personal comments edit

I’m about 100 pages from the end of The Bear and The Dragon, and let me tell you Tom Clancy fans out there - this is not the book to recommend to a Clancy newbie. It’s been the hardest read I’ve had in a long time, and not because of anything to do with the language. I mean, I like how Clancy pays attention to the political side of battle in his books because it adds a verisimilitude that other war novels don’t have. That said, this one was almost entirely political and I spent more time wondering when the SEAL team was going to show up than I did enjoying the heavy politics and behind-the-scenes.

So, as some of you know, I have a pretty hefty CD and DVD collection at home. What can I say? I’m a media whore.

Anyway, I normally don’t loan these things out because I typically have bad luck getting people to return things, much less return them in the pristine condition that I keep them in. See, when I borrow stuff, I return it within a week because I figure if I’m going to borrow anything I should probably get around to looking at it in a timely fashion and return it in a timely fashion as well.

I went against my better judgment and brought a couple of movies in for some guys in my department to borrow. I figured I would get them all back in a week or thereabouts, pending on the schedules of the guys in question and when they would be able to check these things out. I was even out of town in training the following week (last week), so that’s a good two weeks to get things back to me.

I got all but one of my movies back in my allotted “patience period.”

I asked the guy who didn’t return my movie if I could get it back. “Oh, yeah, I’ll bring it tomorrow.”

Tomorrow came. Where’s my movie? “Oh, I, uh, forgot it at home.” Hmmm. Okay, I guess. Well, it’s Friday, so bring it Monday.

Monday arrived. Where’s my movie? “I was at a friend’s house all weekend.” And how, precisely, does that affect you returning my God damn movie?

And now it’s today. I’ve been told the movie was once again forgotten at home but this time he’s going home at lunch to get it. Here’s hoping.

Where am I going with this? Well, basically, my point is that I guess some people have a certain inherent level of responsibility and some folks don’t. Now, I’m not at all saying this guy is irresponsible, just that some people don’t “forget it at home.” He’s a younger guy, and what I begin to wonder is if all young people today are the same way, where certain levels of responsibility (or respect?) don’t exist (or don’t matter?), whereas my generation has a more inherent sense of such things. Then I wonder whether it isn’t the same way between my parents’ generation and mine - do they think we lack responsibility and/or discipline? Probably so.

And that sort of worries me, because if the trend continues then what I see on the horizon is anarchy rather than salvation. Maybe too much freedom and not enough discipline is not necessarily the best way to bring kids up. Or maybe I’m extrapolating too much from a single isolated case.

Finally, I got a message a bit ago from the guy in charge of, a site where I have entered contests before and won free movie passes. Remember my Malibu incident? Well, they’ve since updated the look, feel, and quality of their site and they seem interested in enhancing that quality further by recruiting yours truly to become a volunteer staff writer. I’m waiting to hear back on the details, but it could be a cool thing. I’ll keep you posted.

music comments edit

Something I forgot to mention in the last few entries was that I bought a couple of CDs to listen to on the trip to Bellevue and back. In searching for them, I looked for some decent upbeat dance-style music so I could stay awake and do a little toe-tapping.

What I found was t.A.T.u.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m never first on the bandwagon for things, though many times I’d like to be, so I’m sure some of you have already discovered this musical gem. For those not in the know, I’ll enlighten you. See, t.A.T.u. is either a miracle gift from God Himself or a total stroke of Pure Marketing Genius.

Imagine if you will… two hot… teenage… Russian… lesbians… who wear Catholic school girl outfits… and sing really killer dance songs.

That’s right, you heard me correctly. Hot teenage Russian lesbians in school girl outfits singing dance songs. That’s like something straight out of hentai. But it’s true, and I’m totally sucked in, probably exactly as the t.A.T.u. marketing team figured I would be.

The thing is, I’d be enraged at the whole manipulation of my inner male if I wasn’t so stoked about the music. I actually like every song on the album. It’s even better in the native Russian language - there are only two Russian versions on the album I have, but now I’m trying to find the full original Russian version of the album.

Anyway, if you’re into the dance thing, check out their album 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane. I’m groovin’ to it right now.

I’ve thus far only found one down side - they’re young, so they’re not performers. I was over at searching for performances because I’d heard they were okay, but to me the show I saw was pretty robotic looking. I’m sure they’ll improve with time, which is just fine with me.

personal comments edit

The trip home was probably the most stressful part of the entire venture into Bellevue. I left convienently at 4:45p from the class - just enough time to struggle onto the freeway (all of those Microsofties leave around then, combined with the construction that screwed me on the way up in the first place) and crawl the 20 miles to Tacoma.

Of course, I had to stop and pee on the way because it took me like an hour and a half to get that far and I had been drinking loads of Mountain Dew.

The way home, other than that, was pretty uneventful. I discovered only a few things of interest on the way.

First, my car goes 95mph just as easily as it goes 50mph.

Second, there is definitely a Hooters in Tacoma, and I definitely need to go.

Third, if you see a giant neon sign advertising a “BJ Tournament,” it’s not what you think it is. It’s probably attached to a casino and it probably involves cards.

Finally, along the Washington-Oregon border there is a magic curtain that everyone passes through and instantly forgets how to drive. I mean, it’s like a wall. People can be going 70mph on the road with no issues not five minutes before, but you hit the border and people just forget how to drive. They stop signalling, they slow down for no apparent reason, they go slow in the fast lane and fast in the slow lane… it’s ridiculous.

And now I’m home. Not much more I can say about that. It was nice to sleep in my own bed last night, but isn’t it always nicer to sleep in your own bed?

dotnet, personal comments edit

We’re just about done here. I’m going to post now and get things ready to go.

I’ve got a nice long drive ahead of me. Bah. Wednesday, June 25


I was told last night that my classroom play-by-plays aren’t so interesting all the time. (Thanks, Jenn.) I won’t deny that. They probably are a little more boring than my standard rant about some stupid asshole who can’t figure out that going 30 to merge on a freeway traveling 60 isn’t going to work.

But look at it this way - you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Right? I mean, it’s not like I’m sitting here getting five days worth of class in three days while sipping piña coladas or some shit. I’m getting the crap beat out of me (from a mental perspective) and working on the “misery loves company” philosophy. Sorry this isn’t as entertaining as all that, but no one’s life is always entertaining. At least, not on paper.

Now, in person, clever-and-funny is my modus operandi. At least, I think so. I can probably find a few people out there who will [reluctantly] agree.

Ate dinner last night at Burgermaster, sort of a farewell between me and the master of burgers, and got a bacon cheeseburger with onion rings. My mouth is still greasy, and I continue to burp oniony goodness even this morning. I’m sure my classmates are going to love that.

I’m working on redoing my blog using CSS (in an effort to lower the quantity of HTML on the site), but I’ve run into some issues getting the three-column format to work entirely in CSS… I’ll have to keep working on this. I’d like to get rid of tables entirely so I can more easily change the look and feel of the site when that time comes. Plus, again, I’m running out of space on the server… I’ve gotta reduce the size of each page.


We’re talking now about accessibility - making applications available to disabled users. It’s interesting how much infrastructure there is that I was never even aware of before. Definitely something that I need to take advantage of in my endeavors.

To that end, I should probably download this Zoom+ app (just for demo/development purposes):


We just finished talking about how to add help to your applications. Now it’s time for lunch - back to the little dicey deli they’ve got down the block. I had an iffy roast beef sandwich that actually bled a little, so I’m curious what else they’ve got up their sleeves for me.


The deli provided a satisfactory lunch involving a sandwich of various meat-food types and some green lettuce-like substance. I had to remove one of the lettuce formations from the sandwich due to its recalcitrant nature. Those giant hunks of hard… whatever that stuff is… just don’t fly with me.

I barely finished eating before we started class again, so I’m just now getting to the lunch discussion. Not much to say beyond that, though. We’ve gone through application localization and now we’re into deployment. Yeah, that’s boring. I know. You should be in the class.


We’re on the last module now - security. It’s starting to look a lot like the security talk I heard in the class I was in last week. I’m hoping this will be a review rather than a load of new concepts. I’m beat, and I’ve got a long drive ahead of me.

During the few breaks we’ve had I’ve worked some more on getting the CSS built up for my blog. It’s actually a lot more complex than I’d originally thought it was going to be, but I can already see the space savings it will provide.

You might wonder why I care about space. Well, right now I’ve only got like 10MB on my web host. With that little space, every bit counts. Since GreyMatter (my blog package) statically renders each entry into its own page, if I can reduce each entry’s size by a little bit, the sum total of savings is much larger. Each page currently is around 15KB in size. I might be able to cut that in half with CSS, which means I can have twice as many entries before I have to move to a new host. Plus the ease of reformatting that CSS provides. I can revamp the whole site with no issues. Win-win, as they say.

If I do end up moving, I’m going to migrate to Movable Type with a database back end. That way I can get pages rendered on the fly and save a hell of a lot more space. I’ll also be able to have a better search/category facility.

But I’m cheap, and I don’t want to pay for hosting right now. So we get what we get. Maybe I can get permission at work to put up a publicly accessible blog server. Hmmm…


I think I’m just going to go ahead and post this thing. We’re almost done, and I’m sure nothing else is going to be interesting prior to going home.

All I know is I have a lot of messing around with programming to do before I really have this stuff down.

dotnet, personal comments edit

Well, that’s the end of day 2. This is a little tougher than I’d like, with five days packed into three. Here’s the play by play. Tuesday, June 24


I didn’t come in so early for class today, figuring I got here an hour early yesterday so I didn’t need to do that again. Even so, I was still the first person here. It makes me wonder if people work on “Bellevue time” or something.

After class yesterday I went back to my hotel to drop my books and things off, called Jenn, and headed out to find some dinner. I figured since I had a microwave, I’d maybe find some microwave meals and save a little money.

On the way into downtown Bellevue I scrapped that idea and decided I was craving some Taco Bell. Sometimes it’s a good thing to make a run for the border, right?

I drove around for probably 45 minutes getting a feel for the place and looking for Taco Bell.

Taco Bell, to the best of my knowledge, does not exist in Bellevue. Neither, for that matter, does Carl’s Jr., my second choice of eatery. I found McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Jack in the Box, and any number of other mom-and-pop food joints, but neither Taco Bell nor Carl’s Jr. were anywhere to be found.

To that end, here’s something else interesting: On my trip up here yesterday, I started getting hungry so I made a deal with myself that the next “Food Next Exit” sign I saw that advertised a Carl’s Jr., I’d go.

I made it all the way to Bellevue without eating.

Jack in the Box seems to be pretty prominent up here, though. Almost every exit had a Jack.

Anyway, all that adds up to me eating at Taco Del Mar last night, which is a great burrito joint despite the fact that I don’t eat fish tacos. I ate there several times (at Taco Del Mar, but not necessarily that particular franchise) last time I was up here. They seem to have quite a number of them here, whereas back home I can only think of one location off the top of my head.

There wasn’t much to do last night since I didn’t go to that party, so I ended up reading this book I’ve been pushing myself through for the last couple of months or so. I’m hoping to get it pretty much done by the time my Harry Potter book gets here, but I’m reading pretty slowly so I’m not sure that’ll happen.


The guy sitting behind me, ever the proud father, is telling this story about how his kid was asking to take his training wheels off his bike and learned last night to ride the bike. He’s actually telling the teacher about it, but I can tell…

The teacher doesn’t care a damn bit, any more than I do.

I understand the whole “proud father” thing, but the proud father really needs to understand this right now - nobody but him gives two shits about this kid riding his bike. Seriously. I’m gonna have to slap this guy pretty soon.


Interesting XML link (for those who are interested in such things):

It’s a chart of all of the different XML specifications, how they relate to each other, and links to the specs themselves.


Nobody calls me at work. Ever. Until I get into training, that is.

See, my cell phone rings when my desk phone rings. Normally, that means pretty much never. But when I get into training, people somehow decide that sending me email just isn’t enough anymore so they call me.

Again. And again. And again.

Because my voicemail message that says I’m out of the office isn’t fucking clear enough.

You know, I hate the phone. You want me to respond to you nicely? Send me an email. Chances are, if you’re calling me, it’s probably while I’m trying to focus on something. That doesn’t make me want to help you - it makes me want to pull your fucking chicken neck through the phone so I can throttle you to death. I will respond to your question quickly and completely in email. Call me? I’ll probably end up answering your question later… in email.


We weren’t going to really get any lab time in this class due to the short time we have here, but the instructor is letting us do some of them that he thinks are important.

There is a total learning curve on this stuff for me. 11:41a

I’m starting to get this headache because I’m so exhausted. Sleep at this hotel is light at best, and the stuff we’re learning here is pretty heavy. Good stuff, but it’s stressing me out. I mean, I’m all for “challenge” and all that, but there’s only a certain amount of challenge that I can take before I get exhausted. When I learn a new concept, I need to use it and become comfortable with it before I move on to the next concept. The way this class is going, the new ideas come flying past and I’m feeling sort of overwhelmed.

Right now we’re talking about database access. Stuff that I learned about in last week’s class. I am totally blanking on the stuff because I barely got a chance to look at the stuff from last class and now we’re going headlong into this new stuff and I’m sinking.

I think I’ll feel better when I get to use this stuff. Also when I have some practice tests to look at and try. The way I work, I always use reference materials when I’m programming. No such luck on the tests.

Plus, I really have to pee.


Lunchtime. Plus, restroom break. Rockin’.


It’s amazing the difference a little food and a couple of Excedrin Migraine tablets can make in your outlook on things. Before lunch, I was feeling pretty bogged down by all this stuff, now I feel like I can take on the world.

I’ll have to remember the Excedrin Migraine before I take any of these tests.

My book (The Bear and the Dragon) is finally starting to get somewhere, which is good - it’s only taken like 400 pages. Tom Clancy spared no expense on the intro for this one. I’m actually starting to like what’s going on. I’m hoping the payoff is worth the time spent with the setup.


Hey, we’re talking XML web services - the class I took last week. I’m good to go here. Score!


Mind… wandering… can’t… focus…


We just came back from break and while I’m a little refreshed, I can’t help but feel pretty wiped out. I mean, we’re learning a lot of good stuff here, but the key word there is “LOT” - this is definitely a five-day class packed into three days. By the end of tomorrow, I’m definitely going to be ready to go home. The more I think about it, the more irritated I am that this is the three-day version and not the five-day version.


Well, that’s that. We ended up talking about how to get things to print properly… and it looks like a real bitch. Lesson: don’t print anything. Heh.

It’s time to go.