No Fancy Name
Saturday, April 30, 2005
end-of-semester reading
We still have two more weeks of classes, then finals week. This means four more novels for me (and various b-school reading, but's not like that requires an engaged brain). However, they're very short and enjoyable novels...and I couldn't be happier!

For instance, I just read Slaughterhouse-Five and in a little while I'll read The Code of the Woosters. Come on, those are great choices at the end of the semester! Next weekend, for the last week of class, I'll be reading The Optimist's Daughter and Lucky Jim. Good times.

Friday, April 29, 2005
hitchhiker's guide not so great
Then again, I didn't expect it to be. You can't shove all those books into an hour and fifty minutes and expect people to "get" it, and if they don't "get" it then it's just one of those films that my buddy calls "a fine, fine film." For instance, Dumb & Dumber is an example of a fine, fine film. Then again, she considers Starship Troopers to be a fine, fine film and it's one of my all-time favorites so...what was I saying? Oh yes: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is not so good.

- Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, good job
- Mos Def as Ford Prefect, good job (I like him a lot)
- John Malkovich as Humma Kavula, very good
- Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox, good
- Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin...outstanding! And I do care.
- Zooey Deschanel as Trillian, not my favorite

I would rather have gone to see Sin City.

who wants to know...
I have a post to write in response to Dr. Free-Ride's comment "So one day you'll explain to me why you're taking business classes?" which is a really good question...

Anyone want to know anything else? Anything else, that is, that can't be answered by "42."

I reserve the right to use a different nick and leave a comment for myself, so I don't look like I'm alone in the world!

UPDATE ok, ok, the "why did you come to california" question is on the table, too, thanks to David and his extreme-linking in the comments.

friday random 10 - a good, solid playlist
You know the rules: do a Party Shuffle or Randomizer or whatever you want to do, in your digital music player of choice.

This is a really cool playlist—I'm listening to it now. Good job, iTunes randomization routine!

- "Small Time Shot Away", by Massive Attack, from 100th Window
- "Talked" by New Mongrels, from Big Cup of Empty
- "The Saga", by The Libertines, from The Libertines
- "What Do I Do Now?", by Sleeper, from The It Girl
- "All I Want Is Everything", by Jellyfish, from Bellybutton
- "Your Flesh Is So Nice", by Jeff Buckley, from Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk
- "Porcelain", by Moby, from Play
- "Please Stay (Once You Go Away)", by The Twilight Singers, from She Loves You
- "We Walk in the Dream", by Live, from The Distance to Here
- "Electric", by Luscious Jackson, from Fever In Fever Out

Recently, I've been thinking that I might have an actual planned playlist forming in my head. When I finish it, I'll post's estrogen-heavy, but in a good way, not like a Britney Spears way.

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friday cat blogging - baby pictures edition

I took this photo in the summer of 1993, when my boys were still kittens and we lived in Durham NC. They looked up at me, mid-play, and I snapped the photo.

You can tell I kept this in my wallet for a long time, because it's all scratched and creased and has sticky crap on it. But I love it just the same.

Toby, the orange one (trust me, he's orange), lived until this past February. Max is still here.

Thursday, April 28, 2005
today's time-waster

Another link via my buddy, who "has a blog in her head" so she tells me. I tried to tell her that a blog is her head is not a blog that we can all enjoy...

Anyway, if you have a few hours to kill, you can get lost going through the creatures in my head. Not my head, but some fella's (Andrew Bell) head. Very cool. He just...draws creatures. Go to the site, then hit the "random" link, and keep doing that for hours and hours.

Explore his creatures, the site, and even the store, where you can get cool shirts and what not. My buddy ordered this one, because (as she says) she does like her toast. I ordered the triplets of hellville shirt (albino monkey was sold out in my size, bummer). Fun for all!

MA program acceptance letter?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005
i think i'm mostly filler
Yeah, you know that nomination from the other day? winnah!

This is how I envision the conversation went, between my AmNovel prof and the prof who judged the "competition":

Judge: Honey*, no one has written a paper on American Literature this year.

My Prof: Hmm. Well, I have a student that had to write hers early, and it doesn't completely suck.

Judge: Have her submit it.

My Prof: Ok [emails Julie]

[Julie hands in her paper the next day]

Judge: Hey, it has a thesis statement and it doesn't have typos! We have a winner!

[English Dept lackey calls Julie, says there will be free food at the reception and wouldn't I like to be there? Julie says "heck yeah" because of the free food.]

Did I mention that my AmNovel prof is married to the Prof who judges this prize? No? Oh well...

trailer available for serenity

My lovely boss IM'd me this morning to tell me that the trailer for Serenity is now available. Hie thee hither! We recommend the full screen version. I played it over and over and got the same amount of goosebumps each time.

I totally cannot wait until September 30th to see this film. As much as I love the Star Wars franchise, what with the growing up with it and being an Ewok for halloween in 1983, I think I am more stoked to see Serenity than Revenge of the Sith.

If you have no clue what I'm talking about, I recommend this DVD, immediately.

Oh, and today is my blogiversary. This whole blog is Mel's fault. Thanks, buddy!

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recipe: coconut-curry shrimp over rice

I am a sucker for anything with shrimp in it. Boy oh boy do I love shrimp. Love it. Love. It.

This recipe is from the May 2005 issue of Cooking Light and it is really good, really quick and really quite tasty.

Coconut-Curry Shrimp over Rice [recipe follows]

1/4C coconut milk (the recipe said "regular coconut milk offers the best flavor for this dish; the taste of light coconut milk is too subtle" and I think that's true but all I had handy was light milk and it tasted fine)
3T finely chopped red bell pepper
1T minced fresh cilantro
1 1/2 T fish sauce
1T fresh lemon juice
1t sugar
1t curry powder
1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4C water
3C hot cooked basmati rice
4 lemon wedges (optional)

Combine first seven ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add shrimp; seal and marinate in fridge for 30 minutes, turning the bag occasionally. Place shrimp mixture in a 10-inch pie plate (this is for steaming purposes).

Open a small metal veggie steamer and place upside down in large wok or other deep pot. Add water, bring to simmer. Place pie plate on top of inverted steamer. Cover and cook for four minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove pie plate from wok (wear mitts, it will be very hot).

Serve over rice, optionally with lemon wedge. Garnish with cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1C shrimp mixture + 3/4C rice)

NUTRITION PER SERVING: CALORIES 375 (15% from fat); FAT 6.4g (sat 3.3g, mono 0.7g, poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 38.6g; CHOLESTEROL 259mg; CALCIUM 111mg; SODIUM 777mg; FIBER 1g; IRON 6.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 38.3g

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rachael ray's foodie magazine
Some people don't like Rachael Ray, just because she's exceptionally perky or whatever, but I totally dig 30 Minute Meals (one of her shows on Food Network) and have two of her books. They really do only take 30 minutes, unless you're an inept chopper like myself and have to spend extra time with the knife-related portions of the recipe. But overall, totally quick and totally good. I'm not so keen on the $40 a Day show, only because I tip way more than she does and thus I don't think it's terribly realistic. If it were $50 a Day, I'd be all over it.

Anyway, she's going to publish a magazine! Like I don't get enough of those, what with my Cooking Light and Cuisine at Home. But I will definitely get hers. In conjunction with Reader's Digest, the magazine will be called Every Day with Rachael Ray and the first issue will be out August 30th. It's said to have the same theme as Real Simple but with a distinctive Rachael Ray flair. The girl does have flair, that's for sure!


my iPod is iSkin'd

I do not have one of the fancy 4G iPods...mine is a 3G 15GB version. In stores around here, including the Apple Stores, I couldn't find a protective covering that I liked. I had to go to freaking Canada to find one that I liked, that fit my antiquated iPod.

Ok, so I didn't physically go to Canada, but that's where the iSkin folks are, and they had a covering that I liked. Specifically, the eVo, carbon-colored. Great service, quick shipping, all that—it's worth the $29.99 if you take your iPod out with you, everywhere. The skin has a clip, too, which is good because I usually have my iPod in my front pocket, facing inward and clipped to the pocket, so it doesn't slip down into the pocket and become inaccessible and/or look stupid.

The iSkin folks have covers for the 4G iPods, the iPod Minis, keyboard covers for Apple keyboards and PowerBooks, and even have a skin for the iRiver H100 series. I guess because it has an "i" in it. Anyway, two thumbs up.

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Monday, April 25, 2005
unfamiliar territory
Class #1 ended way early, so I'm sitting in the library (SJSU/City of San Jose joint public library) using the Dell desktops, with Internet Exploder, and a screen resolution that's something like 800x600 or some crazy shit.

This is not my beautiful life!

I want my Gateway M675 17" laptop with the 1440 x whatever screen resolution and Firefox. This is crap. Blech!

I think I'll go eat some sushi and drink a beer before class #2. Can you tell this is not literature class day, but business class day? In other words, I don't need all my wits about me.

Thus ends my time-killing post. I've used IE for almost ten minutes now, and I feel like I have to take a shower. <shudder/>

the wee duckies are growing up

The wee ducklings in my pond are growing up!

They still bring me plenty of enjoyment when they kick it into high gear and go scurrying across the pond. It makes me laugh out loud.

They're fearless, too. Well, when someone is throwing food at them (me), of course they're going to come close to shore. When they're sitting in the grass, the wee duckies line up in a perfect little row next to the mama. It's adorable.

you know that AmNovel paper?
The one I had to write early so that I could use it for my MA application? I handed in to the grad coordinator what was essentially a next-to-final draft, because it was due the day after spring break was over and my prof wasn't able to look at it first (she had seen only a meaty outline). Luckily, the internets came to my rescue—no, I didn't plagiarize it or anything—I sent it to Mel to read over, since she's a prof [David, I would have sent it to you too, but you had just posted something about how very very very busy you were that week].

That was a pretty big deal for me, because I've known Mel for a zillion years, since I was a stupid undergrad (the first time) and she was some hotshot overachiever grad student. Not that she's not a hotshot overachiever now...but I digress. Anyway, the point was that I'd never let her read anything I'd written, because I figured once she saw my simplistic and immature blatherings on about literature, she wouldn't want to be my friend anymore. Seriously. I have issues with that. But I also knew that I needed someone to read my paper before it went into an envelope, so I sucked it up and sent it to her. Then I sat around all anxious and she called and I almost didn't pick up the phone. But I did, and the first words she said were not "this sucks and you have no business studying literature" so it was cool.

I made a few edits, handed it in, then didn't look at it again until last week, when my paper conference was scheduled with my prof. While everyone else was coming to her with generic ideas and she was pointing them in the right direction, she sat there in my meeting and read through the entire thing and only made three edits and told me a few sentences I should throw in to make points stronger, etc. She said not to worry that the grad coordinator got the draft version, because "he doesn't know much about American anyway, and wouldn't know if these additional sentences needed to be added." Ha!

Yesterday I got an email from her, asking me to please make my edits ASAP and stick in it Senior AmLit Prof's mailbox, because she's nominating me for the AmLit prize. I've never been nominated for anything, so that's cool.

Sunday, April 24, 2005
i crossed an item off my list...
...that said "make list." Does that count? I've had "make list of house things to deal with" on my list of things to do for far too long (months), but now I have a room-by-room list of things that need to be done. Unfortunately, I'm afraid of the list because it's so big, but I will still put it on my refrigerator and will dutifully cross things off of it.

update: proof of the existence of the list

Friday, April 22, 2005
friday cat blogging - needy max

Max was being needy this morning, as he is every morning...he likes to sit on my left arm while I'm working.

Deuce, my other cat, was by this time sitting at the screen door and watching all the birds and squirrels. I have a very popular patio—I have to refill the bird feeder every three or four days. Makes my cats very happy, knowing they will always have a steady supply of songbirds to watch.

friday random 10 - regular ol' playlist edition
You know the rules: do a Party Shuffle or Randomizer or whatever you want to do, in your digital music player of choice. For the last several weeks, the shuffle results have mirrored my actual listening preferences despite the fact that I don't have iTunes set to spit things out in that manner.

- "Letters from the Wasteland", by The Wallflowers, from Breach
- "Home For Now" by Patrick Park, from Loneliness Knows My Name
- "Streetcar", by Pleasure Club, from Here Comes the Trick
- "One Wind Blows", by Toad the Wet Sprocket, from Bread & Circus
- "Rural Faggot", by Amy Ray, from Prom
- "Trim", by Underworld, from A Hundred Days Off
- "Silly SoSorry", by Bambix, from What's In a Name
- "Heart Shaped Box", by Nirvana, from In Utero
- "Darkening of the Light", by Concrete Blonde, from Bloodletting
- "Happier", by Guster, from Lost and Gone Forever

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Thursday, April 21, 2005
i survived dinner
The other day I mentioned that I'd be going to a dinner with a bunch of people from my publisher (Sams) who were in town for a conference. Well, it turned out just to be three of us: me and the two most important people, my acquisitions editor and the high muckity-muck associate editor. It was FUN! I had never met them in person, despite having worked with them for years. In fact, we'd never even talked on the phone. I love the innawebnets.

Dinner was great, conversation was great, and in a nutshell the blogging book is back on the table. Still first stages and nothing definite—I'm just re-doing the proprosal. I'm pretty stoked.

firefox updates, extensions

Firefox users, you should be using version 1.0.3 at this point. If you haven't already updated, you should see an updates-available indicator in your toolbar. Click it and/or download the new version on your own, run the setup program and you're good to go. You no longer have to remove the old Firefox before installing the new one, as it just takes care of things on its own—all settings, bookmarks, extensions, etc are saved. But if you really want to be anal about it (as I am), you can use the MozBackup program to backup your settings and what not (I also use it to backup Thunderbird).

If you like to customize your browser, you can stay on top of things by grabbing different feeds on this page, which includes the newest extensions, the most popular extensions and the most popular themes for Firefox. Without the "newest extensions" feed, I'd never get new toys.

A few Firefox extensions that I've installed recently (and enjoy) are:

- PrintImage, which simply adds "Print Image..." to the context menu. So, when you right click on an image it just opens the image and the Print dialog box. This just saves a few steps for you, as instead of right-clicking, selecting "view image," then going up to hit the print button or Ctrl-P all you have to do is right-click and select "print image."

- LinkChecker, which checks the validity (should read "HTTP status") of links on any webpage. So, say you go to your monthly blog archive page and want to see if any of your links have broken. Just go to that page, right-click and select "Check Page Links" and be patient. Links highlighted in green are fine, links highlighted in red have problems, links highlighted in yellow are probably ok but you should verify them. Handy!

- PONG! which should be self-explanatory and if it isn't, click the image in this post to view.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005
"didja know about this thing called queer theory?"
One of the fellows in my little posse said that to me tonight. My answer, of course, was "yes..." while my inner monologue was saying "oh, this could go very badly very quickly." See, the fellow is a 57-year-old conservative Republican ex-Navy man.

So I say "yes..." and he says "and I learned about this thing in 1969..."

Me: "Stonewall?"

Him: "Yes! That's the one. Didn't know about that. And I learned that there are entire different groups of people that read things differently than I do."

Me: (still waiting to be told I'm going to hell or some such) "Yeah..."

Him: "My whole brain went 'whoa!' [puts hands to head and makes gesture akin to 'mind-blowing']"

It was SO CUTE.

See, his LitCrit class just got to chapter ten of Lois Tyson's Critical Theory Today, which is "Lesbian, Gay and Queer Criticism." He showed me all the things he dutifully highlighted in The Great Gatsby, and I informed him that I've always been a bad queer, because nine times out of ten I think that the elevator lever is just an elevator lever. He laughed. Then we talked about the multiverse, which has nothing to do with literature, and how stoked we all are that one of our favorite profs is teaching the materials & methods class next semester. It'll be a fun/interesting next couple of years with these folks. I like 'em.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
one step closer
The problem with having one's student records accessible via the innawebnets is that it provides a real-time status of one's pending applications. This means, of course, that I have a little linky that I can click to see if the PtB at SJSU consider me worthy enough to continue my studies at their fine, fine institution (*cough*).

The little linky did not show a status change for several weeks. It was stuck on "complete," meaning "we got your stuff and your fee." The grad coordinator in the English Dept has had my writing sample for two weeks...but no file to go with it. But now it shows "referred to grad dept" which means the Grad Studies Office looked at it and didn't say "you have no business being in graduate school." That's a good thing. [I actually was in a PhD program, a long time ago. I lasted six weeks.]

Tonight, when Dr. Grad Coordinator has to walk past me to leave his classroom (my AmNovel meets after his, in the same room), I will be sending the following telepathic message: "Lemme in! Lemme in! I would like to spend three nights every week from September through December studying materials and methods of literary research, narrative craft and theory, and the development of American fiction from the 19th into the 20th centuries." Or something like that.

In other news, the department just hired two young, female assistant profs. This is good, because the department was slightly skewed toward older, male profs.

In other, other news, it's not too late to submit some crap for the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. I have no doubt that some of you could write some horrific entries! (That's a compliment.)

thought JPII was conservative?
The new pope, Pope Benedict XVI, was his enforcer.

Monday, April 18, 2005
the benefits of being an early adopter
Now that Flickr has been bought by Yahoo! they are giving things away to people who were pro ("paid") account holders back when they were F:AWCGIA. That is, "Flickr: A Wee Company Going It Alone"

So, for my original $41.77 investment, I have a pro account paid up through Jan 2007, AND (here's where you come in) two free 1-year pro accounts to give away. For free. Away. Free.

Anyway. IF you love Flickr as I love Flickr, but didn't purchase a pro account: leave a comment. First two to ask for them gets the prize.

For all you FREE account holders, or people who think they might want to become free account holders, you get things too! I quote: "On Free Accounts the limits will be doubled for uploads and archiving, i.e. 20 MB a month in uploads, 200 photos will be archived and available through the site."


space-time continuum issues
It's a little odd to read Wil Wheaton's blog (a daily read because he's smart and funny) when ST:TNG is on SpikeTV and I have the TV on in the background, tuned to said channel.

For the record, I never hated Wesley Crusher. He was one of the only characters I liked on that show, which says something about me, I think. I'm just not sure what.


i'm not a big conference-goer
In this instance, "conference" means "conferences in my industry, not academic conferences like those discussed by the majority of people who read my blog." Then again, I'd probably not go to many academic conferences, either. Basically, I'm not a big fan of large groups of people, especially when one has to "perform"—presenting a paper or book-signing or any sort of personal interaction. Yeah, that's it. Not a big fan of the personal interaction. Plus, those things are really expensive. Really.

(Incidently, I agree with jo(e) who said "That whole book signing thing is a tradition I'd like to see abandoned." Seriously. While I can understand wanting J.K. Rowling to sign a book, or Bill Clinton (or Hillary), etc I certainly don't understand why anyone would want my stupid scrawl in one of my books. All it does it degrade the resale value because it now looks "used" as opposed to the previous examples, wherein the books become "collector's items." But I digress.)

Anyway, this means I miss out on the cool things that can be found at conferences, which amounts to meeting the zero-point-one percent of people who actually are truly cool and good folks. So, bummer on that. This week is another such occasion, when the MySQL Users Conference comes to town. That's right, I don't even go to the things in my own damn town. See above re: "expensive."

But my publishers always have reps at these conferences, and there's often dinners and what not with all the other authors who are there. I've never met my acquistion/development/technical editors from Sams, and I've written five books for them over the last three years. We all agreed that's pretty pathetic, so I actually will be meeting up with them on Thursday for dinner: something like eight or ten people from Sams and one of me, because the actual author dinner is on a night that I have to attend class. I alternate between feeling special and the target of an inquisition. I hope it's the former.

Sunday, April 17, 2005
recommending some music
Phantom Scribbler included my library of 2,458 songs in her answer to the question "And whose music collection do you covet?"

I'm going to take a moment and highlight twelve of those songs. The twelve songs in question comprise the CD called "Almost 10" by a band called Blue House. Ok, they're a duo and not a full-on band, but the two of them are musical overachievers and play a bunch of intruments, including a mean egg shaker thingy. They've also been playing together longer than I've been alive, which I find so very funny...

- info on the band
- clips from all songs on the CD
- ordering options

Yes, they're iTunes-able, which is ever so cool.

If you ask me "which songs do you like best," I can't answer that. See, if I say "I like the Mar songs," Amy will smack me the next time I her, and if I say "I like the Amy songs," the opposite will happen. One thing is for sure: you'll find yourself humming the tunes after you hear them. Very catchy. They also often make me cry. Damn skilled songwriters.

But I digress. Try 'em, you'll like 'em, and the CD isn't some stupid 32 minute rip-off,'s a good 50 minutes long.

Saturday, April 16, 2005
that thar linguistic profile quiz
Your Linguistic Profile
55% General American English
30% Yankee
10% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern
What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

[via many people]

To answer Mel's additional questions:
- does motorcycle rhyme with "sickle"? no...
- which syllable of "cement" gets stressed? the second
- when you turn on a light switch, do you say that you "flip", "mash" or "burn" it? flip, but to turn off it's "outen" which is PA Dutch
- what do you call the playground equipment that is a plank balanced on a stand: see-saw or teeter-totter? see-saw

And as proof to my friends here in California that I am not insane, Dr. M says in a comment to Mel's post: "A rubber band in Pittsburgh is a gumband." YES IT IS. IT IS. STOP MAKING FUN OF ME.

UPDATE: My buddy says, "gumwhatever. if you don't chew it, it ain't a gumband." Pleh on her.

Friday, April 15, 2005
moby wins...
...a gold star for best cover of a New Order song.

On Hotel, Moby and Laura Dawn cover "Tempation" and it is GOOD STUFF.

friday random 10 - blah blah blah edition
You know the rules: do a Party Shuffle or Randomizer or whatever you want to do, in your digital music player of choice. Like last week, this playlist is fairly representational of what I listen to in the normal course of events...but I don't set my iPod to shuffle based on most-played stuff.

- "Serrated Edge", by The Dead Milkmen, from Big Lizard in My Backyard
- "Satellites" by Doves The Last Broadcast
- "I Hope I Left You Smiling", by Veil, from Mr. Sunshine
- "Fake Plastic Trees", by Radiohead, from The Bends
- "Nobody's Perfect", by Madonna, from Music
- "Crooks", by Pleasure Club, from The Fugitive Kind
- "Speed of Life", by Sugarland, from Twice the Speed of Life
- "Ugly Little Dreams", by Everything But the Girl, from Love Not Money
- "Somewhere", by K's Choice, from Almost Happy
- "Tomblands", by The Libertines, from The Libertines

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friday fish blogging - here fishy fishy fishy!

Four years ago, I decided to get some goldfish. I went to the pet store, as you do, and bought a few "fancy goldfish" which promptly died (well, it took a few weeks, but it was still pretty quick). I was confused, because I didn't do anything wrong with the fish. Then I went to the world's greatest fishie store, Bangkok Aquarium here in San Jose—they have beautiful, clean tanks full of exotic (and "normal") fish, and they also have small furry creatures, frogs, lizards and snakes. Better yet, they have intelligent people running the store!

My fishies don't have names. I just call them "big fish," "bulbous fish" and "skinny fish."

Kate, my co-worker whose birthday was yesterday but that's not relevant to the story, got some 10-cent feeder fish from them, stuck them in a makeshift pond in her backyard, and they grew into big ol' koi. I got three fish from them, almost four years ago, and as you can see in the photo they're happy as could be. Well, if you can't see that just trust me—they're happy fish. I also have a good tank, in that all I have to do is change the filter every two weeks or so, and wipe down the sides of the tank. I change their water when it starts to look cloudy, which isn't as often as you would think.

I almost think these fishies are to the point that I should get a larger tank for them, but I'd keep this tank and probably find another place to put it so that I could have two sets of fishies. The trick to getting fish to live is simple—don't buy crappy fish. Although if I recall correctly my brother once won crappy carnival goldfish and they lived for years, surprising everyone. Oh, and I could never get saltwater fish or fish that required heating, because that's way too much stress and the electricity in my neighborhood goes out at least once a month (or so it seems). But every time I go to the fish store I look at all the exotic fishies and marvel at how pretty some of them are.

happy birthday to david
That's this David. You know, the guy that tries to blog under a nickname (Scrivener) but we all call him David, anyway.

Thursday, April 14, 2005
i think this might be a little bit pathetic
I've picked out the ten seminars I want to take over the course of the MA program.

I have the reading list for the MA comprehensive exams (which I wouldn't take for what, two years?) and plan to get a head start on reading/re-reading things, this summer.

I've planned my schedule for the fall, and got extremely stoked when I saw the prof for the Materials & Methods class is my Victorian and British/Irish Fiction prof—because he's a great lecturer and very funny. I also picked two other classes, one taught by the grad coordinator (nice man and I hear he's a good lecturer) and one taught by the husband of my AmNovel prof (I hear he's pretty good too, and I like her, so...perhaps that's good). The husband of my AmNovel prof is also the TA supervisor, and since I'd like to do that at some point I figure the sooner I make myself known to him, the better.

Did I mention that I'm not even in the freaking program? My application, while complete, hasn't even made it to the English Department yet (although the grad coordinator has my writing sample). That would be the pathetic part.

Hey Dr. Free-Ride, if English doesn't want me, can I come play with the philosophers?

cubs win! cubs win! cubs win!

The Los Altos Little League single-A Cubbies (the Mighty Mighty Cubbies) are off the schneid, having beaten the dreaded Yankees 16 to 10 in four innings. I wonder if we will ever see the day when a Cubbies game goes the entire six and doesn't get called due to time. Probably not. The boys avenged their 21 to 20 loss to the Yankees earlier in the season, and got both string cheese AND donut holes in celebration.

In this photo, a Cubbie discovers his cup. This is the first age at which the boys wear their cups, and often you will find them knocking on the front of it because heck—it makes noise. Or something like that, I dunno...I'm a girl. One youngster (these kids are 5 and 6, for the most part) expressed concern before the first game, to his mother: "Mom, this makes my penis look funny." Meaning, of course, the large cup-sized bulge in his pants. His mother told him not to worry, because all his teammates would be wearing them as well, so they could look funny together. He accepted that and moved on.

Today I was chatting with the sister of one of the boys, I think she's in the fifth-ish grade. She was talking about her school trip to Washington DC and I asked if she went to all the Smithsonians (because I love them all) and she said yes, and they also went to Jamestown and to Williamsburg and to Monticello (basically, they took the historical tour of Virginia). I said that was so cool (Virginia is my favorite state) and her mom interjected "they also went to the University of Virginia" and I started to say "Did you see..." and the girl said "Edgar Allen Poe's dorm room!" and I said "yes!" and then I took a moment to thank the gods that not only is there at least one sixth grader out there who knows about Poe, but also thinks it's Very Cool to see Poe's dorm room. A glimmer of hope remains for the future!

six little ducklings

Despite the freakish blue water, the ducks in the fake pond have multiplied.

Those little duckies are fast! They wander away and then they zoom-zoom back to mom.

So. Very. Cute.

yes, it's a quiz...
But I had to post the results because according to this quiz...

[My] Inner European is Italian!

Passionate and colorful.
You show the world what culture really is.
[edited to add: "ha!"]
Who's Your Inner European?

...which is good since that's where my kin are from!*

[via kmsqrd, who apparently is Swedish]

* except for that pesky other half, which is predominantly German with a little English thrown in.

hackers good, crackers bad
Dr. Free-Ride writes about hearing a story regarding the vulnerability of Bluetooth-enabled devices and the manner in which this news came about: via a hacker who created a device that can exploit this vulnerability. In other words, notice of the vulnerability did not come from the Bluetooth SIG, it came from a man who is the "cofounder of a wireless security think tank" who used his device "only to determine security vulnerabilities, not to actually hack wireless devices to obtain personal information."

This is A Good Thing. Hering is a hacker. Hackers tend to be good. Crackers tend to be bad.

From The Jargon File:
hacker: n.
1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. RFC1392, the Internet Users' Glossary, usefully amplifies this as: A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular.
7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.
cracker: n.
One who breaks security on a system. Coined ca. 1985 by hackers in defense against journalistic misuse of hacker.
While it is expected that any real hacker will have done some playful cracking and knows many of the basic techniques, anyone past larval stage is expected to have outgrown the desire to do so except for immediate, benign, practical reasons (for example, if it's necessary to get around some security in order to get some work done).

Thus, there is far less overlap between hackerdom and crackerdom than the mundane reader misled by sensationalistic journalism might expect.
The response from the Bluetooth SIG was that "so far no security holes have been discovered in the Bluetooth specification itself. Vulnerabilities that have come to light either exploit the Bluetooth link as a conduit, much like the Internet to the PC, or are a result of the implementation of Bluetooth technology within the device—as such, we constantly work with our members to assist in implementing Bluetooth technology more effectively." Dr. Free-Ride says she reads this as "Dude, don't blame us" and that's an accurate interpretation of their statement.

And that's not a bad thing.

Specifications are just that—specs. Companies attempt to implement functionality to specifications, within their products, and quite often in doing so create other issues. But that doesn't mean the spec is wrong and in this example it doesn't mean the Bluetooth SIG is responsible for the vulnerabilities that were discovered in some devices that implement Bluetooth technology in a particular way.

Dr. Free-Ride asks "Is John Hering something like a whistle-blower here? [...] He is sharing information with the public -- information that he things the public needs to know to protect themselves -- that, arguably, Bluetooth is not providing." The basic definition of a whistle-blower is "one who reveals wrongdoing within an organization to the public or to those in positions of authority." If one is to consider him a whistle-blower (which I do not), then he's blowing the whistle on whatever company has implemented a Bluetooth solution in which vulnerabilities have been found—not the Bluetooth SIG. Hering is following the hacker ethic.

If "wrongdoing" is akin to "vulnerable implementations of specifications and/or exploitable software and hardware," then the entire Information Technology industry is ripe for whistle-blowing! Dr. Free-Ride says "But what if putting this information out there leads to evildoers exploiting the vulnerability before Bluetooth fixes it or the consumer has time to switch over to the more secure technology? Is there any way the information can be used for good without being available for evil in a case like this?"

Let's revisit the definitions of "hacker" and "cracker" and apply the two groups to this type of situation. In the IT world, hackers find vulnerabilities (some companies exist solely for the purpose of finding vulnerabilities in software), alert the company involved, advisories are issued and hopefully companies involved have created a software patch or created instructions that will limit the affects of the vulnerabilities, and so forth. For instance, take a look at the latest Microsoft Security Bulletin, in which eight critical or important fixes were issued to users. [Note: If you have automatic downloads turned on, your XP system should have updated itself in the last two days. If you have automatic downloads turned off, make sure to go grab those updates.] The bulletin has an "acknowledgements" section, which is basically "who found the vulnerability and told us about it"—e.g. here's the list of "whistle-blowers" to whom we are grateful. As you can see, they're not "whistle-blowers" in the traditional "Enron is cooking the books" sense. They're people who have invested time and effort into finding vulnerabilities and using their powers for good, not evil—just like John Hering's group.

If one is in the IT business, one will see notification of the vulnerability from the company who found it before they see a fix or an alert from CERT. This allows the administrator to take machines off-line or attempt their own workarounds to limit the exploitation of the vulnerability, before crackers start causing trouble. That's what crackers do—they cause trouble. Crackers will attempt to exploit published vulnerabilities in software, banking on the fact that the vast majority of users and administrators don't patch their software or update their virus software or keep their firewalls turned on.

This goes back to the statement made by the Bluetooth SIG, that security flaws that are revealed "are typically solved by new software builds and upgrades." The "new software builds and upgrades" are those created by the companies who developed the vulnerable software in the first place, not the Bluetooth SIG. Just as the Bluetooth SIG is not responsible for what developers of software for Bluetooth-enabled devices manage to create, the companies involved are not in the business of wrongdoing (bugs are never intended, but they are inevitable, in any piece of software). "Wrongdoing" would only be an applicable statement if the companies, after being alerted of their shoddy software, did nothing to fix it and instead perpetuated the vulnerabilities without telling anyone. In that case, unless you're Microsoft, you're not going to be in business for very long.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005
news flash: work cuts into blogging time
You know, because none of you knew that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
in which the blogosphere turns small (again)
I thought the blogosphere was small when I discovered that Rhonda (itinerant thinker), now in Austria but going back to Pennsylvania soon, taught a class at Penn State that included the daughter of my 7th grade phys ed. teacher.

Today I read this comment over at Mel's and thought, "Hmm, that sounds like..." one of my professors. Thank GOD not one of my b-school profs, because that would just suck, but instead my Philosophy of Science prof from Fall '04. She's very cool, and super-smart, and I liked her class a lot (mentioned in passing here and here). So yeah, one of my profs from a previous semester comments on the blog belonging to the person I've known the longest (outside of relatives), when the two of them are in completely different fields and areas of the country. Small blogosphere. small.

Anyway, I can vouch for the fact that Dr. Free-Ride at Adventures in Ethics and Science is very good at her job. Two thumbs up!

Sunday, April 10, 2005
in honor of the start of baseball season
Just thought I'd remind baseball fans of the hierarchy of suckiness. That is, how to jeer appropriately when hitters are having a multiple-strikeout day.

THREE strikeouts in one game is a hat trick.

FOUR strikeouts in one game is a silver sombrero.

FIVE strikeouts in one game makes you a papal knight (because only the Pope can help you).

SIX strikeouts in one game gets you a toe plate in your locker, because you might as well be a pitcher.

I was reminded of these by Giants announcers Kruk and Kuip, the best local broadcasting team in the business.

national library week AND national poetry month?
National Library Week

Argh! The literacy! I can hardly stand it.

Saturday, April 09, 2005
i can't be the only person who knows about the stickers...
Every time I mention this to people, they look at me like I've given them seeds to a money tree or some such desirable thing.

So, when you go to Starbucks and are getting hot drinks for a bunch of people, invariably the drinks spill when you are driving along. This is also the case for single drinks, if you happen to have a lot of speedbumps along your route. You get the point: the lids have holes in them, foam and what not often comes out of them.


Really. Just ask them for a sticker, which will result in a coffee label sticker or a freshness-day sticker some other sticky-backed paper which you can then very carefully fold over the hole in the lid, thus preventing liquid from spilling out.

This will work for any coffeeshop that uses stickers in their store, and if it doesn't, then you have a lame and non-sharing coffeeshop and should find another one.

all the spanish I know, I learned from Sesame Street
via Boing Boing comes a post by a fellow named Mike called "Sesame Street: 25 Of My Favorite Memories" in which we learn:
Sesame Street has made a Pavlov's dog out of me. I can't avoid it. It's part of my subconscious now. I can't go food shopping without having "a loaf of bread, a container of milk, & a stick of butter" repeating in my frigging head. I'll be 85 years old, & permitting that my dentures are strong enough, I'll still bite into a cookie in such a way that it looks like the letter C without even realizing what I'm doing. And if that's my fate, that's good enough for me.
I feel exactly the same way. "A loaf of bread, a container of milk, & a stick of buttah" runs through my head every time I think about making a grocery list. When the answer to a question is "12," I sing the "12" song in my head. When I get up in the morning and feed my fish, I always call to them: "Here fishy fishy fishy" ... and I'm 31 years old!

So, Mike has compiled a list of [his] 25 favorite Sesame Street moments, and I highly recommend reading his post if you want to spend a moment reminiscing about:

#25: I'm Billy Joe Jive: Super Crimefighting Ace! [I don't remember this one]
#24: I don't know why I keep coming to this place. [This is the one where Grover is a waiter and the beady eyes and big blue head guy is giving him a rough time because he's a terrible waiter.]
#23: Let's sing a song of 10. [I prefer the song of 12.]
#22: Wake up, there! What are you staring at? [The wedding of Maria and Luis]
#21: Noo-ne-noo-ne-noo... [The little wheeled typewriter guy.]
#20: Psssst... hey, bud. ["Wanna buy an O?]
#19: You'll be a mother, & I'll be a father... whoopie!!! [Gordon and Susan adopt a kid; after my time.]
#18: Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip, uh-huh, uh-huh! [The Martians! Love the Martians!]
#17: Don't eat the pictures. [Muppets get locked in a museum, oh no!]
#16: I one the sandbox! [YOU EIGHT THE SANDBOX?!? heh.]
#15: There's no better letter. [The Beatles parody band, The Beetles.]
#14: We used to walk to school together. [Guy Smiley/Sneaker tribute.]
#13: I ran out of clay, Bert. [This is one of my faves, where Ernie takes Bert's nose.]
#12: Pinball Number Count. [The song of 12. When I came to it, I started singing the song with the proper inflection, of course (one two three FOUR five, etc) and then imagine my joy when I found the fellow ALSO wrote it properly. It's the little things in life.]
#11: Out of his secret garden somewhere in New Jersey comes your newest favorite super hero! ["It is I, Captain Vegetable, with my carrot and my celery!"]
#10: Do not try to thank me... I live to serve. [SUPER GROVER!]
#9: Heeeeeeere fishy fishy fishy fishy fishy fishy! [Ernie goes fishing.]
#8: This... is NEAR. [My buddy tells me the Barenaked Ladies drummer always acts out Near & Far on stage.]
#7: Ladies & gentlemen... the Teeny Little Super Guy. [He's teeny. He's super.]
#6: You're not singing the alphabet! [Kermit and a girl sing the alphabet, but the girl always says "Cookie Monster" in the middle of it.]
#5: You didn't tap me, did you, statue? [Bert and Ernie go into an ancient pyramid.]
#4: I'm gonna miss you, Mr. Looper. [The show kills off Mr. Hooper.]
#3: Follow That Bird. [A movie I did not see (I was 12 when it came out, so I imagine I was "too old").]
#2: Put Down the Duckie. [A prime-time special in 1988, which I also didn't see.]
#1: Food! Food! [Snuffy is revealed.]

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Friday, April 08, 2005
who wants free tea?

Yesterday, I received my shipment from Adagio Teas. Mac at pesky'apostrophe had been raving about them, so I went to visit their web site and was sucked in by the video demonstration of the ingenuiTEA teapot, described as "The most convenient teapot you will find anywhere—we guarantee it." I believe them. I've used it several times and I love it.

In my order, I got some liquid sugar (for iced tea), the very cool ingenuiTEA tea-brewing contraption, and sample sizes (2oz, I think) of: golden needle, english breakfast, earl grey bravo, irish breakfast and yunnan jig. Their site has an extensive list of teas and teaware, and the best part is that you can get a $5 gift certificate just by asking!

So, if anyone wants a $5 gift certificate to Adagio Teas, just leave a comment that includes your e-mail address and I'll send one to you.

friday cat blogging - max and the postal service

I always threaten Max with shipment to Abu Dhabi, if he's being bad and/or annoying.

The "shipping to Abu Dhabi" thing is from an old Garfied comic, in which Garfield once tried to ship Nermal to Abu Dhabi.

Then again, sometimes he just knows he's been bad, and jumps into the box on his own.

friday random 10 (run-of-the-mill version)
You know the rules: do a Party Shuffle or Randomizer or whatever you want to do, in your digital music player of choice. This playlist is actually fairly representational of what I actually listen to in the normal course of events. Right now, for instance, I am listening to Concrete Blonde (Bloodletting).

- "Set Me Free", by Velvet Revolver, from Contraband
- "Checkout Line" by Citizen King Mobile Estates
- "If You Can't Say Love", by Visionaries, from SXSW 2005 Showcasing Artist Collection
- "What Katie Did", by The Libertines, from The Libertines
- "Missing [Remix]", by Everything But the Girl, from Amplified Heart
- "Hold On", by Ellen James Society, from Reluctantly We
- "Take a Ride", by Luscious Jackson, from Fever In Fever Out
- "Intro", by Violent Femmes, from Add It Up (1981-1993)
- "Give Me My Anger Back", by Fatboy Slim, from On the Floor at the Boutique
- "Blue Dress", by Depeche Mode, from Violator

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mango! muffins!

Today was mango day in my household. I made the always outstanding Shrimp with Mango & Basil recipe for lunch, then I thought "hmm, what to do with this extra mango?" My next thought was, "I really want to bake something" (baking is a stress reliever). Luckily, my brain was not too far gone and I was able to put two and two together and get a reasonable answer: Mango-Cardamom Muffins!

This recipe is from the November 2000 issue of Cooking Light and boy oh boy are these muffins good! The picture, as usual, does not do it justice. I was trying to ensure you could see the mango-ness. Oh well.

Mango-Cardamom Muffins [recipe follows]

2C all-purpose flour
2/3C sugar
2t baking powder
1/2t salt
1/4t baking soda
1/4t ground cardamom
1C chopped peeled ripe mango
3/4C low-fat buttermilk
1/4C butter or stick margarine, melted
1t vanilla extract
1 large egg
Cooking spray
2T sugar

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (flour through cardamom) in a medium bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Stir in mango. Combine buttermilk, butter, vanilla, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist (batter will be stiff).

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake at 400° for 23 minutes or until the muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans, and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 1 dozen (serving size: 1 muffin)

NUTRITION PER SERVING: CALORIES 187(24% from fat); FAT 5g(sat 2.7g,mono 1.4g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 3.4g; CHOLESTEROL 29mg; CALCIUM 72mg; SODIUM 259mg; FIBER 0.8g; IRON 1.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 32.4g

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Thursday, April 07, 2005
blogger now AUTO-SAVES
Whoo! The next time you login to Blogger, you'll notice the "recover post" link in your typing UI of choice. According to the Blogger guys, Blogger auto-saves as you type, meaning you don't have to do anything extra. Love them. LOVE. THEM.

[via Blogger Buzz]

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a poem (not by me, thankfully)
Here is my contribution to the shared poems popping up in honor of National Poetry Month. All the cool kids are doing it, you see. I'd link to "all the cool kids" but I'm just taking a momentary break from my work and don't have the time to collect all the links. Suffice to say, if you're one of the cool kids you know who you are. If you think you're one of the cool kids and you really aren't, well, you are anyway. It's all very existential, you see.

I can honestly say that if it weren't for this poem, I would never have come to California.

Hidden Water
by Frank Stanford (1948-1978), from Ladies From Hell (1974)

A girl was in a wheelchair on her porch
And wasps were swarming in the cornice

She had just washed her hair
When she took it down she combed it

She could see
Just like I could

The one star under the rafter
Quivering like a knife in the creek

She was thin
And she made me think

Of music singing to itself
Like someone putting a dulcimer in a case

And walking off with a stranger
To lie down and drink in the dark

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005
the lowdown on haloscan commenting for all of you who are wondering aloud
I was going to leave a comment on Phantom Scribbler's post re: wonky comments but I'll tell you, there's this commenting posse that goes from blog to blog and it gives me flashbacks to school cafeterias and not having anywhere to sit because all the cool kids had taken up the tables. So anyway...

Different Account Types. There is free Haloscan ("Basic") and there is paid Haloscan ("Premium"). Basic is free. Premium is $12 per year. That's $1/month for those of you not mathematically inclined. This is an exceptional deal, which is why I will be giving them more than that when I renew my subscription.

Comment Lengths. Comment lengths have been upgraded for ALL USERS. Somewhere around March 25th, the limits changed to: 3000 characters per comment for Basic members and 10,000 characters for Premium members. IOW, 3x the previous amounts.

Comment Archive. If you are a Basic member, after four months your comments will be archived and unavailable to you. HOWEVER, if you upgrade your account at any time, they will be restored within 24 hours or so. Basically, the fellows move them to a fairly static database, then when you pay the move those old ones back to the live database.

Comment Link Numbers—old posts. The comment link numbers will be inaccurate after the 200 most recent comments (for Basic members) or 800 most recent comments (Premium members). The comments will STILL BE THERE if you click the link, but the count will be wrong. So, if you go to the second blog post I ever wrote you'll see the comment count is 0 but if you click the link you'll see that Mel left a comment and it is still retrievable.

Comment Link Numbers—new posts. If your comment counts are wonky in new posts, you can kick the server and update the number. "Kick" is a technical term that means, not surprisingly, "kick," as in "kick start." To kick your counter, go to Haloscan, login, click Settings then scroll down to the bottom of the resulting page and click the "Force update of comment link" link. Then go back to your blog, reload the page, and your count will be correct.

Settings. You have some. In this area you can configure all sorts of cool things (depending on your account type, basic or premium) like custom text for comments, date formatting, time zone settings, etc. The BETA tab shows you some of the very cool things that the guys are working on, like forced moderation, blacklists, TypeKey integration and Gravatar settings. The items will be greyed out if they're not ready/you don't get to play with them yet, etc.

Manage Comments—archive them on your own. You can dump all your comments to a text file that you can then save on your own machine. Go to the EXPORT tab and click the links that are presented; you can dump 1000 at a time. "Dump" does not mean "delete," it just means "dump."

Template Gallery. There's one of those as well. You can change all manner of things in your little comments window.

Where to Go For Help. You can ask me if you want—I don't know the guys or anything, but sometimes hanging out in support forums can be intimidating. Oh yes, there are support forums. You do not have to register or login to read them, and they are very, very helpful on many fronts: you can quickly confirm that wonkiness is not unique to your comments, you will quickly learn when something wonky will be fixed, you can find solutions to other issues and so on and so forth. There are also FAQs.

Did I miss anything? Does anyone want a how-to on trackbacks?

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005
too blue

I'm not blue, the pond is.

I believe the landscapers in my complex added a far too generous amount of fake-pond-cleaner.

This image is not Photoshopped in any really is this color.

google maps with satellite images
As I started to say last night before I zonked out, Google Maps has integrated the satellite imaging from Keyhole into its map application—including driving directions and what not. Here are some examples:
google maps with satellite imaging #1: my house
[click to embiggen]

This is my house.
google maps with satellite imaging #2: the office
[click to embiggen]

This is my office.
google maps with satellite imaging #3: my commute
[click to embiggen]

This would be my commute if I worked in the office.
Embiggening the photos gets you maps with Flickr notes. They're not thrilling or anything, I just really like the "note" feature.

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Monday, April 04, 2005
tree pretty. fire bad.
That's my current level of brain activity. Finished essay today, so grad app is complete (and paper is done for AmNovel class, way before it needs to be). Serious props to Mel for reassuring me that my essay did not suck.

Google Maps now has satellite photos. Guess that's what happens when you buy a digital mapping company. Will show examples tomorrow. It's very cool and the customized annotated maps hack doesn't break, which is neat (it's a little wonky, but whatever).

Now I am going to bed. Must wake up early and edit some stupid business class thing, grade some assignments in my course, work up some pre-proposal-writing questions for my publisher who has an idea for a book for me to write, and start my work week.

Sunday, April 03, 2005
PSA for all new amazon associates
I know a bunch of you put associate links on your blogs recently, so Q1 '05 will have been your first quarter of activity. The question "when do I get paid" is a common one, so take it from an old-timer: direct deposits happen during the last few days of the month following the end of the quarter.

In other words, payments for Q1 (Jan - Mar) will probably be deposited April 28th or 29th. If you selected the "check" option, I think you get those around the same time, but I never went that route and really don't know the specifics. So, if you wanted to plan how to spend the money you've earned, you can count on it around that time.

Here ends this public service announcement. Have a nice day.

a saturday in the life of an incredibly boring person
The other day, kmsqrd did a Q&A post and one of the questions was "If you could/had to spend the day hanging out with another blogger (one you don’t already know), who would it be and what would you do?" For some unknown reason, she picked me. ME? Her answer was: "Though she doubts we'd be friends in real life, I'd want to spend the day with Julie at No Fancy Name. Don't ask me what we'd do, I hate that question." I left a comment that said something to the effect that since I'm the most boring person on the face of the planet, she would have to help come up with things to do. Then Parker popped in and left a comment that made me laugh out loud. He said, "Yes, but I get the idea that Julie would (a) go along with any number of "fun" suggestions, and (b) convince you (us) that she couldn't imagine any possible way she could've had more fun that day, even if it wasn't actually true. Maybe it's that she talks about so many *really different* things that she finds cool, that we figure she'd find a good time in nearly anything." I then replied that that was freakishly accurate. Just ask Mel, because many hours of driving, plus lunch and then coffee (with her), then many more hours of driving, resulted in one of the best days I've had in a long time.

But I digress. Yesterday was THE BEST DAY EVER. What with the blood-giving and the baseball and the passing out and the breakfast and the basketball. Okay, so maybe not the best day EVER, but a pretty good day nonetheless. See, I got to spend outside-the-office time with my buddies, which doesn't happen often. When it does, it makes me very happy. They're such nice people.

Anyway...I had an 8am appointment to give blood, but I couldn't sleep and was up at 6am. I took my laptop to the Peet's nearby and figured I'd spend some time working on my paper (which is due tomorrow and is in a sorry state) before going to the bloodcenter. I fiddled with it for a bit, then went over to the jabby place. I passed the iron test and was dutifully waiting in the chair when my heart filled with dread as I saw who would be doing the jabbing: a newbie. So new that she didn't even have her own nametag or badge—her name was written in black marker on her smock. I was momentarily concerned, but thought it would be alright because a) I have good veins and b) there's a permanent indentation of sorts where they always stick in the needle. I figured she'd follow along. Not so much. (Skip to the next paragraph if you're squeamish). She stuck the fat needle thing in and then paused. No blood, meaning she managed to miss a vein. But the needle was already in so she started moving my arm around and moving the needle around to try to hit something. It didn't really hurt but it was a creepy feeling and I made the mistake of looking over to see what she was doing and—I am not a squeamish person—it made me a little queasy. She finally (thank god) called someone over to help, and they angled the needle and hit a vein, and all was right with the world. I squeezed out my pint, got my cookies and juice and set forth on my next adventure.

The next adventure was a Starbucks run before baseball. I kid, I kid. Starbucks wasn't an adventure. But I was in a hurry because I had just found out that I absolutely had to be at the baseball game by 9am because I was going to be scorekeeper, and if I wasn't there on time, all hell would break loose. Again, I kid. There would be no hell breaking loose. But scorekeeping is a very stressful job. We're not talking about the actual change-the-score-on-the-scoreboard scoring...I mean the actual scorekeeping book, with scoresheets like this. I should probably stop here and mention that the game in question was between the mighty Cubs and the Los Altos Little League single-A minors. In other words, FIVE AND SIX YEAR OLDS. But you still have to score their games like real games, and there was plenty of scoring in this one: it ended up 21 to 20 after 4 innings (they hit the time limit) in favor of the Yankees. The mighty Cubbies lost on the extra point. Oh wait, wrong game.

My buddy Mary is the coach of the mighty Cubbies. Mary's kid is 12 years old and isn't even playing baseball, but Mary is such an excellent coach that she was recruited to coach this team. Last year she coached a t-ball team and this year got the call-up to the big time. We're all very proud of her. In fact, if "professional coach for little kids in all sports" was an actual profession, I think our company would quickly lack one creative director as she changed careers. All the while I was keeping score, my other buddy kept saying things like "you're going to blog about this, aren't you?" and "why don't you take a picture" (I did.) I was convinced she was making fun of me, so I kept saying "shut up!" a lot until our conversation deteriorated to "shut up!" "no, you shut up!" like we we in third grade or something. I still think she was making fun of me, which is why this post is so ridiculously long and pointless. You know, to make the teasing worthwhile. Something like that.

She had to leave the baseball game a little early, to start doing statistics for their boy's basketball game. I left the baseball game as soon as it was over, to go help her, because coach-buddy had to do coachy things with the kids before she could leave. When we all met up at the basketball game (and "all" means the extended posse of grandparents and other friends), we found there was no game as the opponent didn't show and thus forfeited. This meant that our team would play two and a half hours later—just enough time for me to get back home, putter around and then have to drive back. In other words, just not worth it. We decided we'd have breakfast/lunch (brunch, or leakfast, whichever you prefer) and the extended posse declined and dispersed. Then I passed out.

That was not pleasant. I'm not a big passer-outer, in fact I don't remember ever doing it before. I was just standing against my car, got really lightheaded, decided it would be a good thing to sit down and turned toward my car door. I completely lost all control of my body, flung my hand out (holding my keys) against my buddy's car door and just tumbled down. I laid there for a bit thinking "Now, this is nice. The dirt, the asphalt, not needing to stand up, oh crap did I just scratch the hell out of my buddy's door." They said I didn't, but I think I did. I think it's the kind of scratch/smudge that can be buffed out, though, which is good.

I eventually got up, and we went for food, which was a very, very good idea. After food, we still had plenty of time to kill, so I said "hey, isn't there some really great used bookstore in Palo Alto?" and we drove over to it. There wasn't time to shop or anything, I just wanted to see where it was and check it out. (It's Bell's Books on Emerson Street.) As soon as I walked in, I was overwhelmed by the smell of old books—which is a good thing. Since I was only an hour or so removed from the passing out, going up on ladders to really browse was not a good plan, so I was limited to things on the first few shelves. Not to worry, as I found an edition of Tennyson poems that had "Christmas, 1867" written in it (just $24, too). VERY cool, and I'm not even a big Tennyson fan. I knew this would be a great place to shop, another day. The bookstore is next to Mac's Smoke Shop, which is an old newsstand/cigar store with an eccentric fellow at the helm. My buddy stopped in for Beeman's Gum in multiple flavors (including Black Jack, blech) and I got some water, before we headed off to the basketball game.

The basketball game went something like this: after the 1st fifth (there are 5 periods, don't ask) it was twenty-something to 5 (we had the five), after the 2nd fifth it was forty-somehting to 8...and then I decided I needed to go home and take a nap because while I love the boy and want to support him, there wasn't going to be any sort of comeback, and I was very tired. I think I was yawning every two minutes. So I went home, found out the final score was like seventy-something to 18, and crashed hard until this morning.

And THAT'S why my paper isn't done. But I'm off to work on it now.

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Friday, April 01, 2005
podshankers get protection!
I swear, April Fool's Day is one of my favorite times of the year. Not because I'm a prankster (I'm not), but because so frickin' many other people are, and do it well.

Ok, so we all know about the iPod to iPod transfer hack (podshanking) that looks kinda like this:

Well, now you can engage in worry-free podshanking, with the iCopulate:

("Includes one 8oz tube of non-toxic strawberry scented iLube™")

Thinkgeek and April Fool's Day, always good for a laugh.

[podshanking is real, the iCopulate is not]

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friday cat blogging #3 - can you feel the love?

upset at his lack of air time...

Upset at his lack of air time recently, Max decided to lick my arm until I took a photo.

If you click through to the Flickr page, you'll see the note that points out he is clearly licking my arm.

Do you know how difficult it is to take a photo of a cat, licking something, so that the tongue is visible? Way too difficult.

GoogleGulp...right on!

glutamate grape

One of the features of having so many frickin' smart people working for you is that you can come up with outstanding things for April Fool's Day. Like Google Gulp...with Auto-Drink. Auto-Drink!

Not just one page, my friends. There's more:

- From forest to freezer: history
- 4 great flavors: product details
- Frequently asked questions
How to get Gulped?
You can pick up your own supply of this "limited release" product simply by turning in a used Gulp Cap at your local grocery store. How to get a Gulp Cap? Well, if you know someone who's already been "gulped," they can give you one. And if you don't know anyone who can give you one, don't worry – that just means you aren't cool. But very, very (very!) soon, you will be.
When will you take Google Gulp out of beta?
Man, if you pressure us, you just drive us away. We'll commit when we're ready, okay? Besides, what's so great about taking things out of beta? It ruins all the romance, the challenge, the possibilities, the right to explore. Carpe diem, ya know? Maybe we're jaded, but we've seen all these other companies leap headlong into 1.0, thinking their product is exactly what they've been dreaming of all their lives, that everything is perfect and hunky-dory – and the next thing you know some vanilla copycat release from Redmond is kicking their butt, the Board is holding emergency meetings and the CEO is on CNBC blathering sweatily about "a new direction" and "getting back to basics." No thanks, man. We like our freedom.

While I'm sure the lovely guys at Yahoo! have some fine, fine April Fool's Day things, this is a good one. I'm not sure it beats the Google Copernicus Hosting Environment and Experiment in Search Engineering (G.C.H.E.E.S.E.) but it's good.

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friday random 10 (not really all that random)
You know the rules: do a Party Shuffle or Randomizer or whatever you want to do, in your digital music player of choice. Only one song from SXSW, and five others with ties to the ATL.

- "Return", by Texas, from Mothers Heaven
- "Only Time" by Enya A Day Without Rain
- "Come on Inside", by Magnapop, from Rubbing Doesn't Helpn
- "Kronos Unveiled", from The Incredibles soundtrack
- "Not Dead (Yet)", by New Mongrels, from Not Dead (Yet)
- "D.S.F.", by The Oblivious, from America
- "Either Way", by Guster, from Lost and Gone Forever
- "Everything With You", by D:FUSE, from SXSW 2005 Showcasing Artists
- "On Holy Land", by Pleasure Club, from The Fugitive Kind
- "Bad Driver", by Big Fish Ensemble, from I Hate Parties

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friday cat blogging #2: who needs TV?

It's springtime, and nature is all around us. I helped the situation along by hanging a birdfeeder with seeds next to the hummingbird feeder. The result of this is many, many birdies that fly in to the patio area, and many, many birdies and squirrels that hang out underneath, to catch the seeds that drop. A lot of seeds drop.

Those birds and squirrels are wily fellows, always knowing when I have the camera and flying away at precisely the time that I start to take their picture. But this squirrel didn't seem to care. As you can see, Deuce is enthralled by him (or her). She sat at the screen door for twelve hours straight yesterday, watching nature. Often there will be two or three birds at the feeder, and three or four wandering around on the concrete.

One birdie came right up to the screen and I swear the poor cat was going to have a heart attack, she was so excited. She didn't do anything except sit up, as in "what the hell do I do? I know I'm supposed to do something, but there's this screen door here..." Needless to say, the bird was fine, and flew away when it had its fill of seeds.

friday cat blogging #1: deuce owns the laundry

Deuce always wants to be exactly where I need to be. I guess that's love, and I'm cool with that. But yesterday she wanted to be on my folded laundry as I was piling it up.

She settled herself in, and I folded a shirt, asked her to move and she would not. So I put the shirt on top of her...and walked into the next room, got my cameraphone, and she still had not moved. I took the photo. Still didn't move. I ended up folding three more shirts and piling them on top of her until she decided she was going to move on to the pile of folded shorts.

shiny happy polenta

I loooove me some polenta. This recipe is from the April 2005 issue of Cooking Light, and I was a little skeptical at first because I am not a huge fan of sundried tomatoes. I know it's some sort of rule that if you live in California, you must like sundried tomatoes, I went with them in the recipe, and they actually added an important element to the taste, and it was a good one.

Polenta with Spinach, Black Beans and Goat Cheese [recipe follows]

1t olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2C veggie broth (pref. fat-free, low sodium)
1/4C chopped, drained, oil-packed sundried tomato halves
1/2t ground cumin
15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
6oz pkg baby spinach
4C water
1C uncooked polenta
1T butter
dash salt
sash pepper
3/4C crumbled goat cheese

Heat oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Add garlic, sauté 1min or until golden. Stir in broth, tomatoes, cumin and beans, bring to a simmer. Cook 2mins, stirring occassionaly. Remove from heat, add spinach, toss to combine.

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add polenta, butter, salt, stir well with a whisk. Reduce heat, simmer 3mins or until thick, stirring constantly.

Spoon 3/4C polenta into bowl, cover with 3/4C of bean mixture. Sprinkle with cheese, garnish with black pepper.

Per-serving info is: calories 356 (30% from fat); 12g (sat 6.5g, mono 3.6g, poly 1.1g); protein 13.8g; carbs 48.8; fiber 9g; cholesterol 24mg; iron 3.9mg; sodium 674mg; calc 135mg

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