Category Archives: Random thoughts

My Life as a Hat Box: Chapter 1

Once upon a time there was a cat.

This cat wasn’t just any cat, however. He was a cool cat. A funky cat. A cat with no name. Well, he actually had a name, but most of the audio components that comprise his name are too glorious for mere human ears. All that’s left is the husk of sound that, roughly translated, comes out as “Mmmrrowww.” We’ll just call him “M.”

As you might imagine, M was more than just an ordinary cat. By day he was a power-napping, pad-scratching, catnip-loving domestic feline. By night, a fearsome street predator, a licensed private investigator, and an aspiring author of semi-biographical literature.

Each night M waited until his pets – that is, his humans – were asleep. Then, donning his gray felt fedora, he’d slip out and head downtown to his office on the corner of 11th and Main. There’s not much work for a feline private investigator to be had these days; not yet, anyway. It was probably inevitable that he would find something to while away the hours. That something was writing.

M started small, jotting down rough concepts for short fiction on a steno pad, then erasing and revising and re-revising until it they were perfect. He wound his way through cat romance, explosive exposes, and even a brief period where he wrote nothing but neo-beatnik free-association poetry. When his “My Life as a Hat Box” hit the New York Courier-Times Top 100, though, he knew he had hit the big time.

“Hey, cat, get off of that hat box! You’re going to crush it,” she said, her eyes flashing with fire.

See, people have this misconception that every one of a cat’s fabled nine lives is as a feline. Sometimes, usually, we come back as cats. Once in a while, for some of us, we come back as something else. My third life was as a hat box. A very large hat box. A cat hat box.

“Mm-mmrow-meoooooww,” I said. I think she knew what I meant: “Lady, look, I was a hat box. I know how to stack properly. Really. Trust me.”

Amazing. Just… amazing.

A Bedtime Story

Once upon a time, there lived a little girl with beautiful, golden curly hair. Her name was Goldilocks, and she played every day in the forest behind her home. Oh, did she play! She played and played from the faint light before dawn to just before lunchtime, bringing the breakfast of Nature Valley Granola Bars and a half pint of 1% milk that her mother packed for her each night before going to bed. She was a sweet girl, too, often sharing bits of oats and seeds with the birds, chipmunks, and other forest creatures, and they (usually) rewarded her kindness with friendly chittering and even an occasional nuzzle of her nose.

One day, however, Goldilocks’ mother fell ill. She was so ill, in fact, that she went to bed at 7:30 p.m., without even packing a breakfast for the poor girl. When Goldilocks awoke to the sound of the robins’ doodle-doo announcement of the imminent arrival of the faintest glimmer of pre-dawn, she donned a lovely, age- and activity-appropriate outfit, raced into the kitchen, and… found nothing to eat.The young lady, undeterred by this setback, decided quickly upon a plan of action. Gummi bears? Check. Half pint of mother’s skim (ew) milk? Check. Handful of coconut M&Ms? Bonus check! And off she flew to the forest.

You can probably guess what happened next. Yes, she ate all of the candy, nearly before the sun rose. Yes, she drank all of the skim (eww) milk. That helped for a while, but it really wasn’t enough. Really, really wasn’t enough. In fact, barely 73 minutes and 12 seconds after she left home, Goldilocks was ravenous.

Fortunately (according to one perspective), in her manic state – brought on by the massive sugar intake and perhaps a bit of genetics – she had ventured further into the forest than she had ever gone. “What is that smell?” she wondered. “That wonderful, awful, delicious smell?” Hardly traveling twenty steps further, and bursting into a clearing with a well-manicured lawn, she found the source of olfactory delight: a quaint two story thatched roof cottage. The aromas of fresh porridge and cut fruit wafted towards Goldilocks, calling her like the Sirens of old beckoned sailors to their doom.

She momentarily considered the possibility of danger. Then, she dismissed it. “I’m ever so hungry,” she thought. “There’s plenty, and I’m sure they won’t miss it.”

Goldilocks entered the cottage by way of the kitchen door and found three bowls of porridge waiting; an enormous bowl, a minuscule bowl, and a middle-sized bowl. Taking a bite from the largest, she exclaimed, “Ow! That’s too hot!” A similar bite from the smallest evinced a frown; “too cold,” she said. “That’s just disgusting.” By this time, in agony with hunger pangs, she was overjoyed to find that the moderately sized bowl was also moderately warm. “Just right,” she said. “And delicious, too. It could use a hint of nutmeg, but this is adequately adequate.”

This was a much larger breakfast than Goldilocks usually ate. It was filling, too. All of that playing and eating made her sleepy. At this point she could have slept on the floor, but it occurred to her that must be some perfectly good beds that nobody would need until at least afternoon. It didn’t take her long to find them, either. Upstairs, there was an enormous bed (too hard), a minuscule bed (too short), and a moderately sized bed that was slightly lumpy but otherwise just right. As she lay down for a brief rest, she told herself: “Just a brief rest, and we’ll be on our way.”

❖ ❖ ❖

Shortly after, the owners of the cottage returned. They were a family of Beavers; Papa Beaver, Momma Beaver, and Baby Beaver. (You can be forgiven if you assumed they were Bears; some hapless scribe in the 17th century, so poorly educated that he didn’t realize that “v” was actually a letter, removed every “v” from the story; and realizing that “Beaer” didn’t look quite right, reasoned that the family must actually be the Bear family. But, I digress.)

Being unaware that anything had transpired in their absence, the Beavers were shocked and dismayed to learn that someone had tasted their porridge.

“Someone’s been eating my porridge!” Papa Beaver bellowed.

“Someone’s been eating my porridge, too!” shouted Baby Beaver.

“Oh, my word. Someone rightly devoured my porridge! All of it,” whispered Momma Beaver.

Anxious to discover the culprit, the family searched through their house. They checked the living room chairs (all intact and un-sat in); they checked the bathroom and the laundry room (really, the same room); and finally they checked upstairs in the bedroom.

“Someone’s messed up my bed-covers!” said Papa Beaver.

“Someone’s pushed the pillows off my bed,” a trembling Baby Beaver cried.

“Someone’s been sleeping in my bed,” growled Momma Beaver. “And not only that, she’s still here!”

The Beaver family bared their frightful incisors and growled a Growl of Great Ferocity. Startled awake, Goldilocks took one look at the angry rodent family and decided that it was a perfect time to excuse herself from the premises. She ran off without a word, unless you count the ear-splitting consonant-less shriek that carried on the still morning air for what seemed like an eternity.

Papa Beaver didn’t like to see the glum look on Momma Beaver’s muzzle, but realized that the girl-intruder’s theft of porridge left too little for them to salvage a decent breakfast. He turned to his family and said,

“Hoooookay. Well. Who’s up for McDonald’s?”


It’s alive!

Like a bad penny that keeps turning up, or a movie monster that simply will not die, this blog rises from the grave (again). I’m not making any promises about new content, but at least I’ve managed to clear a few technical hurdles that prevented it from being online.

What does this mean to you? Not much, other than you should have noticed that (a) it’s online and (b) it’s a lot, lot faster (thanks to pfSense and Varnish).

Horton? Is that you?

My, oh my, where does the time go…?

Some thoughts in no particular order:

  1. It’s been a shade past 4 years since my last update here. Coming up in October is 10 years since I set this blog up.
  2. Yes, I’m still alive. Everyone is well, or at least well-ish. Nothing significant to report here.
  3. My wife is amazing. And beautiful. And amazing.
  4. I used to have a cat. He’s gone. I now have 2 cats. They’re funny. I’ll probably have another cat before long.
  5. There’s probably something wrong with me. I have been enamored by JavaScript. <commence hate mail… now>
  6. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram quite readily by simply using my name. Facebook is a little harder, but I hardly sign on there anyway.
  7. Finding a not-ugly, free WordPress theme is something that required a level of attention that my brain is apparently unable to accommodate. Punt.
  8. Wow, writing more than 140 characters at a time is exhausting.
  9. I wonder if Horton can hear me. I also wonder if anyone is still subscribed to this blog. Heh.

The Baltar Who Stole Christmas

From the Spooky Juxtaposition Department…

In Battlestar Galactica (1978), toward the end of The Living Legend, Part 1, Baltar gloats:

Yes… yes! Think of the impression upon the city of Gomorray when they learn that I, personally, led the final assault on Christmas! I mean, the humans!

Yes, okay, I embellished that a bit (though not much). Seriously, now; go check this out on Hulu while the episode is still available. The resemblance is uncanny, isn’t it? It’s like John Colicos studied the Grinch. Freaky.

With apologies to Dr. Seuss, without whom the lives of young children everywhere would be much more standard.

It Works for Bikesheds, Too

Normally I avoid “me too” posts. Sometimes, though, the ideas are so important to people and communities that I care about that I can’t let it pass by without mention.

If you know me, you are probably aware that I’ve been involved with relatively large open source development community for more than a decade. Unfortunately I’ve had to limit my more recent involvement for one fundamental reason: with somewhat regular predictability a small and fairly consistent group of people either incites or contributes greatly to a pointless, unproductive discussion. The concept of the bike shed is nothing particularly new; neither are the ways to deal with them, at least in concept. All we need is someone to adapt the general principle to our modern mode of distributed interaction – indeed, someone like Alex Payne:

Set emotion aside, and think how much we could accomplish if we had the humility and grace to learn from our peers.

… and so, without further adieu: Mending the Bitter Absence of Reasoned Technical Discussion

(Thanks to Faried for the link!)

The pre-pre-meeting meeting

I hope this is just my imagination:

We need a pre-pre-meeting to discuss the scope of the discussion around the agenda for the meeting. For example: Will we allow discussion about topics that do not directly related to the discussion of the agenda, on the off chance that someone might have a great idea of what to put on the agenda for the meeting? Should we discuss the tools and processes used to build the agenda, or will it be acceptable to avoid that topic altogether by specifying which COTS tools we will use in conjunction with the corporate Policy on Discussions of Agendas for Directed Discussions? Also, will it be necessary to create a pre-meeting glossary of acronyms to distribute together with the agenda?

Then again, maybe it’s not. sigh