No Fancy Name
Sunday, October 30, 2005
I am skeptical.
Via Slashfood comes a post on peanut butter slices. Slices. Slices of peanut butter. Like processed cheese-in-wrap, but...peanut butter.


"We’re still doing the same stuff we did 40,000 years ago. The big difference is that everything is faster now."
Biz Stone [, genius] wrote a lovely foreword for my book. Biz is a rock star, you see, so having him write a few pages for my lowly book is A Big Deal for marketing folks. Biz works at Odeo now, with Evan Williams, Noah Glass, and other select ubergeeks. Evan (and friends) started Blogger, which Google then bought; Biz (and friends) started Xanga, then he went on to Blogger as well, then to Odeo. Noah Glass is the fellow behind Audioblogger. Rock stars, all of 'em.

To understand the title of this post, and to understand why I am now confirming that indeed I am not a large, mustachioed Alsatian man, you'll just have to buy the book. Or, walk past it in the bookstore/library and read the forward...whatever works.

Friday, October 28, 2005
make a decision for me (again)
Since everyone weighed in so well when I asked for help with picking new shoes to buy, you all can pick something else for me.

Apparently I need to provide an image for the back of the book, and my South Park-based avatar can't be used.

So, should I use:
A) crazy morning hair
B) me, if modigliani painted it
C) me & coco2

Vote in the comments below!

UPDATE: C wins. I can't fricking believe I'm going to have a photo of me in a rainbow armband sweater on the back of my book. At least it'll only be 1"x1"....

Thursday, October 27, 2005
Where did it go? Part of me wants my week back, because I still have a ton of things to do before tomorrow.

Then again, I don't want to repeat any part of the week already past, so I guess it's ... as one of my parents' friends says, "six of one, a dozen of the other."

Yeah. Ruminate on that one.

[The same guy has also been known to say, in the context of discussing golf shots, "It's not the length, it's the distance."]

Monday, October 24, 2005
now that I've made friends and influenced people with my bitchy rant below
This would be a great time to mention that today I got the PDF version of my book...that would be Sams Teach Yourself Blogging in a Snap (using Blogger). It runs a bit less than 300 pages—261 of actual content, plus the front matter (which should include a foreword by Biz Stone although I haven't seen it yet and would be sad if it didn't work out) and index.

I have a few days to review it for glaring errors (such as spelling "Blogger" as "Booger" or something like that), and it's off to the printer on Friday. Should be on shelves (virtual or otherwise) in about 4 weeks. Here's the TOC, all final and shit.

One of the most irritating things to me is the expectation of six-nines service (e.g. 99.9999% uptime) from things which are free (or $1/mo). Haloscan, Blogger, LibraryThing, you name it. This is the internet—things happen. Also, people _sleep_ for chrissakes, or at least they sometimes try to. You can't have it both ways (free and always available) and you know what? Even if you pay for something, you're not going to get six-nines service. You'll be lucky if you get two nines. Hell, you'll likely get a nine and an eight, or no guarantee at all. Or maybe a nine and a seven. Maybe a six.

My point is simply this: it is naive to think that everything is always on, even if you are. Blogger sucks because it went down for twenty minutes and I couldn't post about what I did today, or the world is going to end because for several hours no one could leave comments to my post, for the love of god who cares. Who cares? So we're inconvenienced because our blogging service burped. TypePad burps too. So does Yahoo. So does Amazon, and eBay, and every other entity online. Every single one. While we're inconvenienced, there are engineers running around trying to fix whatever the fuck got broken because every nine that drops off the counter means less income for their company and probably they'll be out of a job. The Blogger folks—and there aren't that many of them relative to the size of the company, as Google headcount != Blogger headcount—don't think they don't personally feel the weight of the entire internet on them when Blogger goes down unexpectedly for even a few minutes. It's one of the most fucking stressful feelings ever to watch your app crash to a halt and the collective hate of ten people, let alone 10 million people, focuses itself squarely between your eyes.

And Haloscan? Currently the recipient of the hate of 316,168 people? It's one guy. One guy. He's not sitting back on some island somewhere thinking "ha ha, I took everyone's dollar and now no one can leave comments, teh suckers!" He's probably knee deep in some intermittant and/or indeterminable glitch, with pagers going off and angry emails piling up and realizing that every minute that goes by is one or ten less happy users and one or ten more exponentially compounding bits of bad Internet karma and if he's anything like me he'll want to say something like "everyone just leave me the fuck alone while I try to fix this problem I can't even consistently track down" NOT "screw you"...even though that's what everyone's saying to him. Or to Blogger. Or any other online entity that we have come to rely upon the last few years as some crucial part of our selves. Go take a walk or something and come back later and the whole matrix will all be back in place and we can resume our whatever-insignificant-thing-we-all-blog-about blogging and commenting.

Saturday, October 22, 2005
the mail/ links in post footers

NOTE! My post footer has changed, so some of this info is inaccurate. The concept is fine, but I've changed the links I use.

The other day in a comment Laura (geekymom) asked what was up with these little icons in my post footers and I pointed her to this post where I said I talked about putting the little guys in there. Well, pointing here was a load of crap since I just realized that I didn't actually explain in that post what I did. Sorry Laura!

[Avert your eyes now if template code freaks you out, else continue on...]

Following is the template code I use to produce these links. Note that in some instances I had to break long lines and thus put some whitespace in where technically it shouldn't belong. If you implement any of this code, be sure to collapse any whitespace in URLs/template code that produces URLs AND USE YOUR OWN LINKS TO GRAPHICS.

<span class="PostFooter">
<a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>" title="permanent link">posted</a> by julie at <$BlogItemDateTime$> ...
<$BlogItemControl$> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$> &title=<$BlogItemTitle$>"><img src="[link to image]" alt="add to" title="add to" border="0" width="21" height="10"/></a> <a href=" <$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>"><img src="[link to image]" alt="who's commenting on this post?" title="who's commenting on this post?" border="0" width="21" height="10"/></a> <a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>&btnG=Search+Blogs&hl=en& ui=blg"><img src="[link to image]" alt="blogsearch" title="blogsearch" border="0" width="21" height="10"/></a> ... <a href="javascript:HaloScan('<$BlogItemNumber$>');" target="_self"><script type="text/javascript">postCount('<$BlogItemNumber$>'); </script></a> | <a href="javascript:HaloScanTB('<$BlogItemNumber$>');" target="_self"><script type="text/javascript">postCountTB('<$BlogItemNumber$>'); </script></a>

AAAAARGH! Scary code, must break apart.

Let's start with line 1..
<span class="PostFooter">

This is just the opening tag of the post footer area. Your template will probably differ—a common way in standard Blogger templates to enclose all post footers is in the use of the <p class="post-footer"></p> tag pair. The point of showing Line 1 is just for context, it's not something you'd have to change if you decided to throw little icons into your post footer.

<!-- 2: "posted by" PERMALINK INCLUDES DATE & TIME, MY NAME -->
<a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>" title="permanent link">posted</a> by julie at <$BlogItemDateTime$> ...

Line 2 shows the creation of the permalink in my post footer. The permalink is a basic <a href="..."></a> tag where the Blogger template tag <$BlogItemPermalinkURL$> is used as the value of the href attribute. The <$BlogItemPermalinkURL$> template tag is wildly popular as it can be used for so many things (as you'll see). When your blog is published, and all the lovely template tags are turned into real values, the <$BlogItemPermalinkURL$> template tag is replaced by the full URL to your post (repeated for all posts that are shown on a page). Also used here is the <$BlogItemDateTime$> template tag. This prints the date and time of your post in the date format stored in your settings (dashboard -> settings tab -> formatting).


If "Show Email Post links?" is set to "yes" in your settings (dashboard -> settings tab -> basic), and this template tag is present in your template, Blogger will automatically place a linked envelope graphic wherever this template tag occurs. The link takes the user to the "Email Post to a Friend" interface, and the information for the selected post pre-populates the "Email Post to a Friend" form.

<!-- 4: ADD TO DEL.ICIO.US -->
<a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>&title=<$BlogItemTitle$> "><img src="[link to image]" alt="add to" title="add to" border="0" width="21" height="10"/></a>

This is the first of the three wee icons I added to my post footer. When clicked, this icon will add the post to your bookmarks (provided you have an account and are either logged in or login when asked to do so after clicking the link). The URL is standardized, which allows us to use a combination of static text and Blogger template tags to create the link. The href value is "" + "<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>" + "&title=" + "<$BlogItemTitle$>", that's it. The link surrounds a icon stored on my server.

<a href=" url=<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>"><img src="[link to image]" alt="who's commenting on this post?" title="who's commenting on this post?" border="0" width="21" height="10"/></a>

When clicked, the wee Technorati link will take you to a list of posts linking to my particular post. Typically, there are no Technorati search results for a post, but that's not because Technorati sucks, it's because I do. For instance, a random post from Dr. B produces these Technorati results while a random post from little ol' me does not. My post on expandable blog posts has a few incoming links, though. You get the idea—the link is there, and I (or you) can click it to see who has linked to a particular post.

The href value is "" + "&url=<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>", that's it. The link surrounds a technorati icon stored on my server.

<a href="<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>&btnG=Search+Blogs &hl=en&ui=blg"><img src="[link to image]" alt="blogsearch" title="blogsearch" border="0" width="21" height="10"/></a>

I recently added the Blogger icon as the link for Blogger Backlinks, but I don't like how Blogger Backlinks work. It's not the searching that I mind, because I kept that aspect of it, it's the changes made to the template and the individual post pages that I don't so much dig. When Blogger Backlinks are turned on, code is added to your template that will cause text to be printed to your individual post pages regardless if there are backlinks present or not. I don't like that; I don't like labels (e.g. "Backlinks found:") that have no items under them. It looks like a mistake. Sure, if I were Grandmaster Flash SuperBlogger that wouldn't be an issue because everyone and their cousin would link to my posts. But that's not the case, so instead of printing a lot of labels with no items under them I just removed the Blogger Backlinks functionality from my blog.

This little Blogger icon, when clicked, has the same underlying functionality as Blogger Backlinks: it initiates a search at Google's BlogSearch and returns the results. Most of the time there are no results (again, my fault and not the search engine's fault) but when there are, they are listed. See here, for example. By making this just a link to the search results, I don't have to deal with individual post pages that look funky without backlinks, or individual post pages that do have backlinks but look funky anyway because I can't completely control the output. It's a good idea, the Blogger Backlinks, as everyone has been aware forEVer that the lack of a trackback-like functionality was kinda crappy...but I think that the implementation of Blogger Backlinks (not the search part, that's fine) needs some fine-tuning from a template/output/control standpoint.

So what does the Blogger icon in the post footer link to? Specifically, the href value is "" + "<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>" + "&btnG=Search+Blogs&hl=en&ui=blg". You can change the value "&hl=en" to whatever language encoding you want to use for the interface; for my Spanish-speaking friends, that would be "&hl=es", for Portuguese use "&hl=pt-br" and so on. The link surrounds a blogger icon stored on my server.

... <a href="javascript:HaloScan('<$BlogItemNumber$>');" target="_self"><script type="text/javascript">postCount('<$BlogItemNumber$>'); </script></a> | <a href="javascript:HaloScanTB('<$BlogItemNumber$>');" target="_self"><script type="text/javascript">postCountTB('<$BlogItemNumber$>'); </script></a>

This last big chunk of code is the standard Haloscan commenting and trackback code, using the Blogger template tag <$BlogItemNumber$> to dynamically insert the value of the Blogger item (post) ID. This value is used by Haloscan to relate to the comments and trackbacks stored for your posts.

<!-- 8: POST FOOTER ENDS -->

The end. The post footer <span></span> tag pair is closed. As stated in step one, your template might have a closing </p> tag at the end of your post footer, or something else.

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Friday, October 21, 2005
our new corporate motto
Courtesy of Jane Dark, who noted: "'Stressed' backwards spells 'desserts.'"

As I noted in my comment to dear Ms. Dark, we are often quite stressed in our business. Often we have rewards such as as pie and/or cake (or Peanut Butter Brownie Cupcakes) and trust me, we look forward to things like pie and cake. When I say something like "I need a break, I'm going to get pie," it goes unquestioned—my boss understands. Last year (or maybe the year before, I don't remember exactly), we were working on a project and our creative director aka partner-of-my-boss aka a kickass mom, she baked me a cake. Twice. So yeah: "'Stressed' backwards spells 'desserts'" is my new motto.


friday cat blogging
max and emersoncurious girl
Max lets us know how he really feels about
the collected letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Deuce sticks her nose in things,
like the camera lens.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005
[I don't really think that!]

Somewhere in this post I mentioned that I was an exceptionally lucky little camper because my second presentation in the theory class was going to be E. H. Gombrich's Art and Illusion, a lovely book about the psychology of representation in light of current theories regarding visual perception and learning and blah blah...not actually a book of literary theory.

Well, one of my classmates was to present the week after me but she also had tickets to go hear Stephen Hawking speak. I said no problem, I'll switch weeks with you (always glad for the extra week!), thinking we'd just flip-flop weeks and not books. But no. The prof piped up with "ok, so instead of Art and Illusion, Julie will present on... Deconstruction: Theory and Practice.

That'd be different. So my classmate gets to hear Stephen Hawking and present on the lovely art book. It's a good thing I like her, otherwise I'd be perturbed.

[I actually own the book and it's quite good, but the point is that it's not the lovely art book!]

Tuesday, October 18, 2005
flickr faves
originally uploaded by Mason Poe.
This is one of my Flickr Favorites.

What are some of yours? Leave links in the comments.

Monday, October 17, 2005
now in wikipedia: made-up words in The Simpsons
Via BoingBoing, a link to the "Made-up words in The Simpsons" page at Wikipedia. Total props to the folks who compiled them.

I still think my favorite is embiggen, followed closely by the debigulator and unpossible and of course, Jebus.

two things from Saturday
I totally forgot to tell the Blogosphere all about these really REALLY important things from Saturday:

- My car got four new tires


- I had a good experience at a coffeeshop

I know, how could I have forgotten to tell all of you??!?!??

Let me just say that I really like the Just Tires franchise. I'll probably find out they're some really red company or their tires are really made by babies in sweatshops or something, but the last two times I've had to get tires for my car(s) I've had lovely experiences. In 2001 I needed new crappy tires for crappy Kia Sportage, and was in and out in 30 minutes and everyone was polite and the job was well done. Now I have a nicer car, one that requires something more than the 4 for $100 tires, so I was saving up to get this done. Given that my alignment was a little wacky and one tire was showing threads, I figured this weekend was the time. So I called them on Friday and said I needed 4 Dunlop SP Sport FM901 195/50R16 (that's for you tire geeks out there (Dad)) and they ordered them for the next day. I said I'd come in around noon on Saturday, but I went in a couple hours earlier. No worries, they were all ready and took care of the four tires and an alignment in like an hour and a half. I read Ethan Frome while waiting. They were ever so nice and totally made me feel good about dropping $578. At least I don't have a Mini Cooper like my pal, who dropped a grand on just two tires. Anyone out there who owns a Mini Cooper, PAY ATTENTION to what the manufacturer says about tire rotation. Otherwise you'll be shelling out a ton o' cash far sooner than you should. My Mazda? No such requirements. Just "don't drive over nails" and stuff like that.

But before I went to the tire shop, I went back to Barefoot Coffee, which I wrote about before when I was terribly disappointed with the customer service and general atmosphere. I had been in a few other times and the baristas—while still making an excellent cup of coffee or espresso drink—were just so...pretentious and/or surly. Totally not a place I wanted to park myself for a couple of hours because the vibe was just so negative. Anyway, I went in on Saturday and Andy Newbom if you're reading this, you should make all your baristas take customer service and general attitude lessons from whomever it was that was working Saturday morning. So nice, so customer-oriented, so professional. That's the kind of place I'll drive ten miles out of my way to visit. Plus, the coffee was really good as usual. I had some limited offering fair trade something or other; I was determined to remember the name (something berry, something Americas, something oh hell I don't recall) but alas I did not. See, I was so thrilled at the lovely customer service that I plum forgot. I hope it's like that next weekend, because I really would like to go back.

Sunday, October 16, 2005
lonely LibraryThing books
Phantom Scribbler asked "Do any other Library Thing users feel lonely when you see that you're the only one who owns a favorite book?" and in a comment Susan said that someone should start a post with a list of Library Thing onlies as a way to get book recommendations. Well, 27% of the books (51/190) listed in my Library Thing account are held only by me, and I'm not sure those 51 are books I'd go off recommending everyone put on their reading lists.

But just for the sake of the game, here are 10 of my favorite unshared books (in no particular order):
- Zola and the Bourgeoisie: A Study of Themes and Techniques in Les Rougon Macquarts, by Brian Nelson [I love Zola, enough to wish my French was better than it is (it sucks).]
- Charles Brockden Brown's Revolution and the Birth of American Gothic, by Peter Kafer [although I haven't used it yet for an essay, I know I will more than once so I bought it as a preemptive strike against having to get it via ILL.]
- Cappuccino Cowboy, by Dustin Wells [discussed here]
- The Folding Star, by Alan Hollinghurst [author of The Swimming Pool Library, which I like better than The Folding Star but don't actually own a copy anymore for whatever reason]
- American Gothic: An Anthology, 1787-1916 [who doesn't love anthologies?]
- The Absent Man: Narrative Craft of Charles W. Chestnutt, by Charles Duncan [One of the books I repeatedly checked out of the library and then realized screw it, I'll just buy my own copy]
- Gothic America, by Teresa Goddu [see note above]
- Arthur Rimbaud, by Enid Starkie [My favorite Rimbaud bio]
- Chimney Rock and Shine Hawk, by Charlie Smith [some of the precious little contemporary fiction I own]

school-related update
Last week was light on stories because my classes were pretty thin—there were only a handful of us in Monday's classes (methods, theory) and the ones absent are the ones who do the story-worthy things. We turned in a book review in the methods class and I have this feeling that the people who skipped just didn't have their review done (it was only 3-5 pages, come on!) and then thought if they came to theory class we'd make fun of them or something for not coming to methods class (we wouldn't).

We didn't get our essays back in theory class, and I really wish we had because I hate to have outstanding unknown things bouncing around my brain. The essay was a 6-8 pager, a formalist reading of our target text (Chesnutt's "The Wife of His Youth" in my case). Next week (as in one week from tomorrow) we hand in our second essay, applying mimetic theory to our target text. I'll only have a few days to process how much I screwed up the former (if any) before tackling the let's hope I didn't screw it up too much.

I dig the theory class, and the old fellow who teaches it is an absolute hoot. I'm the only one who thinks so, and that's fine with me—his class isn't the first time I've been the only person laughing at witticisms made by the prof. The theory class isn't required for MA students, but as I just found out last week it is required for MFA students. Go figure. I just thought the MFA students in my class (it's 40/60 MA/MFA) were overachievers but no...apparantly the theory class is some sort of gauntlet they have to make it through. I wish the class were required for MA students as well, because it sure would weed out the, uh, weeds. Then again, a large number of MA students here are middle school/high school teachers and want the degree for the pay raise and will never go on to more schooling or teach any level beyond high school, and they aren't even going to write a thesis in this program (it's optional), so putting requirements like the theory class or writing a thesis into the program would likely send them all running away to neighboring schools and there would be precious few students in the program. So, from a students == money point of view I can see the point of not requiring theory. Plus, those of us with other aspirations recognize the importance of such a class and take it anyway.

Also, I don't know how many karma points I had to cash in to make this happen, but in the theory class I've been randomly assigned the best essay and the best book to summarize and present. By "best" I mean "enjoyable and not at all difficult." The essay I was assigned was Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent," so it was painless. The book I'll talk about in a few weeks when it's my turn again, it's E. H. Gombrich's Art and Illusion. See? Fun. The other books, assigned to other people in the class, not so fun.

In my free time (ha! ha ha ha!), I'm helping my AmLit prof from last semester. She's doing an Alcott book and I'm helping with the glossary by looking up biographical data for obscure people who attended talks and/or hung out at various utopian communities. But I'm also using my mad technical skillz to make the info easier to manage; forms and databases and web-based tools are good that way. It was then pointed out to me by certain people whose projects are all about digital archives of this and that (*cough* Mel *cough*) that I'd be particularly valuable to people if, you know, I mentioned things like this and the fact that I've been working with XML for ten+ years and so on. "Huh," I said. "How about that."

I know the courses I'm taking next semester: the Romanticism seminar, the Victorian seminar, and whatever "period studies in AmLit" seminar is being offered by a particular prof I like. All the periods he usually works with are periods I like, so it's all good. The semester after that (fall '06) I'm going to take the second part of the MA exam, because by then I'll be very comfortable with all things 19th/20th C Am/British ; I'll take the first part of the MA exam in spring '07 after taking the survey courses for things i'm not terribly thrilled about (17th/18th C British, that would be you). That's my plan.

bookish updates
I should have PDFs of book chapters to review on the 24th. Typically the layout folks do a good job and I just take a day to review files and give them my blessing before they go to print. The only new Blogger things not included in the book are backlinks, and I'll write a topic about them once the book is out. That's how I'll tackle updates—when something in the book changes or something new is added to Blogger, I'll write a new topic for the book blog and link it from my site. The book is still scheduled to be available sometime in November, toward the end I imagine.

Last week I was supposed to revamp the TOC for one of my other books, because we're going to do a third edition soon. By "soon" I mean "I told them I could do it over winter break." The semester ends the 15th of December or thereabouts, and the spring semester doesn't start up til the very end of January, so that's a good time to do an update edition of a book. It's also (typically) a slow(er) time at work, and we are "closed" between Christmas and New Year's anyway, so all signs point to go. But in order to get the go-ahead to do a new edition during that timeframe, I have to get them the revamped TOC like...last week. I'll do it today; it's more a formality, a general idea of how much I'm going to change, rather than something written in stone. But hey, the extra money will be good as I continue my grand plan of being debt-free (except for the house, of course) in two years.

Friday, October 14, 2005
BUY THIS CD: Tremolo - "Love is the Greatest Revenge"
I wanted my buddy to write this blog post, because she can do a much better job describing the various nuances of the music and blah blah blah, plus she's known the frontman for like ever. But alas, she's too busy to guest post (and since she's also my boss you might think "but hey, shouldn't you be too busy to post this?" and you would be right, but some things—like this CD—are so good that posting about it is more important than whatever else I should be doing for these ten minutes).

You must buy this CD. It is really, really, really good. Since I can't describe why it's good, I will only say that I like every single track on the CD. When was the last time that happened? Ok, so maybe that happens to you all the time but rarely do I come across a CD where I like every song. Heck, I often skip through CDs from even my most favorite artists, CDs I've owned for years and years. But not this one. Every song is good. Every song is solid.

To learn more about this wonderful group and to hear sound clips and what not, please visit:
- Tremolo web site
- iTunes

Also? They're good folks:
With the album "Love Is The Greatest Revenge" recently released on FLAGSHIP Recordings, [Justin Dillon] is putting 50% of all of the record royalties into a benevolence trust fund.

Yes, you read that right—50%.

Called the Love>Revenge Fund, through online voting, fans are able to decide where the trust fund money they contributed via their record purchase goes—be it cancer research, tsunami relief, AIDS hospice, anti-slavery operations, or the charity of their choice. Fans are also able to gain exposure for the causes that matter most to them on the site.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005
unfinished zombies

unfinished zombies
unfinished zombies,
originally uploaded by cakeyvoice.
Continuing the zombie theme from my previous post, I think these are awesome.

technorati tag:

Curse of the Zombie Pumpkins!
Via my boss, who sent me this link right after I IM'd that my calm had been ruined [aside: if anyone sees a "she's damaging my calm" tshirt anywhere, do let me know]...Curse of the Zombie Pumpkins, which is a site filled with all sorts of pumpkin carving patterns.

Like Harry Potter and others in the Movie Monsters category, or Buffy, Spike, and various Simpsons in the TV Terrors category, get the idea. Very cool.

Check 'em all out here and you can get access to the entire library here via contribution—$2, $5, whatever.

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the starbucks challenge
Since GZombie has had mixed results with the Starbucks Challenge, I figured I'd take it up this morning because I have great confidence in my Starbucks [if you look at this map you'll see that my "local" Starbucks could be one of like fifteen in a 5-mile radius, not to mention the hundreds of others in this general area; this challenge was restricted to the one I go to almost every day].

Me: Do you have any Fair Trade coffee brewed? [Immediately I realized I should have said "Fair Trade certified" because Barista1 said...
Barista1: No, but our Cafe Estima is like the Fair Trade.
Me: "like" Fair Trade? [thinking, isn't it just Fair Trade or not?]
Barista1: Yes, it's bold and flavorful much like the Fair Trade.

Oops. Yeah, see I forgot that the Fair Trade Blend is actually also the name of one of their coffees, not just a certification.

Barista2: [I think he knew what I was up to] The Cafe Estima is Fair Trade certified.
Me: Awesome! I'll take a venti.

So there you go. I screwed up the script, but the point is that the Fair Trade certified coffee was one of the three brewed coffees ready for consumption. This means that I couldn't get them on the "so, can I have some pressed for me since you don't have it brewed" question, but I'd rather this store get a gold star for having it readily available for all consumers.

Location: 1041 E Capitol Expy, San Jose, CA

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005
oh, and last night? I lit myself on fire.
Seriously. That's how much of a dumbass I am sometimes. Sure, it was 3am but that's no excuse.

I had the kettle on the front burner and was reaching for a package of cereal which was in the back of the cabinet above the range, so there was standing-on-toes and leaning forward. Luckily I am not quite as fat as I was a few months ago and it was just my shirt that was hanging over the electric burner. I smelled something burning, said to myself "what's that smell?" and looked around for a piece of paper or something that might have gotten on the burner but no, it was just my shirt. Except I didn't see the flaming part because it's a baggy shirt and my boobs were in the way because I was still leaning forward, so it wasn't til a few more seconds had passed and I realized that indeed my shirt was on fire.

I looked at it, laughed a little, then put it out with my fingers. It wasn't a big flame or anything, but the hem of one of my favorite tshirts now has a chunk burned out of it. No real harm done, I made my tea and continued on with my work.

a kick-ass musician needs a helping hand
Caroline Aiken is one of those extraordinarily talented musicians-you've-never-heard...or if you're really hip and/or have spent any time in coffeehouses in the South over the last twenty-plus years, you have heard of her and you know she's awesome.

She also just significantly thrashed her wrist—pins, plates, no mobility, etc—in a biking accident. From her site:
While riding her bike along a bike path in a small town in Georgia, guitarist and singer-songwriter Caroline Aiken had to strongly brake in order to avoid a car that had suddenly turned in front of her. Caroline was catapulted over her bike handles, landing with enough force to severely fracture her left wrist.

Sadly for her fans and for her, Caroline was to embark next week on her fall tour to promote her new CD, "Are We There Yet Mama?". The Tour was to take her throughout the United States and over to the British Isles, Germany and the Netherlands. At this time, all plans are for later in the spring of 2006 to return to Europe when, with rehab work on her wrist, she will be back to great form.
As you can imagine, it is exceptionally difficult to play the guitar with one hand. It is thus extremely difficult to perform, teach, and otherwise use your hands to make a living when one of them is pinned and plated and doesn't bend.

So. There's a benefit at Eddie's in Decatur on October 21st. All the usual suspects will be there, because probably 99% of them wouldn't be where they are without Caroline. Certain blue women included. If you're nearby, go to it. Throw a buck in the hat. Buy a CD (or 2 or 3). If you can't go because you live far away (that would be me), buy a CD or send a donation to: Bond Community Federal Credit Union, c/o Caroline Aiken Fund, P.O. Box 5286, Atlanta, Ga. 31107 and reference account # 14332003-01.

For more information on Caroline, check her web site, which includes a discography with sound clips. She's awesome, and now she's hurt, and that sucks. Help her if you can.


Yes, it was custardy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
This is a fruit tart(let). It is my reward. I am now embarking on (possibly) my last night of all-night working (for a few weeks) on the Enterprise App Taking Over My Life. In the morning, when I have finished the last four chunks of stuff and handed a set of files to my boss, I can eat this tart(let).

Actually, I can eat the tart(let) AND take a nap. My boss just said so.

Also, I got an A on my first wee assignment (a critique of an article). Mom and Dad, you can send my dollar anytime.

Monday, October 10, 2005
and the winner is...
Well, you're all winners, but the person who gets my digital camera is Dr. B. BUT WAIT. Did you think that I, a person very fond of my own cats, would be unmoved by Disarray's blind kittens? Of course I was moved. So, I will send a Vivitar Vivicam 3315 to the rescue group. WINNERS: contact me at jcmeloni at gmail dot com with your addresses.

Camicao and Michelle, you had compelling arguments and were it not for Dr. B and her kid, my little Converse buddy to whom I have been known to send books and toys, and the blind kittens (blind kittens!), I would have sent cameras to you two as well.

But stay tuned because sometime in the next two weeks I'm giving away my 15GB iPod because I've ordered a nano. Yes, it's a downgrade in storage, but I'd rather have three days of music on a wee nano than eleven days of music on something that is unwieldy in my pocket. I know, I'm an elitist snob.

Saturday, October 08, 2005
I gave blood today—which is notable not because I gave blood (I try to do that as much as possible) but because my iron level was finally high enough to donate. Three cheers for Floradix (and Mel for telling me to get some at Whole Foods).

Unlike last time, I had a wonderful needle-sticker. She was very efficient and I didn't even feel the damn thing during the sticking or the removing. When I donated in April the person doing the sticking was pretty crappy at it, to the point that the experience made me queasy...and I don't get queasy.

So here's a reminder that if you're able, donate blood. It's cheaper than cash and gets dispersed a lot quicker. According to the guilt-inducing animated graphic at the web site for my donation center, someone needs blood every two seconds. That means 115 people have needed blood in the time it took for me to compose this message.

Friday, October 07, 2005
free to a good home: Vivitar Vivicam 3750 digital camera
Who wants a digital camera? I have one just sitting here gathering dust. I never go anywhere camera-worthy, and for little things I have my cameraphone, so...who wants it?

It's a Vivitar Vivicam 3750, your basic $100 digital camera. Works great. Comes with camera, little case, and a USB Cable. You can get drivers from Vivitar as well as the user guide (pdf).

The person who writes the best "why I want a free digital camera/this is how I'll use my free digital camera" comment in the comments below, gets the camera. You have til Monday noon PST (a completely arbitrary time I just thought up).

UPDATE: The contest is over. Winners have been chosen.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005
better living through chemistry

The morning begins again.

What did you eat/drink to start your day?

in which my blog turns boring
[Turns boring? they all say, as if it were heretofore a rollicking good time]

You would think I'd have copious free time now that the book is off to layout, but you'd be wrong. There's the pesky enterprise app and the management thereof, which sucks time and life (yes, both books!) right out from under me, and causes great stress for my boss. The good news is that it will eventually end, the bad news is that "eventually" is about six weeks away. I am so very, very over it. I have never enjoyed reading lit theory as much as I do now, if only because it is not my work. I hate my work. This is not news to my boss, lest any of you think I've just dooced myself or something.

My brain is tired. My eyes are tired. My knees hurt (although that's a function of the weather, my constant sitting position, and a whole host of other factors not related to my work, but it's still annoying). The process that we have to deal with in order to get our work done is maddening; we spend more time managing people outside our company, who are technically supposed to be managing us, that when the end of the day rolls around we have little of our own work done. For example, right now it's a quarter past four in the morning and I have a little bit of a lot of things completed from my list. But that's worthless, since it's only the completed stuff that counts and that's not what I have. I have three hours to finish a ton of things, and I won't. I am too tired, I can't think clearly, and this day is going to suck ass. As will tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, through Monday when I'll have to deliver a "complete" thing that will then be hammered on and this whole process will start over.

So let me talk about school. I love it. It makes me happy. The nine hours I spend in class each week and the couple hours on the weekend when I do all my reading or essay writing, it's like a vacation. Yes, of course I should be spending a hell of a lot more time on schoolwork but unfortunately my petition for more hours in the day and days in the week was never approved by whatever higher power controls those things.

I don't have any stories about poor students who write poems instead of giving presentations, but I think at this point in the semester other students are just as annoyed with her as I have been. My methods prof, a very patient fellow, avoids looking in her general direction and thus doesn't always see her when she wants to make a comment. But he let her speak once, whereupon she said "there is some really crazy shit in here, really weird." We are reading Redrawing the Boundaries and the "here" to which she refers is Marjorie Perloff's essay on Modernist studies (it's not weird). Student begins reading the "crazy and weird" part, which goes something like this: "From [x to y to z], modernism perceived its own mission as a call for rupture." We were all very puzzled as to the "crazy and weird" part, even the students who hate the book and are in school only to get their MA for the pay raise it brings to public school teachers. No one said anything and we quickly moved on. But hey, at least she didn't write a poem about it. This is the same student who still thinks that our "scholarly book review" is just a book review done by a grad student (not a review of a scholarly book used in our research), and who selected To The Lighthouse as her target text for our seminar project in the theory class ("choose a short story or narrative poem") until we finally beat the meaning of "short story" into her (we all held up our copies of our own target texts and noted the difference in thickness), and who, when she asked me what book I was reviewing and I said Providence Tales and the Birth of American Literature said "oh, he'll like that" (as if it matters or not what the prof "likes") because "that seems to be his field." Hmm. This book: late 17thC New England. Prof's field: Victorian. Well, I guess the fields are both...old? Contain books? Whatever.

Also? I am soooo not a fan of Gertrude Stein.

Saturday, October 01, 2005
sure, developing enterprise applications is difficult, but so is essay-writing
Lucky for me, I get to do both. What fun! Oh, the excitement! Or not.

It is very difficult to develop enterprise apps (ok, so I'm only developing the one right now, and hopefully that will be it for the rest of my life, but somehow I doubt it) during the week and then wake up on Saturday morning all prepared to be scholarly. Should that be scholar-like? Or scholar-lite? Anyway, it's difficult.

I just finished the first of my two writing assingments due next week. I did the easier one first, as I am wont to do with...everything in my life, actually. This assignment (AmLit course) was just a short critique of an essay that may or may not figure into our seminar projects. In my case, it will not, because I don't agree with the points made and ultimately the article doesn't really fit with what I'm going write about anyway. But it was the article I had read the closest when it was time to sit down and write a critique, so there you go. [The essay is Joseph Csicsila's "Louisa Ellis and the Unpardonable Sin: Alienation from the Community of Human Experience as Theme in Mary Wilkins Freeman's 'A New England Nun'" in American Literary Realism 30.3 if any of you care, and if you do care then you're a huge geek but that's ok.]

Now I think I have to switch over to some work stuff (although not the Enterprise App Taking Over My Life), namely a zip-code search function for a database of golf courses that provide equipment and access for disabled golfers. Seriously. One of our clients is an organization behind increasing opportunities for disabled folks to play golf, and this is one of their projects. I'll maybe say something next week about them, because it is important.

Then I have to write a formal analysis of Chesnutt's "The Wife of His Youth."

Then it's back to the Enterprise App Taking Over My Life, and the following weekend I'll be writing a book review of Providence Tales and the Birth of American Literature. Also, I've kept up with all my reading in my three classes. I think I should get a cookie as a reward. Or cake. Or both!

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