another warm day
Tuesday, April 24 2001
My Athlon heatsink came in the mail today when I was home for lunch, so all afternoon it danced like a sugar plum in my head. The best thing to do to pass the time in such situations is to work especially hard, so that's what I did. At work, for lack of someone more qualified (or less over-qualified, as the case may be), suddenly I'm doing bleeding-edge front end work. I'm gradually picking up on the XSL markup infra-language, the latest, greatest Microsoft web technology. The irony is that within the gutted development departments of the great dotcom shakeout there just aren't that many people learning this heavily-promoted "scalability solution." It's nothing like the halcyon days ruled by Java and ASP.
In the evening I was unexpectedly successful at getting Windows NT 4 going on my Athlon box. Not only that, but I got it working on my little local network too. In my several years of professional computer work I've used LINUX/Free BSD servers, NT servers, NT workstations, Macintosh systems 6-9, Windows 95-ME, and the happiest I've ever been has been with Windows NT 4.0. It runs quickly on fairly old hardware, crashes only rarely, and (best of all) can run a vast array of software, including stuff that I know how to write.
As I played with my new toys, watching blue thermometers snaking at completely random rates across screens, I found myself listening to the radio. One of the most amusing exchanges I heard was during the show Which Way LA? on KCRW, the Santa Monica public radio station. The host was semi-mockingly quizzing a representative from a California homeowners association about the effect outdoor laundry drying might have on property values. It turns out (and I didn't know this) that Californians actually use more energy drying their clothes than they do air conditioning their homes. With the looming energy crisis, some politicians are expected to take the radical step of asking people to start drying their laundry on clotheslines, property values (and what the neighbors might think) be damned. I hadn't even considered this aspect of the typically self-conscious Californian, eager to conceal his laundry drying indoors for fear of being thought odd (or, God forbid, poor) by his neighbors. Even during this energy crisis, with rolling blackouts threatening the lives of grandfathers on respirators, people are worried about their neighbors seeing them drying their laundry outdoors. And they're also worried about what will happen to property values if their neighbors should start drying their laundry outdoors. Prospective real estate buyers will come through town and see all that laundry flapping in the breeze and think of the place as third world, where real estate can be had for scratch and dent prices.
In order to keep from sounding completely ridiculous, the homeowners association guy had to agree that energy conservation is probably necessary in these exceptional times. His opinion was that if everyone in a neighborhood agreed to hang out their laundry, then no one person would feel too weird about being the only person hanging out his laundry. And if hanging out laundry is used as just a temporary measure during this particular crisis, why then it will have practically no effect on real estate prices at all. As soon as the oil starts flowing from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge we can all stop embarrassing ourselves with our low rent behavior and go back to drying our clothes the way God intended back when He created the Carboniferous, that is, with machines. At that point our precious real estate prices can pick up right where they left off. Who knows, maybe you should hang onto your SUV. I've heard that they, like hair metal, may be poised for a comeback.
Later on I watched a show on the Discovery Channel in which various
criminals were being captured by smart police people using the miracles of modern forensics. None of the forensics were as simple as going to a criminal's web page and reading detailed descriptions of how he'd performed his crimes.
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