No Fancy Name
Monday, July 31, 2006
i've planned the posts i want to write about blogher
I swear, I've written seminar papers (and book chapters) with less thought put into them than I've spent in the last two days thinking about BlogHer. But I've talked through what I want to say with Mel, and she seemed to think my thoughts made sense and weren't inflammatory or anything of that ilk, so I should just get on it and start writing, huh?

Tentatively, I'm going to write five six posts, one each on:

* conference logistics/sponsors

* conference sessions, and edublogging in particular

* uncomfortable heteronormativity

* why more than a few attendees now feel incredibly ambivalent about blogging

* the people I met (or didn't)

* where I go from here


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Sunday, July 30, 2006
there IS a blogher post forthcoming
I'm not a getting-out-into-crowds sort of person, so spending 15 hours in the company of 700 people made my brain a little mushy. Also, I wanted to wait a little bit and collect my thoughts, and sort of gauge the responses of some of the other folks whose opinions I tend to share, etc.

I do know one thing: I am very, very glad that Geeky Mom and trillwing were there. What wonderful people with whom to spend significant chunks of time.

Ok, one more thing. The blogger most often referred to in conversation, either in wishing she were here or bringing her into the conversation pretending she were here? Phantom.

[updates here]

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Wow. It just started to downpour. I think this is super unusual. Good think the car race is over else this would really throw a wrench into things. Driving around a race course full of tight turns and bumpy roads, going a gajillion miles per hour, in the rain? Sounds safe...

But anyway, the downpour has slowed down to just a drizzle.

I suppose this is the closest we get to the whole thunderstorms-wash-away-the-heat thing that I know from my childhood (spent elsewhere). It's strange to look out my window at the end of July and watch the clouds just dump for ten minutes, then move on.

friday night sushi with dr. free-ride and geeky mom
I'm the big lazy loser of the bunch, because although we agreed to each blog our dinner experience separately in a Rashoman-like experiment, I'm the last of the bunch to do it. See? Geeky Mom did hers, and so did Dr. Free-Ride.

Let's start with my day(s) leading up to this exceptional outing...because it is my blog and therefore all about me. At my company, we're a vendor. That means, for the most part, we work on our clients' terms rather than our own. For as much as we try to beat into our clients the optimal way to do things from a scheduling and organizational standpoint, not only for the sake of their budget but also our sanity, tasks often do not work out that way. In such instances, we often find ourselves with an extremely important task handed to us at the deadline, and the need for everything to happen flawlessly and immediately, but without any time to prepare such flawless and immediate work because it was all handed to us at the deadline.

Anyway, the relevance of that story is this: at 3:30pm on Friday (I was to pick Geeky Mom up at 6:30ish) I had been up for about 36 hours straight, sitting on my butt working non-stop, and I was smelly and really needed a shower...and a nap. I managed to pull it together, though, and headed off to the Hyatt with the hope that I would recognize Geeky Mom from her avatar.

I did, except her avatar doesn't show that she's about thisbig. Seriously. I'm not terribly big (except around), but I think I'm twice her size. But despite her small stature, she has a huge personality and a big brain, so with my large size, small personality, and small brain it all evened out.

Now, I already knew Dr. Free-Ride is awesome, since she was my philosophy prof and we see each other frequently. But Geeky Mom is also totally awesome! We got in the car and began the nonstop chattering that people do when it's like they're old pals, despite the fact that they were heretofore faceless inviduals from inside the internet tubes.

So the dinner. I take full responsibility for the shitty, shitty service at the otherwise awesome sushi place. I go to this particular place (Hanamaru, 675 S Bernardo Ave, Sunnyvale) all the time and I have very low expectations for service when I go there. The waitstaff does not seem to be a professional waitstaff—that is, people who do it for a fulltime job and therefore learn tricks of the trade (or even the basics of the trade), and there is often a language barrier (their bad english, my bad japanese), but when I go by myself or with other people who go there a lot, this bad service is just something we expect, and deal with, and chalk it up to the charm of the place. But when you take out-of-towners or people with special dining needs (vegetarians), all the bad service is exacerbated and gets a little frustrating and the person who raved about the place, such as myself, often feels terrible about it.

But that didn't stop us from eating two full waves of sushi and talking talking talking for a couple hours! Geeky Mom, despite her small stature, can put away the sushi. She learned, first-hand, of my bottomless pit of a stomach for all things sushi-related. Dr. Free-Ride got all these vegetarian rolls that I've never tried, and so now I have a ton of things to try the next time I go there.

We talked about a gajillion things, although I must admit I spaced out for a moment and tried valiantly to flag down a waitress for more beer when they talked about their various birthing stories. C-sections, breech babies, water breaking, other stories...I have nothing to contribute in that area but I shifted uncomfortably in my seat as a show of support. Dr. Free-Ride has an awesome run-down of the other things we actually talked about. Some of my favorites:
* The range of technical abilities, not to mention willingness to try to figure things out, manifested by faculty members who interact with academic technologists.

* Some bloggers seem to look like how they blog. [STILL trying to figure this one out]

* Why it might be that some faculty members don't have any apparent strategies for dealing with disruptive students in graduate classes.

* How we might program BlogHer if we had control over such things.

* Our abiding distrust for vendors of a certain sort at conferences.

* The inadvisability of letting one's cat develop a sushi habit.

* Hour 40 of not-sleeping is about when the hallucinations start.
I wish travelling around the country/world wasn't so time-consuming and cost-prohibitive. There are some awesome people in our little corner of the blogosphere. I'm lucky Dr. Free-Ride is just down the hall from me in the faculty office building, but Geeky Mom is waaaaay over on that other coast. Sad.

Although I'm still trying to figure out what "you look just like you write!" means, which was the first thing she said to me. I look like I use a lot of ellipses, semi-colons, and hyphens? Neat...

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006
important info for BlogHer attendees: how to get to starbucks
For anyone going to BlogHer this weekend, I offer two tidbits of info, with the first being of most importance: how to get to the nearest Starbucks, and how to get to a really good and fun Japanese steak house nearby. Lo, through the power of Google Maps, I give you:

It's 5 minute walk, if that. I believe this SBUX opens at 5:30am like the rest, and closes at midnight, but I'm not certain. It's in a little cluster of stores in the parking lot of a group of corporate office buildings (it serves the office folk). Also in the cluster are a bank, a sushi place, a mexican place, and a soup/salad kind of place (I think). I can't vouch for the three restaurants, just the Starbucks.

hyatt to house of genjiFROM THE HYATT TO HOUSE OF GENJI
If you dig Japanese steak houses (I do!) or even just cocktail bars, House of Genji is really fun and good. Many a birthdays have been had there. Next door to it is a chinese restaurant. Both places have plenty of seating.

If anyone has any questions about how to get around the area, or places to go for food or shopping, let me know. I won't be there on Friday but I will be there on Saturday, especially to lend support to the lovely and talented Geeky Mom as she does a thing on EduBlogging.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006
i think my flooring guy is a robot
First, I'd like to congratulate California for staying powered on today. Spectacular! It was a few degrees cooler today (only 95 or so here), but still—hooray for conservation. I did my part by running only a small fan, the fridge, and my computer. I really had no choice, because the flooring guy had to have to door open all day...

Speaking of my flooring, it's really lovely. I'm so happy with it. I had better be happy, since I paid the equivalent of a small foreign car for it! I did a pretty crappy job on the painting this morning, though, and this weekend I'll redo three of the walls. No big deal. I also have to paint inside the coat closet. I'm particularly pleased with the wood and baseboards in the closet. Makes it look all professional, not like "oh, there's a closet there? Let me throw a carpet scrap on the floor" like the way it has been since I bought it. I've moved most of my furniture back into the living room (including the magic sleeping couch and the TV), and I'll do the rest tomorrow night and then give the floor a good swiffering.

The cats were lovely. They were in the bedroom all day long, and Max only puked twice in protest. Well, protest and the heat, I'm sure. He's puked several more times since then. Stress and all that. He'll get over it. Deuce, she of the wicked claws and teeth of two weeks ago, she was fine. She hid somewhere and made not a peep.

So why do I think my flooring guy is a robot? Because from 9:30 until 4:45, he worked and worked and worked and didn't take more than a 5-minute cigarette break, didn't drink anything, didn't eat anything, and most shocking of all—he didn't sweat. All I was doing was sitting at my table, in the kitchen, working at my laptop all day, and I was a damp and disgusting mess. He must be a robot.

Monday, July 24, 2006
this is getting old
Power went out again at 2pm. It just came 9:25pm.

The worst part of it is that calling the outage number (on my cel, because my cordless phone doesn't work when the power is out) to get a time estimate for restoration of service, they didn't even try to guess. I got the ol' "due to widespread outages, we have no idea" answer. Lovely.

So. Flooring guys come tomorrow, and I still haven't finished painting the walls. Good thing they don't come until 10am.

On the plus side, I've rediscovered how lovely it is to sleep in a bed. See, I don't use a bed. I have a perfectly lovely bed and I've slept in it exactly five times in the last four years. I am a sleep-on-the-couch-in-front-of-the-TV person. I don't like the silence and the dark of a bedroom. Yes, I realize that can be solved with a clock radio, but then I'd miss all the TVLand and Nick at Nite and Cartoon Network shows. I'm only partially kidding.

Anyway, since the TV is currently in the bedroom with all the rest of my stuff (unplugged and shoved in the closet), and the couch is currently standing on its end in my kitchen (great kitty fun!), I had no choice but to curl up on part of my bed (the other part has many boxes full of books) and chant for coolness. The coolness never arrived, but I did take a few naps. I might have to re-train myself to sleep in a bed.

But damn, this heat needs to break and the power needs to stay on. I can't imagine how the elderly are doing (according to the news, not terribly well).

so about that heat... finally knocked out our power.

Yesterday I went with some school chums to see To Catch a Thief at 5:30, followed by food and ice cream at the Palo Alto Creamery. At 4:30pm, it was still over 100 degrees out. I got an urgent email from one of the outing participants, who asked if I could please pick her up so she could sit in my lovely airconditioned car. No problem. I picked her up at a friend's house, where she was staying because—you guessed it—friend had AC and she did not.

So we journeyed to Palo Alto and watched the movie—there were hundreds of people in the theatre, and this theatre is not one of the cineplex super-AC kindas of theatres. There was a breeze, but it was still probably 80 or 85 in the theatre. After the movie, we walked down to the Creamery and had food, then discovered that they were having serious problems with their ice cream. Namely, the majority of their ice cream was soupy. The compressors couldn't keep the ice cream cold enough. But that's ok—we had warmish and soupy ice cream sodas and malts anyway.

Driving my school chum back to her friend's house, once we got off the freeway we noticed the surface roads were very dark—power outage! Let me tell you, if you think people freak out and don't know what to do at a blinking red traffic signal, people really don't know what to do when the signal is out entirely! I adopted the "let everyone else sort it out/don't trust anyone" approach and we made it safely to our destination—a neighborhood pocket of light.

Then I started to worry about my neighborhood, becuase if the power was off then the fan was off and my place was probably sweltering and my poor cats were probably cursing my name. Lo and behold, I was right! The power was off, it was really hot, and the cats were cursing my name. I grabbed the flashlight (the kind with the huge battery) and stuck it on its end in the middle of my bedroom—where all my belongs are, since the flooring guys are coming tomorrow—and proceeded to sit in a chair and sweat all night long.

The power came on at 5:30 or so. I turned on the fan and so far it's only 82 or so in the house. I can still get by with not turning on the AC, as long as I'm not painting (or moving around in general). It's 92 outside now, and should get up to 100. That's better than the last few days, but the power grid system status looks worse than yesterday, which is understandable since now people are at work! Oy. Conserve, people, conserve! The only think on in my house is the fridge, my computer, and a fan.

briefly on the technorati update
For those of you who use Technorati and/or read the Technorati blog, you'll note that they rolled out a major update to the interface.

Looking at the bullet list of updates, or just the site itself, one will see a lot of IA/GUI changes. Having spent all of about a minute looking at the new site, and my first impression being "huh, that's a lot of color," clearly I'm not prepared to say anything else about it. These are the most important things to me:
* Technorati's rolled out a major update [...] to our back-end systems.
* We've made some major speed and accuracy improvements in core search.
* Link counting is a lot more accurate and timely.
I don't give a flip about color and IA if the underlying numbers aren't right. I still hold to my statement that of all the blog searchy things out there, Technorati's has always been (for me) the most consistent and accurate. Maybe I'll say more when I actually use the new stuff.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006
i give up. the heat wins.
The flooring guys will be here on Tuesday to install the rest of the laminate flooring. This means I have to rip up the carpet and baseboards before then, which I have. Well, that's not entirely true. A stack of the stuff is sitting outside my door because I have no more energy to drag it to the dumpster. Also, there's a small square of carpet still tacked down because...see above: I give up!

Oh yeah, I also started to paint the room. It's probably 1/3 complete. But again, see above: I give up!

Maybe tonight (after the sun goes down) I'll drag that stuff to the dumpster. Then tomorrow I'll finish painting in the morning—hooray for getting up before the sun—and then when it's a reasonable hour I'll pull up that remaining square of carpet (it involves a hammer).

The only furniture remaining in my living room/dining room is my couch and my TV/TV cabinet. My dining room table, which is not used for eating but for working, is currently in my kitchen. That's where I am right this moment. On Tuesday morning I will shove my couch into my bedroom and close the door, with the cats safely tucked in that room along with their litter, food, and water. Since the flooring was put down in there, they've spent the majority of their time in that room anyway, so it won't freak them out.

My TV/TV cabinet is heavy, and those slider things don't work so well on concrete. I think I'll leave it in the middle of the floor and slide it onto the finished laminate when the guys get to that spot, then slide it back in place when the floor is complete. I don't think that will be a big problem for them, because they won't have to do anything with it, and it'll be out of their way in the middle of the floor when the nail in the baseboards.

After Tuesday, I'll be done with a good chunk of stuff on this house-fixing list. It'll be down to some relatively minor painting in some small areas, demolishing/removing some bathroom sinks/cabinets, and then paying someone to replace bathroom sinks/cabinets, re-bath the shower/tub, and lay some linoleum in small areas. Compared to this crap, that's nothing. I really, really, really want to have as much of that done as I can before school starts in exactly one month. That's an agressive deadline, but boy will it be nice to rid my brain of this stuff.

Friday, July 21, 2006
a scanner darkly
Last night I went to see A Scanner Darkly, and I loved it. I read the book a long time ago, so much so that I only vaguely remembered the plot, but a quick trip to wikipedia cleared that up. I felt the film adaptation was true to the book, but that's based on vague memories jogged by wikipedia, so who knows. I do know that knowing the story did not ruin the film for me at all. There were so many other good points, namely:

* casting. I truly cannot think of any other actors better suited for these roles. Typically, I am neither a Keanu Reeves fan (despite his presence in a number of my favorite movies, go figure) nor a Woody Harrelson fan. But in this film, Keanu did what Keanu should have done, and was who Keanu should have been, so it worked. Woody Harrelson was really, really good. I think he just played himself. Robert Downey Jr., whom I normally like, was pretty spectacular. Winona Ryder, she was fine. Rory Cochrane fit in really well, and as a whole, I thought they all worked great together.

* rotoscoping. I love good animation of all types, and I really dig rotoscoping, especially when it's done really well—which this is. I haven't seen Linklater's Waking Life, which is also rotoscoped, but I think it'll be in my Netflix queue soon. I don't think this movie would have been nearly as stimulating, and therefore thought-provoking, without the rotoscoping.

* score. I don't typically buy soundtracks unless they're really, really, really super good and can be played over and over again without me ending up hating it...and I believe I'll be purchasing this one. It's a bunch of Radiohead/Thom Yorke, plus some remixes of the score by DJ Spooky and Jack Dangers. Good stuff.

Multiple thumbs up.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006
who the hell cooks in this heat?
Me, that's who. I hadn't cooked much of anything recently, because it's so darn hot and also because when I did get an idea to cook something, I didn't have all the ingredients and going to the store would have meant a trip into the heat. But last night I made an old classic, creamy corn and garlic risotto (follow the link for photo and recipe), and tossed a chicken breast into the oven. It was lovely, and I made a double batch of the risotto so I'm good for a few days.

What I really want to make is Rachel Ray's Cabbage and Straw. I saw it in this month's issue of Every Day with Rachel Ray (what? the use of "EVOO" and "yum" is significantly reduced in print, so it's ok). It has all my favorite things in it: pasta, potatoes, cabbage, garlic, butter, cheese. What's not to like? Unfortunately, I'm out of potatoes, fettuccine, cabbage, garlic, sage, and cheese, so I'll have to make it another day. Preferably a cooler day...


Tuesday, July 18, 2006
I recommend MUNDO CORP!
Kinda sounds like a Muppet—"Mundo!"—doesn't it? But Mundo Corp is a real company in Dandridge, TN that just happens to be "The Gateway laptop and Gateway notebook parts and repair specialists."

Now why do I recommend Mundo Corp? Because yesterday I ordered a replacement part (heat sink & fans) for my several-years-old M675 laptop, and UPS dropped it off just a little bit ago. I took out the old one, put in the new one, and I am once again a happy camper.

The fan—that is, the noise of the fan—was the one knock against the M675s when they came out a few years ago. But by the time my buddy got hers, and Kathy got her behemoth Gateway laptop, the Gateway folks had figured something out and put in a better fan. About a month ago, my fan developed a scraping noise, but whacking the side of my laptop fixed it and I moved on. Well, after a day of saying "oh my god, I have to get a new machine!" I moved on. Two days ago that noise came back, and I took it apart again and cleaned it out...boy did I clean it out. I've always cleaned out the innards (compressed air, yay!) but this time I flipped the entire assembly upside down and tilted it toward the light, then proceeded to pull a large chunk of dust and gunk. Remarkably, the fan worked much better after that, but the scraping noise was still there. I then noticed a missing fan blade, and fished it out of the inner workings. Voila, scraping noise went away.

But I went through another day of "oh my god, I have to get a new machine! It's almost 4 years old! It's noisy!" until wise friend talked me off the ledge and I went looking for a replacement fan. I had looked before and come up empty, but this time I modified my searching and found what I needed...from MUNDO CORP!

My computer is much quieter now, so much so that I had to flip it upside down and open up the back to ensure the fan was actually working (it was)! Yay. $100 for fan and fast shipping is much less than $1400 for a new machine. I continue to be a person who loves Gateway, and now with Mundo Corp I know I'm covered if ever I need a new part.

Saturday, July 15, 2006
blah blah saturday blah blah
* Thanks to everyone who left a comment on the post about The Dreadful Day of Flooring, Cats, and Cars. Nice to know my stream-of-consciousness text dump brought a little chuckle to everyone's day. My parents said it was even funnier the second time around (I told them on the phone before I wrote it all out).

* The floor is still lovely, I got my car from the dealer on Wednesday (all fixed), and my hand is almost entirely healed—I'd say 90%. I can make a fist, just my ring finger is still stiff in the joints and my thumb is still kind on puffy. Hooray for 10-day antibiotic treatments and bacitracin.

* My cats love the floor. I'm glad they enjoy hanging out in that room, because on Tuesday the 25th they'll be spending the entire day in there as the guys take care of the living room/dining area...

* Saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on Thursday with my school chums/movie buddies. I have loved that Johnny Depp since A Nightmare on Elm Street, and I still do. He's just spectacular. I think I liked the first PotC movie more than the second, but it was still fun. The three of us seemed to be the only ones laughing at everything—at least all the linguistic stuff. We would laugh heartily and people would turn and look at us, not laughing. Whatever. People are dumb. The "eunuch snippy-snippy" line? That was funny.

* Being godless heathens, we made wisecracks at the preview for The Nativity Story. Well, not the first time. The first time we just said, "Huh. Ok." But we were treated to the same preview twice. Wisecracks occurred on the second preview. Seriously. Twice? I'd rather have seen the Transformers preview twice.

* Only five more weeks until school starts. Yay!


Wednesday, July 12, 2006
my flooring is beautiful but... hand? It will be scarred.

The flooring guys came out on Monday at 10am to put lovely beech laminate flooring and white colonial baseboards in my 12x13 bedroom. They were a few minutes early, enough so that I hadn't locked the cats in the bathroom yet (the front door had to be open while they were working). Max, my old cat, he loves people so it was no problem picking him up and putting him in the bathroom (although he was a little bummed he didn't get to hang with the people, of course). But Deuce, bless her little heart, was born a feral cat. Although she is now four years old and I've had her since she was two months old, she is quite terrified of people-who-are-not-me. I guess when you get thrown down into a sewer and have caustic goop thrown on top of you when you're a few weeks old, burning off parts of your fur and necessitating a month-long stay in a vet hospital after being rescued by a vet tech who happened to pass by the scene and hear your cries for help, well, that's imprinted on your wee psyche.

So when I reached under the pile of stuff on the couch where she had wedged herself, so I could pull her out and put her in the bathroom, she flipped out. Flipped. Out. She peed all over the couch, all over me, and scratched and bit the living fuck out of my right hand. I got her into the bathroom, and she and Max sat quietly on the counter for the next five hours—not a peep out of them. Meanwhile, I was bleeding from a deep scratch on my thumb and approximately eight punctures on my fingers. The flooring guys sort of looked at me like "uh, you're bleeding" and I said carry on, no worries. I wrapped my hand in a towel. The wound cleaning stuff was in—you guessed it—the bathroom with the cats. I wasn't going to open that door until the flooring guys were gone.

Then I got angry, because I was so stupid for not putting the cats in the bathroom ahead of time, and I couldn't leave the house because the flooring guys were here, and I smelled like pee, and I didn't know what I should do. So I called my buddy (who is also my boss), and she called Kate (who is also technically my boss) to have Kate come down and sit with the house while the flooring guys were here, so I could go to urgent care/the ER and have my hand cleaned up/get antibiotics/get a tetanus shot/etc. The third owner (aka my third boss, and the person who works harder than any of us) asked if I wanted her to come with me to the urgent care and I said no, I can sit by myself. In retrospect, it would have been wise to take her up on that offer, for reasons we'll soon learn.

I wrapped a bag of frozen vegetables around my hand, and waited for Kate.

If you know anything about cat bites, you know they're different than dog bites because of the shape of their teeth. Dog bites rip things open, while cat bites puncture and close in on themselves (thus trapping all the germs inside). I wasn't bleeding, and I had washed my hand under hot water, so it didn't look bad unless you looked closely and saw the swollen redness around everything. It was stiff and painful by this time, but didn't look like it.

I IM'd my buddy and said, "Kate's going to get here and think I'm a big wuss who smells like pee." Ever the wise one, she said, "no she won't."

Kate showed up, looked at my hand, confirmed it was a wreck. We made plans for me to head off to urgent care, after looking up the nearest one to my house—the only urgent care places I know about are the ones near other people's houses. Go figure. So I got in my car and headed toward the front gate. At this point, about 200 yards from my house, my horn started to blare—one long constant hoooooooooooooonk, very loud, very annoying. Now, I've had issues with the disarming mechanism in my car alarm for over a year, but got around the issue by never arming it. Apparently, it finally decided to arm itself on its own, and my remote transmiter wouldn't disarm it. I shut the car off, the horn still blared. I turned the car back on (and really I shouldn't have been able to do that, since it was the alarm and the alarm shuts the car off when it thinks it's being stolen) and threw it in reverse back to my parking spot.

I got the manual out of the glove box and frantically looked for the fusebox schematic so we could find the horn fuse and pull it. By this point Kate came out to see what the hell was going on, and she pulled it and the horn was still blaring so I yelled "yank the battery! yank the battery" and the horn was blaring and it was general mayhem until Kate got the battery disconneted and the horn stopped. So then we realized that we yanked the wrong fuse for the horn anyway, and she pulled the correct one out and reconnected the battery horn sound (yay!) but the car won't turn over (fuck). The alarm finally shut the car down because it was in "I'm being stolen" mode, so that's fine. I called AAA to have them tow it to the dealer. The tow guy came and of course it turned over for him, but the alarm still had control of the car because all the side lights were on and the little alarm light was flashing. But no horn sound because we pulled the fuse. So, he towed it to the dealer.

So Kate and I were both stuck at the house because the flooring guys were still there and there's no way she was going to let me drive her truck to urgent care (I don't blame her in the least). Funny thing, she said when she heard the horn blaring from afar, her first thought was "I hope she didn't pull onto the road and get into a wreck." Given events of the day and also in the past, this was a valid thought. If I had taken up the offer from my third boss, I'd have gotten myself to urgent care, but then this whole car thing would have happened anyway so I figured best to have it all happen on the same day.

Since there was nothing to do but wait until the flooring guys were finished, we did just that. Two hours later, the dealer called and reported that "everything is fine" with my car, that he just reprogrammed the alarm transmitter and receiver and the alarm can now be armed and disarmed. I was skeptical, because I know my car. But we said fine, we'll come get it. The flooring guys finished up and we headed off to the dealer. The plan was to get the car, then I'd go to urgent care on my own.

The dealer was wrong, I was right, and my car alarm was still messed up. Left the car with them, went down to the Enterprise Rent-a-Car place a few blocks down the road and got a rental. Kate said she'd lead me to the urgent care and make sure everything was settled there before leaving me on my own. So we got to the hospital ER (we thought they had a separate urgent care center but they didn't. no big deal, they weren't busy.) and I was registered and such and then Kate gets a phone call that there's some problem with the fence at her house (the fence that encloses her many dogs) so she had to leave.

The doctor and nurses cleaned me up, I got a script for antibiotics and also a tetanus shot ("whoa, you're a bleeder!" said the nurse who stuck me) and was sent on my way with instructions to come back the next day so they can make sure everything was healing appropriately (after telling my horror stories about vet techs and cat bites). I managed to get home without incident, and sat down on the couch and my formerly-freaked-out cat sat right next to me like nothing had ever happened and all was well. I apologized to her for having to yank her out of her hiding place to put her in the secure place, and licked my leg and rubbed her head on my knee and all was well.

My floor is really lovely. I can't wait to do this all again next week when the flooring guys come back to do the other room!

post-script #1: Kate's neighbor backed into her fence and broke it, but got it fixed up and the dogs were ok.

post-script #2: My boss broke her little toe last night. It's not a good time to be any of us. Or, we can say that bad things happen in threes, thus we're all done with the emergencies for now.

post-script #3: I will get my car back tonight, after paying $486 plus a hundred bucks or so for the rental. I still don't plan to arm the alarm, but the module will have been fixed, should I choose to do so.

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Monday, July 10, 2006
a smelly day in san jose, and home improvement
I hate hate hate it when the smell of Gilroy wafts northward to my fair city. Although I love garlic in its cooked form, the smell of garlic—nay, the stench of garlic—in its raw form, in great amounts, is putrid. Ok, not really putrid, but really annoying and disgusting. It sticks to you for days. Maybe it just sticks to me. Maybe there's some chemical bond that takes place between my Italian blood and the smell of garlic, such that it makes it more difficult to wear off. I dunno. I just know it's really smelly.

In other news, I gave it the old college try re: doing the flooring in my bedroom. In this instance, it wasn't my lack of skill that prohibited me from completing it—it was the absolute suckiness of the flooring. Let it be known there is a reason the Ikea Tundra flooring is really cheap. There's "floating floor" and then there's "planks that never intend to lock together on the sides," and this flooring was of the latter variety. Uncool.

So I figured if I was going to go a step or two up in the cost of the floor (to get planks that were more apt to lock together), then by god a professional was going to do it. As such, flooring guys will be here at 10am (or thereabouts) to quickly do the floor and baseboards in my 12x13 bedroom. Next week, after I have time to move all my living room stuff into my bedroom, rip up the carpeting, etc in the living room, and freshen up the walls, they'll come and do the big room. Hooray, that will all be done.

Now that I've started down the path of professional installers, I'm less likely to do other things on my own. Basically, the Great List of Home Improvement tasks has been broken into "jobs to hire out" and "jobs to do myself" and the latter list is much smaller! But the good news is that everything on the list should be done before school starts, and thus a super huge weight will be lifted from my brain for the next year, and all I'll need to concentrate on is getting my ass to Davis (or any other school to which I am applying, but Davis is where I want to go).

Friday, July 07, 2006
a few random thoughts on a friday
* I just saw a black squirrel on my patio. Squirrels are not at all uncommon on my patio, but never a black one—just the common brownish ones.

* I haven't seen a chipmunk since I moved to California, and that's sad because I like chipmunks more than squirrels.

* Started to prepare my house for fixing-up, and that process begins with my annual purge of things. Now, it should be known that I do not own many things, and I do not keep many things. I'm the antithesis of a pack rat. I don't like clutter. It is true that I have a folder full of cards and letters and personal stuff like that, but just a folder not a box or boxes or anything. I have more books (and even then, just three hundred or so) than anything else. Anyway, so I packed some stuff up and put it in the storage closet, because hey—I'll be moving in a year. Yes, that's right. I've begun to pack a year in advance. But I had to move stuff somewhere since I'm re-flooring the house, so I figured this would be a good time to get some of that stuff all ready to a year. No, I won't need any of it between now and then.

* Because of the aforementioned moving around of things, and in this case the moving of my furniture from my bedroom into the living room (it consists of a bed I don't sleep in, plus a dresser, plus the paltry number of clothes-on-hangars), my cats are freaking out. Well, just Max—he's the one who has moved across country three times, and has lived in seven different houses, Deuce has only ever lived in this one. I tried to tell him that we're not moving right now and to chill out. I think he has—he claimed the high point of a pile of furniture and boxes all for his own.

* One of my tasks is to paint my bathroom. I picked a color that would coordinate with the wall color of the adjoining rooms—one is white, one is a blue, and no, dear co-workers who know I can't coordinate colors to save my life, I did not pick it out of the air. I used the paint company's online color coordinating tool thingy. Anyway, it was only as I wrote down the name of the color on my shopping list did I realize that the name of the color is...Contemplation. In the bathroom. Yeah.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006
just released: Sams Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache All in One, 3rd Edition

just released

Hey look, I wasn't lying when I said I finished it back in May. If you walk through a Barnes & Noble anywhere in the country this month, you should see a stack of them on an endcap or something. Hooray for marketing. [Or, you can get it here and plenty other places, too.]

As just an updated edition of a book that fills a niche and makes many salespeople at Sams happy around bonus time, this is not a terribly exciting release. But it will sell well, as it always does, and many people will learn the basics of using some core web technology—which has always been its sole purpose. Back in the day when negative comments about my books bothered me, I mentioned to my editors that I was feeling bad about such comments. My lovely and talented "handler," Shelley, said to me, "Look. If your book sucked, we wouldn't publish it." Simple and true, and it got the point across. I've ignored naysayers ever since.

Although a 3rd edition of the "All in One" title, this is almost like a 5th edition. STY PMA AiO started as three separate books in 2002—I rolled my STY MySQL in 24 Hours plus STY PHP in 24 Hours by Matt Zandstra plus STY Apache in 24 Hours by Daniel Lopez into STY PMA in 24 Hours (cutting things, smoothing things out, etc), then I transformed that book into STY PMA AiO (1e) with more cutting of things, adding of others, and lots of smoothing around the edges. STY PMA AiO (2e) was just a refresher, and really so is this 3rd edition...except every bit of code was refreshed to represent the use of PHP 5 with MySQL 5. These are not drastic changes, nor has the shape or purpose of the book changed in the slightest. I suppose that's not entirely true, as I added two chapters and removed two others, and shifted a few other existing things around, but still it's pretty much the same content, just updated.

I'll have nine extra copies soon, so if anyone wants one, just holler. More info (TOC, code) on my web site.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006
random asterisks of crap
* I look forward to holidays because they're usually accompanied by Law & Order or CSI marathons, and those make for awesome background noise. When I'm working or writing, I almost always have the TV on. I can't see it but I can hear it, and it's not distracting because typically I've seen the show a gajillion times. I don't often have music on, because it is distracting. I'll start to sing along in my head, or think off on a tangent about musical things, and that totally breaks my concentration.

* It's not nearly as hot here as it was the last few weeks. It was really hot, with an icon in my ForecastFox that I'd never seen. Along those lines, I just went to the ForecastFox site to see if I could find the icon to which I was referring (a blazing red thermometer), and I discovered you can change the icon set from the default® Classic set. I've now changed to the Simple Clear Icons pack. They're simple (and clear). I'll switch back if they're too simple and clear.

* I really, really, really want it to be August 23rd because I want classes to start. I realize this may be the last time (except maybe next summer) that I ever feel this way.

* I have almost all of my money gathered and my plan of action for the massive fixing-up of my house. Yes, this would be the same fixing-up that I planned over a year ago. But now I have a plan with incremental sticky notes like "go to Ikea and get 6 boxes of Tundra antique finish flooring" and "borrow sawhorses". It'll all be worth it when I sell my place next June and put a chunk of change in the bank to supplement the next six years of pure grad student earning/living. I always made the joke that if I didn't live in California (or a similar cost-of-living place) I could live off my royalties. I'll be putting that to the test in the '07-'08 academic year. Scary.

* The last gay person in America to see Brokeback Mountain (that'd be me) has finally seen it. I give it a big fat "meh." I got concerned halfway through because I wasn't crying. See, I cry at everything vaguely emotional. I thought perhaps it was because I couldn't hear a fricking thing anyone was saying. Maybe it was different in the theatre, but in my living room it sure sounded like everyone mumbled the way through the movie. Great soundtrack, though. But I just didn't care about anyone in it. I also have Walk the Line and Capote here to watch, so we'll see if it's some character flaw I've developed recently, in which I don't care about anything, or if it was just this movie.

* I've been sleeping like shit for the last month, for no good reason except maybe the heat (but I have AC so...I dunno). When my buddy called me this morning at 8:30 to report a soccer score, she was all aghast: "It's too late for you to be still asleep, and it's too early for a nap!" Very true. I need to get back to waking up at my regular 4:47am alarm. It's disturbing to be asleep after the sun comes up. It also freaks out my cats, who think the world is going to end if dawn has arrived and I'm still asleep, and the light is not on in the aquarium, and the curtains are blocking their view of the pond.

holy crap, it's july already
How'd that happen? (yeah, yeah, I know, Gregorian calendar and all that...but still) The last time I had a gap in posts, my parents started to worry. So here's a filler post because I don't have much to say. I blame it on Mel, because she calls and we'll talk and talk and talk and then have nothing to blog about. Well, that's not true because I get tons of things to blog about out of our conversations, but that's not cool to do if the other person doesn't agree. Much like how the other week I made a comment about my buddy and it pissed her off and I deleted it. I didn't even know she read this anymore, that's how disjointed we are in our buddyship. But that's another story, one I won't be telling.

But Mel? She calls yesterday morning and says "quick, what's your Myers-Briggs type?" Now come on, you don't just call and say that without wondering something along the lines of, oh, what did I say? I think it was, "the hell?" or something like that. Since I don't carry my M-B type around in my head I had to think a little bit. I know Mel is an INTJ and I knew I was 3/4 the same but couldn't remember which letter was different. I finally did—I'm an ISTJ—and thus began this whole conversation about M-B and differences and so forth, with Mel trying to "figure things out" about our friendship and what not. I kept saying things like "Dude! We've been friends for sixteen years. We're friends because we are. There's nothing to figure out. It isn't going to change."

I believe I was a tad on the mean and bitchy side because I totally wasn't taking it as seriously as she was. Ooops. Then I realized later if my buddy knew of this conversation, she'd start pointing and laughing at me because I do the exact same thing to her, only in Mel's role. I don't know my buddy's M-B type, but it sure would be interesting to know now. So I have sort of a different outlook on things, I guess, when really there aren't "things" on which to have outlooks, "things" just are. I'm nothing if not consistently inconsistent.


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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