Some things that have gotten under my skin of late.Great. For the longest time, whenever a retail clerk would say, "Thank you" while handing me a receipt, I would mindlessly respond, "Thank you."

One day, this struck me as rather pointless. For what, exactly, am I thanking them? Thanks for not insulting me? Thanks for taking my money? Thanks for selling me things I either need or want?

So, I tried "You're welcome" a few times. After all, that is the natural response to "Thank you." That bombed badly. As a general rule, the clerks for some reason thought I was being snotty.

I don't like to just take my receipt and walk away without saying something back, to give the conversation some closure, so I experimented with some other canned responses. "Have a good one" either resonated with the clerk or bombed badly. "You bet" was just a bit too sterotypical Midwesterner.

After a time I settled on, "Great."

"Great" is positive, without being chipper. It is friendly without being overly friendly. It implies nothing about the clerk's attitude or abilities. It doesn't need any sort of verbal response. It makes just enough sense that no one thinks I'm a wacko, yet it is just dissonant enough that it short circuits further conversation. In short, I find it a great way to give closure to any sort of customer/clerk interaction.

X11 and Font Handling

For all the great strides that Free and Open Source software has made in the last ten years, the font handling of software like XFree and X.org is pathetic.

MacOS figured out font handling years ago. To add a font to the system, one simply dropped the font suitcase on the System Folder and the system took care of the rest of the work.

In X11, adding a font is only slightly less work than rewriting the OS kernel from scratch. Apparently it just hasn't gotten through to the X11 developers yet that I don't particularly want to take advanced classes in typography to use a couple more fonts on my system. I might know an awful lot about computers, but I struggle every single time with adding fonts to X11. In the olden days, the X server simply mucked around inside the font directories that were listed in the XF86Config file. Then, we were graced with the X Font Server (xfs). Oh yeah, that was an improvement. That moved some of the complexity outside of the primary X server, but also left in all the original direct directory font munging code to confuse and muddle users' minds.

Debian tried to address this with their defoma system. That was a mistake. Defoma is simply the same complexity masked with a layer of poorly documented obscurity.

The first person or group of people to simplify font handling under X11 ought to get some sort of award.

I'm poped.

Let's bury the man and get on with our lives already. Twenty plus pages of Pope coverage in just one section of the Sunday paper? Does that seem excessive to anyone else?

Justice, Wisconsin styleWhat's it going to take to end the Michael Jackson trial? I am tired of seeing his ugly mug every morning as I read the paper. The man shows up for court in pajamas and this is newsworthy?!? Were there people on the planet who were unaware that the man is loony?

I will say this about Wisconsin's court system: it sometimes takes a little while for a trial to start, but once it gets rolling, we like 'em short and sweet. Wisconsin convicted Jeffrey Dahmer in three weeks; does anybody think a Wisconsin jury wouldn't make short work of Michael Jackson?

Nice Tights. Where were you in January?

Now that Spring is back from its vacation in Florida, many of my fellow bikers are on the road again. Of course, many of the two-wheeled hoard are the kind that the bicycle companies love.

These folks can be easily identified by their really expensive bikes and their full-body bicycling attire. Usually, I get a good look at these folks as I pass them on my twenty year-old, steel-framed, single speed. Riding through the winter gives me a definite advantage over these folks when it comes to Spring riding.