I went to the local gift shop at lunch today to buy bus tickets. I used my last one this morning and like the ~10% discount I have over paying cash for my fare. That, and the fares are such that I rarely have exact change so I round up and end up paying a 10% premium on my fare.

So I went to the shop. They were out. Maybe tomorrow. Okay, worst case, I can break the twenty so that my $4.50 fare doesn't cost me $20.

Nope. Won't open the till without a sale.

I left.

After work, I walked to a bigger pharmacy / quick mart for bus tickets. Everyone told me the store carried them. Great! They are four blocks out of my way, no big deal, and I need the steps.

Except it is pouring rain. And I didn't bring a jacket. Fine. Worth getting wet to save $15. I tromp off and am duly soaked.

This morning's practice frustrations


I went to the Cows practice today. I felt a little bad about leaving Kris and his parents for three hours on a Sunday morning, when they were going to be here only a few days. Soon into the morning, however, when I realized that Kris and his parents were going to watch the Pittsburgh football game on television, I decided that being outside and moving around would squash any feelings of guilt, and left.

Unlinke most weeks, we actually warmed up as a team, instead of having individuals dribble in, hang out, socialize, maybe throw a little bit, jog a few steps, then jump into whatever game was happening. I feel warming up as a team is important, so I was happy we did.

After playing a game to three, Adrian suggested we run a couple drills. The first one was a timing drill, where a cutter runs out about 15 yards, turns and cuts back for the disc. At the same moment the cutter begins his cut, a second cutter runs deep. The first cutter catches the disc, turns and fires the disc out to the second cutter running deep. We were practicing sharp cuts in, cutting out and back across the field preventing same-lane hucks (though Adrian didn't make that statement as succinctly as Kris does), and the timing of both.

There were details that we needed to work out in this drill: was the first cut out and straight back along the path, or flared out to the side? The answer was the former, but even when I cut that way, the thrower who initiated the drill threw far outside me and I missed my catch. Eh, it happens, I picked up the disc, threw a good huck, and without checking if it was caught, ran to the second line.

On my second cut, my insides disagreed with everything I was doing, and I cramped spectacularly badly. Walking off the field was an effort of heroic proportions, and figuring out what to do more than that was impossible. Eventually, the pain subsided and I was able to make it to the restroom and, eventually, back to the field as the second drill started.

The second drill was a defensive drill of sorts, run in a line. The thrower stood in one spot, the receiver started in front of the receiver facing her, the defense stood 8 yards or so back, facing the thrower also. The drill was for the receiver to run backwards, facing the thrower the whole time, and catch the disc. The thrower couldn't throw the disc until the receiver had passed the mid-point between the thrower and where the defense started. The defense ran forward to block the disc.

When I arrived, the two groups had just split into boys and girls, I assumed because the girls were worried about being clobbered by the boys. I was an itty bitty small bit annoyed at the separation, because, well, we play a mixed game, boys are part of that game, and in game situations, boys are going to poach off onto the girls. Separating the two in practice creates an artificial situation that doesn't accurately reflect real games.

Okay, fine. Whatever. I went to play with the girls.


After half-heartedly running the drill two times, while the boys were kicking ass, laying out to get that defensive block, aggressively reaching around to deflect the disc before the receiver catches it, the girls degenerated into a talk / complain fest on how stupid the drill was, and how did we make this drill meaningful. I don't know what happened at that moment, but, wow, did I immediately switch to coach mode.

Yes, Santa Clara women, I want to thank you once again for teaching me how to take control of a group of unfocussed women and focus them again. I should probably thank Kris, too, for teaching me that every drill is a chance to practice an aspect of the game, but that works only if you know what to apply the drill to.

In my coach mode, I immediately suggested everyone look at this as a zone defense. You have the thrower, you have the receiver, and you're over on the side as wing. You see the thrower looking at the receiver, so you pull away from your area and go hard hard hard to the receiver. You want to see how the thrower is standing, is she going to throw forehand or backhand, which side of the receiver is she going to aim for? As the receiver, you want to be aware of where a defender might be so that you can block her out with your body. As both receiver and defense, you want to be aggressive to the disc. Both of you want want want that disc.

I totally became animated in the way that I do. As Paul calls it, the full body talking. I don't know where that habit came from, but it's there, and that's how I talk when excited, and I look like a dork and I don't care. I really shoudl, however, get a picture of myself doing it.

After my rearrangement of everyone's thinking of the drill and gift of purpose, we ran the drill a few more times, with my standing on the side, giving encouragement and cheers. We went from a gap of maybe four feet between the defense and the receiver when the disc was caught to maybe 2 or 3 inches. I encouraged everyone to be aggressive to the disc, go go go go go! We started getting blocks. And the receivers adjusted so that we had close calls, but good body box outs. It was great to see the adjustment.


As much as it was great to see the adjustment, I was frustrated by everyone's (well, all the women's) lack of ability to see how a drill could be applied to the game. Instead of trying to understand why this drill may be helpful, they just wanted to modify the drill into something known, something comfortable, something where the defense is at a strong disadvantage and there's no motivation to be aggressive on the disc. Turns out, though I was wrong as to when I thought the situation of the drill applied (not zone, but in a poaching defense), I was right in how most of the drill, as well as the aspect of aggressiveness to the disc the drill was trying to improve.

The drill was also supposed to show us how to look past the receiver to the motions of the thrower to help anticipate where the disc would go, in order to improve the defense's line of attack, according to Adrian's after-drill summary, so even I learned something new. Unfortunately, Adrian didn't explain this before the drill, but after, in a Socratic method of learning. I felt I had been the only one to have even TRY to learn the lesson, though.

Mischief has this problem, too, where, instead of respecting the drill and running it, trying to figure out what to get out of it, everyone wants to change the drill or improve it (or maybe "improve" it). While I recognize that some drills are poorly designed and may result in enforcing bad habits, most well-run drills enforce good habits even when they're new to the player. That those players want to alter the drill before trying, before fully committing to running the drill with fire and intensity, frustrates me.

I don't know if the fundamental issue I had was lack of personal responsibility to take the task at hand and find the good in it, or an issue with lack of respect for the person who cares about the team and has has taken the time to set up and explain the drill, or some other issue entirely. I see this is the team I'm on and I want the team to play well. Even if they lose, if they played smart, we can leave the field heads up.

I must be channelling Kris McQueen again.

On a completely separate note, I really wish I had been fearless as a tiny person. Adrian's kids just climb up to high places and climb back down, not seeming to worry about, oh, I don't know, FALLING or such?

Crazy kids. Heck, I wish I were that fearless even now.


It's not people I hate so much...


Kris commented to me once, "You don't like people much." I readily agreed at the time, but I'm not so sure anymore. As near as I can tell, it's not the people I don't like, it's the stupidity, disdain and laziness that people in aggregate show. It's the lack of personal responsibility and the lack of a desire to make things better in most people that I completely and utterly detest so much.

Take today's incident, for example.

I had been dragging my feet for the last few days on running some errands. The errands weren't ones that I could just go on my merry way, interacting with people not at all, avoiding cars and carts alike. No, these were errands that required interacting with people whom I needed to actually do their job, which was to help me resolve a problem. Knowing that I was 99% likely to leave frustrated, I went 100% out of my way to try for a happy solution.

I smiled.

And I went in pretending the person behind the counter was my best friend. Think about it: why wouldn't my best friend try to help me solve my problem? Seriously, she'd bend over backwards and do a front flip to help me, just as I'd do the same for her.

So, into Bank of America I went to deal with some banking issues. For the record, Bank of America sucks ass. They are the worst bank I have ever dealt with, starting back when I was in college and they stole $100 from my account (that $100 being a large sum of money when you make only $2000 a year). When I asked for proof of a withdrawal I didn't make (and couldn't have, as the withdrawal was made local and I was out of town at the time of the withdrawal), they refused to show me the video surveillance of the ATM. They stonewalled me and jerked me around then, knowing that a 20 year old college student couldn't make much noise.

So (yeah, I like that transition word), I went in, and was called over to a woman behind a desk. I explained that I tried to make a wire transfer to an international account. Bank of America refuses to allow you to make wire transfers in person, you have to make the transfer online. Except that the wire transfer part of their site is convoluted: you have to ADD the foreign account as an external account in your online account, permanently storing that account as part of your account, even for a one time transfer. Worse, the final destination account I wanted the money to go to was declared "invalid" each time I tried to enter it. The new online form doesn't correspond to the old paper STANDARDIZED ACROSS ALL BANKS form, not even with helpful hints like 'This is the same as field 70 "Details of payment".' No, THAT would have been too helpful.

My funds ended up going into the superaccount above the final destination account. It's somewhere at my vendor's bank, they just haven't received it yet. I've spent the money, it's out of my account. They haven't been paid, though.

The woman behind the desk listened to me, took my documentation, came back a few minutes later and said, "You transferred the money to the wrong account. There's nothing I can do."

Well, no shit, it's in the wrong account, lady, I JUST TOLD YOU THAT. I explained to her, AGAIN, that I knew it was in the wrong account, the Bank of America website wouldn't let me send the funds to the CORRECT account (all of this with a smile on my face), that I sent it to the closest I could send it. How could she help me fix this problem?

Once again, she basically said, "Not my problem. There's nothing I can do."

Not, "I'm unable to help you at this moment. I can leave a message with the department that can, and on Monday they'll call you to help you out."

Not, "I'm unable to help you at this moment. Here's the number you'll need to call on Monday when someone else is able to help you."

Not, "I'm unable to help you at this moment because this isn't my area of authority. I can have my manager call you on Monday when he's back in the bank."

Not, "I'm unable to help you at this moment. Here's how to cancel the transfer, and here's a number to call for a refund on the transfer, and another number to call so that a new transfer will get to the correct account."

No, she fucking said, "You transferred the money to the wrong account. I can't help you."

Yeah, I was trying not to curse there.

And Kris wonders why I hate people. I like my friends. I'd go to the end of the world and back to help my friends. This bitch, however, can go suck the wrong end of a running tailpipe and make the world a better place.

Worse, she probably gets raises for helping the most number of customers in an hour by abdicating any kind of professional ownership of her job. Here's the part that totally and completely frustrates me: there's nothing I can do about it. Talk about something that will send someone into either a furious rage or a deep depression: there's nothing I can do about the complete lack of helpfulness from the person who is BEING PAID TO HELP ME. The banks fucking screw up, starting with the fuck-up in customer service.

And that was just the first errand of the day.

It didn't get any better.

Blank media


How is it that I have no luck burning CDs from a computer? I swear, I've burned maybe two CDs my entire life, and one of those was by accident.

And it's not for lack of trying.

When CD burners first came out for consumer use, I bought one. All of the instructions were written in broken English, but sufficient for me to try my hand at installing the hardware, then trying to get the software to work. This was back when I was actually still using the Windows platform, programming map editors as my first big project, so you can see just how far back this desire to burn CDs goes.

On that map editing project, we had a CD burner at work that I used to burn navigation CDs. Back then, I knew the difference among the red book, orange book and green book formats. I knew which one you wanted to use your music CD player as a data retrieval device, and could actually create multiple CDs that worked for music or data. Of course, that was with a stand alone CD burner that was the size of most stereo equipment, and was $2500 to purchase. Given the cost to burn one CD was $950 at the time, $2500 was a complete bargin.

So, my first attempt at CD burning: complete and utter failure, as well as a waste of $400 plus time.


Years later, I tried again with some other CD burners installed on my various desktop systems. I tried with Windows (shudder) boxes, and with Linux boxes. Eventually, upon my conversion to the Holy Church of Mac, I tried on my OSX box.

And then I managed to burn my first music CD.

That was 4 years ago.

Four. Years. Ago.

That was after I messed up I don't know how many blank CDs to get there.

Now, all I want to do is backup my iTunes library to something other than the three external harddrives I have. Is that really so difficult to do? I mean, hello, I've seen Mike use these DVD-R blank media disks in his computer, which is really close to the same as mine. I tried inserting it colored side up, colored side down, blank CDs, blank DVD-R media, all of which my computer not only can write to (according to the system profiler), but is what the computer is requesting. I've bought (and tried the expensive media, and the cheap stuff).


All of it fails. All of it.

What the heck is it with me and burning disks? I swear I have a radiation field around me that ruins all blank media.

I just wish that weren't my super power.

Not supposed to leave


Clearly, I'm not supposed to travel out of the country.

In a Truman Show-esque catastrophe, everything seems to go wrong when I do, or at least attempt to, travel out of the country. Take Italy with Mom and BJ: My luggage was lost, then delayed by a strike in France that affected only my luggage, and not my mother's or my brother's. My mother wondered who replaced her daughter with a changeling, when I didn't scream and have a fit, but accepted the loss calmly.

I ended up wearing my mother's underwear.

Our honeymoon beginning and end were so traumatic that I've been unable to transfer my written journal entries here without singing "My Humps" off-key at the top of my lungs to avoid the memories, which have thus far always caused convulsions and uncontrollable drooling. Even the travel agent commented that trip seemed cursed after I told her about the birds pooping on my head.


So, imagine my uncontrollable frustration this weekend when, after about fifty hours of sorting, clearing, cleaning, arranging, looking and shuffling, I am unable to find my passport.

I had it two weeks ago. I took it to Vegas Baby Vegas with me, because I hate using my driver's license for travelling. I see no reason why I should show a complete stranger my name and address and, hey, look, I'm heading out of town! See here? Here's my flight information! Call your buddies, rob my house!

A passport doesn't have an address on it, so, even though you know I'm going out of town, you don't immediately know where I live. Not that figuring out where I live is that difficult. I just like to make it harder than looking at a card that I handed you with detailed directions on how to get there.

I don't recall having my passport when I went to Florida.

I did have it on the one day between Vegas Baby Vegas and Florida. I remember dumping all of my bag contents on the floor and having it spill out on the floor. I even remember thinking, "Huh, that's not in the approved location."

I haven't seen it since.

I have an appointment with the Passport Agency on Tuesday morning. I've heard it takes two days to get a new passport, so I'm going to head up tomorrow morning to see if I can get in today, to receive the passport today or tomorrow at the latest.

I keep thinking, oh, it'll show up, just one more box to go through and I'll find it. At some point, I'll have to give up and accept it's gone.

Writing about leaving town is always an internal struggle. On one hand, I'm heading out of town, it's what's happening to me at the moment, I want to talk about it. On the other hand, it's an announcement, "Hey, look everyone, my house is going to be empty for a few days!" I hate that. This time, however, we have house guests staying at the house, feeding the doggies, maybe even petting them if Bella decides to STFU already (though, I'd be surprised at that).

Vicious cycle, this


Back when I worked at PDI, my group was in constant battle with the production engineering team. There were never more than four of us in the lighting TD group, and at least five in the PE group. It seemed we were always butting heads with half the group.

The fundamental difference between the two groups was that my group was trying to get work done, while the PE group was trying to build an infrastructure "the right way." The Right Way™ often meant "don't do anything until we build it and say it's okay to use," which inevitably took two weeks longer than my group had time. We were in production and production had schedules and we didn't have time to wait. If the tools weren't coming, we built the tools. If the problems weren't being solved, we solved them. Seems simple on paper.

Despite the near constant head-butting, I, thankfully, became good friends with Kevin Cureton who worked in that group. I miss Kevin a lot. I miss talking to him. I miss solving problems with him. I miss his stories and adventures and expertise and laughter. He has moved on from PDI to EA and I think from there, too. I don't know exactly where, as I've lost touch with him. I'm deeply saddened by this fact.

Kevin often went to bat for me when there was some conflict, and defending me when I was doing something totally bizarre but effective.

Thinking of the group, of the five people in it who I recall, I butted heads with 3 of them. One was a dick, one was an idiot and one was just clueless. Of the other two, one was Kevin, and therefore awesome, the other was Mitch Amino, who I liked very much, even though he was quiet and I think sometimes thought of me as near insane.

During one particular incident, I had wandered up to the PE group's area and told them I had implemented some feature that I no longer recall what it was. One of the PE group's people whose name I don't recall, waited until I left, then exploded about how dare I do this or that or something, that I didn't know what I was doing, what the frack did I think I would accomplish?

Kevin listened to his coworker rant. After he had calmed down, Kevin politely pointed out that I and my group keep about forty lighters from asking the five of them question after question after inane and clueless question. If the four of us weren't there, the five of them would have to provide support for the forty lighters that sat downstairs and have considerably less knowledge than I or my group did. Kevin then asked, did his coworker want to support forty lighters, because he sure as heck didn't want to.

The ranting coworker shut up.

And was pleasant to me after that.

I noticed the change and asked Kevin about it. He told me what happened, and I was grateful that I went from head-butting 60% of the group to head-butting 40% of the group. Very grateful. As grateful as Kevin's coworker was, because I was saving this guy many, many hours of work.

I think of this story as I sit on the other side. I know I should be grateful when I look at the modules being written in Drupal and see the modules that I have on my to-do list already written, just there for me to download. The modules that have been on my to-do list for over a year, sometimes more. I should be glad that someone else has put forth the effort so that I no longer have to.

And eventually I'm sure I will be happy and grateful for the modules and the completed work. But right now, I'm a little bitter that I wasn't able to actually write them. That my to-do list is a mile long and never seems to get shorter. And when I realize I finally have the time to these projects, I don't have the motivation.

Vicious cycle, this.

Without a billion problems


Just once, I'd like to have a project that's not full of a billion problems. A project that starts and ends on time. A project where the client and the developer are happy. Where I don't have to wrestle with arcane IE CSS rendering bugs. Where I don't have to beat down MySQL databases or Apache aliases or PHP casting bugs. Where I don't spend more of my time fixing problems, but rather I spend it creating things.

A project where I'm not up until 2:00 am two nights in a row because I'm trying to solve the problem before everyone gets into the office in the morning.

Just once. Is that really too much to ask for?

Might be.

It might be the world's most boring project.