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.

Saturday, November 24, 2001

Ιτ ισ Γρεεκ το με

Recently I witnessed a shocking demonstration by a new, English-speaking, college graduate. I don’t normally talk about my writing with colleagues at work – there isn’t time – but one intelligent youngster asked me a question that I could most easily answer by showing him one of my essays. He could not read it. I mean, he could sound out the words that he knew, skipping the words he didn’t know, but he could not make sense of the sentences. After watching his ordeal for five painful minutes, I verbally gave him the message encoded in the English language that he could not read. He believes that he is educated, by the way, because he has a college degree.

Via Jerry Pournelle, Literacy

All a college degree shows is that you are trainable to jump through hoops (okay, with Yale you learn to jump through flaming hoops that impress everyone, but you are still jumping through hoops and aren't necessarily edumakated). And yes, the educational system here is bad.

For some reason, the fact that sheep are easily lead and wolves are not keeps floating through my mind …


“We're the Phone Company … we don't have to care!”

The new second line they gave us had a Valencia area code, which would have been good if I’d needed to call Magic Mountain several times per day. As it was, that number somehow cross-linked with our old phone line so that we couldn’t even call our next-door neighbor on either phone without dialing 11 digits. The DSL started crashing all the time. The voice mail either wouldn’t work or would deliver messages days after the fact. Sometimes an obliterating static would wash over the line; other times voices would echo.

Well, we weren’t going to take this one lying down! We called the Sprint Ion service center in Atlanta, Georgia, and talked with Artie. And with Margie, Mark, Barry, Bob, Eddie, Kiewan, Abid, Emily, Carlos, Robert, Brian, Isaiah, Corey, Carl, Gerald, Debra, Barbara, Sylvester, Tom, Jeanette, Michael, Randall, Dan, Adam, Allen, Shavonne, Lynette, Hawk, Cornell, John and others.

Via Jerry Pournelle, Lost in OC: Days of Our Lives

Except for the NorthPoint failure and that day a week and a half ago, I haven't had much problem at all with my DSL connection, unlike Mr. Washburn up there. But his story wasn't nearly as bad as Brad's:

June 19, 2000: Well, after nearly two months of waiting for my DSL service to be installed, I'm ensconced here in my home office, perching in front of the computer, surfing along at a zippy … 56K. Yep, sure couldn't see that one coming, could we? …

Manuel returns after 10 minutes more of Mangione with the following news: the “wire center” serving my area is closed, and has been closed since late April. My order for DSL should never have been accepted and, should I wish to request DSL service, my order will have to be resubmitted. Unfortunately, Manuel is not permitted to accept new orders or even resubmit mine until the wire center reopens, which will be “on or after July 14.”

“Why did Carl schedule me for an installation appointment today?” I ask. Manuel asks me to hold. Fifteen minutes of cool trumpet later, he returns with the news that the tech center has no record of an install order in my name.

ADSL Hell

It's as if the telephone companies don't like DSL. Go figure.


Atomic clocks up the ying yang, but no folders.

Spring wanted to buy a simple folder—the type that has both pockets and tangs. Tangs, by the way, are the small flaps of metal that you slip three-holed punched paper over and fold down to keep the papers together—something that is fairly common.

So we head over to the local Wal★Mart Superstore that is now down the street to look for a simple pocket and tang folder.

Now, a Wal★Mart superstore is the size of a small Latin American country so we knew we might spend some serious time in there looking for a folder.

We found an entire supermarket. We found analog clocks that can set themselves. We found piano wire. We found Jimmy Hoffa (although he didn't look all that good so we put him back). But we did not find a simple pocket and tang folder. Over an hour we spent.

We then went to Office Depot but they had closed by the time we got there. But the Publix was still open where we found, in a grocery story a simple pocket and tang folder.

So much for the Wal★Mart Superstore.

Obligatory Picture

[It's the most wonderful time of the year!]

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

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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.

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