I hate "The Little Mermaid"

Ok, I have to post this somewhere, because it goes through my mind every time my kids watch this stupid movie. (Including some thoughts from the even worse sequel, which we rented once. Just once.)

First off, King Triton is a pathetic king, and an even worse father. Why?

  • He very obviously has a favorite child. Strangely enough, Ariel's sisters don't seem to mind, but I have a hard time believing they wouldn't be making the life of Daddy's little princess absolutely miserable.
  • When told his daughter needs supervision, he grabs the first underling available and tells him to tail her 24/7. Now, I suppose I should cut him a little bit of slack -- he is a king and has a lot to deal with, and hiring a nanny wouldn't be unheard of -- but you'd think he would actually put some thought into it and send someone trained to watch kids instead of just ordering the court music composer to stalk his daughter.
  • After he goes ballistic and destroys Ariel's hidden treasure trove (which I'm not sure was inappropriate, given how thick she was being -- although the appropriateness of the rules themselves could be called into question), and Ariel runs away, he makes the rest of the kingdom suffer because of his family problems -- he sits on his throne and commands that no one in the kingdom sleeps until she is found.
  • When the contract with Ursula is revealed, he offers to give up his entire kingdom, power, freedom, etc. to pay for Ariel's mistake. While this may seem noble at first, it's completely irresponsible, for not only is he sacrificing himself, but he's subjecting his entire kingdom to rule by the sea witch (knowing what kind of ruler she would likely be). Besides the fact that, once he did this, Ursula's first thought was to get Ariel anyway; so he didn't save anyone from anything.
  • He repeats this same mistake at the very beginning of Little Mermaid 2 -- when Morgana tries to steal Melody, he instantly offers himself up in her stead.

Now, let's take the title character herself.

  • I'll try really hard to cut her some slack about being curious about humans, after being told that they are evil and it's forbidden for her to have any contact with them. She definitely lets her curiosity get the best of her, however, completely ignoring dangers. "I don't see how people who make such wonderful things could be bad" -- and yet her collection includes cannons and guns and fish hooks. The mind boggles.
  • Then she gets infatuated with Prince Eric. Her eyes get all puppy-dogged when she sees him, then, after saving him from the storm, sings of her determination to be "part of his world". She knows just about Jack Squat about him at this point.
  • Then there's the contract with the sea witch, where she risks her entire soul for just the chance to be with this human she knows nothing about. Small mitigating factor here: she did this after Triton destroyed her cave. However, to take advice from this woman, obviously there's not much going on under that red hair of hers. One wonders (or at least I do, because it's fun), if Chef Louis looked like Prince Eric, and it was him she saw and fell in love with, what would have happened when she realized that she had signed her life away to be with the very fish killer her daddy warned her about.
  • Then, when the contract comes due, she pleads with her daddy to save her so she doesn't have to live with the consequences. "Daddy, I didn't know!" she cries. No, the correct answer is, "you didn't think" -- you didn't think you wouldn't be able to persuade a perfect stranger to fall in love with you inside of three days, you didn't think you'd actually be expected to live up to the contract, take your pick.

Now let's consider this Prince Eric, the young man who marries the 16-year-old girl simply for her voice. He wasn't even interested in her when he discovered that she couldn't talk, and as soon as someone who *did* have "that voice" showed up, he dumped her like a rock and chased after the chick with the voice. Now, you may be thinking that he was simply under a spell -- there was the yellow glow in his eyes when Ursula/Vanessa was present before the shell broke -- but even right before Vanessa appeared, Grimsby was still having to convince Eric to "settle" for Ariel, even without the voice.

Then, consider Ariel's decisions (or Eric's decisions and Ariel's capitulations) that Melody be denied knowing about the sea, merpeople, etc., even going so far as to build an enormous physical wall. You would think that Ariel would at least recognize that it's no better than what her father "did to her" when she was a child.

My theory is that Eric is not a good husband. Ariel has realized this mistake and has built the wall not only for Melody's supposed protection, but as much for herself to keep herself from being reminded of the sea and all that she gave up for the male chauvenist pig she found herself waking up next to. [Although of course instead of dealing with it for herself, she has to inflict this separation not only on her daughter, but her entire kingdom. Like father, like daughter, I suppose.] I'd also bet that Eric has been cheating on her for several years with one (or several) of the sopranos in the court choir, especially after Melody was born and Ariel's body didn't retain its 16-year-old shape (or maybe even before, when her voice started to change with age). It also wouldn't surprise me if Ariel has to spend a lot of time explaining that the bruises are due to accidentally falling down the stairs.


Cool Google Maps - Who knew maps could be fun?

This is pretty cool. http://coolgooglemaps.blogspot.com/ Among several much more light-hearted links is the 9/11 Digital Archive. Reading some of these stories really twists my stomach up in knots. But definitely worth reading.


Jerry's Game

We made it to the phone, but when we tried a test call, the phone remained silent. Fortunately, FireMedic had a laptop with a cellular broadband adapter, and we were able to post our cell numbers, and we got the call! Now we just have to wait and see what happens...

Waiting for the call
Waiting for the call
Our 'Future Geezer' companions
Our 'Future Geezer' companions
The Phone
The phone -- we really were there!

Here are the links to the videos of our journey:


Now I get it.

I used to not understand why some people wanted so badly to get out of jury duty. I always felt it was a civic duty, and that we the people should live up to our responsibilities. Besides, most people with whom I've talked about it were people that, if I ever stood accused in a courtroom, would be the intelligent, level-headed people I would want to judge my fate.

Well, now it's my turn. I got my first summons for jury duty in the mail yesterday. The summons noted that, for the first three days, your employer pays you, but beyond that, the state pays $50 per day. Now I certainly don't consider myself to have an extravagant lifestyle. Although we don't have a whole lot of disposable income, bills do get paid, ends are met, and we only have three debts: the house, a student loan, and a car (which I only allowed because it's financed at 0% interest). $50 per day is less than 15% of what I make in a day to provide the means to sustain our life. My hope was that my duty would not last long enough to make that an issue.

This morning, I contacted my HR rep about the summons and what I needed to do. The email I got in response told me that I needed to submit an attendance form that I will receive from the court. However, I also found out something more. Because I am on contract, paid an hourly wage, my employer will only cover the legal amount of pay for those first three days, namely... $50 a day.

I am furious. I am being ordered to leave my employment and get paid what might as well be lunch money to perform my civic duty. While I'm all for doing my part, when it severely affects how I can provide for myself and my family, the cost is way too high. I can begin to understand why my income might have to be put on hold while I serve, but the bill collectors certainly will not. The mortgage payment will still be due, and it will still be the same amount. The loans still need to be paid. The gas bill will still come, as will the electric and water bills. Heck, if I didn't drive a hybrid, a much larger chunk of that $50 would be going to fill my gas tank just to get me to the courthouse each day.

So yes, now I get it. Now I understand why jury duty is thought of with fear and loathing. I am going to keep a prayer in my heart that I can be honest and true when I have to appear at the courthouse, because I am sorely tempted to do whatever it takes to make sure I get eliminated as quickly as possible. And I hope that the time I am needed will be very brief, so I can get back to my regularly paying employment.


Can I play too?

So Microsoft and Pepsi have this promotional deal going on. You buy certain Pepsi products (primarily Mountain Dew), and you get a code, and you enter this code into a 10-minute time slot, and for each slot one code is drawn. The winner gets an Xbox 360 prize pack.

Now, I'm a bit of a gamer, although a lot less than I used to be. And I've definitely had my eye on the 360. My priorities are rather different these days, so I've been trying to convince myself that I don't need one on Day One and can wait for the first price drop. But the more I read about it, the more I want one. (Yes, I know, that's not surprising, considering that's what the marketing materials are supposed to do.)

It doesn't help that I now know of three people who have actually won. Two I only know by name in the Geezer Gamers forum, but one is someone with whom I regularly play Halo 2 online. And so now I'm even more tempted to play.

But the temptation is frustrated for the following reasons:

  • I'm trying to avoid caffeine, as it contributes to my migraines (I know, I could get decaf)
  • I don't want to spend large amounts of money on soda
  • I don't want to consume large amounts of soda
  • The codes aren't even available here yet!

I suppose I should be somewhat grateful that I can't actually fulfill the temptation even if I did give in, but dangit, it's just so frustrating. People are actually winning, and there's nothing I can do to even play!


Why am I leaving again?

The topic came up in another forum, "Ways to demotivate your employees". My response consisted entirely of real incidents from my current job (in no particular order):

  • When you're asking one of your developers to rewrite something for the fourth time because you were unable or unwilling to get any specifics and it's been done wrong, and they say they want to get some specifics this time so they don't have to write yet another bunch of code that gets thrown away 24 hours later, a good response to this insolence is, "Well, if you don't want to work here..."
  • 4:45pm is an excellent time to say "Before you leave today, I need you to...", especially on your way out the door to go drinking with the other managers.
  • Additionally, coming back later at 7:00 with those other managers and a couple buddies with the smell of alcohol heavy on your breath, shutting yourself in an office, and showing off your new guitar and amp with loud music and louder laughter, while your employees are still working on that "Before you leave" project well within earshot, does wonders for demotivation.
  • When discussing with fellow managers where you're going to get dinner and what movie you're going to see, make sure you do it gathered around the cubicle of one of your working-late employees. For maximum effect, position yourselves so you are literally talking over his head.
  • Justify any unreasonable expectations by heavy use of the phrase, "[Crap] rolls down hill." (Note: sometimes it helps to give the crap an extra push on its way down.)
  • Never give your employees annual reviews or raises. Rather, remind them how well they're already paid and how cookies and soda in the break room make up the difference.
  • Long lunches, late arrivals, and early departures are the hallmark of successful management. It is especially important not to inform your employees of your schedule, lest they somehow get the idea they're important enough to know your business.
  • Additionally, call your employees at their desk (or log on to instant messenger) at 8am and 5pm when you're not physically present to make sure they're there.
  • Don't let your employees know anything about how the company works on any level other than what you absolutely must tell them for them to do their job (and even then, less information is better than risking giving them too much).
  • Make sure your employees understand it is unacceptable for them to handle any issue without your knowledge or consent. If they do so, make sure they understand how little they know of how the company works to make those decisions.
  • If an employee attempts to contact you (about an issue which they should be asking for your knowledge and consent) when you are out of the office (in late, long lunch, leaving early, and/or taking off unannounced, which you should do regularly), make sure they understand your displeasure at their interruption of "your" time. Express your anger at their lack of knowledge of the way the company works. Use of four-letter words is encouraged here. But don't forget to berate them if they don't contact you for every issue.
  • When you give an assignment to an employee, don't tell him the purpose. (If he asks, a simple "It's not important, just get it done" should suffice.) That way, when the finished task does not fulfill the purpose, you can ask him to do it again.


But do I want this job either?

I interviewed for a new job. It is doing data warehousing. The company is a start-up, but it is a joint venture of two other major companies, and as such has plenty of funding and a great benefits package. Based on what the recruiter's told me, I'm probably the best candidate for this position. The interview went ok, I suppose (I've always hated interviews and am a fairly poor judge of how things go), so if it went well enough, then I'm probably going to be offered the job.

But do I want it? The problem is, it's a DBA position, and based on how the interview went, there will be little to no coding involved. Writing code is my first big love. I've been writing programs since I taught myself BASIC when I was 8. This job would be a definite move away from that. Is that where I want to go? Do I want to put myself on track for being a data analyst instead of a coder?

Could I do the job? Most definitely. Would I be happy doing it? That's the real question. I'm not sure. Part of me is hoping I'm not offered the job, so I don't even have to make a decision. If I had other interviews pending, it would be easier, but although I've had many nibbles on my résumé, this is really my one big bite. I have a feeling I'll be spending a lot of time on my knees figuring this one out.


You know what? Maybe I don't.

I received orders that I was to rewrite a certain module yet again, from the ground up, for the third or fourth time, because an executive at our major client blinked. Once again, the specs were not thought through and were very vague, were rather arbitrary with respect to how the system is actually used, and so on. The order came by way of a phone call from my boss. I had a couple other things to do first, so I did those while waiting for our department meeting where I could address my concerns.

At the meeting, when the topic came up, I believe I said something to the tune of, "We need to sit down and talk the requirements through, because I don't want to spend all day rewriting this code yet again just to throw it away tomorrow." The first words out of my boss's mouth? "Well, if you don't want to work here..."

Eventually we were able to talk things through enough that I was able to write the module the way it was wanted (today) with more clear directives, but his initial response stuck with me. And I thought to myself, "You know what? Maybe I don't want to work here." Honestly, having my job threatened when I protest about wasting time and energy is really low, and it's not the first time I've been threatened with such for not just shutting up and doing as I'm told. And that's only one aspect of the complete lack of respect I'm faced with.

So now I'm looking again. I'm tired of putting up with this. The reasons I've stayed so long have become less and less important and less certain. I'm sure once I leave, they will finally make whatever big deal they've been hoping for and I'll miss out, but honestly I've been doubting what my cut of that would be if I stayed anyway.

I will miss the perks. I pay less for health insurance for my whole family than many people I know. I can wear what I want and even come in and leave when I want within reason, I can work from home when necessary, and the kitchen is stocked with free goodies. The 401(k) program is pretty cool as well, considering the employer matches 1:1 on up to 5%.

But I'm not happy. I can only deal with so much, and this job passed it a long time ago. It's way past time to move on.


What do you do with a D-Link Wireless router?

Well, you could always make something useful with it.

This D-Link DI-514 wireless router has given me nothing but trouble [never have I wanted so much to throw a piece of hardware out of a window and never see it again], so there was no pain in dismantling the stupid thing for decorative parts (except for the occasional burn from the soldering iron). I have already replaced it with a Linksys, and I'm much happier now.

Now, in all fairness, a lot of people have told me they have had the complete opposite experience, that Linksys isn't worth the silicon its code is printed on, and they'd be willing to run a production site over a D-Link. On the other hand, other people agree with my experience and wouldn't wish a D-Link on their worst enemy (our office uses a Linksys, and we haven't had a lick of trouble with it). Your mileage may vary, I suppose.


What good am I?

Today was our choir Easter performance. We had another one on Friday, but my wife decided not to attend that one (although, since her niece was visiting to get help with her prom dress, it would've been easier if she decided to just leave the kids). I actually had fun singing, and I was actually feeling pretty good.

So I find my wife and kids after the performance. I give her a hug and say, "Thank you for coming." I was expecting her to stay at home, with some excuse about the kids bouncing off walls or something; so I wanted to at least acknowledge that I was glad she came. She replies with, "You're lucky you still have kids," and she proceeded to tell me what a pain they were. I mumbled something about, "I'm sorry you couldn't enjoy it." She didn't protest.


Should I post this here?

It would be more appropriate to put this in a personal journal, but since I don't keep one (I really should), I might as well add it here.

Another birthday has come and gone (many days ago, so now I can talk about it without it being close enough to be worth thinking about except as a passing thought), and I was almost successful in getting by without notice. The company CEO did send out a happy birthday e-mail to the whole company (one day early), so I had to at least admit the day at work. Fortunately, our team took a little field trip to some of our client sites that day, so stopping for a "birthday lunch" was more of an incidental rather than a special event.

And at home, it was mostly just another day. Just a couple of cards from the wife and kids to open at dinner, and trying to ignore the phone calls from the parents calling to say happy birthday (thank goodness for answering machines, or I'm sure my mom would've tried calling all night). Fortunately, my wife hadn't decided what to get me and planned on asking me about it, so I could tell her that I didn't want anything, that it was just another day.

So why am I feeling like this? It's not something I really want to talk about, not even semi-anonymously on a random internet page. I guess a 50,000' summary would be that I'm not happy at work, and although I could change that, it wouldn't matter because I'm not happy at home either, and no amount of success at work can make up for failure in the home.