blarg?

Unusually quick updates today, as a veritable flood of
delectable imagery has been gracing the ether in my vicinity.

My dad and I don’t always see eye to eye – it’s taken me a long
time to understand why that is, but my current theory is that it’s
because he’s on my mom’s side, who I also don’t always see eye
to eye with, but on a slightly more agressive schedule. That said,
he’s still one of the coolest people in known space, and I’m going to
provide the general public with the tiniest sliver of why that
might be the case: he’s just come back a few weeks ago from the href"http://parkscanada.pch.gc.ca/parks/nwtw/nahanni/nahanni_e.htm"
target="_top">Nahanni River, down which he canoed with his good
friend Roy. He came back with a brand-new, never-before-seen beard,
and now looks like Dad Of The Mountain. I present to you the evolution
of Dad Of The Mountain in these photos:


  1. Fort Simpson, 1st and 2nd flights out, Moose Ponds


  2. Moose Ponds to bottom of Rock Garden, Hollywood, Wendy with Birthday Cake


  3. Moore’s Hot Spring, Double Rainbows, Nahanni Gothic


  4. Rafting Lunch, Ragged Range, Arrival at Park


  5. Rabbitkettle Lake, Tufa Mounds, Arrival at Virginia Falls


  6. Virginia Falls


  7. virginia Falls, 4th Canyon, Figure 8, Start of Pulpet Rock Hike


  8. Pulpet Rock Hike, to Prairie Creek


  9. George’s Riffle, 1st Canyon, White Spray Spring, Krauss’s Hot Spring


  10. The Splits, Nahanni Butt, Blackstone Landing, Welcome Home in Ottawa

target="_top">Madhava has very graciously sent me some href="http://neon.polkaroo.net/~enros/pics/beachhoyewedding/"
target="_top">pictures of the wedding. Many thanks, Madhava.
Photoshop, here I come

Another weekend, another wedding, lately.

My sister was married to Michael Beach this weekend, and again,
things went swimmingly. There were a few hiccups, this time around –
the venue was the much more public National Museum of Civilization,
with all the problems that letting the hoi-polloi wander about
unfettered can produce at these otherwise civilized events. Nothing
of any crisis, of course; most of the crises were created by
the actual staff of the museum. You’d think that if the fatal
allergy
of a certain, important participant in the whole
event was actually written into the contract, that there wouldn’t
be big hunks of that particular ingredient visibly obvious in the
dessert. Thankfully, nothing came of that – the entire evening went
very, very well. There were some hiccups, but nothing that didn’t
roll off the collective back. The band, the Custums, was great –
they’re the wedding-band version of the always-fun JiveWires. We
had just three of them early in the evening, playing some light
background music at the beginning of the ceremony. They played
“As Time Goes By” as the bride walked down the aisle, a tune I’ve
listened to before, but never really heard. Antoine played it for
the first dance of the evening at his wedding last week, in an odd
coincidence. It’s a very tasteful (tasty, in fact) piece of music,
and it was a very nice touch to the whole thing.

While we weren’t going for a speed record here, or so I’m told,
there was a certain alacrity to the whole thing. Rallying the troops
took some time – I ushed like a man possessed, perhaps by the
tormented soul of some failed and long-dead wedding usher who choked
on the big day. Once we got everyone down to the helipad my brother
and I queued up to escort my mom down with the rest of the bridal
parade, excuse me, procession, and we processed with all the stately
grace and dignity you would expect from two betuxed young men whose
shiny plastic shoes were killing them. The ceremony itself, though,
happened at a high rate of speed; yes, they both Do, kiss kiss, yes,
move along, nothing to see here, group photo and then up the stairs
for hors d’oeuvres.

Speaking to Pierre and Michelle just after that group photo,
I tried to mention to them that there would be hors d’oeuvres,
but I stalled for a moment trying to figure out exactly what the
french word for “hors d’oeuvres” was. Personal note: idiocy bad,
good way to look silly. Way to go, Mike. Rah Rah Rah.

I have a sinking feeling that the photos are going to come out
only so-so, at least the ones I was party to. I tried to put on my
best looks when the camera-woman said “Look over here… Ok, great”
but somehow felt like I had quickly faded back to dour before she
pulled the trigger. There is an agonizingly long delay between that
assurance of greatness and the actual taking of the photo, which
I think you’ll find I like to punctuate by looking at my shoes,
closing my eyes and looking pained or simply by making long vowel
sounds and staring at nothing in particular.

While I don’t think I’m a miserable person all of the time,
I definitely don’t fake enthusiasm well, and even when I am
enthusiastic about something I don’t usually have the kind of
wide-eyed, big-toothed happyface that people insist makes for good
photos. Even under ideal circumstances, I take a wretched photograph;
my face has roughly the same effect on film that lemon juice has
on cream, and being exhorted to pose for the occasion just starts
a vicious downward spiral. I hate posing for pictures of any kind,
and I hate it with a visceral passion that H. P. Lovecraft might have
a hard time framing in words; being told to smile when I actually
am smiling just pisses me off, and being told smile when I’m pissed
off just makes my mood curl in on itself like a hangnail.

This is hardly a fair assessment of the wedding, though; I never
made it to the recursive stage of my mood swings despite the ongoing
photographic efforts of the actual wedding photographer and her
dozens of unholy partygoer-with-camera minions, which surprised
me. Truly, despite our differences I’m genuinely happy for my sister
and Beach. There’s going to be a bunch of great photos from that
whole ceremony, and I hope I’ve held up my end. Congratulations to
both of you, if you’re reading this, and good luck. It was a great
party, and it was great to see a lot of people all dressed up and
suitably indrinkulated for the occasion. Great conversations, great
music, great food… once I can move from one great to another like
that, as long as I don’t have to hold onto one of them and get all
toothy, I can stay smiling all evening.

Lots of love, Kristen, and to my new brother Beach as well. It’ll be
interesting to see how the Mike Rule works out, next time our clans
get together.

Enough compliments. It’s time to make some disparaging
remarks.

I’m developing a new three-step escalating system
for dealing with problems. I call it the Razor List. It goes like
this:

  1. Ockham.
  2. Hanlon.
  3. Straight.

Some of you might not be familiar with them. In the first
case, Sir William of Ockham, also spelt “Occam”, stated a
principle that’s also known as the “Law of Economy”; that
entities are not to be multiplied without necessity. Basically,
if there are two possible explanations for something, then
the simpler one is more likely to be correct. The second, href="http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/jargon/html/entry/Hanlon's-Razor.html"
target="_top">Hanlon’s Razor, is equally succinct: never
attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by
stupidity.

The straight razor is just that.

Apply in increasing order until clarity is achieved.

It hasn’t gotten to that stage yet, though I feel that I have come
close a few times this week.

  • The customer service at target="_top">Bell Mobility‘s “Cellular One” stores, as well
    as at RIM, is bad
    enough that I will never, ever personally own a Blackberry. When
    you send something in to get the part fixed, and they ask you if you
    want to get a trivial cosmetic defect fixed as well, replying “no”
    to the latter does not imply that you want it sent back broken. That
    charming little exchange took a month to complete, with the device
    obviously returning to us still-borked. This is unacceptable. I’ve
    been told that somebody at RIM will “expedite” the second attempt
    at fixing the little knob on the side of the thing, but nobody will
    promise that “expedite” means anything other than “our thoughts
    are with you, God bless” for another full month. It has one
    moving part
    , chrissakes, and that’s the broken bit. How can
    that possibly take a month to fix?

  • One of my users, today, tried to install some drivers for
    a trackball onto his Win2k machine. Not only did it knock over
    the entire machine, but it knocked it over so thoroughly that
    you could not successfully boot to any of the provided options,
    and the “recover” functionality didn’t do a damn thing. Who lets
    a bad mouse driver frag an entire OS, to the point that you can’t
    even dig out a working command line?

  • Yesterday, our target="_top">phone system fell over (many thanks to href="http://off.net/~shaver/diary/">Shaver
    for a perfect euphemism) and hit its head, hard. The cause of this
    “falling-over-hard” was determined to be a new receptionist, who
    punched a button that would have done exactly what she wanted it to
    do, on an older version of the same system. She might well catch hell
    for this, but this is not her fault. If GM had created a car that
    set itself on fire and navigated itself over the nearest escarpment
    when mishandled, nobody would be saying “Well, of course
    you’re not supposed to turn the radio on before starting
    the car.” Way to go, Mitel. You get a gold star.

I’ve got it on good
authority
that there ain’t no party like a west coast party,
’cause a west coast party don’t stop. The best we can do here in
the Ottawa Valley is to have some of that buck-wildness flown in,
and that’s what’s goin’ down at the Hoye Household right now –
my sister’s getting married this weekend, and the entire west-coast
clan has flown out to get both down and funky for the occasion. Word,
I say. Word.

That’s probably going to be one of the high points of my week,
the other being that I get to see my girlfriend more than once
in a seven-day period, our average being much, much lower than
that. Those of you who know her know that she’s something of
an anti-Mike, being hard-working, intelligent, pretty and shy,
all of which are a constant source of wonder. She smells nice,
too.

Those oft-promised scans are on the way – SCSI problems abound,
but they will soon be defeated. Fear me, SCSI, for I will terminate
thy chain and in doing so, bind you to my will!

It’s hard to describe perfection. Beyond the assertion that
something was “perfect”, there’s very little grounds for description;
descriptions are by their (and our) nature comparative and a perfect
moment is a rare gem, subject later to lame, rambling anecdotes
that conclude with a limp “You Had To Be There”. That last bit is
the fundamental truth of the thing, of course; you can’t experience
something by proxy, and even “being there”, completely immersed in
the moment, doesn’t give you a full understanding of an event. You’ve
only got one set of eyes after all, and if they’re working as
designed they can only be looking at one thing at a time.

I think I’ve had a chance, these last few days, to
participate in something that’s been as close to a
perfect day as I’m likely to see. Antoine and Alethea’s href="http://neon.polkaroo.net/~mhoye/wedding/">wedding
ceremony came together extraordinarily well. It’s hard,
see above, to describe an entire day in which thousands of
little details, major decisions, circumstances beyond mortal
control and a handful of curious coincidences all seemed
to line up like a Roman Battalion, shields burnished and
helmets polished, and march unstoppably over the Known World
in lockstepped precision at the bride and groom’s whim and
pleasure. A small handful of these include:

  • The rain, threatening and ominous, held off until we got all the
    outdoor pictures taken. It subsequently opened up and poured,
    a real 40-days-and-nights-of-this-would-just-about-do-it pour,
    that stopped and broke up right on time for us to get some very
    nice sunny breaks during the wedding proper.

  • We all line up, the traditional wedding music begins, we
    all march in. The very last person to walk in is the bride,
    and the music ends immediately before she’s supposed to walk
    in. Sean, who was on the absolute top of his game as a
    CD-player-play-button-pusher, pushes the play button, and
    “Here Comes The Bride” starts up anew a bare fraction of a second
    before Alethea steps in and starts walking down the aisle. The
    priest running the show, a man who radiated good humor and gravitas
    in equal measure, is heard to mutter “perfect” under his breath.

  • Antoine’s sister Valerie’s children, charged with the absolutely
    critical duty of blowing bubbles as the bride and groom left
    the stage, hesitated for the barest instant it took to get the
    happy couple to stop and look down at them while they got their
    bubble-action on, and it was really, really cute – it’s going to make
    for a hell of a photo, I’m sure. In a related and crassly financial
    point, if somebody figures out what Valerie and her husband have
    been feeding to, saying to or otherwise impressing upon those
    kids and manages to put it in a bottle, they are going to make a
    trillion dollars. When a six-year-old and a three-year-old,
    for crying out loud, can show enough sense of dignity and occasion
    to sit quietly until it’s time to blow their bubbles, there needs
    to be an immediate investigation.

  • Traffic on the DVP, and indeed everywhere, could have been a
    backbreaker – Antoine and Alethea had to hustle into town for the
    traditional tea ceremony, and it’s not like everyone else involved
    didn’t have stuff to do. It wasn’t the ten-minute sprint you can
    make at three in the morning, for sure, but it was a lot closer to
    that than the knuckle-whitening parking lot it could just as easily
    have become.

  • The staff at the target="_top">Metropolitan Hotel are consummate pros. ’nuff
    said.

target="_top">An old poem contains the line “Beauty is truth,
truth beauty, – that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need
to know.” One image that’s going to stick with me for, I hope, ever,
was Alethea’s face framed to my eyes by Antoine’s shoulder and the
audience behind her, seeing one tear roll down her right cheek
and listening to her wrestle her voice under control while she
made her vows. I’ve known pretty much everything that moment had
to teach for a long time but watching all that emotion crystallize
in front of me like that was beautiful, in the classic sense, and a
profound pleasure to have witnessed. I understand that Antoine did
precisely the same thing, but I missed it; he was facing the other
way and besides, I already know that he feels the same way
about her.

As I’ve said, shaky nerves don’t often rack up enough frequent
flier miles to make the trip up admittedly short Hoye spine,
but this week they’ve managed to score a free trip to Chateau
Medulla-Oblongata-Mike, with enough points left over for
complimentary drinks and a seat upgrade. My exams, they ain’t
no thang. They’re graded out of whatever, and you can get it
three-quarters right and one-quarter wrong, and still walk away
with your chin up. You can even blow off an assignment, if you’re
feeling particularly ornery, and hey, no biggie. The toast and speech
that I had been asked to make at the wedding, though, were tasks
of a slightly higher order; there are some things that absolutely
cannot be delayed or screwed up. Being chosen to be the best man
was and is a tremendous honour, and like all great honours leaves
very little room for error. I checked the pocket with the rings in
it maybe twice every five minutes once we left the apartment; they
were there when I walked down the aisle, they were still there when
I was asked if I had them, and I’d like to express my gratitude to
any deities that might have been paying attention or even just in
the neighborhood at the time.

Boy, if I’d botched that I would have disembowled myself with
my multitool right there on the podium. It would have been the
only right thing to do.

Both the toast and the later speech,
I’m told, and were well-delivered and well-received. That’s good,
because I was so nervous at the time that I can’t clearly remember
exactly what I said. Sean said that the speech was good enough that
he could probably repeat it verbatim if he had to. I might get him
to do that; it would be kind of nice to know what I’d said. I mean,
Christ – when you go that far back with somebody, a man whose first
selfless act of many was convincing me not to eat the contents of my
sandbox – how do you distill that down to two or three minutes?

I wonder how I did.

I’m going to have to cut this short. Suffice
to say that in all other regards, the evening and the next day
proceeded with a well-oiled smoothness that I’ve come to regard as
the hallmark of things that Antoine has planned out in advance. In
their vows, Antoine and Alethea said something interesting, promising
to be each others’ “closest ally and greatest adversary”, and I’m
glad they had to promise that to each other, because there aren’t
very many people in the world who’d be up for that job.

Many
thanks go out, over the course of the weekend, to Kat and Mika, who
put Mehmet, Sean and I up at various times – Kat for one evening,
Mika while she wasn’t even around, having flitted off to Ohio for
another wedding (Mental Note: There are apparently both people
and things in Ohio
). Mika even went so far as to leave me in
the care of her boyfriend Colin, whose debonair man-about-townness
was more than sufficient to keep me free of the chronic boredom and
near-starvation that would surely have beset me in that blighted
wasteland. No, seriously – he’s a hell of a guy, and he knows some
neat places to get sushi, Eggs Benedict and coffee. Many thanks to
Colin.

More news soon – must do actual work.

MSG keeps you awake.

Caffeine keeps you awake.

Nerves, something of a rare phenomenon for me, keeps you awake.

I’ve been on a diet of instant noodles and coffee all week, I’ve
written two exams (Next one, tomorrow morning!), I’ve been working
days, and I’m going to spend Friday and Saturday in Toronto, being
the best man at my target="_top">oldest friend’s wedding. I can barely
blink, much less sleep. I’m averaging three hours
a night this week, and if anybody out there needs his href="http://neon.polkaroo.net/~mhoye/art/Two_portraits.jpg"
target="_new">beauty sleep, it’s me.

That said, I’m pleased – I’ve got some good speech ideas and
some great duds for the occasion, and I’m looking forward to
strutting my stuff. My suit, my one lonely black suit, is href="http://www.douglasadams.com">Douglas Adams’ classic ship, in
wearable form – it’s so black, light just falls into it. It steers
better, though, and it just came back from the cleaners’ to wait in
my garment bag alongside a spiffy new white button-down, ready
to pounce at any moment.
I tell you this one time – this is a
suit to be feared and respected. The creases are sharp enough to maim
the unwary, the shirt white enough that those same maimed civilians
will be seeking relief by flailing madly for a contrast knob that
is not there.

Heh. It was Admiral Rickover, I think, who said that “Great minds
discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss
people.” I think there might be an even lower grade of mind, though;
people who spend their time talking about themselves. This is not
how I’d intented this to work out. That said, I think I can go one
better – I think I’ve figured out how to find a hamiltonian cycle
of a graph in polynomial time. It’s a big polynomial, for sure,
but it’s still polynomial. E-mail me for details.

UPDATE: It’s a small polynomial, actually. Surprisingly small.

UPDATE 2: It’s a small polynomial because it only works on a specific
kind of graph, making it virtually useless in the general sense, but
nevertheless promising. No glory this week. More news soon.

It’s one of the great travesties of the English language that the words
“true”, “blue” and “you” all happen to rhyme. The combination of this
otherwise harmless phonetic coincidence with daytime radio, though,
can make your ears feel like they’ve had to eat jellybeans until
it’s hard to breathe.

Somewhat concerned tonight. Work kept me pretty late, and I’m
concerned about a number of things there.

None of those, thankfully, are job security. I’m in what was
ostensibly supposed to be the last few days of a short contract,
and they’re doing things like getting me a cellphone, an e-mail
account and a land line. That said, the number of things I’ve been
asked to fix lately has shrunk. I’ve been doing things like inventory
and cleanup, which has involved getting dirty and sneezing a lot,
rather than actually fixing the damned tape backup robot, which would
involve freezing to death in the server room, but learning more.

I’m not sure how I’m going to break it to href="http://dubi.ous.ca">Geoff that I’d like
some more time with my Indy before I actually give it up. I’ve
figured out how to reinstall the thing, and now I’ve got to pester
Shaver
into finding me the only CD he wasn’t gracious enough to provide
me with for this little project. He’s about the nicest guy around
when it comes to being-imposed-upon, but I’m a bit reluctant to
waste his time with this; I feel like I’m asking Michael Jordan
to show me how dribble a basketball. His kung-fu in this regard is
very powerful,
and his time could be better-spent virtually anywhere I’m not.

He’s already given me two IRIX applications CDs, a set of href="http://www.redhat.com">Red Hat “Rough Cuts”
CDs and a fistful of stuff I’m going to have to investigate more
thoroughly; things in shiny boxes that I don’t immediately recognize
as being all that useful, but given my propensity for going with
rock my judgement might not be the first thing you’d want to rely on
in this type of situation. I seem to be missing the actual IRIX OS
media, though. This is going to demand a workaround, since IRIX is
six hundred freaking dollars a seat for casual users like myself,
and while that might be worthwhile if you’ve got bags of money
doubling as furniture around your place this is tragically not my
situation. Shaver says netboot, so a-netbooting I go.

I was getting a bit maudlin earlier, in the way I periodically do
(that has my girlfriend referring to me as “Eeyore” recently,
something that would get virtually anyone else promptly separated into
their component atoms and scattered to the solar winds, but she
cheers me up when I deserve worse) and found myself thinking of old
CDs I no longer have. I’ve given away more than a few of them in my
time, and a significant chunk of those haven’t come back. I knew that
would happen, of course, but that’s life – with the advent of CD burners
and high speed connections (which should come as a package deal, with
an eye patch, a peg leg and a cutlass thrown in for good measure) I’m
sure I can recompile most of them, should it strike my fancy.

That said, I used to own:

  • Scenery and Fish, by I Mother Earth,
  • Pop and The Unforgettable Fire, by U2,
  • In Loving Memory Of, by Big Wreck
  • Pearl Jam’s Jeremy, the single that included the much-coveted
    Yellow Ledbetter,

  • An embarrasingly large collection of remixes of Run Away,
    by The Real McCoy. It’s surprising that I don’t have this anymore,
    if only because that would imply the very unlikely corollary that
    somebody else took it.

  • Descent 1 & 2, not only killer games, but D2 had Ogre
    working on the soundtrack. That game kicked my ass, which was good,
    because it was the only thing in the world that could kick my
    ass when I got into that game. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again,
    if only for the sheer nostalgic value of being able to take my
    long-standing friends Sean and Jamie and plow their respective
    asses underground again.

  • I even once owned some REM. Automatic For The People, I think.
  • A 2 CD set of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. The Great Nuff Has Spoken.

Should you, by any chance, be flipping through your CD collection and
wondering where the hell you got that crap, I urge you to rush back
to this very page and consult this list to see if anything matches up.
If, on the other hand, the label says “Bel Biv Devoe” or “The Thompson
Twins”, well, Dude. I can’t, nay, won’t help you. Maybe if you’re
lucky your local record store has a confessional booth in the back,
though. You might want to try that.

Odds are, if you dealt with me this morning, you didn’t deal with
me at my personal best. I’ve borked my right thumb, and you really
don’t appreciate how much of the difference between you and, say, an
intellectually ambitious puppy, is due to those opposable thumbs. I’m
glad I’ve got one left.

Our connection to an important (“Misson-Critical” in the jargon of
the day) server went down today, or at least sometime over the long
weekend, and the amount of screwing around it took to ressurect it
was somewhat instructional. First off, let it be trumpeted to the
world that there are different ways of solving problems, some of
which are good and some of which are not. When I strolled into the
server room first thing this morning, it was clear that a very large
number of “fixes” had been applied to this particular system. It was
so thoroughly fixed, in fact, that it was almost impossible to fix it
again, or even to tell what the previous fixes were or what plugged
into where.

There’s a place for that kind of thing, of course – when
something has to be working now, get it working as soon as
possible. That’s cool, but the relative merit of a solution, I think,
is a function of time. If it becomes obvious that something keeps
falling down and it’s not clear why, it’s time for a plan. Important
parts of this plan are clarity and scaleability – once it’s worked
out, it should be obvious not only where everything goes, but where
any new things should be put when they’re required. An example that
doesn’t fit those criteria (and this is purely hypothetical,
you understand) might include, say, having everything stuffed to on
to a steel shelf in the back of the building with a pile of archived
documents and held together with garbage ties and scotch tape.

The other instructional thing that I learned is that it is
very helpful to not hide boxes from your admins. This
mission-critical box was exactly where reason would dictate
it should be – under a desk in an unlit room at the opposite end
of the building from the server room. I had assumed, their setup
being what it was, that this server was plain old off-site, somebody
else’s problem entirely. It turns out that no, that’s not the case
– in fact, it had been unplugged, replugged, and was now flashing
“Press F1 to Continue”, once I got the monitor turned on.

The abject stupidity of the solution, I have since convinced myself,
was mitigated by the fact that I did clean up and reorg the server
room, replace a broken hub and diagram the hell out of everything.
Yes, mitigated. Yes it was.