Friday, December 31, 2010

Hey, I'll be in Pittsburgh tonight

And I don't really have any broadcast channel besides this blog.  I guess this is what Twitter is for.  Anyway, I'll be at Aaron's party; perhaps I will see you there.  Otherwise, want to hang out?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I thought I had a neat idea there with "let's abolish morality"

but it turns out that what I really mean is basically "I like consequentialism, not deontology."  (I've read about one whole paragraph of each of those articles.)

But argh!  Life is so much harder when you look at everything as good or bad!

(skippable elaboration: external morality is just a heuristic, right?  it's like when a kid says "why shouldn't you shoplift a candy bar?", you could say
- "well, then the store owner is out $1, and then it makes it harder for him to keep the store in business, and he might have to fire his workers, then they're out of jobs so they can't buy things, so other stores go out of business; it's got negative economic effects" or
- "if I steal, other people think it might be okay to steal, and store owners will get suspicious, and this creates a world of lies which I don't want to live in" and then explain the tragedy of the commons or
- "I might get caught and the chance of me getting caught times the badness of getting caught is more than $1", and explain how expected value works or
- "stealing is wrong."
In the adult case, it's even worse, because you don't even know the effects.  In either case, appeal to external morality is the quickest way to figure out "should I do X or Y?".  It's often a necessary hack, but it's still a hack.  And when you forget that it's just a hack, you start thinking "he loaded the dishwasher WRONG" or "she said the WRONG thing" and when people wrong you that really hurts!  But you're not really wronged in any grand true way, and because it's so minor, it's better to think about it as if you weren't even wronged.)

Urgh!  Deontologists stress me out!  Then I am reminded of a bit in "The Size of the World" by Jeff Greenwald in which his friend Sally comes to a great realization that, though she tries to be accepting of everything, she doesn't accept it when others don't accept things.  It's played for a bit of laughs in the book, but it's a lesson I'd do well to learn.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Weirdsmas!

Urgh okay I want to write a post about "can we get rid of so-called objectivity in cases of taste and see what happens?" and furthermore "can we get rid of morality and see what happens?", but that is kind of heavy, so instead I'll point out a few things that are really pleasantly droll about our Most Favorite of Favorite Days.

1. Stockings.  Okay, first of all, hanging up your sock to get presents has always been kind of silly, but okay, whatever.  But we don't even use real stockings, we use these fake things that are way bigger than feet and have a Santa stitched on them.

2. "Santa exists" jokes.  Santa Claus might be the biggest and best secular meme.  How did we, as a society, all manage to play the exact same trick on our kids?  It wouldn't even work if we all played different tricks.  Somehow we've all agreed that this red-suited dude is Santa and that is that.  I guess, once we've taken the work to establish this, we adults might as well milk this joke for all it's worth.  Well, it's only marginally more annoying than talking about the weather.

3. Quirinius.  I can imagine Quirinius being next in line to be governor of Syria.
Quirinius: but father I don't want to be governor!
His Dad: shut up I want this family to be famous for all time.
Quirinius: but we'll all be forgotten anyway!
Dad: no, the prophecy says that you will be remembered for thousands of years.  I wonder how.  That reminds me, you've got to get to work fighting those Marmaridae.  That will probably be what makes you famous.  Or maybe your campaign against the Homonadenses.  Perhaps you should concentrate on rectoring Gaius Caesar; when he is emperor, he'll surely reward you kindly.
Quirinius: I dunno, those all seem so meaningless.  I feel like I'll probably just be a footnote in history.
Dad: Son, if that's how you feel, you should get to work being the best footnote in history you can.
(75 to 100 years pass)
Dead Quirinius: booyah!

4. For some reason, my grandma can't find Wintergreen Lifesavers in Florida.  Those are like The Lifesavers.  That's like saying you can find pizzas but no red sauce: possible, but what kind of weird world exists in Florida?

5. Ded Moroz.  Why are we stuck with fat ol' Santa instead of this badass?

6. "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays": why is this an issue?  "Christmas" fanatics: regardless of what you think about Christianity and state celebrations etc, "Happy Holidays" might just mean "Happy Christmas And New Year's."  "Holidays" fanatics: Christmas is kind of cultural, it's a holiday, it's not a day of hating on anyone, so don't worry about it.  And Hanukkah and Kwanzaa: this is so goofy!  It'd be like if the US were run by Buddhists, and they decided to have Buddhaday, but it happened to be on the Feast Day of St. Stephen and Lars Ulrich's birthday, so they celebrated Buddhaday, St. Stephen's Day, and Ulrichday, to appeal to the majority Buddhists as well as the minority Christians and the Danish.  Nevermind that most Christians are indifferent to St. Stephen, and Lars Ulrich is a clown.
But, ok, Christmahanukwanza jokes are about as funny as airline food, so let's move on.

7. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus": "Santa Baby" is a goddamn ridiculous song, but at least if you accept one conceit (Santa is a sexy desirable man) it makes sense.  To be able to reconcile "ISMKSC" with our world, we'd have to accept that: A. Santa is a sexy desirable man, B. he's makin' out with random ladies after sneaking into their houses, and C. seeing your mom smoochin' (and ticklin') another dude is not only acceptable, but also cute (nay, precious) enough to deserve a song on a Mitch Miller album.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

People vs. our memories of them

I was reading "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch, and you know how it goes, he tells amazing stories about his life and all these lessons he's learned, because he's dying of pancreatic cancer at 43 or something. It's really inspiring, both the book and the lecture itself- look it up, it's everywhere.  He was pretty much sainted afterwards, which is awkward, because saying "this person, as a whole, is great" implies that other people as a whole are bad, or at least not great.

There are stories in there that portray him as this superhero, this modern techie ubermensch who created the CMU ETC and Alice with his bare hands, while stopping by along the way to work at Disney and act in Star Trek and play football and complete all of his childhood dreams.  And yet, parts of the book hint at the fact that he might not actually be Jesus #2.  Take his living situation as a young professor: a $450/month attic apartment with a card table and chairs.  Now, I thought this a cool trait, but others saw it as him refusing to grow up.  Or an incident in which he pours soda on his car seat to demonstrate to his niece and nephew that people are more important than things: awesome, or just kind of preachy and dumb?  And those are the ones that he mentions; you'd imagine there are a lot of situations where he was kind of a jerk.

So what?  Well, I guess the thing I've taken from it is: don't get so hung up on whether Randy Pausch was a good or bad guy.  It's a book of his lessons, after all, not a book in which he tries to prove he's a great guy.

And on maybe the same note, I saved this article a long time ago because it pretty perfectly captures my two thoughts on Facebook (which thoughts are apparently important to have these days):
1. Zuckerberg is wrong because he thinks we are each no more than one self.  He wants a world without privacy, where privacy is unnecessary, where your grandparents see you drunk at parties but they understand because they used to get drunk at parties too.  This idea is flawed because we will always have at least two selves: public and private.  At least until mind-reading exists.
2. Zuckerberg is wrong because he thinks we each must be a self.  A large part of Facebook is explicitly "branding" yourself.  Creating a concept.  And we each must have one concept of ourselves that we throw out to the world.  How else will you get famous?

On an even further note: you can easily distance your current self from your past self.  "Oh, that was just something I did as a kid."  You can even distance yourself from your last-year self: "I've learned a lot since then."  Can you distance yourself from your yesterday self?  Can you distance yourself from your five-minutes-ago self?  And why not?

What I'm getting at is: self is an illusion, right?

Even more tangentially, I'm glad someone coined the phrase "spiritual materialism." (end of paragraph 2.)  It's a bit of a trap I could fall into by posting "deep" things here.  "look at me, my blog is all spiritual and stuff."  I'm really just interested in throwing some ideas out there and maybe sparking some discussions later.  I'm sorry if it comes across as spiritual materialism.

I'd sort of like to remember what my life is like now.

That's most of the reason I blog ever, right?

Here are some things:
- I work.  It is alternately fun and frustrating and scary.  Fun because I am writing code that I know how to write.  Frustrating and scary because I am sort of leading development of a server, and I have no idea how to lead a software project, so I feel like I'm spinning a lot.  (about once every two weeks, I have to organize a list of "all the things we need to do."  This list started out very useless, and with every iteration becomes closer to useful.)

- I've gone to a Rinzai Zen temple three times now, which means that there's at least sorta a chance that I might keep doing it, which means it might be worth writing about here.  It's... different.  Rinzai is the more rigorous of the two main Zen branches (the other being Soto), and Zen is one of the bigger branches of Mahayana Buddhism, and Mahayana is one of two main branches of Buddhism.  Rinzai is the branch that does the koans ("what is the sound of one hand clapping?" etc) but only for advanced students.  Anyway, it's intense: you just sit, totally still, concentrating on your breathing, for 25 minutes, twice in a row.  It's super quiet.  I'm intrigued; I don't know if the rigor will tire me out, or if it will continue to bring me back because I'll feel like I'm making more progress.  It's like playing a video game on a higher difficulty level.

- I still feel like I'm not very good at meditation on the lowest level.  I'm doing okay on the physical side; sitting for 20 minutes no longer fazes me.  (although my lower back tires out quickly, which makes me hunch, and sometimes I get real sleepy.)  The mental side is still a mess, though; thoughts all over the place.  I'm not ashamed, but I'm frustrated.

- I cook.  But it's just whatever the farmer's market has, stir-fried, roasted, or simmered.  So I'm not learning much more Thai right now, just repeating familiar methods.  This is fine.

- I'm becoming much more interested in self-experimentation.  I'm maintaining a journal of dreams and emotions; don't know what I'll do with that, but it's something.  It's convinced me that I can actually stick to a routine and get some meaningful data, so I'm not wasting money or energy by investing in self-experimentation tools.  So I got a watch that I'll try to program, I ordered a Wakemate to learn more about how I sleep, and I want to get an Emotiv EPOC developer kit or a NeuroSky MindSet, because that could really help my research, but I figure better to play with my existing toys before buying new ones.

- I've been hanging out with the Seattle Couchsurfing crowd.  In addition to hosting surfers, it's a bit of a social group, and they're pretty cool.  (I've signed up to host a couple people too.)  I just started showing up out of the blue, and they've been very welcoming.  This is nice.  I certainly appreciate my closer friends, but I've been looking for a bit wider experience for some time now.

- I'm gearing up to leave Google, start research, and travel.  I told my team about my plans.  They're all very very cool about it.  It's amazing how supportive everyone at the company has been.  I'm going to be full time at Google for January, part time for February and March while I start at UW, then full time at UW starting in April.

- Christmas is in a week!  I'm quite looking forward to going back home and seeing my family.  I'm in Cleveland Dec 24 to Jan 2.

And this is not a big deal right now but it came up and I'm posting so here we go: three interesting posts about certain drugs.  The food/drug/herb distinction keeps seeming more and more fake.  (from grade school: what is a drug?  anything you put in your body that has an effect, besides food.  what is food?  well, you know, it's food! I'm glad I didn't know more logic as a kid; I might have been a real brat.)

Poetry from the Dream World

It's late and I ought to be sleeping, but I dreamed hella dreams last night, and I don't want to withhold this from the Internet:

I dreamed that I heard the most amazing hilarious profound poem and that I had to record it, and then I had a series of dreams in which I was trying to wake up and record it.  I managed to carry three fragments of it into the waking life.  I suppose there were a lot of missing parts, but I may never remember them, so I will just present the parts that I remember.

Let me also preface this by saying, it continues to amaze me how much my unconscious mind is:
- creative
- dumb as hell
- unfettered by notions of what does or doesn't make sense.

Okay, enough introductions.  Here it is.

"The Bees"

Humbling crumbly brumbly dumb bear.

Are you hungry hungry hungry?
What are you hungry
  hungry hungry
  hungry hungry
  hungry for?

Are you fighting?
What are you fighting
  fighting fighting
  fighting fighting
  fighting for?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas songs that are allowed.

LENGTHY PREAMBLE: Are you a creator or a taster?

(this is of course a false dichotomy, but I imagine it's a good headline for this lengthy preamble.)

I've lately been seeing the world a lot in terms of creation and taste.  Taste is something that we all try to cultivate, and it's really kinda the opposite of creation: winnowing the cream from the chaff, or whatever.  If you have good taste in music, you're good at cutting down everything that you don't like, and (presumably) really savoring the stuff that you do like, but mostly you know what not to like.  Similarly with food or movies or whatever: if you "have good taste" it mostly means you don't like crummy stuff.

It's everyone's problem with hipsters: by cultivating taste so hard, they just end up sneering at everything.

Far better, I think, to just create a lot.  My best moments of taste, of explaining why Lady Gaga is an acceptable and praiseworthy pop culture icon while Katy Perry is not, or why "Feels" is better than "Merriweather Post Pavilion" despite what Pitchfork thinks, pale in comparison to even okay moments of creation.  Beertable and my door knocker, and even One Photo Every Minute despite its lackluster success, are the sort of things I'm proud of.

I really want to work "maintainer" into this, so we can group people into creators, maintainers, and destroyers, and thereby connect this to another grand concept that's been around since sorta the dawn of time, lending it some grain of Truth with a capital T.  More likely that this is all just nonsense, and I dreamt it all up so that I could proclaim myself a creator and tap into various cultural biases there.

END LENGTHY PREAMBLE; commence main post:

Despite all that, and how I like to create things blah blah, I heard some Christmas songs in the Trader's Joe last night, and remembered how I am a great destroyer of Christmas music.  Up until this year I was convinced that all Christmas songs should perish, except for 13: The Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack and You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.  However, maybe I should be a little less humbuggy; some other ones are nice too (only when performed traditionally, and not melodramatically):

- O Come O Come Emmanuel
- O Holy Night
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Good King Wenceslas

... okay, I'm spent.  Well, we're up to 17, anyway.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nothing bad ever happens ever.

Great trip to the SF Bay Area this past week!  It was for work, but it was hell of great, because:

- Chrome Web Store launch event!  Okay, so I didn't actually contribute code to this release, but it was my team's release, and all is well, so that's great.  Also they talked a lot about Chrome itself (still getting faster and awesomer) and Chrome OS.  My former team, Chrome Sync, got great coverage, and further press in this video (the Chrome leads have a great dry sense of humor).  At any rate, it actually did get me re-excited about my job.  That's nice.
- A good chance to visit old friends.  It is nice when your job will send you to visit old friends.
- Winchester Mystery House.  WINCHESTER MYSTERY HOUSE.  Okay, seriously, it's just a big house with the wonkiest architecture.  But boy is it wonky.
- Korean noodles and Indian ice cream.  The Bay area has Seattle beat for ethnic food.  (I mean Seattle proper; I'm sure you could get equally good food if you included everything within 30 miles of Seattle in any direction.  The Bay area is huge.)
- got to meet the client Extensions team.  Cool folks!
- go-karts with the team.  Surprisingly fun.  Skidding around corners and stuff; felt like real-life Mario kart.
- I stayed in the Mission in SF.  I like it.  It's a neighborhood I could probably live in.
- Ritual Coffee Roasters makes good stuff.
- I continue to be thankful for my commute, especially my half-hour bike commute to Seattle.  The Bay area is huge.
- In an uncharacteristic but awesome move I picked up this box of useless things at the Google store.  I am pretty excited about them.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

What's your phone number?

I got a call from Little Nipper's Pizza, saying he had my pizza, and didn't I order something?  I remembered that my Google Voice number is a 412 (Pittsburgh) number.  I said "I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong number."
Him: What's your phone number?
Me: (about to say 440-... but paused instead, because this is where the recognition kicked in.)
Him: I dialed 412-(something something), isn't that your number?
Me: uh...
Him: (frustrated) Well, what's your number??
Me: Wait- it's 412-5-uh, 3-2- uh
Him: ah, nevermind. (hangs up)

Because, you see, I know my Pittsburgh number as being 412-5-then the first 6 letters of my name.  Har!

In other news, so in my completely entirely unbiased view, Chrome is The Best browser, but Firefox just got hella more awesome:

Friday, December 03, 2010

Well, that was surprisingly easy.

I am not such a fan of procrastination.

For some reason, I have done it more recently.  Maybe this is because I've had to do things on my computer that are hard on a couple different axes.  Most of the things have just been email anxiety (like sending emails to professors out of the blue- eep!), some of them are the difficulties of trying to spin up one job (research) while the other one (err my real job) has fried my brain all day, some of them are just other logistics like buying plane tickets.  If this is the case, it's not an easy problem to solve.

Maybe this is because procrastination has gotten easier thanks to Google Reader, The Facebook, and Twitter.  I'm not sure this is the case, because I feel like I just want some information to eat.  I got into Hacker News for a while until I quit that, and now I go to the Stranger when I want some more info.  So I could quit the Facebook or something, but then I'd just snarf up more info elsewhere.

Maybe the trick is to take my hard problems more seriously.  When I say "I need to email this professor, because maybe our researches will overlap and we could meet and talk about ideas or something", I should treat it as if I were going to do 20 push-ups.  Not easy.  But doesn't really take that long, and better to just meet it head on.

But man, this is the kind of thing that's tough, because you don't even know you've lost the fight until it's over.  As I was writing this, I suppressed an urge to check my email once- if I had waited a half second, a little ctrl-T and bam, my brain is scattered between this post and gmail.  It's as if I need a mindfulness Chrome theme or something, that instead of displaying a shiny new tab page, says "WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO NOW" and then freezes for 5 seconds before I can continue.

Hey, that's a neat idea.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Why the big suit?

I was going to jam this into the last post, but it deserves its own.

Stop Making Sense by the Talking Heads is wonderful.

To be fair, I'm super biased, because I sweat David Byrne pretty hard.  But let me continue to make an argument that you should watch it.

- Although it's a concert film, nearly every song changes things up a bit.
- No encore.
- The second half is remarkably better than the first, even.
- The whitest kids you know + former members of Parliament Funkadelic.
- The feel is kind of creepy spooky.  Roger Ebert says shades of Metropolis.  Take that as you will, but there are definitely moments that make you double-take.  You're in a place where a floor lamp appears center stage and is danced with, where a crew guy walks around creating huge shadows with a big light, where words like "facelift" and "sandwich" appear on giant monitor screens.  It's half music, half Gilliam or Aronofsky movie.
- Towards the end, it introduces you to the Tom Tom Club, Tina Weymouth (bass) and Chris Frantz's (drums) side project.  And reminds you how good they are!  And weird in their own way, which is the best kind of weird.  I'll link to Genius of Love here, but it has maximum impact after your mind has been blown by a dozen tracks of the Talking Heads.
- But let me just say one thing: David Byrne is the one who continues to resonate with me.  He's in his goddamn utmost rock star prime here, but his persona is not one who's in control.  (Does this not, or did this not, resonate with you when you are/were 24?)  He's confused, jittery, spastic.  He's vulnerable, supported only by a drum machine, in Psycho Killer.  He's creepy in Swamp, boneless in Life During Wartime, and lost in a darn big suit in Girlfriend Is Better.  And he is unparalleled in Once in a Lifetime.

Watch it.  At least so we can talk about how great it is.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Words words words

So I listened to the Radiolab about words, which ties together a few things I've heard about or listened to:

- Ildefonso, the guy who never knew language.  He grew up deaf and nobody taught him sign language until he was 27.  At that point, he didn't even know that language existed, or the idea that things have names.  When he learned this, it was a life-changing revelation.  He voraciously gobbled up all the words he could, was so thrilled to have this new thing, and couldn't communicate with his other languageless friends anymore.  When asked, he says he can't talk about his pre-language days, calling them "the dark time".

- Jill Bolte Taylor, who has something like the most popular Ted talk ever, about having a stroke and recovering without language for a bunch of years.  In the wordless existence, she was ecstatic, worry-free, and incapable of answering simple questions like "who is the president of the US?"

- Rats and pre-language children can't come up with the complex concept "left of the blue wall".

- In the development of a sign language among people who don't understand language at a school for deaf people, those who have used the language more are better able to understand concepts like "he thinks that his brother thinks that the toy is under the bed, while really it is in the toy box," as they have more words for types of cognition than just "think."

- Shakespeare created a lot of words by adding "un": unnerving, uncomfortable, unreal, unhelpful, etc.  But these are not just words, they are concepts, which are now firmly entrenched in our minds.


- Meditators refer to the "monkey mind" state- the one with the constant internal monologue.  It's an obstacle to your meditation; you can't concentrate if your mind is thinking all over the place.  Being able to pause your internal monologue seems to help.

- "Flow" happens when your monologue ceases. (I offer this entirely unsubstantiated.)

Jam these puzzle pieces together rather crudely and controversially:
Words help you learn new concepts and survive better.  Wordlessness helps you experience the divine.  Words are the classical, no-words are the romantic.  Yang and yin, etc.

So maybe:
- for better learning, I ought to name everything.
- for better meditating, I ought to do whatever I can to obliterate my language processing for a few minutes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Attention is the new money

Okay, this is not news, right?  Ads are all about getting your attention.  Companies give away products to get inside your mind.  Bands, movies, promoters, etc.

Someone I was talking to the other day was speculating: stuff goes online and becomes ad-supported.  But it's still all ads that end in purchases.  Company X wants you to see their ads so that sooner or later you buy their stuff.  What if, eventually, the money were taken out of the picture?  Ads became just a way to get you to look at more ads, to get inside your head more.

The most obvious application of this is political ads: people want you to spend money on candidate X, so they can buy more ads for candidate X, so more people will... like candidate X.  Eventually it's all about votes.

Besides the political ad situation, it's hard to think about how this would actually work.  Who would actually pay for attention if it doesn't end in a purchase?  I am confident, however, that someone will solve this question.  People are good at finding new ways to profit.  For better or worse, this is our future.

One nice property: we all start with a more-or-less equal amount of attention, unlike money.

However, a few bad properties, which make the attention-economy world kinda dystopian:
1. you can take my attention for free.  I might be reading a magazine, I turn the page, and bam! your ad has taken my attention!  Even if it's something I don't want!  It'd be like if people walking past you on the street could force you to buy things.  Very small things, but still.  See also: junk mail, spam.
2. you can't really solve problem #1.  What are you going to do, say "do you want to look at an ad for company X?"  At that point, you've already gotten me to think about company X and taken my attention.  Worse: you've taken more attention, because you've forced me to make a judgment and answer a question.
3. most importantly: your attention is one of the most precious things you have.  If you run out of money, that can be fixed (hopefully).  Ask friends or family for a loan, get a new job, etc.  (let's set aside all the class privilege reflected in this statement for a second.)  The point is, if you run out of money, or just have a small amount of money, you're not necessarily miserable.  If you have no attention, you probably are.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow snow snow snow snow

It's snowed about two inches.  I'm pretty excited.

Most of the talk about the snow today has been:
- "it's unusual to get snow in Seattle"
- "people in Seattle don't know how to drive in snow"
- "stay safe!"

To which I'd say:
- yep, it's unusual, but about a once a year thing, right?
- these are the worst 2 inches of snow for driving, because the roads are totally icy, and we still don't have trucks
- have fun!

For some reason, I really enjoyed the snow, even when it meant that I had to walk my bike home about 3 miles.  It is a special day!  And it's better than your birthday, say, because only you know that your birthday is special.  Snow day is a special day for everyone!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dairy is magic

I had some leftover heavy whipping cream.  So I made heavy whipped cream.  Super magic!  For 10 minutes you're stirring a bowl of milk; in the 11th minute all of a sudden you've got bland marshmallowy fluff! Stir in some sugar and a little vanilla and it's delicious marshmallowy fluff!

I feel like it's the same as when you whip egg whites.  What the F, egg whites?  You're all liquidy and clear and gooey, and then you're a MERINGUE.  Wow.

No other food group is quite so goofy.  You boil carrots and mash them together, you get mashed carrots.  You stir up some oatmeal, you get stirred oatmeal.  If you stir it longer, then you have really stirred oatmeal.  Maybe you mash up some meat; then you have mashmeat.

Anyway, it was pretty delightful.  Perhaps I also made a delicious elegant pie to go with it and some freshly picked seasonal local organic free-range berries.  Or perhaps I ate it with peanut butter, all with-a-spoon-like, over three consecutive days, during each of which I felt kinda awful soon after.  I'll never tell.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I like fall and chilliness and apples and universities and wind.

I got all of these today.  The weather was super ideal for biking.  Cold enough that you're glad to get back inside again, but not cold enough to hurt.

I particularly like fall because it is the time that things begin.  Weird, eh?  For most of human history, fall is when things end.  But now for us young'uns, we get a good 17 years (at least!) of starting everything in the fall.

This year may have had the least things starting of all my years so far, and that's not ideal.  But no worries, there's still time.  And I probably have 7 falls-full-of-beginnings coming up, anyway, so a kinda flat fall is not a problem.

Completely unrelatedly, I've noticed a trend in my conversations with people I don't know very well.  Sometimes with people I know well too.  (and here's where I get a little autistic and start analyzing everything too much.)
Act 1: Greetings, pleasantries.  If you provide no hooks, conversation ends.  If you provide hooks (say, you mention you're going hiking for the weekend), we move on to:
Act 2: I interrogate you.  I mean to do this in a nice conversational way, but I feel like I'm winning as long as you're talking, so I make sure the focus is on you.  I'll ask everything I can think of about your hiking trip that wouldn't be weird.  This often doesn't take long (I am not very good at this) so we move on to:
Intermission (a little awkward pause) and then:
Act 3: I start to talk about myself.  I talk about when I went hiking last, or how Mt. Rainier is really cool, or how my uncle really likes hiking.  I keep trying to bring it back to hiking, because that's a thing we can talk about, and back to you.  This gets kind of inane.  "I went hiking like twice this summer.  Mt. Rainier is really cool!  But I'm not much of a hiker really; do you hike a lot?"
Sooner or later: Curtain!

Oh dilemmas!  The thing I do know is that when I get overthinky like this, the way around it is to just drop it altogether and do a bit of an end around, and next conversation do something completely different like concentrate on how my stomach feels or count backwards from a billion or challenge you to a fight or something.  ... I'm working on it.
Those of you who are wonderful conversationalists: got any tips?

At any rate, let's leave this positively: autumn is pretty nice.  Go eat some apples, they're still good.  Fin!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Might as well call me Charlie, 'cause I'm Chapelin'

I heard Stars were playing in Seattle on Nov. 6.  So I just went searching around, and their next tour dates are Nov 9, 10, etc.  But what about that show?  ... oh, that was last Saturday.  Bwah!

To misquote Modest Mouse, the days go fast but the years go so slow.  Time flies, kids these days, I remember you when you were this tall, oh my aching knees.  What am I doing with myself these days?
- work, y'know, like you do
- weekends I do the dumb things I gotta do, go to the farmers' market, do fun things with friends, drink some coffee read some papers (surprising myself with my studiousness even when there's no immediate gain to be had; this is a good sign for grad school), and think about travel
- and play a lot of Dominion!  This is a card game that I blogged about in... February.  I bought it and mostly forgot it.  Then restarted playing it, and I've been playing it about every other day since.  Mostly with Daniel, sometimes with Will, Grubb, and Mike Yin on the internet.  It's really good!  I don't often get so wrapped up in a game.  Something about how it moves fast, and you get to really follow your own strategy with only minimal interference, and you get occasional blasts of winning big!  (I like winning all at once, not a little at a time.)

It's nice that this has come about at a time when it's not irresponsible to play a card game all the time.

The mindfulness is on the up and up too.  Morning meditation is a daily habit.  I'm getting better at taking pauses to be mindful and at detecting emotions.  Sometimes I've meditated at work.  That actually turns out very well.  It's a bit of a scattershot approach, but I'm not sure how to structure it more, so hey, doing a little of everything can't hurt.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Experiments with anger

First of all, I can finally cook eggs in my wok!  I'm not sure if it's knowing the technique (let it sit for a bit and fry up and then you can touch it) or just getting it seasoned enough.  Either way, great!

Second of all, my bike front wheel and panniers were stolen the night before last.  You may know how I feel about bike thieves.  (you may also be saying "quit whining and park your bike somewhere else!"  I am doing that.  We'll see if this new place fares any better.)  At any rate, they're gone, and it's about $180 in damage, plus a new $35 lock to allow me to park in the new place.  Ugh.

But, well, it made me very angry.  So I yelled and cursed and kicked some walls for about a minute.  But then I remembered reading Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, and how he describes anger working like a series of events that build the anger higher and higher, whereas if left alone it will cool down.  More importantly, it's a lot easier to short-circuit this early, after one or two provocations, than to try to cool down once you're in full-blown rage.  (yelling and cursing and "venting" act as more provocations.)

Sure enough, doing some laundry to kinda take my mind off it for a few minutes worked very well!  I could see the happy truth of the situation (I'm making enough money to cover bad stuff like this, it could be worse, etc) and my thoughts of "if I find that guy" changed from "beat the snot out of him" to "really try to understand why he's stealing bike parts."  (granted, it's probably "he's desperate for money and not in the mood for a reasonable conversation", so this wouldn't go very far.  But it's nicer to imagine having a reasonable conversation than having a fight.  Also less likely for me to get killed.)

Also, I took a moment to feel the physical manifestation of anger and mentally describe them.  It's like electricity through my veins!  It's pretty intense, and really kind of fun, besides the feeling-angry part.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cross posting my programming blog whoa yeah

Promise I won't do it often, but I'm really proud of these cartoons I made at work today.  They will make sense if you've ever used git.  If you haven't, well, the joke is that the title of each cartoon is a line that I type into a computer just about every day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Music post music post

Here are some record albums that I have opinions about:

Calvin Harris- Ready for the Weekend- Great bouncy easily digestible borderline sweet/euro-cheesy.  I like this a lot!  Until it gets stuck in my head for four more days.
The Clash- London Calling- I don't yet get it.  And there weren't enough reasons for me to keep trying to like it.  I think if I had gotten into this when I liked ska in high school, the transition would have been easier.
Bjork- Vespertine- Reminds me of "The Secret of Mana."  And ice, and caves, but not real ice and caves, more like movie-set pretty ice and caves or something.  Oh, and elves!  Elves for sure.  No, for serious, I'm not trying to mock.
Midnight Juggernauts- Dystopia- see Calvin Harris- Ready for the Weekend.  But more darker.
The Thermals- Now We Can See- meh.  I know they're from Seattle, but they kinda yell a lot and every song is in the first person plural.  Why so many "we"s?
Broken Bells- Broken Bells- At this point, in my book, Danger Mouse is a plus, and James Mercer is a minus.  This is Shinsey enough that I am bored.
The Knife- The Knife- So everything they do is gold, but this is a little less shiny gold than their more recent gold.  It's got a similar feel, just not as polished.
Metric- Fantasies- Does everyone in the world have a crush on Emily Haines?  Is that why we let her get away with lyrics that sound so awkward?  Like on "Help I'm Alive" and "Gimme Sympathy".  Or is everyone else also so entranced by her voice that she could be singing the Rent is Too Damn High Rap and we'd all swoon anyway?  Anyway, this is wonderful.  And, syntactic parsing joke with a line from "Satellite Mind", my favorite track: "heard you fuck through the walls", which can mean:
- you were fucking, and I heard you through the walls
- you were fucking through the walls (ouch!), and I heard you
- hey, folks were saying that you tend to fuck through walls.  quite a superpower!
Broken Social Scene- Forgiveness Rock Record- More of the same, which is a good thing, especially on the token Emily Haines track- "Sentimental X's".  Although my favorite is "All to all."
David Byrne and Fatboy Slim- Here Lies Love- a concept double album about Imelda Marcos, and while it suffers a bit from Double Album Syndrome (you shouldn't make a double album), it's pretty consistent, and feels like the 1970's or something.  I guess some people like to widen their minds by listening to NPR; I like to widen my mind by listening to the collected works of David Byrne.
Dirty Projectors- Bitte Orca- Is "Stillness is the Move" the best song ever?  Or is "No Intentions" the best song ever?  (the other seven are, by comparison, unremarkable.)
LCD Soundsystem- This is Happening- I increasingly like this guy, James Murphy.  Speaking of David Byrne, I feel like Murphy is the next Byrne, with his sometimes-sorta-commentary talk-songs that are actually really catchy.  And also a little awkward.
Fever Ray- Fever Ray- SO GOOD.  She (Karin Dreijer Andersson, of The Knife) made this solo album after having a child.  Some worried that the kid would make her sappy and terrible, as it happens with every other band ever.  Nope: this is pure creepy dark electronic wonder.  Watch this.
Wax Tailor- In the Mood for Life- Also so good!  Samples and DJ magic, a few good singers, and some rap.  Reminded me of Kid Koala and the Roots.  Sounds like summer.
Lady Gaga- The Fame Monster and/or the Fame or something, I just got all her music.  Where has she been all my life?  I am very happy about her topping the charts.  She is a breath of fresh air in pop music.  If you disagree, listen to this.  Those drums!  How good are those drums!
Weezer- Raditude- after hearing "If you're wondering if I want you to (I want you to)", a really pretty good song, I was wondering if this might eventually be their return to form.  No.
Arcade Fire- The Suburbs- okay it is great, let's move on.
Chromeo- Fancy Footwork and She's in Control- I love these guys!  Talk about A. being champs, and B. not taking yourselves too seriously, but still C. not being a novelty act.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

There are no bastards.

As it's getting past Sandals Weather, and getting into It's Dark Before You Leave Work Weather (frowns), I'll present two pick-me-ups.
Number 1.  Tomorrow is likely best day of music in Seattle since forever: Belle and Sebastian, Gogol Bordello, Blue Scholars, and Gaslamp Killer/Daedelus are playing four separate shows.  (I'll be at the last.)
Number 2. well, this'll take a couple paragraphs.

Backstory: my grandpa, or Gramp if you will, had a saying.  Many people probably had this same saying, but he sure had it.  "Don't let the bastards get you down."  (it got censored to "turkeys" in family contexts.)

Part one: I am continually amazed at how ideal a work situation Google is.  I keep thinking I'll run into someone who'll say "nah don't do it the right way, do it the way that makes some money" or "nope, budget reasons, gotta ship it" or "who cares?", and POOF the spell will be blown, the carriage will turn into a pumpkin, and I'll go back to, y'know, writing websites for evil stepsisters somewhere or something.  But nobody ever does!

Part two: in this philanthropy project I was in over the summer, this Next Generation Giving Project with the Social Justice Fund NW, we 18 shlubs who'd never done philanthropy before allocated a whole boatload of money to 11 out of 63 applicant groups.  We gave based on leadership development, cross-class cross-race cross-gender work, community organizing, and ultimately social justice.  People had issues with doing this, even though it was their own money; and often the monetarily wealthier among us had more issues.  I kept waiting for someone to say "geez, you bunch of weenies, quit going on about how hard it is to give away your money" or "class?  whatever.  why don't you go back to your liberal arts college and blather on about Derrida" or "how the hell do you think you're qualified to decide which of these groups to fund?"  But again, nobody ever did!  And by the end I realized, it'd be impossible.  Nobody would even want to.

The main point: I guess if 24 year old Dan had a motto about optimism or turkeys or whatever, it'd be: there are no bastards.  There just aren't.  We're adults, we don't act like petty kids on the schoolyard.  You don't have to go through life cringing because someone's going to beat you down, because nobody will.  Everyone is on your team; sometimes things go wrong but really everyone means well.  It's remarkably freeing to live like this.  I've felt almost absurdly naive recently, like I was sure someone was screwing me over but I resolved to act as if it were all a misunderstanding, and I began to feel like it was, and then I really felt better about the whole thing.  It's like Hanlon's razor: never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.  Or anything else!

Corollary: Even when there are bastards, it's in your best interest to live as if there aren't.  If someone acts like a jerk to you, avoid them.

Disclaimer: okay, duh, don't go around flashing your bling bling in shady areas at night, etc.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I cannot get started today

It's cold.  So although this won't solve anything, I'll spend even more time in front of this computer, toss out a few thoughts and see what happens:

1. Hipsters.
Point: Aww man they're terrible, they hate on everything.
Counterpoint: "There are two things that make the hipster subculture unique. One: They’re better than their predecessors. Two: Everyone says they’re worse."
Conclusion we can all agree with: "hipster" as a fashion movement/subculture is fine, it brought us some sweet indie rock, even if their jeans and bikes are silly.  Maybe they're even better than previous scenes like punks, hippies, greasers, etc.  "Hipsters" who just hate everything are the problem, but really, everyone who just hates everything is the problem.
The interesting point I like to draw from this: "We like to pretend things are getting worse and our entire civilization is on the verge of collapse, but the opposite is true."

2. "Finding your passion".
Point: In deciding what work you're going to do, you've gotta, you know, try things until you find your true passion, then you'll be happy and successful and "never work a day in your life."
Counterpoint: The last 40 years, in which we've gotten less satisfied and happy, have proven: That is such nonsense.
Personal note: I generally think Study Hacks is always right, but I am currently in the process of "finding my passion." D'oh!
Conclusion we can all agree with: it depends from person to person, nobody really knows, but being lazy and just hoping your "passion" will fall out of the sky into your lap is not going to work.
Personal reason I'm not worried: You could call what I'm doing "finding my passion", or you could say I'm building an obsession which I'm excited about pursuing relentlessly.  Or, y'know, that I'm doing what I want to do.

3. Hunting and meat-eating.
Point: If you're going to eat meat, you should kill and eat an animal yourself, to connect yourself to the food chain.  Otherwise you're using some messed-up logic and are a bad meat eater.  Or something?
Counterpoint: Why?  I like to walk on paved roads, too, but I'm not going to spend a day as a street paver.  Not because I'm uncomfortable with the process that goes into road paving, but because it wouldn't be fun.  Or even, I like having a computer.  I'm uncomfortable with sweatshops that make it happen, and I'd buy a sweatshop-free computer if I could (at least, I'd like to think that I would), but you can't do everything right.
Counter-counterpoint: I mean, I'm all in favor of eating less meat.
Counter-counter-counterpoint: but this argument seems like a macho manly way to argue that "I am a good meat eater, and you are a bad meat eater."
Conclusion we can all agree with: eat meat if you want, try to eat less meat, but I'm not going to fight you about it; buy the most sustainable humane meat you can, kill an animal respectfully if you want, value all life, and don't stress minutiae.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Interesting thoughts on the way to work:

So dreams are weird, right, you remember some of them and you don't remember others.  Sometimes you even remember them when you just wake up, but don't remember them even 5 minutes later.  And if you don't remember it, it's almost like it didn't happen.

What if real life was like that: stuff happened every day that you just never remembered?  What if you met Will Smith and the Men in Black every single day and they just used the flashy blinky thing on you afterwards?  What if there were 25 hours in the day, and at 12 Noon every day you had a sudden impulse to, I dunno, go to the nearest pinball arcade and play pinball for an hour until 13:00, after which you would return to work or whatever and eat a magic cookie that would wipe the last hour from your memory?

Interesting corollary: I remember reading about a drug that some women (used to?) take during childbirth, which doesn't kill the pain, but makes them not remember it at all.  So you don't remember being in horrendous pain, but then you have a baby.  It's like the pain never happened.

If you don't remember something at all, did it happen?  I mean, yeah, but effectively no.  What does it even mean for something to have happened?  Those dreams that you don't remember from last night: did they happen?  Are they even worth discussing?  Another interesting point: I wonder how much your dreams-that-you-don't-remember affect your next day.

All interesting things, or perhaps psychobabble, I can't tell, and I don't want to spend time to make it clearer, because I'm at work.  I'll ponder these things during my 13:00 pinball break.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Phone anti-phone ads

Microsoft just launched an ad implying you should stop using their phones.

DTAC (a Thai phone service provider) apparently launched one too.

My first instinct is that these ads will fail horribly, because they're all about how much their products hurt your lives and that you should use them less.  Haha!

My second instinct is that this sort of doublespeak will sink deep into our consciousnesses, generating a burst of good feelings whenever we think about DTAC or Microsoft without actually making us use phones less.  Hey, it works for food companies. Eep!

No, seriously.  This is sinister.  "It's time for a phone to save us from our phones"?  To quote the MS commercial, "really?"  To quote Goebbels: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it".

There is nothing about their phone that will save you from your phone.  It is exactly the same as selling you a carton of factory-farmed eggs with pictures of free-roaming happy chickens on it.  Gragh!  Cheeses me off.  Well, here's hoping my first instinct is correct, and we'll be able to have a laugh about how silly these commercials were.

(incidentally, remember The New Busy?  Microsoft ad folks: critical miss times two.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Let me be the first

To wish you a happy 10:10:10 10/10/10 boo yah hoo hah whoop zilla blatz shabazz!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Excerpts from the Dream Journal, or, Mining my subconscious for our mutual amusement.

Back in 2004 I started recording my dreams by typing them into the computer.  I left off in about 2007, and have sporadically entered a few here and there since then.  This was nice, because now they're in a text file.  However, it also meant that anything I forgot between my bed and my desk wouldn't get entered.  Since July of this year, I've been writing them down in a notepad next to my bed.  This yields slightly zanier results.

The primary purpose of this is to get my conscious mind a little closer to my subconscious mind, let me explore the dream space a little more, and perhaps enable lucid dreaming.  (it's probably step 2 on the road to lucid dreaming; step 1 is get enough sleep, and step 3 is wake-check yourself (ask, "am I dreaming?") every so often while you're awake; I'm doing all of these.)  An awesome secondary purpose, though, is to wake up, say "what the hell did I dream last night?", and have a good answer because I scrawled it in here at 3 AM.  And then I have a good laugh, because dreams are pretty goofy.

Here are some good recent ones (only minimally edited for legibility):

I'm in Entropy at CMU, and I'm buying a ruler to do some research, and I notice that all my papers call a ruler a "great measurer" and refer to the other researchers as "dear researcher" and by the rulers at Entropy there's a little paper explaining why that is dumb.

I was at my cousin's house I think.  I was going to take a quick nap before going out, and she was explaining her writing process (she was a student): once a yearish, she'd drink a bunch of chocolate milkshakes and stay up all night, she'd feel terrible but then feel better and be able to write more, or something.  I was going to take a nap.  Somehow I ended up at Denny's or something, but I needed some food.  I ordered some kind of standard breakfast.  The server brought out first some white toast and pancakes, which I didn't touch, then some kind of pastry, and an omelet?  I took a couple bites of the pastry.  I noticed a review of the place on the table.  It said something like "the omelet was okay but the standard breakfast was a terrible monstrosity."  I wondered why they posted that.

I was doing an interview at Google, not sure why but I guess it was for a different job?  Anyway, one of my friends and another guy were interviewing me.  The other guy warned me that this question was really hard, but I got it pretty straightforwardly.  It was: you have a row of numbers, and you can take any 10 of them in a row- how do you maximize your winnings?  (I said, basically, linear search.)

I was in the army or something, and I had to report to drills every morning.  (but they were in my front yard.)  One morning I was late, and the officer made me run to/from this one place that was a long way away.  But he said if I did it in under 1/2 hour, I could take the rest of the day off.  It was hard- I didn't know if I'd make it.  Also I had a saxophone.  (in its case.)

Monday, October 04, 2010

While I was grouching about things you can't talk about

I came across this.  (disclaimer: I find her comics generally quite disagreeable, in the same way as Venture Bros., because I feel like I'm getting hit with a hammer the whole time.  except the one about the alot is good.  I told you I'm grouching!)

Ending conversations: it's a mess!  Conversations are generally a mess!  And yet, talking about it makes it worse.  Now every time you're in a conversation you might be thinking, in addition to all your other neurotic thoughts, "I hope I'm not doing one of the four levels of conversational entrapment."

I'm torn.  On the one hand, I don't like talking about the weather.  Or about where you're from or what you do, because that's the three-line conversation you have with any old person.  I want to get to the point, to maybe connect on some other level besides the weather, so I can build the maximally meaningful relationship with a person that I can have in the short time I have to talk with him/her.  And so that he/she finds me interesting.

But then I ask, What would Wayne Coyne do? (it's usually a pretty good heuristic.)  And then I think, SIDETRACK, I meant to mention another thing: talking about dancing and cheering.  See, the Flaming Lips show last Monday was nice, but Wayne spent the whole goddamn time yelling at everyone to cheer more and go crazy.  That's not how you make people cheer more and go crazy.  In addition, sort of relatedly, if you're complaining about why more people don't dance, you're doing it wrong.  I don't want to hear about how everyone is too much of a hipster to dance anymore.  (see last post.)  But that's neither here nor there.  Grouch grouch!

Anyway, so I ask myself, "What would Wayne Coyne do?"  And then I also ask, "What would HH do?" by which I really mean "what would the Buddha do?" because I don't know the Dalai Lama from a postman, and maybe "What would Thich Nhat Hanh or Shinzen Young or Matthieu Ricard do?", and the answer is generally: they would talk about the weather.  They would be totally fine with it.  Because having a conversation about the weather is fine; having four conversations about the weather in a grocery store is fine; getting barged in on by a pseudo friend is fine (and it's your responsibility to end it if it's not).  Shoot.

(writing on blogs forever instead of filling out grad school apps is not so awesome.  so it goes.)

Wooo, someone else is standing up for the hipsters:

"The term "hipster" can be dashed off without a second thought and is accepted by most as a reasonable critique, even if those same people would bristle at the use of "dumb jock" or "geeky weirdo"."

"... it doesn't really mean anything. It's just bad rhetoric. At most, calling someone a hipster means that the target of your ire does something you don't prefer."

At least I wish we had another term for the fashion movement that includes fixed gear bikes and mustaches and skinny jeans, to separate the hipster-as-fixie-rider from the hipster-as-dismisser-of-things.  (at most, I'd like if we could just stop hating.  honestly, not like "har har don't be a hater".)

Things you can't blog sometimes

I just posted a thing about the question "are you having fun?" and it made me realize it was a perfect opportunity to post it, because nobody had just asked me "are you having fun?"  If someone had, he/she would think that I was posting particularly in response to him/her, passive-aggressively, on my blog.  I am glad that I remembered to post this now!

I wonder what other thoughts I have that you can't blog sometimes.  Oh, I know!

The binary "love/not love" thing.  I don't understand it.  Apparently there is a point when two people are dating that they "fall in love."  Before that you cannot say the word "love"; after that, you'd better.

I have always been baffled by this.  It seems like a gradual thing, no?  Is it really so ungradual and I've always done it wrong?  Or is it truly very gradual but everyone knows the threshold is 70 relationship points?  And why do we have exactly two words, "like" and "love", and you just have to hope you both cross that arbitrary threshold at about the same time?

Proposal 1. Only one word.  Let's say "like."  Nope: romantic types would not appreciate me ditching the word "love."  Okay, let's keep the word "love."  And you can use it every day, with everyone.  Nope again: then your boy/girlfriend is linguistically the same as everyone else.  Okay, how about this, you say "love" to everyone but the longer you say it, the more intense it is.  So you love your friends but you loooove that special someone, and I mean by the time you get married you loooooooooooooooooove him/her.  (this has the added bonus of making a declaration of love into a new bizarre alpen-yodeling ritual.)

Proposal 2. A whole bunch of words!  You catch someone's eye: "I am intrigued by you."  You go on a few dates and they're the best: "I'm infatuated with you."  You get to know them: "I admire you."  We could make up some more for the many stages of feelings in between.  "I glipf you," "I frimble you", "I prandolate you", etc.  Keep this up for maybe 30 stages.  By the time you get to "love", you've both probably awkwarded each other out 12 times anyway by skipping a stage too early, so you're not too fussed.  (the bonus here is making up goofy new words.  and y'know perhaps added emotional introspection as people have to understand what they're feeling better.  But yeah, new Seussian words.)

At any rate, I am glad I remembered to post this while I'm single, because now I don't have to have an awkward conversation like: "Dan, you blogged that thing about love and words!  Ha ha!  ... but are WE in love???"


A couple of thoughts about fun:

1. If you have to ask "are you having fun?" the answer is probably no.  Furthermore, you're probably making things worse by calling out the fact that there is fun to be had, and someone is not having it.

2. For some reason we keep up this charade that now we're at a fun thing, now we're not; while you're at a fun thing you should be having fun, and while you're not you shouldn't.  (it's okay if you do.  it's just unexpected.)

3. It seems very rationalist or logical or objectivist or WASPy or Cartesian or something (someone fill in the right word please) to treat fun in this way.  We treat fun like an object that you can buy with a certain amount of time and money.  When I put it like that, it's obviously nonsense.  And yet, we patronize so many Disneylands that pretend they can give us exactly this trade.

4. An analogy: if life is food, fun is sweetness.  A well-made meal will offer you sometimes a good deal of sweetness.  But if you go looking for sweetness, you'll just be eating spoonfuls of sugar, and that makes you sick.  (and doesn't really taste that good.)  I guess what I'm saying is, if you have to try to have fun, maybe you should rethink your approach.

Monday, September 27, 2010


This is wonderful: lolfoods.  It's so simple, and yet I bet you can't get through the whole page without cracking up.  Is it the particular misspellings?  The goofy fonts?  The fact that you're just viewing a page of pictures of food?  Whatever it is, it's so minimalistic, somehow I feel like we're getting close to one atom of humor here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beertable, or, I will not pay honest money for furniture, dammit

Buying furniture makes no sense.  I'm moving in a year.  And yet, I need a place to put things.  My furniture doesn't have to be rock-solid or last forever or even look good.  So making furniture makes sense.

But it's hard to get tangible materials.  You can go to Home Depot and get a bunch of wood and drill it and screw it and stuff but that requires a trip to Home Depot and a lot of tools, which I don't have.  It's easy to get cardboard or paper, but you can't make a real weight-bearing thing out of them.  I want giant legos, but alas, they don't exist, and would probably cost more than a table.  So what do we have a lot of that is heavy and sturdy and cheap?

Beer bottles!  If you just stop recycling them, you'll probably be surprised how fast they accumulate.  So I made a Beertable.  (pronounced "beer-TAY-ble" or "BEER-tuh-ble", either way.)

1. Collect bottles.  Sort them by brewer.  (seems like every brewer has a different bottle size.  it will be easier if you drink a lot of the same brewer.  unfortunately, I like variety.)  Over about 6 months, friends and I saved the following:

New Belgium: 21
Hale's: 19
Sierra Nevada: 15
Red Hook: 12
Blue Moon: 12
Widmer: 12
Lagunitas: 12
Pyramid: 9
Dogfish Head: 8
Deschutes: 7
Great Divide: 6
Rogue: 6
Beer Lao: 6
Stone: 6
Reed's (ginger ale): 4
Flying Dog: 2
Victory: 1

2. Make them into pyramid shapes, like this:
Measure the table to know how many levels you'll want.  I used 6 levels here (9-8-7-6-5-4) and it was about 13 inches tall.  So add or subtract about 2 inches for each additional layer.  (check the width too; 7 levels would have made it a bit too wide.)  You'll probably want each level to be all the same brewer on both pyramids, or at least a very similarly sized brewer.  And alternating thin with fat bottles is necessary, starting with fat ones.  (if you start with thin ones, the fat ones on top of them won't fit.)  Finally, make sure you pick good beers, because people will judge you based on them.

I went with:
Bottom layer (9 bottles each, so 18 total): Hale's, a Seattle brewer with particularly good Kolsch and brown ale.
8 layer (16 total): New Belgium, as Fat Tire is the best plain ol' beer.
7 layer (14): Sierra Nevada, for a historical note, as they were frontrunners of the craft beer movement in America.
6 (12): Widmer, meh, I needed something to fill space here.  Could have gone with Red Hook, but honestly, I'm kind of meh about them too.
5 (10): Lagunitas, who makes beer that is more interesting than most 6-pack beer.  Hairy Eyeball and Censored copper ale made it into this beertable.
4 (8): Dogfish head, The Best brewery in America, as far as I'm concerned.

3. Gorilla Glue them together.  (this stuff is pretty magic.  the pyramids are solid like boulders now.  I can pick them up and not worry about them collapsing.)  Point the labels out on the sides so it's pretty.

4. Put a big piece of wood on top.  (I've used a door from my apartment's closet.  Ssshh!)

5. Marvel at how cool your table looks.

6. Recycle all the rest of your bottles.  Then stop collecting bottles.  Depending on how obsessive you are, this may be the hard part.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I don't think I can title this post better than:

The secret lovey-dovey world of web browsers.

Having worked on Chrome, I can say this is pretty much true.  There's a little bit of "oh man, Microsoft is making kinda fakey demos to make IE9 look faster than it is!" chatter, but it's mostly a really healthy competition.  I never got the sense that Chromers were bitter enemies with anyone.  The whole "if IE9 is awesome, that's great; we're just trying to make the web better" line is really pretty true.  Even idealistic ol' me was surprised: I thought at first that everyone was being politic, but I think it's what people really think.

And this writer goes on to mock Glen (yes, this Glen) and the rest of the "hippy-dippy love-in."  Really, if more business competitions were like the browser "war", I'd consider the business world (not to mention the internet) a much more palatable place.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cult of the Individual much?

Apparently they made some movie about The Facebook Dot Com, and it's a big old hairy intrigue-filled deal about the Rise of The Facebook Dot Com, centering (of course) around Mark Zuckerberg, Creator of The Facebook Dot Com, and they make him out to be a big old asshole who sacrifices friends for dollars.

And he wasn't really such an asshole.  Or maybe he was.  Whatever.  (you can skip those articles, there's not much to them, except that reading them will make my point stronger because you will have spent a lot of time reading about Mark Zuckerberg.)  My point is: we read a lot about Mark Zuckerberg.

Quick: name another employee of The Facebook.  Name another person whose blood, sweat, and carpal tunnel contributed to the six-year rise from zero to bigger-than-Jesus.  Name another factor, besides Zuck's cunning, smarts, and assholery, that brought it to fourteen quadrillion hits per day.  I'm guessing- and when I say "guessing" I'm being sarcastic- that there were a few.

But we're drawn to the human side of the story because that's just how we in modern America tell stories: we want one lone crusader to valiantly vanquish all foes in the name of Honor and Glory.  Or else we want one supervillain to slit the throats of all the good guys and spit on their graves.  Look at Apple.  It's not a company of 35,000 humans; it's a vehicle for one black-turtleneck-clad loony to "revolutionize" something-or-other by hawking new shiny things.  Forget Apple, look at our government!  We've pinned this last decade of pendulum swing to two guys named George and Barack.

Distilling megalithic systems to single people is apparently the only way we can understand and internalize these things, but it's important to remind ourselves that it's not true.

That's really all I have to say.  So, switching gears: Hipmunk is a new airplane search site, and I like the interface it provides to let you search for flights.  It's a hard UI problem, and I think they're doing it pretty well.  I got a Kindle, and it's adequate but not great for reading PDFs.  Decibel fest is this weekend, it's right near my house; let me know if you're interested in going to any shows, because they're always pretty good.  I'm getting more excited about grad school; I've found a bunch of great research groups and schools to apply to.  Most things are pretty good, really.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My scanner is not goddamn functional.

I have a drawing.  Pencil on paper.  I would like to scan it and have an image of any format that looks kind of like the drawing, and is emailable.

Try 1:
Press "scan" button.  Power is off.  Press power button.  Power remains off.  Hold power button.  Power remains off.  Unplug and replug, press power button, power turns on.  Press scan button.
Try 2:
HP Photosmart Studio opens, and then it opens HP Scan Pro, and scans in a picture that crops out the top and bottom 10% of the picture.
Try 3:
Scan again with HP Scan Pro, edit the selection boundary, try "save to file", it's 4mb.
Try 4:
Scan again with HP Scan Pro, edit the selection boundary, send it back to HP Photosmart Studio, it's somehow been rotated about 30 degrees.
Try 5:
Same as try 4.  This time it's not rotated.  Export.  (because I want to save it as a low-quality image.)  That asks me if I want to send it to HP something something, HP something else, Photoshop, Paintbrush, etc.
Try 6:
"Save As", instead.  There's no dial for image quality.  Oh well, let's try png.  700kb.  Meh.
Try 7:
Let's try jpg.  Still 700kb.
Try 8:
Let's try something els-- whoops, HP Photosmart Studio is frozen, and my computer's fan is spinning like crazy.  I'll wait for it to quiet down.
(wait a long time)
Dock force quit.
Dock force quit.
Dock force quit.
ps -A | grep "photosmart"
ps -A | grep "Photosmart"
kill 11810
Try 9: email a goddamn 700kb jpg.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Meditation and money, a year later

A year after Burning Man means a year after I first encountered Nichiren Buddhism means a year after I started actually doing some ritual every day.  For a few months it was chanting with the Soka Gakkai  (Nichiren folks), then it became me doing my own thing (silent meditating).  But at any rate, probably 95% of the past year, I've meditated or something for at least 10 minutes.

How's it going?

Within the meditating itself: pretty good.  I can comfortably sit for 15 minutes, it doesn't feel like a huge waste of time.  Every day, regardless of how well I'm meditating, at least I'm showing up.  The downside is, I don't feel like I'm in any better control of my mind or anything than I did a year ago.

Applying to outside life: No noticeable change.

But overall: maybe there's changes happening and I just don't notice it!  And one year is a pretty short time to be evaluating, especially with no real data.  I still trust that it's a good way to a better life.

And last year I published a big thing about how much money I spent, and apparently that was helpful to some folks, especially new graduates.  So here it is for September 2009-August 2010: $30,100.

The breakdown (numbers rounded for easy comparison):
Rent: $10,400
Android phone service: $900
Groceries: $1,700
Entertainment (aka "pretty much any optional stuff"): $5,400
Medicine/necessary things: $3,600
Travel: $7,100
Transportation: $500
Clothing: $300

I'm doing a little better than last year, in almost all categories.  Still it's a bit of a bummer, as I go for grad school, where I don't expect to get a $30,100 stipend.  (especially after taxes.)  A couple of notes:
- the medicine/things number is so high because for most of the year I was seeing a counselor who wasn't covered by my insurance.  D'oh.  On a smaller budget, I would not do that.  So there's maybe $3k I could save.
- travel is a big one here... but then, my family lives far away.  I only took one big extravagant vacation this year (Thailand), which was about $1700.
- I moved to a cheaper flat; obviously, it'd be nice to save even more here, but I really like my neighborhood and city.  If I move back to Seattle, or worse, Boston or San Francisco, I'll have to think hard about what's important in a living place.
- and y'know entertainment etc.; do pursue options besides going out for dinner or drinks!
- groceries are still lower than usual because I still work at Google
- transportation is mostly bike repairs and parts, and some zipcars.

Okay, I promise I'll stop talking about money now.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

things you do at Burning Man, reasons it was wonderful, and reasons I'm not going next year.

Last year I kept getting asked "what IS burning man?"  This year it was more "what do you DO at burning man?"  I don't have great answers for either, but as I tried to answer the first question last year, let me now tackle the second with a sampling of things I did:

- drink tea and do a henna design at a Persian-themed camp
- happy hour with couchsurfers
- soft serve ice cream, in the desert, for serious
- walk around a dome and mingle, everyone blindfolded, nobody talking
- draw fake money, use it to buy coffee.  (priorities.)
- listen to downtempo techno at a replica Black Lodge
- play with tons of legos
- talk and drink with folks who live on the road full-time
- get hypnotized.  it sounds like meditating.  and try to learn who I was in a past life.
- dodgeball
- mad hatter traveling tea party
- learn techniques to lucid dream, from someone who does it regularly
- flex my huge muscles in a strong man competition against two, shall I say, really buff dudes
- learn how to make fermented foods (dosas, tempeh, sauerkraut)
- look at very big art very far out in the desert

The next question is, "how was it?"  This is also difficult to answer.  It's like answering "how was India?" ... Burning Man is very much.  I'll dodge this question too, and just answer with a smattering of great things at Burning Man:

- lucid dreaming and hypnosis are the coolest things
- our campmates from San Francisco were super great, better prepared than we were, and a lot of fun to hang out with
- the dodgeball was the best dodgeball ever
- one beer had the amazing ability to transform your day from "argh" to "wonderful"
- our shade structure stayed up for six out of seven days
- when you sit down, 98% chance the person next to you will be interested in a chat; 80% chance it will be fun and fulfilling.
- costumes costumes!  I had, among other things, a Domo costume made of light-up EL wire. (an okay photo; I'm the one on the left)
- I jumped on a trampoline and learned to hula hoop; this is more exciting than it sounds
- I also had one of those rare super ecstatic moments when I totally get why people love dancing
- no internet for a week, and I didn't miss it a bit
- you get to drive through awesome the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-esque wild-west terrain
- I met so many great people once.  (sadly, only once, and I'll never see them again.)

The question nobody asks, maybe because they think they know the answer, is "are you going next year?"  It's a fair assumption; who goes to Burning Man exactly twice?  But the answer is: me.  I won't give a list of this, because I'd rather focus on the positive.  I guess it just doesn't really sit right with me- it's maximalist, you have a lot of stuff, you get enthusiastic about things, you dance all night.  I don't do these things.  Not to say it wasn't fun- the daytime stuff was a blast, and wandering the playa at night is super cool too.  But considering the effort, time, and money, the cons outweigh the pros.  At least for next year.

I better just publish this, because otherwise I'll take forever.  It's hard to write down, because like I said, Burning Man is very much!  But overall a great trip, and I'm glad I went.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

T minus nine hours, plus eleven grants.

7AM tomorrow: we go to Burning Man again.  Should be interesting, a year later!  I feel less crazy in the head than I was then.  It's good to be improving.

On another very related note, we just finished our final grant decision process meeting for the Social Justice Fund's Next Generation Giving Project.  We've raised over $110k (that's "k" as in "kthousand"!) to be given to 11 groups in the Northwest- WA, OR, ID, WY, and MT.  (I don't think we've made our decision public yet, or I'd say which ones.)

It's been a great process!  I've learned a lot about how philanthropy works.  I've learned a lot about listening and being open, too.  I've not been great about this in the past, as I've got both a somewhat conservative upbringing and a somewhat insecure personality, so I'd often tend to think "ehh this is peacenik hippie dreaming-in-the-flowers highfalutin nonsense" about these topics*.  Just so I could feel superior!

*"these topics" being: causes, giving, social justice, community organizing, leadership development, and particularly class.  Class (as in "upper-middle class", "working class") is everywhere!  It's more of a thing than race!  It's so pervasively woven through my subconscious!  Yeesh!

Anyway, that was a ridiculous mode of thinking by me in the past, I've made a conscious effort not to think like that during this process, it felt really good, and now enough about me, we'll give a bunch of grants.  The effects will take a long time to manifest, if they ever do.  It was a lot of work, of a type that I don't really enjoy.  But the atmosphere, the people, and the possible large amounts of good that will come out of this have made it definitely worth it.  As a wise man once said: what goes around comes around.  Or, all things are interconnected.  Or, karma karma karma karma.  At any rate, this probably will do some real good.  Woo!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another day, another two grand truths I have to keep reminding myself

1. It is most likely not about you.

I am in a stressful spot at work.  You can't really have stress unless you have responsibility, and my current position involves the most responsibility I've had.  And I am, relative to all my coworkers, a Dumb Guy.  Thus, I constantly feel like I'm failing.  But the thing to remember is, nobody is looking at me working and saying "man, this project is in a rough spot; must be because Dan is a dumb guy!"  Everyone is on the same side.  Everyone wants the project to succeed.  Whether or not I'm a dumb guy is secondary, or tertiary, or whatever, geez we'll worry about that later, we have work to do!

2. Wanting things stresses you out.

I want some things, particularly at work.  For example, a job that I love.  But worrying about days when I don't love my job only stresses me out more.  And whenever I set some target in my sights, I feel better after letting it go.  There's something wonderful about wanting something but not really caring if you get it.

(I'm not sure how that squares with really wanting something.  What if you were hungry and you really wanted food?  You can't say "meh I don't really care if I get that food."  But if you can choose to want something or not, it's nice not to be too fussed if you don't get it.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Internet round up

Awesomeness Reminders: this is cool.  Super low tech, and maybe helping people's lives.  (maybe hurting them too!  there's a case to be made for that, but I think it's harder.)

Ooh some guy just spouts about what he thinks is the future of software!  I like the part about object orientation going away.  I'd love to try some other paradigms.

"There's a metacognition deficit. ... of the problems that afflict the country, that is the underlying one."  I hope this is true too, because it means that the way to change the world truly is to change ourselves.  That seems easier to me.

... okay for now, there's burningman packing to do!

Microlending, Moderate giving, and Megasaving

Or, time to put my money, quite metaphorically, where my mouth is.  (to do so literally would just be putting money in my mouth, and even I'd agree that's pretty dirty.)

Have I mentioned that it's absurd how well they pay software engineers?  So I have some money saved.  And that money is doing me totally no good in a bank credit union account.  Let's talk about three things I will do with it.

1. Lending money.
How much money involved: medium
How much money it will cost me: very little; most loans are repaid
How many lives it could change: a lot
How much it will change each of those lives: probably a medium amount
How much I know about it: not much
How much info I need from you: not much

I'm planning to put a significant chunk of this money into Kiva.  (or another platform?  I'm open to suggestions.)  Within a month.  There, I said it on my blog, now it's for serious.  I'll post again when it's done.

2. Donating money.
How much money is involved: probably less than I microlend
How much money it will cost me: well, all of it.
How many lives it could change: potentially a lot
How much it will change each of those lives: also potentially a lot?
How much I know about it: a medium amount
How much info I need from you: not much

I gave some money to the Social Justice Fund NW.  This has been part of a 6-month-long-ish project that we've been working on.  Some awesome folks from SJF have been handling all the hard work (putting out the call for grant applications, organizing all the site visits, etc), leaving about 18 of us young folks (age 20-40) to decide where our money goes.  It'll go toward organizations in WA, OR, ID, WY, and MT.  I'll let you know more when we figure out exactly which organizations will receive grants.  (right now we've narrowed it down from 63 applications to 20.)

I'm planning to put together a drive at Google, too, to help fund some schools in foreign countries.  I'll let you know how that goes too.

3. Saving money.
How much money is involved: a lot
How much money it will cost me: well, the goal here is that it'll make me money
How many lives it could change: one.
How much it will change each of those lives: infinitesimally.
How much I know about it: meh?
How much info I need from you: some!

For the rest of my savings, I'd like to put it into an interest-earning account.  This has two purposes: to earn some interest, and to be disconnected from my ATM card in case my wallet is ever stolen.  I'll put about a half year's salary in here.  And it's my "emergency fund", so I want something that's no risk, and pretty liquid.  Where should I put it?

Finally, in keeping with the spirit of "talking openly about money because nobody does anymore", I'd be willing to put dollar amounts on these items, in case you're interested to have something to anchor to; at least one data point to give you a ballpark.  But this is all about donations and stuff, so posting it on my blog would be braggy.  So let's say, if you'd like to know amounts, email me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Suave shampoo or conditioner costs $1 for 22 oz.

Since I got it in my head that it's worth it to spend $35 for a haircut now (it totally is, my haircutter lady Kate is fantastic, well except she keeps trying to get me to cut my hair not like David Tennant, but I got called Matt Smith the other day (no lie) so it's fine she's great, and also she got me back into 80's music), anyway since I got it in my head that it's worth it to spend $35 on a haircut, I figured well I might as well buy some good shampoo and conditioner to maintain my hair nicely and not hurt it real bad with awful chemicals or whatever.  So when she asked if I needed any product (I think that's the word she used, because y'know "hair products" do not have an S on the end) I resisted the urge to snap "I would if I looked like David" and instead suavely (har!) asked her for a shampoo and conditioner, whatever she recommended for my beautiful new Matt Smith locks.  Turns out it's "Mop" "Glisten" organic shampoo and conditioner.

Seventeen Dollars Each for Eight Point Five ounces.

Hey, that divides nicely: two dollars an ounce.  Which means it's (roughly) (not actually roughly, actually pretty exactly) forty four times more expensive than cheapman's shampoo.  The only other item I can think of with a 44x variation in cost that I'm likely to run across in daily life is salt.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oh, HERE's what I've been doing wrong:

Not killing enough experiments.  Especially with my Android apps, I'm not very comfortable with unpublishing them or otherwise letting them die.  I want them to be in my "portfolio", so that when people want to know if I'm good at programming or research or whatever, I can say "yes look at these things that I've made."  The irony is, if I just killed the ones that end up being hard, useless, and joyless, I could probably have made a lot more cooler things by now.

Well, or maybe not.  Maybe the point is I'm trying too hard.  Maybe I've set goals that are too high.  (get into grad school by wowing everyone with mad sick hackery and profound thoughts aplenty while I keep working a regular job; nay, a demanding intense job that also requires said hackery and thinkery?)  Maybe I shouldn't be setting goals at all!  Well now that sounds profound and profane and provocative, so it must be right.

No, but seriously, though.  I feel a little lighter every time I stop thinking about end results.  Whenever I stop worrying about whether I'll get into grad school and start reading more papers or exploring more whatever in my spare time.  I get bouts of "whatever happens, I'll probably do pretty okay", which really takes the weight off, and lets me live by curiosity that I can explore at will instead of goals that I need to grind out.  It's a really sane, sustainable world view.  (then it all wears off and I worry about success and failure again, but what can you do.)

I'm sure there's a good case to be made for goals.  And y'know, everything in moderation, and sometimes goals are good, yeah yeah.  But consider, maybe there's a good case to be made against goals too.  I never really thought about that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

News is unfair, pop songs are awkward, and P probably doesn't equal NP.

1. News is unfair.  Nobody knows the whole story.  I recently heard about a right-wing talk show host investigating Oregon state representative candidate Cheryl Myers for some BS crime that there's no way she committed, just so they can say "she was investigated for this heinous crime..."  Bah!  Similarly, results of the Google- and Verizon-backed policy proposal have yet to be seen, and it does sound like a step backwards, but it's not a behind-closed-doors secret plan to steal the internet, as the NY Times reported.  How can they just throw stuff on the news that's not true?  They didn't even retract it!  Blah blah media is broken etc blah grump complain!  Let's move on to something lighter:

2. Is it just me, or have pop songs gotten really awkward?  I don't just mean Soulja Boy's newest hit "Birdwalk" or the fact that the #1 pop star in the world is 11 years old.  The finest example is, of course, Kesha's "Tik Tok", a song that just makes no goddamn sense.  The subject matter is "I'm gonna party a lot"; fine.  But the music!  It's like they threw together a bunch of beats and decided "we'll end this chorus whenever we feel like and then throw some 'oh oh oh's on the end."  Her voice is generic pop plus an occasional ... drawl?  (whatever you call that bit at the beginning.)  The chords sound like a keyboardist found tabs for "Hella good" and said "hey why don't you talk-sing over this."

Anyway, example number two: I present "OMG" by Usher.  Again, the lyrics are mostly simple, but understandable, so I'll gloss over those for now.  And it keeps lulling you into periods where the beats almost make sense... until he stutters out "oh my gosh" and then there's a break for football-stadium cheers.  What?!

It's like there's a trend to just throw out everything we know about making tunes that kinda work.  And I don't mean to say this judgmentally- it could be kind of cool, even- I'm just befuddled!  It's like pop stars ran out of inspiration so they turned to outsider music.  But two does not a trend make, but I can't think of another song that's on the awkward level with those two yet, so I'll just let this be for now.

3. On the P != NP proof: this is fun news!  I don't know a damn thing about whether it's right or not, nor does anyone else yet.  It's 100 pages of intense math.  I don't really even care to look at it.  But consider that this is the computer-science version of curing cancer or landing on the moon.  It's a super friggin' big deal.  And this guy is like "hey look, I solved it."  And now everyone else is having a fit trying to prove or disprove him!  Another bit of admiring Mathematicians and Theoretical Dudes, I guess.

"Managing Things"

I've noticed an unusual fellow creeping into my speech recently: the phrase "managing things."  I usually accompany the utterance of this phrase with a sort of confused/annoyed face and a waving of hands.  Here's an example:

"What does (name)'s job entail?"
"Oh, I don't know.  Marketing?  Talking to clients?  ... managing things?"

I use this generally when I talk about vague things I don't know about and don't care about.

What does it mean?  I don't know.  There's a large overlap with the way I think about "business."  It's generally stuff that anyone can pick up relatively quickly*, where success or failure depends on how conscientious and organized you are.  I did this for a year as an executive board member of Scotch'n'Soda Theatre at CMU, and in numerous smaller capacities since.  I've never thought of myself as someone who's good at a particular thing, and even picking a preference is risky (as you lose the chance to do all the things you didn't pick), so I did some "managing things."

*I tend to think anyone can do anything.  I guess what I'm saying here is that there's nothing conceptually difficult about business, and there's nothing mind-blowingly Hard about it.  It's not advanced mathematics or pro basketball or juggling 7 balls.

Anyway, a couple thoughts about this phrase:

- it's a way for me to sort of lump together a lot of things I don't understand.  Like "supply chain management", "operations research", "office management", "purchasing direction", etc.  I'm sure a lot of people have a similar phrase when they talk about "computer things."

- I don't want to do any more of it.  I don't actually find it fun.  It usually doesn't involve much creativity, and therefore I will probably not find any joy in it.

- that said, I value it.  I respect people who are good at Managing Things, because it is a difficult thing that I am not great at.  And I am trying to value it more, because the alternative is the nerd's arrogance, the "well that powerful businessman probably got a 2.2 in high school and went to No Name University and couldn't find an integral if his life depended on it, but look at me, I'm clever!"  People hate on "managers", but as with everything, the problem isn't managers, it's bad managers.

So here's to you, Businessmen who Manage Things.  Is your salary a little overblown?  Yeah, maybe.  But so's mine.  If you do it well, keep on Managing.