October 14, 2008: Day Two of Swimming

38 Days to Baby Day! (34 Weeks and Four Days Pregnant)

13 Work Days Left for Dominica; House closing scheduled in 7 days.

Joel Spolsky had a great article in Inc. recently on the dangers of paying commissions.  This is an extension of the greater concepts that surround the flowed ideas of organizational measurability.  Often the MBA kids in the offices are so disconnected with the real world that they assume that they can simple apply metrics that determine desired outcome and apply incentives to tweak the output to those metrics.  According to Harvard professor Robert Austin in his book “Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations“, this type of behaviour always fails and I agree.  I have been arguing for some time for this point and have written a few articles already about it myself.  Joel Spolsky: How Hard Could It Be?: Sins of Commissions.

I am happy to announce that the Pandora, the hot, open, handheld Linux video game console has sold outs its initial run!  Cross your fingers, this could bode extremely well for the handheld and Linux based gaming circles.  One of the really neat things is that games built for the Pandora are likely to run on standard Linux as well making it a very attractive target platform.

My body was not ready to get up this morning extra early after having swum yesterday.  I am pretty soar and tired.  My brain was ready to get up but my body was not.

Oreo, who visited the doggy hospital yesterday, seems to be feeling much better this morning.  He is exhausted still, but that is to be expected considering that he is on some medicine for his itching that might be making him extra tired and the allergies themselves might be wearing on him as well.  The important thing is that he is not really scratching himself this morning and they said that he did not seem to be scratching while at daycare yesterday either.

Steve, from the moving company, arrived at ten till seven and the inspection was done by around a quarter after.  Dominica was able to hang around to be here and ask questions during the inspection which was helpful.

Today was a good day to get an early start on my walk in because it was warmer than it has been and rather humid.  Surprisingly humid for mid-October.  I stopped by Airlie Cafe to pick up a bagel for my walk and was just finishing it at the corner of Raymond and the McCarter Highway when I ran into Linnea who was also walking to the train station so we had a chance to talk although she was not taking the PATH so we did not get to talk for very long.

I stopped by Modell’s Sporting Goods on Broadway on my way to the office to pick up a pair of swim goggles.  I had managed to make do swimming without them yesterday but it was not nearly as pleasant as it would be if I were to have them so I made a point of looking for a pair on my walk.  Speedo apparently no longer sells the hard plastic goggles that I used to prefer so I am stuck trying some softer, wimpier goggles that I have serious doubts about.  Hopefully plastics engineering has outpaced my cynicism.

I actually forgot to turn onto Wall Street today and ended up walking an extra three-quarters of a mile down past Bowling Green.  At least it was a nice walk and I got some extra exercise.  Not that I need it today after having swum yesterday.  I am really feeling it today, but that is a good sign.  Exercise that doesn’t hurt is a waste of time.

My morning was pretty busy.  Everyone is getting back into the swing of work and there is plenty that needs to be done.  For food, Dan and I grabbed quick sandwiches from the shop just outside and ate quickly while sitting out on the East River enjoying the weather and looking at Brooklyn’s skyline.

Today, while reading about Scheme, I found that MIT makes available the complete text of their classic “Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs” online for free.  This book varies from many computer science texts in that it uses Lisp, and not C, as the basis for its teaching.  Specifically, SICP uses the Scheme variant of Lisp which I have installed on my desktop and with which I have been playing.  Scheme is fun.  I like the way that makes me think differently about programming.  Working with it today I came to realize that my old HP Calculator was actually a simple Lisp programming environment.

On her lunch break today Dominica ran out to do shopping for the boxes and other packing materials that we need to get the apartment ready for the movers.  The movers estimated that we will be needing approximately forty-five boxes to move our tiny, little apartment!  It is a good thing that we have the Mazda already.  Those boxes would not even fit into the BMW.

My afternoon was pretty hectic.  We had some major system hardware problems today that kept me busy all day.  I really never got any sort of a break.  I did not get a chance to go to the gym with Dan until after four.  It was a shorter day today than yesterday, but I am very glad that I went and am getting some momentum going.  I really enjoy going to the gym in the middle of the day.  It makes me feel good.

It was five when we got back to the office.  I had tons left to do and ended up working until long after seven in the evening.  What a long day.

I found out yesterday that SquareEnix’s Final Fantasy XIII has been announced fairly recently for the XBOX 360 in addition to the PS3.  As Dominica and I both really detest Sony and as the XBOX is far less expensive than the PS3 and since this title was the one game making us really feel confident that the PS3 was for us – it really seems as though an inexpensive 360 will be a much better choice.  FF13 and Assassin’s Creed and I will be good to go.  Not many titles in which I have much interest but it only takes a few to make a console really worth while.  I have one or two older XBOX games like Shenmue II that I will happily spend some time playing on the 360 as well that I already own.  So it will get some use right away.  I hope that we have an opportunity to have one before Christmas, but that might be just a little bit ambitious.  I am going to be awfully busy between now and then.

I am really looking forward to being able to play video games with my child.  That is one of the coolest things about being the parent of a child of this generation.  Unlike my generation whose parents, by and large, were unable to really grasp the overarching concepts behind video games which created a bit of a chasm between the generations, my generation gets to use video games as a bonding experience with our kids.  Just look at the Ralstons who love to play games like Age of Empires II together – that is a vastly more “family oriented” activity than, say, watching television.

It is strange for me to think that the XBOX 360 and Nintendo Wii (we already have the Wii and the 360 will definitely join it before the end of 2009) will be to my child very similar to the Atari 2600 to me.  The Atari 2600 (a.k.a. the Atari VCS up until I was about six years old when the 2600 moniker arrived) was introduced when I was just one years old and was the video game system of my early memories.  Even though the Wii and 360 are years older in comparison to my child’s pending age they will be in a similar memory slot and will be practically identical to Dominica’s recollection of the 2600 since it game out about a year before she was born.

Video games are very different now, though, and now they represent more of an interactive literary experience rather than simple, mind-numbing time wasting.  The Atari 2600 left much to be desired in the interaction department.  Those were simple days that I do not regret having been a bit too young to have truly been mired.  Now video games have depth and excitement.  My child will likely have quite an amazing experience getting to play a huge available backlog of gaming classics (more than they could ever hope to play through) along with an amazing array of games that we cannot even yet imagine.  Getting to see the world of video gaming through a child’s eyes, again, is going to be a lot of fun.

It was almost nine when I got home to Eleven80.  I keep timing the trip casually and I am not sure if the commute to and from Peekskill is really going to be that much longer than the trip to and from Newark.  Having a published train schedule and not walking the bit at the end (the half mile each direction from Eleven80 to Penn Station) might make more of a difference than I realize.  Or, possible, the door to door time will be much longer than I am anticipating and that will be awful.  I think that realistically it takes me quite a bit more than an hour to get from Eleven80 to the end of Wall Street.  The walk is so far that it really adds a ton of extra time to the trip, but the exercise is obviously very good for me.

Dominica couldn’t decide on dinner so just had me pick up McDonald’s from Penn Station in Newark on my way home.  That is so convenient that it is tempting to do it all of the time but we try to avoid that whenever possible.  Tonight it was just meatless Big Macs and French Fries for us and a fruit and yogurt parfait for Dominica as well.  Oreo was very happy.  McD’s fries are his all time favourite food.

While eating dinner we watched a little of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  Only two episodes which is approximately forty-five minutes.  One of the advantages of using AppleTV to watch television (or Tivo or other means of non-traditional time shifting) is that we get fifty percent better content density without any marketing affecting the way that we think.  So we get to shave fifteen minutes off of every hour of television shows compared to regular television while getting the same amount of content.  It makes watching a few shows a lot less of an impact on our evening.

Dominica went to bed around ten.  I stayed up a little longer just watching some podcasts from the AppleTV.  I watched some video game trailers to see what is coming out as I am pretty out of touch with the video game world these days.

Podcasting is really the format for video game news, I think.  The topic is so accessible to everyone and all that anyone cares about in video game journalism is either previews or reviews.  To provide previews you pretty much just need to republish trailers from the vendors or get your hands on an early copy and make some previews.  To do reviews you just need one or more people to play the game for a while and tell people what they think.  A reviewer in a major gaming rag or just a serious amateur player have the same potential to provide reviews that are useful to you.  With lots of amateurs you are more likely to find someone with similar tastes to your own which is more useful than a handful of staff gamers.

The video format is far better for video games too.  Looking at static images in a paper-based magazine does little to convey the emotion of the game.  Just watching a video of the game only does so much as well but at least you can see the animation, the effects and hear the score.  It is far more engaging.

So it was around eleven, most likely, when I finally got to sleep.  I could barely stay in the bed as Oreo was snuggling as close as he could and was pushing me right off of the side of the bed.  Tomorrow I am in Warren so I will be up nice and early.

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