Runcible Blog

Office Rule #36

Office rule #36: Avoid eye contact

I've learned that when someone comes in the office looking for help, it's best not to acknowledge their presence. You see, when someone has computer trouble, they don't care which one of us can help. So, typically, they'll ask the first person that sees them walk through the door.

Most of the time I'm not very helpful because I don't know the answer and end up directing the question to someone else. I'd say the vast majority of people coming through the door aren't looking for me. The questions I can answer are from people who already know to call or email me first.

That explains the rule. I suppose one could apply it more generally -- what better way to keep office relationships professional than by avoiding your coworkers.

I'm learning a lot of rules -- collectively called "The Eagle-Tribune Way" -- that I'll have to share.

disappointing Cafe Azteca

The famous Cafe Azteca in Lawrence leaves much to be desired. The waitress, a former Spanish teacher at Central, didn't quite understand what I ordered.

I wanted a plain black bean burrito and made sure to ask what was inside it. Instead I got a big, honking chicken burrito. I didn't know haba sounds like pollo. So they sent it back for another one. Then, instead of a black bean burrito, I got a refried bean burrito with black beans and rice on the side. Frustrated, I ate the rice and beans, but refried beans are gross. Another, fluent English speaking waiter offered the consolation that their refried beans aren't made with lard. By that time, though, I didn't want to complain and get another one.

Their lousy service is disappointing, but what's more disappointing is that it's hard to get a non-meat burrito around here.

We need something like Burrito Max in Lawrence. Burrito Max vegetarian burritos aren't great, but they're good enough and hearty enough for me.

car crapped out again

On my way to Hunt's earlier, my car konked out again. In fact, I didn't even make it down the street before the engine ran out of steam. After sputtering to a stop, the car wouldn't even turn over.

Steve towed the car back up the street, and Tony poked around under the hood. The guy at Autozone seemed to think that the ignition coil had failed, so I got one of those. It turns out there was oil inside the distributor (no idea how it got there) which could be part of the reason why the sparks stopped flying. Also, the rotor was badly corroded.

To make a long story short, we couldn't remove the ignition coil because the screws are upside-down and stripped. Tomorrow Tony will find out how much it'll cost to fix at a garage down the street. I have a bad feeling about it.

If it costs more than $100, I'm reluctant to pay. The car has 195,000 miles on it; it's on its last legs, I think.

Anyone have a 1990's vintage Honda Civic EX 5 speed for sale?

sweet lord, destroy this awful movie!

I'm watching the most terrible movie I've seen in a while: Code Hunter. Actually, this movie is so special that it has three names -- Code Hunter, Storm Watch, and Virtual Storm. I guess the producers couldn't decide on a name that accurately describes this action-packed piece of garbage.

The premise is that a weather-controlling supercomputer creates a number of hurricanes around the world and attempts to wipe out humanity. Only a virtual-reality computer "hacker" can save the world. I'd rather not go into the details (they boggle the mind with ridiculousness). Suffice it to say, the movie gets progressively worse every minute.

But rather than being completely negative, I have some constructive criticism for the sequel:

  • Mini-disc players aren't computers, yet the hero uses one to break into the supercomputer.
  • In close-up shots of typing, it helps if the actor types one key at a time, unless mashing on the keyboard is a new trick that "hackers" employ.
  • A "hacker" can't control a home gas line, causing the house to explode.
  • Supercomputers don't run on Windows, and they don't blow up when you change the system date!
  • Finally, computer "hackers" don't look like underwear models; they look something like this:
    I'm a computer hacker

You can't say I'm not trying to be helpful with my criticism.

speaking of movies...

I highly recommend Fog of War.

Although it's mostly biographical from Robert McNamara's perspective, it's a fascinating (and I don't use the term lightly) look at the type of people and decisions that lead the country to war. It puts a human face on those decisions and made me realize that as smart as the policy-makers may be, they're still just flawed humans who can make terrible mistakes. McNamara seems not to worry much about making mistakes that lead to thousands of deaths, and he tries to distance himself from some of his decisions. But he does admit, now that he's 85, that he might not have been right about everything.

I don't know much about LBJ, but from the conversations between him and McNamara, I don't have much respect for the man. To think -- America got stuck in Vietnam because LBJ and others wanted to "kick some ass" and send a message to the Ruskies? Hmm...

There are obvious parallels to the current administration that are reason enough to check out the movie. If you get anything from the film, it should be a healthy dose of skepticism. Too often we're asked to take for granted that our president, the secretary of defense, and other policy wonks actually know what they're talking about and are making good decisions.

Fog of War shows how even a very bright man can influence history and cause catastrophic consequences. He says himself that we came "this close" to total nuclear war. Only luck saved the world.

That doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

As a side note, Philip Glass's score is not bad (though typically formulaic). There's something about his music that makes a 2 hour film feel like 10 hours. And that's coming from someone who likes his stuff.