movies, business comments edit

You sort of have to read that with The Mamas and Papas in mind.

I’m so glad that it’s Friday. This week has been total hell and I’m pretty pleased that it’s around eight hours until it’s all over. I’ve got a stack of DVDs sitting on my coffee table at home that have been calling to me, and I think I will sit my fat ass down on the couch and soak up a little of that.

This weekend is looking to be pretty busy. On Saturday Jenn and I are going to go play Laser Tag with our friends Jason and Tracy. Sunday we’re going to see Shanghai Knights with my friend Torin. I’m still considering going to that William Gibson book signing downtown, but if I’m in the same mood then as I am now, I’ll skip it in favor of taking a break.

I have to interview an intern candidate today. I have interviewed job applicants before, but it’s been a while, so I thought about the questions I wanted to ask. We’re doing sort of a “panel” interview, where the whole team will interview the person at the same time. What I want to avoid are those questions like “Please describe to me a time where you demonstrated problem solving skills.” That’s not even really a question, is it? Anyway, those sorts of questions are so utterly uncreative and intimidating that it’s hard to think that anyone could give a realistic, decent answer. With questions like that, the entire thing is skewed so the person will respond the way they think you want them to respond.

Instead, I like to go a more creative route. I’ll ask the standard “What interests you about the position?” style questions, but I like to see the person’s problem solving skills. The two questions I’ve settled on are: “Why are manhole covers round?” and “How would you determine the number of tires sold in the US last year?”

The manhole cover question actually has an answer. If they know, fine. If not, you get to see them think about why that might be. The tire question is something I stole from my old boss; it’s good to see (and hear) the process the person would go through to figure something like that out so that you can get a little insight into the way they would work in a problem solving situation.

I thought about asking more brain-teaser-oriented questions, but looking up brain teasers online yielded mostly math-related questions. I’m not here to test the candidate’s math skills; I just want to see their problem solving process.

If I’m up to it, I may go through this mathematical proof that one of my college professors showed us that proves 0 = 1. There’s an error in it, and the trick is to see if the person was paying attention and can find where the error lies. It might be a little beyond just a high school level math course, though (I can’t remember what sort of math they teach in high school… has it been too long for me?), so I will probably leave that in my bag of tricks for some later time.

personal comments edit

I was over at Tanya’s reading a small nugget about the various IDs she carries and how some could be forged easier than others when I started thinking a bit…

Jenn and I just recently went to go get passports. Now, in the US, for a new passport application you need to bring your driver’s license and your birth certificate. To get a driver’s license, you need three documents: one “proof of age” and two “proof of identity.” At least, that’s how it is in Oregon.

The proof of age for your license can be your birth certificate. This can double as one of the proof of identity documents. The other proof of identity could be a company ID card, a medical card, or some other such thing.

The company ID, medical card, or other proof of ID could very easily be forged. I could whip something up on my printer in about 10 minutes for that. Basically, the only thing stopping you would be the birth certificate. They’re printed on special paper so you really can’t just forge one up.

Fortunately (or unfortunately?), Jenn had somewhere along the lines lost her birth certificate, so she had to go in to get a new one. $15 and a few minutes later, she had a brand-spanking-new one. No one checked any ID or anything on her; she just had to know things like her mom’s maiden name and a couple of other things that could pretty easily be obtained by anyone who really exerted the least bit of effort.

Then I started thinking about movies where you see these people going through all this trouble to have passports made and things, and I was thinking, you know, you could get a fake passport a whole lot easier if you actually went through the legal channels. Nobody questions anything, and a few weeks later it gets mailed to your house. One would think there would be more of a background check or something prior to issuing a new birth certificate, but apparently not. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

personal, home comments edit

I’m not fighting fires anymore at work, which is good, considering that it took me until today to struggle out of the debris of the server crashing around me.

I have learned something through this process: If a computer says anything to the effect of Hardware Error on it, fix the damn thing immediately. Don’t put it off and hem and haw around on it. It will screw you in the end.

With the work thing, it’s been an overly hectic week so far. I’m feeling stressed out and have adopted an equal-opportunity style of hatred - I hate everyone equally, and a lot. I’m really, really tired and I’m becoming anti-social because I feel like there’s always someone else that has some problem that has to be fixed right fucking now and I wish people would just leave me alone with that crap.

It’s been suggested that I take a vacation or something. The only thing I get out of a day of vacation is one more day behind in the stuff that I need to get done. With the way we’re so short staffed around here, there’s no one here that can pick up the slack if I take a day off; everything I have to do actually requires personal attention. Let me tell you how annoying that is.

The spare bedroom is almost cleaned up and sorted out after the Great Storage Closet Move of ‘03. It’s looking much better now that things have been mostly boxed up, but the boxes are all strewn about the room and things need to be stacked up and stuck in the closets around the house where they belong. The living room looks less crowded with one less bookcase in it, that bookcase having been transplanted in the spare room. Hopefully we will be able to cram a chair in that other room, too, which will open up the living room more than I can explain. As it is, I’m enjoying walking about unhindered, not being so closed in by the skinny passageway between the kitchen and the living room.

I had lunch at Carl’s Jr. today. I cannot begin to describe the tasty morsel of food which is their Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger.

I’m looking at my phone here at work… the message light is blinking but my phone never rang. How can you get voicemail if no one calls you? This is ridiculous.

hardware comments edit

I’ve got this server here at work that’s been having some minor hardware problems. I reported the issue to the systems engineer in charge of such things around the seventh of January. It’s the third of February and the problem still isn’t solved.

The recommended course of action I was told was to swap out the existing hard drives, one by one, to see which of the drives was causing the problem. (For those unfamiliar with RAID, this actually isn’t a problem; if you pull a drive out of a machine and put in a new one, the data magically gets restored to the new drive without missing a beat.)

I didn’t think this was too big of a deal. I’ve replaced drives before, and the general idea sounded good if maybe a little kludgy.

I replaced the third of six drives this morning and all hell broke loose. Drives started failing, the computer blue-screened on me (which actually very rarely happens)… dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria.

After about an hour of ohshitohshitohshit style troubleshooting, we got the machine to come back up, but not in a fault-tolerant state. (That is, if something else goes wrong, I’m really screwed.)

Now I’m in the process of migrating all of the data and settings from the broken machine to a new, better one. This was part of a larger plan and I was going to have to do it eventually anyway, but it’s a long process that isn’t really automated and I was going to test things out and get things working in a reliable fashion first.

From what it looks like now, I’m not getting out of here until after 5:00p. Considering that I wanted to go home early, this isn’t good news. Fucking typical.

personal comments edit

I was up way too early this morning.

I woke up at 5:39a because I had to pee really bad. Normally I get up at 6:15a, and that left me with two choices: Either I could get up, pee, come back to bed, take 20 minutes to get back to sleep, and basically just get back to sleep before the alarm goes off, leaving me tired all day; or I could get up, pee, and just stay up, get ready for work, go to work early, be tired all day, and go home early. Regardless of the choice, I was going to be tired all day; the thing that tipped the scale was the “go home early” part of the second option, which is the one I ended up choosing.

Normally, leaving my house at 7:00a, it takes me about 30 - 45 minutes to get to work. Today, leaving around 6:15a, I got to work by 6:35a. (I had this craving to listen to Billy Ocean on my way to work today, hence the title of the entry.) That’s hella faster, all chalked up to the morons that clog up the freeway during rush hour.

Speaking of rush hour and driving and such, Jenn and I went to the Portland Auto Show this weekend. Never having been to an auto show before, I was pleasantly surprised at some of the cool things they had. I admit I was hoping to see more in the way of future/concept cars (there really weren’t any), but they did have lots of other stuff. Just about every model from every manufacturer was on the floor, and that was neat to see.

We spent more than our fair share of time at the MINI booth. I’ve always had a penchant for small, fun cars and the MINI Cooper has been one of my favorites for a long time. Their return to the US after 30 years of absence is a welcome one, and had I not already bought my car, I’d be looking at buying a MINI. Jenn wasn’t as hot on them as I was before the show, but after seeing one in person and getting a chance to sit in it, she’s hooked, too.

Money, of course, is a whole separate issue entirely.

The MINI ad campaign centers around the concept of motoring, which seems to be a Zen-style approach to driving where regardless of where you are, as long as you’re in your car you should feel like you’re in Nirvana. I thought about adopting this philosophy in my driving as it would probably be more stress-free, but then I realized that I hate stupid people and feel this intrinsic need to punish idiocy (i.e., if you can’t figure out how to merge properly, you don’t get in on the freeway), and that affects my driving much more than some ad campaign ever could, so that was a wash.

I bought a lottery ticket for this past Saturday’s Powerball drawing. I took the ticket in on Sunday to scan it at one of those machines that tells you if you won or not. It went something like this:


Travis, 26, ENTERs the store and strides confidently to the lottery scanning machine. He wonders what he will do with the millions of dollars that are going to soon be entering his pockets when he discovers he is the winner.

Arriving at the lottery scanning machine, he pulls the ticket out of his wallet and runs it under the scanner.

TRAVIS Oh, yeah. Moneymoneymoneymoneymoney! Here we go…

Travis scans the ticket in the machine. The machine does nothing.

TRAVIS [grumbling] Okay, come on now. Scan me, baby.

Travis scans the ticket again. Again, nothing happens. Travis wags the ticket furiously under the scanning mechanism and finally the ticket machine responds with a message on its screen that somehow is heard as a very loud robot voice, almost as though on the PA system of the store.

SCANNING MACHINE You are a fucking loser. Next time you should just light your money on fire. If you feel up to it, please come back next week so your hopes can be trampled again. Thank you.

TRAVIS [yelling] God dammit, machine! I hate you! I hate you!

Travis EXITs the store at a fast walk, obviously irritated at the outcome of the scanning operation.

Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how it went, but it was damn close to that.

What the hell else did I do this weekend?

Oh, yeah - we got a lot more done in the way of moving things out of the apartment and into the storage closet. After making a run doing that, we went to Home Depot to pick up some supplies for installing a new shelf in our closet and fixing up an old chair we have. Got all that stuff home, worked some more on boxing things up and organizing it all… good stuff. I think my hockey friend, Jerry, summed it up best: Five pounds of shit in a two pound bag. Now that the cleaning effort is nearing completion, I might say it’s closer to four pounds of shit in a two pound bag. Better, but still not ideal.

Jerry is a total crack-up. Every time I talk to him, I find out new weird crap about him. This weekend I found out he has eight cars, two boats, and a trailer; he’s lived in the same house since 1968 (which is how the “five pounds of shit in a two pound bag” reference came up); he signed up for the Army in an effort to avoid getting drafted (apparently you have more say of where you’re stationed or something if you sign up instead of getting drafted?); and during the 70’s in the whole “return to Africa” movement (with the Black Panthers and all that), he was stationed in Libya, which was apparently where they sent all the African-American soldiers who refused to work well with others due to that movement. He was telling me about how there were stabbings and shootings and things on the Army base because of all the trouble going on. This guy seems to have done everything.

Watched the Hawks win one and lose one this weekend. They say they may still be contenders to go to the playoffs, but… well, I don’t have a lot of faith. Maybe they’ll get lucky or something.

I cleaned the grill on Sunday. That was probably the messiest thing I’ve done in a long time. I ended up using car engine degreaser to get the crap off the grid. My hands smelled like degreaser for a couple of hours after that.