Archive for January, 2008

Monday, January 7th, 2008

86 words

Touch typing free

My geek pride requires me to mention that this is a especially difficult test – it involves a lot of random, unconnected words, and jumps after every ‘sentence’ – I took another test on the web and it came out 120, which is what I usually think of as my typing speed

Grr argh

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

Well, we will still be able to pay rent despite my boss’s forgetting to issue my paycheck – but it did literally end up with me raiding my coin jar.

I hope that I end up 2008 with more reserves than 2007.

(Actually, ironically, I just recently decided to move a bunch of my money from paypal’s money market thingie to e*trade, because paypal isn’t FDIC insured and recent events with the banking industry have me slightly chewing on my fingernails – so I would have been far more okay, except that money is ‘in transit’ and who knows when it will end up wherever it’s going. Also, I’ve long since lost my e*trade debit card.. perhaps I should write them about a new one…)

I find all of this inherently stressful.


Sunday, January 6th, 2008

So, I agreed to work in December for one of the software start-ups that I do work for for stock. I knew that the stock probably wouldn’t ever be worth anything, but I didn’t want the project to come to a screetching halt because one of the backers was feeling a little short.

The problem is, now I’m being approached to work for stock in January, and I don’t want to.  I was hoping that in December I’d be working on the user interface, but instead I got hung up and ended up spending twice as many hours as I’d intended working on little details of the back-end. I’ve got a bunch of software development for my car that I think would be more rewarding than continuing to debug and refine the back-end, and if I’m not going to get paid, I’d rather be doing work that I enjoy.

The *real* problem is, I’m horrible at saying no. And so, tomorrow I’m supposed to discuss this situation with my boss, and he’s already talking about not paying me, and I feel like I’m likely to fold like a cheap suit if he pressures me on it, and I’m really unhappy about it.

To add to my unhappiness, apparently my first Jan invoice didn’t get processed and so my paycheck is going to be almost two weeks late. Granted, it will also contain my second invoice and therefore that part of the money will be a few weeks early, but now I have to decide if I should approach my landlady and explain about the SNAFU, or if I should raid my stocks, or borrow money from Kayti, or what.

Yet again money manages to make me utterly miserable…

Zen and the art of bowling?

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

As I mentioned a couple posts ago, I’ve been getting hooked (pun certainly intended) on bowling a bit lately. It’s been sort of a interesting experience for me, because historically I have loathed most sports.

As I get further into it – and, bear in mind, I’ve only been doing it for two weeks – I’m noticing more and more how often my strikes coincide with a detached, dissociative, almost completely blank mind.  I suspect this is what the Zenpeople are trying to acheive with meditation, and I can really see the appeal.

I think I’m getting better at attaining this state – I still can go entire games without obtaining it, but it’s also becoming more and more common for me to have a game in which I bowl a significant portion of the game in this mindset.

There must be a name for this – I’m sure thousands of people have written about the experience – but I’m not really sure what it would be. I haven’t get put ‘bowling meditation’ or ‘bowling zen’ into google – perhaps I’ll try that and see if anything comes back.

I always thought the point of sports was to not think, but it never occured to me that not thinking could be so much fun..

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

95% Mike Gravel
95% Dennis Kucinich
84% Chris Dodd
82% John Edwards
82% Barack Obama
80% Joe Biden
79% Hillary Clinton
73% Bill Richardson
35% Rudy Giuliani
27% Ron Paul
21% John McCain
15% Mike Huckabee
15% Tom Tancredo
14% Mitt Romney
6% Fred Thompson

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz


Saturday, January 5th, 2008

Well, I seem to have garnered a new addiction – bowling, of all things.

Most of the time, it’s a good deal cheaper than my last one – and it seems less likely to involve trips to the mental hospital. I’m not very good at it, but I do find it enormously satisfying.

Perhaps I should go back and watch the Big Lebowski again.. 😉

Of mice and presidential canidates.

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Okay, my favorite presidential candidate is still a white man… (Kucinich). However, I’m donating equal amounts to three different candidates – Hillary, Barack, and Dennis – and I’d be happy with any of them, I think. Barack is a little too religious for my tastes, but on the other hand, somehow strikes me as less corrupt than the average pol. Hillary is both a woman and in favor of sane health care.

I’m no longer worried about the possibility that Ron Paul might be elected.. I think that he’s a further out in the fringe candidate than Dennis [and that’s saying something]. On the other hand, I would have bet money against Dubya’s re-election – one shouldn’t discount the politican’s natural tendancy towards cheating. It may just come down to who cheats the most successfully this round..

I don’t actually know that much about the political scene any more, since I don’t watch or read the news. I’m completely out of touch with world events and I continue to like it that way.

I’ve been working on my EV projects again… I ordered some more programmers for the mk3eb boards (I seem to toast them with alarming regularity), and I’m waiting for those to arrive – in the meantime I’ve started massaging the code and started thinking through how the code for the master computer ought to work. My current system has a single process with all functionality built into it, but I’m going to replace it with a process that communicates with the serial EB and accepts network connections which can post messages to and receive messages from the EB. Combined with some filter logic, that ought to give me a much more flexible and easy to develop for system.

One of the things that I’m thinking about right now is the message abstraction class. Currently I’m building packets manually, which requires the developer to understand exactly what each message means – I don’t require the developer to ham and crc the packet – there are functions for that – but you do have to know what the functions and arguments to those functions are, which is kind of messy – I’m thinking I should wrap it all in a nifty li’l wrapper so all a developer has to do is $message->QueryVolts(unit => 14) and they will get back 12.82 as a answer. Of course, it may not be worth the trouble if no one but me is ever going to use the system, which is entirely possible.

Another incredibly nifty battery has appeared – Lithium Iron, – a little pricy for a car, but I’m thinking of converting the yellow scooter using them.

Until fairly recently I was working 50-60 hours a week – however, with being laid off from Arbonne and with the software development people paying me in stock instead of dollars, I’ve had a little time to work on my own projects. However, if more paying work doesn’t appear soon, I’m going to have to start brushing the dust off my resume and pounding the pavement..

Fairly recently I was looking at resumes to try and hire a local Flex/Java programmer. I can’t decide if this process made me feel better or worse about my job prospects. I keep hearing about how people in the computer industry are being laid off.. I want to think that I’m in one of the top tiers of skill level, but unfortunately the things I’m really good at – assembly for microcontrollers, writing device drivers for linux, writing perl & C for linux, writing C++ windows applications – there just isn’t a lot of call for. Maybe I should go write some video games for cell phones..

Christianity, part 4 – or, why I’m no longer speaking to my mom about religion

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Okay. I get it. Many people aren’t capable of considering any ideas about religion that aren’t the ones already programmed into them, and are programmed to speak scornfully about any ideas that aren’t theirs. I probably fall under that umbrella.

I genuinely gave Christianity a chance. I read sizable chunks of the bible. I tried to wrap my head around the concepts. I see that there is in fact a implementation – not the majority one – of Christianity that isn’t particularly evil. It still isn’t my religion.

I decided I’m not going to debate it any more. Hopefully that will help me move on, because thinking about it all the time isn’t doing me or anyone else any good. There are better and more positive things for me to spend my energy on.

I do have a couple of criticisms that I feel the need to mention, though.

1) Many Christians speak of how, if there was no God, there would be no reason for being good and not evil. People, this is pathetic. If you’re only being good because you’re afraid of the superuser, you must have a awful lot of trouble respecting yourself. I’m not good because I think God will come stomp on me, I’m good because I want to be.

2) Many Christians speak of God’s “divine plan”. I’m here to say that if the universe is running on a plan, the planning entity is more than a little bit evil. Look around – all life lives at the expense of other life, people and kittens starve to death all the time, there’s a host of horrible and painful diseases, and we all get to go through a horribly painful process as our bodies shut down.. one could come up with a whole lot of criticism to the Divine Plan theory – I’m pretty sure *I* could design a much better universe – at least for life on earth – given infinite time.  What we’ve got here, by all indications, isn’t so much a plan as a whole bunch of ‘we hacked it together, added some duct tape, and this is what worked’.

3) The only scenereo that makes sense to me is that we all, aggregated together, form God. As in, there’s not this superuser out there in left field running things – *we* are running things. When we pretend we aren’t, bad things are going to happen. One of the things that makes me angry about Christianity is that the Christians aren’t taking responsibility for their actions.  They are claiming, for example, that it is ‘God’s Will’ that people die of AIDS or in stupid wars over resources or whatever rather than admitting that they, the Christians, are partially responsable *. I could go on a long list here – for example, I suspect many Christians feel more okay about recent wars because they’re making war on non-Christian nations – but I hope that if you don’t take anything else away from this long and meandering blog post, you take away this: ultimately, comforting as it might be to abdicate your responsability as Part Of God, you can’t. Your actions directly impact the other people in this world. 

4) I’m not so sure that preaching uninhibited forgiveness of sins is a good thing. I’m still working my way through this one, but I think that while it’s a good idea for everyone’s mental health for them to forgive each other, it’s not such a good thing if said forgiveness means none of us ever grow and we all keep hurting each other in the same ways over and over and over again.

5) Parents: Don’t force your kids to go to church. It’s brainwashing, and it’s wrong, and I wish it were illegal.  Churches should have a non-brainwashing area for minors who happen to be nonbelievers to hang out in while their parents get their sermons. This ought to be legally required, but would anyone like to talk about the odds of *that* happening?

6) God: Feel free to email me. Or call. Or write. Or send smoke signals. However, given that voices popping into one’s head are a sign of mental illness, expect me to be somewhat skeptical and require you to do a fair amount of authenticating before I believe you. Also, just because you’re more powerful than me, doesn’t mean you’re better than me. I could probably be convinced that this whole huge mess is in fact a brilliant strategy that will ultimately lead to everyone’s wishes coming true and sex on a stick for a nickel- but you may have to talk for a while. I also completely understand if you don’t feel the need to convince me, or have better and bigger things to do. But I do hope that if you torment me for eternity for not believing what you want me to – despite having made me so that I won’t – you’ll at least have the decency to feel guilty about it.

Hopefully that wraps up the religion topic for a few years. It’s been fun, but, really, there are some things that are just unknowable – and people pretending to know them anyway and then being all snooty about how wrong my opinions are – using the same old tired arguments, and openly ignoring my answers and challenges to their tired arguments – really piss me off.

Grateful *that’s* over – I hope –


* = at least, by quantum causaility. If you deny funding to sexual health organizations because they support gay rights or abortions or whatever acts the Christians have decided are immoral, and people die of aids because the lack of funding means that no condoms were given out, then I’d say the Christians are responsable.