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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Computers Are Mean and Evil

Oh little computer, how you taunt me so! All day, I fight and I fight and troubleshoot and tinker to get audio on the VM Ware/Windows XP side. No joy. Finally, I am packed up for the day, ready to walk away and try again some other time. Before shutting down, I try one last time to disable and reenable the sound card and voila! It works. Now I have to stay after work and record sound while it's all working. Gah! Oh well, one more video helplet down.

Purple Tomatoes

Meanwhile, in science news, they've bred a purple tomato that may help prevent cancer. See, most of us don't eat enough fruits and veg, but we do eat a lot of tomato products, so if we can get the best stuff into the tomato, then we can all benefit. Woohoo! (If only these were ready to plant now. I bet my grandpa would have a whole garden full.)

Christianity - You're Doing It Wrong!

Okay, I just can't pass it up. It's too absurd, and I've had it forwarded to me three ways today.
Some Christian fanatics are concerned, quite reasonably, about the economy, and have chosen, quite absurdly, to try and correct the problem with prayer. So far, so typical, but then … well, they picked a peculiarly oblivious way to do it. They prayed before a statue of a golden bull on Wall Street.


Okay, because see, there's this bit in The Bible, you know, the one you keep quoting, about while Moses is up on the mountain and they make a Golden Calf to worship. Heck, y'all have seen the Ten Commandments right, I mean, even if you didn't actually read the book? Sigh.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No on Prop 8

With abortion, there's a counter argument to "If you don't want an abortion, don't have one." It's that life begins at conception, so abortion is murder.

With gay marriage, I say, "If you don't want a same-sex marriage don't have one. Nobody dies." It's really just that simple. I have too many loved ones who are now happily married in the eyes of the law. They've been married in the eyes of their friends, families, and yes, even in the eyes of their god or their religion for years, but now they have specific legal rights (and responsibilities!) granted by the state of California via the package deal that is a marriage certificate. And there is absolutely no reason to change our Constitution to alter that. Their relationship is no more a threat to the fabric of society than it was 6 months ago.

On a lighter note, I liked this video. Our Constitution is the cute girl.

Beaming

I just got done teaching the Introduction to Stanford Email & Calendar class. It went really well. It's the second time I've taught it and the fourth time it has been taught, and it's starting to gel as a class.

At the end of the session, I got the usual round of applause, and one of the attendees came down to ask an additional question, and said, "You're a wonderful speaker. It's just a joy to listen to you." I then answered his questions about an API for publishing a calendar on an external web site.

It's amazing how the little comments from perfect strangers can totally make your day.

iPhone

Status: So far, so good. The iPhone has proved useful as more than just a phone. I particularly enjoy Gashound, a little app that uses your current location to tell you where the cheapest gas is within 5 miles. I got gas on Monday night for $2.74 a gallon, well below the $3.09 and $3.13 that was advertised at places I could see from the road.

This morning, my neighborhood was experiencing a brown-out. Home network was down, so I checked the PG&E page on my iPhone to see if they listed the outage. Then I grabbed the phone number and called them on the iPhone since my home phone was dead (because it is cordless). That was nice too.

I've also caught a few photos of Pixel and Leeloo on my phone.
sharing the window
sharing breakfast
They're such a cute pair, my little matched set of orange kitties. Leeloo is a darker orange, but I think that's just because she's more smaller so she's more concentrated. Waking up to them each morning is such a joy.

I had a problem with my phone syncing with iTunes, and I took it to the Genius bar at Apple yesterday where my computer had apparently lost its brain and iTunes had lost its association with my account. So I reauthorized it, and everything seems to be working fine. Another woman was there and needed to pair her iPhone with her headset again after a restore and while the Genius was helping another guy and I was waiting for the sync to finish, I helped her lookup instructions for pairing her headset. You can take the lady out of tech support, but you can't get her to stop helping. Ah well. I walked away with my phone and computer talking to each other again, so that's all good.

I've also used the Weather app more than I expected. Having the five day forecast at my fingertips is actually pretty nice. I've downloaded a bunch of other free apps and we'll see if they make the cut. I found myself playing with the level yesterday while I was ordering lunch, checking to see how various surfaces stacked up. I've also sent more text messages because I now have 200 per month included in my plan.

Anyhow, I'm not sad I got it. I still miss real buttons, especially when ending a phone conversation, but in general, it's a fun toy that is actually occasionally useful.

Facebook

Yesterday I decided to go ahead and restore my Facebook account as it seems to be where all of the Friendster and Tribe refugees are going. Facebook is on probation with me because last time my mailbox filled up with an endless stream of pokes and werewolf bites and other nonsense that made it really really annoying. So please, don't send me that junk. I don't have the time or the patience for that. If this can be a useful tool, then hooray. But if it becomes one more thing to distract me, well, y'know, I've got an iPhone for that and Facebook might get suspended again. We'll see.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another Lovely Weekend

How many lovely weekends can one girl have? Lots, apparently.

This weekend was our last pre-rehearsal for Fezziwig's. There's so much to tell the new folks and it's hard to find ways to do it that are appropriately cautionary without sounding like this won't be a lot of fun. Hopefully we're striking a balance. As mistress of games, I managed to get everyone participating in Stagecoach at once either as a story teller or a pantomime actor with 3 groups running simultaneously. Mwa-ha-ha, I say.

After that, I ended up helping Alex & Sherman prep for their housewarming party the next day because Alex was a stress monkey and I knew she couldn't possibly work on it Sunday morning. With secret knowledge held close to heart, I made beds, cleaned bathroom, and otherwise tidied up.

Then it was off to Gaskells. Since it was Halloween time, I opted for the tux option since cross-dressing is best done when folks are in all manner of silly costume. Costumes were lovely and the dancing was great. At the end, I snuck away to Casa de Fezziwig to open up and set up for the afters party. Fruit and cold cuts and pork buns and chips and dip were laid out and champagne was opened. After an hour, I was so grateful to be sleeping in Alameda, toddling the 2 blocks back to Sherman & Alex's place.

In the morning, we couldn't possibly make dirty dishes before the party. We really needed espresso drinks, especially the Mexican Mocha from Julie's. And didn't quiche sound just perfect for breakfast? Oh yes, plots were afoot, but luckily Alex was too focused on the housewarming party to notice that we were acting a little odd.

We arrived at Julie's and Sherman suggested, "Why don't you go see if there's any room in the back." Right chief! We snuck out to find about 20 people hiding in the garden (and one neighborhood cat who was just soaking up all the attention). Molly, Erik, and I joined in the hiding and shushing. Alex & Sherman came out and puzzlement ran across Alex's face. By the time she looked back to Sherman, he was down on one knee, having produced his grandmother's ring. Important questions were asked and answered and cheers all around. We celebrated with quiche, tartine, scones, coffee, tea, and tarts. It was just beautiful and perfect. All of Alex's anxiety about the party later just sort of left and was replaced with sublime happiness.

But then we got back to the house where Sherman's dad was cutting a hole in the wall in the attic. There was a little fretting because there were 50 people coming and there was a lot of cleaning to make things presentable and suddenly there was sawing and noise and dust. Luckily, this turned out to be a major source of entertainment for the party because he cut several holes and revealed a full bathroom, complete with working shower! Go figure.

At breakfast, Joshua asked if I still had my projector. Indeed, I do, and sure, I could run home and grab it before the movie tonight. So I ran home from Alameda, snuggled the kitties, scooped the kitty litter, and packed up the projector to return to Hayward to watch Mrs. Amworth. Holy Canoli that was a bad movie, but it was made very enjoyable by sharing it with a dozen snarky friends and the behind-the-scenes musings of the star.

Home too late and had to teach at 9am the next morning. Kitten climbed into the shower saying, "Snuggle me! Snuggle me now!" So I did, and tumbled into bed with Pixel at my feet and Leeloo massaging my neck.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pre-Election Fatigue

It's that time of year. My ballot has been returned. The County received it:
Ballot Returned Date: 10/25/2008

There's nothing more I can do. But I'm still going to be bombarded with election coverage and people knocking on my door to convince me and commercials and predictions and so on and so on for another week. Next time around, I have to remember to plan a vacation out of the country for the last two weeks preceding the election. It's just too tedious. I just want to say to the universe, "Shush! I've done my civic duty, now leave me alone so that I can do real work! Just tell me when it's all over."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Charleston!!!

Richard is now teaching a Tuesday night series of Social Dance classes and one of them is Charleston! I'm all signed up and I now know what I'm doing on election night instead of fretting in front of the television: dancing! Brilliant!

X-Rays and Scotch Tape

Science is weird. I love that when I tried to tell this story to Erik, he kept being totally baffled. It sounded like fiction to his science brain.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Different Isn't Necessarily Better

Okay, so the whole "Macs just work" thing is an ugly lie. If Macs just work, then how come I just spent 30 minutes collating and stapling a document?

Let's back up.

I've written a lovely reference guide for my Introduction to Email & Calendar class. Used the same Word template I've been using for years, only now it's on a Mac.

First, the top grid line for the table refuses to print. Displays on the screen. Displays in the print preview. Does not print. No amount of turning on and off of the grid lines has fixed the problem. So all of my documents with a nice bounding box have a 3 sided box now and all the words can pour right out of the top of the page if someone holds it upside down. Well, okay, maybe not, but that's what it looks like visually.

Second, I put several reference graphics into the document. So I take the screen shot using the woefully inadequate Grab. Every time I use it, I miss SnagIt more and more. Where's my magnifying glass so that I can capture to the pixel? Where's my options to capture a sub-window? But worse than that, far worse than that, is that when I use Grab, I copy the screen shot into the document and it comes out fuzzy and faded. No, really. How this is even possible, I don't know, but it really looks bad when printed. I'm trying to produce handouts for staff across campus, and they've got amateur looking screen shots that look like they were created by holding a camera up to my computer screen.

So finally, I'm printing fifty copies of this thing for the IT Open House tomorrow and trying to ignore the ugly screen shots and the missing line at the top of the page and I remember to set it to do double-sided printing because it always reverts back to single-sided. I tell it to print fifty, and it does. Fifty of the first sheet. Then fifty of the next sheet. Then fifty of the third sheet. Then fifty of the last sheet. I pull them off the printer and start stapling, only to realize this a few pages in. Dave says, "Oh, you have to select collate." Seriously? I have to select that every time? Are you freaking kidding me?

Oh yeah, Macs just work alright. They just work they way they want to work and your preferences be damned. Either I'm going to join the Mac hive mind eventually, or I'm going to keep being frustrated. Funny thing though - I have Windows available via VM Ware. When I print there, it not only automatically collates and respects my preference to flip on the long edge, it also prints the top line. So after years about how great a Mac is for documentation, I have to flip to my Windows installation to get things to print professionally. Fabulous.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Snipe

I resisted for a long time, but there's a cultural problem on eBay. If you want to win something, the trick is to not bid initially and then have a snipe tool place a bid for you at the last minute.

Here's my assessment of what happens. People place a bid, put in a maximum bid that may or may not be their true maximum, and wait. Time passes, and they get more and more attached to an item. So then someone else places a bid and beats you out. Then the first person says, "Well, maybe I could go a little higher." And then the second person says, "Well, maybe I could go a little higher." And before long, you've got people going back and forth until time runs out. Usually one ends up disappointed and the other ends up feeling like they paid too much.

Bid snipe tools short circuit this adjustment process. It places your bid in the final few seconds so that the other person doesn't have time to reconsider. They've just been patiently waiting until the auction is almost over, thinking as each minute passes that they've finally got what they're looking for, and then whammo, at the last second, they lose.

So I resisted the culture. I didn't want to be one of those evil snipers. And then I lost another auction in the last 30 seconds of the auction. Le sigh. But then an ad in my Google Mail (probably keying off my "You've been outbid!" mail) pointed me at BidNip. The first five snipes are free. And sure enough, that was enough to get me hooked, and I've won every auction I've placed a bid on while using the tool. True, that's a whopping three things, but in each case, I got the item for an unusually low price. And so now I'm an evil sniper, just like the rest of them. On the plus side, this meant I won a fabulous dress for the Hearst Castle trip for under $30:
red dress
At 35 cents apiece (after I use up my 5 free), I think I'll keep using it. It just doesn't seem quite right, but I really don't need more frustration in my life, and that's what I've always experienced with eBay in the past, so if this is the way the game is played, then I guess I have to play like everyone else whether I like it or not.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Disco Inferno

You know it's been a long day when you realize you've listened to your *entire* collection of disco music, all 6.3 hours.

But the handout is ready for tomorrow (eep... 9 pages? Editing will be required, later). The Powerpoint is ready for review. And I'm going to go home and curl up in bed. Maybe some dinner first. Maybe not. Maybe just pie. Mmm... pie. 'k bye.

First Major iPhone Frustration

By switching to the iPhone, I had to set up my voicemail again. As I wandered through the process, it kept asking me to press buttons. This was all fun and games until it got to the part where I had to record my personal greeting. I started recording it, then had to press pound to stop it. But before I could do so, the screen went blank. Pressing the single button again, I was back to the locked screen. I slid to unlock it and pressed the Phone icon and finally got back to where I could press pound. Yarg!

Okay, second try - keep it really short. "Hi, you've reached Ammy's phone. Leave a message." Too slow! Black screen, slide to unlock, yadda yadda. Meanwhile, the message isn't exactly worth saving because it now says, "Hi, you've reached Ammy's phone. Leave a message. Aw crap! Stupid freaking phone. Just let me have a number pad you piece of s#!t! Gah!"

So I give up and go back to just letting it announce my name. I figure I'll try again when I have more time to play with settings.

As it turns out, there's a Voicemail icon in the Phone area. From there, you can record a custom greeting. I recorded a simple greeting and got on with my day.

I really do miss real buttons. I'll be fine though. There's a lot of faboo to go with the frustrations.

1+1=2

Already sleepy + first day teaching Intro to Stanford Email & Calendar tomorrow = No ceili for me tonight.

Lovely Weekend

For their anniversary, Emily and David invited a few of us to join them in Cambria for the weekend and tour Hearst Castle. Allow me to just thank them both now, because this was the loveliest, most relaxing weekend I've had in ages.

Lounging around the Pickford House in bathrobes over breakfast, the gents got a sense of what it's like when just us ladies get together. We giggle a lot. And when we're done giggling, we giggle some more. And we had to make a rule about no snarking before 10am. Invariably, someone would say something really snarky, and we'd all look at the clock and it'd be 10 after, and we'd cheer (and giggle).

But the highlight of the trip was dressing to the nines for an evening tour of Hearst Castle. We donned our best 20's/30's outfits, including three gents in tuxedos, and headed out. Our merry band of visitors blended beautifully with the costumed reenactors volunteering there. We arrived just in time for sunset over Neptune's pool. It was gorgeous.

After the tour, we retired to the Ragged Point Inn for supper. I warmly recommend the place. The stuffed chicken and the rib eye were both totally amazing, and my chocolate mousse dessert was so fabulous, I nearly ate the whole thing, though I really should not have done anything of the sort.

On the way home, we stopped in to see Bear's new place. Apparently the former owner really wanted to live on Tom Sawyer's Island, so Bear has become the proud owner of a fantasy world with 13 pumps driving a set of waterfalls, slides, a set of caves, and a a rock-like facade that masquerades as a pool. Amazing stuff.

Home again, home again to watch Twin Peaks and decide that pie was absolutely required. Luckily, pie crust is easy with a Kitchenaid mixer, so in 20 minutes or so, I had a blueberry/raspberry/blackberry pie in the oven. Two hours later I was scooping it onto plates with my new Pushing Daisies pie server. Yay!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Yep. Did it. Bought the iPhone. It's black. It's sleek. It's sexy. Went to the Apple store to do it, but they couldn't transfer contacts from my SIM card, so popped by the AT&T store afterwards to update that. Stood there catching up on my email while waiting to be helped. That didn't suck at all. So far, so good.

I'm working on a MacBook Pro and have an iPhone. So, um, you guys said you had cookies, right?

Gaelic Storm - Woohoo!

Gaelic Storm was totally awesome!!!

The band's motto has always been, "Never let the truth get in way of telling a good story." Johnny Tarr was thrown onto that altar last night and was reborn with versions by Kenny Chesney, George Michael, Michael Jackson, and Neil Diamond. The Neil Diamond version was amazing.

And my job as Chief Dance Instigator was used to its best purpose. About 20 folks showed up and we usually had at least 2 sets going at any time. There was 4 hand reels, 4 hand jigs, 2 hand jigs, High Caul Cap, Trip to the Cottage, polka sets, and even Anne's Wedding Reel. There was also a little swing and a little blues.

Big thanks go out to Wendy and Jeff for driving and to Jeff and Matt for being the stuff guardians in the balcony while we danced our legs off.

Oh and Culann's Hounds also rocked, though we got oddly scolded by the staff for dancing. Apparently there's no dancing allowed in the area where they were playing. This wasn't posted or anything, but one of the security guys said it wasn't allowed. I was talking to the band afterwards and they were ticked that that happened. The Hounds always seem to love the dancers, which makes the dancers love them all the more.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gaelic Storm Tonight!

Tickets are still available for the Gaelic Storm show at the Fillmore tonight. Show is at 8, doors open at 7. Tickets are $18.50. There's already 16 folks going, so there will be folks to dance with!

UPDATE: Culann's Hounds is opening for Gaelic Storm at 7pm. Don't miss this show!!! I can't believe I'm getting Gaelic Storm AND Culann's Hounds in one night. Woohoo!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Things Go Wrong

Some days just refuse to progress gracefully. Yesterday was one of those days at the office, and then I figured I'd come home, take care of a few things, and go to bed early. Ha!

One of the chores I needed to accomplish was dying my hair. I started going grey when I was twelve and lo these 22 years later, I've got more grey than brown, so until I'm ready to go grey for keeps (and endure a year or more of growing out my hair and looking like a dork), hair dye is a once every 4 weeks routine without exception.

So, I do the drill, remove all of the linens from the bathroom, strip down, and get started. Leeloo was being especially needy and kept trying to jump into the sink. Soon my gloved hands were covered in slime and that's when Leeloo jumps back into the sink. Sigh. She wanders over to the dye bottle, and knowing that she usually abhors strong smells, I think little of it. Then she licked the bottle.

Gah!!!

So I grabbed her. Then realized I've just grabbed the kitten with slimy hair dye covered hands.

Gah!!!

So I rush out to the kitchen sink and start hosing her down. I thoroughly soap her up with dish soap and rinse. Then I bundle her in a towel and call the vet.

Adobe Animal Hospital is the best. They're there 24/7 and they're always willing to offer a quick consultation. The vet tech asked a few questions: is she drooling or foaming at the mouth? Is she behaving oddly? Is she lethargic? No, no, and hell no. She's a wet kitten wrapped in a towel who is now very pissed off. A consult with the vet and they assure me that she didn't get enough to harm her and that washing her with Dawn was exactly the right thing to do. The also give me the number for Poison Control. Okay, good.

So then I tousle her a bit more and go back to the bathroom to finish my hair... now, about 20 minutes later.

Gah.

So I put the dye on the other half and hope for the best. While I wait for a few minutes, I snuggle the kitten again, and she's already looking much drier. The other cats are watching her as if she's slightly radioactive. I suspect they're all wondering what the hell happened and what they have to do to avoid a sudden bath.

Through the shower and out again and after a bit of this and that I'm back to the sofa where Leeloo just wants to be held and snuggled. Yeah, sure sweetie. Anything you want tonight. Just don't go licking any more toxic chemicals, okay?

The Phone Question

I'm all in a dither. My phone, a little Nokia 6820, is aging. I've had it for over five years, and it's been a trouper, but it's time to move on. AT&T desperately wants it off their network because I got it before AT&T merged with Cingular and moved to Cingular's infrastructure but then later decided that AT&T was a better name. Since then, Sam offered his Nokia E70, a decendent of my phone. I've used that a bit, but it is much bigger so it's not ideal for me. The thing I just love about both of these phones is that they have a nice standard number pad and a full QWERTY keyboard as well. I can easily type and dial and navigate one handed or by touch.

So, the iPhone came out and was all spiffy with its pretty pretty screen and I was very grateful because what I'd seen in the phone market for the preceding couple of years was uninspired. Getting a QWERTY keyboard meant upgrading to a brick the size of an original Palm device. But the iPhone had no keyboard and several other issues that made me wait.

And then the iPhone 3G came out and it was good. It fixed a couple of my peeves (like the unfortunate headphone jack issues), but it still had no keyboard and typing my SUNet ID password was onerous at best. With our Kerberos security, my day to day password is really long and nonsensical, thus making the predictive text useless. Add to that a monthly cost that was way over my budget, and the iPhone fell off the list of possible options again.

But Android was on the horizon and promised a slide out keyboard. Hope blooomed and was crushed.

Then I saw the little Pantech Duo and thought, "Oooh! Handset of my dreams! Come to mama!" But the device turns out to have a lot of issues (extremely poor battery life, reliability issues, etc.) and it's being discontinued by AT&T. Harumph. I became resigned to waiting another year or so for something to meet my needs.

But since we've moved to a primarily web-based email and calendar on campus, I've really been missing having a device that could cover me for that. Then Sunday night, my car charger for my phone finally died. The rubber shielding had torn ages ago, and that little copper wire finally gave way. Then I get in on Monday, and I've got an email from AT&T talking about their Premier rates for Stanford folks and how they even apply to the iPhone now. Hmm. So I go look at the site, and sure enough, it looks like I can have a phone plus data plan for about $4 more a month than I spend now. That resolves my second biggest issue with the iPhone.

But am I ready to go keyboard free? Can I live with the frustrations of no copy/paste, nay not even being able to highlight a large swath of text and delete? That's one of those details that feels like Apple is intentionally trying to handicap me, because it's not like this isn't technology they have on their other tools.

There's a lot to love about the iPhone. A little research and a trip to the Apple store tells me I can get a second charger that is both a car and home charger combo. That seems like the perfect option to keep in the car for travel. And the touch screen is just so pretty. The zoom in and out feature is brilliant.

So do I make the leap? Or should I be patient and see what the various Android based tools bring to the market next year? Opinions welcomed!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Browncoat Ball 2008

The Browncoat Ball in Austin was a blast.

Paul, Karen, and I made our annual pilgrimage to the ball and realized rather quickly that we were in Texas. There are signs posted on most restaurant doors asking patrons not to bring in their unlicensed weapons. Our waitress at lunch at the Iron Cactus used the word “y’all” more than I thought possible and we were treated to complimentary “queso” with our lunch. But, out the window there, we could also see the “Musician Loading and Unloading Only” sign. Apparently, rooftop music venues are the thing here in Austin. We walked back, passing through the beautiful Driskill Hotel and deciding we'd need to make it back there before the end of the weekend.

The ball kicked off with cocktails and crafts where folks could decorate their dance cards and make leather bracelets. Nassama did some belly dancing and I taught a few set dances. I caught up with old friends like Laura, Shanna, Greg, and Judy and made a few new friends. Afterwards, Paul, Karen, and I wandered back to the Driskill Hotel for a late supper. We were treated to some of Austin’s famous live music, had some mini-burgers and nachos and danced a little swing.

We rose too early the next morning for a taste of Tai Chi, a chance to play Mah Jong, and some Belly Dancing for me after lunch.

For lunch, Paul and Karen had opted for the box lunch, so I hooked up with 3 other folks and they indulged my request for southern cooking at Threadgill's. Oh yes, I did have fried green tomatoes, okra, grits, and chicken fried steak for lunch. I couldn’t begin to eat like that if I lived here, but once in a blue moon is a treat. The fried green tomatoes were super yummy.

The belly dance class learned a routine to perform at the ball, which was fun even if I didn’t have time to change out of my ball gown (with hoop and corset) into Shawna’s dress. After the belly dancing and the raffle, we announced the location for the 2009 Browncoat Ball: Portland, Oregon. There was music from the Brobdingnagian Bards and the Bedlam Bards. In between the Bedlam Bards sets, I got folks up and dancing again and even busted out the infamous pointy finger. You know you’ve got a good crowd when they laugh and join in. After Night Fever, I played some favorite songs like Wild Wild West, Doctorin' the Tardis, and Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Turns out, one of the Brobdingnagian Bards can dance, so I got a super-bonus swing.

Sunday dawned too early and we all wished for the chance to check out around 3 instead of noon. Lounging in bed would’ve been lovely. But instead we went down to brunch with the gang. Then we wandered up to the Alamo, but had just missed the start of the movie, so instead we spent the afternoon wandering around Austin, through the capitol, and finding that Austin doesn’t believe in Wells Fargo ATMs you can walk up to. We found one Wells Fargo with no ATMs and two Wells Fargos with drive-through ATMs. Very, very odd. Paul finally gave up and walked up to the drive up ATM.

Finally out to the airport for some late lunch/early supper before heading home. All in all, it was a lovely weekend.

Trampoline Dog

This just makes me happy.

The first ten seconds and the last 10 seconds are the best.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

No on Prop 8

I really loved these little promos.

First: Gay Sex is Icky.

Second: Marriage is for Having Kids

Certainty - Why Knowing and Being Sure Doesn't Matter

Another Scientific American article points me at a book I'd be interested to read: On Being Certain.

I too find myself often surprised at how certain people are about things. I frequently don't trust my own judgment, and even more frequently find out my opinion was wrong after the fact. So while I'll argue my point of view, I'm almost always willing to set aside my opinion for someone who is far more certain about their opinion. But this may not be the best policy.

But beyond that, the whole question of certainty is interesting in how it plays out socially. I see it causing weird issues between friends of mine because one *knows* something about another and reacts badly to the other as a result. Or when one person *knows* how things should be done and is offended when others disagree. Then there's the standard of politics and religion and how intensely certain people are of their beliefs in those arenas and how it causes them to interact badly with others who hold differing opinions. Even when the differences are small and seemingly trivial, folks will frequently get so wound up in the details that they end up disliking each other.

I also see this on campus a lot. There's the classic Sayre quote, "The politics of the university are so intense because the stakes are so low." But here, you've got people who are the noted experts in their field. Their livelihoods depend on their expert knowledge and certainty, so of course, they know what they know and will live and die by it. This habit likely influences how they interact even outside of their area of expertise.

Whoa - Really Magical CLR

Okay, so there was the magic of CLR for the cleaning, but the weirder part is that somehow by cleaning off the front of the faucets, the leak has stopped. I'm very confused, but totally thrilled.

And yes, it's Kim for the win! She correctly directed me to the right place to turn off my water. Yay! Luckily, since it's less drippy now, it can wait until after the Browncoat Ball.

Yay!

I got home to find a package on my doorstep. It was from Terrance and Amy in Chicago. They'd been to the Pushing Daisies Touch of Wonder tour and they sent me a Pushing Daisies pie server. Yay!

This led to much bouncing around the dining room and glee. Now I have to bake a pie to enjoy with Pushing Daisies. And there's a new episode on my Tivo. Yay!!!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Magic of CLR

I've got a leak in my shower. Most likely, I just need to replace a washer, but getting to it, well, that's the hard part. Years of hard water have built up a nice mineral seal around the plastic cap that covers the screw to the faucet. I thought I was doomed, but it occurred to me yesterday that I could try spritzing it with some CLR. I got home and spritzed it. Then I came back 15 minutes later and spritzed it again. Then I came back a half hour later and did it again. Then I ate dinner and came back for one more round. The years of built up minerals flaked away at the slightest touch from the screwdriver I was misusing. So I quickly chipped away the deposits and tried to shimmy out the cap. Sure enough, the cold went easily on the first try. The hot was a little more stubborn, but shortly yielded. Mwa-ha-ha! I am mighty tool user! And my faucets are all shiny and clean too.

Now the only problem is that I can't find my water shut off. Hmm. Got a couple more things to try tonight and then I'll ask the neighbors or the city. With a wee bit of luck this will be an easy fix. We'll see.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Out of Context!!!

Queen Victoria's husband just came to fix my printer setup. Weird.

Dundracon

Dundracon has online registration now. Sweet! I just bought my pass for February. (Early reg, through the end of this month, is just $30 for a full weekend pass.)

Noises Off

Getting tickets to Noises Off at City Lights was nearly as farcical as the show. The good news is that the show is selling out. The bad news is that their TicketLeap system is not especially reliable. I had several problems getting tickets, and eventually called to leave a message on Saturday and was surprised to get a person instead. Put on hold by that chap and resurrected from hold by a young woman, I explained the issues I was having. She said, "Hmm, well, I'll hold 3 tickets for you, and double check the logs later to see if you were charged or not. I'll call you back later tonight." I called back after 8 to see what was up, but got an answering machine, probably because the show had now started. I left a message just asking for confirmation. Lisa called back in the morning to say that my tickets didn't come up through TicketLeap, but that she had arranged for 3 tickets for me at the box office. I confirmed plans with Sherman and Alex and off we went. Only when we got there, it turns out we were on the waiting list, not having tickets held.

Now I've been told by many that I'm pushy. While this is often to my detriment, sometimes it works out. I initially walked away rather grumpy, but then came back and said started arguing my case. I was promised 3 tickets, had friends drive 40 miles to get here, and if there's some mix up and the show is sold out, I don't agree that my tickets are less valid than other people's tickets and that I should have to wait and not get seats with my friends when we arrived before the doors opened. Several minutes of discussion ensued and they finally said, "Why don't you just go ahead and take a seat and we'll work this out later." Right then. So, we grabbed three seats in the front row and had a lovely evening.

At the break we came out to actually give them money for the tickets and get a cup of coffee. They apologized for all the mix ups and offered us a glass of wine. I said, "Oh thank you, but really, we'd much prefer a cup of coffee." Turns out, through some mix up there was no coffee. I said, "Wow, you all really are having quite a cursed evening." I guess that's what comes of running a show about things going wacky with a stage production.

At any rate, the show was lovely. We heard about it via Magenta, who costumed the show. It was beautifully costumed, by which I mean that the costumes were perfect for the characters, didn't upstage the action in any way, and were highly functional. Perhaps the best was Brooke's underwear which she spent most of the evening parading around in. It was sexy, but utterly opaque, leaving her comfortably covered while still being the perfect blonde bombshell.

Another bonus was Chuck McKeithan as Freddy. Now, at PEERS, Chuck is always game for being made the fool and for ending up with his trousers around his ankles, so Freddy was the perfect role for Chuck. His upstairs journey with hands glued together and pants around ankles got a round of applause from the audience when he made it to the top.

At the end, in the spirit of the evening, we ran to Pizza My Heart for dinner, where Sherman discovered his phone was missing. A chorus of "Phone! No phone! Phone phone phone!" was delivered in the spirit of "bag!" or "sardines!". We drove around the corner to run back into the theater. He'd been laughing and squirming in his seat so much that it fell out. We'll count that as a win for the show. There's two weekends left - go see it!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Getting Things Done!

I cleaned out my purse.
I picked up books on CD at the library.
I returned an item to Microcenter.
I cleaned up the attic.
I totally emptied and swept the garage. (Thank you so much Josh!)
I sewed hooks on my top and skirt for the Browncoat Ball.

More to do, but I am well pleased so far.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pretty Sari

I'd been searching for something special to wear to the Browncoat Ball and I thought maybe a choli lengha or a sari. So I'd been searching eBay, not really finding just the right thing, and then I stumbled on a guy selling very reasonably priced saris. Turns out he's in Santa Clara, so I popped by last night and looked through his stash. A friend in India wholesales them, so he'd been seeing what the market might be for direct sales.

I picked up a silk/cotton sari for $36. This didn't bust my budget for the month, so big win! It's a pretty turquoise and blue color and I can't wait to try it on. I thought, "Eek, how do I do this?" But you've got to love the internet - there's both written instructions and videos available. Oh my dear 21st century, how I do love thee!

A.D.

I had all of these plans this weekend. Not big ones. Just little things here and there. And then I realized this was my very last free weekend (not out of town, not obligated to be at a required event) between now and Dickens. Yipe yipe yipe yipe!

So, plans altered a bit. Focus turns to household chores during the daytime. Must move firewood. Must sweep out the garage. Must finish tidying up the office. Must do my sewing and mending and take out my costume and make sure that everything is in order.

And this is the time of year where my constant refrain becomes, "Oooh, that sounds good, after Dickens."

Good Morning

Happiness is waking up to two beautiful orange kitties curled up together and leaning against your legs. I'm so glad Pixel and Leeloo are getting along well. Leeloo is rapidly growing out of insane kitten stage. In the past, whenever they were together, I could count on her to be chewing on Pixel's ear, leg, or tail. Now, more often than not, she's licking him gently and he looks so very pleased.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bedtime Fail!

I got home from Nona's last night stuffed to the gills with french onion soup, chanterelle mushroom soup, spicy pork sliders, macaroni & cheese, a bite of chicken involtini, raspberry-nectarine galette, and strawberry brioche bread pudding. I said to myself, "Okay, very tired, scoop the kitty litter, feed the cats, take a shower and straight to bed."

I got the first two items checked off before I remembered tonight was the season premiere of Pushing Daisies. Intending just an innocent peek at the Tivo to make sure it recorded, I turned the tv on.

Well, then I thought, better make sure it actually recorded.

And then I thought, well, I can just watch til the credits.

And then I thought I'd be sure to stop at the first commercial.

And then I thought to myself that I simply must pause and go take a shower and then maybe I could watch a few more minutes while my hair dries a little.

And then forty minutes or so later it was over and it was really really late. And I still had to shower before bed. I'm a bad, bad girl.

But it was so good! It's just the most charmingly absurd fairy tale ever and I'm totally in love. Up til now, the new tv season has filled me with a lot of ho-hum, but then there's Pushing Daisies, and all is right with the world. I'm definitely canceling my season pass for Fringe now that I'm reminded what good tv looks and feels like.

Nom Nom - Crunchy Science News

Okay, so I'm clearly a science news junkie. Celebrity gossip? Pass. Business news? Egad, depressing. Science news? Nom nom nom! More please!

I was listening to a story about traffic accident rates on presidential election days on NPR yesterday and then saw a post about it on the Scientific American feed. The only other day I want to see the correlation for is Halloween, because that is the one consistent day a year I'm mostly likely to find myself stuck in horrible traffic behind an accident.

Then there was a little nibble about why we laugh when someone falls. William Fry has the best job ever. He's "a psychiatrist and laughter researcher at Stanford University." How freaking cool is that? I totally want to meet that guy.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Food on the Brain

More good stuff from Scientific American. To sum up, they altered some mice so that they couldn't taste sweetness, then gave them the chance to consume water, water with sucrose, or water with Splenda. Even without being able to taste it, the higher calorie item was preferred over time. Lots of questions here and more research to do, but yeah, that cookie really probably is what your brain wants instead of the rice cake, on a number of levels.

Meanwhile, the article has a lovely picture of a chocolate sundae and all I've been able to think all afternoon is "mmmm, yummy, chocolaty, tasty calories... WANT!"