Archive for August, 2003

Things learned this week.

August 30, 2003 Leave a comment

Ever had one of those days where the theme seems to be “You learn from your mistakes. You’re going to learn a lot today.”

That pretty much describes my week.

Lessons learned

1. If one of the guys who shows up to work early calls and tells you that it looks like the network for the whole building is down, ask two important questions. The first is “Are a lot of people calling about it?” and the second is “Has anybody checked the closet we’re plugged into?”

Asking those two questions can save you some mild embarassment later, when you say the problem is the router (which somebody else is supposed to fix) and it turns out to be the switch in the LAN closet (which is your responsibility.)

2. Remember which day it is. This can save you from collecting timesheets earlier than you were supposed to.

3. Remember to take your umbrella with you on a call if the forecast calls for “isolated thunderstorms”. Chances are, they aren’t so isolated.

Those were the biggies. Nothing terrible resulted, save feeling foolish. Foolish, I can live with.

Moment of Zen

French Offered Live-In Politicians for Reality TV

Categories: Personal

Yeah, my guts are probably being hated right about now.

August 26, 2003 Leave a comment

One of the members of my team got taken off the team today. I’m not going to go into details, but the end result is that he’s off and not coming back. He cleaned out his desk, and drove off. The sad thing is that he probably thinks I stabbed him in the back. I hate being in charge some days. This would be one of them.

No Moment of Zen today, mainly because I’m in a funk.

Categories: Personal

The things you discover at work.

August 19, 2003 Leave a comment

I found out today when I was putting in my name into the doortag (I shifted offices last week) that I’ve got the same office that Francis Collins had, back before NHGRI was an Institute of the NIH. It’s a nice corner office, complete with a window view if you leave the door open.

Nothing earthshattering, but I’ve never had an office that anybody who testified before Congress (not to mention such minor accomplishments as heading the project to map the human genome) used to have.

Moment of Zen

Naked Man Nabbed for Seeking Shower in Car Wash

Categories: Personal

For some reason, I'm not terribly surprised.

August 18, 2003 Leave a comment

I ran across this story from the LA Times today, and remembered thinking about this during the campaign. At the time, I concluded “I’ll bet nobody wants to fight for Saddam Hussein. I’ll also bet nobody wants to get shot telling Saddam bad news.”

I was mostly right. I’d forgotten that Saddam Hussein was an energetic idiot, which is the worst kind of supreme commander that a nation can be cursed with.

Iraq’s Swift Defeat Blamed on Leaders – Missteps and erratic orders by Hussein and his son Qusai hastened the collapse of an already fractured military, ex-officers say.

Some choice quotes:

“Typical of the erratic orders were those imposed by Qusai upon a Republican Guard unit outside Baghdad. As American forces approached the city in late March, the unit received a new order every morning to reposition its tanks. Each order contradicted the one before, infuriating local commanders, Col. Raaed Faik recalled.

But the orders had to be obeyed. They arrived by courier on slips of paper signed by Qusai, Saddam’s younger son and commander of the Republican Guard.

Every time the tanks were moved from their bunkers, Faik said, a few more were exposed and destroyed by coalition air power. Meanwhile, he said, another commander was ordered to disable all three dozen of his tanks for fear they would be captured and used by Kurdish militias hundreds of miles north.

“These were the orders of an imbecile. Qusai was like a teenager playing a video war game,” Faik, 33, said in the cool reception room of his Baghdad home, gesturing to his teenage son banging away on a computer combat game.

“We should have mined the roads and bridges. We should have planned a guerrilla war,” said retired Gen. Ahmed Rahal, 51. “We were crippled by a lack of imagination.”

“We were like 10 different armies fighting their own private wars,” said Nabil Qaisy, 31, a Baath Party militiaman who said he spent the battle cowering in a north Baghdad bunker, unaware that combat was raging in the city center a few miles away.

“The only order I got was to dismantle my airplanes — the most idiotic order I ever received,” said Brig. Gen. Baha Ali Nasr, 42, an air force commander who said Iraq’s entire fleet of MIG-23s, MIG-25s and Mirage fighters was ordered taken apart and buried. Dirt and grime in the pits and berms where the planes were buried ensured that they would never be airworthy again, he said.

After the information minister claimed that Iraqi forces had retaken the Baghdad airport from U.S. troops, two former commanders said, Republican Guard Gen. Mohammed Daash was dispatched to check out a rumor that four or five American tanks had survived the Iraqi counterattack.

Daash returned to his headquarters in a panic. “Four or five tanks!” the commanders quoted Daash as telling his fellow generals. “Are you out of your minds? The whole damn American Army is at the airport!”

At this point, the Iraqi army may have been more fortunate in its rapid defeat than if it had actually been effective as a fighting force. Being pitied is better PR than being hated and put on trial for war crimes. Plus, now everybody knows exactly who is responsible for Iraq’s rapid defeat: Saddam Hussein.

Moment of Zen

Mayor Predicts Baby Boom, Slams Candles

Categories: Personal


August 16, 2003 Leave a comment

Want to go shopping and buy stuff to clutter my apartment with, with heavy emphasis on expensive computer equipment. Don’t want to spend money. Am philosophically opposed to shoplifting, much less the grand larceny my current desires are leaning towards.

Repeat that a few times. You’ve hit my mood. I think I’ll go to Ollie’s tomorrow. At least there I can’t damage my bank account too badly.

Moment of Zen

Man Cuts Off Own Penis to Cure Sex Addiction

Categories: Personal

The most interesting thing to come out of the New York blackout? People were calm and nice to each other.

August 15, 2003 Leave a comment

I’m not sure if this is one more knock-on effect of 9-11 or not, but there was one thing about the Northeast and Midwest blackout last night: There was almost no crime. People stayed calm, helped each other and didn’t engage on a looting and pillaging spree. This is in contrast to the New York blackout of the 70s, where the city had a rash of fires and crimes. Emergency calls skyrocketed, like you’d expect. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said emergency services responded to 80,000 911 calls, more than double the average.

For me, it was a pleasant and welcome surprise. 9-11 had shown New Yorkers behaving much the same way, but that could have been the sheer shock of the event. In this instance, everybody’s experienced a power failure at least a few times, so there was no shock to explain the civility and calm.

Regrettably, the effect didn’t seem to stray across the border. In Canada, officials reported a number of thefts and looting.

“There is serious looting going on” in parts of Ottawa, said Ottawa police chief Vince Bevan, adding there have been reports of break-ins, smashed windows and theft in the nation’s capital.

Ontario declared a state of emergency after the power outage.

Moment of Zen

City Battles Lovers’ Padlocks

Categories: Personal

Watching FX.

August 13, 2003 Leave a comment

I’m watching Predator on FX tonight and pondering “So when is Carl Weathers running for governor?” Jesse’s been governor of Minnesota. Arnold’s running for governor of California. I’m just waiting at this point to see the bumper stickers “Weathers in 2004!”

At this point, I’m kidding. But if you’d asked me ten years ago if any of the cast of Predator would make it to high office anywhere, I’d have laughed then too and sworn it could never happen. On the other hand, my grandparents would have probably died laughing had anyone said in 1950 that Ronald Reagan would be President some day. Not just President, but a conservative icon.

Moment of Zen

Heatwave Claims Frostbite Victim

Categories: Personal

Sometimes, it takes fever and nausea to make me post.

August 11, 2003 Leave a comment

I just got back from a fun-filled weekend with at her posh command post high above Times Square. I took the train, a train that apparently had a gift for me: a extremely disgusting virus that made me wish I was dead around 5 this morning. Fear not, gentle reader, I’m feeling much better now.

I saw something quite cool this weekend: a New York street fair leading up to Times Square. There weren’t any rides, but dear God, there were hucksters. People selling everything from socks and underwear, to cell phone equipment, to knockoffs of Soviet-era pocket watches (which left me wondering “Why on earth would anyone be knocking-off that junk?”) Dad called while I was looking at some of the stuff on sale. One snippet I remember is talking to Dad about the socks and t-shirts:

Me: “Yeah, they’ve got socks for sale. Three pairs for ten bucks.”
Dad: “That’s a good deal” (Dad was a menswear manager and buyer for years. He qualifies as an expert on sock deals.)
Me: “They’ve also got t-shirts for sale. Six for ten bucks.”
Dad: “That’s not.”

What did I get from the plethora of merchandise? Two things: a cell phone earset with a long boom mike that reached down to my mouth, and a holster that fits my Treo. I tried the earset and thought it was junk, so I left it behind. Jords later called me and was using it and liked it. Shows what I know. My main problem was that I couldn’t hear anything with the earset unless I was in a really quiet place, which isn’t normally where I’m using a headset anyway.

What did I turn down? Massages (“Ten minutes for ten dollars!” “No thanks, I’m fairly mellow as is.”) Aforementioned Soviet knockoff watches (“How much?” “Thirty-five dollars, but for you, twenty-five.”) Dental tools. Windproof lighters. Socks. Che Guevara t-shirts (I was holding out for this one.) Last but not least, I also passed on the “night-vision” binoculars. (Once they make nights as bright as noon, these might work.)

Ah, New York. Untrammeled capitalism at its…..well, most untrammeled.

Categories: Personal


August 3, 2003 Leave a comment

Yess was here last weekend cooking for me (she’s a personal chef and I’m one of her clients) and she made me chili (along with other delicious things as quiche, crab-stuffed chicken breasts, and individual steaks.) I discovered tonight that combining Yess’s already quite wonderful chili with some of the light creamy jalepeno dressing I have in the fridge, makes for a delight on the tongue. It’s not too hot, not too mild, just wonderfully right.

I’ll just say this: If you’re in the Philadelphia area and you’re looking for a personal chef that’s not expensive while still able to make heavenly meals for you, email me privately. I’ll hook you up.

Moment of Zen

Man Arrested for Firing Half-Baked Weapon

Categories: Personal

Saw Pirates of the Caribbean yesterday.

August 3, 2003 Leave a comment

If you like watching Johnny Depp single-handedly rescue what would otherwise be a fairly bad movie, then go see this. Orlando Bloom’s not up to the acting level he showed in the Fellowship of the Ring or The Two Towers, and I thought that Keira Knightley had been much better in Bend It Like Beckham. On the other hand, I think that Jonathan Pryce was born to play the role of Governor Weatherby Swann. Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa had some excellent lines and played the harried scoundrel rather well.

On the whole, I’d say go see this movie. I wouldn’t say run to go see it, but it is well worth the price of a weekend’s matinee admission.

Moment of Zen

Bad Feng Shui Blamed for German MPs Lacking Ideas

Categories: Personal
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