that he's a punk rocker doesn't hurt either in my opionion. Now comes the hard part.

I've got roughly fourteen months to convince 51% of the country that he's the right choice for our next president. Where to start....

Digg would be a good place to start. I'll have to Digg my own post and hope that it catches on. I don't have the time or the energy to run a campaign for a candidate who isn't running, I have to hope that the grassroots movement catches wind of this and propels him to the White House. One can dream, eh? If you see this post and you agree with my assessment, help out and pass the word. It may be our way out from the long succession of bad choices we've had for the past several decades.


Restored comments:

henry rollins is an idiot like you said:

Christ, you're a fucking idiot

Nanette said:

I said this weeks ago - if I had to put together a perfect candidate, it would be Rollins. I am writing him in

The Cowboy said

Hey nanette, thanks for the comment. Unfortunately people don't seem to take me seriously when I say he should be president, nor did I really expect them to. I most likely will write him in as well, for what that's worth. I understand older people not wishing to vote outside of the established Washington norm, I'm surprised there's not more support for alternative candidates among the younger crowd though. What great change has come about without controversial actions? Voting a former punk-rocker in for president might be controversial, but I'd rather see Henry in the Oval Office than any "standard" candidate currently running. There's an unwritten rule that you have to vote Democrat or Republican, and you have to vote for those party's chosen candidates. I think that's bullcrap, and it's time we elected somebody outside the system. At any rate, thanks for posting something other than "Christ, you're a fucking idiot" :D

Anonymous said:

I went on-line tonight to see if anyone felt the same way I do. LOL

When was the last time the majority of Americans felt good about a candidate? Need a hint...look at how many people don't vote. Personally, I've always felt like I was stuck trying to decide between the lesser of two evils.

Sure, Rollins has done things in the past that the "moral majority" find distasteful or feel threatened by, but at least he won't be denying it or trotting out feeble defenses. An articulate and knowledgeable man, he certainly seems to be more conscious of the difference between right and wrong than the all of the present candidates combined.

I can't think of a person I'd rather see in the white house...and that's coming from a 40-something military veteran. Write in Rollins!!!

The Cowboy said

Hey Mr. Anonymous, that's awesome. I'm guessing Desert Storm based on age? I had several friends there.

"I've always felt like I was stuck trying to decide between the lesser of two evils." I think a lot of people feel like that. Personally it's been a long time since I voted for a candidate, rather than against one.

"An articulate and knowledgeable man, he certainly seems to be more conscious of the difference between right and wrong than the all of the present candidates combined."

I'm not so sure the candidates really have that much trouble telling right from wrong. If you look at the background of politicians, you'll find a lot of them started as lawyers. Lawyers, as part of their job, can cognitively disassociate themselves from their ability to judge right and wrong and recategorize things into "neccesary" and "unneccesary". Rollins, on the other hand calls things as he sees them. Politicians are experts at double talk, or the ability to answer a question without actually answering the question. Try it sometime. Watch a debate, and listed closely to the answer they give while judging the answer againt the criteria "did they actually answer the question?" You have to keep the original question in mind while evaluating their answer. Don't get caught up in whether or not you agree with what they're saying, just simply say "did they answer the question." The answer is almost overwhelmingly "no". I can see Henry Rollins as the kind of guy who can get up in front of a group of people and give you the answer, good or bad. This is often political suicide, but I would love to see it all the same. I don't trust any of the candidates. Henry Rollins is someone I think I could trust to be honest with us.

I find it funny that this post is finally gathering a little attention now. It went pretty much unnoticed when I wrote it, but now the debates are heating up, and I think that more people disgusted with the establishment are coming out of the woodwork. Maybe there's still hope.

I at least intend to write in Henry in the next election, whether it's a futile gesture or not.

Kenny Bales said:

I say Greg Graffin for Pres w/Rollins as VP. Been pushing that ticket for years. Reason Hank wouldn't be a good President, IMO, is I think he lacks a certain amount of restraint that is necessary for successful diplomacy. I've met the guy. I thnk he's a Legend. But Graffin would do well as a strong silent type, which would keep our enemys guessing...and we'll always have enemys, no matter what.

Nanette said:

Hey its Nanette again - and btw I am 45 and my 16 yo daughter is a huge Rollins fan, of her own doing, not much influence on my part, really! We just got tix to see Henry in Tampa on 9/22 - 2nd row, and my daughter is already working on making a tshirt to wear - HENRY 4 PREZ! yeah!

Nanette said:

sorry i had date wrong. its 9/29. 2nd row too - I wonder if Henry will see her T?

My Daily WTF

Surfing Digg I found this today.

Narrow minded people amuse me.  I love the part about freedom of religion meaning you have the freedom to choose the denomination of Christianity you wish to follow.  Non-Christians need not apply.  Separation of church and state in action.  Well, I guess I'll be moving to Canada, eh?

Customer Service, where art thou?

I actually got a comment on a post!  That means somebody is actually reading this stuff.  That's awesome.   Thanks, Darth Nepharia.  Your blog is very interesting.  I can appreciate it being a complete Star Wars geek.  I won't embarrass myself by going over how many times I've actually watched the movies or citing how many Star Wars books I own.  And yes, Geeks Rule.

Whatever happened to customer service?  I watched Back To The Future again a couple of weeks ago.  One of the most interesting scenes in the movie is when Marty first goes back to 1955 and is wandering the town square.  Everything is alien to him.  Being around that same age when the movie came out (1985, since I've already dated myself) it seemed alien to me too.  One of the most striking images was the staff running out at the gas station to check the tires, wash the windshields, etc.  Full Service gas stations were rare when I was a kid, they don't exist now.  We don't even call it Self-Service anymore.  That's just the way it is.  Go to your local Taco Bell and the disgruntled teenager at the window is likely to see if they can complete the sale without actually speaking to you.  We don't even find it odd anymore when they lean out the window and just hold their hand out like a beggar asking for spare change.  No, even that's not a good comparison.  The beggars I've met actually spoke to me.  Then again, even the beggars seem to be fairly half-assed about it: re-using the same lines like a cheap hooker, not even bothering to try to dress the part.  One Christmas I was accosted by a beggar wearing what must have been a $100 Packers jacket, asking for spare change.  Come on, at least try to look like you really are poor, and not just faking it. 

I recently had to reformat my hard drive.  I did better this time, saving everything to an external hard drive and not trying to filter what was important first.  Even so I still failed.  I purchased Pocket Quicken for my Palm Pilot when I still had one.  When I upgraded to a Windows PDA, I contacted Landware for an upgrade code and they graciously gave me one.  After the reformat, my desktop side software was gone, but the PDA software was still there and still legally licensed, so I went to their site to get the desktop connection software again.  This was mistake #1.  The install removed the licensed software from my PDA and re-installed it IN DEMO MODE.  I now have about 23 days left on my trial version of software that I have a license for.  Cute, eh?  I couldn't find the code I received before, so I contacted Landware again.  They sent me a terse little note saying "You purchased the Palm version, buy the upgrade butthead!"  Okay, paraphrased and embellished but essentially the same message.  So I sent back "Thanks, but you've already given me the Windows Mobile code before, I just want that same code again."  So they graciously sent me the Palm code again.  No message, just a repeat of my registration from years ago.  I can see the CSRs chuckling as they put this message together: "Dumb ass, trying to make us do work or something!"  This piss poor attitude towards customer service has turned me off to Landware permanently.  Intuit too, just for good measure.  They did partner with the assholes.  How long would it have taken to look it up and see if I was telling the truth?  How long did it take to piss off a long time customer?  How many customers did they lose?  More than one!  Me, everybody I tell this too, and hopefully whoever reads this blog.  So we're up to like three or so.  Whatever.  Don't buy from Intuit or Landware.

This is on the heels of my fiasco with the cable company.  We had one cable box and one DVR.  We traded the cable box in for another DVR a while back.  I'm taking a close look at the bill a few days ago, and notice I'm being charged for three boxes.  So I call them.  The lady wants to argue with me and keeps repeating "one is for the receiver and one is for the DVR", to which I keep saying "No I can see the two DVR charges, below there's three receiver charges.  I don't have three receivers!"  Finally after a while of this I give up and move on to other issues I'm calling about.  Mid sentence, she states "They are actually charging you for three boxes, sir".  No really?  I never would've known if you hadn't told me because I'm obviously too freaking STUPID TO READ THE GODDAMNED BILL!  If only somebody had tried to bring that to your attention LIKE FREAKIN ME!!!  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that she actually looked at the bill and realized something was wrong, but why didn't she do that when I was telling her point blank something was wrong with the bill?  At least they took it off.  With three year old crying in the background I didn't press the issue that they'd been charging me that for nearly a year, but it's noteworthy that she didn't offer.  What a jaded society we've become...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Today's Moment

My three year old son refuses to go to bed under a blanket.  It all seems well and good until the middle of the night when he's in there freezing.  Or he was tonight anyway, fall is starting to set in.  I looked in on him tonight, grabbed the blanket he refuses to use when he's awake, and covered him with it.  Then he did the most amazing thing, he smiled.  In his sleep, he smiled, then snuggled the blanket.  That was my moment today.  Not every day has one, in fact most don't.  Musicians know what I'm talking about. I had my first moment when I was 16. 

I was playing Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet at an arts camp in Oklahoma. This was an intense arts camp, we put on four concerts in two weeks.  Everybody there was an incredible musician, and the conductors where among the best there were.  I remember one, Akiro Endo.  He had the most amazing memory I've ever seen.  He never once used a score, having memorized it.  He could tell the brass to start at measure 247 to rehearse a section that hadn't gone well.  The first words he ever said to me were my name.  He had memorized the seating chart and knew who I was having never spoken to me before.  He wasn't the conductor for the Prokofiev, honestly I don't remember who was, but it's not important.  At the end of that performance was my moment.  It's hard to explain if you've never had one, but imagine an orgasm without sex, but it involves your entire body and your complete consciousness.  You're never quite the same afterwards.  I remember being just a little disoriented at the end of the piece, not entirely sure where I was and how I got there. 

If you don't play an instrument I highly recommend learning to play something.  Anything.  You may never have a moment, but then again you might.  Like with anything else, some people can and some can't.  Some can't and don't know it, but you'll never know if you don't try. 

On a completely unrelated topic I've been getting the urge to write again.  I used to write all the time when I was a kid.  Much like George McFly I never really shared very many of my stories, but the few I did were well received... generally.  I remember writing a story in the fifth grade that my teachers like so much they wanted to enter it into some district competition, but needed me to tone down the gore just a bit.  I was an odd child.  If a child wrote a story like that today they'd be more likely to be institutionalized than praised.  That's why we'll probably never see another Edgar Allan Poe.  We're all so afraid of everything these days. 

I abandoned the rock opera I started last year when the writing muse left me.  Probably just as well, it would have gotten me institutionalized as well.  I'm thinking of trying something new, publishing the story as I write it via a blog.  Create another blog and use it to publish the story.  Instant feedback, that is, assuming anybody actually reads it.  The idea is to face my fear of others actually reading my work.  Most music I've written as well as most stories I've written have never been performed or read by anybody but me.  The few times they have been they've always gone over well.  You'd think that would help me get over my fear, but it must run pretty deep.  Honestly the only reason I can write here is the fact that I'm 90% sure nobody reads it but me, but being on the Internet there's always the chance somebody might.  It's a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Geek for sale

My favorite Dilbert of all time!

So my birthday is coming up.  I tell my wife what I really want is a widescreen flat panel monitor for watching movies on the computer.  Context: I have two flat panels already.  She says "Are you crazy?  What are we going to do with the extra monitor?"  Completely serious I reply "Extra monitor?" 

I'm a geek.  I admit that about myself.  I'm not the alpha geek, but I'm pretty up there.  I could tell you just about anything about Star Wars, most things about Star Trek, and a good deal about the Matrix.  I write code all day, then I come home and stay up late doing my favorite hobby, writing code. 

My problem is I get involved with my job.  I care, it's a failing.  The sad truth is most software created today is done under completely inept management who are convinced they know more about software development then the developers they're paying so much for.  Hello, McFly!!  There's a REASON you pay us so much.  We know what we're doing and could do it so much better if you'd just get out of the damn way!  Well, a lot of us do, anyway.  There's a lot of idiot coders out there too.  I've worked with several.  I've spent more than my fair share of time cleaning up the crap code they left behind. 

I'm looking for another job.  If you know anybody that wants to pay somebody a ridiculous amount of money for writing code let me know.

I'm gonna go stream a Dr. Who off Netflix while cranking out some more code I won't get paid for.  How's that for geek?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Go ta Hell ya Heathen!

Once again, the Catholic church has decided that all non-Catholics are Heathen Bastards and going straight to Hell.  Right now.  Do not pass Go.

The cult drilled into me for a solid year all the reasons all the Catholics were Heathen Bastards and going to Hell.  Actually all non-members-of-this-particular-cult where Heathen Bastards and going straight to Hell.  sigh.

I'm sure with about five minutes of time to waste and a browser pointed to Google I could find ten other religious organizations making the same claim.  Let's apply a little Computer Science to this.

A=Catholics (e.g. Not Going To Hell)

so !A=non-Catholics (e.g. Heathen Bastards)

B=Some other church (e.g. Not Going To Hell), like oh say, the ICOC.  Plenty to choose from but we'll take one I know.

so !B=All the other Heathen Bastards.

Given that A and B are mutually exclusive A intersect B = null (as in nobody).  That's right, we need go no further than two churches to prove that we're ALL Heathen Bastards and going to Hell.  Thoughts like that keep me warm at night. 

Don't these people ever get tired of condemning the rest of humanity to hell?  Go buy a John Lennon album already!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dude, where's my enlightenment?

I'm convinced I've been doing this all wrong, so at 1:00 in the morning I decide to sit down, delete my old blog, and start a new blog nobody will read either. That's okay, this is just a place for me to rant anyway.

Previously the intent of my blog was to chronicle my search for enlightenment through my studies of various religious texts. Screw that. From now on I'm searching for enlightenment through mass alchohol consumption.

I just finished my fourth performance of The Mikado, so as I'm leaving, feeling thouroughly artistic from the performance, I'm harshly brought back to reality by the idiocy of the average Johnson Countyite. Okay, here's a joke. How many stupid Johnson County drivers does it take to make it take 35 minutes to get out of downtown? Four! Yeah, I didn't think it was that funny either. One driver to decide that the middle of the freaking road is a loading zone for his family, and at least three to decide that the middle lane is now a turn lane because, well gosh darnit, they just want it to be.

A little background for those unfamiliar with Kansas City: We've got this little cesspool of narcissistic hedonists called Johnson County, and I live right in the middle of it. It's a relatively rich area for Kansas filled with people who all belive they are the single most important person on the planet, and act accordingly in every aspect of their lives, including how they drive. Most would probably get themselves shot employing those tactics on a East or West Coast highway, but here in the good 'ole Mid-West we tolerate them with a patronizing smile and a wave of the central finger.

Enough about those assholes, I've had a week of hell. There's some twenty four hour stomach flu type thing going around and it just systematically made it's way through my whole family. Now at the end of the week everybody's finally over it, and I'm trying to get the house back in order between performances and work since it looks like the bikers from Weird Science dropped acid and had a four day binger in my living room. Serously, I've never seen it this bad. So at the end of the day all I really want is a beer, because it's been a freakin' hard ass week. Here's stupid Kansas laws for you. It's 11:01 PM, you've just battled your way past all the morons from Johnson County who are confounded by downtown traffic and made it back to your neighborhood, and all you want is to pick up a beer, go home, crack that puppy open, down it and go to bed. No such luck, bucko. The liquor stores close at 11, but the bars are open till 2 in the morning. Who made up this law? Apparently, if you want a beer at 11:01, you've got to find yourself a designated driver or risk the whole DUI thing. And they wonder why people drink and drive! Stupid ass bible belt thinking! I swear, I hate this state some days. All I want is a beer, and I want to drink it in the comfort of my own home so I don't have to arrange for transportation afterwards, I can just go to bed. Screw it. Just went home. Do other states have stupid liquor laws like that, or is it just the bible happy mid freakin west? At least they did away with the no-Sunday sales idiocy, so I can pick up a beer tomorrow.