Living 'softly.
a look into Zach Robinson
"As I grow stagnant, I shall be a slave...", Goethe, Faust

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Wow. I haven't had a real home page since over a year ago. Until now, it's always been either an index to other stuff, or some quick joke. But that mostly defeats the purpose of having a home page to me. So without further ado, I'll make another go at it.

Hi. I'm Zach. I'm 23. I've decided against images on my main page in deference to our bandwidth-challenged friends, but you can see a semi-old picture of me here if you're that type. And if you're the type who doesn't like personal images on home pages, then you'll definitely like what my friend did. Sigh...

Right now I'm busy as always with work. I've been taking more time for myself lately - working out, playing basketball, reading, dancing, playing trombone, and helping at special events for the Chicken Soup Brigade. I even am planning on an art class this summer. I figure I have years before I'm going to want to be serious about a relationship, so between then and now I'm going to become the best person I can.

I was formerly involved with the UW undergraduate drama production Theatre Dangerously, as I like to act. Before that, I went to Western Washington University. I did a bunch of work for the student government, and cobbled together a number of projects - one of my favorites of which is the List Of WWU Fight Songs. Ah! What happened to the good old days of Krazy Kampus Fun? Anybody who wants to get maudlin about the Pail and Shovel party or the old WWU bonfires should give me a ring. I am a WWU/WWSC/BNS history buff, so feel free to talk my ear off. <g>

This is my best friend and roommate, Kate. She was the weekly producer/talent coordinator for the ever cool but now defunct Savage Love Live radio show on 90.3 KCMU in Seattle. Dan Savage is the only guy I flip open a paper to read ( he writes the Savage Love sex advice column you may have read in your local paper ). He's brash, funny, opinionated, outspoken as all hell, and generally a swell guy. Mind you, I don't always agree with him, but I damned well appreciate the alternative to Dr. Laura.

I finally got a new car about two weeks ago. I had been driving an old Mazda 626 my parents give me for the past 3-4 years, and it had followed the course of automotive devolution to the point where it consisted entirely of Bondo and sheepskin. It wasn't so bad - it had "character", but when I finally got set up with a girl I'd had a torch for several years, the damned thing broke down in a cloud of smoke. Not how to impress a woman. So I gave in to fate, made the plunge, and picked myself up a '95 Pathfinder. Zoooooooom!
Addendum: I realized that sounded like I bought a car to impress someone. That's not the case. I bought a car so that car troubles wouldn't be an issue any longer. I want to be able to take my transportation for granted, and that wasn't possible with my Mazda. If I wanted to impress a woman with my car, I'd buy a Kharman Ghia or a Lexus or something like that. I bought a '95 Pathfinder because it is pretty much my favorite car ever made. Chadd's Lexus is sooo comfortable and soft, but I like the feeling of safety I have with my Pathfinder - plus it is great for going skiing or biking with.

I tend to distance myself from the major parties - they're both fucking nuts. A good study of the madness is The Work of Nations by Robert Reich ( who is a great political theorist: I highly recommend anything he writes, as well as anything by Noam Chomsky ). Don't cut my taxes anymore - I'm making enough to need to give some back. Cut the f*cking "defense" spending, stop propping up totalitarian regimes, and let's get to work on infrastructure and education for all citizens. I've been working at a real job for just over a year, and I'm already making more than my father, who has been a teacher for almost twenty-five years. That is sick, wrong, twisted, and disgusting. Maybe the rich cats can pay the "parties" off better, but if the government keeps letting the rich withdraw from contributing meaningfully to society's betterment, we're going to see society continue to devolve, slowly and painfully.

Hmm. A lot of work on a great product, and I'm tired. It seems we hit periods of intense work followed by periods of more intense work. <g> But when you really believe in something, you try to make it work, and do whatever is necessary.

and only as he dreamt of the yellow hair
did moonlight sift into his mouth

Ha! And you thought I would never update this again! Double ha! Go read some Tennyson, man!

I stood prepared for the finest dance: then you murdered my ecstasy with your tones!
I know how to speak the parable of the highest things only in dance - and now my greatest parable has remained in my limbs unspoken!
My highest hope has remained unspoken and unachieved! And all the visions and consolations of my youth are dead!
How did I endure it? How did I recover from such wounds, how did I overcome them? How did my soul arise again from these graves?
Yes, something invulnerable, unburiable is within me, something that rends rocks: it is called my Will. Silently it steps and unchanging through the years.

And only when there are graves are there resurrections.
-Nietzche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Yesterday was Steve Martin day, I gather. I've always liked Steve Martin. He has a fairly unique ability to synthesize intelligence, romance, and comedy into one character. I think most actors can do combine two of those qualities, but very few actors make me believe they have all three qualities. Matt Damon isn't as funny, Johnny Depp is either intelligent or comedic but not really both in one role that I can think of, Dan Akroyd isn't romantic ... Steve Martin just puts it all together in a way that I don't see portrayed by other actors. L.A. Story is for this reason probably my favorite movie of all time and space. It's deeply romantic, deeply funny, and very intelligent. I get a little more from it, a little more appreciative of it, each time I watch it. One of the great things is that although the story changed from the screenplay that you can now pick up from your favorite book store ( bound with Roxanne for a double treat! ), they are both unique and complementary at the same time. One of my favorite scenes they omitted from the movie was when the signpost asks Harris to help him with his lovelife. It's a crackup. Anyways, if you haven't seen this movie, see it sometime. You might not like it, but you won't regret seeing it. It might be a bit sweet for your tastebuds, but it's probably Steve Martin's finest movie, in my mind. I always took it as Steve's love letter to his then-wife, Victoria Tennant. It seemed to me to be an idealizable love, one that I would like to have. I know if I can watch L.A. Story's deep romanticism with a woman and still feel like she's the right choice for me, then I've know I've made the right choice in dating that woman. On the other hand... if I watch it with a woman I'm not really interested in ( perhaps just a subconscious disinterest ), I can tell because I start dreaming of other women afterwards.

Which brings us back to why yesterday was Steve Martin day. The Seattle Times ran a disheartening article on Steve Martin. It mentioned how he and Victoria Tennant had gotten divorced back in 1994, and how his relationship with Anne Heche (!) ended up not working out. I know there's a line between the writer and his work, between the actor and the performance, but it's difficult to think someone so amazingly gifted can not find lasting true happiness with another. What hope is there for the rest of us poor schmoes? Later in the day, I ended up finally getting to see The Spanish Prisoner which was playing at the Harvard Exit. Steve did a wonderful job in a serious role - his character was very believable and atypical from the usual roles I see him in. It was a wonderful movie as well - very compelling, and you ended up caring very much about the main character. Not a movie to purchase, but a great movie to watch and get drawn into. A lovely web of intrigue, this is one of the best written movies I've seen in the past year, along with L.A. Confidential.

Various updates to the Arcade pages. I should note that our soccer team did a terrible job in the second half of the season and we ended up finishing fourth overall. I wasn't much help as I caught bronchitis during this time. I was out there playing, but I could hardly breathe at all. The bronchitis kept me in terrible shape for about two months, but I'm better now. Our first game of the winter season is this Thursday - I'm hoping we can play up to our potential again. We lost some very winnable games. <frown>

So my soccer team, the Blue Crew, has won three straight games now. I'm happy. We're not playing together as a team very well - we have a tendency to kick it long to a forward and then lot one or two people do all the work - but we are winning. It's a nice change of pace.

I've put a webcam up. It's kind of novel so far. The instant feedback from friends is nice. The consistent theme that I'm a goofy yet expressive troll is not.

I've had a really amazing week. Engstrom got done testifying and I didn't get any urgent phone calls. That was truly heavenly - I'd been dreading this for months. There are just too many variables within the file association world - I know I can't guard against everything, I just try to minimize what goes wrong. Did I mention that not getting a phone call was heavenly? It's a huge weight lifted off my shoulders - I can get back to pure development again and hopefully people will be ethical enough to resolve things through communication rather than litigation. I am willing to sit down with anyone and straighten things out.

... Anyways, so my work load significantly lessened in the last week. Can't say much there, but OH MY GOD has a break been a long time in coming.

Speaking of which, now that I've got time I'm going to take a long overdue vacation. I'm not sure where I'm going. My favorite thought right now is that I would go volunteer in Compton, CA for a week ( helping out with the TeachAmerica program ), and then maybe spend a week in France with the inestimable Ken Goldstein. Spending time with Ken is always really enjoyable, he's one of my favorite people. So France with him would be great - we could see the French whores and go to bullfights and hang out at cafes. Or so go the Hemingway-esque plans as of this writing.
But the TeachAmerica volunteering is what would really excite me. Doing something I would love doing for a week, low pressure, no contact with or stress from work.... mmmmm. You must understand that my parents, whom I love deeply, are both teachers. I've always been incredibly impressed by the social benefits derived from teachers. And to dedicate your life to teaching... mmm... my dream womyn teaches and wears glasses.

I went to see _Camelot_ at the Fifth Avenue Theater last night with dear friend Tami. I don't recommend this production. It was depressing to note that they *barely* finished the bows before the clapping stopped. Regardless of any other feeling I might have taken away from the performance, that kind of negative statement from the audience really shook me. I can't imagine how bad the actors felt. It wasn't *that* bad - it's just not a good musical, comparatively. Go rent _Kiss Me, Kate!_ if you want a good musical.

I have to say that QFC consistently has the most beautiful roses of any store in Seattle. It's quite odd - you'd think a floral shop would be a better place to buy roses, but no. I made my own arrangement last night. My friend has a window with a ledge, so I managed to throw them up so they would land on the ledge. She got to see the beautiful morning sunshine and some completely random flowers. That makes me happy. Good things should happen to good people.

I went to the Seattle Fringe Theater Festival this past weekend, taking in The Cropped Folio by John Osebold. I highly recommend it if you have time - John is a very gifted and talented performer. Plus it may be your only chance to ever see the six minute condensed Romeo and Juliet or five minute condensed Hamlet or the five second condensed Twelfth Night. <grin>. It's very funny - don't miss it if you can help it!

Yet another baffling weekend. I never know what to expect from women. Think too much of someone, they show they are less than that. Think too little of someone, they show they are more than that.

This season I'm currently playing for the Juventas and the Blue Crew co-ed soccer teams (standings) and the Media Player men's soccer team (standings). The Media Player soccer team is entirely comprised of people from the Windows Media team at Microsoft - it's quite fun.

My younger brother, Dustin Robinson, got accepted by Pepperdine today. I'm quite excited for him. I hope things work out - he certainly deserves the most of life.

Whee. Another re-org. My life continues on in circles. First I left Redmond, where I grew up, for college in Bellingham, then I come back to Redmond to work at Microsoft. I worked in building 9, then building 25, then building 9, then building 25. I worked for NetShow, then DirectShow, then NetShow. I did live with my parents again for a little while after college, but thankfully I've broken out of that cycle, at least. Not that my parents aren't some of the greatest people alive, because they are. I just appreciate the freedom of living by myself.

Anyways, I'm off to a company party now. Ciao!

I read with great sadness today the news that Jamie Zawinski has retired from Netscape/AOL. Now, of course, I hold the belief that working for AOL is itself the source of great sadness, but I have always enjoyed being able to think there's someone so vocally passionate working for Netscape. I wish him the best of luck in whatever he does next.

This raises an interesting question, though - what are you supposed to do if you get bought out by AOL? My general theory on the industry back in college was that Microsoft was evil, AOL was stupid, lame, and evil, Netscape had potential (this was back in Mozilla/Navigator 1.1 days when the browser was still damn crappy), and Apple would conquer the world once it decided to. I was always excited by the latest vaporware, err, demos being shown by Apple, I was always excited about the latest greatest browser to come out (Now Supporting Bold™ Text!), always seeing cool potential - and LOATHING AOL. But it turns out that AOL, while still evil, is actually pretty smart. But the question I would have - and I think Jamie answered this to himself when he decided not to work for Netscape/AOL - is can AOL take the Mozilla project and reestablish Navigator as the Insanely Great Browser once again? (Nowadays, I love Internet Explorer and only use Navigator for testing because I think Internet Explorer is a better browser. If Navigator was the better browser again, I'd use it. I'm not a blind company loyalist - I just know a good browser when I see one.) It just seems like the wicked trippy-cool ideas last for about two years and then fade away slowly. Netscape helped make one of the most insanely wicked ideas of the past century a reality. The sociopolitical ramifications of the Internet could be insane over time - but now the bright star of that revolution has been acquired by the previous crown prince of the mediocre Internet.

Anyways, I wouldn't work for them. Then again, I work for the prince of darkness, so who am I to talk? <grin>

This was probably the most profoundly affecting passage I read during college:

My sense of balance come from lying asleep in the back seat of that car, my unsteady heartbeat comes from my father's night driving and my watching the chaos of passing headlights floating by on our car's ceiling and gleaming taillights reflected and distorted in the windows. In those nights, asleep in the back seat of my father's car, I heard conversations my mother and father had, saw places I visited later, and remembered it all when I started driving. And the places I've never been to before were dreams, were whole conversations my father and mother had.

I will eventually travel to all the places I've dreamed about. I will meet my friends and know them as if I'd known them all my life.

-Shawn Wong, Homebase

I come from a separated family. My (biological) father, Dana Harmon, left my mom when I was knee high to a grasshopper (~6 months old). My dad, David Robinson, married my mom when I was knee high to a hedgehog (~2 1/2 years old). Dana disappeared for a long time, so I got to know and love my dad (David) as much as any kid loves their poppa. Then when I was nicely settled into that life, Dana came back and I became enmeshed in parental tug of wars for about a decade. David will always be my dad, my father, the guy who taught me how to do all the guy things guys do. I love him. But I don't love Dana, and I will never for the life of me understand how we can have domestic partnerships but not domestic parentships. If you don't see your kid for five years, you should lose your parenting rights. Why force a battle you obviously don't care about? It's just going to perplex the kid for years to come.

This is why I find the above quote so affecting. For a long time in my life I was confused about who I was even though I didn't really know it. I just knew something was wrong... there was a happier, more stable time in my life that I could not remember clearly, but still affected every thought I had of myself. When I turned 18, becoming a legal adult, I was able to begin weaning Dana out of my life, and reestablished my true family - the Robinsons. It has taken a while, but I've legally changed my name back to the name I grew up with before the Harmon lawyers started screeching, ceased contact with the Harmons, and generally gone back to some of the best parents a man can have.

The reason I bring this all up is that I realized recently that I had come to peace a while ago with my family life. I just had not previously consciously noticed it.

I had the lousiest soccer game I've ever played Weds night (we still won 7-5) and so was really surly afterwards. It sucked because that night was the first night in a week that I was home before 2am, I think, and yet I just wanted to be alone and sulk. I ended up watching Ronin (with the ever lovable Jean Reno) and Rounders (with the ever loathable Matt Damon), eating pizza, and generally staying up late distracting myself. I take things very seriously, so it really torqued me off that I played that badly. I did get told I was 'tenacious' when I play. I never really realized that before, but it's true. That's just generally how I am about everything. I typically focus on one thing with all my heart... playing soccer gets me completely focused, and I completely forgot work. I need to back off some in soccer, though. I committed a flagrant foul (which was why I was pissed at myself) to get the red card. That's just NOT neccessary ever. Oh well - you can't take back the past, you can just learn from it.

Since Sunday night, I haven't talked to anyone besides Tami for more than 1/2 an hour. Rachel called, but I quickly realized that I was just rambling/ranting, so I did her the favor of telling her I just wasn't in the mindframe to talk. I think I might have just needed a breather... I'm not sure. Things have been really busy for the past couple months... I haven't had a lot of time to myself. And the "time to myself" I have had I've mostly used to track down player errata. It's 4am now... I finished my last task about 1/2 an hour ago and am now trying to catch up on e-mail before my friends disown me. <frown>

I miss elementary school carnivals. I'd really enjoy a good cake-walk or dart toss right now.

I think my tenacity is why I have enjoyed working for Microsoft so much. There's always so much work to be done and such a big challenge to be faced. I love that. I've been toying around with the idea of maybe going to work somewhere else - some sort of scrappy start-up that can use an over-dedicated guy like myself. But then I look at the tasks and goals that we have ahead of us, and I'm really excited to be part of this team: I love the excitement and challenge, I love the pace (I'd actually like it to be a bit faster), and I am thrilled that no matter who succeeds in the multimedia space, a revolution is occurring that I get to be part of. I've already seen other vendors' apps taking cues from my work. That's flattering... people are going to be getting better software from other companies because I've done my job.

Tedd looks like Bill Gates. That's funny. They were shooting some video for the House of Blues event next week and needed a Gates look-alike for one piece. The producer was nigh-swooning at the resemblance. I'm not sure if that's something to be proud of or not, but it'll be a nice source for razzing him for years to come. <grin>

Seems like everyone and their mother has a web page nowadays... <GRIN> Yep, that's my mom - first grade teacher at a local elementary school. It's her first web page ever.

I finally broke a bone in an acceptably macho fashion tonight at soccer (previous breaks came during falling from a jungle gym and from a freak ankle turn during a lay-in in basketball). I got pushed really hard after sprinting to stop a break-away shot late in the game, and took a lot of the brunt of the fall on my thumb. Ouch.

The only bad thing about it is that I want to finish up my component manager class tonight, and it's hurting like the dickens to type. I created a make-shift splint using a Sharpie and scotch tape, but I'm looking forward to getting my thumb put in a cast.

I finally got to see a hand surgeon today after getting two different referrals to the same doctor, and calling ~7 times to get an appointment set up. I have what is known as a Bennett's fracture of my left thumb. I'll be in a cast and graduate to a splint for six weeks, and will be heading to surgery tomorrow to get some pins inserted to help straighten out the fracture.

As much as I hate the use of <blink>, that last sentence kind of deserves it - "heading to surgery"? Aaaah! It's a minor proceedure, but I am terrified (phobicly so) of medical proceedures. Thank god they're giving me some Valium before they do anything... I don't know how I'd react if I was left to my own device. You must understand - I was almost passing out just from talking to the doctor about the potential need for surgery, and that was without any needles or pins-that-will-be-buried-in-my-flesh in sight. It's a "phobia", it's irrational, that's how it works. But faced with potential long-term problems if I refused the proceedure, I decided to swallow my fears and go through with it. I didn't get surgery on my broken foot, and it's still painful some days three years later.

... I just talked with the admissions nurse who said they were going to knock me out before the surgery. That's better than I was expecting - I had heard that I was going to be awake, but still... I'm a'quivering in my boots.

Check this out. Those are the pins they put into my left thumb, at the base of the wrist, during surgery. The pins will be in there for another 2-4 weeks. There's an amazing lack of pain. Sure, it stung like the lash when the doctor took pliers to them to straighten them out a little, but for the most part I hardly notice them. That's not to say I'm pain-free. Do you remember the sting of hydrogen peroxide on an open wound? Try that twice a day on an open wound that extends all the way down to the bone - that hurts.

So I've got a nice blue cast and can't play soccer for a couple more weeks. Sigh. On the plus side, for whatever reason I have been having some of the most vivid dreams I've had in years almost every night. If the dreams are due to the metal in my hands, I'm going to be disappointed when they remove the pins. Maybe I'll start putting silver dollars on my eyes when I sleep... <grin>

Yay! My cast comes off Monday! Whee! It has been so weird having only one useful opposable thumb. I've been using my pointer finger to be a pincer on my left hand, but nothing beats a thumb if you're going to try and manipulate objects. I never really noticed before...

My pins got taken out Monday. They were ~2 inches long... I got to keep them as souvenirs. My pins were exposed, so my doctor just poured some iodine on my hands and wiggled the pins out. The bitter yellow of the iodine and the red blood was an especially appetizing sight. Amazingly, the only time it actually hurt was at the moment that the pins completely left my body, and that only hurt briefly. And this was without any pain medication whatsoever. I felt fairly light-headed afterwards, but I attribute that to the sheer shock of having two useful hands again.

My left thumb has almost no muscle. I've been able to use my hand a little bit, but the nerves are still very high-strung after so long a period of dormancy. Any wrong movement and I let out a quick yelp of pain. Oh well. I'll get it back up to strength soon enough. I'm supposed to be coddling it for another two weeks in a hard splint and then two more weeks in a soft splint, but I'm being very aggressive about trying to use it normally again. I buttoned my shirt with my left hand today. I know that sounds like a paltry accomplishment, but it took a lot of effort and patience. I have to admit that being able to wash and scour my hand Monday night was probably the highlight of my week. I'm a naturally clean guy, and it felt soooooo good to get all that nasty dead skin off.

Anyways, I felt fairly proud of my normal squeamish self for going through with the surgery, so I bought myself some beautiful orange roses. For some reason they came in a bunch of fourteen, so I gave a lot of them away to my workmates to take home to their wives/girlfriends.

I was especially happy to be able to hug my best friend with both hands before she leaves for Mexico. I'm a touchy kind of guy, and it was aggravating to be able to only hug people with one hand due to the big clunky cast.

I highly recommend the essay Whose Millenium? by David Brin. It's reprinted in Otherness, a collection of his short stories. I have large issues with a judgemental disinvolved God, and the essay speaks to my heart.

I just recently got back from a 10 day trip to New Mexico. It was a lot of fun, but I find myself even further behind. I worked a twenty hour day last week to catch up. Still lots of e-mail to respond to, though.

I sent about 56 postcards while on my vacation. It was a lot of fun. I wrote about 8 the first day and realized it might be fun to number them. So each postcard bore the mark "x in a series!". I found some wooden postcards and some 'postcards in a bottle', so I had those be "Bonus Series" one and two. It made me chuckle at least.

In case you have an arcade machine, you can get "Perfect 360" optical joysticks here. I was told by the local arcade vendor that they didn't make optical joysticks for my cabinet (Capcom Street Fighter II Z-style cabinet), but that's not the case - you can indeed get one from Happ Controls.

Quote of the time-being:

You may have noticed we have never made love. I've noticed, and how. You may have been distracted and think we have, but I'm quite sure. Some things I don't miss. Perhaps you've been avoiding the issue for fear that I might reject you. I'd like to reassure you on this point. I must tell you that if you ever decide to make love with me I want you to know my door will always be open.

-Robert Benigni, Johnny Stecchino

Alas, the CD player I use at work has finally died. I've had it for almost ten years - waay back into high school days - so it's almost like the death of a friend that wasn't really a friend. That's not really very accurate, though. Maybe it's more like a toaster that breaks, except I can still have toast? No, that doesn't work either. I guess it just means I had to bring in my CD player from home. Thankfully my roommate is out of town so she can't complain.

The Art of Noise has a cool deal with Tower Records where if you buy The Seduction of Claude DeBussy at Tower On-Line, you can then buy a "custom" AoN album with twelve hard to find AoN tracks. I bought my 3rd copy of this album so I could get the "custom" album. <grin>. Thankfully, my friends have made it clear they are more than okay with accepting any extra Seduction albums I have, so I won't have to "suffer" through having too many copies.

I had a talk with a friend today about women and relationships. He commented that my relationship with one of my friends has Cybil Shepard/Bruce Willis "Moonlighting" chemistry. I thought that was very apt. Unfortunately, chemistry doesn't make a relationship. Regardless, every time I'm with her you can just see the attraction. We're both very conscious of it. But we dated and things didn't work out, so I try to maintain my distance. It's hard, though. I keep trying to introduce her to all my guy friends in the theory that maybe if she's taken we won't have to deal with it anymore. She's still single and we still manage to be friends, but I'd be ever so much happier if she met Mr. Right.

That's how I generally feel about my friends, though. There's so little time most of us will have on the planet... I want my friends to find the truest and most incredible love for them. I don't tend to be jealous in relationships because of that - people should be with who they were meant to be, and if that's not me then it's time to move on.

Added a list of the Capcom "Vs." Series action figures I've been collecting. I typically have my desk at work decorated with the figures from the game that I have in my arcade game. (I have a stand-up Street Fighter arcade cabinet at work that I let the team enjoy. Currently it's running Marvel Vs. Capcom.)

Factoid-for-the-time-being: "The longest hiccup attack on record spanned 68 years. The man with this long-running condition hiccuped an average 20-25 times every minute during this time period." --Seen on calendar

I'm an ordained minister now. I've also been declared a Saint and received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. That's Saint Reverend Doctor Zach to you. <grin> You can go get ordained yourself if you're interested.

I wrote a midsized review of a "Family Fun Center" that my brother and I went to. I felt it was too long for this main page, so I ended up putting it on a new page, "Reviews of King County Entertainment Centers" [Page taken down a couple years ago.].

After we went to the Family Fun Center (that's actually the name, near as I can tell), my brother Dustin and I went out for a midnight snack and had a really good conversation about life. It's nice to see that your brothers have their heads screwed on straight. We got asked to be in a picture with a girl having her 18th birthday at the Family Fun Center. Dustin and I talked about this afterwards... he often gets told he is attractive, and he finds it kind of grating. It was interesting to get that perspective. As a friend said, it's something you have little control or say in, so there's no point in taking pride in it. And there are so many other facets of our personalities that we do work hard to better, that are under our complete control. Get noticed or respected for those is a compliment. "You're attractive" is an observation, not a compliment.

9/24/99 My close friend Tami is in Europe. This is frustrating. She's always such a good friend to talk to. We dated for three years so know each other very well (she knows me almost better than I know myself) and can say anything to each other. I'm very curious about dating (I'm a serial monogamist, she tends to date more) and love hearing the latest updates in her relationships. Unfortunately, she hasn't met the right person yet, but it certainly is fun to hear the woman's perspective in the meantime. But she's gone, and that's not right. She fills an important place in my life because we're so mentally close yet physically far away. This allows her to bring a more abstracted view to the situation, which I cherish. Plus, since we're exes, we can be brutally honest with each other. And that's something I value more than almost anything else in a relationship. I highly value other and alternate views of a situation. Unfortunately, it's very easy in friendships to not speak up about things you find annoying until immediately after a major problem, and then your views tend to the extremes. So you can easily go from hearing nothing of your flaws to hearing some rabid venomous viewpoint which it can be hard to take seriously.

I think the the ability to be honest with each other in a relationship is critical, and if after time goes on I'm not hearing complaints or issues from my partner, I'm probably going to start questioning the relationship. I certainly do love The Princess Bride and fairy-tale love, but if you've read The Princess Bride then you probably recall that at least Westley had to work/change to become the right partner for Buttercup. I just feel that if I'm not hearing what's amiss in the relationship - and I certainly make sure to ask - then it's quite likely my partner may not feel comfortable voicing their true feelings to me, and that completely compromises the relationship.

That happened to me two years ago. I was really into about Rachel, but couldn't figure out why after three months or so she didn't really seem to be in to me despite saying that she loved me. Then I found out that she had had a very heavy crush on one of her housemates all this time. That was extremely disappointing because I'd asked her if it was a problem (I can usually see attraction between people as long as I'm not involved), and she'd said no. I kept trying to make things work between us, but the trust in the relationship kept being destroyed. Trust in a relationship early on is a very fragile thing... if you can't honestly answer questions early on, don't answer them - tell your partner that you need time. It's the only fair thing you can do for both of you. And in many ways it was simply a case of her being too young to voice her feelings properly and honestly. I respect that. She's a great fun wonderful person that I was happy to have had as a friend, but it really hurt a lot to have been involved with her. I've since realized that I never want my partner to have to hide their attractions from me. If Joe has a fantastic touch that makes your toes tingle, let me know. I don't want to be blind-sided by these things, and more importantly your attractions are part of what defines you as a person.

One tragedy of the Rachel fall-out is that I found myself having to rethink my trust in relationships. This cost me what was at the time a good relationship with Alison. Alison is a very strong willed hyperkinetic programmer, and we hit it off fairly quickly. Unfortunately, I knew that my heart was still lost and confused over the whole Rachel fiasco, so I tried being as honest as I could be with Alison - saying that I'd like to date her but that it wasn't possible for me to be fully involved until I'd gotten my head screwed on straight. Things went fairly delightfully, but she started feeling more for me than I really could for her. There was potential there, so after she left I dated Rachel again briefly to finally settle things between us. (I had been clear with both Rachel and Alison that we were dating and not boyfriend/girlfriend.) It took me about a month to finally settle everything in my head and know that I'd done the right thing in my relationship with Rachel, and become able to walk away from the relationship with some good insights as to how to avoid that situation ever again (honesty honesty honesty). Alison got pissed and ran off back to her ex-boyfriend, who had been heavily courting her. Rachel was unhappy when I stopped dating her, and we've generally gone our own way since then.

This is why I like Tami. Tami is 26. Tami is mature. Mature is wonderful. For some sick reason life keeps putting attractive too-young woman in my romantic life. I can see potential in a lot of these relationships, but ... I think I've developed into a really fine guy (grandma thinks so! <grin>) with a lot to offer, and I keep dating people who are at least a couple of years behind where I am. It's not hard to mature and grow up, and the kind of people I want to date are usually self-aware enough to know what they need to do. However, it's frustrating to be dating someone who is at a different point in relationship skills development. I think my new mandate is that all new girlfriends have to be at least 24. That way there will be decent odds that we'll both be full partners in the relationship. Aren't women supposed to be more mature than men, anyways? Humph.

I reorganized the site. It was just getting too hard to get around. I personally find site maps the best navigation method, so I put a site map as the main page now and move this journal page here so that I could write a tiny bit more freely. I still need to make the page self-censoring unless you click an "adults-only" option, as I know at least my mom reads this page. <grin>

A very nice and attractive guy (James) I met through a friend has been flirting with me a fair amount. Not enough to overwhelm - he knows I've been told he's interested - but enough so that I know he's available. He's got mad style - I've got to learn from this guy. This is how you should treat someone you're interested in but don't know really well. We've exchanged some e-mail, talked at a couple of parties, and were supposed to go dancing together with a group (it didn't happen)... all really good casual activities. I think he got pouty/jealous when I was talking with another guy at a party we both were at, but he seems to have kept it to himself fairly well. All in all, he's doing all the right things. But I'm just not interested in anything serious right now. I've got lots of work, friends, and life to enjoy right now, and I don't have time for a relationship that I'm not heavily drawn to.

Last night Dan, Chadd, Ramiro, Kirt, Kelly (Dan's wife), Kelly's uncle, and myself all went out to the Fish cafe in Kirkland. I wanted a quick dinner so I could get back to work, but it ended up taking about four hours, which is now my pesonal record for longest meal ever. The total bill for the seven of us was over $500. We usually fight each other to be the one to pay the bill (we tend to rotate who pays), but Chadd snapped this one up before the rest of us even saw anything. $500 for dinner, though... wow. As a non-drinker, I would never expect to pay that much unless the food was outstanding, and while the food was good, the service was mediocre. I try to drink a lot of fluids, and I kept running out. By the end of the night I had drained every single water glass at the table... there was nothing left to drink. Humph.

I won $100 from Dan on a drinking bet. Kelly and Dan were having an argument about whether wine, cognac, or armagnac were heavier. Kelly got up and ordered a glass of wine and cognac (they didn't have armagnac). They then poured the wine and cognac into a glass, and mixed in a little water to encourage separation. I believe the wine was heavier, but I don't really recall. What I do recall is that Dan took a sip and made a horrid horrid face. So he offered me $100 to drink the whole glass. But I never like the taste of alcohol anyways, so I just chugged it down. Frankly, it wasn't that bad. I pocketed the $100. I figure I'll put it towards my brother's college fund.

Last night was the first time I've ever been tipsy. I had had a couple shots of vodka before the bet's drink, but it was the bet's drink that pushed me to tipsiness. I extremely rarely drink - I've had maybe 7 glasses of alcohol in my life. It was quite odd to be tipsy. The first thing I noticed is that being tipsy is much like watching a streamed video with dropped packets: there's frames that just don't show up, so movement is jerkier than normal. This was okay at the restaurant. Then we went to Dan's boat. I don't know if you've noticed, but the shadows of people walking move faster than thats person's actual speed. I was looking down to make sure I had complete balance. The extra-jerky shadows were really hard to process. I'm fiercely rational - being tipsy was not something I want to do. I was fighting my body for complete mental clarity, and I didn't enjoy it. It wasn't a big problem - only my senses seemed to be impaired - but I want to be in complete control of myself at all times. Having a whacked-out middle ear is not my idea of a fun time.

So the question of course is why was I drinking - me who never ever drinks? My friends were all astounded. And the answer is that I'm an incurable romantic in a world designed to crush romantic's souls. I can't believe how poorly designed today's romantic rituals are. I meet so many incredible people who deserve such happiness and contentment in their lives, yet almost all are single. I don't understand. Finding real love, a real connection with your romantic partner, seems to be nigh-impossible nowadays and it's just PISSING ME OFF. I know who and what I am - I've made it my personal goal to follow Socrate's dictum "Know Thyself" - and I think I bring a lot of positives to a relationship, yet time and time again something goes wrong. And sometimes it's certainly me fucking up, not treating my partner fairly, not giving enough, not having my priorities straight, and sometimes it's them - typically not being mature enough, not being an equal partner in the relationship.

I once thought that as I grew older and the women I was dating grew older that the problems would go away. Now I'm beginning to see that that's likely not the case: maybe older women *do* appreciate a Nice Guy. But my male friends are all nice great guys, they've had years longer to find the right person, and they're just not getting anywhere. It's depressing. Don't get me wrong: I like being single, I like doing whatever the heck I want when I want to, but in the end I think having someone to share life and my bed with is something I want. If I saw the hope, the potential for that kind of connection to happen in my life or other's lives now or ten years from now this wouldn't be so damn disturbing. But that's not what I'm seeing and I wanted to drown my romanticism in a pint of ale and now I can forever be a bitter ex-romantic.

That's bullshit of course. I'm going to be a romantic until the day I die. But I figured one good venting session, being a crabby cad for a night, would get enough off my chest so I could continue being a diehard romantic. Sometimes you've just got to have an outlet, and I figured have a venting session with da' boys was as good an outlet as any.

Went to the They Might Be Giants concert last night at the ShowBox with Ken and Kate. Mary, Ken's girlfriend, was going to go too, but her grandmother wasn't feeling well. Mary flew out to Shreveport to make sure things were okay. (Mary and Ken are a good couple: both of them just are very cool people. Someday I'm going to have write up how Ken and I met, as it's very indicative of his own unique great sense of style. He's got kind of laid-back Conan O'Bryan attitude that I really appreciate.)

The most interesting part of the evening was dinner. We went to the Alibi Room at about 8:30 (concert started at 10pm). None of us had been before, so we weren't aware of the Minimum Swank Requirement at the Alibi Room. It looked like some kind of alcohol ad in there: dark, lightly smoky, and everyone was wearing trendy clothing with trendy haircuts and they probably even had trendy names. None of us possess the Trendy gene (it's recessive), so we felt out of place, but we needed food. They told us it would be about a half-hour wait.

I ordered a Roy Rogers from the bartender. Bartenders tend to get really flummoxed when I do this. The bartender made me a Rob Roy. Oh well. I gave it to Ken. Then I said in my extra-loud but friendly voice, "and can I get Roy Rogers for myself as well?" (thereby absolving the bartender of the previous mistake). Surprisingly, that didn't help: she conferred with another bartender and then poured me a Shirley Temple. I gave up and drank that.

We sat down and nursed our drinks for about an hour. A two-person table had been sitting open for a while, so we asked if we could cram in there. The headwaiter said that we couldn't due to (and I'm not making this up) State Department regulations. I got a private laugh out of this (State Department is the foreign affairs office, Department of Health is probably what the headwaiter meant). We continued to wait.

About ten minutes later a 3 person party crammed in at that two-person table. Ken and Kate were most unhappy. A while later, Ken harangued the headwaiter about when we might actually get to sit down (we had been waiting about an hour and a half at this point) and she said we'd get the next available table, but at this point Ken and Kate had had enough, so we left to go someplace else. I was willing to wait... I find culture and people watching fun, and it was quite interesting to see the interactions at the bar : there were a couple people who would shine on when someone came to talk to them, and then immediately return to a brooding look as soon as they were left alone again. 'twas odd.

So we left for the Patti Summers cafe. They had $1.95 appetizers, so we were excited. We were starving by this point, so lots and lots of appetizers sounded like a very good quick thing. The overworked put-upon waitress limped over to us and took our order. She said they weren't serving appetizers because the chef had gone home, but we could still have pizza. That sounded good to us, although we were confused - for good cause, as it turned out - about who would be cooking.

We waited again. For maybe half an hour. Then the waitress came out, told us that Patti was going to sing now, but she would cook our pizza during her set break. <grin>. So we left there. By this time it's already after 10pm, so we know we're missing the opening band.

We ended up running to the Pike Place Grill where we not only got food but were served by a very nice Australian lad. The nachos I ordered were pretty badly burnt, but we were in too much of a hurry to really care. Ken and Kate said their sandwiches (French Dip and Reuben, respectively) were among the best they've ever had. That might have been influenced by extreme hunger, though.

We finally made it to the concert about 10 minutes before TMBG started playing. I ended up giving Mary's ticket away to some woman waiting outside the Showbox, who got really happy and said I'd made her friend's birthday. That was a nice feeling.

The Showbox has destroyed the walls between the main stage and the second stage, so it's all one big giant area now. It feels like a place for concerts now (as opposed to the school gym feel it used to have), and doesn't seem nearly as cramped as it used to. I ran into a friend from the IE for UNIX team (now working at XpertSite), my old high-school theater buddy Carissa Brockway, and a college theater buddy, Jeff Schell (of The Habit fame). Some loud semi-tipsy woman flirted with me, but a: she was doing (in Ken's words) "360 degree broadcast flirting" and b: I'm a fan of powerful reserved personalities. People out of control turn me off.

The concert was a little disappointing. They seemed to get extra-loud and indechiperable every time they played new songs. The older songs sounded great, and the latest "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" version was delightful. But it was TMBG, and it was generally great. There wasn't a conga line at this concert, though. I think this is the first TMBG concert I've been to where there wasn't a conga line.

Went to the Esoterics concert last night. It was Jen's birthday, so I baked some cupcakes and brought those along. It's interesting how few of my friends can picture me cooking. Everyone had to double check and make sure I didn't make them from scratch (I didn't). I very much don't know what to make of that. I did indeed use a Betty Crocker cupcake mix, but that's only because I didn't have a recipe. My mom used to have a wonderful dessert cookbook that I would use. I'm curious as to why people are shocked at the idea of me cooking. It's a weird reaction to receive.

About twelve of us went to Minnie's after the concert. Four of the group had had birthdays within the past several weeks (Erin, Jessica, Kate, and Jen). I even ran into Jon who is roommate with Rob - and Rob's birthday was Sunday. So I was very glad to have the cupcakes to share with everyone. They seemed to like them.

I paid for dinner. Normally that's not something I would note, but it was actually an issue. I had isolated the waiter early on and told him to give me the bill directly, and just ignore what everyone else said about getting their own tab. Half the group makes peanuts and the other half was having a birthday that night, so I figured no one should need to worry about money at the post-concert birthday celebration. But after the bill came and I paid, a couple people reached for their wallets regardless. I said loudly that any money directed my way would be redirected to the first homeless person I saw. Jen paid me anyways: she made dance for her (hey: it was her birthday <grin>), and Jessica paid me. After that, we all left the restaurant. Jessica, Jen, myself, and someone I don't recall the name of walked out together. We did indeed run into some homeless youths. I had Jen give them some of the left-over cupcakes. Then I remembered my statement inside the restaurant, so I gave the kids the $34 I had collected from Jen and Jessica. Jen understood, but Jessica was quite upset. It was really awkward. I don't know if she knows what it means to be homeless or really truly hungry. She said I should have given the money to an agency such as the Chicken Soup Brigade, Habitat for Humanity, or such, instead of directly to them. I disagreed then and I disagree now. The presumption implicit in the absolute need to give money to agencies rather than directly to the poor is that the poor would not spend it wisely. But the choice, the challenge, the reaffirmation of possibilities - that's what the money can mean. Maybe $34 is beer or drugs. Or maybe it's a cheap bed for a night. It's all up to them, and having a choice again is one of the most intoxicating feelings in the world. Or so I think. I've been down to that last nickel and had no roof over my head, and maybe you have too. Maybe your opinion differs, but we both can be right. You give your money in your way, and I'll give mine in my way.

Regardless, it was uncomfortable with Jessica. I'd spent most of the night talking to her and Erin, and I'd felt really good about it. We don't talk very often, but I have a lot of appreciation and respect for her, so I was upset that we finished the night on so weird of a note. I want to talk to her about this and straighen things out a little... but the more I think about it the more I think that if there's something to be said, she needs to say it. Am I wrong? She didn't voice her dissatisfaction. I pursued it anyways because I cared. I think though this just fosters poor communication channels in the future. If she's going to be upset, she'll bring her concerns to me. Or so I hope.

Sigh. I'm getting pressure at work to document everything I've made. I've basically been ignored for three years now, so no one really understands exactly what my world has evolved into. They just know I produce stuff that works. However, the black box approach to your own development team isn't viable long term: at some point someone needs to be able to step in and understand what's occuring. So right in the middle of my biggest schedule crunch yet, I've got all sorts of new documentation requirements. It's really quite frustrating.

To top it all off, I don't just have a tight schedule, the work itself was spec'd by Rube Goldberg. Some of the code is the kind of code where you sit there staring for a long time, trying to remember what evil demons possessed you to write such gnarly code. And then you weep as you realize that that really is the clearest the code can be: it's the problem itself that's evolved over the course of time into a Gordian knot.

I've discovered a new corner of hell. Some fool left The Matrix playing in a loop in the development lab at waaaaay too high of a volume. So for the past possibly thousand hours (the hurtful clock insists its only been twelve hours or so), I've heard the very muffled sounds of The Matrix. Most of its been okay, but that DAMN TELEPHONE! You just haven't suffered until you've heard the muffled sound of the telephone ringing from Matrix over and over again. It's the Chinese Water torture. It doesn't occur often enough for it to be worth my while to get up, lose my train of thought, and shut down whatever is playing The Matrix. It just rings often enough to be the most annoying thing in the universe.

Oh well. I've gotten to a point in my work tonight where any further progress will require new large reams of code, so I'm going to head home now and get some sleep. Along the way, I'll think a make a wee little detour. And if somebody asks you, remember, you have NO IDEA how the Matrix DVD ended up shattered like that.

I sent Rachel, an ex-girlfriend of mine, an e-mail a bit ago. I'm heading to the East Coast next weekend, and I wanted to bring my ultra-cool Shel Silverstein book, Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book with me. She had it. I also had a gift for her I'd picked up a long time ago - a Feathers McGraw stuffed animal (Feathers is the criminal penguin from the Wallace and Gromit videos). So we agreed we'd drop off each others' things at some point.

But the conversation continued a little, and frankly got darn interesting. She said that she would have trouble being friends with me until she was able to voice the concerns she had about who I was. I had just the day before run across a scathing write up of me on an ex's journal page (written shortly after the ex and I had broken up), so I figured the timing wasn't coincidental. Someone up there wanted me to pay attention to my shortcomings and get better. I'm always very interested in learning and growing from my mistakes, so I suggested we have dinner together (she didn't want to dish over e-mail).

The dinner was interesting. It took about four hours all told. We went to Rovers, as I wanted to try something new. Rovers is a good restaurant, but wasn't as fun as I had been hoping. When Chadd told me it was a great restaurant, it was in response to my comments about various really fun really great Portland area restaurants. I still don't know of any really great really *fun* seattle restaurants. Rovers is certainly good, though. We both had the vegetarian tasting menu. The food was excellent but not outstanding. It was a bad environment for the meeting, though: it was too nigh-romantic. Not really romantic - it had too much of a displaced French restaurant feel to it, but just couple-ish enough that I was a little on edge. I'd definitely pick someplace different to meet an ex for dinner.

Interaction with Rachel was weird. She has said she wanted to meet with me so she could explain her misgivings about me before we could be friends again, so I was expecting a tongue-lashing. Instead, it was really disappointing: she said I had been Selfish because I Worked Too Much when we had been dating and because I had not driven her to the airport at various times. I was dumb-founded. Here we dated off and mostly on for two years, and this is what she brings to the table as my big issues? So in twenty seconds we had covered the entire list of Bad Things About Zach. I know I work too much - balance & the proper set of priorities can be hard to achieve. Ask anybody who loves their work. And the reason I didn't drive her to the airport was because I needed to stick up for myself a little bit. Rachel took me for granted for most of the relationship, and I don't need to encourage that. It's extremely hard for me, but as time goes on in a relationship and the partnership remains uneven I *have* to ask the question of myself: what's in it for me? A relationship is about symbiosis, not parasitism, and unfortunately I let her be a parasite for too long as I waited for her to grow up to be an equal partner. But I did not drive her to the airport. <grin>

Anyways: so that was the big speech, the big reason for the dinner.

This is why Rachel and I could never work out: we're just on completely different worlds. I'm grounded and she's off in space somewhere.

She was an inequal partner in almost every regard, and she has the *NERVE* to tell me that I was Selfish. If she actually had had interesting concerns about my behavior in the relationship, I would have cared and paid attention and tried to learn. But I can't think of any less intelligent, less thought out, less asinine criticism than that I was being selfish in the relationship with *her*. God. Yeech.

Not to say I haven't been selfish - I certainly have. But Rachel was one of the few times in my life I'd really laid it on the line. I bent over backwards to woo and romance her, and it didn't do a damn bit of good. Yeah, sometimes that connection, the relationship, is automatic, but sometimes you have to work for it. And with how hard I wanted it, how hard I was willing for it, to hear I was selfish... gah. Grow up.

I'm glad it's over. I really cared about her and wanted things to work, but at a certain point you realize that you can't change someone or force them to grow up no matter how badly you want them to.

So... I don't know. I think meeting was good closure, but that's about it.

They've replaced The Matrix in the dev lab with Toy Story. I'm much much happier now.

Could I be happier? Could I be more in love with life? Don't think so.

What a *great* day. I finally got around to the Microsoft Giving Campaign e-mail. Usually I donate time or money on an individual basis, rather than through Microsoft. But I've been so busy lately I haven't done much charitably in the past while. So I went to the Giving Campaign website and they had the *coolest* website possible. They had a web form where you put in what % of your salary or what dollar amount you wanted to give for the year (either in one lump sum or taken out of each paycheck). The cool part was that you could search this huge database of non-profit agencies to figure out who you wanted to donate to. I found some agencies I didn't even know I wanted to donate to. <grin> I figured I'd donate to the usual: Habitat for Humanity, ACLU, and Chicken Soup Brigade. They're nearby, I like them, and they send me pamphlets so it's easy to send them money. But the search site was soooo cool! It was easy to donate to the big national agencies (Greenpeace, NOW, etc.), and the reallllly tiny ones (Redmond High School Band Boosters, Seattle Fringe Festival, etc.). I even found the Wild Burro Rescue and Preservation Project. I have no idea what it is, but I was feeling really happy with the search engine, so they get a donation too. <grin>

Anyways, I feel good. I got to help agencies that are doing things that are worthwhile, and it was real real easy. I'm going to have to suggest this to non-profits in the future. If they sent me a solicited e-mail saying "click here to connect to our secure web server and give us money", I'd do it in a heartbeat. But mail solicitations are too easy to ignore even when you like the agency. You put it aside to remember to write your check, next thing you know you can't find the envelope or maybe you're out of stamps. One-click donation is the coolest use of technology I have run into this year. Now if they'd only pick me up from work for the times when I volunteer, things would be perfect.

Happy Halloween! I dressed up as a Normal Schmoe today. I'm still a little worn out from my trip to New York, so I've been basking in laziness since I got back on Wednesday night. We live in an apartment complex, which is a sad sad place to live on Halloween. My roommate Kate always gets her hopes up for trick-or-treaters, but we only get a couple every year. I think next time I should take out an advertisement in the paper saying "HEY KIDS! FREE CANDY!". That way we'd get trick-or-treaters, Kate would be happy, and I wouldn't gain ten pounds eating all the left-over candy.

I've come to the point at work where I realize I have so much work to do I'm starting to think of new projects I can add just because if I am failing to make headway on a small project, I'll feel much better to think I'm not making progress on building a much bigger project. Kapiche? You feel bad without recompense if you can't build a shack in a timely fashion, but if you can't build the Taj Mahal in a timely fashion at least you can say, "Hey man, I'm building the Taj Mahal here! Back off! That kind of thing takes time!".

I've got a lot more stuff to write, but that's what's pertinent now. I'm going to try and get more down shortly, but my vacation to New York really sucked up the free time I already didn't have.

An observation that won't mean to most people: I am indeed nice to someone I shouldn't be nice to. Sure, I'd be soo much happier if I never had to deal with that person again, but I do have to deal with them far too often. It might seem a waste of time to put up with it, but since all they need is someone to yak off to for maybe an hour every so often, why not do it? It makes my life easier. I don't think you should ever burn a bridge if you don't need to. I got harangued again today, and as I lapsed into drone listening mode (which I should be clear I only use with this person) I thought to myself, wow, it really doesn't cost me a damn thing to sit here and be yakked at and in return I don't get pissed on like other people who deal with this person do. I don't know why I'm singled out for such "favorable" treatment, but if 12 hours a year means I have a happier life than you who reject this person, I am so willing to do that. Yeah, that's shallow and I'm being an enabler, but certain people are scary that doing that just makes the most sense. If you can't make a person go away, you might as well try not to piss them off.

HEY! Guess what! This is all personal opinion! That being said...

Everybody is curious about what it's been like inside Microsoft after the issuance of the Findings of Fact. Frankly, it's been boring. The outcome of this trial won't be finalized for a long long time, so there's no need to get yer panties in a bunch now. You can see the issuance here, which I personally find fascinating. It'll be interesting to see what becomes of this, and to see what the recommended remedy based upon the current Findings might be.

I note with pride that the issues I worked on in the trial were not even mentioned in the Findings of Fact. Given the general feel of the document, silence really is golden here. <grin>

While it would be completely inappropriate for me to comment on the findings, I do like paragraph 172:

In particular, Microsoft exposed those using Navigator on Windows 98 to security and privacy risks that are specific to Internet Explorer and to ActiveX controls.
<grin>. I'll pay a silver dollar to someone who can explain to me how that would work and point me to a relevant exploit. Heck, I'd pay much money: getting ActiveX controls to work within Nav without having to write a Nav plug-in would be quite nice. If you've programmed Nav plug-ins, you know what I'm talking about. Don't get all defensive on me now: I've been using Navigator back since the real early NCSA Mosaic beta days, got my first real start programming on a web game focusing on using Nav as the client UI, and in general know much about and pay much attention to Nav. But think of some of the erratic things you have to deal with: file associations are *hard-coded* within the plug-in binaries, their table layout engine has always been *really* cranky - it used to crash all the time on large tables (previous to v3), now it just is extra finicky about table layout -, documentation has always been poor, etc. Anyways, I'll step back off the soapbox now. Suffice it to say that I've always loved what Netscape could be, but have been disappointed in the reality. I'm looking forward to Nav v5 myself, but number one on my wish list for the entire computer industry is for a huge locust swarm of documentation writers to descend upon the Netscape campus and document the hack out it all. And if one programmer wants to spend the two hours it would take to fix the plug-in association isues, I would be eternally grateful. I've alwayss felt bad for Apple: they ship a Navigator plug-in for QuickTime, and since the file associations are hard-coded, the number one complaint I see about Apple is "How do I get rid of QuickTime? It's taken over all my extensions...". That's just sad. The only "solution" many users can figure out is to just uninstall QuickTime, which is a real loss for the end user. There was a company a long time ago that had a program to modify plug-in associations - I should try to track them down and see what's happening with that code. Publicly releasing that code - I know I'd use it in the Windows Media Player file association code - would be *wonderful*.

Hrm. I feel a need to get on a technical rant. I'll make it blue so that you can easily skip it if you want to... Can we please fix the Nav plug-in selection method? Consider this script:

<embed src="http://server/myfile.file"> <script language="JavaScript">; </script> Offhand, that looks like it should work, and it might work within your test environment, but the problem is that Nav is selecting the plug-in based solely on MIME type, rather than exposed interface. So you might try scripting to the FilePlayer interface you know and love, but another plug-in might actually be instantiated and boom! your precious page breaks. My solution to this problem is the notion of branded MIME types to indicate support for a certain interface. So for Windows Media Player, I had MIME type "video/x-ms-asf-plugin" generally represent the NetShow v2 interface, and "application/x-mplayer2" generally represents support for the Windows Media Player 5.2 interface. It's kind of quirky, but it nicely solves the issue at hand.

I have these really cool Matisse "Jazz" socks. I have a couple pairs, but they're starting to wear through at the toes. I went to the Museum Company to buy some more, but alas they were sold out. They didn't even have any interesting t-shirts. It was quite sad. Their Frank Lloyd Wright section - my favorite part of the store - did have a couple updates, though, which was exciting. They had some casts of his sprites from the Midway Gardens. I like the one they have pictured at that URL, but it doesn't speak to me. They had another one not available on their website, but it frankly looked like a naked woman about to bop someone with a sugar cube, and that while amusing isn't what I'm looking for in my home decor. I had all of the Wright stained glass on display (they're all at work next to the window). They have various Wright clocks, but I really don't have a use for a clock. It's odd to say it, but I use my phones to keep track of time. *But*, they did have one really cool new thing: Wright building blocks! You can buy a Prairie House or Guggenheim set. When I went to the Guggenheim when I visited New York I *almost* bought a miniature cast Guggenheim. I think the blocks are far cooler. I'm glad I waited. I think everyone needs Guggenheim building blocks.

I stopped by the Store of Knowledge as well. As I walked in, one of the salesmen stopped me, handed me a stuffed animal, and said "This is Kipper", then walked off. I *love* that. That's exactly the kind of erratic behavior I like to see. We get so trained to mumble something back to the "HI HOW ARE YOU!" clerks, we're almost on auto-pilot. Just handing someone a stuffed animal gets them awake and thinking, and that's how I like people. Anyways, I wandered around the store for a while, found the Glow In The Dark stars I so desperately needed for the ceiling at work... and realized that Kipper was really really soft. So I had to get him. If you stop by a Store of Knowledge, I highly recommend you pet their Kippers if they have any. He's one of the softest stuffed animals I've run across. Of course, now the issue is whether you like your Kippers smoked or not. Do I barbeque him just for the sake of the joke?

I also stopped by the framing store to get a Brian Andreas print framed. It was truly frightening in there. Some guy was busy being livid because they hadn't finished reframing his picture yet. I'm always amazed at stupid anger. What was the point of getting angry? You enjoy life less in most cases for no possible gain. You've pissed off the people you're trying to work with, so while you might force them to do what you want, they're not going to put any real love or affection into the project. Ah well. As Dennis Miller said, "You can't save everybody. Just try not to be too close to them when they finally go off." There was also some young college girls looking at the various torrid posters for sale. One of them was looking at a picture of a Brazilian couple having sex on a countertop and suggested that she should get it for her boyfriend as a hint. I decided that she was pretty cool. <grin>

I've really enjoyed the band Uncle Bonsai since a girlfriend introduce me to them back in college. (She also introduced me to TMBG... I should write her a thank you someday.) I've got all the albums, even the terribly silly 17 minute single Sponge Boy. Frankly, I have all the albums that Andrew Ratshin has been primarily involved with. He's the songwriter for Uncle Bosai, has his own band Electric Bonsai Band ("It's not electric, it's not a band"), and is involved with Mel Cooleys. He's a wonderfully gifted folk song writer... the lyrics are alternately humorous and touching. A couple of my favorites are Doug At The Gates Of Hell, Where's The Milk, and Taking The Kids To Disney World. I've probably listened to each CD dozens of times, but I noticed tonight for the first time a shocking edge to Johnny, It's Downhill From Here, a song about the failures of the kid voted Most Likely To Succeed, which has the line:
          Don't you see your trigger finger's / Waiting for the call
That's not entirely out of line for them - the song Parcel Post is a blackly comic response to an unwanted romantic interest - but I was kind of shocked to see the advocacy of Johnny's suicide. It's just not an edge I expect out of my folk music. Hmm. Maybe It's A Sign Of The Impending Millenial Apocalypse(TM).

Chris forgot to bring his soccer shorts to soccer last night. He only had corduroy pants, so I let him wear my soccer shorts and I just wore my boxers. It was kind of fun, actually. The night was very rainy and the field was really muddy, so I was soaked through in about ten minutes. I made it clear to everyone that there would be no pantsing. I had thought about wearing humorous boxers, but decided to go with plain ones. That was nice because no one really noticed that I was wearing boxers. One of my teammates commented that I looked buff while I was changing (I just was wearing boxers as I changed shirts). That was a really nice compliment. My legs and stomach are probably in the best shape they've ever been in, and I've been lifting some dumbbells to get my arms more in shape. It's nice to hear positive feedback.

Afterwards, Kate and I went to the Maj-Jong and Player King concert at the Raindancer. We invited other people, but I think everyone was feeling pretty grimy after an hour and a half of that mudbath. I was so soaked and dirty that I drove to the concert in Seattle (the game was in Renton) wearing just my boxers shorts, since my soccer clothes were too dirty to keep wearing and I was too wetly grimy to put on my regular clothers yet. I wiped my skin a little cleaner on the car ride back. After I got to Seattle, I parked and got out. I got an obligatory cat-whistle from some people on the other side of the street. <grin>. I thought about just taking off my grimy boxers and freeballing in my jeans, but as much as I liked the idea of being cleaner, I figured freeballing on the dance floor might be painful. So I just wiped myself as best as possible (I had a couple of clean rags that I use for my car), got dressed, and went inside.

I had never seen Mah-Jong before. I'd heard some pretty positive stuff about them, but the RainDancer is fairly teeny, so I wasn't expecting much. They were very *enjoyable*, but they seemed like the winners of a high school talent show. I think that's because they looked very young and had largely throw-away lyrics. They played well, did a bunch of covers (mostly of rap songs), did some nice synchronized dancing ala Kid 'n' Play, and were very funny. I think I wasn't enthused about them because they didn't have any good songs of their own. "Sugarilla" (one of theirs) was very funky... but a toddler could have written the lyrics. If this band had a songwriter, I think they'd be pretty good.

Player King on the other hand... *they* are very good. The lyrics are excellent, the music great... this is a band that you can see actually going places. They're putting out a new CD soon. Hopefully it'll be out by Christmas so I can give it to everyone As A Gift They'll Be Delighted To Have. Don't worry, I'll get everybody something else too. But how could you live without a Player King CD? That and a Splunge (local men's a capella group) CD. Hmm. I'll have to buy a couple dozen more Splunge CDs. I bought 10 a while ago, gave all of them away, and that barely scratched the surface of people who I thought would like it. Splunge broke up, which is sad. But I don't think there's quite the demand for men's a capella groups that there is for rock bands. I digress. The Player King set was great. John cut his long hair that he's had ever since I've known him, which was surprise. His fans from the theater group we were all involved with together showed up for Mah-Jong but left by his set. I was kind of shocked by that. I was really tired myself, but stayed for about half the set. It was fun dancing.

One thing I noticed was what repulsive toads drunk guys can be. This one drunk fool was broadcast flirting with any woman around, trying to dance really close to them. I'm not enthused about the meat market aspect of dancing, but I'm okay with it to a point. But humping people's legs when they don't want you to is nasty behavior for a dog, let alone a human. I'm always surprised by what women put up with. I find myself wanting to step forward and either dance interference or ask the guy to politely beg off. I think that while good-natured that would be perceived as paternalistic, so I don't. It's still quite annoying though. For some stupid reason I had thought that people had learned the simple lesson that no means no. Gah.

This seems to be a semi-frequently asked question, so I thought I'd include the answer to "Why do you have so many names?":
I was born Zachary Donald Harmon. My parents divorced when I was six months old. My mom married David Robinson when I was 2 and a half. He was and is the father figure in my life. He's the all-american dad (my parents are the all-american couple, actually) every kid could want. He's a great teacher - the occupation I respect most - , plays softball & tennis, likes sports, easy to talk to, comes to his kids' sporting event (heck- he even comes to my soccer games nowadays once in a while), extremely caring and understanding ... absolutely everything I would aspire to be as a husband and dad. My biological dad, Dana Harmon, just isn't that kind of guy. We both share the same intellectual keenness, but he's always been aloof. I've always felt like a responsibility to him, not a son. I grew up with the Robinsons. Everyone I knew, knew me as a Robinson. However, Dana got lawyers involved to force me to use the name Harmon. Since my last name was in a state of turmoil, I used "zachd" on bbs's - first name, middle initial. When I turned 18, it was finally up to me what I wanted to do with my name. Since "Donald" comes from Donald Harmon, my rich also-aloof grandfather, I wasn't terribly enamoured of "Donald" either. So I asked my friends to help me come up a new middle name, and let that contest run for a couple months. It ended up being very close between Endymion (peasant who fell in love with Diana in her lunar aspect, and Diana secretly loved in return), Phaedrus (the wolf, lusting after knowledge), and Demian (the learner from the Herman Hesse book). Since "D" was the only part of my name besides Zach that I was really semi-tied, and I'm particularly fond of the book Demian, I went with Demian. So... Zachary Demian Robinson.

Went and played Midtown Madness over at the Redmond West Campus with the gang. Over at RedWest they have a bunch of high-end computers hooked up pedals, force feedback steering wheels, and inclined driving chairs for a nigh-arcade experience playing Midtown Madness on the PC. It is incredibly realistic: I found myself driving my Pathfinder badly immediately after stopping playing. I checked with a couple other people afterwards and they said they had the same problem: *everybody* takes the first turn coming out of RedWest waaaay too fast afterwards because you got so acclimatized to the feel of driving your Midtown Madness car. I was thinking it would be a hoot to have someone play all night and then try to pass a driver's licensing test...

Went to The Little Mermaid on Ice at the Key Arena on Sunday. I suppose it's really for kids, but frankly I would be hard pressed to name anything as fun and amusing to do on a Sunday afternoon. I'm open to suggestions. I went with Gina. She has a boyfriend, but they're heading out to a week at DisneyWorld next Saturday, so he was afraid of getting Disney'd out if he went to the ice show as well. It was a blast. We stopped by the Seattle Center House beforehand to load up on sugar. I got this really scary monster candy thing. You pressed upon the handle and this big long candy tongue stuck out of the monster's mouth. They're really disgusting: kids must love them. Anyways, the show was great. They had bubbles, irridescent costumes, really bad vaudeville, and inexplicable plot jumps. It was wonderful. They also had these really cool starfish costumes that some of the skaters wore. They looked like ice-skating Carl Jr's mascots, if you know what that looks like. I generally laughed happily during most of the performance, but the ice-skating starfish were so coolly funny I was busting a gut.

One odd thing I noticed was that the skater playing Eric (the good prince in The Little Mermaid) had a large gap between his front teeth. I couldn't help but think he'd done it on stage. Falling on the ice and breaking your teeth in the middle of a children's performance would have to be just about the worst thing. Your target audience is about seven years old... you can't help but a: bleed and b: scream, both of which are going to frighten the poor tots for years to come. So not only do you have a big gap in your teeth from now on, you know you've permanently scarred little kids. I felt bad for the poor guy.

Brief pitch: If you're looking for anything comic-related on the net, start at NextPlanetOver. I often like picking up random toys or comics, and they have consistently had the best selection of any place I've tried ordering from. Most of the on-line toy stores (EToys, etc.) cater to the mass market with trillions of Padme figures, but NPO had the Preacher PVC set and the Sandman mini-statue that I wanted.

And the insanely cool "Namor The Cursed" t-shirt. I'm really not a big fan of comic book shirts - most shirts represent the escapism of the comic, rather than the virtues and values that make the comic interesting - but this shirt is just incredible. It has a half on fire Namor on front. Namor is the Marvel version of Aquaman, so the idea of a burning god of the seas is a pretty unique thought. But what makes the shirt really cool is it's simplicity: it has the word "CURSED" written on back, and that's about all.

Things have been so weird and wrong lately that I can't think of a better shirt to possibly wear right now. Life isn't bad, per se, it's just been... off. I've gotten caught up with most friends, done a lot of work, been working out. Generally it's been business as usual. But for some reason it seems that everyone wants to be really immature lately. When I make my mistakes I try to own up that quickly, learn, and move on. Why can't others do that?

What a fucked up weekend.

Deep breath in.... deep breath out.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightining they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by,crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray,

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas

"If I thought that that I was replying to someone who would ever go to the world, this flame would cease to flicker. But since no one ever returns from these depths alive, if what I've heard is true, I will answer you without fear of infamy."

-Guido da Montefeltro, Dante's Inferno

Some things that happen in life are right, they need to be, they MUST be, but that doesn't mean that this is how things SHOULD turn out.

The relationship between the girl I've been dating and myself ended yesterday.

"Two dissappointed believers
Two people playing the game
Negotiations and love songs
Are often mistaken for one and the same
What is the point of this story
The thought that life could be better
Is woven indelibly
Into our hearts
And our brains"

-Paul Simon, Train in the Distance

And it was the right thing, it really was, but it still hurts none the fucking less. It WAS mutual, but it was mutual recognition that if she didn't get off her ass and grow up, things were just not going to fucking work. And it makes it worse to know that she KNOWS that, sees the need to grow, sees how unhappy she is... and still just largely resists moving forward in her life.

Deep breath in... deep breath out.

The worst part is that it hurts me as her friend to see what she's doing. This really had to be done: the relationship part of the relationship wasn't there and it was driving me crazy wondering what I was doing wrong, and she felt guilty about not being a good partner and it wasn't doing either of us any good. I'm hoping that she can take this as a positive, to focus some energy on enjoying her life, on moving forward and embracing whatever her pleasures are, but I'm worried that she's going to continue to dwell in her personal hellfire.

Deep breath in... deep breath out.

It drives me crazy. I know, you can't save them all, you're usually wasting your time to try, but dammit, there's so few really cool people in this world and to see one stuck in an unhappy land drives me BONKERS. For example, she's had a hard time in her family for the past couple years, so doesn't like any family get-togethers, even my parents inviting her to dinner with us. When does that change? When is it time to move on, and accept the fact that not everything is bad, not everything is evil and a source of pain? She said yesterday at least a year, if not two. That KILLS me. Life is so beautiful and incredible but it is SHORT and you HAVE to walk away from your pain and embrace the positive while you have time. GOD. It just fucks with my mind to think that someone that smart could even think about putting off their happiness for a year or two. It's not even about me, it's about wasted life and I think that's the greatest crime there is.

Deep breath in... deep breath out.

Personally? I'm as pissed as I have been with all my relationship break-ups lately. What did she say yesterday? Uh, "I never really felt very romantic towards you"? What the fuck does that mean? Why not just come out and say "I used you for my own ends."? It makes me feel a little better that she says she hasn't ever really felt romantic towards anyone but... come on, this was supposed to by my girlfriend or girl I'm dating or whatever it is nowadays. See this is my problem: I'm a great fucking guy and in return I just get walked over and used when I try to give people the space to grow and learn. One women friend said that I was the kind of guy a girl would like to lose her virginity to. Various friends tell me I'd make a great boyfriend. My hairdresser tells my roommate that I'm going to be a great husband someday. WHAT THE HELL DOES ANY OF THIS BUY ME?

Deep breath in... deep breath out.

Kate said that when I was ready to meet somebody, I would. I think I've BEEN ready to meet someone for maybe a year now. I'd finally grown up, realized what it meant to be a partner, and was ready to really deeply engage in a relationship. And since then it's been nothing but glimpes of possibility, no real engagement. Maybe I want to it too much to be really ready for a relationship? I don't know. I think my head is in the right place now. Maybe that's it... maybe I'm trying too hard. Seeing possibility where none exists? I am NOT hard to please: life is so incredibly beautiful that if you just want to share it with me, I'm more than happy. I make so few demands from my partner: I want my partner to be intelligent, athletic, attractive, and with libido, but that's just a matter of who you are. From them, I just want a partner who makes me feel attractive and makes me soup when I'm sick. And I get... nothing. I need someone older like myself, who understands who they are, is beyond the whole collegiate/post-collegiate identity crisis, and has achieved at least a modicum of inner peace. I've made my peace now, and I keep meeting people who haven't... it's just sad.

Deep breath in... deep breath out.

Just another opportunity to walk away from something that could have been great.

I went to dinner and dessert with my ex last night. It was good but a little weird in that it seemed like a first date. The night had that kind of pleasant, laid-back getting-to-know-each-other feel you have early in a relationship. At the end of the night just before we hugged good night in my car for a second there I forget everything, just thought of being on a date with someone I liked, forgot about the fact that we dated previously, and wondered what it would be like to kiss her to what for me would have seemed like a first kiss.

But instead we hugged. She told me that she was glad I was taking this well, and I responded that it was really the only way things COULD be between us. She said "For now." and then went inside.

I thought about it for a while afterwards. We had talked about what could have been done to make things work. I think one thing we could have done would have been kissing more. I've always really enjoyed sensuality. I really like touching and being touched. So the idea of kissing her in the car... well, I wasn't going to, but it didn't seem like that bad of an idea.

I think a real part of the attraction was just seeing her a little more focused. She was tired for most of the date, but seemed to have her things together. Maybe being out of the relationship lets her worry less? I hope so. On one hand I felt a little disappointed because we'd talked about doing more together this week and I'm only going to be seeing her once more before she leaves, but on the other hand I'm happy that she's going out and doing things. When she's not around, when she's in the corrosive environment she lives in, I think she gets a wrongful impression of the way people feel about her, and it's got to be a good feeling to have people want to see you.

The break-up is an important stage of any relationship to me. It lets me know what kind of respect I should really have for someone. It's easy to flail out and be angry during a break-up, but once you start settling back down into who you are, you tend to be able to be a lot more honest about yourself and how you feel about the world. Or so I think. That's why I'd like to see her more now: I'd like to see her at ease with the world, see who she really is. But she's going to disappear soon and go back to her world of turmoil and I'm afraid I'm losing the opportunity to clearly see who is. Oh well. If we were meant to be friends, we will be.

Hmm. That sounds too passive, and that's not how I feel. I'm going to make an effort to be her friend. I see potential here. I just don't know what kind. All I really wanted in the first place was to be friends while we were away from each other and maybe lovers when together. The question is whether she can really be a friend to anyone right now at this point in her life. I think maybe when she's around, but perhaps when she's away it'll be better for both of us to be out of sight/out of mind until things calm down some. That might end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but I think that could be the only way things are going to work well between us. I don't know. We'll talk further, I guess.

We went to the B&O Espresso last night for dessert. Their menus contained the excerpt:

"Let us go then, you and I, like the evening spread out against the sky... Oh, do I dare; Oh do I dare..."

-T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

which was a really weird coincidence. I initiated my part of the break-up by quoting to her from Prufrock... the poem helped bolster my courage. The poem to me is deeply romantic but the character is flawed by his lack of courage. I felt there were issues that needed to be addressed, and I too often let things lie. I broached things because my only real chance to be happy in the relationship was to see if we could change a little bit. Alas.

I think in any relationship that's going to last I need to be made to feel special, to have the romantic aspects of the relationship, the wooing, be present in both directions. It's so easy to make me melt, yet for whatever reason the majority of my girlfriends haven't done those kinds of things. I still remember how touched I felt when Jessica (not *the* Jessica, this was a different one) read me one of her poems after we had made out for a while. If anybody really wanted to melt me, show me they really cared for me, I think I'd swoon completely to have a nice candle-lit home-made meal with someone (could be spaghetti or something else easy: only the thought would matter), a good talk, having her read to me literary passages that affect her, maybe receiving a massage or making out while listening to music that she likes.

Ah well. Life goes on.