November 02, 2000
As has certainly become obvious by now, I haven't been very good about updating my website. I have an excuse: it takes a while to hand code each page (even when I'm working from a template), and so I keep putting it off. The next thing you know, four months have gone by since the last update.
At about the same time as I starting thinking about a new way of pursuing updates to my website ("wouldn't it be cool if I had a form where I could just type in my essay of the week"), I encountered Jehan Semper's "geek diaries" (http://www.thegeekdiaries.com). Jehan had set her web site up in a very cool format, and was obviously automating a lot of the content.
As it so happens (tee hee), we now work together, and she was very recently kind enough to share her code with me. And, so, you now see before you my new and improved House of Cards. (Thanks, Jehan!)
Check back frequently for updates. You might be surprised at what you find. :)
November 03, 2000
My novel is taking shape. I just recently passed the 70,000 word milestone. Alas, I'm still fleshing out some major events in the second act, and there's also still work to do on the first act! For a while now, I've been convinced that this project is going to produce a fairly large manuscript.
During critique yesterday, a few of my compatriots suggested that I consider making the story-line I've written so far into the novel, and that I pursue the story arcs that were supposed to wait for the third act, later. (For example, put them into a sequel.) This is a little bit of a bummer. In many ways, the first portion of the book was created as a life support system for the themes I wanted to hit in the second portion. But, the general consensus is that what I have is meaty enough on its own.
So, I've been wrestling with the idea. We'll see. Focusing on the material I've already written could make for a tighter novel... but it also changes the scope (and, likely, the target market as well). Hmmm.
November 06, 2000
Meg and I went to high school together (along with about 300 other kids in our class, I think), and we used to lament to each other about how The System seemed geared toward Conformity. The System was designed to squash all creativity and individuality, turning out cookie cutter people who thought and acted in the same way.
We hated it.
Recently, I've been reading over old journals (a few of my characters in The Do Over are school-aged, and I'm trying to get their voices right), and it's stunning to realize just how seriously I (and, I asssume, we all) took everything. Jeez, kiddo! Lighten up!
Except, on a day like today, as I ponder issues with my job and with my quality of life, I wonder: were we really so far off the mark back then? I don't think the fear of becoming another cog in the wheel ever left, but we certainly don't articulate it much these days.
Hey, Meg. Did you ever find any answers? I could sure use them right now.
They want me to wear a *%$# pager.
November 07, 2000
I've traditionally encouraged everyone I know to vote. I realize now, much to late, that this was a bad idea.
I mean... look at who we've elected? Clearly, someone out there has not only cancelled out my vote, but then someone else has gone and tipped the balance in the other (wrong) direction.
So, I have a new policy this year. I'm encouraging everyone not to vote. Please. You know you don't pay any attention anyway. You know that it won't make any difference which way you vote. So, stay at home. Don't bother. I'm only going to cancel out your dumb vote, anyway.
And, you *know* it's true. Especially if you've voted for people who ended up winning. Did they go on to do anything worthwhile? No.
Take it from me: democracy is a bad idea. If your state has referenda, vote "no" on all of them (if you vote at all). Better yet, just don't vote. You'll be glad you didn't -- and, so will I.
November 08, 2000
You heard it here, first.
No matter who ends up "winning" the current Presidential election, eventually both Al Gore and George W. Bush will serve in the Oval Office. This is certain. Odds are, the one who does not "win" this year's election will end up winning in '04 or '08. He'll win in '12 at the latest. Mark my words.
Because of the closeness of this election, I expect a lot more political participation and heated exchanges among even those who have been politically apathetic for the past decade. Passions will be ignited. Whoever claims victory this year will undoubtedly come under extremely heavy fire as a cheat and a fraud who is backed by some unscrupulous, unsavory characters. (nevermind that this is almost certainly true, regardless, of both candidates :).
In other exciting world news... has anyone tried that green ketchup from Heinz, yet?
November 09, 2000
Hi, gang. This is an open letter from me to you.
What do you want for Christmas? Give me some ideas. My family used to put together little starter lists to give people hints as to the kinds of gifts that might go over particularly well. (Of course, I always listed a new supercomputer, but noone ever got me one. Oh, well.)
So, it's getting to be that time of year again, and my Mom (hi, Mom!) recently sent out a request for suggestions again. Lucky me, I've been building such a list all this time. The wish list I've been putting together on my Amazon account happens to double as a handy dandy "here are gift ideas!" list. When I see something I'd like to buy for myself down the road, I add it to the wish list. And, those handy little things can be set to be viewable by others.
Why do I mention this? No, it's not *just* a shameless plug for presents. (although, no reasonable presents will be refused.) Rather, I'm motivated by one simple thing:
YOU PEOPLE ARE HARD TO SHOP FOR!
There's nothing selfish about giving me a hint as to what kinds of things you might like, you know. Help me out, here! Lemme know what you want for Christmas. Amazon, CDNow, and I'm sure many other on-line stores have excellent little "wish list" features. Use 'em!
November 13, 2000
I spent this past weekend at a stand-up comedy workshop as a part of my never-ending quest to be a well-rounded public speaking kinda guy. The ten of us who took the workshop will be trying out our newly honed skills at Giggles Comedy Club in downtown Seattle on Mondaythe 20th.
Details have yet to be firmed up, but I think the show will start at 8pm. There may or may not be a cover charge (but, if there *is*, it'll be a cheap cover, lemme tell ya). Everyone at the workshop was quite good, and I'm given to understand that we may have past graduates also come by to perform. Of the 50 or so people who have taken this workshop in the past four years, 15 or so are now working as stand-up comedians. They get paid for this stuff on a regular basis. Ain't that cool?
I'm proud to say that my goals are much more humble.
If you'd like to cheer me on during this scary endeavor (or, cheer me up afterwards), please come on by.
November 14, 2000
I was tooling around the "Friends and Family" portion of the Amazon site when I chanced upon Jehan Semper's entry. (Jehan created the software that enables me to easily update this website, so be nice to her.)
It turns out that she's posted one product review, which has received a few postive responses, and then the site gave her "review ranking." I then flipped back to my page, noticed that I'd posted four reviews, got twice as many positive responses as she had, but my review ranking was way lower! Unfair!
Too bad I'm so competitive. Now, I'm going to have to go ahead and review more products, just to try to up my review score.
I was once told that I would do the most amount of work for the least amount of money, given the chance. Here, Amazon has me writing reviews for free, all because of that silly ranking system. Sheesh.
November 16, 2000
Remember how the commie pinko liberals among us call or have called the '80's the Decade of Greed. Well, my friends, allow me to set the record straight.
The 90's will ultimately be remembered as the decade of greed. While philanthropy (both as an absolute dollar value and as a percentage of income) was up in the 80's, the 90's marked a particularly dark corner in the American psyche. This is nowhere more apparent than in the high tech sector, where young "players" in the stock market speculated wildly on the dot com stocks and college grads with comp. sci. degrees hopped from job to job based solely upon the salary and -- more importantly -- the all-important stock option grant.
When I write my book called "Dot Com", it will feature these catch-phrases that typify life in the high tech industry in the waning days of the 20th century:
"Yes, but how'd the stock do?"
"But, how'd the stock do?"
"They did what? How'd the stock do?"
As the market continues to correct itself, and the day traders are losing their shirts, it becomes all the more obvious just how much the "gimme" attitudes of the 90's are leading us (as a nation) into some hard times ahead.
And, more to the point, I didn't get to participate in any of that ephemeral success. Bummer.
November 21, 2000
A funny thing happened on the way to the improv.
Giggles Comedy club was supposed to be open last night so that a bunch of us who had taken a comedy workshop could try out our newly honed stand-up skills. The owner had even been overheard talking up our pending performance. But, the time of the show arrived, and the owner of Giggle's hadn't.
Which is to say... performers and audience were all dressed up with no place to go. So, our fearless leader (David Goldman) called his buddy at the Comedy Underground downtown and got us on the bill there.
So, we all drove down and faced a very different kind of crowd. Nonetheless, we perservered (sp?), we all did well, and I now have a new kind of experience under my belt. Not quite as exhilerating (or anywhere near as fun) as bungie jumping, but worthwhile nonetheless. I reckon that I was no better or worse last night than I'd been at my first gig as announcer for the marching band back in college... which is to say, I was nowhere near the level I'd have liked to have hit. But, still. Gotta start somewhere, eh?
In other news... I'm not quitting my day job.
November 24, 2000
Saw the movie "Unbreakable" today. Loved it. I highly recommend it.
Go see it and drop me a line, and let's chat about it. I'd love to tell you more now, but I don't want to give you any preconceived notions before you go in.
PS: Have you seen Presumed Innocent yet? The wife did it.
November 26, 2000
Never underestimate the power of chocolate pudding.
7/8 cup white sugar
2 1/2T corn starch
1/8t salt (ie, a pinch)
2/3 cup Ghirardelli's semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup Ghirardelli's double chocolate chips
1 square Baker's unsweetened chocolate
2 cups milk
2t vanilla extract (mexican vanilla, if at all possible)
Mix egg and milk in a bowl thoroughly.
In a non-stick pot, combine sugar, corn starch, and salt. and mix thoroughly.
Add milk, egg, chocolate to pot and stir. Note: the sugar will not dissolve (yet).
Apply heat... between medium & medium high.
Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla and stir some more.
Serve and eat hot with a biiig glass of milk. Makes 4 very huge servings, or 6 normal servings.
*Try Ghirardelli's milk-chocolate instead of double chocolate chips.
*for Vanilla pudding, delete chocolate and increase corn starch to 3T.
*Quality of vanilla is very important, so get the good stuff. Mexican vanilla is the best, if you happen to know anyone who's been to Mexico lately.
*You might also try adding a pinch of cinnamon (if you're not using Mexican vanilla, that is. We think that might be the secret ingredient of Mexican vanilla, but we're not certain).
Special thanks to Alan Erickson, who taught me his recipe.
November 30, 2000
Wanna see what I'm up to these days? Check out the Wireless Store at Amazon.com.
In other news, the novel is flailing. Flail, goes the novel. See the novel flail? Flail, novel, flail.
Oh, and there's one more thing I needed to mention. A bunch of us at work went out for dinner a couple nights ago, and one of the gang mentioned that he used to work as a chef at a restaurant. Turns out that if a steak is somehow not quite up to snuff, it gets thrown into a pile called "save for well done." The "save for well done" pile is the skankiest steak that they have that may still be fit to serve humans, because they figure (correctly) that less-than-choice meat will be less noticeable once it's charred, and very very noticeable if it's served less-so. People who really enjoy their steak tend to order it medium rare or so.
So, if you order your steak well done... you're getting skanky meat. Just thought you'd like to know.
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