journal for 2003-08-17

five hundred gallons of fake blood

Sometimes I have a “great” idea, and my mind really fixates on it. Sometimes, this happens at some slightly subconscious level, and I find myself half-asleep having strange almost-dreams about whatever it is that I’ve been thinking about.

At the height of my Starcraft obsession, I’d spend half my night’s sleep thinking of Protoss strategies. I always woke up completely exhausted, and most of the time I’d realize that my brain had been working on some completely stupid strategy, often based on impossibilities. “What if you started out with an infested Gateway?” It was a little disturbing.

The same thing happens to me with code, sometimes. Occasionally, it’s even useful: I wake up with at least one useful idea, although I usually have to really dig through my dreams to find it.

Last night, Gloria, Katie, Jerome and I went and saw “Freddy vs. Jason.” It was great! It was everything I wanted; it was a genuinely good slasher movie. (This does not mean it was a generically good film. I’m not sure any slasher flicks are just plain good cinema.) On the way home, I started to wonder whether it wouldn’t be fun to write a module. It would have Slasher::Slasher and Slasher::Victim classes and things like:

foreach ($freddy->victims) {
    print $_->name, " RIP ", localtime($_->killedtime), "\n";

I never thought it would be useful, but I thought it would be fun. When morning came, though, I could no longer think of anything really fun to do with it.

I think I should really start keeping a list of silly module ideas and tack possibilities onto them, so that I have good notes if I ever end up with enough ideas to implement something.

the movies

In preparation for FvJ, Gloria and I rented some of the originals. We saw Nightmare on Elm Street and Part 2, and Friday the 13th. I think they were all alright, although NOES was (as I remembered) much better than Friday. Gloria wants to see New Nightmare, which does look pretty interesting. I want to see it, too, but I’m going to try to see the intervening movies, first.

I think that slasher movies have a bad rap. In my opinion, they’ve clearly gone beyond being a lousy genre of horror movie. They’re really not about horrifying you. They’re over-the-top action movies with a lot of blood, a lot of (usually physical) special effects, and a lot of startling cuts and noises. Sometimes they’re really entertaining. They’re candy. They shouldn’t be judged on the same scale as haute cuisine—at least not often. There are haute cuisine horror movies, and I think some of them are really good. I’m still a little nervous now and then when I walk through our living room, past the TV, and think of Ringu!

More on slasher movies as I watch more of them.


Before the movie, we got dinner at the new Mexican place downtown, Tortilla Flat. It was pretty darn good. I had burritos poblanos, which were two chicken burritos with rice, beans, and a great mole. Gloria sampled some of the sides, which were basically tiny servings of normal menu items. I tried her chicken tamale, and it was outstanding. I still think I prefer Tulum, but this place was a little more upscale, so if I need an upscaler Mexican place, now I’m set.

The service was terrible, but not in a bad way, really. We had the impression that our server had been a waitress for about a week. She was really nervous, not very good at taking an order, and a little over-attentive. Because her incompetence was clearly due to nerves and inexperience, it was more endearing than annoying. I think we all said, “Well, she’ll get better,” at least once. Now, if I go back in six months and she hasn’t gotten any better, it’ll start being annoying.

the in-laws’ visit

Gloria’s parents were in town last weekend. They arrived Thursday afternoon and departed Tuesday evening. The visit was Just Fine. Gloria and her dad went to Dorney (which they enjoyed) and Hershey (which was rained out). We ate at a lot of restaurants, which was OK, too. We also hung out with Gloria’s sister and her kids, which was fun.

saturday in easton

On Saturday (the 9th?) we were all supposed to meet in Easton. The plan was: breakfast at Tick-Tock, then the Crayola museum, then the canal museum, then ice cream at the Purple Cow. (We allowed ourself this infidelity to the Hedgehog because Barbara’s ice cream was on hiatus for Musikfest.)

Unfortunately, a problem that was supposed to be addressed on Friday night wasn’t. Without intervention, production was going to have to stop, and “Keep Production Going” is pretty much Directive #1. I went in to work and spent a few hours there. Eventually I was able to flee, and I caught up with everyone in Easton. I missed most of the canal museum and all of the Crayola museum. Blah!

jethro tull

Saturday evening we planned to go see Jethro Tull.

We started out with dinner at the Apollo Grill, which was excellent. I had the salad nicoise, and it was awesome. It would’ve been better with anchovies instead of tuna, but it was great even as it was. Gloria had the special, which was swordfish on a noodle cake. It just ruled. (I had some.) I also worked up the courage to try their creme brule. Gloria and I had been pretty reluctant to try any after having it at Brew Works, where it tasted like butter. At Apollo, though, it was great; I got one small serving each of vanilla, chocolate, and coffee.

After dinner we mosied down to Sand Island. The line to get to the venue was long but it didnt’ move too slowly, and we got seated pretty quickly. The opening act was good. As he got to the end of his set, some people were chanting, “We want Tull!” but it wasn’t too obnoxious.

Once the opening act was off the stage, the big jumbotron projectors turned on. Everyone was ready for the concert. Instead, we got about an hour of commercials. They played car commercials, cable provider commercials, health care commercials, and other crap. Some commercials were played more than once. It was infuriating. Gloria paid like $35 per seat, and now we were being forced to watch commercials. We also couldn’t smoke.

By the end of the commercials, the audience was chanting and booing and screaming obscenities. Finally, some guy got on the stage and introduced the guy who was going to introduce the band. They both got huge choruses of boos. He introduced Jethro Tull and said, “Just a few more minutes!” It was like ten or fifteen minute (maybe more) before they began playing. Once they were playing, it was quickly revealed that the stage lights were configured so that now and then they’d blast the audience with a series of sodium-yellow flood lights that were painful to look at. It was possibly the worst-presented concert I’ve ever seen outside a middle school gymnasium.

The music was great, though, and was worth the rest of the experience. Still, though, a concert should not have to make up for its presentation with its music. They should both be good! Oh, I must write some angry letters!


Work is a mixed bag, lately. I’m making decent progress on some code, but some other things are just frustrating as heck. I’m incredibly unenthused about our new finance system, especially the prospect of integrating it with our sales system. This is largely because we have no sales system. It seems to me that writing a stub system just to integrate with a larger system isn’t really going to benefit anyone—but what do I know, right?

My audits, once well behind schedule, are catching up. I should get fully caught up this week, I hope. I also proposed a very Perlish system (a la Test::Harness) for performing audits and monthly reviews, and I’m really excited about the fact that it seems reasonable to people other than me. I’m definitely going to expend some effort to try and get it to happen. I pitched it to my dad, and he seemed to think it was interesting, too.

I should spend some time writing up an “executive summary” and some sample documentation and reports.


I’ve been playing Puzzle Pirates, and it’s fun. I haven’t spent too much time on it, which is actually nice. I don’t feel like I’m being completely overwhelmed by a need to play in order to keep up, as I’m told is the case with most MMORPGs. (Puzzle Pirates pitches itself as an MMO-Arrrr!-PG.) mdxi also plays, and we have long-term plans to start a crew. We need to get the other guys (Bryan, John C) to get off their butts and play. Of course, it would be easier and nicer if the game (which is Java) actually ran under OS X. Maybe it will once Panther is out.

I’m nearly done with Ratchet and Clank, which is just a really great platformer. It’s well-built, well-produced, and fun all around. More and more, I’m looking forward to the sequel.

I also finally rented Knights of the Old Republic. I only played it for three or four hours, but it seems awesome. I really need to finish the other RPGs on my shelf before I start playing another one, though! Once I finish some of the Final Fantasies and Xenosaga, maybe I’ll look at picking up KOTOR.


Anyway, I’m trying to be relatively frugal. (That is, frugal relative to my previously spendy nature.) I’m about halfway done paying off my PowerBook. Then I can focus on my AmEx. I don’t really plan to rush to pay off my student loans, although I might up my payments a bit so I can flee the graduated plan.

I’m becoming a real Apple zealot. The PowerBook is just awesome. With a few minor changes, it would be pretty perfect. I’m suffering from one of its minor problems: it’s hard to use in sunlight. It also gets pretty warm. I think that I wouldn’t be sweating so much if knave wasn’t sitting on my lap.

At any rate, it’s great. If it was easier to dock somehow, and if I had a good monitor, I’d hardly need humptydumpty. Of course, that’s only half-true. MacOS X is awesome, but it’s no GNU/Linux. It ships with perl 5.6.0, and it seems like getting it to run something more modern is a real PITA. That alone makes it a problem.

What would be really great would be if it had a good GPRS modem. Of course, I don’t want to pay for GPRS. Maybe if work payed for it… at any rate, it’s a fine machine and I’m happy with it.

My next Apple purchase will definitely be an iPod. Lorna (at work) got a Beetle this summer, and I reminded her several times to talk to her dealer about getting the free iPod. When I showed her what the iPod was and explained what it could do, she talked to her dealer and within a few days had a new toy. She brought it in to work, and I loaded some music onto it and showed her how it works. She and her husband think it’s awesome, and I have to agree. It’s so tiny, so slick, and so awesome.

My plan had been to wait until I’d paid off knave to pick up an iPod. I’m not sure, now, whether I will. I need to look at my budget and see whether I can do so without causing any problems to my plan to pay off knave before the interest kicks in. I think it’s doable.

I need to see if I go back to 180-days interest free once I pay off the loan. If so, I’ll wait until I pay it off and then buy on the loan again. I’ll be able to buy two, that way (one for Gloria; I think she’ll love it) and the delay might mean that there will be a price drop or a new model. I had been fixated on getting the 30GB model, but then I started to think about how much music 15GB really is. Basically, it’s plenty!

Well, that’s a quick recap of the stuff that’s gone on since I last wrote anything. I’m starting to overheat, so I’m going to put knave to sleep until we’re back home and in the air conditioning. (I’ll have to write more about our air conditioning tomorrow. There’s a brief story, there.)

Written on August 17, 2003