Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Goodbye Jedi

It's finally over. The long, sad, ruining of the Star Wars trilogy is, at last over. Now I can begin the healing process and try to pretend that none of it ever happened.

In fairness, there were some cool moments. There were some pretty pictures. And there certainly was no shortage of lightsaber enhanced butt whooping.

I will tell you what I hate most about these movies though: the thing that I found so appealing about the Jedi Order was that they were supposed to be diplomats. They valued peace over fighting. They wouldn't help you attack, but they would always help you defend. They were so cool and full of inner peace that Obi Wan was perfectly comfortable with letting Darth Vader chop him in Episode IV (I mean... the FIRST movie... gaaah it's happening) just so that he could turn into a ghost and advise Luke from beyond.

The Jedi don't act like that at all in ANY of the prequels. All of their attempts at diplomacy fail, which is not surprising because they don't really try very hard to settle things peacefully anyway. Everybody is anxious to pull out their lightsaber and start chopping... even Yoda. But Mace Windu is the most baffling example... he's supposed to arrest the Chancellor, but he quickly changes his mind and decides killing him is better.. and to me, that goes against everything I always thought the Jedi stood for.

In the end, I hope people like the movie and enjoy themselves, and that seems to be the case since the movie has gotten some very good press. And of course, it's very easy to make the argument that age has something to do with it.

For whatever reason, though, I did not like Star Wars III.

If you want spoilers and more extensive opinions, check out chornbe's review of the movie.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Worn Out

I am absolutely worn out. I'm not just worn out by the last week in which I've had to do a lot of traveling, nor am I just worn out by today's running around for the girlfriend's law school graduation.

No, I'm also worn out by the fact that tomorrow is going to be busy as well.. About 6 of my 8 working hours tomorrow are already scheduled for meetings.

Also, Saturday I'm saying goodbye to a pair of friends who are leaving for Florida.

I'm looking forward to seeing my friends this weekend. But I'm also looking forward to sleeping until I feel like getting up on Saturday as well. Just need to make it through one more day...

Monday, May 16, 2005

Billy Graham

When I arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina last night, I discovered to my surprise (and a bit of dismay) that there is actually a parkway here named the "Billy Graham Parkway".

Then, this morning, the top headline in the USA Today features a picture of a decrepit Billy Graham, sitting in a rocking chair.


Friday, May 13, 2005


This week coming up is looking pretty hectic. I leave around lunchtime today from Delaware to head up to New York City for work until sometime on Saturday, and then on Sunday I leave in the evening for Charlotte, North Carolina for a tech conference until Tuesday night.

I've never been a "road warrior" in any job, and I'm not sure I'd be particularly good at it. I like having roots and I like going to my real home at night. When I first got hired at this job, I had to basically spend three weeks in a hotel in NYC for the new employee orientation.. while this sounded fun in theory, it got old pretty fast.

I think the thing I missed most was my kitchen. You know you're at a place you can legitimately call "home" when you can cook yourself something you want.

At any rate, I'm borrowing a coworker's laptop for the Charlotte trip, so I won't be completely out of touch over the next few days. I think he's got World of Warcraft loaded on there too...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Congratulations are due to my friend Dan (his blog is featured in my list of "Interesting People") and his wife Carrie, who recently announced that they are expecting their first child sometime in January. Great news for them, because I know this is something they've wanted for awhile.

Another one of my friends having a kid got me thinking about my own possibilities of fatherhood someday... it would seem to me that having a child changes everything about your entire life, a million times more than just getting married does.

I've never wanted kids, and after some thought on the topic in light of Dan and Carrie's news, I still don't. I want to be able to retire early. I want to be able to go out whenever I please right now without getting a babysitter. I don't want to deal with the "I hate you" rebellion of the teenage years.. I don't think I'd be well suited for it. I don't want to deal with trying to take the kid out to a restaurant and keeping them under control while they fling spaghetti on the people at adjacent tables. Kids just tend to drive me absolutely nuts after more than a few hours.

But, of course, I say that now. Who knows what I'll think in another 14 years when I'm 40 and the panic induced by my newfound sense of mortality brought on by a raging midlife crisis kicks in... I'll probably react by having a half dozen kids.

And there is something else, an intangible that might just trump every other argument I've laid out... it has to be a pretty cool thing to come home from work and see your kid smile and say: "Daddy's home!"

So congrats to Dan and Carrie, and to all the mothers and fathers out there already doing what they can to bring the next generation up right... you're a lot braver than I am.

Friday, May 06, 2005

FredEx: No Delivery on Sunday

The Eagles lost a great receiver today when they cut Freddie Mitchell, aka "FredEx". While still not sure where they'll be able to make up his 12-20 catches a year, Andy Reid is exploring his options.

Thanks for the memories, Fred. You may not be the People's Champ anymore, but you'll always be the champion of my heart. 4th and 26 forever!

And what I mean by that is: good riddance.

Read all about it here.


"TMTOWTDI" is one of the selling points for Perl pundits everywhere. It is also, I think, the language's greatest weakness.

Very much in Perl fashion, the acronym serves to obfuscate an otherwise easily recognizable concept. That mess of letters stands for "There's More Than One Way To Do It." You'd think this would be a good thing, and when you're writing throwaway scripts it can be. Nothing beats Perl's regex syntax, and it's tough to beat it for quick text parsing jobs as well (Python lovers, put away your guns please).

A good, clear, responsible coder can also make some robust libraries with Perl.

However, there are also a ton of wacky shortcuts in Perl. You know what I'm talking about: things like "magic" variables, "implied" variables, etc. Because there are a zillion ways to do the same thing, a lot of Perl programmers like to show off how clever they are by saving themselves a couple of keystrokes here and there.

The problem with this is that you get code that is incredibly difficult to debug 6 months later. Sure, the original coder saved himself a dozen keystrokes by using as many implied variables as possible, but he often does so at the expense of several hours/days of debugging time a few months later. Wouldn't it be worth it to spend the extra 2 minutes coding clearly?

Perhaps that's why I like Java and C# and other languages that force you to be object oriented. OO languages don't let you be lazy: true, it might seem silly to have to write several lines of code just to print "Hello World" to the screen, but when the jobs get more complicated, I want the structure imposed upon me by this programming style.

I work for a company that has built the vast majority of its code base in Perl, so I use it every day and see a lot of lines of Perl code. Some libraries are very good: the programmer took the time to type those extra keystrokes and make everything as clear as possible beyond simple inline comments and documentation. But there are also a lot of BAD libraries: things where, through the simple laziness/"look how clever I am" mentality, you're forced to waste time figuring out what the heck the guy was thinking before you can use/fix his work.

Because of this, on those occassions where I get to work on the Windows side and write some C#, it is like a breath of fresh air. In the end, it makes me a better programmer because it forces organization, and that even helps when I go back into Perl because I've still got that organized mindset.


Just finished watching Ran, a samurai style treatment of Shakespeare's King Lear by Akira Kurosawa. The only other movies by Kurosawa I had seen before this one were Seven Samurai (later remade as a western which became a TV show: The Magnificent Seven) and the often copied Rashomon, both of which I enjoyed quite a bit.

So I have no idea why I waited so darn long to watch this movie, and why I haven't seen more Kurosawa movies. The battle sequences in Ran constitute some of the most beautiful and compelling film I've ever seen, and the acting is spot on. I particularly enjoyed the costumes: you can tell where films like House of Flying Daggers get their sense of color.

I discovered when I went to rate the movie at Netflix that Kurosawa had done a film long before Ran called Throne of Blood based on another of Shakespeare's works, Macbeth, which just happens to be my favorite Shakespeare play. Needless to say, I've moved the movie to the top of my queue.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Running Man

I run once, maybe twice a week just to remind my body that my legs still need blood circulated through them, but check out this story about Frank Ouseley, a friend's father who had quadruple bypass surgery and then ran the Boston Marathon.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Vote For The Worst

A lot of people seem to think that reality television is a sign of the end times for American civilization. I'm here to tell you that this notion is downright ridiculous. Not only has reality television given us such TV classics as "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance", the original "Joe Millionaire" (but not the sequel), and "Fox News", but it has also made stars out of losers like William Hung on American Idol.

And now, there is a website dedicated to ensuring that we get the "best" American Idol has to offers us. At votefortheworst.com, loyal watchers are rallying behind Scott Savol, who is apparently the least talented singer on the show.

From the website:

"TV is supposed to be about the entertainment value, and what's more entertaining than a fish out of water outlasting the big fish and sharks? The producers wanted Scott in the top group so he could fail, but let's give them the monster that they've created."

Let's hear it for the democratic process!