No Fancy Name
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
neighborhoodies are cool
Neighborhoodies come in several styles and are basically just customizable hoodies—but with flair! Several neighborhoods are represented, just pick from the list when customizing something, or you can have your own text put on.

My neighborhood isn't represented, but that's ok...I don't think "Tully/Senter" is all that cool of a name. If I lived in Naglee Park, I'd totally get that on a hoodie. But think of the possibilities for other cities. Like "Cabbagetown" or "Adams Morgan" or "The Fan" (Atlanta, DC and Richmond, respectively). How cool would that be? Well, maybe not The Fan. That's where I lived, when I lived in Richmond, and unless you're actually from there/know it's a neighborhood, I imagine wearing a hoodie with "The Fan" on it would just make you look like an idiot. "You're 'The Fan?' Of what? Everything?" I'd probably end up going with "Shockoe Slip" just because it sounds cooler, although I'd never live down there.

What was I saying? Oh yeah. Neighborhoodies. Cool.

i haven't talked about my course in awhile...
...but I'm still teaching it. I went through some trials and tribulations with it last month, and basically I had a come-to-Jesus meeting with myself. I finally convinced myself that no matter how hard I tried, if people weren't going to get it, they just weren't going to get it and it's not completely my responsibility. So, I stopped taking failures personally and once I did that, I began to enjoy it again. Hey, it only took six months for me to become jaded! Is that good or bad?

Seven people have now made it through the course. Two more are working on the final lesson, and three more are in the next-to-final lesson. I've seen plenty of people register, take a look around for a few days, then withdraw. It's a pretty daunting course for a newbie, although newbies are the intended audience. I've also seen a lot of people muddle through the first lesson or two, then give up. Then there are the people who breeze through in six weeks or so, and do pretty good work...or take several months and still do pretty good work. There are many more types in between. I'm constantly re-reading my lectures and exercises, wondering if I should tweak something here or there.

I had a really good conference call awhile back with the CLO (that's "Chief Learning Officer") and another person in the Education Department and we came up with the idea to put specific checkpoints in the lecture, to force the students to stop and think about what they've learned so far. They're not summaries, they're more like things that students should absolutely have taken away from the previous section, or they'll be screwed as they move on. It's reduced the number of questions I've received from students, and that's good. A lot of the questions I had been getting resulted in answers from me like "go look at section x where I specifically described y." With these checkpoints, they seem to be paying closer attention to the text. Hooray!

I'm still supposed to teach a course that another instructor is developing, but he's been developing it for months and months and I don't know when that will start. I also just submitted an outline for a short course (3 lessons) that I felt was missing from their curriculum ("Intro to HTML Forms"—dragging a widget from a WYSIWYG editor when you don't anything about the specifics of the form control or the theory behind the use of the element, that's not good.) Hopefully I'll get to write and teach that course. You know, in all my spare time...

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
i watch a lot of crime drama...
...Law & Order (regular, SVU and CI), NYPD Blue, CSI, Cold Case, etc. So, I know that when a cop leaves a business card in your door, it's a good thing to call back.

I came home from erranding today and saw a card stuck in my door. Scribbled on the back, which was the part facing me, was "Please call me. Thank you. I was here at 11:15am." I figured the card belonged to someone from the management service for the condo complex, or maybe it was a realtor looking to see if I wanted to sell (there have been a lot of sales in this complex, recently). I flipped the card over and saw it was from a sergeant in the SJPD homicide unit. Ack! Not a realtor.

Knowing that I'm not a murderer and don't associate with any, most of my brain wasn't freaked out. But I admit to feeling a bit disconcerted about the whole thing. I don't live in the greatest part of town (I don't live in the worst, either) and every few weeks or so I'll hear what sounds like gunfire, and maybe once a month there will be a helicopter in the air, hunting for someone. Last night I heard what I know was a gunshot. There was nothing in the paper this morning so I figured no big deal. Then...this card shows up in my door. I hadn't seen any cop cars or ambulances around here after the noise, so if it had been gunfire and someone was dead, it wasn't inside the complex and thus what good would I be as a witness?

All of these things ran through my head, and I immediately called the number on the card but the fellow wasn't there. I gave my name and number to another cop and was told the original cop would call me back when he got in. Waiting...waiting...so he calls me back. Turns out it had nothing to do with anything that happened in my neighborhood, and SJPD was just helping on a cold case from New Jersey. They were looking for someone and my house was their last address so they were "just knocking on the door" as I was told. The name they gave was a partial match to mail I sometimes get in my mailbox, but that person hasn't lived at this address for at least five years (I've lived here for three, the person who owned the place before me lived here for two). So I gave the info I knew and he asked if it would be ok if the New Jersey cops called me, I supposed to repeat what I told him. "Sure," I said...because accumulating good cop karma can't hurt!

Monday, March 28, 2005
the whole end-of-life deal
I wasn't going to say anything about the Terri Schiavo case, but I did hear an informative piece on NPR's Morning Edition the other day. Basically, it was a brief thing about various religions' views on the end of life. You can listen to it here, if you want. I have no religion, but I'm always interested in knowing—just for the sake of accumulating knowledge—religious perspectives on things. The NPR interview included statements by a Catholic priest, an Evangelical Protestant pastor, an imam, a rabbi (Reform), a Buddhist monk and a Methodist minister.

The Catholic was all about "she's alive, that's it, no debate, blah blah." Whatever. I'm glad I never finished going through the rituals of Catholicism.

The pastor said that removing the tube was [a lot of religious stuff plus] "essentially euthanizing someone without their consent" and "what it sets in motion is a principle in jurisprudence and in the American psyche, basically, that it's ok to do that kind of thing." Hmmm. For me, the only issue in this case is a legal one: who has the right to make this decision on behalf of Terri Schiavo? The courts already said who: her husband. The parents have fought for the right, and the courts didn't grant it, because there was no legal reason to take the power away from the husband. End of story. So, while technically Terri hasn't given consent, the person legally responsible for her has. Some people disagree, and that's really just too bad. There are hundreds of decisions like this being made every day. The only reason it's news is because one party has made it news. Can you imagine what it would be like if, across the board, "power of attorney" no longer existed? A nightmare. I don't understand what new "principle in jurisprudence" is being set? People with POA make decisions all the time regarding people without living wills. This isn't new. It's not ideal, because "POA" is not "POA for medical decisions," but in lieu of the latter, why would the former be any less legal?

Anyway, back to the religious side of things, because the remaining folks had interesting things to say about how scholars in their respective religions are split on end-of-life issues. The imam said that Islamic scholars differ on the definition of alive: if you have bodily functions then you are alive [must receive food, hydration and palliative care], or if you have lost brain activity and no longer have consciousness, then you're not alive [don't stay on a feeding tube]. This of course leads to the problem of determining consciousness. I tend to think that "persistent vegetative state," which includes being unresponsive to external stimuli, is a lack of consciousness. If any response to external stimuli were present, then Terri Schiavo wouldn't have been diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state. Periods of wakefulness are not enough to say "oh look! not a vegetable!"

The rabbi told a story that I would totally dig if I were a religious person. It's the story of Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi, who was gravely ill and was being prayed over by his disciples. These disciples had been praying around him for days and days, in hopes that his life would be extended. The rabbi's maid would have none of this, so she climbed to the roof and dropped a jar, which shattered. The noise interrupted the prayers and at that moment the rabbi's soul was free to depart. The maid's actions were considered praiseworthy because she removed the impediment to death. If the feeding tube is not curing the patient, it is an impediment to death. Removing it is thus a good thing.

The moral of this story is not religious, it's legal: have a living will. Mine would say something like "don't keep me alive with a tube, and if someone puts it in, take the sucker out."

Sunday, March 27, 2005
PZ Myers, this is for you
Go to: NetDisaster

Type in: the url of a wingnut's web site

Select: catastrophe: dinosaurs

Press "go!"

Satisfaction and irony all at the same time!

[via Blogger Buzz]

Saturday, March 26, 2005
lovely dinner: sesame-coated chicken stuffed with ricotta and spinach

This recipe is also from the April 2005 issue of Cooking Light, part of a whole set of recipes with ricotta (including how to make homemade ricotta). I love ricotta. It's my favorite cheese.

Sesame-Coated Chicken Stuffed with Ricotta and Spinach [recipe follows]

chicken stuff:
12oz prewashed baby spinach
8oz ricotta cheese
dash pepper
dash salt
dash nutmeg
6 6oz skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
cooking spray
1T extra virgin olive oil
2T sesame seeds (I omitted because I had none. They would have been good, though.)

sauce:
1 1/2C chopped tomato
2/3C thinly sliced fresh basil
1/2C chopped red onion
1t extra virgin olive oil
1/2t grated lemon rind
dash red pepper
dash salt

Preheat oven to 450°C. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add spinach to pan, cook til it is wilted. Drain it, then finely chop. Put spinach in bowl, with ricotta, pepper, salt, nutmeg and stir well to combine.

Pound chicken to 1/4" thickness. Spread ricotta mixture on flattened chicken, leaving a 1/4" border. Roll the chicken up like a jelly roll, and place the rolls seam side down in a baking dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper over rolls, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake for 20 mins or until chicken is done.

To make the sauce, combine chopped ingredients and stir gently. Serve over chicken.

Serving size = 1 chicken roll and about 1/2C sauce. Per-serving info is: calories 348 (29% from fat); 11.1g (sat 3.8g, mono 4.6g, poly 1.8g); protein 49.6g; carbs 12.3g; fiber 4.1g; cholesterol 114mg; iron 3.6mg; sodium 480mg; calc 245mg

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yummy lunch: rice and beans with avocado

This recipe is from the April 2005 issue of Cooking Light, and I was so stoked when I saw it because it contains some of my favorite food groups: the avocado and olive food groups. (I kid. I know they're not food groups. But in my grandmother's house, we got pickles and olives as snacks and I've loved them ever since.)

Rice and Beans with Avocado [recipe follows]

1C long-grain brown rice
2C water
15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2C halved cherry tomatoes (1 pkg, basically)
1 diced avocado (the recipe says "peeled" but seriously, you knew that, right?)
1/3C chopped green onions
1/3C shredded cheddar cheese
1T chopped ripe olives (oh please...1T? I used a whole can. I like olives.)
dash salt
dash pepper

Combine rice and water in medium saucepan, bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, simmer 35 mins.

Stir in beans, cook 10 mins longer or until rice is done.

Place rice mixture in large bowl, add remaining ingredients, toss gently.

Serving size = 1 cup. Per-serving info is: calories 215 (25% from fat); 6g (sat 2g, mono 2.8g, poly 0.8g); protein 7.3g; carbs 35.7g; fiber 6.4g; cholesterol 7mg; iron 1.8mg; sodium 349mg; calc 81mg

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the L-word
No, not the TV show. The ACTUAL WORD.

Mechelle Voepel, one of the only sports columnists whose stuff I read and whose opinions I respect, wrote a really good piece for ESPN yesterday, about Liberty University (aka Jerry Falwell's university) and their multiple wins in the NCAA tournament. Actually, it wasn't really about the wins, it was about "the pairing of women's basketball and Jerry Falwell."

As she says:
I can think of only a few things more closely linked. Maybe ... Gloria Steinem and Saudi Arabia. PETA and the NRA. Exxon and Greenpeace. Molly Ivins and Ann Coulter. Mercury and Pluto.

Who'd have guessed the "L-Word" for the NCAA Tournament would be Liberty?
But what really got to me was the next bit:
It would be completely ignoring the obvious to not acknowledge that many women's hoops fans, who normally would be quite pleased with such an underdog's success, are feeling ambivalent about this one.
Yes, it would be completely ignoring the obvious, but Voepel is THE ONLY ONE WHO DIDN'T. That's why I like her stuff. Not a peep out of the others, and lest you think that the L-word doesn't apply to some of the other columnists on the ESPN payroll, it does.

She goes on to say:
This surprise Sweet 16 team does warrant discussion about some fascinating but not often openly acknowledged sociological aspects about women's basketball. Including the diversity of the fan base.

At almost any game anywhere, you could have a lesbian (constantly speculating on who might be "with" whom) cheering wildly right alongside a grandmother (who wants a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage).

You have fans who know somebody, who knows somebody, who KNOWS high-fiving other fans whose mind-set is, "Don't ask, don't tell, don't think about it. They're just sharing expenses, like they did on 'Kate and Allie.'"
Ok, raise your hand if you laughed out loud at the last bit. [raises hand.]

Her column is short, but it does raise some issues which, like the column itself, was quickly covered up by other things. I guess since Liberty was on its way to being trounced by LSU (which did happen), people figured we wouldn't have to discuss it any longer.

if you haven't noticed, transparent screens are ALL the rage

PB on Table
[click to embiggen]
originally uploaded by mmdc.
I can't do it, though. Not only am I lacking in artistic skills, I also have bad lighting and generally uninteresting backgrounds in my house.

But check out the Flickr pool (from which this example is taken) ... good stuff! This particular one is my favorite because of the semi-transparent terminal window. THAT takes skill!

Friday, March 25, 2005
friday random 10
You know the rules: do a Party Shuffle or Randomizer or whatever you want to do, in your digital music player of choice. Songs from SXSW still making their presence known...

- "Black Heart Today", by Amy Ray, from Stag
- "Everybody's Friend" by Jane's Addiction Strays
- "Absolute Affirmation", by Radio 4, from SXSW 2005 Showcasing Artist Collection
- "Temperamental", by Everything But the Girl, from Temperamental
- "Hallelujah", by Jeff Buckley, from Grace
- "Utility Rock", by Grupo Fantasma, from SXSW 2005 Showcasing Artist
- "Your Secret's Save With Me", by Dan Colehour, from SXSW 2005 Showcasing Artist
- "Mourning Air", by Portishead, from Portishead
- "Risingson", by Massive Attack, from Mezzanine
- "Hero of the Day", by Metallica, from S&M

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friday cat blogging - deuce conquers the aquarium (again)

What cat wouldn't want to hang out all day on top of a fishtank that is warm and contains fishies? She sits up here for hours, and is the only one of any of my cats who ever has done this.

Granted, my other cats lived for eight years without an aquarium, so they didn't necessarily know they were supposed to attack it. I've had the fish longer than I've had Deuce and she seems to have taken a liking to hanging out with them. The fish don't seem any worse for wear, either.

UPDATE: Modulator included the fishies in the Friday Ark, so I figured I'd say something about them. I've had them for almost four years, and they're "fancy goldfish" from Bangkok Aquarium & Pet Supply in San Jose. "Fancy" in this case means "mutant hybrids" because they're not quite red capped orandas and not quite shubunkins and not quite ryukins. They're the mutts of the goldfish world. They've grown quite nicely over the years, and seem pretty happy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
can it be the weekend?
Midterm essay, check. Journal assignment, check. Little explication essay, check. Another midterm and work in other classes, check.

What's left? WORK, grading things, WORK, WORK and WORK. Also, long essay that currently exists in outline form only. But what the hell, it's something.

Must go work now. Or grade. Or something.

Oh yeah, that human finger found in chili at Wendy's? My neighborhood. No really, it's like three miles from my house. I'd eat there but for some reason I always forget it's there and instead go to the Wendy's approx. 5 miles away. I think I'll keep driving the extra two miles when I want french fries and a frosty.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
random notes
I am especially boring right now, what with my list of crap:
- transcribe essay notes
- write essay outline and give to prof to review (Sun/Mon)
- edit this week's group submission in Strategic Mgmnt class
- take a mid-term in Negotiation & Conflict Resolution class
- sit through Business & Society class
- write my mid-term essay for AmNovel class (Mon/Tue)
- write my journal assignment for AmNovel class (Mon/Tue)
- go to AmNovel class (Tue)
- write my short essay for British/Irish Fiction class (Tue/Wed) at least I have a topic...
- go to British/Irish Fiction class (Wed)
- check for questions/things to grade in my course (Mon/Tue/Wed...)
- WORK (Mon/Tue/Wed/...)

[UPDATE: I will now stop striking things off the list, because that act itself is getting tedious—I've actually finished a bunch of things! Will shortly resume regular blogging.]

So, here are some random notes in case you missed them:

Mel was accepted to a Super Big Deal conference despite having tried to convince us, six weeks ago, that she had "no earthly chance of getting in". Liar!

[BitchPhD's] Pseudonymous Kid explains astronomy.

Caleb published his first article, "The Fourth and the First: Abolitionist Holidays, Respectability and Race," in this month's American Quarterly.

Scrivener, profgrrrrl and Rhonda dutifully performed stick-meme functions.

Rhonda has kept a low-profile in the commenting portion of the academic blogosphere, but she deserves readers! Go play on her blog, she's nice. Plus, you get pictures of the Alps. Purty.

As for me, I'm still moving through my list. I did get a nice little surprise e-mail yesterday, which was my grade on my British/Irish fiction mid-term: a 95 (out of 100). That includes a 50/50 on the first essay, which was "very good" and a 45/50 on the second, with a note that I could have delved more into blah blah blah blah which I already knew...because I wrote the second essay in only 30 minutes since I got all stoked and spent 90 minutes on the first one. Ooops. Bad time management. Seems to be a theme.

Sunday, March 20, 2005
stupid frickin' stick (meme)
Thanks, Parker. I appreciate being dragged into another meme...especially one which will show me to be VERY BORING (again).

THE STICK

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
Firefighting: Basic Skills and Techniques.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Duncan Idaho (all of them), from the Dune series. I kid you not.

The last book you bought is:
Madness and Civilization : A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason

The last book you read:
The Marrow of Tradition

What are you currently reading?
Ok, for a moment let's pretend I don't have ten more novels to read this semester, and instead I'll pick something from my (dusty) intend-to-read pile: Salt: A World History

Five books you would take to a deserted island:
- A History of the English Language
- Norton Anthology of American Literature
- The Baroque Cycle: Quicksilver, The Confusion, The System of the World because they've been sitting on my table for well over a year, and I'm only on page 33 of the first one.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons)? And Why?
- Scrivener, because I know he reads AND he does memes when prompted.
- profgrrrrl, because ... ditto above (only "she" for "he")
- Rhonda, because she doesn't participate nearly enough in silly blogosphere games.

because I know so many people are interested...
(I kid, I kid. Boy, do I kid.)

I picked a topic on my own, for my short essay. You know, the one with the call for suggestions. I probably should have mentioned in that post that I really couldn't stand To the Lighthouse, and I didn't pick something fromWomen in Love because it just has way, way, way too much to talk about in just a few pages.

When I asked one of my co-workers for her opinion, she said, "anything's got to be better than James Joyce - and since I feel that way, you should probably pick it - since we seem to be polar opposites on most things."

This is true...and I did pick Joyce. Specifically, I'm going to write about the scene in which his schoolmates try to make him say that Byron is better than Tennyson. The nerve of them!

and the winner is...
Yahoo! is the winner of the Flickr sweepstakes, according to the Flickr blog. Important quotes (for me, at least) from the post:
Yahoo Photos and Flickr have different kinds of users with different needs, and will remain separate for the foreseeable future. Flickr would also suffer from a sudden deluge of LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! omg! so we're going to grow it carefully.
Yes, separate. Thank you.
The fabulous Flickr API will continue to be open wide as all the outdoors, though we really gotta work on those commercial use licenses.
Good on the open wide, and there's nothing wrong with commercial use licenses. Really.
Pro account holders will get super mega bonuses, to be announced soon.
Hooray! I wonder what my $41.77 gets me now, since I'm already happy just to have the freakin' service as-is!

Congrats to the good folks at Ludicorp.

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still working...

powered by espresso
I have reached the stage of transcribing all my reading notes for this essay.

This is an important step, because I don't think I can read my handwriting more than once (when I do the transcription) and it also gives me one last time to get the facts straight in my head.

Then I can write a meaty outline, which my prof can then read and tell me if I'm high or not. I will have the outline done today. I promise myself that.

My next few days:
- transcribe essay notes (Sun)
- write essay outline and give to prof to review (Sun/Mon)
- edit this week's group submission in Strategic Mgmnt class (Sun or Mon)
- take a mid-term in Negotiation & Conflict Resolution class (Mon)
- sit through Business & Society class (Mon)
- write my mid-term essay for AmNovel class (Mon/Tue)
- go to AmNovel class (Tue)
- write my short essay for British/Irish Fiction class (Tue/Wed)
- go to British/Irish Fiction class (Wed)
- check for questions/things to grade in my course (Mon/Tue/Wed...)
- WORK (Mon/Tue/Wed/...)

Hooray for coffee.

no brackets busted yet...
But UConn men better get their shit together and beat NCState. I'm already down two elite eight picks, don't need to make it three. update: bastards. but go wolfpack, I suppose. root for the ACC and the underdog and all that. still though, nothing's busted, unlike Curtis, who picked the mighty jayhawks to win it all.

Also, the Temple women better get their shit together and beat LaTech, because I have the Owls in my final four. I knew it was a long shot, but not this much of a long shot. If they do make it out of the first round, they had better play significantly better in the second. update: whew, but really...get your shit together before going against [what should be] Rutgers.

Saturday, March 19, 2005
go catamounts and bison!
I love upsets in the NCAA tourney, especially when they don't adversely affect my picks. While I had picked both Syracuse and Kansas to win their first round games, I was secretly cheering for both the Univ of Vermont and Bucknell Univ—a 13 and a 14, respectively. Vermont winning screwed up my buddy's bracket—she had Syracuse going to the Final Four. OH WELL.

Bucknell winning is awesome because really, who knew Bucknell was even D-I? (I thought they were D-IAA.) Heck, who even knew before last night where Bucknell is located? I do, because it's in the town that everyone mistakes my hometown for—Lewisburg PA. I'm from Lewistown PA, a much much crappier place. Lewisburg is 50 miles west of there, two counties over. I'm sure everyone knows where Bucknell is, now, though...

Here's one example of what it's like to have your best buddy as your boss, because in the middle of the day you can have IM conversations like this:

boss buddy: florida better keep it together or i'm gonna be pissed.
me: no shit.
me: was i the only one who had ncstate?
boss buddy: nope. i did. and iowa st
me: you suck! i should have went with natural disasters over rodents
me: everything else seems to hold true: wolves (pack) over antiquated goldminers, gators over bobcats...oh crap, cowboys don't usually beat lions but for the sake of argument let's say they do. and yeah, cyclones over rodents. damn.
[...]
boss buddy: on that cowboys beat lions comment, they do. because they have guns and they shoot them. they're not just guys with interesting hats.
me: yay!
[...]
me: did we all pick st. mary's? (highlanders over dogs)
boss buddy: i doubt it. i did. [partner] didn't.
me: huh. i did.
boss buddy: i figured that out when you said "we all" in the previous IM.
me: oh yeah. we all is dumb.
[...]
[when Fla got their shit together and pulled ahead]
boss buddy: whoo hoo!
me: whoo AND a hoo!
boss buddy: premature woo-age
[when Ohio tied it]
[it all turned out ok]

I'm thinking this doesn't go on everywhere.

tags for friday random tens
Geeky Mom got all crazy and intitialized two tags for friday random ten posts:

<a href="http://www.technorati.com/tag/fridayshuffle" rel="tag">fridayshuffle</a>

<a href="http://www.technorati.com/tag/random10" rel="tag">random10</a>

Now, each week when we all play along, if we tag our posts and then ping technorati, we'll have an aggregation of our posts. Easy to do! Fun for all!

Scrivener, I recommend you try it and stop grumbling about it.

Friday, March 18, 2005
literate people, please help me decide something
For British/Irish Fiction class, I have to write an explication of "any passage that gives [us] particular insight into a character or theme." Really, it's that vague. I can pick any character and any passage of any reasonable length (for a 3-5pp essay) in any of the four novels we've read so far:

- The Good Soldier (Ford)
- Women in Love (Lawrence)
- To the Lighthouse (Woolf)
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Joyce)

My problem isn't that I don't know the novels or how to do an explication or anything like that, it's just that I haven't had time to sit down and pick something. My plan was to put the books in a bag and blindly choose one, then use a random number generator to pick a starting page. That's how ambivalent I am about it. I can work with a passage from any of these books, equally well.

In last semester's Vict Lit class (same prof), I worked with the first ten pages of "Phase the Fourth: The Consequence" in Tess of the d'Urbvervilles, which focuses on Angel Clare. I could do something of that length, or just a scene that plays out over a page or two, etc.

Anyone have any suggestions? It could be just a vote for a book, or a scene, or a passage...anything would be cool.

everyone needs a little happy
Happy
Happy, by bayat.

Check out the entire "Middleman" set!

about the blogger posting/commenting latency...
It would be an understatement to say "Perhaps you've noticed that it takes awhile to post or comment using Blogger." But hey, I said it anyway. The Blogger status page has been updated with some information, and Blogger Buzz provided more info the other day: they need more electricity. The problem is not one of servers and their ability via processors and RAM to handle high loads, it's that there isn't enough actual power going to the server farm! See:
New machines are not an issue because here at Google we can add them quite smoothly as needed. The real issue is power—actual electricity, if you can believe it. So now we're adding more power in addition to more machines.
Phil Ringnalda posted some musings about the situation, tying it in to Google's plans for a facility in Oregon. Not just anywhere in Oregon, but The Dalles, which is home to The Dalles Dam, which is "a 1.8 million kilowatt generating monster."

Basically, Google needs so much power that they're placing a data center NEXT TO A DAM. That's a lotta meatballspower.

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friday cat blogging - cat's eye view

as seen through the eyes of a cat

I almost didn't do friday cat blogging, because my cats have just been quiet little lumps
of fur the past few days, and that's not very photogenic. One of them, Deuce, spends a
lot of time at the back door, staring through the screen at the little birdies and ducks
and frogs that hang out near the patio. This is her view. Ok, so it's my view, sitting
behind her, because if it were her view, the photo would not have her ears in it.

friday random 10
You know the rules: do a Party Shuffle or Randomizer or whatever you want to do, in your digital music player of choice. This week was infiltrated by two songs from the 750 or so from SXSW, which I haven't even begun to go through and determine keepers vs non-keepers. [edited to add: I have now, and I've only dumped 50 or so songs. Amazing!]

- "Tongue In Groove", by Speedloader, from SXSW 2005 Showcasing Artist Collection
- "Something to Sing About" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More With Feeling
- "Prime Audio Soup", by Meat Beat Manifesto, from Music from The Matrix
- "Thunderbolt", by Patrick Park, from Loneliness Knows My Name
- "Monkey", by Bush, from Sixteen Stone
- "Are We Afraid", by Toad the Wet Sprocket, from In Light Syrup
- "White Like That", by Filter, from Short Bus
- "My Iron Lung", by Radiohead, from The Bends
- "Bom Bom Diggy", by Tricky, from Juxtapose
- "Evolution", by Hot Buttered Rum String Band, from SXSW 2005 Showcasing Artist Collection

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Thursday, March 17, 2005
ncaa tourney picks
I suppose I should say basketball tourney picks...but anyone who doesn't know that it's March Madness time has to be living under a rock/doesn't do sports.

Without further ado, my picks for the respective tourneys:

Men's Final Four: Okla St, Ga Tech, UNC, Duke
Men's Final: Duke over Okla St

Women's Final Four: LSU, UNC, Temple, Stanford
Women's Final: UNC over Stanford

I realize that picking Duke in one tourney and UNC in the other is...well...it's just not done—especially as a Duke fan, picking UNC in anything is enough to get my membership revoked. But really, as much as I'd like the Duke women to win (or Texas) the UNC women are better than them this year (and there are more of them, as Duke has played the season with just eight people).

On the women's side, Stanford got robbed. I'm not a Stanford women's basketball fan, but I'm a fan of the game and for them to end the season ranked number one and only get a two seed in the tournament (meaning "oh, you're really only the 5th best team") is completely bogus. Perhaps the committee just wanted to avoid the embarrassment of the Harvard drubbing a few years back (as if a 15 knocking off a 2 is better than a 16 knocking off a 1).

Anyway, I'm sure I'll go down in a flaming pile of poo like I do every year, and get beat by the children in my group, which is always embarrasing. Or, when you get beat by the people who pick because they like the team mascot or colors better than others. Shit like that is annoying. Don't people know that bracktology is a science??? (I kid, I kid. It's a crapshoot.)

technorati tags: ,

Wednesday, March 16, 2005
bleh
Just finished a midterm exam (take-home) for my British/Irish fiction class. Two essay questions, two hours. First question had to do with cultural panic and narrative technique in The Good Soldier, To the Lighthouse and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Second question had to do with sexuality at the foreground of characterization in Women in Love, To the Lighthouse and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

I did the same thing I always do on 2-question exams: think too much and write too much on the first question, then run out of time and write only half as much on the second question, even though I could have written a hell of a lot more. Bleh. This is why I like single-question exam much better—like the one I have to write for AmNovel classs before next Tuesday. I just realized that I have that midterm and another essay response for that class, plus and a short (4pp) explication for British/Irish fiction class, all due next week. Yet, I have to work this weekend on this long essay. How the hell did all this shit pile up? Grrr. Annoying.

Oh yeah, and I HAVE A JOB, too. Must get back to that now.

let's talk about technorati tags
Most of us (by "us" I mean the people on my blogroll) have links on our blogs that take the user to our Technorati "cosmos"—all the blogs/posts which link to our blogs/posts. For instance, my cosmos shows a certain number of icoming links from a certain number of sources. But there's also the concept of a category cosmos, gained through tagging. This is not unique to Technorati, as Flickr, del.icio.us and about a zillion other communities/aggregators/bookmark services/etc use tags to categorize content. Just as you can see all sepia-tagged images on Flickr, you can see all podcasting-tagged posts indexed by Technorati. Content doesn't get into a category cosmos unless it's tagged to do so; Flickr users have an option of adding tags to their images, and Technorati users can add tags to their blog posts.

I know that most of the people who read my blog (all four of you or whatever) use Blogger, so I'll show you the quick-'n'-dirty way to tag your posts. If you use MT/WordPress/TypePad or other blogging software that provides the ability to categorize tags, you can read the info here to see how your categories are automatically converted to tags and work their way into the cosmos.

Basically, you just make a link and tag the <A HREF=...> tag with the "rel=tag" attribute. "Huh?" they say in unison. Like this:

<A HREF="http://some.link.to/some_page" rel="tag">tagname_goes_here</A>

After you publish your blog post and ping Technorati, it will only be a matter of minutes (usually) for your content to be added to the category cosmos for "tagname_goes_here". The link itself, "http://some.link.to/some_page" in the example above, can be a link to wherever you want. If you are tagging a blog post about iPods with an "ipod" tag, you can use a link to "http://www.apple.com/ipod" or, what I do is simply link to the Technorati tag page itself, in this format:

<A HREF="http://www.technorati.com/tag/tagname_goes_here" rel="tag">tagname_goes_here</A>

This provides me with an easy way to jump to a category cosmos that I know I'm interested in, since I've posted something on the topic and tagged it appropriately. I also use a small font to set apart my tags from the body of the post, and I always put my tag links at the end. But font size, appearance and placement have nothing to do with the indexing that occurs on the page, so you can do whatever you want.

For example, in my post about going to see Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley at Cinequest, I tagged the post with "jeffbuckley" and "cinequest". If you follow either of those links, you'll find that (at this moment) my post is the only entrance in that category cosmos. So sad. But this post—tagged with "tags" and "technorati"—is one of many in those categories. Try it out:

technorati tags: ,

Here, I've not used the wee-sized font for the tag links, because I didn't want you to miss them. Go off and tag your posts, ping Technorati, and contribute to the real-time web. It's fun!

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doing my duty
I think I have a posse. There's a group of folks in my AmNovel class who were in my VictLit class last semester, and these folks are conditionally classified into the MA program. In other words, they're taking a few semesters of undergrad classes in the English Dept (because their degrees are in things like History or Communications or Business) before they petition to switch into the MA program proper. In OTHER other words, these folks didn't have to take the GRE, don't have to submit a writing sample, and don't have to stress out about whether they're good enough to get in—they're in. This seems very strange to me, almost like someone with an actual BA in English or Comp Lit will have a more difficult time getting into the MA program than someone who needs remedial work.

Anyway, these folks are nice people—they just don't know how to write essays, or even how to approach a topic (even when given a prompt). It's good for me to hang out with them, because I've been helping them figure these things out: good essay topics, how to formulate the essay, how to write 300-word journals that are actually formal responses to essay questions, how to approach the midterm exam (it's a 1000-word response to one of four questions pertaining to the four books we've read so far) and so forth. Yes, I realize the irony of helping them when I've been sitting around freaking out about my own essays.

What concerns me most is that they think they're "A" students because they've been skating through their other undergrad courses. I don't know if they've managed to select courses that do not require formal-ish writing, or what their deal is, but these are people who don't know a thing about MLA format, don't know how to cite a source, and don't even know where to find secondary sources should they have to use them (which they do). So I took one of them to the library after class and introduced her to the MLA bibliography, e-journals, etc.

These three people in particular are all representative of the type of student I've been at various stages of my life: the chip-on-the-shoulder "C" student that isn't listening to anything anyone is telling her and just thinks that she's being picked on because she always got "A"s before even though she really is (now) doing crappy work, the "B" student that could be an "A" student if she had any confidence in her thoughts and writing ability, and the "A" student who got himself there because he asked questions and listened to people. So, since I've been where they are, I feel it's my responsibility to help them to get to a better place: the "C" student needs to chill and listen, the "B" student needs to understand that she can say the craziest shit in the world as long as she can back it up and persuade the reader, and the "A" student needs to keep working hard.

Assuming I actually get into the MA program here, these folks will be my buddies for the next couple of years, so it's cool that they're nice, and they like me, which is a bonus.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
all about the reading
We've hit that part of the semester when taking two novel classes seems like a stupid idea...so it's a good thing I've already read most of the remaining novels for one of the classes! What a good plan, only having to re-skim the next four novels for British/Irish Fiction class. This is good because it means (in theory) I should already have a good idea for the long essay for that class...but I don't. It's cool, though, because I have eight weeks for that and I'll get into it soon enough after the AmNovel essay is complete.

About that...I am dutifully poring through the two novels I'm working with (Wieland and Edgar Huntly, if anyone besides Scrivener is interested). I'm just gathering all the passages to work with, as I already know my argument (and it seems still to be valid, which is good). I'm not stressing about it, really. I'll start writing this weekend, and I'm not at all worried about the actual act of writing it. It was just the whole argument/structure/evidence part that was getting to me.

But I had to take a break from Edgar Huntly for a bit today, to do the reading for tonight's class: the first 170 pages of Chesnutt's The Marrow of Tradition. It's pretty darn good—the book, that is, not the actions of the crappy white people.

Monday, March 14, 2005
the getting-to-know-you meme...
Peer pressure got to me, so I did the "getting to know you" meme. What you'll find is that I'm terribly boring.

1. IF YOU COULD BUILD A SECOND HOUSE ANYWHERE, WHERE WOULD IT BE?
Somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mtns. I think Scrivener and his family would be my neighbors.

2. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ARTICLES OF CLOTHING?
Worn-in jeans.

3. THE LAST CDs YOU BOUGHT?
If we're talking the digital equivalent of CDs, I think it would be Pleasure Club's Here Comes the Trick and The Fugitive Kind. The last physical CD I bought was U2's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

4. WHAT TIME DO YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING?
Usually between 4 and 5am.

5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE KITCHEN APPLIANCE?
Does a knife block count? If not, then I'll say my dishwasher.

6. IF YOU COULD PLAY AN INSTRUMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Mandolin

7. FAVORITE COLOR?
Black.

8. WHICH VEHICLE DO YOU PREFER, SPORTS CAR, MOTORCYCLE, OR SUV?
I'm with New Kid on the whole "sport wagon" thing. We have the same car (Mazda Protege 5).

9. DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE AFTERLIFE?
No.

10. FAVORITE CHILDREN'S BOOK?
Frog & Toad Are Friends

11. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SEASON?
Winter

12. IF YOU HAVE A TATTOO, WHAT IS IT?
I have twelve of them, IOW too many to mention. This picture has one of them in it.

13. IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Invisibility.

14. CAN YOU JUGGLE?
Not even if my life depended on it.

15. ONE PERSON/PEOPLE FROM YOUR PAST YOU WISH YOU COULD GO BACK AND TALK TO?
My great-great-great-grandparents, William David Benney (b. 1833 in Cornwall) and Sarah Jane Devore (b. 1832 in Pennsylvania) so I could figure out for sure who their parents were, because they're one of my genealogy roadblocks.

16. WHAT IS UNDER YOUR BED?
Not a thing.

17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DAY?
Saturday. It's erranding/decompressing-from-the-week/switch-to-academic-thinking day.

18. WHICH DO YOU PREFER, SUSHI OR HAMBURGER?
Sushi

19. FROM THE PEOPLE WHO NORMALLY READ YOUR BLOG, WHO IS THE MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND FIRST?
Maybe Scrivener. But won't I look like a loser if no one responds at all? Yes, I will.

20. ON WHICH BLOG DID YOU FIND THIS MEME?
At kinesthesis breakthrough because I read my blogroll in ABC order and that was the first blog I came to that had posted this meme.

21. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FLOWER?
I like tulips.

23. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEAL?
I like breakfast food, but it's a special occasion when I go out and have breakfast, or at least an occasion that requires planning. Usually I just drink a lot of coffee.

24. DESCRIBE YOUR PJS.
A crappy t-shirt and a pair of shorts.

25. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BREAKFAST?
Cheese omelet, potatoes and buttery toast.

26. DO YOU LIKE YOUR JOB?
Sure.

27. WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB?
To teach comp.

28. WHAT AGE DO YOU PLAN TO RETIRE?
When I'm dead.

29. WHERE DID YOU MEET YOUR SPOUSE OR SIGNIFICANT OTHER?
I don't have one.

30. SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO THAT YOU HAVE NEVER DONE BEFORE.
Teach comp. :)

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can it be spring break now?
I am jealous of all of you who have either had or are currently in the middle of your spring break. Mine is not for another TWO WEEKS. Argh. It runs from March 28 - Apr 1, although I suppose for me it's from March 23 - Apr 4 given my schedule plus the weekends. Since I have a real job, spring break just means that I don't have to go to class on three days. But still, it's a definite psychological difference!

I plan to use that time to finish my AmNovel essay, aka "grad app writing sample," which I've been working on. I had a good weekend of thinking and note-taking. I'm not concerned about the actual writing of it, just the note-taking and general structure. But I got the general structure all worked out in a phone call with my SMART FRIEND, which had previously been a big mental block.

[I should note that she's not my only smart friend. I have several. The way I wrote that sentence seemed to imply that she is the only one I have. Without this note, I fear I would be in deep doodoo when the other smart friends read this.]

Also, this whole blogosphere thing is really cool, since my favorite blogging boy offered to read it and I wouldn't know him except for blogging. Since he doesn't live in my state, I won't be able to see him point and laugh at it, Nelson Munch-style, after he reads the drivel that it will likely contain. That's a key factor to asking for help—not being able to see the teasing that would follow.

Saturday, March 12, 2005
sometimes my brain takes the slow boat
On Tuesday nights, my AmNovel class meets from 7-945pm. The class before it is a grad seminar (Romanticism, and I know this because I often am early for my class and I sit outside and listen to the lecture) and I remember at one point thinking "I wonder who that prof is, because he seems like a pleasant man." Of course, my "conversations" with him have been limited to the following statements, made on different days: "This is Dr. English's AmNovel class," "Thanks for the leftover cookies," and "Does this stack of papers belong to you? The biz students will shred them." (The class is in the Business building)

As I was just thinking about classes next week, I remembered to go look at the schedule to figure out the prof's name. It's "Paul Douglass," which means nothing to you, but what it means to me is "the graduate coordinator, to whom I must hand my essay in approx. 2 weeks." Yeah, good to know. Guess I don't have to email him with a question, I can just ask him during classroom-change chit-chat.

S    L    O    W.

the right frame of mind

Today is "try to get into a humanities frame of mind and work on an essay" day. I hopped in my car and headed over the hill to Cafe Pergolesi, to read a book while sitting on an old ratty (comfy) couch in a big old (1886) Victorian house. I really am much more comfortable in Santa Cruz than I am in San Jose. I think it's because with the exception of the Pacific Ocean being right there, it reminds me of all my favorite college towns back east. Cafe Pergolesi has really good mocha chai.

I read there for awhile, then I went to the wharf to see the sea lions that hang out under the pier (see photo). I also saw a group of sea otters hanging out, sleep floating. Very cool. I wish I had my other camera, not just my phone (and I wish it had been sunny out), so the photos would be better. I was going to go to the really great candy store at the end of the pier, but they weren't open yet. So, I headed home. I printed some journal articles—to the printer at work (they were long and I didn't want to use up my ink cartridges). Then I went and picked them up, and swung by the library on the way, to get copies of articles that weren't available online. I struck out miserably, though—we had none of the journals. Oh well. I can write the essay without them, of course, but I wanted to read them anyway. I will some other time.

I think I've successfully put myself into the proper frame of mind, and now I just have to get some work done!

Friday, March 11, 2005
how to vastly increase your digital music library, in one two easy steps
1) Get a BitTorrent client, if you don't already have one. BitTorrent and Azureus are popular (I use the former). While you're at it, don't forget to write "donate some cash to torrent-client creators" on your notepad.

2) Go to Fest4Pod - SXSW On Your iPod® and grab a 2.6GB torrent of the entire SXSW 2005 Showcasing Artist mp3 library of over 750 songs! (Then, get the update that has 20 more!)

[Via seeker, who may be done with the download in a few days (ouch), but mine should only take about five hours, and I don't even have spiffy DSL, just normal DSL.]

technorati tag:

who needs the Star Wars EIII trailer when you have a good parody?
Via my buddy, who has no blog but if she did would out-snark the snarkiest bloggers out there, this link:

By Dominic Nunziato...

Darth Vader: On The Dark Side, set to the tune of John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band's "On The Dark Side" as heard in Eddie & the Cruisers.

awesome CSS article
Jeremy Keith has written an article, "CSS Based Design", that I wish I had written...because it's SO VERY GOOD.

Actually, I have "write a blog post on minor things re: CSS that would be helpful to bloggers who have no idea what CSS is all about but have to use it to futz with their templates" on my list, and it's a totally different article than Keith's, but hell—his is written and mine is just a thought in my head, buried under a longer list of shit to do.

So yeah, anyway, his article is really great. [via the css weblog]

technorati tag:

friday random 10 (it's back)
You know the rules: do a Party Shuffle or Randomizer or whatever you want to do, in your digital music player of choice.

- "Just Might (Make Me Believe)", by Sugarland, from Twice the Speed of Life
- "Phil Ochs", by Josh Joplin Group, from Useful Music
- "Western Eyes", by Portishead, from Portishead
- "Risingson", by Massive Attack, from Mezzanine
- "Tonic", by Michelle Malone, from Home Grown
- "Amazing", by Madonna, from Music
- "Slither", by Metallica, from Reload
- "Bad Things", by Tricky, from Pre-Millennium Tension
- "This Years Love", by David Gray, from White Ladder
- "Everloving", by Moby, from Play

bonus friday cat blogging - gus (the cat) and sam (the baby)

gus (the cat) and sam (the baby)
[click to embiggen]

Gus has claimed Sam
as his own. Of course,
he'll have to share
with the other cat!


Uh, not my kid and not my cat. They both belong to my cousin.

friday cat blogging - deuce, on patrol

deuce, on patrol
[click to embiggen]

Deuce keeps watch at the back door,
for all those wayward finches and ducks
who wander onto the patio.


Thursday, March 10, 2005
amazing grace: jeff buckley
Last night, I went with my buddies to a screening of Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley, at Cinequest. This was one of those situations that as soon as my buddy saw it was going to be at the festival (this was the first West Coast showing), we planned to go. The day tickets became available, we got tickets. It was a spectacular 61 minutes. After the show, the conversation went something like this:

Me: [sniffling]
Pal: Do you have a cold?
Me: No, I have crying.
Pal: Oh [...] But you knew how it was going to turn out, didn't you?
Me: Yes.

I didn't know Jeff Buckley when he first came on the scene (92/93ish) and when he died (97) it was during my "i hate music and won't listen to it" phase, so I missed out on him then as well. A few years ago my pal told me to listen to him, and I did, and I was glad.

I don't listen to his stuff all that often, because it makes me so very sad. But I really do think that his CD, Grace, would be my choice for "if you could only play one CD for the rest of your life, what would it be?"

technorati tags: ,

Wednesday, March 09, 2005
shelter animals—a photo set

sad
sad, originally uploaded by kreet.
From the Flickr Blog comes a link to one of kreet's photo projects: Shelter Animals.

Go see them all.


customized, annotated Google Maps
It's no secret that I love Google Maps, and yesterday Engadget posted a HOW-TO for making your own annotated Google Maps. The author of the HOW-TO got the idea for it after seeing a screencast of an annotated walking tour through Keene, NH.

The HOW-TO is really well-done, and if you're reading this and have a particularly technie frame of mind (pjm, that means you) I recommend reading it and futzing with it, especially if you have a lot of lovely photos of faraway places and think XML is cool.

So what's a girl to do when she doesn't really have interesting photos and never goes anywhere? Why, she comes up with an annotated map of a few points in her hometown, and a few points in her college town. Not spectacular in anyway, but it gave me something to do.

In order to experience the demos below (or at the HOW-TO), you will need to:
- Use Firefox
- Install the Greasemonkey extension (click link, install it, restart FF)
- Install the Google Maps User Annotation Script (right-click on link and select "install user script")

There are even more hacks for this functionality that are cross-browser and what not, but I didn't take the time to do that. Obviously in this state there are usability things that would have to be worked around for it to be a useful tool in "the real world", but it's only meant as a proof-of-concept and the HOW-TO does a good job of dealing with the concept.

To use the demos below:
- After your browser is set up, click one of the images below to go to an annotated map.
- Click the "Display Points" link in the upper left
- You will be taken to the specific mapped area
- Mapped points appear on the map, and links to the points are in the right-hand column.
- Click on a mapped point to see expanded information
- When viewing the mapped point info, click the "picture" link to see a photo of the area, that I personally took (whoo hoo!)

example 1: lewistown PA
[click to view annotated map of hometown]
example 2: staunton PA
[click to view annotated map of college town]


technorati tag:

Tuesday, March 08, 2005
you know it's a special day when...
Google makes an alternate logo.



(It is International Women's Day.)

Monday, March 07, 2005
do NOT fuck with the Girl Scouts
I was a Girl Scout for several years. No really, I was! I went to camp and everything (and it was horrible, but that's another story). I was big on the cookie-selling, although I think my dad sold most of the cookies for me. Although I haven't been a Girl Scout for more than twenty years, I've been a cookie-lover all that time.

In case you haven't seen the mobs of girls in Brownie uniforms outside your local supermarket/wal-mart/whatever, the cookies have arrived for this year. Since none of my friends have girls in scouting, I rely on these mobs for all my cookie needs. Typically I get my cookies outside the Starbucks in the strip mall that houses my Whole Foods, and this year was to be no different—or so I thought. I did my WF shopping, put my groceries in the car, then went back to the cookie table and dutifully bought my box of Thin Mints. Then I went into Starbucks, and as I was ordering my drink I saw the security guard talking to the cookie mom.

Actually, I saw the security guard gesturing wildly and pointing vehemently at some clipboard which presumably held some very important security-guard papers.

The security guard was FUCKING WITH THE GIRLS SCOUTS, of his own accord, because they weren't on his list of approved solicitors (never you mind that two non-Girl Scout and decidedly annoying little scammers were at the opposite end of the sidewalk, soliciting without being hassled), or some such nonsense. Bear in mind that not one merchant had complained, and in fact several WF and SBUX employees were quietly forming a little group around this crazy man who was hell-bent on denying us all our cookies, ready to spring into action and defend the honor of the 8-year-olds selling crack cookies to the masses. He then said he was going to go call the police.

Yeah, because in San Jose, the cops really want to spend their time busting a bunch of Brownies.

What ended up happening was that all the people milling about bought extra boxes of cookies, so the girls were sold out for the day. HA! HA on you, Mr. Un-American security guard who doesn't understand that the Girls Scouts and their followers are not to be trifled with!

Sunday, March 06, 2005
sleepy sunday cat blogging

Since I didn't do Friday Cat Blogging (I was out of town), here's some Sunday Cat Blogging.

As you can see, my cats are VERY BORING. These two black lumps of fur are Deuce (left) and Max (right). Not that you can see any of their features, since they're just curled up and asleep.

I did some blankets in the wash on Saturday, and this is what happened when I took them out of the dryer and placed them on the ottoman for a moment. It was only going to be for a moment, but who can resist soft, warm blankets? Not my cats, apparently. They've been on this little pile for nearly 24 hours, with only a brief break for eating and pooping. Ah, the life of a cat.

For next Friday, I have a great photo all queued up and ready for action...stay tuned!

Saturday, March 05, 2005
i was on a top-secret mission to a strange land
No Friday shuffle or cat blogging, I was not in my town and I did not take my computer (!!). I met up with a buddy for lunch and coffee, taking the ENTIRE DAY OFF in the process. I talked to my boss twice during the day, and she laughed at me and informed me that I don't know how this "day off" thing works, because you're not supposed to call the office, rather you're supposed to let them call you. I said "but what if you were trying to call and couldn't reach me? what then? I had to check!" and that's when the laughing at me ensued.

Thursday, March 03, 2005
distributed proofreading
Idiotprogrammer mentioned he has "volunteered to do proofreading for the distributed proofreading project," which is a part of Project Gutenberg. I'm a big fan of Project Gutenberg, and I don't know why the heck it didn't dawn on me to follow the big fat "VOLUNTEER" link. Sometimes I'm a little slow.

Anyway, I've registered as a proofreader and will go through the little training/testing process. It will be a good thing, contributing in this way.

the response to the cheating issue
Well, at least it's off my conscience. This is the prof's response to my e-mail:
I appreciate your message. I know that the language may suggest something serious but I doubt if it really was a doubling in since every registered student has to participate in every weekly assignment and it is a pretty tall order; however, I also know that there is no foolproof system. Those who get through a course by cheating, will sooner or later learn the lesson in real life.
I think he seriously underestimates the shittiness of students and just what a large chunk of change can buy, but...not my responsibility. At least he didn't call me a tattletale.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005
cheating in the classroom -- please weigh in
I've done a lot of crappy and morally suspect things in my life, and I know I have an inconsistent set of guiding principles, but in general I try to do "the right thing." No really, I do! Those of you reading this who know me in real life -- especially those who have known me for a long time -- you can just keep your snickering to yourself.

I'm not a big fan of cheating in the classroom. In one of my classes at SJSU, I'm in a group with someone who has actively participated in cheating -- taking a class for another student. The class in question is the capstone course for graduating seniors in the Business department. I am currently taking the online version of it, and one of the students in my group (it's ALL group work, argh) has said on numerous occasions things like "when I helped my friend with this course last semester, blah blah blah." Now, it's perfectly reasonable to assume that this fellow literally just helped his friend, by helping the friend study or what not. But then he said this, today:
If u guys haven't notice we are going to have our midterm two weeks from today. I was wondering if u guys wanted to study for the midterm together, like meet up some place. I took this online class last semester for my friend and basically I went through the whole midterm and final ordeal already. I know how his tests are like: it's hard and very detail. Let me know if u guys wanted to do this, asap would be great.
Let's focus on the statement "I took this online class last semester for my friend..." In my world, this student would be thrown out of school and the other student retroactively failed. But the other student has already graduated -- probably why he figures he can just say shit like this in the WebCT-based discussion group, which the prof reads and get away with it. It seems to violate sections 1.1.6/1.1.7 of the school's academic integrity policy (in addition to being just plain uncool and wrong).

What I want to do is bring his comments to the professor's attention. What do you think?

Imagine pages of essay-question responses, very much like the quoted message above, times six. That's what I have to edit each week, before I turn in our "group" response. It takes about six to eight hours for me to edit and fact-check and essentially rewrite the entire group's work. That's my task every Sunday. It's like penance for something.

UPDATE: Convinced that I wasn't alone in thinking the student is an idiot and a cheat, I sent an email to the prof. Whew. Off my mind.

i AM a Yankee, still
Found via stag (64% Dixie although I like her anyway) we have the "Are You a Yankee or a Rebel?" test, based on word usage.

This is a particularly cool thing, because for each question it specifically tells where the usage is commonly found. For instance, for the question "How do you pronounce creek?", the possible answers are: a) Rhymes with meek b) Rhymes with kick c) Either d) Don't Know. If you pick (a) it says "Common throughout the entire United States," as it is. If you pick (b), as I did, it says "Runs through a band from Pennsylvania to Michigan and Minnesota," which is exactly where I'm from (the PA part). At the end you can compute your score, to see "how much Southern blood your language shows."

I am a Yankee (44%)..."Barely into the Yankee category." [It would have been 52% or "just above the Mason-Dixon line," if I had answered the question about addressing a group of people using the way I do it now (you all) instead of how I was raised (youns).]

While disappointed the percentage is not lower (and therefore more Yankee, less Southern), I do understand: I've spent (approx) 5 years in VA, 2 years in NC and 9 years in CA, compared to 15 years in PA.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Bitch Magazine's benefit auction
Via SFist comes word of a very cool (online) auction that will start on March 6th. Cool stuff at low starting prices. I always forget how much I like some of the work by these folks.

i think this line's mostly filler
This is just a post so that "today sucks" isn't the first thing you see when you come here. Today sucks less, but not that much less. Had a good chat with some folks who run the online school where I teach my course, and we thought of some good educational things to try out, and also more about a workshop that I want to write (HTML form basics...you'd be amazed at the people who fancy themselves "web designers" but couldn't describe the basic form elements, what they do and how they're used. Not that it's a pet peeve of mine or anything (it is)) as well as some other things. They're such nice folks. I also got most of my Tuesday reading done after class last night (just ch 1-19 of Huck Finn, so it's not it was Foucault or anything. I was reading Foucault this morning for a little bit, until I realized that I either a: didn't have enough coffee or b: had too much coffee to continue on. Yeah.) Anyway, I meet with AmNovel prof before class tonight, so mental note to jot down a few coherent sentences about the paper topic. Oh, and there's my actual workday...and it's billing day (which means get all my time in the time-tracker for the last week)...and start-of-the-month day (which means do all the little adminy things I do with regards to logs and data and other stuff).

Yeah, exciting stuff here.

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