Down on the ranch

We spent Memorial Day weekend on my sister Andrea’s new ranch south of San Antonio, doing all kinds of things we don’t get to do much: riding horses and ATVs, shooting guns, cooking over a camp fire. I’ve posted a bunch of photos from our weekend on my web site. Mosey on over and check them out.

The Squiggles

Steve over at has a new rant about The Wiggles. Steve is funny, as usual, but while I was reading his post, it hit me that I wasn’t familiar with the details he was ranting about. Praise the Lord! It’s been at least a year since The Wiggles has played in our house. Not to mention such other grating early-childhood TV shows, such as the Teletubbies and Elmo.
No, our kids have finally moved on. Granted, they’ve moved on to some Disney Channel fare of equally questionable quality, but nothing is as painful as repeated preschool shows such as The Wiggles.


I don’t know if this blog entry is biographical or fiction, but it’s powerful and painfully believable in any case. People can be so heartless in the name of religion. Just read this.

Crunch mode

Joey deVilla has a good blog post about crunch mode, which he defines as “working extra hours each day for extended periods in order to meet a (usually arbitrary and unrealistic) deadline.”
I agree completely with Joey that extended crunch mode is counter-productive. As work hours increase, productivity decreases, and at some point, you’re making so many errors that it becomes counter-productive.
The issue of work hours almost always comes up in some form when I interview for jobs. My stock answer is: software development is a cyclical enterprise. I understand that there are periods when much greater effort is necessary, and I’m willing to put in that periodic work.
And as a manager myself, I tell my team members that if they have to be in crunch mode more than periodically, then it’s a management failure.
I usually welcome this topic in a job interview, because the interviewer’s attitude toward crunch mode tells me a lot about the culture of the company and whether I want to work there. Thankfully, I’ve had the opportunity to work in several companies where management essentially agrees with me about the dubious value of perpetual crunch mode.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

I heard about Eragon a while back on public radio. Christopher Paolini was only fifteen years old when he wrote it. His parents paid to pubilsh the novel and then peddled from the back of their van until they attracted enough attention that he was signed by a publisher.
Hannah checked Eragon out of the library and I started it after she finished. It was very well written, good adolescent fiction. I highly recommend it, and I can’t wait for the next book in the trilogy.

10-year anniversary

I just remembered that this year is my 10-year anniversary on the web. Unbelievable. In 1995, I was working at Logos Corporation in New Jersey. I remember when we got dial-up internet access for the office and someone at the office started showing us web sites on Mosaic. A contractor working for the company then started developing an interface for our company’s application to allow users to submit documents for translation via the web. Pretty cutting edge stuff at the time.
As soon as Windows 95 was released, Katie and I bought our first Windows home PC (We’d had a Macintosh SE since 1986 or so), and we got dial-up Internet access at home. We lived in the sticks in New Jersey, and at first, the only ISP that had local dial-up numbers was Compuserve. Shortly thereafter, a local ISP started offering local dial-up numbers and we switched to them. I used ‘tippiedog‘ as my login for that account, and I’ve been using it as an online identifier ever since.

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

My latest drive-time listen was A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. This novel portrays the complexity of social and racial interactions in post-WW II Louisiana. The protagonist, a college-educated black man, struggles to come to terms with his faith and his place in his community and the world.
I really enjoyed listening to this novel and I highly recommend it. As I was listening, it struck me that this novel could be easily adapted to the screen, and sure enough, it has been. I’ve set my DVR to record it if it is ever shown on a cable channel that we get.

The nation’s top high schools

Newsweek just released its list of the top 100 U.S. high schools, and it’s been all over the local news that two Austin area schools, Westlake HS and Westwood HS, made the list.
There is a strong consensus among Austinites that these are both very good schools, but I have no idea how they stack up nationally.
I am generally very skeptical of such lists–or at least of their value–but Ed Felten goes a step further: he questions the methodology used to compile the list.