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Monday, June 28, 2004


I just wanted to add that my quest to return to real health after the ravages of grad school and a desk job is going well. I lost 4 lbs. this week out of my 50 lb. goal (trying to go from 230 to 180).

I'm using a really radical weight loss plan to do it. It's called Eating Healthier & Exercising More. It entails cutting down on between meal snacks, choosing healthier foods, reducing preposterously large portions, exercising to build strength, and walking/running 3-5 miles per week. So far it seems pretty effective, but I'm afraid it may not be flashy enough or fast enough to gain general acceptance. Heck, it doesn't even have a nifty Atkins-style logo or cool slogan!

Since my actual goal is developing a healthier lifestyle rather than just losing weight, I feel confident that I'll end up far better off than I would with just a crash diet (duh). And at the risk of sounding corny, I have to admit that Arkansas' own governor and the NPR story about his new health initiative were at least somewhat inspirational.

Just a few more yard tools...

...and my journey from idealistic natural landscaper to suburban lawn jockey will be complete.

Right after Heather Marie and I got married, we lived in a duplex with a small yard. A non-powered push mower (yes, they still make them), and a non-powered edger sufficed, and all was well. Next came a weed eater, for the places the mower just couldn't go, but still, all was well.

I really liked the push mower, actually. They're super quiet, non-polluting, and offer a far superior cut is several ways. They also require you to mow at least once a week to remain effective. That was fine until we were out of town for two weeks in the middle of summer. Thus the purchase of a gas mower.

Then we moved into the house, and after a year of trying to keep up with the weeds by pulling them by hand, I finally relented last spring and put down some herbicide. Industrial strength, golf course style stuff that I got from a friend who sells it to golf courses (I kid thee not). She described it as chemo-therapy for your lawn: it really isn't good for anything, but it doesn't kill bermuda grass quite as fast, so it will hopefully bounce back faster than the rest. After the results I got from that, I'm now gleefully drop-spreading all sorts of toxins on my yard and spraying Round-Up on anything that's not supposed to be there. Forget Round-Up Ready Soybeans, gimme some Round-Up Ready Bermuda!

I know, I'm weak.

This weekend, I finally broke down and bought an electric edger. Much easier than either the manual one (which I'd never gotten to work real well, honestly) or holding the weed eater upside down.

I'm not really sure what other power tools I might need. A hedge trimmer? Seems superfluous without a hedge. A leaf blower? No leaves, but I suppose it could do for grass clippings. Maybe a nice chainsaw?

Thursday, June 24, 2004


I thought for a blissful day or so that I'd be able to exorcise the last vestiges of VB from my work responsibilities, but alas, it was not to be. It took two solid days of effort to track down the damnable bug that was driving me nuts and most of today to work out a solution. Unfortunately, though, distributing the solution to all our users turned out to be more trouble than just leaving the bug in place for the time being. Oh well....

Got to spend a very pleasant evening with Heather Marie at the park (with dog), a nice dinner, and Barnes & Noble, so at least the day wasn't a total loss.

Found a couple of good books at B&N on design patterns and DHTML and combined numerous discounts and coupons to get almost $15 off. Whoo hoo! Not real page turners for most, I'm sure, but I'm really excited about the patterns book.

Maybe I'll get ambitious and post reviews or something.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I Hate VB

I really hate VB. Once more for good measure: Really, really hate VB.

There, I feel better now. Just spent an entire day at work trying to figure out why a relatively small Visual Basic program is exhibiting seemingly random changes in behavior. My best guess now is that something non-obvious is happening in one of the two dozen acursed global variables this thing uses. Yes, I know that global variables are a symptom of poor design rather than VB itself. No, I didn't write it, I just maintain it.

I've tried to like VB (well, a couple of times, anyway), and it just doesn't click for me. I guess it's because I come from the C lineage or something. I can only assume that people going from VB to C languages have similar issues. (I've heard that VB.NET is more C-programmer-friendly, but when I'm doing .NET stuff, I see no compelling reason to choose VB over C#.) I just feel like VB gets in the way of what I'm trying to express.

Aside from spending most of the day in a VB-induced haze, though, not a bad day. Had some tasty pizza for lunch, a good walk with the wife and dog this afternoon,, that's about it, but sometimes that's enough.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Things You Miss Along the Way

It dawned on me last week that a whole lot of things have changed in computer technology without my really paying attention. Web design, for instance, has come a long, long way since I wrote my first web page in pure HTML (using VI, thank you very much), and I haven't really been along for the ride. I've been sorta like the swingin' guy who got off the fashion train in 1977 and just waved from the platform while everyone else left Leisure Suit Land for Denim City and Poloville. CSS, Javascript, ASP, etc. are all alien concepts to me, honestly, and if Paul Graham and Joel Spolsky are correct, then online applications are the wave of the future.

Regardless of their predictions, I've decided that it wouldn't be healthy to remain isolated in my desktop application world, and therefore web-based things are no longer something I can safely ignore. The primary reason is that my long-term goal is to build an interesting career, and I really don't see desktop development as a very promising path in that direction (at least not by itself). For the most part, it's a solved problem, and although it's certainly something I enjoy doing for a living right now (certainly much more than tech support!), I really can't see myself spending my entire career on it.

So, as a computer scientist, and a person who wants to do interesting things, I feel some obligation to catch up with the state of the art. Maybe not the current state of the art, but at least the state of the art circa 2001.

And I think I have a lot of catching up to do....

Sunday, June 20, 2004


The Wonders exhibit in Memphis was awesome. I highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in the area this summer. If possible, go on a weekday to avoid the crowds, and allow 2-3 hours to view everything.

Many of the pieces, while still very impressive, were just Medici family portraits. Quite a few of them, though, were fairly well known. Iconic, even. I stared at one page in an illuminated manuscript for several minutes trying to place where I'd seen it before. It was a really weird feeling realizing that it was the picture from the cover of my high school history book. Just wow.

All the Ninja Turtles were represented, of course, and Leonardo's Dama Scapigliata was especially beautiful, although surprisingly small. Heather Marie and I also traveled to Memphis to see Ancestors of the Incas (complete with creepily preserved mummy girl!) and Eternal Egypt (ironically mummy-free), and as impressive as those were, this one somehow seemed more human. I suppose maybe it's the proximity we have to the Renaissance, both culturally and temporally, or maybe just that the dawn of humanism in that period really did start to make artwork more personal and accessible. Or something. I over-analyze.

On a related note, Dan and I went on a 5th grade field trip to see the Ramesses the Great exhibit in Memphis long, long ago. All I really remember is the big, giant statue of Ramesses, running amok all across Mud Island, and the bus trip. Good times....

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Walking in Memphis

So, even though my life is barely interesting enough to hold my attention, I've been inspired by my friend Dan to keep my blog more up-to-date. Yeah. We'll see how long that works out for me....

Heading out this weekend to the city of blues and bbq to see the Masters of Florence exhibit at the Pyramid. We'll be staying with our friend Lance and goofing off for a few days. Should be a good time.