Archive for April, 2006

Walking (walking away (walking with my back toward the world again today))

I think I’ve been unusually piss-off-able lately, and I’m not sure why. I don’t think Aunt Irma is an issue for menfolk, especially for an entire month, but I’m starting to wonder. I was probably no more irritated / irritable today than any Normal Person given the same circumstances, but for me I considered it significant, because I normally don’t piss off easily at all.

This fine day started off with our annual performance review at work. The format of this has changed once again, but this time for the (far) worse: I don’t/can’t know the specifics, because the process is entirely opaque (in fact, I didn’t know we were even having them until I saw a statistically significant number of people in DG’s office the past couple days with the door closed), but it appears that Management*, which sits scattered around the building (WHERE ‘scattered around the building’ != ‘my office’), is now evaluating individual engineers on such equally unobservable things as our problem-solving process, etc. Since much of what I do is too complicated to be explained (especially by me, who has enough trouble composing a sentence in realtime with all the words in the right order), and hidden inscrutibly in flash ROM**, they have no idea, on the nitty-gritty level, what goes on in ELAB, and so this system of review bothers me somewhat. Luckily(?), for questions for which they clearly have no reference base, they’ll most likely just say ‘average’ for everything.

On thing in particular melted my cheese though: one not-quite-anonymous reviewer actually wrote: “was unable or unwilling to complete DSP project in time”. Yeah, that DSP. Yup, that’s the one***. Unable, yeah, I’ll hand that to ’em on a platter. I should have realized early on that I was in over my head and thrown in the towel. (Technically, I should have told [as politely as possible] the person who dropped it in my lap to fuck off and hire an actual DSP guy to do it, but then I might have looked…unwilling…BTW, telling your boss to fuck off, even politely, is commonly regarded as a career-limiting move.) Instead, I burned night after night grinding on it, assuming “there’s no WAY the hardware is that braindead, I must just be doing something wrong, and as soon as I figure it out, it’ll be smooth sailing from there.” Not as if I had anything better to do during this time frame. So in light of all my late nights in the office, I’d say “…or unwilling…” is stretching the silly putty a bit (and/or that I am owed an apology).

(I know, I know, just 2 days ago I was saying how much I love my workplace, and that’s still true. I just feel like ranting right now.)

There were random little things today that pissed me off more than they should. I had stuff to transport and was meeting GJM in Davis, so I drove to work today. On the way, there’s one of these funny 3-way intersections where, due to screwy layout and high-traffic crosswalk next to a college campus, it has a green light for about 6 seconds per minute. The minivan in front of me decides that this six-second window is the perfect time to park in the middle of the single lane, put the blinkers on and start loading and unloading passengers. On the way to Anna’s afterward, I spy an open parking space, put on my blinker and am about to back into it, when the jerkoff behind me swoops in from behind with the forward slide. Little stuff. On the way out of Anna’s I bumped into my ex and Three of N (James?), and after much waving and looking like an ass managed to elicit a word out of her (“hi”) in passing, but I had somewhere to be, and presumably so did they, and they were in opposite directions, so that was that. I think this also contributed to my general pisseditude, even though it logically shouldn’t.

* I’m usually pretty cool with them all, and prefer to think of them as individual humans rather than some lump of process called Management. But bear with me here.

** the typical observable for management is sort of a “works/doesn’t work” flag; because unless I yell “heads up!” and physically throw it at them (i.e. the Noiseballs prototype), they never really see an end product beyond “Tim did something, and it does something”. It’s all little green squiggles anyway.

*** in fact, if you have a look at the plant picture there, you’ll notice it’s taken in front of a window, and outside that window there’s dark. Not generic “late afternoon in december” dark, but that deep, inky, 9-pm-on-a-friday-what-the-fuck-am-I-still-doing-at-work dark.

Top 15 practical uses for duct tape in the bedroom

Practical uses for duct tape in the bedroom:

15. To insulate grindable or chippable (etc.) surfaces against wear/damage due to excessive banging, rattling, friction or lateral motion; or to dampen noise / squeaking from same.

14. Vibration control.

13. To secure the paper bag, should the direness of your straits require one.

12. If there are people sleeping in the next room / house, and she’s a screamer.

11. To securely fasten items within easy reach.

10. For the removal of unwanted hair / fur. (Or skin, if you aren’t careful, so be careful.) A.K.A. last-minute Bush Jobs.

9. If your activities specify a control system, attach one end to a sensitive patch of your partner’s skin and hang onto the other. Apply negative feedback as necessary.

8. For costume play.

7. For securing down loose breakable items, clocks, chargers, figurines, etc.

6. For covering gaps in a doorjamb / keyholes / windows, in nosey environments.

5. To eliminate unwanted sources of lighting or glare. (see previous)

4. For temporarily holding pieces together while epoxying a bedframe back together.

3. For emergency prophylaxis repair. (Only kidding folks, don’t try this at home. Yours or anyone else’s.)

2. For the tying up of persons, places, or things.

And the number one practical use for duct tape in the bedroom is…
1. For fixing up the ductwork in your room, of course.

(There you have it folks, the list that precipitated the office letch* running breathlessly into me with “Quick, I need to know how to un-send an email!” after accidentally forwarding it to a client with the same last name as a buddy of his – beware the all-singing, all-dancing power of AutoComplete!)

* no, not me, the other office letch…JP.

Take Your Sex Toys To Work Day

I have a pretty cool workplace. I can wear “stupid people in large groups” or “duct tape in the bedroom” or even my dildo shirt without worrying about somebody complaining; there’s a beer fridge in our conference room, and you can often find a small gathering cracking a couple cold ones after hours. They tolerate my geekish tendencies, even occasionally come and talk to me when they don’t want something. I could probably dye my hair blue, if I wanted to.

But maybe bringing the vibrator to work was a bad idea. Continuing the aftermarket trance vibe project, a toy was acquired this weekend, carefully stowed in my office, then brought down to ELAB after hours so I could dissect it and find out how much current the motors drew, attack the control box’s mounting hole pattern with a pair of calipers, and throw together a little USB PIC test jig to write the firmware on while I wait for the official boards to come back. Anyway, it’s well after 6, and I’m enjoying the relative quiet and privacy of the deserted basement area, when all of the suddent there are footsteps in the lab. I look up just in time to see a face pop around the corner of the doorway. It was VH*, probably one of the most sweet & innocent women I know.

And there I am with a soldering iron in one hand and a vibrator in the other. I palmed The Big Egg as best I could, then spent probably 20 uncomfortable minutes trying to explain, “Well, there’s this game called Rez, and it comes with this vibrating peripheral that goes in your, eh, shirt pocket, but it’s discontinued, so I’m re-engineering a replacement…”, without letting on that the particular off-the-shelf vibrating attachments I had with me were designed not for pagers or game controllers, but for use in places where they couldn’t be solar-powered.

Anyway, the verdict on the eggs: Holy crap, these things are powerful…and that’s just with me holding one in my hand. Most likely explanation is that I’m actually operating them way over spec by testing on the bench supply instead of batteries (an ideal current/voltage source as opposed to a heavily limited source with about 50 ohms series resistance per cell). At 3VDC a single motor drew nearly an amp; the device, as it comes off-the-shelf, has 2 of these wired in parallel. Holy exploding USB ports batman! That’s no good. When put in series, they draw a slightly more reasonable 400mA, which is within the USB spec (500mA max. per device).

Interestingly (but, I guess, not surprisingly), the current drawn by an egg was very load-dependent: less when hanging free, and significantly more when held tightly in the hand (which would constrain its motion, putting a higher mechanical load on the weighted motor as it fought its own inertia).**

* there are people you don’t really worry about, and people you try not to offend because they might stick it to you somehow, e.g. get you canned or sued; then there are people you try to avoid being crass in front of on principle alone – she’s one of the latter.

** I never really considered that before – this could technically be used to measure the..er..snugness of wherever it was placed. Imagine your USB dildo reporting stats back to some kind of “am I tight or not?” site! heheh. Patent!

Don’t write conference descriptions before lunch

From the list of discussions at the Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference* this year:

MASTERING MDA COMPOSABLE SYSTEMS BOUILLABAISSE
presented by John Singer, Objective Interface Systems

Bring your requirements and tools and together we’ll create a savory real-time dish, steeped in technology yet palatable to management. Using the Finest Ingredients: 2C Real-time CORBA base 2C Data Distribution Services 1 Part Partitioning Communications System 1 Dash communications stack of your choice Directions: Fold together CORBA and DDS until well composed. Add PCS security to accreditors taste. Simmer with DO-178B seasoning. When certified, top with Common Criteria Sauce, and serve up the profits.

* I’ll be there; April 27 in Framingham, MA. Anyone else interested?

E(vent)ful weekendish

More than my fair share of drama during this timeframe, but that’s already been ranted elsewhere here. I’ll probably do a bit more ranting later, then try to forget about it all…

Thurs.: Seder dinner at J.R.’s place! (I’m not Jewish, but I can fake it convincingly…especially when there’s such good food to be had!) Best. Turkey. Ever. Not only a great dinner get-together though; also an educational experience. I don’t normally like singing, especially in languages I don’t know, but the whole thing was a sanely symbolic representation of Biblical history – IMO, a lot better symbology than a magic bunny leaving his chocolate eggs in the yard for little kids to find.

Sat.: Bought over $300 worth of pot at Macy’s…okay, not myself, but I did watch the deal go down. Being a hopeless bachelor dude (whose idea of “cooking” usually involves a can opener and a magnetron), I don’t normally get excited about cookware. But that’s before I saw a raw egg dropped directly onto one of the non-stick pans right out of the box, made non-raw, and swirled around and around effortlessly by slightly moving the pan. No butter, grease or anything. It slid right off onto a plate with a slight tilt, and it looked like the pan wouldn’t even have to be washed. Hover-egg.

Then, since it was across the street, convenient, and I’ve been meaning to do it for a long time, I was dragged popped into Ye Olde Cellphone Store since my phone (ahem, phone) was getting long in the tooth and couldn’t be converted from rapacious pre-pay to a real plan. TheOuchBrick (affectionately named after I dropped it on my bare foot once) is out of my pocket and will be officially retired in about a month when its minutes expire. Man, I loved that phone…it was a tank. I could (and even did once, for demonstration purposes) put it on the sidewalk and stand on it without worrying about it breaking. Then again, its replacement, a Motorola E815, includes a still/video camera, mp3 player, Bluetooth, BREW2.0, a Web browser, fullmotion video playback, personal organizer, alarm clock, and a working kitchen sink. And best of all, it appears to be easily hackable with an inexpensive data cable to unlock Verizon’s intentionally crippled Bluetooth and transfer media in/out of the phone without going through some ridiculous pay service. (Me, mess with something I shouldn’t? heh… I just looked around my room and realized that besides the phones, my alarm clock is the only pieces of electronics in my room that I haven’t modified in some way.)

Sushi, Failure To Launch, then hung out in the lab (rat cells lab, not my electronics lab), plundered the electronics recycling plunder-pile in the basement (found an ancient DEC optical drive with motors/coils that would make good rodentpower generators).

Sun: REPAIR TABLE [IF EXISTS] table_reference FORCEINDEXREBUILD
Saturday night, as I was all semi-crashed-out, I heard a crash followed by some unhappy language from the next room. J.R. and her mom (grr…must…resist…urge…to…strangulate) were at war, and somehow a big, borrowed cafeteria-style folding table got broken. (The legs ripped out of the table and the folding mechanism got bent up a bit.) Turned out to be an easy fix, with powertools to the rescue! For some reason I love power tools… it’s fun and somewhat fulfilling to fix things, at least those things which can be fixed.

Mon: Daytime – pressed into service as an IT Guy, soldering-iron-wielding style, when the project server at work dies (failed PSU) and there’s no replacement to be had anywhere in the building. Turns out the powersupply was mostly fine; its fan died (could rotate freely, but just sat there drawing a ton of current instead of spinning), so the server would randomly shut down every few minutes as it overheated. Lacking any underpaid IT monkeys, it’s more cost-effective to just replace the PSU than go digging around inside and replacing components, but there were no spares, I had shit to do, and it all lived on that server, so I spent (and billed) 2 hours soldering and heatshrinking a new fan into a dusty $30 power supply. ;-)

Tech (to woman holding a broken clothes iron): “Ma’am, I’m an electronics expert. Would you ask Einstein to add up your grocery bill?” – Electronics Illustrated, c. 1969

Evening – Sauced at Sauce. Maybe less than sauced, at the restaurant formerly known as Sauce in Davis Square. Met up there with some of the work crew to celebrate PB’s completion of the Boston Marathon. Woot! Had my arm twisted to drink a big pink Cosmo, and chased it with a Guinness. (“Tim, you’re the only guy I know who can pull that off.” -DG) Ate some oysters and questionable clams, but didn’t get sick on them.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.


I thought the future held
a perfect place for us
That together we would learn to be
the best that we could be
In my naivety I ran
I fell and lost my way
Somehow I always end up falling over me

I’m pretty naive sometimes, in matters concerning people. I very seldom lie–pretty much if I do, it’s to protect someone–and I’m still terrible at it, and still feel like shit in the process. I have this nasty habit of thinking everyone is kind of the same way, and tend to take the words of someone I care about at face value unless I’ve been given compelling cause to do otherwise. Even when it’s obvious that someone is being indirect with me, I tend to believe that there’s a good reason, which is just not observable to me at that time.

And fucking hell, when I fall for it, I fall hard.


Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, ‘The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

If there’s one thing I value in a relationship, it’s honesty. In my book, there is only one thing worse (far worse) than being cheated on, and that’s being lied to. I don’t care if it’s with the goal of protecting my feelings, or a favorable living situation, or whatever. Lies are still lies, and I took statistics in college. If someone will effortlessly lie to me once, they will probably lie to me twice. And if they’ll lie to me twice… you can see where I’m headed with this. Finding out that someone’s just been lying their face off to me just makes me unable to ever really trust that person ever again.

(Okay, I take that back: I took statistics, but I guess I didn’t exactly do well in it. It was funny to me when she was cheating on *** with me, because he was an abusive prick and he deserved it. I always figured that was the reason. Now that I’m the **n+1, it isn’t so funny anymore.)

And while lying, there are some things you just don’t joke about. I probably seem like the type that you can joke about anything with and I’ll take it in stride, but that is not always the case. This February, I let slip in the lunchroom at work that I was in a relationship, and one known jokester flippantly replied something to the effect of: “And she likes you? You shouldn’t be picking up girls at the mental hospital…”

I was the most fucking pissed I’d been in a very long time. I knew he didn’t know anything about the situation; that he was just cracking wise and didn’t mean anything by it, but that hit a raw nerve. I gave him a stare that would have melted diamond. I (barely) held my tongue…I so nearly just went off on him, and having recently researched several antipsychotic medications, almost came down with an entire list of reasons that would be the worst place to pick up a girl on top of it, neatly spoiling the whole thread of jokes (having mainly to do with sex), but I was already starting to get some weird looks from around the room, so I just stormed out instead.

Like I said, there are some things that just aren’t a joking matter. Child sexual abuse is one of them. You don’t make up a story like that (or even use, non-made-up) as an excuse for why you’re shying away from anything physical, while you’re fucking at least three different people on the side. I have family who were molested, and have dated (very carefully) someone who was raped repeatedly by a family member, so I guess that shit touches a nerve too.


The secrets that she keeps away from me
The tears on her pillow she don’t want me to see
Well every little thing she does is for me
But somebody new…is breaking us in two

There’s this thing I’m fond of saying: “I’d rather know than not know.” If I’m fucking up in a relationship somehow, doing something wrong, or something annoying, I need to know. If it’s on the rocks for some other reason, even if it’s outside my locus of control, I need to know. If someone else (or half a dozen someone elses) has swooped in and swept her off her feet, and she’s just plain not into me anymore, I need to know. Preferably as soon as she knows that this is the case. Yeah, it’s going to hurt me (fuck does it ever), but I’d still rather know, finally and definitively, than to be lied to and led on in some inscrutible and indeterminate state, maybe as a contingency plan in case partners n+k don’t work out, maybe as a source of free food and lodging and rides that hasn’t been depleted yet, maybe under the assumption that whatever I don’t know can’t hurt me. Not be told that everything’s “fine” when it quite clearly isn’t, and I can read it in her eyes and voice like a pop-up book. Not sit up night after night worried, wondering what I’m doing wrong, what I’m doing that’s causing it to fail. Wondering how long I should hold on, how long and how hard I should chase the answers that I seek. Wondering, but not knowing, whether and when I should just cut my losses and move on.

and everything you touch leaves a mark on your soul…

I’ve seen a lot of rude, arrogant jerks in my day; they lie, they cheat, they womanize; they make layer upon layer of contingency plans, relationship-wise, to be tapped into service the moment things start heading south with the current one (or, when they’re bored or she’s not in the mood), and they have the nerve to call themselves Men. I’ve never understood, in my naive little world, how anyone could behave like that; how anyone could be so disrespectful to someone they told themselves they cared about. There is a time in all of our lives when we want to be firefighters, or doctors, or some other form of heroes, because humankind is great and the ultimate purpose in our future lives is to contribute to that greatness in whatever way that we can. There’s a time when policemen are our friends, and a time when Santa Claus, Jesus Christ and the Easter Bunny sit on a cloud high above, having dinner together and reminiscing about the good old days like our grandparents; almost as the grandparents of the kind and gentle world.

Somewhere along the line though, an interesting thing happens: we grow up. As we do, we realize that a lot of it is bullshit, and a lot of it isn’t worth saving. We get burnt, we get lied to, we get tread on. We realize that the only way to compete in that brave new world is to burn, lie to, and tread on right back; even, to get them before they have a chance to get us.

Maybe this is where those jerks start. Perhaps, behind each one was once a true gentleman, bending over backward to give a troubled girl everything she needed, no matter how it destroyed him in the process; there for her during even the worst of times; dropping everything if he could make her smile just once. Maybe that only changes after they’ve been shit on a few times, and I just haven’t noticed because I’ve been falling behind the shitting-on curve and long overdue. If so, I worry. Much as I like to claim myself so logical and unemotional as to be invincible from the ways and means of my fellow silly humans, I can’t convince myself, much less prove to myself, that this will have no effect on me.

I no longer need concern myself with what I’m doing wrong or how I can recover the situation, but at least I can sit up tonight staring at the ceiling, until 7:45 tomorrow morning, waiting for the alarm to go off, wondering if I might find myself a little less gentle, a little less open, a little less trusting of the next girl I start seeing.


With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

I guess I knew what I was getting into. I’ve known it for a while, and should not have been surprised. I should be looking back on this and saying that I’ve done some good, served a worthwhile purpose. I did a lot of homework, research on her behalf. I helped her out of an abusive relationship, and got her out of her psycho parents’ house. I lied for her, the best I could, and it hurt. I pacified her father when he called me out of the blue after a blowout family fight, assured him I’d do my best to keep her there, even as I was making the plans to spirit her away. I was there when no one else would be, despite threatening letters from the very jealous, very bipolar partner of that time. I kept her from killing herself. And I took her in when she had no place else to go. I should feel good right now, or something, but for some reason I don’t.

QOTD: (last weekend) “You know when you have a baby, and it’s full of life and all the promise and potential in the world, and then you drop it on its head and make it retarded? That’s what you’re doing when you put raisins in oatmeal cookies.” -LE

Empty rooms that echo as I climb the stairs. Empty clothes that drape and fall on empty chairs

I’ve always considered myself a one-woman man. (Actually, that’s usually one more than I can handle ;-) ) But a few nights ago, the idea of polyamory was suggested–by my girl, no less–and, while it doesn’t sound like something I’d be either into or good at, I guess I’ve been giving it some thought. I’m in a relationship that, technically, is probably closer to serious (e.g. by all technical measures, only two clicks away from the big M), further than any to date… so why do I feel so eerily alone?

I was asked by a good friend what it was like, and I had to answer honestly…”pretty much just like being single, except with less closet space.” There are perfectly valid, though currently unobservable, reasons for this, I’m sure. But I guess it’s just not what I was expecting right now. I’m not ready to give up or anything. I remember all of our good times, and furthermore, I don’t give up easily. But the idea of seeing a theoretical someone else on the side (with my gf’s blessing) is starting to sound less evil and cheat-y. (Although in reality, given my statistical dating track record, that would be in 2008.)

I’m not even looking for sex so much–I had my lifetime supply of that a couple years back, and like ice cream, it was good, but you can’t live on that alone–but I’d feel a lot better about a relationship if my partner would actually talk to me once in a while. I kind of knew what I was getting into, at least in an abstract theoretical sense (when you’re with someone very unique, expect to be confused most of the time), and know that, in all likelihood, this is a temporary state, but I can’t help feeling hurt and inept every time. Am I completely screwing up? Did I do something to royally piss her off and she just won’t tell me? Is she just refraining from officially dumping my ass out of fear that if she does, I might kick her out of my house or something? Yeah, I know, if I were smart, I’d hide any such insecurity and act like a complete arrogant jerk so that she’d swoon for me, but that would feel too much like lying, and I’m not a liar. So instead I’ll sit on the oscillatory fencepost between upstairs and downstairs, wondering if I should come down and talk to her, send her an instant message, or none of the above.

Baby, sometimes I feel like dying, driving while I’m closing my eyes

Yeah, I’m ranty lately…

I was up this morning dropping my girl off at work#3, in an area of town I’m not that familiar with. I’d take a bullet for this girl, but that doesn’t mean I won’t rant about it afterward ;) Anyway… I don’t mind driving in Boston so much when I know exactly where I’m going, but I really hate going someplace for the first time. Especially on any sort of a deadline. It makes my inner engineer cringe, seeing a needlessly broken system that could easily be, if not fixed outright, improved by one or two orders of magnitude with only minimal effort, but isn’t.

Back home, if you got off onto an unknown street somewhere, they were at least straight and sane enough that you still knew approximately where you were, and could still find your way to where you were going by alternate routes. I know more than one person with a GPS navigational widget in their car, and those things can’t figure it out either. They most often show their virtual car as between two streets, or on the next one over, for as long as something vaguely parallels the one they’re on. “Recalculating…”

All right, so the streets all follow hey-now-brownian-cow paths that wander in circles and intersect themselves (like the way a crystal-growth pattern would look if you could grow crystals out of wet pasta), and there’s not much that can be done about it at this stage of the city’s development. (I’d say ripup-and-retry, but I’ve been in the schematic editor far too long this week.) But are a few street signs too much to ask?

Finished street name signs, even custom one-off novelty ones, run under $17 apiece from commercial vendors. In small joe-blow quantity, 100-mil thickness aluminum stock runs about 18.6 cents per square inch; in any reasonable volume, same could be painted and laminated (even anodized) for relative peanuts.

(All the usual “guys are too embarrassed to ask for directions” cliches aside, it is really fucking embarrassing to have to stop and ask someone, not “where is X street?”, but what street you are currently driving on, after you’ve taken an arbitrary unmarked street because it seemed like the closest mile-match from your last turn according to the crummy directions you’re following, and have now spent the last five miles looking for street signs identifying not only the next turn, but whether this is in fact the right street.) That didn’t happen today, at least (this was actually relatively smooth, and getting from there to my own job took probably less than 15 min.), but it’s happened, at least to me, far too many times.

I suppose it’s theoretically possible that every street was labelled at one time, and random idiots over the years have scaled lightpoles under cover of darkness and stolen them all, but I doubt it: name a street “High Street”, as substance-loving (or hill-loving) city planners love to do, and you can expect to replace it periodically when a flickering lightbulb appears over the heads of a cluster of stoners thinking “Duuude! That would look sooo sweet in my room.” However, most of Boston’s streets don’t have nearly such exciting names (except perhaps the ironically named Park Drive, which was marked), and eventually, the underground market for e.g. Western Ave signage has to reach saturation.

OK, I feel ranty

Ah, Boston. Where mid ’70s can be followed by hail and then snow in April. I think it’s snowed in April every year I’ve lived here.

It’s been a while since I wrote something of any personal substance here. That ‘something’ usually ends up being a rant, so without further ado…

Lately I’ve been an order of magnitude more bored/boring and aimless than usual. This just happens from time to time, and I don’t know why. If anything, the opposite should be true: it’s finally getting (with the exception of the last couple days) nice and tolerable out, opening a wealth of possible enjoyable things to do, and I’ve got (as of just last week) an awesome girl to hang out with. But lately, especially the last few weeks, it’s like nothing at all is interesting or worthwhile. I find myself struggling to keep a conversation going on AIM, a soft, non-realtime environment if ever there was one. I find myself walking out of after-hours brainstorm/beerstorm/bull sessions at the office (which I typically enjoy), without a word after realizing nobody’s said anything remotely interesting in over a half-hour (e.g. referencing subjects other than pop-culture, TV and sports, none of which I am competent enough in to contribute to a conversation about), and I’ve just been staring off into space.

(Heh, not that I’m exactly talkative to begin with… but usually I’m at least lost in thought, or thinking something I *would* say if someone else would find it interesting/understandable, just not actually saying it because those conditions aren’t met. But in this case, it seems like I’m not even thinking anything.)

In short, it’s as if the whole world around me is simultaneously going through a collective dumb-n-pointless spell, which seems unlikely, so it’s probably just me going through an unusually boring phase. Sure, like most of my unexplained emotional(?) states, this is temporary and it, too, shall pass. But it still bugs me.

* * *

And of all the times for me to become the Most Boring Guy On Earth, it has to be at the start of a new relationship, one that I really happen to like. I kind of overthink and over-worry things too much in general, and she’s been here five days now without running away screaming, but what keeps rattling around my skull is, “How long until I fuck this up somehow?” I seem to have a knack for doing that. There’s a lot of stuff that I don’t do (for reasons of privacy, I won’t elaborate) that “should” make me a step up from a previous partner, but if it were that easy, I’d have had a lot more dates by now ;) But I’m really no good at this shit, and can’t read people well enough to tell if I’m hugely fucking up and they’re just too polite to say something. Do I come and hang with her while she’s surfing the internet in the living room (too clingy)? Or do I disappear to my own room and do something (ignoring her too much)? What’s the rule on AIM’ing someone in the same house, so you can talk to them without it feeling like you’re getting in the way of their privacy? I’ve had relationships where I expected it to fail and didn’t really care, but this isn’t one of them. I need an instruction manual.

* * *

Among my bedroom’s superfluous sources of artificial light is … what do you call those things? One of those blinking amber traffic-hazard lights, usually seen at the top of an orange-and-white barrel. An old-school one, from back when they were made of cast metal. (For anyone wondering, it was found already snapped off; we didn’t swipe a good one.) The original electronics inside were dead, so I replaced them with a simple light-controlled circuit that could be set to either stay on constantly or blink in an authentic fashion. I brought it with me to Boston at some point, but it seemed to not want to work anymore after the trip, and I forgot about it, plugged in and everything.

Anyway, expecting company that might appreciate a night light, last week I tried to get it running. I flipped it on and off, banged it around, jiggled all the wires and tested the wall-wart; nothing. Probably a good 15 minutes of banging, jiggling and testing, but I had better things to do that evening, so I left it alone again.

Last night my girl came to bed, and (really apologetic about waking me up) asked if I could turn off the light. I was still half-asleep (eyes closed) and had no idea what she was talking about at first…then I saw the blinking. Sure enough, I must have left the blinkenlight switched on, because the damn thing decided to start working again sometime after I fell asleep. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for that*, but it freaked me out, and probably her too.

*for all I know, given Boston housing, the outlet it’s plugged into is tied to an unmarked mystery switch in the neighbors’ basement or something.

Oh Noes! Text document security vulnerability

Remote Incorrection Vulnerability Affects Textual Internet Documents

Why yes, it *is* April 1st, why do you ask? ;-)