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Twilight Zone on Netflix... [Jun. 1st, 2015|03:20 pm]
John
One of the old classics, that I saw once or twice, but never saw in a significant block.

I was so excited by the chance to see they have it in HD, and this was my first chance to watch it on a color screen and... right.

(I was born in 1966. Lots of people still had black-and-whites in the early 70s. They were cheaper!)

One of the things I like doing is seeing how they told stories, especially in a half-hour back then. And I got to see some of the good episodes.

There's one where a pitch man (a guy who sells sundries on the street by convincing people they need them) who makes a deal with Death - he's never made a really big pitch. Can he have an extension until he does? Well sure - and he plans never to make another. Well - if you haven't heard the plot, I'm sure you can almost guess it: he'll have to make that pitch to save someone else's life. It's silly and schmaltzy, and pretty darn good for a half hour story.

There's one that a friend of mine despised. This poor sorry guy can't just settle down and read - his wife even ruined some of his books because he wouldn't stop reading them when she couldn't control him! Then, because he hid in the bank vault and read during his lunch hour, he's the only one alive after a nuclear war. He's starts off lonely, and crazy with boredom, until he realizes there's an undamaged library, and... and his (extremely thick) glasses break, just as he has his books all piled up and planned out. He can't read at all.

It was a nasty, nasty episode, she said. And you know? I agree. But I'll give the writers this: they were making a world where a nuclear war was going to be a complete nightmare - even the tiny bits of joy you might find could be ruined!

So, while I agree it's a nasty episode, one I hate, it's also good art. (Not *great* art. But good.) It expresses what it wants to get across in an emotionally evocative way.

I bet fan-ficcers of the day tweeted their outrage and included Facebook links to alternate endings... what? Oh, okay, yes, it was *long* ago, so *LiveJournalers*, are you happy now? No?

Geez, no satisfying some people.

Anyway. If you're looking for a nostalgia binge, or want to see one of the classics, it's out there.
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Life and such... [May. 31st, 2015|03:06 pm]
John
So, it's been an interesting few weeks. Work got really busy, so busy that the notion of a three day weekend seemed unbearably enticing, and then personal stuff got in the way so it wasn't restful.

But on the plus side of the personal things, I got to hold a wake and bury some dead stuff (stuff as in "stuff from the past"). Not great, but better than not.

Free of charge vicarious scare: One of my drives which I trusted as a backup drive suddenly died, possibly with no data recoverable. Remember, if it's important enough to keep, it's generally important enough to have on at least two copies.

Hey, here's a question that's really odd to be asking, given where I live and the time of the year. Does anyone know if regular garden hose length makes any appreciable difference in pressure? Like: I have a ten foot hose to a 100 foot coiled hose "house" which might go to a splitter that runs two sprinklers. (My one water outlet is high pressure - I think splitting will help!) But then I need another 10-20 feet of hose for the sprinklers. And of course, if I don't have a 10-20 foot hose, I might have to use a 30-40 foot hose, so....

Anyway. Plumbing is kind of like electrical work, or so they say. I know with electrical work, longer runs mean more power wasted. I believe that you can do a pretty long run without having to worry about power actually dropping appreciably. But I'm not gardener enough to know about water.

And I know I have some fiercely smart folks in my LJ/DW feed, so I figured I'd ask. (I suppose I could, I dunno, ask a plumber to run a new tap or two to the exterior so I wouldn't need such long hose runs, but that would mean realizing that I have time today to call a plumber, to call some plumbers, to be home when they say they'll show up to get an idea about the job, to be there when they actually *do* the job, and... and yeah.)

Where was I? Oh, right. Ahem.

Ahem, cough.

WHY THE BLOODY BLUE BLAZES AM I WATERING MY LAWN NEAR FLIPPIN' SEATTLE IN MAY?

Here's one thing that really gets me upset. I know I can't write off an unusually sunny spring in western Washington to global warming. And I know that the Inhofes of the world know that - that'd be the first thing they'd throw back if someone did claim this had to do with climate change. But somehow, "HAH! It SNOWED!" is meaningful.

There's a lot of battling about viewpoints, and a lot of unfair soundbites created and transmitted, and that upsets me too, because I'm one of those "reality based community" types. There are zingers and shadings of the truth and ways to lie by cherry picking statistics dishonestly, and so forth. I don't like that, but I acknowledge it's going to happen.

But when one side of a debate gets to throw around complete garbage as part of their argument, shamelessly, we've gone beyond soundbites and focus groups and nasty, negative political attacks.
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I feel far too suburban now... [May. 22nd, 2015|08:08 am]
John
Exciting news this week: I picked up a couple of new lawn sprinklers.

Worrisome news of the week: *Last* week I realized I might need to water my lawn, in Western Washington, IN MAY.

You may know the Seattle version of the old rhyme, "April Showers Bring May Showers, but in the dreary rain, there still bloom flowers."

Or the Pacific Northwest rule of thumb, "keep your rain gear handy until a week after the Fourth of July." Because it's usually so common you might need it any day.

Climate change, or just an annual oddity? I don't know.

This year, though... I have crab grass. And I learned late last year that most ordinary grass can out-compete crab grass, if the soil is rich in nutrients (I fed it twice over the winter) and there's plenty of water, and you keep the grass about 3 inches high, to shade the crabgrass and give the regular grass even more of an advantage.

Wow... encourage the desiderata (even if it does have a habit of being turned into poetry), and it will grow and overcome the unwanted? Sounds like a plan.

"But how will I mow? There are so few sunny days in the spring!" Well, *that* hasn't been a problem!

("Um, John, doesn't the gentle exercise of a manual lawnmower risk exhausting you?" "Oh, thank you for asking, hypothetical reader! Yes, it does - so I only mow a single section a night, which also makes the watering less of a pain, since I only water the section I mowed (or if I'm having a bad time, the section I mowed yesterday.) My lawn has three well defined sections.")

Anyway. Cool sprinklers - there's one that generates a spattery jet with adjustable length in a circle, or portion of a circle. I realized that's perfect for my lawn section with the tree on it. I set it halfway to the property line between my house and my neighbors, and have it run a half circle - the stream hits the tree, sure, but it sprays on either side of the tree. Since water isn't solid, missing a tiny wedge-are where the trunk blocks the spray shouldn't hurt - that grass is in the shade 90% of the time anyway. The other one is this one . Supposedly, it sprays in a circle, but you can adjust the distance at many points in the circle, to handle irregular shapes. Really geeky. It's going to either be the most frustrating (and therefore useless) tool ever, or kind of fun.
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Off sick, binging on BRAND NEW Star Trek episodes [Apr. 27th, 2015|12:44 pm]
John
So, Friday, after working six hours saying over and over, "last day - I can rest all day tomorrow" I learned that... whoops. They had to schedule everyone for 2 weekends for the next several months, and mine was coming up... tomorrow. I was supposed to be at home today.

Saturday was an 11 hour workday. Ye gods and little fishies.

Sunday was a nice, very light day, which is good - I was at the "I can react, but I have no act-ability". Go ahead - tell me there's a tough problem in SQL Server, I'll dig into it and figure out how to fix it. Tell me to "manage my cases" and I can't. I stare blankly. I know, technically, I should open case one and take action, then case 2, and so forth. But it doesn't happen.

This is what I think of when I say I'm mentally fatigued. I'm still a genius - but it's like my mental muscles are completely strained. They still work fine, if called upon, but they don't want to do any work.

("I'm still a genius" - no humility problems here, eh? Well - I am. I don't like to think of where I'd be without that as an advantage. My brother died early *in spite* of it because addiction issues derailed college for him.)

Anyway - a few days back, I found that there's a bunch of seasons of new Star Trek episodes, and they've got Professor X playing the captain, Jean-Luc Picard. And they've got some guy who I swear could be Wil Wheaton's kid brother playing a brainy kid who I bet a lot of people could find really annoying.

They've got the guy from Reading Rainbow, I think - he's got some kind of eyepiece that obscures his face a bit.

Best of all, they have this Klingon - you wouldn't believe it, they have the guy who did the voice for I Am Weasel!

So I've been watching this while my brain relaxes a bit.
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Lousy day at work... [Apr. 23rd, 2015|09:44 pm]
John
So, I got stuck on a case 80% of the day. The case was impossible to solve because we hadn't looked over the right things - partly my fault, but this guy was sharp, so I didn't want to force him to jump through hoops. But I also tell people "but remember, part of my job is making sure it's plugged in" or "if I don't do this, the next person will yell at me". So - problem was impossible to solve, but could have been made more possible if I was having a good day.

Part of the reason I wasn't having a good day was I ran into the worst kind of twerp in support. His team has a product that blew up another team's product, and he wants the other team to do all the work of fixing that.

Now, we all get these kinds of cases - cases that are big, and we don't know how to handle, and we wish someone would fix it for us. And sometimes, we need another team to help, and it seems like they won't do what we need. It's frustrating.

I try to be helpful in these cases - to explain all that I can to make sure they understand what I can and can't do, and help them set up a path that will lead to eventual case closure. In this case, it was a steady stream of "you can fix this for me, or someone else can fix this for me - what, do you think *my* team is going to fix a problem with *our* product?"

On top of that, I'm tired - after no more than just a bit of walking yesterday, I've got a pile of expenses that popped up all at once, some wonderful, some blah, but more than I like to have in front of me at the moment.

And my brain is once again constantly reminding me that I'm tired, broken, and that everyone will eventually decide they don't like me, and bail. And the tired makes it a bit more effort than usual to remind myself that brains lie.
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In other news... [Apr. 22nd, 2015|10:11 pm]
John
I started blogging SQL Server stuff - http://sqlspirit.blogspot.com.

If you're not in IT, it's probably almost as boring as you can imagine, but I'm trying to be a different sort of tech writer.
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"Cheryl's Birthday" puzzle... [Apr. 19th, 2015|08:33 am]
John
I saw there was a viral logic puzzle put out, this girl tells two boys about her birthday - the first gets only the month, and the second gets only the day.

This can be solved but it's a puzzle that bugs me a bit because it's a puzzle based upon that it's a puzzle with a solution. You need to rely on the sufficiency of information to solve it.

That doesn't bother me too much - there are a lot of problems that can be solved by comparing them to another similar problem, recognizing that you can find that they're not just similar, they match - once you figure out how.

For example, a great many puzzles fall into the "pigeonhole principal" - if there are n+1 pigeons and n pigeonholes, at least one hole must have been the entry for more than one pigeon. (And if there are 5n+1 pigeons, one hole must have been the entry for 6 pigeons - or more!)

Anyway: this one's cute, so I figured I'd post a solution behind a cut:

solution/spoilers followCollapse )
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So, the kinda good news, and the good news... [Apr. 18th, 2015|09:40 pm]
John
The kinda good news is that the feeling that everything I am and do to other people is toxic has passed sometime over the weekend.

The good news is that my test of some interesting behavior in SQL Server is nearing its end.

The bad news is that I chose a very bad example to use to test the behavior, and it's taken far more than an hour longer than I expected to illustrate it, and I'd really like to be asleep already. Ah well.
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Bad news/good news [Apr. 13th, 2015|09:36 pm]
John
So, the bad news is that I walked slowly for 40 minutes on Saturday, and felt lousy Saturday night.

But I mowed my lawn Sunday - much more acute strain than 40 minutes of walking - and I didn't feel horrible Sunday night.

So tonight I tried 25 minutes of slow walking (and some pushups - well, 30 in the morning. And 30 more in the afternoon. And 17 tonight. And abdominal exercises. I might have overdone the "little bits added on).

We'll see how I feel tomorrow. I don't feel *awful*. But it doesn't always hit me quickly.
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Anyone need sourdough starter? [Mar. 31st, 2015|03:21 pm]
John
So, I have a friend in the hospital recovering from a lung infection. I baked him some sourdough bread. Since I wasn't sure when he'd be up for a loaf of bread, I kept my sourdough starter "live," feeding it once a day. It's now truly mighty.

Anyone in the Seattle-ish region in need of some starter? It's good - I'm no expert, but it rises good and imparts a reasonable flavor.
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