A short story:

I stopped the car and opened the trunk. A small man peered out and said, "Hi! My name's Booga." I shut the trunk and got back in the car. I blinked my eyes a few times and then peeled out onto the road. I stopped at Dunkin' Donuts as usual, and went inside. There sat Booga on a stool eating a maple pershings with nuts. I took a seat at a booth and looked at the menu.

"Can I take your order?" someone said to my left. There stood Booga in a black skirt. I then left realizing how late I was. Traffic was somewhat congested with cars this morning. My radio blurted out sounds of Booga as I scanned local cars for any attractive young ladies. I turned to my left and met face to face with Booga in a police uniform.

Booga said, "Can you please step out of the car." Sometimes it's handy to be able to ram cars and people without a second thought. Halfway through the intersection several Boogas strapped with dynamite were blocking lanes, so I had to add a few dents to my fender.

I made it to work at about 4:30 after a few run ins with Booga forces carrying riot shotguns. As I sat bleeding at my desk, Booga peered into my cubicle and shouted, "You're fired." Suddenly I felt better about my day...or maybe that was the loss of blood


    Whereas today I spent fifteen minutes on a program change that caused it to run in less than a second, in cases where before it could take up to seven or eight minutes; and

    Whereas I gave the CEO a new program that just about made him wet his pants with excitement; and

    Whereas Edward began working with me on internal projects; and

    Whereas I demonstrated the truth of the invisible ball theory during an after-work pool session (where the CEO allowed my partner to place a ball where the invisible ball would be, and remove it after I struck the cue ball, mostly because he didn't know what the heck was going on);

    Now, therefore, I shall admit to you all that I lost a chess game to Edward, ending my streak of 62 wins. Oh, the agony of defeat!

C-Dawg's Office Chessboard Cam
Current streak: 1 loss

Well it's been another fairly uninteresting day at work for everyone else, but I guess I learned a lot. The bloke I share an office with is a real education. He greeted me this morning as I came in with some fact about the computing power required to get to the moon compared to the computing power required to run windows, then he spent the rest of the morning posting to usenet. I can't do that yet, we've got a fairly tight firewall, but he's worked something out to get around it.

I don't have time anyway. I still don't know much about the systems I'm supposed to be using, they apparently have a bigger budget to spend on people sitting around half confused than they do for training.

Jeff, the bloke I sit next to, says that he's not done any work at all for 7 months and he's making a concerted effort to go for a complete year.

The tube has started depressing me in the mornings. I start to imagine zoning around each of the people like the personal shields from Dune, or on Simcity 2000. That man is clearly industrial and the woman over there looks like a residential area to me. Keep them separate, but not far from a road.

I haven't played Sim City for ages, since Jeff got me into Quake III Arena it's been mainly that, but only having a modem means I can't play as much as I'd like. I'm looking forward to getting this new bot to play against at home, should arrive in the post soon. Of course, Jeff plays at work in the afternoons...

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One of the major disadvantages of working the graveyard shift is that there's never anyone around to go have a drink with afterwards. Everybody I know has a regular, sunlight-filled workday and is just getting ready for work when I'm heading home from work.

Because of this, and because of tonight's writeup (which is fiction, but made me cry, nonetheless), I'm going home and getting drunk alone. (Although if any of you local noders would like to join me, you're all more than welcome. If you're awake.)

If I'm successful in drinking enough Smirnoff Ice to put me to sleep, then I'll do just that; go to sleep. If not, I'll do what I should've done yesterday, which is to call the Louisiana Clinic and schedule a CAT scan.

I'm curiously afraid of the CAT scan, but since there's a newfound cyst on the back of my head I guess it's probably best that I get one, just in case I have brain cancer or something. After that, if I'm still feeling in a talkative sort of mood, I'll call my mother up in Nashville, and give her yet another tear in the stomach ulcer. I would hate to be my parents. Every few months I come up with something completely by accident that worries the hell out of them. I guess, then, it's a good thing I've already chemically castrated myself, lest I have children of my own someday.

A good friend of mine and somewhat of an old flame all rolled into one, Annalisa, is coming to New Orleans next week for a visit. We're going to see the Cranes on Wednesday and will be spending the remainder of next week doing whatever fun things catch our collective fancy. It just so happens that I'm on vacation from work next week, so if anybody fancies dinner at a restaurant next week (except Wednesday), let me know.

The sun is shining, the weather is good. I am happier.

I am heading to being employed - barring problems with the company's contract, I will start just after the beggining of June. The company is interesting. They do train modelling.

I got on well with the interviewer, and we have been reading a lot of the same software engineering books lately. I am impressed with their practices, and they deliver software, as well as doing some technically cool stuff (e.g. 'simulated annealing' to produce a near-optimal train timetable, which is a problem a lot like the travelling salesman problem).

They have a cool GIS thing - you can start with a map of the UK, and zoom down and down to show every points on the tracks at any given station. A trainspotter's wet dream.

In the mean time I am phoning my other leads, seeing if I can use my new bargaining power to trade up to something better paid. However the pay here is adequite.

Yesterday I visited IKEA to get a catalogue, to pore over and decide what to buy when I have money. My small room can accommodate 1 additional item of furniture – will it be a chest of drawers for my clothes, currently still in cardboard boxes, or will it be a computer desk for a home PC?

The sensible thing is tomorrow, much anticipated. Hope the weather holds!

My cat has this well-trained habit – she waits for my alarm before saying good morning. Nice cat. So this morning’s alarm went off as usual, and as usual my cat jumped up next to my pillow and followed through with a soprano mrrrreeo. Then she rubbed her soft, whiskered cheeks against my face and did a swift pivot, as cats are apt to do, and suddenly I was face to face with a giant chunk of cling-on cat shit.

Now, if you can forget the banality of it all (I can’t, but maybe you can), the humor (ok, I’m laughing now), and the sheer annoyance at seeing and smelling feces as your first breath of the day, you’ll realize something –

If your day begins with shit, it can only get better.

This is called optimism.

A devoted Star Wars fan’s six-word review of Attack of the Clones:
Didn’t vomit like after Episode One.

A devoted Star Wars fan's six-word musing on the films thus far:
Lucas: ingenious writer to total shmuck.

My beautiful and beloved wife's notes on the love dialogue:
"...with all that 'it hurts to be away from you' stuff, it sounded like the cheesy pickup lines you hear in bars, like he (Anakin) was trying REAL hard to get laid. Either that or it was just some gawd-awful melodrama. I can definitely see why one reviewer said 'the dialogue won’t win any writing awards.'"

Just_Tom, if Attack of the Clones is a 9/10, then what's a movie like The Godfather or even the original Star Wars? 15/10? I'm not trying to start a debate here, because nodes aren't for debating (that's what the little thing called a chatterbox is for), but Attack of the Clones is glaringly average, even WITH all the hyper-expensive special effects (something that should help support a movie, not act as it's bloody foundation).
/end rant

(Episode 2)++, indeed...

We caught pretty much the last of yesterdays 'preview' showings of Episode II yesterday (hmm... showing from 8am to 12 midnight back-to-back on 5 screens - I feel so priveliged), and I'm not ashamed to say I thought it was fantastic. I heartily recommend you go see it, so long as you liked the original trilogy. If you've seen Phantom Menace too it'll help, but I don't think it's essential. Anyway, yet-another-Episode-II-review of sorts, covering stuff I think other reviews have neglected...

Firstly, the graphics. If, "All 'Jedi had was a bunch of muppets", then "all 'Clones has is a bunch of the best computer graphics ever". Characters, animals, sets, buildings, landscapes, spaceships, planets, explosions... all brilliant. Granted, even the sublime work on Yoda is still lacking that certain something, but it's as near-as-dammit convincing as anyone has ever pulled off on the big screen. Shrek and Monsters Inc. are cool, but still just cartoons. Final Fantasy nearly had it made, but 'Clones is the real deal, everthing else just pales in comparison.

The camera work is classic Star Wars (the cheesy scene transition wipes are still there, and I loved them) and Lucas rarely drifts away from the external wide-angle scene-setter followed by cut to internal formula we know and love. Most of the effects shots are tracking and panning and I only noticed one deviation from this - in one of the battle scenes the camera zooms in on a ship, which is totally unexpected. It worked but it felt out of place in the context of the rest of the shots, which were conservative, but concentrated on capturing all the detail. Oh yeah, the detail - the city lives. Like Blade Runner and Fifth Element before it, 'Clones gives us a genuinely believable futuristic city-scape.

I really ought to mention the sound, since nobody else has in the reviews I've read. You simply must see this film in a modern cinema with loud speakers and proper bass. John Williams' soundtrack is as good as ever, with the classic components there when they're needed, and new passages thrown in for the love scenes and city chase sections. The sound effects of the ship in the opening scenes are sublime, but I suppose we should expect nothing less from the man who brought us the THX standard. We all know that, "In space, no-one can hear you scream", but look out for the 'seismic charges' in the asteroid scene, you can certainly hear those.

Am I going to mention the plot? Well no, I won't even risk spoiling it for you, but I will tell you a bit more about the rest of the film. Suffice to say that - Yoda is so good it takes the piss; there are enough light-sabres to chop a ship into tiny pieces; Hayden Christensen is all right, but a little hammy and not likeable enough so that we feel sorry for what we all know befalls him; Natalie Portman is sassy and stunning; Samuel L. Jackson is the bad-ass we all know and love; C3P0 and R2D2 make a welcome return as the comic relief, but will bemuse those who don't know the original trilogy; there are enough references to events past and present to keep train-spotters happy; some of the scenes have been lifted straight from late 1980s platform games; and the whole thing is satifyingly dark and brooding.

I was always under the impression that George Lucas knew exactly how the prequels would pan out years before he started filming, but now I'm not so sure. Episode II has too many components reminiscent of Ridley Scott's Gladiator and Steven Spielberg's A.I. for it to be a coincidence. This is no bad thing, however, it holds it's own on both the epic scale and the sci-fi scale. At any rate I enjoyed it far more than A.I. (which is a whole other rant, don't get me started...) so it's safe from being tarred with that brush.

Overall? 9/10 I reckon, and it only lost one because the love scenes are way too cheesy for their own good, and the planet Naboo is a little bit too Sound of Music. Oh, and if you don't like Star Wars, don't bother - go see Dog Soldiers or About a Boy instead.

PS I actually liked Jar-Jar in The Phantom Menace, apart from the riduculous scipting, so I didn't feel the need to mention him here. Shh! Don't tell anyone...

In response to DoubleD, I genuinely think that Attack of the Clones is up there with the original Star Wars, I really do. Without the rose-tinted spectacles of youth, I think this one will look better than Return of the Jedi and definitely worthy of the Star Wars name. As for comparisons with The Godfather, then granted it's not in the same league, not even close. To name some of my favourite films, it's no Citizen Kane, Shawshank Redemption, Blade Runner, Usual Suspects or Leon either, but it's a cracking action flick all the same. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm not going to qualify my rating with an essay on objective criticism, but perhaps I should clarify - 9/10 for a child-friendly sci-fi/fantasy action film. The special effects are the best I've ever seen, and as a CGI fan the attention to detail that has gone into the city justified the ticket price in itself. Effects have always been a major draw of the Star Wars saga, and arguably they can be the foundation of a film, especially in Star Wars' modern day competition such as The Matrix.

'Cool' is such a misfit. 'Cool' is such a misplaced word. I wish there was a better way ...

I wish I could show that it touched me to read this, I wish I could show you how I felt your anger, your pain, your sorrow, your mellow. How I felt reading your words. How it makes me want to cry like *I* have lost someone.

I want to say 'I'm sorry' sometimes, I want to tell you how I feel torn inside reading this. 'Cool' doesn't say it, 'Cool' just doesn't say what I want to. It's just not the right word.

If I were sitting by you listening to your story, between sobs and silences and failed attempts at stopping tears, if I were there with you right now, would I say 'Wow!', would I say 'Cool!'? I'll just put my hand on yours, offer you a hug maybe. 'Cool' doesn't say what I feel sometimes, it fills me with shame when I have to 'Cool' your story to say that it touched me.

I can send you a message, I know, I can send you my words ... if only I could think of some. If only I knew how to express in words what you made me feel.

'Cool' can not hold hands...

Still no reply from our friendly neighborhood monopoly's tech head. I'm now thinking he flamed me and then filtered my address. That's good enough for me. I talked to a couple of people about the situation and found out that mine wasn't the only incident like this. Apparently this guy has a tendency to do things in a very half assed way, have them screw up, and then blame other people for it. After hearing that, I kind of wished I hadn't backed off. Oh well, I guess it's for the better.

I'm just taking a break from the project now. It's really crazy. I haven't been coding for very long at all, but I'm the only one in our office that has the experience to work on this. I don't know if that's gratifying of frightening. I'd really like some help as I've never worked on something this complex, but no one else could answer my questions at work. I had to go to a friend of mine at another company to check if one of the things I was trying to do was possible, and, being possible, if it was the best way to do things. He's had a lot of experience with things like this, and he told me that it was a pretty good idea. That made me happy, I figured he was going to ask me if I was on drugs. As fun as PHP is to work in, it's very screwed up sometimes.

I'm glad that the weekend is ahead. It means I'll get to work uninterrupted. That means I get to relax. I kept getting stopped today by my manager asking about the DNS stuff and about this site she wanted moved to our new servers. I told her to talk to the server guy, so she mails him. 20 minutes later I get a mail from the server guy:

"Can you translate this into English for me please :-D"
Her email consisted of:

I need this set up the web site now is *temporary web address* and I will get *co-worker's name* to forward to you
It was followed by some very inaccurate information that had very little to do with anything. I had to ask her what she wanted us do about three times before what she said had any bearing on real life. Sometimes I really wonder...
Wow, thefez can really create some nodeshells!

The difference between a niche and a rut is hard to see from low altitudes. Since I can’t see the forest for the trees this really resonates for me.

I’m accused of having only one topic in life yet it is my passion. It is my niche but is it my rut? I probably know more about this topic that 99% of humans and I’m still learning but I do tend to drone on and on. Still “they” pay me for this so how much of a rut can it be? But I continue at home, at the mall, to strangers and loved ones alike. Where does passion end and obsession begin?

Well, as long as I can still kayak and hike, garden and bird watch I guess there will still be venues where even I can escape myself.

And so what if I eat oatmeal every day. If I miss it at breakfast, I’ll have it for dinner.

I am a selfish thought,
an infantile desire,
a momentary vision,
a fiery admission,
a triumphant incision.

I am as constant as the north star.

To speak my name is an admission of weakness.

I am the fountain from which all literature,
all song,
all poetry,
From which all conflict,
all hate,
and all sorrow flows.

I am the source of all light and praise.

I am the void that consumes all hope.

I am a vision of truth,
the queen of falsehoods,
the prince of shame and sorrow.

I am the final wish,
The ending,
The beginning.

I am the ultimate evil and the reason for all hate.

I am the daughter of Entropy
and the son of Our Child Unborn.

I am the firstly placed stone,
the lastly placed cross,
the first shoots of May
and the dimly lit way;

I am a selfish thought.

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