Sunday, March 29, 2009

Resume basics

How the HR department views your resume VS how a programmer views your resume.

I laughed that it was -15 points for "uses a combination of tabs and spaces to indent sections". It's something that I have actually complained about in a code review.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Apt Summation

I ran across this on Pharyngula today. I think it explains the problem between believers and non-believers perfectly. (This is an actual church sign, not one generated online.)

"Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has"

What does that mean? That believers should avoid thinking about their beliefs? Never question them, never consider what they believe? That's a clear advertisement for a closed mind, if I have ever seen one. Can't apply rational thought to religion, oh, no - that would result in...what? Well, probably a few people leaving their belief behind. If you apply reason and logic and rational though to religious belief, it doesn't often remain unchanged.

I don't think I would be capable of living my life like that. I really can't just accept and believe in something without thinking about it, without applying rational thought and a skeptical mind to it. If you tell me something is true, I'm going to ask you why. If you tell me you know the meaning of something, I'm going to ask you how. If you can't give me something concrete to work with, I'm not going to just blindly accept things. And as I learn more and read more and as more information becomes available, I'm going to re-evalute things -- a definite no-no to many religious thinkers.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Unable to resist

The Adorable Husband was unable to resist the lure of fresh powder, and rousted himself out of bed this morning at 5 to to skiing. He said the drive was very slow, with all the snow from yesterday, but the skiing is niiiiiice.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

For those NOT in Colorado..

Last week, we had at least one day of 80 degrees. It was GORGEOUS. Perfect days, blue skies, all the lilac bushes and trees are budding out.

Today? We've already got about 6 inches of snow on the ground, and there is a BLIZZARD WARNING for the Denver Metro area until tomorrow. The snow is coming down in buckets.

It's pretty, but it's certainly a big change from last week!

Unclear on the concept


Monday, March 23, 2009

And the Food, Richard!

This might be the funniest complaint letter I've ever read. I can just imagine this poor passenger, hungry and hugely bored, writing the letter describing the "award winning food".
You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in: [see image 2, above]
Read the rest here. I was snorting in a most unladylike fashion.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Sparkle is Chagrined

The Twilight DVD is released today. Yes, I've read the whole series (and enjoyed it as rather light fluff, fun, but not terribly filling; the helpless-woman-with-too-perfect-stalker themes are a bit too much, of course, but it apparently appeals to the millions of teen girls who have totally immersed themselves in the sparkly vampire genre, but I digress).

Let's be honest, these are not going to win literary awards, but they are readable. But, if you were as annoyed by the too-perfect-isn't-he-beautiful vocabulary, I have a fun blog entry for you: I want to beat Edward Cullen with a Stick. It's great snark.

Monday, March 16, 2009


This is what happens when you send one nephew (age 8) out to take snowboard lessons with one uncle (age 40+) for an entire day:

Get up at 6am, drive to Copper Mountain, take a half-day snowboard lesson, and practice the rest of the day. Apparently he was in the car about 10 minutes and then crashed completely and didn't wake up until they pulled into the garage. We're pretty sure he drooled.


Peter wants to learn to snowboard, so the Adorable Husband is taking him up to Copper Mountain for lessons -- by himself. A whole day, just "the boys". After several instructions (including "make sure to feed him") they were off at 7am with boots, snowpants, and a couple of ipods.

Nin is only a little nervous about Peter. She's actually quite nervous that Mark has bitten off more than he can chew with an eight-year-old all day long. Admittedly, we do end up pretty exhausted after a week of hosting them (wow, an 8-year-old kid has a lot of energy), but I'm not worried. They get along great, Mark has to eat at least as often as Peter does, and I'm sure they'll have a lot of fun. Nin is not so sure. I figure the worst case scenario is that they both come home this afternoon and fall asleep immediately.

We spent the day running around looking for a lamp for the living room (which we found!), having lunch, and wandering around home stores. Then we went and had pedicures at the spa. It was a lovely day. We rarely get to spend any time together without Peter, so thank you, Uncle Mark!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

1.7 kids

Family sizes have been shrinking steadily for decades - the number of children in an "average" family is less than 2 nowadays in the US. This is definitely borne out by the number of families I know personally with 1 child, some with 2, a rare few with three kids. Most of my friends have two children.

I have to admit that it's become so much the norm that seeing a family with more than 2 kids usually warrants a second glance. It's not often you see a family with four kids out at the mall, or five or more kids in a single family anymore. I'm likely to try to rationalize a couple with four or five kids along as obviously having taken some of the neighbor kids on their outing, too.

I think this is a good thing, by the way. I'm not advocating for zero birth rate, but zero population growth isn't a bad thing. We need to get a better handle on resource usage and eliminate the social problems that overpopulation (usually hand-in-hand with poverty) cause.

But that's not really the topic of this post. With the average household size somewhere less than 3 people, why on earth do television ads regularly show families with three or four kids? Case in point: the Mirena ad I just saw on television. (Actually, this is probably a bad example, in a family of five kids, I surely hope that you are contemplating some sort of birth control!).

The ad says that if you don't want any more children, that you should consider Mirena as your option (it's a new form of IUD). The only thing I can think when I see the ad is, "well, duh! You have five kids, you should have your tubes tied and stop!" I'm sure their actual target customer demographic has one, possibly two kids, so the large family in the ad seems out of sorts. Is it supposed to be a nostaligic nod to larger families? Is it supposed to imply that you don't need this IUD is you don't have a huge family already? Is the "mythical family" still mom, dad, four kids and a dog? It hasn't been like that for almost 50 years.

The big family in the ad is just so incongruous with the message that reliable, easy birth control is accessible that I have to think that the ad-people who came up with it are living under rocks and don't have any clue what real American demographics look like.

Housing Decline

The Chicago Tribune reported that the median price of a home sold in Detroit in Dec 2008 was $7,500.

Seven thousand five hundred. Less than most used cars.

Remember that median is simply the middle number in the series when they are arranged in numeric order, it's not the average price. If only three houses sold, one for 1K, 1 for $7,500, and 1 for $100K then the median is still 7500 -- so it's possible that half a dozen houses sold and most of them were dilapidated crack houses, but still! That's a pretty frightening number.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

From Illinois, via Swisspost

I ordered a couple of books through Alibris (wonderful used-bookstore consolidation site), all three shipped from a bookseller in Illinois. Or so I thought.

I was beginning to get a bit worried about the shipment (I ordered a month ago) and they showed up today. I now know why they took so long -- they apparently shipped from Switzerland. I have no idea why (perhaps because the local bookshop didn't really have them?).

They came in a giant white tyvek bag with all sorts of official-looking government tags and plastic locks on it. It was pretty funny.

Wrong again

Why must everyone opposed to stem cell research on religious grounds dredge up the "evolution = eugenics" canard? It's wrong, and makes them sound like manipulative idiots. Eugenics is not part of the "agenda" for non-theists, nor is genocide, murder, or any of the other things that the right-wing talking heads like to spout off about. The eugenics movement was a tragic misuse of the ideas behind genetics -- an idea, by the way, that was supported wholeheartedly by many churches in America (most notably Methodists, who are going to apologize for it) and preached from the pulpit, so let's not pin the entire sordid affair on the "Evil Atheists", shall we?

Almost as bad as the gentleman braying that stem cell research is "killing bay-bees! Killing them!' as if researchers were out poaching them from daycare playgrounds and leaving behind a exsanguinated corpse. Wrong and stupid and misleading, and intended to rile up the people who don't know anything about science or research or stem cells. Oh, but it makes a great sound-bite, I guess.

Science is not evil or good. Evolution is not evil or good, just like gravity is neither evil nor good. There is no moral weight on either side -- it's the use of these ideas that can be applied for good or for evil. Religion is the same way - it can be used for good or evil, depending on who is wielding the righteous sword.

It's getting tiring having to continually point that out.

My father has advanced Parkinsons. Stem cell research probably won't make enough advances to help him, but it might save someone else from having that slow, downward slide.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Solving our Problems with Technology

Every year we have the about when to remove the enormous down comforter from the bed and replace it with a lighter quilt. We seem to have two modes: poofy mattress pad, flannel sheets, blanket, down comforter (ie, HOT) and thin mattress pad, flannel sheets, quilt (COOLER).

I tend to get overheated while sleeping, but the Adorable Husband gets cold easily. (I think that's just about opposite of most people) and he wants to keep the down comforter on the bed months after I am pleading to sleep with the windows wide open and just a blanket. We often resort to folding the comforter over him doubled, and I'm fine -- except then there's this enormous mountain of down in the bed that threatens to swallow me whole! Or, he wears several layers of clothes to bed (mock turtleneck and sweatshirt, and sweatpants. Eek!

So I suggested getting a heated mattress pad, so we could use a light quilt and he'd still be warm. He pooh-poohed the idea and assured me that it wasn't going to work.

Hah! We got a dual-control heated pad with preheat, and now he is snoozing comfortably on his side of the bed with the heat set to "toasty" and I have my nice cool side of the bed with just the quilt over both of us. I think we've both slept better in the last two days since we put the thing on the bed, than we have in the last few weeks, what with the warmer temps and down issues.

I will probably never use the heater on my side, but that's fine! If having the bed warmed for a few weeks in the "inbetween" period where we transition from cold-winter-freezing and summer-hot, well, I'm happy!

Solving our problems with technology once again!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Canine Dentistry

We took Uulaq in for her "old dog" checkup this year -- she's nearing 12 and it's time to start checking everything at least once a year to make sure she's doing ok. If she was human, she'd be somewhere well past 90 by now, and she's surprisingly spry.

Upped the dosage of her anti-inflammatories to combat her arthritis, and did all the bloodwoord (which is absolutely normal and fine) and discovered that she has a broken tooth. Cracked a whole third of a molar off and it's just hanging there, wobbling, and has to hurt like hell. We figure she had to have done it chewing on the hard nylabones we have at home. We changed from the original (slightly softer) Nylabones becuase Berit can just bite pieces off of them(!) - she sits and shaves off 1/4" slices and leaves them all over my office. Uulaq just chews on them, but apparently with enough force to actually crack her teeth. Eep!

So, in on Monday for surgery to remove the tooth. That's pretty much the solution for any doggy dentistry, as far as I can tell. Cracked or broken teeth aren't capped or anything, they just pull them out. Maesc had a few small front teeth pulled out when he was older, and Rukh had a dead nerve in one of his fangs, caused by bashing the tooth on something hard. We didn't pull that one, but only because it was still in place and fine.

Hopefully they'll give her some good dog-vicodin - getting teeth pulled hurts. But she should be back to eating regular food in a few days. Poor beastie!

Elves with Grappling Hooks

Picked up in Pharyngula this week: Ray Comfort -- the guy who idiotically preaches that bananas are proof of god's existence (and is pretty much a pariah even in creationist circles)--has a new book out bashing atheists and evolution and science and whatever else he figures isn't godly. He's quite convinced that there is a huge conspiracy to ensure that his book gets bad reviews...he never seems to comprehend that his book gets bad reviews because he's a class A idiot and his book sucks, but there you go.

Here is a sample of his 'reasoning"
I simply expose atheistic evolution for the unscientific fairy tale that it is, and I do it with common logic. I ask questions about where the female came from for each species. Every male dog, cat, horse, elephant, giraffe, fish and bird had to have coincidentally evolved with a female alongside it (over billions of years) with fully evolved compatible reproductive parts and a desire to mate, otherwise the species couldn't keep going. Evolution has no explanation for the female for every species in creation.
There is so much wrong with his line of 'argument' that I don't even know where to begin. It's just jaw-droppingly stupid (and he wonders why rational, intelligent people are panning his book? Wow).

He apparently thinks that since he doesn't understand evolutionary biology, that it must be wrong. He has absolutely no idea what evolution is and does, no idea about biology, and even less of an idea about common logic. He apparently thinks that females are a distinct species from males, I guess. A few people might agree, but that's not based in biology. Yes, the theory does explain this, there is no coincidence about it - a mutant male dog does not suddenly arise from a population and have to find a mutant female dog -- they evolve from existing species which have male and female; this is trivial, noncontroversial, and well-established. To question it shows a lack of understanding of basic facts and aggressive ignorance of the fact that this has been explained over and over. I don't understand specifically how magnets work, for example, but that really does keep me from blathering on about how it's really little tiny elves with grappling hooks that keep papers stuck to my refrigerator. If someone suggested that, we'd all laugh them out of the room.

And to think, thousands of people listen to this drivel and think it's correct and logical. This is marketed to the ignorant and the fanatical believers to keep the "controversy" boiling away. No wonder we have ongoing issues with science and religion in the classroom. A persuasive voice and charismatic manner do not equal intelligence and truth. We should know that by now.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Have Briefcase, Will Grade

I talked to my sister today, who related this story about my nephew, Peter. He was in yesterday to get new glasses (apparently he is very, very farsighted) and when they went to pick out frames, he passed on the thin metal frames that all the other kids are wearing, instead opting for Buddy Holly-style black glasses, because "only nerds wear those other glasses". Definitely has a sense of style, the boy does.

He's taken to carrying a briefcase to school, and wearing a brimmed hat to school as well. Did I say style? Well, maybe "style" is not quite the right descriptor...but second graders are a weird lot.

Anyway, today while the class was doing something else, he sat at his desk, and wrote out a page of "homework questions". Then, he asked for a hall pass, snuck into the library and made 22 copies to hand out to the other kids in class. At the end of the day, he collected them and brought them home "to grade"

This is the point where my sister discovered what he'd done. He sat down, all business-like at the kitchen table, with a red pen and smiley-stickers, and graded the work that he had made up and passed out to his class. Which they apparently had actually done!

Not only did he write the page (with questions such as "who was the second president?" and some fractions questions, he graded them at home and will probably try to hand them back out tomorrow!

Kids is weird.


The Adorable Husband laughs that whenever I get bored, I redesign the interface of the website, and I think he's right. I got tired of all the green and redid the main index pages and navigation on, as wel as cleaning up a whole bunch of links.

Still doing some cleanup - I noticed some bad links in the pharaoh site and some missing sections, and added some placeholders for things, too.

See? This is what happens when I have long evenings to myself and a brand new version of Dreamweaver! Hah!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Google Timelines

Discovered an interesting thing on Google (which is, as far as I can tell, omniscient) -- when you search for things with some historical relevance, there is often a link to a time line included.

I have no idea how it works, and of course the dates are pulled directly from websites and could be all over the place, but it's pretty neat. It's part of the Google Archive Search.

Here's one for Caerlaverock Castle, and another for the Lincoln Monument. Hey! They've got Erie, too.

Speyside Whiskey Festival

Score! The Speyside Whiskey Festival in Scotland is the first two weeks of May. Distilleries that aren't normally open to the public will be open for tours and testings, special whiskey tasting sessions, dinners, and all sorts of fun things going on.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Brain Differences Found Between Believers In God And Non-believers
"You could think of this part of the brain like a cortical alarm bell that rings when an individual has just made a mistake or experiences uncertainty," says lead author Inzlicht, who teaches and conducts research at the University of Toronto Scarborough. "We found that religious people or even people who simply believe in the existence of God show significantly less brain activity in relation to their own errors. They're much less anxious and feel less stressed when they have made an error."
Well, that's interesting. I suppose we could take it a couple ways --as a positive side-effect of belief, letting believers be calmer or less prone to anxiety, and as a negative one which lets them "off the hook" when they make mistakes and thus less likely to be concerned about them or contemplate the consequences of errors. In some places this could be great - making a mistake while cooking dinner or mispronouncing a word aren't going to impact anything, but making a mistake while balancing your checkbook or performing surgery could be disastrous.

If you don't experience anxiety and don't do some introspection when you make an error you will probably make the mistake again and you probably aren't going to make any necessary changes to your behavior. It is also interesting to note that people who have less anxiety tend to make fewer mistakes (well, that's kind of a doh!, isn't it). Of course, crippling anxiety and fear of making mistakes would be just as bad. Off to see if the whole study is available....

You can't read too much into these studies -they tend to be flawed, but I never even realized that we have an "uh-oh!" switch that goes off when we make a mistake or are in a situation where we could make mistakes. That's what that frisson of nerves is!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I'm packed!

...and so far, have nowhere to go.

I got all revved up for a new customer gig in Salt Lake City, which everyone assured me would start on the 9th and oh, we'd better move quickly on this one!

And nothing. They're still waiting for the contract stuff to come back. I sent an email to the person coordinating this and haven't heard a peep. Bah.

They keep saying it might start "later in the week", and all I can say is, well, I already told you I'd be off on vacation the 13th-18th, since my sister is coming with her son for Spring Break. Hah!

Don't get me wrong, I'm making very good use of the time at home without a current client (going over technical docs, reading through the new technology releases, etc), but I get very anxious when they keep telling me something is "just over the horizon"

Sunday, March 01, 2009

New Software

Eh, sorry I've been a little flaky lately. I've been working on getting the website updated with all the stuff from Ireland (yea, I know, it's been a couple of years....) before we go on the next trip and realized that it was time to upgrade my ancient version of Dreamweaver.

I've been trying to come up to speed on the new version (five years of changes cover quite a bit of ground, in a technical tool) and so I've been a bit distracted!


Our fabulous neighbors asked us to come with them to Frasca, a very highly-regarded northern Italian restaurant in Boulder. It's gotten tons of great reviews, and it's been on our list of 'places to go' for quite awhile.

I can definitely recommend it. Loved the food, the place was absolutely packed (they have two tables that are for walk ins, everything else is booked months in advance, apparently) and the food was great. It's a four-course menu, small portions, fresh ingredients...yum! I had a lamb cutlet, risotto and egg, and sea bass. The Adorable Husband had duck ravioli and grilled sirloin. You can see the current menu linked from the site - it changes from week to week, with major changes seasonally.

Definitely a 'special occasion' restaurant, and a wee bit pricey, though. The wine list is more like a wine catalog, and they serve fresh cut proscuitto, speck, and salame from a salumi bar. Fun!