The Dancer in the Shadows

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Why I Have No Appreciation For Today

Today is the first of April, commonly known as "April Fool's Day".

As a very young child, I played many a prank and was the target of at least as many pranks, all in good fun.  Then one April first morning, I woke to find small red dots all over my younger brother.  T'was an unusual April first as this time I didn't remember it was the first of April on waking.  I didn't even consider that my brother might have set up a prank the night before, and woke Mom to tell her about the red spots.

Initially she thought it was just another April Fool's prank and simply ignored us.  Eventually, she 'humored' me because I would not let up.  When I didn't finally shout, "April Fool!" she assumed it was my brother pulling the prank and he had caught me, but he never piped up either.  This finally led to Mom trying to wash some of the spots off; it didn't work.  Several variations later, the spots still remained and she bluntly asked what we used to put the spots on.  My brother and I looked at her and each other cluelessly.  Finally she said something to the effect of, "Great April Fool's prank, but it's time to give it up."  We both said this wasn't and we hadn't even remembered the day.  This was when Mom finally took us seriously and called to see if the doctor could see my brother today.

It turned out that the red spots were a symptom of Scarlet fever; an infection that, while not normally fatal on its own anymore, if left untreated can cause other complications such as a weakened heart.  We caught it in time, and my brother, to the best of our knowledge over thirty years later, has no complications from it.  However, since that day, I no longer have an appreciation for April Fool's Day pranks, and on the rare occasion someone close to me who already knows about this does try to pull such a prank on me, I am insulted by it.  I have also quit a job in the past because the company owner insisted on yearly pranks from everyone.

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Monday, December 23, 2013

Approaching Holidays

With the holidays approaching, I wonder what we as a people are really doing to ourselves...

We are flooded with blatant commercialization and very few outside of the fiercely religious seem to recall where these holidays came from or what they really mean.

I recall being irritated during my Christian (Roman Catholic, to be specific) upbringing with the excessive commercialization then, and over the years it has only gotten worse.

To the Christians of all denominations: your celebration is about the birth of the One you believe to be the Savior of your immortal souls.  On the assumption that the nativity narrative in the Gospels is word for word accurate, HE WAS BORN IN A STABLE AND HIS FIRST BABY CRIB WAS AN ANIMALS' FOOD TROTH!  Where in that is there any race to see who can give the best gifts, or worse, get the most or most expensive gifts?

To those who are not Christian, but 'celebrate' Christmas anyway: what are you doing?  Why are you celebrating a different (competing?) religion's second most holy holiday?  Why wait until a specific day on the calendar to give loved ones gifts?

And to both groups: if you have to force yourself to find something for the gift giving, does the gift really come from your heart?  Or is it coming from a feeling of obligation to do what's expected?  If it is the latter, you're better off ignoring the calendar, and giving gifts that really mean something regardless of what day it is.

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Friday, October 18, 2013

Smoke Breaks Save Lives

What started as just a smoke break for a couple of my team coworkers was a life-saving event for a complete stranger.  They went outside to enjoy their smokes and chat for a few minutes when they saw someone approaching them very red-faced.  As the stranger got closer, they could see he was also holding his throat and struggling to walk.  One of them knew how to do the Heimlich and did so without hesitation; this dislodged whatever the stranger was choking on and he was able to breath again.

Afterwards, he didn't tell anyone else about it.  It turns out that the stranger was technically also a coworker on a different floor of our building.  I found out about this because the stranger contacted HR to express his thanks since he didn't know what floor my team mate was on.  HR decided that my team mate deserved more than just words, even though he was more than content to simply have helped someone in need.

This is the kind of person I work with, and it is because of working with these people that I'm willing to put up with some of upper management's stupid decisions.  (All upper management makes stupid decisions sometimes... You can't help it when you become disconnected from the real world).

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Windows Memory Management

In working with computers, one of my greatest frustrations has been with how Windows manages itself and the programs it is host to.  Not being a Windows programmer myself, I often find myself asking what the programmers or designers were thinking (or sometimes smoking when no transmutation of thought could possibly explain the situation).

The most common has to do with Windows Memory Management and what to swap or not swap to the paging file.  I am currently monitoring several memory and paging metrics and am at a complete loss to come up with any possible explanation for the design decisions that must have been made to arrive at this scenario.

The host has 4 GB ram total.  Of that, 372 MB is currently in use as disk cache, and 414 MB is completely unused, listing a total available for new programs and activities of 786 MB.  The process I'm working with has a Memory Working Set of 53 MB, a Private Working Set of 38 MB, and a Commit Size of 54 MB.  With the free memory being almost ten times the largest measurement of the process's usage, I can't come up with any scenario in which this process should hang for over a minute while the Memory Management System is resolving page faults and swapping this process's active memory in and out of the page file on the disk.  And yet it does.  If the host were running out of memory, sure, I could understand having to do a lot of paging.  If this process had been completely idle while other processes had been busy, perhaps.  This isn't the case though...

This is the primary active process at the moment, using a "whopping" 4% of the CPU.  CPU usage total is 5%.

If anyone out there could shed some light on this I'd greatly appreciate it...

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Monday, September 09, 2013

I Hate Budgets

On a practical note: budgets are a source of both freedom and pain...

This time was an experience in panic.  I updated my personal finance budget projections and suddenly I'm predicting running out of money entirely in a couple months rather than barely holding stable like i have been for about a year.  After the initial panic passed, I started looking for why.  What changed?  What is different now that would cause the small reserves I have struggled to build to suddenly vanish so quickly?  It turns out that in my most recent projections, I accidentally doubled the mortgage payments on both houses.

(Yes, I own two houses... It is a long story; the really short version is that while I got the marital house in the divorce, my Ex got to live in it rent free... Not entirely certain what I will do with the extra house once the Ex-rent-free period ends...)

Having a solid budget has given me peace of mind that I have not had in a long time.  I know my bills are going to be paid, I know how much I can spend on various things, I even have a solid answer for how long I could go without changing my spending if I lost my job tomorrow.  HOWEVER, I hate doing the updates and projections.  I hate the fear and panic that ensues when I make a mistake (like this one) that severely throws off my projections.  And I hate the amount of time it takes to deal with the budget that I would much rather put into something more tangibly productive.

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Natural Rights and the United States Constitution

I stumbled across someone's writing and a notable error in the author's understanding of Rights and the United States Constitution struck me as one of the roots of some of the problems currently faced in the world today.

Contrary to what many seem to believe, the United States Constitution does not grant any Rights at all.  The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights in particular, recognizes life, liberty, communication, expression, self defense, association, privacy, etc, as Natural Rights that all humans possess and no individual or organization is justified in ever taking any of these Natural Rights away from anyone.  In fact, the Ninth Amendment fairly explicitly states this:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

A rough translation into modern American English is, "this isn't a complete list, and the government isn't allowed to step on any Natural Rights just because they weren't listed here."  For this to 'not be a complete list,' logically, the Constitution can't be granting anything, only recognizing what already exists.

What I can't answer, because I simply do not know, is how we came to a point where anyone believes the Constitution grants any rights.  I remember this as being both quite obvious from reading the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence, and later being very clearly taught in my United States history and government classes.

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Monday, August 26, 2013


Emotions are rarely wise, but then I think they are specifically supposed to be a counterbalance to wisdom so we remain compassionate, no matter how wise we become.

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Monday, August 19, 2013


This morning as I rode in to work, my thoughts turned toward contemplations that I would have liked to have posted here... and now that I am at a computer rather than astride a steel horse galloping in excess of 100 km/h, I can't even remember the topic I was thinking about, let alone the thoughts I had intended to post...


--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Feeling... Blah... When Able to Type

I'm finding this very frustrating...  While at a computer when I am able to type here, I'm usually either buried in work, or my mind is mostly blank.  This leaves me with either nothing to write, or no time to write it.

However, while I'm driving, riding my Steel Horse, Ezzy, riding my bicycle, etc...  Places where it is very dangerous (at best) for me to type, my mind races through subjects, sometimes three or four at a time in parallel, that I really want to write about.

Some of them are topics to think about, to get out in words for contemplation.  A couple of them are story pieces I want to rework, and am considering doing that here.

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Monday, July 29, 2013

"You Did This Already"

There are times when the only response I truly feel is simply to scream my frustration.  I am currently stuck with no other options than to simply watch as as the observed entities (on several levels) repeat the exact same pattern and expect different results.  I have lost count of how many times this pattern has been repeated now, without change, and the observed entities make no changes but expect different results.

At the moment, I want to scream at the top of my lungs until I loose my voice something to the effect of, "You have already done this and know the results.  Repeating it exactly the same will no more bring different results than repeatedly adding two plus two will ever get a different result than four!!"

It really is that obvious a repeating pattern, to anyone who actually looks, with that obvious an outcome.  However, I am not in a position to be able to say anything at all about it unless asked, and I am very unlikely to be asked.

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Friday, July 19, 2013

Needed a Mini Zelda Fix

I'm not certain exactly what prompted me to do the search, but I now have the Life Hearts as my battery status indicator and the Triforce spinning as my wallpaper.

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Getting Away

I took a camping trip mini-break from the modern world.  No electricity.  No air conditioning.  I would say no running water, but I was camping less than fifteen meters (approximately fifty feet) from a beautiful flowing river.  These are a few of the pictures.  (Obviously I had my camera).  Going back again this coming weekend.

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Twist of Irony

It has been raining heavily daily for a week or so, making riding to work impractical due to electronics I carry with me.  This has resulted in me driving my car instead.  As all vehicles do, my car needed more fuel, so I filled up to continue going to work.  And now, in a painful twist of irony, I am unable to ride the more fuel efficient motorcycle to work on this absolutely beautiful day because I don't have the gas money... I had to put it in the car during the rains to continue going to work.

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

On Pain and Metaphors

Much as I have found I need the outlet that this blog provides me, I have also discovered that some of the things I need to let out are so intensely painful to even contemplate that I need to stop and step away mid-draft multiple times.

I often speak here in metaphors, mostly because I find it easier to express the concepts and ideas using parallels that are easier to describe.  Often I have a concept to express that I don't know the words for, if those words even exist, and it is faster and more efficient to express it in a metaphor than to research if the words to directly express the concept exist in the first place.  A side effect is some insulation from the direct concept, at least for those that don't directly know what I am talking about.  I am finding that the metaphors, while making the words themselves flow more easily, don't insulate me at all from the pain the concept brings with it.

One of the drafts in progress has less than ten words saved.  A simple reminder to me of what this particular draft is about...  A reminder that even those who know me personally and know the situation would still probably not be able to discern what I am reminding myself of...  And those few words have brought me to tears twice just opening the draft to remind myself of what this currently nameless draft is going to be about...

--- The Dancer in the Shadows

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Middle of the Night Musings

It is almost 04:00 in the morning, and I so far am unable to sleep.  Through my mind keeps running the various potential fall out scenarios for what I'm certain will be a very ugly fight with my Ex.  On top of that, I have a stress headache and a dehydration headache, and have drank enough water that I'm sick to my stomach from it trying to rehydrate as fast as I'm dehydrating from the weather.  No pain killers that I can find either.

In an ironic twist, now that I'm letting this out, I've drifted twice, and have noted without any doubt that looking at the screen hurts.

--- The  Dancer in the Shadows