Monday, November 29, 2004

Don't entertain me. Inspire me.

Thanksgiving was fun; Tam's family came up here, so there were nine people and two cats in my house. It sometimes felt a bit crowded, but, hey, what can you do? And it was always good to see my niece and nephew.

Unfortunately, it appears that the virii inhabiting our bodies used this as a chance to find new hosts. Tam stayed home sick today, and I didn't get in to work until 12:30. Ah, well... nothing important is going on at work, anyway, which says more about the state of things at work than my sickness.

My car was also a bit sick -- it had a hard time turning over this morning. Sounds like the battery is going (which doesn't surprise me -- it's due for a battery change methinks). I just hope it has enough juice to get me home or to an NTB store.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Nah. The US isn't an overly litigious society. From The Register:
A New York woman who ran up debts of $951,000 on her Amex account is sueing the company for $2m for allowing her to hammer the plastic, Newsday reports.

Antoinette Millard, 40, says American Express should have realised she was mentally incompetent when she opened the sky's-the-limit Centurion account. Her court filing states that American Express "knew or should have known that [Millard] was acting impulsively and and irrationally at the time she entered into contract". She cites anorexia, depression, panic attacks and "head tumors" as contributory factors to her mental incompetence.

American Express has obtained a court order freezing $951,000 in assets belonging to the former vice president at the Brown Brothers Harriman investment bank. To add to Millard's woes, she is currently on $100,000 bail awaiting trial on grand larceny charges after attempting to relieve an insurance company of $262,000 for jewellery she claims was stolen, but allegedly sold. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years' jail.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

For those of you going from, to, or through Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving, the tolls might be waived on the Turnpike tomorrow due to a pending strike.

If the strike lasts beyond tomorrow, fares will be a flat $2 regardless of distance traveled. It's normally ~$19 from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Complete the following sentences.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Answering a recruiting query...

I got a query from a recruiter with some large, random semiconductor company, and found the following question rather amusing:

7. Do you have legal authorization to work for any employer in the
United States without any restrictions at all? If yes, please explain.

My reply: (and, yes, I actually sent this):

I'm sure the IRS, FBI, and other TLAs might not be happy if I started
working for La Cosa Nostra or other mafia groups, drug lords, terrorists,
etc. So those are out. Otherwise, I'm a native US citizen, never been
arrested, never even been audited... heck, the only tickets I've gotten are
for parking violations at Carnegie Mellon. Hm. Maybe my life is too

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I'm not a vegetarian...

... and I don't even play one on TV, but this is just gross.

That's 1,640 calories and 100 g of fat, kids.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

And back to Pittsburgh again.

I couldn't get a direct flight back, so I connected in Denver. Aside from getting up at 3:30 am to catch the 6:00 flight and sitting next to someone who was built like a linebacker from Denver to Pittsburgh, it was a good flight. Denver splits the trip into nice halves, and it's an easy airport to get around; contrast with Chicago/O'Hare, which is 75% of the way to Pittsburgh (so you have an annoying puddle jumper-ish flight to deal with), has terminals spaced halfway to Milwaukee, and tends to cause luggage delays.

Spent most of yesterday hanging with my cousin, Jane, in Monterey. (If you're stalking me now, well, Hi Jane!) I hadn't been there since I was a kid (fourth grade?). Very nice area. Very expensive area. Not as far from SJ as I thought it was (though I was still feeling sleepy on the drive back... even though it was only 10:30). I also found out some curious family secrets I hadn't known before.

Saw The Incredibles with some college friends on Friday night. Excellent movie. I highly recommend it.

The conference/forum -- which was the main purpose for this trip -- was Thursday, but was mostly unremarkable. There were two good presentations, about three fair ones, and the rest were kind of a waste of time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Annnnnd... I return to San Jose with a vengeance. Or at least a yearning -- a now-fulfilled yearning -- for In-N-Out.

Monday, November 8, 2004

Oh, this is sad.

Cadence gives you an award when you reach various service milestones. I don't have any, coming from an acquisition, but my prior time counts for ~4 years of service; I should receive one next year.

Anyway, this story isn't about me, but our sysadmin, Bill Schrier. Bill just reached the 3 year service milestone and received an extra vacation day and a plaque in the mail. Yeah, managers can't be bothered to hand it out at a meeting or anything. That's anticlimatic.

What makes it sad is that the plaque recognizes "Venkat Schrier for three years of outstanding service."

Yeah. They couldn't be bothered to get his name right.

Maybe Venkat is the guy they're going to outsource his job to? :-P

I'm fine

Thanks for the well-wishes. :-) It's just office politics. Short story: I answered a number of random questions for coworkers in Tempe last week without knowing why they were asking these questions. They edited my responses down, removed any sort of context, spun up story about how myself and another guy here allowed IP (intellectual property) to escape the company, and submitted it to our director. It has no basis in reality, so we're safe, but now I have to deal with the aftermath.

Thanks for the knife in the back, assholes.

Anyhow, here's a very Dilbert moment at work. Take one news story about a 12-year old Arkansas girl who won a $10,000 savings bond by blowing a 16 inch bubble at the Double Bubble National Bubble Blowing Contest. Take one bag of Double Bubble gum left over from Halloween. Take three coworkers on a slow Monday at work. Hilarity ensues.

I did manage to blow a 10" bubble. I'll have to work my way up from there...

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Arlen Specter

Ah, I'm so glad we (Penna.) reelected Arlen Specter to the Senate. Powerful guy who is also very level headed... and likely to be the head of the Judiciary committee overseeing the appointment of 3-4 Supreme Court justices in the near future.

Excerpts from an AP wire story:
The Republican expected to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee next year bluntly warned newly re-elected President Bush on Wednesday against putting forth Supreme Court nominees who would seek to overturn abortion rights or are otherwise too conservative to win confirmation.

"The president is well aware of what happened, when a number of his nominees were sent up, with the filibuster," Specter added, referring to Senate Democrats' success over the past four years in blocking the confirmation of many of Bush's conservative judicial picks. "... And I would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations which I am mentioning."

With at least three Supreme Court justices rumored to be eyeing retirement, including ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Specter, 74, would have broad authority to reshape the nation's highest court. He would have wide latitude to schedule hearings, call for votes and make the process as easy or as hard as he wants.

While Specter is a loyal Republican - Bush endorsed him in a tight Pennsylvania GOP primary - he routinely crosses party lines to pass legislation and counts a Democrat, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, as one of his closest friends.

A self-proclaimed moderate, he helped kill President Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court and of Jeff Sessions to a federal judgeship. Specter called both nominees too extreme on civil rights issues. Sessions later became a Republican senator from Alabama and now sits on the Judiciary Committee with Specter.
Ok, I know that some people have claimed that they want to leave the country if Bush was reelected, but isn't this a bit extreme?

Naked man jumps into wheel well of Australia-bound flight at LAX

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Nous sommes désolés que notre president soit un idiot.
Nous n'avons pas vote pour lui.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

More election musings...

Lots of distractions today. Every time I try to edit a bit more code, someone comes by with either a question on unrelated code or random comment about the election. I don't think much work will get done here today, by myself or anyone else.

Ah, well.

Part of me feels like ranting, "If Bush wins, I'm moving to {Canada,France,Europe,AnywhereButHere}." But I know that I won't actually move. Regardless of the outcome of the election, the United States will still be the best place on earth for conducting scientific research and engineering, hands down, in both our universities and in industry.

But we're riding the coattails of the investments during the space race and cold war. If we continue down this path, we will -- in 15-25 years -- find ourselves behind India and Japan, and possibly China. Less likely is Europe, for they need to get their house in order.

In other news, Matt (coworker) and I tried the new $3.99 pizza lunch buffet place today (Cici's). The catch is that the $3.99 doesn't include a drink; add in tax, and it's $5.65. Still cheap as far as eating out goes, but not cheap if you consider that a large pizza is about $8 (and sodas from the canteen are 40¢). The food wasn't anything to write home about, but wasn't bad, either.

We were debating whether it was a chain or not. Neither of us had heard of it, and the place didn't quite look polished enough to be a chain, but they did have custom-printed pizza boxes. A quick google reveals that, yes, it is a chain. A very large chain, though mostly in the south. This seems to be one of their few locations north of the Mason-Dixon line.
Got in late this morning to nurse a sick wife and cast my ballot. 'tis all good, though. I don't mind missing a bit of work that I don't care for. Any notion of "work ethic" was lost when they screwed me over, repeatedly, this past summer.

As points out, we have the old lever machines which look like they're from, and probably are from, the 1940s. I do worry whether they're actually doing anything on the backend, whether the old mechanical "chunk chunk click click click" counters are doing their thing.

Since I've been able to vote, I've been a registered Republican. Today, though, I pulled so many Democratic levers -- in fact, the only Republican levers were for Melissa Hart (House) and Arlen Specter (Senate). I find it alarming and sad that the party of Lincoln has strayed so far from his legend [*].

I do think that we need an electronic voting platform, but one that is open and can be subject to scrutiny by both voting/security experts and armchair forensicologists. I'm vaguely thinking of spearheading a technical effort on this front... hmm...

[*] I say "legend" rather than "ideals" because we have idealized the man and gloss over some rough spots: in a modern context, for example, he would be considered racist, and his handling of generals during the Civil War was not the best. But we do need to read his achievements in the correct historical context. So I don't have a problem with the elementary school textbooks that distill him as the hero who stood up to slavery and kept the nation together; we do need heros to look up to. Nonetheless, I would hope that anyone who has graduated from high school in the U.S. would realise that history is not as black-and-white as we'd like it to be. (Not the case, I know, but I can hope...)