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observation.Random

Over the weekend we went to the Seattle Children’s Theatre for their “In the Wings” program for Peter Pan. As one of the teachers from the SCT drama school lead the group in various drama-y, interactive-y exercises (for which I have somewhat less than zero patience, but okay… that’s what blogs and iPhones are for), she asked the kids what some of the benefits of not growing up would be.

Listening to more than one child pipe up with variations of “you won’t ever die,” it occurred to me that one of the more poignant aspects of Peter Pan (and perhaps one of the keys to its initial success) is that it takes place a few short years before Nibs, Tootles, Slightly, Curly, and millions of other boys will be permanently Lost in the fire, smoke, and mud of the Western Front…

“Now I understand why girls are so giggly,”

…groused The Boy as Doc struggled to subdue his hair with industrial quantities of gel, a rubberband, and a thoroughly inadequate hairbrush.

“Come again?” said Doc.

“Their brains are being pulled out by their ponytails.”

YADM (Yet Another Developmental Milestone)

Behold: The Boy’s first programming book. Which he requested by name.

Scratch Programming for Teens

My feelings are… mixed.

A quick note to Andrew Sullivan…

[Anita] Dunn would never have used Hitler as a source for perseverance and setting the right objectives. Why[?] Because Hitler’s evil is self-evident. So why is Mao’s rancid evil not self-evident for a person like Dunn? Because she retains a double standard for far left totalitarianism over far right totalitarianism. It’s that insulting and morally disgusting double standard that gets my goat. Mao was responsible for the deaths of up to 70 million people – and Dunn sees him as a useful strategist.

The reason many people see Mao as a useful strategist is because, well, he was an excellent strategist. Hitler… not so much.

(Oh yeah… Mao was also a pretty decent writer. Hitler… not so much.)

Headlines to make your blood run cold

“Bomb hits outside suspected Pakistani nuclear-weapons site”

Commentary would be superfluous, I think…

(via TPM)

I’m sure the Germans have a word for this…

The feeling one experiences when an emotionally-charged event elicits conflicting impulses to respond.

The hobgoblin of little minds

A few thoughts about consistency, of course (Pace Emerson. let’s not limit ourselves to merely foolish consistency…).

Ahem. Programming geekery ahead…

Continue reading »

Shorter Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA):

Just because he’s President doesn’t mean he’s allowed to get all uppity-like.

Dear Megan McArdle:

Using statistics about gun crime and violence to downplay the seriousness of carrying firearms to political demonstrations isn’t comparing apples to oranges so much as it is comparing apples to Orange-throated Tanagers. Why?

Because some people go looking for a confrontation, which is when Really Stupid Shit happens. And when it happens, it happens fast.

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!

How I wonder what you’re at:

On Sunday, the shuttle had a stowaway attached to the external fuel tank, and although NASA was sure the little animal wouldn’t be a debris risk, the bat remained attached to the shuttle, apparently stuck in place. New details have now emerged about why the bat didn’t fly away before Discovery launched…

This can't end well...

Ouch. Like a teatray in the sky, indeed…

“That’s not a real country. Where are you going?”

On oh-dark-hundred Sunday morning, I dropped Doc* off at SeaTac for a flight to Dulles. She’s been training a lot of therapists in a new PTSD treatment technique, and this is no different.

Okay, this one is a little different. From Dulles, she was bound for Vienna, Austria; from Vienna, a flight to Erbil. From Erbil, a four-hour or so drive to Sulaimaniyah… Given the time difference, I’m guessing she’s arriving there right about now.

Okay, so maybe this training is a lot different.

She’ll be working with a couple of NGOs to translate training materials into Kurdish and Arabic, and to train community health providers to treat Kurds tortured by Saddam Hussein’s Baathists. The efficacy of her treatment will be compared to that of another short-term therapy.

This all came together very quickly, maybe over the span of a month or so… Her mentor from graduate school was initially approached to do this, and she recommended Doc. It’s exciting as well as good work – and as developing countries go, relatively safe even for Americans; how could we say no? So she’s in Kurdistan for two full weeks, with a couple days travel time and an extra day to decompress in Vienna on the way back.

Skype will be our friend…

(Title from Doc’s dad’s reaction when she told him “I’m going to Kurdistan for a training!” Yes, she was trying to deflect attention from the fact that this is legally still Iraq, even if Sulaimaniyah has been effectively independent since 1991. Obviously he didn’t fall for it, not that she really thought he would.)

[edited @ 1:00PM 9 March to add: they evidently ran into a sandstorm (!!!) en route from Vienna and were temporarily rerouted to Syria (!!!); she's safe on the ground in Erbil and spending the night in a hotel there. Well, we always knew it was going to be an adventure... (also edited to clarify that it's Vienna, Austria and not Vienna, VA - an improbable but not impossible confusion if you're familiar w/ Dulles & the Northern VA/Metro DC area.)]

*Doc: my wife. Got tired of always writing about her as ‘my wife’ when she’s got, like, an actual identity. And a pretty well-defined one at that (as this probably illustrates). Ergo, Doc.[back].

SolutionsIQ.com: If I’m their idea of a solution…

…I have to call BS on the IQ part of their name!

When we first moved to Seattle, I submitted a resume to a local staffing firm, SolutionsIQ. They’re one of the big dogs in town, particularly when it comes to getting contract work @ The Beast of Redmond. I may have updated it for them when I got laid off five or six years ago, but still… five years is a pretty long time in the tech world. Periodically, I get semi-spam from them looking for MS SQL developers, which I delete. But today… today I got a doozy:

Job Description:
An Application Support Analyst III has in-depth experience, knowledge and skills in an application support discipline (Message Processing, Mediations, Provisioning, Billing, Web, Middleware, Retail Activation Systems, Payment Processing, etc…). An Analyst III is able to work independently on escalated issues and prioritizes, investigates and resolves them with minimal guidance from others. They function as the technical leads of their teams. Occasionally an Analyst III will be given opportunities to lead teams and projects to resolve complex technical issues.

Experience:
• Telecommunications experience required (4 to 6 years preferred).
• Strong experience working with Oracle on Unix using command line and GUI SQL tools.
• Strong knowledge of relational database design and support, including the support of large carrier class enterprise software systems.
• System Analysis experience in the support/operation of a of large carrier class enterprise software system, preferably in a wireless environment.
• Experience in testing, quality and change management methodologies.
• Previous experience in 24hrs/day, 7days/week systems support capacity.
• Experience in troubleshooting customer related issues and managing customer relationships required (4 to 6 years preferred).
• Extensive experience with revenue reporting and accounting.
• Business systems analytical experience required (4 to 6 years preferred
• 4 year degree (In Information Technology related field preferred) or equivalent work experience
• Schedule Hours: M-F 8 – 5, some weekends and nights

If one were to draw a Venn diagram of ‘My Skills’ and ‘This job spam,’ the universe of overlap would be, at best, a single point: SQL. And it’s the wrong dialect of SQL, to boot. Oh, and I’ve developed some middleware components. That’s all. No telco, no Unix (I hadn’t even noodled around with Linux when I last updated my resume with them), no Oracle, no ‘support of large carrier class enterprise blah blah blah’, no 24/7 support, no revenue reporting, no accounting, nothing.

I fired off a terse WTF email in response – any matching algorithm worth its salt should have left me out of that one, unless they’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel for candidates. And to scrape quite so low as me with these particular requirements strikes me as bordering on malpractice.

In short, SolutionsIQ would appear to provide neither. Discuss.

Gimme some tongue, baby!

Beef tongue, to be precise… With even greater degrees of precision, a beef tongue sandwich, a torta de lengue, if my non-existent Spanish skills are correct-ish. I’ve been working up the courage to order one of these puppies for a while; today, at the local taco truck, I finally did.

It was very tasty – I’ll definitely do it again. The roll wasn’t as crusty as I like, but the tongue was delicious: meltingly soft, braised with onions and a hint of what I think was cinnamon, cut into delicate beefy chunks. It reminded me of the best parts of a great pot roast, only softer…

Also, it seems only appropriate that an occasion as momentous as losing one’s tongue cherry be marked by adding a long-overdue ‘food’ category. YMMV.

[edited upon realizing that WP ate my food category. FYWP.]

Silly String Bleg

Anyone have any idea why a Java Swing GUI would be displaying “é” as a “Þ”? I’m guessing it’s an encoding issue of some sort… .NET is displaying them all as “é” but not Java.

Bah.

So…

I’ve been entirely unplugged for over a week… No news, no web, no cell phone, no nuthin’.

What have I missed?