Posted by MrTact on Sep 18, 2009 in microsoft
I have a confession. Having vilified and vituperated Office 2007 for going on two years now, I have to admit (now that I have used it for a while): I like it. It was a massive paradigm change, and they could have done a better job of providing pointers to where features moved to (you have to launch help every time — why isn’t there just a search box in the Office menu that says “where’d my shit go?”). But really, the immediacy of accessing commands through the ribbon along with the pervasiveness of live preview more than makes up for it. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Why, oh why, in this 2009th year of the current era, does Word still not recognize when a file on disk has changed to read only? And worse, let you make modifications to that file that you cannot save, except by either saving the file to a different name (and then deleting the old version of the file and renaming the new one) or copying the changes, closing and then reopening the file in write mode (and praying you don’t make a copy/paste error that sends your changes to the Big Bit Bucket in the Sky). I can’t be the only one having this problem; I’m positive I’m not the only person on the planet who keeps Word docs in source control.
Come on, Microsoft! This one is even more irritating than the Excel copy and paste thing!
Posted by MrTact on Sep 4, 2009 in meta
The long-threatened move to WordPress has happened. You may see a bunch of old posts in your RSS feed. (Hopefully!) Sorry for the spam. At least that means it’s working! Thank you, mod_rewrite!
And yes, if you happen to be looking at the site directly: ye gods, this theme blows. But I haven’t had a chance to update it yet. That’ll be the next chore.
Posted by MrTact on Aug 18, 2009 in healthcare
I had health insurance for over a year through Golden Rule while working as a self-employed contractor. I transitioned into a full-time job for several months, and when that went away I reapplied to Golden Rule to resume coverage.
During the time I was on an employer’s health insurance, I did the right thing: went and had a physical. Everything came back extremely positive—blood pressure good, blood work good, low cholesterol, weight (ahem) within reasonable tolerance. However, I happened to mention during the physical that I had a heart murmur, a minor defect called a Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP). My doctor asked how I knew this; I mentioned that another physician had pointed it out to me about fifteen years before during an exam, and that they had identified it using a stethoscope. He asked whether I had had an echocardiogram to confirm it, and I said no, that my understanding was it was a very minor issue and had never sought any treatment for it.
He referred me to a cardiologist; I went. She confirmed the diagnosis with an ECG. Then I lost my job.
When I reapplied to Golden Rule, enough time had passed that they could not simply resume coverage. We had to re-apply, which we did. Because of the cardiologist visit, I put the MVP on the form.
And was rejected because of it. I was advised that I might be insurable through the Texas Risk Pool.
This is not meant as a sob story. There are many people far worse off than I. I was actually lucky—I might have taken ill, incurred a ruinous healtcare expense, and had them cancel me retroactively for this. My point is that if the dysfunction of our health care system can impact me in this way—although my health is actually quite good and I have a decent income—it can affect anyone. It can affect you.
Posted by admin on Aug 12, 2009 in demos
I don’t know how or why, but I had it stuck in my head that Batman: Arkham Asylum was going to be a dog. Just finished the demo, and I have to say, the last time a demo made me want to run right out and get the game now was… well, it was inFamous, not to put too fine a point on it. But before that? Um… BioShock?
If the whole game experience manages to sustain half the quality of the demo, this is a game that will be well worth it. The thing that put me over the top was the so-called “invisible predator” gameplay. In some fights, you’re just hammering a bunch of guys all at once, which is entertaining enough. (If you played the Watchmen demo, this part of the game feels much like a highly polished version of that.) But then there are sections where there are large numbers of bad guys with guns. If you leap straight into the fray, they’re going to perforate you. So you do… exactly what Batman should do: climb up high and out of sight with your grappling gun, or hide under floor panels, or a myriad of other stealthy tricks, and pick them off one by one. Highly entertaining. And that’s just scratching the surface of the gameplay, from the looks of things. Detective mode is the coolest. All in all, it plays like a Splinter Cell game, if Sam Fisher was… well, the Batman.
Alas, it won’t be in stores until the 25th. Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
Posted by MrTact on Aug 11, 2009 in Uncategorized
I have seen a number of articles recently on health care rationing (like this one at Investor’s Business Daily, which originally included the hilarious bit of misinformation that Stephen Hawking, lifelong U.K. resident, could not receive adequate treatment on the N.H.S.), and I am compelled to point out what a giant steaming pile of BS they are. Folks, we already have health care rationing. The only difference between the public option and what we have now is that a government bureaucrat would decide whether or not it makes sense to fund a treatment that might save your life, as opposed to a corporate one. And, in case you’re not keeping score, here’s the salient difference between those two guys: the government guy only cares about the cost of treatment; the corporate guy cares about cost plus profit margin.
Don’t believe me? I encourage you to google “health insurance rescission,” which should get you to a bunch of really nifty articles, like this one at NPR.
Posted by MrTact on Jul 4, 2009 in Uncategorized
When your wife actually accuses you of being willing to edit Wikipedia just to win an argument.
Yes, this actually happened. (Last night, in fact.)
No, I don’t think my marriage is in trouble
Posted by MrTact on Jun 10, 2009 in Uncategorized
This will not be one of your shinier, happier blog posts, so you might want to skip this one, six people who actually subscribe to this thing. Still, it’s a weird and unique state I’m in, and insofar as this is the only form of journal I keep anymore, I believe it’s important to record how I’m feeling right now.
At this very moment I should be packing. My family and I are leaving at 4 AM to catch a flight to upstate New York, where my dad is soon to die of cancer. It’s weird to say that, stating it baldly as a fact like that. As though it was merely something you read in an encyclopedia, sanitized, no emotional freight attached whatsoever.
It’s weird to be packing. Feels like I ought to be doing something more… spiritual. Metaphysical. But I’m putting stuff into a bag. Things I must remember, that I’m likely to forget: toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving gear, power cords for electronic widgets. (I’ll be up there for some time, and will be working from there. Must bring all the parts of the laptop.) Clothes, of course, but only a week’s worth. We’ll do laundry and wear the same stuff each week.
I was thinking, as I laid all these items out, of my earliest memory of my father. I was perhaps five years old. We were living in our house on Spa Drive in Saratoga Springs. My dad had a bike, a big old blue Schwinn that must have weighed fifty or sixty pounds. I remember it had a horn button on the frame. We would go out riding, he and I, with me balancing on the frame, or maybe the handlebars. This one time, he took us down a slight grade — I want to say a side road, or a logging road; my Texas brain says frontage road, but that’s not possible. It had rained, and we took a spill. I bawled my head off, both of us were covered in mud. And I remember how he took his handkerchief and wiped the mud off my face.
When we found out in January that he had cancer, I knew that it was the end for him. His overall health has not been great these last few years, and I didn’t think he had the fight in him to lick it. I made my peace with it then, with some difficulty. I haven’t felt affected much by his recent downturn, because I believed I had come to terms with it.
I have always thought the place we crashed was over by Yaddo gardens, but I can’t think of a spot that matches my (admittedly fragmented) mental image of it. It occurred to me that soon — probably already; by all accounts my dad is not lucid — I will no longer be able to ask him. All of a sudden, I was overcome with a profound sadness. Stupid grief. It won’t fight you like a man, gotta be sneaking up when you’re not looking.
Then I wrote this down, and I felt a little better about it.
I’m not the first person to say this, but if there’s any good to come from a person leaving this life, it is to remind us to cherish the people we hold dear, and make sure they know how we feel about them every day. In all too short a while, one of you will be gone.
Posted by MrTact on May 9, 2009 in Uncategorized
So I’m lying on the couch just now, watching a show. My son Aidan comes over and climbs under the blanket I’m using.
Me: No, go away. If I wanted a small boy I would have come and got one.
Aidan: Well, you had to help Mommy make me, so you’re stuck with me.
Me: You don’t even know what you’re talking about.
Aidan: I really don’t. I don’t have a clue.
Posted by MrTact on Apr 17, 2009 in Uncategorized
Whose blog usually supplies me with the best Flash games, here I am returning the favor:
Also appropriate to the weather today, which has been rattling my windows and chasing the dog under my desk all morning. From Warren Ellis, of all people. (Warning: if you don’t know who Warren Ellis is, beware that his blog is often not so much Not Safe For Work as it is Not Safe For Any Humans, Anywhere.)
Posted by MrTact on Feb 27, 2009 in Uncategorized
It’s late, and I’m quite tired, but I decided (in the car on the way home from gaming, if you must know) that I must blog. And then I had a thought, very clearly: “have to feed the beast.”
I found that supremely interesting. I know a lot of writers have this mental image of a small voice inside them that tells them stories. Laura Mixon even talks to hers; she had a name for it at VP, but darned if I can remember what she called it.1
Suddenly I realized, nothing small about my inner voice. My inner voice is a snarling, slavering thing that wants nothing more than to slip its chain and tear some shit up.
So I write to feed the beast. Which made me think, hmm, if writing is feeding the beast, what does it eat?
1 Just remembered: she called it “her beast.” Dumbass.