January 31, 2006

Senioritis?


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Welcome home take off your coat,
it’s been years since we last spoke,
it’s been too long.

-Matthew Walker - “Anymore”

It has indeed been a long time. I’m not even going to try to catch things up, at least not now, especially considering that by now, with my extended hiatus, I’ve more than likely managed to alienate what small readership I actually had anyways. Those who’ve been interested have kept up regardless.

No, this isn’t to catch up. This is me using this site the way I originally intended: as a place to write the things that come to my mind that I otherwise wouldn’t write down, and would ever be lost to my violently non-eidetic mind. I’m digressing.

In my younger more impressionable years, I happened to catch a relatively lazy bit of national television journalism that has yet to leave me since. The piece was on a software engineer working in Silicon Valley (during the height of the dot com bubble of course), a position I’ll soon share (at least temporarily with Apple Computer for the uninformed). What made this particular engineer unique from the flock that has taken root there was his singular method of living for a member of the technorati. Every day, after work, this man would brave San Francisco’s traffic holocaust, and proceed quite a ways out of the city, into the mountains, and onto his farm, where he quietly lived in a small ranch house complete with goats, crops, and all the other amenities a well-paid professional seeking to build a facade of country simplicity could want.

At the time I thought only in passing of the juxtaposition in the man’s life. The themes of escapism, luddism, and underlying message that all may not be right in technological paradise eluded me, yet the picture remained. Having spent 4 years, countless hours, innumerable late nights, and god-knows how many lost opportunities for social growth to the pursuit of what this man had, but found unsatisfying, I find the image much more pressing. Perhaps even frightening.

The thing is… I appreciate simplicity. One of the happiest times I’ve had was spent alone, on a motorcycle, with some clothes, a tent, a sleeping bag, and a stove, and miles of country roads. My friend D has told me of some times he spent in small villages in Fiji, where the people are villagers - not engineers, blacksmiths, butchers, farmers nor teachers, but villagers - and it sounds amazing. “When someone needs a house, the villagers come together and build them a house,” he tells me. Sure, sounds great, lets check the zoning, make sure everything is up to code, and double-check that we can get a tax write-off while we’re at it. Simplicity, goddammit! Make what you need, sell what you don’t, buy what you can’t!

We Americans are so quick to consider ourselves so amazingly lucky to have been born to such wealth and abundance, and why shouldn’t we? We’re on top! We’re number 1! It may not last, but who cares? Forward-thinking has never really been our strong suit. No, our disadvantages our less obvious, more institutionalized. It’s hard to see the problem while we eat our fast-food, watch our 100 channels of Television, listen to our shiny MP3 players, watch porn on our cell phones (thanks Soloway), and fall farther and farther from my image of humanity. Of course there are plenty of societies trying to emulate and assimilate, so I’m probably just wrong.

Or maybe I just need a vacation.

Posted by MrWonton at 2:52 am | Comments (51)

February 04, 2005

Illumination


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I have headlights again. People will stop flashing their lights conscientiously at me as I drive blindly around the shrouded streets of Marlborough… damn helpful bastards.

Last night 11 Intel co-ops and I went to Boston and ushered for Blue Man Group, or rather, 9 of them ushered, 2 others and I talked to random people through tubes. If you haven’t been to a Blue Man Group show, they use a lot of tubes, and have the theaters filled with them. Before the show, some of them talk to you… and that was my job. We tubetalkers were stuck in a back room with a large black wooden board reminiscent of early telephone switchboards. Where you’d expect wires were an array of color coded tubes that corresponded to a colored floorplan of the theater. From our “switchboard” we could listen to people milling around in the theater, and try to get them to come up to the tubes and talk to us. We came up with some pretty funny stuff that really only makes sense after you’ve been shouting into a wall of tubes at strangers for about an hour. After that we got some rather nice free seats for the show. Afterwards we had to help clean up the 2 and a half odd miles of toilet paper that had flowed over the audience to the stage. Not too bad at all for tickets that were probably worth $40+.

Of course now I have a nice long weekend of being under 21 and surrounded by a bitter football rivalry (in Massachusetts, but working and living with quite a few devout Eagles fans) I really could care less about, the only tradition of which, drinking to excess, I can’t take part in. At least theres driving after dark to keep me busy. Hoo boy, nothing like cruising frozen “downtown” Marlborough. Sensing some animosity?

I went to New Hampshire today to drop off my roommate at the airport. I had no directions to get back, so I got a little lost for a bit, and just when I feared I may never find my way out of the NH Boonies, I happened across a site that alleviated all my fears: nestled in a valley, set in a haze of fog, was a mammoth Anheuser-Busch brewery! I knew then that there was no way that god, in his infinite wisdom, would allow a brewery of such epic proportions as this to be placed in a location that any drunk on a pilgrimage there wouldn’t be able to drunkenly drive themselves there and back from a freeway. Sure enough, I hadn’t gone another 2 miles before all my dilemma was solved. See politicians? Alcohol helps minors.

When I got back from my odyssey, I went back to work. For numerous reasons, I’ve been forced away from work quite often as of late, so I still had over an hour to work to get to my 40 hours for the week, which I wouldn’t feel right not attaining. I rolled into Intel a little past 6:30. This is on a Friday. The place still bustled with activity! Ok, maybe not bustled, but there were hundreds of people milling about working. I’m talking about engineers, most of whom are exempt (salaried), not to mention blessed with Flex-Time. Myself, I’d hate to be at work past 7 on a Friday if I’m not making any extra money, nor limited to working that specific time frame. Confusing…

After getting my 40 hours, I decided to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that, at least culinarily, I’m a 10th degree black-jew, that is to say I went to a delicious chinese restaurant and ate to excess from all 3 major food groups: General Tsao’s chicken, Fried Rice, and yeah, thats right, crab cheese Wontons.

I caught enough of the State of the Union address to be again frighteningly reminded about the talking disaster at the helm of this country. I found his pro-constitutional-gay-marriage-ban to be the most offensive of his allusions to our collective impending oppression, suffering, and inevitable doom. If he’s going to spout descriminatory rhetoric, I’d rather he stop half assing it and trade his finely tailored suits and ties for a nice white robe and hood with a few swastikas here and there; you know, make it blazingly clear where he stands. Other than that little indiscression, I thought he did a very convincing job pushing his disasterously unsound social security plan, and who doesn’t love his subtle hints that Syria and Iran have made his “naughty” list. Time to go kick some more Arabic ass eh Mr. President? We can always count on you sir.

Freedoms cannot be exported by tanks and planes, death and destruction.
-Mehdi Dakhlallah, Syria’s information minister
(more…)

Posted by MrWonton at 9:48 pm | Comments (4)

January 12, 2005

Working Life


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Practially internal...

I’m alive. I made it. I live in Marlborough, Massachusetts and I work for Intel. I’ve almost been here a week, and the whole situation still positively exudes surrealism.

On the way to work:

  • 2 miles of back roads
  • 1 stop sign
  • 1 stop light
  • 10 speed bumps
  • almost as far in the parking lot as on the roads
  • security

Marlborough is a sleepy residential town of about 36,000. Sadly its more reminiscent of South Haven than Ann Arbor, only without the beach and the people I know. Boston is about 30 minutes east, and there are a few interns at Intel that live there, which is a start…

That brings me to my job. I work at Intel Hudson, along with about 2,300 intelligent souls in a massive complex that houses two office buildings and a fab (where chips are manufactured). I’m one of about 30 interns there, many of which started this month as I did. I work in the MTV (Microprocessor Tools and Validation) group, and more specifically with what they call tools. I’m the only intern I know of doing such. I share a cubicle on the 3rd floor with an intern from Nigeria, and my computer. The computer has two gigantic IBM monitors, 2 gigs of ram, a 2.2 ghz processor, and a keyboard/mouse tray on a stalk that can be positioned anywhere around me. It runs Linux, but we can also use a remote Windows terminal. I’ve learned a lot in 3 days, and while I don’t really know what I’ll be doing (which is probably good, as its all confidential anyways), I know its all very very complex, very very acronym laden, and initially at least, quite confusing. I have a mentor and he does a lot to alleviate this, but its still a lot to absorb. There are classes and training going on all the time, and I already went to one session of a computer architecture course. The one I went to was all review from a class I had last semester, but they plan on covering more in a span of a mere week or two than we did all semester. Fast paced? It seems to be the norm. The “instructor” did wax metaphoric about trying to drink from a firehose, so perhaps all is not lost. Much more follows…
(more…)

Posted by MrWonton at 11:11 pm | Comments (5)

December 14, 2004

Payoff, however meager


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There are times when I seriously wonder if I picked the right major. Besides a few notable exceptions, most EECS people piss me off. Programming is fun and all, but after solving a particular problem in some amazing, insightful way, no one will understand or care. Its the epitome of thankless jobs in that respect. You can never tell non-CSers your accomplishments in any meaningful way. Of course, it does have its advantages, which became blatently apparant today… Mundane details linked below.

I went to the Campus Band concert on Sunday. I got hit with a violent wave of nostalgia for my band days, but I’m still glad they’re over. The band was great. Good job Katie.

School is hell. I’ve crammed so much time and work into the last week its insane, thanks largely to a certain EECS group partner who was miles away from pulling his own weight. The sad thing is how far I am from being done. I’ve still got math assignments, part of a program, 2 EECS exams on Thursday (beginning at 8 am on North Campus, god help me), and the real killer, 4 hours of math exams starting at 8 am on Monday. It really makes it blatently clear why I’m so ready to be out of here and at my new job.

If you’re looking for some new music, check out this site. They keep charts of indie bands, and you can download almost all of the top songs for free right from the site. Some of the music is damn good. Here are a few I’ve liked, in no particular order.

Here’s hoping my 2 weeks at home aren’t a complete disaster.

Testicleez! Another fine creation by the eminent Brandy Rumiez.
Brandy made this awesome picture after a conversation we had. Damn thats cool.

Warning, a healthy amount of boring mildly-technical crap follows. (more…)

Posted by MrWonton at 1:14 am | Comments (50)

September 09, 2004

You had me at plethora


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Sorry for the lack of updates. Its been a pretty busy time here in Ann Arbor.

I got my partying out of the way during welcome week, doing something interesting every night for 6 days straight.

My classes by and large are going to suck. Not because the material isn’t interesting, but because I’m quite sure I’m going to spend the next 3 months of my life severely inundated with work. I’ve got programming projects coming at me from all angles. I’ve got heaps of homework for both math classes, writing projects from my technical writing class, and a job! And yesterday morning I received an email from an engineer at Intel expressing interest in me for another co-op… !? The catch this time? Its many many many orders of magnitude cooler and better suited to me than the previous.

Instead of a job with the possibility for development, but mostly a position that entailed checking and writing documentation for some test servers, this position is in debugging the latest iteration of the Itanium processor! At the risk of sounding like I’m getting my hopes up about a position that I probably won’t get, and being vulgar at the same time, its practically a geek’s wet dream. Not only is this debugging a processor for Intel, but its the Itanium, which despite its relatively poor sales, is an amazing processor, for which I can speak first hand, having developed all my software over the summer on one. But perhaps the best part, is that the word ‘plethora’ was in the job description, as was ‘pesky’. Yeah, I’ll fit right in.

I’ve got an interview Monday. Let the freaking out begin.

So yes, the saga continues.

Posted by MrWonton at 9:26 pm | Comments (3)

July 19, 2004

Comcast Engineers are Girly-Men


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Its been 4 days since my problems with Comcast began, and two calls to customer support later, I’ve receieved no word that any progress is being made whatsoever. I am not pleased. As a paying customer it seems like I could at least get some word as to whats happening. I know the problem is not at my end, as its effecting everyone I know in my area with the service.

Apparantly theres a craze to bitch about foul-mouthed republicans lately. Instead of going off on a torrent about how Republicans are hate-filled foul-mouthed immature people, I feel it necessary to question the Media on this. Saturday, Schwarzenegger called democratic politicians who pander to special interests “girlie men,” referencing that old SNL sketch with Hanz and Franz the body builders. Apparantly that statement is offensive and “blatently homophobic.” Sure, I went along with the Cheney “Go fuck yourself” statement being in bad taste, but this is a joke. This is the governator making a joke about his own muscle-bloated body. Its funny. Laugh.

Are the Earnhardts the next Kennedys?

I find it interesting that more than one TV network claims to have come up with the idea of a wife swapping reality show. If that sort of thing went through my mind, I’d do whatever I could to deny it, and apologize if it ever became public. I guess I’d make a bad network executive.

The phrase “War is Hell” doesn’t fully capture the truth. Perhaps its more like Sociopath training school.

Oh well, time to relax, new Homestar.

Posted by MrWonton at 1:00 pm | Comments (4)

July 07, 2004

Your daily dose of dialectic


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I have returned from the isle of beaver. Its always nice to get out of the local setting and traipse around in the woods for awhile. It really clears the head.

While on the small island, which has a year-round population of 450, I happened upon someone who recognized me. The man, named Tristen, I have randomly ran into in South Haven, Spain, East Lansing, and somewhere else I can’t readily remember. And now Beaver Island. I’m not entirely sure how we happen to be in the same places at the same times, but its starting to get strange.

I’ve nearly finished Insomnia by Stephen King. In and of itself, its been a wonderful book thus far. As a huge fan of the Dark Tower Series of books, I was perticularly fascinated by how Insomnia ties into the massively epic storyline King has made. Too bad to fully understand the story, you have to read 19 different stories, a meaningful number in King’s works.

Despite the new threat to Bush, he keeps on pumping out his horrible legislation and lies (free registration required). One thing is certain, whoever ends up being the 44th president will have his/her work cut out for him/her just undoing the wrongs Bush has done.

Finally, I’ve given out all the GMail invites I had. They go quick. If I have any I can give away, I’ll say so.

Posted by MrWonton at 2:56 pm | Comments (18)

July 01, 2004

Gmail Invitation


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I happen to have some gmail invitations. If you can give me a valid reason I should give one to you, its yours.

Posted by MrWonton at 12:05 am | Comments (6)

June 16, 2004

Harborfest!


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T - 2 days till Harborfest, and as of now, it looks like it may actually be nice out. I’ll be bumming around all weekend for all those interestested in finding me.

Again I worked from home today. I’m really much more efficient here. I got a lot done, but more importantly, I figured out some ways to just work better and faster. Between a few useful macros, and a few powerful subroutines, I can envision my work getting done noticeably faster now, not that I’m not already fast due to the repetative nature of my project.

I’ve finally found a solution to the problem I generally have with getting hounded to help people with their computer issues: folks, your answer is here. If that can’t help you, try again. If still nothing, then you can come ask me. How many professionals in other fields do you get that from? Does your mechanic friend fix your car for free? People just don’t understand that this is really just doing our jobs for no pay.

Alright, now that I’ve inveighed on that subject, I’ll turn, as I seemingly invariably do, to politics. I for one was sick of the flood of press blithering about how great Reagan was by the second news article to this affect that I witnessed. To my surprise, however, I finally found an article about Reagan worth reading, only its not really about President Reagan, its about his Son. In the article, Reagan continually denounces George W. Bush, and expresses his frustration with the Bush administration’s effort to liken George W. to President Reagan. Reagan has some really great quotes:

“The big elephant sitting in the corner is that George W. Bush is simply unqualified for the job… What’s his accomplishment? That he’s no longer an obnoxious drunk?”
“My father crapped bigger ones than George Bush.”
“Nine-11 gave the Bush people carte blanche to carry out their extreme agenda — and they didn’t hesitate for a moment to use it. I mean, by 9/12 Rumsfeld was saying, ‘Let’s hit Iraq.’ They’ve used the war on terror to justify everything from tax cuts to Alaska oil drilling.”
“And the weapons of mass destruction? Whatever happened to them? I’m sure we’ll find some,” he laughs. “They’re being flown in right now in a C-130.”
“The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he’s in now. Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the ’80s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father’s — these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don’t trust these people.”
“My father was a man — that’s the difference between him and Bush.”

How can I argue with that? Thats pure gold! I may not agree with some (read: the vast majority) of President Reagan’s policies, but here’s further proof that he wasn’t a bad person, just look at the son he raised!

Of course, if you don’t believe me or Reagan, do yourself a favor and go watch Fahrenheit 9/11, which comes out next week I do believe. I plan on watching it again when it comes out. It will be interesting to see how it changed from the rough cut I saw months ago.

William Gibson is a great author, as is evident in about half of the first few stories in his Burning Chrome anthology. Honestly, I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would be. I usually love short stories, and I usually love everything Gibson writes, but some of these short stories just don’t do him much justice. I’ve only read the first few, but they’ve been a grab bag. It is, however, worth reading just for Johnny Mnemonic, which while short, is literary candy. The occurance of one of the characters from his opus Neuromancer only serves to make it more enjoyable, assuming of course you’ve read it (and if you haven’t, you should).

Posted by MrWonton at 7:20 pm | Comments (19)

June 07, 2004

Burned Out


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evil.jpg

Above is Evil. Know it when you see it.

It looks almost like it belongs here doesn’t it? Ok, maybe not. I just can’t get enough of some of those cool (and creepy/spooky/post-apocalyptic) old SAC pictures.

Being burned out on a Monday is never a good sign. Never a good sign at all.

I spent the latter half of the workday trying to coax an infinitely dimensionally expandable multidimensional perl hash (associative array for the to work properly. It turned out being more tricky than I hoped. I know how to do it now, but I used my daily allotment of initiative getting that far.

I found out today I’m supposed to be somewhere other than Harborfest the weekend of the 18-20. I really hope I can get out of it… there aren’t a lot of times I’m particularly happy to be in South Haven, but this is one of them… time will tell if I’m able to convince anyone else of this.

This last weekend, I had a lot of time to think, for better or worse. I made a conscious effort to let my mind wander, and I came to a rather unexpected idea: I think I may want to write a book. Everyone probably thinks this at some time or another, and with my track record of half-finished (or more often un-started) projects, it will probably never get started or finished. I did have some startlingly clear pictures of how it could begin though. At least i know I can be creative when I have to be.

Posted by MrWonton at 4:47 pm | Comments (16)

June 02, 2004

Type, Shake, Repeat


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In case instant messaging, mobile phones, letters, e-mail, VOIP, voice, SMS Messaging, or any of the other plethora of means of communication weren’t enough for you, you’re in luck! Nokia’s forthcoming 3220 phone lets you write short (12 characters) messages in mid-air by waving your phone back and forth. A bank of LEDs on the cover light up (as dictated by a motion sensor) revealing your message. It could be pretty interesting to see what people do with this…

Posted by MrWonton at 7:16 pm | Comments (9)

May 19, 2004

Ridiculous amounts of space for all!


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Not to be outdone by the likes of Spymac and Lycos, both of which offer, or soon will offer, free 1 Gig e-mail accounts, google has begun toying with the idea of 1 Terabyte free e-mail accounts. It could take weeks to let all the spam I get fill up that much space.

Update 19:09 - Too bad, it was a mistake. We can still hope though.

Posted by MrWonton at 9:02 am | Comments (7)

May 16, 2004

Demons have possessed my motorcycle


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Apparantly my motorcycle hasn’t experienced enough downtime. This morning I was perturbed to find a nice puddle of gas forming under it, never a good sign. It appeared to be dripping out of the overflow for the carburetors. Well, I had left it on prime, so it wasn’t necessarily indicative of a serious problem. The bike even started right up. No problems there. So I took it out, it seemed to be running ok.

Alas, ok it was not. On the way to the gas station to fill up it was running decidedly rough. It felt like it was only hitting on three cylinders, so I hoped it would fix itself as it heated up. I got it to the gas station and filled it up. It didn’t want to start up again, which is never a good sign, but after a few tries, it caught. It made it about 15 feet out of the parking lot before dying for good. The engine and the carbs were flooded beyond help. Constant attempts at restarting it only managed to drain the battery, which was fully charged to begin with.

So in the end I had the pleasure of pushing my 22 year old cast iron ridiculously heavy motorcycle home, up two hills, one bridge, and numerous intersections with a motorcycle helmet, a heavy leather jacket, and a sweatshirt. Getting it home, I examined it further. There appeared to be more oil than there should be. How could that be? Well, I was wrong, there wasn’t too much oil, just too much gas in the oil. Another fine surprise!

On the brighter side, my computer is back up and running. The motherboard was indeed the culprit. The new a7v333 motherboard I have has a dead ide channel which isn’t nice, but I’d rather avoid the downtime and not send it back, as for the 6 IDE devices I use, it works just fine. If I need more, I’ll just turn the old HP pavilion I got from MDP into a file server. Its better not to tax the power supply and motherboard with more than 6 IDE devices anyways… they seem to die enough on me without the extra stress.

Between my computer and motorcycle troubles, its been a long transition from college to home. At least it can’t rain forever. Especially since I get payed tomorrow. Thank god for paychecks.

Posted by MrWonton at 2:55 pm | Comments (27)

May 12, 2004

Grrr


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It appears that my motherboard as given up the ghost after less than 2 years. Consumer electronics sure aren’t built to last anymore. I was up last night simply watching an episode of Firefly on my computer when it rebooted itself, appearingly never to run properly again… Great.

The truly sad thing is this is far from the time to be purchasing a new motherboard. With 939 pin Athlons and PCI-Express on the horizon, one would be crazy to buy now… Crazy… or desperate, as I’ll soon be. Now I have to figure out if I should attempt to upgrade, or buy the cheapest motherboard on the market to use until the next gen stuff is around… Oi what a way to have to spend my first paycheck!

On the brighter side, I was able to trade my abhorrently slow work computer for a 350mhz junkpile (aside from a ‘much’ faster processor, it has 384 megs of ram to my old computer’s 48!), so at least my only contact with computers for awhile won’t be with the dinosaur I had before. Thank goodness for small favors.

Finally, thanks to Muk Yan, I’ve got an Orkut account. So far he’s the only guy I know there, so if you have an account, or perhaps want an invitation to get one (for those who don’t know this is required for membership, even though its free), let me know.

Posted by MrWonton at 12:45 pm | Comments (5)
 
   

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