Wednesday, June 25, 2008

bugged dreams

I have been having these bugged out dreams. Or at least, now I'm remembering them.

The other day, I dreamt I was naked and walking around NYC at night. People pretty much ignored me and I just kept going and didn't look at anyone.

I made it to the place where I grew up. I was in my room with my sheets with the bears on them. I still have some of those sheets.

About that place where I grew up: it's a loft building in downtown Manhattan. It used to be a shitty neighborhood. A month ago, I was invited to a gallery opening next door to there. The people running the gallery would not let very many people in, so I was stuck on the sidewalk (in pain, as usual) looking at the block.

A lot of the other people trying to get in were younger than me, and dressed a bit like my friends used to dress when I moved out of there in the late 80s. They had track bikes, which were trendy in the late 80s though not exactly as they are now.

So there I am, in my own history, with a bunch of reenactors of that history, and we're all rejected.

Which is more like a dream?

At the end of the dream, I went to use my parents' phone, a black wall-mounted rotary phone. It was dead.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


I wonder if there are any high functioning autistics who are also straight acting gays.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stuff white people like

As a white person, I'm sick of being sneered at by my own peers. What happened to the middle class left, that it became so self-loathing? This list isn't about just any white people, but about those with the power. Well, the liberal ones. Maybe it's an expression of frustration over a percieved failure.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sander Hicks

Sander Hicks stood out strangely in the East Village of the early-to-mid '90s. Tall, affable, seemingly unaffected, and with Republican good looks, he was having his plays produced and starting a publishing company when most people I knew were maybe thinking about getting another tattoo. He got married at a time when I was still regularly sitting on stoops and drinking 40s. I remember one particularly acerbic punk chick mentioning that everyone was annoyed by him, but I really can't remember anyone's opinion. All I know is that he hooked me up at Kinko's on 11th St. as much as it seemed like he could, and invited me to parties, and was a generally pleasant fellow to know, though I was never exactly sure where he was coming from. Maybe we were all just a bit too superficial, and a normal looking dude like that who made no token gestures at 90s slack or trendiness was treated as a strange and unwelcome interloper. I hope none of that hindered him. Looking back, he seemed to have the right idea. Of course, my memory could also be wrong.

He now has a place over on the other side of Brooklyn that I'll check out when my ability to move about improves.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs describes his coats as having a "louche, beautiful silhouette".

Nor do I expect much from the Times' coverage of fashion.

Eric Wilson's question to Mr. Jacobs (at about the 3:40 mark in the above-linked video) about his "swashbuckler hats" struck me. "Swashbuckler" is a term of mockery. Here, Mr. Wilson is very much doing his job as a fashion critic, in that he is pointing out a possibly fatal flaw in the design of the hats: that they will make their wearers look like pirates, or Zorro.

Not that I doubt Marc Jacobs's aesthetic sensibility.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The end of relationships

I have a girlfriend, who I have had since about the exact moment of the end of my last girlfriend, or a little before. We've been friends for years, and I was really excited to get out of that other thing (7 years) and into this thing.

But now I know her better. The excitement is gone and I'm thinking I should get out. There is a lot of arguing, bad feelings about insignificant shit, and a feeling that I have to hang out with her even if I don't want to. She doesn't like to socialize too much, but doesn't entertain herself either, so I have to be actively entertaining her. It's exhausting.

But really those aren't the problems. The problem is I'm not feeling it. That's it. All the other shit is just rationalization.

I think it's time for me to face being alone - something I didn't do after my big breakup a year ago, but probably should have.

Strangely, I've also just bailed on a business commitment. As a programmer, a lot of people come to me with ideas, wanting me to help them out for a share of the profits they imagine will appear in the future. I'd never done this kind of work before, but this guy's idea seemed better, more well thought out and realistic, than the others. So I did a bit of work for him.

What killed it for me was not the work, but the fact that the guy's not too smart.

That's not the kind of judgment I usually feel comfortable making. What do I know about how smart someone is? I can only see the outside. But this guy - OK, not only is he kind of slow, but he thinks he's an expert.

Here's an example and it relates to the design of interactions between human and computer, through a web page. Sorry if it's obscure but if you've used a lot of web sites you might get it, even if you are not a programmer.

Our web site was to have a login. Put in computer user interface (UI) terms, there are two states, logged-in and not-logged-in. Ebay, Myspace, Google, YouTube, Yahoo - all of these web sites have the idea of logged-in and not-logged-in. When you are not logged in, a link in the upper right (usually) of the screen says "Sign in", and when you are logged in, that same space says some variation of "Welcome [your name]".

So, this guy tells me that a fundamental UI principle is that the interface must be consistent. Buttons must stay the same. Therefore, the "Sign in" button must be present, even if you are signed in. To not have it that way would be confusing, he said. He pointed out that he went to school and got a masters in just this field. We debated this for more than an hour. I even showed him ebay, YouTube, and Google. Finally he says - OK, when the user logs in, we keep the words "Sign in" in the upper right, but you can't click on them.

See? Dumb.

So, I quit.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Yahoo! and how to run it

I used to work at Yahoo as a programmer. It's a good place to work unless you actually care about your job and want to get things done.

Here's why I think that is. Parts of this might be boring for you if you have no interest in management or technology work.

It comes down to motivations.

At Y!, as it is internally known, I worked with a systems administrator, a project manager, and had above me three or four levels of management just within the division of Y! I was in. Of this subset of 6-7 people, two (me and the project manager) contributed anything to getting my job done. (Tangentially, my project contributed nothing to the Y! bottom line, but more on that later).

When I started working there I got a logon, a development machine, and access to the company CVS (a repository for uncompiled source code) and package repositories. My job was to write code, commit it to CVS, generate a "package", and ultimately, after testing on a staging environment, and getting approval from a manager, roll it out to the live web servers.

For whatever reason, this system not set up right when I arrived. I needed help. I turned to my managers and my assigned systems administrator.

Here's the part about motivations: I needed someone to navigate the byzantine inner sanctum of Y! and get me working. Now, mine was a small project and I was the only one on it. Why should my sys admin help me? What is his motivation? If he does a bad job, will he get fired? He has two possible motivations: he is a very nice guy, or he fears getting in trouble.

The only way to motivate anyone to do anything at Yahoo was to make him fear "trouble" - to complain to his manager. This "economy of complaint" sucks as a way to run a company. It's all stick and no carrot. And generally, no stick either. I mean, am I really going to complain to my managers all the time? That's the problem at Yahoo.

About the money:

Though my project was a huge money hole, for years it was never made profitable or scrapped. It was largely ignored. Who was ignoring it? I never had any idea what was going on in management.

Here's an idea: eliminate the hiring and firing power of management. Those roles would be handled by HR personnel who interview peers, and otherwise objectively evaluate job performance.

The role then of the managers would be solely to manage - to arrange teams, help programmers and sys admins communicate, do scheduling, and have a sense of the big picture. If my manager's not doing that, I report him to HR, just as he would report me if I weren't programming.

Why wouldn't this work?