Almost there...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Water on Mars!

It's confirmed! It's for real! And you know what comes with water? Well, all sorts of fun things. I wonder if there will be human exploration on Mars in my lifetime after all?

Pet Peeve

I write a lot. It's a big part of my job. I write informational websites and training materials and well, basically a lot of user-centered tech writing. Before I leave today, I have to submit two articles for publication, publish two web pages, and edit a bug summary for distribution at a meeting at 3pm. Usually, I'm not the final arbiter of what gets said. Other people get to read what I wrote and either approve it or give me feedback to make it better.

Here's what doesn't make it better: If you read something and give me the feedback of "That sentence doesn't really work for me" or "This is confusing." Why? Of course it's confusing! I'm trying to distill a big concept or summarize some complicated information as efficiently as possible. I sat there for quite some time thinking hard about the best way I could think of to say it. If it's confusing or if it's unclear, then feel free to suggest a better way. Trust me, I'll be more than happy to take that and use it. Really. At the point that you're reading it, my brainpower about how to make it better is all used up, so saying to just do it better is in no way helping. And if you can't be bothered to put your brain to rewording it to illustrate your point, then STFU!

'k bye.

OMG Vegas!

Can't wait. Printed my boarding pass. Now I have to do work. I've got lots of real work I have to finish today, but I'm all jittery and excited and Vegas!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Darbar Got Me

Oh lordy, I'm totally stuffed. It is simply not fair to have spinich pakora, bhengan bartha, butter chicken and aloo gobi on the same buffet! Lunch with Auntie was totally lovely, but getting back to my desk, the food has had time to settle, and now I feel like I've just finished Thanksgiving dinner, but with a vaguely cardamom aftertaste. How can I be expected to do work now? Clearly I should be lying around watching holiday movies, or at least Bollywood movies.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Paw Paw Princess

What's so great about a party at the Hare House? A picture is worth a thousand words:Paw Paw Princess 08 - Photo Credit: Dave Price
Oh my life is so very hard!

Peaches for Lunch

I had four peaches from my grandpa's tree. They were so good I kept peeling them one after another and eating them. Suddenly, my other lunch stuff didn't appeal and the peaches were all gone and I was stuffed. Yummy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I'm a busy girl. A moment's perusal of my calendar says I don't have a free evening until August 6th, and that's only if I skip set dancing. Good thing I did laundry last night!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Word Verification

When websites want to verify a real human is entering data, they've turned to word verification, where they print something in a way that makes it hard for machines to read and in theory only a person could read it. Trouble is, as the machines have gotten smarter about this, we humans have only our eyes and our minds to help us out, and in the last few weeks, I've been unable to parse the word verifiers on various sites. Is that little squiggle an h or an n? I don't know. And I guess wrong.

So someone is working on a new method right? Because this method clearly isn't going to be working for much longer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Inconvenient Science

So usually I'm all about posting the really cool science news, but this is the really distressing science news. Are sunscreens safe? Um, kinda? I'm not so sure I'm okay with that answer given that my daily routine starts with slathering on a layer of moisturizer containing sunblock. Is it doing more harm than good? Should I only don the sunblock when I know I'll be out of doors in the sun for an extended period of time? But knowing how easily I burn (or freckle), I really don't like going out in the sun without an extra layer of protection. Even then, I can burn in an hour of carelessness. I've got an ugly age spot on my forehead to prove it.

So can anyone recommend a good, not excessively overpriced daily moisturizer with a plant or mineral based sunscreen? White girl needs a little help here.

Kitten Notes

The kitten LOVES corn on the cob. Sunday afternoon she got in my face while I was eating an ear, and I figured she'd take a few sniffs and be on her way. Nope. I had to surrender the last quarter of my ear of corn as she proceeded to nom on it vigorously. I made myself a new ear of corn and we sat on the sofa together enjoying our corn. Weird little kitten.

It's down to Leeloo or Spot. I'm leaning toward Leeloo. It's starting to suit her. She's still mostly a Crash Bandicoot though.

Her eyes have turned golden to match the darkest part of her fur. The blue eyes she had before have retreated to the edges and just about disappeared now.

Sunday morning I was reading in bed and the two of them curled up with me. She really adores Pixel, and Pixel is really really tolerant. On Sunday I suspected he was actually enjoying her company, letting her sleep on him and grooming her.

On Thursday she goes for a vet visit to get her second round of shots and to get spayed. After surgery she's supposed to take it easy for a few days. I laughed out loud when they said that. They said, "Yeah, we know, but still, try."

She's suckling. Necks and cheeks seem to be her first choice. Someone suggested that it might be related to teething (or possibly some other developmental milestone). I'm hoping so. It's annoying, but if she's feeling needy, then I can't exactly punish her for it. Mostly I'm going to try to be around for her a bit more this week to see if some extra attention will make things better. I also picked up some kitten milk for her and she's really enjoying that, so that's helping a bit.

On the flipside, she likes Pixel's food best. She has very similar (same maker, same flavor) kitten kibble in her bowl, and yet she comes running when I put food in Pixel's bowl. Every now and then I catch Pixel eating out of her bowl, and I'm pretty sure that's the only reason that food ever disappears. The kitten thinks Pixel is just dreamy.

Just a Little Skin Off My Nose

Dancing at the ceili was fun last night. The place was packed and full of old friends and even a couple of new folks recruited from the Avalon Rising show on Saturday. Pax showed up and I dragged him mercilessly through the dances for everyone. Then I flew through the dances for those who know. All was well and bouncy and silly. I got to flirt with Charlie's sister while dancing with Charlie, which was a hoot because he looked so thoroughly befuddled by it. Snicker.

We bounded into the final polka set and the music was great and we were bounding along, and then something went wrong and as Charlie came around for an around the house, he clocked me in the nose. Now there's a big fingernail's width swath of skin missing and a nasty scab forming. I'm just glad I'm not teaching Sundial to Stanford Calendar today! It should heal in a few days and in the meantime I get to tell folks that a friend of mine punched me in the nose while dancing. It's not 100% accurate, but close enough and should break the ice enough at the office with coworkers who are wondering what the heck happened to my face.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Alameda Theater

The new Alameda Theater really is a marvel. On Sunday, Cynthia, Pax, and I went to see The Dark Knight (which was really really dark. Really good. Really dark.) and before the show, they played a little 10 minute documentary about the theater. It closed about thirty years ago during the rise of the multiplex and was used for a lot of different things over the years. They've done a spectacular job of restoring it, while also managing to bring it up to meet the needs of the current consumer. The historic theater is gorgeous, designed by the same architect as The Castro and The Paramount. All of the important elements were restored, but with modern seating and sound. Add to that the 7 screens built adjacent and the 350 space parking garage and it's a highly functional complex. It's an ideal blend of old and new, and yet another reason to love Alameda.

I Can Has Busy?

Saturday dawned too early with breakfast at Ole's, followed by Mamma Mia (which was totally fabulous!) at the new Alameda theater with Alex, Sherman and Cynthia. Alex and Sherman were headed to Daniel's birthday party so we all teamed up into one carpool and headed out. Tiki time was had and the birthday boy had castle cake and bad singing. Then back to Alameda to drop off Alex and Sherman and off to Avalon Rising in Hayward. Apparently my Summon Dancers spell is getting pretty good because a dozen folks showed up to dance even though there was barely room for a 4-hand inside the venue. Dancing on the street happened, as did some dancing inside to much appreciation from the audience. Twas a fun day, but really, four events with four different sets of folks in one day is pushing the limit.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Science News: Ulcer Bacteria Beneficial in Children?

I love science. I love that nowadays we know that ulcers aren't "caused by stress". That always sounded like hogwash to me, because plenty of low stress people had ulcers. Now we know it's largely caused by the H. Pylori bacteria. And after reading this article, it turns out that H. Pylori may offer us some benefits as well. In children, an H. Pylori infection negatively correlates with development of allergies and asthma. How cool is that! The article says,
"In the future, physicians may give children a mix of H. pylori strains to optimize their health early in life, and then use antibiotics to eradicate the organism in a patient's 40s," Blaser says.

This also reinforces my caution surrounding anti-biotics. Yes, they're a wonder drug, but one that is grossly overused, nearly to the point that we may soon lose them. And when you're trying to kill off an acute infection, you're also killing lots of other systemic bacteria that's busy doing good work. Luckily, it turns out our appendix is saving us from our folly a bit, but it can only do so much.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Flogging Molly for Free

San Jose does a music series in the summer every year. In years past, I've never gone because it's always seemed to feature old rockers, country music, or latino music. This year the list is a little different, and this week, it's Flogging Molly. I sent a note to the ceili list last week and it looks like a bunch of folks will be going. Here's the basic details in case you want to show up:
Thursday, July 17
Plaza de Cesar Chavez
Market Street between San Fernando and San Carlos Streets
San Jose, CA
Doors: 5:30 PM
Age: All Ages
Price: Free!
More info

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dr. Horrible - Woohoo!

I went to the Dr. Horrible site this morning, figuring I'd watch it over lunch. At 11:30, the site was swamped, but a friend mentioned you could subscribe via iTunes and get the whole thing for $3.99. For four bucks, I was in.

So I got into the iTunes store, and I ordered it and then iTunes had an error. Okay, so I ordered it again and then iTunes said I had to upgrade from 7.5 to 7.7 before I could watch it. Arg! So then I did the upgrade and it took for-ev-arrrrr. So then I was waiting and waiting and finally I had to leave and go to my next meeting. No Dr. Horrible over lunch. Heck, no lunch. Stupid iTunes. So then I came back from my meeting and it said I needed to restart my computer. Arg! Fine. Restart. Go to next meeting. Take lots of notes. Write up draft email while in meeting. Go to Stand By to walk back from that meeting, and the system won't come back up when I get to my desk. Cold reboot is needed and I lose my notes and the draft email. Arg!

Meanwhile, work is melting down. We're not doing the calendar migration this weekend after all. I'm once again annoyed that I'm not leaving for Prague on Friday. Grr Arg!

Finally, after I work up a bunch of stuff, I go back to iTunes and it doesn't seem to know jack about my subscription order. Arg! So I try the website one more time. And there it is - Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog. For free. All thirteen minutes worth. And it was glorious. I can't wait for part two on Thursday.


Two weeks until launch to the students on campus, and my manager says, "I had some reservations about the site design that I didn't fight for, but now I want to change the site design. Linda and I will discuss it and let you know what we decide to do." And then I was dismissed to go back to my desk, after just ever so gently pointing out that a month ago, that would've been fine, but at 2 weeks to go live, we will have to get the design vetted again and there simply isn't time. The time for action is now, not the time for "Well maybe we should do it this way." There's no time left for maybe. Only there is maybe. And I just came back to my desk and tried to figure out how I can summon enough spunk to keep working on the rest of it when really all I feel is impotence.

Green TV

I've always heard that LCD tvs are more energy efficient than plasma displays, but I hadn't realized it was five times as efficient. Better yet, just keep the old CRT until it's dead. It's still more energy efficient than a new LCD tv, and it's not adding to the landfill either. Anyway, this little Scientific American article that reminded me that just keeping my old tv is the right answer for a lot of reasons.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Savaged by the Vampires

I've given blood a half dozen or more times now. It's no big deal. Usually, I can't tell the difference four hours later.

This time, I got totally savaged by the vampired. The initial needle puncture was more painful than usual. I'm not sure what went wrong, but the whole time, it just kind of ached. And then the blood went really slow. And they kept turning the needle and trying to reposition it and I managed to not say, "No seriously, you're done now." I waited patiently for 14 minutes while it took entirely too long. (Usually I'm done in 5-7 minutes.) And then when the needle came out, it just kept bleeding. Big dark drops of blood welling up each time she peeked under the gauze.

Finally it was over and I had my cookie and juice, but it was too late to get lunch before my 1pm meeting. Gah! Luckily, the meeting had leftover pizza and leftover water.

Anyway, net result is that my arm still aches. I think I'll be calling it a night early tonight.

Head on Fire!

And then I totally freaked out today at work. The students start migrating in 2 weeks, and I'm not ready. If I'm not ready, and I'm the Campus Readiness Lead, then how will anyone else be ready? Ack!

Weekend Adventures

I had a really lovely weekend and I feel totally loved.

Friday night was dinner with Emily, David, and Frederik at Il Fornaio before Thoroughly Modern Millie at Broadway by the Bay. Our tickets came with a 15% discount, so it made dinner quite affordable. Turns out, Frederik knew the woman playing Muzzy, so that was a little extra fun. I'd been wanting to see the new stage version since it premiered on Broadway, so I was really thrilled to finally have the chance. The gal playing Millie had mad skills - a true triple threat. And I now want a bunch of 20s outfits.

Saturday dawned too early and I rushed off to San Francisco to the Exploratorium for Si's Tactile Dome trip. It was a lot of fun, and I always love wandering through the Exploratorium. Frederik dutifully drank from the toilet bowl water fountain and I stood under a dangling piano. I tested my hearing and I seem to have a pretty good range, only losing out at the high end above 17,000. After roaming around the museum, we headed to Rockridge for dinner at Crepevine and followed that with dancing at FNW on Saturday to Crepes Musette. Everyone was so cute in their little French outfits. Little did I know that so many gents I know could summon a striped shirt, scarf, and beret with so little effort! I stayed in my jeans and experienced the very odd sensation of getting sweaty on the front of my knees. We danced until after midnight, and then headed home.

Meanwhile, a crazy plan to see Hellboy 2 at the new Alameda theater was hatched and nearly everyone decided to join in over dinner at Crepevine. So the very next day, I headed back to Alameda (after a high intensity snuggle session with the kitten), and I saw Hellboy 2 with 10 of my closest friends. We wandered over to grab some gelato before heading off to Forbidden Island (again? Yes, again.). Several more folks joined us, and the next four hours were spent in various configurations on the sofas, with a little bit of lindy hop, a little bit of waltz, and a whole lot of sweet potato fries thrown in.

It was the best weekend I can imagine having. Good friends, good geeky science museum, good movie, good theater, good food, good drinks, and good times. Life am good.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Round From Table One

Last night our monthly gathering took us to dinner at Auntie's house, and dessert at Forbidden Island. Forbidden Island was in the Alameda parade on the 4th of July, and we cheered really loud for them, so we had coupons and temporary tatoos. We tatooed up and walked over.

Being the the Smallest Island Ever, we knew at least two other people in the bar - Shay Black and Patrick Morris. And no, they weren't even hanging out together.

We had a grand time. I had my usual Missionary's Downfall and followed that with trying a Suffering Bastard. We settled our bill and were finishing up when the waitress came by and said, "The chap from table one bought you a round. What will you have?" We protested momentarily, and then gave in. (It's all Patrick's fault! Thank you Patrick!) I have never had three cocktails in a night before, but I'd also never tried a Sloe Gin Fizz, though I'd been curious about them since the early 90s when it was mentioned in a Judybats song. It was on the summer specials list and it was such a treat! Anyway, yet another form of alcohol I actually like. This is getting weird. I'm having to reimagine myself as someone who drinks. This is really really hard for me to fathom.

And I didn't know that happened in real life - a guy buying a round of drinks for a group of girls at another table. Yay. Life is good. I love Alameda.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Phone Issues

On my way home from dancing last night, my phone suddenly lost it's brain and disconnected from the car's bluetooth. I tried turning it off and then on again to reboot and it wouldn't turn off. Puzzling. So I pulled the battery out and tried restarting it again. That's when I realized that the Power button was behaving differently from all the other buttons on the phone. There was no satisfying sponginess to it. No matter how hard I pushed, it seemed forever stuck in a pushed down state.

So I think to myself, well little phone, you've lasted five years, and you couldn't hold out for 3 more days until the new iPhone came out? See how you are?

But I've been waffling on the iPhone thing. It's cool, but it's not $75 a month cool. That's more money than I have right now. I'd need a roommate to support my iPhone habit!

Anyway, long story short (too late!), I get home and mention this to Rick and he gets all tinker-y. Before I know it, my phone is disassembled and powered up. Woohoo! Something is definitely slightly wrong with the power button, but a sort of sideways sliding push on it rather than a straight down push seems to do the trick, and really, I turn off my phone (versus turn it to silent or whatnot) very rarely. So, I guess I can wait and see what Android will bring to the table. But yeah, it's time for a new phone. Five years on one cell phone is pretty good considering I use it all the time. So I stuck it on the charger feeling like I had options again.

And then I left it at home this morning. D'oh!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Dance - Anywhere, Anytime, Any Way That Brings You Joy

I know, I know, probably everyone has already seen this already, except my grandmother. But since my grandma is stuck at home with a busted foot and this just made me smile again for the third time, here's "Where the hell is Matt?"

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Dream Job

Do you ever have those moments where you stumble across a job listing and just think, "I'd be PERFECT for that job." Today was that day for me.

The Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction Museum is looking for someone to act as Lead Museum Educator, training museum staff and volunteers and generally shaping the museum experience.

Anyway, trouble is, it's in Seattle and I own a house here that's not going to sell for anything resembling what I paid for it, and likely wouldn't sell at all. And about a million other excuses as well. Not to mention that they'd have to opt to hire me. And they'd have to pay me something I'd be willing to work for. But yeah, being the trainer at the Sci-Fi Museum wouldn't suck at all. Maybe someone I know is also a good fit and has a more flexible lifestyle.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Movie-Going Fool

I'm not sure why, but this summer seems to be more than normally crammed with summer blockbusters. I've gotten to see several, but it seems like there's more than I can actually make time for. I've seen:

The Incredible Hulk - I really do adore Edward Norton and I think he's perfect for the role. No one can play haunted-I-don't-want-to-do-this like Edward Norton, and there's always room for Liv Tyler. It was a good comic book flick.

Kung-Fu Panda - much more entertaining than I'd expected. I loved some of the subtle scenes and couldn't stop giggling about the stairs.

Wall-E - OMGSQUEEE!!! I ran out to see this between the end of lessons and the dance party during Stanford Dance Weekend. It was so great! Even better - after the short before the movie, I turned to Lee and said, "And we get a whole other movie too? Yay!"

Wanted - I honestly really enjoyed this one. I expected a cheesy movie and got a really good cheesy comic book movie. No, the physics don't work. Yes the story has holes. But overall, walking in with the right suspension of disbelief, the movie didn't actively take to kicking the stool out from under me and let me just go for a nice ride. It also didn't take the easy way out and leave a big ugly opening for an easy sequel. Fabulous cinematography and editing and managed to hold my interest for the whole movie.

Get Smart - I felt like if I were more of a Get Smart fan or a spy movie fan this would've been a bit funnier. As it was, it was a decent flick, but not ooh-ah fabulous.

Once again I'm so very grateful for my Camera Cinemas Discount Card. All those movies and the total cost is $30. And there's still more to come - Hellboy 2, Space Chimps, Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D (which looks painfully cheesy), The Dark Knight, Mamma Mia, and The Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.