Friday, October 20, 2006

surly & unmotivated

I realize I promised to make the next post (i.e. this post) weighty and serious, with no photos. I think we're going to manage the lack-of-photos part just fine, the rest I'm not so sure about. As the title indicates, I've been in a surly, unmotivated funk of late, and I think I'll just sit here and complain for a while, if you don't mind.

As a geek, I tend to think in terms of bullet-point lists, as readers of this blog or its geeky sibling have probably noticed by now. So here are a few things that I'd like to register a complaint about.

Outsourcing overseas

This isn't an abstract rant against the basic idea of outsourcing tech jobs to low-wage countries. In RL it looks like my employer's going to contract with some company in India to build a small-ish software component for us. And it's going to be my job to interface with these guys. So far it's been several rounds back and forth, trying to explain that, no, we don't need a whole new network architecture for our product line, and no, we never said anything about wanting a mobile phone-based administration package. What part of "no thank you" don't you understand? Sheesh. Oh, and stop babbling about JNI. JNI is an abomination. A useful abomination, sometimes, but an abomination nonetheless.

I guess I can't fault these guys for being hungry, nor can I fault them as engineers for generally wanting to build stuff. But c'mon, already. How about you guys go read our requirements doc a couple more times, compare that with your proposal, and then get back to me?

Blogging malaise

I think I've fallen into a rut here. I don't feel like I've produced anything terribly useful on this blog for a while now. Well, there've been a few interesting photos lately, but as I mentioned before, posting too many of those is unkind to my vast legion of faithful Gentle Reader(s) with dialup connections. Yes, it wasn't very nice to either of you guys, and I humbly apologize. The streetcar stop down at South Waterfront opens tomorrow, so I'll probably get a post out of that, but that's not exactly uncharted territory for this blog.

I also feel guilty because I still have a sort of sense that this ought to be a political blog, but usually it isn't. I have a sense that this thing would be more "worthwhile" somehow if I talked about the great issues of the day a bit more. Hey, I got a few posts out of the Foley thing, but I'm still not convinced that counts.

The tyranny of usefulness

I've been spending more and more time lately posting over at SNR rather than here, since (understandably, I guess) a lot more people are interested in the SCO saga than in play "follow the bouncing Markov chain" with me. (Which is a fancy way of saying this blog is full of mostly unrelated crap, and I bounce from one thing to the next with very little rhyme or reason. If I hadn't eternally perma-banned the phrase "random musings" from this blog, that would be the phrase I'd use.)

So anyway, right now I'm getting more positive reinforcement posting there than I do here, even though SNR is much more narrowly focused and really not as rewarding to work on. People actually thank me for writing the other blog, and I don't get much of that here. I mean, not that I'm feeling needy or insecure or anything, I'm just saying that providing a "valuable public service" can be kind of addictive, even when it isn't all that much fun. It's a problem.

Govt. aggravations

So yesterday I got a grand jury summons from Washington County. Luckily for me, I haven't lived in Washington County for about a year now. Actually I guess I shouldn't say "luckily"; I've never had jury duty, and I've always said it's an important civic responsibility that people shouldn't try to weasel out of, plus it even might be an interesting experience. Everyone should do it at least once, and my number hasn't come up yet. I mailed back the flimsy little postcard where one checks the "not a resident" box and gives one's new address, and I have to say it looked like exactly the sort of thing that gets lost in the mail without a trace. Well, if it does, and they send a nice man with a badge around to look for me, he'll be knocking on the wrong door, and the new residents are in for a bit of excitement, I suppose.

Meanwhile, I've also got to renew my vehicle registration again. I could swear it seems like this happens every 6 months or so, even though the calendar says 2 years. And I realize it isn't reasonable to complain about something everyone with a car has to do, but I feel I have certain extenuating circumstances. For starters, my car is nearly 30 years old, and is extremely small. There was a time when under state law, cars over 20 years old were excused from having to pass a DEQ emissions test, but they changed the law back in the early 90's and now the cutoff is fixed at 1974, supposedly forever. The DEQ inspection stations measure emissions in one of several ways, based on the age of the car. Mine, I think, has to go on the dynamometer stand, so that they're measuring the exhaust created when the car is in gear and rolling. The latest generation of equipment simply clips into a connector under the dash and reads an engine code or two. I haven't seen any concrete numbers on this, but I strongly suspect that there are so few cars from the 70's on the road anymore that it's hardly worth it to maintain the testing equipment, and their impact on overall pollution rates is virtually nil. So really, I don't think I should have to take the thing through emissions testing. Since moving downtown, I barely even drive the thing: Maybe once or twice a month, tops.

But as usual, the state isn't listening to reason, and so I have to find a nearby garage that works on MG's. I used to take the car to a place out in North Plains, and I was quite happy with them, but since I've moved that location's become very, very impractical. I think I've found a place to try, assuming they do DEQ work. We'll see.

Ted Kulongoski

I finally got a Kulongoski flyer in the mail today. I was surprised, since his campaign's been remarkably invisible so far. The guy's the incumbent governor, with money in the bank, and he's not getting his message out. I called the guy a hopeless bozo and voted against him in the primary, but I was prepared to admit he was a pretty good campaigner, if a complete washout for the next 4 years afterwards. I'm starting to think he's a hopeless campaigner, now, too. I don't actually want him to lose to Ron Saxton, despite all the Ted-bashing I've engaged in, but I'm starting to worry that he might. Now, in a year that's supposed to be a disaster for Republicans (although I'm taking a wait-n-see attitude on that point), Teddy's on the verge of losing to one. Most newspapers around the state seem to be endorsing Saxton, and they aren't doing so because of the guy's positive traits, but because of their disappointment with ol' T.K.

It woudn't be reasonable to blame Ted personally for the fact that the flyer was st00pid. It, and the strategy behind it, are no doubt the product of some clueless, faceless political consultant. It seems that Ted's people have decided immigration is a big issue in the election. I really don't think it is; at least it isn't a huge hot-button issue for me. The fun bit is that Ted's handlers are trying to steer him to the right of Saxton on immigration; he's for rounding 'em up and shipping 'em out, basically, although he hasn't actually been doing that the last 4 years. Saxton himself made some unconvincing anti-immigrant remarks in primary season to keep the Republican primary wingnuts, er, voters, happy, and that was the last we heard from him about immigration. And Saxton's also perceived as vulnerable on the issue since he had a farm for a while and may have employed illegal immigrants. So I think the plan is to play the populist, protectionist card, and paint Saxton as one of those nasty business Republicans who value cheap labor above all else. Hmm. Maybe that'll work, and maybe it won't, but it has the strong smell of a clueless campaign grasping at straws.

Now, Saxton isn't a wingnut himself, or if he is, he hides it quite well, so a Governor Saxton would probably not be the end of the world. I tend to look for more in a governor than not being the end of the world, so I'm not going to vote for the guy myself, but I'm not so sure I'm going to vote for Ted, either. I'm still mulling this one over.

Congressional Democrats

Why, you might be wondering, would I complain about Democrats in Congress right now, right when they're maybe on the verge of taking over. Aren't they on a roll?

Well, for starters I'm still not convinced they're about to take control of either house. There's still plenty of time before the election, and George and Karl still have plenty of dirty tricks up their sleeves, and that's if the D's don't manage to shoot themselves in the foot unassisted first. It's a do or Diebold election for the R's, and I can't even begin to imagine what they might try to pull if their backs are up against the wall.

And if they do win, I'm really starting to worry that they'll blow the opportunity and alienate the public through gridlock and sheer pettiness. As much as the R's deserve it, and as much as I'd personally enjoy watching it, the theme for the next Congress should not be "Payback Time". That means doing genuine oversight and holding Bush's drones accountable, but not fast-tracking the impeachment thing, at least not from day 1. And it's probably not wise to retaliate against R's in Congress who were so mean and unfair in the years after 1994, as much as they have it coming. Or at least, wait a while after the session starts up before really putting the boot in. If the public decides the D's are about nothing but revenge, 2008 isn't going to be a fun election.

None of this has happened yet, obviously, but I have a persistent bad feeling about it, and complaining makes me feel better (temporarily).

Ok, well, that's what I've got at the moment. Actually I've got several more things I would happily go off on a tangent and complain about, but I've reached the limit of what I feel like doing right now. Did I mention I've been feeling unmotivated lately?

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