Friday, June 30, 2006

We Must Be Veeeeeewy Qwiet!

Wew're hunting empwoyment! Fortunately it's from the cozy position of still being employed. I've just decided I don't like where I am, and I'm not seeing any signs that the powers that be are going to help me get where I'd like to be. Yes, the company is going through changes, but they can't offer me any guarantees that there will be better opportunities along the way. Maybe there will be, but I don't intend to hang around to find out.

That said, I hate job hunting. There are lots of promising jobs around (okay, four that I'm qualified for in the last month), and I'm applying for them, but then comes the whole agonizing wait afterward. Did that little typo in my cover letter turn them off? Are there twenty other overqualified candidates willing to work for half my salary? Did I not emphasize the right experiences? The second-guessing can be killer. So can the getting up of the hopes.

I know there is a better way, but I lack the time to engage in it. That's the downside of job hunting while employed. There's not much time for networking. Oh well. My problems are rather small.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Whew! I've Got Faith!

According to Barak Obama, if you ain't got rhythm, you ain't got faith.

Of course, as usual, this will be overblown, and hence obscure the importance of what he was really trying to say: Democrats should stop discounting people of religion. Good for him.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"Heat-Seeking Sheep"

A company in Scotland can use roads and driveways as solar collectors.

With this and other advancements lately, I wonder if I should be looking into taking my house techno. We certainly do not lack for sunlight at present. It would be nice if at least some of that heat could be used to generate the electricity needed to remove it from our house.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The name's Al...Al Kaida.

Did anyone else catch the little detail in the story about the terrorist group in Chicago that got arrested recently? The news story I read said that they tried to make contact with Al Qaeda, but instead made contact with a unspecified "agent of a friendly foreign nation," who basically strung them along until we had enough evidence to hang 'em.

Now granted, there are probably agents in Britain, Germany, Mexico or Israel that could pass themselves off as muslims or maybe even agents for those countries who are muslims. But maybe, just maybe, we have a friend in the middle east who is helping us.

I don't know about you, but I'm sure hoping for the latter. That would be just too cool.

At any rate, the right message is being sent from this: you can't be totally sure your Al Qaeda contact is really Al Qaeda. You could be getting set up. (If you ask me, fake or real, you're being set up either way--they'll have you do the messy martyrdom thing while they reap the rewards. If a quick trip to paradise and seventy virgins is such a wonderful, guaranteed thing, why isn't Bin Ladin first in line?)

Anyway, kudos to someone out there! We thank you for your service!

Friday, June 23, 2006

When You're Finished, Trim the Hedges!

The other night I trimmed the bushes outside our front door, turning our unruly masses of leaves into tidy, rounded topiary delights. My father-in-law, a hydraulics scientist, helped me. I'm glad I didn't have to pay our combined wages to get the job done. I'm also glad I don't pay else to do it. It was actually rather fun.

If nothing else, there is something satisfying about hacking away with the clippers, watching the spray of green as the leaves go flying. I can see why people start sculpting their bushes into various shapes. Such brute artistry is addictive. It's probably the same impulse that drives people to make all those chainsaw sculptures.

Pruning the gnarled evergreen bush wasn't quite as fun, but it sure looks better now. I'm tempted to get rid of it, but the wife like the juxtaposition of the wild, unruly evergreen amid the trim, orderly bushes. And so it stays, for now.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I just came back from vacation. My in-laws wanted to meet some friends in Salt Lake City, and we decided that sending them there on the bus was too expensive. Instead I took some time off work and we all headed down there for four days. We booked a two-bedroom suite we thought was near Temple Square. The suite was a life saver. The distance--well, wasn't so close when pushing three kids in a stroller.

It was a good trip, even if it was hot most of the time. It must be more humid there, as it really felt oppressive.

The highlight for me was Sunday morning when we attended the Mormon Tabernacle Choir "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcast. As a practicing (meaning I've yet to get it right) "Mormon" I'm familiar with both the choir and the Conference Center they broadcast from while the Tabernacle is under renovation.

We arrived at the Conference Center a little before 9:00 am. As we headed in through the lobby I could hear a recording of the choir playing over the sound system inside the hall itself. When we entered the hall I realized I was mistaken. The choir and the orchestra were rehearsing--it was live.

I had a By-Golly-It's-Real moment right there in the entryway. Everyone else was focused on finding a seat, while I wandered about, trying to shove tears back in and feeling foolish. Of course I knew there was a Conference Center and a Mo-Tab Choir. But something about standing in the very place, listening to the very choir was overwhelming. That was the place where a prophet and apostles have given counsel and commentary that have been very dear and personal to me. That was the choir who even over the aural limitations of my television have been able to create music to bring me to tears.

I consider myself a man who lives by faith. I found my reaction to it all just a little distressing. I mean, the choir and building they sing in should not require much faith to believe in. If my faith is so weak that seeing a physical confirmation of such obvious and evident things surprised me, then my faith must be especially weak about the important matters of religion, the stuff that really matters.

But after further contemplation I decided there was nothing wrong with me. My reaction was not one of surprise, but of joy. I don't get misty-eyed over everything, after all. I didn't break into tears at being on the Las Vegas Strip the first time. I didn't get choked up when I first set foot in Finland. And while I did get emotional at times in Washington D.C., it was not over confirmation of its mere existence, but what it stood for.

What I was experiencing was the rewards of faith, the joy that comes from the confirmation of something meaningful, the sensation of cascading reinforcement of an elaborate and powerful system of beliefs--of hundreds of if-this-then-thats clicking into place.

I will be a little more sympathetic toward scriptural accounts of people being overwhelmed by spiritual experiences to the point of collapse from now on.

The broadcast was fascinating. The former stage manager in me marveled at all the individual pieces that went together to create a half-hour broadcast of a fairly static event. From the stagehands moving microphones between a narrow window of camera shots to the conductor moving off to rest just a few moments on a stool before returning to the podium just in time for the next piece, it was almost dizzying to comprehend.

But the tears were not all done. Their final number was "Thou Lovely Source of True Delight," a Mack Wilberg resetting of a hymn by Anne Steel. Few things get to me like a Mack Wilberg arrangement. A live performance of a Mack Wilberg arrangement with full choir and orchestra is an invitation for a face-washing. I'm grateful I had the foresight to put a few tissues in my pocket before leaving the hotel.

The trip really raised my appreciation of my children. We dragged those poor kids all over downtown Salt Lake in stifling heat, and they handled it pretty well. We spent over thirteen hours in the van just driving there and back, and they were amazingly good.

They were three little kids on an adult vacation, so I'm surprised they didn't whine more than they did--which wasn't much. Walter would have been happy to sit and watch the trams come and go. Emma could have spent all day exploring the fountains. Richard...well, he never would have left the hotel.

We were all grateful to see home, though. We packed quite a lot into four days, and we all slept like rocks last night. There's no place like home.

And now home has DSL! When we got home I had a package from Qwest waiting for me on the front doorstep. Once we got the kids to bed I settled in to spend a night of installing and configuring. Fortunately it required far less time than that. In fact, it may have been the easiest hardware installation to date.

The modem we were sent is capable of being used for a wireless network. My wife and I both have laptops now, and both have wireless cards, so it's tempting. However, if we use it in wireless mode our main computer won't be able to connect to the internet. Decisions, decisions...

Friday, June 16, 2006


My in-laws brought me a coffee table book about their home town. Reading through it I found myself longing to go there again. Perhaps it's just the fact that aside from my hometown and my current town, I've spent more time there than anyplace else. Perhaps it's just that our vacations there have been so relaxing. Or perhaps it's from the heightened sense of being that comes from living in a foreign country when you can't understand very much of the language.

Whatever the reason, Tampere has become another home to me, and I miss it. It's a beautiful town, and I do have many fond memories from there. I look forward to going back there again.

Monday, June 12, 2006


My in-laws are flying in this afternoon for a five week stay. This will be the first time they've visited us together. They'll be using our place as a base of operations for a few other trips to visit friends they have over here, and we'll be accompanying them on one of the trips. It should be an interesting month.

Meanwhile, I've decided it's time to start looking for a job elsewhere. I'm not worried about the company's stability or the future job situation here by any means. I just don't like my job. It's a feast-or-famine kind of position, and I use perhaps 20% of the skillset I'm being paid for. I'm little more than a glorified news reporter, really. It's frustrating, un-challenging, and rubbing off on my home life. I've got to get into something different before my self-esteem collapses completely. I don't think things will be changing fast enough where I am to provide any opportunities soon enough to help.

I hated being a contractor, but the work I was doing then was much more satisfying and challenging than what I'm doing now. They say it's easier to find work when you already have a job. I guess it's time to test that theory.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Guardedly Pleased

It looks like we finally got al-Zarqawi. I'm glad. He needed removing. I am not going to view this as vindication of anything, nor a significant step in the war on terror. It just proves that we are making progress. If they get his replacement significantly more quickly, then I'll get excited.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Digital Killed the Celluloid Star

What happens when virtual film making becomes cheaper? Futurismic's latest fiction explores one possibility.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Yeah, I'm Still Alive

I guess it's been awhile since I posted. I'm still here. Work's been very busy. Our company was officially sold just after midnight this morning, and there's been a flurry of last-minute stuff to get ready. Rock. We also convert a major chunk of our employees over to the new HR system in two weeks. Hard Place.


Any questions?

In fact the only reason I have time to blog now is because I'm working late and waiting for someone to read and approve a draft I just sent out. Ooh! Ooh! I just got an email!

Splendid! The word is given, admiral. Now I just need to hand this off to the developers and I'm ghost like Swayze.