The Den of Ubiquity
Friday, August 31, 2001:
Einstein And Copernicus Were Wrong
I guess it's peeve time. I mean, what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't share with the uncaring public what apparently harmless pieces of behaviour just DRIVE ME OUT OF MY GOURD?
And speaking of driving, I'm going to speak of driving. I do it every day, across town, in rush hour(well, I get to get off work at 3:30, so I miss most of the afternoon rush hour, but still), and sometimes at other times of the day as well. Maybe even on weekends. And I'm what you might call an anal, or cautious, or conscientious driver. Maybe I'm just scared shitless of getting tickets. I don't know. But I always try to drive the speed limit, I always signal when turning or changing lanes, I come to a full and complete stop before turning left on a red light or proceeding at a stop sign, and all that kind of thing. If I forget, then I feel bad about it. (I have no idea how traffic laws vary from locality to region to country to continent, so I'm going pretty much on Edmonton laws here.)
As you might imagine, I probably make other people's peeve list, as they pull around me without signaling to pass me 10 km/h over the speed limit. (I've noticed that a person's driving behaviour can often be generalized by what they drive, sad though it is. Pickup trucks, especially big shiny ones, sports cars, and motorcycles are the worst offenders. I am only noting correlation here, not causation.) But I persevere.
Then there are behaviours that are not illegal, but are impolite, inconsiderate, and infuriating. For instance, the same people who, as I'm driving the speed limit, will be approximately five inches behind my right bumper, will leave 0.8 car-lengths of space ahead of them when they stop at an intersection. And behind them, people are blocking left-turn lanes and sticking out into intersections, because some moron, or group of morons, up ahead of them has decided that they have to leave miles of space in front of them as they sit still.
Why do people do this? I can think of a few reasons that don't hold up under close scrutiny. For instance, if you're stopped going up a hill it's entirely possible that the vehicle in front of you will roll back slightly as the driver shifts from the brake to the gas, especially with big trucks. And sometimes they do this a little bit even on mostly flat areas. So in those circumstances leaving a little bit of space might be worthwhile. Or if there's something precarious strapped to the back of the vehicle that you think could fall on you.
Some people, I think, have this theory that no matter how far back in the line they are, once the light turns green they should be able to step on the gas and never have to slow down. So they leave some room in front of them so that the vehicle in front of them can start moving and get out of the way before they get crushed flat as a metal pancake. You know what happens? I've seen these people. They INVARIABLY have to brake because the guy in front of them didn't start to move as soon as they thought he should. Or they started to anticipate the light too much.
So it annoys the hell out of me when people leave these gaps. Of course it's not illegal, and only very rarely would somebody leave enough of a gap in front for another vehicle to actually weasel in. No, they calculate it very carefully.
Maybe the behaviour is also related to the tendency to leave ten feet on either side of the vehicle when parking in parking lots, to discourage anyone from scratching and making it easier to pull in and out.
Anyway, enough of this for now. Sometime later I'll talk about how you don't get to pick the lane you turn into when you turn corners...
Songs In My Head: George Harrison: Can't Stop Thinking About You, They Might Be Giants:The World's Address, Prince:Automatic
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Guilty 'Til Proven Guilty
Maybe third time's the charm. I'll try to post this one in increments, so I won't lose as much at a time. (I lost the first one foolishly trying to edit my Settings while in the middle of typing, and the second because apparently my login timed out, and I got a message saying, "Hmmm...it shouldn't have done that. Interesting." But it was still gone. I will have to start getting into the habit of copying the contents to the clipboard before I post.)
Currently I'm listening to "Extra Long Life" by Alkaline, another random library pick about which I know next to nothing. It looked like reggae at first, but now I think it's more dub(if I understand the term), mostly instrumental with a few vocal segments, and kind of cool. Actually, it's maybe even a little acid-jazzy. Hell, what do I know? As many people have said(anyone know who said it originally?), "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." But definitely growing on me. It may go on my increasingly-lengthy list of albums to buy.
Before that I was listening to Bob Geldof's "The Vegetarians of Love". A pretty cool album; I tend to like his solo stuff better than the Boomtown Rats. Although they had a great song, "Tonight", on their last album, which of course most of the critics don't even mention because it obviously sucked. I've gotten used to disagreeing with critics, both the "rock" kind and the "alternative" kind. One day maybe I'll become a critic myself, but I'm not very good at dancing about architecture so maybe not. Anyway, "Vegetarians" has a cool song on it called "Thinking Voyager 2 Type Things", which is what its title implies, over a nice lush guitar background. (Give me lush over sparse practically any day.) And, of course, "The Great Song of Indifference", which is always good for a chuckle.
Now, the topic I've lost a couple of times: my internet provider. But let me start with Grande Prairie, Alberta, the small city where I spent most of my childhood. I moved to Edmonton for University, met my wife there, got married. A few years ago she got a job up there at the college library, so we moved up. I managed to get a part-time job for a pittance at Terranet, an Internet provider up there, which included a free Internet account. This was good because I was a major Usenet addict at the time, and just starting to get into the Web, too.
But then Terranet went under, and I had to, for the first time since I got onto the Net in February 1992(well, earlier, really, but that was when I first realized I was on the Net), pay for Internet access. O, cry me no tears of sorrow. The only option was with Telus, the phone company up here. Then I got a job in Edmonton(which turned out to be horrific, but more on that later), so we moved back down here, and eventually I realized I had more options, so I switched to Internet Connect.
Then, a few weeks ago, Telus marketing types phoned and offered us high-speed Internet. The timing was right, so I went for it. So I'm now in the process of switching back, but to an email and web site address that I've had before...so old links may become new again. I still have to set up my Connect site so that it forwards to the new/old Telus one. One drawback of resuming an old account is that it's apparently gone out on a lot of bulk-email CDs sold to South America, because I'm getting a lot of Spanish junk mail.
The whole reason I started on that topic was realizing that I should maybe put up a link to my Blog from my web page, since apparently it may not show up here for a few days. But it got completely out of hand.
I hope YOU'RE HAPPY NOW!!!!!
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Sunset On Scholars of The Empire of Night
Well, my official first blog has not yet shown up on the web site, but there's always a little bit of lag here. I'll still have to see if I can make the most recent list or some kind of list. Pathetic, no?
Currently I'm listening to Fish's "Sunsets On Empire", which is what Robert Christgau would refer to as a "Dud". It's okay, it's not actively making me not want to listen to it, but nothing is striking me. Admittedly, I'm listening to it while alternately trying to figure out JDBC and feverishly checking blogger to see if I've shown up yet, but it's just lush art-rock. I preferred his Marillion stuff on "Misplaced Childhood" and "Clutching At Straws", but even that is not on my favourite list or anything. You'll be happy to know that I didn't shell out money for this CD; like much of the music I listen to, I picked it up at the Edmonton Public Library, which has a fantastic music collection. In fact, I just picked it up on a whim off the racks, since I've been curious as to what Fish solo sounded like. Mostly, since I'm much closer to the Millwoods branch library than I am to the main branch, I put in a lot of requests on the computer system. I've got a big long list of potential requests, which I go through very slowly because the request list maximum is 25, I fill it up every Saturday, and only get the put as many new requests on as new requests came in. On slow days, I browse the racks, which only occasionally yields rewards.
Yesterday I was listening to Ether's "Music For Air Raids", which I didn't really like. Sort of ambient(sometimes to the point where I couldn't hear it without cranking the volume way up, always risky at work), but with occasional noisier bits. The track listings were all latitude/longitude coordinates, which I actually went onto MapQuest to try to identify. They all seem to be places that have actually been bombed--Dresden, Hanoi, Khartoum, Baghdad, Yugoslavia, Tripoli, and Japan. Still, I'd give it a miss unless you've been craving more "Metal Machine Music".
Right now I'm reading John M. Ford's The Scholars of Night. It's in my "Echo" reading slot(more explanation of that term will likely be forthcoming in future)because I remember him from Fidonet's SF and WRITING echoes from way back. The "Echo" list is mostly composed of Minneapolis authors like Steven Brust(who rocks mightily), Pamela Dean, Patricia Wrede, Kara Dalkey, John M. Ford, Will Shetterly, and the like. (John DeChancie, Michael Kube-McDowell, and Lois McMaster Bujold are also considered "Echo" authors, but not Minneapolitans.) Anyway, Ford's stuff is very eclectic. This book is actually a mainstream spy thriller, which oddly enough seems to involve a newfound Christopher Marlowe manuscript. This isn't really my cup of tea, but it's okay.
I would heartily recommend Steven Brust's Issola, at least to those who have at least read a few of the previous books, of which there have been many. (In chronological order: Taltos, Dragon, Yendi, Jhereg, Teckla, Phoenix, Athyra, and Orca). Actually, I can't remember for sure, but I think Dragon comes before Yendi...
Actually, now that I'm actually listening more to the Fish album, it's sounding a bit better. I did like the track "Jungle Ride"...
More later. I should get back to work.
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How does one start a new weblog, anyway? An introduction? I've done enough of those on various newsgroups, so it seems like a good place to start.
I'm married(just over ten years now)with a little boy named Simon who's almost two. I work as a programmer at Joseki Systems Ltd.(not its real name), where I do database-type software, up until now mostly in Visual Basic, but just starting on Java. I've got B.Sc.'s in Physics and Computing Science from the University of Alberta. (Should I put links for VB and Java too? Nah, you can find those by yourself if you care.) I've been on the net for nine and a half years now, which makes me practically an old curmudgeon. "Why, I remember when there wasn't any World-Wide Web! The closest we had was something called Gopher..." I have a web page as well.
I'm going to try to break this up into smaller posts that I will do during the day(and days to follow, probably, though since I'm not working over the Labour Day weekend there might be a big gap there), so let me just say right now that I love to read and I love to listen to music, and I will have lots of opinions to share on the matter over the next little while. And I'll leave it there for now.
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