Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Meeting Groupthink

I knew it! Putting a half-dozen people together in a conference room is actually detrimental to finding a solution. Meetings -- supposedly to share information, "think outside the box", come up with innovations -- simply don't work.

People have a harder time coming up with options when in a group than when alone. It apparently has something to do with repetition. Meetings do foster discussion of issues, but the more than a particular solution is said out loud, the harder it is to think of other ideas.

The researchers speculate that when a group of people receives information, the inclination is to discuss it. The more times one option is said aloud, the harder it is for individuals to recall other options, explained Krishnan, associate professor of marketing at Indiana University.

I've seen this happen in meetings -- one idea is discussed endlessly, and when the group finally gets around to talking about other options, people are fixated on the first idea that was talked about.

Heck, I've used this to my advantage in meetings where I want the group to do things my way. Persuasively present the preferred solution...and then ask for other ideas. People gravitate back to the same solution, as if it gets stuck and is somehow validated, because they simply can't think of other options when they are saturated with discussion about the first solution. People fall into "groupthink" because it is self-supporting: get approval and positive reinforcement for reiterating the ideas of other, and eventually they seem like the right choice.

Interesting that someone has proved that it is a consistent effect, though.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Squicky Ad

There is an ad out for Dominos Garlic Bread pizza that absolutely squicks me out -- gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.

Guy opens box: his nose covers half his face. "Smell the garlic!" Across the table is a guy with a weirded-out enormous CGI mouth, "Taste!" and then pan to a guy with huge eyes stretched to fill his whole face.
It's all CGI, of course, but for some reason seeing the faces all mooshed around that like really makes me queasy. Yuck. This is supposed to be appetizing?

Monday, February 26, 2007


Weird things I learned today: You can tune just about any modern instrument against the dial tone on a regular phone.

At least in the US. The dial tone is a "buzz" between an F (350 Hz) and an A (440 Hz). Most instruments tune to an A, so you can just pick up the phone and go.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Melancholy? Really?

According to the people who populate the discussion forum I frequent, I should be sad, disappointed, melancholy, regretful (add your favorite adjective here) that my menstrual cycle has finally decided to jump into the random, disjointed pattern that signals menopause.

Probably not imminent, but at least it heralds the light at the end of the tunnel. I mean, really. I've never wanted kids, never intended to use any of the female plumbing, yet I've had thirty years of monthly annoyance. I've had a few hot-flashes (wow!), and some of the other symptoms of peri-menopause, and honestly, I've been waiting for things to stop. My family has a history of early menopause, and I can only hope.

When I expressed pleasure that my cycle (which has been clock-work consistent down to the hour for thirty years) had started to succumb to chaos theory (five weeks, four week, six weeks, three. Lasting ten days, five days, two days, four), no less than five people expressed sympathy at my "end of fecundity". I should be saddened and less, apparently, that I have finally started to cross the threshold of barrenness and somehow my "womanliness" is diminished by the fact that I will soon no longer be able to bear children.

I have to admit surprise at this attitude. It's been a long time since people have equated a woman's worth with her ability to produce children. That women are defined by motherhood. I had hoped that the idea that you can't posisbly be a "complete woman" if you don't have children, and that being fertile was somehow a status determinator was long past. Bearing and raising children can be the most important thing a woman can do (and the raising of children shouold be on the list of the the most imporant thing a man can do, but that part seems to be a bit more flexible), but it's not the ONLY thing she can do. It seems archaic and patronizing to assume that women will be lessened by their inability to have children, as if their sole purpose is to do so.

More women are choosing to be childfree now than ever before, and those women who do have children are having fewer (at least in the US). Is this a bad thing? I don't know. So many women in the past had children because "it's what you do -- you get married, you have kids". My own mother did. Perhaps if the social pressure to follow the "norm" and start having kids as soon as you married had been less, she might have done differnet things with her life. I don't think she regrets having kids, but there didnt' seem to be any other choice for her.

For me, the decision (if I every actually had a decision) was very easy -- no kids. I like kids well enough, but I have simply never had any urge to have my own kids. I'll borrow everyone else's and be a cool auntie, but having my own never really crossed my mind as a possibility. I can facetiously say that it's because my Mom did daycare at home for years and I had a very realistic view of life with a toddler, but it's more than that. Most girls show some interest in babies and having children and I never did. My mom thinks I need therapy, that i's unnatural to not want children, and I see her attitude in the response of my "invisible friends" online.

Can't have kids? How sad. Don't want kids? You're wierd or unnatural or disturbed and -- and here's the REALLY annoying part -- you don't know what you want.

I can't tell you how many people have told me, "oh, you'll change your mind" or "it's different when they're yours" or "you can't possible mean that" when I told them I didn't want kids. When I married the Adorable Husband, we discussed this very seriously -- and I still heard that it would be unfair to him to not have kids; or, at some level, that he thought I might change my mind, too. He never really wanted kids except as an abstract, but social pressure (and family pressure) is intense.

Do I regret not having kids? Nope. I've had opportunities that my childed friends don't have, and I have wonderful nieces and a sweet nephew. Like I said, my mother thinks I'm disturbed and need therapy to discover my natural role as a mother, but my life certainly isn't lacking anything. Many people have suggested that I've "missed" something by not having kids. I can't decide if that's because they are so happy being parents, or if they envy me for not having the constraints on my life they do. There is sometimes a desperation in the criticism of the "childree life" that smacks of jealousy. I get an undercurrent of that from some people, "oh, you can do that because you don't have kids.", "I wish I could go to Ireland for a month!" In some way, that's true. We travel for weeks at a time, and I took a quarter off last year -- something that would be much harder if we had a traditional family. Difference choices -- and the Adorable Husband and I made the choice not to have kids, it's been a different path. Better? That's a judgement I can't make.

Dear Abby (or Ann Landers, I can never remember) once asked if parents would "do it again" and a suprising number admitted that they wouldn't have kids, or would have delayed having children, if they had the change to go back in time. I'm not surprised -- having kids is at once the most rewarding and most frustrating things people can do, I think.

Well. Here's hoping that the two-days-every-three -weeks is the new schedule and that this doesn't drag on for years. Although I have determined that rushing out to the store for an emegency stash of tampons does indeed effectively stop your period. Heh.

Mathematics Fails

We bought a really cool double-bookshelf curio sort of thing last weekend, and the furniture company tried to deliver it today. I say tried, because they were unable to maneuver the enormous thing down the stairs and into our "library".

I'm disappointed, because we measured the thing (and did it twice) and really thought that they'd be able to inch it down the stairs and through the door. Mathematically, it should have fit! With perhaps a quarter-inch to spare. I'll admit, but it should have made it down the staircase and (more importantly) through the door at the bottom). The delivery guys balked. They did try, I have to give them credit, but they got it halfway down the basement stairs and decided that they coudln't do it without gouging something.

Ok, I decided. It can go upstairs (can you tell I really love this piece?). They tried, and despite the fact that I coudl see at least 2" of freespace around them, declared that they couldn't get it UP the stairs either. Without the limitation of a doorway, I figured they could boost itup over the railing. Apparently, they shoudl have sent BIGGER guys. Luckily, the Adorable Husband was home (delivering foam insulation for the wine cellar with the rental truck from Lowe's) or the little guy on the bottom of the stairs would have been squished. But the delivery guyswere insistent -- it an't gonna go.

They could, the lead guy announced, get it upstairs if we didn't have the bookshelves in the landing (if you haven't seen the house, we have a wall-full of 6"-deep shelves in the landing for paperbacks). Ooookay. They wouldn't wait while I cleared out the books and removed hte shelves. They insisted that I reschedule. So, they reloaded the thing on the truck and drove away. I'm not sure if I should be pissed they did that, or grateful that they tried so hard. I opted for grateful, and tipped them 20 bucks for the other stuff they delievered, and the attempts to get this huge beast down and then up the stairs.

Feh. The Adorable Husband and I are in negotiations as to whether we can put this in the sitting area upstairs, or whether we return it and get something else for downstairs. I bet you can guess which side of the that argument I'm on....

Legal Reform?

If this doesn't convince you that we need some sort of legal reform, I give up. I can't imagine that a) any attorney took this case and b) it might actually make it to court. It should be dropped and this guy should be fined to within an inch of his life for proposing such absolutely ridiculous arguments

A man is arguing that being fired for spending time (apparenlty a lot of it) on internet chat sites describing explciit sex acts is discriminatory -- PTSD from Vietnam made him an Internet Sex addict and he shoudl be recognized as having a disability. So firing him is discriminating aginst a disabled person and should be protected under the ADA. He was warned about his behavior, and continued. WTF? Surfing porn on the web might be "protected"?

Hey, I can think of a whole host of things that I could possibly claim as disabilities, so I don't have to take responsbility for my actions and can get the world to revolve around me. What's the attorney's name again?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Protecting what?

Attorney General Launches Initiative to Protect Religious Freedom:The First Freedom Project

"Preserving religious liberty requires an ongoing commitment to protecting this most basic freedom for people of all faiths." --Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales

Call me a cynic, but this has nothing to do with protecting religious freedom, of course. It's all about imposing a specific religious belief on those of us that don't want religion imposed on public life. Its going to allow the favored group -- evangelical religious-right christians, who have dominated political life recently -- to demand all kinds of concessions from employers, teachers, zoning boards etc. This is all about special rights for a religion (and, in the history of this country, a specific religious belief), not about religious freedom.

I don't get it. Who is being prevented from exercising their religious beliefs? Who is being forced to deny their religion? Whose rights have been abridged by any law or behavior of the government?

Apparently the people who think that their religion requires that they force it on others. When they are prevented from making other people follow their specific beliefs, they believe they are being "prevented" from observing it. Sorry. That doesn't match reality.

I understand that I'm generalizing the opinion and actions of a small fringe group. But I can't help feeling that those people claiming that they are being persecuted, that Christianity is somehow threatened by the views of other, aren't living the same world that I am. Do good, and I will fully support you, whether I agree with your beliefs or not. Act like a club-carrying thug and I will try to make sure you're disarmed.

Much of the complaints that I see are because other religions are now getting the same sort of concessions and recognition that have historically been given to the Christian faith in America. Whether you ascribe to the mistaken belief that we are "a Christian nation" by design or not, Christianity has been a cornerstone belief of the US. For the most part, this has been a positive influence. However, we no longer can claim that Christianity has primacy -- the world is a small place nowadays, and people who believe in many other definitions of God abound. If you believe they are all mistaken, that's well and good. They think the same of you, as have most of the people who populated the earth since we climbed down out of the trees. But accepting that the differing beliefs of others should have the same cultural and social treatment is quite a stretch for some people, and is quite threatening to them.

One of my friends tried to explain to me once why 'tolerance' of other religions was dangerous and disengenuous, and I have to admit that I never quite got the argument. Tolerance somehow validates alternate beliefs and weakens the faith of those who go along with it? From my perspective, it's a non-issue. A person of any faith criticizing someone of another faith for having the "wrong beliefs" is quite astounding to me.

I've been reading 'Misquoting Jesus' in the last week or so -- and despite the title, the book is actually not a condemnation of any religous belief or the bible itself, it's a rather long-winded explanation of textual criticism and an explaination of the process of copying and deriving versions of the New Testament and how we know what the "original" looked like, even though we have never seen it. More like "how do we know what we know?" Very interesting. What we believe is so firmly entrenched in what we have been given as resource material, it was interesting to trace how we can trace how that source material has changed from early versions to newer ones and map the general beliefs of any age of Christianity to the influence of the written word. I strongly recommend it.

Woah. That digressed. Sorry!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Radio Ad Missing the Point

Not only is my email filled with offers for things to enlarge anatomical parts I don't have and offers for drugs to keep said anatomy ready-and-waiting for the radio is starting with adds for Viagra and Cialis that are sounding quite a lot like my spam.

On the way to lunch today, I heard an add for Viagra "soft tabs" from some online pharmacy that promises you results in 15 minutes from a reformulated Viagra tab that "dissolves under your tongue."

"Did you know," the ad intones seriously, "that Viagra can take SIXTY to NINETY MINUTES to work?"

All I could think of was that this ad was obviously aimed at men. Me? Well, I think all those Viagra-hungry men should spend that 60-90 minutes doing something useful.

Like foreplay.

An hour and a half before you have an erection? Piffle. Be creative.

Beer Guzzlers

I love The Week magazine. Interesting summary of the week in the world.

This week -- a startling tidbit that 10% of beer drinkers drinkg 43% of the beer consumed. That's a little over a gallon a day.

I have no idea if that's worldwide, just in the US, just in the UK, or what. But stil....Boggle.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Wine tasting fun!

Apparently when I finally get immersed in a project, I forget to update anything! As you can tell, I've been sucked into a new project that involves a complete re-engineering of a 15-year-old application with no documentation, no requirements, and a short timeline.

Actually, I love it. I'm really excited to start the rewrite. Of course, I'm in the process of creating use-cases, process flows, context diagrams, and (hopefully soon) detail design docs). Lots of visio diagrams. I'm having a blast, even if I'm starting to dream about "process enhancements". Ugh.

So, what's been going on?

We went to a really fun, kind of impromptu German wine tasting at a friend's house this weekend. The invitation said" bring a german wine to taste, and german food". Well, the wine was easy -- head to the Boulder Wine Merchant and ask for "something different from Germany", but the german food was a bit of a problem. We all brought lots of sausage. We found German cheese and Bockwurst. Another person brought beer-cheese fondue, and smoked sausage and sauerkraut. I'd forgotten I really like sauerkraut. My mom used to make polska keilbasa and sauerkraut, but I'd forgotten that it was so good.

We all decided that German red wine is...well, disappointing covers it. We brought a Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder) and someone else found a red table wine. We all hated both of them. We also found a "champagne" from Germany -- a sparkling reisling that was the hit of the evening. Everything else was variations of sweet-to-dry Riesling. Good, but definitley not my cup of tea. It was an absolute blast, though. Next month, we're all trying Irish food and beer, in honor of St. Paddy's Day. Our dear friends the LInnemeyers, have been doing this for awhile and invited us!

It's a fun idea -- invite people to bring a wine to taste, bring a dish to share, and enjoy an evening of good food and wine and conviviality. I'm thinking we need to do this a few times a month!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Introducing the Book

If you have ever answered the phone or emails for a helpdesk, you know that some of the problems can be trivial and mind-bendingly weird. And you know how hard it is to be calm, helpful, solicitous, and nice when faced with a user who Just. Doesn't. Get. It.

Ever wonder what it was like before technology? Check out the Norwegian Old Helpdesk.

It's in Norwegian, but don't worry -- you'll get it.

Especially if you've ever had to make a call just like this poor helpdesk technician.

[I found a version with english subtitles, if you'd rather know exactly what they say. We had more fun imagining our own dialog, but....]

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Blogging the Bible

Most people haven't really read the whole Bible -- all the books, chapters, and verses. Most people know the big stories -- the flood, the ten commandments, the sacrifice of Isaac, the story of Joseph, etc. But few of them have read the text themselves.
They have read bits and pieces, or have had bits and pieces "explained" to them by clergy or one of the hundreds of 'how to read the bible' guides. They have things packaged and carefully filtered to teach a specific lesson, or they work through passages with someone else's interpretation to guide them. If you accept things without question, it's much easier, and not many people are interested in digging any deeper. This is a culturally iconic text, and for many centuries, detailed analysis was frowned upon.

So what happens when someone starts at the beginning and reads the whole thing, word by word, without bringing in those preconcieved ideas? Well, David Plotz, and author at Slate magazine, decided to do just that -- and carry everyone along with the process by blogging each book and chapter and his feelings.

It's not a slam on the bible, it doesn't appear to have any hidden agenda at all -- just the reactions of someone who has been a practicing religious person their whole life, but who hadn't ever tried to read the bible on their own. He compares what he reads to the lessons of his childhood and the misconceptions he had about things (for example, that the mark of Cain is actually a mark of favor, not of condemnation), and how some stories are very different than he was taught. It's been interesting to see his experience.

You can read the whole series (still in progress, I think) at Slate Magazine. The set of entries is called Blogging the Bible.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Momentary Brilliance

So, I get this call on Friday morning, my boss asking if I can use OWB (Oracle Warehouse Builder). Well, yeah. I did a huge project using an earlier version of the tool, I could probably figure out the newer one without too much problem. I figured he was looking for some project proposal analysis, or something.

Nope. A new client called with a Serious Production Issue -- they had lost connectivity and were absolutely frantic that htey couldn't do their data loads from ther old system into their data warehouse. Could I come out for a few hours and fix it?

Gaah! I hate that kind of gig. You have to come in, get up to speed, and be a gold-plated expert in two hours or less. There are technologies that I'm perfectly happy to do this for, but Warehouse Builder is not one of them. Not any more. I haven't touched it for a year. The salesperson on the gig had told them that we could send someone "today", but I really wanted a bit of time to refresh myself on the tool.

So I blithely told the client on the phone that I had client responsbilities for the rest of the afternoon and I'd be there first thing Monday morning, without waiting for the sales person to get a word in edgewise. WHile it was a production environment, there was ONE user and she was out. Ha!

In the end, I was there for less than two hours and things were back up and running, and the person I was helping was actually pleased that I'd not come on Friday. If it had been fixed on Friday afternoon, she would have had to work all weekend. I told her this was part of the well-rounded services that TUSC provides.

I got to feel momentarily brilliant, but then I had to go back home and feel inadequate and dense while trying to decipher the code in the application I'm supposed to re-engineer. Sigh.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Color Photos, 1911

Someone posted a link to photos of turn-of-the-century Russia, and at first I thought they were colorized versions of orignal black and white photos. Not so -- the photographer, Prokudin-Gorskii, had figured out how to make colored images from mutiple black and white glass-plate images. He took three distinct photos -- with green, blue, and red filters. He never printed photos in color, of course, but he mimicked the output by projecting the three images onto a screen simultaneously during his lectures.

This photo (from the Empire that was Russia website) is NOT a modern photo. It was taken in 1911. The photo is of the newly ascended Emir of Bukhara and was not "colorized" by modern methods. The website explains how they reproduced the color photos from the glass-plate images, but what I was struck by was the modernity of the images. They look as if they were taken last week, with modern equipment.

They're easier to relate to than black-and-white images, for some reason. There is a liveliness there that you don't usually see in old photograps. I wonder if that's just because we are so programmed to see things in color, and black-and-white photos (especially old photos) are seen as 'unreal'.

You can see the rest of the photos on the website -- the architecture photos are particularly striking, as if the explanation of how they do it.

$4300 a square foot

And we complain about real estate prices? Ouch. Apparently, the Chelsea area in London is one of the most expensive places to own property on earth. The average asking price for a house is 1.1 million pounds (about 2.2 million) in this ritzy area. That's appalling enough, until you realize the sorts of places that are for sale in Chelsea.

A janitor's storeroom in an existing housing block was just listed for 170,000 pounds ($331,000). It is 7 x 11 feet -- about the size of a closet. It has a cupboard for a shower, and a tiny kitchenette -- or it will, after the new owners shell out another $50K to add electricity and proper plumbing and clear out the rubble that fills the tiny room.

Even the estate agent selling the property admitted the flat was "incredibly depressing".

"We have to go in with a torch because the lights do not work and it is full of rubble," Jason North, associate director at Lane Fox.

Nevertheless, the flat is expected to attract buyers due to its close proximity to the fashionable bars, shops and leisure facilities of Kensington and Chelsea.

The article goes on to note that it might be one of the few affordable places in the area, if you don't mind living in a windowless room that's actually a bit smaller than a maximum security cell in prison.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Vista Gotchas

I've been running the beta for Windows Vista as a dual-boot on my work machine -- it's a lovely operating system, seems to have been pretty stable, and adds in a lot of functionality. Like other recent versions, though, it tends to "dumb down" some of the security and network stuff. For the most part, this is good, I guess; but annoying the user to manage security because Windows has such a horrible history of dealing with it is perhaps not the best solution. I don't want it making decisions -- MS has proven in the past that it can't make good ones.

I will probably move to Vista permanently on my work machine, but only after the first service patch is released (I really don't want to be one of the first adopters on this one). But I read something recently hat made me rethink my possible change to my home machine and laptop:

From the BBC -- the fine print in the new version of Windows grants Microsoft the right to delete whatever it wants to from your computer, and there's nothing you can do about it:

Vista's legal fine print includes extensive provisions granting Microsoft the right to regularly check the legitimacy of the software and holds the prospect of deleting certain programs without the user's knowledge...Vista also incorporates Windows Defender, a security program that actively scans computers for "spyware, adware, and other potentially unwanted software". The agreement does not define any of these terms, leaving it to Microsoft to determine what constitutes unwanted software... even though that may result in other software ceasing to work or mistakenly result in the removal of software that is not unwanted...

For those users frustrated by the software's limitations, Microsoft cautions that "you may not work around any technical limitations in the software"...

Well, yes, Microsoft, I can work around the technical limitation and monumental invasion of privacy that your license suggests: I can not upgrade, or I can swap out to another operating system, such as Linux or move to a Mac. Perhaps Microsoft might want to think about that before deciding to "manage" my computer for me.

Subway Model

I ran across this while surfing aimlessly -- the US Interstate system as a subway-type model. Interesting.
You can see a much larger version here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Kiss of Death

There's a running joke in the more leftist forums I hang out in (although, how can I call it a joke when it has such far-reaching and disappointing results) that if Bush starts touting some program or congratulating some group, in a few days, he'll cut funding for it.

More disturbing to me -- and part and parcel of politics in general -- is the adminstration's knack for getting a ton of positive attention and credit for talking about making the right choices and funding/unfunding the right things, but when it comes to enacting the change, they quietly and without any fanfare, don't do it. But everyone remembers that they talked about doing it, so everyone also remembers that it somehow happened, even if it didn't. If you don't pay attention to page 42 of the paper below the fold, you never know that the much lauded plan to do X was cut. A prime example of standing ovations and applause for education:
“Bush’s proposal to increase the maximum Pell Grant for lower-income undergraduate students was greeted with fanfare when it was announced last week.
But his FY08 budget released Monday contains no new money to pay for it,” CongressDaily reports. [ThinkProgress]

Or this, which got a ton of attention in Bush's new push for a healthy populace:
To fight childhood obesity, Mr. Bush asks Congress to set aside $17 million for a new program to promote ‘healthy behavior’ among adolescents. But at the same time, he asks Congress to eliminate the preventive health services block grant, which provides $99 million a year to help states prevent obesity and other chronic conditions. [NY Times]

It happens all the time (and to be fair, Bush isn't the only one who has a history of this) but it's damn frustrating and hard to keep track of. I'm still searching for a website that lists all these popular programs and statements about them -- adn the real, concrete actions that were taken, good or bad. I haven't found it yet.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Truer Words Never Written

I saw a tagline/signature line that made me laugh out loud:
I am fairly sure that if they took porn off the internet, there would only be
one website left, and it would be called "Bring Back the Porn."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Football Alternative

I can't say I'm a football fan, and even though I like the commercials during the superbowl, they're usually not enough to get me to sit and watch four or five hours of football.

Instead, might I recommend The Puppy Bowl, on Animal Planet. Four hours of cute puppies playing. That's it. Just puppies. For four hours! I spent most of my afternoon working with the Puppy Bowl on tv. I'm a complete sucker for cute puppies.

Of course, I need a Samoyed puppy. Now. Maybe three.


Bush has been touting his "surge" option, and reiterating his commitment to his currentplan in Iraq and, apparently, his inability to recognize that things need to change. He tends to be relatively tone-deaf, and repeated the same arguments when speaking to the house Democrats during their annual retreat. But...

Later, in a question-and-answer session that was closed to the public, Democrats questioned Bush about the war. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters afterward, "The president really stood his ground on Iraq" during the session.

Asked if she was disappointed by his stance, she replied, "Disappointment is attached to expectation. . . . I knew what to expect." TimeRichmond


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Winter Social Life

When it gets cold, and dark at 4pm, everyone out here in Sunny Colorado starts to hibernate. It happens in all cold states during winter -- we don't leave the house, we stop talking to people, we basically hide out until spring.

Not entirely, but everyone who has snow knows the drill. I can't wait for the warm spring nights so we can hang out on our porch, have a glass of wine, and enjoy the company of our lovely neighbors as they wander by. Neary every night in summer, someone on the culdesac is hanging out on their front porch and we all end up there.

Our neighbors invited us to dinner at a new Italian place in Niwot -- Treppeda's --great place, and we broke ouf of the mold this weekend, and actually socialized! Whoohoo! Since we still have two feet of snow in our front yard, and at least 6" of ice on the roads in our part of the neighborhood, we're feeling very adventurous!

Having good neighbors is such a huge blessing. We've lucked out entirely -- our culdesac turns out in force to snowblow and clear the driveways, we hang out on summer weekends, and in general we have a great bunch of people. I've never understood people who don't know their neighbors, or prefer to have a six-foot privacy fence between them and anyone who might possibly see them in their backyard. I like knowing that I can borrow a cup of sugar from any of my neighbors, and that they feel comfortable asking to borrow any of the Adorable Husband's vast collection of tools. It makes me feel part of a community, not just like I happen to own a house somewhere.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Harry Potter VII

So, have you pre-ordered yet? Amazon sent out emails this morning to order the last Harry Potter book (released in July) -- and it's already the #1 book on Amazon. Actually, it's number 1 and number 2 -- the deluxe edition comes in a close second.

There were roughtly 1.5 million pre-orders at Amazon of the Half-Blood Prince, the previous book, and Amazon fully expects that the last book will outstrip even that. Half-Blood Prince was also notable for selling 6.9 million copies the first day it was released (worldwide) and having the largest initial printing of any book. It looks like the last book will do even better. today announced that in just the first seven hours of pre-order availability for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" the online retailer has sold over 200 percent more books than it did the entire first day of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" the sixth book in the series. In fact, sales on in the first seven hours today have eclipsed total sales for the entire first two days of the sixth book. [dmn newswire]

That means three million or more pre-orders. Just at Amazon.