Welcome to everyone who's visiting via referral from Wee's "Linux on a Cash Register" site. Yeah, I'm Tracy, the main lady of Wee who carries obsolete RAM modules in my purse. Why exactly was I toting RAM around, you may ask, and reasonably so... Well, partly because I am indeed pretty geekish and couldn't see wasting good albeit obsolete memory, so I tucked it away to bring home and just forgot it was there; partly it's just because I'm a packrat, so anything sufficiently small and proximal to me has a fair shot at ending up in said satchel at some point, until the bag becomes unreasonably cumbersome and cleaning ensues. Whatever the reason, I'm happy to have helped Wee's dream of a programmable LED-on-a-Stick become reality. Although his follow-on vision of cutting a hole in our kitchen counter in which to mount the LEDOAS for household viewing applications is one for which, sadly, I cannot throw down any support.
So anyway, now that you're here, feel free to have a look around... bearing in mind that this site mainly exists to let my friends know what's up with me when I'm too lame to update them individually (which is most of the time). Therefore, I'm not expecting anyone who doesn't know me to be overly interested by what I have to say here, and any inquiries about why I'm wasting precious bandwidth by posting this inane personal drivel will be personally and tenderly deposited by yours truly to the Trash folder for safekeeping. So, that being said... Enjoy!
Are you sick of reading entries about paintball yet? How about ones where I talk about having people over to the house? I have a feeling it would be rather tedious of me to recap Saturday's paintball/BBQ party for Wee's birthday, then. But seeing as I don't have much else to write about at the moment, I'm going to have to bore you with details of the day, though I'll try for relative brevity…
Paintball was fun - $4R-related folks Amy, Josh, Chris, and Kent joined Zac and Wee and I, which made for a fun group of compatriots. Amy hadn't gone before, but I think we got her hooked. The weather was perfect (aside from the fact that we'd forgotten sunblock and got burned). I almost didn't get to use my gun because the velocity adjuster bolt thing was mysteriously missing off my gun (the first of two unusual disappearance events of the day - more on the second one later). I resigned myself to renting a gun, but after I paid for one and went to pick it up, a resourceful kid at the rental area to whom I'd mentioned my dilemma pulled out a box of rusty old components and found a bolt that fit my gun. My hero! Later on I was able to get my refund for the rental and use it to buy a replacement loader elbow for one I'd cracked - very handy.
I think I played pretty well - I scored a couple of good tags, and even helped my team win a game by covering a teammate as he grabbed the plastic barrel that was our objective for that round. Usually I couldn't care less about capturing the flag or the cone or whatever, but it was kind of fun to actually engage in the objective for once and succeed. The guy, a 20-something dude that looked like a regular player, came over to me afterward and shook my hand, which made me feel absolutely bad-ass. *grin* The worst hits I took were, sadly, accidental ones from my own teammates as I left the field after being tagged out. Friendly fire isn't. In the very first game I took one on the head that left a big lump (the kid that hit me was nice about coming up and apologizing, though), and on the last game I got one on my arm that actually bled. If I'd worn long sleeves and a baseball cap like I sometimes do, neither hit would have been quite as painful - but the day was hot, so I'm not sorry I dressed light. Physically I don't really mind getting hit - although I'd prefer it wasn't by my own team! At any rate, we had a great time.
Our post-paintball barbeque was a veritable hootenanny. Bill was a good sport about having to do the barbequing at his own party, poor guy - but the drumsticks and ribs were very tasty, so I'm glad he made the sacrifice. We were looking forward to leftovers - there were about a dozen drumsticks left and about that many ribs by the time people were done eating - but at some point in the evening we realized that the Pyrex pans that had held them on the kitchen counter were completely empty. Each of us thought the other had put the meat away - but when we compared notes, we realized that neither of us had done so. An inspection of the refrigerator and freezers revealed that the leftovers were not to be found there. Hence our second and more perplexing disappearance of the day... The Mystery of the Disappearing Barbeque. We briefly wondered if the dog had gotten to them; there was just too much for her to have pulled it off, though, and we don't think she would've been able to reach the bits in the back half of the pans - at least, she couldn't have done so without making a big mess, possibly tipping over the pans, and without anyone noticing her do it, especially since she'd have had to make multiple trips. Also, she just wasn't acting guilty enough. If she'd done it, I guarantee she would have slunk off somewhere, and/or given us the squint-eye when we looked at her with suspicion, and she was doing neither. So, did someone decide to take them home? If so, what did they put them in? Doesn't seem likely. Did someone simply eat them? Nah - they'd been sitting there en masse for a significant interval after everyone had finished eating, so I can't imagine anyone getting a sudden impulse to come in and chow down on several pounds of tepid barbeque. So we're still pretty perplexed over the Disappearing Meat Incident. Other than that, though, good time had by all, I think. We pretty much spent Sunday in recovery.
Short work week for me and Wee, this is - yay! Wednesday night we're driving up to Phoenix for a dental visit and for Birthday Party Redux - the Family Edition. Should be a hoot…
Caution: Tess gets all serious and soapboxish on a depressing subject. Can't say you weren't warned!
Today a U.S district judge in Oregon dismissed Attorney General Ashcroft's attempt to invalidate an Oregon law legalizing physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill, mentally competant patients (see the Yahoo story).
The law was enacted in 1994 and reapproved by overwhelming majority after opponents put it back on the ballot in 1997. Eligible individuals must be diagnosed by at least two separate physicians as being terminally ill with no hope of recovery, and a psychological review must be made to confirm that they're mentally competant, not suffering from depression, and are making a rational, self-motivated decision. It's a pioneering piece of legislation, and I'm proud that my home state is leading the fight for people's right to die with dignity and according to their own wishes, instead of suffering needlessly or else taking their life in some other, more traumatic way (and risking having it not work - now there's a fun outcome; still dying of cancer, but now with half your face blown off!).
There's a website for advocates of this law, called Compassion in Dying, that provides good information on the issue and the law. Also on this site are downright heartbreaking testimonials from survivors of people who chose, in desperation, to end their lives via nasty means (usually firearm-related) because they felt they had no other choice to avoid suffering. In one sad case, a man with cancer kissed his wife goodbye, went out to the front lawn so he wouldn't mess up the house, and shot himself in the head. Under the Oregon law, he could have stayed in his bedroom, his wife by his side, and passed away in comfort, in peace, and intact (as it was, his wife was given the bonus of finding his dental plate in the yard several months later... What a lovely memento).
Surely the folks mentioned above would have preferred a more peaceful end to their lives. Further, in many cases they might well have chosen to keep on truckin' a little longer, knowing that they had the option to go when they were ready, instead of in haste before they lost their window of opportunity. In fact, assistance-in-dying proponents note that the majority of people who are given the option do not end up using it and instead die naturally... but the balance of their days are eased immeasurably by the peace of knowing that they are making a choice, instead of being consumed with fear and apprehension of impending helplessness and suffering.
The fact that we allow this kind of suffering to happen in today's society is brutal and cruel, I think. Pain medications can only do so much; in many cases, the patient is either unable to take a sufficient dose to eradicate the pain (because their lawsuit-shy doctors don't want to risk inducing an lethal overdose), or they succumb to a drug-laden stupor that may as well be death, except that the medical bills keep accumulating and their loved ones are stuck in grieving limbo. How can anyone say this is better than someone having the ability to orchestrate their end, say their goodbyes, and leave the earth gently, lucidly, and on their own terms?
I refuse even to entertain the notion that it's "God's will" that these people live or die and that He's the only one who can end their suffering. Bullshit. Let's pretend for a minute that I even believed that someone was up there calling the shots… What kind of God would want to see someone suffer horribly, any more than He'd want physicians to withhold treatment when the cancer is first diagnosed because it's "His will" that the person get sick? If you really think God's the only one who can decide when someone should die, you'd better pray hard that you're never in a position where you're begging Him for that death because you're in agony and don't have any way out of it until He calls uncle for you. Good luck with that. Almost no one ever thinks it's going to happen to them before it does.
Our society has become so consumed with denial of mortality and the notion that no malady is incurable, that there's always hope for a miracle cure (not to say people shouldn't have hope - only that they shouldn't let it blind them), that often there's a refusal to accept that sometimes it's just not going to get better. Sure, we have the technology to keep a body breathing, a heart pumping, a nervous system manipulated long past the point where, in past times, nature would have dictated that a person's number was up. However, there is a difference between living and existing... And far too many terminally-ill patients are forced into unreasonable, lingering demises that do bear no resemblance to "living", because of the medical profession's well-meaning but sometimes unreasonable mandate to prevent death at all costs and under all circumstances barring actual brain death. The fact is that everyone has to die, and if someone is facing a death that's painful, bleak and certain, I think it's a moral imperative to give them the option of retaining some dignity and succor via a less horrible passing if their rational preference is such.
Hope is good; it can be miraculous. But when even the best and most fervent hopes doesn't pan out, then people should be able to decide for themselves how to proceed. It's their life, their death, and so it should be their choice.
As for me, I consider Oregon's law to be a checkmark on the list of "Why I should move back there". Of course, I don't ever want to have to make that choice. But I absolutely want the option to do so should I find myself in that position. Anyway, I hope other states follow Oregon's lead and provide the same right to their citizens. There's enough suffering in the world.
I made a new 404 page for my site tonight. I'm very proud of it. Hee. Go see it! Come on, you know how... (Although if you're using Internet Explorer, you may not be able to see it - IE defaults to its own boring 404 page when I try to look at it at work. Bloody Microsoft gits...).
Also, many thanks to my ever-lovin' Wee for setting up the new framed format of this site, with monthly archives. Much better! (If'n you can't handle framed sites - um, sorry).
My sysadmin informed me this morning that his server's referrer log made note of this Google search that led to TessNews. Heh. I don't think they got quite what they were looking for here. Though I know people I could refer them to...
One has to wonder, though... Why was the Googlee in question specifically looking for an mpeg of this act, vs. a general discussion of it? After all, the actual process is fairly straight-forward - one wouldn't think a demo would be required to get the gist of it. So was this person seeking a visual for education... or for titillation (so to speak)? Hmm. Maybe if they come back and visit TessNews again, they can email me and set me straight on the subject...
I have to confess. I can't live a lie any longer. I'm compelled to share the truth, and if doing so engenders derision and hatred in the hearts of those I love, then that is simply the cross I must bear:
I really, really like the Ace of Base song, "I Saw the Sign". When it pops up on a ShoutCast channel, I'm happy. I know it's wrong; but I can't help it. Maybe it's a lingering after-effect of my early exposure to ABBA (their "Greatest Hits" was the first album I ever owned; the second was Shawn Cassidy's self-titled debut, featuring such hits as "Da Doo Ron Ron Ron" and "That's Rock and Roll"). I don't like any of the wacky Swedes' other songs, though - just the one. Is that so wrong?
OK, maybe so. May God have mercy on my soul for my poor taste.
Oh, wait - I forgot my recent conversion to apatheism. So... whatever.
Quiz: Who was backstage at the Kid Rock show at the Universal Amphitheatre in Hollywood this past Saturday night?
a.) Ron Jeremy, pr0n star extraordinaire
b.) A variety pack of Hollywood's music industry hangers-on
d.) All of the above
If you guessed "d", give yourself a gold star, smiley face and/or a hearty "Well done!" for your cleverness. Yes, friends, this weekend I partied likeï¿½ well, if not a rock star, then certainly the groupie of one.
I drove up to L.A. to meet up with some old friends from high school (Nicole, Lucas and Kristina). Nicole and Lucas, incidentally, have their own links to fame - Nicole is a personal assistant to Robert Goulet and his wife, and Lucas is an aspiring screenwriter with a script in development in Ireland (so far they've apparently signed the lead singer from "The Commitments" for a major role, and are courting the roommate from "Notting Hill" for another), and has been talking to Tim Russ, aka Tuvok on Voyager, about developing another one. Kristina, as it turns out, works for the House of Blues corporate offices, and thus is able to get passes for pretty much any show playing at one of their many venues. Therefore, she graciously offered up the evening's entertainment in the form of backstage passes to the Kid Rock show. Am I a Kid Rock fan? Well, no. I could accurately identify maybe a couple of his songs if they came on the radio (most reliably, the one where he screams "My name is Kid! Rock! Rock!"); mostly Iï¿½m aware of his existence via the press he gets for being Pamela Anderson's squeeze. But hell - the people-watching opportunities were more than sufficient for me to check it out, and so we did.
I have to admit that there's just something very satisfying about having a pass stuck to your chest that lets you go places that other people only wish they could go. As we stood watching the show itself (which actually wasn't bad - the Kid is a pretty energetic performer, and there were pyrotechnics, which is always a good thing), several people came up to us and tried to wheedle a pass from us. One of them almost got away with it - it was dark, the music was loud, and when he approached me in his red sweatshirt I thought he was one of the many security folks who come up and make sure you're kosher to be where you are - so I nudged Lucas and asked him to hand me the paper pass we had as additional authorization; but as I did, the kid blew it by saying "Man, I have to get backstage at a show before I leave on Wednesdayï¿½" at which point I wised up and informed him that there was nothing I could do for him. Poor sucka.
Anyway, after watching a couple of songs' worth of the show, we decided to head on back. "Backstage" consisted of an open-air pavilion, partially covered with a canopy, where people milled around, drank free beer and wine, and checked each other out. At one end was a table laid out with a veritable mountain of tortilla chips, salsa and veggies, which mostly went ignored. We grabbed drinks and settled in to watch and to chat with Kristina's many associates. (That girl knows how to network - she seemed to be chummy with everyone, even the guards at the various gates. Backstage she flitted about like a bee with pigtail braids in place of antennae, pollinating her prospects and buzzing back periodically to make sure we were cool. She was just the kind of host I like, really; casually attentive with minimal stress). I'd dressed very low-key - my hipster faded flare-leg jeans, black sandals, and a silky long-sleeved maroon shirt (which one rockabilly dude really liked - he touched my sleeve and said the material felt exactly like rose petals - which it does, actually. Plus, its color completely masked red wine spills, which turned out to be a handy feature in the jostling crowd). Sadly, the true celebrities kept to the more exclusive backstage area and did not emerge to mingle with civilians, and we had neither the credentials nor the bravado to try to enter that zone. Kristina had gotten Nick back there to meet Duran Duran once, but since none of us were rabid Kid Rock fans, there didn't seem to be any point in pushing it. The closest thing to a celebrity sighting we had was that of the illustrious Mr. Jeremy, who appeared near the periphery and held minor court there. He was a short, fat, vaguely greasy looking older guy in an aloha shirt with spooky blue eyes and a bushy mustache.
Despite the lack of stargazing, though, the scene was still rich with people-watching potential. As you would expect, there was a wide array of fashions and freakshows on display... Kid and Pam wanna-bes - stringy-haired men in wife-beaters and fedoras and skanky, lacquered women in patent leather microminis; fashionista groupie chicks in low-slung hot pants and prefab tits, casting calculating glares at each other and hopeful glances at the passageway to the celebrity section; a smattering of classic leather-and-chain punks; a contingent of strutting gangsta boys, all attitude and gold chains; and a fair number of just regular folks like us, probably mostly employees like Kristina and their guests. No one hassled us, and we were pretty much content to be extras.
Anyway, after it became apparent that the crowd was thinning and no luminaries were to be forthcoming, we decided to move on. We drove down to Kristina's office building on Sunset Boulevard. There was a party on the 22nd floor in an office that seemed more like a rich boys' frat house - pool table, big screen TV with couch, a well-stocked snack area with copious liquor in the glass-front fridgeï¿½. We ended up wandering back to an dark office at the end of the hall with a black leather couch, a bank of expensive monitors, and a wall of windows with a spectacular vista of the flat glowing grid of Hollywood. As we sat there admiring the view, and passing around a certain something, a guy walked in - we said hi, and he said "Welcome to my office." We apologized for intruding and polluting his office, but he was completely cool with it, and sat down and hung out with us. His name was "Speaks" - the business card he gave us confirmed that he was strictly a one-namer - and he said he did visual effects and editing for all the major television production companies, rattling off a laundry list of shows and commercials that his team had worked on, the details of which escape me (reference the free wine mentioned earlier, etc.). Anyway, we hung out there for quite a while - Speaks was enthusiastic about passing out cards when we left and saying he hoped to see us again, which was a sweet albeit probably transient gesture. Eventually we descended to the 11th floor for a quick look at the House of Blues office where Kristina worked - very groovy dï¿½cor - and then down to ground level, where we walked to a nearby after-hours nightclub. The name and details of this place elude me, except that it had industrial-looking black on black dï¿½cor and lots of carefully hip people angling for a last-minute hookup. We got back to Kristina's place just before dawn and collapsed gratefully.
So that was my big night out amidst the Hollywood music scene. I saw Kid Rock shake his money-maker, met some cool folks, got reacquainted with great old friends, maintained a very optimal buzz throughout the evening, and somehow managed to dodge any sort of bad news... even if I didn't get to have a heart-to-heart with Pammie Anderson, it was still a rocking good time. And I get to mark "go backstage at a rock show" off my list of things to do before I die. W00t!
P.S. Where was Bill during all of this? In Phoenix, chatting with America's Toughest Sheriff and Congressional candidate Sal DiCiccio at a fundraiser hosted by my in-laws. (Stay posted to Bill's blog for details of that evening). Yes, hobnobbing with minor celebrities seems to be our bag lately...
New favorite show on TV: Greg the Bunny on Fox (I saw it on 8:30 pm Thursday - which is a great slot, perfect to watch after "Friends" instead of that hideous "Sex in the City" knockoff NBC offers - but apparently its regular slot is 9:30 Wednesdays).
The show is pretty damned funny. It's based on the concept of "What if TV puppets were actually alive and walking among us like they do on their shows?" The puppets on this show (including some familiar faces like the Count from Sesame Street - old and wrinkled, just like he'd be in real life by now, blah!) have all the foibles of their human actor counterparts - egos, career worries, substance abuse problems, colorful vocubularies... It's sort of a "Meet the Feebles" reworked as a prime-time sitcom with human counterparts.
The human cast is great as well - especially Seth Green as Greg's roommate Jimmy, and Eugene Levy as Seth's father Gil, the producer of the children's show on which Greg sort of inadvertantly lands a job as the lead character. I love both of these actors in pretty much anything they do, and it's super-cool to watch a show that features them both. The humor is clever, a good mix of goofy and sarcastic, and some of the lines are surprisingly risqué - it reminds me of Mike Myers material. Apparently Greg and Co. have been around on New York cable access and IFC for a few years, and finally grabbed the attention of the folks at Fox who developed it into its newest incarnation. Anyway, cheers to "Greg the Bunny" - here's to a season of equally amusing shows to come!
Todd and Wyoming's going away party was this Saturday at our house. With nearly 40 positive RSVP's to our Evite invitation, and a few more we knew were coming, it was the largest social event we've ever attempted to host in our house… We were kind of, well, curious to see how it would all pan out, but I think everything went extremely (surprisingly) well. The guests came and went in waves, so we kept a steady crowd of about 20 or so throughout the evening. There seemed to be just enough food - plenty of it, but relatively little left over - and more than enough to drink. Seating wasn't a problem - in fact, we rented a dozen folding chairs and almost none of them got used; most people seemed to prefer milling about standing rather than camping out for too long in one place. One thing I'm so glad we did was rent a propane patio heater; it gave off an impressive amount of heat in a large enough radius for a group of people to sit around it comfortably, and it really helped us keep the crowd spread out across the deck while still helping them stay warm.
Both the CEO and the Chairman of the Board of Bill's company, $4R, stopped by, which was a little weird considering that Bill just gave his one-week notice last Thursday; he got a job doing full-time contracting for UCSD, which we're hoping will pan out into a permanent position... Although, as it turns out, $4R counteroffered by asking Bill to consider it an "unpaid leave of absence" until June when they plan to kickoff Phase 2 of the project Bill was working on. Technically the UCSD job is a project-specific "temp" position, and while our preference would be to see him transition into a permanent job there, it seems useful to keep both doors open and see how it goes. There's always a chance that the permanent position at UCSD won't get approved, in which case Bill still has the option to go back to $4R (assuming they're still around by then - they announced a merger deal with Infosys on the same day Bill gave notice, but no one's quite sure what that will mean for $4R as an entity in the long term). So it's a good deal, and sort of makes for a less painful parting for all concerned.
Anyway, it was nice that the two execs came by to wish Todd and Wy well, but things did loosen up a bit after they left. In fact, by the end of the night, there were very elevated levels of looseness, as documented in the pics I took, posted here: http://www.27.org/images/1017615083 Monkey imitations, Cirque du Soleil-style balancing acts, phallic vodka bottle displays, and general tomfoolery.... What can I say except, "Oh my!"
So I think most everyone had a lot of fun, and it was a good opportunity for T &W to say their goodbyes to lots of people at one time, so I'm really happy and glad at how it turned out. I definitely benefited from the experience of helping out at the events my mother-in-law's always hosting at her house - that household is a well-oiled party machine - and I learned a lot about what and how to serve, and how to make sure there was good balance and good location of the key elements - seating, food, drinks, etc. I had fun playing host and seeing people having a good time in a setting we provided. I'm finally starting to get why people do this entertaining thing! =)
So, for your next entertaining event, consider Casa Del Tessenwee - home of the Technicolor Baby Aspirin Rum Punch, scenic tree-canopied patio setting, and a helpful and enthusiastic (albeit potentially tipsy) staff...