journal for 2002-07-08

what i did with my summer vacation

Despite the essentially relaxing and enjoyable vacation that’s just ended, I am in a pretty lousy mood. I will relate the events of the long weekend.

the fourth of july

I got up pretty early, considering it was a national holiday and all, and made brownies. Using advanced American technology, I only had to mix oil, water, and brown dust. The brownies were pretty good. I really like brownies. Gloria is good at her job of protecting me from my brownie-eating urges, so when I do have them, they’re extra good. Mmmm. Brownies. (And no nuts! Yuck, nuts in brownies!)

We hung out and relaxed and I played Eternal Darkness. I think I won, although I might not have won until Friday. I realized that Guardians are really easy to kill once you understand how to fight them. Actually, the whole game is pretty easy, but it was fun anyway.

We saw Men in Black II, also, which was OK. It was entertaining, but nowhere near as much fun as the first movie. At least it was better than Minority Report.

A few months ago, I built a little slapdash system to track some sales figures. I said it was a bad design, and wanted to design something good, but nobody could wait that long. So, despite my objections, it went forward. After hours of effort spent over the last few weeks (and longer) to keep it working under newer, weirder conditions and to make it do new things, I got an email that the system was being moved to the UK. The partial implication, I think, is that we’re a bunch of dunderheads who can’t administer a system. I would feel dunderheaded, maybe, if I hadn’t spent so much time explaining why this was a dirty hack that would stink and require lots of maintenance.

Anyway, I refused to be distracted by that, as it was July 4th, and I had been told that we were officially Off Duty for the 4th and 5th. The fact that it was Brits asking for work on the fourth of July certainly did not help encourage me to jump to it.

We ate hot dogs and rice and relaxed and went down to Nisky Hill to watch the fireworks. They were, as Gloria put it, not very well planned. Still, it was cool to see them taking up the whole sky and smelling like gunpowder and going off so loud that you could feel it in your chest. It’s been a few years, I think, since I’ve seen fireworks up close. After that, we went back home and watched some bigger cities’ fireworks on TV. I reread a few more chapters in Mythical Man-Month and crashed.


Friday was good, too. I called the UK early and talked to a brick wall for a while. Still, I was on vacation, so I said, “None of this stuff is my decision. I just write code,” and moved on. I am trying to become more as one with the Tao of Programming, verse 7.1 especially.

We did the week’s grocery shopping, and for lunch we picked up some fried chicken and some modern technology yellow dust that was later turned into biscuits through the application of water and heat. God bless America.

Around six thirty, we headed out to the boonies for a party at my boss’ place. It was a good party; we met some friendly people, ate some grilled food, and I drank some booze. I tried Firewater and Jaegermeister for the first time, and liked neither. I also tried something called ‘Tattoo’ that tasted extraordinarily like cough syrup. I guess it would’ve been OK if I wanted to make a Flaming Homer. There were fireworks, most of which seemed to explode without launching, but nobody died. One of my coworkers seemed near dead when we left, but apparently survived the night by jettisonning the contents of his stomach.


We did our normal morning stuff. The better of the two local bagel places was closed, presumably for a long time, as it’s been for sale for a while. I guess they couldn’t sell in time to stay open. This is a bummer, as the bagel place down the street doesn’t know how to toast bagels, is more expensive, and is just generally not as good. Still, we needed our bagel fix, and we got it. Before ice cream, we hit the book store, which is still pretty lame, and I used my birthday month discount, getting 15% off my entire purchase. My entire purchase consisted of Paradise Lost and Regained, Coraline, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Fight Club, and Wyrd Sisters.

When we got home, we got to reading; Gloria read Coraline and I read Fight Club. We both finished around the same time. Gloria didn’t like Coraline, sadly, but I really enjoyed Fight Club. It was tough to put down, and I’m really eager to read more of Palahniuk’s work. It was also kind of depressing. I don’t necessarily advocate blowing up all the banks, but there’s something to the sentiment that the modern mind is motivated more by consumerism than anything else, and I know I’m not immune to that criticism. I like Jack’s quote, “That living room set defined me. That was my life.” Higher callings just seem like a chore.

We went to another party, this one at Andy’s, but didn’t spend too much time there. We showed up, said hello, ate some food, checked out how much work Andy had done and had left in rennovating his place, and cruised. We did some more relaxing, and eventually crashed.

I guess it might sound like we had a boring vacation, but it’s nice to just lounge around and know that work is more than two days away.


The downfall of my good mood began Sunday, when, taking out the laundry, I missed the last step in the staircase and twisted my ankle but good. After a few seconds of gasping on the floor, I felt fine, and we went about our way. By the afternoon, it hurt like hell. We watched The Sting, which we’d rented a little earlier, and afterwards I climbed into bed and slept for a few hours. When I woke up, my ankle still hurt.

Dinner was tasty, my ankle still hurt, and I couldn’t get to sleep because of my nap. I stayed up for a while and read, and finally got to sleep around midnight.


I got up today around six, and I was really awake. Maybe I should nap more often! I actually read an article, not too long ago, saying that taking a midday nap is a really good idea. That’s my kind of thinking.

I got to work, and I got a bunch of email and calls about the broken system that was getting moved to the UK. I explained that it wasn’t my task and that they needed to bother someone else. Eventually, I was believed. That’s when I started this entry—I’m in better spirits, now, as it’s hours later and I’ve had my peanut butter and jelly sammich.

Still, I’m really tired of dealing with broken systems that I’m not really authorized to fix. I really, really hope that we can implement a new production system and do it right from the beginning. Dealing with bad hacks is high-stress and depressing. I thought that the best thing about doing programming would be finding and gracefully eliminating bad hacks. Instead, I find them and maintain them, which is all but sacreligious, in my opinion.

My ankle still hurts. I rode my bike here, pedalling with my left foot and coasting most of the way. It’s uphill on the way home, so I’ll probably either walk or get a lift. The ankle seems to be getting better, probably because I’m just sitting around.

Eh, back to work. I have vented.

Written on July 8, 2002