Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Foot, meet mouth

Following is a cautionary tale on never saying anything in private you wouldn't want repeated publicly.  Names have been changed.

We here at 5D have an intern working for us...we'll call him Scone.  Coworker John, Scone, and I all work in the same room, although we can't see each other because of the dividers between us.  This fact led directly to the incident.

Scone is a smart and articulate kid, so I sometimes forget that he just doesn't have much programming experience yet.  He came to me with a programming problem, so I told him the solution.

"Well, the obstacle avoidance behavior file is conditionally compiled based on the mission flag in the CMake file, which is currently set to mission_dave in your virtual machine.  Since the behavior should be unconditionally compiled in now, you'll have to move it out of the conditional and into the normal list of included files."

It makes perfect sense, right?  Apparently not, because Scone gives me this blank stare like I was talking in German.  That was doubtful, since I don't speak German, and I realize it just went right over his head.  I go over to his desk and walk him through what he needs to do, although I'm a tiny bit annoyed because I'd rather him play around and attempt to figure it out on his own for a few minutes before coming to me.

A few minutes later, someone walks out the door heading in the direction of the break room.  For some reason, I think it is Scone, which means John and I are left alone in the room.  I start talking, which incidentally is where a lot of my problems throughout my life have come from. 

Me: "John, do you think I'm helping Scone too little?  Or too much?  Because I just don't think he's getting anything I'm saying."

Scone: "Um..."

Me: "Um..."

So yeah.  There were a few frantic moments while I mentally went over what I said, trying to think if it was too insulting or patronizing.  Had I said Scone wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer?  Had I mentioned anything about a light being on but nobody being home?  Because I could have easily said something like that, just joking of course, but not the sort of joke you'd want to say to someone's face.

And apparently, not the sort of the joke you'd want to say if you're not absolutely 100% sure of whose face you're talking to.  And even then, probably not, because you don't know what your listener might pass on, or what microphones are hidden around, or who might be just around the corner.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Living Truth

Since our daughter has been sick (she seems mostly better now!), I've been doing a lot of reading about healing blessings and miracles.  There is a wealth of knowledge and information in the archives of Latter-day Saint church talks that is fascinating--even more-so when it applies personally to yourself given your particular circumstances.

Something struck me just now while reading.

Every now and then when I channel surf on the radio through the lower end of the dial where my NPR news likes to hang out, I stumble across some religious speaker.  I listen on occasion, and it brings back memories of attending various other religions' sermons while I was a missionary in Tennessee. 

There is a striking difference between those sermons and the ones I've been reading online.  The average sermon from a pastor will take an incident in the Bible and delve into it: history, background, various teachings or takeaway messages from it, etc.  Sometimes the sermons will be topical, drawing from a variety of Biblical references to make an interesting or helpful point on a specific subject.

These sermons are good, as is anything that lifts, enlightens, and gives direction to peoples' lives.  They can only rehash Jonah and the Whale so many times, though.  At some point they reach the end of what the Biblical writers managed to jot down and there they have to stop.  In the end, they're all missing a critical element: living revelation. 

Contrast this to a talk on, say, healing blessings given by an Apostle.  The Bible mentions several incidents of healing blessings, but doesn't go very much in depth into how they're done, who can do them, prerequisites, requirements, expectations, and limitations.

The Apostle isn't limited to the Bible, however, or even to the Book of Mormon, the book of Doctrine and Covenants, or revelation from a variety of modern prophets and Apostles, living and dead.  He has his own personal revelation as a mouthpiece of the Lord. 

As I've read through a half-dozen or so talks over the past couple hours, it keeps striking me how clearly and understandably the doctrine is laid out, how simple and organized it is, and most of all how much knowledge is added above and beyond any existing canon.  In short, a sermon given by an apostle or other inspired church leader has an incredible power impossible to find anywhere else.


While getting a movie from RedBox yesterday, I watched the person in front of me walk away with five movies in hand.  Either they were planning to watch 10 hours of movies in the next 24 hours, or they were going to rack up some nice charges on their credit card.

Who knows.  Maybe the lady lived a hundred miles from civilization and this was her annual excursion to The Big City to "see what-all is goin' on."

Sunday, February 13, 2011


My wife had a little accident last night.  I have to admit--I had a hard time keeping a straight face and murmuring the proper sympathetic phrases. 

Besides, it could have been worse.  She could have been shredding paper instead of cutting it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


A hot-green motorcycle in our parking lot has the word "Ninja" painted in black letters on the side, with a giant grenade stencil beneath it.  Because when I think of ninjas, the first weapon that comes to mind is a grenade...


Every time I go outside in the morning to leave for work, when there isn't much activity, a crow sitting in a tree along the sidewalk will give a brief caw, presumably to alert any other crows who cared that a human was nearby.  Another lookout crow did the same thing on our way to the park today.


Yesterday evening I finally got another robot driving.  I was pretty excited since I had been working on it for the whole past week.  Child called me about 5 pm and asked when I was coming home.  It was a good thing she called, since I was so into my work that I probably would have worked until 7 pm before I realized what time it was.

On a related note, the company that built the robot apparently has no idea what a "standard" is.  If you decide to use the JAUS architecture for the nice standardization it brings, it's a little counter productive to put the left wheel speed in the "velocity" field, and the right wheel speed in the "turn rate" field.  It's wrong, and it defeats the whole purpose of using the standard to begin with.


My writing group is great.  They gave me some good ideas for how to progress my characters and make them more realistic.  I like where my current novel is going.