Tuesday, December 27, 2005

PA interlude

It's been a nice visit here in Pittsburgh. I hadn't been visited my mother-in-law for a couple of years, so this was the first time staying with her as a married couple. In past years, my husband would sleep on the twin bed in his old room and I would stay in his sister's old room. That would have been a little strange this year. Fortunately, in the intervening time, his mother has turned his old room into a guest bedroom, complete with a nice queen bed. This room also has her computer desk, so I'm able to take advantage of that during a quiet moment (like right now).

My husband is down in the garage, helping his sister clean out her car. She is resolving to quit smoking this year, and thinks having a nice fresh car will help reduce the temptation to light up there.

My mother-in-law gave everyone beginner bridge books, so we've been trying to learn how to play. I never picked up that particular card game, although I did play assorted others in college. I'm not that fond of card games with partners, since having someone else depending on me means that I actually have to pay attention to the game. We'll see how it goes. My husband has mentioned wanting to play this game for quite some time, so I'll try to be interested, at least while I'm here.

A couple of people gave us gift cards for Christmas, so my husband, my sister-in-law, and I went shopping this afternoon. My husband spent most of the time napping in a chair with our coats while his sister and I tried on many pairs of pants. It was annoying, but I managed to get two promising pairs of pants out of the ordeal, and my sister-in-law found three pairs of jeans.

It has been a pleasant visit here. Tomorrow afternoon with fly off to Indiana, stage two of the 2005 Holiday Tour. I hope I can fit all this stuff back in my luggage!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Whirlwind Holiday tour.

I am up way too early on a Saturday so we can get to the airport on time. I hate packing, but I think I managed to get my stuff together without going too crazy last night. (My husband may beg to differ on that.)

We're going to visit my husband's family for Christmas itself, and then see my family a few days later and return home after New Year's Day. This is going to be intense.

Anyway, if I don't get a chance to update again for a while (I imagine I'll be able to get online at least once), Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Season's Greetings!

Time to see if I can fit a little more yarn in my suitcase. (I have a gift to finish on the plane.)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hi Matt!

My friend Matt has just discovered that I link to him, although he was a little confused at first. Gee, Matt, I thought I told you about this nickname when we were in grad school.

I find it amusing that he found me via the BlogShares page for his blog, and I found BlogShares while Googling for him. (The BlogShares site showed up on the first page several links below the blog itself.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Howard Tayler on Evolution and Intelligent Design

Howard Tayler wrote:
"I believe that eventually our science will be good enough that we can explain to God how we think He did it, and He'll say 'Great job! You get an A! It would have been an A+, but you left 'Dark Energy' in place as a fudge factor. Now here's a nebula full of hydrogen. Show Me what you can build.' Until then, however, I'm not going to use the book of Genesis as a template for a scientific theory. The answers may be in The Book, but we're expected to show our work. That's the only way that we can enjoy the fruits of DOING the work."
I recommend reading the whole essay. I get tired of people setting up a false dichotomy between science and faith, but am a little too lazy to write about it myself. (That's what linking to other people is for! *grin*)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Shopping near Christmas

We're about to brave the mall (or at least the bookstore attached to it) to buy a few gifts for my husband's family. I'm not much of a shopper to begin with, and near Christmas it is just insane. This past weekend I set foot in the Kmart down the street (I needed a new band for my watch.) and nearly ran right back out again without my purchase. It was somewhat crowded, true, but what really got to me was the general frenzied vibe everyone in the store was giving off. I can't believe some people actually enjoy that sort of shopping.

GeoURL lets us find our neighbors

Of course, it is dependent on other web authors self-reporting their locations as well, but I can get a list of other websites close to me in the real world. I'm not sure if this is particularly useful information, but it was diverting for a few minutes.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Family Socks update

I talked to my sister this weekend and confirmed that she got the socks and blanket. She was especially thrilled to hear that everything was machine washable, which is particularly important when you have a infant.

My mom emailed me some more recent photos of my niece. Very cute! She's only six weeks old and already hamming it up for the camera. My new desktop wallpaper features a particularly devious grin. How can a baby look devious? I don't know, but that's how it struck me.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Hmm, I could knit that...

It's a baby Viking hat! Cute!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Socks on the line

Gee, can you tell I like to knit? I just had to snap a picture of the socks drying. From left to right, my pair of hiking socks (knit from the Country Socks pattern in Nancy Bush's Folk Socks book), my husband's red hiking socks adapted from the same pattern, two pairs of my husbands socks knit from self-striping yarn, three pairs of my socks knit from self-striping yarn, my husband's green hiking socks (What can I say? He likes that pattern.), my blue denim socks, and my favorite pair of green self-striping socks. This isn't even all the hand knit socks we have!

Family Socks

As promised, pictures of last weeks package. Even before my niece was born, I had a idea for a family set of socks. I didn't want them to be exactly the same, so I varied where I started the striping pattern to give them different colored heels. To make it even easier to tell the adult socks apart, I put initials on the heels for my sister and her husband. After scaling down the socks for the baby, I decided that they were probably still too large for an infant and whipped out a coordinating pair of booties. My little niece will be able to match her parents for quite a while. The yarn was all Jawoll sock yarn, I think. There might have been a bit of Blauband in there, too. (My local yarn store keeps them on the same shelf.) The pattern was my own. I found charts for the letters in my Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework.

I also made a little hat with earflaps with some of the yarn I had left from the shower this summer. The earflaps tend to curl a bit, so I'm not sure how well it will actually fit. The pattern was adapted from an adult version I found in an old issue of Knitter's magazine.

Everything is displayed on a big garter-stitch square baby blanket/shawl/whatever knit from a bit skein of a synthetic boucle yarn that I impulse-bought at Joann's Fabric. I can't remember what it was called, just that it was a Joann's brand. Sensations? Rainbow Boucle? Whatever it was, anything more complicated than garter stitch would have been pretty much wasted on it.

Socks for Mom

I made this pair of socks using Cascade Fixation yarn and a pattern from Interweave Knits. The cables in the ribbing don't show up very well in the picture, but otherwise I'm fairly satisfied with them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


We woke up to snow this morning. It was rather exciting since we don't get it down in the valley very often. Oddly enough, it felt warmer today than it had for several days before. The snow was pretty much gone except for in the shadows by lunchtime (I haven't gone out and looked since then).

I'm all alone in my office now. My former officemate transferred to another department and his stuff was finally moved this week. Now I'll actually have to go down the hall to find a lunch companion. Of course, with the way they've been moving us out of the building, I may have to resort to email before long.

On Saturday, I finally mailed the package that has been sitting in my living room for weeks now. My sibling should be receiving a family set of socks soon. In fact, the Postal Service claims they tried to deliver it and left a notice (fun with confirmation numbers and the postal service website. Did you know that Google also works?). Considering that the address was a post office box, I guess that means they'll be able to get it the next time they go down there for their mail. I took some pictures before mailing it, so I'll try to remember to post those soon.

I'm still at the office, using work equipment for personal purposes. :) As soon as I get home, my husband and I are going out for Indian food. Mmm... Indian food...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I can't breathe

My husband and I were cooking a recipe tonight that involved toasting some spices to bring out the flavour. A word of advice: Don't inhale the fumes released by toasting red pepper flakes. They'll get into your throat and lungs and make you cough, sneeze, and wheeze for a long time. Coughing without inhaling properly will make you light-headed. If the recipe suggests turning on the exhaust fan, do not breathe deeply. You will regret it.

Sad news

My mother called today and told me that my cousin has died from a heart attack. He was only thirty-four years old. It's a shock. He has a wife and a young son. He seemed quite healthy when I saw him last summer at the family reunion. So young to die. His family has been through a lot. His father died this year, as well. I really don't know what to think. After Mom told me this morning, I spent a good while just being held by my husband. It wasn't as if I was exceptionally close to my cousin, but he was always there at big family gatherings. I remember this past year people joking about his son being a little "Mini-Me" for him. I never would have expected him to die so young. If anyone in his family were to die, I would have expected his brother in the military serving overseas, not him. Why did he die so young? He isn't that much older than me. I remember playing with him and his younger brother when I was a kid.

When Mom left a message this morning saying she had soon bad news, I was fearing that my grandmother, or my great-aunt, or my father, or possibly even my little niece had something happen. I didn't expect a cousin to be struck down in the prime of his life. I really don't know what to think about this.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Amazing Knitting

Debbie New's work is mind-boggling. I've seen her knit boat in the back of A Gathering of Lace and it is clearly not a lone impressive project. I am going to have to read her book, Unexpected Knitting a soon as I can get my hands on a copy.

I found both the site linked above and the site from my previous entry in this blog entry on geek knitting. Of course, I ran across that site while googling for a cabled alphabet pattern, which I fear does not exist on the web. I know that [info]dragoncrafter has done some cabled runes, so I might resort to asking if she has done a standard alphabet as well. If not, her tutorial on designing cabled trees may provide me with enough guidance to chart my own. Of course, I could always just give up and make letters with seed stitch or some other texture, but that wouldn't be nearly as challenging.

By the way, both Debbie New and Horst Schultz (the guy who designed that block pattern) have books available at Schoolhouse Press.

Anybody out there read German?

I think I can figure out what is going on in this clever tumbling block pattern, but it would be nice to be able to read the text. I was vaguely contemplating something similar recently, and now I have some pictures to inspire me. I'm thinking it would be great for a stash-busting afghan.

The buzz is back!

I actually went to the meeting this morning without any caffeine, but by early afternoon I gave in and had a Diet Pepsi. At least I have proven I can still go without it for a while.

I think I've figured out why my current task at work is annoying me so. Much of what I do involves thinking about the problem at a fairly high level, possibly while taking a walk, and then implementing the solution I have devised. Lately, I'm working on a script to extract information from database tables and reconfigure it into a more hierarchical structure. This requires enough thought that I can't just automate it, but it isn't really mentally challenging, so I find my mind wandering and I get distracted by things I wouldn't notice if I were deep in a code fugue. I'm just going to have to force myself to slog through it, no matter how tedious and painful I find it to be. *sigh*

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Anti-teenager device

A fellow in Wales has invented a device that emits a high-pitched noise to stop teenagers from loitering in front of stores. Since our hearing deteriorates with age, few shoppers over 30 can even hear the sound at all. I have to admit it is a clever concept, but given how much high-pitched noises can bother me, I can't really say I would be in favor of it coming into common use. Besides, small children out with their parents would probably hear the noise even better than teenagers. Think of the children, man!

My eyes are blurring...

Staring at a diagram of database tables filled with cryptic acronyms is about to make me go bonkers. Why on earth did they feel the name to abbreviate everything? I'll be glad when I finish writing the script to extract the information I need and can leave this all behind me.

On the no soda front, I was still good today, so it has been a full week since I had any caffeine. Yay! This week off broke a long trend of never going for more than a day without caffeine, so I'm feeling pretty good about it. As for tomorrow, I have a department meeting first thing in the morning, so I think I'll allow myself a little pick-me-up without feeling guilty. Of course, if I manage to get up and moving without any, all the better.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Still doing without

Maybe it is just that the days are getting shorter and I feel out of it from lack of light, but I'm missing my caffeine! At least I'm not getting a killer headache or anything, I just miss the habit. I had juice this morning, that seemed to help with the craving for a sweet beverage.

Monday, November 28, 2005


I forgot to mention in my earlier entry, I was talking to my husband yesterday and commented that the lack of caffeine was making me feel a bit groggy. His response? "Oh, you mean you feel normal?" Ah yes, I spend so much of my time hopped up on caffeine and sugar that I don't even recognize normal anymore.

In my defense, I was probably a bit tired from the previous day's travel and we were just having a lazy Sunday, so it isn't as if I had a reason to be alert. Today, on the other hand, had been a little more difficult. I think I'm craving the sugar more than the caffeine, actually. I've been good so far, and am drinking water.

Going cold turkey

So, over the holiday break I didn't have any caffeine at all. I'm trying to hold off again now that the work week has started, but I'm getting twitchy. I'm not suffering from a big headache or anything, I'm just accustomed to having my can of Citrus Drop every morning as I head to work. I think I'd like to go a week without it, just to prove to myself that I'm not horribly addicted. I'll let myself have some Thursday, since I have a morning meeting then.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Countdown to Turkey Day

This year we are going to spend Thanksgiving with my father-in-law and his family. I don't really know them all that well, but they seem nice enough. What I am not looking forward to is six straight hours on a plane tomorrow. Why six hours? We're flying to Boston via Phoenix. Phoenix? Isn't that to the west? Shouldn't we be going east?

I'm working on some gloves for my husband, using my nice Brittany birch needles, so those should be non-threatening on the plane. I'd like to come up with some sort of case for them so they don't get broken in my luggage. Oh, and I'd better pack some warm clothing, since they seem to be having "winter" over in the east. I've gotten spoiled living here.

I still need to mail a package of knitted items to my sister. At least the baby socks are large enough that my niece shouldn't outgrow them while I procrastinate about finding a box for this stuff. Since we leave town tomorrow, it looks like I'll be unlikely to send the package in time for my sibling's birthday. Alas!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Darn cold!

Last weekend, my husband was suffering from a cold bad enough to cause him to spend most of the time resting in his comfy clothes and take Monday off. Now, I've got it. It was just a bit of a sniffle and a scratchy throat during the week, but now that it is Saturday, it is hitting me harder.

Taking a nice steamy shower this morning helped somewhat, as did taking a nap for a couple of hours around noon. Now that I'm feeling well enough to sit at the computer, I'm just websurfing while waiting for my husband to bring me a breakfast burrito. Green chile helps colds, right?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Take a Turkey to Work Day

There was a notice in my company's daily email newsletter that Monday is Take-a-Turkey-to-Work Day. It is part of a Thanksgiving food drive, but I'm just picturing something like Take-Your-Daughter/Son-to-Work Day, with live turkeys shadowing people in their jobs. Can't you just picture a turkey with a little hard hat watching the construction guys? A turkey with a lab coat tagging along with the scientists? A turkey pecking on my keyboard, trying to help me code?

Well, I found it amusing, anyway.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Geek Gorgeous Calendar

Have you heard about this calendar of women in technology? I'm having some mixed feelings about it. I liked the idea of showing technical people as something other than the stereotypical socially inept nerd with glasses and poor hygiene habits, but these pictures aren't giving a realistic image of geeky women, either. I think I would be rather offended to see one of these scantily clad ladies as the desktop wallpaper of a coworker, even if she is a rocket scientist or computer programmer. On the other hand, I've never really seen the appeal of these sort of photos. I find proper clothing to be much more attractive. It is possible that at some point during the month the calendar's owner will stop looking at the model's breasts for a few minutes, read the information about her, and begin to form a different opinion of women in the sciences. I'm not counting on it though.

While some of the models are undeniably technical, others seemed a little lightweight. Photoshop expert? What? Maybe I've been in the academic and technical world too long, but I don't really think just using a computer really makes you geeky.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

You can call me...

...but that doesn't mean I'll be able to help you with your Benefits question. I'm still getting a lot of misdirected phone calls, as described in an earlier entry. I've tried to be as nice about it as I can, since it isn't like a single individual is actually flaking out and calling me over and over. However, that is how it feels from my end of things. The phone rings, I answer with my name, a slightly confused voice on the other end asks me to repeat what I said since I didn't give some sort of canned "Welcome to the Benefits Department. How may I help you?" greeting. After clarifying just who they have managed to call, the confused soul on the other end of the line does one of two things:
  • They realize they have a wrong number, and say something along the lines of "I'm sorry, I was trying to reach benefits". I like these people. They actually listen.
  • They decide that I must be a very unhelpful member of the benefits staff (what with not mentioning that I work in that department and all) and charge ahead with some sort of insurance question. I've had to actually interrupt this type to inform them that they have dialed the wrong number.
I then proceed to describe their mistake in what I like to think is a kindly, it-could-happen-to-anyone sort of way in an attempt to get them to actually dial the number as it was written. I am rather surprised by how many people don't seem to believe that it will work. I actually have a note on my desk where I have written out the numeric form of the correct phone number so I can prevent them from calling me back. This is a sign that giving out a telephone number to thousands of people without all the numbers is just asking for trouble.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Baby, baby, baby! Battery!

My sister had her baby yesterday, after three days of labor. Dude! Three days!

My new niece is very cute. My parents emailed me pictures this morning, so I've changed my desktop wallpaper to a picture of my sister and the baby. I was surprised to see how alert the baby looked in most of the pictures, with her eyes wide open.

I won't actually get to see this kid in person until sometime after Christmas. *sigh* I'm just glad for digital cameras and email.

In non-baby news, my car's battery decided to die completely on me this morning, refusing to take a charge. It was the original battery, so I guess now isn't that odd of a time for it to give up the volts. Better now than in the middle of winter, eh? My husband and I spent several hours buying, installing, and charging a new battery. Bleh! On the plus side, I got to have lunch with my husband on a workday. On the extra plus side, my sister had a baby! (My little niece makes everything better. It's her superpower.)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

National Drunken Writing Night

For those who feel that NaNoWriMo is a bit much, perhaps NaDruWriNi would be more your style. I am amused. I also doubt I shall be participating, although I might drink a bottle of hard cider while attempting to make progress on my novel. I only have about 600 words so far, but I'm hoping to make up for it this weekend. I have tomorrow off and my husband won't be getting home until suppertime, so I'll have all day to write, provided I don't get distracted by daytime television.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Blog Stock Market

If you think that markets are a good way to discover information, BlogShares may be a good way to locate interesting blogs. Apparently, this blog is currently undervalued. I'd better buy! *grin*

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

Today hasn't really been all that great, especially for Halloween. It's not bad, exactly, but nothing particularly good has happened.

The problems started last night when I managed to walk into a wall in the dark, bumping my face. Somehow I thought the doorway was located a bit to the right of where is actually was. No noticeable bruising or anything, but my nose is a little tender when I touch it. My yell of pain did not disturb my sleeping husband at all. I think he could sleep through anything.

Daily Saving Time is once again destroying whatever slight sense of time I had. I need to remember to reset the clock in my car, since once again we irrationally changed our timepieces by an hour. If I were a bit more energetic, I would link to one of my previous DST rants, but it is so dark right now (stupid clock changing!) that I just don't feel like doing much.

Work wasn't actually bad, but it didn't really have any high points. I take that back, lunch was tasty, since I remembered to actually pack something for a change (the last of the beef barley soup with mushrooms, a can of Citrus Drop, and a handful of Halloween chocolates).

I didn't interact with anyone at work today. There is a very loud talker in the office next to mine, so I eventually gave up and shut my door, which pretty much cut off all chances of casually chatting with people passing by. I've been trying to work out a tricky bit of design for a new feature and it just isn't coming together right. Again, not a really bad thing, but it would have been nice to start the week with even a small success.

My husband just called to remind me to come home and carve pumpkins before kids start knocking on our door. That should be fun. I think I may have to go pick out and hoard a bunch of the dark chocolate pieces for my own use.

Still no niece or nephew for me. I was hoping my sister would deliver today. Having Halloween for a birthday would be kind of cool. Besides, I would win bragging rights if the prediction I made at the baby shower actually was correct. If she has it tomorrow, my husband will get to gloat. Either way, our guesses are way closer than the impatient older members of the family that were predicting two weeks ago.

Okay, time to go home, play with pumpkin guts, and eat much candy.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A mystery is solved and 'Sulu' is gay

The past week or so I've been getting wrong numbers on my work phone, which is odd, since usually the only person who calls me there is my husband. When I ask what number they were trying to reach, they repeat my own number, so it isn't a clumsy misdialing. When I ask who they are trying to reach, the answer usually was Donna LastName or the Benefits department.

Ah-ha! There is a Donna in Benefits, so they must all be trying to reach the same place, and this is the time of year when we can make changes to our insurance plan, so that is why so many people are trying to reach that department, but why call my number? It isn't at all similar to the Benefits hotline, so it would be unlikely that the cause is a typo in a brochure somewhere. Most perplexing...

This afternoon, while redirecting some retired guy who accidentally called me, I figured it out. The local number he had ended with letters, without giving the corresponding digits. He also had a toll-free number written in the normal fashion. He, and many others, assumed that the letters in the local number corresponded to the numbers in the toll-free number and didn't bother looking at the letters on their telephone keypads. Unfortunately for me, the toll-free number shares the same final digits as my number. Mystery solved!

In other news, it turns out that George Takei is gay. I remember watching reruns of the original Star Trek series and having a bit of a crush on Sulu (right after Spock!). He has such a great voice. I have to admit, I'm not terribly surprised to learn that Takei is gay. Of course, I also would not have been shocked to learn that he is happily married with numerous offspring. I never gave his private life much thought before. I did find it interesting to read that he grew up in an interment camp. That is a part of American history that is often ignored, unless you watch a lot of PBS.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I had to change my password here at work a few weeks ago, and I am still tripping over it. We have computer-generated passwords here, to keep people from choosing really stupid and obvious words. I've stopped accidentally typing last year's password, but I still mess up my current one several times a day. There is an awkward sequence in the middle that I keep getting wrong. I think I'm too quick with the shift key and capitalize a letter too soon. Awkward computer-generated password... *grumble*

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I don't want a McMansion

My husband and I are starting to think about purchasing a house. I was talking to my father on the phone this evening and he recommended looking at Not So Big House to get some ideas about good residential design and help define what we are looking for.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dawn of the knitted dead

Knitted Zombies! I am amused.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Stupid spammers!

Lately, whenever I post, I get at least one spam comment within minutes. Annoyed with this, I have enabled word verification for comments. I apologize for the inconvenience to any real people who would like to comment, but the spam is just too annoying.
Nice blog, come see my unrelated commercial webpage in a futile attempt to drive up the page rank.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Rotten eggs

This afternoon, there was some sort of chemical leak or spill in out building, which caused the place to smell of enough of sulfur that the cleared us all out for a while. Fortunately, it was a nice sunny day and I wasn't getting much done anyway (A server I use was down for maintenance.), so we just sat around chatting for a while until the building was deemed safe. Just part of the excitement of working at a lab, I guess. I still think it would be funny if it turned out someone left their lunch so long it went bad.

NaNoWriMo is coming!

Once again, I'm going to attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Let's hope I do better than last year.

Friday, October 14, 2005

You just can't make this stuff up!

Today at lunch, my coworkers and I were discussing the possibilities of implanted computing devices, mostly in a joking manner. One coworker mentioned a rather interesting location for an mp3 player, which he claimed he had read about recently. We all thought it sounded pretty silly, so this afternoon he emailed us the link. So, tell me, would you want musical breast implants?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Short updates

This morning I left a half-full can of Citrus Drop on the roof of my car as I drove to work. I reached down to my empty cupholder and realized that I must have forgotten about the can about five seconds before it fell over and rolled off with a clatter. If there hadn't been other traffic on that street, I likely would have stopped to retrieve it, but alas, it happened after I turned onto a major street.

This past weekend was fairly busy for us. We had some people over for games on Saturday and went to the Taos Wool Festival on Sunday. I'll try to remember to post a picture of my loot later.

My sister-in-law is flying in on Wednesday for a visit, so I probably should pick up my office clutter a bit before she arrives. I would just close the door, but my office holds the futon that doubles as our guest bed, so I need to at least clear that area enough to unfold it. I'll deal with that tomorrow after work.

I'm currently working on a pair of socks for my father, using yarn he selected when he visited in August. I've already completed a pair for my mom, and still have the socks I made for my sister and brother-in-law. I think my family may eventually just get a big box of socks from me in the mail.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Parallelization problems and Python procrastination

I've been working on porting my simulation over to the big cluster at work with no success. It won't compile with the nifty hardware-specific compiler, so I've been using gcc (Hooray for GNU! It's everywhere!), which isn't the recommended compiler for this system. I can make small simulations run, but as soon as I try a large test I get a segmentation fault. It doesn't help that it is a non-deterministic bug. Argh! At least I've gotten familiar with TotalView, a rather spiffy debugger that can handle parallel programs nicely. It's memory debugging tools have helped me eliminate every obvious possibility for what the problem could be.

Fortunately (sort of), I have established that the problem does not lie in my code (at least not entirely), since a small example written by the guy whose library I am using also fails mysteriously. It's either a problem with his code or with something lower down. Perhaps something isn't configured properly on the cluster. Whatever it is, I have sent this other guy a number of emails with details of all the things the problem isn't.

Now that I've dumped the problem in someone else's lap, I need to get back to work on something else. I contemplated adding some new functionality to the simulation, but decided to explore Python instead. I've been thinking that this would be an interesting language to learn, if I could find a reason to learn it, and today I came up with one. I need to do some data conversion from one file format to another to generate the XML input files for my simulation from the input files from the software we hope to replace. I have been using SXML, which let's me manipulate the XML as S-expressions in Scheme, but the many standard libraries of Python are tempting me. There are people here at work that use Python, which is kind of nice. I'm going to try to write something useful in it tomorrow to see if I want to continue down this path.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Rambling, and a book recommendation

Time has passed and my wine festival sunburn has faded to a pinkish tan on the back of my neck. My skin is not designed for direct exposure to sunlight. I should hide during the day and only scuttle out from under my rock when the sun is low in the sky. *grin*

Glancing out my window just now, I see four shirtless young men in short running shorts exiting the house across the street and strolling off down the sidewalk. I'm not sure if they are heading out for a run and are just warming up with a bit of a walk first, or if it is laundry day over there and the shorts were the only thing they have that is clean. They weren't giving off a crazy runner vibe, so I'm guessing some sort of low-key exercise in the park down the street.

When I find myself sitting at my desk, watching people through my window, I sometimes wonder if this is how nosy old ladies get started. Will email and blogging change the spread of gossip? I think of how much information some of my older relatives spread just by word-of-mouth and wonder how much more dangerous they would be if they didn't fear computers. (Of course, spreading information in a written, public forum does make it easier to organize and verify. News in my family often gets distorted like a childhood game of Telephone.)

Speaking of family news, I forgot to post a link to my uncle's book when it came out last month. Dream-of-Jade: The Emperor's Cat was written by Lloyd Alexander (the author of The Black Cauldron and other award-winning books) and illustrated by Brent Burkett, my very cool uncle. If you are shopping for a child and want to give a well-written book with awesome illustrations that all ages will enjoy, please consider Dream-of-Jade (If you want to search for it on your own, the ISBN is 0-8126-2736-9)

Was that too blatant a promotion? It really is a good book.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Burning pain!

My husband and I went to a wine festival this afternoon and had a delightful time. The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, the samples of food and wine were quite tasty. Did I mention the sun was shining? I always put on sunblock after my shower, but I have gotten rather accustomed to the coverage of work clothes and spending all day in an office building, as opposed to shorts and a v-neck t-shirt in a sunny open field. Let's just say I wasn't quite as thorough as I should have been. I have a ring of sunburn around my neck, clearly defining the space between my shirt collar and where I stopped applying sunblock. I also apparently forgot that there is a back to my legs and have much painful red skin along my calves and up to the back of my knees. Ouch!

My husband, wonderful man that he is, made a special trip to get me some soothing lotion to help with the pain. I'm not feeling too bad right now, but I'm really not looking forward to trying sleep comfortably tonight. I think I'll have to dope myself up with aloe vera and hold very still.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Snakes on a Plane!

Have you heard about this movie?
On board a flight over the Pacific Ocean, an assassin, bent on killing a passenger who's a witness in protective custody, let loose a crate full of deadly snakes.
Samuel L. Jackson and a plane full of snakes, whee! I hope they don't change the name before it hits the theaters. Come see Snakes on a Plane!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Beep, beep!

We spotted the roadrunner (or maybe a different one, who knows?) in our front yard again. It was sitting on the fence between our house and the neighbor's place, just hanging out. It left while I was getting my camera, so I still haven't gotten its picture.

We watched Bewitched at the dollar theater this afternoon. Pretty funny, especially when we only paid a dollar apiece to see it. Apparently, my husband had never seen the original series. It was a bit before our time, but I watched a lot of those old black-and-white reruns on Nick at Night when I was a kid. Darn it! Now I have the theme song stuck in my head!

Saturday, August 20, 2005


If you hit the next blog button enough times, you eventually will hit someone's knitting blog. Now that Google is setting up the objectionable content flagging for blogspot blogs, the next blog button may actually lead to interesting content again.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Rotting my brain

My husband is working late tonight, so I've been reading various Livejournal communities and catching up on Strong Bad email. Very little redeeming value. :) Ooh! The Simpsons is on! Whee!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Hey, I just mopped that!

Yesterday, I cleaned the bathroom and gave the kitchen floor a long-overdue mopping, while my husband hauled all of our recyclables to the bins in the K-mart parking lot down the street. He came back with a nice glass pitcher that someone had tossed in the glass bin. A quick run through the dishwasher and we have a new decorative pitcher. It's nice to have good scrounging luck.

We made some curry for supper and watched our Unbreakable DVD on the computer. I'd seen the movie before, so this time I was noticing more details, like the use of color. I watched the extras on the second disc, and was slightly surprised by how many of the names I recognized in the discussion of comic books and superheroes. When I was a kid, the only comic books I read were the various Archie comics, but in grad school the public library had a small graphic novel section and I got caught up on my superhero stories. It appeals to me in much the same way as the fairy tale retellings I enjoy reading. Sometimes you have to exaggerate reality in order to tell a real story. Mythic archetypes, blah, blah, blah...

This morning there was a small puddle of some sort of dark brown or black fluid on the floor under the back of the refridgerator. I know it wasn't there yesterday, because I had just mopped it. *grumble* We pulled the refridgerator away from the wall and cleaned up the floor, but we're not quite sure what it is or where it is coming from. It's a mystery. We'll see if it happens again, and take it from there. I guess it is just a coincidence that something is leaking just after I mopped, but it feels like we have a spiteful appliance on our hands.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Lots of family time

Went to the family reunion yesterday. It was pretty good, but 'm feeling slightly sore today, probably from all the time I spent jumping on the trampoline and giving a nine-year-old girl a piggy-back ride up a hill.

Right now, we're all just waiting for people to get here for my sister's baby shower this afternoon. The house has been picked up, food is in the fridge, and presents are piled on the dining room table, so this is down-time for all of us. I think there was some talk about going for a dip in the pool earlier, so I might see if anyone is going for that after I post this message.

I'm using my mother's laptop to type this entry and am getting a little annoyed with the keyboard. There seems to be a bit of a lag which, when combined with the slight difference in keyboard size, is causing a number of typos and backtracking to fix them. I wonder if she has something running in the background...

My parents' dog is wandering around the office here. She is a mellow black lab that showed up under a car in their driveway when she was a puppy. Now that she has outgrown her initial puppy energy, she is one of the calmest dogs I know. Of course, now my parents have a little calico kitten that has adopted them (found in the same place as the dog had been. We suspect somebody dumps unwanted animals one to a house in this neighborhood.) and likes to provoke the dog, so she is a little more active than she would be if left to her own devices. Right now she is taking a nap by my father's desk. The house is very quiet.

Okay, the typing lag is getting to frustrating for me to continue. I'll write more some other time.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Baby things!

Before I pack them for the shower this weekend, I must post a picture of the baby stuff I made. The pants are from EZ's Knitter's Almanac, the pumpkin hat and sweater below it are of my own design (note the really wide neckline to accommodate a large baby head; I had to rework it a few times before I was satisfied), the orange cabled socks are from a recent issue of Interweave Knits. Moving on to the purple self-striping yarn, the entrelac hat, baby mitts, and tiny socks are all my own creation, while the regular socks are just a simple variation of the IK pattern. I like the effect of self-striping yarn with the entrelac.

Yeah, I'm a knitter

I have a plane flight tomorrow and still need to pack. I've been devoting more thought to my yarn than my clothes and toiletries. My thoughts generally go something like this: I'll want to bring those socks to finish them when I have my brother-in-law's foot handy, but the little needles might not be appropriate for the plane. I'd better come up with a project on fat plastic needles for the flight, maybe washcloths. Hmm, I don't think I have any kitchen cotton in my stash. I need to buy yarn tonight! I force myself to snap out of it at this point.

I just know that I'll be digging through my yarn closet tonight trying to find something small and non-threatening that I can take past airport security. Too bad I'm such a fan of sock needles. Maybe my wooden double-points would be okay, but I would really hate to lose them to the airline. I could hide them with my toiletries! Or I could pretend they are hair accessories! Visions of smuggling fiber and accessories flash through my mind. *cue Mission Impossible theme*

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince — done!

I started reading it just after posting last nights entry, went to bed after about 250 pages, and finished it today. It's the literary equivalent of eating a whole bag of potato chips, I think.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I have Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Yay!

We put ourselves on the waiting list at our local used book store and got our lovely half-price copy today. This is a virgin book, never read, barely opened. Apparently the person who sold it was given a spare copy. It's amazing how much money you can save by waiting, what, a whole week and a half? Admittedly, we could have saved even more money by checking it out of the library, but there are about 200 holds on that book. I may not be a rabid Potter fangirl, but I would like to read it sometime in the foreseeable future. I think my husband is planning on rereading book 5 before going on to this one, so I get first crack at it. I'm wondering if I should save it for my plane flight to my family reunion this weekend, or if I should just go for it now?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Amusing image site

This site lets you select a pose and background image and have some fun with a speech or thought balloon. I'm sure many people would use it for political commentary, but I'm halfway tempted to try to turn it into some sort of silly comic strip.
It was created by the same guy who made the church sign generator.
Go forth and waste some time! You know you want to...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The revenge of the steeks of DOOM!

I made a number of baby items for my sister's shower next week, and decided to wash them in the machine today to make sure they'd be able to hold up to the punishment. After all, it wouldn't do to blithely tell them that they can just wash the stuff in a delicates bag and then have it disintegrate. The socks and hats came out fine, aside from a bit of lint cross-contamination. The baby pants and sweater also survived, with an occasional yarn end revealing itself which I'll have to tuck back in once everything has dried.

The ambitious little steeked jacket, though, that is another matter entirely. At first glance, it just looks like it has some loose ends to be secured.

When I picked it up, I found that one arm was falling apart, and the other shoulder was disconnected completely. The arm is falling off!

I felt a bit like crying when I saw that. I suppose I might be able to patch it up a bit or turn it into a little vest or something, but at the moment, I fear to even move it. Anyway, my sister isn't going to get that jacket at her shower, that's for sure. However, you all can see my pretty color-work, at least.

My only consolation is that I tried out steeks on a tiny project like this instead of an adult garment. *sigh* The really sad thing is that it probably would have survived if I had restricted it to being hand-wash only, but no, I had to go and insist that baby-clothing be easy-care. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

I shall now go eat supper with my husband, watch some PBS, and try to forget all about this disaster for a while.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Net work accomplished = 0

I came into work this morning with a plan. I had a great idea of something to do to my code that would improve it, and be small enough to complete in one day. (Always good for a task started on a Friday.)
  • Once I was actually in the code, I realized that...
  • my clever idea really only amounted to caching a very lightweight object instead of creating a new one from scratch each time which...
  • might cause a slight improvement in performance, but...
  • making this change would be a bigger hassle I originally thought and...
  • I doubt this class would be the bottleneck anyway.
So, I undid the changes and made a note of the idea in my thoughts file. (I keep a plain text file under version control with my code to right notes to my future self. Sometimes I come back to it and think "Neat idea!" or "That's a good point to remember", but other times I just read it and wonder "What was she thinking? That'll never work!")

The workday is over now, I'm going home (or possibly out to happy hour with my husband and some linguistics students.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Wonka rocks!

We went to the theater yesterday and watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was very fun. The Oompa-Loompa musical numbers were wildly over the top, so much so that at times I was gasping for air as I laughed. One man played all the little Oompa-Loompas, which I think made it even sillier. Johnny Depp was great as Wonka, but I'm not so sure about the "let's explain his motivations" subplot that was added. All in all, a fun and trippy movie.

Before Charlie started, there was a preview for Tim Burton's upcoming movie, Corpse Bride. It looks interesting, rather like The Nightmare Before Christmas. I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Yet another reason to go out for some curry

Apparently, an ingredient in yellow curry may be effective against melanoma cells. I'm pale and live in the Southwest, so perhaps it is especially good that I am fond of curry. Of course, the study was dealing with cancer cells in a lab setting, so who knows if eating curry would make any difference. Mmm, curry... *Homer Simpson-style drool*

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Where did you get the cartoon pictures?

Abi-Station has fun avatar makers.

I am so smart!

I just refactored 3 nearly identical classes into one templated class and some typedefs. Yay!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ooh! Blogger Pictures! plus, last night's dream

Nifty! I can directly upload pictures without having to host them somewhere else, or use BloggerBot, which I never did get to work for me. Thanks, Blogger!

Last night I dreamt I had to go back to high school/undergrad for some reason. I had a similar "You aren't finished; go back!" dream in between undergrad and grad school, but I don't know what might have prompted this one. Eh, fun with the subconscious mind, I guess.

(Did you know that "Blogger" is not recognized by Blogger's spellchecker? *grin*)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Stay connected, darn you! (Part 2)

As I grumbled about last week, the connection to the server I've been working on has been really flaky. I found it working just fine on Friday, and dared to hope that the problem had been fixed, but today it was at least as bad as Thursday. I asked one of the guys who is actually in the building and found out he has had the same problem, so at least I know it isn't just me, but that doesn't really help me get any work done. Of course, I probably wouldn't have a whole lot of progress on my current goal (making my program run in parallel) even if the server were available since there seems to be a bug in this other guys code and he hasn't gotten around to investigating it yet. *sigh* It's a Monday. (When did I start sounding like Garfield?)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Stay connected, darn you!

Most of my work is done on a server in another building, connecting via ssh. Today, the connection has been up and down (mostly down) so much that I wonder if someone is sitting there kicking the network port. There are other machines on that system that I can connect to and reach my files, but the computer with the appropriate software installed is hiding from me. It had been responding just long enough for me to get in the middle of a thought before disconnecting. Thanks to screen I don't have to start a session completely from scratch, but that doesn't help much now that the connection seems down for good. I haven't had a reply from their system staff, so I guess I won't be working on that computer for a while. If it isn't up when I come in tomorrow morning, I think I'll just work on something completely different on my local machine and hope it'll be better on Monday. (Of course, few things are better on Mondays. Such is the nature of that day.) *sigh*

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


My uncle has illustrated a book that will be available this fall. Looks to be a good one.

Monday, June 20, 2005

My hubby has a home page

I think he had one before, but now he's making it all pretty and stuff. There isn't much content on my husband's website just yet, but he does link to this blog.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I anoint my head with oil

Lately I've been trying to take better care of my long hair, not that I was abusing it before. I've started using shampoo less often, only once a week or so, and instead usually just use conditioner only. I periodically take my hair scissors and trim my split ends, which can be oh so prevalent here in the desert. Tonight, I lightly oiled my hair and put it up in a topknot. I've done the oiling before and it does seem to make a difference.

I probably could use a new hairbrush. My old one is getting some broken bristles that scratch my scalp and might catch my hair. Maybe I'll go splurge on a nice one this weekend.

Steek! Eek!

So, I've become bold and daring and deciding to try out the technique of steeks while knitting a jacket for my future niece or nephew. I made 3 stitch wide steeks for the arm holes and front of the sweater and knit an odd closed tube contraption. Yesterday, I finished knitting the body, so I used the crocheted method of securing them and, with much trepidation, carefully cut them open. I swear my hands were still shaking hours later! It just seems so very wrong to just cut up the middle of the fabric like that.

After regaining my composure, I picked up stitches for one sleeve, intending to continue the Fair Isle pattern I had used on the body, but I realized after a couple of inches that fabric that dense would probably prevent the poor baby from moving its arms. I frogged it back (rip it! rip it!) to try again, in the process dislodging far too many loose ends from the crochet chain that was supposed to secure them. (Note to self, make steek wider next time.) The connection at the shoulder looks a little bit wonky, but I think it'll hold. I might come back later and do a little stitching on the inside of the join to make sure it is really secure.

I knitted the sleeve in 1-1 ribbing (way more flexible than the Fair Isle of the body), possibly giving a bit of a vest over sweater sort of look. I've picked up the stitches for the second sleeve, much neater since I didn't rip it out this time, and am contemplating what I want to do with the front opening. I think I might see if I can find some cute buttons this weekend before deciding how wide the edging should be.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Beep beep!

I was looking out my office window just now and there was a roadrunner sitting on top of the garbage can. I've seen them outside of town, but this was right by the house. Wow!

Friday, May 13, 2005

I didn't Dew today

So, this morning, I left the house without drinking my usual can of Mountain Dew (or a generic substitute). I was feeling good. The sun was shining, I had eaten a good breakfast, I didn't need caffeine and sugar to get me going. At lunch, I just had water with my meal, so again, no caffeine.

I'm crashing now. My thoughts are so slow, it is like mentally running on sand. I'm feeling a slight hint of a headache developing. Of course, so of this may just be because it is the end of the week, but I know the signs of caffeine withdrawal. I generally save such self-control for the weekend, though. I like to go at least one or two days a week without caffeine to help me pretend I don't have a problem with it.

I get to fend for myself this evening. My husband has some sort of reception tonight and won't be coming home until well after suppertime. It's been a while since he's had one of these things. This one has something to do with some honorary degrees the university is giving out.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Business hours

I had a corporate training meeting at 9:00 yesterday morning. I had an 8:30 department meeting this morning, in which my manager informed us that she has been promoted up a level as part of a more general reorganization. I have another morning meeting tomorrow. Life is conspiring to make me keep standard hours! Oh well, at least that means I can go home right now instead of in an hour.

Friday, April 29, 2005


Well, Indiana has given in to peer pressure and decided to have mandatory daylight saving time. Can you believe the governor made this "one of his top economic priorities"? How is this a) economic and b) more important than real issues?

I will continue to hate the arbitrary clock changing, even if my home state has gone insane. So, it looks like the last holdouts against it are Arizona, Hawaii, and Alaska. Alaska and Hawaii aren't in the temperate zone where DST can do any "good" anyway, so I doubt they'll ever go for it. The Navajo reservation covering large portions of Arizona observes DST, so will the rest of the state follow now that they don't have Indiana to keep them company?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Trouble brewing at my alma mater

I was in graduate school at Indiana University when Bobby Knight was fired. A large number of students and community members complained quite vocally about this and staged a "riot." It was really sort of pathetic, after the fact, but rather disruptive at the time. I found myself wondering what, if anything, could rile up Rose-Hulman students in a similar way. Well, it looks like we've found something that can.

I have been reading the articles and forums at AboutMidgley.com after receiving an email from Claude Anderson, a former professor of mine whose judgment I respect. The message was sent to all the computer science alumni to let us know that the recent email from President Midgley was rather one-sided.

Apparently, there is a faculty meeting scheduled for next Tuesday to discuss a "no confidence" motion. There is a lot of dissatisfaction with the president's actions and attitude.

The students are actually planning a rally for tomorrow. I know something is serious if the students are doing more than just complaining online. Oddly enough, I would have been going to campus tomorrow if I had decided to attend the Computer Science advisory committee meeting. Living where I do now, I find it rather difficult to actually attend those meetings now. Of course, had I gone to the meeting, I wouldn't have actually been at the rally anyway, but at least I would have been able to get a first-hand account of what is going on at Rose these days.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Tools for Thought by Howard Rheingold

An online book about the history of computer. I've only read the first couple chapters so far, but it seems rather interesting.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Why you should reread your comment before posting it

The comments on yesterday's entry amused me. I think it was the typo in the apology for the typos.

However, I do appreciate it when someone comments, so in gratitude, I shall post this link to her blog, Dirty White Pearl.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Why Nerds are Unpopular

This essay poses the question Why are nerds unpopular?:
Being smart doesn't make you an outcast in elementary school. Nor does it harm you in the real world. Nor, as far as I can tell, is the problem so bad in most other countries. But in a typical American secondary school, being smart is likely to make your life difficult. Why?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

More on DST

I'm tired from a meeting this morning, but I'll let other people rant for me.

John J. Miller on Daylight Savings Time on National Review Online
Can we please slow down and get something straight? There is simply no way to "save daylight." People can spin the hands of their clocks like roulette wheels, but come Monday here in Washington, D.C., we're still going to have sunshine for about 12 hours and 45 minutes. The sun can rise at a time of day we call dawn or Howdy Doody Time or whatever — but the stubborn facts of astronomy are at work here and they can't be wished away.

Daylight saving time - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
DST is not universally accepted; many localities do not observe it. Opponents claim that there's not enough benefit to justify needing to adjust clocks twice per year. The disruption in sleep patterns associated with setting clocks forward, and thereby "losing" an hour, correlates with a spike in the number of severe auto accidents, as well as emotional trauma and lost productivity as tired workers adjust to the schedule change.

There is also a question whether the savings in lighting costs (people just home from work don't turn on the electric lights because there is enough sunlight through the windows) justifies the increase in summertime air conditioning costs (people home from work do turn up the air conditioning during the late-afternoon peak load times, because it's still warm outside). When air conditioning was not widely available, the change did save energy; however, air conditioning is much more widespread now than it was several decades ago.
There were some good comments made in response to this Slashdot article.

Man, I could use a nap right now.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

I hate Daylight Saving Time!

I had a rant about this today, about how tired I am and how annoying it is to be suddenly running late when I get up at the same time (real time, not clock time) that I was getting up before, but the network went down while I was writing it and it was lost. Oh, well. I'll just post a link to the standard time folks and call it a day.

Monday, April 04, 2005

End Daylight Saving Time!

Having just changed the clocks this weekend, it is time once again for my semiannual rant against the absurd practice of Daylight Saving Time. However, I'm tired and have work to do, so I'll just refer you do my previous complaint, instead. How can so much of the population be a bunch of clock-changing lemmings! Of course, I'm stuck changing my clocks as long as I live here, but I at least think about what I'm doing instead of just blindly going along with it. *grumble*

Friday, April 01, 2005

It's Friday!

I so need a weekend now. This past week has drained me.

In other news, I checked my vacation balance today and I have earned about 4 days worth. Next month, I'll have a whole week racked up. Knowing that I could not be here and still get paid for a while makes it easier to get through a long week.

I went out to lunch with some coworkers today. We didn't really have any plan on where to eat, so we all just piled in a car and took off with the idea of finding something nearby. We ended up at a Japanese restaurant. Quite tasty and wonderful presentation, but not exactly cheap, especially by my standards for lunch. Still, it's a place I hadn't been to before and it could be a nice treat to go there with my husband sometime when I don't have to think about programming immediately after the meal.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Romance Novels Ridiculed

These modified romance novel covers really brightened up my day. They're so wrong, yet so funny!

Amusing article in the Portales News-Tribune

Apparently, we live a "simple life".

Last month, my husband and I hosted some visiting graduate students and it seems we made quite an impression on them. I was idly googling our names and came across this article. She writes as if we were Amish or something. We actually do own a television, we just don't keep it in the living room. I emailed this link to my husband and he was quite amused, since we are really such technophile geeks.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


My code hates me. I set up a new input file to test a new feature and it broke. No big surprise there, it's still a work in progress. I look up the line causing the error and can't see why it is behaving the way it is. I comment out most of the new feature and try the new file again. Still broken, but there error is in another place. Still can't see why. I'm getting the sneaking suspicion that I may have just uncovered a preexisting bug in my code with this new test. *sigh*

Fun with the Next Blog button

Ah Yes, Medical School

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

As if my handwriting weren't hard to read already

Lately, I've been trying to teach myself Handywrite in the hopes of having a faster way of getting information from my head onto paper. (Hard as it may be to believe, I don't always have a keyboard at hand.) Once I get the basic system down, I can start using the related shorthand system to get even faster, if I want. At the moment, writing anything in this system is slower than writing it out in cursive or print, but it is hard to judge since I tend not to write complete sentences by hand anyway.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Sushi, socialization, and sleep

On Saturday morning, our new mattress was delivered. Our sagging old full mattress has been replaced by a Sealy Posturpedic queen with a pillowtop. Ah, the delight! We actually have the option of sleeping without touching. The extra six inches make so much difference!

In the afternoon, we made massive quantities of sushi and had people over for games. The sushi was so well-received that we had none left after the gaming, so we made another batch yesterday. I know what I'm having for my lunch today! Yum!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Flaming yarn!

After the recent announcements of some novelty yarns being recalled due to flammability issues, Knitdamsel decided to set several samples from her stash on fire to see what would happen. Let's just say that the recall is certainly justified. I'm just glad I don't go for those fluffy synthetic yarns.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Dude, snow!

It's snowing so much that they just sent an email for all non-essential personnel to go home!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I'm cleared!

Apparently, the way to get a security clearance is to stay home with a cold for a day. I checked my email this morning to find the happy "Clearance granted" email waiting for me in my inbox. This proved to be the deciding factor in the "Am I still feeling too sick to go to work today?" debate. I wanted the darn badge!

So, I came in to work and went over to the badge office to get my nice new badge. So, first I wait in the line, with only one person in front of me. I get called up, hand in my old, uncleared person badge, and receive a nice thick booklet to read and sign. The booklet basically said "don't do anything stupid with your new clearance", although it took about thirty pages to enumerate all the things I shouldn't do. I
sign some forms to indicate that yes, I understand this is a big responsibility and yes, I read the whole booklet.

Back in line. I'm the only person waiting for service, but I still have to stand in line on the spot where you wait for the next person to become available. I get my new badge, but wait! There's a problem! I don't have a hyphenated last name! That should be a space, not a hyphen.
Her: We can't change that here.
Me: Really? When I changed my name on my badge last September, they were able to get it right. I saw them edit it right on the computer there.
Her: Well, we can't change that here. Call this person at this number to get it fixed. There's a phone at the end of the counter.
I shrug and go down to the end of the counter, call someone who is located elsewhere in the same building, explain the annoying error, and am informed that it has been fixed.

Back in line, alone, again. Back to the same woman. Hyphen is still there. The badge creating program must have cached my information. She looks up something else, marks my incorrect badge as destroyed, and looks up me again. No hyphen. Yay! I select a PIN for the badge swipe boxes that require one and leave the building with my shiny new badge.

I immediately head to the nearest gate to make sure I can actually get through it on my own. Swipe card, enter code, and I'm in! I head over to the building where most of my department is located to find someone to celebrate with me. Unfortunately, by this time it is around noon, so nearly everyone is out for lunch. At least I can high-five our secretary and find out in which office they'll put me.

Of course, this brings up the next issue, moving. I'll have to share an office again. *sigh* I really kind of like my office here in the trailer. I just didn't like having to be escorted around any time we had a department meeting. I'll have to pack up my office and have the moving guys haul it inside, maybe next week.

Now we only have one uncleared person in our department. The poor guy is almost certain to be forgotten for meetings now!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Check your credit

I went online and got my free annual credit report today. Nothing unexpected on it, fortunately. Unless you live on the east coast, you should be able to do the same. (Eastern states won't be available until later this year. Check the site for the exact date.)

Monday, February 28, 2005

Scratchy throat

My throat is a little scratchy this afternoon. I'm coming down with a cold or something, I guess. So much for the advantages of working in an isolated office. I suppose my husband must have brought the germs home from school and infected me. I'm drinking a lot of water and hoping it doesn't progress past a mild annoyance. I would hate to feel icky during my last weaving class!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Someone actually did outbid me at the last minute on the second copy of the book, so I don't have to worry about getting rid of it.

I finished warping my loom last night. I had three places where I had twisted ends together, so I had to undo some knots and rethread them. The diagrams for twill patterns are rather interesting. I'll have to decide which patterns I want to use for this sampler. I'm tempted to try to make one of my own, as well as using some we were given. Man, I'm such a geek!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Excessive ebay success

Last week, I went to ebay and bid on a copy of Knitting From The Top. I was promptly outbid, so I bid on another auction for the same book. This weekend, I got an email stating that there was a bid retraction on the first auction and I am now the high bidder. So, now I have won the first auction and will also win the second auction unless someone else snipes it in the next hour. *sigh* I just wanted to have one copy of that book!

I guess I may be re-ebaying one of the copies. Perhaps I'll ask my fellow weaving students if any of them would be interested in buying the second book from me; I think some of them knit. Of course, I could always keep it to use as a gift for a new knitter, or something.

On Saturday, I went in to the yarn shop and threaded my warp through the heddles. Tonight, I'll need to wind it up on the back beam and tie it to the front apron before I can start weaving. Also, I'll get to learn about how to set up the treadles for weaving twill fabric. We'll see how that goes.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Whizzy lets you pee standing up!

What more can I say about Whizzy? You know, I think I actually saw this thing on some sort of morning talk show a couple of years ago.

Protect your Banana!

The Banana Guard really seems like it should be a joke, doesn't it?

Rain in the desert

It's been raining off and on all day. It's rather pleasant, although I find the sound so relaxing that I find myself wanting to take a nap instead of finishing my Friday's work. The lack of sunlight is probably contributing to that. I just hope the drive home goes smoothly. Many of the streets here don't seem to have any drainage at all.

Weaving was fun last night. I took my first project off the loom and measured the warp for my second one. I got my cross secured to the breast beam with lashed down lease sticks and started to sley the reed before I had to go home. I'm thinking that I might come in to the shop tomorrow afternoon to finish warping, since I know how to do that part myself, and then I'll be all ready for the new stuff in Monday's class. We're going to be weaving twills for the second project! Man, I'm so hooked on this stuff already.

Awkward office location

My office is located right at the intersection of two hallways, next to the water cooler, and very close to the exit door. This combination of factors leads to people having conversations just outside my door. It also leads to people unfamiliar with the layout to treat me as the information desk. *sigh*

Thursday, February 17, 2005


I managed to make a pretty omelet for breakfast this morning!

I have a weaving class in less than an hour and I think I'll be able to finish my current project tonight!

Life is good!

Monday, February 14, 2005

More fun with the Next Blog button

The Bible in 1189 days

Highly unproductive today

I had some plans for my program today, but the server I do most of my work on is down! I suppose I'll have to shift gears and try to accomplish something locally, but this has happened several times lately and it's getting really annoying. I think I'll go take a walk to try and refocus my thoughts.

Oh, Happy St. Valentine's Day, everyone! I'll be spending most of the evening apart from my husband, at my weaving class. (Just goes to show where my priorities are...)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Every so often I rediscover Wil Wheaton's blog and am reminded of how cool he is. In his latest entry we find out that he is going to be on CSI. Good job Wil! I'll have to make sure I watch that episode.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Friday, February 04, 2005

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

What kind of knitter are you?

Knitting Guru
You appear to be a Knitting Guru. You love knitting
and do it all the time. While finishing a piece
is the plan, you still love the process, and
can't imagine a day going by without giving
some time to your yarn. Packing for vacation
involves leaving ample space for the stash and
supplies. It can be hard to tell where the yarn
ends and you begin.

What Kind of Knitter Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Make the noise stop!

You know those Emergency Broadcast System tests that you sometimes hear on the radio or television? Picture one of those at full volume and you have something like what has been going on in my building. Is is a fire drill? No! Is it a tornado drill? No! It is a "shelter in place" drill, where we all just stay inside the building while the alarming tones keep us from being able to do any work. Do we actually have to have a drill to practice staying inside the building? Are they afraid someone is going to snap and run screaming out into the parking lot? I completely lost my train of thought when the noise started. If it had gone on much longer I would have gotten a headache.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I am the hunter of bugs!

The library coder just submitted a change that broke my simulation (again). I've tracked down where things go wonky and sent a nice detailed report so he can squash the bug. I think this may be another case where he is too clever for his own good. (That's what the problem was last time.)

Keep the workforce healthy

Health Services here at work has online health tracking.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Nit-picking code

Today, I found an error in the code library I am using. There was a header file that used an ostringstream object without including sstream. The code always compiled before because sstream always would get indirectly included by another file, but now I'm using it without the other classes that usually go with it. (Actually, I'll probably need some of them later, but I was trying to get a skeleton of a new class to compile today.) So, anyway, I added in a line to the header and committed it to the repository. I always feel a little odd when I do that, like I'm stepping on other people's toes, but in this case the change really did need to be made, and no one else had noticed it.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

LOTR animated alternatives

*giggle* NINJA WIZARD!

more here

My brain hurts

I just finished an intense meeting involving my project lead guy, a computer girl like me, and her project lead guy. The last guy single-handedly makes any makes any meeting intense. At least he always arrives about ten or twenty minutes late so you have time to brace yourself.

Basically, we have our research project which eventually will have capabilities similar to a program that they are using. We'd like to be able to compare the programs' performance, so that means we need to convert the data between formats. They're using a database with a whole lot of tables; we're using XML for our input and output. Their program is designed to simulate a very specific system; we're trying to make a general-purpose tool. They're doing a discrete event model; we're using agents. Just translating between our mental models is strenuous. I fear the data conversion is going to be just plain ugly.

Intense dude always gives the impression that he is very disappointed that our research software cannot do everything that their version 4 or 5 software can. Argh! Research! General-purpose! He also was shocked that I write code in emacs and that my "coding standards" don't involve something like Hungarian notation in my variable names. Ick! In what decade did he last program, I wonder?

I think I'm going to bypass him and go talk with the other computer girl about this stuff.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


In the interest of furthering my mastery of the fiber arts, I have signed up for a Beginning 4-Harness Weaving at Village Wools, my local yarn shop.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Playing hooky!

I've been staying rather late lately, so I'm taking off a little early today. I wouldn't be doing this if I was in the middle of something, but my code did my bidding with little protest so I'm free!

I'm off to see a cheap campus showing of The Incredibles with my husband. We've already seen it in the regular theaters, but this is worth a second viewing.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Single-handedly bringing down the forests...

Somebody sent some gibberish to the printer here at work, making it spew out about about a ream of mostly blank pages. The tray was empty when I got there, so I refilled it, unfortunately allowing it to continue its tree-killing ways. After hitting the cancel job button every time I saw a nonsense page come out, I gave up and powercycled the printer. After it woke up again, it seemed calmer, and just printed out a big pile of powerpoint slides. Either it was a really repeditive presentation, or someone sent the same file two or three times in a row. Who prints out powerpoint slides one to a sheet? Come to think of it, who prints out powerpoint slides in general? The only time I've done it is for class notes and I printed six slides to a page. I guess some people have no clue how to use their software.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Fun with Mappoint

It is a long way from Haugesund to Trondheim if you ask Microsoft for directions.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Narrowing down the problem

I think I've figured out what is happening, but I can't see why the minor change in the library code is causing an off by one error now. Unfortunately, the guy who wrote it is off today, so I may not be able to make much progress until Monday. Bleh!

I'll take another look at the cvs diff results to see if there is just a stupid mistake in yesterday afternoon's update that no one has noticed yet.


I updated a library and now my simulation is broken. Why? This did not figure into my Friday plans!

Nerd Quiz

I am nerdier than 64% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Should I be annoyed or relieved?

Thursday, January 20, 2005


I've already grumbled to my husband about this, but it is worth whining to my readers as well. (That would be what, two people? *grin*)

Today, for some reason unknown to me, my right foot is occasionally having sharp stabbing pain at the base of my big toe when I reach a certain point in my stride. Once or twice in the past, I've had a pain where it feels like my big toes are jammed if I wear high heels for too long, but that can't be it, since I haven't wore heels for quite a while now. I don't remember kicking anything or having something dropped on my foot, so I'm at a loss as to the cause.

*sigh* If it isn't better tomorrow, I'll have to see about getting it checked out before I develop a pronounced limp. Perhaps I'll even use the health center here at work. I'm hoping it is just an odd toe alignment that will go away on its own.

Mission accomplished!

The care package is in the mail, so my uncle should receive his slightly stale oatmeal fudge by Monday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


I have a package to mail to my uncle and I didn't make it to the post office for the second day in a row. It wouldn't be so bad if there weren't oatmeal fudge in the box. I guess I'll just have to do it tomorrow. Of course, I said the same thing yesterday evening. I'm so flaky sometimes!

Stop me before I ever get this bad!

These ski masks are just plain disturbing! What mind altering substances were the designers using?

Fun with the Next Blog button

Whatever, Mom

Monday, January 17, 2005

Harvard president claims that women and science don't mix

Many articles out there about this. Here's a quote from The Independent:
"He then argued that boys outperform girls on maths and science due to genetic difference rather than socialisation. He gave the conference an example from his own experience: a story of giving his daughter two trucks, which she treated like dolls, calling them mummy and daddy trucks."

If you supposedly can read that much into the way a kid plays with toys, I wonder what Larry Summers would think about the way I treated my dolls as a child. "Oh no, Barbie! Don't jump! You have so much to live for!"

Thursday, January 13, 2005

What age do you act?

Heh, silly quiz was only off by a year. Not bad.

You Are 27 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

No more excuses for fat geeks

Some engineer has written a book called The Hacker's Diet, complete with an exercise program and computer tools. I am reminded that I really should exercise more.

My personal technique involves wearing a step counter to keep track of how little I move around during the day. I used to do some yoga exercises, but I misplaced the book last time I moved. I suppose that is yet another reason for me to go through the stack of boxes in my office. Hey, if I start doing stretches on the floor, I bet I'd want to vacuum the carpet more often. Amazing how good patterns can reinforce each other.

"stay in the middle of the air"

From NASA's Civil Helicopter Safety Website:

"Basic Flying Rules:
1. Try to stay in the middle of the air.
2. Do not go near the edges of it.
3. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there."

Is that why my build takes so long?

Recursive Make Considered Harmful

Actually, my current project doesn't really fall victim to the pitfalls mentioned in this paper, but it is good to bear in mind. The author has some tips on how to make a single project makefile without going insane.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Fun with STL

Lately I've been rewriting some of my code to take better advantage of the C++ Standard Template Library. It seems silly to use the containers and ignore the algorithms, especially when you can start writing more functional code. (Functional as in functional programming, of course.)

Friday, January 07, 2005

Updated Projective Plane Pattern

Nate has changed his projective plane hat pattern to incorporate a color pattern, so now I have something else to add to my knitting to-do list. I wish he had kept the old version on the site instead of overwriting it, though. I was thinking of working the old version with horizontal stripes and I'm not sure if I still have the file.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Finding friends online

It's always interesting to stumble across a web page for someone you've lost touch with. In this case, I've discovered Kent's LiveJournal. I'll have to read it later and see what he's been up to.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


I got my gmail invite through the isnoop.net gmail invite spooler in a rare bit of luck when they had one available. Now that I have an account, I have a few invitations of my own available (after sending one to the isnoop spooler, to be kind to others out there), so if any of friends or family are interested, let me know. (Limited time offer, void where prohibited, etc.)

Yay! I have Gmail!

What it says above.
I am now FirstnameLastlastname@gmail.com (I wanted to use my real name but thought it was too long to use both of my last names in the address.) Anyone who knows me should be able to figure out the real email address from the information above, but that should foil spambots out there.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Back to work

I had a nice Christmas holiday visiting family in Indiana, but now I must get back to work. I had a surprisingly small email backlog to deal with this morning, probably because everyone else was gone for the holidays as well. Now I'm trying to pick up my old train of thought from nearly two weeks ago. What was I doing again?