No Fancy Name
Monday, May 30, 2005
finally saw SWIII
I liked it. George Lucas still can't write dialog to save his life, but the man sure can direct little gadgets and what nots. R2-D2 is my hero. Seriously, that's one hell of a droid. Big ups to the Wookiees. I forgot that I knew what Kashyyk looked like because I played the Star Wars: Battlefront video game and that was one of the planets. I had to sell the game back, though, because it became very addictive very quickly. I like the Jedi Knights games better, but no more games for me. Too much other stuff to do.

Anyway yeah—good movie. Of all the mistakes listed here (you'll probably have to click through an ad), I only would have noticed a few on my own. I did notice the young Tarkin, though. I think if I ever get another tattoo (I have plenty, that's for sure), it might be R2-D2. Or Yoda. Because come on...YODA!

Friday, May 27, 2005
more about completing college-level sentences
In a short post below, I made a remark about an instruction on one of my finals: "Write in complete sentences organized into coherent paragraphs." In the comments, both Caleb and David expressed frustration about what to do when students can't complete college-level sentences. I certainly don't have an answer. But I know I'll need to figure out an answer eventually, and I know I must do my part to fix the problem, whenever possible.

In one of his comments, Caleb said "Many of the students in the particular class I'm talking about are middle-aged continuing ed students--mostly staff members at the University who are able to take night classes towards an undergraduate degree. They are some of the most motivated students I have ever had, but many of them cannot write at the college level" and then asked "Is it really my job to penalize them severely?" My current thought is this: yes, with an asterisk. I say "current thought" because obviously I have not had the experiences in academia that all of you (profs) have had. I've just been a student, although recently I've been a student who tried to help her peers with this very issue.

A lot of students at my current school fit the middle-aged continuing-ed mold. But even if they're taking a non-traditional path toward a degree, they are required to meet the same general ed requirements as other students. For upper-level courses that means they'll have taken three composition-like classes, and they'll have passed the Writing Skills Test (72 questions about grammar and the like, plus answering an essay question). In other words, they should know how to write in complete sentences. But remarkably enough, I've seen more than a few people fail to write a decent essay in literature courses. I've also seen these people passed on through, which gives them a false sense of their abilities. In turn, when they arrive in a course such as the AmNovel course I just took, with a very good prof with high academic standards, they fail miserably and blame the teacher. It's not the fault of the teacher, though—it's the fault of the system that let them get to that point in the first place.

I admit, I don't have the foggiest idea how people learn to write. I don't even know how I learned to write, such as I do. Whatever people learn how to do in high school, I don't know because I didn't go. I took one composition course in college, but it was a sort of transition-to-college-composition course for the program I was in, and it didn't count on my transcript so I never really went to it. I never took the actual for-credit composition courses...I just sort of weaseled my way into the literature courses and no one ever noticed I never took comp (or that I took all the classes out of order, heh). My only vivid memory of being taught how to write was in the history courses I took, with one particular prof. She was hard core with regards to argument, structure, and grammar, and I really do owe my skills (such as they are) to her. In fact, I'm reading her book right now, The Portable Queen: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Ceremony, and the similarities between our writing styles are visible (to me, at least). Style, that is, not content. The other person who helped teach me to write was my philosophy prof at the same school. These were (are still, I'm assuming) really great teachers.

But not everyone has the luxury of going to a school with nine hundred students (total) and dropping in for one-on-one meetings with faculty who always have time for "teaching moments." So, what's to be done with the people who manage to slide through doing mediocre work, thinking they're just fine, and then all of a sudden have to be told not to forget to write in complete sentences? In my AmNovel class, for instance, everyone hated the prof—except me. They thought she was a great lecturer, very good at bringing everyone into the discussion, but had "unreasonable expectations" with regards to written work. I didn't think that at all. I thought she had standards appropriate for an upper-level literature class, and every single thing she wrote on my journals and papers was valid and much appreciated. Contrary to popular belief (of the students in the class), I didn't get an A on everything. I got a C on a journal because I completely missed the point. After I read her comments, I was astonished that I got a C. I would have given myself an F for failure to figure out the point. But other students would get Bs and Cs and even Ds and immediately say "but I've always gotten As on papers in other classes." "Fine and dandy," I would say to them when they complained, "what did she say when you went to clarify her comments on your paper?" No one went to get clarification, for the entire semester. They just kept bitching about how they didn't understand why they got [x] grade. I offered to help. I said I'd read their papers first, give them tips and so forth. No one took me up on it, really...they'd show me their papers right before they handed them in and in my head I would think "this is a C paper." But still, no one went to the prof or to the writing center or to anyone who was willing to help them learn.

It's a good thing this is just a blog post and not an essay, because I'd give myself a low grade for lack of thesis and shoddy structure. I'm sure the grammar is a mess, too. But the question still remains: how much do you penalize people in courses when complete sentences (and non-bulleted papers) are assumed but aren't the reality? For me, the question is "how do you help your peers in the MA program to write actual scholarly essays, not book reports?

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quick hits
I still haven't seen SWIII.
Tonight I'm going to play bocce with some school chums...and one prof (British/Irish Fiction and Vict Lit guy).
The Los Altos Little League single-A minors Mighty Mighty Cubbies are on a tear, winning their last three games. I think it's more like a slight rip than a whole tear, but we'll take what we can get.
I got all stoked yesterday because rhubarb finally showed up at Whole Foods. I had been waiting for weeks for it to get there, so I could make Rhonda's cobbler. It was great! I mentioned to my buddy my excitement at getting rhubarb (yes, I lead a boring life) and she said I should tell her mom. Apparently, when my buddy's mom was a kid in Scotland, they used to get rhubarb as a treat. A treat! According to my buddy: "take a paper cone, fill it with sugar and dip a piece of rhubarb in it. it's like poor man's lik-m-aid." Heh. I tried some like that and...damn! that's hardcore tart. I prefer my rhubarb cooked up in sugar until it's significantly de-tartified.
If I lived near Mel, I'd be helping her move today. I'm glad I don't live near her, just this once—it's hot out. But when I did live near her, I didn't help her move, so I feel bad about that. I was raised Catholic. We have lots of guilt.
Every bird in the county comes to my birdfeeder, but the squirrels stopped coming because I moved to crappy (cheap) birdfood. I've also found that birds tend to knock the crappy birdfood out of the feeder more easily than the good food, so I have a sloppier-than-usual patio. The landscapers for the condo community use their leaf-blowers on it every Tuesday, for which I am grateful, but I think I'll just go back to the good food and rely on the squirrels to pick up the fallen food.
Male mallard ducks are mean sons of bitches. They chase the female ducks all over the place and cause a great deal of ruckus. Also, the six wee duckies are almost all grown up. The other mama duck who recently had two ducklings, well...there's only one baby left. Something happened to the other one (I don't know what) and there's only one little fella following her around. Very sad.
I know I haven't Friday-cat-blogged for awhile, but really, my cats haven't done anything besides sit around and watch birds. They're very low maintenance...and low activity.
Tomorrow it's time for my every-56-days bloodletting. I hope I have enough iron in my system.

why I got that second bachelor's degree (in business)
[Technically grades aren't in yet, but classes and finals are over so I'm done with the b-school. Below is why I did it in the first place. This bit of the story sort of follows the tale of why I came to California.]

I am not a big fan of the corporate world, never have been. My first co-owned business failed miserably for a number of reasons not the least of which was mutual stubbornness, lack of funds, and lack of a clear plan. We had a vision, and we had clients, but that's about it. While we were making a go at that business, we still worked "real" jobs—together, actually. She was my "manager" at that job. Eleven years later she's still my "manager" but at a different company—one that she and her partner and another person own. I put "manager" in quotes because I'm not an easily managed person and the only person who really invokes the authoritarian aspect of her position is me, when I'm being a jerk, as in "you're my fucking boss, you make the choice." Yeah, I'm a real peach to deal with. I still don't know why she does it.

But I digress.

The company where we originally worked together was run by more than a few idiots and tyrants. I have a problem with idiots and tyrants, as should most people. They had a problem with me. Well, with us, really—me, my buddy, her partner, some others. The idiots and tyrants one day decided to walk us out. Smooth move, removing the web-related portion of your company, when All Things Web were beginning to take off in these parts ('97-ish). Anyway, my cohorts went on and formed a company (the company I work for now, actually) and I went off and worked technical writing contracts for a few years because I wanted nothing to do with working on the technical aspect of things; I don't do well when beholden to people who lack clues with regards to development processes, etc and in the late '90s, many web-based things were built backwards, and many of them failed. I moved to Virginia for a year, worked in Richmond (on a project at Capital One which was headed by about a nightmarish waste of millions of dollars on projects spearheaded by managers lacking any semblance of a clue) and DC (for what would have been a cool job if—noticing a trend here?—the person in charge wasn't completely psychotic) and by 2000 I had my fill of the corporate world. Many years of working with and for complete idiots, with no sense of how to plan/operate/finish tasks, it just really got to me.

So I made up with my friends in California (we hadn't been pals for several years, for various stupid reasons) and came back to work with them. While my "manager" is by no means an idiot, the nature of our business almost requires that at some point we will work with some. Luckily, she deals with them directly and I don't have to, but that doesn't mean that we always win, and inevitably we have to do things which make so little sense that it's just...astonishing, really. One very large project was just this type of thing, and it caused a major rift between us. So much so that I left them and went off to build some other thing with the person referred to as Voldemort in this and other posts. That was a fucked up business arrangement, to say the least.

When I exited that, and went back to work with my buddies, I resolved to figure out just what it was that I was "missing" about the business world, the cause of what I perceived to be an industry-wide lack of proper business skills. In other words, I went to business school to figure out just what the hell people in management positions are taught that causes them to make such crappy decisions about projects, planning, organization, rules, timelines, ethics and so forth. One could say that I went to business school to learn how to interact with clients in a better way, but that would be untrue.

Here's what I found during the last three years: people in business are not actually taught to be idiots! Classes in business school actually teach you about organization, management, strategy, ethics, the relationship of businesses to society and so on and so forth. So, the grand experiment didn't actually give me any great insight into the people we deal with on a regular basis, but it did reinforce the things that I thought I knew about planning and processes, and taught me a few things that I did not. It also reminded me that I like literature so much more than business.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005
i didn't mean to do the photo-of-hand meme...

Hadn't planned to do the hand meme (too lazy to gather all the links) but I had my margarita in one hand and my cameraphone in the other, and this just happened. I went out tonight with my buddies (bless them and their season tickets) to the Giants game. The Giants won, and that's a good thing. Yay!

My hand is not really as fat as it looks here. It's one of the rare non-fat things on me, actually. Bad angle.

recipe: mediterranean orzo salad with feta vinaigrette

Last night I wanted to make something for dinner that wasn't too hot or heavy or time-consuming. Lucky for me, the June 2005 issue of Cooking Light arrived in the mail the day before! This recipe hit the spot. It's a totally happy dish.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Feta Vinaigrette [recipe follows]

1C uncooked orzo (about 8oz)
2C prewatch baby spinach, chopped
1/2C chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves
3T chopped red onion
3T chopped pitted kalamata olives
1/2t black pepper
1/4t salt
1 6oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
3/4C crumbled feta cheese

Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain, rinse with cold water.

Combine orzo, spinach, tomato, onion, olives, pepper, salt in large bowl.

Add artichokes, reserved marinade and 1/2C feta cheese to orzo mixture, tossing gently to coat. Sprinkle each serving with remaining feta cheese.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 C salad + 1T cheese)

NUTRITION PER SERVING: CALORIES 338 (29% from fat); FAT 11g (sat 3.8g, mono 2.7g, poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 11.9g; CARBOHYDRATE 52g; FIBER 5.1g; CHOLESTEROL 19mg; IRON 3mg; SODIUM 620mg; CALCIUM 138mg;

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funny (and pathetic) instructions
I'm writing my AmNovel final right now and this sentence (from the instructions) just cracks me up: "Write in complete sentences organized into coherent paragraphs."

It's so pathetic that a prof in an upper division literature course actually has to call attention to the importance of writing in complete sentences. When I saw that sentence in the mid-term instructions I thought she was being funny (or sarcastic, or something) but then I saw some of the work handed in by students and it became less funny and more sad. It's no wonder it's in the final exam instructions as well.

Monday, May 23, 2005
i'm a big lazy slob
I did very little this weekend. I took a final, ignored another (it's not due til Tuesday, so no big deal) and did a little work. I haven't yet written Dr. H's trackback post, although it's on today's list if things go well. I have an exam today at 5:15, not worried about it. It'll probably take about 45 minutes. Whoop de damn doo. I was thinking about going to see SWIII afterwards...still haven't done that.

Basically, all I did this weekend was get a minor sunburn (because I'm an idiot) from Saturday morning baseball followed by soccer and then Sunday afternoon soccer. The "big lazy slob" part comes into play because I was just drained each day from sitting on my butt in the sun. Didn't do anything else, yet I came home and just crashed in front of the TV and watched NASCAR and baseball.

Yes, I like NASCAR, so shoot me. For me, it alternates between stressful, hilarious and relaxing. It's a very good way to zone out for a few hours. When I lived in Richmond, I lived only a few miles from the racetrack and always marvelled at how small it looked from the outside but boy does it look large from the blimp shots on TV. Also, I spent a summer working at a camp for blind people in the wilds of North Carolina, which happened to be smack dab in the middle of Earnhardt land. Not that any of that explains why I like NASCAR, but it does show that I've been more exposed to it than your average person-living-in-California.


Friday, May 20, 2005
looks like I have to root for the Sun
That would be the Connecticut Sun. I've been anxiously checking the transactions this week, hoping that one Jamie Carey would stick on the roster.

I had the absolute pleasure of knowing Jamie briefly, via a mutual friend, when she was still at Stanford but not playing basketball. It was a shitty time for her. Beyond shitty. Hard to get shittier, even. That was several years ago, and things have gotten considerably better for her since then.

If you've followed women's college basketball in the last four or five years, you may know her story. If not, here are the bullet points:
- highly recruited girl from Colorado gets scholarship to Stanford
- girl breaks numerous school and league records for a freshman, wins Pac-10 freshman of the year for '99-00
- girl cracks her head one too many times, has to retire from playing ball during her sophomore year but gets to stay at Stanford as a student
- brother kills self at christmas
- unimaginable family strife back home in Colorado, all the while Jamie is trying to remember little things like where she parked her car
- Stanford says they won't clear her to play basketball, ever, but she can play any sport that requires a helmet. Yeah, because if you get hit in the head with a softball, that's not going to hurt just as much.
- tries a treatment regimen at U of Texas, it works like a charm. Stanford still won't let her play, but in a seriously cool move (and I'm not Tara V. fan), Stanford coach calls Texas coach and says, basically, "here's a star point guard for you, merry christmas"
- Jamie becomes a Texas Longhorn, and for three years I have to root for them and wear that horrible color, instead of rooting for my beloved Duke Blue Devils and their normal color
- The NCAA grants her a 6th year of eligibility, but Texas never manages to win a championship.
- Jamie does well in school; she either has already finished a Master's degree or is well on her way to one.
- Gets snubbed by a bunch of stupid GMs in the draft and is picked by Phoenix, who waived her...and I'm glad because even if Jamie made the team I'd have a hard time rooting for Phoenix.
- Connecticut picks her up, and she made it through final cuts. See story.

When I say I had the pleasure of knowing her, it's not just talk. It really was a pleasure. I've never met anyone who, more than Jamie, deserved to have good things happen to her. Not just because she got hit in the head a lot or because she endured personal tragedy—that happens to a lot of people—but because in addition to that she's one of the most humble, unassuming, driven, smart and respectable people out there. She's one of those people—well, she was when I knew her and I have no reason to think she's regressed—who understands things like respect and sportsmanship and what it means to be a well-rounded person.

In short (well, sort of...) she's one of those people you want to root for, who you want your kids to emulate. A good egg, basically.

super Firefly news!
FIREFLY (FOX) - The Sci Fi Channel has landed the repeat rights to all 15 hours of the short-lived FOX series (and basis of the upcoming "Serenity" feature film). The network’s July schedule lists the series as joining its Friday lineup on July 22 at 7:00/6:00c where it will precede original episodes of "Stargate SG-1," "Stargate Atlantis" and "Battlestar Galactica."

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Thursday, May 19, 2005
Hardware Wars (1978)

Hardware Wars (1978)

Anyone remember this? Because I don't. I was only five. My buddy-without-a-blog clued me in today.

Dude, Chewie is A BROWN COOKIE MONSTER MUPPET. This clip is only three minutes long, but it's a hoot. Real irons as ships. Household appliances as guns. Actual cinnamon buns on Leia's head. Alderaan appears as a basketball. Darth Vader looks like a welder.
Hardware Wars
Consider this clip a tribute to 1978, when disco was king, and Star Wars ruled the box office...yet there was something missing. The world was ready for what would become known as one of the greatest parodies ever made and began the fan film craze that made the Star Wars Fan Film Awards possible. Using normal household appliances, Ernie Fosselius created arguably, the 12 funniest minutes of film in this or any universe.
I'll be purchasing the full-length Hardware Wars DVD: Collector's Edition, no doubt. The Amazon info says it includes "a rare look at a pirated foreign version from 1979" and I can only imagine what that looks like.

watch me while I lose all credibility: SWVI, aka "Jedi," is my favorite. Yep. I rank them: VI, V, IV, II, I with III as-yet-unseen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005
paper done. julie tired.
[I've already used "Fire bad. Tree pretty." as a title. This is all I have.]

Ok then, the 10-12 page essay ended up being 2895 words which, as you all know, is not 10-12 pages. It's 9 pages of actual text, and it will just have to do. I'm not terribly concerned about the grade, because I wrote a shitty paper for this fellow last semester and I got some flavor of a B on it. I'm confident I'll get some flavor of an A on this one, short or not. Given that four of the (nine) people in the class asked him (last week!) "so, how do you write a 10 page research paper?" and they're not even English majors/haven't taken lit courses before, well...suffice to say the poor fellow has low expectations in his undergrad courses.

What this means to you:
- nothing
- Dr. H, I'll write a thing for you about trackback...tomorrow. It has to go in the book anyway.
- I have to get up early and get some work done.
- I only have two biz class finals, one 1000-word essay final and one 3000-word essay final to go! Then I can tackle my stack of thirty freaking books sitting on my coffeetable. The ones for fun. The ones for fun that are published by Broadview and have "critical edition" in their titles.

I'm going to bed.

joining the eye meme

I joined the eye meme, although I'm not sure why...all the others who have done it so far don't look like they've been up all night...y'all actually look decent. I figured what the hell, I always look like this. I'm a walking "before" photo, as in "before I used this wonderful cosmetic, I looked like crap! all the time!"

Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Sams Teach Yourself Blogging in a Snap
Look for it in oh I dunno...early September?

"This book serves as a compendium of short lessons designed to get the user started in blogging using the blogging platform from Google: Blogger. The lessons will cover everything from getting started in understanding the concept of blogging, to maintaining your own blog utilizing a custom template, comments, trackbacks, photos, blogrolls and more. Part of maintaining a blog is the understanding the basics of HTML and CSS, so brief primers on these subjects would be included as well.

The ultimate purpose of the book is to provide the reader with easily-digestible, concise lessons for all of the tools and tasks that make up the art of blogging with Blogger. While somewhat linear in design, the reader will be able to—and should want to—refer back to any lesson in the book, at any time, as needed."

I don't know why I used quotation marks, since I wrote that in my own proposal. The proposal that passed the Editorial Board yesterday.

Of course I have a blog for the book, but I haven't templatized it or posted anything yet. I'll put more information there (and tell you the URL) in a few days after I finish up with school for the semester and can take a moment away from work.

The Sams Publishing "in a snap" series is pretty cool. The book I was given as a really good example of the series is Mac OS X Panther in a Snap, although I hear that Mac OS X Tiger in a Snap is pretty good, too.

Anyway, that's that. Mucho thanks to my blogging buddies who reviewed the TOC/proposal for Sams. I'll have you know that my editor made it very clear that you folks were very polite and thorough and professional, like extraordinarily so. I said "of course! that's why I chose them!"

Monday, May 16, 2005
totally freaking brilliant

If you're a Star Wars fan and you dig organic food, you must see this very very very well-done movie: Store Wars. Join the Organic Rebellion!

The character shown here is Tofu-D2. Ha! Other prominent players include:
- Chewbroccoli
- C3Peanuts
- Obi Wan Cannoli
- Cuke Skywalker
- Lord Tader
- Princess Lettuce and of course...
- Ham Solo.

languages are cool
One of the freaky things about writing books is that when they get kinda popular, foreign publishers buy translation rights and produce oddly-sized copies. Today I came home to a box of Romanian translations of Sams Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache All-in-One (1e) and promptly stuck them in my closest with the Finnish, Portuguese and other versions of my books that I can't read because I'm a stupid American. They're neat, though. Odd, but neat nonetheless.

one down, four to go
Finished a final exam a bit ago, in Negotiations and Conflict Resolution class. It was the one I was dreading the most, because we had absolutely no idea how it was going to be structured or what it was going to cover (ok, he did say "like the midterm" and "everything" but typically you get a little more direction for these things). The second half of the course, we were reading (from his book) but he didn't really lecture on anything or even take questions—we just did an exercise in each class, namely a negotiation of some sort. I'm fine with that, and I did just fine in the course, but I just don't like going into things blindly. I'm a control freak.

Now I have two hours to kill (well, 1.25 now) before the last Business & Society class. Booooring. Nice prof, but this shit is boring. I've learned nothing new. Next week is the final for this class, 75 multiple choice questions. I used to do poorly on objective tests, because I can typically convince myself that a number of the answers are "the best possible one," but I've improved recently because I just stopped caring. I've learned that if I stop caring, I stop thinking so hard, and by not thinking too hard I just go with my first thought (as you're supposed to do). Anyway, I have two finals that are 75 multiple choice questions, both next week.

I'm not at all concerned about my lit finals, as they're both take-home essays and I've read the books. All of them. At the time they were assigned. Crazy talk, I know.

Despite the fact that my paper, due on Wednesday, only has one complete paragraph written in it, I'm not even concerned about that. However, it could be all the theraflu numbing my brain. Still sick. I'm less sick, but still have to sleep sitting up and hydrating myself all night long. Pleh.

are these deductable?
My back patio houses my own little nature preserve, or so it seems. No photos, because—go figure—creatures tend to shy away from large humans with cameras.

I started with a hummingbird feeder, and it is still wildly popular. Then I added a basic bird feeder, which I fill with the "wild songbird mix" or some such thing that comes in a 5lb bag from Target. I refill the feeder just about every other day, and there are always four, five, six little finches and other birds-I-can't-recognize.

The birds are sloppy and drop seeds and shells onto the concrete below, which other birds and squirrels happily gobble up. I used to have only one squirrel, a chubby fella who would sit in the tree and chatter at nothing in particular. But now I have three squirrels, including a skinny little black squirrel. Hopefully he'll get some meat on his bones and won't stay so scrawny. Then there are the ducks, of course. The mallard boys and girls, the six teenage ducks, and the two new puffballs.

Not too shabby, these sights and sounds of nature, considering I live a few blocks northwest of the center of this map, which is decidedly not rural!

Sunday, May 15, 2005
but in better news...
...another mama duck had ducklings in the fake pond! There are only two babies that I can see, but they are very cute in that "i'm a little brown puff! look at me!" kind of way.

being sick sucks
The upside of working at home is that you don't catch the nasties (colds, flus, etc) when they go around your office. Then again, when you spend an evening with your coworkers, talking to them within two inches of their germ-infested selves, it really doesn't matter—you catch the nasties anyway. I'd do it every time, though, trading off the potential of getting sick for spending time with my friends. I just wish:

- I didn't have to write a 10 page paper in the next four days (which really means today since I work)
- I didn't have to take a final tomorrow afternoon
- I didn't have to go to a class after the final, tomorrow night
- It wasn't that special time of the month

Thankfully, I've done my reading for Tuesday night's class, and then I'm done with actual classes. After that, I have a final the following weekend (objective only) then a final the following Monday (also objective only, gotta love business classes). I'll also have a final to write sometime by next Tuesday but it's only 1000 words or so, so no big deal. Then I have a final to write by next Wednesday but it's also not a big deal.

In fact, the only "big deal" is this paper I'm supposedly writing now, in the midst of being Thera-flu'd to the gills and feeling like crap. Pleh.

Friday, May 13, 2005
Dear Aloha Kitchen... the corner of Capital Expressway and McLaughlin Avenue in San Jose CA. You have a crappy, under construction web site that you'd be better off not publicizing until it's complete.

But you have spectacular food, good and cheap. And good. And cheap!

I think I've tried all your BBQ'd meats by now, and they're all good. Your chicken is not snappery in the least, which is always a good sign. I'm especially fond of your BBQ beef. Meat and rice, and a scoop of macaroni salad. It's no wonder islanders are so happy—I'd be happy too if I got to eat that every day!

I am also very appreciative of your all-day breakfast menu, where "all day" means from 9:30am until midnight. Midnight! You're open until midnight! Every day! How great is that? It's pretty great. Just sayin'.


p.s. why is it that I would never in a million years buy SPAM from the grocery store, but it's exactly what I had for breakfast today and not only that, I looked forward to it. why is that?

Dear Barefoot Coffee Roasters...
...I tried to love you, I really did. Your coffee is really wonderful, and your commitment to craftsmanship, quality, freshness and sustainability is admirable. Indeed, every coffee and espresso drink I've purchased from you has been exceptional. The Borgias I've gotten have been especially lovely, not that nasty orange syrupy crap you find everywhere else.

As a former barista, although by no means an award-winning competitive barista like some of your employees, I understand and appreciate your explanation that espresso not meeting these requirements is "just a hot brown beverage" and any cappuccino not meeting these requirements is "just a hot milky beverage," and as such I have no problem at all—not one—waiting ten minutes for my drink to be prepared. You have a wonderful set of couches and tables, and the CDs that you play are at an appropriate volume for those who want to enjoy their drink while reading or studying.

Unfortunately, several times my plans for quality studying—which no doubt would have resulted in the purchase of nearly $20 worth of coffee drinks each time—were thwarted by the actions of one exceptionally self-absorbed barista. He sings. Loudly.

I'm all for humming along or singing when you're in the back room washing dishes or what not. I'm also big on enjoying life and music in general—these are good things. But singing along very loudly to a CD is annoying, distracting and overall bad customer service. If the morning were billed as "Avery sings the Best of Elvis Costello," then we would all be aware and could choose to stay or go. What's worse is when there is a CD playing, a lovely CD, and he starts singing a completely different song. Loudly. Without recognizing that people are leaving without finishing their coffee, people who probably—like me—had planned to stay there for many hours and drink (purchase! with money! money that you need to pay for your business!) more coffee.

You have Open Mic nights. You have other nights on which bands play. Sometimes you overbook and the better of the two bands has to come back another time after bringing lots of people into your little corner of the Bed, Bath & Beyond strip mall. In other words, you have plenty of time to have live music. Saturday and Sunday mornings, when people are trying to relax and read/study/whatever, are not those times.


Thursday, May 12, 2005
color me unsurprised
[via Dr H and seeker]

You scored as Existentialist.

Existentialism emphasizes human capability. There is no greater power interfering with life and thus it is up to us to make things happen. Sometimes considered a negative and depressing world view, your optimism towards human accomplishment is immense. Man is condemned to be free and must accept the responsibility.

Cultural Creative

What is Your World View?
created with

My beloved Existentialism professor, Dr. Roderic Owen at Mary Baldwin College, would be proud.

"I'm gonna let it ring to Jesus / 'Cause I know he loves me too"

In a startling change of events, my friends and I went to a show, in a different city, one which required planning ahead. Amazing. I even played hooky from class.

The plan was to meet at my buddies' house at 5pm and then drive up, meet other friends for food at 6pm, then see the show (8pm). Except I was 20 minutes late, then they got stuck doing something for work and then we got stuck in local traffic to the point where we didn't get on the freeway until ten til six. No worries—the parking gods smiled on us, we parked on the street a block away from the club and met other friends at a lovely (cheap!) family-owned Mexican restaurant (Don Ramon's, 11th & Howard). I'll spare you the details of our pre-show conversations, because they don't work out of context at all, although I'll just say that have some of the funniest friends in the entire world.

So anyway, the show. It was very good. Very very good. Then again, I have a soft spot for drone-y post-punk girl-fronted alt-rock. Bonus points if cellos or actual bagpipe drones are worked into the CD, but Amy Ray doesn't use either. I'm not holding it against her.

AR's second CD, Prom is a concept album, the "concept" being (and I quote, because I am too lazy to do this on my own) the "exploration of the dance between gender and sexuality, man and woman, youth and adulthood, authority and the context of high school life [more]." Yep, that. The CD is worth it just for the pictures.

Unlike her first solo CD, Stag, I like all the songs on Prom (to varying degrees, of course, but there aren't any that I skip). Here are two freely-available MP3s:

- Put It Out For Good, my fourth-favorite song on the CD

- Driver Education, which is a fun song but falls at the bottom of my rankings of the songs on the CD (there are only 10 and none of them suck, so my rankings really mean nothing)

But my favorite on the CD is "Let it Ring" [here's an MP3], lyrics below:

When you march stand up straight.
When you fill the world with hate
Step in time with your kind and
Let it ring

When you speak against me
Would you bring your family
Say it loud pass it down and
Let it ring

Let it ring to Jesus 'cause he sure'd be proud of you
You made fear an institution and it got the best of you
Let it ring in the name of the one that set you free
Let it ring

As I wander through this valley
In the shadow of my doubting
I will not be discounted
So let it ring

You can cite the need for wars
Call us infidels or whores
Either way we'll be your neighbor
So let it ring

Let it ring
in the name of the man that set you free
Let it ring

And the strife will make me stronger
As my maker leads me onward
I'll be marching in that number
So let it ring

I'm gonna let it ring to Jesus
Cause I know he loves me too
And I get down on my knees and I pray the same as you
Let it ring, let it ring
'Cause one day we'll all be free
Let it ring

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Monday, May 09, 2005
a different kind of drive-by (but not one with guns)
I've written before about some of the things that happen when you write books and how people call you and offer lovely unsolicited advice and what not (there's sarcasm there). But I've never had someone drop by my place of employment just to chat about "ideas" either in the realm of application development or things I've written in my blog.

But today I heard a tale about someone who did just that, to one of our blogging compatriots. Actually, it wasn't so much of a tale as it was a brief mention in passing, but I'm sitting here at school and blogging to keep myself awake (and I'm not finished with some of my longer posts that I have half-started). At my school, faculty from Philosophy and English (and some other fields, I think) are in the aptly-named Faculty Office building. This means that I walk by Dr. Free-Ride's office all the time when I'm talking to English faculty, but never when she has office hours. I made it a point to go to campus early today, so I could say hi.

She told me that someone completely unaffiliated with the university had stopped by her office to chat about something he had read on [one of her] blogs [she has six. six! I can barely manage one. I think she needs an intervention. :)]. So, for all you who do not blog pseudonymously, this could happen to you too!

Just when I think it's impossible to blur the lines of propriety (and personal space, and real world/online world) any further, something like this happens. Unfortunately, she can't blog about it because duh—dude reads her blog! Maybe she'll tell the tale in the comments section here (hint!)...

UPDATE: the info is in the comments...

Friday, May 06, 2005
busy friday
My cats haven't done anything special this week, so no Friday Cat Blogging. I urge you to check out Mick the Magnificent (stag's cat). Or, Kate's Flickr photostream of her foster dogs. Kate is way way way behind in adding to her Flickr account, as none of her actual dogs are listed. But you can see puppy pictures of a litter that included the infamous Petey. Or, you can check out her anti-social orangutan photo.

I think that's enough links in one paragraph.

Today I: refinanced the house, refinanced the car, went to the English Dept awards thingy, and also managed to do some real work. Not enough off my plate to blog for real, though.

Thursday, May 05, 2005
hooray! i did not blow up
Today I used my pressure cooker for the first time. I am now in love with the pressure cooker. Cabbage and potatoes in three minutes? THREE MINUTES? Love love love the pressure cooker.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005
why i came to california (the first time)
Way back in the olden days (1993), I was living in Durham NC and working in a coffee shop. Really, it was a "gelato caffe." That meant we had ice cream and cake and pie in addition to coffee. One day I sold a cheesecake to Grant Hill. But that was my life, after washing out of grad school a few states over (Kentucky) a few months before. I worked in the coffee shop for a year or so, then I figured making $5/hr wasn't all that wonderful of a plan for the future and I decided to get a job somehow affiliated with Duke, since they paid well, offered benefits, etc.

My real love was music. Not the playing or the singing, because lord knows I can't do either. I liked the business aspect of it...the evangelizing of good stuff. Most of it was from Georgia. I could make the drive from my house to Decatur in a little under five hours, but I always stopped at some truck stop in South Carolina that had slot machines. It was somewhere around mile marker 33.

I got a job at Duke, in the cardiology research center. I answered phones and did data entry. Specifically, I worked on the randomization hotline* for clinical trials—patients would go into an emergency room somewhere in the United States, having a heart attack or some such, and doctors would call up and enroll them in clinical trials. Or, one of their patients would have issues and they'd call in and I'd have to page the doctor on call and then transcribe their conversations. When no calls were coming in, I did data entry for the trials. I worked the graveyard shift and weekends, whenever possible, because there weren't a lot of calls and I was a fast typist so I'd finish my work and then...

...I'd play on the listservs. Remember those? Good times. I made a friend on the Internet, back when it wasn't all crazy and spammy and pr0n-filled. Did I mention the randomization hotline was an 800 number? Yeah. Well, my new friend and I took full advantage of that. My friend was in California.

One day, she said "you might want to look into this 'web' thing." I did. Ooooh, NCSA Mosaic was cool, wasn't it? Coming from the world of lynx and gopher, darn tootin' it was cool. My friend liked the same music I did, felt the same about the evangelizing and what not. We figured there might be a way to use this "web" thing to promote music. Go figure.

I went home one day and told the chick I was living with, "I'm moving to California." She was upset. I was not. So, I packed up my car and drove to California. She put my cats on an airplane two weeks later (never, ever again would I put my animals on a plane...for subsequent cross-country moves they always came in the car) and thus began my first stay in California. We named the company after the title of this poem because a) we both learned of the poet through a musician we both liked and b) we both said "hey, this makes me think of you."

* "randomization" sounds a lot like "rent-a-musician" when you say it quickly, so says my buddy

Tuesday, May 03, 2005
new (desktop) wallpaper—how exciting!

I kid, I kid about the "exciting" part. Can you tell I'm doing filler posts to keep my brain sharp-ish until I have some time to write real posts answering those burning questions? The good news is: we're busy at work (well, my co-workers are busier than I am, bless their creative and managing hearts) which means the company earns money. Always a plus. Yeah, I have pesky school but all I really have to do in the next two weeks is write a 10-12 page paper (for which I finally have a topic, hooray), a 2 page thingy, and take five finals.

Whatever. I'm excited about my new wallpaper! For a year or so, my desktop has been black with this photo in the center (yes, that's Puppet Angel). I've now moved to the wallpaper shown here, courtesy of the website the creatures in my head.

Quick poll for Windows users: taskbar at the top, bottom or side? I'm the only person I know who puts it at the top. You?

Monday, May 02, 2005
new proposal/TOC sent
Now I just cross fingers and wait a couple of weeks to see if it's go/no go. I'm hoping for "go," obviously.

Perhaps now I can get back to answering those burning questions. Or working. Or writing an essay. Heck with all that, I'm going for breakfast.

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


job / books / new blog

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


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