Friday, December 31, 2004

Mean Girls

Some parts are really very funny, in the way that very good jokes can be told ("Almost as mad as I get when I think about the fact that my sister named him Anfernee.") The ending droned on a bit and lost itself as a comedy and served as a morality tale and lesson vehicle. It's not that I'm insensitive to the benefits of exposing the subtle and humilating ways high school girls treat each other, but as a 35-year old male with no children, I'm rather out of touch. I think it was really well written by Tina Fey, whom I suspect really wanted to bring a little conversation forward, and still managed to take off her top. I don't understand why she did that last part, either. Beth insists I watched it for the T&A.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

This is a good film, but not a great film. On one level, it was wonderfully enjoyable with its heavyweight cast, Wes Anderson-feel, and slow, deliberate jokes. On the other hand there was something overbearing about the film that left me uneasy. Part of it was my high expectations not being met by Bill Murray's performance, which is nuanced for sure, but not worthy of an Oscar. My other primary concern is that the film is either too short, or too long. In other words, it was probably much longer, and poorly cut.

I'll probably see this movie again.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Reformation did wonders for the New York Times

Looks like the New York Times has handled their post-Jayson Blair issues by replacing their traditional content with crap:

By: Lily Koppel
Published: December 20, 2004

In the long walk of history between man and dog, the bark mitzvah could be seen as an unexpected pit stop. Yet it was celebrated on Saturday night in the Bronx in a traditional way, with a party for family and friends of the 13-year-old that included a chopped-liver sculpture, choruses of "mazel tov!" (or, in this case, "muzzle tov!"), a cantor and gifts.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Kids Ask Dr. Phil

My wife, Beth Osthimer, was on The Dr. Phil show on December 7th. The episode is called "Kids Ask Dr. Phil" and some information can be found here:

The last item about the girl named "Luz Ricardo". If you click on Luz's face, it brings up a slideshow. On the second page of the slideshow, you'll find a picture with four women sitting in the front row. My wife is second from the left in that picture.

"In the audience are some of Luz's supporters from the CDF and the Children's Law Center: Carol Biondi, Beth Osthimer, Lisa Mandel and Victoria Ramirez Ballesteros."

Beth had to spend alot of time putting together the website in order to prepare it for the incomiing deluge of hits. In the end, the site was "phildotted" and received 118,000 hits on the day the show aired.

This came after a long effort whereby Dr. Phil was a speaker at CDF-California's Beat The Odds awards dinner and fund raiser, where 5 kids are honored for being successful students and role models, despite very difficult odds. To make a long story short, Beth became director of Children's Defense Fund in California, which helped get Dr. Phil to be the keynote speaker at the Beat The Odds dinner. Dr. Phil was so moved by Luz's story that he wanted to do a show about her. And what he did for her... is teriffic.

Did you read the slide-show text yet?

I have attended three or four of these events so far, and they're all fantastic.

In fairness, I wrote this posting on Dec 23, but the show was aired on Dec 7.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Impromptu fireworks display

I was sitting at my desk this evening and fireworks started shooting out of the Grove. So I called Beth and we watched, then I grabbed my camera and took what photos I could. You can see the Christmas tree in the middle left of the picture.Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Teddy: Jan 29, 1926 - Oct 30, 2004

My stepfather died two weeks ago due to complications from a stroke. He was 79. I knew him for about ten years and I miss him terribly.
Teddy was a WWII veteran. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. We arrived at the cemetary and the rabbi said, "I haven't seen that in 15 years." He was referring to the color guard. Two soldiers took a flag which was sitting over his coffin during the funeral, and there at the cemetary, draped it once more over Teddy's coffin and presented it to my mother. Then a third soldier played taps. I cried, not out of grief, but because I was so moved.

I never expected to see that in my lifetime, let alone with my mother as the primary participant. I also had never wanted to bring a camera to a burial. I wish I had. I, and I suspect other people, would have liked to have had it. Mostly I think Teddy would have liked it.

We climbed back into the limousine and we laughed. Not because we were inappropriate, but because the last few months of the war, Teddy and his comrades came across a cache of wine in the Black Forest. They dumped their water, dumped their tents, and "didn't drink water for the rest of the war." So we were laughing that if the Army knew that was how they spent their time during the endgame, they'd knock on my mother's door to ask for the flag back. :)

She is considering what to do with the flag. I think when the time comes she should consider giving it to one of his four grandchildren.

Bad choice for Enumerations in J2SE 5.0

Once again, I can't tell too much here, but I'm very unhappy with the implementation of enumerated types for J2SE 5.0.

If I have an enumeration such as

public enum Weekdays {

I cannot choose to disallow this:

Weekday weekday = null;

Now all my code still requires if(blah == null). Not very happy.

Generics in J2SE 5.0

It sounds like I'm not the first person to recognize that in J2SE 5.0, the following causes a compiler error:
public void arrayTest(List<T> list) {
T[] array = new T[list.size()];

because you're not allowed to create generic arrays. This has to do with the way Sun implemented Generics by preserving a significant amount of backward compatibility and by dropping the type safety once the source is compiled. In other words, these two statements generate the same bytecode:

List<String> list = new ArrayList<String>();
List list = new ArrayList();

I have a way to go before I can make any determinations, but I'm not particularly pleased with this.

The Democratic Manifesto?

Well written. I suspect this page will be archived soon, and I'm not going to archive it just yet.

Friday, October 29, 2004

My Dell 2001FP

Oh man. I got a 20.1" Dell 2001FP last week. Thanks to a discount program at Google, this only cost me $600. I brought it home and replaced my very reliable 19" Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 900u. The best part is that I keep it rotated in portrait mode, all the time, at 1280x1024. Finally - a monitor that works like I do! What's nice is that both of my PCs (which share a KVM switch) happily work with the rotated monitor.

Seriously, I'm tempted to buy a second one and have them both rotated. But that's just crazy talk.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Holly and the Sox

This comes from a small page I've assembled for the World Series:

The Holly Robertson Red Sox Page
This is not a page written by Holly. Nor is it written by the Red Sox. The closest relationship this page has is that Holly loves the Red Sox. And that Holly occasionally wears red socks.

This may be a banner year for Holly. In the past several years, we have seen her marry a great man and have two wonderful children. These are truly blessed gifts that she has and appreciates every day. No more does she need to worry about zero-sibling children of zero-sibling parents. No more does she need to worry about Peter's late night drinking and carousing. Yet something gnaws at her every day. It gnaws at her when she overhears coworkers. It gnaws at her when she reads the newspaper. It gnaws at her even when she is sits in front of the fireplace on a cold Christmas eve. And that is that the Red Sox have not won a World Series in so long, that, let's face it: she really doesn't even have the capacity to understand just how long that is. To be brutally honest, you're more likely to read a brand-new book by the oldest surviving Civil War bride than you are about someone who has seen a championship Red Sox team.

This may change.

This year, the Red Sox seem destined to put a cap to this less-than-admirable quality about themselves. Some say this is the year they will win. Some of them even say it with a little whistle in their voice, on account of having no front teeth. Some say (and I'm quoting here) "this is just going be another year where the Red Sox do what they always do: tempt us with the possibility of setting us free from our binding shackles of embarrasment, yet once again humiliate themselves, and us in the process, leaving us with nothing more than misery and the cold familiarity of being the pariah of Major League Baseball."*

* ok, I made that up.

But none of that matters to Holly. She has managed to watch every Red Sox playoff game, take care of a newborn baby and 2 1/2 year old girl, and get a reasonable night's sleep. And if you think managing two little ones like that is tough, try doing it during the playoffs. (I should note here that not too long ago, this was much easier, with only four teams in the playoffs, and no more than five games for the league title. Yet more proof that baseball is not kind to mothers.)

Where does this leave us? During the Americal League series, Holly managed to take advantage of maternaty leave by having the ball games taped, and, with no car radio, no newspapers in the streets and no thoughtless co-worker chatter, watching each game the following morning.

At this point, I must posit that this is what Congress considered a fundamental underlying reason for maternity leave. This is also the underlying reason for Tivo. But I digress.

Holly did not want to stay up late, find out the Red Sox managed to lose the series and then have to deal with two children. It was much easier for her to handle the inevitable loss by late morning, when the children could take a predictable nap. Yes, the ALCS is one thing. But the World Series is something else altogether. I have been told by Holly that she intends to watch these games live. At this point, Boston has won their first World Series game; a dramatic victory against the St. Louis Cardinals where the Cardinals consistently would catch up but, fortunately for the Red Sox, never surpass them.

I was tempted during this first game to call Holly and say, "Hey!" "Woah!" "Whoops!" and so on. However, it's important to let this woman have her privacy. Let's face it. I've been her friend for 8 years, but Red Sox are thicker than ... friendsocks. You get my point. So here's a web page I have put up to enter my comments, and for you to enter your comments to Holly as well. In that way, Holly gets to rest and have her privacy, we got to emote with her, and, most importantly, hope with her, and hope for ourselves that she'll stop complaining about the Red Sox once and for all.

24 October 2004

Friday, October 22, 2004

Catholic Votes

From The New York Times today, Thursday, October 21, 2004:


To the Editor:
Re "Vote and Be Damned" (column, Oct. 17):

I agree with Maureen Dowd that for some American bishops to suggest that a vote for someone with John Kerry's policies would be a sin was not a good move. But she need not worry too much about us Catholics. We make up our minds according to our consciences, on voting as well as birth control. This is even in agreement with Catholic teaching.

The value and dignity of a human life starts before birth but lasts through life; therefore, abortion is by no means the only pro-life issue to be considered.

Gabi Hegerl
Chapel Hill, N.C., Oct 17, 2004

Original article can be found here.

Google Desktop

This really is a worthwhile tool. I got to spend some time beta-testing it, and it's fantastic. Gonna change the way I organize my stuff!

West Wing Season 6 Premiere

What a surprisingly terrible episode! I expected it to be mediocre, but I didn't expect it to be on the lower end of mediocre!

There was nothing to really hold my interest, nothing to make me particularly interested in the next episode, and the "scenes from" was pretty poor. To top it off, there were two product placements (as far as I could tell): one for Diet Dr. Pepper and one for Nortel.

A little hunting turned up this web page. SPOILERS AHEAD.

"...Martin Sheen, who plays President Josiah Bartlet, and the show's other regulars will continue with the show throughout the 2004-2005 season, although some of their jobs may change, John Wells told television reporters in a conference call.

"...Donna Moss (Janel Maloney) will recover from wounds suffered following a terrorist bombing in the Middle East, and she and her boss, deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), will return to Washington.

"...A heart attack will strike the president's chief of staff, Leo McGarry (John Spencer). The president will ask McGarry to become a trusted adviser and press secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) to become his new chief of staff.

"...By midseason, Lyman will leave the White House to work for Santos, and Moss will go to work for Russell. That strange working relationship will free up both to pursue a personal relationship.

"...'It will definitely be a large part of the season,' Wells said. 'The thing that has prevented us from proceeding on the Josh and Donna romance is the Moonlighting syndrome (a reference to a poor outcome involving Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis on that ABC series). I'm not really sure how interesting that relationship is once the actors end up in it. Also, it would have been a very bad idea for Josh, as Donna's supervisor, to allow a relationship to develop. It's strictly prohibited within the White House and in most workplaces.'

"...The president's wife, Abby (Stockard Channing), will begin a storyline, shortly before Christmas, that will reintroduce the issue of the president's multiple sclerosis.

"...'It would be our preference to do our election next season (around Christmastime),' Wells said, but if Sheen doesn't agree to a new season, Wells is prepared to move that timeline up, changing the administration sooner.
"..'"While we don't have a contract with NBC for an additional season, I don't believe this will be the last year of the show,' he said. 'You can look at NBC's schedule and see that losing a show of The West Wing's quality would be a bad thing. Also, I do a lot of other business with them (as executive producer of ER and Third Watch), and I think NBC will respect the quality of the show and show us respect.'"

Ho hum. Now I can finally watch the old TV shows I never did like 24, or Northern Exposure, or The Odd Couple.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Call me an idealist...

An friend of mine sent an email with this comment:
For instance, it would seem feasible that by carefully placing an Ashcroft-like Supreme Court justice or two, George W could take away the right to choose.
I wonder how much of that is just fear. I've been reading a little bit about the Supreme Court and I'm beginning to understand that conservatives fundamentally are actually not ruling based upon opinion, but rather, through strict interpretation of law. Call me an idealist; I'm still holding out that the Supreme Court is an honorable one.

Stanislaw Lem Scans

I finally scanned in my entire collection of Stanislaw Lem book covers. Most of them are not in great condition (as I've read them,) but they're there!

I scanned them in because Mr. Lem's son (Tomasz) hosts, a site about Stanislaw Lem. There is a special section of his book covers. Finally, after four years, I finished scanning them in. You can see them at, but they might not stay there for too long.

Good Day At Work

Today I finally made some headway in my project at work. It's been difficult the last few weeks (has it been six weeks?) mostly because I had no intellectual ownership of anything. I think coming in today, Sunday, and spending a quiet day working, helped me get to a point where I understand enough to be able to speak intelligently about a particular subject. Granted, a teeny-weeny piece of Google's business, but hey, you have to start somewhere. The best part is that by the end of the week I fully expect to move up to itsy-bitsy.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Great sentence from a book

"But on a cold day, in a drafty room, chilled cucumber soup is about as welcome as a swarm of wasps at a bat mitzvah." :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Blogging Madness!

My wife and I did yesterday's Sunday New York Times crossword. We downloaded and printed it. We completed the puzzle in record time, 70 minutes. Although we got one cell incorrect because "A place for reeds" was "FEN" rather than "FAN" as we thought.

Amazing. We're very proud.

PS "Bath set" is "TELLY" and "Brief shower" is "COURTTV". Yeah, we hated them, too.

My first birthday present

My birthday is coming up. My mother sent me my first birthday present of the year, a subscription to the New York Times Crossword Puzzle online!!! This is a cool present, because it allows you to download the crosswords and run them on your PC by yourself. You can save them, partially filled if you prefer, or you could print them (blank, filled, or with all the answers!) For the most part, you need "Across Lite", available at

You can even collaborate with someone else who has a subscription, solving the puzzle in real-time. Oh, man, that's cool stuff.

The puzzles are stored on your pc with a .puz file extension, so if you aren't ready to do today's puzzle, you can download it.

There are old crossword puzzles stored online, as far back as 1996, and there are bonus puzzles, including extra crosswords you won't see in the newspaper and a couple of other types of crosswords.

This promises to be a great present! Thank you, mommie!

PS: Download Across Lite, and then check this out, for what might be the coolest crossword puzzle ever:

Monday, September 27, 2004

California Votes To Keep Third-Party Candidates On The Ballot

Check this out. It's California Proposition 62, being put to the California state voters this November.

The basic summary is: "A YES vote means that, beginning in the primary election of 2006, voters can vote for state or federal candidates (except President and party committee) regardless of party affiliation and that the top two vote-getters appear on the general election ballot."

At first glance, this also seems like a nice alternative to the current voting system, realize this means that fundamentally this means that the top two political parties alone will be represented in final elections.

Amusingly, also on the ballot this year is Propsition 60:

A basic summary is: "A YES vote means any political party that participates in a primary election would have the constitutional right to have its nominee on the subsequent general election ballot."

Which means I have two fights to keep alternative candidates on the ballot.

I'm beginning to occasionally fear that it would be nice to remain ignorant.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Stupid Nokia Phones

I get what I pay for.

Got a Nokia 3590. After a year, the 9 button stopped working. This meant that I couldn't call my wife at work very easily, nor could I call many people (however, I was surprised to find that there are fewer people with a '9' in their phone number than I originally expected. In part, this is probably due to moving from a 973 area code to a 323 area code.) So I ditched the phone for my stepfather's (only slightly) used Nokia 3595. All this crap about being able to copy your phone directory from one device to another? Crap. I had one entry of three phone numbers under my wife's name. Now on my new phone, for my wife, there are six entries of one number each. One for each of the phone numbers under the old directory listing, and each of them repeated for good measure. To boot, this phone has the opposite problem of my 3590. That is, when I press buttons, it registers them multiple times. This does wonders when I'm trying to listen to my voice mail. Thank god I don't do banking by phone. (for many reasons, I now see.)

I have to unload this phone, but I just don't know yet which phone I will replace it with. Any suggestions? I want a phone that is not going to break. I want a phone that, when I press a button, will register that I've pressed it, and register only once. I want decent battery life. No need for a camera; no need for internet access. A speakerphone would be nice. And by now, I want to synchronize my phone numbers with my PC, be it Outlook or a CSV file. I don't care. And I want it cheap.

I feel better.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

This is a picture of my wife Beth at Dodger Stadium. We were there to watch her nephew, Brent, who was playing in a special event. Tommy Lasorda was on hand to watch four teams of teenagers play against each other, fundamentally, I think, to scout out the young talent.

There were about 80 of us in the stadium. We were part way up the first-base line, not far from home plate. As you can see by the empty seats surrounding Beth (and in her eyeglasses), it was a very empty stadium. Pretty cool. I never want to go to Dodger Stadium again, it would ruin the experience.

PS Dodger Dogs Suck. Posted by Hello

Saturday, August 28, 2004

My Great Wife

Beth and I were watching an A&E presentation of the Agatha Christie story, "Evil Under The Sun." Early in the movie, Hercule Poirot tells Captain Hastings to stop "behaving like a Mother Chicken." I turned to Beth and said, "Maybe I should call you Mother Chicken" and she replied, "You do that and I'll kick you in the nuts."

Couldn't have found a better lady. Nope.


This was the end of my first week at Google.

Holy cow. What a first week. I'm totally excited. My head knows I'm in the right place, but my heart says I'm out of my league. Or it's my heart that's in the right place... something. Self consciousness aside, I'm also sure that working with so many brilliant people is going to make my work that much better. The guy who started the same day as I did has a PhD in CS from MIT, and the woman whom I am sharing a project with has a PhD in Physics. Where? I don't know. But the fact is that these are some brilliant folks.

In the meantime, I'm reading what I can, soaking up people, technology, people, environment*, and my current assignment, and at least I feel like I am starting to get something done.

I was tired of being a big fish in a small pond, and wanted to be a small fish in a big pond. You know that phrase, "Be careful what you wish for?" Heh.

* - By environment, I guess I meant Skittles.

Java Decompiler Progress

[FYI, I'm working on a Java decompiler]

OK it's not great, but it's definitely good.

I started with this:


public abstract class TestClass implements Runnable, Serializable
    public static int _field1 = 123;
    public String _field2 = "Hello";
    protected double _field3 = 123.456;
    char _field4 = 'M';
    long _val = 12345L;

    public static void main(String[] args)
        int firstParameter = 2;
        int secondParameter = 3;
        int k = 4;
        int l = 5;
        int m = 6;
        m = firstParameter + secondParameter + k + l + m;
    public void ifTest()
        if (_field1 == 12345)
            _field3 = 1.01;
            _field3 = 1.02;

and got this:

public abstract class TestClass extends java.lang.Object implements java.lang.Runnable,
    public static int _field1;
    public java.lang.String _field2;
    protected double _field3;
    char _field4;
    long _val;
    static void ()
_field1 = 123;
    public TestClass()
        TestClass this; // (0-31 0)]
"Hello"_field2 = this;
123.456_field3 = this;
77_field4 = this;
12345_val = this;
    public static void main(java.lang.String[] args)
        int firstParameter; // (2-27 1)]
        int secondParameter; // (4-27 2)]
        int k; // (6-27 3)]
        int l; // (9-27 4)]
        int m; // (13-27 5)]
firstParameter = 2;
secondParameter = 3;
k = 4;
l = 5;
m = 6;
m = ((((firstParameter + secondParameter) + k) + l) + m);
    public void ifTest()
        TestClass this; // (0-27 0)]
if (_field1 != 12345)
1.02_field3 = this;

1.01_field3 = this;



Except for the formatting and the glaringly obvious errors assigning to class attributes (101_field3 = this?), that's pretty damn good! Heck, the formatting is a non-issue, what with auto-formatters. I may just flush everything left and chain with a source-code formatter. With some smart stuff (optimizations), this will come together nicely.

(I haven't even tried to handle about while, for, switch, new, null, synchronized blocks or even nesting the ifs above, but hey.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Can't sleep

I can't sleep. Partly because I just finished my first day at Google, and partly because I'm sick, probably from anxiety about starting at Google. Who knows which. I spent all day walking around saying that it was "their company" and so forth, and of course, it's now "my company" but I really walk around believing that I'm a victim of an elaborate prank. Part of it is probably shock of having a job at all, but part of it is that now I have to get up for a job. Granted I don't have to get up so early (the other person in my project arrives at the office around 11AM) but still...