What's on my mind.

31 October 2007

I Can Has Happy Dance?

This is how I feel today:

Thank you I Can Has Cheez Burger for summing it up so well.

17 October 2007

Other campuses

Last weekend I was on the campus of the University of South Alabama, to participate in GEMS. I didn't get any photos of the girls in my workshops but I did take some of the campus between lunch and the afternoon workshop and before I left.

A squirrel (not unique to USA):

Chains on the sides of steps to prevent cyclist (and others) from going around the stairs and causing erosion:

A large pond in the middle of campus:

(I know there is a lot of road in the pictures. The first I took from across the street; the second I took it out my car window. So sue me.)

The buildings at USA are not as fancy as at the UA campus but that doesn't mean they are all boring. The Chemistry building:

The Humanities building:

(Slightly, annoying because there is no sign on one side to tell you which room numbers are on that side; the other wing has a couple pieces of paper stuck in the window with the room numbers listed.)

I also found this interesting:

JagTran, USA's answer to long walks from parking area to class. It has few stops but looks (from the map) like it runs fairly efficiently; it gets people from where they park to the different clusters of buildings. They are lucky to have a smallish, compact campus. They have really nice shelters at the stops, too.

The UA started a new bus system for campus this year (they had one years ago), CrimsonRide, with eight routes, and 15 buses running during the day. There have been some kinks to work out this fall but all in all the buses, with the new parking scheme, have been, IMHO, a success. There is less traffic between classes!

Some of the problems I see with Crimson Ride have to do with how it is set up, however. There are too many stops on some routes; in some areas the stops are less than a block apart. One of the routes, in particular, is too long (45 minutes to make one circuit!). Often the two buses on a route are not well spaced; ideally they would be half a circuit apart. And there are a few places for where taking the bus would actually be faster than walking; this is particularly true once one is in the center of campus. I think cutting the number of stops (3 in one block is excessive); taking the buses off campus, even just a little; and adjusting some of the routes would help a lot. They do plan to re-evaluate the system at the end of the year, maybe one or two of those things will happen.

I enjoy riding the bus to lunch just at the edge of campus, but don't wait for one to ride back. The buses are great when it is very hot (like September) or raining but not the best way to get around campus - that is still your feet or a bike (Woohoo bike lanes!).

P.S. - Check out the USA online map - Click on a building, it's picture and name pop up, choose a building from the list and it is highlighted! Awesome. Anyway we could get that for the UA?

P.P.S. - I would like to thank the people who set the thermostat in the Humanities building and those who designed the A/C system. I was not freezing Saturday. I hope this was not because it was Saturday but because the system is well designed and not set too low. The thermostat for my office (and the rest of the hallway) is set at 80 at I am wearing a sweater.


Your Monday Photo Shoot: Picture someone or something in the act of lounging about or slacking off. Naps, loitering, general loafing -- it all works. Show yourself, show friends, show pets. All this shoot needs is to have them not doing much at all.

Exhibit A: Q-tip on the porch

Exhibit B: Honey on the couch

She's saying, "You go on to work Mom, I'll stay here and keep the couch from floating away." (I really need to put the cover back on the cushion, goodness that thing is ugly. Oh wait, can't do that 'til the cushion stops smelling like puppy pee.)

15 October 2007


I forgot that today was Blog Action Day. I forgot I was going to write a post all about how much I love having air to breathe, water to drink and play in, and green places to walk my dog. But all you are getting is this dinky post. So check out some of the thousands who are officially participating. Maybe you'll learn something.

Class of '94

So, John Scalzi is going on about his 20th reunion over at Whatever. And it reminded me that a) my 10th blew by a few years ago and I didn't even notice and b) I'm not sure I'd ever go to my high school reunion.

It isn't that I had a HORRIBLE high school experience and don't ever want to set foot in there again. It's just that the high school I graduated from is not the high school I identify with. We moved to Alabama the summer I was a rising 12th grade. When I think of high school, I think of my school in VA not AL. But since I didn't graduate from JMHS, I won't ever hear about the reunions. There are people there I'd be interested in seeing again, finding out what they're doing, etc. I hardly knew anyone at HHS. A few people I remember. I might recognize a few more names, if I had class with them. (One of the nurses at my internist office was in my English class, I have no idea what her name is.) Otherwise, I have no clue. And they wouldn't know me either.

The local schools tend to run announcements in the paper about reunions and I don't know if they mail stuff out to graduates or just figure we'll see it in the paper. I don't know if we had a 10th reunion or not (or anyothers).

A funny thing about moving when I did, and having been in a class of about 500, was that other than my friends few people realized I'd moved. That meant I got to go to the "All Night Graduation Party". The party was only for that years grads, nobody else younger, older, or from other schools. If you left you couldn't come back and no one admitted after a certain time (like 11 or 12). My Alabama school got out three weeks before my old school and I was still "dating" (obviously not many actual dates that year) the same guy. So he bought the two tickets and no one batted an eye when he put my name down for the second ticket. I came up to visit, watched my friends graduate, and went to the party.

05 October 2007

Democracy or Republic?

A red herring in a comment made by Shadowhelm a while back, started me thinking about the different ways in which we can define our government. He said our government was not a democracy but a republic. My initial response was to think, "damn, everybody calls themselves a republic. What does that tell you?"

So it has been in the back of my brain to look up the definitions of 'republic' and 'democracy' as well as the different types that could apply to the United States of America. Since I don't feel like doing actual work this morning, I decided I'd look them up (using wikipedia and a couple of online dictionaries).

The word "republic" comes directly the French and its most basic meaning is a state in which supreme power rests in the people. There are some modification to this definition in modern usage making the best definition I've found to be: a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. Additionally, the head of state can not be a monarch, although the United Kingdom can, as a constitutional monarchy, be considered one type of republic. As you can already see, definitions of political systems can be complex and confusing.

The word "democracy" is derived from the Greek meaning rule of the common people. Key parts of the modern definitions include majority rule, free elections, and the power of the people. Most modern democracies are representational, where the power of the people is exercised by their representatives and not the individuals personally. Most people think of Athens as the first democracy but the Athenian government would probably not fit the description of a democracy by those same people. The number of "citizens" was relatively small (between 10-15% of all residents) and not all had the same vote. Additionally, Athens would be a direct democracy (if one at all) and most modern democracies are representational.

From my (not vast) reading the USA is a federal and constitutional republic. We can also be said to have a mixed government/constitution. Some other would say we are a capitalist republic (Marx's "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie"), but those would be people who aren't fond of our economic system. In terms of democracies, we are a representative, or more specifically a liberal democracy. (Please note that almost all of the world's government's refer to them selves as republics and/or democracies, whether anyone else would define them as one or not.)

That brings an end to my lesson on types of governments. Regardless of how one names the government, a representational government requires an educated electorate or it will become an oligarchy, ruled by the those already in power and their hand picked successors.

02 October 2007


My sister says "With my luck...." and means it. We all (or most of us anyway) have at one time or another said "with my luck [something bad will happen/continue to happen]" but most of us aren't serious. It is more of a expression of frustration or defeat than of actual belief. My sister seems to believe it. A friend of mine (and her co-worker) likened my sister to Eeyore. Now she may be the "office Eeyore", but his description of her and how she is like Eeyore didn't sit well with me.

Sis will tell everyone, and just about anyone, everything that is going wrong in her life from not getting off the days she requested to her car being reposed. And she often acts/talks like somehow the world is out to get her. These traits would make her a source of depressing conversation but that doesn't make her depressed and Eeyore isn't paranoid.

Eeyore is in the grips of a serious depression. He doesn't think the world, or anyone in it, cares about him. In order for the world to be out to get you, it has to know you are alive. He is genuinely surprised when people do nice things for him. (One of his Disney-catchphrases is "thanks for noticin' me.") He doesn't expect good things to happen or anyone to care. He doesn't want to bother other people. He just sits in his house of sticks and ponders things*. I should know I strongly identify with Eeyore. (or as he spells it Eor.)

I tried to convince my friend that I'm more like Eeyore than my sister but he wouldn't have any of it, then our movie started and conversation ceased in favor of Halle Berry, Bruce Willis and Taco Bell.

*Please note it has been a while since I read any A.A. Milne or watched Winnie-the-Pooh on TV (or movies) so my impressions may be inaccurate and colored towards the Disney version watched more recently. Wikipedia actual has a nice, I think, description of Eeyore and the British-ness of his personality. And while I'm on the subject, I generally prefer Shepard's illustrations (or the other early renditions) and the "classic Winnie-the-Pooh" over Disney's except I do like the blue-grey of Eeyore's coat of the Disney marketed items. (BTW, Pooh should not be bright yellow, but honey-gold)