sql comments edit

Warning: I’m gonna geek out on you now. If you understand what this one says, cool. If not, don’t worry about it. It’s not a topic for everyone.


I went to a lunchtime training at work today on SQL. I know a meager amount, enough to get by in my daily programming duties. I pick up a little here and there as I go, and I manage to get the job done.

This guy at work taught us 25 different ways to use the SELECT statement in SQL. It was unbelieveable. I understand it so much better now. Little tricks to get query results properly formatted and such… doing calculations on result sets… it totally rocked.

The last example he showed was how he helped his eighth grade daughter solve a calculus problem in SQL. Not the most computationally efficient process (the SQL Server version of the program took 50 seconds to run; the VB version took 8 seconds), but the fact that you can do it is pretty darn cool in my book.

Also, the concept of NULL is a lot more clear in the context of SQL. I guess I never realized that (at least with SQL Server) you have to specifically ask for values that are NULL or they don’t get returned in the result set. For example, the statement

SELECT name, city, state FROM address_table WHERE state <> ‘CA’

will not return rows where the state is NULL. I guess I figured it would, since NULL obviously doesn’t equal ‘CA’ but apparently you have to specifically ask for those, like this:

SELECT name, city, state FROM address_table WHERE state <> ‘CA’ OR state IS NULL

Funky. But it was cool to learn that stuff, especially some of the more advanced syntax involving calculations on the result set (totals, etc.).

Well, enough geeking for now.

SQL SELECT - Minute to learn, lifetime to master.

music comments edit

I’m pretty busy today, so I’m going to have to be brief…

I just noticed there’s a new volume of the Moulin Rouge soundtrack out. I guess I’ll be spending some hard-earned cash on that one soon; it’s got “The Pitch (Spectacular! Spectacular!)” on it - how can I pass that up? The first volume has ingrained itself into my brain, I suppose this one can take its rightful place alongside it.

The review on the Amazon.com page for this new volume says that “there are but two kinds of people in the world: Those captivated by Baz Luhrmann’s heady, postmodernist musical romp Moulin Rouge–and everybody else.” I think I’m going to have to agree with that. It’s not for everyone. Though I think many of the folks who didn’t like it might be missing the point anyway.

gaming, playstation, auto comments edit

A few quick random thoughts before I go off on my general rant:

  • I got my car back on Friday (thank goodness). The stupid key scratches are totally gone, and it looks like brand new. The people at the shop even stayed late to make sure I got it back and didn’t have to drive The Babemobile all weekend. If you ever require auto body services in the Portland, Oregon area, I highly recommend Chris and John’s Auto Body. These guys rock.
  • If you happen to be upgrading servers with the latest patches and drivers, make sure you have the latest version of the ROM BIOS installed. I did a few upgrades last thing on Friday night (just before leaving to get my car) and I found out that, due to the lack of a current BIOS install, the machines wouldn’t reboot properly. I fixed that first thing today and all is well. Lesson learned.
  • Windows Update is the bomb.
  • Fred Meyers has a load of great Playstation 2 games for $20. I picked up Extreme G3 Racing this weekend for $20. That’s quite a bargain, considering it’s still going for $50 at other stores.

Okay, now for the larger issue at hand.

I finished playing Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty this weekend. This has been an ongoing struggle for me. I started it last weekend, thinking it was going to be a reasonably short game (having heard that from other folks). I even put it on the “Very Easy” level because, frankly, I’m not the most coordinated video game player (though I can definitely hold my own at SSX: Tricky). I just wanted to see the story and how it all played out.

What a mistake.

The story to this thing is the most convoluted, contrived piece of crap I could possibly have imagined. I’m not sure what pissed me off the most. Maybe it was the fact that the whole time you play for, like, five minutes and then see half an hour of cut scenes… or maybe it was that you don’t actually play as Solid Snake for the majority of the game… it could be that the character you do play as has this whiny bitch girlfriend who keeps asking if you “remember what tomorrow is”… it also might be the fact that you got to hear the life story of every stupid peripheral character in the whole game, regardless of how insignificant…

No, I think the thing that pissed me off the most was the simple reality that the game, after all was said and done, was as trite and stupid as a philosophy 101 class.

Yeah, that’s right. It’s just a big exercise in philosophy.

Basically, it ends up where you’re never quite sure if the “adventure” you just went on was real or not. Then they start asking you “what is real?” and “what makes something real?” The last 45 minutes, no exaggeration, is a big long movie that basically throws out that “real is what your brain tells you is real” and people need to discover who they are by interacting with others, blah, blah, blah.

Oh, and your whiny bitch girlfriend turns out to be a spy sent to report on your every move, but somewhere between finding out she’s a spy and the end of the game, your character just forgets the whole spy thing and you actually propose marriage. What the hell…?!

If you like soap operas, you’ll love MGS2. If you like melodrama, you’ll love MGS2. I think Jenn said it best - “I’ve never seen a video game with so much video.” I have to agree. I love a game with a good story, but if I have to watch 15 minutes of video for every five minutes I get to play, there’s something drastically wrong there. It’s not so much a game as it is an interactive movie.

Anyway, that really chapped my hide. I spent like 10 hours this weekend trying to finish that thing and then got slapped in the face by a beginner’s philosophy lesson.

That said, I think the game has a much higher value when you replay it. Because then you can skip all the story crap and focus on the game. I think if you do that, you’ll have a better time with it. I don’t have the patience to test that, though.

To that end, I started playing Grand Theft Auto 3, which is more my speed. You can just randomly beat the crap out of anyone on the street with a baseball bat if you want. There’s a meager story to it, where you do missions and stuff, but you don’t sit and wallow in the “inner beauty” of it all. You go out, you kick ass. If your mission is to shoot some guy who’s selling drugs to some other guy’s prostitutes, you drive up, shoot the guy, and go collect your money. Bam. No philosophy there except maybe figuring out which end of the baseball bat is real (and let me tell you, the business end of that thing is definitely real). That game frickin’ rocks.

Minor side note: To all those idiots who decided it was a good idea to burn down their houses because Beavis and Butthead did it, don’t buy this game. It’s not for people who can’t figure out what the phrase “it’s just a game” means. Save the world, and yourself, a lot of heartache and go buy a Nintendo GameCube and some Pokemon games.

humor comments edit

Comedian Lewis Black has a good bit he does about how certain phrases people say in their conversation stick out, sort of like someone saying your name really loud in a crowded room, so that your mind grabs hold of them and ponders them out of context.

I think the phrase Black overhears (while sitting in the local IHOP) is “If it weren’t for my horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college.”


Right. So I was thinking about some of the conversations I’ve had recently, and I realized that a lot of the stuff I (or, more directly, the people I’m talking to) say is extremely context-sensitive. My favorites as of late: “Holy shit, Suze! I was just on fire!” (Which was followed closely thereafter with “And then, after I put myself out…“)


I just got a call from the auto body shop. My car is fixed! That’s a really good thing, since that means I don’t have to drive The Babemobile all weekend.

humor, auto comments edit

I took my car in to the shop to get the key scratch fixed today. I’m not sure when it’ll be done. I hope it will be soon, because instead of my car (which I love), I’m driving The Babemobile.

The Babemobile earned its name because that is precisely what it is not. It’s a 1988(?) Plymouth Voyager. There are several issues with it:

  • It’s a 4 cylinder engine. In a minivan. Floor it, and it might go 50mph. Downhill, with a tailwind.
  • The hood is rusting through, which gives the paint a nice, abused patina.
  • It shoots black smoke out of the tailpipe. I tried to convince myself that it was just a camouflaging device, similar to the ink that squids shoot at predators. But then when Scotty called up from the engine room “She can’t take much more of this!” I knew it was all just a lie.
  • It turns like a wounded tugboat. I’ve taken to calling out directions in terms of “port” and “starboard.”
  • Everything on it is loose. As you drive, the whole van chatters and squeaks like a small herd of lab rats.

That’s not a comprehensive list by any means, but you get the idea.

Anyway, all that totals up to is that I really just want my car back so we can donate this thing to the Humane Society or something. Maybe that $500 can feed some kitties or something.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. If the van didn’t exist, I’d be renting a car right now, which costs money. Free is [negligibly] better than not free.