Good Show But I'm Getting Old

My band, Fairmount Chase, played a benefit gig last night. We rented a room in a local tavern downtown and had some bins for the local food bank. Lots of work people and friends of band the band showed up. We played three sets and had dancers a-plenty. At the end of the night, we had to tear everything down and load it all out. A five-piece band has a lot of gear! Driving home, my feet were killing me. Today, I feel like I have been run over. And we still had to unload our stuff into our practice space in the basement of the VFW. It's a lot of fun to play with these guys, and we draw fun and engaging crowds, but I wish we could hire some roadies. I suppose gigging in the future will be a lot easier: a band will just use the transporter (a la Star Trek) to beam there gear to the venue and back. Hopefully I will live that long.

Unfortunately, Jakki had to work, and my parents had a dancing engagement, so I don't have any photos of the gig to the post. I'm thinking that I might need to ask Santa for a video camera, so I can begin building up a video library of the band to put on youtube for potential venue owners to look at.

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Back In The Saddle Again

Last night I played with a band for the first time in several years. It was lots of fun, and they are an easy-going bunch. My playing is still pretty rusty, but I was surprised I could keep up on songs I didn't think I knew very well. It will be hard work to get back in shape for regular playing, but I'm looking forward to it-- revisiting a large portion of my life is worth it to me. The band is called [Fairmount Chase](http://www.fairmountchase.com/) and hopefully we'll be playing out in Spokane soon. Now I'm off to ice down my fingers again...
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10 Gallons of Awesome In A 5 Gallon Pail

I just found out today (via [Felicia Day on Twitter](http://twitter.com/feliciaday), strangely enough) that they are making a movie of [Where the Wild Things Are](http://www.amazon.com/Where-Wild-Things-Maurice-Sendak/dp/0060254920) by Maurice Sendak. It's got Catherine Keener, Max Records, Mark Ruffalo, Lauren Ambrose, and James Gandolfini in it, and it's directed by Spike Jonze (director of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation). Check out the [trailer here](http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/wherethewildthingsare/). When I was a kid, this was one of my favorite books my mom read to me. Now they just need to adapt [A Great Big Ugly Man Came Up and Tied His Horse To Me](http://www.amazon.com/Great-Ugly-Came-Tied-Horse/dp/0316852813).
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Thoughts On Coding

The other day I had a very lively conversation about programming with my friends Pat & Warren. To paraphrase: Warren put forth the idea that coding is a lot like playing a game, and that game theory can be loosely applied to it. This led us to the idea that programmers *play* at building software, and in doing so, fall into two basic categories. Bear in mind, these are not absolutes, but merely ends of a spectrum that a coder can shift along over time. 1. The first type of coder/gamer is a person who likes the result of the game. They like the feeling that comes along with winning, or completing a level. If you played a dungeon-type discovery game such as Diablo with this person, generally they would be the person to reach the end of a level first. And then probably complain that you are taking too long. They enjoy the _completion_ more than the act of _playing_. In fact, to them, the idea of _playing_ is just the sum of all the completed levels so far. These types shall be known as the Completors. 2. The second type of coder/gamer is a person who likes the exploration and interaction of the game. Winning or completing a level is a secondary or nth-erary aspect of the game. These people will want to explorer every possible room in a dungeon, possibly returning to visited rooms just to check "if anything new has shown up". Obviously, this drives the type 1s crazy, as these archetypes enjoy the act of _playing_ more than _completion_. Personally, this is the group I tend to fall into. These types shall be known as the Wanderers. So which is better? I don't believe the question is nearly as cut and dried as that. From a business point of view, *results matter*, and it would seem that a gang of Completors would the best team to create a business-critical on-time and under-budget enterprise-level highly-available software solution. Let me pause for a moment here, to let my jargon buffer refill. I think that a good level of success can be had with a group of coders more toward the Completor end of the spectrum. But that comes with a price. Because Completors are so results-oriented, once they find a good solution or strategy to beat "the game", they will just continue to apply it over and over. Why fix it if it ain't broke? The problem with the security of these repeatable results is that the world of software (and the world of games) marches on at a blistering pace. New [technologies](http://www.dotnetkicks.com/) and [methodologies](http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000856.html) spring up like dandelions in the summer. I personally spend a good deal of time just trying to keep up with a small amount of the New Stuff. Completors tend to shy away from personal growth and exploration because that's their nature. Over a career, or many careers, this can lead to a certain amount of software stagnation. Now let's look at the Wanderers. You might think after that last paragraph, that you _really_ want a team of Wanderers! Unfortunately, that group has some downsides as well: They tend to be the worst estimators ever. Some projects, because the game space is so large, will never actually reach completion. When faced with a very structured deadline or result, Wanderers may fail (for certain values of failure). Because the idea of exploration and self growth is very important, Wanderers tend to not have as much loyalty or "team spirit" as Completors. So what's the final answer? Just like in many things in life-- I believe that moderation is key. A group that is a well-mixed solution of different levels of these elements will reap benefits greater than the sum of it's parts. Wanderers will inspire and enlighten the Completors, The Completors will keep the Wanderers on the right track, possibly dragging them over the finish line with them. As a manager, or project leader, I think that understanding these two archetypes and using their strengths and weaknesses together can make for a most potent team. After all, who wants to play Diablo with a group solely consisting of Barbarians?
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Sad Birthday for Mom

Yesterday Mom & Dad had to put their kitty Prudie to sleep. She had been sick for awhile and had the vets flummoxed. She was a very loving kitty and I think they had her for almost fourteen years. In Lucky's later years, we used to bring him down to visit Mom & Dad, and he and Prudie got on well, so she'll have a buddy up in Kitty Heaven. Rest in peace Prudie, we'll miss you.
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Brits to Remake Triffids

Now there is a title I never would have imagined. [The Day of the Triffids](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055894/) was one of my favorite B-grade horror movie staples. I was turned on to it by my uncle Paul when I was a small lad. I guess in the early 80s, the BBC did [a remake](http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/classic/triffids/), but I never saw it. Today I noticed (albeit about 30 days post facto), that the BBC is making yet another [TV serial remake](http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/nov/27/day-of-the-triffids-bbc). I am looking forward to finding a copy!
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Snow Day

We've had quite the dumping here in the Inland Northwest. 22 inches last time I measured, and it's still coming down. Jakki had a hair-raising commute home this morning, and she got stuck just a few blocks from the house. Emelie and I walked down to dig her out, and got stuck again just two doors down. Finally we got to our cleared driveway and got the car in the garage. Later on, the news they mentioned that all bus service was suspended because of the storm and the fact that the snow removal teams can't get a handle on it. I posted [some pics](http://picasaweb.google.com/kellytadams/Blizzard2008#) in our [photo gallery](http://picasaweb.google.com/kellytadams/). Note the abandoned U-Haul in the intersection. That's never a good sign. Since we are effectively snowed in, I'm working from home, although the internet keeps going up and down. We have plenty of food, and since we had the trees pruned this fall, I'm not worried about the power going out. The new furnace is keeping us nice and warm as well.
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Turkey Day Is Here!

The annual feasting ritual that is American Thanksgiving is upon us. Cooking schedules have been made, trips and extra trips and extra emergency trips to the store have been executed. This year marks a first-- because Jakki is working, she will have to sleep all day to prepare for her graveyard shift tonight. The downside of that is no magical Sweet Potato Corn Bread Stuffing with Greens. Emelie is on point for most of fixings this year, so we are looking forward to sampling her wares. Another first is Mom blogging the whole procedure on their [new blog](http://patrickrandi.blogspot.com/2008/11/thanksgiving.html). It's been over five years since this blog began, and it's finally starting to rub off on the late-adopters. This year, I'm thankful that everyone [EDIT: everyone _in our time zone_] can be together so easily, and that everyone is healthy. How about you?
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Online Christmas Lists

This year we are going to try to use online Christmas lists using Amazon's Wish List functionality. Feel free to browse: - Kelly's list is [here](http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/31ZE8QTKX24FK). - Jakki's list is [here](http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/2DW19QCK4ODW5). Let us know if there aren't enough choices or price ranges. This sure beats circling items in the Sears catalog (like we used to do years ago)!
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The Death of Customer Service

Yesterday Jakki and I became proud owners of EA's [Rock Band](http://www.rockband.com/) (Special Edition) for Wii. We bought it at Wal-Mart. There was only one package left and the box had a bit of damage; but I thought, "Hey, it's Wal-Mart, they'll take it back if anything is wrong." Right? Wrong! The trend I've noticed is that manufacturers are now putting documentation inside the package that forbids you from dealing with the store you purchased the item from, and forcing you to deal directly with the manufacturer. Such was the case we discovered upon opening Rock Band. Upon further inspection, it appears some hapless fork-lift driver tried to drive _through_ a stack of Rock Bands and impaled the one destined for us. The drumset component was totally destroyed. After some choice phrases, I quickly logged onto EA's support website (as provided in the "Thou Shalt Not Deal With Thy Store" insert). After a miserable experience with some poorly crafted PHP pages and a 3-5 day "Express" service, I'm out a $125 deposit (insurance that I will indeed send the broken unit back). Wow. This is not the first time I've noticed such a trend. We purchased a Hoover FloorMate from BestBuy a few weeks ago, and in it's package was a similar "Do Not Go To Store, Do Not Pass Go" insert. Fortunately for us, the FloorMate was intact. The part of this I find disturbing (in addition to the 3-5 day wait for replacement and the $125 deposit), is that the manufacturers have lost faith in the level of customer service that the stores that carry their merchandise provide. Is it that the Wal-Marts and BestBuys of the world have gotten so big, and their profit margins so "wafer thin", that they can no longer provide the level of service that customers have come to expect from the manufacturers? I see this as a failing of the free market economy because of two reasons: 1- If the manufacturer is going to force the customer to deal directly with them for "customer service", then what stake does the store have in treating their merchandise like it was their own? 2- How can the manufacturer *ever* hope to provide a level of customer service better than a place I can drive to conveniently? Despite these market forces aligning against us, and Big Corp. trying to keep us down-- Jakki and I played late into the night. She on vocals and me on guitar/bass, our band, "The Analogues", made it into Act IV.
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Jakki Adams, RN

Jakki passed the NCLEX! It was a huge relief for her, and for me by proxy. It's official on the Washington State Dept. of Health site [here](https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/providercredentialsearch/ProviderDetail_1.aspx?CredentialIdnt=905427). Jakki has her first shift as an RN tonight in the ER at [Holy Family Hospital](http://www.holy-family.org/) in north Spokane. Thanks to everyone who supported her, here at the conclusion of her journey.
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