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User Journal

Journal Journal: Holy Cow Apple are Total Fucks 6

So I'm playing with this antique iMac because whee shit and I'm trying to download the 1GB developer tools DMG and Apple sure makes it a gigantic pain in the arsehole, don't they? You can't just download the URL with wget without rigamarole which I haven't gone through yet. I can't actually load the site in Safari at all because of some kind of https error. And my download just failed somehow in the last seconds, which means I get to download it all over again. And then it may fail again. Other downloads are working fine, it's just Apple that's incompetent here somehow.

This is the kind of thing that convinces me that anyone who gives Apple money is either a moron or a masochist. Luckily, I got this machine for free, so all I'm wasting is time.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Sixteen: The Final Chapter 2

It's that time of year again. The time of year when everyone and their dog waxes nostalgic about all the shit nobody cares about from the year past, and stupidly predicts the next year in the grim knowledge that when the next New Year comes along nobody will remember
that the dumbass predicted a bunch of foolish shit that turned out to be complete and utter balderdash. I might as well, too. Just like I did last year (yes, a lot of this was pasted from last year's final chapter).

Some of these links go to /., S/N, mcgrewbooks.com, or mcgrew.info. Stories and articles meant to ultimately be published in a printed book have smart quotes, and slashdot isn't smart enough for smart quotes. Reviews for The Golden Book of Springfirld and Black Bead were front page articles at Soylent News only, and not a journal.

As usual, first, the yearly index:
Random Scribblings
the Paxil Diaries

Useful Dead Technologies Redux
The Old Sayings Are Wrong
How to digitize all of your film slides for less than ten dollars
GIMPy Text
The 2016 Hugo convention

Santa Killed My Dog!
My Generation 21st Century

Book reviews
Stephen King, On Writing
Vachel Lindsay, The Golden Book of Springfield
J. D. Lakey, Black Bead

Scince Fiction:
Wierd Planet
The Muse
Dewey's War
The Naked Truth
The Exhibit
Trouble on Ceres

Last years' stupid predictions (and more):

Last year I said I wasn't going to predict publication of Voyage to Earth and Other Stories, and I was right, it's nearly done. So this year I do predict that Voyage to Earth and Other Stories will be published. I'm waiting for Sentience to come back from Motherboard, who's been hanging on to it since last February. I may have to e-mail them and cancel the submission if it isn't back by this February
I'll also hang on to last year's predictions;
Someone will die. Not necessarily anybody I know...
SETI will find no sign of intelligent life. Not even on Earth.
The Pirate Party won't make inroads in the US. I hope I'm wrong about that one.
US politicians will continue to be wholly owned by the corporations.
I'll still be a nerd.
You'll still be a nerd.
Technophobic fashionista jocks will troll slashdot (but not S/N).
Slashdot will be rife with dupes.
Many Slashdot FPs will be poorly edited.
Slashdot still won't have fixed its patented text mangler.
Microsoft will continue sucking
And a new one: DONALD TRUMP WILL (gasp) BE PRESIDENT IF THE us!!! God help us all! (He can't possibly be worse than George H. Bush or James Buchanan, can he?)

Happy New Year! Ready for another trip around the sun?

User Journal

Journal Journal: 2016, the WOAT?

Was 2016 the Worst Of All Time?

Eh, that's debatable. I like to think of it as a finale, in a trilogy. 2013 was the preview.

2013 was mired in 6 weddings I had to either be in or attend. I hate weddings like I hate country music, or having a doctor touch your balls during a physical. So that year was awful. Work wasn't particularly great, though I did get an award out of it.

2014 was a horrid year. The Lady was working a job she hated, being treated like a slave. So she transfered that energy onto me. We had the dog. That was terrible. Then the attempt at other animals. She got into CRNA school, but was diagnosed with Meniere's disease shortly thereafter, causing massive disruption for the rest of both of our lives. The sex started dying out in 2014 too.

2015 was a lot of dealing with Meniere's and the drama of school. Combining the two was a nightmare as well. More stupid animal bullshit. But she did find yoga and meditation and became a better person. Still, not much sex. And she was also diagnosed with Celiac's. This was the year I started school too, so while I gained a sense of purpose, I forfeited probably a couple years off my life too. So it goes.

2016. That brings us to this year. While we've kind of been coasting, there have been bouts of wanting to quit school. Feeling like she can't and shouldn't be a CRNA. Lot's of sick days. Presidential election all year. Football team doing good enough to get my hopes up, but no good enough to make me proud. Trump winning the election. And one of the most stressful semesters + work projects in recent memory. So that's how 2016 went.

And just recently, I decided to try and upgrade Ubuntu from 14.04 to 16.04. Well, that crashed and burned. So I was left with the option to install a new OS or throw my computer away and never look at the internet again. While the latter was tempting, I decided to try installing Arch Linux. That took longer than I wanted and I was having some trouble. I would like to try again, when I have some time. Possibly after graduation. But I gave up and went back to my long-time favorite, Debian.

I had it up and running in no time, with a few minor tweaks. For one, I didn't get the wireless card's firmware installed so my CPU was going crazy looking for it until I got it installed after the fact. Now everything's happy. Except my screen resolution on XFCE kinda looks like ass and makes my eyes hurt. I don't know what to change it to though.

So anyway, that's my year.

But everyone posting the "Me at the beginning of 2016 vs. me at the end" memes... what's their point? Like 2017 is going to be any better? If anything, I can see 2017 being way worse. I'm really not expecting much. My money is on 2018. Because that's when I graduate and become a data scientist and also will be going on another metal cruise. So that year can't be all bad.

Anyway, that's all I got. Passed Bayesian Statistics and Intro to Data Sci. About ready to start Time Series Analysis and Data Viz. Also about ready to release my mobile app. Pretty stoked for that (once I get it working ffffffuuuuuuu------!!!!!!).

Ok, I'm going to continue setting up this new OS. grumble grumble grumble.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Santa Killed My Dog!

They say that Santa's coming,
He comes 'round every year.
He comes he'll meet a shotgun slug
'cause he ain't welcome here.

Five years ago this Christmas
The fatass came around
With jingle bells and ho ho hos
And looking like a clown.

He came in for a landing
As I let out a yawn
My house is pretty little
So he landed on the lawn.

I didn't have the time to yell
As he came in through the fog;
He came in fast and and came down hard
And landed on my dog.

He looked around all furtive like
As I reached for my gun,
Then jumped in sleigh, yelled âoegiddie upâ
And took off on the run.

And so, that fatassed bastard
Better stay away from here
'cause ever since he killed my dog
I have no Christmas cheer.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Greetings, Comrade

Now that Donald Trump is our Supreme Leader, I guess I should start learning Russian.

Right now, all I know is Na Zdorovje. It's a start. On the bright side, I've always wanted to write a depressing 800 page novel. I'll find a silver lining to this election yet.

All kidding aside, that intro was just to bate the trolls into trying to bate me. Since my last journal was such a success with the anonotrolls, I figure just mentioning the DJT name will stir up a few. And notably, they don't actually read your post. They just comment, like turds. Probably because they're being paid by Russia. Anyway.

I'm currently running an MCMC for some real-world data. So that's kind of exciting, but I'm doing it on a p6-2330 dual core with 6GB RAM. It's crawling. I'm lucky I'm able to also use a browser. For this project, I've had to choose - do I want Chrome, or RStudio with my data loaded? Take your pick. Lately, I feel like I'm falling into despair. Not because of Trump (though that doesn't help), but because of this fucking hat trick I'm trying to pull off. Passing two classes (with style!) and my work project is teetering on the edge of failure for all three.

Not to mention, I feel like I'm not even myself anymore. I just stumble through the day, ticking off things that need to be done. Doing nothing I want to do, or need to do for myself, beyond drinking and eating and putting on weight.

Afer this shit is over, I'm defininitely getting back in shape. I'll do another Spartan Race. I hate being fat. Ok, I'll stop complaining. Time for the trolls to do their job. Annnnd, go. Aft
User Journal

Journal Journal: Trouble on Ceres 11

I'm not even bothering to paste it, since slashdot would render it unreadably, so I'll just sent you to mcgrew.info.

I really wish they'd fix that horrible bug...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Fuck 12

Donald Trump is President-elect of the United States. There, that explains the title.

I've been sucked into politics for the last year, mostly by design of the media machine that started this fucking godawful election back in 2015. They built this monster, but the Dems turned him lose. I really sincerely thought that Clinton was headed toward an easy victory and that Trump would tear the GOP apart. But instead, now the Dems are being torn apart and the GOP owns both houses of congress, the presidency, and at least one supreme court seat. So yeah. Fuck.

I'm going to lay down my predictions (based not off of data but purely gut, so take it for what its worth) and we'll see how I do in a few years:

1. Trump doesn't finish his presidency. Either by way of stepping down or impeachment, he doesn't make it 4 years.
2. He doesn't build a wall, doesn't scrap Obamacare, doesn't appoint a special prosecutor to jail Hillary, doesn't ban all Muslims and doesn't deport all current illegal immigrants. Also doesn't rebuild a bunch of factories and coal mines either. Mostly because none of that is really feasible.
3. He will get much tougher on immigration and make life harder for people who have moved her or want to move here.
4. He will make some economic and trade decisions that won't be felt until after his (hopefully less than 4-year) presidency.
5. He will ease regulations on the energy industry that will cause irreparable damage to our planet. But he won't be around to see the effects, as Florida, Louisiana, California, and New York are slowly submerged underwater.
6. Already happening: Racism, xenophobia, and bigotry have been given the thumbs up by putting the supreme leader of all of that into the highest office in the land.

The rest is a mystery and I don't think even the GOP knows what he's going to do. It'll be a watch and wait game, and it's a shitty game.

In tech news, I'm slogging through my project. I don't know if I'll get it done in time. I fucking hope so. I need a win. I haven't had a win in a long time.

Bayesian Statistics is a tough class, but I'm learning a ton. I feel like I still haven't quite wrapped my head around some of the foundational principles yet. I'm going to come back to this when I get more time though.

Really, that's about all I want to talk about. It's late and I need to get to bed so I can continue work on the mobile app. So much left to do.

Hope I'm not reading this from a camp in a few years!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Hey there, Fuckface in 2020

Yes, you. I hope you're sittin' pretty high on the metaphorical (or physical, what do I care) hog. I'll keep this short, but I've noticed that in my 10+ years of Slashdot-journalling, there's one thing I can count on: I never expect this entry to last quite so long, nor do I expect myself to live quite so long. So, let's see who outlives who.


Anyway, if you can read this, 2020 karniv0re, you're in one of 3 states:

1. Super rich and totally banging models because your gf was like "Whatevs" and you have money and it's the future and WHATEVER DUDE
2. Pretty similar to now - still in school because you decided to do a PhD because you hadn't had enough of the pain, and because you think it's your one road to, er, being something.
3. In a prison somewhere. What have you done. Also, how are you reading this. Do you have internet?! WTF?! Our prison system is a joke.

I suppose there's all the other inconsequential scenarios in there too, but who has time or cares about that. Seriously, pick one or get out of the way. Preferably 1 or 2. Try to avoid 3.


P.S. 2030 karniv0re. Dude. How gross are your balls right now? As a vestige of the past, I am holding my balls whilst typing this right now. Hopefully that lets some youth time travel.

Anyway, I'm sure you're super smart and better than me at a lot of things. I just hope I'm doing my best to get you to where you are. Time is a cruel mistress and she don't give no fucks. Let's do our best in spite of her.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Agorophobia 2

âoeSay, Ed! How was your trip? Lager?â
        âoeHi, John. Yeah, Iâ(TM)ll have a lager. The whole trip was lousy, a journey through hell all the way.â
        âoeDidn't you fly Green-Osbourne?â
        âoeWell, yeah.â
        The bartender swore; he was a wealthy man who owned the bar he was tending and quite a bit of Green-Osbourne Transportation Company stock as well. âoeWhat went wrong on the trip?â
        âoeThose stupid talking robots. God but I hate those things.â
        The bartender laughed. âoeEverybody does.â
        âoeWhy do you have them talking, then?â
        âoeAdvertising and engineering want to point out our superior technology, including AI.â
        âoeWell, it's too much A and not much I at all. Those things are really stupid.â
        John snickered. He hated talking robots, too, but had been voted down at board meetings. The tendbot he used when it got too busy for a single bartender to easily handle heâ(TM)d special ordered, with no voice, only screen printouts and beeps. Most people thought talking robots were creepy.
        âoeWell, look, Ed, they canâ(TM)t really think. Programmers just use humansâ(TM) built-in anthropomorphism and animism. It's a parlor trick, one of our engineers explained it to me once. So what did the stupid thing do?â
        âoeIt was dinner time, the first night of the trip. I'd bought a business class ticket and somehow wound up on a first class flight... Say, did you have something to do with that?â
        John just smiled. âoeGo on, Ed, what did the stupid robot do?â
        Ed gave John a funny look and continued. âoeWell, I'd never had pork before. I thought it must be extra tasty, considering how ridiculously expensive it is.â
        âoeWell, it's environmental regulations.â
        âoeSure, it's why Earth buys all its ores from space miners. Mining is pretty much illegal on Earth, because poisonous pollution from mining, farming, industry, and transportation nearly ruined the Earth's ability to sustain life a couple of centuries ago. It... Oh wow. Want to get rich, Ed?â
        âoeNot particularly, why?â
        âoeSomeone will. We should build hog domes and farm pigs in them, and sell the pork to Earthians. Iâ(TM)d do it but Iâ(TM)m way too busy, what with Green-Osbourne, the bar, the brewery, and the farm I grow beer ingredients in.â
        âoeWell, I'll talk to a few folks. It would help Marsâ(TM) economy. Fill me up, John,â he said, sliding his glass across the bar. âoeUh, what were we talking about?â
        âoePork and robots.â
        âoeYour trip.â
        âoeOh, yeah, pork. Why is it so expensive?â
        âoeLike I said, environmental regulations. They almost made Earth unlivable a couple hundred years ago. Pigs are just too nasty to ranch more than a dozen or so in any one place there.â
        âoeWell, Earth was damned filthy, thatâ(TM)s for sure. Almost as dirty as it was heavy. Anyway, porkâ(TM)s way too expensive for me. I wouldnâ(TM)t even be able to afford pork on Earth, let alone on Mars, so since I had a first class ticket and meals were covered, I wanted to try pork. So I told the servebot I wanted ham and beans.
        âoeThe stupid thing said there was no âHammond beanâ(TM) listed in its database. So I said âNo, you stupid junk pile, ham, and, beans.â(TM) It said âThe word hamand is not in my database.â(TM) stupid thing.â
        John grinned. âoeSo what did you do?â
        âoeWhat could I do? I ordered a barbecued pork steak. It was really good! But the damned robots annoyed me like that the whole trip. The very next morning I felt like a turkey cheese omelette so I ordered one. The stupid robot said âThere are no Turkish cheeses listed in the database.â(TM) So I said âA turkey omelette with cheese.â(TM) So it says âthere are no Turkish omelette dishes listed in the database.â(TM) Stupid computer.
        âoeSo I said âI want a cheese omelette with turkey meat. A turkey omelette has nothing to do with the country called Turkey...â(TM) Whatâ(TM)s so damned funny, John?â
        John was laughing uproariously. âoeExactly the same thing happened to Destiny when we first came here, only the computer was printing it out instead of talking. Let me guess, it said âParse error, please rephraseâ(TM).â
        âoeYep, exactly. So I said I wanted an omelette with turkey meat, and it goes âThere is no meat that has come from that country listed in the database.â(TM) dumb machine! So I says âTurkey the bird, damn it!â(TM) it said...â
        âoeIt said âParse error, please rephrase,â(TM) didnâ(TM)t it?â John interrupted.
        âoeSure did. So I asked what meats were available for omelettes. It said pork, chicken, duck, turkey, and beef. So I said âA cheese omelette with turkey meat.â(TM) the idiotic thing repeated âThere is no meat from that country.â(TM) Iâ(TM)ll tell you, John, that damned thing was really making me mad by then. I finally said âDamn it, computer, I want a cheese omelette with bird meat.â(TM) it said âPlease name the bird.â(TM) I told it turkey and finally got my breakfast.â
        âoeThereâ(TM)s a trick to it,â John said. âoeTell it you want a cheese and turkey omelette and it wonâ(TM)t give you any trouble. If you would have asked for navy beans and ham you would have gotten your ham and beans. Like I said, they donâ(TM)t really think.â
        âoeNo kidding. That must the dumbest computer I ever saw. Well, the tendbot in the commons may have been even more stupid. It didnâ(TM)t know what a Cardinal was.â
        John groaned. âoeEd, thatâ(TM)s strictly the Martian name for that drink. Everybody else calls them Bloody Marys.â
        âoeOh. Why do they call them that?â
        âoeBecause thatâ(TM)s what they were called for hundreds of years before anybody ever came here, before they had space travel, even. Before your ancestors ever left earth.â
        âoeSo why do we call then Cardinals then?â
        âoeFrank Harris was responsible for the name. He was a farmer who came here from Earth and started growing tomatoes, under the âCardinalâ(TM) brand.â
        âoeBut why cardinal?â
        âoeThereâ(TM)s a bright red Earthian bird called a cardinal, so he named the bright red tomatoes after the bird. Bartenders here had never had a Bloody Mary before, because nobody here had tomatoes before Hardy brought them. So when they thought they had invented a tomato drink, they named it after the brand of tomatoes.â
        âoeHow do you know all this stuff?â
        âoeMy wifeâ(TM)s a history buff. Sheâ(TM)s been getting me interested in it, too. So what happened after you got to Earth?â
        âoeOh, man, it was pure hell, painful torture and terror. You know I've only been off Mars a few times in my life, mostly to Ceres or an asteroid dome out in the belt. But Earth... oh man. It was nothing like I'd ever experienced before. Or even imagined, it was horrible!â
        âoeFirst was the weight! That was part of what was wrong with the trip, when the robot was arguing about the turkey cheese omelette it was already getting really heavy. By the time we reached Earth I couldnâ(TM)t walk at all and had to use an electric chair to get around. How do those people live like that?â
        âoeEd, you should have been working out for months before going to Earth, especially since youâ(TM)ve never had more than Mars gravity.â
        âoeWell, I did walk.â
        âoeWalkingâ(TM)s not nearly enough.â
        âoeNo kidding, I couldnâ(TM)t even stand up there. Had to have a robot help me in and out of bed. It was torture!
        âoeWhy didn't you use a walker?â
        âoeYou have to have gravity close to Earth's to learn how to use one.â
        âoeBill Holiday uses one, and he's from Ceres. All the asterites grew up in less gravity than you did and he goes to Earth all the time, it's part of his job.â
        âoeHe would have had to train to use it, those things weigh over a hundred kilos counting the power, and training takes longer than I was going to be on Earth.
        âoeThe horrible weight was bad enough, but it was horribly scary there as well.â
        John grinned. He was an immigrant, who was born in St. Louis and had settled on Mars in late middle age. He hadn't thought of how it must be for a native-born Martian or Asterite on Earth. âoePretty scary, huh? I mean, not having a protective dome.â
        âoeWell, I've been outside the dome plenty of times, but being outside without an environment suit...â He shivered visibly. âoeGive me a shot of Scotch.
        âoeIt was night when we got there, and they used what seemed like they use here on Mars to connect the ship to the terminal. On Mars it's so passengers don't have to wear environment suits, but I don't know why they do it on Earth. Probably so us spacers would feel at home.â
        âoeWell, not really,â John said. âoeIt gets hot and cold there, and it rains. It's so passengers don't have to have coats and umbrellas. They were doing it like that before the first spacer dome was built.â
        âoeYeah, I found out about rain and cold the night I got there, and heat the next day. In the entrance way to the terminal there was a flash in a window and a loud boom a second or two later. I thought there had been an explosion.â
        âoeYeah, and it was really loud! I almost jumped out of my skin. Anyway, we rented a car and I told it to take us to our hotel for check-in, and the first lightning flash scared the hell out of me. It looked like a crack in the sky and made me feel like all the air would escape, and then the thunder. I've never heard anything so loud!â
        âoeYou should hear a chemical rocket with a heavy load taking off!â
        âoeI have, down here on Mars, and it's nowhere near as loud as thunder.â
        John laughed. âoeEd, there's hardly any air outside the dome. Haven't you noticed how much quieter it is outside the dome?â
        âoeThere's nothing out there to make noise.â
        âoeWell, if there was it wouldn't be loud.â
        âoeI guess. Anyway, parking at the hotel was outside, but the car dropped us off under an awning before it parked itself. Lightning flashed again, and it really gave me the willies. Then it thundered, even louder than it had before. It was so loud you could feel the sound. It was really scary!â He finished his beer and slid his glass to the other side of the bar. âoeFill 'er up, John!â
        John poured another beer for Ed as Ed continued his traveling horror story. âoeMan, all that water pouring out of the sky. It was really strange, and even the water was scary and I donâ(TM)t know why. And it was cold. Must have been under twenty.â
        âoeIt gets well below zero some places.â
        âoeHow do they live like that?â he repeated. âoeI was all right as long as I was inside, except that first night when it stormed. I hated that storm! I sure am glad we donâ(TM)t have anything like that on Mars!
        âoeThere was a bar in the hotel, thankfully, so I didnâ(TM)t have to go out until the next morning. But the storm scared the hell out of me.â
        âoeSo how did your meeting go?â
        âoeWell, I had to take the car there, meaning I had to be outside. It was fine in the dark, like a room with no lights turned on, but walking outside without an environment suit when you could see the sky really freaked me out. I finally told myself it was just a big blue dome.â
        âoeDid it work?â
        âoeNot really. It was really hard rolling around out there in my electric chair, and it was really hot outside! I never sweated before, and I hate it.
        âoeBut worse than that was bugs. Some of them bite. Some of the bugs they called âbutterfliesâ(TM) the Earthians thought were pretty. I thought they were creepy and scary.
        âoeAnd barking dogs. I never saw a dog before, and John, those things are scary as hell, just downright terrifying. And there are a whole lot of them there.â
        âoeOkay, how did the meeting go?â
        âoeLousy. Between the weight and the storm I didnâ(TM)t sleep well. And the weight, the bugs, the dogs, the outside, the heat, the storm, all of it had me so rattled I couldnâ(TM)t think straight, and we didnâ(TM)t get the contract, DA2 did. At least it was a friendâ(TM)s dome.
        âoeGive me another shot, John. Man, but Iâ(TM)m glad to be back home here on Mars. Earth sucks. Now I know what people mean by âhell on Earthâ(TM). Earth is hell!â
        John grinned again. âoeSo... I take it youâ(TM)re not going back?â

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Exhibit 4

(Non-borked version is at my web log. Slashdot, please fix your buggy code!)

        The entire universe was turned inside out and upside down and completely backwards today, and I must have been the only one to see it. It all started with an innocent looking email.

        I get a lot of emails like this one, except that the noteâ(TM)s subject line looked like a headline from the National Enquirer, or maybe The Onion. It read âoeArchaeologists Find Twenty Five Million Year Old iPhone.â Misaddressed, maybe? But it was a press release for an art exhibit.

        A few minutes after I set the mail aside is when it hit me; the fellow who sent the email had mentioned that heâ(TM)d seen my work before and knew Iâ(TM)d written about art and wanted me to see his exhibit. I had written a story, one story, ten years earlier, and the paper hadnâ(TM)t published it.

        I printed it out and went to see Frank, my boss.

        âoeWhatâ(TM)s up, Stan?â he asked.

        âoeI just got the strangest emailâ I said, handing him the printout. He read it.

        âoeSo whatâ(TM)s so weird, Stan? You must get these every day!â

        âoeWhatâ(TM)s weird is that yeah, Iâ(TM)m working on that story about the city museum, but I havenâ(TM)t even finished researching it and barely have an outline, and I only wrote one other art thing, and it was never published!â

        âoeHuh, that is weird. Why donâ(TM)t you go down and check the place out?â

        âoeYou know, Frank, I think I will. Maybe Iâ(TM)ll get a fun story out of it.â

        It was here in town, 568 Broadway, up in the eleventh floor. It was only about a fifteen minutes ride on the subway, and I rode the elevator up.

        It looked like an Apple store, only it was as weird as the email. For instance, it had strange iPhone accessories, like a case with a built-in hourglass. It was like an Apple store in some twisted alternate dimension.

        I had expected to see Evan Yee, the artist behind the installation, but nobody was there at all. Also weird. I took a few photos and left, disappointed that I had gotten no story out of it.

        I went to the elevator, and there was no elevator. Instead, there was a door leading outside, at street level. I wondered if I was going crazy, and remembered the time my mother said she had a âoesenior momentâ. Maybe I was just getting old, but I was only forty five.

        I reached for my phone as I walked outside, thinking that maybe Iâ(TM)d get some sort of inspiration from the pictures, but it was gone. Damn, that phone cost six hundred dollars! I was glad Iâ(TM)d noticed so soon, and turned around to go in â" and it was an Apple store. Between losing my phone and my disorientation when I left the exhibit, I hadnâ(TM)t noticed that there hadnâ(TM)t been anyone outside.

        By now I was sure I was going crazy. I went in anyway, and there was my phone, laying on one of the counters. I picked it up, looked around, and the place looked nothing like it had before Iâ(TM)d left, although it still looked like a weird, twisted, dystopian Apple store.

        I left again, and the street and sidewalk were bright green. I just stood there a minute, kind of dazed, I guess. By then I was pretty sure Iâ(TM)d gone stark raving mad. Maybe I was having a stroke? I reached in my pocket to call for an ambulance, and my phone was gone. I could have sworn Iâ(TM)d stuck it in my pocket.

        I went back in, and it wasnâ(TM)t an Apple store any more, just an empty room with my phone laying on the floor. I picked it up and tried to call 911, but there was no signal. I went outside again to get a signal; lots of buildings suck for phones, and it was now night; it had been morning when Iâ(TM)d gone in.

        And there were two moons. Everything else was normal, but there were two moons in the sky and there were no people.

        And my phone was missing again! Next phone I buy is going to be a cheap one. I went back inside, and it was an Apple store again, this time like any other Apple store. Again there was no one there, and again my phone was on the counter. And again, I could get no signal. I firmly gripped it in my fist and walked outside...

        And confronted a monster! A giant animal, really huge, bigger than an elephant with huge teeth and claws and feathers. I screamed and ran back inside... a cave.

        And Iâ(TM)d dropped my phone outside in my fright. Not that it seemed to work any more, anyway. Or that it mattered, since I had clearly gone insane.

        But I couldnâ(TM)t just sit in the cave. I waited a long time to make sure the monster was gone, then peeked outside. No monsters, and no phone. I went back in, I donâ(TM)t know why, and there was my phone laying on a large rock. I put it in my pocket, and noticed the cave had changed. It was huge before, now little more than an indentation in the rock face.

        I went back out, and it looked like New York in the early twentieth century, except there were no people. I hadnâ(TM)t seen a soul since Iâ(TM)d started this ordeal, except for the monster.

        And my phone was gone again. I turned around, and the Apple storeâ(TM)s sign read âoeBell Telephoneâ. I went inside and there was a bank of antique switchboards, all unmanned. My phone was laying on one.

        I put it back in my pocket and walked back out. I donâ(TM)t think Iâ(TM)ve ever been as worried and scared in my life, especially when Iâ(TM)d seen the huge, weird looking animal. This time the streets and signs of civilization were gone, and a group of wigwams was there where New York City had been before.

        I was shaking. I sat down on a log, put my face in my hands and cried like a baby. I felt like one, lost like no lost child had ever been lost before.

        Cried out, I sat and tried to think of a way out of the mess Iâ(TM)d somehow gotten myself into. The only thing I could think of was going back into the wigwam.

        There was a room filled with some very strange looking machinery, machinery Iâ(TM)d never seen before and had an idea that no one else had either. And there were people there this time! Two women, a blonde and a brunette, both wearing extremely strange looking clothing, intently poring over a complex-looking gizmo that looked like it was from some science fiction movie, and didnâ(TM)t notice my entry. I stood there speechless.

        âoeWe almost had him!â one of the women exclaimed. âoeIn the right dimension and we almost had him in the right time. It would have taken only one more minute. If heâ(TM)d just sat still a little longer!â

        âoeI canâ(TM)t find when he is now. This thing is being extra finicky today,â the other woman remarked.

        âoeExcuse me,â I said, âoeBut would someone please call 911? I think Iâ(TM)ve had a stroke or something.â

        They both whirled around at the same time. The blonde said âoeOh, no, heâ(TM)s now!â

        The brunette said âoeIt will be all right, sir. Please, take your phone and wait in the hallway until it rings. Thereâ(TM)s a comfortable chair out there.â

        âoeWhatâ(TM)s going on?â I asked.

        The blonde said âoeIâ(TM)m sorry, we canâ(TM)t say anything more without fouling things up even worse than they already are. Please, your world will be normal in a few minutes, just listen for your phone.â

        âoeUh, okay, I guess,â I said, and took my phone outside and sat down.

        Maybe fifteen minutes later I heard my ring tone, and it was coming from inside the office. I looked in my pocket and my phone was gone again.

        I wondered if someone at work could have spiked my coffee with some hallucinogen, but no... nobody at the office would have done such a thing. I sighed, wondering what strangeness I was going to see next, and went in.

        I was back at the art exhibit, and again, no one was there. I picked up the phone to answer it, but all that came out of it were some strange noises. I hung up, and I was getting a signal again! I called my boss.

        âoeWhere have you been?â Frank asked.

        âoeI got lost. I may have had a stroke or something, Iâ(TM)m going to the doctor to get checked out. Iâ(TM)ll call when Iâ(TM)m done to let you know.â

        âoeWell, I hope youâ(TM)re all right. Iâ(TM)ll talk to you later.â


        I walked hesitantly out into the hallway, and the chair and door to the outside the building were gone, with the elevators taking its place. I pushed the button, and when the car came I stepped in gingerly wondering what would happen when I got outside.

        Outside the building everything seemed normal again, with the throngs of people and noise of vehicular traffic. I hailed a cab and took the taxi to the hospital, where they took my vitals and did a brain scan and some psychological tests. The doctor said everything looked normal, but my blood pressure was a little high and I should make an appointment with my regular doctor.

        I took the subway back to the office. As I waited for the elevator, Doris, an editor, walked upâ"and she had red hair. Oh, no, I thought. âoeYour hair!â I said, scared again.

        âoeLike it?â she said. âoeI was tired of being a blonde so I dyed it last night.â

        I could have hugged her. We took the elevator up and I went to see Frank.

        âoeFrank, do you mind having someone else check out that exhibit? I donâ(TM)t think I could give them a fair revue.â

        Frank said I looked really pale and should go home, so I went home early. I couldnâ(TM)t get this weird day out of my mind, so I just wrote it down.

        Of course, Iâ(TM)m not putting this in the paper. Maybe Iâ(TM)ll send it to a science fiction magazine under an assumed name, because thereâ(TM)s no way anyone could believe it wasnâ(TM)t fiction.

        But Iâ(TM)m getting a new phone tomorrow.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Miscellany Across the Spectrum

I don't have anything terribly specific to write about, but lots of little things.

Looking back nearly two years ago provides a pretty good picture of where I'm at. This tidbit from November of 2014 provides some insight:

After re-reading my last journal entry, man. This year has sucked. Shit was bleak.

That was from a journal entry titled Things Are Looking Up. But things never went up. I never got that architect position, and no more than a week later, the lady fell sick with Meniere's, which has been the centerpiece of our lives ever since.

Since then, it's been a war of attrition to see whether we can outlast our problems or if our problems outlast us.

I did end up going back to school, and I'm still in school. It's been a mixed bag of good and bad. I'm glad I'm learning things, and I'm glad I'm progressing toward a degree. I hate how much stress it causes me and how much time it eats up. I'm getting super out of shape because I don't have time to workout. I haven't been to the gym in probably about a year. I still run when I can, but it's not enough to counteract the booze and comfort food. I have cut back a bit on drinking. I don't keep bourbon around anymore. My regular mix of a couple beers and a couple manhattans from 2015 was slowly killing me. So I'm down to around 2-4 beers a night. Not great, but better.
I actually don't like being drunk anymore. I associate it with bad times now. So now, I prefer to be sober but still drink beers. It's a balance I guess. I expect that as I get older, and stress goes down (hopefully!), I'll drink even less.

But 2014 - 2018 (possibly even into 2019) maybe the most stressful years of my life. I feel like I can't relax until the Lady is done with school, boards passed, job acquired, and has been working for at least a year. In a way, I'm kind of glad 2016 is nearly over. I put this year on the calendar as a year to "get through." There were no incentives this year to speak of. None to look forward to.

I moved back over the the Glass Palace, giving up my awesome old cube and nice place in the company for a more anonymous role. Although it wasn't a great role there either. But at least I could focus on school. Now I've got a project due AND two classes. It's killing me. If I make it through this semester, I'm not sure what other challenges you could throw at me that would be tougher. I mean, I shouldn't say that. I thought I was being challenged a year ago with my Probability Models class. But Bayesian Stats + Data Science + work project + girlfriend with health issues is pretty much maxing me out.

Do I even need to mention how terrible the election has been? But I can't look away. It's such a fucking trainwreck. It also makes me question if I'm really a good person. I've done plenty I'm not proud of. Who really is good anyway? We're all sacks of waste waiting to die and fertilize the soil.

Maybe I'll list some good news. I did talk with my old boss and he's interested in bringing me on his team. He runs the Data Science team here. So that would be some great experience for me, and a definite change of pace. I'm going to talk with our AVP here pretty soon about that and my final school project. I want to work on ETAs. I think that'll be a great project. And next semester I'm taking a Time Series Analysis class, which will help in that analysis.

It looks like I will be out of debt by (revision number 920442) bonus time in 2018. So a little over a year to go. We'll see what pops up along the way. Kind of annoying that I'll be 35 just getting out of debt. Ridiculous, actually. But this is where we're at.

I have been toying with the idea of getting a PhD but I really don't know. Seems like an awful lot of effort for those letters. But I know it'd be huge for me. I'll probably continue to ponder it through 2017. Leaving it on the table.

But for now, I have a mobile app to build. I have roughly two weeks to put the finishing touches on the code. Time to earn my bonus.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Best simple SID to USB connection? 3

That may not be a good way to describe it but... I have a C64 I never use and I think I shall desolder its SID before consigning it to recycling since they are now officially hard to come by. What can I put it on that will let me use it efficiently?

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Journal Journal: The lameness filter is broken (again) 13

Your comments "spectacularly brain-damaged suggestion" and "drug-fueled" are why I consider your post troll like.

The above quote rendered one of my comments unpostable...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Growing in Data Science

I'm taking two classes this semester. Stepping it up from the single-class semesters. I think it'll be ok though. I'm in Intro to Data Science and Bayesian Statistics. Man, a year ago, I was so excited to be in a DS class. And now, here I am, and it feels like bush league. It's because I've been studying this stuff so intensely for the last year, doing things the right way, no shortcuts, doing my own research, listening to DS podcasts, etc. I'm not terribly surprised when our professor is talking about reproducible research using Knitr. Got it, dude. I've been rolling with RMarkdown for at least a semester, and LaTeX even longer.

And despite how it sounds, I'm trying NOT to be a know-it-all. But it's hard. Because I've all the things we're learning in this class are things I've been doing on my own in other classes. So I'm just trying to keep my mouth shut and try to learn a thing or two. And I have! In learning R, I've skipped over a lot of the programming language aspects of it. I read somewhere, R is meant to be learned in tandem with statistics. So that's what I've been doing. And in doing so, I've skipped a lot of the fundamental programming language stuff that I would normally learn when learning any other language. So now's a good time to start picking that stuff up.

But to the title of this post, we've got a semester-long project we have to work on, and on a long run today, I was thinking about project ideas. Then I got to thinking about why it's so hard to come up with good DS projects. Here is my attempt to explain this, which can be used as a catalyst to explain why data science will never be fully automated, at least until we have artificial creativity (still a long way from reality).

1) There are two high level purposes of machine learning - classification and prediction.

So far so good. I think we can all agree on this. We're either trying to put things in buckets or guess what the next value is going to be. Of course it gets a lot more complicated when you dive in, but at the high level, that's it.

2) There are 5 types of predictions we can make (I came up with these off the top of my head while on a run, so don't take this as gospel).
2a) Natural phenomena - weather, stock market, global economies.
2b) Human phenomena - Baseball players hitting home runs, football teams winning the Super Bowl, how much I will weigh next year, will you click this ad, will you buy this product
2c) Social phenomena - Presidential elections, who you might want to follow on Twitter, Data Scientist wages
2d) Games of chance - Poker, Blackjack, dice, flipping coins
2e) Games of strategy - Literally any board game with multiple players

(There are almost certainly others, but this is seriously all I can think of and it makes sense to me)

Furthermore, there are three stages to data science (ONCE AGAIN, MAKING THIS UP AS I GO):

I) Asking questions, designing the problem
II) Modeling the problem, delivering results
III) Making decisions on those results

I am coming to the conclusion that data science doesn't spend enough time on I and III. It focuses so much on II, the technical side, that it forgets to even teach us to ask questions or tell anyone why the model is useful. And maybe in many scenarios, the business teams, managers, VPs and CEOs perform I and/or III. But I am somehow in a position where I need to prove why DS is useful. All the technical knowledge in the world ain't gonna make that happen. I need to be able to apply it. So really, I and III are about advertising ourselves, somewhat. Machine Learning without purpose is just a cool parlor trick. But use it to answer a really a good question and then perform some action to make life better, and you're a superhero.

So anyway, that was my key insights today as I hauled in 8 miles. If I'm way off on this shit, let me know in the comments.

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