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Too Much Stuff In A Car Story

During my freshman year (1986) I lived in Hood Hall (under my old name: W. Paul Caligiuri). Some other guys that lived there would circle the place for hours in an old white convertible. I think it was a 1959 Cadillac deVille.  When it was time for a dorm picture, the driver drove the car over, and offered for us all to get in it, and on it, in the tradition of how-many-people-can-you-fit-in-a-phone-booth? Folks opened the doors afterwards, but they wouldn't close.  For a few seconds people were trying to figure out what was wrong when I loudly said, "That thing is shaped like a 'U'!"  Needless to say we never saw that car again.



Kay goes to a the Symposium on Advanced Wound Care (SAWC) convention every year, and I like to tag along, so that's where we are right now (2007-05-01).  One of the lectures that she attended was called "Healing the Wounds of War".  Kay is a wound doctor, and the "wounds" referred to in the name of this particular lecture are quite literally difficult wounds incurred during the Iraq war.  There is, coincidentally, another convention going on in our hotel.

(The section above was written on 2007-05-01.  It's now 2007-05-04.)

Here is what I remember:

  • Kay, and I checked into the Tampa Embassy Suites (near Channelside) on April 27.  I began noticing military men milling around the hotel lobby.  I thought, "What a nice place to let them stay before they leave for duty. "  Well, that isn't very likely, is it?  (*cough* Building 18 *cough*)
  • The American soldiers weren't wearing any symbols-of-rank.
  • I saw at least one Australian, one Romanian, and one Iraqi soldier there.
  • I followed a friendly Australian soldier to the registration desk.  I was going there to get change for the laundry.  He was going there to ask the desk clerk to call General Pace for him.  Well, the desk clerk looked really confused, and she wasn't able to call General Pace for some reason.  She was able to give me change for the laundry though.  BTW: General Peter Pace is the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and uh, Google rocks, and I don't trust my own memory to be sure that he said, "Pace", but I do think that was the name that I heard him say.
  • I passed their main conference room on the way to do the laundry.  The sign in the window said: "COALITION CONVENTION OPS".
  • There was a private-party-poolside on the-night-of April 30.  Kay and I hopped onto the elevator to go to the third floor to get our now-cleaned-and-dried laundry.  The man to the left of me had a name tag with the words "Coalition in Iraq" on it, and the title on his nametag was "Mr.", and the country on his nametag was "US".  The man to the right of me had a similar name tag, but his title was "MG" instead of "Mr.", his country was "Iraq", instead of "US", and "MG" is an abbreviation for "Major General", and uh, Wikipedia rocks.  The folks that went to the party were wearing suits.  My guess is that it is disrespectful to be seen drinking in public while wearing the uniform, but I don't actually know why they ditched the fatigues.   Interestingly enough "Mr." was still wearing some type of boot; he probably wasn't comfortable without them.
  • The sign on the way to the private party said, "J5 MacDill". You all wear civilian clothes, but put your true purpose on a sign in front? That's more Dilbert than 007.
  • President Bush came to Tampa the very next day to explain to the troops that there would be "chaos" if US troops withdraw from Iraq.  IF?

Needless to say I came up with a few of silly things to say to Kay.  Things like:

  • I thought that we were going to the embassy?  This is the Embassy Suites.
  • Hah, hah, Joe may be a Lieutenant Colonel, but he's the lowest rank here, let's have him watch the hotel, while we go see the President.  (There was actually one soldier left to stand in the lobby on the day that the President came to Tampa.)

The "Quagmire Accomplished" protestors were all at the heavily guarded front gate of MacDill AFB (this photo is not from there), but the actual people running the war were in the unguarded Embassy Suites hotel.



Finite State Machines Advice and Finite State Analysis

If your business logic starts getting complicated, it might mean that you should use finite state analysis and design. This technique is very popular for the artificial intelligence systems used in video games, and there are a number of finite state machine frameworks out there for Java, but they are all pretty heavyweight. How does one create a light weight state machine, and what is finite state analysis anyway? The ACM published a paper called "The Art of the State" by John F. ?igas in 1992. In the paper Professor ?igas describes how to do finite state analysis, and how to implement your state machines via a loop surrounding a switch statement... that's it... its that simple. Please read the paper. If it doesn't make any sense, then ask me how this is used, and I will show you. Please go to this page to get the PDF: http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=134541 The technique basically orders complex if-this-or-that-or-this-or-that type logic into the simplest form possible, and its really easy to do.

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