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.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Snippits from a conversation about the upcoming Presidential Election

“I hope they win with a landslide.”

“I just hope they win by more than twice the margin of error.”

A pathetic attempt at one of those Intarweb memes

I'm looking at the back of a cereal box (I will not mention which brand because I'm trying to beat the brand) and it has a list of “18 things to do before you're 18.”

I'm not sure if some of them are even possible before the age of 18, but it's a slow news day here, so I'm presenting the list with commentary.

  1. I'm not even sure what the world's biggest roller coaster is, but we have this here Intarwebs thang so we can look this up and make our own judgement about what constitutes the “world's biggest roller coaster.”

    Personally, I'm not a fan of roller coasters, and I'm disinclined to even ride the things, but I have ridden them before. Years ago, at a time when I was younger than 18, Mom and I were at Disney World. Mom, for whatever reason, decided she wanted to ride Space Mountain, which is a roller coaster in the dark.

    In the dark!

    Anyway, Mom had to drag me on the ride. I had to drag her off the ride. It wasn't an experience I want to repeat.

  2. I'm not even sure this is legal for anyone under 18.

    Oh wait, You can. Down to age 10 it seems.



    I've had friends that have jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, but not me.

  3. Nope. I wasn't one for sports as a kid.

  4. Yes. An experience I will never forget, despite forgetting what the actual award was for.

    It was horrible really. I was a Drama Geek in high school, and even though I liked working behind the scenes more than being on stage, I still ended up joining the Thespian Society and the initiation involved dressing up as a clown.

    I didn't expect it to be all that bad. The initiation was the same day the administration was handing out student awards and because of my experience in working the lights in the auditorium, I had permission to skip my classes that day to work lights for all the ceremonies. So I could hide in the light booth at the head of the auditorium.

    All was going well until during one of the ceremonies, my name was called.

    Nothing like walking across a stage in a clown outfit in front of all my peers to collect some brown-nose-esque award from a class I didn't even enjoy all that much (English, as I recall).

    So yes, I won an award while wearing a clown outfit!.

  5. I had two years of clarinet in middle school, and I can still remember some fingerings (especially the transition from A to B-flat which is a bitch on a B-flat clarinet).

  6. This one is hard to decide, but I came down on the side of “yes.”

    I was a Drama Geek in high school and worked backstage during many a performance, including a “battle-of-the-bands” type show. So I kind of squeak by on this.

    Post-18, definitely. In FAU I worked in the auditorium (not to be confused with the theater across campus) and there I worked quite a few gigs. Shirley Jones kept saying “partridge-what?” Buddy Hackett was a loud-mouthed jerk, and Hal Linden stole my pen.

    Yes, the auditorium mostly catered to the older crowd in Boca Raton.

  7. Nope.

    And even if I did, I would have no idea what to say.

  8. Haven't done this either.

    And unless you live in Los Angeles (or maybe Orlando for those that might want to go the Micky Mouse Club route) I can't see anyone under 18 doing this, unless they have an obnoxious stage mom to force the issue.

  9. Well, there's Sean, best friend and author.

    Then there's Sean, friend in college and lead vocalist for our fake band.

    And there seem to be quite a few Sean Conners out there, but I haven't met one of them.

  10. During the 11th grade, I thought I came up with a neat way to very quickly calculate the Mandelbrot Set which required the taking a logarithm of a complex number, but my math teacher at the time had no clue what I was talking about, and upon reflection, I don't think it would have worked.

    I also discovered that it was not a good idea to take the keys to the high school home with me, but that's not the type of discovery they're talking about here.

  11. Yes. Several in fact. But they were all done in college, after I turned 18. When I could be arrested.

    'Nuff said.

  12. Definitely yes.

    My grandparents (both sets) grew up during The Depression and from them, I inherited a “pack rat” gene. Even as a kid I used to joke about my “collection of collections.”

    Which I still have, for the most part (except for the “wall of computers”—after a few years that became really silly as it lead to “wall of really heavy dust collectors”).

  13. No. Not all of us are Shakespeare. Or even Anthony Burgess.

  14. This one I'm claiming, even if I haven't.

    At the end of 9th grade we had to select the classes we wanted for the following year. Even at that age, I knew that public speaking was among the biggest fears of most people (something I learned in 5th (or was it 6th?) grade when forced into Toastmasters) so I thought it might be a good idea (and this was solely my idea) to sign up for both Speech and Drama.

    I should also note that I was quite shy at the time.

    It worked—I have no fear of public speaking at all.

    Fear of heights however

  15. Nope.

    In fact, I found it traumatic enough selling candy in the 4th grade and magazine subscriptions in the 7th grade (I was told to lie to sell subscriptions) that I refused to do it ever again.

    My Drama teacher understood this, and whenever she had a candy sale, I never had to sell candy, but I did help her collect and count the money.

    My 11th grade civics teacher, on the other hand, wasn't so sympathetic. Then again, everyone in the 11th grade had to sell magazine subscriptions and the class that sold the most subscriptions would get a pizza party. I handed all my stuff to one of the more motivated students and didn't think about the situation again until the end of the magazine sale drive.

    Much to my horror, my class won.


  16. I didn't get my learner's permit until I was 19 and absolutely needed a car to get to work.

    And even then, I failed the vision test (officially—unofficially, I proved the clerk had given me the wrong chart to read).

    And the less said about my first attempt at driving a car, the better (to this day, Dad still is leary of letting me drive).

  17. For loose values of “coast to coast.”

    As a kid, I spent my summers in Royal Oak, Michigan with my grandparents. When I lived in Brevard, North Carolina, my grandma would drive down to pick me up and then again to drop me off. When Mom and I moved to Florida, I started flying there instead.

    But one year, I drove back to Florida with my Mom's cousin and his two young kids (oldest was maybe five at the time). In a Camero.

    And people wonder why I hate trips …

    Anyway, I digress.

    While it's not from sea to shining sea it is from one “coast” (near enough to Lake St. Clair) to another (the Atlantic Ocean) and is over 1,200 miles. Close enough for me.

  18. Yup.

    Although I don't think I ever was 18, as Mom used to joke that I was 10 going on 40 …

Aw heck, since this is a pathetic attempt to start one of those Intarweb memes, I tag anyone and everyone to check off what they've done by age 18 …

Notes from a trip to an office store

I gave Wlofie a ride over to the local Office Depot as he needed a new office chair. Once there, I wandered off while Wlofie negotiated with one of the sales clerks wandering about the store.

In the laptop section, I spied a unit that claimed to have a wireless connection to the Internet. I fire up the only browser available, Internet Explorer, and I'm impressed at the security feature, which is preventing the Office Depot Web Site from doing nasty things to the laptop.

[Office Depot has determined that the Office Depot Web Site is dangerous and can't be used]

Nice to know that Office Depot, in conjunction with Internet Explorer, is keeping those dangerous Office Depot Web Sites from damaging the laptop for sale at Office Depot. Although viewing /. is A-OK. Nice to know.

My interests soon turn to seeing what garbage is being foisted off as keyboards this year, and yet again, I'm not disapointed, with over a dozen crappy keyboards that induced carpal tunnel syndrome the second my hands got near. There was one special keyboard though, that looked like a cheap metal tray with a cheap photograph of keys laminated on top that surprisingly enough, was not a cheap metal tray with a cheap photograph of keys laminated on top, but was in fact, a cheap metal tray with cheap plastic keys with about a millimeter of travel.

[I think I'd prefer typing on a paper replica than this thing]

Having had my fill of pain-inducing keyboards, I then wandered over to the cell phone isle. Such tiny things they are now-a-days, and as I was examining a particularly small example, I noticed that the cell phone (which had no battery and a paper insert inside the screen poorly simulating a working phone) appeared to be attached to the display case via an actual phone cable, much like the type that goes from your phone (or base station if you have a cordless phone) to the wall.

How odd, I thought. I thought they locked these things down. I wonder if I can unplug this—

And yes, you can unplug the cord easily enough.

I wouldn't do it though, unless you enjoy listening to an ear-piercing alarm system blaring throughout the entire store which the employees blindly ignore because this is the umpteenth time this day it's gone off.

Thankfully, Wlofie was pretty much done with negotiations and we were able to leave the store without further incidents.

I hate Heisenbugs

I noticed some odd behavior with mod_blog today. When I make editing changes to entries (mostly spelling corrections) I usually regenerate the static pages (the main page, the various feeds) by hand with the following command:

% ./boston.cgi --config boston.cnf --regen

But today I kept getting the dreaded “Segmentation fault (core dumped)” error. It's always worked before, and the timestamp on the executable was March 13th, so it's not like I made any recent changes to the program.

But, even odder, if I run:

% ./boston.cgi --config ./boston.cnf --regen

it runs without a hitch. Specify the config file without the leading “./” and the program crashes.

And now, fifteen minutes later, I can't reproduce the issue.


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