Saturday, December 20, 2008

WTF is it with Seattle and snow?

I survived four years of Massachusetts winters in college. That's mostly where I learned to drive; I picked up some snow skillz during shifts piloting the (16-passenger, RWD, usually-empty) campus shuttle van. It just wasn't that scary.

One year I invited a Mass-native friend (hi Katy!) home to see Seattle during winter break, and my family wouldn't let us go anywhere after < 1" of snow fell on the city. She was disgusted; I was mortified.

So what is the deal with snow in Seattle? If, e.g., Bostonians, had our attitude about it, they'd be forced into hibernation six months of the year. Non-natives never seem to tire of pointing out what pantywaists we Seattleites are about this.

Most obvious reason: It rarely snows in Seattle. My entire childhood, twice a year (November and March), lasting 1-3 days, if we kids were lucky. This leads to side-effects, and not just the one where Seattleites hardly ever get to practice driving in snow.

Seattle and King County own fewer snowplows than other cities. Many or most snowplows are fitted with rubber blades to keep from damaging the extensive network of raised-button and reflective lane markers:

Roads crews are working around the clock to continuously plow and sand City streets.... Following the plows are the sanders to provide traction on the ice. Snow plows’ rubber blades do not remove ice.

(We use raised lane markers because it rains here. Ever seen the lane markings when it's wet in Boston? Neither have Bostonians.)

No wonder most of Burien today looked more like it had been polished than plowed, though.

Seattle and King County say it is not cost-effective to maintain any larger a fleet of snowplows or sanding trucks for how infrequently they are needed. This seems reasonable to me, unless these last few years of storms are harbingers of long-term climate change or something.

On the flip side of this, as alluded-to above, cities with regular heavy snowfall get good at dealing with it out of practical and economic necessity. People couldn't live there if they didn't. People would have to move to friendlier climes, like Seattle... hey, waitaminnit....

A related reason: Snow in Seattle is almost always wet snow. Even when it gets cold enough for precipitation to fall as snow, we're usually flirting with 32°F.
Several of you commented about the nature of the snow last night. Most of you are used to the large, dendritic crystals that fall when temperatures are near freezing...our usual situation. Last night you got to enjoy the type of snow they get in colder climates.
Most of the time, that means what little snow we got will melt away quickly, completely. But when we get snow of any quantity, often, it'll melt partially during the day and re-freeze as sheets of solid ice.

Also, wet snow compacts differently when driven on than dry snow does, which is especially relevant when the streets aren't getting plowed right away (or at all).

A frequent complaint: We don't salt the roads. The poor salmon! Think of the salmon! (Or is it "think of the undercarriage"?)

Another obvious, though debatable, reason: Seattle is really, really hilly. Stuff other places call "mountains", we call "housing developments" and "arterials". I have to negotiate several steep hills to get out of my neighborhood in any direction. Only one of these is ever sanded; none are ever plowed. It is claimed, however, that other actual hilly cities manage better than Seattle does. See above and below.

The oft-cited reason: "I can drive fine on snow... it's all those other maniacs." Does this refer to all those native Seattleites who can't drive on snow? The natives I grew up with refuse to leave the house at the first sight of flurries. Could it be all those transplanted drivers zipping around assuming our roads are as driveable as the ones where they came from? (Maybe it's just the free lobotomy given to both kinds of drivers when they buy an SUV.)

Case study: This super-awesome news story from yesterday, wherein two charter buses nearly plunged 20 feet onto I-5 after trying to take an icy hill without chains, arguably had several of the above causes:
  • Steep urban hills
  • Closure of an unplowed arterial
  • Icy Side Street of Death™
  • Some kind of driver cluelessness, or reckless bravado, which led the first bus to ignore pedestrians frantically trying to wave it off its ill-fated left turn and the second bus to make the same turn after the first bus was already sliding and the second bus' passengers were screaming at the driver to stop
What have we learned? I dunno, but Washington state seems to do reasonably kind of OK with that big ol' mountain pass we have (I-90, known elsewhere as the Mass Pike); we manage to keep it open most of the time, even during avalanche season, so somebody somewhere in this state must know something about making roads driveable in snow. Maybe just not so much down here at sea level.

In conclusion: A couple years ago, I waited a few hours after the snow had started to begin my trek through the city from work toward home. I Had a Bad Experience. Two to three HOURS of road closures, crazy heavy traffic on unplowed urban side street detours, unwise steep hill attempts blocked by other people's earlier unsuccessful unwise hill attempts, jackknifed Metro buses, and finally utterly fucking clueless pedestrian neighbors who let their kids and dogs frolic in front of me on the steep unplowed hill I was, at that moment, sliding down uncontrollably. ¡No más! I got nothin' to prove any more, and I ain't goin' out in this stuff if I don't have to.

Bonus update: Dear Science explains how your SUV is subject to the same Newtonian physics (hi lafe!) as the rest of us, no matter what the dealer may have told you.

Another bonus update: Cliff Mass wonders whether it's really more cost-effective for Seattle to skimp on plows:
It is true that having extra plows for city trucks are not free and that snow events like this are unusual. But the economic loss of allowing the city to be crippled by such modest snows is substantial...and major decisions (like the cancellation of schools last Wednesday when no snow fell) are made in the context of such poor snow removal.
It would be interesting to try to quantify, indeed.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bold, bold choices

Last night on Countdown, I swear* Keith Olbermann said something about how President-elect Obama's hypothetically possibly choosing Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State would be a bold move because it would place a woman in such a high office.

A few moments later he clued in and noted that the current Secretary of State is Condoleezza Rice.

Great job, Keith, except Madeleine Albright was appointed Secretary of State by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and served through 2000.

[insert "Worst Persons" ominous theme music here]

But wait! There's more!

This morning on KIRO AM 710, Dave Ross said something about how President-elect Obama's even-more-hypothetically possibly choosing Colin Powell as his Secretary of State would be a bold move because it would place an African-American in such a high office.

He did not manage to clue in that the current Secretary of State is Condoleezza Rice.

And, somehow, even though this was the whole point of the discussion, did not put it together that Colin Powell, having been appointed in 2001 by President GW Bush and having served through 2005, has already been Secretary of State.

In conclusion, people:
  • We have already had two female Secretaries of State.
  • We have already had two African-American Secretaries of State.
I realize that we are really, really enjoying the historic-ness of the present moment, but let's come to grips with the fact that the State Department's historic moment has passed.

Hell, I'm not sure even an openly gay or lesbian Secretary of State would be that bold a move... unless she or he has the temerity to want to get married or something.

(Seattle March for Equality tomorrow, November 15, Volunteer Park, 10:30 AM with keynote speakers starting at noon...!!)

* I did not rewind or write down the exact quote or look online for the video today, so standard disclaimers apply.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day transcendence

I tempted, no, taunted fate by wearing a RED shirt* to work on Election Day.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Kyle wore a blue one. (Certainly without as much "meta" or superstition as me.)

I would like it very much if we could follow President-elect Obama's lead and be less "red" and "blue" in our collective political thinking. This is not to say that I'm turning away in the slightest from my values, nor Kyle from his, which will make it an interesting exercise.
* Not a Star Trek reference.

Election Day synchronicity

Interesting mix here in my Twitter feed.

Now go vote!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Suki Halloween Costume

The Challenge: For Halloween, LG wanted to be Suki, Kyoshi Warrior from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

The Mission: Design an awesome, accurate Suki costume for Halloween which would, we hoped, also be wearable for next year's Anime Con and Emerald City ComiCon.

The Staff: Lead designer and dressmaker: my mom. Headdress and makeup: me. Lead researcher, accessories and finishing details: LG's mom. Kyoshi Warrior attitude: all LG.

The Project:

We spent a morning at JoAnn Fabrics picking out clothing and costume patterns that contained different elements mom could piece together to create the final dress pattern. LG located fabrics that exactly matched the colors in our screen printout. I took some wild guesses at yardage. We picked up a few notions that we thought mom wouldn't already have.

Mom did some shopping for supplemental patterns in better sizes, and modified the design to be expandable in a variety of ways in case it needs to be altered next spring.

Barb picked up fans, two shades of gold spray paint, tassels, and other items. We each shopped for a variety of items to try for the facepaint. Very annoying that all the Halloween brands say not to use red around the eyes.

I designed and built the headdress out of a Clorox bottle and some chopsticks from Panda Express. I glued green bias tape to the wraparound headband area and added laces for adjustable sizing. We painted the pieces using Barb's gold spray paints and assembled with a hot glue gun.

Barb spray-painted the fans and applied gold medallions and tassels to finish up the costume.

On Halloween evening, LG finished dinner, suited up, and we sat down for a makeup application (which was long enough and unpleasant enough to give her serious second thoughts about her showbiz career aspirations). We used Clinique foundation base, white drugstore greasepaint (dabbed on with a makeup sponge), cornstarch powder to set the white, and then Wet 'n' Wild black eyeliner pencil and Wet 'n' Wild red lipstick (applied with a lip brush) for the designs.

The Result:

Perfection. Look for LG and a gaggle of proud grownups at next year's Cons!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Oh no he didn't

From CNN's Political Ticker:
"A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is hitting back hard at Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's speech Wednesday night, calling it 'shrill...'"


Way to go, Harry. You're a fine representative of the principles Democratic voters hold dear, and I simply cannot imagine how your Senate majority's approval ratings managed to become so low.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Oh no she didn't

I assure you, I am not making this up. I'm actually pretty late to the party.

From an Eagle Forum Alaska questionnaire in 2006, when Sarah Palin was a candidate for governor:
"11. Are you offended by the phrase 'Under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

SP: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance."
The original version of the Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892.

"of the United States of America" was added in 1922-23.

Congress declared it the official national pledge in 1942.

And finally, "under God" was added by Congress, at the urging of the Knights of Columbus, in 1954.

Maybe she meant different "founding fathers" than the ones in 1776?

Friday, July 11, 2008

D minus ten

10 days to Deutschland!!

Newcomers, be sure to watch my TravelBlog for exciting and insightful posts throughout my journey to Old Europe. It'll update to my Facebook feed as well.

I do travel blogging over there, rather than here, because there's extra mapping and social networking and stuff. It's cool. Čech it out!

See y'all in August....

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Gemini FTW!

Loyal readers will recall that a few years ago, I got run over by a lying, scene-of-accident-fleeing sack of shit in a blue Ford Taurus.

Back then, I said I would be investigating options as to dealing with the miscreant. Investigate I did... my lawyer advised that no good lawyer would help me sue (I'd win, but miscreant has no money to pay my lawyers any percentage of)... but my lawyer also advised me to check with my own auto insurance company, because I had about 50-50 odds that my own Uninsured Motorist policy would cover my accident, a pedestrian hit-and-run.

Sure enough, mine did!

Thanks to my aforementioned lawyer, whom I adore, I was able to negotiate a nice little cash settlement from my own insurance company. Unexpected and pretty sweet.

Oh, but that's not all.

Tonight, I get a letter from my own insurance company, roughly along these lines:
Hi, as you know, we recently paid you a nice little cash settlement. It is our intention now to go after the miscreant who hit you, to try to recover for ourselves some of the money we just paid you. This letter is to advise you that we might ask you to come testify against the lying sack of shit if it ever comes to that; hope you don't mind. Love, State Farm.
Let the happy dance, on my skillfully repaired and rehabilitated knee, commence.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

On the meaning of life

Last weekend there was a bad apartment fire in Burien... 1.5 complexes were destroyed, 3 people died, 70-some are homeless, and arson is suspected (Blaze that killed 3 people was arson).

I hadn't been able to figure out where the apartments were located in Burien, and it bugs me to not know things about Burien. I had heard something about them being generally on SW 155th, and yesterday I happened to be driving on SW 156th... so... yeah. I wanted to check it out*. SW 155th isn't very long, so it didn't take much time to find the place.

LG & I cruised by and looked at the two burned-out buildings and the "ARSON" signs. As we passed, I noticed a memorial set up for the victims of the fire, and I mentioned to her, by way of imparting how bad a deal this fire really was, that a 7-year-old boy was one of the ones killed.

LG thought for a moment and said: "He didn't even have a chance to live his life."

Then: "He didn't even get to live as much of a life as I have."

Something about that, from an 8-year-old, struck me as really profound. That is all.

* Not trying to be disrespectful, but... yeah, I know. I did it anyway.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Everybody who has ever put a flag sticker on their car or worn a flag pin had better show up CHEERFULLY when summoned for jury duty

I have completed my first real week of real jury duty.

Back in 1992, I got summoned in Massachusetts while attending college. I told the judge I was carrying 20 credits that semester, which I was, and that got me excused with some kudos from the judge for being so impressively studious.

A couple of years ago, I got summoned for service in Seattle on December 26. Seriously. I decided to serve it, rather than postpone it, at least in part because it pissed off my then-boss so much. :) Turns out when we all arrived for service, the clerk couldn't imagine why anyone summoned any jurors for the morning after Christmas... all the judges and lawyers were on vacation and no trials were scheduled for the entire week. She spent an hour confirming this fact, then dismissed us all outright. Sweet way to satisfy a jury summons!

This week, I served at Burien District Court. I participated in two selection panels, both for DUIs. I found it interesting how the jury-screening questions by the prosecutor and the defense attorney telegraphed their approaches to the trial itself. Granted, two is not much of a sample size, but in both cases the prosecutors asked a lot of questions about "reasonable doubt" and whether we jurors would be willing to convict in the absence of Breathalyzer test results or other scientific evidence. Would the "credibility" of the arresting officer be sufficient to convince us that the defendant was intoxicated beyond the legal limit? Most jurors said no, the officer's word, judgment, observation, whatever, alone would not be enough. Most jurors said no, it is not possible to know for sure whether someone is drunk just by looking at them, unless you know them well.

All this really got me wondering. If it's legal for accused drivers to refuse breath and/or blood tests, and I think it might be, and if modern CSI-watching juries will only accept the results of scientific tests as sufficient evidence, wouldn't that make DUI cases inherently unwinnable for the state?

A lot of people complain about DUI laws not being strict enough, and re-offenders seeming to get away with it time and time again, unless/until they kill someone, and sometimes even after that. Is that true? Is this why?

I totally, completely appreciate that the burden of proof is, and always should be, on the state to prove its case. I'm also pretty OK with protections against self-incrimination, and the idea of forcible breath or blood tests makes me uneasy. But DUIs suck. So what do we do?

The defense attorney in our second trial said something about how the burden on an arresting officer is "probable cause", while the burden in a criminal trial is "reasonable doubt" which is a much higher standard. Both sides asked lots of questions about what a drunk driver drives like... in other words, the probable cause-type stuff. It seems to me like it would be fairly easy to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant was driving really dangerously, and I'd be a lot more comfortable relying on an officer's credibility to judge that question. The way DUI laws are set up, though, in a DUI trial it's the influence of the drugs or alcohol that becomes the key question for the jury, and it seems to me like that is the more difficult question to answer. It also lets a lot of other dangerous drivers off the hook.

The problem seems to be that our penalties are linked to the reason for the dangerous driving, which is difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, instead of linking penalties to the dangerousness of the driving itself. Sure, there may be laws against inattentive driving, driving while applying mascara, driving while juggling a cell phone, etc., but I don't think a DUI jury is allowed to return a verdict based on the quality of the driving. I think they have to decide on whether the defendant met the legal standard for intoxication. Without any scientific evidence. I don't know how that would work.

I didn't get seated on the first jury.

Interestingly, in the second trial, one of the other jurors on the panel spoke at length about being a 26-year member of AA, with numerous friends & family having a history of DUI, and he was furious about what he saw as a completely broken and worthless system that allows alcoholics to get away with DUI over and over again. He asserted that anyone who's pulled over for DUI is almost certainly guilty, and allowing them a jury trial is just a waste of everyone's time and an opportunity for them to game the system. A few others on the panel expressed agreement. After all the questioning was finished, the judge asked us if anything we had heard during the selection process might affect our ability to be fair and impartial in this case. Everyone said "no" (other than those who had already said they couldn't be impartial for other reasons).

The 18 of us were sent to the jury room, where we waited to find out which six of us would be selected for the actual jury. We waited a really long time. Like an hour and a half. When the court clerk finally returned, she dismissed all of us! I figure several things could have happened: last-minute plea bargain, last-minute dropping of charges, some kind of continuance or reschedule, last-minute waiver of jury trial in favor of judge trial... it just makes me wonder if either side blinked, and if so, which one? Was the possible "tainting" of our jury panel an issue?

Pretty awesome to see our justice system at work, even clunkily.

And that is patriotism, bitches.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Birthday contact lens emergency averted

So, today's my BIRTHDAY and I've been having an amazing day... an awesome surprise present in my office (photos forthcoming), "Happy Birthday" sung at me across the hallway by my teammates, a fun lunch with friends, and a great dinner and movie planned with even more friends and family this evening.

Last Wednesday, I finally got around to ordering some more disposable contact lenses. I'm really terrible about over-wearing every pair I get. They told me my order would be in in a day or two.

This morning, one of my old lenses was irritating the heck out of me; I assumed I had a bit of fuzz in it or perhaps a scratch on my eye, which happens often enough and works itself out. As the afternoon wore on, it got more annoying, until finally I pulled the lens out to figure out what the heck was going on.

It had a little RIP in it.

No wonder it was irritating!

Never had one of THOSE before.

Well, hell, I didn't have any spare lenses, certainly not right there at work. Even my backup glasses were back at home... 25 minutes the opposite direction from work AND dinner.

I put the lens back in and tried to ignore those rough edges. No dice. By that point I was panicking about it tearing in half completely and the little fragments getting lost on my eyeball... or whatever.

As a last resort, I called my eye clinic and asked if they might HAPPEN to carry my prescription in stock in their supply of samples. "Toric?" "Yup." "No chance; those are special order only." Bummer. So I made plans to leave work early, drive back home, dig through the house for any old yucky lenses I might have forgotten to throw away, and as a last resort pick up glasses.

Great. We've got birthday dinner reservations at a restaurant with a patio, on one of the first beautiful sunny days of 2008 in this town, and I'm going to be stuck in my scratched-up winter glasses, no shades, squinting through dinner and then is it even worth it to try to GO to a movie after? Grumble. Glasses all weekend? Grumble. My own fault for putting off ordering backup lenses, but still.

I was about to head out for home when I glanced at my cell phone. Missed call. From University Vision Clinic. Like, 5 minutes prior. They couldn't've been calling me back... I didn't give my name when I called. In fact, I think they called WHILE I was talking to them...?! Voice mail: "Hi, this is [a different guy from the one I talked to] at University Vision Clinic. Those new lenses you ordered are in, you can pick them up any time."


Took me like 30 seconds to get 'em and another 30 to put in a fresh pair.

Sunshine, dinner, movie, VISION. Might be the best birthday present of all. ;)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Feminist technology theory as it is realized in a Guitar Hero III Pro Face-Off

Big news first. There's a vendor booth here where they're running a contest: beat one of their employees at Guitar Hero III Pro Face-Off, win free software (developer tools). I was too chikin yesterday, but today I showed up determined to play. That's when I found out their real GHIII player had to go home, so other booth staff are subbing in for him. The new rules? "You pick the song, you pick the difficulty, but no Expert. And if it's an upper-tier Hard you're pretty much gonna win." Heck. If I'd've known that yesterday....

Anyway, I picked the hardest song I can beat on Hard: Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Pride and Joy". I knew I was in trouble when I didn't complete one single Star Power phrase in the entire song. Beat him anyway, with 80%, which isn't a score I'm happy with, but not bad for a Pro Face-Off in front of strangers with no warm-up. :)

When we were finished, someone from the little group of spectators called out to the booth staffer: "You got beat by a woman!"


Didn't like that.

I prolly should've challenged the heckler to a duel right then & there. You know, on all the afterschool specials they say even if you fail epically, you'll win their respect. I dunno. Not my style. Whatever.

I filled out all the paperwork for my free software, and got my photo taken for the booth's "Wall of Shame" screen saver, which I gotta go back and check out later. That's awesome.

As I walked away, another conference attendee walked alongside and complimented my performance. "You really pounded him! Nice job. Do you play at home with your kids?"

Wait. What?

Super nice guy. Paying me a compliment. Loved it. But I cannot imagine that the hundred developer dudes here who've beaten the booth staff at GHIII got asked if they learned to shred by playing with their kids. The guy before me who pwned him on Iron Maiden didn't get that question from anybody.

At lunch, K & I got talking about assumptions, and how initial assumptions are generally based on past experience, and hell, even I would have to assume that a random girl I meet, even here at TechEd, probably doesn't shred on Guitar Hero and probably doesn't aspire to be a software architect. Can I blame other people for basing their assumptions on what we all observe together as the most common realities? Certainly not.

In our most recent architecture session, I looked back through the roomful of ~300 attendees and saw that I was one of only two females in the entire room. That percentage of women who are here at TechEd at all (you know, the ones in the Women in Technology Luncheon I blew off yesterday), almost none of them are in the 400-level architecture track. I noticed this, and I was proud to be one of the only girls in the room. I have started to feel like the more profoundly outnumbered I am, the more likely I am to find the content rigorous and interesting... the more likely I am to be exactly where I want to be. And that was before Guitar Hero!

I'm very seriously really hoping I'm the only girl on the Wall of Shame screensaver and will be disappointed if I'm not. I'm sure a girl who plays GHIII is perfectly capable of beating the booth staff, but I don't expect the girls, even here, to be likely to play in the first place. Even I make that assumption.

So perhaps it isn't the assumptions that cause the problem... as long as you're open to being wrong, open to individuals being individuals.

"No, I don't have any kids." Random TechEd dude was perfectly delightful after that, rolled with the punches, kept up the conversation. Well done, random TechEd dude. It's true... I only look like a girl. I don't really talk or act like one. I like it that way.

But it isn't really enough to throw "girls" under the bus and argue that I only need concern myself with people's assumptions about me: "sure, girls are lame, but I'm an exception." Not cool.

"Beat by a woman" implies that the crowd expected me to suck... even after I finished playing. In their eyes, the fact that I won didn't prove anything good about me... only something bad about the guy I beat.

And that's why you TechEd dudes are not fully off the hook for how you think about us girls. Even if 95% of the females you've ever met or heard of don't show any interest in actual software development, even if they all end up on the BA or PM or UI tracks, even if they don't game, it doesn't mean girls are bad at the tough technical stuff. It just means they tend to be no-shows. You don't know why that is. You can't actually assume anything from that, and you shouldn't.

And that's why I have to keep being a girl here at TechEd. And that's why I, who am wearing a skirt today and everything, am gonna go see if I can beat that guy again. ;)

Update: it has been brought to my attention that kids, regardless of gender, are generally way better than adults, regardless of gender, at Guitar Hero. This is the sort of thing I would have been in a better position to have known if I had kids... and it is a worthy and valid point to consider. Perhaps developer dudes don't get asked about their kids because the answer ("my kids pwn me at Guitar Hero") is obvious. :)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Roller coaster

Been looking longingly at SeaWorld Orlando's Kraken coaster, which is clearly, hugely visible from the south windows of the Orange County Convention Center. $70 admission to ride one damn coaster. It mocks me, there on the skyline.

Here inside TechEd, session offerings are listed at three "levels": 200-Intermediate, 300-Advanced, and 400-Expert. When I sat down with K to plan our schedules, one of the first things he did was filter all the courses for "400-Expert" and pick from those. I was horrified, firmly believing that I had no business attending anything labelled "Expert" level.

Yeah. OK.

I accidentally went to a couple of 400-level sessions. They were amazing. Fast-paced, chock full o' useful information, learned tons, and got it.

Then I went to a couple of 300-level sessions. Slow. Kinda repetitive of stuff I already knew. Made me wish for more 400s.


Either the "levels" are totally inflated, or, hmm, I'm kinda expert.

So who needs the Kraken when there are such wild roller coasters right there at TechEd?

Sketchy programming day

Conference presentation programming, not code programming. Well, maybe both.

I could tell I wasn't the only one who found this morning's offerings to be somewhat dissatisfying... I bailed out of two different classes, hoping to write code (DIY Hands-on Lab!), only to find the wireless network getting utterly hammered by other attendees having, perhaps, the same idea.

Dilemma of the day

The "Women in Technology" Luncheon conflicts with a lunch-hour session on C# lambda expressions.

So... do I choose to be a girl today, or a coder? Stay tuned.

Update: Even worse. The lambdas session was full, so I skipped both and wrote code. Wonder what that means.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Core competencies

Unfortunately for the health of this blog, the best lectures won't get the best blog posts because I'll be busy listening to them.

The Magic Seven core competencies for architects was, for me, greatly encouraging. (I'm trying to reassure K that the stuff I found exciting wasn't precisely the same stuff he objects to on principle.)

A lot of the Magic Seven, I already have.

I have at least a little bit of all of the different types of them.

Some of the things that separate architects from developers are the same sorts of things that cause me not to feel like a true developer sometimes. You mean there's a name for that?

Many of the competencies that I don't have, or need work in, I can think right now of very specific problems I'm having on my project that are caused or worsened by those very things (or the absence of them).

Finally, even supremely competent architects fail. In the middle of an ongoing epic fail, it's pretty much impossible to know whether the architect could have prevented the failure by successful deployment of core competencies, or whether the whole thing was doomed from the start, but one hopes to be able to learn something someday looking back. (Hopefully not looking back from the business end of an espresso machine, though.)

Friends don't let friends drink Kool-Aid

The thing is, software + services is almost certainly the right model for us (the place where I work) whether we "like" it or not. :)

And yes, a major draw of "cloud computing" was its Microsoft-killer potential.

But it's still funny-sad to see how hard Microsoft propagandizes for desktop client software plus services, pretending as though their very life didn't depend on it (and as if they weren't also scrambling to get cloudy just in case). "Software plus services! What a great idea! Oh, no reason."

Pre-conference seminar for Aspiring Architects

Turning software development into a true profession has been a wishlist item for years. If only we had a governing body, unity, standards, education and career paths to follow, networking, community, leverage. Some of my hotheaded friends even threw the word "union" around for a while. Now it's gotten even more specific: turning architecture into a true profession. In all the same ways. Which seems kinda odd considering the original software development profession thing hasn't been solved either. (At least, I don't think it has... hope I didn't miss a memo.)

Having said that, the presentation by the founder of the (non-profit) International Software Architects Association (IASA) was really interesting and useful. He's a good speaker, and he addressed so many of the things I struggle with... sure seems like I'm not the only one trying to get my brain around this.

"Architects are technology strategists." (I heard a lot of keyboarding in the room after he said that one, but I'm still contemplating what it means.) "The best developers don't always make the best architects," and vice versa. I do not think that actually means a bad developer can be a good architect, but it does seem to contradict the notion that an architect is someone who's been a developer for > n years for some employer-specific value n. Following that idea, "can architects be made?" From scratch? Is the architecture skill set a refinement of the developer set, or is it something else entirely? IASA guy says the latter. Interesting.

I'm glad for the focus on professionalism, rather than yet another list of articles and/or tools and/or frameworks... not necessarily because I think the pink-unicorn-dream of turning software into classical engineering or medicine or what have you is likely to happen, but because even short of a full-blown professional organization, talking about the professional issues seems to be the right path toward applying architectural ideas to real problems.

Who are you and what right do you have to call yourself an "architect"?
What do you need to know to be any good?
Once you learn that, what's next?
How do you get the support you need from your employer?
How do you get them to listen to you?
How do you prove your value to your employer?

P.S.: I had some doubts about whether Microsoft really was going to be totally on top of every single little detail at this conference. (TechEd veterans may point & laugh at the n00b now.) I needn't've worried. They've got it all covered. E.g., I guess OCCC doesn't necessarily have wireless coverage throughout the center, which seemed like a major oversight, but, duh, Microsoft brought in their own.

Resistance is futile: Microsoft TechEd NA 2008

"But this is Microsoft! Why wouldn't they have their pre-eminent developer conference of the year in Seattle?"

The fact that I've now seen two business-suited Orange County Convention Center staffers zip by on Segways suggests an answer to this question. OCCC is mind-bogglingly huge. The quantity and density of hotels in the immediate vicinity similarly challenges the imagination. And, finally, here in Orlando there's stuff to do. Hell, that's all Orlando is, is stuff to do. The whole thing definitely puts the Washington State Convention & Trade Center into perspective: a very tiny perspective.

I've only been here an hour, and I've already seen exponentially more females than I expected. I have a feeling this is not so much a measure of any different ratio than I expected, but rather of the huge size this conference is going to be.

I shall be trying to stay attentive to what they're teaching here, shying away from Kool-Aid but remaining open to actual knowledge. :) I shall also be trying not to fall apart from feeling way in over my head. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Secret life of my brother

My brother is notorious for falling off the family's radar for long stretches of time. We still know where he lives, we just don't hold our breath to hear from him. (At least, I don't. Mom still does, and then complains to me when she turns blue in the face....)

Anyway, I only recently discovered one facet of brother's super secret life... apparently, he's at least a medium-sized cheese on the indy ComiCon circuit. I knew he went to Cons, of course, but this spring he and a friend got themselves flown somewhere to staff one. This was the first I'd heard of him staffing them at all, and he's getting himself flown somewhere? Somewhere that George Takei is gonna be also?!

This weekend was my first opportunity to see brother in action, at our hometown Emerald City ComiCon. I understood that he was a helper-outer of some sort, but that was all.

"What will you be doing?"
"I'm running the panel rooms."
Me, clueless: "Oh, sounds neat."
"I can comp you in, but not the whole family... that'd probably be overdoing it."
Me, still clueless: "Oh, OK."

In spite of the foregoing, my first inkling of the true gravity of the situation was when I showed up at the Con and brother, in his spiffy Con staff jersey and laminated badge and shiny Bluetooth headset, introduced me to "[guy whose name is the same as my brother's]" (also in a spiffy Con staff jersey et al.).

Me: "Oh, ha ha, another [brother's name]?"
Brother: "Yes, that's why I'm called '2.0'."

I'd been watching Con staff go by for about 20 minutes by this point, and brother is the only one with his name on the back of his spiffy Con staff jersey. Only it isn't his name, it is indeed "2.0". That's not all... his laminated staff badge also reads "2.0". Not even "[name] 2.0", just "2.0".

This is when I start to clue in that people around here know who my brother is.

Brother meekly asks [name] 1.0 for permission to comp me, gets it, and disappears back into the Con where he is busy busy busy doing things that require extensive use of his Bluetooth headset.

Later, I find out that [name] 1.0 is the Con organizer. My brother is known, to all, by a nickname which presumably was come up with as a practical matter because he has a name collision with the organizer, which means he's spending enough time around these people for such a thing to be inconvenient. Geez.

A few hours into the Con, we make our way to a panel room to see Wil Wheaton reading from his latest book. We notice brother's best friend scurrying to clear the panel table where a bunch of DC Comics luminaries have just spoken about somethingoranother for a packed house. We get seated, along with most of the rest of the Con attendees, except for the Con attendees standing around the back of the panel room after the chairs ran out. As everyone settles in, my brother takes the podium and makes a logistical announcement for the benefit of the crowd. Wow!

2.0 running stuff at ECCC (by bsktcase)Wil Wheaton reads a bunch of funny stories about being a geek. I, being a geek, hurry to upload to Flickr my crappy camera photo of my brother at the podium at Emerald City ComiCon. No photos of Wil Wheaton, mind you, just my brother.

After he wraps up another geek story, Wil Wheaton surveys the highly appreciative crowd and offers to tell us one more story... "although," says Wil Wheaton, "if I go over my speaking time, [name] is gonna be really mad at me! [pause] Sorry, [name], I'm gonna do it anyway!" Wil Wheaton proceeds to tell another story, which I don't hear much of because I'm too busy inside my head:

Me, inside my head: "ZOMG! Did Wil Wheaton just speak my brother's name from the podium?! Hmm... maybe he meant [name] 1.0, who is after all the Con organizer. But maybe he meant my brother! Wil Wheaton knows my brother!"


As we were leaving the Con at the end of the day, and saying our goodbyes to brother, I asked whether Wil Wheaton was talking about [name] 1.0 or...? Turns out brother hadn't even been in the room at that moment, having been running around Bluetoothing or something, so hadn't heard anything about it.

"What'd he say?"
Me: "He said, '[name] is gonna be mad at me for going over time.'"
Brother: "Yup, that'd be me."
Me, fangrrrl*: "ZOMG!"

In conclusion: in my brother's secret life, Wil Wheaton knows who he is, and at least pretends to phear his panel-room-runnin' skillz. Way to go, 2.0! <3

* More of a pathetic fangrrrl of Wil Wheaton, or my own brother? Answer should be fairly obvious from the above.

Friday, April 25, 2008

College fair... starting young

So, this week I participated in a college fair which I thought was going to be for high school students (possibly because the email invitation I received said it was going to be for high school students). Yes, I did find it a little confusing that the location was the middle school next door to the high school I thought it was going to be for... and didn't I already do a college fair for this high school's district, last fall?

Things started to make more sense when students arrived and turned out to be middle schoolers.

I think the other college representatives at the fair, of which there weren't many really, may have felt a little baited-and-switched. I sure did, at first.

But for me, this was a great opportunity. I actually prefer, in some ways, to do recruiting among younger students. In this part of the state, and in this part of the country generally, parents and counselors have almost no good information about how to prep for admission to a highly competitive college. It's very satisfying to give them advice while there's still time to use it. (Take the PSAT early and often! IB is preferable to Running Start in most cases! There's such a thing as need-based financial aid! Look out of state!) It just took me a few tries to get my spiel switched over and figure out how to talk to these much younger kids and their parents.

I think the community outreach organization that helped put on this college fair is in a bit of a bind... baiting and switching isn't cool, but if they worried that most colleges wouldn't bother to come for middle schoolers, they're probably right. A companion problem, however, is that most full-time professional college recruiters don't have a spiel for younger kids and their parents. I'll be interested to see whether this particular fair takes off or crashes next spring.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Notice to stalkers and potential stalkers

All those interested in following me around creepily, and/or assembling all the small bits of my online presence/identity into a vast and totally self-incriminating profile guaranteeing I can never run for public office, and/or selling my soul to Google (wait, I already did that), I present for your edification....

I spend a lot of time on Facebook, and that's a really good way to stay in touch with me. I just started using Twitter, which I automatically sync over to my Facebook status.

I share lots and lots and lots of photos on Flickr.

I link to loads of things on, which is much quicker and usefuller than posting nothing but interesting links on this blog. Yes, you will notice at least one unhealthy obsession there, and Flickr will help illustrate my reason for it. :)

I have accounts on all the major instant messengers, except Google (I use Trillian and am cheap); all are visible to friends via my Facebook profile. I have to keep ICQ... I have a 7-digit user number on it.

Um, I guess you found my blog. :) I have a WordPress one, too, but I never blog there... I just grabbed my name before somebody else did.

I'm on MySpace, where someone else has my proper name and this gravely offends me, but I got a reasonably close variant. I almost never log in there.

I'm on Xbox Live, with another reasonably close variant of my proper name. Watch me rock.

I'm on LinkedIn. Somebody just invited me to something called Blue Chip Expert, which I joined, but it seems a little MLMmy, so I'm not inviting others.

I'm on Classmates and Reunion and Alumnisomethingoranother and probably a few variants, but I don't have a premium account on any of them (because I'm cheap), so they're less useful as a means of finding me, but if you're reading this you probably don't need a way to find me.

Orkut pissed me off. A lot. I'm not there any more. Does it even still exist?

I have at least 15 distinct email addresses, probably more like 20, nearly all of which forward to the exact same inbox, but which are useful for sorting incoming spam, I mean messages.

I own my own domain (since the mid-1990s) and host a sad little website on it, only one page of which is ever routinely updated. Exceptionally clever readers of this blog might notice a way to find said website. My staff page at work is actually even more pathetic than my personal site; please pity it.

I've had my nickname since high school, it became my online identity and alter ego in 1992, and it's had its unusual spelling since I got a commercial email account in 1993, when email accounts were routinely still limited to 8 characters.

Within the last few months I've had a deluge of re-connections with long-lost really great friends from high school, college, and other places, with prospects of maybe kinda keeping connected in the future. This is largely thanks to all my online presences, and I'm incredibly grateful for it, so I guess I feel it's finally time to celebrate and wallow in said presences instead of being vaguely geekily ashamed of how many there are. :)

Happy Googling, or whatever.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Obscure skillz. I has them.

Jobs that no longer appear on my résumé:
  • Copy center assistant at the University of Washington
    • Allows me to claim that I've worked at UW since age 16
  • Barista before they were called baristas, in Seattle of course
  • Garageman at a SeaTac Airport rental car agency
    • Officially "vehicle service attendants" by then, but I demanded to be called the old-school term
  • Salmon processor in Bristol Bay, Alaska
    • Not recommended; mostly a scam
  • Industrial laundry attendant in Anchorage
  • Temp
  • Starbucks barista in Plano, Texas
  • Credit card call center associate
  • Home mortgage and community reinvestment data analyst
  • FoxPro programmer
    • Sometimes I do admit to this one on the résumé
  • Veterinary assistant at after-hours emergency clinic
  • Veterinary receptionist at day clinic
    • Zzz
Not so much an interesting memoir as a source of nearly endlessly annoying anecdotes and trivial knowledge. Altogether, a good reason to keep me away from a second drink at parties.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More unit testing tips

You don't need to write unit tests for private methods, as long as you write unit tests for all public methods and then make sure every private method is getting called by something that's tested....

We finally get an opportunity to learn VSTS....

... and it turns out I haven't bought my team the proper licenses. No hands-on for us!

I guess this is where all those VSTS planning meetings I skipped might have come in handy.

This is so going on my perf eval....

Update: Proper licenses (and my job) secured. Now get to work. :)

Tips for a successful LD caucus

  1. Make sure to be a full delegate, not an alternate.
  2. Do not aspire to state or national delegate status.
  3. Have a firm presidential preference.
  4. Sign in.
  5. [optional] Buy candidate swag.
  6. GTFO.
Following these handy instructions can save you an entire day. It was a bummer to discover, at 4:00 PM*, that I had accomplished exactly the same amount at the caucus as I would have by signing in and leaving at 10:30 AM.

* And all indications were that they had at least 2 hours to go.

Introducing TDD to an existing codebase

When you find a bug, prove it's a bug by writing failing unit tests for it, then fix the bug. Now you've got unit tests around pre-existing code. Magic!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Big Break LPGA Fangrrrl Report

Nth in a series of "where are they now?" posts about my favorite women golfers from The Golf Channel's reality series The Big Break.
Name                            Season  As of 2008...
Danielle Amiée III Last played FUTURES 2004
Rachel Bailey VI FUTURES-E
Felicia Brown III Last played FUTURES 2000
Tasha Browner III Last played FUTURES 2005
Jeanne Cho-Hunicke V LPGA-C, FUTURES-E
Debbie Dahmer III Pacific Ladies Tour founder
Divina Delasin V
Nikki DiSanto V-VII
Jan Dowling III Last played FUTURES 2005; Women's Golf Assistant Coach, Kent State University
Jo D Duncan V Director of Golf Instruction, Norwood Hills Country Club
Bridget Dwyer VI FUTURES-E, Cactus, Pacific
Pamela (Crikelair) Garrity III-VII Last played FUTURES 2006; Real estate agent in Florida
Ashley Gomes VI-VII FUTURES-C, Pacific
Dana Lacey V FUTURES-E
Kim Lewellen V-VII Last played FUTURES 2006; Women's Golf Coach, University of Virginia
Laura London VI-VII Cactus
Becky Lucidi V LPGA-E (Q-School)
Annie Mallory VI Cactus
Kristy McPherson VI LPGA-C
Cindy Miller III-VII Last played FUTURES 2006
Valeria Ochoa III-VII Last played FUTURES 2005
Ashley Prange V FUTURES-E
Katie Ruhe V Last played FUTURES 2006
Sarah Lynn (Johnston) Sargent VI LPGA-C, FUTURES-E
Sarah Sasse-Kildow III Last played FUTURES 2006
Kristina Tucker V FUTURES-E
Liz Uthoff III Last played FUTURES 2004
Karen Stordahl-Utrecht VI
Julie Wells V Last played FUTURES 2007
Season IX, Kāʻanapali, starts April 15!
Lori Atsedes                    IX      FUTURES-E
Dana Bates IX
Courtney Erdman IX FUTURES-E
Adrianne Gautreaux IX Last played FUTURES 2007
Samantha Head IX FUTURES-C
Christina LeCuyer IX FUTURES-C
Tina Miller IX Last played FUTURES 2007
Sophie Sandolo IX
Cirbie Sheppard IX
Elizabeth Stuart IX FUTURES-C

Thursday, March 27, 2008


When I talk nowadays to prospective Smithies about the college's amazing offerings, I can't help but feel a twinge about the chances I didn't take advantage of myself. Being the sort of person who goes after what I want (no! really?), I have a tough time getting my brain around the notion that some opportunities really have, permanently, passed me by.

A#1 biggest regret was failing to take a junior year abroad. It didn't occur to me that grownups don't just get to take years abroad later. At the time, I felt I had good reasons for not going. In my sophomore year, I went through a pretty rough estrangement from a family member, as well as some financial problems, and my Smith housemates became my replacement family and primary sources of support... I couldn't face the thought of never seeing half of them again. (Unfortunately, the ones I most relied on were already seniors and I had to cope with their "loss" during my junior year anyway. Denial is a sad, sad thing.) I also wouldn't have been guaranteed a space in my house upon return, and it didn't seem worth the risk. Considering how close I still am to so many Hopkinites, and how important it was for me to graduate with them, this might have been an OK decision after all. I suspect I'd make the same choice again given the same circumstances... but I can't help wishing I could have had it all, can I? :)

The other big regret was that I never made it into any of Smith's famous a cappella singing groups. I auditioned for two... the Noteables, as a youngster, where I went in unprepared, was terrified, quavered pathetically, and deservedly wasn't called back... and the Smiffenpoofs, later, where I prepared my heart out, sang my heart out, got called back, sang my heart out again, and didn't get picked anyway. That one hurt. Music was a big part of my life at Smith anyway, and if I hadn't had time to sing in the College Choirs for Jessel Murray or sing in Darshan with Cindy that probably would have been a great loss as well and I wouldn't even have known any better. But when my first-year recruits get into singing groups and immediately excel and are embraced by an amazing musical community, I can't help but wonder how it might have been to be a superstar myself. :)

However, I'm not sorry I quit the parli debate team as a first-year... I got all the good I was gonna get out of that one after I met my debate partner Heidi, and I still have her. :)

Strangely enough, I'm also not sorry I didn't get selected as a first-year-alum Head Resident, even though that was probably the most devastating thing ever at the time. I literally cried for days. It felt like a repudiation of me and my very Smithiness, and I do still wonder what it was about me that wasn't good enough. But nearly everything good in my life now was made possible by the fact that I was forced to find other avenues after graduation. If Smith suspected I was trying frantically to delay growing up, they were right, and I owe them my thanks for giving me the shove I needed. (But if they think I wouldn't have been a good HR, they can bite me.)

Which reminds me, I do regret that I wasn't able to return to my Grrrl Scout troop at the Clarke School after graduation... in spite of not picking up the HR post (with its cushy free rent and modest stipend), I had made certain promises that I'd move back to Northampton, get a menial job, live in poverty, and keep my commitment to those wonderful girls. I didn't, and worse yet, I was too cowardly to make any serious attempt to contact them over the summer to tell them so. That was uncool, and it does leave me with much to atone for... somehow.

No, we shouldn't wallow in regret, but once in a while we have to remind ourselves to live. :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

So much for more short entries more often.


Gender bending and breaking

The NY Times had a great, detailed article on the subject of F2M transgendered students at women's colleges ("When Girls Will Be Boys", March 16). This is a topic with which I was already slightly acquainted on account of Smith's SGA changing some important charter document to gender-neutral language a year or so ago, baffling we alums who were under the impression that Smith is still a women's college (it is).

The article mentions that colleges are dealing with trans issues more directly nowadays specifically because "adults who wished to transition historically did so in middle age. Today a larger percentage of transitions occur in adolescence or young adulthood."

I was inclined to some eye-rolling about all this before, but the NYT article brought me up short a little bit by pointing this out:
"In a sense, transgender and genderqueer students could be said merely to be holding women’s colleges to their word: to fully support women’s exploration of gender, even if that exploration ends with students no longer being female-identified."
Oh, right. That Women's Studies major I did, it said something about all that.

(Pwned! By the NY Times! On the subject of gender conformity! Oh, the shame.)

Anyway, I've read and heard now a few different attempts to explain or understand this new trans* generation:
  1. It's a natural extension of postmodern feminism, in which the very foundations of gender (and, often, biological sex itself! I've done it!) are seen as social constructs open to be questioned. (In other words, it's my fault. :) )

  2. It's a fad. Possibly a dangerous fad, given the longer-term implications of hormones and even surgeries. Being queer, being "bi-curious", getting pierced, whatever, no longer edgy enough... so trans* is the next envelope-pushing idea. (In other words, it's my fault. LOL.)
Something kinda strange occurred to me the other day, though, when I started putting this together with the huge amounts of reading I've been doing lately on the marketing of gender roles.

I guess I can't substantiate, but I believe, that our culture is imposing gender roles on children a lot more than was commonly done in the 1970s and 1980s. Even parents and aunties who don't want to participate actively in this phenomenon are fighting an uphill battle (see "Unisex Baby Hell", December 2006). Just yesterday on outside the (toy) box was this:
" wonderful nanny recently told me about a friend who asked her pediatrician what to do because her son kept asking for a stroller. Not a boy with a stroller! Someone DO something!"
What if, by pressuring our very youngest children to conform to restrictive gender roles, we're sending them the message that if they are interested in anything remotely gender-nonconforming, their only solution is to become a conforming gender?

What would that mean? If gender roles are constructed, does that make it a bad thing to want to uphold the construct but just switch to a different one? Don't we go into a culture war with the culture we have? I've even heard it suggested that those who transition might even be selling out the rest of us who nonconform in the bodies we were born with! I don't think that can possibly be the case... it's not like extremely conservative/traditionalist types love trans* people for upholding all of their preconceptions about gender. :D

I wonder what the complementarians think...?!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The great thing about democracy is, the people always get exactly the government they deserve

I follow a bunch of blogs where people are freaking out about Hillary's alleged/apparent scorched-earth primary campaign strategy: she cannot win, they say, and yet she's so desperate to win that she's willing, maybe even happy, to take down Obama and the entire Democratic party with her by a variety of last-ditch efforts.

Certainly it is the case that at this point in the primaries, negative campaigning against either Democratic candidate will just save McCain money in the general election... we're doing the work for him.

And it does appear that Hillary is increasingly eager to go negative.

So, a few things.

I'm an Obama delegate, and in our February caucuses I confessed that I was conflicted in my choice, and felt a little disloyal to my fellow women's college alumna. But I chose Obama based on his integrity, the promise of a positive campaign, and the quality of his rhetoric. (I actually think those things will be more important than policy specifics, although I believe his policy specifics are of high quality also.) This is feeling more and more like the right choice.

However, if Hillary continues on this path, and if we Democrats allow it, then we deserve to lose in November. We deserve the humiliation of (yet another) defeat on the heels of the catastrophically disastrous GWB presidency. We deserve to be shamed in a Mondale-Ferraro '84 kind of way (apt, isn't it?). We deserve four (eight! sixteen!!) more years of Republican rule and the conservative-stacked Supreme Court that comes with it.

Isn't democracy great?

Monday, March 24, 2008


I might have worked out a plan to time-share an iPod Touch for my Europe trip.

Background: I'm a smartphone addict. Unfortunately, I'm a stupid smartphone addict, as I got myself stuck in a long-term contract with a Palm Treo 700wx (reasonably OK) through Sprint (has served me well for years, but that was pre-smartphone).

With Sprint, no MMS, no native voice dial (they disable it so they can charge you to use their crappy dial-in-to-voice-dial service), can't upgrade from WinMo 5 to WinMo 6 on this phone, and worst of all, CDMA. So I'm planning a monthlong trip to Europe, I can no longer imagine life sans smartphone, mine won't work overseas, and an unlocked/global smartphone just for one trip is obscenely ridiculously expensive. Now what?

Enter the Touch. I happen to need a new iPod anyway, having finally outgrown my 4G 2gen green Mini. The newest version of the Touch is 32G, making it big enough to be worthwhile as an iPod, and it has wifi. As far as I know, wifi's wifi the world around. Safari browser, Google Maps... exactly what I use my smartphone for. Everything but the phone. Now I can get a cheap cheap unlocked/global GSM phone/SIM to use for phoning, and carry the Touch for browsing. Hunting for free wifi hotspots definitely isn't as on-demand as EVDO/EDGE, but this still seems like a reasonable tradeoff. Heck, that might even be a long-term plan for home.

Except for the $500 part. Ouch. $500 for "I hope I might find a few hotspots to use it at"?

Enter the timeshare. My good friend and hopeless gadget addict wants a Touch, but needs to unload his 80G 5gen classic iPod. Did I mention I need an iPod? Did I mention my smartphoning needs here at home are attended to for at least the length of my long term contract?

"Can I sell you my iPod at a cut rate so I can buy a Touch?"

"Hmm. Can I borrow your Touch when I go to Europe?"

"I can use the iPod then, right? Sure!"


And maybe somebody who's been a very good kid hoping for an iPod of her very own would have use for a 4G 2gen green Mini....

Update: Got it!! And, LG and I are in negotiations for a labor-based payment for the Mini.

Up-update: Chuck jailbroke my native voice dial! Thanks Chuck!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The 2008 elections on whatever planet this is

Red/blue (or, this week, black/white) visions of America, blah blah, whatever.

Back when there were still televised debates going on amongst both Republican and Democratic candidates, the most striking thing was (especially when they'd each run one on the same day) how it truly seemed like each party's candidates were talking about a completely different country than the other party's candidates.

The various media moderators didn't just allow it, they encouraged or perhaps even fostered it, by asking questions from two completely different countries as well. Or planets. Or something.

So this is the problem we have. Yes, Americans are hopelessly incredibly polarized, myself often included, but it isn't just that we disagree over the issues. We disagree about what the issues are. That's hard to reconcile. Someone from the "other side" passionately wants to work together on a solution to Problem X, but I strongly don't even believe X is a real problem, so no, I really don't want to put another moment into thinking or talking about it. Now what?

That's before we even get to all the things I'm passionate about in this election cycle that, apparently, nobody believes are real problems.

I took the cute "which candidate is right for you?" match quiz on a while back, and on pretty much every single question, the correct (according to me) answer wasn't available on the list of choices, and "this question is asinine and I despair for our country that you're even asking" wasn't an option either.

In the spirit of more and shorter posts, I might hold forth later on what my favorite election issues are.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

You can hit the delete key and be thought a fool, or hit forward and remove all doubt.

I've made out like the problem with all the email forwards is how politically biased, disrespectful, "offensive" they are, but that isn't really the biggest problem with them. The biggest problem is that forwarding me a political hack job email, or a tiresome hoax, or even pictures of cute kittens, proves to me that you are an idiot. And when people I otherwise love very much turn out to be idiots, well, that makes me sad.

See also:

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

eFECS Technical Architecture Developer Retreat, part 3

11:00 Previous schedule thrown out window.

15:11 I'm mimicking PP's code, but I don't understand it yet.

eFECS Technical Architecture Developer Retreat, part 2

09:39 Scott and Pete are creating an eFECS solution/project/VSS/etc. Sweet deal for me.

09:42 Mocking up a database....

Liveblogging the eFECS Technical Architecture Developer Retreat

08:50: Paul S. will moderate discussion.

08:53: First decision. We'll use whatever Visual Studio 2008's defaults are for things like curly-brace placement.


09:00-10:30 Basics
  • Tech stack
  • Coding standards (see above)
  • Solution structure
  • Service structure
10:30-10:45 Define backlog
10:45-11:45 Hack
11:45-12:00 Debrief
12:00-13:00 Lunch
13:00-13:15 Define backlog
13:15-14:15 Hack
14:15-14:30 Debrief
14:30-14:45 Break
14:45-15:00 Define backlog
15:00-16:00 Hack and/or future planning
16:00-16:30 Debrief & future planning