Friday, August 26, 2005

Daunte on Film

Due to popular demand, here are some pictures of the "Daunte Incident". Theses were taken by a coworker with a camera phone, so if they're a little blurry... too bad.

Programming library/Daunte's Raisin Bran:

And the phone:

Thursday, August 25, 2005

More Pranks

Consider this a follow up to the now infamous "Nice Bike" incident.

The last four days I've been on vacation in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Julie and I went down there mostly for Busch Gardens, which was a blast, but also enjoyed the nice scenery, shopping, and restaurants as well. We even met a nice older couple that had retired there who suggested some of the places that were popular with the William & Mary college students.

But you don't care about any of that. So let me give you:

The Setup
Folks are no doubt aware that I'm a sports fan. That includes football. I used to play fantasy football a couple of years ago, until I realized I wasn't really watching football anymore, I was watching numbers. So I stopped playing. And when I stopped playing, I realized something very important: Daunte Culpepper is a fraud.

This guy always puts up incredible numbers: yardage, touchdowns, QB rating, etc. Last year he had an amazing year by just about any standard according to those numbers.

BUT... none of those numbers account for fumbles. Daunte Culpepper consistently leads the league in fumbles by a wide margin. QB rating doesn't count fumbles. Fantasy football usually doesn't count fumbles. Fumbles are not accounted for in any yardage categories. They just disappear. If you count fumbles, Daunte Culpepper is near the top of the turnover list every year in football.

So anyway, I made this point (rather loudly) last year during football season, and as the new season approaches some of the gents at work have, of course, started to rib me about it again.

The Gag
When I returned to the office this morning, I found the following taped to my screen:

The madness didn't even come close to stopping there. I found copies of the picture in a variety of places:

1) Once the taped picture was removed from the monitor, it was revealed that it was also my new desktop wallpaper.

2) The framed picture on my desk of Julie had been replaced with a framed picture of Daunte Culpepper.

3) Every drawer in my desk had been lined with Daunte Culpepper photos.

4) Every folder in my desk had been filled with Daunte Culpepper photos.

5) The inside of every overhead cabinet above my desk was lined with photos.

6) My box of Raisin Bran was covered AND FILLED with photos.

7) My programming books had Daunte Culpepper inserts.

8) A folded picture of Daunte Culpepper was placed under my mousepad.

And finally, perhaps most brilliantly, the speed dial settings on my phone were changed to the following:

* Daunte's Home
* Daunte's Cell
* Daunte's Mom
* Daunte's Agent
* Daunte's Car Service
* Daunte's Dry Cleaner
* Daunte's Pizzeria
* Daunte just fumbled! Suicide Hotline
* Daunte's #1 Fan (My Cellphone)

I'm told by the pranksters themselves that I still haven't found all of the pictures.

So, to reiterate a point I have already made in a previous post:

"Never, ever let anyone know that something is annoying to you. Better to let it eat at your insides until you cry without anyone understanding why."

Yup, it's good to be back.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Eye Contact

The three days in New York City are over, and it is good to be back in Delaware.

Yup, you heard me right.

I actually had a pretty good time in New York. The technology office party was at Chelsea Piers on Monday night, and I've been working long enough that I actually know a few people at the New York office now. As usual, the accommodations were very swank as well during my stay.

I am consistently amazed, however, by how rarely people are willing to make eye contact with you on the streets of that city. I've noticed this before, but never really articulated it: everybody kind of exists in this tunnel vision, running from place to place and cab to cab, always either talking on a cell phone or listening to an iPod.

To me, it's not a very appealing way to live.

My friend Lisa recently posted wistfully in her blog about a friend from Colorado visiting her in Jersey, and how his tales of wide mountain ranges made the Jersey strip malls seem pretty lame in comparison. But despite this, she still loves New Jersey.

(Note to Lisa: The way it smells, Jersey doesn't need to be compared to Colorado to appear lame ;-P)

Similarly, people in New York are always surprised when they find out I like it a lot better in Wilmington. For me, it represents the happy medium. There are still plenty of things to do that are typically associated with "city" life (bars, nightclubs, playhouses, etc.), but it is small enough to start recognizing people after awhile... people will look you in the eye in this town, and not everybody has something glued to their ear to distract them from what is happening right in front of them.

Don't get me wrong, Delaware ain't paradise. But there is something to be said for a place where you don't have to drive too far to see trees... or skyscrapers.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Five Books

I mentioned in my last post (published about 10 seconds ago) that I read 5 books during the course of my vacation. They are:

1) The Darkness That Comes Before - I picked up this book about a month ago based on a pretty nifty looking cover and a number of reviews that hailed the author, R. Scott Bakker, as the next George R. R. Martin. This is apparently the first book in the Prince of Nothing series, and after reading the first book I will definitely pick up the second. I know at least a few people don't like to start unfinished series: if you're one of those people, don't buy this. But this is the first fantasy novel I've read in awhile that for once doesn't feel like a new spin on Medieval Europe... if anything, it feels Middle Eastern. Also, the comparison to Martin (author of the Song of Ice and Fire series, the best fantasy since Tolkien for my money) works here in the sense that Bakker knows how to draw a truly visceral response from the reader. Excellent stuff.

2) Perdido Street Station - The second book by China Mieville, a relatively new face in the sci-fi genre, and the first book I've ever read by him. A coworker (Jason) lent me this book, saying it just couldn't keep his interest. The prose is thick and murky like New Crozubon itself, the fictional city in which this novel occurs. There are a lot of really terrific and original ideas packed into this book (a love story between a human and a bug woman, a machine called the crisis engine, ex-cons called "Remade" who have genetic alterations forced upon them by sadistic judges, etc.), but in the last 150 pages the whole thing sort of falls apart... one gets the sense Mieville wasn't quite sure how he wanted to finish it. The ending is ultimately unsatisfying, due in large part to the introduction of a wandering deus ex machina character called the "Weaver", that seems to be able to just do whatever it feels like doing, ignoring all of the carefully crafted reality we've spent most of the novel piecing together. I'll definitely read Mieville again though, because some of the ideas are too good to ignore, but I don't know that I'd heartily recommend this particular book.

3) The Mythical Man Month - A series of essays on the pitfalls of software engineering from the venerable Frederick Brooks, a lot of this book is still relevant even though it was published close to a quarter century ago. It goes to show that even though the technology has changed, humans really haven't as much as one might think.

4) Prometheus Rising - Robert Anton Wilson definitely isn't for everyone, but after reading and very much enjoying his Quantum Psychology a good while back, I wanted to read a little more. Wilson is the rare philosopher who is also a very engaging (and funny) writer, and I recommend this to anyone smart enough to recognize they haven't gotten the world completely figured out.

5) The Devil Wears Pinstripes - A light and easy series of essays by's Jim Caple about the New York Yankees and why they suck. Hilarious.

Home Again

I'm officially back from what was an incredibly relaxing four day cruise through the Bahamas. I normally am not a real big fan of beach/hot weather types of vacations, but the cruise was a lot of fun because there were so many options. Judging from the size of some of the people on the boat, a good many of them chose to do nothing but eat for 4 days... certainly a viable option, because the food was terrific.

The boat made stops in Freeport and Nassau, and we got off the boat both times to get a look around. We also went snorkeling on a very, very small island (called Pearl Island). That was one of the highlights for the trip for me, since after snorkeling they left you to your own devices for awhile and I lost about a half hour to a very quiet and soothing meditation session.

I also finished 5 books during the course of the vacation. Those reviews will be another post.

The best part of the cruise though was just the chance to see the family. My brother Mike was sorely missed (he just started his new teaching job), but I guess 5 out of 6 immediate family members ain't bad considering we all live pretty far apart now.

Anyway, now it's Saturday morning and it's 80 degrees in my apartment and I left the lights on in my car last night, and I have to run into work to pick up some things for my three day NYC trip starting on Monday. But the sheen of the vacation hasn't worn off yet, so it's all good.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Today I leave for a week's vacation with the family. We're getting on a cruise ship.. should be fun.

I've been working here over a year now, and I still can't get used to the idea of getting paid vacation. There was a time when taking vacation was like a double hit on your pocketbook: not only did it cost money, but you were losing days where you could be MAKING money as well.

Needless to say, I like this option a lot better.

At the same time, I find myself a little reluctant to leave. I really like work, and there are so many things going on I feel like I can't quite get enough done before I take the time off. I am reminded constantly by coworkers that the work will still be here when I get back... but I've been getting pre-vacation stress thinking "I gotta get this ONE MORE thing done."

It's a great problem to have.

So I'll be back in a week. Until then, here's hoping the Phillies put together a winning streak in my absence.