December 06, 2003

Who cares?

An article in the Washington Post last Thursday noted that the turkey platter that President Bush was shown holding during his surprise Baghdad visit wasn't actually intended for eating.

In the most widely published image from his Thanksgiving day trip to Baghdad, the beaming president is wearing an Army workout jacket and surrounded by soldiers as he cradles a huge platter laden with a golden-brown turkey.

The bird is so perfect it looks as if it came from a food magazine, with bunches of grapes and other trimmings completing a Norman Rockwell image that evokes bounty and security in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.

But as a small sign of the many ways the White House maximized the impact of the 21/2-hour stop at the Baghdad airport, administration officials said yesterday that Bush picked up a decoration, not a serving plate.

The story has been linked to by lots of other sites on the web, many of them using it as further proof of Bush's deceptions.

This is a news story? Please. Maybe if you've never eaten in a cafeteria in your life it is. At the Microsoft cafeteria in Mountain View, they set out plates of food on actual real dishes, but then serve the food on disposible plates. Cunning deception? Give me a break. Almost every cafeteria I've been in in my life has something like this.

There are plenty of things to criticize Bush for. Picking on something like this cheapens all of the legitimate arguments against him.

Posted by Mike at 11:09 AM | Comments (1)

December 11, 2003

I. Hate. Ants.

Tonight I came home to find a few thousand or so ants crawling all over the kitchen.

I hate ants. l really, really do. Unfortunately, this has been the case almost every other night for the last week or so. (The thousands of ants part, that is -- the hating thousands of ants pert has been true for some time now.)

An hour later, everything is cleaned up again. The "See Rock City" cookie jar, a gift from the Taylors years ago, is in bad shape, though. It (along with, oddly enough, the water pitcher) was one of the primary targets of the ants, and it seems that ant spray does horrible things to the paint. Oops.

It is definitely time to call an exterminator.

Posted by Mike at 11:29 PM | Comments (2)

December 12, 2003


(My wife claims this story proves what a geek I am. I claim that it's proof of resourcefulness.)

As some of you know, I've been spending a lot of late nights at work lately. One of the problems with working late is that the heating system tends to turn off late at night. This is partially due to the configuration of thermostats. At Microsoft, like many office buildings, heating and air conditioning is controlled by a single thermostat for some number of offices. If that office is warm (computers left on, door shut), the heating system will decide that everything is warm enough and that it doesn't need to provide any more heat to other offices.

Last night, it was starting to get sufficiently cold that it was having a noticeable effect on my typing speed. Dustin, one of the engineers I work with, commented that he once wrote a program to keep his computer busy. Another person suggested trying to put something cold over the thermostat in the other office.

So, a few minutes later, a nice cold can of Talking Rain water (note to the reader: Talking Rain is canned fizzy water that I've never seen in my life outside of a Microsoft building. Perhaps they are actually very popular in the Seattle area.) was balanced on top of the thermostat in the office next to mine, and I had written heater.exe, a simple C# program (heater.cs) that starts up and creates one thread for each processor that does nothing but spin. The threads are set to low priority, so any real work I'm doing (e.g., compiling) takes precedence and isn't slowed down. But anytime my computer would have been idle, it runs this instead, so the CPUs are constantly at 100% processor utilization.

Fifteen minutes after that, my office was nice and warm.

(I'm sticking with resourceful.)

Posted by Mike at 11:12 PM | Comments (2)

December 14, 2003

Good Ol' Rocky Top!

We got to see the Lady Vols play Stanford today with a bunch of people from church. Stanford was leading by 14 points at one point in the second half, leading Meredith to start looking forward to what would have been Stanford's first victory over Tennessee since before we started dating, but it was not to be. Tennessee came back to force the game into overtime, then won 70-66.

Go Vols!

Posted by Mike at 04:39 PM

December 17, 2003

Trilogy Tuesday

Tuesday I spent all day at the San Francisco Metreon theater, watching all three Lord of the Rings movies back to back. For one day only, select theaters (and only one screen per theater) showed the extended version of The Fellowship of the Rings, the extended version of The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. We arrived at 9:30 AM and the line was already out the door. The first movie started at 1 PM, and the last movie started at 10. We got back home a little after 2:30 AM.

And it was great! Seeing the extended versions of the first two movies on the big screen was great. And the Return of the King was amazing. Wow. It was everything I had hoped for, and then some.

It's certainly the first time I've spent 16 hours in a movie theater. Odds aren't bad that it will be last. I've discussed with several people the question of what other movie trilogy might exist that you would spend all day in a theater to see. The only other option that anyone can come up with is the original three Star Wars movies -- and even that I would have to think about a little. (If only there hadn't been Ewoks...) Any one else have any other suggestions? No one I've talked to can come up with anything else.

Another good part of the experience was the Metreon staff. They were really friendly and helpful the entire day. They made a big difference.

Sadly, Meredith didn't wind up getting to go. Maggie and Cliff couldn't find a babysitter, so Meredith wound up babysitting for Kyna in a marathon session of her own.

Posted by Mike at 09:49 PM | Comments (1)

December 20, 2003

New server ... again

Time for yet another server move for The hosting provider we use recently switched platforms from Red Hat to Debian, necessitating a move to a new virtual server. One more time for me to set up web services, email, and mailing list software. One more time for me to remember how much I despise setting up Linux software. The greatest failing of most open source software has to be the masochistic view that good software should require umpteen different configuration files with a million arcane options, and as little documentation as possible, and that if you can't figure it out from the brief man pages or the source code itself, you don't deserve to use it.

At any rate -- I think most things are working again. Hopefully the web site at least will work.

Posted by Mike at 08:30 PM

December 21, 2003

Christmas tree

Meredith and I are running a little behind this year. So behind, in fact, that we didn't even get around to getting a Christmas tree until yesterday.

The tree, though late in arriving, is beautiful.

Unfortunately, Jake thinks so, too. Knocking ornaments off the bottom of the tree has been great fun for him. The most startling sight so far, though, was when I looked over to find Jake knocking an ornament off the top of the tree. He was able to accomplish this because he was, at the time, sitting in the very top of the tree, where he had evidently climbed.

It's like a giant play set for the cat.

Posted by Mike at 10:07 PM