Tag Archive for person

Lies Hidden in Truths

It might just be that I’m growing cynical, or perhaps its just an understanding of the nature of people, but I’ve come to a point where I tend to examine the things that people say with a microscope, trying to find the flaws in their words.

For example, let’s take Joran van der Sloot, one of the suspects, and the only one still in custody, for the disappearance and possible murder of Natalee Holloway in Aruba. His mother has been saying, and its been repeated in the press, that her son states that “he left her on the beach because she wanted to stay.” Now, the optimist that lives inside every person wants to believe that Natalee felt that Aruba was great, better than Alabama, and that she wanted to enjoy it as much as possible before leaving, and that Joran, not wanting to be a nuisance, left her to enjoy the sounds of the ocean alone and headed home. A nice story, and would be wonderful if it turns out to be true. But the pessimist in me looks at that statement and says, “Its still true, technically, even if he killed her.” Say that Joran really wanted to have sex with Natalee, and that he didn’t want to do it on the beach, but wanted her to go back to his place, she didn’t want to, he tried to force her, she fought back, he killed her and dumped her body somewhere on the beach, either in this lake they are now draining, or leaving it to drift out to see where it sank or was eaten by animals, his statement is still true. He left her on the beach because she wanted to stay.

Part of me wants to think that this is some gift of keen insight when I dissect a person’s words like this, like if I applied myself I could be a good investigator for the police or some government agency. Another part of me, however, thinks this is just my willingness to accept evil in anyone, that every person is capable of horrifying acts. One thing is sure though, all of me is chilled that I could be right. I don’t want to be right, not for things like this…

Harry Potter

One thing I do that has remained a constant practice in my life has been to avoid situations where I am guaranteed my expectations have exceeded reality. Mostly this comes in with movies and books. Should I happen to not see a movie just as it comes out, or read a book within a couple months of release, and that thing takes off with reports of it being “The best ever!” there is a narrow window of opportunity to see or read it before I’m forced to put it off until the hype blows over. The reason for this is simple… people talk it up so much that it can’t possibly stand up to it.

Harry Potter is one of those things. People were telling me for years that they were simply the best books ever written, utterly fantastic, it would blow me away. So, I didn’t read them. There was so much build up, that I knew it couldn’t possibly be as good as the hype. And it wasn’t. I finally started reading the Harry Potter books a couple months ago. I’ve been reading one of them, then another book or two, then the next Potter book, and so on. I’m almost finished with ‘Goblet of Fire’ now, that’s why I’m writing. The first book… ehh… it was good, no doubt, and for young readers its an excellent book for interesting non-readers. Its short, its light, full of fluff and fun, and to any person over the age of about 18 or so, completely and utterly transparent. The plot, while not bad, was predictable. Yeah, I’d seen the movies, but that didn’t matter, even the things left out of the movie I saw coming. It was not a complicated book. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing, as I said… good for young readers or new readers, bad for anyone who has heard all the hype.

The second book was better. Still a bit predictable, and more fluff than substance, but it was a fun read that I enjoyed. However, still far from being ‘the best ever’.

The third book, moreso… the story growing up as the boy does, becoming more complicated and involved, relationships becoming less simplistic, and overall a much better book.

As I move through the fourth book, I can see it continuing to grow. The story is more complex, more textured, the characters breathe on the page and display more traits like those you find in our own world, and its beginning to lose its predictability.

I look forward to the fifth book. And the sixth, the seventh, and more, if she decides to continue on.

Now that the books are out of the way… lets talk about the fans. I’m reading the UK versions of the books. One, because those are the ones my fiancee owns. And two, because reading the book with the authentic English (or Brittish) vernacular just appeals to me more than having them all sound like a bunch of Americans despite the fact that they are in England. As such, the books I read have covers that most of the people I pass on the street have never seen. Constantly, I am berated by people yelling at me or even grabbing me or my book forcibly, demanding to know how I got ahold of the as of yet unreleased sixth book. Once I explain to them that its an old book, most of them just stomp away, not even apologizing for my sprained wrist or nearly tackling me. Few ask why the book is different, and to those that do, when I try to explain that its the original UK versions, their eyes glaze over like I’ve just tried to explain in depth quantum mechanical theory to them, and they stumble away, dumbfounded by the knowledge that Brittish English and American English aren’t the same, and that people actually write in languages other than American English. Only one person so far has actually carried on a conversation of intelligence and cared about the differences in the books (simple things like that people in the UK call a ‘flashlight’ a ‘torch’ and so on).

I’ve met numerous people who are going to go out Friday night and stay up at book release parties until 12:01am Saturday to buy their copy of the book. Because, obviously, the books bought at that time will be better than the ones the store will be selling all day the next day, at reasonable hours, like after the sun comes up, or even after a lazy brunch.

As it is, my fiancee, a huge Potter fan, but not an insane Potter fan, is actually going to wait until sometime the following week to read it. Her UK copy is being shipped overseas, and while most who order through Amazon will get their books on Saturday if they specified the next day shipping, next day from England means Monday or Tuesday.

Anyway, back to work, or something… Harry and Cedric have just… nah, not going to tell you. Read it yourself. I do recommend the Potter books… but I do not recommend becoming a Potter fanatic.

Circle Strafing

You know, its just one of those skills that I have but I almost never use. In some ways, and in some games, its really a boon. First person shooters… being able to zip around someone and pop off a couple of shotgun blasts is cool. But its a very short thing… zip, zip, pop, pop, done.

I’ve been messing around doing some dueling in World of Warcraft. I’m a priest, and fighting other priests or mages is fun, we shoot each other, resists and luck have alot to do with it, and spell choice and all that. When I fight warriors or rogues, its just stupid… if they fight me straight up, then its like the priest and mage fights, sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, its alot of luck and the game engine, player skill is part of it too, but its not ‘exploitative’. However, most of the melees who duel don’t play it straight up, they don’t bother to rely on their gear, their resists or hit points… they completely rely on exploiting ‘line of sight’. As a caster, I can’t cast 90% of my spells on anything that isn’t in front of me, so the melee circle strafes around, always staying behind. I can try to spin, but since he can switch directions in an instant, its still almost impossible to keep him in front. Its just… stupid. Why bother to ‘duel’ me if you are going to render me 90% useless? Its like saying you’ll get in the ring with Mike Tyson, but only if they chop off both of his arms, one leg, and gag him first.

I don’t get it… and I probably never will.

There’s No Place Like Work

CubicleI’m sure at least one person out there has wondered where it is that I spend most of my day. And it just so happens that this morning as I got into work I decided to snap a picture of my cubicle. When I was just working for ITCS, doing internal work and client support, I had an office. It was nice and big, I had two desks and a conference table. And I had a window. I arranged my desk to face the door so noone could sneak up on me, and I happily whiled away the hours coding and troubleshooting, and sometimes surfing the web. But those days are gone.

I’m down at BellSouth now, contract for ITCS. The money is better, and the hours more plentiful, but when it comes to work space I got shafted. Hard. See that monitor in the picture? That’s not my workstation. My PC is hidden in the corner. That dark screen you see is an application server. And all those file cabinets? Not mine. They are full of other people’s junk. In the lower left corner you can see a bit of blue. This is a spare chair. Its not mine, but it stays in my cube because none of the real employees want it in theirs, except when they need the extra seat, but they always bring it back.

Someday, I’ll have an office again.

One of those days

There are days that define a person’s life. Joyous highs, abysmal lows. There are days that are a test of faith, days that push you to your limits. Days were you succeed against all odd, and days when you succumb to the slighted of failures and crumble beneath the weight of the things you thought you’d set aside.

Today was definately not one of those days. Somewhere between great and horrible lay the days of nothing better to do.

Defying Logic Daily

There are times where I run into a person who utters words that lead me to believe that it is by sheer luck alone that they continue to survive. Today, I was asked to have a report run and email it to a desired individual “on demand” without any user interaction.

Now, I’m a pretty good programmer. And on a report, I can give someone a field and a button, or even a drop down list and a button, that allows them to specify a person or email address and then send the report when the button is clicked. I can even set up a program to run at intervals, like daily, and execute the report and email it on schedule. But I have yet to actually find a way to program telepathy… if I could, then the middle manager who asked for a report to be emailed on demand to different people based on his mood would be out of a job.

The Mysteries of Mathematics

Now, I know that not every person in the world is good with math. I am good friends with people who aren’t. However, it stands to reason, that if your job encompasses some level of mathematics, that at least with that aspect you would be fairly decent with.

Enter Client X.

Client X asked me to design a report for him. This report involved a bunch of totalling and summarizing that he is going to use to support sales. This man is also responsible for setting all the standards for sales, and the price breaks, markups, and discounts. In his job he does a lot of number crunching, and he’s held this job, and others like it, for twenty years.

On this report, he wanted to see not only the base price and company standard markup, but several levels of markups and discounts, so he could easily see profit margins and work with his customers to get them the best deal to secure business without hurting his own company. A 5% discount, and markups of 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20%. When I wrote this report, I used standard math principles: to get, for example, a 10% increase on a price you multiple the original amount by 1.10. This is a derived number, as follows:

X + (X * 10%)
10% is equal to 10/100 which reduces to 1/10 which is 0.10
X + (X * 0.10)
pull the X out
X * (1 + 0.10)
X * 1.10

This man argued with me, stating that multiplying by 1.10 was exactly the same as dividing by 0.90. He even tried to explain it with math… something like “dividing by the reciprocal is the same as multiplication”. Of course, 9/10 is not the reciprocal of 1/10, but that didn’t stop him. We went around and around until he finally brought in his boss who agreed that dividing by 0.90 was the same, and instructed me to use that method since it was their company standard. So I did.

A couple of weeks later, Client X calls to explain to me that my report is all wrong. “Our sales people are having to fudge the numbers to make them work,” he says. “The markups and discounts aren’t coming out right,” he continues. I wonder why that is? Client X now starts telling me my math must be wrong, he goes over how to do a 10% markup by dividing by 0.90, and I confirm that’s what the report is doing. “But then why are the numbers wrong?” he asks, puzzled. “Hmm, well, on your 10% numbers, are you off by about 1% or $1 every hundred?” “Yeah,” he says, “how did you know?”

How did I know?

100 * 1.10 = 110

100 / 0.90 = 111.111111111111…

I wonder…

Let me tell ya, there is just nothing sweeter than having someone force you to do something wrong only to be able to throw it in their faces later.

And the world will be a better place…

Its 2003. A new year, and an excuse to start over.

Sure, new year’s resolutions are a cop out, and a person should be strong enough to change at any time… however, how many people truely are? In my experience, people are better at keeping a change that started with an excuse than from within. More people quit smoking because of their wife, husband, or kids than have quit just because they wanted to be healthier. Of course, in the end it only stays if they truely want it, but it has to start somewhere.

So what shall I resolve to do in the new year?

To work. And by this I mean my job and all the things related to it. There are some skills I need to pick up, and some tools I need to learn.

To work out. Cause if I don’t I’ll turn into a fat bastard. The butterball is already growing underneath my shirt. No more fattening up the turkey for dinner.

To read. I miss reading, even though lots of books aren’t worth it. I need to get back into reading the occasional book. I’ve got shelves of unread ones anyway.

To write. Here, and elsewhere. And not just silly drivel about my life, but creative things, wild things, that stuff that swirls around in my skull whether dreaming or awake needs to find its way to paper.

There’s more, but I’ll probably put those off until next year. Don’t want to overload my excuse.

From Idea to Execution…

A couple of patches ago, Verant introduced for EverQuest a customizable User Interface. This new UI uses XML and a SIDL engine to basically allow someone to do anything they want with it.

Of course, the first people to slam out new designs were those people who play the game way too much. Every mod was aimed at less lag, more visible space. Slim, compact, no frills interfaces.

Jodi says to me, “I want to have a body to put my stuff on.” Or something close to that. My first reaction was to think it would be too big, bulky and cumbersome. It would take way too much space to put in a drawing of a person and to put all the items for the inventory on it.

After letting it sit in my head for a day, I started to try to come up with a layout for inventory boxes in the shape of a person, but without the actual person. The problem of course is that in the game you have boots, leggings, and a belt, then about 15 items from the waist up. Too much to get it to lay out well while keeping it compact.

Then, while sitting at work fighting sleep between calls on a sunday afternoon, my brain was electrified with inspiration.

The Vitruvian Man.

From there, my mind raced, placing parts from the Inventory all over and around the image. I made three or four mock-ups, then I headed home for the day.

Once home, I started fiddling with numbers. I sized the image that I wanted for the background, then began pixel placing the inventory.

A few hours of work placing pieces and fiddling with the contrast and gamma correction on the image, and I was finished.

So here are some screen shots of the final product in 2 resolutions: 1024×768 and 1280×1024. And if you read this page and want to download the mod itself, its here.


21 March 2001

Examination of a quote
“What does not kill me makes me stronger.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A quote often misquoted, and I think often misunderstood. Or maybe Johann was just wrong.
Most people, I think, would say that it means that surviving adversity makes you stronger in your faith, you convictions, and yourself. That when you emerge from the trial by fire, you are yourself, as before, only better, more powerful, to use the word from the quote, stronger.
I think this is wrong. A better thing to say would be, ‘What does not kill me, changes me.’
Whenever you are given a trial in life, a challenge, a joy, a pain, anything, you are never the same. Not neccessarily better or stronger, but different. At least you should be. If you are not changed by the events of your life, then you learned nothing from having lived it.
This leads me to a thought I had once and that I still hold on to today.
I have often been a part of a conversation that most people have with friends at some point. Its the “If you could go back and do anything one thing in your life different, what would it be?” conversation.
This can bring out very important information about someone. If they tell you about a missed job opportunity (not a money one, but a whole carreer change) there is a good chance that person is not happy in their job and would be happier if they took the risk and pursued the once missed path. Or they might tell you about a lost love, usually showing that when they get into relationships they don’t fully open up and because they once missed out on love, they’ll probably miss out on more because they don’t want that regret a second time in life. Or they do the opposite and open their hearts to every person to come even remotely close because the thought of missing another chance at love is too much, and so they convince themselves they love people that they don’t. There are more examples, but I’m not going through them all…
My point of this sidetrack, the thought that I had once and still hold: If you are happy with the life that you have and the person that you are, you cannot have regrets. Not real regrets, not the kind that would fit in with the above conversation. You can regret having hurt someone by leaving, but you cannot regret the leaving itself. And you cannot regret opportunities you didn’t take or the ones that you did. You can’t because each and every thing that you have done has shaped and molded you into the person that you are, and if you regret a choice in your past, then you also regret being you and are lying to yourself about being happy.
Am I happy?
For the most part. I regret nothing of my past, its made me who I am. I am a little disappointed in my present, but only when it comes to my job, and I’m working on that.
And my future?
Looks pretty good from here. I’ll let you know when I get there.
So back to the main point. If it doesn’t kill you, you learn, you adapt, you change, you grow… or at least I hope you do.