Saturday, June 21, 2003

My back is smarting from some intense coding this week. Full on widget mode as Liz would call it. It becomes hard to remember to get up and stretch.

The project is fun, but it's had the usual frustrations of learning a new language and syntax (ASP.NET), and a new program (Visual Studio). At the beginning of the week I was feeling pretty lousy about the whole thing, but it came together.

I love programming, but it ain't all that great for my back!

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Started watching the new season of the Wire. It was one of my favorite shows last year, and is doing a good job this year as well. It is a pretty unusual cop show. It has all the usual drama of trying to catch criminals, but it takes second seat to the drama of all the relationships in the police department and in the criminal world.

In other words, it's all about politics and survival. For the little fish, its about how to get a decent job, and how to get your overtime pay. For the big fish, it's about how to protect your ass, and move on up. All these struggles play into how well someone will carry out their job.

In many ways, its pretty damn ugly. In the movie, the Untouchables, Sean Connery's character says "Everyone knows where the drugs are, you just have to be willing to carry it out" ( or something like that" ). Here it's the same thing. Everyone knows how everything is laid out it, whether they act on that knowledge depends on how willing the character is to suffer the consequences.

The characters, actors, and the dialog of course make it work. It is really well written. The characters are likeable but often with huge flaws. McNulty, the main character, is a great detective, but a drinker, separated, with questionable fathering skills, and often just an asshole to people. Despite all that, you can't help liking him, because he is one of the few who seems to care about the results of his job. Something which is often is downfall.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

CA Coast Commission photography winners Some very cool stuff.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Been becoming something of a bird watcher of late. Kind of a strange thing to get into maybe. I'm not sure I want to be known as a birder. But I can't help myself. It started last year when my Aunt came over from England, with my cousin. I was amazed about how interested in the birds they were. She bought a bird identity book while she was here and left it with me.

It might not have gone very far, except for the book on crows that I read at the Sierra Club. Crows and their ilk, ravens and jays and magpies, and such are really smart. Well that peaked my interest.

Then I gradually began noticing the birds in my backyard. Beginning with the hummingbird and its bizarre little sound. Then there was the mockingbird. And then over the past few months there's beena couple sharp shinned hawks, a raven -- hanging out with some outraged pigeons down the street, something I'd never seen in SF before, and then a swallow at a conference in the Presidio. Swallows have these cool mud nests that I'd never seen before, and this little gal was having trouble finding its way back with so many people hanging out about outside.

Hummingbirds were there as well. Hummingbirds are fricking amazing. They can move so unbelievably fast. Zipping between flowers, hovering and then boom they are gone again, it's everything you can do just to track them.

So I'm hooked. Birds are damn cool creatures...

Thursday, June 05, 2003

So a couple wednesdays ago, I was on my way home. My stomach was a but uncomfortable, as if I was anxious about something. I had plenty to be anxious about. Liz and I are getting evicted -- not anything we did, the landlord is using a state law to kick everyone out of the building, the only legal means she can get rid of the upstairs neighbors who have been living there 26 years, pay little in the way of rent, and have lots of legal protections being that the leaseholder is a senior. Anyway looking for housing sucks, and a lot of people seem to be looking and our rent is going to go up and most likely for a smaller place. So like I said, plenty to be anxious about.
But after dinner the pain mounts, I try and do a little work, but don't feel well, so head off to bed wondering if I should just head to the bathroom and hurl, but that is not something I relish and so I avoid it.
By 3am, i'm quite unhappy. A anti-gas pill I took has had no affect, so i trundle off to CALA and pick up some Pepto Bismo. I notice someone else in line is buying the same thing.
I manage to throw up an hour later or so, Pepto Bismo fills the toilet bowl.
But much to my surprise I don't feel at all better. I try to force myself to throw up a few more times through the morning but nothing is doing.
By this time, appendicitus has crossed my mind, so I've looked up the symptoms on the web. But they don't seem to fit. I don't have any pain in my lower right abdomen.
The pain had started in my upper stomach and moved down as the morning progressed. I was thinking maybe it was an ulcer or something. But nothing else in the way of stomach ailments quite fits either.
By 9am, I've had all of 10 minutes of sleep and the pain has been growing. I call in sick and decide that Liz thinks that I've got to see the doctor. By this time, I am happy to comply.
Another couple hours pass until my appointment and in that time, I feel my lower right abdomen, and ouch! There it is. Now, i'm just dreading the whole thing, pretty much knowing what is coming, but really more than anything, I just want the pain to go away.
We get there and get in with surprisingly little waiting. Dr. Clinger takes all of 5 minutes to say, "OK. That sounds like an appendicitus and we are going to send you over to ER and you're going to have a little operation."
I get stuck on a wheel chair, we head outside and wait for the shuttle bus. It naturally takes a while. We get in, naturally the driver decides he needs to use the restroom. Now I'm even more certain I know what I have - I just want the whole thing over with, and what if the damn thing bursts? I keep asking myself.
The driver returns and we head out, slowed down a couple times by errant passengers wanting to get on a shuttle which is not going where they want it to go.
We get to ER. We wait. Cops come in with a guy on a stretcher. A guy sits down by us and starts talking about his leg, and swelling and pus. We get called in and I happily hobble off.
Another nurse queries me, takes my pulse, and all that.
"Rule out appendicitus!" They yell as I get led to a room. At this point, I'm very grateful to for all their assistance, because I'm hoping it will lead to relief.
I get my own little curtained off bed. I strip, crawl into bed. Wait. It's cold. Liz gets me a second blanket, and keeps me company. We listen to people in other beds. Passing kidney stones. A doctor, sounding like Mr Rogers talking through a translator, a family member maybe. "have you talked about death issues?" "do you want to be helped?" "okay that's all I needed to hear"
One doctor comes, another run down of my story.
Some blood is drawn off, I'm set up with fittings for an IV, but pain releif will have to wait a while til the other doctor, a surgeon sees me.
She comes in, another run down of the story. I'm getting good at it by now, and I briefly wonder if my story has changed at all to fit the symptoms better. She comes and goes a couple more times. What is going to happen in surgery -- essentially: "we cut skin, the appendix pops out, we snip it". she explains complications. Bursting. Sounds unpleasant, something about having to clean out intestines. I sign a paper saying I want surgery. Drugs are promised, but take a while in coming, I get a stool sample taken instead.
I lay longer wondering about bursting, try to read the funnies. Liz looks worried and i can't help but look pained. She chases down someone.
Drugs come, morphine and some anti-bacterial drug. he says, this will sting your vein, and I think it will be localized, but it happens all over my body, essentially all at the same time. Somewhat pleasant, somewhat unpleasant. The morphine brings releif though, and I sleep for the first time. Liz goes off to make some calls, we'd talked about who we need to tell and all.
A nice, concerned guy from ER, bald, comes and talks to me, gets my story, tells me what's going to happen. I tell him to get Liz, but he can't find her -- I guess cell phones don't work to well in the building. Of course, they choose that time to wheel me off to surgery.
The course through the hospital on a gurney is strange as you might expect, a bit cold, long empty hallways big doors. We get to the OR and I get another curtained off place. Everyone is in blue.
Liz comes, happily for me. The anesthesiologist, is this big beautiful, i assume gay man. He cracks bad jokes, and complains about the poorly done IV hook up in my arm, and tells me more about the drugs, some people might hear voices, but you won't remember. But I'm a little past it already. I get into pee into a bottle. More drugs hit me as more people are introduced, a chipper nurse or surgeons assistant, and Dr. Jackson. I think I tell my story again, or a couple times.
I get wheeled into the OR, as i'm nearing passing out, I'm lifted onto the operating table as i'm introduced to more people, Alain, a big guy there to lift me. I'm on the table, another introduction and that's all I remember.
I slowly come back into conciousness in a big room, it seems like other gurneys are around me. A nurse keeps telling me to stop knocking my gas mask off. i think I'm just itching, I don't actually notice.
Another gurney ride takes me to a room, I climb into bed in pain. I get up to pee in pain. I get hooked to an IV drip that has me wanting to pee every couple hours. After the second time up, I ask for a bottle, but the problem with that is that my stomach muscles don't work so hot, and I can't pee lying down. I have to try and arrange it as best as possible, but it is hard and hurts. Liz comes in and stays with my for a couple hours before I tell her to head home, I have a feeling she won't be getting much sleep. I'm drifting off, and then being awoken by what seems a constant stream of people. Mostly for good reasons, blood pressure tests, more drugs. But a couple visits seems random, I have to sign something at some point. My dressing gets changed. The visits slacken off a little around 2am, but at some point I'm not sleeping so much anymore. The clock is on the wall right in front of the bed.
It's kind of awful, time seems to crawl by. By morning I got the peeing down, expept for the one time that I manage to spill some urine in the bed. Ugh.
visits pick up in the morning. Some surgery team people pop-in in for a whirl wind visit. Beautiful women all of them -- i've noticed that there are a lot of beautiful women all through my stay, except for the one guy.
I count in my head how many people have taken care of me, and I think it is around 30. The morning shift nurses kick me out of bed. I hobble into the bathroom, wash a little, change my hospital gown, and hobble back out. They are giggling and i expect I look ridiculous.
I sit down, get some food, read a little. One of my surgeons tapes up my wound. My last visit. Liz arrives. We hang out some more waiting for more paperwork. My IV stuff is taken out, we are given a little care packet. Liz goes off to get drugs.
I get wheeled out. Rounds of thanks to all the nurses. My wheelchair driver is a chipper young guy, a Daly City Philopinno into fishing, and looking to going to nursing school.
We get me into the car. We go home.
The next few days are painful. Liz has to help me sit or lay down, and get up, put on my socks. Peeing takes a while and I seem to be full of liquid. Liz is amazed.
Two weeks later and I feel fine. Very little pain now. Pretty damned amazed myself.

here i am all drugged up and happily appendix free. ok I don't look happy but I am. really. ok maybe not, but I was a lot worse off 12 hours earlier.

what was holding my guts in for a few days was tape.

the light through a beer I had after a hard morning of looking at apartments.

"the new new new economy" i.e. the same old economy.

my first public display of art.

people seemed impressed, and not just friends of mine. i was happy.

the stuff one sees when looking for apartments.

Monday, June 02, 2003

REVIEW Matrix Reloaded In short? it kinda sucked. In length? FYI -- !!!Spoilers!!! Some have forgiven the movie somewhat for being the middle movie, but I have not. It was at the same time flashier, and weightier. It did not balance well to have amazingly sequenced martial arts sequences intersperced with weighty, ponderous, difficult, philosophical and explanatory speeches. There was no flow there. But that is just a ten thousand foot view of the problems of this movie.

Most troubling at the detailed level was NEO's abilities. When we left the Matrix last, NEO, was able to see the Matrix as code like no other. He's able to tear apart an agent from the inside, stop bullets and fly. No when we reenter the Matrix we find that these abilites don't seem all that great after all, he can fly, he can see that the Oracle is a computer program, he can stop bullets still, but otherwise he still fights with kungfu? This doesn't make sense, and no explanation for this is given. No explanation for this is given.

I can think of a good one -- maybe using his powers to screw with the Matrix attracts the worst sort of attention. Every time he turns an agent inside out now, the powers that be do all they can do to stop him, other more powerful agents than are normally required, etc.

Really this is a failure of imagination and a falling back to tried and true, lets just see kungfu. But this ain't new any more, and the over the top fight scenes just don't really do it. Partly, I think, because he always wins. Part of the enjoyment of the first movie, was seeing him grow into his powers. That could have been explored more, he should be able to walk through walls, been able use his powers like Darth Vader, pulling shit from the walls, pulling bricks from a building to fight agent smith. We understand why the other humans rely on kung fu, but NEO should be past that. Or even funner would be NEO playing around with the super hero powers he has ( hey look Spider man, he look now I'm the incredible hulk), maybe a little drunk on his abilities, and maybe a little dissappointed now when he has to leave.

Other problems, are perhaps more nit picky, but why is the machine agent in exile, the French dude, so keen on beautiful women. Ok so he's into French Wine and decadence and whatnot, but that seemed a little too pat for someone who is into beautiful elegant code -- it seems more like they needed an excuse for Persephone to betray him.

They rave/sex FLESH scene. A fun video and great music perhaps, but just a tad over the top in my book.

My guess is that the ZION world is going to turn out to be another level of virtual reality, given NEO's sudden ability to shut down machine robots. Otherwise, they are moving into another level of kookiness that is just going to be even dumber.

Alas, I being human, had hoped that the hollywood machine might churn out a better movie.