The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Wednesday, November 01, 2000

Updates

Yes, I realize the journal has been lacking. Yes, I need to make updates. And yes, I have notes for the past month. I'll be slowly updating the previous entries. It'll just take some time.

And I should have plenty of time at this new job of mine.


I've heard of red tape, but blue tape?

I noticed blue masking tape placed around the florescent lights at The Company. Not everywhere, but in enough places to pique my interest.

In my office, there is no tape.

Hmmmmm …


Blue Tape Incidents

Found out what the tape is for—there's work being done on the roof and the tape is to keep either dust out, or the lights up.

I'm now hearing reports of debris falling on peoples's desks in other parts of The Company and increased levels of noxious dust. Oh, and migrains, I suspect from the noise. Or dust.


The Non-schizophrenic

“Yes, but what about the pommegranites?” he asked. I looked over the gas pump to the fellow on the other side. No one near him, and he certainly wasn't talking to me. “I need the pommegranites,” he said, really needing the pommegranites it seems.

I peered into his car. Couldn't be one hundred percent sure, but there seemed to be no one in the car. What an odd fellow, I thought.

“Okay, maybe we cam substiture kwumquates,” he said, replacing the gas nozzle to the pump and turning his head just enough for me to catch the ear piece and the wire snaking down to a unit on his belt. “But people are going to notice.” I just noticed that he wasn't schizophrenic.

Thursday, November 02, 2000

More Blue Tape

Come into work to find blue tape around the lights here in my office.

This bodes not well.


“It's aliens. I seen them.”

5:00 am. There's this horrible noise eminating from the ceiling through out The Company here. Horrible. Building shattering. Threatening. Frighening. I ask Rob (my roommate and now fellow cow-orker) what's up with the noise.

“It's alien super models come to kill us,” he said.

“Are you sure they're not going to abduct us and make us sex-slaves on their planet?”

“Nope,” said Rob. “They're here to kill us.”

“Darn!” I said as the noise got louder.


Rainbow Series

Wow! The entire Rainbow series is available online!

Although I would still like to order the deadtrees version of the books.

Friday, November 03, 2000

Still missing the bus it seems

On my drive home I'm seeing a number of school busses (and I pass through three school zones on the way home). It's been thirteen, maybe fourteen years since I last rode a school bus, yet I still have nightmares where I miss the bus, or I get on the wrong bus, or can't find my bus.

Yes, I am still emotionally scared from my time spent in the American Educational System.

Saturday, November 04, 2000

Hamless ham and cheese without the cheese.

For lunch there isn't much of a choice—it's either the Vending Machines O' Death at The Company, or a 24 hour gas station with a very good deli section.

It's pretty much no contest.

So I walk into the gas station with the very good deli section and place my order: “Ham and cheese, half size on white.”

The clerk behind the counter grabs the break and asks, “What type of meat do you want?”

This isn't an isolated case either. Years ago I used to stop off at Subway since it was on the way to work and the following exchange would routinely happen:

Opening move. “Yes, I'd like a foot long ham and cheese on white.”

Counter move: “What type of bread?”

“White.” What, like I'm going to say, No, I'd like my white bread to be wheat please.

“You want cheese with that?”

No, I want my ham and cheese without cheese, thank you. “Yes please.” Sometimes “American.” Depends on the cheese selection and the store.

And the killer move: “What type of meat?” Check and mate!

Uh, hold the ham. Yes, I'll have a hamless ham and cheese without the cheese. Yes, that would be great. Sigh.


BBQ Potato Chip Goodness in a Can

I couldn't belive it! Right there, at the gas station with a deli, was a rack of Charles Chips! Okay, so they were bagged instead of canned, but … Charles Chips!

Years and years ago (and we're talking at least twenty years here) I remember Alice (who used to watch me after school) buying these huge tins of BBQ Charles Chips and I would sit in front of the TV and gorge myself on them. Wonderful BBQ potato chip goodness in a can. I couldn't get enough of them.

But that was then, and this is now. And I haven't seen a Charles Chip in over twenty years. But now … there it is … a rack of Charles Chips!

They're as good as I remember them to be.

Tuesday, November 07, 2000

A hellish workplace

A programmer's work environment should be a supremely comfortable place to sit, look at information on a screen, and type. At ArsDigita we accomplish this via providing Aeron chairs, the keyboard of the programmer's choice, and at least two monitors. In the summer, the place should air-conditioned [sic] 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. In the winter, the office should be heated and humidified (often neglected). The air should be cleaned year-round with high-efficiency mechanical filters and electronic cleaners so that allergy sufferers are not discouraged from working.

. . .

If you see one of your best people walking out the door at 6:00 pm, try to think why you haven't challenged that person with an interesting project. If you see one of your average programmers walking out the door at 6:00 pm, recognize that this person is not developing into a good programmer. An average programmer's productivity will never be significant in a group of good programmers. If you care about profits, you must either come up with a new training program for the person or figure out the best way to terminate his or her employment with your organization.

ArsDigita Systems Journal:  Managing Software Engineers

I'm not sure if the working environment described here is heaven or hell or some unholy mixture of the two.

Wednesday, November 08, 2000

Neck and neck

I'm sitting here at work watching the election results. As my fellow cow-orker S. just said, “This is as much fun as watching a football match.”

Current score: Bush leading Gore with less than 1,000,000 popular votes, and both are tied with 242 Electoral College votes, five states remaining, including Florida and all five states are very close.

Simply incredible. Much more interesting than the '80 and '84 elections (where Regan won with 49 states ('80) and 50 states ('84)).


Talking Heads

[Setting: modern newsroom with thousands of TVs in the background. Talking heads abound the newsroom. The camera focuses in on one of them.]

TALKING HEAD #1

So I think at this point a tie in the Electoral College is impossible and it will never get to the House. Is that correct? Is a tie impossible?

[Turns to another talking head]

TALKING HEAD #2

[Picks up paper and pen and starts scribbling]

Well, right now it's two fourty two to two fourty two and you need twenty-eight to win but if you take Florida with twenty-five, you carry the one over and then if you add in Nevada and Wisconsin you …

TALKING HEAD #1

[Talking over TALKING HEAD #2]

I'm sorry I asked the question. I must apologize to the American public about this. I'm so sorry I asked the question.


Dead Men tell no tales, but do get elected

Well that's a first! A dead guy (Mel Carnahan) was just elected to the Senate.

Now isn't that special.


Fall down, go boom

My God! The buiding is falling down! There's a rain of debris falling among the crew here! Help! Help!

Seriously.

The guys are now working on the root right above my office and it's just horrible! My god I'm expecting a working to come falling through the ceiling any second now.


This bodes not well

Good lord! It sounds like the ceiling is caving in!

Jesus Christ! Where's my hard hat?

Thursday, November 09, 2000

Jewish coalition elects Pat Buchanan

But Palm Beach County Commissioner Bert Aaronson, who represents the West Boca and West Delray areas, disagreed. "I don't think we have 3,000 Nazis in Palm Beach County," he said.

Some Florida ballots illegal

Heh.


W Dance

And in the tradition of Hampster Dance comes Dubya Dance. It's even funnier with “Flashdance” (which is on the radio as I write up this entry).

Voting methods

“Exports, scholars, deep thinkers could make errors on electoral reform,” Natapoff decided, “but nine-year-olds could explain to a Martian why the Yankees lost in 1960, and why it was right. And both have teh same underlying abstract principle.”

Math Against Tyranny

Why the electoral college is A Good Thing.

For example, if all Democrats rank Gore first and Bush last, and all Republicans rank Bush first and Gore last, voters might wake up the next morning with a surprise winner—Ralph Nader, say, or Pat Buchanan—thanks to all the second-place votes. The system would clearly take some getting used to. (The problem of insincere voting was pointed out to Borda himself. His response was characteristic of a more optimistic age: “My system is only for honest men.”)

May the Best Man Lose

Alternative methods of voting than simple majority or plurality.


“ … or blown out candles or colored marbles depending on the county.”

As of this writing, the new President of these United States isn't known. The initial results of Florida's general election gave Bush the state by only 2000 votes. Because this slim lead easily falls within the margin of error, the home state of Mikey Mouse and German tourist murderers is recounting the ballets – or blown out candles or colored marbles depending on the county. Whoever is declared the winner there will surely go on to claim "a clear mandate from the people". Considering the source, that mandate will likely include Geritol and cheap stool softners for all.

Funny commentary on election from a Slashdotter


“… I don't know where the hell we went now …”

Light flashing on the answering machine. I punch the button.

Incoherent mumblings. Then an old woman: “ … I guess the number you know … ”

Another, older sounding woman, sounding a bit distant: “he's—he's out which … I don't know where the hell we went now … ”

End of message.

I'm not sure if I want to *69 them or not …

Friday, November 10, 2000

Play with the Electoral College

Now this is a cool Java Applet. It's the Electoral College Calculator and it allows you to play “What if” games, selecting different states to either Republican, Democratic or Independant (read: other). It also has data from the elections from 1980 through 1996.

Using it, I found that it only takes 11 states to win the election: California, New York, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina and one of either George or Virginia. That alone will get you 270 Electoral votes. All other states combined only add up to 268.

Very fun program.


Topiary

I'm talking to Spring, and she informed me that the wierd alien thing I photographed is in fact a topiary. I checked an online dictionary and it's not quite that—it's topiary-like, but it's not a live plant.

And here I though the thing couldn't be classified.


The Dreaded Comfy Chair

I swear, I was getting ready to hang out with my friends. Okay, so I got up when I was supposed to meet them (7:00 pm) but hey, they're my friends, they'll understand.

I then made a big mistake: I sat down in The Comfy Chair!

The Comfy Chair is this cusiony-sink-down-into-it type chair that is all too easily to fall asleep in. Deep asleep in. My intention was to put on my shoes, but I think I sat back to relax for a second because the next thing I remember is my roommate Rob going “Sean! It's eleven o'clock. Sean! Get up!”

Just in time to make it to work. Sigh.

Saturday, November 11, 2000

Topiary Hell

Spring wrote more about topiaries, and sent the following links:

Potpourri Easter Egg Topiary
Valentine's Day Topiary Centerpiece
Sweet Treats Topiaries
Classic Duet

Oh the horror! The horror! Mommy! Make it stop!


Architectureal Heaven

I mentioned to Spring the other day about this Greek Orthodox church I drive by everyday to and from work.

I'm interested in architecture. And this church is one of the most beautiful (if not the most beautiful) churches in the area; I think it has a neoclassical design—you have your gold domes, the cross at the apex, a bell tower, but out front it has this stand of free-standing columns that give it a unique look. Simply gorgeous.

So when I discribed it to Spring she was very intrigued and wished she could see it. So I brought my digital camera to work so that on the way home in the morning, I could photograph it. [will add photos when I get a chance to]


Urban Decay

Also on the way home from work I pass what used to be Solar Testing Service Inc. Used to be because either it moved locations or went out of business. I remember there being hundreds of solar panels mounted about two feet off the ground in the field next to the building but now there is nothing left but an abandonded building and a field of posts.

Nothing like the beauty of urban decay.


Birthday Party

Today was Mark's birthday party and John, the paper millionaire of a dotcom, was hosting it for us. Unlike the last party John threw, there were no strippers.

It was just Mark's very close friends and family (his father). We sat around, eating freshly grilled burgers, warmed macaroni salad and cold baked beans (their maid is from another country and doesn't quite have our cuisine down pat), soda and beer. All of it good. And one delicious chocolate cake that was to die for.

Later on, we marveled at John's 800 gallon salt water aquarium, home to a few dozen fish, a dozen snails, live coral, some shrimp and two suicidal fish that kept wanting to be sucked into the filtration system. Mark and John spent some time keeping the fish from suicide runs (or who knows, meybe they get a rush from doing that) until they seemed to stop it.

Afterwards, we ended up watching a forgettable film (Milk Money) and American Beauty on a digital HBO broadcast on John's 72" HDTV. Wow. HDTV, if you've never seen it, is simply incredible—it's like being in a movie theater.


Work Agony

What I didn't mention last week was that it was the Week From Hell. After getting home from work (remember, I work the midnight shift), I got a call from my friend Jeff Cuscutis (I know entirely too many Jeffs) called me up around noon to remind me we were getting together.

This only after two hours of sleep.

So I ended up spending the entire day over at his house and leaving in time to drive to work and spend eight hours there.

I must have been up for 28 of the previous 30 hours. It was horrible (and is one reason why there isn't an entry from last Sunday).

Anyway, this week was similar, except that I got twice as much sleep (four hours) and I spent it at someone else's house (John the paper millionaire of a dotcom).

Sigh.

On the plus side, like last week, I was able to (electronically) chat with a friend.

Monday, November 13, 2000

A very odd occurrence

Very odd. Yesturday I got up quite late (9:00 pm) feeling rather bad; very tired and somewhat nauseous because of this incredibly bad headache. I either slept too much, or had yet to catch up on sleep. I chatted with a few friends (no, I didn't mind chatting) then watched Desperado, listening to the director's commentary (I had watched El Mariachi last week, borrowing the DVD from my friend Jeff Cuscutis and all I have to say on both is “the DVD with both films is worth it if you're into making low-cost films”) and fell asleep by 4:00 am. I woke up at 9:00 am this morning.

That's what I found very odd.

Not only that, but I felt like getting up; I wasn't sleepy at all.

Odd.


Me? Bitter?

I spend my second day off from work (my logical Sunday, even if phyically it's Monday—sorry, old computer joke there) with a client, doing the work any competent Unix sysadmin should be able to do.

Me, bitter? Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

At least I had lunch at Byblos, a local mid-Eastern restaurant in Boca Raton and I really like.


Farewell Dinner

Mark has been at his job for less than a week, and not only is the expert on the project he's been thrown on, but he's being shipped out to Texas on a business trip tomarrow.

So tonight JeffK and I took him out to dinner to wish him well on the trip. We went to the Road House Grill. It's a steak house where they have buckets of peanuts on the table and you can toss the shells on the floor. The food is good and the atmosphere tolerable (in that while they do play country music, it's not loud enough to be truely annoying).

Afterwards I showed Mark the pictures from his birthday party and then we rented Frequency, a time travel story without the travel.

After the movie, JeffK and I kicked ourselves out to allow Mark time to pack, even if it was after midnight.


Frequency

Frequency, a movie staring Dennis Quaid and James Caviezel, is a time travel story without the travel. Basically, a freak solar storm in 1969 and 1999 allow a father (in 1969) to speak to his son (in 1999) over a short-wave radio set (the same set as it turns out). Given that leap of faith, and the the belief that changes made in the past change the future, it's fairly consistent in its treatment and an interesting twist to the time travel genre. Worth seeing if you into that type of film.

Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Teleselfconscience

More times than not, I find myself being very self-conscience when on the phone, where I think I come across very badly. I've been assured that this is not the case, but still, I feel this is the case quite often.

An early thanksgiving

Thank God for email and instant messaging. Else my phone bill would be ballooning right now.

Thursday, November 16, 2000

The Quiet Zone

I'm sitting here at work, things are quiet and nothing is really happening. I'm watching the security guard, who sits in our office at night because of the video recording equipment is here and his head is doing that sleep bobbing thing. In fact, I think he's asleep right now.

It's very quiet in here, except for the clacking of my IBM PS/2 keyboard (which I brought in specifically for use on the machine here at work. Accept not substitutes).


Scenes from a Gas Station Deli at 3:30 am

“My God it takes forever to get a sub in the place,” she said. Thick soled sandals, ends that justified the blue jeans and a white form fitting tank top. Facial structure similar to Juliette Lewis only cuter and with brown wavy hair. She turned around and faced me. “Hey, you finish work or something?”

I looked up from the magazine I was browsing through waiting in line. “Actually,” I said, “I'm on my lunch break.”

“What?” said Cute Girl.

“Yea, lunch break. It's what? 2:30 am? 3:30 am?”

“Wow.” She seemed so impressed that I was working such wierd hours.

“Yea, I work midnight to—” But not enough to actually listen to me.


Scenes from a Gas Station Deli at 3:31 am

Cute Girl was still fighting for her subs to be made, I was still standing in line browsing a magazine when a girl, maybe mid 20s walks up, carrying a case of beer. “Excuse me,” she said. “Are you in line?”

I look up. “Yes.” I now notice that her dress is a thin nearly translucent material and that she isn't wearing much else. Somewhat cute.

“Excuse me,” she said. This time to the guy behind the counter. “Excuse me?” He finally clues in that someone else is calling for his attention and stares at her. “Where is the wine?” He just stands there in incomprehension. “Wine!”

This time Cute Girl interceeds. “Wine!” she said, louder so that he could understand English better. He finally clues in, and points to a set of coolers on the other side of the store.

It's by this time I realize this newcomer is rather tipsy, because I had been standing in front of a rack of wine all this time.


Scenes from a Gas Station Deli between 3:35 am to 3:45 am

The deli clerk behind the counter is working on Cute Girl's subs when he wanders off for about ten minutes. I presume to handle the alcohol purchases of Tipsy Girl. He eventually makes his way back and starts on another sub.

“Uh, excuse me,” said Cute Girl. “I'm not done with that sub yet.” She points behind the counter to another sub. The guy doesn't seem to understand. “I'd like some banana peppers on that sub.” He stands there. “I'm not done with that sub. Banana peppers. That sub!” He finally clues in.


Scenes from a Gas Station Deli at 3:50 am or Another hamless ham and cheese without the cheese

“Yes, I'd like a big ham and cheese please,” I said to the deli clerk.

“What type of meat?” he asked me.

Sigh.


Scenes from a Gas Station Deli at 4:00 am

Another clerk had worked his way out from the back of the store and was handling the register to help Cute Girl with her sub purchases. She was still at the register when my sub was finished so I stood in line behind her. The clerk looked perplexed over what the register was telling him, then took Cute Girl's credit card to another machine. This one had multiple levers on it, apparently to set the price of the transaction, and he took out a carboned credit form. He puzzled over the intracate workings of a credit card machine from the 70s and after ten minutes decided that it too, must be down. He then turned towards Cute Girl. “The computers, they are down.”

“It didn't accept my card?” she asked.

“The machines, they are down.”

“You know,” she said, digging through her purse for money, ”I could have gone to the ATM and be back in the time that took.” He spent another five minutes writing her order down on the back of an envelope and ringing up the price on a calculator.


Scenes from a Gas Station Deli at 4:05 am

On the way out, I ran into JB from The Company making a food run. “Hey Sean,” he said. “If you had but asked, I would have gladly taken your order for food.”

“Sorry,” I said. “But alas, I was hungry and I needed sustenance.”

“Then will you join me in my quest for food for our fellow cow-orkers?”

“I have been here already half an hour and I fear that your quest shall take a fair amount of time of which I do not wish to partake in.”

“Please, just a few minutes,” JB said. His tone was such that I relented.

We bantered for the few moments it took us to walk to the deli counter. “Please, sir, I would like to order four subs,” JB said to the deli clerk.

“Sir, four subs please.” The deli clerk made some motion with his head. “Do you not do the subs?”

The deli clerk perked up. “Yes,” he said.

“Then four subs.”

“I shall see you back in the comfort of The Company offices,” I said to JB, not willing to endure any more of this deli tonight.

Friday, November 17, 2000

Incuring the wrath of a sysadmin

I got into some mild trouble at The Company yesturday for some email I sent out on Wednesday.

I'm supposed to be on a department mailing list but I haven't received anything. My boss E said I was supposedly added, so I sent the following message to the list:

I hate subjugating all of you with a test message, but I just have to know if I am actually getting email that is being sent to —-@—-.— and this is the only way I know of testing that. Well, short of breaking into the mail server and checking the alias file myself and I certainly don't want to incure the wrath of SA by doing that.

I thought the list would only go to our department.

Well, make assumptions and all that.

Apparently the head sysadmin, sorry, Chief Technical Resource is also on the list and got miffed at the slight I make towards SA:

Could you please discuss the e-mail below with Sean. The comments that he makes are inappropriate.

The Chief Technical Resource then forwarded it my my boss's boss, who said (to my boss):

I agree, if he was serious in his comments I consider this a serious issue. E, we need to address this with him and also talk to your group about security emphasis. Let me know when we talk to him.

My boss wan't that upset—he himself got “a talk” about a comment he made during my interview. Nice to know some people around here have a sense of humor.

Time adjustment

The other day the security guard asked if (or when) I had time, could I reset the clock on the security recorders, as they were about two hours fast. I got into work a bit early, the security guard was making his rounds and I had nothing better to do, so I dug out the manual and made the time change.

A few minutes later the phone rings. It's the security guard. He was me playing around with the time on another set of monitors by the front door and wanted to know what was going on …


That Much

I am seriously bummed. I missed talking to her by that much! on AIM.

Crying Wolf

Information wants to be free, but information providers want to be paid.

Scripting News, Let's cough up the cash for Web content

While I like the idea in general, I love the quote.


More Urban Decay

Lights started flashing and this annoying buzzing sound filled the office. I looked over to my fellow cow-orker. “It's the fire alarm,” he said.

“Does that mean we have to lock our workstations before leaving?”

“Yes.”

Work stations thus locked, we ambled out with the rest of the night crew into the early morning air. The entire building is abuz with the fire alarm and the security guard is running around getting everybody out and trying to locate the the cause. The skeletal crew mill about, joking about what the cause might be.

Some ten minutes later a fire truck arrives, pulls into the parking lot, does a U-turn and leaves. A minute later the alarms go silent. The crew start their migration back inside The Company.

Our enforced break is now over.


I'm glad I took pictures of Solar Testing Services Inc. As I drove home the field was clear of the posts and workmen were demolishing the building.

Sunday, November 26, 2000

foggy night

fire alarm at 4:30 am again

Tuesday, November 28, 2000

drive back

Obligatory Picture

[Don't hate me for my sock monkey headphones.]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site: http://boston.conman.org/, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

http://boston.conman.org/2000/08/01

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2017 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.