Why the ‘Blogs I Read’ list no longer exists on SiaO2.com

So the other day, someone got a hold of me and asked me a question:

“Why does your new, reconstituted Blog no longer have a list of Blogs you read?”

Good question.

Interestingly, it took her a while to figure out how to get in touch with me, but apparently all it really required was a little persistence. The way she described the job made me feel a little like George Peppard of The A-Team (gratuitous Wikimedia pic added for no good reason whatsoever)

You must remember the inspiring intro:

In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

—John Ashley’s opening narration

Okay, enough of that….

There are three reasons that the list of Blogs I read is gone; one is the universe’s fault, one is Facebook’s, and the other is Microsoft’s.

1) The universe can be blamed for my current health situation, which at this point has me on long term disability. I simply don’t have the kind of time I used to have.

2) Facebook can be blamed for whatever petty issues they have with my (previously blogged about) unLIKEing campaign caused them to (unintentionally?) break simple functionality like their own smartlists that has proven to be kinda distracting.

3) Microsoft can be blamed for (unintentionally?) corrupting my Microsoft ID by the way they took my original Blog down so fully that I can’t even *read* a blogs.msdn.com Blog unless I do it anonymously.

I doubt that I could ever imagine the fault being put on the former manager who had the original Blog taken down, the person from HR supporting the decision, or the vendor who did the takedown, because I really doubt that any of them are vicious enough or ignorant enough to do it intentionally. They simply see no upside to fixing the problem, as far as I can tell.

Who can blame them? This may make me look bitter and petty, but it makes them look like bullies who pick on sick people. And even a cynical M.O.T. atheist can enjoy having the moral high ground!

How would a filibuster from a wheelchair work, exactly?

Politics has never been an aspiration of mine.

Now I am only mentioning this in passing, but I have always been at least theoretically interested in the nuances of things like U.S. Senatorial filibuster.

How can one watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or that episode of The West Wing called The Stackhouse Filibuster without getting caught up in the idealism of trying to fight the good fight once in awhile?

Of course my tendencies toward being a complete and utter cynic cure me of such notions pretty quickly, but the majesty of a lone senator holding the floor as long as he or she keeps the floor float around in my head when I read about the filibuster on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filibuster#United_States

When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and realized I might one day be wheelchair bound, curiosity about how this might affect a Senator’s ability to be involved in a filibuster popped up from time to time.

The three senators I knew of who were in wheelchairs (Max Cleland from Georgia, John Porter East from North Carolina, and Bob Kerrey from Nebraska) didn’t help since none of them were ever as far as I could tell involved in a filibuster while they were in office.

And none of the senators serving in DC for the various states I have lived in over the years to whom I put the question (most recently Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for Washington state, but even others previously) ever provided a possible answer, even when trying to research the issue.

Except for one time when someone suggested that it might be like jury nullification, where since nobody wants people doing it that it makes no sense to encourage anyone to do it….

I am reminded of my visit to Chilkur Balaji Temple aka the Visa Temple described in a blog post from 2010 (http://www.siao2.com/2010/07/24/10041833.aspx) and wondering if such a majestic solution could be found.

The cynic in me doubts it. We Americans lack that kind of majesty. Which is why I would make a lousy idealist….

When I am having seizures, I shall wear purple

March 26th is Purple Day, as some of you may be aware. Founded by Cassidy Megan back in 2008, its goal is assist with worldwide awareness of epilepsy and its existence. So today, I will talk a little bit about my professional and personal interest in this disease.

My professional interest in it dates back to my twenties, when I was working as an EEG tech for several different neurologists and neurosurgeons in central Connecticut. It wasn’t about *having* seizures so much as running tests on children and adults who had them or were suspected of having them.

Even after later being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and later on with trigeminal neuralgia secondary to multiple sclerosis intractable to medication that finally required surgery, I never thought of epilepsy or seizures as a real part of my personal life….

And then one night in Seattle at a tasting with friends and acquaintances at Wine World, I acutely developed an expressive aphasia (or to be more nitpickingly accurate an agnosia aka word searching), which nobody else at the event really noticed as they simply assumed I had too much to drink. I on the other hand *did* notice it and with a little knowledge of neurology brilliantly misdiagnosed myself with a stroke and presented myself to the UWMC emergency room, where several interns, residents, and doctors tentatively made the same incorrect diagnosis until a CT scan ruled it out and they parked me until they could get me into an MRI.

This proved to be the most diagnostically relevant MRI of all the many MRIs I have had before or since because they were able to see an active MS lesion in the area of my brain attributed to speech. I was finally diagnosed with having had a partial complex seizure with post-ictal expressive aphasia (agnosia), secondary to chronic multiple sclerosis and acutely triggered by the excessive ethyl alcohol of a horking huge wine tasting. After being noted to be subsequently seizure free for six months, I was cleared for driving and that was that (though I was seldom driving anyway since I had an iBOT 4000 and seldom needed to).

In the end, however, the evidence that I was still having seizures became overwhelming, both from my personal recognition of simple partial seizures with me taking off my glasses and then losing them, and from the recognition of others of complex partial seizures with post-ictal confusion and expressive aphasia (agnosia), for which I have been put on varying doses of Keppra ever since (currently 1000mg BID, though I am seeing my neurologist early next month to talk about increasing the dosage, since I am still having some complex partial seizures at that dosage).

Unusual case? Perhaps, but every person who has epilepsy has unique life circumstances that have an effect on the way their case presents. And now you are more aware of it!

Apologies to Jenny Joseph!

Only Microsoft could snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory that way….

Years ago, Peter Weller and Sam Elliott starred in a film named Shakedown (also known as Blue Jean Cop, based on a plot point on a way to describe a particular type of corrupt police officer).

In a key scene, Antonio Fargas (playing drug kingpin Nicky Carr) is very annoyed when aspiring corrupt police officer Larry Joshua (playing Detective Rydel) interrupts an illegal drag race before it even starts, with the dismissive comment: “Rydel, you could f**k up a wet dream!”

Now I could act all superior and point to my blog post from 2006 entitled Intended Implicatures    (http://www.siao2.com/2006/09/24/768343.aspx) that was pointing out that as far back as Microsoft Access in 1992 and in versions of Microsoft Windows as far back as Vista with its WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) program, that Microsoft has been on the wrong side of a serious philosophical guilty until proven innocent issue, and just say I told you so. I could even point out the specific Product Unit Managers, General Managers, and even Vice Presidents whom I specifically met with and always had them agree with me while admitting that others had been making the same point previously.

It makes the whole thing pointed out in Microsoft’s obsession with piracy threatens to create a Windows 10 licensing mess    (http://www.zdnet.com/article/will-microsoft-piracy-obsession-create-a-windows-10-licensing-mess/) kind of anticlimactic, even ignoring the fact that ZDNet has a scosh more people than either version of my Blog.

Only Microsoft could snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory that way, if you know what I mean….

Another reason is one or more of the actors going up on their lines

The other day, in the blog post titled Broadcasting closed captions with a passive vocabulary (http://www.siao2.com/2015/03/05/8770668856267196313.aspx), I gave a pretty full list of the reasons why closed captioning text might not match the movie or television program that it accompanies, and largely tagged it as the technological equivalent of passive vocabulary.

However, there was one major source of the difference that I passed over, and that is when the source of the captions is not from the actual program, but from either

• another version of the actual script, or

• the actor or actors going up on their lines, which is a fancy way used in the acting trade to say that someone either adlibbed or replaced the actual text in the script with one that the actor decided was better on the fly, as it were.

I noticed this in movies like Best Seller (starring James Woods and Brian Dennehy) particularly with lines James Woods was saying. I have never met Mr. Woods and thus have no idea whether this was or is his nature, but it did seem to happen often enough to be a little distracting.

An interesting concept, nevertheless — and I’m not sure what it would be called from a linguistic standpoint. Does anyone have any thoughts, beyond simple ego of the performer? ;-)

The Mumps and several of The Monks, revisited

It was some time ago that I wrote the blog post about The Mumps, The Monks, The Monks, and the monks.

It was back in October of 2008, in fact.

I recently realized something important.

Now I was immunized for the mumps years ago — so I never had them.

And I never saw the band The Mumps.

Also I never saw the band The Monks from the 1960s.

Or the band The Monks from the 1970s.

Though I have certainly heard all of the latter three bands via vinyl and other formats over the years.

I have certainly never spent a lot of time hearing the chanting of the monks from the 1700s, though I have occasionally heard of other monks since then in Ireland and Italy.

(some of which was previously discussed in that blog post from 2008 @   http://www.siao2.com/2008/10/02/8974377.aspx

But since then I have heard much more from a couple of Monks who have proven to be much more relevant to me, professionally and personally.

Not just a couple of Monks.

But a Monk couple.

David and Stephanie Monk, to be precise!

They have been friends in real life and via email and on Facebook and via both the original Blog and several of the blogs on it and the reconstituted Blog and several of the blogs on *it*.

These days, they are easily the best Monks in my life!

I wonder if either of them ever had the mumps or listened to The Mumps or The Monks or The Monks or the monks.

Just to bring it all full circle? ;-)

Every few years, a somewhat empty DST changing article comes out…

This blog post’s title speaks for itself.

Last Thursday, Elahe Izadi (the Washington Post blogger and comedian) wrote a somewhat fluffy piece about how annoying and worrying people in the US find the annual “spring forward” rules of Daylight Saving Time to be on the paper’s Blog site: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/03/12/a-bunch-of-states-want-to-get-rid-of-daylight-saving-time-is-your-state-one-of-them/

Now if you look at Ms. Elahe Izadi’s other posts or her twitter account @ElaheIzada, it would be hard to not realize that she has some real quality work there, and the name Elahe is an Anglicization of both the Hebrew and Arabic words for “Goddess”, which is also reasonably interesting (I am too shallow to look up which!), but this particular blog topic is an empty rehash of a dozen different states that have varying degrees of objections to DST and the fact that most of them never manage to go anywhere.

One fatal flaw in the various ways that the case can be argued is in the way that some state legislators are reportedly suggesting the idea of year long daylight savings time rather than year long standard time, which is the only option that federal law actually allows for, a point that the semi annual article usually tries to make a mention of.

Thankfully, Jason Schneider commented fully if dryly:

Individual states may remain on year-round standard time per the Uniform Time Act of 1966 in 15 U.S.C., Section 260(a), but may not institute year-round daylight saving time per federal law. All state laws are superceded per 15 U.S.C., Section 260(b). Any attempt by states to institute year-round DST through their own legislatures would be illegal. Why can’t states select their own times? Daylight saving is a weights and measures issue and the weights and measures power is explicitly delegated to Congress in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Article 6, Clause 2 of the Constitution itself provides for the supremacy of the Constitution itself and the laws of the United States if state law and federal law conflict.

That kind of goes to the crux of the problem in many states, not to mention the fact that television shows like The West Wing have made fun of in the past in episodes like 20 hours in America, which had Toby, Josh, and Donna missing a plane due to crossing over one of the invisible time zone lines in Indiana.

Nevertheless, a fun reminder of the insanity that is Daylight Saving Time!

Being slapped by the hand that feeds you [or at least 60% of you] at Microsoft

Today’s blog post is not about the previously mentioned attempts of a small but persistent group of accountants at Microsoft who may subconsciously realize that another small group of people at Microsoft may be responsible for overpaying me by three days due to how much they suck at handling basic fractions but who nevertheless psychotically insist on being repaid immediately, since that is more important than anything else going on.

Today’s blog post is also not about another larger part of Microsoft [indirectly] agreeing to pay a neurosurgeon to shove a needle ten centimeters into my foramen ovale so that by superheating the needle my trigeminal neuralgia pain could be once again cured. Believe it or not, this situation is more complicated than either of these obscure scenarios of my employer (Microsoft) choosing to stick it to me.

The original source of the situation is from one of the last blog posts that I wrote about gratuitous office moves. The subsequent Microsoft internal conversion led to an overt threat by me to choosing to pay to move everything to a new home office and an overt counteroffer that at the time I found hard to believe. I was basically told that this move (and all subsequent moves, to 9, 26, 86, 25, 86, and 28) would be handled by the “executive packing team”.

It is best to think of this as the equivalent of a magic mushroom in the old arcade game Centipede, only better. You are essentially given privileges beyond almost every other full time, agency temp, and contract resource at Microsoft, including:

• they will move refrigerators and such without any snarkiness about whether they should;

• they will schedule a person to come talk to you and find out how you want everything packed;

• they will handle any boxes you have packed already but they assume that anything you have lying around or on the shelves is something for them to pack when the time comes;

• if you have any personal items like signed Miro paintings they will pack them up for your new office;

• any personal items on the shelf like patent cubes/plaques, awards, and trophy copies of software will be packed up and shipped for you;

• VERY IMPORTANT: anything that you indicate that they should unpack for you in that initial meeting will be, just like you ask them to;

• ALSO VERY IMPORTANT: if you ask them to ship any of those ubiquitous Microsoft grey PEDs they will do so as they are, without any of that silly put it all in a new box to be unpacked on the other end;

• although the theoretical “we don’t support personal items” may apply, they never stated it and nothing was ever broken or such;

• if anything is amiss after the move, they will promptly come and fix it.

I used to feel self conscious since I am obviously not an executive, but I was assured that they didn’t mind. In a world that could involve moving fish tanks without overly traumatizing the fish (THEIR world) my job was almost a day off for them. And I was told more than once that they appreciated the instructions rather than making them read my mind (also a part of THEIR world!).

Now, to contrast all those previous packups with my current situation where I am out on disability for medical reasons (cue evil music here as Microsoft and specifically people working under the instructions and authority of Microsoft Human Resources), they did a halfassed job of packing that led to one damaged patent cube, one damaged patent plaque, one damaged by jelly (!?!) laptop docking station, one damaged frame, one missing PED that contained two older non non-Microsoft Dell laptops, and a somewhat snarky reminder that none of this is supported in a move [or in this case, a move OUT], quoting Microsoft’s moving policy from the Microsoft employee handbook, even though they also knew it wasn’t technically a move.

I realize that I am medically damaged, out on disability, and only 60% of a full time employee, but is it not the responsibility of anyone from MICROSOFT HUMAN RESOURCES who was at least trying to emulate being helpful to not fail to respond for almost three months despite multiple reminders and then reply so heartlessly when my manager and their manager is on the email?!?

Hubris, thy name is [apparently?] Microsoft Human Resources….

Never mind that other trigeminal neuralgia post….

I know I promised another blog about Trigeminal Neuralgia, contrasting the two experiences split by two decades, but I’ve had a change of heart about writing it.

For the most part, it would be little more than a simple contrast of the march of technology of the anesthetic used (Brevital vs. Propofol) and the personnel (the now retired Dr. Charles E. Poletti and the now deceased then resident Dr. Sherry Apple vs. the UWMC neurosurgeon I found here) to perform the Sweet/Wespic percutaneous radiofrequency rhizotomy.

Since both differences are beyond my control, it seems pointless to go into the differences, really.

The only remaining point to possibly discuss would be the periodic oscillation between whether or not the neurosurgery is recommended, but that is mainly an issue of whether the outpatient procedure is in fashion, a fact that I simply chose to ignore since I knew that I needed it.

Beyond that, if anyone wants to remember the amazing neurosurgeon Sherry Apple, MD, I suppose that they could maybe do so here.

I miss you, Sherry!

Microsoft’s normalization efforts predate Unicode’s

Yesterday, friend and colleague from the Unicode Technical Committee Charles Riley asked me:

Subject: ANSEL and keyboard mapping

Hi Michael,

At what level is it the case that computers are able to handle the mapping between l and Ł, ae and æ? These are normalization to Unicode equivalence, correct? For the same to be implemented for handling ɗ to d, and ŋ to n, is it anything more than choosing a normalization form?


Well, the easy answer is that Microsoft’s interest in both normalization and collation predates Unicode’s, so real world backwards compatibility trumps theoretical conformance with an industrial standard like Unicode or compliance with any country’s national standard.

But the hard answer is that Microsoft has always tried its best to conform/comply as well as able with all of the related normalization, collation, and even keyboard standards whenever it was able, even when National bodies sometimes didn’t even like whatever Microsoft was or wasn’t managing to [try to] accomplish.

Therefore, Microsoft would always try to notice those equivalences and almost equivalences when possible, and just suck it up when it fell short (the passive/aggressive unwillingness to try to solve the Sinhalese keyboard layout issue by having management ask about “the whole input stack” every time we came close to a potential solution being the most embarrassing failure in this area, Phonetic Cherokee ideas to the contrary!).

But for the most part, Microsoft tries to do its best here. If they fall short, it is just not being willing/able to use resources such as me to try to actively solve such problems while I am on leave when they have bigger fish to fry such as Windows 8/8.1…. ;-)

A blog about all the things that the old Blog was about!