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Dizzying Intellect » 2008» December

Coding -101

Tweedledum was one of the many people who were cut in the latest round of layoffs — and I was actually feeling sort of bad about it. Until just now.

I found an unrelated error in a program that he wrote, back in November, when I moved a critical fix for the program to production. The next and previous buttons, to show each record, weren’t working correctly. They worked occasionally, but then failed randomly.

We couldn’t back out the critical fix, so I just added a new change request for the new issue. I got it back from him last week, saying that it was fixed, but didn’t have time to test it until today.

It still doesn’t work, in exactly the same way. The buttons work 90% of the time, but then do nothing at all on certain records. Since it’s so unpredictably sporadic and odd, I wondered what change he’d made, so I compared the code from test to prod.

This is the entire code change he made to the program, to fix the error:


That’s it. A comment.

*bangs head on desk*

I can’t imagine why it still doesn’t work. Also? So glad that I wasted an hour generating data to test it. And now my conscience feels better about at least one person who’s on unemployment for Christmas, instead of me.

[We now return you to your standard non-nerd programming, already in progress]

Second Chance

I’m not sure how this turned up on the main page of the local rag today, but I like it. The second half of it, anyway. So I’m going to share.

A nasty, dirty, testicle-free bastard broke into a woman’s home, here, back in October. He smashed through a basement window, beat her up, and raped her. A 57-year old lady. My mom’s age.

She told the police, but for one reason or another, they were unable to catch him quickly.

And then the douchebag came back a few days later for another shot at her. He cut the power and phone lines, and started kicking in the basement door. But this time, she was ready for him.

She tried to call 911, but couldn’t because the power was off. She got a shotgun and waited as the man began banging on the basement door. She fired when Preyer came crashing through the door. When Preyer collapsed, the woman escaped and went to a neighbor’s home, where she called police. Officers, who arrived within a minute, found a bleeding Preyer stumbling away from the house. He was taken to St. Francis Medical Center, where he died several hours later.

Swingle said the victim identified Preyer as the attacker in both incidents. [Ronnie W. Preyer, 47, a registered sex offender], of Jackson, Mo., had wet caulking from the recently repaired basement window on his clothing when he was shot.

“I will not be filing any sort of charge against this 57-year-old woman, who was clearly justified under the law in shooting this intruder in her home,” Swingle said.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what. you. get. Good for her.

Buyback Boom

Hmm. Same city, same issue, opposite end of the spectrum.

Not everybody here’s listening to Alderman Troupe, it seems, because this year’s gun buyback was a smash hit.

They came wrapped in blankets and paper bags, canvas cases or stashed in coat pockets.

Police paid $50 for handguns, rifles and shotguns and $100 for assault-style weapons. People were able to hand over their guns anonymously with no questions asked. The limit was five guns a person.

“I didn’t have no use for it,” said Leroy Cole, 58, of Jennings, who was handed $50 cash in exchange for the shotgun from his upstairs bedroom. “Of course this works for me. People have stuff like this and nowhere to get rid of it. It could end up in the wrong hands,” he said.

Police collected 997 guns, 10 of which were assault rifles.

Police paid $48,000 for weapons and spent about $3,300 for advertising. The department dedicated $57,000 in seized drug money for the event; the leftover money will return to the department’s forfeiture fund.

Board President Chris Goodson voted against the proposal, saying the city’s rising murder rate shows buyback programs do not have an effect on reducing crime.

This is unlikely to stop or slow any of the rampant crime downtown (especially since the bad guys can look up the folks listed in the article and be assured that there’s at least one less working firearm in their house — Smart, Post-Dispatch!). But I suppose if you’re getting rid of them, this is the safest way to do it.

Read the whole thing.

Hallelujah 2009

I suppose I’m glad that the X-Factor winner, Alexandra Burke, released Hallelujah as her first single. It’s one of my all-time favorite songs, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard it sung by a woman before. A new generation will get to hear it and appreciate it, for maybe the first time.

But she has no idea what she’s singing. She doesn’t hear the words coming out of her own mouth. She has a lovely voice, but she thinks it’s a gospel song. This song, regardless of the title, has nothing to do with religion, at least not in the literal sense. It’s about how love kicks your ass and breaks you down and destroys you. And how it’s totally worth it.

I’m not going to bother linking the newest version. You’ll be inundated with it soon enough. And the only Leonard Cohen version I can find on youtube has a weird Muppet Show-esque chorus thing going on, that I find strangely uncomfortable. So here’s a live John Cale version, to scrape the poptart version out of your head:

In Other News

Lalala. Changing the subject.

Here’s a Christmas tune for you. No Doubt’s version of Oi To The World. I had no idea there was a video for this song — check out how adorably young they are here.

And tell me that “They went back to the pub where they bought each other bourbon” isn’t the best line ever in a Christmas song.

[Meh. No embedding. Here's the link.]


Huh. I still have a job.

They cut 1/3 of our IT department today. Why I’m staying and not some others, I have no idea. And I have to admit, I’ve got a little “survivor’s guilt” already, but I’m also glad.

They initially told us that the impending cuts really didn’t have much to do with productivity or talent, but who could maintain the existing systems more cheaply than they could be replaced by outsourcing. But the guy who just called me said that, on the contrary, they ranked the people on each team, and the highest ranked get to stay. I have no idea which is true, but I’ll go with the compliment, I think.

(Before anyone nags, I have been looking for a new job, but I’m not going to take a massive cut in pay until I absolutely have to, and that’s all anyone’s offering right now.)

Ok, so back to blogging. But maybe not right this second. If anyone needs me, I’ll be breathing. For the first time in a month.


It’s been a rough week, which shouldn’t be much of a shock if you know me.

But it’s all better now. Someone left a Chick Tract on my windshield, and improved my whole day. These things are like honey dipped in chocolate, with a dreamsicle chaser.

This one’s called “Top 20 Reasons You’re Going to Roast In Hell For All Eternity, You Demon-Fellating Sinner (Merry Christmas!)”

(Click for full size and legible)

I don’t know why they make it so easy to mock them. I mean, why draw the guy naked, for pete’s sake? Much less naked and clutched tightly against the torso of huge sweaty angel?

Nobody’s going to get anything accomplished tomorrow anyway, so maybe I’ll take it to work and see about rewriting the whole thing. Between panic attacks.


But good crazy.

$1.41 per gallon!?

$1.41 per gallon!?

Aw, man.

I barely even think of her as a real person. More like a beautiful, idealized cartoon — no more flesh and blood than a Varga girl or nosecone painting. She was the hallmark of a new version of sex kitten, but there’s always been something that seemed weirdly innocent about her, to me.

Model Bettie Page in Intensive Care After Heart Attack

Bettie Page, whose magazine photographs in bikinis and see-through lingerie helped her become one of the most notable models of the 20th century, was hospitalized in intensive care after suffering a heart attack, her agent said Friday.

“She’s critically ill,” Mark Roesler of the Curtis Management Group told The Associated Press.

Page later spent decades away from the public eye, and during that time battled mental illness and became a born-again Christian.

“I probably sold 3,000 of her autographs, usually for $200 to $300,” he said. “Eleanor Roosevelt, we got $40-$50. … Bettie Page outsells them all.”

They say she’s in a coma, so it doesn’t look great, but there’s always hope. She’s a neat chick. Keep her in your thoughts, if you don’t mind.

Update 12/12: She’s gone. We’ve lost a lovely lady, but as SondraK says “Heaven just got real interesting…”

19 Shopping Days

As long as I’m pimping random goodies, here’s a few more, un-Sarah related.

One that probably only I would like. And you can probably strike the probably: Owl Pellets, at ThinkGeek. Yes, real owl pellets. In case you’re less than a total nerd, owls eat furry little rodent type critters (generally whole) and their tummies dissolve everything that’s digestable. Then they barf up the rest in a solid ball made of bones and hair and stuff. I KNOW! So cool.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, also at ThinkGeek, a cell phone booster that will give you five bars even if you live in a 100 year old house filled with lead paint, in a valley, in Moose Poop Wyoming, and Godzilla is standing between you and the nearest tower. Ok, I might be exaggerating. And there’s probably no Moose Poop Wyoming. (But if there is, I’m totally moving there.)

I don’t think there are any women reading here anymore, and even if there are, I don’t know if they’d care, but I want one: Jillian Michaels made a game for the Wii Fit. I’ve heard mixed reviews, but she’s a real butt kicker, and I need something new for my Wii Fit, so I’m willing to chance it.

Finally, it’s too late to get the expensive Collector’s Edition I think, but in case you live in a cave and/or don’t have kids, J.K. Rowling’s newest book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, came out yesterday. Someone you know will want it.