Posts tagged kelly

The Moth

4

Lost, season 1, episode 7. The first episode centered on Charlie.

The Episode

Before the island, Charlie had been reluctant to stick with the band because of the conflict between his religion and the temptations that the band’s popularity was introducing. His brother Liam told Charlie of how important Charlie was to him and to the band and that he couldn’t do it without him. Liam promised that they would help each other and stop if things got out of hand. So Charlie continued with the band and the record deal based on the confidence that his brother had given him.

Later when the band had gotten even more popular, Charlie found his brother with drugs. By that time Liam had become the popular member of the band and had taken credit away from Charlie, and this time Liam wasn’t flattering to his brother. Liam said that he was the important member of the band and that Charlie was useless. Now torn down by his brother, Charlie found comfort in drugs for the first time.

By the time Charlie crashed on the island, he was a hopeless addict (while his brother was ironically clean and settled down with a family). When Charlie isn’t needed to pitch in around camp he starts to believe that his new friends don’t value him and that they think he’s useless, and he wants to turn back to his drugs. Locke shows faith in Charlie that he’ll be able to kick his addiction. Later when Jack finds out what Charlie was going through, Jack tells Charlie how valuable he is. At the end of the episode Charlie finally decides to burn his drugs so that he can’t go back to them.

There’s a pattern that I notice in Charlie’s life. When Charlie was at his best and his strongest and his most confident was when the people that he loved expressed how much they valued him. When Charlie was at his worst and his most vulnerable was when those people expressed a lack of love and appreciation.

The Lesson

Here’s the moral of the story in my opinion: The way that we treat people matters! That might be obvious, but it’s easy to forget or make excuses for it.

Coincidentally we had a similar lesson in Young Men’s class at church last week. Adam showed the following video, which I think is really well done. I like that it captures some pretty realistic high school interactions. (Also the lines about not drinking all of the juice somehow remind me of Napolean Dynamite.)

I think that we often make excuses for our own immoral actions and words by saying that people are responsible for themselves and if someone else chooses to be offended by something we say or do then it’s their own fault. The hypocrisy in that is that we require everyone to be accountable for their own actions while we try to avoid the responsibility for our offenses.

Here’s another coincidence where this idea has come up lately. Kelly recently shared this quote in an FHE thought:

When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:24)

Joseph Smith felt like he was affected and influenced by the way that other people treated him, whether positively or negatively. It’s probably not fair or realistic for us to expect our friends and neighbors to be immune to the way that we treat them.

To tie this back to the episode, imagine for a minute how Charlie’s life might have been different if the people in his life before the island had treated him with the love and respect that his new friends on the island treated him with in this episode. The writers of this episode give us a nice view into Charlie’s life and the key moments in it as they relate to his addiction, but in real life it’s harder to see the results of our actions. Take even the smallest thing that we say or do, consider the possible butterfly effect (no pun intended with the episode title), and there’s no telling how big of an impact we can make, whether for good or for evil.

The Metaphor

John Locke uses a metaphor with a moth to teach Charlie that he’ll grow through his trials, but I want to hijack that metaphor to tie it into the lesson of the episode in a different way. Here’s part of the exchange from Locke and Charlie:

Locke
Come here. Let me show you something. What do you suppose is in that cocoon, Charlie?
Charlie
I don’t know, a butterfly, I guess?
Locke
No, it’s much more beautiful than that. That’s a moth cocoon. It’s ironic, butterflies get all the attention; but moths — they spin silk, they’re stronger, they’re faster.

And we’ll stop there. Forget the comparison with the moth and the butterfly (because putting down the butterfly contradicts what I’m going for here) and focus on the fact that Locke finds beauty in the moth. It’s easy to think that the butterfly is beautiful because it’s got pretty colors on its wings, but finding the beauty in the moth requires knowing more about it. It’s different than the butterfly, but it’s not any less beautiful.

What if we all treated each other that way? What if we all strove to find the beauty in each other and always treated each other as beautiful and valuable people? I think that’d be pretty good.

Lost Characters

7

I started watching the TV show X-Files when I was a freshman in college and I was hooked pretty immediately. About a year later when FX aired the entire series in order I video-taped (on VHS in those days) and watched the whole series. A decade later when I was almost done with college my friends Aaron and Russ wanted to watch the series, which they’d never seen before. But X-Files was a pretty long-running show, so we decided to just watch the episodes related to the alien conspiracy. Since I’d seen the series before I served as our guide. I found some lists of the alien episodes online, but I wasn’t really happy with the choices that they’d made and I ended up curating my own list of the episodes that would best let us watch the over-arching plot line.

X-Files is kind of a unique show because it let us do this. There are two kinds of X-Files episodes: the episodes that are part of the over-arching plot line of the alien conspiracy, and the stand-alone episodes of some weird supernatural thing that isn’t alien related. There really isn’t much of a middle ground. (Star was also an X-Files veteran and would sometimes watch with us, but she was and still is opposed to our approach, and in some ways she’s right: Most of the very best episodes were stand-alone episodes because they were so creative and often had really excellent writers.)

 

Ever since then I’ve thought about that idea of analyzing how required an episode is if you want to keep watching the series. I don’t think most TV shows are as clear-cut as X-Files was. Even shows that do have over-arching plot lines and random single-episode plots, they usually sprinkle and mix them so that there’s at least something related to the over-arching plot in every episode. You can’t usually cut out whole episodes and expect to understand what’s going on in the next episode.

 

Recently we’ve started re-watching the TV show Lost, and the third episode of the show suggests a different way for an episode to be really important to the series.

Really nothing happens in the episode to further the overarching plot. There are several reminders of important things going on but nothing new really happens. Sure they talk about being off-course and the weird radio signal, but they’re just reminding us of what’s happened in other episodes. In other words, if you completely missed this episode you could still watch the next one and understand everything that was going on.

Even though you wouldn’t have missed any plot milestones, you would have missed some really important milestones for our characters. There are tons of instances in this episode where you get a first look at attributes of these characters that end up being really important during the rest of the show. So maybe the episode is still really essential for watching the whole series, but for very different reasons. You could understand the plot without this episode, but you might not understand the characters without it.

Consider these scenes and what we learn about the characters:

  • When Jack goes into the airplane wreckage to rummage for medicine he finds Sawyer already in there rummaging for anything else of value. They debate the ethics of rummaging for supplies, and Sawyer suggests that Jack is acting like he’s still in civilization while Sawyer sees them as being “in the wild”. I think there’s an interesting irony that’s presented here. Sawyer is “in the wild” as far as his morals are concerned, having no problem taking from the dead nor from the rest of the castaways in order to benefit his personal stash. However, Sawyer is calm and collected as he does it. Jack on the other hand, operates for the common good and is slowly creating the civilization of the island. But here we see him rushed and almost panicked as he rummages for medicine, and he seems at the end of his wits, like he might just attack Sawyer at any second. We see this battle of values and personalities between Sawyer and Jack over and over during the course of the show, and this first encounter sets it up perfectly.
  • This is really Kate’s episode, and so you see multiple sides of Kate in it. One side is the dangerous criminal. The marshall tells Jack that she is dangerous and that she shouldn’t be trusted.
  • During the conflict over the gun, Kate gets nominated to carry it. She walks around camp with a gun and no one seems to mind except for Hurley. While we were watching this part Kelly said out loud, “It’s amazing that people are OK with her just walking around with a gun.” The thing we really learn about Kate through this is that she is able to command trust from her peers.
  • The marshall and Kate have two encounters when he is conscious: in the first the marshall attacks her and tries to strangle her, and in the second he has a kind of fond-farewell to Kate, even to the point of asking her to put him out of his misery. Here you see the other pieces put together: Kate is dangerous and the marshall both hates her and fears her, but he also strangely sees her as a trusted friend and relies on her to be compassionate to him.
  • You see this dual nature of Kate again in the attempted escape after the farmer sells her out. She is willing to do anything to get away, crashing the truck but ultimately she allows herself to be slowed down to save the farmer from the burning wreckage. She was just dangerous enough to crash the car, but too compassionate to allow the farmer to die, even when it meant her being caught.
  • Sawyer tells Kate that since she has the gun she should put the marshall out of his misery. He doesn’t know that Kate was the fugitive and that it actually would serve Kate’s interests if the marshall weren’t around anymore. We don’t see the rest of the conversation, but later we see it’s outcome when Sawyer has the gun and shoots the marshall. Here we see Kate as a con artist herself, conning the conman into doing something that really serves her more than anyone else, and you can imagine that she’s done it in a way that Sawyer thinks that he’s convinced her.
  • When Sawyer leaves the tent after shooting the marshall, he has a look of pain and sorrow on his face. Jack confronts him and Sawyer justifies his actions and makes a convincing argument that he was actually being merciful to both the marshall and the rest of the passengers. But because of the looks on his face, you get the idea that he isn’t glad that it’s happened. This is the first time that you realize that Sawyer isn’t one-dimensionally evil, but that he’s actually complicated and is trying to do the right thing from his own point of view.
  • When the marshall groans after being shot, Sawyer realizes that he has spent his last bullet and missed. Despite all of the morally questionable things that we’ve already seen him do, this is the first time that he looks afraid and ashamed. It reinforces the idea that Sawyer does have some compassion deep down, but also let’s us see another aspect of what makes Sawyer who he is: even when he is trying to do the right thing, he is ashamed of himself for constantly screwing up.
  • After Sawyer shot the marshall, he accuses Jack of not being able to do what needed to be done. But after he has missed, Jack goes into the tent and puts the marshall out of his misery. Here you see another pattern for Jack: despite whatever character flaws Jack may have, he is extremely capable, and doesn’t shy away from conflict or hard situations.
  • Perhaps most importantly, this is the first episode where Sawyer calls Kate “Freckles”.

Les Miz

2

Kelly and I went to see the musical Les Misérables last week.

Now I’m not an expert on the theater. It’s the first time that I’ve seen Les Miz. Also, it’s only the second time that I’ve seen a professional stage performance, and the first time that I’ve ever seen a performance by the touring company.

So I might be inexperienced, but this was easily the highest quality stage production that I’ve ever seen. The orchestra was great, and the singers were really good, and the sets and costumes were amazing.

I honestly think the set was the best part for me. I think it completely made the ambience and mood of the play. Plus they had some really cool effects that added to its believability. In a few scenes they had a projected backdrop that would move with the actors, and it really looked like they were moving in a world bigger than the stage.

Despite all of the things that made it the best play I’ve seen, the funny part is that I’m not sure if I liked it.

First off, it was incredibly hard to follow. The dialogue was hard to understand and I don’t think the plot made sense in all parts. Kelly says that the lyrics aren’t normally that hard to understand, so it’s possible that all of the actors were just mumblers. All the same, I don’t think I would have understood what was going on if I wasn’t already familiar with the story.

The other thing was that it was kind of boring. Mostly just at the end. After Javert dies and you think the main plot line is resolved, it just keeps going and going for like 5 more musical numbers. In fact, I think it kind of ruined the end for me. The final song seems like it would have been really powerful and moving, except that I’d already stopped caring because the story seemed like it should have been over.

But to reiterate, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it. It just means that I don’t know if I liked it. Something funny happened in the days after we saw it that I think explains why people like this kind of thing.

The first thing that happens is that the songs get stuck in your head. And that is its own vicious cycle because as they get stuck in your head, you sing or play them, and so does your wife, and then they just get more stuck in your head.

Then the second thing happens. As you hear or sing the songs, you start getting reminded of various parts of the play, and then you start thinking about it more and more. And before long, everytime you hear one of the songs you think something like, “Oh, yeah, that part was cool.”

So that’s it. I’m not sure if I liked it as much as a lot of people seem to, but I can imagine that if I kept being reminded of it over and over by the music that I’d probably convince myself after the fact that it was the best thing ever.

Bald Eagles

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How many times can you see a bald eagle before it stops being exciting? I only ask because I’m on the verge of losing count but I still get excited when I see them.

When I moved to Washington I’d never seen a bald eagle in the wild before. It was so exciting the first time: a real, live, bald eagle, just sitting there as if it was as normal as a seagull.

So I’ve been keeping track of them, and here’s all of the eagles I’ve seen:

Bald Eagle overlooking Puget Sound ferries

Kelly took this picture of a bald eagle while we were waiting for the ferry to depart. She has two more if you click through.

  1. Kelly and I were using the ferries across the Puget sound for the first time, and it was even one of the first times that we’d been down to the waterfront after we moved here. After we got our car loaded onto the ferry we started exploring the boat. When we got to the top when we saw a crowd of people at one end of the deck. We went to see what they were looking at, and there it was: a big bald eagle, sitting on a catwalk overlooking the water. It was too far away to be sure, but it looked as almost as big as a human sitting on that railing. I don’t know if the crowd was made up of newbies like us or if it’s just awesome every time.
  2. There’s a floating bridge from the east side across Lake Washington into the city that we drive across a lot. On the Seattle-side of the bridge there’s a series of bays and smaller lakes and marshlands that are all interconnected and go back to the lake. One time we were heading into the city and driving through this marshy bay area by the university when Kelly saw the eagle fly and then land on a street light. She pointed it out to me just in time for me to turn and see the eagle sitting on the lamp post.
  3. Over the summer our friend Matt came to visit. When we driving into the city for some good old-fashioned tourism, we saw an eagle sitting on a platform in the bay, right by where we had seen it the second time. Kelly and I both got really excited, and we chastised Matt for not getting as excited as us.
  4. Since I’ve started my new job I take the bus across the floating bridge every day. One day as we were driving past the bay I realized that we’d seen bald eagles in the exact same place twice before. So I looked up from my book and sure enough, there was a bald eagle sitting on that same platform again! (It turns out the platform is a sculpture. Who knew? I thought it served some navigational purpose or something.)
  5. Another trip into the city, driving with Kelly past the same bay. This time the eagle wasn’t sitting perched, but it was flying overhead. I was so excited this time that I kept repeating over and over: “A bald eagle flying! We just saw an eagle flying!”
  6. A few weeks ago my brother Troy came to visit. As we were driving into the city we told him to look out for the place where we always see the bald eagles. It wasn’t in vain: we saw a bald eagle sitting on the same old platform. Troy did a slightly better job at being excited: he said, “oh, wow.”
  7. Just the next day when Kelly and I were driving home from the airport after dropping Troy off, we saw an bald eagle flying overhead chasing a seagull! It was really exciting. It looked like the eagle was gaining on the gull, but I was driving and couldn’t see the rest of the action. Kelly said that the eagle got close and had it’s talons extended, but that it missed the mark and the gull got away. Too bad for the eagle, but lucky day for the seagull. Also, Kelly pointed out that “eagle” and “seagull” rhyme. That’s pretty exciting by itself.
  8. Yesterday! On a light post at the same place by the bay driving into the city!

That’s all of them, but I’m sure there will continue to be more sightings. It’s getting hard to keep track of them since we’ve seen them in the same place several times. (Kelly’s even seen them there a few more times than me.) So, I just thought I’d share the excitement before I lost count. Of course, it’s probably a good thing that I write this post now so I can save you from a much longer post in event that I don’t ever stop counting!

Robbing the Homeless

2

There’s an intersection a few blocks from my house where the beggars assemble. You’d probably recognize it (even if you haven’t been here) because it’s a common suburban scene:

It’s a busy intersection just off the freeway. Every beggar stakes out their own corner. If there are newcomers and no corners are free, they’ll have to beg down the street a little, or maybe on the median. Definitely not on someone else’s corner. The procedure is simple. When the light turns red and the cars start backing up near a particular beggar’s corner, he or she walks around with a cardboard sign saying how homeless or hungry or pregnant he or she is. When the light turns green, the beggar can go relax leaning against a pole or sitting on the curb.

Sometimes it’s awkward when you see a familiar beggar, especially if you’ve interacted with them before. Being a beggar is a surprisingly public position. Of course the great thing about recognizing familiar beggars is seeing their signs change day by day, especially if they have a sense of humor. Everyone loves a clever cardboard sign.

One beggar stands out to me from the intersection by our house, and it’s not because of his clever signs. It’s because of his cell phone.

He’s always out on the same corner. He does the normal routine, showing his sign during the red lights, but when the light turns green and the cars pull away, he goes and sits on a chair that he has stashed in the bushes. And I’ve seen him sitting there talking on his cell phone multiple times.

Now I know what I’m about to say is very hypocritical considering my last post, but I’m going to say it anyway. I don’t buy it. I know that cell phone bills are less money than rent, and I know that someone could have some kind of prepaid phone without having an address or a job or a credit score. It just seems to me that a person with enough sense to own and operate a cell phone would have the sense to cancel his service before things got so tough that he would need to go out begging on the street.

The truth is that I don’t know anything about this particular man or what his story is. I don’t know if he’s capable of working and has found that panhandling pays better, or if he really is in need of help and can’t help himself. I don’t know if he has a cell phone so he can call his wife at home and chat while he’s out collecting change, or if someone gave it to him so that he can try to find a job. I don’t know if he’s talking to buddies or potential employers when I see him talking on it. So I realize that it’s wrong of me to be so skeptical of him, but I’d be dishonest if I only told the stories of the homeless people that I felt sympathy for and didn’t acknowledge the other side of this issue being on my mind so much.

One day after I’d driven past that man on the way home, I realized why the cell phone beggar bothers me so much (and subsequently vented my frustrations to Kelly). It’s not that he has a cell phone or a panhandling routine or a chair in the bushes. It’s not even my suspicions that he’s faking the need that he’s in. It’s what I can imagine it doing to the people that are in real need.

If someone (whether it’s really the case with this man or not) begs and seeks help when they don’t really need it, I think they’re robbing both aid and compassion from the truly needy. When kind people see him, they donate a few bucks that otherwise could have gone to someone in real need. When less-kind people see him, it just reinforces their belief that homelessness is a choice that deserves no sympathy.

I don’t know how to tell who is in real need and who isn’t, and maybe the right answer is that it’s not my place to judge their motives at all. But I do feel that if there are people who could help themselves and choose not to, that they are contributing to the greater problem and taking advantage of those that really do need help. And if that is the case, don’t I kind of have an obligation to make some kind of judgment call as to who really deserves my help?

Shelter

2

It was just barely a year ago that Kelly and I moved out of our apartment in Salt Lake. We were using a POD to move so that we wouldn’t have to drive a U-Haul truck across the Cascade mountains in the middle of the winter (which ended up being a great choice: it was hard enough getting the little Honda over those mountains while they were covered in thick snow). We’d already fixed the schedule for the POD, so we had to scramble (and go without sleep) to get everything packed in time, but we made it (barely).

We spent our last night in our basement-sweet-basement the same way that we would spend our first nights in our apartment here in Seattle: on a blow up mattress in an otherwise empty apartment.

The next day we cleaned the apartment and packed up the car to go. We had some things that we weren’t taking with us, either extra boxes that we needed to recycle or things that we needed to donate. We had other errands to run before we drove out of town (both moving and Christmas preparations) so we split up to get it all done.

Among the things that we were donating was a pair of pillows. I don’t know if we thought that the DI wouldn’t take them or if we had some other reasons, but for some reason we thought that it would be better to give the pillows to the homeless instead. That was on my errand route, along with the recycling (which I would have been just as happy to throw away, but you know Kelly). So I hunted around for a recycle bin big enough to hold cardboard boxes, and then headed over to the homeless shelter. (I had contemplated offering the boxes to the homeless, too, but it just seemed a little too much like rubbing it in, so I stuck with the pillows.)

It was late by the time I got to the shelter, and the street was empty (unlike other times when I’d been running past there and the street was full of homeless people). At first I was a little confused about which building it was; for some reason I’d always thought that it was on the opposite side of the road. It didn’t help that the sign said something generic, like “community center”. There was another sign on the building, though, saying that I could drive around back with the donations, honk, and someone would come out to get them. But there were hours for the donation drop-off, and I was there too late. I felt stupid, and I almost turned around and drove away.

(Have you ever sat outside of a business and been indecisive about whether you should go inside or not? Maybe you’re thinking of getting some gift and you’re not sure if it’s right, or maybe you’re at some office building without an appointment and you’re afraid of being laughed to scorn for just walking in uninvited. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s a familiar feeling.)

As I was sitting there getting in and out of my car, a homeless man walked by. He had been looking in a garbage can down the street and was now moving on to another one. As he walked past, he asked me if I knew what time it was. I told him, and he walked on. There wasn’t anything more to the exchange than that, but for some reason that did it for me.

I walked up to the main doors with my pillows, still feeling stupid, convinced that they’d just tell me that I should have read the sign outside and known to come during donation hours. The doors were locked, but the lady at the front desk saw me and buzzed me in.

Inside the air smelled like urine. It wasn’t the sadly subtle kind of smell that a nursing home has. It reeked of it. It was almost over-powering.

“Front desk” might be the wrong word for where the lady that had let me in was sitting. It was just a folding table (like from a cultural hall event) with a clipboard where she had been letting people sign in. She asked what I was there for, and I sheepishly told her I had these pillows and thought someone might like them. She didn’t seem phased at all, and just sent me down the hall to (what I think was) the nurses’ station to give them the pillows.

When I got to the end of the hallway I saw the scene that makes me still think of this event. There were probably 40 people there, lying on the floor, fully clothed and covered in blankets. I don’t know what the rooms looked like, but I assume they were full if all of these people were out here on the hallway floor.

I gave the man at the nurses’ station the pillows. He offered a receipt for tax purposes, which obviously I didn’t need for my measly donation. And that was it. No further exchange. I left and drove away.

It was such a small moment in my life. The whole thing probably only lasted 10 minutes. It’s funny how sometimes small moments have big memories.

Graphing Benchmarks

7

svYou know you might be a nerd if… you spend your free time writing a script to benchmark your Web site and graph the results. I’d like to say that I only spent my free time on this because Kelly and I have been sick and so we didn’t do anything this weekend but sit around, but honestly, I’ve been wanting to do it and I probably would have spent my time on it anyway.

So here’s what I did.

Your standard Web server has a tool called ab, which stands for Apache Bench(mark). What it does is simple: You give it a URL, and it will hit that Web page as many times as you tell it, and give you back all kinds of metrics about how well the page performs.

So I wrote a little script to call the benchmark tool and parse the results out into a CSV file that I could then use in Excel to generate a graph to compare how well different pages perform and how well they scale as traffic increases.

Writing and Using the Script

I originally wrote a Bash script that parsed all of the metrics into a single spreadsheet. It had some fun shell scripting, but ultimately I didn’t need all of the metrics, so I was just making my job in Excel harder. Instead, I reworked it to parse out only the average “Time per request” and throw only that measurement into the spreadsheet. Then graphing was easy.

The big problem I had was that I was limited by the shared hosting server where I rent Web space. The Bash script would crash once I got to about 400 concurrent page requests, but I wanted to test the performance with more users than that. As a solution I converted the script to a Ruby program that didn’t use any of the intermediate files and I was able to go a lot higher without problems. My server still can’t handle huge amounts of concurrent requests, so it would still fail sometimes, but I had the script handle the failures gracefully.

The end result is a Ruby script that will compare the average request time of multiple Web pages as traffic increases. It accepts a list of URLs on the command line, and increases the number of concurrent requests up to 1,000. It takes the average of 100 attempts at each concurrency level to try and get accurate readings. If a benchmark attempt fails at any of the concurrency levels, it will slowly decrease that sample size and try again, ultimately just letting Excel interpolate from the nearby data points if it fails with even a single sample. It also increases the concurrency at an increasing rate, so it doesn’t waste time on concurrency levels that aren’t significant. (Basically it increases by one user at a time until it gets to ten, and then increases by ten at a time until gets to 100, at which point it increases by 100 at a time. And so on and so on, if I were to let it run high enough.)

If you’re interested in using it to make your own awesome graphs, you’ll have to download the source code and save it into a .rb file to run it. Obviously you’ll need the Apache benchmark tool installed, also. Then you can type something like this to generate your spreadsheet:

ruby ab-time-chart.rb http://www.google.com http://www.bing.com > google-v-bing.csv

Just an idea.

Testing with a Simple Benchmark

I’ve got some ideas of how I’m going to use this, but I needed a simple test while I was running it a ton of times to make sure it worked. So, I thought I’d compare the performance of CGI to FastCGI. I know that’s a no-brainer (the answer is in their names), but this was more about testing my benchmark script than about the actual results.

What’s being tested here is the output of a simple Web page being generated in different ways. The contents of the page in each case is simply the current Unix timestamp. The version measured by the blue line is generated by a Ruby script running over CGI, the red line is the same Ruby code running over FastCGI, and the green line is a static HTML version that I threw in just for comparison.

The graph shows the time (in milliseconds) that it took to generate the page as traffic increased. The lower lines mean it’s faster.

Performance and Scalability of HTML, CGI, and FastCGI

No big surprises here. Obviously the static HTML version is fastest, followed by FastCGI, and CGI being the slowest. I was a little surprised by how constant the increase was, especially with FastCGI, but there’s no missing data points there. I did notice during my many (many) different runs as I was tweaking my script that a higher sample rate generally produced straighter lines. I think they probably scale pretty linearly, and any bumpiness is due to unrelated activity on my server.

So, there you have it. I’ve you’ve managed to read until the end of this post, I congratulate you on finishing my first blog post that really gives details about how big of a computer nerd I am. Sorry in advance, but it probably won’t be the last.

iTunes doesn’t sell music

3

Kelly and I just drove past FYE and they’re running a sale where all CD’s are $9.99.

“About time,” I say, pointing the sign out to Kelly.  “They’re finally as cheap as iTunes.”

Kelly sees the sign and says, “$9.99?!  We should go in there.”

“Why?  It’s the same price as iTunes.”

“Yeah,” reveals my brilliant and beautiful wife, “but at least you own a CD, instead of iTunes just letting you borrow it.”

Dramatic?  Perhaps.  But think about what it really means for you to “buy” a song from iTunes.

When you buy a song on iTunes you can play it in iTunes or on your iPod.  You can’t play it on your Zune or Xbox or Nomad.  You can’t play it on your phone unless it’s an iPhone.  You can’t play it in WinAmp or Windows Media Player or any program on Linux.  Basically you can only use it where and how Apple Computer, Inc. says that you can use it.  You can use it only on their devices and software.

It isn’t your song.  It’s their song.  You didn’t buy it from them at all.  You just rented it.  If you’re really nice and do what you’re told they might let you use it sometime.

Worst Place

4

I think I just gave the worst sacrament meeting talk that’s ever been given. Well, maybe not the very worst ever, because at least I didn’t say that Jesus couldn’t do anything himself because he didn’t have a body. I guess mine was the second worst ever. I’m trying to look on the bright side, though. Kelly suggests that maybe this experience will help me be more empathetic towards other people who look like bumbling idiots at the pulpit, but I think that the real silver lining is that the bishopric will think twice before asking me to speak again.

Jane Austen's lingo

3

Kelly and I watched Emma the other day (because we like Clueless and we knew that it was a modern day take on the same Jane Austen book). I don’t understand the way these people talk. Several times during the movie I had to pause it so that Kelly could explain to me what a character had just said. Once as she was translating she realized that she didn’t understand what they had said, either, so we had to rewind and try again. It was still fun to watch the movie, but mostly because we liked trying to figure out how all of the characters from the two movies matched up. I missed Murray, though.

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