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Whammo (2555)

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Journal of Whammo (2555)

Sunday May 25, 2003
07:26 PM

Memento Mori

"On this Memorial Day
We sit out on our decks and party
Three days we've got off from work
With burgers on the barbie

But if you take a moment to reflect
Away from your party scene
The radio will remind you
What this day truly means

It's time to save, I said save, on a waterbed
It's time to choose a great mattress
  at an even greater price
I got two words for you, that's "Tire Sale"
We got rock bottom prices,
  and the time is running out

You get one full year, that's right, one full year
No interest, no payments
There's no way you should miss this sale
This could be the Memorial Day weekend
  you enjoy for years
And, oh yes, something about guys that died for our country"
-- Heywood Banks

I know I had things I was going to write about, but I can't seem to remember any of them now.

Friday April 11, 2003
10:37 PM


"Oh, I tried to find
Thinking just the other day
Something that would ease her mind
Something that I meant to say
To her"
-- Pure Prairie League

Oh, Amy, Amie, Amey, Aimee, Aimie, Aymey, Aimeigh.... Whatever happened?

I wonder what Baida is thinking right now. Hmmm, Google to the rescue?

Saturday April 05, 2003
10:47 PM


"Be it a song or a casual conversation
To hold my tongue speaks
Of quiet reservations"
-- Guns 'N' Roses

A smatter of matters:

I've finally found a house. Among the nightmares associated with this process was this little gem: the credit card charge to pay the potential lender for the credit check and the appraisal triggered my credit card's fraud department, who rejected the charge (without explanation to the mortgage company). Try explaining that one to the underwriting department.

I've moved up in the world, so to speak. Now that I'm out of the office which has operational control of the enterprise application servers, I finally have time to spend on the Perl baseline I manage (which is hosted on the very same servers). How ironic! I'm finally getting around to integrating 5.8.0 into the mix. For my new job - enterprise architecture - I finally had cause to track the usage of these enterprise servers. (Applications are NFS automounted from various workstations and servers across the CAN, as well as synced with when the networks or cachefs aren't robust enough.) Solaris has long had a problem with not registering auto-unmounts, so the stats are flushed nightly to track usage. (There are alternate methods of tracking application usage, but for various tools, I don't like the additional overhead, so showmount is sufficient for my purposes.) As far as mounting from the servers, Perl, by far, leads the pack, with over 20,000+ unique clients daily. I know there are another thousand or so that copy the tree locally, but we don't have an accounting for those yet, nor for the servers that sit behind firewalls and mirror the applications for their network segments. (By comparison for scripting languages, TCL rates about 80 unique clients daily, and there is no corporate Python load.) I don't know if I would have taken on the job of CM for the corporate Perl load if I had known the true scope. I'm surprised none of my management hacks have broken anything (major) yet.

Don't forget to reset your clocks if you're making the switch tonight.

My Sun Blade 100 has gone hebephrenic. I've got an Ultra 5 to fall back on, but I haven't been doing much work anyway.

My friend (whose SETI stats I've been padding) broke 10,000 units. Combined, we're chugging out about 28 units a day.

I've stopped listening to CNN and started listening to al-Jazeera at work in an effort to get my language skills back. One good thing about the war coverage, it uses a lot of military vocab, which seems to be the majority of what I've retained. Anyway, I've been told I may want to be prepared.

Latest workings: multi-layer security (and programming paradigms for the same) and secure multicasting.

09:53 PM


"Sometimes late at night
When there's nothing here except my old piano
I'd almost give my hands
To make you see my way"
-- Burton Cummings

It's interesting that non-moderation (which isn't as much un-moderation as much as it's pre-moderation) isn't subject to meta-moderation. (Of course, who would then be moderated?) Is there a differentiation between un-moderated (that is, moderated at the pre-moderated level) and non-moderated scores?

A new twist on Warnock's Dilemma.

Thursday March 20, 2003
11:40 PM


"I make my livin' off the evening news
Just give me somethin', somethin' I can use
People love it when you lose
They love dirty laundry"
-- Don Henley

I had forgotten how much I hate the media. CNN, Fox News, MSNBC - they are all complaining that the military isn't giving them the "shock and awe" show they promised. Last fall, they were critical of the military "for caring more about high-tech weaponry than in protecting their own troops" during the various middle eastern conflicts - a conclusion reached because the bulk of our casualties were the result of friendly fire and other accidents. Condemnations flow freely when a half-dozen innocent citizens are unfortunately killed by four score missiles launched from hundreds of miles away.

War is ugly and nasty and terrible and sickening and, as sad as it is to say, sometimes necessary. It is so often our saving grace that time heals all wounds, but so unfortunate that the lessons and the horror of Anzio, Tarawa, Dresden, or Tokyo have faded and blurred. They are able to condemn a dozen lost souls only because they do not have to weep for thousands.

The number of coalition forces killed during combat during Operation Desert Storm was less than the average number of homicide victims in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area in one year. With the relative casualty rate (per casualty inflicted), the U.S. and Britain could have won WWII with a mere 15,000 combat deaths. The Marines lost 7,000 at Iwo Jima alone.

The number of civilian casualties for the war (as reported by Iraq) was 35,000 - less than a third of the casualties of a night of firebombing. It was even fewer than the number of Bulgarian civilians killed during all of WWII. By comparison, Poland and the Soviet Union combined lost 23 million civilians, and that's not including deaths at the German concentration camps. Iraq supposedly killed at least 50,000 Kurds during 1988 alone, and critics claim that the economic sanctions have cost over 1.4 million Iraqis their lives.

War is not to be celebrated, it is not to be glorified. But heaven and CNN forbid we try to obtain military objectives with a minimum of casualties on both sides.

Tuesday March 18, 2003
09:20 PM

Trivialities: Music

"What the people need
Is a way to make them smile
Ain't too hard to do
If you know how"
-- The Doobie Brothers

I have quite a few things I'd like to write, but they will all take a bit of time to jot out, so I'll procrastinate with some Top 40 trivia. (I had commented to Ziggy that I enjoyed and missed the various bits of trivia that appear in the journals from time to time.)

  1. The Beatles first appeared on Billboard's Top 40 pop chart on 25 January 1964 with I Want To Hold Your Hand and its B side, I Saw Her Standing There. How many Beatles singles appeared on the Top 40 pop chart after they announced their dissolution on 10 April 1970?
  2. What was the first post-Beatles year in which none of the Fab Four had a song reach the Top 40?
  3. Elvis Presley (8 January 1935 - 16 August 1977) first appeared on Billboard's Top 40 pop chart on 10 March 1956 with Heartbreak Hotel. What was the next year that did not find Elvis's name on the pop charts?
  4. When it comes to #1, Elvis is #1 with 80 weeks (with 18 different songs) in the top spot. The Beatles are third, with a mere 59 weeks (with 20 different songs). Who's second?
  5. Of course, for a song to stay #1, it must either be really, really good, or everything else must be really, really bad. The 50's and 90's weren't exactly powerfully musical decades, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the top 12, and 15 of the top 17, singles that stayed atop the longest were from those two decades. What three songs managed to hang on longest for each of the decades in between?
Tuesday March 11, 2003
09:36 PM


"Now the verses I've sang
Don't add much weight to the story in my head
So I'm thinking I should go and write a punch line
But they're so hard to find
In my cosmic mind"
-- Yes

My first house offer was rather indicative of the current market situation here in the D.C.-Baltimore corridor. At least it's not northern Virginia. (Then again, northern Virginia's average salary is better.) This house - the first I've really liked - went on the market Sunday. I toured (and offered) on Monday. House went under contract on Tuesday to one of the other six offers on it. And my offer was almost 4% more than the asking price with no contingencies.

The average housing prices rose roughly 13% during 2002, and have risen nearly 30% since 2000, and I believe have finally crested the $200,000 barrier in a few of the central counties.

Obviously, this comes nowhere to competing with larger metropolitan areas, but unlike those areas, salaries have remained fairly static. (The area is largely government and services - government salaries are fixed, and services has been suffering from the recession like everywhere else.)

So why have housing costs been skyrocketing? A housing shortage, reports the media. Despite unprecedented levels of new housing development in the area. There are several hundred units going in right down the road from me. You get your choice of a 2200 square foot townhouse starting in the 300's, or any number of the 4000+ square foot mansions (on a tenth of an acre) starting in the upper 600's. (Provided you want I-95 in your backyard. If not, expect to shell out another $90K to $130K for the lot.)

Who's buying these homes? Not the upper class, who aren't selling their upscale homes. They're not appreciating very much, because there isn't much of a shortage, and the builders are more than happy to fill in the demand.

No, it's the middle class. Folks who bought a pittance of an house a couple years ago who have seen their effective housing value double. They're taking the money and trading up.

I asked a builder why, given that it's lower-end housing that is in such demand, they aren't building more of those. After all, you could fit more in, and they'd make a handsome profit with the inflated prices.

The answer: "We wouldn't make as much."

Tuesday March 04, 2003
07:28 PM


"Aw, but ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America, somethin' to see, baby
Ain't that America, home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses for you and me
Oh, yeah, for you and me"
-- John Cougar Mellencamp

It's now my time to find a little pink house. I should probably be searching in Idaho, but my responsibility lies here. It's hard to believe I'm approaching my ten year mark.

Thursday February 27, 2003
10:29 PM


"In a white room
With black curtains
Near the station"
-- Cream

Opinion collection: where is an appropriate balance point between programming knowledge and domain knowledge?

Or to put it another way, what's the minimum amount of domain knowledge a programmer should have - or vice versa - to (generally) be successful?

09:03 PM


"Here come the man with the look in his eye
Fed on nothing but full of pride
Look at them go, look at them kick
Makes you wonder how the other half live"

The last couple episodes of On The Inside I've happen to have seen have been Marine oriented. Tonight's was on the school for the M1A1 Main Battle Tank. The others were their series on Parris Island.

I'm normally disappointed by the presentation of boot camp, whether in fictional cinema or educational documentary. And I was not disappointed by this latest series, meaning, of course, that I was. However realistic the action captured, it is impossible to capture the relentlessness of it - the pervasiveness of it that is all-encompassing. The old cliché of seconds stretching into hours comes to mind, but it's quite misleading. Seconds were seconds, nothing more. There was just an endless stream of them, and it was doubtful whether you would get - or wanted to get - from one to the next.

But I digress. An interesting thing both specials had in common was that they were both filmed over September 11, 2001. For me, at least, both boot camp (Parris Island) and infantry school (Camp Geiger) were informational black holes.

People measure time as a sequence of interrelated events. How many of you can track the passing of your years by Top 40 songs, sports accomplishments, people you've dated, or Perl versions? Much of 1991 is "lost" to me because I cannot put anything in context.

So it was very interesting to see these recruits and Marines trying to contextualize the terrorist attacks. (And interesting to see how the Corps handled the situation from a training perspective.)