journal for 2002-10-03

surviving the rough newport streets

I don’t know if I mentioned my brush with death. On Wednesday, Godfrey (one of the UK IT guys) drove us to (ugh) McDonald’s for lunch. I know I mentioned that, yesterday. Anyway, as he merged onto the motorway, he sat in the driver’s seat looking over to the next lane at long length, never noticing that he was speeding toward a nearly stopped car at something like seventy miles per hour.

The Boss and I yelled, and he managed to swerve out of the way with no damage except to my peace of mind. The Boss said this was even worse than last time that he was nearly killed in Godfrey’s car. Does this happen much? Well, the general manager of our company put as an action item on our list, “Fear for your life as Godfrey drives you around.”

We went out again, today, this time to (ugh) Burger King. (Granted, BK is far better than McD’s.) Today I rode in the front seat, which gave me the opportunity to feel more of the accelleration and watch cars come at us from the wrong (to me) angle. If you want to know how scared I was, consider that I took off my glasses so that when we crashed into something, they would not shatter into my eyes as the airbag hit me. (Does that happen?)

The ride was fine, though. I need to consider the fact that Godfrey’s car is really expensive and handles nicely; also, I don’t think he’s wrecked one yet. I’m not going to ask about that, though.


Today, I did my first few pieces of real work on the sales system I’m here to implement. It was pretty boring and painless. I didn’t get into much real coding or design; I just created some datatypes and tables. The silly anomalous table design here bugs me, but I managed to keep my brain from hurting by thinking about the fact that I won’t need to do most of the heavy lifting in this project—or so I believe.

Work on things at home is piling up, and I’m trying to keep up by connecting to my workstation at home and kicking things’ tires. It’s not going so well, but I’m keeping the demand down to a dull roar. The Boss expects me to finish work on the (somewhat huge) overhaul of our training system, and I suppose that I can, but it’ll just be piling one kind of suck atop another.


We played some Empire Earth again, today, but it was so-so. The game is too much about getting to the last epoch and not enough about playing each epoch correctly. I agree with Godfrey: it’s more fun to play a very tight range of epochs, and to play them very well. I think most RTS games are just poorly conceived in general. The games need a way to let the player concentrate as much as possible on strategy, and leave tactics to the computer. If players could write basic AI’s for tactics, this could lead to great games. Failing that, RTS games should stay relatively simple, like StarCraft. With so many units, each with its own profile, the player is stuck micromanaging from start to finish. The skills of a good general should be applicable to an RTS. They are not. I think we’ll see, as time goes on, a new genre of hybrid real-time/turn-based games in which strategy is emphasized without the complete elimination of tactics.

the daily food report

Breakfast: hotel breakfast; bacon, sausage, egg, croissant

Lunch: Burger King. I had a “Chicken Whopper,” which looked and tasted just about exactly the same as a BK Broiler. Tomorrow, I’ll try to find out if they’re really the same thing. Also, fries and a soda. I really wished I had a camera with me, because I wanted to get some pictures of the weird stuff they serve. They had curry dipping sauce and garlic dipping sauce. They also had “Diddy Donuts,” which looked like cakey Tastykake Donettes and came with butterscotch, and raspberry dipping sauces, and also a third flavor that I can’t recall. What is it with Brittish fast food and donuts?

It’s about 2130, and I think I’m going to try to sleep. I haven’t been getting quite enough sleep lately, and I think it’s giving me headaches.

Written on October 3, 2002