MARCH <-- APRIL, 2002 --> MAY
Office work is weird, and Transmeta just makes it all the more so. For the first time, I have a quiet office to myself, shared with a woman with compatible music tastes. You get to work within a certain, flexible time frame, and don't have anything specific to do at any given moment, you just roll your own. I haven't done much hard work yet, mostly just setting up my environment and learning the local processes, because even though I have a wealth of specialist knowledge, I don't know the right way to apply it here, yet.
Then, I also have to learn Linuxisms, there's a list ...
The situation at The Pizza Place got sorted out. A co-worker who wasn't previously scheduled for Friday evening took my Friday and Saturday evening shifts, for love of the dough. So, today for lunch I snuck off to Palo Alto to cover his lunch shift, as Jefe isn't keen on paying overtime unnecessarily. Don't blame him.
So, my first weekend back in the full-time world? I got my suit dry-cleaned by a Korean establishment near the house. The guy explained that he has two stores, and works fifteen hours a day, and, he can tell I washed my pants, and he's happy to stretch them to compensate for shrinkage.
Tonight, head on up and meet Joe, and Kris, and Kris' allegedly hot friend, for a double date, blind on my part, to the ballet. The ballet is a fancy affair, which is why I figured on the dry cleaning.
Saturday, I'm taking the CBEST, California substitute teacher certification test. Now, I'm not likely to have need for this for the forseeable future, but I've paid for it, I might as well wake up early on a Saturday. In the evening there's an Oak's meeting. Sunday work my final shift at The Pizza Place, noon to four, and a Bay Rail Alliance meeting after work on Monday.
Transmeta is not a restaurant, but
every building has a kitchen, well-stocked with junk foods. On top of
that, four nights a week, we get catered dinners. The evening's menu
can be had by typing
dinner at your friendly, local, Unix
prompt. It's like, a Shangri-La.
But, a Shangri-La that can definately use another hand keeping the information infrastructure sane. Part of what I've been doing this week is taking notes on the way things are, and how they diverge from the way things ought to be, and why. It is neat to find myself in a position to take responsibility for an existing system, rather than making up my own system from scratch as I go along, as I did at Tellme.
At Tellme, I kept moving along, with a particular "master vision" of how things should ultimately work in my head, but it was never documented, and it has since been left to others to either puzzle out that vision and implement it, or chase their own, adapting what I left behind to suit that vision. Now I am at their position at Transmeta, though I haven't tracked down whether my prredecessors have left, or are simply clearing off their plates. It sounds like there are touches of both floating around.
Anyways, time to dive up to Frisco to meet Joe. The weekend commences!
Jessica just called my cell to sing me Chinese Karaoke.
I served my last Pizza this afternoon. I shook Jefe's hand on the way out. He said I was welcome back, and I promised that I'd be by in the next recession. Well, I'll be by Friday after next to pick up that final pay check.
I took the CBEST yesterday. I didn't like it. Very uptight, and very shoddy. "Place the square sticker on the test booklet ..." but it is a rectangle. "Open to page one and begin reading the instructions ..." the first page is TWO. Doesn't anyone test their own damned test for basic usability?
The test itself was pretty dull. There was an essay section, two topics, you know, to prove you can write an essay? The second topic was that it is better to try and fail than to not try at all - take a position, yadda ya. I started to lose it, but that was the last part of the test. Then I went home, and walked down to Los Charros and had a burrito, as my stomach had been growling all morning.
Back to the office tomorrow. Week Two!
The hypocrisy has been coalescing for me. I knew it all along, sure, but I still can't articulate it.
Today I actually caught one of those PSAs where all these kids are talking about how they killed babies, incited war in foreign countries, and caused the deaths of innocents, by proxy, of course, because they wanted to use drugs for their own pleasure. "Buying Drugs Supports Terrorism."
Of course, you could run the exact same PSA, and change the black screen at the end with "Paying Taxes Supports Terrorism." How many governments have we coopted? How many judges have we had assasinated? How many innocents have died at our hands, for the various causes we have engaged in?
Courtesy of Arundhati Roy:
Here is a list of countries that America has been at war with -- and bombed -- since World War II: China (1945-1946, 1950-1953), Korea (1950-1953), Guatemala (1954, 1967-1969), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959-1960), the Belgian Congo (1964), Peru (1965), Laos (1964-1973), Vietnam (1961-1973), Cambodia (1969-1970), Grenada (1983), Libya (1986), El Salvador (1980s), Nicaragua (1980s), Panama (1989), Iraq (1991-2001), Bosnia (1995), Sudan (1998), Yugoslavia (1999). And now Afghanistan.
Drugs support terrorism? The only way drugs support terrorism is by the mellow complacency they bring us. If you buy weed in California, chances are it was produced locally, and your money is being recycled into the national economy. Each time I put twenty dollars of gasoline in the tank, I'm doing far more damage to our national security, global stability, and the cause for global justice in the world than I would for a mere dime bag.
And I'm not sure which makes me feel more complacent, either. Driving is very relaxing, whereas pot supposedly makes you paranoid after a while.
I like the commercials for one very simple fact, and that is because it is going to awaken the Nation's youth to the concept of their part in the larger hypocrisy. I recall arguments favoring the legalization of pot becauseif the government makes such a big deal out of such a harmless substance, the government loses its credibility when it comes to the "hard" drugs. "I shouldn't try heroin because it is illegal? Well, I smoked pot, and that was illegal, and nobody I know has ever gotten hurt from pot? So ..."
"You mean, in thinking about my own pleasure, my own actions can contribute to injustice in the world?" I can only hope that the kids first question the dealers as to whether it is good ol' domestic weed, raised in a friend of a friend's basement. Maybe they then hear about industrial farming practices, and give the farmer's market a try. Hell, the message is a decade late. "Our government is encouraging the Taliban to export heroin in order to fund its efforts in Afghanistan? Maybe we can pressure Congress to stop supporting these wackos before more people get hurt."
I get choked up when I think about September 11. I can feel that tightness in my head and chest, and that tear in the corner of my eye. What happened that day was an atrocity. It was evil, and it was wrong, and it is the sort of thing that I and my countrymen contribute to in other parts of the world on a daily basis because we're too wrapped up in the end-result, the opportunities here at home, to think about how all our prosperity is paid for.
You don't believe me?
Who among you gives a shit about the fate of Kuwait, some podunk principality you've never heard of run by a small, elite, cadre oil barons?
Who among you wants to pay more to live close to work, and shell out $8 / gallon to drive around, because an insane dictator threatens our foreign oil supply?
And how many children in Iraq are starving because we remain in denial about our failure to end the Gulf War? How many Palestinians have lost loved ones and had their homes trashed at the end of weapons supplied to the Isrealis? How many people, the world over, are missing limbs, because they discovered unexploded land mines the hard way? How many of those mines were planted, built, or paid for by Americans? What nation refuses to sign a well-accepted land-mine moratorium?
Why do little boys in Afghanistan grow up twisted and full of hate? How many American weapons did they grow up with in place of toys?
I'm ranting. If you let yourself think about hypocrisy, it drives you mad. There's too much madness in this world. We need to be honest, and figure out what the real problems are, without driving ourselves crazy in the process.
Kurtz: Did they tell you why ... they want to terminate my connection?
Kilgore: They said that you had gone completely insane, and that your wget was un-sound.
Kurtz: Is my wget unsound?
Kilgore: I don't see any wget.
Kurtz: Are you an MCSE?
Kilgore: I'm a Unix Admin.
Kurtz: You're neither. You're a coder, sent by the VP, to implement a virtual class.
I just haven't been studying for Spanish class, and it shows. Ahhh, the academic habits of your youth die hard.
Since I value my civil liberties too much to accept a pre-employment drugs screening, I get to stay in California, making $20,000 more than I would be making had I taken the bank job in Pittsburg.
Just Say No.
Light Pot Use Makes You Smarter.
Note the published headline.
McDonald's is like the California of the Fast Food Industry: where it goes, the rest tend to follow. The juicy bits are here, and from McDonld's itself.
Goldberg: Dear Diary...
I got my paycheck yesterday. My IRS withholding was about twice my salary from the restaurant job. Since I owed the government a little money from last year, I decided to deposit the pay check immediately. I drove down to the Santa Clara Washington Mutual, getting a little lost and at one point making a u-turn I spied a pretty girl in a pretty dress, who noticed me noticing her and smiled at me. Ah, so fantastic, but I really shouldn't be making eye-contact with girls while operating a car. Some day that's going to cause some tragedy.
"Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?"
Allen Ginsburg, "A Supermarket in California"
Let me try something here, myself:
Cupertino The streamlined, eight-laned streets. Bustling with cars. Clones of stores, where the ambiance comes from HQ. I get lost without the street sign, If it is important, shouldn't it be labelled? Nobody cares - urban planning in haste. Wealth is the object. That, and security. Good schools. Proximity to Asian supermarkets. What autonomy of the well-schooled children, Who never leave home outside the mini-van? Autonomy is for sixteen year olds. And for those with imagination.
It is probably too pretentious and clicheed, but it sounds good late-night after a little while with Ginsburg and Whitman.
Bright light is anathema to the tech set. I went to the deli to grab a pastrami sandwich and a disappointing cup of split pea soup, and after eating spent the remainder of my break reading about waiting tables in Barabara Ehrenreich's _Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America_ next to a rock on a grassy hill in the California sun. As I walked through the tinted doors back into the office, I was temporarily blinded by the dimness inside, and I noticed that most of the hall lights are turned off. It felt like walking in to a cabin in the winter.
I remember a camping trip where every time I walked outside the bright snow blinded me so awful that I had to squint for a few minutes before my eyes could take it. Then if I'd go inside it was so dim that I had to blink for a few minutes before my eyes thawed out and adjusted to the dim heat. It felt so primal.
The difference between Transmeta's interior and the sunny climate outside isn't anywhere near that stark, but the imparied vision of my first few seconds inside the office reminded me of that earlier experience. Makes the blood run a little tingly. Or is that the tea I've taken to drinking, because I figure I'm putting a lot less sugar in there than I'd be chugging in a can of pop.
Oh, our revelation for the day: until 1998, there was no legal right of an employee in the United States to use the bathroom. A lot of us take this sort of thing for granted, but, sure enough, there were plenty of workers getting bit by this bug, enough so that such common-sense legislation only makes common sense.
More experimental shit:
America won't use Anwar, 'cause America wants more oil than Anwar's got. Anwar's got animals who eschew oil. Americans imagine oily otters, and brown bison, chewin' grey bark in chill winter, smelling crude oil in the air. Americans prefer desert oil, from Saddam and Osama, who otter sniff crude oil 'stead of American bison.
Thousands march in S.F. protest At least 20,000 decry Bush's Mideast policy, Israeli actions
Good times. More from me later.
A reminiscence from June, 1999, courtesy of Vern, who was riding with me and Eric in my old Beetle when we came North on Shoreline over the Central overpass:
6-10-1999 Near death experience --------------------- Vern: Danny, what the hell are you doing?? Dman: I'm going through the light dude. Brakes are out. Vern: What? Dman: Don't worry. I turned my hazard lights on.
The funny thing about that incident is how cool I was about it. I'd always had trouble with the brakes, and yet I drafted hundreds of Semis on my trip out here, you know, to save wear and tear on the brakes, so if it gets to the point where I have to borrow the bike lane to go through a light, then that's what it has to be, and we're not going to worry because, you know, I put my hazard lights on so as not to look like a compltely wreckless asshole, but to signal to the other drivers that my actions are the result of undue distress.
Quick, sharp, decisive thing - on the micro level.
I'm so cool, I'm chilly!
So, today I start the "late shift" which means I have to monitor the MIS ticket queue from 4-7PM. So, I took my time waking up and stuff, stopping by the coffee shop, and biking to work to get in by 11AM. Five miles, pretty exhausted since I've been fairly sedentary lately, and it turns out that today is Earth Day!
Dang but I'm cool, even if it is not my fault.
Last night I explained to my Japanese pen pal why "water pipe" is not an appropriate approximation for "tap water."
After a lazy morning trip to the coffee shop, I managed the five miles down Central Expressway in to the office with no problem, though I was fairly beat. Worked 'til seven, when it was time for free Vietnamese food, after which I had to digest a little, and was not eager to battle the slight chill and digestive lethargy of that same five mile ride home. So, I biked up to the light rail, cutting my journey to, say, a mile and a half.
I totally need to get some reflectors, though. Fortunately, there's a bike shop on Evelyn in Sunnyvale, on my way to work. Walts, I think it is, so I'll be takin' care of business.