Autoblography Part 26: Seven Springs

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Oct 11, 2011

Filed under: Personal 133 comments

Way back on Nov 21, 2006, I posted a massive 8,000 word story covering the time I joined FBLA and competed at the state level in Computer Science. When I went back to re-tell the story of my entire high school career, I felt like this bit needed to be included in the chronology. But how to do it? Should I re-post the material? That would duplicate things and I’d end up with two different posts with the same content. The programmer in me does not like that solution. Should I shift the dates on the old entries to have them appear here in 2011, where they will fit into the continuity of the Autoblography? Do I take them down first? Should I change the titles so that they fit in the series? Hm.

In the end, I’ve decided to leave them as they were posted, and put links to them here.

Seven Springs, Part One: Naked Girls and A Hotel-Sized Prank

Seven Springs, Part Two: The Terrors of Room 102, and Lessons Learned

Now, for the comments: Those two posts already have long-dormant discussion threads, and I don’t want people responding to five-year-old comments, or double-posting in multiple places. So, if you want to leave a general comment about both entries, this post (the one you’re reading now) is the place to do it, particularly if you want other readers to see and respond to it. You’re free to leave comments on those old posts if you like, but I’ll probably be the only person to read them.


From The Archives:

133 thoughts on “Autoblography Part 26: Seven Springs

  1. uberfail says:

    Of course archive bingeing means this isn’t new.
    must… not… type… first.

    *EDIT* although the second time, potential buggery as an ‘unspeakable horror’ doesn’t come off very well.

  2. X2-Eliah says:

    It might be that you took away a far better lesson from that than the folks who got to the nationals.. The ‘gotta stop screwing around’ lesson is the big thing you have to learn, more or less – I bet none of the finalists learned that..
    Besides, what does finishing second or third really give you? pretty much nothing. It’s all quite pointless outside the walls of your academia.

    Now.. does anyone know of a good way to get the ‘stop screwing around’ principle in mind? I still haven’t really gotten it.

    1. TSED says:


      I really need to stop screwing around with my life. I`m forcing myself to do so slowly and gradually, but at least it`s starting to come. Or, to be more accurate, situations I keep (intentionally) putting myself in are slowly forcing me to stop screwing around so much.

      Unrelated, but seeing as there are a lot of computer experts here:
      What`s up with my keyboardà‰ Sometimes, it will randomly change a few characters to… different characters. Case and point, right now my “question mark” is “à‰” and in order to get quotation marks I need to hit shift-2 (normally the at sign). Quotation marks gets me nothing, and if I hit it twice the following occurs: “.

      Weird, man. Anyone have any ideasà‰ The keyboard is pretty old so I can see it starting to die, but it can usually be fixed by closing certain programs (I haven`t figured out which ones yet – skype often seems to be involved, though).

      1. Silfir says:

        You probably have something switching you to another language. For instance, Shift-2 actually are quotation marks on a German keyboard. So, probably a Software thing. And now I will stop pretending I have a clue.

      2. Shawn P says:

        Hit CTRL+SHIFT a couple times, testing each time you hit it. You probably changed it to a different character set. This happens to me often, due to being Canadian and our keyboards being set up to allow easy switching between English/French and it’s because of accidentally hitting CTRL+SHIFT

        1. Kdansky says:

          Could be Alt+Shift too. That’s what changes the keyboard on my machine.

        2. TSED says:

          You got it!

          (I am also Canadian). Thank you very much. I suspected it was something similar to that, as I was experimenting with shift+’+random keys and discovered the accented vowels, but I had no idea how to go about setting it back.

          Thanks again. And now I can type “clichéd” properly!

        3. Kyte says:

          For the record and everyone interested: Alt-Shift changes the language. Ctrl-Shift changes the layout within said language.

          So, for example, here in Chile, Spanish is the language and Latin American (es-la) and Spanish (es-es) are the layouts and are preinstalled in local copies of Windows. They’re subtly different, like having the At-Sign in AltGr-Q in es-la and AltGr-2 in es-es and es-la being generally more programmer-friendly, since the braces don’t need AltGr.
          Meanwhile, my laptop’s made in the USA, so the keyboard is labeled according the the English (en-us) layout. (Muscle memory trumps labels)

          So, if I have es-la, es-es and en-us and the active one is es-la, Ctrl-Shift will switch to es-es and Alt-Shift to en-us.

          English language, in particular, has quite a few layouts, such as USA (en-us), UK (en-uk), US-international with dead keys (you need two keypresses to get a character, where the first is an accent mark and the second the the letter to be accented) and whatnot.

          For more info and a handy reference when you have no idea what layout’s active:
          And one’d think keyboards are easy. ;)

          1. Methermeneus says:

            I find myself typing in other languages pretty often, so I have a whole bunch of keyboard settings on my computer. One thing I find makes everything easier is to give each setting a shortcut key (Control Panel -> Clock, Language, and Region -> Region and Language -> Keyboards and Languages -> Change Keyboards -> Advanced Key Settings on Windows 7). That way, if I suddenly find myself typing in the wrong character set, I can just hit the shortcut for the language I want rather than Alt-Shift-ing through the whole list. For instance, if I were to drop my keyboard and suddenly notice upon picking it up that I was typing in Ἑλληνίκη (polytonic Greek) or 한국어 (hangul/Korean), I can just hit Ctrl-Shift-1 and be typing in US English again.

            I also find that it’s much, much easier to stick to one keyboard layout per writing system. For the Latin alphabet, I grew up on en-us (I’ll specify QWERTY, since there’s still some variations out there), and therefore that’s what I use. I tried keeping French and German settings on my computer at one point, and I just found myself getting confused. It’s much easier (for me, anyway) just to remember alt codes such as 130 (é), 135 (ç) or 129 (ü). What’s even easier, since I type a fair amount in HTML, is to use ampersand codes, such as é, ç, and ü, which is actually how I typed the accents above in this post. (HTML is also a lot easier for letters with macrons and breves, such as ō for ō.)

            1. Deadfast says:

              There is one old key that used to be present on keyboards a while back. It was called Compose and it was freaking awesome. For some reason manufacturers decided to remove it (and instead opted to keep the frequently used Scroll lock).

              Compose is especially handy when dealing with acute accents and other character modificators. To type “é” you use Compose + ‘ + e. May seem a bit complicated at first, but once you get used to it it’s infinitely faster than having to switch keyboard layouts.

              Linux’s X allows you to simulate Compose by binding it to a bunch of useless keys (Scroll lock for instance). In Windows you need a custom keyboard layout (Windows version of Programmer Dvorak comes with it by default).

              1. Methermeneus says:

                Okay, now I feel like I might need to learn Dvorak… It sounds similar to how polytonic Greek works (ὁ is formed by pressing “, then o), so I think I could learn it fairly quickly.

                And seriously, why do we still have Scroll Lock? Aside from triggering an intentional BSOD for debugging purposes, I mean (and I’m sure you could bind some other random key for that anyway; ctrl+`, for instance, is probably not used for much else.)

              2. Zukhramm says:

                This is why a love the standard Swedish keyboard layout. It has separate keys for ^, ¨, ~, ` and ´, which in compilation with letter allows you to type a quite large range of characters. û ౠૠಠà¡. We don’t even need them for writing Swedish but it’s nice to have for the occasional French or Spanish.

                I don’t know how the files for keyboard layouts look but I thought about finding out to add a couple more characters to have my own ultimate layout for typing pretty much any language written with the latin alphabet.

      3. Mayhem says:

        Yes, the ` and the à‰ characters are generally the sign your keyboard is set to some form of foreign layout.

        The à‰ is the biggest clue – the only common layout where that replaces the question mark is the Canadian layout, both multilingual and French canadian. Since you also lost the @ for “, you’re probably in french canadian.

        For windows:

        Start > Control Panel > Regional and Language Settings > Languages > Details

        Look at the installed services, see if one is set to something other than what you expect [probably English (United States) and keyboard (US) for Americans.]

        1. swenson says:

          Or, as with the computers at school, you occasionally start typing in Arabic characters. That’s a very good tip-off that you accidentally switched to another language.

        2. Jethro says:

          *In my best Jean Chrétien accent: “Well, I have been in french canadian my whole life, and it’s verra poopular!”

        3. Simulated Knave says:

          I have never understood it. If only because, last I checked, French people still ask questions.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I don’t know how it works over there but around here winning, or getting high enough (depending on the event), a thing like this is a “get in guaranteed” into some higher education institution, most often with a scholarship. I think this might be one of the few ways to get around the default school system which, as Shamus said, did not sit well with him.

      Of course a lot of teachers sabotage this premise by deciding to only let people with good grades, rather than people who want, to have a run at it (I mean at the local level). Which kinda defeats the purpose, a person who has great grades in, say, maths and physics is likely to get into a technical college anyway.

    3. Murkbeard says:

      There is only really one way to do it, in my experience:
      You need to commit to do something, and then have that something fail utterly to the disappointment of other people and/or yourself, due to too much screwing around.

      In my case, I let my BsC project hang for too long, and ended up spending ½ a year extra on it. I never want to go through that period again.

      Also, moving somewhere or changing social circles can do a lot.

      1. Kdansky says:

        I recommend an exchange year if you can afford it. You will rediscover yourself, and it will be a wonderful experience. Yes, I know I sound really corny, but it’s still true. Go apply for a fucking exchange to some far away country. Do it.

        Cursing for emphasis, because that is what cursing is for!

    4. “The “˜gotta stop screwing around' lesson is the big thing you have to learn, more or less ““ I bet none of the finalists learned that..”


      1. asterismW says:

        Then again, the people who made it to finals may not have needed to learn that.

  3. Antwon says:

    I really liked that pair of archive entries. There are a lot of posts in the Autoblography series that do not resonate with me at all – we clearly had really disparate childhood experiences on a lot of fronts, with all that entails. But this – being something of a dork, thrust in a strange new social dynamic – is within spitting distance of a couple of my own Boys’ State / science camp / nerd brigade sorts of experiences. Except that you had broadly more inter-gender interaction than I got to, which make your tales that much for the better. :)

  4. Dwip says:

    Those two entries are probably my favorite thing in your archives. Reminds me a lot of my own senior year in HS, in which not only did I not learn any of the important lessons you did, the unruliness of our trip away from home was so destructive we ended up with a $400 repair bill and a ban on out of state trips for future classes, never mind the various police actions. Also some killer sunburns. Getting to take trips in HS was awesome, if somewhat less fun sounding to my adult self. Stupid thinking about other people, getting in the way of some good general revelry.

    Wish I had picked up the lesson of applying oneself when you did, rather than when I did, which is still some years in the future at this point. Ah well. Some people never do learn it.

  5. ENC says:

    Hey shamus, on the front splash of your site spoiler warning says ‘concersation’, IDK how long it’s been there or whether you can be stuffed fixing it now.

  6. Kdansky says:

    I found that story very amusing when I read it first a few years back, and it still holds up, except for a few minor points.

    You Americans are a ridiculously prude people when naked people (who don’t realize they can be seen) have that much of an impression on you.

    1. Strangeite says:

      But we make up for it with a total insensitivity to violence.

      (sarcasm) So we got that goin for us, which is nice. (/sarcasm)

    2. noahpocalypse says:

      Well, most Americans (American boys) would do exactly what the other boys in Shamus’s story did. Shamus was trying to be… I don’t know, ‘noble’? ‘Chivalrous’? Most men would forget about that, and point and laugh.

      Unless I missed your point entirely? When you say prude, I assume you’re talking about what Shamus did… Right?

      1. Entropy says:

        I think he was referring more to the fear of the naked guys.

      2. Kdansky says:

        Yes. At age 19 (5 years older than the 14-year old girl), anyone should be able to handle a naked bum, no matter if it is a female or male bum. The part about the girls and not wanting to look at them I found very weird, but the part about the naked guys I found downright homophobic and creepy. Every man has seen himself in the mirror, and probably their dad too at some point. Why make such a fuss about it?

        And how do you manage sports and taking a shower afterwards? Sure, I found that quite uncomfortable too the first few times, but not so much because other people were naked, but because it was me that was naked. That is completely normal for a teenager, and you get past it when you grow up.

        1. Shamus says:

          For the girls, it’s a matter of manners and respect. They wouldn’t want people looking at them. Leering at them would be taking advantage of them. Being much older, I can look at this from the perspective of our dates. It would have disrespected them to go flagrantly staring at some other girl, right in front of them. It would also send them the message, “I’d stare at you if you made a mistake like this.”

          1. Kdansky says:

            If it was respectful and out of chivalry, you would not have felt ashamed for doing so. That is just your rationalisation today, but at the time, your motivation was something else.

            1. Shamus says:

              I am reminded of the old George Carlin joke that goes something like, “When you’re driving, everyone going faster than you is a maniac, and everyone slower than you is a moron.”

              Everyone who is more strict about nudity than you is a prude, and everyone less strict is a hedonist. Cultures are different. America gets accused of being both prudes and hedonists at various times. In this regard, it’s actually really hard to lump all Americans together. The culture of Los Angeles, California is VERY different from the culture of Little Rock, Arkansas.

              1. Raynooo says:

                Well I don’t want to say that I’m better than everyone else but everyone who does drive faster than me IS a maniac and people driving slower IS a moron. I tend to use myself as a reference y’know…

                Damn that example is so true…

                Anyway, what happens when your autobiography reaches your current age ? Will it turn into sci-fi as we follow the adventures of “Shamus Young, time travelling detective” ?

                1. Dovius says:

                  If we’re going towards fiction anyway, why not ‘Shamus Young, wizard detective’.
                  …Or am I the only one chuckling at the mental image of Shamus in a duster and staff?

              2. Nick says:

                Yup. It’s also worth remembering that Shamus is 19 at this point. Trust me, everyone is an idiot at 19. I certainly was. It looks more like Shamus simply didn’t know how to react to the situation, having not really faced it before, than any particular prejudice on his part.

                (And before anyone else says it – anyone younger than you is a reckless idiot and everyone older than you is a curmudgeonly old miser)

                1. Shamus says:

                  Yeah, I don’t know how to respond to the “prejudiced” charge, because the attitudes and values have shifted SO MUCH. By today’s standards, I was horribly insensitive. By the standards of the day? That was normal. For everyone.

                  Also, “prejudiced”, like “racist”, is a word of double meaning. It can mean, “regards another with mild scorn or mockery”, but it can also mean, “hateful, malicious, violent, advocating oppression”.

                  I was certainly guilty of being insensitive. I never wished harm on others.

                  1. decius says:

                    Those two definitions have no features to distinguish them from each other.

                    In order to discuss them any further, we need to separate the moral and ethical aspects from the descriptive aspects.

                    ‘Prejudice’ can be simply ‘an opinion made without adequate basis.’

                    1. Shamus says:

                      Which was the point I was making, yes?

                      I’m sure you can see the difference between passive thoughtlessness and active maliciousness. The word “prejudice” does not allow for such a distinction, which is why I didn’t know how to respond.

                    2. Atle says:

                      At all times we generalize. That’s how we learn, how we categorize the world, how we handle new situations and why we expect to see trees in the woods.

                      But new situations can be handled with an openness and readiness to adapt to elements that are not as you expected them to be, or with a closed mind where you have already judged the new situation, and you don’t give the new situation a chance to adjust this picture.

                      So the difference between being prejudiced and not is not in having certain ideas about what to expect from a new situation, but being able to adjust your view of the situation when it is not as you expected.

                      (Sorry for my clumsy English)

            2. Varenius says:

              Kdansky, is it really so odd to feel ashamed that you/others are violating people’s privacy? Would your countrymen truly never respond like that? I think stereotypes about Americans are clouding your thinking a bit.

            3. Squash says:

              I’m not sure what you think Shamus’s motivation was.

              There is nothing inconsistent at all about doing what one thinks is right, but at the same time being ashamed of what others might think.

        2. ccesarano says:

          There’s a couple things to note here.

          1) The constant argument about how conservative America is in terms of sex is, well, Shamus already touched on it. But I think people forget that America has entire states that are larger than individual European countries. Are you going to tell me that all of Europe is consistent in their views of sex and nudity?

          2) In terms of being “homophobic”, it’s easy to say that when you’re an adult in the year 2011. When you were a teenager in the 80’s, the culture was different. Plus, these are teenagers still learning how to be comfortable with their own sexuality. Gay men were not a common thing, whereas it feels today you can throw a rock and have a chance of hitting a gay person (and then being arrested for a hate crime).

          Homophobic? Maybe, but the culture in that regard was different, and a bunch of dudes walking around with their bits hanging about was weird and foreign to them.

          1. PAK says:

            You made your point elegantly and eloquently, except for the tasteless joke about the rock. The readers here come from many backgrounds, and while you were completely correct in standing up for Shamus against overly hasty cries of homophobia, you didn’t need such a vicious counterattack in your comment at all.

            1. MrWhales says:

              Are you being serious or just trolling? Please tell me just trolling.

              1. ehlijen says:

                What’s trolling? The joke he made, while quite likely not intended as such, could easily be construed as a complaint about unfair treatment of non minorities when accused of hating minorities.

                Making digs at ‘hate crimes’ isn’t that far removed from bemoaning ‘affirmative action’.

                Again, I do not believe this was the intended meaning, but rather that it was just a joke that took off in an unfortunate direction, but the complaint is valid; it was a badly executed punchline.

              2. PAK says:

                Ouch. Trolling isn’t something I ever expected to be accused of. I was probably amiss in using the term “vicious,” for which I apologize. I posted in a slightly irritated mood. I doubt ccesarano consciously intended such a tenor to his comment, as that’s quite out of character with his usual commenting style. However, it does seem unnecessarily and rather flippantly unkind. Being a theatre person with close personal friends who have experienced physical violence as a result of their sexual orientation, it makes me feel unwelcome. I’m not used to feeling that way on Twenty Sided.

                1. ccesarano says:

                  Yeah, wasn’t expecting that reaction at all. I was originally going for a saying similar to “hitting the broad side of a barn” or “bull loose in a china shop”. I’ve heard and used the term “You can throw a rock anywhere and hit a blah-de-blah”, such as throwing a rock at a…Weezer? concert and probably hit a Hipster. The hate crime part was an afterthought, as I realized my metaphor would be a literal hate crime if actually done.

                  Maybe it was insensitive, but my typical attitude is apathy when it comes to homosexuality. I simply don’t care that people are gay, and thus I often don’t think of things like people actually being harmed due to their sexual orientation. I apologize if I offended.

                  1. PAK says:

                    Cool. Thanks for the clarification.

                  2. Alexander The 1st says:

                    That’s how I know I thought it as – more of a “*DON’T DO THIS AT HOME!” message to the joke about throwing the rock, rather than a “Consequences of a hateful act as a funny joke.” point.

                    Ah well – that’s the double-edged lightsaber of internet comments, no? (*Insert “Whoops, cut my ear off!” joke here*)

          2. karln says:

            “Gay men were not a common thing”

            They were always around. You just didn’t know about them so much.

    3. Ski says:

      Every culture has their set of taboos. Besides, it didn’t stop Shamus’ roommates from looking!

    4. Jethro says:

      IANAA (I am not an American), but here’s my take on that aspect of their culture:

      America was forged by violence perpetrated by the descendants of Puritans. So it stands to reason that they have an unnatural (to the rest of us) cognitive disconnect when it comes to morality.

      Naturally, as with any generalisation, this one is not 100% accurate: as pointed out by Shamus, not every part of America holds the same moral values. Little Rock, AK loves them their guns, while LA is fond of boobs and bums. The amusing thing to me as an outsider is how polarised the American cultural landscape is when it comes to issues of morality- or perhaps I should say “public expression” of morality. I’m sure they exist, but I’m not aware of any jurisdictions where moderation is a key factor: either you’re a Bible-thumping, gun-toting Republican, or a naked vegetarian Democrat. I know, I know- that’s a caricature, and not wholly accurate. As a nation, Americans aren’t really prudes- one only has to look at the volume and variety (JUST LOOK AT IT!) of porn they generate to see that. But one also only has to look at the crazy laws they have on the books and up for consideration, to see that there is a huge disconnect there around moral issues.

      1. Shamus says:

        And while this place was SETTLED by puritans, it’s mostly inhabited by immigrants. At the start of the 20th century, we had a massive influx of immigrants that rapidly changed our culture. I don’t personally know anyone that can trace their ancestry back further than 1880 or so without encountering immigrants. I’m the descendant of Polish, German, and Irish. (And more Polish.) And if movies are anything to be believed, the European immigrants were MUCH more puritanical and religious than the people who had been living here for centuries.


        An American and a European are standing next to each other. Suddenly the European takes 10 steps to the left. The American takes 9 steps to the left. The the European looks at the American and says, “Look how far to the right you are!”

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          Hehe.. You’d be surprised that this trend is more or less reversed in terms of personal space, though – at least between north Europe and the US ;)

      2. There weren’t many Puritans where I’m from. The Puritans are much more a northeastern thing. My area had convicts, Scots, Irish, would be aristocrats, and slaves.

        Also, most countries are forged in violence. Dark Ages in Europe, the Hundred-Year war, the Thirty Years War, ect.

        I blame a small vocal minority for the”OMG BOOBIES!” thing.

    5. Patrick the Unrepentant Assgraber says:

      Ah for gods sake if it will make any and all of you feel better feel free to stand outside my house with your giblets exposed to the cool evening air and I will either look away/leer and hate it/love it/shrug ambiguously depending on each of your preferances.

      I lived in San Francisco for 2 years. Quite possibly the worlds most socially acceptable society in regards to sexuality. It has to at least be in the top 5.

      And in San Fransisco grown men do not walk around in front of a giant picture window for all to see. Perhaps it may have been slightly inappropriate to call and complain, but can we all agree that 2 guys walkin around a hotel room naked with the drapes open knowing full well the place is littered with teenagers is a bit…odd?

      Just because they are open and comfotable in their all-togetherness doesn’t mean they are naive as to the physical properties of glass, in-asmuch as it allows light to travel through it.

      1. Brian says:

        Actually, calling those two and telling them to cover up PUH-LEASE! seemed almost like an act of decency to me, even if it wasn’t intended as such. Okay, now they knew they had been seen and maybe they felt uncomfortable because of it. But if they hadn’t found out? They could have been seen by anyone who happened to look that way. I don’t know how many other ‘chalets’ there were though, and it was already late…

        It a bit like telling someone he’s got a booger hanging from his nose. Sure, it’s embarrassing for him if you tell him, but it’s far worse to just let him walk around like that all day. Even if he never finds out :P

      2. Chris says:

        Despite that you are being the most rational person on the subject I still cannot help but think of you as the guy that wants to.donkey punch people in the mall.

        1. Patrick the Catastrophically Unmotivated says:

          Hell yea…. saw a grandma the other day with her shirt tucked into her adult diaper, got so angry…


          Donkey punched the blue right out of her hair. There was Orange Jullius everywhere.

  7. SolkaTruesilver says:

    I, for one, totally believe that Shamus would really have wanted to write the entire post, but thought it would set a bad programming behavior standard.

    It probably has nothing to do with yesterday being Thanksgiving.

    1. Matt says:

      I doubt it was for Shamus. I never got the impression he was Canadian.

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:

        I am sure he was out there celebrating in our name just to pay hommage to our culture.

        that’s how much of a great fella he is :-)

        1. Patrick the Power Forward says:

          Canadian Huh…?

          Don Cherry sucks. Hockey WAS your sport. Like everything else, we are now better at it. Except for soccer, and thats only because we are spending our time playing sports where we get to hit people.

          Toronto hasn’t been relevant for years. Montreal…well not even other candiens like the Habs. Best thing to come out of Montreal was Lemieux and he was smart enough to move to PIttsburgh. Even Patrick Roy hated the Habs, and he’s from Montreal. Vancouver are a bunch of hacks and goons hiding behind the 2 biggest sissies in the game. Edmonton hasn’t been the same since Gretky left, ’06 was an anomoly. And Calgary…well alright… I kinda like Calgary. Iginla kicks ass and the Sweaters are friggin sweet.

          I dunno. Something tells me I probably met the only two canadiens that don’t care about hockey.

          This is OUR SPORT now. Have fun with Don Cherry and the Sutter clan.

          1. Shamus says:

            If you start a flame war I will hit you until I have an asthma attack so bad that you’ll have to drive me to the hospital.

            1. Jeremiah says:

              Now I’m going to picture Shamus using the threat of an asthma attack in every fight, ever, with his siblings.

            2. Patrick the Catastrophically Unmotivated says:

              Dude..I am so bored at work. You know how hard it is to stay focused on finding the proper translation for a “Scheibenkupplung”, which loosely translates into “Plate striker”, only to find out after an hour of digging that it is a slang term for windshield wiper. Which explains why when I ordered 6 windshield wipers from Mueselwitz last month I got 4 rolls of paper towels. You know what the overseas shipping and import taxes are on 6 bucks worth of paper towels?

              They’re just Canadiens…what are they gonna do, throw fish at me? Scream in French? Seriously Shamus…google “Don Cherry” and tell me that they don’t need antogonized… just a little.

              1. Tired Kraut says:


                At least not where I come from: A Scheibenkupplung is a disc clutch.

                1. ehlijen says:

                  Yeah, that’s what I thought too.

                  Are you sure you’re not confusing it with Scheibenwischer?

                2. Patrick the Catastrophically Unmotivated says:

                  The compnay I work for has a very specialized parts data base. We all make the same machines, *technically, but each division was at one point it’s own company that has been purchased. With each purchase comes a new data base of almost identical parts, but with radically different names. We have almost 600,000 part number and descriptions… but probably only buy 80k-100k actual parts per year. Each company we assimilated has brought their own “tribal” terms and part descriptions.

                  This is what I do, hack through part names and descriptions and try to figure out what is what, and where the redundancy occurs, and then pick a single part description.

                  As to how Scheibenkupplung get turned into windshield wiper… I have no idea. But on the BOM, thats what it was.

              2. MrWhales says:

                Canadiens are a hockey team i believe. The word you are looking for is Caramel.

              3. SolkaTruesilver says:

                Don Cherry is, indeed, a totaly senile and delusional man who is paid to ramble in front of the camera. It’s pretty embarassing that CBC is still paying him. He’s just below Jack Edward when it comes to bad and moronic hockey commentators.

                And Montreal 4 Ever, dude! Habs R and always will be THE hockey Mecca.

                Oh, and you are doing a bad job owning that sport, dude. Didn’t you lost a franchise (Atlanta) that was transferred to.. Winnipeg? :-P

          2. Simulated Knave says:

            Don Cherry is a gentleman, a scholar, and dead right about shoulderpads.

            We won the gold at the Olympics the last two times, when you have ten times the population. Because you’re just so dominant in the sport.

            Being able to pay Canadians more than they can get at home isn’t that impressive in professional sports.

            You also forgot Ottawa and Winnipeg. Tsk tsk.

            Oh, and we’re a functioning country that doesn’t fetishize the rich as though they’re some superior species. So that’s a plus.

            1. TSED says:

              Let’s do a comparison. Our prime minister is currently enacting policies that are very close to the USA’s stance on, well, pretty much everything.

              And everyone hates him for it. He’s ruining our education system, our healthcare system, or environment, our international reputation, our rights and freedoms, our waterworks; you name it and he’s ruining it.

              Keep in mind that he’s ruining everything by becoming more like the USA. So, you know, we’ve got that going for us. The American default is such a far step down that the Canadian people won’t accept it.

              1. Simulated Knave says:

                Well, Alberta doesn’t hate him. And the stupid.

                1. TSED says:

                  As someone who lives in Alberta, yeah, we hate him. There seems to be two groups, actually – those who know anything about him (and hate him), and those who don’t know anything about anyone (and are completely apathetic).

                  I really honestly can’t figure out who keeps voting for him, though.

                  1. SolkaTruesilver says:

                    And the French. You can’t leave us Quebecois out, we are a category appart.

                    1. DaveMc says:

                      What, are you a distinct society or something?

                    2. SolkaTruesilver says:

                      DaveMc: :-P


            2. Patrick the Catastrophically Unmotivated says:

              Don Cherry was a half decent coach at one point, but if he had been as good of a coach as he thinks he is, or as everyone seems to have idolated him to have been, he wouldnt have lost to those hack hockey idiots from Philly.

              And his solution to elimintaing headshots and idiots like Matt Cooke is…to have other guys like Matt Cooke go after the other teams version Of Matt Cooke before he can hit one of your guys? So his idea of making the game safer is to take away safty equipment and have more idiot players having their own “game within the game” of who can injur the other guy first? Did you watch that abortion of a hockey game last ear between Pittsburgh and NY Islanders? This is what Cherry, Lord of Hockey and Keeper of the unwritten law, thinks will clean up the sport? He’s a dinosaur. He’s a stammering isiot who is more famous for his outrageous attire than anything. He thinks he’s Vince Lomabardi, he’s closer to Vince McMahon.

              And the US has won nearly every major Junior tournament for the last 4 years. Yea you won the Gold Medal…BARELY. We beat you once in tha tournament and you know damn well how close you were to losing it. Your assume dominance in a sport when everything else says otherwise.

              And I’m so sick of that “Americans pay more” BS. There’s been a salary cap in place for years. Was it the Americans fault the Habs overpaid for Gionta and Gomez? How many terrible contracts did Toronto sign the last couple years. Don’t blame economics for stupidity. Lots of Canadiens chose to play south of the border for lots more than cash.

              I didnt forget Ottawa. No one cares about it. And Winnipeg? Eh…I’m one of the few that’s glad they put a team back in the city. Atlanta sucked. We’ll see how that goes.

              And I don’t fetishize anyone, especially not the rich. And besides that isn’t even relevant to the discussion of how bad your asses are going to be kicked in 2014.

              And it’s just ham cut into circles. Canadian bacon is about the dumbest shit ever….

  8. DaveMc says:

    A few sentences in: “My girlfriend is …” Whoa, hold on a minute, there. When last seen, past-Shamus wasn’t ready for an actual relationship, he’d had a few tame flings with distant summer-camp girls, and now he’s casually referring to having a girlfriend? I feel like I missed a few episodes of a show I’d been following. :)

    1. Patrick the Pirate Profligator says:

      Shamus has omitted quite a few things. Suffice to say the anti-social hermit portrayed in this incantation is not entirely accurate.

      Ask him about the cabin in the woods.

      Ask him about the puppets.

      Ask him what Centrifuge is.

      Ask him about the time a girl handed him a bra at the bus stop.

      Ask him about the time the church youth group piled into a large Mercury and went to the abandonded strip mine and went swimming in the murky waters in our underwear. Yea…the CHURCH youth group. We were awesome.

      Somewhere between his OCD for all things programming and the apparently constant oppressive demands for schoolwork, Shamus did manage to have a somewhat normal, if not mundane, teenage experience.

      1. ccesarano says:

        In the event he doesn’t tell-all, would you be willing to? Y’know, like that fist-fight a number of posts back?

        1. Patrick the Pirate Profligator says:

          Hell no. You guys made fun of my mullet.

          1. X2-Eliah says:

            We wasn’t makin’ fun, we was admiring its glory and, er.. how it draws the look immediately..

          2. Ruthie says:

            It was pretty epic. Although we tease about it now, I have no doubt that your hair was the envy of most guys you went to school with.

            1. Patrick the Pirate Profligator says:

              no it wasn’t, it was the worst mullet in school. The other guys with mullets wanted me to cut it because I gave guys with Mullets a bad name.

              1. Jeremiah says:

                To be fair, guys with mullets give guys with mullets a bad name.

      2. Jarenth says:

        I’m incredibly afraid that asking any of these questions will end up badly for the asker.

        I’m imaginging an abandonded shack somewhere deep in the woods, stuffed to the brim with glass-eyed porcelain dolls, each one bald except for a single real hair.

        Now I’m picturing walking down a dark alley one night, only to hear the word ‘Centrifuge‘ whispered in my neck, before turning around and

        1. ccesarano says:

          Candle Jack? What does that have to do with Centrifu-

      3. Shamus says:

        The Cabin: I helped Pat build a cabin with his school friends Eric and Mike. I hung out with them a lot in the summer, although looking back I never thought of them as MY friends. I was the oldest, but I was also something of a hanger-on. The other three didn’t like computers, or any of the music I liked, or any of the nerdy stuff I did.

        Puppets: Yes, I was a puppeteer. Our church had a “Puppet Ministry”. Laying aside the questionable “ministry” aspect of it, I really, really enjoyed puppetry. It was a fun activity.

        Centrifuge was church camp. In Patrick’s own words: “Every year when we went to church camp he had a girlfriend in, like, 5 minutes. Seriously. At home he was John Cusack from '16 candles'. At church camp he was Patrick Swayze from “˜Dirty Dancing'. Mind-boggling.” Yeah, it was kind of mind-boggling. But this really only resulted in me having a large number of attractive pan-pals.

        Bra: I don’t remember the bra thing?

        Swimming: Yeah, our youth group was pretty cool.

        1. Patrick the Pirate Profligator says:

          Vanessa gave you her bra at the bus stop? Or maybe I heard that wrong…

          And you can’t keep going on about school and computers. I know your audience here loves those bits, but you do need to throw in some flavor once in awhile. You were socially akward, not some reclusive hermit that spent his nights cursing the soul of the man who first uttered the word “homework”.

          If you were a robot this is the point where we would send you to bring back the two aliens we picked up in Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha.

          Though this post is a good start…maybe next we could back up a few years and discuss the time you and I almost got arrested for smashing out the windows of cars.

          1. Jethro says:

            Patrick must have his own blog. He could be the Locke to Shamus’ Demosthenes- or the other way ’round, I don’t care.

            Or maybe it’s more fun to see him hit the comments here and colourise Shamus’ incredible stories.

            This is getting to more and more fun!

            1. Sydney says:

              Other way ’round, by the looks of it. Shamus the temperate, Patrick the agitator.

        2. Syal says:

          Well, if Shamus doesn’t have a bra story, I do.

          I was in an Acting class my first year of college. One of the skits included a bit where the other guy waved a bra at me, so one of the girls in class offered to lend me hers to use. Being a moron, I took her up on her offer and thought nothing more of it.

          The skit ended, the teacher complimented our performances, and then asked us where we got our “obviously fake bra”, because he didn’t believe anyone was small-chested enough to wear it. Then I handed her bra back to her, and the class roared with laughter.

          …that was probably pretty dickheaded.

          1. Patrick the Pirate Profligator says:

            Wow…I’m a guy and that one stings abit. Thats like a guy being handed a bottle of crab shampoo in front of the cheerleaders…. or having your package of “Compact” size condom fall out of you wallet onto the table while reaching for your credit card on a first date.

            I hope she worked that one out in therapy….

            1. Methermeneus says:

              The tone of these stories reminds me vaguely of an anecdote from my senior year of high school. Some friends and I used to pick an empty classroom to hang out in now and then (we’d originally been a computer club, but the teacher advisor didn’t renew it, and we couldn’t find another teacher to take over), and a couple of their friends would also hang out with us sometimes. There was this one girl, kind of a gothy tough chick kind of personality who was one of those friend of a friend people. She was actually pretty nice, and I wish I could remember her name to look her up now, as I have a lot of my high school friends through the wonder that is Facebook.

              Anyway, one day she randomly offered to show off her boobs. I don’t remember why, and I think she was mostly joking at first. I thought that then, too, so when she actually did, a quick flash that I barely noticed out of the corner of my eye, I was looking down at a book. I was kind of annoyed that she’d wound up flashing everyone except me (and, hey, just because I was more in control of myself than most people at that age doesn’t mean I wasn’t still a hormonal teenaged idiot underneath) and pestered her a bit until she flashed me, too, a good bit longer of a look; she didn’t drop her shirt and bra back into place this time until her friend in our group took the opportunity to cop a feel. (She didn’t act too annoyed with him either, admittedly.) That and a conversation we had something like two days before I graduated makes me think in retrospect that she may have had a thing for me, but as I said, I was a teenage idiot, and I was concentrating on getting another girl that I thought I had a chance with at the time. (Turns out I did, see this post, but now I have to wonder at what might have been.)

              Much like Shamus with Ann in his Seven Springs post, I was also surprised to discover that this girl was significantly (for that age) younger than me. I thought she’d be in my graduating class, but at the aforementioned conversation right before I graduated, she mentioned that she’d be stuck there for another three years.

      4. Mari says:

        The youth group thing amuses me. Now I’m not the only one who learned bad, bad things from church youth group. I started smoking at church camp. Lost my virginity at a church youth outing. Got drunk the first time at a church youth lock-in.

        1. Jethro says:

          Dude, church girls are the best. Especially pastors’ daughters. Especially the daughters of Pentecostal pastors.

          Just sayin’.

          1. Vipermagi says:

            Wait, “dude”?

            1. Jarenth says:

              The word ‘Dude’ can mean many, many things.

            2. Mari says:

              Dude, I’m a mom of 2 daughters both of whom I occasionally address as “duuuuude!” Dude is unisex the same way “man” is unisex in the Bible.

              1. decius says:

                Man, I didn’t know that, dude!

                Is dudette still exclusively feminine?

                1. JPH says:

                  Nobody says dudette. Ever.

          2. ccesarano says:

            Up until a point. When I was in junior and senior high, I stopped being involved in my Church’s youth events because the other kids were assholes. The Youth Pastor’s son knocked a woman up out of wedlock it turns out! The actual Pastor’s children are actually good folk.

            Now I’m an adult and am getting involved with my Church’s College and Careers group, and I’ll tell you what, these people are conservative with a capital “conservative”.

          3. Mari says:

            Heh. My hubby dated a Pentecostal pastor’s daughter for a while. I’d like to think I earned higher marks in the “the best” category :-)

      5. Stephanie says:

        I know people in Church groups. Their humour is quite… earthy.

  9. Patrick the Pirate Profligator says:

    For the record folks, Mandy was an insufferable nag. I hated her.

    1. Mari says:

      What else could you expect from a future secretary? :-P

      1. Patrick the Pirate Profligator says:

        She went to Harvard actually, or maybe Princeton. Some crap like that. She was some Stevie Nicks wanna-be….first generation emo.

        Black shirt, longsleeved.Black pants.Pale skin made intentionally more pale by use of cosmetics. Bright red lipstick. Her entire demeanor could be described as “sulking”. Of the little I know about it, she actually could be the main character in the Twilight series. I’m sure she loves the books. She went out her way to make sure you couldn’t ignore her, wether by actions or appearance, only so she could give you some snarky comment about why you won’t just ignore her, which is of course the last thing she wanted.

        I didn’t expect anything form her…maybe I expected her to go jump up her own ass. He could have done better. He did eventually.

        1. Mari says:

          Back then they were proto-goths instead of “emo.” Trust me on this, I know because you just described me at about the same time period. And oh god was I an insufferable PITA. If it helps, some of us turned out normal after all. Maybe she was one. Or maybe she finally died of despair when Anne Rice announced that she wasn’t writing any more homoerotic vampire stories about angst and darkness. I knew a few that got sucked into the sea of despair around then.

        2. Shamus says:

          She went to Bucknell.

          But yes, she was exceedingly cynical and snarky, and dressed just as described.

          She was basically a crash course in relationships for me. I’d never had a [real] relationship before, and I had to learn how to do it. I made all the various mistakes: Jealousy, curiosity about Past Boyfriends, pouting for attention, saying something insensitive… I’d do something bad, get negative feedback, and learn not to do that. It was a strange relationship and we were a strange couple. She was very mature and world-weary. I was… not. I don’t know what either of us saw in the other.

          1. Methermeneus says:

            I think this is what Patrick was talking about when he says you need to relate more about your interpersonal relationships. This is also likely to get a lot of other people talking about their first girlfriend. For instance, I certainly remember having a similar first relationship, although I was lucky enough to get a girlfriend who was genuinely nice for the most part, and who is still one of my best friends. (She was kind of into some New Age stuff, but wasn’t ever as big on the goth/emo scene as her sister, who was herself never all that big on it.) We stayed together through some crap that we genuinely shouldn’t have, however, such as when I was constantly fighting with my parents while my father degenerated further and further into paranoia, or when she was trying to kick some highly addictive anti-anxiety meds without her psychiatrist’s support (meaning the psychiatrist wouldn’t prescribe lower doses, which made it a lot harder to wean off of them). I can also credit a fight I had with her towards the end of our romantic relationship with the (indirect) inspiration for my most ambitious story idea.

            1. Patrick the Catastrophically Unmotivated says:

              Well… actually I was just hoping he would tell more stories about how we used to break shit. But your way works too.

              1. Methermeneus says:

                Well, that’s because you’re his brother. We who don’t know Shamus as well are more interested in the human element. But it’s fun to hear how he broke shit, too. ;D

          2. Brian says:

            “Jealousy, curiosity about Past Boyfriends, pouting for attention, saying something insensitive…”
            I’m relieved to see that I am not the only one to make those mistakes :)

            1. karln says:

              Dear god, this.

  10. Skyy_High says:

    This story makes a LOT more sense in context, now. Thanks again for sharing all of this.

  11. Rayen says:

    these are probably the funniest posts on this site, sorry DM of the rings…

  12. ccesarano says:

    I read these before, but with the rest of the autoblography providing context, that line “time to stop screwing around” really gives it meaning.

    Though the lesson with Diane isn’t so much “stop screwing around”. I had to advise a friend of mine recently that you don’t try to convince a girl to go out with you. That’s what a lot of geeks or nerds try to do, basically, and in the end it’s a perspective lacking in confidence. All this “out of my league” and other stuff is basically giving her greater value than yourself.

    It’s more about seeing the winner in you, and if a girl doesn’t want to talk to you or date you then it is her loss and life goes on. Granted, some guys that have this perspective actually are assholes or losers. It’s also easier to give this sort of advice than it is to follow it. But it’s amazing what sorts of things happen when you stop thinking of people as being out of your league.

    1. Mari says:

      It’s also amazing how attractive you become to the opposite sex when you decide YOU’RE out of THEIR league. :-)

      1. ccesarano says:

        I’m out of everyone’s league, but possibly because I’m never playing the same sport as everyone else.

        At least, that’s what I tell myself to feel better.

  13. Ruthie says:

    You're awesome… but I wish I wasn't so much like you.
    I went to district orchestra my senior year of high school. I could have gone as early as my sophmore year, but never even tried.
    Students receive the music over a month in advance. I looked at it, thought “this stuff is hard!” and put it back in its folder until it was time to go.
    When you arrive the first thing you do is audition. You are given several measures to play for the judges, but you aren't told the selection before hand. This is so that students don't practice the same 10 measures for a month, but ignore the rest of the music. I've practiced none.
    I walk in, sit down, and sight read my music.
    I walk out thinking I've blown it. I'm embarrassed by my performance, I know I played notes incorrectly. Not a little off key, or the wrong rhythm, but entirely wrong notes. I want to go home.
    After dinner the results are announced. Of 12 cellists, I placed 4th. This standing qualifies me for regionals. I feel I'm not cut out for it, I'm afraid of the work that it will take, and afraid I'll be outted as a slacker who never took lessons, can't play in second position, and who hates to practice.
    So I opt out, which infuriates my director. And myself 10 years later.

    1. Patrick the Drismall Cynic says:

      You were right to quit. You sucked.

      Just like you were right to quit college with only a few classes left to take, it would have been a waste and you would have wound up lost and destitute.

      Thank god it’s too late to correct those descisions. I’m sure SRU would never take you back, and neither would any other institue of higher learning for that matter. And I’m sure there’s no way you could start playing the…the big wooden thing you used to bang and beat on clumsily with your over grown man-like, meaty fingers.

      I’m so glad it’s far to late for you to do anything other than spend the rest of your life with the regret of flippant teenage descisions. :-/

      1. Methermeneus says:

        Or it could simply not be too late to take other opportunities entirely unrelated to the things you regret missing as a less-wise teenager. You could always do something weird like me. I’m literally one credit away from a Classics degree with a Linguistics minor, but can’t afford to pay for that last class and can’t get financial aid with only one class to take, but that’s okay because I happen to be having more fun now working on the completely unrelated field of web design and learning programming. (And also writing fiction in my spare time, but we’ll see how much of a living that gets me.)

    2. Ashnak says:

      I’m a victim of this too. Highly ranked in my graduating class, and I didn’t apply to any top-tier schools because “They wouldn’t accept me.” Now at 33, I spend a large portion of my time convincing high school students not sell themselves short. Much like me, they don’t listen.

  14. Reach says:

    I’m so glad you brought this back up. When I first read Seven Springs, I really wanted to comment on it but it was far too old and dormant to justify it. Just wanted to say that this is a fantastic, hilarious, and inspiring story, thanks for sharing it.

  15. Eärlindor says:

    I’ve read these before, but it was good to read them again, and the context makes it better.

    I commented before, and I’ll comment again: I saw pieces of myself in these two posts; missed opportunities and so forth.

    On a more silly note, I can’t help but read this and think there’s a story to be made (be it film, book, etc.) about four kids from different walks of life in a hotel with no chaperone, and they begin to create elaborate schemes and play god with the entire hotel.

    1. rayen020 says:

      they’d need a week instead of 3 days to make a really compelling story for something the length of a book/movie. But yeah i think that’d be a pretty funny movie.

  16. Ambitious Sloth says:

    I remember reading the Seven Springs story a few years ago and how that “Stop screwing around” line affected me then. Now reading it again I’ve realized that I had forgotten the message of that tale and need to refocus my efforts again.


  17. Paul Spooner says:

    I had read the Seven Springs story a while ago, and re-reading it still feels kind of disconnected from the autoblography. Probably becuase it was written as a standalone instead of a continuation.

    While I appreciate the DRY principle, perhaps it would be helpful to write an autoblography interface wrapper around seven springs, to make them mesh with the overall arc.

    Of course, that’s extra work, and we all know how much Minecraft and DE:HR you have to keep up with. :)

  18. Adam F says:

    I really disliked reading those stories, because they clearly brought home the “stop screwing around” message…and screwing around is exactly what I am doing reading this blog post and writing a comment instead of working on my proposal. Back to work I guess. Better delayed than never!

  19. Krissy says:

    “My mother did not raise me to be a cad.”

    I suspect that is the first time I have ever had to spontaneously clap my hands with glee while reading a blog. You really are an extraordinary writer.

  20. Leah says:

    I do not like naked girls or boys.

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