Moving is Rewriting
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As I’m pulling my life back out of a hundred cardboard boxes and settling into a new place, I recognize a kinship between moving and rewriting code. You spend a lot of time and effort, you Do Things Right This Time, you expend resources, and you feel productive for how much you’ve done. And in the end, you’ve probably just got a few new features and you’ll find a few new problems after a couple weeks.

Picking a Username
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I used the handle malaprop as my
username on sites when I started doing stuff on the web, and it worked
decently. Short, memorable, and almost always available. I got involved
in Chicago programming communities and found a shortcoming: it often
took weeks or months before someone connected my name and my handle.
There weren’t any wacky sitcom hijinks, but it was confusing.

I switched to “Harkins”, which is what I’m still using today. It’s
DRY (rather than two names for the same person), short, easy-to-spell, but it’s available less and
less regularly as more people get online.

I’m trying to pick a new username. I’d like it to be based off my real
name, but I’d also like to balance that with brevity. “Peter_Harkins” is
plain too long, I don’t want to use more than 10 characters. “PHarkins” is
right out, I don’t need to be conflated with phone phreaks and other
creative spellers. I’ve been assigned “harkinsp” at too many schools and
workplaces to enjoy it, and it’s not very unique.

I’m tempted to get a bit playful and do something like “hark_ins”. I’d
have some hassle with the various underscore/hyphen rules of different
sites, but it’d always be available.

Any suggestions? What handle have you based on your name?

Oh Noes!
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Tramagedy!

Recently I was bullshitting about former employers and described one as a “tramagedy”. When I went to look it up, nobody else had ever used it, but my girlfriend and I have been using it for a year or so. So here’s a definition:

tramagedy
n. from tragedy + drama; Tragedy seen through the eyes of lolcats; drama provoking immediate schadenfreude.

Cat knocked over your dessert? Tramagedy! Friend A is fuming because Friend B dinged his car? Tramagedy!

Consider yourself edumacated.

Google Zombies
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Google has hired a bunch of my friends and professional acquaintances, and I’ve met a few more from the growing Chicago office, and a number of them are zombies. Conversations run like this:

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344 Books Must Go
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Over the last couple years I’ve been reducing the amount of stuff I own*, and now it’s time for most of the books to go. I’m giving away 344 books, three-quarters of my book collection, free to any family, friend, or acquaintance for the asking. Really. If we’ve met or traded mail before now and we got along decently, I’ll give you free books for the asking, just click that link to see the books I’ve tagged “giveaway”.

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Sock Strategies
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Fox in Socks

It’s easy for socks to go missing, and it’s annoying to have to match up socks. My girlfriend and I have developed two entirely different strategies for dealing with these eventualities.

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Programming Is Like Sex
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because…

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It’s, Like, Symbolic
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In a nice coincidence (though I’ve been reading Robert Anton Wilson lately and am tempted to yell synchronicity), my music player gave me Flower by Liz Phair (the better version, from Girlysounds) and followed it up with Marigold by Nirvana. They’re both slow, quiet songs (and Flower has the added bonus of being delicously obscene).

It got me wondering — how many flower-related songs do I have that are slow and quiet? The answer, surprisingly, is all but one of them. If this were the 80s I’d have to make a mix tape of them, but apparently blog posts are the modern version of the mix tape.

  • Ben Harper – Roses From My Friends
  • Johnny Cash – The One Rose
  • Cranberries – Daffodil Lament
  • Eels – Daisy of the Galaxy
  • Eels – Daisy Through Concrete (not upbeat, but noticeably livelier than the rest of this list)
  • Garbage – So Like a Rose
  • Meiko Kaji – The Flower of Carnage
  • Nirvana – Marigold
  • Phair – Flower
  • Smashing Pumpkins – Lily (My One And Only)
  • Queen – Lily of the Valley
  • Tom Waits – Flower’s Grave
  • Tom Waits – The Briar and the Rose
  • Tom Waits – The Last Rose of Summer
  • Tom Waits – Trampled Rose

That’s a decently-large run of songs, and Tom Waits is apparently a big fan of the sub-sub-genre. It’s pretty damn funny that so many artists thought “Hm, flowers are beautiful, pretty, and uplifting, so I’ll be outré by writing a morose song about them. My soul is so dark!” I’ll have to give the last words of this post over to the Rolling Stone, who recognized this for what it is:

For another [pitfall], there’s the inevitable song about the serial killer who dresses up as a clown, which symbolizes nothing about American life except the existence of creative-writing workshops.

Playing With Fire
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I managed to iron twelve shirts without once burning myself on the iron, go me!

But I set off the smoke detector while frying bacon.

What a Blog Post is Missing
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This 37signals blog post is missing one thing.

It’s not talent. It’s not ideas. It’s not money. It’s not marketing. It’s not technology.

It’s exposition.