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Journal: A person's formal name

Journal by lucabrasi999

I am not one to make fun of another person's name. I won't tell you what my real name is, but you should understand that both my 'middle' and my 'last' names are rather unique and I have had a lifetime of teasing as a result of it. When I was a pre-teenager, I was really bothered by the teasing.

Once I reached adulthood, I began to understand the history of my unique names. I am proud of that history and I wouldn't have it any other way. (Later on in life, my then-fiancee' (now my wife) used to tell me that she didn't want to take my name after we were married. She wanted us to legally change our last name to "Carrington". As in Carrington from the television show Dynasty.)

However, I am really surprised by how different cultures react to names. In Western culture, you really won't find too many people named "Adolph" (as in Hitler) or "Judas" (the person in the Bible's New Testament that was a traitor to Jesus). Those are but two examples.

There is a person on my new contract (I don't work directly with this person), who by appearances and by their last name, must be of either Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Indian descent. The first name listed on the sign next to his cube is "Stalin".

I realize that names are cultural. But, isn't Stalin a slightly odd name to call someone? After all, Josef Stalin killed millions of people across Europe and Asia. And, it's not like the world didn't have mass media when he did his killing. A Google search on Josef Stalin returns over a million results. I've been here for months, but it still sort of sounds odd when someone says "Hey, thanks for all that help, Stalin".

What is it about the culture of this man where it is acceptable to be known as "Stalin"? Is it short for something? Are there other cultures that have this same issue? What names are not considered proper in Africa? In Central Asia? South America? Asia?

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Journal: No BSG? 3

Journal by lucabrasi999

Can somebody tell me why Battlestar Galactica was not nominated for a Golden Globe Award? I realize that both 24 and Lost are great shows. I am a huge fan of both shows. And, there are many people that love Grey's Anatomy . It is too much of a girl-show/ER retread for my tastes, but I don't mind if other people love it. However, if BSG is NOT the best show on U.S. television today, is it not at least in the top five?

Don't even get me started on the lack of Acting nominations for BSG

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Journal: Stock Market Weakness

Journal by lucabrasi999

Today (May 30th), the DJIA dropped a total of 184 points (almost 2%). That wiped out the gains that were made over the previous three days. I think that we are definitely out of the bull market from 2005 and early 2006. I also believe that, at best, we are in a trading range. But, I'm beginning to think we are heading towards a bear market. I'm mostly out of stocks (and have been so for about three weeks). I am now waiting for bear to be reached.

The DJIA is at 11,094. When it reaches 9,400, that will be the 20% drop that makes it a bear market. That is when I jump back in.

Of course, if I am wrong, then I don't lose money, I just don't make as much as I could have (I leave money on the table). Instead of keeping money in the stock market funds, I moved my money to much more conservative investments. I still earn some low level of interest, just not the 8% return that I have been making over the past couple of years.

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Journal: A day pass!! Woo Hoo!

Journal by lucabrasi999

Wow, I am finally using a day pass to see all of the submitted articles first, just like real subscribers! I feel so privileged.

Hey, there's my first article! I can tell because it is in RED, whereas the rest of /. is in standard GREEN. My first article is a Book Review. The title of the book is Core Web Application Development with PHP & MySQL.

Wow........uh..........well.........

Does anyone know of a way in which I can return my day pass?

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Journal: It's vs. Its

Journal by lucabrasi999

For the fourth time in my life, Slashdot accepted my submission. And, in the middle of my description of the story, I screwed up the grammar. I used "it's", instead of "its". Hey, what can I say? I never was all that good at grammar. To the credit of the slashdot editors, they did re-write my submission quite a bit (I had confused the issue in my original text). However, the editors also missed the incorrect grammar.

In the future, I promise to continue to use incorrect grammar.

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Journal: Greasemonkey rocks...

Journal by lucabrasi999

I installed the Firefox Extension Greasemonkey about a month or two ago. After using it for a few days, I decided to turn it off, mainly because some of the scripts were just annoying and I didn't have the time to deal with it.

I finally turned the Extension back on and I added some of the Slashdot scripts. Although I knew Greasemonkey really had the potential to be great, it wasn't until I used it for the past couple of days that I realized how great it is.

Am I late to the party? Yes. But, hey, at least I finally realized what I was missing.

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Journal: Some time off from being a road warrior

Journal by lucabrasi999

For just over seven years, I have been doing the same thing almost every Monday morning. I'd get up very early, get dressed, go to the airport and catch a plane to somewhere else. The following Thursday evening, I would return home. Now, sometimes, the flight out may have occurred on a Sunday night, or the return flight may have happened on a Friday (once in a while, I had to stay over at a client site for an entire weekend), but, for the most part, I've been away from home for three nights and four days every week.

For the first couple of years, I would say I traveled about 70% of the time. Then, as the dot-coms crashed, my work level exploded. I've been on the road pretty much 48 weeks out of the year for the past five years. The other four weeks were either vacations or short breaks between assignmentst. Even though the travel has been tough, I hit a stroke of luck in that I was able to avoid the layoffs that hit my company. My group went from over 400 consultants to just over 50, but I kept working (since that time, we have increased our numbers through a merger).

Now, just as I was becoming sick of travel -- I now have a 20 month old son at home, as some of my other journals have indicated -- I hit another stroke of huge luck. My company won a very large project in my hometown. At first, the contract is right in my ERP skillset. In addition, they want an architect to help design the hardware side of things on a three-to-five year project. My company has decided to train me on the hardware side of things!

I will help out on the ERP side for a few months, but then my company will train me to be the lead architect. It is a bit overwhelming, since I am more of an applications person, but it sould be interesting and fun.

I will be working at home. Commuting by car! Of course, my wife and I presently only have one car (why pay for two when I am away every week?). So, I have to buy a vehicle, but that is nothing compared to spending every night in my own bed!

I am keeping my fingers crossed. I want to do well as the architect and keep working from home for a while. Of course, I also want to use this working from home thing as an excuse to buy a Harley-Davidson...Since I'll see my wife and kid every day now, I won't feel guilty about taking a few hours off every month to ride.

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Journal: NY Daily News Headline

Journal by lucabrasi999

The January 6, 2005 headline of the New York Daily News is a classic. It's a picture of Ashlee Simpson with the quote "Why is this woman still a star?". Gotta love it.

I would give a link to a photo, but the link will probably no longer be good on January 7th. Go to www.nydailynews.com and search for the photo yourself.

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Journal: Moderators...

Journal by lucabrasi999

Well, I got into yet another pissing match with some moderators. I know that making a comment on moderation is considered against the rules, but, when a moderator screws up/or mis-moderates something, sometimes I can't help myself. I lost the pissing match since some of my comments were moderated down. In the end, it's not that big of a deal, but it is kind of annoying.

The problem comes down to this: why would anyone care if a user had good or bad karma? As everyone knows, moderating someone as "Funny" does not improve that person's karma. So, some moderators choose to moderate the Funny comments as "Insightful" or "Interesting" so they can improve the karma of the Poster. The moderators today gave a post an "Interesting" when the Post was making a joke about Girls in Bikinis. I saw "Girls in Bikinis" and "Interesting" together and make a joke about it. And, I was chewed out about how the moderator was just trying to improve someone's Karma.

In short, get over it people! Why are you worried about User X's Karma? Get a life!

Then again, maybe I should get a life, as well, since I'm bitching about this problem on my journal....

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Journal: Procrastination

Journal by lucabrasi999

I have made a career out of procrastination. I went through high school, undergrad, graduate school and about 10 years in the work force procrastinating each and every step of the way. I would wait until the last minute to write my class papers or study for exams. I have not even started my tasks for work until absolutely required.

For example, last week, I was supposed to work on an internal System Implementation Methodology Project. We are simply creating a method for implementing ERP systems. My company already has two or three older methods and my task is to assist in combining these two or three older methods into a new, unified method. In other words, the project itself is pretty much horseshit. But, it is billable horseshit. So, last week, I was off from my normal traveling assignment. I should have taken 20 or so hours to finish the last bit of this methodology crap. Of course, I spent the entire week goofing off with my family.

This week, I am back at my client in NYC. I told myself that I would do work on this stupid project when I got back to my hotel. So, what have I done for the past two hours? Surfed. Posted stupid jokes to Slashdot. Watched Georgia Tech beat the hell out of Michigan in hoops.

And, this is typical of how I operate in everything. I always wait until the last minute to finish things. I wait until the last minute to file my taxes. To by Christmast Gifts. To submit my travel expenses.

Basically, this entire journal entry is one long attempt NOT to work on the stupid methodology project.

At one point in my life, my procrastination will catch up with me. But, for now, I am 38 years old and I have made it so far. Is there any hope for people like me? Or will I be procrastinating even on the way to my own funeral?

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Journal: Why are two good movies always shown at the same time? 3

Journal by lucabrasi999

This question will probably never be answered. We could have 700 channels of television, and for 364 nights out of the year, all 700 stations would show crap. Then, for one night in the year, you'll find that two GREAT movies are being shown at the same time by different stations.

Tonight? The Godfather and Field of Dreams. Yeah, I know, we have all seen the movies a hundred times. But they are so good, that I could watch them a hundred times more.

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Journal: Why I will not vote for George W Bush 1

Journal by lucabrasi999

Note that comments are enabled. I'm leaving them enabled because I'm curious to see if anyone actually reads my journal. :)

Of course, by leaving comments on, I am opening myself up to flames or trolls, and since this subject is about the 2004 Presidential election, chances are high that I'll get one or two of them. While I will be reading any comment that I happen to get, I doubt that I'll take the time to respond. It would only result in a pissing match and that's a complete waste of everyone's time. I'll probably make errors in this journal entry. Go ahead and point them out. Your pointing them out will not change my mind, but it will help me as I try to find the weak spots in my thinking. Just do me one favor, read my entire post before responding. It's a long post and it may not be the most exciting read. But, hey, I'm letting all of you post on this journal, at least give my writing a bit of respect before you flame me. :)

A couple of more things: I do live in Pennsylvania, a swing state. Back in the late 1980's, early 1990's, I was not the stinking computer consultant that I am today. From about 1989 through 1996, I was a professional political campaigner (always for the democrats). I've done everything from big-dollar fundraiser to Get Out the Vote to Advance work. Of course, being a democrat back then gives me a heavy tendency to support democrats. Unfortunately this year, my party has stuck me with Senator Kerry. I would have preferred someone else (General Clark?), but, hey, you go with what you are given. Also, I did NOT look at any of the "talking point" web sites before writing this journal. I've tried to formulate these thoughts on my own (I do read many columnists, from the both left and right, so I am sure they have some influence on this article). If there is a list of "talking points" that I am mimicking, it is purely unintentional.

Now, onto President Bush.

When I began to think about the reasons why I won't vote for this President, I thought about all of these individual policy reasons:

How does this President reconcile his Tax Cut policy with his budget requests to increase Spending?

How could I support a President that wants to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, instead of increasing gas mileage requirements on automobiles?

Oddly. Despite being a certified liberal, I am actually in favor of NAFTA and other global trading pacts (and yes, I think that statement will probably get me some flames from left-wingers). How can I support a President that increased tariff's on Steel? All that did was increase the cost of Steel on US Consumers. Why would he support huge subsidies to farmers? All that does is raise the costs of other imported goods, since other countries are penalizing us for subsidizing our farm exports.

I'm somewhat of a pacifist. I was personally opposed to Iraq from the beginning. How could I support this President base on his policy in Iraq? Especially after it meant pulling resources away from the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. (Probably asking for flame from the right on that statement).

I am opposed to Mr. Bush on nearly every issue you can think of: I am pro-choice. I am in favor of gay marriage . I am fully opposed to the Patriot Act. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

But, when it came down to it, the policy differences aren't what really drives me crazy about this President (I am sure if you dug through a list of issues, you would find a few in which I agree with the President). I think it boils down to a question of style. Unlike some liberals, I actually think the President, when formulating policy, does listen to a variety of viewpoints in his administration. I think he considers multiple sides of an issue. My problem comes with what happens after Mr. Bush formulates a policy decision.

He rarely shows the tendency to change his mind on a policy. He continues the course, no matter what. Some people may consider that to be a sign of strength. I consider it to be a sign of stubborness. Situations change. When situations change, policies sometime have to change. This President does not seem to even consider that possiblity.

When Mr. Bush first proposed Tax Cuts, there was a budget surplus. His administration talked about puttining the surplus into the pockets of the taxpayers. Then, the economy went into the dumpster. The Administration changed the reason for the policy (tax cuts were needed to stimulate the economy), but they didn't alter the policy. The policy passed. Then, when the economy didn't pick up, the Administration proposed more tax cuts. It didn't matter that we were experiencing budget deficits. What mattered was that tax cuts were the policy. There was no mention of the failed stimulus that occured with the first tax cuts. Instead, the Administration focused on how more tax cuts would be good for the economy (Oh, please don't tell me that the tax cuts resulted in an improving economy. The economy has barely improved today and it has been over a year since the most recent tax cuts passed. Any stimulus from them would have occured by now).

Note that while I don't think the tax cuts are a good policy, what really bothers me is the single-mindedness of the Administration. All they cared about was Tax Cuts.

Now, bear with me and look at Iraq. At first, we were invading Iraq because of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Then, we were invading Iraq because of it's links with terrorists. Now, our reasons for invading Iraq are to free the Iraqi People. Although I have moral issues with changing 220 years of US policy and launching a pre-emptive war, my real problem is that once the policy was decided, the Administration just kept coming up with new reasons for invading the country, even after their original reasons were proven to be incorrect.

My problem is that this Administration's justification for a policy is NOT as important as the policy itself. In other words. Mr. Bush thinks that Tax Cuts are good, then the Administration comes up with as many justifications as they can. It doesn't matter that the situation has changed. That the deficits have been ballooning. All that matters is the policy, Tax Cuts. The same with Iraq. Mr. Bush decided to invade Iraq. The Administration then spends months and months justifying the policy. It doesn't matter that the original reasons for the invasion have been proven false, the Administration keeps coming up with new reasons for the invasion.

I could go on about this President's smear campaigns against Senator Kerry. But, there is no point. Karl Rove is a great campaigner and has shown the tendency to smear Mr. Bush's opponents before, as in what happened to Senator McCain in the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary. However, I don't blame Mr. Bush for launching attacks. I DO blame Mr. Kerry for running a bad campaign (and having some bad luck). In a campaign for the President of the United States, a candidate should expect the opposition to do whatever it takes to win. Senator Kerry was obviously not prepared. Mr. Bush is a great campaigner (he stays ON MESSAGE) and I think Mr. Kerry has "misunderestimated" him. At the time this journal entry was posted (Sept, 2004), there was time for the Senator to rebound. Mr. Kerry is starting to attack on the key issue in this election, Iraq. We'll see if his attacks stick and we'll see what happens after the first debate.

I hope you read the whole journal post. If you care, go ahead and comment.

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Journal: Documentation Sucks

Journal by lucabrasi999
Trust me, there is nothing that is more boring than spending my work day creating and updating project documentation. Maybe that is why I have so many Slashdot comments over the past few weeks.
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Journal: 503 Service Unavailable

Journal by lucabrasi999

Well, I have started a new project. I ended my project in the Chicago area and now, I'm located down in the Virginia Beach/Newport News area. You would think, based on the location, that I would be working for a defense industry client. Shockingly enough, there is private industry in this araa of the United States. My client is a pretty big wholesaler.

Consulting is such a wild business sometimes. I left a really screwed up place and now, although these folks have issues, I'm actually enjoying myself. Of course, I have only been here three weeks. All that I've been doing here is generating Visio diagrams and developing documentation templates. That's right, I said templates. I'm not even generating documentation yet. I just have to find examples and maybe change the examples around a bit to fit this client's requirements. What a great gig!

I still miss my kid. Last week, I left the house at 8:30pm Sunday. He started to cry as I walked out the door (the kid is only one year old). It really broke my heart. When I came home around 8pm Thursday night, he had the huge smile and hugged me (he still can't talk).

In June, we had a great vacation on Hilton Head Island, SC. One of our best vacations in a very long time. Although, I doubt we'll go back there any time soon. It is really humid in South Carolina. Too humid. Next year, my wife and I are thinking of coastal Maine. Until the rugrat gets a little older, we're probably going to stay in the United States. However, once he gets to be a teenager, I want to take him overseas.

Anyway, gotta get back to work. I'm typing this as I run searches for types of documents. Once I find an example each document, I save it to my hard drive. Since typing this journal entry takes some time, it's probably better if I just get back to work.

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.

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