Wednesday, 31 August 2005

It's the colour of bruises and that plague they had

I've just been told that I'll be attempting my black belt grade on Saturday. So this time next week I'll either be some kind of super master, jumping backwards up into trees, or I'll be dead. That's how these things work, by the way.

Those of you that pray, crank it up now. The rest of you can send me gifts of pasta and rice. I demand offerings of carbs!

Mokalus of Borg

PS - See you on the other side.
PPS - If you want to come and watch, you'll probably have to sit outside.

Tuesday, 30 August 2005

From the Mokalus Dictionary

Rob Roy: A tall tale, exaggerated account or just plain lie about a relationship, romantic encounter or non-existent partner.

On Schoolies Week, immediately following the end of grade 12, my friends and I stayed at Noosa, basically hanging out at the beach and talking rubbish. One day two of us got momentarily separated from Leon and decided to play a little joke. We stayed hidden for about half an hour, keeping an eye on him while concocting a story about meeting a couple of girls. These imaginary ladies took us back to their flat, where we watched the end of the movie Rob Roy, then mysteriously kicked us out. As part of the story, we theorised that they were doing this exact thing three or four times a day.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - When Leon figured it out, he did exactly the same thing to us.
PPS - And I think that was the funniest part.

Monday, 29 August 2005


I just read this phrase on Slashdot:
...a nonlethal weapon that shoots lightning bolts
To me, at least, developing a lightning gun that is nonlethal is either pointless, absurd or impossible. Take your pick.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I reckon I'm going with "absurd".
PPS - I'll probably change my mind to "impossible" later.

Boarded Up

I like board games. Something about rolling dice and moving tokens interests me somehow. What I like more than board games themselves, however, is the thought of translating them into computer programs. That's possibly my number 1 programming passtime. I believe I've had three iterations of just one particular game - Barricade (AKA "Malefiz"). I love the way unique challenges are presented by each game, and I get a geekly kick out of translating the rules into code.

I've been thinking about doing more of this recently just because my programming needs are not being met at work at the moment.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - My next board game project is likely to be Zombies!!!.
PPS - I feel compelled to mention again that the exclamation marks are part of the name, not added by me.

Sunday, 28 August 2005

The Sunday Mok - Sleep is for the Weak

Last Sunday morning during the church service, I was conscious that I was singing louder without a microphone than I do with one. Therefore, when I sang in the evening service I made a conscious effort to sing at that volume. It may have been the first time ever that the rostered sound tech didn't come up and tell me to kick it up a notch.
On Monday at work I had a problem: my job is to fix potentially broken electrical drawing labels using no more information than exists on the drawings and in my head. I don't know anything about electrical engineering, so my corrections would be purely random. I asked for help.
Tuesday at work was mostly a write-off, settling in to another office, installing software and so forth. For karate in the evening I trained with the regional instructor to see if I was ready to attempt my black belt. I have to go back again.
On Wednesday I took an exploratory amble around the general street area around the office to see what's what. There's not too much there. I stayed up with Deb later than I usually would.
Thursday I was either tired or bored at work. Probably both. My job for the next couple of months is not particularly stimulating, but a programmer has to do it so any bugs in MCDB can be squashed quickly.
Friday was the LAN party at youth group. It turned out to be smaller than we would have liked, but did run smoothly.
Saturday I went running in the morning for the first time in ages. I played City of Heroes in the morning, then went shopping with Deb in the afternoon. It was a tiring day and I was dropping off around 22:30.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I can't sign in to Messenger from the new office.
PPS - I can use Web Messenger, but I don't like it.

Friday, 26 August 2005

Anywhere, Anytime, and No Way Out

If computing becomes so pervasive that we can access our workspace anywhere, there is a social danger present. Imagine a boss who is just a little, shall we say, over-enthusiastic about his work. He wakes up in the middle of the night and, deciding he'll not get back to sleep for a while, rolls over to a workstation to catch up on some figures or presentations or who-knows-what. He notices something you can do, and would do when you wake up. He calls you and wakes you up to ask for a favour, just this once.

Today, you tell him "politely" that (a) he has woken you up, (b) it is 3am and work can wait and (c) you can't get to your work now anyway. When the network is that much better that there's really no point to travelling to an office because everything there is available at home, your demanding boss can, in all seriousness, tell you to get off your arse and work, because anything you need is right there beside your bed and you can sleep later. Oh, and by the way, you might need to come in early this morning, so don't bother going back to sleep.

Some bosses today don't understand the concept of "off-duty" very well. When the office is as completely mobile as the telephone, you'll never be fully "off-duty" when you've got a demanding boss.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - And usually nobody tells them they're demanding.
PPS - Plus they're the kind of people who don't listen to that.

Thursday, 25 August 2005

Who's Deb?

Just to clear up any confusion anyone has, Debbie (or Deb) is my girlfriend. All clear?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I had previously mentioned this explicitly in comments.
PPS - That's why I felt no particular need to make a big deal of it.

The Morning News

I have two updates to give you this morning in the saga of my life:
1. I now have my own security card for the other office. Sort of. It's the loan card, but I get to keep it until I get a proper one.
2. I jumped the gun a bit when I pronounced the last day of the old car. The new Corolla is arriving on Monday.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Further applications to be in Milhouse should at least include a name.
PPS - A fake name is enough, and seems rather appropriate.

Wednesday, 24 August 2005

Trapped like a rat

I have moved to a new office, ten minutes down the road from the other one. They have yet to give me a security card. I require one to leave the office. Most of the building's plumbing is located on the other side of the locked door. The only people I know who could get me a card are currently not within sight.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - These are the facts of the case, and they are undisputed.
PPS - I could really use that card right now.

The Final Flight of the Pintara

Dad's bought a new car and is picking it up today, so last night was the last ride I'll ever take in the old Pintara. From now on, it's a brand-new Corolla. It's kinda sad to see it go, in a way, but it does have its problems. The air conditioning has never worked quite right, the rear-vision mirror has fallen off and the paint got splotchy. It still runs fine - it just looks terrible, and now its time is up.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I did take an alternate route home from karate, just to say goodbye.
PPS - I heard it pull out of the garage for the last time ever this morning.

Tuesday, 23 August 2005

Fake Punk Bands 101

In order to justify the black "VIP" wristband I was issued at AGMF (just for being so darned special, I guess) I made up a fake punk band to be in. By the end of the weekend we had an imaginary debut EP entitled "As Punk As We Can Be". I now have a full track list:
1. Second Time Around
2. As Punk As We Can Be
3. When I Get Old
4. I Live For Jesus (and also Punk)
5. Ten Days (a punk-ified Missy Higgins cover)

What we lacked was a name. I toyed with several possibilities including Robot Monkey and Zombie Peanut Butter (because I happened to have that shirt on). Finally I settled on the name "Milhouse".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I now feel imaginarily complete.
PPS - That's the next best thing to actual completeness, I suppose.

Monday, 22 August 2005

So far it doesn't have a name

I have developed a muscle knot on my right shoulder. Of itself this would not be an unusual occurrence every couple of months, but this one is pretty huge. If I turn sideways, I can see it in the mirror. It hurts a fair bit, and I estimate it would take a skilled masseuse a good couple of hours to remove.

I don't know where it came from, but I'd really like to, because then I could inflict some kind of damage on this source, or avoid that situation in the future and spread nasty rumours about its mother.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't actually spread nasty rumours.
PPS - And I don't tend to inflict damage on things on purpose, either.

Sunday, 21 August 2005

The Sunday Mok - It's more like "blissfully unconcerned"

Last Sunday was fairly typical - two church services and a lazy afternoon. I had some readings to do for Disciple and I got through five of the six of them.
I spent Monday at work trying to work out some algorithms for a database trick called "nested sets" that works particularly well for hierarchical data. It would greatly speed up some operations for MCDB.
Tuesday was when I started discussing the MCDB code with Jeff, the original author. At karate at night, for the first time in a long time, I didn't have fun. I think it's because there's mounting pressure to be ready for my black belt. I don't train for belts, and I never have, so I really don't like that.
Wednesday was People's Day and I went to the Ekka with Deb after a birthday lunch for Kirsty at Sizzler. I went on the Zipper ride for the first time ever, which is something I've wanted to do for years.
On Thursday I got a couple of feature requests for A+, my staff appraisals database software, so I spent most of the day working them in and making sure everything looked right. Had a Korean dinner at Deb's, complete with cultural commentary from Linda.
Friday I had to do some bughunting in A+ and we had a farewell lunch for Peter who is leaving for greener pastures. Youth group in the evening was a gender-segregated affair. The boys played dodgeball and Halo or watched football while the girls did their own thing over in the old hall.
I spent Saturday morning sleeping in after a late Friday night, then played City of Heroes until lunch. After that, I went to Deb's and watched Without a Paddle, then went out to see Kung Fu Hustle. I enjoyed both movies.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I've got some kind of tension in my right shoulder.
PPS - I think it will go away after the LAN party is done, next Friday.

Friday, 19 August 2005

A very merry unbirthday to you

We need a new birthday song. The regular "Happy Birthday" is just embarrassing for everyone, so it's time it was retired. Current candidates for replacement include:
- Singing just the first two lines of Happy Birthday, so you stop before you say a name:
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you

- The Depressing Birthday Song (parody of Happy Birthday, includes depressed grunts and mentions worldwide despair and death).
Happy birthday. Unh.
Happy Birthday. Unh.
People living in despair.
People dying everywhere.
Happy birthday. Unh.

- The Wal E Weasel Gender-Neutral Special Birthday Song from The Simpsons. I like this one just a little bit more than the first one and a lot more than the second one.
You're the birthday
You're the birthday
You're the birthday boy or girl!

- A brand new song that has yet to materialise.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The one problem with the Wal E Weasel song is that, at the end, your tail has to fall off and catch fire.
PPS - I can't do that yet.

Thursday, 18 August 2005

People's Day

The Ekka holiday is called "People's Day" because if you drop by the showgrounds that day, you can see nothing but people wherever you go. There may be some other things to see, but it's hard to tell. Often, if you're around the more crowded spots, you'll find yourself standing completely still, just holding on to other people in your group so they don't get washed away from you in the tide. Occasionally you will be assaulted by arrogant, thin younger people who will push, barge and elbow their way through the crowd to get where they're going, even if that means pushing you over onto a pram containing a small child.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's not as bad as that everywhere, of course.
PPS - At one point, I remember seeing the ground for a second.

Tuesday, 16 August 2005

It's like hide and seek. Very slowly.

They've moved my vending machine again. This was a struggle earlier in the office refurbishments. Two vending machines used to live upstairs on level 2 in the Big Kitchen. One had a large selection of drinks that I enjoyed perusing and purchasing from. Earlier in the year, they moved it downstairs and it took me a week to find it again. Now it has moved from its new accustomed spot, leaving only a sad, empty electrical outlet and a big suspicious empty space. Upstairs, where it should now live again, there is a big blank wall, China-style, dividing the office.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Perhaps this time it is on the roof.
PPS - Or maybe down in the car park.

Monday, 15 August 2005

Which part of "Don't put my name on that" confused you?

As part of a visual arts display for last night's church service, I created an origami diorama. I use the terms "created" and "diorama" very loosely - I looked up a couple of patterns, folded them hastily and arranged them without much care. I was unable to work my vision in paper, so I decided I probably didn't want my name on it. When I delivered it to the church and saw the rest of the displays, my mind was made up. Amongst carefully-wrought floral arrangements, detailed paintings and a tiny silk gown sat my Amazon delivery box spray-painted green with quite simple origami models inside. I did not want to stand out against that background as the one found in the rubbish.

When I got to the service in the evening, I saw that someone had decided I needed to be identified with my "art". That made me so mad that I was about to rip the name off and probably throw the whole display in the bin for good measure. There were two good reasons I wanted my name off that piece. The first I have already expounded. The second is this: I did not want anyone looking at it and thinking about me, whether positive or negative, because that's not why we were supposed to make these displays.

In the end, I left the name on there. I don't know why, so I'm not about to try to explain. When I got my chance, I took that thing outside and tossed it in the boot of the car, lest it offend anyone else with its grotesque visage and mockery of decent craft.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It will join the city's recycling program now.
PPS - So that it may serve at least some good purpose.

Sunday, 14 August 2005

The Sunday Mok - Typhoid Mary

Last Sunday Dad stayed home from church, so I drove myself. In the afternoon I did several Bible study readings to catch up. I sang in the evening service, and the sound guys kept telling me "louder" while MJ on the keyboard said that it "sounds forced, pull back". I was getting kind of frustrated, because I never asked to sing in the first place, way back when.
On Monday I started getting to grips with the program I'll be using and maintaining for the next little while, the Multi-purpose Configuration Database, or MCDB. That basically describes my whole working week, through various activities.
Tuesday after work, karate and dinner, I went over to Debbie's and got sick. Sickness was definitely not part of the plan.
On Wednesday I was trying to stave off the sickness with vitamin C, but I could feel that it had a good foothold already. We had the first of our 40 Days of Purpose small group meetings that mostly rehashed material from the daily readings.
Thursday I intended to have an early night to help get rid of this head cold. That never quite happened. I skipped dinner.
By Friday I was just too sick to make it to work, so I stayed home to rest. I watched a few movies and some TV and slept.
Saturday was much the same as Friday turned out to be, except that I started a Task Force in City of Heroes. Because of the long time investment required, I've never managed to finish a Task Force mission set, and I didn't finish this one either.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The remnant of my sickness is now a sore throat.
PPS - And low energy reserves.

Friday, 12 August 2005

Sometimes a zombie is just a zombie

I have a Google Alert set up to email me news about zombies once a day. It seems, however, that the most talked-about zombies on the net are the spam-sending PC network type and Rob Zombie.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Occasionally I get news about new video games.
PPS - Like Stubbs the zombie or Possessed.

Thursday, 11 August 2005

Army of the Night

As part of a discussion about how to provide wide-coverage wireless broadband to the city of Brisbane, we went through the following iterations:
- Solar-powered autonomous planes circling the city
- The same planes with batteries to keep flying at night: "[lead] acid-filled planes"
- Acid-filled planes armed with lasers to take out birds that might befoul the solar panels (for longer guaranteed uptime)
- Acid-filled planes armed with lasers controlled by hawk brains to get that hunting instinct for free: "acid-filled cyborg hawks hunting pigeons"

Mokalus of Borg

PS - By then, the wireless broadband portion of the design was secondary.
PPS - This happens more often than I care to admit.

Wednesday, 10 August 2005

The Force I Believe In

Every time I casually mention to Erin that she is not, in fact, on television (a-la The Truman Show) she retorts that The Force is not real either. Usually she goes on to argue that she is on television, but I still can't have The Force. I just thought it would help to clear this up: I don't actually believe in The Force the same way it's depicted in Star Wars.

There is a Force that identifies the colours of our actions, Dark or Light, depending on motivation. When we act for selfish gain or are compelled to take a short-term advantage at the expense of long-term possibilities, that is the Dark Side. When our actions overall cost more than they produce, that is the Dark Side. When we act for altruistic purposes, build up for mutual gain and create rather than destroy, we are with the Light Side.

The Force I believe in will not tell you what another person is thinking, nor will it let you move objects with your mind, build a lightsabre or shoot lightning from your fingertips. It can, however, tell you how a particular person might act, given their Light/Dark alignment. It comes from inside you, not the universe.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It certainly doesn't come from midichlorians.
PPS - And Erin is not on television.

Tuesday, 9 August 2005

I want that truck

Since Tuesday is cheap movies day, now is an opportune time to post a review of Land of the Dead. I thought I'd have a problem with thinking zombies. Zombies sitting down to tea and discussing politics is one of the last things I want to see on screen unless, perhaps, they're just saying "brains". These ones are, thankfully, not quite as smart as that. They're still grunting, still shambling (relatively) aimlessly, and still having trouble with anticipating consequences. They're, well, zombies.

The upper-class citizens of Fiddler's Green live in luxury, deliberately unaware of and detached from the day-to-day struggles of the poorer people outside. The zombies start to march on the city and detachment is no longer possible. The high shots of streets overrun with zombies are sticking with me. There are explosions and gore, if you're into that, but there's plenty besides to keep the story rolling. Thoroughly recommended.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Try to guess the character names of the main zombie players before the credits.
PPS - I only got the really easy one.

Monday, 8 August 2005

It's a riveting saga, I know

The old Free Money container has had ups and downs of varying degree since its installation on my desk. When I arrived this morning, I found the bottom of the tray obscured by 5c coins. This brings the total cash count up high enough in one step that I don't know how much is there anymore.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It must be over $1.50 now.
PPS - I believe I have contributed about 40c.

Sunday, 7 August 2005

The Sunday Mok - Unproductive

Last Sunday afternoon I got to catch up with Ally, a friend from ages ago, and I also watched The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. We went to the local Coffee Club after the evening church service and it seemed like everyone was particularly funny. Lots of laughter.
Monday (and Tuesday, Wednesday, etc) at work I had nothing to do but standards documentation, which is quite uninspiring. To keep myself awake I'd pick up some code now and then to tinker with it.
Tuesday I missed karate because the bus was completely full when it pulled up to my stop in the afternoon. Since the next bus was half an hour away, I hurried into the city centre to catch a different bus that ended up arriving back home at about the same time. Watched Night of the Living Dead.
On Wednesday I went to Debbie's place after dinner and caught up with Erin there. I started feeling stressed about the few extra-curricular deadlines I've got coming up that I haven't made any progress on. I'm bad at planning ahead and a chronic procrastinator.
On Thursday Debbie and I went to the Paddington Sit Down Comedy Club, which was fun. The place was rather empty, though. Must have been the fact that it was a weeknight.
Friday the youth group did the Winter Sleepout to raise money for Mission Australia. I slept inside on a couch.
Saturday was a massive day. I woke early and the whole youth group went to the 40 Days of Purpose launch breakfast. I had to sing. After that, I went home and slept until lunchtime, then went out to shop, have dinner and see Land of the Dead with Deb. Then I was awake until after midnight.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This morning I have a headache.
PPS - It's not too bad, though.

Friday, 5 August 2005

Is it Malcolm Something?

I consistently forget Jeff Goldblum's name. Every time I see him in something new, somehow it's slipped out of my brain once again.

Of one thing I am certain, however: he was not in Fantastic Four, contrary to certain friends' claims.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That was Ioan Gruffudd.
PPS - IMDB is such a great tool.

Thursday, 4 August 2005

Zombie sprinter breaks world record - 100m in 3min

George A. Romero, godfather of zombie movies, says zombies should be slow. Personally I think that both fast zombies (Dawn of the Dead remake, 28 Days Later) have their place, as do slower "classic" zombies. I start having problems when zombies show intelligence even just at the level of tool-using. I was upset when one in the Dawn remake held a door open for another one. I got similarly distressed when I saw zombies wielding makeshift clubs in Night of the Living Dead.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This is why I'm apprehensive about Land of the Dead.
PPS - Still excited, though. It opens today in Australia.

Wednesday, 3 August 2005

Jesus Christ, Zombie Hunter

Our Monday night Disciple bible studies sometimes afford interesting opportunities that I am quick to latch onto. This week, we were asked to rewrite a passage of the Bible in our own words, which means choosing another analogy, when we get right down to it. My "masterpiece" from Monday follows:
I am the Master Ninja Monk, guardian of the monastery. All who were here before me were nothing but a shambling horde of ravenous zombies. My students stayed well clear of them. Those who come and go on my watch will be safe. Though the zombies attack, I will save them. I don't plan to lose a single one - they will all live long under my protection.
I will fight to the death at the door for my students. The other teachers, who came for an easy life, fled from the zombies. My students know me. They know my flying snake-fist kung fu, just as I learned it from my own master. There are more students yet to teach, that have not yet found me, and they too are mine. They will be in the monastery under my guard, too.
My master knows I will guard my students with my life from the zombie horde - I do this by my own will, and if I am struck down, I will rise again. This is what my master taught me.
John 10:7-18. Sort of.
Mokalus of Borg

PS - For comparison, here is the real version.
PPS - It's that whole "I am the gate and the good shepherd" bit.

Tuesday, 2 August 2005


Since Tycho linked to it, I've played this game a few times, and it's really quite fascinating. I didn't really get it at first, and then after a couple of tries now I understand. I don't think I'll deny you that particular "Aha!" by telling you what's going on, but you really must try it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - There's absolutely nothing to the interface.
PPS - Drag and drop. Who knew it could be addictive?

Monday, 1 August 2005

San Francisco: Zombie flashmob

Why doesn't stuff like this ever happen on my turf? Basically this group of ... "enthusiasts" dressed up as zombies to shamble along one particular street towards a train station, adding to their ranks as they went. Then they had a picnic. In a cemetary. Plus the Zombie Olympics.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I guess I'll have to start doing this kind of thing myself.
PPS - If I ever get around to it, I'll let you know.