Tuesday, December 30

Old Year, New Year

Did I say I couldn't get sick? Well, since I am off work this week, I guess it's ok to get sick. Just a little coughing, nasal dripping, and fatigue to fill the vacation days. Bleah.

This morning, while I was still mostly asleep, Betsy asked me if there was anything I would like to accomplish this vacation. I responded with the only thing on my mind at six thirty in the morning. "I would like to sleep in until ten AM!", I foolishly replied. She spent the rest of the day trying to figure out how this could happen. Obviously, this will never happen if I sleep at home. The boys just wake up too early. So, I have an invitation from either, my parents or her mom to spend the night at their house and sleep in till ten. Now I feel like an idiot. I'll go back to work and some one will ask me what I did on my vacation and I will reply, "I slept in until ten AM on one day!" Wow! Go me! So now I'm thinking about just what I want to do on this vacation, and realizing that I was largely unaware that there is this week here and I have no plans for it. I think I'll just spend most of this time hanging with my kids. Elijah has learned how to play the memory game (you know the game where you try to flip two cards over and have them match) and it's kind of fun to play with him.

New years for this year should be interesting. Every year when I was in college I would go to Cris' house and have probably the hardest drinkin' and partyin' night of the year. After I graduated and got married I wasn't able to go anymore but Cris continued to throw New Year parties. A couple of days a go I heard that Cris had a stroke a few days earlier. He is younger than I am. He is a bit heavy and smokes a lot, and I guess his job is pretty stressful, but I was totally shocked when I heard the news. Brian decided we should get together for this New Year. It certainly won't be an old fashioned R.O.G. party, but all the regulars should be there, Cris, Doug, Brian and I, and we probably won't drink a drop of alcohol.

A few weeks ago my parents had their fortieth wedding anniversary, and we kids completely shocked them with a surprise party. Events conspired in our favor, and they had no idea what was happening right up to the moment we yelled "Surprise!" I think my mom cried four or five times during the evening and she said that my dad was even more touched than she was. Good times! The week before the surprise party they went on a trip to Mexico. A few days after they got back my oldest sister, Molly, arrived from Minnesota for the holidays with her little boy, Milo, who is around six months old. So, they were swamped with other activities and did not notice some of the suspicious stuff we did, like take a bunch of old pictures out of the house to display at the party. To get my parents to the restaurant Molly and her husband offered to take my parents out to dinner for their anniversary. The battle to get my parents to the restaurant is an interesting tale in its self. (Molly, tell about Carol's lunch menu campaign in a comment) At the restaurant we assembled all four of us kids, our spouses and children, and seven or eight of their closest friends. Sarah, my youngest sister and her husband drove down from San Francisco without my parents' knowledge to participate in the surprise. I think everyone had a good time, and most of the credit goes to my other sister Kate who really did most of the organization and my wife Betsy who helped a lot.

Monday, December 22

When the Lights Go Out

Hey, according to today's GPF comic Jeffry Darlington is a Danny Elfman fan! This is cool of course, but the sad news is the oingoboingo.com site is apparently off the net. At least some one is keeping the flame alive.

Friday, December 19

Busy, Busy, Busy

Has it already been three weeks since I last posted anything? Where does the time go?

Everyone at our house has been sick but me. I can't get sick. If I got sick I'd never get enough rest to get well again. So, I don't get sick. Not an option.

In the last three weeks, Elijah has thrown up about four times. I think he has figured out how to puke whenever he wants to, so he doesn't have to eat "yucky" food. On the other hand, maybe I'm just a cold, unsympathetic father.

Work has been insane. We had about three months worth of work to do this month, and the last week and a half of this month is Christmas vacation. The plan was to bring in two new people to help with the load. So I spent the first week of the month training the new guys, and then spent about two hours every day after answering questions. In his book "The Mythical Man Month" Fred Brook's makes the great statement, "It takes nine months to produce a baby no matter how many women are assigned to the job." The point he is trying to make is that some tasks just don't breakup and process in parallel very well. Even when they do there is the problem that the amount of over head, and communication rises with the square of the number of workers but the amount of work performed rises only linearly. Therefore, in the end, adding more workers to a late project often just makes it later. I think that is what happened here this month. The copyright date on my copy of "The Mythical Man Month is 1975. It is considered a classic in the field of technical management, but I doubt anyone here has ever read it.

The holidays should prove to be equally insane. Three of the four out of town Aunts are coming for the holidays. The one I get along "least well" with is arriving at our house tomorrow with, among other things, her three-month-old daughter. It will be interesting to see how Elijah and Luke react to a baby in the house.

Speaking of babies in the house, (cue the trumpets,) we should be having our third little bundle of joy around July or August of next year. That's right, we're expecting again! I am excited, but the boys have been such a handful lately that the prospect of adding another into the mix is a little overwhelming right now. So I am coping by completely ignoring the fact. So, if I haven't told you personally it's because I'm still trying to come to grips with the situation myself.

Elijah is turning three in January and Luke is turning two in March. However, I think Luke is developing a little ahead of schedule because he is trying to keep up with his brother. So right now, we have two boys in our house who are going through the "terrible twos", and boy, are they terrible!

Let me tell you about Luke's fascination with step stools. He started out using them to turn lights that the rest of us left on, off. The first time we saw this, Mom and I thought it was so cute. He would go to the bathroom where we keep the stools for brushing teeth, pick up the one with the handle in the middle (we have three stools of varying sizes). Then, he would carry it, like a little handyman carrying a heavy toolbox, to his room. Put the stool down. Climb up and turn the light off. Then he would climb down, pick up the stool, and carry it back to the bathroom. This is a very involved process for a little boy who is not even two yet. Then, on his way back down the hall, he would realize the light in Elijah's room was on. So, he would repeat the whole procedure to turn the light in Elijah's room off. Then, since he had turned off all the lights at that end of the house, he figured he might as well turn off the hall light too. However, he wouldn't realize this until he was half way down the hall again. So, he would turn around, and head back to the bathroom for the stool, and repeat the entire process a third time. He probably performed this entire routine four or five times over the course of three or four days. Then, Elijah, who doesn't need a stool to reach the light switch, caught on. Whenever Luke decided it was time to turn a light off, Elijah would notice that he had gone to the bathroom and brought back the stool, and while Luke was climbing onto the stool, would walk over and simply flip the light switch off. As you can imagine, this did not go over well with Luke. Like a good boy, he would still haul the stool back to the bathroom but he had been robbed of his chance to switch the light off.

I can hear you thinking, "But, he's using the stool to turn lights off", and "At least he is returning the stool to the bathroom, and not just leaving it lying around like Elijah would". These things are true, and like I said we thought it was cute and wonderful. But, that was just the beginning. Now Luke just goes and gets the stool for anyting he is just not tall enough to do. Using the stool Luke has extended his reach by a good two feet, (he grabs the largest stool whenever he needs a little vertical assistance). Now he can reach tables, counters, cupboards, etc. that even Elijah has never gotten into. I didn't realize that there was so much stuff in the house that we just put up where the kids couldn't reach it. We used to think that stuff on the dinning room table was safe from the kids. Not anymore! The medicine cabinet in the hall, he has already been in it (hopefully the whuppin he got will deter him from going in there again). The pile of bills on the dinning room table? He thinks they're chewing gum! The vitamins on the kitchen counter are candy to Luke.

I think the source of the terrible twos stems from the fact that, as parents, we count on the fact that there are things that infants and toddlers just can't do. For example, reach high things. So we let them do the things they can do while protecting them and the fragile stuff by just making it impossible for them to get to the trouble. But, these stinkin little guys are constantly growing, and learning, and what they couldn't do yesterday is now the skill du jour.

Eventually they learn the skills to overcome the barriers we put between them and the dangerous/destructive things they want to do. Then the struggle really begins, because at this point the only thing between them and grabbing the butcher knife off the counter, for example, is their little underdeveloped conscience. You could put the knife in a cupboard, eventually they'll just find it. You could put it up higher, but they'll just climb higher (this obviously carries risks of it's own). You could put locks on all the cupboards, but they figured out how those work on the lower cupboards months ago. It's an abilities arms race, and in the end the child must learn that there are things that they can do, but should not do. This is the struggle.

Self-control is difficult enough for adults who have been "practicing" it all their lives. At around two years old, I think every person is introduced to the concept of self-control for the first time. Up to this point, the little sponges have been soaking up skills at an amazing rate, and we have encouraged every new skill. They are born explorers and up to this point, we have been encouraging their exploring nature. From their perspective, the only limits on exploration are their abilities. We removed all the trouble spots. Removed them so well the poor kid did not even know they existed. Now it's getting harder/impossible to remove the trouble spots, and the little guys just have to learn self-control. The arms race could go on until all the cabinets require two hands to open and slicing up an orange requires a trip to the garage for the ladder. Eventually we parents just decide the kid needs to learn there are things he can do but should not. In the end the actual tipping point is really a point of convenience for the parents.

I think part of the trouble stems from us parents being inconsistent with the tipping point from situation to situation depending on what is most convenient. For example, If I'm washing dishes alone and Elijah reaches for a knife in the drying rack I might use the situation to teach him that there are things that he should not do. This will inevitably involve some tears and probably a time out or two, but slowly he will learn self-control. However, if the situation is the same except I am in the middle of a conversation with a guest, I will probably just move the knife to a place he can't reach it without even breaking the flow of conversation. With this choice, I remove the responsibility for self-control from Elijah, but there are situations where the interruptions that would be caused by a lesson in self-control are just not acceptable. Another issue with the ability to move the tipping point is the guilt I feel when I have to reprimand him and punish him when I know I could just move the knife.

Monday, November 24

Vacation! All I Ever Wanted...

Well I'm back from Hawaii. (You did know I was going to Hawaii, didn't you?) Overall it was a nice trip. I have a little trouble totally enjoying vacations since I became a father. Unconsciously I compare them to the vacations I took before I had all the responsibilities of children. Without children you simply decide what you want to do on a vacation and then you go do it, subject only to time and budget constraints. With children I must consider what the children will be doing while I am enjoying whatever activity I want to do on vacation. Think I can just sit on the beach? I can't; I have to make sure the boys don't wander of down the beach, or get sucked away by the rip tide. Think I can sit by the pool? I can't; I have to play with the boys in the pool. Think I can read my book? I have to make sure the boys don't get stir crazy and damage themselves or the hotel room.

Really it's not better or worse it's just different. Vacations with kids just include different activities than vacations for adults. I think there are different vacations for kids of different ages, and as you get older your vacations naturally evolve until they are adult vacations. When you have kids it is a huge leap backwards in the vacation evolution, and that takes some adjustment.

I like to read on my vacations. Betsy, my wife, gets mad because I like to take four or five books for a one week vacation and decide which one(s) to read while on vacation. (Frequently I switch to a second book with out completing the first.) On our last one-week vacation before we had kids I think I read about 1000 pages from two different books. On this vacation I read about fifty pages from one book. The only quiet time to read was during the kids' naps, but that was also the only time to nap myself (I must have my naps while on vacation). We had two six-hour plane rides where I the only reading did was glancing through the in-flight magazine, the rest of the time was spent trying to convince Elijah he wasn't really bored out of his mind.

We were able to spend a lot of time with aunt Brandy (Betsy's sister), and uncle Mark who live about half an hour from the hotel we stayed in. Aunt Brandy stayed with us for three days and babysat the boys for a day so mom and dad could go on a snorkeling trip. We saw lava tubes, and lots of tropical fish and coral, and we swam with a green sea turtle, which was pretty cool. It seemed to be completely unfazed by people in the water with it. Apparently it is illegal to touch green sea turtles in Hawaii (so I didn't lightly touch him with just my finger, no sir, not me, uh-uh, ... , at least not after I learned it was illegal, and not before either, really! I don't know what your'e talking about!) so the turtle wasn't afraid of us.

In other news: I will be receiving my master's degree in Applied Mathematics from Cal State Fullerton on January fifth. Yay! Apparently I passed the writing proficiency test.

Monday, November 10


Clay Shirky has an article on a fairly esoteric concept called The Semantic Web. He makes several interesting points, as usual. However, the most interesting part for me was the following.

The people working on the Semantic Web greatly overestimate the value of deductive reasoning (a persistent theme in Artificial Intelligence projects generally.) The great popularizer of this error was Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Sherlock Holmes stories have done more damage to people's understanding of human intelligence than anyone other than Rene Descartes. Doyle has convinced generations of readers that what seriously smart people do when they think is to arrive at inevitable conclusions by linking antecedent facts. As Holmes famously put it "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

This sentiment is attractive precisely because it describes a world simpler than our own. In the real world, we are usually operating with partial, inconclusive or context-sensitive information. When we have to make a decision based on this information, we guess, extrapolate, intuit, we do what we did last time, we do what we think our friends would do or what Jesus or Joan Jett would have done, we do all of those things and more, but we almost never use actual deductive logic.

This illustrates a theory that I have held for a long time that we humans are no where near as logical as we think we are. Which raises the question why do we think we are so logical? Do we believe that if we just knew the right facts, and proper techniques, we could reason out how everything works and the universe would unfold a myriad of treasures at our feet? Or we believe that logic is the only tool for comprehending the universe and other people? I think at some level we do. I think logic has been hyped for centuries as the cure to all ills, and the above reference to Descartes illustrates how long the hype has been going on. While logic is obviously a useful tool, it falls far short of most this hype, and even in the arenas where it is useful it is often much more tedious and unwieldy than we want to believe.

The first place I heard the statement about eliminating the impossible was not from Sherlock Holmes, but from from one of his many intelecual heirs, that paragon of "space age" logic, Spock. But Spock and Holmes, are only two characters in a long line of "super logicians". Some other popular super logicians, James Bond, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and Doc Savage. Frequently we accept the "super logician" myth while simultaneously mocking it. For example Buckaroo Banzai, or Austin Powers.

Truly great logicians respect the limits of deductive logic. For example, Einstein said "Where math describes reality it is not precise, and where it is precise, it does not describe reality."

Obviously, I'm not advocating abandoning logic completely. Logic is a very powerfull tool, but it is probably one of the most misused intellectual tools, especially when trying to figure out how and why people do what they do. The biggest abuse is when we try to figure out why not everyone else thinks as "logically" as we do.

Thursday, October 30

Not Bored at the Moment

Wow! This looks like a huge time sink. Oh, to be 13 again and have hours to waste!

Wednesday, October 29

Fires Visible From Space

The Nasa Earth Observatory has some cool pictures of the fires that were burning in Southern California on October 25th. You can see the huge cloud of smoke that covered most of central Orange County from the San Bernardino Fires. Brian, who owns a home in Rancho Cucamonga, just a few miles from the fires, said, "It's like living in Mordor, smoke and ash every where." My car was covered with ash, and today, when I went out side, it was covered with dew. Now my car has a nice ash clay coating. Hot investor tip for the day: Invest in southern California car washes.

Thursday, October 23

Listen! ... Do You Smell Something?

I said in a previous post that a constant low level of noise from Elijah is standard operating procedure. Now, since he is learning to talk, the same is true of Luke as well. Even when they are not "talking" their play involves grunts, screams, woo-woo siren noises (they both love fire trucks) or other verbalizations. Even when they are not making noise with their mouths they make noise by banging toy hammers, rolling cars on the floor, or knocking miscellaneous body parts against the furniture, walls, doorways, etc. I characterize a strange phenomenon, which arises from this constant noise, with the famous quote from King Kong. ...

It's quiet. ... Too quiet.

If I haven't heard any noise from the boys in the last 15 to 20 seconds, then chances are pretty good one, or both, are up to no good. They have a very powerful "whisper mode" which they engage whenever they conspire to break the rules.

It's not always both of them that are actively perpetrating the crime either. Sometimes, Luke will do something he is not supposed to do and Elijah will stand across the room watching Luke, not actively participating, but stock still. Elijah is never, at any other time, still; even in his sleep he thrashes around. Most of the time, however, when it's silent they are both: taking brushes and makeup out of the bathroom drawer, or playing with the toilet paper, or pulling all Luke's diapers out of the changing cabinet, or throwing toys out the window into the planters, or taking everything out of Dad's wallet, or unpacking a toy that is supposed to be a gift for one of their friends, or filching granola bars from the pantry, or smearing Desitin on each others faces, or ...

It is strange, the noise from them is so constant that no matter what I am doing any extended silent period instantly, almost subliminally, triggers the thought, "What are the boys doing?" and nine times out of ten they are doing something they know they are not supposed to do. The other night I was washing the dishes, and thinking about some issue from work. Suddenly, I realized the subliminal silence-timer had timed out. The boys had been too quiet for too long. After rinsing my hands, I went to the living room and found Luke "changing" the DVD in the player.

I wonder if/when they will figure out that, when Daddy is watching them, if they could just continue the steady stream of noise, most of their crimes would go unnoticed for much longer?

So often, when watching the boys, I just wish for some peace and quiet, but the instant the noise stops I get suspicious. It's quiet. ... Too quiet.

Tuesday, October 21

Birthday Post Mortem

Well my third annual 29th birthday has come and gone. I had a wonderful time. I thank everyone who was involved or contributed.

We had a dinner party at my parents. My Sister and brother-in-law came and brought their little girl, Zoe. All our kids played well together. Elijah only knocked Zoe over once, and it was an accident. Kate got me the bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin, so we all drank Gin & Tonics. My parents debuted a new alfresco dining arrangement. We all sat at one big table made from two of the old six-foot school tables side-by-side. We ate filet mignon, Garlic Mashed potatoes, and a pasta/rice thing (the name of which I can't remember right now) which was delicious. For desert Betsy made a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, my favorite. She decorated it with cute little frosting carrots and way to many candles.

Betsy also took me to a day at Glen Ivy Hot Springs. We did pretty much everything covered by the basic admission except the dry sauna. (It was hot enough just sitting out side.) We also did "The Grotto" which is a subterranean moisturizing treatment. My joke about half way through was, "so this is what $20 of lotion feels like." I wish we had done the grotto later in the day because, after being super moisturized I didn't want to jump right into any of the chlorinated pools and get all dried out again. The club mud was a lot of fun.

My biggest problem with my birthday is how disorganized and anti-social it makes me feel. On my birthday everyone is paying attention to me and giving me presents and making me feel great. So, I wonder if I return the favor on their birthday, or anniversary, or special occasion. I'm pretty sure I don't, so I end up feeling guilty when they celebrate my special days. I am sure the person who gets the butt end of this deal the most is my wife, but I think I overlook everyone else a bit as well. I really appreciate all the presents and time and attention, and I wish I wasn't such a social heel.

Friday, October 17

Wish List Update

I got a little flak for my last entry. Apparently my tastes are too expensive. But I did link to my Wish List at amazon.com. There are several Items there that are less than twenty dollars. There is one book, True Names: And the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier, that is just a hair over ten dollars that I would really like.

This is a wish list. There is an Apple Laptop on there that is over 2000 dollars. I don't really expect anyone to get that for my birthday or Christmas.

Maybe I should have said that the only things I put on my list here were things I couldn't put on my list at Amazon. Amazon doesn't carry everything. So this list was really intended to be a supplement to that list.

Also, there are plenty of other things that would make great gifts that I did not think of. All gifts are appreciated. These two lists are intended to be a suggestion list for people who don't have any idea what I would like.

OK, enough blogging about my blog.

In recent news: Mom is at a scrap-booking day. Elijah just peed his pants, and has no clean underwear. So I'm off to do a load of laundry.

Tuesday, October 14

Birthday Wish List

There are two blog entries here and here which list two items I would like for my birthday. But, here in one place is my one stop shopping list of things I would like for my birthday along with links to where to get them. There is also a list of books, music and miscellaneous stuff on my wish list at amazon.com.

With out further ado, here is my list, ordered from most expensive to least expensive, including the two items listed above, including descriptions.

  1. External fire wire hard drive.
    The drives I am interested are manufactured by LaCie. The 200 GB Hard drive costs around $350, and the 500 GB hard drive costs around $800. There are a couple of size steps in between. (500 GB =1/2 Terabyte!) PC World has a list of actual prices for the 200 GB drive, the 320 GB drive, and the 500 GB drive. This drive will be used to edit digital video downloaded from our video camera. So we can send you all home made videos on DVDs! The price is a little steep but the useful life time of these drives could be ten to fifteen years, especially the half terabyte.

  2. Sony Memory stick
    A 256-MB memory stick would be great, but a 128-MB would be fine too. This is so I can store more MP3s on my Clie. They sell some of these at Costco, if you want to get them there. They have them at Fry's or any computer/electronics shop. C|Net lists the 512 MB memory stick around $100, and the 128 MB Stick around $60.

  3. A Tilley T2 Hat
    This is a basic wide brimmed cotton canvas hat. The reason I want one of these is they make them in sizes larger than size 8. The web-site specifies the largest size is an 8+. Please get me the 8+ size. I don't know any place that sells this hat in this size besides the website. The price is $60 plus shipping and handling.

  4. A bottle of Bombay Saphire Gin
    This is pretty much available wherever hard liquor is sold. It should be $20 - $30 depending on the size of the bottle. I promise to share some with whoever gets it for me.

Well that's the list as it stands now. I might add things later as I think of them. This is, of course, not an exhaustive list of all the things I'd like. It's just a list of things I came up with when people have asked me what I want for my birthday.

Thursday, October 9

Don't Laugh!

I'm a horrible father.

Elijah (my two-and-a-half-year-old son) is cussing. I had one chance to nip it in the bud, and I failed horribly.

Here is how it happened. All summer Elijah and Luke (my one-and-a-half-year-old son) wore Velcro sandals. Elijah has become quite adept at putting on his sandals. Whenever it was time to go outside Elijah Luke and I would go to the garage, and Elijah could put on his sandals while I put on Luke's. Elijah got enough experience that he could put on his sandals in about sixty seconds, which is about how long it took me to put on Luke's sandals. So, it used to be about sixty seconds from the decision it was outside playtime, to actually being outside playing. Now, the weather is getting cooler, so Mom and I have decided that Luke and Elijah should start wearing socks and closed-toed shoes.

This Saturday I was watching the kids and we decided to go outside to play. We went to the garage door to put on our shoes, and as usual I started to put on Luke's shoes while Elijah put on his own shoes. For an adult the difference between shoes and sandals, in terms of putting them on children's feet, is negligible; however, for a two-and-a-half-year-old the difference is significant. As I put Luke's shoes on I was only vaguely aware that Elijah was becoming more and more frustrated with his shoes. By the time I was lacing up Luke's last shoe. Elijah had wedged his foot into his first shoe such that he could get it neither all the way off, nor all the way on. He had been whining, moaning and grunting throughout the entire process, but a constant low level of noise from Elijah is standard operating procedure, so I wasn't paying much attention.

The scene crescendoed with Elijah sitting on the door step violently kicking his partially shod foot up and down, and saying through his teeth in his most disgusted/frustrated voice, "Do, something with this fricken shoe!"

I think I was most shocked by the fact that even though he was compleatly mentally and physically frustrated, he was able to clearly articulate the source of his frustration. Hearing this crystal clear catharsis from Elijah, along with the precocious pseudo-explicative "fricken", was such a shock that before I thought about it I did the worst thing I could possibly have done while trying to raise a child. I burst into laughter.

Someone once told me that the key to being a good parent is not laughing at the right time. Well, obviously, I am not a good parent. Elijah thought I was laughing at his use of the word fricken, which I suppose I was. So, he immediately adopted it as his new favorite adjective. We have spent all week telling him that we don't use the word fricken, but yesterday morning, while I was getting the boys ready for breakfast, I noticed that while he was goofing around at the kitchen table he was repeating under his breath "fricken, fricken, fricken, fricken, ...". I was able to get him to stop, but I am afraid the word is now cemented in his brain, along with the knowledge of how to properly use it.

Oh well, I guess we're all learning.

Wednesday, October 8

Some Saphire Please?

Here is another item on my birthday or Christmas wish list. I'm not really a sot, but I like to keep a bottle in the freezer just in case.

Tuesday, October 7


I feel like I haven't accomplished anything for a week. At work I can't figure out what I should be doing. I have a list of about 5 things that I could do, but I can't figure out which one to work on. Each one requires an investment of time and thought to get started. This in its self is not bad, but I fear I will be redirected as soon as I get in the groove for whatever project I select. So, I haven't selected a project, and haven't really done any work. I am embarrassed about this so I don't go to my manager, who has been on vacation for the last week, and ask him what I am supposed to be doing. People have come to me and asked what I'm doing or for bits of information on the various projects I am/should-be working on. Apparently I have produced adequate answers because nobody seems to notice I'm not accomplishing much.

In my spare time I am reading Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1) by Neal Stephenson [amazon.com]. I read the first third of it, and decided I needed to read it again. I'm not sure that was the best idea. I'm having trouble determining if what I'm reading is foreshadowing events I remember from the first time I read it, or if the associated event is something I have actually read this time through the book. On the other hand I think I understand what is going on much better. It certainly is easier to remember who all the different characters are. I also found the list of characters in the back of the book to be very helpful on this same point.

I just spent the afternoon reading Ftrain.com.

Time to go home.

Thursday, October 2

Moving. Not Moving. Moving. ...

Now here are some cool GIFs. The first one is my favorite. There are other optical illusion pages in the same site. It's a Japanese site so some of the text is in Japanese.

Tuesday, September 23

It's Pining for the Fjords!

Ladies and Gentlemen! I just downloaded and compiled Parrot v0.0.11! I am running Windows NT 4.0 SP 6. I used CVSNT 2.0.3 to download the parrot source code and build environment using the commands for anonymous access listed here. I have ActiveState Perl v5.6.1 build 633 installed. (I haven't even compiled my own copy of Perl 5 for windows, and here I am compiling Perl6!) I used Microsoft Visual C++ 6 to compile Parrot following the instructions in the file docs/intro.pod.

I ran the two PASM programs listed in docs/intro.pod, showtime.pasm, and fibonacci.pasm. Both worked like a charm! Then I read the instructions for running the test suite, and ran it. Some tests in t/src/hash really screwed up bad, I got windows error messages indicating an un-initialized pointer causing the hash_4.exe program to be terminated completely. So it looks like test 5 of t/src/hash failed. All the other tests appeared to complete uneventfully. I should look into what is causing this failure, and see if I can contribute to the Perl community.

I am so excited to use Perl 6.

A Tilley Hat Please?

For any of you wondering what to get me for my birthday or for Christmas. One of these, in a size 8+, would be really nice. I would have loved to have one this weekend at the Inland Invasion.

Monday, September 22

Template Tweaker

OK! Too much playing with my Blog today!

But hey, what do you think of the new layout? Just call me the template tweaker.

KROQ's Inland Invasion

I went to KROQ's Inland Invasion III this Saturday. Brian came up with two tickets and Grandma agreed to watch the kids all day Saturday. It was a total blast. I never went to a festival/multi-band-concert before. Most of the bands were ok. I was most excited to see the Violent Femmes. For me they were the highlight of the show. Hot Hot Heat was a lot of fun too.

On the way home my wife, Betsy, got pretty sick with what ever my oldest kid, Elijah, had last week. This bug really opens the sluices at both ends!. Here's hoping I don't get sick as well.

Two pieces of knowledge were confirmed this weekend. First, I am getting a little old for this type of shenanigans. Second, the Violent Femmes kick butt.

Thursday, September 18

Write Something. Anything!

Well, It turns out I am more of a consumer than a producer. I was hoping to put something here every working day. Uh ... no such luck.

It's not like I don't have any thoughts. I just don't put them in words I think would be appropriate to publish for the world to see (like the world really reads this!). Maybe I should just get used to the fact that not all my writing is perfect (or even good) and not all my thoughts are inspired genius, and just post the drivel I have.

Wednesday, September 17


The Power of Dissent is an op-ed article at latimes.com which states an opinion that I have held for a long time. To summarize, it says that nay-sayers are very important for any community or organization. The article is specifically directed at NASA in the wake of the report from the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, but I think, and the author seems to agree with me, the concept has implications for every community.

However, if dissent is really a necessary part of a healthy community how do we know how much dissent is good? A group can be torn apart by petty bickering. If more effort is spent "putting out fires" than achieving the community's aims, then the dissent is destructive to the group. But, dissent can be destructive at much lower levels, Sometimes the motives for dissent, and/or the motives for ignoring the dissent, are intellectually dishonest. I think most of these cases can be detected as logical fallacies. (But really, who knows all the logical fallacies? (Maybe this is why we should learn them.))

So, the real question is how much dissent is too much?

Monday, September 15

Test Results

Well I think the stupid essay went well. I'm pretty sure I passed. I was a little disappointed in myself for not being a little more ironic and cynical. I was hoping to send the message that I was not happy having to take the test. Instead I wrote some sappy chicken soup for the soul type essay. I compared myself to Ward Cleaver, Beavers Dad, and I actually used the phrase "pitter patter of little feet". Blech! The writing topic was, discuss your different "selves". Who comes up with this stuff?

I just when to lunch with an old friend. I was one of the groom's men in his wedding a year ago. I just learned that he and his wife are split up and have been pretty much since they got back from the honeymoon. I'm really bummed out. The are both really decent people. I've known him since high school. He is probably the most honest loyal person I know. He may seem a little coarse at times, (he claims to be "guarantied to offend in five words or less") but he will always talk straight with you and you pretty much always know where you stand with him.

Oh well, off to run Pilot Carrier Phase Lock Loop Bandwidth tests.

Friday, September 12

English! you must know English.

I'm currently in the process of getting my Masters degree in mathematics from Cal State University Fullerton. I completed all my classes this summer and have a high enough GPA to graduate (although it was close for a while there). So I submitted to get a grad check, you knew you needed a grad check didn't you, and found out that there is a English writing proficiency test I have to take. ... Huh, I have to take an English writing proficiency test to get a Masters degree in mathematics. I felt like saying, " You know I did get a bachelors degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara. It's in my transcripts. They though my English was good enough.", but I'm too big a wimp.

So my stupid English writing proficiency test is tomorrow, (exactly how I wanted to spend my Saturday). It's a standard five-paragraph essay in ninety minutes thing. As described here. The last time I had to do this was in High School. Grr!