Mike Schuh's favorite sayings

Here are some of my favorite sayings (a few have been sanitized for the Net):


  • "Whoever perpetrated these atrocities wanted war. Now is definitely a time for peace. Work for peace." - Chris Brown, on http://www.gascd.com/
  • [not exactly on "Peace", but relevant] "I have already pointed out the distinction between a centralized government and a centralized administration. The former exsits in America, but the latter is unknown there. If the directing power of the American communitities had both these instruments of the government at its disposal, and united the habit of exectuting its commands to the right of commanding; if, after having established the general principles of government, it descended to the details of their application; and if, having regulated the great interests of the country, it could descend to the circle of individual interests, freedom would soon be banished in the New World." - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America


  • "Most problems between human beings are either caused by, or made worse by, communication difficulties." - me
  • "In communications, it matters less what you say, and more what the other person hears." - paraphrased from anonymous
  • "Life is too short for BS." - anonymous
  • "We humans are not rational creatures; rather, we rationalize." (or "Humans have a seemingly infinite capacity for rationalization") - me
  • "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw
  • "The nice thing about always telling the truth is that you never have to remember what you said." - attributed to Mark Twain
  • "No job is completely done until the paperwork is finished. This includes going to the bathroom." - me, probably inspired by a similar saying
  • "All generalizations are false, including this one." - me, adapted from anonymous
  • "Specialization is for insects." - from Robert Heinlein
  • "If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done." - me
  • "There's only four things we do better than anyone else music movies microcode (software) high-speed pizza delivery" - Neal Stephenson in Snow Crash
  • "The closer you are to something, the larger the defects appear." - me (Originally expressed with respect to organizing large scale orienteering events, where are the problems are obvious to the meet director but hopefully not to the participants, I've come to realize that this is also true with respect to many other endeavours, including relationships - especially relationships.)
  • "Sometimes it's good to hush up a while and let autumn stick in a few words." - Calvin, in "Yukon Ho!" by Bill Watterson
  • "Your infinite capacity for patience will be rewarded sooner or later." - a fortune cookie
  • "One thing that you will always know, is that you will never know..." - from an instructor in an NT class
  • "Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity." - anonymous (from Robert Heinlein?)
  • "Be grateful for the stupid people of the world, and appreciate them. For without them, folks like you and me would be of merely average intelligence." - me
  • "Don't take life so serious, son - it ain't no how permanent." - Porkypine, from Walt Kelly's Pogo
  • "Anyone who can't laugh at himself is not taking life seriously enough." - Larry Wall, creator of Perl, in an article on the history of Perl
  • "Since mortality is upon us insidiously, let's nuture life while we have it. Many of us will miss Randy - and perhaps help others where we couldn't help him." - from an obituary for Randy Ritter, Pike Place Market street musician (flute), by Artis the Spoonman, in "Real Change", April 5-18, 2001
  • "Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends." - Lewis Mumford, My Work and Days
  • "Never say never." - anonymous
  • "It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy... let's go exploring!" - Calvin, by Bill Watterson

    The coming Theocratic States of America

  • "Science education in Kansas: The water in the oceans does not fall off the edges of the Earth because it is God's will that it not do so." - Nicholas Bodley, Mass. (Not "MA")

    Men and Women (well, mostly women)

  • "Foo, a beautiful gal wastes her time gracin' up this swamp." - Miz Beaver, from Walt Kelly's Pogo
  • "Chocolate was never meant to be shared." - Sandra Boynton, from Chocolate, The Consuming Passion Workman Publishing
  • "Men are always whinning about how we are suffocating them. Personally, I think if you can hear them whinning, you are not pressing hard enough on the pillow." - anonymous
  • "All the good women are already taken. That's just the way it is." - from someone's .signature file long ago, wherein he attributed this to his dad. (Not quite true, fortunately; if it were, then (by logic's Law of Contrapositives) any woman who is still "available" would not be desirable. But then I learned long ago that where women are concerned, logic does not apply.)
  • "The sound of a kiss is not so loud as as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer." - Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "A true gentleman carries at least half of his weight on his elbows." - anonymous
  • "Love is that condition wherein another person's happiness is essential to your own." - Robert Heinlein, in Stranger in a Strange Land
  • "Girls are like slugs - they probably serve some purpose, but it's hard to imagine what." - Calvin, in Yukon Ho! by Bill Watterson
  • "I'm easily wiled by a woman in a swimsuit." - Hobbes, ibid.
  • "...a geek household is one where they can cope with having only one car for two people, but not only one computer... Any numbered set of VCR tapes starts with zero instead of one." - from Lisa Michaud's classic On Being a Geek Couple.
  • "(Oracle CEO Larry) Ellison was so intent in his message about the benefits of a single instance of the database that when the first audience member rose to ask a question and instead congratulated him on his recent wedding, Ellison responded by saying, 'Thank you. Moving to a single instance was much easier, and safer, too.'" - Ephraim Schwartz, LinuxWorld January 30, 2004 (http://www.infoworld.com/article/04/01/30/HNellison_1.html)
  • "...Poddy grew up and had another Poddy. And then the world was young again." "Is that all?" "That's all there ever is. But it's enough." - Robert Heinlein, Podkayne of Mars
  • "Keep warm. Ride close together. Remember laughter. You'll need it even in the blessed isles of Ever After." - from Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber (One of my very favorites, and something to live by.)


  • "Guys aren't afraid of climbing ladders as much as women. Guys think that if a little is good, more is better. Women are more constrained about things like taste and cost." - Bill Muse, in Erik Lacitis's Seattle Times column (December 17, 2002) describing the "guy deal" and Christmas lights.


  • "...solving a problem more than once is a waste of time." - Peter Baer Galvin, from a SunWorld column on system administration fire fighting.
  • "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." - Douglas Adams in Mostly Harmless, the fifth book of the HGTTG trilogy
  • "The OS changes, but everything else remains the same." - Jeff Greenstreet, former co-worker, describing how some things in the computer biz (e.g., users, flaky applications, disks filling up, etc.) never change...
  • "Don't succumb to what management expects you to do." - Gryphon Shafer, former co-worker
  • "When someone says they're willing to pay for something, don't do anything to contradict them." - Don Moore, former manager (to both me and Gryphon)
  • "Life without management is like paradise." - Wally, in Scott Adam's Dilbert
  • "Sure, the money matters, but day in, day out there's nothing itchier than an unchallenged mind." - Po Bronson, in The Nudist on the Late Shift
  • "There will exist an 200-picosecond interval, henceforth ignored, every 136 years when the 64-bit field will be zero and thus considered invalid." - RFC 1305 (Network Time Protocol).
  • "Wonderful stuff, documentation." - Joe Barr, after describing how reading the man page for rsync helped him figure out to use it.
  • "Naturally, many ways exist to do almost anything in Unix so the mode of attack that's best depends on the overall problem you are trying to solve, as well as what commands and tools you are most comfortable using. The best tool for the job isn't always the one that's the most efficient. Often, it's the one you know best or the one you want to know best." - Sandra Henry-Stocker (aka S. Lee Henry)
  • "And if you go too far up, abstraction-wise, you run out of oxygen." - Joel Spolsky
  • "In your average 32-bit environment, applications are limited to a virtual address space of 2GB-4GB for storing code and data. With IA-64, this number will be 1 million terabytes. I'm tempted to say about this number what Bill Gates supposedly said about 640K back in the DOS days- 'One million terabytes ought to be enough for anybody.' But don't quote me on that in 10 years when Quake 16 takes up three or four million terabytes of hard disk space." - Jon Stokes
  • "We UNIX sysadmins don't need no stinkin' code reviews. If you need a code review, I'm not giving you root on my systems." - said, hopefully in jest, by Michael Taylor, former co-worker
  • "I dearly hate my computer, I wish to hell they'd sell it. It never does what I want, only what I tell it." - adapted from Devil's DP Dictionary by Stan Kelly-Bootle
  • "...one of my favorite comments about the problem with using bleeding edge technology is that the blood on the floor ends up being yours." - Vincent Flanders, creator of the Web Pages That Suck web site
  • "The nice thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from; furthermore, if you do not like any of them, you can just wait for next year's model." - Andrew S. Tanenbaum, in his classic text Computer Networks
  • "What goes up, must come down. Ask any system administrator." - anonymous, from Bojay Iversen
  • "The Sultan, having dutifully consulted with his palace sages, historians, and theologians, was finally convinced that nothing in the lore of his religion could guide him in the selection of a Network Operating System, and the conclusion was now clear to him, that though most computers in the Palace Administration should run under WINDOWS, yet the Harem Management must be served by UNIX. - Mr. Harry W. Hickey Arlington, VA, From the 2002 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (http://www.sjsu.edu/depts/english/2002.htm)
  • "If "your encryption source code is too large to serve as an email attachment", they are glad to receive it by fax instead; hope you have a cheap long-distance plan." - from the README file for OpenSSL, describing how contributions from the US can be accepted only if the federal government is duly notified and the means for doing so. Supposedly this is keeping America safe...
  • "I am what many might call "Joe Six-Pack's Mom". Though I may be a little more computer savvy than many women my age, I am by no means an expert on anything (IABNMAEOA?)." - user "brooker" on the Groklaw site, January 27, 2004, wherein she commented on the Open Souce community and praised Pamela Jones' efforts with Groklaw. (let this be recorded as the first use of this acronym) (brooker's posting is 2/3 of the way down this page)
  • "We Cannot Ship Any Caffeine To Sweden Or Belgium." - from the ThinkGeek web page describing their "Caffeine Sampler, v2.0"
  • "Trying to solve problems in astrophysics and astronomy convinced me that, if a machine doesn't do what you want it to do, then reprogram it to do the right thing. Early on I learned that a machine does just what you tell it to, and nothing more." - Tsutomu Shimomura, in Takedown
  • "Too much testing ruins your software." - Bruce Reynolds, former co-worker
  • "Good - that's the error I wanted to see." - Nolan Ledbetter, co-worker, when some code we were developing made a minor leap forward in behavior.
  • "In the end, the phone company always wins." - Robert X. Cringely, describing how the incumbent telcos will prevail in the broadband business.

    Computers, DOS

  • "When it quits doing stuff, it's done." - Justin Horrocks, former co-worker, describing how to tell when Windows is finished with a task
  • "It wasn't meant to be taken seriously." - Bruce Moshahsa, former co-worker, talking about MS-DOS/Windows
  • "We haven't figured out how to be lower-priced than Linux." - Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, at the Microsoft Fusion 2002 conference
  • "There's no way to measure the damage Microsoft did by marketing DOS and Windows as if it were a software product equivalent to a word processor or database. In any other industry, this concept would be insane. It's one thing to buy accessories for your car or buy a new car, but can you imagine what it would be like if Ford tried to sell you a new engine every year?" - Nicholas Petreley, writing in LinuxWorld.com
  • "Comparing Win95 to MacOS is like comparing a transvestite to a real woman." - anonymous, from Michael Jardeen.
  • "... using licensing as a way of forcing customers to pay more money for less functionality is what passes for innovation at Microsoft these days." - Ed Foster, writing about Microsoft's "License 6.0" extortion program, Infoworld "Gripe Line" column, http://www.idg.net/go.cgi?id=714377, July 2002
  • "Error: Keyboard not attached. Press F1 to continue." - MS DOS error message
  • "We know that software always has bugs and that some of those bugs will always affect security. The fact that someone happened onto this bug doesn't say anything about the quality of the code." - Scott Culp, Microsoft security program manager, reacting to yet another security flaw, this one in MS's "Internet Security and Acceleration", as reported in The Seattle Times, April 18, 2002.
  • "I'd crawl over an acre of 'Visual This++' and 'Integrated Development That' to get to gcc, Emacs, and gdb. Thank you." - Vance Petree, Virginia Power (quoted on http://isp.knotwork.com/spam.spider)
  • "It is easy to criticize Microsoft. Heck, I've made a career of it." - Robert X. Cringely, in his on line column
  • "How can I properly characterize this solution? It is like a court ordering a convicted drug dealer to give out more free samples of heroin to underprivileged children to ensure that their poverty does not deprive them of the opportunity to become addicted." - Russell Pavlicek, writing about the "penalty" proposed for Microsoft (giving "free" software to impoverished schools), "The Open Source" from InfoWorld.com, January 23, 2002


  • "Superior pilots may be defined as those who stay out of trouble by using their superior judgement to avoid those situations which might require the use of their superior skills." - anonymous
  • "Tex Johnston will be remembered for those two barrel rolls... The 707 was the future. It worked, and it was wonderful. It was more than a product - just as life is more than work. Life requires an occasional barrel roll for the sheer joy of existence." - Seattle Times editorial memorializing Alvin "Tex" Johnston, senior test pilot for Boeing who rolled a 707 over the crowds watching Seafair hydroplane races.


  • "All the ills of mankind, all the political blunders, all the failures of the great leaders have arisen merely from a lack of skill in dancing." - Molière
  • "If you can't be graceful, make a scene." - the ever-gracious Lara Me' Smith as she clambered back onto the stage at Temple D' Hirsch after demonstrating a contra-dance move
  • "Men, remember that you can be macho without being painful." - ibid.
  • "...the power of a single well-chosen word or phrase never ceases to astonish me; that astonishment is only matched by my amazement at the number of callers who don't realise how important finding exactly the right words is to the job of calling." - Kiran Wagle in rec.folk-dancing, August 8, 1999
  • "Slap your partner in the face, write bad checks all over the place, Flirt with strangers, annoy your spouse, get a divorce and lose your house." - Dogbert
  • "Good dancers are those that make their partners look good." - anonymous as paraphrased by Edith Maverick-Folger and mildly reworded by me
  • "These days, there are contra dances all over the country, including Pittsburgh." - Bob Frederking, on his web page at Carnegie Mellon University
  • "It's not how badly you mess up, it's how well you recover." - me (I have a lot of practice recovering...)


  • "These are the high holy days of our people" - Greg Canote
  • "There are plenty of partners, for God's sake - this is Folklife" - Julie Dickelman, caller from Spokane, attempting to reassure some 400-500 contradancers that it really wouldn't matter if they lost track of their partner during a particular move...
  • "If you don't know where to go, go there quickly" - Woody Lane, caller from Roseburg, Oregon


  • "It's going to be a fun event." "Even if it's raining?" "Especially if it's raining." - from Eric Bone, four time US Intercollegiate Orienteering Champion, and former student of mine
  • "Can you learn how to use a compass at a Magnet school?" - Bob Shades, former co-worker
  • "How can you find the map store if you don't have a map?" - ibid.


  • "I think," said Christopher Robin, "that we ought to eat all our Provisions now, so that we shan't have so much to carry." - from Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole in Winne-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne


  • "This [Seattle] is the only place people come to be near mountains you can't see." - Michael Feldman, host of "Whad 'Ya Know" (from Jean Godden)
  • "Who's got the Bubbleator, and what have they done with it?" - Wilbur Hathaway, in his statement in the September, 1997, Seattle voters pamphlet.
  • "Living in Seattle is like going out with the most beautiful woman in the world... who always has a cold." - Art Buchwald (from Jean Godden)

    Professional Sports and their subsidized stadiums

  • "That place [the new baseball stadium] could be empty in September." - Jay Buhner, Mariner outfielder, Seattle Times, December 4, 1998, speaking about the team's management's apparent inability to field a winning team (and, in the fall of 1999, after the new stadium opened and the team continued to do poorly anyway, attendance was low)
  • "If they don't [find a general manager, get a better bullpen, sign Griffey and Rodriguez and Olerud], then by next September, when they've fallen out of contention again, those overpriced seats will be as empty as all of the past Mariner promises." - Steve Kelley, Seattle Times, October 20, 1999
  • "It doesn't matter how much money you make, it's where you're the happiest, and this is where I'll be the happiest." - Ken Griffey, Jr., Seattle Times, February 11, 2000, on being traded to Cincinnati (kinda shoots a big hole in the "we-need-a-bigger-stadium-to-keep-the-good-players" theory, now doesn't it?)
  • "It isn't the buildings [stadiums] that make a city Big League. It's the quality of the people in them." - Terry McDermott, Seattle Times staff columnist, writing about the quality of character of Seattle Reign players compared to the apparent lack of character elsewhere in professional sports, Seattle Times, December 12, 1996

    1999 WTO

  • "Just when we thought that 20-somethings didn't care about anything but reruns of "Friends", they turn Seattle into Tiananmen Square." - Mark Russel, December 2, 1999
  • "This is a place where, just a few yards from a police-protester standoff in the street, people waited for the light to change before stepping off the curb." - Nicole Brodeur, Seattle Times, December 2, 1999, writing about her observations during the WTO protests
  • "Someone's planning paid off. Too bad it was the anarchists who were organized." - Jenny Durkan, attorney, Seattle Times, December 7, 1999, writing about the "civil unrest" during the WTO conference and the apparent poor planning by the city of Seattle
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