I reached a programming milestone today! I wrote and compiled a COM object that interacts with my Tikaro server. It’s pretty simple; whenever someone asks for the streaming webcam window (under the webcam image above, click “popup version), the resulting .asp page sends a command to a COM object, which in turn causes the webcam server under my desk to beep. Which in turn lets me know to stop picking my nose, sit up straight, et cetera.
I took most of the information from a great tutorial on 4guysfromrolla.com. Now that I’ve started to graduate from VBScript to VB, the next step is to go back to my .asp sites and component-ize all the data calls, functions, et cetera. That should speed up their performance and prepare me to start learning EJB! After that, my life will be filled with swimming pools and movie stars.
I went for my very first grown-up physical today. After finding that a recommended physician doesn’t accept [My employer] insurance, I found the office by doing a location-based search; the closest medical practice to me is 0.1 mile from my cube. Walking around the corner to “Boro Medical Practice PC” this morning, my nerves were somewhat on edge, due to Rubber Glove Prostate Anxiety. My concern was only increased when I noticed that the medical office is located right above the headquarters of Local 223, the Toy and Novelty Workers Union. As I took the elevator up, I was envisioning all sorts of unfortunate accidents involving the accidental juxtaposition of latex exam gloves and giant plastic clown shoes. But everything turned out fine. In fact, there was no prostate-poking involved at all, which kind of turned out to be an anticlimax after all the anticipatory embarassment I’ve been saving up for months. I didn’t want to say anything to Doctor Bharara, however, who turned out to be a matter-of-fact young woman with a precise Indian accent. I’ll just start my anticipatory embarrasment for next time.
I bought a GPS unit for my Palm Pilot this week, and it’s really, really really cool. It takes the unit about a minute to figure out where it is (and it doesn’t work at all in New York, too many buildings), but once it’s warmed up it only lags behind your position and direction by a couple of seconds in the car. What’s more, I can use my OmniSky modem to download maps for the area in which the GPS puts me. So now, I’ll never, ever get lost again!*
*(As long as my Palm is charged, my OmniSky has power, I have fresh batteries in my GPS unit, I have line-of-sight on at least six geostationary satellites, and I’m within a cellular CDPD network.)
I launched two new sites today!
I do freelance work in the evenings for Bauer Publishing, a publisher of (mostly) women’s service magazines. The work for the sites, to a large extent, is done by myself and graphic designer Jeff Eades — he designs, I code. So far, we’ve made the teen celebrity site J14, and a similar site targeting slightly older teens called Twist Magazine.
With lots of help from system administrator extraordinaire Claudia Lacopo and programmer Jonathan Clement, we launched two new magazines today — ABC Soaps In Depth and CBS Soaps In Depth. I’m really proud of the functionality of these sites — they are actually one dynamic site that formats itself depending on whether it sees “abc” or “cbs” in the location. It’s also extremely updateable; 90% of the content is pulled on the fly from a database. I’ve written a custom content management system so that magazine editors can update stories, previews, and other site content using a web browser. There’s chat, polls, all kinds of good stuff!
So thanks Jeff, thanks Claudia, and thanks Jonathan! I’m psyched! I’m gonna go update my resume right now.
Caveat Emptor, Cave Canem, et Caveat Pontifex!
Kate took me to the Christies’ Evening Sale of contemporary art last night, at which Maurizio Cattelan’s Pope-felled-by-a-meteorite installation La Nona Ora was sold for just about $900,000.00. A Bruce Nauman cast entitled Henry Moore, Bound to Fail went for three times its estimate, at nine million dollars. The room was filled with:
- Lean middle-aged men with expensive glasses and non-traditional suit jackets,
- Lean younger men with longish euro-hair and tight blue suits,
- Lean middle-aged women in expensive dark gray power suits,
- Lean younger women in expensive sweaters and designer jeans,
- One million cellphones, and
- The superlatively urbane and animated presence of the auctioneer, Christopher Burge.
The whole thing was a mannered temple of Big Art and Big Money, which made it seem completely normal that, during the evening, Cattelan’s taxidermied dog (“Untitled
“) was sold for $80,000.00. “Last bid? Against you, sir… (crack!) For you, ma’am. Lot 314, at eighty-two thousand dollars.” That last in a suave English accent, delivered by Christopher Burge atop a polished wooden podium. In a charcoal-grey suit. While selling a stuffed dog.
You can read the NY Times article about the sale here.
Someone just used JustATip.com to notify me that I have poor computer skills. This is dismaying, and I am shamed. Now, if I could just find out who that person is, so that I can notify them of their “poor crotch hygeine”, or perhaps their “frequent flatulence…”
John@Tikaro.com, You Have Poor Computer Skills
“…For some reason, you always do not grasp the concept of copying and pasting, make ill-advised changes to the registry, follow improper procedures while upgrading the Linux kernel, and use single quotes when variable interpolation is desired…”
more about my poor computer skills…
I’m a two-bit Midas!
I hate, hate, hate having coins jingling around in my pocket, so I’ve been dumping all my change in piles at home and at work. On Thursday, I collected it all in a Gatorade bottle and dumped it — slightly sticky — into a nearby CoinStar machine. I asked for estimates before I left. Guesses ranged from $30.00 (Zachary Thacher) to $268.00 (a [My employer] creative director on the elevator.) The count turned out to be:
- 6 golden dollars from the post office stamp machine,
- 289 quarters,
- 172 dimes,
- 130 nickels, and
- 175 pennies, for a total of
- $103.70, of which I got about $94.00, since CoinStar takes a cut.
The closest guesser was Kate (at $92.00), but she says she has an advantage because she’s used to dealing with the piles of coins I leave around. Hey, big spender!
Gina Rules My Street
When I got up this morning to go to the gym, a Meg Ryan movie had taken over my block. Orange cones, flatbed trucks, and blonde production assistants with headset radios filled the streets. Store fronts had been transformed overnight (Hipster bag merchant Soho Togs had been turned into “Maven Electronics” in the eight hours since I came home last night.) Thirty-foot squares of aluminized canvas, stretched across the street, altered the course of the sun itself.
Plus, Thursday morning is methadone morning at the Department of Health and Human Services office next to my building, so the sidewalks were jammed with a mixture of union carpenters, movie extras, and oddly-dressed people shouting to each other across the street and rooting interminably in their bags for no clear reason.
Ruling calmly in the midst of all this chaos was my super, Gina Ceccala, old-guard Little Italy resident and capo of my block. Gina was sweeping the cups away from under the craft service table, making sure that the cones didn’t block the trash pickup, keeping an eye on the Thursday morning vestibule-lurkers, and probably helping direct the movie. Gina is a full-service super in every sense of the word; when I get a package, it’s waiting for me on my desk —inside my apartment! Gina knows all about my Murphy bed, knows how it works, knows how to take it down — she figured all this out when she let the exterminator into my place. I’m sure she knows what’s in my DVD player (blush.) She’s the unquestioned ruler of my block, keeping chaos, disorder, and the celestial-body-manipulating forces of Universal Studios at bay.
Rural Delivery, Raratonga
Saturday is Alumni day at Westtown school, the Quaker school outside of Philadelphia where I went for 11 years (and boarded the last three.) I spent an hour last night reading alumni updates in the school’s quarterly magazine. The letters are arranged by class year. Reading all the letters, from the class of 1918 to the class of 2002, is like looking at the tilted slabs of sedimentary rock you sometimes see by the side of the highway. Each sedimentary layer, each generation’s similar preposessions, boasts, and concerns, is revealed to clear view.
Kate’s dad recently had his 40th high school reunion; he told me that he enjoyed it because “the race is run, everyone knows what they did, and it’s time to relax.” Boy, that’s sure not the case for twenty and thirty year olds. The alumni reports surrounding the class of 1989 are full of successful people elbowing to the front of the line. Except the head of the line at a Quaker school is “I’m happy, fulfilled, and I have an interesting, important job that doesn’t pollute the atmosphere or get people killed. And I own a house.”
I’ve condensed each sedimentary alumni layer into one sentence, somewhat cynically:
- Graduation to 5th reunion: “I went to Costa Rica this summer. Liberal arts college sure is hard!”
- 5th-10th reunions: “I got accepted to the PhD program at [graduate school x]. I’ve taken a job teaching at [prep school y]. Come and visit me!”
- 10th-20th reunions: “I finished my residency program at [prestigious medical school z], am marrying my sweetheart [alpha], and am moving into a beautiful house on six acres in [beautiful state beta.] I just had two beautiful kids.”
- 20th-30th reunions: “My book on [small animals | peace and justice] has just come out. Also, I won my battle with [debilatating disease], I’m going back to graduate school, and am starting a new career as an aromatherapist.”
- 30th-40th reunions: “My grandchild was born in [faraway state.]”
- 50th-70th reunions: “I’m moving to the Quaker retirement community at Longwood.”
- 70th reunion+: Obituaries.
I don’t know why I feel bitter when I look at the 10-20 year letters. Is it because everyone only writes in with good news? It makes me feel tired, like I should nudge the treadmill a little faster. I find myself wanting to repeat what I did in college; write in saying that I’ve joined the Air Force, become a test pilot, have grown a handlebar mustache, and can be reached at a forwarding address in Raratonga. What the letters really
make me want to do is lose forty pounds before going to the reunion next Saturday. It’s petty, but there you have it. Ugh.
I had a great weekend — I cleaned out old storage, and retrieved my banjo, the silver firefighter’s coat that goes with the Ultimate Water Gun, and my grandfather’s steel foot locker, which is hand-lettered “Lt. Col. John R. Young, HQ 324th fighter group”, and is just about my most prized possession. Also the heaviest. Kate and I took more ballroom dancing lessons with Martin Kunc, a Chechoslovakian emigre who is teaching me not only the steps (which I kind of know), but also the sawtooth pattern used to navigate around a ballroom floor (something I’ve never learned.) We went canoeing on the Brandywine and saw a couple of creepy guys with baseball hats and mullets sitting motionless way back in the woods, watching the groups go by. I think they were looking for topless canoeists. I started whistling Dueling Banjos to piss them off, then promptly grounded the canoe. G-r-r-r-r-r-e-a-t, really smart. But we lived through the experience. Then I went for a motorcycle ride with Kate’s dad, and cracked 60 MPH for the first time. Sixty feels a *lot* faster on two wheels than on four. And that was my weekend. I came back to the city and embarked on my latest adventure, installing RedHat Linux 7.1 on my desktop box!