John Scott, NHL All-Star

John Scott plays hockey. He’s a lunch-pail, blue-collar player who works hard to stay in the league. He’s been called a dying breed, or an old-schooler, but those are just soft words to disguise what he does so well. He’s an enforcer. He’s a peacekeeper. He keeps the peace by making it absolutely clear that he will destroy anyone who violates the peace. He was on the team I support last year, and it’s funny how many fights didn’t happen when John Scott came on the ice.

But if it’s fisticuffs you want, John Scott is your bloke.

CZ6qWnSXEAAOYnsThere are thugs around the league that everyone hates. Raffi Torres, technically a member of my favorite team, comes to mind. People hate Raffi, and for good reason. But people don’t hate John Scott. He’s a bruiser, a puncher, but not a dirty player. If you don’t violate John Scott’s peace, you need not fear.

Not only do hockey fans not hate John Scott, they like him so much that this year they elected him to the all-star game. Part of it is a joke, of course, the fans punking the league. But they’d never punk the league with Raffi Torres. He’s an asshole. They punked the league with someone they liked. I’m sure many people in San Jose hopped on the John Scott bandwagon, even though he doesn’t play here anymore.

The NHL did not handle the situation gracefully. They tried to bury him, to shuffle him out of the lineup, and to apply personal pressure to get him to step down. Scott readily acknowledges that he is not the most skilled player in the NHL, but when the league began dicking him over to knock him out of the game, he pushed back, in a low-key, John Scott sort of way. Because that’s who he is; that’s always been his game. Play by the rules, there’s no problem. Step over the line, and he will guide you back, gently, at first.

Fans howled. Whether they were his supporters before or not, the NHL brass was trying to nullify their vote. He will be playing in the all-star game.

Then the other all-star players voted, and he has a C on his sweater. Team captain. John Fuckin’ Scott, team captain in the all-star game. The players, at least, remembered who really pays their checks, and they don’t mind punking their employers now and then to boot. You can read a feel-good piece about it (twins any minute now!) over at espn (also the source of the above image).

And now I’ll probably watch at least some of that horrible game, just to hear the arena get loud when Scott steps onto the ice. The game is suddenly interesting, at least for a few minutes. Final victory: NHL.



Today as I was driving to work (really had planned to bike today, but…) I was in stop-and-go next to a Maserati. “That’s a handsome automobile,” I thought. About then I caught a whiff of the oil going out my tailpipe and that brought to mind the mortality of all useful machines. I stopped to look at one of the Maseratis that parks in my structure. It is indeed handsome, even on extended inspection. “I wonder of there’s a Maserati convertible?” I pondered.

There is a Maserati convertible, it turns out. And it’s also a handsome automobile. And… it’s pricey.

Ha. “Pricey.” OK, I know a prestige marque commands a premium, but I wasn’t ready for a price tag that’s damn near twice the Jaguar F-type. That’s the competition, I figure. And while I find the Jag a little butt-heavy (I have heard that the trunk had to be expanded to meet the marketing requirement that it could hold a big-ass set of golf clubs – but if it can only hold one set, that’s what the passenger seat is for), and the Maserati is allegedly a four-seater, there’s just no way to justify spending absurdly too much for the Maserati (assuming you are already reconciled to spending far too much for the Jaguar).

Unless, unless, the Maserati has fewer stupid gizmos. There’s stuff on most modern cars I’d pay to not have. It would take a lot of not-having to justify that price, however.


A Fine Way to Start the Week

Fortunately I planned ahead and started stretching the Miata’s top last night — it had been down so long that it had forgotten what up was like. Then on the commute this morning: Thunder! Lightning! (Not necessarily in that order!)

California freeway in the rain? This isn’t So-Cal but the rain still makes already-awful traffic awfuller. Except this morning was the lightest traffic I’ve experienced in weeks, with drivers showing a little extra courtesy I’ve long since given up expecting. Go figure.

Tomorrow back on the bike, but welcome, rain. Don’t be a stranger.


My NaNoWriMo Helper

My NaNoWriMo Helper

My NaNoWriMo Helper

I don’t know what I’d do without her.


How’d They Do That?

One of the magic things about a tilt-shift lens is that if you can find a vantage over a cityscape and look down, you can make images that look inexplicably toy-like. Something about the altered perspective monkeys with the cues our brains use to establish scale.

Here’s a great example (© Jay Lee*):

There’s an Audi ad running right now that says, “this car is the best toy you will ever own.” It blends a child’s fantasy with footage of the actual car. Helicopters abound. But many of the “actual” shots have a distinctly toy-like look to them, much the way the tilt-shift-from-above shots do. Granted there’s a ridiculous amount of post-processing in the ads, but I have to think that the original videography is the foundation for that toy-like quality. Yet the perspective is not the down-from-above angle that I would expect.

I’d like to meet the director of photography for that ad and learn how he did it.

* Jay Lee also weaves bacon.


Venus’ Last Stand

For a couple of years she beat her little sister, but now Serena gets all the big wins. Time is separating the two, now Venus is “only” the 23rd top player in the world. Tonight’s match may be the last meaningful showdown between the sisters.

First set: Serena.

Second set: Venus — decisively.

Third set: still early, leaning Serena. I’m kind of pulling for big sister Venus. I gotta think it will matter around the table at Thanksgiving.


A Good Place to Be

This is a big technical discourse that ends with a restaurant endorsement. Because Agave in San Jose is a good place to be.

Today pretty much sucked. It started last night, when I ran a routine software update on the heroic little computer that brings you these ramblings. It is a Mac Mini tucked away on a shelf in a climate-controlled facility in Henderson, NV; a little machine that just plugs along year after year.

As a primer before I dive into that part of my hardship, let me take a moment to describe the UNIX world. UNIX is a computer operating system that has been copied and recopied into different kinds of Linux and BSD, as well as Apple’s Darwin, but philosophically the different flavors have much in common and share a lot of little programs. In fact, it’s all about the little programs. Each little app is designed to solve one problem perfectly, and larger applications use these underlying facilities. A graphics program could depend on dozens of underlying libraries.

So when you install one of these programs, how can you be sure all the parts it depends on exist on your system? It’s a huge chore, made much simpler by package managers. Package managers are special programs that maintain a database of who-needs-what so when you install SuperGameMachine it will automatically install CleverGraphicsLibrary, and that in turn will require StupidGraphicsLibrary, and that will require something called gl (actually the names of all these things are criminally terse, so you can never deduce the purpose from the name — CleverGraphicsLibrary would be named cgl).

Anyway, a major upgrade of ncurses just came out, and it gave me a hellish few hours. That database of who depends on what? Well, it turns out is wasn’t so complete, in the MacPorts world. ncurses had been so stable for so long that many program maintainers didn’t even realize they depended on it. The update came along and those programs were still looking for the old version. One of those programs was bash. bash is part of mac OS, but there was a massive (MASSIVE!) security hole in bash and I went to MacPorts to get the new version faster.

When you watch hackers on TV, when they’re typing cryptic symbols into their black screens, mostly they’re giving instructions to bash. Bash is a shell, which is a name for a program that takes stuff you type and does stuff as a result. For veracity, hackers in movies might compare the merits of bash and zch or tsch, but at this time bash is boss.

So when you open up a window to type those cryptic commands, it will launch your chosen shell. If you set your preferred shell to be bash, and then bash is broken, you are screwed. You are especially screwed if you don’t have physical access to the box. You try to log in, bash fails, and you sit at your terminal in helpless frustration, shouting to the uncaring gods of the night. Even if the package manager eventually sorts out the problem, you can’t get in to run the repair.

OK, this is getting long. I got through that, but there wasn’t a lot of sleeping involved. (Two bug tickets at MacPorts now closed.)

Then, today, after a rather frustrating meeting at work, I was betrayed by my bar. By my BAR! By my quiet haven in this noisy world. We had a contract — I paid a chunk in advance and got a discount on my first frosty mug of happiness on each visit for the rest of my life. I am not dead yet, but new(ish) ownership of Rookies Sports Lodge says it will no longer honor the deal. Should I shout? Threaten? Walk away?

It’s going to take some doing to make today come out right.

So here I am at Agave, the neighborhood cantina, and things are starting to feel better. I am working up the vocabulary to make sure that the official Muddled Sweetie gets her chicken burrito smothered with lots of good stuff. None of the English-speaking staff seems to be on tonight.

But make no mistake, these guys here make good food, for a good price. The menu now has many prices lined out and raised with a ball-point pen, but those big-ass burritos still hold the price line. And even the new ball-point prices are a steal. There aren’t many places in this town where my internal cheap bastard and my internal gourmand can party together, but this is one.

Waiting for the food, sippig Negra Modelo, listening to music with bright trumpets and tight vocal harmony, things are starting to feel better. I’m gonna be all right.