No Fancy Name
Sunday, July 31, 2005
"is that....profgrrrrl?" or: our day at BlogHer
For the record: after spending twelve consecutive hours with the woman, I can report she had only two diet cokes, we went to sbux only once, and she checked her non-crackberry phone perhaps four times, if that. It's not because we were running around participating in a crazy amount of BlogHer sessions, because we weren't. Such bad, bad conference attendees!

My recap follows...I'm sure hers will be much better, but she's on a plane right now. I know this for a fact because I took her to the 4:30 in the morning.

Breakfast, 7:30am, Stacks. We are both big fans of the breakfast food. After breakfast, walked the block or so to sbux. This was the only sbux visit, lest you think either of us can't live without the stuff (we can). As we drove back to the freeway, I pointed at my Whole Foods and said "That building across the street and to the right? That's eBay." Since we knew we were going to miss the BlogHer Welcome session (but come on—breakfast trumps all) we then drove past Netflix. Later in the day I almost drove her by Apple HQ but I forgot. Google and Yahoo were out of the way, too. I know, I know, geeky tour of the locations of companies whose products enhance your life, but any other special trips would have resulted in never even going to the conference at all, and that's not cool.

We made it back to the conference center and checked in after both the welcome session and the debate about women playing by the rules or changing the game were over, and the birds of a feather meetups were starting. We checked in, got our goodie bags, and promptly took our crap to the car—I don't like carrying shit around with me unless I have just the right bag, and this wasn't it (and my new non-computer-carrying messenger bag hasn't arrived yet). As the BoF sessions were still going on, we sat in the wireless access area and wrote this post and took photos of...things.

Since there wasn't any session in particular we wanted to attend during session slot #1, and since profgrrrrl's feet had blisters, it was decided that shoe-shopping was in order. So off we went to the mall, but on the way to the mall she spotted a DSW and in we went. She bought a pair of sparkly pinkish/purple sandals, and also these lovely fish sandals. Neither of us purchased these shoes.

After a not-so-quick pee-and-diet-coke stop at McDonald's, off we went to the sessions. Oh yes, we also missed the Flame, Blame & Shame working lunch session. Oops. But because it ran a few minutes over and we were already in the conference center, we actually got a prime seat (in the back) for the How to Be Naked session. Heather Armstrong (dooce), Ronni Bennett, and Koan Bremner were the panelists on the topic of identity blogging. They could have done an entire day on just this topic alone.

The third session slot included a session on "Blogs in Academia"...except of course you can split this into at least four different different subjects: using blogs in the classroom, blogging as an academic on research topics under your own name, anonymously blogging as an academy-associated "life" blogger, getting support from your field-specific (or field-independent) blogging community, etc etc etc. Since these sessions were so short, I dare say they were little more than ways to measure interest in topics for future conferences. Panelists introduce themselves, a few very high-level questions are put on the table, time's up. In the case of the academia panel, the mommybloggers were up next and were very good at kicking us out of the room and telling us to be quiet as we milled about in the hallway, still discussing things. If you want a general idea about the academia panel, read badgerbag's post.

The academia panel lacked an actual professor until I nominated Profgrrrrl. "Nominate" isn't the correct word. It was more like "dude, they said they need a full prof to sit up there, do you want to do it?" and she said "sure, but they can't use my name or take any photos without pixellating my face" so I went up to the table where panelists badgerbag and Grace Davis were sitting and relayed the message that indeed profgrrrrl would professorize the panel given aforementioned requirements.

[I should probably mention that I'm built like a short offensive lineman (that is, like a brick wall, but fat) and I have seven visible tattoos when wearing shorts/tshirt/sandals. Hence the reference to me being Profgrrrrl's "muscle". Oh, and I'm Italian. Make of that what you will. I thought it was funny.]

Before the panel, a woman (whose blog URL I do not have handy, sorry) came up to me and said "is that....profgrrrrl?" to which I said "maybe" and then "yes" because I figured what the hell, she's on a frickin' panel now. During the panel, there was one question along the lines of "is anyone using blogs in the classroom (in comp or lit or journalism) and if so, how." Given that I could rattle off the names of four or five people without even blinking twice, I actually said something (I'm not a big talker) and then mentioned the book because one of its purposes is to alleviate the need for teachers to make their own "how to use blogger" handouts for students when blogs are required. Point them at a $15 book and use your time for actual teaching, I figure. Anyway, so if scribblingwoman or scrivener get messages from people referencing this panel, you'll know why. After the panel, had hallway discussions with people including Lilia from Mathemagenic who is currently interning at Microsoft Research, then decided we should go off to our sushi extravaganza since profgrrrrl had an appointment for "drinks with a mysterious tall, dark and handsome gentleman."

So off to Los Gatos we went, to Kamakura Sushi & Sake House (aka "where we have our company christmas meal every year, despite the fact that only one of us likes sushi, one other likes sushi rolls, and the other three don't go in for that sort of food at all") where we ate a lot of sushi. Mmmmm mmmmm good sushi. We then went across the street to Williams-Sonoma, whereupon I purchased a set of egg fry rings and smidge, pinch, and dash measuring spoons and profgrrrrl got some pink utensils.

Having now lost all of my "muscle" cred, I took her back to her hotel and came home to crash in front of the TV. See what you all missed???

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Friday, July 29, 2005
going to BlogHer tomorrow
Tomorrow is the BlogHer Conference, which I will be attending so as to keep profgrrrrl company. Oh, and to interact with a community of people. Or something like that. I'm not a conference-going/people-person kinda gal, no matter how lovely and talented my fellow conference-goers might be.

Most of the sessions aren't applicable to me. I have a fair handle on this blogging thing (see book), I don't use my blog for business, and what they consider "advanced tools" I consider basic elements of everyday life. Also, I'm not a political blogger or a citizen journalist, although I read a lot of those types of blogs. Basically, I just want to see a bunch of people excited about things related to blogging, because that makes me happy. In other words, I'm taking a day off from work things and I'm just going to hang out.

Also, with profgrrrrl in town I'll have both a breakfast buddy (because who doesn't like breakfast? come on now!) and a sushi buddy!

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Thursday, July 28, 2005
it's Bulwer-Lytton time again
That is, the annual "awards" have been announced for the 2005 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. The "winning" submission follows:
As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual. [by Dan McKay of Fargo, ND]
I haven't taken a class with Dr. Rice (creator of the contest), but if I decide to take 18th C British Novel (not currently on my list) or History of Rhetoric (is currently on my list), he's usually the fellow who teaches those seminars.

dear technorati support...
Thank you for re-indexing my site [support ticket #12880]. I love it that I can again tag posts and see them indexed.

Now I won't look like such a numbskull since I have that sticky post about technorati tags and Technorati will be prominently featured in Chapter 8, "RSS, Indices, and Folksonomies" of my blogger book. Hooray!

For everyone else having this trouble, first validate your RSS feed to ensure it's not you and then just send them a note about it. They're nice folks.

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I started an official, structured diet yesterday. I have a genetically pre-determined body type (thank you, dominant Italian genes), but I still try my best not to end up looking like a gnocchi. Truth be told, I don't eat all that much—when I'm on a diet, I eat more than I normally do! I've always had a terrible time with diets. The 1200-calorie/perfectly balanced diet plus exercise several times per week? Gained weight. Atkins? Gained weight. That was particularly depressing, since my weight is carb sensitive—eat a sandwich, gain extra weight, eat pasta two days in a row, gain extra weight. I figured Atkins would be great since it's no carbs, but after two weeks I wanted to shoot myself in the head from lack of carbs and I had gained seven pounds. So, no more of that. Carbs are required in order for one's brain to function. I even went to the doctor for blood tests, actually hoping that I had some sort of thyroid issue that would explain my inability to lose weight, but I had no such thing.

The only diet that has ever worked for me is Nutrisystem. I did it for six months several years ago and lost thirty pounds. I've since gained half of it back, because I stopped following the regiment that the diet had beaten into me. While the Nutrisystem food is engineered in a special way, so that there's no one-to-one substitution between a Nutrisystem dinner entreé and a Lean Cuisine dinner entreé easily purchased at the grocery store, I could have changed my lifestyle so that I was eating in a Nutrisystem-like manner, but just didn't. I'm lazy that way.

But I'm also tired of being extra fat, so I ordered a month's worth of Nutrisystem food the other week and started the program yesterday. Nutrisystem food doesn't suck, and yesterday I ate more food during the day than I usually do, so my metabolism got a kickstart and I was hungry all damn day. By the end of the day I wanted to chew my own arm off (as my buddy said, "well, it is protein"). So I have my boxes of food plus my supplemental fruits, vegetables, and salad fixings. I dutifully ate my breakfast (cereal, banana), my snack (hard boiled egg), my lunch (rice and beans, salad), my snack (another egg), my dinner (a mini pizza, two veggie servings, salad), and my dessert/snack (a mocha shake). That's a ton of food for me in one day. There's a whole list of things you can have as your extra dairy/protein servings, and I usually pick hard-boiled eggs because I love them so. In fact, there's a long list in each of the "extra things you can have" categories but I stick to the same things because I am predictable and boring.

One of the best features about this diet is that they don't even bother saying "no coffee or tea! bad for you!" My theory is that Nutrisystem recognizes how painful/difficult it is to remove oneself from coffee or tea, and instead of adding that stress to the swirling thoughts and stress surrounding the start and continuation of a diet, they just say "whatever, just use artificial sweetener." It sounds silly, but the fact that I didn't have to detox off coffee and tea was a really big weight off my shoulders and made starting the diet even easier. Also important to me is the handy guide to eating in restaurants. Well, not so much the guide itself because it's not like I'm going out eating foie gras or a pound of pasta with a cream sauce, just the fact that they recognize that human beings go out to eat and it doesn't have to be a shitty experience just because you're on a diet. That, and under the "Japanese cuisine" heading the guide says "it's great! sushi and sashimi is awesome!" I paraphrased, but you get the idea. Nutrisystem is a low-stress diet plan with non-sucky food and it works for me.

(But I'll still want to chew my arm off at the end of the day, for a few more days.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005
a few helpful Windows utilities
I added two new utilities to my machine in the last few days. Not browser extensions, but actual system utilities. I don't add a lot of crap to my machine, so when I install software of any kind it has to be noteworthy. You may or may not think these are noteworthy utilities, but I do!

This [freeware] utility sticks a date in the Windows tray. I know, I know, I can mouseover the standard system time display and see the entire date, or I can expand my toolbar to see the entire date, but those are more mouse actions. I just want to look over and see the current date. See, I'm lazy and I never know the date. So there you have it: DateInTray. Install the little bugger, stick a shortcut in startup, and the current date is only a sideways glance away. [via little.yellow.different's mini-blog]

The first "C" stands for "crap," as in "the name of this utility is really "Crap Cleaner" and that's just what it does. Like I said before, I keep my machine pretty clean and I run disk cleanup tools all the time so I figured my machine was pretty clean. CCleaner identified 309MB of crap that I could delete, so I did. 309MB! I did set it to identify and remove everything it felt deletion-worthy, but the only things I would have kept were my Firefox cookies (I typically manage them manually) and the ones I keep certainly don't take up more than a few kilobytes, so that 309MB was pretty accurate. This is also a freeware utility. [via lifehacker]

Remember kids, "freeware" doesn't preclude you from kicking a few bucks to the programmers (which I will be doing).

DVD special: Battlestar Galactica and Earth 2
I recently wrote about the release of Earth 2 on DVD. Today, via TV Squad, I learned about a special deal at Best Buy: Save $15 when you order the Best Buy exclusive Battlestar Galatica (U.K. version) along with any of these newly released sci-fi box sets: Cleopatra 2525, Earth 2, Sliders (Season 3)

Since Season One of Battlestar Galactica is set to be released in September, what is Best Buy offering?
Battlestar Galactica Season One is the season aired on SkyOne in the UK featuring a different opening than the United States. Previously only available on DVD in the UK, this four disc set includes all 13 episodes plus deleted scenes. These DVDs have been formatted to be compatible with most North American DVD players.
As long as it's Region 1 encoding, which it appears to be, then heck yeah I'll get it two months early, especially if I can get Earth 2 at the same time AND with a discount.

I hate to admit it, but Season Two has started already and I didn't keep up with Season One so I can't yet start watching the new episodes. Fridays at 10pm is just not a good time for me—I'm usually asleep by then, because I am lame. No matter how much I loved the episodes I did see (and that would be "a great deal") I just couldn't manage to be up at that time.

With the Best Buy deal, that's two birds with one stone! Also noted: Xena: 10th Anniversary Collection. From what I can tell, it's seventeen episodes selected by the fans as representative of the series. They seem to be good episodes, but what got me was the "10th anniversary" part. As in "the show began ten years ago." Would someone please tell me where the last ten years went? Wow.

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Monday, July 25, 2005
four raccoons just scared the crap out of me
Did I mention I live in the middle of a city? Yes, I have ducks and squirrels and all manner of finches who all hang out on my back patio, as well as frogs who come to visit and a few select neighborhood cats, but I have never seen raccoons. Heck, I used to live in the middle of the woods growing up in Pennsylvania and I don't think I ever saw a raccoon up close (opossums yes, raccoons no).

So it's pitch black outside (it is 4AM after all) and I have the sliding glass door open because I like a cool breeze. I heard a rustling outside and figured the ducks were up and about, gathering seeds dropped from the birdfeeder. I made out the faint outline of something way taller than a duck, so I turned the light on and saw a mama raccoon standing up on her hind legs, about four feet away from me. I quickly slid shut the glass door, because the last thing I wanted was a raccoon vs cat face-off at the the screen door. She scurried right up to the door, as did her three smaller raccoon kids. After the initial shock wore off, I noted they were very, very cute and just looked hungry. The only thing on my patio is a wee bowl of fresh water I keep out for any critters who want it, and seeds dropped from the birdfeeder above—it's not like there's garbage or other food out there. I guess they were just making their rounds, but I hadn't seen them before. I hope they don't wander out into the street.

Sunday, July 24, 2005
hooray for arfa karim randhawa, and the "pink ghetto" is a stupid term
I had read this article about 10-year-old Arfa Karim Randhawa, who achieved the Microsoft Certified Professional (MSCP) status when she was a 9-year-old, before it made the rounds at Slashdot—where the audience is decidedly non-Microsoft and generally not-so-enlightened with regards to gender-related matters. When /. discussion ensued, I expected a lot of comments along the lines of "Big deal, my dog could get an MSCP" and/or "Oooh, hottie geek girl" (she's TEN, people!) or "Not bad for a girl." The latter two types of comments were few and far between, which is good!

The majority of the comments had to do with the quality and usefulness (or lack thereof) of the MSCP. Personally, I'm not a fan of the way in which certificate programs are typically used in corporations, because they tend to be pieces of paper that hiring managers look for regardless of the actual skills required for the position. Numerous certificate programs test nothing more than memorization of GUI elements and not a lot about the underlying technology—the how (point here, click here) not the why. Not all certificate programs are like that, of course. Many of the Linux/UNIX administration certificates and various database certifications (Oracle, I'm looking at you) will kick your ass if you can't do the thinking that will be involved in your day-to-day work.

But still, a 9-year-old had a goal, studied hard, and achieved that goal. That's a wonderful thing, and shows a greater attention span than I usually exhibit. I didn't get all geeky until I was eleven or twelve, and then it was just all about making my own maps for Zork. I wasn't programming calculators. Arfa has plans "to go to Harvard University or MIT, and then either go to work for Microsoft, in its developer division, or become a satellite engineer." Another prevalent comment at Slashdot, with which I completely agree, was: "get that girl a Linux box so she can really expand her mind and her skills. Truer words have never been spoken.

BitchPhD named Arfa her heroine of the week, not only for Arfa's accomplishments but for the fact that she marched right on up to Bill Gates and asked why 75% of Microsoft employees are men, explaining to him "it should be balanced." Smart kid. But in all fairness to Microsoft, I've never viewed them as particularly problematic with regards to their hiring practices (e.g. choosing less-qualified men over more-qualified women just because the less-qualified person is male). But one of the comments at Dr. B's place really pissed me off. On Slashdot, when someone posts a comment anonymously it doesn't just say "anonymous" like it does in Blogger or Haloscan comments. It says "Anonymous Coward," and there's a reason for that—people posting trollish comments anonymously are easier to automatically filter. So at Dr. B's an anonymous comment was left that said (in part):
a better question would be what types of positions do the females hold? [...] do they hold less "prestigious" jobs such as the pink-ghetto of technical writing and testing rather than research and development.

a friend sent me this link, and i am a women who is sw dev, and for women to equal out in IT, i have to say i would recommend fewer women doing things like these crypto-clever blogs and online journals (the pink-ghetto) and spend their online time learning how to work with the more technical aspects of c or java or php or other web apps.
So many problematic things in this snippet of a comment. Firstly: technical writing and testing are extremely important aspects of a product release. Most companies do not feel it is appropriate to release buggy software to the public, or software that represents a horrible user experience (e.g. it's not "broken," it's just "crappy"). Testers, who are (or should be) used at numerous points in the development process to weed out issues, find bugs, and report accordingly, play an integral role in software development. They may not be the one who fixes a bug, but they are the one who will find it, document when it appears, and basically provide the developer with enough information to do their work over again. Now, on to technical writers. Who do you think fixes up engineers' notes or API documentation so that they're suitable for public viewing? Who do you think is responsible for providing the instructions and other crucial information to the people actually purchasing and using a product? I could go on and on, because on any given day I am a database designer, database administrator, R&D engineer, application developer, UI consultant, programmer, and technical writer. It's called "being well-rounded" and "seeing the big picture" and most important of all it's recognizing that each of those tasks is equally important in the eyes of the companies who pay our salaries, as their goal is to get a working product in the hands of the public.

The anonymous comment says "i would recommend fewer women doing things like these crypto-clever blogs and online journals (the pink-ghetto) and spend their online time learning how to work with the more technical aspects of c or java or php or other web apps" and to that I say "sure—if that's what they want to do." In fact, I'd say that to any boy as well. You want to learn programming? Great! You want to be a contributing member of a development community? Kick ass! Oh, first thing? Open your eyes and open your mind. There's more to programming and development than sitting down and writing code for days on end.

I never thought this would be useful, but two years ago I was interviewed by Stephen Ibaraki for the Network Professional Association. If you're at all interested, you can read the interview, where I prattle on about these and other matters (but note that I did it when I was going to do an MA in linguistics and I've since chosen English, so that might sound a bit strange). The interview coincided with the release of the second edition of one of my ten books having to do with programming, databases, and other techie things, which I write when I'm not working with students in my Databases & Dynamic Web Design course or Writing JavaScript/DHTML course, or doing all things technical for my job.

<sarcasm>Because I see relevance in the "pink ghetto" I suppose I've lost all the geek cred I've banked.</sarcasm>

Saturday, July 23, 2005
some geeky links
The folks at have a newsletter for students, and the upcoming newsletter will have little ole me in the "faculty focus" section. It's just to advertise my courses, which are part of the advanced web design certificate track and are two of the four courses required for the web coding certificate. Gah. Link much? Anyway, I had to come up with some links to resources that I particularly enjoy. You know how you know your favorite song right up until the moment someone asks you "hey, what's your favorite song?" and you forget everything you've ever known about music? Yeah. That's how I am when it comes to telling people what web sites I visit.

It also doesn't help matters that I'm not a "web designer" in the sense of colors and what not; my job as Technical Director of an interactive media company is to ensure that we are aware of current trends regarding the technical aspects of multimedia development, so we can best serve our clients when we put these technical aspects into play. Oh yeah, and I also make things go. No really, that's what it says on "the team" page of our web site. I make things go. Mary makes things pretty. Shona keeps everything in order and us in line.

But I digress. Here's the list of links I gave them, which reflects some (emphasis on "some") of my primary sources for relevant news and information regarding development techniques, issues, and trends. Some of you might be interested in some of these things.

spring roll happiness

When I was visiting with Mel, all we did was eat food, watch a few movies, and generally hang out. The "eat food" portion of our visits (not that she's visited me, ahem...) is always fun, because despite the fact that she's vegan and I'm a carnivore, we share a great fondness for Vietnamese food, especially spring rolls. We could both eat spring rolls 24/7. In fact, two of the four meals on my visit were at the same place, and three of the four were vietnamese food.

I live in an area of San Jose which is chock full of Vietnamese families. So much so that the new branch library in my neighborhood was almost named the New Saigon branch, and the runoff election in the fall for this district's city council seat is between two women both named Nguyen. Yet I haven't had Vietnamese food in my neighborhood, at all, in the three years I've lived in this house. However, I do have a funny story about inadvertantly walking into a Vietnamese den of iniquity masquerading as an espresso bar. Ahem.

So today I decided I couldn't live any longer without getting some spring rolls, and I ventured down the street to Di Lac Cuisine. Fine, fine spring rolls and lovely people! They're across the street from Target and also across the street/down one block from the pet food store and my local Quickly, so they're not far. They're close, cheap, and good. Hooray!

more firefox updates and extensions
First and foremost: Firefox and Thunderbird are currently both at version is 1.0.6. Hooray for synched version numbers! If you need to, please update your Firefox and/or update your Thunderbird. Remember, you can always force-check for upgrades in either software by going to Tools -> Options -> Advanced -> Software Update and pressing the little "Check Now" button, if waiting for the little update notification icon doesn't do it for you.

On to the extensions... Since some people were so stoked when I posted an image of the ForecastFox extension in action, I figured it was time to do another "Firefox extensions I love" roundup. Almost a year ago, I posted "firefox extensions that make my life easier," and in February I noted "PC Week's Top Firefox Extensions." I still use some of the extensions I mentioned in those two posts, but I uninstalled others because they just didn't fit into The Way I Do Things. When you have ten years of experience in using graphical web browsers a certain way, it's difficult to change the way your hands move even if the extensions are time-savers. Here's my current Firefox setup as of Right Now:

Firefox Version: 1.0.6
Theme: phoenity, which I also use as my Thunderbird theme.
Extensions: (get some here, or keep up with the RSS feed)technorati tags: , ,

i have things to write about...
...they're just all sitting in my "posts.txt" text file that I keep on my desktop, which is essentially a stickynote to myself. Been busy around here, what with A Really Important Application we have to build (and a book to finish writing, which is completely unrelated to the Really Important Application). Yesterday I spent a significant portion of my day watching things compile and build. I don't know how many of my dear readers have ever spent a day compiling and building things (probably just one of you) but it looks like the green-dripping-letters-on-black screen from The Matrix except that the letters are white on black, run horizontally, and are actual letters and words that you can read and understand.

Ok, so it's not anything like The Matrix. But it is very tedious because there are dependencies involved and libraries have to be linked and available to other programs and some things just fail for no good reason and you have to track down certain files and make one itty-bitty change to it and recompile, re-make, and hope for the best...times several applications...on an operating system that is your fourth or fifth favorite, not your first, second, or third (but at least isn't M$).

Sorry, tangent. I plan to tackle my list of posts-to-write later today, after I get back from my friends' boy's soccer scrimmage. Priorities!

Thursday, July 21, 2005
this is for mel
It is currently RAINING at my house.

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Samuel Johnson's Cat
Samuel Johnson's Cat,
originally uploaded by ghwpix.
As gzombie pointed out in my flickr photostream, cats sitting on their owner's work is not limited to modern cats.

- my cat, Deuce
- my cat (may he rest in peace), Toby
- stag's cat, Mick
The full caption of the photo reads "A statue commemorating Hodge, Samuel Johnson's cat. Hodge is sitting on top of Johnson's Dictionary, demonstrating that in the eighteenth century, cats were just as likely to sit on your work as they are in the twenty-first century."

google moon is very cool
If you go to Google today, you'll notice the logo in honor of the first manned moon landing. If you want to "see what the astronauts saw on July 20, 1969," go to You'll see points for the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 landings. You can move the map and zoom, just like you can on Earth.

Go on, do the maximum zoom. You must. You really, really must.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005
oooh, another meeting!
For work, that is. Remember how I said I rarely go to meetings? I went to another one today. It was to go over some particularly granular things for a project; the only people who needed to be there were myself and the product manager. Guess how many other people were there. Go ahead, guess. My boss guessed "4" and she was wrong. She was off by three. There were seven other people there. We even warned them: "this discussion will have nothing to do with you and you will be bored." One guy left after that, but everyone else stayed. Amazing. I want to be a professional meeting-goer. That would be easy. But no. We have to actually build things.

Here's a thought: companies probably wouldn't have to go to outside vendors (us!) in order to get things done, if all their employees weren't in meetings-irrelevant-to-their-jobs all the time. Then again, we outside vendors like getting paid so I guess extraneous-people-in-meetings is the tradeoff. I'm ok with that.

now available on DVD: Earth 2!
Earth 2 is one of my most favorite TV shows EVER. It debuted on Sci-Fi in 1994 and now you can get the complete series (21 episodes) on DVD! If you're unfamiliar with the show and don't feel like clicking through to the page, here's a description:
From the producers of Miami Vice and ER comes the thrilling story of Devon Adair (Debrah Farentino), who is struggling to find a healthy environment for her deathly ill son, Ulysses. Disregarding government orders, she puts together an expedition to found a new civilization on an Earth-like planet 22 light years in the future. But after their ship crash-lands on the wrong side of planet G889, the "colonists" quickly discover that their new home already has some very strange and hostile inhabitants.! and hostile inhabitants!

books for the fall semester
The campus bookstore finally posted the catalog of books for the fall semester. I was getting anxious because I really wanted to get a jump start on the readings and we're quickly running out of summer. Then again, I've had two of the books since May and it's not like I've cracked either of them. Now that I've ordered all my books I hereby resolve to read a lot of books in August.

As a side note: I wholeheartedly recommend selling used books through either Marketplace or—it's where I get all my books for school, and I'm not the only one. I've bought from both places and sold with both sites, and I've never had a problem in the many years I've been doing it. You won't get rich, but getting $20 for a book you never read and will never use again is more than the $0 it nets you while gathering dust on your bookshelf.

Anyway, here's a list of the books for my classes:
ENGL 201: Materials and Methods of Literary Research
Art of Literary Research // In Search of Authority // Redrawing the Boundaries

ENGL 204: Modern Approaches to Literature
Contexts for Criticism // Falling into Theory

ENGL 254: Genre Studies in American Literature; the course "will focus upon American Fiction's development from the 19th into the 20th centuries, touching upon American Romantics, Realists, Naturalists, Feminists, and Modernists. Economic systems (slavery, women's oppression, whaling, advertising, autos), and their technologies (ships, trains, electricity, telephony, internal combustion engines, film cameras) provide context for and influence upon the American fiction of the period from the Civil War to the Second World War (1860s to 1930s)."
Cane // Daisy Miller // Ethan Frome // A New-England Nun : And Other Stories // Pastures of Heaven // Piazza Tales // Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories // The Sound and the Fury // Uncle Tom's Cabin // Uncle Tom's Children // Winesburg, Ohio

With regards to the AmLit course, if any of you prof-type people have comments about the selected texts given the description of the course, especially if those comments are along the lines of "you should also read [this book] and [that book]," please let me know! Then again, if you have any comments at all about any of the texts here, I'd love to hear those as well.

Monday, July 18, 2005
FYI for BlogHer attendees who think downtown san jose would be a fun place to visit
It is a great place to visit, but not the weekend of BlogHer. See, BlogHer is being held on the same weekend as the Grand Prix of San Jose, as in Champ Cars zooming all over the streets and traffic re-routed and general mayhem will probably ensue.

This is not to say that cool things like The Tech or the San Jose Museum of Art or the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum won't be open—they will! But I would venture to guess that downtown is going to be an absolute nightmare.

As such, if you're sticking around for an extra day or coming in a day early or whatever, remember that the 902 Light Rail line will take you to downtown Mountain View, where you can either partake of restaurants there or hop Caltrain into Palo Alto or continue on to San Francisco. Unfortunately, the Light Rail south from San Jose to Campbell and Los Gatos isn't complete, otherwise I'd recommend going to those downtown areas as well. No museums, but plenty of great restaurants!

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my cats did not maul me upon my return
I was a little concerned that my cats would throw a royal fit when I came home after my 3-day trip to [Mel's anonymous town]. But they did not. Sixty-three hours is now the longest I've left them alone without someone to check on them. They had plenty of food, water, and litter boxes and geez—they're cats. My fish were also fine. So, hooray for that.

I would like to tell you all about my trip, but Mel's secret identity really restricts what I can say. I had a bunch of funny little tidbits to say but each one contained some sort of local or regional identifying elements. That leaves me with: we hung out, saw a few movies, ate good food. Not nearly as interesting as "during my stay in [bleep] we happened upon [bleep] which is a new [bleep] which is of interest to [bleep]" or "we went to [beep] which is a [bleep] tradition that has the best [bleep] in [bleep]" or "the weather was [bleep]" and so on and so forth. Sigh. Secret identities.

But I can tell you that I got zero things done this weekend, I read nothing, and essentially inverted my sleep/wake schedule. But I bounced back this morning and finished my work and tonight I'll finish some chapters while I'm watching the less-sucky-than-pre-All-Star-Break Giants.

Saturday, July 16, 2005
best. batman. ever.
Suuuuuuch a good movie. So dark, so much more Frank Miller than the "biff" "pow" "zonk" Batman. Now I want to go back and re-read the graphic novels, especially Alan Moore's The Killing Joke and Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum. Creepy good stuff.

Friday, July 15, 2005
saw a movie. it was good.
Saw Heights tonight, the movie written by Parker's friend Amy. (yay writers!)

Boy is it ever good. Oh yeah, and Glenn Close is in it, along with some pretty boys.

I'm very tired right now because it's approximately six hours past my bedtime, so hopefully Mel will write something about it with actual substance. I'm substance-lite at the moment.

Suck it, Dodgers.

That's crass, I know. But it's baseball. Emotions run high. Plus, it's probably going to be the only positive thing we Giants fans take away from this season, unless Sabean takes away Alex Sanchez, which would be A Good Thing.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005
it's a mammoth!
Silicon Valley: home of Yahoo!, Google, eBay, Apple, etc. etc. etc. AND the fossilized remains of a Columbian mammoth.

Did you know that some states have State Fossils, like State Birds and State CookiesFlowers? I didn't. The State Fossil of California is the Pleistocene-era saber-toothed cat. The Pleistocene-era Colombian Mammoth is the State Fossil of Nebraska. Who knew?

The chocolate chip cookie is the Official State Cookie of both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005
this is how often I go to meetings
I work at home, and very rarely do I have to go to meetings at a client's site. But today I have to go to a meeting, so I extracted my Wednesday-go-to-meetin' binder thingy from the closet and made sure there was a pencil attached to it (as well as paper). There were leftover items in there from my last meeting—emails that had been printed out so I knew what the heck I was supposed to talk about, business card belonging to the fellow we met with, etc.

The date on the e-mail? October 2004.

So yeah, I go to meetings maybe twice a year. Bless my boss for that.

sometimes a little rain must fall
I love the ForecastFox extension for my lovely, lovely Web browser. If I'm feeling gloomy, all I have to do is look in the toolbar menu to (typically) see a 7-day forecast of sunny days and clear nights. If I mouseover the wee radar icon I can see these clear skies represented yet another way.

Except I love rain and gloom and cold weather. Go figure.

I'll be going out of town for a few days some point soon, and all I asked of my host was that she try to ensure that it rains when I'm there. It's the simple things...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005
completely random financial tip
A year ago, my employer stuck some money into a SEP-IRA through Vanguard. We all got a deposit equal to 10% of our annual salary. Very nice—free money! I did a wee bit of research and ended up putting that money into the following funds:

- 60% into Vanguard Wellington Fund Investor Shares
- 20% into Vanguard Strategic Equity Fund
- 20% into Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund

My 1-year (plus 1 month) rate of return is 17.7%. So, if you have retirement money sitting around and you're wondering where to put it, I'm personally a fan of these three funds. Unless they tank, of course, in which case all bets are off.

Monday, July 11, 2005
misc untitled
I was just writing a chunk for my Blogger book called "what to write?" and realized the irony given my lack of posts... But it's not for lack of subjects, just time and energy. Mostly time. Well, and energy. But I do have some things percolating in my brain. I want to write a post about raising up smart kids, because I know some of my readers have kids who are pretty smart and I have some thoughts on the matter. Nothing earth-shattering. Also, I think I've been tagged with some memes (bleh!) and so I should do those. I also need to confess that my Whole Foods-loving self, loyal customer and all that, has now gone to Trader Joe's twice in the last few weeks—and I feel ok about it.

I also want to try and get my buddy to share a very cool playlist with the world, but she has to annotate it because the playlist is "country music as if [my buddy] were writing country music". Some songs count because they're strummy. Some songs count because they're about drinking. Some songs count because they're about not drinking. Some songs count because they're actually country. Well, country with a "K". Like krab. Not only is it a good playlist, the reasoning is hilarious.

Now I need to go get some coffee, and finish writing a chapter or three, and take one of my cats to the vet, and do a bunch of things for my actual job, and blah blah blah.

Friday, July 08, 2005
for all you stat whores
The Blogger Profile (yours, mine, anyone who uses Blogger) has been streamlined and associated statistics have been updated. The Blogger Buzz guys said so.

* Stats on the profile page show only your start time w/ Blogger and the number of profile vews, none of that "number of words" and "average posts per week" stuff.

* "Recent Posts" are gone; the Profile shows only the profile info you've completed and enabled via the "Edit Profile" form

* Total number of posts is accurate and is now listed on your Blogger Dashboard (not your profile)

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Thursday, July 07, 2005
Terrorists suck.

But Jeremy Keith says this, which includes the following:
The terrorists responsible for these attacks are clearly not only a bunch of murdering bastards, they are a bunch of murdering bastards who don't know their history. London made it through the blitz and through years of IRA bombings. Londoners react to explosions not with fear and terror but with resolution and bravery.

The eyes of the world are on London today. The world will see a display of stiff upper lips and unity. If there's one thing that Londoners can do well, it's this: they cope.

chicken and waffles (and other trashy food)
Actually, chicken and waffles aren't trashy. This culinary delight is easy to prepare for hundreds of people at a time, causing it to be the featured item at gatherings such as firehall benefits and church luncheons, but it has its roots in Pennsylvania Dutch Country—thus making it "rustic" and not trashy, much the same way you could call a fluffernutter or gubment cheese "old world" if you found out that one of your Italian relatives indulged in such delicacies.

Your can find a standard chicken and waffles recipe right here. This recipe calls for actual chicken-cooking, not the truly trashy "open a can of chicken stew and dump it on an eggo."

Here are more Pennsylvania Dutch recipes. I'd highlight the ones I really like, but my friends already think I eat strange things so no need to embarrass myself further. I draw the line at things like scrapple and tripe, although I heard my grandfather ate both those things (and a raw egg) all the time for breakfast. He also died of a heart attack at age 54, as if we couldn't see that coming.

So, SuzanH, there you have it: chicken and waffles, explained. Kinda.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005
too. early.
It's too early to be up and working. I am too old for this. I used to be really good at getting up very early and working, or better yet never even going to sleep. But no more. I've actually been up for an hour. Starbucks doesn't even open for another hour and a half, so all I have is my own make-do coffee (and it's not making do) unless I go down to the AM/PM and get some (ugh) AM/PM coffee.

It's times like these when I seriously miss a Waffle House. Not a Steak 'n' Eggs or a Pancake House or any of those other Waffle House knockoffs, but a real honest-to-goodness Waffle House. Then again, if I went WaHo'ing I wouldn't be working, but I would have me some chicken 'n' eggs with hashbrowns scattered, smothered, and covered. Sigh. But I digress.

It'll be a few more hours until east coast bloggers wake up and start blogging, which I suppose is good because it won't be a distraction from my work but it also means I'm sitting in the dark with only the sound of the fake pond (and the sprinkler system) to keep me company. William Orbit is playing on my iTunes, which isn't the best get-up-and-go music...maybe I'll switch to Green Day or something. Argh. Too early for Green Day. Even my cats are asleep. Nocturnal, my ass.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005
busy busy busy
Despite my lack of blogging over the holiday weekend, I didn't go anywhere. In fact, I was working with Blogger probably more than anyone who actually did post, since—as you can see by the directive I wrote in my organizer—all I was doing was working on my book. On that front, Biz Stone said nice things and I updated the TOC, along with the writing writing writing (and screenshotting). I'm close to having my acquisitions editor kick my ass, but it's moving along and will be back on schedule by the next milestone (which would be in a week, and it's the 75% milestone).

I did take time out for a barbeque, because my buddy's father is the World's Best Grillmaster. Plus, I had to have my butt handed to me in every card game imaginable by a twelve-year-old. We're not talking about Go Fish (which we did play, and I won, but was told that one of the rules my grandmother taught to me not only wasn't a rule, it was cheating) but more like blackjack. We need to get a fake ID for him and take him up to a casino, pronto. I'm sure he could pay for his own college education with his fine blackjack skills.

I also did a full day's work for my real job, as one of our clients launched this little site that's actually one-fourth of his grand plan to take over the world or something like that. I dunno. If you like inspirational Christian music, go get some free tracks. It's remarkable how much non-heathen work I (a heathen) do.

One last thing: I'm teaching a new class at In addition to the Databases & Dynamic Web Design course that I developed (as in "wrote all the lessons and exercises") and teach, I now also teach Writing JavaScript/DHTML. I didn't develop this course, Jason Cranford Teague did; I just do all the student interaction/question answering/grading. I will undoubtedly have many more students in the JS/DHTML course than my server-side course, because the latter is exceptionally long (150+ printed pages) and intense while the former is, uh...less scary. Jason wrote a pretty fun course, so that bodes well.

School starts in six weeks. I'm going on vacation in two weeks (for three days). Where the heck did the summer go?

Friday, July 01, 2005
moving on to lighthearted things...
Via the business2blog comes the announcement of the latest and greatest release in the iPod line: the iPod Flea.

View the iPod Flea Ad and be sure to watch til the end for information on a wide range of new iPod accessories!

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So. Justice O'Connor retires and...
...the general sentiment among the bloggers whose political views are most closely aligned with mine is: "we're fucked." With O'Connor retiring and Rehnquist in ill health, that will present Dubya with two vacancies to fill. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

I won't be listening much to the traditional media outlets, not that I ever do, for coverage of this situation. Instead, I will be paying close attention to the opinions and analyses of bloggers whose opinions and analyses I trust. For instance:

- Bitch, PhD
- pesky'apostrophe
- Republic of T.
- Shakespeare's Sister

This is not a complete list, of course; to make a complete list would take far too long. I also plan to keep a watchful eye on SCOTUSblog and The Supreme Court Nomination Blog.

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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