No Fancy Name
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
things that skitter in the night
Admittedly, none of the creatures in my story actually skitter, but I like the word. Rana [Frogs and Ravens] posted about Creepy Crawlies, or "various invertebrates that have creeped me out over the course of my life." Boy, she sure has a list, from ants to earwigs to leeches. If you know me, you know this little fact: I hate spiders. I can deal with fleas, flies, mammoth horseflies, worms, moths, whatever. But not spiders...and I have two damn good reasons...

One day, when I was little, maybe...eight? ten? (mom or dad, feel free to tell me how old I really was, because I'm guessing) I was with my mom in our basement. Now, this was a finished basement, in that it had wonderfully hideous orange patterned carpet and wood paneling, a orange laminate bar, and pool/pingpong/air hockey tables. We lived in the middle of the woods, and it was always damp, musty and had its fair share of bugs. One day this big ol' spider walks across the floor. Little spiders, I can handle. Really, I can. But as soon as they start getting squishy and what not, I leave it to someone else to squish. Anyway, I jumped up on the ping pong table and wouldn't come down until someone took care of it (note: I have no issues with mice. Go figure.) and that person was my mom. She smacked the hell out of it with her Dr. Scholl's...and a thousand baby spiders skittered across the basement floor. Mama spider was dead, but karma sent us a thousand little ones in her place.

But that's not all. We also had a swimming pool in the backyard, and it collected a lot of bugs. In fact, if there were visible bugs on the bottom, I wouldn't go in, such was my dislike of bugs. If there was a dead rodent in the skimmer (which happened frequently), no problem, just toss it in the woods. But bugs, not my favorite. One day, I was hanging on the rope that separated the 3' area from the "deep end", and a big ol' spider came trotting along the rope. My mom got up and smacked it. You think she'd have learned her lesson, but no....and a thousand baby spiders floated on top of the water, toward me.

I don't like spiders.

on wikipedia
There's been a big ol' kerfuffle recently about the "validity" of wikipedia. Let it be known that I love wikipedia. I use it all the time, and there's a link to it over yonder in the sidebar. Never has it even crossed my mind, that wikipedia was unreliable or in any way an invalid source of information.

But the other day, in the Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, appeared an article by one Al Fasoldt: "Librarian: Don't use Wikipedia as source. Read it for yourself, if you're interested, but the main idea is that "Wikipedia is a do-it-yourself encyclopedia, without any credentials" and therefore, it goes on, it's A Bad Thing. A good summary is found at BoingBoing.

As you can imagine, there's been much discussion—all of which I find terribly fascinating. One of the naysayers' issues is an inability to understand how "a site written entirely by its readers—and where every page can be edited by anyone—could meet any kind of 'standards' of accuracy and reliablity." [Dan Gillmor] Because, you know, journalists are so very standards-driven, accurate and reliable...and today my little spaceship touched down from my trip back home to Mars. Also from Dan's site is a link to a deconstruction of the debate by Ross Mayfield. Other links of interest are a Slashdot Q&A with Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, and an experiment by Alex Halavais to see just how well the whole editing process works.

This all goes back to Why Wiki Works: "Everybody feels that they have a sense of responsibility because anybody can contribute." It's such a simple concept, responsibility. Seems to me that when people question the validity of something that essentially runs on personal ethics, they may be a little lacking in that category themselves. Can't understand what you don't have, right?

Monday, August 30, 2004
a funny thing happened on the way to now
Between Friday and this afternoon, I got a lot of work done. All of it, in fact. Every damn bit of it. I am now on schedule with regards to work, writing and classes. I even took the time to do some silly things like I went to donate blood (but had low iron and had to reschedule), I cleaned the fishtank, checked out the new Wal-Mart, and horror of horrors, I read a book. A whole book! Not even for school!

But let's back up. Not one bit of this euphoric feeling would be possible if it weren't for my boss leaving me alone on Friday...I don't think it was purposeful (I think maybe we just didn't have anything specific to do) but if it was (and you're reading this), I am grateful. So I fixed up a few chapters for the PMA AiO 2e book, turned in one of my two remaining lessons for the class I'm developing, and asked my boss what the plan was for the weekend (the typical plan for the weekend consists of having a bunch of stuff to get done before Monday's deluge). I was shocked to discover there was no plan. No plan? Could it be....I could do my own stuff? I had high hopes, then I took a nap.

The thing is, I don't really sleep. I have a bedroom with a bed in it, but I'm never in there. I think that bed's been slept on maybe 10 times since I bought it three or four years ago. I sleep on the couch. It's a nice, cushy couch. But I don't really sleep. I doze, often with the TV on, then I just get up and start my day at 2am or 4am or whenever I'm bored enough with dozing. My mom says I wasn't always like this, she says she used to never be able to wake me up in the morning. I don't remember that, I just remember college and life after, and just not sleeping. You can get a lot done when the rest of the world is still sleeping.

Anyway, I didn't do a lot of dozing these last few days. I just worked...and worked and worked and worked. It was very strange, because I didn't even have the TV on, or even music. Just the fishtank (it's sort of like a waterfall sound) and the artificial pond, the ducks, and a really annoying, territorial squirrel who likes to sit the tree outside my door and chitter his little heart out. I had a plan: Saturday = schoolwork, Sunday = writing work.

Saturday was also blood donation day, but my iron was two-tenths below the cutoff so I had to reschedule for next Saturday. So I came home, and sat down with my very exciting textbook for my Business Systems and Policy class, read my chapter and wrote my reading notes. Then I sat down with my Organizational Change and Design textbook, read my chapter and wrote my reading notes. I was on a roll! Next on the list was Philosophy of Science, which consisted of reading a few essays, some stuff in the text, and then participating in discussion via WebCT. I will write a separate post about this, because the utilization of WebCT is fascinating. But moving on...

I felt that I deserved a reward for all this work, so I started to read Middlesex (plus, it was due back to the library in two days and there were 12 people on the waiting list, so I had to read it or give it back and get on the waiting list again). I read the first 136 pages and I did not want to put it down. Set the backstory in Italy, make the siblings first cousins, and you'd have my great-grandparents. Two sets of them in fact (that's a story for another time). So, now I was obsessed with finishing the book, but I still had Sunday's work to do.

I made myself a deal: finish a chapter, read 50 pages. I had several chapters to edit, so this worked out. It also worked well with my short attention span. So, on Sunday I finished the edits that were due, and half of my final lesson. It was getting late, nothing was on TV, but I needed to clear my mind. So I finished the book. Boy howdy, was that ever a good book. I honestly don't remember a time that I laughed out loud in a piece of fiction. Not only did I laugh out loud several times while reading it, I cried real tears in several places as well. What can I say, I'm an emotional girl.

Anyway, with that out of my system, I went back to my writing. I finished my final lesson and submitted it for testing and editing. I turned in all the chapters that were due. I AR'd the first batch that had come back to me. My schoolwork is done for M/T/W...and I only have eight more chapters to update and edit, for Wednesday. Oh yeah, I have thirteen chapters of Bleak House to read for Thu night, but even that isn't dulling the high right now.

Sunday, August 29, 2004
my thoughts on gmail
After my initial period of furrowed-brow when using my new GMail account, I've settled on only two really problematic things....inability to sort, and inability to have multi-level labels. Before I talk about them, let it be known that I don't use GMail for my "work" mail, just my non-work/school mail. There's really no difference in the volume, though, but the content is different, less categorized. I absolutely could not use GMail for my work mail, with the problem areas I stated above.

The inability to sort is really annoying, because the default sort order (recent mail at the top) is not the way I sort my mail. I'm a recent-mail-last person, because to me, mail is a "to-do" list, and I when I look at my list, I want to know which is the oldest. Of course I can make the one extra leap and say to myself "Oh but remember, things on the bottom are the oldest", but why should I? Why should I have to change when any other e-mail client will allow me to sort my mail by any of the main criteria (subject, sender, date)? Taking away such a feature, regardless of whatever else you add, is still taking away a feature, and a fairly basic one, in my opinion.

The labels are another issue. Labels are supposed to replace folders. Gmail describes "the old way" as "You create an elaborate filing system of folders and subfolders, then decide where to file a single message." Uh yeah, I do. A LOT. What's wrong with that? I am a very organized person. Can I be the same organized person using labels? No, because there's no concept of sub-labels. You can attribute multiple labels to a mail/discussion, and "that way, if a conversation covers more than one topic, you can retrieve it with any of the labels that you've applied to it. And, of course, you can always search for it." So, instead of allowing me to file things however I want, into a natural hierarchy of folders, I have to apply one or more labels to it, so it shows up in more places, so much so that if I lose it, I can search for it? Why can't I just put it where I want?

Being the good little beta tester that I am, I filled out the suggestion form. Several items are already listed, allowing you to "vote" on them. This would indicate, to me, that some things have already made it to an internal list of possibilities. One is "Sort by sender, date, and/or message size" and I absolutely checked that box! There were maybe 20 others, and only one, "Save drafts of my message" was something else I voted for. Any of the other 18, if they were present in the application, that would have been fine, but their lack of presence doesn't affect me as dramatically (or at all) like these other things. But hierarchical labels was not listed, so I wrote my own schpiel about it. I used the analogy of school and classes: I have mail that is general school stuff, then I have mail that is class-specific. Sure, I can have six labels for my classes this semester, plus the main school label, but then next semester I'll have five or six more...that's upwards of twelve labels that I have to look at in my list of labels, that I also can't order (leading me to have to name things with a prefix that will put them in the order I want them to be in). If I could assign all twelve of those sub-labels as children of the school label, and parent/children pairs were collapsible, all I'd have to look at/look in would be the school label, and I could open it and look at the others. If GMail is supposed to increase efficiency, tell me why that is less efficient than being faced with a non-controlled (by me) order of items, that are all in one big list, that I may or may not, then, have to use "search" to find?

On to other things...I don't particularly care that the whole thing is JavaScript. It's not fundamentally a good thing to build an application that one can potentially turn off, or have turned off for them by security settings. But, if you're going to use it, and you know ahead of time that's a requirement, you can make the informed choice. They are working on an HTML-based version, though, and I would be more comfortable with that from a standards point of view. I haven't had any issues with it in Firefox, so it doesn't bother me, really.

I do like the threaded/grouping/relation of messages; the display is cool. I like the immediate visibility/hidden aspects of all mails in a thread, and the fact that I don't have to do anything extra to make it so. That is very cool, but not cool enough to forgive the other issues. Also, there's the "all mail" feature, which is "the holding place for all of the messages you've sent or received, but not deleted". It would be cool, but only if I could sort it, which I can't. It's sorted by date, recent-first, like all folders/boxes/slots/whatever they're called. Sure, I've labeled my non-deleted mail, but what good does it do me if it's still a reverse-date-based list? If I want to find something, I have to use "search", instead of relying on my usual pre-sorted/just scan the list method. Sure, I can scan the list as it is, but it's not brain focuses on the unordered aspect of it and thus has to spend more time reading it than I would if I were looking down an ordered list.

I have no problem with A New Way of handling mail. It's just that when you start removing some of the features of mail that we've been used to for oh, 15 years or whatever, it's going to be a hard sell to anyone beyond the early adopters. The concept of e-mail is hard enough for people to grasp (and many still don't), now we're going to stop calling it "mail" and start calling it "a discussion"? It's not a discussion—if a band sends me their tour schedule, that's not a discussion, it's a single piece of mail. I won't be discussing it with them. But I will dutifully label-and-archive the item. Which is another thing...why do I have to perform the mouse task to label something, then perform the mouse task to "archive" the piece? So, label + archive = "put in folder". I just want to put the darn thing in a different slot, I don't want to have to do more steps than usual!

I love Google, I mean really, I use Google Search every day, and this blog is obviously Blogger-based, so I'm totally open to Google stealing me away from Yahoo!, which has been my portal/non-work e-mail for six years now. But there's work to do, if they want complete loyalty from me.

Thursday, August 26, 2004
dang, that didn't take long!
I have 6 GMail invites, if anyone wants one...

I admit, the thing is growing on me. More later.

UPDATE: invites countdown kept in sidebar, 'til I run out.

a slight, irrational fear
It's t-21 minutes until my Victorian class. I'm dreadfully afraid that I'm going to be "that" person in the class. You know, the oldest one, who has returned to school and wants to be all smart...because they've taken this same type of class a billion (12) years ago and want to make sure everyone knows it.

Oh wait, I can't be that person: I don't talk in class, unless I'm absolutely sure it's relevant (if not "right"). I sit in the back. I try not to be noticed. I would rather people not know that I read these books already, because then I'd be held to a higher standard. That leaves the "oldest" part. I doubt it, I'm only 30 and I only have two grey hairs. There's bound to be another "that" person....otherwise I'll be "that" by default. Oh no!

Ok, irrational fear is over. I'm not a dumbass. People never know I'm 30. This is my 5th semester back in school. I'm not some newbie Open University person trying be hip...I'm hip all on my own! Ok, that last part was crap. :)

light at the end of the tunnel
Despite school having started last night, and the fact that I also do have a real job, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with regards to writing chapters and lessons. I only have one lesson remaining, and 12 chapters to go run through and send over. Then I'll be done with the tremendous list of things all due at once, until...Monday! That's good, because I will be giving blood on Saturday morning, thus rendering me knocked on my butt for the rest of that day.

so, this gmail thing...
Thanks to kmsqrd, I have a gmail account now. I will write more later about it...I have some definite opinions, but I have to take a step back and read more from Google about why they've developed this, and the fundamental problem they're trying to solve with the product. I wouldn't want to write about something, having completely missed the point of it, so I had better get the point first! One thing that is very cool is the GMail Notifier extension for Firefox. Good stuff! Very well done.

I'm sure I'll burn in hell for this, but...
A new Wal-Mart opened in my neighborhood, yesterday, and I'm happy about it. I know there are reasons I should hate Wal-Mart, related to their employment/hiring practices, etc, but I look at it this way: they just brought a ton of jobs to my crappy East San Jose community, which desperately needs them.

This particular Wal-Mart is not a superstore. Even if it were a superstore, I doubt it would affect the SaveMart across the street, or the huge Vietnamese grocery at the end of the block. It won't affect the other twenty or so businesses around it: nail salons, Vietnamese & Mexican restaurants, a taco bell, a togo's, a blockbuster, etc...there's room for all of them. So, that argument against it goes out the window. The other three Wal-Marts in the area, each within a 20 minute drive, are always are the businesses around them. So, the argument about Wal-Mart hurting local businesses doesn't fly, at least not in my neck of the woods.

The employment/hiring practices—their issues with discrimination, not being unionized, things like that, sure, that's not good. But they do pay their workers the "Bay Area"'s not like the folks out here get paid the same as the Wal-Mart workers in my central-PA hometown. That would completely suck for them. But like I said, there are probably hundreds of people that have jobs today that didn't have jobs yesterday, or lost their jobs when the SuperKmart (which was what this building was before Wal-Mart stepped in) closed a couple of years ago. Jobs are a good thing.

So, at the same time that I'm thrilled there's a Wal-Mart a mile from my house, I'm similarly thrilled that I found Bluefly, where I can get Calvin Klein/Diesel/Lucky Brand (and more!) shirts and pants for ridiculously low prices. $17 Lucky cargo pants? I'm all over that.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
my dad complained...
He said I was writing about stuff so over his head that he couldn't comment on it anymore. I pointed out that I wasn't really writing about anything at the moment, at least nothing remotely intellectual, just trying to get a bunch of work done especially since school starts tonight. But just to appease him, I'll take a moment and talk about food. I like food. He likes food. We're a very food-oriented family.

Right now, I'm making Chicken Chili Verde. I brought some home from Whole Foods the other day and it was good, so I looked in my handy Whole Foods Market Cookbook and of course it wasn't in there. That would have been too easy. So, I looked around and found a recipe that had things in it that I liked...and it's simmering right now. So far, it smells really good, and rice is cooking too....mmm!

Here's the recipe:
1 dry chipotle chile
1 tsp dry oregano (sub: 1 healthy shake or 2)
8 skinned/boned chicken thighs (sub: a few cut up chicken breasts)
1 4oz can diced green chilis
1 can chicken broth
1/2 c cilantro (sub: more cilantro!)
1 tsp ground cumin (sub: a couple healthy shakes)
2 tbsp lime juice (sub: however much juice 2 limes makes)
1 lb tomatillos, quartered (sub: a bunch. I grabbed, didn't weigh)
3 cloves garlic (sub: more garlic!)
1 onion, chopped

throw everything into a saucepan, bring to boil. simmer for 40 mins. eat.

As you can tell, I'm not very Martha Stewart. I'm all about the eyeball and the sampling. That's probably why I don't make a lot of food for other people to eat. :)


Tuesday, August 24, 2004
oh FUUUNY, funny stuff
I love a good cartoon. Mr. Otto in "Olympics" is one such cartoon. (By Bruno Bozzetto & Roberto Frattini) I laughed. A lot.

[via Frogs and Ravens]

"don't worry, browse happy"
Check out the new site from the Web Standards Project, re: the whys and whatfors of using certain (*cough* *cough* not IE *cough* *cough*) browsers.


a typo-free quizilla quiz!
At least, I didn't notice any, but then again, I'm half-asleep. Turns out:

The name of the rose Umberto Eco:
The Name of the Rose

You are a mystery novel dealing with theology,
especially with catholic vs liberal issues.
You search wisdom and knowledge endlessly,
feeling that learning is essential in life.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

[via a bunch of people like bitchphd, ~profgrrrrl~ and Another Damned Medievalist]

i was inadvertently SP2'd last night
I totally forgot about that "automatic downloads" feature....which I'm usually just fine with, but last night I noticed the little windowy icon thing and moused over was at 45%, then very slowly made it to 50% and I thought, "what on earth could be so...oh shit" -- I was being SP2'd. I crossed my fingers and continued on. Seems fine so far [knocking on wooden things now...] but since I have two layers of Norton protecting my machine and I use Mozilla products, I'm not exactly sure what I'll be getting out of this upgrade. Oh well, we'll see...

i don't mind B pluses, but...
when it's an 89.freaking5 B+, that's just annoying. Son of a .... well, you know. Stupid HR Management class. Nah, it's my own fault. I can never get an A on objective tests. It's just not in my nature. I always find a way to argue (with myself) for wrong/strange answers because it just doesn't "look right" to have 4 E's in a row on my scantron, or something stupid like that. Since the majority of the graded work was in objective test form, it makes sense I didn't get an A. But missing by half a point, that's just annoying. I feel like such a loser! Well, not really. Right now I just feel really tired and I'm still not done with my Very Late Things. :(

Monday, August 23, 2004
you'll notice no posts of joy
I have not completed my work. Nothing like being 1 week late on one thing, and 4 days late on another thing. It's not like I was off having fun. Well, except for 2 hours of youngster soccer (go raptors!) and food afterwards, but that doesn't count. I even have a whole list of rewards that I can't have. It's like geez, finish your damn work so you can tell ~profgrrrrl~ how to get pink dots on her blog, and write replies to all sorts of posts that popped up over the weekend.

Stupid, stupid work. (I'm kidding. Work = money and money is a good thing.)

Sunday, August 22, 2004
spam actually proved useful!
I just got one of those vitamin-related spam messages, with the subject "take your vitamins". It made me stop and think, "oh yeah, take my vitamins," whereupon I walked over to the kitchen and did just that.

While I most certainly didn't follow any links in the message, and I'm perfectly happy with my Whole Foods generic brand multi-vitamins, this may have been the first time in the history of the Internet when spam actually served a purpose.

Friday, August 20, 2004
i finished i, robot
My brain was pretty much fried from work all day, so I finished the last little bit of I, Robot. I originally wanted to read it after I saw the movie, because I had heard so much about how the point of the movie and the point of the book were at odds. After reading the book, I agree with the critics' constant use of "suggested" (in quotes), as in "Asimov's novel 'suggested' the new movie..." because the similarities seemed to end at:

- robots
- three laws
- names of characters

As in "there were robots, robots adhered to and struggled with three laws, and characters named Calvin and Lanning were in the movie." Sure, the bit about the one rogue robot hiding among the non-rogues, and how to go about figuring out who was the "bad" one, that was in there, too.

I'm not sure if I liked the book, though. I think I just don't "get" science fiction. I'm currently reading Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and I'm not really "getting" it, either. Ok, of course I understand the themes running through these books—they're obvious. I think I just had higher hopes for them. If I'm going to take the time to read a book, I want to have to use my brain a little bit. Now, The Diamond Age, that was a good sci-fi book. So rich, and there was much thinking on my part. So maybe I do get sci-fi, I'm just picky. Yeah, I'll go with that.

and....bugmenot is back
Everyone can go back to their normal routines. Just a little blip in the Internet.

funny slashdot poll
Usually, I only laugh out loud at semi-funny things when I am really tired, so when I laughed out loud at this poll regarding "What Do You Call This Decade?" I knew that I was really tired. I laughed at the now() answer, which is funny if you work with databases. It's probably not funny, if you don't. If you don't, then let's just say I thought "Just awkwardly avoid naming it whenever the topic arises" was funny. Yeah, that's it...

kennedy, a terrorist? help me, jeebus!
Via Yahoo! News, Sen. Kennedy Lands on 'No Fly' List
"Kennedy -- one of the most recognizable figures in American politics -- told a Senate committee hearing on Thursday he had been blocked several times from boarding commercial airline flights because his name was on a 'no-fly' list intended to exclude potential terrorists.
A Kennedy spokesman said the whole thing had resulted from a simple error and had not been politically motivated."
Not politically motivated...sure....but I'd still recommend anyone with the last name of "Kerry" or "Edwards" to check with Homeland Security before flying, just in case.

currently playing...
Diversity is a good thing. My music playlist for today's work session is:

- Kronos Quartet Performs Philip Glass
- Metallica / San Francisco Symphony: S&M
- Massive Attack: Mezzanine
- Doves: The Last Broadcast
- Twilight, as played by the Twilight Singers
- Maroon 5: Songs About Jane
- Sunny Day Real Estate: The Rising Tide
- one of five more Toad the Wet Sprocket CDs
- Throwing Muses: Hunkpapa

There are more, but this is the core. The core doesn't often vary...I need more variety but I am very picky about work music. Not that you could tell, as this list looks awfully random.

This is not my "list of favorite albums ever" -- I don't really have one of those. I have a list of work music, a list of road trip music (not that I've taken one in years, but still) and a list of CDs I just listen to in the car when sports talk radio or NPR sucks at that moment. All of those lists are different. Fascinating, I'm sure.

Thursday, August 19, 2004
no more bugmenot
Wah. According to Boing Boing, bugmenot seems to have gone away. Xeni says, "I'd bet dollars to downloads that lawyers were involved." Yeah, no kidding. Too bad. Then again, I didn't mind registereing for the three papers I tend to read on-line (San Jose Mercury News, LA Times, Washington Post)...I still don't think I'll register for any more, though.

--> update available

--> more update: it WILL be back

workout extravaganza
I hadn't been to the gym in weeks. I kept holding it back as a reward: finish list of things, go to the gym. Unfortunately, my "list of things" never gets shorter. So today, although I haven't finished writing my lessons and I haven't finished editing my chapters (but I did finish everything that was due yesterday, at work), I figured screw it, I'm going to the gym.

This was at 4:15am, and the other reason was that I figured it would wake me up. I was still very tired. After fiddling around checking mail, getting ready for the day, I left the house around 5, shot a few hoops, did a shortened amount of work on the elliptical (weird bottom-of-foot problem), and then did a circuit of the Nautilus machines. I know a lot of people do all legs one day, all arms the other day (or something along those lines), but since I'm in it for tone rather than strength, I always do a full-body weights circut. I always do 4 sets of 12, except for one stupid thing that I suck at: overhead press. I look like a little old woman when I do that one, and I don't know why. Lat pulldowns, rows, chest press, all fine. Overhead press, not so much. I like to make up for looking like a fool on that one, by doing 200lb leg presses. That's one thing I can do.

Now I'm back home, drinking my coffee, still not really ready for the day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
things I've learned by using "next blog"
- people can't spell
- people really, really can't spell
- there are a lot of Finnish bloggers
- there are a lot of Argentinean bloggers
- the rEaLLy aNnOYinG uSe oF MiXEd cASe seems to be constrained to Asian bloggers
- sometimes you will see pictures of kids, dogs and flowers
- sometimes you will see pictures of penii and/or breasts
- it only took about 30 clicks to run into a blog I've already read
- i haven't landed on a blog that was in my blogroll
- i've added to my blogroll, after next-blogging

Through next-blogging, I managed to find a really lame attempt at plagiarizing from my books, in the tutorials at Their PHP and MySQL tutorials contain text that's either lifted from my books and slightly modified (in examples, students become employees, etc.), or there are people out there who use the same voice and phrases that I do (only I do it better). People suck.

UPDATE (1/Sep/2004) The person from who wrote the ariticles I mentioned above, has written to me to assure me that he has never read a single one of my books (or Matt Zandstra's book, I assume, from which content is included in TYPMA24 and PMA AiO). Apparently, I have a writing doppelganger, to which I say "good for him" because I write well (so say my publishers when I, the worrisome author say "does this suck?" and they say "books that suck don't sell this much" and I say "neat" and move on) and hopefully he makes money from writing well, too. All I know is that I have never before read something so eerily similar my published content, so much so that my stomach did flip-flips. Doesn't matter, though, because I don't own my content anyway, Pearson and Thompson do. But it sure was creepy.

Aerial views are cool. I live here. Actually, I live about 30 feet to the right of the marked spot. Oh well.
[via little. yellow. different.]

the books list
Following Mel's lead, I made an "currently reading" books list and linked it over thar in the right-side column (after the blogroll). It sure makes me look edumacated, huh?

You know, I really don't get all my good ideas directly from Mel, just a bunch of them. If you read her blog, and you read mine too (for whatever reason), you may occassionally see some joiner activity on my part. But what you don't know, and what I do know because I've had the good fortune of knowing dear Mel for a bazillion years in real-life, is that Mel is ultra-cool. I mean really, really cool. Like top-3 people I've ever known, cool. So for those of you who read/post comments at her blog but don't know her in real life: neener neener neener. :)

I'm just least, I'm kidding with the teasing. Mel is cool. Ed needs to stop bothering Mel.

it's an appropriate logo

since American Mariel Zagunis beat Tan Xue of China 15-9 in the sabre final to win the first Fencing medal EVER for an American woman, and the first Fencing medal at all for the US since 1984, and the first Fencing Gold for the US since 1904. Sada Jacobson (US) got the bronze, and that would have been a big story, too, had Zagunis not won the gold!

Oh yeah, and Phelps won two more, and the men's basketball team stinks, the women's volleyball team has lost twice and probably won't medal, the soccer team tied the Aussies in a throw-away match. As for the "other" sports, you know, the ones that aren't "popular" in the US: Deirdre Demet-Barry (US) won silver in the cycling time trial and Christine Thorburn (US) was 4th, Rebecca Giddens (US) won silver in the Women's K1 Kayak Single and Kim Rhode (US) won gold in the Women's Double Trap.

I've had the good fortune to have held an Olympic gold medal in my hands (no, I didn't win it, I was friends with someone who did). It was heavy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004
new Angry Alien/30-second bunnies movie!
It's Jaws in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies. A MUST SEE!

i get it....
like evhead (evan williams), I am also addicted to the "next blog" feature of the new blogger navbar. That was pretty sneaky...

i am so bored
I am (at this very moment) formatting my lessons for my class. It's mostly pulling together all sorts of things I've written before, tweaking it a bit, and modifying some images. These were all due yesterday. I suck beyond belief at deadlines...especially those I set myself. This one even had an "early completion" bonus attached to it, but I lost a whole weekend of work time, because I was housesitting again. When I set the deadline, I didn't know I'd be doing that, and I can't sit and work for 18-20 hours at my friends' house like I can in my own (it just doesn't have the right furniture). Couldn't do things earlier, because we're busy at work. In fact, we're still busy, I'll have to do a lot of work today, and I'll probably only turn in two of the six lessons this very moment I am working on number 2, and it's 3:40am. These are probably going to drag out another two or three days, which is unfortunate becuase I have eight chapters to edit and submit on Thursday.

I do love my coffee.

Monday, August 16, 2004
i was too embarrassed to post this earlier
I had no problem indicating I was a 7th-level'er in Jimbo's or Rana's blog, but I didn't want people to see the details. Truly, I am not violent (gluttonous, yeah). I just answered the "do you like violent movies or video games" question with "yes" because I'm all for fake gory schlock, and first-person shooter games in the Star Wars vein are a great way to kill time. Really, though, I'm not a terrible person. I could always blame this on Catholic school...somehow.

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Seventh Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)High
Level 7 (Violent)Very High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

swimming IS a major sport
Sorry pjm...Google thinks that swimming is a logo-worthy event:

Although Phelps won't win 8 golds (or even 7 golds), he can still win a buttload of medals. I know it's not very patriotic, but I've been an Ian Thorpe fan since the last Olympics, and I'm glad he's won his individual events so far, including the head-to-head vs Phelps. Kudos to NoCal's Natalie Coughlin, who won gold in the 100m Backstroke. Also, in the "someone really should highlight these things" category, 53kg women's weightlifter Udomporn Polsak won a gold medal—the first Thai woman ever to win a gold medal in anything. Good for her.

Sunday, August 15, 2004
oh, thank god
Once again, I have triumphed over genetics!

I, my friend, have class. I am so not white trash. I am more than likely Democrat, and my place is neat, and there is a good chance I may never drink wine from a box. [This is all true, actually.] Take the WHITE TRASH test at

[via if you don't have cable and your library card has expired]

preparing for all sorts of school
My second summer class is over; I turned in my final exam on Friday. No more "Fundamentals of Human Resource Management" for me, thank god. Actually, it was a fine class. The prof was a hoot, and if you're going to sit through four hours of HR lectures twice a week, the prof being a hoot is definitely a plus. The next two weeks are school-free, as classes start on the 25th. Crap, that's not really two weeks, is it? More like ten days. Oh well.

Here's something for all you professor types: as soon as you know the books you're going to use in your classes, post them on your faculty web page. Please, I beg of you, on behalf of all my fellow students. With a head-start, and armed with all the ISBNs for the books I need for the fall, I managed to cut my textbook bill by a significant amount ($165 compared to $325). The textbook market is awesome. While most of my books were the actual editions, I also got a few of the international editions of textbooks -- exactly the same, just not printed in the US. The knock on int'l editions is that obviously you can't resell them at your school's bookstore, but you sure can resell them on But I did manage to turn a profit on my summer book: bought the real, hardback edition on for $50 (compared to $90 used/$125 new at the bookstore), then sold it back to the bookstore for $60. I also got a Norton English Lit anthology (v2) for less than $20, because it was grimy around the edges. I don't mind a little grime. Anyway, the point is that textbook prices are insane, so if you can help your students out by giving them a head start, that's a good thing. Here's the fall lineup:

- Organizational Change and Design: a required class for the management concentration, this is part two of a course I took last semester. I picked the one taught by the same prof as part one, because I really liked him. I like interesting profs who expect a lot out of their students, and reward them fairly for their efforts. There's also more writing in this fellow's class than in most of the other biz classes I've taken, and I appreciate that. I am so terrible at objective tests, I need the essay questions and case analyses in order to show that I'm not a complete dumbass. However, in this class there's a group paper. I hate group projects, period, and a group paper is even worse. I am not against the concept, I'm against the fact that the majority of people can't write, don't do their work and generally do things to bring down the group's grade. I do know that this prof engages in 360-degree evaluations with regards to group members, and takes things like "this person didn't do jack" into consideration. Depending on how I do in this class, this prof might be one of the guys I go to for a rec letter; even though it will be for the English Dept, he's able to judge my ability to synthesize info and write coherently about it.

- International & Comparative Management: a required class for the management concentration, and I know nothing about this prof, except what I read on, which is "he's really boring and kinda hard, but a nice guy". Of course, I take these ratings with a grain of salt, so this class will probably just be another in a long list of incredibly mind-numbing biz classes. There's a written assignment for each class, probably something in the case analysis vein, so that's a plus in my book. It's probably what garners the "hard" rating from other students, though.

- Management Issues in High Technology Companies: a management elective. I'm not taking it because I have some great interest, instead I'm taking it because we need three electives and I only had one to date and can't count on any electives at "good" times next semester (my last), so best to get one while I can. I know the prof is well thought of by other profs, and that's good. There's a group paper in this class, too (ugh)...but I have a slightly better feeling about this one, because this is a seniors-only class. We'll see.

- Business Systems and Policy: a required class; this is where I get to learn all about Microsoft Access and how it's so wonderful for business integration (sarcasm intended). Give me a freaking break. I'm trying very hard not to have a bad attitude about having to take this class. I work with real database systems every day. I've written books about them. Don't tell me that Access rocks. Grr. Now watch me flunk it and have to take it twice. :)

- Philosophy of Science: I took this class in Spring '03 but had to withdraw at midterm because we were tremendously busy at work. I was getting an A, too, goshdarnit. I'm taking the online/tv lecture version of the class this time, and since I've done the hard part (reading and understanding the texts), I can focus on the writing. I'm doing this to replace the "W" on my transcript with an actual grade, and also to help get my brain prepared for work in the humanities.

- The Victorian Age: if I get through this class, I'll do an English MA. I am now supremely confident in my ability to do so (but not cocky-confident, that would just be stupid), even if I haven't yet finished Middlemarch. I did buy my own copy, though, and that's saying something. :)

Then there's the course I'm developing and then teaching at, "Databases and Dynamic Web Design". In fact, I should really go finish writing/formatting the lessons, since they're all due tomorrow....

Saturday, August 14, 2004
i did not win the lottery
But I did win $100 on a $3 scratcher. Yay, free money! Winning the lottery is not unheard of in my family -- my parents won the PA Cash 5 once. I got my love for gambling from my grandparents (the Italian ones), who taught me how to play cards (for money) at a very young age. Also, instead of cash, my (now insane) grandmother would give us scratchers, and we got to keep anything we won. The most I ever won was $25, but that was a lot of money to a kid (back then). A few years ago, I won $200 on a scratcher, but this hundred bucks was the most since then. What a nice feeling.

more olympics
I don't dig it that we have to wait until primetime or whenever, to see that Michael Phelps has already won his first gold medal. I do appreciate that we can find live coverage on NBC-related channels (CNBC, Bravo, etc), and I will take advantage of it as much as possible. In fact, I had the US v New Zealand women's basketball game on in the middle of the night. But what I really like is the schedule/results page at the Athens '04 site. It's a big table of days and events; blue boxes indicate if the event is happening on the given day, an "F" in the box tells you if anything will be a final on that day. Click the box and you get all the news releases, individual results, box scores, etc. Very, very handy.

We always hear about the winners, and the ones who were supposed to win but who did not. There are plenty other stores, and certainly not just from the US camp. For example, Iraq won their opening round soccer match, beating Portugal 4-2. The Iraqis train in Baghdad, on a field they share with a herd of sheep. After their athletes endured years of torture and abuse by Uday Hussein, Iraq's Olympic federation only had their eligibility restored a few months ago. To march in the opening ceremonies was a huge victory. To win a soccer match is nothing short of amazing. Good on them.

so now I know how to get to Mavericks
Not that I surf, but it's pretty sad to live so close to Mavericks and not really know where it is. Yesterday, Kate had to go to Half Moon Bay to pick up a donated truck, so I provided the transportation to get her there. As a reward, we stopped at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company for food. What a find! Well, not that it's a secret or anything -- it was full, there was music, apparently it's quite a popular place. We soon found out why: damn good food. My beer was good, too. Kate's sucked, but that's because she chose poorly.

We had oysters, always a bonus. I love oysters. When I was hanging out with the Person Who Can't Be Named but had a lot of money and really good taste, oysters at dinner were plentiful. But since then, I haven't had anyone to eat oysters with. [Ok, it bears mentioning now that I re-read this: I really am talking about eating oysters, and I'm not being euphemistic in the least.] We also had these amazing beer-battered artichoke hearts. Man oh man, they were good. It was good batter (they're a brewery, after all) and the artichoke hearts really were the hearts, not some crappy chewy leafy artichoke part. We figured since it is California after all, and it was $8, our appetizer would be like 4 little breaded guys or something. Oh was a whole freaking plate full. Well worth it. Beyond worth it. For the main course, Kate had a good shrimp+spinach salad thing, and I had a tuna/apple/cheese melt. After all that, being very full with good food, we figured it was an $80 dinner. Rarely, in California, does one look at the check and go "is that all?" and check that the server got all the items on there, but she did and it was only $60 with tip! It's not often we get to go out and spend less than $40/each, around here. That was cool.

Oh yeah, Mavericks. At some point during dinner I pulled out the "map to Mavericks" that I grabbed on the way in. Turns out that if we had driven half a mile more up the road, we would have been there. Then I felt really stupid, but now I know! I really, really love the ocean. If I had the money, or if I eventually get money and I can afford to move, knowing that I can't really leave the area, I'd definitely try to live over on Highway 1 somewhere. Anywhere from Pacifica to Santa Cruz would be fine with me. The thing about the ocean, it's like nature's air conditioner. When it's 100 degrees on my side of the mountain, it's still only 75 or 80, with a breeze, over the hill. Wonderful...but out of my price range.

Friday, August 13, 2004
feature creature smackdown
Courtesy of pjm's comments: "There Can Be Only One" [Defective Yeti] ... As a great fan of office pools, I took advantage of the office pool-sized chart, printed it out, and Kate and I sat here and debated the matchups. I am sure there will be many disagreements, just as there are many missing badasses on this chart. But what the hell, it's Friday.

Round 1 (16 matchups)

Round 2 (8 matchups)

Round 3 (4 matchups)

Round 4 (2 matchups)


it's olympics time!
As evidenced by the opening-day Google logo:

I'm sure I'll have more to say as the days go on, as I am a huge sports fan and I really love the Olympics. For those of you wondering, Dawn Staley will be carrying the US flag tonight. She has two gold medals from previous Olympics, is the point guard for the Charlotte Sting, the head coach of the Temple women's basketball team (go owls!), and is undoubtedly free of steroids/performance enhancing drugs.

alien vs predator
I freely admit it: I will see this movie. I totally dig all the movies in the Alien family, and the Predator ones were just fine (but they ain't no Alien). Truthfully, this movie will probably suck. "Sucked" is a word I can use to describe all of Paul W.S. Anderson's films, except Soldier which I really liked and everyone else thought it sucked.

In this Yahoo! News article, I read the funniest comment: "'Why would you put a Predator in an Alien movie? Are you [blanking] retarded?,' one offended Netizen asked on the rec.arts.movies.current-films newsgroup. 'That's like putting Ghoulies in a Gremlins movie.'"

I completely agree, yet I will still see this movie. In fact, I'd probably see Gremlins v Ghoulies, too. :)

Thursday, August 12, 2004
more on reading
I am on page 89 of Middlemarch (out of a whole lot more than 89). I've made minimal progress in the last week, but it's not the fault of the novel—we were really busy at work, and then I had eight chapters to review and submit for PMA AiO 2ed. At this point in the book, I am less bored and I don't despise it. Not saying I'm enjoying it, I just don't have the same desire to shove an icepick in my eyes lest I have to keep reading. This bodes well for the upcoming class.

I now have a healthy stack of books to read—I, Robot, Middlesex and Howards End were in yesterday's library haul. Middlesex has been on my "should get around to reading this" list for many months, and apparantly everyone else in San Jose had the same idea, because when I got around to putting my name on the reserve list at the library, I was number fifteen. Yesterday, it was finally my turn. I picked up I, Robot because, after seeing the movie, I wanted to see the differences between the two. The good news is that I can read the darn thing in an evening, so I'll be able to cross that off the list fairly soon. Then, Howards End, which I picked up purely because Mel said "I'm finding it horribly bitter and dyspeptic." I don't know if she meant the reading, or the fact that it's on the reading list, but either way, I read it a long time ago and didn't remember feelings of dyspepsia so I obviously missed something. :)

PS the new bag had its first outing yesterday, and it did quite well. It held my laptop, the three new library books mentioned above, my power adapter and network cable, several file folders, various pens/pencils, checkbook, calendar, wallet, calculator, wireless PCMCIA card, etc. There was still room to spare, and everything was adequately padded. Good for it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
sub-$2 gas!
In December of '98, I left the craziness of California and went back to Virginia. I settled down in Richmond, which is about an hour and a half from where I had attended college. I went back to the little college town for a visit, and snapped this photo. I moved back to California 18 months later, but I kept the photo to remind me of some of the good things that I left behind—like cheap gas. Reading Jimbo's daily indicators, one of which is the gas price where he lives (~$1.69), made me think of this photo and the days when gas was less than a buck.

Today, the Arco station on the corner has sub-TWO dollar gas for the first time in ages—it's $1.95/gallon. Then again, the Shell, Exxon and Chevron stations on the other corners all have $2.09 gas, so I think it's more of a deal than a trend. Too bad.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
imagining the way, way past
Caleb wrote an interesting piece, "Silence of the Past", in which he said:
I find it difficult to imagine the past, to give it dimension, texture, and color in my mind. This surprises me in some ways; as an aspiring historian I spend more time than most people trying to imagine the past, and surely practice helps. Yet as much as I read historical texts and historical narratives, my mental images of times gone by often play like silent movies, or appear to me like scattered collages of sepia photos, or in the best case present themselves to my mind like a disjointed dream.
I'm not an academic historian, and I don't play one on TV, but I do a lot of family history research and spend significant time reconstructing the lives of families. For instance, today I had to break the news to Kate that not only was her grandfather dirt poor, his family were dirt poor farm laborers for at least fifty years before that. In fact, they were typical mid-to-late 19th C. sharecroppers, moving from county to county, (growing) family in tow, for three generations.

In order to track a family through the census and other historical records, I must be able to construct a homestead, town, county in my head. For the work I do, there needn't be the dimension, texture and color that Caleb talks about, but I always manage to invent some. It certainly makes reading pages upon pages of documents much more interesting...and some families are far more interesting than others. My own family is not very interesting -- generations upon generations of farmers, basically. But then I come across something like mkd's family, and all sorts of vivid imagery fills my little pea brain.

Take a main player in Caleb's dissertation -- William Lloyd Garrison. I only know the basics about him, what one learns in history classes and so forth. I learned a little more as Caleb briefly explained his diss. Looking at the census records I have handy, I see how the Garrison family transformed itself a fair amount, in terms of size, wealth and neighborly associates, between 1850, 1860, 1870. When I look at images like these, one page out of a census book, a snapshot of the words of whomever answered the door when the census-taker knocked, I visualize the street and the people, the sounds and even the smells (I grew up in a rural area, which helps with that!). I think I do better research because of it, but I could just have an overactive imagination.

mama's got a brand new bag
I was on a quest to find a schoolbag that would comfortably hold my 17" laptop, had ample padding all around, also had room for notebooks and schoolbooks, and (finally) looked cool and not all business-like. I headed over to eBags, where I got my previous bag (it wasn't designed to hold a laptop, and it finally died), and found the Crumpler "Very Busy Man" Lap Top Messenger. I'm a very busy woman, not a man, but I got over the bag's name because the reviews were so good.

But....$100 for a bag? Typically, I don't buy things for myself unless it's something like a car or a computer, and only when it's necessary. Maybe a few times a year I'll get a few new shirts, but that's it. So, $100 for a bag is quite an investment for me. Luckily, there's Froogle, and I found this very same bag for $74 at J&R Music/Computer World (who knew?) and it arrived today.

I am stoked!

winxp sp2
Looks like I'm not the only one a little leery about installing the WinXP Service Pack 2 upgrade:

- CIOs: No hurry to install SP2 upgrade
- IBM goes slow on XP update

If I hadn't purchased a new Gateway laptop six months ago, I'd still be using Win98. It worked for me. With two layers of Norton Anti-Virus and Internet Security software, plus using non-Outlook email clients, I never had issues with viruses or other nasties. Crashing, freezing, I learned to deal with that. Now, I am pleased with the performance of WinXP (I use the home edition) -- I've yet to experience a crash/freeze that rendered my machine inoperable. I still have my layers of Norton security, and I still won't use a Microsoft browser or e-mail client, so again -- no viruses or other nasties.

The bottom line is that I don't want to mess with a good thing. "Good" in this case means "works fine for me," not "I love Microsoft" [shudder]. I'm not big on messing with things that work. Case in point (starts to knock on wood now), my two Web/DB/mail/DNS servers have rolled over their uptime at least twice now, meaning they haven't rebooted in over 1000 days. I could give them more RAM or put in some more fans, get the idea...but I don't. They're just fine. Just like my WinXP-based laptop is fine, and I don't want to risk making it not so. Is that such a bad idea?

i feel old
I vividly remember the days when virtual hosting was a Shiny New Toy...imagine, running multiple web sites, with multiple IPs, from the same box, with just one httpd server installed? Gadzooks, we'll have to get more disk space! Ah yes, 1994. I recall a meeting regarding the cost-benefit analysis of buying a bigger drive: "Well, you know, disk space only costs 10 cents per MB." Megabyte. Not gigabyte, megabyte. 1024 MB = 1GB.

So yesterday I see an ad for a Western Digital 120GB HD for $39.99 after rebate [link via kevin rose]. That's 122880 MB. In 1994 prices, that would have been a $12K drive (if they made them). So, now drive space costs what, 33 cents per GB, or 0.0003 cents per MB. Dang.

using firefox
I finally made the full switch from NS7.1 to Firefox; I wasn't anti-Firefox, just too lazy to change my shortcuts and remember some username/password combos. So, I use Firefox and Thunderbird, but not the whole Mozilla suite. I'd just have limited the installation to Firefox and Thunderbird anyway, so what's the point? If I'm missing out on something, I'm sure someone will let me know.

The cool think about the timing of the switch is that I'm currently editing my SAMS Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache All-in-One book for a 2nd edition due out in December, and I'm re-shooting all the screenshots of script results, etc -- all of which are browser-based and all of which are now showing Firefox. If sales are the same as the first edition, there's 30K more people who will have Firefox staring at them when told "and you should see something like figure x.x". Unfortunately, I can't include the phrase "including the browser...if you don't see a browser exactly like this one, then you must go get it" because that's not really true. "Must" is such a strong word. Perhaps I could use "it would be in your best browsing interest" or something like that. :)

Monday, August 09, 2004
my knee update
It's fine. As of today, it's back to "normal", where "normal" is "not really right, but it's never going to be right and I'm ok with that." Tomorrow, I will try it out on the elliptical at the gym (aka "gerbil machine"). I think what happened is that I definitely stretched something in an inappropriate way, things swelled, and the swelling made things slide around. I took a lot of anti-inflammatory meds, and stretched a lot/moved it a lot, and everything's fine. No doctor visit necessary. Yay!

Sunday, August 08, 2004
geeky quizzes!
Sort of like CSS positioning, if molly says it's ok, it's ok.

I'll bet you didn't know that I am Slackware Linux. I am! See? I was so concerned I'd be Windows. Slackware Linux is cool. It was the first distro I ever used.

You are Slackware Linux. You are the brightest among your peers, but are often mistaken as insane.  Your elegant solutions to problems often take a little longer, but require much less effort to complete.
Which OS are You?

On a much more somber note, my "Nigerian Spammer" rating is:
You are Luisa Estrada.  You are the wife of the former President of the Philippines. You wish me to go to Amsterdam to help you collect $30 million which you siphoned off.  You enjoy reading, and stealing money from the poor.
Which Nigerian spammer are You?

Tee hee.

blogroll order
Entries in the blogroll are now alphabetical. Since I have a good-sized chunk of blogs I read regularly, it's become more troublesome to remember the strange filtering/sorting mechanism I used in my head, so I gave it up. Good friends, don't feel slighted if you're now halfway down the list instead of at the top—it isn't personal.

I went to a movie all by myself
I saw I, Robot last night, which I previously said I was concerned about doing, thinking I wasn't going to "get" it. First, did anyone else cry like a baby and identify more with Sonny and the robots than anyone/thing else? Was it just me? Second, the filmmakers would have lost me early on, had the cat been smashed to bits with the rest of the house. Then again, if that happened, they wouldn't have had the opportunity to show that when faced with life and death situations, humans=good at it, robots=bad at it.

I haven't read a shred of Asimov (they're going to revoke my geek card, aren't they?), so when Slate (and others) mention how the movie is unlike what Asimov wrote, I have nothing to say about it. I will put this particular book on the reading list, though. If I, Robot (the book) is an argument against man's fear of machines, but the robots and humans win out in the end, while I, Robot (the movie) is about man's fear of machines and only man wins out in the end, then I want to know why that should be the case. Although, there sure is a built-in sequel to the movie version, wherein the robots discover their ability to evolve and Sonny leads them to nirvana, but I don't imagine any smash-em-ups in that sort of movie...

Oh, and how many visual/auditory Star Wars references did you all count? I mean really, there's giving a shout out, then there's just lifting the template of the Trade Federation Multi-Troop Transport and coloring it differently.

Saturday, August 07, 2004
I seem to have royalled fucked up my knee. This particular knee has been through a lot. Thirteen or so years ago, I blew it out...tore the ACL and surrounding goodies on one side of my knee. At one point, like a year later, I cracked the top of the kneecap. Lived with the once-cracked, thrashed knee for ten years. Met someone who convinced me that fixing it would be a good thing, because it already had accumulated its fair share of arthritis, and wouldn't I like to go running with her? (No. Never. Not even with a fixed knee. I hate to run. Elliptical trainer, bikes, not a problem. No running.) This particular person had a certain way of making me do whatever she wanted, so I said what the hell, insurance paid for it. So, a doctor replaced my ACL with some random dead person's tendon, and pinned it all in to place. The subsequent week was filled with extreme suckiness, since no pain medication works on me, and I was in a lot of pain. Got over it, been arthritis-free ever since, except that after about a year I think the new ACL got all stretched out and wasn't really working in the stability department. Fine, strong hamstrings and quads will compensate, and I'm not a runner anyway, so whatever.

A few days ago I started to have this really odd feeling in that knee. You know when you stretch out and all your joints pop/crack/whatever? My kneecap got stuck halfway through the stretch. I could either unstretch, or keep going. As I'm looking at the anatomy of the knee in my head, trying to remember where the pin went, I'm thinking that the unstretching would be the way to go. Eventually it all worked out, but I was sore for a little bit. Tonight, I can barely walk. I believe I have subluxed something important, involving the patella. I am not pleased, as it keeps moving up and down. I hate going to the doctor, but if it doesn't calm down in a few days, I'm going to get an MRI. Like I don't have enough crap to worry about. Argh.

work is so time consuming
One of the best things about being one-fourth of a small business is that we can work whenever we want, as long as we get our work done. Those with a kid can take off and do kid-related-school/summer camp things, those of us who go to school can be gone for chunks of the day, Kate can go rescue a puppy in need, etc. One of the worst things about being one-fourth of a small business is that we tend to work our asses off, because every little 15-minute-billable-chunk is important. Every single one of them.

We have this time-tracking thing I built almost 5 years ago, and it's served us well. My favorite report is the utilization (non-vacation/sick/lunch/holiday hours worked divided by hours in the pay period) and billing report (billable hours worked divided by hours in the pay period), because I get to see where I stack up with my co-workers. Of course, when mkd has 115% utilization for the pay period and I only have 75%, I feel like crap. But over the course of a year (or quarter), it all works out and it ends up that we utilize and bill about the same.

This week has been one of those times when the three of us who bill are already at like 70% utilization, with half of the pay period left to go. By the end of the weekend we'll probably all stand at 85%. I'm very goal-oriented; I don't mind working this much when I know there's an extra reward at the end. There's some scuttlebutt that we may take a day off and go to a doubleheader. Or, at least Barkarby would because they're her tickets. :) I was lobbying for cuban food last night, but everyone was too tired. I'll keep lobbying, because I love me some mojito!

If you're wondering why the other person in our gang doesn't have large numbers like the rest of us, it's because Kate is the resource manager and none of her 8 hours are directly billable to anyone. That's ok, because she writes the checks. When she's not check-writing or bill-collecting, she writes blog entries about the importance of having a sanitary napkin and a cigarette in your first aid kit, the trials and tribulations of being a girl and selling a car and how to (or not) keep a Portuguese Water Dog out of your koi pond. Really, she's a font of information.

Mel read about something cool, then had the nerve (the nerve!) to share it with us, when she knows darn well that it would be a call-to-action for me. Like I don't have enough to think about!

Skin is a story written by Shelley Jackson, the text for which will be presented—one word at a time—via tattoo on the skin of 2095 participants (subsequently referred to as "words"). She calls it a mortal work of art. I think it's fascinating, and of course (no surprise to Mel) I wrote and asked to be considered for word-hood. Being late to the game (the original call for participants was almost a year ago, and she already had 85% of the words doled out a month ago), I doubt I'll make it in. But I tried.

I have twelve tattoos, all of which are meaningful (some more than others) and some are also words. I have a wristband with the Chinese character for "water" in it. I also have one that is a rune sequence of isa-laguz-jera, which is essentially (my interpretation) "chill out, let things happen, everything's gonna work itself out". But in a story of 2095 words, you're going to have a lot of articles. Would I want to be an article? Not especially, but I'd do it. I don't think I particularly exude "the"-ness, though.

According to the rules of the project, you can refuse the word assigned to you, but you don't get another one. I would refuse any of the FCC's original "filthy words" (shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits...oh boy, I'll get the search hits now!) and probably some non-banned but not-for-polite-company words, which I'd figure out on a case-by-case basis. Not that I don't use these words in real life, because I sure do (except for the c-word. I never use the c-word unless the person really, really is one)...I just wouldn't want to be that word. Also, a word with punctuation, such as "pen?" would be fine by me.

Heck, I even have the place picked out, regardless of the word (should I get one, which I probably won't). I have an unbalanced set of tattoos on my calves. The back of each calf has symmetrical tribal thingies (I refer to them as "racing stripes" although I am terribly slow), but I have a horizontal tat on the outside of my left calf, almost near my knee, while the other leg is blank in that area. I tend to balance my tattoos, not at the same time but eventually. I have two wristbands, two forearm tattoos, etc. I attribute the asshole behavior of my early 20s to my lack of balanced tattoos. My dear friend Barkarby would probably jump in immediately and say "and what about your asshole behavior now?" but this is one of those times when I'm glad she rarely posts comments. :)

Friday, August 06, 2004
miss kitty fantastico
This is another one of those posts for Buffy aficionados; the rest of you can just shake your heads and think we're weird. It's ok. Anyway, miss kitty fantastico is a great little game. Sure, it's just a little cat (but not just any cat: miss kitty fantastico!) bouncing around trying not to get impaled or otherwise killed by vampire bears, scary ghosts and a whole host of other nasties. MKF must collect items such as extra flamey candles, spell books, balls of string and jelly donuts as she makes her way home to Willow & Tara. The best part of the game is reading the names on the tombstones and mausoleums, to try to remember which episode they came from. I suck at that, so luckily that's not part of the scoring.

plone book AR is done! done! done!
The book that I managed to drag out forever, it's finally done. This week, I did the author review portion on the remaining chapters, and just a few moments ago sent them back to my prject editor. If anyone is remotely interested, the table of contents is updated and accurate. Yay, something to cross off the list!

hecklers, schmecklers
From the Kerry/Edwards campaign trail, Edwards says (of Bush supporters who showed up at a rally) "When they were booing 'hope' and optimism,' I knew it was an interesting crowd." [read the blurb] Had this happened at a Bush rally, I'm sure the hecklers would have been removed, or they never would have made it past the entrance in the first place.

scutmonkey now available in print!
It's such a funny, funny comic, that scutmonkey, expecially if you're in the medical profession or have spent a lot of time in hospitals. Come to think of it, I don't fit in either category but I've watched enough "ER" over the years that I feel I can laugh in all the right places. Anyway, support a med student -- issue #1 is now available in print! I dutifully sent my $5, and it's more than $5 of chuckleness.

Thursday, August 05, 2004
this is a little ridiculous...
yet academically relevant! Well, not really. My college mascot was the Fighting Squirrel...and my squirrel name is "Commander Smallnuts". This would be unfortunate if I were a boy. Thankfully, I am not. I am simply a squirrel commander. Thanks, Rana, I really needed a 5-minute bit of happy today!

more Middlemarch
I read two more chapters (that's what, a whole 10 pages?) this morning, when I was really, really tired. Thus, I read it really, really slowly. That may be the trick.

Between Caleb's I, Corporation post, and Mel's I Robot U Robot post, I have come to the conclusion that I am not intellectually prepared to see I, Robot. I just wanted some popcorn and to see some sci-fi, Big Willie Style! Now I feel like I have to take a seminar before seeing it. :)

hello, freud? this is W.
"[we will] never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people."

when's the election, again? Is there a countdown clock somewhere?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004
my ulterior motive, or why I'm trying to read Middlemarch (again)
I realize "ulterior motive" sounds sinister, but my reason for reading Middlemarch is not all evil and dark. In fact, it has no bearing on the world whatsoever, just on me. My plan was, if I get through Middlemarch and can reasonably answer the question "what did I learn from this experience", then I would take advantage of a free evening in my fall schedule, and take a Victorian Lit class. See? Not sinister. Masochistic, perhaps, but that's my own thing.

I say "was" because I've already changed my plan. I'm going to take the class anyway; Middlemarch is one of the books being taught (the others being Bleak House, Picture of Dorian Gray and Tess of D'Urbervilles, each of which I've read and enjoyed...the latter two being much more enjoyable than the former) so even if I can't deal with it in the next few weeks, I'll have the opportunity once more in a classroom setting. The new carrot is this: if I make it through the class, I'll do an MA in English. Again, no relevance to the rest of the world.

Since I quit grad school (in 1992), I've carried around the guilt of doing so. My father paid a significant amount of money for my undergrad education; he took out no loans, and I went to a private school four years before I should have, so he was really unprepared. But, he didn't want me to have any loans when I got out, and I didn't. So, obviously I felt like I let them down and wasted their money. Then, there were the profs in my department. I went to a really small school, less than 1000 students. We had about 20 English majors, and very few went on to grad school. In fact, in my graduating class, I think only two of us even applied. So, it was sort of a big deal that any of us went on to another level. I lasted six weeks in grad school, at my #7 choice of school (out of 7). Around midterm time, I realized that studying literature at the graduate level just wasn't for me. This realization happened in the middle of a Victorian seminar in which a discussion had been raging for a good hour or so, regarding the importance of the color of the shirt worn by a particular character in Middlemarch. I didn't get it then, and I still don't get it. So, I withdrew, and while I can't say I regretted the decision, I've thought about it a lot over the years.

I went off and made my own career, having nothing to do with literature or higher education. A few years ago, I decided to go back to school and do a second BA (in Business Administration with a Management concentration), and I'll be done with that after Spring '05. I did this to bring some "academic" business knowledge into our company, and also to give myself something to do with my free time (and it's also a tax deduction). I also took a linguistics class, and decided that after I finished my management degree, I'd do a linguistics MA with a concentration in computational linguistics (being the geeky programmer that I am). I was all set to do that, and then saw that none of the classes in linguistics were offered at the end of the day/in the evening. That wasn't going to work, so I gave up my plans to be a linguist and figured I'd just do an MBA.

Then the little nagging voice started up again. "Why don't you read a book?" it said. "I'm not a good reader," I replied. "Oh, just get over yourself and try," it said. So I did. I read a few contemporary novels, then one day grabbed my dusty old Collected Works of Oscar Wilde and flipped through it. I didn't hate it. I thought maybe, just maybe, I'd take a few years to do an MA in English before I went and did an MBA. I looked at the upcoming semester's schedule, and spoke to the grad coordinator about the most important criteria to me: when were the classes held? In the English dept, like the Business dept, all the grad classes are held at the end of the day and evening -- just what I needed. I thought maybe, just maybe, I had a plan.

But still, Middlemarch loomed. I never could get through it, and I never knew what I was to get out of it. Everyone else seemed to "get" it, but I didn't. A few days later, my friend Mel blogged that she had settled on Middlemarch as her favorite book to teach. That sealed the deal for me -- I had to at least try again. See, Mel's known me since my undergrad days, knew me through the grad school experience (short though it was), knows me now...and I've known her all that time, as she was off at a seriously good grad school being exceptionally smart. In other words, her opinion matters a lot. So that's why I started to read Middlemarch again.

Today, she blogged about what it is that she tries to do in her classes. I read her list, and realized that I only ever had two professors try to do the same things, and they weren't in my department. It's no wonder I was unprepared and had zero confidence in my abilities, the first go 'round. As an adult, I know I can do better -- and that is the sole reason I'm going to try.

google is NOT the spawn of the devil
I've actually come across that statement, in various blogs, about how Google is some sort of terrible, devilish entity. I don't understand that, at all. Google is a search engine (that, as a company, provides tools intended to "make the world's information universally accessible and useful" using said search engine.) A really big, good one. The problem with that is...what now?

Along comes a CNet story yesterday: "Google queries provide stolen credit cards". This is one of those types of stories that people love to get all riled up about, when they have no clue what they're talking about. First, I repeat, Google is a search engine. It archives public content, which you can then search. Google does not steal your personal financial data. Unscrupulous people and/or webmasters who are very, very bad at their jobs, post data on public web sites. Those sites are indexed by Google (and a ton more search engines), and the text on the page is searchable by you, the consumer.

What sets Google apart from the other search engines is the ability to find more information because 1) they have more of it and 2) you can employ hacks to make your searches even better (here's a book about google hacks). Hacks are not bad things. Hacks are "quick jobs that produce what is needed". Those who hack are hackers. Neither "hack" nor "hacker" == "malicious meddler"; that would be a cracker.

But you see, we're not talking about cracking. We're talking about search results that include data that dumbasses (and/or crackers) placed on public web sites. Public records like police reports and tax records, which contain social security numbers, have been inadvertently placed online by city governments. Databases of purchase records which include card numbers, either stolen and placed online, or initially stored in a public place for all to see -- those are examples of information you can find online, AND you can find them with any search engine.

Google just makes the process easier, with number span searching. Kevin Rose provides an example of Google search query using number span searching: visa 4356000000000000..4356999999999999

Although number span searching isn't employed in Yahoo! or MSN Search, the pages that turn up as Google search results also will turn up in Yahoo! and MSN Search results, if you search on something specific. Try it: Yahoo! query w/ CC number, MSN Search query w/ CC number.

Moral of the story: don't publish information you don't want others to see, because people will find it, because search engines are doing their jobs. It isn't Google's (or Yahoo!'s, or MSN's) fault that poor security on the fault of administrators (and the ability of humans to fall for social engineering tricks) makes certain areas of the Internet a playground for crackers. In fact, security experts also use Google hacks for good, not evil, to find vulnerable servers in order to fix them, or alert their owners to do so.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004
satire is good for the soul
Or, at least the laughing that comes from good satire, that's good for the soul. Get some: "Senator Kerry Accused of Flip-Flops".

Go on wit' yo' bad self, Caleb!

"who's running for president?"
I was just at the grocery store -- Whole Foods, actually. The cashier was going on about how the freemasons are running the country because Bush was part of Skull and Bones at Yale, and how it really doesn't matter who you vote for because so was Kerry (you just don't get this kind of jabber at the Safeway, do you?) Jabbering continued, and the bagger is nodding along and then says "who's running for president, anyway?"

The guy didn't look like he's been living under a rock, and I know our state is spared the onslaught of advertising that is reserved for battleground states, but still... At this stage in the game, one should know who's running.

Monday, August 02, 2004
i finished a book...
I finished two, actually. First was Eats, Shoots & Leaves, but that wasn't really like reading, it was more like laughing a lot and turning pages at the same time. Fuuunny. I think if I didn't know about punctuation, I wouldn't have found it as funny. But I do (really, I do) and it was funny. So there.

Then I finished Trumpet, a novel by Jackie Kay. See for extended info, but here's an excerpt from the Publishers Weekly review:
"A Scottish poet with a fresh and resonant voice makes her fiction debut with a novel about the life of a famous jazz musician, born female, who masquerades as a man. Like the real-life Billy Tipton, Scottish trumpet player Joss Moody has a wife, Millie, and a domestic life. No one except Millie knows the truth about his sex, which is revealed by the medical examiner only after his death."

I didn't read the review before I checked the book out of the library; I learned of it by reading comments in a "what should I read next" type of post by scribblingwoman. See what you can learn by reading comments? New books to read. Anyway, had I read the review, I would have said "oh yeah, Billy Tipton," the inspiration for a band from 10 or 12 years ago, The Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet, which is now The Tiptons. I had a CD. I completely forgot about them (and Billy Tipton) until (literally) about an hour ago when I said "d'oh" and smacked myself on the head. Not so quick on the uptake, here.

get your archive on...
04/04 · 05/04 · 06/04 · 07/04 · 08/04 · 09/04 · 10/04 · 11/04 · 12/04 · 01/05 · 02/05 · 03/05 · 04/05 · 05/05 · 06/05 · 07/05 · 08/05 · 09/05 · 10/05 · 11/05 · 12/05 · 01/06 · 02/06 · 03/06 · 04/06 · 05/06 · 06/06 · 07/06 · 08/06 · 09/06 · 10/06 · 11/06 · 12/06 · ???


job / books / new blog

04/04 · 05/04 · 06/04 · 07/04 · 08/04 · 09/04 · 10/04 · 11/04 · 12/04 · 01/05 · 02/05 · 03/05 · 04/05 · 05/05 · 06/05 · 07/05 · 08/05 · 09/05 · 10/05 · 11/05 · 12/05 · 01/06 · 02/06 · 03/06 · 04/06 · 05/06 · 06/06 · 07/06 · 08/06 · 09/06 · 10/06 · 11/06 · 12/06 · ???


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