July 29, 2003

Is anyone reading this?

It seems to be a pretty common question on the web today. A quick search on google finds approximately 2,130 people asking the same question. I've only ever seen two comments and one e-mail from people I didn't know who somehow found my blog. A lot of blog writers say they wouldn't be writing if no one was reading what they wrote. I think they're lying. So for some of the curious 2,130 I offer the following feedback:

No, no, a plurality say no, definitely no, 100% certainly YES, um maybe, Oprah did, Volunteer Alligators read it, they should, they shouldn't, no, no, Magic 8 Ball says "Ask again later", I wouldn't exactly call it reading, only people on planet Yousloperad, just me, only fictitious people, no, no, no, and dude, no.

Finally, if someone replies then the answer is YES

Bonus Question: Is Kibo reading this?

Posted by thom at 03:53 PM | Comments (3)

July 28, 2003

The Adam Smith of Our Time

If you give a man a fish, you will feed him for the day. If you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime and generations beyond. Or you can lend a man a fish, in which case he will owe you a debt of gratitude - as well as the fish. And if you charge him a rate of interest, you'll have to send a loan shark after him.

Joe Frank, "Escape from Paradise"

Posted by thom at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2003

Nerd Angst

Hello, my name is Thom, and I am a nerd. The past day or two I've been indulging my interests in the Scheme programming language and Unix/Linux at the same time with the very nice unix shell, scsh (SCheme SHell). While reading the documentation I stumbled across the following nerd-angst gem:

Who should I thank? My so-called "colleagues," who laugh at me behind my back, all the while becoming famous on my work? My worthless graduate students, whose computer skills appear to be limited to downloading bitmaps off of netnews? My parents, who are still waiting for me to quit "fooling around with computers," go to med school, and become a radiologist? My department chairman, a manager who gives one new insight into and sympathy for disgruntled postal workers?

My God, no one could blame me -- no one! -- if I went off the edge and just lost it completely one day. I couldn't get through the day as it is without the Prozac and Jack Daniels I keep on the shelf, behind my Tops-20 JSYS manuals. I start getting the shakes real bad around 10am, right before my advisor meetings. A 10 oz. Jack 'n Zac helps me get through the meetings without one of my students winding up with his severed head in a bowling-ball bag. They look at me funny; they think I twitch a lot. I'm not twitching. I'm controlling my impulse to snag my 9mm Sig-Sauer out from my day-pack and make a few strong points about the quality of undergraduate education in Amerika.

If I thought anyone cared, if I thought anyone would even be reading this, I'd probably make an effort to keep up appearances until the last possible moment. But no one does, and no one will. So I can pretty much say exactly what I think.

Oh, yes, the acknowledgements. I think not. I did it. I did it all, by myself.

Olin Shivers
September 4, 1994

Posted by thom at 12:03 PM | Comments (1)

A Tincture of What?

Fred has a new blog! It's the same as the old blog. Actually, I found out about it in March but it sort of, um, got buried under stuff. Sorry about that, Fred. In other news: PETUNIA!

Posted by thom at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2003

General Kookiness

I took a nap today and dreamt I was late to a wedding. I don't know why since I haven't been to a wedding in ages nor am I going to a wedding anytime that I know of. Brains just do crazy stuff sometimes.

Posted by thom at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2003

"You want us to play where?"

General Custer's last soccer game.

Posted by thom at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2003

Farewell, Belmont!

Farewell, Belmont! Well, I'm almost done packing up everything. All that I've collected over the years fits into roughly 40 boxes. Those fit into my 10x20 storage space. The next task is to break down the computer and not lose any cables or odds and ends. When I look at everything piled up in the corner of the apartment it feels like precious treasure one instant and worthless crap the next - like a Necker Cube made out of boxes of my junk.

While putting papers away I found an old memo from my first programming job, Cubicomp. The marketing department was throwing a big party during the SIGGraph convention for the launch of the new version of our product and was inviting all our important customers. They had a budget of something like $150,000 and had rented a very posh restaurant in San Francisco for the event. Us engineers, who the marketing department found suspiciously off-beat, had planned our own party that same week. We were having it in a hotel conference room that did double duty during the day as the Cubicomp demo suite. Our budget: $500 for beer. When us engineers heard about the marketing party (held a few days earlier) and its lavish budget our first question was, "Can we go?"

When we asked the head of marketing he got this funny expression on his face that just said, "We never thought about you strange technical types coming to the party. What if you scare the customers?" They said they'd get back to us on that one and we went back to programming. A rumor started circulating that it was going to be okay for us to go, but that marketing was going to distribute a memo detailing what constituted acceptable behavior. Us engineers felt miffed that they didn't think we could manage to act normal without some guidelines. So we wrote the following pre-emptive memo detailing proper behavior for the Engineering party:

TO: Distribution
FROM: R&D (Research & Development)
SUBJECT: Siggraph R&D Party!

In keeping with company policy, we here in R&D feel obligated to set forth the following guidelines. We hope none of these will put a crimp in your festive spirits...

  1. Can't say:
    • "Bottom Line"/"Pipeline" (Lines are okay)
    • "Upshot"
    • "Out the door"
    • "Net Result"/"End Result"
    • "Projections"
    • or any word starting in "Poly-" or ending in "-cad"
  2. Can say:
    • "All right, Dude!"
    • "Spark it up..."
    • "Let's party"
    • "Motel"
    • "It's NEW!!!"
    • "Shotgun Wedding"
    • and the word "Hot" in any context.
  3. The ill-advised will be asked to leave.
  4. Impure thoughts will be frowned upon.
  5. NO squealing like pigs.
  6. NO hallucinations that infringe on the festivities of others.
  7. Nudity MUST be kept in good taste.
  8. No lapsing into song.
  9. No mandrills or tanks.

All willing to follow the above guidelines are welcome and encouraged to attend.

The marketing acceptable-behavior memo never materialized.

Well, time to take the computers apart. God only knows when I'll be back online. Until then have a nice day.

Posted by thom at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2003

Buck Passing on Internet Time

It sounds like the neocons really are running the government like a business.

The Pentagon group insisted on doing it its way because it had a visionary strategy that it hoped would transform Iraq into an ally of Israel, remove a potential threat to the Persian Gulf oil trade and encircle Iran with U.S. friends and allies. The problem was that officials at the State Department and CIA thought the vision was badly flawed and impractical, so the Pentagon planners simply excluded their rivals from involvement.

The current strategy of the Whitehouse? "Move along! Nothing to see here..."

Posted by thom at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

My Dinner with Bobby

I went to dinner with my old friend Bobby tonight. I had spent all day moving boxes from my old, small storage space to my new, bigger storage space. I was tired and traffic was a mess so I decided it would be nice to take the train. I wouldn't have to pay attention or worry about getting in an accident. I could just relax.

During the ride I realized I spend too much time thinking about how to get someplace and not enough time figuring out why I'm going there. I felt tired so I got a quick catnap. Dinner went fine, and me and bobby said goodnight.

"What time is the next train?"

"I didn't look. They run every hour, so in the worst case I have to wait an hour."

We said goodbye and I start walking towards the train station. As it came into view I see a train waiting at the station about to leave. It was too far to run, I'd never make it, so I just started praying: please don't be the northbound train, please don't be the northbound train. An instant later the train pulls out of the station - heading north. I had my worst case scenario.

I checked the train schedule on the platform. The next train is two hours - I had discovered an even-worse case scenario. Thus I had even more time to think about why I was going where I was. This night has gone like the rest of my life: I didn't plan ahead believing everything would work out okay only to find myself alone on the platform waiting for the train.

I read once that as you get older and look back at your life, what seemed like random, unimportant events at the time start to look like life changing moments - like critical plot elements in a story. You realize your life reads like a book written by some unseen author. Unrelated aspects of your life interact and take on new meaning. You see your whole life becoming greater than the sum of your days. Unfortunately, I don't see that yet. My life still seems a jumble of mistakes, pleasant memories, and regrets. On the bright side, that hopefully means I'm still younger than I usually feel.

Then it hits me why I am going home. To make a plan. To find inspiration. To escape my self-imposed solitude. To rediscover a love* I had so long taken for granted I sometimes forgot it was there. This is why I am going home. To prepare to write the story of the rest of my life.

* No, not an old flame. The love of my family. I guess I should fix this up somehow to make it obvious.

Posted by thom at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2003

Ah! So that's the catch...

Thank God I'm an idiot...

Posted by thom at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

Some Friday Silliness!

Google has smiled upon me and made my page the number one result on searches for the term "The North American Man-Alligator Love Association". See my earlier post if you don't get the joke.

In a related item: Looking at my web logs I discovered I am also result #11 for searches on the term "blowjob goddess". That's a pretty good ranking considdering I just mentioned the phrase in passing a few days ago. I get the feeling I am going to have some very confused male visitors to my blog over the next few days.

Update: I would have thought I'd also rank high in the results for searches on "Alligator Blowjob Goddess" too, but I'm not even listed. My friend said, "It looks like you have way too much free time on your hands." Apparently.

Another Update: Tonight another friend said to me (paraphrasing), "If you could make money being an idiot, you'd be rich!" Unfortunately, George Bush already got the job.

Search Engines are popular with weird people.

Posted by thom at 09:24 AM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2003


The week is quickly coming to a close, which means I have to finish up packing my life's belongings into cardboard boxes. On Monday I move most of the boxes into storage. Then on Tuesday I drive to the ancestral home (i.e. I'm moving back in with Mom for a while). It'll be nice to spend time with family. For the past ten years I've only seen my mom and brother a few times a year at most, so over the next few months I'll be trying to make up for lost time.

As nice as it will be, being 39, unemployed, and one step ahead of homeless isn't very fun. I might even have to do some reflecting on how I got where I am and where I want to go from here - which is never really any fun unless you've just won the lottery or are Bill Gates. As my career has progressed and my income increased the control I've had over my work environments has decreased. One of my father's favorite books was The Peter Principal, whose premise was that organizations tend to promote people until they reach their level of incompetence. Once there they tenaciously entrench themselves by zealously protecting their equally incompetent bosses. They then proceed to drain the company of resources through executive bonus programs until only an empty husk of a once healthy enterprise remains. Fortunately this only works during the boom times when there is lots of extra money floating around to skim from. Once the boom is over they suddenly find themselves in an alien universe - one where they are actually expected to fix problems and make money instead of simply shifting blame and cashing in stock options.

Which bring us back to today. Recessions aren't any fun at all, but they serve an invaluable function: They weed out the incompetent and open up new opportunities for those who secretly believe they are smarter than their boss. I believe I'm in the latter category (okay, I might fall into both categories). I have some ideas that I want to develop further — hopefully some downtime will give me a chance to do that.

Posted by thom at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2003

Perchance to Dream...

I had a dream last night.

I was walking down the street when I turned the corner and noticed a chalk outline of a man and a woman on the sidewalk. (There was also an outline of a donut - one of them must have been a cop.) My eye was drawn to the silhouette of their outstretched hands. I wondered if they reached out to each other in their final moments or perhaps they were letting go. I couldn't tell. As I regarded the sad, dusty scene a summer breeze embraced me. I could see the outlines had already begun to fade in the dry wind. When the first gentle rain came it would wash away any remaining trace of the hapless lovers. I wished the couple that was no more well, and hoped the rain would also wash away any bitterness or regrets so only the memory of the love they felt remained. I looked up at the sky and noticed it seemed more beautiful than before - unchanged but yet transformed. I didn't want to leave this silent memorial to a love lost, but I realized that there was nothing I could do. So I began to walk - taking my first steps into the unknown.

Posted by thom at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2003

My first one-handed blog entry!

No! It's not what you're thinking. I was packing stuff up - removing double-sided tape from some photos I had on my wall. I was rubbing the leftover sticky stuff from the back with my finger. After 2 or 3 photos I notice I've managed to give myself a huge blister on my fingertip. So I decided to use a razor blade instead to scrape the tape off. One thoughtless moment and SLICE! Now I sit here, with a tourniquet on my finger, typing this. What a crappy day. I've decided to stop packing for now.

UPDATE: My finger has fallen off. Just kidding. The bleeding has stopped and now I can type with 9 fingers.

Posted by thom at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2003

Waiting for Me? Oh joy!

I recieved the following spam:

After you read this you are going to go out tonight and have the best time of your life...If you want to get out and have a great time with exactly the kind of person that you're looking for then you have to come to the right place. Guys and girls, make the selection of your choice of thousands of available mates who are sitting behind their computer screen right now just waiting for someone like you to contact them. Within minutes our automated system can have your engagement set up and have you on your way to the greatest night of your life.

If only it were that easy... *sigh*

Posted by thom at 04:53 PM | Comments (2)

Some days suck more than others...


...and others suck more than those.

Posted by thom at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

July 04, 2003

Kangaroos Strike Back!

Beware of kangaroos looking for some payback.

In a completely unrelated item: Wildlife is now required to first seek building permits before any construction can proceed. If the beavers are fined $10,000 for not getting a permit they can probably borrow it from these guys.

If you need to fill out a job application then you should read this first.

I saw this item in the paper and thought it was serious. It's not true. Apparently, actually checking to see if a story is true or not isn't something news organizations do anymore. Too bad this story isn't true.

A sad sign of the times: No one knows what the Congressional Medal of Honor looks like - not even airport security guards.

With friends like these, who needs epitaphs? Actually, it sounds like it's perfect for this guy.

If you get bored you can search for stealth porn on ebay.

I was very disappointed to learn this isn't true. I am however intrigued by the "Secret Blowjob Goddess Society". All this blogging is making me tired. *YAWN*

Did you know that mustard and ketchup cause insanity?

Three words: Gross! Gross! Gross!

"Not everything is too weird to be true." Amen, brother. Amen.

p.s. They're watching you.

Posted by thom at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2003

Making it up as they go along

Do frivolous lawsuits sometimes win big jury awards? Yes. Does it happen often enough that you don't need to make up ficticious examples? Apparently not.

Posted by thom at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2003

Lip Service

Two Words: Go Army! In a related item, we now know that the WMD were deleted from the Iraqi server before the war.

Posted by thom at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)