Almost there...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Polygyny as Historic Standard

And then sometimes the science news is just a little boggling. This article stated without qualification, "Monogamy is a recently inspired cultural add-on."

Of course, I like the later caveat: "It's a fallacious idea that we can infer from what is the case something about how we ought to act."

So why do so many people screw up the monogamy thing? Well, looks like it's actually our nature, coded in our genes. Go figure.

Nice Wedding, Nice Weekend

I was able to take Friday off, which gave me a leisurely drive to Santa Rosa.

I started from home a bit after 11, 20 minutes behind schedule, but with cats sufficiently snuggled and everything I needed for the weekend. I picked up Sean in San Ramon and headed to Jane's house for a haircut. I've been trying to hook up with Claudia to let her take scissors to my head for months now, but it just hasn't ever worked out gracefully, so I talked to Jane and she said Friday at noon was dandy, so off I went.

At 1:15, I left looking like a 40's starlet with a pin curl in front and a flower in my hair. Sean was impressed. We started the drive.

So there's this thing about the north bay - it's impossible to get to. From any direction, there's horrifically nasty traffic. So we hit traffic in Berkeley, and then traffic in San Rafael, and traffic in Novato, and traffic in Petaluma. Then we finally gave up and stopped for lunch. Yummy Chinese food was ordered 1 minute before they stopped serving lunch. Off we went again, hitting traffic in Santa Rosa. Then we stopped at Sean's motel and dropped off his luggage. Then we stopped at my motel and dropped off my luggage. And we were about 40 minutes ahead of schedule. Woohoo!

And we pulled out and saw Malaya hustling across the parking lot of the Flamingo hotel. She was walking away from a VERY full limo trunk. It occurred to me that maybe we could help schlep some stuff. A few minutes later we determined that that wouldn't actually be needed, so we headed on to the wedding site for the rehearsal.

Of course, the groom hit all the nasty traffic too, so he was really late to the rehearsal.

But my favorite people kept showing up - Ray and Sherman and Auntie and Brooks and Nicole. I leapt into Brooks' arms when he arrived. It's been WAY too long since I've seen him. He's the bestest ever. Anyway, there was also John and Rebecca and Mike.

We did the rehearsal thing and headed off to dinner. There was too much good food! I ate all of my polenta with gruyere and tomatoes, but couldn't make it through my dinner because I wanted to save room for my fruit cobbler - peach, strawberry, and cranberry. I made a good call there. The cobbler was fantastic.

Fred gave the groomspeople the snuggliest robe ever. It's bamboo and sooooo soft. Once we got back to the room, we dossed down into them and lounged around in the snuggliness.

The next morning, Elizabeth called: Fashion Emergency! The bride and groom had thrown several folks into a tizzy by sending an email two weeks ago saying the wedding attire was formal. So where folks had been planning for a lovely afternoon, outdoors wedding, suddenly many fashion choices were problematic. So we got her on her way with a couple of outfits in hand. Meanwhile, we headed out for breakfast and made it back just in time to get Elizabeth laced into a corset and get opinions on the various options I could wear with my tux. The long straight velvet skirt won the day and with hair pinned down and make-up on, we headed back to Kenwood.

The big snafu of the wedding was a missing power supply for a keyboard. Crisis was averted with local help and a guitar loan. Bangers and Mash are eminently skilled and flexible. I love those guys. Brooks felt horrible for forgetting the power supply, but really, it all totally worked out.

Finally, we started the ceremony. Noelle was choked up and didn't make it through her song on the first try. It was so sweet. They talked about the various family and wedding traditions, including the breaking of a glass by the groom. Turns out we'd forgotten to put the glass in the bag for breaking. D'oh! One was collected from the catering staff by Sherman who said, "They're not expecting it back." A good laugh broke the tension and in one sharp strike the glass became many shards.

You know you're in a room with a bunch of actors and dancers and other assorted extroverts when the mic for toasting is opened up, and there's a rapid progression of folks. We, the ex-girlfriends, or at least the four present, toasted their happy future together. After another Dickens family toast (from OtherBookistan), we rose for a Belle and Scrooge and Scrooge toast: "May you be happy in the life you have chosen!" It's nice to have those words used in a happy way. Emily caught a great photo.

There followed much dancing the night away to Bangers and Mash and also to a DJ set. At the end of the night, we gazed at the stars and headed back to the motel for some much needed sleep.

On Sunday after breakfast with Sherman and Alex and Erik, I headed on home. Kitty snuggles were had for a bit before heading to Hayward for Spaghetti Sunday.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Censorship - Is the American public demented? Seems like it sometimes...

The list of banned books is usually the first books your students will be excited about reading. This basic truth is something every high school teacher understands, but still, people insist on trying to ban books.

I'm probably nearly as amused as Phillip Pullman about the result of trying to ban his books. He recently wrote:

The censor's dark materials
by Philip Pullman

When I heard that my novel The Golden Compass (the name in the USA of Northern Lights) appeared in the top five of the American Library Association's list of 2007's most challenged books, my immediate and ignoble response was glee. Firstly, I had obviously annoyed a lot of censorious people, and secondly, any ban would provoke interested readers to move from the library, where they couldn't get hold of my novel, to the bookshops, where they could. That, after all, was exactly what happened when a group called the Catholic League decided to object to the film of The Golden Compass when it was released at the end of last year. The box office suffered, but the book sales went up – a long way up, to my gratification.

Because they never learn. The inevitable result of trying to ban something – book, film, play, pop song, whatever – is that far more people want to get hold of it than would ever have done if it were left alone. Why don't the censors realise this?

In the case of The Golden Compass, the reason the book was challenged is listed as "Religious Viewpoint", a reason that appears in connection with only one other book in the top five, a picture book called And Tango Makes Three. This is based on the true story of a pair of male penguins in New York's Central Park Zoo, who for a time formed a couple and hatched the egg of a mixed-sex couple who were unable to hatch two at once. This, if you can believe it, was challenged for six different reasons: "Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group."

Religious Viewpoint? Penguins?

I hope the authors have done very well out of the increased sales they'll have enjoyed, but this kind of thing only invites the rest of the world to consider the American public demented.

In fact, when it comes to banning books, religion is the worst reason of the lot. Religion, uncontaminated by power, can be the source of a great deal of private solace, artistic inspiration, and moral wisdom. But when it gets its hands on the levers of political or social authority, it goes rotten very quickly indeed. The rank stench of oppression wafts from every authoritarian church, chapel, temple, mosque, or synagogue – from every place of worship where the priests have the power to meddle in the social and intellectual lives of their flocks, from every presidential palace or prime ministerial office where civil leaders have to pander to religious ones.

My basic objection to religion is not that it isn't true; I like plenty of things that aren't true. It's that religion grants its adherents malign, intoxicating and morally corrosive sensations. Destroying intellectual freedom is always evil, but only religion makes doing evil feel quite so good.

So, once again, the most common net result of trying to ban a book is that you make more money for the author than they would've ever made if you'd just kept quiet. How many people read The Satanic Verses? Way, way more than ever would've if there hadn't been a jihad launched against the author.

Of course, I suspect the corollary to this is that enthusiastic protesters also do more harm than good for their causes. (Hello PETA!) It's time to reinvent the process for dealing with things you disagree with. Holding a picket sign is totally ineffective. Getting people to sign a petition is mostly useless. Making it financial beneficial for a corporation to do things differently is what really works. Threatening people or their creations because you disagree with them frequently generates the opposite from desired effect.

It's Snowing on Mars

There are headlines that just force you to read the article. Snow, on Mars. Yeah. That's... well, that's just amazing.

How much would it change things to find out we're not the only planet in the solar system with forms of life? I suspect that we'll get to that point in my lifetime, and maybe, just maybe in the next two to five years. No, not little green men running around, but bacteria, and maybe something a little more complicated. We'll see.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Android FAIL!

Remember how cute and hopeful I was about the Android based G1 the other day? Yeah, well, I'm over it now. No standard headphone jack? Seriously? I've coped with that for the last five years with my Nokia and I will not go that route again. Not no way, not no how. Sigh.

Can Apple please make me an iPhone with a slide out keyboard? That's all I'm asking for really. I know they're all about the sexy on-screen thing, but I can't tell you how often I dial blind or touch-type on my current phone, but it's more often than not. Bah.

Mac Stuff

I think what I miss most about my Dell D620 is the docking station. I bravely took the Mac with me to a meeting (after spending the past week cheating by taking the Dell) and I have to unplug six cords and a cable lock to leave the office. When I came back, I had to plug in six cords and seat and lock the cable lock. Seems like that's going to be a lot of excess wear and tear on the beastie. I'd much rather have one hub to plug all of that into and one thing to plug into the Mac, but it just doesn't work that way. With the Dell, all of those were plugged into a docking station and I just snapped the machine into place and kept going. Anyway, for a company that so prides itself on elegance and streamlining, this is an awfully cumbersome process. Does anyone have any suggestions for a smoother path or is this just the way it is?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This won't come as a big surprise to anyone, though likely a big disappointment to my family.
You are a

Social Liberal
(70% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(35% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Free Online Dating
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Funny thing is, I wouldn't classify myself as a Democrat per se. Neither party inspires me to their cause. I find it untenable to affiliate myself with so much corruption, self-service, and waste, so I could really never honestly call myself either a Democrat or a Republican.

Immigration to America

One of Rick's favorite rants is about illegal immigration. I tend to agree on the surface - it would be for the best if folks immigrated legally. But in the small brushes I've had with the INS, I can see what a morass it is, so I have a bit more sympathy for folks who've done their level best, but can't manage to work things out legally.

Anyway, there's a fabulous visual diagram of the process at Long long gone are the days of "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free". Now it's much more "Give us your husbands, well-educated folks, and millionaires, and they'd better like dealing with bureaucracy."

Don't Look!

I looked today to see what my retirement account was doing. It's bad. Really bad. It's got an annual rate of return of negative 17.8 percent.

I knew I shouldn't look. Argh.

I know that they theory is that we're better at investing and if we put away enough money each year, it will be better than social security or a pension, but I gotta say I'd love to have a pension and I'm going to fight against it if they want to privatize Social Security. I know it's not enough to live on, but a little guaranteed income in my old age is the sort of security blanket that keeps me going when the retirement picture is so grim. I look at what my grandparents and their generation is experiencing and they've got it awfully good compared to what I face in my old age, and I've been saving for retirement (via IRAs, 401k, and 403b) since I was 22 years old, and at the pathetic rate it's increasing, I don't ever see retirement as a possibility, and I'm a nice middle-class girl with a decent and steady job who has been doing all the right things for a dozen years. I can't imagine what it's going to be like for folks who haven't been as conscientious or thrifty as I have. I suspect the old age of Gen X may be an even bigger wake up call for the nation than the old age of the Boomers.

Still, for now, I'm leaving everything as it is, still drawing off 16% of my income for retirement, staying in the same funds and so on. Hopefully it will bounce back a bit in a few years. I'm not looking again until at least 2009.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Baby Android

The first Android phone was officially launched today. Looks promising, though the lack of link up to Exchange worries me a bit. (Yes, we're using Zimbra, but it basically pretends to be an Exchange server for sync with mobile devices.) Looks like T-Mobile customers will get first crack at it and that will be followed by offerings to the general public. So possibly in October or November, I might finally have a new phone. We shall see.

Obama and Bartlett Have a Chat

For all of you who loved and miss The West Wing as much as I do, I just loved reading this piece in the NY Times. It not only hits the right tone for Bartlett, but also acknowledges that it was easier for him since he was fictional and all. Great stuff. I love this bit:
OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET: Well ... let me think. ...We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I’m a little angry.

OBAMA: What would you do?

BARTLET: GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Vroom... putt putt putt... vrooom

My old computer makes every sign of being on its last legs. In stand-by mode while plugged in, it goes "whir... putt putt putt putt...whir... putt putt... whir... putt putt putt..." This is not a good sound, and generally something I associate with a car having issues rather than a computer.

Ah well. I'm safely transitioned onto my new MacBook Pro, learning to like the keyboard and hate the trackpad, missing my docking station, and enjoying being able to use both Mac and Windows on the same machine. I shall become a Mac person, but I refuse to be mean about it. I will always be platform agnostic.

For the record, the MacBook is really freaking heavy by comparison. Similar size screen, but wog, I guess all that extra metal weighs it down. And the heat it generates is something to keep in mind. It's nice now that days are chilly, but would be really miserable in the summer.

And how do I tell my Dashboard weather thingy that I'm not in Cupertino? Granted it's not far, but it's a different micro-climate.

Now the Dell is just going putt putt putt putt putt putt. No more whir or vroom. Poor little 'puter.

Time Wasting

Got sucked into the Dharma Initiative tests online. They're affiliated with the Lost tv series, so it's all set in the context of recruiting you, but they're really well put together. They must've gotten some serious cash for producing the site. Anyway, the tests are fun, especially test five. It's figuring out number progression puzzles. I haven't been able to successfully complete them in the five minutes allotted, but I've had fun trying. Feels like good exercise for my brain. But it also points out that I rarely go for five minutes without being interrupted at work. No wonder I'm struggling with my productivity.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Friday Night Blues

I went to Friday Night Blues for the first time last Friday. It was very sparsely attended because there was a Lindy Exchange the same night so a bunch of the usual suspects were absent, but Christophe was there, which saved me.

I was really nervous heading up. I mean, blues? It's all sexy and slinky and I'm way better at waltz and Irish that don't have any slink to them at all. I got there and joined the class as the only woman in a room full of rather hopeful looking guys. Luckily, other ladies trickled in as well.

But then after the lessons, the lights were turned down low, and off I went on the floor with Christophe. That boy can fling me around like a rag doll and make me look like Ginger Rogers while it happens. He's the best advertising campaign I could ever have. And sure enough, there were plenty of folks asking for a dance, and me explaining repeatedly that I really didn't have a clue and it was my first night. Luckily, I follow well. Followed through bends and dips and grinds and things my knees and hips were really unclear on. But it went well, and I felt welcome.

Sherman and Auntie's place was a short hop across the bay. Within fifteen minutes, I was enjoying a hot shower. I was pretty sure my knees were going to hate me in the morning, but as it turned out, they were just fine with all that blues dancing. So I guess I'll be back. It makes a nice alternative for Friday nights without Friday Night Waltz.

Picture Meme

Everybody was posting fun pictures for this meme and I thought, "Well bummer. I don't have a camera." But then I realized my shiny new Mac has a built in camera, so I figured that was my excuse to try it. But how? Is it this icon with a camera on it. Nope. How about this one? No, not that either. Dig into the Finder and find more photo related stuff. Oh! I bet it's Photo Booth. Sure enough, take a picture. Now where did the Mac save it? Arg. Okay, email it to myself. I miss my My Documents folder. Maybe I should set up something like that. How do I set up a default folder for things to be stored? What is the default folder? Why doesn't it ask me what to name things? Because photo 1.jpg is not a very helpful name. Anyway, net result, I get to play along and learn a little about my Mac. This is good.

Take a picture of yourself right now.
Don't change your clothes, don't fix your hair - just take a picture.
Post that picture with NO editing.
Post these instructions with the picture.

in the moment

Also, as fair warning, I do expect to be blathering a bit about the differences I'm discovering between the two systems. Mac has such a high stake in "It's easier! It's better!" that I feel compelled to point out that that's not always true. I already miss my right-click button because to do the same thing on a Mac, it either takes longer or takes two hands (which is rarely possible at home because one hand usually is occupied with Leeloo snuggles). Also, for all of my Mac loving friends, please, point out the cool stuff or the "here's how you do it". That's what will keep me going as I make this transition.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Things You Don't Notice

A month or so ago we published the new Stanford Email and Calendar service site. It's lovely. Brian did a fabulous job on the front page layout. We put content up here and there and we're adding to it frequently.

But then I got a note from the queen of communications for this project sent me a little email about the New vs. Old webmail page. Seems the first message in the inbox for the old webmail was an ad for "Enalgre your Penis!"

Jo-ann put together the page. I reviewed it. Linda reviewed it. Christopher reviewed it. Nobody noticed. But then Nan points it out and I have to explain why we need a new screen shot to my manager and to the guy who will Photoshop that out. It's all fixed now. La la la...

Litter Maid?

Does anyone I know who is reading this (preferably vaguely local) use a Litter Maid? I've got some Litter Maid accessories. The Litter Maid died back when Tigger was so ill with diabetes. The Litter Maid accessories have sat in the garage wanting use since then. I'd rather they go somewhere they'll be used rather than a landfill. I've got a dozen trays and a tent.

Forte Forum

I went to a thing last night in the city for women who are considering an MBA - the Forte Forum. I haven't seriously considered an MBA, but it's in the list of options. In my fantasy world where I have the money to take two years off of work and focus on learning new skills, it's on the list of options to pursue.

Unfortunately, I think it had the opposite of the intended effect. First off, I felt immediately like I was too old to do this. Only 18% of MBA candidates are over 31. The average is someone who has been out of college for 3 years.

The second problem is that money thing. For most programs, I'd need to take 2 years off work and pay the tuition as well, which ranged from $45k to $100k a year. Wog. Even "Executive MBA" programs geared toward working professionals still have big tuition cost issues. That'd be great if Stanford paid for it, but their annual tuition assistance for staff is $2450, which is to say, feeble.

(It's always been one of the things that's vaguely offended me at Stanford - we can't take classes here and they don't facilitate our getting an education elsewhere. The attitude feels a bit like "You'll do what you were hired to do and don't get all uppity thinking you need more education." I feel like an educational institution would be more interested in furthering the education of its staff, but that's not how it is. The children of staff, yes, to the tune of up to $18,000 a year at the institution of your choice, but not the staff. Grumble.)

The third problem really came from the event. They had a panel of speakers and they each told where they went to school, asked them a few prepared questions, and then opened it to the audience for questions. My question was about what skills they'd learned in their programs that were the most valuable. Thoughtful looks from all of them, but nothing they could pull up. Finally one said, "Learning to work in a group as a team." The others all agreed, and added in that it's really so much about the people you meet and build a network with.

Group/team work I've learned in my teacher credential program and further in my project management certification courses. I've become a much bigger fan of group/team efforts than I ever was in my youth. Of course it helps that in my youth, group work meant that things would get divided up, I'd do my work, and everyone else would flake or do a crap job and I'd either do their work for them or take the bad grade. In the APM courses, everyone would do what they were assigned and care about the content.

As far as building a social network, for better or worse, I have one, and I like the one I've got. It's not career-based, but it sometimes allows for career networking.

So, put myself a hundred grand in debt for a degree that may or may not be a good fit for my career path? Um... don't think so. But it's nice to have that option off the table. There are other things that I think I'd go for if I had the money. (But I don't have the money, so it's all mostly moot.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Scientific American

Scientific American is running a series of articles on Creationism vs. Evolution. The least subtly titled one is "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense." Gee SciAm, tell us how you really feel; don't hold back.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Watched the first episode and recognized two locations. That was oddly jarring. Well, it's the X-Files all over again. We'll see if it turns out well or just goofy. It's riding the edge right now. I'm not sure J. J. Abrams has the level of control he needs to pull this off.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Almost Made It

After a full day of waffling, I was almost out the door to ceili, but then I got a call on wedding seating. Now it looks like everyone is seated near someone they know and no one is seated next to someone they hate. This is good, and a smidgen more challenging than originally expected. I'll be at ceili next week, I promise!

Three Hours a Day?!

Just browsing this article on Scientific American. If you've got genes for obesity, you can cancel it out by exercising 3 or more hours per day. So basically, if you've got a normal desk job and the obesity genes, then you're screwed. It's a rare day that I get three hours of time off when I'm not commuting, eating, or sleeping and I'd have to spend it all exercising every single day. Guess I'll always be on the plump side. That's okay though. I like my curves and apparently so do others because I got a boatload of compliments at the Steampunk ball on Saturday. (Many thanks to Ari for the loan of the red frillies. It was so hot and I've never been so grateful to be out of my dress and parading around in my underthings.)

Thrill the World

There were little fliers for this at PEERS Saturday night. I am soooooo tempted. It's 11am in San Francisco before a Fezziwigs rehearsal that day. I could totally do that. Oh my my my.

Why I Don't Trust Relgious Folks

It basically boils down to the attitude of "I'm right, you're wrong, and I'm so certain that I'm going to kill you if you don't agree with me." Oh sure, sometimes "kill you" is replaced with burn your home down, run you out of town, ban the things you love (books or dancing for example), force you to live by my standards, shun you, cut your hair off, brand you, put you in jail, etc. There's a long list. The thing is, how do you become so very certain that no evidence to the contrary is considered and there's no room left for, "Well, I disagree, but whatever works for you so long as it doesn't hurt me or mine." That intolerance of difference of opinion just stings me to the core. Lord knows how many times I've been wrong, but it's a lot, let me assure you, and in some of those cases, I've been very very sure I'm right at the time. I can't imagine ever having the level of certainty needed in my rightness to kill someone else just because they refuse to agree with me.

Today's ponderings brought to you by Giordano Bruno, burned alive for his unorthodox ideas like the universe is infinite and that other solar systems exist. Now 400 years later, we can easily observe other solar systems and the idea that the universe is infinite is the standard theory. Don't we feel so much safer knowing that such a dangerous lunatic was taken care of for us through the generosity of the Catholic church?

How do people integrate the actions of the church over the years with their beliefs? How can you give money to an organization that has done stuff like that? Oh it's in the past you say; it's not like that now. All I can say is that you believe whatever makes you happy, and none of my atheist or agnostic or anti-religious friends will ever even consider developing a formal subgroup to pass judgement on you or burn you alive. We're nice like that.

Baby Lost a Tooth

This morning I was looking at Leeloo's teeth. Her upper canines had two teeth trying to occupy the space for one tooth and it looked painful. This explains why everything this week has been bite-chew-bite-chew. Poor baby girl.

This evening when I came home, one side had only one tooth where two were previously. I haven't found the missing tooth, but it's either lurking around somewhere (perhaps in Pixel's ear? She does love chewing on him so.) or it got eaten. Either way, her gums look much happier. I hope the other one joins it soon.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Gonna Be a Little Busy

Work is a little busy. My job is a weird hybrid of communications, marketing, documentation, and training. In fact, that's what I like most about it. When the training times come, it's project oriented and I teach the class for a month or two and then hand it off to someone else to carry on. It's never boring. But then I just typed up the dates I'm teaching one of three classes this fall. Each day I'm teaching two separate classes. I posted them all on the project web site:

October 13, 2008
October 14, 2008
October 16, 2008
October 17, 2008
October 20, 2008
October 21, 2008
October 22, 2008
October 24, 2008
October 27, 2008
October 29, 2008
October 31, 2008
November 3, 2008
November 4, 2008
November 5, 2008
November 6, 2008
November 11, 2008
November 12, 2008
November 13, 2008
November 14, 2008
November 17, 2008
November 19, 2008
November 21, 2008
December 1, 2008
December 3, 2008
December 5, 2008
December 8, 2008
December 10, 2008
December 12, 2008
December 15, 2008

I will not panic. It will all be fine.

And Then I Was Injured

I have no idea what happened. I went out at lunch to run to the dealer to get my car looked at (because it asked me to and you obey the Prius), found out my car was fine, got back in the car and came back to campus. When I got out of the car again, there was a spectacular pain in my heel. I figured it must be a cramp of some kind, but in my heel? Weird.

I limped back to the office and immediately iced it. I chased that a few hours later with ibuprofen. It still hurts. I still can't put weight on my right foot. I certainly can't dance on it. Guess I'm going home to watch Mad Men from Netflix instead of going to Friday Night Waltz. Major Bummer. Somebody show me the Grand Polonaise later please?

Can you help?

I just got a call from the Stanford Blood Center. I'm eligible to donate again on Monday and they're running so low that they called to ask if I could come in on Monday. Um... yeah, sure.

So, just a gentle nudge - if you can, now would be a good time to donate a pint. Heck, the blood center is giving me free movie tickets, so there might even be something in it for you.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Creation and Science

Science is "the systematic observation of natural events and conditions in order to discover facts about them and to formulate laws and principles based on these facts."

Science class is supposed to be learning about that process and what has been discovered, and to train students to think scientifically so that new things can be discovered, researched, analyzed and documented. It's that simple.

I appreciate that many people believe in things that run contrary to what we have discovered via systematic observation. That's fine. Believe whatever works for you. If you want to believe that god created the world in seven days, that's fine with me. If you want to believe that Lord Vishnu woke up and commanded Brahma to create the world, then that's fine too. If you want to believe that Bumba vomited up the sun, that's just dandy.

However, that does not make it science and it has no place in a science class.

If you want to talk about it in school, I'd recommend a history class (since it's likely not much more off than many other historical things we know for sure) or in an English class. Heck, that's what I did when I taught English. We spent a week in the mythology segment of the class talking about creation myths from around the world. There was a lot of variation and a lot of similarity. I worked primarily from Primal Myths, but there's far more readable texts out there nowadays. The funny thing was how many students thought they got the easy one when they got a copy of Genesis. The sad part was how few of them had actually read it and only believed what their pastor or their parents had told them was in it.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Strike Two for Chrome

Technically, strike one was that Zimbra Advanced doesn't run in Chrome, so that makes this strike two.

I had six tabs open in Chrome and knowing that it was a risk, I decided to see what happens when I click the close button. It just closes. It didn't even ask if I was sure I wanted to close all of those tabs (like old Firefox). It certainly didn't do what Firefox 3 does - ask me if I want to save my open tabs before quitting. This is my favorite new feature of 3.0, because I figured out long ago that if I needed to shut down my computer but didn't want to lose all my open tabs, I could close everything except Firefox and then start the shut down and it would come back and say, "Oh hey, Firefox closed unexpectedly, so do you want me to restore your old session?" And I'd say yes, thanks so much, and be right back up and running. Very handy. Well, the folks at Mozilla clearly noticed this too and improved that quirk to make it an actual feature. Nicely done chaps.

Meanwhile, since I wanted to see how Safari did with Zimbra, I've been playing with that today too. It has a very Mac-y feel to the fonts, but so far has performed well. It only asked me if I wanted to close all those tabs (which is better than Chrome!), so I'm sticking with Firefox for the moment. Actually, I think I'm going to continue running parallel browsers. It's kind of oddly convenient.


I went to get measured for Fred's wedding yesterday. Selix made me very nervous because they assured me that what they would provide would just magically fit, but that I couldn't possibly try it on until the Thursday before the wedding. Now, granted, we're not doing trousers here, but even still, we're putting a very girl shaped body into very boy shaped clothes. I really really wanted to try something on, make sure it looked decent, and feel confident. I didn't get that. In fact, I didn't even get a copy of my measurements. The only one I noticed her writing down was the 13 1/2 neck. The others seemed to be written in Selix-code. They seemed confident that a boys size 18 would fit me suitably. The size 34 coat was rather swimmy, except around the bum where it was tight. This is not an unsurprising outcome.

I'm going to ask a friend to remeasure, but it looks like I can buy a boys tailcoat on eBay for far less than they want to rent it to me for. That still doesn't much help with the try-it-on portion of the adventure, but at least I could get it shipped to me sooner than 3 days before the wedding.

Do any ladies I know own a tailcoat? If so, could I possibly try it on?

Costco Run

I finally had enough things that making a trip to Costco made sense. Costco adamantly refuses to have a quick check lane, so after a few times with 3 items in arms being stuck for 40 minutes in line behind the guy buying $600 worth of jeans, socks, random other stuff, I tend to avoid the place until it's going to save me at least $20 over going to Target. That's a pretty high bar, but knowing that they had Aidell's Chicken and Guryere sausages that are the yummiest things ever, plus reasonably priced recycled content toilet paper, and my daily face scrubbies, and well, that was enough. So off I went and it actually wasn't horrible.

I did manage to bring home the most ridiculous bag of spinach ever - two and a half pounds! I guess I'll be having sauteed spinach with pretty much everything for a while. But it was one of those Costco buys I couldn't pass up; at $3.79, it was less than the cost of two bags of spinach from Trader Joe's, and the TJ's spinach was super cheap compared to Safeway. So, I figure I'll make a nice tuna casserole with spinach, and some pasta with spinach, and eggs with spinach. It's good for me and all.

And you know what I forgot to get? Batteries. Who leaves Costco without batteries? I thought that that was some sort of requirement for exiting the building, but apparently not. Clearly the receipt check lady at the door was slacking.

Grandpa's Tomatoes

My grandpa grows the best tomatoes ever. At the State Fair last week, I picked up some Garlic Garni, so meals for the past few days have been as simple as tomato, sprinkle of Garlic Garni, and something else. Usually the something else has been some combination of eggs, pasta, spinach, cheese, potato, sausage, or bread. I'm swimming in a sea of yum and the only trouble is that I can see that the end is near. There's only four more tomatoes in the box. I've got maybe two meals left and then I have to go back to eating normal food. Wanh!

Browser Bonanza

It's been a few months now that Apple has had Safari for Windows. Safari never much impressed me on the Mac, so I haven't used that much. Yesterday, Firefox asked to do an update and promptly upgraded itself to 3.0. Um... not what I was expecting, but okay, mostly. Today I installed Chrome from Google. It's pretty. They finally successfully combined the address bar and the search bar, which is brilliant and will hopefully avoid some of those future conversations that usually go, "Put your cursor in the address bar, no not the search bar, no, okay, well, yeah, you can select the page from your search results..." I've had that support call too many times. Sadly, Chrome cannot become my main squeeze right now because Zimbra only runs in Standard format on Chrome rather than Advanced, and Zimbra without Advanced is just a slim shadow of Zimbra.

It's feeling suddenly a bit wild west out there again. Remember back in the day when it was Netscape or IE or Opera and there were the other little guys too and it really looked like IE was just going to force itself on everyone? And then it all changed and there was Safari and Mac IE went away and well... I guess it's true again that the only constant is change.


As an alternative to DSL, I'm considering a Wireless Broadband Card for the computer like these offered by Sprint and Verizo This option got more attractive when I saw that Dave could plug his in to a special wireless router. That's the only kind of wireless router I'm considering.

For the DSL, I already have a wireless router. Works fine. Don't need that. May need a DSL modem. Heck, may not. May just be AT&T continuing to be stupid. Looks like both DSL Extreme and Sonic will provide DSL in my area for cheaper than AT&T, so that may be a good first step. That does probably mean going without the net at home for a while though.

AT&T Update

It's been a full week since the madness with AT&T started. Their systems suffer from conglomeration and poor integration. There's a point where economies of scale break down under the weight of too much to manage. This seems to be a big part of the problem for them. I've logged another four hours on the phone with AT&T trying to get things up and running, and several times I've thought, "Okay, that should do it" just to have things break down again.

Case in point: Sunday night the internet went down at home. I was expecting this because the DSL modem is dumb and verifies it's password once a week or so. When it went to check, the password was different, and blammo, no internet.

So I went to the page and typed in the password. It said it was wrong. I was puzzled and tried 3 other potential passwords and finally gave up and called AT&T. I was not in the mood to deal with them. But we worked through it, and sure enough, that first password I typed was the right one... eventually. I'd tried it twice, but after they kicked the system, then it suddenly started working. Oh you say, you must've typed it wrong, except that it's not dotted out in this interface, so I saw exactly what I typed and it was saved in the field memory. Grumpy.

Anyway, it worked for all of one day. Then it died again. After another hour and a half on the phone with AT&T last night (and a nice conversation with a very flummoxed tech support dude in Mexico City), we think the DSL modem may have died. I'm bringing home an alternate computer tonight to finally rule out any issues with my computer. He suggested that I could just buy a new DSL modem. No, they don't provide them. I explained that if I was going to be investing in new hardware, I don't think it will be hardware to work with this system.

So, in my favorite game of "Ask the Internet," I've got a few questions:
- Does anyone have an spare DSL modem lurking about?
- Does anyone have any special advice about wireless broadband cards or their providers?
- Do all wireless broadband cards work with a Mac? Or would I have to buy a special Mac wireless broadband card?
- How about wireless access points that can be used with a wireless broadband card? (I know they exist because Mr. Fezziwig has one that made me go "oooooh.")
- Are there any alternate DSL providers I should look into (or avoid)? I'm a low volume user who doesn't need super fast speeds. Just basic DSL, reasonably priced is all I want.

Remember - all of this started because I just wanted to review my bill and see why I was now being charged $25 a month. (Why yes, their DSL service cost has gone up 60% in four years. Isn't that lovely?) Turns out I was doing it all wrong by trying to log into their site to see my bill through I should've been on, though I can't see my complete bill there, so there's another issue since I'm paperless for bills now and I can't see the phone portion of the bill on the site and I can't get into the site. Also, there was nothing on the site that said, "AT&T Yahoo DSL Customers: Don't click here! You'll mess up EVERYTHING!!!" Because really, that would've been nice.

The Return to School

Classes aren't in session at Stanford yet, but my commute is doing it's annual madness as school starts again. For some reason, the commute in September and October is suddenly so much worse than the rest of the year. Today it took me nearly an hour and a half to make it to work. By the time I arrived, I was wrung out and ready to chuck it all and go home. Trouble is, that work thing is what pays the mortgage, so none of that for me!

At least on campus, the second phase of the September/October madness hasn't occurred yet. There was plenty of parking for my new C pass as I rolled in at 10am. Two more weeks grace period on that. Guess I'll get at least one more lunch out in the next week or so.