Monthly Archives: February 2007

Vistual Inanity

I had to format my computer and install XP. Vista was just too beta for me to use. It was so slow! I was starting to doubt the power of my laptop, to tell the truth, and wishing I had bucked up for the faster cpu and whatnot. Turns out, it’s plenty fast, Vista was the problem. Blech.

In significantly more important news, Grandma Walker is on death watch at the hospice facility, details to come.

When does vee stuh..

Jesus christ. I thought it was all hyperbole, but it’s not. Go watch that “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” ad. It’s true. It’s all fucking true. I’ve hit “Allow” about 200 times in the past two days. It doesn’t ever appear to actually believe you.

It requires FOUR allows to put a folder in your start menu items. FOUR.

Two for creating the folder, and then TWO TO FUCKING RENAME IT.

The Clam before the Sturm…

Waiting for my laptop to get here, waiting for some more bike parts to show up, waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for 3 o’clock so I can go meet this girl for drinks. Waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Spent some quality time with Perl today, finally got motherfucking DateTime installed, and all it took was a fucking act of god damned Congress. Sexual congress. With the devil. In my butt. But it did exactly what it was supposed to do, namely letting me convert my epoch timestamp into a date and time that mattered to anyone but some unix nut who has a watch that reads out in epoch. “Meeting at 1124301600 everybody, see you all in about 7200”. I also managed to use substr (retarded format time, 11) to make it even more readable and good. In all, a successful little day. But, I have a suggestion for the good folks at activestate.


Seriously, you seriously think it’s gonna be cool with my IS staff if I put my plaintext proxy username and password into environment variables so I can download packages? Seriously? Are you that stupid? Maybe you were a fetal alcohol syndrome baby. Or your parents dropped you on your head before it was all solidified and never told anybody. How hard is it to program in proxy support? Let me calculate it for you. Not very + You should already have done it = What the hell is the matter with you?

Other than that, perl is great. I am trying to learn some Python as well, because maybe it’ll be even better (not likely).

The credit card wavers again…

Bought myself a laptop for my birthday. Got a Zojirushi fuzzy logic rice cooker from the parents, totally awesome. Gonna make some rice tonight in celebration. Was out too late waiting for the roommate to finish up some stuff, so I decided to risk going out for birthday dinner (it’s Valentines day, I don’t get to eat out on my birthday very often), and went to a new place purporting to be New Mexico style mexican up on Lombard named Encanto. I posted my review on portlandfood, but I’ll repost it here because it’s worth keeping.


Well, I went Wednesday night (my birthday, I can’t believe how many people celebrate it). Showed up without reservations at about 6:30, and was seated immediately. Sat down in the middle of a bare floored space that could have easily held another… I’m going to say seven tables. Probably more, I didn’t get a good look at the area back by the bar. A very cheerful hostess seated us, then a woman came by to drop off cold water. To call her manner “efficient” would imply some level of warmth, and frankly, efficiency it didn’t have. Nobody came to take a drink order. The waitress at one point hurried fully around our table three times in a row, never saying a word to us. The miniature kitchen type cubby hole bristled with people working very hard, I counted at least five.

I studied the menu, which reeks less of Santa Fe via Taos and more of Santa Fe via Los Angeles, is separated into two sections: Dessert and Untitled. We chose:

Sopaipillas with honey butter
Enchiladas (with options of cheese – $10, roasted vegetable – $12, and beef – $15), my roommate chose the veggies.
The lamb sofrito with the squash.
I picked drink called an Eldorado, which was a tequila lemondrop with honey, as tequila is in fact the Birthday Booster (not to be confused with the Burger Booster).
The roommate picked an iced tea.

The waitress returned with a gracious, effervescent “What are you getting” and then stared off into space. We ordered, drinks, dinner, and sopaipillas (which ended up being treated as an appetizer, as I had figured) at that time. My drink came out, it was a fair to middling beverage, heavy on the tequila, but serviceable. The iced tea was about three ounces of liquid in a glass filled to the brim with ice.

The honey butter was delicious, but served as hard lumps of butter instead of whipped, which I would have prefered, as it would have made it easier to spread on the sopaipillas and faster to melt into it. The waitress came to fill up waters around the table, making a pretty good impression by spilling water onto the floor, splashing it around enough that it got onto my pantleg and my roommates jacket.

I should state for the record that this woman really “broke” the whole experience. The food was OK, the service pissed me the hell off.

Around this time, they were starting in on their dinner rush, turning people away with talk of 25 minute wait times, even as they were clearing tables and resetting them. Our apps came out. Turns out the roasted vegetable enchiladas meant “three thin cheese enchiladas with some roasted vegetables on top”. The nice, thin cut carrots were only barely cooked, the squash was done until it was mushy, and there was something else, onions I think. I smelled frozen bag mix, immediately. I could be wrong, but they weren’t roasted either. The beans were just OK, the enchilada sauce was tasty. The rice was pretty tasty. My sofrito was served with a mix of summer squash and zucchini instead of chayote, which wasn’t mentioned at any point. The lamb was great, very tender and flavorful, there was only one piece of it that was a fat-and-vein bit I think should have been on the trim pile instead of in the dish, and really at this point in the meal that was impressive. I had finished my drink, and the waitress came past to ask if I needed another, I said yes. About ten minutes later she came by to inform me that the bartender was a little backed up but it would be right out. She returned briefly with what could only be called some lemon pulp in tequila, going from the “pretty strong” reaction I had to the first to hazy memories of nights spent across the border in Nogales drinking tequila from the end of a tube. We both decided not to try the dessert, which was sponge cake soaked in sweet cream (I think, I can’t really remember).

When the check showed up, it was $45 for the two of us to eat. I can’t believe they are charging $12 for those enchiladas, it should be $10 on the outside for both the cheese and the veggie. My drinks were charged as a more expensive drink, it was only $.50 per, but it was enough to piss me off a bit. The waitress ended up getting 10%, as I’m not asshole enough to stiff someone on valentines day, but I hope she’s saving her pennies for when she is looking for work again. In short, the meals value ratio was horrible, and even taking the money out of the equation, I wasn’t happy with it. While we were waiting for the ticket, a gentleman in an apron came out and started seating the increasingly upset crowd standing in the doorway at tables that had been empty for 10-15 minutes for no readily apparent reason.

Blech. Not New Mexico mexican (seafood? creme fraiche? nothing was remotely hot), not really mexican (like Taco Bell’s new banners advertise, Mexican-inspired), not really good (everything was OK, but they all had some level of wonkiness. I assume the green chile pork stew would have something crazy in it like celery sticks with cream cheese), so it gets a neat line through it on my list. Like I said, it wasn’t bad, and I hope they get their shit together, and that someone takes that waitress off to the side and explains what customer service is about.

Of Birthdays…

I was disturbed to find that both iFish, a message board I signed up for because someone lied that one could get coupons for sporting goods on it, and another message board I’m involved with automatically emailed me to wish me a happy birthday. I spent the rest of the morning trying to ease back into work and take it easy so I don’t recharge the illness that is busy trying to kill me, and waited for the moment.

My phone rang, and I saw the name – Mickey, Grandma (my phone assumes you want to see everyone in last, first format, because it assumes you are a total dick), and I knew that the time of my real birthday present was at hand.

“Hello Grandma”

“Aaron?” (the thick accent has always made saying my name difficult, there’s an extra soft consonant in there somewhere, like an L between the two A’s. Also, she always presents the “who is this” name-challenge even if you clearly identify yourself early in the call, because she is crazy.)
“Yeah, it’s me, how are you doing?”

“You feel better?”

“Yeah, I’m feeling a lot better, how are you?”

“I just called to say Happy Birthday.” (She is fairly easily distracted in conversation, so she ignores any questions put to her until her objective is complete, and usually afterwards for good measure.)

“Thank you grandma. How are things going down there?”

Then my gift begins. A broken rhythm rendition of the Happy Birthday Song that puts me into fits of laughter each time, I have to stifle it or she’ll stop. Happy comes out “hoppy”, Birthday comes out “burse-a-day”, the rhythm is so masterfully distorted it would make Coltrane weep his inadequacy.

She then lays down the law about something, I believe it had to do with the fact that I am sick because I live in Oregon and that’s what Oregon does, then calls herself “strong like horse”, which only serves to put the icing on my birthday cake. From this point on, she responds as much as she ever does to questions, and we have a short but pleasant conversation about how cold it must be here and how I must wish I were warmer. I would like to talk to her more, but I am at work, and while I’m comfortable with that, she is not (she was baffled that my boss would just let me take two sick days off and not have to make up the time), so we cut it short and I head back to my desk humming a not-quite-right Birthday Song.
But that song is the best gift I get all year.

Update on the Desperately Lonely front

Interestingly enough, my last post about women got picked up by some spam aggregator and titled “Desperately Lonely”, which kind of depressed me. However, not 4 hours after posting that missive about being laid to the side, the woman in question emailed me back to apologize. Though meeting her was not meant to be for this weekend, it will hopefully be later this week. I was hoping that I could convince her to go out on Valentines and then be really creepy or over dramatic about it the entire night, but this cold is kind of making that unlikely.


Get Carter, Domino, and Smokin’ Aces…

I have had something of a bad run with movies lately. First, I tried to watch the original Get Carter with Michael Caine, which was, as far as I was able to plunge into the movie, the story of a very quiet man who rides a train a very long time, in order to have low-volume conversations with almost no context in high-ambient noise bars. He then stares with great big blank eyes at a corpse the worlds narrowest coffin and handles a shotgun briefly, before being interrupted by Rachel Ray’s 30 minute meals: Cheez Whiz and Hot Cocoa Pot Roast for 15 in a flash.

I don’t have a problem with movies that start slow. That’s a lie, really, because I do have a problem with movies that start slow, but it’s not that I need two beefy german bondage boys named Sturm und Drang to kick me in the face in the beginning of a movie. I just need something, some vaguely compelling reason to be interested in this story. The Station Agent is a perfect example – You wanna talk about a slow start? Hell, that whole movie is slow. But it compelled me to watch, and I was rewarded for it. Get Carter could only have compelled me if I found compulsive mumblers interesting, and I do not.

In it’s wake, I chose to watch the movie Domino, the quasi-factual (in that there was a person named Domino Harvey) story about the inability of the toothsome but waif thin Keira Knightley’s inability to adequately proofread screenplays for “the turd factor”. The otherwise enjoyable romp set against the background of oversaturated and contrast-modified southern california had a lot of delightfully forced sexy bits, including but not limited to some kind of sex-for-information program early in the playbill, and some later naughty talk between Knightly and the ever lovely (and likewise decisionally delayed) Lucy Liu, and then the long (overlong) drawn out mescaline fueled, crashed bus desert romp with Choco, played by Edgar “My career was too young to die” Ramirez. Then the movie does the unthinkable… IT GOES FURTHER OFF THE RAILS. You see, in the middle of the directors vision of how a mescaline desert orgy is supposed to go (not very accurate, I gotta tell you), The Turd Factor rolls up in a drop top CaddalincolnTownboat. That’s right. Tom Waits. He pulls up in the middle of drugfucking and lays down some totally deep (and by deep I mean retarded) shit (bullshit). They all pile into his car and drive off of one car wreck (the bus) and into another (the rest of the movie… HO!! SICK BURN). Seriously, they randomly end up back in town and proceed to stand by while their long trusted Afghan driver packs explosives into where the money should be, steals the money, and nobody thinks it’s odd, even momentarily that the previously exposed explosives expert duct tapes something with batteries in it to his hand. I can only pray that the oral/anal sex that the producers got from the various hookers and hangers on that came with The Waits Experience was worth blowing their money-wad over (OH SNAP THAT WAS SO GOODS). I’m not saying that Waits isn’t destined to be an actor… Simply that he’s not ready just yet. Give him some time, and maybe he’ll get up to Bowie standards. It’s highly unlikely though, as he is a talentless hack. He should pray that he dies in a fairly obscene and not easily explainable way, so that his catalog will increase in value through the novelty of his death, because otherwise he’s going to end up right on the same shelf as Wilco now that they’re all dead. Wait, they’re not dead yet? Regardless, I still have one steaming shitpile to talk about.

Smokin’ Aces. I know, I know, this was supposed to be one of those review things where I dance around the issue and try to talk about all the good parts of a movie before I tear it down, but that is impossible with Smokin’ Aces. They turn over their hand and show you the twist, smearing it in your face, in the first 10 minutes of the movie. They then repeat this act every 15 minutes until the credits mercifully roll because apparently someone told them it was clever. It ends with a twist-within-a-twist that rivals only the knock knock jokes of a two year old for complexity and depth, and NOWHERE… NOWHERE does the action meet the promise of the premise. I mean, really, you have a half dozen hitmen converging on a single target, HOW DO YOU NOT HAVE TONS OF ACTION? The biggest issue with the whole thing is that, like a truly horrible pile of shit, it has recognizeably good bits scattered through it. Corn kernels and bits of apple, maybe the leg of a GI Joe or part of your remote control, just strewn. The scene where Chris Pine (as Darwin Tremor) is playing mush-face with Ben Affleck’s corpse (something I have fantasized about too) and assuaging himself of guilt? Perfect. Kevin Durand mooking about with Maury Sterling like a pair of drug addled chimps? Great. Alicia Keys playing black girl that everyone wants to have sex with? Naturalistic as hell. But the rest of it is pure, creamy dogshit. Common is sadly playing a serious role here, up against Jeremy Piven who is mailing it in even more than the screenwriter. That poor gentleman who had cheek stabbing treatment spends time doing character development and learning how to speak like someone, in this wonderfully belabored scene, then he is flushed down the toilet without another word. Bat-Manuel goes not-quite over the top in his scenes, even though the situation clearely called for “turn it to 11”. And I was just fomenting my hatred for both the writer and director and it turns out they’re both the same guy, Joe Carnahan, the guy who got picked to direct Killing Pablo, one of my favorite non-fiction books. Fucking great. Thanks a lot Hollywood machine, please continue to grind my dreams into a fine paste.

Riding the Short Bus

Every now and then, I run into something at work that reminds me that I am riding the short bus. We haven’t updated to 2000 on our NT machines for reasons I can only assume are veiled in mystery, ditto 2003 on our 2000 boxes, all of our support tool licenses are inevitably 5 revisions out of date, and very frequently, the license has – in fact – expired. The last such query I made about a tool led me to install the program and realize that the license had been purchased by an individual employee, on his own card. I almost wept.

Most of the time, to avoid this sort of problem, I just use free (as in speech) tools, and failing that, I use free (as in beer) tools. So I was excited to learn about PowerShell, which I had played with at home some and found to be intriguing, which is free like beer for folks with a valid Windows install, and could be used to automate some tasks without having to rely on the increasingly bizarre Win32::Foo Perl modules I’ve been hacking together. So I download it, and validate my system, and start the install. Bam, short bus time. We haven’t updated to SP2 on our XP workstations. Treetarded. Back to surfing CPAN and pretending I know how to script in Perl.