20 December, 2008

Do nice guys finish last?

I would like to address the myth that women want the bad boy and that nice guys finish last.
The comic XKCD just recently had a wonderful description of why many men seem to whine that nice guys finish last. I believe that many so-called ‘nice-guys’ are not being nice but are just being being non-assertive. This is not the same thing.  
Being nice means having manners, showing respect for those around you, and being courteous in word and deed.  At the dinner table manners are expressed by asking nicely for things to be passed to us and not reaching over other peoples plates, or taking things directly off of their plate because we see something we want.
The application of manners and courtesy requires not an absence of desire nor a refrain from stating ones desire but merely a polite expression of that desire.
We (should) teach our children to use their words in order to express how they feel and what they need.  If we don’t know what someone we love needs, we will be unsuccessful at helping them achieve it.

12 December, 2008

Why Batman Begins was Better

Don’t get me wrong, I do not wish to take anything away from the outstanding work that Christopher Nolan is doing.  I really and truly appreciate the direction (sorry about the pun) in which he has taken the Batman big screen experience.  It is much closer to the graphic novels and, so, automatically closer to my heart.
I love a good comic book movie.  I love a good comic.  Comics are the mythos of this civilization.  Of course, some of them are just crap, but I bet it was the same in Ancient Greece or Rome.  Batman has always been my favorite of all the myths on which I grew up.
Nietzsche wrote about the Superman, but the comic book version of that character makes it unreachable.  If you were born here, on Earth, you can never be Superman; at least not in the way Siegel and Shuster envisioned him.  The Superman of Nietzsche, however, is within all of us. 
Nietzsche taught that it was our destiny, our supreme duty, to become the Superman; to create of ourselves the best we could become.  To use whatever gifts or talent with which we were born and hone them to as near perfection as we could drive ourselves.  The comic book version of the Superman took the easy way out by being born on another planet.  Slacker.
But the Batman; ah, the Batman; he is the real Superman.  His powers come from a lifetime of training.  His gadgets come from deep pockets, of course, but they are really quite secondary.  His analytical thinking skills, physical prowess, and unmitigated determination in the pursuit of justice are attributes that any one of us can develop if we but set our minds to it.

10 December, 2008

Quote of the day

Patient:  Isn’t there another way I could be pregnant?  Like sitting on a toilet seat?
House:  Absolutely!  Yes!  There would have to be a guy sitting between you and the toilet seat, but yes.
People at work forget I am just a co-op.  That is probably one of the best compliments I could be given.
I have been working diligently at a code which will parse over 8000 lines of messages and strip them down to the information in which I am interested and then compare it to another file to ensure completeness of coverage from a database driven TACACS+ test against the Cisco ACS on both the TA5000 (MSAP) and the Netvanta 838 (NCTE).
I love my job.  I love absofuckinglutely LOVE writing code for a real project.  It gives me the short term sense of accomplishment I crave when I get a piece of the puzzle to work.  More importantly, it exercises my long term planning fetish by letting me figure out how all the different pieces fit together and then making them harmonize in the symphony I both write and conduct.

05 December, 2008

Good morning, Rydell!

Patrick:     "He tried to burn a man alive.  He’s our bait.  He’s our tethered goat, if you will."
Theresa:   "And it is OK if the goat gets killed?"
Patrick:     "Well, yes, that is why we don’t use babies, or virgins for that matter."
I have developed a fondness for the show, The Mentalist.  I really like the character played by Simon Baker.  Very engaging.
I went to a party that the lead Co-op threw last night for the end of term.  Many of the co-ops are graduating next semester and won’t be back.  It was the first time I was able to attend one of the after hours functions, because I didn’t have a car for so long.  We played Rock Band and Ryan accompanied us on live guitar (the dude is incredible) and then we went to the playground to demolish a piñata that Micah had built of the lake monster. 
Awards were given for various facetious merits, such as most likely to be Batman’s (a picture circulated in which our CEO was masked as Batman, and the legend grew from there) sidekick or who had the best paint skills (a common response in our e-mail threads is ‘pic or it didn’t happen’ and the challenged must illustrate using MS Paint (photoshop is cheating).  The winners got to take swings at the piñata.
There was a little drinking, but not a ridiculous amount.  It was pretty tame, all in all.  I left about 10, having felt like crud all day anyway, and the time at the playground in the cold made it worse.  I hope to become closer friends with some of the co-ops over the next semester; at least the ones living in Huntsville.  Maybe next semester I can host an event here; a barbecue or something.
Today I am watching the SEC championship game (ROLL TIDE) and hoping that Florida loses.  I don’t really care, but I have been making quips all semester that the Tide always goes undefeated when I am in Alabama.  My lead engineer is a Gator fan, and even though he is writing my review, I will still be able to good-naturedly rib him if his team loses.
I am taking Angelina in to get altered and have her nails done this Tuesday.  They are using lasers, so it should heal quickly, which is nice.  I hope it doesn’t change her personality much.  I hope she forgives me.  She is still a little twitchy from the fly-paper fiasco.  But that was all her fault.  She should not have been up on the refrigerator.  Poor little thing.  I tried really hard not to laugh, but she was a mess, and totally freaked out.
I finished all the tests I needed to do before the due date and am being given one additional interdepartmental project on which to work as well as an individual project that I should finish before I end my work term on the 5th of January.   I feel really appreciated here.  I think I will miss it when I go back to school.
I need to get to the bookstore and get my books so I can start studying for next semester.  20 hours.  It’s gonna be rough.

27 November, 2008

Why I don't shop on Black Friday

The consumer appetite in America is rather sickening to me quite often. This once great country reduced to a mass of hysterical jackals who clamor for the newest or the shiniest or the cheapest is saddening at best.
But when people die because my countrymen are so greedy, it makes me bitter that I spent half my life protecting people like that.

23 November, 2008

Why there are checks and balances

I am not a fan of pure democracy.  I never have been.  I have never believed that an opinion, just because a majority felt it was right, was a moral certainty.  I have always held my own rationality as the highest authority to which I answer.  I have not always been right in my decisions, and I have caused harm, no matter how hard I tried to do good.  Sometimes I have been wrong on purpose or through neglect.  But it is I who will answer for those things, and not the majority. 
In the end, we all stand alone.
In a group of one thousand, I could be the sole dissenting vote.  Unless I were swayed by the power of their logic, I will not be swayed by their numbers.  I will still have a one in a thousand chance that I am right.  If I have stacked the deck in my favor by doing my research, then I consider that one in a thousand chance good odds.
Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers. 
James Bovard once said that democracy had to be better than two wolves and a sheep voting on what is for dinner.  The founding fathers knew this.  The reason they put the checks and balances into this new form of government they designed was to make it robust enough to not only survive the corrupting influence of power in too few hands but, also, to guard against the corrupting influence of power in the hands of too many whose only claim to authority was majority.
There is a revolutionary spirit buried deep (or maybe not so deep) within all of us.  That part of us that rails against injustice, that says to hell with the status quo.  We know when something is wrong, no matter how long it has been done.  We know when something needs to be changed, regardless of tradition.

22 November, 2008

Best quote ever

I tivo the Daily Show, and was catching up tonight.  Bill O’Reilley was on the show a week or so ago, and of course he started spouting about tradition as an excuse to keep everything the same.  Jon Stewart had one of the quickest and most brilliant retorts I had ever heard, and I wanted to both share it and preserve it.
He said,  "The tradition in America is a progression of individual freedoms.  You know what the tradition in America would say?  Gay marriage is the next step in the progression of America.  That’s the tradition.  You’re misrepresenting the tradition."  
The jesters still speak the truth.

Why Men Don’t Look at the Instructions

Recently I bought a fireplace set so that I would quit burning my hands when I adjust the logs in my fireplace. 
I unpacked it and set it up and then I happened to glance at the instruction booklet while I was preparing to crumple it up to play catch with my cat.

These are the instructions that came with the fireplace set.  This is the only step to the assembly instructions.  —————–>
1. Hang fireplace tools on provided rack.
It is rather insulting to the intelligence, I thought.
If someone can not figure out that they are supposed to hang the tools on the tool rack, they should not be playing with fire.
What I found truly hilarious was the fact they estimated it would take me five minutes to do that step.

This just in

Life has been pretty good for me recently.  It hasn’t been without its share of frustrations and setbacks, but I’d rather not give them any power by writing about them. 
I had been needing a car very badly; mine was on its last lug nut for over a year, and I had been riding to work with a friend of mine.  While she was very nice about it, I felt like I was an imposition on her as well as I was tied to her schedule.
I saved up a couple thousand dollars and was scouring the classified for a reasonably priced vehicle.  I missed a few because I didn’t have the cash handy, but after I had the cash it seemed like there were none to be had.  Then one day on the way home I saw this Taurus on the road by a title pawn shop for which they were asking $2195.  That was right in my price range.  Unfortunately, the next day it was gone.
A few days later, it was back, so I filled my cars radiator up with water (it leaks, so I have to fill it up before I try to drive it) and ran up there.  It looked pretty good, but was not cared for.  I test drove it and found it shimmied pretty hard at high speeds.  The car had a lot of power, though: 200 hp, 24 v DOHC.  It was the luxury model; leather seats and six-pack cd changer, six way adjustable seats, and the floor pedals could even be adjusted to come to me instead of scooting my seat forward.  It was a lot of car for $2200. 

10 November, 2008

Taps: A reprint for Veteran's Day

Reprint from 9/15/2004
There are three standard times when the Ceremony of Taps is performed.
I capitalize it, because I understand the need for ritual, and I respect this ritual above most all others.
Ritual gives us actions to perform when thought is difficult. Action is the enemy of thought. I read that somewhere recently, then I saw the movie.
I am not a fan of action without thought but ritual, Ceremony, goes a bit deeper than mere avoidance of thought; trying to kill the thoughts. Ceremony is a rational postponement of thought; it breeds a state of Zen in times when that state is difficult to find.
Ceremony makes our hands busy, without thought, in order for us to keep acting when the mind is whirling.
The most often used Ceremony of Taps is at 2300 hours on a military base. It is the signal that the sentries used to give to those who were not on duty. It was the signal that we could sleep soundly, because someone, My Brother, was guarding the wall. I was safe. People have forgotten this, but that is where that ceremony started.
“Gone the sun, day is done”
Hit the sack. I got your back.
The second most often used Ceremony is at a military funeral. Taps is played during the Flag Folding Ceremony. I used to do those while I was in the service, perform as flag bearer; it was my responsibility to acknowledge a loved one’s service to our nation. It was supposed to be nothing more than an additional duty that I pulled while we were on Red Cycle. BUt after my first, when I was still a private, I never heard Taps the same way.
I bet most people who pulled the duty didn’t respect the Ceremony. Or perhaps that is my cynicism. I felt quite often that soldiers did not take their duty seriously. Life is a game, it is true. It is to be enjoyed, that is certain. But there are times when it is necessary to put one’s game face on and play seriously. During the Ceremony of Taps is one of those times.
We weren’t supposed to show any emotion, I suppose, but every time, as I folded the flag, the tears rolled silently down my face as I thought of what Taps represented in this case. A soldier fallen, usually after discharge, but one who had served their country. Most of the people I folded flags for were WWII soldiers, veterans of Normandy and the march to the Rhine. They were holders of the Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, and a host of other medals. Never a Medal of Honor winner, because those were folded by field grade officers, not just a crusty old staff sergeant.
The most poignant version of the Ceremony is for a soldier who falls while still serving. It is the roll call. The First Sergeant calls out a number of troops, who answer giving indication of their presence, and then he calls out the name of the fallen.
“PVT Jefferson”
“Here First Sergeant”
“SPC Mulcahey”
“Here First Sergeant”
“SSG McAnarney”
“Here First Sergeant”
“SPC Nash”——-silence”
“SPC Brian Nash”——-thunderous silence
Seven seconds after the second roll call, rifle or cannon are fired in volleys of seven, three rounds each. At the sound of the last volley, Taps is played.
The soldier now answers roll elsewhere, in Fiddler’s Green.
I am sad to say that this ceremony has been acted out again, though it has already been played far too much.
In Memorium
1SG Utt
Taps, Iraq
Roadside Bomb
August 28, 2004
RIP
Happy Veteran’s Day, America.

09 November, 2008

Fucking drama

I am at a loss as to how to deal with some twisted freak out there.
People I know are getting emails like this:
see? he openly admits some of it. some of it is a pack of lies tho like that his relations with people only lasted a few days or an evening. hahahahaha that is a laugh. the sex lasted longer than that i have to say. anonymity is in the rules of the site yet he has no problem breaking that rule every chance he gets to take it outside of the site and carry on somewhere else like messenger and phone. he even says he didn’t know there was a rule about it. try reading the rules page! plus he admits that he singles out women that have something that he wants in a woman. or should i say women??? there’s no way he would have only one as “freely” as he gives it all away. then he expects us to believe that it is all friendly yet he only picks out women that are single? that is also a lie because several of us are in relationships already and he knew that when he was coming on to us! even if we were all single all that says is that he is not interested in a friends only relationship. we have guy friends who do not come on that strong or feel guilty about calling whenever they want or hanging out with us AND our boyfriends because they know they aren’t being inappropriate! he is saying that he only picks girls that he will have a chance with….. to do what i don’t know. probably more phone sex or sex over messenger if given the chance! doesn’t matter because that’s a lie too. he doesn’t talk to only single girls. he is a liar. don’t let him fool you girl. you can’t be that stupid. really we wanted you to see that he will NEVER block all of us. he says it right to us! he doesn’t know who we all are for one thing so he can’t block us all. those of us who can will still read his entries and notes and send them to each other so if ONE of us knows then we ALL know. second even if he does block some of us it is not permanent. i think he likes the attention we give him too much to block us and leave us alone even when you flat out tell him what we’ve said. he thinks that we are all buddy buddy and that care whether he blocks us or not like we’re really friends and our lives won’t be the same without him and his sleazy come ons or romantic prattle. it’s not romantic when everybody with a pussy is the same in his eyes. yeah he’s a good writer. or should i say a good con artist? that’s all his words are… one long string of lies to get you to send pictures or give your phone number or talk about sex. he is like every other guy with a one track mind. only difference is that he disguises it as something that it IS NOT. oh and just so you know he did block some of us but we just laughed. all we have to do is wait it out because it never lasts. so by all means send him this email because he won’t believe you anyway. let’s say he does believe you he still won’t do anything about it. not for very long. he always comes back around and that’s the truth. or should we say it is what it is? hahaha
This is why some of you were blocked and then unblocked. Things like this keep getting sent. It’s fucking evil. Whoever it is keeps hacking into any account I open up, as well as the accounts of people with whom I associate. I believe the last sentence is to indicate they have gained access to messenger archives through treachery or deceit.
It is a total invasion of privacy. It is outright felonious harassment. And they talk about rules I have broken? Fucking evil bitch(es). There is little that upsets me like an invasion of privacy.
NOTHING I have ever done, and I have done some heinous shit, deserves what he, she, or they are doing.
What do I do? If I block them, they win. If I unblock them, they win.
For the record, I do believe her. You just proved her point.
It’s at least one of you.
EDIT: Have I had sex, or tried to have sex, either real or make believe, with anyone in this room in the last four years (besides the one from Louisiana who knows who she is)? If so, speak now, get it off your chest. Call me a whore.

And if you have nothing to say, then quit sending letters to people I know and accusing me of being a whore.

At most, say I was a whore four years ago. I can’t really argue with that. I have tried to become a better man every day. I had a long way to go, I admit.

But if you have carried this grudge with you for four years, or even four months, if someone has poisoned your mind against me or you are just pissed because I stopped writing you notes, whether because you liked them and I stopped or because you didn’t like them; if you carry on like this and gain such obvious enjoyment out of what you are doing, then your life really wouldn’t have been the same without me, would it?
You pass notes about me like you are in study hall? One of you spies and reports back on me to all the rest of the We Hate Jeffrey Club?
I pity you.

08 November, 2008

Chili season

When I was a child there would come a time in the fall when we would come home from playing on an afternoon and a familiar smell would be permeating the household. My sister would wrinkle her nose and exclaim, “Oh, no, it’s chili season again!”
Chili season was brisk mornings where I could see my breath as I waited for the bus, but it was too hot to wear a jacket on the way home. Chili season was that time of year when the smell of burning logs hung thick in the air as I walked home, shuffling my feet through the crispy, fallen leaves. The squirrels watched me warily to ensure I was not spying the location of their buried treasure as they scrambled to store up the last of the harvest for winter. Chili season was when there was always a pot of chili on the stove or leftovers in the fridge.
There are a lot of things I can say to denigrate my father. Most of them would be colored from my subjective viewpoint, remembered as the powerless child whom I was constantly reminded I was. Many of them, even from an objective viewpoint, would be pretty bad. I try not to think about them. I try not to harbor resentments. I burned that bridge long ago.
Instead, if I think back at all, I try to think of the good things. There were some. I survived my childhood so at least that can be said of the man. He let me live. He also taught me how to hunt and to fish and other manner of woodcraft. Though I don’t use them any longer they did make a good base for my survival skills in the Army and I know they are there should I find the need to fend for myself.
My sister might look back on chili season and, still, wrinkle her nose. But as for me, my fathers chili is one of the things I look back upon with fondness and regret. Cooking was also one of the things he taught me. I enjoyed the time we spent cooking together. It was one of the few times we spent together as I was growing up that he seemed to like how I did things. I was not athletic like Mike and he was not impressed by my academic skills. But I could cook, and that pleased him.
I regret that I did not find more ways to spend quality time with my father, but I have happy memories of afternoons spent preparing the ingredients for chili or a thick hearty stew. I liked cooking for my family and I have always enjoyed it when people enjoy eating what I have prepared for them.
It’s chili season, again. The leaves have finally started falling around here, and I can smell the wood smoke drifting through the neighborhood. I just got back from the store with all the ingredients I need to ring in the season. I don’t speak to my father anymore, but I bet I know what he is doing today.

07 November, 2008

EggEye OhNay IgLatinPay!

I am not completely brilliant, so I have to assume that this language, while surprisingly powerful, is extremely simple in its syntax. Though it is quite picky about white space, it makes it up in its forgiveness of other things. Learning how to pass by reference was sort of a pain, and there are some other things I did in C++ that are not immediately obvious in TCL, but overall it is a great scripting language.
Well, as far as I know. I have only done basic research in Perl or Python or Ruby. But I think I will learn them next semester in my free time. I am purchasing a student edition of the IDE that I use at work. $100 bucks for an integrated development environment that covers pretty much all the scripting languages I could ever hope to play with is a good deal.
I also just downloaded a new version of Visual Studio Professional. Like a grand for that program and I get it for the cost of bandwidth. I love being a student. I also got a full version of MSOffice 2007 Ultimate for $70 bucks. That is like a $600 program. It is amazing what is out there if one looks for it. And all legal. woot woot.
I am not saying I have never downloaded something off of the internet, but I generally go back and get a full version if I like it. I suppose I do have a few hundred megabytes of music that weren’t legally purchased, but I think I have supported the music industry pretty well. Besides, most of the stuff I downloaded was old music. 70s funk et al., and not new stuff. I am not completely innocent, is my point. I just try to be when I think about it.
Anyway…

02 November, 2008

Minor update, minor rant

  • First, I was very sorry to read about Barak’s grandmother. Call me cynical, but I am already pre-pissed off at what I imagine will be a bunch of conservative talking heads whispering about the sympathy vote after we elect our first black president.
  • I am not going to try and do NaNoWriMo. I’m a pussy. I don’t think I’ll have time, and I don’t want to do it for twenty days just to piss out in the last mile. There is just too much stuff at work and I need to get geared up for school next semester. Did I mention I was a pussy?
  • I am in love with dual monitors and, like dual sliding doors on minivans, don’t know how I ever lived without them. Today I got hooked up with them at work as well because I saw some extra CRT monitors laying around. No one wants the old CRTs because they are not as sexy as LCD. Two 20 inch CRTs beat one 19 inch LCD in my book. I am in love with the real estate of the desktop. It comes in so handy when I write code because I can have all my references open at the same time, as well as my telnet sessions.
  • I have been in a really good mood lately. It doesn’t take much to make me laugh. I’m kind of bipolar, I figure, but this part I like.
  • Some people can just suck it. I know that is not very zen of me, but I never thought I would need to use the block capability of being a member. Some people just like to stir up shit, though. It’s not all false, but the true parts are spun pretty hard. And the methodology is just satanic. Hell hath no fury, right? So if you are still here it means
    1. You are a lurker and I don’t know you. You should say hi. I am not going fav only, so you don’t need to be added or anything in order to come here. But it would be nice if you would wave once in a while.
    2. I love you or I respect you or I like reading you or some combination of the three all coupled with my belief you have not tried to fuck me over.
    3. You have been a thorn in my ass, but I either don’t know it so haven’t blocked you or you are logged on as someone else just so you can snoop. Get a life. Or have, better yet, the decency to confront me. I’ve been open and honest as I can right now and given you the opportunity to speak. It is my right as a human to face my accusers, and if you won’t afford me that, then I will do all I can to ignore you.
  • If I have blocked you and you think I shouldn’t have and you have come here under a pseudo-pseudonym, let me know why I was wrong, if you like, and I will happily unblock you. But I will tell you why I blocked you first.
EDIT: Best quote today: Obama, to a crowd that started booing (like at a McCain rally) when he mentioned McCain’s repeated assertions that the economy was fundamentally sound:
“You don’t have to boo. You just have to vote.”

31 October, 2008

Downfall: Pt 1

I have said that in the fall of 2003 up until the fall of 2004 I was pretty well fucked in the head. I am not saying that now I am not, at least a little, but I think I have gotten through the rough patch.
I was actually pretty fucked in the head from about the end of 2002 until the fall of 2003, also.  I just didn’t write about it, for one thing, and for another, my insanity was pretty restricted to a military base.
After they retired me, though, there was really nothing to stop me from sliding off the deep end. I was a hermit, I was married to an enabling and manipulative woman who thought the solution to all of life’s problems involved a good spanking and rough sex. While I did initially merely want to please her, I have to admit there was (and likely is) a part of me that reacted positively with BDSM.
I knew it was a game. It never migrated out of the bedroom; it wasn’t a lifestyle. I also knew that the reason she liked to be submissive in bed was because she was so aggressive, stubborn, and bitchy in real life. And I have to admit that throw down rough and tumble pull your hair and spank your ass monkey sex was an enjoyable way to relieve the frustrations that would build up in our relationship. There were a lot of them.
Part of me always felt it was a bit deviant, and part of the attraction likely came from that. I had always been pretty vanilla. Sort of a boy scout. I am a bit of a feminist when it comes right down to it. But I am lustful. And I think it might be true that men want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed. So, since I looked at women as goddesses on one side of my brain, her wanting me to treat her like a whore found some fertile ground in my imagination.
A large part of me is shamed by this, and I know that using rough sex to mask problems in a relationship is not really a good long term solution. But it seemed the only viable option at th time and, like I said, I was not completely turned off by being the Top.
My life fell apart completely starting in the Summer of 2003. I probably deserved most of it. Not all of it, but I was so devastated by everything else that I couldn’t raise any indignation. I tried desperately to withdraw my forces and defend what I could, but it was no use. I lost everything. My job, my house, my car, my family. I was a broken man. So broken that I had no choice but to go home, in the summer of 2004, to my Father’s house and ask for help. It was grudgingly given, for about a month, in return for chores and ridicule. After the month I was asked to leave because my dad wasn’t getting any from his girlfriend while I was in the house. I had nothing but a crappy little car I had just spent my last dollar on and the money my dad loaned me for a security deposit to a fleabag apartment.
That was the worst time in my life.
I had quit drinking in the fall of 2002. Ironically, that act was a catalyst for much of the rest, but only because I had been self medicating for so long and when (finally admitted how bad it had gotten and) I took the medicine away I got worse. I think my only other option would have been to slowly drink myself to death. I couldn’t deal with the flood of emotions that surfaced when I took away the preferred method of dealing with emotions in my family when I was growing up. I had never learned how to deal with my feelings. I started drinking again in the summer of 2004, because I just didn’t care any more, since I had nothing left to lose, and I didn’t want to feel what I was feeling.
I had started writing to try and sort out my emotions in 2003, after I got retired. I still think that writing might have saved me, because even though it was too late to save that part of my life, it gave me perhaps a firmer foundation on which to rebuild. I probably should have stopped writing when I started drinking, but it was part of my sickness. I was desperate for any living creature to find me worthy, since it was the furthest thought from my mind.

24 October, 2008

Malice

There seems to be some malicious shit going on in my life.  I am not sure how my accounts have been accessed, but it seems they are severely compromised.  I consider myself pretty IPsec savvy, but I am not the sharpest stick in the woodpile, I am sure.  
Maybe something is going on to just make it seem like I have been hacked.   Maybe there is some cult or conspiracy.  I don’t know.  But I am fucking confused.
If I have done something to offend someone then unless you communicate with me there is no way we can resolve it.  Maybe you don’t want resolution; maybe you think you will find happiness by following me around cyberstalking me and sending letters to everyone of my acquaintances that you can find.
I don’t know.  It is my opinion that you probably won’t find happiness that way.  The chances that I harmed you intentionally are pretty slim.  I’m not saying I’ll never do something wrong or stupid.  I will not say I am never going to strike out in anger or strike back in defense, but I generally am a pretty polite person.  I have hurt enough people in my life, and i have no desire to hurt people now. 
Have I said or done something that was inappropriate?  Have I offended you because of something I said or failed to say?  That I did or did not do?
If I owe you an apology, if I have wronged you in some way, I ask that you give me the opportunity to make amends.  I have the ability to admit mistakes.  But how can I do that if I don’t know what I have done?
The harm you do yourself is far greater than the harm you can cause.  You can annoy me, hurt feelings and spread hatred, bitterness, or malice.  You might even be able to access my financial records and play havoc with my identity. 
But that doesn’t change who I am.  If you want to change who I am, you have to help me to understand.  For good or bad, I am still the same man I was whenever I did what I may have done.  But who have you become in order to do these things you are doing?
At least my mistakes are unintentional, and my harm was neither illegal nor malicious.

20 October, 2008

Thin Ice

His inline skates made a quick and rhythmic thump-thump, like the beating of a nervous heart, as they passed over the seams in the sidewalk. My son Calvin and I were going to a nearby park. The brisk morning air smelled strongly of lilac and recently mowed grass. The field near us was alive with the buzzing of bees eager to be the first on their block to taste the freshly blossomed flowers. It was an early morning in April, a time for new beginnings.
I had recently returned from a twelve-month tour in Korea, in which I was not able to take my family. Because of the shortage of personnel, I had not been able to take leave during my tour. My children had changed in my absence. Katja had only been two months old when I deployed, but Calvin had been almost six, old enough to know when something was missing. I do not know whether or not a tree makes a sound if no one is there to hear it, but I do know that kids grow up whether or not we pay attention.
Calvin’s short blond hair stirred in the breeze, the rebellious cowlick continuing to stand straight up, as if his hair was shaking a defiant fist at the wind. I put my hand to the crown of my head, where my hair was cut short and stubbly, like a three-day-old beard. I knew that if I were to let my hair grow out, I would have a cowlick in the exact same place. Calvin had also inherited my lanky frame, and the elbow and knee pads I insisted on hung on him like knots in a rope. His brow was furrowed in concentration as he applied himself to learning how to use the skates I had bought him. I wondered if his determination were another gift that I had given him, and whether he had paid too much for it.
Calvin turned and skated back towards me, flashing me a big smile, full of buckteeth and joy. I smiled back, trying to convey the love and pride that I felt through a smile I had never really learned how to use. Calvin was a happy kid, from what I could see. His mother had done well while I was gone, and he appeared to have gotten on fine without me. I was trying to get to know him again, and I did not think that coming across as an authoritarian would have helped any, so I was quite thankful to find he was still well behaved. I knew of other troops who had come home to find their children had been disciplined with twelve months of ‘wait-til-your-father-get’s-home.’ I was grateful not to have been an instant bad-guy in my son’s eyes, since I was already unsure of my footing in our relationship.

Answers to questions that bother him so

1.  What is my guilty pleasure?
I have to say that sitcoms are probably my guiltiest pleasure.  They offer me very little in the way of intellectual stimulation and I am certain that I could find more productive ways to spend my time.  But I like to laugh, and they have some really good sitcoms out right now.  My favorites are Big Bang Theory and How I met Your Mother.
I must say, though, even the dramas that I like have some humor in them, as any good drama will.  Both House and Bones make me crack up more often than not.
2.  If I could have anything in the world, what would it be?
If I could have anything in the world, it would be an underwater labaratory in the Carribean Sea.  I would only be able to reach it by personal submarine.  I could explore the ocean at my leisure and my computer screensavers would be landscapes instead of oceans.
3.  What is the one thing that terrifies me most?
I am terrified of being a bad person.  I am terrified of having done something so bad I could not be forgiven, and then no one would love me.  I am terrified of not being good enough or smart enough or of working hard enough.  I am terrified of failure.
4.  What is the wierdest thing I do with my food?
I still eat like I am on a mission.  I will consume a whole meal within about 8-10 minutes of sitting down.  I have slowed down, actually.  I am able to eat casually, and the few times I have gone to lunch with my coworkers I was able to eat slowly.  But if I am just consuming sustenance I am a machine.  Keep your fingers away.
5.  Who is my favorite superhero?
Batman.  No contest.  He turned himself into a superhero.  No radiation.  No interstellar ring or genesis.  Just an indomitable will.  Oh, and lots of resources.  But mostly the will.
In real life my brothers, Sean and Michael are my heros.  Both of them have more dedication and drive than  I have ever been able to muster.  I am a slacker in comparison, they work so hard at their dreams.  And yet they both also have loving healthy relationships.  When it comes down to it, I have nothing at all.  Except hope.

Namasté,
Sisyphus

18 October, 2008

I am a bridge burner by nature.
I think it is because I am self aware enough to realize I have a weakness for looking back over my shoulder at the things I wish I had done better / differently / not done at all.  I am self aware enough to see this, I guess, but not self disciplined enough to always stop.  So I remove the possibility of going backwards and so therefor try to motivate myself to move forwards.
I am a loner by nature.
I am not certain if that is how I was born or if it is how I became.  I can see the destructive influences in my earliest childhood relationships in the way I deal with things now.  In short, I probably still have mommy and daddy issues even though I am older than they were when they brought me into this world.  I am older than my father was when he left.  I am older than my mother was when she left.
All the time in the world has not made it to where I can say I know for a certainty, in my heart of hearts, that I am worthy of love.  I know in my brain.  I know in my heart.  But in that deepest part of me, in that little kid who I was thirty five years ago, I’m still not good enough.  And the little kid in me knows this because, if I was, then certainly someone should have loved me. 
The adult me can not seem to convince the child me that I misinterpreted the situation.  I never could listen to authority.
The lack of unconditional love in my life has had two conflicting results, it seems.  On one hand, I try really hard to be good enough to be loved.  It makes me generally a pretty good man and a pretty good mate.  I expect a lot from the people with whom I develop relationships, but I am willing to bring a lot to the table.  On the other hand, though, if I feel neglected, or I feel like I am being treated as though I am not good enough, I will end the relationship.  I would like to say I never look back, but of course I do.
That is why I burn the bridges.
In the end it won’t matter to me how much time or energy I have invested in the relationship.  While I do take it into consideration, I will not fall into the gambler’s fallacy of throwing good money after bad.  I do not believe that, given enough time, any relationship can be made to work.  I accept the possibility, of course, but I am not going to waste my time trying to find out.  There are some things that are just deal breakers.

17 October, 2008

Abuse of power

I am not a team player by nature.  I can, of course, work and play well with others when it suits me.  I never would have lasted a day in the Army if I couldn’t function as a part of a team.  I think that I can function equally well as the lowest member of a team as I can as the leader.
Sometimes I prefer to be just a peon, especially if I don’t feel like I have enough knowledge about the subject.  I have never been one to exert authority just because I could.  I’d rather be led by a private who knew where he was going than a general who was lost.
I don’t like power.  I never craved it like it seemed a lot of my colleagues in the military did.  I don’t like being in charge of other people.  I like taking care of the people under my charge but that is not, I think, the same thing.
I like efficiency.  If there is a job to be done, I just want to get it done.  If the most efficient way is for me to take charge, then I will generally take charge unless there are reasons I cannot.  There are five types of authority, and I will not hesitate to use most of them if they are at my disposal.  Ironically, if I ever have to assert legitimate authority, I feel like I have failed at some point.
Legitimate authority is the authority someone exercises by virtue of their rank or position.  It always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  It is the Father who insists his will must be obeyed ‘because he says so’ rather than teaching the reasons for the rules.  It is the jealous little god that demands worship by threat of punishment rather than deserving it.  It is the sergeant whose only method of leadership is brutal authoritarianism.
All of those things are legal.  All of those leaders are within their rights.  None of them are being followed willingly.  True leadership is motivating your men to do as you wish because they want to.  True leadership is about influence, not authority.  Lao Tzu wrote that the true leader, after all is said and done and his aim fulfilled, his men will say, "We did it ourselves." 

11 October, 2008

Blockbuster can suck it

I must say that I am pleasantly surprised with Netflix.  I have been a diehard Blockbuster fan for quite some time.  Their Total Access package always seemed to give me the best bang for my buck; that was when I lived right down the street from a Blockbuster, back in Independence.  My best friend and part time lover swore that Netflix was a better deal, but I never listened to her.  We had the best of both worlds, anyway.
When I moved to Rolla, it was even sweeter, because they started sending me coupons for a free game twice a month.  And with their ‘no late fees’ I could keep a game for about three weeks before they charged me a restock fee, and I am usually bored with a game in that time, anyway.  By then I was ready to get another game.  It was nice.
I never would have thought that Huntsville would be worse off than Rolla in anything other than crime and traffic.  I was shocked when I saw that in all of the metropolitan area there were only two Blockbusters from which to choose.  And the one in Madison (still a twenty minute drive but the closest one) had such a sorry selection of Blu-Ray movies that I thought I was back in 2002.  And this franchise doesn’t offer any of the perks to which I had grown accustomed.
Add that to the fact my car is on it’s last lug nut, and Blockbuster seemed less and less attractive.
So, I decided to give Netflix a try.  I knew they let you stream movies to the computer, but I figured the quality must suffer.  I was willing to check it out, though, since I have pretty large monitors and the trial was free.  I wouldn’t want to watch movies on a regular sized monitor.  Though I used to watch the Colbert Report and the Daily show on my little iPAQ, they were mostly dialogue.  I need to be able to see the screen to enjoy a movie.
So I signed up, and I was shocked to find out just how good the quality of the downloads are.  And fast.  Literally within seconds of me downloading the viewer (it is Windows Media Player based) I was watching a series from Sci-Fi called Surface that caught my eye.  The quality seems better than my Tivo.  I don’t know if it is because my Tivo has to translate to analog or not, but I do know that I was impressed with Netflix.
Their Blu-ray selection is better than Blockbuster, I think, and their website runs much better, faster, and smoother.  And the selection of downloadable movies and television series I get is incredible.  I get all of that plus three movies at a time in the mail for only 15 bucks or so.  A much better value, and way more convenient than driving to blockbuster to trade in my mailers for in-store selections.
Now, instead of multitasking with my laptop in front of the TV (sitcoms are great, but they don’t require ALL of my brain) I can work at the desktop on one monitor while I have a show playing on the other.  I have already watched all of the first season of Jericho and I am starting on Dead Like Me.  
I was warned in advance that not all the episodes of every series are available for download, and it was nice to see that Netflix warned me also.  It was an easy fix to order the remainder to be delivered.  Netflix in the mail is also faster than Blockbuster, so I will have them before I get done with the first part of the season.  Even if I am a dedicated slacker.
Now if they would just let me stream to my PS3.  I could stream to an XBox, which I don’t have, or there is a device I could purchase for another 100 bucks, but I will wait and see.  I could get movies from Amazon on my Tivo, but the deal is kind of a rip-off,comparatively.  For now I am very happy with the entertainment value I can get from Netflix.
Namasté,
Sisyphus
Sisyphus was not compensated for this entry in any way.

10 October, 2008

Stepping lightly o’er the rubble
Walls and monuments, and dreams
Brought down by friend or foe?
As if it mattered.
The dying mens’ screams
Give voice to the silent recrimination
Of the landscape, tattered
As the vision of hope
In a condemned man’s eyes.

   -JS McAnarney, 2008

05 October, 2008

Say my name!

I love having interesting problems to solve.  There is nothing quite like the feeling I get when I finally get a piece of code working the way I want it to work. 
Nerdgasmic
I have learned a few new languages lately (TCL and Expect), and they are surprisingly versatile.
I don’t get a lot of time to fiddle with automation code at work because there are things that need to get done, so I do it in my free time.  I have been having trouble getting a script to work that cleared all the MAC addresses out of the ports of a card.
Right now, they use a menu driven front-end that requires you to clear each port manually. 
That is two key presses.  Not a lot if you only want to clear out one port.
I have almost 400 ports that are terminated.  They have to be cleared each time I want to build a new emulation.  That is a lot of wasted key presses.
I could go get a cup of coffee in that time.
So I’ve been working on a script that drives the menu application.  I don’t have the source code.  But I can use a nifty little language called Expect to ‘press’ the keys for me, and I can use TCL to loop it through as many ports as I want.
While I go get my coffee.
I had everything working except the transition from card to card.  I have twelve cards.  I could run the script twelve times, and it would work fine, but thats 24 key presses.
So I fiddle with it, and I fiddle with it, and I try different tricks and and I finally had a breakthrough.  Starting tomorrow I will never manually clear the MAC addresses ever the hell again. 
Rise up against tyrannical keystrokes!  Today is our Independence Day!
On to the next puzzle.  Maybe some more coffee first…
Namasté,
Sisyphus
  Victory is Mine!    --Stewy
I don’t know if I can trust you.  If I can’t, please do me a favor and leave me alone.  But if I can’t trust you, you are probably not the kind of person to leave, are you?
I spent my life making walls.  But if  I make it impossible for the enemy to get in, I make it hard for me to get out.
I have tried very hard to tear down the walls I spent a lifetime building.  Emotionally, in many ways, I am still a child.  An idiot savant, perhaps, but a child nonetheless.
I don’t want to be alone behind my walls.  I am not always appropriate when I venture forth.  But I try to be a decent man.
Namasté,
Sisyphus

Out of damp and gloomy days, out of solitude,
Out of loveless words directed at us, conclusions grow up in us like fungus:
One morning they are there, we know not how, and they gaze upon us, morose and gray.
Woe to the thinker who is not the gardener but only the soil of the plants that grow in him.
—Friedrich Nietzsche
 
Dragging behind you the silent reproach
of a million tear stained eyes
Don’t be surprised when a crack in the ice
appears under your feet

Thin Ice, Pink Floyd
  1. I don’t need anyone to take my side.  My life has been a long string of being alone with short periods of being together interspersed just often enough that I cannot be classified as a complete hermit.  I can take care of myself.  When I come on here to rant, which happens pretty seldomly, comparatively, I don’t need anyone to take sides.  I can only give my side of the story, and it is colored with my perceptions.  And I am usually pissed when I write it.  I am here to rant, not for sympathy or to make allegiances.
  2. I really don’t need anyone to go and harass any one else on my account, for any reason whatsoever.  I am not sure why anyone would do this, but I hope no one would ever do it in my name and think that that I’d appreciate it.  I don’t need anyone to take my word alone and act like it is the only version of the truth and give anyone else shit on my hearsay.
  3. And I really, really don’t fucking need anyone to try and commiserate with both sides of any conflict I write about.  I’m not talking about trying to get both sides (which is admirable), I’m talking about backstabbers.  Who the fuck tries to take both sides of an argument?  I understand that there are people who thrive on drama and stir up as much shit as they can, but I really didn’t think that people like that would be interested in reading my diary.  I hope they understand when I don’t invite them back.
  4. If anyone thought I was a shitheel, I am not gonna say that I am not (because I know me better than you) but why in the hell would someone hang around the diary of a person whom they thought was not a good person?  Don’t wait until it would hurt the most to call me a shitheel.  Say it when you figure it out and then go away.   Gods know I won’t try and stop you.

Sisyphus

03 October, 2008

Really?!?

Fucking backstabbing whoremongering bootlicking cocksuking motherfucking shiteating worthless piles of dungrolling maggot infested crotch grabbing ass munching syphilitic emotional lepers.
Namasté,
Sisyphus
Namasté, of course, means that the light in me bows to the light in you.  However, sometimes the Shadow in me wants to bitch slap the Shadow in some of you.
This whole passive aggressive thing is really annoying.
Yeah?  You wanna try just aggressive?
~~Detective Jo Lupo, Eureka
Been to the high, I’ve been to the low
And I’ve been to lots of places that I didn’t wanna go
But I ain’t see nothing to get me off my ass
And I laughed at all the jokers wanna make me walk on glass
I could walk ‘fore I could crawl
And I was meaner than a bad dog with his back against the wall
Meanstreak, AC/DC

Though Newton is best known for his quantification of the force of gravity, it is his development of Calculus that really impresses me. He developed an entire system of mathematics in order to more accurately model the universe.
That’s all that mathematics is, of course. It is a way to model the universe in order to make both records and predictions. The predictive analysis part is fascinating, but it is really the recording part that led (and leads) to all the rest.
The purpose of predictive analysis, of course, is to answer the question, "How do we get there from here?" But first we have to answer the question, "Where are we right now?"  And, of course, in order to answer that, we have to investigate from where we came.
This doesn’t mean we have to know the absolute beginning in order to begin. For instance, the Big Bang Theory gives us the ability to understand our place in the Universe even if it doesn’t answer the penultimate question. But we do have to pay attention to the way things are right now until we can discover a pattern.
Even the identity matrix doesn't work normally
It is this pattern which allows us to make predictions of varying degrees of accuracy about the future. The accuracy depends on the strength and continuity of the pattern we have discerned. We model a particular system through mathematics, thought experiments, or other, and then we can develop theories.  If we can use our theory to accurately predict the future, then we have a reasonable assurance that we have accurately modelled that particular system within those particular constraints. 
That is why we must pay close attention to the world around us.  That is why we must pay attention to history.  That is why, for instance, the argument that the cause of global warming is not important is foolish beyond belief.  We have to understand how we got here in order to figure out how to get out.  Without understanding cause and effect, we run the risk of using a cure that is worse than the illness.  Mathematics is a useful tool we can use to help us define a pattern.  Though it is not the only tool it is the one with the clearest rules.
A differential equation, to be solvable, has to be (among other things) continuous on the interval in which we are interested. As with most mortals , I am primarily concerned with the interval between my birth and death. My life has not been lived with mathematical precision. I have not been continuous.
Gandhi said that happiness is when what we think, what we feel, and what we do are in harmony. When I live parts of my life like that, then I consider myself continuous on that interval. Most of my life I have been in conflict with myself. I am not alone in this. The only examples of people who have been continuous their whole life I can find are in fiction: John Galt and Howard Rourke (from The Fountainhead).
When I am not in harmony I am not continuous. It makes me unpredictable.  I am being pulled in multiple directions instead of driving myself towards my goal.  My course corrections, as I vacillate between the conflicting parts of my personality, are great wastes of time and energy.  It is much more efficient to spend a little time to bring myself into harmony before acting.
I cannot go backwards in time and change my behavior, but I try to change the present in order to create the future I desire.  Ironically, I have a tendency to dwell on the past which interferes with my ability to create the future.  Of all the bad habits I have left, that is the one I most desire to conquer.  When I find myself off track, I try to get back on track as quickly as possible. 
Today is the last day of the first of my life.

Namasté,
Sisyphus
Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today
–Cherokee Proverb
 
Well, I’m here to tell you now each and ev’ry mothers son.
You better learn it fast; you better learn it young,
‘Cause, someday never comes.
Someday Never ComesCreedence Clearwater Revival

01 October, 2008

There are 10 kinds of people in the world

…those who know binary and those who don’t.
I haven’t been to work in a couple of days.  I have felt like shit both emotionally and physically, so I took advantage of the sick days I have earned.  Well, I also took advantage of the sick days I will earn, since I have gone in the hole.
I got a secure VPN packet from work so I could work from home, but it seemed to slow my whole system down.  I have never liked Norton, and my hard drive was starting to make funny noises.  I rolled back my system to a few days ago and I used my Tune-Up utilities (best 30 bucks I ever spent) to clear out all the gunk and do a thorough check of my physical system.
Well, that screwed up my MBR, I think, when Windows started messing with my hard drives FAT tables.  Because, after I did this, it wouldn’t let me boot into Linux at all.  And, not only that, it didn’t want to boot into Windows.  So I thought I would just do a clean reinstall of both systems.
I keep most of my particular files (music, documents, etc) on a separate hard disk.  If I ever feel the need to do a clean wipe of my whole system and rebuild it from scratch, I can easily do it without losing too much data.
But when I reinstalled, my monitor kept shutting down as soon as I loaded the drivers for it.  When I moved to LCD, I gave away my old CRT monitor, as well as the VGA cables.  The LCD monitor has VGA inputs, but I couldn’t troubleshoot the problem using those without a cable.
I put in an old card that had HDMI output, and the same thing happened.  So it could either be the HDMI cable or the monitor, or (god forbid) the mother board.  I tried to hook the computer up to the TV with an HDMI-DVI converter cable, but couldn’t get a picture.