Wednesday, June 22, 2016

To Gym or Not to Gym?

I'm out-of-shape.

It's gotten pretty sad, truth-be-told. I used to be able to run four or five miles without too much trouble. Now if I make one or two miles, I consider it fairly miraculous.

Don't get me started over stairs.

I'd like to blame my job, my work hours, the fates, the alignment of the stars, the gods, etc., but the fact of the matter is that I'm paying the price for a period I spent wallowing in self-pity at the bottom of too many pint glasses, either in a bar or in front of my PC.

I've been trying to overcome the inertia I'm set on. I've done it before. Last time I lost a good thirty pounds in just a few months by changing my diet and exercising like a madman.

Of course, last time, I could bicycle to work. And last time I wasn't quite so tempted with so many food options in my work area.

Those are excuses, of course.

I'm trying not to eat high-calorie meals so much anymore or snack at work, but... yeah. That's a struggle.

I run, or try to, and attempt to fold in some calisthenics when I get home, but frankly, it's really not enough. I find too many excuses to skip or shorten my routines. I have to study. I have to figure out job stuff. I have to decompress. Blah-blah-blah.

So at lunch today with friends, one of my buddies who experiences similar issues suggested joining a gym.

I'll admit, I've considered the idea. My office will pay a subsidy to help with a gym membership. There's advantages to a gym, but they're ultimately overcome by the flaw in the premise: if I can't find the willpower to exercise on my own, what makes me think I'll do it in a gym?

Oh, there's the argument that if you pay for it, it inspires you to go. That's frankly bullshit. All that will happen is I'll burn money and be mad at myself.

So a gym... hm. Probably not.

I should get back into martial arts. I've considered it. I do enjoy it and it's an excellent workout. The issues (aside from willpower) really fall down to time constraints (working out class times with my work) and the fact that martial arts classes attract a fair number of assholes.

And, trust me. You don't want to deal with an asshole in a martial arts class. I almost lost an ear to one in the last style I studied.

In any event, it's certainly something I need to work out soon. Ugh.

Person of Interest

Last night was the conclusion to "Person of Interest", pretty much the only TV show I watch (well, watched) that wasn't what passes for news on TV.

I'm sad now.

I truly enjoyed POI. The premise was a fun procedural (billionaire recruits CIA badass to help him save lives) that mutated into some cool, subversive sci-fi(?). Topics such as mass surveillance, the good of the many vs the good of the few, and artificial intelligence were all introduced as the show expanded to a fascinating cast of characters.

The last two seasons revolved around the AI used by the good guys (known as "The Machine") in its battle against the seemingly-malign and totalitarian AI known as "Samaritan".

Throughout the five years, I found myself truly invested in the characters. I loved the many layers of the morally-tormented Harold Finch as he wrestled with being the creator of one of the ASIs ("artificial super-intelligences"). I enjoyed the wry tough-guy humor of John Reese, the former CIA killer. I fell more than a little in love with the emotionally-stunted badass killer, Samine Shaw. I loved how the ever-awesome Amy Acker went from psychotic villain to psychotic hero. I fell a little in love with Detective Joss Carter and was pissed the hell off when she died in one of the more ridiculous deaths in a show full of weird deaths. And I have to say I grew to consider Lionel Fusco, the bad cop turned good, as my favorite. I still consider him the most heroic character in the show.

I loved the slow-burning intensity of the five seasons of the show and the sinister growth of Samaritan's power into this season.

If I have a complaint at all, it's that the last two episodes felt waaaaaay too rushed. After such a slow build-up, there were some jarring reversals and hand-waving to get the story to its otherwise satisfying conclusion.

I'm going to miss you, POI. You were a fairly intelligently-written show, overall.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

This, that, and other stuff

I'm re-re-re-re-re-re-reading "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R.R. Martin. I'm starting again with "A Game of Thrones" with the intention of hacking my way through the written series.


I'm of mixed feeling on this. I'm out of interesting reading material, and want to re-familiarize myself with the written series. But frankly, the last two books of the series ("A Feast for Crows" and "A Dance with Dragons") were kinda shit. Especially "A Dance with Dragons". Given how long it's taking to get the next book out (five years, I think is the current count), I don't expect to see the written series conclude.

The TV series doesn't really count, given it's completely off-the-rails now.

Still, I need something to entertain me on BART.

Re-stocked on my supply of High West Campfire. Damn that's good booze.

Went shopping for shoes today. Yes. Shoes shopping.

One can shop for shoes online (via Zappos or what-not), but I find shoes shopping to be very much a brick-and-mortar sort of activity. It really helps to try on different shoes and get a proper feel for them.

I must have gone through fifteen different pairs before settling on what I wound up getting. It's amazing how different brands of shoes can offer the same size, but feel completely different.

One pair dug into the arch of my foot so badly, I was limping for a part of my afternoon.

Oh well. Hopefully these shoes will survive for a while.

I hate shopping for shoes.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Crosseyed Code

I'm not really all that far into my studies in Java and it's already doing something to my brain.

I'm dreaming of setting classes and arranging for loops. I think I've typed "public static void main(String args[]) {" enough that it may be etched on my frontal lobes. I'm dreaming of "System.out.print" statements.

WTF is this going to do to me in a few more weeks? Sweet FSM I'm only three chapters in.

The Twin Foundations

This post title refers to a basic philosophy I hold about the Universe. The twin foundations of the Universe are perversity and irony. Out of those, we get the weirdness of our reality.

When I can't see evidence of that, I know I'm just not looking hard enough.

The latest evidence I find is in my office. We've suffered horrific attrition this year. As a result, some of us have shuffled our duties a bit to help keep things going.

My role in my office is pretty much supporting. I work on multiple teams at the tail end of a process. I don't call the shots. I provide input in certain matters, but I'm largely a peripheral character.

If my office were a TV show, I'd be the comic relief.

On top of all that, I hate meetings. I hate them with an unholy passion. I tolerate meetings that are relevant and provide useful information, but anyone who works in any kind of office knows such things are impossibly rare.

I work in software, and my company attempts to practice the Scrum method of Agile development.

Look it up if you're confused. I really don't want to get into that in this post.

In a nutshell, Scrum pretty much means that every day, you can look forward to a meeting called a "standup", which is - in theory - no more than 15 minutes long and pretty much just gets a team in-sync with what's going on with one another and calls out any problems (called "blockers" in the parlance).

Standups can very easily go off the rails. They are supposed to be overseen by someone known as a "Scrum master".

No, that's not a supervillain name, though that idea has promise. It is, in theory, a role that rotates among team members. Run the standup. If someone's got something keeping the lucky soul from getting his or her job done, the "Scrum master" tries to escalate the issue to fix it.

Pretty simple, in theory, but it's not really an easy task. Meetings have a tendency to spin out of control and get quickly off-topic. As soon as that happens, your meeting is an utter waste of time, costing the company money and the staff sanity.

What the hell does that have to do with Perversity and Irony, you ask?

Good question. I got off the rails there, didn't I? Good thing this isn't a standup.

So I've been stepping into the role of "Scrum master" for my teams of late. Why? I don't know. Impatience, I guess. The funny bit is that people are telling me I'm doing a great job keeping things on-track. It's not due to any innate leadership skills on my part. No, most certainly that. It's pure, stubborn, impatience and a heartfelt loathing of meetings.

Figures one of the few things I'm apparently good at pertains to something I hate.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I'll have a cuppa...

So I'm trying to learn Java.

More accurately, I'm working my way through Java: A Beginner's Guide, Sixth Edition by Herbert Schildt.

Why? Reasons.

It's really driving home how I really am not a programmer.

I've dabbled before.

When I was a kid, Basic was a big thing. Of course, the Pyramids were new and we'd just come out of the last ice age, so... yeah.

It never really stuck, though. I didn't really have the head for programming as a kid. In fairness, I didn't have a head for anything that wasn't sci-fi pop culture. So it goes.

Fast-forward a chunk of time and I'm learning the basics of UNIX (oh god, vi...) and I take a class on Perl scripting.

Sweet FSM what a hellscape that became.

I can remember bits and pieces of Perl, but never really needed it on my job so the knowledge faded. I still have my O'Reilly book on Learning Perl, but it's got a layer of dust on it.

A few years back, I decided to familiarize myself with JavaScript. I picked up A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript by Mark Myers. Myers has very digestible lessons with short exercises to test one's knowledge.

I was actually doing pretty well with it. I got about halfway through, then life kicked me in the balls and I focused all my energies on getting a new job.

Then I had to learn the new job stuff, which mainly meant studying a lot of Salesforce platform stuff. Not Apex, their JavaScript knock-off, but their clicks-not-code bits.

I got my 401 certification from them and let my brain coast for the last year.

Then life came along and kicked me in the balls again.

Now I'm trying to learn Java.

Not so much to program. I mostly want to be able to read code in a fairly-common object-oriented language and understand WTF is going on.

It's not a painless process, but damn me if I'm not having a bit of fun. Once I got my first crappy little Java program to compile, it was immensely satisfying. Running it and seeing the corny message, was a warm-and-fuzzy feeling.

I'm determined to put in at least an hour every day to get through this nearly 700 page behemoth and understand this damn language.

Then, who knows? I think I'll revisit JavaScript. Maybe even look at Perl again.

Assuming my brain hasn't exploded.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Review: "Deadpool"

I took today off from work. Chilled out. Ate a nice, fattening breakfast. Hit a biergarten for lunch. Chill day.

Oh wait, I said I was going to review Deadpool, didn't I?

Yeah, so I finally saw Deadpool. Dunno why or how I missed it in theaters.

No, wait. That's a lie. I know why and how. By the time life calmed down enough for me to even consider hitting a film in theaters, it was too much of a pain in the ass to find one in which Deadpool was still playing.

Fast forward to today. So... yeah.

Reactions: Goddamn brilliant!

Nice opening with the ultra-violence. Fun dose of carnage. Morena Baccarin. Mmmm... Sorry, where was I?

I'm lukewarm on Deadpool in comics. The character concept is campy, but fun. I didn't think they could possibly do a proper Deadpool film. When I heard Ryan Reynolds (who once played Green Lantern) was cast, I was... well, I wasn't super-excited. Reynolds also played Wade Wilson in Wolverine: Origins, which was not a good movie, so... yeah.

I was gratified to find my fears were unfounded. This movie was fantastic. Breaking the fourth wall. Ridiculous villains. X-Men cameos. Guns. It had it all.

And Morena Baccarin.

I cannot wait for the sequel.