No Fancy Name
Saturday, May 29, 2004
the vets
Today, the WWII Memorial was dedicated, in Washington DC. How the hell it took 60 years for these folks to get a monument, that's beyond me. "The greatest generation", these folks are called, and I sure won't argue with that. As a kid, I was always fascinated by the Army, and war. Not in some weird way, but in some reverential way. I completely understood the sense of honor and duty and patriotism, even as a kid. One of the only things I remember about my great-grandmother's house was the picture of my great-grandfather on the wall, as an old man, holding his silver star. He came to the United States from Italy, via Ellis Island, in 1916. He gained his citizenship by enlisting in the Army and going back to Europe to fight in WWI, whereupon he took out a German machine gun nest and thus was awarded his medal. My great-grandfather died a few months before I was born, but I'll bet he had some stories.

When I was in the third grade, most of the books I read were made-for-kids biographies of famous people. I must have read the Dwight D. Eisenhower biography tons of times, plus the books for MacArthur and Pershing. My absolute favorite books, for many years, were Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Guadalcanal Diary and John F. Kennedy and PT-109. I wanted to go to West Point, and be in the Army. Obviously, I didn't.

So, I watched the WWII Memorial dedication, and I cried (as I am apt to do at anything on TV). Both of my grandfathers were in the Navy during WWII, but I don't know a darn thing about where they were or what they did -- they both died when I was eight. I have a picture of my paternal grandfather, in his Navy uniform with his mother and two brothers (who were in their Army uniforms). I once saw another photo of him, giving a haircut to a buddy on a ship. It's a great picture. My other grandfather was also in the Navy. Various other granduncles were also in the military -- because that's what you did when your country called. My maternal grandfather's brother, my granduncle Walter, was the only direct family member who was actually killed in the war. He died on Nov 23, 1943 at Monte Cassino, as the allies were beginning the series of assaults that lasted through the next year. I thought about him, this fella I never knew, who probably looked a lot like the grandfather I don't remember.

In the news stories you read about WWII vets, the memorial, etc, there's a constant theme--that the vets don't talk about the war. Not surprising, as war doesn't tend to be full of happy memories that are meant to be shared. But think about the stories that these everymen have to tell, men that we're losing at a rate of 1,000 per day. This is evident in the obituary section of my hometown newspaper, which I read every day. If there are, say, five obits in one day, four of them are for WWII vets. These men -- and women -- in their 80s, have lines in the obits like "He served with the U.S. Army in WWII with Company A 1913 Engineer Battalion as a cook in the Philippine islands" and "He was a U.S. Air Force veteran, serving with the First Air Commandoes in India and Burma during WWII." These were guys from nowheresville, Pennsylvania, who went off to far-away lands at a young age, survived a war, came back to nowhere, and probably never went anywhere again. Luckily, the Library of Congress has been sponsoring a project for the last few years, where volunteers collect oral histories from the men who served in WWII. I'm glad for that.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
acceptable use policies
I was outraged this morning, and so confused that I didn't know what to do. I couldn't figure out if I was thinking like an old fuddy-duddy, or a legitimately concerned citizen. It was 8am, and the library had just opened for the day. I was killing time between my final exam and my tutoring session, so I figured I'd go to the library with my trusty laptop, and get some work done. Hooray for the free broadband. This library has plenty of computers on each floor, including the lobby area. Anyone with a library card can reserve time on a computer, to use Office programs or the Internet. I think that's wonderful.

As I was walking by the public computers, on my way to the elevators, there were several students checking their Hotmail accounts, IM-ing, etc. However, one computer was being used by a large, disheveled, older man, who was not checking his Hotmail account. Even from 15 feet away, while walking briskly past it, the 800x600 monitor produced the unmistakable image of a certain female...area. Splayed, even. I kept walking, undoubtedly with a very quizzical look on my face, and boarded the elevator. One other person was in the elevator, and we both had the same quizzical look. "Did you see that?" I said. "Was that...?" she said. "Oh yes," I said, and we both sort of shook our heads and went along our merry ways.

I probably wouldn't have been as outraged, had the computer not been directly beside the entrance to the children's room. I don't care what people view or do in the privacy of their own homes. I don't even mind that porn exists. I am, in fact, thrilled that this library doesn't have blocking software sitting in front of public Internet access, because we all know how well those things work. I guess I just didn't think anyone would actually sit in the middle of the public library and look at porn.

After I sat down and thought about it, I still just wanted to tattle on the person. "He's looking at porn in the library! Make him stop!" But then I thought, wait a minute, is this actually against the access rules? It's not, at least directly:

The Internet may contain material of a controversial or mature nature. The Library neither restricts access to materials found on the Internet nor protects users from materials or information they may find offensive. The Library encourages all users to make appropriate use of the Internet by providing programs and assistance for responsible use.

While surfing porn at a computer situated next to the children's room is certainly not my idea of acceptable use, who's to say what's acceptable? Am I just being an old fuddy-duddy, or does this instance of public internet usage seem pretty darn wrong?

the semester is finally over
I had my last exam this morning -- International Business. It was all multiple choice. I suck tremendously at multiple choice tests. I was always the person in school who voted for essay tests, when given a choice. I always lost. Anyway, school is now over for a few weeks. I am taking one class in each of the summer sessions: Origins of Life (fulfills an advanced GE requirement) and Fundamentals of Human Resource Management. The latter is an elective, and I elected it only because the trememndous budget cuts (which equates to classes being cut from the schedule) in the CSU system leave me little hope of being able to choose electives that I actually want to take. IOW, I'm in "grab whatever will fit into your schedule, as soon as you can" mode. The only positive thing about the HR class is that the instructor runs a very structured, professional-type class (so I've heard, and so I've read on his syllabus) so I will likely have a good experience.

This was a below-average semester for me, grade-wise. I'm sure I got one A, a bunch of Bs and probably two Cs, one of which being Phonetics, which was a fundamental class for a program I'm not even continuing (poor class times). Memorization is not my thing, and the classes I did poorly in are the classes in which I had to memorize, rather than synthesize. I can synthesize with the best of them, but I have the memory of a...well, something that has no memory. Sucks. Oh well -- onward and upward.

Monday, May 24, 2004
a good prank
This prank took some effort: Volcanologists spy pink 'dinosaur' on remote webcam. A Dino aficionado, obviously. That prank took some work!

i know there's a script, but....
I use the Post Office quite a bit. I usually have positive experiences at the post office, because I always have my items in the proper envelopes with the correct little forms all filled out and attached, and I've been going to the same ones for so long that all the workers know me. Now, if you've mailed anything at the post office in the last few years, you know that the employees are trained to ask if there's anything liquid, hazardous, fragile, perishable, etc in the package. You're also asked if you want any insurance, delivery confirmation, etc -- for every item. I usually walk up and put my neatly categorized and labeled items on the counter and say something like "these are all ready to go", at which time the worker says something like "great" and goes about their business of metering the items. Ninety-nine percent of the items I mail are in flat cardboard envelopes, or heavy parcels containing non-jiggly items (ie books).

Today was one of those instances...I had one flat-rate Priority Mail envelope, two cardboard photo mailer envelopes, and one padded envelope that clearly held a book and nothing else. So the woman takes my flat rate Priority Mail envelope and asks if there's anything liquid, hazardous, fragile, perishable, etc and of course I say no. I tried to make my "no" as annoyed/you're an idiot sounding as possible, without actually being rude, but I don't believe she caught on. As I was contemplating what could possible be liquid, hazardous, fragile and/or perishable and be the size of a comic book (as that's what was in the envelope), she asked how soon I'd like it to get there, and if I wanted it to go x, y, or z way. I mistakenly thought that she would realize that while she followed her little script, she could have followed that up with something like "priority, flat rate, ok" without me actually having to say anything. I looked at her, incredulously, then pointed at the clearly-marked "Flat Rate Priority Mail" envelope and said "Priority Mail". We then had to go through the whole "delivery confirmation? insurance? do you want them to sign for it?" thing ("no", "no" and "no") before moving on to the next to pieces, the photo mailers. "First class, please", I said. "Anything liquid, hazardous, fragile, perishable?" she says. Again with the looking at the thin cardboard envelope...."no," I say. "How would you like to mail it," she says. "First class," I say...again. Ok, last package...a book in a padded envelope. I said, "I'll have to see the price difference before I decide which way to send it", so she goes ahead and weighs it, shows me the difference between priority and parcel post and I say "ok, priority it is". Long silence, she's just staring at me. I say again, "Priority, then". Waiting...waiting....she looks at the item. "You want to mail this now?" "Uh, yes..." I said, again trying to sound really annoyed, yet not rude. She launches into "Anything liquid, hazardous, fragile, perishable?" Argh! "No...." "How soon would you like it to get there?" If I could have banged my head on the table without causing a scene, I would have. I swear, it was like a bad post office dream.

Sunday, May 23, 2004
finally made it to the gym
I kept telling myself for weeks, "you can go to the gym when you finish X"..."X" being a chapter, a paper, or something else important. To me, the gym is actually a reward. You certainly wouldn't think so by looking at me, but it really is. So, today I went to the gym, even though I have not finished the chapter due last Wednesday, nor have I finished (obviously) the two chapters due tomorrow. I'll probably get my book taken from me. That sucks, because I really, really, really need the money. I know I should say "that sucks, because I didn't finish what I started", but anyone who knows me knows that I hate writing books and only do it for the money. I only need the money because I make $30K less than my market value, to work in a place that affords me the luxury of being me, and working whatever hours I want, as long as I get the work done. Of course, that means to make up for the lack of money, I have to write books....which I hate doing. It's a horrible cycle that weighs on me every day. Yes, you're right...wah wah wah, get over it. Anyway, the gym is a reward kinda like how the diner is a reward (which is really funny, since one has to go to the gym to counteract the diner food). It's a place where for 45 minutes I can just chill...or sweat, in the case of the gym.

People-watching at the gym is hilarious. I don't people watch to look for cute boys or girls or anything like that...I'm actually fairly oblivious to both of those sets of people. I like to watch the old people, and the people who manage to wander around a gym for at the least the 45 mins I am there, without actually working out! I go to your standard 24-Hour Fitness Sport (aka gym with a pool and steam rooms), and usually go very very very early in the morning, to avoid crowds. The first day I worked out there, I saw this 70+year old man on the elliptical machine. He was on it the entire time I was there, while his similarly-aged wife was doing the Nautilus circuit. I do some time on the elliptical and then do the full-body Nautilus workout...on this particular day I followed this old lady from machine to machine, adjusting the weights when it was my turn. Adjusting the weights downward, that is. That little old lady could probably kick my ass. I've seen this couple doing the same workout each day I've been at the gym. I think that's wonderful.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are the non-workout people. These are the ones that walk on the treadmill at like 2 miles per hour for 30 minutes and think they're done. Now, if these people were very large and had never seen a treadmill before, I'd be saying "good job!" and cheering them on. But these treadmill walkers are always like 110 pounds. What's up with that? I'm a large person whose knees are a mess, and I'd have to try really really hard to walk that slow. I've never seen any of them sweat, and I've never seen any of them lift a weight. Whatever works, though...but I'd have a hard time justifying $40/mo when I could get the same amount of exercise that they're getting, by walking to the mailbox. Then there are the folks who sit on the Nautilus machines but don't actually do anything. I don't know if they're psyching themselves up for the triceps extensions (ok, bad example, because I have to psyche myself up for that one.) or what, but it's strange to see someone sitting on a machine and not lifting for a loooong period of time. When they do lift, it's like 5 reps. If they're on the next machine in the row, you have to be polite and wait a minute, then ask "uh, are you done?", which is always sort of embarrasing for them. I do my 4 sets of 12 and move on to the next machine, then they go back and do their 5 more reps. If they were doing a really excessive weight, and like 5 sets of 5, maybe that would be ok. But 5 reps, then wandering around, then 5 more reps..I mean really, what are these people there for? Maybe these people have a lot of time on their hands, I don't know. I'm the queen of the 45 minute full-body workouts...that's about my attention span. Good times.

Friday, May 21, 2004
two down, two to go
finals, that is. The two gnarly math-related ones (QBA and Finance) are now over. I know I got at least a C in both classes, which is fine, but I hate Cs and don't strive for them. Bs would be ok. As are out of the question for these classes. Two finals next week are Phonetics and International Business. Scared to death of the former (I still can't remember symbols to save my life), not concerned about the latter.

Thursday, May 20, 2004
the word of the day is...
kerfuffle, meaning to cause a commotion or fuss. Thanks, 19th century Scots.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
crappy students redux
I've written before about how I don't understand poor studentship, but yesterday was the last day of classes and something really annying happened. In my phonetics class, my phonetic buddy and myself both had agonized over our term projects, spent all weekend writing our papers, etc -- because they were due yesterday. In class, as it became time for the prof to go around the room collecting the papers, fully one third of the class didn't have them. Most of them said things like "I'll turn it in tomorrow", one person said "I'll turn it in on Friday" and so forth. It's not like the due date shifted around, it was always due on the last day of class, and we've all known for the same amount of time, what the term paper was about and so forth. I know life isn't fair, blah blah, but what's wrong with these people, that they couldn't turn their work in on time and the rest of us busted our tails to do it -- and there are no ramifications? Not a one. In a class when the prof berated a woman publicly for turning in loose-leaf pages of field research, instead of in a bound notebook per the requirements, she had no comment for the next person in the row, who didn't even have their paper finished! That isn't right.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004
today's sports outrage
I am a hardcore sports fan. I'm not so hard core as those Raider Nation folks who dress up and paint their faces, and I don't have the cash to go to games, but I care about sports and thoroughly read the sports page/ every day. From t-ball to indy cars to horse racing, if it's got people, animals or cars competing against one another, I'm all over it. I am also a girl, and I've heard that since I'm a girl and I like sports that I must automatically enjoy and support women's sports. That's a pet peeve I'll write about another day. I enjoy well-played sports...that means well-played women's sports and well-played men's sports, but NOT poorly-executed women's sports or poorly-executed men's sports. I'm an equal opportunity hater when it comes to that.

I'm all for equality. Title IX is a good thing. Women should have the same opportunities as men, etc. But my outrage of the day is this: Ashley McElhiney to Coach Nashville Rhythm. Ashley McElhiney is a woman. The Nashville Rhythm is a men's ABA (read "very minor league") team. If Ashley McElhiney came to the table with head coaching experience, assistant coaching experience, even rec-league manager experience, I wouldn't be so outraged. But Ashley McElhiney is a 22 year old former D1 point guard, with no coaching experience, let alone with men.

When something like this happens, a hiring that is obviously for publicity reasons, it does not help women further themselves in the coaching profession. I'm not anti-Ashley McElhiney, even though she went to an SEC school (Vandy) and I root for ACC and Big 12 schools. From what I recall, she was a very good point guard with exceptional leadership qualities, who made her teammates better. She also didn't make the WNBA team that drafted her (Indiana), but playing at a high level doesn't necessarily correlate to coaching at a high level (Lawrence Frank). Coaching experience correlates to coaching at a high level, and this woman doesn't have it.

The Nashville Rhythm is an expansion ABA team. No doubt this hiring was meant to generate interest in the new team, and I'm sure press coverage is going to be guaranteed for all of the Nashville Rhythm games, to see how the lady coach is doing. From a marketing standpoint, that's all well and good. As a sports fan, it actually makes me care less about the team, because it appears they didn't even try to get a qualified coach. Who are the players? Not a clue (note: tryouts haven't started yet), but I sure know the coach's name.

Sally Anthony, the owner of the team, said the following in the press release:
"I've said from day one that my goal was not only to put a competitive team on the floor, but to give qualified females opportunities they are not normally afforded," Anthony said. "Ultimately, I think the Nashville Rhythm, and the ABA as a whole, can be a stepping stone for a qualified woman to coach in the NBA. If women like Carly Fiorina can successfully lead companies like Hewlett Packard, I think it's pretty clear Cheryl Miller or Nancy Lieberman could have phenomenal success leading an NBA team."

Good for her, for wanting to "give qualified females opportunities they are not normally afforded". That's wonderful. But while it's her right to hire whomever she wants, her judgment seems to be a little off when it comes to defining "qualified". All she did by hiring McElhiney was set her up for failure, and set back what would probably be a very promising career down the line -- after she paid her coaching dues. Leading Hewlett-Packard was not Carly Fiorina's first job out of college...there were at least 20 years of work at AT&T and Lucent in between. Cheryl Miller and Nancy Lierberman, sure they could coach men somewhere -- because they have enormous experience with the game and respect of the players. McElhiney doesn't have that experience, and only time will tell if she earns the respect of her players. It's unfortunate that she didn't recognize that taking this job is a recipe for disaster. If she does well, through her own ability and the play of her team, I will be the first one to say "good on ya".

The more likely outcome is that she will fail, and it will give sportswriters/radio hosts an opening to say quite loudly "see?!? women shouldn't coach men". The real point is that no one, regardless of gender, should have jobs for which they are not qualified. If Anthony really wanted to hire a women to coach her team, I can think of a dozen or so women off the top of my head who would have been better hires. It's unfortunate that an opportunity to do something positive regarding women and sports will likely backfire. Could've picked better, Ms. Anthony.

last day of classes
today is the last day of classes! I hesitate to get too excited, because the last day of class is also just the first day of finals week(s)...and my finals are stretched out over many days. I believe that's supposed to be a good thing, but I'd rather have them all on one day and get them over with. This week is apparantly math week, as my QBA and Finance finals are on Thursday night and Friday morning, respectively. Next week is filled with the excitement of Phonetics and International Business. Thankfully, I scored well enough in the class so far, that I don't have to take my Organizational Management final...

Monday, May 17, 2004
i love diners
I was introduced to diner food at a very young age. In my hometown there's a truly greasy spoon diner called Red's, smack dab in the middle of nowhere, but on the only road between nowhere and somewhere. Good for truckers, also good for families after church, and everything in-between. I can still imagine the taste of their salad dressing, which I'm not exactly sure is a good thing. Chicken and waffles were a'plenty (note to all of you who have no idea what this is, just assume it's a really good thing), the coffee was suitably crappy, and the onion rings were spectacular -- the kind that would soak through the bag by the time you got home, if you had leftovers. One of my most vivid memories as a child was when we took some of the nuns from our church out to dinner, and a cockroach crawled onto the table. Since I was probably around 10 years old, it's quite possible that particular event never happened, and I am combining stories, but the point is, this particular diner made quite an impression on my as a child.

My dad drives a truck and is often on the road at various times of the night. I would go along with him when I was a kid, and we would go to Red's, and Stop 35, the Clark's Ferry trucker plaza and plenty of other places like that. Family lore has it that my parent's wedding night was spent with my dad working, my mom going along, and a gourmet meal at The Spot, some other diner-like place. It may even have been just a hot dog stand, I'm not sure. But the point is, love for cheap, greasy food came naturally to me. If it weren't for Waffle House, I never would have made it through college...but that's a story for another time.

California is sans Waffle House, but I found my own greasy spoon called Peanuts, which happens to be right next to campus. It opens at 630am, and the same group of people are always there, myself included. I get the cheese omelet special, which is a cheese omelet, a pile of potatoes, two pieces of toast and a coffee -- for 4 bucks. 4 bucks! In California! Those are non-California prices, which is one of the main reasons I like it so much. Plus, it's super good and a ton of food. Sometimes I branch out and get a mushroom omelet, or if I'm feeling really happy, a tomato/avocado/bacon omelet. Still under five bucks, and even more food. I don't understand how I can love both Peanuts and hip/cool/good restaurants like 7, but I manage quite well. Good stuff.

Sunday, May 16, 2004
I just wrote a paragraph in my term paper, regarding "interesting" observations concerning the interchangeable usage of the voiced alveolar trill and the voiced retroflex approximant in Yapese. It's not that interesting, but gosh darn it, I wrote about it! What a loooooong day. When I finish this paper, I will reward myself with some food, perhaps some coffee, and then will start back on my Plone book. Whee. (not)

Saturday, May 15, 2004
at the library
Following up on my aborted mission to the library last night...I came to the library this morning. It opens at 9am, and I was here promptly at 9am, along with about 60 other folks waiting to get it. You have to love it -- 60 people in line for the library, and only two were of the homeless-and-looking-for-a-place-to-crash variety. That's pretty cool. I am on the 8th floor (of 8 total) and I have a nice view of the downtown area and some hills (I don't know my hill names). When viewed from above, there's a surprising amount of greenery in the downtown area, which one doesn't see while driving through it.

microsoft is funny
I use Windows XP on my laptop, I admit it. But my servers run Linux, and a Microsoft CD will never come anywhere near a machine of great importance (like a server). I am not a Microsoft fan, but I don't think they're a complete and utter evil empire. They've done some crappy things and they should get what's coming to them, but "evil" isn't the right word to be throwing about given the current global climate. Anyway, there's a news article that I found particularly amusing. The gist of it is this: Microsoft is whining that their legal bill is too high, and consumers could suffer.

So, their legal bill is "too high" because they settled a lawsuit regarding overcharging customers for software. Here's a thought -- don't overcharge in the first place. What else? Oh, those pesky patent suits (which they lost) and some little anti-trust fine from the EU. Microsoft is blaming their legal costs for a 38% decrease in profits last quarter. Now, I only averaged a "B" in my accounting and finance related classes, but I do know that profits are not revenue. MSFT revenue decreased about 10%, and cost of revenue decreased about 55%, so that gross profit decreased less than 1%. Yes, there are plenty of other numbers to deal with, blah blah blah, but the point is, they still managed net income of 1.3 billion. What do you think they're most upset about: that they got caught and had to settle/were fined and had to pay out of their coffers, or that they realize they wouldn't have had nearly the same sort of revenue stream if they hadn't engaged in the practices that led them to the lawsuits in the first place? Hmm.

Friday, May 14, 2004
i was going to be a good student...
and go to the library tonight. Luckily, I looked up the hours first, and saw that it closes at six freaking o'clock. What the ?!? Is that normal for libraries, closing at 6pm on Fri-Sat-Sun? Hours are only extended for students during finals week (next week), when we're allowed to stay til midnight. Whoop de doo. I go to the library approx three times a week, to tutor or just generally to chill for a bit if I have time to kill between classes. But when I want to go and try to do some work outside of my comfy deal. Baseball on TV vs Yapese paper. Baseball wins, so remove temptation and go to the library, was my plan. Oh well, maybe tomorrow.

choice, choices...
This weekend, I have to decide between working on my slowly-progressing, way-below-page-count Plone book, or my your-grade-depends-on-this paper on Yapese Phonetics. I'm looking forward to a little league baseball game, which will provide me with a 2-hour block of time when I won't have to think about either!

Thursday, May 13, 2004
fun & games
For the last, oh, long while, I've been anti-fun and games links. Apparantly, there are people whose jobs are so dull, or require them to do so little, that they have the time to go find fun little links. They also have the time to e-mail these links to their friends. I would love to have that type of time on my hands. Although if I did, I'd probably be working on my Plone book, which currently sits at 68% completion. 68% ain't 100%.

Anyway, given the new trend in my life -- making an effort to enjoy things a bit more and actually make time for diversions -- I went all gangbusters last night when my buddy sent me some links. These are truly time-wasting links, as the user receives nothing in return -- except for relaxation. Really, these are like an online squeezy stress ball. For example, I was enthralled by Bubblewrap for a good 15 minutes. Then the links got a little more creative, and I played this little smacky game for a while. Good stuff.

This morning, I read a friend's blog...lo and behold, even more diversionary links. However, these fun and games links actually produced some output. First, there's this musicplasma thingamabob, which is essentially a graphical representation of related artists. Enter an artist, get a pretty picture back of similarly-themed artists. The closer or stronger the relationship, the the closer the proximity to the target artist, and so forth. This is not much different than what you get when you buy a CD at amazon (or other) and the "people who bought X also bought Y" (or similar), except that it's a purty picture. Just like the related links I get when I buy something, I disagreed with my musicplasma output for some artists. Primary example: like Indigo Girls, really do not like at all Melissa Etheridge. But the thing was right on for Patrick Park, and I did manage to break the thing in two tries because I know a lot of obscure artists. Put in Blue House and you get "Raffi", for example, because it matches the words but not in the correct context. The other cool diversionary link I gleaned was Mr Picassohead, providing the only canvas I could ever use to produce a decent piece of drawing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004
i am SUCH a sucker
I admit it. I read this news article in my daily business news update, then went and ordered around the subservient chicken. Subsequently, I felt compelled to buy some fries or something.

non-english programming languages
There's an entry at slashdot about non-english programming languages. The entry itself is short, it's just a question asking if there are any non-english programming languages, and if so, what do they do? The resulting threads are quite interesting, and unlike many slashdot user responses they are not filled with crap. There are some funny lines like "coding in another language doesn't mean replacing 'for' loops with 'pour'", because in fact that wouldn't be coding in another language, it would be coding with translated words. Coding in another language would be like writing prose in another language -- syntax would be fundamentally different. Of course, there's a wikipedia entry for this topic already, and has some interesting links if you're looking at it from a linguistic standpoint.

WHAT color is my brain??
Although another instance of something I picked up in someone else's blog, I do have my own ideas and interesting tidbits. In fact, I will follow this post with another post on a topic I found on my own. :)

Anyway, there's a little quiz called What Color is Your Brain?, that is yet another one of those personality-type quizzes that I'm oh so good the Myers-Briggs test. I took a MB test a very long time ago and have no recollection of my type, but I took a shorter version of it in my Organizational Management and Behavior class and turned out as an ISTJ. S?? I wanted the "N". If you're an INTJ, you're ultra special, as less than 1% of people are INTJ. Me? I have the freaking "S" stuck in there, me and 10% of the world. "Sensing". I couldn't sense my way out of a paper bag.

Back to this quiz. I ended up "gold" take a look at the little words in the "gold" graphic:

What Color is Your Brain?

brought to you by Quizilla

laugh much? I sure did. Ok, I agree with: punctual, caring, dependable, concrete, organized, prepared, thorough and concerned. But those other biggies are uh, debatable.

While quite interesting, I choose to use this as an example of just how horrible I am at taking tests.

Monday, May 10, 2004
google is grand
My friend at In Favor of Thinking posed the question "Is there a word used to specifically describe the hopelessly addictive activity of looking up former acquaintances on Google?", to which I have no answer but I turned to my favorite source for words (and cheaper than the OED) -- the Jargon File.

Unfortunately, there are only three Google-related words: google, google juice and kilogoogle. I had such high hopes for finding an answer to my friend's question...perhaps some ultra cool word like faradize, but that's already taken. It'll just be a matter of time before someone smart comes up with a good term, but I'm not that person.

But I will talk about Google for a moment -- that's one of only three companies where I'd ever seek employment, Yahoo! and eBay being the others (ok, for this one brief moment I like living in Silicon Valley). Things I like about Google include (but are not limited to) their technology, their business model and their IPO plan, but most important of all -- I really enjoy their holiday logos, especially the really smart ones like the Chinese New Year variations, Escher's birthday, Michelangelo's birthday, etc. I thought to myself "must be nice to have a whole team of artists thinking these things up" but turns out it's just one really creative young guy. Good on him.

I did a usability study at Google recently, and got some nice goodies. The really cool thing at Google is that each building's lobby has a flat screen hanging from the ceiling, displaying real-time searches happening on Google right that very minute. Sometimes I think about that just before I type something stupid in the search box....

Sunday, May 09, 2004
coming to terms with my own mediocrity
I was not born to be mediocre. Scratch that, I was born to be mediocre -- in a pit of a town with average folk for family -- but I managed to get out and go to school and do a few non-mediocre things. I was pointed in a non-mediocre direction. But when life was left up to me, I just sort of lived it. I made a ton of bad decisions. I made friends with the wrong people. I gave up the best friend I had for a piece of trash who was a liar and a cheat. Aforementioned best friend let me come back.

So I got a second chance to be good, to do good things, to give back to them something useful. I figured I'd go to school and learn stuff that would be relevant for us, or at the very least put myself in a position to meet people and make a positive impression. Along the way, I lost that goal and thought I'd use school to do something for myself -- take a different track, get a different degree, go off and work in another field. I'm a little slow, so it's taken me awhile to realize that these extra things for myself are the ones that take the most out of my day -- the day I'm supposed to spend working.

When time for these extra classes comes around, if I am working and cannot leave, I don't leave. I realize it's not good to miss class and I certainly have a fair amount of guilt about it because I do not like being disrespectful to the instructors. But my work comes first. One day, I was sitting around with some classmates and we were discussing how we were doing in the class. As were were discussing the pedagogical stylings of a particular instructor, I told them that I thought her biggest problem was that she is too good for us. The instructor expects a certain level of dedication to the class, and responsibility by the student to hold up their end of the bargain. This is an entirely fair and proper assumption to have, but I can't meet these expectations.

I was wandering through blogland, reading the blogs of the academics working in fields that interest me. I want to have written the essays and books they've written. I know I have the intellect, but don't have is the time or the purpose. I am a mediocre student. The closest I'll get to Stanford is driving by on the way to the mall. I'll finish up the classes in my major, do an MBA at this medicore school, and be done with it.

I'm never going to do anything great, but I'll meet my responsibilities and stay where I am...enough of this thinking I'm meant to go elsewhere and do good. So the answer to the question "is this all there is?" is "uh, yeah"...and I think I'm ok with that.

Saturday, May 08, 2004
why today rocks
My buddy is going home from the hospital today. We could have an earthquake, I could wreck my car, the bank(s) could foreclose on my condo and I could lose my job, and I would still be happy as a clam. Welcome back to the world, pal, as we all bid a fond farewell to your appendix and the relevant part of your sacrificial small intestine.

Friday, May 07, 2004
I guess I'm where I'm s'posed to be
Anyone who knows me knows that I hate living in California. I am an East Coast girl, period. Given a choice, I'd be living in NoVA/DC. I like my historical sites to be more than a hundred years old. I like rolling green hills and weather. For many reasons, some good some not, I can't leave California. So, just for kicks, I went to Sperling's Best Places and went through the wizard that asks you lots of questions in order to determine one's own personal "best places to live" list. My "Best Place"? San Freaking Francisco. That's about 2800 miles in the wrong direction. NoVA/DC was fifth, behind Boston (nothing wrong with Boston), Long Island (??) and Los Angeles (ick to the power of infinity). The most surprising was 10th - Pittsburgh. Never would have guessed that, although that's where my Italian immigrant g-g-grandparents all went after Ellis Island, so who knows. Where I actually live...that was 15th on the list. A hell of a lot higher than I thought, but it probably won points for "proximity to libraries" and "proximity to coastline".

Thursday, May 06, 2004
my new favorite comic strip
is slowpoke. I don't get out much...apparantly people have been enjoying this comic for several years. Fuuuuuuuny, funny stuff. yay for the lady artist. I plan to buy this book.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004
the highlight of my week so far
This has been a crappy, crappy week for my friends and myself, as one of our gang is spending some time in hospital-land in excruciating pain. Not cool. So, I want to thank the creator of Robot Love for producing such a magnificent piece of legal pad movie-ness. I then embarked on some blog-wandering and found Once More With Hobbits -- which I cannot believe my Buffy-liking buddy hadn't mentioned before -- and THIS thing is so creative it's almost scary. Almost makes it ok that it's technically fanfic, which I despise as a rule. I think the rule is there because 99.9% of it is pathetic and sad AND bad writing. But OMWH is just ... there are no words. It's good. Of course, Buffy knowledge and memorization of the lyrics to the musical are required. :)

Tuesday, May 04, 2004
classroom musings
I am sitting in one of my "good" classes right now...the 30 or 45 minutes I have before class to just chill are probably the only 30 or 45 minutes of that I'll have in this day. Forced relaxation is a good thing.

It's amazing that I like this class so much, because not only is it a requirement (required classes are almost always a drag), it's topic is something I am absolutely terrible at practicing: organizational management and behavior. See, I am perhaps the worst employee ever when it comes to working in a corporate setting. Luckily, I no longer work in such a setting. Instead, I have a wonderfully unique job atmosphere which is sort of the antithesis of corporate America but with the same result (good paycheck, good benefits). In fact, it was sort of a joke with my workmates, when the first mid-term rolled around in this class...we all figured if it was a test of the practical applications of organizational management, that I would fail it miserably and be sent to remedial management school. Luckily, it was mostly multiple choice, with an essay thrown in for good measure. :)

This class is probably one of the most important/relevant classes I'll take in this major (Management), and its content is something that everyone in the class should take to heart and try to apply and/or recognize. After all, these people (think they) are going to be managers one day. Unfortunately, the class seems to be filled with some of the poorer students I've been around. About half of the class scores below average or fails the exams. They're difficult exams, but not so difficult that B+s and As aren't achievable (hell, I've gotten them!) with a little bit of effort. I was very proud of the little frat boy normal guy next to me who bombed the first exam terribly but sucked it up, studied a better way and got a B on the next exam. That's the kind of person you'd want to hire -- the kind that shows effort and the ability to adjust. However, I fear that the the ones who will actually get are the loud, boisterous, obnoxious boys who complain that the test takes too long (because they have no time management skills) and is too hard (because apparantly they don't pay attention and/or study).

Had another disheartening experience the other day, in my International Business class. We have a group project to do, and we've been in our groups and had our topic and roles within the group delineated since the semester began. I nominated myself as the point person/PPT presentation maker, because I figured if my grade depends on 4 other people, I want to do as much as I can to make us look good. Over the sememster we've met a few times and I created a written outline of our discussions; everyone knew what they had to do. We all agreed that the group members would turn in their outlines (or something remotely close to text that I could turn into a PPT slide) last weekend. I got one document, the majority of which was a paragraph lifted from a web site and unattributed, of course. I also received several documents which were articles on the topic. Two people didn't send me a thing. Since there's no way in hell I'm doing their work for them, I had to be the bad guy and try to explain to them that they had to actually think about content on their own and provide me with bullet points to use on slides. They looked at me like I was from Mars. This is an upper-level class!

Then again, I shouldn't have been all that surprised...when I suggested we all meet in the library (a brand spanking new, $100M+ joint venture between the university and the city) they all said "where is it?" WHERE IS IT? It's the freaking library. It's huge and shiny's the library.

Monday, May 03, 2004
is it wrong to be in love with a drink?
Because I am. Bolthouse Farms' Perfectly Protein (Vanilla Chai Tea with Soy Protein) drink. It's spectacular. Makes me want to try all their other drinks. I have to admit that I was swayed by the packaging. It comes in a well-shaped plastic bottle with a well-designed label. I HATE when I'm a sucker for marketing. But it's good stuff....find it at your local Whole Foods Market or other similar-type grocery store.

play nice with others
I am currently writing a book on a pretty cool little software application called Plone. Plone is an add-on to the Zope application server, that basically provides the framework for the creation of a content-based portal. That's a terrible summation of Plone, but this blog entry isn't about Plone, it's about wikis. One of the chapters in this book is about other add-ons to enhance your Plone site, the wiki being one of them.

Basically (not exaggerating - it's basic!), a wiki is a collection of pages in a Web site that can be modified by anyone. The Web sites that come out of Wiki-dom are primarily text-based, as wikis are designed as ways to communicate and not ways to impress people with graphical ingenuity and style. A wiki is somewhat like a discussion board, except there is no forum/topic/post hierarchy. A wiki is somewhat like a blog, except one that anyone can use, edit or add pages to. So really, it's not at all like a discussion board or a blog.

You can see where this gets's sort of like a couple of different things, but yet nothing like either of them, and if you've been around the Internet for any amount of time the first question that comes to mind should be something like "couldn't anyone just deface it, or even erase it completely?" There's a simple list of Wiki Social Norms that includes such concepts as "don't misrepresent others' work as your own" and "don't delete things that don't belong to you" and "make the world a better place" and so forth. In other words, act like a good member of a community. I also like the Welcome to Wiki, Please Be Polite page.

So again, how does this work? In what magical part of the Internet do wikis live, where people do follow rules and they're polite and it's a nice place to be? Maybe wikis are caught in some temporal anomaly where it's 1993 all over again and the generation of skript kiddies hadn't been born, or the release of software with 80,000 documented bugs and security holes hadn't been dreamed up yet. Either which way, I'm fascinated by wikis. I have nothing of interest to say in any of them that I've found, but there's an entry in the WikiWikiWebFaq that is still my number one question: "What stops any old idiot from wandering by and erasing or defacing all of your entries?"

I think it's wonderful, heartening and all those other good adjectives, that the answer is really "they just don't". Actually, it's longer....see WhyWikiWorks...but still, if one little part of the internet contains nice, respecful people, can't that grow just a little? Please?

Saturday, May 01, 2004
horrible students and the question of "why?"
A few years ago I decided to go back to school and learn some things I didn't know; not because I needed to jump up in a pay scale or get a better job, but because I had a bunch of time to kill and some burning questions on a few subjects. In California, we have a decent community college system, which means cheap classes. So, I started at that level just to get back in the swing of things. I hadn't been to school since I graduated from a teeny college in Virginia in '92 and wanted to ensure that school just wasn't a passing fancy. I took seven classes at community college, over two semesters, and it was well worth the $500. Five hundred bucks wouldn't have bought me a week's worth of tuition at my original undergrad institution, but lest you think I received $500 of crappy instructors, I didn't. At least the instructors I encountered at West Valley College were pretty darn good, and I have a pretty high standard when it comes to those sorts of things. The problem was the students.

The first class I took, during my first semester back in school, was Finite Math. I have a degree in English. I hate math (I thought I did, anyway). I made it through college the first time and only took one math class in four years. Needless to say, I came to class, paid attention and did my homework. Seemed reasonable, since homework was collected and was 20% of your grade. Next to me sat a boy just out of high school. He never did his homework. He was smart and got As on all the exams. But he gave away 20% just because he didn't feel like doing his homework. I asked him why, and he said "it doesn't matter, I only need to get a C- to get credit." While true, I fundamentally couldn't understand his answer. (Maybe the concept of a permanent record means a lot more to me because my C- in Modern Poetry pretty much nixed my GPA enough to toss me in the lower echelon of graduate schools way back when.) Then I realized that the only people doing homework in that class -- and in my other math class, and my economics class, and my political science class, etc. -- were students who clearly wanted to be able to pick which Univ of Cal or Cal State school they wanted to attend, rather than having their grades decide it for them, or they were older students such as myself who were attending school because we wanted to be there, and didn't want to throw the money out the window even if it was just 49 bucks.

I figured my experiences with lazy students was just something that came with the territory at community college. Then I finished all my general ed requirements and transferred to the local university, in the business department. This school has a good reputation for its business school, both undergrad and graduate. Not bad for having to compete with graduates of the other major schools in the area, little insignificant schools called Stanford and Cal. :) At this school, I have seen more cheating and plagiarism than at any school I've ever attended. I also have significantly worse instructors; I've had maybe four outstanding instructors out of fifteen, with a few being so completely horrible that I...well, I have no words for how horrible they are. Perhaps the two are related, but I've seen people cheat on tests and quizzes in the classrooms of the good professors. It's just that students cheat AND plagiarise in the really bad instructors' classes.

Beyond the cheating and the plagiarising, I am surrounded by really bad students. In classes of 60 or 80, it's easy to pick out the 10 people who really want to be there. We're usually all there early, and talk about how terrible the other students are, and how we just don't understand how it could be that way. These discussions, and the entry at In Favor of Thinking, prompted me to get all incensed in written form (this). The fundamental question is "why?" Why do people think it's ok to cheat, or plagiarize?

The aforementioned blogster and myself, we both went to schools with honor codes (although she went to a significantly better school than I did!) that meant something. You cheat, you're out. At both of our schools, you could take your final exam in a class anywhere and anytime you wanted. I took many exams in my school's library, surrounded by books that would have made the answers to essay questions a hell of a lot better. I remember take-home essay exams when the professor would tell us "this is not open book" and I wouldn't dare open a book. Not only did I care what the professor thought of me, academically and ethically, I had no interest in a fake A. I would much rather have a hard-fought B than a fake A.

I was having this same discussion with a few people from a class the other day -- a definite cross-section of students at this school. There's me, another person sort of like me in that we're the same age, already have degrees in English, and went to small schools in the east, a woman in her 40s who is in school for the first time, and a typical 20-year-old junior. The 40-year-old reetry student didn't seem to be as incensed as myself and the other person sort of like me, but did say that cheating and plagiarising was a bad thing and she'd never done it. The typical student said that she's never cheated but knows tons of people who have, and she's written other people's papers for them. She didn't seem to think it was right or wrong, just "the way things are" and that if we thought it was bad now, wait four more years for the current crop of high school students to come to campus.

As if on cue, Primetime Thursday aired a whole hour on just this topic. They interviewed high school students, teachers and the guy that built Turn it In. The common response from the students was "we have too many things to do so it's ok for us to use someone else's work" or "we have to get good grades to get in to good schools, so we have to use someone else's work". So let me get this straight -- you have no time management skills, so you have to cheat. Ever think of, oh I don't know, learning something about time management? You're high school students. Going to high school and learning should be your number one priority. Athletics, jobs and so forth are very important for various reasons, but they should be number two priorities. Learn a little about time management and you can actually accomplish all your goals--plenty of other kids your age do. The argument having to cheat so that they can get into a good school, well, I can't get over that one. Hey dumbass, the schools are "good" because they are academically rigorous and honor-bound. Think you'll last, even if you can cheat your way past the admissions office? Didn't think so.

I haven't even started on about the "real world". My B-school compatriots, they'll soon learn that Finance degree + cheating = Enron. Not cool. Software piracy, copyright infringment, so on and so forth -- yes, there's a connection between technology (which I love, and work with every day) and this new phenomenon where ethics are uncool. But there's also an even more interesting area where technology has made ethics an even cooler trait to have, which I'll write about some other day.

get your archive on...
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job / books / new blog

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