August 28, 2004


Wednesday was my last day at MDP. It was sad to see it go. It was a great job. Carol (one of my great co-workers) baked me the above cake.

My boss at MDP has taken a very laissez faire approach to managing the company, and so, on Tuesday, with only one day remaining, we had our first meeting. It was essentially the first time he’d inquired as to my progress. Until then, if I had done nothing in the 3.5 months I worked there, there would have been no one to complain. Shocking.

In fact, it was a great meeting. He asked a lot of questions, the majority of which I had answers to. Once we had gone over the first few scripts line-by-line, when it seemed the meeting was over, he announced that he was so pleased with my performance (of which as I stated he had never actually checked to the best of my knowledge), that he was presenting me a rather sizeable bonus. Not only was this completely unexpected, and unnecessary on his part, but I later learned that this was the first time he’d felt compelled to do such a thing. It really put me at a loss for words.

I suppose that would be enough to make this a good week, despite the bittersweet conge from my summer job. Today, however, I was treated to another surprise.

A few weeks back, I received an e-mail from an undergraduate advisor for the EECS department at U-M. It was a forwarded job opportunity, one of which everyone declared in an EECS major receives on a regular basis. What caught my eye in this specific proposal was its origin: Intel.

The requirements in the description were pretty minimal: Sophemore or Junior standing, a GPA of 3.0 or above, U.S. Citizen or permenant resident, and a listing of courses and skills on your resume. No big deal there. So I updated my resume, and after sending it to the wrong person, finally got it out Monday. Wednesday, the liason told me the resume had been forwarded to Intel. Today, at 2:26 PM EST, I received a message on my answering machine. Intel had called and wanted to make sure I was free for a position this Fall. I eventually calmed down enough to call the woman back. She told me she was a Software Engineer by trade, but helped with the technical side of marketing. Apparantly, Intel finds it necessary to create what sounded like elaborate tech-demos for potential clients to try to lure them to their architecture, as if Intel’s architecture wasn’t already the de-facto standard. Regardless, she said that they’d only received 20-odd resumes, 4-5 of which received a call back, and 2-3 of which were being interviewed. She set up a time for my interview on Monday. I will probably know if I’ve gotten the job by midweek next week!

Its really hard to grip the situation as it currently stands. Yesterday, my only worry was moving back to Ann Arbor on Tuesday. Now, I’ve got an interview on Monday, I may find out I have a job Wednesday, and I may have to make some rather severe changes to my plans for the next few months.

What a week.

Posted by MrWonton at 3:47 am | Comments (13)

August 10, 2004


Its been awhile, so heres a picture of my pet piranha. His name is Nixon. He is not a cannibal.

The summer is almost over, and its a damn good thing. My job has become nearly too repetative to bear. 90% of the code I can write in my sleep, and the rest is so cryptic and impossible to discern that I have to ask someone else what it means anyways. The only happy middle-ground was the one program I had to design myself, instead of re-writing, but even that program was frustratingly technical (what should one expect from medical billing software?).

My town resists change better than China. Unless you’re willing to stand by the skate park dealing drugs, or aimlessly wander the streets, there is next to nothing to do, which brings me to my next point. I find the vast majority of the people in this town loathesome. Life in such close proximity to such distasteful creatures invariably makes me horribly anti-social and cynical. I do hope Ann Arbor ameliorates this.

Theres a chance Blueberry Festival may help.

I leave at the end of the month. I can never go home again. I hope I can’t shop there.

No less than 3 of my friends from home have become hopelessly engaged in the promised fortunes of the pyramid scam known as Team of Destiny. I find it deeply disturbing that the promises of easy wealth so easily close the minds of such intelligent people. One of the victims of whom I speak is a Business major at U-M for god’s sake! How can they be taken by this? Sure, someone gets rich off the plan: the people who started it. I’m sorry, but selling packs of overpriced toilet paper that has to be shipped to your friends is not going to make you a millionaire. All the tapes, lectures, and motivational speaking in the world will not change this.

Few things are as beautiful as white flowers reflecting the headlight of my motorcycle on a country road under a clear, august, night sky. Its more than just a sight, its an experience.

Update: Apparantly Barbi is a better name for a piranha. Who knew?

Posted by MrWonton at 2:25 am | Comments (38)

June 16, 2004


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 11, 2004

Rain rain rain

Its been a long, relatively unpleasant week, but at least Friday arrives.

I’ve written more lines of code this week then I thought I would ever in my life, but theres no end to the work that needs to be done, and since I’m farther along in my task than anyone else working on the project, I can’t really test my work. Feh!

On the positive side, I’ve managed to finish Everything’s Eventual, a collection of short stories by Stephen King. I’m also on the last 50 pages of Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein. Both were worth all the time I spent on them too, despite the thick religious understones of the latter.

In my office, there is a skylight. On nice days, there is a bright, glorious square of light that wanders lazily across my desk to my left. It reassures me that there is still a world other than this office waiting for me come 5 o’clock. Today, looking up at the world through my small boxed skylight window, I see only grey. Grey like the entire office I work in has entered a particularly depressing old low-contrast movie. When I leave, I fear I may be the only thing left in existence with any color.

Yep, just another Friday.

Posted by MrWonton at 10:50 am | Comments (5)

June 07, 2004

Burned Out


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 01, 2004


What a weekend. It only rained every single day, the sun only appearing briefly on Monday. I wanted to get out and do the whole South Haven summer schtick on the first extended weekend since I came back from school. When will this weather end?

I was invited to Chris Woodham’s graduation party (on a side note, Chris is coming to U-Michigan, as well he should) on sunday, and despite the rain, it was pretty fun. As the Woodhams’ have been a staple of South Haven since around the dawn of time, everyone and their 2nd cousin seemed to make an appearance at the party. That was nice. I enjoyed sitting on the couch with a parade of familiar faces going by, with a plethora of similar conversations where we all stated how its been forever since we’d seen one another, and summed up what has happened to us in the last 2 years, which was often very little. The majority of the people I was very pleased to see, especially those who were from my class that have gone their seperate ways, and who I rarely, if ever, talk to anymore.

After the more casual party-goers had left, me and a few others bummed around the living room ’till near midnight. We had ourselves a pretty interesting conversation to boot, covering everything from the South Haven High School Experience (with plenty of interesting stories about Mr. Stap and Mrs. Mein/Feldt) to the best books to read, to how to spell pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Yes Virginia, there is a word that long.

I slept a bit longer than planned this morning. I made it in to work about an hour late. Granted, no one cares. The only effect is I don’t get payed for the hour I missed. Makes sense eh?

I set two alarms every morning. I turn off two alarms every morning. Somehow, thats not enough though. I guess I’ll start setting alarms on my TV and computer as well as my two other alarms. Four should do it right? It doesn’t matter tomorrow. Tomorrow I work from home. Mmmm.

Posted by MrWonton at 4:36 pm | Comments (17)

May 27, 2004

Working from Home

Today, for the first time, I am working from home. I get to site in my chair, in my room, on my computer, and get payed to do my programming remotely.

Yeah, life is good.

Posted by MrWonton at 2:46 pm | Comments (44)

May 14, 2004

Unix should come packaged with Aspirin

I love Unix, but it sure can be frustrating.

Thanks to helter skelter code I’m working to transcribe, I’m finding myself constantly in positions where I have to think of clever ways to manipulate files, shell variables, and other things that were more directly accomplished on the operating system they were originally meant to be done on. Not that I’m complaining; its good experience learning to do tricky things in *nix, I’m just saying I should probably be payed more. Like, I don’t know, a few grand a line, something like that.

In an attempt to get my home PC up and running again, I tried my hand at E-bay, bidding on the same motherboard that appears to have died on me. No such luck there. E-bay is a ruthless market, and I’m a stingy jew. I’m not paying over 50 bucks for a 2 year old motherboard.

In the end, it turns out to have been a good decision, as yesterday, I ordered a new motherboard from a regular internet retailer, and today, the very next day, it came. Can’t beat service like that.

So if I correctly diagnosed that it was the motherboard that had reached the clearing at the end of the path, I should once again have my PC back up and running. Just in time to beat the inevitably boring South Haven weekend coming just around the corner.

Posted by MrWonton at 3:13 pm | Comments (100)

May 11, 2004

I’ll elect the first politician that promises to end 2:45

Its amazing how a perfectly good day can be spoiled by the halt of all time passage at the insidious time of 2:45 pm. The considerable progress made earlier now seems distant. It couldn’t have possibly been done when time was moving this slowly. Not that I’m in a rush to get home. At home, driving around the 7 or so streets that actually count is often the most creative and exciting thing a group of educated people can think to do to get themselves out of the house and keep them from going stir crazy. Its still better than 2:45.

Evil evil 2:45.

How I hate thee.

Posted by MrWonton at 2:45 pm | Comments (2)

May 10, 2004

Follow up

Yeah that time in the middle of the day I was talking about where it seems like the day will never end? Yeah, I’m there.

Posted by MrWonton at 1:42 pm | Comments (41)

The Darkness can consume all but my thoughts

My mind fights bitterly against sleep, and what a ruthless fighter it is.

It was a good Mother’s Day. For once I find myself not simply balking at the blatent commercialization that runs through it, but instead appreciating its ability to be an excuse to appreciate those in the world that keep life going. To the mothers of the world I salute thee.

Today, a girl who knew me, and yet whom I would have claimed I had never even seen before, deigned to show me a smile I won’t soon forget. Thanks to you, whoever you are.

On a very different note, I’ve begun and nearly finished Orson Scott Card’s novel Ender’s Game. It has invoked reflections on my own thoughts more than any book I have read in recent history. If you’re prone to over-introspection like me, I’m not even sure if I can recommend it, but it is surely a novel worth reading.

A fresh week of work awaits me in the morning. I dread the middle of the day where it seems like 5 pm will never come. I’m beginning to think that Heaven is place where we are finally able to attain some sort of revenge upon the universe for having situations such as these, where time stands still and our own modern sense of self preservation locks us into our positions drowning in a sea of monotony. Words do far too much justice to this in my case, but I think I get my point across. At least we can take comfort in the fact that Cthulhu Saves.

Posted by MrWonton at 12:57 am | Comments (48)

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