Observer's Notes

The ideas of a thoughtful college student (Updated Whenever)

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    I'm Brian. This is my blog. I write about things that I think about, since verbalizing it helps me put things in more concrete terms. So here you'll find my occasional thoughts.
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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Overqualified (writing project)

Posted by Brian on May 23, 2010

I’ve been really into Joey Comeau’s Overqualified lately. If you’ve never checked it out, I highly recommend doing so. He basically writes stories in the form of fake resume cover letters. It’s a surprisingly fun medium for story-telling. I decided to try my hand at one, since I haven’t done anything creative in a long time, and I really love writing.

Obviously nothing in this story is true. It’s just a story.

To: Microsoft
Re: What happened to me?

Dear Microsoft,

I am writing to apply for a software engineer position with your company. I have enclosed with this letter a copy of my resume for your review, but let me save you the time. I have never worked as a software engineer, or in any IT-related position. I have no relevant degrees. In short, I have nothing your company wants. I have nothing your company needs. But I do have something everyone else needs. But I need this job to make it happen.

The problem is that your software eviscerates people, Microsoft. It takes their quirks, their qualities, their flaws, and shoves them so far down they disappear. Your software certainly eviscerated me. Every day for fifteen years I sat down in front of your software. I stared at it for days, sometimes nights, on end. At the end, I could barely remember the sound of my wife’s voice, or the color of her eyes, or the way our bodies met and seemed to melt together. I was asleep, Microsoft, and it took a bottle of sleeping pills to wake me up.

It’s not that I blame you; how customers use your software is my psychotic boss’s responsibility, not yours. But you and I can fix this. And the answer is webcams. With access to your resources, we can program your software to recognize the warning signs: lethargy; bags under the eyes; that bottle of liquor you think no one knows about; desperate phone calls asking if you’re working late again, and if you’re OK, and if you love that job more than her.

And then your software tries to fix the problem. Sure, it’ll start out gentle. Maybe a few pop-up messages. Don’t you have some personal days left? How’re the kids doing? Weren’t you here last weekend too? Then it gets more aggressive. Every Google search becomes a dinner reservation for two. Explicit emails get “accidentally” sent to the boss. Quarterly reports get reformatted into order forms for that toy you don’t know your son wants. Eventually, Microsoft, your most desperate users will have no choice to but to leave and live and love.

It may be too late for her, but maybe together we can save someone else.


Brian Hettinger


Posted in Computers, Literature, Technology, Uncategorized, Windows | Leave a Comment »

Mock Trial Regionals

Posted by Brian on February 27, 2010

So, the Mock Trial regionals for this season were last weekend in Spokane. It was definitely a fun weekend. If nothing else, I learned that the team is a really great group to travel with. They’re talented, supportive, and most of all fun to hang out with.

It wasn’t really a winning season though. Out of eight judges over four rounds, we won two and lost six. Not exactly a stellar record. I didn’t win an All-Region Award either (I won two last year), which I’ll admit was disappointing. But despite that, I still feel like it was a totally worthwhile season. Mostly because it was more  of a learning season, for the team as a whole and definitely for me individually. I really feel like I’m growing in my advocacy skills, technically and substantively. I feel comfortable enough with the substance of trial that I’ve been able to focus on style. I think this was cemented for me when I was able to radically alter one of my cross-examinations after opposing counsel made an unexpected tactical move. I always used to wonder how attorneys managed to pay attention to so many different things in the courtroom while also trying a case. Now I’m starting to get it. And it’s fun.

I feel like I got a taste of real-world issues this season, too. I’ve been thinking lately about whether criminal law is really the field I want to go into. I’m starting to have my doubts, despite how much I love it. It’s not exactly a trade secret that law practice can be a difficult career. I’ve heard Rex say before that sometimes he’d have to take vacations after major cases because his body just couldn’t take the stress anymore. I got a (very small) taste of this. In our third round, the judges both said that I seemed angry. I think the first clue was when I started snapping at the defendant during Cross. Most of you have never seen me actually perform, but take my word that I’m usually much more controlled than that.

At the end of that round, I was straight-up exhausted. Performance-wise we were struggling, we had some tough breaks with our evidence getting excluded, and we’d been at this for two days with very little sleep. By the time I stood up to give my Closing, I just didn’t have the energy or passion that an aggressive argument demands. Not even close. And this is Mock Trial. As in, not real trial. That makes me wonder about how demanding real criminal trials are. I have no doubt that I could handle it, but I question whether I want to handle it.

I should sit down with Rex and talk about what the job was like for him.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Child’s Play

Posted by Brian on August 24, 2008

I haven’t blogged in a while, so when I came across the idea for today’s topic, I knew I had to write this.

I don’t know how many of you read Penny Arcade. It’s a very popular web comic that lampoons gaming culture and those involved in it. Jack Thompson is a popular subject (read as: target). But then again, he deserves it. If you don’t know Jack Thompson, he’s a very staunch advocate of the theory that video games are a societal ill which train kids for violence. If I had the chance, I’d show Mr. Thompson Child’s Play, an organization run and supported by the gaming society.

Child’s Play is a charitable organization started by the same two guys that write Penny Arcade. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind organization. What Child’s Play does is partner with Amazon and childrens’ hospitals worldwide to provide games and entertainment to children with long-term diseases, who spend most to all of their time in a hospital. The hospitals and kids create wish lists on Amazon, and then generous gamers can view the wish list for the hospital of their choice, and purchase anything on the list. Whatever they purchase is then shipped from Amazon directly to the hospital for the children. Large items such as consoles are often kept by the hospital for all patients to enjoy, while other items are given to children as gifts. Child’s Play also receives a commission from Amazon for each sale, which is then donated to the hospital. In addition, they’re a registered “eBay Giving Works Charity,” which means that you can sell an item on eBay and have 100% of the profit go to Child’s Play.

At first, buying video games for kids doesn’t seem all that impressive. But, imagine actually having to stay in a hospital for months or even years at a time. I can’t imagine how scared, lonely and restless I would be. Video games provide these kids with a means of entertainment, a refuge from the fright of a hospital where the children can have some fun. Not to mention the financial benefit from the donated commissions. Most donations come during the holiday season, giving some holiday joy to the kids as well.

Child’s Play has raised well over $3 million since its inception in 2003, and over $1 million in 2007 alone. This is an amazing organization. Look for me to (hopefully) start a fundraiser at PSU around the holiday season for Child’s Play. (I’ll need help!!) If you have a little extra money, or something you want to sell on eBay, give it a look. Child’s Play home page. You can also choose a hospital to buy for from that page, or donate by PayPal.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Filler Blog: 18 Rules for Living

Posted by Brian on June 8, 2008

There’s a graduation blog forthcoming, I promise. It’s just taking me much longer than usual to write. It’s turning out to be one of my favorite pieces I’ve written though. In the meantime, I stumbled across the Dalai Lama’s 18 rules for living today. I think they’re absolutely brilliant, so I thought I’d share them with you here:

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three Rs:
    1. Respect for self
    2. Respect for others
    3. Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

A Slight Delay

Posted by Brian on February 29, 2008

Just to let everyone know, I’m delaying this week’s Friday blog to Saturday. I have a Mock Trial competition tomorrow, I’ve still got work to do, and I’d like to get to bed before too long. So I’ll blog tomorrow.

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