Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific! is one of those things from the 70's that rings some vague bells; I can't tell if I actually have any memories of seeing the ads or bottles on the shelf, or if it's the general gestalt of ugly design and bad hair that triggers the impression of memory.
August has been quite a month - my employer has moved into a new office, and the month has been spent trying to stay out of the way of the workers finishing up construction. At the same time, the light at the end of the PHP tunnel seems to be getting brighter as we try to close the doors on those projects in favor of a J2EE-based solution.
I also took a trip with my family to Pine Point, Maine- the spot we always visited for at least a few days each summer when I was growing up. It was the first time I've been there in 10 years, and it was sad and sobering to realize that I had been away from one of my favorite places on earth for fully one third of my life.
Last week saw me in New York City again, for just a couple of days this time. As it turned out, my sister had some workshops that she was attending in the city at the same time, so she wound up crashing in my hotel room. I have the feeling that I wouldn't have written during the trip even if she hadn't been there; the urge just wasn't there. I think it's probably due to the fact that New York is becoming familiar, which seems like a strange thing to say after only three visits - but each time I've been, it's easier to slip into the rythm. Having a considerably more claustrophic room this time around, I decided to spend my time exploring Central Park instead of tapping at a keyboard.
On the train back from New York I began delving into Inform, which is one of the items that's been on my "meaning to do" list for over a year now. This time I have armed myself with a print copy of the DM4, and what little I learned last year came back to me quickly... the basics of the language are not hard to learn- if only Inform had been around when I tried to write my own text adventure in BASIC on my Commodore 64!
I'm still not sure how to proceed - the process of modeling your own interactive worlds is absolutely fascinating and compelling to me, but it's also daunting. Part of it is the creative writing aspect - I need to resurrect the part of me that used to thoroughly enjoy writing fiction before my 10th grade "Creative Writing" teacher systematically destroyed any enthusiasm I might have had for the process. The other part of it is that, unlike other personal programming projects, an Inform project will require actual completion before I can share it with anyone; it's not like a lot of the PHP hacking I've done over the last few years. I can't twiddle with something until I get tired of it, then leave it running as-is and move on to something else. If I'm serious about writing interactive fiction, I have to do some real planning, and see the story through from beginning to end.
Not to mention the fact that I also need to get intimately acquainted with Java and JSP/Servlet/Bean programming.
I spent much of yesterday fluttering between Java and Inform, reading, tinkering, and generally not doing much of anything useful, and feeling generally frustrated... trying to do too much at once, and not having enough knowledge in either area for it to be purely recreational.
On the plus side, after three humid, asthmatic days in Manhattan, I was thrilled to step out of my front door yesterday afternoon and see a crisp, deep blue sky of the sort that is reserved solely for Autumn in New England. It's getting to be the best time of the year.
A great big spoonful of honey has worked for me without fail for as long as I can remember - that is the cure I grew up with.
I discovered tonight that maple syrup (pure maple syrup) works in a pinch if you're out of honey.
Is it pure placebo effect, or does the act of swallowing a viscous fluid actually do something to calm the diaphragm down?
"A Smoker Can Quit... but a sanctimonious git will probably remain so."[*]
A complete non-sequitur - the above was merely one of the first Google matches for the phrase "sanctimonious git", which was what came to mind when I read a certain digerati's latest blog entry (Yes, via aggregator), which concludes
"But really, you should ask yourself if you need to keep up with 100 or 200 or 1400 different ?sources? of ?content? on an hourly basis. Shouldn?t you be spending more time with your family or something? Or, if you don?t have a family, shouldn?t you be spending time building one?"
Coming from somebody with more than 200 matches for the word "aggregator" on their site, that's just annoying.
I appreciate that having a new infant around will cause one's priorities to shift, but there's no need to get all high and mighty about it. My goodness, this has been a snarky post - such is usually not my nature (not on per-person basis, anyway), but that really rubbed me the wrong way for some reason.
* Posted by one 'Rob' at http://www.unison.ie/polls/index.php3?ident=Irish%20Independent&mypollid=637. I happen to be of a mind with Rob, but that's a whole other post.
Windows/Linux users may find this enlightening (especially if you haven't ever bothered/needed to delve into the finer points of how Darwin interacts with network hardware)
I spent much of yesterday wondering why my Powerbook's ethernet hardware had apparently stopped working some time overnight; no "Built-in Ethernet" in the System Settings "Network" panel, and ifconfig en0 merely indicated that the interface existed, but was inactive. Trying to bring it up manually with ifconfig en0 up did nothing, and trying to force the interface's media type resulted in the error SIOCSIFMEDIA: Input/Output Error.
My ethernet connection under OS X has always "Just Worked", and I was operating under the assumption that ethernet devices behave more or less the same way they do in Windows/Linux, where even if you're not connected to a hub or switch, they will activate and assign themselves a bogus 169.x.x.x IP address. So, I figured I would be subjected to a call to Apple support first thing Monday morning.
Because I don't have wireless at home yet, I have a long CAT-5 cable kicking around the living room, consisting of two shorter cables joined by a coupler. Yesterday evening I noticed that one of the cables had popped out of the coupler... sure enough, once I plugged it back in and my PowerBook saw a hub on the other end, the en0 interface woke right up and grabbed an IP address... apparently OS X doesn't even enable an interface if it knows it's not connected to anything. Which is kind of nice - if you know that that's expected behavior.
Williams' 'Diner' is my favorite pinball game, ever. I must have shoveled at least twenty five dollars' worth of quarters into that game during the fall semester of my freshman year at RIT. Really, the only arcade game I ever spent enough time and money on to become halfway decent at.
I played that game so much that I can hear the music and sounds from just looking at the photo linked above.
I was thrilled to find Diner at an eastbound rest stop on the New York Thruway a couple of years after it vacated the SAU arcade, although it was broken. I was absolutely stunned to find the game still there when I passed through on the final leg of my journey east from California, some 7 or 8 years later. Still broken... but at least I got to hear the music again.
As with Amazon customer reviews, I am generally perplexed by the reviews people give to films on Imdb. When I say perplexed, I usually mean annoyed by the two types of reviewers there seem to be. First there are those who write as though they're getting paid by the word, and conclude with phrases like, "For this reason, I give this film 8 out of 10 stars," as though anyone is reading this but other would-be critics (or chumps like me). Then there are the types of people whose gripes with a film make you wonder whether they are able to remember more than 5 minutes of a film at a time, or whether they have ever actually seen a film that they liked.
I saw "The Village" on Friday, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. While looking up some of the cast on IMDB later that night, I started browsing user reviews, and I have to wonder why these people keep spending their money on movies when they clearly go into the theater expecting, hoping to be disappointed.
It seems to be fashionable with each successive M. Night Shyamalan release to compare it to the last, and say in your world-weariest voice, "Oh the big twist at the end was ssooooo predictable. I saw it coming an hour before the ending. It might as well have been a twiglight zone episode. This film wasn't as good as his last."
At risk of behaving like one of the legions of self-styled critics that I'm complaining about, I will offer the following as my impression of the film, and of Shyamalan as a filmmaker:
Shyamalan's films are exercises in storytelling. It sounds obvious and not particularly special, but it's a point that people seem to overlook. People are so fixated on whether or not each plot element is 100% different than every other film made in the last 100 years, or if something is "believable" (whatever that means when you're watching a story you know to be fiction) that they can't just watch the damn movie, enjoy the cinematography, and notice the things that he clearly wants us to see.
The thing that has struck me about each of M. Night Shyamalan's films is the care that has clearly gone into the dialog, framing, and direction of every shot; it's very deliberate film-making, and it's engaging... but I guess that doesn't count for a lot these days.