28 February 2007

That's Just Bully

I went to Nerd-a-rama for the weekly fix today. While there, I asked the young squire at the desk if he knew whether they had a copy, or could get a copy, of Tales From the Bully Pulpit. He giggled like a wee lass and suggested (sarcastically?) that I might try Batman instead, it's really cool. It's a man, who dresses like a bat. As opposed to ManBat, right? (That's a real, and very crappy, DC comic as well.)

Sure this kid's got cool hair - at least, it was cool when I had it back in '86 - but maybe if he's going to work retail, he should learn a tiny bit about the products he sells. Never heard of the obscure title the customer's asking about? Not a problem. Perhaps, you might want to find out about it, especially when said patron said he just lost an eBay auction for it where it sold for $67. Perhaps his manager might like a bit of that filthy lucre.

Nooners with a Book

"What are you reading?"


"Is it good?"


"What's it about?"

"A man who has sex with a 12-year-old."


Still, I don't think my waitress spat in my food.

Where's the basic cultural literacy?

Young teacher, the subject
Of schoolgirl fantasies
She wants him, so badly
Knows what she wants to be
I've just finished Part I - Hummy and honey ensconced in Lepingville, waiting for the butterfly catchers to swarm, or Quilty to grow warm. I tried starting this a few months back by reading the editor's intro...there's a reason he's annotating and not writing. On restart, I'm thrilled with the verbal play (though still irritated by the annotation.) No review today. Review on completion.

Bring It On

Things I'm thankful never to see:

  • Jim Calhoun, shirtless, covered in blue and white paint
  • Geno Auriemma dressed as a cheerleader
Kudos to Pat Summit (who's got way more wins than Bobby Knight) on piercing her image a little.

of course, I'll still never get this image out of my head.

27 February 2007

P.G.'s Valet

I wanna Jeeves Clock!!!

If I have to get out of my warm and cozy bed just to start another shitty day out in the world, I want the best of all gentleman's gentleman gently stirring me from Morpheus' grip.

Phoenix is Great...if you're retired

Staffing season is coming up, but I'm going to watch it slide on by. I've got about 10 hours left on the first draft of one spec (then another 10 or 15 hours of polish) and haven't even decided what show to spec for the second. It's March in two days, so the odds of (lazy) me getting the two specs finished and picked up by an agent are exactly nil. So I'll be even lazier and get back to work on those much later.

That means at least another year in software, which would be fine if I lived somewhere where people actually wrote software. PHX is not a tech center. My job choices are

  • crappy company where I am now: pay is very good for the valley, writing a PoS* ecomm system
  • crappy company X: pay would be lower than now, commute worse, and odds are I'd still just be writing a PoS ecomm system
  • crappy company Y: see above
And just to put this into perspective, I don't have an X or a Y or anything else on the hook. I've got my job, and feelers out to others...all of which seem to have no interest in me. Back in NorCal, I'd have options. Here? I'm overqualified for just about every tech position in the Phoenix Metro area, so I'm stuck at a job that makes me homicidal, pinning my hopes on hitting the tv-writing lottery, but not being particularly proactive about that.
* Piece of Shit

26 February 2007

Up Late

So, there is a purpose for Myspace. Its bandwidth can be used to promote Fox shows. I suspect The Winner is going to blow, despite its creator and cast; however, any excuse for more Stewie and Brian is good with me.

24 February 2007

Once More, With Feeling

The musical episode of Scrubs a few weeks back reminded me of the far superior OMWF episode of Buffy. Somewhere, I've got a bootleg cd that a guy I know made the night it aired off the broadcast audio, but I couldn't find it and figured I'd toss a few extra bucks Joss' way since he done lost the WW gig. Finally got around to placing an Amazon order this week and it arrived on Thursday.

Friday morning, the cd supplanted my bootleg of Dean Gray's American Edit in the batmobile's player and I cruised to work groovin' on the mixed bag that is this semi-masterpiece.

Turns out the weakest voices are the heart of the Buffyverse - Buffy, Xander, and Willow. I mean, they're game and give it the old college try, and they manage to hit all of their notes in approximately the correct order...but the arrangements are carefully tailored to their limitations. That's good. Not being forced outside of their comfort zones - about a fifth for Nicholas Brendon - allows the three to do their parts professionally and not embarrass themselves. The heavy lifting is left to the three talented singers - Tara, Spike, and especially Giles.

Anthony takes after his brother Murray, don't you know.

And here he is doing something a little bit different...Sweet Transvestite

23 February 2007

Lunchtime Shenanigans

Longish lunch today with co-workers. That's the two people I like and one of the ones I (barely) tolerate. Tolerable Boy ended up picking the restaurant - a place he frequently frequents about twenty minutes from the office. Would nae have been my choice, but whatever. I was buying lunch for my friend today, as our almost year-long Sudoku Skins challenge wrapped up last week and he nipped me by ten.

We miraculously get the one available spot in the lot and climb down the stairs. Nice place, sorta rathskeller-y with prints of Dutch (mostly Van Gogh) paintings adorning the walls. Stonework, punched copper bar, and a den-like atmosphere are nice. They've got Stella Artois on tap - not my favorite beer, but certainly good enough for lunch. I'll down a couple along with my two small plates. The ceviche was excellent; the crab tostadas were not.

At the bar, a few feet from our table, sits a slender blonde in her thirties and a friend. Pretty, slightly lined face and the upper arms of a teenager. So, obviously, I'm going to be attracted. A couple of times during lunch we exchange glances* and she gives me a nice smile. Then I go back to my meal and oh-so-boring conversation about whether Tolerable Boy should buy a house on the edge of civilization (he shouldn't) and whether he should change the pool from salt to chlorine (duh) or put in a pool fence (duh, again). Of course, a couple of crones in the booth behind ours flame up a couple times, so I reek of smoke now. Thanks, crones!

Late in the meal, the blonde comes to our table and asks if she can borrow my phone. I haven't used my phone. She doesn't ask the table if any of us can spare a phone. She asks me if she can borrow my phone. I'm an accommodating fellow, so I say "sure". She promises not to call Paraguay (or was that Uruguay?) but a Cali number. What do I care? I've got plenty of minutes (no friends) and free long-distance.

"I'll have to take it upstairs. It has no bars. See?"


"It's okay. We know the owners."

"Yah, if you were going to be standing right here you could borrow my phone. Or if you're around when we leave and want to use it when we go upstairs, that'd be fine."

"Oh. Fine. We had some nice eye contact there, but if you don't trust me..."

(There was quite a bit of attitude to go with all this, but you get the idea.)

Alright. I'm no idjit. Either a) she wanted to borrow a phone and would eventually find another and make her call or b) she wanted to get my number but didn't have the balls to just ask and be rejected. Either way, I don't feel so bad. In fact, it's given me something to write (and something with which to bore y'all) this afternoon.

In retrospect, I screwed up. What I should have said instead of smiling dismissively when she got snippy was "you just smiled at me. That's not enough for me to let you walk off with my phone. Give me a blowjob and then we'll talk."

Crude, but to the point.

* Let's be clear: this is the harmless flirtation type stuff; I'm not about to cheat on my wife with some random chick at a bar on a Friday afternoon. I mean, it's afternoon for criminy's sake!

South Africa: Bigger, Longer, and Now Cut!

And 20 years on, finally, some science. From someone who's cut and clean as a whistle, allow me to say DUH!

Circumcision may provide even more protection against AIDS than was realized when two clinical trials in Africa were stopped two months ago because the results were so clear, according to studies being published today.

The latest data from the trials don't show the 50% reduction in risk, however. They show a 65% reduction.

In honor of the news, here's Friday's video. Let's get these boys to Africa, stat!

22 February 2007

30 Rock: Money Answereth All Things

If the President is so serious about the war on terror, why doesn't he hunt down and capture Barack Obama before he strikes again. It's time for a change America. That's why I'm voting for Osama in 2008.
Jenna Maroney

This episode had it all: Annie; swastikas; and moralistic protesters with unusual sentiments.This show is really starting to hit its stride when even Jenna's story rocks.

Senator Scumbag

I'm shocked, I tell ya. My pal, good ol' trusty, honest, reliable Sen. Joe Lieberman might have lied?!?

Lieberman calls jumping to the Republican side, and tilting the Senate, "a remote possibility," which means there's at least a chance of that. Time seems to push Lieberman in this direction, as the article concludes: "Lieberman's GOP flirtation has its risks--and a time limit....The longer he waits to capitalize on his moment, the greater the danger that he'll be tagged as one of those politicians for whom having power is more important than using it."

Joe? Care more about power than anything else? Not my buddy Joe.

Update: here's a link to the article in Time. Someone over at that waiting-room staple needs to let their caption-writer know that Joe ain't a (D) no more.

21 February 2007

Sam Querrey: Tennis Historian

He's only 19. He's only 19. He's only 19. I'll just sit over here and keep repeating that to myself.

Querrey hits with Andy Roddick, the top seed in San Jose this week, and has beaten the No. 4 player in a practice match. He's also beaten former No. 1 Pete Sampras during practice and has worked with Jimmy Connors.

“I guess it's cool to meet Connors but Roddick is really my idol,” Querrey said. “He's more my age. I didn't know Connors held the record for being No. 1 so many weeks in a row.”

Querrey also said that beating Sampras “wasn't that cool because he hasn't played in five years. I was more excited beating Andy.”

Can you bounce the server?

I'm not fond of most of the people where I work. In fact, I only like two of the ~200 people here and tolerate about a half-dozen more. Then, there are the few I actively despise. It's a special kind of person who can engender that much bile in me, but sadly not a rare kind of person. And I've got one of these working directly with me!

We hired a ridiculously junior engineer last year when our team was larger. She was to be the responsibility of a junior-mid who would in turn be mine. Turns out that while his skills were mid, his maturity was definitely junior: he bailed for a job where he can play with Ruby and I was left with the idiot. And she is an idiot, let there be no doubts.

Her "solution" to most of her problems is to have me bounce our JMS server. It doesn't solve any problems, but it seems to assuage her momentarily. A week or two ago, she came to me and my friend - flustered, frazzled, upset - unable to understand why her changes weren't being reflected in an app she was testing. She'd set breakpoints and they'd be skipped by the debugger, the code just kept behaving the same no matter what. She was modifying a file in a different application.

This is my life here in the Valley of the Sun.

20 February 2007

Hikaru will Rock Tim's World!

Oh George! You scamp!

16 February 2007

Nerd Shoutouts

This must be the week for unexpected nerd shoutouts. First on 30 Rock, Kenneth was tempted by a fellow page named Grace Park. Honestly, I thought she was a bit robotic.

Then tonight on Psych, the mystery of the week is about a missing girl girl who's been attacked named Deanna Sirtis.

Black Market Bombs

Perhaps we should rattle fewer sabres in the direction of Tehran and pay more attention to the former Soviet Bloc.

I Hate the Old

Reason #217 why the old should just shuffle off this mortal coil:

The children of Troon will continue to attend nearby schools. And thanks to a loophole in Arizona law, the grown-ups of Troon will continue to avoid paying property taxes in those districts, which makes officials in the districts less than mirthful.

That's awesome. Keep your tax money so you can line your coffin; hopefully you'll be getting in it real soon now!

Patrick Flynn - who completely by coincidence is president of a homeowners association in unincorporated Troon - led the move to create a school district without schools (though there are children) in order to save a few hundred dollars a year. Good for him. And fuck those young people moving into his town with their children. He got his, now they can get theirs.

One can only hope some poorly educated youngin' jacks his car one day because a decent public education wasn't available. Or better still, maybe he'll just keel over on the golf course. Then I would laugh and laugh and laugh.

15 February 2007

Worst Sex Trial Ever

Glenn Marcus hides his whips in his long boxes.

Speaking in a husky monotone, Jodi described the whippings, mutilations and torture she said she received at the hands of Marcus, who sold comic books and lived with his parents on Long Island.

11 February 2007

Joss does The Office

I've tried, oh how I've tried. I'm supposed to like The Office, but it just doesn't make me laugh. Perhaps it's my pedestrian tastes. Anyway, I've got to try at least one more time. Joss Whedon directed this week's episode. Once more, into the fire. Maybe someone will die!

10 February 2007

Bill Simmons Can't Drive, Either

Sounds like my favorite writer controls himself on the track (and has as much skill) as well as he does at the poker table. He's "had to retire from basketball" unfortunately. I'm sure that used to be a thing of great beauty.

So happy to have the Suns this year...

Awesome. I'm a fan of two college bball teams, both of which are having off seasons. My Huskies (which I hated when I was at UConn because I was that kind of teenager) are too young to attract the attention of a Catholic Priest and play with the cohesiveness of the Cavs with BronBron on the floor. The Zags are just...off. I can't put my finger on it.

Oh, maybe they've got the munchies.

On the plus side, Josh can transfer to Storrs when Mark Few cuts him. He's got UConn-Character.

Update: This is a much better photo. Josh Heytvelt and Theo Davis after being released from Spokane County Jail.

The Weak of the Week

Great counterpoint to the last post, where little cowards are talking smack about John Amaechi and vandalizing his wiki entry (probably because they covet his man-flesh themselves). In San Francisco, Elie Wiesel was grabbed and dragged out of an elevator before the assailant ran away. AP is reporting that someone took responsibility for the action on an anti-semitic website.

I'll say this for the cowards: they're consistent. Pick on the weak and avoid the strong.

Here's a challenge to the little fuck in SF: come on down to PHX and try to drag me out of an elevator. I won't scream for help like Wiesel did. I'll be very, very quiet. I swear. You won't hear a thing.

Out of the Cocoon

I wanted to wait a few days before saying anything about this week's big story about teh gays in the NBA. At first, I was surprised by his announcement, but then he's always been a bit of a surprise. I mean, here you have a man born in 1908 who died in '93 and he still managed to average 6.2 points and 2.6 boards over his career. Actually, at 6'10", those numbers are probably best explained by being dead.

Anyway, I had to look on imdb to find it, but sure enough...it was his character Mortimer Duke who believed in genetics more than environment.

Joking aside, John Amaechi's wikipedia entry is really busy right now. Scumbags come in and vandalize it - when I went a few minutes ago it had a section titled "faggot" - and then a decent human being comes and repairs it. Shame we can't track down the physical locations of the vandals' IPs and "have a little talk" about. While I won't go so far as to call Amaechi a hero for coming out after he's retired (and with a book to peddle,) it's still a courageous stand considering the rampant homophobia of the immature, sheltered kids who play ball. Perhaps the little pussies mocking him would like to do it to his face. I'll even get them a stepstool so they can look straight into his eyes before they shit themselves in fear.

The Boys finds a new home

For the uber-geeks, Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's The Boys has been picked up by Dynamite Entertainment. It is a dark - sick might be a better word - take on the Costumes. DC dropped it from its Wildstorm imprint last month, presumably because it was hitting a little too close to home in its depiction of The Seven. I guess a drunken WW and fascist Supes were too much for them to take. Vicki Victim? That's alright. But sully the reputations of their franchises? No, thank you.

09 February 2007

"Epic" Battle

The Hawks came to town tonight. And that was the good news.

It started out rough: I made myself a lovely roasted beet, pear, and wilted dandelion salad, but in roasting the beets, I got in the wife's way and she didn't get to make her dinner (a good source of vitamin A, four essential B-vitamins, iron, and fiber) and eat it until pretty close to game time. Though honestly, getting to the game a few minutes late and missing whatever Arizona Idol reject was going to be singing the anthem wouldn't kill either of us. We have low tolerances for shrieking.

So we hit the road about 25 minutes before tipoff. That's not bad at all. We can zip down the 51 and get parked in our primo lot in time for Ced to command us to "stand up, Stand UP and MAKE SOME NOISE!" I'm driving the batmobile, so I can make up a few minutes with no effort whatsoev...

...what the hell?

Multi-car rollover accident. Traffic's backed up for three miles and shunted off to surface streets. This would have been an awesome thing for the DOT or Highway Patrol to have indicated at the entrances and exits prior to the long span from which there is no escape. I just hope none of the people in traffic had anywhere important to go. We obviously didn't.1

We finally get off the highway - by the way, kudos to the coppers for pulling over the scofflaws driving in the shoulder. ALL of them got yanked and ticketed from what we saw. A few miles on surface streets, back to the 51, and with no traffic we just cruise on down. A little trouble at our parking lot since we're now almost an hour late, but we get to block partially one of the exits (we'll have to leave the game a few minutes early so as not to be cuh-rushed) and go into the arena.

There's about five minutes left in the half at this point and the Suns look like crap. They're not communicating, not paying attention to each other, and not crashing the offensive glass at all. That's not a huge problem when you're hitting your shots, but tonight, not so much.

Pat Burke played 8:57 in this game and it wasn't close, if that gives any indication of how dire were the straits. It's fun and all to root for the lad, just like Paul Shirley sightings were always welcome, but in a game like this, I could do without the burking from his sloppy passes and poor decisions.

For a stretch in the third, things were looking up. Then they weren't. Simple as that. Basketball is a game of runs, and the Suns just didn't have enough runs in them tonight to match the boys from the ATL.

Of course, Iliad and Odyssey2 in the seats behind us whined about every officiating "slight" and "bad" call. I saw only two bad calls (one actually seemed to be correct, but it was made in an odd way) while we were there, but I'm not quite that blinded by fandom. It helps that I'm an interested, though not passionate fan of the team.

So, an adequate evening of entertainment, preceded by a tasty dinner and shitty drive. A normal Friday night in PHX.

1 No. I don't feel bad for the injured/dead. I'm a cold-hearted bastard. It takes really high-level incompetence to roll a car on a dry, straight road, and I'd rather that trait not be passed on to future generations of drivers. If that sentiment, from me, is a shock...you must be new.
2 (In best Dennis Miller voice): a couple of Homers

Ready, Aim, Fire!

This would probably have been a quicker way for Lisa Nowak to get to the FLA.

Is that a...penis in your pocket?

Here's an interesting paper on disfluency and a quick rundown by Chris at the Mixing Memory blog.

Everyday speech is littered with disfluency, often correlated with the production of less predictable words (e.g., Beattie & Butterworth, 1979). But what are the effects of disfluency on listeners? In an ERP experiment which compared fluent to disfluent utterances, we established an N400 effect for unpredictable compared to predictable words. This effect, reflecting the difference in ease of integrating words into their contexts, was reduced in cases where the target words were preceded by a hesitation marked by the word er. Moreover, a subsequent recognition memory test showed that words preceded by disfluency were more likely to be remembered. The study demonstrates that hesitation affects the way in which listeners process spoken language, and that these changes are associated with longer-term consequences for the representation of the message.
Chris closes his summary by wondering about the effects and role of disfluency in comedy, which is exactly what I was thinking while reading about the study. I can think of three ways this comes into play in comic delivery.
  1. Exaggerating disfluency before an unpredictable word. This is the most common usage, where an unexpected twist comes at the end of the joke. An extended pause lets the clever listener know something is coming.
  2. The opposite of above, specifically avoiding disfluency before an unpredictable word. This is a stylistic choice which works well for deadpan comics. The listener is always running 400ms behind the comedian, but if she's good, the delayed laughter doesn't effect her setup of the subsequent joke.
  3. Intentionally using disfluency before predictable words. Pausing or "um"-ing sets up the tension; the mundane word causes the release. This isn't good for a big laugh, but creates a little listener anxiety which can be exploited through repetition and then a quick switch. Think of this like a meta-variation on a normal joke's pattern, where the twist at the end - a full joke unto itself - also varies because of the odd deliveries that preceded it.

08 February 2007

BSG Series Finale

I can't really go into a lot of details, but I recently had a chance to read a copy of the scripts for the final two episodes of BSG. It's conceived as a two-part series finale, which Ron Moore penned himself around the time they went into production on season one. He may not have had a detailed five-year plan like JMS did with B5, but I like that he always knew where he was going.

I couldn't take the scripts with me, and didn't have all that much time, but I was able to commit the final scene to memory. Obviously, these are massive spoilers.

To give you a little context, in the penultimate episode, the fleet follows the final two signposts to Earth. First, they end up at (I think) Proxima Centauri and a barren planet the fleet originally mistakes for Earth. They realize their error and find the final clue to Earth's location. In the final scene of the episode, Sharon's Raptor jumps behind the moon. Just as she's about to leave in frustration, she sees Earthrise.

In the finale, Roslin and Adama decide that Earth's not ready to know the truth yet, so they're going to assimilate into the culture, quickly advance our scientific and technological knowledge, and then make themselves known. The goal is to prepare Earth for the coming of the Cylons without causing widespread panic. Colonists are provided forged documents and are surreptitiously ferried to the surface. The fleet is left outside the solar system, and one Raptor is secreted in a cave.

Here's the final scene:

* * *


Title: Twenty Years Later





Admiral Adama. It's a pleasure to finally meet you.

Do I know you?

No, but I know you.

Son, I'm just trying to enjoy my breakfast. Can I help you with something?

I am God.

Excuse me?

I am God. (BEAT) I was the first sentient Cylon.


We've prepared these people for you. You won't take Earth with a surprise attack the same way you destroyed our homes. There is no Balthar here to betray us.

I'm not here to destroy you, Adama.

Then why are you here?

I'm here to apologize. And to buy you breakfast.

Apologize?! You destroyed our homes, killed our families, and chased us across the galaxy. And now you want to apologize?

Yeah, it was a dick move on my part. That's why I'm paying for your meal.


06 February 2007

Krispy Dreme

Crisp, sticky sweet clouds
Dream stuff from betwixt the stars
Cast off, abandoned

05 February 2007

Sir Bob Speaks Truth

You sing it, Pink!

MySpace-ial Friend

So I very, very, very rarely touch MySpace. I have a few younger friends with their cellular telephones and social networks and rock 'n' roll music, so I created a profile on Rupert's Romper Room a while back. It's empty, mind you. No photo, no blog entries, no content, and until today only "Tom" the doofy default friend (the jackhole who made bank when he sold this site to Rupes.) I'd not checked out my page or anyone else's in months, and thought I'd take a look today.

I had an invitation from my friend Tom-tombalina, a lot of messages from deleted profiles (spam) and one that was still in my inbox. Remember...no photos, no videos, no content whatsoever, just the most basic profile information, like city and date of birth...

How's it goin? I'm Kristy, I just moved to the Phoenix area and I wanna meet a nice guy around here :-). I moved here to Arizona a couple of weeks ago for work and now that I'm here I have nobody to hang out with! I read your profile... You're cute and I liked what you had to say :-).

I'm 24/F/single and I'm lookin for a guy who is a little bit older or more mature than me. You say you're 38 and you're cute so I guess you're qualified :-)

My friend Jen from back home suggested I tried using myspace to meet people in my area. I just signed up and my profile sux hehe. I do have a blog/profile page at ThisGirlfriend.com ... I have alot of photos and stuff up if you wanna see me.

I left you a personal msg on my homepage and I took a new pic for you today. Come check me out when you have a chance, k?

Lookin forward to seeyin ya,

Ai-ight. Props to Kristy for seeing how damn cute I look in that photo above. It's not my good side. I'm also really happy I was able to touch her with the things I had to say, like "" and "". I feel really special to be singled out like this. Forgive me for gushing so much!

03 February 2007

Joss off Wonder Woman

This is sad, sad news on two fronts. A marquee, tent pole movie would have been a great notch in Joss' belt. And Cobie as WW?* That's off the freakin' hook. Sure, it's not Charisma or Morena (my first and second choices) but Robin Sparkles woulda rocked the Star Spangled hot pants.

There is one good thing, though. Now, I don't have to waste time seeing a movie about a character I just don't like. The only reason I'd have gone - and on opening night - was Joss. Now, I can just keep hoping that Kevin Smith gets to do a Lantern flick someday.

* I assume Joss was kidding...or maybe he was serious...hard telling.

02 February 2007

The Digital Revolution Will Be Televised, But Who'll Get Paid?

John Rogers wants residuals, damn it! Support the writers if they do strike; they're the ones creating the films and tv shows you like, not the suits. The suits? They're the ones who revived Howie Mandel's corpse and think if it's animated it must be good.

Don't skip the comments on the Rogers' post. Ensign Crusher weighs in with a great story about negotiating with the craven suits on ST:TNG.

01 February 2007

Blogger comment workaround

There's a Blogger error with what appears to be URL rewriting/redirecting right now that's affecting some blogs (not all) where users can't get to comments. I've stopped it from popping into a new window for now to make the workaround easy. Just change the host from "www" to "www2" on the page that fails and you'll be able to post.

I assume this will be resolved anon.

Suns, Spurs, Sleep Deprivation!

Yah, I haven't gone to bed yet. This game's just too good to stop watching. I'm glad I won't be getting home at midnight, but there's no way I'd turn off a heavyweight fight like this 'un.

And please, allow me to say Manu Ginobli is the dirtiest feckin' baller since John Stockton hung up his shoes. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here...Manu's worse. Stockton, he'd grab and bump and grind and hit ya, sure. Manu, well...did anyone see the knee to Amare's tender vittles?!?!?

Expecting Managementations

I rolled into the office this morning at just past 5:30. That's depressing on many, many levels of course: I'm not currently sitting in my seat at AWA watching the Suns-Spurs game, but watching at home; I'm thoroughly exhausted and should be calling it a night any minute now (likely before 10;) and obviously, I was in so early that "lunch" was breakfast at 9am.

Why, one may wonder - knowing how uncritical my current job is and how few and rare are our deadlines - did I make such an early day of it? Outsourced labor.

We had a mid-level engineer who worked on one project for one year before ditching. While he needs a lot of seasoning before he'll be senior, he's responsible enough to have finished his project. Finished it, then hit the door. The only thing that happened faster than him bolting was the company shelving his work, all so we could pay money to another company to develop the same thing for us.

Again, I hear the cries of "why"? Those cries aren't coming from software professionals, however. We know better. And for those of you at software companies...you should try out doing in-house IT for a tech-wary, tech-phobic company sometime. That's a whole other level of pain.

The best way to describe the experience of being a software engineer at any company not run by other engineers is to compare it to working in Hollywood. Writer writes, actor acts, director directs. Then, there's the development execs and produers. They "give notes". They have a cousin who's "just super talented and should get an audition". They focus group and do market analysis. In other words, they're parasites riding on the backs of the talent, who muck with the product, and blame the creators when it all goes awry.1

In our case, it was a cousin (actually, a friend.)

So I get to the office at 5:30 to run one of the final steps required to go live (because they weren't ready on Wednesday when they were scheduled to be.) I had worried that it would take a few hours, since I was estimating 10-15 seconds for each call to their webservice. In fact, the processing was done in less than five minutes! Woo-hoo! Three hours later, after I'd finally finished analyzing the errors (about 10 percent of the data load failed, living up to my usual quality guarantee of Five Eights Reliability2) we started the conversation with the vendor to figure out what problems they were having.

Besides the fact that they didn't understand the requirements, failed to meet their deadlines, and continue to have a ton of problems, it's going great!

So far, nothing has surprised me. We knew they'd blow their deadline, knew they weren't clear on the requirements, and knew they weren't going to be able to support our data. By "we", of course I mean IT, not management. If these people were in LA, they'd just be asking me to "raise the stakes" and "make Jenna more likable". It could be worse. They could be my old boss Tim. I don't have the energy to open that can of worms. I'll just close with this simulated tasklist from that job:

  • Go to store; get milk
  • Go to moon; get rocks
  • Eat lunch
  • Solve world hunger

Note: I've thought about what I've written here - stream of consciousness fluff - and I think there's a decent essay comparing software to film/telly craft that could be written. If I have some time and energy this weekend (and I'm not busy with more interesting/fun writing) I might expand and expound. If anyone has any thoughts, comments, suggestions, or criticisms of the comparison, please comment here or email them to me. I know that this posting isn't super-coherent or cohesive, so criticisms like that aren't strictly necessary, thank you Mr. Guitar Man.

1 For those who know where my passion lies (and how much I hate software) you might find it odd that I want a job in an industry where I'd have to deal with such similar problems. I can only conclude that I'm so accustomed to the crap associated with my job that I'd miss it if I didn't have management getting in the way of quality.
2 I should trademark that phrase before Steve Ballmer appropriates it to describe Vista.