Frank, Dean and Sammy

I’m listening to my Rat Pack Live at the Sands record, reveling in the silky sounds of Frank, Dean and Sammy. I listen to this record a lot because it’s just so cool. Recorded in 1963, the boys are at their best; singing, cutting up and just having a great time. (I also listen to my Sinatra at the Sands record from 1966 a lot.) But I sometimes get a bit sad when listening to it when I think about the fact that all three of them are dead. These guys were hip, cool music for a very long time. They had style, talent and tons of class. Contrast that with today’s music scene. There are very few “recording artists” today who could hold a candle to Frank, Dean or Sammy. I can’t think of any, actually. Most of what passes for music these days is just unredeemable crap (to wit). These guys had the mojo and they recorded a ton of music that will live on. Today’s bands could learn a lot from them.

Singing Microwave

In the kitchen at my office they bought us a new microwave a few months ago. We only had one at the time and there was always a line at lunch time to use it, so they got us a new one. Very nice. But this microwave, instead of just going “beep… beep… beep…” when your food is ready plays music. And not just one tune. No, you have your choice of tunes, such as “Auld Lang Syne” or selections from The Music Man… Is this really a feature that we need in our microwaves? And the tunes don’t really sound that good since a microwave is not a truly chromatic instrument. Thus some of these tunes just don’t sound right; just like some songs were never meant to be played on the bagpipe, even though people sure try. I’m not complaining about the microwave because it does cook well. I just don’t see the need for the serenade when your food is done. That feature was probably invented by the same guy who came up with “cool downloadable ringtones” for cell phones…

Newton’s Three Laws

A friend just came up with this and I thought it was really funny. Since he has no website, here it is:

Newton’s Three Laws of Corporations

  1. Any policy stays in place unless acted on by an outside force.
  2. The force required to change a policy is the product of the number of managers and accountants in the corporation and can be mathematically expressed as F=ma.
  3. Any action to change a policy will be met by an equal and opposite reaction to retain the policy.

The Manchurian Candidate

I can’t believe I’d never seen The Manchurian Candidate before last night! What an amazing film. I’d actually seen part of the rotating flower show/Communist roundtable scene, but the entire scene is absolutely chilling. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s about a U.S. Army unit that is waylaid in Korea in 1952 and brainwashed by Soviet and Communist Chinese forces to carry out a nefarious plot once they get back to the United States. The story is full of twists and black humor, but it also has a surprising amount of real, genuine humor, not the black kind. A chilling film, and long too (130 minutes) but well worth the effort and time to watch it.

Disney World Days 1 & 2

We arrived in Kissimmee, Florida around 1700-ish yesterday, tired but happy. We checked in to the Comfort Suites Maingate East and were treated to an enormous suite, the absolute largest hotel room I’ve ever been in. It was huge! At Thomas’ request we hit the pool and then went to a TGIFridays for dinner, played a round of Pirate mini golf and then hit the rack. Well, not before pulling all the day’s photos off the digicam and uploading them to my Photo Album.

(If you want to see our trip photos, go to my Photo album, click on My Photos and then on the day that you’d like to see. I’m uploading each day’s photos to a separate album.)

This morning we got up at 0600 and started getting ready. Downstairs at 0700 for a quick breakfast, and then off to Port Orleans: Riverside for our Walt Disney World stay. Things got off to a bit of a rocky start… we didn’t get the building we wanted, but after a bit of work on the cast member’s part, we were at least in the section we wanted. The bad news is when she tells me that three of the four bus stops will be CLOSED the entire time we are here…. Then our room wasn’t ready. She said it would be ready by 1500 and to just call. We ended up staying at the Magic Kingdom for several hours longer than we intended because the room still wasn’t ready. When I called back, they said it would be ready between 1500 and 1700. Guess what… it still wasn’t ready at 1700… They moved us to a new room, which is actually closer to everything, so there’s that silver lining…

We thoroughly enjoyed the Magic Kingdom, even though it was hot and crowded. I talked with two guys in line for Space Mountain and they said that the crowds during the week had been extremely light, which is what I had been counting on when I booked the trip… I took lots of photos, and these can be seen in the “WDW Day 2” album at my photo album.

Anyway… after finally getting our room, we suited up and hit the pool. We stayed there for an hour or so, then cleaned up and hit the food court here at the resort. Then back to the room to get the photos pulled, scaled and published…

Tomorrow we’re heading for Animal Kingdom which should be fun. It’s the one park that we’ve spent the least amount of time in over the years, so there should be quite a bit we never saw before.

Disney World Days 3 & 4

On Sunday we spent most of the day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and had a great time. There’s quite a bit of stuff to do there and lots to look at. Thomas had a great time at the Festival of the Lion King show but didn’t get into Tarzan Rocks all that much. We rode the Kilimanjaro Safaris which is a bus that takes you through the “savannah” where you can see quite a few real animals. Lots of fun and a very bumpy ride, indeed. I took several decent photos on that ride… The theming in this park is excellent, BTW.

After Animal Kingdom we headed back for the resort to chill out in the air conditioning. We decided to head to Downtown Disney to shop and to have dinner at the Rain Forest Cafe, one of Thomas’ (and my) favorites. We had a good meal, but they brought out our meals about 60 seconds after bringing out the appetizers, which really annoys me. I mentioned to Tammy how frustrating that is, prompting Thomas to tap me on the shoulder. When I looked at him he tapped the side of his head and said “Daddy. Think.” (For why this is funny, read this posting.

On Monday (today) we decided to head for Blizzard Beach first thing. We had a great time, but my thinning hair provides no coverage of my poor pate and so now the top of my head is the color of a lobster… It hurts too!

But all was not good in the Land of the Mouse today. No, after waiting over 30 minutes for the stupid bus back to our resort from Blizzard Beach, an almost-full bus finally arrived. The driver openend the door and motionend for us to get on. I climbed to the top step and saw that there was a stroller in the way, meanwhile Thomas had climbed to the second step. The driver was fiddling with the stroller and apparently took his foot off the brake! Before I realized it, the bus was moving and then slamed into a concrete pylon! I was thrown towards the glass but steadied myself and Thomas was thrown to the floor of the step. He didn’t get hurt, but it scared the heck out of him (and us!). The front bumper of the bus wass crushed up against the pylon (and I do mean crushed), Thomas was screaming and the driver was… doing absolutely nothing except looking at me with a dumb expression. No “I’m sorry!” or “Is your boy ok?” Nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. I screamed at him “You’ve had an accident! Aren’t you going to call someone?!?” He was still looking at me as if I were from Mars… I finally got him to call a manager. The passengers start to get off the bus, one by one coming over to check on Thomas and offering to serve as witnesses if we need them. Lots of people were duly concerned with what happend, and confirmed that we really did see things exectly as they happened. The managers were very understanding and seemed concerned. We’ll see if they offer us anything… And through all of this, the only thing the bus driver said to me was “You want an ambulance?” That’s it.

That delayed us getting back to the resort by almost 2 hours, so we had a late lunch and came back to chill out for an abbreviated 1.5 hours. After the shortest siesta, we headed out to Epcot for dinner at L’Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante; it was just ok… I had the Fettucini Alfredo, which should have been the best bowl of Alfredo you can get… Sadly it was not. It was no better than what you can get at any Olive Garden anywhere in America. Our meal came to $56.55 and was nowhere close to being worth it…

So after a lackluster dinner we headed over to the Japan pavilion and got there just in time to see Matsuriza, the Taiko drummers. Excellent performance, as usual. Then it was off to the Mitsukoshi department story. You know… this could be such a cool store with lots of authentic Japanese stuff for sale. Instead they have lots of Anime-related toys and various other crap. I mean real crap, like cheap Chinese toys crap. Stuff that gives no indication that it is anything special in Japan crap. Just crap. Very disappointing.

(Speaking of disappointing, Epcot just can’t seem to keep Spaceship Earth running. This is my favorite ride at Epcot (one of my faves in all of WDW) and the last four times I’ve ridden it, over three trips, the stupid thing has stopped during the ride every single time, which completely breaks the mood. )

After all of that, it was time for Illuminations the amazing music/lights/fire/fireworks show that they do every night. Words can’t describe how amazing this show is. It only lasts about 12 minutes total, but it’s incredible.

Anyway, that’s enough for tonight. Tomorrow we’re going to spend the whole day at Epcot, since we didn’t really get to do much tonight.

And remember, you can see all the photos I’ve taken in my Photo album. Once there, click on “My Photos” and then the day that you care about. I’m creating a sub-album for each day of the trip.

Office Space And (C)Rap

I finally got around to watching the film Office Space last night. Extremely funny film, but the sound-track was quite possibly one of the worst I’ve ever suffered through. Nothing but track after track of vulgar, disgusting (c)rap. One of the “selections” contained at least 50 uses of the “F word”. That’s just absurd. Actually, that’s just obscene.

You know, I’ve come to a realization over the past several years and that is that there are absolutely no redeeming qualities to rap. I won’t even dignify it by calling it music. It’s just crap. Raunchy, vile, vulgar crap. It says quit a bit about the character of those who listen to it. We already know about the character, or lack thereof, of those who produce it and the thug culture in which most of them live.

Jython Is Just Too Useful

A colleague just came to me asking about Java serialization and output options. We’re going to store some partially filled Serializable DTOs in a BLOB in our database so he needed some info. Our talk then turned to options for storage and such. He already knew about using ObjectOutputStream on top of a FileOutputStream, but I also told him how to get a byte array from the object using a ByteArrayOutputStream. To illustrate, I fired up Jython in interactive mode and typed the following:

[c:tmp] jython
*sys-package-mgr*: processing modified jar, 'C:AspectJ1.1libaspectjrt.jar'
Jython 2.1 on java1.3.1_02 (JIT: null)
Type "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> from import *
>>> from java.util import*
>>> m = ArrayList()
>>> m.add("Foo")
>>> m.add("Bar")
>>> m
[Foo, Bar]
>>> baos = ByteArrayOutputStream()
>>> oos = ObjectOutputStream(baos)
>>> oos.writeObject(m)
>>> oos.close()
>>> dir(baos.class)
['__init__', 'reset', 'size', 'toByteArray', 'toString', 'write', 'writeTo']
>>> baos.toByteArray()
array([-84, -19, 0, 5, 115, 114, 0, 19, 106, 97,
  118, 97, 46, 117, 116, 105, 108, 46, 65, 114, 114,
  97, 121, 76, 105, 115, 116, 120, -127, -46, 29,
  -103, -57, 97, -99, 3, 0, 1, 73, 0, 4, 115, 105,
  122, 101, 120, 112, 0, 0, 0, 2, 119, 4, 0, 0, 0,
  10, 116, 0, 3, 70, 111, 111, 116, 0, 3, 66, 97,
  114, 120], byte)
>>> bais = ByteArrayInputStream(baos.toByteArray())
>>> ois = ObjectInputStream(bais)
>>> x = ois.readObject()
>>> x
[Foo, Bar]
>>> m
[Foo, Bar]

There are lots of cool things there, but specifically, notice the bits in red. I couldn’t remember the method to call to get the byte array, so by using the Python dir() method on the class of the object, I got a list of available methods. toByteArray() was the ticket and you can see both the array itself and then that I went further and deserialized the byte array using a ByteArrayInputStream. Think about how many lines of Java code I would have had to write to show him the same thing. But even if the syntax were just as verbose as Java, not having an edit-compile-run cycle made the demo far faster and productive than it would have otherwise been.