journal for 2002-06-27

early morning datetime woes

I can’t explain how often I find something new about Windows and all that other Microsoft crap that really bugs me. I can’t set my PC at work to use ISO8601-like date and time formatting, because it breaks spreadsheet formulae that rely on character position inside dates. Meanwhile, I can’t tell the little system tray clock to display the date. Do I need to find a third party app just to give me a desk calendar, even though the OS ships with its own SMTP server? What is wrong with the world!?

under god

So, a federal court ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance can’t contain the phrase “under God.” I think that’s the first reasonable thing I’ve heard in a while—and I believe that we are a nation under God. I just don’t think the government has any place taking a stance on the issue. I mean, jeez, can’t they spend their energy on something more important, like poverty, education, and all that rot?

The crazy part of this is that the so-called President called the decision ridiculous. How can he possibly support a state endorsement of monotheism? Well, that’s easy enough to answer: he’s a monotheist, and an idiot. Some analyst on the news said that any higher court was likely to strike down this ruling. That makes me sad.

The most reasonable thing I read on the matter was that the problem wasn’t merely that the pledge endorsed the idea of “One God,” but that it created a new insider/outsider division between students. Little Billy doesn’t understand that Little Petey’s family has religious objections to the pledge; he only understands that Little Petey isn’t like him, because he won’t recite some words that (as Gloria very correctly put it) nobody really believes in anyway. (Even if you think the words are good and serious, would you admit that you feel that you have honestly pledged your allegiance hundreds of times?) How many Jehovah’s Witness children have become outsiders for no reason other than their occasional strange deviation from normal social behaviour, amplified by the fact that children really like birthday parties?

At any rate, I could take the pledge more seriously if it wasn’t polluted by that unacceptable language. It reminds me of a teacher, who once told me, in the 1990’s, that teachers’ job applications still asked:

	Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist party?

That’s the sort of question that tempts me to join for a few weeks, just so I can answer it defiantly. The problem is, I can’t stand the CPUSA.


I finally heard back from and old friend last night, who has taken to identifying himself only as L. (Maybe he’s going for a Linda Fiorentino thing, a la Men in Black.)

After months of occasionally harassing him in phone messages and email, I finally sent him a guilt trippy letter. If only I had remembered earlier that guilt is a great motivator. I think he was raised as a ring-kissing knee-bender, too, so that gives me some kind of bonus in employing Guilt As A Weapon. I actually felt a little bad about it, but I imagine that by this afternoon I’ll have forgotten and moved on to something new and shiny.

working with geeks

John and I went out for a beer at the local brewery last night. We both got the Niederlander Hefeweizen, which was really pretty good. The name inspired us to talk with awful German accents for a while, until we realized that the two guys at the other end of the bench were actually speaking in German.

Much, if not most, of our conversation centered around our job-related woes. John is ridiculously underpaid; he’s completed a few really impressive projects for his ISP employer, and it seems like they continue to treat him like tier two tech support. Meanwhile, I’m pretty well paid, but I’m often stuck doing relatively menial coding and troubleshooting, and my co-workers just don’t provide the kind of geek-to-geek interaction that I need.

Being able to interface with other geeks is a source of immense information, expertise, insight, and relaxation. I don’t get that at work. Of the (roughly) ten guys in IT at my job, only one seems to have the kind of interest in technical excellence and pure problem-solving that I think makes a Tier I Geek, but he isn’t oldskool or prime-time enough for me to brainstorm with him on most problems.

What John and I need is a job where we’re paid my salary and have his clued colleagues.

Written on June 27, 2002