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July 31, 2003

Free at last... free at last... free at last!

"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose..."
-- Janis Joplin, Me and Bobby McGhee

PGP Signed Entry

July 24, 2003

Moving Sale

As previously threatened, I am listing a bunch of stuff that I'd like to sell. Unless otherwise noted, everything works and is in good shape. The reason I'm selling this stuff is because, well, my lease is up, and I don't feel like moving it all. The prices I've listed are what I'd like to get for the items. If I've got like one item left and I just need to get rid of it so that I don't have to move anything large, then I'd consider going lower on it. Go ahead and make me an offer and I'll consider anything reasonable. This stuff has to go by Monday, the 28th. Also, transportation from my apartment is your responsibility (after all, if I wanted to move this stuff, I'd just move it... the whole point of this sale is to relieve me of having to move this stuff!). If you're in the Champaign-Urbana, IL, area, I'd be happy to show you the stuff before you buy it. Send offers and questions by email to my public address, 0307fet@jetlin.com.

  1. Queen Wood Frame Bed with box spring and Sealy Posturepedic Bernadina mattress. About 4 years old, clean. $250.
  2. 3-piece Scandanavian design desk. Large main desk, smaller "writing table" on casters, and file cabinet/drawer unit on casters. About 13 years old, so it's got some nicks and scratches from the years, but construction is still solid and it's still quite sturdy. I guess I can throw in a nice office chair on casters too. $50.
  3. Whirlpool Estate Extra Large Washer Has your typical Normal/Perm Press/Delicate cycles, 4 size settings, 4 temp combos... One year old. $200.
  4. Univega Alpina 530 mountain bike. Several years old, but I really didn't use it as much as I should have. In excellent shape. Shimano STX-RC rear derailleur, rapid fire shifters, Alivio hardware elsewhere. $150.

Since the main idea of this sale is to get rid of big stuff so I don't have to move it, the stuff below is some smaller stuff that I'd like to sell only if all or most of the big stuff above is already gone. I mean, if I have to move big stuff, then adding these little things isn't too much of a big deal, but if I get rid of most of the big stuff, then getting rid of these smaller items will further make my move easier...

  1. Sony DVP-S7700 DVD Player Top of the line when I bought it 3-4 years ago. DTS, S-video, Component video, optical and coax digital audio outs, plus your standard RCA outs. Excellent working order. $300.
  2. Acurus ACT3 Preamp/Surround Processor Check the link for the specs, just keep in mind that I don't have the Advanced Bass Management upgrade on mine. Excellent condition. It's a beautiful machine. $450.

Then there's some stuff that I just want to get rid of... make me any offer (hell, I'd consider giving it away for free if you come over and get it) for this stuff:

  1. HP LaserJet 4 Printer. Not in entirely working order. It turns on, and prints, but the output is streaky and frequently paper gets jammed and crumpled. Could just be a bad toner cartridge, could be a lot worse... I don't care to find out, but if you have the patience and/or resources to play with it... go ahead.
  2. Canon Elph APS Camera. The original. Still works, with a new battery and a couple of rolls of film to get you started.
  3. Iomega Jaz PCMCIA SCSI card. Can be used with devices other than Jaz, as far as I know.
  4. Microsoft Sidewinder Joystick and Strategic Commander. Hey I use a Mac now... don't have much use for these tools anymore.

PGP Signed Entry

July 21, 2003

...And Just Like That, It's Over

A year worth of planning was over in little over four hours this weekend, as my classmates and I met on the 99th floor of the Sears Tower for our 10 year high school Reunion. By all accounts, the event was a great success. I lived up to the Fieldmarshal personality type, as all the planning and contingency planning paid off in a totally smooth event. I was even able to not worry about the event after a little while and just relax and catch up with people.

At the same time, though, I felt like it was just over too quickly. Ten years is a lot to go over with people, and even though some of us caught an after party, I still felt like it wasn't enough time. I guess the onus is on me to make use of some of the contact information and try to stay in touch and to try to visit and hang out whenever I'm traveling.

Anyway, I barely have any time for post-partum depression here as the next week will see me moving again and embarking on a bit of a quest. Right now I have to figure out where to put my stuff and, ideally, to pawn as much of this junk off as possible. I'll probably be posting a "garage sale" announcement at some point.

Another year, another decade, come and gone.

PGP Signed Entry

July 17, 2003

On Friendship and Volunteers

It must be very difficult to be friends with people like me.

I mean, I tend to volunteer myself for things that I know I can't handle completely on my own. Which means my friends inevitably get volunteered for various tasks that they didn't necessarily sign up for themselves...

PGP Signed Entry

July 16, 2003

The Cloak of Night

I've been a "night owl" ever since my parents stopped making me to go bed by a certain time. For me, the night was always the time when things got done. In college, our Engineering Council hosted a leadership conference entitled "Carpe Noctum," seize the night, with the tagline "Engineers do more after midnight than most people do all day."

Aside from the fact that "after midnight" is technically equivalent to "all day," this has pretty much been the way I work since I can remember. There are a lot of reasons for this, not all of which I believe are related to circadean rhythms and biology. Frankly, the night has always been more tranquil to me, much easier to concentrate. There is a safety that I identify with the night. I know this sounds counter-intuitive to a lot of people, who see the night as something to be feared and where they can't see what is out there.

But it is precisely that knowledge: that I can disappear in the night, that makes it so welcome. The places which are so packed with people during the day have a peaceful respite to them at night. I do everything I possibly can at night: shopping, driving, working, paying the bills, whatever. Certainly part of the allure of night to me has nothing to do with night itself, but rather simply the fact that most other people don't like the night and thus I can have more of what's out there to myself at night, be it the road, the store, or the restaurant.

I know many of my friends are the same way. We are somewhat outcasts in this society because of it, but if being an outcast means that I can enjoy my nights in relative peace and get what I need to get done without the world distracting me as it is during the day, so be it. I am an outcast of the night.

PGP Signed Entry

July 12, 2003

Version 2.0b1

Welcome to the new version of Shanghai Yummy. The blog is undergoing some major changes, so don't expect everything work.

Please feel free to comment on the new look, as well as any functional issues.

The Menu is based on advanced CSS 2.0, and your browser needs to know what to do with hover over any element to make use of the menus. Mozilla and Safari (and any other Gecko-based browser) should have no problems with this. IE does not, however. I will work on some workarounds for the IE crowd out there eventually.

Also, let me know what you think about the art section. Eventually, the goal is to have an art blog side by side with the words blog. But for now I've just put up some pictures as placeholders.

I have also switched to a Creative Commons License.

Party on.

PGP Signed Entry

July 11, 2003

On Mortality

Carpe Diem they say. Live like today's the only day you have.

I've heard that. I've lived it, to an extent. But what about the opposite? Live like there are a hundred thousand tomorrows? Like you can take all day to enjoy just one thing. Sit and just breathe and take it all in for once, instead of rushing off to the next.

I've lived that, too. There's a time and a place for each, like just about all things in life. I guess that's the curse of mortality... the duality of all situations. There was a quote that I held dear a long time ago:

"I always knew that, looking back, I'd laugh over the times I cried. But I never thought I would cry over the times I laughed."

And that's really it... because of our mortality, every situation has a duality of emotion to it. In the long run, what's important? The good times? The bad? What do we remember? And how do we remember it?

I find that in hindsight, so much of what I thought was terrrible isn't all bad. In time, what was novel and amazing becomes routine and commonplace. Those objects and ideas that remain static lose their value over time. Only the dynamic, living entities and ideas stay with us through time.

This is one of the reasons why deriving meaning from material possessions is a lost cause. I find that even for objects whose monetary value increases over time, its personal significance to me still dwindles. Really, the only things that I have which have stayed with me through time are my relationships.

This is another step in realizing the fallacy of acquiring material goods excessively...

PGP Signed Entry

July 10, 2003

More Ad Clarification

Okay, one more thing about ads, and then that's it on this evil topic for a while.

If an ad insults my intelligence, it's gone. I don't care what it's advertising, or how much I believe in the site that is hosting it. That is, if it's a fake dialog box (these have acquired a particular humor ever since I made the Switch) or something telling me that "if this annoying fucking ad is shaking and being even more fucking annoying than all the other ads you've won! so click here and collect your dumbass award!" or if it somehow thinks that I want to cover my tracks on my own computer so my spouse or children don't see what sites I'm going to. And any ad that moves my window, changes its size, takes it over, or does anything except present a small message that I can view in peace, dies.

PGP Signed Entry


Actually, let me clarify something about blocking ads. As I stated in the last entry, I know that a lot of sites depend on their ad revenue. I do not block all ads carte blanche. In fact, I am pretty careful about which sites I allow to show ads.

In particular, I allow independent sites (an unscientific definition of "independent" being anything that I don't think is "The Man") to show ads. Sometimes I even follow those links... But I definitely don't need any more of the media establishment telling me what I'm supposed to like.

So the bottom line is this: I still think most ads are annoying. But I'm willing to pay the price in annoyance for certain sites. But not for others. It's a refinement of my general philosophy on the importance of researching and thinking through choices before you make them, so that you know you are supporting what you think you are supporting with your choice.

PGP Signed Entry


One of the coolest features of Mozilla is the "Block Images from this Server" item in the context menu. It allows you to block annoying advertisements from web pages, but one of the more annoying things about it is that you have to configure it every time a new ad comes up, and it works only based on the server the ad comes from, so if you're up against an ad that is hosted by a server that also hosts legit pictures, you'll have to endure those ads. Plus it doesn't work against the far more annoying Flash ads.

Well, not anymore. I was going to make a feature request to the Mozilla team to include Flash blocking in a future version, but I found that many others already had. And, even better, that there is an add-on that accomplishes most of what I would like: AdBlock.

I'm not even going to go into a discussion here about the morals of blocking ads. Look, I know a lot of these sites rely on their ad revenue stream, and I hate to deprive them of that. But the bottom line is this: if the ads weren't so fucking annoying, I wouldn't be going through all this trouble to block 'em. So there.

PGP Signed Entry

Just when I thought all hope was lost...

Just this weekend I'd declared to the Yuke that I wasn't going to try to make 1K on United this year because they'd taken away the two biggest reasons to do the extra 50,000 miles over just Premier Exec: the 1K lounges and Systemwide Upgrades that are actually useful to me. This year, they made the Systemwides only useable on H and above fares, which means that I'd end up paying more than double the lower fares for the upgrade. Perhaps this is a fair trade, but I didn't think it was much of a reward for my loyalty.

Apparently, someone over there was paying attention. I received four upgrade certificates today which are, as far as I can tell, equivalent to the old ones. I'll have to see if this is a trend that will continue as the airline emerges from bankruptcy. Eventually, I'd like to see the 1K lounges restored, but if the Systemwides go back to being useful, that alone may be good enough for now to keep me a 1K.

PGP Signed Entry

July 7, 2003

Obscenity in Art

Jon Stewart recently interviewed Kelly Clarkson, the American Idol winner, on The Daily Show. It was mostly a bunch of BS, but a particular comment made by Kelly disturbed me. She was appearing on the show to promote her new movie, and Jon asked her if the movie was appropriate for children. Her response was a lot of canned promotional BS, mentioning that the film was rated PG, etc... but one part of her response compared her movie to The Shawshank Redemption. She implied that people should feel better about taking their kids to see her movie than Shawshank. It was a pretty off the cuff remark, something like, "Yeah, of course kids can come to this movie! It's not like The Shawshank Redemption or anything..."

I'm not really trying to rag on her for shameless promotion of her movie, but I found the remark rather narrowminded. I'm certain she was referring to the very frequent and unbridled use of obscenity in Shawshank, and while I haven't seen her movie, I'm guessing based on the PG rating and the context of her response, it doesn't use bad words and there probably isn't much violence.

But here's my problem with this: despite the use of profanity and violence, Shawshank is full of themes that I would want my children to learn about. I would go so far as to say that I'd rather have my children watch Shawshank *with me* than Kelly's movie. I mean, c'mon: the triumph of the human spirit over incredible odds and injustice or the triumph of greed and marketing over the creative medium and a mindless public? The important thing is to talk about the themes in the movie and focus on the message they should be taking from the movie afterwards.

I find all these people who count violent acts and swear words in movies and songs such narrowminded sheep with blinders on to the world. Rather than rendering judgment on art based on the presence of arbitrary words and actions, consider the themes the art stands for. The spirit of art is far more important than any single component.

PGP Signed Entry

July 4, 2003

URL Change

Y'all are going to hate me for this, but I've changed the URL reported by MT in the RPC ping, to a properly formatted "http://www.jetlin.com/blog/" rather than the "http://www.jetlin.com/blog" it has been for a year. I don't know how this got changed and how I failed to notice it for a year, but now it's back to being correct. Probably at the expense of everyone's blogtrackers, but I'm a stickler for proper formatting...

Oh and happy 4th of July, whether you celebrate it as Independence Day or not.

PGP Signed Entry

July 2, 2003

Temperament Sorter

Got wind of this little Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test.

I've taken a bunch of these in the past, and I think they've been pretty good at characterizing me in general. I certainly don't think one should be changing their life based on a couple of multiple choice tests, but they are informative and amusing.

I was typed eNTj by this test, what Keirsey calls a fieldmarshal. Aside from the cool sounding term, it seems to be pretty close on a lot of areas. Here's another description.

Anyway, the test at least confirms the ideas vs. implementation thing I wrote about yesterday.

PGP Signed Entry

July 1, 2003

Occupations Explorations

One of the things that I never got as part of my education was a grasp of all the various professions and industries that make up the economic engine of our civilization. It was really only after I graduated from college and started working that I got a taste of all the different kinds of jobs and industries out there. And honestly, I never got a chance to explore how I might fit into all the various professions and industries. I'd wager that most people don't get that chance in their entire lifetime.

That's why I'm doing what I'm doing this summer. This summer is about finding out everything I can about as many industries and professions as I can find. When I started thinking about this, I realized just how little I knew about the jobs out there, how people did them, and how they fit into a bigger picture. And I've had a lot of experience working in a lot of different industries, so I would say that I know far more about a lot of industries than the vast majority of people out there. This is from my previous jobs, as well as the experience I've gained from my education and in my informal contacts with people.

Why are we taught everything in school except for what's truly important in life? Looking back on my education, this is the one area that it failed me. But I got what most would consider a top-notch education throughout my life... does this mean that the system failed everyone? Unfortunately, from what I've been able to gather in this informal study, yes, it has.

The explorations of occupations need to go beyond "this is what a fireman does" and "I want to be an astronaut one day." Never once in my entire educational history did I get the chance to learn about, say, how each person that touches an advertisement in the newspaper gets involved in its production, from the idea to the copy writer, to the photographer, to the layout editor, to the graphic designer, to the ad agency executive, to the sales account manager at the paper, to the pressman.... etc.... WHY???

How am I supposed to find out how I can contribute to our society if all I'm taught is how to add, subtract, take integrals, the history of Valley Forge, the effect of antihistamines, LaPlace transforms, the Gauss-Green Theorem, the Hall Effect, GaAs doping, the half-life of Radium, ortho-para directors, truth tables, stochastic forecasting, how to read a balance sheet, GAAP, the biometric properties of Polymethylmethacrylate... but not a peep about the jobs that are available to me and how I can fit into them? (Yes, I learned all those things and more in my education.)

In short, I was given all the tools I needed to build a meaningful contribution to society, but I was left out in the woods without a clue where I could go to apply the wonderful tools I'd been given.

Maybe y'all made your explorations years ago, when you were still kids thinking about what you wanted to do when you grew up. But I personally feel like I got jipped out of that because I never got a real chance to see what all these things were about... so how could I know what I wanted to be when I grew up? Did everyone else get to explore all the jobs out there when they were in high school? Or did they, like me, choose a major half based on what their parents and friends thought, and half based on what they thought they were good at (and enjoyed) in school?

Well, I've decided to take this time to do this exploration now, when I still have time to take. There is a place I will be able to make a meaningful contribution to our society, in a place that I enjoy, and in an industry that I find exciting. I am going to take the time, money, and effort now to find it. I've been contacting certain target people I've personally identified as starting points, but now I want to broaden this effort by asking you to contribute to my explorations.

I want to know what you do for a living, what industry you work in, what role you play in making your contribution, how you view your work and your life, how you view your company, how you view the greater picture from where you stand in your job, and most of all, I'd like have a dialogue about your perceptions. If you'd like to respond with a comment, that's great, but really I'd like to speak with you or at least exchange some e-mails. If you wouldn't mind giving me some of your time, please e-mail me at 0307fet@jetlin.com.

Thanks, and I hope that my explorations end up benefitting far more than just myself.

PGP Signed Entry

The Pay Scale What If?

Have you ever wondered why the pay scale in our society is set up the way it is? Why do CEOs of major corporations make millions, even when they are failing by all measures? Why do teachers find it so difficult to make ends meet, even though their students have gone on to make wonderful contributions to society? Why does a dedicated janitor, who arrives at work before his boss, who has never missed a day of work, whose work gives the people in his building a healthier environment, get looked down upon by this society and its pay scale?

What if...

we were paid by how well we did our jobs? And not what our jobs are?

success was measured by how well we did the jobs we were asked to do? And not measured by titles?

I believe each individual has a set of talents unique unto themselves, and the measure of success should be how well each individual applies their talents in their respective profession. It would give people incentive to do what they want to do instead of what someone else says they should do to be successful. Compensation is a large measure of the success of an individual in our society. Whether this is the way it should be or not is beyond the scope of this entry, but if we assume that it is, then compensation should be based upon how well one does their job, not on what their job is.

Imagine the world if a great teacher could be a milliionaire. The CEOs of failing companies would be broke. A mechanic that efficiently puts your car back on the road is paid as much as the CEO of their company, because both are doing a fine job irrespective of what their jobs are.

One of the concepts we need to change as a society is the idea of a corporate ladder, and the idea that climbing it is the only way to realize success. We need to find a better way, and we need more people out there saying, "What if?..."

PGP Signed Entry


One of the things that I've come to recognize in myself over the years is that I am an ideas person, not an implementation person. Here is a prime example...

I ordered up an iGo Juice power adapter today. It's a 70W max AC and DC input, power converter for laptops and accessories. In short, it's the ultimate power adapter for your laptop, because it allows you to power your laptop from all conceivable power sources (Airline, Car, and AC power outlets). It reduces the weight travelers have to carry with them because they only need one power brick now instead of separate bricks for AC and DC.

It is also an idea that I had years ago. I'm sure a lot of other people had this idea at some point too, maybe even people with the technical knowledge to make it happen. But so far, I've only seen one company that markets a product like it. So there's a bunch of people out there who are in the same boat as myself... for whatever reason, they didn't see their idea through.

Now, this isn't to say that I'm somehow incapable of handling details. I do happen to be pretty good at logistics and planning, but if you can imagine a spectrum where the extremes are "total ideas" and "total details" I'm definitely more on the ideas side of that spectrum.

This is one of the considerations that I'll be taking into account as I explore the next contribution I make to society. It's something that I just wasn't entirely made aware of during years of schooling, and it's something that I think people need to recognize in order to best find their contribution to society. It's one of the big reasons why I'm taking time off right now to evaluate my options.

PGP Signed Entry