Big Fish, Big Story

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Big Fish is a story about stories. In the same vein as Picasso’s El arte es una mentira que nos acerca a la verdad (art is a lie that makes us realize the truth) good storytelling grips you, changes you, and lets you touch a world you would never reach following more conventional paths.

It’s a father and son story, really. The father reaches the end of his road, and having lived a rich life full of strange events, he always told the best tales. His son resented him for it; dismissed it as his father stealing the show with his lame-ass stories time and time again. And his son, realizing that he hardly knows the man he has called dad, sets to find out the truth.

And — I don’t really want to ruin it for you. The movie reminded me that fiction helps us define our world just as much as facts. Without it, we wouldn’t have non-fiction. Where would that leave us?

Sometimes fiction is just more real than what is real.

And There Johnny Was

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Johnny Carson inspired many over his 30 years as host of the Tonight Show. I remember watching him when I was a kid, Ed’s stupid laugh, and above all that crazy fortune teller hat he used to wear.

In a way he’s a hybrid between today’s late night talk show hosts. He had the goofyness of Leno, the wackiness of Letterman, the sarcasm of Stewart and the self-depricating humor of Conan. He was a funny guy.

Not all of his life was laughter, though. He had his shitty times just like the rest of us. It’s probably why he put so much into his show, why he smoked, why he had to laugh. The human condition is enough to break you and lift you up at the same time. He saw it at its worst, and smiled at it. He made us laugh when we didn’t think we could.

Was Johnny great? I wouldn’t say he was a superhero or anything like that. He didn’t have one crowning achievment that sparkled like a firecracker and faded away in a second. He was a man who had a gift, and he used that gift to bring joy to others. I guess what amazes me is that he did it so well for so long.

Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined. – Johnny Carson

Mitchell on the Firefox Release

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Mitchell Baker recently published a great recount of what happened during the Firefox 1.0 launch. It’s a good read if you have the time.

Like I’ve said before, it was a great community effort and it was encouraging to see everyone working together despite the divisiveness of our time. There is a lot of hard work to come, though.

Stop to smell the flowers, but don’t smell them so much that you get high and forget to keep going.

It’s-Over Time

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Overtime is what people do to get the job done when 40 hours a week is not enough. Often times I’m not the first guy to claim overtime unless it occurs in 3-hour blocks or more. I don’t count minutes and think dollar signs. I count goals. Sometimes I have to give up some of my time to meet them. So be it. The money, when I deserve it, is a bonus. It’s a microcosm for darwinism in the economy. Bust your ass, get a little extra.

At least — that’s how it should be. It isn’t always the case. There are many people who don’t qualify for overtime who probably should as it is — and now we’re tightening the ropes? Huh?

The solution to an overloaded work schedule may be to add additional workers, but is it? Is the solution always going to be add another worker and pay them for 40 hours even if they only need to do 10 hours of work, or if they are not qualified for the job? There is a certain point where the overhead required to hire an additional worker, train them, then wait for a return on that investment (which isn’t always going to be realized) is worth the effort. Preventing all overtime should not be one of them.

The only reasoning behind the federal law passed is that in the long run it could force employers to hire more workers which may indirectly boost the economy.

That’s great if everyone has the same skill set, and any job can be accomplished by simply hiring another monkey. Of course, it sure seems like a certain job could be done by any monkey on the street. It requires no thinking, writing of speeches, judicious leadership — oh — and did I mention that you’d never have to claim any overtime?

Bush has some nerve supporting a bill that takes money away from people who work extra hours and are trying to get the job done and do the right thing. Worse yet, the bill doesn’t even really clearly state who it applies to. Human resources departments everywhere are scrambling to get a grasp on which workers this applies to and how to enforce it. Who pays for the confusion? Is HR going to work overtime?

This is one issue in a long line of things that piss me off about this administration. This labor bill is brought to you by the same assholes using the same backdoor methods as with the ironically named Patriot Act. Brought to you by the same people so concerned with their security they stuck the city of Washington DC with a $40 million bill for their inauguration celebration.

Yeah – I know – Clinton’s cost about as much. But he wasn’t at war, ran a good economy, and a certain national disaster hadn’t just happened. WTF?

And I read some bullshit talking about the celebration of democracy. Is this the biggest joke in the history of political government? We re-elect a failed administration because he caters to the ignorant, have an increasing debt, are in a war that was never justified, kill people who are different from us, hold a multi-million dollar party when the money could be spent on helping nations recover from what is one of the worst natural disasters in modern history, and we have a lot to be proud of?

On January 20th, think about what our country has done in the past 4 years to itself and to other nations. If anybody should be working overtime, it’s our leader. Instead, he’ll be on a ridiculous float. What a way to kick things off.

You could multiply my paid overtime on January 20th by infinity and you’d have zero. Regardless, I’ll still be at work after 5pm.

Oracle

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I’ve been drumming on Oracle for a while trying to merge a PHP-MySQL application’s data with data available from an Oracle database server running on VMS.

I’ve learned about views, stored procedures, query efficiency and adodb as a result of my pains. I’ve been trying to use $db->Prepare() to do a query for a set of 351 local IDs as an alternative to using an IN() with 351 IDs as an argument.

So far I haven’t had much luck using Prepare() in a select, but I’ll keep working on it this weekend. Supposedly you should gain 20-40% performance over doing repetative queries because you are saving some overhead.

I had originally assumed that using the IN(), although somewhat costly, would be optimized on the database end and was a healthy alternative to doing 351 queries (because you save the overhead being wasted by doing multiple queries 351 times).

I do know this – that the view, which I don’t have access to, is terribly inefficient – each additional argument adds roughly .5 seconds to the overall query time using the IN() and if I do multiple queries I see a 1-second-per query situation. Seems fishy to me.

In other instances, PHP memory and database server cycles were saved when I used the IN() as an alternative to looping queries – which is something I almost always try to avoid. Both methods are killing my script, though, and the only difference is the view.

So – hopefully when I can get this thing figured out I will have learned a bit more about Prepare() and Oracle query efficiency. It could very well be that looping queries properly would be less of a hit than an IN().

IN() or Prepare()? More to come…

Amputated

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“There was a time I could see. And I have seen. Boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there isn’t nothin’ like the sight of an amputated spirit. There is no prosthetic for that. You think you’re merely sending this splendid foot soldier back home to Oregon with his tail between his legs, but I say you are… executin’ his soul! And why? Because he’s not a Bairdman. Bairdmen. You hurt this boy, you’re gonna be Baird bums, the lot of ya. And Harry, Jimmy, Trent, wherever you are out there, fuck you, too! ” – Lt. Colonel Frank Slade, Scent of a Woman

Some people will try to kill your spirit – but it only lasts forever if you let it.