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: Test.

: I'm back in the saddle, though I'm technically cheating since the index file you see here is a PHP file and not an .shtml file.

Tonight I attend a dinner party. Whee!

: Now that I'm looking at PHP again, for the first time in years, I'm surprised that you can actually separate logic and presentation if you really want to. I remember this being a cardinal failure of the Segfault code, and I remember blaming PHP itself for it. More likely I just lacked the discipline, and PHP doesn't enforce it.

: Only 4 more Tonight's Episodes left in the once-huge pile. After they're all used, I'll probably put up an archive page or something.

: Starting at 3:30 I will be undergoing an unknown but non-zero amount of dental pain. It's the first of many such excursions to come. Wish me luck.

: I'm back from my root canal. There was hardly any pain at all, though I did feel some trepidation watching clouds of tooth dust emerge from my mouth. I feel fine, and I have painkillers to take when the Novocaine wears off.

While undergoing the dentistry I thought of an anecdote told me by Prof. Hsu, with whom I had two philosophy classes at UCLA. The subject was sense-impressions and incorrigibility, and Hsu talked about how once, while under the drill, he had complained of pain. His dentist had denied that he [Hsu] could possibly be in any pain; his brain (said the dentist) was just translating the vibrations of the drill into pain.

Oh: my tooth had roots of 27 millimeters in length, which is apparently so long that the normal dentistry equipment can't handle it. I feel strangely proud about this; I've always known that my teeth were mutants (I had three upper right front teeth), and this is another example.

: Publisher's Clearinghouse meets the post-9/11 cliche:


: Thanks to David Ford, Crummy's config is back to normal and I've gotten rid of all the hacks I put in last weekend. Whee!

: Excellent. Tomorrow the final Tonight's Episode will run, and it's exactly the one I was hoping it would be; one of my all-time favorites.

: I'm surprised that this Onion story didn't have a section about how the guy and his buddies pass around URLs for Onion stories.

: Are there any science fiction stories which deal with the effects of relativistic time dilation on, eg., contract law? I'm thinking of writing one.

: Went to The Mall today to get a blender gasket to replace the gasket I broke earlier this week. While I was there I redeemed some Suncoast play money for a copy of Jackie Chan's Legend of Drunken Master.

I joined Suncoast's laughably-named 'Replay Club' about a year ago when I bought a bunch of MST3K videotapes from them. I was spending enough in that one transaction that it was a net gain for me to pay my way into their club and take advantage of the discount you got from club membership. Every so often thereafter I recieved a lavishly produced magazine/promotional rag from them which I would promptly throw away. You hear about targeted marketing, and then you actually give a company a chance to learn all sorts of detailed information about your viewing preferences, and instead of the MST3K Martial Arts Godzilla Stomp Newsletter you get damn Saving Private Ryan in the mail every month.

The discount you get from club membership comes out to 5%, but it's not 5% at the register. Instead, you accumulate points. One point is worth one cent, and every time you accumulate 10,000 points (having spent $100) you recieve $5 in funny money in the mail. It's the same racket as gift certificates; they're banking that you won't redeem the funny money and that if you do, you'll buy other stuff on top of the value of the funny money.

This knowledge bore heavily upon me. If I didn't redeem my $15 in funny money for a video costing $15, Suncoast would effectively have $15 of my money. What's more, the terrorists would have won. Powerful as these incentives were, I had to steel myself to set foot in Suncoast, because shopping there (or at Sam Goody or any other store owned by the same company) is a huge pain. The cashiers are under directions to, before ringing up your purchase, subject you to a seemingly never-ending sales pitch. It's like willingly walking into a telemarketing call. Now that my Replay account has expired, two more steps have been added to the sales pitch, so it's a good thing I no longer have any reason to go there.

At great personal risk, I have reverse-engineered the sales pitch and present it below. This does not include all the "Are you sure? [Y/N]" steps.

The weird thing is, the guy in line in front of me actually responded positively to some aspects of the pitch! I guess I shouldn't be surprised, because Suncoast would discontinue the pitch if it didn't occasionally bear fruit, but it was odd to see someone who actually wanted to see the list of new and upcoming releases.

Though my membership is expired, Suncoast is still sending me the Saving Private Ryan Monthly advertising supplements. Said supplements now have cover covers begging me to renew my membership and continue the cycle of dependency. I'm sort of interested as to how long they can keep this up. The marginal cost of sending out one more supplement is nil, but it's not inconceivable that at some point pure shame will get them to give up rather than try to coax a renewal of a membership that lapsed 10 years ago.

: In a dream last night I thought of a funny joke: a musical piece called "Sonata for Shut Piano". You just drum your fingers in a rhythm on the folding piano cover.

: Hey, check out the boffo new feature! Kris and I have started a new joint weblog called Counterpoint/Countercounterpoint, in which we talk about politics. Come if only for the great logo Kris drew.

I feel as though I should explain here that Kris and I have been friends since college; we didn't meet randomly over the net and decide to do a site together. Don't believe me? See for yourself.

: [NB. Argh!]

: Here's an InfoWorld article which basically copies our recent press release. My favorite parts are the paragraphs which describe software I wrote:

With the new version, administrators now have finer control over granting specific permissions to users and developers, along with the ability to create customized roles to address other individual developers on a joint project.

Those in charge of a project can expose developers to specific levels of functionality within a given project, which company officials believe contribute to the environment's overall ease of use, company officials said.

Earlier there's a funny paragraph that ends not "company officials said" but "officials said", making it look like the FBI is involved. If we don't decrease time to market, the terrorists will have won!

: Oops, I entered that item about Infoworld twice.

: We were recently defragmented; layoffs left big swaths of empty desks in our office, so it was decided to move everyone into one side of the building. All the engineers are sort of in one place now, which is nice, and I have a cube right by the window, which is also nice. I don't have a whole lot to say about this because my workplace is not radically different. I have less desk space in absolute terms (since before there was a big swatch of neutral zone between myself and Kevin) but it feels like more (since it's all now indisputably mine). I could go on and on about easy access to the window for brooding purposes, but it would bore you.

: Today on Counterpoint/Countercounterpoint:

That was the first thing I thought when I saw Ashcroft and Ridge, that they look like two halves of the cigarette-smoking man.

: I have impacted bottom wisdom teeth. They need to be removed. I think the scope of the problem is fairly well-defined--I understand it without any special knowledge of dentistry. I have a full set of head X-rays and mouth photographs which I will allow relevant professionals to peruse at leisure. Today I called the specialist who will be extracting my wisdom teeth. I had to make an appointment to have my mouth looked at (in about 3 weeks) before I can get an appointment to have my teeth taken out. Not that I want to deny the specialist a good look at my actual mouth, but is it to much to expect that the oral examination might be a mere preliminary to the actual operation and not something that requires a separate trip and a separate appointment? I don't behave like this in my work and if I was in serious medical trouble my doctor wouldn't either. Is it just beuracracy? Is the first appointment a triage appointment? I don't understand.

: Yesterday, with Sumana, I watched The Great Muppet Caper and the first part of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai ("Something Happens", mocked by Sumana and her sister as "Something Something Happens"). We noticed various characteristic Muppet behaviors such as the Muppet Panic and the Muppet Walk (and the one I just realized, the Muppet Moment of Inner Turmoil That's Actually a Hand Rearrangement). Kuch Kuch was also a lot of fun. The first half of that movie is a two-hour flashback, a two-hour flashback, so it's like they made a movie and then its sequel!

: For some reason I've been posting a lot of duplicate entries recently. I don't know if it's me error (the self-diagnosis of user error) or a bug in NewsBruiser which is treating edits as adds. I suspect the former.


Oh, and don't try to send these [constructor and destructor] messages to the class Class; creating and destroying classes is called "programming", and it's far too late when the game is already being played.

--Inform Designers Manual, Volume 4

This is funny, but it also makes me want to demand that this functionality work just so I can try some sort of weird metaprogramming thing in a work of IF.

I just realized that one of the reasons I like IF is that it lets me make jokes in the form of software.

: Wow, that I did not expect. I went to the dentist expecting some planing and fillings, as well as a crown for my root canaled tooth, and I ended up getting four teeth extracted instead. It took about 20 minutes. That was a couple hours ago, and I think the pain is starting, but I have medicine for that.

: "Question .Xauthority." -- Jason Robbins

: Dmitry is now free! This marks the first time the rallying cry "Free X!" has ever been even marginally successful in freeing X!

: I got spam that said "Unbeatable holiday specials!". I thought it said "Unbearable holiday specials!"

: Sumana and I made chocolate chip cookies yesterday, but we used the wrong kind of flour and the cookies, though they look very tasty, do not taste very tasty. I'm hoping people at work disagree and eat them up so that I don't have to throw them away.

: Joe Barr rips into the MPlayer project, which is a great piece of software but apparently has a personality problem. Joe, himself no stranger to personality, lays down the smack like so:

[MPlayer lead developer Arpad] Gereoffy and the other developers have more attitude than the law allows. At least the law in this county, and I'm the sheriff.

: Last night I asked Kris what species the Checkerboard Nightmare is. Is he human? Some extropian almost-human species? His reply:

The distinction is very slight. Chex is a cartoon character, and somehow, even though he looks much the same, Lyle is a normal person. The major defining factor is Chex's absence of a (visible) nose. The distinction is better drawn through their behavior/knowledge, where Chex has a much more intuitive grasp that this is a comic strip, whereas Lyle generally doesn't concern himself with it and rather operates within its confines.

: Not to brag, but last night I won at Illuminati again--playing as the Church of the SubGenius, no less! I am the Illuminati champion of CollabNet! AH HA HA HA HA!

: There are certain song lyrics which are so vague that they contain no information other than a genre identification; you can use them when you can't remember the real lyrics of a song in the lyric's genre. "Baby, I'll be holding on" is one of them. Recently I discovered that "Jordan keep on rolling" is another.

This isn't really going anywhere; I just wanted to point that out.

: Tonight I attend the celebration in honor of the freeing of Dmitry. After all, if Dmitry is free, why not me?

: Back from the Dmitry party. I had a great time. There was birthday cake (thanks to Dmitry's birthday the day before)! There was Dmitry! There was Seth! Seth and I discussed slogans (the current best unused one: Don Marti's "Keep your Management off my Digital Rights"). A currently in-use one is "Reading is a right, not a feature", which I mantain should be "Reading is a feature, not a bug". Also we spoke of programming, law, interactive fiction, and the like.

: Here's a Wired article on the party, which quotes Seth. At one point there were three reporters and a camera crew from TechTV, all talking (listening, I guess) to Seth.

: I'm back from seeing LOTR. It was great! Saruman's scenes were actually interesting! The Gondor stuff was very nearly interesting! The elves were limpid as always, but you know elves. The Moria sequence was fabulous. The CGI monsters of type Large and above moved in the lumbering slithering manner typical of such monsters; in twenty years that lumber will look as bad as stop-motion does today.

: I didn't mention (but I will now) that I saw FOTR with about 30 of my co-workers, on CollabNet's dime. I hope that's how I see the rest of the trilogy.

It must be post-something, because it sucks: I'm in Bakersfield and having fun. Yesterday I went down to LA and saw the old gang (the old gang may contain any or all of Adam, Kris, Kurtis, Kim, and Melissa (not technically a member of the old gang since I'd never met her before)) again. Hail, hail, the gang was all there. Sumana came with and we had a great time. Tomorrow is Christmas and I look forward to the usual madness.

Among our many holiday traditions is the tradition of Susanna and Rachel of claiming that we have a tradition of allowing Susanna and Rachel to open one of their presents on Christmas Eve. My mother always says no. It's traditions like these which make the holidays special. How could it be otherwise?

: Reprinted from the backup site:

Monday, December 24, 2001

It must be post-something, because it sucks 12/24/01; 10:22:19 PM

I'm in Bakersfield and having fun. Yesterday I went down to LA and saw the old gang (the old gang may contain any or all of Adam, Kris, Kurtis, Kim, and Melissa (not technically a member of the old gang since I'd never met her before)) again. Hail, hail, the gang was all there. Sumana came with and we had a great time. Tomorrow is Christmas and I look forward to the usual madness.

Among our many holiday traditions is the tradition of Susanna and Rachel of claiming that we have a tradition of allowing Susanna and Rachel to open one of their presents on Christmas Eve. My mother always says no. It's traditions like these which make the holidays special. How could it be otherwise?

: So, I'm back. Susanna is staying with me and I'm taking her to the airport tomorrow whereupon she goes off to Romania. Today I'm taking her shopping; hopefully only to the grocery store, as I don't feel like driving much more today.

I got lots of great presents, which I will elucidate when I am less tired and less sick. Also, great pictures in a bit.

: As promised, here are pictures, and they are great.

: The greatest author of our age, Adam Kaplan, has graced us with a brutal parody of Clifford Pickover, Constanze the Philosopher.

: Okay, I'm off to drive Susanna to the airport. Too much waking up early and driving recently. Bon voyage, Susanna!

: Kris has funny altered versions of some of my Christmas pictures.

: I'm back. I just saw that Susanna left her Romanian-English dictionary here. I hope that was intentional (she left some other stuff as well because it wouldn't fit in her allotted suitcases); I fear it was not.

: Happy New Year's Eve!

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