quiet-loud-louder - Thursday December 14 2000    

If it was like most such places, the wall above the men's room urinal on the first floor of my workplace would be home to a rich diversity of boogers. You'd see some that were small and grublike and others that were large and octopoidal, still containing appreciable volumes of water or, in some cases, blood. Some would be run through with detached nasal hairs and other impurities while others would be nearly pristine in both shape and consistency. For some reason, though, this particular wall is more or less devoid of such flora-faunal occupants. Instead, what one finds is a number of large smudgy hand prints, evidently left by gentlemen who felt the need to steady themselves while emptying their bladders. Knowing what normally lurks on the walls above urinals, I of course would never think of putting my hand there. Indeed, though I often pick my nose and occasionally am in need of places to dispose of the bounties harvested, I would never deposit my gifts on the wall above a urinal. I don't want to come into contact with the boogers of other people. That's just plain nasty. My old girlfriend Leslie Montalto ('92-'94) and I had our own euphemism for boogers: "pizza toppins'."

From the ad hoc weblogging that happens on Vodkatea.com: Divine Interventions - is it a religious icon or is it a dildo, or is it a little bit of both? Just ask Donny & Marie.

With the exception of pre-System 9 Macintoshes, I don't know much about non-Windows operating systems. At this point I think I can pass judgment on the Windows OSes I have known.

  • Windows 3.1 - why bother? The graphical interface doesn't help you visualize what's going on any better than MS-DOS.
  • Windows NT 3.5 - the OS is okay but again, why bother with a GUI like this?
  • Windows 95 - impressive in its time, it was light and fairly reliable. I got a lot of good work done using a PC equipped with 32 Megs of RAM and Windows 95. The machine's name was Beowulf.comet.net, perhaps you remember it in your logs circa the Fall of 1996. With Windows 95 I could finally use a PC like I used to use a Macintosh.
  • Windows NT 4.0 - a pretty good OS overall. It's fast and reliable in a PC equipped with 128 Megs of RAM.
  • Windows 98 - not especially impressive and certainly not very reliable. The memory leaks are appalling.
  • Windows ME - even worse than Windows 98 - a ponderous, overgrown OS.
  • Windows 2000 in its various forms - ponderous and slow. My productivity at work has nosedived since my system was "upgraded." Everything I used to do that happened instantaneously in NT 4.0 now is plagued by annoying delays: right clicking, moving between files in Homesite and compiling stored procedures in SQL 2000. These delays are long enough for me to seek distraction in things like web surfing, greatly multiplying their productivity-destroying effect.

While I'm on the subject of Microsoft's fine line of software products, let me bring up a nefarious little trick they've been pulling on the web-savvy public. There's a new feature in the Advanced Internet Options Configuration called "Show friendly HTTP error messages." If you want Microsoft to continue fooling you and concealing all the buggy server software out there running on the Microsoft platform, I recommend that you leave this option checked. This is, of course, the default. That way you don't get to see the error that a Microsoft server generates when some numbskull attempts to divide by zero or reference a field not returned by the query he's running. Instead you get a generic "HTTP 500 - Internal Server Error." That could be anything, huh? No one told me when Microsoft began concealing their server errors in this way with the release of Windows 2000. Suddenly, though, I found it impossible to debug the code I was writing on Windows 2000 servers such as the one hosting Vodkatea.com. I'd get these internal server errors instead of the helpful ASP errors, the ones we all know and love that come with a line number. I worked for months under that handicap until one day I figured out that I needed to uncheck this option. I hope I have helped at least one other person out there by disclosing this information.
One more thing about Microsoft products: has anyone heard the new Microsoft party line that officially declares their products to be "bug free"? I thought this was a joke at first, and not a very good one at that, but Linda has heard it from several sources now and not all of them were smiling when they said it. Can someone please confirm or deny this rumor? It's fascinating to think that a huge lumbering corporation would make such an Orwellian decree in the context of this jaded post-modern age. But then again, how jaded can a nation of Backstreet Boys fans be? And while we're on the subject of fluffy boy bands, aren't the Backstreet Boys over yet? Aren't they like so 1999 already? In my mind I can vividly picture a conversation taking place ten years in the future: "Oh yeah, and this is a picture of me at a Backstreet Boys concert taking a chick's address on my Palm V and wearing a Pets.com tee shirt."

I did some more work on my four track composition, and in the process managed to stumble into something. You know that quiet-loud-quiet thing that was so exquisitely perfected by such bands as the Pixies and Nirvana? Well, I've taken it one step further. In my latest tune the music goes quiet, loud, louder, and then quiet again. It's a three step process and each step seems to have as much emotional power as the single step in, say, a Pixies song. So I ended up having twice the effect. This probably sounds n&aiumlve to anyone who actually knows anything about music composition, and there's probably a reason this isn't done in pop music, but I was very pleased with it nevertheless.

In the evening the company was having its annual Holiday party at a schtevish bar up on Wilshire within easy walking distance of my house. I don't remember the name of the place, just that it looks like the sort of place I would never go unless I knew I'd be getting free drinks. It was a Thursday night, and tomorrow was just another work day, so John couldn't come. As restrictive as the people at the door were being, I would have had trouble getting him in anyway. I have a feeling that the reason the company decided to have its Holiday party on a Thursday instead of on a weekend night was to suppress the tendency of employees to drink to excess. I've heard that the company has a tradition of firing the people who behave most outrageously at its yearly party.
The place was packed with all sorts of familiar faces whose names I don't know, so I made a beeline for the small cluster of people I do know, the UK team. They were all hanging out in a front porch area smoking cigarettes, their smoke billowing relentlessly into the bar in flagrant disregard for California regulations. I'd arrived sort of late so I was considerably less drunk than the others. I nodded my head in sober agreement to the drunken things being said and tried to have a good time, but I felt sort of bored anyway. Eventually we were joined by this new web-operations project manager chick who recently started work on my floor. I forget her name, but she's tall and blond and I've frequently seen her and Linda's boyfriend Julian hanging out together. She had a Jordanian girlfriend with her who compulsively exercised an illuminated yo-yo while sending Frank vibes that he interpreted as "don't hit on me." More meaningless banter, mostly about work, most of it being about fucked-up databases, followed. For some reason the project manager chick was under the impression that I was actually from the UK as well. I thought this was pretty funny, considering that she has heard me talk on several occasions and I have a generic American accent.
I saw Julian and Linda come into the party and go upstairs, but I was content to avoid them. It was empowering to be able to talk to other people, other women especially, without Linda there demanding all my attention.
Later I was at the bar ordering a free beer when Linda snuck up from behind me and grabbed me. Then she joined me at the bar. It was the first time I'd ever seen her in a dress. The margaritas had made her drunk, but that certainly wasn't a problem. She was very sweet. In a setting where I felt like just another anonymous paper cutout, she made me feel special. Awwww.
The party was supposed to last until 2am, but the bouncers started shutting things down shortly after 1am. I had two beers in my hands waiting for Linda to get back from the bathroom and the bouncer snatched them away from me.
The guys from the UK contingent piled into Linda's car and I piled in too, facing backwards in a kneeling position because that's the only way I could fit. As Julian drove us all back to my house, Linda periodically smacked my butt.
We sat around smoking joints made with a mixture of marijuana and tobacco while I had a vodkatea. After Julian and Linda left I played the half-baked song "Christine in Denial" that I'd been working on earlier - mostly to piss off Frank since none of the instruments are electronic. We were all pretty drunk by this point.

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