Liloia.com Archives: November 2003
November 25, 2003
Tonight there were many activities in the Liloia house. Tara was cooking, we all did some cleaning, Trevor and I made some butter (pretty good too!), Lego's, coloring, running in our wheels, oh wait that was the hamster.
We are all very tired, and we are getting up early to get a move on the trip south. Trevor, the trooper is unwilling to admit that he is tired. I caught him in mid-nap as he insisted that he wasn't tired.
Make me some PIE!
I told that woman to get in the kitchen and make me some PIE.....and she did.
We are getting ready for our trip down to NJ for Thanksgiving. We are in charge of desserts and Tara made 2 pumpkin pies, 2 pumpkin cheescakes, and one "Fruits of the Forest" pie that includes apples, cranberries and currants. Mmmmm.
I turned on NBC a minute ago to catch one of my favorite shows in the world, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Much to my dismay I was assaulted with quite possibly the worst cover song ever. Shania Twain doing "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC. I will admit that I enjoy the juvenille riffs and redundant lyrics of AC/DC, but Shania made it sound like crap.
November 23, 2003
Last night we had a few friends over for some food, drink and conversation. It had been over a year since we had hosted a party. Last October we held a pumpkin cutting party, which people raved about for months, but we did not plan this year because our schedules were crazy.
Last Sunday I bit the bullet and just sent out a mass invitation to some work friends. Because it was short notice only three people came but we had a great time. Tara mixed drinks in the kitchen and once again proved that if the whole web programming thing doesn't work out, she can fall back on a solid career as a bartender!
Deirdre, Shelly and Paula we had a great time. Thanks for coming!
November 22, 2003
Carpal Tunnel for Dean
Like every liberal arts student in the continental United States, I have a degree in Political Science; however, I don't generally "do" politics. I watched presidential races with detached amusement until a few years ago when one candidate caught my interest and I'm still smarting from the prolonged chastising that we Nader supporters got for sabotaging Al Gore.
During the last presidential election, the electoral process became muddied and vague in my mind. I wanted Gore to win, but I was prepared to lose gracefully if the law was not on our side. To this day, I can't say with certainty which candidate rightfully won the election because of the flaws that were revealed in the election process. If the final outcome rests on the judgment of weary volunteers in a room holding paper ballots up to the light, then we haven't even begun to approach the degree of accuracy I expect for such an important decision.
It's like looking under the hood of your car to find eight jogging midgets powering your Ford. You frown, knowing that can't be the best way of getting from A to B, but you don't have the understanding necessary to conceive of the internal combustion engine, so you reluctantly let the midgets do their thing.
The jogging midgets nagged at me for the last few years especially when things like this started to happen but I had no idea how to become involved the electoral process, let alone change what I felt was wrong with it.
When I signed up for email updates from the Dean for America campaign, I have to admit I was motivated by my desire to find out what a certain politically active friend was so excited about. I didn't plan to do anything more than cast a vote on Election Day. But the DFA people have an uncanny knack for coaxing participation out of people by matching activities to a volunteer's comfort level. Even the most introverted supporter (that would be me) can find an enjoyable way to help out.
A few weeks ago, I walked into a Dean Meetup only to turn around and walk right back out again. I wasn't interested in joining a group of elderly strangers shouting over a coffee shop jazz quartet. I'm also not about to start canvassing. I wouldn't say I'm a "think on your feet" kind of person and ringing stranger's doorbells gives me goose bumps. But last week, I went to David Weinberger's Victory in Iowa event and wrote letters in his dining room for two hours. I got lost, arrived late, and killed the alignment on my car over one of those Brookline trolley tracks, but I considered the night a great success -- especially for weblogs.
Everyone whistles in awe at the effect that blogs have had for DFA, but I think a lot of people are paying lip service to something they sense is revolutionary, but don't completely understand. Even I didn't entirely experience the power that this medium has for cementing connections between people until last week.
I signed up for a Victory in Iowa event, but I never intended to actually attend it. I couldn't imagine standing on an unfamiliar porch asking to be let into who-knows-what scene in a stranger's living room. Foot Fetishists for Dean? But when I learned (via two weblogs) that the host was a certain blogger I read regularly, following crappy MapQuest into the city didn't seem quite so much like walking into certain death. David and his family turned out to be very well prepared and gracious to all of the Dean supporters scribbling furiously on every flat surface in their home.
I'm not that sure that Howard Dean is so radically different from the other candidates out there, but his campaign definitely is. For once I feel valued, intelligent and that I have a wealth of things to contribute to the campaign. None of which involve a $2000 a plate dinner party.
The midgets under the hood are still running, but at least I'm beginning to understand how to get them to run in my direction.
NaNoWriMo has helped me learn a couple of things about my writing process. (*Writing geek-out warning.* Turn away if the only thing you've written in the last year that qualifies as creative is your tax return.)
First, I'm not comfortable with any perspective besides first person. I have a hard time infusing personality into the narration of any third-person style it feels so distant and impersonal. But I'm working on it.
Second, I can't write while listening to Tenacious D, Adam Sandler or They Might Be Giants. See the thread? Antyhing that makes me laugh interrupts my train of thought. The best music to write to? Dashboard Confessional, Enya, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and Beck. The Who, Led Zeppelin and the soundtrack to Rent also stop me dead in my tracks because they make me laugh in a different, not-nice way. Out of the playlist, you three.
Third, the gods smiled on writers when Google was invented. I can't get to the library at three in the morning. Well, I can, but they don't generally like it when I press my face against the glass for seven hours and wait for them to open. Even if I could have 24-hour access to their books, I'm positive they wouldn't have had the information on quantum theory that I needed in a way that was easy to access.
Fourth, my best material seems to consistenly come after midnight. I think that's simply a consequence of needing a couple of hours to get into a groove, but look two posts down and tell me why I rarely get more than a few spare minutes to write. Which is why I was back here at the Word document at 7am after going to bed at 3. This is important to me, so I'm making the time, but don't even ask how many dishes are piled up in the sink or what day they're from.
November 21, 2003
Filling in the gaps
So this week, I took a class that combined Introductory and Advanced PHP Programming. I've played with PHP for projects at home and at work before, but my method of learning has always been trial and error based on what I was trying to create. On one hand, I knew some things about authentication, but almost nothing about arrays. I knew pieces of functions, but had never touched a regular expression. My swiss cheesy knowledge was slowing me down.
But Nat from Webucator did a superb job of filling in the holes in my skill set and teaching a group of students that ranged from director level to plain old vanilla researcher. I'm also impressed at how patiently he handled the incessantly chatty bunch that we monkeys can be.
Adam, this is very good news for you. I'll be there this weekend, fixing things for ya with my new mad skills.
November 20, 2003
Halley really nails some of the crappiness inherent in being a working parent.
I've been a parent for five years and working in an office for three. With childless co-workers on one side and at-home moms on the other, some days are a game you just can't win. You'll miss school pickup if you work late. Attending the class Halloween parade means using up one more vacation day. You know, the ones you have to save for sick kids. Hey working moms, did you know that other people use vacation days for... get this... VACATION?!
No matter how many cupcakes you bake, Halloween costumes you sew, and 5th birthday bashes you organize, there's always a failure waiting around the corner to smack you down again. Like the day I remembered Morgan's birthday party an hour after it was over. Or the day I forgot about a field trip and brought Trevor to school after the bus had departed. Or the day last month that the drive home took two hours instead of 45 minutes and I had to call an emergency contact to pick him up.
There's so much to do and remember and no easy way to keep track of it all. Even if you could, it's impossible to fit everything into the 24 short hours in the day.
One more thing that Halley mentions... a service which will care for your child in an emergency. Our employer offers one of those "benefits" as well. I tried to take them up on the "short-term, drop-in care" on a day when my regular caregiver was sick. It was a Hebrew school an hour from my office that was open from 10 to 12. Some backup plan.
Be glad FirstEnergy has no dinosaur DNA
If you're a fan of Michael Crichton novels, take a look at this New York Times report on the cascade of failures that caused the August blackout in North America. Failure to trim trees near power lines led to shutdowns, one company neglected to inform its neighbors of their downed lines, someone fixing a grid monitoring system left it off as he took a lunch break, etc. The chain of human errors reads like The Andromeda Strain.
November 19, 2003
...Humiliated Himself Last Night
My friend Adam and his roomate Dave P went out last night the the trivia night at Joe Sent Me. What follows is the story Adam told me this morning about their trip to Cambridge. I haven't stopped laughing yet.
So, Peterson and I go to the bar last night. The waitress is pretty hot, and very chatty with us.
So, at the end of the night, Peterson gets this idea to write his name and phone number on the coasters she gave us, to see if she'll call him up. He does it, and we leave.
Pulling up to the apartment, his phone starts ringing. It's her, and this is what I hear him say.
"Yeah, this is Dave."
"Okay... I'll be right there."
He turns to me and says. "We forgot to pay the bill."
November 17, 2003
I got scroll buttons like the day is long.
I got scroll buttons like the day is long.
My brother Paul just sent this to me on his phone. What I like best about this is that Eric Estrada, full on 1971 hairstyle and all is calling me names. You go!
We love Rockergirl...
Wait a minute...who the hell is rockergirl? When I took a look at our site today, I was a little shocked to see our Blogroll and the excessive list of links to Rockergirls blog. She may have a nauseatingly pink site, but that's no reason to link to her 100 times!
It seems that this problem is occuring for a lot of people, and is the result of an error on the part of Blogroll. I love that many people immediately assumed that this poor girl was responsible for this happening. Like she hacked all of our blogrolls to include only her site and not just once, but 20-50 times. If she was going to hack blogrolling.com wouldn't it make more sense to just have her site added to everyone's list once? That way everyone will see her on thier lists and start visiting her. The way it is now obviously calls attention to her and would immediately result in blogrolling.com nixing her hack.
Laura and Tim - I don't hold you responsible and I am sorry for all the morons out there who are attacking you. Good luck with the baby and the apartment.
Wouldn't it be ironic if as a result of this post I actually added them to my blogroll for real? :)
November 16, 2003
Remake a go-go
Dumb, white man who likes to garden (cut grass in the case of Forrest Gump) is faced with a significant change in his life that forces him out into the world. The overly simplified statements he makes are taken as philisophical genious, and he is thrust into the public eye as the result of society misunderstanding him. Multiple encounters with presedential characters only further emphasize the correlations. Peter Sellers does an excellent job playing dumb. :)
Dinner with Bogie
The Rat Pack Cafe doesn't look like much from the outside. One roadside sign announces it's location -- and that black and white sign is drowned out by a hundred other neon atrocities along Route 9 in Framingham. To get to the restaurant, you have to drive down an alleyway past the trendy, blue-lit Legal Seafoods and the dizzying strobe coming from the laser tag arcade next door. As soon as you enter, you notice how small, dark and eminently classy the place is. Supposedly there are Rat Pack pictures on the wall, but the candlelight made them hard to see. The dinner conversation was interesting enough that I rarely looked past our table anyway. I suppose it's a mark of a good restaurant that the atmosphere, decor and music are seamlessly integrated into your whole experience of the evening.
Our waitress was unusually bright and witty. She managed to engage in long attentive conversations with us while still maintaining an air of efficency and haste. She quickly admitted to knowing nothing about a wine one of us requested, and then solicited our opinion of it later "to pass along to other customers, since I don't drink whites."
I had a warm spinach salad strewn with bits of roasted nuts and topped with a marinated portobello mushroom. It was a good mix of flavors and the roasted nuts gave the whole thing a hint of smokiness. My entree was roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables. Everything was well-cooked and seasoned, the servings were also quite large -- I only finished about a third of my chicken.
Dave says, "I had a salad made of romaine hearts with anchovy slices and a ceasar parmesean dressing on top. The anchovies were not excessively fishy which is always nice. My entree was a slice of tenderloin with garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus and carrots. All of it was wonderful, except that I should have taken the waitress seriously when she said that the chef tends to undercook meat intentionally, so medium would have been better than the medium rare that I ordered. Nevertheless, it was still very good."
My one disappointment was that we had to leave so soon. Our agreement with the manager was that in exchange for fitting in our last-minute reservation, we promised to be gone by eight. Our waitress tactfully and apologetically reminded us that we were running short on time and regretted being unable to offer us coffee or dessert. It's just as well, since the entrees averaged $25 each and the bill, even when divided among three couples, was no small thing.
Six billion experts can't be wrong
There are several comments along these lines:
"I found your site becuase[sic] I did a google search for "how to eat a pomegranate" Thanks for the advice!"
Go Google and go Belle for becoming an authoritative source (not to mention explaining how to eat this monstrously intimidating fruit).
November 15, 2003
The Trevor Dictionary
If you try to speak to my son these days, here are some words you should know:
grumble (v.) - To crumple something up in a loose way
Usage: "Mom, Don't grumble up my picture of Grim and Mandy, I want it!"
twinzle (n.) - A small, hollow plastic stick similar to a coffee stirrer
Usage: The Lego Hogwart's Express comes with two twinzles, one of which Trevor chewed into oblivion when he was three.
wang (v.) - To throw in such a way that you're not actually throwing and therefore cannot be punished for throwing.
Usage: "I'm going to wang this at you!"
"If you throw it, you're going to sit in your room."
"But I'm not going to throw it, I'm going to wang it."
Beefy Betsy Playset
This site exists because when you're a 14-year-old girl looking for advice on dating, self-esteem and planning sleepovers you naturally turn to a 55-year old cattle rancher named Bud with hair sprouting from his ears.
Apparently the way to "keep it real" is to eat large hunks of charred animal flesh. As a reformed vegetarian, I have no beef with a meaty meal now and then. And I certainly have no bone to pick with ranchers trying to trying to inject a coolness factor in a pretty mundane edible. I'm just concerned that some naive tween will actually think that America's Beef Producers have something insightful to say on the subject of dating. "What do you think, Bud, do I try to kiss Josh or wait until my braces come off next month?"
November 14, 2003
I coulda cheated.
But I didn't.
The ultimate in National Novel Writing Month procrastination is sifting through a hundred word documents to count up the number of words in your "other" novel (55,318) as if to reassure yourself that not only is it possible to reach 50,000 words, but that you have actually done it before.
I'm still way behind, even after 2,000 words last night. I was planning on doing more tonight, but someone wants a ride home. Yeah, that's how it works with procrastination. You'll come up with any excuse not to open the chapter and start writing. Like "Gravity is interfering with the creative process tonight. I'll just wait and see if it clears up tomorrow."
Top ten things I learned from The Matrix:
10. Software architects are a cryptic and egotistical bearded bunch.
9. Stray DLLs will not only crash your software, they will hunt you down on the freeway in white dreadlocks.
8. If the bullets don't get you, the rebar will.
7. Last-minute workarounds are no substitute for a good antivirus program.
6. Neo is able to move faster than the software because the Matrix was built on Java.
5. We laughed when computers took up entire rooms -- in the future they'll be the size of cities.
4. Human beings are Plug and Play.
3. Even French software can't be trusted.
2. Parking spaces in Zion are as furiously guarded as those in Somerville.
1. The Matrix has needed to reboot six times. Clearly this is a Microsoft product.
November 13, 2003
I am never writing a draft for one of my entries in Word ever again. It turns everything into weird and special characters, I end up having to edit it three times or more. When I look at it in the Movable Type preview screen it looks fine, so then when it goes live all these little freaky thingees show up.
The post I made this morning also tracked back to someone elses site and now because I made edits to it a few times it is showing up as three seperate pings on his entry that I was referencing. The stinking thing is still messed up. Grrr.
"In England, post-operative patients used to be given Guinness, as were blood donors, because of its high iron content. This practice continues in Ireland."
Note to the American Red Cross:
The sticker, cookie and paper cup of oj just isn't going to cut it anymore.
I really wanted to write a post today (Wednesday), but things were as usual really busy at work so I didn’t get a chance. It occurred to me that it might be interesting to try to write (and complete) a post on the ride home, which I usually don’t do. I started my computer after we left Back Bay so I am a little behind schedule
Gregor got to it first. I am a little embarrassed that a guy I met on Tuesday night was able to post about an event that I went to last Wednesday. I joined up with some new acquaintances from the Boston People Connection and headed over to the Harvard Center for Astrophysics to attend their monthly viewing of a classic sci-fi movie. They analyze these films and there are discussions in the group about the good and bad science, politics and culture of the time and just the plain silliness of some of the things they contained.
This week was Earth vs. The Flying Saucers. If you like V, Mars Attacks or Independence Day, then watch this one. It is chock full of all the skeletal plot lines that these and many other alien/UFO movies have generated throughout the years. While the information in this movie made me laugh at almost every scene, I wonder if I will be chuckling at movies like Signs and other similar movies in 50 years...
This was a great event, I was surrounded by geeks of all ages, and felt very much at home. I tried during the day or two before to get anyone else to come with me, but I would only get as far as saying; “So I am headed over to the Harvard Center for Astrophysics tonight and…” before they would start to chuckle. After that, their “Cool-Meter” would go on and there was no chance of them joining me. This surprises me because I work...
at a Biotechnology company surrounded by scientists, lab technicians and researchers. I assumed that they would be giddy at the chance to see an original episode of Flash Gordon vs the Mud People of Mars and make any excuse to visit the campus of Harvard. I have tried to get people at work to join me in some geeky ventures in the past, that all varied in their level of nerdy-ness with less than stellar results. This always surprises me. What many of my friends don’t realize is that eventually I will stop asking them to come with me. Partly because I don’t need to keep putting myself out there for that kind of rejection, but also because I am getting a bit tired of the “pick on the nerd” routine. I embrace who I am and what I enjoy. I proudly accept the title of Geek, Nerd, Dweeb, Dork, whatever.
Generally this means that if a game of Trivial Pursuit comes along, people will beg me to be on their teams, or trivia night at a bar, or whatever. I also find people coming to me for verification of random facts...
...questions about their car insurance, student loans, legal issues, political events, etc, etc. Most of the time I just google whatever it is that they are curious about, read up on it and then provide the answers, it is really mostly just knowing where to go.
I can’t tell you how many resumes I get to edit and critique. My degree is in Plant Biology, and don’t put myself out there as the “resume guy”. On average over the last six months or so, I have at least one resume that I am editing if not more. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing it and helping my...
Dedham Corporate Center
...friends. Besides, they all seem to at least get called in for an interview when I work on their resumes and cover letters, so I must be doing something right!
The one area that I am getting a little tired of (and someone from outside the US, please let me know if this is the case there as well) is the constant degradation of people who are looking to better themselves. If you mention that you read, or that you like to study things outside of work, people will generally look at you like you have three heads...
...but if you tell them that you spent hours in front of the television, or that you drank yourself silly over the weekend, they almost beam with pride. It is a shame, this phenomenom seems to start with kids at a very young age and continue through our entire lives. Why, on the reality show “Average Joe”, a jock smashed an egg onto a “geeky” (I use the term lovingly) contestants head for no reason! Mind you, this guy was almost 30! When does it stop?
I think one way to improve the situation, and I have seen others do it, is to surround oneself primarily with people of similar intellect, or at least with others who are of the propensity not to fall into societal ridicule towards learning and intellect. Tara has done so quite a bit recently by joining some groups related to blogging and the web, and she seems quite happy with the results. Perhaps I will have to do the same
Well, my ride is almost at an end, so I should wrap up. If anyone wants to join Gregor and I for the next sci-fi screening, please shoot me an email. This next one is a classic and a must see for sci-fi fans, it is Plan 9 from Outer Space! Later.
November 12, 2003
The Most Effective Spam Filter: Me
The Cafe Scientifique on Spam was Monday night. Listening to a group of highly-charged anti-spam advocates toss around complex social, technical and legal spam solutions, made me wonder why we're throwing our best minds at a problem that essentially boils down to a Wal-Mart flyer.
Why is unsolicited email so troubling that we devote thousands of man-hours to its eradication and management? All this talk about configuring spam filters, debating the merits of Baysian filtering or charging people to send email. We're throwing too much money and talent at creating an artifical solution that isn't nearly as effective as the elegant tool that nature gave us -- a brain.
My brain will always be a better spam filter than a machine.
Every day I go to my mailbox -- the real one on my front porch -- and remove the mail. There's always a huge pile (because I'm a magazine junkie, but that's fodder for another post). The relevant stuff (bills, magazines, personal correspondence, birthday cards with cash) are all mixed in with the junk mail (flyers, coupons, credit card offers). If we approached our physical mailboxes
in the same way we approach our email inboxes, we would stand there every afternoon and grumble, "It takes too much time to filter the good from the bad. I get offended looking at these ads. I can't tell the two kinds of mail apart. Someone make a machine to do it for me!" Sheesh, somebody call the wah-mbulance.
In less than a second, you make the call between relevant and irrelevant mail. Is it really so much more difficult to make that decision online? I would argue that paper spam is worse than electronic spam. That crap weighs down my garbage can and takes up space in my home while electronic spam is vaporized instantly.
Ray Ozzie says, "As time goes on, though, you'll only visit eMail as a low-priority background task, much as you do when sorting through your physical mail at home." I'm with him here. Sort with your own eyes. But then goes on to say, "You'd never do important work through your home mailbox, would you?" That's where we diverge. Some of the most critical "work" I do as a citizen and co-head of household is done through my mailbox. Ever get an electric bill? A credit card bill? A water bill? They come in the same pile as this mass of ads and solicitations. A false negative in that pile could cost me a late charge or a ding on my credit rating. The consequences are much more dire than missing an email from a coworker. So why don't we demand that Congress legislate an anti-junk mail bill? Because eyeball filtering works.
So what cues give away paper spam?
- It's unexpected. My credit card bill comes once a month and anything extraneous from that sender is suspect. It's an easy way to tell a Visa offer from a Visa bill.
- It's generic. Spam without a salutation might as well be addressed to "Resident".
- Trigger keywords. Antispam crusaders spend a lot of time on this one, but there are two big problems with keyword filtering. 1) It catches too little: You'll never catch all keywords and their unique variations without adding filtering rules each time the keywords change. But the human brain is very good at recognizing V1C0DIN as Vicodin. Chris Pirillo laments, in his essay on the death of email, "Worse yet, my wife is getting e-mails that promise to increase the size of a part of her body that she doesn't have." Doesn't that make it really easy for her to quickly determine that those messages are irrelevant?
2) It catches too much: Filter the word "prescription" and watch what happens when Dave sends me a note to pick up his insulin from his phone instead of his normal (whitelisted) email client? I miss it in my spambox and he goes into a coma. Not so good.
- Unrecognized/suspect sender. I received an envelope with Christopher Reeve's return address last week. But I wasn't fooled into thinking that Christopher Reeve had any personal business with me. If you can't tell that firstname.lastname@example.org is a suspect sender, then you don't need a spam filter, you need a helmet.
If for no other reason, you should filter spam with your eyeballs because God says so. Let me quote Generations 6:13. "And God said, 'Let there be human brains capable of setting the time on a VCR and judging the safe distance from the car in front of you and deciding what is relevant and what is spam.'" Amen.
Nightmares on the MassPike again?
I saw a guy driving with a dreamcatcher hanging from his rearview mirror today. That made me really nervous.
November 11, 2003
Maxtrix 3 Takeaway
Don't mess around with the software when it's the hardware who knows what's what.
Tara found this the other day at A Boy and His Computer, this is truly a waste of time and yet strangely amusing.
I could spend hours here.
Giraffes on the Highway to Hell
NaNoWriMo: A sad little pie chart
I am extremely behind schedule on the novel I started November 6th for NaNoWriMo. I'm using a neat little Excel spreadsheet into which I can plug my word count (currently 8,125) and calculate when I'll be done at my current pace. NaNoWriMo rules require 50,000 words by November 30th. Today it says that my masterwork will be ready on New Year's Eve 2003.
Well that isn't going to work.
The overly optimistic note at the bottom of the spreadsheet says, "You're falling a little behind. But don't worry, just try to write 2093 words and day and you'll still make it." A caffeine-induced tearful nineteen-hour writing marathon the night before is probably what will actually happen. Here's to the joy of writing. Feh.
November 10, 2003
Confessions of an Accidental Techie
Dorothea's explanation of how she became an Accidental Techie struck a chord with many of us, including me.
My Black Politics in America professor was the catalyst for my interest in the Web. He asked each of us to read The Final Call -- either by approaching one of the bow-tied men on New Brunswick streetcorners and buying a copy (he advised us to try the bean pie as well) or by going online.
I'll admit that my perception of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam was not a positive one and I shied away from the smiling men hawking their paper. I opted to head to the computer lab instead. I tentatively opened a browser and searched for The Final Call. I got to the site and I was afraid to click on any links. I thought I might break the Internet or accidentally buy something. I thought I might lose my way back.
It amazes me to step back and see what I can create these days. Like many Accidental Techies, I don't feel confident in my development abilities because I never went to a class. There are gaping holes in my expertise simply because I learned on a project-by-project basis.
This month I'll finally be attending PHP and Oracle training. Funny how it takes someone else's validation for me to feel like I can do the job I've already been doing.
November 9, 2003
Last night Tara, Trevor and I had a pretty good evening. We started off with some nice conversation at Pizzeria Uno's, then headed over to one of our favorite areas Framingham/Natick. We hit Newbury comics, Starbucks, Christmas Tree Shops and then finished off the evening by going to see Elf. It was a really funny movie, but that is as far as I will take it. The plot holes were huge and the believability of the charachters was lacking significantly. I didn't buy for one second that James Caan ever loved Buddy the Elf. John Favreau should go back to playing goofy roles in mobster-esque movies.
All along our travels we kept popping outside so that we could watch the progress of the lunar eclipse that was occuring. It was awesome and Trevor was very excited to learn about what it was and how it worked.
November 8, 2003
I'm LEAVING now.
Leaving for the Ecotarium in Woo-stah. I'm on time -- I'm potentially early. What is going to happen to make me fifteen minutes late? Only time will tell... (I apologize in advance.)
November 7, 2003
Me and Em
Emily is the single most adorable baby in the world. And I'm not just saying that because I'm her Auntie Tara.
She's also a snappy dresser, which is important in a baby. Most babies don't give a crap how they look. They go out in any old spit-stained thing. But not Emily. She prefers the retro bell-bottom peasant shirt look. She rocks.
End of the World
Paula sent me this great link to a Shockwave file today. This is not kid appropriate due to some cursing and such, but is quite funny
November 6, 2003
The Google Blues
This is what I really wanted to talk about tonight, before I got all caught up in the red glare of tail lights and matronly admonishments for being tardy.
Today, this dude (we'll call him Moderately Famous Dude) wrote to me at work and asked that we expunge all mention of his name from the online version of our publication. Apparently, when people do Google searches for Moderately Famous Dude's name, they come up with two articles we published about him as the first and second links. The articles are no longer factually accurate because his circumstances have changed since they were printed in the paper magazine, but they were correct at the time and they live in our archive. Moderately Famous Dude wants them wiped.
This is one of those times where print and online reveal their divergent natures. Once the print issue is out, there's no going back. We can offer corrections and retractions, but we can't enter the offices of 150,000 subscribers and physically remove the article from their posession. Online, we have the convenience of instant and ubiquitous changes. We can yank the page and it if no one has archived it, it disappears forever. Moderately Famous Dude knows the nature of the online beast and he's requesting we do exactly that. In my opinion, that takes advantage of the impermanence of Web pages at the expense of our publication's consistency.
The online site is supposed to mirror the print publication. Who wants to see a swiss cheese version? Who wants to run an online publication where every Moderately Famous Dude has the power to rip out huge chunks of our content based on whim? Moderately Famous Dude can't stop people from going to a library microfiche archive (do they still use those?) and finding his articles, so why should he be granted the luxury of removing them online?
I haven't checked work email, so I don't know what our policy is (or response will be), but I hope that we're going to keep the archive as is. Then again, as the lucky person who will answer his email, maybe I should be hoping the other way around.
What a crappy drive home.
Most of the time, I don't mind my commute. I listen to music, I make phone calls, and I write lists and notes in a little scratch pad. But once in a while there comes a night that makes me daydream about chucking working life altogether and playing house mommy full time.
To get from work to home, I take the Mass Pike to 128 South. If you listen to Boston radio during rush hour, both of those roads are sure to be mentioned accompanied by any of the following words and phrases:
- On fire
- Don't bother leaving work
Some days, there isn't even a reason for the stop-and-go traffic. It's just the Traffic Fairy sprinkling her magic fairy dust and deciding that the 20 minute ride will take two hours tonight.
So I got smart and started leaving my office at 4:30 to beat the crowd. I absolutely must get to my son's school by 6:00 or they start doing weird passive aggressive stuff like putting him in a classroom all alone and telling him to get his coat on and sit at a table and for god's sake don't play with anything because we just cleaned up. And he freaks out. When someone says, "Gee, your mom's running late today," he hears, "Today's the day mom finally ditched you for a kid who can tie his own shoes."
Today I sat in traffic and watched the minutes tick by. I calculated and recalculated what time I would have to hit Exit 16B in order to make it to school by six. By 5:40 and you're golden. If it's 5:45, better hope you hit all green lights. Any later, you're screwed.
At 5:51 I got off 128 and hit another wall of traffic on Rt. 1. I screamed in my car, but Nick Carter didn't miss a beat. I had to change the station from hostile rock music to classical because I was getting caught up in an anger feedback loop that threatened to culminate in me beating the crap out of the van driver behind me who thought that because the heat of his headlights was melting -- but not touching! -- my back bumper, he was at a safe distance.
By the grace of god who answered my prayers for all green lights in town (and no patrol cars on the off-ramp where they usually sit) I made it into school at 6:01. And everyone knows that one minute isn't really late at all. It's like a free minute. I am so relieved that I sprint into the school - and I NEVER run. Except that the school has their front desk clock set six minutes faster than the rest of the world in some sort of sick, sadistic mommy-hating game. So to them, I'm seven minutes late and the worst mother on the continent. Only I'm not, because I'm really only one minute late.
I get in and start to head toward the cubbies and two teachers scream at me that he's in the first grade class and his stuff is with him. I sheepishly backtrack and find my kid in his coat with a book bag, but no lunchbox. So I have to go back to the cubbies and you know what? You don't care where his lunchbox was. What I'm trying to get at here is that my evening started with 1 & 1/2 hours of stomach-churning traffic, followed by public humiliation provided by a group of teachers, which I'm sure will be topped off like a cherry with a note in our cubbies tomorrow morning about the inconvenience that late pickups are for the teachers. As if they're somehow fun for me.
It's four hours later and I'm still tense. The high points of my evening were watching the automatic pickup window at Zoots retrieve my dry cleaning and beating someone twenty-three years younger than me at Uno. None of this is relevant to any of you, and I apologize. But I typed up 700 words, so I have to do something with them.
Adam and Roseanne dressed up as the Thundercats for Halloween this year. Adam was Lion-O and Roseanne was Cheetara. When Adam came back to work on Monday he shared this picture with me. Um, I almost wish he hadn't but it is so horrific that I had to let everyone here see it.
November 5, 2003
Going to see Matrix Revolutions tonight with Adam. I am pretty excited, but this one is not getting all that great reviews. I'm hoping that the story wasn't destroyed in the third movie. The Wachowsky brothers left a lot of strings hanging on the second movie that I am sure many fans will be waiting to see tied up, but since Keanu has mentioned his willingness to do a fourth movie I will have to assume that they don't.
More details tomorrow.
November 4, 2003
I was going to write a post about the new trashy reality show that NBC has put out, Average Joe. Unfortunately it turned out that I liked the show. I liked it because as vapid as this girl looked like she would be, she made the best of the situation and embraced the group. She stated during the show that she was sure that there were great guys there with great personalities.
Also, I identified with too many of the guys on the show. :)
Duracell moves in..
I saw this while at a gas station in Connecticut a few weeks ago. Is Duracell trying to move in on the whole "Pink Electric Bunny" marketing campaign?
November 2, 2003
Filmed with a Handicam
Special Sunday-morning kudos goes out to the NASA Channel for flying in the face of such innovators as the Discovery Channel, The Science Channel, The SciFi Channel, and PBS and truly striving to make science boring again.
By Tara "I don't believe in spoiler warnings so this is your last chance to look away" Liloia
If you want to see a breathtaking and moving film about a character's journey to discover his true nature and come to terms with the sudden and violent loss of a family member, rent The Lion King. If you want to see the milquetoast version of the same film, go see Brother Bear.
It's as if Disney has these index cards. And they're labeled with things like, "Great all-knowing spirits in the sky", "Missing mother", "Funny, yet seriously wise shaman character", "Headstrong male who denies his true nature", "Misguided relative who becomes the enemy" and "Goofy duo for comic relief." And the writers put all of these cards into a raffle roller and start yanking them out.
"Hey Bob, looks like we've got ourselves a completely unique hit here this time, we're starting the movie with the "goofy duo for comic relief" instead of the "funny, yet seriously wise shaman character! And, Bob, the goofy duo is going to be in-your-face-Canadian voiced by people who have considerably less talent than Nathan Lane did as Timon!"
Bob smiles knowingly and pats his stuffed wallet.
"That's why I pay you guys the big bucks."
It must be nice to crank out crappy, half-baked work and still rake in dough. I crank out crappy, half-baked work every day here for free. The humanity!
Brother Bear is a Phil Collins and Tina Turner enhanced whinefest. If I'm going to sit through a whinefest, I at least want a score that features Elton John. And Tina... we all know her best film work was Mad Max, so let's just forget about this Brother Bear misstep.
I'm tired of the whole Native American-as-perfect-earth-dweller card being played. Native Americans are kind and wise and good to their aging parents and don't eat refined sugars or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and they're so connected to the laaaaand. Woooooo. Could I please see a Disney animated movie about one young man's epic journey to the National Indian Gaming Association annual meeting?
Anyway, back to Brother Bear. On a mom level, there was way too much casual hitting in this movie. It's one thing to watch a scene where a character is hurt and everyone else in the movie steps back and gasps. It's quite another to have characters slapping each other around for laughs during most of the movie. Only a handful of really dumb (yet strangely resourceful) kids are going to throw themselves in front of stampeding wildebeests à la Mufasa. But a bunch will probably copy the "good-natured" smacking around in Brother Bear.
See this movie if you've got a kid and you're absolutely dying to get out of the house otherwise yank The Lion King off the shelf and give it another showing.
And I'm not going to even bother to give it a review, but don't, under any circumstances, pay valid US legal tender to see Good Boy. You'd think I have the brains and movie-trailer savvy to figure that out before seeing the movie. Apparently not.
November 1, 2003
Welcome to the third annual "Your Mom" month, where the answer to every question is "Your Mom". You may have some questions about this strange holiday, let me see if I can help.
Where did this holiday begin?
Why is the answer to every question Your Mom?
Ok seriously, the holiday was created by yours truly (Dave Liloia) and Clay Johnson three years ago. Why? Because it's fun and sometimes it is great to have the maturity level of a 12 year old boy. The whole month is free game, feel free to ask a question if you need clarification, and as always...
Well, at least one good thing that came out of this whole issue. I know where I won't be sending Trevor for college. Boston University is out of the question. If these people can't get thier acts together to hire an overpaid figurehead to sit around in leather chairs and light cigars with $100 bills, then they probably can't figure out how to teach my kids Quantum Physics.