November 27, 2004

Thanksgiving Vacation 2004

I've been sick to death since I arrived that I somehow managed to forget the AC adapter for my Powerbook G4 back in North Carolina, in spite of the fact that I specifically had an item for it in my OmniOutliner pre-trip checklist. The only solution that the local CompUSA and Best Buy can offer is a $120 AC and DC targus adapter. Unfortunately, that's $50 more than I'm willing to spend for such a beast, but hardly surprising considering that Apple insists on charging $80 for their own plain old Powerbook AC adapter. If I get the chance then I will try to stop by the Apple Store at Legacy Village to see if they have a more reasonably-priced generic adapter, but my guess is that I will probably go without until I can get back home.

This throws a monkey wrench into my plans of transferring a few gigs worth of media to my parents' computer, and parking myself at a cafe to do some Lisp coding during my time off from work. Such is the cruel life that I lead. Thus far, I haven't had time for such activities, anyway.

Thanksgiving day, itself, was rather nice. It was spent at my parents' house with my immediate family, grandparents, and a handful of aunts, uncles, and cousins from my Dad's side (it's funny how I all of a sudden feel completely comfortable calling it my "parents' house" when it was "home" for so many years). Events of note include the fact that my Dad lent me his Nikon D100 camera to use for the day. I have absolutely fallen in love with the machine, and this is probably a bad thing in the near-term given the price-tag. Boys with toys... Here are some of the photos I took:

Grandpa Staiger Elizabeth Grandma Staiger Grandpa Staiger, Sam, and my Uncle John My brother, Sam, cutting the turkey Max waiting for scraps

(All are available at my Thanksgiving 2004 folder)

I also won $50 playing poker. I think I'm going to quit my job and become a professional poker player.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 08:16 PM | Permanent link

The drive to Ohio

The drive up to Ohio from Carolina wasn't terribly bad. I was able to leave directly from work at around 3pm and head North. I hit quite a lot of holiday traffic on my way out of North Carolina on into western Virginia, along with some hard rain, but after that cleared up things were pretty smooth all the way through West Virginia to Akron.

Given that this time of year the sun sets at 4:30 in the evening, the majority of my drive was done in the dark (I sometimes wonder if Ecuador wouldn't be the happiest place on Earth if US foreign policy hadn't been working diligently to thwart sane South American governments at every turn, hmmm). This, and the realization, once again, that considering the money that I spent on fuel, tolls, and food, a plane ticket would have only been an additional $100, means that I will likely be booking a flight for Christmas as soon as I get back home, and provides an additional reminder that someday I might like to learn how to fly a plane.

Still, Harry Potter and the Podcasts, shortened the drive considerably. I'm terribly lucky that I remembered to throw the Vector DC/AC converter that my parents had gotten me last Christmas in my car (still sealed in the original packaging no less), or the last four hours of my trip would have been awfully quiet after my iPod battery ran out.

I arrived in Ohio at around 1:30AM. Luckily, my sister had her boyfriend over and I was able to sneak in an unlocked front door and find the empty bed where I formerly slept.

In General

Posted at 07:16 PM | Permanent link

November 23, 2004

Making the drive

Tomorrow after work I'm making the trip to Ohio, by car this time - a nice nine hour drive.

My family doesn't know that I'm coming yet, but if they're reading this blog then I think I may have larger problems than simply spoiling the surprise :)

Depending on what time "after work" ends up being, this may become a problem. As I'm not terribly enamored with the thought of being dead tired for Thanksgiving day, I may decide to haul up in a hotel around half-way if it gets too late and then set out again early in the morning. However, I'm also bringing my sleeping bag so that I can camp outside my house if I arrive at 3 AM and everyone happens to be locked inside asleep.

My iPod is packed with Podcasts from Dawn and Drew to Dave Slusher to IT Conversations to The Super Smart Radio Whore Sex Show (and of course Adam Curry). I've also got all 23 discs of Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix stuffed in there as well. I'm rather looking forward to it...the first few hours anyway.

I've also carrying the inspiration of Travels with Samantha in the back of my mind (though on a much smaller scale, of course).

Hope to see some friends this weekend as well. I'll be in town until Tuesday.

In General

Posted at 11:55 PM | Permanent link

And now a word from Matt McCurry

21:56:50 oysterjelly56: hey does case offer any online courses you know of?
21:57:01 oysterjelly56: or do you even remember case?
21:57:18 oysterjelly56: you know, that place you went to before you fell ass backwards into money?
21:57:26 joshstaiger: hahaha
21:57:31 joshstaiger: no, not that I know of
21:57:35 oysterjelly56: aight

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 11:53 PM | Permanent link

November 22, 2004

Some corrections for [the book] ANSI Common Lisp

Below is a letter, I recently wrote to Paul Graham.

Dear Mr. Graham,

I am gradually working my way through your book, ANSI Common Lisp, and I've noticed a few things, which you might like to note in your errata (and for possible future editions). These are noted below.

Appologies for the verbosity of this email. Hope you can find the time to make it all the way though.

I would also like to say that this is a fantastic book, and I have enjoyed reading it immensely, as I have with Hackers and Painters and many of your other essays.

Keep up the good work!

Take care,

Josh Staiger


1. p. 97. In chapter five, problem four, you ask the reader to rewrite the num-month function located in Figure 5.1 (page 94). Unfortunately the num-month function does not appear in Figure 5.1, but rather in Figure 5.2 (page 96).

This leads to some confusion on whether you would like the num-month function in Figure 5.2 to be rewritten or the month-num function in Figure 5.1 to be rewritten. I assume that you mean month-num from figure 5.1, as it seems to make much more sense to rewrite using a case statement.

2. p. 127. There is a bug in the function buf-flush.

A (buf-reset b) call needs to be added as the first line of the body to output any characters that have already been read with buf-next.

 (defun buf-flush (b str)
   (buf-reset b) ; bug-fix  <------------
   (do ((i (1+ (buf-used b)) (1+ i)))
       ((> i (buf-end b)))
     (princ (bref b i) str)))

For example, without this fix using stream-subst to match the string "ec" on the string "ee" would leave a trailing 'e' in the buffer at the end which would be read by buf-next but would never be outputted with buf-flush.

 > (with-input-from-string (in "ee")
     (stream-subst "ec" "foo" in *standard-output*))

3. p. 141. There is a small bug in henley. When we read in a body of text using read-text, no following symbols will be associated with the very last word in the text in the *words* hash (unless it has already appeared previously in the text). This becomes a problem if we try to call random-next on this symbol, as the function will try to randomly pick a (non-existant) following choice.

 > (random-next '|lastsym|)

Yields the error:

 Argument is not a positive integer or a positive float: 0

My quick solution to this was simply to modify random-next to assume the '|.| symbol if we happen to hit the last symbol.

 (defun random-next (prev)
  (let ((choices (gethash prev *words*)))
    (if (null choices)
      (let ((i (random (reduce #'+ choices
                               :key #'cdr))))
        (dolist (pair choices)
          (if (minusp (decf i (cdr pair)))
              (return (car pair))))))))

In Technology and Software

Posted at 07:47 PM | Permanent link

November 21, 2004

A snapshot of my life circa November 2004

From an email I sent to Anders on 11/7/2004:

It [work] really is very different than school, and it seems that I'm realizing more and more differences as time goes on. In spite of this, however, I still consider IBM to be my second education. If I had to guess, I'd say that I've learned just as much over the past eight odd months as I did during a comparable semester at school. It's the shock of practicality, I suppose and it makes one realize that the willingness to learn new things and solve problems and work hard are the most important things that one could possibly get out of undergrad. Then again, I guess it's different for different people and different jobs. From talking to Amy Chan, it unfortunately sounds like she doesn't find her job particularly rewarding.

I sometimes wonder how the tech industry differs from other industries. At least in software, the myth of being able to go home at 5 and not have homework is completely untrue. For the past two weeks I've been lucky to get out of work by 8pm (sitting in a cube with no windows, now that it is getting dark early, I hardly see the sun), and I can't remember the last weekend where work was not on my mind for at least part of it. This is the life many of my co-workers lead as well. I knew this going in and it doesn't bother me all that much at this point in my life, but I believe it is a misconception that many people in college have. Amy Chan tells me that things weren't like this when she was at P&G, and that it is one of the big things that bothers her about Accenture. It makes me wonder. It will be interesting to hear what other people's experiences are when (and if) they enter the workplace vs grad school and such.

One of the things I really do miss from school is the social atmosphere. Sure, I have friends here, but it just isn't quite the same. I don't think there is that same bond of everyone being in the same boat "getting through this together". The cultures of working hard because you are being paid to do so, and working hard solely for the purpose of learning something are quite different. That was something that was somewhat unexpected to me, although I'm really not sure why.

Well, I'm typing this to you while sitting in a coffee shop eating breakfast. I just finished my pancakes and coffee so I had better go. Really, I've had a bit too much caffeine I think and am quite jittery right now so I apologize for any typos.

In Matters involving the art of avoiding sloth

Posted at 08:00 PM | Permanent link

November 17, 2004

The crime of the Mac OS X Software Updates restart dialog

Dear Apple,

Why do you insist on making the baby Jesus cry?

Why, oh why, do you not offer a "Restart Later" button in the dialog that appears after Software Update finishes its installations?

We are offered a choice of "Shut Down" or "Restart", both of which adversely impact all other operations that we happen to be performing with our computer at the time. Not only that, but Software Update runs at periodic intervals by itself in the background, increasing the chance that one *will* be doing something else in other applications at the time that Software Update issues it's edict that it is time to Shut Down or Restart.

Perhaps you would be interested in reading this book that I found. It's by a fellow named Inc. Apple Computer. Sounds like you would get along famously. Although, I'm told that he originally wrote this book in 1993, so perhaps you should attempt to locate him and ask him if there have been any advancements in UI design over the past ten odd years.

Love the PowerBook G4.

Tell Steve I said hi,


Update 11/18/04:

My desktop background is this photo, taken by Philip Geenspun in Malibu.

In Technology and Software

Posted at 08:03 AM | Permanent link

November 16, 2004

Bloggercon - Myrtle Beach

Dave Slusher is tossing out the possibility of possibly organizing a regional Bloggercon in Myrtle Beach after the holidays. I, for one, would certainly be down with that. Looks like Dave Winer is also down.

Add a comment to Dave's post if you're also down.

In Blogging

Posted at 11:34 PM | Permanent link

November 15, 2004

Totalitarianism in Religious Culture

Eric S. Raymond has written a mildly interesting article on the tendencies central to Christianity and Islam.

If only religious fundamentalist states, such as the United States, would take heed of the destruction their close-minded culture is breeding, then perhaps the world would be better off.

It's ok, though. Perhaps the Internet will eventually bring freedom, to such rogue nations.

In General

Posted at 11:48 PM | Permanent link


To my complete surprise, while visiting Ohio, my Uncle John once again came up with tickets for the Steelers-Browns game this weekend. Thusly I was able to keep my impressive streak of attending Steelers v. Browns home games and leaving wishing I hadn't (three years running now).

I have been calling for Butch Davis's head since last year after he has shown complete ineptitude at managing the clock, and especially after the whole Tim Couch/Kelly Holcomb debacle. A year later it appears that the house of cards is well into it's collapse.

At least it was a nice day and I got some decent photos.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 10:52 AM | Permanent link

November 14, 2004

Website thoughts

The strictly linear nature of this website is beginning to get a bit unwieldily. Something will have to change.

In Site News

Posted at 11:41 PM | Permanent link

Clambake Photos

Here are some of the photos that I like from the clambake this weekend.

A big thank you to the What is a Second Cousin article from Ayershire Roots for helping me finally make sense of this first, second, removed nonsense.

Gwendolyn (first cousin once-removed)

Left-to-right, Gwendolyn, Isabelle, and Joseph (all first cousins once-removed)

My sister Elizabeth

In General

Posted at 11:00 PM | Permanent link

November 13, 2004

The friends-family visitation dilemma

Having attended a University in fairly close proximity to home has had unexpected consequences for the infrequent nature of my post-graduation visits.

Whenever I come into town, my time necessarily needs to be split between spending time with my family and spending time with my many friends who still live in the area.

Invariably, whenever I'm spending time with one group, I feel somewhat guilty that I'm not spending enough time with the people in the other.

I suppose that the problem will become less-so as friends graduate, finish grad school, and move away, but in that case perhaps the solution is worse than the problem.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 02:26 PM | Permanent link

Photos from this morning's walk

Ah, back in good old overcast Bath, OH.

These pictures were taken at the O'Neill Woods Metropark.

Uploading photos using a dial-up connection is a punishment unbefitting of those located at Guantanamo Bay.

In Matters that are otherwise worthwhile

Posted at 01:08 PM | Permanent link

November 12, 2004

Dave Slusher in the pix

Dave Slusher of Evil Genius Chronicles Podcasting fame looks almost the complete polar opposite of how I pictured him.

Maybe some day I'll be able to meet the man and wrap my mind around this because right now I just can't.

It's funny how one's visual imagination reacts differently to voice than it does to plain old text.

In General

Posted at 09:58 AM | Permanent link

November 10, 2004

Contact Info

Taking a page from Philip Greenspun's book, I have decided to post my contact information in it's entirety: email, phone, and address (complete with map). I will be putting up directions to my house when I get the chance.

22:23:50 joshstaiger: email, phone, address
22:23:52 joshstaiger: it's all up
22:24:02 joshstaiger: guess we'll see how that works out
22:25:36 edawg1701: you don't mind having your address and number displayed
22:25:44 joshstaiger: nah
22:25:50 joshstaiger: what's the worst that can happen?
22:25:59 edawg1701: unabomber
22:26:13 joshstaiger: yeah, well he could look in the phone book (or buy my information from a telemarketer)
22:31:29 joshstaiger: I'd say the chances of the unibomber sending me a gift are about the same as a busty blond calling me or showing up at my house
22:31:40 joshstaiger: and as far as I'm concerned, those two things cancel each other out
22:32:17 edawg1701: it would be really funny right now if a busty blond showed up at your door
22:32:52 joshstaiger: yeah, but god hates me, so we don't have to worry about that possibility

In Site News

Posted at 11:29 PM | Permanent link

November 09, 2004

In Cleveland 11/12-11/15

I'm taking a couple days off work and will be in Cleveland from Friday to Monday this weekend. I have a family function to attend on Saturday night. For those of you that are still being held captive there, give me a holla if you want to grab a bite to eat or something.

In General

Posted at 07:32 PM | Permanent link

Paul Graham on Charisma

Paul Graham is commenting on the election and is making some very good (if somewhat obvious) points.

This only reinforces my point that Steve Jobs would make the ideal presidential candidate.

Ok, but enough about trivial things like the President of the United States and onto more important things like RSS and Lisp and sandwiches.

In General

Posted at 07:22 PM | Permanent link

November 05, 2004

The New Map

It's worth re-posting here:


(from the LiberalTimes post here)

In General

Posted at 06:50 PM | Permanent link

November 03, 2004

Election 2004

Well, let's just hope that Bush has learned from his mistakes over that past four years...

Oh wait. I forgot. He hasn't made any. Silly me.

Trying to keep my mind off of politics and... Americans.

That's all I want to say about it... for quite some time.

In General

Posted at 11:38 PM | Permanent link