September 2010 Archives

Satan, Bean Burritos & Western Union

"To keep me from getting the big head," wrote the Apostle Paul to his homies at Corinth » "Because of all these super-cool things that God has been showing me .. there was given me » a pain-in-the-ass » a messenger of the Evil one himself, sent to chew on my butt .. like an insatiable alligator."

[ the Rad Third Millennium translation, loosely paraphrased ]

"There was given me.. Now, I may not be an apostle, but I most certainly know that feeling.

It is not a feeling you get after a week, or a month. Or even a year. Takes *years* to get there. Hope springs eternal. To a point.

For years, well-meaning people have been telling me, It's gonna get better. To which I always reply » I've been hearing that for years.

If you keep reading, you'll notice where Paul himself (the guy who wrote some 2/3rds of the New Testament) sounds frustrated, where he wrote:

I repeatedly asked God to get this thing off me. But he said..."

Can Rad come out & play?» Resignation & Hungry Gators

Now you can interpret that verse however you like, and even reflect on the notion (as Nietzsche puts it) that » we are punished best for our virtues (.. BG&E #132).

Complete this sentence » No good deed...

Many different explanations exist as to what exactly God's response there means.

But you must admit it doesn't sound as cool as (God saying) » I'll handle it for you.

My point is .. I've reached a point -- after half a decade -- where I finally accept the fact that hungry gators are a part of my life .. and they really like the taste of my butt. Hear that 'chomping' sound? Yeah, that's my butt you hear.

An academic might term this feeling » resignation. An investor » capitulation. I'm resigned to the fact that the feeling of 'Incoming!' will never end. Not for good, anyway. So I might as well get used to it (.. which, unfortunately, I have).

Don't get me wrong. The final outcome is always positive. Good things always follow bad. (So far.) So I no longer freak out like I used to. But it's just so surprising .. how many dang alligators there are in the world.

And having your butt gnawed by a toothy reptile is never a very pleasant experience .. no matter how well you're able to spin the uncomfortable sensation.

» BurritosThe Elusive Bean Burrito

The Bug loves bean-n-cheese burritos. He even tried a little hot sauce this week.

At Del Taco, they have 3 hot sauces » mild, the 'scorcher', and the 'inferno' (.. guaranteed to torch your BVDs).

After we finished splitting the first one, he wanted a second. But I only had 72 cents left, so I broke out the plastic (.. for a 99-cent burrito).

The girl swipes my card. Denied, she says.

No way, I said. I got 20 bucks in there. I checked just yesterday. Swipe it again.

Same result. She hands me the card. Long line behind me. Pretty embarrassing. Okay, I said. Lemme call my bank.

Did you order the burrito, dad?
No, pun'kin.
Why not?

Tennyson & the End of Summer

Autumn begins today .. at 8:09 tonight PDT. That's when the sun slips quietly across the equator, heading south. Adios, amigo. Say hi to our friends down under. See you next spring.

Alfred Lord TennysonMy favorite time of year. Warm days, brisk nights. The weather lends itself to clear-headed thinking.

I grew up back East (in Connecticut) where the leaves change color. Dramatically so. People would come from all over to see.

No matter where I've lived -- and I've lived in a dozen different states over the years -- I've always felt a special affinity for the beginning of autumn. Even in Hawaii, you can feel autumn's arrival. (Comes in the air.)

Sunday I got into the spirit by riding my bike to the Back Bay (here in Newport Beach), where I said 'goodbye' to summer .. by enjoying its last weekend of the year.

Gorgeous day. One hand rested on the rubber grip of my handlebar; the other held a book of poetry .. by Tennyson (1809-1892), which included Charge of the Light Brigade. What a poem. (True story. Brits vs the Russians. October, 1854)

Alfred Lord TennysonHalf a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!' he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd.
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Can you hear the hooves pounding the ground as the horses gallop? That's the first two stanzas. (I can recite the first three from memory.) The poem can be viewed as glorifying military ineptitude (something I'm familiar with) .. but still incredibly lyrical.

Hemingway. Picasso. Matisse. Van Gogh. Names synonymous with creativity. Were they really more creative than you & me? Or did they merely have better tools? .. to capture inspiration when the Muse spoke.

PicassoMy quest for the perfect notebook began last week, when the Bug started kindergarten. I wanted to capture some of the precious things he was saying. [ So cute. ]

Which led me to Moleskine (pronounced mol-a-skeen'-a). The company is based in Italy (Milan), hence the pronunciation. Tho the notebooks themselves are made in China.

But most Americans just call them mole-skin .. like the blister aid you buy when backpacking Yosemite.

If you walked into a bookstore and asked for a "mol-a-'SKEEN-a," the sales-person would probably hand you their wallet and say, "Please don't shoot."

Avant-garde artists & writers such as those mentioned above used a notebook of similar design .. to what the folks at Moleskine manufacture today .. which comes with the following features:

  • lays flat when open. Its most important feature (Most bindings tend to spring shut)
  • quality paper that won't bleed thru with wet ink
  • paper has a slight yellow tint (creamy, like they made in the old days .. not bright white like the stuff made for today's laser printers)
  • elastic enclosure to keep it shut when you're done. No crumpled corners
  • accordion pocket in the rear, to hold your receipts & things
  • single satin marker ribbon
  • hard-cover, wrapped with black oil-cloth .. for a classic look with tactile sensuality. Feels better than leather & far more cow-friendly. I saw one leather knock-off which looked horrible (shiny) & felt 'cold'

Matisse La DanseMoleskine's marketing is gimmicky -- The Legendary Notebook of Hemingway, Picasso, Chatwin -- because the company was only formed in 1998.

So they are not the originator of the product used by Hemingway & Picasso. They merely re-launched a style that had been lost & forgotten.

Their prices are .. pricey. MSRP $18. Even $12 for a discounted book, with no words, no story, is hard to ju$ify in this economy. So many (like me) opt for knock-offs.

But you still might wanna take an original for a test-drive .. just to see what everybody is raving about. Cuz Moleskine is the standard by which all knock-offs are judged.

First Week of Kindergarten

Hey dad, the Bug said, as I arrived at his classroom to pick him up. Did you see that girl that just left?

Kindergarten classYou mean the one with the black shirt? I asked, squatting to get my hug.

That's my girlfriend, he said, matter-of-factly, giving me a kiss & handing me his lunch box.

You're pretty fast, I said, standing up. First week of school. I waited 'til 6th grade before I had a girlfriend.

She couldn't open her sandwich container at lunch, he said, as we headed for his bike. So I opened it for her.

Cuz you're so strong? I asked. Yeah, he said, returning a high-five.

This was his first week of kindergarten .. something I've been dreading. Already I've caught myself dividing his childhood into before & after .. with this week representing the imposing demarcation.

Feels like a major shift. Like a big change. Whole new world.

Feels weird, too .. handing off your child to someone you hardly know. Can't really say it feels natural. His teacher however, seems very nice.

The kids all line up outside, and she goes down the line after the last bell rings, and greets each child by name, and says something personal to them, and is able to elicit a smile from each one. Every day. With parents watching. No small feat. Hard not to be impressed.

Need somebody good to ensure their initial scholastic experience is positive. 25 kids in his class. Kindergarten gets out early. I was there, first in line, when they unlocked the gate to let in the parents. [ # They wouldn't let me pitch a tent outside the gate. It wasn't very big. ]

And you shoulda seen the lunch I made for him. Enough to feed 10 kids. [ How am I ever gonna fit this dang turkey into his lunch box? ]

Fancy Pants 2 Pant-Colors & TrophiesI put a note in an envelope in his lunch box .. for the first lunch I made this week.

The envelope contained a print-out of the pant-colors & trophies he won in Fancy Pants 2 .. over the course of the summer. He really liked that.

Those trophies were hard to get .. especially the purple pants and the Afro-Ninja trophy. He explodes with happiness whenever we're able to win one.

And we even beat the Big Bad Bunny .. at the very end .. to win the game. Very difficult. That BBB is one bad dude.

[ # One of the best dads I ever knew said, Find out what your kids like to do .. and go do that with them. ]

First Peek into Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)

Took my first peek today into Object-Oriented Programming (OOP). This is something I've postponed until good-n-ready .. cuz I heard OOP's concepts can be difficult to digest, especially those introduced at the outset.

PHP logoI'm currently reading the Gilmore book (among others). Jason says (.. in chapter 6, under heading labeled » Benefits of OOP):

"It is the most powerful programming model on the planet."

Uh, actually he said it's » the most powerful programming model YET DEVISED. I substituted the phrase on the planet for dramatic effect. =)

Same thing. So you can see why this statement got me all hot-n-bothered. [ # Tho Nigel said OOP is not very different. ]

The flip-side of OOP is called 'procedural' programming. I reckon it'd be better for me to learn OOP before becoming too indoctrinated into the Procedural method. Less to unlearn this way. You know how difficult it can be sometimes to change-over to a new paradigm (way of thinking) .. once you've become comfortable with your current method. Old dogs & new tricks.

The OOP model shifts the focus away from (conceptually) a program's procedural events .. to the REAL-LIFE things the programming model represents.

This modeling-of-real-life lends itself (I've found) to making comparisons with how programming applies to REAL-LIFE itself (.. and vice versa).

Sorta meta-physical stuff .. which I won't delve into right now. But thought-provoking nonetheless, and maybe worth discussing some other time.

The focus on REAL-LIFE entities (or 'objects') tends to make programming with OOP less obscure .. than the regular procedural method .. which mimics a foreign language.

Regarding OOP being conceptually daunting .. here's a statement I had to read several times in order to grasp (.. we're still talking about the advantages of OOP):

The developer can change the implementation of the application without affecting the object user because the user's only interaction with the object is via the interface.

So no, it's not rocket science, but the going early on is pretty slow indeed. But it's also very rich, which makes it rewarding. [ # I've heavily marked-up the first few pages of this chapter, as ideas & concepts were exploding all over the place. ]

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