I am now a published author!

I am now officially a published author. Of course, my first published work wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be, but I’m still excited about it! I decided my first book would not be a photography or fictional book. Instead, my first book is a report I wrote about migrating from a MS Windows environment to a GNU/Linux environment. Since I really want people to be able to read this, I am offering my first book for FREE on Lulu.com. It’s a PDF download that will cost you nothing! Go check it out and see how you can stop paying for software.

my book at Lulu.com

And the new Pope is….

Joseph Ratzinger from Germany! I had been hoping they would go with a Latin American poope like they had been predicting. Not only because this would have probably been a Hispanic, but because it would have been the first Pope from the New World. I would also have liked an Asian or African Pope because that would also have been a break from a European Pope. Well, maybe next time.

It’s interesting to note how much the world has changed. I mean, it was important that Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian Pope. But even more interesting to me is the fact that we just went from a Polish Pope to a German Pope only 60 years after the end of World War II.

This new Pope has taken the name Pope Benedict 16th. The news reported that he is one of the older popes in a while, he was born on 16 April 1927. He has his own fan website which can be found here. When I checked it was down, but that’s probably due to so many people trying to visit the page to find out about the new Pope.

Why flickr? Why?!?!

Flickr just did the best and worst thing to me it could possibly do. As a Thank You for my going pro while they were still Beta, I got my subscription doubled to TWO years! Not only that, but they doubled my bandwidth to 2 GB. They may as well have made it unlimited because I’ve been having a hard enough time filling up my 1 GB limit! They also gave me the ability to freely upgrade two people to pro. I upgraded my mom. I’ll upgrade someone else later.


In a world based on technology, a small error in a program can lead to some interesting results. Take this for example:

Hot Ithaca

This was what weather.com displayed a few days ago when I typed in Ithaca’s area code. Rest assured that it was barely HALF the temperature they claimed it was. I think they probably had a variable slightly off and so it pointed to Arizona or something, but came up as Ithaca. Pretty humorous when it’s the weather that’s so off this way. Not quite so funny when it’s your phone freezing up.

My brother, whose phone runs on Windows CE, recently had to have his cell phone company replace his phone because it refused to boot up. For him this was just a mild annoyance – for a few days his girlfriend (who goes to another school) couldn’t call him and he couldn’t call us at lunch time to see where we were. What if he had been in a car accident and couldn’t call for help because his cell phone refused to boot up?

Of course, there is much to be said about this situation. First of all, if Microsoft can’t even make their flagship product, the Windows Operating System, to work correctly, why are people letting them make software for cellular phones? This is why so many people are just switching over to using the Linux kernel for embedded devices. It is much more reliable. As my C++ programming book said:

There is almost nothing that you can do with your programs that will corrupt the operating system. However, this program would destroy your computer if you ran it on Microsoft Windows. Do not attempt to compile this on a Windows machine.

But besides the obvious fact that Windows shouldn’t be allowed near mission-critical systems, we have a more important fact to consider. When computers increasingly become more and more important to our lives we have to take extra steps to be sure that we program them correctly. Sure, anyone with some common sense would have known that it wouldn’t be 113 in Ithaca, but if we suspend common sense for a moment, what if someone had read that it would be 113 and then decided to go out in a tank top instead of a jacket?

What scares me the most is that more and more of my car’s functions are running on computers. Even if the programmers use Linux or some other stable OS, there are still plenty of potential programming problems that may lay in their own programs. They need to really be careful when they are making programs that people depend on. It’s not the same as a vanity C++ project created for yourself.

Heart Attacks

A study my fiancee shared with me:

A series of epidemiological studies were conducted. The results were as follows:

-Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans
-French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans
-Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans
-Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans

What can we conclude from these results?

-Eat and Drink what you like
-Speaking English is apparently what kills you

Anberlin’s new CD

There’s a very hackneyed saying, “don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.” For a while now I had been putting off talking about the new Anberlin album and now Andrew beat me to it. I had been listening to “Ready Fuels” for almost six months before I got around to buying the first album, Blueprints for the Black Market. I almost immediately fell in love with the band’s music. I put it on my workout playlist and it was what I listened to for about a month and one half while working out. My fiancee said it was the first time she had heard an album where she liked every single song. When I found out they had come out with a new record in February, I set out to buy it.

What a different album this one was! Whereas the first album was mostly a happy or neutral album, the new one was much more raw. After just one listen through the album I came to a conclusion: the song-writer had suffered a broken heart. Almost every single song on the album is about a girl who sold him out in some way. Andrew talked about “Paperthin Hymm” which was definitely a sad song, especialy with lyrics like:

Who’s gonna call on Sunday morning?
Who’s gonna drive you home?
I just want one more chance
to put my arms in fragile hands
I thought you said forever
Over and over

One of my favorite songs for the way the music is arranged is “A Day Late”

So let me get this straight
Say now you love me all along?
What makes you hesitate
To tell me in words what you really feel?
I can see it in your eyes you mean all of what you say
I remember so along ago saying I felt the same way
Now we both have separate lives and lovers (and lovers)
Insignificately enough we both have significate others

Only time will tell
Time will turn and tell

We are who we were with
Could’ve been lovers but at least you’re still my day late friend
We are who
We are who we were with
Who knew what we know now
Could’ve been more but at least you’re still my day late friend
We are who
We are who we were with

Lust come and go and this I know I’m not who you recall anymore
But I must confess you’re so much more then I remember
Can’t help but entertain this thought
Thoughts of us together

We are who we were with
Could’ve been lovers but at least you’re still my day late friend
We are who
We are who we were with
Who knew what we know now
Could’ve been more but at least you’re still my day late friend
We are who
We are who we were with

My day late friend

So let me get this straight
All these years and you were no where to be found
And now you want me for your own
But you’re a day late and my love just still renown

We are who we were with
Could’ve been lovers but at least you’re still my day late friend
We are who
We are who we were with
Who knew what we know now
Could’ve been more but at least you’re still my day late friend
We are who
We are who we were with

my other current favorite is “Stationary Stationery”:

Do they not have pen or paper where you are
‘Cause I haven’t heard from you in ages
I relive each memory
From time to time
With notes exchanged
With all the scented pages
It’s comin back
It’s all comin back to me now
Tell me everything turned out alright
‘Cause I’m well and we said
That we’d meet tonite
Does he treat you like you want?
Does he ask to take your hand?
Does he believe in dreams we talked about?
Though with no music we dance
I thought you said that you’d come find me
I thought you said you’d be home by now
I heard you say that you’d come back here
So I wrote to remind you somehow
Dance by yourself and
Think of me when you do
I’m not sure you understand
What this means to me
What you do to me
I’m willing to prove
That you’re the one
I regret to slip away
Now I know it was only you
That I’ve been searchin for
And missin all this time
I thought you said that you’d come find me
I thought you said you’d be home by now
I heard you say that you’d come back here
So I wrote to remind you somehow
I thought you said that you’d come find me
I thought you said you’d be home by now
I heard you say that you’d come back here
So I wrote to remind you somehow
Let the past be past
Let’s start today
And let us both do
I need to see your face
Tell me where to be
I’ll tell you why we shouldn’t be
(I’ll tell you why we shouldn’t be)
I thought you said that you’d come find me
I thought you said you’d be home by now
I heard you say that you’d come back here
So I wrote to remind you somehow
I thought you said that you’d come find me
I thought you said you’d be home by now
I heard you say that you’d come back here
So I wrote to remind you somehow

In the first he laments a girl who he once dated and thought everything would be perfect. However, they drifted apart and now they each other other significant others. They want to get together, but it’s too late. It certainly wouldn’t be fair to their current boy/girl friends to leave them for the other. In the latter, again he has been abandoned, but this time by a girl who just dissapearted into the ether. She doesn’t write him anymore and I absolutely love the first line. It’s sharp, witty, and cautic. It almost stings me and I didn’t do anything wrong.

While all of the songs are really well written and really well performed, it’s just an overall darker album than the previous one. Nothing wrong with that, but I would certainly like a return to a happier day. Perhaps on the next album. Anberlin continues to rock with extremely poetic titles and lyrics. Go check them out.

The Order of the Engineer

Last Monday I joined the Order of the Engineer. Although it has a title like the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo of the Flintstones, it is nothing at all like that. It is based off of a similar, but much older Canadian process known as The Ritual of the Calling of the Engineer. The American version was founded in 1970 by engineers at Cleveland State University. We will never had a meeting or pay dues again. The whole point of the order is to function as yet another institution I belong to which does not tolerate unethical behaviour. Unlike the IEEE, I have a ring to wear which symbolizes to all my commitment to the ethical practice of engineering. Official Order of the Engineer literature has this to say about the ring:

This commitment is not a trivial act but is, rather, like the wedding of the engineer with his profession. The ring is owrn as a visual symbol to attest to the wearer’s calling, and symbolizes the unity of the profession in its goal of benefitting mankind. The stainless steal from which the ring is made depicts the strength of the profession

My Order of the Engineer Certificate

Here is the Obligation of the Engineer, which I had to promise to uphold to as part of the induction process:
I am an Engineer, in my profession I take depe pride. To it I owe solemn obligations.

Since the Stone Age, human progress has been spurred by the engineering genius. Engineers have made usable Nature’s vast resources of material and energy for Mankind’s benefit. Engineers have vitalized and turned to practival use the principles of science and the means of technology. Were it not for this heritage of accumulated experience, my efforts would be feeble.

As an Engineer, I Eric Mesa, pledge to practive integrity and fiar dealding, tolerance and respect, and to uphold devotion to the standards and the dignity of my profession, conscious always that my skill carries with it the obligation to serve humanity by making the best use of Earth’s precious wealth.

As an Engineer, in humility and with the need for Divine guidance, I shall participage in none by honest enterprises. When needed, my skills and knowledge shall be given without reservation for public good. In the performance of duty and in fidelity to my profession, I shall give the utmost.

What resonated with me the most out of this obligation is probably different from what will resonate in the future, although the same may ring true then. Since I am currently immersed in the free software movement, I find the last paragraph, when speaking about using skills and knowledge for the public good, to be very compatible with this movement. If I can develop a software product which will vastly improve the public good, then it is my obligation to offer this software for free that others may also benefit from my knowledge and skills. By making my knowledge open and freely available to all, I add to the public good. When I hoard my knowledge I subtract from the public good.

My Order of the Engineer Ring

I would like to end this post with the quote from President Hoover about engineers which I found quite delightful. Just remember that in his time, Engineer mainly meant what we could consider today a Civil Engineer.

It is a great profession. There is the satisfaction of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer’s high priviledge. The great liability of the engineer compared to men of other professions is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. His acts, step by step, are in ahrd substance. He cannot bury his mistakes in teh grave like the doctors. He cannot aruge them into thin air or blame the judge like the lawyers. He cannot, like the architects, cover his failures with trees and vines. He cannot, like the politicians, screen his shortcomings by blaming his opponents and hope that the people will forget. The engineer simply cannot deny that he did it. if his works do not work, he is damned. That is the phantasmagoria that haunts his nights and dogs his days. He comes form the job at the end of the day resolved to calculate it again. He wakes in the night in a cold sweat and puts something on paper that looks silly in the morning. All day he shivers at the thought of the bugs which will inevitably appear to jolt his smooth consummation.

On the other hand, unlike the doctor his is not a life among the weak. Unlike the soldier, destruction is not his purpose. Unlike the lawyer, quarrels are not his daily bread. To the engineer falls the job of clothing the bare bones of science with life, comfort, and hope.

No doubt as years go by people forget which enigeer did it, even if they ever know. Or some politician puts his name on it. Or they credit it to some promoter who used other peoples money with which to finance it. But the engineer himself looks back at the unending stream of goodness that flows from his successes with satisfactions that few professions may know. And the verdict of his fellow professionals is all the accolade he wants.
-Herbert Hoover, The Profession of Engineering (from his memoirs)

Why Lulu is the best thing to ever happen to indie writers….

I recently began listening to the followup to The Lexus and The Olive Tree, entitled The World is Flat: A Short History of the 21st Century. The latter was written in 2005 so the author has had time to absorb the true impact of the internet, while it was just getting revved up when he wrote the former book. His key point in the first part (of three) of the book is that there have been many events which have caused the world to flatten. This flattening is a metaphor for a leveling of the playing field across many different industries. For example, Linux has leveled the playing field in computers by allowing poorer people to afford computers since they don’t have to pay for an operating system or programs. Fiber optics have leveled the playing field for India by allowing data to be transmited so quickly and with so much bandwidth that companies are able to do more and more abroad, allowing educated Indians to have jobs of a caliber they could not have before. You get the point.

Let me offer one other example which he doesn’t talk about in the book, or, if he does, he hasn’t mentioned it yet. While the RIAA may consider MP3s to be the bane of their industry, it has been a boom to indie musicians. Unlike .wav files, which take up 10 MB per minute of music, MP3s take up about 1 MB per minute of music at 128kbps sampling rate. This has allowed, as everyone reading this knows, for music to become small enough to transmit over the Internet. While the recording industry claims that this is bad because of piracy, the true reason that they hate it is because it threatens their entire industry! While this is a slow process which may or may not ever reach fruition, MP3s allow artists to be independent of record labels. If I were an indie group or a garage band who didn’t get signed by a label, I could put up a website and post MP3s of my music. If I were good, word would spread over the Internet and everyone would download my MP3s. Then, if enough people from my surrounding area liked me, I could throw a concert. Maybe it couldn’t be at Madison Square Garden, but some smaller venue (like my friends in High School used to do). In the “real world” artists never make money on their CDs anyway, they make money on Tshirts, hats, and concert sales. Therefore, they can bypass the record companies and still make money if they are good. Of course the RIAA feels threatened by this!

Some groups have already begun to do this. I wish I knew the name of the group, but an old 80s group has revived by doing this. Their label didn’t want to resign them so they began releasing MP3s on their website and have gained a huge following of fans who have begun to pour money into them through merchandise and ticket sales.

So what does all of this have to do with writing? Well, Lulu.com is poised to do to publishing what MP3s are doing to music. I discovered this company yesterday because a flickr group I am involved in is using Lulu to create a quarterly photo magazine. They were only charging $20 so I had to see what this was all about! Lulu levels the playing field for indie writers by not charging any money at all up front. If I create a book and upload it to Lulu, they charge me no fees. They tell me how much the book costs to print and then they ask how much profit I want to earn. Profit I want to earn + book cost = sales price. Lulu keeps 20% of this. So you only pay anything if someone buys a book. If no one ever buys your book, it’s ok because Lulu doesn’t charge you. In this scheme the reader really does cover all of the costs! You can even create an ebook, in which case it’s pure profit!

This gives indie writers many, many advantages. First of all, they can set a lower price because they do not have to cover the cost of distribution and markups from the distribution channels and store markups. Second, it allows an author to get his or her work out there without having to lay out any cash. Before, if an author couldn’t get signed by a publisher he or she had to pay for the printing themselves and then get it out and convince Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com to carry it. This is no longer the case! This is truly a wonderful time to be a great writer and you don’t have to remain unknown until a publisher finds you. Just as indie films are often the best, but studios wouldn’t produce it, indie books can be awesome, but not signed. This is dumb because it signals that publishers and producers don’t know what they are doing because good ones are not getting produced – their filter is too strong and it’s filtering out good work.

Andrew, you have some amazing work – get to Lulu now! The rest of you who have always had aspirations of being an author, get to Lulu now! I will blog about this again once I have my first book out. q:o)

The sun sets on Numa Numa….and rises on Andrew’s Beautiful Day?

Andrew, on a dare from some of his mates in the Galactic Irregulars, tried to outdo the Numa Numa guy with his own lip sync to a song. Personally, I don’t think it’s whacky enough. He’s driving and the music is playing while he sings to some of the lyrics. It is kinda neat to see the cars over his shoulder, but nothing that I think would unseat Jersey boy. Andrew may have once looked comical (as we all do when we are in are early teens), he now looks like someone who could probably put up a good fight. Perhaps something a little whackier would be funny, but you can be the judge!

Welcome a new wordpress blogger on my server as well as fellow Spider-fan

Andrew Laine who you may know from Temporary Insanity, a site hosted on my page, asked me today to hook him up with a blog. I was more than happy to oblige, as I had offered a blog to all those hosted on my site. Within five minutes he was set up and you can now see him at Andrew’s Random Ramblings. Apparently, just like me, he’s a big Spiderman fan. As you will remember, just days ago I wrote about Spidey in a 8 April post about buying the Amazing Spiderman collection on CD-ROM.

Welcome Andrew! I encourage my readers to check out his blog, he’s a really great writer and my oldest friend, along with his twin sister. I’ll be putting up a direct link soon, but you can link from write within this post.

Faulkner in a rap song…

I bought the Erace album when it first came out and I think I was just a freshman in high school if not younger. I really liked the rap put out by Gotee records courtesy of GRITS, et al especially because back then they had more of an experimental and underground sound. They’ve recently sold out, in my opinion, by sounding like every other rapper out there. But that’s not the subject of this post, so I’ll save it for another time. At the time I was unable to realize just how creative this song was. I used to play it over and over because I really liked the beat and the raps weren’t too bad.

It wasn’t until my senior year that I finally understood the meaning of these lyrics, in fact, even the meaning of the title. When I bought the CD I had assumed that the rappers had made up a word for the title since it was Yoknapatawpha (a mental mississippi). I figured that since it was a “mental mississippi” that Yoknapatawpha just stood for an ideal mississippi or something.

When I finally got to the grade where we had to read American literature, I was introduced to the magical writer William Faulkner. His brilliance both frustrated and enthralled me. Part of me hated him for being such a different writer. The other part of me celebrated what a gifted writer he was. He was to American literature at the time what Andy Kaufman was to comedy in the 70s. Some people got it and the rest hated him. Just which work of his did I have to read? “As I Lay Dying”

“As I lay Dying” has quite a crazy cast of characters (literally in some cases), in fact the entire plot is insane.

————-begin spoiler, ignore if you hate them, but it probably won’t give away much———–
When the book begins, the mother of a yokel family has recently died or dies in the first paragraph. I don’t remember the exact details. She was survived by a husband, three boys, and a daughter. One of the sons is mechanically inclined and builds her coffin. The middle one goes nuts and drills holes in the coffin so that the mother can breathe. He ends up drilling right through her face, although he doesn’t know this since he can’t see into the coffin. Under the pretext that his wife wanted to be burried with her kin, the husband loads up a wagon with the coffin and heads to her town. Or he would, were the river not too high. So he waits a while. He waits so long that the corpse is actually beginning to smell and he hasn’t even left his town. In the meanwhile, his daughter gets empregnated by one of the farm workers. They had a series of misadventures while trying to get this coffin to her town including setting a barn on fire and having the coffin fall off the back of the wagon into a river. Eventually they make it to town and the middle kid is admitted to an insane assylum. The girl, desperate for an abortion goes to see a pharmacist who rapes her instead. The dad remarries some lady who we presume he went to marry in the first time.
—————-end spoiler———————————————————————-

What really makes this a crazy book, other than the plot is the way in which it was written. Each chapter is written to express the though process of a certain character. The mechanically inclined son has a chapter consisting of a numbered list. The crazy kid’s chaper never makes sense. The daughter’s chapter is written simply since she has no formal education. It is a VERY tough read to understand the plot fully.

So how does this relate to a rap song? First of all, most of Faulkner’s novels take place in a fictitious Mississippi city named Yoknapatawpha. The song also uses “As I lay dying” as part of the lyrics. There are also references to Mark Twain, other novels, and 19th century gospel music. Reproduced below are the lyrics.

Erase – Yoknapatawpha (a mental mississippi)
© copyright T. Collins, T. Carter, J. Painter, J. Elwood

Verse 1

Memories enter my psyche and they bite me
and once they leave my head its what I write see
when the cage bird sings it hums a memory
I sample my thoughts under an oak tree

Mystic are the ways of the southern life
puffing back the past with a blast on a corn pipe
easin’ thru the trees like the breeze in the August light
the sun kissed my life and made my mind bright

Our eyes are open wide but never seem to see
that knowledge is the air if you care truth needs to breathe
I mouth the words but never write life’s melody
time is better spent in my mental Mississippi

Chorus 1

M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I (in Mississippi)
M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I (in Mississippi)

Verse 2

As I lay dying spotted horses pass me by
in All The Kings Men Warren penned a poets cry
Go Down Moses to the river twain’s marked and looking high
the stares fall upon me and I fear The Blues Eye

Mental lapses left traps in our future for sure
satirical passes on the masses shot confederate lore
so watch where you sit if you ain’t sat here before
cause hanging from that tree is the tradition you adore

Metaphorical excursions tales told in first person
I live my life to love but can’t live before the learning
and ooh my mind keeps yearning
you know I’m reeling back the years and these southern eyes are burning

Chorus 2

Turn 1

Where oh where are you tonight

Verse 3

You know dawn pulls the shade on a new day
woke up still dreaming living in my Mississippi
Country roads take me home
to the place where I belong

Farm livin is the life for me
I find my past pointing back at me
you can’t see the things I see in me
the south’s a piece and not the whole of me

You know I’m kicking back doing some reminiscing
thinking how I was raised on southern living
nothing like a phat cup fill it up
with some sweet tea then you take a gulp

Chorus 3