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What if this is as good as it gets?

One of my favorite movies is As Good As It Gets staring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt in a romantic comedy that starts out with the assumption that everything is fucked up, but you can still have love.

A great scene. Melvin comes to Brooklyn to find out why Carol didn't show up at work in Manhattan, so (according to Melvin) she could serve him breakfast.

Carol: Do you have any control over how creepy you allow yourself to get? Melvin: Yes I do, as a matter of fact. And to prove it, I have not gotten personal, and you have.

It has something for everyone.

Guys like me identify with Melvin. No one listens to us. We do crazy shit. Don't step on the line. We're rude. Everyone is offended. But we mean well. Not everyone can see that. We hope some day to meet our Carol so we can see goodness in her, that no one else sees, so she in turn can see the goodness in us. You may have to look hard but if you do you will see it.

But that's just what I see.

The movie has a sick kid, a mother, a grandmother, a gay neighbor, a dog, a black art agent, a doctor, and a restaurant -- and a crazy anal retentive grouchy romantic annoyed best-selling author.

Hey but the secret is everyone in the movie is crazy.

It's one of those movies that I get something from every time I see it.

This is how we really are, not the idealized version that's in so many movies.

We're fucked up, totally, but we can still have love.

The title itself is a great line. Melvin barges into the psychiatrist's office and it occurs to him to ask the patients who are waiting what if this is as good as it gets? And then he rushes out.

The answer of course that it is as good as it gets. So you better find a way to make love even if life isn't perfect.

8/20/2013; 9:27:23 PM

Grace Hopper on Letterman

Admiral Grace Hopper was on Late Night with David Letterman on October 2, 1986.

8/20/2013; 12:11:00 PM

I like over-the-ear headphones

I've been listening to podcasts on my daily bike rides down the Hudson and around Central Park. I put on the headphones at the half-way point. While I'm warming up I want my all my hearing. For some reason, after 1/2 hour of riding, I feel I can handle a little impairment. So I listen to the latest Fresh Air, Planet Money or This American Life, my three current favorite podcasts. Sometimes the New Yorker book podcast, or the NY Times Science podcast. Also these days I like to mix in a little Talking Heads music from the old days.

I've never been able to use earbuds, they just fall out of my ears. I don't know if it's physiology or something I don't understand about earbuds. It's no big deal, because Sony makes excellent over-the-ear buds that cost $10. And the sound quality is pretty good. They wear out, get clogged with wax, the quality breaks down with workout sweat. But for $10 -- buy two. I've probably been through 20 or 30 of these babies over the years.

All the while wondering if there isn't better quality to be had for $40 to $80 because Sennheiser, a venerable name in headphones, makes similar products to the $10 Sonys. So I decided to find out and bought the $57 model. The reviewers all said they were wonderful. I've learned to be skeptical of headphone reviews. I buy lots of them, all kinds and sizes, but only rarely have I been blown away by the quality. Usually what people rave about on Amazon are basically plain headphones with competent sound.

Net-net: The $57 Sennheisers sound about the same as the $10 Sonys. Let's see if they last 5-6 times as long. I suspect they won't. And the Sony phones wrap nicely around my iPod and fit in my pocket, the Sennheisers have to go around my neck from the start of the ride. So convenience goes to the cheaper Sony phones.

One more thing, the headphones that blew me away -- as the reviewers on Amazon said they would -- are also from Sony, their studio headphones that amazingly cost only $78 and sound as good as or better than $400 headphones from others. Amazingly clear sound, rich bass, and a sublime sense of presence. You feel like you're in a theater listening to a great sound system. I literally seek out opportunities to listen to music with them. There are other nice phones out there, but none that are so rich for so little money. And they seem to stand up to some amount of abuse. I just throw them in my bag and forget about them. If you've got a $78 hole burning in your pocket you'll just love these headphones, I say go for it.

8/20/2013; 6:49:54 AM

I write what occurs to me

Yesterday I was participating in a discussion on Facebook that started with a story Jason Pontin wrote about the programming shop on the floor above him in his Cambridge office. He's a great writer, and in just a few paragraphs he painted a clear picture that I had seen many times before, a high testosterone very male approach to development. I don't mind being part of something like that, but I wondered, why in 40 years of being a developer I had so few occasions to work with women.

BTW, originally I said there was just one woman I had worked with but later realized there were a few more, including a programmer friend in Berkeley who I had worked with on a non-programming project.

A blog post formed in my head, why are there so few women programmers, I wondered, so I switched over into my blogging tool, and wrote. I did a little revising, and then published the post. I went out for a bike ride with zero comments, and came back to over 20, which is an unusually high number for a Scripting News post these days.

Predictably, there were comments that inferred far too much from what I had written. This happens frequently when men write about gender. I had done this before, and expected to get a lot of angst so I wasn't surprised.

At the end of my post I said it would be wonderful if women commented. Although not everyone revealed their gender, there were a lot more women commenters than usual.

I want to learn, and have fun, and if the men won't work with each other, maybe the women will (and work with us too). There's so much tearing-up of pavement in tech. I'm hoping that by mixing things up a bit, breaking some of the patterns in who runs the show, maybe we can make things work better? It's something to aim for.

One more comment. Someone on Twitter said I must not have a mother, and that's so wrong, and over the top. I very much do have a mother, and today is her birthday. She's doing great. She's never been one to be stopped by barriers. In the 60s she took part in a eliminating segregation in NYC public schools. Later, once her children were out of the house, she went back to school and got a PhD, and had a career in education. Now retired, in a sense, she leads a very active intellectual, spiritual and community life. She travels extensively. She's an incredible role model, not just for women, but also for men, like her son. Happy birthday mom!

8/20/2013; 7:09:32 AM

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