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Eternal Novice
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Ashton
One of the best bits of sarcastic comedy I've ever read can be found at http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~susan/475/unmain.html, except you pretty much need to be a computer programmer to get it.

Its suggestion #1 for unmaintainable code is "lie in the comments". Where I work we have a subtle twist on that called "lie with your method/function names". One of today's joys was the discovery of the true nature of a method called "layoutButtons". This name has user interface implications which, on iOS, made the fact that it was running on the main thread seem quite reasonable. Sometimes, though, the main thread would hang -- a very bad thing -- because sometimes (if a cache was invalid) "layoutButtons" called twelve layers deep into code that made *network requests*. One just does not expect graphics updates to run at the speed of socket timeouts.
7th-Jan-2014 08:08 pm - Gearing Up For FAWM #2
Ashton
Sometimes I write a parody for mental exercise and sometimes the word "exorcise" has an important part in it too.

It's a drink; it's a way of lifeCollapse )
6th-Jan-2014 06:27 pm - Gearing Up For FAWM #1
Ashton
Sometimes I get a parody idea and think, "This is too obvious; someone must have already done it". But since I don't know of a parody registry, I also don't know how to check and be sure. Anyway...turning Beatles songs into LotR material seems wrong in all the right ways.

More and more MordorCollapse )
28th-Dec-2013 03:40 pm - It Followed Me Home
Ashton

Suhr-1
Originally uploaded by phillip2637.
This, of course, is the time of sales at music stores. In spite of the probability of crowds, I decided I'd go out and look at electric guitars. I've been talking about getting a real electric for a couple of years on and off but never did anything about it because I couldn't decide on a feature set and price range that I wanted to get serious about.

When the salesman asked if he could help, I gave him a list of preferences that included: a lot of tonal variety, light weight, and a neck that didn't have so much lacquer that my hand stuck to it whenever I changed position.

This is a brand (Suhr) that I knew nothing about going in but it met all my conditions, sounded good, and won A/B tests against some guitars I'd previously considered.
24th-Dec-2013 12:57 pm - Light, Tunnel, Etc.
Ashton
At about 7:30 this morning there were assorted beeps and a few lights to signal electrical power returning to our house. The ice storm on Saturday night had taken us out for approximately 53 hours. It's possible that there will be (or have been -- I'm at work) fluctuations in service but it looked like a good sign. It was very welcome as the in-house temperature had dropped to 9C (aka 49F) and today's outdoor high is predicted to be -10C.

Our cats feel that this whole experience was a practical joke in very poor taste. Willow in particular puts the 'domestic' in domestic shorthair. Her favorite pastimes are eating, sitting on laps, being petted, and STAYING WARM. For example, on going to bed last night, I had a chilled cat climb under the many covers with me, push against my chest, and complain until I'd transferred enough body heat for her to be comfortable.

With any luck, she's currently covering a furnace vent and feeling blissful. (Ashton is built and furred a bit more like a Bobcat but even he has been pressing close during the nights.)

Last I heard, there were still some members of the local filk community without light or heat. Here's hoping that they also had/have a pleasant turnaround today. (The most recent status report still has 90,000 customers without power in Toronto -- down from 300,000 -- and many others outside the city proper.)
15th-Dec-2013 10:48 am - A TV 180
Ashton
When "Grimm" and "Once Upon A Time" appeared on TV, I started watching both. I find it interesting to think about how they've changed, along with my reaction to them.

After a few episodes, "Once Upon A Time" became one of my favorite shows. I really liked the fact that evil wasn't a pushover, that a force strong enough to conquer a kingdom and alter reality for thousands of people didn't just fold when faced with a street-wise heroine and her cute, precocious kid. Of course the good guys were going to win -- it was that kind of series -- but their slow progress and failures along the way made sense. Somewhere along the line, however, things changed. It must have been decided that having interesting characters wasn't enough; they all had to be somewhat sympathetic...and they all had to have unexpected twists in their backgrounds...and they all had to have surprise past relationships with each other. Oh, and we needed about three new permanent characters per week. "Once Upon A Time" is now a soap opera.

"Grimm" started out as a live-action cartoon. The character behavior and the plots were mostly comical (unintentionally, I assume) even given the starting premise. Over time, though, there's been added depth to the storytelling and some reduction in campiness, making it much more enjoyable for me. (It hasn't been completely cured of the over-the-top approach though. In the most recent episode, one person's description of why she didn't like Christmas could only have been more melodramatic if she'd revealed that her parents had been eaten by reindeer.)
2nd-Dec-2013 10:06 am - More Songwriting Introspection
Ashton
SFContario finished yesterday. Since it was a local convention, we drove back and forth each day instead of having a room at the hotel. That meant only taking as much stuff as could be reasonably carried or safely abandoned in the car. So, unusual for me, no camera, no pictures.

Not completely unrelated to that, I received a very nice compliment on one of my songs. The person noted that I had avoided getting preachy or moralistic on a subject where doing so would have been easy. I've been thinking about that and recognize a lot of factors in play, but one of them is certainly the same aesthetic that led me to photography as a means of expression.

If I show you a photograph, I'm telling you what I saw, I'm telling you that I thought it noteworthy, and I'm revealing my perspective...both metaphorically and literally. Whatever I may say about creating the image, the photograph itself does not tell you how you should react. In my opinion, that's your contribution to the artistic process.

Along with whatever other things I may attempt while writing a song, I try to keep a similar goal at the fore: put a story or situation out there for the listener to consider and let it stand on its own. If my feelings about what's being presented are obvious, I can live with that; "implicit" is OK.

If you ever feel that I've tried to be too manipulative in the words of some song, you have permission to call me on it. I may or may not agree but I'd like the opportunity to decide whether I've broken one of my own major rules.

The song that opened the topic:Collapse )
http://fiftyninety.fawmers.org/song/4274
27th-Nov-2013 06:31 pm - My Eyes Can Only Look At You
Ashton
I learned today that a relative who used to be very important to me died on Saturday. The fact that the news took four days to reach me says everything about my family and how the remains of it interact with each other. She was my Aunt and, with my Grandmother, essentially raised me when I was a child. At some point, she came to realize that very few people could tolerate being in the same room with her second husband. The showing at his funeral, fourteen years ago, was sparse and she reacted by withdrawing from contact with just about everyone she knew at the time. Even before that, her reaction to me moving from a small town to Toronto was increased emotional distance...I'd become one of *those* people.

I'll miss the Phyllis I knew when I was eight years old but that's a continuation; I've been missing her for decades. The saddest thing about today's news is that it should have been sadder.
Ashton
I'm sure you know the story by now: I go to a concert, I take pictures, I put the ones I like on Flickr, I post here.

IMG_1849

It was a great time and "Tam Lin" live was a special treat.

Full set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/phil_mills/sets/72157637678742886/with/10863465015/
4th-Nov-2013 05:05 pm - Proto-Parody
Ashton
Listening to shuffled songs on my way home and got Elton John's "Take Me To The Pilot". How easy would this be to turn into a Farscape song?
Take me to the pilot
Lead me through the chamber
Take me to the pilot
I am but a stranger
...and, obviously...
But what I'm told is never for certain
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