Damn. Damn damn. At least these guys and Salon are still up and running. And, this is really funny. Like anybody should be surprised? The funny thing is that they quote the capital management guy as saying that they won’t go after anybody who has a $1,000 laptop because it costs too much in legal fees. Enjoy the equipment, guys!

I have scientifically determined this morning that any 24-32 year old male driving a late-model black Honda Prelude is a jerk. And should have his license revoked. And my nose is running nonstop this morning. Blah.

Another note on the Blackhawk Down thread from yesterday- I was not aware that there was a movie being produced on the subject. Ridley Scott is directing, which means at least it will look good. They’re saying March 2002 for a release date- we’ll see how recent events shape that decision.

I downloaded the Real player yesterday to see some of the video that the Philly Enquirer had made available for the Blackhawk story. Let me just say that I’ve never had to deal with a more intrusive, annoying and deliberately misleading install sequence just to use a media player in my life. I wish I had counted the number of screens I had to go through to simply install the player, or the number of hidden checkboxes I had to hunt down and find just so that I could avoid hidden “channels” and “subscriptions” for “alerts” that I don’t want and don’t need. What are they thinking? Don’t they realize that after they bombard their unknowing users with daily email updates about Britney Spears’ hair color that they’re going to alienate and ultimately drive away their users? This wouldn’t be so bad if the software actually worked, but when I played the video, it loaded, buffered, and ran, and 1/2 to 3/4 of the video was obscured by artifacts or just plain dropped out. Why don’t people just use Quicktime? Plus, 3/4 of the application acreage was taken up by all manner of stupid banners, flashing geegaws or useless text that I don’t want to see.

Date posted: September 27, 2001 | Filed under geek, humor | Leave a Comment »

I went out for beers and some dinner with Jeff C. last night after work; I’ve been putting him off for about 2 months now, and he had a really rotten day, so i thought I’d try to help a little bit. We hit the Stil, which is an Irish brewpub up in Hunt Valley, and had about 4 rounds with dinner- i was feeling fine. Jeff and I got into a discussion about programming languages and learning C++, and the way he explained a lot of things really made sense to me. I want to learn programming now. I think if I come up with some kind of simple project and work on it nights over the winter, I can learn a lot from him and the other guys at work. I’m really excited about this.

As a consequence, nothing got done in the basement last night. Oh, well.

Hmm. What else is new? Here’s a funny clip taken from FuckedCompany.com about the new dress code at Sapient…

Required reading: The Philly Enquirer’s coverage, later turned into a book by Mark Bowden, called Blackhawk Down, about the helicopter raid in Somalia that went so very wrong.

Date posted: September 26, 2001 | Filed under books, friends | Leave a Comment »

I saw, on my way through Fell’s Point this morning, the Antique Man carrying a fully-suited mannequin in a silver fireproof suit across the street.

Ashcroft is busy attempting to take our civil liberties away. Hopefully, people will wake the fuck up and realize we are trading the things that make this country great to try and track down 15 guys. I’m all for doing what it takes to get the guys who are responsible for the WTC bombing, and possibly other attacks to come, but I don’t want the government reading my email, arresting me for encrypting my private material, tapping my phones, or randomly searching my car. here is an interesting download from the ACLU about privacy- I’m downloading it and putting it in the ol’ wallet.

I picked up the last of the supplies I can buy with this paycheck- a gallon of satin white, some rollers, caulk, wood for the inside of the closet, and wood to replace the one piece that pissed me off so bad this weekend. Tonight we install. And clean.

Date posted: September 25, 2001 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »

I saw a special on a bunch of officers and historians who returned to a Vietnam battleground in about 1993 on “20-20” or one of those other news-magazine shows. I bought the related book a few years back called We Were Soldiers Once, And Young, about the battle, called “LZ X-Ray”. In it was a platoon leader, a guy by the name of Rick Rescorla, who basically kept an entire platoon together and helped turn the tide of the battle, and who shows up on the cover of the book.

I heard on the radio today a sound clip of Robin Williams, who, during the all-star benefit this weekend, mentioned a security chief for Morgan Stanley by the name of Rick Rescorla, who worked on the 44th floor of Tower 2, and who, in the 1993 bombing, got all his people out of the building safely (and who got their attention by dropping his pants.) He didn’t make it out of Tower 2- they said he was last spotted on floor 77 or so, clearing the building. The Miami Herald claims that he was instrumental in getting about 4,700 Morgan Stanley employees out alive. I looked up his name on Google, found the “We Were Soldiers” website, and found that it was the same man.

It doesn’t seem like much, and probably pretty stupid, but I really felt that news- from the writing in the book, and the stories that were written about him, I kind of felt like I knew the guy, or at least had a connection to somebody in the building.

I didn’t get as much done in the basement as I’d hoped; some of the stuff I tried to accomplish didn’t work. The birch plywood I bought for the shelf is too small on each side- note to self: standardize on common measurements- 4′ and 8′ lengths of wood. Makes it easier and less wasteful. I started laying the kickplate along the walls, and some of it looks great- some of it looks like junk. The short piece in the corner by the closet is twisted and bowed, and is made worse by the bulge in the wall directly behind it. I have to pull it, mill a new piece and replace it. I went out and got some replacement wood, so all should be OK for now, but it’s just annoying. I also have to fix the blade guide on the table saw, which is pulling the wood out from the blade and widening the cut- pissing me off. I bought wood for the shelves on the walls, and framing wood for the closet, and will install that tonight or so. I also have a 10″ plank to be cut into two pieces for the window shelf- there’s nothing else I can do there. And then I need to stop and consider finances.

Here’s the best diagramatical map of the WTC disaster I’ve seen yet. This explains what I want to know about what’s been affected and what hasn’t- something the nightly news has been poor at doing.

Here also is a link to an interesting article in Business 2.0 about LEGOs and the Mindstorms programming kit they ship; I went from there to the LEGO site and cruised around during lunch today.

Date posted: September 24, 2001 | Filed under books | Leave a Comment »

Hmm. Lots of different things happenning last night and today. Bush gave his address last night to Congress; his words were tough but I still feel that the guy is a wooden puppethead. I wish there was something in his voice that betrayed some form of emotion about everything- he just sounds like he’s trying to read off the TelePrompTer and not screw up the big words. Congress, as expected, applauded after each inflection; I think they were just glad he didn’t mispronounce ‘outraged’ and ‘unilateral’, and clapped in relief. Tom Brokaw, currently walking around with his head up the ass of anybody who fought in dubya-dubya-two, had Stephen Ambrose on to provide commentary, and asked him if he didn’t think that Bush’s address recalled Roosevelt directly after Pearl Harbor. At first, Ambrose didn’t answer, and I secretly hoped Ambrose was thinking, “No, you ignorant twit, Roosevelt was actually a living breathing human being who had an original idea and was elected on merit; this cardboard McPresident gets spoon-fed his opinions like creamed corn every morning.” But it seemed that Ambrose couldn’t hear Brokaw due to faulty sound feed, and when Brokaw repeated the question, Ambrose agreed with him. Oh, well.

Wall Street is selling off stock like they just found out it causes cancer; what the hell are they freaking out about? Yeah, we’re going to war. Yeah, things are different. Yeah, the airlines are in trouble. But anybody who thinks that Boeing isn’t going to be cranking up the production on some kind of new airframe to deliver nasty-looking bombs is smoking crack. Anybody who thinks that the government isn’t going to help out the airlines is shooting heroin. Anybody who thinks that the tech sector isn’t going to bounce back to produce all manner of sneaky devices to kill, maim, snoop on or steal from enemies of the US, whoever they might be, has their head in a pile of blow like Tony Montana in Scarface

Date posted: September 21, 2001 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »

Hmm. Let’s start with Boring News About The Basement. I was able to construct the bookcase last night and install it in the wall; it looks real good and fits perfectly. I’m now reconsidering the decision to have it stick out from the plane of the wall by 1.5″ or so, but I’d really like to have it as deep as possible, and I think that I can frame it in in a satisfactory manner. I also mudded most of the little problem spots around the room that had only become apparent after painting, and put another square in place at the base of the staircase ceiling- the original had been off-square and looked crooked. I hand-painted the drywall in there and it looks GREAT. I’m really excited to finish-paint that whole stairway and install the lights- it’s going to look great. Tonight I’m going to pick up the louvered door for the closet and put in the framing around the doorway. I also have to reconfigure the back of the basement to move the stupid file cabinet out of the closet.

I’m nearing the end of Cryptonomicon, and it’s got me hooked again; there are passages and chapters that are really funny and incisive; the problem is that these chapters are outnumbered 10 to 1 by whole chapters that are plodding and irrelevant. I like Stephenson’s ability to spin a yarn, and I’m enjoying how all the characters are coming together over the generations, but Jeez, man. I’m going to check out Snow Crash after this and see if it’s a better read. Oh, and as a friend pointed out about this book: Alan Turing was gay. (this is ironic, sarcastic humor: this fact is mentioned about 400 billion times.)

Date posted: September 20, 2001 | Filed under entertainment, house | Leave a Comment »

We got nailed by Nimda yesterday- my machine got infected with it from our file server, and that explains the incredible strain on the Internet yesterday at 2PM or so.

The New Yorker did a great issue in response to the disaster; Art Speigelman created a haunting, eerie cover which at first glance looks totally black- only when you get it under a light do you see the twin towers about 1% darker than the rest of the cover. Inside, different writers offered thoughts and descriptions of the disaster; Hendrik Hertzberg wrote a fantastic, moving opener, and Susan Sontag wrote a blistering condemnation of American policy in foreign countries. There was also a great article on Mayor Rudy, who, in spite of all his faults and foibles, led his city out of the ashes this past week.

Last night, I lay in bed under clean cotton sheets after a hard night’s work reading my book; the cats wrestled on the floor at the foot of the bed, and a light, gentle breeze blew through the window. As I read, I became aware of a jet flying toward the house. Maybe I was just hyper-sensitive, maybe I was inflating the danger in my head. But it sounded way too low, and way too loud. I rose and looked out the window into a clear, crisp evening sky, and heard the engines echo off the houses around me, but couldn’t find the plane’s lights. I got back into bed as the sound faded, but it took a long time to get as comfortable as I had been before.

The gentleman in the next cube over, while being a very nice fellow, has been talking on the phone with a friend, and I can’t help but overhear. I like the guy fine, but his politics suck. If he makes another Clinton joke, picks on Chelsea, or makes a snide comment about ‘this tolerant society’, I’m going to get up and smack him with his keyboard. I may not have liked Clinton as much as the next Democrat, but god. Rush Limbaugh got rich writing crappy books bashing Slick Wille, G. Gordon Liddy made a half-assed radio career out of bitching about Clinton, and I have news for you guys: ALL THE JOKES ARE OLD. GET OVER IT. All your Republican heroes lie just as much as the Democrats, boink just as many interns and pages, and swindle just as much money. GROW UP.

Date posted: September 19, 2001 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

Another good night in the basement last night; I was able to get the floor in the basement vacuumed and painted battleship gray, while also managing to spill about 1 quart of white latex flat on the floor in the back half like a seizure victim. The endcaps to the ceiling tiles are caulked and awaiting finish paint; the area above the window is figured out and mudded (it sits more or less flush with the joist above) and the stairway ceiling is sanded and ready for priming. Tonight I have a list of supplies to pick up:

  • 1 gallon of Glidden Flat Latex White
  • 2 rollers for the walls
  • Wood for the shelves (list in bag)
  • More masonry anchors for the panel, closet pole hanger
  • lighted switches for all the lights
  • plumbing supplies for the washer (TBD)

A week ago today the planes started falling. A week ago today I sat in the same place I did this morning, bowl of cereal in hand, watching the events happen. In the past week, I have found a newfound and undying respect for firefighters, EMT and police personnel; A new reason to fear air travel (as if there weren’t already enough), a new, special kind of love for Peter Jennings, a rapidly enlarging hole in my stomach, and a Sam’s Club card to stave off the apocalypse with pallets of cat food and mineral water stocked in my basement. Oh, and a newfound hatred for the religious right. Speaking of, Falwell decided to apologize for his stupid-ass remarks. The guy doesn’t have enough brains to say something intelligent or enough balls to stand up for what he does say.

I also brought in my box of old comics today to go through and catalog; I’m going to get a list together at lunchtime. I am a nerd.

Ruby (the NT box running IIS here that Breakaway) got hacked again by the same 14-year-olds as a few months ago. What a headache for Dan, the IT guy here.

Date posted: September 18, 2001 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

This morning I woke up with both cats in the bed with me. Teller slept almost the whole night with me- that was what I needed this morning. The day broke clear and crisp; I didn’t have a splitting headache when I rose, and the house was cheery and bright. That was great.

Spoke to a urologist this morning; they ran a urine sample and found blood. I don’t know what that means, but I’m concerned. They’re scheduling two very medieval-sounding test for me to take sometime in the future, and then we’ll have more of an idea as to what’s going on in my lower urinary tract.

This weekend Jen and I did a bunch of shopping for her job at the Sam’s Club; we also bought a bunch of stuff for us, too. We stocked up on some frozen goods for the next few weeks- pierogies, chicken, and gnocci. I also found a Sharp 32″ TV for about $350, which (I thought) was a stellar price. Hopefully it’ll be there in another month or so when I have available cash to pick one up.

Sunday I woke late and got to work downstairs; I sanded my brains out again and got everything finished; by 3 in the afternoon I had all the walls covered with two coats of primer. It looks really good now that it’s not green and white and the floor isn’t covered in white dust. There are a few places to hit with some finish plaster to hide some stray paper and bumps, but overall we’re ready to start the painting. I’m going to block off some stuff and fire up the spraygun maybe tomorrow after I get some more latex flat. I also finished off the south side cieling areas where it meets the wall so the finish looks a lot better. Still need to figure out what to do with the flat cieling section directly in front of the window, but that shouldn’t be too hard. Let’s see- here’s a partial list:

  • vacuum the floor and cover with 2 coats of floor paint
  • buy the wood and construct the bookcase
  • buy the wood and set in the shelving
  • buy the door and wood and install on the closet
  • buy fittings for the washer, install, and move it to the back corner
  • measure and buy a large shelf for the tupperwares and set it up
  • get all that stuff out of the dining room!!!

This is one of the reasons I love Salon: They have had great coverage on several aspects of the NYC bombing.

I’m going to bring in a box I have in my basement full of old comics and Nate is going to help me sell them on Ebay. Maybe I can make some bucks off of that- it would be helpful. I also still need to venture to DC to get rid of $60 worth of Metro cards before they expire.

The contractor at the next desk over from me is stabbing his keyboard in a random and scattershot manner not unlike that of small-arms fire. Someday the Powers That Be will design a keyboard that actually benefits from a “quiet” action, instead of the goopy, mechanical sound most current keyboards emit. Until then, I get to deal with the annoyance of this guy angrily poking through the keyboard into the desk below. Time for headphones.

Date posted: September 17, 2001 | Filed under general, house | Leave a Comment »

Woke early this morning to the sound of thunder; I lay in bed and waited for the cats to join me. They stayed with me for a few hours and left- by that time it had passed. When day broke, it was overcast and gloomy, much like my mood.

Jen helpfully pointed out that what I should have said last night was:

I think you wanted to say: “a woman smarter than myself/me” instead of “smarter woman than I”. Writing it like you did implies two things: 1) that you are a woman and 2) that you are surprised that a woman could be smarter than you.

None of which are true. Just for the record.

Here’s another good reason that the Christian far-right should probably be sterilized for their own protection. People as ignorant as this should just not be allowed to procreate. I’m sorry. But then again, it was inevitable that somebody would do something stupid.

3:05 PM – More sanding last night; sanding my brains out. The sanding block I bought last week is dead, and my mud is gone, so I went out today and got more. This weekend will see the stairwell sanding getting finished, the stairs themselves being torn out and probably replaced, and some paint in this mutha by Sunday evening. Halleleujah. I also got a Sam’s Club membership yesterday through work, and we spent about 45 minutes wandering the caverns of that store staring at pallets of dog food, gallon bags of shrimp the size of my feet, and cheap electronics. They had a 15″ LCD monitor for about $375 there, and I’m sorely tempted….but not giving in. Somehow it all seems wrong to spend money on myself right now, economic paralysis or not. About the only thing I can rationalize is spending on the basement. And I think that’s just so I have something to occupy my mind.

Date posted: September 14, 2001 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »