Yep, That's Me Right There

From a friend on the Book of Faces:

Now, if you will excuse me, I apparently need to go start learning Erlang.

A Pleasing, Wonderful, Agreeable, Very Good Day

Took the day off, slept in... then got dressed up along with Eldest Daughter and headed downtown to see "The Phantom of the Opera".

The play was good - the sets were absolutely amazing (says the geek).  Oh, there were some people singing, too.  They did a pretty good job, I guess.  My main problem was with how they wrapped up the plot at the end. I mean... Raoul?  You go after Christine, who has been taken captive by a murderer whose M.O. is to hang people, and you don't even think to bring a knife?  Dude.  Seriously?

Afterwards, we stopped in for a visit to Eide's Entertainment, where we geeked out over their comic book collection and E. D. picked up a new Star Wars novel.  From there, it was a hop, skip and a jump to the Station Brake Cafe for shrimp scampi and a Bourbon Street filet, then home for an evening playing on the Wii.

All in all, a very wonderful day.

Heck of a Day...

Tuesday morning at oh-dark-thirty, Dad headed to the hospital for an appointment with general anesthetic, a sharp knife, and a very skilled surgeon.  A few hours later, he was in a hospital bed in the neurological ICU with a bandage on his head, a massive headache, and a new lack of Bad Stuff in his brain.  All in all, the operation did not just go as well as we could have hoped - the situation was even better than the surgeons had initially thought.

As a result, this morning... they sent him home.  As Dad commented, "Darn near outpatient brain surgery".


Went from that good news to my annual performance review at work.  Looks like they think that I am worth keeping around [1], which is just fine with me.

Third bit of news: the house construction is proceeding (albeit more slowly than we would really like).  We received official notice from the builder that our anticipated completion date is May 31st, which is wonderful.  I am hoping that we can be moved in by May 30th, which is a date of some significance to myself and the Lovely Mrs. Robb, as it is the day that she officially became the Lovely Mrs. Robb mumble-mumble years ago.  

Oh, and hey - speaking of anniversaries, today the Embedded Theologian is 7 years old.  Yay!  Just in case you needed an excuse to scarf some cake. [2]

[1] Either that, or I am such a pitiful wretch that the thought of firing me is akin to the idea of kicking a sad puppy.  I don't really want to know which one is more likely.  Let me enjoy my illusions.
[2] Other than, "Hey, there's cake!", I mean.  Some of us like to rationalize.

Observation of the Day

As a software developer, there will come a time when you need to execute an external program or programs in order to accomplish a non-trivial task.  Being a good developer, you will run and test your commands separately from your program; and being a lazy programmer (laziness being one of the great virtues of a programmer), you will put these commands in a shell script, so that you can quickly iterate and discover potential issues and problems.

Finally, when you are done, you will - again, being a lazy programmer - think, "Hey, I have a shell script that already does this thing.  I should just have my program execute the shell script!"


Shell scripts are wonderful.

Shell scripts are awesome.

Shell scripts definitely have their place... but shell scripts can also, very quickly and very easily, become unmaintainable nightmares.

A truly lazy developer will recognize this.  Realizing that investing some time now will allow him to be lazy in the future, he will take that shell script and re-write it in something maintainable, like Python.  Or Ruby.  Or... heck, just about anything else.

Just sayin'.

Kicking the Ice Cream Machine

Two posts in January.  That's a new low.

All I can say is that life's been extremely busy - and not just the usual trifecta of work, home, church. 

Building a house is a lot of work.  Not that we are doing the actual building, mind you - but even just keeping up with the folks who are doing the work takes time.  On top of that, there are several construction-related items (driveway, new septic tank, water line trenching, gas line, etc.) that our builder does not take care of past the point of "here's where you run the line into the house", so we have been left to make our own arrangements for that needful work.  Oh, and the lousy weather has meant we have spent at least four mornings out clearing, salting and graveling the construction drive.

Still... it's a handful, but it's a happy handful.

On the unhappy side of things, Dad's been in the hospital for what they call a "neurological episode", and will be going back in a few weeks for a (hopefully) straightforward operation.  Well, as straightforward as brain surgery can be.  Turns out he has a mass there that needs to be removed. There's a strong possibility that he'll be talking to an oncologist in the near future, which definitely not something that anyone would relish.

At this point, it looks like things on multiple fronts will go from the frenetic stage and settle down into a more leisurely pace soon.  Which is good, because frankly, I like serving up the ice cream.

Eldest Daughter Approved

The Stubby Thumb builds a TARDIS Murphy bed.

The finished product:

And yes, it is bigger on the inside!

Definitely a project to keep in mind for the new house.  Eldest Daughter would approve.

"Now witness the firepower..."

...  of this fully armed and operational battlemage! [1]

Yeah, I am a grown man - married, with children, as the saying goes - and I spent this morning playing dress-up with my imaginary friends.

Meet Aetherna, my main character in WoW.  She's an arcane mage.  Has been since the very beginning mumble years ago, and aside from a (very brief) switch to fire once for a particularly nasty boss, arcane she's stayed.

Now, normally in WoW, mages are limited to cloth armor.  However... with the latest Warlords of Draenor expansion came the ability to buy cosmetic armor sets using captured Iron Horde scrap. These are armor pieces that you can use to make whatever you are currently wearing look like something else entirely.  As it turns out, one of those sets is a replica of the armor worn by guards in Stormwind, the human city in WoW.

So a few weeks worth of collecting various pieces of scrap, and now Aeth can finally look less like a soft, squishy Orcish chew toy and more like someone ready to wade into the middle of a fight!

I mean, she always did that anyways... but now she at least looks the part.

[1] Though, as Richard pointed out, "Battlemage?  That's not a profession.  It barely qualifies as a hobby."  So, yeah, ok.  Her hobby is battlemage.  Her profession is using arcane power ripped from the twisting nether to make people's heads explode, usually in return for inadequate footwear.

The Battle of Five Armies

Just returned from taking da goils to see the third installment of the extended film that that the lovely Mrs. Robb refers to as "That Middle-Earth Movie".

Overall, I thought it was the second best in the series - not nearly as good as the first installment, but much better than the second.  I have a new love for Dain of the Iron Hills, and a newfound respect for Galadriel, who shows that she can indeed be as "beautiful and terrible as the Morn!".  The scenes of the dwarven infantry also warmed my heart.  Dwarven shield walls?  Yes, please!

I will also admit to blubbering like a kid when Thorin died. [1] 

What can I say?  I love me some dwarves.

There were a number of ways that the movie could have been improved.  Cutting out the extended "amazing action" sequences, for example.  A couple of quick scenes of awesomeness would have worked much better, IMHO.  John C. Wright will be happy to know that there was at least one point where I was thinking "SHOOT HIM WITH AN ELF ARROW!" - and, wouldn't you know it, he did.  Ah, some common sense at last!

More exposition about how Beorn and the Eagles show up to save the day would have been nice as well.  As, maybe, a mention of why it was the "battle of five armies"?  Just sayin'.  I am eagerly anticipating the director's cut (or, more likely, the fan cut) that turns this movie trilogy into the the two movies that it should have been from the beginning.

Finally, I was surprised to find myself thinking that the love interest between Kili and Tauriel actually worked fairly well, in the context of the movie.  No, it's not canonical... but it was a side plot, not a major part of the film; and it provided some context for character development that was otherwise quite logically lacking in a movie about Guys Hitting Other Guys With Pointy Bits of Metal.

If you've seen the first two, you will definitely want to see the third, if just to come to a sense of closure.  If you're like the lovely Mrs. Robb, though, and think that Elves showing up at Helm's Deep was a grave error, then you'll probably be happiest either catching it as a matinee showing, or waiting to see it on DVD.

[1] Spoilers?  For one of the modern classics of Western literature?  Are you serious?


What follows is an account from a French ISAF soldier that was stationed with American Warfighters in Afghanistan sometime in the past 4 years.  This was copied and translated from an editorial French newspaper.
We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing "ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events"...
On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump. Here we discover America as it is often depicted: their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley.
To get the full impact, you will definitely need to RTWT.

Feeling exceptionally proud of our men & women in uniform right about now.

And Now I Feel Old

When did J-Pop and Metal get hitched?  And why wasn't I invited to the wedding?

Hold on.  I have some kids on my lawn that I need to go yell at now.